Category Archives: Marketing your Project

Review or Bust

Review or Bust

This post, requested by one of this blog’s subscribers, fellow author Joy Sikorski, deals with the task of finding reviewers for one’s books on Amazon—an often daunting task. Readers often don’t realise the crucial importance of reviews to the life of a book. Without a sufficient number of these, books languish and die.

One approach aimed at alleviating the problem is to ask readers for reviews, either at the beginning, or end of your book, and provide a link to the specific spot on Amazon. This can work, but it requires that a sufficient number of people read your work first. When your book first appears, however, especially if you are a new author, it tends to get lost amongst the millions of others on Amazon. It’s easy to miss. Few readers, few reviews. It’s catch-22 all over again.

Joining some of the various book clubs and establishing a dedicated Facebook of your novel may, and, does, help. Yet, there are many who promise reviews on such pages, but never get around to writing them—though we live in hope! One does occasionally strike it lucky through such channels, though.

Yet another method is to run a blog such as this. If you are offering a free service that people find helpful, some conscientious souls may be inclined to reward you by buying your books and offering honest but fair reviews of them. This method, for example, has yielded some success for me.

One surer way is to join a professional site such as the Author’s Marketing Club.

http://www.authormarketingclub.com/

I have subscribed to this site and have found it extremely helpful in a variety of ways. The site provides loads information and insight on how best to market your book. It develops and offers many tools that make marketing your novel(s) easier. The site offers a specific tool (reviewer-grabber tool) that identifies reviewers on Amazon in your genre and lists their email addresses for you. It even offers a template letter showing the ideal way to word your request. It is then up to you to email these reviewers, offer to send them your book as a gift, and request they review it. Because these reviewers have an established track record (which you can check with the tool), the chances are that you will receive a number of positive responses through this method. You do have to be a paid-up member of the club to benefit from this, though.

I’ve have discovered that the benefits offered through this club, more than make up for the joining fee.

These then are some of the methods that independent authors, such as myself, use to encourage reviews of their books. Taken together, they form a core strategy, which yields results.

Summary

Reviews are the lifeblood of your book on Amazon. Few reviews = few sales. This post offers methods to address the situation.

Invitation

If you enjoyed this post, or have a suggestion for a future one, kindly leave a comment and let’s get chatting. You may subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “subscribe” or “profile” link on the right-hand side of this article. I post new material every Monday.

Why Film & TV Need the Novel

Movie camera and book

Books & Film

Before Amazon’s Kindle revolution and the resurgence of reading it inspired, there were some that predicted the death of the novel as a viable form of entertainment. How could reading compete with the visceral pleasures of big-budget, special-effects-driven films, or the massive growth of computer games that have so captivated our youth? (Exploring the obvious connection between film and the comic book will be the subject of a future post).

Yet, the truth is that far from swimming in competing pools, novels, films and games function in a state of symbiosis, feeding off each other.

I think this state of affairs is set to continue in the foreseeable future.

Consider the various skills of the novelist: Philosopher, visionary, psychologist, researcher, casting agent, actor, director, cinematographer, set builder, costume designer, scriptwriter, editor, sound recordist. Indeed, the novelist is the prime creator of the story world—albeit in the virtual sense.

At a time when big films require even bigger budgets, testing the potential success of a film by measuring the success of the novel upon which it is based is a relatively inexpensive way of taking out some insurance against failure—although, clearly, no guarantee against it, as the movie John Carter, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Princess of Mars, clearly demonstrates.

The point remains, however, that if a novel has done well in the market place, the chances are that a well-made film might do the same. The film maker might then allow the world of the novel to inform the world of the film, although, clearly, adapting a screenplay from a novel is an art form in its own right—often, to the extent that little of that world, other than the bones of the story, remains the same. Even so, the novel, does at least, act as a starting point for the film project.

In terms of benefit to the novel, people who have seen the film and enjoyed it might now read the novel on which the film is based. Sales of the Game of Thrones series sky-rocketed after the television series hit the screens.

Book-to-film/TV adaptations often go hand in hand with conversations about the relative worth of one rendition over the other. “The book was so much better than the film,” or vice versa—good publicity for all concerned, which helps to boost sales of the appropriate medium.

