In Praise of Henry Pritchard

  

And who is Henry Pritchard? He is, among other things, a self-published author in the truest sense.

There is a British rock band named Temples that is currently touring the United States. They are quite popular in their native England and in Germany, and a few other places. Temples is currently attempting to replicate that success in the U.S. by climbing into a van every day or two, driving a medium to long distance, unpacking their gear and setting it up, playing a set or two at a small venue, then unplugging, loading up, jumping in the van and doing it all over again. They are assisted in this endeavor by a gent named Henry Pritchard, who is their driver and guitar tech. The latter job involves a bit of knowledge of sound acoustics, engineering, electricity, and the occasional use of duct tape and a glue gun when things go FUBAR in the middle of a hot guitar solo. It’s definitely a job for a young man who has an old and experienced soul.
Pritchard is also an author in the truest sense of that word. He writes what my daughter Annalisa calls a “zine” and I call a “chapbook” (“Oh, where did this chapbook come from?” “It’s a ‘zine, Dad.” “No, it’s a chapbook.” “No, Dad, it’s a zine.”). Regardless of what we call it (and Pritchard also calls it a zine), the title of Pritchard’s publication is applecore. It is a digest-sized paperback publication consisting of around seventy-six single-spaced pages, held together by a pair of small but sturdy staples in the middle of the spine along the crease. applecore is not entirely unlike the broadsides that Richard Brautigan used to give away or sell on the streets of San Francisco before he became unhappy and famous, or the Pocket Poets series that City Lights (the publisher and the bookstore) publishes and sells. Pritchard has been publishing it since around 2001. He’s up to twenty-three issues (which I suppose qualifies it as a ‘zine, if it’s numbered and issued on an irregular basis) as of this date. The content consists of his memoirs though he’s about ten years behind at this point (note: if you’re going to write your memoirs, start when you’re in your late twenties, so you can remember everything). Pritchard divides his first person narrative into chapters (which I believe qualifies it as a chapbook) and it’s not uninteresting. As one might expect when one hangs around with and is employed by musicians, Pritchard drinks and uh, smokes quite a bit but some interesting things have happened along the road of his life, from being unemployed to attending university to landing a pretty good gig as a band road manager.

How does one acquire applecore? While the world has moved ahead since applecore #1 was published some fourteen years ago, Pritchard is content to be very low tech in both the format and dissemination of his work. He sells issues of applecore for two dollars from the “merch” table (where one can buy music, tee-shirts, bumper stickers, and other band memorabilia) at Temples’ concerts. In a reluctant nod to the times, Pritchard also “markets” it from his Facebook account  and accepts payments through PayPal through his email address. And that’s it. No Amazon, no Barnes & Noble, no Hachette. Pritchard’s other writings can be found for free on his blog, if you want to sample his work before laying down your cheddar for a physical copy.

One takes the sense from the vignettes contained on Pritchard’s Facebook page, blog, and applecore that he leads what might tactfully be called a nomadic existence, one in which a fixed abode is not an element. One also, upon reading applecore, gets the feeling that Pritchard likes it that way. He is only responsible for himself, and does not have a home or apartment which owns him. Somehow, however, moving from town to town and couch to couch, Pritchard gets it done, and gets it done pretty well. His narrative moves ever forward with occasional side trips, and friends move in and out the scenes without warning, explanation or transition. It gets confusing, sometimes, but it also puts you in the moment in the best kind of way, even if the moment occurred a decade or so ago. The important thing, however, is that he runs his whole show. There is a downside to that, of course. I doubt that Pritchard sells enough copies of applecore to earn a living; he probably clears enough to buy some liquid refreshment, or, uh some other substances (if his stories in applecore are any indication). The important thing for our purposes, however, is that he cares about his art, and it shows. He has four people proofread his work; his writing is coherent, interesting at worst and (occasionally) riveting at best. Issues of applecore don’t feature a die-cut dust jacket, but they are functional — they can fit in your pocket, and don’t crack when you sit on them — and turning a page won’t leave ink on your hands or the feeling that you need to reach for the handjel or the Phisoderm.

No, what Pritchard does is tell a story without worrying about whether he’ll get an ‘A’ or four stars from this or that reviewer. He is pleasing himself, and hopefully the reader as well. Isn’t that what it’s all about, ultimately? And getting it done? I recommend that you check out Pritchard’s blog and Facebook page, see what you think, and buy an issue or two of applecore from the guy. It’s almost four times the page count and half the price of a new Jack Reacher short story, if that puts things in perspective.

