BREAKING NEWS: Lawrence Block, an author for whom I have tremendous respect (as a talent as well as a voice of sanity in an often incredibly pompous and overly-serious universe), who literally wrote the book on writing the book, just did an in-depth review of John Locke’s new “How To” book, and in the same blog devoted an incredibly generous amount of space to reviewing my new vicious mockery of all things writing and self-publishing related, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated). An incredibly positive review, which tells me he likely confused my book with something else, or started on the bottle early, but still, I’ll take it. Here’s the review.
Gracias, Lawrence Block. Everyone should, presuming they have any money left after buying several copies of my books, go buy his whole catalog of fine work. But keep the sequence straight. First me, then him. Got it? Let’s not get giddy here…
EVEN MORE BREAKING NEWS: John Lescroart, NY Times bestselling author of over 20 notable bestselling novels, has graciously given his take on the hit new phenom, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time. You can read it here. This should convince you to buy two or three copies, rather than just one.
YET EVEN MORE BREAKING NEWS: Michael Harling’s seminal blog, “The Life Of Writing” did an in depth book review on “How To Sell A Gazillion” that’s a must-read. You can see it here.
AND EVEN YET MORE MORE BREAKING NEWS: John J Gannon’s influential weblog reviews John Locke’s book as well as “How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated). It’s a good take on the book from an insightful social commentator, which can be seen here.
AND EVEN YET MORE MORE MORE BREAKING NEWS: Sasscer Hill did a wonderful review of the Gazillion book on her blog, which can be seen here. She’s up for a pretty prestigious award for her prose, so she’s another writer who obviously confused my writing for the work of someone else.
The long-awaited debut of the new “must-read” writer’s bible, “How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated)” is now up and available on Amazon, for the laughably low price or $2.99. It’s a giveaway for what is already being heralded as the “feel good book of the year for the whole family” and “an indispensable writer’s resource that will have blazillions selling a gazillion eBooks in no time.”
I can appreciate the anxiety the absence of this storehouse of invaluable knowledge has caused. That you were forced to wait days, if not minutes, is inexcusable. For that, I apologize. It’s entirely Amazon’s fault. Blame them. They have earned your wrath.
For those unfamiliar with the seminal work of Russell Blake, I can appreciate that you’re suspicious. It’s only natural. Your soul is dead from years of disappointment, and it seems impossible that you’ll ever do anything more important with your life than bagging groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly while drowning your sorrows with rotgut whiskey and hillbilly heroin. I feel your pain. Okay, maybe not so much, given the exciting, self-actualized existence of non-stop partying with celebrities and Victoria’s Secrets models I lead. But that’s not the point. It’s not all about me.
This is your movie. This is your chance to turn the car around, and claim your birthright of success, happiness, wealth, vibrant good health, acclaim, self-respect and astounding longevity. You hold the keys to the kingdom in your hand. Everything’s possible again, like in your youth before the world crushed your dreams and left you a dry husk of a human being, violated by a drab existence of disappointment and failure.
What are you waiting for? What have you got to lose? Isn’t it about time you got some of the bounty life has rewarded others with? If you don’t immediately buy this invaluable life guide and become a success, you have nobody but yourself to blame. I’ve given you everything you need to know. It’s all here, in easy-to-follow, practical steps even a mouth-breathing dullard can follow.
You don’t need to have any literary talent, or the ability to remain awake for long periods, or even the slightest hint of promise. None of that matters. I’ll show you how to get everything you ever wanted in life while tormenting the miserable sh#trats you hate, grinding their rotting bones to powder while you do a jig on their urine-soaked pauper’s graves. You’ll be a rock star from Uranus, a phenom, envied by peers, feared by enemies, and desired by wildly attractive sexual candidates you probably believed you were far too old or unappealing to score with. Nonsense. Once you have my book, the universe will open to you and you’ll walk the earth like a Greek deity, untouchable and unstoppable, your every desire instantly satisfied by a world that’s your malleable playground.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Russell, I’m not worthy of this magical gift you impart so selflessly for such an inconsequential pittance.” That may well be true, but again, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be deserving, or sober, or even ambulatory or with a functioning cerebral cortex. You can be a babbling loon and still be a gazillion-selling literary master – as the title promises, even if bombed out of your skull, or so stoned you’re hallucinating bugs crawling up your torso, or shackled to a metal post awaiting arraignment.
