You Don’t Have To Dress Like a Turnip

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There was once a National Lampoon vinyl album (yes, that long ago) in which a person, barely heard in the spoof audience kept saying, “Hey! I’m dressed like a turnip!” Finally the spoofed emcee said, “I see someone out there in the audience dressed as a turnip.”

In the age of mass media, mass everything, if you’re trying to stand out in you field, you have to go about it inventively. If you’re a writer, this doesn’t mean you have to put on a loincloth (or the feminine equivalent) and come into a book signing swinging on a vine. But if people who happen to be in the bookstore see your appearance there as ho-hum, they’re going to think your writing is, too.

That’s why I’m posting a link to this blog. Sitting in a store and hoping someone will like the way you part your hair won’t sell books. So do a reading. That may not do it either – I often see readings as working as well as Sominex. So give a presentation. Make it lively. Get your audience involved. They just may buy copies, then.

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Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

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Good-bye, Doc

In case you haven't heard it already, Arthel Lane Watson, known to millions of guitar players and roots music fans as Doc Watson, died today following a long illness. 

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image via rockymounttelegram.com

 

I won't attempt to re-write what's been written in the article linked below, nor to give "I remembers", but a few words in Doc's behalf are more than appropriate. We in today's world, thanks to perhaps over-examination by the various media, have erroneous views of both  politicians and musicians.

Politicians were made necessary by our collective need for government; hence we probably place our welfare too much in their hands. We trumpet them, we idolize and  damn near worship them as we project our material needs on them.

Musicians, though (again, thanks to the media), benefit from a much different form of idolizing: when we see a musician on stage, we are participating in one of several experiences with them. They may be gifting us with catharsis, i.e., their words or music or stage acts somehow manage to relieve our work or family stresses, our teen or adult or sexual angst, so that we go home in some way exorcised of those things.

Or such musicians, and here I'm thinking of the singer-songwriters, give us the sort of experience we might otherwise get from literature or art, in that they give us understanding. 

Others – and these are not few – people such as Yo Yo Ma, Liona Boyd, or my friend Ken Bonfield – ask us to learn the language of tone and rhythm as a way to join them in expressing human experience in that language. Thus, all of these give us emotional, mental, and even spiritual sustenance.

Doc Watson fit none to well in any of these categories. His life of music was one in which he chronicled the American experience as it came to him from tradition and history as bluegrass bled through and became country, from other musicians playing that hard-to-categorize genre called folk,all of which taken together, assayed America as well or better than anything Mark Twain ever wrote. 

We overuse the word hero today, I think, and I believe any ordinary soldier or fireman or policeman or ordinary citizen who has experienced an extraordinary moment, would agree. Doc Watson, however, is a hero in the most real sense: he has held a mirror to us of these United States, reflecting not merely our faults or our virtues, but the totality, the mind-boggling complexity of what we are. For this, we should drop to our knees for a moment and thank him.

Doc Watson

Making Hay of Social Media

As a group, we writers seem resistant to go digital/electronic. I admit, there's nothing like thumbing through a just-published book with one's name on it. Still, the digital world is ever more a reality these days. bookhitch posted this on making use of social media. I'm just sayin'….

     Tweet Your Way to the Top

Of all the benefits technology provides, one strong advantage is the ease in marketing your own products. For authors, this means gaining higher notoriety at a lower price. Social networking, in particular, is proving to  revolutionize the business world, and is an effective path for promoting a book title and gaining a following. 

 

With the economy pinching our pockets, writers who seek to market their stories are finding it easier (and cost efficient) to network with other authors and publishers via social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. The burden of calling publishers and hoping to engage in conversation with an editor is eliminated, as authors turn instead to "following" publishing companies on these websites, learning vital information about promoting their works. Doing so allows prospective authors to learn more about the company, and potentially shape their works around the demands of the public.

 

Not only are social media tools a simple way to connect, but also a way to engage in conversations with potential buyers. Such interactions allow the public to gain a better understanding about the author.  Interactions will help the readers further understand the authors intended message in their literary works.

 

Building a following on various social media websites may appear to be a daunting task; however, the steps are quite simple if diligent time management and patience are given. In his article, An Author's Plan for Social Media Efforts, author/blogger Chris Brogan shares the steps that are necessary to gain a following and have a presence in the social media world. 

