That’s No Moon

Luke looks at the small moon.

“I have a bad feeling about that,” he says.

“Cut!” George yells. “It’s this. I have a bad feeling about this, not that!”

“Not what?”


“What are we talking about?”

But, I digress.

You’re a writer. You know how it goes. You wrote the darn thing, and now, if you wrote a book like mine, nobody will publish it. Except you. Or, in my case, me.

I got my last rejection letter today from an agency in Colorado – not even New York. They shot DROPPINGTON PLACE down in the twinkle of an eye – good, bad, or indifferent, it missed whatever target they had in mind.

So, I looked online at ways to get readers for my book. Gosh, there are a gazillion different people all saying the same thing: build a mailing list of readers, here’s how to use Facebook, here’s how to use Pinterest, Twitter your book to success… For just $25, I’ll send you my special program that shows you how to get readers…

A bell went off – it was either the bell of a real thought, or the timer telling me my chicken potpie was done. Let’s go with the thought.

Duh. Hello. Earth to moron.

If you wrote a best-selling novel, would you be online telling people how to sell their novel?

If you wrote a best-selling novel, would you be skimming 15% off of other authors to hawk their work to publishers?

If you were all that, wouldn’t you be doing all that, rather than sitting at home on your PC, trying to make a buck off of other writers.

Hello, McFly! There are easily a million books out there for FREE, each authored by someone just like you and me, or, well, maybe me, thinking that here’s the golden ticket. I’ll be a novelist, and smoke a pipe, and be unavailable for interviews because, frankly, I just don’t have it in me today. Perhaps next Thursday, after drinkies by the pool. Skip the day job – let’s make art our day job! Sorry, Arthur, not you. It’s not Art, just art.

But they don’t sell their books – they can’t sell their books, because they’re following the same advice: here’s how you sell you books online. Here’s what sells. Here’s a way to build readers.  THEY’RE ALL DOING THE SAME THING!

And, if everyone is doing the same thing, isn’t that tantamount to doing nothing?

Here’s one thing you’ll never, ever see: top dog marketers – really successful crack shots of the pitch – telling you their secrets. Not going to happen for two reasons: a) too busy making the wheels go around, and 2) sorry, that’s my secret.

The lesson for you, my authorial friend (again, not you, Arthur) is this: don’t believe the pitch. Don’t buy it. If it’s a free product, YOU are the product. If they offer some good advice with a wink and a nod, you can believe it’s a hoodwink, hoping you’ll nod off and buy their shtick.

The lesson for you, my marketing friend (yes, Mark, that’s you), and perhaps for me is this: we have to find what hasn’t been found. We, you and I, have to sail the marketing sea that hasn’t been crossed. We must pave the road for ourselves – because out there, in the brutal dog-eat-dog world of marketing – if you fall for somebody’s hook, that makes you a fish.

If you whisper “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” you’re right. That’s no moon. That’s some guy telling you it’s a moon so that you’ll linger on his web page and give him good stats that he can show to his advertisers to justify their payments to him.

Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a marketer.

Sorry – wrong franchise…


Going Responsive

Responsive websites? I always thought your website was responsive if you just answered your emails.

You’re a writer – you know how it is. You toil and slave over your book, you publish it yourself, you get your website, your Facebook page, your logo… and then, who knew, it’s useless if your website isn’t responsive. Useless. Who knew?

While, the standard, desktop, not-so-responsive website still has value if you’re a corporation that sells oodles of things that deserve their own big pictures and stuff, the little screen, however, is clearly the road ahead.

So, what does it mean to “go responsive?” It simply means that you scale your website to look good on mobile devices. That’s it.

Sort of. Once you scale your whole website down to that itty-bitty size, you realize that your whole outlook about your website changes. Gone are the stacked images, the carefully layered pages that had a certain snap to them. Gone are the cool, zoomy galleries of your favorite pictures.

Those big, splashy pages have been replaced with simple, easy-to-read, direct-to-the-point, cell-phone sized articles and galleries and images.

It’s great news if you’re a writer, which you are. All you have to do is write! You don’t have to be a web designer? You just write – that’s really what you and I do best anyway! has been a desktop site for quite a while. I built it with Open Element software – free!!!   But, Open Element doesn’t support responsive websites yet. Rats.

