Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WACKY WEDNESDAY....Selling your wares.

 Current listen: "When We Stand Together" courtesy of Nickelback

Isn't she pretty? I borrowed her from Brooke London's Facebook page. My "Dreamweaver." It's a reflection of how I see myself...lost in dreams and whimsical fantasies...far away from reality. This also seems to be the way I function most of the time--lost in a daydream. Slightly disconnected from the world, elusive.

Or maybe the hormones are just out of whack again. I was really  this thin once, too. Again... damn hormones, or I should say "the lack thereof."

I consider myself a passionate person--one who doesn't back away from a good fight, whether right or wrong, usually saying the wrong thing at inopportune moments (size 9 mouth) and not checking my parachute before jumping. I try to alternate sides of my face when I "land" to keep things even. 

This weekend I joined in a heated debate on one of writing loops about self promotion, ending with a less than professional statement. Kind of like going for the dramatic exit after an argument with your teenager, slamming the door for effect and catching your finger in the doorjamb. Yes, this is a real life experience, costing me the tip of my finger and payback via 4 nerve shots between my fingers. Not my most shining moment. Once my hand numbed, I apologized for "shapeshifting" and thanked the priest for coming to perform the exorcism. I still slam doors in frustration, only I'm more careful. Half a lesson learned.

When I logged on to my email Monday morning, I felt much the same way. The loop had quieted after the public stoning and beheading ended and an awkward resolve had formed among the ashes. The issue still loomed as if a grenade minus the pin, but no one picked it up. We just cautiously moved around it, hoping it didn't detonate.

Numbers play an important part of boosting you up the publishing ladder. No one pays attention to the bright orange water ski flag waving in a sea of self publishers. I liken it to the floor of the stock exchange right before the bell sounds, closing the market. Brokers frantically punch the numbers, computer screens humming, fingers pointing, voices shouting...all wanting to be heard, their transaction concluded before it's too late.

Right now, e-publishing is EXPLODING. For those of  you who are not writers but happened by because you typed in "Harley Davidson" in your Google search, publishing a book the old fashioned way, which really only means a year or two ago, by submitting your work to an agent, who, in turn, offers you a contract--sells your story to a publisher--hands you over to an editor who polishes (or completely changes) your work--a cover artist (which you have no say in your book cover)--then eight to twelve months later, prints your book, is next to impossible for a new author. The days of agents/editors arranging book signing tours or spending a chunk of change on promoting you and your book have also vanished.

Authors are expected to do their own promoting--sell their own "wares." Authors spend their own money placing ads in publishing magazines and make the round of phone calls, hoping to get a date to set up a book signing table in a local bookstore, Costco, or Barnes and Noble. We become professional "street urchins," shaking our cyber tin cups shouting "Hey! Over here! Come buy my book." Our colleagues host book blog tours to acquaint us with their followers, hoping to land us a few coins in the cup. This advertising cycle applies to both traditionally published and indie or self-published authors.

Have you ever gone to a street fair or festival and walked through endless corridors of booths containing someone selling something? Sometimes, there's booths next or across from each other selling similar items. What makes you go into one booth, but not the other? Do you have a tendency to choose a booth crowded with potential customers, versus one with no one, even if the products are the same? Why?

Curiosity. Since we were small, we always wanted to know what others found fascinating. If classmates circled around something in the hall, we had to join. Our fear of being left out of something turns to instinct. Must find out. It's not that one merchant's product is better, but everyone is in their booth so you have to know why.

This tactic works with selling books, too. If you're browsing a bookstore and several books are stacked on a table, all the same title, we are drawn to the pick up the the the back. But what about the book across the aisle? Same subject, say "romance." But there's only a few of the same book and its stacked with a bunch of others. It doesn't have 'the numbers''s own table. Which book are you going to buy? Same thing in the electronic bookstore. Say you're in Amazon, perusing for a new read. You type in romance and a list (usually based on your past purchases) cascades down the selling first. Do we scroll to the end of the list first to see what that book is about? No. We look at the first one. The one everyone else is buying. The "crowded booth."

So how do you get the numbers up fast? A couple of my writing colleagues have discovered a trick. A "book bomb." When you set up your table in Costco, you tell your friends and bribe your family to be there at a certain time and gather around you, spiking the curiosity of those passing by to want to see what you're selling. If you don't use this tactic, switch. The "crowded booth." Same thing when you're indie publishing. Host a 'virtual' book signing--a "book bomb." Everyone gathers at Amazon at a certain time, their fingers ready to "whispernet" your product at the same time. It's amazing to see how you're thrust to the top of the selling list when everyone buys at once..."crowds" your booth. Maybe you'll fall a little in the days following, just the same as the second or third day after the festival's opening day, but when someone types in "romance" for a books'll be at or close to the top. If you see your numbers slipping fast, have a "sale." Everyone loves a bargain, and some customers shop the last day of the festival to get the best deals.

