Changes for the Home Stretch

One of the pieces of advice I received when I started shopping THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER to different publishers was to make sure I had a blog. At the time, another blog of mine already existed, but it was much more personal and family-oriented in nature. So, I started this blog with the idea that it would serve as my “author” blog.

Once I had the blog up and running, the next piece of advice I received was that I needed to make sure that I blogged on a regular basis. If I went too long between entries, the blog would cease to be effective. Another article I read also suggested that not only should I be active, but I should be predictably active. The idea is that a blog will attract regular readers much more readily if they can know on a regular basis when they should expect new entries.

For about eight months now, I have tried to do this. To be honest, I’m not sure if anybody noticed but me. But I did it because it is an industry norm. Or so I’m told.

Well, the truth is, I have noticed its effectiveness.  When I started this blog, I was lucky if 15 to 20 people read an entry. Now, on average, a typical entry will get around 50 to 60 views on day one and anywhere from 20 to 30 in the next two days following. Numbers that are certainly not setting the world on fire, but pretty decent considering where I started.

Now, one thing I have noticed is that I have been pretty consistent about publishing a blog post on Monday. I haven’t been quite as consistent with blogging on Thursday (sometimes it slips to Friday and sometimes I have missed altogether), but I have noticed that my Monday posts are routinely more widely read than my Thursday or Friday posts. I don’t know why, but they are.

So, taking into account the numbers and the fact that I am running out of things to say, moving forward, I am going to blog each Monday and that will probably be it. (I fully understand that most people’s response will be, “What is he talking about? Does he honestly think we care when he posts stuff? What kind of ego driven maniac are dealing with here?”)

The reason I am putting this out there (to be completely frank about the marketing strategy I am trying to employ) is to hopefully maximize my efforts with those who have become somewhat regular readers. If they know when to expect something, they will be less likely to miss it. Not every post between now and August will be book related, but the reason this is important is that when they are book related, I am then dependent on those regular readers to help me disseminate some of the more “Major Announcement” kind of things that will be coming in the next few weeks as the release for THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER is now a mere three months away.

What kind of announcements? Well, the cover art should be done very shortly. A new look to the website that will more effectively promote the book will be up soon. Short previews of the novel itself will appear in some posts and hopefully announcements of positive reviews (that’s a big assumption, I know) will post here as well.

But here is my huge request. If you are a friend, family member or complete stranger who is marginally excited for the release of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, I really need your help in the coming months. I realize these requests are unfair as they are favors I will likely never be able to repay. But I ask because as anybody who is trying to make their dream a reality in this new world of social media knows: one extra share or one extra like can be the difference of something going viral or something going stagnant. So here are my requests.

1. Share and like posts that deal with “major” announcements regarding THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER.

2. Invite people to “like” my author page, preferably more than once. (Invite more than once, not like)

3. Hopefully some author signings will be announced. If you are one of those people who doesn’t like to pre-order things or distrusts putting your credit card on the internet and happens to live in one of those areas where a signing is announced, please (yes, I have fully reached begging mode here) take the opportunity to visit that store where the signing is scheduled and request a copy be ordered for you ahead of the book’s release. Currently, only one is scheduled for sure and that is the book’s release party at Bookworms Bookstore in Thatcher, AZ.

4. If you live in a state other than Arizona or Utah, I’m probably not gonna be signing anywhere near you. If you have plans to purchase the book, please consider purchasing the book now as a pre-0rder from Amazon.com. You can do so by clicking here.  Pre-order numbers affect the efforts in marketing the book by the publisher as well as bookstores that will consider stocking a book.

