Tag Archives: marketing

On being good at sales

I’m still not totally comfortable with being really good at sales.

Because, I am. I’m a sales machine. At large comic-cons, my single-title sales are on par with best-selling writers — which is good, because I still only have a single title. (Working on it.)

Other writers tell me I am good at sales, a complex compliment inside our introverted guild. It helps that, if a reader doesn’t want what I am selling, I will send them to another’s work with equal enthusiasm. I’m good in the booth.

I have made money in sales, covering all my bills during my year as a ski-bum in Lake Tahoe with a part-time telemarketing job. One of my most treasured compliments was from my manager there, who told me, “You give good phone.”

I am a fierce fan of my stuff. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for more than might initially see themselves buying it. I see my book becoming ever more relevant to the world outside it. I want the world to know so my subset of it will find me.

I don’t presuppose any strengths or weaknesses. I say what I have, strongly.

In a teen-focused genre, I write mature work. At cons and festivals, I say “10 o’clock shows, not 8 o’clock shows.” It’s a happy expression because it’s a fact they differ, it’s not an apology, and it hints at earned privilege, an adult’s welcome relief from explanation or euphemism.

Demon is a standalone novel. No sequels, except for a Tarot. “A big book, but one and done.” Maybe a fifth of people don’t find that appealing — Vayan con Dios. Most are at least fine if not happy to hear it. We talk about the joys of a certain ending, a lack of commitment, an amuse-bouche while awaiting GRRM.

While I can spot aligned styles — if you cosplay Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I will sell you a book — even at cons I can’t know my readers on sight, especially since I am winning a few over right there. I assume all bipeds are in play until they make it clear they’re not.

That said, I know the wrong audience. 1-star reviews never go away, and a good way of avoiding them is keeping your work out of inappropriate hands — or, disappointed hands. I use horror as a flavor, but if you want it as a main course, that’s not my Demon. For action, I have some fisticuffs, but only one drawn gun in the whole book. I have bone-dry acidic wit, but no chuckles.

I say these things and people buy my books, people of all kinds, in very good numbers for the venue. I don’t know why it worries me, as opposed to the superpower that it really is. Maybe it’s impostor’s syndrome, that I am somehow more appealing than my work.

Maybe it’s not impostor’s syndrome but honesty, of a kind. My sales self also expresses qualities of my work: unassuming but distinctive, unflinching not crude, erudite not highfaluting, seeking clarity but understanding about the muddle.

It makes me nervous because it is not sales. It is an art, an ethic — like this blog post, a form of my writing. I can’t pretend it doesn’t matter, because it only works when it does matter.

Then I’m a sales machine.

First look at Business Class Tarot!

COMING FALL 2018

Are you a business person, entrepreneur, or maker?

Do you work where product meets brand? Where data and money become one?

BUSINESS CLASS TAROT™
See the Present — Change the Future

Tarot cards have centuries of wisdom about human nature and power dynamics, hidden behind obscure symbols and outdated worldviews.
BUSINESS CLASS TAROT brings the Tarot’s deep knowledge and interactive format into our world of global connection, massive scale, and brutal competition.
Artist Jamin Hoyle’s beautiful, surreal images evoke the rush, despair, and joy that inform and derail life’s major decisions.
Designed and with guide by author Anthony Dobranski.

Hello Connecticon 2017 – and thanks!

Tonight I fly north to Hartford, CT, to join the Bard’s Tower booth opening Friday at Connecticon. It’s the first of three cons I’m doing in July at Bard’s Tower, with other fantastic writers.
Cons are intense, by design, and they’re also long days standing on concrete. Three cons in four weekends is a heavy schedule, personally tiring and hard on my family. Still, #livingthedream . These are my last big cons this calendar year. I want to connect with every interested reader during my hours in these big convention halls.
How immediate these connections can be! People know their tastes, even if naming them with difficulty, but they feel. Once in a while I get a visual clue that a convention-goer might be my audience – cosplaying Sandman‘s Death, or wearing an Unknown Pleasures t-shirt – but more often, the readers find me and click. I’ll see an hour of people glancing away, then a delighted voice reads my title aloud and everything brightens.
Connecticon 2016 was my first con behind the table, learning to connect with readers in person and find their interests, before my launch in Cincinnati. Seeing how little time one gets in the hugeness of a con convinced me to market overtly to a niche sensibility.
I am excited to come back with my book – and new trading cards!

New Demon trading cards!

As a promotion on social media for The Demon in Business Class, I created a virtual trading card deck. For cons, I printed card versions of the nine character pictures. They were done as a last-minute inspiration, made by shoving the cards’ original Instagram proportions into a business card template on Moo.com, the excellent online printer. The cards turned out to be popular at cons and events, and at a better cost-per-item than postcards.
I updated the info on the back and resent the cards to print a larger order – seven this time, of the original nine, because nine is unwieldy at a con; and extra Zarabeths.
This time, Moo said the uneven border made for unsatisfactory results, and offered me the chance to do the cards over with new images. They were right of course, and I took the opportunity.
At my upcoming cons in Hartford, Raleigh, and Ft Lauderdale, I’ll be sharing the good word about Demon with new promotional trading cards!

Hello CapClave – Trading cards now REAL!

