Tag Archives: facebook

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

So apparently…good things come to those who wait. And wait.

And.

Wait.

Good things also come to those who hit the refresh button over and over and freak out until they make themselves sick. I’ll let you guess which one I am.

Yes, that’s right A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw just went live on Amazon.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

It’s possible that you may be wondering: “Is this book really for me?” If you are I have compiled a helpful reference for your edification. The following is a list of the types of people who may find my book interesting.

1. People who like dogs

Come on folks, give it up for man’s best friend. Not only are they kind and loyal, but they don’t look down on you like those uppity cat things.

Seriously. How can you say no to that?

2. People who like zombies

You know the ones. The walking dead, those lovable reanimated rotting corpses that just want to have a little nibble of your brains. They waltzed their way into the popular imagination with George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, and we haven’t looked back since (except of course to make sure none of them were following us home).

3. People who don’t like dogs

Because um…maybe things might not go very well for our lovable fury protagonist?

4. People who like me

Maybe you can’t stand zombies. Maybe just thinking about dogs makes you itch. Maybe you don’t want to read a groundbreaking work of literary fiction that reimagines the zombie horror genre in a different light. Maybe you just want to an awesome dude how much you like him. Or you can just show me, and I’ll make sure some sufficiently awesome dude hears about it later.

If you fall into any of these categories then I’d suggest that you check out my book. At this very moment it is available for Kindle only, but I’m working diligently to get it up on Smashwords for those of you who happen to have something other than a Kindle (I’m one of these people so I feel your pain).

Also, if you happen to like the book, please help me spread the word. Tell a friend, tweet about it, “Like” it on Facebook. If you do the blog thing, then I’d love to do an interview. Community is the only advertising strategy I can afford. But I’m betting it’s the best there is.

And again, to all of you who have already been so supportive of me and my project…thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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On Waiting

 

When I was a kid I swore I’d never have a garden. My dad had a garden and I hated it. There were weeds and bugs, and the sun was hot, and I got dirt under my fingernails and just…ugg. I hated it.

As it turns out, I was a moron. Or maybe I was a genius, and I’m a moron now. Whichever one it is, I’ve got a garden. It’s not very big, but I’ve got a little of everything in there. A few tomatoes, some onions, some corn, all the wonderful things I love to eat magically sprouting up out of the ground from nothing more than a tiny seed. It’s kind of exciting.

But.

It.

Takes.

For.

Ev.

Errrrrrr.

Seriously. I’m looking out at my front lawn and weeds sprout up literally overnight, but it takes ninety days to get a decent ear of corn? Let’s maybe speed up the program yes?

Only I can’t. I can go out there and water that little patch of dirt till my yard floods. I can fertilize and mulch and pull up weeds all day long, but you know what? That corn is still going to take three months before it’s ready to eat.

Social media is a lot the same way. A while back I took Kristen Lamb’s advice and jumped into this blogging thing with both feet. I got on Twitter, I got on Facebook, I was ready. Now to wait for the tidal wave of followers to come and be amazed by my awesome.

Only it wasn’t a tidal wave. It was a trickle. One or two here, three or four there, nothing really to write home about. But after a few weeks that trickle grew into a dribble, and after a few months that dribble was a small but respectable stream. And what of the Freshly Pressed Fiasco of 2011? Well it was nice while it lasted, and it did boost my numbers, but not by an unbelievable amount.

Why am I telling you this? Because some of you are in the same boat with me. We look up at the big shots and we just know they’ve got all this clout and we think, “What am I doing wrong?”

And it’s a fine question to ask. We should never be through looking for ways we can improve ourselves. But we should be willing to accept the answer, “Mostly nothing.”

Yes, maybe we can improve our writing and delivery a little, but real honest growth still takes time. Those weeds in my front yard sure sprung up fast, but they’re not good for anything. And the thousands of views I got on my Lima Beans post don’t mean anything in the long run, because most of those people have moved on to the next distraction.

That doesn’t mean that social media is fruitless. It just means we have to wait for the stuff that matters.

We aren’t going to get a million Twitter followers in twenty-four hours like Charlie Sheen did and that’s okay. But a little at a time, if we work at it, our following will grow. And it will be worth it.

