Tag Archives: Twitter

Promoting Tips for Indie Writers…

The problem with e-books is that they are way too virtual. You can’t really carry them around with you and display them on tables and wave them in potential readers faces without going to the clunky bother of hauling out your e-reader and pulling the e-book out for them to see.

So a few weeks ago I ordered business cards from Vistaprint.

business card

 

 

 

 

Now I know that is a pretty basic design. In fact, at my last book signing a young graphic designer tried to pitch me with his own design. I told him that I was operating on a Kool-Aid stand budget. I told him that I was one of the last creative do-it-yourself pioneers.

I told him that I was cheap.

He was impressed by my use of the QR – that funky little square that looks a little like that television you bought from the dude in the leather jacket on the street corner outside the bowling alley, last Thursday night. If you scan that QR it will take you directly to the Kobo page that lists all of my Kobo releases.

To see what I mean just try clicking that picture of the business card for an instant demonstration.

Now – in hindsight I really should have paid the extra few dollars for a double-sided business card – and then I could have put a QR for my Kindle releases as well.

Ah well. Hindsight is really only good for looking out of that hole in the seat of your favorite blue jeans.

Now I know that some of you folks who regularly follow my blog will point out that I already mentioned this business card in an earlier blog entry – but some things bear repeating – like those cucumbers in last night’s Greek salad.

Ah, cucumbers – the gift that keeps on giving.

Another tool that indie writers should never forget is Twitter.

Yes, even old farts like me can Twitter.

Now – a lot of folks will tell you that you CAN’T sell books on Twitter.

And they’re right. Let’s face it – you can’t sell books ANYWHERE. The darned things just sit there and refuse to be bought. But what you can do on Twitter is to entertain folks, give them a giggle or two, enlighten them just a little and maybe along the way draw just a little bit of attention to your e-books.

That’s where books sell, after all.

Books sell in the imagination. You’ve got to get your potential readers thinking about your books. Plant the notion in their brain – “Hmm, I like reading Steve Vernon’s blog entries and I even like reading his Tweets – might be I might ACTUALLY enjoy reading one of his books.”

If you scatter enough of those seeds before you know it they’ll start sprouting up like so many cucumbers in the dirt.

Seriously – as all of you gardeners know – NOTHING grows faster than cucumbers – unless you’re talking radishes and I don’t think I’ve met anyone in the world who eats radishes, except for my granddad who loved those funky little red burp-factories.

Remember – don’t misspell in your tweets and blog entries. There is NOTHING that says “this dude can’t write” than misspelling and/or misusing a necessary bit of the English language.

And do not fall back on “text-speak”.

I do NOT want to see any of you folks tweeting out something like

“Seriously U ought 2 BI MY BOOKS, DUDES!”

Seriously.

Now - if you click THIS cartoon it will take you to an earlier blog entry I wrote - NINE RULES FOR EFFECTIVE TWEETING - IN TWEETS!

Now – if you click THIS cartoon it will take you to an earlier blog entry I wrote – NINE RULES FOR EFFECTIVE TWEETING – IN TWEETS!

(Note – I borrowed the cartoon from a blog entry written by UK author/blogger Terry Tyler. You might want to check out what she has to say about the Tweeting of writers in her blog.)

Remember – at the end of the day an indie writer must learn how to channel the marketing-moxie and shameless carnival-huckster-chutzpah of William Shatner.

Now get out there and plant those cucumber seeds!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

Should Writers Pay For Their Reviews?

All right.

So I lied in my last post. I do have something to blog about. And, as per usual, it resulted from an encounter with somebody else’s blog site.

Today I am replying to an article over at Joel Friedlander’s THE BOOK DESIGNER on whether or not writers should pay for their book reviews.

Here’s my reply.

 

$$$$$

 

I was a professional book reviewer for about two years – selling my reviews to several magazines and websites. I was paid from ten to twenty dollars per review – BY THE PUBLISHER.

I did it for pocket money.

I did it for the access to free books.

The author NEVER had to pay anybody beyond being willing to supply an arc – which was often supplied by their own publisher.

That’s the way it needs to be done. That’s the way it works.

I give up the business – partly because I was getting asked to read more and more books that I just plain didn’t want to read in the first place.

Life was too damn short to read bad books for money.

As far as writers buying reviews – it strikes me as a bad practice. Number one – it destroys any form of credibility. If the practice spreads – which it probably might – the average book review is going to be about as believable as a YOU-CAN-EARN-BIG-MONEY-JUST-BY-SITTING-AT-HOME-ON-YOUR-BUTT classified ad.

Besides all that – most of those paid-for five-star reviews are duller than nine day old toe jam. I mean, have you read some of them?

