Not Grandmother Approved

I’ve come up with a new marketing slogan for my novel, No Time For Kings.


Both my grandmother and Tara’s read the book, and while it’s received very positive reviews from the majority of readers – including glowing recommendations in San Francisco Book Review and Portland Book Review – neither of our grandmothers were especially enthralled with the novel. I know mine was put off by the violence, profanity, and sex and I suspect those same elements contributed to Tara’s grandma’s lack of enthusiasm. Rather than stew over this, however, I’ve decided to embrace it. Doesn’t the lack of such an endorsement lend to its appeal? Doesn’t it make you want to read it even more, knowing that its edginess was simply too much for an older crowd to stomach? I want to have “Not Grandmother Approved” stickers printed up and slapped on the cover! I’m dead serious.

The new and improved cover of my book!

My friend Mike said, “Now you just need to have your book banned.”

Michael, I am officially hiring you as my Public Relations Correspondent, because that is freakin’ (sorry, grandma!) brilliant. Can you go to work, getting school teachers to loathe it? (It shouldn’t be that difficult, considering my protagonist starts dating her daughter’s middle school teacher who happens to be a recovering alcoholic. Surely this sends a negative message that just might inspire a few teachers to want to ban – or better yet, burn – the book).

Maybe I can insult the Taliban while I’m at it and have a Fatwa issued against me, Salman Rushdie-style. The book is about terrorists, after all! Granted, they’re home-grown eco-terrorists, but that’s just a minor detail. Surely those damn pea-brained knuckle-dragging idiots in the Taliban won’t be smart enough to figure out the difference.

There. I’ve laid the groundwork. Top of the Bestseller charts, here I come! (And no, I’m not worried about having to hole up in a safe house. I’ll bet I could have a pretty luxurious safe house with all the money that’ll be rolling in soon).

This is great. More than a year after publication, I’m still coming up with marketing schemes.

One thing I did recently was drop the price on the Kindle version of No Time For Kings. By 67%, no less. After researching pricing strategies for e-books, I decided to set the cost at $2.99 (it was going for $8.95 before). I think it’s important to be competitive in today’s marketplace, and $2.99 is a low enough price to entice people who might otherwise be on the fence. I’m only pricing the e-book that low on Amazon, but then again, that’s where the majority of my sales have come from. If you already bought the novel at the original price, I apologize, but hope you still found it a worthwhile investment.

Unless you’re a member of the Taliban and bought the book at the higher price. If so…HA HA! Suckers!!!

(Marketing is a 24/7 job).

Click here for a link to the Kindle version of No Time For Kings.

I also decided that I’ve rested on my laurels long enough, and have begun a new novel. I tossed around several ideas – a character-driven portrayal of the grunge movement circa 1992, a drama about the search for the supposed Woodstock baby, a high-concept time travel fairy tale – before settling on a project closer to my heart: it’ll be a sequel to No Time For Kings. Or rather, a continuation of the series. I like my characters, having spent years developing them and getting to know them, and figured there are lots of dramatic situations a strong-willed female investigative journalist in Portland could get herself into. The book will be called Crimps and deals with illicit drugs, political corruption, and a secret network involving the infamous Shanghai Tunnels that lie beneath Portland’s downtown streets.

Sounds like another one that won’t go over well with the grandmothers. Yay!

I’m still working out the plot details so progress will be slow for a while, but if I can have it finished by next August – in time for the second anniversary of No Time For Kings – I’ll be happy.

Since I’d like to continue writing books, I broadened the scope of my Facebook page, transforming it from a No Time For Kings page to an author page. Feel free to “like” it here.

If you’re a self-published author, I’d be interested in hearing how you decided to price your book. Do you feel that a low price gives the impression of inferior work? How low will you go? Would you ever give it away for free? What marketing strategies do you use?

If you’re a potential reader, would you be more likely to buy a book that is Not Grandmother Approved?

And if you’re the Taliban, will you kindly go pound sand?

17 thoughts on “Not Grandmother Approved

  1. No, Mark. The teachers love banned books. They don’t ban them. I know a couple of people around here who can help. They won’t even need to read it. They don’t actually read. They react to the hype. Not unlike those guys rioting over the latest offensive Mohammed video. You think they’ve actually seen it? Of course not. Same deal here. We just need some buzz and the next thing you know they’ll be down at the Library Board meeting demanding a ban. Too easy.


  2. “If you’re a potential reader, would you be more likely to buy a book that is Not Grandmother Approved?”

    Yes, I would! And I love Mike’s idea about having it banned because it would make your book even MORE enticing!

    The one thing I learned through my time spent as a stage actor is this….

    Four newspaper play critics could see my same performance on the same night. Two of them could give me faaaaaabulous reviews, yet the other two could say I sucked (and I’ve actually HAD that happen).

    It’s all according to their perception and tastes.

    As long as I feel like I did my best, that’s all that matters. It was MY creative interpretation.

    I can’t help how others perceive my performance, nor can I please everyone.

    ” Rather than stew over this, however, I’ve decided to embrace it”

    You GO, boy! And keep on writing what you feel in your heart. Be true to YOU!


    1. That’s right, Ron! Opinions are like…


      Well, they’re like something everybody has. Can’t think of a good example off the top of my head, but I’m sure you get it anyway.


  3. Does it matter to me about the cost of a book – yes! I am glad you gave me the head’s up about reducing the price of your book, it’ll be easier for me to buy it from Amazon since I already have an account with them for my reader.
    I have bought some low price books from them before & never been satisfied with the quality of the books. Mind you, these were books published through Smash Words & they felt like they were never edited in any way. They were so difficult to read with spelling errors & grammar errors, I was totally turned off by the books. So I had sworn off buying cheaper books & especially anything published by Smash Words.
    Sorry I didn’t get your book before you lowered the price, so much going on with me losing my job & I didn’t want to bug hubby to show me how to use our Paypal.


    1. I don’t mind *when* you get my book or what price you pay…I’m just happy if you read it! Thanks for your support. And I agree that a vast majority of low priced books just aren’t very good.


  4. It’s a good campaign, I think. After all, my mom (an experienced grandma) doesn’t approve of the Harry Potter series, and look how well that’s done!


  5. If’n you want….I can jump on the Grandmother bandwagon but then I would be lying because I really, really enjoyed it! I just wouldn’t feel right so forget about it already!

    I’m so excited about “Crimps”. I’m gonna try and beat Tara and be the 1st one to buy it this time…!!


    1. Lol. Thanks, Tracy! There are definitely exceptions to the rule. I guess you’re just one of those young, hip grandmas. Plus, you’re barely a grandmother anyway…six months ago you were still just a mom!


  6. I am THRILLED you will write a sequel, cause I loved No Time for Kings. At that price you should be able to get tons of Kindle sales. Seriously, I can’t wait–and “Not Grandmother Approved” would actually make a GREAT name for a book, if you could make it work. I’m excited, Mark. Get to work!


    1. Thanks, Kathy! You’ve been very supportive of my book. Glad to hear you’re looking forward to a sequel…that just makes me feel even more sure of my decision to continue the series.


  7. Hey I think that’s a phenomenal rating system you got going on there! I already own your book, but I hope your strategy works! People should definitely go buy No Time For Kings! Hope your sales sky rocket!


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