Sunday, March 25, 2012

Leveling Out

There is one part of being independent that we don’t like - marketing. We would really just prefer to write novels and have them magically get noticed and read. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way. We think our inability to promote our work well means that we are not attracting as many readers as we could and, at least for our fundraising efforts with Bobbie Titan in the Mark of Kain, this means we aren’t generating the kind of support for Poway High Student Services as we would like.
The way we see it, there are four levels to “getting out there.” First, some of your close friends and family buy the book just because they think they should. When it turns out that what they read is worth the effort, they talk among themselves and some more of the level-1 books get sold. Level-2 starts when people in the local area begin to hear about the book and start to buy it. In our case, it was people like the dentist, hairdresser, the kids that come into the Student Services Office and a few of their parents who read the book. If you’re lucky, you also get recognized by some local media. It happened for us when we just released Bobbie Titan and the Poway Chieftain carried a story about us. Unfortunately they only included the article about us in the print addition, so we weren’t able to share a link and the impact stayed local to Poway.

Luckily, we’re getting another chance to shine a little bit in the area around PHS. This week an article came out about us in the 92064 magazine. It’s a nice publication and their web presence is well laid out. They also distribute a paper magazine to everyone in the Poway zip code. So, all of our loyal followers might want to check out the whole periodical by jumping to . Don’t forget to check out the “Faces in the Crowd” column to read about us ( We are really pleased by the article.

Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck at marketing level-2. Level-3 happens when people greater than two degrees of separation start reading your book. We just don’t have a real good feel on how to get “strangers” interested in what we’ve written. We have a sense it comes from “discovering” us at the place where people buy books and, for us, this equates to the big e-book distributors like Amazon. So now our big push is to get as many of the level-1 and level-2 people who read and liked our work to go to Amazon, B&N, Apple, or all three, and tell others what they thought. We think Amazon is the most important. Even when we buy a book somewhere else, we often go to Amazon first to see what other readers thought. We are also always more comfortable choosing an unknown author when they have 20 or more positive reviews. So that’s what we’re trying to do for Bobbie. Right now we have six: four five star and two four star ratings.
Level-4 is a dream. That’s the kind of marketing that happens when you have a runaway best seller and people want the movie rights. If we ever get to level-4, we will be sure to get professionals to help. It might mean less independence, but it would also mean we would have people begging to help us. Now wouldn’t that be sweet!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's Like Baseball...

We watched our 4 ½-year-old grandson play t-ball yesterday. It was the best kind of heart-warming comic relief. While a few of the youngsters seemed to grasp the idea behind baseball, the vast majority of the children were just happy to put on their uniform and run around, usually in the wrong direction. This morning, when we recalled the light-hearted events we’d witnessed, it made us think there could be a baseball analogy to writing novels.

 Like baseball, writing an engaging novel-length story requires understanding a set of non-intuitive rules. Not only must you develop writing skills, but you must employ them in ways that make the story you are trying to tell understandable and engaging. Of course, there is some latitude. That’s why we like different kinds of stories and storytellers. An analogy to baseball might be that radically different stances can still be successful when hitting, but you still must have a talent to put a round bat on a round ball. And you can’t football tackle a base runner because that would no longer be baseball, just like you can’t just slap 75,000 words down and expect it to be understandable, let alone a pleasure to read.

And, like baseball, to be good, novel writing takes practice. We’re on our way to a million words that no one but us and a few advanced readers will ever see. And we’re sure we are not alone. Most novelists must hone their craft before they are any good at it just like most ball players must scoop up thousands of ground balls before they’re proficient fielders.  Luckily, in both baseball and novel writing, there are people around that will help you get better, much of the time out of the goodness in their hearts.

It used to be that the baseball analogy would hold true to novel publishing, but not anymore. While there is still only one MLB where the very best players can showcase their talents in the USA, the publishing oligarchs, thanks to eBooks, are now in decline. Before major league baseball could face the kind of difficulties major publishers are, virtual reality would need to be sophisticated enough so that watching an internet baseball game would be more entertaining than watching it on TV. It would have to offer at least some of the experience of going to the ballpark. If that could occur, individual players could then be free to associate outside of baseball’s monopoly and form teams among themselves while their fans, incased in their own virtual enclaves all over the world, could cheer them on. If this were to happen, no doubt heated debates would flair over the purity of the game, but, we’re sure, the ease, comfort, and cost for enjoying virtual baseball would soon put the kind of pressures on the MLB that Amazon is putting on Random House. While we grew up loving bookstores, it is a simple fact that eBooks and the internet provide a greater wealth of stories than we would have ever discovered wandering the aisles of the bookstore. And if you love reading stories like we do and can get over the need to hold bound paper, it is so much easier to get lost in the words when they are delivered electronically. We know this is sacrilege to some and we still have hundreds of paper books at our house, but the writing is on the virtual-wall. EBooks will one day soon be the norm and paper books a luxury. Whether this ever happens to baseball, we can’t predict. In the meantime, we’ll drive over to the ball fields and watch our grandson put the glove on the wrong hand and wave to us in the stands with the other one.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More This and That

We’ve finished the cover for The Dragon Princess and we really like it! We still have a lot of fondness for the butterfly butt that went with Bobbie Titan and the Mark of Kain, partly for the prurient sensation it caused, but we think the new cover is a lot more dramatic. What do you guys think?

Speaking of The Mark of Kain – we are trying to get as many reviews as possible for our first book out to where other people read them. Right now we’re concentrating on Amazon. A lot of you sent us your comments and, if it’s not too much to ask, we would love for you to add your insights to our novel on our Amazon Page ( Click Here!)
We would love new comments too! We’ve found that it’s a tale of the “rich getting richer” at Amazon. More reviews mean more sales and we are still donating all the proceeds from The Mark of Kain to Poway High Student Services.

Thanks Debbie Thomas for your recent Bobbie Titan review – we’re blushing!

We had a great response to our February promotion for our second novel – The Valentine’s Game.  We gave away a lot of books. Surprisingly the greatest one-day downloads happened after Armin from the PHS Peer Counselors told the boys to “man up” and get a copy. We can’t wait to hear what the PC boys think of the story – the PC girls too for that matter.

Last week was the two-year anniversary of the Chelsea King tragedy. Frankly,  we still hate February 25th.  However, a much more pleasant experience occurred yesterday when over 6,000 people showed up to remember Chelsea at the fun run/walk that bears her name. Lynn got to see a lot of old friends and former students. She didn’t get much walking in, however, because she was too busy talking and hugging – her favorite kind of exercise! We try to make the characters in our stories have that special joie de vivre that exuded from Chelsea and we always try to live up to one of her favorite sayings – “They can because they think they can.”