Tag Archives: Facebook

A day off

I managed about 1500 words today on The Enhanced League. I could have finished the first draft, but I had some other commitments. I wrote one complete micro, and it needs a bit of something. I also started the last short story. I will add one more micro after the short, and may include another anthem piece. The anthem would allow me to talk about the Hot Stove season without spending a bunch of time on it.

I had to finalize next week's Lisa Burton Radio, and get it scheduled. I also have a fun guest appearance of my own where I get to be a castaway. These things take time too, and they're important. I want to do a good job for my guests and my hosts, and didn't want to take shortcuts with any of it.

I tried to participate in the Rave Reviews Book Club's “Pay it Forward” day. I believe in paying it forward, and sent out quite a few tweets using #RRBC, and made my own hashtag #RRBCPIF – you know, just in case it helps. I don't know if anyone else picked it up, but it's out there now.

Beyond that, there was a bunch of Otto time. I may need Tommy John surgery after all the throwing I've been doing. He's a ball playing boy.

He actually watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on television. I've had dogs who notice the TV before, but he watched the show. He seems to get more excited over the white dogs. I decided this could be because he can see them better, but he could be one of those guys who prefers blondes too.

I posted a couple photos on the Entertaining Stories Facebook page. People love Otto photos, and my FB page could use more traffic so I tend to post them there. Here's a link, just in case you need it.

There you have it. Dabbling mostly, working toward the end of the Enhanced League season, while looking forward to the MLB actual season. Blog work, plus some puppy time, and that was my day. Back to the grind tomorrow.

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Assessing 2016

I managed just under 2000 words this morning on my novel. I've reached a point where I need to decide whether he goes through the next section alone, takes up a sidekick, or gathers a small band. This means I need to think about it for a while. I'm leaning toward the sidekick, because it prevents his talking with the yak who is his mentor. It also provides someone to protect and worry about. I know where he goes, and what he faces, but any extra tension is always welcome.

Because of this, it's time to work on my 2016 assessment. This is kind of a personal “good, bad, and ugly.”

I wanted to read more mainstream stuff in '16, but never read a single one. Independent fiction kept me pretty busy, and I need to change that. Branching out is always good for learning, and inspiring the muse. I did manage one graphic novel, and enjoyed the heck out of it. Graphic novels don't exactly qualify as mainstream in my book though. I want to get back to Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest.

I wanted to expand my footprint into Facebook. I did this in the form of a Lisa Burton profile, and an Entertaining Stories page. Lisa is more popular than my page, go figure. I try to keep them a bit different, and a few Otto videos went on the Entertaining Stories page that Lisa never got. I'm still learning here, but I'm having a good time. It's a great way to find old sci-fi artwork, classic cars, inspiration for Lisa Burton posters, and bulldog images.

As far as the blog goes, my number one post was a short fiction trick. I wish I could repeat this, because it has over 3000 views and counting. In fact, the subsequent post about how Flipboard drove most of this traffic was in my top ten posts. My third most popular post was “We go Spying With Lana, on Lisa Burton Radio.” (1200 views and counting.)

It seems like anything with Lisa is a popular post. I don't even have to include a graphic, and the writing cabin type posts are popular. It probably means nothing from a promotional standpoint, but it makes me think I must be getting her strong personality into the posts.

I've heard from the more chatty folks that Lisa Burton Radio produced a spike in sales for them. This is kind of a plus/minus for me. Lisa has a hell of a time getting enough guests to keep her interviews going. Places to promote books seem to be getting more scarce, and these interviews are the only ones like them that I know about. I want to keep them going, but need authors who want to take advantage. I'll just mention here that it's absolutely free, and I share them on Stumbleupon, Flipboard, two Facebook sites, and I tweet them out frequently.

An interesting observation is how popular posts involving the Rave Reviews Book Club were. My Block Party stop was the eighth most popular post of 2016. (I'm a fairly prolific blogger so that's a great number.) My top twenty is filled with posts I hosted as part of blog tours associated with RRBC. The obvious thought is that RRBC drives traffic, and they support. If any of you are inclined to make a 2017 business plan you ought to consider joining us.

