Thursday, June 4, 2015

Marketing: Every Novelist Needs an E-mail List

I will be brief. Every novelist needs an e-mail list.

Every novelist. The reason is simple.

E-mail works. That is, it works when you do it right. I’ll grant that it fails miserably when you do it wrong, just like everything else.

Over the past ten years, we authors have been bombarded with a huge laundry list of things we “should” be doing to market our books. We’re supposed to blog. And be active on Facebook. And get into Google Plus. And build a Twitter following. And get on Goodreads (carefully). And run Pinterest boards. And be on Instagram. And get involved in every fancy new wingding gizmo that comes along.

Ouch, that’s a heavy load. Those may all be fine things, but I strongly believe that e-mail is best for actually making the sale when you launch a book. Please note that qualification—when you launch a book.

A book launch is a critical part of your marketing strategy, if you’re traditionally published, because your book only has a short window of time in bookstores before the returns start. 

A book launch is merely very important for indie authors, because you only have 30 days of eligibility for the Hot New Releases lists, and the HNR lists really drive sales.

Let’s not waste time arguing theory. I’ll show you some data from a widely respected marketer—Darren Rowse, the brains behind the Website. 

Darren’s one of the best bloggers around. He’s also on various forms of social media. And he’s got an e-mail list.

A couple of years ago, Darren launched an e-book and tracked the results of his marketing efforts. Please read the results here:

I’ll summarize:
     His affiliates accounted for 3% of his sales.
     Social media accounted for 3% of his sales. 
     His blog posts accounted for 7% of his sales.
     E-mail accounted for the remaining 87% of his sales.
Note that his social media efforts included Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. But e-mail by itself was 29 times more effective than all his social media efforts combined.

Note that his e-mail was more than 12 times as effective as his blog posts—and this is Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger guy. Darren blogs for a living. 

This is not a hard call to make. E-mail rocks—for making the sale when you launch a book.

I’ll repeat one thing. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do any sort of promotion. If you do e-mail wrong, you’re not going to get good results. So do e-mail right. 

You YA writers may be grumbling that teens don’t read e-mail. That may be true, but plenty of adults are in your target audience, including me. And adults read e-mail. Your best way to sell to them is via e-mail. You might need to find another way to reach those teens.

When I teach marketing at writing conferences, I try to spend a full hour on e-mail marketing. Because it’s critically important. 

But it’s been a few years since I discussed e-mail marketing in this e-zine. Many of you haven’t been subscribing that long, so this may be new to you. Expect me to talk more about e-mail over the next few issues.

When you have a good strong e-mail list, it’s like having your own personalized version of BookBub that you can use whenever you want.

How cool is that?

We’ll continue this discussion over the next several issues of this e-zine.

Bottom line for now: Every novelist needs an e-mail list. 

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 12,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it,

Friday, May 22, 2015

New Release in the Wounded Heroes Series

The story of Hope and Nick from the series prequel, Christmas with Hope, continues.
You can download Christmas with Hope for free at Desert Breeze Publishing

Hope and Nick are on leave from the Army when Nick receives word his sister has gone missing. Beth, a want-a-be investigative reporter, has been digging into the disappearance of her childhood friend who's been missing for five years. They soon discover she isn't the only one unaccounted for in the area and the closer they get to the answers that will lead to Beth, the more dangerous it becomes.

Thrown into the volatile situation are the personal struggles of Nick and Hope. Nick, suffering from PTSD, is a powder keg ready to explode. Hope, facing her own demons, is his lifeline to sanity. She has to convince him he needs help or their whole world might come crashing down. Nick is a proud Ranger though. Admitting his weakness could destroy the respect and trust of the men who depend on him. It's not a risk he's willing to take.


Hope heard a woman holler and jerked her head to the left.

A man wearing a black hoodie stood next to her rental car with Hope's backpack.

"Hey, put that back!" Hope started across the street, but the man took off running through the park.

Hope dropped her package and chased after him. Like running an obstacle course, she dashed in and out of small groups of tourists, picnic tables, and trash barrels, quickly gaining distance on the thief. Hope exited the park, ran into the street -- nearly colliding with a SUV -- and pursued him down the sidewalk. He darted down an alley and Hope followed. The adrenaline rushing through her veins wiped out any fear of repercussions as to what might happen once she caught him. All she cared about was getting back that laptop.

Halfway down the alley, he stumbled and fell against a clutter of trashcans. He shoved them over into her path and kept running. Hope jumped over the cans, thankful for the years of physical training the Army had insisted on. She was right on his heels now. A few more feet and she would have him. For a brief second she considered the possibility that he had a gun and this could be a very bad idea.

Shoving commonsense aside, she tackled him around the waist.

