Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your Book Isn't Selling? It's Not Your Fault.

Are you agonizing over your labor on Wordpress and Goodreads that yields next to zero sales of your book? Allow me to share some vital data from when I gambled tens of thousands of buckeroos on a comedy convention.

I used to say without any first-hand experience, "Marketing is spending lots of money and who you know." After Comedy Con, though, I'm not just shooting my mouth off anymore. it's a proven theory.

A little disclaimer before I bring you up to speed: I have no regrets. Hopefully, this article doesn't sound bitter. Rather, I enjoyed the ride. Living up to my mantle 'Gusto', instead of just talking big about something, I actually did it and I'm proud. But the truth is my spreadsheets reflect a devastating loss that would make any wouldbe stockholder bash me on Twitter. Don't shed tears for me, though. Uncle Sam will pity me enough and I'll recoup my investments. The lesson was very worth it and you can benefit from the lashing I took.

A while back, I mentioned my hiatus for pursuing book deals. I would continue to write simply because I enjoy it--which I have. I cannot stress to you enough how you better be penning manuscripts out of sheer pleasure because if you're not dumping every bit of your 'disposable income' into promotion, odds for becoming a day-job novelist are astronomically slim. Seriously, you're more likely to be struck by lightning. This, I learned from Comedy Con.

Do you have an author page on Facebook where you post announcements about your upcoming releases? No one sees them. I hope this gets your attention. Keep reading.

In the closed-office, introverted world of an author, it's easy for us to embrace the concept of marketing, but very few of us really do that job and it's next to impossible for us to grasp what a gargantuan task it is to sell stuff. After all, we should be focusing on story telling, right?

My idea for Comedy Con came about partly because of all the conferences/conventions I visited as a writer. As some of you know, I dabble in stand-up. Because I'm too stubborn to go on the road or wait in line for stage time to chase comedic success, I suppose it just clicked in my mind one day that there are no conventions for comedy, so starting one could be my innovative approach to staying involved with my humorous passion. I mean...we have superhero, horror, steampunk, and every other genre of convention, but not one for comedy. How could this lose?

Following the format for Denver Comic Con, I contracted celebrities from well-known funny TV programs to grace this little soiree, one of them was Steve Hytner whose face is very recognizable as the character of Bania from "Seinfeld." Steve is a great guy, BTW. There was an invitation for comedic themed cosplay. We had panels about the business just like comic cons. We even sweetened the deal and threw in tried-and-true performances. There was a gameshow with $1000 in winnings up for grabs. Well...ticket sales just sat there.

Here's the funny/aggravating thing that kept rearing its ugly head: Abeit with good intentions probably, people who observed the low turnout would tell me, "This could really turn into something if you would have advertised." Their assumption that I didn't advertise always cracked me up. I proceeded to inform them, "Good point, but we had an ad on the programs for The Greeley Stampede and Greeley Blues Jam. There was a coupon for discount tickets in the Greeley Tribune. KFKA  AM and 93.5 Pirate Radio plugged it repeatedly. The Best of Greeley magazine ran ads for it over three months. I bought marketing from The Greeley Tribune which included bus bench ads and digital marketing like retargeting, Facebook, and geo-fencing. The Downtown Development Authority posted it on the city events calendar. Greeley Unexpected promoted it with ticket giveaways. Every ad had a picture of the recognizable Steve Hytner. The Tribune wrote up a very nice article about the event. Altogether, I poured about 6 grand into marketing." That litany would always leave them pale faced, and grasping for something encouraging to say.

I hired a social media promoter and that's where I learned that your postings on a Facebook fan page go nowhere unless you take out pricey ads through their Business Manager. Incidentally, I hate Facebook now...although they have a right to free enterprise, they're very misleading.

The final evening of Comedy Con, Christine Lederman, DJ at 93.5, comedian, and dear friend said to me, "It's not your fault," and those very kind words jarred me out of my self blaming. My girlfriend pointed out how classy it was of her to say that.

