Morgan the Musician and Shannon the Chef

After years of music school and uncountable hours of practice Morgan makes a decent living playing jazz guitar in clubs and coffee shops and as a session musician at a local recording studio.

Following a similar path, Shannon studied under a chef who was a family friend and has worked for the past six years in various upscale restaurants.

Morgan, the musician, has always loved to cook. Guests at Morgan’s special dinners have always said “You should open a restaurant!” Morgan just smiles.

Shannon, the chef, took piano lessons as a child and a few years ago, started practicing in earnest. Guests at Shannon’s living room concerts say “You should play down at the coffee shop!” Shannon never took it seriously—before now.

One of Morgan’s friends was hosting a special dinner party for out of town business guests and begged Morgan to cater it. “Nothing fancy, do what you always do, but please, feed my guests!” Though Morgan initially refused payment, the friend insisted.

Without even asking, a friend of Shannon’s booked a gig at a local coffee shop. Based on some recordings the friend had made at a living room concert, they were glad to pay a small fee for the performance.

Since Morgan and Shannon share a network of friends, each is aware of the other’s vocation—and their avocation.

When Shannon was invited to a dinner party hosted by Morgan the musician, Shannon expressed genuine appreciation for the food, for the flavors and presentation. It never entered Shannon’s head to expect a professional presentation at the level Shannon was capable of. Morgan was, after all, a hobbyist, and amateur simply having fun with friends.

After one of Shannon’s living room concerts, Morgan asked about some of Shannon’s original songs, and expressed genuine appreciation for the arrangement of a cover tune Shannon had performed. Morgan wouldn’t dream of critiquing Shannon’s fingering on the fretboard or choice of material. Shannon is, after all, just having fun, an amateur. Music is Shannon’s hobby, that’s all.

Now, though, things are different. Morgan, a musician, is being paid to cook. Shannon, a chef, is making money with music.

Would you expect them to have different expectations of each other’s hobbies now?

Folks who hire Morgan to cater a dinner are delighted with not only the food, but the price. They couldn’t afford Shannon’s highly professional service anyway, so they’re just glad they can get something they like at a price they can afford.

The coffee shops where Shannon makes a few bucks, the living room concerts that pay in generous tips, are glad to have lively music played by someone who loves what they do, who does it well enough for their guests at a price that allows them to have live music instead of prerecorded.

If these clients are happy to pay Morgan and Shannon for what were once only hobbies, should the other be miffed that “Shannon’s guitar playing isn’t studio-ready” or “Morgan’s cooking would never make it in a fine restaurant”?

At what point does it become a professional artist’s right to set expectations for another artist?

When a hobby morphs into a side business does an artist owe patrons the same quality as leaders in their field?

Is an artist obligated to be excellent, world-class, top of their game, before they’re allowed to exchange their art for money?

Or is that between the artist and those who are exchanging their money for that art?

9 Ways Your Fans Can Support You

My wife Sue provides social media marketing services for authors. I am, of course, her most important client. I’ve asked her to share some of her checklists and tools with you. We’d both love to hear if this type of information is helpful.—Joel

Sue L Canfield
When your fans share your writing with others it carries more social proof than your own marketing efforts because it comes from a third party. Make it easy for them. Real fans are glad to help.

Do you have all the following in place so your fans are connected with you and sharing your posts with their friends?

  1. Connect with your fans on the following social media platforms.
  2. Ask your fans to share your social media posts by doing the following.
    • Retweet something you shared on Twitter.
    • Share a post from your Facebook Author page on their own Facebook timeline.
    • Repin something from one of your Pinterest boards.
    • Share one of your status updates on LinkedIn.
    • Comment on one of your Instagram posts.
    • On Goodreads, recommend one of your books to your friends.
  3. Ask fans to sign up for your newsletter.
  4. Ask fans to share the link to sign up for your newsletter.
  5. Ask fans to subscribe to your blog and to comment at the blog. Write a blog post about how they can support you. (See Joel’s at his author website)
  6. Directly ask them to buy your books.
  7. Encourage fans to buy a copy of one of your books for a friend who they think will enjoy it.
  8. Ask fans to review your books on Amazon.
  9. Let fans know you’d love to hear from them and to send you an email.

Let your fans know that supportive things like reviews at Amazon, comments at the blog, enthusiastic shares on social media and even personal emails help make you enthusiastic about continuing to write.

Author Bio:
Sue L Canfield has been working with social media since 2005. She blogs regularly about how to use social media and consults on best social media practices at Chief Virtual Officer. She specializes in helping authors create and maintain their online presence. She currently manages a team of four social media account managers and over a dozen social media clients.

The Serious Downgrading of the Phoenix Springtime Author Event

I assure you it will be NOTHING like thisI gave myself until September 1 to make a firm decision about a possible author event here in Phoenix in the spring of 2017.

Right now I can’t commit to a full-scale convention with speakers and workshops. What I can commit to is something much, much smaller: a simple meet and greet.

Coffee? Tea? Marketing?

We’re going to choose a venue (or two: one daytime coffee shop, one evening brew pub) and a date in March, and Sue and I will spend the day and evening waiting for y’all to show up.

… more … “The Serious Downgrading of the Phoenix Springtime Author Event”

Literary and Commercial Considerations in Self-Publishing

My thoughts on this excellent article by Nick Levey.

tl;dr re my comments

  1. the situation is fluid
  2. those too lazy to do the work of digging through the onslaught of independently published work are missing out, but perhaps they deserve to
  3. I am not embarrassed that I self-published and it is not a fall-back position, it is my first choice.

Maybe I need a tl;dr for my tl;dr

many-books

Quotes in italics (my comments in parentheses.)

shows just how uncomfortably firm the association is between traditional trade publishers and literary value (which we know doesn’t exist: publishing is an industry, it is commerce with primarily financial goals)

There are many possible reasons why literary fiction has fewer examples of successful self-published works, but perhaps the simplest answer is that readers of the genre are served sufficiently by traditional publishers (This is a powerful argument against self-publishing literary fiction to make money which means I’ll have to do it to make art)

a narrower and more volatile market instead of a broad and sustainable one (As author businesspeople, we must take the view of our own sustainability, not that of the market as a whole. If I can live on what I earn from writing, that means exponentially more to me than whether or not my genre or books as a whole are selling better or worse.)

Mainstream literary fiction, we can assume, has different assumptions and associations, and its readers are more reluctant to explore alternative modes of publication (Where does that conclusion come from? Curious about the data supporting the statement that readers of literary fiction are reluctant to explore non-traditional publishing avenues. Chicken, meet egg.)

David Vinjamuri . . . concludes that the “problem with Indie books is that there are so many of them.” (I restrain myself here, but, too many books? Egads.)

Such readers were often also unconvinced of the value of rereading (and later) price can be a key factor in the experience of its products (Note to self: non-rereaders want digital [which = disposable] so dial back my obsession with selling print.)

between 1830 and 1859, more than half of the novels serialized in Australia were written by just one man, John Lang (Great googlymooglies, that’s amazing.)

The spread of literary culture has always been furthered by treating novels as the commodities they are, subjecting them to the whims and peculiarities of the market in order to improve their uptake by the public. (Lovely thought. This is primarily where traditional publishing is missing the boat.)

gives authors the ability to choose how much their book is worth (Badly worded, that. Price and value are entirely disconnected.)

Many post-pressers are thus working only transitionally within this domain, while holding out for traditional validation. (This bothers me.)

(Learned a new word: stoush.)

it’s difficult to view current self-publishing as aligned with an underground when it is so dependent on the technology and the business model of Amazon. (A troubling truth. But why do I find it troubling?)

For Kloos, traditional publishing is still the desirable pathway for the production and dissemination of the literary object; self-publishing comes as a last resort. (I have no respect whatsoever for those who abandon what they believe is the proper course of action. If you think traditional publishing is “real” publishing then either do the work or opt out, but don’t settle.)

The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)

Alex ZabalaIf you are an author, here are some tips for selling books on Amazon. There is no silver bullet for success. I can’t guarantee you will sell books if you follow my Ten Commandments. However, failure is almost surely guaranteed if you don’t have a successful plan. Keep in mind that it’s a tough world out there. It’s very difficult to sell books.

These commandments are written in order of importance and production sequence: … more … “The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)”

Your Author Website: Choosing a Good WordPress Theme

Big fan of WordPress. I use it for all my sites and for Spinhead’s clients’ sites as well. As a writer you’ll note the correct use of apostrophes in that sentence. (See below for the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and trust me, you want to know this.)

Choosing a theme seems to be a massive roadblock to beginners.

Let’s blow that up and shovel it into the ditch, eh? … more … “Your Author Website: Choosing a Good WordPress Theme”

The Surefire Method to Repel Connections and Make People Mad at You

i-cant-see-you-la-la-la-la-laIgnore them.

When they leave a comment on the blog, read it, maybe, but don’t respond.

If they ask a question on social media or by email, ignore it.

Don’t offer new information, say, by posting to your blog or updating your website.

Instead, disappear for weeks at a time.

If you want to compete in the business of being an author in 2016 you had better be approachable and responsive.

Or someone who is will take your readers.

And their money.

Turning Your Website Into a Connection Machine

I am not using “machine” in the cool and/or hip sense, as in, your website will magically cause magic to magically happen.

I am using it the sense of a mechanism which does a thing. Because your website is probably an online brochure, limiting, perhaps even repelling, connection. Do these things well, and your site will have the mechanics to allow, even foster, connection. (These are mechanical steps, not social engineering, which is a subject for a different marketing-based post.)

The-Machine

Quick and dirty, not necessarily in order of importance unless otherwise stated.

… more … “Turning Your Website Into a Connection Machine”

Free: How’s That Working for Ya?

front-cover-perspective300x420Just fine, thank you very much.

Best Beloved finally had time to put on her accountant hat this week and gave me numbers about book sales this year.

The numbers themselves are small. It’s sad, but I’ll get over it.

Here’s the wildly unexpected part: sales of Through the Fog, which I give away free just for signing up for my fiction newsletter, are the highest of all my books, and higher than they’ve ever been for this book.

… more … “Free: How’s That Working for Ya?”

Free is Not a Price and Hope is Not a Business Plan

Prepare for a long rambling rant with overtones of self-analysis.

I have written before about using free as a strategy, not a price.

Please, make business decisions based on evidence, a plan, not hoping and wishing.

I’ve read mention of people giving away tens of thousands of digital downloads of their book, and receiving a few dozen reviews and the equivalent of $700 in related sales.

If the effort involved is minimal and the reward is $700, I guess I can see that. I suppose I have to reserve judgment until I have more data.

Yes, I want lots of people to read my books.

What I don’t want is for lots of people to just line up and download my books. It’s not the same thing.

free-get-in-line

… more … “Free is Not a Price and Hope is Not a Business Plan”