Tag Archives: viral marketing

A How-To Guide to Breaking the Code of Viral Book Promotion

Earlier today, I ventured a little bit further into the shady world of viral marketing than I’m usually accustomed to dealing with. I suppose, it was partly due to my having an idle sense of curiosity, but also it was borne of my interest in boosting sales of my self-published novel, Missing Zero, more generally.

So, anyway, as authors, we’re all called on to build platform. Or a following or a fan-base or whatever it is you want to call it. Which is why we now all have blogs and set up social media sites and frequent writers’ conferences etc. Basically, whether self-published or otherwise, the modern-day author is expected to become a brand, just like any other corporate entity, fighting over an ever-diminishing marketshare of readers.

Whatever. Ok, now, apparently, in the dirty-tricks world of viral-marketing there’s what is called “white hat” vs “black hat” marketing techniques. These terms are used to describe the different approaches, say, to such things as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO being ultimately where you or your book ranks in other people’s google searches against you or your book’s name/title. Essentially, you want to be the first thing that pops up every time someone even just mentions the word google.

Like with most things, though, the way to achieve higher SEO rankings, for instance, can be realized through fair means or foul, and hence the terms “white hat” or “black hat”.

The same goes for most other aspects of book promotion. From blackmail through to shameless begging, you can bet every single author worthy of their moniker has donned a black hat in pursuit of increased exposure/sales, at least once (this week, if not this very day).

Hmm. Well, my “black ops” mission today revolved around a hundred or so QR (Quick Response) code stickers I printed out that were embedded with the URL address of where my novel is hosted at Amazon. NB If you’re not familiar with what a QR code looks like, I’ve attached below the one I’m using to promote the Missing Zero eBook hosted at Amazon.

The idea is that by scanning these codes with their smart phones, complete strangers are redirected to whatever web page you have specified on the QR code in question. In the main, corporations typically use these codes for promos and freebies, when they’re launching a new product.

You’ve probably seen QR codes on movie posters and information kiosks and the like. But increasingly DIY enthusiasts, like myself, are printing off their own “urban-guerrilla” versions of said codes.

In any event, by randomly sticking your own QR codes around interstate bus terminals or university campus cafeterias or sundry public thoroughfares, as I did today, you can virally promote virtually anything you choose. I felt like a veritable Johnny Appleseed, in fact, as I sprinkled the QR-coded seeds of my novel’s Amazon URL across the urban wasteland.

Of course, the beauty of a person being directed to the eBook version of your novel on their smartphone means they can then instantly also buy and begin reading said work of impure genius (namely, Missing Zero, in my case), in less than five minutes.

What’s equally amazing, though, is that you can actually scan the QR code at the bottom of this post right off the screen. That is, if you have a QR scan-reader app already installed on your phone. But don’t worry if you don’t, you can download plenty of free ones from the App Store (I’m talking to iPhone users, at this point).

But how cool is this? I have a 15-year-old fan of my Missing Zero Facebook page, who lives halfway across the world, in the UK. Anyhow, as a type of beta test, I asked him if he could scan the Missing Zero QR code I’d just uploaded to my Facebook timeline. And, you know what, within thirty seconds he’d sent me back a screen shot of the Amazon page the QR code directs to. The world suddenly seemed a whole lot smaller…

All right, so you want to see how this all works in action? Well, this is what you need to do: download a QR code-reader app to your smart phone (if you don’t already have one); then point your smartphone/QR scanner at the QR code attached below; then be astonished as you next find yourself at Amazon, looking at the Missing Zero eBook purchase/download prompt; and, then, finally, purchase the blessed masterpiece of outsider art, as you see fit! 😉

Go on, I dare you to give it a go…

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What’s in a Name? The Illuminati, Just Another Secret Handshake Club?

The all-seeing eye in the pyramid - Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum

The all-seeing I – Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum

A professor of law at Ingolstadt University called Adam Weishaupt is usually credited as being the man who first founded the Illuminati, on the 1st May 1776.

The original secret society that he created is also referred to as the Bavarian Conspiracy or the Order of Perfectabilists. And by all accounts it proved to be a very short-lived organisation, flourishing for less than a decade. It’s aim evidently was to infiltrate Freemasonry and thereby promote “freethinking” in line with current Enlightenment philosophy.

However, some social commentators at the time believed that this initial incarnation of the Illuminati was also responsible for orchestrating the events leading up to, and including, the French Revolution (1789-1799).

As an interesting aside, it is said that on reaching the highest level of this “oh-so” secret organisation members were finally informed that, “the only secret is that there is no secret”.

Anyway, what is strange, then, about all of this, is how the term Illuminati has come to now dominate our own popular culture of today. From conspiracy theories linking the Illuminati to every significant world event to have transpired in the past 350 years (the rise of Nazism, the JFK assassination, 9/11), to accusations of their controlling both Hollywood and every major recording artist currently releasing music (Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, One Direction etc) almost universally the so-called Illuminati are portrayed as being the evil masterminds behind a heinous plot to enslave mankind and take over the world.

On the one hand, Illuminati whistleblowers say it is the old money of Big Business families like the Rothschilds and the Rockerfellers which is behind such a plot. Whereas on the other, more paranoid self-appointed watchdogs, such as David Icke, argue that the Illuminati (along with its agenda of establishing one world government) is simply part of a millennia-old global conspiracy, being perpetrated by humanity’s reptilian shape-shifting extraterrestrial overlords so as to dupe us into submission.

Whatever the case, a great deal of fear has become stirred up in the minds of large sections of the community, especially amongst fundamentalist Christian groups it would seem.

