Tag Archives: Advice

Need advice

 

Hey, all you geniuses. And all you hard workers who surpass geniuses. And any random armchair critic with an opinion. I’m talking to you!

I suck at titles. How do you come up with titles? Usually with poetry I can cheat and use the first line, thus not having to really title anything at all. I’ve only ever really written one title of which I’m proud. Everything else has just been a filler line to remind me of what the contents are, and has no real impact or meaning to the story.

If it helps you to have an example, this story had no title. I literally blanked out and gave up. That was my process. What would you title it? What is your thinking process? How do you do it!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Self publishing n’ stuff

I’m supposed to be writing right now, but all I can think is zzzzzzz…. I went swimming today and am plumb tuckered.

Oh, I know! Here’s a semi-educational email I wrote today to a friend. It never fails to amaze me, the things I find tucked away in my brain. When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was empty out my pockets and see what treasures I’d collected over the course of the day. When people ask me questions and I actually have answers, it’s the same feeling, hahaha.


Would you recommend any particular self-publishing service?

 

I recommend Smashwords… it’s the only publishing service I know, though. It’s free and they distribute it to lots of other platforms. You’ll have to go through your book and do a fair amount of work to make sure it meets their epub formatting guidelines. They give you lots of advice on how to do that properly. Even though it distributes to about 30 small mysterious websites I’ve never heard of, the only place where I’ve sold books are the Smashwords site, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and iBooks. I had to sign my book up for Kindle separately from Smashwords, though. For some reason they didn’t have that one as a distributor.

If you’re serious about this you’ll want to investigate the pros and cons of some other sites. I’ve never done that so…

I had to break a few hearts and lose a couple potential readers because I didn’t have a print version of the book. Maybe one day… but right now it’d just be a fiscal calamity. There might be some bind-on-demand kind of places but I really haven’t looked into that, either.

 

What, if anything, can I do to promote a book?

 

Make sure you have a fantastic cover, and a really good micropitch to draw them in. You can pull views to the publishing page, but this is where they’ll get asked for money, and have to actually make their decision. Be careful not to mislead them in any way about the nature of the book; if you draw the wrong kind of audience who are expecting something else, they’ll hate your book no matter how good it is.

YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE. If you want to actually make money, you’re going to have to put in lots of man-hours. Touch as many people as you can with the links. Put links to the book in your email signature, sign off your online comments and posts with it. Find websites with likely readership and mention your work there. If you have a fearless and winning personality, you could take advantage of local opportunities, too. Little writer’s conventions and clubs abound. You could contact some bookstores or libraries and ask if they want a copy, or if you can do a reading in a coffee shop. Set up a stand on the sidewalk. Pass out business cards. Leave flyers on bulletin boards. Really maximize your efforts by finding the haunts of your niche audience and appealing to them there.

Eliminate obstacles for potential readers. Make your websites, links, etc VERY clear. Think in this way: you want the LEAST amount of clicks necessary for them to get to your book.

Build up suspense and momentum with a promised release date. Get as many people excited about this as you can, maybe build an email list or webpage for it. I failed at this when I tried to do it, but they say it makes a difference.

One thing I want for me is to get a couple more books up there. The more books you have, the more of an audience you’ll get, right? I read about this one girl who had a big string of 20 vampire novels she’d written for fun. She self-published them and people got addicted. If they bought one, they got addicted and bought a bunch more. She made a killing. Of course that’s a crazy popular genre anyway, or at least it was at the time.

Um… that’s about all I know for sure in this area. Marketing is where I’m failing right now, because I’m so damn lazy.

Social media is a big deal for a reason. Big possibilities for promotion with that. Big… possibilities. Go investigate. I don’t really know. You can use FB, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, WordPress, Instagram, Pinterest, Patreon, Kickstarter, Ko-Fi, etc all to great effect if you apply different principles to each one (I recommend you look up and check out each one of these if you haven’t investigated them before). Once again, this requires a time investment and I’m not sure about the exact application for each, because I don’t want that much shit in my life right now.

 

Is there some level of sales that I can reasonably expect?

 

Once again… you get what you give.

Honestly, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot. Unless you put in all that consistent work to promote it.

I put my book up on March 2016. I’ve sold a grand total of… drumroll… 29 books. I’ve had 102 sample downloads, so that’s actually a pretty good (almost 1/3) view-to-purchase ratio, and I’m proud. Like I said… not doing a great job of marketing this book.

From your personal network of friends, family, and blog audience, I’d expect maybe 5% to buy. Email lists are supposed to be a great resource. If you send an email blast to your blog email followers, and the book is written in the genre they expect (i.e. just like your blog), then a slightly higher percentage from there will buy.

Please don’t force anyone to read it. You’ll just upset them and get weird feedback.


 

The end, goodnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


One year checkup

 

I HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY BLOGGING FOR ONE YEAR. Bloggiversary? Am I allowed to say that word? It feels like a gross portmanteau… like synergy, or mayochup, or chillax, or meatplosion.

What a crazy year. I’ve learned so much. Even in the past week, I’ve learned so much. Can I even begin to quantify the learning I’ve learned in a year?

