Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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The writer and marketer must do lots and lots of things to keep their head above the marketing waters. And, those marketing waters are constantly moving. How do you keep up? And, what are the most effective marketing strategies to use?
Since the game is always changing, it's important to keep up with marketing trends. One useful tool for this is Technorati's 2013 Digital Influence Report.
According to their new report, which is based on "over 6,000 influencers, 1,200 consumers, and 150 top brand marketers," blogs are now heavy hitters with consumers. Blogs are regarded as trustworthy, they are popular, and they wield influence over consumer buying decision making.
So, to answer the title question, yes it is.
To further validate the importance of blogs, the report shows that blogs have more motivational buying power than Facebook. That's pretty amazing since FB is the top social network brands use to create visibility and develop relationships with consumers. In other words, brands use FB more than other social networks and they put more budget dollars into it than other social networks.
Reviewing the Technorati Report, Social Media Examiner explained that the reason blogs are so influential is because "bloggers tend to be very honest and sincere in their reviews of products and services. They talk about both negative and positive aspects of a brand, and in doing so become a trusted source of information. Trust drives action, and thus consumers look to bloggers before they buy."
The study also shows that FB cornered 91 percent of brand presence, while Twitter cornered 85 percent.
Another important finding of this study is that over 50 percent of consumers feel that smaller communities offer more influence. Even new sites were trusted over social networks.
From this study it would seem that people like connecting with other people, not crowds. They like the personal relationship, the kind of one-on-one relationship that social networks don't necessarily offer.
While the study focused on brand marketers, the results are applicable to your author or freelance writing site. Knowing that people in general trust blogs and look to them for information along with help and guidance to make purchasing decisions is powerful.
It's understandable that this information may not be interesting to most. You may not care about knowing which social network is more popular with the heavy hitters or the percentage of marketing budget dollars brands spend on social networking. But, having proof that you're not blogging in vein should put a smile on your face.
See you on the blogs.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I'm kind of sad to see 2013 go, because even though it didn't start off great -- Hubby having surgery, car accident, computer dying, the passing of so many people we loved -- it had some nice times too. Great vacation with the family. New car. New computer. Great conferences, time with friends, new friends, new conferences. It was pretty good, overall.
However, I am SUPER EXCITED for 2014 to start because there are so many BIG THINGS coming next year.
First of all, I have a story in a Steampunk anthology that comes out next year. The anthology is called Gaslight and Grimm and will be published by Dark Quest Books. It's all Steampunk fairy tales. I wrote a version of The Three Little Pigs, which contains no pigs whatsoever. There are some other authors whose Names You Might Know who will also have stories included. Not sure of the release date yet, but I will make a big announcement when it comes out.
I SHOULD also finish the final Library of Athena book next year. Should. It's coming along and I really like where it's going. It will be a fitting end to the series, with a couple of twists I didn't even know about until I wrote them down.
The other bit of news is a BIG HUGE SEKRIT. I cannot tell you. Or, I could, but then I'd have to kill you. Or give you kittens, or something. This is the Most Exciting piece of news of all the news that I have to share. Hopefully it will be able to be shared in the next two weeks. I am BURSTING.
I'd love to tell you. But I can't. Just know that 2014 Will. Be. Epic.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Even I'm not sure. The internet moves quickly - with lightning speed. Things change rapidly. Places to go cease to exist. New places pop up, fade away. It seemed I could no longer keep up. I faded away. My energies were shifted, diverted, to other things to occupy my creative needs - editing, making jewelry, craft shows, etc.
But I think it's time to come back. I have been going through my Guardians of Glede series books - making up a family tree for the publisher, getting new covers, checking for errors. And it got me thinking about the books again. Ok, I'll just say it - I like reading my own books. The characters are like family to me after all of this time. And it has been a very long time.
I started writing the series when my second child was just a wee one. He is now 27. That's a long time. I didn't actually publish anything until the late 1990's though. That was when epublishing was in its infancy, just getting started. And all I heard was that no one wanted to read books on the computer. No one. Everyone wanted print. Now?
Well, no one seems to want print anymore. I have stacks of printed books in my closet that I can't give away. Now, everything is electronic.
I was also a little disillusioned by my own expectations. Of course, all artists have them - the expectations. We'll be famous. People will want to read our stuff. People will rave about it. We'll be in a warm, happy glow for years and years. And the money wouldn't hurt either.
But it soon became apparent that what I envisioned didn't happen. Sure, I had really nice reviews, I won a few awards for small press, I sold some books, my name is in a lot of places on the internet. But it didn't seem like I had envisioned it at all. I wanted more. But I didn't know what more I wanted.
Then came the piracy of my books. Lots of it. I was told I should be happy - people were reading my books, after all, and shouldn't that be enough? But, strangely, it wasn't really. I felt almost as if I was being mocked - yeah, we like your books - but only if they don't cost us anything. I became jaded. And sad.
I let that sadness eat at me. I quit.
I quit trying. I quit promoting. I quit writing. I haven't written anything new in over a year. It's not that I don't have creative juices still within me. I do. But every time I try to write, I think "why bother"? There are so many books out there, so many new authors, so much to read. How on earth will my little stories ever compete? Ever make it anywhere besides on my computer and in my dreams?
But now I'm back. I think it's time. Time to do something, time to move forward, time to start writing again. I hope so. Will anyone even read this?
I hope so. If anyone does, let me know.
And here's a picture just to end on a happy note:
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
So, here are a few things I am thankful for (and lets just assume that the top of the list is my family and my friends and my health, etc and go from there, shall we?)
1) Writing buddies. There's nothing like having someone you trust read your work and give feedback. It's a vital part of my writing process.
