Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Marketing Anyone?

Does any of it make any sense to you?

Join FaceBook and share all your details with family and friends.  Make new friends.  So I joined, I connected with old friends and family.  I made friends with total strangers.  The number of my friends continues to go up eventho at times FB does have issues with me 'friending' strangers.

Connect with business friends and others with similar interests; join LinkedIn.  I joined.  Yes, I connected with associates and total strangers who enjoy the same things I do.  A little awkward, but I joined some conversations and made more connections.  Cool.

Tweet your life in 140 characters or less.  It seemed strange but I've learned how to really pack in a lot of info within the limitation established by Twitter.  And making friends there is a lot easier than on FaceBook and LinkedIn.  I was a tad hesitant at first but after just a few days I was tweeting my heart away with other like-minded people and watching my friend count jump into the thousands.

Pinning can be fun.  I wasn't sure about Pinterest but like other social software, a little experimenting and I was connecting with other people who were pinning interesting things.  You could find me uploading pictures to share or listing books I wanted to hustle.

Read anything good? Well, over at GoodReads, I got to share what I was reading and what I hoped to read with others.  Making friends there was a little slower but I connected with some total strangers there, too.  And I've been sharing my reading with them.

Smashwords is a great place to list and hawk your books because you can offer practically every possible ebook format for your story or novel.  Uh-huh.

Wattpad connects readers with writers. [SIGH]  Right.  That one was a little harder for me until just recently.  It seemed the only people I was connecting with there were young (late teen to early 30s) and really wanting me to read/edit/vote for their stuff.  Through a lucky connection, I finally got people to start reading my stuff.

And there is Tumbr.  Joined and haven't figured that one out yet.

What does all of the above have in common? Learning to make connections in an attempt to market book(s) and become a popular author... ok, let's just say market books.

I read John Locke's book on how he sold a million books on Amazon.  I studied that book and re-read many chapters and sections to make sure I gleaned the most out of it.  I even made notes so I would have the info in front of me.

The first eight paragraphs of this blog was part of his suggestion and also the suggestion of two other authors who had marketing books out that I also read.  Join the social media and hype your book.  Connect with as many people as you can and hype, hype, hype.  Ok, not 24/7 but do it so your name is out there in front of their eyes.  Make four tweets; 3 tweets about other stuff, one tweet about you and your book.  On FB make two or three entries then one about your book.  On Wattpad and Smashwords, give away short stories of your character to involve and suck in readers. 

Have a sale, lower the price of your book --  give your book away


I dropped the price of my book by $3 -- to $.99.  I've sold one copy.
I gave my book away for one day -- I gave away NINE copies.

I used ALL of the above marketing strategies.

The result?  Those who have read the book -- they enjoyed it; they like it.

So, my question is -- why is my marketing failing me?  My friend gave away her book and people downloaded over 400 copies.  On FB I noticed one of my friends had his book for free for the month and it had been downloaded over 8K times by the 4th day -- 1200+ times on the day of the entry and it was only 10AM.  Somebody on Twitter thanked everyone for making her book #3 on Kindle when she gave it away for free temporarily.

NINE copies.  Yup.  I gave away nine copies in one day.  I tweeted 5 or 6 times it was free; I made 3 entries on FB about it.  Nine copies.

So, why am I complaining?  I need some feedback on NEW marketing strategies.  I would like to see my book sitting in the top 100 (even #100) Kindle books.  Actually, I think I'd be thrilled to find it in the top 1000.

I am open to suggestions.  Blast away...

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Growing

Writers and gardeners have a lot in common.  If you don't believe, let's consider the facts.

1) Planting the seed.  Gardeners work the ground and get it just perfect then they plant the seeds from which they anticipate either a beautiful flower or tasty treat.  Writers get an idea and the mull it over in the their fertile mind until they are ready to place it to paper.  In other words, they plant the seed.

2) Tending.  Gardeners don't just walk away from the seeds after planting. They spend time, coaxing life to germinate and watch the seedling grow and grow.  As a writer, you've played with the idea in your mind but still, you need to get that first sentence, that grabbing hook just right so go can move forward to create the next paragraph, next chapter.  You watch your writing grow.

3) Fertilize & Water.  Sure the gardener lets Mother Nature do some of the work like watering but sometimes Mom just wants a vacation and it is either too much rain, not enough rain, too much sun, too much shade.  A good gardener will try to help, offering a sprinkling of water, some shade, whatever is necessary to help the plants grow, not to mention the fertilizer.  The writer replicates this also, with endeavors to add the proper words, sentence structure and plot timing.

4) Hoeing & Weeding. Ask any gardener in July and August what one task they despise and over 90% of the time it will be -- weeding, without a doubt.  Gardeners know the weeds have to be pulled to allow the plants the optimum growing conditions.  Writers weed, too.  It is called editing.  I don't believe any writer has written a piece of work that went from typewriter to publisher's ink without some modicum of editing.  A writer has to weed out the words; those superfluous, incorrect, mis-spelled words for the proper ones.

5) Harvest.  This is the moment every gardener lives for; the harvest.  That time when the produce from the labor of love is truly realized.  Yes, when the carrots, tomatoes, corn, gladiolas, roses, etc are brought into the home for eating or pleasure.  A writer reaches this moment when the story is done and the last sheet of paper is placed on that stack.

The analogy could continue with publishing, etc but I believe you can see what I meant by gardeners and writers have a lot in common.

I have planted my seeds (alyssum, tomato, gazania, pansy, green pepper) and am currently watching them sprout in my indoor greenhouse.  Also, I have a couple of stories that have been tromping around in my brain.  I'm about to put words to paper and in about 2 or 3 weeks, I will be planting seeds outdoors (peas & onions) for the new season.

