Do that Thing that You Do

 

You. Put down those fish crackers, I’m talking to you. Serious – this is a serious talk. No goofing around about anything. Just drop the crackers.

So, what do you do? Me? I’m a writer. It’s what I do. Technical writing, a little marketing, a little blogging, a couple of novels, a couple of short stories. It’s what I do. Working on a screenplay right now.

In fact, thank you for asking, it’s a screenplay based on my own novel, Droppington Place. It’s a funny story… well, okay. You’re right. We’re being serious here.

Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? Lovely picture, although a tad sad. It was made by LAIKA, a film studio in Oregon that makes handcrafted, stunningly animated movies. What could be a better fit? What better film company to make a major motion picture out of Droppington Place?

As you know, I’m a proponent of Gorilla Marketing – do little, expect lots. In this mode, we ask ourselves why we must go through all the hassle of selling millions of books. Why could we not simply approach LAIKA directly, make the motion picture, and then sell the millions of books? You know, it’s not really putting the cart before the horse: it’s more like they’re side-by-side. Boom. Anything could happen.

So I set myself out to write a screenplay from the novel. Piece of cake. I know the book forwards and backwards. What if I simply move these scenes around to make it more, you know, cinematographically friendly?

Well, three things happened. Three. You were expecting two, but, hey, it was three. Sorry to disappoint.

First, in reordering the book for cinematographic friendliness, I found a much better flow to the story. Rats. Now the book needs a rewrite.

Second, in retelling the story for the large screen, I found some motivations for characters I hadn’t seen before. Rats. See above.

Third, I had a revelation. A very sad, very tawdry little revelatory affair that hurts to write about, but you’re a writer. You know how it is.

Shakespeare is quoted as having written, “to thine own self be true.”

I was on an airplane, struggling with the screenplay, when the words came to me. Poop, I thought. I don’t want to hear these words.

The words came as clearly to me as if I had written them myself, but I’m not this good. It was simple poetry, and it hurt to read. It said, “write what you want and it’ll be great.”

Write what you want and it’ll be great.

Stop plotting and planning and pushing and prodding. Stop massaging and manipulating and maneuvering and marketing. What’s in here (taps on chest) is what’s important.

“Your lungs?” I asked.

I have written what I hope will sell, and hope you will buy. I haven’t written the Great American Novel. I’ve written something clever and fun and creative, and that I think you’ll like. I like it.

But the calling is to write what’s inside, and I don’t think it’s about my lungs.

What is the story I was created to tell? What can I give to you that will be great enough to make you think, wow, my life is now better? What epic saga lies inside here (taps on chest)?

Poop.

So, compadre, we have to saddle up another horse. It’s a long ride ahead, and now there’s another wagon to pull. Please don’t put the saddle on the horse that’s supposed to pull the wagon – you’ll just confuse things.

Okay. You can go back to your fish crackers now.

Ah, Camp Stupid

You’re a writer, you know how it goes.  Every moment you draw a breath is a moment to promote your book.

Well, say, I have a moment with nothing to do, and my super-smart cell phone right here.  What if I take this moment to submit a query about my book, DROPPINGTON PLACE,  to a literary agent.

Wait, I don’t have the manuscript… it’s parked on my Google drive, but an agent only wants the first ten pages. Hmm, how to edit it…

Wait! I sent a query to a different agent… that was a perfect letter! Alls I gotta do is find that letter and change the names and stuff…

It didn’t take long to take out the refeeencea to my dog and stuff, and change the names. That agent, the first recipient, had sent me a nice autoreply of no, thanks. I edited out references to that, too. 

Just one eye in the flointment…you can’t send a letter you’ve already sent.  Hmmm… no biggy. I’ll just forward it…

Okay, everything looks good…push the send and hope for the best.

Say, here’s an autoresponse from the new agent.  Thank you for your submission, here’s what you sent…

And there, in the inbox of this agent, is my submission letter, followed by my submission letter to the previous agent, and then the rejection letter from the other agent!