For around $30 USD, I found Serif’s WebPlus – I’m running x7, whatever that means. It has a set of really simple templates for making a responsive website. It was seriously easy to make the conversion.

I’m trying to sell my novel, Droppington Place. It’s aimed at the young adult market, which is comprised mainly of mobile device users. Market? Meet website. Website. Market.

As you know, I’m a big proponent of Gorilla Marketing – do nothing and hope for the best. I did a little something by going responsive, and now I don’t have to do anything else. My site is ready for the world to beat a path to my door.

Ah, success.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention my other Gorilla Marketing project – you’ll like this. It’s called Soon to be a Major Motion Picture. All you have to do is download Droppington Place – do it for free, if you’d like. Encourage your friends to do the same. If your friends tell their friends, who tell their friends, who tell…you get the idea… why, we’ll be way over a gazillion reads, which is more than enough for any savvy movie studio or book publisher to jump on the bandwagon and make Droppington Place into a major motion picture. Brilliant!

So, download Droppington Place, and go tell all your friends.

This is gonna be great!

Let the Marketers Market


You’re washing your face in the bathroom sink. The warm water makes a pleasant gurgle as it swirls down the drain. It’s California, so you don’t run the water too long.

Suddenly, the water reverses course, and comes up out of the drain.  Thinking quickly, you shut off the tap. No good. The water is gray and malicious, and soon the sink is full. It stops filling before the water spills over the edge, but just barely.

So? What do you do? The sink is full, which means the pipes under the sink are full. Are you a plumber?

In my household, I would attempt to fix it, would flood the bathroom, and never hear the end of it from my wife and teenaged daughter.

“Why don’t you just call a plumber?”

“I can fix it, honey! See, it’s just a… oh.”

Slosh, gush. Gaglub, gaglub, gaglub.

“Nice going, Dad.”

You’re a writer. You know how it is. We write, you and I. Unless you’re a marketing writer, the whole business of promotion and publicity is outside our bailiwick.

So, here we are in the world of self-publishing. I did all the work – I wrote Droppington Place, I edited it, had it read and ignored by family and friends, I published it, I created a Facebook page for Phineas Caswell, I opened a website,  PhineasCaswell, and I even bought a book about Dummies marketing on Facebook.

So far, I’ve sold 4 copies of the book – three to people I know and one that might actually be legit.

By day, I’m a technical writer/illustrator. I do what I do because I enjoy it, and am good at it. I’m not a plumber, although I do get my hands wet upon occasion. But, I am a miserable excuse for a plumber.

So, my writer friend, must it be true with marketing. Here we are in the most freewheeling, enabled, and unshackled time in history for writers – dude, anyone could read your book right now! – but are fettered at the gate of success by a lack of time and marketing knowhow.

The answer is to let the plumbers plumb and the marketers market. The answer is the same as it always was: do what you do best. If you need the help of a specialist, for goodness sake, hire the specialist!  Unless you can do your own dentistry.

As for me, I’ve got to fix this sink before my wife gets home… it’ll all be done and she won’t even know I did it myself until I tell her!

Crack. Gaglu, gaglug, gaglug…

Make Yourself a Magic Virus

Build the San Salvador 4

If you’re sick, don’t read this post. There’s a stupid wordplay about viruses that is, well, so bad that we’re just going to skip it.

When you have just under two minutes free, watch this video: Build the San Salvador 4. How about now?

You know how people eat up those “dude, you had one job” videos? That was the thinking behind this little gem. Have to tell you, it still cracks me up, and I had a hand in making it.

So, why make a movie – especially one as dumb as this?

Three little words, my friend. No, not I love you. Or hands up, suckah. No, no, no… and no, not no, no, no either. Magic, she gasped. Ah, yes, our mantra/manta/bantha.

It’s a tight circle, my friend, this marketing thing. At the end of the video, which is calculated to be just funny enough to appeal to a certain age – the very age I’m hoping will read Droppington Place – is my new little logo, and the whispered word “magic.”

So you, you’re so fascinated by the video, you type in PhineasCaswell.Com, just like you see it in the image at the end of the hilarious video, and there is a link to Droppington Place. You click on the link – blink – why, here’s a nifty book for you to read!

