Category Archives: Social Media

Freshly Pressed — The Top 5 Facts and Fallacies About What It’s Like to Be (WordPress) Famous For a Day

Now, as the dust begins to settle, once again, within the greater Missing Zero Blog landscape, I thought it might be timely to share my impressions of the Freshly Pressed phenomenon, while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

I know, for instance, when I first started blogging, I looked at those select-few bloggers featured on the Freshly Pressed page as virtual Gods of the Blogosphere, as fabled attainers of the unattainable and as some of the luckiest S.O.Bs to ever submit a blog post, bar none.

But now I know differently. The fact is I was thinking fallaciously, all along. And hence why, in this post, I will now seek to clear up, once and for all, the many facts and fallacies surrounding this whole Freshly Pressed caper.

So, let us begin:

Fallacy No.1 — The Freshly Pressed Are Not As Others

I, sadly, do not consider myself a virtual (or otherwise) God of the Blogosphere, even now having since joined the ranks of the hallowed and select few that make up the Freshly Pressed. Moreover, my status within the human race, more generally, remains as one who is fallible as opposed to one worthy of fable. Household chores, like cleaning toilets and putting out the trash, still call me their b!tch, while even close family members maintain their strict refusal to genuflect in my august presence. Go figure?

Fact No. 1 — No News is Good News (ie You Don’t Want To Read The Email Telling You You’re About To Be “Freshly Pressed” 48-hours Prior To It Occurring)

This is the sort of email you want to find after the event, trust me. I was, like, “cool, I’m about to be Freshly Pressed. I better just check all my links are working and that my blog-roll is up-to-date etc. And then, like, for the next 48-hours or so, I kept logging in, every 15 minutes, to see if the Freshly Pressed miracle had actually happened yet. Think back to what it was like to be a child, when you stayed up all night trying to catch Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Eve. Well, it was nothing like that. Because I didn’t sleep, at all, for two nights! Aargh!

Fallacy No. 2 — If You Slavishly Copy The Latest Batch Of Freshly Pressed Blogs, You’ll Also Get The Nod

Believe me, I’d completely given up on the idea of ever getting Freshly Pressed. Instead, my primary focus, even now, is to achieve one post per day, for the whole year. I mean, if nothing else, your chances of getting noticed multiply significantly, when you write daily posts anyway.

However, beyond that, as a writer looking to improve his or her chops, no better workout exists than committing yourself to submitting a new blog post every single day. So forget about the imagined competition and embrace the sense of community. And remember, above all else, “to thine own self be true”.

Fact No. 2 — Everyone Is Entitled To Their 15 Minutes of Fame, So Why Not The Freshly Pressed Also?

You know, along with admiring glances, I must confess I tended to harbor feelings of extreme resentment towards those newly initiated into the Freshly Pressed inner-circle. I couldn’t help thinking they knew something I didn’t, so as to get recognized the way they had. Maybe they were part of some secret handshake club I didn’t qualify for. Or worse, maybe they were all supremely talented, and I was merely a self-published hack. Well, in news just in, I’m still merely a self-published hack, but I’ve somehow also made the cut for Freshly Pressed. And, if I can, anybody can.

BTW If there is a secret handshake, it’s so secret even the Freshly Pressed themselves aren’t allowed to know of its existence, evidently.

Fallacy No.3 — Getting Freshly Pressed Is Like Winning the Lottery

People say this all the time. And, by saying it, they mean, of course, that the chances of being picked for the WordPress front page are pretty much stacked against it ever happening. But, let me tell you, my bank balance is still missing more than a couple of zeroes, after being given the Freshly Pressed nod. So I know I definitely haven’t won the lottery in the conventional sense of the term.

Hell, believe me, I haven’t won anything in a financial sense ever! Not even $100. Yet, more importantly, in this context, up till now, I also haven’t ever had a single piece of writing feature in a journal or magazine etc, either. That is, even though, I’ve penned a novel and countless songs and poems and consider myself to be a writer, above all else. So, maybe, the idea of my having just won the lottery isn’t a complete fallacy, in this regard, on second thoughts, after all…

Fact No.3 — The Fame of Being Freshly Pressed Is Fleeting

As of last count, my featured poem has received roughly 100 “likes”. And over a quarter of those people who liked the poem also left comments. Sure, that might not seem like such a resounding achievement, in light of the 67,000,000 WordPress blogs that exist around the world (source for number of blogs http://en.wordpress.com/stats/).

