What’s up, party people? I’m Joshua Unruh, novelist and Czar of Marketing for Consortium Books. Here’s why you should care what I think.
Crimes and Misdemeanors
I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. That’s pretty normal for everybody. But I’ve also had a lot of careers and that tends to be a little more rare. So, working backward in time, here are the high points of my working life.
Finishing a novel is the first thing I did to get Aaron Pogue’s attention. The second thing I did was “know a guy” every time we discussed something we wanted to try for the Consortium. But the third thing I did was write promotional copy for a couple of his and Courtney Cantrell’s books. But it wasn’t just promotional copy, it was damned good promotional copy. It was, I think, so good that Aaron and Courtney didn’t realize they’d been writing bad promo copy.
But I’m supposed to be justifying my position, so I’ll talk more about this at the bottom of the post.
Through a twist of timing and hormones, I volunteered to stay home with my son. That was five years ago, and I’ve never regretted it. One reason amongst many is that it afforded me the opportunity to do something I’d always wanted to do but convinced myself I didn’t have time for: writing stories.
I’ve been an avid reader all my life and nearly as avid a player of tabletop roleplaying games, so I was no stranger to stories and their telling. As you’ll see in my job history, I was no stranger to writing things either. But I had never made a real effort to tell my own stories from start to finish.
Before that I was a private investigator. This is probably my favorite gig other than novelist and is my official “cool guy” job. For about three years I operated as a private investigator and did all kinds of cases.
- I helped a family declare a man incompetent so he could get the help he needed.
- I aided the local police in some drug busts; I busted a couple bail jumpers and hauled them back into custody
- Of course, I did my fair share of catching cheaters.
- I also had to outrun and almost shoot a dog.
- Some county deputies illegally searched me and then ran me off a case.
- And I had a couple guns pointed at me by some city cops in a positively wild misunderstanding.
These were good, fun-filled years.
I lump this time all together because, while the skills were very different, they all worked very well together. Right out of college, I worked on both the public relations and advertising side of one of Oklahoma City’s larger agencies. I’d received a degree in PR with a minor in marketing, so these jobs were more or less what I wanted to do.
Or so I thought. The deeper I got into the business, the more I realized I liked being a suit okay, but what I really wanted to do was write some copy and get more involved in the creative side of things. Still, I got to put a lot of my basic marketing knowledge to work and, even more importantly, figured out which bits of my education were outmoded or just plain junk.
From there I went into advertising sales. The money was a lot better and I got to talk with a lot more people. Also, my marketing skill set allowed me to be more of a consultant to my clients (when they’d let me). Here is where I developed my utter lack of fear when it comes to talking to people — even people who are probably going to yell “NO!” at me and slam doors in my face.
I Didn’t Land on Consortium Rock, Consortium Rock Landed on Me
When I met Aaron, it was mainly in my mind that I needed both some help with and an outlet for my creative writing. I think Aaron was just excited to have another writer on tap.
But once he figured out I had a background in marketing and advertising and a total disregard for the terror talking to strangers engenders in some people, he put me to work.
But what do I actually DO?
- I look for strategic opportunities to leverage the Consortium brand in ways that will be visible to the people most likely to care.
- Our budget is not large right now, but I’ve already started laying the groundwork for when we want to do more ambitious advertising. For instance, I’ve spotted some likely ad venues and lined up some talent to put the ads together should we want to.
- I look for ways to get our books in front of more people inexpensively and effectively, such as reviewers, blog book tours, or convention appearances.
- I write copy for any of our services, explanatory brochures, web pages, and novels.
Covering Your Backside
I got the job of writing back cover — that is, promotional — copy mainly because I’m better at it than anyone else at the Consortium. That’s not ego and it isn’t natural talent alone. There are two very good reasons I’m currently better at it.
- More practice thinking and writing in terms of ad copy. I have spent more years than any other member thinking about copy that will grab you immediately, that will tell you the most information in the least space, and that will get you excited about the product. PRACTICE MAKES BETTER. (Sound like familiar advice?)
- The other reason I write better back cover copy is because of the types of books I write.
But we’ll talk about my kind of novels and why they make my back cover copy awesome next week. See you then!
Joshua Unruh is the Marketing Czar for the Consortium and author of the grim fantasy Saga of the Myth Reaver: Downfall. Every Thursday he shares an article about marketing, sales, and product promotion in the new book market.