Saturday, July 16, 2011

Writers as How-To Gurus For Fellow Writers?

First, a public service announcement, and then I'll move on: I'll be in buzz mode for the next two weeks or so, as I shamefully lift my megaphone to promote the launch of my first novel, THE CITY OF LOST SECRETS. You'll officially be able to buy the novel on August 1, but to help promote it, I'm offering a FREE copy to the first ten people who respond to this post. All I ask in return is that you read it quickly (which shouldn't be a problem; it's only 60K words) and post a review on Amazon on release day (or as soon as possible after August 1).

If you're interested, simply leave me a note in the comments, or email me at kmcvay53 at yahoo dot com.

Moving on...

I say that I'll be shamefully promoting my book because wearing a sales hat doesn't come naturally to me; it doesn't to most writers. We suck at it. All we want to do is be left alone to write and let someone else do the promoting. Sad thing is, even best-selling authors have to do their own sales-pitching.

Which is why a lot of authors have turned the act of promoting on its head by morphing themselves into how-to gurus. The thought is, What better way to promote myself and my work than by offering wannabe successful writers information on how I became a successful writer? They may sell books or ebooks with such titles as: Nine Tactics I Used To Skyrocket My Book Sales Using Only Social Media; How I Sold A Gizillion Ebooks In Two Days; How I Became A Media Darling Using Twitter; and so on. (Those titles are fake by the way, so don't go Googling them.) Most of the time, this information is free, but sometimes not.
I've dubbed this tactic "Big Megaphone Marketing," because most of the time these authors make bold claims and offer big promises.

Then there's something I call "Small Megaphone Marketing," which is self-promotion on a smaller, quieter scale. The type of writers that fall into this category offer (usually free) tips and advice on anything from marketing your book for non-marketers, to formatting your self-published manuscript for Kindle, to how to start a Facebook fan page. No bold claims or fancy promises here, only solid advice from a writer who just wants to help fellow writers get recognized and get recognized themselves.

There's nothing wrong with either of these tactics, as long as it's done correctly and in a non-irritating fashion. (And you know, it has to be helpful). Hey, I'm a student of marketing, and I know that offering free information to people endears them to you, brands you as an expert, and makes them more likely to buy your books. By positioning yourself as a guru and giving fans a seldom-seen look behind the curtain, you are deemed as an authority on the subject, which breeds respect, which breeds sales.

Also, I wouldn't be where I am now without the help of writers/gurus. I subscribe to a lot of writer's blogs that offer advice and tips and suggestions and stories of failure and inspiration alike. I find them useful, so who am I to pass judgment? If an author has the chops for it, more power to him.

All I'm saying is, it's not for me.

I'm having a hard enough time figuring out Facebook and remembering to check my Twitter feed and finding enough time in the day to update this blog and write my next book, and oh yeah, eat. So branding myself as a writing guru by pumping out helpful information and advice for consumption by fellow writers ain't happening anytime soon because I don't have the time and I don't feel I have anything of value to offer fellow writers (yet). And because all I really want to do is spend my time writing great fiction.

But many writers find the time for guru branding. And I respect the ones that do it well. They've helped me and I thank them. I hope I'm honoring them here.
So, by me telling you all this, does it make me a Big Megaphone Marketer or a Small Megaphone Marketer?

Well, maybe a Mini Megaphone Marketer.

(Don't forget: if you'd like to get an advanced copy of my new novel THE CITY OF LOST SECRETS before it hits the streets, be one of the first ten people to post a comment or email me. And then please review it on Amazon the day it launches on August 1, or close thereafter. Thank you!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Did You Hear The One About the Netflix Brewhaha?

Unless you live under a rock (which to me doesn't seem like such a bad thing) you've heard that Netflix recently split its mail-order DVD service and its streaming video service into two plans. (You used to get both services automatically for one monthly price.) Now, if you're a new member, in order to get both plans, you have to sign up for both and pay 60% more than you did before. Or something like that.

Look, the details don't even matter. Here's the point: if you're a huge movie buff like I am (or not), and chew through eight movies a month like I do (or not), isn't the new increased price you're gonna pay a month still cheaper than one night out at the movies? Hell yeah, it is! And isn't it still more convenient than schlepping to a Redbox kiosk? Absolutely.

Honestly, I don't know what the big deal is. If you were paying $9.99 a month before for streaming and one movie at a time, for example, now you're gonna have to pay $15.98. So? I mean, come on people, don't we already pay ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS PLUS a month for cable? What's sixteen bucks more? That's, like, less than two hundred dollars a year, or ONE MONTH'S cable bill.