But, trust me, it usually counts as a red letter day, any time a post of mine gets more than 10 likes. So, at the very least, my Freshly Pressed result represents a ten-fold increase in my blog’s normal popularity.

Of course, there are, no doubt, many power bloggers out there amongst you, who are regularly getting over 50 or 60 likes for everything you post. Not me, alas. In fact, each of the four poems I have posted since being Freshly Pressed have received significantly less than 10 likes a-piece.

Quite a crushing return back down to Earth! And if there has been any flow-on effect from my elevated Freshly Pressed status, it’s already slowed to a trickle. Hey, still, I’m not complaining! I’ve only been blogging for just under three-and-a-half months, so far. Plus, I did gain 60 (approx) additional followers, as well, over the past 48 hours, into the bargain!

Fallacy No.4 — Nobody Knows Just How Exactly the Freshly Pressed Are Selected

In all seriousness, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved through the power of money. A few Ben Franklins slipped to the right person, at the right time, and your Freshly Pressed eligibility suddenly becomes a whole lot less random. Know what I mean? 😉

If the idea of parting with actual cash to promote your cause causes you actual distress, as it were, then following the tips/guidelines provided by WordPress themselves regarding getting noticed are worth perusing (see here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/freshly-pressed/)

Moreover, as part of being Freshly Pressed, I was also made aware of the official WordPress Daily Post page. From what I can tell, this is a great place to become familiar with just who the editors of WordPress are, and therefore who exactly it is you need to catch the attention or eye of (Hint, hint! And, no, I’m not going to reveal any names, not unless we’re going to start talking, again, together, about my good friend Ben Franklin, if you catch my drift).
(See here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/)

Fact No.4 — We’ve All Probably Written Better Posts Than The One I Had Freshly Pressed

Don’t believe me? Well, go and check out my humble ode to anticipatory nostalgia and all things photographic and see for yourself. Please, do!
(see here: https://zeromissing.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/picturing-the-past-perfect-perfectly/

However, in defence of the WordPress editors, let me just add that I acknowledge, entirely, that my poem has a large scope for universal appeal, due to its varied subject matter and plain-spoken immediacy. It’s simply that typically my own preferred style and subject matter owes much more to the Beat poets and Bukowski, than it does to the mainstream.

And, therefore, my own personal choice of poem from amongst the various pieces of assorted poetry I’ve written over the years would vary greatly from the one I’ve just had Freshly Pressed. But then, I’m the first to admit to being a terrible judge of my own work. Let’s face it, I’ll take the compliment of being taken seriously as a writer, from everyone or anyone willing to give it, baby!

At the end of the day, it’s all about horses for courses, I guess. And, you know what, this poem just happened to win on the day, praise be! 🙂

Fallacy No.5 — The Sweet Taste of Freshly Pressed Success Cures All Known Ills

On the day I received word of my being Freshly Pressed, my cat of twenty years lay on a drip at the vet, with acute kidney failure. The prognosis is that she probably has about a week to live, although there is some talk about an experimental surgery option.

I also read of another blogger who realized his marriage was over the day he heard his Freshly Pressed news. And another again spoke about his being so swamped at work that he missed the whole thing and thereafter abandoned his blog, altogether, in self-disgust.

I suppose, my point is that life continues to throw us curveballs, even when we feel we’ve achieved something to finally crow about. Because, in the end, no one is immune to the suffering and ills inherent to the human condition, I regret to inform you, not even the Freshly Pressed.

That said, the taste of Freshly Pressed Success does linger on the lips very sweetly, without adding even so much as an inch to the hips.

Fact No.5 — The Joys of Being Freshly Pressed Notwithstanding, The Joy Of Blogging Is The Sense Of Community

Simply put, you couldn’t sustain the effort needed to keep a blog afloat, if the only reason you did it was to become Freshly Pressed. Instead, it is rather the sense of community that makes all the difference to your daily/weekly/monthly blogging experience. For, without the encouragement and support of other bloggers reading your words and offering up their opinions etc, the whole enterprise would quickly lose much of its appeal.

