Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Marketing into an increasingly annoyed readership

I am a genial soul, but I swear if I get another telemarketer telephone call asking me to buy some woman’s memoir about how bored she was in Miss Cadiz’s kindergarten class I may hang up instead of breaking down and buying a copy I don’t want just to be nice. I don’t even answer knocks on the door anymore. The answer is no. I don’t want to buy your novel about a shape shifter who can’t get a date because all the ladies think he looks like me. If he’s a shape shifter make him look like Brad Pitt and leave me out of it.

Marketers alienate people. I never watch CNN without my finger on the mute button anymore because I know every time there is a commercial break here comes the same old Liberty Mutual Insurance Company commercial. No, I did not hydroplane into a ditch. No, I don’t want to hear about it – again. I did not want to hear about it the first thirty times.

Somewhere Donald Maass said the story sells the book, not the author. Any thoughts you have are welcome.

Your comment proves the effectiveness of marketing: you remember the name of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. That was their goal, and even in annoying you they succeeded. You may not be their target customer, but you can bet that when someone needs to buy insurance for their hydroplane they'll remember. [Oh wait.. you meant hydroplane your car into a ditch. Much less interesting, but probably a larger customer base if it's car owners not hydroplane drivers]

Effective marketing means a reader remembers your name and book title and when they see it in the bookstore think "aha! I've heard of that."

That means you have to have put your name and book title in front of their eyeballs at least a dozen times. (It used to be far less, but we're working in a very noisy marketplace these days.)

What you really want to know is how to make those impressions without annoying your audience.

And the answer is easy: you don't do it. You have someone else do it. And I don't mean a paid publicist or cheerleader. I mean your friends and well-wishers.

For readers of this blog, if you've been reading the comment trail you'll know several readers here are champions of Donna Everhart's upcoming book, The Education of Dixie Dupree.

Jenny Chou is a champion of The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie.

Julie Weathers is a champion of Diana Gabaldon.

There are other examples of course, but I can think of these just off the top of my head as I write this post. That's prima facie evidence that I remember and that the "marketing" has been effective. Marketing in this case is a reader loving a book and talking about it. Or talking about the author.

So, how do you find those kinds of friends? You don't ask, certainly. That's the kind of thing that can lead to something like this "review request" that read more like instructions.

The way to get those friends is to BE one of those friends. You talk about books you love. You might write reviews. You might make comments on this blog and others.

You might write a Facebook post. You might tweet.
You might ask your library to buy the book.
You might ask your indie to stock the book.
You might have your reading group BUY the book and discuss it.

This is something you start long before you finish your own novel, go out on submission, find an agent and get a pub date. Making friends is a long process. The earlier you start the better.

You keep a data base of book friends.
You have a mailing list.
When the time comes, you reach out with your good news.
You respect your friends by having an "unsubscribe" button on your newsletter or email.

And you keep up being a friend too.


Sam Hawke said...

This is such good advice. Aside from books from authors I already know and love, I'd say virtually every book I've read in the last 2 years has been because of a) recommendations from friends (direct or indirect recommendations) or b) looking up someone's novels because I enjoy the person on social media. I buy most of my books on kindle these days, and I find the Amazon store impossible to browse, now. I can't trust their algorithms to not suggest me terrible crap. So I rely on hearing about books by talking to other people about books. That's all I have time for. But it totally works!

BTW, there's a typo in the heading, Janet. :)

CynthiaMc said...

Good to hear. I hate having to delete emails from people I otherwise like just because I can't take "buy my book/shoes/whatever fifty times a day any more.

I had to add "declutter email - 5 minutes" on the daily routine list because I reached a thousand emails in my in box and was avoiding it entirely.

My most hated commercial at the moment is the one with various heart patients singing Tomorrow off key. If you're going to attempt to sing the most over sung song in the universe, at least sing it correctly. I don't know who started the trend of having people sing off key and thought it was attractive, but whoever you are, you were misinformed (and I say that in attempt to save you not condemn you). I know what you're going for. I said "Awwwww" the first 10,0000 times I saw it, too. Now, to cite another way over sung song, Let It Go. Please.

Colin Smith said...

Book marketing calls? I only ever get calls from survey-takers (especially political ones at the moment), and the occasional credit card company. I guess the book marketers have yet to get to me.

There was a Super Bowl ad some years ago featuring cat wranglers (like cattle herders, but with cats instead of cattle). It was a great idea, but a lousy commercial because to this day I don't remember what the ad was for. Maybe others do, but for me, that commercial was a big (and probably expensive) fail.

Personal experience validates what Janet says. Most of the books I have bought in recent years have been recommended to me by people I trust to have good taste, or similar taste to mine, which is the same thing, isn't it? :)

Of course, she didn't mention my advocacy of a certain Australian author of Ancient Greek mystery stories. It seems I'm not doing my job well enough. Maybe one day Janet will pick up one of his books. Who knows, maybe she'll enjoy it... :D

DeadSpiderEye said...

As a person who's just been the subjected to possibly the most intense marketing campaign ever, there's a pitfall with the saturation approach that comes to mind. If in your enthusiasm to ramp up the product awareness level to ubiquitous proportions, you start to annoy and offend your potential customers, make sure yours is the only choice available. Otherwise, there's a chance your competition will benefit more from your efforts than you. I can see that principle holding true for fiction novels too.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

My take away? It's not about marketing it's about relationships.

I could do a soapbox here about people labeling themselves and one another, creating a flat dimension of other people and of themselves. We like to box people up--make them understandable, predictable, conformable. That's what marketing does. It flattens individuals into broad-brush stereotypes. And I object. Caricature is fine. In its place. But I think this tendency to genericize people is why there's so much polarization in politics. When we lose nuances, we lose our ability to connect with one another in a compassionate and genuine manner.

