Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Amazon Turbocharges Book Marketing – but at what Price

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Nicholas Rossis has a great take on Amazon’s new book marketing options…but beware, folks.

As I said to Nicholas at his blog, the big indies I know do not need this service; they are already discovered. And the middling-sized ones who might need it probably can’t afford it, while the struggling indies (I’d put myself in this category) have no way to pay for it whatsoever whether they need it or not. (I’d like to think I don’t, and that I’m growing my audience organically. Maybe that’s a forlorn hope, but that’s my hope.)

Anyway, do go read Nicholas’s insightful post, and see what you think.

———————— Nicholas’s post follows:

The Passive Guy alerted me to a big change in the way Amazon does book marketing. As Amy Collins of The Book Designer reports, starting today, Amazon is expanding its Amazon Marketing Services (AMS…

Source: Amazon Turbocharges Book Marketing – but at what Price

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 1, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Trying WattPad

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Folks, it’s no secret that I’m looking for more readers for my series about Bruno the Elfy and his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, Sarah. I’ve tried a number of things to get the word out about my writing, with mixed success…and sometimes, that makes me quite frustrated.

That said, I’ve heard some great things about WattPad, especially for urban fantasy authors. And after checking out the site, I decided to upload my first chapter of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE there, in the hopes it might garner a few reads, comments, and maybe even some reviews or sales down the road.

Now, why did I pick this novel rather than AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE to start with? I figured it might be an easier “get,” if that makes sense, because it’s obvious from the start that Bruno and Sarah are young, they are in love, and they are in a huge amount of trouble. For a young adult urban fantasy reader, that’s most of what they either want or need to see (along with the magical component, which both Bruno and Sarah have in spades).

Note that I discussed various methods of promotion with my publisher, Lida Quillen, months ago, and Lida assured me that anything I did was fine with her.

That’s why I posted the first chapter of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE at WattPad today. (Go take a look if you don’t believe me.)

So, for the next three weeks, I’m going to post my sample chapters. They are already up at the Twilight Times Books website, so if you’ve come to my blog looking for more of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, please go there forthwith and read the rest right now…and if that intrigues you, please go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or OmniLit and get yourself a copy of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE today.

Happy weekend, folks!

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

Time for a February #MFRWHooks Blog!

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It’s time for a Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks promotion! And as it’s a whole lot easier to write that as a hashtag (#MFRWHooks, for short), I think I’ll just do that for the remainder of this blog.

An Elfy on the LooseIn combination with #MFRWAuthor ReTweet Day (which I discussed yesterday), I decided to take part in this week’s #MFRWHooks. I’ve done this before, as it’s an excellent way to let new readers know about my comic YA urban fantasy/romance novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (say that five times fast — I dare you!).

So without further ado…let the #MFRWHooks Blog Hop, February 11, 2015, edition, begin!

The rules of the #MFRWHooks blog hop are simple: You post six to eight lines of your novel plus a short blurb, and then you head to the next hop.

Ready? Here’s eight lines from the first chapter of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Note that at this time, Bruno the Elfy’s name is still Jon…as to why? (You need to read the book to find out, though this brief excerpt is part of the answer.):

“While you’re pacing, will you please tell me your name?” Jon asked. “No one here has asked my name, and no one gave me their name in response, and, well, well—it’s just bad manners!”

“I think my parents are terrified the Elfy-Welfies, being so elusive, are that way because of the souls they’re supposed to have stolen,” the girl said softly. “Which the Elfys never could have done if names hadn’t been freely given—”

“What utter rubbish!” Jon interrupted.


I hope you enjoyed that little snippet. But perhaps you’d rather read a short blurb about what AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is about instead?

Bruno the Elfy believes he’s very young, has no power, and has no enemies.

He’s wrong.

Quickly sent to our Earth (the Human Realm) and told to watch for magic, Bruno must unravel the lies, keep his mentor from being tortured, and—oh, yeah—figure out why he’s so strongly attracted to young, Human Sarah.

Because his life depends on it.

* * * * * End blurb * * * * *

Or maybe you’d just like to read more of the sample chapters? (If so, here they are.)

Or maybe — just maybe — something here intrigued you. If that’s the case, here are my buy links:

Amazon (US):
Amazon (UK):
Barnes and Noble:

Now, go be fruitful and multiply — or at least make your way to the next blog in the hop by visiting as that’s the easiest way to discover any number of other interesting books, all featuring at least a small hint of romance.


Written by Barb Caffrey

February 11, 2015 at 3:45 am

E-Quill Publishing Features Michael’s Stories

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Cover Page for "On Westmount Station"

I’m very pleased to announce that my late husband Michael’s work is being featured at the e-Quill Publishing Web site.  Please see this link for further details:

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

Michael B. Caffrey is an eBook author from the USA. Due to the tireless devotion of his wife and fellow author, Barb Caffrey, Michael’s works continue to live on even though he passed away suddenly of an illness in 2004.

