blogging, book promotion

Here we are!

co-op stuff

The first post. And to me has fallen the honour. Seriously, it is an honour. Firstly, because it’s a vote of trust from my fellow co-operators, secondly because this post is the first of a long, rich and innovative series (no point starting a blog otherwise, right?). As more posts come, this one will slip out of sight and mind, but it will always remain the first, the one in which the Writer’s Co-op became public. So thank you, Amber, Atthys, GD and Mimi for putting your trust in me.

Let me begin by explaining. The five of us ‘met’ on Book Country, a website where writers post their work for peer review and critiques. Though lately it’s become very sleepy, it’s not a bad site, and it has a discussion board where I’ve found many a useful piece of advice. And some time ago a thread was started by GD Deckard, in which he wrote the following: I’m thinking of a site that new writers can use to promote their books. How, exactly, depends on what the writers themselves want. Writers are creative people, so together we could come up with creative ways to help one another that we might not think of on our own. How would you like to see a Writers’ Co-op work?

Well, it took us a while, but here we are – The Writers’ Co-op. Five people who write in different genres but who all share a similar commitment to the craft and the graft of writing.

watchmaker_2_1_0_rectangle

The craft…

Building Stonehenge

and the graft

But why come together? What can this site do that a personal one can’t? Well, as GD says, for a project like this, many minds are better than one. And the method is in the title – cooperate. This is a site where we swap and share news, opinions and experiences about writing, from first paragraph to finished product and beyond. Especially beyond. Because who wants to write a book and then not promote it? That’s like a painter working for years on a picture, then turning it to the wall. So here in the Co-op we try things out, see what works and what doesn’t, and tell each other about it. And not just each other, obviously. We happen to be the five that started it off, but we don’t intend to stay whispering in our corner. The Co-op welcomes anyone who’s willing to invest a little time and effort into promoting books worth reading.

What can you expect to find here? Since there’s nothing new under the sun, I do admit the innovation bit could be a challenge, but we’ll try our best, I promise. There’ll be anecdotes and analysis, thoughtfulness and humour, awards and recommendations, opinions, rants and wackiness. We don’t expect to work miracles and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But what we do take seriously is writing itself. Which means we’re also keen to help writers explore whatever path might lead somewhere interesting, and help readers find good writing. If that sounds like a programme you could tune in to, you’ve come to the right place. Drop us a line, tell us what you’re up to. Maybe we’ll end up travelling the path together. Whichever one it turns out to be.

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29 thoughts on “Here we are!

  1. atthysgage says:

    Let’s face it, no one really likes the uphill battle of promotion. You write and you post about it and you even pay money to spread the word, and still sales and reviews just trickle in (sometimes not at all.) It’s the silence that kills you. At least here, we can talk to each other. There’s a huge community of us all in the same boat, only sometimes we can’t see each other for the fog. Sing out, and someone will answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello! Joining you all here because of the outstanding experience I’ve had with Curtis’s book-a-break anthology project. Looking forward to collaboration, meeting other writers & reading stories.

    Cheers! Thanks for the outreach. ~ Jill

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What do you suppose is the root of the silence? Being overwhelmed by the volume of volumes available — the majority of which, I will be harsh enough to wager, are of questionable quality? Becoming inured to the inundation of insistent, repetitive bids for attention? Reluctance to speak up and stand out? Or to speak out and stand up? Resistance to the sense of expectation authors place on readers to read, respond, and review?

    How many of an author’s followers actually read entire posts, much less marketing material, when the option to Like and move on is so convenient and impossible for the writer to differentiate from someone who’s visited and read before Liking, unless they comment as well?

    I think it’s easy to see what doesn’t work. Authors pursuing customers from whom they have contact information becomes nagging friends and acquaintances to spend their time, their money, their good will on something they weren’t looking for.

    What seems to work is a vast audience worldwide, exposed to multiple designs of a message delivered over a variety of media that may work themselves into the collective consciousness in clever, unexpected, and unobtrusive ways.

    Oh, wait. I remember. That’s what Madison Avenue marketing and advertising firms are for.

    And yet the publishing industry today expects authors to do this job for free. With a very limited audience — even for those with 50,000 followers. So how do we overcome the barriers that cause the silence? How do we reach the world?

