It’s not you, it’s me.

Perhaps I should explain myself, and how different parts of me are scattered across social media.

Choosing the best experience for you might mean we cannot be “friends”.

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At my core, I am a middle-aged man who works very hard to understand the behavior of both myself and other human beings. I will admit I am doing a little better with the former than the latter because I know who and what I am and how I was shaped. There may be no other point to our existence other than to discover ourselves—the “who” we are is complicated while the “what” we are is much easier. Let’s do the easy one first.

What am I?

  1. I am a human.
  2. I am a heterosexual male of that species.

What do I do?

They always leave out the implied ending of this question—for a living.

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  1. I am a non-fiction author.
  2. I am a writer for hire.
  3. I dabble in some business consulting, website design, and editing.

art-1301872_960_720Now the big question. . .

Who am I?

  1. It changes every day.
  2. I am just another flawed human being.
  3. I am someone who is looking behind the curtain of all my indoctrinations—familial; religious; societal; cultural—to see my programming.
  4. I am a seeker of truth which is a sucky pursuit. This brings us to the next one.
  5. I need to laugh, so I make snide, sarcastic, often inappropriate and misunderstood comments to help make the bitter pill of truth a little easier to swallow.
  6. As my self-awareness increases, I discard more and more of my original program in favor of ancient wisdom or “truths” if you will, which make me work on my humanness. There is much work to be done.
  7. If I shortlist this, I am pleased with my progress in compassion, empathy, sympathy, hypocrisy, ethics, scruples, and honesty, but I need more work on expectations, gratitude, judgement, tolerance, trust, and love.
  8. I am very concerned with how little time this incarnation of human civilization has left.
  9. Children make me smile. Each one is a blank slate with unparalleled memory capacity. If only we paid closer attention to the programming they receive.
  10. One of my few remaining beliefs is that a matriarchy might save us. The patriarchy has had at least 5000 years to get its shit together yet shows no signs of improving anytime soon. A civilization centered on economics only serves a few. Balance is the key to everything in nature and men just refuse to accept this paradigm. The patriarchy’s epitaph should read:

They discovered they could reshape their environment

and it ended them.

On that happy note, we will move on. This is the aforementioned sarcasm I spoke of.

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Twitter is my favorite place on social media because it is the least restrictive. Oddly, I am the most well-behaved there. If you compartmentalize your followers by making lists, you can end up with a personalized newsfeed. I recommend this for all authors who hate the social media obligation as much as I do. It will preserve your sanity for a while longer. On twitter you will get the best parts of me, for the most part, with little of my inner bad boy.

  • I re-tweet inspirational and philosophical words of wisdom daily.
  • I tweet my own mostly serious thoughts.
  • I tweet some book news.
  • My Ms. Creant site blog lands on twitter which will be mostly talking life and relationships from now on.
  • My E. A. Barker’s Blog Madness site also lands on twitter, and it is probably the only thing which could be construed as being offensive . . . and boy can it be offensive at times, when I take the gloves off. Yeah, this is a hockey term, and yes, I’m a Canadian.

You can find me on twitter @eabarkerauthor

I guess you could just follow one or both of my blogs, but you would definitely miss some fun . . . and I do like to have fun.

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Facebook is the bane of my existence. It is intrusive; your feed is next to impossible to manage unless you have a small circle; their idea of “community standards” would be laughable were it not for the disturbing fact they are willing to show the death of humans or animals, but a woman’s nipple is too much for their censors to bear; and yet I have four pages there. I might contact one of my psychologist “facebook friends” to help me figure out what in the f*ckity f*ck is up with that.

The public posts from my profile are squeaky clean; typically about life and saving the planet, although those damn blogs also show up. I guess we should change squeaky to pretty, or mostly, or kind of. If you are a facebooker, you can “follow” my public posts without seeing the bad boy stuff I share with my friends. You may miss out on some harmless humour, but you probably won’t be offended.

My E. A. Barker author page talks books, writing, author events, and libraries. I share most, but not all, blogging efforts to this page. THIS IS A SAFE ZONE!

