Direct or Indirect Marketing?

Crow in Kaslo - Bruce Witzel photo

As I cruise down the road towards getting the third book in the Crater Lake Series out and into the world, I am, once again, asking myself a couple of marketing questions. If you follow my blog or know me at all, you’ll know these type of questions make me nervous. But part of being a self-published author is marketing. No getting around it.

We live and learn, right? Or at least that’s what the old saying claims. For my first book, I went down a number of semi-expensive, mostly fruitless marketing routes. Though, that evaluation is subjective. What might seem expensive to me could be peanuts to you. One thing I’m sure of, I didn’t get enough bang for the dollars I spent.

On the second book, I was frugal and DIY to the extreme. On the up side, I’m not pining after the loss of money I could ill afford to lose. On the down side, I don’t think I’ve been that effective in getting the news of the second novel in the Crater Lake Series out there.

This time around, I plan to try a direct marketing strategy – one short email to inform people that the third book is out. I’ll include a pertinent Amazon buy link.

How would you feel about one such email? Would it seem intrusive? Or would you file away the information and move on? Would this type of notice put a book you might like to read a bit further up your purchase and eventually read list?

I’m also considering a change to how I interact on Twitter. When I started with Twitter, I vowed that all my tweets would be live and authentic. If you saw a tweet from me it would mean I was at my computer, in the midst of my life. Using a service like HootSuite to schedule and manage tweets seemed phony to me. Just another way to manipulate the whole social media world. Now I’m not so sure.

First and foremost, I don’t believe that Twitter sells books so I’m not planning to use it as a direct marketing tool. But I’d like to tweet more effectively in terms of raising awareness about myself as an author and maybe driving traffic to my blog. Perhaps, there’s no reason those type of tweets can’t be scheduled and allow me to do my other fun tweets on my own time – live and as real as any tweet can be.

Brief aside – always, I recognize that a presence on any social media platform is manufactured reality. But what reality isn’t manufactured to some degree? Let’s leave that philosophical debate for another post.

Do you do Twitter? If so, what do you think of services that manage the scheduling of tweets for you?

I still believe that this blog is my most effective indirect marketing tool, hands down above Facebook, Twitter or a static web page. It allows readers to get to know me and in that way become curious about reading I book I wrote. As an indie author, I build my following one reader at a time. It’s not a glitzy approach to book marketing or one likely to send me off on an expensive vacation any time soon. But it feels right.

Today, my view of the lake is grey to the extreme. Rain lashes the front of the cabin and the wind is whipping the trees on the cliff around in some kind of frenetic dance – whirling dervishes come to mind. For the first time this year, snow covers the mountain peaks and the old rhyme of April showers is far too tame to capture this onslaught of moisture.

April Showers - Guenette photo

Coming Home

our passive solar home with solar electric array and solar water batch heater - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home is like eating sour candies. You know those little treats that are sugary on the outside but mouth-puckering once you really get chewing? Sleeping in my own bed is definitely the sugar. The sour part is knowing I won’t hear the morning scurry of pitter-pattering feet as one or both of my granddaughters climb in with me.

Easter facepainting - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home is always a mix of beauty and challenge around here. The pear tree in full bloom and a few of the rhododendrons putting on their show of colour take my breath away. And I mustn’t forget the brand-new magnolia managing three huge blooms in its first year with us. Ants zipping around the kitchen as I unpack and get settled in is most certainly the challenge side of things. I find, as I get older, that I am more and more like an elderly dog circling around and around my mat before I can settle down.

Cabin rhodo - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home with a pile of work ahead for the next six weeks is exciting. Line by line edits of Chasing Down the Night are complete. Once again my talented editor has suggested changes that have honed and polished my words to wonderful perfection. I’ll print out a hardcopy today and Bruce will start proofreading. He is good at spotting typos. I will be busy with writing the book description. The task is a daunting one. I’d rather sit down and write a one-hundred and fifty thousand word novel than try and condense a story down to a punchy and gripping two hundred word blurb. But try I must.

I will also be preparing the proofed manuscript for the e-book formatter. This involves deciding on how I want all the front and back matter, creating the hyperlinked table of contents and going over and over the document to ensure all hidden formatting has been stripped out. These are time consuming but necessary steps. Sure, the formatter would do it all but at a cost. I try to keep that cost down as much as possible by doing everything I can do myself. And having done this three times now, I have templates saved that make the tasks somewhat easier.

Meanwhile, Bruce will be working on the cover. We have some ambitious ideas and I can’t wait for cover-reveal day when I get to share the finished product on this blog.

Once the e-book is off to the formatter, I’ll start the work of preparing the manuscript for the softcover edition. In many ways, I enjoy putting on this formatting hat. The discipline and precision of it appeals to me and satisfies something that the unruly work of writing cannot.

Storyboarding - What Might Have Been

On other fronts, storyboarding has already begun for the fourth and final novel in the Crater Lake Series. I’ll keep that board in the periphery of my vision and do character sketches and take notes as I work on formatting tasks. I’ll also be checking in with Maelstrom for further rewrites. I find that switching hats now and then, from creative to editing to formatting, is as useful as going out for a brisk walk. It shakes the cobwebs out of my head – though it definitely doesn’t replace the need for that brisk walk.

A lone stellar jay is sitting in the arbour outside my window enjoying this misty morning. Colourful deep blue feathers against the darkest black and a shiny dark eye draw my gaze again and again. I can see a woodpecker through a tangle of branches start his tapping routine on one of the dead snags that stands like a bent and gnarled old man on the cliff. Creatures are stirring and it is time for me to get up out of this chair and exercise more than my fingers on the keyboard.

