Sunday, September 26, 2010

Collaboration





There are a lot of long-held beliefs about artists that get in our way.  For me, one of the worst of them is the idea of the artist as an anti-social lone voice in the wilderness.

We see the genius, hard at his or her work, despised by all others, fighting against all odds to eventually triumph over the forces of "normality" and ignorance--many times after their tragic death.  It's lonely.  It's a battle.  It's epic.

It's kinda silly.

I've used Shakespeare before as an example.  I'm going to do so again, humbly begging your pardon while doing so.  Yes, I think Shakespeare was a genius.  No, I don't think you need to in order to understand what I'm talking about.

Whether or not you enjoy Shakespeare's works, he gives us a model we can look to.  He was a writer.  He was very successful during his own lifetime (in spite of what you may have heard).  He collaborated.

Shakespeare collaborated with other great writers of his day, most notably Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Fletcher.  My guess is that he learned something from each person he worked with, and I'm certain they learned something from him.

Our process doesn't have to be lonely or in the dark.  Working with someone else can elevate our writing, but it can also help us to identify our weaknesses, bringing them into stark relief.  Once we see them (usually one of the biggest problems artists have while viewing their own work), we can do something about fixing them.

The other thing it can do is to double our audience.  You bring yours and I'll bring mine, and together we can put on quite a party.

@IndieBookIBC is taking that kind of thinking to the next level.  It's a marketing collective for all you writers out there.  If you haven't done it already, you need to check that stream out.  In addition, the work we (Zero to Sold) do for writers, filmmakers and screenwriters...creating trailers, cover/poster art and press kits...is another type of collaboration that is truly a win-win.  Go take a look at www.ztspromotions.com to see some examples of how we can work together to really get your work out in the public eye.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Indie Book Collective


So, you're a writer.  You have written, or are writing, or are about to write a novel.  You have now, or are seeking, or hope to one day obtain a publishing deal.  You are in the process of, or are preparing for, or are thinking about selling many many many copies of your book.

In other words, you need the Indie Book Collective.

Let's be honest with each other.  Unless you're a name author (and as flattering as it would be to think a name author is following my blog, I like to keep it real), selling your novel is tough.  You may be able to get it polished, packaged and ready to go with a fair amount of work and a fairly steep learning curve.  But selling lots of copies?  You're going to need some help.

Even if you have a traditional publishing deal, the house simply is not going to pony up the marketing budget for a beginning writer.  You need to make it happen yourself.  That's where the Collective comes in.

The Indie Book Collective had a wonderfully successful launch last Monday (9/13), but we're trying to get the word out to every writer that's serious about promoting.

The IBC is a group of writers, from both traditional publishing house and indie digital markets.  We promote our novels through a combination of social media platforms and brick-and-mortar bookstores.  We're getting our stuff out there!

How are we doing it?  Well, it's too involved to give you all the details here, but you can go to the website to get the whole picture.  Also, if you're on Twitter (and if you aren't, you should be), follow @IndieBookIBC.  But the snapshot is this:  cross-promotion.

The essence of cross-promotion is that if people like your book they may like mine...as well as the reverse.  Add in a bunch of other writers, and all of the sudden we're reaching a vastly greater number of potential readers.

The core members of the Collective are all successful indie writers themselves that have already stumbled through the process on their own.  Now, they're sharing information with you, so that your process can be much smoother.

So go to the website.  Follow the stream.  Get on board the Collective train.

'Cuz, baby, this engine's going somewhere fast, and you'll want to be along for the ride!

Oh, and just to get a little idea of what the Collective can help do for you...check out Plain Jane here at Smashwords.  Watch the trailer, listen to the excerpt and read 50 pages for free before you purchase!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going out on a Limb...or Maybe Not


At some point, it seems that many artists get to a crossroads.  It seems painful or traumatic...usually somewhat epic, but it feels like life asks us to make a decision about whether or not we're going to live by our art.

It usually takes the form of having to choose between keeping our full-time job and continuing our creative work (that in these moments normally doesn't pay well enough for us to quit our full-time jobs).  We feel stuck.  Our focus is more and more on our art and less and less on our paying gig.  Our boss notices.  Things reach a head.

So, first things first.  If you're not there, you don't have to get there.  I truly believe that a good portion of this is our subconscious trying to scuttle the whole "living by our art" thing.  Most of us have some pretty negative voices in our heads about that whole deal, and success isn't really part of it.

In other words, focusing on our art is not an excuse for checking out of our "real" jobs.  They're paying the bills.  Writing or filming or painting or acting or whatever it is that you're doing is MUCH easier with the bills paid.  Period.

Now, if you do find yourself in this position, don't panic.  Stop.  Breathe.  Life isn't necessarily asking you to make a choice between these two things.  Before you storm out in a huff, yelling back over your shoulder that you'll succeed or starve, remember that starving does strange things to the creative process...not many of them good.

Find the third option.  It's not a compromise.  It's not trying to reconcile the two seemingly opposing choices.  It's finding a way forward that honors our need to survive but also recognizes our desire to create.

I'm not saying you should never give up that day job.  I'm just saying to stop and breathe before you make a rash decision.  We should never make a decision based on fear.  Giving up our art so that we can survive is a fear-based decision.  Storming out of the day-job so we can "suffer for our art" is too.  Art doesn't demand our suffering.  It may ask for us to be more creative in how we manage our lives, but it doesn't want us to be in pain.

So, maybe instead of going out on that limb, we can climb back down the tree, go inside and fix ourselves a nice cup of hot chocolate...as we sit down to begin creating again.  'Cause that day job starts early, and we do need our beauty sleep. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art

What makes art...well...art?

We spend a lot of time as creatives trying to improve our craft, seeking to sell our product, looking to live by our art.  But do we know what actually makes it art?

There are so many different (many times seemingly opposing) views of what makes good art.  Two people can watch the exact same film, read the same novel, stare at the same painting and walk away with two completely different opinions of what they've just experienced.

And that's how it's supposed to be, right?

Because, for me, art is the ultimate in individual expression.  I think that's what art ultimately is.  It's an extension of who we really are on the inside.

That extension can be touching, shocking, revolting, empowering or even titillating to us, but when it's honest and connected, it will move us in one way or another.  That's what good art does.  It's one person reaching out and touching another.

And when we experience it, we can't help but be changed by it.

So how do we create art?  I think part of the process is simply doing it.  Over and over again.

When we start, our work is usually pretty derivative.  We're mimicking what we've seen others do.  We liked it and want to repeat it.

Eventually that doesn't satisfy, so we start digging deeper.  We start delving into the "how" of our craft.  What do I have to do to make a story compelling?  What can I do to make a character more believable?  How can I craft a film to engage an audience?

We immerse ourselves in the nuts and bolts of what we're doing.  We spend time with it, we make mistakes with it, we occasionally obsess about it.  And it gets into our bones.

And then, at some point, we realize we're stuck in the minutiae.  We're bogged down by craft.  We've lost our joy.

Really, we've lost ourselves.

And so, hopefully, we rediscover who we are.  We develop our "voice" (which we've actually been developing all along).  We let go of the tediousness of the craft and just trust that it'll be there for us.  Sure, we check in during moments of trouble, but we relax and allow ourselves to come through.

And brilliance starts to happen.

Now, I can't say that this is everyone's process.  I can only say that it's been mine so far.  I imagine there are lots more stages along the way, and I think that's exciting.