And so, in the spirit of continuing to widen my ties to the greater WordPress community, (*shameless plug alert*) I encourage you to come and stop by my Missing Zero site, any chance you get. Where, I can assure you, you are all most welcome!

Here endeth the lesson…


FYI What I’m Currently Reading

In light of my having just joined Goodreads, I thought I would write a quick post about what I’m currently reading, namely: The Elixir and the Stone by the co-authors of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail; and Faust, Part 1 by Goethe.

The first book is a fairly matter-of-fact history of Hermetic-thought and Hermeticism from the time of the Ptolemaic rulers of Alexandria through to the present day.

Whereas, the second title represents an erstwhile gap in my wider reading and appreciation of “classic”, capital “L” literature. Moreover, Faust is the archetypal magus figure within Western literature, more generally, and so on that basis alone I am intrigued to keep on reading further from where I’ve already got up to.

If you, personally, have read either of these books, post a comment with your thoughts. Otherwise, why not come over and friend me at Goodreads, where (as per usual) I’m a total newbie. Here’s my page link: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21152606-lorem-ipsum

Awesome!


A How-To Guide to Breaking the Code of Viral Book Promotion

Earlier today, I ventured a little bit further into the shady world of viral marketing than I’m usually accustomed to dealing with. I suppose, it was partly due to my having an idle sense of curiosity, but also it was borne of my interest in boosting sales of my self-published novel, Missing Zero, more generally.

So, anyway, as authors, we’re all called on to build platform. Or a following or a fan-base or whatever it is you want to call it. Which is why we now all have blogs and set up social media sites and frequent writers’ conferences etc. Basically, whether self-published or otherwise, the modern-day author is expected to become a brand, just like any other corporate entity, fighting over an ever-diminishing marketshare of readers.

Whatever. Ok, now, apparently, in the dirty-tricks world of viral-marketing there’s what is called “white hat” vs “black hat” marketing techniques. These terms are used to describe the different approaches, say, to such things as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO being ultimately where you or your book ranks in other people’s google searches against you or your book’s name/title. Essentially, you want to be the first thing that pops up every time someone even just mentions the word google.

Like with most things, though, the way to achieve higher SEO rankings, for instance, can be realized through fair means or foul, and hence the terms “white hat” or “black hat”.

The same goes for most other aspects of book promotion. From blackmail through to shameless begging, you can bet every single author worthy of their moniker has donned a black hat in pursuit of increased exposure/sales, at least once (this week, if not this very day).

Hmm. Well, my “black ops” mission today revolved around a hundred or so QR (Quick Response) code stickers I printed out that were embedded with the URL address of where my novel is hosted at Amazon. NB If you’re not familiar with what a QR code looks like, I’ve attached below the one I’m using to promote the Missing Zero eBook hosted at Amazon.

The idea is that by scanning these codes with their smart phones, complete strangers are redirected to whatever web page you have specified on the QR code in question. In the main, corporations typically use these codes for promos and freebies, when they’re launching a new product.

You’ve probably seen QR codes on movie posters and information kiosks and the like. But increasingly DIY enthusiasts, like myself, are printing off their own “urban-guerrilla” versions of said codes.

In any event, by randomly sticking your own QR codes around interstate bus terminals or university campus cafeterias or sundry public thoroughfares, as I did today, you can virally promote virtually anything you choose. I felt like a veritable Johnny Appleseed, in fact, as I sprinkled the QR-coded seeds of my novel’s Amazon URL across the urban wasteland.

Of course, the beauty of a person being directed to the eBook version of your novel on their smartphone means they can then instantly also buy and begin reading said work of impure genius (namely, Missing Zero, in my case), in less than five minutes.

What’s equally amazing, though, is that you can actually scan the QR code at the bottom of this post right off the screen. That is, if you have a QR scan-reader app already installed on your phone. But don’t worry if you don’t, you can download plenty of free ones from the App Store (I’m talking to iPhone users, at this point).

