No Disassemble!

For some reason, the movie Short Circuit popped into my head this morning.

It got me to thinking about context. As in, so much of the way we learn is by getting things in the proper (or improper) context. For example, as babies, we learn words by associating the word to the thing. It could be food, like a banana, or a cat or the sun or whatever. We learn the word through that contextual association.

How different it was for Number 5 to learn about the world through television. Some things didn’t make sense, at least in how Number 5 imitated them and others did. How crushing a bug made disassemble equate to death.

How often do you have characters in your story struggle to understand something because they don’t have the background to get it? Another great example of that very thing is the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Picard is trying to communicate with a Tamarian captain. The problem is, the Tamarian language is metaphorical. Without the shared experience, it is impossible to understand each other.

What a wonderful opportunity to learn about a character – basically what they don’t understand is as important as what they do. That misunderstanding could be cultural, gender-related, species-related or due to any of a number of differences. Think about the fun you could have with it.

I know, I’m going to give that a try in one of my upcoming stories about Champ McKay, Texas Space Ranger.

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(Perfect) Promotion and Marketing

Do you have $10,000,000 to promote your book? No? How about $1,000,000?

A big budget is certainly one way to hit all your target markets and get the recognition for your work that you feel you so richly deserve. The problem is, will you EVER recoup that investment? I know working from a limited budget (and even more limited time) means I have to really think about what I’m going to try next.

So what avenues are available to we authors?

FREE PROMOTION

I actually hesitate to use the word ‘Free’ because there always seems to be a cost of some kind. That cost might be time, it might be doing someone else a favor or it might even be the investment of your resources (or books).

So what are some of your options?

  • Social Media:
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
    • Tumbler
    • flavor of the month – in every one of these cases, the free part being successful is entirely dependent on your reach. In other words, when you post something, how many people even read the post?
  • Purpose-built Web Applications/Sites for book reviews (free ones):
    • Goodreads
    • LibraryThing
    • name site here – Google is your friend here. Do a search for review sites and check them out. There are many. I’ve only named two that I use fairly often. Mileage will vary on whatever site/application you end up using. I am not talking about for pay here. Be mindful, it is often a good idea to offer free books (or eBooks) for review. Perhaps do a contest on these sites. Again, the quality of reviews will vary.
  • Blog Tours
    • talk to your friends about posting to their sites. Write something interesting and mention your book at the end. You can also have a number of sites send you questions and appear on a site a day…or a week or whatever so your book is being promoted in a number of places. Do online interviews. All of this is great for spreading the word. Just remember, some people have a dozen followers and some have a thousand. Don’t expect every site you appear on to result in untold numbers of books being sold. Also expect to spend some time writing posts/answering questions/doing interviews.
  • Story Sharing Sites
    • Wattpad
    • there are others. I just don’t use them - this one firmly falls under the category of lots of effort. You are trying to grow audience by writing stories for the site and interacting with people who decide to check you out. Be very aware of what the website offers for security of your story and asks for in terms of rights. Wattpad just happens to be the one I really like. :)
  • Podcasts
    • There are many podcasts out there. Two that immediately come to mind that cater to the writer are my own Get Published and Dead Robot Society (DRS). I know there are many others because the rotters keep edging me out for a Parsec every year. ;)
    • These can be a good way to get the word out. It is time well invested.
  • Signings
    • Face time with your readers is always good. Unfortunately, like everything else, it takes time to setup, coordinate and actually carry out not to mention the costs of books, gas and possibly food and accommodations (depending on where you are doing the signing).
  •  Networking
    • Never underestimate the power of talking with people. It might sell a book (or books) or it might get you into a bookstore. It might even get you speaking gigs and time on local newsmedia (radio, television, newspaper, etc.). Take the time to talk to people.

There are certainly others out there. My recommendation is to do as many of the free ones as you can. Take a targeted approach and it will all add up…eventually. ;)

COST OF BUSINESS EFFORTS

I consider this to be those sunk costs that you should have. I won’t go into too much detail because I think they are inherently obvious:

  • Website – every author needs an online presence. Take the time to build that presence in a way that is interesting and updated regularly. Unfortunately, if you don’t have technical skills this means hiring someone to initially build the site. Once you have it, the updating is a time commitment you must make.
  • Business Cards – you should have cards you can hand out to potential readers, editors and publishers (and book store owners and…). Costs for these cards is pretty minimal but should include an email address you can be reached at, who you are (and why people should care), your website URL and possibly any books you already have out for sale.

PAID

The sky is really the limit here. If you have the money, there are plenty of people and businesses who are willing to ‘help’ you. Some options include:

  • Facebook Paid Promotion
  • Paid Reviews
  • Newspaper/radio/television advertising
  • Consignment of books (find out what the bookstore actually charges before agreeing to anything – you may be losing money on every book sold).
  • Reviewer copies of books
  • Mail outs

As you can see, there are plenty of options available to you to get the word out. The cost, however is usually high, either in terms of money or effort.

Is there an ideal combination? If there is, I haven’t found it, however patience is key here. Keep the efforts going. Be willing to try new things and the word will spread. It just takes time.

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If you would like to interview me, do a blog tour or any other kind of cross promotion, please email me: author at michellplested dot com.

You can also find more details about my work at: http://www.michellplested.com/my-work/. My books, Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero, Mik Murdoch: The Power Within and very soon Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty can all be found there. There are also several anthologies with my stories up there too.

Then there is Wattpad.com. You can find me and my stories under mplested there.

 

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Regrouping the Troops

I am constantly guilty of taking on too many projects. My wife hears about my latest project addition and shakes her head (in sorrow and disbelief, I think).

Occassionally, my rational mind kicks in and points out the volume of work I have placed onto my plate. When that happens, there is often a reckoning within my own head. What have I done? Am I crazy or merely stupid? What was I thinking?

These thoughts are often accompanied by worries that I will let someone else down. I won’t meet my deadlines. My work won’t be up to snuff.

In my head, those are all legitimate concerns. Perhaps I focus too much on them, but they are important. For me, without goals, deadlines and others relying on my work completion, I spin around and accomplish nothing.

So I stress for a few days until I have a chance to really think through what I have to do.

For example, I have the following list of projects (writing/podcasting only – real life has its own list):

  • Complete Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty edits (due September 30);
  • Write next Champ McKay episode for Wattpad;
  • Write next Mik Murdoch novel;
  • Revise/polish Boyscouts of the Apocalypse;
  • Edit Portal Under the Sink anthology;
  • Plot and begin writing GalaxyBillies 2;
  • Get Boyscouts of the Apocalypse ready for self-publishing;
  • Relaunch Get Published and put out bi-weekly episodes.
I think there might be more, but I’m avoiding anything else for a little while. Regardless, the list is long and all of the items on it need to be finished in the next several months.
That is the source of the stress.
Then, I gave the list some serious thought. Each of those items takes a finite amount of time. Considerable in some cases, but the work has a definite end.
So I broke it all up and put it into the order when it must be complete. Oddly enough (and perhaps lucky for me), I’m able to put them into an order of completion. And, while the target is huge, it is not impossible. In fact, all I need to do is my normal daily writing and editing routine to accomplish ALL of the above. That means no dawdling, but it is doable.
It doesn’t always work out this way. Sometimes I simply have to shelve something for another time. Sometimes I have to shift the delivery date of an item. In either case, the re-prioritization exercise helps me understand what I’ve got to do and when I have to do it.
Adjusting the perspective is an amazing thing sometimes. And necessary because, as I said earlier, it doesn’t even address the day-to-day life things I have to do.
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