Don’t Be Dazzled By Numbers

As authors, we very quickly discover that we must also become marketers. Matter of fact, whether traditionally published or not, the vast majority of the marketing for our writing falls on us. That is the nature of the business. With an increased number of authors, especially Indie authors, there are also a multitude of book marketing services cropping up.

Like any industry, book marketing firms have fierce competition. There are a lot of them. Despite there being more authors than ever before, there is still a limited number of us that they can appeal to, so they do what they can to make their services as attractive as possible. After all, they’re in the marketing business, so they’re going to market their services to us. But remember, not all marketing services or firms are created equal. Below are some things to think about.

Big numbers look impressive. Any basic marketing class will tell you that. We measure pretty much everything in numbers. Here’s the problem. Contrary to popular belief, numbers don’t always tell the truth, or the whole truth for that matter (mathematicians will probably be upset about that). Question the numbers. When you are talking with someone who is trying to sell you services, it’s important to discover their success rate with said services (or if it is a newer service, whether or not you’re a guinea pig). Here are some examples:

Book Trailers: Something I’ve seen is book trailer services being offered as uploading the video to x number of sites (20, 30, 40, however many). The first question from you should be what sites they are. When marketing your book, you’re going to want to stick with your target market. A video site meant for humor is not going to be the place for a romance book trailer. Also, there are numerous video sites that don’t want any type of propaganda.

Check the rankings. No video site gets more traffic than YouTube. You can view the top 15 sites yourself: Top Video Websites. As you can see, YouTube gets 450,000,000 unique visitors per month (that’s not hits, that’s actual individuals). The second place site, Hulu, gets 40,000,000. It decreases from there. So then you can ask yourself if the extra expense for a service this firm is advertising to have a video uploaded to 50 different sites when YouTube really gets all the traffic for files like this.

In addition, forget the numbers, how are people going to see YOUR video in an ocean of millions, even billions of other videos? That’s going to fall on you to send out links, embed it in your website, etc. So, even better, you’re going to market your marketing!

A counter argument could be that the more sites your video is uploaded to, the more likely it is to be viewed. That is true. However, again, ask yourself about the theme of these sites. People go to certain sites looking for certain material. If you video is not amongst that, it’s spam and it will probably be ignored (it may even get removed). Also, even if it falls into the interest group, you may get the same handful of people getting the same video in the same searches on each site so you’re really not appealing to a bigger crowd.

Enough harping on videos as I already did that in another post. Another thing to look out for is the “exponential chances of success” angle. That’s when someone tells you that you are 2x more likely to do something or 3x more likely if you use this service. More likely than what? If you take .0001% and apply this formula, that means you have now changed it to .0002% or .0003%. Statements like this are unsubstantiated. They’re leaving a lot out.

Question when a marketing firm tells you how many clients they have or how many books they’ve done marketing for. Think about it. If a marketing firm makes the claim of having 3,000 authors as clients, then ask some serious questions. “How many of these authors have sold more than 1000 books as a result of your services?” “How many of these authors are New York Times Bestsellers or USA Today Bestsellers?” “How many repeat customers do you have?” This one is especially important. Just because someone signs up once does not mean they will sign up again. Firms interested in quick turnover money simply try to get as many people to pay their fee as possible, with no interest in return business (which means their service is probably crap). In that respect, ask “How many of these clients have indicated that they would recommend you to someone else?” There are plenty of people who sign up for marketing services, realize it’s a rip off, and walk away. They will probably lose their money but the firm depends on this client’s voice not being heard while subsequently trying to discover more hapless victims.

Question testimonials. Again, similar to the number of clients, who are these testimonials from? Are they known authors? What percentage of clients write testimonials? Are any of these clients successful as a result? In addition, since these are supposedly authors, look their names up on Amazon and see if you can find their writing and possibly their sales ranking, book reviews, etc. Names like “J. Smith” are suspect. It’s even better if they provide a link to the person’s book(s) and/or website (and some do).

Ask about guarantees. Marketers can make some bold statements but what about guarantees? You see it all the time in service agreements. “No guarantee that you will sell books.” Seriously? It’s a book marketing service that you’re raving about and you’re telling me that you don’t stand behind it? Now, this industry IS volatile, and not every specific technique alone sells books. You will need to use common sense. If you pay $1500 for a service that offers no type of guarantee, I would question whether or not you will actually sell anything as a result. That’s a lot of money to drop with no reasonable expectation of return. If you pay $20 to have your book cover image posted on the main page of a blog that has 1000 visitors a month, may actually be worth it. They have a decent amount of traffic, and depending on your royalties, you may only need to sell a few books to make that back. In the meantime, it’s one more spot that people are seeing your book.

No matter what anyone tells you, book marketing is a tough business. It’s easy to get swallowed up in all of these various offers and services. It gets overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there. Just take a step back and give your options serious thought. Shooting for that one thing that causes your book to go viral is like depending on winning the lottery to pay your bills. Not very likely. Dedication to your writing and constant vigilance is what will take you to the next level.