Sales were about the same as last year for me. While this isn't bad, it includes two new publications and much more promotion on my part. It appears I'm working harder to accomplish the same thing. Is this just the market, the volume of available titles, my perspective getting tired, what?

A big part of my promotion kind of fell together and grew into something I never expected. A group of authors and I formed Story Empire as a way to mutually promote our paranormal themed books in October. It's grown into much more, and has potential for more growth. I'm looking forward to seeing just how far we can take it. I have a theory that we'll expand to more than just paranormal.

My pals and I at Story Empire went on a massive paid blog tour for our paranormal titles. This involved giveaways of Amazon gift cards, and in my case two book blasts. Quite frankly, I could have sold more books on a friends and family tour. Most of the host sites appeared to be dead zones that only host blog tours. Nobody is going to follow a site that never offers anything but blog tour posts. There is no interaction, and very little action happened beyond the authors thanking the host for having us.

I was impressed with one of the book blasts, and might consider them for a tour host in the future. More research is required for blog tours these days.

I also wasn't impressed with the giveaways. Turns out there are people out there who chase gift cards. They have no interest in the wares being promoted, only getting into the contests. In my mind, the contest is to add a little fun to the tour, and possibly increase the interaction. This isn't the way it worked out. I have a new plan for contests from now on.

I got invited to participate in an anthology. I'd never done anything like this, and it was educational. There is no money in it, but the exposure is pretty good. This is something I'd like to do again, depending on the theme. I'm probably not going to write a Valentine's Day love story, but if a group wants to do some science fiction or something, I would consider it.

I did a bunch of giveaways, 99¢ sales, and Amazon advertising with mixed results. All of them moved books in varying degrees, but they didn't seem repeatable. Whatever worked once, failed six months later. This might be because of timing, the quality of the advertisement, or the marketplace. I probably need to keep trying these.

My short fiction during October, called Macabre Macaroni, is also hard to assess. Maybe it's because I don't want to admit what I'm seeing. Every comment was encouraging, even those who thought I ended the first one too soon simply wanted more of a good story. The odd thing is the number of views. They started strong, then went down with every subsequent post. This can't be about the quality of the stories, because I'm tracking views not likes or comments. Viewers didn't show up in the first place. What it could mean is that people are just tired of them. Maybe some thought it was just the same story trucked out over and over because of the Lisa art.

The Idea Mill. These aren't nearly as popular as I would like. These posts don't even show up until I get to number 81. I love them, but maybe it's time to retire them. Many of my followers are writers, but not as many are speculative fiction writers. There were a lot of textile posts both from antiquity and in modern science. There were also a lot of primate observations. I featured one cryptid, and a railroad line that carried the dead. All of the comments are positive, but they're all from my regulars too. Asking for shares might help, maybe I need a new thing for the blog.

I finally found a way to make Twitter functional. When you follow too many people, the stream of information is like trying to drink from a firehose. I learned about pinned tweets, and am trying to keep them relatively fresh. When I check my notifications, anyone who appears to be supporting me causes me to share their pinned tweet. Not everyone has a pinned tweet, but it sure is handy. I find a lot of them that are six months old though. In that case, I delete my tweet, then immediately retweet it. My hope is that it goes out fresh in the timeline of my followers. Everyone should be using pinned tweets if they have books to promote. Remember to keep them freshened up though. I think I'll freshen up mine right after this posts.

Two new publications. I released The Playground, a novel, and The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II, a collection of short fiction in 2016. The novel was just a blip on the radar. I'm disappointed, because I really like it and I think the style added something to this kind of story. Playground also produced one of the most fun characters I've ever written, and my first anti-hero. The second Notebook exceeded sales of the first one. I have some evidence to show that it produced a few sales of the first one after readers finished it. This is great news. Now what to do with the information? Is one title simply better than the other? Is short fiction making the surge I predicted last year? Is human interest leading us away from novel length works? I don't know, but will probably keep producing both.

That's 2016. Some things worked, some didn't. Some did nice things I never expected. The idea is to keep what works, and do new things to replace what doesn't work. Sometime in the first week of 2017, I'll put out a business plan. It's always nice to have a roadmap.

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Filed under Writing

That was a little bit different.

Getting any amount of writing done with Otto around is going to be a challenge. It starts out with, “Look at my pumpkin ball.” Then I get out of bed. “Throw my pumpkin ball, squeak my plush moose toy, check out my kong, I have a piece of fluff in my mouth Smack smack smack, you'd better get it before I swallow it. I want out, I want in, oh wait… out again.” Recycle and repeat as necessary.

I bought myself a few minutes by filling his kong with peanut butter. That wasn't distracting at all, “Slurp, smack, slurp…” It was kind of funny, so I posted a tiny video on the Entertaining Stories Facebook page.

I managed to get to the writing cabin later than I liked. Lisa, my robotic assistant, was dressed like an old Olivia Newton John video.

“Are you working out today?” I asked.

“Lorelei is coming over. She wants to exercise, so I looked up what to wear and ordered this outfit. What do you think?”

“Yeah, very cute.”

“Thanks.”

I moved into my office and turned on my iPad. All I really needed was some solitude. Lorelei, my Muse, stormed in wearing some kind of hideous mumu thing. I may have winced a little bit.

“Where is she?” Lorelei asked.

“I don't know, maybe in the front or the kitchen.”

She turned to go, but looked back. “Don't even look at it. I'll be back to Greek Goddess form in no time. Give me a month or so.”

I admit to not writing much over the past few months. Lorelei let herself go in that time. Between a cranky Muse and a robot who's contemplating the afterlife, it's been a little strange around here. It seems like I'm going to have to force my way through this first bout of writing.

I opened up The Yak Guy Project, and re-re-read my last chapter. I wound up correcting some of the language. There is a character that sounds too much like another character, and I'm trying to adjust him a bit.

The next chapter is a transition chapter, and some traveling is involved. I hate those kind because they slog along. It isn't like the characters can pop in and out of interesting situations, and some of these are necessary. I added some scenery and intrigue to my world building and charged forward.

The girls came downstairs, this time Lorelei was in a bodysuit over a leotard. Quite frankly, it looked like it was a little bit stressed. “We decided to go jogging,” Lisa said.

Thank the Gods, I thought.

“You're welcome,” Lorelei said.

They were laughing as they headed away from the cabin. I opened the window for the raven of Doubt. “You too. Get out of here, and lay off Lisa. She doesn't need your mumbo jumbo any more than I do.” To my surprise, he flew off.

Yak Guy Ted got involved with a minor skirmish and saw what happens in war. He even went on a stressful mission of his own that seems to have helped the situation for his people. Remember, he's a spoiled city kid who's been plunked in another world, so this is a big step for him. He just needed the right inspiration. (Spoiler: It's a girl.)

I reached the end of that chapter, and added a first line to the next one. This is the point where I usually force something if I'm really feeling it. I admit to being a little out of writing shape myself. Still, 3100 words of new material isn't a bad day.

I decided to turn to baseball. More specifically, my short stories that I'm calling The Enhanced League. I left a couple of spies in a stadium in Japan that needed to move their story ahead. This one has a little to do with world building, and will have a bit of tension in it too. By the time the girls returned, I added 1500 words to that.

That was about my limit today. As I'm typing this out, I'm alternating words with throwing the ball for Otto. I won't complain about it, because I forged ahead with new fiction. In fact, this post is slightly over 700 words itself.

  • 3100+
  • 1500+
  • 700=

Pretty nice, or at least nothing to sneeze at.

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Filed under Muse

Partial chill today

I don't know that I ever take a day for myself, not completely. I decided not to hit it too hard today though. This is my flex day for the week, and I had the house to myself.

Otto hasn't been sleeping at night this week. Is suspect my son makes him sleep all day so he doesn't have to walk him or deal with him. Otto started his day at 2:00 AM today. I decided to get up with him, so my wife could sleep. She had to answer the alarm clock about an hour later, but I did what I could. I'm going to be talking to my son.

This led to hours of pumpkin ball play, and I decided to try out the slow motion video on my new camera. It works better with a thrower that just lets me film. I posted one on my own and one after my wife got home. You can see them at the Entertaining Stories Facebook page.

Of course, after my wife got on the road, Otto went to sleep. Why wouldn't he, he'd been awake all night. I took advantage of the time to finish reading a book. There is something so perfect about the dark hours before sunrise.

