Online Promotions

ImageOf all posts about self-published work or goods and services for sale, only those with a fan base make the cut.

What about newbies to the online self-publishing trade? Does successful online promotion follow two principles: quantity and noise?
Quality seems to be individually judged with time, gradually, via recurrent posts to a growing audience that relates to the work and gains something from it.

‘Shock ‘n scandal’ or ‘Misleading’ methods are a dime a dozen… the sort of tool I’d sooner cut my ankles than use.

What other online promotion methods or tools (bar money) are there for self-published authors/artists?

I’m hearing good old word of mouth (inc reviews) is a good way forward and apparently the Amazon algorithms are a total must for Amazon Kindle publishers. Does anyone know where I could find the Amazon algorithm output for an eBook on Amazon?

P.P. (Post Postum): I’ve had a few queries about the images I use. They’re paintings in the public domain which can be found at wikipaintings.org. The Art Nouveau engraving in this post is entitled ‘Woman in a Bookshop’, by Aubrey Beardsley.

MarmVlade™ Inc

Gniamo!
I published the first version of this humour short story entitled ‘MarmVlade™ Inc.’via Amazon in December 2013 and as expected, the internet didn’t fail to surprise.

With a little more experience I am ready to dip more than my toe in the self-publishing world. Below is a description of what is now the final version of this story and further down are the links to the worldwide Amazon sites selling it.

A second eBook is in the making that will cruise these seas with greater resolve. Any feedback that you aged self-publishers have would be much appreciated.

‘MarmVlade’ is the flagship product of the obscurely named ‘MarmVlade™ Inc.’, a successful multinational whose business is sugar in all its forms (mostly refined). The company devises a marketing campaign to expand its customer base in competition with ‘Jams&Spreads™ Ltd.’; a rival company whose luck is proportional to the business acumen and savoir-faire of “MarmVlade’s” directorship and staff. Under a perpetual sugar rush, our protagonists deal with the side effects of customer loyalty and frenzied insulin to apparently not so great effect.

This humorous novelette (not even) was written in a screenplay format with no other moral objective than to entertain the author and her readers. Despite the humorous and surreal imagery, I do hope this début eBook will bring as much enjoyment to you, dear reader, as it did to me,

Yours digitally,
Alejandra M. A. Vergara

For Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.de
http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.fr
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.es
http://www.amazon.es/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.it
http://www.amazon.it/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.co.jp
http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.com.br
http://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.ca
http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.in
http://www.amazon.in/dp/B00F5BW7D2

For Amazon.com.au
http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00F5BW7D2

Free Will or Predeterminism?

fancy-freeI’ve placed my bet, I’ve made my choice.

The question is itself a testimony of free will. It exemplifies our ability to ask questions, examine choices, make decisions and take action; thereby making us accountable for the cause and effect of the choices we make.

In the absence of absolute proof that there is an omnipotent being who predetermined everything; in the absence of absolute proof that we are but an atom in the tight weave of an Unity that expands and regroups itself cyclically; and/or, in the absence of substantial reading to over complicate the topic, we can only go by what we can be certain of.

That is, that we are fully responsible for our actions and that whatever happens onto us only alters the choices we are able to make moving forward.

Choosing freewill over fatalism was liberating.

Fatalism seems to me to be a detached and far too comfortable approach to life. It’s almost the diabolus* of the non-believing mind. The logic onto which blame (own or otherwise) can be diverted in order to attain happiness.

Our capacity to use tools and lay blame elsewhere defines us… If only we could do so wisely.

*The ‘thrown across’.

