Category Archives: The Self-Publishing Self-Help Guide

The Self-Published Author as Agent Provocateur

Tags:stockings garter lingerie

Tags:stockings garter lingerie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a shameful secret to confess…Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am a self-published author (gasp!).

There, I said it. But, even so, I absolutely flatly refuse to accept that I am now therefore also guilty of that which we writer’s consider the most cardinal of sins: (dare I speak it’s heinous name?) Vanity Publishing.

No, you see, I prefer the term Guerilla Publishing™, to describe this desperate course of action I have chosen to take. The crumbling tyranny that is the book publishing establishment needs overthrowing, and my novel might just be the one to finally tip the balance.

So, if you like, you might like to think of my novel as being a kind of “dirty bomb” in the revolution to free the written word from corporate interests. I know I do.

Which brings me to the point of today’s blog, namely: the self-published author in the role of agent provocateur.

What exactly is an agent provocateur, I hear you ask? Well, here, I’ll let Wikipedia enlighten you:

“Traditionally, an agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for “inciting agent(s)”) is an agent employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act.”

And so, what exactly is the “so-called” illegal act that I’m proposing the self-published author should be enticing or provoking others to commit?

Answer: Why, the buying of one’s savagely brilliant subversive novels, Stupid! Thereby cutting out the Fat Cat middle men of the traditional publishing world.

(Sorry, I didn’t mean to get personal just then, by calling you stupid. Forgive me, it’s just that I’m all hyped up with this revolutionary zeal!)

Anyway, I hear you next questioning my use of the term subversive. By which I simply mean that your novel now exists outside of the system, solely by way of its being self-published, that is.

So how is this done? How does the self-published author achieve sales?

Well, first off, it must be said that it only stands to reason that by the very act of choosing to self-publish the onus thereby also falls entirely on any such author to self-promote their work as well. Yes?

Ok. Well, as an agent provocateur one must learn how to “provoke” the reading public.

So be provocative. And you know what? I personally can’t think of anything more provocative than women’s lingerie. Trust me, sex sells! (see below, but only after stopping by Barnes and Noble, of course, where you can buy a very reasonably priced eBook copy of my novel, Missing Zero)

Agent Provocateur in Broadwick Street, Soho, L...

Agent Provocateur in Broadwick Street, Soho, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Hello, Rejection, My Old Friend!

English: post card with message about acting d...

English: post card with message about acting differently to avoid rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ah, sweet soul-crushing rejection! What would a writer be without it? No doubt much happier, I’m sure. But also much less of any kind of a writer worthy of the name, I should expect.

Because, really, without the constant threat of rejection, writers would grow lazy. Or even lazier, if you like. As you know, we’re a feckless bunch of layabouts us writerly-types, aren’t we? We want all the applause and plaudits with none of the hard graft or headaches.

All of which, I believe, marks out rejection as a necessary evil in the life of any serious word-smith. Simply put, it’s only through the constant threat of rejection that we force ourselves to improve and grow.

Recently, for instance, as a case in point, I have decided to try my hand at professional blog writing. (FYI The on-line concern I’ve signed up with are called GhostBloggers). There’s no real money to be made, I’m quite certain. But as a way of honing my writing skills, well, I thought it was worth a try.

Anyhow, of course “surprise, surprise!” — true to form — my first article/blog was immediately rejected. For your amusement I’m inserting the main body of the rejection email here:

“Thank you for submitting your article to Ghostbloggers.net. After careful consideration your submission has unfortunately not been selected for purchase. We are limiting the amount of articles written in first-person POV. ‘I’ is personal and informal, and is still not appropriate in a lot of business and marketing writing. We encourage you to change your article and submit it again.”

My favourite bit, though, came by way of a sort of coda at the end, which read thus:

“You have a unique voice as a writer, and I look forward to reading future submissions.”

Why thank you, a thank you very much! I say, ever-so sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. Yeah, right!

