Tools for Tuesday – Why you need a QR code in your next book marketing campaign


I can almost hear many of y’all: “What the hell is that?” Others have probably seen them in newspaper or magazine ads and just didn’t recognize them or didn’t care. But these symbols, that look like a cross between a digital crop circle and the aftermath of the Apocalypse on a Pac-Man maze, are actually the link that could get readers to become Your Biggest Fans. Interested? Thought so.

The symbol above is actually called a “QR code.” QR stands for “Quick Response” and they allow people with smartphones equipped with QR code readers (which are free apps BTW) to scan a print ad with said phone and immediately get whisked away to whatever cyberspace spot that is linked to the code. QR codes can also launch emails, add events into the phone’s calendar, and send business card information directly into the phone’s contact list. Created in 1994 by a Japanese subsidiary of Toyota as a two-dimensional bar code for tracking parts during the manufacturing process, QR codes have been around for a long time is Asian countries. Finally, they are gaining enormous momentum here in the USA and me thinks they are here to stay. Why? Let’s take a look at the numbers from a recent blog:

“The opportunities for QR codes are skyrocketing:

  • 80%+ U. S. consumers own mobile phones
  • 28% of those phones are smartphones
  • 71% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code
  • Consumers who have scanned QR codes tend to be older, well-educated, and have incomes above the national average.”

Now, on that same NDF blog post, you’ll see pics of these codes on a newspaper ad, house for sale sign, and even on the side of a building. So, why not slap one on your bookmarks and business cards? Then, the next time you’re at a signing or event, people can scan your QR code right there and visit your website, your next event could get entered into their calendar, or they could purchase your ebook in seconds! Oh, and don’t forget that you can even incorporate a secret word into the code that will give the reader a discount when they order said book. Wunderbar!

I’ve mentioned Next Day Flyers before on the blog because I think they are the Motts when it comes to printers. 5,000 high quality, color on both sides, bookmarks for around $165? Try to beat that deal. Plus, their website is top-notch as far as a one stop shop for marketing info. You gotta check out their social media archive!  

Thoughts? Opinions on the future of QR codes? Have you used one yet? Would you in the future? Have you stared at one for a long time thinking it was one of those 3D puzzles that reveals a dolphin or unicorn after a while?

To the keyboards!


Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose first non-fiction proposal just went out for consideration to a few NY houses! Fingers crossed! The Brink is my latest fiction offering and here’s what some folks are saying about it:

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“He’s the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

 The Brink is now available as an eBook for Kindle  and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

 Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 12, 2010

Day 59 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Getting inspired part III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D
  • Marketing Topic –  marketing genius or foul play?

Writing topic – Getting inspired part III – in 3D! only if you have a computer screen that does 3D

Like Jaws 3, some tales just don’t need 3D. Like Jaws 3 and Rocky 5, some tales shouldn’t be told at all. But here is one franchise that I hope goes on and on and on.

Case in point is the Vidocq Society, a group of detectives, forensic experts, and journalists that have been meeting once a month for 20 years. They meet at an old Victorian dining room in the middle of Philadelphia to eat lunch and solve crimes that have perplexed investigators for decades. There was a story about them on NPR today, which has a fantastic book review page on their site. Talk about inspiration. Again, this is for the mystery/suspense/thriller crowd, but killers are people too, right? You romance novelists could find some kind of quirky character in here somewhere.

Marketing Topic – Selling to everyone you meet – marketing genius or social faux pas?

Again, before we get into the marketing topic for tonight, I’ll do a little shameless self promotion and let you know I have two signings this weekend, one at the Dallas Uptown Borders on Friday, Aug 13 from 5-7pm and the other at the Mesquite Borders on Saturday, Aug 14 from 3-5pm. Hope you can make it.

Is there such a thing as too much promotion? Should you shove your business card, or in our case, your bookmark into every hand attached to every person you meet? Should you take said bookmarks to any and every public outing/event/party/meeting that you attend so when that inevitable question comes up when you meet someone new, “So what do you do?” You can whip out that trusty bookmark and SMACK! “There’s your answer, sir or madam. I am writer! Hear me type! Now read my damn book!” Or do you simply say, “I’m a writer,” and mention your website, only to have the site address get lost in the frontal lobe of your new acquaintance in record time.

