Change Your Marketing Mind


The world changed while we were sleeping. It used to be kind of a pain in the bum to hand-write stuff. I mean, you have to get the paper, to get the pens, and most often you had to get the erasable pen because none of us is that good of a writer. But then came typewriters and hey that was pretty cool.

Word processors, those phantoms of the future, made it so easy to create good literature. And then, along came speech – to – text.

I was going to write this post and complain about how difficult it was to use the tiny keyboard on my cell phone. But then I discovered this speech-to-text dealio. Now I am speaking slowly, and clearly, but allowing my inner whatever that is to flow through my lips rather than through my fingers. queen.

The word queen is what my speech – to – text engine things is the word whee, so there is a lot of work to do yet. But, imagine the possibilities for those of us who are too lazy to type the little finger things on our cell phones.

Speech – to – text is supposed to be for those people who have trouble typing. Well, if you are like me, typing is too much trouble. So, I suppose speech – to – text is for you and me. Cool.

How does this relate to marketing? Think about it: you can just open your mouth and create great stuff! Or, if you are like me, you can open your mouth see mediocre stuff, and then go back and type it in correctly.

While we slept, the world changed. This new world is much more friendly to everyone. Even those of us too lazy to type out our marketing messages. Cool!

Elevator-Speech Dustcover Marketing

Marigolds End Fin

Don’t you hate those people who sum up their lives in, like, fifteen seconds? What do I do? Well, after I graduated with my MBA from Dogsnorton University, I became the sales manager for Incredible Products, the premier manufacturer of sodium-hydroxide based whisk-broom filaments with offices here and in seventeen other countries. Perhaps you should look into purchasing sodium-hyrdoxide whisk-broom fliaments. Your first thought: don’t these elevator doors ever open?

On the one hand, it’s nice to know what that person is all about. On the other, an elevator pitch invariably leaves you standing there saying “uh, well, huh, how about that?”

Sadly, this must become you. Wait, don’t go! …well, go if you must. But hurry back.

The fellow making his elevator speech to you is showing you a sign, paving your road, mentoring you, yes, you. Instead of muttering “you’re ticking me off, Phil,” you should take a mental note. Use a pencil if you have to.

This person is showing you how to market your book. He’s not exactly granting you permission to be annoying and mono-focused, but he is giving you a great example of how to sell. His elevator speech is guiding you in creating your dustcover speech.

When you buy a book, you don’t just read the front cover. You flip it over and read the paragraph on the back of the dustcover to see if the book has more than just a cool picture to recommend it. That guy’s elevator speech is his dustcover paragraph.

Here are two dustcover paragraphs on my book, MARIGOLD’S END:

The deep blue sea has haunted and hunted twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas Caswell ever since it took away his best friend and his father. Now, shanghaied aboard his uncle’s ship, the Kathryn B along with his new-found friends Louise and Taylor, he must face pirates, storms, and the secret of nations as he learns the meaning of trust and the value of responsibility.


Everything happens to twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas Caswell: his father and best friend are taken by the sea, he’s beset by bullies, and he’s dragged off to sea by his uncle. But, after learning the ways of sailors, after battling ruthless pirates, facing storms, and even determining the fate of nations, he realizes that life is not what happens to you, but what you make it.

So. Which book would you buy? – I’m sorry, “neither” is not a valid option. I’m still trying to decide which of these best describes not just the story, but the style of the book. Like the elevator speech, how you say what you say says what you need to say, too. Well, I say!

The second book sounds like more fun, but the first book might teach you more. I haven’t figured out which one I like yet – your input would be appreciated before you leave the elevator.

So, go out there and practice your dustcover speech. Who knows? Someday you might be on an elevator, and someone might ask what you do. You turn to them and say “Everything happens to twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas…”

Don’t these doors ever open?

Gorilla Marketing Phase I: In Process


At eighty miles an hour, hauling bananas down the freeway, the steering wheel of your new Yugo pops off the column and into your lap. Turns out the factory hadn’t quite gotten around to tightening the steering-wheel bolt. First, it’s a miracle your Yugo can go that fast, but, most important, you rather expect the thing to be complete when you find it in the showroom.