To which I next say, “Hello, Rejection My Old Friend, I welcome you back once again.

Because really what’s the point of making enemies with that constant companion (and infallible advisor) all of us writers are forever stuck with? Believe me, REJECTION RULES! Can you dig it?


Attack of the Bloggers – Achieving Book Sales Through Social Media

Looking Back ~ 1958 ~ Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman

Looking Back ~ 1958 ~ Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)

One Writer’s Perspective of the On-line Marketing Game

I don’t know about you, but social media is a whole new world I’ve yet to fully explore. Don’t think, though, that I haven’t already started tweeting and blogging and posting etc, because I have.

You see, as a struggling writer I’ve been led to believe the Internet can provide me with a way of connecting directly with the reading public. So I’ve started a Twitter and FaceBook account and signed onto Pinterest, StumbleUpon and WordPress, as well, to name but a few. In fact, I’ve got so many accounts now I can’t remember all the passwords and usernames I’ve had to come up with.

Ultimately, I suppose my point is that I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing. Once I log into the various sites I’ve signed up for, I’m immediately struck by the fact everybody else is doing the same thing. Everybody has got something they’re trying to get out there. They’re all musicians, artists and writers like myself, or worse pyramid sellers flogging their e-wares! Each site is like a virtual market place where everybody is vying to be noticed so as to promote their cause, idea or product.

At its most basic social media seems to be a numbers game. Or so I have gathered. It’s not enough to have a fantastic book, independent clothing brand or jewellery range. You have to attract followers. And you have to attract them across a range of social media platforms. Or do you? The thing is, while I have 850+ supposed FaceBook fans of my novel and 600+ Twitter followers and such, as well as a presence on YouTube and WordPress and Pinterest and the rest, I’ve only managed to sell one eBook of my novel so far. This after three months of engaging in a bloody and relentlessly ruthless viral-marketing blitzkrieg!

Don’t get me wrong! I’ve also had a bloody brilliant time doing it. Along the way, I’ve connected with every kind of person imaginable from across the planet…

But I can’t turn these connections into a profitable business. Not yet, anyway. And I don’t want you to think it’s because of a lack of engagement by my various followers/fans that’s the problem. Quite truthfully, I can report that an alarming number of them have gone so far as asking if they can join the religion that I am obviously starting. No, instilling blind devotion hasn’t been a problem. Well, other than ethically-speaking, that is.

The problem must therefore be the product itself (the novel I’m trying to sell), I hear you say. Quite possibly. Although I would prefer to think the issue is the fault of the medium I’m trying to sell it through – the various social media sites I mentioned earlier. Whatever, my novel and these sites are not a happy match.

It seems the sad fact is nobody reads books any more, I’m convinced of it. Twitter, for instance, only allows its users 450 characters at a time to get their ideas across. And I think this is a reflection of the concentration span of most people today. We’ve all got so many things competing for our attention every day that any block of words over 450 characters seems to us like an epic on the scale of War and Peace. Meaning that I can sell people on the idea of my novel (over and over again); but I can’t make anybody buy it, because they know they will never find the time to read it.

The end of Western civilisation as we know it? Not likely.The end of the novel? Who cares? Nobody but us unsigned writer-folk living in the cyber-fringes desperate for a sale. And you know what? Maybe it’s time we all learnt to lol at ourselves a whole lot more anyway, before then simply sitting back and enjoying the ride! 😉 The future is now, right?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Join me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/missingzero666


Missing Zero – A Case of Username Envy

Envy

Envy (Photo credit: iThinkergoiMac)

The face of writing has changed forever. Due to the Internet, that is. It’s obvious, sure. But it can’t be denied that everything we do today as writers is now influenced by the vagaries of the great almighty World Wide Web. For better and worse.

Take this blog I’m writing. I don’t even know what a blog is. But I know as a self-published author I have to write one. I’ve also created a FaceBook page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr and Pinterest site and produced a YouTube video to help me promote the novel I wrote, called Missing Zero (see more links below).

