Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marketing in the Middle of Nowhere

This post will also be available on the Indies Unlimited site at a future date.

Admittedly, I live in the middle of nowhere. It’s 18 miles to the nearest town; and the county, (which boasts a population of 13,000) has only ONE traffic light, and it’s in the center of town. My closest neighbors are 200 yards away. The nearest “city” of 30,000 people is a 40 minute drive. If we need to go to the “Big City,” that’s an hour and forty minute drive. Yet, I’m an author and I sell books.
No, it’s not easy either. I also juggle a 100 acre farm, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 3 horses; so my time is divided up amongst everything. As difficult as it is, I find the time to write, edit, blog, and promote my books. Sometimes I’m up late, other times, I’m up early. To make some sort of success, you have to make sacrifices. Am I successful? I would say for only being published just over 2 years, mildly.
For most authors, the word “market” is akin to a 4 letter word. We all hate it—me included. But we’re not part of a Big 6 publishing juggernaut that will tell the whole world about our books. No, it’s most of the time just us. So how can you market without spending a fortune? If the internet isn’t your friend, it darn well better be! Take advantage of every opportunity to put your face and your books out there. There are many platforms to use such as Goodreads, Google +, Librarything, and many more. Here’s my most-used list of FREE ways to advertise:
Facebook—my friend! I wasn’t keen on getting a profile, but my best friend pestered me. So, I broke down and got one. Actually, it’s been tons of fun. I have 3 pages: 1 personal page, 1 author page, and 1 page just for my military thrillers. I can chat with friends, leave postings on specialty pages, (like romance readers, or sci-fi) and also put up announcements of when I will be releasing a new book. I can’t tell you HOW many books I’ve sold because of Facebook. Hurrah!
Twitter—my next best friend. OK, less fun to use because of text limitations, but AWESOME for getting news out about a new release, or using for short PR blasts to get attention. You can even post pictures now. And I always stick a link to where my book(s) can be bought.
Author pages—Amazon, Smashwords, and any other eBook sites you can utilize. This is your landing pad for sending folks. If you don’t want to just post a link to one book, use this and let them discover all your books. These are great because it gives you a professional look.
Blogs—Eh, I wasn’t too keen on this one either. But, I finally did it. I don’t use my blog for an instrument of sales; rather I blog on things like writing, farming, and stuff that’s not always related to books. Once in a while, I’ll put up a new book, but I don’t like to hit sales hard there. I think a blog should be for information or enjoyment for the most part.
So there you have it, my free ways of marketing a book from the middle of nowhere. One day I suppose I’ll have to get a website, but as some of my friends know, HTML hates me! It may take 5-8 years to make enough from my books to supplement my retirement. Until then, I do the best I can with what hours I have in the day. The most important part is being able to figure out which internet sites will do the best for you. Don’t be afraid to dive in and check a bunch of them out. It may be the one lucky break you need.

Here’s my links:

Twitter: sturgeon3736

Here’s some cool places to check out:

Well, that's all I got for now. I need to get back to Space Available and get Dar into some more trouble. Poor Dar...

Until next time my creatively obsessed friends,


Monday, January 9, 2012

Hootie Owls and the Writer's Voice

One amazing thing about living in the country is the solitude. I was walking to the barn this morning and it was still fairly dark. As I made my way up the road, I heard something coming from the direction of our hunting cabin far back on the property. It sounded strange. So I stopped and got the dog to stand still as well (very difficult for an ADHD puppy). Listening more, I realized it wasn't just one owl, it was two. I could hear: hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot; and then a reply by another one: hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot. What stuck me funny was they were saying the exact same thing over and over. What kind of communication says only one thing? Sure, they have a few different calls and screeches, but their language is pretty simple.

Then there are the dolphins and song birds, both with large vocabularies. Besides man, these are the most articulate in their "speech." Man, however, assigns great meaning to our words. They have started wars, ended wars, made people laugh, cry, swell with patriotism, and provoke deep thought. The human language is both beautiful and complex. And our language varies by where you live in the world--even within the same country. Someone who was born and raised in Kentucky will not sound like someone who has lived in New York city all their life; the culture and influence of our surroundings dictate who we are.

OK, to my point--as writers, who are we? Simple, we are products of our own unique upbringings. Some of have more school than others, some have broader ranges of travel and exploration that make them up. Each writer who picks up a pen or sits down at a keyboard has a different view of life. And we should bring that voice to our work--sometimes it needs to be done softly; other times you can shout it out from the top of your lungs. 

Depending on your genre (or genres) you can impart a lot of yourself into your characters or setting. There's nothing wrong with it, just make sure you're not reliving a whole episode of your life on the pages of a book (unless it's a memoir). It's fine for your characters to have a blend of you and them--don't run their lives. Make sure you give them plenty of "breathing room" to develop their own story. Relax, you might be surprised that they write the book for you. There are a few staunch critics out there that say something to the fact: "your characters are just extensions of your imagination- you fully control them, they are not alive."

I disagree with that, and I know a few of you will too. Have you ever been asleep, dreaming of your character, and they say something or do something that brings you out of a dead sleep? Sure it may be your subconscious speaking, but it's a different side of you. It's the side that you "gave" to your characters to live in. And if they are telling you something- listen!

Once you have those wonderful thoughts and words; you need to get them down on something. Here's where your voice comes into play. You are the master of your thoughts and words. It's your job to weave a story that will have readers enthralled from the first page. It's your voice (though your fingers) that will make or break the story. Your grammar, word usage, and diction are unique to you. Even punctuation is rather unique (right or wrong) to each person. What you say on the written page is a direct reflection of you.

