Tag Archives: motivational speaker

Are You Crazy or Just An Author?

So your book is published. Great! And now you’re trying to promote it. Welcome to Fight Club! But what works?

If you search the web, you’ll be inundated with info, promises, sworn testimonies…

I found one company that claims a book trailer is the key to success, never mind the fact that they produce videos for a living.

Others promise to tweet your book to thousands for a small fee.  I decided to try one since they have 44,000 followers. I even went in with a realistic expectation: sell 2 books and get some new followers on Facebook or Twitter. Fail. Waste. Moving on…

And then there are the gurus offering free videos. I watched several but found the info commonplace and felt like I was stuck at an Amway convention. Sure enough, at the end of the freebie, they get to the point of their spiel: sign up for their not-so-free courses for the REAL secrets to success. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe I’m a fool for not buying.  I guess I’m a cynical tightwad who’s not willing to toss in $500 +/_ to find out.

Frustrated, I asked two friends, D.Alan Lewis & Teal Haviland, what their experience has been marketing books. Their candor was refreshing and if nothing else, confirms I’m not going crazy. Not yet.

Have Paid Promotions Increased Sales?

“I have paid for 2 different ads on Facebook and saw zero sales for the books being promoted during the sales drive. I’ve paid for small ads on various websites and have seen little to no sales from the effort. So far, I’ve not found anything that really works well. I know some folks have had success with various social media platforms, but most authors that I talk with are still struggling with sales.  Social media is a great and mostly free way to advertise, but it doesn’t translate into big sales.  Still, everytime I push books on Facebook, I do see a few sales, so it does help.” Alan

“I have paid for advertising on Facebook. From what I can tell, I’ve had little success from it and feel it’s been a waste of my money. I do, however, have author friends who’ve paid for advertising on Facebook and they say, if done right, that it can be very effective. I haven’t tried the things they’ve suggested, yet, because I’m waiting to pay for further advertising when I have my entire series done and released.” Teal

Do You Use Social Media?

 “I do use social media, namely Facebook,Twitter, and a personal blog. Because of the tools available through these sites, I’m able to automatically send every post on Facebook to my Twitter account.  My Amazon Author Page is set to display all my Twitter messages, so everything on Facebook is sent all over the place. I have a blog on Google which is automatically shared on my website and on my Amazon Author page, so again, the word is shared through multiple venues. Since Facebook only allows 5% of your friends to see any kind of marketing post on your page, I found that having multiple pages helps to increase the number of folks seeing an ad.  In my case, I have a personal page, an author page, and 3 other pages that are dedicated to different books/series.” Alan
“I have used social media for marketing, mainly Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been taking a hiatus from any marketing right now.” Teal

What Has Helped Sales?

“So far, I’ve not found anything that really works well. I know some folks have had success with various social media platforms, but most authors that I talk with are still struggling with sales.  Social media is a great and mostly free way to advertise, but it doesn’t translate into big sales.  Still, everytime I push books on Facebook, I do see a few sales, so it does help.” Alan

“I think the key to the marketing conundrum so many authors find themselves in, is to realize that there are things that will work one time, that you’ll then do for the next book and it might not work at all. Even if you do everything the same. Our industry and what readers consider “hot” are constantly changing and we, as authors, have to be willing to go with the flow. We need to just write the stories we want to write and release them to the world, then do our best to let the readers out there know our book is there.” Teal

Any Sage Advice?

“Write. Rewrite. Edit. Release. Do your best to market, and let it go. Then, rinse and repeat. Your readers will find you, eventually. Make sure they have a lot to get their hands on when they do.” Teal


Love, Joy & Miracles; Day 8

On the 8th day of Christmas: the continuation of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)

The south corridor is darker than usual, which is no surprise to Wendell: Doors remain shut when someone dies. Some hide. Some mourn. Some—like kids trying to ward off the Boogie-man—hope that wood, varnish, and steel will delay their fate.

Only one door is open. Yellow light spills into the gloomy corridor. He makes his way to Ira’s room and peers in.

The bed is made. A wheelchair sits in the corner. The room is empty.

A middle-aged man emerges from the bathroom holding some toiletries and spots Wendell hovering in the doorway.  

  “May I help you,” he asks as he makes his way to the bed where a duffel bag sits.

 “Ira Rubin. Is it true? He’s gone?”

 The man stashes the toiletries in the bag. “Went in his sleep.” He zips it shut. “Were you a friend?”

“I suppose, although now that I think about it, I wasn’t a very good one.”

The man grabs the bag and heads for the door. He extends his hand to Wendell. “I’m Cliff Rubin, Ira’s son.”

Wendell stares in disbelief at Cliff’s hand and then into his face. Hooked nose, close-set eyes, piercing gaze. Just like Ira.