I really do not like door-to-door sales.

Thank you, QOTKU, for this close look at how to get our stories out there. And I'm with Sam. Amazon recommendations? pfft. The books on my TBR pile are the ones recommended here and on other blogs and friends. My reading has gone beyond my usual genre. And I'm grateful for that.

...time for some more caffeine.

SiSi said...

Another important part of this is to know when to stop. If you advocate TOO enthusiastically and too long for a book or author, you run the risk of sounding like a deranged fanatic, and can become as annoying as those oft-repeated TV ads. People might remember the name, but associate it with a shudder of revulsion rather than a shiver of anticipation.

SiSi said...

I should add that I don't think anyone here has over-advocated! I'm thinking of a specific person who has talked about two books so often I can't imagine ever reading them, even if my life is dull and incomplete without them, which is what she strongly implies.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So I went to the beach last week. I open my backpack and find I have forgotten to pack the lovely Gary Corby books. Yes, I picked these up because of word of mouth – specifically Colin’s glowing recommendations. Well, no matter, I decide to head off to the local bookstore, Books-A-Million, a small chain I think, to pick up the book once more. Yes, I am willing to buy a second copy of these books and leave for the beach house’s library. It is a rule when you visit my family’s beach house that you must read- it’s a wonderful thing to do in the sun.

I get to the bookstore and no Gary Corby. I complain to the manager who promises to check into these wonderful books. I hope he orders them. Instead, I peruse the bookshelves. Like a lot of yet to be published authors, I dream about where my books will appear on the shelves. I also notice that there is not a lot of room for new authors. Nearly all the horror section is taken up by Stephen King. There are about five authors in the fantasy section that take up over half of it. I feel a little discouraged for myself and new authors everywhere.

Eventually, I decide on three books, a Lee Child staple, Killing Floor, (there are not enough of these at the beach house and they are terrific beach reads), two best sellers by debut authors, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (I have come to think I am just not a YA fan, but it’s not terrible), and The Axeman by Ray Celestin (this is glorious – set in New Orleans about an actual serial murderer with deeply drawn characters and a setting so rich you can feel the heat and wet of NOLA in every page.)

These are the two main ways I find books to read, word of mouth, and bookstore shelves. I hope, when the time comes, I can write something worthy of word of mouth without a mental breakdown. This post is rather comforting in that regard. Also, the reason I want an agent is to improve my chances of getting a place on those bookstore shelves.

Ann Bennett said...

This is great advice. One of the problems of tooting your own book is the same as selling your own home, your emotional investment is too great. I drive by my childhood home and want to pound on the door and tell them they could at least mow the grass.
Just because you are a great writer, you may not be that great of a salesperson or publicist and these skills are not acquired from reading a book. Following your suggestions would help any burgeoning writer to get satisfaction from their pursuit whether they ever publish or not. Very few people are born with innate interpersonal skills.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

E.M. - I'm going to the beach next weekend and I'm so excited for reading out in the sunshine! I haven't decided what I'm going to bring to read yet, but now you've got me thinking I should buy/bring Gary Corby's books. They're on my to-buy list, but maybe it's time to bump them up to the top.

I'm willing to take book recommendations wherever I can get them, but most of the time it's from family or a particular friend whose tastes run similar to mine. That way, good fantasy novels spread through our family like wildfire. You sell a book to my mother, you've really sold 4 copies - one for each branch of the family. Because we will buy it if Momma tells us to.

Robert Ceres said...

One way Twitter and Facebook and perhaps other social media is effective is when OTHER people tout an authors books by liking or retweeting. I try to do this often for worthy works, and hope that someday, when the time comes, and if my book is worthy, others might do the same.

I do worry that my Twitter tweets and Facebook page (and blog comments,) blabber on for far too long, so only chime in when I "expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb." I must say that this doesn't seem to happen very often, so sometimes I break my rule and blabber on about... Opps.

Here's my rule, retweet once for every ten likes, and post once per every ten retweets.

Tricia Quinnies said...

Hello Jenny Chou! I just finished The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie and I'm on board with you! Since Milwaukee is my home I'm bias but Mr. Petrie nailed it. Great story and love the gritty feel! Thanks Janet! #moomarketing

Theresa said...

Word of mouth and building relationships is very important. Walking into a bookstore or browsing on Amazon can be as overwhelming as it is exhilarating. Seeing a title or author name you recognize will be comforting and will draw you in.

My most recent experience was with Gary Corby's books. When I walked into a bookstore to do my author event, the first thing I saw was a shelf of his books. As attractive as they are, I may not have looked twice if it wasn't for all the enthusiasm on this site.

For my own book, I'm still working carefully to spread the word. So for those of you who receive C-Span channels, I'll be talking about Angels of the Underground live on July 23 on its history book channel, during coverage of the World War II symposium at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA. My FB and Twitter feeds will carry periodic reminders of this. But I won't be setting up robocalls.

Colin Smith said...

Yay! Corby-ites!! :D

If you enjoy historical mysteries like Gary's, what about a mystery set in Elizabethan England, with playwright Christopher Marlowe as the protagonist? Intrigued?? If you've been enjoying Gary's Athenian Mystery series, check out Phillip DePoy's A PRISONER IN MALTA (Amazon/B&N). Like Gary, Phillip keeps his research in the background, adding color to the story; it's never in-your-face like a textbook. There are some great characters, and some lovely twists and turns. I reviewed it on my blog (see under "Book Reviews"), so I refer you there for more info.

