My thoughts about books, writing, the publishing industry and other outside topics usually horror related. This blog is connected to Goodreads and Amazon. If you would like to express your own opinion on one of these articles I have written please feel free to comment as I encourage feedback.
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|Posted on August 16, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Twitter is probably the second biggest social media site behind Facebook. Either you love it or hate it, it either works for you or it doesn’t. Twitter is big on hashtags and hashtags help your tweets be seen and they help you interact with your fellow Twitter members and followers. However amongst the hashtags and the rest of twitters many helpful tools is one in particular that I know not many people take advantage of..Twitter Lists. Many times you’ll find people place you on lists, some that you totally get why because you write about that list topic while other and most times your placed on a list and have no clue why. Ignore this, ignore all this.
What are Twitter Lists? A twitter list is a list you can become a member of, subscribe to or create as a way to place followers in a certain niche or topic. Say your like me and you write horror and you want to have all your important horror followers in one spot where you can find them. Well you simply crate a list and then go to their profiles and add them to that list. A list is a great way to organize and follow people without actually following them. They are good for both public and private. Public lists are viewable to everyone including the people you place in them and private lists are only seen by you, meaning you have your own private lists for your own benefit.
Are Twitter Lists Important? Absolutely! I don’t always turn to my lists daily but the simple fact that I have them and they are there is enough. It helps me for when I do need to use them and I have an easy way to get a hold of someone or see someone’s tweets I otherwise wouldn’t see because twitter doesn’t show you everyone’s tweets. This brings me to another reason why it’s a good idea to make lists. Aside from your own organization there’s some people who you follow whose tweets you may want to see more then others. Twitter Lists help you do this. You simply place these followers who are priority to you in a list and boom, you can see their tweets at anytime you wish. Lists help you organize people into categories, help you easily keep track of certain peoples tweets and it’s a good way to create a little order.
Should I Follow Lists or Create Them? Both. You want to follow lists that are beneficial to you and about topics you actually care about. You also of course as stated above want to create lists for your own benefit as well. I myself have more created lists than I’m following. This isn’t because I am trying to make things easier for myself and another way to do so is by following lists that don’t have a ton of people. With your own lists you can put and keep track of your followers easy but with lists you follow you can’t which is why you should keep the lists you follow and create at a minimum.
What’s A Unique Way I can Utilize a Twitter List?
Well besides the reasons I mentioned above there’s a few reasons you should create lists that are unique and helpful to you. Say you have a weekly Twitter Chat that you run well you can place those chat members into a list to keep track of them or even to send a reminder to them about the chat. Say you juat a bunch of publishing companies or editors that follow you that you want to look into and possibly work with, create a list for them. I myself recently had a stream of horror people(fans of horror, fellow writers, horror podcasts, movie producers) follow me on here. Seeing that they all share horror in common and they could prove useful and beneficial to me I decided to create a list for them so now they are all in one spot and I can see what they tweet and have easy access to contact them if need be. There are lots of ways you can utilize lists and these are just a few. So before you ask yourself are lists for you, just take into consideration all I’ve said here and determine how you want to use them not if they are for you because they likely are..or at least they should be.
|Posted on July 27, 2017 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
I recently took part in a weekly twitter chat like I do every week. Someone asked a question about Facebook which is one of the few social media outlets I simply don’t put my time into( one reason is because it is a bit intimidating). They said should they be on there and how can they make their posts show up more because as you may know when you make a post on your Facebook Author Page not all of your followers see it. One thing to do is to post images as images are more likely to be seen over simple texts but another thing people will tell you and what got suggested to the person in the group who asked was to boost their posts by spending money. The host said they spent $20 on a boost of their post and saw a dramatic increase in likes and views for that post as well as in huge increase in the thousands of visitors to their site. This sounds amazing to me but..one, I’m not big on spending money to promote, I’m not big on giving Facebook my money and third I feel paying to boost a post is the last reason I’d cough up money to Facebook. Does it work though? Clearly it can but I feel it would have to be the right post and you have to have things already set in motion as well as a solid following to really get results from that paid post. This brings me to something I’m calling the $20 guarantee which is what I’d like to see but of course nothing is guaranteed.
1. Every Follower and others see my post- The one thing paying to boost a post will do is get you more views of that post. What it does is tell Facebook to ignore their algorithm and boost the post so every follower of the person sees it as well as any other person as well. While you can’t be guaranteed a specific number of how many likes and views you’ll get you can be rest assured that your post will definitely be seen by hundreds upon hundreds of people by paying to boost it.
2. Visitors to Website- If the post comes from your website or contains a link to it then naturally you want people to go there. The problem is however that people are more of an all read no click type lately. Meaning they’ll read what you have to say but they aren’t likely to click. Of course people will tell you that if the content is good enough then the people will click. True, but you want them to then do something when they get to your page which doesn’t always happen. What I’m saying here is there’s a lot of steps you have to take in making sure people go to your website but it’s not exactly a guarantee which is inevitable but unfortunate as it’s one thing you hope you could put out, have people see it and make that next action. It requires more work and the problem is you don’t even know if that hard work will pay off because if it doesn’t you slowly start eating that $20 and there’s no guarantee.
3. Viewer/Follower Takes Full Action- As I stated above there’s no way of knowing or making a person take full action. You have to put out solid enough of work to where you feel so confident that your not worried about if people don’t see it..It’s not that I don’t believe in my work or don’t want to take the steps to make things happen I’m just afraid it’s not as realistic and that not having the right amount of followers and Facebook the entity in itself stands in the way. Obviously you can’t be guaranteed of how things will go you can only do your best and take a chance. You have to do the work and put things in motion for people to take full action.
What am I saying? I’m saying I’m not about to put down $20 on a Facebook post unless I know I can get these three things out of it for sure. I don’t like spending money on promoting and if I do I want to know for a fact or at least be assured that what I’m investing in will pay off. I feel while Facebook is absolutely necessary it’s also intimidating and putting money toward it when you haven’t established yourself on it could prove dire. I’d rather have an idea that I will get a good amount back out of my $20 rather than feel like I’m eating it, because after all that is $20 and it could go toward a lot more other things guaranteed.
|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
Weird West is a literary subgenre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre, usually horror, occult, fantasy or science fiction.
