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Why did you write this book?

The short answer is that we wrote the book we wished we could have read when we got started and the book we wished lived on our shelf so we could open it and find everything we needed to know about marketing fiction whenever we required it.

Over the years we've received more and more questions from new and would-be authors about marketing and at the same time promo expectations kept mutating. As we gained experience from real-time trial and error and as we studied marketing itself, we realized there was no collated clearinghouse for the kinds of information we and others needed. When there was a guide, it was either so generic as to be meaningless or so granular it only addressed one kind of author with one kind of career.

Through conversations, arguments, and experience, we began classes and blog posts which became seminars which became Your A Game.

Why did you write the book as a chooseable adventure?

Originally we intended this to be a breezy, 150 page bit of cheerleading and helpful direction. (Somewhere in California, our editor is laughing.) Our material quickly made it clear we'd be lucky to escape under 500 pages. We learned the reason so many books about fiction marketing were either too general to be helpful or too specific to be broadly useful: it's impossible to answer the open-ended question, "How do I market my fiction?" in a manner non-specific enough to cover even half the authors in a genre without the reply coming in a volume that could double as a doorstop.

We considered breaking it into four books from the four sections and selling them individually. The problem was we knew the topic couldn't be addressed properly without all the information included. We also knew we had a meaty beast on our hands and people would digest it differently depending on who and where they were in their career. Both of us are educators, and we know the importance of meeting people where they are in their knowledge base and allowing them to move in the way and at the speed which will best allow them to grasp the concept they're wrestling with.

To this end, we wrote the book as if it could be read straight through, but we also carved a variety of paths. This means an overwhelmed novice who probably shouldn't delve too deeply in the nitty gritty can get an overview without becoming overwhelmed, and in the same book a seasoned pro can skip things they learned a long time ago...or catch up on that concept they'd only ever pretended to understand. We also introduced play styles and archetypes to offer an array of solutions and strategies for genre promotion.

As we dug into the material, the idea of publishing as a gigantic multiplayer game with real rewards resonated on so many levels. Both games and genre publishing balance fear, fun, and frustration. Both are systems with rules and boundaries and a mix of players and strategies complicating matters. And both are activities in which we participate by choice. So our book became a genre promo playbook you can actually play.

When you say this book is a chooseable adventure, do you mean one of those playable children's stories with forking paths and different outcomes?

Yep. Except the story is yours and the outcome is real. Most books on promoting genre fiction treat authors, careers, and even books as interchangeable widgets. That's simplistic, reductive, and inaccurate. At the same time, we knew that trying to cover every possible question and topic would generate an overwhelming pile of advice and anecdotes. Instead we created a nonfiction promo adventure that lets you choose your own way.

Your A Game features over 1400 separate hyperlinks through the book. intended to steer each reader where they'll get the most benefit for their current concerns. We've included:

  • Play Style paths: for the four ways people approach challenges (Performer, Achiever, Socializer, Explorer)
  • Experience paths: based on the range of professional experience (Novice, Intermediate, Expert, Cynic)
  • Adventure paths: routes intended to elicit curiosity and prompt professional experimentation.
  • Topical paths: narrow focus on topics of immediate interest to speciifc destinations.

We know it's impossible to answer every question, but we hope that this book at least points most genre authors in productive, entertaining directions. Structuring this material as chooseable adventure was us walking the walk: promo is a game where strategy and skill pays off with real prizes. We believe careers should be fun, and in treating promo like a game, we felt the book should be appropriately interactive and gamified in kind.

How can I receive a review copy of this book?
Please send us a request through our contact page and we'll be happy to get back to you with a copy in the ebook format of your choice.
How did you two end up writing this book?

We found ourselves always answering the same questions from writers at all stages of their career. They came to us because they knew we were research wonks who tackled problems by investigating and indexing solutions. We loved helping because we've both experienced the generosity of experienced authors willing to give us a hand, and we wanted to offer that feeling to any author seeking direction, no matter where they are in their career.

Why didn't you break this giant book up into smaller topical titles?

We considered it seriously but realized it would never work because of the complex interplay between all the components of an author's promotional strategy.

Promo involves several interconnected disciplines and skills which influence each other constantly. You cannot market effectively without a strong brand. You cannot launch a breakout project without a sense of your presence and the market you serve. Author brands are built on projects.Your A Game needed to cover all those topics as a professional ecosystem, because they ARE a professional ecosystem.

What formats are available?

For maximum ease in playability, we're offering Your A Game in ebook only for its initial release. It will be available in all common ebook formats: mobi, epub, PDF.

Can you explain more about these play styles and archetypes?

These player descriptions derive from the work of game theorist Richard Bartle and partly from our combined knowledge of myriad archetypal structures. The core idea of the book was that no two authors, books, or careers were the same. How could a book give the same advice without some kind of meaningful context?

In practice, the A-game play styles and archetypes are our best effort to illustrate how fiction authors approach learning about marketing and how they practice promotion in real time. The four play styles (performer, achiever, socializer, explorer) are used to navigate the text and get readers thinking about promo through their experience, not some marketing maven on a mountaintop.

The eight archetypes also drew from Bartle's study of what people enjoy and pursue in multiplayer games. Several years after his original play style paper, he expanded on his original four player types by considering the way that players approach challenges and opportunities: impulsively or intentionally. We've used his expanded pantheon as a culturally neutral model that speaks directly to the ways people interact and have fun.

