Tag Archives: social media

Writing and Marketing – Which is More Important?

Living the Dream Back in the days when I only had two novels to my credit, and I wasn’t even sure if I would ever write a third, things were easy. If I felt like writing, I wrote. It wasn’t a problem because there was little else competing for my time. Water Hazard

How quickly things change.

Here we are only five years later and oh, what I wouldn’t give for those good old times.

Somewhere along the way I became a juggler.

juggling time

It was easy at first…like juggling two tennis balls. Keeping both of them in the air was a piece of cake, and if one of them happened to slip away it would usually bounce right back to me.

Somewhere along the way the two tennis balls turned into three or four or five…and they aren’t tennis balls anymore, they’ve become eggs, so now it’s a little more important to keep them off the floor.

I’m speaking metaphorically of course, to illustrate what it feels like to be me sometimes.

When I only had two books, I also had an abundance of spare time because I wasn’t really concerned with marketing.

After my third novel was released I began to realize that these wonderfully, magnificent works of literary magic were not going to sell themselves. So I began hitting the social media marketing scene – heavily. I began promoting myself on facebook, twitter, this blog, pinterest, LinkedIn, Google + and Goodreads (links provided for your convenience). There are probably others, but I can’t remember at the moment.

My social media presence grew slowly…at first it was just posting a few cool pictures, sharing a blog post and tweeting a couple of promos over the course of a week.

Easy-peasy, right?

Yeah…it was.

Nowadays keeping up with my social media marketing has become a monster that must be fed constantly. Things get really interesting when you start adding book signings and networking events – forget about the full-time job, the part-time gig at the radio station, and the social life.

What can a poor boy do? (I certainly can’t sing in a rock-and-roll band)

I’ve learned that being a writer is more than just mastering the craft…it’s also about mastering time-management.

Like the old fishing conundrum – fish or cut bait.

bait

You’re out there on your boat, trying to catch dinner and you drift into a big school of potentially delicious filets…but you’re running out of bait.

Your head swivels back and forth between the chunk of frozen bait on the deck and the boiling ocean as dinner swims by.

You need to get your hook in the water if you want to catch a fish, but a bare hook is useless.

Writing and marketing…either one, without the other, is a waste of time (unless you’re one of the delusional few who claim that you write for the love of it). You need to write a book in order to have something to market, but if you waste too much time marketing you don’t get the book written.

Isn’t that a Catch-22? (One of the classic novels I’ve never read)

I don’t know how I ended up with such a lopsided ratio, but in recent weeks I’ve been forced to readjust my priorities to something a bit more manageable if I expect to release a new book this year.

Usually by this time of year I’m getting ready to pass off a manuscript to my beta readers…right now my current MS, Full Circle, is hovering around 13,000 words. A far sight short of its anticipated 90,000. So you know what that means…it means it’s time to cut bait…or fish…whichever is the metaphorical equivalent of get busy writing.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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What the F%*K is Wrong with People?

WARNING: This post is a rant and will contain very little, if any, content of substance. It may, however, contain offensive language. If you are offended by any thought expressed by me, I apologize in advance. Some of the content, not of my creation, will – or at least SHOULD – offend you…be forewarned.

Rated R

Okay, now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, I would like to open with a question.

What the f%*k is wrong with people?

Not all people, but an ever-increasing number of them.

Social deviance is nothing new, but the age of social media seems to have elevated it to the point where it is now acceptable to act like a complete a$$hole in a public forum.

annonymity Back in the days of face-to-face conversation there was usually (not always, but usually) a filter. We might have thought something about the person we were talking to, but there was something about eye contact that gave pause to saying it aloud. Now that conversation has been, or is being, replaced by typing – and eye-to-eye is giving way to eye-to-monitor – that filter is being eroded.

The problem is compounded when the anonymity of the internet creates a digital mob-mentality and people jump on a bandwagon they’d ordinarily ignore.

I understand that people are entitled to their opinions, and I am also aware that not everybody likes everybody else…and the combination of those two facts often leads to “less than respectful” remarks – especially when it comes to celebrities. mob mentality

Back in the pre-social media days many of these remarks went largely unheard – thankfully.