Steampunk, a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
"if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you"
a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
"the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist"
Now that we have the definitions of each genre the big question is this, are weird west and steampunk similar and if so just how similar are they? Yes they do have similarities and we will go over them and see just how alike and even how unalike they are.
-They are both lesser known underrated sub-genres
-Both can be considered to be a form of a sub-genre of Fantasy
-They both are weird, odd and unique in their own right and share a specific quality to them
-They take place during a certain time period
-They both introduce and contain the use of magical technology such as weaponry, forms of transportation and machinery
-Both tend to be associated with and combine Historical Fiction either using real people or places
-At times both create various situations involving the use of time travel
-Both tend to at times be set in their own utopia or interesting world
So in many ways Weird West and Steampunk are similar and sometimes tend to draw in the same audience. They are both unique genres that really capture the essence of creativity, magic and technology. They, like other small sub-genres tend to go unnoticed or underrated however over the last few years the popularity in each of them.
Here are some popular authors of each genre:
-Joe R. Landsdale
-Eric S. Brown
Paul Di Filippo
|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
Zombies, Zombies and Zombies. Everywhere you look there they are. It seems like no matter where you look there’s a new book, show or movie coming out with them. It can easily be said that zombies are hot and they are the thing right now..but is that a good thing? Yes zombies are popular, some of us can’t get enough and the market for cashing in on zombies is a smart idea..but isn’t it enough? In some ways zombies have completely saturated the horror market. They are still entertaining but it seems a solid storyline involving them can no longer be zone. They’ve become a cliche and to me it just seems that there’s not much that can be done with zombies that hasn’t already been done. It can however also be said that like most things this is just a phase and soon it will die down so why it’s hot and the genre to be in perhaps an author should consider getting in on the zombie craze.
The Walking Dead has become a worldwide phenomenon. People are watching it, recording it or when they aren’t watching it they are talking about it. Want to tell someone about something that happened in the latest episode they haven’t seen yet? Nope, no spoilers your going to have to wait till they see it. The Walking Dead is probably the biggest zombie hit to come around in a long time. It’s got drama, action, gore, suspense and of course plenty of zombies. It has everything a good horror fan can enjoy. So because a show like the Walking Dead is big what do you suppose other people want to do? They want in too. They see the popularity of the show and think well if they can make zombies popular then maybe people will love their book or show about zombies too. We see this constantly but the problem is like all things they are seen everywhere and an idea too overdone saturates the market. It becomes a bit dull, we grow tired of seeing it and most of all while some maybe be able to capitalize on it while it’s hot like most things it won’t last even if it’s quality content. A good horror fan or fan of anything however never grows tired of something so maybe it’s not so much a bad idea for an overdone idea but then again maybe it is.
Have Zombies saturated the horror market? I say yes. They’ve put a bit of a damper on how much of a certain topic and how much we can tolerate it. If we can accept this zombie craze and let it be then perhaps there’s nothing to worry about but if it becomes even more crazy and out of control then perhaps something will need to be done but I’m guessing it will likely stop. The bigger question is why is it that zombies are so hot right now? Why is the Walking Dead so huge right now? Well some of us have become a bit too into the whole zombie apocalypse becoming a real thing. Since that will likely not happen anytime soon or never people have decided to do the next best thing, get lost in the fictional world of zombies. They have looked into and eat up all the written zombie fiction they can and watch all the zombie movies and shows they can so they can dream about what they might one day wish they could do during a real zombie apocalypse. Is that so wrong? No and it’s only a theory but it’s a good one at that. People who wish for such an odd idea do the next best thing and because of it zombies have become big and those who write and produce them are hitting it big right now. Zombies maybe saturating the market but right now they are having the last laugh.
|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
When it comes to horror whether reading or watching we tend to love all of it. We can't get enough and we find ourselves looking for and wanting more. to get as scared or as grossed out as possible.
But as writers it may be a bit different. You can read and watch it but can you create it? When it comes to writing horror where do you draw the line? Do you even have a line? Is there a certain topic or idea in horror that you simply won't go near? I know there are many controversial topics or simply just thing we don't feel comfortable in writing. Personally I haven't really drawn a line as to how dark and disturbing I'd go when writing horror but only because I'm comfortable in writing where I'm at. However despite not having drawn a line that isn’t to say I don’t have one because like everyone I do. Before I tell you where I draw the line let’s first explain why we all have a stop point when it comes to horror. First note that not everyone does, some can read or write it with no issue or stopping point whatsoever. These are what we call true no filter horror fans and god bless them for being so. Why do some of us draw the line and stop at a certain point when it comes to horror? It’s simple, we feel. We have emotions and we are human and sometimes we can only take so much. I will explain where I and where most likely draw the line when it comes to the horror genre.
Extreme violence can sometimes be too much and just too overwhelming for some of us and rightfully so. It’s not everyday that we see such intense scenes and situations and not everyone has the stomach for it. Violence in itself is unnecessary so when we see an abundant amount of it in extreme doses we tend to try and look away and not be any part of it. While I will write about extreme horror it depends on the nature to which I will read and write. Rape is a topic that most tend to stay far far away from when it comes to writing and I myself am the same way. It’s just one of those topics where even if you write it to the best of your ability there will be someone to be critical of it and again rightfully so. This is why I and most like me tend to stay away from it. Is there a place for it in literature? Eh, that remains to be seen. The killing of children and animals is another topic that’s just too much. I feel like you have to be a really dark person but also someone who can truly write if your going to take on this or any of the other topics. No one likes to hear about dead children or animals being slaughtered so it doesn’t need to be said that if people don’t like reading about it then it’s just as hard to write it as well. I could list a few more but I think you get the idea.
