Why I’m Glad January is Over

There are more than just one or two reasons why I’m glad January is over, but there is only one I’m willing to talk about today. As a writer of contemporary fiction, I’m always trying to find new and better ways to promote my work. Part of that includes enlisting the help of paid consultants, whose advice (since I paid for it), holds a lot of weight. By the way, so do I: this will be clear in a moment.

One of the things we writers have to do is internet marketing through blog posts. Personally, I like blogging, except when I’m told that I have to do it. Which is also why I like being an indy writer. There’s no publisher, agent, or editor hounding me about deadlines. I write what I want, when I want. It’s great for the creative mind; not so much for the creative wallet.

Anyway, my internet marketing consultant suggested that I write one blog post per week. I countered with one per month citing my full-time job as the excuse for not having time for more. Eventually, we settled on two per month and that really is a reasonable expectation.

As it is, January came and was more than three weeks old with no blog posts by yours truly. My marketing guy noticed the deficiency and in an entirely professional manner, meant only as a well meaning suggestion, sent me an email with ideas for a blog post. He said January is an awareness month and that I should consider this list as possible topics.

 

Weight Loss Awareness Month [1]

National Codependency Awareness Month [2]

National Mentoring Month (United States)

Stalking Awareness Month (United States)[3]

Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (United States)[4]

Healthy Weight Week (United States)[5]

 

Okay. I get the main idea of an awareness month designation is to bring difficult issues that may go unnoticed into the public eye. But . . . for those of you who have never met me, I’m about 5-7 and 235 lbs. And in case you haven’t already noticed, January, the month after all the gluttonous holidays are over—begins and ends with weight loss.

Bahhhhh – Humbug!

I know that treadmill is under this pile of clothes somewhere.

 

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Alley Cats to a T-Bone

In my last couple of posts, I tried to illustrate why it’s so hard for an author to make a living by writing. Hopefully, I succeeded in that endeavor so that this post will be well received. The truth is, as authors, we’re just way too close to our work to effectively sell it. That’s why we have a hard time doing things like writing blurbs and synopses.

Quite frankly, I’m probably like 99.9% of all other authors who can’t figure out why it’s so hard to get the word out. Hell, all you have to do to find a dozen alley cats is throw a day old T-Bone out the window an viola, cats. I may not know much, but I’m pretty sure my fictional musings are better than a leftover T-Bone.

At least one can hope.

Anyway, when it comes to marketing I was stumped once again with the same old question. What else can a writer do to get the word out? So, I enlisted the help of Miranda. For those who don’t know, she’s my girlfriend, my brown-eyed girl, capable of seeing past my obstacle of close proximity (reference my last two posts).

When I asked her what she thought I should do, she responded like someone tasked with pointing out an elephant in the room. She said, “Why don’t you write an interactive post. People like getting involved and this way you can enlist the help of others too.” The not just me implication sunk in later.

Needless to say, my proximity disability immediately kicked in and it took her another half hour to explain why this was a good idea. I’m still skeptical but here it goes. A big part of marketing is getting the word out, and to that end, I put forward this challenge:

To all my followers (Blog, FB, Twitter),

While you are reconnecting with family and friends as the holidays approach, take a moment to mention this new novelist you came across. His name is L. Davyd Pollack and he has some interesting things to say. Check out his website and blog. He’s also on FB and Twitter.

Notice that I didn’t say anything about buying a book. The challenge here is to get the word out to at least ten new followers in all fifty states (not 57, I’m not greedy). That’s it, ten new followers in each of these United States. And for the new followers, make sure to touch base with a post to let me know your home state.

Thank you all for your help and hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season.

BTW, and this is not part of the challenge, but if any of my followers are looking for a gift that their special someone doesn’t already have, try one of my books  . . . Just saying.

Happy Holidays to all,

Davyd

 

Books Be That . . . My Child

Let’s see.

Where do I start?

I wish this subject were something

near and dear to my heart.

 All rhyming aside, it really would make my life as an author a whole lot more convenient. But then, I wouldn’t be a writer, I’d be a marketing manager or more specifically, a book marketing manager working on ways to market my books. That’s what I want to talk about today, book marketing. And yes, it’s an absurd subject for anyone who considers themselves a real novelist. Here’s why.

