Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Twitter for authors: 3 things to remember

I told myself that one of the things I wouldn't do on this blog is become a purveyor of writing advice. I'm
more than happy to do a critique or offer thoughts on something, but I never saw myself as near enough of an expert to confidently tell people how they should or shouldn't write. Besides, I didn't create this blog to talk to other writers. That wasn't my goal.

Today, I'm breaking that rule. Sort of. Something that I keep seeing over and over the last few years is authors having no idea how to use Twitter. They will talk in Facebook groups or online forums about how they post links to their books but see no sales from it. That's because they are expecting something from Twitter that it will never deliver. Twitter is not a sales tool. No social media is. At the best, social media will create interest. So, if you are using social media to drive sales you're doing it wrong.

Delilah Dawson had a great post on social media and marketing recently. The takeaway was that expecting any of the channels to bring in reliable sales is foolish, because social media is about pushing content out to readers. What we should be concerned with as writers is pulling in readers and creating fans.

She's right, but I don't think that means writers can ignore social completely. There's still value there once you get past the idea that you will be able to connect sales to posts. So, here are some things to keep in mind from someone who can loosely say that I get paid to do this stuff. (The day job that pays the bills is in marketing. While I'm not on our agency's social media team, I sit very close to them. And I do know the principles.) With that, here you go.

Twitter is always moving.
Your feed on Twitter -- and, therefore, the feed of the people who follow you -- is like a river. It's constantly moving. For the people who follow you to see your tweet they have to be standing on the banks at the time it passes by. There will never be a time when all of them are there at the moment you send a message. That means even if you have 1500 followers on Twitter, 1500 people aren't seeing your tweets. I've seen some data from Twitter on my own account. I have roughly 1500 followers and the number of impressions from each Tweet was surprisingly low. Most of them never hit triple digits.

Don't take this to mean that you need to be sending out the same "buy my book" tweet more often. You don't, because that's not what twitter is about. Which leads us to ...

Be social.
This is the thing that might drive me the craziest when I see people write off Twitter wholesale. Granted, it may not be for you. That's fine. Not every social media platform is for everyone. But don't write off Twitter without actually using it to be social. Tweet at people. Respond to what they are saying. Offer your thoughts on topics of the day. Offer your thoughts on that book you just read. Offer your thoughts on anything. And when someone inevitably responds to those thoughts, engage with them.

Be judicious about who you follow. It can be tempting to follow back everyone who follows you. Most people are hoping you will, because they are collectors. They aren't interested in what you are saying. They aren't interested in asking about your book. They want followers who they can shout to. If they seem to be shouting something you're interested in then follow them. But you aren't obligated to follow everyone who follows you. I had this mentality when I first joined Twitter. Then I realized that the only people following me were other authors, and we were all shouting "HERE'S MY BOOK! HERE'S MY BOOK!" at each other.  That's when I started culling the people I followed. Not coincidentally, that's when I started to get more out of Twitter.

That's it for now. Three quick thoughts. And since we are talking Twitter, you can find me here @jarrettrush.

Friday, November 13, 2015

An update on the next release

If you follow me on Twitter you would might have seen a Tweet from me float through your stream in the early morning on Sunday.

"And that is a first draft, everyone. The third New Eden story is finished."

So that's the big update. I'm excited by this story. I like it a lot.  I think it has some of the best writing I've done. I finished the first editing pass tonight and there are some scenes and phrases that I really like. I'm excited to get this one out there. I need to make some corrections then send this off to some beta readers to get their feedback. But we are close to having third New Eden story in readers' hands.

This one is a little unique. If you've read Chasing Filthy Lucre and Finding Faded Light then you know that the two stories take place two years apart. This new story takes place in between those stories. So, if you were to number it then this story is New Eden//Rexall Cycle 1.2. Why 1.2? Because there are going to be three more after this one that fill in the gaps of what happened in the New Eden between CFL and FFL.

