I wish I would stop nagging me to join my social network

I admit it. I’m a naughty author.

Despite truckloads of sound advice instructing little guys like me to use every incarnation of social media to our advantage in promoting our books, I don’t have a Twitter account. I am often confounded by Facebook; I don’t understand the usefulness of Pinterest at all; and I don’t even know what Snapchat is.

I wouldn’t have a LinkedIn account except some people who have helped me out with my books invited me to become part of their networks and it didn’t seem right to ignore the requests. Does anyone else find it odd that they could invite me to join their networks when I wasn’t even signed up to the service?

My network is very small. I don’t really get LinkedIn. I guess it’s kind of like Facebook except people comb their hair for their profile pictures.

LinkedIn is spooky to me. It’s the haunted social media. I seem to have two versions of my profile on their servers somehow. Depending upon which browser I use to access the service, I either have the profile to which I added all of my jobs, education, and writing projects, or I have an abandoned-looking profile with little more than my name and a silhouette where my picture should be. It probably even has cobwebs, but I run away too quickly to check.

The camera makes me look 10 years younger.

The camera makes me look 10 years younger.

LinkedIn sends me lots of emails asking if I know certain people. That was merely a minor nuisance until they started getting freaky and asking if I knew Scott Nagele. For those who skipped over the tittle of this blog, that’s me.

I want to tell them I do know Scott Nagele, so quit asking me, but I don’t know how to do that without connecting to myself, which is not something you want to be caught doing beyond the teenage years.

Besides that, I have an eerie feeling that if I were able to tell them I know Scott Nagele, I would get a follow-up email asking, “Really? How well do you really know Scott Nagele?” I’m not prepared, at this time of my life, for that level of electronic soul-searching.

Maybe it’s the ghost of my phantom profile trying to contact me from beyond the Internet. “Know thine own self, lest ye turn to a dead, faceless profile like me.” (In that drawn-out, remorseful, ghostly moan.) (Oh yeah, and rattling chains.)

On the other hand, it could be my (barely) living profile trying to contact the graveyard profile through some sort of séance, using me as the medium. Either way, I’d like to be left out of it. I don’t go in for this kind of jiggery-pokery and I’d prefer it if my profiles would just leave me alone.

I’m afraid they won’t though. I fear worst will come to worst. Therefore, if you will give me a moment of privacy, I may need to connect to myself.

P.S. Click the “About My Books” tab at the top to see what I’m supposed to be talking about all over social media every day.

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Where did our love go, follower #31?

I lost a Goodreads follower. Even though I’ve never been quite sure what the relationship between Goodreads authors and their followers is supposed to be, I feel a little sad about this. Sure, I didn’t really know that person; but I still feel rejected. The disappearance of their tiny thumbnail image from my Author Dashboard leaves a little, square hole in my life.

As far as I can tell Goodreads followers see pretty much the same side of you as Goodreads friends do, except they are not necessarily people you know.

For the longest time, I had one follower. Then, one day, I noticed I had a dozen. From there my group slowly grew until I had 31 followers. How I got this many followers I don’t know, but I naturally chalked it up to my snowballing popularity. Who knows? Someday I might hit 40, and from there the sky’s the limit.

Yesterday I noticed my followers numbered only 30. Somebody made the conscious decision to stop following me, and like a jilted lover, a part of me longs to know why. Why did you leave me? What could I have done differently to keep your love? – or in this case, your passing interest.

I don’t think I did anything offensive. I did rate The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with four stars. Was that not enough stars? Too many? Now, I fear I’ll never know what drove my 31st follower away.

How did I end up in a love triangle (technically a triacontakaitrigon) with Sir Arthur and 31 others?

How did I end up in a love triangle triacontakaitrigon with Sir Arthur and 31 others? It’s his bedroom eyes, isn’t it?

Aside from the personal rejection, I’m left to contemplate what this contraction means for my long, but mostly secret career as a writer. Has my popularity peaked? Did 31 followers represent the Golden Age of my appeal? Will they all begin to trickle away now, leaving me clutching at withered laurels as I struggle to regain my renown? I can see it on my headstone:

When this is the height of your fame, they don't even bother with your name, because who cares?

When this is the height of your fame, they don’t even bother with your name, because who cares?

I suppose I’ll never know why I was kicked to the curb. I’m left to piece together speculative theories. The most plausible is that one of the 18-26 people who are following me by accident, ever since they clicked the button next to the button they intended to click, took the unlikely step of auditing the list of authors they are following. Finding no justification for my name on their list, they took immediate corrective action, this time taking care about who they unclicked.

Either that or one of the 6-12 people who followed me as a lark during a carefree, and possibly drunken, moment of web surfing, decided to begin taking their online decisions more seriously and eliminate all their irresponsible Internet relationships.

Either way, it was clearly a mistake. It has now been fixed. Follower 31 and I have gone our separate ways. It’s probably best for everyone involved, with the exception of me. What happens when the other 30 get word that there is a way out of this mess?