So where do you pump the breaks when it comes to horror? Is it one of the topics I listed in the previous paragraph? Perhaps you have another? Either way it’s not wrong and doesn’t make you weak or strict it makes you human. There’s just certain topics we can only take so much of or topics we simply can’t take hearing or reading about at all. The idea is to stay with what we know we can take, know our limits and be comfortable reading what we enjoy. It’s also worth noting that those who so have the stomachs for it and can write it or a lot more prone to enjoying horror then we are. This doesn’t make us weak and doesn’t make them weird it’s just that we are all different and have different views and can write in a certain way.
|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
It’s the question you ask yourself and have to make a decision on after you’ve finished your latest work. Where do I want to publish my novel? If you’re an indie author your have a few choices but then it comes down your e-book. Amazon seems like the no-brainer and logical choice but does it have to be? Sure it’s the practical choice but nothing says an author has to be exclusive to just Amazon. As you may already know when your choose Amazon for your e-book rights through KDP Select you can only have your book there any nowhere else. Why is this? Besides the obvious reason that Amazon wants you all to themselves, Amazon wants to be the only place you get your sales and it’s only fitting seeing as their quite popular. By going with Amazon the decision becomes a simple one as there’s no fighting over where to go or what to pick. Your giving Amazon your rights and your not even thinking about other places to distribute your book. Amazon should be your #1 source of getting sales but does it truly have to be? What about the other places in which you can place the rights of your book? The “other” places aren’t so bad in fact they should be given some considerable thought before you decide to just hand over your e-book rights to Amazon.
One reason you may want to consider other places for the rights to your e-book is your book will be in many places not just Amazon and placs that Amazon does not give you. Sure with Amazon your also given the ole Barnes & Noble deal as well but only after a certain amount of time and even then, we all want our paperbacks in B&N stores not just online on their sites. By choosing other sites to market your e-book your letting your book go to places you can’t get anywhere else. Places like Kobo, Google Play, Apple, etc. You can get your books on many sites by going with places such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords. By choosing these places they distribute your book to all the other sites plus many more above.
With so many places to have your book the big question is why would anyone choose just Amazon? Well let me answer this in two ways. Would you fight one horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses? I know it’s such a cliche but look at it like this: Amazon is the giant sized duck and the other places are the 100 duck sized horses. Some may see that Amazon(the horse sized duck) as the obvious choice whereas other may see other sites(the 100 duck sized horses) as the clear choice, it really depends on the person. The other analogy I’ll use is quality over quantity..in a sense. Let’s say Amazon is the Quality, their well known, it’s a quick and easy process and you know your book is in good hands. On the other end however you have quantity, your book gets distributed to several different sites spreading the wealth that is your book to more sites and can be seen by a lot more people. So which should you choose? Again that is your decision and it depends on the person.
I won’t make the decision for you as its only one you can make for yourself but I’ll give you my personal idea and perhaps you’ll consider it. If you have more than one book or book series perhaps you should test both waters. Have one of your books series exclusive to Amazon and then make another sole book of yours through other channels. Test them out and see how they do and if one is doing better than the other then maybe it’ll make you decide to bring all your books to one channel. It seems like an easy thing to do but then again not everyone is about variety and everyone has different opinions and ideas. I have five books and four of them are exclusive to Amazon and only one is not. The book that’s not exclusive to Amazon I haven’t seen a single sale from any other channel however in my own defense I haven’t really pushed the envelope and tried to market to those channels either. Perhaps the time is now. So is Amazon the place to be? Should you be on several other channels? Decide for yourself but remember no matter what road you go down and what option you choose, it’s not wrong but right for you.
|Posted on July 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM||comments (0)|
Harry Potter, Sebastian Grey, Katniss Everdeen, Holden Caufield. We know them well as they are some of literatures most popular characters. Their names resonate with us the minute we hear them. We know immediate what book they are in and even if we haven’t read a single book their in we likely know a little bit of who they are. Why is this? Well aside from the obvious of some names being the associated with the title of the book, names are everything when it comes to characters. In order for a novel to stand out it needs a strong main character who will take on a challenge or adventure or connect and seem real to a reader. One way this can be done is by giving that character a name, a name that will not only represent what that character stands for but will stand out among the rest. How important is it to give your character a fitting name? It’s necessary and essential to your stories very existence. Sure you can name your characters John Smith, Emily Jones or James King but your not giving them identity, your not giving them a name that will stand out among the top names listed in the beginning. A character name needs to stand out, when you read it you immediately know who they are or when you see their name it gives you a sense of intrigue and makes you want to read and know more about them. How important is the naming of a character? More important then you would think.
Harry Potter. If you really think about it the name seems rather generic if you take out the fame that now comes with it. Before Harry potter was written the name could have easily gone unnoticed as seen as a common one. However now anytime we see the name Harry Potter we immediately associate it with the book series of a boy wizard. So while this shows that it is possible to take a generic name and turn it into a popular one it’s still better to give your character a unique name that stands out above the rest so people can easily know what they are from. The other names listed above are all unique and catch your eye. While Harry Potter and Sebastian Gray are names a real person could have how many people have you met that have the names of Katniss Everdeen or Holden Caufield? Probably none and if you have they are likely named after the characters. Many writers would not think to give any deep thought when it comes to naming a character. They think that the setting, plot and character details are important and a name is just a name. Yes perhaps that’s true but you need to give that setting, plot and character detail substance and that starts with what you think is the easiest thing of all..naming your character. A writer can pick a common name and still make that character stand out but if a writer really wants to get people to read their book or even just be original they need to think deep about what name they want to represent their book and their character.
