Thursday, September 27, 2012

NOW I Know Why I Became a Philosophy Major

  Marketing is hard work. Philosophy was hard too, but in a completely different way. I had to think my way out of things. I'm fine with that. I like thinking. I'm good at it. Marketing requires talking. It requires enthusiasm. It requires time. These are all things I am not great at. I can write marketing copy, but ask me to do a sales pitch at a meeting or send compelling Facebook status updates, and I can't promise it'll be as good as a short story or an essay on morality I might write.
    I would much rather try to understand why we make decisions based on impulse rather than reason than try to understand which marketing phrase or button color is going make somebody click on a link to buy something.
    I love learning, but learning about marketing doesn't feel learning. It feels like Einstein's definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. While I consider myself both a creative and logical, I don't feel like those qualities help me at all with marketing. It's like you can try ten different methods and they all work, they just only work about 1 percent of the time, so you only get about 10 percent ROI (new term I learned--Return on Investment--learned something, at least!).
    I don't like trying to sell people stuff they don't want. I know most of my family and friends don't want to learn qigong (the freelance project I'm helping my friend with), and most of them don't actually want to read my books either, no matter what they say. That's ok. I don't expect them to. But what would be better is if they share at least some of these ridiculously salesy tweets and links I keep posting to my guest posts and my blogs and my books so that even if they're not interested, maybe someone they know is interested and will stumble upon it with interest.
    One thing I've learned about marketing is to Pay It Forward. If you help Deb out, she'll help Jack out and maybe eventually some of that good karma will come back to you. That is what I'm looking for. A little pay-it-forward. If it really doesn't interest you, and you really don't think the people you know would be interested, then don't share that link. I'm not supporting blind endorsement. That is basically spam. You're probably right if you think the people you know wouldn't be interested. But if it might be interesting to some of your friends, or if there was something about it you liked, then please, share it!
    I'm not afraid to admit that marketing/social media is not my strong suit. I'm ok with that. I'd much rather be a better writer than a better salesperson. In any case, I'm glad I spent my time in college learning philosophy. I would have been miserable trying to understand marketing, economics, or social media for business for four years.
The beat goes on.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Driving, Parking, Bookkeeping, and Facebooking

Don't let the pretty skyline fool you.
Denver=parking nightmare.
  What a week! I'm totally ready for a weekend, though a vacation would be nicer...
    The bf left for Europe this week, and I was the lucky one to drive him to the airport. Airport is a lot farther than I thought! I was in the car for about 3 hours straight, and it was right at the heat of the day. Miserable.
    Plus, I was low on gas so I didn't want to push my car harder by running the AC. It's September, Earth--you're supposed to start cooling down more in this hemisphere at about this time!
    Wednesday was by far the roughest day, though. I just discovered that the SBDC offers classes for small business people, many of them free, and decided to sign up for their Quickbooks seminar. I have been turned down for several jobs now for not having Quickbooks experience, so I wanted to take a class to at least get the basics.
    It was VERY basic, but it was only $35, so what could I really expect? On a sidenote, I'm talking to you, employers, if they're hiring an administrative assistant, you can't really expect them to also be the accountant/bookkeeper. Those are two separate positions and having one person do both can lead to doing one job better and the other worse. Overlapping positions can be really stressful for the employee. I know--I was the executive assistant/receptionist/content manager/editor/writer/technical support/sometime project coordinator/etc.
    Also, if Quickbooks is so important, don't say "helpful". "Helpful" makes it sound like you're willing to train. If you aren't, say "required". Then I won't bother applying. Except now I can, because I do have experience, albeit minimal.
    Anyway, that class set off a shitstorm for the rest of the day: they didn't give any info on parking, and parking in Denver is an effing nightmare. The class was supposed to be 3 hours, but all the parking lots/garages/meters only allow you to stay 2 hours, or the max you can pay for is 2 hours and then you have to pay for the whole day ($10). So, after searching for spaces for about 15 minutes (making me that late for the class), I finally parked and paid for the whole damn day.
    Turns out, there was a 20 minute break in the middle of the class, where I could have gone down and just paid for an extra hour or something. Furthermore, the class got out about 45 minutes early, meaning I probably could have gotten away with a 2 hour pass in the first place. In short, blarg.
If only I had Coca-Cola's resources,
maybe I could get some more attention
to the Facebook page I manage...
    I had also signed up for another class, FREE, up at the north SBDC later that evening to learn about Facebook fan pages, but my day was shot after I ended up getting an interview at 3:30. Still didn't stop for gas yet because I was so ticked off about the parking when I left Denver, I made it to the interview three hours later. The gas light came on just as I pulled up.
    The interview went all right, but when I went to gas up the car, I didn't have any King Soopers points and had to pay full-price. Then, I ran over a median, despite desperately trying to avoid it. Why are there so many medians? They seem to exist for no other purpose than to damage the undersides of cars whose drivers either didn't see them or have terrible depth and distance perception like me.
    The evening class was one of the only redeeming points in the whole day. I actually learned quite a bit, and felt more comfortable around some techie/internet people in a college campus classroom than a stuffy conference room in downtown Denver. There's a lot more to Facebook business/fan pages than I thought, and now that I know what else I can do to improve the page, I feel a little better about moving forward with it.
    So glad it's finally Friday. I got to visit my friend from my old job and work on the redesign of my other website (super-excited!). Plus we had totally awesome Indian buffet for lunch and free wifi at the public library. Today makes up for such an awful Wednesday, and semi-crappy Tuesday airport drive.
    It's nice that there are always good days to make you feel better about the bad ones.
It's the freakin' weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social Media Attacks

