It’s Time for a Change…I Think, by Mae Clair

Quill pen and inkwell resting on an old book with green backgrouI know I’ve been scarce lately, but I’m hoping to get back to regular blogging soon. I miss not doing regular posts. I’ve been keeping busy writing and editing, but I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about my blog in general. The conclusion?

It’s time to do some remodeling. I designed the look of this blog to brand me as a romance author with a slant toward mystery and the supernatural. Now, as I move ahead with my writing, my stories focus less on romance and more on mystery and suspense. My brand should reflect that but the idea of change has me nervous frightened white-knuckle terrified!

Why? *gulp*

Will I find new fans and readers? What if I lose old fans and readers?  *sheer horror*

I enjoy reading across genres, but not everyone feels the same. I’ve already had a few reviews from romance blogs in the past that labeled my books too complex with too many secondary characters and multiple plot threads.

That was the mystery author in me struggling to emerge. I’ll no longer have to fight that instinct, but at the same time I feel like I’m stepping into an arena where I need to start over again.

I hope my existing readers will stay with me as I make the transition (okay, begging a bit here, LOL!). My Point Pleasant Series (a.k.a Mothman) still has a dash of romance, but the romance has shifted to the background rather than commanding the spotlight. That’s the path I see my writing heading in the future. Mythology, folklore, and the unusual will always play an integral part, so some of the branding I’ve done over the last three years still fits that particular niche.

And I still have a romantic novella releasing in November. FOOD FOR POE is a romantic read that combines folklore and the paranormal with a Christmas-time setting. One final offering before I catch the midnight train to the land of mystery and suspense.

Right now I’m rethinking everything from my email tag/signature, to my blog and web mastheads, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ mastheads. Hopefully, I’m not over analyzing. It’s not a huge leap from romantic mysteries to suspense, but it is a leap. Some social sites only need minor changes, but others require a major revamping. That’s going to be most evident on my blog and website as I work on a new look.

So…change is coming.

How soon I’m not certain. But if you happen on hop over to my spot in the blogosphere one day and it looks completely different, don’t freak! It’s just me embracing the mystery/suspense genre. I hope you’ll remain a blog follower and come along for the ride. It’s going to be a “thrilling and mysterious” journey! 😀

Mae Clair: How Many Baskets in an Egg?

Happy Thursday, Everyone!  Today, I’m sharing a post I wrote several months ago for Venture Galleries. Since it never appeared on my blog, I thought it would be a good one to share. It’s my take on the pitfalls of spreading yourself too thin!

~ooOOoo~

Transposing words is a stupid mistake.

Typos happen when I’m rushing.

Both are red flags that I’m spreading myself too thin. That’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re used to rising to challenges and tackling most anything thrown onto your plate. Case in point: I’m a new author. I sold my first book, WEATHERING ROCK, last February and it published the beginning of October. Prior to that contract/sale, I was without a presence online.

Zilch. Nada.

Fortunately, my ‘day job’ is marketing, so I knew about branding and building a platform. What I didn’t know was how to go about it, and what social media tools would net the best return-on-investment of time.

In the world of advertising, whatever your product or service, the goal is to float to the top when that particular brand/service is mentioned. Top of Mind Awareness. TOMA is the golden standard everyone hopes to achieve.

eggs-in-a-basketThere was a time (in the days of yore) when businesses used the bulk of mediums available to them, hoping to obtain TOMA. Many felt the need to be everywhere. Web, print, direct mail, radio, etc.   Most businesses, however, work with a budget and only have x-dollars to spend. When invested in multiple mediums, there isn’t enough for impact, only a ripple. Poof, and you’re done. Advertisers became smarter and realized they weren’t netting a good ROI.

I look at social media the same way. I could be everywhere, spending five minutes here, five minutes there, but am I making an impression?  I’d rather put most of my eggs in one basket, rather than having many baskets with one egg.

