Friday, March 28, 2014

Follow Friday - and Why!

Twitter's "Follow Friday" concept, where users post a small list of their most appreciated followers, tends to be annoying after a while.  Some, if they're mentioned in a #FollowFriday post, will retweet that post, thereby sharing all others on the list as well. If just two or three followers repost, everyone else on the list is flooded with multiple notifications.

I thought I would try something that might provide a little more value in the spirit of Follow Friday. Instead of simply listing users in a tweet, I'll tweet a Follow Friday link, and bring any interested Twitter users here, where they can see not only who I'm recognizing this week, but why. For all concerned, this might be a more productive approach to sharing and generating followers.

So, here is my list for Friday, March 28, 2014 - along with their Twitter Profiles - and a comment or two from me!

@wyld_stallyn
I make short movies promoting animal shelters because it's the badass thing to do youtube.com/CountyofSDDAS
[My nephew and partner in RoadTrip crime - and a writer of award-winning screenplays]

@TheBookScrubber
I edit, therefore I am. thebookscrubber.com
[My niece and owner of this editing/proofreading service - without her, my book wouldn't have seen the light of day!]

@SymposiaBooks 
Hudson County's last & only bookstore! We sponsor community events and buy/sell used books. Our space is available for rental. Support our mission
[I'm on the other side of the country from SymposiaBooks, but I appreciate that they will retweet my book news!]

@TheKindleWhispe 
#USAF Vet, Ret #EMS, #indieuthor of Trauma Junkie, #scifi Shades of Amber, Screenwriter & Future #showrunner, Join KM & I will tweet the SH&T outta your books.
[Another faithful retweeter of my book news!]

@RashaGoel
Entrepreneur, veggie food junkie, and owner of Bollywood Step Dance! Kinda nice, sorta naughty!
[Good Friend, has appeared in one of my documentaries, and sometime collaborator]

@FloresFamilyFun
[The Flores Family provided some great feedback as I wrote my first book! I call them my Canadian Contingent]

@ChristinaKenway
Author of the middle grade novel, The Dragonlord's Heir, and the Ascalon Trilogy. Cosplayer, gamer, and lover of all things Batman.
[I think I last met Christina when she was about a year old. Thanks to Facebook (and her grandmother), I can follow the emergence of this YA author!]

@andymooseman
Managing Editor of The Stinger magazine, Co-founder of Pierless Music, Radio DJ, vlogger, blogger, music lover, ex-Drummer, blah, blah, blah.
[Resident of Hastings UK, I first met Andy during a Santa Monica YouTube meet-up in 2010, and caught up with him in Hastings in 2013]

@kenrg
Just a guy who spends too much time online  kengoldstein.ca
[We go WAY back. I could tell ya stories. An old high school friend and YouTube/social media veteran]

[I keep threatening to make a documentary about a certain Florida family that's dedicated to YouTube - here they are!]

@HappySuuz
People know me as FUR's mom - But I make videos too! :) Love GOD, my family, YouTube, the Keys and Disney!  youtube.com/HappySuuz
[The Mom. These kids have incredibly cool parents that fully support YouTube madness- one of the reasons I'd still like to make the documentary]

@Fur24
I'm FUR! Yes, MY NAME IS FUR! :) I'm a 16 yr old who shares my life and personality making content for YouTube - so... WHAT THE FUR!?! - JOIN ME! :) youtube.com/FUR
[Aspiring filmmaker, writer, and dedicated YouTuber]

@AntinnyWorld
I am me, you are you, and we are in my world now. Welcome to My World!
Look behind you  ·  youtube.com/AntinnyWorld
[YouTuber, Musician - and he wrote a fantastic review of my book. I quote him]

@DrewDudeTV
I LOVE making Youtube videos, playing video games, doing art, watching TOBUSCUS, CRUSHING ON JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Spending time with God and my family! :)    youtube.com/DrewDudeTV
[11 years old, emerging YouTubers - and he bears a striking physical resemblance to Alexander, the main character in my novel - if I can afford to get down to Florida, he just might be in a book trailer...]



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Short Story Ebook Published: Now What?

As of today, my ebook-only short story Why Do You Think They Call It a Ghost Town is available on Amazon sites worldwide (including the US, UK and Canada). It's already available from other popular ebook retailers, as well.

