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Bill Arnott’s Beat: Sociable Media: Face-to-Face v Facebook (Part 2 of 2)

Like me, Ringo Starr’s never measured pie in pieces. There’s no bigger piece of the pie, simply endless ingredients for limitless pie. This kind of collaboration’s evident in a number of libraries that offer writers opportunities to showcase their craft, reading from both published and unpublished work. At the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) it was called New Voices; now it’s Writers Showcase, featuring both emerging and established writers. Four or five writers read in turn. There’s opportunity for Q&A and readers’ publications are available for sale. This happens several times a year. In addition, many libraries actively support Indie authors, buying and promoting self-published books. Authors can apply for royalty equivalents through Canada Council for the Arts’ Public Lending Right Program.

Whether discovered online or in person, writing groups continue to be an excellent means of learning, sharing resources, further establishing brand and providing opportunities to sell more books. Many people even use short form content on Instagram and the like to help promote in this way (especially after looking into advice from The Small Business Blog and its contemporaries). It’s fun and supportive. Everyone’s innovative when it comes to promotion. One of my writing circle colleagues would set up a table of books at craft fairs and swap meets, giving a slice of cake to every book buyer. (“Angel food works best!” she says. And she’d never even heard my pie analogy.) The second edition of her memoir sold over five thousand copies without social media.

Another group member credits his strong sales to a perpetual online presence – promoting his young adult fiction through Amazon, Goodreads, and an active website. Partial proceeds to charity bolster his success. Others in the group don’t want the personal visibility that can come with social media. Author websites, on the other hand, can provide greater anonymity. But all agree a strong network of email contacts remains the surest way to reach a readership and prospective book buyers, particularly for subsequent publications. When it comes to network contacts and brand building, email is ownership, social media is nothing more than a short-term rental. However, it may not be the same when it comes to business branding where platforms like Instagram can aid well in amplifying the products to the targeted audience. Marketers often make use of growth services like Ampfluence (check Ampfluence for Instagram reviews) and Nitreo to improve their social media presence and engagement rate.

Private functions, guest readings and literary events, promoted through email and social media – e-posters, announcements and invitations – have consistently been my most effective means of brand building, promotion and book sales, with both traditional and self-published work. Pick the venue based on you and your readership – class it up or make it funky – whatever fits.

Like most of us, technology’s cut my attention span, so whether I’m attending or hosting, I want a well-paced program. Collaboration and multimedia are the best means of delivering this, music and visual art to accompany a reading of your written word. Your presence – your brand – grows, the whole greater than component parts. People want to take part; to hold a memento. Promotion brings us together. A book is our tangible takeaway.

Like it or not, social media’s essential to any author wanting to build brand, promote their work and sell books. As with any tech it represents greater efficiency and increased effectiveness. But never allow it to replace what best represents your brand as a writer. And that’s you.

Originally published by Authors Publish Magazine and the Federation of BC Writers.

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Bill Arnott’s Beat: Sociable Media: Face-to-Face v Facebook (Part 1 of 2)

Something happened when I hit middle age. A knock at the door, someone holding a clipboard, explaining I was required to start using social media – Facebook being a necessity along with nighttime peeing and early suppers. (Not that a clipboard-toting official actually came to call, but I did have a friend strong-arm me into using Facebook. He even got me fifty new friends. I had no idea I was so popular!) Facebook is not the only platform that is popular to use, there are so many others that have come out too with ways for people to gain a following and build on their brand, whether it be personal or professional, for example, did you know that you can buy Tiktok likes and Facebook followers? Social media is adapting, and I guess I needed to get on board.

My first nonfiction book hit bestseller status, not through social media. Yes, I had a website. We used email. But we weren’t using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads or Amazon. I spoke to people. I arranged readings. I had books with me wherever I went, getting to the first five thousand in sales one and two copies at a time. Partial proceeds went to a national charity. This helped. People in part bought books for a greater good – another copy for a friend, a few for gifts – a sense of community.

