How’s the weather in your book?

Snowmageddon. The big chill. Artic freeze. Whatever you call it, it’s frickin’ cold. And that gets me a wonderin’…how do you use weather in your writing.

Authors have been using weather as a large part, even as one of the main “characters”, in fiction for a long time. The Wizard of Oz could have never happened without the twister. Same can be said for the movie Twister. More recently, how about The Day After Tomorrow movie and then there are all the Katrina novels: Storm Surge, Tubby Meets Katrina, and The Tin Roof Blowdown just to name a few.

With the ginormous artic train that’s run smack into most of the country stopping everything from school for the past three days in Dallas (Please, oh please let school be open tomorrow! The kids are about to take over the house!) to planes, trains and automobiles, keeping us from getting home or getting out of the house, weather is that one force in our lives that can’t be controlled, no matter how hard we try. Under the right conditions, aka a blizzard, a tornado, or a hurricane, the weather can ramp up the suspense, the thrills and action to make even the mundane, everyday chores seem like life threatening events.

So, like momma always said, never underestimate the weather. Especially in your writing. So whether you are facing snowmageddon, the big chill or an arctic freeze, if you go outside this week, don’t forget your mittens. Or if you’re staying inside, get to work on your next chapter. There’s nothing going on outside anyway.

**********************************************************************

Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

New Ereader? Download the eBook version of The Brink in seconds, for less than $8

Need a unique Valentine’s Day gift? Buy a signed copy of The Brink for the book lover in your life. 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING!

Work on your 2011 event calendar, post haste!

It’s time to get crackin’ on your 2011 schedule! Don’t get behind in 2011! Okay, that’s all I got for the butt jokes, butt seriously…

Have you started filling up your 2011 event calendar yet? If not, get to work for crying out loud. Your local book stores are probably dying for some signing traffic in the spring. Plus, I can guarantee the following conversation is happening around this time of year at your local library supporters/lions club/chamber board meeting:

“So who do we have on tap for speakers next year? We need to do something different.”

“Oh, there’s that guy who won the eating contest at Big Dave’s Hot Dog Hut!”

“No, he’s on tour with the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile.”

“Ooo, what about the lady that shoots herself out of the cannon? I hear she’s a motivational speaker now.”

“Let’s put her in the possible column.”

“Let’s do something really different. We’ve done the motivational speaker, the tax guy, the financial expert. Let’s do something that’s timely, that our members would really benefit from knowing more about. Something unique.”

Never fear, your friendly neighborhood “authorpreneur” is here! Not only would most people like to know more about the mysterious world of publishing (especially these days), I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Well, here’s your chance to talk about you and sell some books.

My advice is to start with scheduling presentations to civic groups in your town and move outward from there. In no time, 2011 will be booked and you can start working on 2012. Of course if you believe the Mayans, or John Cusak from the movie 2012, the world will end then anyway and we’re all wasting our time and should be out partying like Prince in 1999.

So, what about you? How are you planning to promote yourself in 2011?  

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Final day! The Brink by Mark Fadden goes BOGO!

Buy one signed copy for you, get one FREE as a gift. 

Order your copy at http://shop.markfadden.com

Jingle Bells, time to sell, before Black Friday’s here…

Picture it – people lined around the corner of the bookstore, waiting, hoping, crying, anticpating with sweat palms and hearts aflutter to get their hands on your latest book for Christmas. “I camped out for two nights, I dressed just like him, I live and breathe every word of his. I take off work to finish his novels in one sitting!” Those are the sentiments of the fans standing in that line. You are Stephen King, Dan Brown and John Grisham all rolled into one. You are… Stan John Bringham! Hey, that’s actually kind of a cool name.

Until this happens to you, you might want to think about what you’re doing to gear up for Christmas sales. Christmas accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual sales at many retailers. Like it or not, if you are an author, you are a business person, an entrepreneur. You should have a website that is the heart of your book marketing campaign and the soul of your author platform. It is where people go to not only find out about you, but can also buy your book. 