Not so anymore…nowadays our preferred method of communication is instantly available world-wide. Everything we say (post) can be seen by millions of people before we have a chance to reconsider saying it…and it seems that some people are using it as their personal platform in hopes of getting their fifteen minutes of fame…AND (the worst part of the whole thing) it seems that the easiest way to make that leap into the limelight is by being more rude and offensive than the last douchebag.

What set me off, you ask?

In a way, it’s been building for some time now.

Every day I peruse the internet and find myself asking (aloud) “What the f%*k is wrong with people?”

Some of the things people post are, to me, absolutely mind boggling.

I freely admit that I am not perfect. I have my opinions and I am pretty staunch in my beliefs…but I do my best (this post notwithstanding) to follow one of my mother’s staples of wisdom…”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Granted, I am not above posting a humorous meme about Kanye’s antics or some other such silliness…but there is a line that I won’t cross.

I won’t even approach it.

It’s the line that separates the majority of people from the scum.

The final straw came in the form of a series of tweets directed at former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling.

Curt has a daughter about to enter college where she will pitch for the college softball team.

Being a proud father, Curt tweeted about his daughter’s accomplishments.

I’m sure; as a celebrity, Curt expected some “colorful” backlash…he was probably even prepared for a little bit of rudeness.

What he got was something that nobody could have ever expected, and something that nobody deserves – a barrage of replies about his daughter that left rude and disrespectful in the rear-view-mirror and sped away from it at Mach 2.

We’re talking about comments that would make the proverbial drunken sailor blush. Violent, sexual and deeply personal.

Curt responded with a blog post (see it here) and, in my opinion, is exhibiting restraint that I can’t imagine. Thankfully I don’t have a daughter, because if I did, and something like this happened, I would be out of my mind with rage.

In the interest of full disclosure – it is well documented that I am a Red Sox fan, and Curt Schilling played a major role in their 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships…but (believe it or not) that has nothing to do with my reaction to this bullshit.

If this had happened to Alex Rodriguez I would be equally as outraged.

This behavior – REGARDLESS OF WHATEVER BULLSHIT RATIONALIZATION YOU HAVE FOR IT – is so far down the ladder of social acceptance that if we took the express elevator to hell we’d still have to look down with binoculars to see it.

Honestly. Any person who thinks there is even a hint of justification for this sort of garbage is a moron of the highest order, to be grouped with child molesters and animal abusers.

This is what I say to these scumbags…

Yes, this is a free country, and…Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want, but…Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.hate speech

You are nothing more than a degenerate, moron, scumbag – and your parents should be locked in a Turkish prison for raising you so poorly.

Maybe you’re a refugee from an alternate reality where this behavior is common-place. If so, do the universe a favor and go back, I’m sure you’re considered one of the elders there and your wisdom is surely missed.

That’s all I have to say…actually, I have a lot more to say, but to say it in this post would mean reducing myself to the same level as the “people” I’m talking about.

I told you there would be very little meaningful content in this one.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

My friend Becky and I seem to have this running “discussion” about marketing our books. She recently shared her thoughts on the matter in this blog post, to which I added a brief comment.

Then I decided a more lengthy response was in order…so here we are.

My Thoughts About Marketing for Independent Authors

Step 1; Write the book

Seems pretty self-explanatory and definitely obvious so we won’t go into any detail about it, other than to say if you ever want sell a book, it’s the only place to start (plagiarism notwithstanding).

Step 2; Sell the book

This is where many authors drop the ball.

In fact, when I released my first novel, Living the Dream, way back in the day, I made the very mistake(s) I’m about to tell you to avoid – so pay attention, because I’m speaking from experience.

First, let’s start with some assumptions;

Assumption number 1 – you didn’t write your novel for fun.

This is not to say you didn’t have fun writing it, I’m sure you did (editing – that’s a different story!). No, what I mean is that your ultimate goal was to sell books.

I wrote a blog post about this very topic a while ago (Do We Write for Love or Money?)

There may be some who are insulted by the concept of producing any form of art for money, but as Dr. Samuel Johnson said ““No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Let’s face it, you spent months, maybe years, writing that book…did you do all that work just so it could take up space on your hard drive? If so, you can stop reading and go do something else…there’s nothing for you here.