Like a spider’s web, one slimy tendril at a time, you have no choice but to be roped into reading at least the free sample. Bwahahahahahaha.

It didn’t take a great deal of effort to make the motion picture. Sort of like, really? And all this linking is sort of sleep-inducing. And, at the end of the day, YOU have to do all the clicking and reading and stuff.

NOW you can see how Gorilla Marketing works…or doesn’t work, because I’m not doing much work…oy, this get’s confusing.

So, click on the link (HERE it is again in case you can’t find it up there), and repeat after me:

“Magic,” she gasped.

If you’d like to read all of Droppington Place for free, go HERE, and type in the coupon code NJ38D. Boom. Freebie!

“Magic,” She Gasped.

Magic She Gasped Little Black2

“Magic,” she gasped.

Say it again: “Magic,” she gasped.

Tell your friends to say it: “Magic,” she gasped.

It’s a mantra, unless that’s the bat-shaped fish. Whisper it in your sleep.

“Magic,” she gasped.

What is it? What does it mean? Why should you care?

What makes a Subaru a Subaru? Actually, Subaru puts a comma in their statement – a comma with which I have never agreed. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. What does that second comma do? It makes a clause out of “it’s what makes a Subaru,” which isn’t a clause at all. It equally makes a clause out of “Love a Subaru,” which is a clause, but  is so widely separated by the non-clause that you have to remove the non-clause to see it, by which time you’ve simply beaten the whole darned thing to death…and doesn’t make me what to buy the car because they have trouble with punctuation.

“Magic,” she gasped. It’s a mantra, or manta. Or Banta if you’re into Star Wars.

I was trying to come up with a way to sell my book, and the only catchphrase I could think of was “buy my book.”

Hmmm, lacks a little something.

Hailey, one of the characters in my novel, Droppington Place, has a fascination with magic – just to point out that there, right in that sentence, is the proper use of commas to separate a clause – which causes her to utter the mantra/manta/banta phrase. Several times throughout the story she gasps the word “magic,” in what I sincerely hope is a running joke.

So, you see, sometimes your characters can give you a hint on what’s special in your work.

But, here’s the dealio, the thing, the bomb, the cat’s pajamas: What happens if you Google search “murder, she gasped”? Well, probably nothing yet, because I just loaded the tags.

But eventually, my impatient friend, you’ll go to either Phineas Caswell’s home page at, or to his Smashwords Droppington Place page.

If you simply Google Phineas Caswell, whose name appears beneath the logo, brings you all manner of Droppington Placey options.

Is this marketing genius? Does Procter and Gamble sell soap?

Or is it simply some degree of self-delusion that I’m making progress in marketing my book? Self-delusional like a fox!!!

Already, the pieces are falling into place…bwahahahahah.

You, because you’re a friend, can actually skip all the marketing hype and get Droppington Place by simply clicking HERE. When you get there, type in this Coupon Code: NJ38D, and you can get the book for free!!!

Why, that seems almost like…

“Magic,” she gasped.





Goodbye, Baby

DP FinishedStand by to eject bathwater on my mark.

Standing by, sir.


The bathwater is terminated.

Nice shooting, Lieutenant.

Roger that. The baby is outta here. Repeat: the baby is out of here.

Big ten four. Stand by for towelage.

Uh, negatory. Sorry. No can do.

Disregard that. Stand by to commence towelage on my mark.

Uh, sorry, skipper. No can do.

All hands, stand by. What’s with this gloomy Gus guff, Lieutenant. I believe I gave you an order.

Ten four on that, skipper. But, we don’t have, a, well…

Don’t tell me you ran out of towels.

Negative, sir. It’s just that, well, we ejected the baby with the bathwater.

Mongo Santamaria! You’re telling me we tossed the kid out the window?

Like a bullet, sir.

Well, there goes the towelage. All hands, prepare for battle stations. Angry mom at eight o’clock!

It turns out, writing a book is great fun. And it is great fun. Even though your imaginary friends, all those little voices in your head, drag you through the very depths of despair and pain and agony, the fact that you share that with them, that you are a witness to their travails – is an honor and a delight.