A little bit of research is necessary in the naming of a character as well. If you book is set in China and your character is from there then naturally your going to give your character a Chinese name. If your character is from another country then you want to give them a name that originates from that country. If you really want to get into detailing and representing what your character is about you could even look up the meaning of a name and give the character that name so they live by the very name they were given. Origin, originality and a strong powerful visual of the name can really make your character seem very real. How can you come up with a great sounding name for your character? Look up names alphabetically, look up baby names, look up names from a certain country, ask people, watch movies. You can get names from so many sources its about choosing the right one that may be a difficult task but when you find the right one you’ll know. So remember the next time you need to decide and come up with a name for a character to sit down and give it some thought. Don’t use John Smith, Joe Schmo or Jane Doe, be original, be unique and give your character a name that not only represents your book but you can be proud to say you came up with your made your own.
|Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
Videos. We all watch them and we all enjoy them. Whether it’s for entertainment value or to gain information and knowledge. Many make videos in order to demonstrate a feat or to teach others their knowledge on a topic. For authors this is no different but are videos a good marketing tool for them? I’ve come across several articles and heard from many people that as an author you should be making videos. Whether it’s a small video or a long one you should be getting out there and recording video of yourself or something in order to gain a following and provide entertainment and info for people to let them become interested in you and your work. You know those articles and people I mentioned? Yes they’re in the book marketing industry meaning they mainly want to help and they write non-fiction. So it’s easy for them to make videos as they have plenty to provide but if you’re a fiction author is making a series of videos a good tool? Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen lists of things fiction authors can do to provide valuable content to their videos in order to gain followers and reach their audience but the big question here is, is it a practical tool for a fiction author to do?
Video marketing is no doubt huge right now. Some of us have the attention span of fish and it’s why they say we need to get in on the video trend now. We need to be able to entertain or educate when doing videos or otherwise we risk the viewer tuning out and looking into something else. A video shows people that you are for one real and seeing you let’s them know whose behind the content and why they should care. A video in the sense of marketing for an author is to let people know you value and care about what you do and you wish to get your point across and what better way then to showcase yourself or your words or a slideshow? I personally feel as though it’s easier for non-fiction authors to provide solid video content because they are likely being shown talking about and teaching information that people can use and apply to help them. Fiction authors on the other hand have to be more creative and really think about what they want to put in their videos. As you may be able to tell from this I don’t do video outside of book trailers. Should I? I want to know what I could record video doing and I want to know if it would be worth it. Seeing as it’s the thing to do right now I say it’s worth taking a shot but from an overall standpoint I ask whether it’s truly worth doing and if it’s for everyone.
So are videos a good marketing tool? While I am asking I am leaning toward yes but also that they aren’t for everyone. I say they should be made by both non-fiction and fiction writers but again they aren’t for everyone but should at least be tested to see if they work for that individual. A video should be like a book in the sense of what I stated earlier, it needs to either entertain or educate or both. Remember Vine? Vine lives on in memory and in irony in the sense that you took quick videos and now it’s as gone as quick as it’s purpose. Vine may have been small quick videos but the idea behind it was simple, if you can get people’s attention in a short amount of time then your doing something right. Is video right for you? I have been asking myself this for some time and the more I hear I should be doing it the more I feel I should at least give it a shot. The plan of action should be to at least try it if you aren’t doing it already and have a goal and idea in mind before hand. Is video a good marketing tool? All signs point to yes but I say the verdict is still out as to whether or not it’s a proven asset for everyone.
|Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
My Writing Influences/Inspirations
One question I get as a writer is who are your writing influences? Who inspires you? I’m sure you get asked the same thing. The response should come out of you as quick as it was asked because let’s be honest here, we’ve had plenty of time to think of this question. These are people who are the reason to why we write, what got us started on this path and made such an impact on us that we thought, you know what? I want to become a writer and author. So who are my writing inspirations? Well as you know I am both a writer and poet so I have quite a mixed bunch of writers but here are some of my influences and inspirations.
Edgar Allan Poe-
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Whether you’ve read my Macabre Masterpiece books or just read a horror story by me you can clearly see the evidence of Poe. Like most people I read The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and many more of Poe’s work in school the only difference is I kept reading long after I got out of school. I already liked horror and I felt Poe’s words were creepy and morbid yet chilling, true and captivating and it’s this very thing to which has inspired two books and my love for horror. Aside from writing two books of horror poetry I have also written stories with an essence similar to Poe’s and I’ve even paid homage to him in a blog post. In many ways Poe is a great part of my writing life and like many of us who enjoy him I’m sure it will continue on for as long as I write.
This one may be a surprise. Rod Serling is mostly known for “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery”. What people may not know is that he wrote many stories to which became episodes for the shows. I absolutely love The Twilight Zone so naturally Rod Serling’s adaptations and writings really resonate with me. While I mainly just watch The Twilight Zone I have read one of his books and found the tales to be just as odd as an episode of TZ. If you’ve read any of my work you tend to get a sense of weird plots, twist endings or things that just aren’t normal. Well this is because of my admiration for Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. The man was ahead of his time and I’m just one of many people he’s influenced but nevertheless I am grateful that someone like him has such a creative mind because it’s helped in the creation of mine.
Seriously Justin? Yes, seriously. Most people find Shakespeare boring or confusing and I would totally agree with you..but that also didn’t stop me from enjoying his work and being inspired by him. One reason I consider Shakespeare an influence and inspiration is because of the fact that he pretty much created his own language and his simplicity to truly make a drama a drama as well as his way to write a poem. The way he wrote and how he wrote are confusing but the fact that there’s meanings hidden behind his words is what gets me. I like being able to write something and the person has to read it a few times to understand, I like doing that and it’s because of Shakespeare. I find his sonnet’s brilliant and some of his plays tolerable especially Macbeth so yes Shakespeare is an inspiration of mine.
You may not recognize his name but you’ve probably seen some of his work. Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, The Big Bounce, etc. He also wrote the tv series Justified on FX. I started reading Leonard after I began watching Justified. After I read one of his books I was hooked. I enjoy the way he tells a story whether it’s crime or a western. He really creates a visual of the scene in a book and the characters are likable and that really spoke to me. After reading a few of his works and watching a few movies I was inspired by him. I tend to keep reading more of his books to become more inspired by him.
