Monday, June 30, 2014

The Power Of Social Media

Several days ago, I wrote a blog concerning the amount of time we spend on social media.

Today, I want to talk about the power of social media, and how it pertains to writing.

I read an article in which literary agents, when considering an author as a potential client, always Google the client.  They’re looking for Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn accounts, and any other positive things they can find.  According to the article (and I wish I could find it again, so that I could credit it), it’s to find out if the author has potential name recognition.

Well, duh!  I thought that’s what an agent does!

But, it is a good idea.  If you’re a potential author, and you want representation, then, by all means, do those things!

I have a Twitter account.  I have this wonderful blog.  I also have a LinkedIn account.  I resisted building a Facebook Author Page for a long time, but I have one of those now, too.  If you’d like to see it, click this link, and it will take you to it.  Feel free to “like” it!

I don’t worry about representation, although I would enjoy it…if there are any literary agents that would like to help me with the business end of things, I’d welcome your inquiries.  There are ways to contact me, both on this blog, on Facebook, on Twitter (@mrtmbilderback), and on LinkedIn.  I’d be especially happy to have someone to peddle movie rights…

I keep all these social media things going to make myself accessible to the people that matter most:  the readers!  Through these outlets, you can find out what I’m working on, what I find funny, people that I respect, things that mean something to me…basically, you get to know me!  And, with your likes, your retweets, your favorites, and your connections, I get to know you.

And my list of fans and followers gets longer every day.  People are getting to know me, just like I’m getting to know those that I follow, or favorite, or like.  Social media is fantastic in that respect, because we’ve never before been able to know so much so quickly about others.  Name recognition is a powerful force.

For instance, I’m constantly talking about the book I’m writing at the moment.  Junior’s Farm – A Tale Of Sardis County is taking a while for me to write, because I want to get it just right.  It’s wayyyy longer than the first Sardis County story, Don’t Come Around Here No More, and also ties Sardis County slightly into the Nicholas Turner/Madeline/Justice Security universe, with the Giambini crime family from Jackie Blue – A Justice Security Novel as the bad guys…but, there’s also magic afoot, and a lot of romance.  As much as I’ve talked about it, I’m afraid my own hype won’t live up to the story!

Either way, remember this:  everything you post online never goes away.  But, also, you can be remembered so quickly!  I keep my social media accounts going so that you’ll remember “T. M. Bilderback” instead of “that %$@# writer”!

Also, I need you to…

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ya Gotta Distribute Your Stuff!

When Dr. Suess wrote Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, I’m sure that he had no idea of how books would be available on the Internet.

Or, maybe he did.

Today’s entry is shameless self-promotion, just to demonstrate how an independent author’s books become available in lots of places.

I’m going to choose one of my works to show you the availability.

Don’t Come Around Here No More – A Tale Of Sardis County is available in both print and eBook.

Your choice of eBook copies can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, txtr, Kobo, Blio, Flipkart, and Smashwords.  It’s also available at places that I can’t create hyperlinks for specific pages, like iBooks, Scribd, and Oyster.  Scribd and Oyster will have it available on August 19, 2014.  You can preorder it everywhere except Amazon, where it’s already available.

The print editions are available in several places, too:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.  There are probably several other places that it’s turned up, but those are the big three for print editions.  At Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million, your local brick-and-mortar stores can also order the print editions of any of my work, and have it for you within a few days, if you’re nervous about ordering online.

I don’t distribute through Google Play for two reasons:  1) I found the instructions on Google Play itself to be too confusing to wade through, and 2) Smashwords doesn’t distribute through them, either.  Vook does distribute through Google Play, but I found their instructions too confusing as well…and I didn’t want to upload all of my stories again just to distribute through one channel.

My point is this:  as an independent author, your books can be available everywhere that sells books, just like books published by the big New York publishers.  There are several differences between being independent and being a slave to the big boys:  on the plus side, you keep more royalties and keep all rights to your work.  On the bad side, you don’t have a huge promotional budget.  Being independent and publishing through a print-on-demand service like CreateSpace means that you won’t have a lot of remaindered books taking away from your royalties…but it makes print editions hard to find without ordering online.

