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Marketing a Book #9 – Learning About Social Media



Learning About and Avoiding the Block Hole of Social Media

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. I could have written this post several weeks ago, but I wanted to collect my thoughts about my time working with a Social Media Consultant.

I bought twelve weeks of time and expertise in the area of social media sometime in late March. My goal was to learn what I could about using social media and how it might be useful to me. I was primarily interested in Social Media as a tool and secondarily in using it to market myself and my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment. Although I had Twitter and Facebook accounts, I did not grasp the utility of either. I needed some hand holding through these media avenues and an expanded awareness of what else was available to me in the way of social interconnections.

At the outset, let me say that the overall experience of working with my social media consultant was excellent and exceeded expectations. My “expertise” in using social media, if I can call it that, is now limited by experience and time.

I learned about Facebook and Fan Pages (www.facebook.com/lalanweiss). I learned to make better use of Twitter (@LarryWeiss3) and particularly http://www.hootsuite.com, which I love to use. Also, I attained another blog as part of my author site www.lalanweiss.com and have just repurposed my original website, www.lensofemptiness.com, to advertise my services as a public speaker and workshop provider.

I now have a more complete author platform to work from and have more to so. I had no allusion about the benefit my new and expanded understanding of social media might have on book sales. In fact,there is no way of predicting the effect of using social media to promote a book or a service on its own. The fee I paid for my consultation and support was an educational fee, and worth every dollar spent. Without that support, I would still be wondering in the wilderness that social media can be to the uninitiated.

Social media can also become a black hole, sucking up many hours each day until little is left for meaningful writing time. My hiatus in posting to this blog is a case in point. I had several strands running through this blog at the same time I acquired my second blog related to my author site. There is also my Twitter feed on topics of interest to me that are unrelated to my book, which I needed to maintain, and regular posts to my fan page. I have also joined a few interest groups through Facebook and needed to keep up with them. It was really hectic for a while until I remembered some same advice I received years ago; practice selective abandonment.

Selective abandonment does not mean abandoning things you want or need to do forever, only for the moment. An individual can only work efficiently on one thing at a time, particularly if the things to do relate to writing. Different blogs for different purposes and different audiences require different frames of mind for each. In addition, work on a new writing project at the same time adds insult to injury, so selective abandonment is the order of the day.

At the moment, I find social media more interesting than useful, and more time consuming than I would like. I’m looking for the middle way between the Yin and Yang of Entropy and Order and gradually finding it. As in all things, everyone needs to find their own way around the world, including the world of social media. I paid for a guide and he taught me the signposts and showed me the pathways. If any of my readers are wondering in the wilderness of social media, I highly recommend hiering a guide for a while to get you on your way.

Until the next post, your faithful blogger,

L. Alan Weiss (Larry)

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Marketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

steeplearning2lMarketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

I began working with my social media publicist about seven weeks ago. The first few weeks were dedicated to organizing the campaign to come. This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the official relationship between the publicist and me, and I find myself climbing an ever steepening learning curve week by week.


Holy Moly, this is really steep.

Each successive week’s session begins with a review of progress based on the previous session and then we move on to a new topic. The first session focused on blog and twitter strategies, The second week focused on Facebook and the third on differentiating the role of a personal Facebook page and a fan page. This week we will look at Hootsuite: mechanics and strategies, and how to incorporate Sway into a strategy. I have been working away at building up a LinkedIn presence at the same time.

The only way one can learn about social media is to work with it. In my case, I’m a generation or two out of step with how these various social media channels function. I’m learning a great deal and making some progress, but I often feel like I need to catch my breath. Even this post will become a Twitter and Facebook entry because that sort of thing is the essence of social media strategies. I’ve also signed up for something called classmates.com with the intent of connecting with people I knew in the past. So far, I have linked up with one individual and started a conversation.

Trying to stay on track

Trying to stay on track

Social media coaching is certainly beneficial, particularly for a novice. It is impossible to say how effective social media networking will be as a marketing tool, but I certainly believe I’m getting the word out about my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life. Longevity and Contentment through many channels. Some individuals may even become familiar with my Nom de Plume – L Alan Weiss, part of my regular blog post sign off. I’ll continue to blog on my book marketing experiences as they unfold, including any progress made in the area of social media.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author

Please vista me at www.lalanweiss.com or on my newly created Facebook fan page

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Marketing a Book #3 The Mysterious World of Publicity and Publicists

Writing a book was challenging. Bringing it to the point of being published was a matter of time and mechanics. Seeing the book as a finished product was more exciting than I thought it would be. The next part of this author’s journey was going to be a challenge. The established author with a following sets off on this part of the journey ‘with a song in his heart and a bounce in his step’. The début author has another experience altogether.

The unknown and untested author (that’s me) has a target audience in mind which he wants to reach and not much more than that in his kit bag. He takes his first steps on a path into the unknown world of ‘putting himself and his work out there’. He walks cautiously as if he is about to walk through a minefield while marching over a bed of hot coals at the same time. On either side of his path are thousands upon thousands of books on bookstore shelves and an endless array of eBooks all clamouring for the attention of a prospective purchaser. He is in dire need of some handholding and a soothing security blanket at that moment. ENTER THE PUBLICIST!

In my case, the publishing package purchased included some great materials, like posters and business cards, flyers and bookmarks. The materials I received were beautifully prepared and gave me a professional set of publicity material. Everything was printed clearly displaying the book’s title and some distinctive portion of the book’s cover in evidence along with the necessary information to purchase it. This was the beginning of branding a newly minted author, L Alan Weiss (me again), and his book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

My book looked great and those publicity materials had a very professional look and feel about them. However, it is up to me to make the best use of these materials as I can. I’ll get to my adventures as a self-publicist in a bit, but first let’s talk about some serious handholding and a comfy security blanket that came my way; not for free, of course. Nothing is ever free, but some things are definitely worth the expense.