Frost is an inspiration because of the beautiful way to which he wrote poetry. Also I find “The Road Not Taken” to be a great metaphor for life that I find myself using frequently in my own life choices. I haven’t quite read as much Frost but I’ve read enough to be inspired and influenced by him.
I’m not sure if this is surprising or an of course you are because every poet is somehow inspired by her. I am inspired by Emily Dickinson for the somber way in which she told a poem. Her sadness spoke volumes and sometimes when I’m sad I find myself channeling my inner Emily trying to find the words to express how I feel.
This one probably surprises people. Hughes has a few poems that are quite short but the meaning and feeling behind them are so strong and powerful that one can’t help but feel inspired. I like Hughes for his realness, his ability to capture your attention in such quick simplicity. He is an underrated inspiration of mine.
Like most kids during the 90's I grew up reading Goosebump books. I didn’t read much but when I did I collected and read the Goosebumps series. Stine wrote for children and teens so I feel when it comes to dimmed down horror I take my inspirations from him. Also some of his ideas are pretty creative.
|Posted on June 5, 2017 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
One thing I have been hearing since I first became an author was how you should “Build an E-mail list” or “Build an Author Platform”. At first I didn’t really understand it and then after I found out more about it I felt it didn’t apply to me or that I couldn’t do it. For a while I kept coming across the idea and seeing others talk about it and insist it’s importance while I continued to brush it off. Recently I have found out even more about building an e-mail list such as how it works, what a person needs and how they can build and gain followers. There are several things I have come to realize that all authors need in order to build an e-mail list. I’m sure everyone knows of these or at least has a general idea of them but I would still like to go over them as I would like to share my findings and thoughts about them.
I realized is that building an e-mail list requires you to use an exterior mass e-mail site or app such as MailChimp. Call me crazy but I was always under the assumption that you could use your regular e-mail and that made me think it was time consuming and even an out of date practice. I guess we all have silly thoughts when we don’t know the first thing about something and don’t do our research. I have come to realize now that sites like MailChimp help with the e-mail list process and allow a person to message their followers and subscribers all at once. I decided to go with MailChimp because it’s the one site I’ve heard about most often and most recent so bare with me if you use another similar site. I have started using it for a second time(first time I was not ready and didn’t have anything planned out) and it’s been a bit of a stressful headache. It took me a while to get used to but I was able to create a profile and upload some members from my website along with others who have given me their e-mail because they requested I add them when I get a list started.
A landing page. For the longest time I didn’t know what a landing page was. Sure I had seen them countless times on websites but never gave a thought as to what they were, how they worked or that they had their own name. A Landing page is a page on your site or a page that pops up when you click a link. It’s purpose is to get people to join your e-mail list and of course you should give something in exchange for their e-mail such as a free book or access to something. When I typed in “What is a landing page?” It gave me a page that lists sites that allow you to create one, I went with the first one, Instapage. I had no problem making a landing page after I figured out how everything worked of course. My issues were well. hopefully questions everyone else has had. Where do I put my landing page? How do I set it up to connect people to my e-mail list? Where and how do I promote a landing page? Luckily MailChimp allowed me to sync my list and account to Instapage so anytime someone becomes a follower it adds them. I still have a bit of learning to do but I sent out my first mass e-mail to my followers and so far so good.
Another thing I have realized is that while building an e-mail list sounds intimidating, seems challenging and time consuming you have to at least try to build one because you need people who enjoy what you have to say, what your write and the work you put out. It’s hard enough putting out a work to everyone and then trying to promote and market it. A list of followers that you can e-mail allows you to have just that, a following. If these people are into your work then they are the first people you tell, they are the ones who will be interested and maybe even help spread the word about you and your work and build your list. I recently watched a webinar where this author went from having no sales and no followers to over 30,000 followers and an annual income so high that he was able to quit his day job. Now I’m not saying that this will happen for everyone but it should at least serve as a goal, as something to look at and make you realize that building an e-mail list not only works but isn’t all that bad if you really try and apply yourself. So why am I sharing all this with you? Because I want you to know that I’m trying it out, I am finally going to try and build an e-mail list, author platform or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m ready to try to expand my reach and hopefully gain a solid following and one thing I would love to hear is your thoughts and your experiences on the matter. God knows I’ve seen enough people talk about it already but now my eyes are wide open and I’m ready to try this out and I’d love to hear how building an e-mail list has worked for you or maybe how it hasn’t whatever your thoughts and experiences are I’d like to hear them.
So it’s been two years since I wrote this post so I thought I’d give an update on how it’s gone for me. Started off I only had about 20 subscribers and I didn’t really interact with them. A while back I gained over 400 new subscribers as part of an event I took part in on Facebook. It’s a bit unconventional but at the same time is totally legit. Those who were not interested quietly and quickly unsubscribed and I ended up with around 417. I set up my five e-mails to which all new subscribers receive upon signing up. They got them within a few days and over a week. I even sent them my first book free as well as create a book just for any new subscriber. My results? Well here’s the downside to my new subscribers. Since gaining them I have seen no new reviews on my book and have not had anyone write me back their thoughts on questions I’ve asked them. I have seen a spike in members for a group they can join but it’s been quiet for the most part. However, I also realize that I need to keep up my list and keep writing them to let them be a part of something and give them value. If you don’t interact with them and keep them updated you’ll never see the results you want.
Finally, for those who have a mailing list exactly how many e-mails/newsletters should you send out? You don’t want to come off as a spammer and if your not always busy some e-mails may be forced. You want to set up a series of e-mails your subscribers will automatically receive upon signing up. You can spread them out to when they will send, every couple days or a week are usually recommended. After that It’s good to touch base with them upon your choosing. I would suggest once or twice a month so they are updated but your also not bombarding them with e-mails. Since I wrote this e-mail I have since started using Mailerlite, a site that allows free e-mail automation unlike Mailchimp to which you have to pay. Below are my e-mail lists, one for my crime thriller fans and the other for my horror and horror poetry fans.
|Posted on March 13, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Are you on Pinterest? If not and you don't know what it is, Pinterest is a social media site that allows you to create "boards" of pretty much anything that interests you. You find pictures on the site called "pins" and you pin these images to boards of that particular topic. You can also upload outside images to the site and put them in boards. As a writer I find Pinterest very useful as it gives people a way to see what interests me, gives me a way to put images related to my books and it helps me with promoting and marketing. With that being said, here are five reasons you should be on Pinterest.