But how cool is this? I have a 15-year-old fan of my Missing Zero Facebook page, who lives halfway across the world, in the UK. Anyhow, as a type of beta test, I asked him if he could scan the Missing Zero QR code I’d just uploaded to my Facebook timeline. And, you know what, within thirty seconds he’d sent me back a screen shot of the Amazon page the QR code directs to. The world suddenly seemed a whole lot smaller…

All right, so you want to see how this all works in action? Well, this is what you need to do: download a QR code-reader app to your smart phone (if you don’t already have one); then point your smartphone/QR scanner at the QR code attached below; then be astonished as you next find yourself at Amazon, looking at the Missing Zero eBook purchase/download prompt; and, then, finally, purchase the blessed masterpiece of outsider art, as you see fit! 😉

Go on, I dare you to give it a go…

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Notes on Living in a Picture Perfect World

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My confession: I’ve sort of spent the last two days being wooed by a rival social media site, namely Instagram. From what I gather, it’s like Twitter but for the illiterate.

Okay, that’s a bit cruel. What I should say, instead, is that people on Instagram use pictures to communicate rather than words. My heartfelt apologies to the illiterate, by the way, also. (Oops, consider the irony if you will that I just spelt illiterate incorrectly, twice! Thank goodness, for autocorrect.)

Whatever, there are those among us who are describing our age as the Age of the Image. And, I suppose, I have been experiencing for myself what it is like to swim in a virtual sea of images, without so much as the hint of a narrative thread to cling on to.

In fact, I risked veritably drowning in pixels to conduct my unsponsored research into the allure of Instagram. And, no, I didn’t type anything rude into my search terms, either. In case you were wondering about my moral propriety.

So, what did I discover? Well, if we are indeed in the Age of the Image, we’re all doomed to a permanent state of pre-verbal idiocy. For the work of the Wordsworths and Coleridges of the digital form are being lost in the maelstrom of ill-conceived and poorly executed self-portraits teenage girls, for one, feel compelled to upload each time they apply fresh makeup in the mirror, apparently.

There’s a bunch of other stuff clogging up the airwaves, too, obviously, like photographic cholesterol. Pictures of people’s tattoos, pets, pectoral muscles, phony gangster poses and, argh, just stuff. Societal detritus.

All right, so I’m starting to worry this is making me sound like an elitist cybersnob. Who’s to say a photo of someone’s belly button piercing isn’t on par with Beethoven’s 5th, 6th or 9th, for that matter?

It’s probably simply the generation gap/chasm widening again the way it does, I know. But when are we going to start seeing the Stravinskys of snapshots or the Ibsens of Instagram, I wonder?


On Being Out of Sync With Synchronicity — The Perils of Hitchhiking on the Electronic Superhighway

So, here’s the thing, I’ve recently managed to establish contact with the intellectual grandsire of my novel, Missing Zero. I call this man my book’s grandsire, because it was his works on Jungian alchemy, in particular, that so deeply influenced me when I first started out to become a writer of surrealist fiction.

Anyway, I have been corresponding, over the past few months, with this man about his possibly writing a preface to my book. And, gods be praised, amazingly enough, he recently agreed to actually read my manuscript, in view of providing said preface. Hallelujah!

As an aside, let me add that I’m hoping, by adding a preface to my book, uninitiated readers will not confuse its contents as being some form of satanic scripture, but rather see it for what it is, namely, a satirical take on the moral catastrophe we call modern life. Trust me, it’s meant to be funny, as well as being subversive, and I ought to know because I wrote the bloody thing! Really, you wouldn’t believe the names I’ve already been called, in the course of promoting Missing Zero to the reading public. But enough!

Whatever. The actual problem right now is that I have since found it practically impossible to forward a copy of the manuscript to this man, Missing Zero’s intellectual grandsire.

It’s quite weird, in fact. I must have tried half-a-dozen different email addresses for him, so far. But, each time, without fail, my message bounces back, along with the attachment containing my electronic manuscript.

Now, each time, this man has encouraged me to try again, with a different email address. So I’m fairly confident I’m not being given the cold shoulder here. Yet, even so, there’s something pretty wacky going on.

Which got me to thinking about not so much what Jesus would do, but what Jung would do if he were faced with a similar situation.
After all, the novel’s grandsire is a Jungian analyst and leading exponent of Jungian alchemical practice. What’s more, I also identify myself as a Jungian alchemist, having responded to being such when asked my religion in the latest census.

