Paginations

Thoughts

My TweetDeck filters – some sanity and organization reclaimed

Though I bounce between TweetDeck, HootSuite, and even the Twitter app on my desktop, some new filters I’ve implemented on TweetDeck (not available on the other two) have made it much easier for me to stay sane and clean up my lists. Without further ado:

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I’ve eliminated most of the #ff listings on Fridays (though my other devices still get notifications…), the automatically-generated robot newspaper Paper.li (I admit, I had one a couple years ago, until I realized how useless and self-aggrandizing it was), the social network of teens and sushi photos worldwide (my thoughts on that here), and “I just ousted Bob as mayor of the mens restroom on 5th and Broad” posts.

Yeah, I’m probably pissing some folks off out there by ignoring certain types of tweets. And I’ll get ignored back by some, I’m sure. But damn I feel better…

steve

P.S. Can’t wait tell you guys I finally dumped Facebook…

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Kindle Quality Notice, eh?

Happy Monday morning to me – here’s the first thing I see in my Inbox:

Hello,

We’re writing to let you know that at least one of your readers has reported some problems within your book, Gabriel’s Journey (Evan Gabriel Series).

There are typos in your book. You can find examples of this error at the following location(s): Kindle Location: 447 / Error Description: “discrete.” should be “discreet.”

Be sure to check out the Typos section of the Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors page by clicking the link at the end of this message.

For further information regarding these above reported issues with your book, please see the Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors.

Yep, caught me. I did miss a discrete versus discreet (and thank you no, I don’t need a grammar lesson – it just got missed).

And while I could be all  like, “what?” and “who?”, I’m more like, “cool, there’s some quality control out there.” But then I’m all like, “but what about some of the unreadable jibbererish out there masquerading as novels?” But then I’m all like, “cool, they’ll get found and corrected too.” So then I’m all like, “chill.”

And Monday carries on…

steve

P.S. Through the magic of ebooks and the 21st century, the error was corrected and re-uploaded in less time than it takes to down a mug o’ joe.

 

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A visible example of why LinkedIn doesn’t matter (at least for me)

Yes, back in the heyday of social media, when I was young and foolish (okay, not that young), I did what everyone else did: sign up for each and every possible social media outlet, program, site, etc. in the hopes of ‘getting my name out there.’

They’ve come and gone. I’ve churned and burned Klout (might be the silliest I’ve signed up for – cancelled), Flickr (never bothered ever uploading), Instagram (I’ve made my feelings known about sushi photos), MySpace (kidding – just checking if you were paying attention), Pinterest (meh, I don’t have that interesting of a photo portfolio), and I believe everyone reading this knows (or senses) my stance on the ultimate time suck, Facebook. Plus probably a few others I can’t remember now.

I’m still active on Twitter, I try to stick my head in Goodreads from time to time, and do still visit Google+ (laugh all you want – it doesn’t have the scope of 1 billion users, but at least there are more interesting people and posts, fewer cat photos and memes). Which brings me to LinkedIn.

It was one of the first I signed up for, even prior to getting into the writing gig, as a way of networking with other business professionals in my industry. I don’t know where it went off the rails, but now it does nothing but remind me of Klout and its ridiculous +Ks. How, you ask? And I know you were asking. Here’s an email I received this morning:

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This guy, Earl [name redacted], has endorsed me for a whopping 10 categories. It’s flattering and all, being recommended like that, except for one thing.

I have no idea who Earl [name redacted] is.

I don’t even know how I got connected to him. Never spoke to him, emailed, ran into at a trade show. So how does this “recommend” thing work again? Oh right, it’s like that retweeting post I did a few days back, where the author I mentioned retweeted everyone she could in order to get her own retweets. I guess I’m supposed to go recommend Mr. [name redacted], right? Yeah, great social media service…very legit. No thanks. Deleting account.

steve

 

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My view on authors tweeting/retweeting – you may not like this…

Big time preface – YMMV. Everyone’s does. There are authors that do nothing but tweet book links, and they do fine. There are authors who aren’t even on Twitter, and do fine. And the converse – authors doing nothing but tweeting book links not selling a lick, and authors who aren’t tweeting aren’t selling.