5. Everyone Else is Doing It-
Okay so normally when you hear everyone else is doing it, it usually means you shouldn’t but in this case you should. Your most likely using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so Pinterest should be the next place for you to be on for social media. It’s similar to Instagram but the setup is a bit different in terms of pins and also how you reach people also differs. The best part of Pinterest is you’ll have fun putting together boards of things your interested in and what your audience is interested in which is..why you should be on there because everyone is doing it and some of that “everyone” could be your potential audience.
4. Fun and Necessary-
Most social media is designed so we can reach people and we have fun doing it. Whether it’s for business reasons, connecting with friends or even airing out our dirty laundry(drama) we have fun doing it. The thing I find unique about Pinterest is not only do I feel I need to be on there putting out valuable content but I have fun relating that content out. This is the case with any social media site or site in general, you want to put out that quality content but if you don’t have a bit of fun doing it then are you really making the most of your opportunity? Pinterest’s setup, boards and connecting with people are all devised in such a way that it makes for a unique experience that you will find is both necessary, fun and most of all it works.
As stated in #5 your likely already on the most used social media sites so why not change it up or expand your reach? Sure all sites aren’t for everyone but you should at least take a chance on Pinterest. You will find you can like so many things that others also like and you can target people and reach your potential audience all because you decided to expand your social media and try a new site.
2. Other Sites Aren’t Cutting It-
If your like me certain sites work for you while others just simply aren’t. This is similar to diversity but in this case your trying Pinterest because other sites just aren’t your style, pace and you can’t get into a rhythm on there. So if other sites aren’t helping you out then give this one a try. Maybe it’s for you maybe it’s not but at least take the time to try it out and see how it goes. Also it’s important to remember you can never be on too many social media sites but if some aren’t working for you perhaps it’s time to swap out some in place of new ones.
1.You Can Reach Your Audience-
This sounds familiar does it? Well it should seeing as I’ve mentioned it in the other four. One thing about Pinterest is you can create a board for pretty much anything. As a writer you can create boards for promoting and marketing, your genre, quotes, other authors, characters, etc. You’ll find that not only do people share some of these interests but some are readers or people looking for new material to check out, enter: you! Chances are people will like your boards and if they are really interested they may check out your blogs, your site and even your work. It all depends on which stuff you post and share. Not only will you make a connection and get shares but you’ll likely in some way reach your audience and after all that’s what you want more than anything.
Feel free to check out my Pinterest board @ http://www.pinterest.com/JustinBienvenue and feel free to follow me if anyone of my boards interests you.
|Posted on January 30, 2017 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you. If you’re like me then you genuinely thought the same thing, most celebrities don’t write their own books. This bothers me and it’s for a few certain reasons to which I will explain. Before I explain why let’s get to the big question, why don’t celebrities write their own works? Well the sad part is many will claim they do to which when journalists dig deeper and find out the celeb didn’t write their own book the individual gets all defensive or will insist they did. So why don’t most of them write their own books? They’re celebrities, that would mean they actually have to work, to sit down ad do something. They live busy lives so when they aren’t busy and want to stay in the public eye they will come up with the idea of writing a book, only they don’t write it, they have ghost writer’s, publicists or an actual writer to do it for them. Here are reasons why I find it personally insulting that celebrities come out with books and then claim they wrote them and why you should to.
1. Best-Seller? They Didn’t Write It!- One thing any author will tell you whether they’re traditional or self-published is to become a best-selling author. It’s hard enough for any author to compete against famous authors who are sure in best-sellers like Stephen King, J.K Rowling, Stephanie Meyer or E.L James so imagine how an author must feel when they find out a celebrity has a book out and it’s a best-seller and that celebrity most likely didn’t write it? Celebrities such as Snooki, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber and Nicole Richie just to name a few have all come out with books which have within a week have become best sellers. What’s the problem? I’m positive they didn’t write their own books. It’s upsetting to know that us authors struggle to promote and market a book and all a celebrity needs to do is say they wrote one and they get all the publicity and sales in the world for it despite not really doing anything then talk to the person that wrote it. As an author it’s a painful thing all to real these days.
2. Book Signings Turnout Through the Roof- Naturally any time a celebrity makes an appearance somewhere the turn out is huge, in the thousands or even the millions. This means that they have tons of people coming out to have their book signed just so they can meet the celebrity which means it really isn’t about the book at all. Sure, some dedicated fans will read the book but I feel it’s mainly all a ploy for the celebrity to make an appearance just so they can benefit and stay in the spotlight. As authors, many of us struggle to market out books offline unless of course we one, know people and have good connections or two, we are famous.
3. B,C,D-List Celebs Making Profits- I don’t typically go around marking which celebrities are top list stars but let’s be honest we kind of have an idea of where certain people fall. So what can be worse than being buried on getting to the best sellers list then famous authors and celebrity A-listers? Knowing celebrities that are barely even known are getting to the top-sellers list. Yes obviously they have more connections than you do but they are also barely as known as you are or just simply in the spotlight for being in the spotlight. They don’t really do anything. So yes they could write their own books but they most likely don’t and it’s all the more reason you should be offended as an author.
4. They Don’t Need The Royalties- If they truly wrote the book and they really cared, they would donate all proceeds of their royalties to charities but let’s be serious and realistic about this. How many of the celebrities that I listed above and the ones you like do you think donate their royalties? Probably not many. Call me crude for making such an assumption but I’m going to say I think it’s accurate. Yes as authors we are in it for the enjoyment because we love to write, because we want readers to enjoy our work but for some of us we rely on those royalties so imagine a celebrity making a ton off a crappy book their connection wrote for them that ends up a best seller and they make a ton off it they don’t even need. The older celebrities that write memoirs and auto-biographies will very likely donate their royalties away because they’ve accumulated enough over the years not to carebut for the rest? Greed, greed, greed.