Because that's another thing about art--it's ever-evolving, just as I hope to be.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fear

Well, we've gone through, at least briefly, all the steps of self-publishing our novel over the last few weeks.  Fun.  Good times.  Right.

Now then.  What have we actually done about it?

If the answer is, "I have followed all your advice except for the parts where I had an idea about how to do it better," then you're doing just fine.

If the answer is somewhat less than that, the question is, "Why?"  We want to sell our novel, right?

Well, therein lies the problem.  It's one that I've talked about before.  I've even addressed it in the blogs leading up to this one.

Fear.

It's the big bugaboo.  It's the boogeyman under the bed.  It's the opposite of true connected creativity.

It's what will stop us if we let it.

Fear comes up in many ways and has many, many guises.  Sometimes it's even difficult to identify it as fear.  But it always comes with certain markers.

If we're looking in instead of out, we're afraid.  That means arrogance as well as insecurity.  Both are a direct result of fear.

If we're comparing ourselves to others, either to berate ourselves or build ourselves up, we're afraid.  Informing ourselves about what others are doing is one thing, determining our talent based on what someone else has done is just silly.

If we're defensive or dismissive when others give us critiques, we're afraid.  Either they have a point, or they may not, but getting angry or ignoring them is letting go of what may be a brilliant fix for a problem we haven't yet identified.

If we find ourselves stiff, using a lot of declarative sentences, running over past conversations in our heads in front of an imaginary jury... guess what?... we're afraid.

And that fear does nothing for us but hold us back from the artists we want to be.  We will not ever be as successful as we could be at promoting our own work.  Our future creative work will suffer.  Our personal lives will have more strife that we would like.

Basically, fear sucks.

So what can we do about it?

The things that I've found help invariably have to do with getting out of my own head and connecting with others.  Mentor a troubled teen.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Read to the elderly.

Basically, do something kind for someone else.

It's not that hard.  It will make us feel good.  Oh, and one more thing.  Our creative work will improve.

Not so bad, right? :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Selling Our Books


Well, we've written, polished and prepared our novel (and hopefully ourselves) for sale.

Now we have to...guess what?...actually sell it.

This is where we bring everything together.  This is also where we typically have a beast that likes to rear up its ugly head.  That beast has a name.  It's called "Discouragement".

See, selling our self-published book takes time.  There's a build to the process.  We're building our readership (especially since, for most of us, this is our first book); we're building our reputations as writers; we're building our word-of-mouth.

That doesn't happen overnight.

So, once we've realized that fame and fortune won't slap us in the face the second we launch our book, now we get down to the nitty-gritty.  This is where all of the tools we've acquired and the social media followings we've built come in handy.  At this point, we begin to advertise.

The main place to advertise, as far as social media is concerned, is Twitter.  This is where we need to be cautious.  We've built up our following by making sure we're putting out content that is informative, funny, entertaining, helpful, or possibly a beautiful combination of all four things.

Commercials are usually not any of those things.

So, we have one of two options.  We limit the number of "commercial" tweets we put out (no more than one commercial tweet to every "branded" tweet--in other words, the tweets that our followers like).  The downside to this is that those commercial tweets don't get out there as often as we'd like.

The other option?  Make sure our commercial tweets are informative, funny, entertaining or helpful.  In other words, work to make sure the commercial tweets fit inside our "brand".  If we can do this successfully, we can up the number of commercial tweets to pretty much one-to-one with the branded tweets.

These commercials can send people to our book trailer, our cover art, our website, our Facebook page.  Or, we could pretty much put most of those items up on Smashwords.  You remember this puppy from last week?  This is the site where you can format your novel (and it will take some work) to their specifications, so that it can be distributed in any e-book format that the reader would like.  You sell your novel for far cheaper than readers could get it anywhere else, and you make more than you would by selling a hardback through a traditional publisher.

You can go other routes (and you may want to pursue both at once, since there are those that just want the feel of a book in their hands), by going to the so-called "vanity" publishing sites.  There are sites where you retain all rights to the book, the books are printed as they are purchased, and you can sell through Amazon.  Cool.  You're still making a lot less off of each copy.

Plus, Smashwords allows for all kinds of coupon codes.  You want to provide a free copy of your novel to a reviewer (great idea for getting the word out there, by the way)?  Send them a 100% off coupon.  More important to you to build your readership than to make $?  Give your Twitter followers a 50% off coupon.  Want email addresses to be able to market your next book more successfully?  Trade the email for a coupon code with the percentage of your choice discounted.

One final note for this week's blog (although we haven't even come close to exhausting this topic):  too many of us view the selling process as something very similar to the picture above.  Furtive.  Shameful.  Hush-hush.

Guess what?  If we sell it that way, people will read it that way, and then will ultimately talk about it that way.  If we want people to shout out the name of our novel from the roof-tops, we probably want to sell the book in the same way.

Doesn't our novel deserve it?

Just to see exactly how this process works, go to our Smashwords page for Plain Jane.  Check out the cover art, the trailer, the audio excerpts and the excellent review.  Plus, you can read 50 pages of the book for FREE.  Test it out before you buy it.  Just a practical test-drive for you before you do the same for yours!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Preparation Part 2: Social Media

Well then.  Here we are.  We've written a book (and boy-howdy is it AWESOME!), we've developed cover art, we've gotten ourselves a book trailer and we've put together a kickin' press kit.  We even have an amazing website that we've created, with the help of our favorite tech geek buddy.

Now what?

It's not enough to have all those tools.  We actually have to use them.  I know.  Crazy, right?

This is where social media comes in super handy. 

I'm going to focus on two of the most helpful (and popular) sites:  facebook and Twitter.  I'll also talk about a couple of other sites that any self-publishing author is going to want to know about:  Smashwords and goodreads.

First, let's talk about what facebook and Twitter are (and are not).  Facebook acts a little bit like a billboard.  It's great for putting up content (cover art, book trailers, etc.) and then promoting.  You can advertise on facebook according to interests and locale, which means a very targeted group will be viewing it.  Problem is, they don't know you from Adam (or Eve, as the case may be).  It can be somewhat limited, and certainly isn't very dynamic.

Now let's talk Twitter.  Twitter is your best friend.  I know, you may not believe me, but I'm telling you, it is.  Twitter acts more like a television channel, with people choosing to "tune in" or follow your stream.  And, like a TV channel, you need to provide good content.  Interesting "tweets" or updates, that entertain, inspire, or give information.  A caveat:  it must be under 140 characters.  Er...

But what's great about Twitter is that once you have a loyal following, you can begin to introduce "commercials" into your stream.  Links to your website, your trailer's youtube, an e-event your hosting, whatever.  Once you are a trusted source, people will follow you...and click through.

This is where we talk about Smashwords and goodreads.  Smashwords is where you can sell e-books in just about any format imaginable.  And the commission you get off of a $2.99 sale of your e-book nets you more that bestsellers get per hardback copy sale.  You heard me right.  Worth checking out?  I think SO!

Goodreads is a place where people talk about the books they're reading.  This is a great place for an author to start to build up hype for his or her novel.  It works even better if you're working with a group (see my post on writers' collectives here).