Karen McCoy said...

This is why I feature authors on my blog. Every book deserves the potential to find a reader that resonates with that author's words.

BJ Muntain said...

Janet has often said that social media doesn't sell books - word of mouth does. But I find that social media gets you that word of mouth. You're developing a social network - even friendships, sometimes - and one side effect of that social net is that sometimes you find people who give you that word of mouth you need.

Off topic: All this talk about marketing, and the one thing I really wanted to respond to is Ann Bennett's "I drive by my childhood home and want to pound on the door and tell them they could at least mow the grass."

My great-great aunt Pearl went into a home when she was 104. That didn't stop her, though. She still went out to her old place once in awhile to weed, because the new owners were just not taking proper care of HER garden.

So beware if you buy a house that used to belong to a centenarian. You may look out one day to find a little old lady weeding your radishes.

Donnaeve said...

I'm puzzled like the others over robo-calls for a book. That's a new one. Any number that pops up that I don't know, gets ignored or blocked.

Everyone here knows I recently admitted to feeling a bit uncomfortable about mentioning...shhh,....*insert name of my book.* I also think everyone here knows/gets why I do.

As for promotion, personally I get excited to hear about a new book by word of mouth. Which these days constitutes "word via social media," meaning here mostly, and a couple other spots. I've bought several books b/c of this dialogue. (Ex: Where All Light Tends To Go, David Joy, I think QOTKU recommended this one)

The whole promo gig definitely makes me twitchy. I got a funny (?) promo story to share, if ya'll don't mind.

I went to NC State University Theater on Sat. night with four other local authors to talk about our books. (some of you might remember Cat Warren from Bouchercon? She wrote the book, WHAT THE DOG KNOWS) about the cadaver dogs. She was there.

Anyway, folks were attending an Agatha Christie event. I handed a bookmark to a lady who'd asked me a question about my book. She looked at it, asked another question - all very general, what's it about, etc. As she turned to leave, she handed the bookmark back to me.

I said, "You can keep it. I'm handing these out."

She said, "No. Not now."


I said, "Oh, okay." I took it back. Who's ever heard of handing back a bookmark? Needless to say that little incident was a sour note in an otherwise great experience.

Colin Smith said...

BJ: I'm more likely to take a social media recommendation from someone I know than someone I don't. Building relationships and credibility are, it seems to me, important in becoming a trusted source of recommendations.

Donna: Yes--I remember that "panel" with the cadaver dog! (Folks who are interested, look up my Bouchercon Day 2 notes on my blog--I have pictures too!) That's so cool that you got to share a panel with her. Who'd've thunk last October? :)

As for bookmarks? WT...???! Bookmarks are superb! If you read my Bouchercon Day 3 notes (sorry, this isn't meant to be un-subtle promotion for my blog), you might remember my experience at the end of the panel Janet moderated. Each of the authors gave out social media/web site information. Hilary Davidson was the only one (as I recall) who offered bookmarks containing all that info. By that time I had put my pencil and notepad away, so guess whose info was the only info I got?

Besides, what reader can't use another bookmark? Don't feel bad, Donna. It's that lady's loss. :)

Brigid said...

I think with books, there's the added complication that reading a book is like entering into a brief relationship — it becomes something, it matters. You take on these ideas and enter into these possibilities, and for the best of books, they become a part of you that you carry forward. So annoying someone until they open their wallet defeats half the purpose.

Head-On headache relief doesn't become a part of you. They don't care if you use it, they just need to sell it. It's useful if you use it up, buy more, and tell the gent next to you in line that it's the cat's pajamas and he should stick it in all his grandchildren's stockings. But it's the sales that matter, not the intersecting lives.

A book that sells ten million copies that no one reads is dead.

Jenny C said...

Hi Tricia - YAY! So glad you liked The Drifter! I recently had lunch with Nicholas at the track team banquet (our kids are in school together) and it was so fun to talk books and writing! His new book BURNING BRIGHT is a PW Top Ten Books For Fall!

I Tweet about every single book I read. I follow YA authors as soon as they sign with an agent. (Agents always Tweet about how happy they are to have signed New Author.) I Tweet my congratulations even if I don't know either of them. I've made lots of friends through Pitch Wars and I Tweet about the mentor's books and everyone's book deals. Though I signed with a wonderful agent this spring, VANISHED still has a long road ahead. Revisions. Submissions. Then at least 9 months to a year until pub date. But I want to be ready with a cheering section when it does land on bookstore shelves.

My Goodreads account is linked to my Facebook, so all my friends know when I add a book, start a book, or finish a book. And lots of people comment that they read or buy books as gifts based on my recommendations.

I do all this because I genuinely love books. I was a bookseller for many years. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also the start of my marketing plan.

Have a great day, Everyone!

Claire Bobrow said...

To all the great comments above, I'd simply like to add ... a book recommendation! If you like fantasy novels and are prepared to ignore every single thing you're supposed to be doing, run out and grab Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. Impossible to put down.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Donna, I would accept your bookmark, ask you to sign it, frame it and hang it on the wall over my desk out of admiration and for inspiration. Don't let that clueless bitch ruin your experience.

The Sleepy One said...

The Cat Herder commercial!

It's an all-time favorite.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Even if I love a book, I keep in mind who I'm talking to regarding recommending it. If I know someone is not into the subject matter or the genre, I'll just mention the book versus going all fangirl about it.