Assumption number 2 – you don’t have a publicist or a PR firm at your disposal.

I once entertained the thought of hiring a publicist – until he told me how much his services would cost. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it was far too expensive…especially when he wouldn’t promise me any results. I was of the opinion that if you’re going to charge me hundreds of dollars to increase my sales, you should at least promise me tangible results, or, at the very least, work on strict commission.

He didn’t share that attitude.

Assumption number 3 – you get tired of people asking you if you’re making money yet, and you’re even more tired of telling them that you aren’t.

This can be very annoying, and somewhat demoralizing for independent authors. When people learn that you write books the conversation usually goes from “Wow, you’re an author? That’s cool!” to “Are you making any money?” pretty quickly.

Not that they’re trying to be rude or inconsiderate, they’re usually just curious.

And of course we try to find creative ways to answer, like “I’m not getting rich, but it’s getting better.

 

The take-away from this is that you need to sell your book.

I’m no expert. I can’t tell you that doing this, that or the other thing will result in a sudden influx of cash. If I could, I’d be writing this from my yacht. What I can offer are a few tips of what NOT to do and a couple of suggestions that might help you a little bit.

First – some do’s:

Do:

  • Be aggressive. How aggressive is up to you. I like to strike a balance that is not too passive, but not obnoxiously aggressive either. I’m still experimenting.
  • Be supportive of other authors. The independent author community is huge, and growing every day. Mutual support helps all of us. If you can’t buy books by other authors, at least help promote them – they will usually reciprocate.
  • Utilize social media. Things like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, blogging, etc are FREE and provide access to millions of people. Take advantage of it (again, I’m still experimenting with different methods, but it works). (Side note: some people seem to get offended by “paid promotions” on facebook – but I use them. Once or twice a month I create a “buy my book” post and pay to promote it. I never pay more than $10 and it reaches a few thousand extra people. In my mind…it’s $10 well spent. Of course you can spend hundreds if you want…I don’t want.)
  • Block out time for marketing. Writing time is precious for all of us, especially if you have a day job, but it’s critical to save time for your due diligence. Believe it or not, I probably spend 2 hours on marketing for every hour I spend writing…maybe more.
  • Steal ideas. That’s right, I said it. If you see another author doing something to sell books that you think might work for you, it’s okay for you to do it too. Hey, there’s more than one commercial during the Super Bowl, right?
  • Monitor your sales on Amazon. If you don’t know how to do this…find out. It’s easy and it’s the only way to figure out what is working and what isn’t.
  • If something isn’t working, stop doing it. Pretty simple. Try a new promo idea…run with it for a week or two, while monitoring your sales numbers. If you don’t see results, move on.
  • Remember – the only stupid idea is one you don’t try. Getting your book cover tattooed on your butt and posting the picture on Pinterest may seem idiotic, but you’ll never know until you try.

 

And now the don’ts:

Don’t:

  • Sit around waiting for your book to sell itself. Believe me, it won’t. Books are notoriously lazy.
  • Assume that what you’re doing is enough. Unless you are interviewing chauffeurs and body guards…keep pushing.
  • Do the same thing over and over. Marketing is a continually evolving endeavor – that’s why you don’t see the same TV commercials for Coke and Pepsi today that you saw when you were a kid (unless you’re 11).
  • Listen to the naysayers. There are people who will tell you that marketing is a waste of time. Ask them how many books they’re selling.
  • Be afraid. Remember the old saying…If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done. Maybe you’re shy and don’t want to get out there and sell yourself. Too bad – nobody is going to do it for you.
  • Be aloof. I don’t want to hear any of that “I’m an artist, not a salesman” crap. If you’ve ever gone on a job interview you were selling yourself – this is no different. Well, maybe a little different…but you went on that interview because you needed a job. Think of marketing the same way.
  • Pretend you don’t care if nobody reads your book. You do. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have finished it…or even started it for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your work with the world…warm up to that concept.
  • Believe me. Don’t take my word for any of this…find an author who sells a lot of books and ask them if I’m right or wrong (if I’m wrong, please let me know).
  • Give up. There is an audience for every book…keep going until you find yours.

 

I think that’s about all I have.

