Story Sprouts & The Online Marketing Symposium

Monday, January 20, 2014




Today, I’m happy to be hosting Nutschell Windsor, who is on tour with Story Sprouts. Nutschell has written about a fascinating subject, and part proceeds from the book are in aid of the Philippine Typhoon Relief Efforts. I’m also taking part in the Online Marketing Symposium. That post is further down the page.


Using Archetypes to Create Your Characters

When writing a novel a writers should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
-                                                                                           ~ Ernest Hemingway

Characters are the vehicle by which a story is told. We see a story through their eyes, and our perception of an event is colored by their thoughts and feelings. So it’s very important that we build characters who are three-dimensional; characters who are so real we wouldn’t be surprised if they stepped off the page.

Hemingway’s stories were filled with characters we could easily relate to, or characters we’re drawn to because we can connect with them emotionally somehow. Perhaps we feel connected to these characters because we can relate to what they’re experiencing; maybe we feel drawn to their vibrant way of looking at things, or because we can live vicariously through their adventures.

Whatever the reason, we can only enjoy the characters when we understand them in some way; when we can relate to the emotions and thoughts that make them human. We are drawn to characters when we understand their goals and motivations; when we understand what makes them tick, what made them the way they are, why they do what they do and why they feel a certain way about certain things.

I usually come up with stories by combining a concept, or a “what if” question with a character.  The protagonist comes to me with a complete history, a background story, a set of motivations and goals,  and a list of obstacles that prevent her from achieving them. The tricky part is trying to get her to spill all of these secrets. But once I finally understand who my character is, the story naturally develops from there.

One way I can understand my character fully is by figuring out the archetype he/she represents. Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, who wrote What Story Are You Living, define an archetype as “a universal set of roles, situations, and themes that are recognizable to everyone.”

Everyone consciously or subconsciously recognizes an archetype when they see one. Why? Because archetypes are the driving force behind the universality of a character or a theme.

When I facilitated the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles’s (CBW-LA) first ever Writing Day Anthology Workshop last summer, I used a series of writing exercises to guide the participants through the process of producing two pieces which were published later on in STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY.

One of the exercises we used during the workshop was called “Shopping for Story Ideas.” I passed around a box full of photographs of various shops and stores around the world to help encourage setting ideas, a box of conflict cards to prompt possible plots, and a box of archetype cards based on  Caroline Myss’s Archetype Cards to spark character ideas.

There are 80 cards in Caroline Myss’s Archetype Card set. Each card has a description of Light and Shadow (or good and bad) attributes for a specific archetype. The set also comes with a guidebook which gives a more detailed explanation for each archetype.
You can use the Archetype Cards or even just search the net for a list of archetypes to use as a jumping off point when creating your characters. If you base your characters on an archetype, anyone who reads your story will relate to the universality of this archetype and better understand what the character is about and what role he/she is playing in your story. 


 STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY 2013
·         Paperback: 240 pages
·         Publisher: CBW-LA Publications (October 18, 2013)
·         Edited by: Alana Garrigues, Nutschell Anne Windsor
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0989878791
·         ISBN-13: 978-0989878791
·         Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
·         Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

STORY SPROUTS 2013 ANTHOLOGY STATISTICS:

·         19 Authors

·         38 Combined Anthology Entries – 2 per Contributing Author

·         6-hour Workshop

·         10 Writing Exercises (included in Story Sprouts)

·         Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts (included in Story Sprouts)

·         240 pages



BLURB:


What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.


Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.


A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.


This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.



KINDLE & PRINT COPIES AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON. CLICK HERE.



LINKS:


Learn more about Story Sprouts at http://www.storysproutsanthology.com/

Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at www.cbw-la.org 


Find Nutschell at:









The Online Marketing Symposium is being run by Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins and Captain Alex. The concept is outlined below and the list of participating bloggers is here.

 “On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!”

With each book published, I’ve tried different things. Here are five (5) approaches I’ve taken.

1. Blog Tour - I’ve only done one of these, but it worked because I focused on various aspects of friendship (based on the book’s 3 characters) and did something different at each stop.

2.  Cross Promotion - I’ve worked with a group of authors, who also write romance and I’ve seen an uptick in sales. We’ve included each writer’s book on blog posts, tweeted, shared on Facebook and promoted the books up in our FB reading groups.