I woke him up for another game of pumpkin ball, because I want him sleepy tonight. While we played, I turned on some Loony Toons cartoons, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I don't think I have to have children in the house to watch Wabbit Season.

During the cool down, I took advantage and worked up three shticks for Lisa Burton Radio. Once those were in the mail, we played with another of Otto's toys for a while. When I checked the mail, one of the radio interview is already back.

I did my typical blog skimming, checked Facebook and Twitter. Then I wrote out a bit of micro-fiction. This is for my possible baseball book, called The Enhanced League. I'm trying to make all the stories fit together, albeit loosely. This makes it hard to use the twist endings I enjoy so much. There are a few, but not as frequently as I'd prefer. I have no idea what I'll do with it eventually. Right now it keeps me in fiction until I can dedicate some real time to my novel.

I also scheduled my next post over at Story Empire. It's kind of a loose assessment of all the things I tried during October to get readers to look my way. These things are beyond what the Story Empire crowd is doing together. The post is scheduled for somewhere around midnight on Halloween.

Speaking of Story Empire, the big tour is still going on, and so are the scavenger hunts. If you haven't entered yet, all you have to do is answer a couple of questions you can find the answers to on our site. You don't have to actually visit all the tour host sites. Ten gift cards and five ebooks are up for grabs, and you could win from multiple authors.

Also speaking of Story Empire, we are doing a couple of book blasts on Halloween. They're all paranormal stories to some degree, so it makes sense. For one of the blasts, they require either a discount or a free day. I hadn't planned on it, but I set Will O' the Wisp up as free all that day. The links will be in my post at Story Empire after it loads. Reminder: I also set it up in the UK store, because I love you guys too. So if you didn't win in the giveaway, I'm giving you an unplanned second chance.

I managed all this before 2:00 this afternoon. You can get a lot done when you start at 2:00 AM. I'll probably take a nap, and tonight we're having date night somewhere. No doubt the World Series will be involved somewhere along the line. Maybe I can find my own version of pumpkin (beer) along the way.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

The second week of October, now with #prizes

I may have mentioned doing a bunch of promotion during October. Several of my titles have a paranormal theme to them, and it seemed like a natural time to hit it hard.

Last week I used some Amazon free days for my novel, Panama. I gave away hundreds of copies, but that's always a crap shoot. There is no guarantee that anyone will read their copy, and less chance that they'll leave a review. Still, it is a reasonable opportunity to make some fans. Everything worked according to plan, and it remains to be seen how it will shake out in the long run.

There are several things going on this week. The first one is a 99¢ sale for my newest novel, The Playground. I felt like Panama was an older title and the free days made more sense there. The Playground is my newest publication, and I'm not quite ready to give it away yet. I won't drone on about it here, because I made a separate post about it this morning.

To support the 99¢ sale, I did a Facebook push. I immediately kicked myself for one small mistake. I included the link to my blog post and not the Amazon universal purchase link. Then I received a comment from someone who bought the book and promised a review. Maybe it wasn't a mistake after all.

I also updated my pinned tweet on Twitter to reflect The Playground and the 99¢ sale. Every little bit helps, right?

I have more things planned as the month shakes out. Watch this space for updates.

I also appeared on Bad Moon on the Rise, over at Teri Polen's blog. In fact, I kicked the event off. I've been following this event every day and tweeting out the new posts. I've discovered some books I need to read too. I honestly hope some of you are interested in my Halloween themed promotions, but I'm not the only one doing this. There are some great things over at Teri's and you really should check it out.

I also started my annual tradition of posting some micro-fiction every week during October. I call these Macabre Macaroni, and they will include the Lisa Burton art as part of the promo. I don't always include graphics, but know posts with images draw more eyes. In my experience, Lisa draws more eyes than anything I've ever posted, so I included her here. I want this post to get some readers.

I was lucky enough to get included in an anthology called Macabre Sanctuary. This includes ten short stories for the price of free. I'm in the process of reading it now and all the stories have been great so far. You can't beat the price for a little bit of Halloween reading, and I'd appreciate you checking it out.

Another of the big ticket items kicks off this week as well. Regular readers will recall the announcement of Story Empire. This is a group of five authors who came together originally with the idea of some mutual promotion during October. It's evolved into so much more. There is a blog that features some nice writing tips, a Facebook page, and even a Twitter account.

