A Fool’s Errand on Facebook

Facebook is a powerful tool and potentially very useful, but it must be used correctly. Fools rush in where angels tread carefully and act only after carefully weighing the strategies. Facebook marketing is more than simply opening a Facebook account. Some authors get good publicity through Facebook campaigns while other authors waste a lot of time and energy with Facebook campaigns.

My first book was self published. The book they produced was excellent, but the marketing services they charged me for were inadequate. There is a significant difference between self publishing and being published by a small press. The small presses I have worked with since actually have a business interest in the success of my book. Small presses work in coordination with the author.

The company who helped me self publish my first book simply set me up on Facebook, Twitter and other social media services and built me a website. They did nothing more. The website was good, but after a year, that started charging a high maintenance fee, so I built my own website. At the time I knew nothing about social media. I spent a lot of time and energy blundering along on Facebook and other sites without selling many books or getting much publicity.

I was thrust onto Facebook with the promise that being on Facebook would help sell books. I soon found out that a fool on Facebook accomplishes little, and I was a fool.

The first problem is readership. At first, I had few friends on Facebook. Since it was a personal account, few people other than family and close personal friends saw my posts. One must expand one’s circle of friends for Facebook to have much effect. It is rumored that Facebook intends to limit posts on your Facebook page to 25 close friends. If this is true, this hamstrings efforts to use Facebook for publicity. Nevertheless, marketing requires you to greatly expand your circle of friends. After all, posts related to your book are not intended for your closest friends. They already know you have written a book. The people you want to reach are those people who do not know you well. The value of close friends is that some will repost the post about your book.

The second problem is dilution. Consider the number of friendly posts people put on Facebook. These include notices of what is happening in someone’s life, family occasions, greetings to friends. I think this is what Facebook initially expected people to post, and there are a lot of such posts. Then there are the opinion posts where someone is advancing his or her political views, religious views, a favorite band or some cause. These can be overwhelming. Then there are numerous “cute” posts of pictures, puzzles and, “You know you are a ___ if. . .” posts. With all these posts, the posts about your book will get lost on a page full of other posts. There is no harm in making posts about your book(s) and your promotional events on your personal Facebook page, but do not depend entirely on a personal page.

An alternative is to also have a page devoted to your book. Again you start with the number of people who actually see your page. Unless and until you build up your followers, few will see it. If you do not keep posting fresh material, few people will look for the page. I set up a page for my first book.

As I stared publishing more books, I set up more pages, each dedicated to another book. Now I was again faced by dilution. Currently I have let all of my pages dedicated to books lapse. I have just started a page, “Books by Reynold Conger” dedicated to my books and writing career. This will enable me to post material about me and all my books on a single page. I will be able to update and add posts more frequently with less work, but even this will have minimal effect until I build up followers. We will see how effective this approach is, but it promises more hits than either my personal page or a page for each book.

Using Facebook to promote your book is your task. You must do some work promoting your book, but it will be a waste of your time and energy unless you put some thought to strategy. Decide how much of your time and effort will go into your personal account and how much into dedicated. Put some thought to expanding your following. Set and maintain a schedule of fresh posts.

So far I have avoided discussing paid ads. That is a topic better left for another time. Even paid ads are of little value unless they are well written and used according to a well thought out plan.

~

Visit my webpage, ReynoldConger.com to learn more about the books I have written. If you order any of my physical books from my website, I will send you a signed copy.

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Chat With Me (About Books)

Please come and chat with me about my book or about literature in general. I am in the Kellan Publishing chat room the second Thursday of every month from 5:00 to 6:00 (Mountain Time) [7 Eastern, 6 Central or 4 Pacific]. To enter the chat room, go to KellanPublishing.com. If this link does not bring you directly to the chat page, use the drop down menu under “More” to get to the chat page. Once on the chat page, click the logo for enter chat room.

Kellan Publishing Company is the small publisher who published my book, Reducing Medical Costs(At the Cost of Health). That book is a medical mystery.

Kellan Publishing Company sponsors a chat line for its authors. I am one of several authors who have taken advantage of this opportunity. I would love to chat with you, and so would some of the other authors. Our schedules are found on the chat page. Join any of us at the scheduled times.

