Small Towns, Small News, Small Fish

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Hello?  Is anybody there?  Am I here? Or am I, maybe, invisible?

I get that I live in a small town now.  A small pond, as they say.  And it’s not like I moved back here because I want to be a big fish in a small pond.  Because I am, at best and only occasionally, only a marginally medium-sized fish. Still, shouldn’t even a small fish in a small pond have a better chance of being noticed than a small fish in a big pond?

Before you answer that question, answer this, because maybe I am totally backwards in my thinking.  Which is more notable, would you say, a local author who has had three books released by a small press, or a local writer who wrote and illustrated a children’s book twenty years ago that is not even published yet? He has instead started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to self publish it. I have it in my mind that it’s option A, but realize that I am a prejudiced respondent.  I am author A.

Sure, author B’s is an unusually titled children’s story, and he illustrated it. Contrast that, though, by adding in the fact that I have had several short stories accepted by paying markets, also self published a novel and two short story collections, and am trying to earn my living as a writer.  Add in the knowledge that no one, absolutely NO ONE, needs to have $10,000 to self publish a book.  Not in today’s e-book market where free self publishing is just a mouse click away.  Even if you feel print books are the only way to go, both CreateSpace and Lulu.com offer a non-fee trade paperback publishing option.  I’ve been there, done that, and paid $0.

So which author, do you think, earned an article in yesterday’s News Tribune? Maybe the title above gives the answer away. Despite my having sent in several news releases to mention events like a presentation at the Princeton Public Library, attending both the Dekalb Writer’s Fair and Chicago’s Printer’s Row Festival, and the fact that I was donating all book sales on June 7 to a homeless organization, my local paper has not mentioned me or my books once.  That’s nada, nyet, zip, big old goose egg.

I know I sound like sour grapes.  I feel like I’ve been eating sour grapes, in fact. But that’s only because I can’t afford the more expensive, sweeter grapes because no one seems to notice I’m standing here hawking my wares to a bunch of fishermen who would rather pull a soggy sock out of the pond than a fish of any size. Maybe the problem is that, as a lowly fish, I don’t know any influential movers or shakers in the wool trade.

WordPress Wednesdays: Is Word Whoring Really Worth it?

streetwalkerWhen I first started promoting Painted Black, the process was confusing and time consuming: visiting social media sites, looking for reviewers, trying to set up author events. It still is, which is why lately I’ve started doing less of it and concentrate on finishing the next book, Box of Rain, instead.

Because I’m an organizing freak (although most of my friends and family would tend to say Who?  What?  Organized?) I came up with three concepts that I thought would help me tame the chaos: Twitter Tuesdays, WordPress Wednesdays, and Facebook Fridays.  The idea was to spend minimal time on those three mediums except for their designated day of the week.

Twitter Tuesday amounted to me subscribing to a tweeting service, Hootsuite, which allowed me to bulk schedule tweets by uploading a spreadsheet.  I would fill a spreadsheet with quotes from reviews, or interesting tidbits, and add a link to the book on Amazon. Once I uploaded the file to the service, I scheduled when to send each tweet out.

I started questioning if it was worth the money, or the time, once I found Twitterfeed which is free and allows me to automatically tweet new blog posts from some of my favorite websites.  Sure I’m not sending out links to my books, but I still maintain an active presence.

Facebook Friday became a lost cause once I got hooked on the socializing.  The idea was supposed to be that I gave myself permission to spend as much time as I wanted browsing Facebook and interacting with my friends and page members there, but only visit occasionally other days.  Except, since I pull my phone out to see what’s new on FB every time a commercial comes on television, or when I’m trying to procrastinate on getting my word count done for the day, I find myself spending as much time, or more, on a daily basis, not just Fridays.

The only PR brainstorm of mine that has survived intact so far is the WordPress Wednesday idea.  WordPress allows you to write posts anytime you want and schedule them to post whenever.  I even have a post I wrote that won’t go live till 2015.  The idea was to spend my Wednesdays writing at least one or two blog posts for the week and getting them scheduled to post automatically.

The problem is, I have too many websites.  In addition to this one, I have one for each book I’ve written, one for the Street Stories series, and I’m administrator on the site for my alter ego Deb Donahue. Even though I now focus on the three main ones, I often draw a blank when I try to think of something to say on each of them every Wednesday. Some weeks it is difficult to come up with even one post let alone two or three for each site

Not only that, but I wonder if it sounds like I am just whoring myself when I write a post only because I feel obligated to, rather than because I have something to share with my readers. “Hey,mister, come take a look at what I have going on under the hood.” The truth is, my most popular posts usually happen on non-Wednesdays, when something I’m thinking about, or I read, or I hear or see, prompts me to voice my opinion and post it for the world to see.

Some people write blogs with the goal of the blog itself being what they want people to enjoy and read.  The number of followers and comments and hits they get show the degree of success they have in creating a popular site to visit. All I really want is to create a presence on the internet so that people can get to know me and hopefully develop an interest in reading my books. Because that’s where I really pour out my heart and my thoughts: in my books.

I don’t see how a weekly regimented WordPress Wednesday is going to achieve that.  In fact, if I write stuff that is crap or uninteresting just to say I’ve done my duty for the week, it’s going to hurt my purposes. So I’m giving myself permission to let WordPress Wednesdays rest in peace alongside its siblings Twitter Tuesday and Facebook Friday. I will never again let schedules and obligation be the driving force behind a blog post.  From now on, I will count on inspiration and passion to produce posts that people will enjoy and I will be proud of.