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 , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

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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 , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Business Planning Really That Difficult?

Planning is a strength of mine. It’s a strength that I’ve worked hard to develop. Whether a client is good at planning or not, I can usually contribute knowledge, expertise, and skill to their business or marketing planning activities that they do not have. That’s fine.

But the more I develop my planning services, the more I’m finding clients who are generally capable of planning within their own areas of expertise, but become paralyzed when it comes to planning their business or marketing activities over a significant (a year or more) length of time. They may or may not know where they are and they may or may not know where they want to go, either way they have no idea how to get from here to there.

Is this common? Is this something you’ve experienced? What do you think would help?

I’m in the process of creating a business planning e-book (shorter than a full length book, regardless of how it’s transmitted) for both writers and solopreneurs. I have plans to create a similar e-book about marketing planning, again one for writers and one for solopreneurs.

The question I ask is this: Do I need to discuss or explore the act of planning itself?

In order to create an effective marketing campaign, whether it’s for your business or for an individual product, like a book, you need to plan it out ahead of time. Marketing is cumulative. If you don’t plan how different activities will accumulate, then you may end up taking people in different, scattered directions that never actually get anywhere. Planning—effective planning—is the solution to this problem.

But is planning something that’s actually being taught? I’ve tried, but I cannot for the life of me remember how I learned to plan. I learned the different components of a traditional business plan in business school, but I throw out or add to that set of components whenever it’s appropriate. The act of planning is something different. I imagine I picked it up by example and tried different techniques until I found ones that worked. I know I’ve made plans that have gone terribly awry, but I also know that few of my more recent (last several years) plans have failed, at least not in the long-term.

The key difference is basing plans on what’s within one’s control and having goals that can be reached in a variety of ways, depending on how things turn out. But again, it comes back to the act of planning.

What do you know? What do you need to learn? Where do you go wrong? Is there a way I can help?


Posted in Marketing, Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Maintaining an Idea’s Integrity

When do you listen? When do you decide? When do you give in to “buyer’s choice?” When do you “stick to your guns?”

The content platform allows clients to give a general idea of what they want so writers can pitch more developed ideas that satisfy their desires. I pitched an idea that centered around a narrative. The client responded, “Absolutely love it!” and then went on to request modifications that would weaken the narrative by shifting the focus. Against my better judgment, I gave the client exactly what they said they wanted. Their response was “This is terrible!” and they rejected the piece outright because they could not envision a way that it could be modified to meet whatever it was they actually wanted.

Now, I admit that it was not my best work. Instead of focusing on the narrative, I tried to provide the narrative as well as their “additive.” It didn’t work very well, but it’s what they wanted. The end-result is that they don’t get a piece and I only get paid half of what the article was worth. On the upside, I can reuse the idea in its original form with a different client—perhaps a competitor. They wouldn’t like that if they saw it, but they can’t do anything about it because they didn’t buy the article and so they do not own it.

The point is not to proudly vindicate myself. I really don’t care what this particular client thinks. I’m a little annoyed that the piece was rejected outright, but it saves me the trouble of editing it on their timetable. All things considered, my ego is just fine, thank you. I have plenty of clients who would be more than happy to give me an ego boost if I was into that sort of thing; though, if I was into that sort of thing it might be a different story. I developed a thick skin early on in my writing “career”—I started at the age of twelve, after all, and I received a LOT of rejections—that makes me rather immune to both criticism (unless it’s constructive) and praise (unless it’s instructive).

The point is that I ignored my instincts. It’s amazing how I tend to do this and almost always want to kick myself afterward, and yet I do it anyway the next time around. I have no problem listening to clients. I’ve gotten rather good (most of the time) at giving them what they want, even when what they want is so inanely stupid that I gripe my way through the entire project. Most of the time, the clients appreciate the output, even when I don’t. I’ve gotten good at swallowing the necessity of “buyer’s choice.”

The problem I’m having is that I’ve spent several years developing and establishing my expertise. I don’t know everything, of course, because nobody does; but, I do know a lot, particularly about marketing. What I enjoy most is finding those precious clients that are good at what they do and have enough intelligence and talent to recognize someone else who is good at what they do. These clients are precious, in part, because they’re willing to take good advice when it’s given, they can recognize a good idea, and they can entrust someone with talent to execute it. These clients are precious because they let me do the job they hire me to do, which is to provide them with exceptional marketing materials that are worth paying for.

I know I tend towards modesty to the point that I annoy certain people with my ambivalence to praise, but I do know a few things about myself. I know I’m a good writer. I know I’m an exceptional marketer. I know that I know how to use those skills to benefit a client’s business. And I know that the clients that let me do my job are better off than those that don’t. So, why, oh why, don’t I follow my instincts? Why don’t I stick to my guns and decide to give them what’s good for them and make it so good that they can’t help but recognize it? Or is it just that I need to stick with those precious clients that remind me why I really do love my job, which would, of course, involve finding more of them?


Posted in Craftmanship, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments