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Deep South


What the Heck is Favorable Attention?

“What the heck is favorable attention?” a friend asked me today.  My respond was simply:  “It’s a conversational game-changer.”

Of course, this begged more question, so I commenced with a more in depth explanation along with some examples.  Favorable Attention is all about appealing to your listener’s pride.  So what does appeal to pride mean?  Look for something that is of importance to your listener and compliment them on it.  For example, did a positive change recently occur in the life of the person you’re talking with?  This could be a new job, promotion, engagement, new home, recent vacation, accomplishment of a goal, new car, etc.  Or is there a known quality about that person that you admire?  If any of these exist, acknowledge and compliment them on it.  One of the best examples of this is actually given in my book “The Diamond Thieves” of the Extra Innings trilogy when the character Pastor Cook is trying to get the attention of the adults who are in an uproar over T.J. playing in the 4th of July baseball game because T.J. is black and their sons are white.  (Remember this trilogy takes place during the late 1940’s to early 50’s in the Deep South and encompasses the theme of social injustice.  Cook compliments the feuding men by calling them “intelligent men” and goes a step further by acknowledging that “everyone here knows that about you.”

Imagine the opposite.  What would happen if you’re initiating your conversations with an insult?   Immediately, your listener would become defensive.  For example, if a manager or supervisor was trying to counsel an unproductive or insubordinate employee and starts off the conversation with:  “I don’t know what’s come over you?  You use to be our top producer and lately you’re sales are worse than some of our newbies.”  Versus if the boss starts the counseling like this:  “You have more integrity than most anyone I’ve ever worked with and historically, I can always rely on you for outstanding results.  Help me to understand what’s been getting in the way of your performance lately and let’s see if we can work together to get you back on track.”   You’ve appealed to the listener’s pride by complimenting them on their integrity and past reliability to perform.  There is nothing about this sentence that would trigger the listener to become defensive.  This allows them to continue the coaching session with an open mind and without the distraction of a defensive wall.

My father, Wes Gibson is who taught me about Favorable Attention.  He was a VP with Goodyear and is a master at this skill.  He learned it from his father, my grandfather, Charles Gibson who had a successful career with the Singer Sewing Company.  This skill, like most, is not developed overnight.  It takes continuous practice.  When mastered, it will take your conversation skills to a whole new level and allow you to leverage any conversation to ensure that your listener receives a clear message from you with fewer distractions.  It also allows the listener to walk away feeling good about the conversation.  Remember the Maya Angelou quote from my last blog “A Writer’s Worth of Mouth.”  Maya said: “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  So why not say something that makes them feel good about themselves.  This will also keep you in a positive light in their mind and allow for a better connection between you and them.  Appeal to their pride with a compliment and this will gain you the Favorable Attention you need to make a more positive lasting impression and get your message across without any major roadblocks.


Niche Rhymes with …

Completing this sentence: “Niche Rhymes with …”  all depends on how you pronounce the word “niche.”  Some pronounce it “neesh” but I’ve always pronounced it “NITCH.”

Today’s blog title is referring to niche (‘nitch’) marketing and I’ve’ phrased it this way to suggest that this particular type of marketing CAN be a real pain in the @$$.  Allow me to explain myself  …

The goal of offering a new product or service is sales and customer satisfaction.  In order to optimize this effort you must have a clever marketing campaign which communicates the value of your product or service to potential customers.  Your niche is whatever category or area you specialize in.   And within the entire marketplace there is a subset  interested in your niche.  The trick is effectively reaching these folks with the right target marketing.  Some writers and bloggers may have a niche that makes it more difficult to reach their specific subset and when you’re a novice like me, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

Let’s start with bloggers.  One of the most popular blog sites on the internet today is called bloglovin.  Bloglovin makes it easy for blog enthusiasts to “follow their favorite blog as well as discover new ones.”  Bloglovin features the most popularly searched blog categories on the internet.  These niche categories include: Art, Beauty, Design, DIY & Crafts, Music, Books, Film, Fitness, Family and Travel to name a few.  Nowhere among this list the most commonly blogged about categories do I see “Marketing” or “Target Marketing” or “Historical Fiction.”  There’s not even a category for Writers & Poets.  There is a category for “Books” but it’s is more for book reviews.  I’m not blogging about book reviews.  Since my blogs do not match one or any of those “most popular” categories I am, therefore, climbing a much steeper hill towards gaining followers.  (My goal is to gain at least 2,000 followers by the end of this year).   So see what I mean by the title I’ve chosen for this particular blog?  If you’re not marketing within a popular niche it can become a struggle.  I’ve been researching dozens of credible bloggers to help enhance my knowledge to write a good blog that will hopefully help or inspire new and emerging authors, however, my topics are not in a category that produces a large volume of followers.

For example, Celebrity updates and gossip is a very popular niche market.  Just look at American Blogger Perez Hilton and the fame he’s self-generated.  He’s stepped into the real of television personalities based on his blogs which generated hundreds of thousands of followers because he blogged about what people want to hear: Celebrity Gossip.  Unfortunately, for me, identical twins Jimmy and Billy McGee of my books from the Extra Innings trilogy are not celebrities – although they do have some very interesting drama between them (especially in Books 2 and sadly Book 3).

Now let’s talk about writers.  Marketing Expert in Small Business Success Kim T. Gordon recently wrote a great blog titled “3 Rules of Niche Marketing.”

The first rule she talks about is “Meeting Unique Needs.”  I’ve read this article numerous times and I believe I am doing this with my blogs and especially my book.  I spend a lot of times in Barnes & Noble perusing the historical fiction and young adult fiction aisles to study my competition.  I feel this is a critical task for a new authors.  These are some of the questions a new author should be asking themselves while they are researching their competition:  Does your story provide something that is new and compelling?  Are you speaking in the language of your niche market?  Are you matched up to the key selling points, pricing and distribution method that your niche market requires?  If not, you have some revamping to do.

I feel my books are well-tailored to the young adult readers who enjoy historical fiction, are family-oriented and concerned with racial injustice and social issues.  Of course, it does help that the relationship between the 2 main characters, Jimmy and Billy, sparks some pretty juicy drama.

The difficulty I am having is communicating this to potential readers.  Primarily because Book 1 focuses on a different theme than Books 2 & 3 which are more about young adult issues.  What readers mostly perceive when they see the cover of Book 1 (The Diamond Thieves) is that it’s a baseball book.  This is the primary theme of Book 1 but it’s wrapped around a much deeper and more controversial context.  The boys are trying to secure usage of the school’s baseball diamond but their best friend, T.J., is black.  Being that the Extra Innings trilogy is set in the Deep South circa the late 1940’s, T.J. becomes a main focal point with respects to the enemies (known as “the mob”) who are trying to take over the diamond from the twins and their friends.  Much of our nation’s current morale foundation has been shaped by our past struggles with racial injustice.  I wanted to show this town as a beacon of hope during a time of extreme intolerance.  I like that the character who steps forward as the principle hero around this topic is not who the reader is expecting.  It’s very endearing.  This is actually one of the best parts of the story (aside form Chapter 12 which I have mentioned in past blogs is one of my favorite chapters out of every book I’ve ever read).  The trick is, at face value, the book screams baseball.  So I am missing a more important subset of the market.  Baseball fans are not particularly going to get a re-invention of “The Sandlot” – if that’s what they’re looking for.  So when targeting my niche marketing efforts I need to find a clever way to reach the young adult subset that would be interested in a story pertaining to social injustice in America without confusing them by the book’s title.  I’ve been considering blogging more about topics followed by young adults.  Although this would not help provide advice to new and emerging authors, which is my goal, it would help attract more followers from the subset of the market which is more likely to read Extra Innings.




Top 2 Mistakes Authors Make with their Target Market

I am pumped to be able to talk about a topic that is so important to the success of a writer’s novel. Defining your target market is the most important first step for an author. It’s also one of the most difficult. It involves an understanding of who is your ideal reader (notice I have not puralized ‘reader’).

First start with asking yourself: What is the genre of the story you wish to tell? This is should be simple as most stories typically fall into one bucket. For example, the Extra Innings trilogy is Historical Fiction. Other book genres include:

  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Children’s
  • Biographies
  • Poetry
  • How To/Self-Help
  • Cookbooks
  • Comic Books (which is what I grew up mostly reading)
  • Travel
  • Religion
  • Art History
  • Science (I think you get the point)

On an interesting side note, publishing houses consider trilogies to be a genre of their own. I, however, disagree. It’s sort of like a journal or diary where an author’s fictional or non-fictional work is told with a certain style or platform. Styles would be first person, second or third person narrative style. Platform is the mode in which the story is packaged (ie. journal entries, a single novel, a series or a trilogy).

So anyway, let’s get back to defining your story’s target market.   Among the authors I have researched, are are the Top 2 Mistakes being made with their Target Market:

#1 Mistake is NOT defining a target market.

#2 Mistake is not defining a CLEAR target market

Believe, this occurs quite often with new authors. They have an interesting concept for a story and they may have even completed storyboards or an outline of each chapter and the may have created all their characters and even given them al names. But if you don’t know specifically who you are targeting this story, these chapters and these characters to you will run into a multiple difficulties when it comes to fine-tuning the details of the story and even more difficulties when it comes to marketing your finished product.

So we are going to solve the #1 problem now by accepting that you MUST define your target market. Now that we’ve gotten that out o the way, let’s move onto #2.

Defining a clear target market can quite frankly be a real pain. I, personally, really struggled with this because, like most new authors, I was in love with my book and truly believed that EVERYONE would love it too. However, that is simply not the case. Sorry fellow authors! But your ideal reader (meaning the customers that help you the most to get the word spread with positive feedback) is a specific niche of individuals that you need to identify. Focusing on them will not only save you time but also save you money instead of marketing to groups of people with other interests. I also want to point out that when you are trying to define this target market, disregard “friends and family” as a target group. Your friends and family will (most likely) support you.

When deciding your target market there are two general families of consumer groups you want to research.

  1.  Demographics
  2.  Psychographics

In order to answer what group your readers fall into, you must identify 3 or 4 books similar to yours and identify the specific groups that are interested in that genre.

DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP: Age, Gender, Education, Social Class, Geographic Location and Occupation

PSYCHOGRAPHIC GROUPS: Special Interests, Activities/Hobbies, Occupation (I believe falls in both categories as some people are stuck working a job they have no interest in), Social Factors, Cultural Associations and Philosophical Beliefs.

For example, your research may show that your Target Market is Young Adults (which are people between the ages of 16 and 28), primarily females, who are in high school or at least high school educated in the United States. Primary interests include staying active, family-oriented, social disorganization in communities, social prejudice and environmental racism in America with a particular focus on the US Deep South.

Secondary Target Market could include family-oriented adults who grew up in the United States during the Cold War period with at least a high school education.

Identifying the demographic and psychographic groups in which a typical fan of your book’s genre will gain you faster and more productive results when you go to market your book.

Once you have mastered this, I also advise tracking all feedback you receive on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as your own website. Reach out to your first batch of responding, liking and sharing with your followers via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or email and conduct some deeper research.

Collect this data and then get out your microscope. This is where you are truly going to be able to define your customer. This is called consumer segmentation. We can get more into this in future blogs, but I will say that understanding your consumer segments will help you to fine-tune your next book. It’s that fine-tuning that produce a story that appeals directly to your existing fans and that’s when they will really start to spread the word and your legacy will begin.

Best of Luck to you all!

B.W. Gibson

Author of Extra Innings: The Diamond Thieves (Book 1 of the Extra Innings trilogy)


Extra Innings Press Release

I thought for this blog I would share my press release.  This will be sent to three different northeast Ohio newspapers:  The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, The Akron Beacon Journal and the Canton Repository.  The goal is for them to print an article in a Sunday edition to help advertise the release of my first novel Extra Innings: The Diamond Thieves.  Shown below is what I wrote for the press release.  Anyone who has field experience in writing these I would love to hear some feedback.

Local Author Releases His Debut Novel

Every teenager will face a life-altering crossroads when they struggle to do what’s right in the face of steep pressure to do wrong.  For Author Brian Gibson of Akron, Ohio, this becomes a personal message in his debut novel Extra Innings, The Diamond Thieves.

Diamond Thieves is the first of three fictional books in his Extra Innings trilogy that chronicles the teenage lives of identical twin brothers Jimmy and Billy McGee. The twins who, along with an entertaining cast of friends, are being challenged by their arch enemies for exclusive domain over their neighborhood baseball diamond.

Set in the late 1940’s Deep South, the boys must deal with a very adult ethical dilemma that intensifies the conflict: in the face of opposition from the town and their rivals, should they allow their best friend and team spark plug, who is black, to play in the deciding game?

‘My goal with this story was to connect with all individuals and inspire them in a way that improves their life and way of thinking’, said Gibson who goes by the pen name B.W. Gibson. ‘I feel like I have accomplished that.’

The Diamond Thieves conveys a strong unfiltered message about life during a period in history when racism was still a way of life in small-town southern communities.

Gibson displays a writing style that will transport you back to the sights, sounds and even smells of this Cold War period in U.S. history.

Please find enclosed a review copy for your consideration. For more information visit Brian Gibson’s website