 I’m going to assume that any adult reading this will be able to empathize with the following scenario regardless of their parental status. And to broaden the range, if you aren’t a parent but do consider your pet(s) as part of the family, that will do nicely. OK, back to being an author who is expected to be able to make a living from selling his or her books.

 Selling your own book should be an almost impossible task, and if it isn’t, I personally think there is something seriously wrong with you. Picture yourself standing behind a table with portraits of your children, and /or pets displayed proudly. Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. It’s a big room (as in book fair), and there are a hundred other people doing the exact same thing.

 

Suddenly, a stranger who you’ve never seen before and probably will never see again, walks up to your table, picks up the picture of your first-born son and says, “How much for this one?”

You smile with glee and pride, “$14.95.”

Remember, you are not selling portraits; you are selling your heart and soul. As far as you’re concerned, it’s a steal at twice the price. But your customer says, “Oh, I didn’t realize he was that expensive. How much for that one?” The customer points to the picture of a much smaller child, your first-born daughter.

“$8.95.”

The customer doesn’t even touch your daughter’s picture. Instead, she starts to back away.

 You think fast and before you have a chance to rationalize the consequences, you shout, “I’m running a special for today only. Both children for $19.95, while they last.”

 A second smile appears, but this one is on the face of your customer. She isn’t smiling because she just bought two brand new and beautiful children: children, both of whom represent the best of your being. No. She’s smiling because she just bought them for a discount.

Davyd

 

Bad Blog Etiquette, I’m Sorry

I know. I started this blog last month and banged out a handful of posts then . . . nothing.

I’ve been a bad boy and I apologize. But just because I’ve been bad doesn’t mean that I’ve been lazy. Actually, I’ve been very busy with a new aspect of publishing and overwhelmed is probably a better term, not lazy. 

At first, I thought it would only take one or two days to finish and I’d get a good post or two out of it. I was wrong. It took over a month and I’m still not done, which means I now have a series of posts to do.

So yeah, I’m back, but before I get into my first posting series, I think I’m going to explore a fun idea that just came to me. I’ll work on it this morning and maybe a little in the afternoon if needed.

Here’s a hint: World Series seventh game.

Keep an eye out.

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The Day After Yesterday

Today is the day after yesterday, which turned out to be a very significant day for me. Why? Because three very important things happened to me. One has nothing to do with writing and so I’ll leave it for another time. The other two . . . we can talk about.

It’s been almost a month since I published “Positives & Negatives, Tricycles & Pancakes” and early signs are looking—I don’t want to jinx it. However marketing, which is something writers have to do, not want to do, isn’t easy and it takes a lot of work. As part of my marketing plan, I’ve become active in social media. I know. In social media marketing you never admit that you’re doing it, marketing that is, it’s a cardinal sin. But the truth be told, for a one-man show like me, marketing is a part of my life and if I didn’t talk about it, I wouldn’t be honest. I’m not perfect, but I try to be honest. At least my social media marketing isn’t as gratuitous as say, Doubleday or Penguin. They and others like them all have active Facebook/Twitter campaigns. But honestly, who among us really thinks they care a hill of beans about what our children brought home from school today? Unless of course, it was one of their books.

This blog, to a much smaller extent than other social media, is still a part of my overall introduction to the world and therefore, helps with marketing. But in the scheme of things, it differs from Facebook and Twitter in some important ways because here, it’s all about me. I say what I want, for as long as I want, and it’s up to you whether or not someone reads it. Just like book sales. If I write a book and publish it, you, the reading public are the ones who decide if anyone will actually buy it. No one is holding a gun to your head.

As a writer/publisher (I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this blog then you are one of the tribe or thinking about it), you know people who have read your work, or better yet, purchased and read your work. Of these, you’ve probably asked them at one time or another, what they thought. Maybe they liked it, maybe not, and maybe they had some constructive criticism; we’ll stay away from the jealous destructive criticism. You ask, they tell, and some of it is helpful and a lot of it is not. But there’s a fundamental problem with the entire process. The people critiquing your work know you and their underlying agenda is usually not to hurt your feelings, so they lie. No, that’s too harsh—they soften the truth.

That’s why social media marketing has some problems. Most of the people you contact in the beginning and for a long time after, know you in some way. If I put on my publisher’s hat and start to think like a businessman, then I have to ask an important question. Sure, you can sell a copy of your book to your coworker’s soon to be ex-boyfriend, but can you sell a book to Jane Doe living in Phoenix, AZ who doesn’t know you, your coworker, or her soon to be ex-boyfriend? The answer is. Who knows? Maybe.

