Facebook: 10.4 percent of nothing

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Let’s see… 10.4% of nothing is…

An article on Saturday’s Mashable illustrates the relative amount of traffic driven to publishers from various methods of social media, and makes it clear that Facebook sends more customers to publishers than any other social media combined.

Editor Neil Marr went so far as to say to his Facebook followers: “Trying to sell your book? Seems you’re at the right place.”

But once again, I’m presented with the incredible dichotomy between the realities for mainstream publishers and the realities for self-publishers… most notably, myself. Continue reading

Do movies get a logic pass… because they’re movies?

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Elysium

Elysium, courtesy Tri-Star Pictures.

I recently managed to get out to see Elysium in the theater.  This much-hyped movie garnered high expectations, especially as images from the movie were released and it became clear how much beautiful work had gone into its production.  However, once the movie premiered it became clear that the story itself hadn’t gotten as thorough a treatment as the sets and effects, creating a movie with innumerable logic inconsistencies and downright dumb plot points, clearly designed to get the hero from Predetermined Action Point A to Predetermined Action Point B, no matter how contrived that journey might be.

To be sure, Elysium is not the only movie guilty of these transgressions; they are quite common in action-adventure movies of every type.  It’s as if a “logic pass” is being bestowed, an unofficial declaration that these momentary lapses in logic and sense are “unimportant” as long as they further the basic narrative (“basic” being defined here as hero fights and wins).   But why are movies getting this “logic pass”? Continue reading

The movie blockbuster bubble

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marqueeAt the opening of a new building at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying that the era of the movie blockbuster may soon be over:

“There’s eventually going to be an implosion, or a big meltdown… where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”

George Lucas—between he and Spielberg, producers of most of the biggest movie blockbusters in American history—agreed that the movie industry was due for a reversal of fortune, where the huge movies of the past will no longer carry the mega audiences they once did, and studios will be stricken by the sudden unprofitability of big movies.  Both of them also lamented about the “lesser” movies they made, which almost weren’t accepted by the studios for theatre releases because of their non-blockbuster status.  That’s right: Spielberg and Lucas both had trouble getting their movies into the theatres.

And what they are suggesting is that, at present, lesser movies are hard to produce for movies… but that in the near future, big blockbusters won’t get the automatic greenlight either.  Does this mean Hollywood will have to turn back to the lesser movies, and a different profit expectation?  If so, what should we expect? Continue reading

What do readers owe authors?

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Steven Lyle JordanMy recent efforts to figure out the future of my perennially zombie-fied writing sideline has naturally led to a lot of questions for myself, trying to justify my actions as an author, a promoter and an entrepreneur.  Front and center to these questions has been the role of social media to promote and sell my products, and attempts to better understand what works and why.

In my searches to better understand, I came across an old TeleRead article by Joanna Cabot, entitled “What do readers owe authors?”  The article investigates the idea that readers are encouraged by authors to help promote them, largely by utilizing the social media tools at their disposal—blogs, review columns, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc—and that doing so helps the authors to continue to produce for them. Continue reading

The book promo waiting game

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Sarcology ad cardSo, I sit here in grudging acknowledgement of the fact that I am no self-promoter.  I am also in grudging acknowledgement of the fact that social media has done absolutely nothing to help me promote, since I am not blessed with enough money to saturate the interwebs with ads or friends to pass the word on to others about my books, nor am I clever enough to create a viral campaign that will bring in the hordes of lovers of independently-written futurist novels.  My efforts to promote Sarcology, and the rest of my catalog, have gone for naught.

So much for the future supplementary retirement income.  Oh, well.

I have exactly one trick left… and it’s already in motion.  I’ve had promo cards for Sarcology printed up.  On Memorial Day weekend, the first 2000 visitors to Balticon will find them in their swag bags… unarguably it will be the largest single group of people, presumably all science fiction fans as well, who will be introduced to my work.