(Speaking of going all fangirl - I recently read an ARC of THE WOLF ROAD by Beth Lewis. Loved. It. Dark, gritty stuff but what else can you expect from a book with a tagline like "THE ROAD meets TRUE GRIT." However many days and books read later, I'm still thinking about it....)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I could never have too many book marks. I would love to have one from Donna. You can't be too much of a reader if you refuse a free book mark.

Jenz said...

Rats, this reminds me that I forgot to tell you guys one of my short stories was published a couple of weeks ago. (Apparently I'm worse at marketing than I thought, and I didn't think I was good at it already.)

It's one of my faves: Harbinie of Death

InkStainedWench said...

Yay Jenz!

*flings confetti*

Craig said...

The eternal love/hate relationship: marketing. We all loved Mad Men and hate commercials. Part of that is the interference of commercials and another part is saturation. If you push anything too hard it will become an object we hate. At the same time many commercials have wormed their way into our language. (Mikey likes it.)

That is the third part of marketing. The lack of research or outright lies. Why blame an insurance company because you didn't know how to drive the car with the proper torque ration. Why blame the insurance company when you were driving when or where you should not be. By the way all of the options that company talks about are available through your insurance company too. They get expensive as hell though.

Because of those missed truths we tend to listen closer when someone else works as the marketer. If Oprah plugged a Patterson book it would have more impact than Patterson plugging a Patterson book (even though he didn't write it).

Saturation is another thing. If you are a writer and have a blog you need to break things up once in a while. I am happy for all of those who sell a book but if I follow their blog I can get tired of seeing only that book. I followed that blog before the sale because I liked you outlook on life.

Be careful how you use a marketing plan. There are so many factors to it that it is an art. Sometimes a phrase will resonate to a new level but generally it becomes repetitive.

InkStainedWench said...

Question: I'd like to write more reviews, but many of the books I read aren't new. Either they're years old, from the library, or I bought them and it takes me a while to get to them. Does it still help the author and/or other readers if I review a book that isn't a new release?

Colin Smith said...

Jenz: WOOOHOOO!!! Congrats!!! Thanks for providing a link. I'll be sure to take a look. :)

Craig: From a marketing standpoint, isn't even bad publicity a good thing? And there's really no such thing as over-saturation. Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. And everyone knows he's running for President. That may not be a good thing, but as far as Trump is concerned, it's the best thing he could have wished for. He has a platform. Publishers would be hard pressed to refuse him a book deal because, like him or not, people will buy his books. Even if they're buying them to burn, or use as lining in the cat litter, they're still buying them.

Just another perspective...

Claudette Hoffmann said...

I want to read Donna's book, now (I know I'll cry and love it)
And the next Gary Corby, asap
I have to wait.
Can't authors/publishers have a special express lane for FRFs (frequent reader followers) purchases?
Just a thought.

Julie Weathers said...

This is so true.

I'd add Colin and Gary Corby to the list, with good reason. Gary is phenomenal.

At Books and Writers people will say, "Hey, I'm looking for a change of pace, does anyone have any suggestions for....?"

Then they get bombarded with dozens of readers' favorite authors in that category. Since the forum is populated with mostly voracious readers, including a lot of librarians, the list is always interesting. The people usually also state why they like each author and give book recommendations.

Or someone will start a thread about a book they read and ask if anyone else has read it. It usually sends people off to buy it, though not everyone will be fans.

Colin I had to laugh because when I was reading this post I thought, "Yeah, like the cat wrangling ad for EDS. I always wished I had some technology problems so I could call them." I guess I'm weird.

Who doesn't love the superbowl Budweiser commercials usually?

The Marlboro man was genius while it lasted. One of the Marlboro cowboys was a rancher from near Odessa. He died in a freak accident on his ranch. His family always speculated he came across drug runners, which was a problem even back then and he had been fighting with them. I used the "accident" as a murder scene in Dancing Horses. Yeah, I know, insensitive of me.

If people ask me for a good grammar book I always recommend: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. It's good and it's fun.

It was recommended to me word of mouth and I pass it along to others who keep passing it along.

I doubt so many authors who have been gone for a while, Mary Stewart, Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey (who has released 39 books since his death in 1939), would remain as popular without their fans promoting them.

Claudette Hoffmann said...

FRF (...) purchases
The danger of the parenthesis.

on Favorite marketing campaigns-I always liked the original squirrel commercial for that auto insurance company - we always knew the squirrel community had it in for us drivers.

Claire Bobrow said...

Julie Weathers: your comment gives me a bit of hope. For the last few months I've been working on a humorous picture book manuscript that addresses the pleasures and pitfalls of advertising. While many ads are insanely annoying, some of them are really funny and/or thought-provoking. Kids are hit with this stuff from a very early age. It's good to be aware of what's going on and able to tune out the crap, but also appreciate the art of creative sales and have a laugh when it hits the mark.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

In further writer news- Cormac McCarthy is NOT dead. Seems rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated. Which begs the question - is dying a good marketing technique for an author?

Donnaeve said...

"Don't let that clueless bitch ruin your experience." LOL! Yes, I had to recover from that before I could comment again.

Jenz Congratulations!

Awww Claudette...yes. You might, but I also tried to lighten things up by making lil' ole Dixie humorous too.

Ya'll might remember how I raved about Sue Monk Kidd's book, THE INVENTION OF WINGS. Another one I really liked (and recommended by QOTKU) was WINTER'S BONE. I'd seen the movie and never read the book. It was really good. You gotta have a strong stomach to read some of these, i.e. books by Larry Brown, Daniel Woodrell, and, as I'm learning David Joy. My favorite authors are also these folks as well, Wiley Cash, Ron Rash, Rick Bragg, and Dorothy Allison.