I’m a proponent of social media, now, in all its time-consuming wonder. But my books still sell predominantly through personal interactions: readings, bookstore signings, writing groups and literary events. In other words, doing all the things we as writers hate doing – going out in public, interacting with people. Like most authors I’m an introvert, although I hide it well. Yet every time I force myself out of my comfort zone, I’m amazed at the good things that come about as a result. Most people are the same. Given a choice between mingling with strangers or pajamas and Netflix, the decision’s easy.

I don’t go to events expressly to sell books. I do it for the same reason I exercise. I know it’s good for me and when it’s done I’m pleased I did it. When I go out, I make real connections, actual friends as a result. My brand gets built and I often sell some books, books people buy because they know me. Trust’s been established. We see this with fiction and nonfiction alike. Readers want to know their authors. You can be as honest or deceitful as your writing. I’m a proponent of sincerity. I’ll fib to make someone feel better. I’ll embellish to enhance a punchline. But I won’t lie. That comes through in writing as it does in person and your social media presence. Readers might be tricked into buying a writer’s book, but it won’t happen more than once (pseudonyms aside).

When using social media, I look for ways to showcase others, building up fellow artists and colleagues wherever possible. I don’t believe anyone gets a bigger piece of the pie. I simply see ingredients for more pie. Ringo Starr – a hero of mine, is a fine example, a talented individual capable of writing great singalong tunes, who continues to surround himself with more talented people. (An interviewer once asked John and Paul if Ringo was the best drummer in the world to which they answered, “Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the Beatles!”)

Part 2 to follow …

Originally published by Authors Publish Magazine and Federation of BC Writers.

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This article has been Digiproved © 2020 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning

If F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby defined a time period, then Bridget Canning’s The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes is a book defined by a time period, and that time period is now. 2017. Technology and social media figure so prominently in Wanda Jaynes that this book could not have been written 10 or 15 years ago, for 2007 was still the email age; texting, YouTube, and the rise of the ubiquitous smartphone were yet to come. Ms. Canning makes full use of all of these in her contemporary fiction debut novel for Breakwater Books.

Wanda Jaynes instantly becomes a reluctant media hero after knocking out, in true David vs Goliath style, a deranged gunman in a St. John’s grocery store with a can of coconut milk.


Wanda instantly becomes a reluctant media hero after knocking out, in true David vs Goliath style, a deranged gunman in a St. John’s grocery store with a can of coconut milk. The ironic thing is that heretofore, she couldn’t hit a garbage can with a crumpled piece of paper or a bottle cap. Naturally, the whole event is captured by a store employee on their smartphone and posted to YouTube where it immediately goes viral, much to Wanda’s dismay. This leads to a media circus outside her home, and in an interview with CBC, she lets slip that she is an atheist. This then makes her the evil poster child for an evangelical group that believes God was behind her actions that day. Then there are others who want to make her the good poster child for heroism; both camps not entirely altruistic in their intentions for using Wanda. Also confronting Wanda is the fact that her contract teaching job is to be terminated at the end of the term and she has good reason to think her musician boyfriend Ivan is being too familiar with her friend Trish. Too much “texty-texting” Wanda says.

All this stress, compounded by an unrelenting (and an uncontrollable) social media presence in addition to a likely stalker who is sending her unusual emails, leads Wanda into a descent into despair, depression and a dependence on recreational drugs, alcohol and Valium in an attempt to block everything out; she simply cannot deal with this on her own and Ivan just doesn’t seem to understand her reluctance to be a force for good.

I very much enjoyed reading Wanda Jaynes. Ms. Canning’s style is not unlike another favourite author of mine, Lisa de Nikolits (author of The Nearly Girl): serious, but not darkly so, humorous, but not overly so either. I call it “serio-comedic”. While there are a lot of unnecessary F-bombs, the dialogue is crisp and realistic. As the female protagonist, Wanda Jaynes is quite likeable, and the reader can readily empathize with her throughout all her the book. An excellent debut novel.

Update! November 19, 2018: Congratulations to Bridget Canning, who has been longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2019 for “The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes!”

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning
Breakwater Books

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This article has been Digiproved © 2017-2018 James FisherSome Rights Reserved