    Or do you have some information I lack that indicates the problems are issues I haven’t seen?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s interesting to me just how often even the Madison Avenue approach DOESN’T work, at least in terms of cost effectiveness. Mass advertising certainly sells stuff, but it doesn’t always lead to a long and viable career, particularly because publishers and their ilk will write you off as a bad risk, even if you sold 20,000 books if the profit margin isn’t high enough.

    I sure don’t have any answers. I’ve done little promotions (all I can justifiably afford), and sometimes they result in a little flurry of sales. Sometimes not. But unless those people who buy write reviews or tell their friends, it doesn’t create any lasting effect.

    It feels pretty hopeless most of the time. But then, sometimes, out of the blue, you get a new reader or a nice comment or have a meeting of minds on a website like this, and there’s a glimmer of hope.

    That’s why we’re here.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. If you’re open for a discussion, I’d like to continue this a bit further. As you say, “unless they write reviews and tell their friends… ” (Personally, I believe telling our friends is far more effective than writing a review.)

    I am the first to acknowledge that as a writer, I may not be an Ursula K. Le Guin or even a J.K. Rowling, but I know good writing when I read it. I suspect at least part of the problem authors have today in getting people to spread the word is that the quality of much — perhaps the vast majority — of what is available today, particularly in the self-pub market — is mediocre at best. And frankly, I’ve never gotten excited about recommending mediocrity to my friends, even if I make the effort to write a review — assuming I read the entire book, which I’m less inclined to do if I decide, after reading part of it, that it’s mediocre. Or maybe it’s well-written, but just hasn’t caught my fancy.

    (I’ve just decided to write reviews of the books I don’t finish because they’re mediocre.)

    Take Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain. It was recommended to me by a Border’s Book Store clerk when she invited me to take part in a book discussion group she was hosting at the store. “Ah,” I thought, “someone is asking me to give up more of my limited time.” But I liked the young woman, and she assured me it was a quick read and a delightful story, so I read it and joined the discussion. And I re-read it later.

    It is a delightful story, a novel story, surprising and touching. Within the next few months, I purchased four more copies as gifts with my enthusiastic recommendation. And whenever anyone I know says they’re looking for something to read on vacation or during air or train travel, I recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain.

    The same is true to a lesser degree for The Help by Kathryn Stockett, but I think its audience is predominantly female, so I’ve never recommended it to any of my male friends. Maybe I should.

    However, the point is this: It isn’t enough to write and publish a book, either traditionally or independently. It needs to catch a reader’s fancy if they’re going to spread the word. (Other examples: The Martian by Andy Weir. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. And — God help us — the Twilight series by what’s her name.)

    I’m not saying authors should write books that pander to the lowest common denominator just to sell in large numbers, but there has to be something that sets a work apart. Something that sparks a reader’s enthusiasm. Maybe, even here, the first consideration shouldn’t be the marketing, but the quality of the product.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I absolutely think that the quality of the work has to come first, and not just on principal, but because how else can we feel good about what we are doing? Sure, it would be nice to sell a lot of copes, and yes that might make us feel good (it’s nice to think that people are getting enjoyment from your work), but I just think the personal satisfaction of being pleased with your own work HAS to be more important than sales numbers. Not that they have to be mutually exclusive, but it’s damn hard to sell books in this day and age PERIOD, and 1) at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did good work, and 2) ultimately, over the very long haul, I still think good work is going to survive and touch more people and be remembered better by posterity than something that was merely popular.

    And i agree, personal word of mouth is even more valuable than a review, but so often we never hear whether someone has recommended our book to others, and at least a review is there for all to see. Me, I’ll take either, gladly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. GD Deckard says:

    I like the practicality of Harlan Ellison’s take on book sales. The following is from an article he wrote in 1980 for Future Life #23.

    “It is a constant anguish with which we suffer. There are something like 500-700 new paperback titles issued every month. Take your average paperback “spinner” rack in, say, a 7-Eleven. It has, what, forty, fifty pockets? Say fifty pockets. That means only 50 titles get full cover display. Anything behind that facing book is a lost book. And so if a writer is lucky s/he will get full face display in one of those pockets above knee level where the few remaining members of the reading public can see it … for about seven days. Then comes the new batch of titles.
    ….
    …this means distribution kills all of us, no matter how well known or unknown, no matter how talented or inept, no matter how beautifully packaged or uglified.”

