Category Archives: Promotion and the Writer

How To Storyboard a Book for Marketing Purposes

Duty Honor CountryAt Cool Gus Publishing we’ve begun to use Slideshare as a way to storyboard our books.

The first novel I did this on, is Duty, Honor, Country, A Novel of West Point & The Civil War.  The reason I picked this book is because it is historical fiction that lends itself to images.  As you can see when you go through the storyboard I use both prose, current day photos and photos and video  and drawings and photos from the time of the story.  The Civil War was the first extensively photographed war, so that helps. Also, I find the drawings done by U.S. Grant and W.T. Sherman to be fascinating.  We still took drawing when I was a cadet at West Point.

There are also maps of West Point as it was there and a photo of the classic Benny Havens tavern, which cadets still sing about and which is the locale for the first scene in the book.

I’ve inserted a video of Civil War generals from West Point.  One of the key facts that got me started on this book was something I had to memorize as a plebe at West Point.  In 60 major battles of the Civil War, West Pointers commanded both sides in 55 and one side in the other 5.  This help explains why the war lasted so long.

One reason I started using Slideshare was that at the Discoverability Conference in New York earlier this year, one of the presenters pointed that people search for images almost more than keywords.  When I tweet the link to the Slideshare, the image of the first slide appears.  I think that’s the reason it’s had quite a number of hits.

We also did Slideshares on our nonfiction books, such as Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author, and How We Made Our First Million on Kindle, because Slideshare lends itself very well to that type of book.

Colin Falconer, our Australian author, did Slideshares on a couple of his books:  Harem and Anastasia.

Nightstalkers by Bob Mayer

Nightstalkers by Bob Mayer

Next week, with the launch of my next titles, Area 51: Nightstalkers, I’ll present a series of Slideshares on the book.  We already have one up, and I plan on doing several more.

I’m getting really excited about the publication of Nightstalkers since it’s being put out by 47North which is Amazon’s science fiction imprint.  They’re doing a variety of things to publicize the book, but more importantly, I like the way I wrote it:  lots of action as always, but with snark and a worldly sixteen year old girl at the center of the story bringing out the humanity among the members of the elite Nightstalker team.  If I had to pitch it, I’d call it:  The Unit meets Warehouse 13.  It’s already climbing science fiction bestseller lists with pre-orders but I want it to hit the top 100 on Amazon Kindle.

SurvivalFinal_KindleBoardsI’ve also moved in the past couple of week and am finally getting caught up.  The Green Beret Survival Guide for the Apocalypse, Zombies & More is behind schedule but I’m catching up as my office is finally set up (after frying a motherboard on my laptop in the process, which Apple graciously replaced gratis even though it was three days out of warranty).  I call our new abode Write on the River as we overlook the Tennessee River just west of Knoxville.  We love it here and plan on writing many, many great books.  Cool Gus & Sassy Becca like it too.

More on Nightstalkers next week.

In the meantime, Jen Talty is doing a Goodreads Giveaway.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

In Two Weeks by Jen Talty

In Two Weeks

by Jen Talty

Giveaway ends December 10, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Romantic Times Wrap Up, Nook First and FREE eBooks

I’m back home and have spent the entire day just trying to clear out my email in-box and my physical in-box.  I also took Cool Gus & Sass Becca for a run.  It was about 85 out, but luckily we cross a creek during the run and they can splash about and drink some water.  They’re still getting used to the big move and the much different weather.  Becca chased a fox, which might not have turned out well, but it got away.

Free on Amazon 17-21 April

I’ve got a stack of business cards from RT that I have to go through and follow up on.  It was a very worthwhile trip.  I’m indebted to Romantic Times for my career achievement award even though I missed being there on time to get it—those who know me, know that when I teach, I tend to stay afterwards and answer all questions and time just away from me.  Mea Culpa.

I also talked for a long time with a friend from the King County library system and big plans are brewing in my brain.  I can see the smoke.

Free on Amazon 17-21 April

Free on Amazon 17-21 April

Beyond that, starting today, we have three free books for Kindle:  Aztec by Colin Falconer, Rekindled by Jen Talty and Atlantis Devil’s Sea by moi.

Terry Brooks had this to say about my Atlantis series:  “Spell-binding! Will keep you on the edge of your seat. Call it techno-thriller, call it science fiction, call it just terrific story-telling.”  That’s what you get when you teach with him seven straight years at Maui, but also it is a really cool series.