Before you say, “Hey, I’ve seen YOU sending book links on Twitter, you hypocritical jackass”, relax. Yes I’ve tweeted about my books, and yes I’ve retweeted others’ in the past. But if you scroll through my stream (if that doesn’t sound icky, I’m not sure what does), you won’t find anything outside of price change announcements or new review mentions for a very. Very. Long. Time. I actually gave up hawking my own crap on Twitter well over a year ago after doing some of my own experimentation. Know what I found?

It. Doesn’t. Work. 

Again, YMMV, and feel free to dismiss my conclusions. But my A vs B comparison test, for my works, was very definitive. I spent over a month doing on/off weeks of tweeting/not tweeting. At the end, I tallied the results, and found absolutely no change in sales volume. The number of books I sold per day was no different between the weeks I tweeted the hell out of them and the weeks I stayed totally silent. No difference at all, not even a blip. My book sales have zero degrees Kelvin to do with tweeting about them. And that also relates to retweets. How? Because during those weeks I tweeted, I got retweets – just the nature of the medium. And during the weeks I didn’t tweet, I received (duh) no retweets.

Oh, and along the way, way back when, I probably pissed off a goodly number of Twitter followers who took me out of their lists or unfollowed me, and any future messages, like my upcoming cure for the common cold and tomorrow’s Powerball winning numbers, will never be seen by them. I’ve also lost them forever as a possible reader.

Now the reason I figured I’d put my thoughts to ‘paper’ is that I’ve been in contact with a fellow author, a woman who writes well outside my genre, and I’ve been watching what she does. Very interesting. She retweets other authors’ book links like a possessed madwoman, and with a purpose. She wants retweets of her own, which is understandable. And she gets them, in droves.

She herself has just over 10,000 followers on Twitter. She’s been on Twitter, according to the stats, only since this past summer, yet has over 74,000 tweets – an impressive online volume of over 300 tweets per day. Per DAY, folks. I don’t think I have time to inhale a breath 300 times per day (no need to correct me medically here…). She receives between 10-20 retweets of each of her own book links, each time, which is at least two dozen of her own tweets per day. And that’s impressive, so many people retweeting her links. It’s because she’s retweeting theirs, which makes sense. So she’s on average receiving 240 to 480 mentions of her book, per DAY, on Twitter to who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Twitterites, her own 10k followers notwithstanding. That’s a massive volume of Twitter mentions. Like mind-boggling. Her book is being mentioned maybe 500 times per day. So how does that translate to sales? She must be rolling in it, right?

She has one novel published, and it’s priced at $.99 (not that that has anything to do with it, but it needs to be mentioned because she’s making less than 35 cents royalty on each sale). Her current rank on Amazon (most of her tweets are Kindle; I’m not ruling out BN/Kobo sales, but they are certainly a small parts of the pie historically, and by nature of the links she sends).

Current rank on Amazon in the paid store: 310,167

Self-published authors know exactly what that ranks means. For those of you who don’t obsess in watching the KDP reports (ahem), I’ll tell you: not a whole heck of a lot. My guesstimate on sales volume would be around 2 to 3 copies per week, so maybe a dozen sales in a month. (Check out Edward Robertson’s quickie formula, which is quite accurate from what I’ve measured myself). This book is in a popular category and has an average ranking on Amazon of 4.5, with no 1-star reviews.

I am NOT belittling her or making fun of her sales. I’m not naming names – she may even be a he, so there. I’m just illustrating using a real world example (and my own experiment) how the medium of Twitter just ain’t what authors think it is. This woman, for all her hard work online (300 tweets a day? Good Lord…), is pulling in maybe four bucks a month in Amazon royalties. And that sucks. My opinion, should she (or he!) ever ask, would be to quit that craziness and spend that 300 tweet time per day writing another book, but she (or he!) hasn’t asked. (As an aside, she’s doing this manually and does not have an automated system to retweet certain people or lists or keywords. Don’t ask me how I know…I just do. There are ways to tell…)

Why doesn’t it work? Just off the top of my head, my first conclusion is that a lot of authors online are followed by…wait for it…other authors. It’s a great community, but we’re all writing and trying to sell. Don’t bombard each other with your own book links. We’re all too poor to buy books, and I mean that in two ways: money and time. My Kindle account is rife with books I haven’t gotten to, and may never get to, because my priority is writing the next one. (I can’t read a book while in the midst of writing – otherwise my thoughts, ideas, dialogue, etc. pull too much from that work.)

