Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Search of a Slogan

As mentioned many times before on this site, my belief in the power of the social networking potential found on the Internet is strong. Twitter, Facebook and other such outlets have provided new friendships and valuable business connections. Other writers and a host of readers have offered tips about how to market my books. With that comes insight and firsthand experience as to what is effective.

One idea that has been mentioned is the idea of “personal branding.” How does an author (or any professional for that matter) create an image for himself that is memorable and unique? My goal is to be remembered as a writer that creates memorable characters and interesting storylines. Even though the setting in my books is a golf course it is a challenge to keep the readers’ interest whether or not they are interested in golf. The positive feedback suggests that the goal is succeeding.

But more importantly something is still needed and that’s a catchphrase! Admittedly, not every author has a slogan closely associated with his name, but why not? It’s a piece of personal branding that can be very successful. Stop for a second and think about it. What is James Bond without “shaken, not stirred” or Rice Krispies without the “Snap, crackle, and pop?”

If you know me and you’ve read Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, or Tuey’s Course, then help me come up with a good slogan. Here are a couple of ideas that have been running through my mind as possibilities:

“The intersection of real life and the game of golf”

“Golf, Life and the Parallels”

“A slice of America in Clubhouse Characters”

I’m sure you can do better! Leave me a comment with your suggestion. You just might become a part of my personal branding.

If you haven’t read any of my books, I hope you will do so. Whether or not you are a fan of golf, I think you will find the characters and their struggles relatable and interesting. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on my work!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What’s a Good Career Move for an Alcoholic, Womanizing Pilot?

There are great pilots who transport us safely to our intended destination even under the most challenging circumstances. A perfect example is Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot for US Airways who famously landed a plane bound for Charlotte in the Hudson River after its engines had an encounter with a flock of geese and saved the lives of all 155 passengers onboard. Then, there is Captain Jer.

After I finished Lifetime Loser I wanted to integrate a few more regulars into the mix inside the clubhouse. Captain Jer is a character that I introduced to readers in Finish Line. His role continued in Tuey’s Course. He is a retired pilot who needs a case of beer just to get through the first nine holes of a golf course and whose attitude towards women is less than respectful. I wouldn’t trust him to land on a dry, expansive runway in the middle of Kansas, let alone a body of water next to Manhattan.

So, what’s a womanizing, alcoholic ex-pilot to do besides harass the females at Prairie Winds Golf Course and offer his tips for curing a hangover? Here are a few thoughts:

· Star in a reality show called “Half-Cocked Captain” in which he drinks excessively and then tries to win over women with the charm of his uniform

· Become a judge at beauty pageants and ask inappropriate questions that leave the contestants flustered

· Try the approach from the movie Old School and start a fraternity for middle-aged guys who haven’t matured past the behavior of their days in college

I think all three of these career moves have potential!

If you haven’t already, I ask that you read one or more of my books and then determine your own professional fate for Captain Jer. With all of his obvious flaws, he is a memorable character who will make himself known wherever he decides to go.

Top Five Tips for Fellow Writers

With three published novels to my credit—Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course—and a fourth book on its way towards release, I believe that I have learned some valuable lessons about the writing and publishing process. With each book, I have built on the experiences, both good and bad, that I had with the previous novels. In addition to my own time spent in trial and error, I also have learned so much from other authors I have had the opportunity to meet during this journey.

I spent some time thinking about the advice that I can offer based on my time in the writing and publishing world, and would like to share what I believe to be the most important tips here:

1. Write about your passions – Your work will come across as the most authentic if you focus on what really grabs you. For me, it’s golf. I love the game of golf and I hope that comes across in the characters I’ve created in my books.

2. Network, network, network – You never know when you will meet someone who will want to help in the publicity of your book or who is connected to a group that would be naturally inclined to your subject matter.

3.Accept criticism – There are plenty of online writers’ forums and other venues through which you can get people to tell you that your work is wonderful. That serves no purpose other than to boost your ego. Find peers who will read your book and tear it apart until it reaches its full potential.

4.Do something every day – You need to be your best advocate when it comes to your books. There is a way that you can promote your work every day. It could be as simple as a call to the local book store. Make a list of ideas and keep crossing them off.

5.Learn social media – There are countless opportunities for authors that weren’t available just five years ago. If you don’t have accounts already, get connected with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other tools. You can use these sites to share your blog postings, book signings, new releases, and so much more.

