Some of the articles under the Self-publishing Articles section on this blog are a little dated. The principles have not changed but some of the wording needs an update. These articles cover various aspects of self-publishing along with other articles that focus on writing. That said, it’s time to consider revisiting some of them to bring them into the present.
This is where you come in. Are there any articles you’d like me to update or express new views on?
Let me know either via email or via the comments below.
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has quietly launched a new social media site focused on accurately reporting the news in an effort to shrink down the amount of misinformation and false articles passed around on other social networks.
For a time, I deemed Wikipedia untrustworthy because it’s open-edit system meant anyone can add anything to any subject, but–so far as I know–Wikipedia has tightened up their practices and data for whatever subject you look up now needs to be cited or it has a warning if information is unsubstantiated.
Anyway, I’m very interested in this site despite being in Heavy Broadcast Mode because checking the news is part of my daily routine, and if there is a place I can read the latest articles under whatever topics I choose and know they have been verified, well, that sounds good to me.
I don’t fully know how the site works. It’s similar to other social networks but seems to have a strong focus on news and articles as opposed to social interaction. Not that social interaction isn’t a part of it, but, at least at this early stage, appears somewhat limited.
The site is free despite not gaining revenue from ads, but you might wind up on a waiting list for a short while before being granted full access. You can skip the line by getting a monthly or yearly subscription. I don’t know, as of this writing, if having the paid version is a way to access more features or if it’s simply a case of supporting the platform and what it stands for.
What I do know is social media is a wasteland of bad news, people complaining, and drama. To have WT.Social doing its thing might pave the way for a new type of social media because, clearly, the current model is causing people mental health issues and that’s never a good thing.
To join me on WT.Social, please visit here or use the little icon on the right or the caption to the image above.
On September 14, 2019, I launched my first Patreon page. It was a thrilling day and one filled with hope and excitement. Sure, part of the reason to create the page was to supplement my writing and drawing income, but, having been part of Web culture since close to the beginning of my career (circa 2000), it was an opportunity for me to create a place on the Web to share cool stuff with people in a kind of “club” format.
See, I have this problem of creating a ton of stuff for free and putting in on the Web whether via this blog or social media. As of today’s date, I’m on here blogging articles, essays, and musings Monday to Friday, my free weekly newsletter goes out on Saturdays, I started up a YouTube channel again, and I’m doing Inktober and sharing those sketches on social media (see the icons on the right). I enjoy entertaining people and, if I was in a place where money was no object, I’d gladly share all my work for free. But I can’t. I need to eat, need to buy supplies, need to cover costs, etc. so I have no choice but to charge for my work hence adding Patreon as part of my platform.
If there is one major aspect of Patreon I truly enjoy, it is the idea of having a special place on the Web where people use a key (money) to unlock a door (my Patreon) to get stuff only available on the other side of that door. It’s an opportunity for me to virtually sit down with a group of people several times a month and go, “Look what I made. Hope it entertains you. Hope it educates you.” Almost like show-and-tell but, hopefully, much more entertaining. And, in the end, that’s what Patreon stands for for me: My patrons. They’re a special group of people who were willing to shell out a few beans to help a northern jackass like myself keep making entertainment for them and others.
(Side note to explain what creators mean when they say buying their work or supporting their Patreon enables them to keep creating. They are not saying that without the support they can no longer create. A creator creates and always will. Just how it is. What they are saying is your support buys them the greatest and most precious of all commodities: Time. Time is the most valuable thing on the planet. Once a moment passes, it’s gone forever. No going back. No storing it up. It’s not even in abundant supply because we all die. If a creator spends their time doing everything but creating–I’m talking surviving life stuff not blowing hours on social media–then we’d have no entertainment. By supporting a creator, you’re filling up their Time Bank Account instead of them spending their Time Dollars on things that hinder the hours needed to create something. Even if ten hours a week can be supplemented, if the creator is responsible, they now have ten extra hours to make stuff for you. It’s win-win on both ends.)