Our archetypes simply offer suggestions for ways authors might present themselves to the public as they sell their work and point out possible pitfalls tailored to those eight specific ways of thinking. Not everyone will find the play styles and the archetypes fit them exactly, but we hope asking people to think about promotion from their particular viewpoint shakes up the pervading notion of finding and following "the way" and instead seeking each of our own paths.

How did you come up with this archetype and play style stuff?

We both have a lifelong love of studying archetypal systems, but we owe the greatest influence on our A game play styles and archetypes to Richard Bartle. You can learn more about his game theory player types on the web and in:

What’s the difference between an archetype and a play style?

Both are abstract ways of categorizing patterns of behavior for the purposes of analysis and strategy.

For our purposes, play style is determined by your personal goal as a genre professional, and archetype is determined by what you enjoy about being an author in a public setting.

  • A play style is your game piece on the board, your lens through which you view and comprehend marketing and promotion.
  • An archetype is your game face, the public role you take on while actively promoting your work and your brand, the persona you adopt. It might be an extension of your play style, but it might be something entirely different.
What type of authors would benefit most from this book?

Anyone who believes their career in genre fiction should be fun and rewarding. We specifically created paths through the material for different types of authors... we wanted the book to act as a resource that evolves alongside a career.

While any author at any stage can find wisdom and direction in Your A Game, what is required of all readers is a willingness to believe there is a unique promotional path for them and not one solitary gilded road to Oz.

Why do you feel you're qualified to write this book?

We believe wholeheartedly anyone who has ever worked in fiction could have written this book and probably eventually someone else would have. There isn't any information in here a million other people don't have, but there isn't anywhere else that has so much information collated in one place in a manner inviting people to make their unique way through the material. (Trust us. We've checked.)

Writing this book came a little easier to us because we both have backgrounds in education, in and out of the classroom and from levels of preschool to post-graduate. We each have a variety of academic letters after our names and have been serial consumers of the written word since we were old enough to turn pages. What may have helped us more than anything, however, was beginning our fiction careers at the time we did and with the types of books we wrote. Our journeys through the world of publishing have been strange by every definition imaginable, and more challenging than we could have ever comprehended. We experienced the tricks and traps firsthand, sometimes escaping catastrophe by the skin of our teeth, sometimes landing in the center of a mess and having to navigate a path back to sanity.

In short, we're qualified to write this book because even in a relatively short time, we've lived it, done it, smelt it, dealt it. And at the end of the day, we were the only fools crazy enough to try to write it all down.

How long did it take you to write Your A Game ?

Two years and two lifetimes.

We began actively composing Your A Game in 2014, but we've argued theory and philosophy and practical tactics for navigating the industry since the day we met five years ago. We also put in plenty of time individually, Heidi burrowing into the underbelly of the publishing beast since 1997 and Damon navigating the worlds of theater, television, comics, and film before embracing a career in fiction in 2010.

Do you offer any workshops?

We are available for a limited number of workshops, sometimes together, sometimes individually. Because we both primarily write fiction, not teach others how to market their own, our speaking availability depends on location, time of year, and whether or not you'd like us as a set or as separates. We teach the global concept of finding your A game, how to discover your play style, and individual topics on marketing from the book.

Our classes are applicable for a variety of genres and have even been utilized by some corporate clients. You can find more information on the LEARN page, where we have information about our offerings and a schedule of upcoming appearances.

What kind of setup do your classes require?

The setup and logistics really depends on the context. We've taught workshops in conference centers for hundreds and private promo coaching for publishers looking to boost their authors. The only essential element is time and attention. Generally we do use Powerpoint, because visuals can be so helpful with abstractions, but we can also throw down low-tech without trouble.

99% of the time we offer a meaty handout to spare note-taking and so that students can mull the content and kick ideas around afterward.

Our main goal for any class is that attendees leave with concrete options and a better sense of the tasks ahead.

How can my group book a workshop with y'all?

That depends on our schedule and availability. First, contact us directly and let us know what you have in mind and when. If we can find a time that works, we'll work with you to come up with a program that meets the needs of your members. Depending on the travel distance and timing, transport and accomodations will factor as well.

Also, we live at no small distance from each other. Unless you're planning somehting around a con we'll be attending, you might also consider having one of us come and present.

What did you do before you wrote genre fiction?

Heidi taught writing in formal classrooms and in nontraditional settings for fifteen years and Damon wrote film, theatre, and comics for over twenty-five years. We both also have post-graduate degrees and the kind of crazy-quilt employment/experience résumés common in people who end up writing genre fiction.

Where are you both from?

Heidi grew up in Iowa, which she loves and never plans to leave. She now lives in Ames. Damon grew up in Texas which he does not love, moved to NYC when he was 16 and (aside from a few years in London) has lived there ever since.

How comfortable are you with media appearances?

Extremely. Both of us have significant media training and have appeared live and prerecorded on television, radio, and web formats.

Do you intend to write another promotional/writing guide?

Possibly, but not for a long while. We're going back to writing fiction for a while, which is where we'll get the best ideas and best solutions for any future genre promotion books we might write.

What genre fiction do you write?

Both of us write romance, primarily contemporary but we cover the subgenres of historical, paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, erotic, and romantic suspense.

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