3. Prequels - I’ve done two of these for full-length novels and find this to be a good way of drawing in new readers. I keep the price low and the word count is approx. 12,000 and comes to around 15,000 with promos for other books included, which also help readers find more of my books.

4. Gathering Reviews - Using Story Cartel was a new approach for me. The site allows you to post a book for review. In exchange, your reviewers get copies of your books or vouchers. You choose. I didn’t get a lot of reviews from doing this, but that was because I didn’t do that much promotion. Of the 5 reviews I got, only 1 was on the thin side. Story Cartel is a good option if you’re looking for reviews to do a promotion on one of the sites that require a certain amount of reviews before they will take your advertising dollar.

5. Advertising - I advertised on this E-Reader News Today once in 2013 and it was well worth the effort. The site only took a percentage of my sales, which was reasonable. I've tried others that didn't work as well.

6. Yes, I know I said 5, but something that works for some authors are street teams. Now I know a good fan base is essential for this. These people, who are gung-ho about your books, will help spread the word and have the advantage of hearing about your new books way in advance. They also benefit from any complimentary stuff you can offer to reward them for their loyalty. I haven’t worked up the courage to step out and do something like this yet, but considering the changes at Facebook as it pertains to ‘pages’, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t scrap my fan page and go for a ‘group’.

I hope you’ve found some useful information here. In case you miss me, I’ll be visiting the other people in this symposium. Never fear though, I’ll get to you.

58 comments:

  1. I've never paid for advertising. But I'll check out your link, Who knows, maybe a few dollars spent will pay off.

    And good luck to Nutschell and Story Sprouts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never paid for advertising as well, but maybe once we gather enough funds we'll try E Reader News :)
      Thanks, Stephen!

      Delete
  2. Some of those ad sites work better than others. (BookHub is one that comes up often.) A street team would be cool, but I've not worked up the courage to ask anyone either.
    Will have to look for those archetype cards that Nutschell suggested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh Bookhub! Never heard of that but will have to check it out, Alex. I'm sure you'll find lots of volunteers for your street team! :)

      Delete
  3. Those character cards are a good idea.

    Sometimes advertising works. You just have to figure out the best venue and not waste money. Of course, that often takes wasting money to figure it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Diane! Advertising is a hit or miss thing, I gather. You won't really know if it works until you try.

      Delete
  4. Hey J.L., Love the idea of street teams. Great job promoting Chasing Anya. I've seen lots of it on the Blogosphere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I like the street team idea as well :)

      Delete
  5. Great tips! Had not heard of Story Cartel. Regarding Street Teams, I think these are a bit overplayed. I wonder if people are tiring of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never tried it before so I wouldn't know. But I think there will always be big fans who'll be more than happy to spread the word about a book they love.

      Delete
  6. Stephen, sometimes advertising works. Sometimes it doesn't, as Diane said, sometimes it takes a waste of money to figure out what works and what doesn't.

    True that, Alex. It takes a lot of research to make a decision when spending money.

    Diane. I don't think I'll be wasting any more money anytime soon. Another thing that has worked for me is putting the other books in the back of the current read. I know this because when I look at what people have read other than my book, there are other books by my listed as well. :)

    Kim. Thanks for dropping in. Glad you've seen Anya around. :)

    Liz, Long time. I don't have much experience with street teams, but I do know of successful authors who have them and have a good reach.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wonderful information! Thanks for sharing. I'll look into the Story Cartel, and want to learn more about the Street Teams. So awesome the Sprouts benefiting the Philippines!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Yolanda! Our donation might not be hundreds of dollars worth, but every amont goes a long way in the Philippines relief effort.

      Delete
  8. My weakest points are spreading myself too thin... I need to bring it all to one place. You share some wonderful ideas, having a plan is all we need and the follow up.

    Jeremy H.

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!
    [Being-Retro]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a problem for me as well--spreading myself too thin. I find that prioritizing is the way to go.

      Delete
  9. Wonderful thoughts and ideas. You've got my mind buzzing with new avenues. If only we could clone ourselves and get three times a much done, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crystal, I hear you! I'd go with cloning myself or having minions. lots of minions!

      Delete
  10. Wow! Lots of information here, JL! I appreciate the link to the E-Reader News especially!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! learned loads from JL Today.

