Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Critical Mass

One of the hardest things about making a living as a professional writer is selling enough books.  And to do that, people need to know about your book.  A lot of people.

Once enough people know who you are and trust that you will tell them a good story, reputation can carry you to new heights.  There was no massive marketing campaign that started the clamor for Fifty Shades Of Grey.  William Paul Young didn't take out ads for The Shack.  Even the initial sales of Twilight weren't at the stratospheric levels they finally reached.  What happened was that a few folks picked up the books and liked them, so they passed them on to friends.  Those friends then liked the books and passed them on to still more friends.  And so on and so forth.

Obviously the first piece is to have a story that appeals to a mass audience and is told in a way that audience will appreciate.  Those in that audience then need to be enthusiastic enough about the book to not only recommend it to others, but to follow up and try to get as many people as they can to read it.  That happens when your appeal translates into zealous obsession with fans.

With enough recommendations and pass-alongs, the novel will eventually reach a critical mass of readers.  That means that its sales and promotion will take on a life of its own.  Although the same amount of enthusiasm may not exist in everybody, momentum becomes strong enough that people begin to read it out of a sense of wanting to be in on the "hip" thing.  They'll see their friends reading it - and not just one, but several - and they'll want to read it if for no other reason than to not be left out.  Marketing becomes self-sustaining at that point.

Okay, explaining that was easy, but how do you do it?  Beats me.

Of course you need to produce a story that lots of people will like.  Notice that I didn't say you need to have written a good story - it's no secret that I take a perverse pleasure in ripping apart Twilight and Fifty Shades Of Grey.  I personally think that both novels are putrid works that are poorly written, but both Stephanie Meyer and EL James found an audience for their crap, and that audience loves the books.  I know how elitist it appears for me to rip on these best sellers, but I similarly can't deny that they found a niche.

Once you've found your niche, you need to find enthusiastic readers.  That's  the most challenging part.  Finding someone to like your book is hard enough, but finding someone willing to go out and shill for your book for free, merely out of a sense of liking what you wrote is like picking the winning Powerball numbers...twice.

That doesn't mean you don't promote.  In fact, it means quite the opposite.  You need to promote because you need to locate the core of that critical mass.  Find a few readers who will zealously promote your work to others, and see if those they promote to are just as enthusiastic.  If you reach that critical mass, then the readers will do most of the work for you.  Remember, it only has to happen once.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Clutching Of Pearls

I know that only a few days ago I told everyone to stay away from politics.  However, and maybe I'm naïve on this subject, I don't consider this a post on politics - I consider it a post on how we've become a society of sniveling wimps who not only go and hide when something we find offensive comes along, but that we're so afraid of other things that we don't think those things should even be seen.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article for a new show on HBO entitled Confederate.  It's set in an alternate reality where the southern states successfully seceded from the Union.  I can imagine all kinds of cool plotlines coming from such a concept - the Underground Railroad still active, northern abolitionists encouraging rebellions in the Confederacy, international tensions over those who interfere in the affairs of another nation(even if that nation is a pariah), and so on.

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of folks who are pissed about the show even being countenanced.  The creators - the same folks who are bringing us Game of Thrones - are involved and facing a backlash(to say the least).  It's as if the very presence of a fictional show will make people think, "You know, that whole slavery thing was really a great idea."  Re-read that sentence and tell me just how stupid it sounds when said out loud.

I will not be "unopinionated" on this - the folks feel this way about a show being made are morons.  It's a goddamn TV show.  It's entertainment.  And does anyone think that the shows creators, in today's TV world, will even dare suggest that the Confederacy are the good guys here?!?!  Or are they mad that we might use the show to both entertain and wonder about the horrors of what could've been?  Alternate history and reality are a BIG part of stories.  Are these same snowflakes mad about Fatherland, the series about a Nazi victory in World War Two and the dystopian world it produced?  Or the acclaimed miniseries The Man in the High Castle?  What about Bring the Jubilee or Guns of the South?