Without the Internet there would be no Smashwords, granted. Or eBooks, more generally. Meaning my treasured manuscript would no doubt have been left in a bottom drawer somewhere to serve as cockroach bedding. Instead copies of my magnum opus are available for download at Smashwords, Diesel, and Barnes and Nobel for the modest price of $6.66. This being just one of the many obvious boons of the Internet for an unsigned author.

Personally, I have also somehow relished the challenge Twitter, for instance, presents of using only 140 characters at a time to convey one’s ideas. Distilling Missing Zero’s 116,000 words and central conceit to just 140 characters or less proved strangely liberating – namely “the role of Antichrist is defunct in a world so gone to hell”. Hilarious premise for a darkly-comic satirical novel, huh?

More incredible to me (a child of last century), though, is the fact I’m writing this on an iPhone, while lying on my back on the couch. Technological advances continue to make writing easier…Again, for better and worse.

Which brings me to the main point of today’s blog: username envy. Because don”t you agree with me there ought to exist a single amusing and universally-accepted word to describe it? That pissed-off feeling you get when you go to open a new Internet account only to find someone already owns your username. Damn! It happened to me just today, here at WordPress. The URL missingzero@wordpress.com was already taken! Believe me, it sucks. But what can I do? Change the title of my novel? Not f#%*ing likely!

No, the genre-bending comic masterpiece I wrote shall keep its title of Missing Zero for evermore. Unfortunately, its companion blog shall be hosted at zeromissing@wordpress.com for evermore, also. Oh well, it could be worse I could share Justin Bieber‘s sex life. Hmm…

As an experiment I just posted the following request for help on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/missingzero666 – Anyone know the Internet slang word for “username envy”? “Ah, fuck, it’s already taken!” seems a bit cumbersome. Any ideas, twitterfolk?

Within about 30 seconds someone favorited (if that’s even a word) my post. But no-one offered up the kind of zippy slang term I was after. The more observant amongst you will notice, by the way, that even my twitter account is @missingzero666 (@missingzero having already been taken). The 666 tag on the end was forced upon me, essentially. Although the story of the novel does centre around a character named Lorem Ipsum, who starts to believe he just might be the (now defunct) Beast of the Apocalypse or Antichrist, I’m not an advocate of Satanism per se.

Anyway, so, in my wider search for answers, I happened earlier upon a random username generator (http://www.jimpix.co.uk/words/username-generator.asp), where I got given malmseynosedzero as a suggested username. Who nose/knows maybe I’ll use it someday? Whatever. Either way, this conveniently leads me to my next point. Cue segue music now, please!

What I am trying to say is this: many of the characters in my novel got their names from online usernames I have used over the years. Names like Lorem Ipsum, Sdeerwf Eggeth and Missing Zero itself! I must admit I have a personal affection for Sdeerwf Eggeth, having been asked once in an Internet forum about this most unusual of names. My reply was that I believed it to be of Norwegian origin, before leaving it at that.

Yes, the face of writing has changed forever. If you don’t believe me, simply take a look at how many writers are now using social media and online hosting sites to promote their e-wares. Me included! Follow the links to see the kind of web presence I’ve started to build up around Missing Zero in just over 12 weeks. It’s a numbers game. With a world population of 7.071 billion, you only need a fraction of a percent of people to pick up on your talent and you’re away. Sure as hell beats watching your unpublished prize manuscript slowly decompose into compost in the bottom drawer of your desk. So get tweeting/posting/blogging today, right this instant. Who knows, it might be your novel that’s the next “now trending” success story…if trending is even a word, that is.

Missing Zero eBook downloads:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/missing-zero-lorem-ipsum/1114301801?ean=2940045109604

http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000256919/Ipsum-Lorem-Missing-Zero/1.html

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/256919

Missing Zero social media sites:

https://twitter.com/missingzero666

https://www.facebook.com/zeromissing?ref=hl

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/missingzero

YouTube