Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ideas to Help You Avoid Writer’s Block

By Max Elliot Anderson


Since I began writing action-adventures & mysteries for readers 8 – 13, a little over twelve years ago, I’ve never experienced writer’s block. The same has been true for scores of columns, anthology submissions, short stories and more. I think there are good reasons for this and they’ve helped me to complete nearly 40 book length manuscripts so far.

I don’t outline. When our children were small, I used to tell them exciting, original stories almost every night. Those stories simply developed as I went along. So I adopted a creative method, at the beginning of each new story I am about to write, of telling myself the story, into a recorder as if I were back with my children and telling it to them. Those notes are typed and put away in a file until the first draft of the manuscript is finished.

This exercise, at least, gives me the beginning, middle, and end of the story as well as the setting and major plot lines. It also allows the story idea to run through my mind two times. From there, as I write, it’s as if I’m watching a major motion picture develop right in front of me, in my head. That’s because characters show up, and situations arise, that are as much of a surprise to me as they will be to the reader.

While writing scenes with lots of dialog, I actually enter the scene, in my mind, and begin interacting with the characters. This works for me because of the various ways I’ve set the scene ahead of time.

The room I took over for writing used to be our son’s bedroom. So far I have left the room pretty much the way he had it with sports posters, pennants, and other “boy’s room” reminders on the walls. Recently my family has been pressing me to do a makeover of the room. I probably will, but it’s been a great place to sort of hold onto the essence of what a boy is all about as I write.

In my writing room, I also like to keep props around to help put me in the mood of the story. That once included a chipmunk I caught out in the front yard. I put him in one of my children’s old hamster cages. The bottom was filled with redwood chips and together they created a sort of deep woods feeling in my mind. At our house, catching chipmunks isn’t very difficult. They run into the drain spouts when you walk outside. Since the hamster cage is made of clear plastic, and has a small trap door on the top, all I have to do is place the open door over the end of the spout and wait. The chipmunk sees light at the end of the tunnel, runs toward it, and scampers right into the cage. Bam!

I like to write winter stories in winter and summer stories when it’s hot out. In this way, I can simply step outside and experience the same conditions my characters are experiencing as they may be lost or stranded in the wilderness. Of course, I’ve been known to turn the heat off in winter and open my windows, or crank the heat up for a warm climate story, while the conditions outside are freezing. I’ve also turned the heat up even when it’s sweltering outside. I try to do these things only when I’m home by myself.

Because of my extensive experiences in film and video production around the world, there are many images, people, settings, and circumstances from which to draw for my writing. I also find it helpful to recall lots of characters, stories, settings, and activities from my childhood. We grew up in rural Michigan. Some years it snowed so hard, we could climb up on the roof of our house and jump into towering drifts below. Along with my friends, we got into all sorts of fun and adventure on our bikes, climbing trees, digging forts in the ground and covering them with branches and dirt, swimming, and playing in the vast woods, or streams in the area.

Next, I do all the necessary research. Normally, stories present themselves and they often contain elements or subject matter that I know nothing about. Research includes the Internet, books and articles from the library, and email or phone interviews with primary sources or experts. These experts have sent me videos, coffee table books, articles, reference books, and other resources.

Still, my style is to write as the story appears in front of me. Kids tell me that reading one of my books is like being in an exciting or scary movie, and it’s the same for me as I’m writing. It’s a good scary and not dark. Even though I may know the beginning, middle, and end, there are countless other details and characters that seem to show up at just the right time in the story.

I always burn a candle which helps me stay focused while I’m writing. I don’t burn one at any other time in the process. It’s hard to explain, but this one thing seems to keep me in the mood to write and to stay on track.

In the background, I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If I’m working on a scary scene, that music can be pretty spooky, and I keep the lights very low in the room. Conversely, comedy scenes need funny music. There have been many times over the years when all I had to do, in order to visualize what should happen next, is lean back in the chair, close my eyes, listen to the music playing in the background, and the perfect piece I need flashes in my mind. And most of my writing is at night. That, too, probably reminds me of those early storytelling days with my kids.

I usually write up to three chapters in one sitting, and never start one I won’t finish in that session. At the end of the session, I write on a post-it-note, “Next.” Then I jot down a few notes about what would happen next if I were to continue writing.

You may have more distractions around your house than I do, and that could be problematic. Our kids are grown and the house is pretty quiet when I’m writing. I close the door anyway. That isolation, along with the music and visual props have helped me avoid writer’s block.

Hopefully some of these techniques will help you, too.

BIO: Max Elliot Anderson
Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and television commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same visual excitement, and heart-pounding action, to his many adventures & mysteries for middle grade readers 8 and up.
Books for Boys Blog: http://booksandboys.blogspot.com









Monday, July 28, 2014

My Top Secret Codeword Marketing Plan


Copyright 2011 John Klawitter
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

