Episode 25: Gail Z Martin

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I cannot begin to describe the magnitude of awesome that is this interview. Gail Z Martin is a true inspiration, one that I latched on to ever since I read the Chronicles of the Necromancer some 7 odd years ago.

Not only is she a great writer with over a decades worth of publishing under her belt but Gail is also a marketing expert. She spearheads her own marketing firm, DreamSpinner Communications, along with her husband, and they help out small businesses get in touch with their target audience.

The one thing that impressed me is her open mind – Gail does not play by the Traditional publishing rules but instead seeks out her own audience, interacts with her fans on a personal basis and puts work out there faster than anyone in her position that I can think of nowadays.

Make sure to follow Gail Z Martin on Facebook, Twitter, check out her blog, her site and her work on Amazon.

And now for some promos because I need a buffer.

Tonight is K.D. Keenan’s Launch party (7-9 Central on Facebook). You can listen to our interview here.

Clear your calendars for July 24th – AEC is organizing a Mystery Release Party. That’s all I got: Mystery. Be there and let’s find out what it’s all about.

Also AEC is now officially working with Noveltunity. All our readers and the listeners of this show (that means YOU) get a 40% discount on Noveltunity by entering the promo code: AESNOV30.

And now, here’s the show:

 

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

 

Thank you guys for listening, and thank you for the reviews. Don’t forget to email me the link to your review at ryanattardauthor@gmail.com for a free short story.

Peace out,

Ryan

Social Media Marketing and a Slightly less confused Author

No this is NOT a selfie!!

 

As I keep saying over and over again, I am by no means an expert on the subject of marketing or social media. I am starting to think that no one really is: understanding social media is understanding how the modern Homo Sapien (x3) brain works. Worst yet, social media is the looking glass to human interaction – anthropology at it’s best and worst.

If you ever meet someone who say they are an expert, most likely they either very good at one specific area or just full of horse shit.

I say this because of the disheartening effect marketing can have on nascent creative minds. If you have my temperament, merely thirty minutes on Google researching this subject will make you reevaluate every step that has brought you here.

Take my word for it – it happens to the best of us. This is how the weak are weeded out. Those who give up would not have survived in our cutthroat world, so perhaps it was for the best.

But to you, the survivor, I have some good news. There is a way you can actually make marketing fun. Just make it about connections and about getting in touch with people rather than just getting figures and numbers in line. It’s more effective and lasts longer anyways.

If you chose to delve into the social media world (this is today’s topic, so as to talk in detail about one thing rather than touch upon many and never go in depth) you will find a myriad articles detailing how one such company works versus the other failing. Specifically you may have heard the one about Facebook ads and how ineffective they are.

The simple truth that most people fail to see is that such statements are neither right nor wrong. Human psychology is never black and white – so how do we expect to judge social interaction (even over the internet) within such parameters? This is simply a matter of perspective.

Let’s take the Facebook ads example. Many independent businessmen (and women), including many with whom I work with rather intimately, are staunch believers that one should NEVER buy ad space on social media. There’s a hundred and one reason why and I won’t discuss any here. A variety of articles have been written on the subject by people who are vastly more knowledgeable than I am in this particular regard.

However the question I beg to ask is – if the lone businessman is avoiding Facebook ads, then why are they still in existence? Surely Facebook isn’t blind to this speculation, so why is it wasting time and effort in this venue?

Today (a few hours ago actually) I happened to be talking to one of my training partners who held a job in a marketing department at a Maltese-British firm. The conversation took many roundabout turns (as they tend to do when I am involved in them) but the gist was “a great tool for marketing is buying ad space on known sites or just rent affiliates.”

Huh?

If there’s one thing that corporations know how to do is keep their money and mine their resources. Surely they won’t waste their money on something that is a known ‘dead horse’. Fact of the matter is, yes, big companies use social media marketing and paid ads, but they also run different campaigns.

This is exactly like being a conductor for an orchestra. I’ve never been one but bear with me on this metaphor. You can either swing your hands at random and hope that what comes out is magic (it can happen but it’s a 1% chance, and what’s the chance of that 1% being you?).

Or you could have different sections start at different times, working together in sync. That is how your social media strategy should work. It’s common sense when you think about it.