I’m only about a month into my Patreon journey. It’s been wonderful so far and I look forward to the days that are scheduled to upload new content. Right now, a new chapter of my creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, airs every two weeks (a new chapter went up today). On the off weeks, I put up essays on the creative industry and also treat patrons to behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Central. Of course, there are also extra blog posts for everyone as well as patron-first announcements where my patrons receive news before the general public. I’m still finding my footing regarding what else to offer. I have a plan for an ongoing special something for patrons but it’s not ready yet. Perhaps in the New Year, perhaps sooner. Regardless, I’m pleased with my current offerings and am excited to share more as time goes on.
My patrons are my special group. They are those who’ve gone the extra mile by way of monthly support, and for that I am grateful. I want to publicly thank them here and I want to offer a thanks to future patrons as well.
Once more I’ll state my belief that blogging is not dead, just misplaced. In a world of quick social media posts and soundbites, it’s easy to forget the Web is loaded with websites chock full of information, entertainment, and news. Many folks are dissatisfied with the way social media has gone and how it affects their mental health and overall well being, so I encourage you this coming week to spend time web surfing to see what you’ll find. Check out articles you’ve been meaning to read, creator websites you’ve been meaning to go to, topics you’ve been meaning to investigate.
As an invitation from me, please take a moment and explore this blog. There is a lot here by way of free entertainment and free information. A decent portion of my creative output is spent giving readers things for free and I want you to take advantage of it so you can get to know me as a creator. On this site alone you have access to numerous articles, artwork, movie and book reviews, links to other creators, and more. This blog–the magic of blogging–is my way of getting information and entertainment to you in a way social media doesn’t let me. This blog is my house and you’re welcome to stay here and put your feet up for a while.
On a personal note, I’m enjoying blogging five days a week. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and information with the world on a platform that is my own. I’ve always believed writing is about honesty and that any creator needs to live and express themselves honestly without fear of what other people think. There are enough clones in this world and part of the role of the arts–when handled without pretension–is to speak to the human condition and portray things as they are uncut and uncensored. This role also falls on the creator and not just their work. The idea of art being about self-expression (that is, the work created) but not the artist themselves being self-expressive is a contradiction. I’m not saying an artist needs to put their whole selves on the display for the world to see, but I am saying that–and I’ve seen this countless times over–it’s a disservice to the reader or viewer for the artist to put across one message with their work but then muddle that honesty by playing to the public and telling the public what they want to hear instead of being truthful in whatever is being expressed.
The magic of blogging is that a blog is one way for a person to express themselves honestly. Sure, some folks might not like what they read. Others will be all over it. The point is that the expression was made and, frankly, these expressions will be all that’s left of us after we leave this world. I’d rather leave bits of my true self behind than an illusion for the public.
This is my approach and arguments can be made against it being the right one. What I do know is that my blogging and what I blog about works for me both professionally and personally. And that’s really the trick, isn’t it? Finding out what works for you? The only way to do that is to experiment and play around and find your groove. Only then will you, too, discover the magic of blogging.
All right, let’s talk straight. Specifically, let’s talk author platforms. You’ve read the articles. You’ve been told how important they are. You’ve been given a list of what to include. Heck, you’ve even taken all that information to heart and acted upon it.
And the book sales aren’t happening.
So you keep at it, hoping one day it’ll all pay off. Day in and day out you bust your tail on social media and the Web only to keep missing your goal sales-wise. Or, perhaps, you hit it some months and others you wonder what it’s all for. Frustration sets in and you don’t know what’s going on. You did what Author A said. You got your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your blog, your Instagram and all the others—yet still you’re just another author voice shouting into the storm.
Here’s the issue: you’re following someone else’s advice. Worse, you’re following it to the letter and in the game of publishing, following the author platform advice to a T is a death sentence.
This is why:
▪ Publishing is a giant crapshoot. There is no sure-fire way to do anything. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or trying to sell you something. While true there are basics and groundwork you can lay, that’s all those things are. Yes, your standard author platform recipe should be part of your game plan. That’s no different than saying you want to sell your book but you know you can’t sell your manuscript as is. You need to make it pretty and put it between two covers before you can do so. That’s a given. The basics.
