Dispatches from the literary trenches

September 21, 2010

Tonight’s Topic – Writing News Releases out the Wazoo

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve been pumping up the number of news releases that I’ve been sending out lately. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Almost on a daily basis, more information comes out from credible sources including Ron Paul, Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, and the Congressional Budget Office that the United States is in a severe financial crisis, and the main cause of this crisis is the country’s debt load, which is the foundation of the financial conspiracy in The Brink.
  2. I went back and re-read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR last week and was reminded that, for authors anyway, there is simply no better bang-for-the-buck promotional piece than the news release.
  3. My schedule of signings and appearances has ramped up lately, so I’ve got more news to release. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please visit http://markfadden.com/appearancesandpress.html for a schedule of upcoming events.

Remember fellow writers, you can write your own news releases (you’re writers after all, right?) and you can post them in blogs, on websites, on your Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari, and Good Reads pages. You can also email them to the local newspapers to see if they’ll give you some ink. In the case of doing a signing or an appearance in a local store or local library, those are great stories, and exactly the kind most community papers are looking for. If you’ve written a professional news release and included a high-quality pic (or several for them to choose from) then you’ve saved the reporter a couple hours work, something that is always appreciated in a business where deadlines are cast in stone.

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

“He’s 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 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 unique gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 26, 2010

Day 73 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books
  • Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books

I follow Nathan Bransford’s Blog. It is a fantastic resource for writers, has won many industry awards, and just has some great, and timely, topics. For example, today’s topic was on violence in children’s books. While he mentioned the Young Adult (YA) hit Mockinjay in his blog, he also invited people to comment about the topic. So I did. Here were my thoughts:

I’ve actually been wondering the same thing. Is there a line, but like anything else where you are making choices for others, who gets to draw it? And where does it stop? For my next novel, I want to combine a murder mystery with a coming of age story, which would be targeted for both the adult and YA market. Is murder too young for YA readers? What about something that, in my eyes, is just as bad, like rape? If so, then the classic To Kill a Mockingbird should be stricken from all the YA school reading lists across the country. Sadly, violence is something many kids experience every day. If these kids read about violence as part of a greater story, a story that digs deep into their inner thoughts, maybe then they can begin to understand the context behind it. More importantly, maybe they can read one of these books and finally understand the horrific sights they see every day or the scary sounds that lull them to sleep every night. It is only when we truly understand something like violence that we can truly escape it. And it is books that help us understand the world around us.”

As writers, it is our duty to push the envelope and to make people think. My approach is very laissez-faire, let writers write what they want. Ultimately, a book is like any other product, if it’s a good product and people want it, then it will do well in the market. If it’s crap, then the market will ignore it. As far as children’s books go, my thoughts about what children should read are the same about my thoughts on what they should be watching, where they should be hanging out, who their friends are, and how they’re doing in school: it’s up to their parents to decide what’s appropriate.

Thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

If you don’t know what Google Alerts are, they are free alerts you set up that will email you anytime the alert word or phrase is mentioned on the Internet. For example, if your name is Tom Jones, and you set up your Google Alert for the phrase, “Tom Jones” and you set it as an email alert every day, you’ll get an alert emailed to you every day with the link where the phrase “Tom Jones” was mentioned.

I did this with my name, “Mark Fadden.” However, as the Internet has been lighting up lately with buzz about the secret society that is in my latest novel, especially since Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro recently commented on it, I decided to create an alert for that group, “Bilderberg” and some of the phrases associated with them, like “New World Order” and “One World Government.”

How does this help you sell more books? Like David Meerman Scott stated in his social media bible The New Rules for Marketing and PR, news releases are a great way to promote your book. He also says to create a news release for anything newsworthy about your product or service. Well, what a better way to know what’s newsworthy about your product than if it’s being talked about in the news or blogosphere? Google Alerts to the rescue. And even if you don’t have the scratch to send out news releases on PRWeb everyday, you can put up new news releases that feature the info you culled together from your Google Alerts on your website (like I did on mine), in an email marketing campaign, or send it out to your local news outlets.

