Choosing Tools Wisely

So I was talking to my friend Hartley (aka PetLvr) about Pinterest.   It seemed to me to be yet another sort of cool, sort of so/so  photo sharing site.    And then he showed me the pin for his book.   “That’s nice,” I thought.   Then he showed me how the pin is linked to the book’s actual download page.   He asked me for my book’s landing page,  and then added a pin for it.     It took me only moments then to realize,  hey this is WAY cool.    My friend and I just made a bookstore.   And it’s a bookstore that could get lots of casual browsers if only we got a bunch of other folks to join us.

I’m looking for authors who are willing to let me promote their books.   Your e-book or print book must already be for sale at a unique URL.    You will only need to permit me to pin a picture of your book cover and link it to where  you’re already selling it.   If it’s on Smashwords or Amazon please note that I will use affiliate links and earn a tiny commission,  though I am happy to feature ebooks that are offered for download from your own web site or even books that are sold,  but not on Smashwords or Amazon.   As long as you have a decent book cover image and a unique sales URL,  you’re in!

Just leave a comment with your book’s URL  and I will take care of the rest.   That Pinterest makes a great free virtual storefront may not be what the folks who created it intended,  but it seems perfect for this use,  at least for books with colorful covers.   I am thinking that this could be a great way for lots of us #indie authors and bloggers to promote our work–  as Hartley pointed out we can All re-pin each other’s books and the links to the sales pages will endure no matter how many times you re-pin the book cover image.   This is a great example of a friend showing me how to use a tool that had not seemed very useful to me before.    And you know,  maybe Michael  is right that all of the tools he promotes really are  necessary for a serious social networker.   But honestly,   I think it’s more likely that as my friend Stu Rader (aka 12flat of Olivia International) observed the other day:

” For a company, brand or client I whole-heartedly endorse a social media manager to have a central focus to a max of say 4 top level outlets from within a central hub. The hub should be a collaborative cloud or internal web based network/intranet. The front door to their business online is the Web site. Facebook personal profile is pretty obvious, G+ is gaining the momentum for businesses that cannot be ignored in 2012. Quora is a great place for an executive and brand/product manager to field questions about a product or service, since it does not allow business aliases. Facebook page with a possible tumblr feeding in. You notice I didn’t say Twitter, though we re-publish to it from #fb. Way too much IM noise/short link affiliate types there but fun when you’re bored. The above all applies to sole proprietorships and mega corps with many business units. ”

I greatly admire Michael‘s perseverance,  and honestly I don’t ever actually expect to “win”  our little argument.     I’m not a fan of all the sites Stu talks about–  you may remember that I hated G+ and canceled my account on that network months and months ago;  I also have never tried or used Quora.  And while I acknowledge what Stu said about the spammy short links and noise on Twitter,  I think that Twitter can be a very powerful tool for businesses and activists alike    I don’t think there is nor can be any “one size fits all”  answer for marketing,  social networking or anything else.   But I am dead certain that no individual or company can afford to be  everywhere.

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It’s Not Writer’s Block

a blogger suffers from writer's blockAdding a category cloud in the sidebar made me realize that I really need to do something that will allow me to use the #amwriting tag a bit more.   Actually,  I hardly feel as though I have “stopped writing”.    I am publishing a new 500-word or so post every calendar day,  and on some days more than one post.    I am making a real effort to respond to every comment I receive on this site.   I continue to participate in conversations on Facebook and on Twitter,  as well as private chats and IM’s on lots of different sites.   I can’t honestly say that I have taken any meaningful  break from “writing”.    And yet my plan to quickly update Walking Down The Avenue with a new section on Empire Avenue Missions and push out a version 1.2 early in the new year is,  I am just a bit ashamed to admit,  kind of on hiatus so far.

I could blame poor @Dups and the  #EAv team.    It is true that they are listening to user feedback and implementing some refinements to the new featue.   The fact that you can now target your mission by four fairly limited criteria,  does bring additional functionality to the feature,  although I am crossing my fingers that as Brad Grier indicated in a post in the #SocialEmpire group on Facebook that they may make it possible to restrict Missions by the length of time an account has been active on the Avenue.   This functionality would bring Missions from ‘that’s nice’,  ‘through Hey!  I can use this to drive traffic to my new blog’  (how many of you first visited this site through an Empire Avenue mission– leave a comment to raise your hand!) to ‘I can use this to target my book to the folks who need it the most’.   Let them earn eaves for reading a book that they really need to read.    It could be my Eureka!  moment on Empire Avenue.