So, I've given you a very brief overview of what social media can do for you and your book.  If you want to see this in action, check out my Smashwords page for Plain Jane.  You can watch our book trailer, listen to an audio excerpt (VoiceOver courtesy of @actingnodrama) and read up to 50 pages FREE.  You can also follow @writingnodrama, @cristynwest, @zerotosold and @craftycmc to see what we're doing with Twitter.  Then, once you're salivating, head over to our website to see it all in one place.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Preparation for Self-Publishing


Well, we've talked a bit about the creation piece of the self-publishing puzzle.  Now it's time to talk about how to prepare.  Specifically, how to prepare to sell.

I want to take a moment to say that most publishing houses take at least a year to prepare for the launch of a new hardback.  There's a reason for that.  There is a lot to get done.

Luckily, you only have one writer you need to worry about.  You.  Unless you've got some other personalities lurking in there that have their own manuscripts, in which case it's beyond the scope of this post to deal with anyway.

I'm going to talk about two different areas of preparation that are key for the self-published author.  One is the area of promotional tools, which we'll talk about in this post.  The other is the venue (or venues) for the distribution of those promotional tools, which we'll discuss next week.  They are both important.

The promotional tools a writer would want would be excellent cover art (variations of which could be used for biz cards, press kits, etc.), an electronic press kit (EPK), and a book trailer.

The cover art is the face of your novel.  It's what's going to grab a potential reader or turn them off.  It needs to be polished, creative and most importantly...sell your book!  If you've written a how-to, a fantasy-like cover will do nothing but confuse a potential buyer.

The EPK includes your one-sheet (brief description), three-sheet (more in-depth description), bio and press release, at a minimum.  It can also include a longer bio, a 3-5 page synopsis and FAQ's.  The EPK is essential for anyone that would like to option off the rights to the screenplay.  Being able to send this EPK at a moment's notice can make the difference between you being taken seriously or simply forgotten.

Finally, the book trailer.  This is an opportunity to SELL YOUR BOOK!!!  The importance of a good book trailer cannot be overemphasized.  Let's face it.  Our society has gotten more and more visually oriented as the years have gone by.  Having a visual medium that draws a potential buyer in is a MUST!

For some examples of some amazing cover art, slick EPK's and stunning book trailers, take a moment to go to our website:  www.ztspromotions.com.  You can also our work in action by going to my Smashwords page for Plain Jane.  Not only will you see our amazing book trailer, you'll be able to listen to an audio excerpt and read up to 50 pages for free!  Just so you can see that we practice what we preach.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Writing Your Masterpiece


I talked about self-publishing a couple of weeks ago and promised that I would take you through the steps.  Last week I talked about how important it is for us to be present in everything we do.  This week I'm going to write (at least a little) about something that's kind of important to the self-publishing process.

Writing a novel.

The point of this blog entry is not to take you through the entire process of writing a manuscript.  That's not really what I do here.  If you're looking for help with the craft of writing, go to my @writingnodrama Twitter stream, where I talk about the day-in, day-out process of writing a novel or a script.  You can also go to that stream's blog.

The idea here is that in order for us to get that writing career we've always wanted, we kind of need to...well...write.  #awkward

If you already have a manuscript written or well on the way to being written, this may not apply to you quite as much.  The questions you need to ask yourself is whether or not you're moving forward as quickly as you'd like and whether you've gotten to the point that you're needlessly fine-tuning instead of putting it out there.

However, if you've got the idea for a novel in your head and you're not moving forward with it, the question becomes, "Why on earth not?"  What's holding you back?  What "reasons" do you give yourself for not putting words on the page, even if they're horrifically bad.  Believe me, every author has written bad stuff.

Whatever the voices in your head are telling you, the real answer is that on some level you're scared.  Scared of exposure, scared of failure, or just simply scared that on some basic plane you're not worthy of success.

Now, you can listen to those voices.  That's a choice.  It is, however, a choice that will mean that succeeding with a writing career will be a bit of a tough sell.  It also means your voice will be silenced.

And that is the real tragedy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Little Bit Extra



That old phrase “The proof is in the pudding” is apropos.  At the end of the day, it’s really about what works.

We talk about structure and discipline and making time for our art.  We talk about craft and precision and specificity.  We talk about “the path” and promotional tools and networking.

And all of those things are good.  Really good.

And when push comes to shove, the most they will yield you on their own is a good product, adequately promoted.  I don’t know about you, but “good” and “adequate” are not really words that I want used in regards to my work.

So what is it that makes for something great, brilliant or even spectacular?

Not to put too fine a point on it, it takes us.  Putting the pieces of our projects together like they were some sort of a jigsaw puzzle or paint-by-the-numbers watercolor will yield us a result that is. . .good.  Marketing in the same way that everyone else does will give us a campaign that is. . .adequate.

We want to infuse ourselves into everything we do.  Take in all the ideas on structure, craft, precision and specificity.  But then, loosen it up.  Have fun with it.  Enjoy the process.  We can bring our unique talents and “voice” into the process.

The same thing goes for marketing.  If we pursue a “cookie-cutter” type of promotional plan, we’ll get “cookie-cutter” kind of results.  What can be our individual spin on it?

I have an actor friend who wanted to get an agent.  He had taken all of the textbook steps that can lead to representation.  None of them had given him more than a mediocre outcome.

So he did something different.  He put together postcards that talked about himself as a product that he was selling.  He was a comedic “staple” that every agent needed to have in his or her pantry.  It was funny.  It was eye-catching.  It was completely him.

It worked.  He had meetings within a week and an agent within two.

This is the kind of thing that we do for our clients.  We approach each project as an extension of the individual we’re talking to.  We listen to you, and then ask questions and then listen some more.  Because we want your promotional process to be “you”.  Your take, your voice, your campaign.

You’ve heard me talking about my novel Plain Jane recently.  Take a look at what I’ve done with it.  Go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/16176 and watch the trailer and the excerpt.  Read the reviews.  Download 30% of the novel for free to get a sense of it.   Go to www.plainjanenovel.com and see what my website looks like. Then decide for yourself if I’m walking the walk.

Whatever your opinion of what I’m doing, I want to give you a challenge.  Make the choice to step outside your comfort zone and promote your project, if you aren’t already doing so.  If you are, take a careful look at what you’re doing and see if there’s room to improve.  We’re not asking you to use our services.  We’re asking you to get your work out there!

Want to take a look at what we’ve done for others? Go to our website:  www.zstpromotions.com.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Self-Publishing Bible


Let’s start off by acknowledging that the words “self” and “publish”, when used together, create something that’s been a dirty word for authors for a long time.

No longer.

While the publishing houses would very much like to keep it so, self-publishing simply doesn’t have the stigma attached to it that it used to.  We can create amazing works of fiction or non-fiction and market and sell them ourselves.  No more waiting around to see if those query letters did their job.  Create.  Prepare.  Sell.

So, that’s what I’m going to be talking about over the course of the next few (or perhaps longer.  We’ll see) weeks.

How do we create an amazing, compelling (and commercial) work?  What are the specifics of the process that can lead us to a product we’re proud of and, perhaps more pertinently, that readers will buy?

Once we’ve written our masterpiece, how do we prepare?  What promotional tools do we have already at our disposal?  What others can we (and should we) acquire?  How do we indentify, target and attain our desired demographic?  Once we’ve attained them, how do we prepare them to want to purchase our work of art?

Now that we’re prepared, how do we make sure that this primed and eager group of potential readers actually open their wallets to buy our novel?  What can we do to bridge the gap between an excited almost-reader and someone that’s willing to lay down the money to read (and review) our book?

