How to Waste Money on Marketing

Two years ago my first book came out. It was not the first book I had planned, but a story I wrote for my daughter. I met a small publisher at a conference who was looking for YA books so I thought, why not?

The book came out in July 2010 and by March 2011 I had my rights back and was on the lookout for a new publisher. That’s another whole story I won’t get into. Suffice to say that the book is republished now and in better form, new title, new cover, new content. But while I was pushing The Man Of Mystery Hill I spent a crazy amount of money on marketing. And really, none of it made me a cent.

I’d like to share some of my “great marketing ideas” with you, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

First, there was the url. I already had a bunch of domain names but decided I needed This would point to a new page in my already cumbersome website. I have since shut off the auto renew on the domain but I’m stuck with it for a while. Not a lot of money but it started the tally.

Next came the new business cards. I put the new web address on there, a picture of me and a cover of the book. Now that I’ve changed everything, the cards are useless. Vista print doesn’t charge a lot luckily. I  bought some postcards of the book cover. Also useless. Then there were the large posters bonded to white boards that cost way more than they should have, but I was excited. This was my first book after all.

I paid for ad space in print magazines, split with the publisher. I don’t think there was much benefit to that. Next came the tattoos. That’s right, tattoos containing the book cover. And honestly, what’s more fun than 5000 tattoos? I’ll tell you what, the $175 I paid for them to now sit in a drawer. Up goes the tally.

This book originally starred a 4th grade girl. In the new version she’s in 6th grade. I thought on it and decided that Mood pencils would be super fun. Especially if I had 500 of them. Honestly, what’s more enthralling than 500 mood pencils that change color in your hands and sport the abbymcnabb url? The money I blew on them, that’s what. And up goes the tally again.

But I was still so eager to sell this book. I was booking signings for at least once  a week, sometimes two. I was going to make a ton of money and all the cash I was putting out for giveaways would come back to me (foolish girl).

I think the bears were the last straw. I got it in my head that if I bought little bears wearing t-shirts with my book cover on them, that would be about the best thing ever. And honestly, they are adorable. When I opened the box of 100 of them (after shelling out about $375) I was thrilled. I gave away about half  to get people to buy my books at events. Of course my royalty was way less than what I spent on bears. What was I thinking? Now they are in a bag. Buying new t-shirts with the new cover will cost as much as new bears and I’m kind of all set with mini plushies.

The new version came out in November 2011 and I’m very pleased with it. This time, I’m going free and low-cost marketing. The jury is out on how successful that is but at least I learned from my mistakes. I hope you can learn from my mistakes too.

Happy selling!


Don’t forget to check out my AMAZON PAGE  and my new NOOK PAGE to see all my fiction currently for sale.

Book Expo 2012

I’m just on the way home from my first Book Expo at the Javitz Center in Manhattan. It was a long day but surprisingly fun. I’ve spent a good deal of time whining the last few weeks about the time and expense of going to BEA. It was a free slot but I had to buy all the copies of The Soul Collector I’d be giving away, hopefully to librarians, distributors and bookstore owners. I also had to buy a train ticket. Because I was determined to do this in a day trip, I took a very early train (6:21am) to arrive in plenty of time for my 11am signing slot. The train station is 55 miles from my house so I was up at 4am, and shaking which is was happens when I get that tired.

But the day got better. I took a Business Class Acela on the way in which is so nice. Roomy seats, quiet people, most of whom were sleeping, like me. When I awoke, I was happy to see I had a Wi-Fi connection. I edited some stories and listened to The Martian Chronicles on my audio books on iTunes (courtesy of my boyfriend who is always providing me with cool stuff).

I arrived in NYC at 9:45 and smiled when I saw the sun. It was in the 60s but sunny. I took short brisk walk (15 minutes) and arrived at the mammoth Javitz Center. I walked in and was instantly overwhelmed, and that’s even before I got to the signing floor. I got my registration badge and found the Horror Writers association booth.