Free Books!!!

     I’ve never done this before, other than to a few friends and that was giving it to them via emails. I never thought it possible before being published, that I would ever BE published. And, I never thought that I would meet an amazing bunch of people who have supported all my endeavours.

But, I have.

So, I bring to you a product code for a free book. It’s a YA Paranormal Romance that I wrote back in 2009. Here is the back cover synopsis for this book.

Eighteen year old Riley Abbott is about to meet the man from her past life dreams.

Riley has been having some weird dreams lately. But, that’s nothing new. Riley already has some pretty weird traits—telekinesis, astral travel and mind-reading abilities, to name a few. But, her dreams are so real to her, that her hands ache in the morning from pushing the heavy fruit cart down the path to the marketplace in her dreams. She even feels the kisses of the man that’s in her dreams.

Riley discovers that the dreams she is experiencing are past life dreams. She begins to believe this when she goes to University, and she meets Michael, a guy that when she looks into his eyes, she sees the man from her dreams, and she knows they have to be together. As their young love blooms, her dreams reveal to her that Michael could be in danger.

When another mind-reader, Brenda, won’t leave him alone, and threatens the lives of both Riley and Michael, Riley vows to do anything to keep him alive.

This book is available at and it’s also available at Just type in my name or the name of the book at either site and the book will come up.

However, for a limited time, it will be available for free download at Smashwords. You’ll need the product coupon code which is: DZ23D

     Bestselling Author, Norma Beishir is also giving away a couple of books at Smashwords. Her books are amazing…and well, she’s a bestselling author! They should be amazing!

In the wake of her newest novel’s release, “Army Of Angel’s”, she is giving away the first book in the series called, “Chasing The Wind.” If you would like to get this book, it is also available at Amazon but is free at Smashwords. The product coupon code is: PP77S


     Norma is also graciously giving away a copy of one of my favourite books of hers called, “Final Hours.” The product coupon code is: AK29L

If you would like to see what these books are about and to download them for free, please visit and use these promotional product coupon codes. They are well worth it!

Also, for all three books, if you do download them, could you please leave a review for each? The author’s would definitely appreciate that!

Reading Potato Books to Your Pink Flamingo

I hope this is okay to post here: It’s actually about reading more than writing, but I thought it qualified as being related, and I hope it’ll bring a few smiles.



I recently learned that September is a month dedicated to reading. I’m not sure why this is. You’d think reading months would be the dead of winter, when it’s too cold to do anything but curl up on the couch under a mound of blankets, pour hot chocolate over your head, and whimper about the weather. Or maybe that’s just me.

Or you could read, which seems a bit more constructive.

But they didn’t ask me, and in fact they didn’t even tell me who “they” is; so September has become both Adult Literacy Month and Read a New Book Month, which certainly do seem to go together. I don’t need to explain those, do I? If you don’t already know how to read, you’re probably not listening to me right now, anyway.

September is also, according to the mysterious Them, Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month. Also related. As it happens, I’m a writer (thus this writing), and so I approve of Their decision. Since my fictional works have now been officially bought by editors, I also approve of editors. Also, this column goes through an editor on the way to the bottom of your bird cage, and although she doesn’t usually mess with me even when I go off on tangents, she could; so it’s pretty much a given that I approve of her, too.

Anytime I get a little full of myself, I remember that this column was originally intended as a filler, for use if there wasn’t a lot of other stuff going on around Albion, Churubusco, and Huntertown. Honestly, I’m a little surprised I don’t get cut more often during high school sports season. For me, sports and getting cut go hand in hand.

Where was I? Oh, yeah: So September is a month in which adults should read a writer’s new edited book, which makes me proud.

We writers shouldn’t let this go to our heads: It’s also Pink Flamingo Month, National Potato Month, and Save the Tiger Month. So They say. Therefore, I’m going to start writing a new children’s book about a Tiger who gives up his Pink Flamingo diet and becomes a vegetarian devoted to potatoes. It’s working title: Potato Tiger Picks Pink Feathers From His Teeth.

That title … it’s a work in progress.

The problem is that I learned this information late, and due to the lead time of deadlines (totally my editor’s fault) you might not read this until the end of September. I recommend re-celebrating Read An Edited Writer’s Adult Literacy Month in October. Why not? It’ll be colder then anyway, and for those who’ve already read one book, this will be your chance to read two.

I recommend my book. Still available. In fact, I constantly carry around a backpack full of Storm Chaser copies, going door to door like a literary Jehovah’s Witness, only without the snappy tie.

Oh, okay – read whatever book you like, but please read one. I don’t really get why I even have to ask people to read. I never have understood why people wouldn’t want to spend all their time reading, with the possible exception of Hugh Hefner. And let’s face it, reading is way cheaper than sex, especially when you factor in certain prescriptions for someone Hugh’s age. Not to mention alimony.