As an aside, I might mention that in my classes on screenwriting, I often encourage my students to write their screenplays as novellas, or short stories, first. This encourages them to explore their characters’ actions through the inner voice—something the novel, novella and short story do well. This shifts focus to character motives and goals and results in character action that is more authentic and believable, making for better screenplays.

Summary

Film, TV and the novel/novella often function in a state of symbiosis, testing and popularising the story through different media.

What is a Cover Reveal?

Red scarab
Cover reveals are an important part of marketing your forthcoming novel, short story collection, or non-fiction book, especially if you are an independent writer publishing on such sites as Amazon.com. Great covers spark interest in your work, and together with a release date (which may vary from days to a couple of weeks), help to create anticipation in your readership.

A well designed book cover seizes one’s immediate attention. At its very best, it captures, in an impactful and compelling way, the essence of your story, its central themes and elements, its chief conflict, and projects a defining emotion.

Opinions vary on specific styles, but obviously, genre and period have a lot to do with informing the look and feel of your cover. These considerations extend to the font used for the title and other text that appear on it.

My own preference is for simple bold images that rip through to the essence of the story. In my first novel, Scarab, a large red scarab, placed against a grey background to set it off, suggests the Egyptian link in the story, while the bright lights behind it variously suggest stars, or even, spacecraft lights, invoking the science fiction elements in the tale.

My follow-up novel, Scarab II: Reawakening, (which is being released on the 20th of June next month through Amazon), is based on roughly the same cast of characters as the first, and continues the established visual pattern, but introduces the images of a spherical object and a computer circuit board behind the now familiar red scarab, to highlight important elements in the tale.

The central thrust of Scarab II: Reawakening concerns a misinterpreted warning from an alien object found in the Drankensberg mountains of Natal, South Africa. A visual display from the orb seems to confirm the coming destruction of the earth by a super solar flare, as prophesised by various doomsday cults across the world, and the protagonist, Jack Wheeler’s, attempt to find and use the quantum computer, introduced in the first book of the series, to try and prevent it.

As illustrated above, a short summary of the story, and information about the author (if none is available elsewhere on the website), ought to accompany the cover reveal.

Once these elements are in place, you are ready to promote your cover reveal through as many mouthpieces as possible: certainly facebook, twitter, your website, fellow bloggers through announcements, author and character interviews, and blog-hops, and, last but not least, through the pre-sales option on sites such as amazon.com.

That done, sit back, have a cappuccino, or some Earl Grey tea, or something stronger if you must, cross your fingers, and wait for those first reviews and sales figures to come in.

And remember to breathe.

Summary

A cover reveal is an important part of your book’s marketing campaign. Use it judiciously, together with a release date, to help promote the launch of your book.

Invitation

If you enjoyed this post, or have a suggestion for a future one, kindly leave a comment and let’s get chatting. You may subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “subscribe” or “profile” link on the right-hand side of this article. I post new material every Monday.

How to Write a One Page Proposal

Man proposing to woman

The Proposal:

Agents’, producers’, and publishers’ time is extremely limited. These professionals continuously receive requests to read new work, most of which they eventually reject. The one page proposal is designed to capture their interest in the shortest possible time.

Selling Document

Think of the one page proposal as a selling document designed to hook the reader through the power and originality of your story idea—it doesn’t necessarily have to tell the whole story. The intention of this document is to impress the reader enough to have her request the fuller treatment, or, the first draft of your story. A proposal, therefore, must not be confused with a one page synopsis in that it isn’t designed to summarise the entire story. Rather, a proposal ought to fit on a single side of A4 paper or, on a single screen, and contain a lot of white space—in other words, appear uncluttered and be easy to read.

Most importantly, the one page proposal ought to:

1. Contain a powerful log-line.

2. Propel the reader into imagining the entire project. It should set up the location, period, mood, and genre of the story. The more vivid and engaging the description contained in the proposal, the better the chance that it will hook and ignite the reader’s interest in it.

3. Identify the target audience/ reader

4. Contain the main story question—e.g. Will Neo defeat Agent Smith and thus save humanity from a life of slumbering delusion—The Matrix. In the case of a movie or television script proposal: Reveal if any production elements are already attached, such as actors, director, producer, or, are interested in the project.

Summary

The one page proposal is intended to create interest in your project without taking up too much time. A successful proposal results in the agent, publisher, or producer asking for the treatment or first draft of your story.