Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Media and New Marketing XV

Time for a new post even though I've got nothing to say. I will mention my new author page at Family Fiction, an online Christian magazine that focuses on fiction, oddly enough. It's worth a mention because I broke in there through my weasely social networking.

Family Fiction is one of the groups I joined on Facebook, and then I added links to a couple of comments they posted, knowing it would show up on the news feeds of their followers. It also caught their attention too, which I hadn't counted on. Judging from their website they seem to focus on traditional publishers, and there's no way I could find to contact them directly, so this is a major breakthrough for me, at least as a moral victory. So be sure to go there lots and generate a lot of traffic.

Gearing up for Sample Sunday #3!

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Media and New Marketing XIV

Well, SampleSunday passed, and I finally learned how to see retweets, and my tweets for Feallengod were retweeted exactly once, and that by a friend I had to pay a lot of money to. JK. But only the last part. So it remains true that social networks are really useless unless your network is really behind you. That seems to be the nut remaining to crack. But I'm going to stick with it for awhile; next weekend, Wars of the Aoten.

But, in other news, I did learn how to track retweets, which proved to be quite easy. For some reason I couldn't find any instructions on how to do it on the World Wide Web. Another thing I've been struggling with is Amazon's best-seller lists based on genre. I think I've finally figured that out as well, and The Job is #68 in the Christian humor fiction category. And this after a brutal March. So tell your friends.

The final comment I'd make today is that Twitter followers are really fickle. Although I'm up by about 30% again after this weekend, that includes a number of drop-outs. I think a lot of people are just trying to set records with followers, and if they pick you up and you don't reciprocate, then you're done. But if someone has several thousand followers, they're never going to see your tweets anyway, so what's the point? So I'm happy with the handful I've got. Especially if they retweet.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sample Sunday

Here we go again. Sample Sunday is coming up again, surprisingly enough on Sunday, and I will be participating again with an excerpt from "Feallengod: The Conflict in the Heavenlies." I will be offering Chapter 8, which according to St. Celibart stats, is the most popular chapter outside of the penultimate, which is the coup de gras, and I'm not going to offer it to anyone who can't find St. Celibart. So there.

So here's the deal: Independent authors band together on Sample Sunday to Tweet using the hashtag #samplesunday. Each tweet includes a link that leads to an excerpt from one of the author's books. Twitterers who are involved follow the links, and if they like the excerpt, they retweet the original tweet. That way the author's work gets exposure to each re-twitterer's network of followers. I'm also using the hashtags #spiritual and #literaryfiction, so you can search with those to find me if you want. It seems like an effective way to use Twitter.

Speaking of which, I've figured out a couple of the chintzy ways of manipulating social media. First a disclaimer -- there's nothing new here. First, on Twitter I'll often use one of the top hashtags, so hip people will be forced to see my tweets. Of course, the activity around these hashtags is fast and furious, otherwise they wouldn't be at the top, so I'm probably just getting lost in the fray. And then there's Facebook, where I join appropriate groups and wait for them to post something. Then I'll comment and leave a link, which will show up on the news feed of everyone in that group. So I have to say I've got it all figured out.

BTW, I've sold one copy of "The Job" this month.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Politics 101

This is about politics. I'm pretty conservative, so if you think you might be offended, turn away now.

The president is in South America right now, and I ran across this story about what he's doing there. Bear in mind that he's put a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, in spite of a court order to lift the moratorium. Apparently deep-water drilling is OK, even to be promoted in other countries, but not in the United States. The author of the article makes a good argument why Americans should shake their heads over this policy.

But why? Why is drilling off Brazil's coast and buying their oil OK, but we have to keep our oil reserves in the ground? The Gulf is not the only area off-limits to U.S. oil companies -- the eastern seaboard, the coast of Florida, the coast of California, ANWAR, federal lands in the western desert, etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on of U.S. oil reserves that must remain in the ground. So why?

