Saturday, 26 May 2018

How Do You Get Readers for Your Books?

I really hope you don't think I have the answer. If I did, I would be on the New York Times Bestsellers' list. So let me put in my disclaimer that I'm no expert. I'm just in the simulation, trying to read the patterns.
So the first thing that you should probably know is that marketing is in the mind. Get in the right mindset. Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, the bulk of the marketing will be left to you. When a traditional publisher looks at the potential of your books, they also look at your social media following to see just how many 'fans' you've managed to accumulate for yourself. I see many authors asking, "What exactly is the use of an author page?"
Well, my answer is, "If you're inviting people over for tea, you're gonna need somewhere for them to sit."
It is not possible in this day and age to be an 'anonymous' author who just writes, publishes and waits for readers. Even authors using pen names have forums where they interact with readers. Not just authors, but anyone with a product to sell...It's a whole new world people, and social media is king.
The thing with social media though, is that you can't just post "buy my book" and expect your audience to be like, "Oh. Okay, den."
Let's talk about readers, shall we?
There are two types of readers. There are those readers, and they are the majority, who you can find on so-called reader forums. Some of them have blogs. They usually have 'reader' or 'reads books' in their Twitter bios... These are the readers whose attention everyone is trying to get. Because they're the low hanging fruit.
Or so it seems.
The thing with this reader though, they are deep in the simulation. They want to read the books everyone else is reading. They practically run down the New York Times Bestseller list as their TBR list. They like recommendations from influencers. If you're a lowly writer without the resources to influence the influencers these are not the people to target.
The second kind of reader may or may not list 'reading' as an identifier in their social media bios. They don't care who the 'next big thing' is. They're just looking for good stories.
Do you write good stories?
Then this is your demographic.
You gotta keep plugging your stories. Putting them out there. Letting people know in whatever way you can.
Hashtags are great.
Just use the right ones.
Lots of authors like to use #amwriting and they might get a few likes and even retweets but...you get likes and retweets from other authors who are just as thirsty as you for READERS. So stop targeting other authors. That's like all those sales reps I see on the street, crowding together when they're selling the same thing be it airtime or whatever...instead of spreading out and increasing your chances of finding your own customers. It's like artists who all try to copy Rihanna in an attempt to poach some of her success. Although this strategy has been moderately successful in some cases, (Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez) ultimately it fails. Because Rihanna releases an album like Anti and you don't know where to start copying it.
I digress.
#greatreads #goodreads #fridayreads #tuesdaytales...these are some hashtags that might net you some random passing reader. But you can't just do the hashtag, you have to hone your captioning skills man. This is your elevator pitch in 280 characters or more (if it's Instagram or Facebook). The hashtag has made the reader pause, now you gotta reel them in. Make. it. good.
It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Everything is against you.
Amazon will put the books in front of readers that authors have paid them to.
Sometimes they arbitrarily remove your book reviews making it difficult for you to move up the totem pole.
Some book sales get lost in a black hole somewhere.
It can be very demoralizing.
The thing is, you have to factor in the fact that you will get demoralized if things aren't happening as fast as you'd like. You have to be prepared for that shit. Wallow in it like a hippopotamus in the mud. And once you're all covered, all good and proper, get out, shower and get back to the work.
Plug. Plug. and Plug away.
Every day, do something small to put your book maybe in front of that enthusiastic reader whose gonna recommend it to their friend. Their book club. Their family.
Word of mouth. That's how you get the word out.
It's an uphill battle and many will fall by the wayside.
It's up to you if you reach the top.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Happy Mothers' Day - the Dreams and Nightmares Edition

