NOTES FROM A REMOTE NORTHEAST REGION OF PUBLISHING

Thoughts on Blogging

A surge in visitors have found their way to my home page but I haven’t written anything in sixteen days. When I write a blog, the bar graph shows my Internet home soaring to skyscraper heights. For a few days I am living in a penthouse in Manhattan at the epi-center of the publishing world then things settle back down to my modest ranch house on the fringes of suburbia where a dozen or so people stop by each day, travelers along the Internet highway who stumble upon my roadside rest stop.

My blog tells me where my readers come from. It’s helpful in an analytical sort of way. As a busy innkeeper and writer by night, this helps me allocate my time better.

Do Twitter followers follow the link to my blog? Rarely.

Do visitors to my blog click on one of the links to the three books I’ve written that brings them to Amazon where they can buy the books? No, not very often.

What do I do with this information? I cut back on Twitter and take a break from blogging because honestly this is all about selling books, but how do I keep myself in the public eye? I don’t know the answer to this question and I wonder if anyone really does, because suddenly during this second week of my blogging hiatus, and despite all the advice to pimp yourself all over social media, I have been averaging thirty to forty visitors a day which is a decent amount for me on a week I haven’t written anything new.

They are hitting my homepage, the place where you can read About Me, but where are they coming from? There is a very unhelpful category titled Unknown Search Engines, sometimes accompanied by somewhat helpful hints from the search terms used, such as the ever popular my fat ass or jumping cactus, which brings the folks searching for info on the Jumping Cholla Cactus Garden of Joshua Tree National Park to my most popular blog. My hope is they are amused enough by the blog post to stick around and read it, maybe buy a book or two, and then move on to find what they were really looking for. You sell books anyway you can, one book at a time.

Then there’s Facebook.

In the past week, three guys I don’t know sent friend requests. There was very little info available on them. We have no friends in common and they have no friends I can view. No information is available on their profession, education, or location. They each have a picture of themselves with a girlfriend or possibly a spouse. Like my character Sam in Life Is All This, I am not always comfortable sharing myself on the Internet. It may seem to some that this examined life for the public comes easily to me but I much prefer writing fiction and many of my musings have been air-brushed for public consumption.

I ignore the friend requests.

Still Life in Connecticut.

My life as an innkeeper is busy and rewarding. Rich and I enjoy the work. One morning he actually said, “We were born to do this.” That may be true but I am also still driven to write. Some of the best advice I have heard, time and time again is:

Write the next book.

So I am doing that instead of wasting time on Twitter and other black holes on the Internet that fritter away precious time.

I am also trying to find new avenues to promote my books.

One day it pops into my head that I need to contact Tom Robbins. Why Tom Robbins? He is the author of Still Life With Woodpecker and one day a pompous New York writer compared me to him in a not so nice, very sarcastic sort of way.

So I wrote a letter to Mr. Robbins to let him know that despite the dripping sarcasm from the well-connected, self-satisfied New York writer, I was very flattered to be compared to Tom Robbins. I also sent a copy of my latest novel, Life Is All This. Yesterday I received a letter sent with a Batman stamp

Robbins envelope

FROM THE UNION OF MAD SCIENTISTS

Robbins letter

Tom is eighty-two years old and has undergone five optical surgeries since 2006. He is unable to do much extra-curricular reading these days but appreciated my letter, my kind words, and the copy of the book. Then he said this:

As for your rude pen pal, yes, there are among us any number of writers who seem to believe a page is a window pane that they must lick clean with their dull and often nasty tongues to afford a peek at some dreary tableau of social reality on the other side. Well and good — but that isn’t literature, it’s reportage. It’s falsified journalism. Such writers are neither creative nor nimble-minded enough to make of the page a door through which the reader can step into a fresh new world, a reality composed of ideas, images, and situations which heretofore did not (and often could not) exist. A book without imagination, without style, is like a swan without feathers: it’s just another dead duck.

Wishing you every good fortune, I bid you please…feel ridiculously fine.

