Winning / Selling Slogans

Slogan = Motto = Catchphrase = Tagline

Tinkering with the old Triple Threat Investigation Agency logo got me checking out logo-oriented sites.  I found one where you enter words and pick symbols, and—voilà—it speedily designs a few . . . at a cost, of course.

I haven’t attained the right mix/look yet, so no purchase has been made.  Not sure if that will happen, either.  For now, I’m going to continue playing around to see if I can create my own eye-catching and memorable logo.

While on said site, it requested I enter a slogan.  . . . A slogan?  A phrase that expresses the objective(s) or essence of a business.  A marketing—selling—component.  <bleep>  Why didn’t I think of that?!  <LOL>

Regardless of the business, a straightforward (clear) slogan has to capture the mission, commitment/guarantee, and brand.  It should be appealing and unforgettable, and short and sweet (five words tops, it’s been said).  Easy-peasy?  Hell no.

More searching ensued and I came across a blurb about “slogan generators”.  There are a few free ones.  Tried a couple.  Oof.  Maybe one has to go with a paid service, because the free ones weren’t offering anything remotely good (to be fair and kind, I won’t provide names).

Dick, shamus, gumshoe were synonyms for private investigator back when.  I have to admit, I kind of like them (but then I love those old B&W movies with the cheesy dialog).  Do they resonate with today’s readers?  Probably not, but—to use JJ’s favorite phrase—never say never.

Here are some.  Please, do feel free to provide input; I’d very much welcome it.

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Not bad, not great, but a decent start.  . . . Better pull on the ol’ creativity cap and think some more.

Oh, Say Can’t You . . . Hear . . .

. . . the ca-ching, ca-ching of audiobook$?

Maybe it’s something you’re considering?  I certainly have.  (Mind you, I can’t even get a couple of e-books converted into hard cover—been waiting for a year for it to be done, so never mind the challenge of audio, LOL.)

An audiobooks ad that ran regularly on TV—before “holiday cheer” commercials took over—had caught my attention and got me to thinking that audio could prove quite viable (never mind that I’d love to hear the private-eye gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency come to life).  But do I remember the name of that company?  Of course not.  As P.I. Linda would say: dang.

Back when, I listened to Sherlock Holmes stories on cassettes (remember those?) and had found it entertaining; it made driving, cleaning, ironing and cooking rather enjoyable.  In today’s fast-paced world, when sitting and reading isn’t always possible, listening while “doing” certainly is.

As an FYI, a complete reading of a book is referred to as “unabridged” while a condensed version—“abridgement” of the text—is called “abridged”.  (Always wondered about that.  Now, I know.)

Curiosity prompted me to do some quick research.  Here’s an impressive fact:  audiobooks sales are up 20% year after year.  Here’s a (sad) not-so-impressive fact: e-book sales are down approx 5%.  . . . Maybe another reason to go audio?

The reason for the hike in audiobook sales?  It’s the way we’ve started approaching the action of reading—or rather the mode of listening, which is often now via an iPod, MP3 player, cell phone or smartphone, or Kindle device, and the list goes/grows on.  The awesome thing is we can listen anywhere: at home, on public transit, at the gym, in the mall, walking the dog.

My e-books are on Smashwords and new news to me (I really need to find time to read more)—the company has partnered with Findaway Voices.  Smashwords authors like yours truly can use Findaway to produce and distribute audiobooks.  How cool/easy does that sound?

Another cool thing?  You can narrate your own books, if you like.  You’ll just need to ensure you have the right equipment (such as recording and editing), a quiet venue, and time (evidently it can take 30-40+ hours to complete an audiobook).  Doing it yourself would probably best suit non-fiction.  In terms of fiction, unless you possess some acting/voice skills, a professional narrator might be better because you’d almost certainly want distinct differences in your characters’ voices.

Another tantalizing tidbit: more and more retailers (like Google Play and Apple iTunes, to name just a couple) are getting into audiobooks.  . . . And audiobooks for kids?  Yup.  Happening.  Big time.