Much of what Michael wrote has been edited, and in some parts, co-authored by his wife Barb, who has succeeded in capturing the essence and ‘feel’ of Michael’s style. Not an easy accomplishment but one she achieved well, given her intimate knowledge and understanding of her husband’s style.

Titles released through e-Quill Publishing

Among those works listed through e-Quill Publishing, are included the popular Columba series, a fantasy magical series written for his wife Barb. The titles include

Columba and the Cat (2002)

Columba and the Committee (2002)

Columba and the Crossing (2004)

Columba Collection of short stories (2010).

Michael also wrote science fiction, creating the Joey Maverick series, a series set in an alternate far future setting. 

A Dark and Stormy Night (2001)

On Westmount Station (2010)

***** End Press Release *****

Please note there are more stories on the way, at least four more in the “Joey Maverick” universe, at least one more in the “Columba” fantasy universe, and of course there are many, many more stories in my Elfyverse, which Michael helped me start and without his influence wouldn’t be the same place.

Michael’s work deserved to live; so did he, but unfortunately despite my fervent wishes (and, I’m sure, his), that did not happen.  That his stories live on is a blessing, though never as much a blessing as was his presence in my life.

Know that I will work as fast as I can to get more stories written or finished.  I’m very pleased that there has been demand for these stories, and I want you all to know that as long as I’m alive, I will continue to work on all of this along with my own Elfyverse and all other stories that were in progress at the time of Michael’s death but for a time had to be set aside until I was once again ready to deal with them.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm

The Economy 2, SF/F magazines, 0 — or, RoF and DoD shut down due to poor sales figures.

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I was shocked to read at this evening that both Dreams of Decadence and Realms of Fantasy (also called DoD and RoF by cognoscenti) are shutting down immediately due to poor sales figures.  I knew Realms of Fantasy was in trouble; I didn’t know Dreams of Decadence was also in trouble, though they were both owned by the same parent company.

Warren LaPine, the publisher of Realms of Fantasy, said this in his final letter from the publisher, available at this link :

I invested more than $50,000.00 of my own money into reviving (Realms of Fantasy). I tried every traditional method I could think of to increase the circulation, but nothing worked. I also spent a great deal of money trying nontraditional methods. I advertised online with Google and Facebook, neither of which came close to covering their costs. And we created DRM-free electronic versions of the magazine to see if that would help increase our circulation. Sadly, the DRM-free versions never sold more than twenty five copies per issue, and the Kindle editions sold fewer still.

 As things stand, I would need to invest another large amount of money simply to continue publishing the magazine at its current level—an investment that I do not believe would have any chance of repaying itself. So, unfortunately, I have no choice but to close Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence.

This is horrible news for readers, who now have fewer choices when it comes to quality magazines that publish science fiction and fantasy, but it’s even worse news for writers.  Simply put: the economy gets us coming and going.  We all scramble for the available markets, and while a few new ones have opened that seem very, very good (Redstone SF, Daily Science Fiction, and John Joseph Adams’ new Lightspeed magazine), it seems that every time we turn around, there’s another venerable SF&F magazine like RoF biting the dust.

It’s sad.  It’s shocking.  And I wish I didn’t have to report such horrible news.

The only potential good that may come out of Mr. LaPine’s note as of 10/18/2010 is that he’s willing to sell Realms of Fantasy for $1.  That’s right.  One whole dollar.  But don’t try to buy it unless you’re willing to put at least as much money — and time — as Mr. LaPine . . . I know that if I had at least $50K start-up, I’d be glad to buy Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence and put everyone back to work.

But I don’t.  And many writers/editors are like me — flat-out busted.

So for now — and perhaps forever — we must bid adieu to these two fine magazines.  How I wish it weren’t so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2010 at 4:05 am

Narrative fail: why Lauren Froderman from SYTYCD is no “sex bomb.”

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Full disclosure:  I have watched the reality TV program “So You Think You Can Dance” for several years now — since season two.  Which is why I believe an attempted framing of the narrative failed this season.

Lauren Froderman is eighteen years of age, a recent high school graduate, and is from Phoenix, Arizona.  She also is the season seven winner of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and was extolled as “a perfect female dancer” time and time again by Mia Michaels, choreographer and judge.  She also was told again and again by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and judge, and Adam Shankman, well-known producer and judge, that she had “become a woman” on the show and was the epitome of sexiness when she danced.  She also was told that she was the “best female dancer” they’ve “ever had on the show” time and time again.

Um, excuse me.  No.  She.  Wasn’t.