I appreciated his kind words and feisty attitude. I think all along I knew it was a shot in the dark but I would have loved for him to read the book and give me a few kind words I could have used in an editorial review. That would have been over the moon awesome but…oh well.

Which brings me to:

THE TOPIC OF ELUSIVE AMAZON REVIEWS

So hard to attain. So important to selling books. In so many ways. An author friend of mine finally got her book on Book Bub and saw some amazing results. It took her three tries which seems to be the magic number. Book Bub is looking for a certain number of reviews, they won’t say how many but I’m guessing it’s at least over thirty or forty. I applied anyway, with my six reviews. I now have rejection number one under my belt.

When Book Bub accepts you and advertises your book, your sales jump. Then Amazon notices and starts putting your book on those lists If You Liked This Book You Might Like…. and there’s your book, maybe on the page for Anna Quindlen’s book, finally getting support from Amazon. My friend called it the halo effect.

My husband and I have quickly achieved a halo in the Union of Popular Innkeepers. The guest book’s pages are quickly filling up with glowing reviews.

“You are both a breath of fresh air.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you! What a wonderful stay.”
“We don’t usually write in these books, but we are so grateful for our experience here.”

Next Question.

How do I transfer this to my books and Amazon? Some of the readers of my newest novel, Life Is All This, had to have liked the book. Is it a fear of having to say something witty and erudite? Is it a fear of having to use words like erudite? Do they not want to use their name on the Internet? Do they not know they can make up a name, like Amazon Reader, Reads Lot of Books, Book Lover, Cat Lady?

This is a numbers game, folks.

And when you’re self published you only have yourself and your readers to promote the books.

I’m going to leave you with something from a very wise and sweet little girl I met earlier this week. She was here with her parents and her younger brother after they all dropped her older sister off at summer camp. Her father spoke only Japanese, her mother spoke a smattering of English. I could hear the adorable little girl and her three year old brother upstairs, running through the halls and giggling. Her American Girl doll sat on a chair in the sunroom while everyone made tea. They drank lots and lots of tea. After they left, we found a review in the guest book written in childish script with flowers running down the left side of the page, and hearts and curlicue periods at the end of the sentences.

I LOVE HERE. I LIKE THE PIANO.
I LIKE THE BREAKFAST. I LIKE THE GARDEN.
I LIKE THE HOUSE.
LOVE CICI
I AM 6 YEARS OLD.

CICI'S REVIEW

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2 thoughts on “NOTES FROM A REMOTE NORTHEAST REGION OF PUBLISHING

  1. I found you on a convoluted journey that started with my email. A follower shared my post on her G+ page and one of her followers commented on it. I went to add him as a friend and he had shared a post from iAuthor. Curious I followed it. Not interested in his share, but as I searched the Literary category I saw your cover and was drawn to it. Read the blurb and liked it. Read the you were an emptynester and wanted to read more. Wanted to “like” your cover so sign up to be a member of iAuthor, then found my way to your blog. I’m ordering your book!

    As an over fifty writer who spends far too much time trying to do what I’m trying to do online, your post resonated. My experience has been the same, and yet what are we to do? I gave away 100’s of copies of my book in an Amazone free giveaway and no one took the time to leave a review. If we don’t make it easy for them, it doesn’t happen. And Amazon doesn’t make it easy for us. They don’t give us a list of buyers. So it’s hustling twice, something I don’t like to do even once. My book was self-published and not my best effort so I’m taking it down and starting over. This time…..I don’t know….there’s still not a very good solution. So I just keep writing. That thing I want to do. An income would be nice. I keep trying to talk my husband into a B & B but it would be on him mostly, ’cause, well…I like solitude and writing! (Sorry for all the words. Can’t wait to read your book. I will leave a review.)

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    • Thank you so much, Dorothy. I’m so glad you found me and I’m fascinated with the journey that brought you here. Which book are you buying?

      Stay in touch. I don’t blog as frequently as I once did. This is busy season at the inn but I am taking lots of notes and have two books in process. I hope to blog a little more by September.

      Happy reading,

      Sheila

      Like

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