Let the Marketers Market


You’re washing your face in the bathroom sink. The warm water makes a pleasant gurgle as it swirls down the drain. It’s California, so you don’t run the water too long.

Suddenly, the water reverses course, and comes up out of the drain.  Thinking quickly, you shut off the tap. No good. The water is gray and malicious, and soon the sink is full. It stops filling before the water spills over the edge, but just barely.

So? What do you do? The sink is full, which means the pipes under the sink are full. Are you a plumber?

In my household, I would attempt to fix it, would flood the bathroom, and never hear the end of it from my wife and teenaged daughter.

“Why don’t you just call a plumber?”

“I can fix it, honey! See, it’s just a… oh.”

Slosh, gush. Gaglub, gaglub, gaglub.

“Nice going, Dad.”

You’re a writer. You know how it is. We write, you and I. Unless you’re a marketing writer, the whole business of promotion and publicity is outside our bailiwick.

So, here we are in the world of self-publishing. I did all the work – I wrote Droppington Place, I edited it, had it read and ignored by family and friends, I published it, I created a Facebook page for Phineas Caswell, I opened a website,  PhineasCaswell, and I even bought a book about Dummies marketing on Facebook.

So far, I’ve sold 4 copies of the book – three to people I know and one that might actually be legit.

By day, I’m a technical writer/illustrator. I do what I do because I enjoy it, and am good at it. I’m not a plumber, although I do get my hands wet upon occasion. But, I am a miserable excuse for a plumber.

So, my writer friend, must it be true with marketing. Here we are in the most freewheeling, enabled, and unshackled time in history for writers – dude, anyone could read your book right now! – but are fettered at the gate of success by a lack of time and marketing knowhow.

The answer is to let the plumbers plumb and the marketers market. The answer is the same as it always was: do what you do best. If you need the help of a specialist, for goodness sake, hire the specialist!  Unless you can do your own dentistry.

As for me, I’ve got to fix this sink before my wife gets home… it’ll all be done and she won’t even know I did it myself until I tell her!

Crack. Gaglu, gaglug, gaglug…

“Magic,” She Gasped.

Magic She Gasped Little Black2

“Magic,” she gasped.

Say it again: “Magic,” she gasped.

Tell your friends to say it: “Magic,” she gasped.

It’s a mantra, unless that’s the bat-shaped fish. Whisper it in your sleep.

“Magic,” she gasped.

What is it? What does it mean? Why should you care?

What makes a Subaru a Subaru? Actually, Subaru puts a comma in their statement – a comma with which I have never agreed. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. What does that second comma do? It makes a clause out of “it’s what makes a Subaru,” which isn’t a clause at all. It equally makes a clause out of “Love a Subaru,” which is a clause, but  is so widely separated by the non-clause that you have to remove the non-clause to see it, by which time you’ve simply beaten the whole darned thing to death…and doesn’t make me what to buy the car because they have trouble with punctuation.

“Magic,” she gasped. It’s a mantra, or manta. Or Banta if you’re into Star Wars.

I was trying to come up with a way to sell my book, and the only catchphrase I could think of was “buy my book.”

Hmmm, lacks a little something.

Hailey, one of the characters in my novel, Droppington Place, has a fascination with magic – just to point out that there, right in that sentence, is the proper use of commas to separate a clause – which causes her to utter the mantra/manta/banta phrase. Several times throughout the story she gasps the word “magic,” in what I sincerely hope is a running joke.

So, you see, sometimes your characters can give you a hint on what’s special in your work.

But, here’s the dealio, the thing, the bomb, the cat’s pajamas: What happens if you Google search “murder, she gasped”? Well, probably nothing yet, because I just loaded the tags.

But eventually, my impatient friend, you’ll go to either Phineas Caswell’s home page at PhineasCaswell.com, or to his Smashwords Droppington Place page.

If you simply Google Phineas Caswell, whose name appears beneath the logo, brings you all manner of Droppington Placey options.

Is this marketing genius? Does Procter and Gamble sell soap?

Or is it simply some degree of self-delusion that I’m making progress in marketing my book? Self-delusional like a fox!!!

Already, the pieces are falling into place…bwahahahahah.

You, because you’re a friend, can actually skip all the marketing hype and get Droppington Place by simply clicking HERE. When you get there, type in this Coupon Code: NJ38D, and you can get the book for free!!!

Why, that seems almost like…

“Magic,” she gasped.





Goodbye, Baby

DP FinishedStand by to eject bathwater on my mark.

Standing by, sir.


The bathwater is terminated.

Nice shooting, Lieutenant.