Look.  I’ve watched SYTYCD every season since Benji Schwimmer’s year and win (season two), and I know what dancers have been through there.   Alison Holker, one of this year’s All-Stars (dancers from previous seasons who did not win, but impressed the judges, and were brought back to dance with this season’s eleven finalists), was probably the best all-around female dancer they’ve ever had — and she was in season two’s cast.  Other excellent female dancers have included Heidi Groskreutz (season two), Lacey Schwimmer, younger sister of Benji (season three), Chelsie Hightower (season four), Katee Shean (season five), and this season’s Ashley Galvan.  All of them, without fail, were more mature as dancers than Lauren Froderman, and projected more sexuality and sass, perhaps because nearly all of them were older than Lauren Froderman.

This doesn’t mean Lauren Froderman can’t dance.  She can.  She’s very good, but she’s also rather juvenile — she has almost no figure because she’s so young and she’s danced herself to under two percent body fat, no doubt — and she looks like she’s maybe fourteen years of age no matter how much makeup they put on the poor girl.

Now, did she work hard enough to win SYTYCD?  Of course she did.  SYTYCD is brutal, as shown by the fact that two dancers this season came up with severe injuries (Alex Wong, Ashley Galvan) and two more had injuries which, while not season-ending, didn’t help them (Lauren Froderman was injured two or three weeks from the end with a concussion and severe dehydration but danced anyway, while Billy Bell had to take a week off due to a knee problem). 

Lauren Froderman is as deserving as anyone who survived this year’s SYCYTD ; the problem is, why was it that there were no female dancers available who were up to the weight of Alison Holker, Lacey Schwimmer, et. al.?  And why was it, with the exception of Alex Wong and Billy Bell, that so few male dancers were up to the weight of past male contestants such as Travis Wall (runner-up, season 2), Danny Tidwell (runner-up, season 3), Will Wingfield (season four), or Ade Obayomi (season five), one of this year’s All-Stars?

The main problem I had with this year’s SYTYCD was the blatant manipulation by the judges Lythgoe, Michaels and Shankman.  We knew from the first they wanted Alex Wong, which didn’t bother me so much as he was excellent; then after he was injured, they hitched their wagon to Kent Boyd, who was charming and likable but also extremely young at eighteen years of age, but they obviously were also rooting for Lauren — especially as she was the only female contestant left standing around the top seven dancer mark. 

I don’t mind rooting, but I do mind blatant favoritism, and it gets old to hear “you are everything,” as Michaels said over and over again.  Because when that’s all a judge can say, it means someone isn’t doing their job to give constructive critiques to help these young dancers —  it means instead that someone is attempting to frame the narrative.

At any rate, Lauren Froderman is a very good, highly competent dancer.  She’s not great at ballroom, but she was good at everything, and was exceptional in her own specialty, contemporary dancing.  (AKA “fall, roll, fall, flail.”  That’s all it looks like to the uninitiated.)  She didn’t need the judges to tell her she was the sexiest woman who ever walked, or need the judges to tell her that her butt was the best part of the season (this happened again and again) — all she needed was for the judges to praise her dancing for its consistency, not all that other stuff.

I consider what judges Lythgoe, Michaels and Shankman did in extolling thin-as-a-board Lauren Froderman as the epitome of female sexuality a failure to frame the narrative, because while Lauren Froderman was a deserving winner, she did not exude sexuality or maturity as a dancer — she’s far too young for any of that — and the judges telling her that she did was a major disservice to the poor girl.

One final thought on this subject.   Season Three’s winner was a gal named Sabra Johnson, who was spunky and cute and a good dancer in a wide variety of styles.  But she hasn’t made a mark on the dance world since then, partly because she probably won too early in her development.   It’s possible Sabra listened to the hype, which was similar to the hype Lauren has been dealing with for the past several weeks — it’s also possible that Sabra’s development as an artist stopped because the competition messed with her head.  (As a former competitive musician, I understand this aspect.)  I can only hope that Lauren will realize as she matures that SYTYCD is only part of her life, part of her eventual career, and come to a more realistic self-image: that of an outstanding dancer, but one on the spunky and cute side rather than a “sex bomb” like Anya Garnis (yet another of this season’s All-Stars, from season four).

— Note: Dancers are athletes.  Even Gatorade has recognized this.  Which is why this post ended up in sports figures and sports marketing as well as the others.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 13, 2010 at 3:14 am

Bad Commercials: How to Damage the Narrative.

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We all see commercials on television every day.  Someone thinks up these commercials, writes scripts for the commercials, casts actors in the commercials and shoots the commercials.  Which means someone is trying to frame the narrative in a constructive, preferably positive, way.

