Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Some Thoughts on Reading and Social/Technological Change


There is no doubt that the last two decades have seen some remarkable changes in how reading can be done; and, folks seem to want to draw broad generalizations and cite suspicious surveys and “studies” to support some fairly radical ideas about what all us readers are doing… 

Modern Reading

Image Courtesy of Horton Web Design ~ http://www.HortonGroup.com

There was an article on Digital Book World a few months ago that related some common (but possibly false) reflections on readers—it’s title is How Are Books Changing?

Here are some of the comments I can’t agree with completely:

“The act of reading for pleasure is often considered just another activity—and perhaps a boring one at that—up there with watching a TV show, listening to a podcast or sending endless texts.”

“It’s clear that reading does not hold the overall importance in today’s society that it did for previous generations.”

“…for many, the way we’re reading books has undeniably changed…”

And, one comment in particular seems to me to need some deep fact-checking:

“Not as many people read as before, and for many people who do in fact read, they have neither the desire nor the time to read something lengthy, or to waste any time reading a book they may ultimately put down unfinished.”

The only other thing I’ll say about that article is that a number of the comments folks left are illuminating

Since I’ve been spending so much time over on Wattpad, I wonder if folks like the author of that article are paying attention to the Wattpad phenomenon

Here are a few stats:

“Wattpad’s monthly audience is 45 million.”

“The Wattpad community collectively spends an incredible 15 billion minutes each month using Wattpad.”

“There have been over 200 million story uploads.”

“Wattpad is available in over 50 languages.”

By the way, that 15 billion minutes/month of use equals 250 million hours; and, that’s about 8 million hours per day

So, that’s at least one place there’s a huge amount of reading going on (and, none of the users have to pay a penny for the service…)

And, if you just don’t have enough book recommendations in your life, here are 6 YouTube channels where some varied folk give varied recommendations ( and, other bookish ideas and activities, none of which I can vouch for :-)

1. climbthestacks

2. PolandBananasBooks

3. jessethereader

4. Jen Campbell

5. padfootandprongs07

6. Jellafy

Happy Reading :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

How to Write an Excellent Book


Today’s re-blog is Simplicity itself :-)

Live to Write - Write to Live

Quick post today because some of the best advice is often short and sweet.

Last week I had the opportunity to see best selling author Joe Hill at our local Barnes & Noble. We were treated to a reading, a sing-along (complete with kazoos), and an open discussion/question session. It was truly a delightful and informative evening.

Note: if you ever have the opportunity to see a visiting author, please grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it.

During the discussion/question period a young girl in the back row raised her hand. “How is it that you can always write so excellently?” she asked.

Joe thought and then replied. “The answer to that question is that I don’t write excellently. My strategy is to write one good sentence and then follow that up with another good sentence and then another one. Pretty soon I have a whole pile of…

View original post 109 more words

Is #SocialMedia Really Good for #BookPromotion?


I’ve certainly gone out of my way over the last 5 years to figure out what might be called “Rational-Book-Promotion”

If I’d done every technique that’s been touted to give me millions of paying customers, I’d be dead from overwork—and I may not have any more sales than I do now

Plus, I’m a firm believer in giving my book away (as well as offering it for sale)—many are the folk who can get on-line but not buy stuff

One of the most rational posts I’ve done about advice for writers is Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers.

And, one of the most honest posts I’ve done about book promotion is Authentic Book Promotion ~ Does It Sell?

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“There are many things an author can do to increase the likelihood that their book will sell.

“None of those actions will guarantee sales…

“Some writers think landing a traditional publishing deal will assure book sales.

“Not so…

“Perhaps, if you’re an extremely famous person, your book will sell—perhaps…”

And, one of the most penetrating posts I’ve done about authors and social media is Selling Your Soul With Social Media.

I quote a writer named Leo Babauta:

“Converting visitors into buyers is a soul-less use of your creative energy. Reject it, out of hand.”

“I find more value in creating something of value. I find influence a better metric than sales or traffic or reader numbers.”

“When everyone yells ‘Look at me!’, become quiet.”