The irony is that I haven’t had much time in recent years to read; I’ve been too busy writing. I have stacks of books around the house towering over my head, ready to bury me in the most ironic death scene ever, and I’m not talking about just my own product. But by the time I’ve worked my full time and part time jobs and then my second full time job of trying to get a fiction writing career going, I run out of time for my favorite relaxation activity. (I’m talking about reading – get your mind out of the gutter.) Worse, several of my writer friends have reviewed Storm Chaser (Eight five star reviews on! Yay!), and I haven’t had a chance to return the favor with their works.

So I’ve dedicated myself, starting in October (September’s kind of shot) to reading one new book every month, in addition to catching up on my magazine reading. (No, not one of Hef’s magazines … mind. Out of gutter. Now.) Frankly, I need the relaxation, and I’m starting with a book my fiancée got for her literature class: Strong Poison, a 1930 mystery starring some guy named Lord Peter Wimsey.

Well, it’s new to me. And more to the point, it happened to be on the coffee table when I learned this was Read a New Potato Novel to a Pink Editor Month.

It’s shameful, really. I used to go to the Noble County Public Library and load up on the limit of books I could check out – every week – but that’s just another example of how grown up life gets us down. One book I can manage, these days. I challenge everyone else to do the same, and although I’d prefer it be mine, make it something you enjoy, something fun. Stay away from Moby Dick, unless you’re a fishing fan.

Read to your pink flamingo, or read while feeding a potato to your tiger, or your editor, or whatever – but read. Let’s make this world literate again, in the way it was back when reading was fun instead of a chore.

Oh, and be kind to the writers; maybe with a review, or a cup of hot chocolate. And be kind to editors, too … if they buy my stuff.

Viral and Fad Marketing

So if you’ve had any involvement with marketing in the publishing industry, you’ve probably seen times when an unknown book from an unknown author suddenly explodes in popularity. We’ve all seen it. A great example is Amanda Hocking’s self-published writing, which suddenly sold almost a million copies in two months after almost nothing. Well, believe it or not, this kind of thing happens in pretty much every industry. Think about it. Snuggies. It’s a bathrobe that someone just turned around. Snap bracelets back in the late 80’s. Beanie Babies. Pet Rocks (it’s a friggin’ rock for crying out loud). All sorts of things all over the place go from being unknown to a craze virtually overnight. Some of them are really simplistic, even stupid.

So here’s the fun part, especially in the publishing industry. Some marketing technique turns up that causes a book to skyrocket in sales, especially when the book is by a little or unknown author, thousands of other authors go ballistic over it, getting hyped up for that big break. Whether it’s a twitter feed, a book trailer, or whatever else, what works for one works for everyone, right? Actually, that’s an astounding no.

The sudden surge of popularity of an item is fad marketing. We all know what fads are. The kicker is they are unpredictable. Items become highly successful and go viral with poor marketing plans all the time. Actually, the dumbest, most ridiculous things become fads. The fact is, a fad is a marketing researcher’s worst nightmare because it defies marketing theory and practice. What that also means is that if you attempt to duplicate the marketing program of a fad market, you probably won’t see the success you were looking for.

The point is, do your research. Learn what marketing techniques actually work and understand that there is no magic bullet for success. Marketing plans must be multi-faceted and well thought out. Wishing for your work to go viral is great, but in reality, you will need to create a situation for that viral affect. This also means that some approaches you use will not yield immediate results, or will not yield direct results. When you combine these with other techniques over time, however, that’s when you begin to see results. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself fall into marketing traps.

sequel to “Storm Chaser” in planning stage

While Beth Hamlin seems to be the most popular secondary character from Storm Chaser, I have a
plot bunny that just won’t leave me alone, involving another secondary
character: Fran, the State Police Detective who befriends Allie and will appear
in two of the stories in Storm
Chaser Shorts
. After some thought, I’ve decided the sequel (working
title: Storm Damage)
will feature Fran, although Beth will also be there as a supporting character.
If my idea works out and the sequel is popular, the second book will lead into
a third book that Beth would headline.

The short story I’ve been working on introduces a new character, who will
become an important part of Storm
: Allie Craine’s brother, who’s mentioned only briefly in the
original story. Here’s what Allie has to say about him, when she interrupts an
argument between two other people:

bull. First of all, my brother’s an ingrate who wrote that book because he
can’t hold down a job, or keep his mouth shut. Second, if you two cared, you
wouldn’t be leaning over my bed spitting on me.”

Well, we’ll just have to see if he’s an ingrate, won’t we? The story will be
coming soon to my Facebook fan page.

As for Fran, recently I was reviewing Storm
Chaser Shorts,
when I realized that in one of the stories her name
is Fran Vargas, and in another it’s Fran Mendoza. Oops … I guess her name now
is Fran Vargas-Mendoza. Just goes to show, you can’t polish too much, or have
two many other eyes to look over your work. Guess I’ll go over that short story
a bit more.

Yes, the Storm Chaser Shorts manuscript has already been turned in to my publisher. *sigh*


Meanwhile, Storm Chaser remains available at,,, and