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Posts from the ‘MARKETING’ Category

Ad Copy Is Not Rocket Science (Blurb Workshop IV*)

I should know; I flunked out of rocket science as a major, but I manage to do okay at writing blurbs!

Consider the following a basic primer in blurb writing; I am no master or guru, but while all my author friends are putting out their 5th or 15th story, I am putting out my 35th blurb attached to it. And with enough practice, you can get skilled at something. Read more

Needing Traction

I spent some time on Saturday in a large plastic water-tank (about 6000 gallons) – A tank I had inadvertently put a crack into, and was now trying to weld. The tank has been used for at least 20 years to pump muddy dam water uphill to allow garden irrigation pressure – so it had more than a token amount of silty mud in it, and we couldn’t drain the last of the water out.

We tried leverage and to use a suction cup glass transporter to pull the edges of the crack into alignment – but alas, it didn’t handle the convex surface well, and it required more force than the suction could handle. So it had to be dealt with from the inside. Read more

Publishing’s Crystal Ball – Slightly Cracked?

What will 2019 hold for authors and publishers? Change. What sort of change? Ah, there’s the rub… Read more

Endings and Beginnings

This week, in between more amusing activities involving a five-year-old on a trampoline and a suddenly mobile baby trying to eat the Christmas tree decorations, I’ve been adding front and back matter to A Revolution of Rubies in preparation for formatting and publishing. Usually I put a teaser for the next book in series at the back, but this time there isn’t a next book in series. I could put the start of the Regency fantasy that’s up next, or the first chapter of the upcoming series that’s kind of a spin-off from this one… or I might do something completely different.

I’ve noticed that a lot of books now have a list of Book Group Questions at the end. I can see the benefit from the publisher’s point of view – getting a book picked up by a discussion group has to be great for sales – but most of the questions seem to be written by literary types who are all about symbolism and subtext and not at all interested in storytelling and having fun. So I had a crack at creating my own BGQ’s for A Revolution of Rubies. And concluded that I’m no good at this; most of these questions are only fun before you’ve read the book. Oh, well. I guess I’ll put a teaser for Salt Magic at the end of the book, after all. Meanwhile, enjoy:

1.    Thalia and the rest of the Center for Applied Topology have been sent to Europe to ingratiate themselves in diplomatic circles so that they can help bug the homes and offices of the diplomats. What could possibly go wrong with turning a bunch of topologists loose among diplomats? What couldn’t go wrong?

2.    Would you steal a woman’s borrowed rubies in order to get access to her niece’s paranormal abilities? Wouldn’t you even wonder about the wisdom of provoking someone who can become invisible and walk through walls?

3.    If a foreign agent and a woman with serious skills in card manipulation walk into Casino Barcelona, who’s going to have to borrow cab fare home?

4.    Lensky flatly forbids Thalia to try using her paranormal abilities in certain contexts. More than once. Whatever could have given him the illusion this would work? Will the handcuffs do it?

5.    A Revolution of Rubies takes place in Paris, Barcelona, and the imaginary Central Asian country of Taklanistan. Talk about these places from Thalia’s point of view, with particular attention to the various forms of chocolate-enhanced snacks available in each one.

About those Kindle categories

A week ago I finished the first draft of what I’m provisionally calling A Trail of Dragon Scales, and this time I’m doing something a little bit different after that. The first couple of days went as usual: a euphoric sense of accomplishment, slight mystification about why nobody is having a parade for such a fine fellow as I am, the dawning realization that we don’t actually have any champagne… After a few days of trying not to break an arm patting myself on the back, usually I pull up my socks and get started on the next book.

But if you count Dragon Scales – and I do, because it doesn’t appear to need any structural editing, just the usual reading and re-reading for minor fixes – I currently have four completed books in the publication queue. Even I can’t create a sense of urgency about finishing another one in the next couple of months. And the next book isn’t helping out with that, either: there’s this one major theme and resolution floating around in my head, surrounded by huge gaping bubbles of nothing where the rest of the plot ought to be.

And, you know, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Cookies to bake, grandchildren to spoil, all that good stuff.

So I made an Executive Decision: any time I’ve got four books waiting for proofreading and covers and formatting, I’m taking a month off.