To all the gasping and whiny little weenies who would let their own sensitivities prevent the rest of us from daring to watch, much less enjoy, a show like this, I say "go fuck yourself."  I mean that sincerely.  Grow the hell up and remember that book burnings - which is what this is in a preemptive sense - are the hallmarks of backwards and primitive cultures that are afraid of ideas.  That's right - IDEAS!  For some reason, they think the position of racial equality and being opposed to slavery are so weak that a show set in an alternate but almost-happened reality will drag it down.  Or they're so mad that folks could take enjoyment from it and not separate it from real life and current history.

I'm all for true social justice and the equality of opportunity that should be a hallmark of our society, but there's no way I will ever condone this kind of overblown sensitivity and political correctness.  Those of you who are mad about the premise of this show need to get over yourselves.  If it bothers you that much, then don't watch the damn thing.

I'm ashamed our society has gotten so wimpified that we cannot take TV show ideas on the value they are(entertainment) rather than having to turn it into a personal political screed and tantrum.  I now hope this new show takes off out of sheer spite.  The silliness of this whole episode makes me wonder how we got to the point of attempted censorship(and let's be honest - that's what this is).  We have to fight back against these self-righteous and arrogant puritans of thought or they'll win by apathy.  We need to sit them down and tell them just how dumb they're being and that we're tired of being bullied because they get upset about things they dislike.  They are mental children, and it's high time we called them on that and stopped giving into the lunatic rantings.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I've Got Reviews!

Akeldama has been doing decent since its release, even if I haven't yet "hit the big time."  However, one thing I wanted to share was the reviews the book has been getting.  Akeldama is rated at about 4.6 stars right now, and I'm thrilled about that.  I wish there were more, but that'll come in time.  And I know I've told y'all not to engage with reviewers, but I don't think I'm doing that - I'm simply passing along what others have said; I'm not critiquing the reviews and getting huffy when I don't get five stars "OH MY GOD YOU'RE SOOOOO AMAZING" reviews.

Vegan Tour Guide said, "I am glad this book was recommended to me and I will be recommending it to others in return. Until now, this wasn't my genre of reading, however I love the action and story and so I'm IN and looking forward to more!"

CC Case said, "Imagine if Tom Clancy were running your Vampire: The Masquerade Campaign.  If you wonder what types of political machinations come about from over a millennia of conflict between cursed immortals and the organizations who sought to oppress them, you will also appreciate this book. Even then, you may not see the plot twist coming at the end. Good stuff."

Shopper Lady said, "As summer begins, I'm definitely itching for books a bit outside my comfort zone and RD Meyer's book Akeldama was definitely the book for that.  This book was definitely intense and not what I would say is a "beach read.""

Dolores Stewart said, "Now, this is a vampire book. You won't be disappointed....it's action packed!"

But don't take their word for it - read it yourself and decide.  And if you do, please leave a review to let everyone, including myself, know what you thought.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Facebook Is A Tool Of Satan

I was originally going to do a different post today, but I decided that one will hold until Thursday morning.  Instead, I've decided to use this space to discuss one of the most distracting things known to man - Facebook.

I got online this evening in order to make a blog post about something to do with my writing career, and I thought, "I'll just check Facebook real quick to see what's going on.  Five to ten minutes tops!"

Fifty minutes later...

I like to talk on Facebook.  I think most people do.  I use it to keep up with friends, act silly, and yes, talk about serious stuff like science and politics.  I know I've warned y'all not to discuss politics, but that's a public setting I was talking about, not a private one among friends and family.  And since I tend to be verbose, these things can go on for a loooooooong time.  In fact, I tend to be on social media more than an hour each day.  Just imagine what I could be doing instead!

Facebook isn't a drug, but it is like an itch you need to scratch.  Whether that itch subsides, and how much it itches, depends on you.  A guy I know named Joe Peacock gave up social media back in January.  He explained the withdrawal symptoms(no other way to describe the itch).  He got back on only to promote his new novel because that's where the people are, but he has limited himself only to promotion and not to engaging on mindless topics that do little more than outrage each of us.  In honesty, he's stronger than I am on this.

