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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Life, The Internet and Commodore 64s

I'm going to talk about life for a few paragraphs. I recently ran into a guy who asked me to check out a website. No problem, happy to do it. Some people put out very creative content and I appreciate the hard work that goes into it. This guy is a writer, or at least trying to become a writer. He's just out of college, a very prestigious university, and trying to make his mark on the world. I'm eager to see what he thinks, check out his new world view, maybe learn something. He's persistent. I like that too. A few flicks of the keys and I'm checking out his site. It's like a kickstarter page, patron, and he's looking for sponsors, patrons, to support his writing.

I think, okay, interesting, whatcha got? I check out his chapters, he has four. It's a book he's working on and putting out for free. It's a good start on a first draft, probably much better than what I put out for a first draft. My editor might think it's better than what I turn in for a final. He asks me if I'd support his writing. I had to think about it and weigh some pros and cons. I don't mind throwing a few buck to new writers to buy their book. It's a finished product. It'll either be good, or otherwise, but as a consumer and having paid for a product, I don't mind providing an honest opinion about it, but I never try to be mean if I don't like something I'm critical, but never hurtful. What's he's asking me to do is to be critical of his work and pay him for it. On one hand, I admire the man's entrepreneurial spirit on the other hand I don't know if he's earned a paycheck. This is different than creating something on a commission, or an artist earning patrons because they love the artist's work, or putting in the time and a someone buying your work.

As a writer, it took me a long time to write my book and there was a lot of pain involved in it's creation. I threw it out in the world in hope that others would like it too. Some do, most have never heard of it. It's okay, it takes time. I never expected to light the world on fire and being a book with superheroes the time to strike should have been when I finished it in 2008 and not in the saturated market of 2014. It took me a long time to find the right guy that not only helped bring it out in the world, but took the time to bring me along with it.

What does these things have to do with life? It's about the changing of the guard and differences in generations. Baby Boomers are retiring and Gen X is coming into power. I'm firmly a Gen X. I was born in 1969. I remember the world before the internet, the birth of which is probably the most significant human event after the first moon landing. It's arguable. The moon landing was a pinnacle of human achievement, but the internet actually changed the world. One year I was typing out papers on a typewriter, (which a device like computer, but no browser history, or spell checker) then one day I'm typing away on a Commodore 64 with a 300 baud modem and leaving messages on BBSs in 1987. I took a technical hiatus and reentered the electronic space in 1995, when I bought an HP and hooked up for the very first time to the world wide web on AOL so I could play Ultima online. My shiny new computer had half a gig on a hard drive that, at the time, I had no hope of filling to capacity. While I had experience with a Tandy, an IBM 386, an Apple 2E and beloved C64, The world became a different place when I had e-mail and myspace and that gave way to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia and vast amounts knowledge that with a few clicks eventually leads you to youtube and watching episodes of Jem and the Holograms. While I've grown with the technology and in fact have a job that actually builds the internet, I'll always be the guy who came from an analog world and is trying to keep up in the digital space.

Which brings me back to my friend, his world is different than mine. He never knew a time before the internet. He's as comfortable with technology as I am with manual transmission. He has a lot figured out, at least enough to demand $1-$250/month to support him. Did it work? He has supporters. He has support for work that shows promise, but lacks experience. He has interesting ideas, but they're not fully realized. This is layman's opinion, of course as I'm not an editor, barely a writer, but I can say I'm a very good reader.

Now it comes back to my decision. Do I support him? Or do I leave him to fend for himself? Do I feed the entitlement and instant gratification? Or support a clever mind? Should I deny him the oprospect to have his C64 and teach him it's okay to be mediocre. What was the answer?

I told him I'd be happy to buy his book after he publishes it. The reward is the journey, not the destination. Why cheat yourself of an opportunity? And that is my justification for being cheap. That's life.

