Michael Forman

Michael Forman
Author, Singer, Actor, Photographer. This is where I scratch out things between writing books.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A day in the life of writing.

It never stops. A writer always writes. My days are always filled with writing. Today its more about promoting the writing rather than building a narrative. 

I do have a new book in mind but I always said that I'd give SEETHINGS the right attention to promote it before moving on.  I've met so many writers who abandon their promotion and marketing too soon. They end up with armfuls of high quality work but few sales to show for all the hours making it. They're keen to write stories but not so keen to sell.

To the reader, it's never about the sales. It's more about the writer's love of writing. They picture a lonely soul, cramped into a room full of books, scraps of paper and layers of recently despised manuscripts. A set of nicotine-stained fingers bash on the keys of a old typewriter.

Nice, but the life on the other side of a typewriter's ribbon isn't one that pays the bills in this one. So to get the text on the paper and out to readers, some 'other' work has to be done. . and it's not so glamorous. The process can be as lengthy as the writing it promoting!

I'll start the day by doing the rounds of the overnight sales and statistics. Sales are sorted easily. CreateSpace and Kindle look after that, delivering product directly through their services. The stats are important. They tell me what the Internet is doing and where its going when it comes to the novel and the site it's located in. 

I get a feed of stats from the site (mfp.com.au/angelwanderer), Twitter and Google analytics. Hashtag trends can help figure out if a blog I've written previously (or about to write) can have a trending tag added to it in an outgoing Tweet. I use Buffer to automatically deliver Tweets throughout the day. If a tweet has a trending hashtag, its sent right away. If not, it goes into a 23hr schedule that pumps out programmed tweets for several different time zones.

To do all these things and continue the rest of my life relatively uninhibited, I've altered the tools of my trade. The novel was written on a laptop. That's okay for an extended writing process but the promotion of books needs to be more portable... so this writing goes through a phone. It helps that I now carry the biggest Andriod ED on the market, loaded with tonnes of apps, tools and bookmarks which I can take anywhere. As a phone it's absolutely ridiculous. It looks like I'm talking into tablet. Pressing it against my cheek has people looking sideways. But when I pull out the bluetooth keypad, turn the phone sideways and set it on its stand, the combo looks like a small laptop. I can write anything on it. The 4G and wireless connections give me online access in a second. Instagram shots are taken with it, feed items are displayed here. I compose and manage all blogs on it, check orders, respond to messages coming in from any service.... anywhere. (I wrote this blog in a bar while waiting for my turn at karaoke!)

But it doesn't come without inconvenience. This little baby needs to be fed constantly. To keep up with the power demand, I carry extra. The power supply given with phone was too small to inject high power into the unit in short bursts... and the inbuilt battery never quite goes the distance. I shelved the 2amp transformer supplied in the box and obtained a 4.1amp. It charges the phone quicker and, more importantly, it charges the 30amp/hr battery bank I bought for the phone quicker. The usb cigarette socket in my car is also 4.1 amp (most of the cheapies are 1.0 amp or less!) to mimic everything I do at home in the car.

The battery bank gives me two whole phone charges. In real time, that's about a day and a bit, two if I started out with a fully charged phone and limit use. It's a juggling act between battery bank, wall, charger and cigarette lighter to keep everything topped up. It's worth it... and a whole lot easier than travelling and setting up a laptop.

Yesterday, I took the phone to Mandurah's foreshore and spent some time in the sunshine and then wrote again at night during karaoke.

I dedicate at least 6hrs of writing work everyday, 2 in the morning, 2 the afternoon and 2 in the evening. That's six hours to write something on 1 of 4 blog sites, check stats, Tweets, Instagrams and set new content in five RSS feeds. There's also time dedicated to Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and other social media sites. It's not hard to see that six hours be absorbed into any of these activities.

I also contribute to other bloggers sites. Yesterday, a blog post appeared on one of my feeds and I felt compelled to contribute. It was an angry writer commenting about Amazon's policy on book reviews. She had read a book and wanted to place an online review in the appropriate Amazon channel. What a great thing to do... but Amazon returned the review to her and said that they wouldn't publish it. The reason: She knew the author. 

Amazon wants unbiased, unsolicited content in it's review section and she was wrong person to write a review.

The truth is she didn't know the author. She had links to his site on her social media. Amazon looked into her background and assessed her to be a colleague or close friend.

I get the unbiased thing. Some authors abuse the system by skewing reviews in favour of their work. They have friends write glowing reports on everything they do and have them submit them. To minimize the chances of false reviewing, Amazon appears to be doing background checks on submissions and those who submit them before posting the review on their site. But Amazon is getting it wrong.

The author of the blog thinks it's wrong for Amazon to check up on her without her permission. I believe that's a pointless argument to pursue. Social media, blogging, commenting on blogs, etc, is an open world everyone has access to. Bloggers get more followers by adding links and attracting search engines to them. All Amazon is doing is taking the freely available data that Google uses, that we've woven for our own benefit, and made it part of theirs. Permission was granted the moment we began blogging.

She can't stop the process by complaining but, by proxy, her post raises a new and interesting point. Fans of authors WILL follow their favourites and put their favourite links on their favourite sites. They'll talk about their favourite writers, even promote them in blogs they write. This doesn't mean they're related by blood, work or some best friend association - but the data disseminates it this way. Amazon will need to address this as opportunities for quality reviews will get missed. It's hard enough to get a stranger to write something for an author in the first place... they have go back into the site, log-in, follow the prompts to get to the reviewing section, fill in details, think of something to say, confirm their text, confirm their email, confirm their existence as a human being, etc... it's expecting a lot for someone to get through it all and then be rejected by an irrelevant system. The process shouldn't be blocked by an immature process of background checking, one that hasn't caught up to reality of online life.

So you see, a day in the life of a novel writer can be filled with many things. Now I have to switch apps and visit E-bay for a while. A diamond saw I've ordered to cut holes in tiles with hasn't arrived and I need to know where it is. This bathroom won't get finished without it!

-Michael Forman (Author)
Michael Forman’s books on Goodreads ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.50)