If you are a person who hates to be “that guy” or “that girl” who pushes things on their friends and family, I understand. If you would prefer to not “like” every post or not suggest people follow my page, I get it. I won’t let my kids sell their latest PTO stuff door to door because I don’t want my neighbors to feel pressured. I totally understand. But if you think you might be buying this book, this last request is the request that matters most. If you do pre-order it, whether it be through a bookstore or on-line, I thank you more than I can express. It means a great deal to me.  Really, Thank You.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. I hope when the final product lands in your hands you aren’t extremely let down. If you have followed this blog regularly, then you probably have a good idea of what to expect from the writing. Except now there will be a story included. I can’t believe it is coming so quickly. Thanks again everybody, for all the support you’ve provided and for anything you may do going forward. You’re great.

For anyone hoping for a less pushy post, all I can offer is my latest post from last Thursday in case you missed it. (It wasn’t a Monday post, so it is likely that you did.)

THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER arrives August 13, 2013. Ryan Rapier the author’s facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor. As noted above, it can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon.com. Just think parents, it will be here just in time for you to enjoy as you send your kids back to school.

 

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Drive-By Fruitings and My Regards to Mandi Tucker Slack

First of all, I just have to get something off my chest. Three days ago, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address. I didn’t watch it. In fact, I haven’t watched a State of the Union in years. I didn’t watch them when Bill Clinton gave them, I didn’t watch when GW gave them, and I certainly don’t watch them now. If I want to watch people iterate their wish lists for things they can’t possibly pay for, I will go stake out a department store Santa line this next December and get more than my fill. But that’s me.

However, the thing I find amazing is how my Facebook news feed blew up during and after the speech with all my conservative friends howling about how partisan the president sounded and how dishonest he was during the speech and so on and so forth. To which I say, “Yeah, you’re probably right…but so what. Did you expect something different?”

I would like to give my rabid political friends some advice:

TURN OFF THE TV AND THE RADIO.

I promise you’ll feel better. It won’t change anything that Washington is going to do policy wise, but at least you don’t have to think about it. You’ll be able to breath deeply and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings more fully. It’s a tranquility you really should get used to. Since no one in Washington seems even remotely interested in tackling the debt and it appears inevitable that everyone’s taxes will go up regardless of assurances otherwise, it is likely that you won’t have any money soon to distract you from enjoying the joys of nature all around you. In fact, you might not even need to worry about having a house to block your views of the great outdoors.

Regardless, understand this: President Obama has been who he is for four years. He then won reelection. He will never have to run for political office again. So my conservative friends, ask yourselves: why on earth would he say anything you want to hear? So then? My advice is don’t waste precious energy whipping yourself up into a frenzy over things you cannot change.

Having said that, I am now going to whip myself into a frenzy over something I cannot change, but that is completely unrelated to politics.

Can I express one of my biggest frustrations with the process of getting a book published?  Well, it is my blog, so I guess I can.

I think query letter’s are of the devil.

As an author, I spent over a year of my life pouring my soul into a novel that means a great deal to me. I have put all of my emotion and lost countless hours of sleep trying to ensure that the story I’m trying to tell is as polished and perfect as I can make it. Then, in order for me to have a shot at getting it out to the masses, I have to sell over 100,000 words to a publisher or agent in a one page letter that only allows for one paragraph as to what my book is about.

Really?!?

Had I known five sentences would be the difference between success and failure, I would have saved myself a lot of time worrying about character development and just focused on writing the world’s greatest limerick.

I mean, I understand that agents and publishers can’t read every manuscript that crosses their desk. I get that. But I began following a couple of literary agents on Twitter and they would tweet some of their judgments on query letters they were pulling from their “slush pile.”

Some of the comments I read were, “While this particular concept sounds like it could be interesting, the writing just wasn’t very strong.”

WHAT??? How the @!*% would you know? You just based your opinion on a bodybuilder’s strength by watching him thumb wrestle. How on earth could you know if the writing is strong or not. If a book has any depth at all, an author is seriously going to struggle wrapping up the plot in a four line synopsis. I defy anyone to capture the essence of Gone With The Wind in five sentences or less. The same challenge stands for Grapes of Wrath (Actually, if anyone could do that for Grapes of Wrath, I would be forever grateful. I might actually make it through the five sentence version.)

