Category Archives: Marketing
I’m told I have a knack for writing taglines and blurbs, coming up with titles, sometimes even synopses. Today I’m working on blurbs for my brand, spankin’ new author co-op (as yet nameless, but I’ve submitted some ideas). That means, including my own, I’ve worked on 14 so far today! (Some of my colleagues have entire series.)
I also promised my friend Hyacinthe I’d look at her query letter and synopsis, as well as doing a trade off with pal Jennifer: she has marketing tech savvy and I’ll look at all of her books. She has… wow! A lot of books.
People keep praising my ability to do this. And I enjoy it. If I were to hang out my shingle, what would you be willing to pay for a tagline and a back cover/query blurb?
Here are some taglines I’ve come up with:
For my Reluctant Reaper series: Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.
For my friend Joan Leacott’s secret baby book: Instant family; just add daughter. (I wrote the blurb, too.)
For my latest release, Edwardian steamy-punk, Re-Inventing Love: The road to love is paved with good inventions.
There’s lots more. I’ll post them as I come across them.
Let me know what you think is a fair price. Thanks!
WARNING: This post contains opinion and controversial subject matter.
I wasn’t there, but apparently at the last RWA conference, Pocket’s spokesperson said (and I paraphrase) they funnel their black authors into a black line. (And Latinos to a similar line.)
From the RWA update: During the Spotlight on Pocket at the 2015 RWA Conference, an attendee asked Executive Editor Lauren McKenna, “Are you working at all on diversifying your author list?” When McKenna requested clarification, the attendee observed that it seemed most of Pocket’s authors were white. McKenna then responded:
“Right now, we [Pocket] don’t have an African-American line. Our sister imprint—because we are all Simon & Schuster—we are just two different imprints that we spoke about today within Simon & Schuster.
Read the rest Here: Update on RWA2015 Spotlight on Pocket Books.
Now, I always feel we should cut speakers some slack. After all, I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for every word I said when I was up in front of an huge audience, nervous as heck and answering questions I hadn’t prepared for.
But in this case, I think we should.
The RWA called their statement “objectionable,” “insulting and unacceptable.”
Eventually, Simon and Schuster threw their exec under a bus and wrote this in reply: Open Letter to the RWA from Pocket
It’s corporate speak for we’re great guys. I know, I worked in corporate communications most of my career. I’ve written stuff like this.
But here’s the thing. They never answered the question. She answered a different question, instead.
Before we get to that, we need to define our terms. As an author of books containing gay main characters, I’ve often been called “a gay author,” but I’m not actually gay.
Mysterical is a YA. I’m sure no teenager.
So where do you publish my books?
What if a black person writes a book with a white main character. Which line should publish that?
And if her next book features a black main character, does it get moved elsewhere? Does she take a new pen name?
Studies of sales show that books sell better when they’re separated out. That black fiction sells better when it’s located with black non-fiction than when it’s located with other fiction. Same with gay books. (I’ve read these studies but can’t link to them right now.) But, depending on your perspective, this can be considered “ghettoizing.” As an author, I want more sales. If I were gay or black, how would I feel then? Conflicted, probably. Let me know in the comments.
It’s easier with online book vendors—you can tag your books by several different categories: So using Lost Boys 2.0 as an example, it’s a gay, action-adventure, romance, African-American. It’s other things, too, like paranormal, urban fantasy. Has a couple of graphic sex scenes… etc. But sadly, I can only use 3 or 4 tags on each book. I’m sure that will change in time. (I’m looking at you, Amazon.)
But where would you shelve it in a book store? To traditional publishers, that’s still exceedingly important: Where would I shelve it that it will sell best?
So I think the question S&S’s exec actually answered wasn’t the one asked. Instead, it was this: Why are books featuring black characters published by a separate line?
The answer is: because it’s better for sales.
But the question she was actually asked was: [Why are] “most of Pocket’s authors were white?”
And that’s the important question. So Pocket… First, is it true and second, why is that?
Is it really because all your black authors are writing black main characters? Really?
And if that’s the case, is it affecting your acquisitions? Sorry, person of color, you’ve written a book with a white main character and we don’t know what to do with you, so no deal.
I dunno. I said at the outset this was an opinion piece, but really, the only opinion I have is we need more information before drawing conclusions.
In the interest of full disclosure, my Reaper books, featuring white main character, are published by Pocket Star, Pocket’s “digital-first” line. And I’m white.
So… your thoughts?
Here’s what I wrote: “Readers tend to expect male/male books to be erotic romance. SHIFT HAPPENS is a more of a paranormal action adventure. To address this, we used illustration rather than photos. The author name and rainbow bar are used across all my books to indicate GBLT themes and my branding.”
