blogging, book promotion

On Extending Our Reach.

I’ve brought this up previously and gotten no response, neither pro nor con, from anyone but Curtis. I’m willing to work on our look, but so far I have to assume that you all think it just fine.

The Writer Coop Annex page I’ve created as an experiment on my own site, is it too slick for you? Curtis says too much work. Yes, it is more work than what we have at present, and I am not eager to dive in, but what we show here does not say, to me anyway, we’re in this game to win.

We have had a few folks put up a post and disappear. Do they see us as a waste of time? They obviously do not want to chat, they want a site with activity, that they can market to and through. That means numbers, which we ain’t got. I put Tom Wolosz in this category, and the guy with the riddles.

We have great, wide-ranging content, we need a better presentation, a front page slate of offerings, where people will see plenty going on, plenty to be excited about, that makes them eager to jump in.

I get emails, so-and-so liked your comment, names I don’t know. Why do few of you speak up? I’m damn curious.

Let’s take a survey: Why are you here? What do you like about this site? What don’t you like?

Are you a wanna-be (published) like me, or are you already in (trad/ebook) print? What tactics have you used to get out the word?

I consider Writer Coop to be grand entertainment. Do you? (It’s fun to read, even more fun to write for.)

Facebook has a number of groups where you can cry your wares. Writers do, in droves, hit-and-run appeals, and that gets tedious real fast. This site is more of a soft-sell marketing magazine with feature-length articles. And, literary-leaning, I love that. Do you?

Those who apparently have no time to prepare a piece for us, who are, presumably, busy with the blog tours and such, good luck to them. How’s that going?

Those who proudly proclaim, my book is #425 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban, give me a break. That’s a load of crap and you know it.

Hey, break it down even further: Yada > Yada > Paranormal & Urban > Alien Comedians. (There you go, GD.) You select a category narrow enough, of course you’re going to sound good. I would guess that not many of us, at this point, fall for that. How many books have you sold/given out, in the hands of readers, the start (theoretically) of a fan base?

Marketing is exposure, that’s a given. It’s also seduction. The best way to seduce me is to demonstrate your facility with language. And where better to do it than on here? We have no rules here, except perhaps, no bullshit (except in fun), and don’t bore us. Are you up to that?

Lurkers! How’s about, everybody into the pool. Start at the shallow end, the comments section. Get your fanny wet there.

I’m all-in on this, in case you haven’t noticed. But I’ve got my own site (in progress). When it’s ready, I’ll be pushing it gangbusters. So this effort isn’t make-or-break for me. But it’s a tool in my toolbox, and I want to see it succeed.

I bow to the majority will. If you’re happy with our as-is, I won’t bring it up again. Isn’t it worth an on the record yea or nay to shut me up? Everyone admits the need for a professional-level cover on a book. How is a website any different?

What does our DIY-feel format say about our marketing sophistication? Are we an enjoyable writer hangout, a place to recharge our batteries, marketing one of many topics we tackle, or the reverse, a small start on a marketing think-tank, stylish, smart schmooze our (tasty, if I do say so myself) bait?

Am I over-focused on cosmetics? Networking, that’s a vital strategy. Mentions scattered around the web may pay off. I announced our presence yesterday on Book Country. The result so far: 57 views, no replies.

Do we have a way to track visits? One site I followed had a visible daily tally. The owner turned that off fast. It was embarrassing how few dropped by. She’d set up shop as a web designer, but her effort on behalf of her most important client, for herself, fell way short. (That’s what I worry about here.) She targeted small business owners because small business owners, in my experience, don’t know good work from crap. When her domain name came up for renewal, she let it lapse, a wise decision. In the fifteen years I knew her, she never produced a piece I admired.

I could insert our link in the comments section of the YouTube publishing/marketing videos that I comb relentlessly for ideas. Do any of the big-name sites, Jane Friedman for instance, have the equivalent of letters to the editor? I am ready to try all of this, but first I think we need to reconsider our personal-blog style presentation.