StellerJay - Charles Brandt photo

Grandkids and Greenhouses

Proposed Solar Greenhouse and Shed - by b.witzel

During a recent visit with our grandchildren, Bruce enlisted their help with the foundation for our new solar greenhouse.

Leveling up the foundation - Guenette photo

Bruce is happy to make use of Brit’s levelling skills.

Stuck in the mud - Guenette photo

Oh, oh – stuck in the mud.

Brit in the mud - Guenette photo

Oh, no – fell in the mud.

Greenhouse drilling - Guenette photo

Time to get Emma’s help with some drilling.

King of the mud pile - Guenette photo

Who’s the king of the mud hill?

Pouring concrete - Guenette photo

Emma’s pretty excited about helping with the concrete.

Emma pours concrete - Guenette photo

I know Bruce will be missing his talkative and lively helpers this week but he continues to make progress on his own.

Pony wall in place - b. witzel photo

Who loves a garden [or a grandkid] loves a greenhouse too. (William Cowper)

Country Living

Sunrise silouette from our deck - Bruce Witzel photo

Living in the pristine wilderness with the multi-hued evergreens banking up the mountain slopes and the breathtaking colours of a morning sunrise over a lake glistening and moving gently are joys beyond compare.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all gazing off into the beautiful and wild yonder. We have the occasional mundane thing to deal with. Uninvited guests show up now and then. Though these guests do serve as an important reminder that we are the ones to have taken up shop in their backyard and not vice versa, we still must deal with them.

A friend of mine used to call them wee critters to lessen the shudder factor. It does sound a bit nicer than vermin, for sure. I’m not averse to sharing the news that we are visited by mice now and then. Good grief, a much more famous author than I made word mileage writing about the joys he and his partner experienced while sharing bread crumbs in a country kitchen with a favourite mouse. Oh Timothy Findley, we miss you!

We aren’t quite so friendly with our mice. And that is all I’ll say about that!

Then, of course, there are the bugs. Today, we’re dealing with the Annual March of Ants through various parts of the cabin. Oh joy. I suspect a few of them are beating on huge drums and throwing batons in the air. There even may be a cartwheeler or two amongst them.

Don’t get me started on the family of squirrels that has taken up residence in part of our roof. They at least have a cuteness factor going for them. Every morning they scamper down the cedar shakes and hop, lickety-split across the deck. On their way to work, I suppose. Come evening, they repeat the trek in reverse. I have caught myself occasionally trying to capture their antics with my camera. Something I have yet to consider when it comes to mice or ants. Currently, there is peaceful co-existence. We accept the fact that part of our home has become a high-rise for squirrels. They can rest easy until the fateful day when Bruce gets up there to redo the roof. Then it will be back to the trees for them.

Country living – never a dull moment.

Banana Slug - Guenette photo

Hello there, Mr. Banana Slug. Hope you like your reflection.

Daffodil - Guenette photo

Writing Foibles and Personal Word Traps

Google images - binoculars

When the writing muse takes hold and my fingers start moving at lightning speed over the keyboard, I litter the pages with my personal word traps … combinations or single words that I dump into my writing at an alarming rate. I don’t see these repetitions going in and I don’t see them when I do multiple readings. As the perpetrator of these writing foibles, I am utterly blind to their existence.

You can only imagine my joy when I discovered the find function in Word. If you haven’t used this Word function magic – though I suspect I was the last in the world to discover it – you will see it on the upper right hand menu bar beside an icon of binoculars – so fitting!

I’m in the process of editing two novels right now. Yesterday, I plugged in the words – and then – to the find function and no less than one hundred and twenty incidents of using this troublesome combination came up. Another of my foibles is the word just. I sprinkle that word through my work the way a heavy-handed salt lover would dust a plate of fries. And once I get into the editing process, the word is as hard to spot as those individual grains of salt would be.

After going through the editing process with my first two novels and a book of short stories, I believed – quite naively – that I had learned my lesson. The problem words and combinations had been pointed out to be and I had set myself the task of rooting them out. Surely, I would now cease to write in this way. Alas, it is not to be. The find function continues to reveal my personal bug-a-boos.

Since I am probably the only writer guilty of such heavy usage of the find function to locate incidents of – and then, or just – I will share some of the other useful aspects of this word processor miracle. I have a notebook in which I’ve jotted down specific words that constantly trip me up. Things like – roommate is one word; full-time is hyphenated, halfway is one word. All I need do is plug in half way as two words and the find function will instantly alert me to all the times I’ve made this error. I also check my common typos – for example, Crate Lake instead of Crater Lake.

When we get to line-by-ling editing of anything I’ve written, my editor will be thrilled to learn that I have started a new section in my notebook entitled – Find function tasks before sending any portion of this manuscript for editing. The list is long but thankfully Word is fast.

I’ll leave you today with a small section of Chasing Down the Night – the third book in the Crater Lake Series, coming out in late spring of this year! Editor input made this passage smooth as a stone polished by the waves of millennium and nary a just or and then to be had.

Izzy stared out the window to the harbour. Sunshine danced above the surface of the choppy water and glinted off the metal of the boats jostling against the dock. The bright white bodies and yellow beaks of seagulls stood out against the clear blue sky as they swooped and set up a raucous cacophony of sound. Beyond the tightly-packed pleasure boats, the fishing fleet was coming in. Grey, hulking seiners lumbered past the breakwater towards the commercial wharf. Hemmed in by massive creosoted pilings, the wide structure dwarfed the vehicles and people that moved about on it like so many colourful playthings being pushed around on a toy room floor. The already noisy harbour was suddenly dominated by the roar of a seaplane. Wide pontoons skimmed the waves before the plane lifted into the air on wings buffeted to and fro by the wind.

Dock - Guenette photo