While Pritchard may be unique, and not so much off as around the radar, I don’t think that he is alone out there in the backwoods of the lo-tech, primitive do-it-yourself world. Do you know of anyone else who is doing something similar? And are you? If the answer to either question is “yes,” please let us know how we can sample the goods.
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Amazon and Goodreads, Sittin’ in a Tree…


I do not visit Goodreads as often as I should. There are readers out there who spend hours on it, and yes, I probably should as well, but I am one of those people who is good socially only in small doses, whether in person or in cyberspace. I only

use Facebook to wish folks Happy Birthday; I text better than I talk, but never instant message; and I rarely visit Goodreads. Part of the reason for my lack of use of the latter is that I cannot keep up with my reading of those books of which I am already aware; if I discovered, say, an entirely different genre — such as redneck noir, to name but one — it might send me entirely over the edge that I am already toes up against and leaning forward.





I as a result have only a (barely) working knowledge of the site. I know that it is very user friendly; the opening page treats me with more respect than do my children. It does a wonderful job of pretending that its happy to see me. Maybe I don’t visit often because I know that if I did I might never leave. It is just as well, for I discovered today that Goodreads loves another, a suitor known to its friends and detractors as “Amazon.” They haven’t set a date for a nuptials, but a ring has been proffered and accepted, and a dowry promised.

I’m thinking — and I cannot stress enough that I am stating this from a position of ignorance — that, as with other marriages arranged for the purposes of uniting dynasties, this one could result in offspring good and bad. I was amused to read that one of Goodreads’ co-founders asked its users “…what integration with Kindle would you love to see the most?” I was sorely tempted to respond “Kindle. From behind” but felt that such would perhaps be inappropriate. No one asked how the friends of the parties felt about this coming together, however (though that hasn’t stopped Scott Turow from weighing in). 

Until now. I am asking you: how do you feel about Amazon purchasing Goodreads? What do you see as advantages or disadvantages for authors, publishers, readers, and the entities themselves? Is this a good thing or a bad thing, overall? Should Amazon maintain an editorial firewall, if you will, between itself and Goodreads? How will we even know? Ready, steady, go!

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A Thanksgiving Birthday

I started fulfilling my Saturday obligation by writing a post about an experience which I had with an order fulfillment company. I hit page six before I realized that no one wants to read six-plus pages of a story of little interest to anyone other than myself, particularly over Thanksgiving Day weekend. Accordingly, I herewith present a much shorter story and a much better one.

Thanksgiving Day landed on my granddaughter Samantha’s sixth birthday this year. We accordingly had the traditional holiday dinner but wrapped it around the context of her special day. That meant turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and the like served out on a Spongebob Squarepants tablecloth with paper plates and napkins to match. She loved it, but enjoyed her presents even more. Her requests were somewhat outside of what one might expect from someone who regards kindergarten as a police state and has become a person of interest in the principal’s office. Samantha wanted “stuff to paint with.” Stuff, she got. Such stuff consisted of an easel with a dry erase board on one side, a blackboard on the other, a paper roller and cutter, shelves for paint cups, brushes, and of course more tempura paints than I can identify (I am colorblind, so that’s not a major deal, but she still received lots of paint). She painted all day long, and now every wall on the first floor of our house is covered with artwork, two or three layers deep, in some places.
Samantha asked for something else, however, which she also received: notebooks. Spiral notebooks, of all shapes and sizes. Done. I never thought to ask her why until she opened them. “I want to think of stories and write them down,” she said. What can you say to that? If I was physically capable of turning cartwheels I’d still be doing them. I don’t need to tell this group why, but I will: you can take all of the videogames and YouTube shorts and Facebook pages and all of the minutes that people spend with them and despair of the total, but if six year-old girls still dream of writing then there is hope for the future. And that made my holiday.
I certainly don’t think that I was the only one who had an uplifting and defining moment the Thursday last. What was yours? Or — unlikely as it might seem — did you witness or experience something on Black Friday that warmed your heart, or gave you hope? We’d love to read your story. Some of us might even need to. Please share.
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Tips For Using Facebook

I’m preparing a workshop on Social Networking that I am giving on Sept. 8 and so I thought I’d share some of my tips with you. Let me know what you think about this material, which is only part of my presentation, and if you have any more advice to add.