This book is one of my favorites because my hero, Ragnarok, a Viking in the year 1,000 AD, must protect a Seer from Valkyries, Kraken and other forces of legend and help her on a quest that connects through mysterious gates to my modern former Green Beret, Eric Dane’s battle in the present.  Ragnarok was one of those characters that just clicked.  He’s a guy’s guy.  Very concerned about the condition of his axe.  Seriously.

Also this week, one of my books is being featured on Nook First:  Psychic Warrior: Project Aura.  I based the book on an actual program (once classified) we ran in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  If you’ve seen the movie, Men Who Stare At Goats, well,– strangely, while it was a funny movie, there was a lot of really true material in there.  We did some strange things in Trojan Warrior and also, the First Earth Battalion was a concept I was briefed on at West Point.

There’s a lot more interesting stuff happening, including, a name change for Who Dares Wins Publishing.  I’ll blog about it later, once the LLC is formally established, but there’s a really big hint on this page for what the new name will be.

Write It Forward!

The Write It Forward Author Branding Plan: The Creed

The Write It Forward Author Branding Plan is based on the book Primalbranding by Patrick Hanlon. There are seven parts to the going primal:

  • The Creation Story
  • The Creed
  • The Icon
  • The Rituals
  • The Pagans
  • The Sacred Words
  • The Leader

The last time we discussed the Author Branding Plan we talked about your personal creation story. You can see that post here. The creation story the foundation that holds up the rest of your brand. Out of the creation story comes our Creed.

What is Creed? It is the singular notion you want you want people to believe. It’s a core set of principles that you project to your audience. When I work with authors we look for a Creed statement that fits all aspects. For example, when working with Bob we had to find one singular notion that would fit his publishing business, his consulting business and make sense to his readership when it comes to fiction.

Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way!

That notion pretty much sums up Bob in all aspects of his business and author life.

This is different from how we describe his writing as Factual Fiction, which falls more under the category of sacred words, which I will discuss in another post.

Creed looks a lot like a logline or tagline and in a way it is. Most authors make the mistake of leading with things like Nationally bestselling, award winning or something that is more descriptive of what they write, like sexy, edgy romantic suspense (that used to be mine). That’s fine but your creed should stand out from everyone else’s creed and should say something about who you are and what you write. It also doesn’t have to be obvious.

Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way! isn’t obvious for fiction, but it is obvious when it comes to Bob Mayer, the former Green Beret who writes military thrillers, technothrillers and historical fiction. It’s more about creating a connection between Bob Mayer and a singular notion. A feeling. Something that the reader, when coming across something that reminds them of that singular notion will make them think, Bob Mayer, I want to read a Bob Mayer book right now.

Okay, maybe not that drastic, but you get the picture.

You want to make sure the Creed isn’t misleading. When working on mine, a friend suggested the darker side of human nature except that’s a very limited portion of what I write. My stories are more about the romance even though I explore the darker side through my antagonists. Part of my sacred words is the statement romance with a hint of darkness. But it’s still not that singular notion I want my readers to take away from my work, or from who I am. My books are about hope and change. The singular notion I want to project is that without hope we don’t stand a chance, except that isn’t quite right either. It takes time and a little bit of work to hit the sweet spot with this.

Sometimes we are too close to ourselves and our own work to come up with our own Creed. I have worked with a few authors who had their Creed, they just didn’t know. It also took Bob and I a long while to land on the right Creed for our business and for his consulting business.

Why is this important? Go back and look at the last post Bob did here where he discussed setting goals and what is your strategic goal as a writer. Your branding plan is part of your supporting goals to help you achieve whatever it is you want with your writing.

Most of us want to be read. Some of us want to be on the bestseller lists. Others want to be able to support our families. Whatever that goal is, taking the time to consider your entire package through branding will help you achieve that goal. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Since opening our doors 3 years ago, we have undergone many changes and we are currently revamping our plan as we move forward into the next step for Who…D… no wait…that’s one of the big changes…Cool Gus Publishing.

Next week…The Icon…here is a hint…

The Write It Forward Author Marketing Plan

I don’t really like calling it a marketing plan. It’s more of an organic strategy for connecting to readers. However, if we don’t map out where we’re going, we’re going to get lost. And, during the journey, it’s always good to evaluate where you have been and adjust course accordingly.



Notice the order. Content is the number one key to success. I’m not talking content on your blog, or Tweets or your beautiful Pinterest boards. I’m talking your book. Actually, your books because the only way to achieve sustainability is through having more content.

When asked what advice we would give new authors who have decided to go the indie route we’ve always lead it with the idea the author should have 3 books up for sale before really spending a lot of time and money on marketing. Writing good books that your readers will want more of is the main priority of a writer. That doesn’t mean don’t put them in digital bookstores. It means wait until the 3 are in digital bookstores before going all out on promotion.

Then, have a plan.

Our marketing plan is in 4 phases:

  1. The Foundation
  2. Maintaining Foundation
  3. Book Launch (or Series Launch)
  4. Analyze Efforts

The foundation is the key to establishing your brand and connection to your readers. We discussed some aspects of this in the Blog post on Primal branding. In essence, this is the promise you make to your readers and the invitation to join you and other readers in the community. Your foundation is who you are and why readers will relate to you and your kind of stories. Bob’s foundation was easy because he’s a former Green Beret (and he writes military thrillers) and he’s been abducted by aliens 14 times (and knows what that mothership looks like). Mine, once I looked into why I write what I write, was just as easy. I live in a city that has the highest crime rate per capita and was the home of The Alphabet Killer, which sparked my obsession with the darker side of human nature (the suspense part of my romances).

Maintaining the Foundation is your social media, Facebook, Goodreads or other Ad campaigns, Yahoo groups, newsletters and swag come into play. If you don’t have a solid foundation with good content you will find yourself spinning your wheels in this part of your plan. Here is where its important to take a good look at what you do well. For example, Bob does Twitter and Kindleboards well. He’s very comfortable in those two venues. But those two venues alone aren’t very effective. So, we come up with other things that support what works for us. Bob has committed to blogging more and on other blogs and he joined Pinterest, where he’s loading things that help his readers relate to him.  Still trying to get him to post the pictures of the mothership, but he keeps mumbling something about top secret and whatnot. This part of your plan is simply staying connected and helping feed your discoverability.

Click on Cover to read an excerpt

The Book Launch are those “extra” things you do right before a launch, and then around 8 weeks past the launch. Things like a blog tour, interviews, swag and others to help push new book into the world. We are currently setting up one for I, Judas The 5th Gospel. I’m looking for good science fiction blogs that would like to interview Bob or let him do a guest post (anyone with a science fiction blog please feel free to contact me at to have Bob on your blog during late April, May and June).  But here is the interesting thing about the Write It Forward Marketing Plan: the book launch isn’t the be all end all and if you don’t have the numbers during launch you can find ways to increase discoverability through being consistent in your maintaining phase. With traditional publishing so much stock was put into the book launch phase and if you didn’t get the numbers, you most likely wouldn’t get picked up again. The book launch phase are things to help get one particular book a good start. Everything else you do in your overall plan that leans towards sustainability (not discoverability) will help keep your books selling.  For digital books, the long tail is even more important.

Just for fun here is a video I did for the making of a cover: The Maiden Warrior by Mary Reed McCall. I did for instructional purposes, but its out there helping to create the long tail.

Analyze Efforts is key because with each launch you can go back and see what worked and what didn’t and make the necessary adjustments to achieve sustainability. For The Shelfless Book we did some advertising on Goodreads. I learned a lot during this ad campaign and am now redoing the ad because it wasn’t very effective based on the target audience I had set up. This week we’ve been running a FREE campaign on Kindle and we’ve learned a couple of things from doing a few different campaigns. We first started running doing one book a week. Then we tried doing five books in one week and we found that to be much more effective as Bermuda Triangle has risen to #1 in Science Fiction FREE list on Amazon and the other books are doing very well in their respective categories. By running a few books once a month for FREE we have not only increased sales, but we’ve freed up our personal time to work on the most important ingredient: Content. One thing I’ve figured out with all this analyzing of data is that timing plays a key role in some things. We got a big boast in sales on Shelfless due in part to an interview Bob did with the people at KDP for their newsletter that was also featuring Atlantis (we have one book in the series FREE this week). So, as we work on this book launch for I, Judas, we also plan out some other promotional efforts (more free books and a Goodreads Q&A) for other books that help support each release.

Then you get to go back and look at the foundation and fix any cracks that may have developed. The key to this is the ability to look 2 years ahead and every 6 months adjust to the detours the business has created.

What marketing plan do you have in place?

Write It Forward


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