The Art of Advertising

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Last night, an acquaintance of mine sounded off on Facebook lambasting authors for “wasting” their money with marketing campaigns. He used the lack of Return On Investment as the reason for all of us to stop throwing our money away. As I read this, the marketing grad inside of me died a little bit. This poor soul just didn’t get it.

Steph and I a few weeks ago decided to come up with a concentrated marketing strategy to help all the authors who publish with us. Instead of waiting for the Amazon allotted times for sales and what not, we decided to take 100% control and arrange the sales ourselves. We reached out to a reputable website and struck a deal with the webmaster – in exchange for discounted rates to advertise our books, we’d post one a week for at least two months.

Have we seen our ROI so far? Actually, yes we have. But, if we push that to the side, my fellow author missed the bigger boat. Marketing campaigns equal exposure, not sales. Getting your title and cover under a reader’s nose is the biggest challenge of the publishing world. Once its there, shenanigans ensue.

Do you know how many times it takes for a reader to make a decision to buy a book? If you look it up, the number (depending on the source) ranges from 5-8 times on the norm. If you throw marketing to the wind based on immediate ROIs, your book will be lost in the abyss*! That’s what marketing does, it helps your book rise to the target audience and hopefully get them curious.

**Disclaimer – before you waste any money marketing, get some opinions of your book from real readers, i.e.- not Aunt Jeanie and mom. Their going to tell you you’re book is the bee’s knees. Nope, we need good, hard, honest assessments. When I wrote Power Play, I got advice from mom and Jeanie and I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t selling. After I reached out to some readers who enjoyed the genre, I found out why. Correcting the mistakes I made, today it sells pretty well thanks to strategic marketing.

I’m not saying to spend wildly on marketing. Pick a budget that you can comfortably afford a week. Stick to your budget and be faithful to it. Don’t slack one week saying, well I did it the past two, it’ll be fine. If you want to see returns, you have to be consistent. You have to be willing to get your titles out there.

And for the love of all things good, make sure a reader besides dad and Cousin Vinnie think your book is good. I mean everything: from the title and cover, to the content, and even the blurb you plan to use on Amazon. Find someone you wholeheartedly trust and tell them to be brutal. With honest assessments to make your book as close to perfect as it can be, you’re marketing campaign will be much more successful.

flash

If you haven’t watched last night’s Flash, leave now.

You know me, I hate saying I’m right. Wait, no I don’t! 3 for 3 this year, people! My Great HR Wells Theory came to fruition and Iris West lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t see Barry becoming one with the Speed Force. What a way to end the season. And even before that, the final scenes with Savitar were brilliant. I loved the chase scene with Wally, Jay, and Barry going after SaviBarry through the forest. Plus Caitlin, oh Caitlin, what will next season bring to you?

As for an early prediction, next year’s big bad will be none other than The Thinker. If you don’t know who DeVoe is, go look him up. He’ll be an intriguing addition to the cast if the show runners go that way.

That’s all for me today. I hope my marketing breakdown helps you and if you want to discuss further, email me or drop a line in the comments.

-Jeremy

You can find my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

*There will always be the one in a million book that catches on like wildfire with little to no effort from the author/publisher. If this happens to you, buy a round of beers for the house and we will toast you and your good fortune.

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Countdown to Legends

July 4th seems so far away, yet as my editor told me, we’re on the clock. I should preference everything moving forward that I absolutely love the way Legends Can Die came together. As a writer, a lot of times you worry that the second, or third book of a series won’t meet expectations. Stormfall raised the bar and now Legends Can Die blew it out of the water.

*Before moving on in the blog, realize spoilers for City of Chaos and Stormfall are about to be shared*

Legends Can Die

What your here for is the added content. Today, we’re going to hit the Way Back Button and talk about The Dark Lion. Yes, the old hero who bit the big one at the end of City of Chaos. It’s funny, but all these years later and it wouldn’t feel like a Negative Man book without John Wonderton appearing in some way, shape, or form. Yes his son Kyle, The Morning Lynx, sort of picked up on his dad’s role, but the real deal Dark Lion was the man.

