Virtual Reality

We live in computers
and communicate
telepathically
wirelessly crossing dimensions
the deafening silence of
connections
that ain’t connected
how do you know
if I wrote this poem in my own
tears
or scribbled these letters
with the sharpened edge of my own
backbone
how do I know
that you didn’t throw me a smile
minus the jagged tooth remains
of a dilapitated heart
cause the grass is always greener
on social media
when we live in a world
where emojis digitize
the masks we wear
until our differences melt the pride
and phony personas
hanging off the edge of gravatars
profile pictures and WordPress walls
that captured nothing but smiling faces
and not the lies behind them
because virtual realities
is anything but virtuous
for we hide
behind usernames
and cartoon ourselves
into the people
we wish we were
speak in a language we are too afraid
to utter
outloud
tremble in the presence
of flesh
and bone
too afraid of human connection
to connect
how would you know
if I wrote this poem in my own
tears
or scribbled these letters
with the sharpened edge of my own
backbone
how could I know
If you emojied me a smile
minus the jagged tooth remains
of a dilapitated heart
here, in this place
where we log out of life
to login

Generation Butthurt—How Being Constantly Offended (and Offensive) Costs BIG

“Whenever we decide we might one day sell our book, we are making a decision to be a professional. Being a professional comes with certain rules that don’t generally apply to regular people.”

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie.

Today we are going to dive back into social media because who we are on-line impacts the odds of our success. Whether we like it or not, engaging on social media and cultivating a following is going to massively impact our professional success (or lack thereof).

In sales we had a saying, Fish where the fish are. Well my darlings, the fish are schooling on social media. When we are online we are not only engaging with the readers of today, we are cultivating future readers. This applies as much to the pre-published newbie as it does the internationally best-selling author.

We are wise to remember that we now have entire generations glued to smart phones and LinkedInInstaSnap, and if we don’t learn how to navigate these waters? Bad juju.

This said. Social media is an extraordinarily powerful tool that is too…

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Social Media: Balancing Off / Online Book Promo.

Close up of a social media results report with pen and calculator
Close up of a social media results report with pen and calculator

Social Media is a different world from offline. As such, I think interaction on and offline must apply to book promotion and be fitting for each. I’m learning, and trying to better implement, a well-balanced combination of both off and online tools because each is so different, yet similar too. Now the following are just my personal thoughts and opinions and are by no means that of an expert. These thoughts are not supported by any advanced data or statistic aside from my own experience; they are just my thoughts because, well, I was thinking about some stuff.

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Me and Offline supporters from Canada and Philadelphia at The Pearls Before Swine release, The Double Tree Hilton Hotel, Chicago IL 2014

In my opinion, offline offers opportunities not always present online and online offer its benefits as well that are not always present offline. There are things I would do online as to appeal to this community that may not be required offline. Or that may not attract as much attention to offline supporters. For instance, I think offline activities are great to share with your online friends in the form of pictures. It’s always exciting to see photos of book signings, public speaking engagements, and varying social engagements with offline supporters. I think these, pictures, are far more engaging to your online supporters than ads and constant promos concerning updates of what is done offline because it gets boring after a while.

Online communities want to engage online whereas offline communities who are not as into “internet-ting” want to engage offline. Offline supporters and readers want to hear your voice and see your face. They can care less about how many Facebook Likes you have. As such, I believe balance of both on and offline activity is good but that there also need to be a limit to merging the two. Its OK for them to be separate. I believe, for instance, that a social media presence should rightly fit the online community.

social-media-week-impressionsI know this looks good, but Social Media is very deceiving. While numbers such as is in this photo is exciting it can mean absolutely nothing or it can mean everything. You will probably never know for sure. This is where offline activities come into play. Offline book promotion handles much of the foot work. It is the physical act of pushing the book.

Social Media on the other hand, in my opinion, is not necessarily about selling books as much as it is about building; though through building come sales, social media is best utilized to help generate buzz about a book without blatantly asking people to buy it. Its purpose is to serve as a networking platform that helps connect writers to other writers, readers to writers, digital marketers and professional experts, editors, book groups and workshops, reviewers, beta readers, and gives authors room to connect with readers who enjoy the genre in which the writer writes by way of a platform. What I hope to accomplish as an author in general but especially online, is to show my support for the books content itself. I aim to raise awareness concerning the social or political message behind the writing. Why is this topic relevant today? How does it help people to grow? What value does my subject hold and can it start conversations that lead to greater understanding? By striving to answer these questions, it will help garner offline attention and lead to radio interviews and social engagements. In short,  I try to forget for a moment literally selling the book, and to instead focus on why my book is different from the next and thus why it is even worth your time in the first place.

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Social media is about connections and should be used to reach the people you can’t reach offline (because they will become offline supporters). It should be, not merely an advertisement of the book, but a presentation of the books message and an introduction of the author on a personal level. By focusing on the content of the book and getting to know the author, I believe readers become interested in the book itself because of their passion for the topic and their trust of the author. In this way, I think we Indies have the potential to reach lots of readers and to be more productive in our service to the online literary community.

 

The Faceless Internet

turtleneck_by_faceless_monster-d5l2jwlIf I could go back in time to visit my great great great grandmother, she’d probably not believe me if I told her about this world; if I told her about the people walking around with no face. Except they do not exactly walk either. They glide instead on finger toes and eyeballs. Here skin meets electricity and together they blend their energies into the production of a being; a something with a name and a picture for a face. My grandmother would probably ask the obvious, “How do we know that’s truly them?”

“Well, Granny that’s the point, we don’t.”

These are faceless internet people. They create careers out of dot-coms, and download personalities they think will fit the World Wide Web. The most courageous, most bold beings I’ve ever seen behind Photoshopped Gravatars and surrogate heads. You see the Internets a place where flies are dragons and little blind mice are soldiers. Be who you wanna be and say what you will because no one will ever discover your venom to be nothing more than a glass spine. They don’t really have mouths anyway. Just faceless internet people walking around on keyboards with their fingers, pretending to be people.

To Powerblog or not to Powerblog…that is the question!

Message to the Blog Owner:
I’m writing this post because like you, I care about the productivity of my blog and its basic upkeep. My purpose may be different than yours, but we have each decided to be part of a public online community. If you don’t care about reaching out to people, don’t build a blog, buy a diary. But…I digress…

 

I don’t have a long blogume. That’s a completely made up word for blogging resume. In the past I’ve held a total of four blogs including this one. The first one was with blogspot and it was real amateur. Amateur because I don’t have any other way to describe how whack it was (I don’t even remember the name). Then I held down a position with The Aftermath Blog, created after I published my first novel, The Aftermath. It did a lot better than the first one. I was able to reach out and connect to readers and receive useful feedback. I was even able to hustle a few reviews out the mix. I believe that had I held on a bit longer it may have still been here, but I pretty much got bored with it. Then there was ahouseofpoetry and ThePBSblog. I don’t consider myself an expert on these matters and I’m not someone who researched this in a book and can give a sophisticated analysis (whatever that is), but I do have an opinion to share on power blogging based simply on observation.

 

I assume the definition of “PowerBlogging” is to blog at least once a day or more, I could be wrong, but I have my own definition anyway.

