21 July 2011

eBook Marketing Models: If it's good enough for Jerry Garcia, it's good enough for me. (And Jerry only had 9 fingers.)

I saw a Tweet this morning that got me all fired up, something along the lines of '...a professional is somebody who doesn't give his work away.' (I suppose I could find the offending Tweet and just paste it here, but I gots points to make.)

It probably wasn't directed at me (paranoia forced me to type probably) but I took it personally because that's kind of my game right now--getting books to readers. From personal experience I know that thousands of published writers die on the shelf without ever seeing a royalty check. They jumped through the publication hurdles like they were Carl Lewis, but never built a fan base. Second or third books in their series never got published because the first book didn't sell like Snuggies. Maybe some of these guys were pubbed through a smaller press without publicists or marketers telling them what to do at every turn, and maybe some of these were writers who just didn't have the foresight or confidence to grow a fan base ("I'm a writer, not a salesman.")

Now I don't have too many people holding my hand, telling me what works and what doesn't. And a lot of new writers are in the same boat. That's why we hang out on forums and read blogs. I started looking for models from other fields, and this is how I stumbled upon a model that worked.

This time last year, I decided to give a thousand books away because this is similar to what the Grateful Dead did with recordings of their shows. They figured after they played a show it wasn't theirs anymore--it belonged to the fans.And I figured I wasn't selling books. I was selling myself.

In building support for my model I stumbled upon The Grateful Dead and the Tapers: A Distribution Lesson for the Arts where blogger Louise K. Stevens writes, "Face to face interaction with content is what builds audiences far more than all the PR and marketing in the world. Face to face interaction – sure, including via digitized media – that is facilitated by people just like you and me, who think enough of the content to pass it along, is even more likely to build audiences. Too bad that 99.9% of the artists out there have contracts forbidding the very thing that, as Kowasaki puts it, is totally enchanting in the simplicity of methods to build and keep thousands of happy fans. Think of it – a taper section at the concert hall. A taper section at the theatre, the opera. YouTube content that never stops, that is fundamental to audience growth. Encourage distribution, facilitate it, champion it. And watch the line at the box office grow and grow, just as it did for the Dead."

Think she's full of BS too? Then check out Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan. They talk about specific concepts that have made the Dead who they are.

Here's what the Dead have taught me:

The Dead have taught me stay away from the flock. Otherwise I'd still be querying agents. Of course, it can be argued that the new wave of publishing is just another type of flock, which I suppose it is. But since it's a flock of independents, it's more like a flock of mountain lions than a flock of ducks.

The Dead were prolific experimenters (both legal and illegally.) Experimentation yields innovation and keeps the flock on their toes. Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling were both genre outsiders. Maybe that's why Stephen King hates Stephenie Meyer so much? She didn't follow genre rules and play the games that you're supposed to play ("Publish a thousand short stories before you even think about querying...")

The Dead realized that the fans defined them, and didn't have a problem with trying to keep tight control over their music, imagery, iconography. They rewarded loyalty and innovation within the community, especially when it came to merchandise.

The Dead taught me that content belonged to the fans. This is a tough one for some writers to grasp. You can complete the best novel ever written and keep it in a drawer and charge one person a million dollars to read it. Or you can rely on hundreds (then thousands) of people to fall in love with what you do and hope that (and encourage) them to get a few friends to buy the book. This is Marketing 101. Word of mouth, and all that? (Some writers who haven't attempted marketing yet need to keep an eye on what you're posting and those scathing reviews on Goodreads, lest those words come back to bite you square in the ass.)

Most of all the Dead have taught me to do what I love. Don't write to market. Don't follow trends. Don't play it safe. One of the first things I heard as a writer was "..write the book YOU want to read." I took it as the writer saying my stuff would never get read, so I have to write for personal enjoyment only. And now that my stuff is being read I know he meant that you STILL have to write for yourself, first and foremost. Since I put my stuff out there for the world to read I have not had one miserable minute writing. I do not have to be reminded to 'get my ass in the chair' and do not have to be coaxed to keep up word counts. This is fun. Would I do it for free, as a hobby, the way I'm doing it now? Yes. I honestly would. But the fan interaction and checks and the opportunity to work with Raw Dog Screaming Press and Hatch Show Print make so much sweeter.

A friend from Seton Hill posted a link to Seth Godin's blog this morning. It was a short post if you want to check it out for yourself:

Building a job vs. building a business

He talks about the mentality of workers vs. entrepreneurs and it totally validated the way I felt this morning. And I guess what I would've said, if I would've replied to the Tweet was, "I'm not trying to sell books for a few bucks here and there. I'm trying to build something that's going to exist beyond this book, and the next, and the book after that."

And I guess I just did that here.