Let me give you an example using my recent strategy for Birthright. I explained all this on my latest podcast episode but let’s roll the tape again:

- I bought Facebook page ads for 5 bucks a day for a week

- I bought Twitter ads for 5 days (maximum they offer)

I made the above two run together and this gave me overlap value. Basically I’m bombarding potential customers from both fronts. They go on Twitter – BAM, I’m there. They go on Facebook – BAM, there again.

This is what I call Stage 1. My aim here is to create a wave (now we’re switching onto a surfing metaphor – yet another thing I have no idea how to do). Social Media is great for an initial spike in sales and numbers but will not sell by itself. In fact I would go as far as to call this part a failed experiment – the fault is entirely mine here. I set too high a standard on this stage. I am seeing a significant rise in sales, but it’s not yet where I want it to be.

But no matter. Live and learn. I’ll know better for next time – which will be in a few months for my next series.

Stage 1 will not do anything long term. Enter Stage 2.

This is pretty simple, and yet, the most crucial part of it all. The mailing list.

I put together a list of everyone who ever reviewed my work and plan to send them an email with something along the lines of “You liked book 1 and asked for Book 2. The wait is over – enjoy.”

In this manner I am personally interacting with these people and making potential life-long fans. Think about it – you review a book you like. Perhaps you asked the author a question during the launch party. Perhaps you ‘liked’ a post or a tweet they put up. How would you feel if you got an email from that author, saying thank you for your support and give you a free review copy of the new novel to put on your blog?

And better yet, how would you feel if, just by posting a review and sending him the link to it, he will give you yet another free story?

I’m will to bet real money (my career actually – literally) that you’ll like that guy, and you will remember him.

It will encourage you to interact more, exchange emails, tweets, comments – perhaps even blog material. Perhaps that author will also leave a review for your novel.

See where I’m getting at here? Connections.

Of course, I am thinking long term here. I fully plan to build this list so much that it’ll become a subscriber list but that’s maybe two years down the line. Hopefully less.

There is a Stage 3, but that is so long term it spans years. This is basically where my core fans reach such a level of numbers and intensity that my hours spent on marketing will be cut in half or more, simply because my fans will do the job for me – just by buying the book and leaving a review.

On a mass scale.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes there is a little ‘evil genius’ in me. However, my endgame has always been completely sincere: I want to sell you stories.

Better yet, I want you to get them at the lowest rate possible. Even better, I want to oversell to you – by giving you free short stories with at least every book. Once I have enough material, I will think of some way were you can get a set of my books for free – just for joining my list and checking out my stuff.

As I said at the very beginning, I am no expert. But I do know that building real connections with my readers is the only way to move forward and have a long lasting career.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Check out some of my other posts here on the site or contact me at ryanattardauthor@gmail.com to get in touch. Remember to link me your reviews for a free short story.

Write epic, stay cool,

Ryan

Episode 24: Marketing Insanity

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Warning: DO NOT consume any beverages during this show.

This episode is inexcusable – the premise is that I talk about some of the marketing strategies I wrote about on this post a few days ago and further elaborate on some social media I used to promote my latest release Birthright (Bk2 of the Legacy Series).

And of course I did just that – to a certain extent.

The problem was, I listened to some “particular” music and consumed copious amounts of coffee before coming on to the show, and ended up going bat shit crazy.

Seriously, don’t drink whilst listening to my show. And DO NOT let your kids listen to this either. There are a variety of scars you can give them: don’t let this show be one of them.

To sum up the today’s show, I discuss:

- platform building and funneling

- building your list and rewarding subscribers

- paid ads

- reviews

 

I also did about 17 different impressions and sang 5 times on the show so the message may be somewhat buried. Either way, I hope you enjoy the show and hopefully you learnt something.

I wouldn’t count on it though,

Ryan.

 

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

 

PS. Enter WC78G to get Birthright for .99c on Smashwords. The offer expires today so get a move on!

PSS. If you wanna get a free short story just click on this link. Or listen to the show. Either one is cool.