Donnaeve said...

Geez, I can't shut up today.

E.M. strange you mention him...I had a "troll" (lets consider how things come in threes, bookmark, this guy, and...?) drop in on my blog and make a comment about a review I did on SUTTREE. I'd read CHILD OF GOD and OUTER DARK, and tackled SUTTREE next. I didn't like. And I 'splained why.

Troll said, "Third paragraph down, should be its not it's. This is one of my favorite books. I can see why you don't get it."

I took this to mean I (evidently) don't know "its" from "it's," therefore, I'm not smart enough to "get it." Aye yi yi. One typo, and I'm an ignoramus. Anyway, his comment was sent to Spam Heaven.

Colin Smith said...

Donna! You said "ya'll" not "y'all"!! And you call yourself Southern!!

Actually, some years ago I debated with a Southerner over the position of the apostrophe. Yup. Me, the transplanted Brit, took issue with a Southerner on this. Talk about hubris. Actually, I contended that most of the Southerners I knew spelled it "y'all". Of course, both "ya'll" and "y'all" sound the same, so does it really matter? Perhaps we should dispense with the apostrophe altogether and make "yall" the second person plural pronoun of "you." :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Donna I love Cormac McCarthy. I too did not love Suttree – guy on a houseboat, right? Yeah, it did not speak to me. Child of God made me physically sick but I liked it just the same. McCarthy’s writing is so provocative, it can be mesmerizing even when he takes you to those dark places in the human soul you would rather ignore. However, that does not mean everything he writes will suit his fans every time. There is a way to disagree with someone without dawning anal headgear like your vommiter.

So, how do I get myself a Dixie Dupree bookmark?

Colin I am a lifelong Southerner. My parents live in Georgia in the house where my father was born and I grew up. I have never known definitively where to put the apostrophe in y’all (or ya’ll) and I am authentically a Southerner, annoying drawl and all. It is a debate for the ages.

CynthiaMc said...

I don't use bookmarks. I find post it notes work better - I can stick them exactly where I leave off.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I'll have CynthiaMc's DIXIE DUPREE bookmark! ;)

Claire Bobrow said...

E.M. Goldsmith: I was born and raised a Southerner (Memphis, TN) with a Mississippi dad and North Carolina mom. I don't know where to put the apostrophe either! I do know how to make grits, biscuits, and pecan pie - although I prefer chess pie when I can get it. I'm an equal opportunity user of bookmarks and post-it notes.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Are you having a launch party for DIXIE DUPREE? If so, will it be in Raleigh? If so, do you want us (yes, I would bring the family) to bring some Southern snacks? My wife makes an awesome replica of the Angus Barn chocolate chess pie, and I could gush all day about FirstBorn's cake and pastry skills. Janet: Would you be there? ;)

Lennon Faris said...

Before I started writing seriously, I never thought about any of this. I always assumed that good books would get published and get read a lot and make money.

Now that I'm a smidgen less naive, I'm trying to do the things listed here because I've got a heck of a lot of respect for authors. Writing a book is just the beginning. Everything that comes after is harder.

Julie Weathers said...

People doing the "ya'll" spelling irk me. It's a contraction of you and all. Not nearly as badly as people trying to talk southern and doing a twangy "well, howdy, you all". Don't just don't.

I just got off the phone with my webhosting service which insists I have never called for support before. Between my accent and her accent, there was a serious lack of communication and I don't have much of an accent. Holy jehosphat.

I'm sitting here looking at my bookshelf that is on the back of my desk. This has the books that I use most often, reference books and research for current projects. Since I have hundreds of Civil War books, I have limited the two bookcases near the desk to books I'm reading and time period from Sumter to the first Battle of Manassass, Civil War spies, Mosby and JEB Stuart, (One of the pov characters in Rain Crow is a scout with Stuart and then Mosby so I am inhaling those books.), diaries.

I note in my writing books: Tiny Beautiful Things, Writing The Breakout Novel, The Emotion Thesaurus, Spellbinding Sentences, Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing, Make Your Words Work, Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing, Writing 21st Century Fiction, Line By Line, Deluxe Transitive Vampire. All of these were recommended.

Word of mouth certainly is a very effective way of marketing. Look at The Martian.

Craig said...

It is definitely y'all. It comes from the Old English yee all as the plural of yee(singular). It came with the hill folk who immigrated from Ireland and Scotland.

Colin: Never said a thing about over saturated. I was thinking of the saturation point where your mind rebels against some dribble. From a marketing point no publicity is bad but that does not always apply to the other end. Think Takata or VW TDI.

I guess you have to be logged in for the < b > to work. I tried again and it still didn't work.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I've never been robocalled for a book, how odd. Most of my robocalls are people who want to "help" me with credit card debt, and hang up on me when I ask them to tell me my name and what company they work for. Y'know, the little things. But ads in general drive me bonkers. Watching the superbowl this year was odd. Apparently anything can be a car ad. Like, literally anything.

Donna: people give library bookmarks back all the time (they list our programs, hours, etc.), I don't understand at all.

Jenz: CONGRATULATIONS! I'm off to read it once I'm done commenting here.

And, um, a bit of self promotion: my story "Sugar and Spice" is in the Summer 2016 issue of The Sockdolager, along with some other great short stories.

Beth said...

Sleepy One - Thank you for posting the link. That is a hilarious commercial. The funny ones are the only commercials that don't eventually get on my nerves. Of course the ones that only think they're funny grate the most.

Remember jingles? They stick in the brain. I can still sing, word for word, dozens of jingles from commercials in my childhood, including the Burger King song. Now if I could only figure out how to put that knowledge to use.