Here’s what Joel had to say:
“Fantastic illustration style for an ebook cover, I’d love to see more like this one.”
Awesome right? I know!
But then he added: “I can understand the rainbow is important to your branding, but it’s on the border of intrusive.”
And that surprised me. We’re not talking art here, we’re talking marketing. It’s a sales tool. It’s packaging. The convention for m/m romance is to show two men on the cover, often of the naked-torso variety. Not all, of course. Established authors can move into other designs, but I wanted it easily recognizable. Hence the rainbow.
And when all the books in the series are lined up, each one uses the same sparkly background picked out in a strong colour from the rainbow. I think they look awesome and that it works as a marketing tool. The bright colours and use of illustrations rather than photos makes them stand out among GBLT covers. What do you think?
When GYM DANDY first released, I made one of those book trailer thingies. I look at it now and thing, ya know, it was pretty good!
GYM DANDY, my first full length boy-meets-boy romance, re-releases this week.
Here’s the new cover:
I’m noticing a slight similarity. You?
This is because I purchased the rights to that art after commissioning it exclusively for the book. I had gone on to Deviant Art and run a “bake off” by posting that I’d pay $100 to anyone who came up with a great cover for my book. Now this was 2008 so I had no idea what to offer. Several artists tendered drawings, and I loved this one by Miss Martinez. Once we had the final artwork, she signed a release and I sent her a cheque for $150. I was that pleased.
Deana C. Jamroz dropped in the titles for the MLR version, which looked great!
Now, my new fave cover artist, Willsin Rowe, reworked the titles to include the nifty new identifying banner he’d designed and now we have… ta da! A same-only-different cover for the re-release.
The text has been edited a little… and proofed a lot.
I woke up at 4:00 A!M! again today. I was sure once I started self-publishing, I wouldn’t wake up stressed each day, but then I set myself these crazy deadlines. And the problem with being your own boss? You can’t quit!
The 4 re-leases are written and ready for formatting–that is, they’re formatted in Word, and ready to go to Jutoh. I’m struggling with the print versions, but don’t need those right away.
Then it’s uploading to Kobo, Amazon and iTunes. Then adding in the buy links from one to the other in each book. (That is, the Amazon version can only link back to Amazon. You can’t include buy links to other etailers. Which means 5 books x 3 etailers = 15 ebook versions + print. The I have to figure out how to get on Barnes & Noble since they only let American taxpayers upload directly and I’m Canadian.) You have to upload the books to get the buy links, then reformat the Jutoh/Word versions to include the buy links, then re-upload. No wonder people are willing to pay for author services!
Lost Boys 2.0 is half edited. I’ve told myself that if I finish the editing by Monday, I can go to Value Village’s 50% off sale. Now that’s writing incentive!
I’ve already done a couple of chapters this morning. Now back at it.
And just in case you want to invite me for a guest blog or review, here’s the info graphic again:
But I judged a book by its cover. Well, not a book, actually, but people. I judged people.
I go to writerly functions… A. Lot. I’m a member of several writer organizations and love to attend lectures on almost any subject. So I often see the same people at different functions.
And there’s a person there who doesn’t, shall we say, present well. He wears ill-fitting, out of style clothes, has greasy hair in need of a trim. But I spent time with him at the last couple of functions and he’s really nice, funny and has an impressive writerly resume. We even have the same taste in books and he laughs at my jokes. What more could I want?
Then there was this gal I met last night at a Kobo function. She was well-put-together, slim, fashionable, about my age. So I figure we’d have a lot in common. Er, um. It was one of those conversations where she kept saying, “I don’t understand what you mean,” when what she really meant was, “You don’t agree with me, therefore you’re wrong and I must keep repeating my argument without listening to anything you say until you agree with me.”
Luckily, thanks to 2 decades of marriage, I recognize this trap when I hear it. I just walked away from the conversation. If I offended her, then great. Hopefully, she’ll avoid me in future.
What has been bugging me all day is, why was so goddamn important to her that I agree with her? In fact, we really weren’t disagreeing at all if she’d only listened.
The only thing I could think of is that my friend introduced me as “our local marketing whiz.” She seemed to react to this so maybe it was terribly important to her to prove the “marketing whiz” wrong so she could feel validated.
Now I just have to use that in a book. 😉
So let that be a lesson to me. I made several new friends last night and I didn’t judge them by their anything except how much fun they were to be with.
And because all blog posts must have graphics, here’s a line from one of my Reaper novels. In fact, here’s an entire sex scene: