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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Silence…

If you’ve noticed you can hear a pin drop in here lately it’s because I’ve moved my blog to http://www.booksbyjason.com/wordpress. But don’t fret, the old posts have been moved too! It’s cleaner and a better set up, but it could use a little love. So check it out, sign up there (again, if you signed up here), and I promise to keep sharing my trials and tribulations on my quest to become one of those rare writers that doesn’t need a day job.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Relocation Expenses

Regular Blog readers – and by that I mean the people who subscribe to this blog – I’m moving. Not physically (this time), but virtually. My blog has been transferred from here to http://www.booksbyjason.com/wordpress. It looks a tiny bit different but other than that it’s the same stuff. I’ve hooked the new blog up to Facebook and Twitter and did a back up and restore of everything I could – heck, maybe you’ll already get updates. I’m not super savvy on the blogging technology, I confess.

I still have to hook up the new blog to Goodreads, but hopefully I can resolve that today. In the meantime, this is the old blog signing off! Thanks for your interest and attention, I hope to keep it lively and fun on the new one (which is more or less the same, just at a different address).

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Writing When What I Should Be Doing is Writing

January 16, 2013 1 comment

I sat down with a little time to spare this morning and tried to figure out what I should be doing. Relax? Heck no! Spare time is time that should be filled with something productive, after all. My options were more studying for a certification I’m working towards or I could do some writing on my current work in progress, The Broken Path (book 3 in my Blades of Leander fantasy series). The Broken Path scares me a little though. In the three days since I officially started it I’ve thrown down over 15,000 words on it. For my non-writing readers, that’s a considerable amount.

So rather than leaping into another feverish and obsessive writing spree I decided I should write about writing instead. Thus I’m here, tossing words on a screen for this blog. It’s not a waste of time, provided I’ve entertained or educated someone out there, but it may also not be as productive as working on the story. But that’s okay.

I’ve read some interviews or viewpoints from some writers that say writers shouldn’t blog. They think they should spend time writing, not doing activities that takes away from that. Others, including myself, have argued that it can be creatively helpful to write up a blog post to get the juices flowing and make a transition into working on the next great story that much easier. Then there’s some people that think blogging is essential to the success of a writer because it allows them to interact with readers and promote / market themselves.

Well I’m all for marketing and promotion. I suck at it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a firm believer that people can’t buy what they don’t know about. I have to take a page out of the book I’m reading right now (Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography) where he talks repeatedly about how his movies and his career was a success because of how much marketing he personally did for them. Internationally, no less. The man went as many places as he could to push his movies and convince distributors and theatres to show them, as well as working with the movie studios on the promotional campaigns for them. One example is Total Recall (the movie, not the book, and not the recent movie with Colin Farrell). The original trailers sucked for it and nobody was interested because it hadn’t been promoted worth a darn. Arnold was upset about that and arranged to get the head of the studio to watch an advanced screening with him 3 weeks out from release date. The guy was blown away by the film and disgusted by what his people were doing to promote it. They brought in an outside firm and in those three weeks boosted the public interest so much that Total Recall was one of the highest selling blockbusters that year. Had it not been for that promotion it still would have been a good movie, but hardly anybody would have known about it.

So is promotion and marketing important? Hell yes. The vast majority of us don’t have the budget to invest to achieve that kind of success though. Instead flukes like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight somehow become viral through chance. Or maybe, like John Locke, they’ve got some hidden secret they figured out that was just right for the time when they hit it big, granting them the opportunity to skyrocket into the stars. Mr. Locke’s secret isn’t so secret anymore, he bought tons of reviews for his books when they came out, boosting them in the charts and convincing people that they were great books. To his credit, his books continue to sell and I don’t hear about too many people that say his books are poorly written. Apparently the ends justifies the means in this case.

So will blogging help me reach that level? I doubt it. It’s a fun thing to do and it helps me ramp up my productivity though. Maybe it helps other writers, readers, and random people from all walks of life too. What I can say is that I have had very few readers reach me via my blog. My feedback with readers almost always comes through email, and that’s not an infrequent thing. I respond to them all and enjoy doing so – with some conversations taking place back and forth for a few days. But those readers always tell me about the books and the characters they enjoyed, they don’t mention how my blog was a wonderful thing for them to find and enjoy.

Instead I’ll keep on trying different things and doing what I can to build my brand. I’ve found that writing a large number of books definitely helps. Kind of like salmon fishing with six lines in the water at once instead of sitting on a dock with a fishing pole in my hand – the more opportunities there are for people to find me, the better my odds are. But that’s still not much better than tossing darts while blindfolded. What I’m ultimately trying to find is a way to shine a light on my books and let people know where they are and that yes, they really are a great book.

