Sex, drugs, rock and roll; (and cute cat pictures.)

It was Samuel Johnson who said “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”
He also said “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” and I have tried to follow his guidance in this matter.
I once got the job of writing up the annual article in one local paper on what the local authorities in the county had been doing in the way of development within the county. A topic so tedious and worthy that they always hired in a freelancer to do it. I wasn’t complaining, it fed us for a fortnight. Two thirds of the way through I dropped in a couple of dry asides on the general tedium of the subject and the sorry nature of the freelancer’s lot. I got an email from the editor, who proudly announced he’d noticed them and after mature consideration had left them in.
But now where does the hack writer turn for gainful employment, where will his work be most sought after? Just look on Facebook at some of the beautifully scripted stuff which circulates.
Imagine, you’re running a charity that wants to raise its profile but cannot afford to hire a firm of chuggers to mug their way into the newspaper headlines? Then hire a decent writer to produce for you the sort of story that will beguile the tears from the most stony hearted and you’re half way there.
But only half way; we’ve become far more ‘visually orientated’ than our parents generation. Now there has to be pictures as well.
Currently like a lot of people who blog I’m trying to sell something. I’m not too fussed about pushing a political philosophy or this weeks ‘must have’ brand of cosmetics, I’m just trying to sell my books.
But there are millions of blogs and books out there. Everyone and their dog are at it, and thanks to Facebook the dog’s probably got the edge provided he can get someone else to take the pictures.
So we wannabe celebrated authors have to be really tricksie. We’ve got to somehow grab your attention and to lure you in, to get you to at least look at the stuff we’re trying to sell.
Now then, the web is a wonderful tool for collecting feedback. Not only do I know what blog posts I’ve written, WordPress will tell me how many people read each blog and even what countries my readers come from. What is interesting is the difference between what I think is good and what people actually hunt down and read. So I may stick a post up on my blog and think to myself as I do so, “Now that’s a nice piece of work” only to discover that it’s read by a mere handful of people.
Just for the record the best read piece was ‘Horse Burgers and Hypocrisy.’ It was followed very closely and will doubtless be overtaken by ‘Marks and Spencer knicker adverts.’ It has to be said that ‘Four lesbians in a fast car’ is also climbing the charts steadily. Yet ‘A traveller in search of the exotic,’ which I thought rather good; is pretty well nowhere.
Yep, we want sex, drugs and ‘rock and roll’.

When the process of telling the world about the forthcoming release of the latest book, Justice 4.1
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-4-1-Tsarina-Sector-Webster/dp/1908208236/

got serious the book got its own page on Facebook. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/TsarinaSector?ref=hl if you’re interested. In fact if you want to click the ‘like’ button while you’re there feel free, it gives me a transitory moment of pleasure and costs nothing.

But there’s no point in having a page with nothing on it, so the page has to be kept ‘new’ and ‘interesting’ so I’ve got to keep posting stuff. Of course this is on the web and therefore I get stats. I know how many people look at each post.
And what do I discover? That if the post is just words, a handful of people look at it, but if I include a picture, then the number of people who look at it increases massively. So I’m no mug, I need pictures.
Yet here we hit a problem. Tsarina is a long way away and in our future. Haldar Drom is an obliging sort of chap but even he struggles to get the pictures back through space and time. So what to do? Given that one underlying theme of the book is piracy; there is a certain irony that I’ve taken to ransacking the web for pictures to help promote the book.

To an extent there are openings here for us to help each other. Artists who have work that is sort of suitable and don’t mind it being hijacked (and credited) can get themselves more widely known and shared as they get incidentally promoted by the author, whose book is also incidentally promoted by the artist. We could take this sort of thing further. In Justice 4.1 I mention in passing the sultry chanteuse, Dwine Tillanvor and the song she made famous, ‘Dreams of Ancient Earth.’ If we have a chanteuse out there willing to sing such a song I’m not too proud to promote her video. Indeed I’m probably not too proud to edit the manuscript and change the name of the song.

One thing Facebook has taught me is that as a society we’ve moved beyond being happy to just read the words. We demand the titillation of pictures to attract our attention. What am I doing about it?
Well I’ve finally managed to work in a ‘cute cat’ picture as well. Shame? Me? In this matter I have none……….

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12 thoughts on “Sex, drugs, rock and roll; (and cute cat pictures.)

