When the music stops

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A long time ago, my husband and I went to a slightly posh pool party with some more – uh – well-heeled friends of ours. The hosts were our own age, and everyone assured us “you’ll just love them – they are SO cool”.

And they were. Really. They’d made a ton of sushi from scratch, and bought imported beer, and it was a glorious, sunny, perfect day. They were sweet to us: they were interested in us, in our artwork, in our plans, in our opinions. We liked them.

Everything was going swimmingly (hah!) in fact…right up until the radio began playing some rap song or other, and our host said those fateful words.

“Music today is such crap.”

Music. Today. Is. Such. Crap.

We kept our heads down. No one wants to be a cranky pain in the butt when they’re a guest, right?

 

But then he didn’t stop.

“There’s no depth to this shit. No story. No meaning.”

 

I shot my husband a warning look, but it was too late. He had that gleam in his eye – the one that said, in no uncertain terms, “Oh, buddy. Game ON!”

 

But Pat started out mildly enough.

“Yeah,” he said. “Not like what we grew up with…

 

“Not like ‘Afternoon Delight, right? So insightful. And the Captain and Tenille’s ‘Do it to Me One More Time’ – that was fucking  brilliant stuff, wasn’t it? Or ‘Wild Thing’ by the Trogs? Oh, and ‘Louie, Louie’ – that was so fucking deep, man.”

And then he stood up and struck that Vegas-night-club pose, like you do, and began warbling

 

“Night in white saaaaatiiiin

Never reaching the eeeend!

Letters I’ve wriiiitten

Never meaning to seeeend!”

 

At which point, he launched himself backwards into the pool with a very dramatic splash.

 

Let’s leave aside the fact that our own parents and grandparents said exactly the same things about our music (possibly minus the profanity, depending on whether it was mixed company or not). That might be argued away, though I’m not sure how.

Let’s just remember that we’re not sixteen anymore, and that even songs that you actively loathed back then have now acquired the patina of nostalgic familiarity, so that you sing along to Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ with as much enjoyment as you do to Dire Straits or David Bowie.

And the next time you open your mouth to utter those words, be aware that

A) There was just as much crap on the radio in 1970 as there is today, and not every single teen rushed out and bought those 45s; and

 

B) Today’s music isn’t aimed at you.

 

 

And no. They never asked us back.

 

Over here at the Help desk…

Indie writers  complain too much.

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I know, I know. But it’s true.

We whine that we aren’t selling “enough”, that ads don’t work, that giveaways do but no, they don’t, not the way we want them to. We complain that good cover art costs too much, we complain about three star reviews, we bitch at our editors, we angst over small word counts.

And really, we need to stop.

Time was, none of this could happen for most  of us – not at all, not ever.

Time was, you couldn’t publish a book unless you had one of two things.

Either you had the incredible good fortune to land an actual book contract with an actual publisher – this had (still has) the same odds as being struck by lightning while whistling nineteen-thirties show tunes in a minor key; OR you had enough money to finance the thousands of dollars needed for a vanity publishing of your memoir about being a dog-clipper in Butte, Montana.

Now, anyone can publish a book. Not just eBooks – you can have a Print on Demand service create an actual physical book, and it doesn’t cost you a dime other than a discounted copy or six for your mom.

You can make your own cover – although you should not.

You can skip the editing process – although you should not.

The book doesn’t have to be trendy. It doesn’t need to be ripped from the headlines, or come with a CD or a recipe for piroshki by Zsa-Zsa Gabor.

It doesn’t even have to be any good – you can just put it out there. Possibly no one will buy it, and possibly it will get awful reviews (and even good books will share these fates) but you can put it out there.

Traditionally published books – well, a lot of those authors sell very few copies, and lots more get mean-spirited reviews, too – and those authors won the equivalent of a once-a-century tontine/lottery with really arcane entry rules, so what exactly are we complaining about?

Do I wish I could write better and faster? Yup.

Do I wish I could stop making continuity errors and typos? Yes, indeedy.

Do I long for brilliant and unique, eye-catching cover art for under $50 a pop? You betcha.

Do I dream of six-figure sales numbers and topping the Amazon bestseller list? Oh, honey, I do, I do!

 

But considering that I have published three books now, with an initial outlay of less than $200USD and have made that money back plus some – I cannot complain.

And neither can you.

 

 

Talking Failed Greenland Colony Blues

Studies and research into Norse archaeology of the Viking Age are really problematic.

Never mind the public misperception of the horny helmets. Never mind the controversy over whether Norse women were actual, in-the-flesh, straight-up Valkyries, or the occasional but collective aneurysm that surfaces every time a new re-enactor comes across this:

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It goes much deeper.

There are excavated Norse sites dating to the Viking Age all over the place. South Uist, Buckquoy, Skaill, Birsay, Jarlshof.