Or should that be American Mothers' Day? In Kenya, we celebrate both US and UK dates so we get two mothers' days.
Still only one fathers' day though...
I spent the day pretty down.
I had an awful dream where my son "accidentally" murdered someone and then tried to say it wasn't him in spite of the dead body on the couch.
Of course, I believed him. He's an accomplished liar.
Then I had a vision that showed someone's arm, ax in hand, swinging downward...
I knew that arm!
I birthed that arm!
When I confronted him with my evidence he admitted that yes. He'd done it. It was an accident! Inexplicably, his hands were now bloody.
I'm freaking out about paying for legal advice and everything. My hands are shaking. And my son is totally unbothered because mum'll take care of it, right?
I'm trying to call my big sister (she's a lawyer) and my hands are shaking so bad I can't dial.
That's when I wake up.
...To the sudden surety that Jared Padalecki is dead.
I know.
What?
It started like this; yesterday, before I went to sleep I was reading tweets from JIBCON which is a supernatural convention in Rome. Convention goers reported that Jared said he was unwell and were posting pics of him looking a bit bloated and miserable. Jensen and 'em were keeping a close eye, attending what was supposed to be his solo panel, etc...
I wake up from this nightmare and clearly someone has to be dead right? And since Jared was sick the last I heard, my mind latched onto him. Anyway, so I headed straight to Twitter to confirm that there was no announcement of Jared's sudden demise. The first thing I see is a tweet about Jensen Ackles and unicorns...and I am immediately reassured. No way Jensen would be playing with unicorns on stage if Jared was lying dead somewhere...
Ugh. So morbid.
As a result of this less than stellar beginning to my day, I've been living in the cold pit of despair from all the residual feelings. They're a bit difficult to shake off. Kinda like Tay Tay.
When I'm in my feelings like this, I like to analyze why I'm in my feelings. Just like I do for other people. And I thought that maybe my mind is still miserable about the whole 'domestic violence is okay if it's Chris Brown doing it' thing and the implication of my failure as a parent; which resulted in a murder dream. Then it's mother's day and my mother was sick for like a second and then died so clearly my mind just looked for the nearest sick person that I like to project my fears on. Mother's day is never a day that I'm gonna be super happy. But this week has been particularly miserable; what with Becky, my dog, dying suddenly in a way that I could not prevent. It's been triggering.
So I began to think to myself what would be different in my life if my mother had lived? Would I still be a writer? I began writing to combat the deep depression I was dealing with as a result of my mother's death; and the trials and tribulations of single motherhood. If she'd lived, my life would likely have looked very different.
Would I still have started writing?
Or would I be dutifully giving out drugs, "Take one twice a day after meals," bored out of my mind? Or maybe I'd have my own business because for sure she would have supported that idea.
Bottom line is, I like my life the way it is. And it took all that struggle to get here.
Negative emotion and life experience can bury you or it can make you grow. Without it, you might never know who you could be. Just look at Riri.
In any case, writing this has made me feel better so thank you for reading and sharing my redistributed pain. In the spirit of motherhood, I gotta share with you my experience of fast food from a few weeks ago. Remember when I told you I was done putting things in my body that wouldn't make it happy? Well a few days after that, I found an old piece of chicken in my bag. I'd stowed the doggy bag in there a week before and forgotten about it. I regularly use that bag but it was in an outer pocket. There was no smell of rotting meat to alert me that I still had food in my bag. I found it totally by accident. I pulled it out and it had that same fried chicken smell that permeates fast food places. There was no mold. The chicken looked exactly the same as it did on the day I put it in there.
Whatever that was, it wasn't food.
 I was so freaked out.
I meant to tell y'all about it as soon as possible but I guess I forgot. Fast food chicken is not food people! Stay away!


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Thank You for Coming to My Ted Talk

It's a disappointing time for the XY chromosome. So much so that I feel the need to turn my back for a bit and just live in a sea of estrogen for now. I don't know why but illogical behavior has reached peak levels recently.
I've been analyzing this behavior, trying to understand it. Trying to see why a full African man would be a Trump apologist when Trump would not even grant him a visa to visit America. And if by chance he got in, he runs the risk of being mowed down in the street for such crimes as being in his grandmother's backyard.
Yet I've seen them twist themselves into unrecognizable shape so as to justify his existence.
The first thing you want to do when looking for logic in the illogical is to look for common threads. You can't always find them because the trigger is usually emotional and don't let any man tell you different; they are super emotional beings.