I’ve dropped the term Glabelhammies into my remark on a Mark Knopfler video, and advised viewers to google it up. The hit on the search result brought me straight here. Guerrilla Marketing! Channel Hunter S. Thompson and get to work. That’s why we need a really exciting front page, so our accidental tourists are persuaded to peruse, and perhaps bookmark for a return visit.

Give us more neat words, GD. I’ll disperse them, here, there, in ways that (seem to) make (some kind of) sense. Write us a blog-post full of wonderful invented words and I’ll skip, tra-la, tra-la, from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter, Gretel-like, judiciously dropping my bread crumbs. I love new words. I’m always looking them up. I can’t be the only word-nut around.

Craigslist! Is there a category on Craigslist for us? If not, can we make one up? I’ve said it before. I say it again: NO STONE UNTURNED.

________________________________________________

Here’s a screen shot of my latest try. This is built in Wix. I would look for something of this nature in the WordPress templates.

The blue and dotted lines are there because I took the screen shot in the Editor. A header and footer would display on all pages. And, of course, a menu.

A template, where you would have your features set up and only have to plug in new copy, I don’t think that would be too much work.

What you see below is real easy to do in Wix. The time consuming part is, you have to tweak everything. Every item impacts what sits beneath it. Any increase in depth on nearly anything, what lies below bumps and jumps around. Annoying as hell! A locked in place template is definitely in order.

FYI: From dotted line to dotted line is the recommended width for a standard screen. To accommodate a decorative edge right and left, I would have to skinny up the guts.

If I were working in Wix, I would create a spare, random repeat/motif of the symbols as a background, to liven up the empty side space on a big screen. I don’t know if you can do that with WordPress.

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 12.33.31 AM.png

Advertisements
Standard
blogging

Some input, please.

Okay Okay Okay. My site is coming along nicely. But, it’s still a construction zone.

It’s still got a lot of type dummied in, and all kinds of building blocks – art, structural items, discarded text, etc. – thrown about, willy-nilly, saved aside in case I decide I want any of that stuff back. I learned my lesson tonight. Delete nothing.

I threw out a piece on Cervantes. An hour later, I wanted a passage out of it. I knew it was still on the (long unvisited) original site but I couldn’t figure out how to switch over in the editor, and I couldn’t go directly, I’ve forgotten how it was named. I had to find an old Facebook post, hit the link, and because I still couldn’t get to the editor through that back door, I had to copy and paste first into a word doc for permanent storage, and from there into my new site. Like I told them on Facebook, I sure am no expert. I just klutz around until I like what I see.

Well, the site is still a mess, but the menu is working. You can go on there and navigate around, finally.

I have added a page at the end: The Writer Coop Annex. I have a look mocked up. My idea is to post titles and a line or two of our marvelous posts, with links to here. Also some of my own content, why should you visit Writer Coop? What will you find there? And so on.

It’s gonna be a while (months) before I’m ready to rumble, to promote my site. I would hope that our WordPress layout gets more visually exciting beforehand. I’m willing to work on it, if everyone agrees. Take a look at my Writer Coop page and give me your opinions. I think it takes more than what we currently have as a set-up to impress and entice new members. I see this as a serious stumbling block. Does anyone else?

FYI: The actual width of my W-C page is the width of the menu bar, plus a smidge. I always have to cheat a little.

Screen Shot 2016-10-30 at 11.25.30 PM.png

The header will have copy tailored to the page. The Sly info is repeated, but I have tried to minimize it. I wanted to make the FIND THE STARTER PAPERDOLL banner not visible for the Coop page. That caused other problems, so I’m leaving it for now. I should try again to get rid of it. On this page, it bothers me. I ought to dump the My Sly as well, and paste it individually page by page instead of the universal insertion. It won’t be too much more work. The menu bar (naturally) will stay.

Another problem, some lines of type are displaced. What you see in the editor sometimes jumps up or down in the public-view. There are many little things that I don’t have a handle on yet.