BTW, we will be covering getting the attention of local news outlets in one of next week’s blogs. Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get a front row seat as Mark Fadden blogs about his marketing hits and many misses on the way to sell 5,000 copies of his latest thriller, The Brink, in one year.

July 21, 2010

Day 37 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:

  • FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers  
  • More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

 FB ad round-up – let’s look at the numbers

The “economics” ad just a keeps on suckin’. Here’s the FB ad that was targeted at users who like economics:

 Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 And here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 1,072 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
07/20/2010 7,011 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14
07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 8,767 2 0.02 0.57 0.13 1.14

 I think folks from as far away as Russia (oh yes, according to my godaddy.com site analytics, I’m huge there) could probably smell the stench of failure on this ad. But, it’s staying up until the end of the week, because I said I would keep it going that long, and by Neptune’s trident I am a man of my word!

 Fortunately, my other ad is still going strong. Here’s the ad:

 Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 And here are the numbers as of 10:45pm tonight:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/21/2010 133,158 15 0.01 0.59 0.07 8.90
07/20/2010 87,886 36 0.04 0.56 0.23 20.00
Lifetime 221,044 51 0.02 0.57 0.13 28.90

 51 total in two days with 15 new today. The CTR % (click through rate) dropped off, but that’s to be expected since the same group (people who like books) are seeing it over and over (by the way, there are 560,900 people in that group). I asked the question last night how I can leverage the seeming popularity of this ad. I didn’t have a chance to give it much thought today, but it’s still pinging around inside the old melon.

 

More changes to the website and a preview to search engine optimization

I took the opportunity to look at my godaddy.com site analytics last night and saw something interesting. There was a steep drop in the number of visitors over the last few days. It started around the time I changed up the language on the site to reflect more of my personality, which sounded like fantastic advice coming from my social media Moses David Meerman Scott in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. So, to make the sight more fun, I sprinkled the site with what I thought were snarky, smart assed, and what I thought were funny comments here and there. But, when people are looking for at a thriller writer, they don’t want Flopso the Clown. Like I said in last night’s post, they are looking to you to solve their problem. They need a good book. They want a thriller to thrill them. They don’t want a thriller writer trying to be funny.

My website is something that I, like many other people that use primarily websites to broadcast their information, continue to struggle with. There are in the neighborhood of 124 million sites on the Internet and literally billions of web pages. We want to stand out and we stand out by providing great content. But how?

I was thumbing through the July/Aug issue of Inc. magazine today and it was like the editors were reading my mind. There in front of me was a whole pull-out section on website search engine optimization, or “SEO.” How to get your website seen! Drive more traffic to your site! Fantastic. I’ll need some time to really dig into it, so that’s hopefully a topic for tomorrow night. Until then… 

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to book marketing

It’s named “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of publishing a book, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It doesn’t mean squat that our book is on a bookstore shelf. It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we become a part of our readers’ lives. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year using mostly social media with a limited marketing budget. And this is an interactive blog, so if you have good marketing ideas, or want to critique mine whenever I do something stupid, let’s hear it! So, without further ado, let the madness continue…

Day 10 of 365

In this issue:

  • Say this 5 times real fast…would Wikipedia work well?
  • Editor? I don’t need no stinkin’ editor.  But, yes, really, we all do
  • Working the phones with Borders

Would Wikipedia work well?

Another idea from David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR (By now you probably think I get 50 cents every time I mention his book, but I don’t. I just think it’s one of those genius things that takes something complex, like social media, and makes it simple to understand), why not use Wikipedia to get your message out? For those of you who don’t know, Wikipedia allows regular folk like us to go in and update the entries if we see something missing or wrong. Now, I say get your ‘message’ because you can’t put in an ad or any direct marketing into your Wikipedia edit, but I wanted to at least show that, as a writer, I am associated with a certain Wikipedia subject.

Case in point, in my book The Brink, the secret society that’s causing all the chaos is known as The Bilderbergers. There’s a Wikipedia page on them, and one of the content chapters in the entry is titled, “Conspiracy theories” and it read as follows:

Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the group is frequently accused of political conspiracies. Critics include the John Birch Society, an American economic nationalist advocacy group,[21] Canadian writer Daniel Estulin, British writer David Icke, American writer Jim Tucker, politician Jesse Ventura and radio host Alex Jones. The Bilderberg Group was the topic of a 2009 episode of the TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura truTV – List of episodes for Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.