If you haven't read CFL or FFL yet, you might want to get your hands on them now because, for the moment, they are both 99 cents. That's going to change once the new story is released. CFL will be 99 cents still and probably won't change much. Need to make it as easy for people to enter into the series. A low-priced first book is one way to do that. The new story is on the shorter side, about 15,000 words. That's a novellette. It'll likely be 99 cents too. Maybe a bit more, but not more than $2. FFL, though, will go to $2.99. Pricing like that lets me create a tiered structure for pricing. All of that's probably way too inside baseball. The key takeaway from that paragraph is get the first two books now befoer the price goes up.

Think that's it. The story does have a title. It even has a cover. Well, tentatively it has a cover. Those will be revealed later. I have to save something for the push toward the release date.

Wait. Last thing. So, I mentioned beta readers. I have a few lined up, but I'd love more. If you have time in your schedule to read and provide feedback on a 15k word story, let me know in the comments. I'll send a copy your way.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"We tell stories because they are interesting. 
We offer narrative because narrative is a bone-breaker: 
it snaps the femur of the status quo. It is in fact the sharp, gunshot-loud fracture-break of the expected story 
is what perks our attention. Guy goes to work, works, comes home, has dinner, goes to bed? Not interesting. 
Guy goes to work, has the same troubles with his boss, 
endures the standard problems of the day, goes home, 
eats an unsatisfying dinner, goes to bed and sleeps restlessly 
until the next day of the same thing? Still not interesting
Guy goes to work and gets fired? Okay, maybe, depending 
on if he does something unexpected with it.
 Guy goes to work and gets fired out of a cannon into a warehouse full of ninjas? I’M LISTENING."


Monday, August 17, 2015

What's coming after the current WIP? This. Or these.

I'm just going to leave these here for now. Much more to explain later, but these should be coming soon. Soon, being a relative term, mind you. There are four in the series so far. I've them all loosely outlined, and I'm really excited about getting started on writing them. They all take place in a shared universe. The stories will be related, but able to be read individually.

I've got to get back to writing the third New Eden book. Once I'm done with that, these are next.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

HBO's Sesame Street: "Give Him to the 'Gus"

Word came down today that the next five seasons of Sesame Street will be more than 30 episodes each and make their debut on HBO. They'll eventually make their way to PBS, the shows home for coming up on 50 years.

I'm not the first to make this observation, but this obviously opens the door for life on the Street to make a much darker turn. Here's 500 words dashed off at lunch time imagining what that might look like.

Give Him to the 'Gus

Gordon. He's strung out again. Vowed last time he'd stay clean. Tears-in-his-eyes promises to all the kids. But the Bird and the Grouch knew better. They knew he'd be back, and here he was.

"You don't look good," Oscar tells him. "You're thin."

"I'm fine." He stands up straighter. Pulls at the hem of his shirt, trying to tug it smooth. Runs a hand through his hair. "Is he in?"

Oscar looks around the corner and back into the alley. Bird is sitting in his nest. He gives Oscar a slight nod. "He is. But he's going to say the same thing."

"I'm fine," Gordon says again and walks into the alley. His hesitating shuffle steps betray the confident wide smile. He waves a dirty hand at Big Bird.

Bird puts on a smile and says, "You lose weight?"

"Just been watching what I eat," Gordon says.

"Haven't seen you in a while."

"I've been keeping busy." His eyes — heavy lids on top of dark circles — give away what's been occupying his time.

"Look at me," Bird says and waits for Gordon to meet his gaze. It happens slowly, but it happens. "Who have you been seeing because you clearly haven't kept clean. You look as strung out as ever, but this is the first time you've come to see me since you've been back on the Street."

Gordon looks away.

"Up here," Bird snaps. Gordon slowly lifts his eyes.

There's commotion out on the street. Oscar shouts something then drops into his can. The lid rattles as it settles into place.

Big Bird waits for whoever is coming to pass. "Hey, kids," he says and waves a wing at them. They smile and wave back.

"Who have you been going to?" Bird asks asks again when the kids have gone.

"No, one," Gordon says. "I swear."

