Hell to Pay

Spender looked over at Parkhill and their mutual expression was, Oh shit.

The senator was on a tour of the NASA facility and the Mars Rover Curiosity was the main event right now. Unfortunately when the senator walked through, they were live. LIVE!

“So we’re live eh?” the senator asked, impressed. “Ooh, what’s that shiny thing over there? Looks like a silver mirror in the dirt.”

Spender swore under his breath. There would be hell to pay, and he hoped he’d have a job in 24 hours.

#

Marge had had one margarita too many, again, and tequila made her a mean drunk.

She looked up at one of the many TV monitors in the sports bar, including the strange broadcast on some science channel showing footage the Mars Curiosity Rover.

“Puh-leeze,” she started again. She had already made a scene over her onion ring mountain appetizer about how the whole space program had been a giant hoax and men were just jumping around on a stage somewhere in the Sixties. “Why that just looks like the desert not 25 miles from here. We camp there all the time Harold.” She took a big swig and wiped her mouth with her hand, then burped, loudly.

Harold had never been a conspiracy theorist, and it had led to heated arguments for 19 years with Marge. He didn’t play along tonight, she was out of control enough.

“See Harold, see?!” Marge bellowed, and more people began giving them that strange sighing and quick look that let you know you were disturbing them. “It even that looks like that place we hiked to last time until those men made us leave, said we were trespassing. Phht!”

Harold unfortunately remembered. It was on that very trip he had lost one of his most prize possessions. His great-great grandfather had brought the unique mirrored pocket watch all the way from Switzerland when their family first came to America in 1926. It didn’t open easily, and didn’t really look like a watch at all being the only strange piece like it ever made. Marge had warned him to be careful with it. Now thanks to his carelessness, the one of a kind pure silver heirloom was lost forever in the desert.

Marge continued her tirade after sucking the last of her third Margarita through the small straw. “I told you not to take the watch, but you had to take it everywhere…”

“Okay dear,” he stood, he’d had enough. He put his hand out to help her up, and she began grabbing her things.

As she got up, Harold looked at the screen behind her and saw the Rover had found something. Then they showed a closeup picture of the object.

Harold froze. It was his great-great grandfather’s watch. HIS watch. They hadn’t opened it yet, and because of it’s strange shape and unique design, they didn’t know what they had found.

Harold moved quickly between Marge and the nearest monitor, blocking her view. He was sure he was turning red.

She was right. Dammit all to hell, she was right and he would never hear the end of it. That “Mars” Rover was 20 something miles from Pete’s Sports Bar.

He spun her towards the door, and she bristled. “What are you doing? What’s the rush?” But by that time she was past the TVs and into the doorway.

Harold spent the drive home hoping to God she never found out, but knew she would…and there would be hell to pay when she did. And not just for Harold…

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Social Media Marketing for Authors

css-social-media-iconsIf you are an author (or any creative person), Social Media is a goldmine waiting for you to find it. Why? Because it’s the way to do exactly what you want most in the whole wide world: find devoted followers of what you write. And the best part? It’s mostly free.

So this is my primer on Social Media based off what I found works for the various artists, writers, as well as my own brands that have seen 500% growth in followers since May. Yep, 500% growth.

What is my big secret? I paid attention to it. Here’s how I break it down.

Facebook
“Come on, you do it…We all do it…I do it, I love to do it. I just did it and I’m ready to do it again, don’t tell me you don’t do it!” – Mel Brooks as King Louis, History of the World Part 1

Yes we all do or have done Facebook (sometimes to our everlasting shame), but what we need for business is a Facebook Page. This is different than your normal personal Facebook account. This is a way to find people who may like your writing, and this page is devoted only to your writing. No personal stuff here.

This is where your FB friends may find out about what you do professionally (or semi-professionally), and learn a whole different side of you.

Facebook Ads are nice for growing this page beyond friends and family. I use FB ads every day to grow different followings and spend about $5 a day. You can do more or less or none. One jazz group page we grew with international followers up over 5000 likes.

The key with Facebook is to not mix business with friends and family, and that’s what a Page allows you to do. Use your personal FB account for friends and fam, and use the page for business/creative push.

Twitter
I was slow to come around on this, but actually like it for business uses better than Facebook (and maybe equal to LinkedIn).

Since Twitter is only quick messages, and they don’t sit static on a page like FB posts do, you can post out tweets much more frequently to catch users who may be on at that moment. It’s like commercials that are on TV all day, but since different folks are watching at different times, you catch a wider audience if you repeat the commercials.

I also love how EASY it is to get followers on Twitter. Unlike Facebook where every “friend” is scrutinized because of privacy issues and “do I like them that much?”, Twitter followers are much more like impersonal viewers that can choose to like a particular post or not, or ignore it completely in their feed. And they may not see your posts if they aren’t on Twitter at the moment you post. Also, you aren’t necessarily “friends” of the person like on Facebook (and that can be a good thing!)

So, you can go for volume on followers. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is simply follow tons of folks. A quarter of them will follow you back right away. Then, after a week or so, you can go delete the ones that don’t if you like using a myriad of free programs.

The second easiest way is Twitter Ads at ads.twitter.com. It’s about the same price as Fb ads, and from what we have seen adds about a follower for .50 cents to a dollar. Right now (first of 2013) Twitter ads are offering $100 free advertising. We have seen 100-150 new followers per Twitter acct. using this free promotion. Jump on it!