As I’ve said many, many times…I am no expert, but I have learned a few things in the past 5 years. Hopefully I can save you some time by imparting these nuggets to you.

Conversely – if you have any tips for me – lay them on me—I am definitely not too proud to listen to your advice.

 

Oh – one more thing…my newest book, Eyewitness Blues is now available in paperback and digital formats…buy it! (too pushy?)

 

As always – thank you for reading

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How NOT to Build Your On-Line Following

Last week on my radio show (Friday Night Writes, co-hosted by Armand Rosamilia) we discussed two separate topics which I’m going to fuse into one for the purposes of this blog post.

cover4

The two topics were Twitter Tips for Authors and Authors Should View Each Other as Teammates Rather Than Competition.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, but I really didn’t start using it regularly until 2012 when Armand gave me a crash course – so I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert.

However…

There is one thing about Twitter that is, to me anyway, common sense. It also applies to Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

It Doesn’t Cost You Anything to Follow Back.

Seriously.

As Independent Authors, we rely on social media to expand our audience and reach out to potential readers. Unfortunately some authors treat it like a competition…like we are all fighting over that one reader.

On a typical day I will follow anywhere from 10 to 50 new people. Many of them are other authors, but not all. Generally, about 75% of the people I follow will return the courtesy and follow me back. Most of the people who don’t are usually large entities who can’t possibly follow every one of their followers.

twitter followers

For example, this morning I followed the Library of Congress (@librarycongress). They have over 550,000 followers, yet they only follow 7, and 3 of those are other branches of the LoC.

I truly don’t expect a return follow from them.

At the same time that I followed the LoC, I also followed several other people, and within 2 hours almost all of them had followed me back.

There were 3 (all Independent Authors) who sent me direct messages.

The messages were worded differently, but all said basically the same thing…

Thank you for following me, let’s connect on Facebook too.

message

Okay. No problem.

I’m all about the networking…

I proceeded to click the link they so thoughtfully provided to their facebook fan page and give it a like.

I then tried to send a reply to them saying I had connected with them on facebook, and I also provided them with a link to my facebook fan page.

I hit send and got a red flag saying I was not allowed to send a direct message to this person because they do not follow me.

This happened for all three of them.

message2

You took the time to send me a message asking me to like your facebook page, but you can’t follow me back?

So guess what I did.

That’s right. I unfollowed them.

 

This is the way I see it…

You are an Independent Author…I am an Independent Author and we are both trying to succeed in a pursuit where the odds are decidedly against us.

I can’t speak to your reasons for not wanting to follow another author, but I can give you my reasons for doing it…

Authors read too…yeah, that’s right – not only are we writers – we are also readers. So every time you don’t return a follow you have alienated both a colleague and a potential reader.

Authors have readers…think about it – establishing a two-way connection with other authors opens the door to attracting some of their followers.

You might learn something…at the absolute minimum; you should view connecting with other authors as a chance to learn something new and helpful. None of us know it all, but all of us know something.

 

Being an Independent Author is not for the timid. It’s long hours and hard work for very little money. On a dollar-per-hour basis, we’d probably do better flipping burgers.

Doesn’t it make more sense to work as a team, rather than trying to fly solo?

If we all help each other we all win.

People buy lots of books. I know people who read as many as five books a week. It’s not like buying a car or a house…we are not salespeople competing for that one buyer’s money.

book salesman

So when another author follows you on Twitter (or any social media platform), take a few seconds to follow them back…it costs you nothing and you’re helping all of us.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Social Media Marketing for Indie Authors (and Dummies)

One thing I hear quite often from readers is that “writing a book must be hard.”

Well, it’s definitely not easy, but truth be told, writing the book is the easy part. It’s the “getting it out to the world” that’s the hard part.

Ask 10 Independent Authors about their marketing strategy and you’ll get 20 different answers.

The good news is, there is a ton of ways to promote your work. The bad news…you have to figure out which one(s) will give you the most bang for your buck.

I hang out with two other indie authors on a regular basis (Armand Rosamilia and Becky M. Pourchot) and we have devoted a lot of conversation time to the “best” marketing ideas. We’ve discussed ideas from newspaper ads to radio broadcasts, we go to art-related events regularly and we routinely harass local businesses into selling our books and hosting signings. We also discuss the value, or lack thereof, of giving bookmarks to potential readers (see Armand’s blog post about it here) and even the advantages, or disadvantages of giving books away.