My 75 copies of The Soul Collector had arrived from the printer and were waiting for me. It was 10:40 by the time I sat down and got settled, and already people were crowding around asking for books. It was dizzying and fun. I unloaded all the copies to happy takers within my one hour alloted time. If you’re a writer, you know how much a kick you get out of signing just one book and seeing someone get all excited. So a dose of that times 75 was amazing. Sure, I gave them away and didn’t sell the them, but the people wanted to book and smiled. And that’s really what it’s all about. It really motivated me to start setting up book signings again and put the finishing touches on my next two books: my short story collection and my Women’s thriller.

I got to see some old friends, Gary Frank and Charles Day, Trish Wooldridge, and got to meet Vince Liaguno in person. Plus I met a new person Joshua (don’t remember his last name despite spending time with him in the booth). The place was absolutely packed which says something to all those naysayers who keep blabbing “No one reads anymore.” I beg to differ.

When my books were gone, I wandered the floor and got a few free books. I could have gotten more but didn’t want my bag to get too heavy. I ended up with Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki, which they weren’t giving out but I asked nice and they said okay. I got an ARC of The Stress Pandemic by Paul Huljich because I know stress like nobody’s business and can always use tips. I also got a fun little romance called, Does This Church Make me Look Fat? by Rhoda Janzen.

There were so many rows of publishers and booksellers and authors it was intimidating. How could I possibly make it to the level they’re were at, with a booth at this expo, selling books and schmoozing? Then I laughed because I WAS at the expo sharing a booth and signing books just like everyone else. Note, at this point I was hungry, having had only an Atkins Bar and an Atkins shake since 4am.

I walked the “quick sunny brisk walk” back to Penn Station (saw this funny sign) and this time it was a long painful walk. I’m not used to heels and certainly not used to dragging myself along all day in them. It’s a reminder that my frequent Con days are far behind me. I’d forgotten all about Con Foot (squishing shoes that are used to loafers and sneakers into pretty heels to look nice and wincing with every step).

I finally saw Penn Station in the distance. Yes! Right outside I ordered a Chicken Shish-kabob. No sauce or rice. Just meat on a stick and a Diet Coke. $6. I brought it in and looked around the station. Not a single bench. I was just making myself a spot on the floor when I saw and then remembered that if you have an Amtrak ticket you can sit in the comfy section with seats and Wi-Fi and power outlets.

So here I am, finishing this blog, with only 45 minutes until my train takes off. All in all, a nice day. Looking forward to a relaxing ride home. I’ll be on the regular old Amtrak local this time, with a million stops and seats that probably aren’t as comfy or new as the sleek ride this morning, but at least I’m not driving. I’ve got lots to read and listen to.

There is piano music playing the background, half a kabob in my lunch bag and some cheesesticks for later.

For all my whining, it was a really fun and productive day.

Visit again for new recipes and don’t forget to check out my AMAZON PAGE to see all my fiction currently for sale.

Winner of the 7th Grade Writing Contest

Last month I visited a middle school in New Hampshire and taught five classes of seventh graders all about Brainstorming. As I posted about in an earlier blog, for each classroom I started with a central idea, then branched off to show characters  and their actions to create a story. Each group got a different story idea. Afterwards, their teacher photographed the brainstorming charts on the white board and each class was charged with writing a full story based on our extensive brainstorming and outlining.

The winning story from all those entries goes to Kaity Moore. For a seventh grader she’s a heck of a writer. I was pleasantly surprised when I read her story. Great job Kaity! I hope she pursues writing as she’ll be a great addition to the craft.

Dylan’s Dream

By Kaity Moore

Entry one: So I have a journal. I don’t care. My therapist advised me to use it.

Yeah, I’m Dylan and I have emotional probs. So, I’m really shy. I spit a lot and I have long black hair with razor sharp bangs that slide just over my left eye. I’m a pyromaniac, and now that we’re talking ‘bout fires, I’m burned on my face. Just, don’t ask. Okay, I’m done writing in this journal o’ mine. I wanna tell you the story of THE DAY I WON THE LOTTERY.

It was a sunny day, that April 27th and my dad and I were at the gas station. Standing outside the station was a man dressed well, in a charcoal gray suit, with a black tie and loafers. He was holding a huge cardboard sign with the words, “1, 5, and 10 bucks each! No better deal!” I asked him what his sign was about, and he asked if I wanted to buy a lottery ticket.