But what happens when you get a bad commercial, one that not only fails to frame the narrative in the expected way, but actually brings up a terrible reaction?

I’m not the only writer who’s thought of this issue; there are blogs and blogs of information about bad commercials out there.  Here are just two:

There’s even a Web site posting that claims even bad commercials, those which you can only describe as “cringe-worthy,” are good for you:

My contention is far more humble.  I have watched much live television lately (Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, mostly) and cannot fast-forward through commercials, so have been forced to deal with three horrible commercials.  I am uncertain how to put up video links, so I will describe the commercials instead — if I later get video links, I will be happy to update this post.

The first, and worst, commercial I’ve seen during the Brewers telecasts is one for Motorola Droid phones.  There’s this thirtyish nebbish, a dark-haired, dark-eyed, rather frazzled man who’s still at work but is about to take a break.  He looks at his Droid phone, which has Blockbuster pre-loaded as an application (or “app”), and suddenly he can see his three-inch cell phone clear as day due to eyes that look to be straight out of the original “Terminator” movie.

Now, why doesn’t this commercial work?  (In a writerly sense, why does this narrative fail?)  Simple.  First, the guy is at work.  Yes, people check their cell phones at work, but very, very few are going to be watching movies at work — and if they do, they most likely would be doing it as a work exercise so could use a better computer.

For the record, I also thought the guy was too intense, too focused and too driven to watch a movie at work; when his eyes bug out and turn into reddish-black orbs that expand outward, I felt disgusted and almost lost my lunch.  The visual image that Motorola was trying to convey was that their little three-inch phone is more than powerful enough to play a movie — but what I got instead was a picture of an insecure, unsettled man who’s about to throw his job away because the telephone has messed with his brain.

Big thumbs-down to that.

My second least-favorite commercial during Brewers games is one for Miller Lite Beer.  (There are several for Miller Lite I don’t care for, but this is the worst of the lot.)  A couple is sitting in the park; the guy (he’s African-American, as is his girlfriend) is extolling the virtues of his beer.  (Very common in beer commercials.)  Then, when his girlfriend asks why her boyfriend loves her (as he’s been saying why he loves his beer for most of the minute commercial,) he can’t come up with anything.   As time starts to run out with the commercial, he tells her that he likes her hair (though he says “I like what you’re doing with this,” twirling a piece of her hair in the process), he loves “all her teeth,” and asks in desperation why she loves him.

Of course, she says, “You’re my soulmate.”  (Odd soulmate to have, IMO, but I’ll go along with it for the case of argument.)

What is his reply?  “Ditto.”

The narrative intended to be framed here is simple: if you drink Miller Lite, you’ll love your beer so much it’ll crowd everything else out of your head.  But what I got instead is, if you drink Miller Lite, you’ll turn into an insensitive, inarticulate jerk.

So these folks get a big thumbs-down as well.

The third is less offensive, but just as annoying.  It’s for a local car dealership, Porcaro Ford in Racine, WI.  These commercials (there are a series of them) always start out with someone using the “Dragnet” theme — “dum-de-dum-dum,” then one of the guys starts talking about what a crime it was that a lady customer had gone somewhere else.  But now that the woman has come in to see them (it’s all rendered in cartoon format, too, which I find cheesy rather than amusing), she has her pick of cars and Porcaro will give her top dollar on her trade whatever she picks.

The narrative here is that Porcaro is honest — they won’t “rob” you (their whole thing about how they’re “working robbery out of the Racine division” tips you off to that aspect), they won’t cheat you, they’ll give you “top dollar” — but also that they’re so relentless that they won’t leave you alone.

Now, why would I get that out of a simple 30 second spot or at most one minute spot?  Simple.  This commercial is played over and over again, as are the other two I mentioned during Brewers telecasts.  And because they’re played multiple times per game, and there are 162 games in a season — well, let’s just say these commercials go from mild dislike to active hatred to visceral disgust in a matter of days.  And the longer I see them, the less likely I am to get a Miller Lite beer, purchase a Droid phone from Motorola (much though I know Motorola needs to stay open and employs many people in Northern Illinois), or most especially go to Porcaro Ford.

These commercials, as marketing, are probably reaching someone.  I can’t imagine who really likes these commercials, though I can see a guy being mildly amused by the Miller Lite commercial and perhaps if you’ve only seen the Porcaro Ford commercial once, it might not annoy you.  (I can’t figure out for who, or what the purpose was, or even why that Droid commercial was aired once, much less multiple times.  Sorry.)

But as an exercise in framing the narrative, they have failed.

What are the worst commercials you’ve seen?  And do you think most commercials actually hit the target, miss the target, or are somewhere in between?  (In other words, do most commercials actually frame the right narrative?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 9, 2010 at 3:11 am