Bird reaches out and slaps Gordon, his cheek left red. "Don't lie to me. You're bad at it."

Gordon hesitates then admits "I met a guy while I was away. He said he knew a guy a couple blocks over if I wanted to score somewhere away from the Street."

Bird nodded. "At last you were honest. Eventually." A pause. "His stuff any good?"

Gordon shakes his head. "Not like yours."

"Nobody has stuff like mine."

"No, Big Bird. They don't." Gordon pushes his hands into his pockets and rocks on his heels.

Big Bird nods. "How long've we known each other? Years? Decades?"

Gordon nods.

"Then you know me. You know I value friendship. You know I consider you a friend."

Gordon nods.

"But you know what I value more than friendship?" Gordon shakes his head.

"Loyalty." Big Bird pauses. "Now, as friends I can overlook your dalliance with someone else. But, as a business man, there's a penance that I'm going to have to ask you to pay to make good. Now, a guy like me I can't get my hands dirty with that kind of work." Then he flaps his wings and says, "Besides, I don't have hands!"

Bird enjoys his own joke. Gordon forces a smile and laugh. Both stop when they hear the shuffling coming from the shadows behind the nest. Gordon squints into the dark. His mouth drops open when he finally sees him, a thousand pounds of brown fur and a trunk.

"He's real," Gordon whispers to no one.

"Good," Bird says, "you've heard of my friend Gus."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Two short videos for your Friday

Hello, folks. Happy Friday. Two videos for you today. Both are short, but both are great. The first, a feisty Buzz Aldrin. Somehow this video has been views almost 1.5 million times but I'd never seen it.

This second is robot bloopers, and who doesn't like robot bloopers?

That's it from here. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Question: Has an author ever lost you because of unexpected choices?

I'm reading a series of stories by a well-known author. It's good. The installments are cheap. At less than a dollar a piece, they are worth the half hour or hour of time it takes me to read them. So far I'm happy. There were a few moments, though, when I wasn't. I was angry because the story took a turn in the second installment that I didn't expect and wasn't, at all, happy with.

I won't go into a lot of detail on the stories or the author. This person is fairly popular, and it doesn't really matter who it is anyway. I stuck with the story and the turn wound up not being what I thought it was, and I was a happy reader at the end of this installment. But I was ready to give up this series of stories, keep my 99 cents in my pocket, and quietly move on.

All of  this did make me wonder this, though,: Has an author ever lost you as a reader because of unexpected choices? If so, what was it about that choice that put the brakes on your reading experience?

Please, share with the class.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An excerpt from the current work in progress

Here's a bit of something from the current work in progress. Digi City is its tentative title. That will probably change. This is the next story in the New Eden series. Next meaning it's the third book and will come after the second that was released earlier this year. It is not, however, the third book in the timeline. If you've read the first two then you know there is a gap between where the first ended and the second begins. This story falls in the gap. I think there will be three or four in there. I'm calling them the "Stories from the In Between." I like the way that sounds, and it will fill in the holes for the reader and set up the ending of this part of the New Eden series.

This story focuses on Miller, the antagonist from the second Rexall book. I've always liked him. He deserves his own story. He's an interesting guy.

Anyway, the bit I mentioned. Here it is. Hope you like it. It's just a few paragraphs, but maybe it will whet your appetite.


Miller stepped out onto the tenth floor, the area of Tallboy given to the older addicts. These were the guys who’d been on the wire for a long time. They weren’t plugging in for thrills. They were plugging in to forget, soldiers who’d seen things and done things that they couldn’t let go of.

These were the guys that Miller would be laying beside if he gave into the draw of digital.

Wires fell in bunches from the ceiling, bundles thick as tree trunks breaking up what was mostly open space. Guys were along the walls, most of them plugged in and passed out. Miller quickly studied faces as he passed. His port itched, and he pushed the desire to plug in farther down.