2) NaNoWriMo. This month long push to write 50,000 words has gotten me through a few first drafts of stories, when I might have stopped part way through, frustrated that the story was not going where I wanted. By forcing myself to push through, I found the story again.
3) Libraries. I could never afford to buy as many books as I would like to read (as much as I'd like to own them all).
4) The Internet and the way it helps me stay connected with far-flung friends and family.
5) Nice travel days (and it looks like we won't have one today as we head off to family in another state) - so I'll be thankful my car is in decent shape - and I'll be really thankful if we arrive there in a timely fashion.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meany, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Jimmy Hayward, Kaitlyn Maher, Carlos Alazraqui, Jeff Biancalana, Danny Carey, Carlos Ponce, and more.
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward Screenplay by: Jimmy Hayward and Scott Mosier Story by: David I. Stern and John J. Strauss Art Direction by: Kevin R. Adams Music by: Dominic Lewis
Premise: Reggie had found the perfect life after being chosen by the President's daughter as that years pardoned turkey and got taken to Camp David . That is until a fated evening when he's kidnapped by one of his own, a muscle bound turkey named Jake. And according to Jake, it's Reggie's destiny to come with him and help him use a top secret time machine to go back in time and stop turkey from becoming a holiday meal tradition. The Great Turkey told him so. (Rated PG)
1) Voice Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson are a lot of fun as Jake and Reggie. But 'hands down', it is George Takei who steals the spotlight as S.T.E.V.E. He was a total riot! Amy Poehler was cute as the chief's daughter Jenny. Kaitlyn Maher as the President's hyperactive daughter was utterly adorable.
2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Reel FX Creative Studios did a great job with the animation. They brought in a lot of little touches to the film that made some of the visuals unique. I especially enjoyed the inventiveness with how the tukey use their wings. The time machine take off and travel scenes were quite spectacular and also very funny.
I thought it a neat touch, too, that the turkey from the past showed a lot of the same visual qualities as their indian neighbors. The animated jokes for Jake and Jenny's brother testing each other's manliness were both hilarious and disturbing.
3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: Reel FX did the 'most fun thing ever' just as the film began. First they freely admit to taking some liberties with the historical facts in the making of the film. Then they reassure us that talking turkey, however, are real! This seemingly small bit does wonders in setting the whole tone for the audience right from the start. And the fun only grows from there.
Several themes are explored and are interwoven through the film and characters - belonging, perceived happiness, loyalty, faith, guilt, acceptance. They do touch a few times on rather sobering items, but they don't linger on them and they actually add depth to the tale being told.
Kudos for how they decided to do the character of Jenny. Her lazy eye problem, while originally something which would be off putting, becomes a rather endearing trait by the end of the film. It also shows that one need not be perfect on the outside to be loved or appreciated by those around them.
No unexpected or innovative plot surprises, but plenty of time travel foolery - which made for a lot of fun. S.T.E.V.E. was the best idea ever. Though I have to say he seemed to quickly evolve into more than was originally intended. He even appeared to have a universal translator - a nice SF in-joke.) Plenty of SF and regular jokes, visual and not, for the parents and the kids.
Conclusion: "Free Birds" was quite enjoyable, especially with all the usual hijinks one can expect from a time travel movie. George Takei was a blast. Make sure to sit through at least part of the credits as there is an extra scene.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
The panel summary was "It seems that these days everybody and their dog are giving out awards on the basis of general popularity, being a member of a group, or decided by a panel of judges. But just how important is any award to a writer's career, and is it ever ethical to actively campaign for your own work?"
It was interesting to have a discussion of this topic at this convention, being that the convention had the meetings of two societies - The British Fantasy Society and the World Fantasy Board - and both societies' annual award ceremonies. What was odd, though, is that the panelists all mentioned that the awards they had won had not benefited them in any way that they had noticed (except for those awards that had money as part of the award). Awards to them were a matter of recognition of their work, that "someone is reading" as one panelist mentioned.
As someone who won awards as well (and granted, an EPPIE for Best Fantasy and a Dream Realm Award for Best Anthology is not in the same league as a Hugo or a Campbell or a Locus Award), I agree that the recognition is nice. But I do think the panel might have benefited from having either a small press author or a librarian to join in on the conversation. It struck me that someone from a traditional publishing house might be noticing only the short term and totally overlooking what those from small press have been encouraged to see as "Long Tail". One of the panelists did mention that there had been an small increase in sales of the book that had won the award, but it hadn't affected the sales of her other books. There was also a polling of the audience to see who among the audience paid attention to awards in regard to their book purchases (the answer, oddly enough at a convention where several awards were being given out, was very few. But this could be because people attending purchased books when they came out and not a year later when awards were announced).
As a librarian, one thing I've noticed over the years is that award winning books tend to stay in print. Of course, it depends on the award. Caldecott and Newbery Award winners and nominees are carried by public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries (if the university in question has an education department and classes in children's literature). When I tried to replace books that had been damaged or stolen, I had problems replacing books that had been published more than a year ago. I never had any problems replacing Caldecott and Newbery award winners and nominees, however. Books published even fifty years ago are still in print, both because they were award winners and because people still wish to study them. When the English Department at my university developed a science fiction class (finally!), I found that Hugo Award winners are often still available, though the older ones are not republished as often as those which won awards for children's books. I have no information on how fantasy or horror award winners have done.
So, though some of these award winners are not noticing any benefits now, in the long run, they may. I only hope that some convention will re-examine that topic when they do. I've already noticed that some conventions ask in their participant questionnaires if the person has won any awards. But perhaps that's more for the benefit of the convention and their advertising.
What do you think about awards? Do you pay attention when purchasing a book? Do you nominate books for awards and root for particular authors?