Just like it will be worth it three months from now when I sit down at the dinner table and eat the corn and tomatoes out of my very own garden. My mouth is watering already.

How to Ignore Perfectly Good Advice in Three Easy Steps

You are not alone.

You ever notice how often that phrase pops up in commercials? Do you ever feel a little creeped out by it? Maybe you look around the house to make sure that there’s no one there with you. Well if you do, then you are not alone.

But all silliness aside, as a writer you really aren’t alone. There are hundreds and thousands of other writers out there, from all different levels of the skill spectrum, and many of them are eager and willing to help you out on your journey toward the fun and lucrative world of being a published author.

This is a good thing. Sometimes.

But sometimes it can be overwhelming. There are lots of great people out there with tons of knowledge, and lots of great advice to give out. They’ve been there, they’ve done that, and they know all the mistakes you’re going to make if you’re not careful. You’d be a fool to ignore them.

Except.

Except sometimes their advice doesn’t work for you. And sometimes it might actually contradict other advice you’re getting from equally credible sources.

This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit recently because it happened to me in a big way. Let me explain.

I started blogging seriously solely because of the influence of one Kristen Lamb, media expert and all around awesome person. Her blog is an invaluable resource on how to leverage social media as an author, as well as having great tips on plotting and structure.

(Also she has a book entitled We Are Not Alone. How’s that for your freaky coincidence?)

She encourages writers to do things like start a regular blog, get on Twitter and Facebook, and for the love of Bob use your writing name wherever you can.

As you may be able to tell, I’ve taken most of her advice to heart. But one of her bits of social media wisdom is this: Blog about what you write about.

You may be noticing that I am in fact blogging about writing. I do not write about writing. Except now. Which doesn’t count.

But I didn’t make the choice to pass on that particular piece of advice at a whim. I went through a process of thought and introspection which I’ve boiled down into three steps.

If someone’s giving you advice you’re not sure about maybe this will help.

1. Listen

This is very important. Sometimes a piece of advice might not be for you, but if you dismiss it out-of-hand then you’re doing yourself a disservice. At least give the person the benefit of the doubt that they’re not just blowing smoke. They want to help you. Don’t ever ignore that.

When I first read Kristen Lamb’s advice, I didn’t just snort and say, “Well that’s stupid. I’m not doing that.” I listened. I gave the idea room to take root in my mind.

2. Think

Now that you’ve got the bit of advice in your head, mull it over, do your best to understand it. If you can, try to incorporate it into your process. Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, give it a try. If it doesn’t work for you try to understand why it doesn’t work. There may be some deeper kernel of truth within the advice that may be able to benefit you.

“Blog about what you write about” is really a great piece of advice. Kristen’s deeper point is this: we need to connect with our potential readers not just other writers. And that’s something I’ve tried to keep in mind as I’ve slowly expanded my writer’s platform.

3. Decide

Because hey, you can really do whatever you want to do. Ignoring advice isn’t wrong. If it doesn’t work for you then fine. If it does work for you and improves your craft, even better.

Obviously, I decided not to follow Kristen’s advice. I made my decision mostly because it’s hard to blog on topic when your work-in-progress is a horror story about a monster mulch pile.

I’m gonna talk about what? Organic gardening?

But for someone writing a more conventional genre, say legal thrillers, blogging on topic could be a fantastic opportunity to connect with readers.

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You need balance. You shouldn’t reject advice simply because you don’t feel like doing it. But neither should you feel obligated to go on following advice that just isn’t working out for you. You have to use wisdom and discernment, and consider which path is best for you.

And that’s my advice. You know what to do with it.

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

There are some people who pine for the glory days of high school. They look back in fondness on the experiences they had, the friendships they made, the carefree life they had to leave behind for drudgery of adulthood.

I am not one of these people. High school sucked for me in a big way. I can look back on that time of my life and say honestly that I can not think of one unequivocally good thing that happened to me during that entire four years of my life. I made far more enemies than friends, I fumbled my way through social interaction, and generally hated every minute of it.

