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 7)

You will need my revolutionary new Bullshit-o-Meter 5000!

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Order before midnight tonight and I’ll also send you my HOW TO BECOME A RICH AUTHOR video with the same super deep discount, subtitled:

There Is One Born Every Minute & How to Fleece Them.

There are SO many snake-oil-selling salespeople hovering around and feeding on unsuspecting authors that it would be laughable were it not for the authors who get taken for thousands each year by charlatans with lawyers or marketing packages that yield nothing.

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Here is my List of Hungry Zombies Authors Should Avoid:

a) Social media campaigns run by third party promoters who promise your book will be seen by their 100,000 followers, twice per day, seven days a week . . . If by being seen they mean scrolled right over, then there is at least some truth in their claims. It would be interesting to see how many fake followers they have, but who has the time. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 is humming.

b) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ask for money.

c) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You will pay for the books and shipping, only to “mysteriously” begin to see used versions of your book appear on your book’s Amazon page, eBay or craigslist. If reselling your book isn’t already bad enough, they don’t review it either. This group fracked me out of hundreds of dollars. Don’t let it happen to you no matter how legitimate they may appear. They are scammers, plain and simple.

d) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards asking for money.

e) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You see where this is going. There are a few that will give you the award by refining the categories down until you are the only one left in it, but you will probably have to buy into multiple categories—each with its own entry fee—to be sure of becoming an Award-Winning Author.

stock-photo-gold-winners-trophy-with-golden-shiny-stars-721703176Legitimate and meaningful book award organizations have a nomination process which begins with your book being referred to them by a trusted party. You probably will not even know this has happened until

THEY CONTACT YOU.

Hell, if you send me fifty bucks, I’ll give you my exclusive and very prestigious sounding award (because it is in Latin) that will make you an

Insignes Literatura Winning Author

You don’t even have to send me your book, just the money. If you get nine of your author pals to send money as well, I will build a website to legitimize the whole thing to the casual observer.

f) The We Will Handle Everything for You Publicity / Marketing companies will usually do what they claim, as long as your checks keep clearing. Typically, you will find options to suit any wealthy person’s budget, ranging from a basic book launch for $500.00ish to the Hillary plan in the tens of thousands. So, if you have a foundation with your name on it, you are good to go, but no matter which plan you choose, your royalties will never cover the costs. Publicists are for those people who write books to create a secondary revenue stream in support of their primary occupations. The best examples these days are politicians, scientists and celebrities who wish to stay in, or return to, the limelight. These publicity companies are often promoters of trade shows. Do not exhibit your book in EXPOs if you will not be there to network. I rolled the dice on this expense for a $0.00 return. It’s the equivalent of putting your book on a shelf in the Library of Congress for five days; nobody knows you are even there.

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g) ANYBODY who is selling you on the DREAM instead of tangible proven services. Their pitch usually goes something like this: ‘It happened for E. L. James and J. K. Rowling . . . so it can happen for you.’ This one has been known to break the Bullshit-o-Meter 5000.
These examples are anomalies. Forget about them.

h) ANYBODY who is trying to tell you to give away your work for nothing or next to nothing. There are more and more sites popping up everyday promising us that if we pay a small membership fee, mark our books down to where we no longer receive a royalty, and play well with others on the site, we MIGHT get a bunch of new reviews which COULD cause an upswing in sales even after the promo-period ends. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 has smoke coming out of it.

If any readers are willing to show me how any of the above mentioned actually grossed more royalties than they cost in either time or quatloos, I will happily print a retraction.
There is no magical formula that will sell any book to every person for little or no money. Marketing is mostly about common sense, or at least it was until the Internet came along.

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.

Author Truths for Beginners (Part 2)

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Even if you bleed on the pages there will be detractors.

This brings us to the second thing every aspiring author should know.

Social media is replete with anti-social behavior.

In fact, these sites are little more than a soapbox for some of the worst sociopaths out there. Also, regular use of social media has been scientifically linked to increased unhappiness, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicides.

I SO get it!

After spending three years in a social media prison of my own making, I drink way more now than ever before, and trying crack cocaine to escape the preponderance of insanity exhibited there, is no longer out of the question. It’s probably a good thing I am a starving author who cannot afford drugs. Is this change in my outlook towards escapism merely a coincidence? I don’t think so.

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Tips to avoid becoming this guy:

  • Spend only the time that you must on social media. It is not a healthy place. Social media burnout is a real thing. Just ask any of your author friends on facebook, and they will tell you all about it.
  • Do not expect reciprocity. You will probably LIKE and SHARE far more often than others return the favor.
  • Being an author means you have gone into the book selling business. Sharp business people realize “Time is money.” Understand that without advertising, maybe 1% of your followers might actually read your book(s). Budget your time spent on social media sites accordingly. Here is the math that no author I know, including myself, pays any attention to:

10,000 followers x 1% book buyers x +/- $3.00 royalty = $300.00 / your hours invested.

My social media investment is really taking off. I make 14 cents per hour, now that I have cut back on the time spent there; when only one year ago the number was 3 cents per hour. So, I have that going for me.

Why do it at all?

We do it for the 1%.

  • Engage with your very special 1%. Readers, reviewers, and supporters are what makes social media tolerable in small doses.
  • To preserve your sanity, learn to UNFOLLOW, BLOCK, or even UNFRIEND those who post police brutality, animal abuse, racism, sexism, posts promoting division, photos of the bandits ruling America regardless of party—basically anything in your feed which causes a revulsive response within you.

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  • If you are a woman, opening your Messenger to a new male follower is like having to choose to between cutting the blue or red wire to defuse a time bomb several times per day. It’s an inevitability that you will make the wrong choice eventually and BOOM—dick pic.

These are YOUR sites to manage how you want.

Don’t let others tell you what you must tolerate in order to be “successful” on social media. Those days are gone. Social media no longer has the influence it initially had with agents, publishers or the book buyers of the world so keep the time you spend there in perspective. If you do this, you will find yourself with a significant amount of extra time to use on more productive pursuits like writing, e-mail campaigns, or trying to find a drug dealer in an upscale family-oriented neighborhood. It’s tougher than you think.