20 July 2011

THE MUSIC AND PRESTON BLACK The Clash, Lochem Festival, Holland 1982-05-20


    As I made my way up High I pulled out my phone and started to compose a text.
    I kept my phone in my hand while I walked.
    The apartment was dark and cold. I could see my breath. My bed remained unmade. I laid down and tried to call Katy. She didn't answer. I got undressed and tossed all of my clothes into a pile on the floor. I went into the bathroom and started the hot water for a shower. Steam rushed into the hallway, into the kitchen.
    Water scalded me. I turned the cold water up a hair. I hung my head and waited. No music remained in me. "The Sad Ballad of Preston Black" had taken it out of me. In two weeks I'd lived a whole other life. Maybe I should've enlisted back when Stu did. Maybe it should've been me instead of him. I wished it was. Then I could've proven to everybody I was decent. I'd tried for so long to just be decent. Maybe I should've set my goals a little higher than just decent.

Buy the book on Amazon.

If you are not, or have never listened to The Clash, now's the time to fix this. Beside influencing bands like Blink-182, The Offspring, Green Day, U2, The Cure, R.E.M. and Rancid directly, they have influenced hundreds of other bands indirectly by bringing together reggae, ska, hip hop and other forms of electric music. There's a reason they've been called 'the only band that matters.' Seriously. Google it. I'll wait.

The Clash didn't invent passion and weren't the first to turn their guitars up to 11. They were sincere and real and always gave 110%. You can hear that in the show below. They never phoned it in. That's why I love them, I think. I can listen knowing they never played a 'B' show.

Also, been loving THE ULTIMATE BOOTLEG EXPERIENCE and have been getting all my new stuff from them. They do an amazing job of providing high quality shows. If you stop by drop them a quick note of thanks.

The Clash - 1982-05-20 - Lochem, Holland


01. London Calling
02. Safe European Home
03. The Guns of Brixton
04. Train In Vain
05. Clash City Rockers
06. Know Your Rights
07. The Magnificent Seven
08. Ghetto Defendent
09. Should I Stay or Should I Go?
10. Police and Thieves
11. Brand New Cadillac
12. Bankrobber
13. Complete Control
14. Career Opportunities
15. Clampdown

Link for download is here below the setlist.

19 July 2011

Need more Pixies?

Their reunion documentary loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies is up at http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/loudquietloud_a_film_about_the_pixies/

THE MUSIC AND PRESTON BLACK The Pixies, Alexandra Palace, London, Aug 31st 2005


    Besides, the douche bags who worked at Isaac's treated me like I had the musical tastes of a ten-year-old boy. I couldn't help it I never heard of Black Flag or The Pixies growing up. My brother and me were pretty much forced to listen to whatever mom played in the car. Mostly country. Kenny and Dolly singing "Islands in the Stream." Garth Brooks, if we were lucky. Most people didn't have to dig as deep as me to find something they recognized in an old record or song.
    And digging deeper was pretty much what I was doing the day I found my LP misplaced behind Blizzard of Oz. On my way to return it to the BLUEGRASS section the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen stepped out of the stacks. She smiled. I smiled back. She asked what I had in my hand. On the album cover a bunch of anonymous pickers sat in front of an old log cabin. The back of the record said Uncle Mason's Front Porch: Best of the Blackwater Sessions.
    And on the track list, between "Pretty Polly" and "Hangman's Reel" was a song called "The Sad Ballad of Preston Black," written by E. Black.
    I knew right then and there that if I could ever find the man who'd written that song, I'd have found my dad.

Buy the book on Amazon.

Back from the Sunshine State with a vengeance! In between readjusting to Pennsylvania time and keeping a groundhog out of my ten square feet of tomatoes, I found this AMAZING Pixies sbd. If you ain't familiar with The Pixies this is the place to start. (And you should be!) Radiohead's Thom Yorke said The Pixies changed his life, Bono said The Pixies are "one of America's greatest bands ever" and Kurt Cobain said "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it."

You have to download the .txt file to get the links to the show. Kind of a pain compared to Sugarmegs, but there's too much good stuff out there to ignore. Get the .txt file with the links here http://www.megaupload.com/?d=MPP63AZC Many thanks to http://vivalesbootlegs.blogspot.com for the amazing boots!

The Pixies: Alexandra Palace, London.
Aug 31st 2005
Soundboard 192 kbps

1 - Wave Of Mutilation (Uk Surf)
2 - In Heaven
3 - Where Is My Mind
4 - La La Love You
5 - Here Comes Your Man
6 - Blown Away
7 - Holiday Song
8 - Vamos
9 - Winterlong
10 - Into The White
11 - Subbacultcha
12 - Is She Weird
13 - Ed Is Dead
14 - Planet Of Sound
15 - Cactus
16 - Tame
17 - Hey
18 - Caribou
19 - Stormy Weather
20 - Isla De Encanta - Something Against You
21 - Monkey Gone To Heaven
22 - Gouge Away
23 - Bone Machine
24 - Debaser
25 - Wave Of Mutilation
26 - Gigantic