Overall, however, it’s best for all authors to be independent…and I’ve covered that in a couple of earlier blog entries.

Marketing yourself?  We’ll talk about that another day!


Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Have You Been Diagnosed With A...Social Media?

Good ideas have been coming to me since I became active on my old Twitter account.

Of course, I have to share that story.  I had created a Twitter account wayyyy back in 2010, but I didn’t see much use for it at the time, and I had no clue what I was doing, so I abandoned it.  Then, a bit over a month ago, I was complaining to my daughter that I needed new outlets to let folks know about my stories.

“You need a Twitter account, Dad,” said my social media-savvy daughter.  “You’ll get followers, you’ll tell them about your books and stories, they’ll tell other people, and things will start happening!”

So I did.  I found my old account, spiffed it up a little, and began Tweeting.  And following.  And having ‘favorite’ Tweets.  And retweeting.  As of this moment, I have 743 followers.  I’ve gained them in just a few short weeks, and I’m proud of every one!  When someone begins following me, I send a personal Tweet thanking them, and try to make a short statement or joke about something I’ve read about my new Twitter friend.  I always follow back, unless it’s someone that’s selling followers.  Please.  I would rather have ten genuine followers that are truly interested in me or my work, or are offering real services to independent authors, instead of ten thousand followers that I’ve paid for, that are only interested in my money (and, boy, are they in for a surprise – there isn’t any!).

My daughter was right.

Anyway, back to my original idea:  A few blog entries ago, I shared an idea that I had gotten from a Twitter friend about independent authors supporting independent authors.

I’ve been inspired again.

A new Twitter friend, Brian Chung (@BChungEclectic), had several Tweets on his profile about social media.  The one that struck a chord with me said, “Let us resolve that our growing appetite for #SocialMedia will never devour the time we might have spent reading great books”.

To me, that was pretty profound.

As Americans, we are addicted to social media.  We have blogs (LOL), Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  We check in with our locations on Facebook for some reason…maybe to make our Facebook friends jealous of where we are or what we’re doing.  We send Tweets:  small messages of no more than 140 characters, and they contain mundane things like comments about coffee, or sports, or something else.  Personally, I use Twitter for two things:  Marketing, and trying to make people smile with short sentences.  I offer messages about individual books, or my author pages, or this blog, or whatever I can think of that could be called ‘shameless self-promotion’.  LinkedIn I still don’t understand.  What possible use can it be to an independent author like me to connect with some low-level person at a large corporation?  LinkedIn is great for business people to connect with other business people, but I connect with other authors on Twitter.  I can’t spend that much time on two different social media outlets.

But, by taking the time to connect with others in our social media, it absolutely takes time away from other pursuits, whether it’s reading, or, in my case, writing.  Most of us have jobs that we slave away at least 8 hours a day with, plus a half hour driving to work, another half hour driving back home, time to eat, spend time with your significant other, spend time with your children, spend time with your pets…the list is endless.  And, instead of using some of that free time in pursuits like reading a book or going to an art exhibit or listening to music or composing that poem or story or novel or how-to book, we’re blowing that time!  We’re reading on Facebook about people ‘not needing that drama anymore’ or ‘watch what this squirrel does’ or whatever, and we’re Tweeting away with what we had for breakfast or coffee or books or whatever, and I’m just as guilty!

Brian Chung is right.  Social media has its place, and it has its uses.  I wholeheartedly encourage its use.  But don’t let it keep you from picking up a book, or painting a picture, or writing a poem or a story.  Without those creative outlets, and without that time spent with those that love you, you might as well be made of pulleys and plastic and steel and microchips.

In other words, a drone.

Take a little time away from the computer, or smartphone, or tablet.  Slow down with the social media madness.  Hug your spouse, spend time with your kids, go to a museum, paint a picture, open a book, or turn on your eReader, and…

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's In A Name?