 

How do I know I’m close to being nearly famous? Because the Internet says so (and the Internet never lies).

A funny thing happened while I was Googling myself. What, you don’t Google yourself? Whatever. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I keep track of myself online, because well, really, who else is going to do it?

Anyway, the results were pretty standard stuff: links to my blogs, links to my books on Amazon, the web site that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about me (or a guy with a very similar name) for a small fee, and a link to my senior picture in the 1985 St. Johnsville Central High Yearbook.

If he had only known about Wikipedia back then, he would have dressed for success.

If he had only known about Wikipedia back then, he would have dressed for success.

There was a link to Berkeley Fiction Review (BFR). They published one of my stories about 10 years ago, so that made sense.

Then there was a link to the BFR Wikipedia page. Why, I wondered, would a search of my name bring up BFR on Wikipedia? I clicked it.

I scanned the page of information about the whys and wherefores of Berkeley Fiction Review. There, in the middle of the page, was my name, listed with about 40 others under the heading, “Notable contributors.” I am on the same list as Charles Bukowski. I confess, I don’t recognize most of the other names on the list, but they must be of some minor renown, as the majority of them have links to their own Wikipedia pages.

I don’t have my own Wikipedia page, but at the rate I’m going, I figure if I keep Googling myself, one will eventually show up for my troubles. And then I’ll be “big time.”

Who knew old Issue 27 would supply a notable contributor to ranks?

Who knew old Number 27 would supply a notable contributor to ranks?

I understand users are allowed to edit Wikipedia entries, but I promise I had nothing to do with putting my name down as a notable contributor. For one thing, I’d be too afraid of crashing the entire Wikipedia empire to attempt making  an edit.

Worse, what if they had a way to trace it and found out I was the one who put my own name on a list of nearly famous writers? That’d be awkward.

I don’t know how I got on the list of “Notable contributors,” but I sure am tickled to be there. I thought about adding a signature line to emails I send that says: “Scott Nagele, Notable contributor,” but then a wave of humility (perhaps it was envy) swept over me. After all, I was one of the minority whose name showed in plain, black font, not one of the specials in the inviting, blue, “link to my personal Wikipedia page” font. My static, disconnected name leads nowhere.

Still, among the many hundreds of BFR contributors over the years who are not notable enough to merit their own Wikipedia entries, I must be among the 20 most notable.  Either that, or somebody just picked a few random names from a past issue in order to fill the holes in the list of blue-fonters. Either way, I’m mentioned on Wikipedia. So how ‘bout them apples?

 

Amazon giveaways: the best-kept secret from Amazon customers?

This year, Amazon.com has added a new giveaway feature. Here, you can sponsor a giveaway of virtually any product sold on Amazon.

Having done a couple of Goodreads giveaways for A Housefly in Autumn, I was interested in how this new feature could help me promote the book. After doing a little research on Amazon’s official giveaway site, I’m still unsure how this feature would help.

Amazon.com and it’s international incarnations reach hundreds of millions of customers. This makes any tool Amazon unveils worthy of consideration. But after reading up on this new giveaway service, I think it may be more useful to larger vendors with a wider social reach than myself.

The main problem with Amazon giveaways, from the perspective of the small, independent publisher, is that there appears to be no readily accessible site within the entire realm of Amazon where customers can go to peruse the available giveaways. (As far as I can tell, there is only a Twitter hashtag: #AmazonGiveaway.) Instead, the sponsor of the giveaway is issued a unique link to disseminate to interested parties in order to bring them to the specific giveaway.

By contrast, the biggest advantage to a Goodreads giveaway is that readers can browse the entire catalog of available giveaways and thereby find new books that may interest them. The giveaway is a tool to reach potential customers with whom you might not otherwise make contact.

In the case of Amazon, you are left to promote your promotion, which seems like an extra, unnecessary step to promoting your product. Everyone in my network has already received promotional information about my books. I want tools that reach beyond my already-establish network.

Amazon jungle

I went to the Amazon the give away some books, but my books got lost in its immense jungle. (Image: Keystone View Company)

In the description of this service, Amazon says, “Run promotional giveaways to create buzz, reward your audience, and grow your followers and customers.” I could much more easily grow my followers and customers if all Amazon customers were allowed to discover my books by browsing the list of available giveaways.

I can imagine that this service could be valuable to individuals and corporations with large social followings. But for the little guy, it’s hard to spot the advantage. If I want to give a book to friend, I can do that on my own.

Amazon has done a lot of good things for independent authors and publishers, and maybe this new feature was intended for somebody else. Also, the feature is relatively new and perhaps still evolving.

If Amazon opened up a catalog where its customers could browse and enter any of the various giveaways, I believe I would begin sponsoring giveaways for my books in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I think I’ll hold off until somebody can explain the advantages of the system as it now stands.

Would you consider doing Amazon giveaways? Have you done any? How did they go? Whether you’ve tried them or not, can you spot an advantage to the small seller that I’ve missed?