So, bringing the book to market.

Instead of guerrilla marketing, which takes advantage of evolving market circumstances and opportunities to quickly and effectively advertise a product, I’m using a technique called gorilla marketing, which takes advantage of overall laziness and general inaction with a grudging commitment to minimal effort. The gorilla marketing maxim: how much can you get done without doing anything.

Gorilla marketing is certainly affordable, both financially and time-wise, although it may not be as effective as that guerrilla thing in getting a book to market.

But, guerrilla or gorilla, you gotta do one thing: finish the darned book. Finish. It. Cross all of the T’s, dot the I’s, and get it done beyond done. Spell check it. Grammar check it. Re-re-re-read it once more.

I am happy to have an utterly brilliant editor very close by. My wife has a master’s degree in Russian literature, is an avid reader, and, most important, a mother of three terrific kids.

In the best gorilla marketing tradition, I didn’t even bother to print the thing out, but simply emailed a copy of MARIGOLD’S END to her. I just hear the boop as it arrived on her cell phone. That’s really close to doing nothing about marketing my book.

Jackity-crackers, kids, we’re working now. Although she is perhaps the slowest dignity-danged editor on the planet, she’s really good at it. And the price is unbeatable!

She will clean my clock on just about every sentence in this thing, and will make me rewrite the stuff that just doesn’t make sense to her, and we’ll have approximately 27 arguments over why Phineas says this and not that.

But, at the end of it, the MARIGOLD’S END that comes out will be the cat’s underwear.

So before I sent it to my editor, and in order to bring the number of soon-to-be-coming snarky comments to a bare minimum, I had to spell- and grammar-check it one more time. Found a couple of things I’d missed – who knew? The grammar-checker challenged my sentence structures – fie on thee, grammar-checker! Anyway, it’s done, and the missus has already said she regrets taking on the task. Cool!

Now, how to fix the steering wheel in my Yugo…

Thank You, Mister Gates


Oh, Bill… whatever would we have done without you? Can you imagine tapping out a novel on an IBM Selectric? Or on a rusty old Underwood? Or, gasp, scrawling it out longhand? That Dickens, huh? Now there is dedication!

When you tippy-tap your messages out on your cell phone, you don’t use words like ululate, or hypertension, or Zoroastrianism. Too tough to tippy-tap out on that tiny keyboard. Yet Mr. Dickens scrawled out deliciously delightful words longhand. In truth, most people find it easier to block print letters than to try to spell on those itty-bitty keys. Someone, probably aliens, must be laughing their dang-fool heads off – look what I got the humans to do!

In Phineas Caswell’s world, the wind she blows us aback, and we can sail forward no more. We brace the yards around to catch the wind. We loose the heads’ls. We work the rudder and bring her head around to pick up the breeze. We change tack, gather speed, and off we go.

Mr. Gates’ spell-checker has finished MARIGOLD’S END, something few humans have yet to do.   The rough-and-tumble Englishmen in this book all drop their aiches, as in “‘ow was I to know?” And Louise, she is French, and she drops ‘er aiches, and she uses French words. And Red Suarez espeaks Espanish…Ay, caramba! But, for all that, the spell checker found out those embarrassing oopsies we try to hard to avoid. Next comes a grammar checker.

Software can never replace the human eyeball and skill set and judgment, but it can certainly point you towards questionable work.

So, thank you, Mr. Gates. Your PC has revolutionized the world, and your spell checker has brought a change of tack to an otherwise stalled project. ‘ats off to ye, lad!

De-Energizing Anti-Inertia


Time rolls like a jelly-roll, right down the hill with the biological waste-matter, for we all know poop rolls down hill. That’s why your boss can give you dreadful assignments with such cheerful abandon, because poop lands on the desks of bosses with the express goal of rolling down the hill to your desk. If you are a boss, good on ya, mate, because you can roll your poop to the next level below. But I digress.

Time and energy are inextricably intertwined. Don’t think so? Why don’t you drive at 85 mph down the interstate when you’ve got six hours to get there…unless you are one of THOSE, who can’t drive 55… was that Sammy Hagar? Wasn’t he horrible? Or was that Hagar the Horrible, who drove too fast in the… but I digress.

