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The Dream Rider Promotional Campaign

   

The Dream Rider is the first book in a new young adult/sci-fi series I am releasing in June of this year.  

I also write fun, fast-paced, action/adventure novels and currently have two on Amazon along with two short stories.  

The Dream Rider is a new venture for me.  I had the idea several years ago and initially wrote it as a movie spec script (those are only 20k words) simply for the purpose of seeing whether or not directors/writers thought the idea was a good one.  

After getting some tremendous feedback, I decided to write it as a book.  I've been working on it off and on ever since, but had other projects that had to come first.  The sequel to my first action/adventure book needed to be written along with two accompanying short stories (the fans demanded it).  

Now I'm full steam with The Dream Rider.  It is a story about a college freshman (Finn McClaren) who begins having horrific nightmares in which he is murdered.  He doesn't know the people who are trying to kill him but every time he dies in the dream, he wakes up in his dorm room.

Until he fights back.

Finally, Finn stops running and counters one of the attackers, killing the man with his own sword.  This time when he wakes up, he is in another world (Sideros) on the other side of the galaxy.  He is arrested and taken to a prison where he finds out the entire world has been enslaved in a communistic society by an evil emperor.  The emperor (Mallock) forces the worst of his prisoners to fight in the arena games, a gladiatorial fight to the death.  

Finn finds out that on Sideros, he has powers and abilities that defy human logic.  He meets Jonas, a fellow prisoner and trainer for a certain group of misfits.  Something tells Finn there is more to Jonas than meets the eye.

Along the way, Finn learns of the reason behind his power and the great responsibility that comes with it.

The Dream Rider is a story about facing fears, overcoming mediocrity, and accepting challenges to become more than what we are.   

ACTION STEPS

  • Start spying on best-selling authors and the descriptions of their books.  I love this idea and already did a stake out last night.  I got a lot of good information and was pleased to see that one of my books pretty much hit the nail on the head.  Of course, I will make some tweaks to see if sales improve.  
  • Rework Author Bio.  Just completed this.  I really liked the example from the video of Talli Rowland's  bio.  By modeling mine after hers, I was able to reduce my bio page by 60% yet create a much more effective "get to know you" experience for the reader.  
  • Taking a Look At The Cover.  One of my book covers was voted on by my readers.  So I'm happy with it.  The other one could maybe use some improvement.  For The Dream Rider, I am in the midst of my artist finishing up the last mockups which I will be presenting to a huge target audience (my high school students) to see which one they like best.  
  • Getting the Media Page Right.  I'm wondering if the bio on our website/blog should be different than the one on Amazon.  I've read some books where people say they should be different to a degree.  Hopefully, I can get some good headshots done today and create a good media page on my site.  I'm fairly familiar with this sort of thing since I had to create press kits when I was in a rock band.  Oddly, I left it out when thinking of book promotion.  Silly me.  
  • Media Angles.  I love this part and think it is absolutely crucial.  I didn't really consider writing articles for offline magazines.  For some reason, I thought it would be too difficult to get in.  Now it seems just like submitting guest posts online.  And the headline strategies are exactly the same.  Also, I've only landed a few guest posts out of about eight submissions so it seems like maybe the odds will be about the same, too.  So, here's what I'm going to do about it:  
  • First, I looked at my existing books to narrow down some possible media angles.  I came up with travel (since my characters go all over the world to interesting locations), history, archaeology, stress and stressful situations, ancient treasure.  With those things in mind, I was able to construct some possible headlines for magazines that deal with those topics.  These are just rough goes at it but could easily be tweaked or expanded.
  • For travel, I have:  
    7 Reasons you need to visit the Grand Canyon before you die
    26 Things to do in Vegas besides gambling
    5 Reasons You Have to Visit Ecuador Now
    8 Hidden Retreats That Won't Break the Bank  
  •  Some others are:  
    7 Historical Sites You Have to Visit Before You Die
    The 8 Most Intriguing Archaeological Discoveries of the Last Century 
    11 Effective Ways to Make Today Less Stressful
  • After going through that exercise for my existing books, I looked at themes that are in my upcoming release and listed them:  
    overcoming fears, stress and stressful situations, believing in yourself, confidence, facing challenges,  
  • Sign UP!  I already have a HARO account and have been included with several articles over the last six months.  The traffic I received from most of those was minimal at best, partly because some of those sites didn't have a large audience of their own.  I would caution people using HARO for only the purpose of gaining traffic.  While some of the larger magazines and online stuff can send you big chunks of visitors, remember that it is also about getting your name out there.  For example, I can say I was featured on education.com and any number of sites.  Also, making sure that you keep within the correct media angles is important.  I will need to sign up for reporter connection.  Never used it before.  :)
  • So, over the weekend, I went to Barnes n Noble and perused their magazine rack for Travel mags I'd never seen.  I found several I'd not heard of, some regional and some international.  I wrote down the names of the magazines and plan on reaching out to the people in charge to see if they'd be interested in some articles.  I also took careful notes of how each article was written and the headlines on the front of the magazines.  Not every blog or magazine is the same.  So it's important to note the differences so that your pitch can be customized specifically for that magazine or blog and its readership.  
  • When it comes to posting on my own blog, I only put up new content twice a month.  I feel like some people get annoyed when you send them something every week and it also takes a little out of the quality of my content when I have to create new stuff every seven days.  I try to take a page of out best selling self published author John Locke's book.  He writes what he calls Timeless Content and leaves it there on his blog for weeks or months.  When he promotes it to his readers/subscribers, they know it is going to be great stuff.  I think maybe he does it a little too infrequently so that is why I settled on the every two weeks model.  So far, it has done just fine, though I hope to start getting more traffic soon and in turn, more subscribers.  I've had several people tell me that the posts on my site have helped them through tough times, which makes me feel like I'm on the right track.
  • Book Description for The Dream Rider:   

What if your dreams were real?  