Those of you who are regular consumers of the offerings of this Author’s Only website know that we, your loyal and struggling columnists and marketing gurus, are devoted to unearthing gems of marketing wisdom that we fling in your wandering creative paths like dust or dandelion seeds, to hopefully enable those who follow our carefully researched suggestions to find fame and fortune…or at least to garner a few thousand more readers than you have today.
But what if I told you that, while I faithfully ferret out for you such marketing ploys as galloping Google Adwords, bolder and better book blogging, vigorous and virtuous virtual touring, tasty and teasing book trailers and the like—what if I revealed that I myself have a secret, hidden agenda for my own growing pile of published novels that I have never revealed to you before?
It’s true. I do have such a carefully constructed plan. It is complex, artfully designed and absolutely unique. It is also difficult—though not impossible—to imitate. And now, on June 9, 2011, I am going to share it with you:
First off, you have to know that, when any reader compliments me on something I’ve written, I am the world’s biggest fool. My chest swells enormously and buttons burst off my shirt (and pants. Oh, wait, that’s something else.). But I’ve learned to control these impulses with hard slaps and cold baths. The Nordics do the opposite; they take hot showers and then run around naked in blizzards, but I believe it has the same effect. However, the idea here is—yes, there actually is a point to this—happy readers are not my end goal. I want happy viewers. And, being a lowly but somewhat connected Hollywood Hyphenate, I at least know the sad fundaments of show biz and the terrible odds stacked against writers who wish to crash the fanatically guarded gates of Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney. Why, today it’s as bad as getting your books published was before the great e-book revolution threw off the shackles of the East-Of-The-Hudson Literary Mob and set us free.
What to do? What to do? In this, the 2nd decade of the third millennium, film producers, ego-driven directors and studio execs are as absolutely in total control of your success or failure as the big time publishers were a decade or two ago. And worse—Hollywood people are not exceptional, decent or even average readers! They hire kids just out of college to scan the New York best seller lists, looking for hot prospects. The big time moguls don’t even read scripts that get past the first pawns of rejection (imagine, too busy to speed read 118 pages, mostly double-spaced). They have more young lackeys scan them, blat out mass rejections and toss the stacks and piles of hopeful offerings in the blue ecology-minded recycle bins. And that’s just as well; almost all movie biz people are not natural storytellers anyway, they are business executives and they wouldn’t know if a story worked or not.
Sadly, producing movies, like publishing best sellers, is a business. Studios are film factories with schedules, budgets, new models, slots to fill, and distributors to keep happy. They don’t really want fresh and new, those words mean untested and dangerous. Hence, movie goers get Spiderman VIII, Batman XVI and other comic book retreads. Have you noticed today’s show biz is now down to the lowest tier of comic book and graphic novel super-heroes? X-Men? Wolverine? Lord, give me Bugs Bunny and a breath of fresh air!
But I’m just blathering on about the situation of folks like us who dream of seeing our names on the Big Silver Screen.. My hither-to top secret marketing formula is as follows: 1) Write the best genre novel you can, thinking screenplay as you write it. Of course it will be good enough that somebody will publish it. 2) Learn how to adapt your novel into screenplay format 3) Then, actually adapt your novel into a screenplay.
Holy Moley, you exclaim in outraged exasperation. All that crap just to do EXACTLY WHAT??!!
Right. Using my foolproof method (well, fool-something method) you have done three times the work any other author has done and you’re exactly nowhere with the film crowd. Well, not exactly…let’s say you are at the starting line. You don’t have a Hollywood agent, you don’t have an option, and you don’t have a deal. But you do have one major advantage over the rest of the estimated 350,000 screenplays scribblers submit every year…you have that novel. They probably won’t read it. I already told you, they don’t read anything longer than a one sentence pitch line, and if that grabs them, maybe a two paragraph summary. Doesn’t matter; you are a novelist, somebody from the lofty lands of Gone With The Wind, Forever Amber and Lolita.
Approaching Hollywood is like playing a game of cards. No name? Trumped before you start. No agent? .Nobody takes your call. No screenplay? Idea rejected with a legal letter. Screenplay but no agent? Ignored. Agent but no track record? Rejected. Genre screenplay? Easy to replicate with our own writers. But not you—you’re a novelist.
If you send your pitch line with your summary with your screenplay—and your published novel, you’ll get a response. I’ve optioned a half dozen screenplays since launching this mad plan five years ago, including The Heart of Desire, Hollywood Havoc and my latest, The Freight Train of Love.
The odds being what they are, if you play the cards my way, one in a hundred Hollywood players you contact will express interest, one in ten of those will actually pay you for an option, and one in ten of those may lead to an actual produced and distributed motion picture.

Yes, you can see it is clearly a mad, crazy, foolish, ridiculous plan for promoting my own work to The Biz. But that’s what I do. And now that you know my secret, you are free to follow in my reckless footsteps. You’re already a published or nearly-published author, so you’re already one-in-a-million. Care to go for one-in-a-billion?

John Klawitter is a Hollywood writer, producer and director who writes fiction and non-fiction books. He often adapts his novels to screenplays that he then peddles around town. (So far, a few fat options, but no brass ring.) His novels are based on his years surviving as a creative person in the ad biz and in show biz. It is an interesting life.
He has worked as the Creative Director of Disney Studios in Burbank, and as an independent creative resource for Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount and the Disney Channel, as well as for many indy production companies including Hanna Barbera, Franke Films, Pink Planet Productions, Eyeline Films and Zoiyu Productions. His films and television specials have appeared on NBC, the BBC, and the Disney Channel, and he has written many memorable song lyrics, advertising jingles and television show openings, including “Disney’s Wonderful World”, “Now & Then”, and “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show”.








Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beware the Axis of Evil in Self-Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Robert W. Walker
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