OMG!  How stupid can you be?  If I don’t make it as a novelist, I can always be the mascot for Camp Stupid!

That’s No Moon

Luke looks at the small moon.

“I have a bad feeling about that,” he says.

“Cut!” George yells. “It’s this. I have a bad feeling about this, not that!”

“Not what?”

“What?”

“What are we talking about?”

But, I digress.

You’re a writer. You know how it goes. You wrote the darn thing, and now, if you wrote a book like mine, nobody will publish it. Except you. Or, in my case, me.

I got my last rejection letter today from an agency in Colorado – not even New York. They shot DROPPINGTON PLACE down in the twinkle of an eye – good, bad, or indifferent, it missed whatever target they had in mind.

So, I looked online at ways to get readers for my book. Gosh, there are a gazillion different people all saying the same thing: build a mailing list of readers, here’s how to use Facebook, here’s how to use Pinterest, Twitter your book to success… For just $25, I’ll send you my special program that shows you how to get readers…

A bell went off – it was either the bell of a real thought, or the timer telling me my chicken potpie was done. Let’s go with the thought.

Duh. Hello. Earth to moron.

If you wrote a best-selling novel, would you be online telling people how to sell their novel?

If you wrote a best-selling novel, would you be skimming 15% off of other authors to hawk their work to publishers?

If you were all that, wouldn’t you be doing all that, rather than sitting at home on your PC, trying to make a buck off of other writers.

Hello, McFly! There are easily a million books out there for FREE, each authored by someone just like you and me, or, well, maybe me, thinking that here’s the golden ticket. I’ll be a novelist, and smoke a pipe, and be unavailable for interviews because, frankly, I just don’t have it in me today. Perhaps next Thursday, after drinkies by the pool. Skip the day job – let’s make art our day job! Sorry, Arthur, not you. It’s not Art, just art.

But they don’t sell their books – they can’t sell their books, because they’re following the same advice: here’s how you sell you books online. Here’s what sells. Here’s a way to build readers.  THEY’RE ALL DOING THE SAME THING!

And, if everyone is doing the same thing, isn’t that tantamount to doing nothing?

Here’s one thing you’ll never, ever see: top dog marketers – really successful crack shots of the pitch – telling you their secrets. Not going to happen for two reasons: a) too busy making the wheels go around, and 2) sorry, that’s my secret.

The lesson for you, my authorial friend (again, not you, Arthur) is this: don’t believe the pitch. Don’t buy it. If it’s a free product, YOU are the product. If they offer some good advice with a wink and a nod, you can believe it’s a hoodwink, hoping you’ll nod off and buy their shtick.

The lesson for you, my marketing friend (yes, Mark, that’s you), and perhaps for me is this: we have to find what hasn’t been found. We, you and I, have to sail the marketing sea that hasn’t been crossed. We must pave the road for ourselves – because out there, in the brutal dog-eat-dog world of marketing – if you fall for somebody’s hook, that makes you a fish.

If you whisper “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” you’re right. That’s no moon. That’s some guy telling you it’s a moon so that you’ll linger on his web page and give him good stats that he can show to his advertisers to justify their payments to him.

Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a marketer.

Sorry – wrong franchise…

 

Going Responsive

Responsive websites? I always thought your website was responsive if you just answered your emails.

You’re a writer – you know how it is. You toil and slave over your book, you publish it yourself, you get your website, your Facebook page, your logo… and then, who knew, it’s useless if your website isn’t responsive. Useless. Who knew?

While, the standard, desktop, not-so-responsive website still has value if you’re a corporation that sells oodles of things that deserve their own big pictures and stuff, the little screen, however, is clearly the road ahead.

So, what does it mean to “go responsive?” It simply means that you scale your website to look good on mobile devices. That’s it.