Roger that. The baby is outta here. Repeat: the baby is out of here.

Big ten four. Stand by for towelage.

Uh, negatory. Sorry. No can do.

Disregard that. Stand by to commence towelage on my mark.

Uh, sorry, skipper. No can do.

All hands, stand by. What’s with this gloomy Gus guff, Lieutenant. I believe I gave you an order.

Ten four on that, skipper. But, we don’t have, a, well…

Don’t tell me you ran out of towels.

Negative, sir. It’s just that, well, we ejected the baby with the bathwater.

Mongo Santamaria! You’re telling me we tossed the kid out the window?

Like a bullet, sir.

Well, there goes the towelage. All hands, prepare for battle stations. Angry mom at eight o’clock!

It turns out, writing a book is great fun. And it is great fun. Even though your imaginary friends, all those little voices in your head, drag you through the very depths of despair and pain and agony, the fact that you share that with them, that you are a witness to their travails – is an honor and a delight.

Oh, sure. That’s the cat’s pajamas, that part. Like ice cream for dinner every night of the week. Best of all, you tell all your friends that writing is the pits, it’s the worst – you feel like a zombie…hour after hour, typing, thinking, scribbling, coffee, beer, whatever. While, actually, your inner you goes “teehee, this is the best!”

Welp. The party’s over. They ate the pretty balloons. It’s crying time again, and you’re gonna leave me – I can see that faraway look in your eyes. Why must we get offa this cloud?


Yes, there is one more moment of glee, and that is when you join the Club of Shakespeare. All the world is a willing audience, hungry for your written words, longing for your thoughts, your ideas… and, once the book is published… Yo, lookit me, feedin’ the masses!

It’s a cerebral joy, and stunningly short-lived. I found no Disney at my door. Discovered Dreamworks dreaming of someone else. Ran across Random House randomly choosing someone else’s house.

No, the party’s over. Now comes the drudgery, the mind-numbing torture, of figuring out how to market this darned thing for real. It’s no longer a game, or a funny idea. Now it’s work, work, work, to get this product sold and out, into the sunshine where it belongs.

What? What’s that? How can you find it? Well, bless your generous soul, you have come to the right place. Let me pull your chair closer to the fire. Move it, dog. Make way for this most spectacular person.

Because you are you, and you’re a friend, I’ll let you have the book…for free!

No strings attached. Freebie. You go. Although, if you found it in your heart to write a dazzling review, I’m sure no one would be opposed to that…

Find DROPPINGTON PLACE here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/618049

Now, this is important: type in the coupon code NJ38D. When you do, the most wonderful book you’ll download with your free coupon will be yours – for free!!!

Of course, you could also visit the author’s site, PhineasCaswell.com.

Now, to find that baby…

Gorilla Marketing, Phase Two


You just gotta love a sequel, huh? What better way to follow up a mega blockbuster hit than with another blockbuster? Boom, looka that, folks, something even better!

Well, in the spirit of gorilla marketing, I’ll go you one better than a sequel.

Howzabout this; Chapter 2 of DROPPINGTON PLACE? Oh, yeah, uh-huh, fist-bumps all ‘round.

Wha-aa-aat? Sonny Jim, you’re just plain givin’ away the whole dignity-danged store!

No I aint, Pa. I swear it. It’s a new market thing program about monkeys. All the cool folks ‘r doing it.

In today’s hurly-burly, gotta-make-a-buck world, you have to stand out of the crowd. You have to be the one. The one. You. If you don’t, the world will run right over you.

Think about this Internet. Right this instant, you can look up, like, a gazillion books for free. Books on just about anything, and fiction, and graphic novels, and whatever you want.

When you put your hard-earned words into that maelstrom, unless you just happen to be a Hemingway, or a Rowling, or a King, or another author more current whose name I should know but don’t because I’m actually an uncultured boob, you get lost in that rush of online pieces, just another salmon in the dash upstream.

So, you have to stand out. You have to be different. You have to be the one sought out by your readers.

Enter the gorilla wearing a tie.

GO: “I say, old bean, why not publish your work in a blog first, eh?”

JR: “But, jeepers, Mr. Rilla…”

GO: “Go, please.”

JR: “Oh, okay. Goodbye.”

GO: “No, don’t leave, you ninny. Simply call me Go. No need to be formal.”

JR: “Oh. Anyway, Go,   nobody reads my blog.”

GO: “Surely someone does.”

JR: “Well, I guess there are quite a few…”

GO: “There you are. Publish your book, one chapter at a time, to your readers. They’ll read it, talk amongst themselves, and before long, why, they’ll be clamoring to… “

JR: “To buy my books?”