LinkedIn
Well I have loved LinkedIn since I found it, and now with the strength of the Groups, I love it even more. From the AOL days, groups have been great for creative types of all kinds. I remember being in Star Trek writing groups and others on AOL. And this past week, actually posted a short story in a contest on one of the groups I was in. GREAT fun!

Your LinkedIn account works simultaneously like a love child of a Facebook and Twitter Post, but the real strength of LI is the groups. Like AOL Groups, then Yahoo Groups, and Facebook Groups before it, LI Groups are becoming the go to source of finding like minded SERIOUS people. I think Yahoo and Facebook brought too many, um, yahoos and not so serious creatives to groups. But LinkedIn has been careful to present itself to serious business-minded folks, and creatives who think like this are people you
want to be around.

Different Strokes

But why repeat the same message on a Facebook Page, a Twitter Account, and a LinkedIn Profile?

The same reason you’d use TV ads, Posters, Internet and Social media, and tie ins if you are promoting a national movie or product. You’re trying to capture a large audience in the place they hang out. Not everyone loves Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Main Point for the Hard of Reading: You do an LI account and groups, FB and Page, AND Twitter because different people prefer different social platforms and may miss your posts if you only do one. And they are all free! Hello!

You are going to have many folks (like Grandma or casual fans) who only mess with (and sometimes live on) Facebook. So you must have a presence there.

If a person lives on Twitter, but doesn’t mess with FB anymore (as many younger folks do these days, or those who hate the privacy issues on FB) they may catch a post about your new book from a Twitter post.

If they prefer LI for business, or groups, same thing, they may see it there.

Tying It All Together

I hear you grumbling already. THREE social media formats? I can barely do one, and would rather not have to do THAT one! I want to spend time writing my books and stories and other genius ideas, not posting to all these things all day long.

I appreciate that. I feel your pain. I totally get where you are coming from. And I call bullshit.

I can go in using a great little program called Hootsuite and post to all my followers in several different brands in minutes. Minutes!

Yes, many times I am pushing a blog post I had to write (like this one, which did take some time). But the actual reach out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groups and Pages took mere minutes.

Hootsuite is an online app that lets you add all your accounts, from Facebook, to Facebook Pages, to Twitter Accounts, to LinkedIn Accounts, even to the LinkedIn Groups you are in. Then you can make one post and send to all of them in a click. What’s really useful is the scheduling feature. In 10 minutes you can schedule a tweet an hour for the next day, and then go to bed with tweets starting out to the world before you even wake up. It’s a beautiful thing.

Listen people, I run a busy company with 30-50 clients at any one time, write 2-5 blogs per week, am working on various short stories and novels, have two music albums of my own in the works, and watch an impossible amount of TV. We get done what we want to get done. A tool like Hootsuite though has made it much easier for me to keep my social media in order.

It’s Not About Sales

This is a sticking point with marketing and always has been. How much does this make me? How do I justify the time by sales I will see from it?

The thing to remember about Social Media is it’s not how many “sales” you get, but how many followers. People who will see your posts, tweets, follow links to your blogs, etc. And how many people follow those people’s tweets and posts, and so on.

“And they told two friends, and they told two friends…”

It’s about building an ever-expanding online world of followers, that you then post to when you have updates, new stories, novels for sale, etc. Your blog then becomes a place they come to, and then what’s on your blog? Links back to follow you on whatever social network they aren’t following you on.

Follow me? (@jonricson on Twitter btw – wink 😉

And unlike others who may say something about social media good or bad, I am only speaking from a concerted effort I decided to try last May. Since then I have seen an unheard amount of new followers, fans, and yes, sales and new business because of social media outreach. I can attribute several clients directly to Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.

So Where’s the Real Value?

The real value is bringing people to trust you and your brand. When they see consistency, quality, and market share, they see legitimacy, and that is what we need for our creative brands to succeed whether we are first time or self-published writers, or growing published authors.

When I send out a message to a throng of followers based on one of my brands, I build trust with my audience, I get new people following me, and I can expect 100 reads very quickly to my blogs or whatever I’m posting about.

THAT to me is valuable. Is it valuable to you?

Have a great week!

JR

Jon Ricson is a writer of many things including science fiction, and detective mystery short stories, blogs, and books. For more on what he is writing besides this blog, check out http://constantnovel.blogspot.com and http://www.FiltonSibley.com

Would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to post a comment and keep the conversation going…

Writer’s Night

“Hi, I’m Jon. And I’m a writer…”

“Hi, Jon,” the crowd says in Borg-like unison. Another confessing author telling his awful stories of why he became a writer.

“I’m new to this group, but just want to say I really feel the love in the room. I write mostly science fiction, humorous detective, but also dabble in sports blogging….”

The group breaks to get bad coffee, and danishes on paper plates. Half of the so-called writers are here hoping for a hook up. They strike up meaningless conversations with folks they think they might match up with.

The attractive redhead approaches the middle aged man. He looks the part. Glasses, small hands, ill-fitting suit. He could be the one.

“Hi, I’m Marley,” she smiles, hoping there still isn’t danish residue on her hands.

“I’m Tim,” the man replies. “Do you come here often?”

Really, she thinks. He’s an author and that’s the best line he can come up with? This guy is not who she thought he was.

Now that guy over there, HE may be a publisher. She makes her move.

“So, you’re new to the group Jon,” she starts. “I’ll just come out and say it. Do you have publishing, or do you publish?”

Jon smiles. “Sure. Smashwords. It’s awesome. Find me at Smashwords.com/profile/view/jonricson

Marley frowns and storms out of the room. “Jerk!”

Jon shrugs and eats another danish. “Tough room.”