5. 15 Minutes of Fame- A celebrity makes one film or stars in one show or does one momentous thing. They then decide to capitalize on this by writing a book. This book of course becomes a best-seller because that person is hot right now coming off appearances. This is what we know as 15 minutes of fame. We all sometimes want it but for the book industry? No. We as authors bust our butts and make a living doing what we love. We love to write and we make this our careers so how would you feel if a celebrity decided to go off on a whim and write a book just because they are “trending” right now? Exactly, they are hardly doing anything to market or promote themselves and yet you’ve been doing this a while and you’re lucky you can get any recognition. Maybe try to do something that gives you 15 minutes of fame?
You can read more on this topic from this article here
|Posted on January 23, 2017 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Weird West, what is it? According to a definition it’s a literary subgenre of Westerns combined with another, usually horror, science fiction or fantasy. The weird west genre is distinct because it is known for blending not only a typical western with outside elements but also combines fictitious settings and characters with real ones. Meaning you could see a made up character interacting with a notorious western outlaw like Jesse James or riding the western front with Teddy Roosevelt. Despite it’s “weird” term it is to be taken with a grain of salt and a person who wishes to write it should remember to not stir away from the “western” aspects of it because after all westerns in themselves are certainly unique. The western genre really doesn’t need any added tropes or coating so to speak and in many ways seems stern to itself like a firm law book in the crime genre. However the intrigue and fact that someone came along and did change the western genre and did add a fun and strange yet captivating and unique twist makes it all the more powerful and interesting. The genre was first introduced in the 1970's and while it’s hard to imagine it being smaller and virtually lesser known than it already is today it does in fact trace all the way back to the 70's. It became popular during the 1990's by author Joe. R Lansdale who usually combines the original western with a violent and graphic type of horror.
One question one might ask is what goes into making it “weird”? Well aside from the settings and characters there’s a few things that make this so. For one it usually involves a typical Western plot created into a unique one whether it’s a sci-fi element or fantasy one. Also technology is a big factor as weapons are usually modified to a fictional aspect but defined and told in a manner which seems plausible. When you take a strange place a western would not normally take place, add cohesive characters with real life historical figures and give them or have them use modern or created technology you make a weird western. Let this not be all you take from it, there is so much more that a weird west is besides oddities there’s still the gritty feel and aspects that make it a western and this cannot be ignored. A weird western is still a western and I feel many forget that and some just assume it’s crap because they are ruining what makes a western great, not true. You can still have a true to itself western and have the added features that add the weirdness it’s just the author has to be able to create the balance of both. It’s just like any two genres that come together or weird tag that gets added onto a genre, you can still stay true to the core and have a little fun in the process.
One thing that has perhaps given the genre it’s niche of people is the tv shows and movies of it that have been released over the last decade. This like many genres has helped it resonate and find it’s fan base. It could be argued all day long whether or not people read as much as they used to or even read westerns as much as they used to but one thing can be certain is that the weird west has helped bring a lot of younger readers to the western genre. Some tend to ride the line and border of what classifies as a “weird western” meaning despite not having to do with a straight up western the plot and idea is still that of one. This doesn’t seem like a weird western but rather a show or book of another genre. One genre that has evolved from this and people tend to confuse or blend with the weird west is “Steampunk”. In some ways steampunk can be weird west at times but over the last few years it’s taken on it’s own things that make it so. Hollywood has definitely helped in making these genres more profound and acclaimed and while the genre is still relatively unknown there is a group and fan base for it as well as writers and the more exposure it gets then the more the genre will grow. What makes any genre popular is the readers, they cannot be forgotten or be given less credit. A genre can have a ton of writers of it but without readers it’s merely a catchy hobby writers wish to take on together. The readers are what get the writers to write more and give the genre exposure and it seems very evident that this of all genres would be the very definition of this statement.
As a writer of the genre I admit it’s a challenge. Not to write but to write knowing the fan base isn’t out in the open like most but deep within the confines of what classifies as sub-genres. When I read my first weird western I was intrigued and it wasn’t until I wrote my own, A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West that I gained a new found appreciation and understanding of what the genre is and how it could potentially work if enough people tuned into it. What I did however was stick to the basics of what people love about westerns and what Joe R. Lansdale did, write a western and then coat it with weird features. I stuck to what makes a Western a western and only when I did that did I feel it was okay to add the weird elements to it. When you write in such a genre it’s necessary to tackle the main genre first so this way you stay on point and on course. Also like Lansdale I felt the Western horror was the best way to go, for me more so because I feel as though horror is at an all time high right now. So I took a lesser appreciated genre and combined it with one of the most popular and that makes for what? A Weird Western, a genre not really known but appreciated and growing more and more everyday.
|Posted on January 16, 2017 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
Horror poetry? Horror and Poetry? That's quite a combo! This is what I hear when I tell people I write horror poetry. While never turned off by the idea most ponder the two words tgether for a moment before saying one of the three things above which is usually followed by that's interesting. I don't blame them for their surprised reactions I mean who writes horor poetry anymore? Aside from myself I've only come across a few others who are writers of the unique genre. Is horror poetry a thing? I say yes and not because I write it but because like any small niche genre, there's writers of it and an audience for it. I personally became a writer of horror poetry after reading and becoming inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, the legend of horror poetry himself. In many ways I think we are all inspired by Poe when it comes to horror. His way with words so dark and morbid can really resonate with people. I will explain my enjoyment of writing in this genre and what I think of it by responding to quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.
“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.”
Agreed Edgar, it is not yet settled. One must think of us as mad or at least a bit off in the brain to have such enjoyment by combining a genre that is meant to terrify with one that is usually written with real emotion and calm simple feelings. But is horror not what brings out peoples feelings? Feelings of raw emotion such as fear, worry and sadness? I think it is a lofty intelligence and one that only someone who enjoys horror can really explain or understand.