When WEATHERING ROCK went under contract, I had to learn the ropes of how to brand myself online. The more I studied the advice of other authors, the more I lumped onto my plate.

bigstock-Don-t-Say--14360Facebook. Everybody does it. I can learn that.

Twitter. Sure why not?

Triberr.  Uh, okay. I’ll figure it out.

Goodreads. Ditto.

Every time I blundered through one outlet (and there was plenty of blundering in the beginning), something new surfaced to take its place. The parade of things I had to learn seemed endless. That conjured the phantom of doubt and despair. You know the one . . . it slithers from the cracks, waiting until you’re exhausted to whisper you’ll never learn it all. I went many rounds with that loathsome wraith.

According to all the research I did, it wasn’t enough to be online. I had to build a social media fiefdom – – website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, Pinterest, Tribber, writing forums – – and that felt impossible. It was like getting sucked into a sinkhole.

In the beginning, I made an effort to be everywhere. Eventually, however, I remembered the rule of TOMA. I wanted to connect with people rather than being a ripple quickly forgotten in their social media stream. That meant investing more time in a few baskets, rather than minimal time in many.

These days, I am still pretty much everywhere online but I’ve come to the conclusion many of those mediums won’t grow beyond a splash. At least not while I’m juggling a full-time job.

I enjoy blogging, Triberr and Twitter and find them the most effective. For someone else it might be Facebook, Google + and Pinterest. It’s a matter of deciding how many baskets and how many eggs are right for you. I’ve made friends with numerous authors, bloggers and readers. I’ve built, and will continue to build, relationships. It’s want I want. I’ve connected.

Peace.

Goodbye phantom, hello Nirvana.

Sounds good, right?

All was well until a new challenge reared its ugly head a few weeks prior to WEATHERING ROCK’s release. That’s when another author mentioned book reviewers to me. I knew my publisher sent ARCs to over a dozen reviewers but this author told me I should be seeking more on my own.

Seriously?

The Doubt Phantom crept back. Fortunately, it had less power to intimidate than before.  I gave it the boot and set out like a heroine on a quest, combing the web for book reviewers. And then it happened. The stupid mistake that still makes me cringe.

One night after a full day of work and several late night hours on the computer catching up with my blog, email, Twitter and Triberr, I decided to send off a book review request before calling it a night. By that time it was after midnight, I was exhausted and operating on low ebb, but I went ahead anyway. No amount of fatigue or murmurs from the Doubt Phantom would hold me back! I found a reviewer, and emailed the request. Tired, but victorious, I went to bed.

bigstock-Businesswoman-getting-crazy-in-26987783The next morning when I looked over the email I’d sent, I was horrified to realize it had typos. Not one, not two, but three!  Here I was asking a reviewer to read and rate my book, and I couldn’t even write a professional inquiry. Ack! Far too many baskets in that egg.

There was a point I would have beat myself up about that mistake for weeks, but I no longer have the luxury of time. I goofed, accepted the reviewer probably thinks I’m an idiot, got over my mortification, and chalked the whole thing up to a learning experience. When I’m tired and spread too thin, it’s time to call it quits and start fresh the next day.

Quality, not quantity. It’s an old idiom, but holds true. I’m in this thing for the long haul, not just to make a splash. I continue to grow, continue to learn, and – – I’m sure – – will continue to make mistakes. Hopefully, there will be less in the future.

What about you? What social media outlets do you find most effective? Have you ever made a blunder, as I did, that ended up contributing to your growth?

Guest Blogger Spotlight with Caleb Pirtle

I have the honor of welcoming guest blogger, Caleb Pirtle of Venture Galleries today. I met Caleb through Triberr and Twitter and, although we’ve only been in contact a short time thus far, I’ve found him to be wonderfully supportive in helping other authors, myself included. I’m thrilled to have him here today, and found his topic timely and intriguing. I think you will too!

~ooOOoo~

There is one inescapable and undeniable fact in the world of book marketing and sales, whether you’re talking about indie or traditional publishing.

Readers may not buy a particular genre.

I’m not sure readers even buy titles.

