Shocking author confession. I regret giving my book this title…

handy_book

A long long time ago, well longer than I care to admit, I had an idea for a book and the title just came to me. It was during that magical time when the words were flowing, and I believed that once it came out it would become a Harry Potter like sensation. There would be a movie of course, and tie in merchandise, possibly a musical based on the movie, and of course a loyal fanbase with a catchy name like the Locker Rockers, the Lockeristas, The Mob of 17, or The Sleeperinos. None of that happened. I know you’re thinking I’m delusional, but really it’s all because The Secret didn’t take effect. When does the power of positive thinking kick in anyhow? Can someone give me Oprah’s cell number so I can ask her?

Anyway, I put my book up for sale and crickets. I shouldn’t admit this but I am. Sales are not what I thought they’d be. Even the non-delusional version of me. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my title. The title in question is Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen. The same title that felt, so right, like destiny. This wasn’t going to be one of those books with a generic one or two-word title that sounded like hundreds of other books out there. This one was special.  So what went wrong with the title that felt so right?

The first problem is the phrasing of the words Rock’N’Roll . I am just sick of writing out rock’n’roll every time I promote. The punctuation never looks right and I have to tweak the apostrophes that surround the n constantly. It’s a pain, to be honest.  I’ve also discovered that people don’t really call it rock’n’roll much anymore. They call it rock, or rock and roll. If I had just called it rock and roll, I would have been able to get the keywords, rock, roll, and rock and roll. Instead, I had to be cute. I wasn’t thinking about metadata when this magical title came to me. My muse is not up on her SEO marketing I guess.

My second problem is that I wrote out seventeen. Yes, it looks better on the cover, but when people are looking for something numerical they just type the number. When I want to find my book quickly I do it too. I just type locker 17. That’s why if I had to do it over again I would call it Rock and Roll in Locker 17. Oh well live and learn, then blog about it I guess.

Oh and remember how I was admitting that my dreams of a movie, and a musical, and a fanbase, never came true. Well, I lied a little. One thing came true. You can buy awesome Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen merchandise here. Yes, there is even a lunchbox covered in flaming skulls. Until next time Locker Rockers.

Yet Another Blog Restart plus Email Marketing Totally Bites

Welcome to the refresh of my blog. It’s still named the Locker 17 blog after my book, which is rapidly on its way to becoming a trilogy, but It’s not going to be one of those blogs that is only about promotion. So if you are looking for a blog where every post is about how you should buy my book, you’re at the wrong place. You should subscribe to a mailing list for that. Oh, wait I don’t have one. I’m going against every writing expert’s advice on this, but the truth is I loathe email marketing. Sure, I’ve subscribed to the occasional writer’s newsletter, thinking I could use the occasional tip, who hasn’t? The thing is it’s never the occasional helpful tip. It’s a barrage of unwanted messages flooding my inbox 10 to 20 times a day. Even if it is only weekly or monthly, it piles up behind the 10 to 20 a day emails and gets lost in the promotion folder I never look at.

Oh and one more thing about email lists, once you are on them you are a commodity. I see posts that say looking to trade lists of email subscribers on marketing forums all the time. So once you are on one you may end up on 20 without your consent. So you’re going to unsubscribe, then I’m going to freak, out why is everyone unsubscribing? Do they hate me? Do they hate how my newsletter says the same thing over and over, buy one of the books I have out? Are they even looking at them? Oh, wait of course they aren’t. Lots of people hate email marketing. If they are that interested they will seek out the information themselves. So while I will probably go over to the dark side and start email marketing one of these days, that day is not now. You can relax, sit back and enjoy this blog and all of its new goodness.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way I’m sure you’re wondering what this blog is going to entail. What’s its new direction? Okay, the short answer is I dunno. The long answer is if I limit myself to one specific niche, I will never keep the blog up. I know I’m supposed to position myself as an expert in something and blog about that, but I’m not. If I was then I would be too busy, doing symposiums, and lectures, and creating snappy power point presentations to even have a blog. So this blog is going to feature nostalgia and news. It will also have tips, tricks, and brilliant ideas. There will be random rants about pop culture, tangents that have nothing to do with anything, the occasional confession, and random bits about things only I find funny. There will be no clickbait slideshows, I swear.

So sit back enjoy, activate the RSS feed deal if you are so inclined, and get ready for fun.