At present, the genres that appear to be most popular: classic literature, sci-fi, fantasy, history, science, and self-help.  (Maybe, hopefully, mysteries will move up the popularity ladder.)

Do that due diligence if you plan to go the audio route, such as weighing costs, because they can add up, and confirming company legitimacy and credibility (remember “buyer beware”).  This holds true for the distribution component, too.  Know what you’re getting [into].  Determine whether you want to go exclusive with one distributor or sign up with many.

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Trailer . . .rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs

Not the transport sort, but the ad kind.  Is it important to have a trailer when doing a book blog tour or launching a book?  Is it a viable marketing/promo tool?

Frankly, I’ve only viewed a handful.  A couple were cheesy (usually, I like cheesy), the odd one kind of cool, and some simply “uninspiring”.  They didn’t influence me enough that I’d have bought or read the book.

It’s said that, generally, trailers don’t promote sales, but they can certainly put your product out there . . . create an awareness factor as it were.  This appears to hold true whether your budget is minimal or you invest serious $$$ into one featuring actors, high-end graphics, and the like.

It’s also said that videos are more memorable than text.  People will recall images more readily than words.  Food for thought.

If your budget is minimal or nonexistent like mine (LOL), you can make your own, but they can prove tricky, so technical and program savvy would be in your definite favor (alas, not in mine).  Of course, as suggested above, you can invest some bucks and pay someone—but, if you’re going to take this route, as I always state, please do your due diligence.  Learn who excels at them and who doesn’t (check out buyer-beware sites before committing to a particular one).  If you’re going to spend money (and as an FYI trailers can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, depending on whose services you go with), get the best bang for your buck.

Another alternative is to simply tape yourself and talk about your book.  We’ve seen vids of this nature and some can certainly be entertaining if not informative.  It depends on the presentation—how you portray yourself and your product.  A low-budget look may have merit, depending on the arrangement.

An alternative is a webinar—a slide show or video with audio, which is somewhat reminiscent of a workplace endeavor.  But again, if done properly, a webinar could prove a feasible endeavor.  For ideas, check out what others have done.

One thing we should NOT do when going solo: cut and paste our book cover and photo, and away we go.  When creating our own book trailers, we should apply the same rules applicable to good writing.

Be:

  • crisp and clear (with words and sound/music)
  • short and sweet (don’t yammer on incessantly).

Ensure images are first-rate and that the final product communicates what your book is all about, without giving away too much.  Remember: you want to inspire people to WANT to learn more.

One last note: be aware of copyright laws re music and graphics.

Happy trails . . . er . . . trailers. WPtrailerboxB

Book Tour Blog Travels

So you’re thinking of promoting your book by doing a book blog tour?  Awesome!  Given I’m doing one in the next while for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie?, I thought we could touch upon—review—relevant blog-tour “pointers”.

You’ve completed your first e-book.  You’ve got it properly formatted and the front and back covers look amazing!  How exciting.  Now, you’d like people to read it . . . create excitement . . . get reviewed . . . make sales.  A book blog tour is a great way to make these goals happen.

Now, if your goal is all about making sales, you’ll want to create a buzz before the book is released.  If you want pre-orders, get started a good two-three weeks before the book is released.  If you want books to be purchased upon release, then start your blog tour the day the book is out.

A tour (which can last from one week to several weeks) takes work.  It’s not simply a matter of sending out multiple copies of your e-book.  You have to plan, network, and organize.

Sure, you can pay someone to do it for you (personally, I’m not Rockefeller-rich—not yet, LOL—so I’d prefer to keep my pennies in Mr. Piggy).  If you’re going to pay someone, make sure he/she is reputable: do that due diligence and thoroughly research blog-tour sites.  Get feedback and also check out “buyer beware” sites.  Remember: you get what you paid for.