So, what are you doing to sell your book as a holiday gift? Are you trying to compete with the bog boys (Amazon, Borders) and slashing prices on your book? 20% off? 30%? 40%? Are you offering FREE SHIPPING? You should. Studies have proven that unless you offer free shipping, kiss your customer goodbye. I’m giving people 20% off the cover price AND free shipping on my latest novel, The Brink. If they buy more than 5 copies, they get an additional 10% off that bulk order. But I’m also offering something that Amazon and Borders can’t touch: my signature.

People buy, and more importantly collect signed books. They treasure their signed books. They keep them on their shelves when all the others get thrown in a box and sold at Half Price Books. The signed book is a memento. And it should be a huge piece of your book marketing campaign. Announcements about being able to buy a signed book should be tattooed on every page of your website. On mine, I have a seperate tab named, “Buy Signed Books.” When people click on it, they are taken to the shopping cart where they can even type in what they want me to write in the book (a great option for gift-giving “Tom, Merry Christmas 2010”).

In creating, a sticking with, a book marketing campaign, it’s all about being unique, distinctive. While your book is probably sold by many outlets, only you can sign it. Only you can give discounts you feel comfortable with. This Christmas, let your customers know that they’ll be a hero with a gift that is very personal, a signed book to the book lover in their life. You’ll have a fan for not just this holiday, but for life.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Get a signed copy of The Brink 20% off the cover price + FREE SHIPPING! Visit www.markfadden.com for more information.

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

It’s time to leave the Batcave and press the flesh

There are some really great blogs about writing, and more specifically, the art of marketing your writing. Case in point is today’s post from Eric at “Pimp My Novel.” Much like the Texas Rangers have been doing lately, he knocks it out of the park with his thoughts on networking. Writing may be art, but like John Grisham said, “never forget that writing is a business.” So, when was the last time you crawled out from behind your computer screen and did a little schmoozing?

I’ve taken the liberty to copy today’s PMN post here. It really is a great blog and if you’re not following it, you should.

Posted: 20 Oct 2010 07:00 AM PDT

In a perfect world, mes auteurs, the writing business (like all businesses, enterprises, systems, &c) would be entirely meritocratic: everyone would get a fair shake, the best writing would be selected for publication, and talent, discipline, and hard work would pay off regardless of extraneous factors like luck, emotion, nepotism, and social status.

Alas, dear friends, we do not live in a perfect world.

Because of this, you have to do something besides read great books and write great books if you want to increase your odds of getting published: you have to network. And, as the name might imply, networking is… well, work. Details? Why, sure, if you insist.

1. Networking is necessary. While some of you may have a strong negative—yea, perhaps even visceral—reaction to the prospect of spending any of your writerly energies doing anything apart from reading and writing, you need to understand that networking is a necessary part of the writer’s life.

Think of it this way: if you’re interviewing two candidates who are more or less identical on paper and equally impress you in person, are you going to go with the candidate who was initially recommended to you by your Most Trusted Bro, or the guy who walked in because he saw your ad on Monster.com? Exactly. And, unsurprisingly, agents think the same way. This goes back to what I was saying two weeks ago about who you know: there’s a certain amount of prerequsite what (read: good writing) you’ve got to have, and after that, it’s all who.

This is absolutely not to say that you must know someone in the industry in order to get published. All I’m saying is that the more people you know, the more doors you’ll open to opportunities that you might otherwise have missed by being an unknown quantity.

2. Chances are, you know someone. Think about the people you might have a connection to in the industry. Does your best friend have an agent? Is your fraternity brother working in the industry? Do you have friends of friends in mfa programs, literary agencies, independent book stores? Is your aunt a book conference junkie? &c &c. Make a list of the people who you could reasonably ask about the industry, representation, getting your foot in the door, and so on. I’m willing to bet you’ll come up with more than you might at first expect.

