My Game Plan Through 2020

My book schedule through the end of next year.

Where I Have Been

It seems like only yesterday that I started writing. It’s hard to believe that it was over two years ago. I have learned a great many things, mostly through mistakes. My first book, “Country Boy,” was released in February of 2018. My first short novel, “Joshua and the Shadow of Death,” published in October of that year. “Humor Deeper Than A Holler,” came out in February of 2019, and “Harold and the Angel of Death,” released in April.

There has been a lot of labor, money, and tears invested in the first four books. “Humor Through The Ages” is due out later this year. Despite my physical limitations, I have pushed hard. This effort may be the hardest I have pushed myself in a couple of decades. I have been learning a lot about the book industry, in addition to how to become a good storyteller.

Where I Am Going

As I grow in knowledge around advertising and successful book sales, I hope to share my experience with others. However, at this moment, many of my tactics are still in the proof of concept stage. What needs to happen to get these ideas beyond POV? Book sales.

Although I love writing, no author can write book after book and not stop to pay attention to the business. After all, at its heart, self-publishing is a small business, and our books are our products.

The last quarter of this year and most of next year will be a sales focus. Additionally, I will be working on the third book in the Berserker Series, “Bill and the Sting of Death.” Also, I will continue to post weekly short stories. I love to share these, and they help in the continual improvement of my writing and editing skills.

Join Me In The Journey

Are you a reader who enjoys my books? I hope you will stick with me through the coming year. Next year promises to be full of challenges and adventures, both real and imagined. Are you a writer? I hope my stories of success and failure will aid you in your journey.

I look forward to sharing the coming months with all of you.

Alone

It is not good to be alone.

Ahmed walked through the steel and glass canyon. He shivered, and his chest tightened as the cold afternoon breeze cut through his blazer. Ahmed distanced himself from the mass of humanity crossing the street.

Two blocks later, he arrived at the familiar breezeway and hurried to an unoccupied table in the empty plaza. Ahmed closed his eyes and let the sun warm his cold face. A chair slid from the other side of the table, and a dank smell wafted in the air. Ahmed opened his eyes. Before him sat a man in dirty clothes, and a threadbare overcoat. The stranger smiled and stuck out his crusty hand.

“Hi, people call me George. Sorry if I disturbed you. I just needed to sit a spell.”

Ahmed kept his cold hands in his pockets. “I don’t want to offend you, but there are lots of other tables.”

George pulled back his hand, “I see.”

Ahmed felt his face flush and quickly interjected, “It’s nothing personal, I came here to be alone for a few minutes.”

George nodded and said, “Isn’t that a coincidence, I used to come here seeking solitude myself.”

“But not today.”

“I do as I please. Look, I used to look miserable like you. I bet it’s your job and maybe the family.” George held up his hand, “No, you don’t have to answer, I can see it in your face. Well, I got tired of everything, too, and I left it all behind. Now I live free and do what I want.”

Ahmed leaned forward, “Did you have a family?”

George stared blankly up into the sky. “I used to. The pressures at my job and home; I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. So, I quit work and walked out. My wife filed for divorce after I didn’t come back home. It took the papers a while to find me.”

George’s hollow eyes looked into Ahmed’s, “I have to admit, I do miss the kids. Eventually, my wife remarried, so the girls got a new dad.” George shrugged, “Nobody seems to miss me.”

“I’m not sure I want to walk out on everyone and everything.”

George waved him off, “Give it time, you will.”

Ahmed stood up, “I appreciate the visit. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll head back to work.”

“That’s the spirit. Before you go, any chance you can give a fella a couple of bucks for his advice?”

Ahmed pulled out a twenty and handed it to George. They shook hands, and Ahmed left, determined never to return.

Pondering Social Media

Is social media a productive platform for authors?

Every author is told that they will fail without social media. Also, we are told that the more social media sights we partake in, the more success we are likely to have. However, I am finding this is not necessarily the case.

I have been writing for almost two years. I have two books out that are small anthologies of short stories. I have a suspense novel published, and I am about to release my second suspense novel in just a couple of months. I have used social media and those who influence social media to try and boost book sales. At the end of this period, I can honestly say I have seen little to no benefit in using these resources.

However, I will narrow this down a bit, so I avoid painting every social media site with the same broad brush. I tried Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Of these four sites, only Facebook has given me any sort of value. So, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Facebook has been great for me. I will start off with a caveat by saying I have been on Facebook for a long time, and so my first one hundred or so followers on my author page came from my personal list of friends. This number expanded out as I did my first book shows and shared with people about my author site. Additionally, I used awareness ads to get even more people involved. I try and post something on my author page daily, and many times it has nothing to do with writing. Often it will be memes or something else humorous. Also, I do livestream videos as well as connecting to Youtube videos. This interaction has helped me start to grow my base of readers. Readers who I know buy and read my books.

The Bad

Let me start with the low hanging fruit. Twitter is horrible. It is quite possibly the worse social media site on the internet if you are looking for positive interaction. For all the post promotions, and focused, constant promoting, I have never found a single reader who closely followed my work or interacted directly with me. Those that do interact usually are people who are trying to sell their services to authors. Then there is the entire subculture on Twitter that can pounce on you if you post a topic they do not like. I have avoided this scenario, but I don’t want to hang out in places that force me to walk on eggshells. For this reason, my twitter account is inactive most of the time.

Facebook carries its own set of issues. The company has allowed itself to be bullied by the news as well as political and special interests of all stripes. As a result, it is now trying to police the social community rather than encourage interaction and bring people together. This means most posts are seen by fewer and fewer people unless you pony up some money to pay Facebook to introduce your content to the masses. This pay to play model is very discouraging, and frankly, you are better off spending your ad money on directed ads to your books on Amazon and other vendors.

Tumblr is a dying platform. It was once a great place to post your blog and get discovered. However, its user base continues to shrink as people spend more time on social media.

The Ugly

I mentioned Facebook’s pay to play format that it seems to be pushing. In addition, all social media platforms now practice censorship. In an alarming twist, authors and writers can find themselves once more being ousted from the global society for “dangerous” views. Anyone who studies history and the inhuman treatment of creators during the reformation and enlightenment periods should feel alarmed.

Politics has become the new religion, and both sides wield it to silence those who disagree with them. Much like the Catholic church tried to stop the printing of the Bible in everyday language, large swaths of political fanatics try to silence any point of view that differs from theirs. My advice is to use social media where necessary, but do not tie yourself to it. Make sure your website stays up to date, and that you crosspost to places like Goodreads and others should your social media account suddenly be found suspended one day for a book, or point of view you innocently shared that someone found offensive.