    It strikes me that as authors we tend to blame ourselves when our book doesn’t sell. We need to write better, improve our personal promotions, work harder for reviews on Amazon …etc. But the writing matters not one whit if no one sees the book. And personal promotions and rave reviews fall flat without readers. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978. (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222/)

    I am not discouraged. As a science fiction writer who builds whole worlds, I imagine we will figure this out. First, we have to actually understand reality. Stop blaming ourselves. This is not a new “anguish with which we suffer.” Among all the changes since 1980, there may be opportunities to sell books that didn’t exist then and are unrecognized now. We’ll find them because we’re creative people.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I feel like a little kid who’s walked into a room where grownups are talking, and although I’ve been out on the streets paying attention to pop culture, and think I’ve noticed some things the grownups might not have but maybe need to know, they’re more interested in listening to the other adults discuss the important subject of “Things That Don’t Work” than they are in finding out what it is the little kid is going on about.

    [Feeling unheard and dismissed, little kid leaves room, hands in pockets, but hangs around listening at the door.]

    [GD enters, talks about Science Fiction and *gasp* Harlan Ellison. Little kid takes heart enough to try again, enters room, and clears throat.]

    *Ahem*

    Curtis indicated that the main purpose of this co-op was to look for more effective ways of marketing than are currently disappointing authors everywhere. Maybe I’m just supposed to sit here nodding and taking notes, listening to the five of you, but I thought Curtis was inviting everyone to participate in the discussion. So after I’ve posted this reply, if you aren’t really interested in discussing possibilities, I’ll just listen. But if all you want to talk about is what doesn’t work, I have to ask, “Why?” We KNOW what doesn’t work. Shouldn’t we be looking at the things that WORK, and trying to figure out why they work and how to adapt them to selling our own books?

    Toward that goal, I have some observations I’d like to offer. I would love to hear you discuss them with open minds. It is possible you have talked with each other about this very aspect of marketing. I don’t know; I haven’t heard any of you mention it. When I look at the books, plays, restaurants, movies, and television programs that I got excited about as a kid or that I get excited about now, things that I enthusiastically recommend to anyone who will listen, things I purchase to give away as gifts, they all have three things in common:

    1. They are excellently well crafted. I think this has to be prerequisite to marketing, but neither more nor less important. If “the personal satisfaction of being pleased with your own work HAS to be more important than sales numbers” (AG), then why bother about marketing? Because…Truth: writers who publish for the public want high sales numbers.

    2. They possess a unique quality…je ne sais quoi…”it”, that catches a reader’s/diner’s/viewer’s fancy. Maybe it’s a crap shoot, but if you can catch your beta readers’ fancies, you’re probably on to something. If you haven’t, don’t expect sales.

    3. Buzz. The Science Fiction/Fantasy sub-culture understands this. Gamers get it. It’s so much more than hawking your wares. It has to rise above ordinary. Leaked info, trailers, teasers, previews, other worlds that integrate into ours on the internet just as though they were real. ComicCon-savvy artists in any medium are Masters at this kind of marketing. The Buzz always starts online.

    So let’s have a discussion about making it work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue, thanks very much for that contribution, which cuts to the heart of the issue. We hadn’t really discussed it that much, though we did notice that our initial posts, as you say, look more at what doesn’t work than what does. But that’s OK. We’re feeling our way here. And I think all personal experiences, even of what didn’t work (e.g. GD’s Google ads campaign) are useful to hear about.
      However, you go a step further in the right direction. I quite agree that we’d love to have high sales, and falling back on our personal satisfaction with our work may be little more than a psychological safety net. As such, it’s pretty vital, though. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve written, but if I didn’t think it was at least half way decent, there’d be no point in continuing (because if it was just the sales motivating me, I’d have stopped already).
      Creating a buzz. Yes. As GD says, writers are creative people, so I’m sure there are ways of doing it. I like your idea of ‘other worlds that integrate into ours on the internet just as though they were real’. I’m going to think about that. I learnt to be a writer through the (still ongoing) process of trial and error. So there’s no reason at all why I can’t learn to be a tech-savvy online buzz creator.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha! Thanks, Curtis. There are people who can help in the tech-savvy arena. You probably already know someone who’s there. Or enlist the aid any 11 year old boy. lol.

        Also, take a look at blockbuster movie campaigns — not just trailers and previews, but their interconnected “realities” on line: virtual corporations, people, scandals, and mysteries that relate directly to the story they’re promoting. One of the early innovators created the world surrounding the television show, LOST. More recently, Interstellar is a great example.