3. If it turns out you know no one, don’t despair. Okay, let’s say I’m wrong and you know absolutely no one in the industry (worse, you don’t even know of anyone who might even be related to the industry in the most tangential way). You’re not doomed if you query agents to whom you haven’t been recommended or haven’t met at conferences, so long as you follow their guidelines and send them a well-crafted query. In fact, if you get a “close, but no thanks” e-mail from one of them, you can refer to this if and when you query them with a different project down the line.

In the meantime—and if you can afford it—consider attending conferences, readings, workshops, and other literary events, and do your best to meet industry insiders (authors, agents, editors, librarians, sales(ahem)people, &c) and develop strong professional relationships with them. The publishing industry isn’t really as impossibly huge as you might think, and any given person who’s been in it for a few years will have a lot of connections that might come in handy when you’re trying to sell your book.

4. Relationships require upkeep. A quick note on the above: all relationships require work, and professional relationships (especially in this industry) are no exception. If your friend lands your dream agent, don’t let jealousy consume you: foster your relationship with that friend, ask about him or her, trade work, and hopefully down the line he or she will be able to help you get representation via recommendation to his/her agent, getting you in touch with an agent or editor who may be interested in your work, and so on.

The flip side of this issue is: don’t be creepy. Don’t reply to form rejections from agents in an attempt to be Super Best Bros. Don’t pitch your MS to agents or editors at/in inappropriate times/places (e.g. the bathroom at T.G.I. Friday’s). Don’t corner your friend of a friend’s girlfriend’s brother’s former roommate at a party because he once worked at a publishing house after college. You get the idea.

That’s all I’ve got for today, bros and she-bros. If you have any comments/questions/epiphanies/ideas/vitriol/profound insights/divine revelations, you know where to go.

See what’d I tell you? Great stuff.
BTW, I’m on vacation until Sunday, so we’ll pick up next week. Until then…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Get 20% off when you order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate unique gift at http://shop.markfadden.com/

 

Direct mail strategies to sell more books, or, really, anything

 

I know what you’re thinking, direct mail is so… done. It went the way of all relics from the 80s, like these two guys and that ‘Choose Life’ t-shirt that’s in the same box up in the attic with your leg warmers and Walkman.

But, a recent study by Exact Target showed that 76% of Internet users are influenced by direct mail when making a purchase online. While direct mail may not close the sale anymore, it can, at least, start the conversation and/or direct people where to go on the web to find you and the internet storefront that sells your books (or jewelry, or leg warmers that might just come full circle and be the next big thing.)

When you get some time, read the post about direct mail strategies on the nextdayflyers.com blog. I use NDF for all of my printing needs (bookmarks, postcards, business cards) Not only are they FAST printers, they have the best prices I have ever seen. (5,000 bookmarks for $165? No one can touch it) AND they have customer service that knocks the bell off every time.

If you’re thinking about doing a direct mail piece to advertise your book as a Christmas gift, now’s the time. It’ll take a few days to create it, and a couple weeks for the turnaround (unless you go the way expensive, overnight route on printing and delivery). That puts us in November. If your book is available at the online stores, it’ll take a week to 10 days for them to ship it out, and don’t forget that shipping gets backed up around the holidays. So let’s say 2 weeks. Yup. Go ahead and order your midnight oil right about now.

If you’re a numbers person, the conversion rate you should be shooting for in your direct mail campaign is 10%. That’s a really high rate, most only get 3-5%, but your goal should be high, right? So get cracking on creating that direct mail piece. You know you want to incorporate some wisecrack about the 80s in it now, don’t you?  That would be totally rad!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Get 20% off AND FREE SHIPPING when you order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate personalized gift at http://shop.markfadden.com/

Decreasing your bounce rate

Bounce rates are important. Don’t know what a bounce rate is? You should. In the words of John Grisham, “never forget that writing is a business,” and bounce rates are the heartbeat of today’s author’s online platform. Whether about a website or a blog, your bounce rate shows you the percentage of people who bounce off to other websites or blogs rather than surfing more content on your site or blog. Chances are if you have a high bounce rate (high percentage) then folks aren’t interested in your site and they aren’t interested in your book. If you sell copies of your book on your site (and you should) then a high bounce rate is an area of concern. As soon as you finish reading this post, you should go fix your site or blog to lower your bounce rate. Don’t know where to find your bounce rate? Check your site analytics or blog statistics information.