After we’ve beaten the above ideas to death, and beyond, we move on to social media – which, although mostly free, is not without issues. There is no doubt about its value as a marketing tool, but be careful how you use it or it can do more harm than good. It’s taken me about 5 years to get a handle on it and I’m still no expert, but here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far…

 

Lesson #1 – The internet is free publicity…unless you count the old adage “time is money.”

time is moneySure – you can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and a slew of other social media sites and plug yourself until the cows come home – but how much time are you willing to spend every day keeping up with all of it. If you want to establish an on-line presence you have to be active. Keeping a facebook page dynamic enough to draw interest requires constant attention. Not letting your Twitter feed become stagnant takes time, and your Goodreads page isn’t going to remain up to date by itself. I think you see the way I’m steering the boat…

 

Lesson #2 – Using the internet is so easy a 12-year-old can do it…problem is, I’m not 12.

baby on facebook

I have enough trouble remembering 47 different user-IDs and passwords, never mind figuring out how to link my Facebook feed to my Goodreads page. Every time I try to update my website, it’s a two-hour ordeal, and before it’s over I have usually invented a handful of new cuss-words. And why can’t things look and act the same on my phone and Kindle as they do on my PC? I swear, the first thing I’m going to do after Steven Spielberg makes a movie from one of my books is hire an IT Department.

 

Lesson #3 – Be careful with your content…you won’t sell a book to someone who thinks you’re an a$$hole.

political postsWhether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn or Pinterest it is wise to avoid controversy. I used to enjoy engaging people in “spirited debates” on Facebook, but Armand finally convinced me that it was not the best business decision, since I ran the risk of alienating people who had opposing viewpoints. Yes, I am entitled to my opinion, as is everybody, but by voicing those opinions I was running the risk of pissing people off, so I backed off and now I only engage in non-controversial (for the most part) discussions. I suppose if I were Stephen King, I wouldn’t care about it, but…

 

Lesson #4 – Sure, the idea of being on the internet is to sell books…but don’t actually ask people to buy them.

salesman

Talk about contradictions, right? You want to use the internet to reach the world and sell your book (or song, or painting, or whatever), but if you do nothing but bombard the feeds with “buy my stuff” posts your sales numbers will be less than staggering. You might as well put on a cheap suit and shout “…but wait! There’s more!!” Nobody likes a high-pressure salesman. Social media is meant to be, as the title implies, social…so socialize (bearing in mind Lesson #3). Share content that is interesting, funny, philosophical or thought provoking…then every now and then slip in a casual reminder that you happen to have something for sale.

 

Lesson #5 – Social media is a two-way street…make sure you go both ways.

two way

Imagine you meet somebody at a party, begin a discussion and within minutes you realize that this person talks about nothing but themselves. Pretty soon you’d be wishing for somebody to interrupt so you can casually slip off to the bathroom. Social media is no different. Don’t be “that guy” (or girl). Contribute to conversations you didn’t start, acknowledge pictures of peoples children or pets with a “like”, “favorite” or “+1” (whatever the case may be). Show people that you’re interested in them and they will respond in kind. Pretty simple, actually.

 

Lesson #6 – If you can’t be original…at least add some creativity when you plagiarize.

duplicate original

There’s really nothing new under the sun, and social media drives that point home like a sledge hammer. There are going to be times when you share a picture, retweet an article or repin an item. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just try to do it in such a way that doesn’t leave you looking like a parrot. Mix it up, add some original content and try to make it (at least partially) your own. If you’re creative enough to write a book, you should be creative enough to come up with a caption more original than “LOL” under the picture you stole form your high school buddy. And try to avoid reposting content that has been around the block a thousand times…

I think that’s about enough for now. One other lesson I’ve learned about the internet…don’t overshoot the attention span of your audience!

And speaking of the internet – here are links to connect with me out there on the interweb – stop by and say hello.

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Pinterest

LinkedIn

Website

And if you want to find me quickly, do a search for #Ike

 

As always – thank you for reading.

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