Cal. Rep. Maxine Waters tells us why:

video

(Tennesseans will enjoy seeing Stephen Cohen smirking in the background.) Waters let it slip. The major tenet of socialism is all industry and business being owned and run by the government. Her stated desire here specifically is to take over the oil companies. Why would the government want private industry to profit from oil reserves when some day it wants to profit from oil itself? It's just an investment. Liberals are so sure they will be getting all the money one day, they want to be sure there's plenty there to get. And that's what politics is all about, folks: money.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Media and New Marketing XIII

I had an interesting weekend. Did you? Spring is now upon us in all its glory, so I decided to spend a couple days inside staring at the Internet.

First, I found a few Facebook pages that seem useful: Writing Kindle Books, a closed group for, believe it or not, those who write books for Kindle. Another is called Book Worms, which is mostly for readers but has an area for authors to mention their books, and yet another is Christian Books, which apparently just helps people know what's out there. So I'm all over that. I also discovered Pixel of Ink, which highlights e-books that cost less than $1, so I'll probably be using them eventually.

The other notable event of the weekend was my first Sample Sunday, which I think may also have been the first ever. Sample Sunday is a Twitter event in which authors tweet about their book(s) and include the hashtag #samplesunday. Then followers are asked to retweet, and on and on, to gain exposure for the books. I joined in, and even though there's no way to tell if it meant anything, I'll continue on the next several Sundays. I can say that my Twitter followers grew by 50%. I'm just now figuring out Twitter, and I'll probably offer some thoughts about it later. In related news, the viewership of my video on YouTube is still going strong. But sales remain elusive.

I've got another marketing ploy up my sleeve, but I can't say anything about it now. If it develops, I'll certainly let you know.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mediasaurus

I was literally lying around the other day, reviewing my stellar career in the news media. The reverie was brought on because I'd seen a promotion the newspaper I used to work for had posted online for its new Twitter news feed. This development had made me remember how I told a co-worker in the mid '90s that print newspapers would mostly disappear in 20 years (I thought the only survivors would be huge "newspapers of record," as they are called, and small-town weeklies.) Just call me Nostradamus. My afore-mentioned employer has been very slow to develop its Internet presence, much less apps for smart phones and touch pads. They seem to finally be dipping their toes in the social media. Meanwhile, they've been cutting positions and salaries like Johnny Depp in "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

So what's new in all this? Well, as my mind was wandering around, it occurred to me that even with all the adjustments the newsies are making to use new media, newspapers and magazines are doggedly hanging on to the printed page, even though that technology is sinking faster than the Andrea Doria (thought I was going to say Titanic, didn't you?) After salaries, ink and paper are the biggest expense a daily newspaper has. If these news outlets would jettison their printing, they'd have a windfall of money to invest in improving their staff and therefore their product. So there must be some reason they're hanging onto this deck chair, even though it's water-logged and dragging them down.

I think it's because the printed page is their last vestige of exclusivity. Anyone can blog, anyone can Tweet, anyone can become a clearing house of news links on the Internet (this essentially is what the Drudge Report is.) I have a friend who's been following the turmoil in North Africa via Twitter's news feed, and he's been better informed about the overall scene than reporters who are there. But not everyone can afford to print their product every day, or week or even month. That sets these old media outlets apart, and I think they're clinging to it as a mark of legitimacy and therefore power. But that's another thing they just don't get -- the new media has put the lie to press "objectivity" and the limits that printed pages (that is to say, space) put on news coverage. The same thing can be said about the limits (that is to say, time) put upon broadcast news. The old media is just inferior in every way. And it will die a tortured death if it doesn't recognize that soon.

Check out my page on Goodreads.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book giveaway

And the winner is -- nobody! Because nobody entered. Which told me what I wanted to know.

Promotion through the Internet is like chasing the wind.