Yes, I'm a gardener and I'm a writer.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Social Media

Today it is said that if a person doesn't employ one or more of the social media formats they are committing electronic suicide.

There are so many media formats to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, GoodReads and the list continues on.

As a writer if you aren't promoting yourself out there, you are literally driving into a dead end.

I currently am on all of the above media formats.  I spend way too much time on them.  In fact, I have discovered that almost my whole day is spent trying to keep up and my writing is suffering.  Contrary to popular belief - there is a social life beyond the electronic world and one must make time for it.  If you are married, there is the spouse; if you have kids, there are their needs; and obviously you have co-workers and friends who want to see your pasty-white face from time to time.  Yes, there is a sun, there is wind, rain, snow, and a plethora of other outside delights.  There is even social media called movies, nightclubs and restaurants.

I attempted to allow myself one hour of Facebook, an hour of Twitter, and hour of ... well, you see the format.  I listed seven media formats -- at an hour each, that is pretty much a day's job.  I'm retired and don't have a boss craning his head over my cubicle wall to see what I'm doing but if I did, it would mean I am only dedicating about an hour to working at my real job.  Not good.

There are days that an hour on Facebook just isn't enough and if the truth be told, that can be so with each of the other social sites if you really want to keep up with all your 'friends' out there in cyberworld. I was told to use my time wisely and actually only allow 15 mins to each of them.  Still, that equals almost 2 hours and with Twitter alone, I have new peeps joining which I feel I must personally thank for following me.  Doing that once a day sort of cheats them.

But, here comes the clincher.

How many of your followers are the same on Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, GoodReads, etc?  Pinterest was the most current social media for me to join.  As I worked through the registration, it connected with Facebook and the next thing I knew, I was following thirty-some Facebook friends on Pinterest.  And, slowly, they are starting to follow me.

Hmm?  I'm suppose to be promoting myself but I'm discovering that most of the people I am following on these different social media sites are the same people.  Oh, there are new ones in each site but, in general, they are the same basic group of people.  Basically, other writers.

For marketing purposes I have discovered a flaw.  I want to know other authors but to sell myself, I need to 'hustle' myself to the readers of the world.

Now my question.  Anyone got an idea of how to do that?  How do I find the readers?  I don't know their names, their emails, etc so how do I get connected to them?

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Do You Write?

Exactly how do you write?  I mean, what is the mood, the environment... what makes you want to write?  Is it music?  A view? 

I've been writing for [mumble, mumble] years and I've moved about that many times.  My serious writing has been the last almost twenty years.  In that time I've had lived in about 5 different locations, each of them unique, I think.  I know they've offered different environments.  I lived in a small rural town in NW Ohio, a small bedroom community outside of Washington, DC, an apartment in a suburb of Detroit, a small community near Monroe, MI and finally, a small country acre back in that rural community of NW Ohio.  The cycle is complete.  Each of those places offered me a different 'mood' when I wrote.  But yet there was a constant.

A constant you ask?  Yes.  Music.  Not necessarily the same music but almost the exact same music over the years.  I am a creature of habit.  I enjoy the golden oldies (60s/70s/80s) plus what some call New Age, a little country, Big Band, classical and then just whatever catches my fancy.

So what do I listen to?  Beach Boys.  Pet Shop Boys.  Elton John.  George Strait.  David Bowie.  John Tesh.  Liza Minnelli.  Bestor & Cardon.  Brule.  Enigma.  Dwight Yoakam.  Benny Goodman.  Garth Brooks.  Mannheim Steamroller.  Michael Jackson.  Tangerine Dream.  Vangelis.  CCR.  Glenn Miller.  Bach.  Tchaikovsky.  Rimsky-Korsakov.  Rachmaninoff.

Needless to say, there are others which include Richard Harris' MacArthur Park (the long version) and island music like Na Ka Pueo or flute music from the Andes by Cuzco. 

Don't get me started on what I'd like to call the "Indies" of the music world which have created some truly interesting and beautiful music which I listen to on a regular basis.

The style of music, for me, doesn't always match the writing. For instance; while writing my Celtic fantasy "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold" I really thought some great Irish tunes would increase my productivity.  Wrong!  Strangely, and I do mean strangely, it was Liza Minnelli's "Results" album which was a collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys really got my imagination going.  And to make it seem even stranger, I also found Tangerine Dream's "Underwater Sunlight" to be an incentive while writing that same novel. Go figure.
Now, give me a view; be it a busy street, a deserted factory, or a wooded backyard.  I really enjoy writing when I'm traveling in the RV.  I can't wait to get parked at some fantastic place and then sit there for hours gazing out the window, letting my mind drift.  When we visit my SIL at a private lake up in northern Michigan, if I'm not out fishing, I'll be sitting in the shade, staring out the quiet lake with my laptop ready to write when Miss Muse finally finds me and slaps me silly for running away and apparently hiding... or so she thinks.  Currently I live out in the country and my desk sits by a window and I look out to the back of the house where the woods are.  Birds, squirrels, deer, raccoon and other creatures wander through and I find peace and solace in writing while sometimes staring out the window.  You have no idea just how exciting it can be to watch a bald eagle land in a tree less than 100 feet from you.  Talk about grace, majesty, total awesomeness!!!

So what invigorates you?  What inspires you to write?

Enya's "Orinoco Flow" has just come on, following Enigma's "Principles of Lust" which was preceeded by Dave Grusin's "Mountain Dance."  I already know Jackson's "Thriller" is next. 

Be sure to read my latest book-ette -- Barry Hargrove and the Case of the Lunar Orchids. It's free. Just click on the title up in the right hand area of this blog.

Until next I ramble on...