A friend who thought this a good article in the New York Times sent it to me, and on reading it, I nearly had a cow. Frankly, I could not believe that the prestigious New York Times Business Section was so far out in left field, behind the times, and out of touch regarding the revolution in ebook and independent authorship that has made the term “self-publishing” with vanity presses obsolete!
The article makes no sense: it makes no mention of the amazing, enormous strides for authors and readers, and how the Amazon.com Kindle publishing revolution has closed so many gaps between writer and reader, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with this article. They instead gave over an entire story to the old methods of doing things and ignore current and really cool methods of doing things with regard to self-publication—that authors are taking their cues from musicians with the technology available to us today. Instead, the whole of this article depicts only the methods that for decades only harmed authors and robbed authors of monies and pride.
Here is the article and below is my red-veined reaction to it:  Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry.
So I say on reading this article “Oh My God!”—OMG! Please, I implore you, do not use the “self-publishing” publishers listed in the article in the New York Times Business Section as all of them are expensive and in the long run a heartache. You will waste a huge vast sum with them and get nothing in return. I have known many who went with such services as these with terribly sad results. You are paying through the nose with these companies, and even if you pay for their top “package” they do not edit or promote your work as promised. It is no longer Self-Publishing you want to go into but Createspace or other free publishers for paperbacks, and Kindle, Smashwords, PubIt, and others for ebooks. None of these charge you a cent to put your ebook up for sale. So there is that.
You do not want to associate yourself with the term “self-publishing” but rather “indie or independent author” as the old field of self-publishing is still hanging on as vanity presses charge you for services sometimes never rendered. These companies take far more from you than they give. They have been the target of author associations and Predators and Editors for years. Furthermore, I cannot believe how far behind the New York Times is on this subject in this article recently published….geez.
Think of it, Smashwords and Amazon take a percentage of sales and give you a huge slice, 35-70 percent! Vanity publishing venues take a percent of sales even after they have you pay for the privilege of working with them which really means giving them your money. I cannot stress this enough, that anyone wishing to take a percentage of the life of the book is either your partner in promotions and sales or not at all, so run like hell.
Use the free services of Smashwords, Amazon, and others, and do it yourself.  The HTML conversion is very up to date now, but even then if you feel helpless with the ABC’s of putting up your own, there are people who do it for a one-time fee and do not set you up for life, paying them a percentage of the book’s earnings. As to cover art, most of these people who are doing conversions of doc files to HTML to place you on Kindle or Createspace or both are also doing cover art. My son does cover art, charges a one-time fee and does not rip you off.
The article I am referring to in the NYT is interesting only in that it is sorely, sorely out of date information about the old ways of doing things at a time when you had two choices—publish with an established large market or small press publisher after a thousand rejections if at all, or turn to vanity press publication. This is a huge disappointment to see that these self-publishing companies are still in business at all! They prey on the vanity of anyone coming within reach, like recluse spiders waiting to grab up the unsuspecting. I am glad someone shared this so-called up-to-date article in the Times with me so that I could attack it!
And anudder thing….from the streetwise….
Look when anyone hears you are getting a whopping 70% on each title you sell, they are going to want in….but do not let them. Cropping up all over the place are new “publishers” who will entice you to join forces with promises of doing for you all that you can do for yourself — and you can keep your 70%. How they will make their slice is by selling your book in venues other than Amazon (the largest bookstore on the planet right now), or somehow taking a slice from Amazon’s 35% — not sure how they plan to work that but perhaps via a publisher’s deal with Amazon?  At any rate, be cautious out there. The wolves are at the door.
Let me lighten this up a bit.  I just posted images of a paperback series I was selling in the ’80s onto Facebook. These books were selling for 3.95 USD and a buck more in Canada. These paperbacks returned for me a mere 8% per unit sold….and even then I had to wait an eternity until “All Returns” were back in-house (or at least the stripped covers were sent back to Pinnacle/Zebra) before I saw any funds.
A couple of things to take away here is the more you make, the more others want to take. But there is also the strange thing about prices being that low in the ’80s and now Indie books, Kindle, etc. has brought book prices even lower than $3.95 in many, many instances. This is especially true among the now hosts of indie authors doing “true” self-publishing, although I am loathe to use that term.  I like the term indie author or ebook author.
The other thing to take away is that with ebooks the number of returns by comparison is a clipped fingernail to what I had to put up with back then when it was not unusual to have books returned (stripped and discarded really) by the 1000s. I get maybe six, seven, eight returned books via Kindle a month, and no stripped covers ever! I must say I was a bit surprised to see as many 99¢ sale books returned as there were—maybe ten for the entire month. I suppose it is easier to make the decision to return a cheap-o book than a more expensive one at 2.99 or 3.99. Ha! But I will not complain. What a difference the return and remaindered book situation makes with indie books…. as it is basically non-existent.
So beware and take care and be careful out there on the web-corner.
Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University, ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005. Rob since then has penned his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008), and most recently placed Ransom on board the Titanic in a hybrid historical/science fiction epic entitled Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The original Ransom trilogy straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!”  Rob has since published DEAD ON (also an audiobook), a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—a noir set in modern day Atlanta,  followed more recently by Bismarck 2013, an historical horror title, The Edge of Instinct, the 12th Instinct Series, and a short story collection entitled Thriller Party of Eight (also an audiobook).
Rob’s historical novel CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel exposes the evil in mankind via the politics of witchcraft in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor reviewed as:  A title that only Robert Walker could make work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. The author followed this ANNIE’S WAR, an historical romance set in 1859, a tale from the point of view of the daughter of the infamous John Brown of Harpers Ferry notoriety.
Robert currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with his wife, children, pets, all somehow normal. For more on Rob’s published works, see  www.RobertWalkerbooks.com, www.HarperCollins.com, www.amazon.com/kindle books. He maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Killer Instinct, the first book in Robert W.  Walker's Instinct series.
DR. JESSICA CORAN - A brilliant and determined FBI medical examiner, she was an expert student of the criminal mind who thought she could face anything. 
That was before Wisconsin. Before she saw one of his victims... 
THE VAMPIRE KILLER -The FBI agent had a special code name for his unusual method of torture: Tort 9, the draining of the victims blood. The newspapers called him the Vampire-Killer. But his own twisted love letters were signed "Teach"... and were addressed to the one woman he wanted most of all: His hunter, his prey, Dr. Jessica Coran.






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Promotion: What Worked, What Didn't