The Platform and the Funnel – a marketing strategy

It’s that time again. You know, that special time of the year where you’re past waking up with a droopy smile because your book just came out. Imagine all those people carrying around copies of that novel you’ve been working on for the past few months (or years), and imagine them reading said novel – either during recess during class, or perhaps taking it with them to the beach or (and this one is by far my favorite) hiding it in their secret compartment in their office desk to read whilst pretending to work diligently for a boss who really couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their pension fund. Or maybe they have it hidden in a special file on their computer right next to that raunchy porn filled file labeled “tax returns 1997″.

All in all: happy times.

What I’m talking about now is past that, once all the joy of release (that sounded dirty) is over and you’re left with one pertinent thought that hunts your every waking moment and a few lightly ones too:

“How in the flying fuck am I going to get my book from [Enter bookstore of choice] to your eReader or hands?”

Let me translate – How are you going to get people to buy your book?

I am by no means an expert in marketing. I am however a book addict and I do pay attention to what others are doing. Half of marketing is observation and highlighting things of interest that might work for you.

The other half is stealing that shit and reworking it into something completely different.

See, I am not a marketer – I’m just too blunt and honest.

The key to success in this field seems to be in two ways: Platforming and Funneling.

OK, OK, stay with me here. Those are fancy words but don’t let them intimidate you. Like all magic tricks once you look past the awe and understand the mechanics then you are a magician.

Let’s start at the basics. When you think of selling, most of you will think of selling on a mass scale to millions of people.

Wrong.

That way of thinking will overwhelm you. The trick that no one tells you about (and I know this having spent an hour of my life trying to find articles explaining this) is that all you need are 1000 fans. 1000 people.

Not a million. Just a thousand.

But even that is a stretch. Start with a 100. Find 100 people who share similar tastes, who will for sure like what you write and BOOM – instant 100 fans.

Instead of hitting the masses, just target the people that know will be interested in what you have to say. And that, boys and girls, is what we call Funneling.

See? That easy.

Now Platforming is even easier. A platform is the place atop which you stand to project your voice. In marketing terms this is your Mecca, the central hub of the Matrix – where all things go in and come out from.

This will usually be a website or a bog or something that your fans will be directed to. There they shall find riches and glory – or in my case, this blog, a link to my books, a short bio and of course my podcast. Everything they need to stay on top of … well … me. (OK yes I heard it too.)

Moving on.

Of course, just having that won’t cut it. This platform should be the basis of your voice – and I do mean your artistic voice.

Most opt for a blog – it’s cheap and easy enough to maintain and all you really need is a couple of ideas and a really unique way in which to transmit them. One of the most successful bloggers I know is Shannon Thompson. What sets Shannon’s blog apart is sheer diversity. You never know what she’s gonna talk about but you know it’s simple, direct and easy on the eyes. Another blogger I am friends with is Amber Forbes. She flips the table – blogging only about a specific topic. AEC Stellar has the most unique platform I’ve ever seen. The Author Extension Community feeds on a pressing need for creative people to band together and help each other out. That way AEC’s blog is getting massive traffic and some good contacts – all the while helping out people. For zero profit.

My personal blog (this one) is a dual mix of some crazy idea or poem or story I have, but I keep those to a minimum (since I tend to grow my ideas like cacti and then put them in books I can sell.) Mostly my blog is about being a writer. I talk about idea generation, the emotional prospects, etc. And I also talk a lot about marketing. The twist is, I’m not a marketer. But have enough grasp of the subject and first hand experience to explain the key concepts in my own words.

That is, in my own voice.

But blogging is not the only answer. Further emulating the gods of Self-Publishing (Johnny, Sean and Dave of the Self-Publishing Podcast) I started my own podcast, The Lurking Voice. But I do not talk about marketing there – there’s a million and one podcasts that already do that. There is no need for me.

So I divided my podcast into 4 different types of episodes and looked for what works. I do book and movie reviews, I talk about a monster of the week, I discuss some marketing (usually preceded by a blog post like this one – take a guess as to what the next episode on Thursday is gonna be on?) and, most important, I interview authors. I ask them about their childhood influences and their past. I ask them about their first attempts at being creative. I ask them about their writing schedule. I ask them about their interaction with fans. Then I ask them more random crap.

That is, unless we go off on a tangent. Which is still cool.

Creative people LOVE talking about themselves and their projects – and they love GOOD conversations. That’s what my podcast is. A voice about voices.