Here is my author page if you want to “Like” me: http://bit.ly/c3YchC

If you are starting out, sign up for a Personal Profile Page. Add a profile picture. In the About section, put your links on top so they show first and then follow with your bio. Put in only the information visible to the public that you want to be seen. Where have you worked? Type in your publishers. Add a Project: List your book titles. Be careful with your contact info. How do you want people to reach you? To make changes on your Profile page, click Update Info.

I advise against giving Facebook access to your email address books. To find friends, type in someone’s name whom you know, and then click on his friends to find mutual acquaintances.When you qualify, and I forget how many friends you need, sign up for an Author Page. Click on Create a Page. Upload a banner or photo for your heading. Keep in mind that when a visitor lands on your page, they may only see the bottom part. Also leave space for your avatar. After you have 25 friends, you can shorten one of your links here: https://www.facebook.com/username

Apps and Tabs on your Author Page: Search for “Static HTML for Pages” in FB. Click Add to my Page. Select your fan page in the pop-up window. You’re allowed 12 tabs. Here are some to include: Author App, Blog, Excerpts, Events, Likes, Newsletter (Sign-Up Form), New Releases, Photos, Videos. Click on the little pencil in upper right corner of each tab to change the image or to swap places with another tab. Author app: https://apps.facebook.com/authorapp/?ref=ts

Import your blog into your FB pages using Networked Blogs: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog

To edit the Author Page, go to your Admin Panel. Click on Edit Page. Note you can switch users and use FB as your author persona. That’s under Edit Page also.

A word of warning: Facebook doesn’t like you to run contests on its site but you can mention a contest you’re running elsewhere.

Periodically check your privacy and account settings by clicking on the little arrow on the upper right next to the Home button.

Make a post by filling in the box that says, What’s on your Mind? or Update Status. Then click on Publish Now. Use links and include photos when appropriate.

Click on Home to see other people’s posts and to comment on them. You can also “Like” a post or “Share” it with followers on your wall.

On your Author Page, click on one of the down arrows on the Admin Panel to See Your Insights. This will give you an idea of how many people viewed your posts, if anyone shared them, etc.

Link to your FB account from your other social net sites if you wish, but be careful not to flood people’s walls with your posts.

Join Groups. Periodically check through your list to see if you’ve been added to groups without authorization. If this occurs, click on that group. Click the arrow for a choice to Leave Group. Sometimes people enter you into a “Conversation” as well, and you can Leave Conversation as an option. To view your Groups list, click on “See All Messages”, top left middle symbol after “Facebook”. Groups will be listed in the left column. Or click on “Home” on your profile page. You can see your Apps here too.

Periodically remind folks to “Like” your FB fan page and to sign up for your newsletter so you can maintain contact.

Avoid clogging your posts with sale messages about your books. Share other links, newsworthy articles, and friends’ book releases in addition to your own. Be personal. Tell what book you read or movies you’ve watched, what recipe you’ve tried, or what sites you visited on vacation—but mention it after you are home. Don’t tell people you are going away beforehand. Also be careful not to get too personal about your family life. Always be aware of safety and security.

This applies to photos, too. Be careful of posting anything you don’t want strangers or your boss to see.

Tagging: You can create photo albums and tag people in your photos. You can also tag people in your posts by using an @sign before their name.

Successful authors on Facebook hold virtual parties, have interactive promotions, and stimulate discussions. Start a debate, take a poll, get a hot topic going. This shouldn’t be all about you. It’s more about the connection readers feel to you as a person.
 
I’m sure there’s much more advice out there, but these are the main points I have to make. Does anyone out there have additional tips to offer?