I graduated high school in 1977, way back in the dark ages.  Our class keeps up with each other fairly well with mini-reunions, Facebook, and email.  It seems we’re always getting together for something, and the ones that show up always have a blast.

This past weekend, a group of us got together for a “55 And Still Alive” Birthday Bash.  It was held at the country cabin getaway belonging to one of our members.

We had a blast!

There were some members of the Class of ’77 that didn’t realize that I was a writer!  I was asked about what I was writing, what got me started, etc.

Then, the big question that came from those that had read some of my stuff:  “Why did you kill off XXXXX XXXXX in [insert story name here]?”

Some of my classmates didn’t realize that I was using names of our graduating class as characters in my books.  Those that know realize that I’m just using the names, and that the characters have nothing to do with real people…I just needed a name, and I explained that it was no different than flipping through a phone book and choosing a random name.  I think of it this way:  I have a male/female character that will do this and appear in this many pages…then, I thumb through my high school yearbook and pick a name!  I do it for two reasons:  1) it’s quicker than thumbing through the phone book, and 2), it honors my classmates and reminds me of my humble beginnings.

I like every single member of my class, and this is how I choose to show it.  I share their names with the world, and, while you, as the reader, may not know which characters are members of my Class of ’77, I do.  And I’m amazed at what we’ve all accomplished!

Meanwhile, pick up a book from somewhere:  online, or the library, or a bookstore…and…

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hey, Are You Listening To Me?

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Do you know what an audiobook is?  (Oh, I’ll hear about that one, I bet!)

My first introduction to an audiobook was Stephen King’s The Mist…and it wasn’t an audiobook.  It was a dramatization of the novella, and a pretty good one at that!

I remember thinking that if all audiobooks are dramatization, they’re pretty cool!  So, I found a few more:  dramatizations of Louis L’Amour titles.  Yes, I’m a big fan of L’Amour’s western novels.  I liked them, too!  The voice acting was great, and they were like listening to old radio shows.

I did a bit more research, which wasn’t as easy as it is today, and I heard about what was called “Books On Tape”, which were primarily aimed at the blind.  Someone with a good voice would record a book on tape so that the blind could listen to and enjoy books, too.  Early in my radio years – and we’re talking early eighties here – I entertained the idea of trying to use my voice to do some of that…but, I had no idea where to go to find out more information.  It was pre-internet times back then, and our local small-town library didn’t have any ideas, either.

Nowadays, from what I understand, recording books is a simple process, provided you have a proper home studio.

And I no longer want to do it.

Some of my oldest friends have asked me why I didn’t record my own audiobooks.  I have the ability to do voices (my Looney Tunes voices, and my Bullwinkle voice are best), and I’ve been told that I have a good radio voice.  I actually entertained the idea for a while.

But…somehow, it didn’t seem right to me to do my own work.  It seemed – at least to me – a bit self-centered.  I’m probably full of fertilizer on that, but it’s my feeling, right or wrong.

So, I’ve managed to pull together a good group of people that can perform my stories well.  Scott O’Neill, Patrick Peterson, Meagan Cunningham, Jasmin Rhea, and David Fischer.  These people with all of their great talents have brought my stories to life, and I’m proud to be associated with all of them!  Below is a list of each of my narrators, and the work that they’ve performed with links to

Meagan Cunningham:               If You Could Read My Mind – A Nicholas Turner Novel

Scott O’Neill:                           Jackie Blue – A Justice Security Novel
                                                Someone Saved My Life Tonight – A Justice Security Short Story
                                                Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – A Justice Security Novel

Jasmin Rhea:                            Hot Child In The City – A Short Story

David Fischer:                          Gold – A Short Story
                                                Saturday In The Park – A Justice Security Short Story

Patrick Peterson:                      The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald – A Short Story
                                                Mama Told Me Not To Come – A Justice Security Novel
                                                MacArthur Park – A Justice Security Short Story
                                                The Little Drummer Boy – A Justice Security Short Story

Do me a favor, and check them all out!

Audiobooks are to be enjoyed either driving in your car, or at home with headphones and eyes closed.

And, whether you listen, or whether you read, just…

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)