It’s pathetic how I stumble around in Wix. I discovered only a day ago that I can make the type huge. I’d thought you could only go up to the limit of the slider bar. No! There is a field to plunk a number into. I thought the max must be around 300 point, I think that’s the limit in inDesign. (It may be 400 pt., but no higher.) I entered 999 by accident and – bam! – there it was, a monster. You want that from time to time, to make a statement. This is crazy. And great. As Steve Jobs used to say, crazy great!

On the finished page, the SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL column will be gone. The WOW! HUGE! will be replaced by a meeker message, making for a considerably calmer page, not nearly so bouncing-off-the-walls.

Here’s the address of my site: http://mimispeike.wixsite.com/myguysly. Copy and paste it into your browser. I don’t know how to make it go live. See? I am pathetic.

______________________________________________

Rats! I just patched over the STARTER banner (on the live site), but you can see the edges of the patch. If I turn off the default display (anything in the header shows on all pages, until you opt out) then the type falls behind the strip and will not stay forward, I’ve tried and tried and tried. Mysterious. Maybe I’ll find a fix eventually.

_______________________________________________

You know, I would also like if the right column were wiped out, the left text as is, on a plain white ground, and in place of the oversized ‘S’, the cover of someone’s book, occupying the same space, a promo/review below. A regular feature: Book Of The Month. Or: Author Of The Month. Or a profile of someone’s main character: Meet Magali Rousseau.

I might even like that more. (In terms of style.) I think I do like it even better.

Here’s a question for everyone. GD says the sides of my page are cut off on his smallish screen. (I have the huge iMac, I don’t have that problem.) The actual page is only the width of the menu bar. The rest is fluff. Please tell me, is that menu shown in full on your computer screen? It is drawn within the Wix guidelines, so I find this very troubling.

Standard
About Writers, book promotion, Stories, writing technique

Carl E. Reed, Where Are You?

Writers of every stripe, self-published or working on it, brand-published, with minimal support, or else cut loose by a bankruptcy, the rug pulled out from under, we all need stroking and advice and a place to vent. Discouragement is a permanent part of our lives.

I fear this is what Carl Reed is experiencing right now. He’s written great stuff. He’d acquired some industry connections – last I spoke to him he said he’d just had lunch with an agent. But he has not made it out of the shadow, into the sun, not even in a small way. I google him up, I get nothing. I see links to Amazon, and to old interviews on Book Country, but nothing new. I don’t know how that web discovery thing happens, I can’t even think of what it’s called, but if this title pops up in a search and someone who knows Carl sees it, maybe we’ll get some info on him, or even a visit.

Think down the road. You’ve tried and tried, put your heart and soul into it, and nothing shakes out. What do you do? Keep plugging? Reclassify your writing as an absorbing hobby? Give up, like Arnbar, my friend from Book Country? Who writes beautifully, with a Mel Brooks-style commercial potential, my only criticism of his work was that it was too much of a quip-dependent stand-up routine. I couldn’t see it working for a novel. A novel of one-liners isn’t going to cut it.

My own coping strategy – I’m not kidding, folks – is I am convinced my work will be read down the line. Decades hence, even. That does me, does me just swell. The good thing about being a dead author is, I won’t have to give interviews. (I’m a raging introvert.) I’m not counting on making any money, so I won’t be disappointed there. I don’t yearn to be traditionally published, luckily, for I don’t think my thing has the necessary wide appeal. I feel for all you who chase that dream.

To put your all into a project, and wait and wait for a breakthrough is a soul-stomp indeed. The advice is, move on, start another piece, so that when you hit, you have two, three, many things to sell. That can keep you going for a good while.

Short stories, I don’t believe they have an impact until they reach a critical mass with wide distribution, or they are goosed by a well received novel, at which point we find them in big mainstream magazines. I was introduced to Irwin Shaw around 1960 by a story in Ladies Home Journal, I believe it was, that was quietly sexy (for 1960), drawing outraged letters to the editor. Filth! Trash! Filthy trash! Cancel my subscription! If you want a laugh, the title was: A Year To Learn The Language.

