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Promoting my e-book among the general public

Whew.  What a day.  Now, before I really get started, I wanted to inform you dear readers on exactly what this posting is about.  Well, as the title already pretty much gives it away, this will be about promoting Torn Lace out in the public, and my thoughts and success of this experience.  Because I did have what I thought was a good way of going about this.  And what is this “brilliant” tactic that I speak of?  Simply, ordering a butt load of custom made business cards via third party, then going out to select book stores with the aim of engaging fellow readers or authors on my work.  And like my work, I wanted a different way of going about things then the usual internet promotion which seems of late as stale as that type of canned laughter you would hear from a bad sitcom.  

So after work, I changed clothes, put on my sports coat, got the business cards, and went out into the strange, and sometimes scary world on the other side of the Bay, otherwise known as San Francisco.  The ride over had its usual eclectic riders from all stations of life; the well to do, the homeless, the ghetto, and so forth.  Reaching the end of my BART ride, I got off at 16th and Mission, then made my way over to one of my stops.  

Entering, I checked out the readers to get a feel of what mood they’re in, what genre they were browsing, and so forth before I made my approach.  The first potential reader turned out to be someone who was published by an actual publisher in contrast to my self-published route.  “Well, I just recently submitted my work through different channels like smashwords and-”  “Oh, I’m a published author myself.”  As I started to feel the muscles in my left hand fumble, then drop my card back into its lonely abode.  Well, the conversation wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the idea.  In the end, she was nice enough to accept the card and (maybe) check out Torn Lace.  

Gathering my almost year long experience as a Pet Detective/Sales guy, I approached this other woman with a bit more confidence than before.  In a way, I’m kinda proud of myself, as dealing with my diagnosed social anxiety disorder that has crippled my social and professional life is quite difficult to overcome in any type of setting.  So, flubbing as badly as I do verbally with my current job, I managed to hand out another business card by promising that “OMG!  This story is the strangest damn thing you will EVER read.  That’s why I self published.  Not because I lack the raw talent to attract the notice of mainstream publishers…………….of course.”  The conversation went kinda like that as well………………….of course.  Anyways, it was great to hear at least two people receptive to my approach.  There weren’t that many customers left in the store who weren’t already just reading, so I left.  

The other two bookstores I visited didn’t pan out so well, but honestly, I was hesitant to do any cold type approaches in such claustrophobic settings with fellow readers who looked very, very serious.  So maybe that’s my own fault by being too cautious.  I dunno.  Maybe it’s because I still have this casual, Barnes & Noble idea of a bookstore that has classical music or jazz piped in from somewhere and people drolling on and on about nothing, that I think it applies to every one.  So I just feel guilty for disturbing people just browsing books where they can overhear my entire conversation with others.  And as I’ve learned so far with my current employer, there is a fine line between having good relations with the store you are demo-ing in, and completely pissing them off.  I definitely do not want to piss off the bookstore where I do my approaches.  The ride back to my home pad left me contemplating a lot of things.  

So what now?  Well, honestly…………….I can see the positive…………and can feel the negative.  The positive so far, seems that approaching fellow readers is a good thing in a certain type of social environment, but maybe not so well when all they want is to just browse and maybe find a good book for the night.    So with that in mind, when I next try my approach in a bookstore, I will probably visit when they have more social gatherings like book signings or readings.  Something where breaking that taboo silence is not really frowned upon for that duration.  I’ll let you all know my other mis-adventures in my different approaches later on.  I think I’ll try the same tactics when I go back to my local community college this Monday.  

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It’s done! It’s done!

Yes!  The sweet smell of a finished product that took more than a year of my somewhat precious time is now complete.  What a sweet smell.  What a journey.  Through initial character development, to fleshing out the actual world, to putting it all on paper, to countless writes and more rewrites…I’m exhausted.  Done, done, done.  Torn Lace is done.   Or as done as It’ll ever be.  The final product turned into something I never really expected, but really, adds a positive tone I’ve never before considered.  So what now?  Promoting time, that’s what.  Some consider the hardest step.  

The consensus of how to go about this seems to be rather straightforward if you peruse around the internet enough.  You can create blogs like I have done using the power of social media to help fuel the flames, or even friends and family all seem like viable options.  After all, those tactics seemed to work for past successful authors to some degree.  Why not do the same old, same old?  