My Author FYI page came about quite accidentally. It serves as a repository of all my research related to book publishing and book marketing for indie or small press authors, as well as a place where I wear my business-y hat. Only industry related blog posts land here. THIS IS A SAFE PLACE . . . or as safe as I get.

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If you cannot see the humour in this graphic, however inappropriate, you need not explore any farther.

My humor page is centered around relationships. The posts are there to make you laugh, but as usual, I employ few filters when it comes to seeing things for what they are.

woman-3156808_960_720Are you offended by nudity, vulgarity, or people who do not share your beliefs?

Do you remember when I said I am a flawed human being? If you make it onto my friends list, you will be treated to the full Monte. Actually that’s a lie, because facebook won’t let us show that, but you will get whatever strikes ME as funny, bizarre, cool, and I have been known to push the limits of facebook’s community standards just for the fun of it. I am against all things divisive. I am against all measures created to maintain division, the status quo, and to suppress badly needed conversations. If we cannot talk openly about anything, even if we do not agree with each other’s positions afterwards, then we cannot be friends. If you think you are up to it, you will find I am a loyal friend who is quick to help if I can, and you have my word, it won’t be dull.

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Author Truths for Beginners (Part 4)

This is a pay-to-play game.

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It is theoretically possible to publish your book without paying out for services, but you would be a fool to try.

  • Yes, you can write your own blurb, but it probably won’t help a reader reach a buying decision.
  • Yes, you might be able to edit, but you will miss mistakes in your own work.
  • Yes, you might be able to create a cover, but it probably won’t attract readers.
  • Yes, you could learn how to format the interior, but there is a huge time investment required.
  • Yes, you could learn to upload your book, but accuracy is crucial if your book is to be found in searches.
  • Yes, you could attempt free promotion of your book on social media, but the time investment to cultivate readers is staggering.

Newbies who try to DIY their book ultimately fail because they will never get any of the above six points exactly right. All these errors compound to create a book that will never have a chance at success.

Where ever there are newbies, there will be exploitation.

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Somewhere in one of the Big Five publishing houses, there is a wealthy person sitting in a corner office  who got there by asking the following:

“What if there was a way to get authors to pay us instead of the old-fashioned way of doing things where we pay them?”

Self-publishing has been around just about as long as the printing press. A press was expensive and the owners of them needed to keep them running as many hours a day as possible. They quickly figured out they could make money from wealthy people who thought they were writers. The Vanity Press was born.

The digital e-book has brought about a resurgence in vanity publishing by making the author dream affordable to all but the poorest among us.

Let’s look at who will make money from you if you choose to self-publish. We will assume you do not possess any of the skills required, and have nothing to barter with. We will also assume a 50,000-word novel.

At an absolute minimum, publishing an e-book will require the following:

  • Editing. If you think you don’t need this, think again. Any editor worth their salt will charge at least $300.00 for a single pass.
  • A cover. If you spend $100.00 or less using modified stock images you did well. Avoid anything too cheap unless you want to lose sleep at night over rights infringements. Paying anything less than $250.00 is a good price for original art work and graphic design.
  • Interior formatting. Anything around the $500.00 mark is a score. $975.00 is the most you should pay a top professional.
  • File conversion should run you at least $40.00
  • Copyrights begin at $80.00 and climb by country.
  • A single ISBN is $125.00 but you can get ten for $250.00 so you will have to make the call based on how many books you plan to publish.

$1145.00 is what a SEMI-PRO first offering e-book will cost to publish, and we haven’t even talked about thorough editing, printed books, distribution or marketing yet.

Do not be seduced by predators.

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PAY NOTHING TO ANYONE until you have checked out a number of their references.

Negotiate a deal to pay 50% up front with 50% upon completion by a set date you can both live with.

Hire on a trial basis whenever possible. It is better to pay a new editor for one chapter, to find out if you like their work, than it is to pay them to edit your entire book only to discover too late you do not like their changes.

Be exceedingly cautious if you choose to package all of this in what is now termed an Author Services company. In my experience, they either underperform or gouge for their services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Truths for Beginners. (Part 3: The Luck of the Irish Edition.)

We make our own luck!