                                                                                                                                                       
Just looking at my cohort which admittedly consists of people on my timeline who are vocal about regurgitating Trump's talking points and excuses; it all goes back to Obama.
Obama seems to evoke strong emotion in people. They either love him or they hate him. He's either the savior or the villain. Very few people see him as just a man.  Mostly they see him as a reflection either of their failures or their triumphs.
So if you a struggle guy with seven baby mamas and without a steady job, or you feel ignored because Obama didn't invite you to the White House or you expected that Obama would somehow elevate Kenya into a first world country while he was president or he's good friends with someone you don't like or you just even associate him with someone you don't like...then you support Trump because y'all have something in common.                                     
The rest is details.
And it's not even that these men support Trump that's the problem. It's the logic or lack thereof that led to that behavior that really gets me. It's like there is zero thinking going on.
The lights are all off.
Nobody's home.
No neurons are firing.
Brain is surplus to requirements.
It fills me with such despair.
All of this negativity is mitigated by the existence of David Beckham in the world. Did y'all see the birthday hug between him and his son Brooklyn? It was like five minutes on a one-minute Instagram video. David was so happy to see him. he hugged him like the world was ending. I watched it like twenty times because that's as close as I'll ever come to having a father hold me like that. Then I read the comments underneath his post and three-quarters of them were people envying the happiness of a father in seeing his son and contrasting it with how their own fathers would react to their surprise appearance.
The XY chromosome ruins even the brightest light they have going for them.
Oh, the other quarter posts were pure thirst about how Zaddy! David Beckham still is. Like he's eighty or something. I guess those are kids with daddy kinks...because their fathers are absent. XY chromosome wins again.
Jada Pinkett Smith debuted a new show called Red Table Talk on Facebook where she held a talk with Sheree Williams, Will Smith's first wife. They were discussing the dynamic of being a blended family, the tough beginnings. I certainly could relate. Will at least, seems to have a few neurons firing, so there's that.
I need hope.
Or to just give up completely on the male species.
I can't do that though. I need them for my stories.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Igniting the Creative Spark

