Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cutting Loose Your Babies

When are you done? When have you found the bottom of the error pit and are now just massaging words? When do you cut your baby loose? I think I'm looking for perfection and perfection doesn't exist. I've excised every typo so that I've gone through it twice now without MSWord or I finding one. No individual lines are unintelligible, at least I don't think they are. I've beat it with my self-help books and checklists, and fear flattening it to the point of dullsville, but yet I still wince at appropriate points (am I too much a weeny), get emotionally choked up at certain points (did I take estrogen by mistake), and can't find any loose ends at the end of the story (except those I manufactured for selected reasons). It has to be ready; it must be ready. But how do I know it's ready? Burping it doesn't seem to help. Ink just dribbles down on my shirt. Is there an acid test other than the obvious down the road, a rejection from an agent? I guess it's like a father after his son has left for college and turned the corner and driven out of sight: "I've done the best I can, and now I get to make his room my man-cave." I guess letting go does have some advantages.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I'm looking at all angles to ensure my books sell once they start getting out there later this year. Right now, I'm obsessing over book covers. As we know, we are never supposed to judge a book by its cover; however, we do. We also judge by titles and blurbs. This is especially true when we are stuck in an airport and we need something to read prior to our 13 hour flight to Bhutan. So I made covers for my seven books to get a feel for what friends and other strangers like, dislike, or otherwise wish to burn me at the stake for creating. So far in my test marketing: (1) the favorite cover is also the most disliked, and this is by a wide margin over the competition (controversy good-boring bad); (2) humor is subjective, the one I think is very funny is stuck at the bottom; (3) iconic content representations seem to work better than collages, collages are to busy and slow down the decision-making process. All my titles seem to past the smell test, and the fake (and someday hopefully real, one-liner blurbs) are universally helpful. Test marketing continues, but I have to reassess my humor. The critical cover question is: "Do Yetis fall in love?" The response: "What's a Yeti?" Do you know what a Yeti is? Do you think they fall in love? Inquiring minds and book marketing whores want to know.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rawalpindi, Pakistan Calling

It still amazes me how widespread the Internet is, and the level of connectivity with others in the world we can potentially share. Yesterday, I was viewed from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Now, I've been viewed from that part of the world before, particularly India, because I have writing friends there. However, Pakistan is another matter, as was my hit from Mongolia a few years ago. But then again, maybe it's not so strange. Osama did some web surfing, as did his followers, so why not some second-hand book store owner in Rawalpindi who's only looking to increase his stock? He may have even googled the title of the second book I plan to publish early this fall, A MATTER OF FAITH, and thought it might be a religious treatise on how to acquire 17, 70, or 72 virgins or figs or whatever the correct translation of the Koran indicates. The book is actually a murder mystery wrapped in a question of faith. Whatever the case, it is unlikely I will ever get to that part of the globe to see things for myself. However, I wish this person would have left a virtual calling card. It would have been nice to know what's playing at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Rawalpindia and swap tales of taking dates to the movies. Would our experiences be the same? That reminds me of a story...well, maybe later. Have you ever left your virtual calling card somewhere exotic and had an interesting exchange of life's happenings?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Can Social Media Alone Market Your Book?

Attended a Saturday night session for about a dozen writers (after we were sure we weren't saved) seeking new ideas, a safe place to read, and companionship not of the four-legged kind (i.e., cats, dogs, horses, deer, rodents, and cicadas--although I guess they're six-legged). We ate great potluck food, yakked about the writing business, then read from some of our babies. Some people were published; some are ready to be published; some just needed acknowledgment that they have something that can be published in the future. But the most interesting thing to me, mostly because I'm pulling together my marketing plan for when I publish this summer, is this condensed thought: a great deal of the social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) only gets your books bought by close family and friends, if them. Real marketing needs to rise above just having social media. It is the active engagement of the social media married to word-of-mouth and just the plain gumption to get out there and be in front of people at wherever people gather that will carry day. Social media can't do it alone. True? False?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skipping Centuries

My communication systems have arrived in the 21st century. After years of a 56K modem that rarely got better than 33.2K, I'm dabbling around high-speed Internet via a Droid 2 smartphone for a dumboperator. Yes, I'm pulling the plug on the landline and the eight energy vampire phones scattered around the house. Yes, I'm pulling the plug on the dial-up connection. Yes, I'm listening to Cat Stevens' Angelsea over RadioIO 70s Rock with 3bars. Also, goodbye to the digital rabbit ears and the four channels I get for DirecTV and 150 channels, of which I will watch about six. Yep, straight from the 19th century to the 21st century. Now, if only I can figure out how to answer the damn smartphone. Missed my first three calls. Too many features. Too many apps. And what the heck is a DLNA? I feel a short story coming on about a man so intimidated by the new technology, that he hides in a shack in Montana (or somewhere out west) and threatens to bring down society with a secret stealth weapon. Ah, the irony. Rebelling about technology while using to its fullest. Paul Simon "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard". It's time to write, but the muse is downloading a YouTube video. Shushes me away. "Write," she yells. And so I must.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm Back!!

Wow! It's hard to believe that I haven't posted anything in over two years. Well, lots of good stuff coming up, so stay tuned as I launch project: Author.

Yep, I'm going over to what once was considered the dark side -- self-publication. Not that it ever was really the dark side, but that publication through the traditional path (agent-editor-publisher) was the validation I sought. Now I realize, the only validation I need is from the readers. If they buy my books, I'm validated. If they don't buy my books, I have to write a better book. Still, it would have been nice to have the pair of professional eyes giving the thumbs up or down (and boy do I have that over 500 times) on a particular novel.

So now, come with me and join the ride, as I reach for my ring while on the publishing carousal. First novel should be out in late summer, and I'll keep you posted along the way. I'll also try to clean up the links on this blog. There are a lot, and a lot with still good information.