• Tag Archives marketing
  • What’s in a Name? Web Domain Issue Resolved

    I have my own web domain name back.

    Forever ago, I used to own the APFuchs dot com domain name. I can’t remember what happened, but I forgot to renew it or something fell through or whatever and I lost it. When I went to re-register the domain, at the time, it took me to a lady’s site which was all in German. Sigh. So, in a pinch, I came up with the CanisterX dot com domain and used that ever since. (For the meaning of the Canister X name, please go here.) Unfortunately, to this day, the dot com that bears my namesake is still unavailable but, being the proud Canadian that I am, and after talking it over with author Melinda Marshall, it was decided I should get a dot ca domain, and so I did.

    APFuchs dot ca is now mine and the web domain redirects here.

    Why have two domains leading to the same site? The short answer is search engine rankings. The dot ca works to my advantage because I’m in Canada so it helps with Canadian searches. It also helps simply because it has my name in it. And, lastly, it’s just nice to have my name back. Regarding keeping the Canister X name, I’ve done so much marketing and linking with it that to make it disappear would be foolish.

    That said, for the interim, the APFuchs dot ca domain will link here to the blog. In the future, it might get its own site, one that will have a link to this blog but won’t be a blog itself. It’ll just be an on-line presence used more as a brochure than something with regularly-changing content. The Canister X blog is for that, so we’ll see what the future brings.

    As for today, before writing this blog post I posted a new essay to Patreon about how to write well every time. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re a writer. For the rest of the day, the plan is to work on a freelance project or two then see where I’m at after that.

    Hope everyone has a pleasant Tuesday.


  • On Being Swamped

    Last night, as I was winding down, I was struck with an idea for another massive project, one that, by it’s very nature, would be ongoing for years to come. I made a bunch of notes, but I had that famous moment where I thought, Gee, don’t I have enough to do already?

    I tweeted:

    “Why is it that I keep coming up with ideas for gigantor projects? As if I’m not busy enough writing books, making comics, blogging daily, taking and sharing pictures of my cooking efforts, marketing, freelancing, and trying to rebuild my life. I need to stop sleeping.”

    If I could indeed stop sleeping, that would free up 8 to 10 hours a day. But I also know that without a good night’s sleep, a person won’t make it in this world, and my years of functioning off minimal sack time are long gone.

    My plan for this massive project is to let it simmer in the ol’ noggin and if I’m still hyped about it in a week or two (or more), then maybe I’ll put it in motion.


  • On Moving On

    Note: This entry is from that file I found and is a reflection of how I felt at the time I was originally going to post it. I’m entering it here in the interest of archival purposes.

    I’ve spent a great deal of my career offering as much advice and knowledge I could about how this business works. I’ve given everything from writing tips to marketing ones to going against the grain in some circles only later to be proven right. Upon reflection, I’ve pretty much said everything I have to say about this business. All of it is chronicled on this website, my newsletter archives (and collected editions), Canadian Scribbler, and social media posts.

    I think it’s time to step back and let others discuss those topics and just focus on my own work. See, I love this business so much it upsets me when I see something poorly handled or writers being misled and I’m compelled to say something. I think that season is coming to a close now. Will it be permanent? I don’t know. But will it be for right now? Yeah.

    The Canister X Transmission newsletter archives contain info upon info and can be accessed here.

    Thanks for listening to me all this time, but it’s time for me to move on. Stories to tell. Pictures to draw. Books to make.

    Cheers.


  • On One Thing a Day

    We don’t always have the same amount of energy every day. Heck, some days it’s impossible to move and get out of bed. Unfortunately, not moving equals not doing anything equals being unable to move your career along. I’ve always maintained that if, at a minimum, you can do at least one thing a day—big or small—to move your career forward, you’re one step ahead of yesterday and one step closer to achieving your goals. You can get some writing or drawing in, or get some marketing done, or drop some books off at the bookstore, or anything else. Point is, just do at least one thing a day. That’s at least seven things a week, which leads to 365 things a year.

    Now that’s a lot of work.


  • On Writers and Emails

    Every writer’s inbox is different. Mine is sitting at 1883 unread messages as of this writing. Some are from fellow creators, others from family, others from friends, and others from fans. That’s just from people, as in, people who took the time to contact me. Then there are the emails that help me with marketing in publishing, emails on my spirituality, folks’ newsletters, and emails pertaining to my business. I’ve pretty much maxed out Gmail’s space since I’m an archivist and archive everything. To keep up with it all, all I can do is read my email when I can and, hopefully, eventually catch up.