What's so damn important about what I have to say?  Why do I feel the urge to be so involved?  If it wasn't for seeing what friends are doing(I mean close ones, not the "okay-I-know-you-so-I'll-follow-you" kind), talking about the latest outrage is about all I use it for.  It's not like I have a special need to see what everybody had for dinner last night, or their kid's latest baseball game.

I've got to find a way to cut this thing off.  I think deep down I know I need to cut it completely, for I'm not one for doing anything in moderation, and I know Facebook will suck me back in.  I'm not ready yet, and don't know if I ever will be, but I recognize the problem.  At least that's a start(even if only a pathetic one).  I keep going back to what I could get accomplished if I stopped entirely, but I also know I get bored easily and will want to find some way to fill that empty space when I have time between stuff.  If life was easy, I'd figure this out and do it really quick, but if life was easy, I'd also be sculpted like a Greek god and already be on the NY Times Bestseller List - sometimes it's the hard of life that helps us grow.  Now I just need to try to grow...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Polarization

We live in a more polarized political world than I've seen in my short time on the planet.  Although the 80s seemed tranquil, there were some folks who didn't care for it.  The 90s featured a blow job and an impeachment.  The 2000 election was the most contentious I'd yet seen, and it probably kick-started the levels of hyperpartisanship we see today.  And while President Obama won by pretty comfortable margins, it's not like he enjoyed a dissension free tenure either.

However, the level of vitriol never reached the same levels of absurdity as I've seen these last few months.  Love him or hate him, Donald Trump brings passionate feelings on every side.  Intimating that you like and support him can ruin friendships and family relationships.  Saying you oppose him will bring out every defender that ever walked the face of the Earth, even if President Trump does something they opposed just a year ago.  Mention support for a conservative position or a liberal position and you'll find yourself the target of venom you never imagined from folks who are normally civilized.  It's as if our political positions and parties are so tied to our own identities that we are incapable of using any level of objectivity regarding those who think differently.

That's why it baffles me that I see so many writers now getting political.  The only times I've done so on this blog were when I tried writing from various perspectives to see if I could pull it off, and I never gave away which way I lean.  Today, people boycott writers, actors, and comedians who piss them off, even if the person normally enjoys that entertainer's substance.  Maybe when people get to be multi-millionaires, they figure there's no damage when they do or say something both really stupid and really partisan.  However, this is infecting even startup writers and actors who don't have the cache to maybe be an idiot and keep readers or viewers.

Is it because we feel so strongly that we just have to put out our personal views no matter how much that might piss off others?  Is our shouting at the wind really going to change things?  In other words, is it worth alienating half our potential audience so we can "be heard?"  Maybe some feel it is, but don't count me among them.

Folks, stick to writing.  If you want to share your views, do so with your family and friends(if you still have any), but keep it out of the public spotlight.  We need people to buy our stuff.  It may make us feel righteous to say all of this, but even those who agree with us won't necessarily buy our work.  Political views and entertainment tastes rarely coincide.  Just ask The Dixie Chicks.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Back To Work

Yes, the blog went dark for two weeks.  It has been a crazy time around the Meyer household, and I let things slip.  I wish I had a more compelling story than "I got overwhelmed," but that's the crux of why I went two weeks since my last post.

I also let some other stuff slip on the business side.  Sales for Akeldama have been going well, but I haven't had the time to do much on the business side of the house, including more marketing.  In short, I'm caught in that loop where I need to devote more time to become successful, but I don't have the time because I'm not yet successful.  I have a day job that I need if I want to do silly things like eat and sleep under a constructed roof, so I've been unable to devote 100% of my time to being a professional writer.  I have also been spending what free time I have with my family, and no offense, but if it's a choice between this and my family, my family will win.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Some of that will change shortly.  I have an author's page on Amazon that needs to come online, and I have another book to get ready for publication.  I may even have an announcement ready for Salvation Day in the coming weeks.  On top of that, I will try my best to get back on my Twitter page and Goodreads account.

So, does all of this come down to whining?  Perhaps.  However, I've used the time to come up with a boatload of topics(for the record, a boatload is 2.5 times greater than a shitload), so I shouldn't have to scramble for a while.  I should also be able to stay more in track with blogging on a regular basis.