So I resolve again to put the new blog aside and actually work on writing my book.   (I wonder if my successful writer friends like Brent and Susan  go through this procrastinating sort of routine?)   However of course I am not going to do it until I Schedule this post.   (With a daily deadline I am FAR too anal to leave it until it is the day it is due to start working on it.   And if as I intend I put this in the hopper just before midnight on Tuesday January 17,  I will be two days  ahead on the schedule,  and obligated at least in Theory to open up the manuscript and try real hard to force myself to working on the new section.   And yet I know that my Inner Lazybones  (I KNOW I have to give him a name but unlike Holly I’m not quite self-confident to call him something like Prunebutt) can still make endless excuses.

“But I said this new section was going to be part of the advanced guide,  the book for social media professionals  and I’m scared they will laugh at me and tell me in no uncertain terms that I am not one of them.”   (‘You’ve been making and keeping great friends with incredible people through online connections for more than 20 years now.   You’re even smart enough never  to tell people you’ve been “doing social media” for twenty years.  Why even Anise Smith appreciates that.’)  “But but but…  you’re doing so good and your share price keeps going up,  and the new blog is really doing well.   Surely you don’t want to stop that!!”)   ‘Well of course I don’t.     I’ve got two days in the can.    I might let you talk me into working on and scheduling a third post,  but if there’s three days in the can  I have no other deadline it is inexcusable not to at least try to complete an assignment’.   “BUT BUT BUT….”

I don’t honestly know what Lazybones will come up with after I schedule that third post.    But who knows,   maybe you will see the #amwriting hashtag from me again before too long.

Still Counting

As we approach the new year,  I am still counting my blessings.      I decided to move my personal blog to WordPress.    Since Google introduced Plus  (the new social network I do Not find compelling and am mostly waiting for it to fail) I have had to log in to separate Google accounts for my g-mail (@libdrone.info), YouTube (where I am now WalkingEAv rather than Libdrone) and my old personal blog spot blog,  which I have never in fact  been faithful about keeping up with.

Since Empire Avenue is now tracking WordPress.com activity,  I realized I would be better served ditching a Google product I don’t really like and trying to focus my long form blogging activity here on WordPress.   I plan to buy a domain (possibly  libdronemusing.com).   I will also work on installing a better theme and uploading my own graphics.

I have decided that my immediate focus is going to be on writing a section of the advanced guide (haven’t settled on a title yet) that deals with Empire Avenue’s  new Missions feature.   As you may know the advanced guide will be directed  towards social media professionals,  so I am a little bit nervous,  but I think that if I do a really good job on the Missions section,  I will go ahead and release 1.2 adding the Missions section from the upcoming advanced book.   This will allow me to truthfully state that the book is fully updated to reflect all of the changes that have occurred going forward.   If Empire Avenue continues to grow I hope to be able to continue selling both books for years to come.

As I remarked to my friend Jenn last night,  the first advice is always to write about what you are passionate about.   And I continue to very much enjoy Empire Avenue and socializing with all of the great people I have met.  Honestly,  I don’t know if I will ever become a faithful scheduled poster to this personal blog.  But I know in my heart that there will always be long form things I feel like saying to my friends that will never quite fit into any of my specialty blogs.   (I actually have half a dozen sites on blogspot but most of them have not been updated in years.)   I intend to keep my music and words blogs on Tumblr where I feel their abbreviated format is a perfect fit.   I am going to wait until I get the new domain to re-register this blog with Empire Avenue.

I’d like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for being a friend and for your help and kindness throughout the year.    Here’s wishing you an yours a safe and prosperous new year.

Walking Down The Avenue v1.0 coming next Thursday!

Dups and Aaron and the team did not defeat me.   As I had feared all along,  they did make multiple significant changes to Empire Avenue this week.   But I am pleased to say that I have just finished all of the revisions.     One more through proof-reading tomorrow or the next day and Walking Down The Avenue v 1.0  will be ready to “smash” into a real eBook.

A friend who is a retired graphic designer made the book cover for me,  using a public domain image.   I’m thrilled with the cover  (Which looks So much nicer than my very amateurish effort on the beta).  I expect that I will upload it to Smashwords on Tuesday.  Provided there are no problems with the upload and it all goes according to plan,  I may give the book’s sharehloders ((e)WALKING) the first sneak peak via a shareholder mail on Wednesday.   Then starting Thursday I have a list of 14 people,  all of whom have lots and lots of shareholders,  who have agreed to send out a shareholder mail containing a 100% off coupon.