Hello Russia, how are you doing?
I was just checking out my google analytics and y'all are number one reading my blog...this week. Also Kenya fell out of the top five countries for the first time in a while.
What?
Y'all can't relate to me anymore?
You don't care about my google analytics. Let's get on with some pontificating, edutaining, exposition from your favorite neighborhood opinionated writer/author/blogger.
That's me in case you were wondering.
And yes, I am your favorite.
*does not insert Kanye gif here because he's cancelled*
In my last post, I shared with you my admiration and gratitude for Dirty Computer and this week I want to tell you how much my life has changed because of one album.
So a day or two after I watched the video, I went to replenish my refrigerator following my son's departure for school. I was kinda hungry when I went to the supermarket and what that usually means for me is that I will buy myself some chips and chicken for lunch at the local chips shop. My body doesn't really like fast food tbh. I tend to er...release the hostages really fast following such a meal and they tend to be rather loose. Meaning my body ain't trying to digest any of it. But I still go ahead and do it because chips.
However, New and Improved, Body Appreciating Me was like, "Noup. Not today Satan. I'm gonna go home and eat something nice and nutritious."
I'm not saying chips and chicken isn't a nutritious meal. I read something the other day saying potatoes have a very high nutritional value. (I was so happy y'all...) but how it's cooked matters. If you want to enjoy a nice chicken and chips meal, make it yourself.
But I digress.
My point is, I wasn't tempted by fast food because being in love with my body means I want what's best for it. And don't misunderstand. This isn't about body image/positivity or 'staying fit and healthy' like the celebrities like to pretend they're doing when they just wanna be thin. Genevieve Padalecki, I'm looking at you. It's about wanting your body to be happy because you love it. Just like you want your partner or your child or your friend or your sister to be happy because you love them.
It turns out the best motivation to "stay fit and healthy" is to be in love...with yourself.
What the fuck, does that have to do with igniting creativity you ask?
Everything.
What inspires you?
What motivates you?
What even puts you in the head space to be inspired and motivated.
I'll tell you what doesn't.
Feeling miserable.
Feeling depressed.
Feeling tired.
Feeling ill.
I've been feeling all these things at one time or another this whole year. My body has been letting me down, my mind has been clouded. Ask my fanfic fans if you don't believe me. They are so patiently waiting for me to update while all I can do is slog through my paid work and hope it will do.
Hope it will do.
I'm not a 'I hope it will do' type of person. I like my creations to be epic whether or not they have my name on them. I have standards people. So I haven't been updating my fan fiction because they would not live up to my standards.
Until this week though.
Yeah, if you're interested in fanfic, click on the link and head over to AO3; got some new stuff on there.
The creative spark is ignited by being in proximity to creations that make me feel good about myself; that make me take another look at me and go like, "Hey. How you doin?"
I been looking at myself like Joey Tribiani looked at women. Last Sunday I wrote 7500 epic words like a joke. No strain, no effort, just finger flying over the keys. The client wants to kiss my ass, that story is so good.
So yeah my fingers are sparking, my brain cells are awake and alive. Yeah I'm still sick. Yeah my arm still hurts like a motherfucker sometimes. But it doesn't matter. It's all just details now. Let's get creating!
Another interesting side effect of being set free to be the best me I can be is that I don't have time for nonsense. You notice I haven't said anything about Kanye when normally I'd be all over that shit? It's because I don't care. Kanye's issues are personal and he wants to make them global and it's up to us not to let him. I told y'all his behavior is the result of hurt feelings and he confirmed it in the Charlemagne interview. I think it's an only child syndrome. They really do think they're the center of the universe. But the rest of us don't have to make it personal. We can just ignore him and focus on creative rather than destructive energy.
And there is so much creative energy out there right now. It's weird that living under oppression seems to be the fuel for creation of epic art in all it's forms. I'm just trying to do my best to add to all the good art in existence.
I see people in my writer's groups say things like they read someone else's work and it was so good it demoralized them.
Bitch what?
Those who came before are a source of inspiration, a challenge for you to put your best foot forward and match or exceed what has come before you. If it's a reason for you to turn away from your own art, then maybe you're in it for the wrong reasons. I can't wait for everyone to discover the epicness that is my stories but that's not why I write.
I write because I enjoy it. It gives me joy and satisfaction to take a story from mere concept to published novel. To see other people enjoy it, be inspired by it, take something from it that makes their lives better...
That's the icing on the cake.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Dirty Computer; An Epiphany