John Grisham once said that writing is a business. In business you sell. If you’re new to selling, you read books on selling. I’m currently reading one titled How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Greatest Salesman.” Why not start with advice from the top, right?

I don’t think Girard, who sells cars, would look down at the passing out bookmarks to everyone you meet. After all, here’s a guy who at sporting events throws up handfuls of his business cards whenever people get up to cheer (p.63) Odd? Maybe, but if you’re looking through the ROI (return on investment) lens, he’s already at the game, and if one person buys a car from a card they pick up, that’s probably around a $35,000 car (with a commission to him in the high hundreds or even a couple thousand dollars) from a few bucks worth of business cards.

Remember, most of the people that you meet can read. Why shouldn’t they be reading your book? No reason. Giving them a bookmark is simply a tangible reminder of what you do, same as a business card. A bookmark is simply a business card for writers, and business cards are always being passed between people at initial meetings. So I say stock up on bookmarks and go for it!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  


Here’s your chance to rip apart a book marketing campaign and caress its beating heart

July 23, 2010

 Day 42 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  •  The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way
  • The Hastings Incident
  • Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way

 “Libraries will be extinct by 2020.” That’s what North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) Executive Director and self-proclaimed futurist Adam Wright said during his keynote speech at the NTRLS conference in Decatur, Texas this past Saturday. He was paraphrasing what fellow futurist Richard Watson had said regarding the future of libraries. There has to be some strong opinions on this one. So here’s your chance to sound off in the comments! And speaking of extinction of things, Watson’s extinction timeline is on fellow lover of libraries Christine Rooney-Browne blog.

 As far as the conference went, I suggest, fellow book-writers, run, don’t walk to your local library, do whatever it takes to get your librarian to contact their regional local library supporters group on your behalf and wrangle up a table at their conference. There was so much good information, from using social media to promote books, to promoting things on a shoestring budget. Here’s the link to the site where they have all the presentations posted. Most of it is for library staff, but those same ideas can be used for us writers as well.

While I was at the conference (I had a table there with a display of my books, bookmarks, and a flyer titled “Have a Local Author talk to your group! Here’s the flyer pic:),


I used that old fashioned, outdated, and “extinct” form of communication, you know, the actually holding of another person’s hand and shaking it while I hold their gaze with my own and engage in small talk and witty conversation to build a relationship. I know, sounds crazy these days doesn’t it? But I talked to 9 different representatives of libraries and Friends of Library groups that want to have me come and talk to them about my experience as a writer. That means that 9 meetings where I can sell books.

Don’t forget about your local library when you’re putting together your marketing plan. They are a valuable resource. And I think most of them will still be around after 2020.

The Hastings Incident

Book signings are like kids – no matter how hard you try to make them turn out right, sometimes, for reasons beyond your control, they just don’t turn out the way you want them to. Okay, so that’s a little bit on the “epic” side of things, but what I’m trying to say is that sometimes book signings go bad.

Case in point, my Hastings signing in Denton, Tx was not a success. I sold one book to a nice lady who wasn’t that much into political thrillers, but I told her how there were clues to the mystery in The Brink hidden in the front cover. Actually, they aren’t hidden in the cover, they are right there plain as day, but the important thing is that she thought that was cool.

 There are two take away’s from my failure:

  1. It wasn’t actually a failure because I must have passed out 30 bookmarks. That’s 30 people who may go online and preview it then decide to buy it, or by the ebook, or pass the bookmark to a friend who likes political thrillers.  
  2. Case the joint better than I did. Hastings is primarily a music store that sells some new books, but also buys used books and sells them as well. Customers going there in a college town (University of North Texas is in Denton, Tx) are primarily college-aged, and want to buy music or a used book, not a full priced book by an author they probably haven’t heard of. I should have done my research better and I will next time I do a signing at an independent store.

 Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 I’ve already linked my blog to some blogs I think share some valuable info among us writers. Here’s a few more that I’ll link to:

  1.  John Scalzi’s Utterly Useless Writing Advice
  2. The Rejectionist – today’s post is all warm and fuzzy
  3. Next Day blog – good info on using social media. This is the company I used for my bookmarks (5,000 for somewhere around $160 – a hell of a deal)

 Ahead this week – a library parody of the Old Spice Guy (the power of viral) – and what does Amazon now selling more ebooks than regular books mean for us writers?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…