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See Me, Touch Me, Feel Me


Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits. I was doing the former on the Thursday last, wondering how I was going to fill my Saturday space, when my UPS delivery man (one of God’s truly good people) provided me with the answer. It came in an over-sized black padded envelope, and didn’t feel quite like a book, even though it bore a return address from the fine folks at HarperCollins. I was able to open it after a bit of struggle and the deployment of a knife, scissors, and a flamethrower (in that order). Demonspawn, our family cat, immediately appropriated the envelope, and was last seen attempting to contact his darkworld masters through the closed end; I took possession of the contents. These consisted of an oversized milk carton and a mass market paperback titled “and she was” by Alison Gaylin. The milk carton is a four-sided advertisement for the book.  My initial reaction was, “What the fu-heck is this?” My second was, “This is pretty cool.” I have been described as easily amused, and hard to impress. This little bit of advertising slight-of-hand, worthy of Donald Draper, managed to do both.
The conventional wisdom is that you’ve got to get out on social networks, groom and cultivate your website,  and make friends with a fourteen year old to show you how to use Twitter if you want your book to have a chance of getting noticed, let alone of selling copies.  And it’s probably true. But this milk carton as marketing tool is retro thinking out of the box. “and she was” concerns a missing child, and indeed, there is a picture of the child on one side of the carton. The other sides contain blurbs from Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner; an essay from Ms. Gaylin about Hyperthymestic Syndrome, an element which figures prominently in the book; and some bullet-point marketing information with a photo of the book cover.  
Expensive marketing? Sure. But. The milk carton is our new kitchen table centerpiece. Unlike Facebook and websites and Twitter and the like one can pick it up and touch it and be reminded of the fact that the book is out there and for sale and there’s a copy of it sitting nearby, waiting to be read.  No one has asked me to review the book, but of course this is what the whole package is all about. And the premise certainly looks intriguing. Hyperthymestic Syndrome involves the ability of a person so afflicted to remember, in full, any given day of their life, with all five senses. If I had learned of the book via e-mail there is a 50-50 chance I would have read it. Send me a milk carton, and I’m your loving baby boy.  I’m going to read “and she was” and I’m going to review it.
Am I old-fashioned? Or is there a marketing genius at HarperCollins who is taking us back to the future? If we all are using Facebook and Twitter and e-mail blasts to hawk our wares, are we making their particular needles stand out? Or are we all busily building a brand new huge haystack in cyberspace? And does it mean that to really, really make your book stand out, it is going to take more money than ever  to do so?
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See Me, Touch Me, Feel Me


Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits. I was doing the former on the Thursday last, wondering how I was going to fill my Saturday space, when my UPS delivery man (one of God’s truly good people) provided me with the answer. It came in an over-sized black padded envelope, and didn’t feel quite like a book, even though it bore a return address from the fine folks at HarperCollins. I was able to open it after a bit of struggle and the deployment of a knife, scissors, and a flamethrower (in that order). Demonspawn, our family cat, immediately appropriated the envelope, and was last seen attempting to contact his darkworld masters through the closed end; I took possession of the contents. These consisted of an oversized milk carton and a mass market paperback titled “and she was” by Alison Gaylin. The milk carton is a four-sided advertisement for the book.  My initial reaction was, “What the fu-heck is this?” My second was, “This is pretty cool.” I have been described as easily amused, and hard to impress. This little bit of advertising slight-of-hand, worthy of Donald Draper, managed to do both.
The conventional wisdom is that you’ve got to get out on social networks, groom and cultivate your website,  and make friends with a fourteen year old to show you how to use Twitter if you want your book to have a chance of getting noticed, let alone of selling copies.  And it’s probably true. But this milk carton as marketing tool is retro thinking out of the box. “and she was” concerns a missing child, and indeed, there is a picture of the child on one side of the carton. The other sides contain blurbs from Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner; an essay from Ms. Gaylin about Hyperthymestic Syndrome, an element which figures prominently in the book; and some bullet-point marketing information with a photo of the book cover.  
Expensive marketing? Sure. But. The milk carton is our new kitchen table centerpiece. Unlike Facebook and websites and Twitter and the like one can pick it up and touch it and be reminded of the fact that the book is out there and for sale and there’s a copy of it sitting nearby, waiting to be read.  No one has asked me to review the book, but of course this is what the whole package is all about. And the premise certainly looks intriguing. Hyperthymestic Syndrome involves the ability of a person so afflicted to remember, in full, any given day of their life, with all five senses. If I had learned of the book via e-mail there is a 50-50 chance I would have read it. Send me a milk carton, and I’m your loving baby boy.  I’m going to read “and she was” and I’m going to review it.
Am I old-fashioned? Or is there a marketing genius at HarperCollins who is taking us back to the future? If we all are using Facebook and Twitter and e-mail blasts to hawk our wares, are we making their particular needles stand out? Or are we all busily building a brand new huge haystack in cyberspace? And does it mean that to really, really make your book stand out, it is going to take more money than ever  to do so?
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Thanksgiving Supper Rules for Social Networking

by Michelle Gagnon

Clare’s excellent post on Monday discussed what not to blog about. I thought I’d add an addendum to that, based on something I read recently about employers Googling prospective employees and checking their Twitter and Facebook feeds. It got me thinking about crafting an online persona, and how the list of “do’s” and “don’ts” is basically the same as our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table commandments.

