Thursday, June 30, 2016

HEY Facebook, Enough With Your Passive Aggressive Terms of Service!!

Today I log into my Facebook account to find that, once again, I’m restricted from joining or posting in groups, and instead of the typical three day suspension, they are bending me over for eight days! It wouldn’t be such a big deal, except, my strategy for an Amazon giveaway I started yesterday, is heavily reliant on Facebook groups. So, yeah, thanks a lot to the douche bag who likely caused all of this because they couldn’t just delete my post and message me, or even block me. Yeah, I read your rules when I signed up and don’t add groups to my plan that don’t allow promos. I try to follow the rules, but Facebook keeps changing the lines!

Look, I know you’re trying to rule the world and all that and make a profit while doing it, and I can respect that. Really, I can. I recognize that your free platform was designed to funnel me into paid  services to make my content spread more readily and that I shouldn’t expect the same results as I might get if I were able to spend $1,000.00 a day, or even a $100, or let’s get real, some days even $10. Yes, I am a starving artist, but I’m not asking for any handouts from you. You offered. You offered to allow me to participate and my only request is this: make up your mind what that means and write it the hell down!

So, I am writing a passive aggressive post to  vent my frustration, which I know you’ll never read, because you didn’t read the first 500 notes I left on your “help” messaging . And no, your stupid link to a vague article describing exactly how vague the whole thing is not helpful, but you already knew that, you wrote the article that way on purpose so I couldn’t claim any expectations, am I right? AGGGGGGH!

Just tell us the freaking rules, already!

The Facebook terms of  service read like a contract with the Devil. If you’ve never read them, it’s pretty much too late for you to claim sovereignty over any of what you’ve added there. It’s all about them. They are using us and most of us know it. We’re not building OUR audience, we are just a very small piece integrating THEIRS. I get that, but I just wish they would tell us what the limits of this free relationship entail. 

  • ·       Tell me, how many groups can I request to join in one 24 hour period, seriously, label that stuff and I’ll follow your rules.

  • ·       Tell me how many times the same post can be shared without it becoming a problem. I’m not talking thousands, or even hundreds of times, either, like a couple dozen in groups larger than some entire Latin American countries!

  • ·       Please, for the love of all that is Holy, provide a warning when your freaking invisible line is on the horizon. I’ll play by the rules, but for Pete’s sake, lay them down!!!

·       It’s not like you’re getting nothing out of this, we know you’re selling our data and I expect something in exchange. Come on, before you rape my privacy, at least dinner first, is that too much to ask?

Other platforms manage to do it!

It’s not that they have rules, restrictions, or limits. I get that. They don’t want me plastering my book flyers on every flat surface in the city, but come on! Facebook acts like that passive aggressive “friend” that has buttons on top of buttons and the only way to know you are going to push one is after it’s happened. But it’s not like there aren’t other platforms out here providing free and premium services. They’re just better at drawing the lines!

  • ·       Most terms of service clearly outline what is and is not acceptable, or better yet, it’s just built into the software! Don’t want me posting 500 times today? Just make 499 my last time and tell me, come back tomorrow! There's no need to lock me out of services, or my whole damn account on a whim. There's really not!

  • ·       Clearly outline what I will get when I engage your paid services! Will I be served up on 1000 profiles, or 10,000, you know, you just won’t tell us.

  • ·       Stop changing the effectiveness of tools to “improve my experience” it’s not about me, it’s about selling more ads. Profiles, then pages, then groups slowly losing reach isn’t about making conversation better. We’re grownups, let us filter our own newsfeed.

·       The frustrating part? Just like that passive aggressive friend that gets in my grill for no good reason, then won’t talk to me the next time, you’re the best game in town, and I hate  myself for helping you make it that way!

It’s getting harder to have a successful “hustle”

Facebook is just one symptom of a societal disease in which cash rules every thing, and that is the real problem. It used to be that a guy with $5 could print up some flyers and if he walked far enough and handed out enough flyers, he could make a thing happen, but more and more all of the entrances to the success highway known as “The American Dream” are all toll roads. It sucks. They are not only sucking us into a never ending cycle of spending, but they are taking our power too. 

  • ·       When everything requires cash, it can all be controlled, filtered, and throttled, demanding more and more to get the same results.

  • ·       Crowd sourcing is the wave of the future and it works on human capital, not cash. Wake up and rejoin the revolution you helped to start.

  • ·       Cutting the hustler off at the knees by asking for his wallet is a dumb move. Those that trade hustle for promotion will make their cash, then become paying customers, but if they have to pay to get in the game, many will never even start.