What stands between you and your finished work – and by finished I don’t mean lookee there, Slim, I rot me a boook! – I mean a finished and produced piece that, if not published, is well down that road. In fact, let’s take it a half-mile farther down the road and say your work is not finished until it is published, and easily accessible by the world at large.

Wow. That’s a big goal. You took the time and heart and effort to write your book, didn’t you? Good on ya, mate! That’s your heart and your art, and, even though we tell our friends and admiring toadies that it was tons of work, you know in your artistic heart that it was fun. Go ahead, admit it. We probably won’t tell.

There was so much inertia to get the book done – day after tedious day (wink) of writing to tell the story, get those characters’ voices out there- be free, my creepy inner friends – with a single goal in mind: The End.

Publishing it. We-heh-heh-heh-ell, now, that’s just a whole new kettle of friskies, in’it? How do you do it? My proofreader moved on before he finished my book – well worth the nothing I was paying him, I say. An editor? An EDITOR? Those cost around a thousand bucks, my ramen-eating friend. And then, say we finally get the thing proofed and plop down half of the house payment and get it edited: crickets.

I came of age in the business world – you probably did, too. We know how to get things done, you and I. Mimeograph this, would you? Did you order more ribbons for the Selectric?   Can you smell the ditto machine? Publishing… oy, now, that’s going to use our business acumen, and other parts of the egg.

All the inertia is lost. A wide set of skid marks veer off the shoulder and into the bushes on the other side of the ditch. Maybe it’s off the road, or maybe it’s running down some hidden lane only the driver knows. Whichever way it’s going, it aint towards success.

The hardest part of this book-writing exercise is the now, right here. The thing is done, but there is nowhere to go with it. I’ll let you know if I get out of the bushes.

Vile Betrayer Marketing Guru


Back in the good old days, before color TV, rulers declared themselves despots, and tossed out anybody who didn’t agree with them. Those disagreers were labeled “vile betrayer”, and, boom, off they went to the desert on good days, off went their heads on bad.

“Be gone, vile betrayer,” was a pretty common phrase, back in the good old nasty despot days, so I’m told.

In marketing your book, you get to be a despot – a marketing despot. It’s a cool title, like those honorary doctorate degrees that colleges hand out to folks who chip in a bunch of money to build a new teacher’s lounge with a gymnasium attached. Except that this title has power to it.

For one thing, you can brand as vile betrayers those people who tell you that you should be writing with crayons. Be gone, vile betrayer. Or those who tell you they’ve read better material on the artificial butter tub. Be gone, vile betrayer. Or those who just simply tick you off – you there, with the white socks and Birkenstocks – you are worse than a vile betrayer. Be oh so gone.

As the marketing despot of your book, you have to have an iron will – or an iron George if Will isn’t around – to keep the success of your book foremost in your mind, in front of the windmills. You must cast out as non-believers those who don’t believe in your success, because, well, shucks, they’re non-believers – I guess that just sort of follows.

Why must you be so iron-willed (or Georged) despotic? Two answers:

  1. You must be iron willed because you, and only you, are the champion of your book. If not you, whom?
  2. You must be iron willed because faith is a tentative and fragile thing. And, really, all you have is faith that your book is marketable, is fantastic, and is something truly special. That it is your gift to the world.

The marketing guru chosen for MARIGOLD’S END turned out to be a vile betrayer. A non-believer. A nay-sayer. A neer-do-well-cad. A nervous Nellie. Be gone, vile betrayer, and take your encyclopedia-selling mindset with you. Be thankful you’re not banished to… to… well, banished! Be gone!

This is your chance to be the ruler you’ve always known you should be. YOU can take your book to stellar heights. YOU can build a literary empire. YOU could RULE the WORLD!!!

Or, maybe you should just concentrate on selling your book.

Yeah. Probably that.

Hissy-Fit Marketing

Petals of Joy

Nothing beats a good hissy-fit. You know the kind, where you pull your hair and stomp your feet and get so red in the face people think you’re a thermometer? That’s a really effective way to scare off bears and stray pussycats. I tried it at the office… not so effective there. I guess I can sort of kiss that raise goodbye.