Imagine if Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins sat down together to write an up-tempo, action packed sci-fi thriller featuring terrifying nightmares, an evil emperor, a beautiful princess, and gladtiator games on another planet.  

That's The Dream Rider, the newest release from Ernest Dempsey, the author who brought you The Secret of the Stones and The Cleric's Vault.  

Finn McClaren is an average college student, mediocre in every possible way, until one day, when strange men try to kill him.  Finn wakes up in his dorm room to realize the whole thing was just a dream.  Or was it?  

The nightmares continue, forcing Finn to face his deepest fears until one night, he fights back in his dream.  When he awakes, he is not in his dorm room, but on another planet.  

After being arrested, Finn is thrust into an underground prison where the inmates are forced to fight to the death in the arena games.  While there, he learns he has incredible powers and of the true reason he has come to the alien world.  To save them from an evil tyrant.  

The Dream Rider is a fun, fast-paced, science fiction thriller that also asks serious questions about our fears, self-esteem, belief in our selves, and facing challenges in life.  

Week 2 Action Steps:

  • Time to sign up for blog carnival.  Seems like a useful thing.
  • Also downloaded the plugin for tweeting old posts.  Total money.  I've been doing this manually for a while so this thing should save a boatload of time.
  • I am writing two new guest posts this week.  One to submit to The Change Blog and another one for Tiny Buddha.  I may also write one for Jeff Goins and see what he thinks.  Two weeks ago, I got a guest post accepted for Tiny Buddha and it will be going live sometime in early June.  I'm very excited because I really enjoy reading this blog and it is similar to the content I write on my own blog.  Also, Lori has a large audience so maybe some of them will become readers of my stuff.  :)  

A few other tips for authors looking to guest post:  

Check out alltop.com.  It is a resource put together by Guy Kawasaki.  You can go on there and search for blogs by topic.  He has spent an enormous amount of time putting this together and ranks the blogs in each topic by their usefulness/popularity.  Sometimes Google does a poor job of giving you what you want in terms of finding blogs in certain niches.  Alltop fills in the gap and is completely free.  

How to find if they accept guest posts and checking guidelines:  Scan some of the articles to see if any are from someone other than the blogger.  It's easy to find this in the byline.  Then, go into the blog's about page and take a look around.  They will usually have a place where they talk about guest submissions.  Be sure you read the guidelines as every blogger has a different set they adhere to.  You can also check the contact page to see if they say anything about it there.  

When writing a guest post for a blog, be sure you have looked through the popular posts and understand the structure, flow, and style they are written in.  Some blogs prefer you to write a life story that illustrates a point.  Other blogs like list posts.  Some want one or many actionable steps for their readers to take.  Just look at what they've run before and apply it to something you can share.  Personally, most of the bloggers I have spoken with prefer to be pitched posts that you have already completed, not just ideas for a post.  So, when you pitch them, go ahead and send them the post.  And be sure to tell them that you wrote it just for them.  If they turn it down, you can always tweak it and submit it to someone else.  But never submit the same post to multiple blogs simultaneously.  This is a big no no.  

When you get rejected for a guest post, and it will happen, be sure that you thank the blogger for getting back to you and for the opportunity.  This opens up the stream of contact.  I got rejected by Tiny Buddha the first time and thanked Lori for at least reading it and for her comments.  A few weeks later, I sent her a link to an article I'd published on my site called The Swings.  I explained it wasn't a submission for a guest post but I thought she was the type of person that would enjoy the article so I wanted to share it with her. She was very grateful for that and the next time I submitted a guest post, she already knew who I was because I had established a relationship of sharing, not just trying to get her to use my stuff.  Now I believe I can email Lori semi-frequently whenever I have something to share and she will know it is quality.  Establishing this kind of relationship with people is huge, especially in a world full of people just trying to GET something from others.  

 action step:  Already watched Kimanzi's video.  In fact, that's how I found Laura a few months ago.  :)  Bang biscuit!  (that's a term of celebration like, woohoo)

3 Month Marketing Plan:  

Step 1:  Spy on best selling authors and use the download Laura's friend provided to craft a strong description.  Date to complete:  Done.

Step 2:  Rework Author Bio:  Done

Step 3:  Send out cover for feedback from subscribers:  Done

Step 4:  Get Media Page Up:  4/30/2013 with new Headshots included.

Step 5:  Figure out media angles:  Mostly done.  I searched through the magazine rack at the local B&N and took snapshots of all the travel magazines I'm going to query.  I also have a list of blogs to submit for guest posts, one has already been accepted with Tiny Buddha:  Mark and Angel Hack Life, The Change Blog, Pick The Brain, and possibly Art of Manliness.  Still looking for a few travel and history sites to write for online.  Deadline:  5/10/2013 for ten guest posts written and submitted to magazines and blogs.

Step 6:  Blogging Strategy:  Twice a month with deep, sharable, eternal content that people will find helpful a year from now or two hours from now.  Two emails a month to my subscribers.  

Step 7:  Sign up for blog carnival and submit posts.  Ongoing, starting May 1.

Step 8:  I Tweaked my Amazon author page to be more like what Laura described and what I've seen from other authors in my genres.  Done.

Step 9:  Commit to Twitter.  I use twitter three or four times each week to say something helpful to my followers or to share something from another user I think they'd appreciate.  Some is also from a personal perspective.  

Step 10:  Get on Quora and start interacting:  May 3

Step 11 (bonus):  Start a podcast.  June 1, 2013.  There are 450 million blogs out there.  But only 250,000 podcasts.  Still early enough to get in the game. 

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