A great resource for sites that accept self-published books. You should bookmark this link if only for the fact that it puts a lot of great sites in one location. Use caution though and make sure you do the proper due diligence for each site before handing over your money. As SPR says, “the top ten are those sites where authors have had the most success (not BookBub success, but…success).” One author’s success is another author’s mediocre or, worse, absolute failure.
Being a storyteller and working in advertising has its advantages. Each feeds the other to a degree. Storytelling is often about selling an idea. And some of the most memorable ads ever created were those that told a compelling story. So, that may be why a few of the “stories” told during last night’s Super Bowl commercials left me scratching my head.
Not every ad has to tell a story. Sometimes the funniest, most memorable ads are irreverent (though I’m often challenged to remember what those ads were for). But, if you’ve got an ad that’s supposed to tell a story, that story has to make sense. Beginning, middle, end. Compelling message that’s pulled through in the last act. Tough to do in a 60 second spot, but some ads pulled it off. I mean, the Budweiser dog being saved by the horses? It’s such a gimmick! But, it’s a gimmick that works. Dog gets lost, dog struggles to find his way back home, dog is saved by his friends at the last minute, friends reunite, and we live happily ever after. It’s simple, effective storytelling.
And then we had the Nissan commercial. Dad races cars (Nissan’s specifically), so Dad’s never home, and Mom and son watch his races, and the kid gets in trouble (I think) as he grows up, and then he’s leaving school and Dad’s there to pick him up in his new Nissan and… that’s it? And, as if that wasn’t poor storytelling in general, you’ve got Harry Chapin’s depressingly ominous Cats in the Cradle playing in the background the whole time. I was so absolutely confused by the message of this ad. Absentee parenting is absolved by the kind of car you drive? For the life of me, I couldn’t resolve the story or the message. Did it stick with me? Yes, but for the wrong reasons.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the Nationwide commercial, even if you didn’t watch the Super Bowl. The spot starts out whimsically, with a child talking about all of the things he’ll “never get to do.” Ride a bike, get cooties (animated into fuzzy little creatures), learn to fly, etc. Each “I’ll never…” gets progressively more dream-like and we’re feeling bad for this little boy because he has all of these ambitions and dreams that he’s probably just too small to realize. And then comes the sucker punch. the little boy looks into the camera and explains why “he’ll never.” “I couldn’t grow up because I died from an accident.” then the camera cuts to an overflowing bathtub, and open cabinet under a sink, and a toppled flat screen TV, with the phrase “The number one cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents.” Uhhhhh…. what?! My son, who sometimes has issues separating reality from fiction (he walks along the edge of Asperger’s), happened to be watching that commercial. “Wait… did that boy die?” he said. I was stunned. I had no idea how to explain a commercial I was still having a hard time processing. “It’s not real, Buddy. It’s fiction.” “Oh.” The message? Maybe it was to counter Allstate’s “accidents happen,” but it felt more like “stop letting your kids die in accidents!” Yikes. Sorry, Nationwide, but you started telling a fantasy and ended with horror/tragedy. That’s not a crossover anyone wants to see.
Oh, and then there was that dancing cartoon foot with a fungal infection. Um… no. Just… no.
Did you watch the game? Did you have a favorite commercial? One that left you scratching your head? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 🙂
The Writer’s Digest 2015 Writer’s Yearbook provided a list of 101 best websites for writers (available only to subscribers or folks who sign up for their newsletter). What follows is my own personal top list of websites based on their selections, with a few additions of my own. In no particular order:
1. thestorystarter.com – This is just plain old writing fun. Need a writing spark? Head over to story starter and click the button. Sure, what you get might be nonsense, but it might also get your gears turning. You never know what will spark your next story idea or plot development.
2. Grammar Girl – I am not a grammarian. Most people… even writers aren’t, but it’s an important part of what we do. Have a grammar question? Like, “Is my participle dangling?” Head here. Grammar girl has the answers.
3. Joe Konrath (or A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing) – I’ll admit it, reading Joe Konrath’s blog is one of the reasons I got into self-publishing. Over the years, it’s become a bit acerbic, but Joe tells it like it is when it comes to the publishing industry and his beliefs in the potential for authors to succeed in self publishing.
4. Preditors and Editors – This is a great resource, especially if you’re thinking of signing on with someone to publish your work. They’ve sniffed out the scams and the con artists. Should be part of any due diligence before giving anyone your money to do work for you.
5. Writer Unboxed – While I don’t visit this site as often as I used to, it’s really a great resource. Plenty of great content written by a wide variety of regular bloggers and contributers. A great community focused on everything writing.
6. Slushpile Hell – As a self-published author, a blog about query mistakes and submission pet peeves doesn’t hit home quite so hard. But, if you’re looking for a great source of what NOT to do when submitting to agents, this is the place to go.
7. Mediabistro.com – Looking for a writing job? This is a great place to start.
Now, a few of my personal favorites to round out the top 10 that didn’t make WD’s list.
8. Alltop (Publishing) – Alltop is an aggregator site that you can customize to show you any news from top blogs that you want. In this case, I use their Publishing site. It’s a great way to see all of the most popular blogs in one site, with the most recent article titles on the same page. Great for finding news to share or get ideas for your own blog posts.