Please find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen
www.facebook.com/DexTerritoryBook

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:
TWBPress.com
Amazon.com
Barnesandnoble.com
smashwords.com
iBooks

$3.99 for the e-book
$18.95 for the paperback

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Social media and being social

The trials with social media. I'm learning the deck is stacked against me. I'm quickly growing my twitter feed, I have a Facebook author page, LinkedIn, a presence on Instagram and Pintrest. Managing these is a full time job. I've paid for advertising and joined user groups and bumped feeds and I just don't have the secret sauce to social media. It's okay, it's not a complaint. Actually, and keep this to yourself, it's somewhat of a relief. It's forcing me to take a step back and reevaluate my marketing options.

Throwing out a short blurb with a link isn't working because it isn't sales. There's no pitch, there's the bare minimum of humanity, it isn't entertaining and it's easy to dismiss. I have a couple of thousand twitter followers, a couple of hundred on my FB author page and it's my experience there's very little interaction on those, Instagram there's no possibility of dialog and Pintrest is fine if I need a pumpkin cheesecake recipe. Where I am having luck and interaction is my personal Facebook page, because it's made up of my family, friends and a bunch of really cool people. Those people are the one who've bought my book, spread the word and some are actively campaigning on my behalf. I think the difference for me is the human connection. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. It's been my most powerful sales tool.

I do think an author page is necessary. It's a place to push a little marketing, invite people I don't know to place where they can learn about my work and me and hopefully build that relationship. It's also a great place to make announcements.

I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I do meet cool people there. It's also fun to live tweet during a show. I got really into it with Constantine, now canceled in a miscarriage of justice, and 12 Monkeys where the tweeters are awesome and hilarious as we attempt to figure out the twisty turns of a precocious plot. I've also learned and picked up more literature than I can hope to read in my lifetime. What's has it done for my sales, not much. Again, the secret sauce eludes me, maybe I just haven't read enough of those books that promise to increase my sales if I just buy the book. *spoiler alert* Wait for the movie.

Conventions. I have yet to attend a convention and that's high on my to do list. There was a bookcon in New York City last weekend that I learned about when my sister texted me and told me I should be there. I asked here where she was. She told me. I set the phone done and walked a couple of slow circles muttering to myself and couldn't help but think, 'would have been great to know about this a couple of months ago.' It's not her fault. It's mine. A little research on conventions displayed it loud and proud. Love you, Jo! We're two extremely busy, very tired people and we spend a great deal of our time juggling family, careers and oddities like writing novels, or marketing for romance novels. Next years' is in Chicago and I will have a table. We tried to help each other, but she doesn't have a passion for science fiction and I get embarrassed when the words, "moist heat" come into play.

Where I am having some luck is with libraries. First they were thrilled when an author came through the door, they tripped over themselves when I donated signed copies of my book to put in their local author section and they practically swooned with overwhelming delight when I said these words, "how can I help your library?"

After the initial shock wore off, they talked about reading groups, young writers programs, book readings and the list went on from there. This fits with my end goals of using my books to give back. After expenses and marketing, what's left over goes to support the Wounded Warrior Project. Getting involved with the community through the libraries also feels like the right thing to do. There's a lot that goes into writing a book and I'm still struggling with it, but in those struggles there are a lot of lessons. While most have to learn for themselves, it never hurts to hear the words and know there's someone out there that shares the experience. Trust me, you're not alone.

My book Dex Territory is available. My second book Knight and Dex is winding down and will be available soon. Keep an eye out on www.twbpress.com for latest announcements and the first chapter.

Please find me at:
www.twbpress.com
www.twbpress.com/authormarkaberdeen
www.amazon.com/author/markaberdeen
www.twitter.com/Mark_Aberdeen
www.facebook.com/mark.aberdeen
www.facebook.com/DexTerritoryBook

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:
TWBPress.com
Amazon.com
Barnesandnoble.com
smashwords.com
iBooks

$3.99 for the e-book
$18.95 for the paperback