9/8/16 It’s been an interesting month on a personal level. I wrote a couple weeks ago about our trip to Pennsylvania for my 50th high school reunion, and since then we’ve visited my wife’s family in New York over the Labor Day weekend. Two red-eye trips in the same month is enough.
In other news, I’ve been making moderate progress in my social media endeavors, but not enough. Whatever the magic trick is for getting viewers and readers, I haven’t found it. I can’t tell if I’m wasting $$$ with the very minimal marketing/advertising moves I’ve made. There is much more I could be doing if I had the $$$ to blow on a publicity campaign. The how-to books budget a minimal campaign starting at $5,000, with $25,000 recommended.
The idea of crowd-funding is intriguing. I’m seriously pondering a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of financing an ad/publicity campaign for the novels. Maybe I can use various posters as incentives to help fund the publicity for a novel. Why not? They’re all legit and all my products.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the tomatoes are coming in, and my wife’s a happy canner. Yesterday the temperature dropped twenty degrees and I mentioned that we should get some firewood, and today out of the blue a firewood guy who’d disappeared for a couple years dropped by in his big truck with a cord of wood and a good deal, so I jumped on it. We have maybe half a cord left from last year, so this will solve our heating problem until this time next year. Now we just have to stack it.
What else? I’m pretty happy with the blog posts and the look of the site, which gives me the confidence to consider doing something along the Kickstarter, crowd-funding lines. I’m not sure if anybody cares about what I’m saying in these blog posts, but the visuals of the site looks good to me, which is a start. In social media all the books/experts/seminars stress that you have to have an internet base, or hub, and this blog/website feels much better for me than Facebook and the like. It’s not great, but okay, and I feel like I’m mostly in control, kind of like being five years old and taking the training-wheels of the back of the bicycle. Look Ma, I did it myself!
I’ve learned enough WordPress to work with this one particular “theme.” It took me several weeks to settle on it, and after I got it going I had a batch of questions for the developer, but when I went to their website for help everything came up in a language that turned out to be Bulgarian (that is NOT a typo). Why it took some Bulgarians to come up with the most functional freebie WordPress theme I have no idea. Maybe I just didn’t look hard enough, but I played with dozens of other freebies and this one worked best for me. In theory it’s easy to change themes, but when I play around with other themes, which are supposed to seamlessly swap out pages and posts and graphics from one layout to another, nothing ever looks remotely the same.
I still have a steep learning curve for integrating things like the “comments” section and newsletter signups. And there are various buttons and settings I have yet to even touch and a variety of analytic programs/widgets/options that I have yet to explore. But I figured I knew enough to redo the company’s poster site if I could integrate the shopping cart. The web design guy who did the Castaliapub.com site over a decade ago is helping. He says I have to learn about “templates” in WordPress to make the old site’s shopping cart work with the new layout. There’s always something new to deal with and I’d rather be writing. But I’ll do it. One more piece of the puzzle.
I had been hoping to send an email to the NeCaHi Class of ’66 list, but no actual list seems to exist. Something about moving thirty years of lists from AOL to Outlook to gmail and everything is all screwed up. It looks like most of my classmates will have to remain ignorant of a great work of American fiction written by one of their own (The Class of ’66 is not well-versed in IT matters.) Oh well.
Technology really does mark a difference in generations. My generation, or sub-generation (born circa 1946 – 1954) was raised on TV, our parents generation was raised on radio, and today’s generations have been raised on the internet. Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the big split in society was the “generation gap,” but you don’t hear much about it any more, or at least that term isn’t used like it once was.
There’s a gap, but it’s different. Back then it seemed to be that it was us “war babies” (the term before “boomer” came into use in the late Seventies) who were rebelling against Vietnam and the conformity of our WWII generation parents and their stodgy politics and traditional ways. Today, it seems to me to be a three-way, with Millennials vs. GenXers vs. Boomers, so it’s more diffuse and not so much cultural as technological, though many boomers have problems with cultural trends like tattoos, piercings, and rap “music” in the same way that our parents had problems with long hair, marijuana, and rock ‘n’ roll (though I don’t think that either ours or our parents’ generations had any equivalent to the cultural disgrace that is the Kardashians).
When I was in my twenties my dad was in his fifties, a 29 year difference. Now I’m sixty-eight and have fraternal twin nephews who are twenty-two, a 46 year difference. I never knew either of my grandfathers, so I have no role model in that regard, but the age difference between myself and the twins is such that even though I’m an uncle, in almost any family in the bygone days of yesteryear I’d be the age of the typical grandfather.
Which brings me to a dust-up I had with one of my twin nephews over that new-fangled obsession called “texting.” They know I have never sent or received a text and have an old flip phone that I hate but that I do use it to take calls when I’m on the road. But instead of calling me my nephew sends a text to my wife’s iPhone (I depend on her in texting situations, much to her chagrin) about a change in plan because of work. That’s okay, because we’re thrilled that he’s actually working, but it means that we will have to reschedule other plans for the next two days. So I call his number and get a voice mail, even though I know he’s “home” because he just used the phone to send a text. Right? I say please call back so we can talk and figure things out as the change has created a cascade effect. He texts back a message that doesn’t solve anything and leaves us hanging. I know he’s there, probably still holding the phone in his hand, so I call his number and, after getting voice-mail, forcefully speak (i.e., shout) into my mouthpiece because I’m sure he’s got us on speakerphone to CALL BACK so we can freaking TALK.