I don’t know about you, but we have a wide and varied mix of relatives huddled around the turkey every year. There are aunts and uncles who define themselves as Tea Partiers, liberal cousins who spent a significant chunk of the past few months hunkering down at various Occupy demonstrations, and everything in between. To maintain the peace and insure that stuffing doesn’t start flying across the table, we established these groundrules:

  1. No discussion of politics. This includes snide and offhand references, thinly veiled metaphors, and oblique asides. I realize that at times, this can be a tough rule to follow. After all, we are in the middle of a run up to a major election, and the national discourse has become increasingly polarized. But based on past experience, finding a middle ground for a free exchange of ideas is challenging when everyone has had a couple tumblers full of Aunt Millicent’s Magic Punch. Not everyone might agree with me on this, but I feel the same way about posting on social networks–staking out a soapbox can lose readers, which as an author is not a good thing. Even if you aren’t a writer, do you really want a future boss to reconsider hiring you based on the fact that your political views diverge? If you just can’t resist reposting that link to the latest outrageous act by Congress/police/protestors, do what I do and set up a separate, private Facebook account that is limited to people you actually know and trust (of course, those constantly changing privacy settings still make this a potential minefield, so proceed with caution).
  2. Ditto for religion. I respect the right of everyone sharing my cranberry sauce to worship whom or whatever they want. But things tend to get sticky (no pun intended) when you try to explain to Grandpa that he’s been wrong all these years, and the true savior is Lord Zod. Again, this is the sort of thing you can put on a private page, if you feel so inclined. But this is another hot button issue that could alienate more followers than you end up gaining.
  3. Swearing. Don’t do it. I have a friend (in real life, and on Facebook and Twitter) who has been known to put sailors and truckers to shame under the right circumstances. This same friend will instant unfollow anyone who uses offensive language in a post. There’s an impact to words in print that shouldn’t be underrated. And really, it’s generally unnecessary. You can always resort to $%#^&.
  4. Embarrassing Stories. The worst part of social networking is that these can be accompanied by actual photographic evidence of said embarrassing moments, which is always the kiss of death. So if you wouldn’t tell your five year old nephew about spending the weekend passed out on the floor of a train station, why would you broadcast it to the world?
  5. Cats. Okay, this one isn’t necessarily on our Thanksgiving tablets, but I’ve learned the hard way that any negative comment about felines will result in an instant loss of roughly 5% of your followers. It’s true–try it if you don’t believe me. So I call this the “Rita Mae Brown” rule. Be nice to the kitties online. You don’t need to go so far as posting adorable photos/videos of them, but it’s also a bad idea to share one of a cat falling out a window.

In a world where we live increasing portions of our private lives online, the line between what gets shared and what doesn’t has become blurred. It’s remarkable that some people tell utter strangers tidbits about their inner thoughts and prejudices that they probably wouldn’t share with close friends. Many people mistakenly believe in the illusion of anonymity, assuming that a post about the awful mistake you made last night will soon be forgotten. The truth is, years from now that same nugget could be unearthed, with embarrassing consequences.

Just for fun, here’s Stephen Colbert’s take on it. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Social Media Marketing Made Easy


Since the launch of my e-books I’ve been getting emails from author friends, some of whom are flummoxed or annoyed about the whole social media marketing thing. These are established writers, too, who feel under pressure to Tweet this and Facebook that, and blog the other thing. All of which takes time away from what they want to do most — write fiction.
And then there are the newbies, who are being told You have to have a platform even before you have a book, which always seems like telling a Sea Scout he has to build a boat before he can go to the beach.
It’s a real concern, because too much stress and attention put on self-promotion and marketing can actually have an adverse affect on your writing, and even your personal life. You can take away some of this pressure away if you look at options that will enable you to have a large following on platforms like Instagram such as using the help offered by Buzzoid. Going to https://buzzoid.com/buy-instagram-followers/ could prove to be a fruitful venture for you. OTOH, an author does need to get in the game in some way. There are of course ways you can streamline the process – we’ve all spent countless hours choosing the perfect character name, but luckily that doesn’t have to be the case for social media. Tools like this instagram username generator can streamline the process, so you can get back to worrying about the umpteenth supporting character you’re just about to introduce.