Wow.
I am deceased.
My eyes have been opened.
I have been reborn.
I have seeen the light! Can the house say Amen?
You might have deduced that I have seen Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae. Remember when I said that Pynk made me jealous about the queers having an ode to their vagina, while straight folk like me are still struggling to be seen with 'Flawless' and 'Needed Me'? Well, clearly I had no idea.
Last night I got on YouTube and watched the 'emotion picture', Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae. It's free so go on and watch. One song in and I was already feeling like my life was wasted. By the time I got to the end, I was in crisis. I had to sit down and apologize to myself for the criminal neglect, all the dust I've been paying myself since forever. On Friday I wrote about the patriarchy becoming personal, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. From burning the bra to #Freethenipple, to #metoo it's all a struggle to get men to treat us as valid humans. It's like we need them to; in order to be able to validate our own beings...Today, I completely dismiss the patriarchy from my consciousness. They have taken up enough real estate in my life for too long. My son is grown, if he wants to believe the hype, that's his decision and his life.
 Not my monkey, not my circus. Let his future girlfriends deal with his shit.
As for me, I have my own journey to begin; so so late but it's never too late.
I wrote a post on Tumblr a few weeks ago about my infancy as a sexual being. 20+ years of sexual activity and I don't even really know what I like, what I hate, what works, what doesn't. I love myself as a person, as an intellectual, as a mother but do I even know myself as a woman? When I look in the mirror and I think, "Ugh, this v-neck is too low." while also thinking, "Damn I like the way it looks though." Then proceed to cover up my upper body with a sweater, or coat..who am I covering up for? Is it me? Do I dress with me in mind or with the male gaze and judgemental female gaze judging me for attracting the male gaze? Why the fuck can't I just dress for me? I'm not saying this right. I don't know how to say this right.
For the first time, watching Dirty Computer, I felt SEEN. Like just me, not as a factor of someone else's thoughts, feelings or expectations. I felt like my life was wasted because of the simplicity of Jane's relationships in those videos. The complete lack of artifice, the honesty, the looking at the other person and really seeing who they are. And I felt despair because as a straight person I felt like that possibility of that kind of relationship is closed to me.
But then the truth is that I also fell in love...With myself.
And I realized that I gotta look at myself like that. Really see me. Stop blocking the me that is a sexual being out because of things that happened long ago. Acknowledge the fact that me is enough. Everyone was enough in the emotion picture. Enough in themselves and so enough for each other. I want someone to wanna kiss my nose in the morning not just my vagina.
I even tried to make the case to myself about maybe being bisexual. But since I don't know what to do with my own equipment, I doubt adding another one to the mix will make things any clearer.
My queen, Rihanna, is releasing lingerie soon, all sizes included of course - you know she is the QUEEN of inclusion - and the promo is just coming out. And one of the models in the promo wore a bridal veil with white lingerie while being interviewed by someone off camera. She said she didn't see marriage for herself because as far as she can tell, guys just want to bust a nut and then they're done. And I was in so much agreement I might have tried to burst through the phone screen to scream "YAAASSS sis. Exactly."
That's why I am in despair of ever experiencing any of the joy and connection as depicted in Dirty Computer unless I can somehow convince myself I'm gay or at least bi. But even without the relationship part of it, I love the self-acceptance that the emotion picture gave me. Acceptance of all my glorious womanhood. I just ended my period (I think. You never know with these things. You think it's over and then ooop, there you are again) and the other day while I was in the loo contemplating the various ways in which menstruation is set up to torture me, I thought about writing a blog post about it. But then I thought, no, nobody writes about menstruation, it's a private, secret, disgusting part of womanhood that no one wants to know about.
Who is no one?
Is it women? Because all cis women be in this same boat with me.
But we don't discuss periods, or birth control or abortions or even orgasms except in secret away from the male gaze because God forbid they have to deal with all these tiresome women's issues right?
These issues are not important.
They're not valid.
But then Janelle Monae came and did a dance as a vagina and finally someone dared to show that oh, this is a great thing. This is womanhood. This is the core of humanity. Without this nobody exists.
And while I did indeed wake up like this, and he did indeed need me, I'm done looking for that validation. I'm breaking out of the patriarchy jail and embracing every aspect of my inner Savage. If you thought I was crazy before, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Freedom!

Friday, 27 April 2018

When The Patriarchy Gets Personal

Today I took a personal hit to the solar plexus courtesy of Chris Brown and his effect on young boys. See, my son idolizes him for some reason, as do many young men of his age. I don't know why they idolize him, perhaps someone can tell me what the appeal is.
Is it the tattoos?
The dancing?
The songs that all sound alike?
Why him?
Why not Drake for example?
Or Migos?
Anyways, before I completely disappear down the rabbit hole, I have to tell you why I took a hit. As usual, my son was going on about the various ways that Chris Brown is the greatest human to ever live and wondering why he doesn't get on all the talk shows like Ellen 'n 'em. And I say, "Well son, because he's controversial."
And he's like but if Migos can go on Ellen why can't Chris Brown?
I'm sorry, I don't know Migos' history very well but I don't recall any stories of domestic violence or anger management or domestic violence or criminal convictions, stalker behavior, physical and emotional abuse...am I leaving anything out?
Anyway, so my son dismissed all these things as irrelevant.
All the things Chris Brown did are irrelevant because well...Chris Brown.
And that's why I ask, why him? What's so special about him?
That's the point at which I began to get worried. I decided to reiterate in case I hadn't ever mentioned it, that domestic violence of any kind is not okay. There is no circumstance, no context, that makes it okay.