While this short story helps me to establish a slightly larger presence as a writer - one of my prime objectives as I continue to work toward completion of my second novel, I'm still considering how I might promote this work.

This short story is simply entertainment - it doesn't pretend to be anything else. While "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" addresses aspects of bullying, and the second book in the series will address self-image issues, Ghost Town places Alexander in a real-life ghost town of Bodie, California for a creepy little adventure. It developed out of visits my nephew and I made to Bodie a couple of years ago.

Here are a few questions I'm pondering:

  1. How can I promote short, light entertainment?
  2. How can I encourage readers to port reviews for a short, light entertainment? 
  3. Since my primary audience are likely to be middle-grade readers (extending to about thirteen or so), how can I reach that age group effectively - and, will they be interested in this sort of short fiction?
  4. Should I consider a fully illustrated physical edition of this book, perhaps offered in time for Halloween? It might prove to be a major undertaking, but could be an attractive platform for this particular story.
Meanwhile, I continue work on my second novel, obsessively check my Amazon and Bookbaby stats, experiment with promotional tools, and contemplate my path forward as a writer.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter, @rickflix

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Short Story Eyeballs

I'm still waiting for Why Do You Thing They Call it a Ghost Town? to turn up on Amazon - though BookBaby's stats show that it should be showing up any moment now. In the meantime, I remain puzzled as to how to effectively promote a short story. While there are extensive resources online to help an author promote a novel or  non-fiction book (resources I haven't yet learned how to use too effectively, by the way), I haven't yet discovered a strategy to raise awareness of my short story.

Of course, this short story doesn't have the same "heft" as "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain." The novel is about Alexander's wildly outlandish fears of bullying, while Ghost Town is, really, a simple tall tale about Alexander's experience in a wild west ghost town.  While I think it's fun, (though I'm still waiting for reviews - insert serious-face emoticon here), I'm really not sure how to encourage readers to purchase a short story. To be perfectly honest, I've rarely purchased a short story online.

Actually, selling the short story was never the primary objective. Since the follow up to "Food Chain" has taken longer than anticipated, I wanted to make certain I maintained some level of creative output as I build my presence as an author. I also saw the idea of creating a series of "Alexander's Shorts" as a good way of cross promoting the "franchise." Ideally, I'd like to be publishing a new story every couple of months, and a new book every year.  To reach that goal, I need to find a way to build awareness and readership.

Alexander needs eyeballs.

Remember, you can follow me @rickflix

Friday, February 28, 2014

Short Story Rising

As I write this, "Why Do You Think They Call it a Ghost Town?" is rolling out across all of the tradtional e-book sites. This is the second publication I've released online, and the first short story I've distributed.

I handled "book" (it's only 35 pages or so) differently than my novel. I designed the book. The cover, with the exception of the "Alexander" icon was my design, and I created the e-pub file without professional involvement.  With "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," I submitted the manuscript to BookBaby (for the ebook) and Createspace (for the paperback), paid for design services, and simply reviewed the finished product. In this case, I was hands-on, beginning to end.

The process was a bit tricky at first, but the learning curve was pretty shallow, thanks to some good written and YouTube tutorials. My first attempt at submitting to BookBaby wasn't successful, due to some illegally named photos, but that was an easy fix, and I was able to make the fixes right away and send them back for final approval.

I didn't try to edit or proofread, however, and hired the good folks at http://thebookscrubber.com to maintain professional standards. Needless to say, the only obvious typo I've seen so far is on the copyright page, which wasn't submitted for proofreading (word to the wise - proofread Everything!). I'll likely do this again for future short stories; I won't likely attempt this for a novel. There's too much to track, and my attention span won't allow a precise job to that extent! 
 
As I said in my previous blog, I'm waiting with anticipation to see how my short story - in particular, a short story for middle grade readers - will fare in e-book form. I'm also curious to see if it does effectively cross-promote "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," which is, to paraphrase from the comic book world, Alexander's origin story. 

The standard description, by the way - the short description that appears on the sales sites - doesn't mention the book directly. Though "Why Do You Think They Call it a Ghost Town" features characters from the novel, it's designed to be a standalone story. My hope is that readers will be entertained enough to check out the book, which is mentioned on the final page. 

