Social media for dummies

cover one

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was with the type-setters for most of the last week. I have just got a version back. It is looking more like a proper book every day. I can now announce, to much fanfare, that the book will be 300 pages long. If you don’t learn anything else today, at least you now know the length of my pride and joy.

While I was waiting for the type-set version to be returned to me, I spent some time gazing at the book’s cover. I must have looked at it for hours. Eventually I saw the spelling mistake. Isn’t it funny how your eyes/brain automatically corrects things like this?

I also spent some time this week getting my head around what I can do to give my book the best possible chance of being noticed.

I am not sure I am any further forward now than I was this time last week though. Boy have I got a lot to learn.

If no one has written ‘social media for dummies’ yet then it is about time someone did!

I started off with facebook. Straightaway I decided that it would be a good idea to keep my drunken ramblings and photos on my personal account separate from the professional image I want to portray on my author account. No one who is considering buying my book wants to know what I got up to in ‘The Nook’ in Weymouth the other Saturday night… No one wants to see my mum putting photos of my dog up there either.

I read a few articles and set about making myself an ‘author page’ on facebook. The page looks good. I have posted some of the stuff that I have talked about in this blog to that page and I will add updates regularly as my author journey continues. Everyone can write on that page if they feel so inclined. https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Ben-Adams/582854708503738

But I am discovering that having an author ‘page’ is different from having an author profile. I can’t ‘like’ or even ‘follow’ others from my author page. Unless I am missing something, if I don’t use my personal account, I can only interact with others on my page. I can’t post anything to their pages. That feels a bit selfish to me.

It also makes me wonder how people will find my page. I can’t send friend requests out from a ‘page’ so how can I build up a community?

I have been tweeting about my facebook page this week (@benadamsauthor). But that’s really boring. There is nothing I hate more than dull tweeters. Except, maybe, for Downton Abbey.

In theory at least, I have linked this blog to my facebook account too, but knowing me, my technical knowledge may have resulted in me linking it to a porn site instead.

I could pay for adverts that attract people to my facebook page but that just sounds like a total waste of money.

I guess I just post interesting content and hope people stumble across my site. They may search for it when ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ actually comes out in the new year.

This doesn’t seem a particularly satisfactory answer though. Can anyone tell me what I am missing?

When I haven’t been getting frustrated with facebook, I have been compiling a list of potential reviewers for my book. There are lots of people who appear keen to review contemporary fiction. I have got a good list together and have composed an email that I will personalise and fire off as soon as I have discussed the optimum publication date with my publicist. So fingers crossed I will get a few reviews in within that all-important first month. I will keep my toes crossed too in the hope that the reviews are half-decent!

Thanks to those of you that volunteered to review the book via this blog.

Ben

One step closer to publication: the writer’s journey continues

IMG_0128.JPGMy debut novel, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is one step closer to being released.

I wasn’t particularly attentive in my English grammar lessons some twenty-five years ago so I was quite worried about the latest hurdle – an in-depth scrutiny of my work by a professional pedant, sorry I mean proof-reader.

As it happens, the proof-read wasn’t too painful and it has certainly enhanced the quality of my book. All the commas are now in the right place, the tenses present and correct, the apostrophes where they should be (although my proof-reader tried to insert one into a reference to Frankie and Bennys which irked me somewhat) and the paragraphs are all of the required length.

So why isn’t ‘Six Months…’ out there now, available to download?

Well, it isn’t out there yet because I want to create some interest in it first. I don’t want a damp squib of a launch, where my mother and my closest mates are the only ones to register that the book exists.

I want people I have never met before to have heard of the book and to want to read it.

How do I achieve this? Well, if I am honest, I haven’t got a clue.

I could run naked around the streets of London waving the cover around. After careful consideration I have dismissed this idea for a whole host of reasons, most prominent amongst which is the fact that people would be put off rather than turned on.