Aside from that shameless bit of self-promotion (just kidding – I have no shame) the point to that example is to show you that finding your voice is the building material for a platform.

Find you voice and build a platform – a base of operations. Target people who you know are your audience. Start off with a 100. Then a 1000. Interact with those people. Not your agent or your assistant (are you listening traditionally published people?) – YOU.

Be a human talking to other humans. Form bonds.

Because guess what? If people know you on a deeper level than just a Like on Facebook, or a retweet on Twitter, then they are more invested in you.

They will bookmark your site (platform). They will circle the date in their calendar of when your next release or giveaway will be. They will comment on your posts and share your tweets – thereby earning you more traffic and thus, more visibility. They will join your mailing list (more on that in the next post).

They will be your fans.

OK, I’ve rambled on enough for one day. (Yeah no shit. It’s called a blog ‘post’ not the fucking Declaration of Independence.)

Sigh. You know it’s time to bow out when you start heckling yourself. I hope you found this post somewhat useful.

See you at the top,

Ryan

 

Here are some websites for you to check out:

50 Simple Ways to build your Platform in 5 minutes a Day

What is a Writer’s Platform?

5 things you can learn about email marketing from the most interesting man in the world

5 content marketing strategies for small business

5 successful marketing strategies for fiction authors (this one is by Joanna Penn – I so want this woman on my podcast)

5 low cost social media marketing strategies for authors

 

Although, honestly, the best source for all this is Write. Publish. Repeat. They don’t pay me to tell you this – they are just that awesome.

Episode 23: K.D. Keenan

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Today’s show is an interview with The Obsidian Mirror author K.D. Keenan – who was very nice to show up and save me from not doing the show. Reasons are in the audio clip.

I just wanna take this opportunity to thank everyone who bought my book(s): especially yesterday. I said it before and I will kill saying it again: You guys are awesome.

I would like to invite all y’all to the release party taking place tonight between 7-9 CDT. You guys can win Kindles, devices and of course books! There will be interviews held live by the authors. Mine is at 7.30 I think.

Join me for a hilarious caffeine-addled conversation. I can promise dirty jokes, fantasy themes and of course, tentacles!!!

Also don’t forget the Smashwords promo code: WC78G. Enter that in your purchase and my book magically becomes .99c.

Don’t forget to check out this post to see how you can obtain a free short story in exchange for a review.

OK and now let’s plug our guest. Find K.D. Keenan on Facebook, Twitter and her site. Go check out the Obsidian Mirror – it’s good.

 

 

Music:

Rapid Fire

Blue Stahli
www.fixtstore.com/bluestahli 
www.youtube.com/fixtmusic

See you guys tonight for the party.

Peace out,

Ryan

Get a Free Short Story

Just in case you missed it here’s the cover of my upcoming novel Birthright again:

Birthright 2

Here’s the link to the post I wrote for Monday’s cover release.

Today I wanna talk to you about free stuff. You like free stuff right? Who doesn’t like free stuff.

If you listen to my podcast you know that I like my marketing to be friendly and based on relationships with the reader rather than spamming your inbox with crap you’re gonna delete before reading.

That said, I do have a marketing strategy that I am using right now and that I will podcast and blog about extensively. However my biggest tool in the shed for this release is Hammer Time.

What is Hammer Time Ryan? Did you finally crack and started dancing to the 80’s classic?

Yes but that’s not the point.

Hammer Time is a FREE SHORT STORY – the story of how Erik got his office. It was originally going to be part of the book but it didn’t really fit, so I revamped it into a stand alone story, made it funny as fuck and plan to give it to you FOR FREE.

How do we get this free short story I hear you ask?

Well, that, boys and girls, is the fun part.

All you have to do is review Birthright and email me the link to that review on ryanattardauthor@gmail.com. Then via the magic of the internet I will reply back with a thank you and a copy of Hammer Time.

That’s it. No strings, no bullshit. A review for a bonus short story – a simple thank you from my part for your purchase and the time you spent reading my work.

Will I sign you up for a mailing list? NO

Will I spam your inbox? NO

Will I try to sell you Viagra? FUCK NO

You email me the link and I reply with the story – as simple as that.

