You’ll Be Happy to Know

I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I just got extremely busy between getting ready to start my school, getting the boys ready to start their school, and working for clients. With any luck, my regularly scheduled programming will return next week, but if that doesn’t happen please know it’s because next week is the first week of school.

Good luck to everyone on all their own endeavors!


Posted in Writing Lifestyle | 2 Comments

Using What You Have

We all have limited resources. When we stare down at what little we have and look up at how much we want to (or think we have to) build, it can all be very daunting and very overwhelming. It might just be easier to throw that manuscript in a box and move on to something more practical, like building sand castles. Then again, you might be one who just can’t throw your dreams in a box.

If you’re like me, then your dreams are with you morning, noon, and night. Sometimes they might be satisfied to hum in the background of your mind, like a tune you can’t quite get out of your head. If you ignore them, however, then they’ll start to scream bloody murder, “You’re killing me, you’re killing me!”

No, I’m not psychotic, but thank you for asking. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. Tsk, tsk. But really, the point is that, whether we like it or not, there are those of us who are called to write. Having accepted this calling in some fashion, it will not leave us alone, even when we have no idea how to fulfill the calling we’ve been given with what we’ve been given to fulfill it with.  We write and craft and polish and we end up with this manuscript.

Now, what?

Ideally, of course, you should be marketing your little heart out all the while. Then, by the time your manuscript is ready to be published, you’ll have an audience awaiting its release with bated breath. Ideally, it wouldn’t matter whether it’s published in traditional fashion or via independent distribution, because it will sell either way.

But, what if you didn’t know that? What if you didn’t do that? What if you’re not ready, from a marketing standpoint, even if your manuscript is? What do you do?

The answer is two-fold:

  1. If you want to write and sell your manuscripts via traditional publishers, then you need to turn your attention to marketing and build your reading empire, because, if you don’t, you could spoil your career by releasing a “flop,” which is defined as a book that doesn’t sell well enough to make you worth a publisher’s while.
  2. If you don’t care what traditional publishers think of you, then you can release your book independently and then turn your attention to marketing, building your reading audience slowly while selling a few more copies of your book every month or every week or every day.

Either way, you should also start your next book. Once that first one starts selling, your readers will expect the second one (and the third, the fourth, the fifth, etc.) snippety snap. They want all you could ever produce and more right now!!! So, there’s no time to waste. Take a look around. Don’t get caught up in how little you have. Instead, see what you can use and start building.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Effective Advertisement

It’s occurred to me that making a movie (assuming its successful) of your book is a very effective form of advertisement. The irony, of course, is that your book must almost certainly be a success before anyone would buy the movie rights to it. But, still, I’ve actually bought more books from watching movies than I’ve watched movies for the sake of the book.

I’ve purchased and/or read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Jane Eyre only after having watched a relatively recent movie with the same title. We’re not talking about re-envisioning, as is apparently the case of Clueless, but movies that are somehow directly derived from the movie. Consider A Walk to Remember: in this case (with a little re-envisioning), I loved the movie, then read the book, and I still prefer the movie, because it feels more relevant to the here and now. In the case of more buzz-worthy titles, I have purchased and read all the Twilight books because I watched the movie. Now that I’ve watched the movie version of Divergent, the four books are in my Amazon queue. I watched the movie and I was sold on the books.

There is an advantage to this pattern. If you’ve ever read and loved a book, and then watched the movie, you’ve likely been disappointed by the movie. I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies and rarely, rarely, rarely am I ever satisfied by the movie. Yes, I used three rarelys precisely because satisfaction is so very rare. In fact, I can only come up with three examples and they’re each part of The Lord of the Rings. Now, those movies did justice to the books! Of course, they had to make them twice as long as a normal movie to do so, which is kind of the point. Rarely can a story that takes up the space of a novel be told in the space of a movie. They almost always have to cut something out and it’s usually something I wanted to see. When you fall in love with a movie before you fall in love with the book, then you can enjoy the enhanced richness of the book without losing your love for the movie.

What do you expect from a movie? What do you expect from a book? Are they different?

Posted in TV & Film | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trailer Time: Time for Some Redemption

As both a Christian and a lover of fantasy, I can’t resist a good redemption story:

Before we start analyzing this trailer, let’s recap. In every trailer, I’m looking for:

  • An introduction to the plot,
  • An introduction to the main character,
  • Maybe a hint of some of the other characters,
  • A reason to care, and
  • Absolutely no plagiarism or copyright violations.

A trailer gets bonus points only if it satisfies the requirements above, including the following:

  • Creativity as expressed in the trailer itself,
  • Appealing visuals,
  • Appealing sounds,
  • A captivating theme, or
  • Anything else that makes me want to dole out bonus points.

Clearly, this trailer satisfies the basic requirements specified above. It introduces the main character and hints at the other characters. It reports on the mission they are given and by whom it is given. We’re not entirely sure what the stakes are, but the hope of redemption is reason enough to care for those of us who like that sort of thing. Finally, everything seems original and nothing was blatantly stolen.

The only thing missing is the link or access point for more information. This clearly didn’t make my list, but it should have. If viewers don’t know where to go, then how are they supposed to act on the message you’ve just given them? It’s easy to forget, but it’s important enough to remember. When marketing, you should always tell viewers or readers what you’d like them to do next, whether it’s visiting a webpage or buying a book.

