Fantasy Friday – Books, Books, And More Books

I love reading and I love having lots of books to read, but sometimes promising reviews kind of puts the pressure on, especially when several of these books release about the same time. That’s the state I’m in at the present.

Publishers have their reason, I know, but it really does seem unrealistic to try to read and review the books that all come out about the same time, within the three-month window the PR people say determines a book’s sales.

Three months.

Before I became a writer, there were books I hadn’t heard of three months after their launch. How was I supposed to read them and talk them up with my friends before the window closed?

It reminds me of movies that come out in May–when we here in California are still in school. By the time our school year ends in mid June, and I or my teacher friends have time to go see those movies, they no longer are in our theaters. Here and gone before I have a chance.

Thankfully the Spec Faith library gives us a place where we can find Christian speculative fiction, new and old. For that matter, it lists books that are traditional published or put out by a small independent press or even self-published. The problem there is, with so many books, how do you know which are the ones you’d really like to read? I mean, Spec Faith is closing in on 500 books cataloged in our database.

That’s were other readers come in. We need buzz–people talking about the books they’ve read. We need people willing to write a short recommendation or a longer review. We need them to copy and past reviews they’ve written on their own site or elsewhere, with appropriate links, so that readers can see more than a list of books with their cover art and back cover copy.

If someone is seriously trying to find the best Christian speculative fiction, they need to go where Christian speculative fiction readers hang out, where they talk about what they read, and particularly where they talk about what they like.

How great, then, to be able to go to a place like Spec Faith and peruse the offerings. But right now we only have six reviews for every one hundred books. That’s a lot of books without any buzz at all–at least on a site where speculative readers gather and speculative books are listed.

So I’m wondering, what’s keeping people from adding recommendations, at least. I mean, let’s say you’re a busy mom or dad with a 9 to 5 job and football games to attend. How are you supposed to write a review?

Well, buzz isn’t all about reviews. A lot of times it’s about a reader saying: I loved this one, don’t miss it. Or even, I liked the first one better. Or, if you liked this one, you’ll love that other one.

Buzz, folks. It’s just talking about books in a way that encourages other people to talk about books. Or to read them.

That, my friends, is what Christian speculative fiction needs most. So now I’m fired up and ready to do my own reviews! 😀

Published in: on September 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – Books, Books, And More Books  
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Book Buzz Tag – You’re It, 3

Well, it’s caught on. I’m amazed at how quickly the word spread. I’ve visited “fourth generation” sites already today. Some still have a few of the original books on the list. That’s informative right there.

Three sites added another category from the original and the bloggers they tagged have carried those new categories along.

One blogger (who will remain nameless, Camy 😉 ) changed as many books as she wanted, rather than just the one allowed in the RULES! Which are actually guidelines, as any good writer knows.

One more observation, then I’ll let you visit other sites (see comments to the original post ) to see how the lists have changed. While I tagged bloggers who participate in CSFF Blog Tour, I tried for a variety, people who might not be so apt to tag the same people. That decision alone seems to have made this little experiment grow wings. Something to keep in mind for promotion purposes, I would think.

Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 12:58 pm  Comments Off on Book Buzz Tag – You’re It, 3  
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Book Buzz Tag – You’re It, 2

Well, I have another topic to discuss, but I’m having too much fun with Book Buzz Tag, and only a couple of bloggers have posted so far. Already the changes to the original lists are very interesting. Both Margaret and Merrie added another separate category, with five more books. Well that’s cool. The more titles we get to learn about the better, I say.

The one thing I’d change if I could write the rules anew would be that the blogger needs to tell why he/she is adding the book they put on the list(s). That way we could learn something about the book, which just might mean it will find it’s way onto our to-be-read piles.

Anyway, I’m keeping the focus on Book Buzz Tag for a day or so more. And don’t forget to let me know if you start your own version. I want to see what books you’d put on the short list(s). 😀

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 1:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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Book Buzz Tag – You’re It

OK, I have this idea. Tell me if you think it will work. Volunteer to see if it will spread around the writing community like butter on hot toast. 😉

I suppose it’s a sort of meme, but I hope it has a greater purpose than simply filling blog space.

Here’s how it will work.

I’m going to list five MUST Read novels and five Keep Your Eyes on These novels, then tag five bloggers who I’m asking to post my list on their site. They may then add one book to each list but must also subtract one book. Finally they should tag five other bloggers, link here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, and comment to this post so visitors here know to check out how they may have changed the list.

If you aren’t tagged but want to play, copy the how to paragraph above, make your own list of MUST Reads and Keep Your Eyes on These, and tag away. It will be fun to see if we can generate some book wars … uh, I mean, discussions … good, healthy, respectful discussions! 😉

My five MUST Reads:

Demon: a Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress)
Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer (WaterBrook)
To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa (Cook Communications)
A Promise to Remember by Kathryn Cushman (Bethany House)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress)

My five Keep Your Eyes On These:
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (WaterBrook)
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook)
Winter Haven by Athol Dickson (Bethany House)
The Legend of the FireFish by George Bryan Polivka (Harvest House)

The bloggers I’m asking to post the lists (and make one book-for-book change to each list if they wish):
Merrie Destefano
Robert Treskillard
John Otte
Melissa Meeks

By the way, if you decide to play Book Buzz Tag, please let us know how it’s going.

So what do you think? Will Book Buzz Tag catch on?

Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm  Comments (30)  
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The Speaking Secret—Book Buzz, Part 8

It wasn’t until much later in the day, well after I posted yesterday’s recommendation of this week’s CFBA selection, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2008, that I remembered I had promis implied I would pass along the Great Secret of speaking to create book buzz.

First, I probably (definitely?) overstated its effectiveness. Plus, it only reaches a certain segment of the population, and therefore is limited in its role. In fact, many writers will flat out dismiss the idea as completely unhelpful.

However, for fantasy writers—and you DO remember I’m a fantasy writer, yes?—I think this speaking secret can serve to ignite book buzz.

It’s not gonna sound dramatic, mind you, or earth shattering. It’s not even a “how” secret, but a “where.”

(Are ya ready? Did I pique your interest, even a little? Build a morsel of suspense?)

Herald’s trumpet, please:


Yep, colleges. For YA fantasy or for adult fantasy alike.

Apart from the fact that university-age people came into reading on the broom of Harry Potter, if you target Christian liberal arts colleges or universities or even Bible colleges, you will probably be speaking to an audience gathered from all over the United States or even the world. Should your story be the kind that engages readers, these readers will return to their states of origin on the holidays, with your book in tow. Now, with no extra effort on your part, you can have copies scattered abroad.

Of course, this isn’t automatic. You’ll have to put that suggestion before your audience. Maybe even make it a challenge. And granted, you’ll have to break through to some very busy people, but again, this can be a challenge—like the “I dare you, eat just one potato chip” kind of marketing.

I’d even like to try a guarantee (one of the publishers put such a guarantee in their book): “If you don’t like it, mail it back and I’ll refund your money, BUT, if you do like it, tell ten other people.” Something like that.

As I was thinking about this idea, I was even wondering if college bookstores might not be willing to host book signings. I mean, they get great business just before the new semester, but what about during the months in between? Wouldn’t a book signing be an event college students would enjoy, especially if there was free food on the way out. “Come in, listen to the reading, pick up a ticket for a slice of pizza or a doughnut and coffee that you can claim on your way out.”

The point is, be creative. Think of untapped places to speak. Think of ways to draw people in. Think of people who can draw other people in. And don’t forget about the fun. 😀

Published in: on January 18, 2008 at 11:44 am  Comments (3)  
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Beyond Blogging to Speaking—Book Buzz, Part 7

By the way, happy Appreciate a Dragon Day! 😀

I don’t want to give the impression that the internet is the only way to generate book buzz. It certainly is not.