Major exposure is a coup, certainly. Lesser, as I’ve said, I’m dubious. My cousin by marriage Jim Meirose has been published in many literary journals (looking at his list again I see they are not the big names I thought they were), and has been interviewed several times in Central New Jersey newspapers, and he writes gorgeously and tastily, but still struggles, much as we do, looks like to me.

He’s got his style in hand, he told me he feels no further need to discuss writing. He must feel the same about marketing, or he would have barged in here by now. He’s interviewed and submitted and queried, worked it, for twenty years, first part time, now full time. He retired from the corporate world, probably with a nice pension, one of the lucky ones, two or three years ago.

His wife, my blood cousin, came out of a fervent Catholic family. That whole crew, it was the this society, the that society, the Catholic Young Adults, the whole nine yards. If anyone is in line for a miracle, it’s them. It takes something of a miracle, I’m afraid. That’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we fail. We’ve fought the good fight, done something grand.

All together now, with feeling: To dreammm  . . .  the impossible  dreammm . . . dee . . . da-a-a-a . . . dee-dee . . . dee-dee-dee . . . da-a-a-a. Hey, I feel better, how ’bout you?

The people who make it, how do they do it? Some go low-bar. Known quantities sell, dirty in particular. But not intelligently dirty, that may be Meirose’s problem. I’ll let you know after I read Eli The Rat. I expect it to be a smart, raunchy, rollick. If it’s not, I’m going to be bummed, for my sake, and for his. I want to be able to tell him that I think he’s brilliant, maybe get invited down (he’s two hours south) for a barbeque or something.

I accepted the Facebook friend request of one Jim Meirose, an author. I soon realized I was talking to my long-lost cousin. (It was blast-from-the-past Marybeth who’d contacted me, using his account, she hasn’t one of her own.) That side of the family and mine had not interacted to any great degree, lifestyles being the big divide.

Jim seems to be unwilling to interact with me as an aspiring author. He’s a minor celebrity in Central NJ, probably hounded for advice. Maybe he’ll engage with me as a reader.

It is great to be a part of this community, so full of wisdom and understanding and a ton of fun. Fun will keep us afloat, until our ship comes in. When you get downhearted, talk through it here. When they beat me up* in Wix Design Experts on FB, I trot over here and make light of it, easing my distress considerably. If, despite my efforts, Cousin Meirose continues unresponsive, ditto.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, kids. Until next time.

I’m kicking around an idea: Talk Dirty To Me . . . If You Write Like Henry Miller.

I guess I’d have to read 50 Shades. Gotta think about it.

____________________________________________

* One annoyed Expert said to me, You don’t know much. How’d you get into this group? I told her, I warned Brett I’m no expert, but he looked at my site and liked it, a lot. That seems to have shut her up.

Standard
book promotion

My Approach To Website Design.

So far I’ve got no success story to relate, only theories, so take the following with a grain of salt.

I have no book to sell yet. My focus for now is the promotion of my in-progress website, with an eye to the day when I have something on Amazon. I’ve looked at many author sites. There is generally a cover, maybe multiple covers/blurbs/synopses, a bio, probably a comments capability, not much else. I’m going in another direction.

I think a site should be a sort of fan magazine for your book. Like in the old time movie rags (haven’t looked at one in fifty years), behind the scenes stuff. Personalities, speculation, is so-and-so involved with so-and-so? Introduce me to your characters and their world. Don’t tell me what happens. Tell me why I should want to find out what happens. Better yet, show me.

I want to see playful energy. Lots to look at, lots to think about. I want visitors to my own site to say, Let’s have a peek at what that nut is up to this week. That means fresh material, constantly. A lot of work? For sure, but I don’t think of it that way. My site is my workshop, where I solve problems and explore possibilities. And I find it quite therapeutic. It makes me feel like I’m moving forward even when I’m not.

