Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oh No, She's Back

My apologies for the long absence from updating. I just did something that I don't do very often. I went on vacation.
Last Saturday, my husband and I boarded a Virgin America flight to San Francisco. What happened next was pure magic. Not once did I worry about work, the books, or anything else that would in any way be stressful. And it was amazing. We ate like we weren't worried about calories and in fact, we weren't! Considering that I brought my trusty Fitbit with me, I was able to keep track of the many miles of steep hills we walked for the sheer joy of it. In one day, we managed to hit 15 miles, rendering the banana and Nutella crêpes that we had for breakfast null and void.
I promise, I'm not just writing this to gloat about my vacation. No, I'm posting this to tell you that taking vacation is great and you really should take one too. A real vacation that is, where regardless of where you go or what you do, you enjoy it. Don't think about work, don't telecommute into the office from the beach, don't worry about the state of your inbox. Just be. Trust me, it adds years to your life.
But now that I'm back, it's go time! Time to get seriously wrapped up in writing the end of the series, time to set up new promotions for the existing books (cough free book this weekend cough), and time to get serious about the next book on my list, which I'll be talking about soon enough. And of course, more content here about whatever strikes my fancy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Geometry and Teen Romance

I'm finding an annoying trend in young adult fiction:
A book introduces us to the young female protagonist. She meets a dreamy dude and you are led to believe that the universe aligned in such a way that they were made for each other.
Then in the second book, the young female protagonist meets some other dude. Maybe he's a badboy, maybe he's the quiet introvert, maybe he's just a normal dude (this never happens). Girl gets squishy feelings and suddenly she's torn between two hunky love machines (bonus points if she describes herself as plain).
It would be easy to point the finger at Twilight, but this trend is older than Jane Austen. What's up with that? Is it too much to think that a young female protagonist can be happy with her contrived soulmate and blissfully ignore every other guy who rips his shirt off in her presence? Am I missing something?
Tell me reader, if you're out there, does this appeal to you? Am I just a prude? I admit, I've been involved in exactly zero love triangles in my life, but honestly, I can't say that I feel as though I've missed out on anything.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Getting By With A Little Help From Strangers

A few years ago, I tried an experiment. I had written a blog to record my travels in Europe. At the time, I didn't intend to take it any further than that. I just figured it was an easy way to share my pictures and experiences with family and friends because I didn't have a Facebook or Myspace or whatever people were doing back then. But the funny thing was, no one actually ever read it. At least, no one who I had intended to share with bothered to look at it, or if they did, they never told me.
When I finished recounting our trip, I started posting pictures of our pets. After that I wrote whatever came to mind, which admittedly, wasn't very interesting. But then one day someone posted a comment AND began following my blog. I wasn't sure what made this one person think I was interesting, but it was enough to make me hatch a plan.
I started a second blog. This one was called, Your Blog Is Awesome, and the intention was to find other folks who had interesting things to say, but lacked a large audience to say them to, and feature them for others to find. I started out using the "Next Blog" button that used to appear at the top of the screen and then came up with an even better plan. I went to popular blogs (I can't remember all of them but I think Cake Wrecks was a top player in this scheme) and clicked the links on commenters that I thought had good things to say. If they had a blog, I asked if I could feature them. From there they suggested other blogs, and my pay-it-forward train got running. 
For a while, I noticed that my featured bloggers started following each other, which was great, but we weren't making the impact that I had wanted. Mainly, because I suck at promoting, managing, and scheming. So I abandoned ship, grateful at least that I had found a few good blogs to follow. Of course, then I fell off the internet for a year while I tried to become a writer. Some of the blogs I followed also slipped into obscurity, though others remained. 
I've only been able to reconnect with oneDiary of Mindless Minion Number 2,703, so in the spirit of this post , and because it is still a really good blog, I am sharing it with you. 
Now, fast forward to the present day, where I am trying to generate buzz about my own books, I still suck at marketing, and I still have a need to push the little guy into the spotlight because it seems no one else is. As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I now have a Facebook, along with eighty gajillion other forms of social media that I am supposed to be using to promote myself. 

This is the part of the post where I rant...

Do you know what I see on Facebook every single day? Shameless 'like' farming, that's what. Click like if you think this soldier deserves our respect, click like if you think cancer sucks, click like to give a hug to this puppy, and the oh so subtle: click like for no reason at all. People click 'like' because no one wants to be that jerk who says, "You know what, that kid deserved cancer!" 
You know what? Those likes don't matter. That soldier has no idea his picture is being tossed around the internet. Those gruesome pictures of people with cancer or other illnesses and injuries are exploitative and several of the people in them have spoken out against the use of them to no avail. Do you know what is happening? Your likes are being farmed. The owner of that page is then selling the page to other people who then advertise to you. 

This is the part where I sound like Ira Glass during an NPR pledge drive...

Most of you will ignore this.
(I learned that line from Facebook!)
There are people on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other social media who do need your likes. Local businesses, artists, writers, musicians, anyone who has a genuine product to sell or a statement to make, those people need your likes. But I know what you're thinking! It's easy to 'like' a picture of a kitten. It requires no investment beyond hitting a button. A local business or artist is going to want me to buy something! 
In a perfect world, yes. But that isn't how viral marketing works. For example, I 'like' a local cupcake business. Yes, I've bought their cupcakes, but as a diabetic, I don't buy them often. But I do click 'like' on their posts because then my friends will see it, and they might not have known that we have an independently owned cupcake business, and then they might buy a cupcake, or click 'like' so that their friends see it and so on. 

I still want to make an impact for others just as much as myself, so below is a little homework assignment. You can choose one, or do them all:

Subscribe to a blog that doesn't have many followers. Read it, enjoy it, tell others about it, and contribute a comment, even if its just, "hey this is neat!"

Like an independent a local business, preferably one with a low number of likes. Tell others about it. For extra credit, buy something they are offering, write a review if you have the option.

Like an independent artist who has something to give the world but no means to show the world. Now in this category, I know a little more about how to help an author, but there should be something similar for musicians and artists. At least once a month, I give away one of my books for free. Tons of independent authors do this because the idea is to get a product into the hands of people who are kind enough to review. Find one that looks interesting, but has no reviews. Read it, then review it. Artists probably don't have items to give away, but they do have Etsy pages and you can like those as well. Musicians have services where you can listen to their music and leave a review. Do this. 

I already know this post comes off as harsh, and I don't want the takeaway to be that I'm an elitist jerkface who wants to watch the corporate world burn. If that were the case I would be pretty hypocritical seeing as I'm posting on a site that is being hosted for free by Google. Just understand that the little guy is the little guy because he doesn't have the time or money to invest in a full blown marketing campaign. Sometimes a social media account that gets updated once a week is all we have time for. 
Since inevitably, there are only so many things I can say about robots, and I'll be busy writing my own book, I plan on using this space to do exactly what I suggested above. Obviously, since I read more than anything, I'll feature books that I fell in love with, but I'd like diversity, so if you know an artist who you think could benefit from the press, please feel free to put them in touch with me. Even if no one reads this, they would at least be exposed to one more person: me.