I’m paneling and reading starting today at CapClave in Rockville MD. It’s a very different kind of personal appearance than my work at convention booths, with panel discussions of literary topics, and a half-hour Saturday morning to read my work.
In celebration, my social media promotion has slipped the surly bounds of cyberspace and achieved card form!
The nine Demon picture cards
It’s only the 9 picture cards, not the complete set of 55, which is still being published one a day on my social media: Instagram & Twitter @adobranski, Facebook @adobranskiauthor
It’s also a small test run of this promotional idea!
Any intrepid and review-minded readers who buy an Advance Reader Proof from me at CapClave get a card along with the posters I also gave buyers in Cincinnati. (And if you bought a book in Cincinnati, get in touch on Facebook or by email to dobranski outlook com and I’ll send you one!)
Here’s my CapClave schedule – for full details, see CapClave.org and find me under “Participants.” See you there!
Fri 6p – Whatever Happened to the Standalone Novel?
Fri 8p – Who’s the Bad Guy in a World Without Absolutes?
Fri 11p – How Graphic is Your Novel?
Sat 10:30-10:55a – Reading
Sat 11:00-11:25a – Author’s Table
Sat 4p Politics in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Sat 5p – Global Climate Change in Science Fiction
 
 

Thanks, Cincinnati! – my successful advance release

My debut selling advance proof copies of The Demon in Business Class at the Cincinnati Comic Expo was a smashing success – I completely sold out!
It was great to be part of the WordFire Press booth and have their amazing support. My posters and banner clearly caught people’s eyes. And of course, thanks to the many brave readers who took a chance on an unknown author!
I am still under-slept, and I have work ahead of me to be ready for reader reviews – and for my next pre-release appearance, October 7-9, at CapClave in Rockville, MD, where I’ll be on several literary panels, and doing my first public reading. Cincinnati gave me a lot of good energy, and I look forward to putting it to use.
Thanks Cincinnati for my warm welcome!
 

Fun with marketing – book teaser trading cards

The image-driven firehose that is social media challenges the modern writer. I see some managing to do clever things with it, releasing aphorisms and motivational notes, and others just stupefied. Count me more often among the latter.
Not long ago, writer, blogger and ace self-marketer Shannon A Thompson  posted about her book teasers, single-image character bios she puts out well in advance of her book’s release. I can do that, I thought.
But I couldn’t. My efforts seemed both too much and not enough, and in retrospect I think Thompson’s style wasn’t playing to my strengths. I needed a way to put forward not just characters but the breadth of my story, and my own writing style, in bits and snippets – in a spirit of play.
I did have a great cover, thanks to artist Julie Duong, and my banner showed me that I could make an unusual concept work. Early one morning three weeks ago, trying to get back to sleep after waking too early, I suddenly saw these in my head.
Star Wars trading cards 1977
These are my own Star Wars trading cards from 1977 (I have the first three sets of 66, complete). What’s funny about them is that they only make sense if you’ve seen the movie – even in numerical order, they’re more like a trailer blown up into individual frames and fallen all anyhow onto the floor. I imagined what it would be like to read them without having first seen the movie…
The result debuts today on Instagram, and come out one a day between now and my mid-November book launch – 56 in total (7 x 8, a union of Western and Eastern lucky numbers). Here’s a sample:
Three Demon trading cards
I’m no artist, but I can run an image editor enough to add borders and fonts. I took Thompson’s great idea to use stock art for my character images – it helps that they’re mostly business people, and stock art sites are full of those – but I ran them through Prisma, the smartphone app that makes people look painted, which let me image the character’s personality, not just their looks.
For now they’re on my own Instagram account adobranski. Follow it and get a little literary oddness in your daily feed!

Fun with marketing – my convention banner

I am so pleased to show off my first major marketing tool since the book got its cover – my banner for convention booths and signing tables. Artist Andrea Klores created a fantastic twilit look that complements the book’s edginess and theme. See it below in detail, and the final product at the end of this article – with a 6’4″ human for scale!
Demon banner detail
This is not the usual book marketing banner, and I thought it worth discussing.
My marketing education this summer included a weekend working at my publisher’s booth at Hartford’s Connecticon. Continue reading

My first interview!

I got to talk about my upcoming novel The Demon in Business Class with the great guys at B&M Baked Podcast. We discuss the story, the background, the editing process, support from other writers, and even the convention-sales business model.
My five-minute interview starts at timecode 30:21 – or listen to the whole thing, to hear from many other great authors too!
http://bandmbakedpodcast.podbean.com/e/ep-376-connecticon-2016/
 

Make time for new work

My main creative work since my book contract has either been editing my manuscript or developing my (approach to) social media. By any commercial measure, that’s what I should have done. Polishing and sharing best honors my creative expression.
One has creative intention too, and each success makes one’s ground more fertile. Recently my editor Vivian Caethe, fresh off her first Kickstarter success, turned a Tumblr post into a new anthology on Kickstarter, which shows how quickly ideas can bloom.
I need to be there for my finished work. I also need new work to do.
These last two weeks I’ve been making myself make things up, just opening blank text screens and letting words fly. It’s not exactly automatic writing but it’s my least self-judgmental form of creativity. Nothing that will go further in this form. Nothing anyone’s waiting for yet. It can be stupid and playful. I even wrote the outline of a wordless ten-minute play, mostly on my smartphone, in a car.
Most of these ideas will go nowhere. A few return in funny ways. A jokey conceit I never developed for my blog became a Russian propaganda television serial in my NaNoWriMo manuscript. That manuscript was once a dream, hastily written down and played with for weeks thereafter. In another year it could be a book.
It’s important to make new things, especially if it feels unimportant. Something takes root if you keep seeding.