Publicists come in two flavours; one works for you and comes at a cost, the other costs nothing but the author’s time and energy. I chose to purchase the services of a social media publicist to help me make the best use of that intricate and powerful domain of human interactions. Social media has such potential, but I lack the sophistication to make the most of it. I’m just guessing, but my social media publicist is probably 35 to 40 years younger than I, which is just perfect. He’s sure to be knowledgeable about the social media domain. He sounded enthusiastic and interested in helping me as best he can.

I purchased a twelve-week package of support, including an audit of the social media elements I already use and a social media campaign prepared during the first week of our association. Over the remaining eleven weeks of the campaign, he will monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and make appropriate adjustments as we progress. In the end, I will receive a final report on the campaign. I will report on the experience, to you my followers and readers, in the form of a post on this blog.

The real adventure in publicizing my work begins as I act as my own agent, my own ‘boots on the ground’ publicist; an impossible task without two crucial happenings. The first was so unexpected that I can only use the word “kismet” to explain it. About four months ago I was meeting with someone over coffee at a local café, when a person from my past recognizes me and stops to say hello. In the course of our brief conversation, he asked me what I’d been up to since retiring, so I told him I had been writing a book which was close to completion. “That’s interesting”, he said.

This man, who was the principal of a school where I had taught in the early 1990’s, now hosted a weekly half hour show on local cable television. He said, “Keep me updated and let me know when it is in print, I’ll interview you on my show.” And so it has come to pass that on Wednesday, March 25th the interview was recorded live to tape, for broadcast on April 2nd. What a great opportunity for me to get my agent/publicist’s feet wet. See what I mean by “Kismet”. I’ll write a review of my interview in the next post in this series.

The second happening was born out of the social media endeavour. The agency that provides the service had me complete an extensive questionnaire, including many items that forced me to discuss and describe my book in a number of ways. The effort put forth in completing the questionnaire yielded enough material for me to produce a good press release document. Hopefully, that document will generate a few more interview opportunities and some local speaking engagements.

My life as an author/agent/self-publicist will certainly provide material for more blog posts at the very least. I will continue to update my followers and new readers on my adventures.

Until the next post . . .

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

Are you working with a publicist? What is your experience?

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A Kickstarter Start

My book is finally in production and will be available for purchase as a print on demand paperback published in a standard 6 x 9 format, and as an eBook. The reality of marketing by book is imminent, so even if the work of writing is completed, new demands on my time are surely in the offing. There are all kinds of possible marketing tools available to the self published author; some cost money and some are relatively inexpensive or free.

TWITTER is a good way to get your message out there, but tweets are the trees in a vast forest of followers and the followed. I a’m still finding my way around the twitter-sphere, or if you wish, twitter-verse. There are all kinds of possibilities in this world of 140 character expression filled with idiosyncratic short hand and hash tags (#). TWITTER costs the tweeter nothing but time, concise thought, carefully crafted sentences and good manners.

Blogging is another inexpensive venue for communicating with others. If you are  reading this, then you know all about the value of blogging. My initial motivation to become involved in Word Press blogging was to hone my writing skills, but it can also be a great way to publicise a self published book. Once my book is in print (has become available to the public), I will certainly use short excepts as the focal point for some of my blogs.

You Tube and podcasting are two more methods of putting your ideas into the public domain. I haven’t used either of these modalities yet, but I am actively investigating best You Tube practices now, since I intend to use You Tube to publicise and market my book in the near future.

You Tube productions require some technical skills, simple video production software, a thoughtful message and time. There are no You Tube videos to my credit as yet, but my Kickstarter project site includes a first effort at video production. It took about eight hours to produce the two minutes video pitch which you can preview if you click on the link at the end of the post. Podcasting is down the road a piece for me, so there is nothing to say on that topic for now.

So far, none of the media tools discussed cost very much except time, creativity and careful editing. The expenses start to pile up when you enter into a publishing agreement with one or another of the companies that offer publishing services. That industry has been dubbed “the vanity press”, and for some would-be authors that may be true. I see their services differently. I see them as an opportunity.

Self publishing offers an unknown author the opportunity to publish a work of quality and value, but it also requires an investment. The investment is double barrelled; the first barrel is loaded with an  investment of lots of time and hard work, and the second barrel is loaded with a monetary charge. I have already blogged about the time and hard work involved.

The time/perspiration  investment amounted to thirty-three months of hard work for several hours each day and the support of the editors. The final verdict on the value of purchasing various and sundry services is months away, but I can say with confidence that the publishing package initially purchased has proven to be a good decision. Without the critique and support of the various editors that gave me feedback along the way, I never would have brought my book to the production stage in its current form.

The reality of the publishing world is that there are a lot of choices available for the book, or eBook, buying public. No book sells itself. A book needs to be promoted and that takes some money, and so I have been considering crowd-funding as a means to finance the promotion of my book. I have a plan, but it will take some money to carry it out, and crowd-funding is my best option to support that plan. There are a number of crowd-funding organizations to choose from, and for my project I selected Kickstarter.  I’ll leave my readers the task of investigating the various options available to them if they are so inclined.

I have placed a link to a preview of my Kickstarter project page at the end of this post. I plan to go live before the end of this week and would welcome input or comments from others. If you have a few moments, I would appreciate your feedback.

As always, your faithful blogger . . . L Alan Weiss – (Larry)

Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness –soon to be released


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