 

OK so let’s recap:

Step 1. Purchase and Read Birthright (It would also help if you read Firstborn too)

Step 2. Review Birthright (anywhere you want)

Step 3. Email me the link to your review at ryanattardauthor@gmail.com

Step 4. Open an email from me and download your free copy of Hammer Time

Step 5. Read Hammer Time

The End.

Got it? OK you got it.

See you all tomorrow for the Release Party. Birthright is coming at you in less than 24 hours!!

Peace out,

Ryan

Birthright Cover Release

OK you ready? OK here we go – 3, 2, 1 . . . COVER!!!!

Birthright 2

 

OK boys and girls, lock and load cos this is about to get heavy. We all know that a cover is a crucial element to selling any book, because people DO judge a book by it’s cover – so this baby has to be perfect.

Now’s the time to thank Viola Estrella, who has been doing covers for me for nearly a year. She made Firstborn‘s cover, whipped up a gem like that in less than 2 weeks and also made the cover for Dread Night. Finding the right artist for you is a tall order and some writers spend a lot of money experimenting with different people before settling for someone (sounds a lot like the dating scene doesn’t it?)

Thanks to Ray Vogel, who is the CEO of AEC Stellar, I was spared that pain. He came up to me, suggested Viola on account of her style and what little I described of my desired cover and BAM! – Instant cover artist.

But enough about the people whom I should be grateful for: now I wanna talk about me and how awesome my cover is.

Here’s the full version:

Birthright

 

Elephant in the room: The bird.

(Ryan that’s a Phoenix!)

I know.

(You made a big deal about it when Viola didn’t know what to do.)

I know.

(Tell the nice people about the flamin’ Bird!!)

I know!!

 

So there’s a Phoenix on the cover. It’s a bird made out of fire. (Thank you Sherlock.)

The Phoenix is a plot element, vital to Erik’s childhood. I won’t spoil anything, just that it has something to do with why Erik can’t use magic as an adult. It’s one answer anyway. (Just one of the answers though, cos I love torturing you one book at a time.)

Little behind the scenes fact – the phoenix was the last thing to be put since I wanted a specific pattern and pose but couldn’t really define it. So in order not to confuse Viola I told her to pull up some Google images of Marvel’s Jean Grey when she was the Phoenix. For those of you hardcore fans you’ll notice that the head pose of my phoenix is exactly like that of the Phoenix Force from the X-men comic cover.

We revived the stock photo of Erik from the first cover, cleaned it up nice and put it next to Gil. I have no idea where Viola got that girl from but LOOK AT THAT HAIR! That’s anime fetish 101 and I love it. When I requested Gil to be on the cover I had to fill out an entire character form (cos Viola knows that email descriptions are bullshit so she makes you write a diligent form with this thing called structure). I was sure that she wasn’t gonna get the character right – Gil is too anime themed to be found in any stock image.

But once again Lord Viola comes through and presents me with that cover. I love it when people prove me wrong and it’s to my advantage.

The one thing that bothered me to no end was the color of the words Birthright. I had the option between the current blue and a dark red version and had to run through 8 beta readers before I could make a decision.

Seriously guys, this decision took a week – longest decision ever. I finally settled on blue for a myriad of reasons; color contrast, the background and character hues, thumbnail colors, etc.

The sword icon on the spine has a number 2 in it cos this is the second novel (well, duh) and here is the blurb:

“Following the events of his last adventure, Erik Ashendale is having some serious doubts about . . . well, just about everything. He is doubting his power, his apprentice’s progress reached an impassive point and his sister’s information is yielding nothing. The Sins can attack at any time, and our hero has no idea what to do.

So he turns to Sun Tsu, an old friend who provides Abi with a few tools and a friendly ear to Erik’s tale: the obscure history of Erik Ashendale and how he went from a regular kid born into a rich Warlock family to the hunter we all know and love today.”

And that, boys and girls, is from Goodreads, where the book is already uploaded, locked and loaded for next THURSDAY’S RELEASE PARTY.

Yep, only 3 days until you guys can read this book for yourself.

Woo-hoo!!!

Peace out,

Ryan

 

PS. If you haven’t read Firstborn and Dread Night, now is the perfect time to prep up for the release of the second novel. Click on the links to purchase them and you will not be sorry.