And so, with nothing else to do, I sit and wait for June, when I will find out if this last-ditch effort will bear some fruit.  If it does, I will know how to advertise my books at other conventions and similar venues.  If it doesn’t… well, hopefully by then I will have figured out what my new hobby is going to be.

Going mobile

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Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

Steven Lyle Jordan

A conference I recently attended showed me the incredible rate at which the mobile information space is growing, especially in the smartphone and tablet areas… and reminded me that although my site is workable on a mobile platform, I haven’t had a mobile-optimized website in quite some time.

So I’ll be spending my spare time working on a mobile version of my books site, and considering the possibility of a mobile app down the line.

The mobile website is a bit easier, since I already know HTML… it’s just (!) a matter of designing it.  A mobile app is trickier, and likely more expensive, so I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll manage that.  But we’ll see… one thing at a time.

(Don’t worry… I’m still writing!)

“I’m sorry you have no friends.”

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Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

Years ago, my wife and I bought our house in Maryland. Our real estate agent was a man whom we’d met at a house sale elsewhere, and we liked him so much that we’d asked him to represent us; with his help, we found a great house, and have been more than satisfied with it to this day.

One day, a few months later, we chanced upon him, and after mutual greetings, he said to us: “I’m sorry you have no friends.” It took us a second to realize he was sarcastically referring to his hope that we would have recommended him to our friends in the market for new homes, thereby bringing him fresh business. We didn’t take it personally, of course—and at the time, we didn’t happen to know anyone who was house-hunting, so we couldn’t have helped even if we’d wanted to—but the point was taken. Continue reading

What’s going on

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Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

Steven Lyle Jordan, author and futurist

It’s no secret that I’ve been holding off from writing anything new lately, as I’ve been concentrating on the flagging sales of my existing books.  I’ve also been spending time discussing the issue on various forums.  Unfortunately, most of the advice I’ve gotten hasn’t been very helpful—mostly variations of “suck it up and write, already” and “you’re crazy to want money out of your books.”

Though many of the responses have been essentially negative, I haven’t been chased out of the writing biz yet.  Nor have I changed my mission, which is to create a stable of books that contributes in some small to my bottom line.  However, I have also not altered my plans to work on improving sales of my existing books; if I can’t get the present ten books, many of which have 4-5-star reviews, to sell in this marketplace, I just can’t see a good reason to write more books that won’t sell.

So, the mission continues: Writing is taking a hiatus while I work on marketing and promotion; and if anyone has some good ideas for my marketing and promotional efforts, helping me to get back on track sooner (and that includes any efforts made to spread the word to new readers), there may be something in it for you.

Carry on.

Does anybody care?

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John Adams (from 1776, Columbia Pictures)

John Adams (from 1776, Columbia Pictures)

Since it’s fairly close to July fourth… and since I happen to be a fan of the movie “1776”… I feel it’s an appropriate time to borrow a question that was posed by John Adams in the dramatic finale of that movie, and which hangs somewhere in the mind of anyone who writes a novel, short story or article.

The question came up when I came across a blog post by Roz Morris, a response in letter form to a fellow writer who’d had a crisis of confidence in starting a book.  In that post’s responses, I commented on something that I felt Roz had missed pointing out: That a writer should consider whether their desire to write is impacted by the possibility that no one will read their work (or, if put on sale, that no one will want to buy it); is it worth the effort if no one touches your work?

This resulted in a second posting by Roz, addressing exactly that question. Continue reading

Sex in books: Give ’em what they want

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shocked readerWhen I was a boy, I would often pick up novels wherein I didn’t actually read characters’ swear words; instead, I read the author’s account of the characters’ swearing, to wit: “He swore,” “he gave his opinion in language not fit for polite society,” “her language, as crude as any sailor’s, caused her companions to blush furiously,” etc.  And I was introduced to the familiar scene known as “kiss kiss, cut to morning,” in which something significant happened in-between, but was apparently not appropriate enough for me to be privy to. Continue reading