        Have you guys had any experience with Rave Reviews Book Club? (https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/) I’ve had some interaction with one of their members, and she shared her experience, which certainly seems to be going in the desired direction. (She also checked out Writer’s Co-op.)

        Like

  9. atthysgage says:

    You ask the hard questions, Sue: why? I don’t have any answers. And while I do think personal satisfaction with the work has to be the first thing, sure, I absolutely want to sell books. I want to sell a lot of books. Emily Dickinson wanted to publish her poems. Van Gogh wanted people to buy his paintings. It’s only natural. Therefore, I try to market my books, even though it’s almost always disappointing and not a lick of fun.

    I agree with most of what your saying, though I’m not sure we KNOW what doesn’t work, necessarily. I have a pretty good idea what hasn’t worked for me, but maybe it’s worked for someone else. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. It would be interesting to hear from someone (anyone?) who can honestly say YES, THIS WORKS! (hopefully not some shill trying to sell their marketing strategy). Admittedly, we’ve only cast a pretty narrow net here, but we’re trying to reach out, trying to find more people.

    Your third item, Buzz, is extremely desirable, but I have no idea how to even begin. I blog, post on Facebook, etc. I’ve paid to get my books listed with book-agencies, mark the price down to $.99 per copy, offer the book free for potential reviewers, but NONE of that is going to set the internet on fire. “Buzz” remains aloof. It’s something that happens to other people’s books. And no, I don’t know why. I’d love to obliquely strategize my way into the public consciousness but I really don’t have a clue.

    SOOO, what? For lack of a clever, innovative strategy, I’m substituting perseverance. Reaching out in little ways, one person at a time. It’s what I’ve jokingly called selling poetry, door-to-door. You can’t really do that. All you’ll get is a lot of doors slammed in your face. So instead, you try to connect to people, one at a time, if necessary. Make friends. And maybe, eventually, they’ll want to look at your poems. It sucks as a marketing ploy, but having a wider social circle is worthwhile all by itself, and at least it doesn’t make me feel like a used car salesman. (I’ve done one book signing in my life. It was very satisfying to meet people and chat. I did sell some books. But the bookselling almost felt incidental. I wish I could do a lot more of that, but there are only two bookstores in town.)

    But am I interested in finding a REAL marketing strategy? Hell, yes! I love your idea about finding some backdoor way of entering the public sphere. We need everybody’s ideas and input. That’s why we’re here in public, instead of just having our own little email chatroom. Please. Be here. Sound off. Give us some focus. I agree, I kvetch too much about what doesn’t work. I’ll try not to, but I can’t promise anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If you need to kvetch upon occasion, I won’t object, Atthys. 🙂 I think working our tails off to promote our work on a small scale is one of the most frustrating, miserable activities any of us will ever undertake. I say this as a survivor of last Fall’s Nerdist/Inkshares Science Fiction Collection Contest. (Inkshares is like Kickstarter for books.) At that time, outside the contest, authors who could gather 1,000 pre-orders in 90 days earned publication in print with Inkshares’ full editing service, cover design team, distribution and marketing efforts. At the end of the 6 week contest, the top five works would be fully published regardless of how many pre-orders they had achieved, although the ranking counted only individual Readers, not multiple orders. Out of 355 entries, ours finished 12th with 315 pre-orders, which then qualified for their new Quill imprint “Publishing Lite” option for ebooks only.

      “Cool!” you might think, “Your work would be in the hands of at least 315 people!”

      We sought some advice from an agent I’d met at a Writer’s Conference, and opted out of Quill. But the lessons we learned from that experience will haunt me for the rest of Time. Their contests have nothing to do with the work’s quality, and all to do with the author’s marketing savvy — which, in the most successful cases, involved teams of dedicated friends pursuing their friends, relatives, and strangers-on-the-street to obtain pre-orders. The process of contacting, following-up over and over again, pursuing, and nagging people you know who may or may not be readers, is soul-destroying. Especially for introverts. Every time I mentioned the-book-that-must-not-be-named, I could feel a bit of my soul crumble off. By the end of the six weeks, I had to go searching for the crumbs in meaningful little places and objects like horcruxes in order to become a whole person again. (Sorry, Curtis — it’s another Harry Potter reference.)