And before we go any further in this discussion, I think it’s important to make something clear.

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD. – Proverbs 21:31

In connection to the book business, I apply that in the writing and in the promotion of my work. I am to prepare the book for readers as best I can, but the last part of the verse is the key. The results belong to the Lord.

I can’t imagine going to battle without first praying about every aspect of what I know to lie ahead, and I see no reason to think a writer should do less. For me, ultimate success would be for God to be glorified in my writing. That is more vital than surviving a life-threatening circumstance. Why wouldn’t I want God’s council, instruction, wisdom, blessing?

My point is, I think prayer is the ultimate and necessary ingredient for book buzz. Not that I think praying will insure my book will become a best seller or any such thing. Rather, if I focus on praying that God will bring the readers He knows are ripe to hear what I’m saying in my story, and that He will show me the means to reach them, then I can be confident in the book buzz steps I take, not looking back and second guessing myself at every turn.

But about those book buzz steps, blogging is only one tool. The most effective other tool I’ve seen is speaking. Of course some people get shivers just reading that word. I understand. Though God called me to be a teacher for thirty years, when I first began the process I had such fear, I couldn’t imagine how I was to get through.

Others think, Well, who in their right mind would want to listen to me, for surely I’m no Liz Curtis Higgs or Beth Moore or John Eldridge.

Both these concerns can be addressed together. The key to overcoming the fear of speaking in public is to speak in public. The doing, and doing often, makes the act seem normal, much like driving (steering a vehicle weighing hundreds of pounds and burning fuel at sixty-five miles an hour beside hundreds of other such vehicles, some with insane eighteen year olds behind the wheel! And this is NORMAL? 😮 Well, yes, it has become so, but that first time? Not so much!)

The key is not to overreach. In other words, the audience doesn’t have to be 50,000 people filling the LA Coliseum or even 200 filling the Mount Hermon auditorium. Rather, why not become available at the local level as a speaker for the Mother’s Day tea? (I know a writer who has done this). Or at the local writers’ group breakfast?

Small groups usually have small budgets and would be thrilled to have a local author, especially if the only cost is that you make your books available for sale. And speaking in front of small groups isn’t really as big a deal as it seemed, especially the third or fourth time through. Trust me! It’s true.

There’s a speaking secret, however, that I am aching to try, that I think will create ready book buzz, at least for a certain audience. But I’ve gone on longer than I should already, so I’ll save that one for tomorrow.

Published in: on January 16, 2008 at 12:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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Creative Blog Buzz—Book Buzz, Part 6

From what I can glean, there is one other powerful attention getter that will have people talking about your books: your creative use of blogging.

This first example I want to share wasn’t started by blogging, however. I’m referring to something I just received word about from Donita Paul:

We are pleased to bring you news that this week on Wednesday, January 16, people around the country will be celebrating Appreciate a Dragon Day! What is this strange holiday, you ask?

Several years ago when DragonSpell first came out, Mrs. Paul was reading a book about how to market your book. One of the suggestions was to register a new holiday. So she registered Appreciate a Dragon Day, or AADD.

Just recently we Googled AADD. SHOCK! It’s all over the place! Mrs. Paul sent emails to many of the people and places that have given it a boost. It was not only a publicity ploy, but something that is dear to her heart: promoting literacy.

Check out the DragonKeeper website’s AADD Event Page to get more details on this interesting holiday and some suggestions on how to celebrate. Some of these ways include making a dragon kite, a dragon cake, a dancing dragon toy, putting on a dragon puppet show, and many more fun ideas!

Of course, if every author ran out and created a holiday tie-in to his book, this would soon get old hat. The key is doing something new.