      Delete
  11. Story Cartel is a new one. Thx for the info

    ReplyDelete
  12. Prequels - hadn't thought of it before, but it makes perfect sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Once you get hooked on a new world, you want to learn more about it-so prequels do make absolute sense :)

      Delete
  13. Thank you for the cross promotion, prequel, and street teams tips. I don't have many followers/readers yet so I may have to wait for a street team. My current debut is a short story at 12,000 words and I've recently decided to continue the story as a series, so it is kind of like a prequel except it will be considered book one. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chrys, that's great! Good luck and I hope your series does well :)

      Delete
  14. J.L.! Thanks for hosting our tour today.I'm thrilled that it coincided with your online marketing symposium! I learned some great tips from your post. I'll have to check out STory Cartel & E Reader News Today :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to have you, Nutschell. I hope they work for you.

      Delete
  15. I've got Story Sprouts on my to read list! And this symposium is a wonderful source of information!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think a prequel would be an excellent promo for your book.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've had good success with Story Cartel and E-Reader News Today too!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great tips Joy! Thanks!
    I'm doing the prequel thing too. Hoping it's worth it in the end. I hope to start a street team for my next book. I think a writers group that does the same thing as a street team like W4WS can also work.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm going to check out Story Cartel - Thanks!!

    Thinking about a street team seeing as how I've heard LOTS of buzz about them. The problem is needing that fan base to begin with!

    Cheers!
    Terri @ Scribbler's Sojourn

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks so much for hosting Story Sprouts, and for the combo post - brimming with great information on both the character and sales fronts!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I haven't tried E-reader news but I've put it on my list. Also going to check out Story Cartel.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for some good thoughts. I've set myself today to get through all the blogs on the hop, though not all are getting as much of a read. Some are very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great thoughts! I've heard smart paid advertising can really do some good things.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wonderful guest post, Nutschell! And great tips, Joy. It's tough to gather reviews, but they're very effective in promoting your book.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks so much to everybody who commented. If I haven't visited you yet, never fear, I'll get there.

    ReplyDelete
  26. love the compilation anthology!
    and great tips and links! thanks, woman!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I highly recommend the Story Sprouts book. Nutschell and her group did a great job with it and it's jam-packed with useful information.

    Your promotion points are all very good ones. Word of mouth is probably the best so the idea of "street teams" is a good one. Hey, I used world of mouth to promote Story Sprouts! A happy reader is one of the best sales reps you can find.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU Lee!! We love having you on board with promotions. Maybe you can join us for the next installation? We'll send you the date and location as soon as everything is confirmed!

      Delete
  28. Some wonderful ideas here Joy. It is definitely a learning curve for novelists.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you JL. There is very useful information in the post I didn't know, so I'll bookmark some of the sites you mention.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for coming by, Tara.

    Arlee, true, word of mouth does wonders to promote just about anything.

    Denise, yes, we have to learn so much once we decide to indie publish.

    Glad this was helpful Damaria and it's nice to 'meet' you.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you so much for your wonderful information. I am so new to the self-publishing world and your information has been a tremendous help.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great post, Joy and Nutschell! That anthology sounds really interesting. And I'm always gathering tips for promotion in case I decide to self-publish some day...

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'd never heard of Story Cartel, but I'll certainly keep it in mind. Thanks for your tips!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Joy, I'm trying to get around to as many posts as possible... and yours is chock-full of info....
    And Story Sprouts is all over BlogLand!

    ReplyDelete
  35. One of my favorite quotes! :)

    Loved your 5 (6!) thoughts on marketing, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Marnie, glad this was of help.

    Deniz, always a pleasure to have you here.

    Sherry, they certainly gave me a few more reviews than I had, but again, if I had promoted it more I would have gotten more of a response.

    Michelle, yes, I still haven't gotten to everybody yet but I do want to because of how important this is. Well done for Nutschell.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, E.J.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hadn't heard about Story Cartel. Thanks for sharing what has worked for you!

    Mary Montague Sikes

    ReplyDelete
  38. Congrats to the authors of Story Sprouts! The archtype cards sound really cool.

    Great marketing tips, Joy!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Interesting approach using prequels! I haven't seen that mentioned before. I haven't written my book yet, but love your tips and will keep this in mind! Thanks! Buck Inspire

    ReplyDelete

Don't be shy. I'd love to hear what you think.