But a wild hissy-fit might just be the thing that puts your book over the top. What would happen if, like, you started getting into the world’s grille about something – racism, climate change, dirty diapers, you get the drift – and made some sort of a big hissy-fit. Your fit gets on YouTube, you go viral, and, oh, hey, you also wrote a novel that now we all have to read because, goodness, what a vibrant person you are!

It could work.

Sadly, if you threw a hissy-fit over something really nice, like the West African success against ebola, you wouldn’t get any coverage at all because the world doesn’t work that way.

Sadly, if you threw a hissy-fit over the nastygram items listed above, you might get branded as a tantrummy sort of bozo, because that is the way the world works. Seriously, who wants to read a book written by a bozo, unless you are the REAL Bozo, and then, hey, that might be kind of cool. A book on clowns by the master clown himself – you could make it really scary…

Step One in the Gorilla Marketing Plan is to avoid Hissy-Fit Marketing (HFM), because it only garners negative attention. I get enough of that at work.

Step Two is to make things big, which is sort of a parallel to HFM. Make things big – broadcast yourself. Spread yourself out. Do LOTS of stuff, and tie it all together. Yes, it takes a little effort, which is anti-gorilla, but it simply has to pay off.

You are publishing your book online, right? What’s the magic word there? Nope, not bozo. It’s online, bozo. Search engines and crawlers and robots troll the WWW every single second, making links between this and that, him and her, it and, well, it. The more connections you have, the bigger you are.

You don’t stop dancing with the 600 pound gorilla when you’re tired – you stop when he’s tired. Dolly Parton wears those outrageous wigs to make her short little self not so much. Say what you will about the other parts of her, at least the wigs make her look taller.

So, no on the hissy-fit, yes on the broadcasting yourself all over the WWW.

If that doesn’t work, well, then, ding-dang it! What THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE??? WHATSA MATTER WITH THE DING-DANG STINKING WORLD

Gorilla Marketing  

Marketing your work is kind of like having kids – there’s a fun ton of work to be done before the happy bundle of joy… sort of … well I guess it’s really just a lot of work. But, like raising kids, it can be totally nerve-wracking. You’ve got decisions to make, and, most often, no one off of whom to bounce them.

Guerrilla marketing is smart, slick, creative marketing that takes advantage of niches and opportunities that present themselves. It takes a quick and agile mind to spot the chances to promote your product, and a lot of time and focus to jump on them when they pop up.

Gorilla marketing, on the other hand, doesn’t take a lot of time, or energy, and probably doesn’t even work…it’s my own theory. It involves trundling your product out before a lackluster audience – rather like the folks that visited PT Barnum’s circus for the free beer – and hoping that they will somehow generate a degree of interest that will result in million dollar sales. It’s rather like armchair quarterbacking – you don’t do anything and expect amazing results. So far it’s worked for me, in that I’ve done very little and have no results. At all.

But there IS a way to make gorilla marketing work. There is a way to spread your net, ah, yes, the spreading of the net theory, that will open the magic door for you.

Just for the record, the magic door is the one that pops open with a publishing contract for this book plus the next 300 novels and a movie deal for each. Kinda like the Muppets “Standard Rich and Famous Contract”. You might want to practice your signature for that one.

In my effort to act just like a gorilla and market my book, I have enlisted the help of a master ground-roots marketer. And when I say enlisted, I mean pled on bent knee and have yet to receive an answer. Puleeeeze help with my book. Puleeeeeeeeeeeeze….

The plan is secret, but, like a secret you tell a gorilla, soon to be out.

Okay, I’ll spill: if I can get the master marketer on board, he will be the linchpin that makes the whole shebang fire off like fourth of July mint juleps.

The net continues to spread, not from just this blog, but with other avenues that I’ve yet to exploit – oh, it’s coming my friend.

How does it work for you? Developing a growing cadre of readers, albeit only vaguely interested, builds the background for your book. Publish yourself all over the place, and don’t forget to mention your book. Then, find yourself a marketing guru to turn the key, so to speak. They are out there.

If my marketing master turns out to be a guru, I’ll let you know ASAP. And, you probably won’t even have to buy my book, or act like a gorilla.

