The Chief Means of Marketing, Part 8

I’m not sure how much more I’m going to do with this topic. As I may have mentioned once or twice, CSFF will hold the blog tour for Donita Paul’s DragonLight next week. After that, who knows which way the cyber-wind will blow. 🙂 But for one more day, at least, I want to discuss Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) by Andy Sernovitz.

By the way, I might mention that I am just twenty pages in and still in the first chapter. Hopefully that gives you an idea that this book has much to say. I certainly have much to think about especially as I consider how to implement the principles in the writing world.

As Brandilyn Collins reported on her blog Forensic and Faith when she was discussing WOMM, Sernovitz has identified five T’s of word of mouth marketing. The first of those is Talkers.

The question is, who will talk about you?

When I first got on the Internet, I didn’t know if I was supposed to come up with some kind of a cutesy fake name or what. I went on one sports forum (remember what a sports nut I am) and registered as B. Fan (for Broncos fan—ah, for the days of John Elway … 😉 ) Eventually I discovered the writer community, mostly through Faith in Fiction. Somewhere soon after, it dawned on me. Rather than protecting my anonymity, if I really wanted to be a writer, I needed to get my name out there into the public arena.

It was a departure from what I expected.

In real life, I was used to going places and running into people I knew—usually former students or parents of former students. At 60 new kiddos a year for 25 years, with the adults added in, that ups the chances of those chance encounters. Not so long ago I was pumping gas and a guy one island over looked at me, looked at me, then headed on over. And sure enough, this was the dad of one of my former students, from eight years ago.

But on the Internet? Put my real name on the web? My picture out there for the world to see? Well, why not, if some day I hope my name is on the front of a book and my picture on the inside flap. I mean, those books might go to who knows where. And isn’t that the point? If people are to talk, the conversation has to begin somewhere.

For the writer, it begins with the people we know who will be willing to talk about us. Family, friends, neighbors, business associates, … and cyber-friends. So who are the talkers in your world?

Published in: on July 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm  Comments Off on The Chief Means of Marketing, Part 8  
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Scene vs. Narrative, Part 2

Nearly two years ago, Bethany editor Dave Long wrote his thoughts about narrative on his blog, Faith in Fiction:

And the second thing I think I’ve noticed may be counter-intuitive to much of the advice given today. That is: density of story emerges primarily through narrative and exposition rather than dialogue … the heavy work of filling a book is done between the scenes.

This becomes difficult to parse out because in the best novels everything is for the sake of advancing the novel at some level. If it does no work, it should be excised. However, too often we’ve reduced that maxim to simply, “Everything must advance the plot.” And with that I disagree. A richer understanding of a character’s thoughts, a fuller development of a theme–these things make up the richness and fullness to which I’m referring.

Richard Russo’s Straight Man begins with a seven page prologue. It is at once superfluous to the plot and intrinsic to the main character. Do you leave it?

Lying Awake pauses in its story to give flashbacks, set apart in italics, of Sister John of the Cross’ childhood. Not a single one is pertinent to her dangerous medical condition. But each opens her life a little wider to us.

There are more and better examples out there. Hopefully you see what I’m getting at. Story is all. But story is not plot. And therefore plot is not all.

Mark Bertrand has recently visited this topic in his study on craft, although from a slightly different angle, cracking that old chestnut about “showing, not telling.”

We do need to learn to show. But as Mark says, we also need to learn to tell…well.


Faith in Fiction, May 17, 2006

As Dave said, this view seems counter-intuitive to the advice given today. Although I have some differing ideas, I agree there is an important place in fiction for telling well.

I finished Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb) last week and have to say, I don’t think the story was hurt by the amount of telling—considerably more than most CBA books, I’d wager. But was it helped?

For me, the key point Dave made was that plot does not equal story.

Your thoughts?

Published in: on April 14, 2008 at 10:24 am  Comments (10)  
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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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