Archive for marketing

Kinesthetic Learning as an Adult

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

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It’s funny what we think we know. Logic can serve us well, or, if imperfect, it can lead us far off the path we wish to tread.

My own logic, for example, is almost comically imperfect.

Pathos, Logos, and Aramis — I mean Ethos — are the three pillars of critical thought. In order, they mean emotional, logical, and athoritic (athoritical? Authority..cal? Hmm…) proof. In other words, we use these three tools to prove something is true in academic study. Personally, I’m stronger in pathos than the others, though I absolutely understand the importance of ethos — trusting authorities who have done a ton more research and work in an area than I have. Sometimes these pillars can be abused, such as when a crooked politician uses ethos and pathos alone to convince the masses he’s correct, or, in my case, when only logos is used… and the logic is flawed.

I am a kinesthetic learner. That means I have to actually do something to understand it. If you just tell me or show me, I’m not going to retain anything. I’ve known this ever since 6th grade, when I was invited to the “smart” kids’ school because my best friend went there and they had a bring-a-friend day. I did such a great job that the teacher was confused as to why I wasn’t enrolled. She even called up my regular teacher to ask. The reason? I made D’s and C’s. The “smart” kids made A’s. Funny thing was, if I had gone to the “smart” school, I would have made A’s because they taught kinestheticly, as opposed to the “regular” school that taught exactly the way I didn’t learn. The “smart” school teacher understood this and got angry, but there was nothing she could do. I continued to go to the school that was wrong for me simply because I couldn’t do well enough there to go to the one that was right.

Frustrating, but I learned an important lesson — I wasn’t stupid, just different.

I used that lesson through middle and high school, and while I didn’t get perfect grades, I did okay for myself. College and graduate school were even better. I learned what I wanted, how I wanted, earning my Bachelor’s as valedictorian and my Master’s with a 4.0. You’d think I’d remember all that as I continued to learn after school.

Yeah… not so much.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog (and thank you if you have!) I’ve been going through a new adventure lately, trying to learn how to sell my books and get myself into the industry as a viable (read: respected by my colleagues) author. Now, my logos thinking told me there were logical steps to take to go about this that made sense. They were, in order:

  • Write the book
  • Edit the book
  • Publish the book
  • Tell people about the book online
  • Wait for people to read the book and thus, care about it
  • When the people cared about the book, then they would come to the website, watch the videos, buy the next book, etc.

So, logically the LAST steps would be to:

  • Finish the website
  • Write Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. to an audience that’s already there because they already care about the book
  • Keep posting videos, again for an audience that’s already there because they already care about the book

This made sense to me. I was using logos, after all. LOGIC! The ONE of the three pillars of critical thinking that NEVER LETS YOU DOWN.

Turns out, I’m not even part Vulcan.

Another part of my logic was that writing anything about… well… writing… on here would be pointless, considering how many other writing blogs are out there covering the exact same thing. Pointless, redundant, and a waste of my time to tell people what everyone else has already told them a million times.

All this, of course, flew in the face of what everyone was telling me. I have friends in the industry who I love and respect beyond this world: published authors, agents, editors. All of them have given me advice. I can imagine how many authors like me — unpublished in trade but wanting to be, unagented, unable to write full-time — would kill to be in my place. People pay good money just to sit with an agent or editor for a few minutes, and here I had them as friends, telling me what I needed to do in everyday conversation… for free! But I blew off that coveted advice. Blew it off! Why?

Because to me, it wasn’t logical.

*Facapelm*

This brings us back to the way I learn. They told me things. I didn’t get it. They showed me things. I didn’t understand. I argued because it didn’t make sense that anyone who hadn’t even read the book would care to follow me, watch my videos, go to my websites, etc. Why would they? What would be their motive if not to learn more about books they already liked? This was LOGICAL dangit!

But I had forgotten two vital things about myself:

  1. Logos is not my strength.
  2. I learn by doing.

Lately, I have begun to dip my toes into the “illogical” waters of my friends’ advice. I’d like to say I came to my senses, but to be honest it was more of a pathos response. In other words, I was discouraged by the results of my own logos-fuled decisions. So, begrudgingly (“it doesn’t make SENSE dangit!”) I turned to ethos, and finally listened to the authorities who had been trying to teach me all along. What was that advice?

Act like I already have an audience, and they will come.

What?

But, as illogical as that seems to me, the results, though small at this moment, have been a lot more encouraging even within the first day or two, than in months of following my own logic. I’ve Tweeted about both my book and my blog even when nobody seemed to notice, replied to other people’s Tweets, posted on Facebook in what felt like a vacuum, worked more on a website it has felt like nobody would ever visit, and continue to upload videos to a Patreon only two people follow. I’ve stayed positive when I felt anything but. I’ve been upbeat, excited, and prevalent. Does it still feel like I’m screaming into a void? Most the time. Are people responding anyway? Yes! Not tons — not even tens — but enough to keep me going.

I’m doing it, and thus learning how. This is my strength. I can’t forget that.

Still doesn’t make any freaking sense though. Grumble

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Website Revamp, Baby!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I’m gonna start with this awesome little nugget: I just found out I almost have 1000 blog followers! When and how did this happen? But most of you are very quiet. Say hi; I don’t bite! You all rock with your support. Thank you!

In case you can’t tell this site has had a bit of a makeover. I decided that if things pick up with “Guts and Glory” once the 3rd book is out, I MIGHT need this site to be ready. One thing I did was think about what people are looking for when they come to my site, especially those who ask for the URL from me in person — my books. Which before weren’t featured very well. *Facepalm* SO, now they are! I also shortened my menu and updated all the media and review information. I like it a lot more now. What do you think?

Other than FINALLY finishing Book 3, now it’s time for me to get on with completing http://gutsandglorybooks.com. That will take a lot more work, especially the fannish areas. My biggest challenge, besides Books’ Laboratory (anyone know how to create a game from scratch? EEP!) will be keeping everything safe for the kids who use it. I plan to have a requirement of the Nil Name quiz, so they can use that name instead of their own on, for example, the message boards (for the teens), the fan art area (for kids and teens), etc. I will also not have private message options, and I’ll need some mods and admins to help with the boards and chat.

Of course, the usage of these areas will be EXTREMELY small at first (and — let’s face it — possibly forever) but I don’t want there to be an issue I’m not anticipating, just in case. If anyone has any other ideas to keep the place on lock down, please let me know. The last thing I want is to make an unsafe place for my young readers!

But first, I need your help with the Nil Name quiz. I FINALLY got it to work for people other than me, so if you would be willing to take the quiz and tell me what you got and whether it was accurate, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

What’s Your Nil Name? Quiz

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 8-ish: Innocent Villainy

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

kiddo

Day 8… ish. I was off work for a week, so… yeah.

Anyway, HI! I have good news — thanks to my wonderful friend Molly, I have the ability to write at home again! W00T! Thank you Molly for letting me borrow your iPad; I will return it as soon as I am able to buy a laptop for myself. Does this mean I will be blogging more? I certainly hope so, but knowing my scatterbrainedness (and the fact that I kinda have a book to write) let’s just wait and see, shall we?

As for today’s subject, I want to talk a little bit about villains. Namely, making them 3-D in children’s books. The norm for giving villains depth in most stories is to give them a great backstory. A hard and fast — and even sympathetic — reason for doing what they do. Who are they? Why do they do bad things? What makes them really TICK, deep down inside? But for parents, who want their children to learn that it’s NEVER okay to be a villain no matter what the reason, and for kids, who see the world in black and white, just how do you keep your villain from being a parody, a shadow, or a mask?

This is a question I have run up against many times in my writing career. I am not afraid to say that 99.9% of my bad guys have been… bland and boring. Tropey. Exactly what you’d expect a villain to be.

Blech.