Sort of. Once you scale your whole website down to that itty-bitty size, you realize that your whole outlook about your website changes. Gone are the stacked images, the carefully layered pages that had a certain snap to them. Gone are the cool, zoomy galleries of your favorite pictures.

Those big, splashy pages have been replaced with simple, easy-to-read, direct-to-the-point, cell-phone sized articles and galleries and images.

It’s great news if you’re a writer, which you are. All you have to do is write! You don’t have to be a web designer? You just write – that’s really what you and I do best anyway!

PhineasCaswell.com has been a desktop site for quite a while. I built it with Open Element software – free!!!   But, Open Element doesn’t support responsive websites yet. Rats.

For around $30 USD, I found Serif’s WebPlus – I’m running x7, whatever that means. It has a set of really simple templates for making a responsive website. It was seriously easy to make the conversion.

I’m trying to sell my novel, Droppington Place. It’s aimed at the young adult market, which is comprised mainly of mobile device users. Market? Meet website. Website. Market.

As you know, I’m a big proponent of Gorilla Marketing – do nothing and hope for the best. I did a little something by going responsive, and now I don’t have to do anything else. My site is ready for the world to beat a path to my door.

Ah, success.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention my other Gorilla Marketing project – you’ll like this. It’s called Soon to be a Major Motion Picture. All you have to do is download Droppington Place – do it for free, if you’d like. Encourage your friends to do the same. If your friends tell their friends, who tell their friends, who tell…you get the idea… why, we’ll be way over a gazillion reads, which is more than enough for any savvy movie studio or book publisher to jump on the bandwagon and make Droppington Place into a major motion picture. Brilliant!

So, download Droppington Place, and go tell all your friends.

This is gonna be great!

Let the Marketers Market

image

You’re washing your face in the bathroom sink. The warm water makes a pleasant gurgle as it swirls down the drain. It’s California, so you don’t run the water too long.

Suddenly, the water reverses course, and comes up out of the drain.  Thinking quickly, you shut off the tap. No good. The water is gray and malicious, and soon the sink is full. It stops filling before the water spills over the edge, but just barely.

So? What do you do? The sink is full, which means the pipes under the sink are full. Are you a plumber?

In my household, I would attempt to fix it, would flood the bathroom, and never hear the end of it from my wife and teenaged daughter.

“Why don’t you just call a plumber?”

“I can fix it, honey! See, it’s just a… oh.”

Slosh, gush. Gaglub, gaglub, gaglub.

“Nice going, Dad.”

You’re a writer. You know how it is. We write, you and I. Unless you’re a marketing writer, the whole business of promotion and publicity is outside our bailiwick.

So, here we are in the world of self-publishing. I did all the work – I wrote Droppington Place, I edited it, had it read and ignored by family and friends, I published it, I created a Facebook page for Phineas Caswell, I opened a website,  PhineasCaswell, and I even bought a book about Dummies marketing on Facebook.

So far, I’ve sold 4 copies of the book – three to people I know and one that might actually be legit.

By day, I’m a technical writer/illustrator. I do what I do because I enjoy it, and am good at it. I’m not a plumber, although I do get my hands wet upon occasion. But, I am a miserable excuse for a plumber.

So, my writer friend, must it be true with marketing. Here we are in the most freewheeling, enabled, and unshackled time in history for writers – dude, anyone could read your book right now! – but are fettered at the gate of success by a lack of time and marketing knowhow.

The answer is to let the plumbers plumb and the marketers market. The answer is the same as it always was: do what you do best. If you need the help of a specialist, for goodness sake, hire the specialist!  Unless you can do your own dentistry.

As for me, I’ve got to fix this sink before my wife gets home… it’ll all be done and she won’t even know I did it myself until I tell her!

Crack. Gaglu, gaglug, gaglug…

Make Yourself a Magic Virus

Build the San Salvador 4

If you’re sick, don’t read this post. There’s a stupid wordplay about viruses that is, well, so bad that we’re just going to skip it.