That said, there are book-tour bloggers who’ll do this for free—t’is true!  You just need to—yup—do that due diligence.  And network.  Learn who’s looking.  Get to know fellow writers/bloggers.  Read blogs regularly.  Comment and participate.  You’ll be amazed how supportive fellow bloggers/authors can be.  Within no time, you’ll have connections who will help you organize a tour . . . but you’ll still have to put in serious effort.

Whether you go solo or have someone assist, be prepared to have the following items ready:

  • review copies of the finished product
  • front cover
  • bio
  • author photo
  • excerpt(s)
  • posts (for guest spots and your own blog to promote the tour)
  • interviews (you’d want at least two, and they should be different)
  • tour banner
  • book trivia (not necessary, but nice)
  • trailer (not necessary, but nice)
  • prize/giveaway (not necessary, but it’s been known to increase traffic)
  • gratitude—be continually thankful.

Don’t forget to promote the tour on social media.  Make sure to follow-up.

There’s a lot to discover on the Internet about book tours, but don’t get overly caught up in all the details.  Become familiar with “ground rules” and plunge in (doing is the best way of learning).

. . . How do you measure your success?  Track comments and blog/media coverage if you like (not my thing, personally, but to each his or her own).  It all depends on what your initial goals were.  Maybe you’d be delighted with one awesome review or stellar guest post versus several here’s-a-new-book posts.  Maybe you’d be glad with a handful of positive comments.  Success—accomplishment—is all about what pleases you.

Happy touring!

Profane Profanity

The plan was to post the prologue to the fifth e-book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series has been slightly postponed.

As I was giving it one last quick look-see, I saw the F-word and it got me to thinking about profanity . . . and the curses, obscenities, vulgarity I  lump under that one heading.

A new character with an I’m-always-right attitude (you know the sort) tells it like it is.  Period.  He’s abrasive—like steel wool.  I tend to limit swearing and the like, partly because I don’t want to affront readers and partly because peppery language simply isn’t always necessary (funny, given the F-word flies out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit, try as I might to control it).  When do I use it?  When I believe scenes and scenarios and situations warrant usage.  As an FYI, I have no issue with profanity and obscenities in other authors’ works, as long as they’re not bleeding across every page like

Certain characters in certain genres—such as crime stories or thrillers, as examples—would (should) be more “hard-edged”.  Would they come across as such if they said “gosh darn it” instead of spitting an expletive when confronted with a crazed killer or caught in a dire situation?  Think: mechanism versus mechanical, realism versus awkwardness.  Balance is a very good thing, so give it some serious thought.  Do you write for your readers?  Or do you write what you feel comfortable writing? WP3monkeys1

Consider this: it’s human to become angry, sad, outraged, happy, discouraged, passionate, responsive.  We demonstrate emotions and feelings through actions and words.  Sometimes, we lash out . . . and loudly.  So do fictional characters.

Time and continual story-crafting will dictate what makes you comfortable and what your readers want (and don’t want).  But don’t be afraid to challenge yourself or your readers; just be certain that whatever expressions you add to text and dialog are there for a valid reason: to emphasize a moment, an emotion, or a reaction, not to toss in vulgarity for the sake of adding it (“shock value” might have worked once upon a time ago, but nowadays it leans toward trite).

Script$ and Sale$

Thought I’d continue re the last story-to-script post and touch a wee bit on the $ component.

Can money be made selling scripts?  Of course.  Is it easy?  Depends on who you read and/or listen to.  If you can make the film yourself, awesome and all the better—but it takes bucks (as in budget) and background (as in know-how)—so if neither is an option, then start pitching.  Before that happens, however, a few “musts” enter the equation. WPUse6

The [well-written] script must be fantastic.  The concept and storyline have to stand out and the characters should prove dynamic.  As such, revise that script until it’s seamless.

Get feedback—genuine feedback.  And yes, it can come from friends and followers.  Family?  Maybe.  Accept input with a grain of salt.  It’s very nice to have Cousin Martha-May effusively state what a gifted writer you are and doesn’t the script just read peachy-keen, but it’s not going to help much in the hoping-and-planning-to-sell department.  You need critical advice.  How does the script [truly] read?  Is it logical?  Are there typos and glaring errors or inconsistencies?  Ensure that script is the best it can be.

