Why I Plan to Ignore My Marketing Advice

At the moment, I think that my marketing activities are proportional. I spend a bit of time here and there doing research, and I blog for about 3 hours a week. Were I to keep up that rate, I’d say it would be a good balance of producing new work to selling activities.

Instead, I plan to spend an entire month doing nothing but marketing — almost no writing at all.

• April – Work on Daniel Darcy 1: The Exardo Invasion
• Early May – Collect 3rd draft beta reader comments for Power of the Mages and send it to the editor
• June – Finalize Power of the Mages and create review copy (including, ugh, maps)
• July – Besides last minute touches, do marketing
• August – Release Power of the Mages, finish up rough draft of Daniel Darcy 1, and work on compiling blog posts into a nonfiction book

Obviously, this approach does not embrace the balance that I called for in previous posts. Here’s why I made that decision:

1. I fear losing motivation – The vast majority of self published authors sell a few copies to their friends and family, and that’s about it. If I don’t do better than that, I think I’ll get seriously discouraged.

2. The need to swing for the fences is a personal trait – While it’s not likely that a first novel by a self published author is going to be a runaway hit, the possibility exists. I need to give the book that chance of success.

3. It fits my long term plan – Between August 1 of this year and August 1 of 2014, I want to have 5 works on Amazon:

a. Power of the Mages (August 1, 2013)
b. 12 Simple Techniques for Improving Your Fiction Writing: Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes of New Authors (late 2013)
c. Daniel Darcy 1: The Exardo Invasion (Spring 2014)
d. The Slender Man Massacre (Summer 2014)
e. Novelette/novella that comprises the 2nd part of my Dark Power series (Fall 2014)

4. The most effective marketing efforts take time to build –

a. Followers
b. Email list
c. Spreadsheet of bloggers

I don’t know if my first novel is going to sell one copy or a hundred or a thousand in its first year. From the numbers I’ve seen, if it hits 300, I should be happy. My efforts probably aren’t going to take it past that quantity, but I have to try.

Pacing Example – Using Description to Add Emphasis

I do a lot of reading about writing.  I see a lot of blog posts and chapters in books telling you what to do and, sometimes, why to do it.  What I find both valuable and in short supply are examples showing how.  I’m going to make an effort to do more of those types of posts, as I’ve done below.

I’m an engineer.  I’m trained to solve problems, and I apply that training to my writing.  The following example illustrates how I took a problem section and corrected it.

Steps to Correcting a Problem in Writing:

  1. Realize you have a problem
  2. Identify the nature of the problem
  3. Determine the cause of the problem
  4. Figure out how to fix the problem
  5. Implement changes

Check out this excerpt from The Slender Man Massacre:

With a flurry of finger movement, he typed to Christy: Got something.  Tell you tomorrow.

As soon as he hit send, the device died, so he returned his attention to the internet.  He copied the link from the blog and opened his Gmail account.

Something clicked behind him.  He spun around and thought he saw movement.  When he focused on that spot, he saw nothing.

Jonathan feigned returning his attention to the monitor.  After a moment, he snapped his head back to stare at that spot.  Still nothing.

He repeated the maneuver a few more times, making rapid movements to view random areas of the room.  Each time produced the same result — nothing.

“You’re being stupid, man.”  The sound of a voice, even his own, gave him comfort.  “There’s no one here but me.”

As much as his argument made sense, he couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.  He walked to where he thought he had seen the movement.  There was no sign of anyone and no place nearby to hide.

Shaking his head the entire way, he went back to the computer and sent the email to himself. 

A blast of cold air, like breath from a corpse, hit him square in the middle of the back of his neck.

Step 1: Realization – Though I had read through it a bunch of times and not noticed anything wrong, my collaborator immediately noted a problem.  That’s the value of a second (or third or fourth or…) set of eyes.  Sometimes you’re simply too close to the work.

Step 2: Identify – Imagine you’re in an empty room, and you feel a blast of air, like someone breathing on your neck.  It would creep you out, right?  That last sentence is supposed to have a tremendous impact.  It doesn’t.

Step 3: Determine Cause – I have an impactful moment hidden at the end of a list of other actions.  The reader doesn’t have enough time for each action to sink in before moving to the next.  By the time the reader reaches the bottom of the section, the impact of the blast of cold air is diluted.

Step 4: Determine Solution – The solution is obvious; I need to slow the pacing before the blast.

Step 5: Implement Changes – Description slows the pacing.  If I were to insert a paragraph of description between the last action and the blast of cold air, it would give the reader a chance to relax before I hit them with the hard punch.  See the revised example below:

With a flurry of finger movement, he typed to Christy: Got something.  Tell you tomorrow.

As soon as he hit send, the device died, so he returned his attention to the internet.  He copied the link from the blog and opened his Gmail account.

Something clicked behind him.  He spun around and thought he saw movement.  When he focused on that spot, he saw nothing.

Jonathan feigned returning his attention to the monitor.  After a moment, he snapped his head back to stare at that spot.  Still nothing.

He repeated the maneuver a few more times, making rapid movements to view random areas of the room.  Each time produced the same result — nothing.

“You’re being stupid, man.”  The sound of a voice, even his own, gave him comfort.  “There’s no one here but me.”

As much as his argument made sense, he couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.  He walked to where he thought he had seen the movement.  There was no sign of anyone and no place nearby to hide.

Shaking his head the entire way, he went back to the computer and sent the email to himself. 

Beyond the whir of the CPU, nothing sounded in the library.  The silence hung over the massive room like a suffocating weight.  Each rustle of his clothes and breath he took echoed like thunder.  Even the steady tap tap of his heart beat became the rhythm section of a marching band.  Jonathan hummed a tuneless melody just to fill the void.

A blast of cold air, like breath from a corpse, hit him square in the middle of the back of his neck.

It’s a subtle change but an important one.

What do you think?  Did it make the scene work?