“When others try to pull visitors to their sites, let people find you themselves.”

“When others brag of their success, let others laud you instead.”

Advice like that may take longer to “work” but the results will be solid and sound, you will still be yourself, and your conscience will be clear

Plus, concerning social media, it may not have the impact so many “experts” claim it does.

I direct you to an article entitled Majority of Links on Social Media are being Shared Without Users Actually Reading Them.

It deals with a study by Columbia University and the French National Institute.

The study is about sharing links to news stories; but, personally, I feel, if a user shares news links without reading what’s linked to; and, the practice is widespread; we might be able to get a hint about what folks who share writer’s links are doing, too

So, one finding from the study is that:

“…only two out of five people will click through and read the story from links on social media.

“The other three will share the story to their friends and followers without having ever read the story.”

One of the study’s co-authors said:

“This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

So, if this study was well-conducted with a significant base of data; and, if we can assume the activities portrayed actually do apply to social media links from writers, what kind of method is there for writers to generate a following (that doesn’t cost more than an internet connection and some time) that can be done rationally, sanely, and productively?

If you’re really serious about “getting the word out”, go read all my posts about Wattpad; then, give it an honest try—I’d say, about 5 months should show you what I’m talking about………

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

The Passionate Writer–No Really!


Today’s re-blog is writing prompt heaven :-)

Live to Write - Write to Live

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling lately. I work in theater (I run a service organization for the New England theater community called StageSource), so I spend a lot of time in the theater, seeing different plays. Sometimes I see a play I know well, done differently. Most times I am told a familiar story, one that fits my familiar and comfortable narrative lens. Sometimes I have my mind blown. But it is all storytelling.

I am also working on Book #3 in my mystery series, wrapping up some narrative arcs that are threaded through the entire series while telling readers a new story with the same characters. I’m adding books to my TBR (To Be Read) pile at an alarming rate, grateful to be traveling a lot in the coming months so I can catch up on my reading.

I am also collecting stories for future use.

View original post 593 more words

Further #Education for #Writers ( and, anyone else… :-)


I’ve done three past posts about free education… 

MIT Admissions

MIT Admissions Building

And, even though I’d hesitate to recommend a writer take a “creative writing course“, many writers have need of specific knowledge for many of their stories—like, for instance, how a gunshot wound is treated; or, how a certain drink is mixed; or, why people blush—then, there are the times a writer needs a rather “full” education, like when a character’s profession is crucial to the plot

One of the sources mentioned in those past posts was MIT OpenCourseWare (and, in case you had no reason to know, MIT stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology; but there’s more than tech available—details on that in a moment…).

The physical school is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and MIT has a very interesting history going back to 1846

From their site:

“MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.”

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
~ Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering

“Our audience is divided among students, educators, and self-learners…”

“MIT OpenCourseWare receives over 2 million visits each month. These visits come from all over the world, with over half coming from outside of North America…”

The “technology” in their name does indicate lots of studies in that area; but, there is So Much Morehere are the Department headings—clicking on any of these links will open up that Department’s full list of courses, with all the pertinent information (including the exams with all the answers)—when you decide on the course you want, look at the bottom of the left column of links for “Download Course Materials“, and you’re On Your Way :-)

And, they’re All Free… And, you can take the whole course or only bits of it… And, it’s on Your schedule :-)

SPECIAL NOTE:

If you’re new to all this, what happens when you download a course is you get a ZIP file. When you open, it look for the file (near the bottom of the folder) called “START.htm”—click it and the course opens in your browser…

And, here’s an important note from the ReadMe file:

“This zip package contains the HTML pages and files associated with the course. 
“Some materials – such as videos, java applets, and other special content – are not posted on the OCW server, and are therefore not part of this package. This prevents zip packages from becoming too large for download. To download these resources to your computer, please read this FAQ.”

Extremely Important Note about Textbooks:

While I certainly haven’t checked every course offered by MIT, the three I downloaded showed “required texts” for the courses—in almost all cases, there was either an inexpensive paperback edition or a cheap Kindle e-book; and, there are also many that are linked-to on-line (for no cost)…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com