BJ Muntain said...

In contractions, I believe y'all means 'you all' while 'ya'll' means ya will. Since 'you'll' = 'you will'.

Congrats to Jenz and Jennifer!

InkStainedWench: Any reviews will be useful to help sell more of those books, no matter how old the book is. As long as the book is still in print... and even if it's not, there's often second-hand books being sold. If the book is less than a year old, reviews are even more important. It takes 50 reviews, I've been told, to get a book recommended by the big A company. It can be hard to find books that have fewer than 50 reviews, so even if you're months or a couple years late, you're helping the book be seen.

BJ Muntain said...

Beth - There was a commercial from a small city near the small town I lived in over 30 years ago for an auto glass repair place. I STILL sometimes get that jingle stuck in my head, and I don't know if the business even exists anymore. Hub City Glass, it was.

Maybe I need a jingle for my book, that will get caught in people's heads and stick around for 30 years...

Julie Weathers said...


Sorry, but if you write "y'all" or "ya'll" people are going to assume you are referring to the "you all" as in "thank you all". It's just a debate on how to spell it that keeps going. Oddly enough, you comes across as you.

Southern stuff.

Congratulations Jenz.

Donnaeve said...

Hee, Colin - good catch! (but you're reminding me of troll man...)

The correct spelling is y'all, although it's actually acceptable as ya'll too. (Per Wiki...Y'all (/jɑːl/ yahl) (sometimes yall or ya'll[2])

Then there's y'alls, y'all's, you all's, all of y'all's Head hurt yet?

BJ "...while ya'll means ya will. Since you'll = you will."

Good shot, but no. The pronunciation alone of ya'll or y'all is solely applicable to you all. I.e. I've never said, ya'll do it, for "ya will do it."

Brigid said...

My people say youns. Pronounced like a long yinz.

Donnaeve said...

Colin Yes! Yes! (To answer your questions)

Kensington is working on events as we speak (sent me an email today) and there will be local events in Raleigh - I'm waiting on them to confirm where, etc.

E.M. I'll send you (or anyone in US who wants one, a bookmark) Catch up to me via email - after Kensington designs new ones and they get printed.

Julie I just shared that out on FB and Twitter. LOVE it! (and Lord, I had no idea how much I sounded like those ladies till I heard myself in my Little Dog and The Mailman video. I had to laugh at myself)

Joseph Snoe said...

Bethany I can’t help you with fantasy but I’ve read two thriller authors lately who deserve greater readership.
Jeffrey Abbott’s “Downfall” is a cover to cover action thriller.
Robert Bailey has two legal thrillers, “The Professor“ and “Between Black and White.” Same cast of characters in the books. Both are good. I think the second is better but you almost need to read The Professor first.

E.M., You can’t go wrong using “Y’all.”

Julie W., You’re way ahead of me on books about writing, but I want to add to your list the one I reference the most: James Scott Bell‘s “Conflict and Suspense.”

I do not answer the phone because 90% or more are marketing calls.
On the other hand, there are some TV commercials I love.

I’ll have to buy a Gary Corby book to see what “y’all” love about him.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Excellent! Keep us all posted on the whens and wheres. As far as it is humanly possible for me to plan this far in advance, I plan for our family to be there. :)

Beth said...

Colin, I tried in a blog post once suggest y'all as the second person plural pronoun of you, but a historian informed me that you is plural and the singular second person pronoun is actually "thee."

Colin Smith said...

Beth: A few hundred years ago, "thee" was indeed the 2nd person singular pronoun, and "ye" was the 2nd person plural. For the 21st century, though, I propose we keep "you" as 2nd person singular, and adopt "yall" (no apostrophe to avoid confusion) as 2nd person plural.

That's my contribution to making English easier. ;)

Julie Weathers said...

Oh, Joseph, I have several books on writing. Those are just the ones I consider important right now aside from the dictionaries and thesauri. Anything by James Scott Bell is good in my opinion and I have that book.

Gary Corby is very good and he's a refreshing change from the regular mystery. Kind of like Hillerman was a nice adventure into something different. I've been semi listening to Hinterland lately, which is a Welsh mystery show. It's interesting, kind of noir.

InkStainedWench said...

Thanks, BJ. I'll go ahead and write those reviews.

Panda in Chief said...

Brigid, I was going to bring up the y'all alternative "youns" as well. I grew up in Pittsburgh, where youns was the plural of you. Glad to hear it is still in use.

I used to get all uptight and squirmy when people talked about marketing. Now that I understand about building relationships with people on a real, personal level, my views have changed. I still don't want to call it marketing though. 😬

Thanks for posting the link to the cat herding video. It's the best, even if I don't know what they are selling.
I love being part of this community. At the very least, I will never be at a loss for reading suggestions. And I plan to let all the folks from my mentor group know that not only can we buy each others' books, we can also ask our libraries to buy them! Huzzah

Beth said...

Colin - agreed. Yall is now the standard per Colin's proclamation.

BJ - I'll bet they sold a lot of glass. Book jingles - the next big thing.

Julie Weathers said...

All right, I've been mulling over how to tell this story without being too maudlin. I wasn't going to post this. Most of you know my story. Some of you don't. I wasn't going to post this, but I got a panicked call from a friend last night. I mean a seriously desperate call, one you lie awake wondering what you're going to find when you try to call in the morning. With that in mind, I decided to post this, because there may come a day when these thoughts cross your mind or you have to deal with someone entertaining these thoughts.

When my daughter died, my mother-in-law came to the hospital and the first words out of her mouth were, "I knew you were going to kill that baby."

