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blue sky over a white house

blue sky over a white houseblue sky over a white house wind blows waving trees above a green yard where something doesn’t move doesn’t move at all until slowly slowly one arm reaches up to his head it’s a man is he hurt I can’t tell slowly he rolls on one side birds chatter in the tree then fly off to the wire between the telephone poles who has a telephone that needs wires anymore but that’s what we call them isn’t it he’s up on his knees now and I can’t tell if he’s hurt or drunk or decided to sleep under the stars except he’s not under the stars he’s under the tree in the green yard under the waving tree and the wind blows in the blue sky over a white house

The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing by Tim Grahl

introvertI may be a people person, but I’m still a serious introvert. I need 51% of my time to be me, alone. At least 51%. (Best Beloved does not count because, for all practical purposes which don’t involve clothing, we are one.)

I’ve watched Grahl work with Dan Pink and David Burkus (as a member of their street teams for To Sell Is Human and The Myths of Creativity) and Tim is the goods, the real deal, the guy who does it right. Which is what his book is about.

You can even sign up to learn buckets of stuff completely free. But start by reading this article, because it’s pure unadulterated truth about why introverts can be stupendous at marketing.

You Are What You Measure

Reading Callie’s thoughts at Steven Pressfield’s blog a while back raised some marketing questions in my head.

photo by Miguel Saavedra are you more interested in:

  • number of books sold or number of new fans?
  • number of words written or percentage of days you write something rather than nothing?
  • page views for your blog, or posts you’re proud of?

It’s good business to keep track of statistics.

It’s human nature to pay more attention to what’s easy to count instead of what’s hard to count.

It’s not always obvious that what matters to your business (you know, selling books as your own publisher?) is hard to count.

Continue reading “You Are What You Measure”

Why I Want to Be Raymond Chandler When I Grow Up

Raymond Chandler has the second most distinctive voice in fiction. (Dr. Seuss has the first.)

I’ll pretend you don’t already know everything there is to know about Chandler and his invention of mystery noir and creation of the most human detective in the genre, Philip Marlow. I’ll also assume you don’t need the full story, just enough tease to make you want to find out for yourself.

At the age of 54 the Great Depression took his job as an oil exec. (What a wasted life that would have been.) He published his first short story a year later, and his first novel 7 years after his life change.

The Big Sleep.


The Big Sleep.

Yes, I’m shouting.

Writers and readers and lovers of the mystery genre will live in its shadow eternally. It is a universe unto itself.

The first paragraph annihilates all the foreshadowing of Poe (inventor of the mystery story) and Hammett (creator of Sam Spade, author of The Maltest Falcon which is the greatest mystery film ever made.)

Approach this with an open mind. Let the words be what they are and not what you expect. And hear the voice of Philip Marlowe, a man who sees the darkness around him and knows irrevocably his duty to bring light.

It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

Try reading that aloud and not sounding like the wise-cracking tough guy from the movies. This is that guy, the original.

Look at what meaning he conveys in a paragraph full of non-meaning: a man who shares that much about his clothing is clearly a careless dresser. A man who announces he’s sober, well, if that’s news, we know one more thing about him. And a man who says he doesn’t care who knows it — this is a man who feels the weight of society’s disapproval and wishes he didn’t.

In fact, he shares precisely two facts of any value in that paragraph:

  1. he’s a private detective; and
  2. his client is wealthy.

You will never once care that it is October or that it’s a gloomy rainy day, although Chandler is brilliant at giving us enough environment to let our unconscious put us there with Marlowe. We may or may not see the black wool socks with blue clocks on them again. We will not care, either way (though Marlowe’s attire is at least a hint of the time period.)

Whether you care about mysteries or not, The Big Sleep is an important book and should be read by any writer of fiction.

I had some fun with it at my personal site.

A Second Chance for First Impressions

We all know the cliché: “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Opinions formed during the first moments of a relationship are usually long-lasting. This leads to all sorts of social manipulation to make a good impression: dressing your best, smiling a lot, leaning forward in your chair, all that stuff the job-hunting websites write about.

Recent science teaches us that’s less effective than the advice your mom always used to give you: “Just relax and be yourself!”

Why do first impressions matter? Do we have any control over them?

surprise: not the best first impression
Continue reading “A Second Chance for First Impressions”