And just so you can see that we walk the walk as well as talking the talk, we are going through this entire process ourselves.  I just released Plain Jane:  Brunettes Beware under my pen name, Cristyn West.  It’s available through Smashwords.com here.  You can read for free more than 25% of the novel to see if you’re interested in purchasing it.  Give it a try!

Then follow us as we take you, step-by-step, through the amazing process of do-it-yourself book publishing.  Not so scary.

And certainly not a dirty word.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zero to Sold: The New Website!



It's here! It's up and fully functional, with loads of good stuff for anyone that's looking to promote themselves and their product.

We started ZTS Promotions based on the premise that visuals matter. Press kits are important. Cover or poster art is arresting. Trailers rock out loud!

These were the tools that we wanted to deliver to any creatives that needed them. Whether it’s the beginner that’s just needing some guidance, or the seasoned pro that simply wants the best tools for their project, we consistently delivered.

After quite a while of offering truly superlative marketing materials to writers, screenwriters and filmmakers, we realized something else. Things have changed.

When’s the last time you actually watched a commercial on TV? TiVo is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It’s also completely changed the way that savvy advertisers market. TV ads are being dropped left and right. Even the Super Bowl, the Holy Grail of television ad space, just doesn’t pack the whallop that it once did.


What does this mean for us? Nothing but good things!

Social media has now become the new frontier of advertising. Now, before you turn up your nose, I want you to realize that this is actually a return to the basics. In the days before TV, promotion was done socially, by building up and maintaining relationships with current and potential clients. Parties and gatherings were as much a part of a business’ landscape as they were a filling of a human need for contact.

And our new website is all over it!

We can help you fully integrate your amazing promotional tools across multiple online platforms. We have the skills to grow your network using your website, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. We can help you develop an integrated “brand” that fully expresses what you have to offer. Once we have that, we then target those that will respond best to that brand.

So, go check it out, right here! What do you have to lose? It’s just the click of the mouse, right?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plain Jane--The Launch


Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Here I am, going on and on about “getting your stuff out there” and what have you seen from me?

Hmmm.

Worry not, kind friends (or skeptical passersby, whichever fits the bill). There has been a plan.

I am announcing the release of Plain Jane: Brunettes Beware, written under my pseudonym, Cristyn West. This is a wonderfully tense crime thriller with a twist. Here’s the link to our Smashwords.com page (an amazing resource, by the way): http://bit.ly/atlm6P. You can read up to 30% of the book for free, and if you wish to purchase it, it’s only $2.99!

Now, there’s a twist in the actual novel itself, but there’s another one as well. We are releasing this novel as a fully self-published work with a completely online business model.

There will be no attempt to get this novel into typical brick-and-mortar bookstores. It will only be available as an on-line purchase.

In addition, we will be heavily promoting the e-book versions, eschewing the print copies almost completely.

Why?

Simple. As of March 2010, e-book sales are up 185%. Amazon is now reporting that 50% of its book sales are digital. They expect that statistic to reach 70% by next year. People are buying more e-books.

They’re easier to purchase. They’re less expensive. You don’t have to worry about shipping. You can read more than a quarter of the book first without paying.

Okay, now you know why others (perhaps even you) are buying e-books, but what about us? What’s the upside?

Ahem. Money.

We make more money per copy off of e-book sales than we ever would off of a print version. Doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or not, the amount we make off of a hardcover or paperback copy is not as much as we make off of an e-book, even selling it for $2.99 on Smashwords: http://bit.ly/b60jVe.

Like what you’re hearing? Like the idea that we don’t need to cow-tow to the publishers? That we can do it ourselves, through the power of the internet and social media like Twitter?

Then join us. We’re looking to form a writer’s collective. We want it to be small (no more than 10 authors). We want it to be made up of the truly dedicated. We want it to work for everyone involved. If you have a novel that you’re sitting on, hoping against hope that it’ll get picked up, why not test the digital waters?

From where I’m swimming, it’s quite refreshing!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Anti-'Borg Collective
















I love Star Trek. The original remains my favorite, since it’s the one that first opened up my eyes and mind to the mysteries of a larger universe. However, some of the newer series’ episodes had some pretty awe-inspiring stuff.

One storyline that really affected me was the ‘Borg collective. It was creepy. It was inhuman. It went against everything that I believe in (pretty sure that was the point).

It was also incredibly powerful.

That kind of unification allows for a lot to get done very quickly. I started thinking that if we could form that kind of unity without giving up our individuality, we could do so much more than we can as isolated artists.

So, here’s the deal. I want to form a writer’s collective. The old publishing model is starting to feel increasingly outdated. Publishers simply don’t give the kind of attention to new writers that they need to really get their stuff out there. It’s increasingly up to the writer to make sure their books get sold.

Okay, so let’s embrace that! I have a friend who’s a mid-list author. His experiences with his publisher were less-than-stellar, so he finally got fed up. His backlist was dead in the water. It had barely made him back his modest advance and he was never going to see any royalties from it. Worse, his career was stagnate. He was LOSING his reader base rather than building it.

Then he said 'screw it,' and took over his on-line publicity. He hit Twitter, Facebook, and blogged like a fiend. He also made over $100,000 last year from Kindle alone. He’s on track to make twice that this year.

We can do that. We can come together as writers, supporting each other and our work.

Let’s form a collective!

Not a soul-crushing, individuality stealing entity, but a life-affirming, art inspiring group. We can lift one another up, offering moral support and encouragement, as well as cross-promotional marketing.

And I'm putting my money where my mouth is! Next week, I’ll be putting my novel out there for everyone to see. I'm going to be an active part of this new venture.

As part of this, we will be offering free online workshops on how to use Twitter to effectively market our novels. Leave your email address or Twitter handle here in the comments if you’re interested in joining in with our writer’s collective. We will keep you up-to-date on any upcoming workshops.

Together, we can do some pretty spectacular stuff!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prepared for Success

We talk a lot about the tools that you need to become the successful writer/screenwriter/filmmaker that you want to be. We help with branding, online presence & platforming, social media expansion. We create amazing visuals like cover art, poster art, press kits and trailers to help your project succeed.

All of that is great, but it doesn't address one of the biggest problems we all face.

We are frightened of success.

You may not immediately agree with me. You may say to yourself, "But I desperately want success! I'm working myself half to death trying to be successful."

Just take a look at that last statement. Do you feel how much conflict is in it? We're fighting for success, but who is it that we're really fighting? The universe? I'm pretty sure the universe has enough success and to spare. It's not the one holding us back.

We are.

We're busy fighting off all of the stuff inside us that really believes that we don't deserve to be successful. We're putting self-imposed limits on what we can accomplish and how high we can go.

So, rather than talk about amazing tools to help, I thought that maybe we'd talk about preparing ourselves emotionally to become the artists we want to be.

I'm not even going to talk about how "good" or "bad" our art is, because firstly, that's pretty subjective, and secondly, we can always improve (that's the topic for another blog...always being a student!). It's not our job to determine whether or not what we offer is amazing. There are enough "bad" books and films out there that we all know that isn't really the determining factor.

What seems to be the real point is whether or not we're willing to embrace the idea of sharing our projects with the world. Because that is kind of what success looks like, right?

Any time we start to doubt ourselves or question our worth or want to just give it all up, let's take a second and realize that those words are not our own. Those are old tapes running in our heads that we picked up from someone else at some point. Usually our parents, but I'm not your therapist, so don't take my word for it. :)

Those tapes point in the exact opposite direction of where we want to be going, so when they show up, it's a pretty good indicator that we're on the right path. We don't need to bully our way through the negative tapes, we just need to take a moment and reconnect with our joy.

