Category Archives: “Oh Duh” Moments

Building Those Marketing Skills…and Twitter Too

Building Those Marketing Skills…and Twitter Too

Building My Twitter Following

I have never been very impressed with Twitter.

Yeah, you heard me right. Go ahead twitterphites and just Unfollow me now.

But here’s the deal, unimpressed or not, I have been actively trying to build my Twitter following for the past three months. Because it doesn’t really matter what I think of Twitter, it matters more that others do like it and do use it.

See? I’m slow, but I’m getting there. Eventually I will become a marketing super-genius!

So each day, I go through at least a dozen emails from Twitter – I see who is Following me and usually Follow them back (except for a small select obnoxious few) and I go through Twitter’s suggestions and Follow folks in the hopes that they will follow me back. I’m averaging over nine new followers each day, and my total is quickly approaching 2,000 Followers.

I might not be sold on Twitter, but I have seen an uptick in book sales. Especially when a particular Tweet finds itself the right audience. The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale is a good example of this. Each time I Tweet “We are not an episode of weeds. I am not Nancy Botwin, but … (paperback) (kindle)” this actor from the series re-tweets my tweet. And I’ll get a book sale. How amazingly cool is that?!

So Twitter might not work for me, but it sure does for others.

Raising My Prices

I bent the ear of a marketing guy the other day and it turns out that I’ve been doing it all wrong.

See, I figured that I’d rather someone read my book, and I don’t want to frighten them off with an overly high figure, so I set my ebook and paperback book prices as low as possible. However, this may have the opposite effect. As the guy said, “It is the perception of quality. Price them cheap and your writing is cheap. Price them higher and obviously your writing is worth more.”


So I’m going to give it a try. Right now, my ebooks range from 99 cents to just $2.99 each, depending on the book. And the paperbacks are anywhere from $9.02 to $9.98. Get them at that cheap price NOW, because the prices are going up.

I’ll be raising the paperbacks to $13.99 and the ebooks to a solid $4.99 each. And we will see how it all shakes out.

Pie in Face

Speaking of Twitter, this should give you a laugh. At least, it did me. The sign of mental health, I can laugh at myself. In fact, I do it quite regularly.

As I was building my Twitter following, and running through the email that listed my newest Twitter followers, a name (and website) jumped out at me., which has an online and in print magazine. And the inspiration struck, similar to a bolt of lightning but just a tad less damaging, WHY had I not thought of contacting the various cannabis/weed magazines and promoting The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale with them?

And while I was dreaming the dream another question occurred to me, Rolling Stone has been writing some weed-centric articles. Why not contact them as well? The worst they can say is “no.”

I swear to you, marketing is such a foreign concept to me. As if the fact that I have written a book (well, four of them) could somehow be magicked into the air, and people would just suddenly KNOW about it without me having to do a single thing!

So a bit of pie in face, if you will, that it has taken me close to two years to figure out that I might need to actually market the book I have written.

And yeah, I’m totally contacting Rolling Stone. What is the worst that could happen?

Don’t answer that. Just…don’t.

Bump in the Road

Bump in the Road

Word of warning. You are probably going to see some higher levels of stream of consciousness, “how the hell do I do THIS?” kind of posts in the days and weeks to come.

Maybe without the higher levels…maybe just an “oh duh” moment or two as well.

Take last Friday morning’s writing adventures for example…

My dad had sent me a link to this list of 19 websites that were looking for writer submissions. Near the bottom of the list was Tin House, which caught my eye and so I followed the link to the magazine to check them out, noticing almost immediately that Molly Ringwald wrote for them. Yes, Molly Ringwald, teen star. Interesting.

I read the sample essay they had posted a link to and found it funny. It reminded me of a growing up story of my own, one where I was obsessed with being called modest (I wanted that title real bad, REAL bad.) and how it didn’t end so well for me. Having read the essay by Rachel Yoder, I felt I had a feel for the magazine, so I sat down and wrote the story out.

I was all set to find out the specifics of submitting it to them for consideration, and so I went to the Submissions Guidelines page to get the nitty gritty details.

Suffice it to say, I should have gone to that before writing the essay.


Apparently they are only accepting submissions along the theme of rejection.

Something tells me I’ll get a rejection all right, if I bother sending this story that has nothing to do with rejection at all!

So now I’ve got a 821 word count essay that, while it might be ‘perfect’ for Tin House, is definitely not in the theme of rejection.

[bigger sigh]

This is yet another bump in the road. It also begs the question, which comes first the article or the entity?

