Sunday, November 4, 2012

After the Storm - Blog Tour Winners


   Last Sunday, massive storm Hurricane Sandy moved up the Atlantic coast, turned inland on Monday, and wreaked havoc across the northeast United States for two days, causing an estimated $50 billion worth of damage, not counting the loss of human lives. It was such a catastrophic event that the vicious presidential campaign actually toned itself down for a few days (well, for the most part, anyway). Wednesday, folks in the northeast began digging themselves out of the snow, pumping the water out of their homes and businesses, and assessing the damage. Some folks in New Jersey say it will be a year before they’re back on their feet.

   Sandy missed Charlotte almost entirely. I can be thankful for that, but I had my own ‘perfect storm’ going this week, the Blog Tour for the release of The Dragon of Doughton Park. Although on a much smaller scale, my storm lasted five days, and (metaphorically, at least) I am just now digging myself out and assessing the damage.

   Blog Touring is a phenomenon that’s developed only in recent years, yet it is agreed upon as an essential aspect of self-publishing. For those of us who don’t have the advertising budgets of large publishing houses behind us, it is the best way to spread the work about our work.

   Theoretically, blog touring is the virtual equivalent of a face-to-face book signing tour that would be the staple for the release of any well known author’s book to the network of brick-and-mortar stores. And theoretically, it should be even better, because each stop has the potential for reaching hundreds of thousands of potential readers with reviews, interviews, and book-related swag giveaways.

   In reality (for this author, at least), each stop probably reaches ten to twenty potential readers, with further restrictions on prize giveaways (you generally have to have some sort of blogger account to enter) that narrow participation further. I’ve been blog touring sporadically for almost a year, and I couldn’t give any concrete, measureable correlations between the activity and actual sales.

   And, for me, it takes its toll mentally, emotionally, and physically. Each day last week consisted of early morning correspondence and posts of Facebook to announce the daily stop address, a breakfast of coffee before an 8-12 hour work day, followed by an hour or two stop at a coffee shop (for wifi and, of course, more coffee), a nightly un-related meeting I’m attending, then more late-night follow-up on the day’s post, a meal if it’s not too late, and finally (and always too late for me) bed.

   The schedule caught up to me Thursday evening. I closed up my laptop at a Starbucks in the Meyers Park area of Charlotte a little after 7 pm. Realizing I was already late for my meeting, I decided to skip it. I went home.

   When I walked into my apartment, I noticed the week’s worth of dirty dishes in the sink, the unpacked bags from my trip the previous weekend, the over-flowing garbage pail in the kitchen, and the half-empty basket of laundry I’d hastily pulled from the dryer last Sunday. I wasn’t too exhausted to care, but I was too exhausted to do anything about it.

   Operating on auto-pilot, I pulled my laptop from my backpack and plugged it in to recharge the battery. On a whim, I opened up Windows Explorer and checked my Writings folder. I stared at the Date Last Modified on the document that contains the work-in-progress on the third novel in the Red Wolf series. I was horrified to see it was 09/07/2012. Other than this blog, I have done no creative writing for almost two months! And, yeah, the next question is, could this blog remotely be considered ‘creative writing?’

   Okay, I’m going to stop my rant before delving too deeply into that last question! Suffice it to say, something needs to change. There are many other reasons besides the time I’m spending on this blog for my not doing any more writing than I have been lately. But this blog is one of the things I’m going to have to back off on some in order to do the writing that I love.

   I will no longer be doing a weekly post on this blog.
   No, I’m not abandoning blogging altogether. I will continue to post occasionally and provide updates on the progress of the Red Wolf Novels. So check in occasionally, okay?
You see, I’ve been so focused lately on publishing and marketing that I’ve missed the true value of these blogs and the tours they host. The marketing opportunity, good or bad, is not where the value lies. It’s the networking. It’s the people you meet along the way.

   Bloggers hosting sites dedicated to reading and reviewing books are an interesting and admirable breed. Regardless of whether they are authors (like myself) who are trying spread the word about their work or so-called “normal” people who like books and reading, they all share a common love of the written word. I swear, from the efforts and for-free hard work that I’ve seen them do to support us indie authors, that love is palpable.

   Ironically, it was commiserating with one of the hosts of this week’s tour about the difficulties of networking that helped bring this into focus for me. J.S. Turner, author of The Realm Between Heaven and Hell, hosted my Halloween stop on her Lost in Thought blog spot last week. Jessica is an interesting person and a perfect example of why I really need to keep doing this sort of thing. In her I found the opportunity to chat with a fellow author, exchange reviews of each other’s work, and talk about the challenges of self-publishing.

   And in one of the emails to her I found myself answering my own question. Ultimately, my success as a writer does not hinge on how many potential readers I reach on a blog tour. It hinges on the effort I put into developing my craft. It hinges on how well I write.

   Blogging, and visiting the blogs sites of others, gives me the opportunity for networking and feedback, so I can tell if I’m on the right track in my craft. 

And it puts me in contact with some wonderful people with whom I can share my own love of writing and reading.
   To hell with marketing. From now on, my friends, I’m blogging for fun.
 
  Now, it’s time to announce the winners from last week’s blog tour:
 
(drum roll, please...)
Fangspiration bookmark winners:
   Must Love Fangs (2), Ray DeLotell, Kristi.
Dragon of Doughton ebook winners:
   Must Love Fangs, KaraC, Dragonmama
Dragon of Doughton signed paperback winner:
   Tammy Middleton

  Congratulations to all you winners. I am trying to make contact with all of you to collect email and address information so we can send your winnings. If you want to help me out, please email your info to jhundley50@gmail.com.
And remember:
   You can purchase my books through the following venues…
The Draculata Nest
The Dragon of Doughton Park
 
 Until next time… Happy Reading!
 

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