The key piece of Story Empire this week is called The Paranormal Bar & Grille. We're doing a massive blog tour through Reading Addiction Tours. You can follow the tour at Reading Addiction, but you really need to visit the Bar & Grille site too. Each of the authors is holding a scavenger hunt and we're each giving away some pretty darned good prizes. You can find all of the answers by surfing around the Story Empire site. All of the top prizes are gift cards, and not an electronic copy of the book I gave away last week. (You know, unless you want one.)

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway at Reading Addiction. The prize is a $30 Amazon gift card, so make sure you get in on that too. On both sites, you have to play to win.

I have other things in the works for later this month. Rather than tell you about them all right now, I want to concentrate on the timely things you should be taking advantage of right now.

So yeah, I've been kind of busy. The setup for everything happened while I had visits from my parents, two different groups of in-laws, and a convention I had to attend as part of my paycheck job. I expect a little smoother sailing as the month shakes out.

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Filed under Writing

Tips, tricks, and plans

October is bearing down upon us. This has always been my favorite month of the year. I would happily trade January or August for an extra October. It's also always been my best month for sales. This is probably because I have a few paranormal titles in my catalog.

I plan to hit it hard in October. I have a few guest posts that will appear, and you may find some new blogs to follow at the host sites. I still have time to write a couple more if you know of an October event that I should participate in.

There are also a couple of blog tours via my Story Empire crowd. We'll be giving away prizes and hope to make a big splash. Follow Story Empire to keep up with what's going on over there.

I intended to make the tips & tricks part of this into a Story Empire post, but there is a five person rotation and it would be November before it posted. Over here I can weave in some of my individual plans too.

I intend to use some of the Amazon tools during October. I may run an ad campaign. I'm almost certain to have a sale, or even some free days. Keeping the October theme going, I'll probably focus on The Playground, Will O' the Wisp, and Panama. Both Experimental Notebooks fit the bill too, but since they're 99¢ I don't see how a sale would work. I may do some Facebook boosting too.

Last year, I invited people to provide artwork for Macabre Macaroni. My idea was that some budding cover artists might like a place to showcase their work. I was even happy with grandchildren who glued dried macaroni to a paper and made art. I never got a single taker, and there was no artwork last year. This year I'm taking a different approach. I commissioned a piece of art to accompany the micro-fiction. Macabre Macaroni will post every Tuesday in October.

I'm a little slow on the uptake at times, but I learned a Twitter trick. There are people out there who support me heavily. They make custom tweets about my books, or maybe a post they found entertaining. I want to reciprocate that support, and found their pinned tweets to be handy as hell. They made them, they want them shared, and they're right at the top of their timelines. There is one lady who changes her pinned tweet every day, others leave them for a week or so.

The gears move slowly, but what if I created my own pinned tweet to help them out? I've been doing this, and find it respectful of their time, and helpful to my cause. I'll probably create a graphic of some kind, like this:

In the 140 characters I can say something clever and include the Amazon link. I will try to change it up +/- weekly so it doesn't get stale. Twitter is a volume game. A million people see your tweet, and maybe one buys the book. It does produce sales though, so something that catches the eye might work.

The point is that you should be using a pinned tweet too. I've scrolled through dozens of hundreds of tweets to find something to support an author with. They probably appreciate me sharing their book tweet, but not the picture of their lunch. A pinned tweet is right on top where it's easy to find.

Moving to the next one, sharing buttons. Not everyone is using them on their blogs. I'm happy to share, but again, I may not take the time to create my own post from scratch. I'm now encouraging visitors to use mine on the Lisa Burton Radio posts. This way my guests get a bit more exposure. The sharing buttons are easy to set up through WordPress, and you may want to check them out.

While you're deep inside the guts of WordPress, are you auto-feeding your posts on other social media? I have mine set to feed right into the Entertaining Stories Facebook page, Goodreads, and to tweet the link out. Easy-peasy, and I don't have to do this individually.

This next tip might be worth the price of admission. I think there could be something to what the world is calling curated content. There are a number of apps and social media options out there. I'll even provide links, but I want to talk about them a bit first.