    It’s both a burden and a blessing to have that many unread messages in my inbox.

    My favorite emails are from fans, of course, like any other creator.

    What’s in your inbox?


  • Why You Need a Newsletter

    The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    The Collected Editions of The Canister X Transmission Years One and Two
    This article was originally published November 28, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    The Internet is a painfully crowded place, especially these days. I remember in the late nineties when the Web was starting to take shape. There were some basic websites and, well, that was about it. Communication on-line was pretty much email. Now look at us—everyone’s on-line, we’re all shouting, and social media is the main form of communication.

    Unfortunately, there’s just too many people and these days, with every one and their monkey writing a book, there’s too many authors and it’s near impossible to get noticed. Sure, it happens, and some authors build a sizable and—keyword: pragmatic—social following, but for the most part, many struggle in this area.

    Newsletters bypass all the number games associated with social media, the whole like-for-like and I-follow-you-you-follow-me tactics, and all the rest. (Which are pretty much useless because those are about quantity not quality.)

    Productive numbers are where it’s at and newsletters, by their very opt-in nature, cater to that. Do you want to know who is truly invested in what you do? Start a newsletter.

    It’s focused marketing: sending out communication and information to people who have chosen to hear what you have to say. Actually, I don’t even like to use the word “marketing” in this case because that totally devalues the point of a newsletter, which is connecting with readers who genuinely care about you in return.

    Look at the word itself: newsletter. It’s a letter, not a brochure.

    Sure, your newsletter numbers might be smaller than your Facebook likes, but they’re quality numbers, which have more value than just a high like count. The people who have chosen to receive a newsletter from you are the same people who are more likely to get a copy of your book because a genuine interest in you has already taken place.

    There are so many ways to go about doing a newsletter, some of which are:

    ▪ The Plain Jane promo newsletter.

    This is the kind that only goes out when an author has a new release. It’s not about communicating with the reader, but simply selling to them. I find these shallow; see the newsletter work breakdown above.

    ▪ The monthly update newsletter.

    Typically something sent out once a month, this is the newsletter where the author says what’s going on with them, where what project is at in the production process and to promote a book(s) or event or something.

    ▪ The weekly newsletter.

    My personal favorite and the kind I run, which I’ll get to in a moment. The weekly version can be like the monthly one, just sent out weekly. Or it can be about creating a dialogue with the readers and talking points of interest, usually to do with writing or books or entertainment.

    My weekly newsletter, The Canister X Transmission—presently in its second year—has four main points: writing/publishing/marketing tip of the week; book/comic spotlight from my catalog; creator spotlight focusing on indie and mainstream creators who’ve impacted my career; rant of the week, which is basically a positive or negative thing depending on what’s been heavily on my mind for the past seven days.

    I also offer a free thriller e-novelette download if you sign up.

    The benefits:

    ▪ regular connection with readers who actually want to hear from you
    ▪ exercise in self-discipline to maintain the newsletter schedule, which then trains you to keep deadlines for other projects like, um, your books
    ▪ an opportunity to market work to readers without spamming, which can lead to sales options outside of the usual channels
    ▪ a chance to encourage and inspire others

    Ultimately, newsletters make the on-line world a smaller place and, frankly, in today’s obscenely overcrowded rat race society, it’s sorely needed. It’s a chance to quiet down, meet with a reader, and open up about what’s going on on your end. And you’d be surprised. Readers respond to newsletters with their thoughts, questions and more.

    Beats an overcrowded social media channel any day.


  • Why You Should Stop Selling Your Book (and Do Something Better)

    Getting Down and Digital DrivethruThis article was originally published July 7, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    Now, repeat after me: selling your book is bad.

    Very bad.

    “Wait . . . what?” you say. “If I don’t sell my book, who’s going to read it? Isn’t selling my book and making money what authors are supposed to do after publication?”

    I don’t know. Is it?

    If you want to ensure your book won’t sell, sell your book.

    Here’s what I mean:

    The on-line world is loaded with authors whining and begging people to, “Buy my book!” They form groups on Facebook, which amount to nothing more than broke writers marketing their books to other broke writers. They tweet purchase links all day and hit up social networks with ads . . . then cry at night because it did absolutely nothing for them.

