Marketing A Novel

Self Publishing – The road to success isn’t paved

A guest post by Jess D. Harpley. Seeing that I have yet to achieve success, I’m not sure I should write this post… but I will anyway. Self publishing is easy. You write the thing, you log in to Amazon, you upload the thing, you press the publish button. Successful self publishing is a nightmare of frustration and heartache. Here’s why: 1. If you didn’t already have a massive Twitter following, you need to grow one. Much easier said than done, and sure, you can buy the “follower” services, but they just hack people’s accounts and force them to follow your page. As soon as the person realizes, they’re going to unfollow you and change their password. You first need to start following people in your genre, hopefully they’ll do you the good ...

Amazon’s Data Mining of Novels

I find data-mining as interesting as the next person. On any given day, you’ll find me clicking into the results of surveys about consumer habits, in any number of categories. I do this for reasons that are as unnecessary as they are ambiguous. Being from Washington, DC, and having cut my political teeth at an early age, I know how much wiggle room – and wishful thinking – is spun into the cloth of marketing data and rankings. So much of it is subjective: how the questions are asked, who is contacted, the size of the group, etc. Increasingly, companies are finding new ways to harvest and apply information extracted through data mining their customers. Amazon, for example, uses the amount of ebook pages read by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, and the pace of that reading, in order to determi...

Independent Bookstore Day is Here!

Writers need readers. Writers are readers. Readers need books. This Saturday, April 29th, keep your book buying local and participate in Independent Bookstore Day. The event is nationwide and many small shops are participating. New books, old books, traditionally published, indie published – it’s all out there and yours for the buying. If you’ve been saving up to splurge on a stack of new reading material, now is the time, book lovers. As writers, we never know what experience will seed the plot of our next book, or what stranger will shape a character that will drive readers positively wild with anticipation. And, anyway, what better place to hunt for ideas than in a bookstore? On Saturday, carve out some time from your day to go book shopping. Bring a friend and make an afternoon adventu...

Writers, Start Building Your Brand Early!

One of the great challenges for an indie author is dividing time between actual writing and marketing. And I would argue that the same goes for writers who are as yet unpublished. Sometimes, I like to think about giants like Joyce, Fitzgerald and Nabokov. How did those guys do it? Most likely, not at all—or very little. The work spoke for itself. But, hey, we’re talking about us. What are we supposed to do? If I had to pick one person from history to travel forward in time and demonstrate how it’s done, it would have to be Mark Twain. That guy knew brand, and I’m sure he would do very well using Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Can you imagine? Here are a few of his most famous quotes. And look—they fit so nicely into 140 characters! All right, then, I’ll go to hell. I didn’t attend the fu...

Storytelling and the Campfire

I notice as I comb through the self-published e-books on Amazon that a good number of the offerings are autobiographies. Non-fiction. People writing about their own lives and experiences. About their own adventures, misfortunes, and triumphs. It occurs to me that perhaps the meteoric rise in self-published works has turned the Kindle into the modern campfire. Only, instead of sitting together, elbows and knees touching, with firelight twinkling upon eager faces as those gathered wait for the storyteller to begin, we now tell our own, deeply personal stories to a computer screen. As wonderful as it is to a reach a larger audience than would be possible without the Internet, I can’t help but wonder what is being lost, sacrificed, in return. When eye-to-eye with other humans, it is possible t...

Good-bye, Facebook. I’m Hitting The Road!

I’ve pinned down what it is that bothers me most about Facebook, and it’s this: the lack of context. As a novelist, I work to build a reader’s interest one layer at a time, using a combination of actions (story) and context (backstory). Indeed, context frames every event and every character that finds its way onto an author’s page. It can be slow going, building that framework, but I think of the process as being along the same lines as building friendships. Most often, a friendship naturally evolves over time as knowledge is gained about one another through shared new adventures, or through the retelling of past ones. Is it all that different, coming to know a fictional character as one might a friend? I think of a novel series as being the equivalent of a television series, a way o...