When you have just under two minutes free, watch this video: Build the San Salvador 4. How about now?

You know how people eat up those “dude, you had one job” videos? That was the thinking behind this little gem. Have to tell you, it still cracks me up, and I had a hand in making it.

So, why make a movie – especially one as dumb as this?

Three little words, my friend. No, not I love you. Or hands up, suckah. No, no, no… and no, not no, no, no either. Magic, she gasped. Ah, yes, our mantra/manta/bantha.

It’s a tight circle, my friend, this marketing thing. At the end of the video, which is calculated to be just funny enough to appeal to a certain age – the very age I’m hoping will read Droppington Place – is my new little logo, and the whispered word “magic.”

So you, you’re so fascinated by the video, you type in PhineasCaswell.Com, just like you see it in the image at the end of the hilarious video, and there is a link to Droppington Place. You click on the link – blink – why, here’s a nifty book for you to read!

Like a spider’s web, one slimy tendril at a time, you have no choice but to be roped into reading at least the free sample. Bwahahahahahaha.

It didn’t take a great deal of effort to make the motion picture. Sort of like, really? And all this linking is sort of sleep-inducing. And, at the end of the day, YOU have to do all the clicking and reading and stuff.

NOW you can see how Gorilla Marketing works…or doesn’t work, because I’m not doing much work…oy, this get’s confusing.

So, click on the link (HERE it is again in case you can’t find it up there), and repeat after me:

“Magic,” she gasped.

If you’d like to read all of Droppington Place for free, go HERE, and type in the coupon code NJ38D. Boom. Freebie!

“Magic,” She Gasped.

Magic She Gasped Little Black2

“Magic,” she gasped.

Say it again: “Magic,” she gasped.

Tell your friends to say it: “Magic,” she gasped.

It’s a mantra, unless that’s the bat-shaped fish. Whisper it in your sleep.

“Magic,” she gasped.

What is it? What does it mean? Why should you care?

What makes a Subaru a Subaru? Actually, Subaru puts a comma in their statement – a comma with which I have never agreed. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. What does that second comma do? It makes a clause out of “it’s what makes a Subaru,” which isn’t a clause at all. It equally makes a clause out of “Love a Subaru,” which is a clause, but  is so widely separated by the non-clause that you have to remove the non-clause to see it, by which time you’ve simply beaten the whole darned thing to death…and doesn’t make me what to buy the car because they have trouble with punctuation.

“Magic,” she gasped. It’s a mantra, or manta. Or Banta if you’re into Star Wars.

I was trying to come up with a way to sell my book, and the only catchphrase I could think of was “buy my book.”

Hmmm, lacks a little something.

Hailey, one of the characters in my novel, Droppington Place, has a fascination with magic – just to point out that there, right in that sentence, is the proper use of commas to separate a clause – which causes her to utter the mantra/manta/banta phrase. Several times throughout the story she gasps the word “magic,” in what I sincerely hope is a running joke.

So, you see, sometimes your characters can give you a hint on what’s special in your work.

But, here’s the dealio, the thing, the bomb, the cat’s pajamas: What happens if you Google search “murder, she gasped”? Well, probably nothing yet, because I just loaded the tags.

But eventually, my impatient friend, you’ll go to either Phineas Caswell’s home page at PhineasCaswell.com, or to his Smashwords Droppington Place page.

If you simply Google Phineas Caswell, whose name appears beneath the logo, brings you all manner of Droppington Placey options.

Is this marketing genius? Does Procter and Gamble sell soap?

Or is it simply some degree of self-delusion that I’m making progress in marketing my book? Self-delusional like a fox!!!

Already, the pieces are falling into place…bwahahahahah.

You, because you’re a friend, can actually skip all the marketing hype and get Droppington Place by simply clicking HERE. When you get there, type in this Coupon Code: NJ38D, and you can get the book for free!!!

Why, that seems almost like…

“Magic,” she gasped.