But I’m not alone in this. Think about the kids’ books you have loved. From Alice in Wonderland to Coraline, from The Wizard of Oz to “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, villains in kidlit tend to just be evil for the sake of being evil. The Queen of Hearts just is a bully. No reason given. Other Mother is demonic and therefore naturally bad. The Wicked Witch*… well… need I say more? As for Count Olaf, I like to say he’s like The Joker with fewer reasons to be nuts. And I won’t even get started on any of Roald Dahl’s monstrous inventions!

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this. After all, a large part of what makes kidlit fun is the simple good vs. evil aesthetic often inherent in it. And every single example I have given is from a story (or stories) I adore. That said, can we give our young readers more in their bad guys?

As it turns out, the answer to that is a resounding YES! At least according to some contemporary authors who are doing just that.

One great example is, of course, J.K. Rowling. Is Voldemort evil? Yes. Does he do bad things? Ohhh yeah. But Rowling also delves into his past, weaving a tragic story of a boy who struggled with loss and defeat at a very young age. Does she use this to excuse his actions? Not at all! But it does show the reader that he is more than a scary mask floating on the wind. And this is even more prevalent in her “lesser” villains, especially in young Draco Malfoy, whose character development is a work of art akin to Michelangelo’s, in my humble opinion.

But I digress.

*Fangirls*

*Ahem*

Another example can be found in the “Percy Jackson” books, though to be fair Rick Riordan kind of cheated on that end, using myths and legends who already embody the rich depth that only comes from centuries of storytelling. But I digress. His villains still count.

Still, these examples are as few and far between as the list of fantasy and sci-fi children’s books on Amazon. (Hint: it’s small.) Maybe I’m just not seeing it. Maybe I’m reading young readers wrong. Or maybe — just maybe — we need more depth, more magic, more wonder, in kidlit overall. Not just in its villains, but in… everything?

I’m in danger of getting off-topic here though. Let me return to villains. (Though I’m seeing another blog topic in the near future…)

Rowling and Riordan (and maybe others I missed; add them in comments!) have shown us that yes, kidlit villains can be 3-dimensional, if we choose to focus just a little more on them. In fact, keeping with the “marketing” aspect of this blog series, making a children’s literary world deeper and richer overall has proven to be extremely successful and popular among young readers. So why don’t we do that more often? That’s the question I’ve asked myself lately, and why I plan on doing the same with my villain in “Guts and Glory.” At the moment Dr. Fixit is little more than a shadow. I’ll be changing that in book 3.

It’s time to make Nil real.

MUAAAHAHAHAAA!

 

*(I hope it goes without saying that I’m talking about the ORIGINAL CHILDREN’S book by L Frank Baum.) 

 

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 6: WRITING!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

You know what I am not?

A promoter.

You know what I AM?

A WRITER.

And yet, I haven’t had a chance to really write one word of the glorious third book of the trilogy that’s in the CENTER of this whole thing!

*Headbash*

So… I’ve decided to give my promotional needs up to those who know how to work them properly, and focus on what I do best — writing the freaking BOOK already. I’ll keep writing my blog of course, and post when and where I need to on social media, but all the crazy details will be taken care of by JKS Communications. After some pretty extensive research, I found them to be at the top of my choices, as they are professional, have KILLER reviews, and (and this is crucial) I can afford them. At this time I have sent in my proposal and am waiting with baited breath on their reply.

For now, it’s time to finally WRITE!

*Runs off cackling like a manwoman*

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 5: Social Media Madness

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Hello all, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

I’m back at work now, and therefore back writing to you. Today I’m thinking about social media marketing, this blog, and ways to use them all in-tandem to their best advantage for getting the word out there about “Guts and Glory”.  Things I’ve thought about so far are…

  • Some kind of “ad” campaign where Books’ inventions are being promoted in apocalypse punk style (But I don’t know how interesting that would be to people, especially my young readers.)
  • A”recruitment” campaign into the Dark Crows
  • A “call to adventure” style campaign where readers have to sort clues and such to find their way into Nil
  • A Nil-related contest of some kind
  • A quiz or quizzes related to Nil and its characters

Hmm… What do you think? What would get the kids excited to see Book 3’s debut? What would get the young readers interested in Nil and its denizens? If you have any other ideas or just brainstorming, please leave them in the comments.

Whatever the campaign ends up being, for the full Social Media gauntlet I’m looking at linking:

  • This blog
  • My Facebook fan page
  • My Twitter feed
  • Goodreads
  • YouTube (Especially for book trailers!)
  • Patreon (Gotta do some more research into how to utilize it for kidlit in particular.)

Still thinking! Gotta find a way to get a computer at home, too. I can’t do everything I need to do by February on my work breaks alone… Hmm…

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 4: Pushing Through

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

I want to write.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m at work. I don’t mind that at all, especially since I’m off at 3:30 and don’t work tomorrow. Plus, it allows me to write to you. Unfortunately unlike this blog, I can’t write my book at work. The zone is too powerful; I’d forget my responsibilities here and that could be catastrophic to my financial stability. I can make notes, which is nice, but when I’m ready to write the book itself… I don’t know how I will do it without a computer at home. (If only my hands weren’t aging faster than the rest of me, I could handwrite it…)

Sorry. Kinda melancholy today. Being tired will do that to you, I suppose.

There are so many steps to this plan, but many of them I can’t do until I have the capitol to do them, and others aren’t doable until the book is finished. Other steps, such as research and planning, I have been doing a lot of lately, but the biggest, the hardest, and the one that takes the longest… is writing the third book itself.

That one is VITAL. And I can’t do it.

I WANT to write, too. I do. But my Muse has been fickle lately and I don’t know how long she’ll stick around. I’m going to be honest here: today, I am afraid. Afraid I will never write this book. Afraid I will never actually make this plan — this DREAM — happen. Afraid and frustrated.

It is a hard day. A low day. But these, too, must be documented, so that I can look back and see that I pushed through them. So that others can see that as well.

Today, I am tired and afraid and frustrated. But today, I am still a writer nonetheless.

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 3 (Part II): Which Ends in Vetting Indie Kidlit

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Well, that was fun.

It looks like I may have to make a new pen name under the same profile on Amazon, though I don’t know if that will remove the old name or if I even can. Trying to research it is kind of a nightmare too. Nothing comes up about it at all that I can find.

In the end, I just emailed them. It’ll probably be answered after Christmas.

For now, I updated my RSS feed from here (so this should show up there now too — hi Amazon!) and will be doing little tweaks here and there. One thing I DO know is, I’m glad I’m doing this now instead of right before the third book is finished!

Speaking of doing things ahead of time, after emailing Amazon my spaz brain kicked in again and I started looking into reviews.

Ahhh! Another big knot!

There are so many review sites out there, and so many reviews OF the reviews that my brain is spinning just trying to untie it all. Kirkus seems safe, but I still need to look into just how much good they do indie authors, as I’ve seen many differing views on it, plus it’s expensive at between $425 and $575 a pop.   There’s also my whole “kidlit author” thing, which makes it more complicated as many reviewers don’t review children’s books at all, and often those that do only review trade published titles. I have gotten a great review of “Dr. Fixit” from Erik at This Kid Reviews Books and I would love to get more specifically for kidlit that actually take indie books.

One issue I keep running into time and time again is the fact that children’s books are SERIOUSLY hard to get accepted by libraries, bookstores, schools, and, as you see, even review sites. Now, I understand. I do. Everyone wants to make sure the books children read are vetted to be safe for them. I get it, and I wholeheartedly agree. That said, there’s got to be a better vetting system than trade publication. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books that are great for kids, that would help them learn, grow, and see the world in a billion better ways, that never get trade published simply because the big houses (and even the small presses) don’t have enough time and resources to devote to them, so they have to reject them. What if a group of teachers, scholars, and established children’s writers and editors got together to create a solid, dependable vetting system for indie kidlit, to keep parents happy AND let kidlit authors reach our readers?

Well… I just went off on a tangent, and I’m almost off work so I have to go. Just… think about it. If you know of any system in place, or you like / hate the idea, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

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