And it was mostly my own fault. I didn’t think so at the time of course. I thought it was all those other people who were just plain mean and didn’t understand me because I was so much smarter than they were. Yeah, see what I mean? I was kind of a jerk back then.

And I’m still kind of a jerk now. Well, maybe jerk isn’t the best word for it. The point is, I love to argue. I don’t mean for it to be offensive, I just like to debate things. I like to think it keeps my mind sharp.

The problem is that people don’t usually take disagreement well. For most people arguments are always personal, and always emotional. They assume that if I attack their opinion I’m attacking them in some way.

So I’ve had to adapt. Specifically I’ve had to learn a little self control; I’ve had to make conscious decisions not to jump into arguments simply for the sake of argument. And I have to tell you it hasn’t been easy.

You know that rule about not talking politics on the internet? That rule was invented for me. Because I love politics, and I love arguments. I could jump into all the political chatter and start a debate in no time. But I could also seriously tick off some people who I consider to be friends.

I’ve only been on Twitter for a couple of months and in that short amount of time I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to tell myself, “It’s okay, Albert. Just back off and don’t say anything. You’ll be fine.”

The problem is no one is dispassionate about their political opinion. People on both sides of the aisle have woven their political philosophy into very fabric of their being, and attacking that philosophy is only going to lead to anger and distrust.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there is a vital place for political debate in our society. But it isn’t here.

Here is a place about writing and life. Here is where I’m trying to build your loyalty and trust. So that one day when I’m published you’ll say to yourself, “Hey, I know that Albert Berg. He’s the guy who wrote that one blog post about the cockroach in the spaghetti noodles. Maybe I’ll check his stuff out.”

If I’m trying to sell you my book I really don’t care whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.

So go ahead. Post your political ramblings on Facebook and Twitter if you must. You won’t be getting a response from me. But if you like, you can imagine me clenching my teeth and quietly screaming to myself, begging my fingers not to type out a snarky reply. And if I die of a stress related heart attack at the tender age of thirty four, you’ll know the reason why.

The Digital Dependency

Yesterday I read a great post by Jody Hedlund talking about how social media can suck up way too much of your time. It was weird that she posted it when she did, because that was exactly the time I needed a wake up call.

I’ve got some problems.  See, I like twitter. Like a lot. I’ve got it running on my computer pretty much non-stop, and if I’m away from the big screen it’s always there on my cellphone. I’ve caught myself checking tweets at work, while shopping, even in traffic. And the worst part of it all is that I’m letting it start to encroach on my marriage. My wife and I will be eating dinner together, and while she’s telling me about her day I’m on the phone checking the latest update from wherever.

I’m becoming a caricature. My life is like a live action Windows phone commercial. If I sound like I’ve been a great big jerk, it’s only because it’s true. And it has to stop.

The solution isn’t to get a better phone. The solution is to act like an adult and exercise some self control.

So here goes. It’s not New Year’s but I’m making some resolutions anyway, because I need them. I need to remember what is important in my life.

1. I will leave my phone beyond my reach when me and my wife are spending time together. If we are out and about, and I have my phone in my pocket I will kill all my wonderful little apps and leave them killed until our time together is over.

2. I will do my best to listen to my wife and support her when she is having emotional issues. I will not let myself be distracted by trivialities. If she is talking I will turn the radio off and listen only to her.

3. I will never let her feel less important than anything else in my life.

I need to get some things straight. I still want to connect and grow my network as a writer, but I have to remember that nothing is more important than my marriage.

How about the rest of you? Does twitter take up more time than you’d like to admit? Do you find it overtaking things that should be more important? Or maybe you’d like to tell my what a great big jerk I am. Leave a comment and let me know.

How to Make Tweet Potato Casserole

I’ve been on Twitter for a total of something like two weeks at this point, which I believe makes me completely qualified to tell you what you’re doing wrong.  Just as soon as someone can explain to me what a hashtag is.

Okay, so maybe I’m not a social media expert, but in the short time I have been on Twitter I’ve noticed there are some people who should know better making some obvious mistakes.  Some of these could apply to any tweeter, but mostly I’m focusing on people like me, writers who hope to use social media to grow their support.  I can’t tell you the secrets to having a thousand followers, or how to tweet your way to riches, because I haven’t done either of those things.  But I can give you some common sense advice from the eyes of a beginner.