16 WAYS TO GET LUCKY as an indie or small press author!

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A real-world book marketing strategy:

Get ARC s to reviewers three months in advance of your PUBLIC release date. In some cases galleys are required. (Print copies.) This only requires planning, time and organization to send out free e-book review copies. On the other hand, shipping galleys is an expensive proposition at +/- $20.00 each shipped. Send review copies to ONLY A FEW big time literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these influencers can launch a career. Some reviewers will only look at books that are less than six months old. Keep in mind that at most you have one year to get a mainstream review. Invest no more than $200.00. Limit these to your top ten most influential prospects.

Have a box of author copies in your car at all times to sell to people who are impressed by the fact you are an author. Barflies are particularly easy marks when they say: That’s SO cool. Where are your books available? You immediately reply with: I’ll be right back. When you return with the book, they are trapped. Few will admit they had no intention of ever looking up your book, nor will they admit they haven’t been in a bookstore or read a book in years. Tell them you can save them the trip and a few bucks off the retail price, PLUS as an added bonus, they will have a signed author copy. This is known in sales circles as: A Lay Down Sale, because they just laid down and spread their legs without making you work for it. They always have the twenty bucks on them if you drink in respectable gin joints. Yes, real world marketing will require you to go outside where it’s people-y. You will have to invest about +/-$120.00 but I make twice my usual royalty selling books in this way.

At a minimum, you MUST HAVE these two promotional items printed with your book details, and kept in your car at all times: bookmarks for going to bookstores and libraries, and business cards for impressing women in bars. Please feel free to substitute out my sexual preference for your own. I do not wish to offend or be insensitive, it just comes naturally. This investment will be +/-$100.00.

If you require help with your social media launch event, budget for it. Barter if you can. Free signed hardcovers can often do the trick. +/- $40.00 shipped.

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Run a targeted e-mail campaign to introduce the book to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs etc. via a professional looking press release. At least 1 out of 10 e-mails should generate a sale or you are doing something wrong. Expect to lay out $50.00 to $100.00 for creative plus $2.00 / contact unless you DIY. A total investment of +/-$250.00 should do the trick.

Have a quality website to showcase your book, which also allows you to publish a weekly blog. I recommend WordPress as they have powerful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, and you can feed all your social media sites directly from there. Budget at least $500.00 for a well designed operational website WITHOUT CONTENT. If you cannot upload your own content without trashing the site, then you should double your website budget.

Your advertising budget is only one part of your overall book marketing budget.

Advertising campaigns are about REACH so we must not spend it all in one place. Plan to spend your ad budget as follows: 30% in the first 30 days after your public release event, 30% in the next 60 days, and the last 40% to be used equally throughout each of the nine remaining months of the year.

Welcome to the low cost and usually low yield world of digital advertising . . . or The CPC Jungle as I like to call it. (Cost Per Click)

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CAREFULLY TARGETED facebook boosted posts with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED do let us reach our desired audience for a brief time.

Just as with facebook and their endlessly diminishing organic reach, Amazon hates authors too; but for the life of me I don’t know why. We certainly pay them enough. Maybe itz cause we’s smart. Amazon gets extremely weird when you do not publish, distribute, and use their POD (Print On Demand) division EXCLUSIVELY. It’s like they would rather have total control than extra revenues from “outsiders”. If you plan to be an “Amazon author”, I would recommend advertising there for a 30-day period to test the results—again with VERY SMALL BUDGETS ATTACHED. Ideally you will make this move once you have hit their magic number of twenty reviews or when you have climbed atop your CATEGORY; whichever comes first.

Tip: When bidding in an attempt to make your ad more visible, double the CPC bid Amazon suggests.

Evaluate the effectiveness of advertising with them after the 30-day period, or when your CPC budget has disappeared, as to whether or not the ad campaign can become self-sustaining based on your royalties earned.

Do the same on Ingram Spark ONLY IF you can afford it. They want more money than the other two, but they are about getting your paper books seen, and their distribution channels are vastly different than Amazon so your OVERALL REACH will be magnified.

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Once you have a good number of stellar reviews, run a second targeted e-mail campaign to influencers: media, bloggers, stores, book clubs, libraries etc. via a professional looking newsletter. Again, your return on investment should be at least 1 in 10. Try and get that from social media. Another +/-$250.00.