When a baby is born premature and doesn't make it, the mother always thinks, what could I have done differently? They always blame themselves. So, she just confirmed what I had already been feeling.

She kept yammering. The church lady with her was aghast. I didn't say anything. Finally, a friend who was with me told Vickie's friend to get her out before she threw her out.

So, the seeds were planted. My daughter was dead and I had killed her.

Don was a longhaul truck driver. He stayed home a couple of weeks, but then he had to go back to work. I got a job and pretended to be normal. But when I was alone, and I was always alone, madness was a constant companion. The demons ruled the night.

I got all the chores done before dark. I forgot to eat unless someone reminded me or Don was home. I got down to 85 pounds and I normally weigh 129 pounds. I wasn't trying to lose weight, I just didn't remember to eat.

One night I was taking laundry into the bedroom and I saw Mirinda lying on the bed in her white christening dress and that little white bonnet. I knew she couldn't be there, but there she was. I threw the clothes in the air, screamed and slammed the bedroom door. The bathroom was next to the bedroom. I always made sure to use the bathroom before dark after that and didn't go down the hall. I lived in the front part of the house.

In the hospital I had cried over and over "I want my baby." I would cry myself to sleep saying that. So, I started having dreams. There was a knock on the door and I'd answer it. There were three hags at the door. The one in the middle was holding a small dirt-covered bundle. She'd hold it out to me and I realized it was a baby in a christening dress. It was Mirinda. Then they'd laugh and say, "Here's your baby, dearie."

As soon as I'd go to sleep I'd have the same nightmare. I had to take massive amounts of sleeping pills to get some sleep. I'd go days without sleeping because I was afraid to. My obstetrician wouldn't make an appointment to see me, but he'd prescribe pills out the ears. I had another obstetrician urge me to sue him because the delivery had been botched, I had retained part of the placenta and he didn't know it and wouldn't schedule follow up appointments, and I was very sick afterwards. I could have died. I was afraid the lawyers would start blaming me for stuff like they usually do and refused.

Julie Weathers said...

Anyway, I was so exhausted. The nightmares were so persistent. I sat in a corner most nights, knees tucked up under me and staring at the door, waiting for the demons.

The first time I tried to commit suicide it didn't work, obviously. I couldn't find the bullets.

The second time I took too many pills. I spent the night puking my guts up.

The third time I got it just right. I had just drifted off to sleep when some friends stopped by. Two couples we knew were going out to dinner and got to talking. One of them said, "Has anyone talked to Julie lately? Let's stop by for a minute and see how she's doing."

I was already out, but they got me up and walking. Made me throw up. Got coffee down me. And that was that. I'm such a failure!

Not long after that, my dad went to an auction and bought a box of history books. I think I mentioned this before and thought it was a flea market, but it was an auction because he bought something else at the auction at the same time. Anyway, he knew I loved history about the old west and found this box of books and bought it. He looked through them all, added a few others he'd bought and sent them to me.

One night while I was curled up in the corner, watching the door, I decided to try to read. I reached down in the box that was next to the chair and there was an Edgar Cayce book. One chapter was about suicide. He described a gray landscape devoid of all joy where souls of suicide victims stayed until they returned. A suicide victim is destined to repeat whatever circumstances caused them to take their life until they get through without the suicide. I thought, "My God. I can't do this once. I am not doing it again."

It didn't make everything better, but it closed that escape hatch.

Sometime after that, I was trying to sleep in the front bedroom. I was exhausted. I hadn't slept in days. My eyes closed and the nightmares started immediately. Without even thinking about it, I said, "Jesus, give me peace."

I was instantly filled with warmth and peace and fell into a deep, restful sleep. It wasn't a prayer. I was mad at God. I had begged and prayed to God to save her, but he ignore me.

Then I started repeating that each night and I was given peace and sleep. Eventually, I did return to the bible and God. I started healing.

I called Dad later and thanked him for the Edgar Cayce book. He said there wasn't one in the box. It was all history books.

During this time, I'd try to talk to people, but you could see they were uncomfortable, so I'd shut up. They'd pat my hand and say they knew then turn away. They'd tell me to get over it. Be strong. Tell me about someone else who lost five children.

If you know someone who's depressed, talk to them. Let them talk to you. Don't assume they're all right. Keep checking on them. Get them through the valley. Sometimes they're going to need professional help, but sometimes they just need a friend. They just need someone to listen to them.

Sorry to be such a downer.

Adib Khorram said...

Julie, thank you so much for sharing that with us. It was not a downer at all and you have nothing to apologize for.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Adib beat me to it, but that's because great minds think alike. Thank you for telling your story. Maybe it helps someone right now. I'm certainly going to remember this should (Lord forbid) I ever have to deal with such a situation.

Julie Weathers said...

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There are always better days ahead if person can just get through the darkness, whatever it takes to do that.

Now, let's move on to something less depressing. I'm sorry for dragging the post down.

Donnaeve said...

Julie, I do remember this story, though I could read it over and over again (hope that doesn't sound morbid), b/c there's such a message of hope at the end.

This is your Dad saved you via an auction story - although I don't recollect if you had mentioned it like that before. No matter, the message is what's important, and the way you shared it!

No apologies, like Adib said.

CynthiaMc said...

Not so fast, Colin! Keep your paws off my Dixie Dupree bookmark. While I don't go hunting them, I accept them with a smile.

Alabama's 2-cents here - y'all is 2nd person plural. All y'all is 3 or more. And the apostrophe goes between the y and all because it takes the place of the o and u that fell off along the way.

Congrats, Jenn! And anyone else I may have missed in the chaos that has been my life of late.