Gloriously Emotive

the-trappistine-1897         I’m sitting at The Ivy (all expenses paid by a soul I love more than my own) waiting (for the aforementioned soul to finish gracing Westminster’s sewers) and reflecting on human emotions and where they’re at their most observable. I’ve read somewhere, probably Grazia or Vogue or such other vapid advert runway, that human urges are truly at their most observable in restaurants. At this particular one, demonstrable appetites seem to have entered a ‘no-go’ zone. The plates are adorned with something that looks nowhere as nourishing as the price tag implied, almost barely the sapped essence of what we ordered. To observe an urge here would be to witness the paranormal, acknowledge ghosts exist and could be desired by size zero’s. What is observable in restaurants, workplaces (and everywhere else you’re thinking of) isn’t ‘urges’ at their purest, it’s constant ‘authored restraint’: That is: *Disguised emotions that imply urges without disturbing the immediate vicinity with emotional sound-waves that could incur attentions other than the calculated ones.* With enough practice the Pantone swatch of expressions we use to display ‘moderation’ and ‘self-possession’ becomes easier to browse through and identify. Consciously or otherwise. Good Emotional Intelligence and Body Language courses beyond what you’ll find in mainstream catalogues will push you to identify what informs the gestures or expressions we ourselves choose to use. Having attended those courses, and knowing the theory and consequences, I still opt for unrestrained everything. I am not doing the moment or my sweet company justice by authoring emotions. I want my life to reflect me at my raw-est. The dubious minds among you, dear readers, will equate this to ‘wearing one’s heart up one’s sleeve’; an ‘easy target’, ‘asking for it’. To those, all I can say is: ‘Get your face off my elbow so I can put it back in my sleeve.’ Transparent emotions don’t make victims, they make walking curses of those that try to bruise their bearers. More importantly, they make fulfilling lives for those that enjoy experiencing them.

Psychology & Behavioural Economics

Nugget post:
My interest is growing for Psychology and Behavioural Economics. I have always been interested in Demographics but my background being Finance a crucial aspect was missing.

I was surprised by the revelation that, despite the enormity of both these subjects, what informs them and the people that theorise them, is the day-to-day thoughts and interactions WE RARELY ACKNOWLEDGE OUT LOUD.

Whether you are relating to friends, colleagues at a meeting, a partner or a person you have a crush on, the – sometimes subtle – thoughts that run through your head will strongly determine the progress and outcome of those relationships.

From “I can feel something in my nostril, let me stop this conversation and do a mirror check.” to “He left because I was boring and my breath stinks.” every one of those thoughts and focus-deviating ideas are routed in bigger mind matters such as, a past event that made us insecure or society’s take on “dumb” blond people.

Add all those countless interactions together, for each individual in any location, and you have an economy that thrives proportionally to HOW OPEN IT IS TO PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING.

I was hoping the capitals would help emphasize what I mean but I can now see they only make the post look ugly. Anyway,… ampler observations on the topics above are on their way. Thanks for reading : ).

Psychology: The Currency of Affection

Thought of the day, Sunday 24/11/2013. Like a soup but with words.
Most accept that someone’s affection can be bought with any such currencies as time, money, dieting or even a life.

The fact is that affection has freewill and that, inevitably, chaos ensues once any attempt is made at giving affection a value. A heart-rending truth is that once someone’s attention becomes overvalued, he or she will naturally not choose to deter others from giving away their time and money in return for it.

More wretched still is that faking affection for a price has now long become a fully fledged business model, following strong public demand.

This poignant documentary debates just that: is faking affection an acceptable business model? By return: is the celebrity culture any different?

The documentary leaves the door open to much more complex and involved debate around the age old question: is a business’ T&Cs fine print acceptable if it doesn’t require acknowledgement of the devastating implications of inflated attachment?

In Investment Finance, declaring risks is a big party pooper but one that financial regulators finally recognised as being crucial to maintaining healthy economies. Should the same be done to business models revolving around crucial life goals such as affection and self-worth?

EDIT: thanks for the tip :)! There is indeed a form to fill in! See:

Atheism aimed too high

This short “Thought of the Day” post presents a personal opinion on atheism and proposes opening a debate on the same. It is informed by personal experience resulting from an exploration of different faiths this past decade.

A Roman Catholic since I was a foetus, I rebelled by exploring spiritism, wicca, agnosticism and atheism in what I now know to be a search for the meaning of Life in the wrong place: others.