“Purchases over five dollars are going to go towards a foundation of your choice,” he said to us. I looked at my dad and he nodded to the man.

“We want the dollar one, sorry.” My dad pointed at the ticket with aliens on it. “Here’s a coin, Dylan. You can scratch the numbers off.”

The man gave me the ticket and smiled. I scratched off the numbers and handed it to my dad. “Dylan, you just scratched off the winning numbers!” My dad yelled happily.

“How much did we win?” I asked the man, as my dad gave him back the lottery ticket.

“How about, you just won the lottery!” The man smiled. “The winning prize is 89.2 billion. It’s been all over the news. Haven’t you watched it?”

“No, not lately but more importantly, we just won how much?” My dad asked gaily. The man handed over a white envelope, and my dad checked to make sure its contents were valid and then he shook the man’s hand. “89.2 billion dollars! Here’s your check.”

“Thank you.” My dad said. The businessman nodded and my dad and I walked back to our car.

When we pulled into the driveway, my mother ran out of the house, her ankle-length skirt flowing in the wind when she yelled to my dad, “Oh my gosh, Mark is it true? You won us the lottery?”

“Nope, I didn’t honey. Dylan did.”

My dad rustled my shiny black hair. “Now we can afford surgery to make your face smooth again.”

“Dylan, that’s so great of you! Now we can travel more.” My mom and dad winked at each other. “But Dylan, since you hate flying, I guess we’ll leave you at Cameron’s house.”

I squinted. Cameron was my best friend and all, but my parents were going to go away on a trip and just leave me here? That’s cool, not.

“I have a great way to celebrate, let’s go to the hospital right now and get your surgery done!” My mom smiled. “C’mon, hop in the car!”

While sitting in the back seat of the car, I think of all the cool things I’ll be able to do when my parents leave on their trip. I take out my journal and start writing.

Entry two: Skydiving, scuba diving, cliff diving, so much diving! I can do it all when they’re gone. Ha-ha, yes!

When we finally get to the hospital, I’m sent to the ER and the doctors start right away, demanding me to quickly drink the elixir, so I fall asleep faster.

Two hours later, I’m brought out to my parents who are waiting in the hallway. They guide me to a wall mirror, my dad blindfolding me with his hands. “1, 2, 3, open!” my dad says, as my eyes blur from being shut. Then, when they’re finally clear, I glance at the mirror and gawk in surprise, rubbing my hand down my now visible cheek bones, making sure what I see is the real thing. “Oh man dude, I’m so beautiful now. Like, whoa!” I laugh, still feeling around my face.

A couple days later, my mom and dad kiss me goodbye as they bring in my last of three bags I’ve brought to Cam’s house. “Bye sweetie, we’ll pick you up sometime next week. Call us every night.” My mom kissed my head and backed from the door.

“Mom, I’m thirteen, and you’re treating me like I’m five.” I say as Cam stands next to me, snickering.

“Just making sure you’re safe, we don’t want to leave you here, but-”

“Dad, I’m thiiirrrrr-teeeeeennn. I’m fine.”

“Do you have your pills?” He tilts his head, gaze fixed on mine.

“Yeah dad, now bye, love you too and all that mushy gushy lovey-dovey stuff that you old people want to hear now-a-days.” Cameron and I laughed.

A week after my parents have been gone, Cam and I call our best friend Ayla, sometimes called A, asking her to come over, that we had a surprise for her, not knowing that her surprise is my face. She knocks on the door and yells, “Hello, Cameron, do you have my present?”

“It’s not a present, Ayla, it’s a surprise.” I say back to her, unsure of why we’re talking behind doors.

“Whatever, open the door and hand it over.” She says as I open it slowly, then jumping out from the side and scaring her.

“Omigod.” She gasps bringing her hands to her mouth. “Your – your face, it’s,” she pauses. “Smooth!”