So here it is, the Albert Berg Definitive Guide to Tweeting Well.

1. Back Off

When I click on a Twitter user to check out their feed, I’m interested in one thing right off the bat: how often does this person tweet?  Because I don’t care if you’re the greatest thing since the invention of the hashtag, if you’re updating more than four or five times an hour on average, I’m not clicking that “Follow” button.  Why? Well, because I have to read all that stuff.  I mean, I don’t have to, but if I’m just going to ignore you, then what was the point in following you in the first place?  I am amazed by how many people don’t get this one.

I think it often happens because they think about themselves before they think about the people who are following them.  This may be fine for teenagers in high school, but as writers, we need to think about the readers of our tweets in the same way we might think of the readers of our books.  We’re doing them a service.  We owe it to them not to waste their time.

2. Balance

As authors we’re likely interested in social media as a way to connect with potential readers.  In a way, our twitter feed is one big sales pitch for ourselves.  However, that doesn’t mean that we can use our twitter feed as a constant advertisement for our stuff.  Well, okay, yes, we can. But who’s going to care?

When I first signed up with twitter, I looked up the author G. Wells Taylor’s feed.  Now let me preface what I am about to say with this:  I love G. Wells Taylor.  The man is an inspiration as an independently published writer, and I will take every chance I can to encourage people to read his stuff.  In fact you should go to manybooks.net right now and download his book When Graveyards Yawn.  It’s fantastic work and it’s totally free.  BUT.  The man does not understand Twitter.  Oh, sure he obviously comprehends the mechanics of the whole thing, but he has no idea how to connect with people.  His twitter stream is just a soulless stream of sales pitches for his work.  One tweet after another about, “This book is available here,” and “Go check out my latest and greatest” etcetera ad nauseam.  Consequently the man has an extremely small following compared to what his platform could be considering the quality of his books.

Sure, it’s fine to link to your stuff from time to time, but you need to remember to tell people that there’s a person behind the pitch, hopefully a person that they’ll like and connect with.

On the other hand, if you spend all your time talking about the funny thing your dog did, I’m not going to connect with that either.  This is where the balance comes in.  If you are a writer, I am following you because I am interested in you as a writer.  If you spend all your time talking about banalities, I’m going to be turned off fast.

3. Be a Friend

When I started Twitter, I thought it was a numbers game.  I thought if I didn’t have huge numbers of people following me I didn’t matter, so I did my best to be clever and interesting in the hopes of attracting new followers.  I still do my best to be clever and interesting, but now I’ve had a perspective shift.  I’ve realized that Twitter at its heart is about connecting to other people, engaging them in conversation.  This means give and take. Now sure, I’d still like to have a bunch of people following me, but the more important connections are the ones that I take time to develop and grow.  I’d rather have ten good twitter friends than a thousand casual followers.  Why?  Because those ten true friends are going to be far more likely to spread the word about what I’m doing to their followers, and if they’ve taken the time to make that human connection with some of their followers, then those people may talk about my work as well.  This is called word of mouth.  It’s the holy grail of advertising.  And you can do it through friendship.

That’s all I’ve got.  It’s all simple stuff that seems like commons sense to me, but maybe it can help you improve your tweeting game.  And hey, I really am new to all of this, so if you think I missed something or totally got it backward, let me know in the comments.  I’d love to hear what I’m doing wrong.

Facebook

I think I’m going to have to do something I really don’t want to do. Something I’ve told myself and others that I would never do. I’m going to get myself a Facebook account.

See, I’ve been reading this blog, by a woman named Kristen Lamb, and she has some pretty tough talk about writers establishing themselves as a brand, even before they’re published. The stuff she has to say make a lot of sense, and if you’re interested in ever writing professionally I highly recommend you check out her blog.

The downside is, I hate the idea of being on Facebook. I mean, everyone is on Facebook.

Which I suppose is the point. If I want to get my name out there I’ll have to join the rest of the lemmings and open an account. This is only going to hurt a lot.