How to lower your bounce rate? I got these ideas from Karan Labra’s article on techfudge.net:

Target the right audience.

Bloggers tend to get high bounce rate because they may not be targeting the right audience. If you get visitors who aren’t looking for the content you provide then you give them no reason to stay on your site and navigate more. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you target the right people.


Know what your visitors expect.

If you are not able to provide what your visitors are looking for then they might not be concerned what else you have to offer. They will simply leave your page if they do not find what they were expecting . Just know what your visitors want and try to fulfill their needs.


Internal linking

Internal linking is a great way to keep your visitors preoccupied with your site rather than letting them think of visiting another website. Interlinking related pages is the best possible way to make your readers aware of the stuff you have to offer which interests them.

Well you can use different plugins like:


Modify your navigation.

Integrate your categories in the navigation itself and make it reachable by your visitors. This will allow them to lookout more content and help them stay on your site for longer.


Have a unique design

Having a unique design makes your blog distinguishable from other blogs and will help your visitors register it in their minds. Moreover the more appealing your design is the more readers will it attract. People would like to stay on your site for longer rather than visit sites with ugly layout and bad navigation.


Engage into discussions

Carrying out healthy discussions on your blog will make it look alive and will make new visitors engage into those discussions too. This will make them stay longer on your site and thus again help decrease the bounce rate.


My concluding words would be that, just keep investigating what your readers are looking for and provide what they are really searching for. Answering their real questions is the key to success. Be informative and helpful and you will see a significant improvement in your stats.”

Good advice, right? More good advice comes tomorrow night as I recap my meeting with the North Richland Hills Lions Club. There’s gold in them there unusual venues, fellow writers! I also got some great ideas on improving our author presentations to community groups. If you follow these steps, you should double your potential book sales. You won’t want to miss these ideas!

Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden] is the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

Signed books as the ultimate unique christmas gift

My last post was about having book signings in unusual venues. In keeping with that theme, I wanted to share where I’ll be tomorrow. I am giving a presentation on my books and on how to market books using social media to the North Richland Hills, Texas Lions Club. As most of you know, Christmas is less than 3 months away, 81 days and counting. Everyone and their mother will be looking toward Christmas to help add some black to their spreadsheets, and so should authors.

One feather we have in our cap is that we can offer people unique gifts. In fact, a personalized Christmas gift, the signed book, would be fantastic – and classified as one of the relatively cheap Christmas gifts out there – to give as a business gift. Therefore, as this Christmas rolls around, I will be offering signed copies of my latest thriller, The Brink, as the ultimate unique and personalized Christmas gift.

Let’s say that a salon owner wants to send a unique gift to her top 20 clients this Christmas. As authors, we can sign each book to each individual with “Merry Christmas 2010.” The salon owner can also affix her logo to the inside page across from the signature page. Every time the client shows the signed book to a visitor to his home or office, that visitor will see that it was a gift from the salon owner. Wallah, another prospective client not only sees this unique gift, but the story of how the client came to receive a signed book will be retold again and again, keeping the salon owner on the client’s mind. And with all the crap out there that we have to think about, staying in someone’s head (especially when you provide them a service) is critical.

Here’s the flyer that will be at each and every seat before the meeting starts tomorrow (along with a few bookmarks, of course). It allows people to sign up for my email database (very important) and purchase both individual books for themselves or as personalized Christmas gifts. It also allows them to make a bulk order for business gifts. Since we’re still a little bit away from Christmas, some people may not be ready to think about Christmas gifts just yet. That’s why I have the check box toward the bottom that will allow me to follow up with those folks at a later date to offer the Christmas gift bulk book deal again.

 Thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

****************************************************

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“[Mark Fadden is] the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

“Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com for less that $10 at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate one-of-a-kind gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html