So what’s the balance? What follows are some tips for getting a foothold in social media marketing. They seem to work for me, so do with them what you will.
1. Specialize
Don’t try to be active on every possible platform. You’ll end up diluting your effectiveness in each. Instead, choose two or three and get really good at it.
For me, it’s primarily blogging (here at TKZ) and Twitter. I find the substance of blogging once a week, and the real time of Twitter each day, the perfect blend. On occasion I drop into other blogs and comment if I feel I have something to add to the discussion. I do have a Facebook author page.
I do an occasional video, like this one on writing advice.
The smartest social media guy I know, Thomas Umstattd of Author Tech Tips, says, “It is much better to specialize. Seth Godin does not do Twitter or Facebook. He just has the most popular blog ever. Be faithful in a few areas and then you will be ready to be faithful in many areas.”
2. Don’t Be Like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross
Remember the famous Glengarry Glen Ross speech delivered by Alec Baldwin? “ABC – Always Be Closing!” The hard sell, all the time.
Not in social media. If it’s always about you and your books, it gets tiresome fast. You may think you’re doing a numbers game, like sales folk, who cold call with the same script over and over until they land a fish. At the very least, use a service like Just Deliver It to streamline the process.
In social media, the key word is “social” as in “relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for beneficial exchange.”
Don’t be repetitive, sending the same tweet or message over and over again: Please follow me on my fan page. Followed a day later by, Please follow me on my fan page. You might as well type Apply directly to the forehead because that’s what people will want to do with the headache you’ve given them.
Try to give each message a unique spin or angle. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Prove it.
3. Use the 80/20 Rule
Spend 80% of your social media time focusing outward. Interact with people. Provide good content. Link to other sites and articles of value. Be personable. Make people glad they have you on their list of people to read.
Use only 20% of the time to “sell” something. And even when you do, don’t make it a generic “Buy my stuff” (BMS) kind of thing. If you do BMS over and over again, people are going to tire of you and find ways to avoid your posts.
Instead, always provide some sort of reason people should buy your stuff. Maybe it’s the launch, which you can announce winsomely and with a little panache. Or a contest. Or you’re providing some proof of value (such as a clip of a review). You can be clever in how you word things. Anything but “Buy my stuff!”
4. Don’t Hurt Your Writing Time or Your Life
If you find your social media presence detracting from your writing time and your ability to produce quality words, cut back. If you’re on Facebook more than you’re with your family, check your priorities. This stuff isn’t as important as either of those two things.
5. Don’t Sweat It
No one knows what works. In fact, even the stuff that works doesn’t work all the time. This is a fluid and un-measurable sea we’re in. So find a good balance, provide quality, be consistent and be patient.
Most of all write great books. That’s the key to repeat business, which is what makes a career.
So what about you and the social media scene? What are you doing that works? What frustrates you?

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FACEBOOK IS HERE TO STAY: A Great Medium For Free Exposure

By: Kathleen Pickering

I have seen three TV shows in the past week where characters mentioned Facebook. This fact cements in my mind that Facebook as a media tool is here to stay. So, my question is: Are you still not on Facebook?

If you’re like my mother, you are not, and never will be, on Facebook. (That’s a story for another time.) However, if you are a curious planet dweller with a story to tell, Facebook is a phenomenon not to be missed. It is the perfect tool for authors or artist of any sort. The ability to reach millions of people for free, and as personably as humanly possible on the Internet, creates an outrageous boon every author needs: Contacts! Lots of ‘em!

Writing Facebook BuddiesAuthor friends and fellow Facebook Buddies. Top L to R: Allison Chase, Nancy Cohen, Linda Conrad, Kathleen Pickering, Heather Graham. Bottom L to R: Traci Hall, Marcia King Gamble, Michael Meeske.

For those of us on Facebook, here are some quick tips I have learned to enhance your “Tribe” of friends:

For making friends:

When you offer and/or accept friend requests always add a note to the request, i.e., “Thank you for the friendship. Feel free to visit me at http://….” (or mention the topic that connects you as friends.)

Create Groups:

Build a tribe of your own with chat groups to discuss items relating to your business or areas of interests shared on Facebook. Go to your Message section and click on the “Groups” tab on the RH side. Then, click “Create Group” on the top. Send the group invitation to everyone on your Friends List. Be consistent with your Tribe with regular contact. Use your Group/ Tribe solely for relationship building and providing value to your group. Send them links to your blogs and videos. Note: Only promote business once per month, maximum. Your group is not for marketing; it is to establish you as an expert in your field.