And also, who do I pitch it to now?

I’m getting there. But the road is bumpy. No avoiding that learning curve for me!

Typo Trauma

Typo Trauma

To date, I’ve written three books and self-published them. And let me tell you, proofreading is not an easy task. Each book has been read through at least twice by me (after having written them in the first place) in order to find the typos.

Usually I’ve had at least one other person proofread them as well, sometimes two different people.

Despite this, in all of my self-published books I can still find typos…and it drives me NUTS.

So my latest book The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale was self-published over a year ago. It had a few sales, but mainly it has languished in the virtual stacks of virtual bookshelves (it is an ebook and a paperback print on demand).

So my writer friend suggested I do a free book promo. I agreed, and it ran from last Thursday through last Sunday…over 500 ebooks were distributed free during the promotion. And strange as it may seem, during the promotion I picked up one of my own paper copies and began to read it for the first time in well over a year.

I had forgotten just how much detail and day to day experiences there were in it. But as I read through, my stress levels skyrocketed, there were typos everywhere! Worse, I had inserted a note to myself to add in a fact on how alcohol metabolizes in the body and left it there, without the fact!

I had also accidently switched tenses throughout the book – to the point that it was almost embarrassing to read. In the end, I decided I would have to get my writer friend to go through it with a fine-toothed comb, make the changes, and try once again to do a free ebook promotion in a few months.

Meanwhile, I’m reeling from serious typo trauma!

(reproduced from original post on Bubblews:

Writing – Progress and Setbacks

Writing – Progress and Setbacks

I’m writing…I’m not writing…I’m taking breaks for long holiday weekends, and I’m scrambling to finish War’s End Book 2.

Robert’s Rules continue. Here are the most recent tips…

Tip #24 – Map That Route

Tip #25 – Wing It

Tip #26 – Don’t Look Back

I had to take The Little Book of Talent back to the library, but I did manage to get a few more in before that. I’ve requested the book again, but had to return it for now because it had holds. Here are the other tips…

Tip #4 – Buy a Notebook

Tip #5 – Be Willing to Be Stupid

Tip #6 – Choose Spartan Over Luxurious

Tip #7 – Before You Start, Figure Out if it is a Hard Skill or a Soft Skill

Here’s a little story about How I Learned About Irony.

And yes, I too suffer dreadfully from the disease of procrastination. You can read all about it here.

Despite my procrastinating ways, I’m in the Home Stretch of Finishing my 4th Book!


Once More Into the Breach

Once More Into the Breach

A friend came by yesterday and we visited for about four hours. I hadn’t seen her in what felt like forever and it was so nice to just sit and talk. She’s brilliant, hands down the most intelligent woman I know. That level of intelligence that makes me feel like a slow country cousin.

But she challenges me, not just to keep up, but go further. And because of her visit, I have pulled out the deeply dreaded book query letter and begun to work on it…yet again.

So again, I have “changed my mind” on this whole getting published thing. I leave the possibility open-ended – I may change back again at some time in the future, but for now, I’ve taken down the links to my self-published works, and begun the process of laboriously writing, editing, glaring at, re-writing, and truly agonizing over ever word of my query letter.

I’ve also begun going through the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (having nothing more recent than that to work from) and gleaning a list of agents to market War’s End to.

And through all of it I find the words from Shakespeare reverberating in my ears…

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger.”

And I too will imitate the action of the tiger. Waiting, persevering, trying again and again…but damn, it feels like such a conflict that I am struggling to overcome.

I tried to explain it all away – explain to my friend Felicia that really all I needed was someone to write this query letter for me. She stared at me. “Why in the world would you need that?”

“Because I’ve tried and nothing comes out right!”

She stared some more and then shook her head, “Christine you wield words like men at war wield swords. I think you can manage.”

And with that down-to-earth response, what could I say?

My life is full of these “oh duh” moments.

Young Adult Fiction – Not What I Thought It Was

Young Adult Fiction – Not What I Thought It Was

A year or more ago, my dad suggested I try getting my fictional book, War’s End published in the Young Adult fiction arena. I figured it would take such a massive re-write, including leaving out key parts of the book, that it simply would not be worth it.

I’m thinking twice about this after having finished the Hunger Games trilogy – which is billed as Young Adult fiction.