·       We’re dumbing the conversation down by accepting and using this system. It cannot help but move toward the lowest common denominator. It just happens that way!

So, facebook, I’m not rage quitting, or storming out, I just needed to get this off my chest. Yes, you are a miracle of the modern age, where I can relate to over a billion people from the comfort of my arm chair, or a half billion, or a quarter billion, or whichever part you decide to let me access today. Just please, consider making some real rules so we know what to expect. We will respect them, but this, this is just bullshit.

So, anyway, I'm taking this as sign from the universe that me and Facebook need to see other people, Google + has been calling, guess she didn't leave town after all. If you have a minute, help out a fellow human and share my book. It's free, and it's really great. You might even like it yourself, but my ability to share has been temporarily curtailed. so, I'll take all the help I can get.

JACKED up Amazon link :   Thanks!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

3 Things I Learned by Giving My Book Away on Amazon

I started writing fiction when I was fourteen. That was 31 years ago, but I didn’t get serious about selling my fiction until recently although over the course of time I have helped other authors complete and market their works. Somehow, it took this long for me to begin believing enough in my own stories to  become their champion instead of expecting someone else to do it.

After finishing All JACKED  Up, I decided to publish it in three parts and then a compendium to include all three of the others to maximize the free giveaway promotion, keep the price low while still making some profit and get the conversation started without feeling like I was spamming the same book daily for months at a time. 

This is the first in a series, The Origin Dime Chronicles, which is a combination of several ideas I have worked on over the years and I have at least two other full novels planned, but it’s set in a Multiverse, so who knows what might be next? In the course of launching it, I’ve spent quite a bit of time promoting and giving away my stories and I’ve learned a few things that might come in useful to other writers. Here are three of them. 

People are A**holes sometimes

As horrendous as it sounds, there are actually people who will try to destroy your free book with a horrible review. In the business, they are often called Book Trolls. These people are typically authors of some sort themselves and often have high scoring Amazon review accounts. You can recognize a troll because they won’t just have the one star review they left on yours, there will be many with their name on them. So, here’s what you need to know. 

  • ·       Take a breath. Even if this is your first review, it won’t kill you. If you know your story is good, don’t worry, there will be good reviews soon enough.

  • ·       Don’t fall prey to the desire to destroy them. It won’t do any good. They live for that and the more angry they make you, the more they laugh. Plus, it’s considered bad form.

  • ·       Thank them for their review, yes, seriously! Thank them and if they had any valid points, mention those in your comment. Be the bigger person. Your audience is watching.

  • ·       Apply their advice if it fits. My troll pointed out some errors that got introduced by some formatting software, like misplaced apostrophes, yeah, that the best she could come up with.

Whether they are having a bad day, or they are genuinely mean, don’t worry. They won’t be back and if they are, have some fun by pointing out your work can’t be that bad, they came back for more. Trust me on this, if you wrote a good story, you’ll find your audience and you’ll get good reviews.

There are a lot of places that will list free books on Amazon

While it’s hard to get free publicity for your book at regular price, when it is on discount, or free, you can get it shared in literally hundreds of places. Here’s a link to one of the biggest lists I know of for free promo sites. Not all of them are equal, so do a little homework, but put your link wherever they will let you, it helps. A lot. 

  • ·       Pay attention to the rules and follow them. Many of these sites have too many authors to care much about you and will ban you if you don’t follow the rules.

  • ·       Optimize each profile and listing completely. The more you add, like your photo, book cover and description, the better. This is a free ad. Use it!

  • ·       Pay attention to the paid add ons. Some of them are great, but if you are paying to get tweeted to a following of 1900 when you already have 2400 followers, that seems counterproductive

  • ·       Check with other authors and get recommendations on paid services. It’s the only real way to know what has worked, but that is no guarantee it will sell your book. Trial and error is the best way to find out.

Every link you leave to your website, social media and book sales pages is off page SEO. This stuff is worth its weight in gold and authors that do it right are easy to find, just google their names. They’re everywhere.

It takes a lot of work to market a book for free

In my case, this is not a primary source of income and I don’t have a lot of extra cash to invest, so I don’t have many other options at the moment, but you can spend time, or money. Nothing comes for “free”. I have determined that I can better spend time, but in your case, the right paid promotions might make sense.

  • ·       It’s not a one time process. You’ll need to post and monitor your promotions daily during a give away.

  • ·       Make sure you alternate your messaging and talk about the book, with quotes, etc. Keep it fun, use images, tag others, mention others, start a conversation.

  • ·       Pay attention to the rules. On Facebook especially, breaking page and group posting etiquette can get your account locked down, which is frustrating in the middle of a give away.