To prove my point I just read a five star review this morning from someone about Bounty and my Wanted trilogy in general where they said, “I’m not recommending that you buy these books, I’m tell you that you must buy these books!” That’s the kind of feedback I’m getting from people and that’s why I believe that my books are worth reading.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Triberr – Blog Reach Multiplier and how I use it

February 10, 2012 2 comments

If you’re reading this, the odds are good that you stumbled across it thanks to Triberr. Triberr allows people with similar interests to get together and use Twitter to retweet each others blog postings. I’m a member of a couple of great groups and that really helps to get exposure out there. My blog has grown to perhaps four or five times the following of what it was before Triberr in the span of a a few months.

It’s not just that simple though. Each member of each Triberr group gets to choose whether they send out a tweet about a blog post or not. That, I find, is crucial. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t tweet about every blog that comes across my desk. More often than not I do, but that’s because the people I work with have similar interests.

I’m not being a prick, at least not intentionally, I’m trying to protect my own credibility with my Twitter followers and I’m hoping to prove to them that I value them. I often have conversations with people on Twitter, in fact, and at times I’ll scroll through the stream of tweets looking for something and someone new to talk to just because I want them to know I am interested and I do appreciate them. Thus I don’t necessarily send out a tweet about somebody’s blog on how to bake some gluten free blueberry muffins, but I will tweet on a blog about writing tips or a book review. I usually won’t tweet about diet and exercise tips because I find them gimmicky. I’ve spent years developing my own nutritional plans and exercise routines that work great but I don’t like people trying to make a buck off of such things. And then there’s the free iPad offers – nope, you’ll never get one of those outta me either. :)

So to my Triberr friends – if I don’t tweet about your blog it’s nothing personal, it’s just me trying to maintain my credibility with my Twitter clan. I’ve attracted them because we share interests and while a few of them might be interested in learning how to use dental floss to detail hubcabs, the majority are not. I do weigh each blog individually though – who it comes from is irrelevant as far as my determination to tweet it out or not.

To my Twitter followers – well what I just said applies to you guys and girls as well. And yes, even the occasional Twitter-bot (who else is going to post an avatar wearing a skimpy bikini and offering free stuff ?).

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Sound of a Thousand Whispers

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Wouldn’t it be neat if people with similar interests had an organized means of helping each other out? Or maybe ‘organized’ isn’t the right word, how about convenient? I’ve been tossing the idea around in my head for a few months now, wondering just what sort of administrative nightmare it would be to try and organize a group of people with similar interests or topics into helping one another out. The results, as always, were daunting.

Then today something happened that knocked my socks off. An opportunity fell into my lap that I viewed skeptically – after all, there’s no free lunch in the world. With suspicion in mind I checked it out. “It” is called Tribberr.com.

The way it works is that people with similar interests join groups called Tribes. Not so impressive yet, but just wait. The Tribberr site receives the RSS feed from your blog and makes it available to everyone in your various groups. These people then have the ability to see the blog and comment on it or go to it, or more effectively to tweet about it and raise the awareness to others who you may have otherwise not have known existed. That means this post, when it goes out, has the opportunity to reach close to 100,000 people, considering the Tribes I’ve become a member of.

And the cost of the service? Free. You just need an invite from an existing member. It looks pretty slick, but I’ve only just started using it today. As with anything I suspect the usefulness of it will be directly proportional to how much work I put into it. The beauty of it is there’s not much work that has to be done. Just logging in a couple of times a day to accept the otherwise automated tweets of people in my tribes.

So I say thank you to the people who created Tribber.com. You’ve saved me a ton of work and thought. Granted, you may have also prevented me from developing a product that would have made me a lot of money – but I’m okay with that. At least up until the point where you buy your first yacht, then I might get a little snarky.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Selling My Soul – Progress Report

October 21, 2011 4 comments

I’ve been teasing and hinting that I’m doing all this research and I’m going to post the conclusions of that research. Well, I’m a long ways from that, but I can offer up some tidbits on what a few months of progress are showing. And most importantly (to you, the readers), this is free! I’m not offering all this up in a conveniently bundled package for $x.99 like certain individuals out there. Maybe I should and maybe this simple bit of humanitarianism is a marketing fail on my part. I’d rather think you’d be grateful for this and more inclined to believe that I really do want to help people succeed – both myself and you, dear reader. Heck, maybe you’ll be so appreciative you’ll even go out and buy one or more of my books. No pressure though… ;-)

First on cover art: By improving my cover art images it’s definitely getting good feedback from people anecdotally (kind words over Twitter and email and such). Is it driving sales? No, is it helping? Yes. Can I quantify it? Alas – no. I did take Wanted from a good to a better (in my opinion) cover and got several very positive comments on it though, including at least one sale because it “looked very interesting.” Small sample of data, but I only made the transition last night.