According to Wikipedia…

Beginning in the 1920s, it was said that “this was the first time when it became clear that the young were a separate generation” (Cart 43); but multiple novels that fit into the YA category had been published long before. In the nineteenth century there are several early examples that appealed to young readers (Garland 1998, p. 6) including The Swiss Family Robinson (1812), Waverley (1814), Oliver Twist (1838), The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857), Great Expectations (1860), Alice in Wonderland (1865), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Kidnapped (1886), The Jungle Book (1894) and Moonfleet (1898).

A few other novels that were published around the turn of the century include Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. In 1937 The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien, was published, and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) also is a beloved by adolescents today. Some claim that the first real young adult novel was The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and that it opened up a whole new eye to what types of texts adolescent readers read. Following this novel, other classic texts such as Harper Lee‘s, To Kill a Mockingbird; Maya Angelou‘s novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; and Toni Morrison‘s, The Bluest Eye all entered the genre of Young Adult Literature as well, along with many others.

Most of these classics I read unabridged, without a school requiring it, and before the age of twelve (as if anyone had any questions about how much I love reading). But the fact that I recognize nearly all of these, and have read most of them, is just the very reason why my image of young adult fiction is so skewed.

I have read classics and the very definition of classic is that it stands the test of time. So all the stuff that has been coming out in the Young Adult arena recently, isn’t a classic yet. Most of YA fiction of today are taut, supernatural, love-obsessed thrillers.

Recently though, I’ve picked up quite a few series written under the “YA” heading. All of them have had one thing in common – at some point during my reading I have closed the book and looked at the spine, yep, it’s considered Young Adult.

Which made me realize that War’s End, although it contains some pretty serious violence, is considered Young Adult…with a few tweaks.

Mainly it seems that the topic of sexual intimacy is danced around and/or implied more than there are any graphic details. The other is that swearing is frowned upon.

Well heck, I can fix that about War’s End! And so that is exactly what I have begun to do.

Yes, Yet Another “Oh DUH” Moment

Yes, Yet Another “Oh DUH” Moment

I was driving back home from the Nelson-Atkins with Emily yesterday when a rather masterful “oh, duh” moment of inspiration hit.

I was thinking about the opening quote in War’s End by James Wesley Rawles. He is the founder of and I have his book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. Actually the quote is taken from that very book.

“There is just a thin veneer of civilization on our society. What is underneath is not pretty, and it does not take much to peel away the veneer. You take your average…suburbanite…get him excessively cold, wet, tired, hungry, and/or thirsty…take away his television, beer, drugs…and you will soon see the savage within…like peeling the skin off an onion – remove a couple of layers and it gets very smelly.” – James Wesley, founder of

Back to my ‘oh duh’ moment.

Why, I thought, oh why have I not contacted him and asked him to review my book and possibly talk about it in his blog?

Yeah…see, I’m a marketing genius. It only takes me six weeks of having my book out and published before this idea hits me.


So I went to his blog, reviewed a section where he lists non-fiction and fiction books, all centering around TEOTWAWKI, survival and more, and went ahead and sent him an email.

I will learn to market myself better, I will!

Despite a note stating that he receives over 250 emails a day, JWR was incredibly fast in responding to my email, in which I asked him if I could send him a copy of the book to review. He listed the PO box and added a note asking for a dog-eared, shopworn copy, as long as it was legible. Which is rather thoughtful of him. I’m sending him a new copy nonetheless, simply because the dog-eared copy is my reference tool that stays on my desk and which I page through to check facts as I’m writing Book 2.

So here I am, sending off the book and cover letter today and crossing my fingers that he will, a) read the book, and b) comment favorably on it. Thousands of people read SurvivalBlog, I’ll be over the moon if say, a few hundred, were to show interest in my book.

One of Those “Oh…Duh” Moments

One of Those “Oh…Duh” Moments

I’m not the best self-promoter.

Really, I’m not.

Case in point. I was fretting over how to sell War’s End in local independent bookstores. I think I could get in, but I don’t have any moolah for ordering books right now. It becomes a loss, anyway, when you add shipping charges to a small order of books. So I’m hoping to make a bigger order, say 100-200 books, and then take those to the local bookstores. After the bookstore takes their cut, I’ll make maybe $1 per book, but it’s better than selling them at a loss, right?

So here I am with about fifteen boxes of my Get Organized, Stay Organized books sitting in the closet waiting for me to sell them. For…you know…the past three years. And the thought struck, Why don’t I try and sell the organizing books to raise money to order 100 copies of War’s End?

At the very least, it will get me closer to my goal.

There aren’t a lot of independent bookstores around here, but every little bit will help. So that’s where I’ll be next week, pounding pavement and hoping for the best.