A new marketing book to practice

Secrets to Effective Author Marketing: It's More Than

AUTHORS HAVE TO LEARN MARKETING

I’m reading a new book, Secrets to Effective Author Marketing, Maggie McVay Lynch, from Windtree Press.

It’s subtitled:

It’s More Than “Buy My Book”

I do not know the author, but it came in a bundle from a marketing author (among MANY other things) I DO know (not personally – from her website and a few replies she’s made to the odd comment I’ve made after one of her blog posts), Kris Rusch.

Kris has been extremely generous with her advice on her blog, so I figured the books in the bundle (including her new one, Creating Your Author Brand) would definitely be worth the investment.

I’m not selling you these books

Just telling you where I got the idea that is stuck in my head: how to follow the ideas in Secrets, and not just let them remain ideas in an ebook I’ve read and finished with.

Because the very first chapter struck up a resonance, and my first thought was, “How do I implement this?”

Two quick quotes should suffice:

If you can make a list of the experiences (emotions) your reader feels when reading your book( s) then you are most of the way to understanding what VALUE you have to sell.

If you can sell the value of your book as an experience then you have set a good foundation for marketing.

I am a writer. I create an experience for a reader, deliberately and with malice aforethought… I mean, on purpose.

I have that experience very much in mind (it’s one of my writing prompts for each and every scene) when I write a scene, but it had never occurred to me that I need to do the same thing when marketing.

Because marketing and writing have always been separate jobs, and the marketing has only become a big job for the writer this century, with the explosion of indie writing. Used to be your publisher did the marketing stuff, sent you (if you were so lucky) on a book tour you hoped would open in each bookstore with them having received a big box filled with your brand-new hardcovers.

People in the publishers marketing department wrote the ads, dealt with the media, found reviewers, marketed you and your book.

And I picked that up in my reading.

You can still see it in author bios that use the third person to speak of the author. It’s a lot awkward to do when you’re your own marketing department and copywriter.

It does put the writer into the nitty gritty commerce side of things (Ben Franklin printed and hawked his books), in effect, singing your own praise. More awkwardness.

It occurred to me, though, that I don’t have to – because I have a bunch of, ahem, perceptive reviews, and I can point to them as an external measure of how I possibly hit someone in the gut.

Without too much further ado: What did you feel?

Let me quote (and attribute) some of the reviews that address the question in Maggie’s book as to what emotions readers felt while reading Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – in their own words.

“This novel moved me to anger, compassion, exasperation, understanding and tears. All of these and more. The ending, for example, is something I will never forget. ” Colm Herron

“The author examines what makes us human–our generosity and pettiness, our passions and rationality, our sin and integrity. It’s a journey into heart and soul.” William J. Cook

“You are taken behind the scenes, literally, of the making of a Hollywood movie, and introduced to …wait for it…Penny the dessert girl. It’s the interaction of the big stars with HER that spoke to me the most about the incredibly fine line ALL of them have to walk to retain their privacy, and yet be courteous persons of integrity.

Oh, I loved this book. I did not expect to, and I’m a little bit afraid that I need to check and see if my estrogen/testosterone balance has been maintained.” Pat Patterson

“I found it too short. I am used to reading BIG books. Alicia has written a book that is spellbinding and you don’t want the story to end. The characters feel like real people that you meet everyday. A character who has lost her career, living with a chronic illness and still finding love and understanding. I will be reading it again and again.” Sam Umek

“Sometimes – rarely – I have no earthly idea why one of Ehrhardt’s characters has a particular reaction or says a particular thing. Sometimes I catch on later, sometimes I don’t. Either way, I read on. Because I don’t have to “get” everything every time. Because I’m trespassing and eavesdropping on another psyche, and it feels natural that I wouldn’t invariably understand.” Marian Allen

“My only complaint is that the ending I’m looking for will have to wait for the next book in the series because this ending is heart wrenching without the continuation.” Cris Goodwin

“And finally it’s a novel about taking risks when your body suffers from a chronic illness. In other words, this is a novel about being human.” A.C. Flory

“I feel Kary’s exhaustion as she copes with the day to day of her chronic illness.” Sue Gately

“Pride’s Children is a contemporary novel, brilliantly written and filled with the raw emotion of characters who smile when necessary, love when necessary, drink far too excessively, and are quite willing to betray anyone who stands in their way. Hearts bleed. Hearts break. Tears flow. Greed runs deep. And pride always goes before the fall.” Caleb Pirtle, III

I’d love to know if you had the same reaction.

