Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'd Rather Be Poked in the Eye with a Flaming Hot Burning Marshmallow and Stick than Market My Book?

I have a wonderful friend who has been lucky and talented enough to do what we all want to....write full-time and make money doing it.  I asked her if she would share any of her tips with my followers for the blog, and was overwhelmed with the professional quality and wealth of information she provided.  
Please take the time to read all of this post.....the tips are invaluable!
Welcome, Calle J. Brookes!

I’d like to say thanks for having me guest post, Samantha! I don’t do very many blog posts and I am happy to be here!

Today I am going to write about marketing.

Hiss. Boo! Reowrrrr!!!!

Every bit of my body recoils whenever I even think about marketing. And with good reason—a few years ago I spent  more than fifty plus hours a week working my tail (and horns) off in the marketing industry! I started in a relatively low-level position and within a year I was the head of the marketing department. Now, I am so burned out, repulsed, and totally turned off by marketing and promotion and all that other jazz that even the thought of promoting my books has my skin crawling.

Yeah. I know. Pretty strong reaction, isn’t it? Especially for an indie author…because rumor has it, we have to market our books to make any kind of showing in this crazy Amazonian era of digital publishing. (And market, and market, and market, and market until that is all we ever do!)

Well, frankly, that rumor is a complete and total piece of…baloney. At least in my experience. Your millage may certainly vary.

So today, I thought I’d share my “Anti-Marketing” Plan with you.

First, I probably should give you a little background info about who I am, right? I am Calle J. Brookes, freelance graphic designer, freelance non-fiction writer (I love textbooks!), and content editor for Astraea Press and other clients. I am college educated in two fields—creative writing and graphic arts. I live in Indiana with my wonderful man of eight years and our two-year old, werewolf-obsessed howling daughter (not sure where she gets this obsession from…)

I am also the writer behind the Dardanos, Colorado series of paranormal romance novels/novellas, and the PAVAD romantic suspense. The first Dardanos book came out in October 2011 and the first PAVAD book in April 2012. Since then, a second PAVAD book has hit the ‘shelves’ and six more Dardanos books have found their way to the world. Most recently, I released an omnibus of the first five novellas for the Dardanos series.

My books are doing reasonably well. Well enough that I don’t have to put my child in daycare and get an out-of-the-house job to pay my share of the family bills. This is particularly important to us—our daughter has severe allergies and cannot be in a regular daycare safely.

I lucked out with the self-publishing. And I know it.

After only three months of my first book being available, I was able to completely flip my income percentages. I went from ninety percent of my income resulting from freelance work and ten percent from fiction sales to where I am now. Ninety percent of my income comes from book sales. My monthly average from sales is in the four-digit range, once all venues are tallied. (I’m not talking the two places to the right of the decimal point!) And other than the freelance projects that interest me, I don’t have to do freelance at all, anymore. This happened in less than three months.

I don’t get it. I still don’t understand exactly how this happened. But I’m glad it did.

Here’s what I did. Some of it might work for you. Some might not. One thing I learned from my time in the marketing industry is that what works sometimes won’t necessarily work all the time, or for everyone. And sometimes you’ll completely bomb on something that is the winning solution for the writer next door. Keep it in mind…

1. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I devoted ninety percent of my scheduled work time to…writing. I still do, actually. I write a minimum six hours each day—three throughout the day, around my daughter’s schedule and three hours after she and her daddy are asleep. Most often, my writing time is double this—my child thankfully enjoys playing independently in our home office, so I am able to accomplish quite a lot while still being able to see her at all times. I can average 6000 words per day (unless she’s not feeling well—then I may manage 500!) and the bare bones of a book in five-seven weeks, four if I’m on a roll.

2. I know my audience and what they like and look for. The people buying my paranormals are not necessarily the same people buying my romantic suspenses. I know this, and I design my covers accordingly. How did I learn who they were? Simple. Research. One thing I did take from my marketing career is researching the market I’m trying to sell in!

I looked at the Amazon “also-boughts’ list and I noticed a pattern of titles. The two series’ did not overlap greatly. (That was intriguing, as I thought I’d get quite a few cross-over buys, which hasn’t really occurred that much yet. Maybe when the next PAVAD comes out on New Years?) Then I studied the books in each genre, and took note of length, cover design, blurb, and their “also-boughts”. I also engaged people on my blog. I’ll talk about my blog in a moment.  I love my blog. It’s my best friend. (No, seriously. I’m not that weird, I promise! I have a real best friend or two, I swear!)