People will say, "It's not about the price increase. It's the principle. Netflix is a huge corporation that's taking advantage of its customer base." Okaaay, so name me one corporation that doesn't put its own self-interests above that of its customer's.

Alright, so anyway, Netflix's VP of marketing said their research revealed that despite the ease and convenience of their streaming service, there's still a huge demand for their mail DVD service. So Netflix's decision to split the two services up is an attempt to appease the people who just want DVDs (like me). It makes sense, but seeing as I'm a marketing professional myself, I think what Ms. Marketing VP was subtely trying to say was that their streaming service is inferior so they didn't feel right charging the DVD-only customers for that service. They want to give them the option of opting out and doing DVDs only. Which is totally cool for me because that means my bill will actually go down. (Thanks, Netflix!)

That's also not really the point. The point is, maybe we should spend less time rallying around the "down with Netflix" flag and start bitching about things that actually matter--like the state of our economy, or our terrible health care system, or our deplorable public education system...

Those are some brewhahas worth fighting...

Friday, July 8, 2011


So today marks my first foray into the e-book world with the publication of my short story on Amazon. It's called THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND. The cover looks like this:

I think it looks kinda snappy. What do you think?

Anyways, THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND is about a young aiport worker named Zoe who secretly longs for bigger and better things, but she doesn't know how to go about finding herself. A chance encounter with an handsome Australian photographer reinvigorates her, imploring her to pursue her flying away with him. Does Zoe take the bait? Can she walk away from the only life she's ever known and risk it all for the promise of a new life?

You're only a few clicks away from finding out...

It's a short story so, like, you can blow through it in one sitting. And it only costs $0.99 cents on Amazon.

I'd like to think the story will make you ponder: if presented with the same propostion--leaving your dull and unhappy life behind and following a stranger who promises a fuller, richer, more fulfulling life--would you be able to drop everything and follow him?

If you've got a Kindle, buy it. While you're on Amazon, do me a solid and write a review. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Birth of a Book

So, back in April I acted all high and mighty and said on this blog that I wasn't going to self-publish The Land of Lost Secrets (now renamed The City of Lost Secrets) because...well, there were many reasons: I wanted to find an agent, I thought I needed help with marketing and publicity, I wanted to know what it was like to be in the inner circle of the publishing world.

Boy, how things change.

In the weeks after that post, I tried to purge that novel from my system and started writing the novel I thought would finally get me an agent and the attention of a traditional publisher. I got to about chapter three on that new book and then I had to stop writing. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get The City of Lost Secrets out of my system. My thoughts kept drifting back to it. I started seeing the book cover in my head. And I started dreaming about it, for God's sake! I couldn't let the project go. So, after more research and soul-searching, I've decided to self-publish it.

Why? Well, I have writer JA Konrath to thank for that. Poor guy doesn't even know who the hell I am, yet there I was, obsessing over his blog, which dedicates itself to convincing writers to self-publish their work. His theory is that agents and publishers are unnecessary gatekeepers who don't really know what readers want. He's honest and irreverent and full of awesome ideas and his blog is a must read. His theories about Legacy Publishing make total sense. Hell, it convinced me to self-publish. After all, I have at least a dozen people clamoring to read The City of Lost Secrets, asking when it'll be available, yet no agent wants to touch it. I thought Mr. Konrath was on to something....

So I dove in head first in the self-publishing pool. And it's been grueling, to say the least. Ms. Self-Publisher Amanda Hocking wasn't kidding when she said self-publishing and publicizing her books were a full-time job. I won't go into the minutiae here, but needless to say, being your own marketer and PR director and IT department is fucking hard, man. 

But after a couple of months, I'm in the final stages of preparing the book for publication. The cover is done. It looks like this:

I came up with the cover concept myself and found an awesomely talented guy to create it for me. I had the manuscript edited by a wonderful woman who I'm proud to also call my friend. I created the book trailer myself. Now I'm just waiting for the manuscript to be formatted for Kindle and hopefully soon it'll be available for download as an e-book for Kindle and other e-reader devices. (A lot of people are asking for the print version, but alas, it's more expensive to create a print book so to keep costs low I'm publishing as an e-book only for now. If I'm lucky enough to recoup my money then I plan to make it available as a print version).

And then the marketing will begin. As the mantra goes:


And so it goes.

(The City of Lost Secrets isn't quite available yet. But I do have a short story that'll be available for purchase very soon. Like tomorrow. I'll post when it's available.)