Okay… true confessions? I’m only 53. Not 83. But kids today… So as I’ve posted before, I hired The Book Nymph PR to handle my Book Blog Tour (which is currently in progress – I’ll file my “report” when it concludes next week – the jury’s still out) but as we were talking, Kenya described a “Facebook Launch Party,” and it sounded like a good idea. So I said yes.
Now here’s where I didn’t know it, but an age gap rumbled down on plates… and tiny fissure crept along the crust of the top soil…
Kenya is of the age of “video gaming” – I’m of the age of television producers who scoffed when our nieces and nephews begged for a Gameboy… (stop snickering – if you even know what one is!) the graphics were hideous – “virtual reality” was a crappy animation with no story whatsoever. (Never mind that the gaming industry is triple what Hollywood did last year and it’s the new 800 lb. Gorilla). But back then, (when I was forming this misguided notion) I produced the first five media tours (I told you I did these) for the Xbox at E3 announcing the launch – yes it took that long to get it right before the actual release… they didn’t mind hitting reverse – love to have that kind of money to set fire to) But I digress… all that’s to say, gaming was something my friends’ little brothers and sisters did. And, being a woman, I never felt that I had to “hang onto my childhood” as a middle age adult (especially now that I could afford one) and join the youngsters on the couch with joystick in hand – for many middle aged men – this is how you say that you “still got it”.
In other words – if you didn’t grow up with joystick in hand, you don’t think that way… in fact you have no idea what you don’t know. And its also true vice reverse. Kenya had no idea, that I had no idea. So she could never answer my question,
“So how will this FB launch party thingy work?”
“Oh, you’ll be a natural at it. You just sit back and answer the comments that come in. You’ll be great!”
Right… and the fissure became a chasm…
Neither of us knew what the other was asking or saying. I follow directions to the letter and when things don’t perform as expected… it’s broken. Call tech support or throw it away.
When Kenya approaches a keyboard, she doesn’t have to read directions, she knows to interact with it and let it teach her how it performs, when it doesn’t respond as expected, she simply types something else, double pumps with a mouse click or right clicks-then-left-click-twice-then-right-clicks again… in other words, she instinctively hunts for what video game designers refer to as “Easter eggs” … and the kicker is she doesn’t even know she does it.
Which is why the chasm suddenly became the Grand Canyon… and right as the clock ticked 3:00 pm PST… and our FB launch party began… I got a pop-up window to the right of the FB page Kenya created for the event. It welcomed me (in her typing) and asked a question about my writing… and that’s almost all I remember cuz suddenly I’m seeing windows pop up AND THEN DISAPPEAR as soon as I see the question. When I am fast enough to click on it, it does take me to that posting on FB, but… since I now have 10, wait, 15, wait 20? Comments below it, the bottom of the window is hidden by the bottom of my screen… and the next question I click on, takes me to a whole new window – but I didn’t finish the comment I was writing – MAY DAY MAY DAY!
I’m starting to sweat – thesis like a game of Whack-a-mole... created by JIGSAW! My wife is riding shotgun on her computer and calling out the person and the question – but I’m still writing the one I’m on… who? Granny?
My Unofficial Grandma is even more lost than I am, and her comment is… I’m here, how does this work?
Not very well at this point. If I’m going to survive the next three hours, I better get good and fast! Okay hang on I don’t only direct live television with 20 or more cameras, I’m really good at it…
So I buckle down. My email in box is blowing up with the notifications from every comment – A HA! – A running real-time queue of everyone in order of their asking – perfect! I open up that window and use that to navigate to the various locations on the page where that question/comment was posted – but NO GOOD – FB opens a new tab each time WTF???? Okay – email good – but linking bad, got it.
I can still stay on track, and I resort to scanning the whole page like an air traffic controller at LAX on Thanksgiving day… in other words… I go “HOT.”
Suddenly I’m in the zone, “How long to write the book, writes MissyPolk43” easy to answer: 2 months to write 2 months to edit 1 month to publish “What’s my favorite genre? posts Writer2U”- easy, again: fiction to read, fiction to write, this is my first memoir… My wife gets into the swing to (despite her absolute aversion to live TV) and is able to answer some posts for me – she knows my answers better than I do, and she’s far more eloquent!
But then I get stopped in my tracks, when she says… “ConcernedMom posts, Any advice for a parent of trans child?”