Copyright © 2013 Michael W. Davis
Originally Published by 1st Turning Point

If you’re a newbie to the fiction-writing business, the day you get The Call, you are ecstatic.  Your heart starts to flutter like the first time you made, well, you know what I mean.  A month later, when you receive your marketing query package from the publisher, you become confused.  After all, you did your part, right?  You created a fantastic story.  Someone else is supposed to promote your book, right?  Sorry, wrong answer.  You are an integral part of the promotion process.
Although the degree of involvement will vary depending on the size of your publisher’s purse strings, we all have to do it.  Need proof?  I live on a lake where numerous authors reside, including one well-known “big eight” writer, yet I know he promotes locally with appearances and booksignings within our small community, just like I do.  Question is, if you’re like me, both your time and personal promotion budget are small.  How do you choose which marketing avenues provide the most return on investment (both in revenue and spent hours) for your particular situation?  I ended up in that very dilemma myself about four years ago.
Being an applied mathematician in a previous life, and wanting to concentrate as much time as possible on writing, I decided it was necessary to do some research on exactly where I should sink my limited resources.  In the dozens of sources I consulted, the opinions were mixed, leaving me perplexed.  Not being one to give up easily, I turned to my old pastime of conducting statistical analysis using site hit data and supporting revenue statements.  This three-part series offers what I’ve learned over the last four years from self-promotion of my novels.  Conclusions are data driven from recording deep hit visits to my website (discussed in the second part of this article) during periods when various promotional activities were being conducted.  I discuss promotion avenues I’ve attempted, some of which worked, and some of which did not.  In the third part of the series, I will actually rank 21 promotion activities I have used in terms of their return on investment to me.
Part 2—Some Background and General Observations
Let’s begin with a little background.  I’ve been writing fiction for six years and was contracted by an independent publisher in May 2007.  Once my first book was released, I was amazed at the level of effort involved in promoting one’s own books.  I’m sure authors associated with the big eight (Random House, Penguin, etc.) have a different experience, but for the 99.98% of us associated with independent (non-vanity) publishers, self-promotion is an essential element of our daily routine.  The degree to which my time became absorbed in promotion activities was a major surprise.  Yet, I’ve learned from discussing this topic with other authors, I wasn’t the only one shell-shocked by what it takes to push your books.
In the first few months, I became aware of a problem.  Every few weeks a new promotional opportunity would pop up.  Thing was, with so few hours in the day, I was forced to allocate time between my muse (the very reason I started writing) and promotion.  I decided to collect statistics that would reflect the effectiveness of each marketing activity.  Those that clearly had a significant impact, I would continue; those that did not, I would discard.  I share this experience in the hope newbies just entering the profession will have a leg up over the time I spent struggling through the swamp.  My observations are offered as is—others may disagree and I’m happy to discuss what they have observed.  I am open to questions via the contact box on my website.
The Basis of My Observations—I’ve kept website statistics since December 2007 and my observations are derived from an analysis of those results.  I started only one new promotion activity at a time—in that way, any effect I witnessed was not convoluted across multiple promotion avenues.
Terminology—The best statistic to use in order to evaluate if a promo avenue works would be increases in sells during the recording period.  Unfortunately, there is a six-month lag between when I enact a promotion  activity and when I get my royalty statement.  Thus, I fell back on two metrics that should correlate to some degree with event sells, namely: Deep hits and buy page visits.  I’ll explain those in a minute.  I do not record shallow hits to my site based on the logic that such visits were most likely a false hit; my site was not what they were looking for in their search.
  • Deep hits—If a visitor to my site stays longer then two minutes, or visits my excerpt, review, or trailer pages, I assume they were interested enough to at least read further.
  • Shallow hits—If a visitor simply enters my website via the home page and exits, I assume it was a mistaken search/hit and I discard it.  Rule of thumb:  I get 12 to 18 times the number of shallow versus deep hits.
  • Buy page ratio—I compute the percentage of deep hits in a week that exit my site via a visit to the buy page.
  • Base rate—The average rate (computed across three weeks) of deep hits when no special promotion activities are going on.
General Observations
  1. Each promotion activity has a shelf life of its own ranging from one to six weeks.
  2. Repeatedly doing the same, exact promo activity quickly wears out your audience.
  3. A promotion campaign must be continuous.  Otherwise your hits quickly decline to the base rate.
  4. Many authors believe promotion activities have a long-term benefit of establishing name awareness.  It’s not that I disagree, rather that the data collected is not aligned to evaluate such effects.
Stay tuned for part three of the series, where I discuss actual activities that worked for me, along with those that did not.