Oh and one more quick thing. I should inform you that I have a new book: Beyond the Music out, and I have a new edition of Rock’n’Roll in Locker Seventeen out. The kindle version now has a table of contents. (FYI: The Smashwords version is not the new edition yet)

I’ve also tweaked my website a bit. It’s not a complete overhaul but a work in progress because I ran into some complications. You can see it here.

How to Promote yourself or your book with a t-shirt

PromoteSelf_Tees

Today I’m going to tackle one of the cornerstones of self promotion. The Author T-shirt.

If you have the means you can print up a bunch and make them prizes or giveaways. If you are short on cash just make one for yourself. You can even attempt to sell them to your fans, I will show you how here.

Skill level: from beginner to photoshop master.

First a quick don’t.

I remember ages ago I went to a writers conference where they had one of those agent meet and greets. I remember one of the people in line was wearing a t-shirt with a photo of her book and a tagline like: buy this book it’s the best sci-fi fantasy dragon epic ever!  Now to me it reeked of desperation, and I don’t think the agents would be impressed.  It reminds me of the time I wanted to try out for cheerleading and my friend and I made homemade puffy paint t-shirts with the confidence that my artistic skills would show the coach that I had so much spirit I would make the team without having to show off my actual cheering skills. Of course I ended up dropping out of tryouts when it became abundantly clear that being able to do a cartwheel was a requirement.

So if you are going to put your book cover on a shirt all that’s needed if a picture of the cover and the title and author name. Nothing more. You can do this at a local printer, or a vistaprint or custom ink style of online company. Keep in mind that the jpg or png file you use needs to be fairly large. Don’t submit a thumbnail. You should have been provided with a decent size version by your artist, or depending on your relationship, you can have your artist help you with getting the shirt created.

http://www.zazzle.com/i_know_where_ricky_is_shirts-235968164441069514?rf=238044060588152607″> I Know Where Ricky Is Shirts
I Know Where Ricky Is Shirts by Locker17
Look at Rock and roll T-Shirts online at Zazzle.com

If you don’t want to hassle with the cover art at all you simply go all text. Again don’t be desperate. A simple: Parlor Tricked by Shannon Brown,  I love Parlor Tricked by Shannon Brown, or Read Parlor Tricked by Shannon Brown will get the job done. (By the way real Parlor Tricked is coming someday, it’s in the draft stage right now.)

So now you know how to make a shirt with the name of your book, but what if you want to get people to start a conversation? When you are at a book festival where everyone else is wearing a shirt with the name of picture of their own book on it how do you make them care about yours? You need to be creative.

http://www.zazzle.com/have_you_seen_ricky_t_shirts-235543486956797996?rf=238044060588152607″>

Have You Seen Ricky? T-shirts
Have You Seen Ricky? T-shirts by Locker17
Create your own custom tshirts online at zazzle.com</div>

If you have no design knowledge and want to go text only, there are many things you can do. Put an even shorter version of your elevator pitch onto the shirt. Add your favorite quote from the book, or try asking a question related to the plot. Like have you seen Ricky?, or Have you seen this wizard?, or who is Keyser Sose? (Seriously who is he? I don’t think I ever saw that movie.) Or you can take sides with a team so and so shirt. Make it Antagonist vs. Protagonist, or make it for a secondary character that steals the book. Got a love triangle? Team whoever shirts are perfect. Just think of the book Twilight. On sites like Cafepress there are thousands upon thousands of team Jacob and Team Edward designs clogging up the marketplace.

:http:////www.zazzle.com/unlock_the_mystery_t_shirts-235005675751677734 rf=238044060588152607″>

Unlock The Mystery! T Shirts
Unlock The Mystery! T Shirts by Locker17
Find other Unlock T-Shirts at zazzle.com

If you have design skills you can make t-shirts for things you only find in the world you created. Does your character have a favorite hangout? Make a t-shirt for it. It should be a place you made up, if your character hangs out at Starbucks don’t make a shirt for Starbucks. You will be violating their trademarks and advertising them more than your book anyway.

<div style=”text-align:center;line-height:150%”> <a href=”httphttp://www.zazzle.com/tiki_trader_faded_style_tee_shirts-235669274151197053?rf=238044060588152607″>

Tiki Trader Faded Style Tee Shirts
Tiki Trader Faded Style Tee Shirts by Locker17
Design cheap custom t shirts from Zazzle. </div>

The Tiki Trader was Ricky’s Stevenson’s favorite hotspot circa 1964.