Reprinted with Permission
  1. Set up a URL for the book, and/or maybe one for your name. Need help finding a URL? I use Ajaxwhois.com for simple effort in searching.
  2. Set up a blog. If you want it free and super fast,  WordPress or Tumblr.  
  3. On the blog, write about interesting things that pertain to the book, but don't just promote the book over and over again. In fact, blow people away by promoting their blogs and their books, if they're related a bit. 
  4. Start an email newsletter. It's amazing how much MORE responsive email lists are than any other online medium.
  5. Have a blog post that's a list of all the places one might buy your book.  
  6. Make any really important links trackable with a URL shortener. I know exactly how many people click my links.
  7. Start listening for your name, your book's name.  
  8. Consider recording a video trailer for your book. Here's one from Scott Sigler(YouTube).    
  9. Build a Facebook fan page for the book or for bonus points, build one around the topic the book covers, and only lightly promote the book via the page.
  10. Join Twitter under your name, not your book's name, and use Twitter Search to find people who talk about the subjects your book covers.
  11. When people talk about your book, good or bad, thank them with a reply. Connect to people frequently. It's amazing how many authors I rave about on Twitter and how few actually respond. Mind you, the BIGGEST authors always respond (paradox?)
  12. Use Google Blogsearch and Alltop to find the people who'd likely write about the subject matter your book covers. Get commenting on their blog posts but NOT mentioning your book. Get to know them. Leave USEFUL comments, with no blatant URL back to your book.
  13. Work with your publisher for a blogger outreach project. See if you can do a giveaway project with a few bloggers. 
  14. Offer to write guest posts on blogs that make sense as places where potential buyers might be. Do everything you can to make the post match the content of the person's site and not your goals. But do link to your book.
  15. Ask around for radio or TV contacts via the social web and LinkedIn. You never know.
  16. Come up with interesting reasons to get people to buy bulk orders. If you're a speaker, waive your fee (or part of it) in exchange for sales of hundreds of books. (And spread those purchases around to more than one bookselling company.) In those giveaways, do something to promote links back to your site and/or your post. Giveaways are one time: Google Juice is much longer lasting.
  17. Whenever someone writes a review on their blog, thank them with a comment, and maybe one tweet, but don't drown them in tweets pointing people to the review. It just never comes off as useful.
  18. Ask gently for Amazon and other distribution site reviews. They certainly do help the buying process. And don't ask often.
  19. Do everything you can to be gracious and thankful to your readers. Your audience is so much more important than you in this equation, as there are more of them than there are of you.
  20. Start showing up at face to face events, where it makes sense, including tweetups. If there's not a local tweetup, start one.
  21. And with all things, treat people like you'd want them to treat your parents (provided you had a great relationship with at least one of them).   

The number one rule of thumb for writers is to believe in your work. It is nearly impossible to sell a book to publishers if the writer is humble about their story. Remember, writing is an art and is something that authors should have pride in. Author and business woman Joanne Tombrakos stated (via Jane Friedman) that she has encountered an abundance of authors who "belittle the value of their book," a common mistake that lands their book in the reject bin. Writer should take action in their business selling techniques, and remain passionate about fulfilling their end goal.  

 

 

 

The Millions : Do it Yourself: Self-Published Authors Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

This is a reblog from The Millions, pointing out from different perspectives the new reality in publishing. It's entrepreneurial, and it cuts every publishing step between the writing and the customers' reading. But there are dangers, too. A must-read:

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image via susankmorgan.com

1. More than a few times, my father has waxed lyrical about my future appearance on David Letterman. “You’ll tell him how your dear dad is your greatest influence.” In this fantasy, I’m not an movie star, or even someone with a talented pet. I’m a novelist. “Dad,” I say, “why would Letterman have me — a writer — on his show?” My father doesn’t have an answer. He just shrugs, as if to say, Why not? My father also believes Oprah would take his call. And that he can hand-sell a thousand copies of my (as yet unpublished) novel to people who owe him favors. ”Make it ten thousand,” he says. “Show those numbers to your agent.” Sure, Dad. Okay.

via www.themillions.com

Freakonomics » How I Self-Published a Book, And How You Can Too

Sad to say, but this article tells it exactly how it is in the pub industry. The only caveat is that the author has had the advantage of five conventionally published books on which to build his digital platform.

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This is a cross-post from James Altucher‘s blog Altucher Confidential. His previous appearances on the Freakonomics blog can be found here.

via www.freakonomics.com

And while we're on the subject of writing and publishing, this post from The Millions may instruct and perhaps hearten writers of short fiction.

And then there's this from bookhitch:

We had wonderful feedback from our first Bookhitch Customer Satisfaction Survey. Over 25% percent of our customers expressed an interest in eBook conversions. Bookhitch can convert your book(s) to be accessible in both the Kindle and ePub formats.  Just send us your file(s) as a PDF or Word document. Click on the link below to view our eBook Media Package with personalized options to fit your every need.  Let Bookhitch assist you with your eBook conversions, today!  

Click here to view the eBook Media Package

If you didn't have a chance to respond to our first Customer Satisfaction Survey and would like to do so now: Click Here

 

Hope this gives you writers a boost. Later.

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace – review | Books | The Guardian

I haven't read Wallace's cobbled-together book and likely won't. I've read enough of his work, and Franzen's, to realize their writing talents are immense, but wasted on ego-tripping. Still, I can't help but read about Wallace's new book via the media blitz its publisher is orchestrating. Of the reviews I've read, this one seems likely to be the most revealing.

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David Foster Wallace's suicide in 2008 was a shock that will go on reverberating for as long as people remain interested in the novel. Even if you had mixed feelings about his work, there was no doubting his colossal talent and no mistaking his centrality to his generation of American writers. If anyone was going to become the Melville of the corporatised society, the post-natural environment, the pharmacologically altered human landscape we all now inhabit, he was the one.

via www.guardian.co.uk

The Fastest Dying Businesses? Media Wins The Prize – The Atlantic

Depending on how broadly you define media, six of these ten businesses can be media related. It's a brave new world out there.

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At the center of a perfect storm of boomer burnout, a brutal recession, and a rapidly changing industry, the mobile home retail market could be the worst industry in America. Here's why.

via www.theatlantic.com