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…  

So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get an insider’s look at a book marketing campaign using social media.

July 23, 2010

 Day 39 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 – the goose egg X 3
  • Library conference networking
  • Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 FB ad round-up – the goose egg X 3

 All three FB ads laid the big goose egg today. I don’t even want to talk about it.

 Library conference networking

Tomorrow is the big North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) conference and I’m very excited. This is a chance to meet the movers and shakers of all the libraries in North Texas. So, what have I done to prepare?

First, I have a table at the conference and while I can’t sell copies of my books, I am using this opportunity to promote the book AND most importantly promote myself as an author. We will do the full recap on Monday, but in the meantime, here are the things I’m doing:

  1. Handing out as many bookmarks as I can. I was going to design a bookmark suit where people could just pull off bookmarks themselves, but that would be a little too obvious on the shameless self promotion o’ meter.
  2. There are going to be several lectures and workshops and I will attend them all, acting like a sponge and trying to absorb as much info as I can. I’m especially looking forward to the social media workshop and I will post all the exciting news.
  3. Here’s a copy of the flyer I created to hand out at my table. Again, I’m not selling books here, I’m selling myself as an author in the trenches who can share his experience with others that these folks know (book club members, other writers) that I can give a lecture to. Again, talks and lectures are great ways to sell books:

 I’ve also got a signing in Denton, Texas tomorrow at Hastings from 6-8pm, so if you’re in Denton, I’ll be at the Loop Hole Tavern enjoying a beer with my chicken fried steak beforehand. Swing by before going to the signing and the first round’s on me.

 Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 By now, some of you are probably saying, “Mark, all this work you’re doing is great, but it seems like an assload of work for not very much return. Why not do a video that goes viral with millions of views?”  Great idea. And I’m working on it. In fact, we all should. To inspire you, here are two that went viral and got millions of views:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUEcG4iH34 – Banned 2007 Super Bowl Bud commercial

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI – Double Rainbow – Oh My God!!! He’s really excited about the double rainbow.

 So, what can you make that will make millions watch? Ponder that one over the weekend and we’ll talk again Monday night with results of the library conference.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…