DL will be appearing in Legends, in one way or another. His impact, not only on Pacific Station but Jericho, is one of the driving forces in the series. He was a beacon of hope with this dark cloud hovering over him. Hell, in the first action sequence we ever get, he kills Diamonds in a rather brutal manner.

One question I get a lot when I’m at a book show and I run into a reader whose caught up in the series is why did I kill off such an important character so early? I liken it a bit to the Obi-Wan syndrome – sometimes a character is more powerful in death than they were alive.

I hope you enjoyed this insight into both Legends and The Dark Lion. Before we go, let me hit you with The Dark Lion bio:

Real name: John Wonderton

Alias: The Dark Lion

Powers: Enhanced speed, reflexes, strength, and intellect

Greatest victory: Over The Negative Man at Waves Part (1st Time)

Greatest regret: Never being the man he should’ve been to his love

History: John Wonderton started off as the hero of North Terrace, freeing the city from the terror of The Crimson Mask. After endangering the only woman he ever loved, he fled in the night to Pacific Station to start anew. He never knew he was a father to a son, Kyle, and that he inherited his dad’s genetics, becoming the super The Morning Lynx after his father died. He considered Jericho Staley one of his closest confidants, and friend.

-Jeremy

You can find all The Negative Man books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Great HR Wells Theory (Flash Spoilers)

If you haven’t seen last night’s Flash, leave now.

flash

Okay, so we saw at the very end that the future couldn’t be stopped, the Iris West is dead. Team Flash tried everything but still failed.

Or did they? Or more specifically, did HR succeed where everyone else failed.

Let’s go back to the middle of the episode where Barry pretends to be Lyla by using that transmognifier thing from HR’s Earth. We haven’t seen that thing in forever and all of a sudden is becomes a major plot point? Yep, foreshadowing people.

Flash forward to Cisco and HR talking. Cisco gives him a pep talk about how HR’s job is to “hold down the fort.” That’s just what HR does. He’s annoying, goofy, and semi-unlikable half the time. But he’s also been around heroes and learned from them. He’s grown as a character. He wants to do something, anything to protect the team.

And of course he does! Can you imagine the guilt he was holding at the end due to his honest mistake of telling SaviBarry where Iris was? Sure, no one blames he and they shouldn’t, but he blames himself. In his mind, he’s the reason that Iris will die.

So, my theory is, HR does the only thing he can. When we see him looking at that piece of SaviBarry’s armor, a plan forms. He uses the transmognifier to take on Iris West’s appearance, sacrificing himself to save her. That would be a true hero’s death, something worthy of a character like HR.

How does it happen then? Maybe he enlists Gypsy to help him make the switch while Barry is trying to blast SaviBarry with the speed bazooka. Maybe we underestimate how savvy he is and he’s able to sneak on to the battlefield and make the swap. Either way, HR takes her place by the time SaviBarry gets back to finish the job.

Let’s face it, it very well could be his fate. He can’t go home (he’d be executed – this is why I think Gypsy would help him) and if he stays on Team Flash, Tracy will want to stay too, ruining her future. HR’s a stand-up guy. He’d never let that happen.

So in the end, I think HR’s dead and Iris is still alive. I guess we will find out next Tuesday at 8 if I’m right about this one. Hey, I was wrong about Eddie Thawne as Zoom but so far this year I was spot on with Malfoy being Alchemy and future Barry being Savitar. Could I be three for three in Season Three?

Speaking of – where was Malfoy last night? Hmmmm…

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I can be bad too, Killer Frost my love

-Jeremy

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More Norse Mythology, Kids!

Today’s blog topic comes courtesy of a reader email I received this morning:

Jeremy,

I finished Hat Trick over the weekend and needed to vent a bit. Number 1, why in the world didn’t Jack and Rumil have bigger roles in the story? I love those two so much. Number 2, what’s the deal with Beowulf being evil? Hasn’t he always been presented as a hero?

Despite my gripes, the story was fantastic and can’t wait for the next one to come out. JJ and Kelsey are excellent replacements for Jack and Rumil (even though I miss them!).