There must be an accompanying persuasive pitch.  Keep it short and sweet, and strong.  Impress the reader (filmmaker, producer, agent, whomever) so that he/she wants to see the script.  Keep calling, emailing, contacting—and make sure you know who you’re pitching (selling) to.  Be positive and forthright, and grab attention.

Part of that persuasive pitch is having an awesome log-line (a one or two sentence summation of your script).  It must convey the premise and provide a snapshot of the overall storyline.

You must network, network, and network.  Put yourself and your work out there.  Get to know as many [influential/connected] people as possible.  Apply yourself.  Recognize that it may take time and be patient (and persevering).  Use social media to your advantage.  Join relevant communities.  Acquire contacts.  Join script-writing groups.  Dare I say it again?  You must network, network, and network.  FBSatUse2

Researching sites to locate lists of [credible] film people is a must, too, because unless Great-Uncle Waldo works for a major film studio, you’ll need leads.  Sure, they’re already receiving queries by the <bleep>-load.  Don’t let that deter you.  You never know: your script might just be THE one.

Posting about your work and projects is also a must.  If you’re a blogger, inform your followers/visitors; if you’re not a blogger, become one.  Use every possible promotional tool.

Podcasts, conferences, and classes with film and media folks are worth checking out.  They can lead to connections—can, not will—but you’ll acquire tips, learn new/interesting facts, and make acquaintances.  Don’t discount these avenues.

If the idea of scriptwriting tickles your fancy, go for it.  Simply view the making-sale$ part as another challenge—which we know we can triumph over with determination and commitment, and amazing self-promo skills (which are honed with practice and persistence).

 

Adapting/Adopting – What’s in a Word?

Ever consider adapting . . . adopting . . . a story or book and converting it into a script/screenplay?  (And just what is the difference between the two?  Nada in terms of films, but TV scripts are always called just that: scripts.)

I’ve written a few scripts over the years.  It’s a challenge having to take a story and condense it into a few pages, but it’s also a lot of fun.  It’s like breathing life into your story and characters; they become more visual . . . realistic . . . vibrant.  And that’s very cool.

Recently, an acquaintance requested I adapt/adopt a story and while I haven’t committed—yet—I’m giving it [serious] thought.  This would entail taking a two-sentence premise and writing a script from scratch.  (A two-hour feature film, as an FYI, equals a 120-page script.)

Which one’s harder: beginning with a thought or molding a predetermined, written, story?  I believe both provide the same challenges . . . in different respects.  If you take a thought, you literally lay the foundation and construct from the beginning, the base, and add everything and anything that comes to creative mind.  If you take a completed story or book, you keep some (or a lot) of the foundation, but assemble—and refurbish—as you deem fit.

If you’re starting with nothing more than a premise, you’ll have to determine the genre.  If you’re hoping to sell the script (maybe we’ll touch upon sales in Post #2), aim for a popular genre.  The ones that “sell” best, in no given order: crime, detective, action, comedy, horror, fantasy, love/romance, sci-fi, and thriller.  (There’s no reason you can’t meld two or three, but if you’re going to do this, make sure one stands out above the others, and that they gel well.) WPuse1

Once you’ve determined the genre or you’ve got a story/book ready to adapt, give thought to what the script will entail.  Questions to consider:

♦  What’s the plot?  What notable / life-changing events take place?

♦  Who’s the protagonist?  What’s he/she all about?  What’s his/her goal or calling and why?

♦  Who’s the villain (and it could be a “what” as opposed to a “who”)?  What’s the conflict?

♦  Who are the other characters?  What makes them tick?

♦  Which series of [significant] incidents occur?  What are the twists and turns?

♦  What ultimately and really matters (i.e. what’s going to resonate with the audience, draw in viewers)?