We know what it feels like when we are connected and creating. That's real. The dark, ugly tapes are not. At some other point, we can talk about the parts of us that are playing those tapes, but for now, just know that they're really telling us to keep going. We're on the right path. If we weren't, there would be no reason for those fears to come up.

Breathe through it, reconnect to your love of your art and continue to create. Keep showing up. Find others to help support you when the tapes get too loud. Talk it out with them. Lift one another up.

Eventually, success is not longer a battle. It becomes an inevitability.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Twitter, Your Own Personal Piggy Bank?

You've heard me talk about social media. You've seen me wax poetic about the wonders of Twitter. You've experienced my not-so-subtle prodding about what it is that we're doing here.

Time to get super specific!

We want to make money, right? Preferably doing what it is that we love.

And social media, particularly Twitter, is perfectly suited to helping us do exactly that.

So, the question is, are your accounts ready to monetize? There are many different ways to potentially make money off of social media. As many different ways, honestly, as there are different interests. And if you've been on Twitter long, you know that there are a LOT of different interests here. :)

The first step is to figure out what you have to offer. What is it that you can provide to interested parties? You may not see it at first, but it always has to do with passion. What are you passionate about?

Once you've determined what that passion is, it's time to develop a brand. Simply put, it's a unified way of having others looking at you. It's a way of helping those that view your materials to understand very quickly what you're all about.

The more your branding is well developed, the easier it will be to monetize when the time comes.

So, that all sounds great, right? Perfectly wonderful! Now, how do we do it??

That's where we come in! Zero to Sold is offering free online workshops on how to monetize your social media accounts, focusing on Twitter.

Watch our stream for upcoming times and dates for these amazing classes, but anyone with any interest, go ahead and leave a comment with your Twitter @ name, so that we can contact you directly as classes are available.

Let's get to it! There's money to be made!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Let's Talk about Tweets, Baby!

"Let's talk about you and me."

Because that's what Twitter is all about, right? Creating relationships based on shared interests at 140 characters a pop.

So, just for a moment, I want you to go to your profile (if you're on Twitter, that is. If you aren't, get on, RIGHT NOW! Seriously!) and look at what's there.

What do your tweets say about you? Look at them from an outsider's point of view. Do they make sense? What's the latest tweet (which is one of your most important "stats" by they way)? If you were someone else, would you decide to follow yourself, based on what you see?

If you're on Twitter for purely social reasons, don't worry about any of this. If, however, you're here to self-promote or to monetize, you need to make sure that your stream looks attractive to potential contacts.

How do we do that? There are a lot of strategies that we employ for our clients' Twitter accounts that we're hired to manage. I will share one of those ideas.

Know what you want out of Twitter, and then make sure that your stream constantly reflects that. Anytime you engage in random banter with people on the stream, you're leaving your followers out of half of the conversation. If the conversation is one that matches your objectives online, then by all means engage. Otherwise, take it to DM.

This is just one of the many strategies that we can teach you that will help to target your market specifically. Strategies that will build your following, that will build your influence, that will allow you to push traffic from Twitter on towards your website, facebook, blog, etc.

Our new website, dealing with all of these promotional tools, is coming out very soon. In the meantime, go to our current site: www.zerotosoldtrailers.com and take a look at our wonderful promotional tools! You don't have to use our services to help you promote (although we're awesome, so you should!), but PLEASE make sure that you are getting your projects out there!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Maximizing Our Exposure

Before we raise any eyebrows here, I'm talking about our internet exposure. There will be no removal of clothing here. #justsaying

We're all here on the internet for different reasons. Many of you reading may be joining us from Twitter. And what is it that you're doing there, or on any other of the many social media sites? Why are you reading a blog about promoting yourself and your unique form of creativity?

Whatever your reason for being here in the first place (information, support, marketing, networking, etc.), you've found yourself here, reading this post. And here's the thing: we can help you accomplish your goals.

Whether you're looking to make new friends within a certain area of interest or hoping to sell the next great American novel, we can help you gain greater exposure.

Just to tell you a little bit about ourselves... We are award-winning writers and filmmakers first and foremost. That's where we started. As we embarked on our journey of creation, we realized quickly that promoting our projects was key to any sort of success. And we weren't happy with any of the promotions that were being offered.

The trailers we saw didn't inspire us. Honestly, we didn't see any trailers offered for scripts (which seems ridiculous), and the ones being made for novels didn't have the kind of punch and presence we were looking for.

The cover/poster art available was decent, but again, was lacking the kind of drama and flair we sought. The same with the press kits.

So we made our own. And received immediate and overwhelmingly positive responses. We began doing it for others, including working with web designers to really solidify the clients' "brand".

Soon after that, we started realizing that this material on its own wasn't enough. It helps, definitely, but it wasn't getting us or our clients the full exposure we wanted. Even though our clients were thrilled with their responses, we knew we weren't reaching the full potential of what was being created.

At that point we got involved in social media. Very quickly it became obvious that the "social media experts" weren't as expert as advertised. Before we would get to the point of engaging their services, we would find that we had surpassed them. Within two months, we had landed five clients (among whom are a NYT Bestseller, an artist, a mommy blogger and a co-producer for a hit reality show) for whom we were managing social media accounts and web presence, as well as coaching them on their overall brand.

Enough about us. Our approach to maximizing your exposure is three-fold. We study you and your goals and help to identify and unify your brand. We develop materials (cover art, trailers, press kits, business cards, bios, etc.) to solidify that brand in the minds of viewers. Finally, we use social media to increase your presence online, drive traffic to your website(s) and materials, and to help you monetize as quickly as possible. There are no guarantees in this industry (or in life, for that matter), but our consistent record is greatly increased presence (100% to !000%, on average) within a month and monetization within three.

We have a new and greatly expanded website coming soon, but for now, you can go to www.zerotosoldtrailers.com to check out our promotional materials. You can also email us at info@zerotosoldtrailers (dot) com. We offer a free assessment of your web presence and brand. And here's the thing: you don't have to go with us, but getting a free assessment is... well... free! There's no obligation. And it will give you INFORMATION!! So, why not give it a shot?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Are We Doing?

If you're here reading this blog, it means that on some level, creating is probably important to you. If you've made it to this second sentence, it almost certainly is.

I'm pretty convinced that there is nothing like the act of creating to bring out the best and the worst in us. No one can look at the great sculptures and paintings and be completely unmoved. We read amazing books written by the masters and weep and laugh and are changed. We watch films that transport us, uplift us and inspire us to be better than what we are.

And then there's the ugly side. We embark on the journey and are immediately beset by doubts and assailed by our personal demons. It seems like the entire of creation moves itself to test our fortitude. And a very large percentage take it as a sign and give up.

Maybe you're there. Maybe you just started and feel like the pounding's started. Maybe it's already occurred and you've "given up" but can't let go completely (you're still reading this, right?). Maybe you're hanging on by your fingernails, looking for inspiration to help you along.

So, here's my contribution to that journey, for what it's worth. This path may be uncomfortable. It may, at times, even be painful (usually because we make it so, but that's a topic for another blog). It is, however, amazing. It's transformative. It's a refining process, both for our art, and for us as people. I believe that it brings out our divine potential.