I started out with an extinct platform called Zite Magazine. I used it for news I couldn't get anywhere else. It provided many of the Idea Mill articles. If I liked something, I could give it a thumbs up to get more articles like it. If I gave it a thumbs down, it learned not to send me data about the Kardashians.

Unfortunately, they were absorbed by Flipboard. Flipboard promised the same experience, only better-faster-stronger, yada yada. It failed on this front, but there is a silver lining.

Flipboard will let you create your own magazine. I decided, since I was already there, to test it out. I call mine Entertaining Stories. (Branding and all that.) I selectively share my blog posts there, and occasionally share other items of interest, like when one of you has something wonderful, or Sean Harrington shares a Lisa poster on his DeviantArt site.

Most days I can see a few visitors from Flipboard. On occasion it goes absolutely crazy. I posted a bit of micro-fiction about Lisa this week that had over two-hundred visitors from Flipboard. See the image to remind you of the post.

A few months ago, I shared a post about a short story trick. It involved the twist endings I use in some of the short form. I had over 2000 visitors that found me via Flipboard. It still gets action to this day.

Here is the link for Flipboard.

 

We're still on curated content, but I'm drifting again. (Bear with me.) I've written before about what I call “white noise.” Feeds on all social media have become so much white noise. Twitter is the worst, and my regular feed is like a firehose of data. I scroll through until I see something that catches my eye. Catching my eye has become the new trick. Facebook is similar, and so is WordPress.

I follow a ton of blogs. I can't read them all, so something has to catch my eye in the regular stream. I have my “must read” blogs and they got on the list by engaging and by posting great content.

Re-blogging is a double edged sword. I love it when someone shares my post. I like to share the awesome stuff here too on occasion. It's hard to get much engagement on a re-blog. The original poster is the one where the interaction occurs.

There are some bloggers who share a dozen posts per day, and never seem to offer original content. One of these curated content options might be a great way for them to spread the word. Flipboard is only one, here are a few others.

I have not used these, but I might someday soon. It could be a way to extend my tentacles online without too much effort.

The first one is called paper.li It is like having your own magazine, or newspaper if you prefer. You get to share whatever you want with your subscribers. One of my author friends is testing this out right now, and I hope to learn how it works for him.

The other one is called RebelMouse. This is a similar product. I really don't know the advantages of one over the other.

It seems to me like this could be the way for me to replace the original use I had for Zite Magazine. If I could find a couple of curators who deal with macabre stuff, and some cutting edge science, it could be useful.

It also seems like a place that's ripe for mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers. Flipboard, paper.li, and RebelMouse are all doing nearly the same thing. (One sells to Microsoft, one to Apple, and one to Google.) That wasn't the point of my post though.

These sites are helpful. My content has been shared on all of them by others. I need to check out paper.li and RebelMouse, but before I dive in they have to be easy and fast. Any of us would like more exposure, but my time is limited.

In the case of Flipboard, there is an app for that. I find that to be an advantage. I did not find apps for the other sites.

In my case, all roads lead to this blog. If you find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Flipboard, even Goodreads, there is likely something that leads you back here. That's my system, but there may be others that work better. If you have a better way, share it in the comments. I'd like to know, and I'll bet my regulars would too.

Do you have any experience with RebelMouse or paper.li? I'd like to get some input on these platforms. If I take one of them on, it will probably be part of my 2017 business plan. I'm just gathering data right now.

Are you going to create a pinned tweet? I think it's a great way to let your supporters help spread the word.

Are you going to set up sharing buttons on your own blog? Feel free to test mine out.

Do you know of any October events I should be taking advantage of? Are you hosting one, and need some players?

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Filed under Blogging, Writing

Promotion 201

I really struggled on whether to post this one, or not. I don't want to come across as singling anyone out, or being negative, but there are some things people just aren't teaching. These involve what not to do. Most good lessons explain the various promotional options, they encourage us to do certain things, but they never go into what not to do.

Keep in mind this is only one man's opinion. Nobody has to agree with me, and some of you probably won't. I'm going to write this without photo examples, because I don't want to pick on anyone.

I'm going to write this from the perspective of an author, because that's what I do. Maybe you want to accomplish something else, but the ideas still apply.