Blacked out on the floor of a truck stop restroom near a border crossing? Not a problem. Huffing paint till you’re leering at your reflection in the mirror, delirious from oxygen-deprived brain cells expiring faster than kittens at a pit bull party? Everyone has issues. Busted while doing 90 in reverse while lit up on moonshine and Vicodin with a naked 16-year old runaway bound and gagged in the passenger seat and your ex’s head in the trunk? Nobody’s perfect. All you need to do is buy the book. It’s that simple. I take care of the rest.
And lest you think I’m exaggerating the tremendous power harnessed within these 59 invaluable writer’s tips, I’ll even give you cheapskates a free sample. It’s not required, I understand, but I’m hoping that it stirs something inside of you, creates a resonance, and gets you to finally pull out of the nosedive your life has become, and take the one action that will change everything. Below are just two of the gazillion-selling author tips that will propel you to greatness. I guarantee you’ll feel empowered after reading them, and will already feel the magic coursing through your veins just by being exposed to them.
Tip #21 – Bombard Social Media with thinly-disguised product ads. Intersperse them with sophomoric aphorisms
I love Twitter and Facebook, and I know others do as well. It’s an opportunity to stay current on what everyone I’m following is up to.
I get thousands of Tweets per day, 99 percent of which are messages advising me about where I can buy the sender’s latest book, or sharing their latest rating for their book. This is invaluable, because otherwise I wouldn’t know where to look if I want to buy 400 books today.
And the best part is, they’re all great reads! The authors make that clear. That’s helpful, because otherwise I feel like I’m taking my chances. I find it especially appealing if I get the same 5 or 6 messages cycled every few minutes throughout the day – I know that author is particularly committed to getting the word out, and that tells me that if they write with anywhere near the level of commitment that they market, I’m in for a real treat.
But that’s not the best part. I also get thousands of additional Tweets offering comforting words of counsel – typically uplifting quotations from authors about the merits of keeping at my craft, and developing discipline, or offering grammatical tips.
And I especially love the 120 characters of philosophy I receive in my inbox every day – little nuggets of gold to keep me chugging along on my toils.
There’s a reason so many authors send out these kinds of product ads, interspersed with cheery “thoughts of the day.” It’s because people like them, and they work. It’s obvious. Otherwise all those authors wouldn’t invest their time in tweeting them.
So take your lead from what’s proven. Craft a number of compelling ads for your book, and then bombard your followers with them. Hire teams of Pakistani tech writers to create an automated “Bot” to send out Tweets on your account – I’ve found the sweet spot is around a hundred a day – for which you pay pennies per tweet. It’s classic effective Internet marketing. Through repetition, the consumer is familiarized with your product, and over time feels compelled to purchase. It obviously works, which is why everyone does it. Either you’re in the game, or out.
While Sirim and Gothar are designing the bot for tweeting your book ad, they should also have it alternate retweeting anything that’s a writing advice quote, and sending out motivational messages. My rule of thumb is that if it’s uplifting, your readers will see it as an affirmation, and everyone likes a little positive thinking in their day.
Tip #22 – Convert the discussion of any posting or dialog to a pitch for your product
Probably the best way to do “gorilla marketing” is to troll around discussion forums, blogs, and message boards, and then contribute or comment – but always skillfully moving the topic from whatever is being discussed, to a product pitch for your book. Remember the first rule of successful social media: Always Be Pitching.
As an example, if you frequent a blog and the topic is problem flatulence, you can chime in and find a whole new audience for your work. Here’s how that conversation might look:
“. . . . . . And that’s why spastic colon is a recurring problem, especially if you love spicy food.”
ME: “As someone who has friends and loved ones who suffer from recurrent spastic colon and problem flatulence, I can assure you it’s no laughing matter. No, just as in my new novel, ‘Back-Door Geisha Team Bravo,’ where colon problems can result in suspenseful yet hysterically-funny unintended consequences for a trio of Japanese secret agent femme-fatales, even when the outcome is a page-turning, rib-tickling yuck-fest that races to a thrilling, unexpected conclusion, the matter should be treated with dignity and respect.