    How do you get a following these days with everyone and their dog writing a book, publishing it and calling themselves an author?

    Or how does someone who starts from scratch come out of nowhere and move copies of their work without shoving it in people’s faces? (And we’ve all seen them: those authors whom we’ve never heard of move a gazillion copies.)

    To build a following, marketing your book will get you nowhere. Sure, you might catch a few sales and feel like a success story all your own—and rightly you should, to be honest—but to keep those sales going and to build a readership, you need to switch up your game plan.

    You need to start marketing yourself.

    Some people call this branding. What are we? Cattle? I don’t want a brand for my books. I don’t want my books to be what I’m known for. I want me to be what I’m known for. When I’m dead and gone, that’s the thing that matters, not how many books I sold.

    Stop chasing the almighty dollar and start chasing the reader.

    You don’t want to be known as that distant author behind a desk somewhere. You don’t want to be that high-and-lofty literary guest at some convention. You want to be that down-to-earth extra awesome person who’s a familiar face at shows and signings. You want to be that friendly and approachable on-line personality who’s a class act and is genuinely interested in interacting with their readers.

    “But all I want to do is write!”

    Then get out of the business, frankly. Or, if you must write, then don’t publish. As much as I’m an art-first-money-later guy, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to make a few bucks off what I do. The motivation to make cash isn’t to be rich, though. I don’t care about that stuff. I just want to make enough to live on. But I can’t do that selling my book. I have to sell me.

    Let me break it down for you in really simple terms:

    When you first started writing, you went through a lot of trial and error and a lot of drafts. As you wrote a few books, you noticed your style started changing and at one point you reached that magical book where everything was different and you found your voice. Since then, your voice has been your style. Writing is easier, editing is easier, coming up with stories is easier, too.

    This applies to your marketing efforts. You need to find your voice. You can’t just be another author spamming the world. There are ads everywhere for everything. People ignore that stuff. But they don’t tune out unique voices . . . especially if that voice has something of value to say. This is how followings are made and grown. You become known as the author “who’s like that.” Not the author “who’s like so-and-so . . . and a million others.”

    I’ve been publishing since 2003, and indie publishing since 2004. I’ve seen it all. People have come and gone. There’s been successes and failures. Ups and downs. Yet there is one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of it: the authors who found their marketing voice are the ones who are still doing well today, who have a following, and have cultivated loyal readers based on who they are and not just their work.

    To be clear, I’m not diminishing the importance of putting out good books. Sometimes that can indeed be enough to build a readership (i.e. it initiates word-of-mouth, etc.). But if you’re an author lost to the din of the flooded publishing world, writing a damn good book is probably not going to cut it. You need to get yourself out there and expose yourself to readers by showing them who you are behind the page.

    Some writers niche themselves and become known for a certain thing or a certain personality. Others are more broad-brush. Whatever the case, simply blasting ads everywhere isn’t going to do anything for you. But if you meet people, whether on-line or off-, and not just use it as a means to pitch them your book, you’ll be surprised at how many copies you’ll move.

    Put the people first, your book/comic/whatever second. This is so important. This about reputation and, at least for me, I never, ever buy books from people who blatantly shove it in my face. I don’t care how good the cover is or what the synopsis is about. As a reader, I want to be cared for. I want to know this isn’t just a money game to the writer.

    Art first, book(s) second.

    And if you’ve somehow missed the point of everything above, all I’m saying is be yourself, share yourself, then share info about your book after that.

    Connect with readers first, then point them to the page.

    We good?


  • Convention Basics: Five Tips to Make Your Book Stand Out

    c4displayThis article was originally published January 7, 2016 on the Operation Awesome Blog.

    With so many writers these days focusing all their marketing efforts on-line, they’re putting themselves in a corner and limiting their exposure. Off-line sales are where the bread and butter is at if you play your cards right.

    I’m talking conventions, which are basically glorified book signings.

    Since 2007, I’ve been tabling at Central Canada Comic Con here in Winnipeg, a giant comic book convention. This show is also a big part of my paycheck, and my books fit right in because I write nerdy stuff like monster stories, superhero fiction and sci-fi.

