One Thing Marketing: Inside-Out Marketing

Sometimes marketing just feels…blah.

Another Facebook update. Another updated business card. Another newsletter that you wonder who’s even reading.

A great way to spice up your marketing efforts is to go the “inside-out” route. And no, I don’t mean wearing your clothes inside-out. Though, if that sounds fun to you, go for it.

I’m talking about looking at the already-existing elements of your book—or even you—that are perfect for a marketing project.

Examples:

In May 2012, author Katie Ganshert released her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter. On her website, Katie invited readers to write their own “wildflowers from winter” stories—times when they were in a “winter” season of life, but caught glimpses of God at work even in their difficult circumstances. Tons of bloggers participated!

Or, check out what author Beth Vogt did on the three-month anniversary of her book’s release. Her novel, Wish You Were Here, includes a hero who has traveled all over the world—and sends postcards to another character. So, throughout the month of August 2012, Beth held a “Where in the World is Daniel” contest on her website each Tuesday and Thursday.

In my own story, I feature a homebuilding TV show host—sort of a female Bob Vila type. You better believe I’m already thinking of ideas for my own This Old House-like YouTube videos!

It’s just a matter of turning your book inside out, looking for those fun elements which are ready-made for some marketing mania. And then…simply have fun!

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Marketing Coordinator, Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg, My Book Therapy, The Craft and Coaching Community for NovelistsFormer reporter and native Iowan Melissa Tagg writes contemporary romance heavy on the hilarious. She won the 2010 Frasier Award and finaled in the 2010 ACFW Genesis contest. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is My Book Therapy’s marketing/live-events planner. Visit Melissa at www.melissatagg.com where she waxes eloquent on faith, fiction and frivolity. Contact her at: marketing@mybooktherapy.com.

Featured Fiction Friday Presents: Sarah Sundin

Well, the Frasier Winners have been announced. The hard work of the judges has decided the winners, and today we will take a look at the novel of another of our esteemed judges… Sarah Sundin and her book With Every Letter.

Q: Sarah can you tell us a little bit about your story?

As part of a morale-building program, World War II flight nurse Lt. Mellie Blake begins an anonymous correspondence with Army engineer Lt. Tom MacGilliver in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, they develop a deep friendship. But when they’re both transferred to Algeria, will their future be held hostage by the past—or will they reveal their identities?

Q: What is one piece of writing advice you could give to the MBT Audience?

Cultivate both teachability and persistence. Teachability will help you shape your novel into a work of beauty, help you work well with editors and agents, and respond gracefully to criticism. Persistence will carry you through the hard work of rewriting and editing, and will drive you through the rejection-letter years. Teachability without persistence leads to “camping” in chapter one and never moving on, and to rewriting your story so much you lose your own voice. Persistence without teachability can become pigheaded stubbornness, which will not endear you to editors and agents and critique partners. So prayerfully cultivate both.

Q: Do you have a testimonial/review you’d like to include?

“I love the nostalgia and drama of the WW2 era. No one takes me back there better than Sarah Sundin. With Every Letter is a beautiful love story and has everything you want in a novel: romance, suspense and characters you care about from the very first page. A marvelous beginning for her new series. I can’t wait to read the next book.”

-Dan Walsh, award-winning and bestselling author of The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Discovery

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Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series from Revell, and also the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, and she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist.

 

Pitch + Premise = Spine

Maybe you first heard of the “story spine” from Stanley Williams’ book, The Moral Premise.

But I actually thought of the concept all by my lonesome the winter of 2011 at the first Deep Thinkers Retreat. Because it became clear to me we HAVE to know what the story is about in order to develop the character and the plot. The pitch is that one or two lines, the concept, of the story that you tell editors or agents. Or you friends when they ask, “What’s your story about.”  You must be able to tell it in one or two succinct sentences. If you ramble or start telling too much, then you’re not nailing the core of your story.

For example, my pitch for Dining with Joy was “It’s about a cooking show host who can’t cook.” For The Wedding Dress I’d say, “It’s about a hundred year old dress four women wear over a hundred years.” And Beth Vogt’s pitch for Wish You Were Here was “What if kissing the wrong man leads to finding Mr. Right?”