Anyway, despite my rage and angst at a process that is inherently unfair, it is the reality of publishing. And so, against my own advice, I am railing against something I cannot change. Thankfully, there are a few exceptions out there, including my publisher, Cedar Fort.  Cedar Fort, and to be fair, most major LDS publishers, will accept full manuscripts. For that, I am truly thankful.

And now that I have that out of my system, I need to take a moment and express my gratitude to a fellow author in the Cedar Fort stable.  (Categorizing authors who publish under the same house as being in stable can really be taken two ways. Either I am a thoroughbred, a stallion, a stud…or a nag. I’m really not sure how to take that.)

Mandi Tucker Slack is currently in the process of releasing her second book, Tide Ever Rising. In fact, it officially released this past Tuesday and she has been wrapped up in book signings and launch parties. However, through all that, she took the time to read The Reluctant Blogger and kindly provided the following endorsement:

“A story that proves there is hope beyond loss, and healing becomes possible through love. Uniquely-written, Ryan Rapier’s The Reluctant Blogger will warm your heart.” – Mandi Tucker Slack, Author of The Alias and Tide Ever Rising

So, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to Mandi, and let her know how much her sacrifice of time during this busy portion of her life means to me. While I have not read her latest, I have read The Alias and found it to be a highly enjoyable distraction. Which is exactly what a good novel should be.

More information about Mandi’s books and about Mandi herself can be found at http://www.mandituckerslack.com. Both The Alias and Tide Ever Rising are available on Amazon or most places where LDS novels are sold.

Meanwhile, The Reluctant Blogger is now also available on Amazon for pre-order and will release in August 2013.

Finally, anyone who has survived to the end of this post and is still wondering about the title, Drive-By Fruitings, well…it doesn’t mean anything. I couldn’t think of a title for this post and have always loved that line from Mrs. Doubtfire. That’s it. Sorry to those who were hoping for a Robin Williams or Pierce Brosnan reference. You will have to leave disappointed.

Have I Sacrificed My Man Card?

I had an uncomfortable realization last night as I stood among a group of Young Men’s leaders following mutual?

I’m embarrassed of my book in a testosterone heavy environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed that I wrote a book or that it is getting published.  All that is absolutely still awesome, its just…

We were standing in the church parking lot talking about church basketball when suddenly my friend who is the young men’s president says to the group, “I know he’s not going to say anything, but I’m going to. Did you know Ryan wrote a book that is getting published?”

The response was great.  Everybody was surprised and congratulatory and very supportive.  But in that instant, I realized I desperately did not want them to ask THE question. “What’s it about?”

I know this says something terrible about me, but I immediately thought, hmmm-dead wife, depression, psychiatrist, blogging (in general), issues with family and a romantic aspect throughout. Not exactly the makings of a new Old Spice commercial.

And I have had those conversations with men and they go something like this:

“…and so that’s kinda the gist of the story.”

Crickets

Finally one guy will volunteer, “Sounds…interesting,” said in a tone of voice suggesting anything but.

Thankfully, last night nobody asked the question. One guy did say, “Well, you’re going to have to read and tell me about it because I don’t read.”

I said, “Fair enough.”

So, my dilemma is figuring out a way to better market my book to men in a way that I don’t lose valuable male “street cred”. Maybe I should say, “It’s about a group of Mormon guys who like to watch basketball and golf who are all die-hard Sun Devil fans. And it’s funny.” Not much of a story there, but boy doesn’t that sound masculine.

Anyway, please come back tomorrow for the second part of my conversation with author, Jennifer Griffith. Intellectually we are knocking it out of the park. You will be smarter just for having read it. Or your money back. Also, if you haven’t been to my facebook author page, facebook.com/ryanrapierauthor, please visit and help me boost the number of likes. I realize this is shameless self-promotion, but I had to give up all facades of dignity and propriety the second I decided to publish a book. Now it is all about me all of the time.  Thanks for reading.