He throws off his doubts, regains his wit, and shakes Cliff’s hand. “I’m Wendell Bennett. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Cliff sucks in air and gives a solemn nod. He reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a white envelope.

“He left this for you.”

“What’s inside,” he asks, fearing the worst news possible.

“No idea; yours is sealed shut, just like mine was.” He taps the pocket holding his letter. “Kinda how he lived: all sealed up, keeping everyone away, all his thoughts secret.” Finger tap, tap, taps. “I sat on his bed for over an hour working up the courage to open it.” He pauses and draws in a deep breath. “Figured it was a suicide note.”

“Suicide…” Wendell staggers against the doorframe.

 “No,” Cliff says as he helps Wendell maintain his balance. “That came out wrong. I thought it was, but it turns out to be an apology.”


Love, Joy & Miracles; Day 7

On the 7th day of Christmas: the continuation of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”

The next morning, Wendell Bennett shuffles down the north wing of Villa Velencia. Up ahead is a women’s silhouette. He shields his eyes for a better look and inches out of the shadow. She recognizes him and approaches with sure steps. Wendell, uncertain who she is, stops. She closes the gap and buries her face into his flannel shirt. Ruth’s perfume is intoxicating and he relishes her body close to his, but is unable to fathom why she’s embracing him.

“He’s gone,” she whimpers.

“Who’s gone?”

She releases him and pulls out a Kleenex to dot her eyes. “Ira. He passed in his sleep.”

“He…died?”

“I came to you as soon as I heard. You were his only friend.”

She let the moment hang and notes the pain crossing his face like a dark cloud.

She touches his arm. “I know he was annoying, but you should have heard him talk about you.”

Wendell takes in her eyes that dazzle like sapphires.

“Oh, how he admired you,” she gushes. “Said he’d never met a smarter man. Couldn’t wait to get helped into his wheelchair every morning just so he could talk with you. You gave him such joy. Did you know that?”

Wendell stares at the floor, his mind a whirlwind of questions. In a flash, he remembers their bet.

“The miracles,” he mumbles.

“What?”

“I need to see him.”

“You can’t; they’ve already taken him to the funeral home.”

Wendell raises his eyes. “I still need to see his room.”

Ruth leads him by the hand toward The Commons. They reach the south corridor, and Wendell pats her hand.

“I need to go alone.”

She considers arguing the point but lets him go.

He waddles away as “Little Drummer Boy” fades into “O Holy Night.”


Calling The Curious

Good morning! Today is a shameless plug so I’ll make it short & sweet.

March 21 at 10 PM CST, yours truly will be interviewed for his FIRST blog talk radio show. (Cue raucous applause sfx.)

I’m flattered and humbled anyone would be interested in interviewing me or listen to what I have to say, so it should prove interesting on many fronts. And since I’m an old fart and I’m usually asleep at this time, the interview will be an exercise in willpower & caffeine consumption. 🙂

So…

If you’re wondering what I sound like (here’s a flashback post on the topic) or curious about my War of Whispers series or waging bets in Vegas on whether I can stay awake and attentive for that long, then I hope you’ll tune in.

If nothing else, wish me luck!


Just Get Over It!

Pulltight Hill

Pulltight Hill…on a CLEAR day!

Since I’ve been cycling a lot more than writing, I thought I’d take time to share my recent ride and how it’s comparable to writing.

But first, let me give you some back story. This coming Saturday, I’ll be riding with a bunch of other crazy folks who think that grinding gears for 100 miles is “fun.” Well, it is if you adhere to the adage “misery loves company.” And the main reason I’m doing this is so I’ll be in top shape for the 100 mile fundraiser I’m doing September 21st. If you’re curious about the event and would even like to contribute, then please go to JDRF.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s refocus on last Saturday’s ride. The goal was 75, which I’ve already done, so this was simply to maintain endurance. However, at our refueling stop at mile-marker 40, my riding partner, James, announces to some local farmers that we’re doing 80. I cringe. I know 5 extra miles doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that wee bit can usher in disaster and misfortune. Fortunately the weather was overcast and cool by Tennessee’s standards, but we still had 2 big hills to climb, one of which–Pulltight Hill–we’d never ridden before.

Not being one to back down from a challenge, even one from a zealous friend, I set off with James in the mist. We joke how we have to do 80 or else those farmers will hunt us down with their 4×4’s or Tweet snide comments.

At around the 55 mile mark, we reach Pulltight and start our ascent. James, who is a much stronger rider than I am, makes some upbeat comment about taking it easy while scooting up the incline with the ease of a mountain goat. I’m more like an old mule plodding, groaning and making funny noises as I breathe.

When I reach the top, James is snapping pics and blabbing stuff like, “THAT wasn’t so bad!” I was too busy coughing up lung and sucking my water bottle to reply.

We roll on and the mist turns to rain, which makes drafting a nightmare. When we hit the 65 mile mark, we’ve ridden out of the rain and discuss route options in order to reach our goal of 80.