Ironically, for many such Christians, the term Illuminati has become synonymous with the word Satanist. Why this is ironic is because Adam Weishaupt first founded his secret society as a way of propagating secular ideas and beliefs that were central to the Enlightenment thinking of his day. Meaning that he believed in the Devil no more than he did in God. In fact, he probably didn’t believe in either concept as being anything other than a superstitious leftover from a less enlightened age.

Misguided? Yes, perhaps, you could argue he was, depending on your own faith. But a Satanist? No. Adam Weishaupt worshipped reason and order over chaos and evil. So what is this legacy of his we have been left to contend with, this shadowy outfit he named the Illuminati? Well, I believe, the word Illuminati is a hollow name used solely as a marketing ploy by unscrupulous sellers of snake oil. Advertising executives and would-be, false prophets have latched onto it, in lieu of the term “Bogey Man”. Because, you know what, there’s only one thing that sells better than sex, and that’s FEAR!

And therefore as regards worrying about the actual existence of the Illuminati goes, my best advice to you comes by way of a very famous (non-reptitilian) terrestrial who once said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa (Photo credit: ama_lia). Lady Gaga plays “peek-a-boo” with her fans in the hope of increasing record sales.


“Come Up and Tweet Me Some Time” — The Internet Dating Game

You’re a writer, artist, photographer, avant garde jewellery-maker, part-time fashionista or whatever, and you want to court a following through the social media so as to “spread the word” about your product, yeah?

Well, ok, so let me break it down for you all…

Here are the 3 Stages of Internet Dating (within the context of wooing readers/followers/fans etc):

  1. Twitter: is for “chasing birds” — (flirting with your readers).
  2. FaceBook: is for forming more committed relationships — (foreplay/fooling around/possible fondling).
  3. WordPress: is for when you’re old and married and now wear your socks to bed together— (in other words, f*#king over each other).

Don’t believe me? Think about it. If you’re reading this WordPress blog at all, you’re only going to give me another 30 seconds or so to reach my point, before you switch off and start thinking about whether anyone has favorited your last tweet yet or whether you shouldn’t be updating your FaceBook status or whether a google search for free porn wouldn’t be a better option.

Go on, admit it! I’m not going to judge you. Just “Like” my FaceBook page before you leave for your dirty, little cyberspace stop-overs. Or better yet: why don’t you instead just “come up and tweet me some time”…@missingzero666Twiiter wink

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase


Attack of the Bloggers – Achieving Book Sales Through Social Media

Looking Back ~ 1958 ~ Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman

Looking Back ~ 1958 ~ Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)

One Writer’s Perspective of the On-line Marketing Game

I don’t know about you, but social media is a whole new world I’ve yet to fully explore. Don’t think, though, that I haven’t already started tweeting and blogging and posting etc, because I have.

You see, as a struggling writer I’ve been led to believe the Internet can provide me with a way of connecting directly with the reading public. So I’ve started a Twitter and FaceBook account and signed onto Pinterest, StumbleUpon and WordPress, as well, to name but a few. In fact, I’ve got so many accounts now I can’t remember all the passwords and usernames I’ve had to come up with.

Ultimately, I suppose my point is that I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing. Once I log into the various sites I’ve signed up for, I’m immediately struck by the fact everybody else is doing the same thing. Everybody has got something they’re trying to get out there. They’re all musicians, artists and writers like myself, or worse pyramid sellers flogging their e-wares! Each site is like a virtual market place where everybody is vying to be noticed so as to promote their cause, idea or product.

At its most basic social media seems to be a numbers game. Or so I have gathered. It’s not enough to have a fantastic book, independent clothing brand or jewellery range. You have to attract followers. And you have to attract them across a range of social media platforms. Or do you? The thing is, while I have 850+ supposed FaceBook fans of my novel and 600+ Twitter followers and such, as well as a presence on YouTube and WordPress and Pinterest and the rest, I’ve only managed to sell one eBook of my novel so far. This after three months of engaging in a bloody and relentlessly ruthless viral-marketing blitzkrieg!

Don’t get me wrong! I’ve also had a bloody brilliant time doing it. Along the way, I’ve connected with every kind of person imaginable from across the planet…

But I can’t turn these connections into a profitable business. Not yet, anyway. And I don’t want you to think it’s because of a lack of engagement by my various followers/fans that’s the problem. Quite truthfully, I can report that an alarming number of them have gone so far as asking if they can join the religion that I am obviously starting. No, instilling blind devotion hasn’t been a problem. Well, other than ethically-speaking, that is.

The problem must therefore be the product itself (the novel I’m trying to sell), I hear you say. Quite possibly. Although I would prefer to think the issue is the fault of the medium I’m trying to sell it through – the various social media sites I mentioned earlier. Whatever, my novel and these sites are not a happy match.

It seems the sad fact is nobody reads books any more, I’m convinced of it. Twitter, for instance, only allows its users 450 characters at a time to get their ideas across. And I think this is a reflection of the concentration span of most people today. We’ve all got so many things competing for our attention every day that any block of words over 450 characters seems to us like an epic on the scale of War and Peace. Meaning that I can sell people on the idea of my novel (over and over again); but I can’t make anybody buy it, because they know they will never find the time to read it.

The end of Western civilisation as we know it? Not likely.The end of the novel? Who cares? Nobody but us unsigned writer-folk living in the cyber-fringes desperate for a sale. And you know what? Maybe it’s time we all learnt to lol at ourselves a whole lot more anyway, before then simply sitting back and enjoying the ride! 😉 The future is now, right?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Join me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/missingzero666