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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marketing 101 - Product Part 3

 Stephen King. J.K. Rowling. Stephanie Meyer Agatha Christie, Philip K Dick.

When you hear these names you immediately have an image of the type of writing they do. You immediately remember if you enjoyed their writing or not.

I’ve heard several books recently by fellow twitter writers. Some were very enjoyable (notably Dead of Eve by Pam Godwin and Light of the Moon by David James. As great as these books are the authors are not household names. Yet.
Young Stephen King
So how did the above authors become household names? If I’m honest, movies. And lots of sales.
How do you brand yourself without multi-million dollar movie deals?

David James (Light of the Moon)
Social marketing can help. Reach out to your existing and potential fans on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. And please, do not just try to pimp out your book unless you are aiming to be Vince hawking the Shamwow. Interact with people. That means at least pretend you care more about them than you care about yourself. Simple, short, sincere messages of encouragement or whit will get you much more followers than repeating “Buy my book” every hour on the hour. Proof? I gained over 400 followers in the 3 weeks without by saying “Hi, I like your website”. And that is after pruning away all the face twitter accounts.

Be specific. Find something you like about their work. If you can’t find anything you really like, say nothing. Silence is better than lying.

And you actually have to get your work out there. If no one reads your work you have no brand. I would recommend a bit of branding before the work gets out there so you have a base. That’s what I’m doing. My first book will be published next year, but I’m acting as if it is already published right now.

If your book is already published, support your fan base. Be nice to them. Respond to every comment, message, tweet or email possible. The more grateful you are (and appear) the more they will continue to follow you.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thale (Movie) and A Discussion on Bittorents

I love movies. I especially love original, well made movies. So when I saw the trailer for Thale on Youtube I was very intrigued. It said it came out in 2012 so I looked on for the movie. No luck. 

As a Canadian I have to say sucks. Seriously. Because of Canadian Content law we miss out on a ton of foreign films here. I prefer to see them in the theatre. Barring that, I’ll wait until it’s on Netflix. Unfortunately, our Netflix is s a shadow of what you have in the United States. So I looked to download the movie as my only option.

After searching for Thale on Pirate Bay, however, I saw this message from the films director.

It worked. 

I liked the movie on Facebook instead and saw it was being released in the U.S. in 2013.
More artists should take it. Instead of fighting the battle in court, reach out to your fans. Remind them of your hard work and your humanity instead of appealing to guilt. It really works.

Here's the link to the facebook account : Thale the Movie (Facebook)
Here's the director's facebook. Send him some love: Aleksander L Nordaas

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marketing 101 - Product Part 2

Now that you know the type of product you are offering, let’s focus on differentiation of that product. Differentiation is a fancy word meaning how can the customer tell the difference between your product and someone else’s product. Let’s be honest: there are a TON of books out there. The good news is it’s never been easier to get your work into the hands of customer. The bad news: all the other authors know this too.

So why buy your book? Three reasons: quality, features style

I’m not talking about whether or not you’ll win a Giller or Hugo Award. Quality means ability to satisfy a customer’s expectations.  Now if you’ve done your homework you already know what your customer expects. I believe story always trumps style (which is probably why I’ll never win a Giller); however, you still have to make sure the book looks professional. Watch formatting, page layout, and (for the sake of all that is holy) punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Again, if you’ve done your research you know what customers want to happen in the novel. Horror needs to be scary, romance needs to be romantic (which is not the same thing as erotic – that’s a different genre).

Always judge a book by its cover. Appearance matters, no matter what the self-help gurus tell you. Right or wrong, in business we learn that image = reality. If people believe something about you and your work it might as well be true. Bite the bullet and hire someone to design a professional looking cover for you. If the cover looks like crap people will assume the book is crap.  If the author hasn’t taken the time and effort to make sure the cover art is good the customer will assume they do not care about the fine details. Right or wrong, in business we learn that image = reality.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review - Skyfall (A Lesson for Writers)

I liked Skyfall. Really liked it. Mostly.
The action sequences are stunning and as much fun as you expect from a James Bond movie.  The actors perform with excellence. Daniel Craig delivers a complex, fully realized character and not just an archetype. His Bond has a very real-world focus making the movie more believable. Judi Dench is an amazing pitbull, a woman willing to make the tough calls without sacrificing her humanity. In many ways, this is M’s movie as much as it is Bond’s. There are even rumors she may get an Academy Award nomination for her performance

There is even an attempt at symbolism and subtext: the struggle between the old guard and the new guard. So I enjoyed the writing too….for the most part.