Well, anyhow, it seems to me the magic word for Jung (and all us Jungians, alike) was/is synchronicity. The idea of meaningful coincidences. And I’m beginning to suspect there is something meaningful about how my efforts to pass on my novel are being blocked.

It was all too easy. I first contacted this man, of whom I speak, for instance, through Facebook’s messenger application. And before you know it, I was next attempting to send off my 120,000 word manuscript to him via email, all in the twinkling of an eye.

Not too shabby for a morning’s work, eh? But to what end? So he could next skim over the first five or ten pages and decide he didn’t actually like it? Or worse yet, have him not even read it, but instead write a preface anyway based on the synopsis I had also forwarded on?

And this is the danger of the electronic age, I would argue. Everything happens so damn fast. Because of which, we constantly run the risk of being out of synch with things. We settle for the shallow and superficial, when we should seek the deeply significant.

I desperately want to see my novel published, preferably with the said preface in place (pardon the alliteration); however, it took me nearly eight years to write the thing, and so why should I be in such a screaming hurry now to give it to the world?

Maybe the world’s not ready for it yet. A satirical tale about the defunct Antichrist’s personal search for a moral compass, in a world long-gone to hell…hmm, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, it makes me laugh, but then I’ve got an extremely wacky sense of humour.

How did my own sister describe it? Oh, yes, unpalatable. At which point, I laughed longer and harder than I have at probably any other point in the past eight years. My bad.

Hmm, what would Jung do, I wonder? Or Dali or Burroughs or Godard or Beckett or Cocteau or A Belgian Ballerina Named Frank…


The Self-Published Author as Shapeshifting Social Media Butterfly

I don’t know about you, but as a self-published author I have joined a whole damn plethora of social media sites, a great many of which I didn’t even know existed prior to this.

The name of my novel is Missing Zero. And so I’ve got the Missing Zero Facebook page, Twitter account and blog here at WordPress, too. In addition to these I’ve got other accounts, under the name of Lorem Ipsum at Pinterest and LinkedIn and a bunch of other sites like StumbleUpon and Tumblr, which I rarely use.

The reason I have these accounts ultimately is because I’m trying to make a direct connection with people. A direct connection with the greater reading public, in the first instance, possibly, but also a direct connection with people of all stations. And this is why I am currently exploring here with you the concept of the self-published author as shape-shifting social media butterfly.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. This week I have been in contact with two very different publishers, in regard to having Missing Zero published by either one of their respective publishing houses.

Now, the first of these two is a big name publishing house based in the UK. And I have so far managed to sort of get into the ear of one of this company’s head publishers. But the only way I have been able to do this was by contacting him through LinkedIn’s inmail service.

My point is that I actually joined LinkedIn for this sole purpose. As I knew of no other way of contacting this particular person, who I had earlier decided was the perfect match for publishing my novel. And this is where my idea of shapeshifting comes in.

You see, upon my joining LinkedIn, an old friend spotted my profile and sent me the following text, “OMG, you’re mainstreaming now!”

I suppose, I deserved his playful dig, because I’ve previously always stood apart from social networking practices, seeing them as an anathema to the creative life of an artist. But I’m now no longer just being a writer, you understand, I’ve shapeshifted into a she-wolf fighting for the life of one of her cubs.

Because that’s what my novel feels like to me. It feels like my offspring, and I will literally fight tooth and nail to see my progeny flourish and prosper, believe me. I will even enter the conservative, buttoned-down world of LinkedIn to promote my novel and thereby increase its chances of survival.

However, in a completely different guise again, I have also been in contact with another publisher this week, as I mentioned earlier. And I came across this particular outfit while hanging out at Twitter. Because that’s what I do at Twitter, I just hang out. Talking sh#t mostly, in 140 characters or less. My persona there is therefore not quite that of a street hustler, but certainly someone more streetwise, let’s say.

Well, anyway, I sent off a submission to this other publishing outfit. And quickly received a very favorable response. Although I’m yet to hear back about their policy regarding my novel’s currently self-published status. Gulp!

