Poorly Written Headlines #2

This has been a bit of a slow week, so I thought I’d do another edition of Poorly Written headlines. It’s been a while since I did the first of these, so here’s a refresher on strategies to writing good press release headlines and sub-headlines.

What this headline does right:
  • Tells us the author’s name and book title (both redacted)
  • Tells us the genre: action thriller
  • It’s at least 63 characters long (depending on the real author and title length), but the phrase parallel universe would likely be cut off in listing pages, so all we’re really left with is the Who  and the What
What this headline does wrong:
  • Describes the book as taking place in a parallel universe

This headline is more of a statement than a news announcement. It reads as if it was pulled from a descriptive paragraph and slapped into the headline.

Why does it matter that this book takes place in a parallel universe? The vast majority of speculative fiction takes place in some form of alternate reality, whether it’s our universe with some weird shit happening, or a completely unique fantasy world.

Try searching for “parallel universe” on Google and you’ll get 500 million results. Add “books” to that search, and the top bar will show works by authors ranging from Pratchett, to Asimov, to Pullman. The book named in this headline is not competing with those names.

What could be done differently:

Basically, the back half of this headline is fluff; it has no real meaning, and it’s not doing the press release or the book it’s promoting any favors by being so generic.

Instead, the author could hint at why this parallel universe is interesting, or maybe provide a news announcement, such as the release date. Here’s an example without completely butchering the format:

[Author’s] exciting action thriller, [Book’s Title], will be Released this Summer!

It’s not perfect, but it provides some valuable information to the reader–they should check out this book and add it to their summer reading list.

What do you think? How would you make this headline pop more?

Steve D

Quarterly Sales Report: Awesome Con was Awesome

Awesome Con was fantastic. I talked to a ton of cool people, connected with a couple authors, and sold some freaking books.

I wish I had the budget right now to do more conventions, but I’ll just have to be patient. At the very least, I can plan to be at Awesome Con again next year. For now, let’s have a look at how well my first novel actually sold at my first convention. Continue reading “Quarterly Sales Report: Awesome Con was Awesome”

Awesome Con is Here!

The day of reckoning has finally arrived. In just a few minutes, I’ll be heading down to DC for Awesome Con!

I have parking spots reserved for each of the next three days, and I got my books on time! These are the boxes I have to haul down there.

And here’s my actual merch, my newly printed matte-finish books and bookmarks!

I think the matte finish came out really well, even though it’s not as dark as the bookmarks–that was sort of the idea.

I have 35 books with me, which is probably way too many, but I wanted to have some extra anyway for whatever my next chance to meet readers will be.

I forewent buying flyers for “The Grand Mythos” or a banner, due to budget and time constraints (a.k.a., I’m unemployed, and I did not give myself enough time to prepare), so I printed some promo text on the back of these bookmarks.

I included a blurb for Aston and Jaed, a promo for “The Grand Mythos”, and some info on where people can find me. It’s not fancy, but it was easy to do and it gets the point across.

I’ll be posting pictures from the convention on my Imgur account: WardeOfEverfeld.

And I’m sure I’ll have tons to recap after the event. Today is an 8+ hour day, so I might be a wee bit tired. We’ll see.

Okay, no more delaying! I’m nervous and excited as hell. To Awesome Con!

Steve D

Awesome Con 2019 Prep!

Well, this week came up a lot faster than I had anticipated. We were off on our first road trip with Nugget for the last 10 days, visiting family in Michigan and Milwaukee. We had a great time, but now we’re back in the swing of normal life

Awesome Con begins on Friday, and I still have some logistics to work out. The countdown begins! Continue reading “Awesome Con 2019 Prep!”

Poorly Written Headlines #1

Yesterday, I discussed how a bad press release headline can kill your book promotion efforts before they’ve begun. But I’d like to provide some actual examples of what headlines do right, and what they do wrong.

So here’s the first in what will be an ongoing series:

What this headline does right:

  • Gives the genre: science fiction adventure
  • Gives the intended audience: young readers
  • Tells us that this is a series of books, so either the author already has books published, or they intend to publish more, i.e., we should all keep paying attention to them
  • It’s concise, just 67 characters, meaning most of it will appear in search engine results pages

What this headline does wrong:

  • Describing the book as fabulous

What makes a book fabulous? What makes this specific book fabulous? Is it fabulously well-written? Is there fabulous characterization, or fabulous world-building? Is the plot fabulously paced?

Flowery adjectives can make a headline pop, but by leaving the description vague, this headline is effectively meaningless.

The first ten words tell me a lot about the What, which is great. But the final two give me no hint of Why I should care. Young adult sci-fi books are a dime a dozen right now, and this headline fails to stand out from the crowd.

That’s it for now. I’d be happy to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this headline or my critique. I’ll try to do one or two of these each month.

Steve D

How Bad Headlines Ruin Your Book Marketing Efforts

Way back in 2017, I wrote about the four basic elements of a good press release. In that post, I discussed how the headline and sub-headline should be used to hook a potential reader into actually reading the rest of your press release.

But I don’t think I emphasized enough one simple truth about press releases:

If your headline and/or sub-headline are not eye-catching, no one will read your release. Continue reading “How Bad Headlines Ruin Your Book Marketing Efforts”

Marketing Your Novel: 2019 Goals

I know we’re already a month a and a half into the year, but I haven’t yet laid out my book marketing plans. I needed some time to mull over what my real goals were and how I can actually reach them.

Answering the first question is easy: Sell. More. Books. As for the second question, well, let’s discuss. Continue reading “Marketing Your Novel: 2019 Goals”

A Quarterly Sales Report, and Other Things I never Thought I’d Write

At some point during the pre-publishing process for my first novel, I said that I wanted to be relatively transparent about how well my books did.

Well, it’s been over three months since I published The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. I’ve already talked about how my PPC campaigns performed. Now, it’s time to have a quick look at how they and my other marketing efforts helped me actually sell books.

Continue reading “A Quarterly Sales Report, and Other Things I never Thought I’d Write”

Belated Numberbrag and Marketing Goals

Goals are funny. Sometimes, when they’re outside of your direct control, it’s better not to pay too close attention to them.

I lost sight of any specific marketing or statistical goals for this website for this year, since most of my efforts focused on publishing and promoting The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. So without particularly trying, we’ve hit a lot of goals… from 2017.

Continue reading “Belated Numberbrag and Marketing Goals”