“I liked this book. It holds up my coffee table real well.” – FIVE STARS

“I loved this book. In fact, I traded my wife for it. Wish I hadn’t gone and lost that book in divorce court.” – FIVE STARS

“Boox r kul. Du U reed boox? I redd this buk and it wuz kul.” – FIVE STARS

So – should writers buy reviews?

They’d be further off investing their loose change in the nickle slots at their local bowling alley.

 

$$$$$

 

Let’s face it friends and neighbors. As a writer I am trying to make money by entertaining folks – not make some fly-by-night shady back alley book reviewer a little richer.

If you’d like to read the whole article check it out here.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/08/should-authors-pay-for-book-reviews/

 

And, let me tell you – if you want to learn something about writing and/or self-publishing your work you really need to be following that site.

 

Lastly I should mention that I point readers to websites like this all of the time over at Twitter. So if you’re looking to find out more about this art you really ought to follow me at Twitter

@StephenVernon

 

 

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Drive-by Blogging…

All right – so some mornings I do not have the time to sit and write a full-blown blog.

So today I am going to treat you folks to a drive-by blogging.

Here goes…

 

DRIVE-BY BLOGGING #1

A couple of days ago I blogged about the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY phenomenon and how that relates to my bird-feeding habits.          https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/the-fifty-shades-of-grey-phenomenon/

Well, I have since been sent a couple of different links that relate to this phenomenon. Folks who are interested might want to check it out.

First off you can read what THE ATLANTIC has to say about the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY phenomenon. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/08/how-fifty-shades-of-grey-dominated-publishing/261653/

Then, you might want to swing over and follow FIFTY SHEDS OF GREY on Twitter at

@50ShedsofGrey

– which offers you a more Red Greenish approach to erotica.

 

***

Writers looking for a bit more exposure might want to check out this link.

http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/the-rg2es-new-featured-author-program-offers-fabulous-opportunities-for-indie-epublished-authors-to-reach-readers-and-its-free?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheWritersGuideToE-publishing+%28The+Writer%27s+Guide+to+E-Publishing+Feed%29

 

***

Lastly, you might want to check out this bluegrass digging songbird. I give it a twelve on the one out of ten scale of cutivitiy…

http://www.dogwork.com/blugrs9/#.UDxVC6a98kd.facebook

 

There.

You’ve just drive-by blogged.

In the words of Cactus Jack – “Bang-bang!”

(or was it Chitty-Chitty that said that???)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

THE FIFTY SHADES OF GREY PHENOMENON

Just this morning I was reading a post on a message board forum. Somebody was wondering aloud – (can you do that on a message board forum?) – just what was the secret behind the HUGE success of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.

So I threw in my two bits – which started my mind to thinking and elaborating further.

I didn’t even have to move my lips while I was doing that – although I am mumbling now as I type this into my blog.

Here’s my two bits.

***********

I have been feeding the birds outside of my house for many years. I have a system. I put a few peanuts out on the sill of my dining room window. The blue jays come there. The crows – who also like the peanuts – are too big for the window sill – so this way the jays get to eat in peace.

(why is this dude talking about birds?)

Then, I put peanuts on the railing of the deck. That’s where the crows come to eat. I’ve always liked feeding crows. I consider them a kind of personal good luck totem. Their existence speaks to me of a wily kind of hanging-on existence – a worthwhile quality for an indie writer.

(Okay, so why is he talking about crows? Is this some kind of a flash-mob thing?)

Then I feed the smaller birds – the starlings and the grackles. I always save the heels and the last few slices of bread in a loaf for these birds – as well as the last few crackers and cookies that go stale at the bottom of every cookie and cracker box in the known universe.

(Okay, so now he’s back to talking about birds again. Has he gone crackers? Should someone call security?)

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs at this point in time. While I am scattering the pieces of bread the birds all line up on the wires that run above our house. They sit and they tweet and they twitter and more birds come to sit upon the wire. That’s the time that I like best – because each bird sits and sings in it’s own way. It is like God never taught the starlings any one particular song – so they just make it up as they go. I sometimes like to sing back to them – just humming to myself. It is my own kind of personal meditation and I probably ought to feel embarrassed about it – but every man is entitled to his own particular dam-fool practice.

(All right, that does it, you make a noise to distract this guy and I’m running for the door)

About two-thirds of the way through the scattering of the bread one bird works up the nerve to light down at my feet and grab him some bread crumbs. The other birds see that bird lighting and grabbing and they begin to land and do their own lighting and grabbing of the bread crumbs at my feet.

More birds come.

By the time I go back to my deck chair and sip my coffee the entire front lawn is awash with feathered twittering.

That’s what is happening with such fad books as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. One bird sitting and twittering draws another and another and before you know the whole damn lawn is filled with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY fans.

These people aren’t necessarily buying a book. They are buying acceptance. They are buying comfort. They are buying a whole herd of like-minded companionship. They are buying a conversation-starter. They are buying a piece of the status quo.

