Available For Pre-Order only on Amazon
Ursula wiped her sweaty palms down the front of her skirt as she walked into the hiring manager’s office for a third round of interviewing. She hoped that having made such progress would result in a job offer. She also hoped her palms hadn’t left smears of dampness on the fabric.
“Now, Ms. Cartwright, we’ll need a blood sample,” Mr. Argosie said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the cluttered surface of his desk.
“A blood sample?” she echoed, questioning the odd request.
“Yes. We need to verify the absence of any illegal substances.”
“Surely, a urine test is sufficient?”
His pudgy fingers steepled under his clean shaven double chin. “Not at this level, Ms. Cartwright. We deal with highly sen-sitive material and a clear and lucid mind is necessary. Besides, a blood test will catch anything remaining in your system for a longer period of time than a urine test.”
Although reluctant, Ursula agreed because she could not refute his assertion with any confidence. With a small smile, Mr. Argosie called in a phlebotomist who entered and drew a vial of blood with brusque efficiency.
“We test for more than the usual half dozen illegal substances, Ms. Cartwright.”
... escape me.
I know marketing is crucial for authors to sell anything, much less make a living from their books. But once we get past "write a blog," I'm lost. I don't tweet or twitter or whatever the hell that is. I don't use Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the hell they are. I participate on LinkedIn, but mainly for ghostwriting and editing work. I don't really use it to promote my books, although I do post "Brag time!" announcements when a book gets a particularly glowing review.
When we get to Facebook ads, pay per click, etc., it all goes right over my head. Or maybe through my head without stopping between the ears. I'm hopeless. I know marketing's important, but ... ugh.
I missed those early days of e-books by jumping on that bandwagon when the market hit saturation level and made clever marketing even more vitally important than ever. Sometimes I'm an idiot or just blind.
One problem I know I have is that old nonsense drilled into me--and many women my age and older--during youth: "Let your work speak for itself. Don't toot your own horn." That doesn't work in commerce today. With an increasing deluge of choices from which to select, the most effective marketing techniques are those that shout the loudest and distract potential customers from rival products.
I'm not kidding about the competition. First, let's set filters: romance genre, English, new within the last 30 days. As of today, Amazon posted over over 10,000 new books. Now, let's add two more filters: paranormal and Kindle. The 30-day total goes down to 935 new releases. My latest release, Triple Burn, goes live on April 15 and will compete with those 10,000-plus new releases. If I change the search parameter of "paranormal" to "science fiction," the odds improve: only 227 new titles were published in the last 30 days.
I read articles that emphasize the important of proper categorization. Triple Burn isn't really science fiction, at least not from a purist's standpoint. After all, it doesn't take place in the future, it's nothing like Star Trek, and Isaac Asimov would spin in his grave to have my story lumped in with his venerated works. What makes Triple Burn science fiction is that it's not paranormal (no witches, vampires, shape shifters, or other mythical beings) and it's not fantasy (no hint of magic or mythical creatures, although all romances are fantasies). It's contemporary, but not.
Using the correct keywords also helps, or so I'm told. With Triple Burn, I've made a real effort to employ that strategy of using keywords and phrases that will help readers searching for books like that find my book: alien, abduction, alpha male, reverse harem, romance. With the stiffly competitive nature of fiction, hitting the right search terms should at least bring the book up in more searches.
Book marketing requires good design. I posted some cover options that I designed. The floated like a lead balloon. So, I hired a cover designer. The experience working with that designer left a bit to be desired, but the cover she created is better than anything I could do. It helps to know the limits of one's skill: I'd clearly reached mine.
A good book description (a.k.a. "cover blurb") also helps. I enlisted help with that, too. I find it difficult to summarize my books, probably because I never start with a plot summary or outline. I get an idea and run with it, following where it leads me. Writing a cover blurb differs greatly from writing the book. It must hook potential readers, giving them some idea of the plot, but not revealing the whole of that plot. Since it's a romance, readers know it will have an HEA (a.k.a. "happily ever after"). That's a moot point. Romance readers don't read for the ending; they read for the journey. A well-crafted cover blurb entices readers to embark upon that journey.