I laugh and gaze at her wonder-filled, envy green eyes. “Yeah,” I say with just a hint of sarcasm. “My parents won the lottery, they got me surgery as soon as possible and I’m staying here for a couple days ’cause they went on a trip. They’ll be back to get me tomorrow, all ready for school on Monday.”

Ayla looks at Cameron. “Dude, you seriously have got to get in the sun once in a while, you’re whiter than a ghost.” She laughs, making a joke at his Albinism. Cameron never really cared when people made jokes anymore; he’d gotten used to it. He laughed with her as they made more and more comments about the disease.

The next day, my parents brought me home, and the day after that, I got up, showered, smoothed my face, and headed off to school for the first time since surgery. I walked through the halls confident with Cam and Ayla by my side as everyone gaped and gossiped about the change in my looks. I overheard a lot of girls say I’m gorgeous and that they never could’ve expected a dork like me to be this hot.

Then I got tapped on the back. I turned around and a bunch of popular kids were standing behind me. “Dylan, right?” The girl said, pushing her curly blonde hair behind her shoulders.

“Uh, yeah?” I squinted at her and the group of boys surrounding her.

“Listen,” one of them said, “you’re like, totally cool now. Come with us.”

“But, I’m with my friends.” I looked around nervously, pointing backwards at Ayla and Cameron.

“No, uh, do what you want, Dylan. It’s fine, really.” Ayla stuttered, obviously intimidated by the popular crowd standing near her. I never really understood why she wasn’t one of them. She’s a total mean girl, she has the most luscious, wavy blonde hair I’ve ever seen, envy green eyes, and a perfect structure. Plus, her family was extremely rich, so she had all designer clothing and her own alpaca. Her alpaca had anger issues though, so that was always weird when I went over.

“Excuse me, Ayla? You don’t get to make the decisions anymore. You dropped out of the popular crowd years ago, remember?”

Ayla rolled her big green eyes. “Whatever.”

“Well, I’m going to …” I paused, letting Cam and A finish the sentence as I pointed backwards and walked away with the popular kids, Randy, Ray Ray, Kurt, and Stevie. They were all so gorgeous with their silky hair and designer uniforms worn in a public school. I never really ever thought about hanging out with Stevie, the prettiest girl in school, besides Ayla, but here I was, walking down the halls side by side, laughing at Randy’s jokes with her. She even asked me to hang out after school, but I said no, considering all the homework I had to get done. I could tell she was upset, but she just smiled and said, “Okay, maybe another time,” and walked off without me.

Soon after becoming a popular kid, I was insisted on wearing designer uniforms and getting my left ear pierced. I talked to my dad about it and he said he’d take me to get a couple uniforms next weekend. My cousin Ryan pierced my ear for me. He did it professionally, but it hurt more than I’d expected.

After about a month of being a preppy, stuck-up kid of the popular crowd, I started forgetting about Ayla and Cameron, my two best friends. Ray Ray and I always lit fires together after school, and I’d sit on the ground with Stevie roasting marshmallows and making S’Mores. Kurt, Randy, and I didn’t have much in common, but we had a couple sleepovers at my house, which was now a full mansion, with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and my own man cave, thanks to my winning scratch ticket.

For five months, I was popular, until that day on September 4th when everything changed. The popular crowd had a campfire one night without me, while I was away in New Mexico for the weekend, and when I came back, the police and my school principal had asked me all kinds of questions about a small campfire which spread into a wildfire, killing three people and burning two kids’ faces.

Those two kids were Ayla and Cam. I was watching the news one night when Cam and A came on, interviewed.

“I jumped into the fire, thinking my pyromaniac “friend” was the one who started all this. I started to think about why I cared, ’cause he abandoned me and my friend Cam for the,” Ayla gulped, “popular crowd.”

Next, they zoomed in on Cameron, who spoke words I never thought I’d hear from his mouth.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the cause of this fire was Dylan Drescher. He’s a maniac. Pyromaniac, that is. We were friends, but he came to be a snob and joined some other kids, but he doesn’t care about me and A now. I really hope you’re watching this Dylan, even if you didn’t start the fire. What was once your face is now mine and Ayla’s because we’re good enough people to forgive your mistake and even jump into a fire, willing to save you, but I guess you just don’t care, dude.”