Consider a book signing in your favorite local bookstore only if the store’s management and staff are enthusiastic. Some larger stores may have NYT best-selling authors in their store every week, so they may not give a rat’s ass about you—pick your spots. This will require an easel and signage from a print shop. +/-$200.00

Libraries often have book clubs that love a meet-and-greet with any author. They are more easily impressed than the bookstore crowd. If you don’t frack things up too badly, they will often buy your book for the club to read. That’s like a dozen books sold for an enjoyable 15-30 minutes of your time autographing books. The car might need gas. +/-$25.00

Attend local book fairs, and if you think you have earned a vacation and wish to travel, tie your vacation to a major book convention somewhere on the planet. Vegas baby! NO, this does not come out of your marketing budget despite what you tell the taxman.

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Bookstores are not the only option, local “artsy” shops, card shops, and the café where that barista works who smiles a little too much, are great places to sell books—no consignment bullshit either. Just walk out with a check and e-mail them the invoice; and don’t forget your date with the barista. +/- $100.00

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Goodreads could potentially be a great place to spend some advertising quatloos, and to engage with readers. My e-mail notifications tell me I have a bunch of followers there even though I never visit. In essence, it is an online book club filled with genuine readers. The only downside I can see is, it’s part of the Amazonian takeover of the world, and as a result you will have another CPC to manage. When the day comes when I finally lose it completely on facebook, I will go there. I find myself working on that final post in my head more and more these days.

How to discover what your advertising budget looks like:

We take our total book production budget of $5000.000 and subtract all the known production costs totaling $1825.00 which we will round up to $2000.00. This leaves a total marketing budget of $3000.00 less the previously discussed fixed marketing and promotional costs totalling +/-$2000.00. This leaves a total ad budget of $1000.00 to be allocated as follows to create an advertising schedule which is based on the 30-30-40% allocation of funds discussed earlier.

Month 1: facebook $300.00 = $75.00 / week budget, boosting a single post each Friday at noon EST.

Month 2: amazon $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Thursday morning.

Month 3: Goodreads $150.00 = $37.50 / week budget, starting each Friday morning.

Month 4: Ingram Spark: $150.00 max.

Months 5-12: $250.00 / spent where your gut tells you. I sold more books by sponsoring one charity event than all the sales created by three years on social media.

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Fundamental Rules of book marketing:

Rule 1:
ALL ADVERTISING STOPS when your average book rating dips below four stars. There is no saving it.

Rule 2:
Any skipped step in the above plan might have been the one that REACHED a major influencer. Do not close doors leading to opportunities!

Rule 3:
In the first four months after release, YOU MUST STICK TO THE PLAN. Just because you had some apparent success last month on one site, does not mean you abandon the strategy.

Rule 4:
A great book never stops being great. It only fades from view through a lack of commitment from the author or publisher.

Check This Out!

My latest interview is up on Renee’s Author Spotlight.

We talk about my book, writing, and this crazy business.

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You can get a free copy of Renee’s dark fantasy book: Shadow Stalker just by clicking on the link.

It’s a good day.

Banned Books! Let’s see if this post will get banned.

WARNING!

THIS POST CONTAINS PROFANITY WHICH HOPEFULLY OFFENDS SOME LOSERS!

 

It’s really about WHO is doing the banning.

In the land of Auth, we spend too much of our time on social media instead of writing or editing which would better serve our readers. That being said, every once in a while something truly interesting blows up in our news-feeds and this is my take on the latest of those.

K Webster’s: The Wild has made a big noise of late because (if I have my third party facts straight) Amazon and now apparently Smashwords have refused to sell her latest book due its content. It should be noted, I do not read most of the genres that my social media “friends” write in. My information has come from a couple of blogger friends whose opinions I trust, even though I challenge those opinions when they get too far from center.

Here is what I have found out about Ms.  Webster:

  • She is an above average writer who, apparently, is a very nice person.
  • She writes “romance” a.k.a. “mommy porn”.
  • Her facebook author page actually says she writes “reckless romance”.

I think it is this recklessness that created the shit storm which neither she nor her book rightly deserve.

On the upside, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

So WHY did this seemingly nice lady do this?