And I'm not sure that this process should be easy. The difficulty of the path is there, not to keep us from going forward. It's there to test how badly we actually want it. What is it worth to us to be able to move others with our art?

So, what are we doing? Part of this journey is artistic and personal. Another part of it is making sure that what we create actually makes it out into the universe. Creating something that no one ever gets to see is kind of a pointless act.

We want to affect others with our work, right? In order to do that, we need to make sure that they have access to it. We need to survive, right? In order to do that and have more time to create, we need to get paid, right?

Yeah, I know it sounds like it shouldn't even be included in a conversation about art, but without promotion, we're dead in the water. We need to research the best ways to make our work visible. Cover/poster art, press kits, trailers, web presence, platforms, branding. It's all part of getting to the point where we can spend our lives creating. Promotion isn't a dirty word. It's our best friend.

Time for the plug. If you aren't doing what I'm talking about, you can get some ideas by going to our website: www.zerotosoldtrailers.com. Take a look at what we have to offer.

Want to do it yourself? I encourage it! Not sure about that? Give us a call or shoot us an email. You'll be amazed at what we can put together for you.

Now go out and create!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As If That Weren't Enough...

We've worked. Hard. We've put in countless hours, agonized over minutiae that most others wouldn't even blink an eyelid at, sweat blood and tears.

And finally, after what seems an eternity, we're finished. Our baby's done. Our novel, script, short film, feature, whatever--is complete.

Aaaaaahhhh... Time to stretch a bit.

Congratulations! You've done something that many, many hopefuls never do. You have made something where there was nothing before. It's truly amazing, and you deserve credit and accolades for it. Doesn't matter the format, genre or medium, you have done something truly worthwhile.

And there you sit, thinking, "Okaaaaaay... Now what?"

You have just run smack-dab into it. You know. That wall. The wall that so many have committed figurative hari-kari against, by running into it at warp speeds. It is the wall that is not-so-lovingly referred to as (cue scary music)... self-promotion.

C'mon, you knew it was coming. Or maybe you didn't.

Somehow, as we're in the midst of creating, we manage not to think about it very much. Or if we do, it's this very short, very magical interlude between creation and success beyond our wildest dreams.

I'm going to hazard a guess that, out of all of the completed works of art out there, at least 97% have never seen the light of day. They are pushed (with a heaping helping of shame) to the deepest, darkest corner of the drawer or closet. We may, occasionally, dust them off and lament the death of the work that no-one-ever-had-the-chance-to-enjoy. Then we'll put it back and do our best to forget.

Or...

There is another way.

It is the path of self-promotion, Grasshopper.

I know, the magical belief that we SHOULDN'T HAVE TO is strong. So strong, in fact, that we resist this stage of artistic development almost instinctively. But gone are the days of patronage. No knight on shining armor (or naked lady astride a horse, not to mix metaphors too badly) is going to swoop down and hit our project with the mystical sword (or wand) of success. Not gonna happen.

Nor will posting our novel, or script or project up on some random blog do it either. Again, great step in the right direction, but we're still falling short of the mark.

We need to open our hearts, our hands and, yes, our mouths. We need to get it into anyone's and everyone's hands that is willing to give it more than a cursory glance.
Put the sucker up in a blog or website, sure! Then drive traffic to it like it's the freakin' Jersey Turnpike.

Yes, it's uncomfortable. No, it's not impossible. You can do it. Really.

And here's the other thing: you don't have to do it all on your own. Yeah, it's that time again. Time for me to do my own bit of self-promotion. We're really good at what we do. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. www.zerotosoldtrailers.com. We promise you'll never get a hard sell from us. Just an honest assessment and a true desire to help.

And look for some wonderful new developments from us in the near future. We're working on some amazing products that we will be unveiling within the next week or so. I'm telling you, it'll be worth reading about! Until then, keep dreaming, keep creating, and keep PROMOTING!! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Crazy Voices

So, if you've followed my Twitter stream at all, you know that I'm a writer and filmmaker that is involved in helping others to promote themselves. I've worked with a lot of people in the industry (both publishing and film/television) and there are some things that I've noticed about those that are successfully working in their artistic fields and those that are not.

We all know that talent is important. We feel it. We know that quality matters. Of course. Problem is, we can ALL point to absolute crap that's been published or filmed. Then we look at our own stuff and think that it's at least as good as any of that. So then we're in this weird place where we flip flop between arrogance and insecurity. Our stuff is good enough to be out there, but we haven't had the success we want yet. Our judgment must be compromised. Or we're jinxed. Something.

Thing is, talent does matter. It just doesn't matter the most. Dedication, consistency, persistence, determination are all things that ultimately may be more important than talent alone. I've seen too many people that I didn't consider to be talented succeed and continue succeeding, that I have to believe that talent is only one variable in the formula for success.

Oh, here's something else for the talent purists out there. Talent can increase. When Kim Basinger started her acting career, it was as a Bond girl. Her performance was less than memorable. But she was attractive, she was dedicated, she was determined. She persevered, and eventually got to the point that she won an Oscar. She worked out her problems and hangups on the big screen, by doing the work.

All of us have voices in our heads. Negative voices that scream that we're not good enough, we'll never make it, we're dooooomed! I've already said that talent isn't the determining factor in success, and I think that most professionals would agree with me. What seems to me to be the determining factor is whether we can manage our self-destructive tendencies. Can we corral our inner demons that are constantly screaming silently at us in our heads?

What keeps us from being the kind of people that demonstrate all of those scary, scary qualities I mentioned earlier? You know. Dedication, consistency, persistence, determination? Do we exhibit all of those traits? And if not, why?

I've found that most people that we typically think of as "lazy" or "procrastinators" are actually just scared. They've got voices yelling at them that if they really TRY and then fail, they've truly FAILED. FOREVER!! Easier to just sit back on their heels and engage in a little self-destruction. When we put it into those clear terms, of course they don't want to do this, but in the moment, it's easier to just... lose track of time.

There's another trap. It's the "push forward at all costs" trap. This group realizes that hard work is necessary to succeed, so they will kill themselves, working without sleep to get their work "finished". Problem is, it's never finished. Once they get close, they either start working on a new and exciting project, or go into OCD mode, polishing, polishing, polishing... and never getting it out there.

Neither way works all that well. The successful authors, screenwriters and filmmakers out there work consistently, putting time aside everyday to work on their passion projects. Most started out doing this while holding down at least one full-time job. No excuses. Put it on the page. Five to ten pages a day of writing is a good goal to work up to. That's about what professional authors do, and that's what we want to be, right?

But the most important part is actually writing. Putting fingers to the keyboard and pounding out words. Yes, craft and structure matter, but getting craft and structure is, once again, secondary to ACTUALLY WRITING!! The voices in our head will come up with all kinds of reasons to keep us from doing it. If we realize that it's just our fears creeping in, and that the only way to become whole is acknowledge those fears and work through them, we can find consistency in our work. And joy. Joy is good.

One final word. Patience. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Now go out and create!! And as you create, remember that the time will come (and actually is probably now) when you will need to promote. And we'll be right there ready to help you.

www.zerotosoldtrailers.com

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh, and Did I Mention... Monday?























So, last blog I talked about how social media can change your life and make all your dreams come true (okay, so it's not a magic wand, but...). This week, I'm gonna talk specifically about what you bloggers can do to drive traffic to your brilliant ramblings on life, liberty and the pursuit of the perfect ice cream.