As I pause and breathe – I can’t mess this one up, this is a serious questions and deserves a thoughtful answer… I get a text from my writing partner… My sister is in the party form NJ, she went to your website and your name is for sale… and the price goes up as your Amazon ranking climbs…
Amazon ranking? Gosh – that’s right – we’re doing this to sell books! And apparently we’re selling enough to rank, and… my domain name is on the block?
But what do I do with ConcernedMom? She’ll have to wait while dig into my domain issue – I got to my host as emails notifications start piling up with the balls I’ve taken my eyes off of, and sure enough – my website domain name is for sale… when I click on it – the one I registered is fine but some slick snaky bastard had been watching (or his algorhythm does it matter in this world – I still feel… I dunno, violated) but there it is – I buy the obvious variations that could confuse my readers and get back in the game…
Now where was I? Oh yeah, ConcernedMom! I take a breath and drop back “into the zone” (my heart – it’s best to never leave here but that’s what yoga’s for, right?) anyway… I realize what’s suddenly at stake here… despite the technology and the intensity and fever pitch of my mind… a mother’s heart. And her child. Just like me… and suddenly the canyon closes up at my feet. The chasm is instantly gone. Kenya and I are side by side…
I answer “ConcernedMom” that no two are alike – every child is different but the parents who are better at answering this question than I have one thing in common… they listen to their children.
We all could learn from that, yes?
At the end of the three hours, I felt like I just “cut to black” on the end of a live satellite feed. And as the adrenaline started to fade, I got an email from Kenya… congratulations, you’re at number 14 on the bestseller list…so tho' overtime I chopped off one of the hydra's heads two more grew in it's place... in my case both heads were better than one!
So… it worked… and it worked me. In more ways than one.
Something none of us probably ever thought when we set finger to kepbaord to write our books… the Joy of self-publishing means the joy of self-promotion.
Like a lot of my life lately, if I’d thought about what it would mean to self-publish, I probably would have been too scared to start… but here we are. As I’ve said in previous posts, I am an Executive Producer of television series’ (plural) and I worked hard to get here. But I was NEVER alone. One large part of my skill set is the ability to either remember how we got through the asteroid field last time, which was done because I had hired the skilled navigator(s), pilots and crew in the first place, in other words…
I know how to delegate.
But in this case, when I turn to direct my vast promotional empire, there’s just lil ‘ol me to answer my call… Okay, not so accurate, Mylove has been there every step of the way – but she’s got her own job to do and think about, so I try not to burden her. Still, I try to be self-managing – she’s the one with the steady job!
And now, I’m done digressing… We are in this world “armies of one’s.” I needed a plan. So, I bit the bullet and hired my PR firm for an additional 20 bucks a week to help with my social media. That alone will be a huge relief! They feed my the facebook page for this website (Zuzubean Press) which I then slingshot with my personal FB page and then point two twitter accounts at to chase tweeters to go check out my website.
A quick note about this technique… facebook is on to us. And they will “throttle” (such an ugly term) but it amounts to “limiting” the amount of people who will see the post which significantly lower than the people you expect to see this – NOTE: they don not tell you this happening, and they make no apology for it. Yes, the world will see lil Susie’s princess costume for Halloween (and trust me – I do care, it’s pink afterall!) BUT the news about my book (which is the center of the universe and WILL cure all of society’s ills if bought immediately by everyone,) gets sent to a mere shadow of my former “friends list,” where’s the justice in that?
Beware, I had no idea that this was happening! For days! All I knew, was that my usually effusive friends (and well, okay they were family) seemed to be suddenly so bored with my postings that they couldn’t be bothered to even “like” me.
Turns out it’s the sinister disease described above – confirmed by Kenya at Book Nymph – and we got to work on work around. Around. (sorry couldn’t resist) which amounts to this. I pay the one dollar (yes, one green blooded American dollarino) to reach 1000 people. I’ve authorized Kenya to do this (heck it’s only a dollar right?) on my behalf (comes when I hired her to work my facebook page) and so far she’s rockin’ it – so here my delegation thingy is working, just like my daddy said it would.
So with that taken care of, it only requires me to monitor what pops up on my Zuzubean Press Page (which duplicates on the facebook launch party page for double impact) and then I post what she posts on my personal page. So far here’s the results.
In the days before BN (Book Nymph) I had two page likes.