I apologize for the cliche, but "The Adventure Continues."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Ebook Short: Why Do You Think They Call it a Ghost Town?

I've just started the process of releasing Why Do You Think They Call it a Ghost Town?, a standalone short story featuring Alexander, the protagonist in "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain." In this story, Alexander visits the real-life ghost town of Bodie, California. At first, he thinks the trip is going to be one big bore - after all, who wants to look at a bunch of old buildings? Then, he makes some unusual new friends.

It will be launching shortly on all the usual sites for just $.99 [until then, I'm making a copy of the story available free to those who join the "Food Chain" Facebook Page and request it. If you see this notice on my blog, it's still available!].

I'm very curious to see if or how this sells - short stories do well on Amazon, but this story in particular is designed primarily for middle grade readers - and I'm not certain if that age group accesses electronic short stories. It's a fun experiment. I'll be looking forward to seeing how it goes - and what you think!


I'm still working on the second book in the "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain," and plan to offer several other stories in the "Alexander's Short" series. As always, I'm interested in your thoughts, feedback (and reviews!).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Everyone is a Mystery


One of the motivating factors in resuming my everyday blogging schedule was a moment last week when I realized how much information I've had the opportunity to absorb in just a few days.

I'm working on a documentary project that will bring me aboard tall ships in the Port of Los Angeles, so I've been learning about the different types of sailing ships.

I'm creating a documentary about high school students in the regional Science Bowl competition. I can't say I've learned much about science (they compete at a level far above my science knowledge!), but I've had the opportunity to learn more about L.A.'s diverse cultures. In particular, I learned about President Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug. The rug was handcrafted nearly one hundred years ago by 1,400 orphans of the Armenian genocide as a thank you to the United States for its help in relocating thousands of orphans to what is now Lebanon. To this day, the rug remains hidden in White House storage, a victim of political sensitivities between Turkey and the United States.

More indirectly, through my interaction with documentary subjects and crew, I've gained knowledge about fine wine, as well as hacking a conventional oven to properly bake a pizza [it involves breaking the safety lock that kicks in during the self-cleaning process, so that the pizza can be super-heated - be forewarned - it's a safety lock!]. I've heard the works of Chinese and Armenian composers placed by vastly talented teenage musicians and young scientists (there's a fascinating correlation there).

I suppose the richness and variety of all of this information seems exciting. What we experience everyday could either be seen as trivia - or as small pieces of a larger puzzle. We can either devalue information as random, or understand it as clues to individual lives and experiences.

In the midst of writing a novel, perhaps I'm hyper-aware of the clues we all offer to our our individual personalities just by sharing information.

Social interaction suddenly becomes much more fascinating if everyone is a mystery...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

#Blogging Everyday Works Best

Throughout the month of January, I challenged myself to write a blog a day, everyday. It wasn't easy, but I somehow made it through. My readership and reach through all my social media was way up, and I felt that the experiment was a great success. When I reached the end of the month, I breathed a sigh of relief. It's not easy keeping up the pace. I decided that I'd slow down a bit, and commit myself to a resumption of a regular blogging schedule - though certainly not every day.
I'm having way too much fun
lately - I need to share more!

It's a funny thing, though. While I've managed to post a couple of blogs in the last couple of weeks, I find that this occasional schedule somehow feels inadequate. There's been a great deal going on in my life lately, but without the post-every-day urgency, I haven't taken the time to share most of it. somehow, I feel guilty about it.

The "eternal" social media question, or course, is Why? Why take the time to post and promote content? After all, with work, my ongoing writing projects, and everyday responsibilities, I don't exactly have an abundance of free time.

The most shared blog entries that I offered in January related to my experience and opinions as a writer and author of my current book.  I don't tend to follow the "Top Ten" model, or posts that try to draw readers with overblown hype ("The Greatest Secret They'll Never Tell You").  I enjoy sharing my experiences, and learning from others. In fact, my book - my entire re-dedication as a writer - came about as a direct result of observing certain creative YouTubers who share their own creative process.

I'm going to resume an (almost) everyday schedule because it gives me the opportunity to share my own creative process - hopefully encouraging others in the process - and allows readers to get to know me as a writer.

And writers write everyday - blogging everyday doesn't allow me to procrastinate!