I yelled at the T.V. “I wasn’t even there! I was in New Mexico, not Pennsylvania!”

I called up Stevie and started totally going off on her, yelling, saying that she was the cause of all this, asking her why she framed me, why she did any of this, but she didn’t answer. “I’m done with you people.” I screamed into the phone.

I ran to Cameron’s house, knowing Ayla would be there right about now and apologizing for everything, explaining that I wasn’t even here in Pennsylvania, I was on vacation in New Mexico. Even promising I would pay for their facial reconstruction surgery, everything.

We became friends again, but I couldn’t live like this. I pulled a lighter out of my pocket, lit up the grass in Cameron’s back yard as Ayla and Cam screamed, “No! No, Dylan don’t do this!” but I couldn’t live like this, knowing I hurt my best friends. So I lied down in grass and burned. I was just about two feet away from walking into the light when I woke up in bed and gasped. “It was all a dream?”

-The End

Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.

Goodreads, Giveaways and Ads

A writer friend of mine mentioned last week that he put some of his books up on Goodreads. I told him I had put my YA mystery The Soul Collector up there. So far so good. He asked, “Did you do a giveaway?” I didn’t know what that meant. He explained that there’s a “Giveaway” link. He said he had great luck with it. You offer a few up, and many people who wouldn’t otherwise notice your book are suddenly signing up for the giveaway.

People like to win stuff.

I signed up to give away 5 print copies of The Soul Collector. It was a five day trial ending 3-12. So far 492 people signed up to try and win. 64 have added it to their To-Be Read pile. Not bad for the price of five books plus postage. And of course the hope is that each of the winners will write an Amazon or Goodreads review. 

So that led me to see how else I could drum up the interest and get some reviews by offering FREE stuff. Today I set up a series of Tweets (via Hootsuite) offering free pdfs of The Soul Collector to anyone who wanted to review one, and offering a signed copy to the top retweeter. Not sure how that is going yet as this campaign is only about an hour old.

My Facebook ad ended the other day. In total I spent $50 in a month. The average click ended up costing me about $.30. The total clicks were 164. Total impressions, meaning how many times it appeared on someone’s wall, was 496,000

Now this book isn’t self published, like my Kindle stories, so I can’t keep checking Amazon to see if all this interest is resulting in sales. But I’m hopeful.

Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.

The Glory of Facebooks Ads


A few months ago someone told me about Facebook ads. I am leery about anything that charges per click, since there’s no control over how much you can spend. She said however that you CAN decide a limit. The exposure is AMAZING and it’s so cheap it’s scary. I’m going to list a few stats below, as well as the content of my ad. I highly recommend doing this.

On Monday, I placed the ad using my book cover as an image and this as the content  Stand By Me meets X-Files: coming of age YA novel about a girl who …


I picked the tags “paranormal activity, Middle school and science fiction.” They suggested elementary school so I took that too. My target audience is 9,819.580 people. Yes, that’s a real number.

You only pay per click. All the times it shows up on someone’s page, is free. They asked for, I think, .51 per click but there was an advanced button to set your own price. The range was .34 to 1.01. So I picked .34. Silly not to right? I then set a maximum of $30. That’s about 90 clicks.

It’s been 72 hours now and I’ve had 8,609 individual pages my ad has been shown on. The ad has appeared on those pages 25,208 times. I’ve had only 12 clicks and have spent $3.65. They are charging me .30 per click, less than I bid, not sure why. This is set to run for a month or until I reach my limit.


They have a cool graph that updates constantly and it’s fun to click on throughout the day so you can see how your advertising dollars are being spent. I cannot say enough about this painfully cheap research. I don’t know if it’s affecting my sales, if those 12 clicks turned into 12 sales, but 25,208 is a lot of subliminal advertising.

I can’t imagine how high the numbers will be by the time I reach my $30.

Good luck! I hope you try it.


Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.


My First Teaching Experience

On Friday I visited a local middle school in New Hampshire, gearing up to teach Brainstorming to five 7th grade classes in five hours. Until a few days before I wasn’t sure what I’d cover, how I’d entertain the 12 and 13 year olds for that long.