My biggest problem with the movie was the villain. Javier Bardem does an excellent job as an actor so I can’t put the blame on him. The weak link here is motivation. Without spoiling anything you couldn’t figure out from a plot synopsis, Bardem’s character (Silva) has a grudge against M. I’ll let you watch the movie to find out why.  I can see why he wants her dead. It’s just not believable that he would spend the amount of time and resources shown in the movie to kill her.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t feel real. Which means the writers didn’t do their job properly.

I’m not saying we need a Dr. Evil type villain for the movie. World domination is completely unrealistic. And boring. But he could have killed M or made her suffer in far more effective ways than he does in the movie. Seriously, if he is the type of man he is purported to be, there is no way he would go through all this trouble just to get to M.

Dame Judi Dench as M
There is a saying: a hero is only as good as his villain. Craig is my favourite Bond. I know that will immediately get me dozens of haters but it’s the truth. However, Silva is the weakest of the villains of the recent movies because his motivation so unclear.

So where’s the lesson for writers: do not write the villains as if they are the bad guy. Remember that every person is the hero in their own story.  Make the villain's journey as believable as the hero’s journey. And if you want them to be seen as scary, actually have them DO scary things. Don’t just talk about how scary they are. The scariest thing Silva does is shoot someone who has betrayed him. This does not make him the scariest man in the world. It makes him a thug. 

Lesson: Up the game for your villains and give them believable motivation

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Marketing 101 - Product Part 1 (Revised)

What is a product?

Easy answer: anything that satisfies a customer need. So what need are you satisfying? If you write fiction you are satisfying the need of entertainment.  Now look at your genre. If you are going to write romance, you should understand what people need in a romance.  If you're writing science fiction, you had better understand their needs.  Each genre has to accomplish different goals but they have one thing in common: not understanding the motivation of the customer (e.g. the reader) will lead to bad word of mouth promotion.  It will likely also result in no repeat businesses.

So let's look at the process a reader goes through when choosing a book.  Originally I classified writing as a convenience good. These are goods that are purchased quickly and with little comparison.  Then I saw this definition and changed my mind.

"A category of consumer goods which are bought frequently, quickly and with a minimum of emotional involvement; the category includes staplesimpulse goods and emergency goods." 
Source: Marketing Information Centre Website

I think we can all admit that purchasing and reading a book is a very emotional investment. So how would marketers classify a work of fiction?

Novels are Classified as Shopping Goods

Here's a quote from The Encyclopedia Britannica

SECTION: Shopping goods
A second type of product is the shopping good, which usually requires a more involved selection process than convenience goods. A consumer usually compares a variety of attributes, including suitability, quality, price, and style. Homogeneous shopping goods are those that are similar in quality but different enough in other attributes (such as price, brand image, or style) to justify a search...

Customers will likely compare your book to many others before making the purchase decision. Why do you care?
Well, you need to know your competition if you want to stand out from them. For right or wrong people will judge a book by its cover. Spend the money and get decent, attractive, professional cover art.  Would people still by Coca Cola it was sold in mason jars?


There is a generally accepted ranged of prices for books.  Falling above or below that range will alter how customers think of your product.  To cheap is perceived as being a garbage or discount product.  Too high will dissuade them from the purchase.


And here's where the writing comes in.  As writers we often think this is the most important thing.  However, if you turn away readers with a bad cover and an inappropriate price they will never get to experience your style.

Having said that, your style is the most important thing to improve repeat business (e.g. buying your subsequent books) and encouraging the customer to speak well of your book.  Spend time making sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation is accurate.  Consider taking a few writing classes or at least join a writer's collective like Suckers Guild or the Independent Author's Network.

You will notice there is no need for "substance" here, only style.  I'm focused on helping you market your product, not win a Pulitzer.

It's Not Just The Book - Market Yourself

Whether you are looking to become a household name or simply want to encourage read loyalty, you also need to consider “person marketing”. This means you need to market yourself and not just your writing.

Now you know how your good is classified. In the next post we'll discuss how you can use this information.