I was reading over at Michael Hyatt’s blog From Where I Sit, as I regularly do, and from his totally unrelated post about the history of Thomas Nelson Publishers, I got what I think is a new idea for blog buzz. Mr. Hyatt mentioned that Thomas Nelson, Sr., when he first tried to sell his “affordable books for common folks,” had trouble with other booksellers boycotting them. His solution was to hold book fairs.

My thought was, Why not on-line Book Fairs? I mean, several authors could get together and hold such a one day fair, with books discounted and the number limited. Maybe a button could be created, and required to be posted by bloggers for them to be eligible to order books at the fair. Those are just ideas off the top of my head (and I wish I had a book I wanted to buzz about so I could get a fair going. I think it would be fun!)

The thing is, there are lots of ideas out there. If you want to start buzz about your book, think of what unique things connect to your story. Think of actual book events that might be translated into virtual book events. And make them fun, for you and for those you would like to involve. 😀

Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 11:35 am  Comments (6)  
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Buzz at Work—Book Buzz, Part 5

Hey all! I was just on Wayne Thomas Batson’s blog, at It’s a really fascinating site, with links to other Christian fantasy authors. Mr. Batson is the author of the Door Within Trilogy and Isle of Swords. These novels are among my favorites, and are growing immensely in their popularity right now. There is even talk of making a movie! Only time will tell, I suppose.

So said the author of the blog Writer’s Passion last Thursday.

A week ago, Saturday, the blogger writing Books under the Bridge said this:

Recommended: The Legend of the Firefish (George Bryan Polivka), Book 1 of The Trophy Chase Trilogy.

I first heard about this book by browsing around the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour. It’s George Bryan Polivka’s first fantasy publication, published in March of 2007.

These are specific examples of the way buzz works. Wayne Batson creates a “fascinating site,” but also links to other Christian fantasy writers. Blog visitor Araken then writes about Wayne’s site, linking to it. And here I am, writing about both Araken’s blog and Wayne’s. And each person who reads my post or Araken’s, or who clicks over to Wayne’s site is introduced or reminded of his books. We are engaged in book buzzing.

Same with Bryan Polivka‘s, only this buzz was an outgrowth of a direct attempt to stir buzz. The point is, having a good blog helps and having your book featured on a blog tour helps.

It does seem to be an obvious corollary that the more places an author’s name appears, the more places his name will appear. Buzz actually works much like the dollars publishers spend for marketing—more to the well-known and selling well than to Brand New Author.

I finally understand what I heard from editors years ago—the time to start marketing your book is before you publish. This is true in part because of the Author Trust factor I mentioned last week. It is possible to build up author trust before readers have picked up your book. One obvious way is through speaking, but another way is through blogging.

I think there are some general “rules” to keep in mind, however, if “blogging” is actually going to result in buzz. (I suppose this really fits in with the blogging content post, but part of the problem with blogging is that you publish before you have the whole enchilada assembled.) In no special order, and largely to remind myself:

    1) write regularly
    2) keep the length manageable (posts that are long may chase away busy people)
    3) link to others, and better yet, exchange links as often as possible
    4) participate in blog rings or blog tours (but keep in mind that content ought not be a copy-and-paste edition of what readers can find elsewhere—it kills their motivation to visit.)
    5) broaden your web presence by visiting new sites and leaving comments. (One professional says to do a set number of things every day to promote your work, and visiting new sites certainly counts.)
    6) invite guests to blog (often their readers will follow them over to your site)
    7) keep your content focused on a particular topic, one in which you have some experience or knowledge
    8 ) to the best of your ability, make use of new technology such as podcasting

I’m sure there are others I could list, but I’ve already gone on too long. 😉

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 1:49 pm  Comments Off on Buzz at Work—Book Buzz, Part 5  
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More on Blogging—Book Buzz, Part 4

So we have a successful blog and we have a book with high-quality content. Is buzz assured? Hardly. I don’t know the latest figure tallying the number of people who blog, but a recent book on the subject says the number doubles every five months. That puts the total in the millions, I’m guessing, so how is my little voice going to stir action when so many voices are asking for attention and a response at the same time?