I could bombard people with tweets about my book for the next few months, but that has been done before. It just bores people stupid.

I could… er, pay a professional who knows what he/she is doing to promote my book. Which, in fact, is what I have done.

I have employed a publicist. The publicist comes as part of the package I bought to help me produce the book. To date, this package has included some excellent editorial support and cover design. The company concerned is currently type-setting the book too.

I have read about the merits or otherwise of paying someone to help you publish your book. Some people frown upon the sort of services that I have bought. They say things like ‘either do it all yourself or get yourself an agent and publishing deal’. Well, I haven’t got the time or the expertise to do it all myself and I couldn’t be bothered to write off a gazillion letters to agents. So I have gone with the hybrid approach of retaining control of my book’s publication but paying to bring in expertise as and when I need it.

I have wanted to write a book for ages. I took the decision to invest in my dream to give it the best possible chance of being successful.

I am expecting the publicist to produce a press-release, picking out a newsworthy angle related to the book and then touting the book to international and national publishing media. Who knows what level of interest the book will receive via that route.

In addition, having read numerous accounts from other self-published authors, I have decided to supplement my publicist’s work by contacting book review bloggers. I have got my material ready to send once I receive the type-set version back.

I am apprehensive about what the reviewers will say. Will they even agree to review my book? They must get hundreds of requests to review books. If they do review it, will they like it? So far, my twelve year old son and my editor are the only people to have read my book. My son read it on his kindle which is linked to my account and only confessed to having read it after he had finished it. He liked it but that is probably because it had the ‘f’ word in it a couple of times.

I am proud of my book. I believe that it is written to a good standard, but what I can’t be sure of until the reviews start coming in is whether the story will capture the reader’s imagination. The risk is that the book will be launched in January 2015, not to a fanfare of endorsements but to a deluge of mediocre reviews.

I guess I have just got to put it out there and see what happens.

If you would be interested in receiving an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for writing a review (with no obligation for the review to be anything other than honest), I would love to hear from you. Either DM me via @benadamsauthor on twitter or leave your email address as a comment (I won’t publish the comment but will see it).

Feel free to comment on any other aspect of this blog post too.

Ben

Book extract: living with your parents…

My book is finished, except for a final professional readthrough from a professional proof-reader. Those of you that have been following my journey from the start (you deserve a reward!) will appreciate what a long journey this has been. It took me a few months to write what I thought was a decent book. It took my editor a month to compile her comments and it has just taken me a month to respond to them.

I am now really proud of the (virtually) final manuscript.

What happens next? Well, I will no doubt have to wait a while to get the final proofed version back. I am also doing some work on my author website. I am paying someone to develop and work with me on implementing a marketing strategy. We shall see whether this is value for money or not in due course.

The ultimate aim is to publish the book early in the new year.

I thought I would share another extract from the book with you all. Feel free to tell me what you think.

Living with my parents isn’t easy. Having your old bedroom back more than twenty years after you left home and sharing the house with your parents is a big change from having your own kids, house, garden, telly and wife (yes, in that order). This significant step backwards in my life has taken some getting used to. I have to remind myself to abide by my parents’ rules while in their house. Rules like washing up straight after a meal rather than when there aren’t any clean dishes left in the cupboard and cutting my toenails in the bathroom not in front of the telly. Talking of the telly, I also have to make sure that the next time I watch playboy tv when everyone else has gone to bed, I turn the channel back to BBC before I turn the tv off. Mum is still getting over the embarrassment of having her women’s institute friends thinking she watches porn.

Having me as a lodger isn’t easy for my parents either, especially at their age. They are both approaching their seventies. They are physically fit but my dad had a hip replacement last year and needs the other one doing too so he is temporarily less mobile than he would want to be. Mum could probably still climb a mountain faster than me and both of them can drink faster than me.