What is Product Marketing?

Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review - Dead of Eve by Pam Godwin

To say I was shocked by this book is an understatement. I followed Pam Godwin on twitter because I saw she was a fellow writer. And it just so happened her book was coming out. How could I not read it?

I was unprepared for how good it was.

At her worst moments in the book, Godwin writes with the detail and energy of Richard Laymon. In her best moments she is something more than that: original, vibrant and completely engrossing. This is not another Buffy Summers clone. Eve is a fresh and, like every one else in the book, I fell in love with her.

It's the end of the world as we know it. Because I bought this book blind, not even reading the description, I expected zombies. Instead we have something much more fun and original: human-aphid hybrids created through and act of biological warfare. Our protagonist is a woman named Eve who had the good sense to marry a man who taught her to fight, to shoot guns and throw knives. (For the record, this sounds exactly like my father). She is the perfect person to survive the apocalypse...except she has been emotionally crushed. At the beginning of the book she has suffered a loss that could destroy anyone. Yet, as the story progresses, she quickly overcomes her emotional trauma to become an amazing strong character.

Let me back up for a second. I'm not a fan of Superman-like characters. You know the ones I mean, the nearly invincible ones without any character flaws. That is not Eve. Her strength is completely believable and she has some serious flaws. She also shows incredible vulnerability which makes her moments of strength all the more rewarding.

A word of warning, this is an adult book. There is sex. A lot of sex. Maybe even too much sex (which I don't think a man has ever said before). There is also incredibly realistic violence which never strays into the gratuitous. So think twice before letting your kids read it.

Do yourself a favor. Stop what you are doing and buy this book. Read it. Do it now. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon: Dead of Eve

Here is a link to Pam Godwin's blog:
Pam Godwin

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review - Silent Hill: Revelation

Silent Hill: Revelation is a beautiful movie. The set design, the wardrobe, the effects, the makeup everything about this movie is absolutely stunning. Except for the writing and the acting.

I know, I know. Those last things are kind of important. One might say crucial. Because they are, unfortunately, pretty terrible, a movie that could have been very successful turns out to be...less so.

I really enjoyed the movie. However, of the people I went with, I was the only one that did. I rolled my eyes at how horrible Sean Bean was and I knew the film was troubled. Sean Bean is amazing, normally. But you can only do so much if the lines on the page are horrible. Unnecessary and contradictory back story and painfully pretentious moments show writers what NOT to do.

Still, I believe it's worth watching. I was constantly in awe of how visually stunning the movie was while also managing to create incredibly icky and creepy moments.

Unfortunately, Silent Hill Revelation would have been a much better movie if it was silent.

 Silent Hill: IMDB

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Marketing 101 - The Marketing Mix

My next series of articles on marketing is based on the marketing mix (also called the 4 Ps). Entire marketing classes could be spent just going over each of these. I'll be putting a new post up every Thursday on the Marketing Mix.

Firstly, here's a brief video to introduce the concept of the marketing mix (e.g. product, price, place and promotion).

I want to keep these posts short to encourage people to read them. Starting tomorrow I will deal with one one P at a time. 
 I'll end today with another quick video with Steve Jobs discussing marketing. Well worth the watch.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review - Rapture by Phillip W. Simpson

I bought this book because it was being reviewed by a Goodreads group I belong to (Apocalypse Whenever). The subject matter made me hesitant. I am not a Christian now but I spent several years with a fundamentalist Baptist church. Every Friday night we would eat popcorn and discuss the Rapture. I know the subject matter well and I wasn’t exactly eager to retread ground in fictional format.

But then something happened. I started to really enjoy this book. It has the same sense of mythology, magic and adventure as the Percy Jackson books. The only difference was the mythology it focuses on. The first few chapters for me were a little rough but, in fairness, that was mostly likely because of the mental block I had with the subject matter. Once I relaxed and pushed through my personal biases the book became highly enjoyable.

I didn’t finish the book in time to discuss it in the group. Still, I was not able to just leave the book alone. I had to finish it.

The lead character, Sam, is a likeable outsider. The action and the dialogue are crisp and fun. It has everything you need in an adventure book. If you are not a Christian or know nothing about the Rapture, don’t worry. You do not need to be a believer to enjoy this book.