Her right elbow and knee hit the cement at the same time. Pain shot through her joints. The thief drew back his arm. Hope jerked her head back but not quick enough. Solid bone struck the corner of her left eye and her grip loosened on him. He squirmed from her arms. She reached for the backpack, dangling on his arm, and managed to grab one of the straps. He attempted to rip it free but she kept a death grip on it, allowing the momentum to pull her up. As she came up, she pivoted and swept his leg out from under him, causing him to lose his balance -- and his grip on the bag. He fell back then scrambled to his feet and ran down the alley.

Hope grabbed the backpack with both hands and knelt over to catch her breath. Whew. Thanks for having my back, Lord.

On the walk back, Hope thought of the thumb drive and phone in her pockets and checked to make sure they weren't damaged in the scuffle. She checked the flash drive first and it appeared fine. She wouldn't know for sure until she accessed it on a computer. Hope pulled the phone from her right pocket. The protective case was cracked but the phone itself seemed to be working. She saw Nick had called. She didn't even hear it ring so he must have called during her pursuit. Hope called him back but it went straight to voicemail. She was about to leave a message when she noticed everyone in the park looking at her. Guess they've never seen a mad woman chase after a thief before. She shoved her phone back in her pocket and kept walking.

"You had me worried sick, girl." Kory stood with a deputy at Hope's rental car. "Are you completely insane?"

"I got it back." So it wasn't the smartest thing to do. And the guy did get away. At least she wouldn't have to explain to Beth what happened to her laptop.

"Are you alright, ma'am?" the deputy asked.

"I'm probably going to have a shiner tomorrow but other than that, I'm okay." She looked down at the broken glass underneath the backdoor. "Good thing I got the insurance."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Craft: Writing Deeper Characters by Randy Ingermanson

Deep characters are not deep merely because there’s something magical about them that sets them apart from other characters.

Deep characters are deep because the author chose to go deep with them. The author could have chosen to go shallow, and the result would have been shallow characters.

Any character can be a deep character. Any character can be a shallow character. 

It’s not about who your characters are, it’s about what you choose to do with them.

I’m convinced that a very powerful way to go deep with your characters is to interview them.

Set up the interview in Q and A format. Ask your character a question. Then get inside the character’s skin and answer the question—in that character’s voice.

This works for several reasons:

It Alternates Between Analysis and Creation

Asking questions gives you a chance to put on your analyst’s hat. You get to ask the hard questions about motivation and values. You can probe as much as you want into your character’s mind.

Answering those hard questions gives you a chance to put on your creative hat. You get to become the character, exactly as you would if you were writing a scene from that character’s point of view.

But in an interview, you don’t have to worry about action and description. You can focus on speech patterns, mental patterns, emotional patterns. 

And you don’t have to worry about being “interesting” to the reader, because nobody will ever read your character interview. The interview is just for you to get to know your character.

It Gives You Practice Being Each Character

This is essential, because as you write each scene, you need to become the point-of-view character for the duration of that scene. You need to slip inside that character’s skin. You need to convince your reader that she is that character.

This is not easy. It’s a little easier in first-person than in third-person. And when you’re interviewing your character, you’re always answering the questions in first person. You’re speaking as that character. So this is your chance to practice. But this is not mere practice time. This is practice time that also teaches you new things about your character.

One of the hardest things to do in fiction is to develop unique voices for each character. It’s way too easy to have all your characters sound alike. The interview is an opportunity to develop all the little verbal tics for each character. You’ll learn which words they overuse. What grammatical liberties they take. How they think and how they express themselves.

It’s Not Your Fault

When you interview your character, you can let him go off on tangents and take all the wrong turns that are bound to happen as you learn who your characters are. After all, your characters are human, so they’re bound to make mistakes.

But it’s them making the mistakes, not you. So if they go off into left field, you can rein them in, delete all the dumb things they said, and start over. And it’s all their fault, not yours.

Yes, this is a psychological game you’re playing with yourself. No, there’s nothing wrong with this. Any time you can make it safe to take chances in your story development, that’s a good thing.

It’s Fun

Interviewing your character is incredibly fun. And incredibly powerful. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on something amazing. 

You can do this at any point in your story development. It’s especially helpful if you’re still planning the story, or if you’ve painted your story into a corner, or if you’re worried that your character’s motivations don’t make sense.

Try it now. Pick any one of your characters. Open a document and start asking questions. Ask one, then answer it right away. Then ask another, and answer it right away. Keep doing that until you’re done. You’ll know when you’re done. Your instincts are smart about being done.

If you don’t enjoy the process, then don’t do it again.

But I bet you will. I bet if you try this once, you’ll be hooked for life.

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 10,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it,

The Pink Glove Dance for Breast Cancer Awareness