Okay, playful doesn’t pair with every genre. But energy does. However well conceived your blurb is, it takes more to impress me than, say, . . .

When Lizzie woke that morning, she never could have guessed that by noon, having hacked her parents to death with their best cleaver, she’d be frantically trying to dispose of a pile of bloody clothing. The kitchen cupboard had been empty of her special breakfast cereal. That was the kickoff to a very trying day.

Her father had obviously been unable to resist feeding the last of her homemade granola to Cupcake, the pet rabbit whom he babied outrageously, in contrast to the disdain with which he treated her. Only last week she’d discovered her new-bought Easter bonnet filled with her finest crochet-work and turned into a plush chaise in the luxuriously-appointed pen of the abominable animal. Cupcake, she’d hissed, Today you die. Was it her fault that the old man had interrupted the butchery, and that she’d blown a gasket and turned on him as well?

That may grab me briefly, but if you want to make the sale, stun me with a whole-hog (gotta say it, whole-hare) effort. The design of your website should communicate the richness of your conception, every inch displaying an attitude that says, out – way out – of the ordinary.

Less-is-more has never been my thing. I admire it. I’ve tried it. It always gets away from me. Like with my characters. My plot. My prose style. Everything I touch. My site is a maze of this-and-that detail. I want to drag your eye around my page, and give you a sense of what’s coming your way in the book.

Here’s a partial view of my sandbox: mimispeike.wix.com/mysite

(When it goes public, the name will change to MyGuySly.com. Some of the art will change as well. Much of what I have at present is helping me assess content and a layout.)

Screen Shot SUNDAY

My site has been created on Wix, where I’ve encountered many technical problems. Perhaps I’ve jumped in too quickly – I’ve yet to read the tutorials – on the theory that the functionality can’t be too different from Indesign, a print-publication program that I’m very familiar with. But it is different, and in very annoying ways. In a word, it’s clunky. Clunky as hell.

The huge problem with my free-form approach is that it will not reconfigure for small devices. Well, it will, of course, but the result is chaotic. There is a reason people head to WordPress and its templates. I may ultimately join them. A structured layout probably works best technically, but image-text-image-text, each element in its neat slot, a set-up more adaptable to a variety of screens, that does not excite me. If I go in that direction, I’m gonna mess with it, one way or another put my stamp on it, for better or worse.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think a bopping website is the magic bullet. In fact, then you have to promote the site that promotes your book. Once my on-line presence is in order, I’ll work on bumper stickers, posters, mailers, etc. My sister in Florida volunteers at a community theater group. She thinks they’ll display my poster. A lot of people should see it. Have I mentioned my idea to dress up Elizabethan and hand out flyers in Times Square? I talked that up plenty on Book Country.

I’m going to get this pie-in-the-sky business off the ground or die trying. I’ve been loving my quirky critter way too long, no way am I gonna stop now.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 12.30.54 AM.png

Here’s the top half of page one of my novella. This look will carry through the whole, with variations.

The art will all be black and white.

The bar on the right will be footnotes and additional comments.

Alice in Wonderland had to wait a hundred years for an annotated edition. My thing is annotated on the spot.

The more I look at what I have, the more possibilities I see for a really exciting, strong look. I recall a page or two thirty-plus years ago in Print (magazine), a showcase for the best-of-the-best design and illustration. It was line art illustration, type used creatively, which I love to do myself, from (my recollection) an oversized edition of Alice In Wonderland.

I’ve looked for it on the web from book dealers, I find no mention of it. Could be it wasn’t Alice, it was something else. Faulty memory or not, that is the direction I’d like to push this in. Or, something half-way between the above quiet conception and rock ’em, sock ’em graphic hand-stands, that you want to frame and hang over your work area for inspiration.

The helter-skelter of my front page won’t do for a novel. It would be exhausting to read and exhausting to produce. Still, I certainly intend to expand the design vocabulary here. In modest ways.

 

 

Standard