In the two weeks since she’s taken over: 149 likes, 1094, reached, and 1964 post engagements, Not too shabby.
As for other aspects of my delegation, it’s also working. I have dear angel in each of the locations where I will be making appearances to help with brainstorming, logistics and (full disclosure) the couch I will sleep on when I travel to their hood. This is a modle straight from my years of producing television – a location manager. The person who knows the locale better than I (even armed with Google) could ever match. These appearances start next week – I’ve got 2 engagements, book signings/launch parties in each of 4 regions in California. These local angels are also accessing their social networks in their areas to maximize attendance at each event.
Get me being all PR speakie… but it does sound a little cold – cuz the overall point I’m trying to make here is that, we as authors are used to going at it alone just us and our own work, pouring our hearts onto the page. But then, it becomes a team sport, an editor, and proofreader (or in my case an army, both in house and remotely) goes to town. And this is where our work gets fulfilling right before it gets to fruition. Because remember why we started on this journey in the first place? Way back when you said, “Okay, time to start.” You were starting a dialogue with a reader and that’s almost going to happen at this stage of our book’s life…
As soon as we can get that calendar to fill up in just the right combination to fulfil your marketing scheme.
As my sainted father would say, “The three arrows in a leader’s quiver are organize, supervise, and deputize.” (Okay, He never did much care for grammar), And here, in this self-publishing world of “An Army of one” we might only get three shots…
Presale – ah yes, every blog is crowing that “presale” is the key to real marketing success for girls like us. So, I’m all consumed right now with… well, that.
Some context, as you strap in for this leg of the journey: Art in all of its myriad forms and definitions has been as important to me as breathing. And as such, when I’m on a “piece,” be it a film, tv show, dinner for Mylove, surprise for Mylove, or just a note on the refrigerator, I go after it with every cell of me being. So a book, particularly this book, which is about a deeply personal journey is taking even more of all of me than previously thought possible. But I have learned over the years to “sleep on the plane,” that is, go full throttle til it’s done, which is a finite chunk of time, ‘cuz on the other side of done, there’s gonna be time to recover.
But, when you enter the stormy seas of self-publishing, there’s wave after wave of the “next thing.” From the website that you “better have” (really? But I wrote a book?) to the business cards you “better have” (really? But seriously, I wrote a book) to the social media channels that you “better have” (no, seriously, I wrote a book, doesn’t someone else do that for me?) to the Createspace account, bookbaby account, or any of the other self-publishing allies that help us get our words out, that require their lists of “next things,” (damn it Jim, I’m a writer not a printer!) the only way thru these hurdles is to keeping going. And how do we do that you ask?
…go back to the “self” part.
And like PInocchia who made that wish upon a star, it’s time to stand-up by yourself, girl! No strings! You wanted this, so enjoy it!
Yup, you’re an army of one, and like pregnancy, I’d venture to say, that we will all forget this part of the journey when it’s time to write another “baby.” But in the meantime, I have discovered another fact that my mother-in-law told Mylove when she asked about having children… “it’s different when it’s yours.”
Yes it is..
Way different. Maybe it’s the rush of seeing your baby take her first steps; maybe it’s that you’re so punch-drunk from the writing process; maybe it’s that you actually start to feel the wind under your wings; but whatever it is, it’s a new found enthusiasm that feels like the good morning giddiness of Christmas morning. You are the one stuffing envelopes, printing thank-you notes and… MAILING YOUR BOOK TO SOMEONE THAT ACTUALLY BOUGHT IT! And neither rain, nor sleet, nor the next good idea, will keep you from braving the pre-holiday lines at the post office to march right up to the counter and declare – Book Rate Please! (Which will get you promptly corrected, “Actually ma’am, we call it a media rate these days.”)
Let’s back-up. (Picture cool “flash back” graphics here.) Some details are in order if you’re trying to follow my lead (that is my mission after all).
Amazon, as we discussed in earlier posts does not have a way to “pre sell” your baby. Once you turn on the valve to the sales channels you’re live. However, as we also discussed earlier, you can buy & print books until you turn the channels on and sell them yourself.
Which is what I’m doing. For those out there taking notes, it looks like this:
Step 1: Write book.
Step 2. Make website – include a “store” function on said site.