The chat room being used is dedicated to Kellan authors so there will be no outside chatter.

 

Reynold Conger is an author of fiction written from  a Christian perspective. Read about his books on , and join in his author chats.

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A Calabacitas Summer

The last several summers, I have grown Gadzukes in my garden. Gadzukes is a hybrid zucchini squash sold by Burpee. It looks like and tastes like zucchini except that it grows fast. Within a week a blossom grows into a squash 3 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches long.

Traditionally, people pick zucchini at 5 to 8 inches in length because the slow-growing squash gets tough and grows large seeds. We prefer our zucchini a bit larger. With the usual varieties of zucchini, we generally grow harvest at 12 to 14 length. Because Gadzukes grow so fast, the 18 to 24 inch fruit is still sweet and tender. The seeds are still very small and immature. The 18 to 24 inch fruits are excellent for eating raw, frying, boiling, stuffing with a mixture of meat, onions, chili and tomatoes, as zucchini bread or making into calabacitas.

Calabacitas literally means small squash. It is the name given to a dish very popular in New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest. It is chunks of zucchini squash cooked with onions, corn and green chili. Some cooks add other vegetables.

Calabacitas is very popular among our neighbors. Even the restaurants offer it in season. Now most of you are asking, “What kind of a restaurant offers squash on their menu?” Here in New Mexico, I have been served calabacitas as a side in some very high-class restaurants

The disadvantage of a fast growing squash, is that it can get away from the grower. I try to pick the squash at the 18 to 24 inch size, but often they hide. If I do not pick them at the desirable size, they grow to a diameter of 4 inches and length of 30 inches within the next day or two. The seeds also start to mature.

Because squash bugs usually decimate our squash vines, I planted the entire package of seeds this summer. Because we are in a drought, we had no squash bugs until the late summer rains hatched a few out. As a result all the seeds grew and none were taken out by the bugs.

As you can guess, we have a bumper crop of zucchini squash and the vines are still producing. All summer our kitchen has had 2 to 4 baskets of squash, some 30 inches long. We have been enjoying the squash and giving it away as fast as we can. We take a basket to church and all the squash disappear quickly at our small church.

Most of our friends make the squash into calabacitas, but I am sure there are other uses. One friend told me she made 5 loves of zucchini bread from a 30 inch squash. Another woman ground a squash up and froze it in anticipation of baking zucchini bread next winter.

My wife has begun slicing the large squash into thin slices and drying them in the dehydrator to make zucchini chips. We find them an interesting snack.

2018 will be known as the calabacitas summer.

This blog post was not sponsored by Burpee, nor was it intended to endorse Gadzukes. The description of the squashes grown this summer is factual. The author does identify the source of these hybrid seeds as a service to those who may wish to try growing such fast growing zucchini.

Reynold Conger is an author of fiction. Visit his web site at http://ReynoldConger.com/ to learn about the books he has written. The website also contains a bee page with news about the bees that pollinate Reyold’s vegetables and produce honey.

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Maintain Your Stuff

Our church is small with a small budget. We manage our money by doing a lot of things ourselves. For example, the church building is cleaned regularly by a crew of volunteers. Needless to say, cleaning a church takes a toll on the vacuum cleaners.

Recently an old woman died and our church was given her vacuum cleaner. It is old, but a good quality machine. The woman had been sick for some time and had been cared for by a young housekeeper.

For reasons I do not understand, my wife and I are the ones church members run to when something break down. We received the vacuum cleaner just before the start of a series of revival meetings. The “new” vac was assigned to the fellowship hall. One night, one of the women tried to clean the fellowship hall following a time of refreshments and fellowship. The woman called my wife over. “This isn’t working.”

We hauled the machine home and together we worked on it. It appeared in good condition except that the brush and its bearings were filled with dirt, etc, so that the bush did not turn easily, and the machine was not pulling much of a vacuum. While my wife went to work removing strings and dirt from the brush, I looked at the hose connecting the power-head to the dirt container. I brought my sewer snake in from the garage and cleaned 3 feet of debris out of the hose. With the brush turning freely and an empty hose, the machine worked very well.