Some friends offered consolation to me and said, "Maybe Greeley wasn't the best place." Well, to put things into perspective, In April, Jim Belushi was at the civic center (the same theater in which we held Comedy Con) and his program sold about 1000 tickets. Lots of comedy acts come through Greeley at said venue and profit, so, why did Comedy Con stagnate? The most logical answer is: Advertising. It needed more.

Volunteers, performers, and vendors all told me they loved the idea and wanted to do it again, but I also got the distinct impression that they didn't envision what the convention was all about until they got here even though the webpage explained everything. Again, advertising. When marketers tell you that people have to see things over and over, that is true.

Maybe Steve Hytner wasn't big enough. Possibly. This is what hurts my head with that argument, though: most comic cons bring in stars that I've never heard of in their first years. However, if I play along and agree, it just proves my theory again...who you know and money. Sure, Bill Murray, for a minimum fee of about $100,000, would have filled the civic center, but I would have needed a connection to someone who knows him just to offer the deal, and I still would have had to bankroll a lot of advertising.

Some officials with the city of Greeley pointed out to me that Blues Jam only attracted a few hundred people its first year, resulting in horrible debt. Last summer it pulled over 6000 attendees. Blues Jam has become so successful that it's now a Greeley institution. Comedy Con probably just needs time to catch on. Once more, that's advertising through slow word of mouth and investment to do it over and over.

So, fellow writers, you more than likely have some idea that the book buyer's market is tough. Just how tough is it? Well, consider my experiemental event in a state where conventions are as popular as micro breweries--an entertainment weekend that for all practical purposes should have been more marketable. The advertising (both free and paid) for Comedy Con wasn't enough to get it flying off the ground its first time. How many years and dollars do you think your novel will require?

Feel free to browse the webpage. Incidentally, although I can recoup the losses, I have no capital on hand right now to try Comedy Con again and find the answers to puzzles that plague mankind.


Friday, April 21, 2017

It'll never get old.

That kick of emotion when the first box of your new book arrives?

It'll never get old.

A sultry singer,
her hunky ex-boyfriend,
a kidnapped father,
and his priceless Aztec sword.
The chase is on!

A Serenade to Die For
Janet Fogg and David Jackson

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Nightly Met interview

"Gusto" Dave Jackson and Janet "The Kid" Fogg discuss their new Misfortune Annie series with Avery Anderson on the Nightly Met!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Serenade to Die For

To be released April 7, 2017 by The Wild Rose Press!

On the verge of her long-sought career breakthrough, singer Isbel Vargas has just completed the performance of a lifetime when a kidnapper demands a ransom for her father. Thanks to his car theft and antiquities operation, her father will be arrested if she involves the Acapulco police. Who can she turn to?

Isbel's ex-boyfriend, Cane Mullins, is once again south of the border, purportedly tracking down his beloved Camaro, a vintage street rod stolen years before by her father. Cane gets more than he bargains for, though, when he again crosses paths with the exquisite singer. Chased at high speed through the Sierra Madres, the former lovers search for Isbel's father and a priceless sword he has hidden away, the sole surviving Aztec maquahuitl, while sparks fly and passion reignites. But can Isbel trust Cane again...with her heart?

The Wild Rose Press link
Amazon link
Barnes & Noble link

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Where's Annie?

Thank you, Bookworm for Kids!  "With edge-of-the-seat adventure, this gunslinger heroine takes on all sorts of dangerous villains and shows the world just what one girl can do."

"I strapped on some chaps and spurs and sat down with the authors. They graciously answered a few questions." ~ Greg Pattridge of Always in the Middle.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's the Gusto Way

You can be cheap yet still be romantic. C’mon, you’re probably an artist of some sort for cryin’ out loud if you’re reading this, so use some imagination. Those who really know me will tell you I’m the cheapest bastard alive—a mantle I proudly accept—but I’m also efficient and effective. And the thing is: Creativity squashes money spent every time when it comes to amore…unless your conquest is the superficial type. In that case, this posting is not for you and good luck. I’ll float you some cash if I know you, but it probably won’t be enough. And you better have a sports car.

Let’s go over these in promotional package style. (I’m putting on a Comedy Con—will be posting more about it on here soon—and as of late, I’ve been pitching to potential sponsors with deals that you just can’t refuse)!