Now, how to make potential readers want that experience

I like my cover, and it speaks to me of the yearning that is so much a part of Pride’s Children: wanting what everyone wants, allowing oneself to want.

In this excerpt from Chapter 9, which to me says it all (see underlined section), Kary speaks to her much loved Aunt Ruth:


She dialed Aunt Ruth’s number by heart.

“Kary! What a wonderful surprise! I thought of you this weekend.”

“You can call me, too, you know.”

“I don’t like disturbing you while you write.”

“If I answer the phone, I’m not writing.”

“That’s what you always say when I disturb you.”

“People first. Especially you.” Capturing words next, above everything else.

“How is the writing going, my dear?”

“Very well. The new story is coming almost faster than I can capture it.” Their formal jousting, as ritualized as a quadrille. She exhaled. I haven’t committed—yet.

“What is it, dear?”

“You know me too well, Aunt Ruth. More of the same, I’m afraid.”

“I knew there was a reason to worry. Are you ready to talk?”

Am I ready to talk? Anyone else would push, demand. “No, but I need to.” I should have thought this out, decided where to start— She ran her fingers through her hair, tugged, impatient with herself. “Remember the last time we talked?”

“Stop me if I’m crazy. I’m getting senile in my old age.” She hesitated. “Is it the same man?”

Kary visualized Ruth in her favorite armchair, taking a moment to think before speaking: losing marbles was not a family trait. “Here I thought I was keeping you from worrying. Yes. The same man.”

“Ah. The actor, then. Andrew Connor, or something?”

Am I this horribly transparent to everyone? “It’s complicated.” So, uncomplicate it. “You always get it. O’Connell. He’s a house guest. Part of the time. They’re filming his next movie in town.” See? Was that so hard? “I’ve been invited to watch them film Wednesday afternoon.”

“He’s disturbing your peace.”

Aunt Ruth radar. “Not intentionally. He’s been the perfect guest. But…” Get it all out at once, like an afterbirth. “But yes. Just by existing. The reality is overwhelming…”

“It always is, dear. Good and bad. He is young, for a man. And healthy, isn’t he? They take up so much more space than you think, all that vitality.” Ruth hesitated again. “You are sure…?”

Bless her. “Nothing. Don’t worry.” Lord, the temptation. Enough fascination to pull her hand into his fire. But no, nothing there. “If I were younger.” And beautiful. Beauty deserves beauty. If I weren’t sick.

“A cat is allowed to look at the Queen, Kary.”

“A cat is not allowed to want to be Queen.”

“Better not to want?”

“Better not to want.” It hurt. In the background she heard sounds of people approaching Ruth, asking if she was ready to go in to dinner. Salvation. Kary let out all the air she had been holding in.

“I can eat later—”

“No. Don’t. I just wanted—” needed “—someone to talk to. You’re my someone.”

“I love you, Kary.”

“I know.” It was done. “Now go get your dinner. I’ll call you when it’s over. Promise.”

“Promise accepted.”

The very last part. He certainly needed no more publicity. “You won’t tell anyone.”

“You have to ask?”

And that’s why I love you.


So how do I use this?

The answer seems to me to be to use the book description, somehow, to speak directly to a new reader. To include the combination of wanting someone very badly, but having the sense and the integrity not to reach for him, because it is not in his best interest.

This is not an original idea – it was buried in my subconscious when I read Jane Eyre as a child. I’ve transmogrified it – to suit my story. But I aim for the same quality – and for the reader to see that the decision (it’s not in his best interest) has enough arbitrariness to it that there just might be room for another ending than the one Kary is – with the omnipresence of a censorious society which declares the imperfect not human (or not human enough) – sure she must choose.

My next job is to figure out how the heck to get that into the first paragraph of the book description, above the fold (i.e., what’s visible without scrolling on the book’s Amazon page).

And be cocky enough to reach out for the reader’s viscera from the first words.

Maybe Maggie’s book will help me figure it out.

What was your emotional experience? Every reader creates a unique universe in his or her head.


If you like your writers to consider your emotional experience – which takes a lot more work than just telling you a story – consider purchasing or borrowing Pride’s Children: PURGATORY (if you haven’t) or becoming a patron to support Book 2, NETHERWORLD.

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Progress report on Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD

With a long novel, and me not being one of the people who count their drafts in words written (so I can’t put up a progress bar), it is easy to wonder if the writer is on permanent vacation (certain fans of GRRM – to whom I’m certainly not comparing myself – will know what I mean).

Complexity takes more time to set up, and more time to write.