Perhaps that’s why it’s received so many 5 star reviews and has been described as ‘transformational‘ and ‘uplifting‘ and ‘a roller-coaster tour de force that keeps the reader guessing.’ I have to admit that I feel humbled whenever someone with spastic colon and problem flatulence approaches me and congratulates me on ‘probably the most hysterical, yet edgy and unexpectedly-frightening novel of the decade,’ per TheInkstainedStub.com.”
Now do you see how that was done? First you express support and affinity for the topic, and indicate respect for the discussion. Then you find a common ground for introducing your book, and you expertly give readers what they need to know – you have a product, it covers a sensitive subject that is of mutual interest, it’s gotten rave reviews, and people that are afflicted with whatever it is that is being discussed love it.
Let’s try another one. This time, it’s a discussion group for battered puppies.
“ . . . So it’s important to get the little ones socialized appropriately so they can put this tragic mishandling behind them.”
ME: “There is nothing as sad as a small creature just starting out on the road of life, brutalized by indifferent or vicious owners. My personal feeling is that people that do that to cute little puppies should be slammed in the head with a board, then dragged behind a biker gang through cactus, nails and broken glass, just as the protagonist might do in my new novel, ‘Bloodthirst, the Quickening of the Gorgon.’ That character, Zandor of the Lost Tribe of the Forbidden Cave, takes on minotaurs, a malevolent troll-king, a coven of zombie-vampire-talking-werewolves, a fire-breathing seven-headed serpent protector of the hidden geode that is the object of Zandor’s prophesied quest, and a host of other villains whose brutality and preternatural savagery are only matched by his honor and perseverance – something that little hurt puppy dogs will also need to have if they are to enjoy a good life.
I just wish I could transport them all to the astral gates of Symbana, where the music goddess Rhana rules with her magical crystal flute, so they could play in the tranquil waters of lake Malagakesh with the frisky gnomes of Atticus. Then they too could be, what SwordsmanSorcererReviews.com calls, ‘. . . . . . part of a breathtakingly real alternative universe painted in masterful strokes by a maestro of the medium.’ I think that’s why people who’ve seen me at shelters helping rescue animals approach me and want to share that they feel transported to a ‘darkly realistic yet more hopeful dimension’ (per Princesses&Pythons.com in their two thumbs up review) than the one we live in.”
Okay, so what did I do there? Again, I feigned interest and sympathy with battered puppy dogs, and positioned myself firmly against those who beat them. Then I drew a parallel to my protagonist, Zandor, who also is against bad things, and punishes those who perpetrate them – so that makes me sort of like Zandor, for the purposes of this discussion.
I pitch the key elements of the story, and then wrap it back around again to include puppies, before ending with a review that will have buyers breaking their mice in a race to get to the Buy button. On that one, I also included a link to the book, as well as signed in as “Zandor,” including an image of myself in a black spandex unitard complete with green man thong, and a tiger-striped velour cape with a goat helmet.
Creative social media marketing can be highly effective. Before we move to some real-world examples drawn from actual blog and message board comments, let’s look at a different example of how you can move your mega-seller to the next level, using Russell Blake’s “Tap The Secret Marketing Dynamo Within ™” tactics for social media optimization.
This time, we have a CPA group that’s discussing trends in self-publishing – something I think we can all agree I’m an expert on, given that you paid for this book – and the topic is whether agents provide any value in the current evolving environment.
“. . . . . . Thus, it’s a set of challenges the industry must awake to and change with, if there is to be any industry left within five more years.”
ME: “Literary agents have long been valued gatekeepers of quality, ensuring that only the most deserving authors make it to the next level. That was critical in the old paradigm if continued access was going to be ensured for the agent, with only the best work being pitched to the publishers.
This is much like the manner the protagonist in my new action/thriller trilogy, ‘Sapho, Nymphomaniac Teen Ninja Assassin in The Ol’ West,’ protects the unwitting target of a brutal mid-1800s-era Chinese Triad kill team – a family of racially-diverse adopted children and their socially-aware same-sex gold-miner guardians. If not for Sapho’s dangerously-promiscuous yet well-intentioned defense of the group from the opium-crazed death squad, they would face certain torture and extermination at the hands of a savagely-vicious adversary in what TumbleweedNinjaReview.com calls, ‘The most spontaneous take on the nymphomaniac teenage ninja in the Old West genre we’ve seen this year. Packed with mile-a-minute stagecoach chases and protracted sex and fight scenes reminiscent of 70s icon Kung Fu crossed with Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but set in the California Gold Rush territory of the Sierra Nevada foothills, this non-stop action and suspense tale is a must-read, can’t-put-it-down thrill-fest from a brilliantly authoritative voice.’”