Whatever. I’m right now more interested in talking about who I’m being as I write this anyhow. Because at WordPress I believe I can just be me. There’s no need for any kind of shapeshifting on my part here. You guys get the closest thing to the real me.

And for the most part, you’ve all been totally accepting and extremely welcoming of the confusing ball of contradictions and inconsistencies that I happen to be. Really, what I’m saying is that it feels like home here for me. And I thank each and every one of you for that. Yay!

But remember, if you do happen to stumble upon me at StumbleUpon or try and pin me down at Pinterest I can be as elusive as a shapeshifting butterfly. Man, let’s simply say you really don’t want to know what I get up to at deviantART…

PS Just kidding, deviantART is one of the few sites I’m still yet to join. But give me time, and I’ll get on to it, sure enough.

PPS Just before I went to post this, I got an email from the publisher in England. Here’s what it said: “Your e[mail] made me laugh…Hope to read the script next week”

PPS Aargh! So what the hell do I do to stop going insane between now and next week? No, really I’m not joking! I’m FREAKING out here people. Anybody got any thoughts or Valium handy? Help!

Bike Butterfly

Bike Butterfly


The Blog that Broke the Camel’s Back

The other day I had an exchange with another blogger here on WordPress, during which he told me that there are some 600 million blogs in the world.

Later on, I read a recent survey that put the total number of blogs at WordPress alone at close to 74 million. FYI Tumblr hosts over 100 million blogs, as well.

It’s mind-boggling, really. Or should that be mind-blogging? Boggling and blogging are, after all, anagrams of each other, aren’t they?

Anyway, whether the initial figure of 600 million blogs is accurate or not, I did some rough calculations about how long it would take to visit every single blog in existence. As part of this equation I allowed 10 seconds per blog view and the number I got was 190 years.

In fact, to be honest, I actually got 19 years, but now I’ve re-done the sums I think the answer should have been 190 years. If it is actually the latter, then this would be proof enough it’s in no way humanly possible to see every other blog in the blogosphere.

Who cares? I hear you cry out in despair at my lack of a discernible point.

To which I reply, all right already! Be patient! For here is my point. Are you ready? OK. Let me ask you this, how is it out of the literally hundreds of millions of other blogs (that are just blogging around out there) you ended up here, reading this?

Think about it…Life’s short, and it would take you somewhere between 19 and 190 years (trust me, math is not my strongest suit) to visit every blog in existence. And yet here you are reading this.

Is it fate or kismet or synchronicity, perhaps? Pure chance, maybe? What is it that makes us visit and follow the blogs that we do? I’m sure, most of us would like to think we exercise the power of choice in such matters. But I’m not so sure.

My primary criteria in selecting blogs to follow is a perceived sense of like-mindedness. That and curiosity. By which I mean, if a blog diverts me from my habitual preoccupations, in some interesting or unexpected way, for long enough, I might also give it a go.

Whatever. What I’m really trying to get around to saying is that what we’re seeing with this whole blogging phenomenon is actually the next evolution in writing. For in many ways we are currently witnessing the end of the novel and other more traditional forms of the written word.

And so, ultimately, I believe, the next big shift in writing will be towards a more collective approach. And that’s exactly what I would argue is taking place right now within blog-writing communities more generally. People are aligning with each other and forming small collectives, whereby they can freely exchange comments and feedback, almost immediately after a piece of written work is posted.

In the past a new idea would find expression through the writing of a single individual, be it the societally critical insights of a Charles Dickens’ novel or even the evilly distorted vision of something like Mein Kampf, for that matter.

But is it possible that maybe humanity is now moving towards a point where new ideas will find their expression through the kind of “writing collectives” that blog-writing communities naturally engender?

So put another way, are we really choosing the blogs we follow? Or is there a larger purpose bringing us all together? Because, sure, while it might prove to be an extremely long and gradual process, it’s entirely possible there are certain yet to be formalized ideas actively seeking new modes of expression through our various collective on-line groupings. Just what those ideas might be is only limited by the extent of our imaginations.

It’s either that, I guess. Or that instead of 600 million blogs, there’ll soon be 6 billion and not a single one of them will be read by another individual because we’ll all be too busy blogging ourselves into oblivion.

Makes you think, though, doesn’t it? 600 million blogs…