Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Humility Is Important

I was asked today how I felt about authors who do things like announce their standings on best seller lists.  It was an interesting question because this is something that I think can be done really well. And it can be done in a way that is arrogant and off-putting. You see, most readers don't care (in theory) how well your book is selling--they care about the product. So how is an author to do this well and how can they screw it up?

Examples of the former:

An author friend's book was on sale at Amazon for like 99 cents. During the time it was on sale, she ran a contest on her blog. Basically, you told her on the blog that you bought her book and you were entered to win, but... the giveaway was tethered to the book's Amazon ranking (brilliant contest). If it hit the top... 100 (I think), she would give away a $10 gift card. If it stayed there for a week, she'd up it to $25. If it made the top 10, I think she was upping it to $50. I saw her tweet and facebook her standing a couple times--along with links to the contest. Anyone who was in the contest would be vested in those numbers as well, so it was less bragging and more sharing.

In other situations, I've seen authors hit the top 100 somewhere and post it with something like "OMG, you guys, "Book Title" just hit #87 on the B&N best seller list. To everyone who bought it or helped promote it, THANK YOU!" In this case, it's less bragging and more appreciative. (Also, the other author I mentioned? More often than not, she said thank you in her tweets/posts too.)

And that's the key. If you're going to throw that stuff out there (as anything more than a "Whatever bestseller" with the cover on your website), you need to make it about the reader. Be excited, but remember to be humble too.

As for how to do it wrong, I'm going to tear into someone who isn't an author, but is a recording artist whose work I love--Adam Lambert. I read an interview with him where he basically went off about fans who yell things to him like "I voted for you!" He comes across as believing that they didn't do anything, he made his career all on his own. Ummm... well, yes and no. Had people not voted for him on American Idol, he may not have stayed on the show very long and could have ended up back where he started--still on the road to stardom, but walking the long way instead of taking the shortcut provided by AI. Saying that is not to dismiss his talent at all. The guy is a brilliant vocalist (IMO) and deserves to be where he is, but he wouldn't be there yet if it weren't for people voting for him and buying his album and buying tickets to his performances.

Artists (of any sort) live and die by their fans. If no one cares about you or buys your work, it doesn't matter how brilliant you are.

So tweets and posts that just say "Woot! "Book Title" just hit #_____ on the bestseller list!" and nothing else? I get the excitement behind them, but as a reader, I ignore them because they don't mean anything to me. Connecting with fans even via adding a "Thank you" to those posts would make me more likely to sit up and take notice though because I'd see the author as one who cares about his or her fans. When people buy an artist's work, they are choosing to spend their hard earned money on what that person created. A little appreciation and humility goes a long way--and might even make someone new to their work take a second look.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Post...Enjoy This Instead

Sorry about the lack of a post today. We just got back from a long weekend with the extended family (ski trip) that included severely bruised shins for me and a very expensive but ultimately unnecessary trip to the ER for the Boy. I am tired and just trying to get caught up again. So please forgive the lack of a post, and instead enjoy this public service announcement.

(Hot pic of Jensen Ackles reading removed for legal reasons. Sorry....)

Okay time to go curl up with Jensen... er a good book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Makes a Man Swoonworthy?

You hear a lot of people talking about what makes famous people or fictional characters swoonworthy, but those attributes aren't usually things that translate well to real life. I mean, I know guys with the rock hard abs and huge guns and perfect hair and... I don't think I could ever live with one of them. (Granted, I could be wrong but, as a happily married woman, I don't anticipate finding out any time soon.)

I've been married over fifteen years now, through all the ups and downs and sideways (I know you wanted me to say the ins and outs, but this isn't that kind of post). And the daily grind wears at a relationship after a while and the swooning... yeah, not so much.

I remember when hubs and I were dating. We got into a HUGE fight--like throwing things and running out and screaming fight. It was ugly. When we finally calmed down enough to talk and I apologized I said, "I know I'm a hard person to live with." His response, in typical male fashion, started with "Yes," but continued with, "but you'd be a harder person to live without." It was, to this day the sweetest, most romantic, most swoon-worthy thing he's ever said to me. Sure, he did other things throughout the years, but that moment is the one that plays over and over in my mind.

And it happened before we were married. So, in fifteen plus years, he hasn't topped it. He's tried, but I think the reason those times failed and came across like cargoship filled with aged cheddar is that he was trying. Swooning happens in real life for the moments that just are, and as you go along in married life they tend to get buried in other things. We forget that we're supposed to swoon.