Part 3—Comparison of Promotion Avenues
In this final part of my article on self-promotion of novels, we will discuss the meat, namely:  what worked for me and to what degree.  Understand that the results presented here are based on my observations and collected data.  Other authors may have different results or conclusions.
Below are 21 activities I have conducted in an attempt to promote my stories.  In addition to these activities, there were certain “background” activities being conducted routinely by myself and my publisher.  I collected ambient levels for four months to evaluate the nature and effectiveness of such promotion and adjusted my analysis of other avenues accordingly.
The numbers in front of the activities below (e.g., “100″) indicate their relative benefit in promoting my books when compared to time spent.  The scoring does not deal with intangible return (e.g., the activity is just fun to do, etc.)  Note that a “100″ score represents five times the benefit of a score of 20.  All scores above 50, I considered effective in terms of the time spent and I repeat those activities as active components of my marketing plan.  Scores below 20, to me, were not worth the effort in terms of the time involved and were “generally” dropped from my bag of marketing avenues.  Scores between 20 and 50 were done if I had time.
100  Special Recognitions—The events that resulted in the largest return on investment were awards (or nominations for awards).  Here are three examples:
  • When I won the “Author of the Year” award, I expended maybe an hour to announce it on a few social network sites.  For that investment my deep hits increased 350% and buy page visits increased 250%.
  • My novel Forgotten Children was nominated as “best romantic suspense” by two sites.  That event increased deep hits 220% and buy page hits 130%.
  • When my short SF story The Treasure hit the Fictionwise book outlet’s bestseller page, the hit rate jumped 260% (the buy page visits only increased 50%).
I’ve discussed this with two other authors and their experiences have been the same.  Regrettably, most of these events happen on their own.  I do on occasion submit my work to non-profit groups for considerations, but there are few of those (I do not submit to the profit-oriented contests).
90  Reviews—Whenever I have a new release, I submit the novel for review to various websites, plus my publisher has their own list of review sites to which they submit.  The level of effort to submit is minimal, yet, when you receive a top review (like a five-star review, or “Reviewer’s Best Pick”), the deep hit rate and buy page visits roughly double, but it’s short lived (about two to four weeks).  After that, your review is replaced by other new reviews on the sites’ “Top review” page.
70  Site Participative Contests—Websites conduct contests where they enlist visitors to participate in the author’s world by asking readers to go to the author’s site and bring back some interesting factoid.  Deep hits increase about 160 to 210% depending on the site.  This is another avenue you cannot really orchestrate yourself, however, any time I’m notified of one of these types of contests, I participate gladly.
50  Shared linking—For about a dozen published author friends, I reciprocate writer news (new releases, reviews, awards, etc.) and links.  The number of deep hits from links on their websites is relatively low (three to five a week), but so is the cost in time (mere minutes every month or so), and unlike other promotion activities that die off in a few days or weeks, once added to your website, the effect goes on indefinitely.
40  My Participative Contests—The only contests I now run myself are those where I encourage the visitors to participate and stay for a while and at least read about my stories (trailers, excerpts, etc.)  The participation comes in the form of questions they need answered or things for which they must search.  Deep hits increase 60% to 90% and buy page visits go up about 30%.  Problem is these avenues take a tremendous amount of time to send out to 900 past players and to manage the answers from the 170-220 responding participants.  To me, the true return that justifies this activity is the input I get from potential readers.  I solicit views from visitors on titles or tag lines for future releases and I find this feedback extremely useful.
35  Interviews—On average, I received 12 to 20 deep hits the first week an interview was released, tapering to three or four by the third week but disappearing altogether after about six weeks.  The problem is the amount of time required to complete a detailed interview is significant.  Could be the genre in which I write (suspense with a romantic core) while most of the websites conducting the interviews are pure romance.
35  Special chats—Every few months my publisher will schedule an author chat and their roster of writers interact with each other and readers on a variety of topics.  Whenever the chat sponsor is new, or has not hosted a chat for a long period, my deep hit rate increases 40% to 50%, and my buy page visits go up by about 30%.  Although the benefit is significant, the commitment of time is major (chat durations reach from two to 12 hours in length.) Nonetheless, I always do the chats orchestrated by my publisher or author friends.  They spend a lot of time setting them up, plus I believe in supporting other authors.
30  Video Trailers—I researched opinions on the web and views were split.  I decided to conduct an experiment and developed videos for two of my novels (they are available on my website).  I posted the trailers on two dozen posting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Seven up, Photobucket, etc.) Although the videos were viewed several hundred times, and even given five stars by the audience, by the second week views on the posted site dropped to about 12 per week and by week four they trickled in at two or three a week.  The real problem is that there was no change in deep hit rate or visits to the buy page, at all.  This was a surprise to me.  Afterwards, however, the results made sense.  The posting sites reflect a broad based audience versus just book readers, thus they viewed the video as a random interest, but really weren’t in a buying posture.  Since that experiment I have observed a logical but unanticipated benefit—of those that did deep visit my site and actually view one of my book videos, the visits to a buy source increased 110%.  Videos do take a major effort to create (eight days for both trailers), but they are fun and do increase the buy page visit rate, so if I have time, I will do them again.
30  Bookmarkers—I use two styles of bookmarkers:  a 2″x6″ glossy marker aimed at a new release; and a business-card size that reflects cover art and bulleted five star reviews for two books (one on each side).  The large ones cost $.10 each while the small cost $.02 each.  I use the larger ones at talks/signings and for trivia contests during chats, and the smaller ones are conveniently in my wallet when someone asks for my website.  I do not leave them in random non-audience specific locations (like restaurants, coffee shops, etc.)  I actually tested leaving markers in such places on trips with the result that I received no hits from those locations afterwards (my stat package tracks server location).  I do use them, but the expensive markers are rationed to special events because of their cost.
25  Blogs—From all I’d heard and read, I expected posting articles on blogs to have a major impact, at least in turns of deep hits.  Yet each time I posted on blogs, I saw no measureable increase.  I found that peculiar and decided to stop all other promo activities and posted 13 articles on different blogs over a month’s time.  Again, I saw no significant increase in site visits.  There were a few redirected hits, but nothing that justified the effort in writing all the articles.  That could be because of the articles I post, or the blogs on which I posted, or my genre itself, or the fact that I’m a big guy writing in an area generally thought to be women-oriented, but that was the result for me.  I do enjoy the interaction and emails from readers so I participate in selected blogs with author friends.
25  Libraries—I support local libraries when I can by contributing free books and free goodies (pens, bookmarkers, etc.)  I’ve noticed very little return from these, but that’s not the reason I do it.  I just like the idea of people having the opportunity to broaden their horizons in areas to which they might not otherwise be exposed.
10  Book Signings—My first signing was at a B&N.  I was shocked to see over 90 people attend.  Yet I only sold about a dozen books, while the cost to get to the store (two-hour drive) outweighed the commission from my sells.  It could have been me, maybe my deodorant wasn’t working, or a variety of other factors.  I’ve talked to other authors who had similar experiences (their book sells ranged from zero to less than ten at an event), yet they still do them in the belief it provides exposure.  In that light, I do book signings when offered the opportunity, but I don’t seek them out like when I first started.
10  Routine Chats—Chats with authors and readers that are done on a frequent basis (e.g., each month) tend to lose effectiveness over time because you’re interacting with the same readers and lurkers that have seen your excerpts, reviews, blurbs, etc.  I do support my publisher in every promotion event they organize, but I no longer seek out chats that I have done several times at author social network sites.
10  Loops—Yahoo has a ton of writer/reader loops where visitors discuss issues about stories/authors they like.  Half the threads posted are by authors/publishers promoting their books (excerpts, releases, contests, etc.)  I tried for several months but noticed no significant increase in deep hits or buy page visits.  Although the idea appears fruitful and the visitors seem to enjoy the interactions offered by the loop chat; I think they quickly get saturated by promotion material posted by authors/publishers and skip those threads.
10  Articles—On occasion I will write an article (like this one) to share the writing experience with readers or to offer lessons learned to other writers.  About one third of the time, they are self-generated (I get an idea and write about it).  The remainder occurs when I’m asked if I would be interested in writing an article.  I’ve observed roughly a 15% to 20% increase in deep hits and no significant increase in buy page visits.  However, I do still write them when I feel the urge to share (I’m just weird that way) or a friend or publisher requests me to write an article.
10  General Giveaway Contests—General “submit your name” random drawings have not panned out for me.  I did get a ton of hits, sadly, virtually all were shallow hits.  I talked to several other authors and their experiences on general contests were the same.
5  Social Networks—I’d heard great things about social networks (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.) in terms of promoting your work, so I spent two entire months joining about a dozen sites and monitoring resulting hits.  My personal results were almost nonexistent.  It’s possible that some of the general search engine hits I received are correlated to seeing my work on the social network pages, but subjectively my sense is that social networks are on the low end as a promotion activity.  Of course, that could be my genre, or the fact that I do not actively spend hours per week sending out bulletins and news updates.  I did this for a while, and saw no increase in deep hits.  I’ve discussed this avenue with two other authors that shared my experience, but a couple of writer buds swear by this mechanism as key to promoting their books.
5  Rings—There are several rings that will freely link your site to those within each group you select if you insert HTML banner code at the bottom of your home page.  As a member of each ring, your site will be randomly displayed in the banner so that potential visitors can click and be transferred to your home page.  I have tried two rings and received about a dozen referred hits each week, but they were virtually all shallow hits.  Plus, for some reason, the ring periodically changes its code, which requires an update.  I decided this was not an effective promotion avenue, at least for me.
5  Directories—There are a bunch of websites that will freely list your website in their directory, and I have tried dozens.  Problem is, all referred hits were shallow.
1  Advertising—During my first 12 months, I spent a chunk of change advertising my novels across about a dozen sites.  The results were abominable.  I tried new sites, I tried different site pages, I tried different kinds of ads, but to my surprise the result was always the same.  I would get a handful of hits–so few I was spending about a buck to earn eight cents worth of royalties.  I’ve discussed this with four other authors and their experiences have been the same.  However, on occasion, I do advertise in sites with a low ad page cost that actually support general authors by reviewing their books.  The larger sites charge a disproportional amount for the few returned hits, and seem to only review their favorite authors.  I spent a couple hundred a year on this activity based primarily on principle.  If sites will at least review general authors, in my view they deserve to be supported (no, I do not receive five stars from all of these sites, but I still believe in them).
? Conferences—Three author friends attend writer conferences and have found them a useful means of promotion.  I have never attempted such conferences because I write in a mixed genre (suspense with a romantic core), which appears void of such opportunities, but if you write SF or pure romance this avenue may be something you want to check out to see if it works for you.
Wrap-up—I hope newbie authors find this information helpful in designing their own marketing plans.  If nothing more, it may introduce several avenues you haven’t considered yet.  Like I said at the beginning, your experience might be different for a variety of reasons.  If you have questions or comments, email me through the contact page of my website.
In 2005, Michael Davis retired from supporting the military and intelligence sector and began his writing career. He currently resides in SW VA and has authored 18 novels and short stories. In 2008, he was selected Author of the Year and in 2012 received the Award of Excellence. in 2009, his book BLIND CONSENT won the Rose Award for best romantic suspense. Five star rated titles include: TAINTED HERO, FORGOTTEN CHILDREN, SHADOW OF GUILT, WHISPERS OF INNOCENCE and FINAL SOLUTION. In 2010, he fought Satan’s spawn (cancer) for 10 months and came out a wiser man on the other side of darkness. Five star reviews, awards, excerpts, and videos for all his work can be seen at Davisstories.com.