At this point, I’m not feeling so good. At the time, I just thought I was having an off day. But as this is Tuesday and I still have a sour tummy, I think I had a stomach bug. All of which is important to what happens next.

As we head up the last big climb of the day, I get light-headed, lose focus and wreck. James races back and is horrified at the sight. I’m sprawled in a rocky ditch near a metal drainage pipe. He told me later that he expected to see blood spurting everywhere and having to dial 911. As for me, I was just relieved he didn’t have to do mouth-to-mouth!

Thankfully, no, actually miraculously, my helmet and left hip took the blunt of the fall, and aside from some cuts, strawberries and my woozy head, I was okay. Even my bike survived; only the front wheel needing to be trued.

I steel myself, climb back on, and we finish the ride. No, we didn’t reach 80 (I ended up with 76) but it would indeed be the ride, or wreck, to talk about for some time.

All of that to say that writing books is an endurance event. It takes a ton of hard work, a boat-load of dedication, some days suck, and you will wreck. But you don’t quit and you hunger to be better, and the only way to improve IS to write (bike) with those stronger and better than you.

So you climb back into the saddle, grind over the next hill, and hope the downhill leads to a better tomorrow. And despite the misery and frustration, the setbacks and rainy days, there’s one truth that keeps you spinning along.

You really do love it.


When I Learned That Harm Can Be Love

While painting some gutters,  a baby bird’s chirp caught my attention.  Not wanting to alarm him, I looked high and low for the nest but was unable to find it.

Repositioning my ladder, the chirps increased in volume and intensity.  Peering cautiously into the bush, I searched the shadows for him.  But what I meant as cautionary he perceived as a tactical threat.  Launching himself from his hiding place, and giving me a scare, the young sparrow flew away.

Only he was too young to fly.  So instead of reaching another bush and safety, he landed in the yard.  Dazed, he chirped repeatedly, no doubt calling to his parents for help.

Standing high on my ladder, I had the perfect assessment of his situation.  Not only was he out in the open and easy prey for the neighborhood cats, but he sat only a few feet away from a busy street.  I knew he couldn’t escape danger, and that it was impossible for his parents to help him, so I decided to make the rescue.

Hopping off my ladder, I grabbed an empty 1 gallon bucket to trap him, scoop him up and then set him free.  At least that was the plan.

But as I neared, he chirped and flapped and flitted away.  Once more, he presumed that my intention was harm when in reality I only wanted to rescue him.  And in fact, his efforts to escape were not only moving him toward the street, but were alerting the prowling cats.

Desperate, I crouched and crept closer.  And as quickly as I could, I dropped the bucket over him.

I could hear his wings fluttering against the bucket and his frantic chirps echoing within.  My heart broke.  I wished that I could speak “sparrow” and tell him that I had no intention of hurting him, and that this was the only way to rescue him, and that he was going to live, and that I would set him free in an even better place.

And it was at that moment that I better understood how God must “feel” trying to love me.  It’s not a perfect picture, but like the sparrow, in my attempts to find freedom apart from God, I’ve discovered gravity’s ruling hand and have landed in the middle of danger.  Likewise, I too interpreted his scooping “hand” as being hurtful and cruel.  But looking back, perhaps standing on a rung of life’s ladder, I see that it was the only way out, and what I defined as harm was in fact the most loving thing he could have done.


Never Forget Your First Love

When I was in college, I learned a valuable life lesson from an unlikely source…my bass professor.

During a lesson in preparation for my senior recital, he stopped me midway through a section.  I studied the music to see where I’d made a mistake (but didn’t see anything) so I began again.  He quickly stopped me and said, “Play a C major scale.”

Without flinching, I flew up the fingerboard, but before I had reached the next octave, he interrupted me yet again.

“Let me see it,” he said.  Unnerved, I handed him my upright bass and bow, wondering if it wasn’t too late to change majors.  He began to play the scale slowly, making each note ring with purpose. In fact, my instrument had never sounded better!

“You’ve forgotten why you became a bassist,” he counseled, as he made my instrument come alive.  “Listen to each note.  Enjoy how rich it sounds.  Feel how it resonates through your body.”

He was right.  I had become so consumed with flashy speed and finger dexterity that I’d lost touch with my passion.  I was playing notes, not music.

Although this was a music lesson, I’ve found that this truth spills over into every aspect of my life: writing, marriage, parenting, spirituality…

I often have to take a moment and ask myself: “Have I forgotten my first love?”  “Have I forgotten why I became a _____?”

And since speed kills–and we’re all going 100 mph in a 50 zone–I know I need to take drastic measures.  So I take my foot of the gas, pull off to the side of the road, gaze into the sunset, and get reacquainted with my heart.

For me, it’s the difference between life and LIFE!


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