But then, the day comes when we get reminded.

My hubs has been sicker than sick for a couple weeks now. He spent the second half of last week home from work because he was too miserable to even think about going. And Friday night was the Father-Daughter dance that Mini-Me (6 1/2 years old) had been looking forward to since the new year. Thursday night I told her that if Daddy couldn't go, I'd take her. She wasn't happy about it, but she understood because he'd been so sick. Friday came, and I mentioned it to hubs. He told me that he'd go if at all possible "because it's important to her, and that means it's important to me."

Yeah. Total swoonage. That is my husband, reminding me all over again why I love him and why no guy with washboard abs or a Colgate smile is going to ever tear me away from him. They'd be too busy working out or flossing to make sure Mini-Me had her night.

I love you, Honey. Always.

<3 Happy Valentine's Day <3

Happy Valentine's to you too, dear readers. If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear what your significant other has done to make you swoon.

Also, just a heads-up. I have not one, but two, backlist giveaways this week. Find me at Alex O'Hurley's blog and at Demonlover's Books tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting Ranty Up In Here

I try not to get ranty on this blog very often. When it's writing related, I can do that over at the Evil League of Evil Writers, so I save my writerly rants. This time though, it isn't about writing. It's about the media and public perception.

I don't watch the Superbowl. Generally speaking, professional sports don't get me excited, so unless I cave and go to a party, the Superbowl passes without much notice around here. However, I do pay attention when people mention commercials that they loved. This one came on my radar Monday morning.

Now, in all fairness, my first thought (after "what a cute dog") was that it was a funny commercial. It didn't take all that long though before the ad started to bug me.

You see, there's an issue in this country (and in other parts of the world) about body image. (Yes, there is also a problem with obesity, which I will touch on as well.) The images portrayed in the media (especially to women, but to men as well) as "good" and "attractive" and "right" are thin. Yes, they might have curves to go with, but they are thin. That's the ideal preached to the masses--including children. And now we're using a dog to do it.

I'm not saying thin is a bad ideal, but it's not the only "good" or "attractive" or "right" body shape. For a lot of people, thin is not attractive. And for a lot, it's not natural. You heard me right. I didn't say it isn't attainable, I said it's not natural. In the whole of humanity, there's a wide array of body shapes and sizes. Being skinny doesn't mean you are necessarily healthy and being big doesn't necessarily mean you're not. (The opposite, obviously, is true as well.) I have friends who are size 0s and 2s who can eat me under the table. (and I'm not talking about when I'm trying to behave, I'm talking ALL the time.) They are naturally thin. This is okay, but it's also okay that I'm not.

Back to the dog though...

Bolt, the star of the Volkswagen commercial is a mixed breed, specifically a St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix. A Saint Bernard is a dog that measures (on average for a male) about 31" at the withers and weighs 200 pounds. It is a big, bulky dog and it was bred to be that way. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, stand 21-22" (average for a male) and between 55-60 pounds.  Ten inches in height difference and 140 pounds. It was bred to be that way. And both breeds are working breeds. St. Bernards are used to be guard dogs, rescue dogs, herding dogs and draft dogs for farmers in the Alps. Whereas Australian Shepherds were (obviously from the name) bred to herd sheep, which requires a different set of features and skills than the Saint Bernard. Neither one is "wrong" and neither one is "unattractive". They are what they are.

Bolt was put in a doggie fat suit to film the first half of that commercial--a move that made him look much more like his Saint Bernard half. At the end, he's out of it and racing through the street, looking much slimmer... and like an Australian Shepherd. If a person was to starve their long-haired Saint Bernard to make it look like Bolt, people would be up in arms screaming about abuse.

Yet we have no problem at all looking at someone whose genetics built them bigger than the "ideal" and suggesting a similar plan.

I'm not saying obesity is good. However, there are a lot of people out there who DO eat properly and DO exercise but genetics gave them a slower metabolism and a larger body size. Just like there are people out there who do the same things and because of their very rapid metabolism and smaller size, we label them as anorexic and tell them to eat a cookie. This needs to stop.

We need to stop equating size with health. We need to stop with the labels and the judgement. Find whoever you want attractive, but in so doing, you don't need to make others feel "less than". As for Bolt, he's a beautiful dog. But if you look at the pictures up there, so is the Australian Shepherd. And so are the Saint Bernards. And so is a Greyhound, and a Mastiff, and a Vizsla, and a Shar pei, and...