Although the price is going up from free to $2.99,  I don’t expect to sell many at all at that price this first month.  I will be promoting the book with the 100% off coupon all over the place and hope to get twice as many people to download the $2.99 version as did the free version, but I’m not really expecting that many of them will pay for it.    What I hope is that Empire Avenue continues to evolve, change and grow.   To a point where a year down the line,  hundreds of newcomers each day get the book recommended to them from the first thousand or so who get to read it for free.

If you’d like to be one of those first thousand,  you might sign up for my very low volume mailing list in the sidebar.    On September 1st,  I plan to mail the 100% off coupon to my e-mail list.    It will only be the second e-mail I have ever sent out on that list,  which is really only for updates about Walking Down The Avenue.  So if you’d like to peruse the eBook when it’s published next month,  please fill out the form and check your e-mail on 9/1/2011.

It seems as though…

I will just never be a consistent, regular personal blogger.    While Empire Avenue has made some changes this month,  in particular a new and improved layout for profiles and support for mobile check in service Four Square and iPhone photo sharing suite Instagram.     So I am going to have to do some re-writing and revising in the next two weeks,  for the most part the book’s text will stand as written.      I am going to allow a handful of other players to send out a free coupon code for Walking Down The Avenue 1.0 via shareholder mail.     I will also send out the coupon code via shareholder mail to both my (e)LIBDRONE and (e)WALKING accounts and via e-mail to everyone who signs up for my mailing list.  (Look in the right sidebar!)    For those who do not receive a coupon code,  the list price will be $2.99.   Since I will be heavily promoting the 100% discount coupon,  I don’t know how many copies I may or may not actually sell very many copies,  but I am looking forward to at least potentially beginning to make some money from the eBook.

Still to be done,  I need to get a new book cover image ready.   I also need to finalize arrangements with the folks who will be sending out the coupon codes for me,  and make those last changes and additions to the manuscript.    August 30 will be here before I know it.  (Although the book will officially launch on September 1st,  I intend to actually upload it on August 30th,  to allow time to be sure that the book is up and available on launch day.)   I am so pleased with all of the great people I am meeting on Empire Avenue and am especially grateful to the nearly 250 folks who (as of this writing) have downloaded the free beta edition of Walking Down The Avenue.    The free beta will continue to be available until approximately August 30th– the new 1.0 version will replace the beta version on Smashwords.    If you download the beta version from Smashwords prior to the upgrade,  you will be able to re-download that beta version again for as long as Smashwords exists.    However, you will not be able to download the new 1.0 version unless you buy it,  either for $2.99 or using a coupon code as described above.

Thank you so much for your help and support.   I look forward to continuing to write and update Walking Down The Avenue for as long as Empire Avenue itself keeps going.

Getting ready for 1.0

On September 1st I will be releasing version 1.0  of my eBook Walking Down The Avenue.   At that time I will raise the price from free to 99 cents.   I feel certain that I will not distribute as many paid copies right off the bat as I did free copies,  but my  strategy with this book has been as a long term project.  If, as I hope, Empire Avenue has a nice long run and the game continues to constantly evolve and change,  I should be able to continue publishing up-dated versions every two or three months.

Actually,  I am hoping to have the new text and all of the edits done and the new and improved book cover image uploaded by August 30th or so,  so that I can make sure that everything is working correctly.   Then on September 1st I will announce the new book release in a guest blog post on a popular social media blog.   A free coupon code will be available to Empire Avenue shareholders,  both mine and those of the host of my guest blog post.     I will probably be fairly free in giving out the coupon code to shareholders.     I will also be distributing the coupon code via my e-mail list.   So if you haven’t already,  you might want to sign up in the sidebar at the right.   This is a very low volume mailing list.   Every six to eight weeks, at most I will send a new message.   So far the only message I have sent was to announce the availability of the beta version of Walking. I give you my word that I will never be a spambot.

