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With a novel, why not cash in with five more wee spin-off books?
The easiest way to get more people to buy your novels is to tell a super tale, then expand that with even better tales, inflating your reader’s enthusiasm and their caring for your characters, their loves and travails, for their dreams or fears.
But you hardly need a blog to tell you that.
So let me suggest five more ways, spin-offs really, that can help you expand and deepen your buyers’ eagerness to buy more of what you write.
That is, add five or more small books that will increase your readers’ curiosity and sense of shared involvement, significantly increase your books’ sales, be gentle on your reader’s purse, and keep you and your readers continually communicating on the same track. Consider “wee books” (or focus books).
These “enrichment” books can be as long as you wish, but I suggest that 50 or so pages may be enough to sprinkle bonus and p.r. magic and still leave room for possible later sequels—wee book or focus book sequels.
Alas, the books can’t be produced too early unless you create a thorough, detailed, long-range strategy and outline that carries your books well into the series.
(1) one of the wee books might feature the whole portrait of the main protagonist;
(2) a second book could be about the other key protagonists (even a hint about characters to come);
(3) a third, about the focus of action, the setting, as it is currently in the book, its change over the past 50 or so years, how it differs from nearby sites, and how it fits into the other homes and towns and locations in that region;
(4) a fourth might be more a map of where the physical structures lie in relation to each other—or maybe three maps, of how it is in the current books’ actions; how it was, say, 20 years back, and again at some even earlier time, and
(5) a fifth book might tie in other books about the same general place and period, both fictional and nonfictional, providing a partially fanciful resource where the interested can learn what other novelists and historians are saying about the setting you are drawing from. That might even provide an opportunity to “fess up” on where your characters are true to fact, as true as you can imagine, or properly portrayed to their historical role as offered on your pages.
When might you do this—and why?
When? The wee/focus books could begin after the first book is out (you might start with book three or four numbered above) and they could be released between subsequent books as the grand tale grows in depth and spread.
The why is straightforward: you want your readers to turn into literary junky mice ensnared by your Piperish enchantments. Help them know more, faster, about the scenery, forests, pets, mores, history (that is too basic or distant to work into your plot), the cloth and dreams that cover and flesh out the bodies, souls, and spirits you create.
Casual readers become fervent fans when the all-embracing back story adds third and fourth dimensions to the words and actions you provide as your series unfolds. They will also spread their increasing enthusiasm to their book-reading friends.
In nonfiction, our firm’s wee or focus books (for K-12 school administrators) are secondary, support books 6 x 9, fast readers (ideal for ebook format), $3 digitally, $6 in paperback. (See an example just released, Rights and Responsibilities of School Principals.)
In fiction, the wee book concept presumes that the author has the empire to follow well designed, the actors fully envisioned, relationships known, and the locale and history well in hand—that is, the author has a book of prep material well developed before the first full novel appears.
Then it’s more an act of letting the horses loose to carry a growing horde of breathless readers from book to book. Plus a few, occasional wee/focus books to add more color, a greater sense of connectedness, a pass to actually walk the land, and a more immediate peek through the family fence.
Sound like far too much work, particularly for just a few bucks? It is more writing, for sure, but since you have a wagonload of facts, quotes to invent, and anecdotes for motion and purpose, it’s a shame to have the material at hand (or as created) and not share it, profitably, with the brave souls who want to read your fiction. If it’s well done, the more you tell the reader, the more she or he will want to know…(and buy).
P.S. In my coming newsletter, out the second week of September, I will dwell in far greater detail on nonfiction wee/concept books and how they can add considerable buy-in and interest in the core book they relate to. If interested, subscribe free.
Since my company produces products for K-12 school administrators, dentists, writers, publishers, and treasure hunt planners, you can count the number of sales that we have made to China on no fingers.
So you can imagine my surprise when a firm from Singapore emailed me that a person was interested in registering my URL in Asia (China primarily)–as their own! The URL in question is “gordonburgett”! Hardly an everyday phrase in any form of Chinese (or any other language that I know of). It’s my name, and according to the White Pages a few years back there were only six Gordon Burgetts in the entire country. (A Burgett was a town gatekeeper in the very olde days. No trendsetting there.)