Step 2b. Connect a sales engine/credit card app. I use weebly as a host for this site, and it has a free widget thingy (am I an IT girl or what?) called “stripe,” which functions a lot like “square,” if you’re familiar with the gizmo that pops into your cellphone or iPad and turns you into a walking retailer. This will connect to your bank account. The stripe app’s dashboard becomes your new favorite TV show, cuz it shows the sales In real time. And, tho’ it sends you an email for every sale as it comes in, it has all kinds of pretty graphs that shows your sales metrics—just like a real business.
A WORD OF CAUTION! I am using a ‘free” stripe app which does NOT allow for the collecting of tax or shipping. I could’ve made the asking price higher to include these things BUT – I wanted to reward the early supporters of my work. So I charged three dollars more than the price I set on Amazon, BUT I’m offering a signed edition. The truth is, I’m eating into the profit margin (which is higher than the royalty that Amazon will pay when we go live, but they do all the work). Again, I’m using this as a way to spread the word about my book to drive sales later.
Step 3. Start the promo engines (whatever you’re doing – point both barrels at your website...)
Step 4. Print out thank you notes and arm yourself with shipping supplies.
Step 5. Sign your heart out for those Charter Patrons – they were the first to put their money where their support is, gosh darn it. And as I looked at the first foot high stack of signed, sealed and ready to be delivered books that I FREAKIN” WROTE(!), all I could think of was how lucky can one girl be?
I took my box of “firsties” to the local Woodland Hills PO (dodging raindrops) and we now return you to our scene of me being corrected that you are to ask for a “media rate” for bulk mailing. And after you swear that you’re not shipping anything more dangerous than truth, they’ll award you rate HALF of the going rate for first class Such a deal. keep your eye on that girl, she’s got financial a geniuswritten all over her!
However, my evil plan to take over the world one pre-sale at a time hit a snag… there is no international book or media rate… and the cost to ship to England (my fourth sale) and Australia (my fourteenth) was going to be… wait for it… three dollars more than I charged for the whole book. Financial wizardess, that Scottie is… keep your eye on that one. She’s a genius! Oops! suddenly that genius hat pops into a dunce cap! (Hey! When did my life start looking like a cartoon?)
Well, as I said before, I’m doing this to honor the belief in me that my charter patrons are showing in me. So, I happily paid the fare. (But I did change my note on the sale page on my website – asking that any more international friends wait until Amazon takes over the sales on my release date of Nov. 10th.)
Now…some closing thoughts:
This is a strategy I admit, that while I’m committed to it, I’m not sure if I am doing the right thing. Cuz, what I really want to accomplish is to drive people to buy my book on Amazon. Sales there create rankings and that’s how we will build escape velocity to leave this orbit of “just a nice effort” to head for “respectable sales” which is a magic number of confirmed purchases that will make our baby show up on the radar of those who have the capacity and the reach to sell more of our books. (In a nutshell, this strategy is based on the philosophy that we can only sell what the audience KNOWS is available. In a nutshell, we can only sell what the audience KNOWS is available. And tho’ we’re doing everything we can think of to generate buzz, our reach as authors is only as big as our FB & Twitter followers. We need something bigger than we to tell the rest if the world out there that we exist
And, that next orbit is the “book selling” world of book stores, magazines, and “these so-called real” publishers – if we sell enough on our own the conventional wisdom goes, we will attract the attention of the world’s book stores, magazines and anyone else who smells “potential” (as in, potential for them to make money with us) but spends their money to promote us. A match made in heaven. So, that’s why I’m going after this tooth & nail. Makie sensie?
But this strategy has a part two: did I mention that Amazon doesn’t start to tally books sold (no matter how many you buy to sign at your public launch parties and readings) until their sales channels have been turned on (from your release date forward) I’m not getting any “credit” with Amazon for having sold these “pre-sale” books,
So the last steps in this process are; I will turn over the baton to a real store with a real packing and shipping department on my release date AND I will link my store page directly to Amazon and get out of the middle, like a real author.
As fun as it is to play “store,” this Pinocchia has got other things to do with her time…
Like promote! But that’s a subject for next time.
Blog Byline: Scottie Madden
Scottie currently lives with her love in a treehouse in the shadow of LA’s infamous “dirt Mullholland,” with their black dog Aria. When she’s not pretending that developing, writing and running television shows is anything other than a dream come true, (if they find out it isn’t hard at all, they’ll make us work!) she is cooking up some wild adventure in food for her friends and family.