      The insight I took away from this horror was to think bigger. My writing partner and I (with input from my son) are exploring some creative internet buzz-type promotion. We’re going to need to hire a web master, but once we have the structure designed, we will have a solid marketing strategy/plan to present with our MS when we re-submit it to the agent who has requested it, and any others we decide to approach. We’re hoping that will have an additional positive impact (in addition to the quality of the work itself 😉 ) on any agent’s or publisher’s consideration.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. GD Deckard says:

    Welcome Sue Ranscht! And despair not. This may look like Edison’s lab, scattered with unusable light bulbs. But as Tom said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”

    There are over a billion English readers in the world, a percentage of whom must be crazy enough to enjoy what I write. I just need to find them. Our readers are out there. But they are under no obligation to find us.

    Remember, a website is not a traditional advertisement. The “world wide web” is, in this sense, a misleading phrase. A website does not “go” anywhere. It is a set of files on a server and as an advertisement, it is like a billboard in a storage shed. Prospective readers have to find it before they can read it.

    Now there’s the rub. Until someone finds your book they cannot read it or judge it or recommend it.

    I’m still examining the problem so guessing a solution is beyond me. But I suspect the answer will require that we identify who our readers are and find a way to approach them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think pop culture holds the key for any genre. You write science fiction. Look toward the ComicCon crowd. Seek them out online. Plant an earworm. Give them something fresh they can get excited about.

      I have a friend who self-published an historical fiction based on her grandmother’s life in Palestine. She entered it in several contests, won the Ted Geisel Award, gained the attention of a San Diego Women’s Writers group, and now takes part in book discussion groups all over the country — locally in person, and by Skype for long distance. She recognizes her readers are “women of a certain age” and is sure the ride will end eventually, but it’s a good one for her now.

      Maybe even contacting your local library to volunteer as a speaker, or to give a little 1-evening writer’s workshop would be a place to start.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. GD Deckard says:

    Thank you Sue! The insight provided by your friend’s experience suggests that she has indeed found her readers. Writers who are still looking for their readers can only be encouraged. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. atthysgage says:

    Sue. Your experiences with Quill are painful to read! The whole publishing world has changed so drastically in the last ten years. Yes, there are millions of self-published books out there that weren’t there before, but there are also hundreds of thousands of WRITERS out there that weren’t there before—there were always a lot of people who wrote and dreamed of publication, but that was as far as it went.

    One upshot of this situation is that there are now a lot of people who are trying to find ways to capitalize on all of these hopeful writers. I’m not saying Quill did anything wrong or exploitative, exactly, but you sum it up very nicely when you say it had nothing to do with the quality of the writing, just the ability of the author to market the product. I understand why people might say: “Well, that’s just reality. And If you believe in your book, selling it should be easy!”

    I’ve heard that argument before, and it just isn’t so. There’s a big difference between talking to someone at a bookstore (or online) about your book, and random marketing to strangers (and yes, you can TRY to access people who have some history of reading in your genre, but that isn’t nearly as easy or effective as marketers claim. An ad is still an ad.) We don’t sell what we love. We don’t sell what we believe in. What we REALLY want is to share those things, but hey, we also want money and praise and admiration and other less savory things. That’s just the way it goes.

    When you say: “The process of contacting, following-up over and over again, pursuing, and nagging people you know who may or may not be readers, is soul-destroying.” well, that says it all. I know that feeling. THAT isn’t who we are. At our core, we are not marketers. And that’s why all of these mass-market strategies make us feel like giving up. (Besides, they don’t even work all that well. Three hundred books? Piffle. For all the work you put into it? Piffle. I may, though various methods over the past year and a half, have sold 300 books (but I doubt it. Maybe half that) and my obscurity is still basically untouched.)

    I’m kvetching again. I guess that’s my role, here: kvetcher-in-chief. You have a lot of good ideas about ear worms and such, and I’d like to hear more. You should do a guest post, ’cause these in-thread comments don’t get seen by very many people.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. GD Deckard says:

    “…there are now a lot of people who are trying to find ways to capitalize on all of these hopeful writers.”
    – Atthys Gage

    Excellent point! It’s easy to forget that we are now a market for book-selling schemes. Another reason to post about things that we know do not work.

