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…  

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 23, 2010

Day 70 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?
  • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords – the only constant is change

Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?

I was actually going to talk about the topic, “Should novelists try to educate through their work?” But after going back through old posts, I realized we already covered that one. But as I was researching one of the greatest ‘teaching novels,’ To Kill a Mockingbird, I came across a fascinating word: bildungsroman. The official definition of bildungsroman in Wikipedia is, “is a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood.” We Americans refer to it as the ‘coming of age’ story. Now, the YA genre is filled with novels dripping with bildungsroman: the aforementioned To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson novels, and Great Expectations, just to name a few. But, does that mean that it must only occur in YA novels? I never found the German word for adult novels where the characters also “come of age” during the story, but as I thought about it, I’ve always connected with those characters that mature psychologically and morally during the story. What about you? Are the flawed heroes your favorite? What are the books that contain their stories?    

Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, the only constant is change

Last week, I started doing ads on Google AdWords. As I mentioned in a previous post, while Facebook allows you to include a pic with your ad, Facebook doesn’t track which keywords are working for you, and which aren’t. Facebook only allows you to send your ad out to one group of people, say ones that listed, “reading” as a hobby. With Google, you can get really specific. For example, my ad last week was:

The keywords I listed, in order from most to least clicked were: “double-dip recession” 7 clicks; “financial crisis” 4 clicks; “award winning thriller” 2 clicks; “best political thrillers” 0 clicks; and “US bankrupt” 0 clicks. My daily budget is $10, and I have a maximum bid of $1 per click.

I’m changing up the ad and the groups of people that will see it.

Here’s the new ad:

The Bilderberg Group, which is the secret society referred to in the novel, has been in the news lately. Both Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro are talking about them. Anyway, I’ve changed the keywords associated with this new ad to “Bilderberg”; “Bilderberg Group”; “New World Order”;  and I’ve kept “financial crisis”; “award winning thriller”; and “best political thrillers.” I’ll have some new numbers for this ad in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, I’ve got to go play tooth fairy tonight. Anyone got a good idea about the going rate for the 2nd tooth?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…