To start with let's drop a couple of lines about why I think the way I do.

  • Mom always said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
  • As a writer, a common lesson is to never give someone a reason to say no. This applies mostly to traditional publishing, and the process of shopping a manuscript around. There are lessons here for the rest of us though.

First up are author pictures. These come come in two varieties that I'll loosely define as a photo, and a Gravatar.

 

I believe an author photo can be almost anything, but it shouldn't turn people off. It's fairly common to see an image where the camera is looking up at the author, they're standing there with their chin up, and their arms crossed. (One of my author friends told me my singular use of they is back in style this week, and I'm going for it.)

 

I'm sure the photographer, or the author, thinks this is an image of someone who is a master of their craft. It shows confidence, and charisma. I think these photos also translate a raised chin into looking down your nose at me. The crossed arms are defensive and protective. In fact, I think the photos look downright arrogant. It's almost like holding up a palm and saying, “Talk to the hand.” I've seen plenty of multi-level marketers, pyramid schemers, and get rich quick guys projecting the same image.

 

Personally, I tend to bounce right by those kind of sites. I wonder if others do the same? If they're too good for me, maybe I'll go hang out with people more my level and buy their books. PS: I review the books I read too.

 

Then there are the ones who try really hard, but don't pull it off. As an example, there is a fine line between mysterious and creepy. I see a lot of guys looking up from under their eyebrows. This can also be done with the brim of a hat. Many of these are in black and white, but not all of them. To be real honest, they look angry and even mean. Isn't the point to attract people to your blog/books/Etsy store?

 

I've seen one that seems to do all these at once. It involves an over the shoulder look with a furrowed brow, in black and white.

 

I try to do one of three things; smile, be myself, or be corny. I actually use three pictures that reflect one of each. In one, I'm wearing a tie and smiling. (Yeah, I have a full beard, but you can see it in my eyes.) My arms are crossed, but they are leisurely resting on a countertop. I'm also leaning slightly forward. No arrogance here.

 

The second photo is me at one of our regular hangouts. I'm hoisting a beer while wearing one of my fedoras. I'm still smiling, but it's a natural environment image. I also pushed the hat back on my head so people could see my face. Who wouldn't want to have a beer with that guy?

 

The other one is my bronze bust. This image is kind of dour looking, but it's quirky as hell.

 

Dean Koontz writes some scary stuff, but he usually has a really nice picture of himself with a golden retriever. You can't dislike someone with a golden retriever.

 

Any of these images are unlikely to scare people away, and that's the point. Don't give someone a reason to say no. If they do read, it isn't because they're looking to disagree with me. Open mind, open heart…open wallet.

 

If your natural environment might be somewhat controversial, maybe don't project that until you know someone a little bit better. Remember what Mom said in my first bullet point. Holding up a dead opossum by the tail and saying, “The other white meat,” might be something to hold back for later.

 

The other kind of picture is what I'm calling a Gravatar. These are the little calling cards we leave all over the Internet. These don't have to be pictures of you, but if they are, the same concept applies. Make sure to create one as soon as possible. Nothing is easier than blowing right past the Twitter generic egg symbol. It screams “I don't care enough to actually participate.”

 

If I click on a site, it's because I want to read something you've written. I really detest being assaulted with pop-ups. If you are on something like WordPress.com, like I am, you don't have control of the advertisements. At least they don't have pop-ups yet. If you have your own site, like with WordPress.org, it's clear that you chose to make me deal with a pop-up before I can read your post. Sometimes I just move on. If I haven't signed up for your newsletter the first couple of times I visit your blog, I probably never will, but I still get assaulted with the pop-up. It doesn't make me feel welcome. It makes me feel like prey.

 

Twitter has its own version of this. I follow someone, and immediately get a direct message asking me to buy, read, and review their book. At least kiss me first. It tells me I'm the least important person at this party, and I'm welcome to leave my money on the table and get out.

 

I'm convinced that I am the brand around here. What I am selling is myself. If enough to people decide they like me, they might turn into consumers too. I don't want to drive them away before they get the chance to see what I'm all about. I've actually struck up a friendship or two with people who've never bought any of my books. I'm okay with that. Friendships are wonderful, and that's a big win too.

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