NETHERWORLD has turned out to be significantly harder to get started than I expected, and I’m barely nearing the end of Chapter 1, but a lot of the time since I started writing it in early 2016 has been spent on setting up timelines and plotlines in great detail so that I hope not to have to find out about plot holes the hard way (when Rachel, my lovely beta reader, asks one of her incisive questions).

I’m pretty sure it’s going to go a lot faster from here on (though I may have to slow down a bit at the end to make sure the ending is just right: finishing off a part of the story and setting up the remaining book of the trilogy).

Now that the election is over, writing (which I’m doing instead of following it) has become a refuge, and an easy place to spend my time.

You may be interested in a post on my writing blog about the process, There is always a new writing fear.

And, be assured, I am hard at work. I know where it goes and how it ends, but not the words. And the words, built on a solid structure, are the best part for the writer.

So much to do, so little time, so little brain!

Please talk back.

You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’t

let fiction bloomEDITING? REALLY?

Way back in the dark ages, I submitted the manuscript (digiscript?) of Pride’s Children to an organization dedicated to vetting indie novelists, and giving them a ‘Seal of Approval’ which could be used on the cover of their novel to indicate ‘quality’ or ‘goodness’ or ‘lack of indie crap content.’ I will call them XXX.

And then I forgot all about it.

I just received their reply, a reply to which I take a great deal of umbrage.

Here is their email:

Dear Alicia,

I regret to inform you that your book Pride’s Children did not gain XXX approval. Our assessor said that though the book had an interesting premise, it would need a thorough line edit before it could be considered for approval.

In particular, she found the following issues:

Extreme overuse of incomplete sentences to the point where it becomes a repetitive sentence structure.

Too many short choppy sentences and heavily divided sentences make the reading scattered.

Subjects of focus erratic and hard to follow both in paragraph and some sentences:
“True, Thomas Pentell had insisted on an early dinner at Les Cles, almost too early for this Dior- she lengthened her neck, lifted her chin- cleavage only worked if you showed it.”

Breaking the fourth wall (see above sentence – not the only one)

Switching of perspective between first and third person

Too much description – telling not showing

Should you wish to re-submit after having the book line edited, you will need to use the form on the Submission page and pay a fee of $50.

If you are unsure of the difference between a line and a copy edit, please read this article [link removed] on the four kinds of editing

We also recommend you read The Elements of Active Prose: Writing Tips to Make Your Prose Shine

Regards from,

C.J
XXX Submissions

Please note: we do not enter into any discussion on the results of submissions.
Do not reply to this email. No one checks the account, so no one will see it.

—————————

There are many things wrong with this ‘assessment,’ but I summed them up in a short email:

Dear CJ:

I regret to inform you that it is doing fine as it is; any ‘line edit’ would absolutely destroy the style and voice.

The ‘flaws’ you point out are deliberate choices.

Those who like it, love it. It is gathering a nice bunch of reviews on Amazon.

Thanks for your consideration.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, PhD

I sent the email – and then realized there was a donotreply on the email address, so I decided to put it up here instead (though I doubt anyone from XXX will see it).

I have detailed some of those deliberate choices in my post Rules for punctuating consistently: a writer’s unique style.

For example, and to confirm I know the difference between first and third person pov, I use First person and italics to indicate direct internal monologue (ie, an actual thought the character has in exactly those words); there are one or two of those in places where we have access to the character’s thoughts. For indirect internal monologue (general musing), I use Third person and no italics, and that is how we see the story, from the three characters’ points of view. Orson Scott Card taught me how to vary the Third person distance; once you get the hang of it, you can do everything from describing the landscape to being in the character’s head at his/her most intense moments.

I NEVER break the fourth wall.

ALL description is done from the point of view of the characters, a SINGLE character per scene.

And if XXX had bothered to look carefully, the dialogue in that little exchange where Bianca is reviewing in her mind the meeting she just had with Pentell, as she is being driven home, is very carefully marked with single quotes – memories – to distinguish it from the conversation she is simultaneously having with Michael in the car.

It takes a long time for a writer to develop a voice.

You either like what I’m doing – or you don’t get it, and don’t like it, because it isn’t the way you’re used to getting stories fed to you. There isn’t much I can do about that.

But the thought of what a ‘line edit’ from someone like their ‘assessor’ – who has no idea what I’m doing consistently and on purpose – would do to Pride’s Children made my stomach hurt.

Thanks for letting me rant – if you got this far.

Have you had a similar experience with an ‘editor’ – either as a writer or in school? Business English and fiction have no commonalities!

Complete sentences? Really?

Please share your pain.

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*Thanks to Stencil for the ability to make 10 free image/quotes per month, more with a paid account.