Monday, May 30, 2011

Building mystery with a muted theme

Writers often wonder how they can build mystery into a character. I know I used to. I used to wonder how to portray lots of things. The best way to learn how to portray something is to think about what it is that you want to portray and then break it down into it's elements and then portray those elements.

So, if we want to portray a character as mysterious we need to think about what the key elements of mystery are. Well, one of them is the fact a mystery is a question that we just can't find an answer for. There are suggestions as to the answer and multiple people might have different interpretations as to the answer which, of course, just adds to the mystery even more.

Well, one of the best ways to pose a question that has no answer is to use a muted theme. For example, if a character does something odd once and once only it poses a question but will be forgotten soon after. However, if a character does something odd on an on going basis there must be a reason for this odd behavior. What could it be? We are intrigued and want to know why they are doing this. It must serve some purpose.

I believe I first learned about this technique in an academic study of The Bible entitled The Book of God. If I remember correctly, in this book the author investigates the odd habit Sampson has of cutting the ears off of prey he has killed. What significance does this have? Why does he do it? What does it mean? It must have some greater significance because it is in The Bible. Nope. The author concludes that it is simply the use of a muted theme to increase the mystery of the Sampson character. We will never know why he does it and that is the point...and the desired effect on the reader.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Niche marketing ideas for books

The more I begin to familiarize myself with Inie publishing the more I'm glad I decided to go this route. My Book The Vagabond King appealss to too much of a niche market so it would be virtually impossible for a traditional publisher to make money on. I wasted years looking for a publisher. However, on the internet everything is niche marketing. There are millions of niche markets out there each appealing to millions of people.

Now, The Vagabond King is kind of a tough book to categorize. It is a literary coming of age novel about a 16 year old boy named Chris who discovers the man he was raised to believe is his father is not after his mother dies and he is haunted by a dark and mysterious apparition that forces him to question his pampered existence and embark on a spiritual quest.

Seeking sanctuary in the house of a middle aged waitress with a degree in philosophy and a penchant for sex, he discovers that she lives with her father. Chris finds himself out of his element and, ultimately, transformed by a cigarette smoking, beer swilling immigrant who spends his final days limping around the house in his boxer shorts, listening to blues records and making Chris get him fresh cans of beer.

The Vagabond King weaves mythology, science and religion into a metaphysical mystery as Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping blues records, the roles we are playing have been played many times before.

Now that that bit of shamlesss self promotion is over I'll let you in on the idea I had to get deeeper market penetration with your books. To market a book you've got to put it into a marketing box (Thriller, YA, Romance etc). Now, The Vagabond King is not actually a YA novel but that, perhaps, is the market it most closely targets. Had I gone the traditioal route it would be placed on the YA shelff in the book store. But, I have read that a book store is the worst place to sell a book, simply because of all the competition. Now, here is where my idea becomes a benefit. Within each book there are sub niches. For example, my book contains themes of blues music, African history, Hungarian history, spirituality, Ancient Mesopotamian history, Astronomy and others.

So now, when marketing, I can target much more than YA websites to gain some attention. I can also target websites that focus on the themes contained within The Vagabond King. Every book has sub niches contained within it. I'd love to see if it works for any of you out there.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Putting a marketing plan together

Hi kids,

I've been quite busy latley developing a book marketing strategy and I thought I'd share it with you. My journey started out last winter by reading The Well Fed Self Published Writer which is a very good and comprehensive read but is more geared to non fiction writers, but still worth reading. I also read a book called Plug Your Book which is, again, highly recommended. It has copious information on all sorts of nooks and crannies in the internet to plug your book. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Victorine Lieske and Marva Dasef who were kind enough and generous enough to offer very valuable suggestions. Ultimately though, I felt like I was eating an elephant. There was just too much information to digest. However, it seems that all sources say that a website (or at least a blog) is essential to a marketing platform. But websites are a bit like door mats, just because you throw one down doesn't mean you will have company for dinner.

Thankfully, the fates have smiled on me again and I discovered a website called Site Build It which I mentioned in my last post. The problem with domain hosting companies is that they will sell you a domain and may even show you how to build a website but they don't really do much more. Site Build It is a very user friendly service which walks you through the process of not only building a website but of generating traffic to go there. It is not a quick process but it is a proven process and I am currently in the process of determining what kind of site would be best suited to support the sale of my book. Once I have the site up and running, and my brother is done with the cover art I plan to take a page out of Victorine's playbook and publish on Kindle. When last we talked she had sold 50,000 copies. Way to go Victorine! I plan to sell it at the .99 price point which is the same price point that Victorine finally settled on after some trial and error. Then I plan to make myself a regular presence on the kindleboards which, you guessed it, is just what Victorine did.

I will keep you appraised of my progress and would love to hear any comments from anyone else who is going the road alone in Indie Publishing.

Ciao for now.