The old lady’s housekeeper is a member of the current generation of young people. My wife and I are in our mid 70’s, having been born during WWII. The housekeeper most likely paid little attention to the condition of the vacuum cleaner. She probably would have kept using the vacuum cleaner with little or no thought to maintenance until, in her opinion, it was time to replace it. In fact, I was surprised that the dirt in the brush and hose had not caused the motor to overheat and burn out.

Had it been our vacuum cleaner, we would have occasionally cleaned the brush and periodically cleared things that stuck in the hose, but then, we are old-fashioned.

Our parents had grown up in the Great Depression. Then there was no money to buy new things. Our grandparents had financial incentive to keep things working. Furthermore, my wife’s father was a mechanical engineer, and my father was a “shade tree” mechanic who never took his car into the shop because he maintained and repaired all of his vehicles himself. Our parents maintained their possessions with period cleaning and maintenance. Our mothers shared in the cleaning and maintenance. While my father was in basic training, my mother made repairs to the family car.

When something broke, our fathers would fix it. My father kept a barrel of scraps in his workshop. when something broke, he usually fabricated the replacement part himself. Nothing was thrown out or replaced until it was well beyond repair. Similarly, my wife’s father kept machinery working and was known for helping his neighbors with simple repairs.

Granted, not everyone in the 1950’s and 1960’s had mechanical skills, but everyone had the common sense to keep possessions maintained, and when something did not work properly, they would get it repaired before it destroyed itself. Those with skills, did it themselves. Those without, would ask a neighbor or find a repairman.

Until well into the 1970’s machines were relatively simple and easy to repair. Repair men worked for reasonable fees that were usually only a fraction of the value of an item.

Why is it that the “younger generation” finds themselves frequently having to buy new appliances and vehicles while members of the “older generation” often are still using vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers. that are older than 10  years old?

Part of the reason is that our fathers taught us the principles of making basic repairs. While I usually do the more demanding repair jobs, my wife does her share. More important is that our parents taught us to keep our possessions maintained. When hoses start to get plugged, a cleaning is in order. When a wheel or brush does not turn freely, we know to look for something such as a carpet string jamming it or to look for a bad bearing. Some bearings can be replaced easily. Some wheels and pulleys can be replaced easily,

Why can the “younger generation” not keep possessions clean and lubricated? Even a squit of WD40 does wonders when applied periodically.

Keep your possessions clean and lubricated. When something isn’t working as well as it should, look for a problem such as a wad of carpet fuzz in the vacuum cleaner hose. A little observation, common sense and some effort will keep the appliance working longer. By golly, you might even have more cash in your wallet when it is time to replace something.

 

Reynold is a retired scientist who writes as a retirement career. Please visit his website, ReynoldConger.com to learn about his books. Most of his books are available for sale on that web site. Books sold on that website are autographed.

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Name, Rank and Serial Number—Your Author Biography

 An author biography is a form of identification. When you are interviewed for a job, you tell the interviewer as much as you think will help you land the job. On the other hand, a soldier who has been captured by the enemy is trained to give only name, rank and serial number. Your author biography needs to contain information that helps to sell books, but perhaps not too much information.

When you submit your manuscript to a publisher such as Kellan Publishing, you will be asked to provide your author biography. Your publisher will use your author biography for publicity purposes. For example, Kellan Publishing uses the information to post an author page on the Kellanpublishing.com website. Some publishers even include biographical information on the back cover.

As you write your author biography, include enough information to interest potential readers without over burdening them with trivia. Unless your book is about animals, there is no need to tell the reader about your childhood pet.

I like to identify myself in the first paragraph of my biography with my name and something linking me with the type of books I write. Many authors add a sentence about their occupation or former occupation. Only if you are writing a scholarly book do you include your college degree or degrees.

Writing an author biography is like baiting a fishing hook. If something in your background relates to your book, include that. A sentence about what inspired your book can be interesting to readers. Other information is up to you. Many authors make a brief mention of spouses and children. Some authors mention where they live. This is particularly useful if the author lives in an exotic place such as Paris, but authors have drawn interest from readers by saying they live just about anywhere.