Torn between past mistakes and her affinity for impossible relationships, Codi Emery is cast into a web of deception and intrigue. Her new assignment in a compartmented facility, shrouded in extreme defensive measures and secrecy, pits the young intelligence analyst against her emotions and nativity on what’s best for her career, and herself. Codi discovers an Arcanum program of clandestine operatives sanctioned not by the government but the ire of a select group of patriots with a bold plan to rip the fragile bonds of a troubled nation apart. She struggles against competing factions, her loyalty and her core beliefs. When she confronts her findings, pleas for a sane explanation, something beyond her nightmares, the quest to understand the line between honor and treason puts her at risk from a rouge element. Only the strength and determination of a young maverick Marine can save Codi from herself.






Monday, July 21, 2014

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart


Copyright 2009 John Klawitter
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

(Analyzing Your Book Marketing Approach After the Fact)
My dad used to say Too soon old, too late smart. It was his gentle commentary on the situations people rush into without thinking, and that feeling of mild remorse we have afterward. As Homer Simpson himself would have said, smacking his own forehead, “Doh!”
In this vein, I was smacking my own head the other day over a small investment I’d made in an ad for my new book, The Rogue Pirate’s Bible Heretical. I’m a member of IWOFA, Infinite Worlds of Fantasy Authors, and they offer to run 1/16 of a full page spread for $130 in Realms of Fantasy magazine. Hell, Infinite Worlds of Fantasy. So, I sent in my money without thinking twice about it. After all, my Pirate’s Bible is pure science fiction fantasy, the perfect entry, the perfect place for such an ad. But is it, really? Let’s take a closer, more hard-eyed look.
The first clue that should have given me pause from my small but reckless expenditure: The other authors were all women. Now don’t get me wrong, they are a terrific list of top-flight writers-Phoebe Matthews, Caroline Aubrey, Lynn Crain, Angie Fox, Barbara Monajem and Lee Barwood, to name a few. However, I felt belatedly alerted, and I took a closer look at the ad proof (it’s running in June, hits the stands in April) to see if I could determine the genre of the competition, reasoning this would give me some idea what sort of readers would be attracted to my ad. My cover featured a picture of a grim-looking pirate’s space ship. The fifteen book covers alongside my own were quite different. I did my research (too late smart) and found they represented the following genres and sub-genres: Erotic Romance, Historical Fantasy Romance, Erotic Para-romance, Vampire something-or-other, Historic Romance/Magic, Semi-humorous Magic/Romance, Erotic Demonic Romance, Erotic Ghost Romance, Historical Romance, Erotic Para-romance, Comic Horror Romance, Vampire Romance, Horror Fairy Tail Adult Romance, and two straight Para-romances.
Now, if I were the ad agency responsible for this horrible investment, I would argue that my straight sci-fi Pirate’s Bible would do very well because it stood out; it counterpointed the others and provided a ‘real’ science fiction story in an ad dripping with sexy romances. But when you’re your own client, there are no such weak excuses. Truth is, Realms of Fantasy attracts more readers looking for fanciful romance than anything else, and real hardcore science fiction fanatics probably avoid it like herpes.




Some authors don’t believe in magazine ads, and I guess that’s one way to avoid this problem. They think blogs and websites and book fairs and personal readings are the answer. I personally think ads should be a part of the mix, if you can afford them. But I also think you might be a little smarter than I was in selecting your venue. For some of you who write romance in one form or the other, you might look into the IWOFA Realms of Fantasy ad. It could make sense for you. But a smarter investment for my Pirate’s Bible would have been to dig around to find out where the hardcore sci-fi buffs hang out.
John Klawitter is a Hollywood writer, producer and director who writes fiction and non-fiction books. He often adapts his novels to screenplays that he then peddles around town. (So far, a few fat options, but no brass ring.) His novels are based on his years surviving as a creative person in the ad biz and in show biz. It is an interesting life.
He has worked as the Creative Director of Disney Studios in Burbank, and as an independent creative resource for Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount and the Disney Channel, as well as for many indy production companies including Hanna Barbera, Franke Films, Pink Planet Productions, Eyeline Films and Zoiyu Productions. His films and television specials have appeared on NBC, the BBC, and the Disney Channel, and he has written many memorable song lyrics, advertising jingles and television show openings, including “Disney’s Wonderful World”, “Now & Then”, and “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show”.








Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guerrilla Marketing: or How to Make Do with Little Money But Lots of Time and Imagination

Copyright © 2013 Eilis Flynn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point
Guerrilla marketing. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? It’s a term you might have heard of in the recent past, but not quite been sure of what it means. It’s a term that’s been around for about a quarter of a century, so it’s relatively new—but not as new as some of the techniques used in this form of marketing.
Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term in 1984 in his book, Guerrilla Marketing. Unlike traditional forms of marketing, guerrilla marketing depends on getting attention in unfamiliar ways. A prime example is the 2007 case in Boston, when small light displays with mysterious words written on them that showed up in places like subway stations and bridges around the city were mistaken for possible bombs. The police came out, bomb sniffers came out…and it was all for naught. The displays turned out to be ads for a cable TV show called Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and the mysterious words were from the show’s characters.
Another example is something that’s been used in the past couple of presidential election cycles, in the form of flash mobs, where seemingly impromptu gatherings (but in reality previously coordinated and choreographed via email, texting, and even Twittering) in public places end up in song, dance, and even a poetry slam before the gathering then dissipates in the same impromptu way. T-shirts worn by a group again in public gatherings and perhaps even reading from your work could be yet another example.
Guerrilla marketing is meant to be memorable and generate buzz. Unusual approaches in public, street giveaways, and more, are all designed to get maximum notice. Small groups are considered to work best in such techniques as they can get closer to the target audience.
What can this do for you? First of all, guerrilla marketing allows you to get close to the target audience. Maybe it’s a group of your friends wearing t-shirts with your book cover on the front and all playing a kazoo; that’s certainly memorable, and people would definitely talk about it. Subtle product placement, like the Boston incident (or maybe that wasn’t so subtle). Even graffiti. Or even blogs and websites, something with which you may definitely be familiar, but with a twist or some kind, something in which the readership of those particular blogs or websites are interested. Promotional items can fit into this category; you see individualized pens and notepads being distributed, but what about something you don’t see nearly as often—if you’ve written something involving the sea, pens with those tiny little boats or mermaids that float back and forth?
In any case, there are many ways that guerrilla marketing could work for you. Basically, you have to think of how you can make do with little money but lots of imagination. You need to be hands-on with this form of marketing; you can’t afford to pay someone to do something, but you can persuade others (who possibly owe you a favor) to give casual passersby a show they can’t possibly forget.
Now take a look around. What can you do to promote your work that doesn’t require much money?
Eilis Flynn has worked at a comic book company, a couple of Wall Street brokerage firms, a wire service, a publishing company for financial cultists, and a magazine for futurists. She’s also dined with a former British prime minister and a famous economist, can claim family ties to the emperor of Japan (but then can’t we all?) and the president of a major telecommunications company, worked at most of the buildings of the World Trade Centers, stalked actress Katharine Hepburn (for one block), and met her husband when he asked her to sign a comic book. With all these experiences (all of which are true!), what else could she do but start writing stories to make use of all that? She’s written a variety of things that also don’t seem to belong together, but they do: comic book stories both online and in print, scholarly works in a previous life as a scholar, book reviews and interviews, and articles about finance (at odds with her anthropology background), before settling down to write romantic fantasies about the reality beyond what we can see.
Eilis lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats. She was written Superman family stories for DC Comics (as Elizabeth Smith). Her first five novels—The Sleeper Awakes, Festival of Stars, Introducing Sonika, Echoes of Passion, and Static Shock,and Wear Black (cowritten with Heather Hiestand)—are available at most online retailers, and her novella,Riddle of Ryu, and short story, "Halloween for a Heroine," is available at the same digital stores. Her latest comic book story, ”30-Day Guarantee,” is available at http://www.myromancestory.com.
If you’re curious to find out more, you can check out http://www.eilisflynn.com. She can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com. If you’re looking for a professional editor for your own work, check out her rates athttp://emsflynn.wordpress.com.





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Differentiation

By Hank Quense
Copyright © 2010 Hank Quense

This three-part article describes one aspect of marketing and selling books.
With the gazillions of other books available, authors need something to make their book grab the reader's attention.  Book differentiation is one way to do this.

Part One: The Differentiation Process
Getting a book published means you can call yourself a 'published author.'  You may not know it yet, but it also means you can add the titles 'marketing manager' and 'sales manager to the title of 'published author.'  In other words, you, the 'published author,' are in charge of marketing and selling you book.  Surprised?  I was.
What do these new titles mean?  As marketing manager, you have to spread the word on your book and create a buzz about it.  This will get some folks interested in or curious about the book.  These folks will visit your selling site.  As sales manager your job is to convert these visitors to customers.  Your differentiation statements are the key to converting the visitors.
These statements tell the world why your book matters and why readers should buy it.  This is a vital aspect of self-marketing.  Consider this: thousands of new books become available every month.  Consequently, your book is competing against all these other books for the readers' attention and money.  Your book has to stand out from all the others and persuade readers to shell out money to get a copy.
I've read a number of books on self-marketing and using the internet as a marketing platform.  While they all contain good ideas, many ignore this subject.  When it is mentioned at all, it is covered rather quickly and shallowly.  I intend to cover the subject in depth because I believe it is of paramount importance.
For many years, I worked selling high-tech telecommunications equipment.  If I wanted to talk about a new product or new features on an existing product, I'd call a customer, explain what I wanted and the customer would set up a meeting with other interested departments.  Later, I'd give a presentation and answer any questions.  The critical point to make is this; I knew the customers and could get a face-to-face meeting whenever I needed to.  Marketing and selling on the internet are entirely different processes for several reasons.  First, you are selling from websites, not in-person.  You don't know the website visitors and the majority of them don't know you.  A second reason is that I presented my product to what amounted to a captive audience.  Website visitors are not captive; they are capricious and fleeting.
To sell your book, you have to devise a sales plan.  Yeah, a sales plan.  You're the sales manager in charge of selling the book and sales managers develop sales plans.  After you develop the plan, you then implement it.  The sales plan consists of two parts.  The first part is to develop your differentiation statement.  The second is to develop the means to use the statement most effectively.  That is, place the statement where potential customers can see it.
The good news about the sales plan is, that unlike many other marketing activities, it's free.  It can also be completed before the book is published.  I start working on a differentiation statement for a new book long before the book is finished.  This gives me ample time to tinker with the messages and to perfect them.
There are three elements involved in developing your book's differentiation.  These are depicted in the diagram.