One key component is the trust factor. Some bloggers, because of their position, have others listening to them. Examples in Christian writing circles would be Thomas Nelson CEO, Michael Hyatt or agents such as Chip MacGregor.

Others have built up trust because of what they say or because of their experience. Brandilyn Collins comes to mind. As a relatively new and successful author, she hooked a number of us onto her blog because she shared a detailed, and often humorous, account of her road to publication.

For those of us who have no high-profile position and no validating experience, the job of creating buzz via blogging is somewhat harder but certainly not impossible.

One of the most successful is Camy Tang. Besides building up her blog readership, she has ventured into a number of other buzz-creating endeavors. One such is to offer freebies. People love winning free stuff and will often continue to come to a site and leave a comment on the chance they will win.

“Free stuff” can be free info, especially if the person is situated as an insider. Randy Ingermanson may be the best writer offering free help for those starting out, to the point that he has morphed his teaching into a business. Agent Terry Whalin also has a number of free articles he links to at his blog.

Besides offering free info or books or what have you, bloggers are building buzz through blog tours such as CSFF, blog carnivals, and blog parties. Parties have extended to launch parties. I haven’t seen one of these done up big yet. The only “party” I was involved in, I was pretty much on the periphery, but the buzz part was created by every participant posting a link to party headquarters. Also, lots and lots of people donated prizes, so the purpose was really to join the party, post, and see if you might win something.

Contests are another part of creating book buzz, and blogs are ideal for holding contests such as Fantasy Challenge and Fantasy Challenge II or Wayne Batson’s Treasure Hunt.

But there’s even more. Can you tell blogging is becoming one of the bigger pieces of the marketing pie?

Creating Buzz with Blogs—Book Buzz, Part 3

Kim mentioned blogs in her comment to Tuesday’s “Trusting an Author” post. Without a doubt, blogs have given the average Jarred and Josephine a voice in the public arena, one not previously found except in Letters to the Editor or a possible five-second sound bite in front of the local news crew. (So, what do you think about Katrina? about Kobe Bryant? about Brittany? about the latest American idol?)

But the amazing truth is, finding blog readers is really no different than finding readers for a book: it also requires buzz. The difference is, there are people out there who know what it takes to build up a blog’s profile, if you’re willing to work at it. These things include ways to position your blog on search engines and exchanging links with others.

It also means joining in with others who have similar interests and forming a community or communities of people who might be interested in what you have to say. This can be done in a somewhat informal way through blog rings or in a more defined way through sites like MySpace or ShoutLife or Linkdin.

There are also numerous discussion boards, some started by authors, such as Stephen Lawhead or Ted Dekker; some started by editors such as Faith in Fiction; some connected to membership groups, such as ACFW; and some connected to webzines, such as Mindflights. The point is, there are many, many places on the web to put your name out, and with it, your blog address.

The thing to be aware of, however, is that blogging, and trying to create a buzz for your blog, can serve as turn-offs rather than positive invitations for people to listen to what you have to say. In fact, Nicole just posted on this subject on her blog, Into the Fire, in an article entitled “Saturation Point.”

There is a large range when it comes to the types of blogs. Some can come across like mass-market mailing. These are sites that exist to sell things, and ninety percent of the posts are contest offers designed to introduce the reader to a product. Those can sometimes have a healthy number of visitors—people looking for a bargain.

Other sites, however, are designed for personal use—a real journal of thoughts or events in which others are invited to read along.

Still others are somewhere in between, having professional goals but with a personal spin.

Any of these can work, but the key is, if you’re doing a mass-market mailing, don’t lead your readers to believe they are receiving a personal note. Blogs that promise one thing and deliver another are disappointing and can turn readers off.

We’ll continue buzzing about buzz, and if you have questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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