Just yesterday, was it? Someone was trying to dismiss Keli's claims of physical abuse by saying she fought back. That someone was on the internet. My son was right in front of me when he made the same argument. When he said, domestic violence is justifiable in some cases.
My heart is broken into a million pieces. I don't know what to do about this. This is how the patriarchy wins.
For years, I have known that people have Cro-Magnon ideas about women and relationships but I've just dissociated myself from anyone with those types of views or ignored them. But now it's right in my home and I don't know how it got here. But it's people like Chris Brown that make it okay. It's letting Donald Trump pass with all his misogyny and racism and ignorance.
No.
It's enabling these people that teaches young boys that such behavior is not only acceptable, it is rewarded. And all the screaming in the world won't change that.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Great Expectations, Harsh Reality

Last week Kanye wanted to be water and this week, he's supporting Republicans. This is not a new thing. Probably Kanye has supported Republicans ever since Obama called him an asshole and didn't invite him to his super-duper White House black people gatherings that he invited Jay and Bey to and everyone else...
Except for Kanye.
And then he has this beef with Jay...I don't know where it came from. Is he that mad that Blue doesn't have play dates with North? He wanted Jay to come over when Kim got robbed? That would have been awkward man. First of all, it's not like the Carters and Kim really get along so why would they be invading her space when she's already traumatized? Jay called because he wanted to know what he could do without making Kanye's wife uncomfortable. I know it's nice when people actually show up for us like physically.
But are they really friends like that?
As far as I can see, Jay never had any friends. Everyone except Swizz Beatz who's ever worked with him seems to have a problem with him. He's not seen hanging out with anyone except Beyonce's family. It's only after therapy that you see him in social settings with the likes of Diddy. And that's probably more business than pleasure. He's at the street corner where the hustlers be; it's not a safe place to have friends.
My point is Kanye expecting more than Jay can probably give.
And we, the public, are expecting more from Kanye than he can give. His recent tweets have Twitter in a tizzy of upset and confusion. But if you step back and look at what this Candace person says, Kanye has pretty much said a lot of those things already. Of course, he likes how she thinks. She takes pot shots at Obama, at Jay Z, at all those people who are not giving Kanye the 'respect he deserves'. Of course, he likes how she thinks.
It's just not that deep.
Are you looking for Kanye to save you?
Are you looking for anybody to save you?
Stop looking.
Nobody's coming.
We have to save ourselves. We have to be our own Kanyes. Shout out our own work and blow our own trumpets.
It's just not that deep.
It's been a bit of a depressing week. I hate when I have an assignment to do and I don't finish it on time. Especially when I really need the money. So I was super stressed and broke and my arm starts really hurting so I can't type. The topic of my assignment was Female Domination. Now if you want to know what a patriarchal world we live in, try and google that term and see what the search results are. In spite of how widespread male submission apparently is, not much data is available about it out there. And the few semi-academic articles I could find on the subject tended to treat male submission as some sort of mental illness or failing as far as the man involved is concerned. The ebook I was writing was meant to be a sort of guide for men looking into that aspect of BDSM so I didn't think writing about how it's a mental illness would be helpful. Lack of data is also very frustrating.
Anyway, there I was; stressed, depressed, broke and behind deadline and my arm was hurting from all the typing. So what did I do?
I asked my eighteen-year-old son to write me a page so I could rest. Also, he's very narrow-minded as far as the whole man-woman dynamic is concerned and I thought I'd expand his horizons.
He was writing while exclaiming the whole time. But he actually did give me a page I could use so win-win. Plus he learned some new stuff about men and hopefully it will lead to a greater understanding of himself.
See you don't need Kanye or any celebrity to save you. The tools to save yourself are all in your mind, you just have to broaden it.
 How do you do that?
Reading is always a great place to start.
Visit my author page and get started.