The VIP Working Man Deals: In these scenarios, you have some free cash to splurge a little, around a 100 to 150 bucks.

The trick here is to avoid being manipulated like mindless cattle. Dinner is probably the best option, but don’t go where you always go! Find a place with character. It doesn’t even have to be ‘fancy’, but it must feel adventurous. It’s this simple, if you want it to be spicy in the bedroom, the dining experience is the way to get the flavor going. Maybe you try something completely new. When you roll the dice like this, there’s a risk of the meal falling short of your expectations. Again, that’s okay. It’s part of the thrill. You can kiss afterwards and make it all better.

Another epicurean approach, again observing this budget is to simply get a really nice bottle of wine. You can pick up a bottle of Dom Perignon in said price range. Pop the cork with your sweetie and enjoy some white grapes and cheese with this sparkling luxury while watching the sunset…or sunrise, if you know what I mean. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

The Intimacy is More Important Than Money Deal: Relaxation is paramount in romance. At about half the price, these are the best bang for the buck. Wait, that sounded a little crass…

Get comfortable and rub each other’s backs. You don’t have to be a masseuse. You just have to be caring. Music, or a movie, and maybe a stiff drink are nice pairings with ‘stop-the-world-and-take-a-breather’ technique.

Prepare a special entrée for your honey. I’m such a lousy cook, it takes me an hour to make Minute Rice, but from my single years, I perfected a few meals, one of them being steaks. The first time I grilled them, I nearly singed my eyebrows off because I didn’t know how to fire up coals, but as they say, practice makes perfect. I grill them so well now that it actually fooled my girlfriend into thinking I was some kind of chef. But I relish wining and dining her. Oh, and here’s a trick with onions, guys. Everybody knows that a tough dude never cries, yet cutting onions can test you. The trick is to make sure there’s plenty of ventilation, direct a fan toward the kitchen area to blow the onion fumes away, and breathe through your mouth. You’ll make Superman look like a squeaky voiced adolescent. Then again, some ladies dig the sensitive type. In that case, leak all over the place and tell them about your beloved cats.

The Zero Money Option: Tell her how you feel. If you’re a writer, you should have this in the bag. Take the time to really get it right on the page. And that’s why I’m telling Julie and all of the world how lucky I am. She patiently helped me to find the way to true happiness—absolute appreciation of what I have. Everyday, I become a better man with her in my life. I love you.

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Stars of the Silver Scream: Halloween 2016

Greetings ghouls. It's that time of year to surrender your machinations for just a moment to heed my curse of required viewing and reading, burnt offerings that exemplify proper horror.
For you bloodthirsty types, just go ahead and return to your corner of purgatory. If I have to explain to you that gore does not equal terror, then you don't belong in this crypt. Go revel in your sanguinary satire while the rest of us feel a real chill to the marrow.
And our first fright may have single-handedly restored the crown to American cinema for horror. The Witch is elegant, authentic, and most of all, a cringe symphony. It begins by locking you in the 17th century, forcing you to listen closely to the archaic English. When religious persecution causes a family to be banished from their colony, the cruel frontier deals them much more than just back-breaking work. Oh indeed, there is a witch who will entrance you and an uncharted direction with disturbing revelations.
John Carpenter worshippers will likely spot It Follows as a tribute to the director, especially from the soundtrack. If you were a teen in the 80s, there will be no escaping the haunting stroll down memory lane from the style of this chiller. There's one caveat. It Follows is better than just about all the low Bs of said decade. The story gets to the point in the first scene then never relents.
Rated R, David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly gets all over your skin like a swarm, but has fun. Compared to Jaws which was rated PG, the insect tale is actually quite tame. By today's standards, you may even find it okay for kids, but I'd suggest only if they are in double digits.
After the People Lights Have Gone Off, a short story collection by one of my fellow Coloradans Stephen Graham Jones, is the creepiest prose I've read all year. You won't be disappointed...which means you might lose a little sleep. Keep an eye out for them slick shadowy things. And for heaven's sake, don't turn around too fast if you feel a hot breeze on your neck.
Ghosto Dave