Before I moved in, they were very set in their ways. They had a routine for what rooms in the house they would sit in at different times of the day (kitchen in the morning, conservatory in the afternoon, front room in the evening). Meals were served at 1 o’clock and 6 o’clock and after dinner they would listen to The Archers then move from the radio to the telly in time to watch the soaps. They would go to bed straight after the 10 o’clock news.

Except for a short but explosive teenage stroppy period, I have always got on with my parents. We don’t do cuddles and all that stuff, but pre divorce, I used to go round there once a week with the family, have dinner, play board games and generally drink too much London Pride. I made another of my vows when I moved in with them. I wouldn’t just use their house as a hotel. I would make the effort to continue spending quality time with them. This isn’t proving easy.

‘Quality time’ these days seems to mean sitting around a kitchen table littered with empty London Pride cans and Prosecco bottles, picking my life apart. Now anyone over the age of two would probably be capable of picking my life apart. But my mum and dad consider themselves uniquely qualified to do the job with a forensic precision. They were both social workers in their former lives. My mum used to do something worthy with the parents of children with disabilities and my dad used to manage a ‘family services unit’, whatever that means.

There is only so much frowning over my previous life choices or suggestions about future life choices that a man can take. I reached my limit today. Mum cooked a traditional Sunday roast, beef and all the trimmings. We washed it down with our usual beverages. Our plates were empty, our stomachs full and our tongues alcoholically lubricated when mum asked me where it all went wrong.

‘What do you mean ‘where did it all go wrong’?’ I asked.

‘With your life, Graham. How did it come to this?’ She even did that palms up, arms outstretched hand gesture thing when she said ‘my life’, presumably meaning everything. Where did everything go wrong? Thanks mum, build me up, bolster my confidence.

I thought about going for a glib response but the earnest look on mum’s face made me change track.

‘I don’t know mum, I guess my marriage just wasn’t meant to last.’ Ok so it wasn’t exactly an insightful answer but it was the best I could do.

‘That’s nonsense and you know it Graham.’ mum continued. ‘Marriages need to be worked at. It wasn’t as if either of you had an affair or anything that drastic. Surely you could have worked through your differences?’

‘You didn’t even see a marriage guidance counsellor.’ dad chimed in. We did actually but I hadn’t told them about it because they would have had a go at me for walking out in the middle of a session.

And so it went on, two against one, tag-team wrestling. My parents still seem to think the sun shines out of my ex’s backside. They act as if she is their daughter rather than me their son. They still hold out a hope that my perfect ex will have me back. I wouldn’t go back even if she would have me back. Which she wouldn’t.

I have told my parents time and again that my ex and I split up because of our terminal irritability with each other, our mutual intolerance of each other, our irreconcilable tv viewing schedules. We just didn’t like each other. I tried to explain that to my parents but, to them, not liking your other half doesn’t constitute grounds for divorce.

‘You should have paid more attention to her when you had her.’ dad advised. Why didn’t I think of that?

‘Those poor children.’ mum offered. Why didn’t I think of them too? I was on the ropes by this point, being seriously double-teamed by my parents, but wasn’t about to submit.

‘Bloody hell, will the two of you just leave me alone. I have had it with your sniping at me. You might have been married for ever but all you ever do is sit on your arses watching crap on the telly. I’d prefer to be single and living than married and dead.’ The ‘atomic drop’, the ‘full nelson’ and the ‘gorilla press’ all combined in to one move. That told them.

‘Happy mother’s day.’ mum muttered as I was heading for the door. Shit.

At this point, I think I should make a confession. Being divorced, separated from my kids and my marital home (not to mention my ex) is quite stressful. It is quite a large upheaval in my life and may just have caused a slight emotional imbalance in my otherwise rock-solid equilibrium. In other words, I may be a bit self-centered at the moment, even a bit emotionally unstable. Not to the extent that I am about to charge around Morden with a lethal weapon killing random strangers, but enough that I may snap at my parents from time to time.

I need to put an end to alcohol-influenced conversations about my life.