Just like the prisoner of war, there are some things you do not want to tell. You do not want to list your address or phone. In most cases it is enough to list the state you live in if you think it will attract readers. You probably do not want to give the names of your spouse and children. If you think it will make you appear to be an interesting author to let readers know you have a spouse and children, simply say, “. . . lives with his wife and three children in [name of a state or large city].” If you choose to mention your occupation, you will probably not want to name your current employer. Your age or birth date is probably not useful to your biography.

Remember your publisher will use your biographical information to bait a hook to catch readers. Good fishermen know that too small a bait gets ignored, but too large a piece of bait can scare off fish.

Spend some time polishing your biography. A good author biography will sell books if it makes you, the author, look human and interesting.

~ Reynold Conger

Get your copy of Reducing Medical Costs (At the Cost of Health)   from Kellan Publishing or buy an autographed copy from Reynold’s website.

Follow me on:

Facebook: Books by Reynold Conger

Twitter: @RConger_author

My Blog: Reynold Would Not Write if it Were Not Fun

My Website: http://ReynoldConger.com/

Reynold Conger is an author Go to his website to learn of his books and his writing philosophy. 
Books he has published include:
  Chased Across Australia
       A travelogue style thriller
  My Knight in Shining Armor
       A Post Vietnam era Romance
  Reducing Medical Costs (At the Cost of Health)
       A medical thriller
  Stoned for His Faith
       A Thriller about religious persecution
Reynold has also written the Richard Tracy Series
   (A series of novellas available as e-books)
  Book 1.  A Dangerous Bike Ride
  Book 2.  Gone Running and Gone
  Book 3.  Dem Bones Shall Rise Again
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Love Your Political Enemies

Jim Crow laws have returned to New Jersey, but now it is not blacks who are refused service in restaurants, but rather Republicans. The president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was asked to leave the dining room of the Red Hen Restaurant in rural Lexington, Virginia. To Sarah’s credit, she left quietly and without commotion after being asked to leave.

The world is aware that liberals in general and Democrat liberals in particular are so angry that Trump beat Hillary, they have been openly attacking Trump, and have been refusing to work with the Trump administration. In the 54 year I have been voting, I have seen a lot of voters disgruntled by election results. There is always close to half of the electorate who are unhappy at the results of any election. There are usually many who dislike the new president, but I have never seen so many people express blind hatred for a president. The hatred started before Trump even had the opportunity to take office, and many people I talk to can not say why they are angry.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). This is good advice to all, even to those who reject Christianity, for hating someone harms the person who hates more than it harms the person who is hated. Psychologists and psychiatrists teach anger management as one way to reduce stress. I think it is fair to say that it is not good for your health to hate. The experts agree.

It would appear that this great outpouring of hate is all aimed at influencing voters in the mid-term elections. I hope the voters are smart enough to ignore the hate for Trump and instead vote on issues and candidate qualifications.

I find it ironic that only a few weeks ago liberals were criticizing Starbucks for calling the police to remove two men who appeared to be taking up counter space without placing an order. Now the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant thinks she is acting wonderfully by ejecting a member of the Trump administration from her restaurant.  The actions of the Starbucks manager were wrong, but at least the Starbucks employees thought they were acting in the interest of the company. In this case, the owner of the restaurant is only trying to make a statement about her hatred for Trump. This looks like a double standard to me.  It is possible the owner may also have been trying to make publicity against Trump.

Everyone seems to be getting publicity. There are those crowing about Sarah Sanders being kicked out of the restaurant and those criticising the action. It is interesting that members of both parties have criticized the owner’s action. I wonder if the owner of the restaurant will have the effect she intended.

Were I the owner of the Red Hen, I think I would have handled it differently. I would have let Sarah Sanders and her family enjoy the meal and then approach the table personally with the bill. I would have informed Sarah that the meal was on the house, but would she please convey to President Trump the feelings of the owner and employees of the Red Hen Restaurant. I would then have handed Sarah a short letter expressing a few of the most important grievances. Perhaps I would have collected as many employee signatures as I could. I think that would have had more impact.