9. Hugh Howey – If there was a “good cop” to Joe Konrath’s “bad cop” in the self-publishing world, it would be Hugh Howey. While Joe tries to beat everyone over the head with his (usually well thought out) anti-establishment rhetoric, Hugh is more about sharing his experiences and letting the reader decide what’s best. His Author Earnings Reports can be eye opening to those considering self publishing.
10. Writer’s Cafe (at kboards.com) – If there was an accomplice to Joe Konrath in convincing me to self publish, it was the Writer’s Cafe forum over at kboards.com (formerly kindleboards.com). While the forum isn’t quite as it used to be (good things never last), it’s still an invaluable resource of self-publishing experience. Want to know if a marketing site is worth the money? Want to know how to price your novel? Want to know which 3rd-party distributor to consider? There’s someone there who has seen it/done it.
I hope you find this list useful! Any sites you recommend? Let us know in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!
Amazon recently announced the release of a pay-per-click advertising program for authors with books enrolled in Kindle Select. On your bookshelf, you’ll see a new option next to your Select books called, Promote and Advertise. The program, which had been rumored to be in beta months ago, is similar to other pay-per-click programs I’ve seen on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. You can target your advertising by product or interest. From Amazon:
Product-targeted ads appear on Amazon.com when shoppers browse for the products you select and similar products. Targeting by product may yield fewer impressions but more interested buyers.
Interest-targeted ads appear on Amazon.com to shoppers who have demonstrated an interest in the categories you select. Because you’re casting a wider net, targeting by interest may yield more impressions.
You set your bid amount, but be forewarned that your minimum budget amount is $100. This is certainly different from other systems, where you can usually set your budget to whatever amount you want, allowing you to run short, inexpensive campaigns. Strange that Amazon would do this, as it might limit the number of folks throwing their hat into the advertising ring. Which might also be a good thing.
Also, I’ve heard talk from some of the beta testers and the results are bland at best, horrible at worst, with a very poor return on investment. As with any new marketing venture, I recommend looking around for hands-on experience (try this thread in the Writer’s cafe over at kboards.com). There is no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to advertising.
I’m sure I’ll give it a shot at some point, but I’m not quite in a position to drop $100 at the moment. When I do, I’ll be sure to report the results.
Do you have experience with this new program? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 🙂
So, while I have no standard ads scheduled for my books in the coming months, I have a couple of events that might fall under the category of “irregular marketing.”
The first is part of an interview series that is being conducted by my company. It’s a network-wide initiative to identify employees who have aspirations outside of their career (don’t we all?). It’ll be a short interview and photo (with me holding my book very prominantly). Now, if I worked for a small company, this might not get my hopes up, but the network is close to 11,000 people worldwide. Not too shabby.
The next two events are somewhat similar. I was invited back (apparently by popular demand) to my alma mater (The Richard Stockton College of NJ) to appear on a career exploration panel for Literature majors in February. While I never see this as an opportunity to sell books, I’ll be taking along a copy of Danny Dirks to at least show it off a bit. 😉
Then, in April, I ‘ll be part of a panel at the same venue to discuss Publishing in the 21st Century. My first paid speaking gig! At that event, the organizer said I’ll have a chance to read and sell books afterwards.
These types of events aren’t the kind you can simply sign up for, which I guess is why I call it irregular marketing. But, these are exactly the kinds of things that can surprise you with results. I probably won’t sell hundreds of books, but I may make a personal connection with someone who becomes a fan. These types of opportunities are priceless. so, when you’ve reached a point, where you just can’t handle the disappointment of a mediocre advertisement, take a good look at local resources. Does your alma mater have a newsletter that highlights alumni achievements? What about the local newspaper (if your town still has one of those archaic beasts)? Maybe the library has a discussion panel you could be a part of?
Anyway, I hope maybe these little tidbits help spur your own irregular marketing ideas. I’ll definitely follow up with results (if any!) as the events come.
Any irregular events of your own on the horizon? Please share in the comments! 😀
I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the TV interview series, Writers2Writers, I was a part of. Originally aired in the Fall of 2014, the series features guests talking about all sorts of author- and writer-related content. There’s something for everyone! [Update: I’ll be adding new episodes to the list below as they are released throughout the year.]
Episode 1 covered writing an anthology, NaNoWriMo, and using Kindle Direct Publishing (with yours truly!).
Episode 2 discussed paranormal fiction writing, outlining your novel, and the dos and don’ts for landing a literary agent.
Episode 3 featured memoir writing, scifi/fantasy world building, and the author/editor relationship.
Episode 4 talked about the New Jersey Authors’ Network, writing conflict for characters, and facts and figures on selling your book to a publishing house.
Episode 5 discussed the ebook price war, how to mend a “broken” scene, and starting your own writing group.
Episode 6 covered historical fiction writing, overcoming writer’s block, and book cover design.
Episode 7 is about character creation, revision checklists, and strategies for time management.
Episode 8 delves into writing young adult (YA) fiction, tips from guests at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, and an action plan for book marketing.
I hope you find these videos informative and helpful! 😀