Tips from a Marketing Guru


Gosh, that’s a selling title. Sadly, I sort of have the opposite in mind, but you can’t make a headline that says “I Need Tips from a Marketing Guru”, because no non-marketing guru will read your blog. And, although my children believe me to be an ATM, I was sort of hoping to get some advice on the cheap.

Here’s my bass-ackwards marketing plan, which needs serious consideration. WARNING: don’t do as I do, for I don’t know what I’m doing.

In the new world of publishing, the reader chooses the author, not the other way around. One way to build steam for your book is to offer it for free, or at least parts of it, to get it out there in the big old WWW. You build interest, you build potential readership, you build search linkages, yada yada yada.

In the new world of publishing, you must be brave, little Piglet, and put yourself into the market. But you needn’t do it all at once – it might be better to have a little cache of readers behind you. That’s the theory I read somewhere.

In my case, I’m a chicken. In my brave new world, we put chapters out and sort of test the waters. You sort of tentatively do things in tiny fits and starts just in case you’ve done something majorly idiotic. Hey, it could happen.

So, when you have a minute or twenty, if you wouldn’t mind, would you be so kind as to visit my pages and read the first and seventeenth chapters of my recently completed novel? I promise you’ll be entertained. Promise. Pinky-swear.

I also promise to keep you apprised of new happenings in this wacky adventure.

Especially if I hear from a marketing guru!



Afraid of Being Scared


Even the bravest fellas fall victim to the heeby-jeebies, don’t they? Now matter how many mummies you’ve faced in closets, doncha think there’s one creepity creep that just plain scares the crackers out of you? I’m sure Cap’n Kirk must have had, like, ten minutes of total flip out when they told him he would have to fistfight the Gorn, didn’t he?

I mean, if said creepity being didn’t exist, wouldn’t you be sort of like Superman, or Evil Kneivel? You’d be, like, bring it on over breakfast, wouldn’t you? Gasoline and cigarettes for lunch? Whawhooof – dang, lookit that fireball! Doesn’t scare me.

It turns out that finishing the book, while difficult, was nothing compared to the next challenge, the real issue, the stay-awake all-nighter of all time. You’re a writer – you know. Having somebody read it. Duh-duh-DUH!!!

There must be ten million what-ifs running through my head…what if they don’t like it…what if I left a bajillion typos…what if they don’t get my hero…what if they put it down and tell me I’m STOOOPID?

The difference between a novelist and someone who says I’ve always wanted to write a book is that the novelist writes it. They face out the evil task and do the deed.

The difference between a novelist and a published author must be this next step of leaping across the yawning chasm of what-ifs and approaching the external reader challenge calmly and professionally. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

It’s not that I haven’t had other readers – one of my daughters actually liked it. The other hasn’t quite gotten around to finishing chapter two. My wife almost finished if, and my sister got well past the middle. Perhaps it’s too long…

So, it’s down to paying a stranger to read it. I’ll give you fifty bucks to read my book…wanna buy a watch?

Maybe they could give me some tips and pointers about the book…except that I am so beyond the tips and pointers phase. That phase was, like, two rewrites ago. This book is the bomb, the deal, the cat’s sleeping gear.
This one is better, brighter, more connected. This one is good.

Soooo, what would a reader do? Find my errors, I guess. Tell me they didn’t get it, I imagine. Probably tell me it’s too long, maybe.

I’m not afraid of the reader. I’m afraid of the rewrite if they don’t like it. Or, should I pull a Captain Kirk and boldly go to publishing?

Do you see? Can you feel the terror? Can you see how hard this part is? This is literally like seriously hard, like trying to land a B-52 on a football field at night during a hurricane hard. Passing a watermelon through your nostril…well, maybe not that hard. But hard!

So, Mr. Knievel, you may have the motorcycle and the cool jacket…wait a minute. That’s just costumery stuff to make us think that you’ re brave, but maybe you have the heebie-jeebies, too. Maybe some things make Superman do a little squirt in his shorts, too. THAT’S why he wears that cape!

There’s no antidote for the heebie-jeebies but to do what you’re supposed to do.

Be brave, little Piglet.

Oh, Owl, I’m afraid I’m scared!