Last summer I took my dog and puppy to a park to play, and ran into a woman who was there with her husband and new baby. We got to talking and she said “I teach 7th grade English.” I was all over that and told her I’d love to come talk to her students in the fall. It took us this long to coordinate the visit partially because my book wasn’t coming out until November and also because I was a little paralyzed by the idea of teaching anything to a whole bunch of kids.

I’m a mother, so I’ve done my share of one-on-one teaching. And I’ve spoken on several panels at writing conferences and at work events. I’m fine with public speaking. But knowing what to say in this situation? Highly intimidating.

A couple of days before, I had written up a Brainstorming handout, shown in the last blog, so I felt slightly more confident. But still…

I walked into the classroom a little past seven A.M. on Friday and instantly felt just fine. The kids were all excited to meet “the author.” They were all so polite and nice. We said the Pledge of Allegiance, which was a routine I’d forgotten was still practiced. It was kind of neat, saying it again with them.

The first class went off without a hitch, and even the students I expected to feign disinterest, had their hands up to volunteer ideas as we co-wrote the story up on the board on a brainstorming map. At the end of the class, the teacher took a photo of the white board. Next week, she’ll put the map up on an overhead and the students will each write their version of the story we started.

After each class was over the teacher photographed all of us together, which was SO FUN. I had no idea how enjoyable the day would be. In the midst of photographing the second class, there was a LOCKDOWN. I was confused at first, because we didn’t have that kind of drill when I was young. We all walked, in orderly fashion, back to the room. We sat on the floor in the corner, silently, for about fifteen minutes. It may have been longer or shorter, not sure. The shades were drawn and at one point someone in the hallway tried to turn the doorknob to confirm it was closed. The experience was a little unnerving but I was truly impressed by how quiet and well-behaved the students were. No one made a peep.

After that, we continued on with the next three classes. For each one, I chose a different main idea, supplied by the children. It was impressive seeing how quickly we could go from a blank white board to one housing a fully fleshed out story and characters. I was as thrilled as they were even if I acted all matter of fact about it. The pupils were amazingly creative. One of them said “This is really fun.” I said “Isn’t it? I do it all the time.”

I sold and signed some books, which was great, but honestly, the best part of the day was knowing I inspired these middle schoolers and showed them how much fun creativity can be.  I’m hoping in 5-6 years to see some of these young adults send in requests to join the New England Horror Writers.

After this experience, I am enthusiastic about visiting other schools in the area. If you are a teacher or parent in New England and would like me to come to your school, please contact me. I’m happy to come in to meet you and outline my lesson plan.

My middle grade mystery novel, The Soul Collector as well as several other short stories in print, and on Kindle, are available on Amazon.


January is a Good Month for Fiction

I awoke Sunday and was thrilled to find out the New England Horror Writers‘ first anthology, Epitaphs, made the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award.  In addition, because of the number of recommendations in that category, our anthology is moving straight to the final ballot. We cannot call ourselves “Stoker Nominated” just yet, but soon, the end of February.  Till then, I’m just happy to be on the Preliminary Ballot. We’re up against some stiff competition but I have hope. It’s a riveting collection of 26 short stories and poems. Winners in various categories will be announced at the World Horror Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 31st, where the Horror Writers Association will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

In the last week I have also worked to begin the huge task of editing all of my old unpublished stories and putting them up on Kindle. So far I have two up, The Folks and One Minute for $.99 each. The process is a lot easier than I expected, and in the next few months I hope to have a large collection of stories available, as well as a couple of novels. More to come on that.

So I was riding pretty high on that wave, and then tonight I got word that my story, “The Girl Who Drowned” will be featured in Evil Jester Digest #1, to premiere at the World Horror Conference.

And the icing on the cake? I will be visiting a middle school in NH on February 3rd to promote The Soul Collector to five classes of 7th Graders, and to teach them about brainstorming. Once I get the hang of it, I’m hoping to visit a lot more local schools in the coming months.

It’s been a very busy and productive month so far and I look forward to the rest of 2012.


All the above books and more are available on Amazon.