Some were occupied for only a few years, a decade or two. A few, like South Uist, survived into the Middle Ages, more or less. But they ceased to be Norse pretty frequently, and, as noted, often ceased to be occupied at all. Not much is said about this: it is occasionally mentioned in the research that the settlement was abandoned after a certain point, but there is not even much speculation about why that might have happened. Usually, the archaeologists wax on ecstatically about the “pristine” context the settlement has, because nobody bothered to build over it.

Erik the Red “discovered” Greenland around 985 AD, when he was exiled from Iceland for three years for killing some people.  The colony survived for 500 years.

L’Anse Aux Meadows was used at least periodically for about twenty years and possibly a bit longer.

 

For some reason, though, whenever Greenland mentioned, it is always as “the failed colony on Greenland”. Always. There are whole National Geo specials about the failure.

Speculation as to why the New World site was not more utilized and exploited is the main topic for L’Anse Aux Meadows. Hardly anyone thinks about how amazing it really was that the Norse got there at all. Nope. The important thing is that they didn’t build a city the size of York, and spread their influence to every corner of the continent.

 

It seems to me that there is real and disturbing problem here and it is this: in those colonies where the assumption is that original inhabitants (the Picts or “Celtic people”) are presumed to have been slaughtered or forced to flee, the colony is deemed a success, regardless of how short the lifespan of the settlement was.

 

In those places where the original inhabitants were not the victims of genocide or displacement, the colonies are deemed failures.

 

If this is not indicative of some very deep-seated problems in how we view the past, then how else can we explain why the demise of a settlement that was in use for less than a quarter century is neither questioned or discussed, but a colony that hung on in very difficult conditions for twice as long as the United States has been a country is a “failure”?

It’s okay. You don’t have to answer right away.

 

I’ll wait.

Author Updates

So far, in writing “The Shades of Winter”, there’s been a suicide mission gone horribly wrong, a mad king, a couple of very crucial betrayals, a mini-rebellion, the return of an ancient evil, and the mother of all storms.

And that’s just the first half.

 

This might be the most action-packed thing I ever write. Can’t wait to see what my imagination comes up with next.

Promote, Publish, Repeat!

Please welcome author Lucinda Moebius.

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I am currently promoting a new release!

My newest book is a non-fiction Self-Help book for authors. I created the book based on lessons I learned about creating an effective book marketing plan.

Publish Promote Repeat: Preparing to Launch your Book Workbook

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KQDRMS

Promotion is a process. There is no magic formula for selling books. Hard work and dedication are required to create, publish, and market a masterpiece.
This workbook guides you through a three-phased process of bringing your book to a broader audience. Following the steps outlined in this workbook will streamline your prepublication, publication, and post publication marketing process, delivering to you the potential to not only achieve, but maintain, an improved ranking in the sales market.

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About the Author

Lucinda Moebius has been a writer since she was a child and was first published in 2010. Since then she has worked hard to create unique visions and stories. Her work includes novels in multiple genres including: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Children’s Books, Screenplays and Non-fiction. Lucinda has a Doctorate in Education and loves teaching, but her greatest desire is to help others understand how literature and writing can bring enlightenment and understanding to everyone. She offers book coaching and advice to everyone, whether they want it or not.

 

What do you love most about writing?

My favorite part about writing is the magical shiver I get up my spine when I read something really good and I realize I wrote it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the one who wrote my books or if there is someone else taking over my thoughts and fingers and weaving a spell over the computer. Part of my writing process is to set aside a project once I complete it for at least two to three weeks so when I pick it up again I am looking at it with fresh eyes. When I come across those little gems of word magic in the pages I get goosebumps all up and down my arms and I feel like I can feel a Muse breathing secrets into my ear. I believe in spirits at exactly that moment.

What is your chosen genre, and why?

I don’t really have a chosen genre. I love the written word and write in whatever genre I feel most inspired to write at the time. Currently I have published Science Fiction, Paranormal, Literary Fiction, Self-Help Nonfiction, Poetry and Children’s Concept books.

I have two series in progress right now. One is a Science Fiction Family Saga and the other is a paranormal thriller series.

What inspired you to write it?

I write because I have to. There is no other reason. I need to have the creative outlet to let the voices play and evolve. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me if no one else ever reads my writing. I love to watch the words spill out onto the page and weave themselves into the magic of a story.