If you haven't heard of Mention Monday (#MentionMonday), you probably haven't spent much time on Twitter on a Monday. Last week, the secondary reach (meaning the retweets of an original tweet) of #MentionMonday was 37 million. That was not a typo. Thirty-freakin'-seven million!! Off of the strength of Mention Monday, one of our blogger clients was contacted last week by potential sponsors. Her blog is hysterical, but wasn't getting the attention or audience it deserved. Due to our efforts (yes, Mention Monday was our idea) she has landed on some pretty prestigious lists.

So many writers and filmmakers are using blogs and/or websites (if you have a website, you can participate) to get the word out about their projects. Problem is, there's an awful lot of those websites out there. How do you manage to penetrate through all the noise? Mention Monday can help.

Here's how you do it. Post a link to your blog/website (use one of the link shortening sites to increase the amount of space you have) and put #MentionMonday right there out in front to identify it. Throughout the day, go to the retweet button on the right of your twitter home page. Don't worry about "Retweets by Others", 'cause really, who cares, right? :) Go to "Your Tweets, Retweeted." If your #MentionMonday got retweeted, look and see who did it. Go to their profile and look for their #MentionMonday tweet (if there is one) and retweet it. That's just kind, right?

Once that's done, go to the search bar at the right and type in mentionmonday. There will be a ton. Retweet all that you can, and don't stress out if you miss a couple here and there. Then go to the blogs and websites. Read 'em. Comment on 'em. If you like what you see, subscribe to 'em.

Oh, and anyone that you see doing Mention Monday on the stream, follow 'em. Follow back any that add you. We're building a community of writers here, tweeps! Let's be kind to each other. I may write more on that later, but for now, go forth and enjoy #MentionMonday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Social Media, Your Best Friend























That's right! That thing you do at your day job that annoys your boss so much is exactly the thing that can help you to realize your dreams of success. Whether you're a novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, or have a bridge you want to sell someone, social media is one of the best ways to get the word out.

Social media can help drive traffic to your blog or website, where you can grab the attention of your somewhat captive audience. Grab their attention, keep it, and PRESTO! You're building your presence.

Let's be honest. When it comes to publishers, agents, producers, etc., etc., they want to know that there are numbers backing their newest venture. That's what social media can bring us. Numbers. Lots of them.

Don't get me wrong. It's hard work. You need to build a following. That means being clever. It means reaching out. It means stepping out of our comfort zones. Hey, no pain, no gain, right?

And here's the other thing: we need to get our act together. If we drive traffic to our website, there better be something good there for them to see, right?

If you're a filmmaker, you need poster art, a electronic press kit, a trailer. Screenwriter? Same basic deal. Novelist? You too. Everything is moving toward the end game of getting a film made. Novelists have no longer "made it" until their books have been optioned and turned into the latest blockbuster. Twilight, anyone?

Here's the pitch part of the blog. Go to our website: www.zerotosoldtrailers.com. Check out our slick press kits, our stunning cover art, our amazing trailers. See for yourself what we have to offer.

In addition, due to overwhelming demand, we have started offering social media packages. We can help you to grow your following and online presence. We count among our clients one of today's most talented artists, a celebrity expert of one of the hottest reality TV shows around and a NYT bestselling author. We're helping them. We can help you.

More important than using our services, though, is just that you decide to get your stuff out there. You'll feel better. You know you will... :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Oscar Goes to...























Watching the Oscars for me is always a mixed thing. I love watching the nominees, the winners, the glitz and glamor.

And I'm not there.

Yet.

And there it is, isn't it? I love doing what I do. I assume you're the same, or I can't imagine how you managed to find your way to my blog. How do we translate the desire to create into a career that can support us (and ultimately get us to the Oscars)? We no longer live in a world where you can count on talent to get you discovered. There's just too many people with a novel, a script or a project in their back pockets, looking for the perfect moment to pitch.

That's where promotion and marketing come in. We don't like it. It feels uncomfortable, even painful at times. We curse. We rail at the heavens. We should NOT have to be the ones doing this.

Ok.

Yeah, in a perfect world "creatives" wouldn't have to do it all themselves. But this world is far from perfect. It is, however, elegant in its simple beauty. Because having to do it ourselves is kind of perfect. How bad do we want it? The obstacle isn't there to tell us to stay away. It's to see how much we want to get past.

So, let's make a pact. No more whining. Or, if we must whine, let's follow up the whining with positive action. Take steps now. Do one thing each day, if you can't do more. It doesn't matter if you decide to use Zero to Sold in your quest, although we believe that you should at least take a look to know the right questions to ask yourself. So, do it right now. Go to our site: www.zerotosoldtrailers.com, and look around. Email us. Ask questions.

And then do something.

C'mon! You know you want to...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time to Promote?























Let's be honest. There are very few of us that actually like promoting ourselves. It feels awkward, forced, uncomfortable. And those are the "understatement" words. I can't tell you how many times we've talked to a artist, and the first words out of their mouths are, "I just don't want to do any marketing. I'll do just about anything else. Just not that."

And yet, if we want to get our stuff out there, promoting ourselves is exactly what we need to do. Interesting conundrum, yes?

The truth is, no one will ever care about our projects as much as we do. If we can't be advocates for our own creativity, how can we ever expect anyone else to?

About now, I imagine there is a lot of screaming happening in a lot of heads. I have a pretty good idea of what they might be saying. "I don't know how!" "I shouldn't have to!" "This is someone else's job!" and my personal fav: "How could anyone expect ME to know how to do that?"

I know those responses because I've had them. After optioning several scripts and producing and directing several more, I realized that we would have to promote them. Yikes! Ouch!

The good news is that there are those out there who can help. If we don't have the know-how ourselves and don't have the time to learn, there are people out there who are willing and able to promote. We're some of them.

What you need depends on your project. But making the first step and inquiring about what you can do should be your first step. We create cover art, press kits, and trailers. We've created trailers for novels, scripts, TV pilots and films. Take a look at our website to get an idea of what we can do for your project. www.zerotosoldtrailers.com. At the very least, it will give you an idea of what can be done to help get your creativity out where the world can see it. You don't have to use our service, but please do take the steps necessary to let your works shine!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You CAN Judge a Book by Its Cover!






















I know the old cliche′, but let's be honest... you can get a pretty clear idea of what lurks within the novel (or script, or film, or blah, blah, blah) by taking a gander at the... wait for it... cover art (or poster art for all you baseball-cap- and long-shorts-wearing indie filmmakers. Yeah, I know. They're sooo comfortable, right?).

Here's the deal--what is it that attracts us to a book in the first place? The title? Possibly. The author? Could be. But what makes us stop in the aisles at the nearest mega bookstore Noble Borders or whatever? The VISUALS! What we SEE!

Of course, you say. But that's what the publishing house does for me once I'm published.

Ahem.

I've also got this awesome bridge I wanna sell you.

Yes, of course there will be cover art created for a newly published novel. But getting to that point as a new author is a difficult process. Showing the publishing houses right off the bat that you understand basic marketing can do nothing but improve your chances. The cover art goes up on your website, your blog, your Twitter account, Facebook, you name it. You build yourself a following of potential readers eager to see your soon-to-be-published work.

The publishing houses are doing less and less these days, especially for new (read, untested) talent. If you are lucky enough to get published (and yes, it IS lucky, even if you're the next Faulkner...actually, especially if you're the next Faulkner), you're gonna have to hawk your own wares, my verbose friend. All of these kinds of viral marketing techniques need to be in your arsenal.