Right away, the hearer gets the concept of the story. So work on your pitch. What is your story about?

After you nail the pitch, work on the premise. The premise is the pitch expanded. It’s a short blurb.

When Joy Ballard takes over her father’s cooking show after his sudden death, she is completely out of her element. But her prowess in front of the camera makes her a huge success even though she can’t so much as fry an egg. When restaurateur Luke Redmond joins her show, Joy believes she has a way out. But love has other things in mind and carries Joy through the toughest challenge of her life.

The Wedding Dress

Wedding boutique owner Charlotte Malone was fine when fiance Tim calls things off. But when she discovers a hundred year old wedding gown in a battered trunk, she embarks on a journey to find the right bride for the gown and discovers her own rich heritage and the courage to face her future.

Once you fine tune your pitch and premise, you have the spine – the answer to WHAT IS YOUR STORY ABOUT?

It’s high level. There are certainly layers to your premise and spine, but it gives you a plum line on how to develop your story.

While you may work on your character and plotting first, let me recommend you really fine tune your pitch and premise before you finish and polish the book and make sure your story functions off the spine!

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Rachel Hauck, Write a book proposal

Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 15 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com.

 

 

 

Brainstorming Strategy #6: Highlighting Opposites

No writer wants to hear that their characters are “vanilla” or too much alike. We all want our characters to pop so our readers love them as much as we do. Trouble is, that it is easier said then done.

How can brainstorming help you to deepen your story and make those characters fly off the page and into a reader’s heart? By highlighting opposites in your novel.

I’m not talking about the hero or heroine always being opposites. Rather, the Hero and his sidekick or the heroine and her sidekick. When characters are too much alike, we run into the whole BORING problem.

Create characters that are different in habits and personality. This causes natural tension and added interest to your characters.

Let’s try this idea out to see how it could work.

Introducing our heroine’s qualities:  Sally is cautious, detail oriented, health nut, wears a tailored business suit to work, and gets her nails done every third Saturday of the month.

Who would be a great contrast to highlight Sally’s profile?

Introducing our heroine’s sidekick:  Debbie is an adrenaline junkie, a free spirit, she loves French fries and hostess cupcakes, her free flowing peasant style shirts are all in vibrant colors, she is spontaneous and likes to feel the dirt between her toes.

Can you see how this can add all kinds of fun tension to your book?

Just being around each other will cause tension in their approach to life. A lot of misadventures and iron sharpening iron will occur in this relationship. You will also be much more aware of your own character’s personality as it is showcased by the opposite behavior of their sidekick.

Analyze the personality of your cast of characters.

To avoid the perception of vanilla characters, you should analyze the whole cast of characters in your novel. Do they talk similarly? Do they compete for a certain kind of attention on the page? Are they each unique with no overlap?

This could be a hint that you are not keeping your hero/heroine unique. For a character to pop, they need to have some qualities that belong to them alone. By keeping them unique and showing the exact opposite qualities in someone in the story that makes their qualities stand out more.

How can highlighting opposite personalities deepen your novel?

Through opposites we can showcase the different struggles our character has and show their need to overcome them.

In our weaknesses others can see our need to grow. Who better to show our weaknesses than a character who is beside us through much of the book?

A hero or heroine’s sidekick can bring out the best and the worst in a character. They force them into crazy situations and push them out of their comfort zone.

The next time you develop your hero and heroine, be sure that you have highlighted opposite qualities in the characters around them. It is amazing how a bit of dry humor, spontaneity and quirky behaviors can bring out the unique in our characters. 

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Michelle Lim, My Book Therapy, The Craft and Coaching Community for NovelistsOur Huddle Coach, Michelle Lim semi-finaled in the 2011 Genesis with Death’s Apprentice and received Bronze Medal Recognition in the 2010 Frasier contest with Singed. She is the vice president of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of ACFW. At My Book Therapy she coordinates the e-zine’s Genre Java Column and is the Brainstorm and Huddle Coach,our program for local craft groups. Michelle taught elementary school for eleven years. She lives in Minnesota with her husband Hui Hong and four rambunctious kids that keep her life full of laughter and suspense. Contact her at: huddles@mybooktherapy.com.