I will definitely read the second book in the series, Tribulation, as soon as time permits.

For more information on the book and the series, visit this website:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Writing is Like Making Spaghetti Sauce

So i was cooking supper tonight after a marathon writing session. As I was making my spaghetti sauce I had this sudden epiphany that writing is a lot like making spaghetti sauce. Every single time it "tastes" just a little bit different, even if you use the same "ingredients" each time.

I'm working on the second draft of a novel. The experience feels completely different to writing the Council of Peacocks even though some of the elements are similar. Once again, you have a young man with magical powers. Once again there is a demonic element but everything else is completely different.  I didn't try to make it different, it just turned out that way.

One of the ways it's different is that the main character is a gay high school student. After he is beaten, nearly to death, by a gang of idiots, he summons a demon to take revenge. After taking his revenge, however, the demon wants to steal his soul. So the young man uses his power to escape. He teleports to alien planet, the same one hinted at in Council of Peacocks. And that's where my story starts.

I struggled with this more than I expected. In the first draft I down played his sexuality. During the rewrite, each time it works itself into the story I find myself self-editing. It's like I'm writing for Nickelodeon in my head. I can be in the middle of a scene and suddenly I'm thinking "What will Rush Limbaugh say about this?" Or even worse "Will putting this scene in mean my book is banned in high schools?"

Each time I ask that question I saw screw it. I have to stay true to the story. I'm not writing with a big political statement in mind. I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion on anything. But there's a story I need to tell and I have to tell it honestly. 

This novel will have a very different "flavor" than Council of Peacocks but it is the novel I need to write at this point in my life. So what if I through in a few extra ingredients this time. One of the best things about spaghetti sauce is that it IS different each time. Hard to get bored that way.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Friday, November 2, 2012

Worldbuilding for Activation Series

I am the first to admit I'm a tad OCD. Well, after the conversation with that psychologist a few months ago, I'm more than a tad.

So as you can imagine, I can get absolutely ridiculous when it comes to worldbuilding. In fact, what started as "I should do a little background building" quickly became "I should build my own gaming system around this universe.

So, I wrote 2 source books: one on races and characters classes (380 pages long) and one on fauna (120 pages long). On the plus side, I will never have to do it again. The universe I built is large enough that I can write in it for the rest of my career. On the downside, I probably could  have been writing more novels if I focused more on writing and less on worldbuilding.

I'm going to share a little of my worldbuilding. This is not just to show the level of my craziness. It will help fill in the gaps for those who do end up reading Council of Peacocks when it comes out.

The following image is from the Animal Planet website.


Skin Colour:                  Green, scaly reptilian
Hair Colour:                  None
Eye Colour                    Red
Number of Genders:      2 (Male and Female)
Average Height             7' tall
Average Weight            220 lbs
Longevity                      300 years
Noticeable Markings:    Scales may be clear green or rippled through with black and yellow flakes


Edimmu are a race of reptilian humanoids that evolved on planet Earth alongside humans. At one time they were worshiped as creatures of divinity. Those with wings are the foundation of most angel myths on the planet. Long ago, religion and public opinion change. They were no longer seen as angels but demonic creatures.  They were forced to hide in vast underground caverns to avoid extinction.  Unfortunately this move made them targets for the Orpheans who were also living underground. Many Edimmu were slaughtered and the rest were turned into slaves.  When the Orpheans were exiled to the Axeinus, the once technologically advanced race of Edimmu dug deeper into the earth and further and further away from human interaction.

Recently they have returned to the surface. Now they act as operatives for the Council of Peacocks and the agents of Orpheans who are active on Earth.

They tend to be hairless beings with skin similar to snakes. Some of them (01-40) are born with reptilian wings and are capable of flight (max speed 100 mph).  Others (41-90) are born with an ability to manipulate light and shadows. If they are capable of generate shadows they can travel between dimensions and across distances just like the Field Bending ability Shadow Travel.  Only a rare few (91-00) possess both these abilities.

Edimmu are capable of altering their appearance by manipulating the perception fields of those around them. This functions like a holographic illusion rather than true shape shifting. This ability can be used to look human (80% +1% per level) or like a specific person (50% +2% per level)

Rolls for Starting Statistics

90 +1d20




Social Skills


Street Smarts


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo
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