As a re-re-re-converted Roman Catholic version 4.1, I oftentimes reflect on past choices. Here’s a reflection on atheism.

Atheism aimed (what I think is a poorly constructed ideology) mostly against God and the hierarchy of the Church, lead by a Messiah. Atheism doesn’t exist as a faith in its own right but as an antagonistic belief that automatically opposes all divine, supernatural figures and their related rites. It also forgot that all organised society, and most of us in it, need role models and life advice. These are the reasons why I think atheism will never be valid to anyone beyond those seeking attention, social dissociation and recognition from self-appointed “analytical, down-to-earth minds” that curiously assume the same status and burdens that Church leaders have.

The trait that gives atheism away as a “rebellion without cause” is its failure to consider the great mysteries that are human conflict and context. Internal and environmental. Atheism failed to address the critical and humane needs to assert identity and answer existential questions. A topic that C. G. Jung explored in depth.

To live without wondering where everything originates from is to lead a half-life in my opinion.

Admittedly, it could be argued against the above that atheism does attempt to fill the existential void by turning to a divine figure that jealously guards all the answers to existence: science. A figure that will be channelled in due course by a saviour figure in lab robes and thick glasses.

I considered this (in more serious and unbiased terms) but it didn’t do much to amend my view of atheism’s purpose. Science to me is a tool, a methodology, nothing more.

Maybe this personal bias makes it difficult for me to accept (again) that there is any validity in the anthropocentric belief that is atheism. I’d need some reading or ideas on that and any reader’s feedback might help too : ). Please rate, comment, share much appreciated.

When Life gives you a shovel full of dirt…

I love this little story, almost out of Aesop’s tales…

A Lesson From a Donkey
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping. Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less from people and more from the world and environment that surrounds you. The Oneness we belong into is ever-loving and full of possibility.

“Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to use the imperfections.”

Language as a Virus

A quick, yet rare thought with great potential: can language be compared to a viral infection?

I had this flashing thought this morning during breakfast by which I visualised language as a viral system evolving through contagion and repetition.

I have been researching viruses for another ebook I’m hoping to Kindle publish before I die and, I tell you… EVERYTHING on Earth that has some evolving to do behaves as if following the basic survival system viruses “use” (viruses being inert “beings”).

Language, through it’s DNA components (words) seems to behave like a virus: expressions are received by the host and modified through the host’s cognitive system at that particular time; the resulting mutation spreads via oral or written means and either maintains its meaning or changes it.

Adaptability is a key factor for rating word strenght (commonality). The longer an expression “survives” under the same meaning, the most likely it is to remain there for ever under the same semantic conditions. Also, the more meaning an expression or word can be attributed, the more it will be used and thus spread.

I have a few examples if you care for me to elaborate but I would also love to read your thoughts on this.

By the way… how has my thought evolved in your brain? Will this thought spread and perdure or evolve into something else or be completely erradicated…?

Approval

As an avid Twitter user I get to read what the public write to popular figures. Sadly a lot more entertaining than reading about technological breakthroughs or share prices…

Anyway, I was surprised to see that Hollywood starlets get less disapproval than some relatively known english ones (including those people associated with them).

The cause of it seems to be the respect they all show their audiences and in particular their fans. Nothing puts readers off more than covert puns and insults towards people that pluck up the courage to write to them.

Both on screen and via social media, their organisational culture filters through into every word they print in response to their followers.

At the workplace and outside of it, unpleasantness from an authority figure breeds mistrust and eventually costs money.

Just a thought.

Typos

2nd thought of the day: 11 Nov 2013

Don’t you wish the posts we edit online would also update the text in the WordPress emails to subscribers? What do you do to avoid missed typos, do you have someone else proof read your drafts?

By now you know I edit my posts to oblivion, after, I publish the “final edit” of any post!

Apols for the typos in my previous posts… Particularly the ones in the first and last lines of today’s 1st “Thought”… Yes, I know.