Points/factors to ponder for yours truly . . . should I accept this new mission.  Keep you posted.

The Aww-Do-I-Have-to!? Synopsis (Writing a Book Rundown)

Just the thought of writing a book synopsis—rundown, summary, précis, abstract—can seem daunting.  Consider it a challenge.  Sure, it will take time and commitment, like most things in life.  But it gets the gray matter churning and toiling, and that’s a good thing.

Is a synopsis necessary?  Yes, if the plan is to:

  • submit the book to an agent or traditional publisher
  • do a promo tour (some bloggers and reviewers will request one)
  • do interviews (a synopsis provides a sound overview of how to [succinctly] describe/deliver the book).

It’s said there should be two versions: a long one comprising three to four pages and a short one that’s one to two pages.  If you’re submitting to an agent or publisher, check and adhere to submission guidelines.

Before sitting down to write one, ensure the book is publication-ready (or close to).  Review the book and determine key components—such as opening chapters (that establish conflict, motivation, and quest/mission), main characters, pivotal actions, and that wondrous ending. WPstudious1

The first paragraph—like the opening of the book—should be a “grabber”.  Yes, it’s a summation that conveys basic information about the main characters and how the story unfolds, but has to be interesting if not intriguing.  Think of that “wow” factor: what makes this story worth reading?

Make sure the synopsis is short and sweet, crisp and clear (avoid excessive or redundant wording).  As an example, here’s the opening to the synopsis for The Connecticut Corpse Caper:

“The Connecticut Corpse Caper” chronicles the antics of seven inheritance recipients, as witnessed by weather announcer Jill Jocasta Fonne.  The madcap mystery (approximately 89,000 words in length) begins when she arrives one November afternoon at an eerie (reputedly haunted) Connecticut mansion, primed for a week-long stay.  Two-hundred thousand dollars will be awarded to each person.  Should someone leave, for whatever reason, his or her share will be divided among those remaining.

Ensure the synopsis:

  • begins strongly—state what the novel entails ASAP (describe the conflict and protagonist)
  • makes sense—note relevant events in logical progression
  • encapsulates characters (be concise, not excessive, and don’t describe every last one)
  • captures important twists and turns
  • ties up loose ends.

It seems a lot to jam and cram into one to four pages.  But it’s entirely doable.  If you’re new to writing them, go on-line for examples and get a feel for the flow.  It will come.  As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

. . . On that note, I’d better get practicing as I have to perfect one for “Forever Poi”.

Making for another Ideal Interview: Yours

While on the subject of interviews, I thought a quick post on writing our own personal ones might prove of benefit.  As mentioned, I’m working on my Smashwords interview, but I’m hoping to do a blog tour once “Forever Poi” is completed, so I’ll need at least one [different one] for that.

It’s rather fun putting one together, though it can be a bit challenging, because you have to think of some good, attention-grabbing questions (and answers).  You want to:

  • prompt people to read the interview
  • garner interest in the book / the author (you)
  • generate sales. WPdollarsign1

Basic areas to cover: the book, plot, characters . . . you.  When you’re conducting author interviews, you’re selling them, making them come across as distinctive/outstanding writers.  You want to accomplish the same re yourself, but you might want to appear more humble if you’re posting on your own site and distribution platform(s).  Avoid coming across as arrogant or big-headed.  Do sound excited (attract interest), proud of your accomplishment (modestly so), and detailed enough to evoke curiosity (have the reader/listener want to learn more).

Definitely focus on the book, but offer additional insight.  Maybe you have a humorous or life-changing anecdote to share?  Perhaps you can provide networking/outreach input?  Give thought to what might make your personal interview stand out from others.

An interview can be a powerful tool; it provides exposure.  Use it to your advantage.  In addition to posting it on your site and distribution platform(s), why not ask fellow bloggers or writers if they might be interested in putting your interview on their sites?  Maybe you can exchange interviews and/or promotional posts?  Writing communities tend to be quite supportive, so don’t be shy.