Readers buy authors.

Check out the covers of blockbuster books in either bookstores or on Amazon. The name of the author – John Grisham, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy, and James Lee Burke, to name a few – are at the top of the book in the same large type that The New York Times has reserved to announce the end of the world.

In much smaller type, down at the bottom of the cover, almost as an afterthought, is the title.

Every book needs one. 

I guess this book does, too.

But what we’re selling is the name of the author.

When I say that readers don’t worry as much about genre as the author, take a cold, hard look at Sandra Brown.

She was a romance writer. She sold millions of romance novels.

When mystery novels crawled to the top of the best-selling heap, Sandra Brown took a sharp left turn and began writing mysteries with a steamy romance or two thrown in for those who preferred love and sex to vile and violence.

Her readers didn’t care. Millions made the switch right along with her. To them, whatever Sandra Brown wrote was exactly what they wanted to read.

And that brings me to Twitter. Twitter has become the bane of my existence.

All of us who are indie novelists these days probably wonder, after awhile, if Twitter is really worth the time it takes us each day. Sending tweets. Retweeting tweets. Jumping on Triberr and tweeting ad nauseam about the blogs of everyone else in your Tribe.

It’s a process that never seems to end. We sit in the darkness, stare at a blank screen and have no visible or analytical proof that anyone ever saw the tweets or even cared that we went to the trouble of tweeting about our books, their books, your books, everybody’s books.

It can be a disheartening and disappointing darkness of the soul. However, I believe that we are in a burgeoning independent publishing environment where every tweet counts. It is the one dynamic way we have to introduce our names every day of our lives to thousands of potential book buyers who may ultimately decide to purchase and read what we have written and consigned to Kindle or Nook or some other eReading device.

For example, I am fortunate to be a member of Bert Carson’s Tribe on Triberr, and he has a cast of loyal, diligent, and dependable tweeters. Together, we have a reach of more than 140,000 followers on Twitter, and each tweet from each member goes out ten times a day. So, in reality, I have the chance to potentially have my name seen at least 1.4 million times each day.

But is it doing me any good?

I don’t know, but I’m willing to tweet, wait, and find out.

I am reminded of an old friend of mine, Dale Remington, who served as producer for the old Jack Paar Show on NBC television. For those of you far too young to remember the late 1950s and 1960s, Paar invented late night talk show television. He was host of The Tonight Show long before Johnny Carson. He could launch a performer’s career or end a career with a single word. Every young musician and comedian’s dream was to make an appearance on the Jack Paar Show. It might be the end. Then again, who knew what might happen when the curtain rose?

Dale told me that he was working Summer Stock Theater in Pennsylvania when The Jack Paar Show was on its seasonal hiatus. He saw a young actor in a dramatic role who, he thought, just might be the funniest man he had ever seen.

Backstage, he kept the cast laughing.

During rehearsals, he kept the cast laughing.

He was, Dale said, a comedic genius who needed and deserved a national break. His name was Shelley Berman.

Dale Remington returned to The Jack Paar Show in September, and, as always, the cynical host immediately came knocking on his door. “Who are we gonna have on this week?” he asked.

“How about Shelley Berman?” Dale said.

“No,” Paar said. “I never heard of him.”

Next week, Paar knocked again, as always, and asked, “Who are we gonna have on this week?”

“How about Shelley Berman?”

“No,” Paar said. “I never heard of him.”

This went on week after week after week after week …

And one Monday, Paar stuck his head in the doorway and asked, “Who are we gonna have on this week?”

“How about Shelley Berman?” Dale said.

Jack Paar snapped his fingers and smiled. “Yeah. I’ve heard of him.”

Shelley Berman took the stage. He grabbed the microphone. He told one story. And history was made.

Shelley Berman became the hottest funny man in the country and the first comedian to ever appear at Carnegie Hall.

Jack Paar didn’t make him funny.

Berman was always funny.

Paar simply gave him a chance one night because, deep down in the recess of his mind, Jack Paar remembered his name.