Luck

When anyone in developed economies talks about “luck”, you know they’re about to tell you what you want to hear. Either as “you will receive what you want” or “Luck is what you get when you change your mindset”… both are as exploitative as they are deluded.

There’s no such thing as “luck” as there are “circumstances”. The more we broaden our horizon, the better we’ll understand what is, naturally, a good situation to be in, and its range of associated risks. That range is what gives us an idea of what we could expect (at various likelyhood degrees) and, only an idea, of how ready we might be to deal with it.

The concept of First World “luck” is a narrow-minded generalisation that middle to upper class, comfortably self-sufficient and indulgent (let’s call them) greeks, like to charge ticket or book money to discuss.

I hoped never to write this but this isn’t the time to look “closer to home” to make life decisions. “Luck” is an obsolete word when Employment and Quality of Life indicators are shifting and varying so drastically, internationally.

Anyone that tries to SELL us the concept of luck is simply looking out for himself.

This is a thought nugget post that tells you the harsh reality that “feeling lucky” and “alternative perspectives on life” will never be antidotes to random, uncontrollable events. Teaching how to be materialy ready to face these extreme eventualities would be a much kinder approach.

Entertainment

Thought of the day: 10 Nov 2013

Today I’m picking up the topic of entertainment.

“It is such a modern contradiction to be in the business of providing unrealistic illusions to the tune of very real, and discriminating, remuneration targets.”

Long gone are the days of the bard that lived off his freedom and chose his content and lifestyle. Today, they either fall in line or out of the limelight.

Retirement savings: Guideline targets to aspire to for a comfortable retirement.

3

In their early 30s, most First-World citizens should have at least the amount of a full year’s income saved towards retirement. If not, then it’s time to start saving… at a suggested rate of circa 30% of annual income, no less.

The goal is to have the equivalent of circa 11 times the average annual income in a pension fund, or similar, by the time retirement kicks in. Only under 15s won’t panic at the thought – if the thought crosses their minds at all – but they are the age group best placed to start acting on it.

Under 15s can more easily secure comfortable retirement lifestyles if they save about 8% of their annual income throughout their lives. Beginning with circa 6%-8% of their normal living expenses in their teens (excluding savings towards education). After that, the later anyone begins saving, the higher the required amount per year will be.

As retirement grows closer, the contribution a bank pays all clients for keeping their savings with them (i.e.: the account’s interest) contributes less (i.e.: does not compound over many years); risk of financial loss is higher and sudden healthcare costs are at their most likely. Hence, the longer the wait to begin saving, the more a person will have to make an effort to offset risks and meet the lifestyle requirements they are accustomed to.

The Graph
The graph is an indication of what anyone should ideally save per year if they have yet to start a pension or retirement savings account. Find an age group and marvel at the recommended annual savings percentage…

100% of income means “as much of what is earned as can be spared should go into a retirement fund”.

The Opinion
Most of today’s Higher Education students are drowning in debt, many will have children under their care as well. Some will be marrying only to divorce too soon and see their purchasing power dissolve… I realise many of them believe life is for living it without care. I couldn’t disagree more.

There is no feasible way of enjoying life at any age without planning ahead. There will always be a difficult effort to make, or something to let go of, to meet a desired lifestyle. For the mayority of us anyway and because resources are scarce. More so as competition increases with population growth and global demand.

The economy changes, as does an individual’s life yet, considering this is only a guide, I found it to be fairly accurate. Estimate you annual living expenses and soon you’ll see why these percentages do work for First-World lifestyles.

Some reading:

http://business.time.com/2012/09/28/what-savings-rate-you-need-when-starting-at-age-15-25-35-and-50/

http://business.time.com/2012/09/21/what-you-should-save-by-35-45-and-55-to-be-on-target/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidmarotta/2012/09/24/how-much-should-i-save-toward-retirement-if-im-starting-late/2/

Some retirement calculators:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/03/26/how-much-do-you-need-to-save-for-retirement/

Costs of raising kids? Plan ahead:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/21/child-care-costs-compared-britain

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/oct/26/maximise-returns-childrens-savings-account