Tag: #MercurialVisions

Relentlessly Helping People Who Would Enjoy *A Perfect Blindness* Find It

There is a lot of advice for new authors. Books. Blogs. Newsletters. All overflowing with advice. A riot of tips, strategies, and essential to-dos. One of the most common is to blog. To be relentlessly helpful. To offer tips, strategies, and best practice to-dos for the potential audience for your book. To give it away as honey to attract the reader-bees to buy your book (or service).

Examples abound.

It makes sense.

I did it.

One thing most advice givers give is that a writer must watch the numbers: the likes, follows, people signing up for your mailing list, and ultimately, people buying your book to know what works, and what doesn’t.

I did this too.

A handful of likes, here and there, scattered followers on this or that post. Nary a book sold.

I dutifully put onto one side of a balance scale all the hours per week spent creating and distributing the content and on the other side the number of book sales (the end reason for doing this), as well as followers and likes on the other.

The scale immediately fell over to one side: it’s been a waste of time.

What gives?

After probing the nagging suspicion that most of this advice is given with non-fiction in mind, using nonfiction authors as the primary examples, with fiction as an afterthought at best, I was forced to reexamine this whole idea.

  • How can a fiction writer be relentlessly helpful?
  • What can fiction writers blog about to create content to give away, to stir up excitement for a book?
  • To get people interested in their fictional world?
  • To get people interested the author as the teller of tales?

After far many months of fruitless labor, I finally googled it.

(Don’t laugh that it took this long. Failure is a far greater motivator than success and an infinitely better teacher.)

To sum up the general thinking: unless you’re a literary star, or are a true expert in the same field as your fiction is, blogging is wasting time better spent on getting the rest of your platform in order, perfecting your sales copy, and working on outreach, especially with influencers and reviewers.

Huh, damn.

Sifting through further advice for fiction writers, I sought examples specifically for creators of things that don’t exist.

Only then did I come to realize that being helpful for a fiction writer is very different than for a non-fiction writer.

Some advice tries to twist the meaning of expertise into dealing with philosophical problems or life issues, but these contortions miss the real point.

Fiction writers don’t (typically) write to help people solve specific problems. The whole idea of being helpful needs to be flipped. [Social activist fiction is unique in this regard, and blogging about the issues in the book could help sell it, but still…]

What a fiction writer needs to do is be relentless in helping people who would in enjoy the book find it, and in helping those people who are reading it enjoy it more.

So my blog will cease being a blog in a traditional sense.

It will become a sandbox, a place for experimenting with ways to help people find the worlds I’ve build and once in that world, helping people get the most out of being there. Perhaps even enjoying it long after it’s finished.

And so that is what “One Candle in the Darkness” will shift to—a place to invite readers. Both those initiated into A Perfect Blindness’s world of the late 80s Chicago music scene, where we are all just misunderstood characters in the stories other people tell themselves, and those who haven’t yet discovered how much they would like it.

Welcome to The Interzone a space where I host jaunts to the way things could have been and offering glimpses at the way things still might be, places where people strive after dreams, fight back at disaster, struggle with demons in both themselves and others. Enjoy.

 

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

Any thoughts or comments. I’d love to hear them

To join Adventures in the Interzone: excursions to the way things might have been or might yet be click here. 

 

Self-Publishing Part 11: the Book Hunt/a Quick Note

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

A quick note to everyone who has been following Going it Mostly Alone; owing to a couple of coinciding health issues, neither serious on their own, but seriously unpleasant together, I’ve spent much of the past 5 days in bed, recovering, occasionally pushing my fingers over to Twitter to retweet a thing or four.

Only today have I been able to get back to 80%, and that means lots of busy work.

As a preview of the next post—finally taking a good look at your own good advice, which for some reason, you haven’t followed well.

 

Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers: from a Tournament to a Marathon

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

As technology allowed self-publishing to rise, the Marathon overtook the Tournament as the primary model through which most authors need to view their relationship with books and publishing.

Before the advent of POD and digital books, the primary model of publishing was a tournament.

In fact most “glamorous” or “creative” jobs such as

  • “showbiz”
  • arts
  • sports
  • allied fields like advertising

any place where very many people want to get into very few available slots, and round after round of attrition winnows down the contenders for the scarce positions.

Whether one’s goal is to be one of the few new authors published by Random House, an artist in an advertising house or painter appearing on a gallery’s wall, life happens. Choices are made. Editing gets put off, portfolios lay incomplete, and canvases remain untouched as lovers arrive, as marriages occur, as children are born, as paying rent becomes too prominent.

Over time, those still competing face fewer and fewer challengers. Eventually, only a few will outlast all the others and grasped those few places on bookshelves, in offices or on gallery walls. No matter who is most talented, best, or is a genius—the ones who survive the tournament win. Everyone else fails. Period.

For books on the Traditional Publishing Path, this means completing a manuscript, getting the help it needs, attracting an agent (or risking the slush pile), both tournaments on their own, and that one won, the author joins the next: convincing an editor to back a book.

Then, this multiple tournament winner must join yet more struggles. Once the book finally appears, the chosen author must not only battle other titles for the publishing house’s limited marketing resources, but then with all other books for shelf space, virtual and not, and then with TV, games, social media, etc. for an audience’s strained attention.

Here, our valiant survivor enters the marathon of promotion: I’ve seen both Stephen King and Umberto Ecco hawking books (Pet Cemetery and Prague Cemetery respectively.)

While there are similarities between marathons and tournaments—both are about lasting—it’s the differences that are key surviving each.

With marathons: as long as you cross the line, you win, no matter how long it takes. Sure, some people get across the goal faster than you, but you do make it in the end.

With current technology, all it takes to skip the tournaments is money and time. Pony up your bucks and buy a starting place in the marathon. Of course, the amount of time and money spent on getting that starting spot can determine if it’s a half or full marathon: more money and time spent on better quality editing, the shorter distance, in theory.

The leap into the Marathon via cash and technology isn’t without it’s issues. Each technology works best for accomplishing specific goals, and next up, we’ll dive into hitting one of the limitations I’d not fully considered: page count, pricing, profit and the realities of marketing.

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.

 

Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

So far, this path to publication has relied mostly on an extended flashback, with occasional forays into general truths. Today will be a break into present time, with a quick step back a couple of weeks to prepare for what is happening now. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break”

Self-Publishing Part 11: Amazon Lists, Best of This, That, or the Other Thing ​

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Amazon lists appear at first flush to be the Holy Grail of big-data sales accuracy. Amazon knows what was sold, when, by whom, to whom, and for some Kindle versions, even how many pages have been read: Finally, the El Dorado of sales accuracy.

Except it’s not. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 11: Amazon Lists, Best of This, That, or the Other Thing ​”

Self-Publishing Part 11: Bestseller, best of and Other lists. Who makes them matters.

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

The last member of the list making quadrangle are the list makers themselves. No one does this as a public service. They are trying to attract people to their publication/business, be that a newspaper, periodical, blog, bookseller or what-have-you. Now, if all the list maker did was get raw numbers, rank the top X titles and publish it, all the bestseller lists would be essentially the same, differing—if at all—only by how the numbers were grouped: broadly as fiction vs. nonfiction or more narrowly into genres like mysteries, or subgenres like drawing-room whodunits. But if this were all a list maker did, it wouldn’t matter much if a reader went to the NYT or WSJ, or this blog, or that column: Same number of books sold. Same titles. Same ranking, same old same old.

How would that attract readership? Why buy XYZ newspaper if I can find the same thing in that one, or some other one or free in a blog? Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 11: Bestseller, best of and Other lists. Who makes them matters.”