Part Two: Differentiation Development
Essentially, what this process entails is developing three sentences or short paragraphs that can be used to sell your book.  The pitch line is the hook to grab the readers' attention.  Its purpose is to persuade the reader to keep reading the other two statements.  It should be simple, a few short sentences at most, and it must make a clear statement about your book.
What's in it for the buyers? is a statement that explains what the reader (i.e. a book buyer) will get in exchange for money.  This must be explicit.  This statement is not the place to get cute.  Don't come across like the legendary used-car salesman.  Tell the readers what benefit they'll get from buying the book.  Think of this statement in this way: If your book is surrounded by hundreds of similar-sized books on a shelf in bookstore, what would persuade the buyer to choose your book instead of one of the others? 
What's different about this book?  With all the books published every month, what makes your book stand out from the others?
These dry descriptions are difficult to grasp so I'll use examples from my published books.

Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty humorous short stories.  Here is my differentiation statement.
Pitch Line:
Live longer.  Laughter is good for your health.  Read this book and you may live longer.
What's in it for the buyer? 
Unusual characters, settings both strange and familiar, and bizarre plots are a few of the things you'll experience and enjoy.
What's different about this book?
Aren't you tired of reading scifi and fantasy stories that take themselves too seriously?  Well, you won't find any stories like that here.  It doesn't take anything serious.  Politics, Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, the military, aliens, the undead, they all get cut down a notch or two.

Fool's Gold is a retelling of the ancient myth of the Rhinegold.  The story involves a magical horde of gold and ring of immense power.  Sound familiar?  Tolkien borrowed part of the myth to write Lord of the Rings.  My version takes place in the future and uses aliens instead of fantasy creatures.  Here is how I worded my differentiation statement. 
Pitch Line:
A Ring of Power?  That is soooo yesterday. Now it's the Chip of Power and it produces laughs.
What's in it for the buyer?
Aliens, ancient gods, humor, beautiful Valkyries, heros, conniving nobles, betrayal, greed, incest, a magical gold horde; this story has something for everyone. 
What's different about this book?
This is the only retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth that is set in the future and is a humorous scifi tale.

Finally, there is my nonfiction book Build a Better Story.
Pitch Line:
Have a story that needs to be told?  Here's the best way to go about doing it.
What's in it for the buyer?
The book describes a process that eases the work involved in developing a story.  This reduces the time spent in reworking flawed and imperfect drafts. Following the process allows more time to be spent on the creative activities and shortens the time spent on less creative work.
What's different about this book?
Besides the process, this book takes a unique approach to character building and plotting.  It identifies problem areas that inexperienced writers struggle with and explains how to address those areas.  Two of them are character motivation and scene design.

Of course, when you use the statements don't use the questions, just the answers.  So my complete differentiation message for Fool's Gold looks like this:
A Ring of Power?  That is soooo yesterday. Now it's the Chip of Power and it produces laughs.
Aliens, ancient gods, humor, beautiful Valkyries, heros, conniving nobles, betrayal, greed, incest, a magical gold horde; this story has something for everyone. 
This is the only retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth that is set in the future and is a humorous scifi tale.

Do you get the idea?  How do you start?  Take a blank sheet of paper or a start a new mind map file on your computer.  Jot down every possible idea that comes to you for each of the three statements.  Don't eliminate any ideas because you think they are too dumb.  This 'dumb idea' may trigger a great thought or two later on.  Keep refining the ideas.  Add more ideas, combine others.  Eventually, suitable statements will evolve out of this exercise, but it may take more than a single session to get it.
Once you develop the complete statement, don't sit back and relax.  You need at least one, preferably two paraphrases of the message.  These are used to repeat the message -- to emphasize it -- without using the same words.

Part Three: Using the Message
What do you do with these statements after you develop them?  You stick them anywhere they'll fit.  On your website, on blogs, on ads, press releases, in your trailer.  If you can't fit the entire statement someplace (such as Twitter), use the pitch line by itself.
WEBSITE USE
On your book-buying page, make the pitch line the opening statement followed by the rest of your differentiation message. Why?  Earlier, I mentioned captured audiences when I made a sales presentation.  On the internet, no one is captive and their attention span is too minuscule to measure.  When these visitors land on your web page, you have a second or two to persuade them to read beyond the first line of text they see.  That is the job of your pitch line: to get the visitors to read further.  The next statement (what's in it for the buyer) has to tell them there is something of value here, something they can use or enjoy. Finally, your page tells them what is different about your book, what is in it that they can't get elsewhere.  If this works, the visitors will read even further where they can learn how to get a copy and how much it'll cost.  If you get a sale, you have accomplished the difficult process of converting a visitor to a customer.
TRAILER USE
Make sure your differentiation statements are clearly visible and emphasized in the trailer.  Get the message in the beginning and the end of the trailer.  Innumerable people from all over the world will view the trailer and you want them to understand your message.
INTERNET ANNOUNCEMENTS
Log onto social media sites and post an announcement that your book is available.  Include the differentiation message in the announcement.  
Log onto book sites like Goodreads and Librarything.  Add information about your book.  You can upload the cover and add descriptive text about it.  Make sure that text includes your differentiation messages.
PRESS RELEASES
Display your differentiation messages prominently.  Make them the opening statement in the body of the release.  Rephrase the message and place it a second time further down in the body.
EMAIL
Use the signature capability in your email program to build a unique signature using the pitch line by itself.  Link that pitch line to your book-selling website.  Now, every time you send an email, you'll also be pitching your book.
Once the differentiation statements are completed, you've taken a big step toward getting people to buy your book.  Keep going!  You can do this.

Hank Quense is the author of the Self-publishing Guides. Material such as differentiation and many more book marketing tips can be found in Marketing Plans for Self-published Books, on of the books in the Guides series
Hank Quense is the author of the Self-publishing Guides.  Publishing a book is only part of work.  The marketing work also has to be done.  That's the part most authors don’t understand or like. If you published a book and don't understand the need for building a marketing plan, or you don't know how to develop a marketing plan, this book explains it all. It contains a ready-to-use marketing plans that will have you marketing your book in no time.The book contains a complete marketing plan.
The marketing tasks are explained in non-technical language along with the rationale for the task.  The activities are grouped into timeframes. The plan is ready to be used. Based around the book’s launch date (i.e. the availability date) the marketing tasks covers pre-launch, launch and post-launch activities.