  1. willmacmillanjones October 25, 2013 at 11:30 am Reply

    Jim,

    your wise words have affected me indescribably. So I won’t bother describing.. Just copy your lead in adding pics myself in future

    • jwebster2 October 25, 2013 at 11:38 am Reply

      ‘cute cat pictures’

      Because you know it makes sense. 🙂

  2. M T McGuire October 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm Reply

    Hmm… I really should post something on my blog. Some cute pictures, perhaps. Actually, it says something that the thing I do that gets the most hits is an urban art board on pinterest.

    As for pictures… it’s obvious really. On a facebook timeline, pictures are big and text on its own doesn’t really show when it’s next to a whole load of pictures of cute cats. So there you go.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • jwebster2 October 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm Reply

      I think we’re getting to the stage where pictures are obligatory, certainly for facebook. My problem is that it’s awfully tricky to produce my own relevant pictures and I’m forced to resort to piracy 🙂 I suppose having a camera of some sort might sort of show willing but I’ve never got round to it.

      • M T McGuire October 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm

        I just produce pictures that aren’t relevant, or write about things I have pictures of!

        Cheers

        MTM

      • jwebster2 October 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        I’ve certainly found pictures and decided they had to be used. I ran with the idea of Tsarina and Interpretive Dance because I knew I could find a picture somewhere, the fact it was a cute cat was just the jam on the gingerbread. Actually there was a cute squirrel as well, but I felt ‘cute cat’ made a better blog post 🙂

  3. David Hadley (@DavidHadley) October 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm Reply

    I usually lob a picture in at the start of my blog posts. I’ve been doing it quite a while now and I was thinking about dropping them because at times it takes longer to find the pic than to write the piece.

    You may have made me change my mind about that, though.

    I get the suspicion that a lot of those hit stats I get are no more than other bloggers hunting for pictures they can copy to use for their posts.

    • jwebster2 October 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm Reply

      Frantically looking through my archive, I don’t think I’ve got any David.
      I’m not sure that the blog needs pictures, because people have opened the blog by the time they see the picture and by that time they might as well read.
      Saying that, it’s good if your blog has a good header to show up on Facebook when you post the link.
      But on facebook I think pictures are pretty near compulsory now

  4. Keir Arts October 28, 2013 at 8:25 am Reply

    Moving on to sci-fi now eh Jim? I need to get back into writing. Have a lengthy thing i’m bashing out on the Film fest I went to at the start of the month. Just need to stop pulling so many hours at the Supermarket. Only a week in and i’m beginning to wish I’d kept up with self employment. The idea WAS to do the part time stuff and work Amazon the rest of the time but I keep getting asked to work a few extra hours here and there. As a result 21 hours this weekend alone! Still the money will be nice. That said i’ve already polished my CV and covering letter and the job sites are still on my bookmarks 😉

    Facebook is a great idea. Don’t just ask people to ‘like’ get them to invite their friends, I’ve just invited my entire facebook friends list, hopefully a few of them at least will do the same and voila your viral.

    Thinking of re-starting on the adventures of Titus Strang. Think I need to do some serious world building first. Inspired by Robert E. Howard who wrote an entire history of his created world to assist his writing. Hopefully I’ll be able to at least settle into a pattern at work and write around it.

    • jwebster2 October 28, 2013 at 8:43 am Reply

      Hi Keir
      Facebook is a tool, it’s good for somethings and pathetic for others. I think you can keep in touch using it, you can probably spread ideas using it, but frankly I don’t think you can change the world using it because it drifts off into becoming a displacement activity, rant rather than act. (But that’s the subject of another blog).
      Viral is the dream, especially if you’re the writer 🙂 Other than that I’ve a cunning plan about your world creation but I’ll see you Tuesday over that 🙂

  5. David Hadley (@DavidHadley) October 28, 2013 at 10:23 am Reply

    If you look for pics using Google image search, you get the pictures without having to visit the blog as such.

    I’m sure that must account for a fair few clicks – at least the disparity between the overall numbers said to visit my blog and those actually reading the articles.

    For Farcebook & G+ it seems images are more significant than words. I suppose that is because people – I presume – just scroll through the timeline rarely bothering to click the links to longer pieces.

    I’m thinking of doing far more pieces illustrated with lolcat pictures.

  6. jwebster2 October 28, 2013 at 10:34 am Reply

    I think you’re right, in that we need a picture to get people to stop and actually read the words. I’ve tried to link things to stuff I can measure and I think once you’ve got them stopped, they do actually read, or at least a high proportion of them do

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