How much work I am going to have to do on revisions depends largely on how much Dups and the team change the game between now and around August 23rd.    I have already made some updates and revisions and begun adding new material,  but I am very much at the mercy of developments on the Avenue as to how much updating I will have to do.   I am so pleased and grateful to everyone who has downloaded and read Walking Down The Avenue and especially to the 32 of you who have subscribed and even more grateful to the 15 folks who opened the message.   So here is just a little added incentive to sign up for my mailing list– everyone who is subscribed by August 31st will continue to receive a free coupon code for my eBook for as long as I publish it.    As I said I plan initially to be very free in handing out the free coupon code,  but just as what is now free will cost 99 cents next month,  I don’t plan on giving the book away forever.   So be one of the few who have the savvy to sign up now and continue to get the most useful eBook about Empire Avenue for as long as the game goes on.

Walking Down The Avenue– Available Now!

A day early,  and absolutely free of charge  my new eBook Walking Down The Avenue is now available on Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/70323

I  tried very hard to be clear and concise and to take as much of the confusion that seems to define Empire Avenue out of the picture.   I hope that you will take a look at it–  it’s available for download in all e-reader formats as well as in .pdf   if you prefer to read on your computer screen.     I know there is at least one typo that made it past my many, many proof-readings.    I am very interested in hearing about any errors you notice as well as in getting any and all feedback you might care to share.     You can leave your feedback as a comment on this post or feel free to e-mail me privately at  writing@libdrone.info.

Here’s wishing you and yours a great  Fourth of July weekend.

Almost There

I have been making much progress towards publishing my first eBook,  which I still hope is going to happen on or shortly before July 1st.      I know my homemade cover looks nothing like a professionally designed one would  (and I do hope to be able to afford a real cover at some point in the future).    It’s also going to be a very short little eBook– only about 18 word processor pages.

(I can here the snorts and derision alreadey–  ‘it took you a couple of months to write 18 freaking pages?!???’    Yes, actually.    Empire Avenue changes and evolves every day and many of the sections have had to be re-written multiple times as changes on the Avenue made them inaccurate,  in some cases within minutes of being written.)     I play to continue updating, revising and expanding and expect to release new versions every month or so.    I have tried to upload the book to iWriteReadRate– my friend Adam’s great new eBook site.   Unfortunately,  it did not work properly for me.   The site produced a  .pdf file that is 2700 pages long and has text in on the middle 1.5 inches or so of each page.    Adam has his tech folks looking into it and I am hopeful of being ready to sell on that site by Friday.  

Meanwhile,  my project for today is to add and link a table of contents and make a couple of other changes to comply with the Smashwords style guide,  which will enable me to upload to Smashwords, which would make my little book available via a huge number of eBook vendors including Amazon kindle, B &N Nook, etc.    I am very hopeful of finding success in the brave new world of eBooks and honestly can’t wait to see what this week will bring.

Reserve a free copy of Walking Down the Avenue now!

So I’m writing a book.   About Empire Avenue as a matter of fact.   Honestly,   it is slow going.   EAv is evolving and changing so rapidly that even in the early pages of  draft,  I’ve had to re-write sections several times due to changes in the rules and procedures.  

I find myself very taken with Empire Avenue as I become more and more involved with and spend more and more time hanging out with great friends like Holly, Jake, Suspiria, Anise, Gina, Casey, Dirk, Scott and Ryan.   Not to mention Shannon, Travis, Hank, Carole, Stu, Sheree, Robert, Peter,  Mike, Paulo, Cyril, Caleb and Adriel.   Or Nakeva, Sharon, Michael and Jeffrey and so on and so on.   Honestly,  I’ve met so many people from all over the world since joining Empire Avenue that I have to mark it as a life changing experience.  My one gripe is that Empire Avenue can be very confusing to newcomers.   So much so that it  is even a bit off-putting.   Even to people who have mastered Twitter.     Which is why I decided to write a book specifically directed at Empire Avenue newcomers.   I am trying to be definitive without being verbose.   Authoritative without ever talking down to anyone.    A book that is short, useful and cheap.

I hope to have the beta edition  (this is going to be an eBook and I plan to number the frequently updated editions like software) available for sale by mid July.    If you would like to receive a copy of the beta edition, not at the amazingly low list price of  79 cents,  but instead absolutely free of charge,  please sign up for my very low volume mailing list– using the widget in the right sidebar.   The first message I will send to this list will be when the eBook is published and ready for download,  as I said hopefully in early to mid July.   After that you can expect that I will write to you at most every four to six weeks.   (Yeah,  I am going a bit overboard to avoid being spammish*)