Ah, no, I can’t. Unfortunately I can’t remember what I learned. But I know it’s a lot.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned in just the past week:

  1. Listen to the red flags in every situation. Don’t do stupid things out of laziness. Cut carefully with knives. Use the pusher with the food processor. Do NOT do stupid things.
  2. Get your chronic cough checked out and fixed. You might get pneumonia and die.
  3. Don’t be a sedentary office worker; move. Or you might get pneumonia and die.
  4. Diet brain is a fucking menace. Eat your fats and proteins along with vegetables. I don’t know, you’ll figure it out. Do not ignore diet brain. You’ll end up chopping off digits.
  5. One cat will always be fat. What weight one loses, the other finds. This is an unassailable fact of life.
  6. Fingers heal like Wolverine. They refill and replace tissue with minimal scarring.
  7. Argue with your sister a little more when you don’t want something to happen. You can be just as stubborn as she is. Do it. Your fingers are your own and being tractable is not worth getting gauze stuck in the wound for days.
  8. People get gauze stuck in their wounds on purpose, then rip it out along with healing new tissue all the time. This called debriding the wound. I don’t understand why nice doctors would make people do this.
  9. David Tennant’s peculiar brand of crazy and rubber face feels like home. Watch more of his stuff. Something has got to fill the Doctor Who void…
  10. Dostoyevsky still blows your mind. Write like him. Except, with more lovable characters. …It could happen.
  11. You have too many sketchbooks. And only six good drawings?
  12. Breathe, relax. If you stress out about things like gauze in your wound, you’ll give yourself a hive.

 

So… thanks for a year of blogging.  You’re all nuts. I love you so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

On Finding Your Voice, sort of

People keep asking my advice lately.

Lol wut.

Well, I guess it’s fine. But I’m just a pair of eyeballs posing as a human being. Keep your salt shaker handy to liberally season anything I say. I will not be held responsible for the stupid things you do with my advice.

On having a voice:

When I was in writing classes people kept asking the teacher about how to develop their voice. It confused the hell out of me. What is a “voice?” As long as you’re not trying to be anyone else, you’re yourself right?

Unfortunately, I was so confused by the question I never paid attention to the answer. Or maybe the teacher just bullshitted so I forgot what they said. Bullshit answers tend to lay pretty light in the brain. You can remember them talking but not the words they spoke…
I think, though, that I finally learned what they were asking. They were still kids. They were asking the teacher who they were. Poor kids! Poor teacher!

I don’t know much, and everybody is different. What works for me may not work for you. But lately I keep hearing people talking about their inability to be creative. Not having a voice is a similar complaint, in a way. At least, the solution is the same.

Here goes:

Empty your brain. Upend all that garbage and start fresh, empty. Nature abhors a vacuum, right? The second you empty your brain, a thought will rush in to fill it.

This is fine. Use this. Put your pen to paper and start writing.

Writing poetry, for me, is a conversation with my subconscious. I’m always a little bit curious to see what it will say next. What little monster will pop out of the deep Id? What strange conclusion will be drawn from this inauspicious little starter word?

I read once that creative people actually have a stronger link with their subconscious than non-creative people. It’s that little touch of madness… too strong a link makes you unfit to live in a society; too weak a link, you’re a robot I guess. But all you robots, do not despair. If you envy the wobbly reality on this side of things, you can work on breaking down that wall. Start by emptying your brain. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Oh, you’re done emptying your brain already? Now write, or draw. The first random word or phrase that comes to mind, or the first line you draw. Kick it around. Follow where it leads. The Rationalist inside of you will tug on your sleeve and say, “hey… this is stupid, what is this shit?” Grab that rational person and upend them, over and over. You’ve ears only for your muse and her name is Crazy.

There is a thin, thin line between controlling your verbal rabbit chasing, and pure schizophrenic word salads. It’s like controlling a lucid dream. Very fine balancing act.

However, if you can master the art of tapping into your crazy, you will never be creatively blocked. Once I learned how to do this, I wrote my novel. Every time I found myself slowing down, not knowing where to go from here, I turned off my thinking brain and let the schizophrenic lead the leash for a few seconds. She never lets me down. Sometimes she takes me on a really strange, dumb, or unexpected journey, but if I just leave her to her own devices, she’ll sniff out the truffles. I think I mixed some metaphors there… schizophrenics aren’t good at finding truffles. Who knows, maybe they are.

How does this relate to finding your own voice? Well, I’ve always been an oddball, so I’ve always drawn or written odd things. A logical person will write logical things. And a normal person writes normal things. What if you’re ordinary? If you are, guess what? Ordinary people will love you. And there are a lot of ordinary people in the world. You’ll be a hit.

Help, I don’t have a voice! The anguished writer cried aloud, with her loud voice.

Yes, you do. It’s probably not the voice you wished you had. You can’t iron the uniqueness, or the normalness, out of yourself. That’ll only make you sad. Instead, embrace what you are. Accept the flaws. I must accept that I always write free verse with small words, frequently recurring words. Blah blah darkness blah blah time blah blah wild blah blah me I myself me. I get so bored of myself. I want to write like Edgar Allen Poe or Mark Twain, but that’s not happening. I’m too lazy to try, and if I did, it’d be stilted and wrong. It’d be more like an autotuned voice, or a helium voice.

You’ve got to be who you are. You’ve got to write what comes naturally. Don’t try to impress. Stay true. Don’t fake. Don’t act. Relax your mind and find that thin line between rabbit chasing and schizophrenia, and tread the edge. Don’t let the Rationalist hook you away. If you do this when you put pen to paper, then whatever you write or draw is pure untrammeled you. The hardest part is not about finding your voice; you already have it. It can’t leave you. The hardest part is shutting that inner critic up, and accepting the voice that you have.

Edit:: Conversations with these two are what inspired the above post. Read their stuff.

Lille Sparven speaks the raw truth:

www.lillesparven.com/2019/02/censuring-mirror.html?m=1

Paul Sunstone asks the good questions:

https://cafephilos.blog