Another conclusion – Twitter is a volatile medium, one not truly suited for effective commerce. In order to be seen as much as possible by the widest audience possible, an advertiser (don’t kid yourself, authors – you are advertisers) needs to send many messages throughout the day in order to hit the right target when that target is watching. Which is why you see the same TV commercial several times each evening on the same channel – consistency and repetition in the message. So what happens is that advertiser is overdoing it to those who spend a lot of time on Twitter, and those messages are ignored (or the tweeter is taken out of a list and never looked at again) just so Johnny who checks his feed once every other day sees the message. (In other words, you’re pissing people off.)

I will mention my books from time to time, usually in conjunction with a sale price, or a mailer promo, or maybe when receiving a new review (I do like to crow whenever I have the chance, be warned). But I’m not the type to tweet incessantly, and probably never will. Because it simply doesn’t work.

Feel free to disagree, vent, call me names, whatever. But I’d love to hear your thoughts, or perhaps your results…

steve

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My live Oscars tweeting from the FUTURE was spot on – 3 for 3, baby…

Yes, I admit – I watched the Oscars. Not for the idiocy, or the gowns, or the self-congratulatory atmosphere, but for the movies themselves. It’s the only awards I’ll ever (or have ever) watch. I’m a movie fan, so deep down I dig watching clips of the best of the best, seeing the actors outside the roles, and who doesn’t like predictions?

Instead of predicting, I decided to live tweet from the FUTURE. No, really:

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Check out the time stamp. That’s 8:06PM east coast time, hours before the three biggies came out. And at somewhere past 11:30PM (Jeez, those things run long), there they were:

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis
Best Picture: Argo

Uncanny, huh?

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I’m not telling my secret. Nope, you’ll never find out…

tardis-image-picture

steve

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Heading south tomorrow. South like Cancun. I have to keep up with the latest in swim up bars, right?

I’ll be on vacation* in Mexico starting tomorrow, our annual Super Bowl weekend trip (wife and kids and I have been doing this now for 8 years; the resorts set up a wide screen on the beach, cook out, and so on – far superior to someone’s stinky basement to watch the game). But with the magic of the Interwebs, I won’t be too far out of reach.

* Disclaimer: because this is my day job (travel), there’s no such thing as 100% vacation any more. Anywhere I go, I end up meeting with management, touring hotels, taking photos, and so on. Yes, weep for me… 🙂

One of my main focuses (foci?) will be to inspect the swim-up bars. As you may have seen from my Twitter profile, I do list that as part of my vocation. I need to make sure all the tiles are in place, the seats aren’t too slanted, the drinks aren’t watered down, and so on. You know, to make sure our clients enjoy their future stays.

swim up bar

Note: That’s not actually me, but that’s the hotel I’ll be at.

Perhaps my muse will follow me down there, and I’ll come home with thousands upon thousands of words written. Or, more likely, a sunburn and a headache.

I may have room in my suitcase…any stowaways interested?

steve

 

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Insomnia strikes, with a side platter of a new story idea.

I’m typing this precisely twelve hours after I woke up, meaning it would normally be the end of my day, time to kick off the shoes and chillax with some mindless TV. But alas and alack it is not the end of my day, because I woke up at 2AM. My mind was racing, and I’m talking Bugatti Veyron racing, not go-carts. And it was racing with images and sounds and dialogue and settings and pew-pew laser blasts. Okay, not specifically pew-pew, but you get the idea.

Maybe something will come of this. I’ll percolate it into a basic outline, slap down some plot points, perhaps even sketch out a few characters. And maybe one day I’ll look back on this post as the beginning of creating the Next Great Novel, and will remember it warmly when I accept my Nobel Prize in Literature, and again when women pour champagne over me in the Oscars after parties. Or, it may just fade away as many ideas do, making room for a better one.

In any case, it’s off to work I go. Wish me luck.*

steve

* There’s no such thing as luck. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. It’s simply being prepared for an opportunity when it comes along. Trust me…

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The next Star Wars to be directed by J.J. Abrams – my thoughts

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After days of rumors (or maybe weeks; I don’t get out much), it’s been confirmed that J. J. Abrams has been selected to direct the next installment in the Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney, with an expected release sometime in 2015.

Some additional details:

Screenwriter Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, is penning the script, and Episode VII is being produced by Abrams, Bryan Burk, Abrams’ Bad Robot company and Kennedy under the Disney/Lucasfilm banner.

Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have signed on to be consultants on the project. Kasdan was a screenwriter on two Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Backand Return of the Jedi, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Kinberg was writer onSherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Obviously this, or any news actually, has the Interwebs in an uproar – positively, negatively, and snark-ely.

 

 

I for one am excited, on MANY fronts. And it takes a lot to get a guy my age excited, blue pill notwithstanding. Star Wars, when it was released in ’77, was a seminal moment in my life. I admit, as seminal as anything can get for a 7 year old, but there it is. As silly or trite as it may sound, it was literally life-changing. Every scrap of interest I ever had in science fiction, space exploration, technology, communications, gadgets, and so on can be traced back to that day I saw Star Wars in the theater. Seriously. No joke. If it wasn’t for SW, things may have turned out a lot differently for me.

When Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, was released, I was ten, and still to this day remember how amazed I was at the opening Hoth battle. And I do believe it still holds my record for most number of times watched. Hot Stuff with Dom DeLuise is a close second (strange time in my adolescence, don’t ask), and perhaps The Fifth Element is soon to pass it, but Empire still shocks and awes. So when the announcement was made that a prequel trilogy was going to be filmed, decades after Return of the Jedi, that feeling of impending shock and awe returned. Only to be replaced with disgust and loathing. And Jar Jar.

Yes, the choice of J. J. Abrams may be controversial, as in, “Hey, he’s not a Star Wars guy.” But maybe that’s a good thing considering where Lucas had taken the last three films: great effects, laughable acting and storyline. I’ve been an Abrams fan for quite some time (Alias is still one of my favorite television shows), and he actually does have geek cred: Fringe, Super 8, Cloverfield (say what you want, still entertaining), and a fabulous reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Not to mention he’s got the handle on storylines, both individually (Person of Interest for example) and full arcs (Lost). Yes, I understand he was ‘only’ executive producer on some of those, but still part of his resumé. And he did write Lost…

Back to Star Wars. That 1977 movie set me on a different path. Seriously. I quickly was swept into Battlestar Galactica, Star Blazers after school cartoons, Star Trek TNG, and so on, and never looked back. When the Star Wars prequel was released, I thought maybe this would be a seminal moment in my kids’ lives. Alas and alack, it was not. I can’t expect a movie in the 21st century to hold the same wonder and amazement for today’s youth as it did for mine. But I can expect that they’ll dig it, and maybe their imaginations will be stirred a bit.

What are your thoughts on Abrams’ selection? Looking forward to a new Star Wars? Dubious? Excited? Don’t give a $%&$?

steve

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I’m selling like hotcakes in Finland. Make that like “kuumille kiville” according to Google

As a self-published author, I am solely responsible for everything to do with my books. From the writing (probably the easiest part), to the e-book formatting, to the cover layout, to the paperback formatting, to the pricing, to the marketing, to the reporting. And while it would be nice to sit in a cutesy ivory tower and bang away at a keyboard, churning out novel after novel, the reality is that real life always gets the better of one, or more, of those responsibilities.

This post is about the final one, reporting. I do check my Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al, reporting on a fairly regular basis. Not hourly, like I did way back when, clicking refresh and hoping the number ticked up by one. I gave that up not because the numbers rose too quickly to keep up with (Ha! If only…), but because it did nothing to get my any further in any of the other responsibilities. That being said, I do have to keep on top of my sales/trends so that I know what is selling, where, what is not, why, and so on.

Amazon is my number one outlet, still well in excess of 50% of total sales, followed by Barnes & Noble, then Kobo (though Kobo is nipping at BN’s heels; perhaps another post for another day of Kobo’s nice push), then iBooks, then scattered others. So I normally watch my Amz/BN numbers much more closely than the others, meaning I missed something last week very cool on my iBookstore reporting:

Somehow, some way, some guy/gal in Finland bought Gabriel’s Redemption, then must have enjoyed it so much he/she (a) bought Gabriel’s Return and Gabriel’s Revenge as well, AND (b) told a bunch of Finnish friends. How do I know this? Because after a year and a half of US/Canada (mostly) sales through iTunes, last week I had a Finland sales spike – nine copies of GR1, plus the single copy of both GR2 and GR3. NINE. Out of the blue. Go figure.

So as a thanks to my now-massive Finland market, I give you:

gr1finnish

*Disclaimer: The book wasn’t translated to Finnish, sorry. I just plugged in the title to an online translator and redid the cover. Yes, I was bored this morning.

Now, on to other Scandinavian market domination…

steve

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