 

Books by Lucinda Moebius

Echoes of Savanna: Book One: The Parent Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006RM66QM

 

Raven’s Song: Book One: T1 Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YJ92GO

 

Write Well Publish Right

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product

 

Publish Promote Repeat

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KQDRMS

Feeder: Chronicles of the Soul Eaters Book 1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615968325

 

30 Days Stream of Consciousness V. 1

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Streams-Consciousness-1-ebook/dp/B01BW8JXBU

 

A Haunting

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Stream-Consciousness-Haunting-ebook/dp/B01D7T9CFY

 

Abduction

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F1DMOBI

Fire and Ice A Love Story

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGL8QUM

Raising Grandpa

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPP1FCI

I Know I am Awesome

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QYAQBZI

Oh Brother!

https://www.amazon.com/Oh-Brother-Baby-Coping-Kids-ebook/dp/B01A1PC5YM

Firefighter Jeff

https://www.amazon.com/Firefighter-Jeff-Dr-Lucinda-Moebius-ebook/dp/B06ZZ41W6N

How can we follow you on Facebook?

Lucinda Moebius Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lucinda-Moebius-Fan-Page-136358979707547/

SFF Promo Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1132459036786385/

Twitter Handle

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4176363.Lucinda_Moebius

Website: www.lucindamoebius.com

Blogs:

Your Next Favorite Author: http://mynextfavoriteauthor.blogspot.com/

Moebius Musings:  http://moebiusmusings.blogspot.com/

 

Turning the reader off: when “self-promoting” turns into “self-absorbed”

I’m on a lot of social media nowadays.

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It’s something you pretty  much have to do, whether you’re a brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box indie author or a well-known and traditionally published household name. You gotta Facebook blog, Tweet, Instagram, and Snapchat yourself and your books all over the place. It’s just the way it is.

But despite decades of having been advertised to, it seems that most of us. including all the advertising “gurus” who are now hawking their wares all over the net, haven’t learned a damned thing.

No. Seriously, you just keep doing those things that don’t work.

 

You need to listen to yourself and think a lot harder about what it is your advertising is for.

This is pretty important. If your FB page and Twitterfeed is populated entirely by either people offering to advertise your book (for a price) or other authors hawking their stuff, you haven’t hit your target audience.

And this shotgun approach means that even on retweets, there’s a good chance your cozy mystery is going out to people who only read vampire fiction with a lot of sex.

Those people…they aren’t even LOOKING at your ad.

  • Saturation

Apparently the concept of less is more has no meaning on the internet.

And yet, if you analyze your own response to ad campaigns that are just that little bit (or way too much) repeated ad nauseum, you’ll notice that the main result is ad-fatigue to the point where one actively will NOT buy the thing. Even if it’s what they want. Because it looks old and tired by the time they decide to look for a book about whatever.

  • Overselling

It’s pretty much the most off-putting thing around when an author describes their book as “the best” or “the most” or anything else superlative. You don’t get to say that about your own work. Yeah, you think you’re the bee’s knees.  But no one likes a braggart.

It’s the reader who gets to decide that it’s the best book ever, not you. You don’t get to say “My book is the most exciting new take on Steampunk you will ever read.”

That’s how you wound up with that one-star review. Because you were an arrogant prick who couldn’t deliver.

  • Underselling

The flip side is to do the self-mocking, “my book is awful” ads.

Because people will believe that, and then…well, why would they buy it?

  • Variety

It’s the spice of life, and yet, when it comes to ads on the internet, all I see is the same tagline, endlessly repeated.

Look, if it didn’t make me click the first time, why would I click on the 1001st?

  • Engagement

Engagement is not measured by volume.

Sure, your friends share and retweet your buy-links. Sure, lots of people “like” and “favourite” those posts. But that’s not really engagement.

Engagement means that you make an effort to connect with people as something more than dollar signs. If the only thing you ever post – even on your author page – is urgent pleas for people to buy something, you aren’t selling yourself.

 

There was a time when people didn’t care so much about the personality of the writer. They read a review, or they looked at a book cover and a blurb, and made a choice. They either wanted to read the book, or they didn’t. The closest they got to “knowing” an author might be if you got a radio or tv or newspaper interview.

What they cared about was whether they liked the books.

Nowadays, with all this communication happening, you can’t expect to entice new readers to follow or friend you on social media unless you are offering one of two things.

Either you are just there to increase their numbers or venues for advertising, or you are giving them something of value beyond endless shilling of your books or services.

And those authors who only ever tweet or post the same old buy-links with boring or repetitive or over-the-top taglines – well, I don’t know about anyone else, but frankly, I mute/hide those people pretty ruthlessly, because out of the thousands of tweets or posts I need to wade through every day, those are kind of a waste of time.

A “friend” offers more than a “What can you do for me?” interaction. A “friend” talks about something other than themselves, at least once in a while.

There’s an old saying that to have friends, you need to be a friend.

Meatspace or on wifi, it still applies.

 

*NOTE: The other really important thing about all this is that we know that “word of mouth” is what really sells – and “word of mouth” means that you tell your friends and family why you like a particular novel so much that you are willing to “sell” other people on it.

When you retweet or share, don’t you think it would make more of an impact if you included a few words about WHY you think this book is worth reading?

That’s what you need to do for your author-friends, and what they need to do for you.