Create Events:

When holding an on-line or on-site event and want to attract attendees, create this link. It is important that YOU be the Event Leader. It sets you apart as creative and reliable. Again, the Events link is found in the Message Section. Be sure to add an email contact for RSVP or inquiries. This is a great tool for building contact information. Tip: If you know how to build a Caputre Page for email captures, do not give the link to the event. Instead, set up a Capture Page for email captures to build your mailing list, then give the link to the event.

Tag Photos/Videos:

Take the time to “Tag” your friends in your uploaded photos/videos. This sends a direct link to their Facebook page as well as posts the photo/video on your profile page.

Create A Fan/Business Page:

Where your Facebook page is your social activity, your Fan Page is your business face. Both pages can be linked. (See Help Section under “Account”.)

Ideally, no more than 30 minutes per day should be all you need–either in the morning with your coffee or end of day before closing down business. If you cannot update daily, set a schedule that will work for you. They key: be consistent.

The more YOU reach out, the more you will attract visitors. Birthday announcements appear daily on Home page (right hand side). Send birthday greetings. (Stand apart from the crowd and use your computer’s camera to send a video and personalize your good wishes!) Respond with a quick reply to others’ posts, as well. You’ll enjoy the interaction as much as your friends.

Bottom Line: Facebook is your chance to shine and be recognized as unique among many by keeping a personal touch in the world of commerce. I have even gone so far as to place a Kathleen Pickering Welcome Video on my YouTube channel inviting folks to visit my Facebook page.

I invite you to visit me at http://www.facebook.com/kathleenpickering. Let’s be friends! If you know any Facebook tips, I’d love to hear them!

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You mean this does that, too?

It was a day of extremes.

I went yesterday to our local senior center to drop off some books for their library. I had a conversation with the ladies at the reception desk. Neither of them had heard of Kindles, or e-books in general. I directed them toward the Amazon home page, which for years has had that huge Kindle feature that kind of smacks you in the face and almost makes you forget why you arrived at Amazon to begin with. They looked at it, took the electronic tour, and decided that nothing beats a book.

I returned home later and another country was heard from. My daughter walked through the door after a day at middle school and advised that students, who cannot have cell phones with them during school hours (they have to be stored in their lockers), are now permitted to bring Kindles to school to use during study halls. And indeed, her fellow students are taking advantage of this policy Are they reading? Well…yes, reading what they are happily tweeting back and forth on Twitter and commenting on Facebook. I’m sure that this was not what the administration intended. In fact, it is quite possible that the school officials are unaware that Kindle is not just for reading anymore. It can be used for web surfing, listening to music, and yes, tweeting back and forth to keep one’s friends up to date on what is happening (“How R U I m soo bord!”). This hasn’t exactly been trumpeted by Amazon, but if you have a Kindle 2.0 or later, go to the home page, use the menu to go to the “experimental” link, and take a look. If the school thought that their charges would use this tool to catch up on their Cormac McCarthy or Robert Louis Stevenson (okay, or their Stephanie Meyer) they are about to be kissed by the goddess of disappointment.

As someone noted recently, the rate of change is accelerating everywhere, it seems, except at your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office. Take phones, for but one example. Every time that I have been tempted to trade in my weathered but still functional Blackberry Pearl for the cellular equivalent of a trophy wife I have backed off. It seems that each day brings a new phone with a host of new functions. There are things that I could probably do with the Pearl — Jack Bauer used to download schematics of nuclear power plants with his — that I not only don’t know how to do, but also don’t know that I can do. Better to keep the less attractive but comfortable and familiar companion I have than to have to learn the bells and whistles of a new model. My son threatens to buy me a Jitterbug, which would be okay, actually. As far as technology in general is concerned, however, the demographics seem split into three groups: one that does not even know what technology is available; one that is aware of it but underutilizes it; and one that takes the potential to its designed limits, and even beyond. And that is true of the Kindle as well. There are still folks who think a Kindle is something you do to a fire. The majority of people who know it as an e-book reader may be unaware that you can do more with it than read on a sunny beach. And then, of course, there are the younger whiz kids. If that son or daughter of yours has suddenly seemed to acquire a newfound interest in reading which is manifested by taking a Kindle to school you might want to quiz them on what chapter of what book they’re reading. DY feel me?

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What I’m reading: THE FALL by Del Toro and Hogan. Not that it’s scary or anything, but I’m on my second box of Depends.

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