I keep thinking that, sooner or later, Twitter can have the same impact for today’s indie authors.

Keep your name out front. Over and over. When you think it’s no use, and you’re tired, and your books aren’t selling, and you’re probably tweeting into dead air, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and do it again.

As author Richard Bach said, “The professional writer is the amateur writer who didn’t quit.” And one day book buyers will snap their fingers, smile, and say, “I think I’ll buy that book. I’ve heard of the author.”

Tweet. And tweet again.

You have a way to reach a lot of people day after day. You don’t have to be anonymous anymore.

Bio
Caleb Pirtle III
Hideaway, Texas

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of almost sixty books. He is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He served as sports editor for The Daily Texan and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. 

Pirtle has written three teleplays: Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, a mini-series for CBS television, Wildcat: The Story of Sarah Delaney and the Doodlebug Man, for a CBS made-for-television movie, and The Texas Rangers, a TV movie for John Milius and TNT television. He wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

 Pirtle’s novels include: Golgotha Connection, Last Deadly Lie, Cloverleaf, Jokers Are Wild, Dead Man’s Hand, and Friday Night Heat. He is presently working on two novels that are being serialized on venturegalleries.com: Wicked Little Lies and Secrets of the Dead.

Pirtle’s non-fiction books include: The A Game: Great Moments in the History of Alabama Football, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk, Chasing Love and Other Ghosts, Trail of Broken Promises, XIT: The American Cowboy, This Great Land, Other Voices, Other Towns, Tennessee Through the Looking Glass, Georgia Through the Looking Glass, The dark Side of the Rainbow, Texas: Its Lore and Its Lure, The Texas Outback, Deep Roots, Texas: The Rare Breed, Texas: Legacy of a Proud Land, Echoes from Forgotten Streets, Visions of Forgotten Streets, Life on Kilgore’s Unforgettable Streets, The Lonely Sentinel, The Glory Days, Place of Miracles, Engineering the World, Texas Cooking, and The Official, Old-Fashioned, Down-Home, Home-Grown Texas Cookbook.

He began his career in the newspaper business, working with the Plainview Daily Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, winning both the Texas Associated Press and Headliner’s Awards.

When Governor John Connally began the Texas Tourist Development Agency, he named Pirtle as his chief of media relations, which introduced Pirtle to the world of travel. He left Texas to become the travel editor of Southern Living Magazine for a decade, living in Birmingham and capturing the Discover America Award three times. At Southern Living, he wrote three books – The Unending Season, XIT: The American Cowboy, and The Grandest Day, all of which received the Southeastern Library Association award winners.  His Spirit of a Winner won the Small Press Book Award, and his Echoes from Forgotten Streets won the Texas Historical Book Award.

Pirtle served as editorial director for Dockery House Publishing in Dallas for twenty-five years, developing and producing books and magazines for the corporate and retail marketplace.

~ooOOoo~

“Golgotha Connection,” totally revised and re-written as a Christian thriller, was originally published as “Place of Skulls.”

A man with no known past and no name as been dispatched to the deserts, ghost towns, and underbelly of drug-infested Mexico to uncover a secret that could forever change the scope and teachings of Christianity. If not, the quest and the discovery would forever change his life.

A DEA agent has written that he possesses the unmistakable and undeniable proof that Christ did indeed return to earth again and walk the land of the Aztecs almost fifteen hundred years after his crucifixion on the cross. But has the agent found a relic? An artifact? A long lost manuscript of the written Word? No one knows, and the agent dies before he can smuggle the secret out of an empty grave.

Andrews St. Aubin can’t dig past the charred fragments of his memory, but he must battle drug lords and a rogue CIA agent to unravel the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the white-skinned, blue-eyed, god figure whose sixteenth century ministry, death, resurrection, and mystical promise to return someday to gather up his people closely parallels the Biblical story of the man called Christ. Is Quetzalcoatl merely a myth, or was he Christ himself?

Purchase THE GOLGOTHA CONNECTION at Amazon