I’m new at publishing and I’m new at blogging, though to me it seems entirely plausible that if you can get people to take time out of their busy day to read a post on your blog, you probably can get them to consider buying a book. But if you can motivate someone to not only read your blog, but afterward, leave you a positive comment, you might actually be on your way to finding something better than a sale—you might have a fan.

With that in mind, my blog has only been up for a short time but I was beginning to get concerned about the lack of comments. I had plenty of likes and my follower list was growing thanks to all of you, but comments, there weren’t any.

Yesterday, I finished what I was writing early because I got an earlier than normal start. With the extra time, I decided to work on my blog and when I signed in, lo and behold, there they were, my first comments. And to top it off, all three were positive. Thank you all very much. Yes, I know three comments aren’t thirty-three and hell, I may not get anymore. But the way I see it, it’s a start, and a sorely needed pat on the back. It’s lonely out here . . . all by my lonesome.

Needless to say, for anyone who might want to put in his or her two cents, don’t be shy. I’m not. I tell you what I think; it’s only fair that I hear what you think. Good or bad. By the way, you may have noticed that we only talked about one of the two writing related things that happened to me yesterday. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the other, negative comments.

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Indie-Author vs. Vanity Publishing

I’m not a historian and I don’t feel like doing detailed research to back this up, but I think we can all agree that the publishing industry is evolving. It used to be that as a fledgling writer, if you couldn’t get an agent, you couldn’t get a publisher. For decades (maybe even a century), that was how writers got their start. First, they had to be good enough to convince an agent to take them on, and then they had to be good enough for the agent to sell to a publishing house. Of course, if that didn’t happen, it was never the agents fault—poor writer.

If publishers needed a filter, then agents were the first sieve, after that, their internal review committee was the cheesecloth in the colander. If you made it through that straining challenge, you were rewarded with a contract that most likely had no advance, a ten to fifteen percent commission rate, and out of that, you had to give fifteen percent to your agent. And lest you thought you might out smart that agent by renegotiating the fee—guess again. Your check from the publisher didn’t come to you. In fact, it wasn’t even made out to you, it was usually a joint check made out to you and your agent, or just made out to your agent. They took their cut before you saw dollar one.

I think it was sometime in the mid-nineties, computers were commonplace and word processors made everybody an editor (yeah right). Anyway, mom and pop publishing houses were springing up faster than Dell could ship PC’s and printers. Soon, there were thousands of publishing options available to the would-be writer, and as time went on, demand and sophistication increased too. The big publishers had a real problem because while product quality was going up, competition was keeping prices affordable. How affordable? I wonder if anyone has ever surveyed people who say they’ve written a book, and asked them if they still have a garage full of unsold copies. That’s how affordable.

Sure, anybody who wanted to write a book and publish it, could, at their expense, but then what? Yep, the big New York publishers had a problem: it was called change. But they also had a huge safety line—distribution. Maybe it was then that the term vanity publisher was coined and the PR campaign was so expertly employed, that the term took on a negative connotation that still resonates today. It implies that you aren’t good enough for legitimate publishers, so you paid someone to put your words in a book.

In many cases, this was probably true but not all, yet none, at least none that I know of ever broke through. The sad thing is, we as readers are the ones who pay the price; we will never get the chance to read those garage classics, those backyard bestsellers that may have been. Why? Because there were a lack of distribution channels fostered by a negative image that shut the independent author out of the industry.

It was looking pretty bleak until the Literary Gods took pity and sprung forth from the internet, the eBook. Hallelujah. Thank you Amazon. The distribution problem evaporated, but wait, the stigma of being self-published did not.

Well, it took some time but the independent author, the one who never majored in English Literature or went to journalism school, finally has a means to distribute. Sure, there is plenty of vanity publishing going on but that gets weeded out fast, as it should, by the free market. But for those of us who take our craft seriously and put in the time, effort, and money to perfect our work, the independent author has a place to turn, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Conventional publishers have the same problem they did before, and the PR campaigns are in gear. But the truth is, good writing is good writing, no matter where it’s published, and the truth is out.

I’ve never thought of myself as a Vanity Writer and I’ve never contracted with a Vanity Publisher. Today, my novel is published and I’m the writer/publisher. And you know what—I like it.

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