We will never have complete agreement in our country, but we could work together as we work to keep the United States strong and civilized. We need to be kind and respectful to our political enemies, for in doing so, we will facilitate the type of cooperation we need to govern well. We may even keep a vast number of Americans more healthy just by eliminating unnecessary anger.

 

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist and teacher who writes in his retirement. Please take a moment to visit his website, http://www.ReynoldConger.com, for information about his books.

 

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Should Your Hero be Perfect?

I wrote Stoned for His FaithA Christian thriller about an American pastor who is stoned because Muslims do not like the book he wrote teaching Christians to witness to Muslims. This book is fiction.

A reviewer wrote some kind words about the plot and how well I had crafted the story, but then wrote the were disappointed that the hero, a Christian, had flaws in his character. The reviewer lowered their rating on the book of these flaws. Apparently the reviewer expected a Christian hero to be perfect or near perfect.

My hero showed his humanity by being tempted and having been tempted in the past. Everyone is tempted. Should I be using a different standard for Christians than for anyone else? Obviously not. Literature should not contain double standards.

I would be hard pressed to create any character, Christian or non-Christian who is perfect the way the reviewer wants. Even if I did create such a character, it the book would be terrible. Even Superman has a weakness, kriptonite. Writing teachers instruct us to create conflict in our stories. Look how often Superman has to deal with exposure to kriponite. Flaws and weaknesses in characters, and in the hero in particular, help set up conflict. Plots are established, in part, by how or characters respond to conflict. In most stories, the hero overcomes the conflict. Perhaps they are strong enough to win the conflict, but more often, the hero changed during the story to be better prepared to meet the conflict. In tragedies, the hero goes down in flames. The reader mourns their demise but cheers at the limited successes they have achieved in striving for their nobel cause. Even the heroes of tragic stories generally show some change.

As it turns out, every good hero has weaknesses and character flaws.  What makes a book into a great book is how the characters each face life in spite of these weaknesses and flaws.

A flawed hero or heroine also gives the author the opportunity to let the hero grow or mature into a less flawed individual. Most readers are thrilled, at the end of the book, to see a hero or heroine who is even better than at first.

Do not be afraid to write a hero or heroine who has imperfections. That makes him or her better. In fact, I often try to build imperfections into my heroes and heroines.

In a week or two, I will write the post: Should Villains be Bad to the Bone?

 

 

Reynold Conger is the author of fiction written from a Christian point of view. Please visit his website, ReynoldConger.com.

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A Memorial Day Meditation

This weekend, people are honoring those men and women who gave their lives to protect the United States, and in doing so, they were giving their all to insure that our freedom will continue.

Among other things, people are marking graves with flags, laying wreaths, firing volleys, playing taps and giving speeches all in honor of these dead patriots.

Bugle calls and speeches are a lot of hot air. Volleys of gunfire are a form of honor, but they are simply loud noises. Flags and wreaths are more durable, but in comparison to what the veterans give, flags and wreaths are pretty cheap honor.

A more fitting honor would be to live our lives in ways that bring greatness and honor to the United States of America:

Respect all religions. In this way, we strengthen our religious freedom.

Allow everyone to speak even when we do not agree. In this way we strengthen our freedom of speech.

Vote intelligently. Educate yourself and vote for the candidates who you think will best serve the country. In this way we strengthen our country.

Respect our elected officers even when we disagree with them and even if we did not vote for them. Even if you do not like a government official, respect the office he or she holds, for in doing so you help the government to run smoothly.

Obey laws, even if you think they are stupid for we are a country with laws enacted by representatives of the people who serve their constituents by enacting laws that are intended to bring peace and tranquility to all.

Use you skills and intelligence to build and strengthen your life, your community, your state and your nation.

A college classmate, 2nd Lt. George Stivers (Army) lies in a grave, and the remains of a high school classmate, Captain Paul Gee (Marine pilot) are scattered on the ocean floor off of Danang. Neither is aware of what we are doing, but I know that they would be pleased if they could know that all Americans made good use of the rights and privileges they died to preserve.

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