Know What Pisses Me Off?

Car ads! Hole – Lee – Shit, especially the ones for the “snooty” brands like Mercedes and Lexus. That quiet, condescending narration, the views of the product doing things that no courteous person would do, the price! The price! Well, come to think of it, only the “snooty” car brands use those techniques, because how else can they get you to spend fifty grand on something that you could actually get for twenty? Ah, marketing! In another life, I might have been a marketer. Seriously. Which is why those ads piss me off, because I can see what they’re doing. I think that most people can’t, so there they are, selling cars. Do the people who buy those machines act like the ads are telling the truth? (They aren’t telling the truth; they can not be.) Judge for yourself. Me, I drive a hamster mobile.

All of which is by way of introducing marketing as a topic. Writing is more than just swilling coffee in the morning and bourbon at night and sweating blood at the keyboard. There are quotes all over from famous authors about how to write, many quite clever (these guys were artists with words, after all,) and all irrelevant to selling the damned thing once it’s done. Selling the book is what you do, whether it’s to a publisher or as an indie on Kindle. And, once you sell it to the publisher, they won’t do much about marketing it either. It’ll be in their catalogue, maybe get a notice in Publisher’s Weekly, but that’s about it. What, you think they’re gonna book you on Fallon? Hah!

So, you have to learn how to market your own work. You’ll notice that I’m advertising my indie kid book here. That’s fine, but I don’t expect to sell a lot of them that way. In fact, I have other projects going at the same time (I could write a couple of posts on just that strategy) and the book for sale here is a part of a larger strategic effort which will, I hope, ultimately result in Messy and its two unpublished sequels getting into school libraries everywhere.

England would be great. I like England. I could visit schools there. You listening, England?

So, as you write, or maybe when you’re stuck for the day (it happens,) think about how you are going to promote and market your product (the book, fool) after it’s all finished.

You’ll be glad you did!

Ideas for New Books

*** Before I begin, if you haven’t been following my friends on their sail around the world, you’re missing out on some great stories and photography. Check them out at, or follow the links that I repost here. ***

Over the weekend I started notes for a new Young Adult novel. I’m not going to mention what it is, because frankly I have no idea if it will ever get written. It’s a good idea, though. One thing writers get asked is, “Where do you come up with your ideas?” Well, in some cases there isn’t really any choice: the idea smacks the writer in the face like the alien in Alien, and there it is. But for most of us that doesn’t happen very often.

One  technique that works for commercial fiction (I can’t help you if your an an artiste who is out to expose the world for what it truly is) is to steal plot ideas. I don’t mean entire plots, but the underlying dilemma that sets the plot off to the races. Shakespeare did that all the time, so I don’t feel even a little bit guilty about doing the same thing. In fact, lots of people grab plot ideas from old Will, and often they work fine. The trick is to not try to duplicate the original author’s storyline, or voice. Rather you take the original premise and run with it.

For instance, how about “Seventeen-year old’s father is murdered by his uncle and the kid finds out.” What happens next? You’re the author, you tell us, but for sure don’t make him a Prince of Denmark in Elsinore Castle. The world has perfectly adequate experience with medieval Danish princes, thank you very much. But you see, there is a plot starting point right there.

Remember, that’s just what Shakespeare would do. Now, if you can write as well as he did . . .