Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unique Marketing...

So, with new followers, new people messaging me and the like, I have a bit of a story to tell. Don't worry, it does fall in line with the title. I used a unique marketing tool at one point, but the idea belonged to my friend Jenna Miller.

I have to go back about 5 years ago. I was living in Tucson, Arizona and we were making the decision to move to Alaska. The job market in Arizona took a major nose dive.

At any rate, that is also around the time I thought I was ready to publish my book and began trying to figure out how to go about it. I didn't have a blog, I didn't belong to any writerly websites. I did have a MySpace page though...

I happened across Publish America. Now before I get into gory details, let me just say I met some cool people through PA, people who knew exactly what they were getting into and made it work for them. This is also how I met Jenna.

Publish America accepted me right off the bat. I got all kinds of excited and went to work doing what they asked me to do. I thought, at first, could this be too good to be true? No rejection? Really? But the more I got wrapped up in things, the further I pushed that thought from my mind.

Then my book came out. $24.99 was the cover price (gah!) and the first cover they did made it look like a bad Harlequin romance (Yeah, I know I will catch flack for that comment, too). The girl looked nothing like my MC. Did they even read the book? Then came problem after problem. They changed the cover, they omitted an entire chapter and said it was my fault, that I had signed the statement saying it was ready to go. More and more bad things piled up. I started searching the forums to find people who had similar issues. I didn't want to be a whiner.

I met Jenna in the fantasy forums. Seemed like she and I were the only two out there who had written fantasy, but PA's website listed tons of other authors. We couldn't contact any of them. We decided to help each other any way we could. She found the entire 3,000+ comments on AbsoluteWrite.com about Beware of Publish America. We started reading and we both just felt sick.

That mistake right there changed my writing and how I go about things today. But it helped Jenna and I. We made a group called Word Weavers. We had a MySpace page for helping other authors get their foot in the door and warned them of the dangers of not doing your research.

So what's this unique marketing tool I talked about? Author Trading Cards. You can see mine below and just to show you what a huge hit it was, here's the link to the online Trading Card Museum.

Now, I'm taking a huge risk here. I have to ask you, and it sounds REALLY weird.... DON'T BUY MY BOOK. If I make no sales, my contract ends that much sooner. I have found a legal way around my contract. What I am writing now is completely different, it isn't the same story. The title is changed and I'm using my married name as author. It can in no way be associated with what I have previously done with the exception of my characters and my contract ends in two years anyway.

So there it is. That is what happened to me, for the most part, that made me a better writer and more aware. I got super depressed about PA for a long time until I began talking to people to find a way around the contract and put this mistake behind me. However, there is a positive to PA. I wouldn't have met Jenna and the countless other authors she and I helped back then. Most of those people were super shy about writing and promoting and we helped them gain confidence. So something good came out of it all.

My name is Mel and I am a Publish America survivor. Ha ha!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've been warned! Like the trading card, Mel.

Ella said...

Oh Mel, I am so sad to hear this! Thank you so much for sharing your story, the good, bad and ugly! I so hope things work out in your favor this time! Thank-you~

Mel Chesley said...

@ Alex~ Yes, you have been warned! And thanks! I like my card too.

@ Ella~ I'm very confident things will go better this time around. I won't be getting a royalty of 7% or less... whatever it was. I'm only too happy to share this story and make sure new authors out there DO THEIR RESEARCH!

Thanks for all your support, everyone. <3

Jamie Gibbs said...

I love the trading card idea; it's awesome! Sorry to hear about PA though, hopefully you'll be able to stick it to them soon.

Mel Chesley said...

Jamie, I stick it to them every time I warn a new writer away from them. lol! I enjoy doing it, too. XD