When he finally calls and I explain the different changes we have to make depending on what we do with him and his brother. I get on his case and explain why texting was completely inadequate for our current issue and remind him that I don’t text. He came back and said nobody in his generation talks on the phone, everybody texts, and I said yeah, but I’m not in your generation, and he said yeah, but you’re generation’s all dying off, and I said yeah, but we’re not going to all die off by Monday night so please CALL tomorrow to confirm, don’t text.
What did he do, you ask? — Text, of course. It’s still the same as it ever was, generation gap-wise.
So why don’t I have a smart phone? Basically, I’m cheap and don’t want to fork over $500 and $80 a month for something I would hardly ever use. I’m on one of those cell phone plans that costs $100/year and is based on usage. I’ve never used more than $40 worth of minutes in a year, and those get used only when I’m out of town. I hate the voice quality and I hate the fact that it rings just three times before going to voice mail. Drives me crazy fumbling with the thing to answer in time. I usually don’t even bother looking at the call, as 95% are robocalls. The problem is that it used to be the company business number for over 25 years, and when we moved I ported it to cell service as my personal number so we didn’t miss any legitimate business calls. The voice-mail directs anyone who really wants to talk to me to land lines.
I have everything I need to write and communicate right here on my desk, so I just don’t need one. And if I did have one, I’d be addicted to it when I was out and about. I’ve got pretty good internet service and great views out every window. For me, it’s as close to a perfect environment as I could imagine if I weren’t actually living here for real. When the nephews were visiting last year one asked about my refusal to get a smart phone. I told him that if I were in my twenties or thirties and looking for girls and running around trying to create and sell posters or whatever that I would absolutely have a smart phone. And as my wife says, if I had an iPhone I’d never be off it during those times when I am out and about.
My wife has been wanting me, practically begging me, to want to travel––Madagascar, for lemurs (she actually went last year), Borneo (for orangutans), New Zealand (for friends), Galapagos (birds and turtles). It can’t be as good in person like it used to be or in National Geographic specials, and what if the maid service is poor? I used to want to travel for adventure, but my Jack Kerouac, On The Road days have come and gone. In 1976 I worked for a season as a “wiper” on a NOAA ship, the Discoverer, that sailed from Seattle up to the ice pack in the the Arctic; I backpacked all around western Europe for a year, and in my converted Chevy van donated by Morrison Buick traveled all over, ending up where I am now.
I’ve been around enough., but we’re at the age when retirees seem to want to travel and like to brag about where they’ve been, always one-upping each other. It’s like an epidemic, as ubiquitous a polite discussion topic as iPhones and grandkids. Maybe being a writer makes me content living in my head and interacting with the internet thingy; it seems much more interesting than watching the penguins of Antarctica or the turtles of the Galapagos. I saw the Arctic and Europe in my twenties in the Army and with a backpack, and traveled the USA in camper van. That’s plenty for me. It was great, but I am truly content being right where I am, so why would I need an iPhone?
However, I did go to a writers’ conference in Feb. and absolutely everybody had a smart phone. If my marketing and publicity campaign somehow entices Random House to swoop in and buy the rights to the novels and sends me on an old-fashioned, cross-country book tour, or if Oliver Stone or Francis Ford Coppola come around bidding for the movie rights and want me to consult on the script, sure, I’ll get a smart phone. Probably an iPhone, as I’ve been a Mac guy for decades.
Meanwhile, I’ve been experimenting with Twitter, using two different “handles,” @wsmorrison and @notrumpies. I started because of the social-media class assignment started the @notrumpies handle rather than my own name, figuring to learn what I’m doing before making a total fool of myself. Now that I have a site that presents the novels I’ve begun using the @wsmorrison. I’m sending random tweets to various journalistic celebrities (e.g., @paulkrugman) and sites (e.g., @nytimes) using one a Don’t Be a TRUMPiE bumpersticker as the graphic hook (the bumpersticker layout works really well with the Twitter format). The links in the tweets lead back to this website, and my hope is that there will be enough attention to the Trump stuff to draw attention to the novel.
What with Trump’s love affair with Putin being in the news as I write the Putin is a TRUMPiE sticker _should_ catch people’s attention. Right? Right!?
We’ll see. So far, nothing I’ve tried has seemed to do much of anything. I’ve received some recent sales reports on bumpersticker and book sales and website traffic. I’ll give a summary report on the success or failure of my promo campaign sometime down the road. Right now, let’s just say it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting rich quick. Oh well.
I’ll do a few more tweets about something or other later today. I’m probably doing them at the wrong time, as the social media class taught that timing is everything in getting your tweets read. I’ve also “tweeted” (I really hate that word!) variations of the promo for Luck of the Draw to various sites in hopes of getting reviews.
So far it’s been a big fat zilch. But the election season is young, and the opportunity to try to market my novels while working to defeat Trump and learning this social media stuff is actually fun. I’m sure that I’m doing many things “wrong,” or could at least be doing them better. I should probably be concentrating on sites like Goodreads.com and LibraryThing.com and spending time on Facebook rather than finalizing the web page or learning Twitter or mastering email programs. Oh, and of course I forgot to mention the Kickstarter program and new podcast that I should also be working on.
But I’m not going to worry about whether I do it right or not. If the novel bombs and Trump gets elected, I’ll turn the experience and excerpts from these blog post into another book (memoirs are supposed to be “hot” in the publishing world these days, donchano) and keep on going until Trump destroys the planet. It’s okay. I need something to do, and at the age of sixty-eight success or failure doesn’t mean that much. I’m sure I would enjoy the trappings of “success,” but as the mourneful narrator of my many half-completed songs says, “It’s Too Late for Groupies.”
It’s all a matter of perspective.