    A lot has been learned about having a successful show over the years. Here are some basics to get you started:

    1. Display

    Have an eye-catching display. When competing against so many other booths and tables, you need to stand out. Bring a tablecloth because not all shows provide them. Use signage, big ones, like 11”x17” set up on stands so folks catch sight of your book’s cover or what the deal of the day is. Want to really stand out? Get a big banner printed up, one you can put behind you. This can display your name and what you do. It can feature your book covers, a web address. Lots of options.

    By all means, lay your books flat if you want, but if you prop them up on book stands, all the better. It raises them above the table and draws the eye. Simple picture frame stands work fine. I use iPad ones because they compact better for transport.

    Have a series? Lay them out in order of reading.

    Write in multiple genres? Organize them as such on the table. Makes it easier to direct the customer to what’s what.

    2. Pricing

    Big sales point. Offer convention-only pricing. I do ten dollars a novel, five bucks a novella. I make sure the customer knows the convention is the only place to get the deal. Get my stuff at a store or on-line and you’ll pay more. Everyone likes saving money.

    You can also bundle your books. Have a series? Instead of three books at ten beans each, how about three for twenty-five? You can also do a buy-two-get-one-free thing. Whatever works for you provided you come out in the black all things considered.

    3. Book Stock

    Better to bring more books than necessary. Nothing worse than selling out and having someone want something. With time and experience, you’ll learn your top sellers and will stock up accordingly. For a first-time show, I recommend at least fifteen copies of each title. If you only have one book out, bring at least twenty.

    4. Miscellaneous Items

    Scatter bookmarks and business cards around your table. If someone doesn’t buy something, at least you can send them off with a card for a potential after sale.

    5. You

    Be courteous, be nice, give the customer the time of day. Don’t be a fake. Answer their questions honestly. Be active. Don’t squirrel yourself away behind your table. Say hi to people as they walk past. Smile. And, please, don’t do the lonely-author thing where you sit there staring at folks, the look in your eyes saying, “Please come talk to me.” Just be cool. Relax. With time and experience, you’ll find what works for you in your personable approach. Ultimately, be yourself. This isn’t a show.

    There’s so much to expand on regarding the above, but space doesn’t allow it. Why not sound off in the comments below and exchange tips and tricks with your fellow authors? I’ll tune in when I can and do the same.


  • Doing Stuff

    Been fairly busy since Comic Con, most of my time tied up in odds and ends all pertaining to this business: shipping orders, admin stuff, newsletter work, marketing, networking, freelancing, etc. Wish I could say I’ve been honed in on just a thing or two this past week and a half, but that hasn’t been the case. At the same time, getting these tasks done free up time for more writing and/or provide the monetary means to do so. Being a working writer means sometimes doing things outside of actual writing. But when I say that, I’m referring to the physical act of writing and not the mental act of doing it. I’m busy in my head all the time–pre-writing, if you will–thus making keyboard time easier and faster when I sit down to type things out.

    Anyway, this post is just meant as a brief update. More in-depth updates and book/comic/writing talk can be found weekly via my newsletter (see sign up link on the right). Don’t miss it.


  • Canister X Book Review #6: 1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers, 5th Edition by John Kremer

    1001ways1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers, 5th Edition
    by John Kremer

    5 out of 5

    This review is for the fifth edition of this book, though I suspect that the fifth and sixth editions are virtually the same save for a bit of info here or there.

    Writing a book is easy. Getting it out there is hard. It’s a challenge for both the big, small and self-publisher alike. 10% of your time and energy goes into creating your masterpiece, 90% goes into bringing it to the masses.

    In 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, author and publisher John Kremer walks you through step-by-step 1001 effective methods to market your book.

    This doesn’t read like a manual or some textbook. Kremer’s professional yet personable writing style keeps you interested and forces you to pay attention to everything he has to say.

    This book is so dense that you can’t just read it once then call it good. It’s a resource, which means it’s meant to be visited each time you publish a book so you can pull out some of the 1001 marketing methods offered.

    Don’t try doing all 1001 things suggested in this book all for one title. It won’t work. Kremer even says so in the opening pages. The idea is to cater to your particular book’s needs and find the marketing methods that work for that specific title.

    Kremer backs up his info with industry stats, gives examples of what’s worked for some publishers and what’s failed for others.

    Take notes while you read it. Even jot down in separate columns on a loose sheet of paper what ideas would work for the titles in your company’s catalogue and mark down the page number in Kremer’s book for each.

    This is a book every serious publisher needs to have on their shelf. More importantly, it’s a book they need to use.