Book Blurb: I’ve revised and fine tuned my book blurbs, improving them steadily all along. I may occasionally make a tweak here or there but by and large that’s all there is to it. The results? Well there’s no empirical data saying it helped n%, but there has been a steady increase over time.

Book Reviews: Yes, these are helping…I think. Nobody has contacted me to say they were on the fence about buying my book until they saw “RazorbabyX99″ thought it was a great read, but knowing how I and a few others look at making a purchase in an online venue, reviews are worth their weight in gold. And like above, the positive trend reflects that these are a factor, I just wish I had more of them. I honestly believe more reviews would make a very strong difference. As it is I’m lucky to have two reviews on any given book on Amazon. I encourage – no, I implore people to please help out the writers they like (especially if it’s me) and leave a few words or sentences about a book they liked. It’s so immensely helpful.

Twitter: The powerhouse that is Twitter is both fun and useful. I’ve had a lot of success with Twitter helping me to increase sales. Both my tweets that go out aimed at promoting and other tweets that draw people in. Sure, maybe it’s a a 1:500 ratio but that’s still a sale. But even more importantly, I’ve met some really cool people and been touched by some of them as well (and not in a creepy way). For example, my wife has spent the week in the hospital for some severe abdominal pain that the docs had a hard time identifying. It looks like she’ll be headed home very soon, hopefully today, and the problem was one that was complicated by a matter of timing and coincidence. A few mentions on Twitter about this brough in a flood of well wishes and support. It was very touching and very much appreciated. Sure, maybe there’s no real investment when all your doing is typing in a few encouraging words but trying being on the other end, when you’re not quite sure what’s going on and you’ve got the creative machine that is a writer’s mind working against you instead of for you. It’s amazing how the power of anonymity and empathy combine to make me think that maybe humanity isn’t destined to spiral into chaos.

Website: I’ve got one (http://www.booksbyjason.com) and I update it frequently. Either new samples, news postings, or design changes (major or minor). Come to think of it I need to revise some font sizes on my book pages for the links still. Well anyhow, having a website has been quite helpful. People like the free samples. My visitation is down recently because I haven’t been pumping it out there very much. So, um, go visit it! ;-)

The data: The following numbers are US numbers from Amazon only. I’ve got a great following in the UK that is increasing at a similar base and even if I can’t speak for their loyalty to me, I’ve found myself becoming fiercely loyal to them for the support I’ve received. I’ve got a passport, I just need the time and more sales to finance a trip to go and visit!

Month             Quantity                 Notes

June                       20                     No advertising worth mentioning, original covers / blurbs / website

July                         14                     Just beginning to attempt to advertise but “attempt” is the key word.

August                   50                    Started fumbling with Twitter effectively and blogging. Website enhancement

September          108                    More of the same plus I blurbs and prof. cover art. Website changes too.

October             93 / 135              At 93 presently, trending towards 135. More and more of the same.

So the improvements aren’t linear by any means, it’s a result of working hard and the more I can put into it in terms of time and effort, the more I get out of it. Adding new books to the mix helps as well, of course! The numbers aren’t outstanding by any stretch, but it’s a positive trend and I’m here for the long haul. I stand zero chance of hitting 1 million ebooks in five months like John Locke did, but that’s okay – I’m not the marketing guru he is either. Ironically I read his book and saw that he and I independently came to many of the same conclusions. In a few instances he’s been able to implement them better though.

But speaking of marketing, I’ve got something new I’m trying in the very near future too. It’s staying under wraps until it happens though, it’s a surprise – but I promise it’ll be a great one!

I started this marketing bit with the intent of using it as a tool. It was a means to an end. The end is a long ways away but that’s okay because it’s changed It went from being thought of as a necessary chore to something that has changed and improved me. The Twitter experience, where I interact with friends, has been inspirational, touching, exhilarating, and fun. There’s occasional somber moments as well, such as when I learn of a friend who is on the verge of losing a cherished family pet. They’re not just fans and readers, they’re part of an extended family and I couldn’t have the hopes, dreams, and ambitions that I do without them. If you’re a writer I’d advise you take that to heart and remember we’re only successful because of the people who make us that way.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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