And we can help. Take a look at our work and see for yourself. www.zerotosoldtrailerscom. And yes, this is a pitch, but it's not just a pitch for our (we believe superior) products. It's a plea to make sure that you get cover art from somewhere... and use it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Art = Money






















You’re a Writer? Screenwriter? Indie Film Producer? Then congrats because you are the CEO of your company! Yeah, we can hear the wailing denial from here. Here are some tips to make it less painful.

#1 – Accept the fact you are in business.
No, you cry? I’m an ARTIST (and yes, usually all in caps). Money corrupts art.
Umm… It also pays the rent, keeps the lights on and buys you a new laptop.
If you want to make your living from your art, you need to market your company, your brand, yourself.
But wait you say. I’ve got friends. I’ve got contacts, they’re going to help me… which brings us to…

#2 - Accept the fact that no one will ever care about our projects as much as you do.
Period. End of Statement. It’s your project. If you don’t love and believe in it more than anyone else in the world, then who should? You gave birth to this creative child.

#3 – Accept the fact your project is not an actual child though!
Because you are going to shuck this baby like a two-bit whore. Okay, maybe not that bad, but you have got to move past the Gaussian honeymoon, rose-colored glass stage of love. It’s a project you want to make money off of so you can make do another project (and buy the new iPad as long as there is extra cash laying around).

#4 – Accept the fact that you are also the head of Marketing of your own PR firm.
Whatever you think of the singer Beyonce as an artist, in a recent interview she talked about how she acts as the CEO of her own brand. She controls every aspect of it with an intensity and eye for details that surpasses any PR firm. Why? Because she believes in her art (and she wanted to attract a guy like Jay-Z, but that’s a whole other story)

#5 – Accept the fact you need cover art, press kits, and trailers.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, now you roll your eyes and go ‘this is where the pitch begins.’
The only problem with that theory is we don’t care where you get your cover art, press kit and trailers. We only care that you invest in great promotional materials.
What PR firm doesn’t have visuals? How can you build buzz and excitement about your project without something to SHOW people when they finally do come to your website?

#6 – Accept the fact that Zero to Sold is the best company to provide those for you.
Okay, you really don’t have to accept this one, but why don’t you hop on over to our website: www.zerotosoldtrailers.com and have a look around. At the least it will give you an idea of what you might want while you bargain shop around ☺

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blowing a Producer's Mind

Or the best moment in a writer's life!

We are so lucky to have a client experience just such an epiphany.

Producer was looking for a certain type of script. Our writer had pitched a story idea which they kind of sort of were okay with, but, you know, it wasn't written yet. Given it was only a $1,000,000 dollar budget they didn't want to pay to have it written then not be happy with it. Plus, maybe they would look around some more...

Next meeting (regarding another project), our writer says, hey, I've got a script trailer for that other idea, want to take a look?

A fast 60 seconds later the producer was so jazzed, they began negotiations to commission the script right then and there.

Ah, the power of good marketing tool!

Obviously, we can't share that trailer, but here's another one working its magic around the industry.

So even if you don't go with us, get yourself a book or script trailer!

Now. We mean it. Stop reading and go get one :-) video

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Platforms, They're not just for Politicians anymore!


In the publishing world the first thing an agent or publisher asks a new talent is... what is your platform?

Huh? I mean I wrote a book, I'm not running for office.

These days, it doesn't matter. The publishing world is run by very large corporation who in turn answer to even larger corporations. The world of 'giving a fresh new voice a chance' just to give a fresh new voice a chance is over.

They want to know, how will you make back your advance? How can they cross-promote? Can they spin this off into a franchise?

You need to be able to answer all of those questions.

First off, how will you make back your advance? The best way to prove this is to have a built-in following. That's where social networking comes in. MySpace. Facebook. Twitter. etc.

If you already have tens of thousands of followers, then the bet is at least a chunk of those is going to spend some dollars on you (even better if they already have in the form of an e-book, etc).

You are saying, great, but how in the heck do I develop thousands upon thousands of followers? Isn't that what the publishing house is supposed to do with their marketing campaign for my book?

Oh, you darling, sweet naive writer. Unless you are the next Dan Brown, there will be NO marketing budget for your book. No support. No tour. No ads. And you have to get your own blurbs, so deal with it.

The quicker you accept the fact you are responsible for selling your book, the gentler this will go for you! :-)

Now that we realize it is up to us, how do we get followers?

Okay, once you figure out how to get onto these websites, you are going to need content. You need to be witty, urbane, draw people in. But words alone aren't going to cut it. You need visuals.

Cover art (yeah, yeah, yeah, 'but that's what the publishing house is supposed to do' - and they will, but only AFTER you prove your book can sell) that rocks.

Think about it, why do we have cover art? We didn't used to. Just the title and leather, baby. These days, besides your title the cover art is the most important distinguishing characteristic your book has to sell.

So why not use that philosophy to GET YOUR BOOK SOLD?

And last, but not least a book trailer. Not going to go into deep detail here since the next blog is covering cover art and trailers in much great depth.

Alright, I think we've hit you with enough knowledge. Have a great day and think about how you can be promoting yourself TODAY. Go get a hundred new followers!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Why should that agent crack your manuscript/script?


They are busy. Like wicked, 14 hour days, family complaining they never see them, probably addicted to something to keep them going - kind of busy.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know your work is worth the time. It's worth a million bucks. But come on, let's get real. The number of honestly good stuff is like 0.0001% of the slush pile. And they know that.

And yes, maybe yours is in the very fine sliver of awesomeness, but why should they trust that?

Even with a referral in, that only gets you into the 2%-might-be-okay tier. They have like 98 other things they should be reading before yours.

Even if they do read it and like it, they are probably going to pass.

GASP! How could that be true? Because they already have a full slate of talent. If you aren't the next Hemingway (which who of us really are?) why should they bother?

You have to PROVE to them not only does your work have what it takes, but YOU have what it takes to sell this work. How will you be on a press tour? How much of a built-in following do you have? Do you know how to leverage your following?

Those are the practical concerns they have.

Next blog will be dedicated to being able to answer all of those questions - YES! :-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why a Script or Book Trailer?

I mean, you've just written the most awesome piece of fiction or non-fiction ever known to mankind. What else would you need to sell it?

Umm... Yeah. Maybe ten or twenty years ago that would have been enough, but now?

Now publishers and producers want to know one thing from you... How can they make their money back. Fast. And with little effort. And little marketing on their part.

So now you not only have to write the most awesome story ever, you have to SHOW everyone from an agent to the book buyers/studio execs that it has commercial appeal, and at the same time prove you have a viable platform, a winning personality, and the ability to go out there and sell your product.

If you can't get hundreds of people out to a Costco book signing or flub a Hollywood Reporter interview, what good are you for marketing?

Is this crass and the of the artistic world as we know it? Yeah, probably.

But if you want to get your work out there, you might want to learn the game and how to stack the odds in your favor.

And yes, you guessed it, we are going to recommend Book or Script trailers. We don't even care if you get them from us. You just need one. Period.

Imagine which you would prefer. You want to go to a movie. Would you rather read a review? Look at the movie poster? Or watch a trailer?

Duh. The same goes for Agents/Publishers/Producers. How much more engaging is a poster than dry text and a trailer over a still image?

Anyway, we will get off our soap box now and just hope you head on over to our website... www.zerotosoldtrailers.com