Finally, I owe a huge bow of thanks to both Nicole Pyles and Sarah Hoyt for featuring my debut novel on their sites.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Signing Event


So today was my first book signing event.  First, I want to thank Park Road Books for their support in this event.  They gave me a venue and helped me immensely.  I'm grateful.

Second, the event was a little different than I envisioned.  I thought I'd start right at 2pm, give an overview of the event, read a passage or two, and then sign some of my work.  Maybe that will work someday when I have a bigger following, but it wasn't in the cards today.
(My front door display at Park Road Books)
There wasn't exactly a crowd at the event, which wasn't unexpected.  Instead, there were a few subscribers, most of whom I've gotten to know real well over the last few years.  So instead of going all formal, we devolved into an informal discussion of both my novel and my other works and their release schedule.  People came and went throughout the event, some staying for only a few minutes, while others stayed for more than an hour.  And during that time, of course, I signed some books.
(I've been writing my name since I was five)
I managed to sell 90% of what I brought and what the bookstore already had on the shelves, which constituted success in my mind.  The store also still has a signed copy to sell(they requested I leave a signed copy for them).  Not an earth shattering event, but still a fun one.

As I pick up more folks, and maybe stray outside of my old hometown, these will gain more structure, but for now, it was great to just bullshit with the folks who came and sign some novels.  I wouldn't mind all these events being this low stress.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spinning Out Of Control

Stories can be a strange thing.  As a writer, I think I know how a story is going to unfold, but it sometimes takes a surprising turn and goes off in an entirely different direction.  I know how artsy-fartsy it sounds to say that we're not creating the story, that we really just sit back and write what we see(like it's a TV show), but it's the truth.  Sometimes we exert control, but mostly we're just along for the ride...like everybody else.

However, that can sometimes lead to strange stuff.  This happened to a novel I wrote called The Onyx Cluster.  The book was supposed to detail an arrogant scientist alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a time travel experiment gone wrong.  He would eventually find a group of mutated telepaths who'd manipulated the time stream to cause the very apocalypse that created them.  It was to be a tale of loneliness and introspection that detailed that our best efforts sometimes go astray.  What I wrote instead was an overly complicated story about a guy who became a resistance leader in the future and brought back a psychic child that led authorities on a high speed interstate pursuit.  I'm not sure how I got there.

By the time I got halfway into the book, I had no idea how to untangle the mess I'd created.  I should've done the right thing and scrapped the whole thing before starting over, but we all know how hard it is to just abandon material we've spent months on.  So, God help me, I let that crap-a-thon go to the end.

That doesn't mean I learned no lessons from the fiasco.  The biggest takeaway was that I needed to exert more control over my stories.  Previously, I just wrote down what I saw.  I now tend to grab the wheel a little more strongly.  Reading some great authors, they do the same thing after similar tales of woe.  The most famous one I can think of is Stephen King, who said that The Stand was just going out of control with no direction until he blew up the Boulder Free Zone.  Yes, he was writing down the story he saw, but it was going nowhere, so, as the God of that universe, he introduced some wrath.  It's an important thing to remember.

Get into your story and take charge when you see it going awry.  Yes, it's fun to be as surprised as everyone else as to how a story progresses, but that can lead to silly garbage.  God may not publicly interfere much, but when He does, it can be dramatic.  Always remember that when it comes to the universes you create, you are God, and you must sometimes intervene.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Post Today

Sorry for the short post today, but I'm spending some much needed quality time with the family.  That doesn't mean I'm not still mapping out my next novel(which I am) or reading for both enjoyment and to stay on top of how to write(which I also am).  However, I needed a breather, and my family needed my time(which I gladly give).  I'll return on Thursday morning with a new post.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Signing Event!



I wanted to announce that I'll be doing a book signing event for Akeldama at Park Road Books in Charlotte on June 25th at 2pm.  I'll be answering questions about the novel, and I'll sign copies of Akeldama for anyone who would like one.  Park Road Books will also be carrying copies for those who haven't yet purchased one.  I hope to see you there!