Posting the giveaway here, and on Kindle boards, and Barnes and Nobles' discussion boards, was viewed a number of times but raised no interest. So it remains a mystery how to engage the imagination of the market.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Media and New Marketing XII

Well, the big experiment is over, and it's report card time. All my books were 1/2 off at Smashwords for "Read an E-book Week." The week started out with a sudden sale of both "Feallengod" and "Wars of the Aoten," neither of which I'm promoting at all, and after that -- nothing. Not a peep. So, I conclude that my sales are not being affected by my prices being too high. And I don't think they're being affected by my attempts at promotion, either. Inexplicably, the day after the sale, somebody downloaded a sample of "The Job"; that guy's timing is off.

This past week I've joined Kindle Forum, which appears to be a small attempt at a social network for everything Kindle. I've also been active lately at Barnes and Noble's bulletin board. When you look up strategies for building an "author platform," as they call it, getting on bulletin boards is pushed as essential, but I have yet to draw much of a response to any of my threads. My posts do appear to get a number of views -- in a related matter, my YouTube video has increased its views by a third in the last three weeks, after being posted a couple of times on Kindle Boards -- but I can see no way they've inspired interest in the book itself.

So, that's a lot of complaining. Should I care about all this in the first place? More on that later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Belief, books and baseball

My friend Tim Ellsworth's new book Pujols: More than the Game, written together with Scott Lamb, has been released by Thomas Nelson and landed in my hands. Thanks Tim. I read most of it in manuscript form, and I can assure baseball fans, in particular St. Louis Cardinal fans, they'll enjoy it. But the book goes well beyond Albert Pujols' baseball accomplishments, and dedicates at least half of its chapters to his life of faith and charitable works. The balance that Pujols' has found between almost unprecedented success in his sport and humility before Christ is good to see. As a Cubs fan, I have to mention that there is some fawning over Pujols, but the authors don't gloss over the controversy that has arisen around Pujols over the years, limited though it is.

So congratulations to Tim and Scott for finding an idea and seeing it through. Much of what is published for the Christian market are testimonies by the rich and famous, and while this book is not exactly that, maybe I'll comment more on that phenomenon later. Pujols: More than the Game has a built-in market, particularly in the mid-South, and a release date during spring training couldn't be better, so I'm sure it will sell well and lead to bigger and better things.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Media and New Marketing XI

Not much to say today, but a reminder that this is Read an E-book Week. I don't know who came up with that brilliant idea, but Smashwords.com has taken it under wing, and they use it to promote themselves and their authors. All of my books are half-price this week, so check them out using this link. Good luck, 'cause as of this morning I think their server had been crashed.

Also, there's a new review, from Cynthia Hickey of Author's Choice Reviews. It's a rolling page and they update every day, so you'll have to scroll down some. This site rates books according to their "faith element" (The Job scored high), and I think is aimed at wholesalers -- bookstores or distributors who care about what message their books get across. Anyway, it's another link on the innernational inter webs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Media and New Marketing X

My animated video excerpt has broken through the 200-view level on YouTube. It's been up for almost six months, so that's not exactly viral. It's been seen in Slovakia and Vietnam, among other random world sites. I don't know how people can find it in those places, but so few see it in the English-speaking world. I did find a link to it at World News, a web page with an unique approach.

So the big news is the podcast version is now officially available and searchable at the iTunes store. The problem is, I don't know how to steer people toward it there, either. Am I whining now? What do you mean 'now'? Yeah, I'm whining, and I will until I figure this out.

Don't forget the giveaway!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Beware the ides of March! That is the day three lucky blog readers will get their own paperback copy of "The Job: Based on a True Story (I Mean, This is Bound to have Happened Somewhere)". The catch is, the winners won't be random -- they'll be the three entrants who live furthest away from me. (United States and Canada residents only).

So, will the furthest away be in Alaska? Or will it be just down the street? You just can't tell! So don't hesitate -- email me your full name and address, and on March 15 first thing in the morning Central Standard Time, I'll announce winners. Et tu, Brute! It could be your lucky day!