These guys all looked the same. They’d fallen under the spell of digital. Any chance of respectability was burned away in a fire of bits and bytes that they couldn’t do without. Miller had seen it before. Soldiers he’d respected would crack the governor on their port just as an experiment after they get their discharge. None of them planned to end up in a place like this, laid against some wall with drool wetting their shirts and pooling on the floor in front of them. Worse, none of them expected to die. But some did, and those who didn’t were here or someplace like it. Those were the two endings to this story. No one just experimented with digital once or twice. You didn’t get to try a sample then say “No, thank you.” Digital sunk its claws fast and deep. Miller didn’t want to get sucked in. That’s why he’d taught himself to push the desire farther and farther down. So far down now that it was coming out of his toes, seeping out from under the nails and gathering in his shoes.

The faces were starting to blend together. Miller stopped and closed his eyes. He pictured the face in the photo that Cruz had shown him. The high forehead. The short hair. The pronounced nose and deep-set eyes.

He started walking the walls again, and that’s when he saw him. He was the loner, plugged in to a wire far from everyone else. He was laid out on the floor, his head resting on an outstretched arm. Passed out. Mouth fallen open.

Miller went over and sat beside him, leaning against the wall. Miller watched him for a minute. The man was still. Miller put a finger under his nose. Just to check. Then he waited.

He watched the junkies — the data freaks who had given themselves to the pull — slowly wake. Watched them try to stand. Stumble to their unsteady feet like a calf just from the womb. They’d grab for the wall. They’d fall to a knee. They’d find their footing then slowly shuffle from the room, likely collapsing somewhere in the stairwell on the way down. They’d wet themselves at some point before mustering the energy and stability to make it to the bottom. It’d be hours before they’d be back to themselves.

Miller grabbed one of the loose wires that had spilled out of the bundle in front of him. He licked his thumb and ran it across the end and felt the jolt of digital dance up his arm. He flinched instinctively then licked the palm of his hand. He rubbed the arm of the man next to him and left a smear of spit across his bicep. He grabbed a handful of wires from the floor and jammed them into the man’s arm. His body tensed, and his eyes shot open.

Miller smiled. “Wakey wakey,” he said.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Welcome, Haddie

About two weeks ago, our family of three became a family of four when we welcomed Haddie into the fold. She's completely amazing and playing with her and her sister has completely consumed all of my free time since she's made her debut. That's why I haven't introduced her here until now. So, everyone, meet Haddie.

Mom is doing great. It takes a lot to knock my girl down, so I'm not at all surprised that she's fantastic. That seems to be how she spends most of her time.

Ellie absolutely adores Haddie. Every morning when we get her up the first thing she wants to do is check on Haddie to make sure she's OK. And she always marvels at how little everything is on her. Her little hands. Her "little, stinky toes."

The labor was long, but worth it. Of course, I say that and my real role was observer and moral support. But I feel fairly confident that Gina would agree. Haddie is a really chill baby. Not a lot of crying. Seems to be perpetually hungry. And she's a pretty good sleeper so far. Less than two weeks old and we can actually get four uninterrupted hours on a good night.

So, that's the big update from Texas. I've got other writerly things that I want to write about and share with you all, but those will have to wait for now. At the moment, I'm completely occupied by a new girl and squishy cheeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Get Chasing Filthy Lucre free this week

Promise I don't come here just to tell you when stuff is free, although after this quick post that's what you're going to claim.

Chasing Filthy Lucre is free though Friday over at Amazon. If you haven't already grabbed your copy yet, go get one.

If you need to know more about the story, read this.

New Eden was big, beautiful, and bustling. That’s all a memory. A failed political power grab has left New Eden with no government but plenty of crumbling buildings, out-of-work drifters, and strung out data addicts.

A former cop and former soldier, Weber Rexall has spent his life taking orders. But after the government collapses, it’s every man for himself, and Rexall is on his own.

He realizes quickly that in New Eden cash is now king. That's why, whether it's throwing fights in a basement fight club or doing security work for a friend, he'll take whatever job he can. When one of those security jobs goes violently wrong, and a rising corporate power threatens his status quo, Rexall finds a cause to believe in. It won't pay him anything, but it might change his life.