Oh, sure. That’s the cat’s pajamas, that part. Like ice cream for dinner every night of the week. Best of all, you tell all your friends that writing is the pits, it’s the worst – you feel like a zombie…hour after hour, typing, thinking, scribbling, coffee, beer, whatever. While, actually, your inner you goes “teehee, this is the best!”

Welp. The party’s over. They ate the pretty balloons. It’s crying time again, and you’re gonna leave me – I can see that faraway look in your eyes. Why must we get offa this cloud?


Yes, there is one more moment of glee, and that is when you join the Club of Shakespeare. All the world is a willing audience, hungry for your written words, longing for your thoughts, your ideas… and, once the book is published… Yo, lookit me, feedin’ the masses!

It’s a cerebral joy, and stunningly short-lived. I found no Disney at my door. Discovered Dreamworks dreaming of someone else. Ran across Random House randomly choosing someone else’s house.

No, the party’s over. Now comes the drudgery, the mind-numbing torture, of figuring out how to market this darned thing for real. It’s no longer a game, or a funny idea. Now it’s work, work, work, to get this product sold and out, into the sunshine where it belongs.

What? What’s that? How can you find it? Well, bless your generous soul, you have come to the right place. Let me pull your chair closer to the fire. Move it, dog. Make way for this most spectacular person.

Because you are you, and you’re a friend, I’ll let you have the book…for free!

No strings attached. Freebie. You go. Although, if you found it in your heart to write a dazzling review, I’m sure no one would be opposed to that…


Now, this is important: type in the coupon code NJ38D. When you do, the most wonderful book you’ll download with your free coupon will be yours – for free!!!

Of course, you could also visit the author’s site,

Now, to find that baby…

Marketing with Castanets



Let’s be clear: I don’t like castanets. Those clickity-clackety chips of annoyance can only be played by Spanish ladies with fingers like hummingbirds. I can play a bunch of things: flute, guitar, piano, Pandora – but, those nasty little wooden clackers of doom must be powered by voodoo or something. Hate ‘em. Even that clattery little noise they make sets my nerves on edge… sounds like somebody playing a skeleton. However, they do pave the way for a lame pun. If you know me, you know I love those.

Anybody’ll tell you that it never all comes in one package. Instead of wishing for a ship to come in, wish for a procession of small boats… a flotilla of good-news-bearing yachts.

If a ship comes in, that’s only because you won the lotto, or Raspy Crackers won  the third race at Del Mar. It doesn’t happen. If you think that your ship’s gonna come in… well, my friend, I hope it does.

In marketing, you don’t want your ship to come in. Stay out there, my seafaring friend, cruise around, spread the word.

Think of all the one-hit-wonders you’ve ever heard of – folks who made a killer splash all at once, but then were gone. Pet rocks. A dozen rock ’n’ roll bands that you can’t even name, but their song was pretty cool.

One ship. One big hit. A ton of cash today, but, tomorrow?

The fisherman that drops the hook is planning on bringing in a big fish. I’m gonna make a killer pile of dough on this baby. If the fish goes vegan, or saw what happened to cousin Wally in these very waters just yesterday, the line comes up empty.

The fisherman with the nets routinely feeds his family because he brings in many small fish over time. His plan is to score many, many small hits. The aggregate effect is the same, if not better, than his single-hit brother. Sure, the brother makes the occasional big buck, and laughs at the net-gathering sibling. But the folks at the bank smile at net boy, because he is constantly in there, making his deposits.

It’s not unknown for a tuna to wander into a small fishing net. At first the fisherman thinks it’s the score of a lifetime…we’ll eat for a year! But then the reality sets in: the net is torn, and the ability to gather tiny fish is lost.

You’ve read about those companies that make a nifty niche product, and one day find themselves approached by the likes of Costco or Walmart. Their production model changes, their business model changes, their focus changes, as they ramp up to meet the incredible demand of the super retailers. The dollars are nearly huge – our ship came in!

But next year, the big retailers turn away to another supplier, and the customer base, the loyalty, the little fish, are gone. Filing for Chapter 11 is seldom pleasant.

Your marketing, then, might do well if you consider casting nets… oh, there it is: castanets! My humble apologies.