Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

July 28, 2010

Day 44 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:

 

  • OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely
  • Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts
  • Marketing topic – The importance of keywords

 

OMG, I’ve gone viral! An example of what can happen when clever meets timely

 Earlier this week, I promised I’d show how the Old Spice video was linked to libraries. At a social media workshop given by Leanna Cowan of the Alvarado Public Library, Tina Hager of the Little Elm Public Library and Melissa Jeffrey of the Arlington Public Library, they showed the video below of the BYU library spoofing the Old Spice Super Bowl commercial:

 

 

Very clever, right? Now BYU obviously spent some bucks on the video, but I’m sure that if a writer were to put his or her mind to it, they could come up with something similar with low or no budget. I mean, just check out the parodies of the Beyonce video “All the Single Ladies” that I’m sure were produced on the cheap:

 

 

Writing topic – they say “write what you know” but really it’s still who you know that counts

 

This one’s for the mystery/thriller/detective writers. Most of the manuals out there say, “write what you know.” But I’m a firm believer in “know what you write.” For instance, I’m sure all the thriller and mystery writers are innocent of murder, yet they conjure up some of the goriest murder scenes humanly imaginable. How? While they didn’t kill someone, they imagine how to do it. They know what they write. But 9 times out of 10, they talked to someone who has seen grisly murder scenes to suspend their readers disbelief. So, how to do that? Simple. Talk to your friendly neighborhood police officer.

I was talking to a police officer today that knew I was a writer. He said he has always wanted to write a novel about what he’s seen over his 25 year career (It’s an item on his bucket list). Right there is a fountain of information for me and I am a resource for him about the writing process. Win-win, right? Every city and town has a police department. Chances are there’s a veteran there who has some great stories to inspire your writing. Go down to the department and see if you can do a “ride-along” with one of the officers. If they don’t offer that, see if you can join a civilian group that supports the police department. It will take a little time to network, but sooner or later you’ll be sharing war stories over a beer with one of your city’s finest that could be the plot to your next masterpiece.

 

Marketing topic – The importance of keywords

 

What’s a better keyword for people to find a novel in which America’s staggering national debt is used to produce global financial Armageddon: ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’? (BTW, if you’re new to this blog, that’s the gist of the plot from my latest thriller, The Brink) Do you think more people are searching for the term ‘national debt’ or ‘financial Armageddon’ these days?  

Keywords continue to mystify me, as they do most people. There’s an art to picking them and timing seems to be the most important part of using keywords.

How do you use keywords? We’d all love to know in the comment section.  

 

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 Flyers.com 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…