books, indie author, indie books, indie writer, Instagram, journaling, writing

Lost in the Land of Instagram

1027191702So, a year and a half ago, I finally decided to check out this social media I had heard about so much. I was loathed to take on another account or a program and build a new following all over again. But I was told it was the land of gold if I wanted to sell books.

Wanting to boost my following, I learned quickly NOT what to do. For instance, don’t “heart” every post. Especially the ones with the pretty pictures that say, “sponsored.” You will get instantly spammed by every salesman on Instagram.

The algorithms on Instagram are quick to pick out what you “heart” or do not like, so choose wisely. Before I knew it, my feed was running a plethora of puppies, kittens, flowers, and Vikings, which was fine, but where were the readers and authors hanging out?

I learned not to instantly follow someone that followed me without checking out their profiles. Especially men. The universal pick up line is “Hello beautiful.” Really? You got to be kidding. I also learned that if the account was private and showed a smiling, older male, head for the hills.

Then I found my first “loop.” The program was challenging, but ten apps later, I learned how to design a reasonably normal-looking post. Suddenly I had an outpouring of followers. I decided I needed to create a formula for who I would and would not follow.
First, go to the profile. Second, read that profile. If it said they were an author, but all the posts were of them posing, there was a good chance they weren’t doing much writing. I’m a nice person, and I hate to be rude. But when scantily clad people started showing up on my feed, I soon learned how to block, hide, and un-follow.

Still, don’t understand the follow and un-follow thing. By my math, I should be close to the same number of who I follow and who follows me. Interesting enough, there is always about a 500 difference, usually on my side. I’m thinking, why am I following more than is following me? I have decided it doesn’t matter because in all the profiles I have visited, it seems to be an everyday thing on Instagram. The only time you will get un-followed from me is if you use crude or hateful speech or choose not to wear clothes.

The other thing puzzling to me is the push for huge followings. I understand to a site like Bookbub or a publisher; it seems you have a lot of fans. But really? How can I possibly know 10,000 followers? I can’t even begin to get to know the 1,700 followers I have now. I was raised to be polite to my acquaintances, family, and friends, but giving attention to 1,700 followers is going to be a challenge. Even if I could connect with 100 a day, it would take three weeks before I would be starting all over again and spending 3 hours a day “hearting” posts.

I have learned that while perusing a new invitation to follow if I go down through their posts and read through a few, “heart” a few, and comment on a few; they will now cycle through my feed. Because I want to be a support to that new follower, this is what I do. When they pop up in the feed and are fully clothed, I find I usually want to “heart” it.
I did try a few ads but found it to be a waste of time and money. That is where I probably picked of that odd 500 missing in action followers. They were all people who figured out, like me, to not “heart” sponsored ads.

Instagram is based on pictures, and I have found that my best images involve (can you believe this?) cute dogs, cats, flowers, and landscape. The loops I follow do a lot better if I use my pictures from the vast store I have, with a caption.

I still do not profess to be an expert with Instagram, but I have found it to be a more friendly place to visit than Facebook. Reminds me of the good old days on Facebook when you posted pictures of dogs and cats, and everyone enjoyed seeing pics of the family, but there was not the word spats that now create a hostile environment there.
So, a shout out to all 1,700 of my followers. I hope to “heart” more of you in the future. Meanwhile, I need to get back to my Instagram feed. I got a great pic of my dog I need to post. 😊

Amazon, book industry, books, indie author, indie books, indie writer, journaling, self publishing, stories, viking, vikings, Vikings, writing

Promoting Yourself

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So, imagine you are in a bustling city, and you are asked to walk down the street naked. Just cringed, didn’t you?

That’s what I feel like every time I finish a book and start advertising it. In this age of information saturation, to sell a book, I have been instructed to make a brand, not of my storytelling, but of myself.

I enjoy taking everyday happenings and like clay, forming it into a story. My imagination knows no bounds. There isn’t just one genre that calls to me, but many. In my head are about ten stories all the time, and writer’s block is only prevalent when I work to make that story into a readable manuscript.

But the curiosity a reader may have about me, well that makes me want to hide behind a pen name, and a made-up story about my life. I don’t understand why I like to create with the written word. It’s just images and moments are stored, then my brain gets full, and I move some of the stuff out onto paper. While doing this I have a little fun rearranging it into even better moments. I feel a little self-conscious when I share it. Like, who in their right mind thinks up things like this? But then, there is this strange happiness that fills me when someone actually enjoys my creations of imagination. It’s the same feeling I get when someone likes the slop I call cooking!

Some of the things people want to know confuse me. I’m boring. I don’t live anywhere glamorous. I scrape by like everyone else. My habits, good or bad, are average. My inspirations are relatively low key

When I find a story that captivates me (for I like to consume stories as much as I love to create them) I must admit I only want to know if the author has written other stories I can scarf down. Call me narrow-minded or self-centered, but I have never had a desire to know anything further. As a private person, their lives are their own. It is, after all, just a story.

I suppose there is a curiosity about how a story comes about. What made someone think of vampires, murder motives, science fiction, etc? But the answer is right there. Curiosity. A thing we all have in common as a species. Maybe we love stories because we can escape from our own humdrum existence of paying bills, going to work, and trying to survive. For a moment we can step into fantasy and leave behind the real world filled with its problems.

For the author, it could be the same thing. I create a world that I have control in, and I dictate the outcome. Having a whole lot of pride and control issues might help with the creation of imaginary people, worlds and events. Or maybe I just wish I could control the chaos around me, so I create my own little happy world. Who knows, I don’t always understand my own compunctions.

But does knowing where I live, what I wear, what I do or what I had for breakfast really matter? As some wise person once said, “it’s about the story, silly.”

I have been told it is healthy to voice frustrations in journals or diaries and from what I have read in memoirs and blogs, it has been going on for a long time. I guess blogging is another form of that. And for me personally, writing a story does help me to learn to work things out, and sometimes gives me insight into a problem I have at hand.

Every writer has reasons for the story they develop. It is a personal journey that some are more willing to share than others. I can only hope that if you are a writer and reading this, you realize that you are normal. If you are a reader who has no desire to write, but happily consumes stories, I hope I have given insight into why I’m a writer, but not a very good promoter.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my quirky little foray into self-pity for not having any privacy. But then again, why would I whine about that? I should be used to it. After raising five kids, enjoying seventeen grandkids, plastering myself all over the internet, and writing about bloodthirsty Vikings, you’d think I wouldn’t mind walking naked down any street!

And feel free to comment. Wouldn’t mind hearing about you, the reader. 🙂

 

 

 

Amazon, book industry, books, indie author, indie books, indie writer, self publishing, stories, writing

Pulse of the Book Industry

For several years I have followed Kristen Lamb’s blog. I have found her commentaries filled with witty, humorous self-help tips and noted she has definitely a finger on the pulse of the book industry. The link below will take you to her blog post that gives a bird’s eye view of the ever-changing landscape of Indie Publishing and gives hope for the future of the business. I encourage you to read it today!

https://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/01/book-business/

 

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Indie Authors Network – Author Interview

Why write Fantasy? How about Science Fiction? Autor Michael Taylor shares his reasons.

http://www.indieauthornetwork.com/4/post/2014/03/author-interview-michael-taylor.html