This book is excellent not only for the logical progression of content but also for the direct links to the appropriate pages in Goodreads. The hot links in the Kindle edition not only take you to specific Goodreads pages but also allow you to come back directly to the correct page in the book so that you can continue in sequence. It’s more than a “how-to” book; it shows you what do each step of the way in what is a very complex web site that isn’t easy to learn. Without this guide, I would have been completely lost even though I access dozens of web sites regularly and am familiar with their site plans. I probably need to go back and re-read it again and practice using each of the sections online.
When I started actually using Goodreads I started with selecting genres and manually adding a few books that I had recently read. Then I imported 160 books from my LibrarianPro database, and that activated the Goodreads’ algorithmn to offer me some recommendations. My database included only the newer books that I can scanned in the barcode for and didn’t include most of the older books in my library that I didn’t want to enter manually. I joined a couple of groups and regularly read their posting, set up an author page and identified my books, and filled out all of the details of the profile page. I linked my blog so that it posts to Goodreads; it already linked to Facebook and LinkedIn.
Although I have been using the site a couple of months, I still find it awkward and not intuitive to find my way around. Some people expressed dismay when Amazon bought it fearing that it might question the validity of the reviews since Amazon already has its own system of reviews. The Amazon recommendations don’t work as well for me as those on Netflix perhaps because I buy from too many different subject areas. I don’t think it will be a question of integrating the two systems as much as that Amazon has a lot more resources and probably can improve the site.
Only one of my personal friends is on Goodreads, and that’s how I was introduced to the site. But he doesn’t post, and none of my other friends use it. I am “following” a few authors I know, but I haven’t made any friends in the groups I joined. The updates on postings from the Goodreads groups are harder to follow than those from the LinkedIn Groups. (I belong to eight groups on LinkedIn.) I’ve posted several book reviews on my blog in the past because I read across a wide range of subjects even though I read almost exclusively non-fiction. I even wrote a post noting the Charlie Rose and Fareed Zakari are my primary sources of locating new books. I only post to this blog every couple of weeks because I simply can’t devote any more time to it. For people who have been on Goodreads for years I can see how it could be helpful in tracking books of potential interest.
I just have found the learning curve slow and wonder what experience other authors have had.
Jeff Chu was in Raleigh last week promoting his new hardback book: Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. His friend Justin Lee did a dialogue from one of the chapters in the book featuring Justin.
Jeff is foremost a writer who knows how to tell a good story. In person he is articulate and engaging and presents a calm demeanor of confidence without being arrogant. As a reporter and interviewer he obviously understands how to draw out people to get to the heart of their story. They tell him things they wouldn’t tell other people.
The stories are fresh and enlightening because he doesn’t have an agenda other than to try to understand what makes people the way they are and why they do the things they do. He’s not afraid to ask the hard questions but in a non-threatening way. His slight build probably unconsciously makes them think he’s just a kid, but he’s not.
The variety of perspectives in his book give the issue a new twist rather than rehashing the old canards about gays and religion. It’s more than just a debate about the Bible. His inquiries reach deeper into how people view and understand the basis of Christianity and how they interpret their beliefs and put them into action. He spent more than a year interviewing people to get these different perspectives and three and one-half years writing the book, so he was both deliberative and thoughtful in his research. He acknowledges that it is not a comprehensive or theological overview of the subject, but he does gives us a wide range of opinions and personal experiences. He feels that God lead him to these people.
This is not a gay book. It is about one of the most controversial issues facing Christians today, and the issue is discussed differently than in the usual adversarial approach of two opposing sides who talk past each other. I’ll admit that I was jealous of his starred review in Kirkus Reviews and a 2-column review by Dan Savage in The New York Times. He lives in a different stratosphere than I do.
In reviewing some of my old posts, I was surprised that I had not written specifically about internet marketing strategies even though I have followed several web sites and blogs on this topic for the past three years. My focus has shifted recently from marketing strategies for freelance writers and small businesses to book promotions for authors since I have a new book.
In summary, the key seems to be getting book reviews and getting exposure through free giveaways either through Amazon or other book sellers. The premise is if you get enough people to read your book (with the incentive that they can read it for free) and you get enough good reviews, then that will start the log rolling and your standing and status will grow and thereby increase your sales.
Well, having been involved in various promotion and marketing strategies for more than 40 years, I understand there are more than one way to skin a cat. Of course, the cat now has become a virtual avatar rather than a live entity so some of the rules have changed. The primary difference now is that the techniques are cheaper, more targeted, and less focused on the mass media or direct personal contacts. The cliché of the author’s “platform” has changed from public visibility and expertise on a particular issue to simply broad exposure via as many social media outlets as possible.
You’ve got to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, have a blog and a web site; and for authors you need to be reviewed and read as widely and often as possible even if you have to give away your books to do so. The rationale is that you will build reader loyalty and thereby establish a brand. Well, that’s fine if you’re a best-selling author and you can “sell” your books, but I’m still cautious about how much you can earn if you continue to give away your products.
As a traveling book salesman for a major publisher many years ago, I used to give out “samples” of a few of our books to our existing clients simply to maintain contact. It was a conversation breaker on my personal visits and opened the door more directly than talking about the weather or personal interests. But the ratio of free vs. sold was infinitesimal. Of course, the major cost was my travel expenses that took thousands of dollars right off the top of my sales.
I’ve been absorbed the past two weeks studying a multitude of web sites and blogs offering advice and strategies for getting book reviews and other promotions, but I won’t get into cataloging those now. I’m still figuring out which ones are useful and which are simply self-promotions without any real value.
Now that I’m trying to reach readers directly rather than literary agents, editors, or publishers my strategies will need to change. The Internet makes that possible, but the clutter of dozens of promotional possibilities makes it a complex tangle to unravel. And that’s where I am at this point.
