The Computicator

Many years ago, at least a decade before anyone ever heard of the term “blogger,” I coined the term “computicator” as a job description for a character in one of my stories, combining the words “computer” with “communicator.” It seems to me a more accurate and comprehensive term for what I’ll be doing than blogger.

My second novel, Luck of the Draw, is ready to go. I even have an audiobook version. But this time I want to do the internet marketing aspects “right.” Here’s the cover:

cropped-LuckCover.jpgLike almost everyone I know who is about my age, I’m a novice at social media, but I am very experienced at using computers. My first was a Kaypro II, which I got in 1983. It was marketed as “the writer’s computer” and endorsed by luminaries such as William F. Buckley. I couldn’t afford such an extravagance, but computers were totally new for both writers and small businesses, so I wrote the manufacturer with a proposal: I would write a book called Up And Running in which I would chronicle my company’s experience in using their computer if they would send me a demo to work on. Surprise surprise, they sent me one the next week!

I now have half a dozen Macs of various vintages that still function and I do pretty well working with publishing software for things like book publishing and promotional flyers, but I don’t know social media. At all. I’ve never sent a tweet. Heck, I’ve never even sent a text. Even my wife says I’m a cell-phone troglodyte. I do have FaceBook and Twitter accounts, but I’ve never posted a word to either one.

These days I work mostly from home in my bathrobe, and while I have a cell phone, I don’t have a smartphone. I just don’t see the point of shelling out hundreds for a phone and then paying $80/month for something I’d use maybe three times a month. I’ve got everything I need right here on my desktop. I’ll probably have to break down and get one soon if I hope to succeed in the social media world.

My company has had a website for our products for nearly twenty years (http://www.castaliapub.com), mostly for selling the line of educational posters that followed one of my earliest get-rich-quick ideas, The Guitar Poster. While it did not make me rich, it has made it possible for me to work for myself. I haven’t had a boss in over thirty-five years.

guitar-poster
The Guitar Poster™ by Castalia Communications is the most complete guide to the guitar ever made. © 1980

The Castalia site was done by a web designer maybe fifteen years ago (with a few updates along the way) and is not remotely connected to my novels. I don’t know enough HTML or CSS or other coding to do a site myself but I need to be able to update it regularly and can’t afford to hire a designer every time I want to make a change. The Castalia site is also out of date in that it is not what the geeks now call “responsive” to the various new mobile devices. What I really need is a high school kid to tutor me for a month on using WordPress, which has become the go-to platform for non-techies to do their own website and is what I’m struggling to learn right now as I type.

Anyhow, after receiving the proofs for Luck of the Draw last November, I set the publication date for July 1, far enough in advance to give me time to set up a website and figure out some kind of marketing plan. I saw that the local junior college was offering a course in social media that seemed to be exactly what I needed, so I signed up (we’re about a month into it as I write this, which will become my first blog for that class as well as for the world at large).

I had been reading up on what an unknown author has to do these days to break out. There are many “how to” books for authors, not only unknown, self-published authors, but even famous authors have to have an online marketing strategy. With an estimated 4,500 books published every day, the hard part is not the writing, but the marketing.

When the Republicans held their first debate and Donald Trump took over, I was struck with yet another of the many new product ideas I’ve had over the decades. I envisioned the international NO sign with the red circle and the cross-bar with Trump’s face behind it combined somehow with my favorite term for his acolytes: “trumpies.” Like “hippies” and “yuppies,” it as a similar pejorative connotation.

I asked my wife, who’s pretty handy with a sketch pad, to draw a caricature of Trump’s face. The whole face didn’t work graphically in the circle, but the hair did. Here is the official NoTrumpZone™ sign:

The official No Trump Zone sign.
      The official NoTrumpZone sign.

 

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. The next Frisbee or Hula Hoop or Pet Rock is always just around the corner. In college I majored in political science and I have always been a news junkie, and in my business I’ve been in charge of producing a variety of graphic products. Here was an idea that combined politics and graphics in what is arguably one of the most powerful forms of political publishing: bumper stickers!

So after my NO TRUMP ZONE brainstorm the prospect of jumping into social media became much more interesting. I could  do this and actually enjoy it. I don’t have to just promote my novels, I can be a true computicator and maybe play a role in defeating Donald Trump by getting the NoTrumpZone sign into the world and popularizing the term “Trumpie” via graphic bumperstickers with the NoTrumpZone sign and slogans like:

Save America–Don’t Be A TRUMPiE!

Tell Your Honey, Don’t Be A TRUMPiE!

Keep America Great–Don’t Be A TRUMPiE!

I’ve come up with a dozen or so designs utilizing old artwork from projects of yesteryear. In the case of the cartoon dog and cat below, I was trying to make a go of that idea as a line of kid’s refrigerator magnets back around 1989. It feels good to be able to repurpose old artwork. Here’s the banner I came up with for the NoTrumpZone store:cropped-NoTrumpZoneStickerBanner-1.png

All of this Trump stuff is brand new in the last two months, and I have not the slightest idea whether it will work or whether I can get word out about the novel by piggybacking on the NO TRUMP campaign. There may be 4,500 books published every day, but there is only one Don’t Be A TRUMPiE site. It seems worth a shot.

I’ve put over a dozen variations of artwork for various items besides bumper stickers up for sale (t-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs, etc.). Hurry hurry hurry. Don’t be left out. Get yours TODAY!

trump-shirttravel-mug

NoTrumpZone T-shirt & Travel Mug

At this point my intention is to document progress as I go, writing about problems, successes, failures, frustrations, news events, maybe even post a song now and then, who knows.

Mocking the Trump phenomenon in a way that might actually make a difference is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a political junkie like me. The fact that it coincides with my efforts to market my novels, which have political and historical themes, is pure serendipity. As an additional bonus, assuming that I actually follow through with a regular routine, in a year or so I should end up with a book-sized, real-time memoir of a very interesting year no matter how it goes. Memoirs are “hot” in publishing these days.

Now if I can only get the website going.

Later.

FREE

The official printable NoTrumpZone™ sign

Just click on the graphic below and print it out on your inkjet printer for your very own NoTrumpZone™ sign for windows, doors, filing cabinets, refrigerators—you name it. Or copy it to your computer and resize it for stationary, envelopes, whatever. Let’s have fun this election season!

For non-commercial use only!

cropped-MasterNoTrump-1.png

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