Finally, the bonus points: 1) The music was more appealing than the visuals, especially the anxious-making sound at the end. 2) I found the theme captivating. 3) And, even better, it does not look like a romance novel trying to pass itself off as a fantasy, like a certain vampire vs. werewolf book we all know and many of us love.

The reason why this trailer gets a mention as a good example is something even more basic than all of this. Simply put, it’s within the reach of the indie writer. If you budget for a good trailer (and most of you should), then this trailer and its effects are within your reach. We’re not talking about a blockbuster budget here. We’re talking about a few pieces of art and a voice over and someone who can put it all together so it plays nice and smooth. You may have some of these skills yourself, but whether you do or not, this kind of trailer is within the reach of a reasonable budget for the publication and launch of a novel.

Posted in Marketing, Trailer Time | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Get Them Asking

If people ask, that’s a sign of interest. Your job, then, is to get them to ask questions!

Why Purple Pen?

Usually, by the time someone asks me that questions, my services are all-but sold. The only time I’ve lost clients after that point is when I’ve told them my prices. This is not to say that my prices are unreasonable or that my services aren’t worth it. Some clients just don’t have the money. Some clients are actually honest about that and don’t buy services they can’t pay for.

If you want to start a dialogue, then give your target a reason to ask questions. This works in blogs, on social media sites, and in person. As you are discussing what you can do for them, throw them a curve that isn’t quite explained. If they ask, you know they’re hooked. All you have to do is reel them in and decide if they’re a big enough fish.

Of course, this works with readers, too. It’s called a teaser. You tease them with information that is just not quite enough. Then, if you do it right, you give them a way to get a little more, and then a little more, and then…oops, you’ll have to buy the book to find out the answer to that one! {Trailer, website, blog, book—lead them and they shall follow.}

It doesn’t have to as obvious as a name, though that one has worked particularly well for me. Little things like using jargon (sparingly), referencing experts they’ve never heard of, showing you know more than they do in ways that make them want to know more too, and citing successful examples can get them asking questions. You want them asking questions, because you want them to learn to trust you to know the answers.

But be honest about it. If you don’t know, say so; then, tell them that you can find out the answer for them. Then, do it. That’s another way to land the hook.

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Why Purple Pen?

People ask this question a lot. For those of you who don’t know, I run Purple Pen Writing Services. I provide marketing, content marketing, copywriting, and a host of other services to clients. But why did I name my business Purple Pen Writing Services?

When I first went back to college, it was an impulsive decision. A friend mentioned taking college classes online, so I did a search of the degree programs his college had to offer. I picked Business Administration and signed up. It took less than 24 hours and I was on my way to being admitted.

It took less than a week for the onslaught of discouragement to begin. I was told, by quite a few people, that I was making a mistake, I’d never finish, Business!?! My God, what were you thinking?!?

Before this impulsive decision, my husband and I had each made a few runs at home businesses. Most were utter failures. A few made a little profit before they were pulled out from under us in one way or another. I chose business because 1) they didn’t have a writing program and it didn’t occur to me to check a different online college and 2) I wanted to know what the secret to a profitable business was and to prove that “business ethics” didn’t have to be an oxymoron.

My critics did have good points. I was taking online classes because I had three children with special needs and was already so far in over my head I couldn’t see daylight. But, metaphorically speaking, I do my best swimming when I can’t tell up from down.

I bolstered myself against their criticism in a very simple way: I committed myself to success. I would not fail, I would study my butt off, and I would arm myself against the words of my critics. In other words, I used colored highlighters and colored pens when I studied my textbooks and took my notes. I saved purple for my favorite subjects.

After I kicked the proverbial ass off all that criticism (not the critics themselves, just the criticism) by graduating with a 3.99 on time, I started my new business less than a month later. I gave homage to the many purple pens I’d bled dry getting there by naming my business Purple Pen Writing Services. To this day, I honor that victory by using purple legal pads and by continuing to use purple pens. I also continue to reach for goals that others say are beyond my reach.

Posted in Business, Writing Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trailer Time: Parody with Style

I found a trailer with a unique style:

First, I’ve got to admit, I don’t like parodies. I just…don’t. But I liked this trailer! (If only from a marketing point of view.)

It starts with a blank, black screen. The voice-over is the only stimulus. Yet, in two seconds, this trailer establishes that it is a science fiction story. Within another two seconds, the melodrama (spacedrama?) begins.

Interspersed with the visual images, you’ll see quotes. Pay attention.

As the monologue goes on, two things happen:

  1. You get to know the main character and his situation.
  2. You hope to God that the trailer-maker is doing this on purpose.

(If you noticed the third quote, 26 seconds in, then you know that it is very much on purpose.)

As soon as he said “drinking,” using it as a metaphor, I couldn’t help but think about the line from another (similar?) book in which a character asserts: “Ask a glass of water.”

The first time around, it wasn’t until 59 seconds in that I knew for sure that the overly dramatic tone was struck on purpose:

It’s the most recent book I’ve ever written.
– Ron Jockman

This trailer:

  • Establishes character, plot, and some of the setting,
  • Establishes the theme of the story, and
  • Gives you a taste of the style.

You also get the idea that it can be purchased as of July 1, 2014. But it doesn’t make that part particularly easy nor does it direct you to another location. This is the one major flaw with this trailer. You’re not given a clear indication on how you can act on the information the trailer provides.

Posted in Marketing, Trailer Time | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments