The Marketing Files: Refocus

Forward thinking in a backward world, or is it backward thinking in a forward world?  In any case, I had an interesting conversation last evening at a friend’s birthday dinner.  I began discussing my curiosity about marketing and how I was looking at some of the things I could do to develop more traffic for my blog spot.

Some interesting points were brought up.  I was challenged on why I wanted to do this.  Did I have a product?  If I did, then I should be trying to attract people who could assist in promoting said product.  In other words, marketing isn’t a popularity contest. 

Pointedly I was asked if those of you following my blog would purchase my book once it was released.  I was asked if any of my current followers could assist in getting the news out about the publication.  It was a bit of an assault, but one that I really think I needed. 

I actually found myself feeling extremely protective of all of you who read my posts.  Then I wondered (GASP!) if I was selling out by wanting to improve the amount of traffic I receive.

It was an odd reaction.  I started this blog for the purpose of writing on a regular basis.  I have stated this previously.  This still holds true. I guess, too, this was a way to introduce myself to the world of writing. 

This is the first forum that anyone has ever read any of my writing.  I had not joined the writing groups when I began this blog.  I truly was in my little corner of the world hoping that someone would hear me. 

I thought about the ‘product’ that I would be promoting in the grand scheme of marketing and it would in fact be me.  I am the one who is writing.  All these ideas are coming out of the expansive grey matter that resides between my ears. 

It was very strange to think of myself as a ‘product’.  As I considered this, it occurred to me that we sell ourselves all the time.  If we’re looking for a job, resumes are developed to highlight our skills and abilities pertaining to the position applied for.   So the shift is a minor one really with this line of thought, yes? 

Yet when I applied this ideology to promoting myself as writer, there was a moment of panic that occurred, a moment of doubt. 

No solid background exists in this area.  I did not graduate from high school.  While I took a non-accredited Creative Writing course several years ago, there are no other educational credentials or pursuits on my part.  My education in writing has come from reading and the need to put my thoughts down on paper.  A few years ago I went from describing myself as someone who loved to writer to a writer. 

This change in how I regarded myself demanded a certain discipline and respect if I was to take this seriously and regarded as such.  My belief was and still is that if you want to be good at something, anything…practice regularly.  Find and acknowledge the areas that you are weak in and work that much harder to develop your skill set.

And this is where I am currently.  Working hard to become a wordsmith of sorts. 

What I realized last evening as well, is that I have succeeded.  Perhaps not to the acclaim that many might equate success with, but those of you who have followed my posts hopefully have gained something from them.  Or perhaps I have simply entertained you. 

I will continue to research various marketing techniques and I will report my findings to you.  But this is not a popularity contest.  While I joked about being the Belle of the Blog, it really was meant in jest. 

My interest in marketing is simple.  I plan to self publish. I have a few reasons why I want to go this route.  First and foremost, I wrote a memoir.  It is a very personal telling of some extremely difficult issues regarding abuse I have had to deal with during my lifetime. 

I want to have control over this and that was why I chose not to try and ‘sell’ my story.  Second, I thought what better way to get to know the market I am wanting to be part of.  If I am going to make mistakes, and I can almost guarantee you that I will, then why not do it with my own story? 

I am now writing my first fictional novel and am six chapters in. I also have about six others in various stages to be developed down the road. I am always coming up with new ideas as well.  I am exploring various genres and I am having fun with the telling of stories and I want to become good at it. 

The plan then will be to post any new marketing information I have come across and my ideas surrounding it perhaps once a week.?  All other posts will be in keeping with what I have done all along of whatever happens to be firing in my head at the time. 

Just needed to adjust my focus a bit.  There, I can see so much better now. 

Enjoy your day!




In Training (Day 76)….Am I Tough Enough?

A slight altercation in my workout strategy this week.  On Wednesday evening I had my writer’s group meeting and it ended early.  I got to chatting with John, one of the members.  We discussed future projects and a host of other topics.  Finally he said he had better get going.  I looked at the time and it was 1:24 AM!

Yes, I can be long-winded.  I know that but I didn’t think that it was that late.  So I scratched running on Thursday morning and moved it back to the original Friday slot.  This morning’s run showed improvement.  I did my 5 km route.  At the beginning it felt really awesome and I debated doing my 6 km route.

‘No…listen to your body and don’t push it!’   I warned myself.  There is a rather steep incline on the 5 km route and I walked it out for about a minute in that area.  For the most part I felt the strength coming back, though I have a ways to go.  I am hoping that the race this Sunday goes well.  It is a run around the Seawall in Vancouver.  The only incline is at the end.  The last 1/2 km is uphill.  Rather cruel, don’t you think. 🙂

My breathing was not as laboured as it was a few weeks ago. I found a really nice Zone 1 pace this morning and I will try to incorporate that into my run on Sunday.  I was also fasting this morning as I needed to go for my blood tests.  So that was the other factor in taking it really easy this morning.

Ah yes, happily only four vials of blood were removed from me.  I had thought that perhaps six may be taken.

When I entered the building a pale blue sky was peeking out from the clouds.  It was quite mild out and dry.  When I walked out of the building 1/2 an hour later there was a hail storm.  Fortunately I was wearing my wind breaker that has a hood on it.  The hair suffered a little but not too badly…and I had the hair thing going on today.  Is it a sign?

Then I got to thinking about just how tough I am and what that means exactly.  Somehow when I think of being tough it has an air of impenetrability to it.  That somehow I cannot be hurt or maligned.  It surprised me with this flu bug that I picked up just how quickly all the hard work and training reduced my efforts dramatically.

I also got to thinking about the publication of the book.  I had an incident occur at the writer’s group meeting in that one of the members commented on the actual style of the book itself.  Now he probably joined when I was in the mid-way point of my book.  So he has never read the first part.  First he told me how a book should be structured than likened my book to a comedian who never comes through with the punchline.  That I wasn’t providing relief, I wasn’t summarizing.

Now this writer’s group is about reviewing the work that has been offered up and offering insight into the flow and the various components of the characters, and in my case me.  Does it work?  How might it be more effective?  That type of thing.  In fact, the original guys that I met when I joined just over a year ago helped me immeasurably and gave me such insight and perspective into my project.

So I have been pondering how to respond to this.  It occurred to me that perhaps he just doesn’t like my writing or the topic or both.  And I told him this.  I explained that this book was not for everyone.  It was strange because I realized too, that with publication I am opening myself to criticism.  For the record, I have always posted a warning to my group members if a chapter is particularly raw and graphic.  The thing about this weeks submission is there was a lot of humour inflected into the telling of this event.  That I suppose is what had me mystified.  There was a vagueness on his part of articulating his point, which is odd for this particular individual.  Then he just seemed to shut down as I  inquired further as to his meaning.  “That’s just my opinion.”  was all he offered.

An odd tension arose that I was a bit confused by.  And as I thought about it later I decided it’s not really okay to slam someone’s format for their book.  Now I have to decide how to approach this.  This group is not about dictating how a book should be set up.  It is not about whether you like the topic or not.  I would prefer someone be honest and tell me they find the subject matter disturbing and don’t wish to participate in this particular project.  I am totally down with that.

I suppose too, this fellow is an educator and has been in publishing as he pointed out ‘for 23 years.’

Again I was left with the impression that somehow he feels he is more knowledgeable in this area than I am and that my work is somehow inferior.

I suppose that I should expect such things though when I publish this, and I will publish it.  So I will have to implement some rules regarding the critiques that are offered up in group.  I am a co-organizer after all and I am ‘tough enough’ to take this on the chin.

Understand too that I only have a Grade 10 education.  Yes, I went to a community college for a year as a mature student for accounting, but much of my education has come from reading.  Do I know all the nuances of the language, all the technicalities?  No.  I have issues with tenses…that has become apparent but it is this type of feedback that has made me a better writer as it has been brought my attention and dually noted.

Should I take a writing course on such technicalities?  Well, in truth it really doesn’t interest me.  I think the best way to learn is to read and write.  My command of the language has improved incredibly in the last seven years or so and will continue I suspect.

Part of the conversation I had with John later was about certain books that are considered literary masterpieces as they are written for scholars by scholars.  While I have tackled some of these they are at times difficult to read and somewhat intimidating at times.  They are held up though in their perfection and hey, I won’t slam this at all.  After all it is a glimpse of the language being mastered and I truly do appreciate this.

My point to all of this though is simple.  Just because someone has more education does not grant them the right to dictate prose and structure to others.  After all, this also a creative process.

I am tough enough.  I realized that about self.   I will publish this book. I will finish my race even if I have to walk at times.  It is after all about the journey and what I learn along the way.

Have a great Friday everyone!


In Training (Day 30)…Observations

I have been in a rather strange mind-set these days.  I feel like I am hovering.  I am gazing forward and looking at the options that are presently set before me and while each begins with a certain vision, each path ultimately fades into a future that has not yet been determined.  Now the decision has to be which path represents my truth.

I had a conversation with a woman whom I know not too long ago and she asked me what I hope to gain by publishing my book.  I rattled on about wanting to be accepted as a good writer, someone who is good at her craft.  Of course, in my humble wisdom, making money wasn’t important and yet I did want it to be successful.  I did want to connect with people through the book.

I have been thinking about that conversation because as I grow closer to publication I really have to ask myself, very honestly, what I hope comes from the release of the book.  Of course I want it to be successful.  Show me a writer that doesn’t want their published work to be received well.  The book is a memoir and so I have an intimate and emotional connection to the story that I am telling.

So I thought about the release of it, and envisioned it disappearing amongst the hundreds of thousands of other books out there.  Lost in obscurity.  Read perhaps by a handful of people.  And I asked myself how that would make me feel.  In truth, I didn’t feel badly.  Not at all.  Some of the best books I have read have been those obscure titles that I have come across in a used book store.  The author is not known and yet the words they have penned hit their mark.

Quite often too, the books that do well and become bestsellers are not necessarily well written.  So it comes down to marketing the product.  I can quietly release the book and watch it fade to black or I can market the hell out of it.  Yet another aspect of this publishing quest that needs to be developed.  I suppose sometimes a book will catch on and go ‘viral’ as we now describe something that gains success publicly, something that just catches the public interest at that particular time.

A friend told me I didn’t have to publish it.  And no, I don’t have to publish it but I want to.

I have learned so much in this last year since I made the decision to write and publish this book and yet my knowledge in this sect is in its infancy.  There is a part of me that is quite excited and there is a part that is terrified.  I have been told that I am brave for offering this story to the reading public.  This is a statement I find rather curious.  I really think anyone who puts their creative self out there has a strength of character to be admired regardless of whether you enjoy the work being presented or not.

And this got me to thinking about the reasons why artists, musicians, photographers, writers, actors, etc. do what they do.  I can’t speak for everyone of course, but for myself personally I have a deep love of the written word.  Oh, I have a deep love of all the arts but writing is where I found my expression, my extension of self.  The written word can tell you far more accurately what this heart is feeling than the words falling from my lips ever could.

Far too many times the words were swallowed and not given the voice they sought.  Ah, but the pen spewed forth all the fears and hopes of this woman.

At the end of the day, I hope I can connect on some level.  Will it touch someone?  Help them?  Give them hope?  I don’t know.  For me the publication will be a release of sorts.

It is a grey and wet day here in Vancouver.   On days like this you would not know we have a spectacular mountain range half hour from the downtown core of the city.  When we are shrouded in cloud, it feels a bit gloomy at times.  I have heard tourists comment that they just ‘don’t get’ why everyone thinks Vancouver is such a beautiful city.  Then the sun comes out and the clouds dissipate and they are in awe at her beauty.