That worked fine for the week of babbling idiocy that frequently follows a prolonged writing push, but I started getting twitchy yesterday and revised the plan. Okay, for the rest of the month I will spend half an hour each day fishing around in my subconscious for the rest of that missing plot, and I will do… something… about marketing and promotion every day. Follow up on some of those programs that are recommended for tracking sales or picking keywords or whatever, evaluate some promotion sites, learn how to do Amazon ads. Whatever. I’m just trying to tame the general topic, which right now looks to me like a writhing mass of tentacles straight out of Cthulhu, into… well, at least into a collection of subtopics that can be addressed one at a time. Each of which will, most likely, also look like a writhing mass of tentacles, but you have to start somewhere, right? Read more

Marketing, Promotion, and Other Bad Words

I saw a book recently I’d like to buy, possibly. But there’s a problem. I just bought two books, haven’t had time to read them yet, and I’ve maxed out my book budget for the month. Drat. Oh, well, I have more books in my to be read list than I can possibly read in the scant free time I have… driving on.

Then I sat back and thought it through. As a reader, this was a ‘oh, that looks neat, can’t do it, no worries,’ kind of moment. If I were that author, though. If I were that author, I’d just have lost a sale and I’d have no idea why. Now, here’s the thing: it’s absolutely not the author’s fault. There’s nothing wrong with the cover. It fits the genre and attracted me as it is signaling genre I enjoy reading. The blurb is intriguing without being too revealing. The lead-up post that got me to link through to the book was funny if wordy, but suitable to audience. What went wrong with this potential sale was all on my end. The timing was off. Read more

Anyone Awake Yet?

So, those of us in the US are starting to awaken from the postprandial slumber induced by the gastronomic delights and excesses of Thanksgiving. Maybe.

It is time to think about holiday and post-holiday marketing and what will happen after this fiscal quarter wraps up.

A few predictions: 1) The management of Barnes and Noble will do their best to make the holiday sales look excellent and to make the fourth quarter’s numbers look beautiful. And if they are not, they will blame the ‘Zon.    2) Amazon will have a decent fourth quarter and will [one hopes] get the kinks worked out of the Amazon Print system that has replaced CreateSpace.  3) The Big Five will not be pleased about e-book sales, but will happily announce that people are returning to print books and all will be well, no need to panic, nothing to see here, move along. And just ignore the little voice behind the curtain reminding people that children’s books tend to be print, so the kids can have something to hold and unwrap (and chew on).

In other words, the sun will rise, birds will sing unless they are shivering too hard and their beaks are chattering, and people will buy stuff in November and December.

Do you, those who are planning to sell or have a special holiday sale, have everything ready to go?  You should at least have dates and titles sketched out, how much you are lowering prices and why. Is it to hook readers on your series? Is it to kick sales of your latest release(s) into higher gear to get word-of-mouth and reviews before the post-Christmas buying surge? Is it to gain visibility for a series that you are picking up again with fresher covers and new releases? What are your goals, what sales do you want to see, how are you going to discount and in which markets?

For new releases, what dates do you have to meet? Apple sent out their deadlines two weeks ago. I have not seen hard deadlines from the ‘Zon yet, and I’d plan on having everything ready by no later than December 5 for Kobo, in case they have another short-notice software and hardware update between December 18-January 7 as happened in 2013-14. I was not the only writer dismayed to find myself locked out of getting books approved that year.

Now that you are thinking that a turkey coma relapse might be good, let’s do something really scary…

Readers, when do you buy books for gifts and how often? My family is big on books as gifts, both for adults and kids. We used to do the combo packs of book and stuffed animal, but dust allergies and a new puppy precluded that. I’m 100% in favor of giving kids and older children print books, as well as gift cards for e-books. Luddite that I am, the less screen and the more page, the better I think it is for the under 13 cohort.

Do you give fiction or non fiction? Or do you give gift certificates and cards so people can pick for themselves?

My big point is that as readers and as writers, we look at the fourth quarter and books differently. We writers need to put on our reader hats and think about how we sell during this time, or if we would do better to avoid the December Crush and focus on the entire year. We don’t depend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as much as others, thanks be, but it is a good time to get Eyes On Books for the future.

Me? I’m going to release the third Shikari book in December, and have plans to launch the fourth one in January or February. I also have two Merchant books to polish and get ready, and the last Colplatschki title. As for marketing and sales, well, you’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Edited to add: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4224316-barnes-and-noble-needs-turnaround-expert

Because fake-fur-lined reading socks are not going to be enough to save the books. No, I am not kidding. They are the first display when you walk into the regional B&N.