“When I was young and filled with folly, I fell in love with melancholy”
If by melancholy you mean the simple measure and average writing technique that is poetry then I too fell in love with it. I too from a young age fell for things of average meaning and while poetry is not average I believe people think it is so hence the reason it's a melancholy thought.
“A mystery, and a dream, should my early life seem.”
I hear ya there Mr. Poe. I feel at times that my life has been a mystery and at times a dream, but aren't all of our lives like this in a way? We know not what the future holds nor the upcoming present and yet with all that there's still the mystery of life, a dream of an unbelivable notion that some of the things life throws at us we think of it as not reality. By all these things we cherish life, we cherish mystery and we make the most of our slumbering or unslumbering dreams.
"I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty."
Oh preach it Edgar, preach the good word! Poetry is beautiful, rhythmic, stylish and tells a story through feeling. Poetry is a way of life, a beautiful sunrise, a luminating moonlight, a snowflake falling to the ground, a person, a place, anything you can take around you. This in part is why we are able to take horror and mix it with poetry to create beautiful poems(although some may disagree otherwise).
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality."
I see this in two ways. One just as it's written and to be taken and the other as there is no barrier or rule that says horror cannot be poetry or poetry can not be horror. In the deep regions of horror poetry is read and in the deep inner meaning of words written as poetry there is horror. For poetry is like anything else, when it is broken down, horror can be taken from it. It is this taking away that some such as you and I Edgar embrace. For we take the horror and coat our poetry with it, we make the horror the focus, the word, the reality. I think that Edgar is what horror poetry is all about.
If you wish to experience horror poetry then go grab yourself a Edgar Allan Poe book or grab one of my Macabre Masterpiece books.
|Posted on January 16, 2017 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
As an author one thing I rely on is social media. Like many I have my good share of social media accounts but the one I honor and like the most is Twitter. Why? Well for one I've just gotten so accustomed to using it and two it really has a great layout and helps me get what I wish to say and share out to people. So if you're like me then chances are your on Twitter. However, not everyone is doing what they should be on there and they aren't taking advantage of the simplest things that can make their experience so much better, Here are five things you should be doing on twitter to better yourself.
1.Comment Back, RT, and Like Posts-
One thing you should absolutely be doing is commenting back when someone tweets out to you, it's just the nice thing to do. It helps build rapport with people and it shows that you care about your followers and can take a little time to anwser them back. You should also be ReTweeting content of (RT) for short. Whether it's someones pinned post or something someone said that really spoke to you, if it did then retweet it! It's that simple. Studies show the best time to retweet something is at night so while it's not best to tweet during certain times after 5 one thing you can still do is go over your feed and Retweet what you like. Again this shows that you care about what your followers are saying. Then of course there's liking posts. Just like facebook only when you like it, it saves it to your likes list so you can go back and look it over. I myself like things that I plan on going over and can use later on. Liking posts just like the other two shows that you care and value people's content just like you'd want them to value yours.
2. Participate in Chats-
One thing I've recently started doing is taking part in Twitter chats. Chats are a way to become a part of a group that discusses topics that you may care about. For instance since I write I want writing, marketing and promoting tips so I take part in #BookMarketingChat, #TwitterSmarter, which is a way to use twitter to better your marketing and #BufferChat. Taking part in chats can help you and help others so you can all learn off each other and build. What you can do is go to TwitterChat.com and find a chat you may like to be part of or in the likely case your following someone who takes part in some. Chats are a great way to pick up some tips and advice as well as share what you may know on the particular topic. Join in, get a feel of what it's about and take part. It's a great way to meet new people, it's fun anf you learn stuff as well, now how about that?
3. Make Lists-
Another thing I've recently gotten into the habit of doing is making the most of lists. Lists are a way for you to seperate certain followers whose content you value or want in a certain place so you can easily access it. It's good to make your own lists for example I have lists for my Best Followers(people with the blue check marks), Best Twitter Tools as well as people a part of Buffer which I use frequently. Keep the lists small between 5-12 people so you can easily manage it and not lose peoples posts. It's a great way to organize certain followers pretty much. People will add you to lists, I'd recommend ignoring these. A lot of times people will like something you posted and add you to a list like "Awesome user" ignore these, it's for their benefit and there's usually hundreds of people on the list and you'll just follow people whose content isn't relevant to you.
4. Go Through Your Followers
It's always good to clean. When it comes to Twitter this is no different. You may notice your followers number goes down, if your smart you won't care, it's not worth getting upset over it happens. What you can do is go through your own list and see who you no longer wish to or need to follow. What I do is unfollow anyone who isn't following me or if they aren't I try to remember why I'm following them. If they aren't doing either I unfollow them. It's always good to follow someone who follows you but obviously if they don't interest you you don't have to follow back. So go over your followers and filter out what you can, you'll follow new people don't worry. Finally, if they don't have a picture and they have that dumb Twitter egg, unfollow them immediately, just don't follow them, there's no need. You can use a Twitter site/app if you really want help unfollowing people but personally I do it myself as it helps me better manage and I know more about who I follow then the computer may suggest.
5. Manage Your Tweeting Wisely-
The last one is the easiest. Manage what you tweet out and what you want to say. If you want to say something about marketing and know a good time where people will see it then schedule to post it at that particular time. Make the most of your 140 characters. We all have times where we have lots to say but there's not enough room to say it all, that's happens. Condense what you have to say and make it work. If you want to reach people then throw in two fitting hashtags so more people will see, but don't use more than two, the more you hashtag the less it'll be seen. If your like me you tend to tweet about your main topic mine being writing, promoting, marketing, books, etc. However you can also be personal and be yourself every once in a while too. The idea is you want to manage your time on Twitter wisely and accordingly. The better you manage, the better results and the better results te better you'll feel.
If you liked my 5 simple tips and want to get a better idea of these practices then feel free to follow me @JustinBienvenue