Problem is, is that like too much of anything is just bad, too much of a good marketing plan can saturate e-book commerce.  It’s like if everyone copied In & Out’s successful fast food tactics and flooded every commercial strip with the same food items, the appeal would wear off.  Unfortunately, it looks as if the same is happening with e-book publishing.  Maybe too many are looking for the success of an E.L James or the like, because the past benefits of going independent are quickly falling out of favor.  

So what to do?  I have in plan something that I’ve long considered as a tactic.  I’m not saying what it is now, as that would spoil the surprise, but once Torn Lace is uploaded to Apple’s ibook library, then I can start with my long planned marketing push.  Once that happens, I’ll get back to all of you with the results.  Take care readers.  

 

 

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It’s the characters that characterize our stories

Just like I promised, I am back with another blog post.  Whoop dee doo.  

This topic is an interesting one.  Not saying that my past blogs were dull in any way, but this one in particular hits on a theme I’ve noticed while perusing through endless pages, and chapters, and books on how to write.  Because throughout all of them, I’ve noticed one piece of advice after another that sticks out.  Not the pitfalls of using adverbs.  Not the use of dialogue to explain the obvious.  But the very structure of characters themselves.  

What are their hopes or wants?  Why did he or she turn into a jock?  What made them break character and finally fight back against the bad guys?  How did they fight back?  

In short, what makes them human?  Honestly, I’ve never really gave much consideration to just how important this first step is in the overall story structure.  I suppose that maybe the very world that writers create can be so large, and sometimes so fantastical, that it’s very easy to lose sight of the little things we create.  And if we do then no matter how many car chases, romantic romps, or tight twists we throw onto the page, it all feels a little flat towards the finish line.  

This blog post will be a little short today.  Oh well.  Hope you all had a happy holiday.  

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I’m back! Topic for today is…boring protagonists.

Woe is me, woe is me.  School is over with (until the middle of January), I don’t work until Friday, and I’m waiting on some beta readers to help pour over my work.  

That means blogging time again!  Yay!  

So, considering that Torn Lace has been rewritten three times now, I’ve found out that my main protagonist is actually quite a dull person.  Now, this was completely intentional.  I’ve known plenty of well meaning, good natured people with their hearts in the right place.  

Only they were as dumb as the bad guy rambling into exposition towards the end of the movie, instead of just killing the good guy right there and then.  

So, should I just let that character trait stand?  After all, if a character is complex is other ways, or shows a sort of physical intelligence, wouldn’t that stand out as well?  

I’m reminded of when I was a kid and fell in love with Star Wars.  I didn’t think of it at the time, but looking back now, Luke Skywalker was a boring character.  I mean, besides complaining to Obi Wan about Darth Vader, and locking lips with his sister, I can’t really remember any memorable line or action he performed in that 1977 movie.  In short, he was a boring protagonist.  

Now, juxtaposition that with someone like Vader.  Cool, calm, deadly, self-assured, and willing to do anything to spread the power of the Empire.  

Thoughts?  

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Editing on the cheap

     Well hello there.  It’s been well over a week so far since my last blog.  Which in blogger land, is usually something like a year away if you don’t keep up with it.  It’s like a celebrity who dodges the spotlight until their star power fades from view.  So, here at last, is my latest blog.  I suppose my last one was something of a frustrated rant.  But I felt kinda stupid about some stuff at the time, so I lashed out in anger.  I suppose it’s one thing to have your work ripped apart before your very eyes and realize it’s for your own good, but another to just get dogged on for grammatical errors that I’m sure most English majors probably pull their teeth out over.  But, the past is the past, and I soldier onward towards my writing and finding my audience.  

     And so the topic for my blog today is…editing…specifically…on the cheap.  The harsh truth about writing for a mass audience is the fact that so few get accepted no matter how many query letters they send out.  And sometimes this can end in tragedy as what happened to John Kennedy Toole.  If you’ve never heard of him, he was an American author who committed suicide after suffering through such a plethora of rejection letters, that he ended it all out of depression.  So for many would be writers, the introduction of the e-book has been a godsend to circumvent that elusive ivory tower of the publishing world.  The only problem, is the amount of work out there that badly needs a good publishing editor to sort out not only the grammatical mistakes, but also maybe throw out some suggestions as far as story and character development are concerned.  So the solution?  Hire your own editor of course!  Plenty of indie authors have and continue to do just that.  The only problem?  The cost.  Many of the more decent and above editors can easily command a salary in the thousands for a contract that would help with the amateurs among us.  So if you’re broke like I am, then what to do?  

     Well, you could do nothing.  You could just edit to the best of your ability and god help you, your work is well written enough to not work about such trivial problems.  But more realistically, you probably need some more professional guidance.  One solution I’ve came across is manuscript editing software.  Or what is more commonly known as autocrit.  Supposedly, this software is great at not only grammar, but also slow pacing, cliches of all types, and overall just a better, more tight story.  

http://www.autocrit.com/

Since WordPress isn’t giving me the option to uplink this for some reason, the web address is just above in case you are wondering.  I’ve never tried the software out myself, as I’m still deep in third draft territory, but after I’m done, I’ll probably give it a whirl and see what affects it has on my fourth.  Any thoughts or opinions on this one dear reader?  

 

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Do the writing snobs of the internet really help or just hinder creative writing?

Have you ever visited a writers forum before, felt possibly some kindred spirit between struggling writers, signed up with great hopes and maybe some trepidation, only to realize that most likely most of those users are really just the Debbie Downer types who don’t really care about offering any beneficial critique?  Who really just care mostly about tearing down, and shredding any questions or work you put in before they actually see your work or really get to know you?

I dunno.  It may be just a case of “who am I to judge”, but let’s face it; the internet is nothing more really than a cultural wasteland of dubious benefit that really has only helped porn addicts get their fix without having to walk down to the nearest porn shop and spend forty bones on some fetish gang bang like back in the (ahem) good ole’ days.  And really, what does the internet offer that can’t be had anywhere else?  

Want information on that hard trig assignment due on Friday?  Well by jove!  Head to the nearest library!  Having problems paying for an electrician for a wiring job?  Well hey!  Once again your local friendly library is just around the corner!  Music?  There are still some indie record shops out there that cater to many genres.  

The point is, is that relying on what some stranger thousands of miles away who’s supposedly some “expert”, is kinda like allowing some dude you met at your new job take care of that vintage 1968 Ford Mustang that you spent years renovating?  Sure, he may actually work as a mechanic and know his stuff, but would you really trust anything this guy or gal says let alone does?  Enough to take a few spins out on the freeway?  Enough to take advice on any upgrades?  

My advice?  Engage and form a bond between a college professor who you know knows what they’re talking about.  State, UC, private, hell, even community would work fantastic.  That way at least, they most likely know the contact of someone who knows someone else who is actually reputable when it comes to what you write.  Just don’t sit around typing to strangers who will always just remain strangers.  

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What makes a good story?

Is reading such a subjective point of view that there really is no such thing as a bad book?  This is a simple thought I’ve had about an hour ago that I’m surprised found legs inside of my imagination.  Is it the flow, strong deep characters, or the story itself? 

An interesting analogy to this would be that Tom Green movie Freddie Got Fingered that came out years ago.  Openly vilified by professionals and amateurs alike, for some reason, I ended up loving that movie possibly for all the reasons everyone else hated it.  Which is strange, considering that I never really dug his television show.  Anyways, I did a lot of soul searching on why exactly I loved this movie considering the vitriol it still receives to this day.  And then it hit me.  It was original.  That’s why.  It wasn’t a sequel, or based off a graphical novel, or an actual written novel.  No, it was written and produced by Tom Green.  A completely original work.  And now that I look back, that’s the reason why. 

As long as someone actually tries something different, then no matter how terrible the execution or content may be, at least the original creator is trying something different.  And I can respect that. 

So with that little rant being said, is it originality itself that makes a good story?  Something that’s never been tried or thought of before?  We can use another analogy if we want.  That if a novel is structured the same way as a big blockbuster movie, would that make it a terrible book?  What makes a good story?  When I get some followers, then maybe I can get some opinions in here. 

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