You give a listen to the next person you hear talking about FIFTY SHADES…

Odds are, they won’t talk about plot or character or story structure.

Odds are they will say something along the lines of “Everybody is reading this. EVERYBODY!”

We are all herd animals at the deep-down root of things. And we all are susceptible – to one degree or another – to this phenomenon.

Don’t believe me?

Just think back to your childhood when your Mom or Dad would see you picking up a cigarette or some-such bad habit and then you’d say something like – “But everybody is doing it. EVERYBODY!”

And then they’d say something like – “If everybody was jumping off a bridge would you do it too?”

And then you’d say “YEAH!”

Or if you didn’t say it, you’d most likely think it.

Yeah.

*********

So, am I saying that the popularity of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is a bad thing?

No.

Am I even remotely looking down my nose at FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?

No.

I am saying that the popularity can sometimes be a by-product of communal hype.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is a “bad” book.

It’s got a cover and it’s got words and most of those words even make a sentence.

I have read the first chapter and it did not make me want to grab it and read it. I didn’t read TWILIGHT and I didn’t read THE DAVINCI CODE either.

I did read THE HUNGER GAMES and enjoyed it. Even watched the movie, just last week – and that’ll be a blog for the near future. So I’m not saying that the hype-machine that is in motion around such phenomenon-releases are necessarily a sign of a poorly written story.

However, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was not a story to my liking. Doesn’t make it a bad book. Just one I don’t care to read.

I would however love to figure out how to generate that kind of book-buying hype that FIFTY SHADES OF GREY has demonstrated for something of my own – say like maybe SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME?


Let’s get those birds twittering about that!

Yeah.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

E-Books – Is it a genre thing?

A couple of weeks ago a gent named Ewan Morrison wrote an article in The Guardian entitled “Why Social Media Isn’t The Magic Bullet for Self-epublished Authors”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/30/tweet-about-cats-just-write

Basically – what he said was that I’m wasting my time writing this blog entry or posting on my Facebook or even tweeting on Twitter. I ought to just sit down and write and save all of that virtual-shmoozing for the pop icons.

I wasn’t offended. It never bothers me to hear from another viewpoint. Besides, in some ways he is absolutely right. I’ve always known that my next book is going to be sold by my last book which might even sell my book after the next – especially if it is a sequel!

(I may have just given myself an aneurysm with that last sentence – goddamn, did it parse???)

He is likewise right in saying that Twitter and Facebook will someday die. Sure they will. But by then they’ll have been replaced with Nosebook – in which you can virtually sniff your friend’s armpits. The whole world will go around like a pack of wild dogs, sniffing each other’s butts and books on Nosebook.

Look for it in the spring of 2017!

The really interesting part of the story is in the comments section. There are six pages of comments. There would most likely be more – but the comment section was closed off. It’s an old article and I suppose they want to save on bandwidth – but it also felt a little like someone sending in the brute squad to keep a lid on things.

Joe Konrath – e-book champion and writer of the enormously entertaining Jack Daniels series and many other e-books besides – stepped in to comment on how he basically agrees with a lot of what the author had to say but disagreed with the whole notion that e-books were a bubble-phenomenon that would go the way of eight-tracks and Beta digital.

A passing fad.

Now that is blatant bullshit. The e-book is definitely here to stay, in my opinion. They’re still selling calculators, they’re still selling television sets and they’re still selling cellular phones. Some gadgets don’t go away. E-books are one of them.

The thing that folks need to realize is that an e-book is just the same as a traditionally published trade paperback – just in a different format is all. So saying the e-book is the death of the traditionally published book is a little like saying that your kids will be the death of you!

Then Ewan Morrison went on to step over a line.

E-books – he said – are primarily for “genre” writers.

I read a little further, moving my lips while I read, and Ewan Morrison went on to explain that “real” “literary” writers will continue to eschew the e-book.

More bullshit.

When you get right down to it – your average “literary” author is no better or no worse than a “genre” author. The fact is both genre and literary authors have one factor in common.

They’re storytellers.

Oh sure, one of them uses a lot more literary technique and undoubtedly holds his pinky finger extended while he types – but that writer is still nothing more than a storyteller.

And a storyteller wants – more than anything on earth – a consenting audience.

That’s right. We want someone to read our stories or listen to stories.

So most “literary” authors are eventually going to realize that the e-book is nothing more than another avenue towards that most desirable of resources – READERS!!!

That’s right.

Literary authors might be fancy. They might indeed hold their pinky finger extended while they type – but they aren’t stupid!

E-books are here to stay.

Genre authors are welcome to the medium.

Literary authors are welcome to the medium.