-Stacey

First, thanks for the email Stacey. Your two venting points are actually things I struggled with during the writing process, so let’s go over them together, shall we?

hat-trick-2

When I decided to return to the mythical world of Asgard after Game Over, I was torn on how to approach it. I tried to outline a story that included Jack and Rumil a lot more, but it felt pressed to me. In all honesty, their story was over. I, too, really love those characters (as they were the first ones I ever came up with), but I wouldn’t have done them justice by creating crap. So that’s why instead of their continuation, we get JJ and Kelsey.

Stacey, I’m so glad you asked about Beowulf. What a lot of readers probably don’t know is that coming up with a good, engaging villain is the hardest part of a writer’s task in creating a book. Let’s face it, the heroes all fall into one of the pre-programmed stereotypes that are out there. Villains, this is where the creativity really needs to shine through.

In the first trilogy, we had Azmodeous and Frejya running amuck. Both had their reasons for committing the crimes they did and both were well liked by readers and reviewers. That meant for this story, I had to up my game, do something even more creative.

That’s when I settled on Beowulf. A lot of us know his story, so I won’t be you with a history lesson. And Stacey is right – he’s always been portrayed of the Hero of the Danes, the great warrior king who drove evil out of the land. But what if the stories got it wrong? History has a way of sugarcoating things and making them look a lot better.

Having a character is good, but having the backstory is even better. This gave me a vehicle to bring Odin back in some capacity. It’s not hard to imagine that Beowulf, becoming arrogant with his own power, would rebel against his patron god, the Allfather. Odin, being just as arrogant, wouldn’t take too kindly to that and ta-da, we have Beowulf’s reason to become the tyrant king he is at the start of the book. There’s more that goes into it, but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the story yet.

Hat Trick is one of my favorite stories. I know Norse mythology isn’t exactly a hot plate genre, just know if you join JJ and Kelsey on their adventure, you won’t be disappointed.

We’ll be back on Thursday with the first in our series of blogs about The Negative Man as we start the countdown to Legends Can Die.

-Jeremy

You can get all the info on Jeremy’s book at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Of Negative Men, Werewolves, and Demons (Book Updates!)

It feels like forever since I gave you guys the 411 on what I’m doing in the literary world. There’s actually a lot happening, so I felt today was as good as any to drop on by and get everyone caught up.

I’ll start with the book I’ve been getting the most questions on – the 4th book in The Inglewood Chronicles. I know it feels like forever since The Curse of Oberon was released last year. I promise you this, The Wolves of Chernobyl is well underway and to alleviate the fears some of you have had emailing me, I have a release date for everyone – Halloween 2017. Yep, going along with my Holiday release theme, Wolves will be hitting the shelves that Tuesday.

Over the next few months, look out for the cover release and more information about the story, including chapter excerpts!

legends-can-die-kindle

The next book that I’m releasing is Legends Can Die, the 3rd book in The Negative Man Saga. The final draft is complete and has been sent off to the editor for her to do her thing. Becki Blackburn is awesome and once she’s done with it, Legends will shine like the star it is.

Next week, I’m going to kick off the countdown to release with some snippets from different chapters, as well as commentary on the entire series. I’m really looking forward to sharing that with everyone.

Finally, I’ve been working with fellow author Jack Crosby on revamping his first series. This project has been so much fun. Trying to integrate your style into someone else’s is a challenge, but one that really puts your writing chops to the test. Our first release, Demons in D.C. (formally known as Death Among Us), came out a few weeks ago. The next is right down the pipeline, In the Nyx of Time (previously Old War Stories) is set to be released on June 6th. Give them a look, they are very fun reads.

Demons in D.C. (Kindle)

So, that’s it for this week. As I said, I’ll be back next week as we begin the countdown to the July 4th release of Legends Can Die. Until next time!

-Jeremy

You can find my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

 

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Who is Savitar?

Hey, I’m back everyone! After dealing with my yearly encounter with the plague, I’m finally feeling better today. Hurray for modern medicine and what-not. I think this deserves a surprise appearance from The Penalty Box Band!

band

“We thought we were fired!”

Okay, on to the real business of the day. If you’re like me, you’re chomping at the bit to see tonight’s Flash so we finally get a look at who is in the Savitar armor. This year feels different with the reveal; Wells as Thawne was pretty heavily teased in season 1 and imposter Garrick/Zoloman as Zoom seemed forced. This year with Savitar, I think they learned from last year’s kinda let down and are going for the gusto.

Remember last year when I confidently declared Eddie Thawne as Zoom? Yeah, I do too. That should’ve happened but alas, it didn’t. However, that leaves us a chance that Eddie is in the armor. At least that’s what a friend of mine thinks. The thought behind Eddie is simple – Barry has screwed with time so much that Eddie is probably alive again and full of bitter. He hates that Barry stole Iris from him and if he can’t have her, no one can. I like that theory a lot actually.

However, my thought is something a bit different. Sticking with the “Barry has screwed time up so much at this point” theory, my guess that the man in the armor is actually… Barry Allen. You’re either laughing at me right now or you jumped up and said, “Dude, I thought the exact same thing!” Hear me out real quick before you exit from the browser.

There is a precedent in the comics that a post-Flashpoint Barry came back in time to murder his way into making things right. That Barry, well his lightning was blue. Also, does no one else find it suspicious that future Barry had no idea who Savitar was? Of course he does, because it’s him!

future barry

“Yo Allen, you’re going to turn evil and twisted and the only way for that to happen is for me/you to kill Iris.”

There is one last cryptic piece of evidence. When using Julian as his mouthpiece, Savitar told Barry that “he was the future, Flash.” Take out that comma and he’s actually saying he’s the future Flash. Just sayin.

We will all find out tonight when Barry and team pop up on our TV’s at 8 pm.

Jeremy

I still write books! You can find them at http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston!

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The Barry Allen Proposal

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Just imagine for a second. Last night, around the world, a lot of long time boyfriends/girlfriends were sitting around watching The Flash. It was a bit of a weird episode with the whole musical flair thing happening. Then comes the end, when Barry breaks out into song with just Iris at their apartment. How many significant others swooned for a moment as that took place?

Then it happened, he proposed to her fo’ realz this time. Iris, who was just serenaded, instantly says yes. At that moment, millions of anxious boyfriends, significant others, etc… let out their collective groans. After witnessing that, just how in the hell is anyone supposed to top that.

You can’t.

Let’s be frank – Grant Gustin is a hell of a singer and, unless you’re in the 1% of people who can really belt it (not the karaoke lounge singer that people just smile at), you’re not pulling that one off. However, have no fear, we’ve got some pretty decent options to still exploit.

Here we go with a few gimmick proposals that might take his/her mind off of the epic crap Barry Allen just pulled!

Hangman

This one is pure genius. Set up a reservation at one of those fancy restaurants that let’s you play with crayons on the paper table cloth. Obviously, when you bring up the subject of playing Hangman, don’t immediately jump to the puzzle, “Will you marry me?” No, slow burn it out a few games to drop any suspicions. Then, once the trap is set, drop the bomb!

Scavenger Hunt

Raise your hand if you hate scavenger hunts. See, no one hates them. What can start off as a simple clue here or there can turn elaborate real quick. Make sure none of the clues actually give away the grand plan. Get someone else in on it to; really throw the scent off of you and your machinations. Just make sure it’s not too convoluted and your s.o. doesn’t end up three counties over.

The Rube Goldberg Device

Another favorite, this one takes some mechanical skill and execution. As soon as your mark opens the door to come home, or over, or whatever, it sets off this elaborate device the ends up with a ring popping out and you being ready to ask the big question. The usage of things like dominoes, to strings, to even bowling balls to get the figurative ball rolling are excellent options. Just YouTube Rube Goldberg device and start crafting your ultimate plan today!

What gimmicks should never, ever be used? Here is a quick list:

  • skywriting
  • stadium jumbo-trons
  • at the bottom of a wine glass
  • in a dessert
  • in front of family members
  • flash mobs
  • on social media

Yep, those are seriously bad idea. Not that mine are any better, but you’ll at least rack up points for creativity.

How did I do it? I went the more traditional route and proposed to Steph under the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Sometimes the simple route is also the best.

-Jeremy

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