GO: “No, to have you hanged. I’ve read your stuff. You should be ashamed.”

So, in the spirit of Go Rilla, the marketing monkey…

GO: “Ape, if you please. Great ape, in fact.”

DROPPINGTON PLACE, Chapter 2, is now released on my Droppington Place blog, here. You can also follow the link at the bottom of this page to the Droppington Place site.


De-Energizing Anti-Inertia

Photo: HowWeDrive.com
Photo: HowWeDrive.com

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.

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.

Stick a Fork in Me


Done like a ton of finished, like a taco casserole in a thousand degree oven I am done, done as the day is long, done. Finito. Wrapped it up. Did the deal, finished across the line with a big ol’ smile across my face. DONE!

72,584 words of pathos, humor, and history all wrapped up in a nice little package featuring my friend Phineas, who gives up, gets angry, blows his top, cries, and finds his father, all the while fighting a running battle with the sea. Phin, my boy, carped at by the ship’s sailing master, driven to near distraction by the French king’s granddaughter, and called every harsh, rude, hurtful name in the book, tries to find his way, figure out how he got thrown into the seagoing gulag that is the Kathryn B.

Not a spoiler alert, not here – you’ll have to read for yourself how this one turns out.

In fact, my next step is to find a reader. Someone who can be honest with me, but someone who knows a thing or two or three about the Young Adult Fiction business, what they’re looking for, what will float, what will sink like a stinking stone.

Really, my next stop is on the publishing wagon. Get this monster read by someone with brains, rework it to their thoughts, and then Wordsmash it or Yahoo it or Amazon it or something.

Really, the next step, which starts tomorrow, is to think about marketing. Building the old platformaroony that will carry this book into the bazillion dollar sales range.

You, my friend, need not worry. I will not try to sell you a book. You are my only reader, and I thank you for sticking with me. Stay with me, sail with me over the horizon of the publishing adventure. I promise to tell you everything. The rewards could be great.

For now, the goal is to simply enjoy 72,584 words of doneness. Finitoness. Ah, sweet victory, thy name is Phineas.


Get Uber-Rich Overnight by Writing Online

Writing online is tough. Not wrestling with a live python in your underwear tough, or figuring out how a python got in your underwear in the first place tough, but pretty difficult just the same. You write some wonderful, brilliant, exquisite piece that could not possibly be more perfect, you send it off to the publishing site, and you wait. And you wait.

If the site was Associated Content, you knew that a board of editors, or some guy sitting in his pajamas horking down a tuna fish sandwich, or a piece of software that simulated same, scrutinized your work to see if it was worth a nickel in SEO. Son of a cricket, that could take a week! At the end of that agonizing, just-beat-me-in-the­-head-with-a-frozen-pizza wait, you got an offer, maybe $1.06, maybe some amazing amount, like $14.23. Martha, we’re buying a boat!

If the site was Triond, dude, you could be published within, like ten minutes. The money was not an issue – gee, son, those are pretty small wages… it’s okay, Dad. I’m gonna publish a gazillion of ‘em! – but you were right out there in the big old world, and there was always the possibility you, or your work, could go viral.

In those days, which seem like maybe twenty years ago but was in fact just last year – old school is so, like, last week – that was how you did it. But the year went by, the rock-out died, Susie went and left me for some other guy, and writing online got tougher. How can this be, you ask… didn’t Al Gore invent the Internet with a capital I to make life easier?

Scratchin’ for online work, I hooked up with Writers Access, which is pretty cool. Real, live editors look at the stuff they challenge you to write – here, describe a filing cabinet in 150 words, be chatty, professional, and make it sound interesting. Oh, and don’t use the word “filing” – nobody does that anymore – and we’ll toss some shekels into your PayPal. Some of their challenges are quite that – we’d like you to create a web page devoted to offroad motorcycling – and they’ll pay you $50 to do it. I go there every now and again.

But, for the creative soul, the Internet with a capital I should be a place where you can set your work free, just like Free Willy and Butterflies are Free, and Schindler’s List… you get the idea. So you start your own site.


Dude, you need content. So you write your brains out and publish it yourself – yeah, that looks pretty good – and you buy your own URL and get a hosting plan. Here I am!


Maybe, and this is huge maybe to which I am not willing to commit, maybe the days of schlock are over. Maybe you can’t just pen what you want and push it out to the greedy masses who are waiting to devour it, because maybe the masses never really did that in the first place.

Maybe your work has to be good. Maybe it has to be better than good – downright the best work you’ve ever done. And maybe you submit it to legitimate sites, and there are dozens, that pride themselves on publishing excellent, well-wrought work.