Insert here. Check out Kristen Lamb's blog today:  She has an important take on giving away your hard work for "free." She touched on some issues I'd never thought of before and gave me pause in my own publishing quandry.

Now for a word of caution to be passed on here. Back to the heated debate. If you belong to a large non-profit organization (I'm thinking RWA or SCBWI), there are rules set in place by the IRS to insure they retain their non-profit status. As with everything in the government, the lines drawn in the sand are real blurry and subject to interpretation as to how the issue of self-promotion should be handled on an individual chapter level. So before you go shouting "book bomb" or send a mass email that could be construed as putting pressure on your fellow members to buy your book, check your chapter guidelines. I'm just sayin'.

Currently, my writing group's emails regarding announcements are relayed in creative "code," steering clear of the grenade in the midde of the room. Lots of "barbeques" being hosted. Personally, when I decide to "bomb" my book, I'll send out a message to visit my blog, possibly containing a threat of bodily injury if one doesn't pop over, and here is where I'll announce my "release bash" or as I put it in one of my debate replies, "a book 'bong' - a cheap $1.99 high." However I do it, be sure you'll all be invited to attend. It will be a B.O.B. affair, with preferred attire being jammies and bunny slippers so you can spread out over my floor while I tell you about my story.

I'm also sad to say, I'm shelving "Wacky Wednesdays" unless something really wacky happens. I have several author friends who have released some fantastic books and I want to have them over to help me clean windows and tell you about their books and themselves. Winter has us hunkered indoors and summer finds us lounging lazily by the pool or on the beach (ahhh...just the thought), but either way, I want to introduce you to some fun reads to add to your library so you're never caught without a good story. I also need the blinds cleaned.

Until then...have a wonderful Wednesday, and thanks for dropping in. You can go back to the Harley Davidson page now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Simply musing out loud...or through written word

Current listen:  "These Times" by Safety Suit...and might I just add, when you open the iTunes home page, the poster announcing Safety Suit's new album is least the guy in the hoodie who looks straight at you. I'm thinking how do I make you a screen saver?

So I'm fresh out of "holiday rehab," coming down off a mean chocolate overdose and still suffering whiplash from all the family drama. I swear my family tree has several twisted, if not broken, branches. Next year? I'm catching a ride on Santa's sleigh to some deserted island. My "jingle bells" were "hells bells." Then New Years knocked on the door. I don't do "resolutions." Why set myself up for failure? I've got enough guilt to deal with. I certainly don't need another self-inflicted wound to nurse. But I did decide on three self-empowerment goals.

I'm going to learn to like myself the way I am. No more comparisons, guilt trips, or kicking myself (which is very tricky as you get older) for not losing the extra 10 pounds. I packed all the clothes donning a single digit dress size into a box and gave them to charity. I'd been holding on to them for 2 years, believing I'd fit into them again...a "once upon a time" without the fairytale ending.

I'm going to stop worrying about what others think.  This is hard one. I have a problem with wanting to be "liked." Maybe it's some deep rooted self doubt issue, stemming from being stuck in the social middle through school -- not elite enough to be at the top of the food chain but not pond scum either. In any event, the fear of stepping out of the bounds those around me have deem "acceptable" and offending someone or getting my own "feelers" hurt by their reaction, opinion, or snub, ends this year. There are no lines drawn in the sand that the wind can't blow away. Besides, no one walks in my shoes but me.

I'm going to stop being afraid of failure. "No guts. No glory." It's a fact I'm going to fall on my ass, several times. I'm going to walk into doors I think are open and trip over my foot as I insert it in my mouth (a size 9 fits well and there's still room for air). Fear is the biggest "life sucker" there is. When I drive a motorcycle I know there's a chance I could crash, but my love of feeling the wind in my hair (and the bugs in my teeth) and the freedom I can't get driving around in a car (although driving my Mini is a blast) overpowers the fear. The same thing goes for writing. If I keep spinning in a circle of uncertainty for fear of getting another rejection, or reading another judge's critique that has me questioning my talent as an author, then the wonderful stories stuck on my hard drive are going to stay there. Yeah, not everyone is going to like what I write. Some will shake their heads and feel much better about their talent after reading my work, and to be honest...I do the same.

According to the universe and my magic 8 ball, 2012 is going to be my year. We'll see. The only thing I'm certain about at this point is that I'm the only one who can make my life work for me. Whatever deck of cards I'm dealt, I am the one responsible for how I play the "hand."

Later cyber friends! Thanks for stopping by.