Regardless, book sales are an uncertain thing. Before extending a contract to ghostwrite for someone, I discuss the project. Some clients are convinced that their ideas will translate into best selling books. In a way, that's good, because they need to believe in the worth of that idea in order to invest in hiring a professional writer. In other ways, that's not so good, because I feel honor-bound to warn them that the likelihood of them ever recouping their investment in royalties is slim to none: they'll have to engage in and/or pay a lot more in marketing to do that.
Marketing. It's a necessary evil.
This week's blog prompt concerns the difference between bragging and marketing. In essence, they're not the same: marketing concerns persuading people to take action (e.g., buy my book). Bragging consists of proclaiming how wonderful something or someone is. When one brags about one's own prowess or accomplishment, it often backfires. When one brags about someone else's accomplishment or prowess, it falls under praise. Carried to excess, both become tiresome.
Marketing requires some measure of bragging. No one is going to be persuaded to do something by telling him that doing so won't benefit them in some way. For instance, I certainly couldn't sell a book by telling potential readers that the book sucks. "Do you enjoy banal dialogue, hackneyed plots, and lots of grammatical errors? If so, then buy this book!"
Nope, not gonna happen.
On the other hand, if someone whose opinion you trust says, "This book really captured my interest and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was great!" then you'll probably consider buying a copy.
Marketing uses positive persuasion toward a desired outcome. The tactics marketers can be deceptive and invasive, but that's another issue entirely. And as for braggadocio? It's not conceit if it's true.
*Warning Graphic Content*
Inessa whimpered, cowered in a corner, and tried to protect her head from the blows raining down on her.
“Yebanaya suka!” Ruslan shouted as he switched from using his fists to kicking her with his booted feet. He preferred pointy-toed cowboy boots.
Inessa moaned as she felt another rib give way, the crack inaudible beneath the thud of his boot against her side and his bellowed curses.
“Cheat on me, will you? You dare to sleep with another man?” he yelled in Russian. “Fucking bitch! No man will want to touch you after I’m through with you!”
She groaned again, her voice hoarse and no singular pain distinguishable from another among the contusions and broken bones resulting from yet another perceived infraction of Ruslan’s many rules. She should have known better than to smile when thanking the nice young man for helping to carry and then load the groceries into the car. But it had been so nice to have someone do something for her just that once, especially since she hadn’t quite healed from the last beating.
Inessa felt the blackness of oblivion cloud her mind. She welcomed it and hoped it would stay.
Losing his patience with the boor, Gennady’s other hand snapped out and struck Ruslan in the throat. With a gasp and a wheeze, the big man dropped to his knees and clutched his throat. Gennady set the razor edge of his knife to Ruslan’s sweaty neck and said, “Shut up.”
Ruslan nodded as the hot smell of urine filled the air. Gennady nearly smiled at the rapidly spreading stain on the bully’s jeans. Straightening, he walked with purpose toward the other side of the house and peered into the kitchen. Dark, wet spatters caught his notice. Muttering an oath, he rushed into the room and gurgled with horror at the bloody bit of hamburger, hair, and fabric that lay curled up and insensible on the tile floor. He reached out to touch the woman. The skin was still warm. He found her arm and followed its line to her wrist, which was obviously broken. Swallowing a bellow of rage and horror, he extended two fingers and pressed them to what he hoped was the pulse point of her neck. Nothing. He slid his fingers around the bloody mess of her until the sensitive fingertips found the right spot. He sighed. Though her heartbeat was rapid and weak, Inessa still lived.
Gennady drew back his hand and pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed 911. When assured that an ambulance was on its way, he went back to deal with Ruslan.
Ruslan had fled.
Gennady cursed. He returned to squat beside Inessa and found her other hand. He held her limp hand in his, hoping to impart some small measure of warmth and caring to the young woman he’d always regarded as an innocent little sister to be protected from depraved men like himself and bullies like Ruslan. Suddenly, the sight of a woman’s bruised and broken body nauseated him. Releasing Inessa’s hand, he lurched to the scrupulously clean bathroom and vomited. Gennady vowed to be more gentle with his beloved Suzanne when he returned to Cleveland. She’d given him her trust and he would not abuse it.
Gennady returned to kneel beside Inessa to hold her hand and whisper apologies for not having protected her. Not soon enough for his impatience, paramedics arrived. He welcomed them into the house and endured their questioning as they did what they needed to do to transport Inessa to a hospital.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
For more information:
View Guest Author Posts
Book Of The Month
Book Cover Promotions