Looking forward to a totally unscheduled 3-day weekend! Wahoo!

Julie Weathers said...

Back on topic, I'm curious about the comment the story sells the book, not the author. I think I've read everything by Agatha Christie. I used to wait anxiously for the next Jude Devereaux romance to come out.

One author I won't promote. I loved her first book except she left the reader dangling, wondering what happens next. Couldn't wait for her second one and she took five years to write it. It's not a G.R.R. Martin book, these are pretty simple fantasies. Then she cuts off with another cliffhanger and that's it. I would read another of her books ever. Never again. I don't care if it was a completed five book series and they released them all at once. She's broken her trust with me.

Sometimes it is the author.

Beth said...

Julie, far from dragging it down, you've lifted me up with your story of a miracle. I'll say a prayer for your friend.

And I totally agree about breaking the trust. At the end of a book, I need closure. Period.

CynthiaMc said...

When I was in high school one of my classmates committed suicide. We were all stunned. He was an only child. His parents were devastated. All these years later I still think of him and wonder if there was anything I could have done.

One of my niece's best friends tried to hang herself and lingered in the hospital for weeks. None of us saw it coming. Over 10 years later her friends still ask themselves what they could have done.

I work in Behavioral Health. Sometimes we hear of one of former patients committing suicide. The nurses and techs always wonder if there was anything more they could have done.

Bottom line - no matter how unloved you may feel at any given moment, there are more people than you think who care a great deal about you. Don't do that to them.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: Depression sucks. I'm so glad you made it through that terrible time, because we'd all be much poorer for never knowing you. Thank you for still being here.

Your friend is lucky to have you. Sometimes it's our darkest moments that help us help our friends through theirs.

For me, it's been my dogs and faith that God has something better planned for me that's kept me going. The dogs have kept me grounded, giving me a need to be here to take care of them, and the faith keeps me moving towards the future.

Julie Weathers said...


I did a human interest story on Billy Jack Barrett who is the head of the horse program at the Air Force Academy. They have a strong program that works with PTSD sufferers and wounded vets and their families. One of the great things is when the soldiers and their families get to go riding together because all limitations are gone when everyone's on a horse.

For the PTSD people it's the horses who work their magic. They won't open up to the therapists a lot of times, but they get to working with the horses and then they gradually start talking to each other. They form a bond with each other and let down. They let it all out and the healing can begin.

It's a tremendous program.

Marcus Lutrell, Lone Survivor, keeps a service dog. He also went back to the country to his horses.

Lennon Faris said...

Julie - Thanks for sharing your story. I remember it from before but hadn't connected it to the auction bit. I work with a gal who went through something similar. I always want to learn more how to talk (...listen) to ones who are having a tough time. So, thanks for sharing.

Julie Weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJ Muntain said...

Julie: Animals are incredible for putting people at ease. Animals are living, breathing beings that need care and companionship - and they don't judge. Mr. Barrett's program sounds perfect.

Lennon: Julie knows what she's talking about. And you've already got the key - to listen. Sometimes people just need to be validated, to be treated like a person, to be heard. And, as Julie says, to have someone there. And if they need more than that, steer them towards a professional - their doctor, a help line, someone who's been trained to help them in that way.

There've been many times in my life when I've regretted something I've said, but I've never regretted a minute of listening to someone who needs to be heard.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Julie, glad you shared your story. These stories do help others. My grandmother told of her isolation and loneliness when Aunt Patty died as a baby. Nobody knew what to do, what to say, so they did nothing. That was probably the hardest thing about Aunt Patty's death.

When I lost my first one I felt so isolated and alone until other women started sharing their stories. (Subsequent babies still hurt, but not as much.)

When my cousin lost one of hers (an 11-year-old), she says it was the stories of others that helped her get through this sudden and tragic loss.

When you hear others' stories, you don't feel so alone in your grief.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

CynthiaMc said: "I don't use bookmarks. I find post it notes work better..."

Am thinking that the next convention I go to, instead of handing out bookmarks, I hand out pre-printed Post-its. Those things get stuck to everything!

Speaking of marketing, (and if I can get a govt grant to fund it), I was thinking of putting my books in the freebie bags at the next convention.

Normally, when one goes to an SFF convention (think WorldCon or World Fantasy; in this case, SwanCon), one gets a bag full of book swag. Usually, many of these books end up on the Freebie table for anyone who wants a second or third copy. But a lot of people take these books home and eventually read them.

So I'm thinking, one of my books in every bag.

But it's not the same book.

Some of the bags will have Book 1, another Book 2 and the rest Book 3.

It would be fun to see how long it takes for people to notice.

May also put a sticker on each book letting ppl know I'm at the convention and if they can find me, I'll sign the book for them. I know I'm more likely to read a book if I've met the author and have a lovely chat.

It's all about making that personal connection.

P.s.: My mother is from Appalachia. This gives me rights to use y'all, even though I'm more south than, well, all y'all.

P.P.s.: All the Pacific Islanders here use "yous" (plural of you) and it drives me nuts. But then, English is not their first language.

Julie Weathers said...


Sharing is one of the things that does help. When God started putting me in the path of women who had lost babies so I could talk to them, it helped. I could tell them this is what you can expect. It gets better. Yes, have another baby. No, it never stops, but you can go on and you'll be happy again.

It opened the wounds again for me, but it was part of the healing process to be able to talk to them as no one else could and answer their questions.

Julie Weathers said...

I like post it notes for marking passages I want to come back to for reference. Bookmarks last forever, though. I love bookmarks. I keep lots of them because I always have more than one book going.