Much as Sapho has to deal with the challenges of pioneer-era Asian killers while satisfying her insatiable teen lust and protecting the lovable ragtag group of children, literary agents must find a way to adjust their craft so their clients receive value. That’s no small feat given the current transition from print to eBooks, which is akin to the seismic shift Sapho must have felt as she narrowly escaped being gang-raped by whiskey-crazed mountain men on her way for the climactic showdown between herself and the sadistic ‘Death-Skull-Scorpion-Hands Master Wu Chi.’ We all learned some new lessons in that chapter, just as agents must learn to adapt to a new business reality.”
Do you see how seamless this was? I almost feel like I should do a worksheet for you so you can create a diagram for your comments and messages. In this, I first touched upon the topic, expressed an opinion and familiarity with the issues, and then moved to my pitch. I demonstrated strong similarities so the reader could see the relevance, and then closed with a cliff-hanger. What else do you need to know? I mean, who wouldn’t buy that book now that they’ve heard the pitch?
OK, so a final example and then we’ll move to actual blog comments I recently published at the acclaimed http://RusselBlake.com blog – the site for all things Russell Blake.
This time, it will be a forum for single moms, and the topic is juggling daycare and a busy vocational schedule.
“”. . . . . . So it’s important that you balance the needs of your toddler against your needs. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else!”
ME: “It’s true. We see these sweet bundles of hope and joy, and want to do everything for them, but you need to take care of mom first, or the little ones will ultimately suffer. Just as the protagonist in my new novel, ‘PedoCop – Registered Sex Offender Secret Agent’ suffers over his compulsion to violate a restrictive restraining order and sneak within 100 yards of the pre-school playground. Sven, a forty-something cab driver-turned-CIA assassin moonlighting for the Russian mob, has a dirty secret his adversaries will use against him if he doesn’t butcher a school bus full of special-needs orphans on Halloween. The body count climbs in this race against the clock as Sven struggles with his urge to love, versus his mandate to kill. PedophiliaOnline.com calls it ‘A riveting racecar of a ride, that deals with a sensitive topic in a masterful way.’
Sven’s battle to control his drives and save the children is a psychologically complex tug-of-war fought against a dark inner landscape. As the plot to massacre the bus spins out of control, Sven must make impossible choices in a world populated by dope fiends, hookers, serial killers, mob enforcers, and a Santa Claus impersonator whose vicious psychopathology is bone-chilling in its ruthlessness. Children are our most precious assets, and if we don’t protect them, we lose our future. That’s what makes PedoCop such a ‘Must-read rule-breaking juggernaut of a thriller,‘ according to BetterBooksAndGuns.com, and why readers, including busy single moms everywhere, are buzzing about the shockingly-unexpected ending.”
I know, I know, it’s like listening to Yo Yo Ma play the cello. Do I even need to deconstruct this for you this time around? Let’s just say that now I’ve harvested a completely unexpected group of fans, and everyone learns something about themselves. Isn’t that what it’s all about, at the end of the day?
But what about the real world, you ask? How does it actually work in real life?
Let’s move to an example drawn from my response to a comment on the wildly popular http://RussellBlake.com blog, where the discussion was, not so strangely, a reader’s interest in buying the book you’re now reading, as well as how cool and generally awesome I, Russell Blake, am. Note the sly method I employ to segue from the topic (how great I am and how selfless my sharing of my knowledge is) to a product pitch for buying the book:
“I know, I know. How can I selflessly reveal all the secrets I’ve accumulated, and show others how to become a mega-successful self-publishing and self-promoting phenom?
I’m totally bitchin’. There. I said it. It’s out there.
But the point is, now you can be too.
For just a few measly bucks, you can become a one man (or woman, or gender-confused not as in hermaphrodite, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know, as in “I’m in the wrong body” or whatnot confused, or maybe just curious, etc.) unstoppable force of nature to be reckoned with. And you won’t have to waste any of your time on silliness like grammar, or word choice, or even having a discernible plot or being coherent. No, that’s all old paradigm! This is the new, new thing, and we’ll all be a part of it (me, more than you, given you’ll be paying, but not to worry, that’s just temporary)!