  • ·       Don’t give up. If this is your first book, don’t expect a miracle. The working authors I know say 8 to 10 books in is where it starts to level out and build real momentum.

Be friendly, be engaging, remember you are building an audience with each post. Talk to them, not at them. Share, don’t sell and most importantly, no matter what anyone says, smile and don’t lose your sense of humor. After all, if this works out, you’ll be getting paid to make up stories and that’s pretty bad ass, right?

So, want to find out what all the fuss is about? Get my books!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In Which I discuss the Origin Dime and Explain What JACKED is all About (sort of)

When you write a book, you get the inevitable question, “What is it about?” and you can never really answer this question to anyone’s satisfaction, because to you, the book is about one thing and for them it will be about something else. When it comes to fiction, most people really mean, what happens in your story? So, I thought I would try to answer a few questions I’ve had about JACKED. 

The Origin Dime Chronicles, what does that mean?

Well, if there are multiple dimensions. (I don’t know, are there? I think there might be) Which one came first? I suggest that the Origin Dime or “original dimension” is the one that all others spur off of. Yeah, heady stuff, right? So, Jack is born in that dimension and may be the only one that can save it. 

What would you compare it to?

To be honest, there’s not much I would compare it to. I like to think if Tim Dorsey suddenly decided to write Sci Fi, it might go something like JACKED, but I’m not set on that answer either. Others have compared it to Douglas Adams and one even said Ash Vs Evil Dead, which is a comparison I love,  although I don’t really feel like my work is that dark, although others keep telling me it is. My goal is that Jack can find a way to save the multiverse and maybe even redeem something from the Shadoe Librarians. 

Is it a comedy?

Er, sort of? It’s funny to me and a lot of readers have agreed, but it’s very slapstick, I guess in some ways. My style is pretty sarcastic and kind of hardboiled, in my view, at least. I tried to incorporate some humor and there are a lot of fantastical elements, but it’s got it’s darker moments too and I was not trying to write a comedy, per se. But, I guess when you have two characters named Thing One and Thing Two, people are going to make assumptions. 

It’s too icky for me, don’t you think it’s creepy?

Well, yeah, but I love campy zombie movies and farce. So, there are moments that are a bit over the top, like when two 6 foot tall Cockroach guards get exploded all over our hero and his companions. So, yeah, that’s kind of icky, I guess. I’ve lived enough places where we couldn’t get rid of the things that I am pretty much immune to their ick factor, I suppose. (old houses, not dirty houses, especially in neighborhoods where old homes are torn down and the damn things migrate)

The Shadoe Librarians feel a lot like  dementors or Wring Wraiths.

Yes, and both of those feel a lot like banshees and other elemental boogie men from past mythology, especially Welsh. But, I think you’re going to find that my Shadoes are waaaay more scary than either of those. They don’t just have evil intent,  but they are organized with motives of their own. So, there’s that. I don’t apologize for being inspired by great story tellers like Tolkien and Rowling. Why should I? They owe almost everything they wrote to someone, Tolkien didn’t invent dragons, trolls, goblins, dwarves or elves, he just developed the mythology to a new level.

Your first book was really short, why did you write it that way?

I didn’t, intentionally. I actually wrote all three parts of the first book as one novel, but when I  shared the first “novella” with a friend, just as a sample of the part I was happy with, she suggested breaking it up and publishing it as shorter reads. So, I did. I don’t know if I’ll do that again. It kind of depends on whether it catches hold. When all three pieces are published here in a couple of weeks, I plan on releasing them as a print novel in one cover. So, JACKED, JACKED up, Sky JACKED will be the three novellas and All JACKED Up, will be the full novel title.

I heard the third segment ends on a cliff hanger, so do you intend to continue this story?

YES! Definitely! I want Jack and Madison to fall in love, if they both manage to survive the Shadoes. I want to develop more anarchical/libertarian themes and I have so much to talk about and so much for them to do. I mean, I set up a universe that is a multiverse, so hell yeah, I intend to keep writing it until people stop reading it! BUT, spoiler alert, Madison will be the star of the second book and I think I will keep the serial novella format for at least that one. Tentatively I am calling it MAD, so there’s something to look forward to, hopefully by the end of the summer! YEAH!

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, obviously, I’ve acknowledged my influence from Lewis Carrol, whose work I loved as a kid and still do today. I’m also a huge fan of L Frank Baum and many other fantasy writers, including Tolkien, Rowling and Lewis (I’ve directed the Wizard of Oz twice on stage) and I think that’s coming into the next book. There’s a lot of spooky stuff about him, I think he understood multiple dimensions too. If you like Lewis Carrol, read JACKED, you’re gonna love it!