There is room in this boat for all us!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

Nine Rules for Effective Tweeting – Written in Tweets

My wife is always telling me how she doesn’t get Twitter. So – in the interest enlightenment and education – and to fill up time when I REALLY should be writing – I’ve put together nine entirely nonessential guidelines for Tweeting.

1 –  If you want to learn how to tweet listen to the birds. They sing so sweetly – but it all boils down to worms-worms-CAT!!!-worms…

2 – Tweeting – or twittering – is best done at a regular random intervals – say like whenever you fart.

3 – The better you are at tweeting the worse you get. Don’t ask me why. It’s one of those Zen things.

4 – 140 characters isn’t much forget about punctuashn

5 – And spellin

6 – You don’t need to know anything to tweet. Even Lady Gaga can do it.

7 – Forget about italics, Twitter doesn’t allow for nuance…

8 – Tweeting is small talk for geeks.

9 – Tweeting effectively probably sells books – except when it doesn’t.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Consider the birds…

Most every morning I like to get out on my front deck and talk to my friends. They don’t say much back. Mostly they just sing at me.

I’m talking about birds, of course. Most likely the title of the blog would have tipped you off, I suspect – but being a writer there will always be a part of me that likes to pretend that you never saw that coming.

It’s that whole “fooled you, didn’t I” syndrome that old farts like me are all too often susceptible to.

I start with the blue jays. For them I just poke my nose out the side door and lay a handful of peanuts on the outside of the dining room window. Usually I am joined by my cat, Kismet, who likes to sit on the inside of the dining room window and thump her head against the glass trying to catch some of those birds – through the window glass. I used to feel bad about that. I used to worry that she was damaging her brain cells – but judging from the way that she nuzzles me every time I head for that door, I think she truly enjoys the experience.

Besides, cats don’t really have all that many brain cells. Most of her primary synapses deal with “Feed me”, “Pet me” and “Go away”.

After the blue jays are fed I take my basket of peanuts and stale bread and step out to the front deck.

Oh yes, I have a little basket that I carry under my arm. I look a little like a gone-to-seed bearded Snow White, that is if Snow White were crossed with a Yeti.

I lay a row of peanuts out for the crows along the deck railing. They really enjoy walking along that deck railing, trying to see how many peanuts they can poke into their beak before the drop one.

Then, I step out onto the front lawn and begin breaking up bread for the smaller birds. Sometimes they are already out there waiting for me. They sing to me. The tunes of the grackle and the starling are not particularly beautiful, but they are pleasingly unique. Basically, none of them know the tune and most of them are singing off-key and making up the words as they go.

Shoot, maybe grackles and starlings are really writers in disguise.

If they’re not out there they soon arrive by the twos and threes and before I finish scattering the bread I have an entire power-line full of feathered Steve-worshipers. Each of them singing in their own peculiar way – Steve is a god, Steve is a big hairy god.

Yes, I like that.

When I don’t think to feed them – when I am running late for work or it is too darned cold or I am feeling far too sorry for myself – they hang out there for a while and then they disappear.

They’ll depend upon me – but only up to a certain point. After that, their big hairy god’s big hairy feet begin to develop a peculiarly clay-ish aroma.

***********************

Readers are a little like birds that way. If you don’t feed them regularly they will forget you ever walked the earth. Not all of us are Harper Lee or even J.D. Salinger.

If you don’t get enough new stuff out there they will most likely find somebody else’s books to read.

The same goes for blogs or Twitters or websiting or Facebook updates or anything along the lines of social networking. Consistency is all-important. If you post with any sort of predictable frequency not only will your readership maintain itself – but it will grow.

Remember that Faberge Shampoo commercial? “And she told two friends and they told two friends and so on?”

Well, if you aren’t consistent in your updating – none of those friends will have anything to talk about.

So, that’s the lesson of the day.

Let’s keep those friends talking, shall we?

As for me, I’ve got some birds to feed.

****************************

But before I do that let me throw in a couple of random tangents.

Tangents are always cool.

They fill up empty space quite nicely.

For example, when your main character is about to go and kick the be-whumpkins out of a couple of random evil bozoes – it’s always helpful to have him thinking about how much be-whumpkin-kicking is like sledding down a hill.

I went to see the movie Tin-Tin: The Secret of The Unicorn. We watched it at Bayers Lake – because they’ve got the best movie treats in Halifax. We went to the 3D version, which was kind of cool.

I really enjoyed the experience. The motion-capture was brilliant. Watching this, I kept thinking to myself – I wish they’d make a Doc Savage movie with this technique. The sort of blending of cartoon and life would be perfect for a pulp hero like Doc Savage.

Don’t talk to me about Ron Ely. I try to pretend they never went there.

Jamie Bell was terrific as Tin-Tin but the real star of the show was Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. His facial manipulation is brilliant. The man is made out of Indian rubber.

I wonder how many people caught Cary Elwes as the pilot of the plane?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon