Advice, Marketing, My Books, Publish, Social Media, Writing

Just say no more!

Publishing The Brevity of Roses was the fulfillment of a dream … and then it became a nightmare. It’s been nine months since publication day, so I’ve had time to gain a new perspective on what I did wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that marketing advice—like writing advice—should never be swallowed whole.

Those of you still looking forward to publication are probably working to “establish an online presence” because that’s usually #1 on the advice lists. If you, like me, are not a social butterfly, you’ve probably discovered that being a social media butterfly is no easier. Well, maybe a little easier because you don’t have to worry about your hair and clothes—unless you go all out and do video interviews. In any case, it takes a lot of your time.

While I should have been putting all my time and energy into writing another book, I spent gobs of it on Twitter. Gobs. What did I accomplish? I amassed almost 1,700 followers! YAY—um, no. Most of those followers are other authors hoping to sell me their books. Yes, I have a few friends there. That’s good. That’s also maybe 2% of my “followers”. I don’t think Twitter has helped me sell many books.

I also created a Facebook Author Page. I’ve never really done anything with it. Who am I supposed to connect with there? My target readers? Nope. Haven’t seen any. Mostly it’s authors supporting other authors. That’s wonderful, of course, but I already have that here on my blog.

And I joined SheWrites, Women On the Verge, Google+ and LinkedIn because I was advised to get my name out there. Be visible is the command. And what about Tumblr? Hey, there must be a way to use Pinterest as an author. What next? What next? What next?

How much of the last nine months did I spend writing my next book? Not a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned: I put the cart before the horse. Maybe when I have three or four or five books published (and another nearly ready) THEN I should spend a big chunk of my time “socializing” as an author.

Until then, I’ve picked the single online place where I’m comfortable, which is right here, and I’m letting the rest languish. I’m the real me here. And just being me feels great.

If you’re an author, have you found significant time spent on social media to be a benefit or a drain?

Book Reviews, Books, Doubt, Movies, Opinion, Reader, Real Life, Time, Writing

Hell is being sick … and not being able to read!

By a strange coincidence, a virus felled me the day after I saw the movie Contagion. That was bad enough, but the topper was that for a couple days, I was too sick to even read. You can only sleep so much, and with my need for glasses, it’s not easy watching television lying down. And writing—even to just think the words—fuhgeddaboutit!

So, as much as I hate the word bored, I have to say I was. I kept thinking about that Twilight Zone episode where the man who wants only to be left alone with his books, gets his wish, but then isn’t able to read because he breaks his glasses. Hell, indeed. Today, I’m about 90% back to normal.

When I could read again, I finished The Help, which I’d started before I got sick, and read a little more of another one, Joy for Beginners, which I’d started over a month ago, but set aside.

For the record, I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I mentioned in a previous post. I was astounded to learn the degree to which one woman’s cells have been instrumental in worldwide medical and biological research for over fifty years. My only reserve is discomfort over the way the author chose to portray Henrietta’s family.

I also loved The Help. It’s been a long time since I read a book of that length so quickly. I hope to see the movie soon, though I’ve heard it’s not as good as the book. Typical. I try not to read reviews before I read a book, so afterward I was surprised to read negative remarks written as though the reader expected The Help to be more history than fiction.

Despite what the cover says, Joy for Beginners is not constructed as a traditional novel, and eventually I found it less frustrating to read it as a collection of connected short stories. The writing is pretty. The reason I’m taking so long to finish the book is that I don’t care enough about the characters.

As for Contagion, it was a disappointment. The acting was good, the story premise good, the execution of that premise, not good. It started out well, developed a bit, but then waned, and finally, fizzled out. Gee. I seem to be doing nothing but blogging reviews lately, or rather opinions—which is exactly how you should view them.

I don’t really have much to say about writing because I’m sort of stumbling around again. This is a list of the writing problems I encountered this month:

  1. I kept changing my mind on which book to work on first. (Solved … I think.)
  2. I lost sight of writing for myself and started wondering what readers would think.
  3. I started worrying about who I’ll get to beta read and how I can pay an editor.

In short, I’ve been fussing and fighting with writing, but not doing much of it. I have one more novel to read, and then I’m hanging up my library card for a while, so I can do what I’m supposed to do. Write. Right?

Blog Stuff, Real Life, Time, Writing

Silly things I do to waste writing time

My husband has dubbed me a chief procrastinator. What he doesn’t know is that sometimes I only seem to be putting off something. Sometimes I’m working out some aspect of the job before I start it. Sometimes I dread it so much, I need to sidle into it so I’ve begun before I realize I’m doing it.

And yes, sometimes, I’m just putting it off. For weeks, I’ve been saying I need to get down to serious work on my next novel, and yet here I am saying it again. I do have legitimate Real Life distractions. And I’m still working out some plot points in the back of my mind, so maybe not all is lost. Still, in part, I’m just wasting time. I find myself making lists. Most of these are to-do lists, which I know, even as I make some of them, I may never look at again.

But I’m capable of making even more useless lists. Consider the following one. I use a stats program that records the location of visitors to this blog. A ridiculous number of countries worldwide have shown up there. Closer to home, I’ve had visitors from every one of The United States of America. By cross-matching by time, I can track where those who leave comments live. Naturally, the info led to a list showing which state has interacted most with me.

  1. California (36 distinct visitors left comments)
  2. Illinois and Texas (tied at 13)
  3. Oregon (12)
  4. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania (tied at 11)

Other “research” shows I’ve had visitors from the following states, but none of them left a comment: Alabama, District of Columbia, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont. Are readers from those states just less chatty?

“What about other English speaking countries?” I ask myself. Turns out, visitors from all over Canada have left comments—except those who came from Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. From the UK, I’ve exchanged comments with visitors from numerous cities in England, a couple in Wales, but not a one in Ireland or Scotland.

Does any of this knowledge matter a whit? Of course, not! Will I tailor my posts to appeal more to those in Montana, Iowa, Newfoundland, or Saskatchewan? Nope. I’m just wasting time.

Now, about those games on Facebook …

Your turn: Do you ever waste writing time? If so, how?

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