You can be the star in your own MTV video, with hot babes (or studs) gyrating to the crazy verbal beats as only you can create them, and you don’t even need to worry about the rhythm! I take care of it all for you, and show you how. It’s better than multi-level marketing. It’s more holistic than Feng Shui. It’s so easy and obvious even a slack-jawed inebriated dolt can do it – and I’ll give you the keys to the Ferrari that is your imagination!
But wait, Russell, how can that be? That’s information people would gladly pay tens of thousands of dollars to get. How can you give so much, for so little? What do you get, besides my laughable and inconsequential pittance?
I get the pleasure of a job well done, and the joy of watching others succeed. That’s really reward enough, although the private jet and the waterfront high-rise condo will also be deeply and sincerely appreciated.
This is your chance. This is where you get to step out into the spotlight, and get the standing ovation from everyone who ever told you (or thought) you were a talentless hack with no redeeming qualities except perhaps as a consumer of cheese and hygiene products! You will be a star. And you’ll get to do it at the direct expense of those you hate, or who simply annoy you! It’s an almost god-like power I’ll confer in the success-manual I’m inking even as we speak, and the power of the techniques and strategies I outline will have you at the top of the peak of ultimate power and accomplishment before you know it!”
Note that throughout this comment response, there is a subtle product message for this book. You need to read between the lines, but it’s there.
It hits all the notes you need to in order to get people curious about the product. It makes some promises, offers to solve a problem for them, and addresses potential Action Stoppers ™ that could stop the purchase. This is a classic way of introducing a product message into a dialog in a manner that appears to be responsive, but in fact, is an inducement to buy something.
I could go on, but that would be cheating those who actually scraped together the lousy $2.99 and bought themselves a new lease on happiness. If that’s not you, then by all means continue on your trajectory towards obscurity doing whatever inconsequential drudgery keeps the howling fantods at bay. Keep being a disappointment to yourself, your family and friends, and wallow in the despair that is your deserved companion to every waking moment of your miserable life.
You’ve been offered an opportunity, a way out, a shot at achieving all your dreams. Maybe you think it would be a better idea to buy a Haagen Dazs bar with the money and clog your occluded arteries with more toxic waste, in a sour repetition of the poor judgment that typifies the string of depressingly bad calls in your forgettable existence. It’s your choice. You can’t say you haven’t been thrown a lifeline to turn it all around. It’s there for the taking. All you need to do is hit the buy button, and you’ll join the winner’s circle. Soon you’ll be standing on a red carpet, rubbing shoulders (and who knows what else) with Alessandra Ambrosia or George Clooney (or maybe even a real celebrity) as the enraptured and abuzz paparazzi gore one another to get a snapshot of your lean, astonishingly attractive profile.
Or don’t buy the book, don’t take the step that will change everything, and tell yourself that living in a hovel with newspapers stacked to the ceiling and eighteen indifferent feral cats for companionship isn’t such a bad life. Scoot Patches and Mister Bojangles out of the way and shamble over to the decrepit sink in the stinking bathroom where you spend most of your days in agonizing pain from a host of horrific afflictions, and consider the bleak, thousand yard stare of a chain gang prisoner that is your reflection in the grimy mirror, and get comfortable with the knowledge that you’ve willfully thrown away your last shot at happiness.
Maybe as you pray to an indifferent creator to be struck down by something relatively sudden and painless, you’ll hear the universe reverberating with the clinking sound of an empty bottle of 1982 Dom Perignon that I just discarded after drinking my breakfast out of an exotic dancer’s shoe at one of several ocean-front high rise condos I maintain for my enjoyment, and will realize the error of your mistaken ways, and then scramble to buy the astoundingly powerful success guide that is making so many others’ dreams become reality. Or maybe you’ll trundle back to your battered La-Z-Boy, your shattered aspirations weighing upon your scarred soul like leaden malignancies, and die alone and forgotten, a bitter shell of possibility forever lost.
Personally, I’d buy the book. That’s just me. But do whatever you want. You know yourself, after all. And if not, best of luck digging through the local Arby’s dumpster scavenging for stale bread crusts the maggots haven’t gotten to yet.
You don’t buy the book, you’re going to need all the luck you can get.