I went in and added a sentence about how I’m tied to that subject. Again, it’s not an overt sales pitch to buy my book, but rather letting folks know that I used the Bilderbergers as a conspiratorial group in my book. Here’s the new entry (I put my addition in bold):

Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the group is frequently accused of political conspiracies. Critics include the John Birch Society, an American economic nationalist advocacy group,[21] Canadian writer Daniel Estulin, British writer David Icke, American writer Jim Tucker, politician Jesse Ventura and radio host Alex Jones. The Bilderberg Group was the topic of a 2009 episode of the TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura truTV – List of episodes for Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. American novelist Mark Fadden also uses the Bilderberg Group as the sinister secret society that is planning global financial Armageddon in his latest book.

It was up for less than a day, and I got a message in my Wikipedia account stating the following:

Welcome to Wikipedia. If you are affiliated with some of the people, places or things you have written about on Wikipedia, you may have a conflict of interest. In keeping with Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy, edits where there is a conflict of interest, or where such a conflict might reasonably be inferred, are strongly discouraged. If you have a conflict of interest, you should avoid or exercise great caution when:

  1. editing or creating articles related to you, your organization, or its competitors, as well as projects and products they are involved with;
  2. participating in deletion discussions about articles related to your organization or its competitors; and
  3. linking to the Wikipedia article or website of your organization in other articles (see Wikipedia:Spam).

Please familiarize yourself with relevant policies and guidelines, especially those pertaining to neutral point of view, verifiability of information, and autobiographies.

For information on how to contribute to Wikipedia when you have a conflict of interest, please see our frequently asked questions for organizations. Thank you.   — Jeff G. ツ 04:13, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Markfadden

Hidden categories: User talk pages with conflict of interest notices

Oops. So I guess I messed up with my little blurb and that it’s a conflict of interest. I’ll look at some other Wiki pages and continue to research it, because the other names I see in there are all selling things associated with their critique of the Bilderbergers. But all of their links go to their Wiki pages. Maybe I need to create a wiki page for myself and go from there.  Any ideas from you guys?

Editor? I don’t need no stinkin’ editor.  But, yes, really, we all do

I’ll be brief with this point for two reasons: one, the first point in tonight’s blog was so damn long and two, the most important thing I learned from my editor is that brevity is essential to a good read. Everyone needs an editor. So, donate your plasma, cut some neighbors lawns on the weekends or do whatever you can to get the money together for a good editor. Because while we think everything makes sense in our mind, it’s just that, it’s in our mind and only in our mind. We need someone to take the manuscript for a spin and let us know what the thing needs to get it running on all eight cylinders. The editor that I used, who my agent Tris Coburn recommended, is Mark Graham. He’s edited it all – novels, screenplays, non-fiction – and he’s a ghostwriter as well. Plus, he’s extremely intuitive about what you’re trying to do. He whittled The Brink down from a 670-page retired heavyweight sucking on Krispy Kremes to a lean, 425-page middleweight contender with lighting in his fists. Plus, and this is a big part of it, he’s a likeable guy. He truly loves words and truly wants to help you get your best effort onto the page.      

Working the phones with Borders

After the success of my signing on Saturday at my local Borders, I took about 2 hours today and contacted every other Borders within a 50 mile radius (there are 10 of them) to schedule a book signing. I was able to schedule two over the phone on the spot, several of them told me the event person was not working that day and to call back and the rest need me to email them a marketing package (examples of all docs in that package are in blog post #2 dated June 15, 2010). It’ll probably take me another hour to customize those packages for each store and then another 30 minutes to call the other stores back and schedule signings so let’s call it 4 hours worth of work to hopefully schedule signings at every Borders store in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Well worth it since signings are where we get to sell to book lovers face to face. Again, if you became a writer to hide behind a computer screen all day, then you’re in the wrong business. Writers need to talk to people, because that’s what fans are…people. And without fans, writers can’t put food on the table.