Fade out crickets, fade in the sound of thoughtful, interested people that select a very narrow band of input, reading your work and thinking, yes, thinking about it.

Wow. That’s even better than $14.23 upfront.

I think I’m discovering that there is no overnight, get uber-rich uber-quick, slick Willy scheme to make a fortune as a writer. The secret is good work, excellent, hard work.


Make Yourself A Movie Trailer

Imagine that your novel is a major motion picture…it’s not that hard, is it? This movie has fantastic actors, a brilliant script, breathtaking cinematography: it’s a stunner.

Now imagine the movie trailer…you’re sitting in the theater trying to ignore that kid three seats away that keeps bellowing “mmmwaaa” like a drunk lamb (it turns out that they like beer…who knew?), and alternately slipping on spilled soda and sticking on some tacky substance that releases a regular waft of tutti-frutti. The theater darkens…the room falls silent.


Except for that.

An image flickers on the screen. You gasp, dude, it’s your trailer…

“In a world gone mad…one man…one woman…one deli sandwich (extra pickle-lily no on the jalapenos)…from the people that brought you…”

The theater goes silent in anticipation.


Except for that.

That’s what your book is like if your are not…don’t have a…haven’t written a…

It probably never happened in history that some writer just sorta wrapped up a manuscript and dropped it off at a publisher’s house and went to bed to wake up the next day to find that he was a phenom and the Daily Enquirer had already saved column 1, page 1 for him. Of course not…the Enquirer is a tabloid.

All that to say that, mega publisher or no, don’t force your first book to stand on its own. Start today, right now…good heavens, you mean you haven’t started yet?!?…to build a name for yourself, make a coherent framework in your career into which the book will fit. It doesn’t have to be a huge name…the book will do that if it’s good…but it should enough oomph to fill out the dust jacket.

“Author John Reinhart lives in Ventura, CA with three dogs, four cats, five rabbits, and the ocasional sheep. He has a nifty collection of rubber bands and really likes padded socks. This is is his first novel.”

In the trailer, “from the author of nothing prior to this” just doesn’t fly. “From the publisher of Hairball dot com…” now that has something going for it.

In the good old days of Harcourt Brace, they took the nifty picture of you at the typewriter smoking a cigarette and looking authorly, and did all that behind-the-scenes Madmen stuff because they had invested a bunch of money in you.

The money’s gone, which means you, my dear, must do the Madmen stuff yourself.

“In a world gone mad…one man…one woman…one clever backstory to get you to buy my book…”


A New Cover for Phineas


The world of book publishing has changed with the advent of online publishers like Amazon and Smashwords. Those of us reared in the old school of agent/publisher/bookstore have to rethink our method of distribution.

Part of the online distribution involves attracting potential customers with an attractive, alluring book cover. Traditional book publishers have teams of artists that know what will sell, what will appeal to which audience.

When you shift the publishing burden onto your own shoulders, YOU are that team of artists.

A few caveats: first, and most important – I have every intention of getting this book published through traditional means. My sincerest hope is that one of the Big Five will like it and pick it up and one of these days I’ll be in a Barnes and Noble, and, hey, that’s ME!

Another caveat: I am no graphic artist. I’m a pretty good technical illustrator, but fine art and I are distant cousins at best.

Final caveat: this is not the final cover.

All that being said, the reason I’m presenting this cover here is to show you what can be done cheaply and on the slick. The ship is a 1/72 scale model, The Black Swan, by a Russian company called Zvezda. It’s not quite done yet. In fact, she’s the same ship as in the masthead of this site.

I lifted the ocean from a painting of an American frigate – I don’t think it was in the public domain, but I’m using so little of the painting I think the artist, who is probably long dead, would be able to identify his fine, fine artwork.

Phineas, here with longer hair than in the story, is actually my daughter. The image was lifted out of a shot of her and her mom at the Mission San Gabriel two years ago. I thought the pose was right, and, well, at ten years old, she didn’t have a female shape yet, so she could pass for a boy.

The pieces were all assembled in GIMP, a free image manipulation program available at GIMP.Org.  Once I got the image blended to where I liked it, I exported it as a JPG file. Then I opened the JPG with my old Illustrator 2.o, added the titles (which are in a font called Lithos Pro) and exported the completed file as a PNG.  I remember someone telling me that size is important in graphics, so I sized the PNG at 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide.

So, it’s not the final cover art, but it’s a good first shot. I’m hoping I won’t have to use it or its cousins because a major publisher and their team of artists will take over all of that.

Still, it’s amazing what you can do with a few easy graphic pieces, some software, and a couple of hours.