Why do I bring this up?  Not everything is as it seems.  So this is what I am gazing at before me now.  Which path do I move toward that when the clouds lift will fill me with wonder.  This next move on the chessboard of life is an important one and if I need to take a little extra time, then I will.  And this decision will be made by what is in my heart, not in my head.  That is the only way I will find my truth.

Enjoy your Monday!



New York_2 076

This is an anniversary of sorts for me today.  One year ago on this date I was admitted into hospital where an angiogram was performed and later an angioplasty.  Which means, for those of you not familiar with the terminology, I had a heart blockage that was investigated then had a stent inserted to open up the artery which we discovered was 95% blocked.

And the thing of it is, I had virtually no symptoms.  We  kind of stumbled upon this through some other tests.  A year ago I was feeling far too human and far too fragile by the day’s end.  But what I realized in that moment as I laid in the operating chamber, very much awake and watching as the doctor moved his instruments inside my heart, was how little time on this planet we actually have and how much we take it for granted.  It was the day after this event while I sat curled up on my sofa, ruminating about all of the things that I had been through in my life time that I began this blog.

I have always wanted to write and I want to be a good at it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always written,  not always in a particularly coherent manner, mind you.  At this time last year no one had ever read any of my writings.  I had been working on a memoir, which last year was still a compilation of emotional writes in several notebooks.  I embraced the New Year with a vim and vigor never quite experienced before.

I found a writer’s group that focused on offering positive critiques for ongoing novels and/or short stories. My first meeting with them was rather intimidating.  I can recall thinking ‘What if I’ve just been kidding myself all these years and can’t really write very well at all?’  To this little offering of doubt that presented itself, I smiled and decided that I best learn the craft then if I want to write, yes?  And so began the exploration of learning to become a decent wordsmith.

I joined yet a second writing group which tackled different issues regarding the world of publishing and all the little intricacies and nuances and gave me insight into a world I really knew nothing about.  I have been a sponge, wanting to take in as much as possible.

Sanctuary Photowalk 087This is my 219th post over the course of this past year.  I have had emotional highs and lows.  I have challenged self consistently and have moved forward steadily.  To where, I can’t say just yet.  What I’ve been doing, I realized today,  is that I have been laying down a foundation of sorts.  I have become far more disciplined in the task of writing on a daily basis.  The appetite to read, to explore, to research is at times voracious and difficult to satisfy as there are only 24 hours in the day.  In that mix I work two jobs, run, workout, do Yoga, write, cook clean, socialize.  I punched it up into high gear and just ran with it.

Over a four and half month period I put the book together.  And other ideas began to blossom in this fertile head of mine.  I participated in Rick Hansen’s 25th Anniversary of the Man in Motion Tour.  And now not only do I want to write, but I want to contribute in a positive way to this world that I belong to. And I guess that has been one of the most exceptional realizations is that I do belong and that I matter right along with all my other beings on this beautiful planet.

For so many years I looked out at this world from a carefully constructed shelf.  As this year began I jumped into the fray and woke to this world of so much splendor.  I wondered why I had not done this previously, but then decided no point dwelling on a point that was now moot.  I run now into a presence that encourages as much as it challenges.  I no longer have the attitude that I can’t do something.  Now the neurons are firing and assembling thoughts and ideas at a pace that I sometimes can’t keep up with.  And so I sit, meditate and slow the thing down.

It’s not about me, the individual any longer.  It is about me, the participant.  What can offer to the grand design?  How can I be used by this life source that feeds me and give back?  Those are the questions that dance through the head now.

flowerI do consider myself a writer now, not just a person who likes to write.  I have made several choices in my life…some not so good…some not so bad.  But the best choice I made over this last year was to live and live well.

For those of you that have followed my journey over this past year,  I thank you and hope that you will continue on with this evolution of mine.