  Book review, sort of, this week: I just finished reading a book called The 50 Megaton Tweet, by R.C. Wade. It's an interesting perspective on the power and prevalence of social media in the modern world. The premise is that somebody sends a tweet saying that the US President has been killed while on an overseas trip, and the entire world descends into chaos as pictures and videos of the incident appear, seemingly as proof of the horrific encounter.
    It seems a little far-fetched, or does it? Many people rely on social media for their news source these days, and people learn about important events, deaths, and more through social media before the news programs air their broadcasts. The story asks people to take responsibility for their responses when it comes to using social media--to check their sources and not just idly retweet and spread a message without knowing for sure if it's true.
    However, something like an April Fool's prank can go viral in a matter of minutes because of how fast and accessible social media is. The book asks you to take a look at an extreme example of social media getting out of control and doing some real damage.
    While some of the events seem to be over-reaching as to what might happen in the real world, the prose is eerily realistic, sounding almost like a news report, throughout the book. For $0.99, it's a pretty good read and it definitely makes you think about the role of social media in society and how it affects people's perception of the world.
    In one respect, I agree with the book: people need to take responsibility for their actions, especially if it was prompted by something that isn't necessarily true, like a (SPOILER) hoax tweet.
Think before you speak, and tweet.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Writer's Work Is Never Done

  What a week! I helped my friend relaunch his site, with press releases, social media, and other marketing stuff; I launched my new book (!) and have been doing marketing for that; I got a Google Adwords credit when I set up my custom domain hosting, so I set up an ad campaign through Google; I created a new landing page for my book to send the ads to, and added a couple more thousand words to my new writing project.
    Now, all I need to do is find time to write a couple essays and guest blog posts, on top of my regular weekly blog posts. And write my new story. And edit one I already wrote. And come up with a topic for NaNo this november. And so on. And so on.
    The story's still the same--I'm busier now than I was when I was working, but it's all good work--fun, challenging, interesting, and creative--so it hardly feels like work. Which is probably why I've been "working" such long hours! I set up my calendar differently so that all the "work" stuff gets done within 8 or 9 hours and all the other tasks that are more personal to-dos and fun to-dos, like catching up on my personal emails and writing my new story, happen after that 8 or 9 hour window.
    Still, I'm on my computer pretty much all day, so it doesn't really seem like there's much of a shift.

    In funner news: the fall television season starts tomorrow (NBC's first season premiere night) and I'm going to pick up a new blog entirely on television reviews and commentary. I actually started it last fall on WordPress, trying to get in the habit of writing every day to gear up for NaNoWriMo, but I gave up on it as soon as Nano started. This year, I'm going to try to keep up with it a little better.  I moved it over to Blogger so everything will be in one place for easy posting, and did a fun, if a little cliched, new design for it.
    Visit starting Wednesday, 9/12, to follow the new fall shows, returning and new, on CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC, and FX and USA when a couple of my returning favorites come back in the next couple months.
    I'm going to have a hard time picking which ones to watch this year! Long list of new shows and old shows on new nights to pick from! Hulu and I will become best friends again for a few weeks while I weed out the decent shows from the crappy ones as well as the ones that are unfortunate enough to run in the same timeslot.
Turn on the boob tube: I'm in the mood to obey. 
-Jack Johnson

Monday, September 3, 2012

Building Words into Books

The new book is out tomorrow! I'm really excited about this one. It's my first real attempt at a fantasy story, and I think it turned out pretty well. However, it's not your typical spooky monster story--it's not especially gory. It's not even about the monsters as much as it is about the people who fight back against them.

It's almost more of a mystery than a fantasy/supernatural story, as the characters dig into the past to discover how to confront their antagonists. It hasn't been reviewed officially yet, but the editorial feedback so far has been really positive.

It's a completely different type of book than the last one, which was more of a novel about relationships and maturity. I'm going to have another giveaway on Goodreads, so starting tomorrow, Sept. 4, head over to Goodreads and enter to win a free copy of A 21st Century Fairy Tale!

I have a few more cards up my sleeve for marketing it this time around, so I'm hoping to draw a little more attention for this book. If it sounds like something you're interested in, please spread the word to other readers with similar reading habits.

Marketing is a completely different animal than anything I've ever tried to do. Knowing how to say things to get people's interest, learning the best places to get the word out about a new project, and then keeping up with all these different points of contact is a real challenge. I'm still trying to get a grasp on the tools to market a book, and how best to utilize them. Working on marketing a book and then working on my freelance stuff to help with my friend's DVD sales is keeping me busy as much as full-time work ever did. But it's a lot more fun.

In a market flooded with pulp crap and genre stories, I don't write according to a formula. I write where the story and the characters wander.

Etsy Addict: A Few of My Favorite Things