Wasting Time Worrying about a Cup

I normally don’t care that much about Starbucks. Yes, they make good coffee, but I buy it maybe twice a year. Why spend $3 when I can get decent coffee for free in the break room at work?

So the red cup controversy that’s going on now seems ridiculous. Christians (and people in general) have better things to worry about than becoming like the rest of the population: super sensitive and offended by every little thing. I don’t see the Starbucks holiday cup design as infringing on my freedom of speech or encroaching on my rights as a Christian in this country.

Honestly, I like the minimalist design. It’s better than the company overdoing it by plastering logos and symbols for every major winter holiday all over the cup in an attempt at inclusivity.

The best response to this “controversy” that I’ve heard so far is (I’m paraphrasing), “Let’s put ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christian’ before we worry about putting ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas.'” Really, people. If you consider yourself a Christian, then you know that there are much bigger issues going on in the world and much bigger battles to fight over than a dang paper cup.

A Rant about Marketing

This is technically Part II of this post, which ended with the thought that if you’re not on social media sites, but if you have something that you would like to promote and sell (like writing, music, or art), you’re at a disadvantage.

To successfully market a product today (any kind of product), you have to be on social media, at least in some capacity, simply because the majority of the world is on social media. By “social media,” I mean sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. A blog is technically social media, but I have a strong feeling that most people today don’t read blogs unless said blog is super popular. They would prefer to look at pretty pictures and moving images instead, which is why we have a proliferation of GIFs and even YouTube trailers for upcoming books, but I digress.

Anyway… it’s commonly acknowledged in most writing/publishing guides that writers are not the most social creatures in the world and thus not necessarily the most ebullient promoters. But to be successful (i.e., sell a significant number of copies [i.e., any number greater than 100]), you have no choice but to promote, and today, that means social media.

I apologize in advance because I have no advice on promoting/marketing your work, so this post is pretty much a rant about selling things. I am the worst salesperson in the history of the planet, especially when it comes to my own work. Back when I was in Girl Scouts, I failed fantastically at selling those delicious cookies because I was (and am) horribly shy, and marketing/sales has always seemed evil to me because a lot of the time, the marketer is trying to convince the potential seller to buy something he doesn’t need.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a big buyer of stuff in the first place. I always feel awkward when I think about eventually selling my book because I rarely buy books, and I even more rarely buy new books (this includes e-books). So it doesn’t feel fair to ask people to buy my books when I don’t even buy books myself.

So my problem isn’t social media, but selling and promotion in general. I always tell myself that when it comes time to promote or sell or market my book that I’m going to try to get away with doing as little as possible, and I will not have any sales goals. I may just put the book out there for free. Or, if I have the fortune to win the lottery, I will pay a marketing company to manage all that promotion stuff for me. They can handle Facebook and all the rest of it. 🙂

In short, I write for fun, and I don’t care about promotion, even though that seems to be the most commonly followed course: You write something, then you try to get some money out of it ’cause money makes the world go ’round.

How do you feel about promoting your work?

Don’t Know if I Wanna Be a Loser

They always tell you that if you are a writer or want to become one, you should read books about writing and publishing. Well, there must not be a ton of writers where I live because the local library has very few books about writing, and the local indie used bookstore doesn’t have that many either. I don’t live close enough to a “brand name” bookstore, and if I were to shop online, I’d buy way too many books and not have nearly enough room for all of them unless I rented a storage unit.

Anyway, my local library finally got a new book related to writing/publishing (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too? by Pamela Fagan Hutchins), so naturally I had to read it. I’m not sure how useful the book was to me because I have yet to decide whether I want to traditionally publish, indie publish, publish through this blog or some other online platform, or not publish at all, but the information was still interesting. But the main reason I write about books is to complain about them because complaining’s always more fun, so here we go:

  • One of my pet peeves, both in real life and in books, is too much snarkiness and sarcasm. It doesn’t strike me as smart or witty; it’s just plain rude. This technique was used liberally throughout the book, which had me kind of resenting the author.
  • The author used herself and her own experience as an example so much that she began to come off as arrogant. Seems to me that if you have a lot of author friends who are also self-published (and if they give you permission), you should include their experiences as examples in your book as well.
  • The book provided a good overview of the subject, but it was only 256 pages long (with a lot of white space and blank pages) and did not have room for really detailed information; however, the author does link to several helpful sources.
  • For all the author’s talk about how good formatting is a must-have when you self-publish, the book is not formatted all that well. (It was published by a very small indie publisher, SkipJack Publishing, which I believed the author launched herself to publish her own books.) There are large gaps between the words on some lines. Long hyperlinks are interspersed throughout the body text, which is also annoying; those could probably all have been relegated to footnotes or end notes.
  • This isn’t about this particular book, just a general observation: Books on publishing, especially self-publishing, need to be updated frequently because they go out of date so quickly; this particular book was published in 2013, which isn’t terribly old, but it’s probably still time for an update. If I were to write a book like this, I would make it an e-book and update it fairly often.

I know I didn’t have too many positive remarks to make about this one, but I can see it being a good reference if you were dead set on following the indie publication path and needed some advice from someone who’s been there. And the author’s work ethic is certainly commendable; I doubt very many self-published authors would go through all the lengths to market their book as described in Loser.