Spreading The Seed

I love spinning tales of romance in the Silicon Valley setting. I’m told I seriously over-glamorize the lifestyles of my heroes and heroines but whatever. I write FICTION so isn’t that kind of a requirement? I mean, I have to keep things interesting. right? WINK, WINK

As an entrepreneur, I am fascinated with goings-on in the Valley. There’s such an aura over Sand Hill Road; it’s just bubbling over with innovation, creativity and energy. Being part of that atmosphere, collaborating with fellow creatives and networking with famed venture capitalists must be so charging to a budding startup CEO. And coupled with the drive to build the next big thing? Well, the possibilities seem endless. Sounds like a dream (this is where my romanticizing comes into play)…but what companies really get to LIVE it?

funny silicon valley welcome sign

Enter Y-Combinator.

Y-Combinator provides seed money to a certain number of startups deemed worthy to relocate to Silicon Valley for a three-month period. Seed funding is the earliest stage of venture funding for a company and it helps pay expenses, allowing startups to focus on development with no added stresses.

If selected for the program, startups have access to proven innovators who will help shape and bring early ideas to fruition. They will learn how to deliver a polished pitch to investors and how to close a deal and acquire more funding, if needed. It all culminates in a Demo Day, where the elite group is granted an opportunity to present their work to carefully selected audiences.

All this in exchange for a small financial stake in each company. Sounds like small potatoes, considering most startups would never get this opportunity on their own. Networking is so key…sometimes you need to give a little to get a lot.

Just as an aside, Hubby has already advised me not to get any bright ideas about applying. LOL.

You Have Five Seconds To Impress Me…GO!

I’m long-winded by nature. If something can be stated in five words, it will take me thirty to get there. Luckily, I’ve tempered this in my writing.  But speaking…yeah, takes me a while to get to the point.

So it’s no surprise that I hate the words “elevator speech.”

This is the golden opportunity to pitch your idea/product or service.  Here’s the set up.  A prospective customer steps into an elevator. The doors close. You have about a five-second window to score a sale. What the heck do you say???

Back in my handbag designing days, when women would ask me what’s so special about Krina bags…well, let’s just say when my back was to the wall and I needed to impress, I fell short.  Exquisite Italian leathers…eh.  Vivid colors…boring.   Made in the U.S.A…makes them more expensive and potentially cost-prohibitive.  Um, Katherine Heigl has one?  Try again.

Same concept applies to writing. People find out I’m a writer and they’re curious about my novels.  Oh, you have a new book coming out? What’s it about? While it’s a simple question, one which I should be able to answer easily, how do I convince them they absolutely NEED to read it?

Well, there are a couple of parts to a successful elevator pitch. And as luck would have it, the setup really applies to any type of sale.

1. Set The Stage – Choose your first few words carefully. They need to hook your audience immediately and heighten interest in your overall message.

2. Reel Them In – Identify the conflict. Provide a scenario that identifies a challenge or obstacle.

3. Establish The Need – Provide differentiation. Show your audience why your product or service is something they need to buy. How is it going to make their life better? In other words, WHY SHOULD THEY CARE?

Check it out…it even works with books!!! This is my elevator pitch for “Unlikely Venture.”

After devastating news threatens her livelihood, Jessica Latham swears off men…until she meets Silicon Valley rising star James Callahan. But when a vindictive frenemy exposes Jessica’s scandalous secret, James is forced to choose – the future of his company or his heart?

It’s hard to stand out in only a few seconds. But when people ask, you need to hook them in otherwise they’ll shut down and anything you say will just be white noise.

You have one chance to make a first impression. So make it COUNT!!

The $25 Thumbnail…Pretty Cheap For Soft-Core

I’m OBSESSED with creating images for Unlikely Venture.  Gotta love the digital age!  One of my fabulous author friends (who is on the best-seller list for New Adult Contemporary on Amazon UK!!) sent me something she put together for one of her books and I decided I needed to create one for mine.  So the search began.  Here’s what I found out.  Images are ridiculously PRICEY!!!  I bought what is basically a THUMBNAIL for $25!  

So many sites have cheesy images that I wouldn’t doctor and post if someone paid ME.  Then there are others that are borderline porn…need to steer clear of THAT as it’s not exactly my genre.

I think I struck a happy balance with this one, although Hubby doesn’t understand why I’m so impressed with my efforts.  “You put some text on a PICTURE for crying out loud!”

Yeah, but I did it MYSELF…and it’s for MY BOOK.  =)

Image

It’s All About The Cover…And The Eye Candy On Display

Regardless of the publishing method I ultimately choose for Unlikely Venture, one thing is certain.  I need a cover.  But not just “a cover” – the right cover, the one that will stop potential readers and cause them to click into my virtual world so they can determine if my story is worth their time and money.

So many romance novels have covers graced with half-naked swarthy tanned males with pecs that seem to ripple as you stare at them.  Sometimes, they include the half-naked female counterpart as well, whose very perky boobs are usually popping out of her dress, ready to wave hello.  Just as an interesting aside, very rarely, if at all, do you see a heroine by herself on a romance cover…?

Every book and article I’ve read on the subject stresses the fact that the cover is equally as important as “the blurb,” especially if a potential reader is purchasing an e-book.  Of course, you can always sneak in some free sample content to gently nudge them toward a purchase.  But really, readers need to be sold on the eye candy.

I don’t want to go against the grain here, but I’ve always preferred a different type of cover, one full of innuendo.  I want to create the images of the characters as I read; I don’t want to be told what they look like.  I prefer the use of inanimate objects over flesh to convey the mystery of what lays within the pages of a romance novel.  I don’t need heaving breasts to tell me that there will be intimacy laced into the story.  It’s a romance novel so I expect it!