I am my characters

People often comment on how “real” my characters are and they ask me how I create such believable heroines. I suppose it is because most of my work is grounded in reality. My characters are not me but some of their struggles, particularly with men, come from my own struggles—even if I don’t realize it until after the book is released. Take for instance, Stephanie Cohen in Just Friends with Benefits. Stephanie is an attractive, intelligent, funny and interesting woman but she often refuses to acknowledge what is right in front of her. Rather than take things at face value, she will analyze things Ad Nauseum. And often, she will draw the conclusion that favors her own desires. In a word, she is a bit delusional. I cannot begin to tell you how much time I have wasted wondering what a guy was ...

TLC, Twitter, and (Very) Smart Marketing

Back in October, on the season premiere night of Long Island Medium, TLC decided to try a new marketing strategy, one involving Twitter.  A few days before the big event, I happened to catch the promos, and they advertised two things: –          a live commentary from Theresa Caputo during the premiere’s commercial breaks (it’s her show) –          a chance to win free readings from Theresa through a live Twitter contest being held during the show’s premiere. Thanks to the magic of DVR, I zip through a lot of the television programs I’ve recorded while logging miles on my treadmill, usually in the mornings. But for a real-time Twitter contest happening on national television, I was about to make an exception. Twitter is my darling. I am always keen on learning about new ways to...

Spanx Me, NaNoWriMo!

Forget “March Madness.” Instead, make it “March Marketing Madness.” As part of all this basketball craziness, I recently filled out my bracket for the family pool. I’m not doing well; I think even my sister-in-law’s grandmother is ahead of me. Still, there is value in participating in creative activities outside of one’s normal comfort zone, and staring at all those match-ups got me thinking about business. In “March Marketing Madness,” the sports teams are replaced by companies. The purpose of the competition is to pair them up with other businesses or organizations to develop a brand new marketing initiative that combines each one’s products and/or services. The only requirement is that the new marketing initiative both involves and benefits self-published and indie-published writers.  I...

Thwarting my Laptop

My tiny hand-me-down laptop gave me the good ole Blue Screen of Death a few weeks ago. I loved working on the thing because, honestly, the screen was so small, it was unpleasant doing just about everything but typing on it. Web surfing was clumsy, and every window I opened was scrunched up and cramped for space. But Word was a wide, open expanse, free of excuses. Then, the BSOD. I made a few attempts to fix it, then passed it off to my husband for repair. In the meantime, I took to writing in my composition book, the one I usually just use to jot down a bit of dialogue or a paragraph that sneaks into my head right before sleep. Now I was writing whole sections longhand, and my nearly diminished callous swelled with pride at being useful once again. The laptop resisted all attempts to fix i...

Dialogue from the past can be a real pain in the…paragraph.

If you want to make Medieval, Renaissance or even characters from the age of Mozart believable, you have to be like a tightrope walker. Characters who say “thee” and “thou” can’t say also say “you” in the next sentence. Here is part of a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, born in 1340,  who wrote in Middle English. Book Of The Duchesse I have gret wonder, be this lighte, How that I live, for day ne nighte I may nat slepe wel nigh noght, I have so many an ydel thoght Purely for defaute of slepe That, by my trouthe, I take no kepe Of no-thing, how hit cometh or goth, Ne me nis no-thing leef nor loth. Al is y-liche good to me — Ioye or sorowe, wherso hyt be — For I have feling in no-thinge, But, as it were, a mased thing, Alway in point to falle a-...

The Writing Process

I had dabbled in writing since maintaining a food blog for over six years. Tackling a novel is a whole new ballgame. Wait, let me backtrack a little. I’ve always been a dreamer. I remembered my early childhood when my father always scolded me for being absent-minded. Even then I would think up scenarios in my head and appear to be lost in my own world. In high school, I even started on a science fiction novel which I, unfortunately, abandoned. I grew up learning and speaking three languages. You can just imagine how confusing that can be when it came to writing. Fortunately, I only had to do composition in two of them. I did well in my English courses in high school, but when I headed off to college and took up an Engineering degree, I got rusty in composition. When I started writing a foo...

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