Monday, April 27, 2015

Thoughts On Bruce Jenner And Acceptance Of LGBT Individuals

Last Friday, like millions of other viewers, I tuned in to Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer. To be honest, I'd expected it to be a fluff piece (he has spent the last few years of his life on the Kardashians' show after all), but I was moved by his bravery and honesty as he revealed, "I'm a woman." *Note -- I'm using the pronouns "He" and "Him" since this is what he requested for his interview.*

I think that Jenner is a flawed individual. On the one hand, I've admired him for his athletic accomplishments... but he was an absentee parent for many of his kids. Still, I applaud him for being so open about his life and hope his journey can help educate others about people who are transgender. I think that *every* person who strives to be his or her best self is brave, but it must have been especially tough for someone who is not only a very public figure, but upheld a very "masculine" image for so many decades.

On a personal level, his interview hit home for me since the male hero in my novel F#@! BOMB is a respected athlete who comes out as gay. My character, Griffin, doesn't have an easy time opening up to his friends, family and teammates, but he's still young when he does so. Jenner is 65 and kept his real life secret for a very long time. I'm glad he's finally found the courage to tell his story.

I happened to spend this weekend with my best friend, who is a gay man, and many of our mutual friends who are also gay. We had a long discussion about Jenner's interview, which ultimately turned into a discussion about how and when each guy came out. I was surprised to learn that one of my friends didn't officially come out until he was in his mid-30s. He mentioned that his teenage niece is already out as a lesbian and noted how times have changed. I hope they continue to do so and that LGBT people can continue to get the rights they deserve.

I don't expect my book to incite much change, but if it can help, inspire or educate a handful of people, I'll be really pleased. On the other hand, I do hope that Jenner can truly play a part in "chang[ing] the world" as he said.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Marketing A Novel: Using Facebook To Sell Your Book

These days authors have to depend more and more on using social media to sell their books. If, like me, you're an independent author, it's crucial... though writers who've had their books published by traditional means also have to reach out to readers. It's especially important if you're only selling your novel as an e-book. Because you can't sell in-person and do readings in bookstores, using sites like Facebook or Twitter is the next best thing.

For F#@! BOMB's release, I've been experimenting with Facebook. We had great success launching LOVE NOTES with a Facebook party, so I hosted aa FB event for F#@! BOMB. I also, of course, posted my book's link on my personal and author pages, and alerted my friends and contacts of its existence. So far, I've sold quite a few through FB, though I'm trying to expand my readership and sales.

I've tried my luck at using Facebook's ad campaigns... and I can't say it's worked too well for me. While most features on FB are still free (and will hopefully stay that way), you can buy ad space to promote a post or particular page. FB has you pay a certain amount of money -- they encourage anything from $5 on -- and the more you pay, the more people you reach. Generally your post/page is boosted for a day or so, or until the money runs out (which happens rather quickly). You can customize your ads to target particular people, which further expands your potential fan base.

FB does what it promises as my pages and posts HAVE gotten many views. I've gotten dozens of "likes" on my author and jewelry designer pages, and have a few new followers. However, while the views are coming in, it doesn't seem like people really click the actual links. People tend to "like" what's right in front of them, whether it's a photo of my jewelry or a blurb about my books, but most haven't bothered to actually head to my Etsy stores or to my Amazon pages. They simply like the post and move on. Sometimes I wonder if they even know what they're liking.

From this experience I've found that it's better to target people who are specifically looking for a product. The FB release parties worked well because book lovers were eager to meet the authors and learn about the novels. They weren't just blindly liking links. I think many of us -- myself included - kind of go through FB and click, click, click, like, like, like whatever pops up... but it takes more effort to actually stop and change the page to view whatever is being sold.

As an online vendor, I'm a big fan of Facebook because it has gotten me book and jewelry sales. But buying ads is not the way to go, at least for me.

Please read and review F#@! BOMB, REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD and LOVE NOTES, all available on Amazon.