▪ The standard author platform isn’t working for you is because you aren’t making it yours. You’re making it like someone else’s or, simply, following the basic recipe without adding the personal tender loving touch that makes your cookies taste better than the other guy’s.
This is how to fix the issue, written step-by-step, but don’t treat it like an instruction manual. Customization, you know?
Lay down the standard recipe. All good baking has a fairly consistent base across the board. Have your Facebook page, your Twitter, blog, Instagram and all that. Customize each page and make it about you and your books then commit to a Web plan where you’re active on each on a regular basis.
Start adding the TLC. Don’t make your Facebook page like Joe Famous’s. Make it like yours.
I hate the word “brand” when it comes to this author stuff. It turns us into a product and, frankly, art is never about product. It can become a product, but should never be a product. See the difference? This world is sickly loaded with consumerism and people pushing products non-stop twenty-four hours a day. Most of us have tuned out the racket. But what draws us and captures our attention? Unique items and unique people. This so-called “brand” you’re supposed to become? How about voice? After all, your voice is what makes your art what it is to begin with. Why turn that off when sharing it with people?
So . . .
Format and design your pages to reflect you and your books. Don’t be all authorish. Don’t be all bookish. Don’t make people feel like they’re in a stuffy library when they visit you on the Web. In other words, don’t be so professional you come off as cold. Cold people suck.
Into baking or crafts? Build that into your page designs and content.
Into superheroes and comics? Put up some indie superhero character art as part of your banner and pictures.
Into sci-fi and tech? Give your page(s) a mechanical flare and make the electro-junkies squee on the inside when they visit you.
Into horror? Spook it up, man.
Get the idea?
With your on-line base of operations already established, leave it alone for a bit and start playing around with other marketing ideas.
Some items . . .
▪ Set up book signings. Table at conventions. Hook up with some craft shows and flea markets. Arrange a book tour, say, local at first then, depending on success, look at traveling out-of-province/state, even country.
▪ Set yourself up as a unique property at these events. Don’t just have a plain table. Add some posters and signage. Add some props. Display your books in a pyramid-like tower. Stand out. Fool around. Don’t be the lonely author who sits there with a handful of books laid out boring and flat in front of them, longingly gazing at the passersby, your eyes pleading, “Please come talk to me. Please come buy my book.” I mean, you took all this time to personalize your on-line presence, why wouldn’t you do the same for your off-line one?
▪ Casually bring up you’re an author into everyday conversations. You can subtly work your pitch into whatever you’re talking about with someone—choose appropriately, of course—and at a bare minimum leave them with a business card. But have books on-hand or in your car in case a sale is to be made. Trust me, it happens.
▪ Go to open mic nights and share story excerpts or poetry. This is your chance to pimp your work, network and perhaps get hired for new projects.
▪ Do workshops.
And a thousand other things. These examples are to make this point: lay your groundwork—that author platform—then play around with other marketing avenues. You’ll be surprised what works. You’ll also be surprised at what doesn’t because what works for Author A doesn’t always work for Author B.
Book marketing is all about customization. It’s about finding what works for you and putting energy into those things while discarding the things that don’t after you’ve given them a fair chance (i.e. six months to a year or something). And you know what? Even that thing you did that didn’t work for your first novel might be the goldmine that works for your second one. Each book is different. Even each book in a series is different.
Authors want the easy way out. “I just want to write,” they say. Well, if that were really true, you wouldn’t be publishing as well, right?
Or they want to be told what to do: that standard author platform recipe. Come on. How can you be so creative in fiction then totally useless outside of it? Don’t you know your life is a story and so is your book career? That creative flare that you put on the page can be used off of it, too. Stop thinking inside of your book and start thinking outside of it.
After this article is drafted, my plan for the day is to revisit my platform, one that I’ve already customized to me over the years—self-publishing since 2004—and take inventory on what’s working and what isn’t. I’m going to make some changes and try new things. Going to add my own TLC instead of relying on the standard Author Platform recipe.
I’m eager to see how these cookies turn out. I already know my zombie chocolate chip ones are dead ringers for a win and my Axiom-man cookies are super.
Screw the standard author platform. It’s boring and useless. But your own? The one with your personal touch?