I think “Blogging” should consist of updating your blog at least once a day, only missing a day or so in-between if need be. PowerBlogging, it seems, should be defined as updating a blog more than once a day, and can range anywhere from 2-3 posts a day, to a stream of posts that come in pretty much all day. The difference is pretty much based on common sense. A blog is a social networking forum to which people can interact with an online community based on various themes (my definition). Someone may create a blog because they feel like it. Someone else may want to air their dirty laundry in public so it becomes a public diary (don’t care, that’s your business). Some may actually have an agenda they’re pushing. Others may want to just promote a book, or showcase their writing in general. Whatever the reason, blogs are different than regular websites because they are interactive. Though bloggers can acquire domain names, the title “blog” I think, sets it apart from a regular website that you would actually purchase product from or that is used as advertisement for whatever business. Businesses can surely have blogs, but I think a blog differs in that it allows people to interact, follow, like, and comment. For this reason blogs are social media outlets, it just gives you more room to write, and possess much more flexibility than Facebook. But because blogs are what they are, it only makes sense to stay engaged.

 

I’m not going to define blog success. I don’t think it is restricted to any particular definition. Based on your reasoning for building a blog, that should define how you look at its success, period. I don’t believe any big brains can come along and tell me how successful or unsuccessful my blog is. I do believe however, that the individual blog owner is responsible for making sure there is fresh content for the reader. True enough, every follower is not going to be attracted to every post. True enough, every follower is not going to agree with every post. And true enough, every follower is not going to like or comment on every post. Every post may not even gain you any additional followers (that’s a different topic because then we’re getting into the whole work aspect). But if you work hard at something eventually you’ll begin to see the results of that labor. Already I see that the difference between ThePBSblog and my other blogs is the time I’ve dedicated to it, and it has already made it much more successful (on one level), than the others. Every post is written for a reason, to which not all of them are verbally acknowledged by readers. I’ve read many poems and posts on blogs that I have never made the owner aware of that inspired me (I will…eventually). Yet, inspiring me is a reaction even if you don’t know it. To make a very long story short, you never know how many people you reach who are just observing. There is a reader out there for everyone and someone who will understand your message.

 

People have a number of reasons for following your blog (that’s another reason I don’t think one person can give a general definition of what makes for a successful blogger. Follower count can be deceiving, but so can dashboard data). Some people are glued to your content, but some would just like to see your posts pop up in their e-mails or readers just in case there’s something tasty they wanna try. Some just liked one thing you said and decided your worth adding to the guest list. Others may have followed you simply because they like the way you designed your site. They may not agree with the words on the wall, but they love the interior design, which can be of help to a blogger looking to redecorate (I speak from experience. I once followed someone’s blog because their design included some of my favorite colors. They have long redecorated, but I ended up really enjoying their content. So see, you never know 🙂 ). No matter the reason, everyone has a different reason for following someone. Not everyone just wanna add someone to the reader, not everyone just wanna get post emails, and not everyone just enjoy staring at the pictures, but some people actually look forward to your posts. For this reason, I think it’s only logical to try and stay as updated and engaged as possible. For me personally, if I follow you it means something. And while a bombardment of email alerts from your blog can be annoying, at the same time it lets me know that you’re alive. Otherwise it’s easy for me to forget that you exist. Even if I don’t click on your post, at least I’ll see your name pop up every now and again as a reminder.

 

Blogging is not everything, at least not to me. I’m a woman of balance so Blogging is not my life (I have other things to do) but it is an important piece of the puzzle that I have allowed to occupy space here. It is a part of my day that I have allowed to withhold some of my time, because I think the purpose (to spread truth and inspiration through innovation and creativity) is worth putting my energy into. It is not my whole world, but it is a small piece of the world that I have allowed to exist around me. When I feel like I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish, I will retire this portion of my life. That said, I think Powerblogging can be successful if you are willing to look at is as a job. It doesn’t have to be your primary job, and it doesn’t even have to be a big part of your day, but if you can look at it as a form of employment, then you’ll see how important it is to stay engaged on one level or another.

 

So, to Powerblog or not to Powerblog?

 
Based on my definition, I think bloggers should at least blog; keep the content as fresh as possible.

 
I don’t think Powerblogging to the extreme of out staying my welcome on your readers and emails is a route I wanna take, but I do believe staying as closely updated as possible is necessary to build a strong online community.