    Oh, and Sue: I second Atthy’s proposal. You should do a guest post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you, gentlemen! I would be honored to post as a guest. May I accept your invitation as representative of the four of you, or do each of you possess veto power that Curtis or Mimi might wish to employ?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha! Thank you, Curtis. Putin and every single mother everywhere. I suppose I could wait to hear from Mimi as well, but unless she’s your mother, I guess her thumbs down is already outvoted. Do you have a word limit in mind for said guest post? How do you want me to submit it — written into your contact block? I do have your email address — would that make more sense?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. GD Deckard says:

    Sue:
    I just emailed Mimi regarding you as a guest blogger. Mimi may have missed this particular thread. I’m sure we’ll hear from her by Monday, May 16th.

    – GD

    Like

  16. mimispeike says:

    Wow! I didn’t know this was going on here. Thanks for the email, GD. A lot to think about, but I’m out in the garden, just taking a break. Many many statements that I agree with wholeheartedly, I have almost expressed some of these same points myself. I’ll read this over tonight, and comment then.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. mimispeike says:

    I have a marketing strategy in mind, have had for years, it may not work for others.

    My book has (I believe) an instant appeal, at least until you start reading it.

    It’s the story of a screwball cat. Great, right?

    Full of wise-ass humor. Still good, right?

    Very intricate. I’ve already lost a decent percent of readers, I’m afraid.

    And, it’s literary. I play with language. There goes another chunk of folks who were initially interested in a historical farce about a talking cat.

    Think Mr. Peabody and the Way-Back Machine meets, I don’t know, War and Peace. Or something.

    I can’t help that. This is the way I think, what I love to read myself. All I can do is work the screwball angle, and hope to hook my fellow screwball-literay-loving readers. It’s not quite black humor, it’s more gray. And bemused. (As an intrusive author, I supply the bemused.) And, terminally arch.

    And, I weave in enough historical nonsense to make it even less enticing for the action-reaction-move-it-along crowd. Margaret, Countess of Newcastle-Something (can’t recall just now), billed as the first female scientist, published her scientific ideas as verse. Groundbreaking? Sorry Your Grace, someone beat you to that. Sly, of course, who the hell else would it be?

    I’ve taken a few nice paragraphs out of her bio, in which she complains about the difficulty of being taken seriously as a scientist, changed all the woman references (a close-minded world not willing to admit that a woman can think as well as a man, etc.) to cat gripes, it works spectacularly. Really deliciously. If you are aware that these are actual quotes from a disgruntled notable, it’s triple the fun.

    * I’m going to try performance art: Dress up in Elizabethan garb, hand out flyers in Times Square. (If I have the stamina for it. I’m about to turn seventy.)

    * A whacky letter writing campaign, a la Don Novello. (I adore him. Find the popes in the pizza, remember that?) I wrote Novello one of the three fan letters I’ve written in my life. The first was to Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes of the TV show 77 Sunset Strip. That was around 1960. I wrote Don in the early eighties. Two years ago, I wrote to Mark Knopfler. I adore him also. On my website, I compare Sly’s unusual ability to strum the mandolin to Mark’s rare talent with a similar instrument. Mark has said, in an interview: “It takes persistence. You have to make your fingers go where they don’t want to go.” Sly would, and has, put it the same way.

    * And, an offer to American Atheists, a free download to any card-carrying member. (And anything else that pops into my head that may garner me press coverage.) I want to land in a piece on Salon, or the like. I have great hopes for the atheist community tie-in. My cat is an outspoken free-thinker. It’s hilarious, I promise, inane stuff, but built on a serious foundation. I hope the serious slips by under the radar. Again, it is what it is. And I love what it is. Pedal-to-the-metal zany, and thought-provoking at the same time.

    In other words, when I have my book one (it’s a three book series at present, for the novel. And I have two short verse sort-of kids’ books, a third on the way, a fourth in the notes stage) ready to sell, I am very willing to make a total ass of myself. How’s that for a marketing strategy?

    Here’s another idea, I just read it on Daily Mail. A woman in NYC got hundreds of responses for an ad on Craigslist seeking a turtle-walker for her slow-moving pet, someone to escort it to Central Park for fresh air and exercise every day, she only has time to do it on weekends. My ad: anybody out there have a cat willing to dress, and be photographed, as a pirate? Tabby cats only, please.

    Sly’s first adventure out of Haute-Navarre is on a pirate ship. I hope to launch my ready-to-go site next Talk Like A Pirate Day, that’s in February. Talk Like A Pirate Day is the work of the guy who also dreamt up the Flying Spaghetti Monster, another favorite of mine, for obvious reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

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