A mystery from afar. The letter was quite professional so it wasn’t easily dismissed. It prompted three images: “a future lawsuit,” a “future shakedown,” or a fairly “sophisticated scam.” I looked at the website that the email came from and it said the firm had 100+ employees registering URLs. Impressive if true.
I checked “Asian URL scams” or “Chinese URL scams” with Google. Nothing. I was on my own.
The first email asked me if the person interested in registering gordonburgett.com was affiliated with or worked with my firm. I wrote back a pleasant no. And I asked why in the world with about a billion URL choices available in Chinese (or so it seems to me, who can’t read any of them) waiting to be used, why “gordonburgett”?
This is the follow-up letter I received yesterday.
Subject: CN/ASIA domain names & Internet Keyword
Dear Gordon Burgett ,
Based on your company having no relationship with them, we have suggested they should choose another name to avoid this conflict but they insist on this name as CN/ASIA domain names (asia/ cn/ com.cn/ net.cn/ org.cn) and internet keyword on the internet. In our opinion, maybe they do the similar business as your company and register it to promote his company.
According to the domain name registration principle: The domain names and internet keyword which applied based on the international principle are opened to companies as well as individuals. Any companies or individuals have rights to register any domain name and internet keyword which are unregistered. Because your company haven’t registered this name as CN/ASIA domains and internet keyword on the internet, anyone can obtain them by registration. However, in order to avoid this conflict, the trademark or original name owner has priority to make this registration in our audit period. If your company is the original owner of this name and want to register these CN/ASIA domain names (asia/ cn/ com.cn/ net.cn/ org.cn) and internet keyword to prevent anybody from using them, please inform us. We can send an application form and the price list to you and help you register these within dispute period.
My name is hot! My family likes fortune cookies so they probably suspect that the registry folks from Singapore have some special view into the future, perhaps they see a coming flood of fiscal prosperity, and somebody wants to get good footing before the green deluge occurs.
I’m not quite so certain since most of my fortune cookies say “You will live another day!”
So I decided to let my web server have the last word. His firm is much closer to China than California so he might have some extra insight. His reply? “This is just a scare tactic to get you to register domain names with them.”
So I’ll leave it there. But I’ll keep my eyes open for new airplanes, race cars, or yachts heading East to West bearing the brand name of Gordon Burgett. Thank God I got there first!
There may be a million things not to say when you are in charge of a program or ceremony.
Let me share a half-dozen wee comments that, in themselves, aren’t going to get you hooked off the podium, but, done right, they will easily distinguish you as a professional who is comfortable and smooth…
For example, do you know anybody who wants to be introduced last (unless that spot is saved for the highlight of the show)? Even worse, “last but not least.” Why not say “final” or “concluding”? Or if you are using numbers, like “first speaker,” “second speaker,” and so on, just use the number for the last? Like “Many of you may have heard our fifth speaker, …”
Along the same line, “We’ve saved the best for last…” Hmm, if I was speaker #3 of five what goes through my mind? I must have bombed, or whatever one does who isn’t the best…
Ever hear, “the one and only”? That does convey special esteem, but it also makes the listeners ask, “the one and only what?” Why not tell the audience why that person is held in such high regard, like “the fastest woman in the world, …” Even there “the one and only” may be one race from being inaccurate. Consider something less transitory like “America’s most rewarded Olympic Gold swimmer, … ”
How often have you heard that the speaker “needs no introduction,” then they are introduced (usually in great length)! Two points here: (1) surely there are folks in the crowd who have absolutely no idea who the person is, so you have to say something about them or their prominence, and (2) if you are certain that the coming speaker is beyond introduction, prove it. Save the introduction.
But you can’t just point at them and grunt or push the microphone into their hands. So a compromise. “____ is well known to most of us…” and complete the introduction with a concise listing of their accomplishments or honors.
Finally, you must remember which is the podium and which is the lectern. You are standing on the podium, your notes are sitting on the lectern.
A very good emceeing guidebook full of solid advice is Dana LaMon’s Master the Ceremonies (see www.danalamon.com).
Emceeing is lots of fun–it’s also alarming the first times out. The most important thing to remember is that the audience isn’t there to see or hear you.
P.S. Want to be an emcee for three or four hours, probably alone and usually non-stop? Give full seminars! Details at “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.”