The 99.97% of humans who have never written a book, and who never will, cannot possibly understand what it feels like to complete a work which has taken months or even years to finish. We are absolutely elated. I can best describe it as the feeling you have after great sex, only it is your brain that had the orgasm and not your body. The afterglow lasts for weeks instead of minutes and I swear it is a hormonal response, but I have zero supporting science to back this theory up. Our brain had a baby and our hormones are all messed up.

Postpartum Elation excuses aside, (I own this. © 2017 :D) Ms. Webster made some mistakes:

  • She either did not use alpha-readers in her process; or she chose unqualified fans as alphas; or she ignored warnings that should have come from them about the “taboo” aspects of the book.
  • Her editor, if she used one, should have reeled her in, just as mine did when I thought  it was okay to publish thirty pages of explicit sexual content in my non-fiction book.
  • Her proofreader, or betas reading the galley, should have questioned the content and pushed for the use of a crystal clear reader advisory.

If she left all of the above out of her process, then she learned her lesson the hard way.

Good writing is an intellectual exercise. Great writing adds in an emotional investment component from the writer to the intellectual exercise.

  • Great writers go off the rails while writing passionately, and this is why the publishing world employs editors.
  • Great writers want to push beyond the boundaries of their previous books, and again, this is why the publishing world employs editors.

It is entirely possible that K Webster is a great writer who, at the same time, is also an irresponsible publisher.

This brings us to my opinion of what I have seen on social media:

  1. K Webster can write whatever the fuck she wants, and I will defend her right to do so with my fucking life, if need be.
  2. Book publishers, distributors, and retailers can carry whatever the fuck they want, and I will defend their right to CHOOSE with my fucking life, if need be.
  3. Writing about a “taboo” subject is not an endorsement of that behavior, nor does it imply that the author engages in said activities—you fucking piece of shit book burners.
  4. REAL STATISTICAL STUDIES SHOW that abnormal behavior is not caused by reading. It is far more likely to occur in those who do not read and who have a history of abuse themselves, Get your fucking head out of your fucking ass and LEARN before you voice a fucking opinion.
  5. Publishers and self-publishers like K, have a responsibility to inform prospective readers about ANY content which depict characters engaged in activities “outside of societal norms” or which could trigger a negative psychological event in a PTSD sufferer. If we do not regulate ourselves, you can bet your asses we will have moronic government fucks thrust this upon us, and they will go straight for our covers.

My PG13 (ish) book has the following on the website:

About the intended reader and a caution:

Ms. Creant was written by a man, from a man’s perspective, for men, and those soon to become men. Yes, many women have embraced the book as well, but it is doubtful any young female teenagers are likely to be handed a copy. It is difficult to state the exact age a young man should begin to explore the realities which lay ahead for him, so my first thought was to say age thirteen—the sooner the better. HOWEVER, I recommend we err on the side of caution. The book contains adult situations and sarcasm that the youngest readers may not comprehend without adult guidance to give them some clarification. This could cause an important message to be lost on them, or worse, they may embrace the poor behaviors illustrated. There are both young men and boys in the age range between thirteen and fifteen with significant variations in maturity levels found throughout the group. We can safely state that a young man is ready for Ms. Creant when he has experienced any of the following life events:

  • He has a poor attitude towards school.
  • He has been rejected by a girl.
  • He has a girlfriend.
  • He has had his first sexual encounter.
  • He has had his first heartbreak.
  • He has been caught with alcohol or drugs.

Reality check:

  • Amazon and Smashwords CHOSE not to sell her book. This is a risk every writer takes when they venture too far from what society deems to be acceptable behavior.
  • To see some of America’s REAL banned books, visit: The Week for an article by Lauren Hansen and Theunis Bates. This is truly disturbing.
  • Censorship is not a giant corporate entity doing what they feel is best for their business.
  • No one is telling her she cannot sell her book. They are merely saying they will not sell it.
  • No storm troopers came to her door to confiscate her books.
  • Did she cause outrage? You bet.
  • Will she benefit from all this negative publicity? Probably, if she sells copies from her own website or out of the trunk of her car.
  • Was this a staged publicity event? From what I hear, she doesn’t seem the type.