The possibilities are endless. You may like the result so much you want to sell them to your fans. So how do you do that?

The easiest way to do this is not to print up a bunch and try to peddle them out of your trunk next to box of unsold books (Or is that just me?), Instead you should set up an account with a print on demand company like Zazzle. There you can have an entire store featuring designs related to your books. You can add the designs to way more than just t-shirts depending on which company you choose. The products are print on demand so they don’t get made until one is ordered. When a purchase is made you get a small cut. Not a ton but better than nothing.

The Locker 17 Merch Store: 

A few caveats: Print on Demand products can be crazy expensive and there is nothing you can do about it but lower your own cut which won’t make much of a dent, so don’t expect to make a lot of sales of the 200 dollar cornhole set that features your book cover. Most beanbag game enthusiasts would rather take a jigsaw to some plywood than part with 200 bucks. Most sales will come from shirts, hats and postcards.

When you make a store for something as niche oriented as a book don’t expect a ton of sales, unless you have a huge fanbase already. I haven’t really made many sales from my book’s merch store but whenever I want a new t-shirt for promotion all I have to do is order one of the ones I already have up for sale. Easy peasy.  Plus if my book ever becomes a Fifty shades of Twilight phenomenon I will have an edge by having your own store of official merchandise up and ready to go.

<div style=”text-align:center;line-height:150%”> <a href=”http://www.zazzle.com/cool_secrets_shirts-235450713475723315?rf=238044060588152607″>

Cool Secrets Shirts
Cool Secrets Shirts by Locker17
Make a custom t shirt at zazzle.com </div>

Finally a few more don’ts on author t-shirts

Don’t randomly take photos of the internet and sell them on t-shirts. Unless they specifically say public domain they are owned by someone. Even if they do say they are OK to use they are often not. So just don’t do it.

Don’t use [pictures you created with an app since they probably don’t allow you to resell the pictures you create in their terms and conditions.

If your main character is a huge fan of Metallica or somebody don’t add the Metallica logo or mention them on the shirt. Don’t add song lyrics, or other copyrighted material. Stick to stuff you created only.

Don’t pick comic sans or papyrus as your font. I personally think it’s annoying when design snobs become the font police and judge people for their choice of font, but why give them ammo. You want everyone to have a favorable impression of your book. Don’t choose an overly detailed font if you are doing mostly text because you want something readable. Just make it simple.

Finally if you are still out of ideas go check out the Harry Potter store on Zazzle or look up Twilight on Cafepress.

Like the post? Want to see more? Check out my book, Rock’n’Roll in Locker Seventeen  and tell your friends.

New Series Promote Yourself!

I’m finally ready to debut my new series on easy and affordable DIY ways to promote yourself. These tips are great for writers, musicians, filmmakers, or anyone else who has something to promote. You could even use them for job hunting but I am providing no guarantees there. Sure the internet may think an all chocolate resume is the greatest thing ever but HR people will probably just roll their eyes and not call you ever.

Why I need to stop going on Pinterest: A confession

I gotta stop going on Pinterest. Not for the average reason either. Most people think of Pinterest as the place where you see all the super hard recipes done to perfection and all the impossible craft projects and organization hints from people who make Martha Stewart look like a slacker. The place with the advice you can never live up to, Here’s the thing, though. That’s only true when you first start on Pinterest. Once you start following boards you actually like (Not the one with all the grey sweaters they recommend at first either) your feed will stop being all those 315 layer gluten free rainbow cakes, with the easy 75 step buttercream frosting.

In my case, I like retro things. A lot of retro things. That pic of the speak’n’spell? Repinned. The professor calculator? Repinned, Duh. The sit’n’spin? Repinned even though I’ve already pinned it 3 other times. All of these memories make me regret all the childhood stuff I lost over the years. This makes me want to rebuy the stuff. Now I could get it at the flea market, but they charge too much there especially if they know what it is. I could also get it on ebay, but that takes the fun out of the hunt, and I have to explain the packages to family members. So I go thrifting instead.

Before I enter I’m dreaming of finding so much 80’s goodness. The pink boombox where I recorded so many godawful mixtapes direclty from the radio, the other pink boombox I wanted but never got. A Garfield phone, some authentic retro hello kitty stationery from 1982, a lil’ professor calculator because I didn’t have one of those either…Then of course I get inside and they have none of those things. So I over pay for one of those baggies full of crap because it has a hello kitty puffy pencil box inside, along with a pencil, some soap and some flash cards, I don’t want. When I get home I discover the pencil box is covered in ink and only from 2004 so yeah, maybe not the best impulse purchase.