So just what makes a writer successful at their game? What is it about the way they tell a story versus another author that makes them best sellers? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Society is made up of plain folks to uber smart ones. Most have a good intelligence, but they are lazy--and I will include myself in this group. Why? Because I hate to read anything that sends me packing for a dictionary every fifth word. Some folks love that, others will put a book down because it's too much work (yeah, I'm one of them). I think the key--and this is just my personal observation, is to keep it simple. Tell a great story, use words you're comfortable with, and keep it easy to read for anyone. 

Perhaps in retrospect, the hootie owls had it right. They were keeping it simple; expressing their wants or needs in simple terms--maybe that's a good thing. Live for the moment, write for the moment, and hope you're leaving a legacy that will be remembered. 

Until next time my creatively obsessed friends,

Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Recently I was reading a thread in one of the Facebook author groups I belong to. I love those groups, folks are wonderful! But there was another posting from a blog that made me wonder about some of our Indie authors. The blog post was a polite rant that namelessly exposed some Indie authors as being rude to others. It said they were rude to reviewers, blog owners, other authors, and the like. 

This surprisingly didn't shock me. I, despite my polite nature, was the victim of an Indie author's nasty dislike of me. All I had done was introduce myself on a FB page, and state that I was new to the genre. Wow, he opened up on me like an M-2 .50 cal machine gun! Not cool! And the guy didn't even know me. Hmm, wonder what he's like on a first date?

Was I mad? Very. Did I lash back at him? In a way, yes. But I chose polite words over hateful ones, and brought my 20+ years of writing to the table and some of the awards I'd won. Personally, I'm not one to toot my own horn, but sometimes in this game you have to- just to shut people up. In the end, it worked, and he backed down and apologized for being so rash. Well, why did you have to be so rash in the first place? The world is full of assholes- we all have one- but there's really no need to truly act like one.

Yes, we are all Indie authors, each fighting for that little piece of the pot we call our royalties. Do we compete against each other? Sometimes. But I've discovered it's far better to ally yourself with other authors than to alienate yourself and think they are out to steal your sales. The old adage of getting more with sugar than vinegar is very true. So why does this work?

1. An Indie author is basically a nobody until somebody recognizes you. Just accept that! God may have blessed us with certain talents, but that doesn't mean you're anything important. There are millions of writers, deal with it. Our mission is to rise above the others, to be the cream on top of the milk. The last time I checked, assholes only rise to the top when a body is floating face down in a pool.
2. To get recognized, you need to meet people. No living in a cave and beating on your chest hoping that readers will flock to your new work. Sorry, you gotta get out there in one way or another. Face-time and social networking are a must. I live in the middle of nowhere and still manage it.
3. Meeting people requires certain "social graces." Would you trash talk to your mother or father? Oh, if you did, I'm sure they'd smack you silly for it. Be polite to folks!
4. Get off your high horse. OK, I may ride a large horse, but he has nothing to do with my writing- he just eats my profits! Humility is a beautiful thing, don't be afraid to take a nice long bath in it. And it does wonder for your skin!
5. Embrace everyone as a potential sale. Even other authors can be your customers- and they are VERY valuable customers at that! If they like your work, they might just tell their fans- voila!
6. Don't burn ANY bridge. You never know when you may need some help and if you've pissed someone off, they will surely leave you hanging in the breeze.
7. Deal with the fact this is hard work. We all want our stories to be perfect and our reviews to be as well. Uh, got news for you- all of that requires WORK! You can't just sit back, bang out a story, and think it will be a bestseller. No, you need editing, proofing, formatting, and a good cover to make a book work. Unless you intend on paying for all this (and most of us Indies can't) then you will need to enlist friends, family members, and fellow authors to help you. Yeah, putting out a book sometimes requires an army.
8. Deal with feedback. Don't think your writing is perfect. Give it to your peers and let them decide. If your peers say something sucks, well, don't pout about it- fix it! 99% of the time, they will be right. And their input could be what it takes to make your book a bestseller.
9. Love your fans- all of them, even the geeky, creepy ones. You never know if one of them holds the magic key to sending your career over the moon. Treat them well, give them goodies, and keep them happy- they will buy your books, tell their friends, and hopefully write you good reviews.
10. Don't let a bad review ruin your world. We all get them- somewhere there's a cranky reader that no matter what they read, they will say it sucks. Personally, I think they should just quit reading! But if you get a 1 or 2 star review, read it. Then decide if there's something worthwhile in that review to help you- did the reviewer give specific points that they did not like? If so, great, food for thought. If they just said the book sucks, ignore the review- they weren't polite enough to say their real mind. Someone needs to give them a glass of happy juice.
11. Lastly, don't be a jerk to blog owners. You don't know if that guest post you just turned down might have been read by someone really important who would look up your work, and think you're the greatest author in the world. This kind of goes back to not burning your bridges. ANY opportunity you get for a free promotion- GRACIOUSLY take it! It may require some work on your part, but the outcome could be 10x greater than the effort you expended.

As Indie authors, we need to look at everyone as a food source. No, I'm not talking Zombie apocalypse and eating their brains, I'm talking about everyone in the world is a potential customer, a potential source of PR. Be polite and do everything you can to keep them happy- or they may hunt you down and eat your brains! How did I get on the subject of Zombies?!

Just don't bite the hand that feeds you. 

Until next time my creatively obsessed friends,


  I wuv my mummy!
The four-legged money pit.