I hope you find these tips helpful. What do you think? Are there other pieces of advice that you have learned from your own writing experience? Let us know!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One Moment Can Change Everything

You often hear the statement that one moment in time can change the course of a person’s entire life. What if that drunk driver had not drifted over the double yellow line? What if I had decided to marry my high school sweetheart instead of leaving her to pursue what I thought were more important dreams? How would my life be different if I had not decided to put one more coin into that machine and then watch as the cherries lined up to make me a millionaire? I am sure that we all can point to a few instances in which the direction of our lives took a sudden and irreversible turn. Sometimes these moments made our lives amazing, while other times we were left holding a great deal of regret.

For J.W. Schroeder (known as J Dub), the main character in my book Lifetime Loser, the pivotal moment occurred on a golf course. J Dub was attempting to earn a qualifying score to become a member of the PGA Tour and he had played the game in such a way that he was positioned to make this goal a reality. However, with one ill-fated stroke, J Dub falls just short of fulfilling his lifelong dream. He is left having to reevaluate the plans he had for his life and what must happen when a quick second in life leads you down an unexpected path.

The story of Lifetime Loser takes the readers through the ups and downs that J Dub encounters as he adjusts to life after his dream of being a golf player has been shattered. He starts a family, manages a golf course, and develops relationships both with great friends and shady characters. Through it all, J Dub reminds the readers of Lifetime Loser that we all need to make the most of those unexpected moments that life throws our way.

I hope that you will read Lifetime Loser and discover for yourself that even if life doesn’t develop the way you think it should, it still can be a great adventure!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Getting the Word Out About My Novels

This summer could not have been more pleasant. We enjoyed resort-type weather in the St. Louis area for June, July, August and September. The moderate temperatures were ideal for golf. As the warm summer weather starts to fade and the crisp autumn air takes its place, my daily priorities are starting to shift a bit. Work on the blog has increased and the marketing efforts have increased on the social networks that inundate the internet. With my three published novels now on the market for nearly a year and a fourth installment underway, the stories from Prairie Winds Golf Course keep coming. The constructive feedback, encouraging comments and positive reinforcement have energized me to continue the series.

So many of you have been kind enough to contact me and let me know how much you enjoyed my books—Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course. Golf aficionados have contacted me to comment about the entertaining stories from a golf setting. Women that have never played golf seem to enjoy the stories as much as men. Wives of a golfing spouse have told me how they liked reading about the relationships that are detailed in my books. Even those people that have never spent time in a golf cart or on a course have indicated how much they enjoyed the eclectic cast of characters and storylines.

If you have read one or more of my books and you enjoyed my work, would you please pass your thoughts onto others? I truly would appreciate it if you would post some thoughts at the book’s page on the Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble websites. All posted reviews really do matter. Readers and word of mouth seem to attract other readers.

Feel free to contact me from my web site. It’s always fun to hear directly from readers and fans. One of the greatest joys is meeting new people and forming some relationships that will last for a long time. Your input, ideas and comments are valued. You never know when one of those suggestions might make its way into a subplot. Please email me and share your thoughts!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Check Me Out on Facebook and Twitter

With three published novels and a fourth book that I am hoping will be released in the first half of 2010, I have learned quite a bit about the worlds of writing and marketing. I’m sure many authors will agree, particularly those who have chosen the self-publishing route, the hard work really begins after the final words of a book are written.
The entire writing process is fun! Once I develop my general plotline and character sketches, the books often take on lives of their own. The characters may even develop in ways that I don’t even expect when I sit down to engage them in a new scene. It’s enjoyable to create situations to place them in and experience how they interact with one another.
But, after the book is done and bound, how do you get people to take notice and spread the word to others?
Authors have so many publicity options that were not available to writers just five or ten years ago. Currently the social networking tools of Twitter and Facebook enable me to reach the reading audience. I am active on both sites and I would love for you to join me there.
You can simply look up my name on Facebook and search for James Ross from Saint Louis. On Twitter I am known as both @golfnovels and @JamesRossBooks. Please connect with me so that you can be one of the first to be notified of any book signings, radio appearances, or other events. I update all of my online information on a regular basis.
If you haven’t checked out any of my books yet, I hope you will do so. Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course all take place against the backdrop of the fictional Prairie Winds Golf Course. However, keep in mind that the story lines have universal appeal. They are not strictly about golf. That is merely the setting. Whether or not you are a fan of golf, I think you will enjoy the memorable characters you meet within the pages of my books!