Anyone have any suggestions?
The paperback edition of Neither Here Nor There is now available on Amazon.com for $7.99 plus tax. The Kindle edition is running a special promotion on KDR select, and it is available for free from 4/2 – 4/4 —so order now.
I’m not sure that I can explain the process whereby this came about since I hired a computer Guru to do it. There are several Kindle books that provide detailed steps, but I took the short circuit and simply provided a MS Word version of my manuscript, front and back materials, and a JPG file of the cover which I also hired someone to design. I paid someone to preview the Word file for glitches before the file was converted and someone else to proofread the manuscript before I submitted it.
The entire process took only a matter of weeks versus the usual process that takes months. The paperback edition was created via CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I also am selling the paperback edition directly to local customers and will be displaying both this book and the Goodbye God book at the Triangle Area Freelance Writers’ Conference on April 20th.
I have used some of the promotion services on the web site FiveRR.com that provides services for only $5. Obviously, the services must be limited in scope, but I have found them satisfactory. Some of the providers have a sliding scale that starts at $5 and goes up with the addition of more complex services.
The experience has been much simpler and certainly less expensive than the Print-On-Demand (POD) that I did through Trafford that took several months to migrate to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even longer to migrate to the Kindle and the Nook. Unfortunately, they set the retail price, and that simply priced me out of the market. Now I can set my own price and be more competitive.
I will write later about my experience of using these services and how they worked out. Some have questioned the value of “free” promotions, and I certainly would not write for free for a client just to get a byline. We’ll see.
On a recent evening I read a book by a distant relative that told the story of her life and that of her husband as missionaries. I was troubled by it. Both of them as teenagers had received the Grace of God and had established a clear purpose for their lives together.
For many years I was denied that Grace simply because of who I was. I was told that I had to repent of the sin of homosexuality. I fully admit that I did not accept that denial very graciously and followed a self-destructive path because of my frustration and rejection. How much of the failure was due to my selfish preoccupation with my situation and how much was due to the rejection by the church? I don’t know, and a this point in my life it doesn’t matter for I was side-tracked for a very long time.
What was Jesus’ message about the poor, the despised and down trodden? It was acceptance and renewal. Why has the church for so long accepted the cultural mores of the day and not heeded his message? Because in its doctrine homosexuality was the only unforgivable sin that was beyond redemption, ergo “love the sinner and hate the sin.” Unfortunately, for decades most of the emphasis has been on the hate (and all the consequences of that) and very little on the love.
So much energy has been wasted in the decades of discord and disputation that has divided Christians on this issue, who see their differences as irreconcilable. Supposedly the dispute is about how we read the Bible. The history of the church is full of disputes over theology and doctrine that frequently spilled over into outright war. Of course, the differences in dogma in most cases really were about struggles for economic and political power rather than over spirituality.
The memoir that I wrote was not so much to justify my decisions, which often were wrong, but to offer an example of the struggle that most gays and lesbians encounter in trying to reconcile their beliefs and their personalities. If you can’t change who you are, and the church tells you that you have to repress those feelings then it only can lead to desperation and sometimes death. Fortunately I did not try suicide (as so many other teenagers have done when faced with similar situations), but I did struggle and did not cope very effectively.
So much of the discussion in recent years has been about promoting gay rights as the next step to a more fully inclusive and democratic America rather than about the stance of the church. Some denominations has searched their doctrines and have decided to become more welcoming and inclusive, but mine has not. So why not just go somewhere else where I would be welcome? Because I was raised in my church, and I can not abandon it even though it conveys a second-class status upon me. I want to help my church to grow — not through argument and division —but through genuine love and acceptance. Tolerance is a very grudging and unforgiving word. I don’t want to be tolerated; I want to be accepted for who I am.
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For those who have followed this blog in the past, I’m reverting to an occasional topic of book reviews. I have written about the books I’ve read and liked, and they have covered a wide range of subjects. Although I read the New York Review of Books, I usually don’t buy their books because they’re mostly academic, political, or literary. I pick up my books on Amazon from Charlie Rose, Fareed Zakari, and Bill Moyers. I prefer to say that they offer a progressive viewpoint rather than a liberal bent as that is how I view myself. I’m very conservative and traditional in many aspects but I’m out front on social issues. Particularly I’m concerned about the financial debacle of the past decade and the rise of the oligarchies in the United States. We’ve sold our government to the highest bidder so it has become corrupt, and corporations dictate not only tax policies but many social issues.
On this post rather than comment on a single book, I’m going to list some of the most recent books in my Kindle Library:
The Beginners Guide to E-Books by Gary McLaren
The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman
End This Depression Now by Paul Krugman
The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz
Queer America: A GLBT History of 20th Century America by Vicki L. Eaklor
This Used to be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We
Can Come Back by Thomas Friedman
Who Stole the American Dream? By Hedrick Smith
I’ve also read several books about the newest Apple Macintosh OS 10 version and how to use the iPhone 5 and iPad, but I think those would appeal only to the technies. About six months ago I went off on a tangent and read several books about Neuro Linguistic Programming. Don’t ask what it means; it is part of the underlying psychological techniques of advertising and hypnotism. In other words, using language for more than just direct communications. If that sounds sinister; it’s not. We just usually are not conscious of the implications and connotations of our speech or writing and the emotional or psychological effects they may have.
As I mentioned in the post about my new web site, I’ve quit magazine writing and am focusing on my books for now so I won’t talk as much about freelancing as I used to do. I know that I’m supposed to be more consistent, and that this rant has rambled all over the place. But that’s why I think that rant is a good word for it because I have many interests, and my focus varies over time. I could go on about aging issues, public transportation, civil rights, social and economic inequality, and so on, but I do try to limit my range somewhat.
So what is your pet peeve?
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