Every once in a while I get a better find like a Speak and Spell or a trapper keeper, but often I have buyer’s remorse. Like what am I going to do with this fisher price barn exactly? It has none of the little people or things that go inside, and I have no place for it. Maybe my niece and nephew will use it, though it may have weird thrift store germs. Also why did I buy this snoopy sno cone machine? It’s clearly a reproduction and I’m 90% sure it’s the one that got recalled, but still I never had one, and maybe I will risk using it. Where do you get the mix anyway? Oh and where am I going to put this stuff exactly?

So I swear I will not buy anything more unless it’s something I’ve really been on the lookout for. No more reproductions, or super common games you see everywhere, (Uno what I mean?) I will buy only the cool hard to find stuff that is worth money on Ebay from here on out. Of course that doesn’t always work out either. Like the time I found a Speak and Spell. Yes a 50 plus dollar score until I got it home and discovered the battery compartment was corroded and once I cleaned it out and turned it on it seemed to be possessed. Oh well, can’t win em all. This is why I need to stop going on Pinterest.

Here is a video of the possessed speak and spell for your enjoyment. I take no responsibility for any harm this video unleashes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFf4bl6kvLk

Coming Attractions

Coming soon: An epic post about trapper keepers, a funny online comic about game night, more nostalgia, excellent promotion tips that will help both the people who look at this blog, cool links, and more funny honest slogans. In the meantime check out something funny on my tumblr. Merit badges for cats! Because it’s about time they get rewarded for not doing all the things they long to do.

http://shannonslocker.tumblr.com/ (come for the view stay for the atmosphere)

 

 

A few observations about Lisa Frank

So Lisa Frank. I know I must have had some Lisa Frank stuff back in the day, I mean how could I not, everything I loved was encompassed into one line of school supplies, there were pandas, and neon, and kittens, and unicorns, and sparkles. How could I have not owned every Lisa Frank item I could get my hands on?

I have a few theories. One is that I was more loyal to Sanrio. After all they had Hello Kitty and those awesome 5 dollar mystery bags that had epic things inside. I got a purse once. A purse! Another is that Lisa Frank wasn’t really a brand yet, instead her stuff was just known as that generic neon pandas and kittens neon stationery. Also maybe you couldn’t get her at Hallmark stores and I loved Hallmark stores when I was young. They were my jam. Every mall needed a go to where you could stock up on Mrs. Grossman’s stickers and the Hallmark store was it. Drugstores just didn’t have the panache, variety stores were on the way out (and nowhere near me), and dollar stores were not yet a thing.

I think Lisa Frank became more of a phenomenon in the late 80s early 90’s when I was getting older. I was a tween and a teen and trying to grow up and hide my love of sparkles, unicorns and Garfield under plain canvas binders and the same Jansport backpack everyone else had.

Whatever the reason, I keep seeing Lisa Frank nostalgia on Buzzfeed and Lisa Frank binders going for crazy amounts on etsy and ebay. Now I’m thinking I should jump on the bandwagon, and see what Lisa Frank stuff I can find and sell, I know I’ve seen some at Savers, trouble is they keep putting it in those catchall bags along the wall. These bags always contain one mini Lisa Frank notebook, one Charlie Brown eraser with Charlie’s head erased off it, a scuffed plastic ruler that was originally a giveaway, 3 packs of flashcards, a broken stapler covered in mystery slime and dirt, some gross tweezers and a pinback button from the autoworkers union. The price on the bag is 7 dollars and color on the tag is not half off today. The bag must be purchased as a whole, but you can donate the crap you don’t want on the way out.

I guess I could  “accidentally” split open the bag on the sales floor and the Lisa frank notebook could end up loose to hopefully be rebagged with better stuff, but will it still be there the next time I stop by? Is it even a genuine vintage Lisa Frank mini notebook. I think they sell them at the dollar store now and it’s probably one of those anyway. This plan has flaws, serious flaws. I should just forget all about Lisa Frank and go invest in some biotech stocks like a regular adult. Hmmm I wonder if Lisa Frank has a stock. Now that’s an idea.