3. I did not use social media. Ick. As an author, I do not like social media. I do have a Facebook author page and I have probably the most pathetic, sickly, weak, awful, and pitiful looking twitter account in the history of author twitter accounts. I’ve tried, half-heartedly, to get involved in the Facebook/twitter promo of my work, but I have epically failed on that front. Probably my subconscious reminding me of how huge a part of my previous marketing job FB/Twitter was. Seriously. I’m repulsed by promo-via-social-media (other than the aforementioned blog, that is!). I personally cannot stand to be on my personal Facebook page (Hey, I do have family I want to keep in touch with, so I manage!) and see an author-acquaintance plugging yet another of their books. I don’t go to my page to see someone saying “Buy me, buy me!” I wouldn’t like it in person—I don’t like it online. Can’t help it. It’s my sales-person experience coming through. I know the buy tricks and I won’t fall! I swear I won’t!!!!!!

4. My blog. This is where the vast majority of the information about my work is available. (I shut down my site because I didn’t like the setup over there—instead I direct traffic to my wordpress blog, makes far less work to take away from my writing time/family time). From the very beginning I wanted my blog to be my readers’ portal to another world or two, which are extensions of my fiction worlds. 

On my blog readers will find free reads, written in a fan fiction type manner, with me posting a few chapters every so often (I aimed for 2-3 times per month. That happened sometimes, but not always). These free reads were shorter works from the same series of other books I had to offer. And they were not quick flash fiction pieces. They ended up being as long as some of my novellas that were selling on Amazon.

I actively tried to answer every commenter on my blog. It’s polite and something I enjoy doing. Because these people liked the worlds I created enough to take their valuable time to visit my blog and comment. That’s pretty special and deserving of respect. I especially love to read peoples’ reactions to the stories-in-progress. It’s definitely encouraging!

My available book info is kept as up-to-date as possible with active links to each site where the book can be purchased. (when I remember, which has been pitifully not often, lately as the kid has been ill for a while…L)

I don’t inundate my blog followers with information they don’t need or want. I keep it as book related as possible and I actively try to engage them on my blog. Nowhere else. They came to my blog to see what I have to offer. No more, no less. So I give them what they need. Period.

I also occasionally let my readers know any important release information. Many come to the blog for the first time searching for info on upcoming releases.

This brings me to my final two points:

6. I link. Everywhere I can, I link. (Within reason! Don’t get link happy!) And I excerpt. At the end of my ‘About the Author’ page in my ebooks and print books is a link to my blog. At the end of each new release I include at least two excerpts from other works of mine (and occasionally friends’, if I feel strongly enough in their writing abilities). At the end of these excerpts are buy links, if available. (This brings up an FYI point, I’ve seen many readers commenting negatively on authors who have books that are more excerpts than actual story. Keep your excerpts to less than 15% of the entire book length!)

Make finding your other offerings as easy as possible for your readers. If you think of an even easier method, change your plans and implement it. You want the impulse buys and the ‘faithful reader buys everything you’ve ever written’ buys. They are an author’s bread and butter! I also have a list in most of my books of other books I’ve written, with links in the ebook version.

And finally,

7. I write. And I write. And I write. First, because in every fiber of my professional being I am a writer. I can’t not write. I don’t function well when I don’t write. And second…having more books available means that your readers can buy more books. I wouldn’t shop in a store that only had one or two items to purchase. That’s disappointing and a waste of time; if I did visit, I’d buy those two items and never return! That’s the last thing we need as authors. We need return buyers. We need to look at them as the customer and remember that we need to give them a good product plus other or future products (and info about those products) in order to keep the customer returning to our shop! So, yeah. I write, and write, and write.

I don’t do blog tours, and I’ve only done a spare handful of guest blog posts—by choice. The guest posts I do are for friends with whom I’ve discussed writing on several occasions. Such as Samantha!

So once again, Samantha, thanks for having me. I’m sending virtual S’mores your way…I roasted the marshmallows myself…(and my eyes are completely safe, I swear!)

