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Lately, I’ve been considering a retreat from social media. The train wreck of political angst that Twitter has become usually leaves me raging mad. There’s just soo much stupid out there that can be expressed with 240 characters. Volumetrically, that’s what most of it is so even if I intend to focus on the better bits, invariably my attention will be ripped away by yet another red-hatted asshole spouting off about the Deep State or whatever. UGH!

With a Twitter vacation, my mental health and diction can only improve.

And then there’s Facebook, the granddaddy of the old school services, which I’d like to talk about specifically. I’ve been an infrequent FB user for some time, and lately, I’ve been thinking about why that might be.

One reason is that I’ve consciously rejected many of the older media models — television, cable, even newspapers — because those models are all powered by advertisement. I can’t stomach the idea that I’m paying for all that bullshyte twice. First with my time/attention and second by subsidizing the service in question. As is the case with YouTube I’d happily pay a reasonable subscription fee to *AVOID* endless advertisement custom designed to twist my pants in knots.

Facebook has been slipping in advertisements into our feeds for some time, and it’s annoying and wrong, but that’s not the biggest reason for my withdrawal.

I think it was 1988 when I asked Daliah to go to a school dance with me, she was the older sister of my middle brother’s buddy, and we all used to carpool to high school in my tiny 1972 Honda Civic. If I remember all that correctly. Anyway, I believe it was a Homecoming dance, and the theme was jeans and flannel or something like that because I’m pretty sure I still have a picture of the two of us which I uncovered while helping my folks move from Colorado. Ultimately it was this picture that reminded me of that night and what a good time we had together.

The picture also reminded me how scared I was to ask her. How excited she seemed when I did. How enthusiastic she was about going with me in the weeks before the dance. I know that I’m probably scraping the bottom of the barrel of my memory, but because of this one posed glossy in the 80’s I’ve now got a pile of good times and memories that I get to sort through.

Since leaving high school in 1991, I’ve not seen or heard from Deliah. Other than a chance meeting with her brother in the early 2000s this photo was the first time I’ve recalled her or that night. I’ve been positively wallowing in the nostalgia of it all.

Thing is that I’m not “connected” to either of these people on Facebook. Even though I have searched for them, they don’t seem to be around. Consequently, my imagination has been freed, I’m able to wonder “whatever happened to Deliah” because the question apparently can’t be answered.

That freedom is actually exceptionally liberating. Time, distance, age — all the things that change us — they’re still variables for her in my mind. Did she grow up and buy a boat? Is she even now single handing the Pacific in search for adventure? Is she happily ensconced in an Eastern Oregon commune happily raising a brood of Brown Coats who worship The Whedon? Is she a cutthroat capitalist quietly managing the board of some weapons manufacturing company? I don’t know!

Honestly, the more I think about it, I don’t want to know.

Facebook was great at first because it did connect me with people from my past. At first, lifting of that mist was enjoyable. “Oh hey, you’ve got two kids and a happy marriage. Good for you. And you too.” “So sad to learn of your loss or mistake.” But it turns out that the uncertainty and disconnection preserved plenty of precious moments like amber. The insect trapped a million years ago inside the sap of a tree is a focal point for the imagination, cut away the sap and you’re left with a crunchy mosquito.

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Writer’s Tool Box: Not Facebook Part Zwei

“So where ever you’re targeting advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money. I wish Facebook would remove all the fake likes from my page and from all the others, but that would mean admitting that they have generated significant ad revenue from clicks that weren’t genuine which then supress the reach of of page which had low engagement. Forcing those pages to pay again to reach unauthentic fans. So the truth is that Facebook benefits by maintaining the status quo. Because the reality is *NOBODY LIKES THAT MANY THINGS*”.

I found this on KB today and if you’re using Facebook to promote something there is ample evidence you’re wasting your time and money. Paying for page likes, or page promotions for that matter, seems increasingly like willingly donating to a racketeering scheme.

I will continue to cross post information about my writing to Facebook, but don’t expect me to ever use their services to promote through that particular social network. The noise to signal ratio is full of static.

Writer’s Tool Box: The Problem with Facebook

“The problem with Facebook is that it’s keeping things from you.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. If you’re reading this on Facebook right now, know that you’ve almost won the lottery.

My recent experiences with Facebook promotions was a less than stellar example of the grift that is Facebook. This guy does a very good job of explaining the internals of why this media outlet will never work out for creatives and independents.

Yeah sure, I’ll still use FB as a social site for an author presence, but my expectations have been summarily reduced. Otherwise, it’s little more than a corporate shill that hasn’t figured out how to monazite its products correctly. That is why I’m not going to do much more to develop my author presence in this social network. Ultimately, it will cost me more to get views that will likely never turn into sales, than other social networks where the views and the sales are far more likely to occur.

Also, buy my book.

Promotions to Book Sales

Boosted

Boosted

When I finished the paperback version, wading through hours of copy-editing, I took some friendly advice. Basically, it amounted to the following, “Plug your book, foo!” Nearly a full month after releasing the ebook version I had friends who had not heard my good news.

I researched my options and quickly came to realize that the best  was probably going to be Facebook. So I plugged the book on my blog, it posted to twitter, and thence to my author page on Facebook. This post, like all blog posts, is also forwarded to my GoodReads author page as well as my Amazon Author page (although the amount of page space granted blog posts is pretty slim) and LinkedIn (when their data connection isn’t borked).

Everything except the Facebook promotion was free of charge. But, and here is the important part, it’s really difficult to get any meaningful information about clicks to the Amazon book page from these media outlets. Facebook on the other hand offers this option (although very rudimentary).

Metrics

Total Reach and Paid Reach

I boosted my “Plugging” post twice through Facebook. What I really want to learn is how to turn my very limited budget of promotional dollars into book sales. The five to six-thousand views are likely a distraction. If you did not click through your scroll finger flew past my post in seconds. So toss those numbers out as meaningless.

“Photo clicks” and “page likes” also are meaningless. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m glad you liked my post about my book, but since I want you to buy my book (for the equivalent of a small cup of coffee) these likes just tickle my ego. A very small tickle.

Now what I want to know is how many of you looked at my book. Seventy of you clicked through. Unless something is wrong with Amazon’s reporting, seventy of you clicked through and then went back to browsing inspiring, viral videos of pandas rolling through pudding and snarky pictures that 97% of people won’t ever repost (supposedly because they’re not brave enough). So at roughly $0.97 a click, Facebook advertising does not seem to be what this Indie author needs to get the job done. Had absolutely all of you bought the ebook version of “The Big Red Buckle” I would have broke even, meaning my book sales would have covered the cost of the promotion.

Okay, so at least we know what not to do to make a living as an Indie.


In other news, I have additional experiments planned for the near future. I have ordered twenty copies of the paperback to take along with me to Detroit. Legendary ConFusion will mostly be a place for me to listen and soak up the finer points of how to make ends meet in this business. But I’m hoping to give away the print version of the book as well in the hope that it will get read and passed along as “worth reading.”

Also I’ve printed off fifty cards with QR codes embedded. They should look pretty snazzy when they show up and the best part is that they are a low cost, recyclable way to get the book out there.

Finally, I’m planning on re-pricing the book with a KDP “Countdown Deal” starting on the 17th. For some period of time I’m going to drop the cost by about two thirds. Coupled with the giveaways, and the cards maybe I can generate some sales this way.

This sales game is a little disheartening, at least right now and from this side. In some ways I can see the advantage of going the traditional route, seeking out a publisher, nailing a contract, and getting that advance. Even if it’s a tiny fraction of what you could make with any particular work your publisher’s focus is on distribution and sales so your’s does not need to be.

That said, I’m holding up well. I know that this is the right path for me, at least right now. I’ve been hard at work continuing to write “Up Slope” and “Jojk” (a second short, companion to “Joulupukki“) although my daily word count is down, the result of moving and other monkey wrench activity in our daily lives, I will continue to write, write, and write some more.