WPfunandfresh2If you’ve never done a blog tour for your book and are planning one, you’ll likely be asked to write your own interview.  Make sure it differs from the one you have on your site and platform(s).  Don’t rehash: be fresh and fun.  Fuel fascination by providing the “ideal” interview.

 

Making for an Ideal Interview

Putting together my own personal Smashwords interview, so it seemed a perfect post subject.

Maybe you’ve been giving thought to conducting author interviews, but have never done one and are wondering what’s what, where to start?

Why not begin with interviewing new authors?  Of course there’s nothing to stop you from approaching known names.  Be aware, though: with an established writer you’ll likely have to go through a publicist, publisher, or agent.  As the saying goes, though, the world is your/our oyster, so have at it: approach whomever you’re feeling passionate about.

How you conduct an interview is entirely up to you—do a standard blog or website interview, go for a podcast, or create an audio interview.  Work with the medium that [best] speaks to you.

Don’t send requests willy-nilly.  Become familiar with the author’s work.  Research.  Check out his/her blog and website.  Follow.  Know what’s happening by doing that due diligence.  Show the author you know your stuff.

Once you’ve connected, always be professional.  Include a list of questions when you submit a request for an interview.  As in anything, it’s nice to be prepared—for those on both sides of the fence.  Try to think of fresh/fun questions, ones that haven’t been asked 105 times.  Yes, you’d definitely want to inquire about their book, but see if you can do so from new angles.  If you’re stumped for questions, Google; there are hundreds of interview questions out there.  Play around with them.  Put a spin on them: yours.

How many questions should you ask?  It’s said seven to ten is a good number, with three intensive ones related specifically to the book.  Prompt detailed answers.

Once an author has agreed to an interview, ask him/her when it’s best to post it.  Maybe he/she has a time frame in mind re a book launch or promotion.  Announce on your blog/website and social media when that interview will be posted (and thank the author again, of course).

Speaking of the author’s featured book, it’s a good thing to have read it before the interview.  Sometimes, however, time is not our friend, so soak up everything you can about it on-line, including the press release if there happens to be one.

Don’t forget to include a photo of the author.  A tour banner and book cover are also good.  Take a gander at book-tour blogs to get an idea of how you might like your own to look.  Get creative/artsy, but not crazy (your site and interview should be attractive and readable).

Remembering that interviews—in a nutshell—are about sharing authors’ experiences and advice, current and/or future projects, and tours, ensure questions are relevant (though there’s no reason to ask the odd unrelated question).  On that note, here are 25 [thought-provoking] questions; do with them what you will.  WP2nd

⇒ What are common traps for aspiring writers?

⇒ How do other authors help you improve your craft?

⇒ Do you belong to any writers’ communities or groups?

⇒ When was the first time you realized you were destined to be a writer?

⇒ How did your first book transform your writing process?

⇒ It’s said writers have muses: tell us about yours.

⇒ Describe your writing style.

⇒ What’s the easiest part of writing?

⇒ Do you outline a plot beforehand or do you just “go with the flow” and let the idea take you where it may?

⇒ What sort of research and prep work do you do for your books?

⇒ What do you believe it takes to become a bestselling author?

⇒ What do you consider quintessential literary success?  Are you pleased with your success?

⇒ What are the best marketing / promotional practices for a book?

⇒ What did you edit from this current novel?

⇒ Which scene proved the most challenging to write?

⇒ Which characters did you like and hate the most?

⇒ Do you choose character names randomly?  Or do you select each carefully and, if so, how?  What’s your process?

⇒ If you weren’t a writer, what would you be and why?

⇒ How long, on average, does it take you to complete a novel—from first draft to final edit?

⇒ Have you ever thrown out any manuscripts?

⇒ If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

⇒ Which book of yours might you be tempted to rewrite?

⇒ What genres to you like reading?  Why?

⇒ If you were to opt for a new genre, which one would you go for?

⇒ What’s your next project and when might we see it?