BIO: Calle J. Brookes has been writing professionally since the age of eighteen when she lucked into a part-time journalism position; her love and enjoyment of working with the written word has only grown throughout the years. Now, she is glad to say that she writes fiction full-time (and does part-time content editing for other authors), and self-publishes most of her works. Her current writing obsessions include her paranormal romance series featuring the Dardanos, Co. characters and her romantic suspense series featuring members of the PAVAD division of the FBI. For excerpts and free reads you can visit Calle’s blog at

Her most recent release is the Dardanos, Co. Omnibus: 5-N-1, which includes four novellas and one short story. It can be found at Smashwords and The print version will be coming on Dec. 4. All stories included are previously published works, either through various ebook retailers, or through Calle’s blog.

Stories included in the Omnibus are…


War was cruelty, cruelty was war. Sacrifices must be made by both sides.

Rydere Dardanos was king of the Dardaptos people—the race of beings responsible for the ancient vampire legends. He’d do anything to protect his people in the war between the Dardaptoans and all those named Taniss.

Emily Taniss was the new CEO of Taniss Industries, the company her grandfather started sixty years ago. The company responsible for so many horrific acts against the Dardaptoan people. Her grandfather’s actions held many repercussions for Emily and her cousins. It would take them years to straighten it all out.

But Emily didn’t have years, she had only moments…


Mickey Taniss had a difficult time trusting men--of any species. And she knew she'd never be able to trust one who'd turned her from a human into a vampire! Or a Dardaptoan—or whatever he'd called her.

She knew the truth--he'd kidnapped her and taken her from the very world she knew. And now he wanted her to believe some goddess she'd never heard of had preordained them being together? He was absolutely crazy.

Theodoric Sebastos had spent the long centuries waiting for and longing for his mate, and when he found her he would do whatever he had to in order to convince her that they belonged together and that she could trust him. But how was he to do that?


Jade always knew she was different and she always knew there was a special someone waiting for her. She hadn't known he would be four hundred years old--or a vampire.

Barlaam had waited for centuries for his Rajni--his destined mate. He never expected it to be some human girl who was barely twenty-one!

The only honorable thing for him to do was step back and give her a few more years--maybe a decade--before he staked his claim!

But that's not what Jade wants... He might be resistant, but Jade was unstoppable. He was hers, and she would have him!


Jason Taniss was a family man, first and foremost. He loved his grown daughters and he was learning to tolerate his vampiric sons-in-law. But as a Lupoiux werewolf he longed for his own mate. She was out there waiting for him, somewhere. He just had to find her.

Dr. Annabelle Macgregor ran faster than she ever had before. Her scientific mind refused to accept what she'd seen. Werewolves did not exist.

Jason knew the rogue wolves wouldn't stop until they caught the lone female human; he knew what they would do to her if they caught her, too. As an employee of Taniss Industries, the woman was his responsibility to protect. He'd do just that.

But when Jason caught Anna's scent, one thing became clear...she was his mate...


Kennera was the goddess of the Dardaptoan people; Eiophon her sworn enemy and patron god of the Lupoiux. They'd been imprisoned together for centuries, and in less than three days the walls separating them would come down. Then Kennera knew what the wolf god had planned for her and her people...

Eiophon would find her, no matter where she ran. How could he not? He'd waited centuries to claim his mate, the very enemy he chased...

As always:  show your love and let her feel it!

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  1. I want to second Calle's point about excerpts: I ranted and raved on twitter, facebook and my blog this summer about several ebooks that were 50% or more excerpts or other advertising. I was PISSED. Excerpts can be good, I don't mind them. Some readers hate them. Excerpts should NEVER dominate the book, whether ebook or print. It's a surefire to lose readers; word WILL spread.

    I haven't read any of Calle's books yet but I work with her at Astraea and we chat on facebook. Someday we'll meet in person!

  2. So true. I have moved 95% of my time into writing and am lucky that I write quickly anyway. We really are competing with 100000 other writers with promo. Why not compete instead with writing to the market that is out there (i.e., what we want to write and what people want to read...sometimes those are different, but since I love writing, I do it all) and writing the best books we can? That actually has worked for me to--gasp--make some real money writing! Passing this valuable blog post on, Calle!

    1. Thanks, Lisa. The trick is to stand out from the crowd in a good and unique way, I think. How else can you do that but by writing a good and unique story? Thanks for passing it on!

  3. This is music to my ears! I have a social media phobia. Nice to hear somebody who believes you can make it as a writer by...writing!

    1. I personally don't think there should be any other way! :D

  4. The title of this blog alone should sell you millions! Love it! Great advice on what you did. Wishing you a boatload of success!

  5. Thanks Sharon! The title came about a while back when someone asked me about my views on marketing. I toned it down a little for this post! Thanks for reading!