Getting Your Book into the Library Isn’t Easy

Comic Artist's Photo Reference: People & Poses

People never give much thought to how books make it into a public library. Books just sort of…appear.

As an author, I’ve always tried to make sure my book makes it to library shelves. Sure, I want to sell books, but I also want people to read them. Plus, I am a diehard library rat, so I want my own book on the shelves.

Unfortunately, I write in a deep vertical, specifically non fiction books for people who want to work in the comic book industry. It’s not a book for comic fans or kids. It’s for people who want to improve their craft (in this case writing or drawing comics) and break into the industry as a paid professional.

That’s a pretty narrow audience that lives deep in the long tail. Marketing to the long tail is an art unto itself, but that’s a different blog post.

In this case, I found an old email that I sent to my editor when my first book (Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses) was published. I live in a large suburban town in New Jersey, and I wanted nothing more than to see my book on the shelf at the library. I’ve lived in the town my whole life, so I figured it would be no problem.

Boy was I wrong.
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How to Break WordPress and Destroy Your Blog

WordPress Logo Cracked

I broke WordPress.

Everything was working fine. Let’s get that out there just to start. My blog was not broken, nor did it need any specific adjustments.

But still I said to myself, “today…we optimize!” And that was the beginning of the end…and how I broke WordPress.

I’ve been developing websites for a long time. I got into this business in 1995 and the web was a very different place. There were fewer tools for generating webpages and they were buggy and frustrating to use. Making content online required generating HTML code by hand, which meant you really had to learn it.

I don’t mind monkeying around in the code. Experimenting is good, but you can go too far.

And now, let me give you a tutorial on how you can do exactly what I did to mess up my blog.

You too can break your WordPress installation, cause yourself hours of aggravation, lose productivity, and learn a very, very important lesson.

Ready for some fun? Break out the Rolaids ’cause we’re going to break WordPress! Continue reading

Marketing Obscure Comic Book References

Captain America The First Avenger Movie Poster

Superheroes are back! Well, at the movie theaters at least they are. Love ’em or hate ’em epic comic book battles are generating big buzz and big dollars on the silver screen.

As a marketer, it’s easy to observe the big, obvious things about movies based on comic books. There’s a built-in audience: check. There are usually top stars and/or directing talent: check. There’s usually some impossibly large budget: check. That’s the obvious stuff.

Then there’s the geek stuff. As you may know, I am a big comic fan, so I get into these tiny references that are like catnip for fans. It’s small stuff (and some big stuff) that won’t even register for the average moviegoer. But for the devoted comic fan, it can be pure joy. Continue reading

Viral Videos Can Launch Your Brand

Karmin is having a good year. A really good year. Don’t know who they are? First, check out this video.

This is a talented young duo doing a cover version of a song by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. It’s catchy, fun, and very watchable.

As of this posting, this little video has garnered over 10 million views in less than one month. That’s a lot of views for something that’s being spread word of mouth. Continue reading

Nokia N8 – Two Week Photography Review

Nokia N8 includes a 12 megapixel camera and Ziess lens

For a phone, the Nokia N8 offers an incredibly powerful camera and video package in a smartphone about the same size as an Apple iPhone. And for two weeks, I shot several hundred photos and dozens of videos on the smartphone’s 16 Gb of internal memory.

But let me jump back for a moment. About a month ago, a person named Chris reached out to me from WOMWorld.com and offered me the opportunity to try out the Nokia N8. The Nokia N8 boasts a 12 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, so I jumped at the chance to do a test and review.
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Google Doodles Will Eisner

Google Doodle Will Eisner

Google Doodle Will Eisner

In a pleasant surprise this morning, Google‘s logo was changed to celebrate the birthday of Will Eisner.

For those of you not familiar with the name Will Eisner or the Eisner Awards ceremony, it’s worth noting that Eisner is considered one of the original giants in the comic book industry. He was a prolific and influential comic book writer/artist who pushed the boundaries of the medium.

Eisner is credited with coining the term “graphic novel” as he published one of the first major self-contained, long-form comic book stories. He was the creator of the classic comic “The Spirit,” which still holds up today, unlike many other early comic book stories. Even by today’s modern standards, “The Spirit” is mature and intelligent, both in story and art.

Eisner was a passionate educator, who published multiple books on the topic of creating comic books, including Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative. These books treated comics like a legitimate medium, providing much-needed respect for the craft of sequential art.
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Roku Enables USB Port

Roku USB Port - MainFlipped on the Roku tonight and discovered a new channel. The Roku XDS box had added a channel to enable access to the USB port.

It took a few seconds to add the channel and then another minute or so to download the required software. Plugged in a USB with some media, and that’s all it took.

Navigation is streamlined and intuitive. The Roku interface stresses simplicity over options, so it’s easy for beginners, but maybe a little dull for advanced users.

The Roku doesn’t come with an internal hard drive, so many of the other manufacturers including Western Digital have played up that feature. I’d seen the Boxee and was impressed with the external-media capabilities. So far, for me, that hasn’t really been an issue. I mainly stream NetFlix and a few select channels, but that’s about it.

Even though I doubt I will use the USB port to stream movie files, I wanted to give it a try. The Roku easily displayed the MP4 files, but seemed to choke on the WMV files. Photos saved as JPEGs displayed with no problem, although Roku struggled with the thumbnails.

Roku USB Port - MoviesIn the end, it was a good user experience. Although, I must admit, I had low expectations, since I planned to use the Roku primarily for streaming. I don’t own many downloaded video assets. But new features — especially ones that don’t cost extra — are always welcome.

On a side note, a new channel for the Adam Carolla ACE podcast network also became available on the Roku. I like the podcast for my iPod Touch, but didn’t see the need to add it to my television because it’s only audio.

Roku XDS Week 1

Roku LogoWe’re a week into it with the Roku XDS. Let’s take a moment and review a few of my initial impressions of bringing Internet video into my living room.

NetFlix experience is quite good, but I find myself playing with my Instant Queue almost as much as I watch actual movies. The NetFlix recommendation engine is amazing, and it exposed me to several movies and documentaries that were right on target. Streaming NetFlix through the Roku is a pleasure.

Hulu Plus is definitely attractive, since I am a big fan of well-produced television shows. Something about a serialized story appeals to me in both comics and TV. However, adding another $7.99 monthly subscription on top of the NetFlix sub is going to get expensive fast.  At this point, NetFlix seems to have an adequate collection of TV shows, so I’ll stick with that for a while.

Adding custom channels is pretty easy, so I have updated the Roku XDS with Blip.tv and Revision3. Here the experience is rather uneven. The connection and content are fine, but some of the programming is barely a step above cable access. It’s too bad because I like the idea of watching long-tail TV shows.

That said, I am happy to watch iFanboy on Revision3 much more than I do on my laptop. Big improvement.

NetFlix LogoIt’s worth noting that this whole Roku and NetFlix upgrade traces back to the local movie theater raising prices last year. The ticket price of a first-run movie increased one week from $9 to $11. Just to be clear, I typically went to the movies on a Tuesday and the price increase was on regular 2D films. I can understand the price increase on 3D movies because there are special projectors, glasses, and good stuff like that.

It’s not like I couldn’t afford the $2, but it was kind of annoying that they skipped over $10 and went right to $11. Product pricing and perceived value is certainly a psychological game in every industry. In this case, the price jump bummed me out, and I was in the habit of seeing a new movie just about every week.

But I still need my movie fix…and good luck trying to find a local video rental store. Okay, we have a RedBox near us, but for whatever reason, I just never remember that when I am in movie mode.

So NetFlix on the Roku has filled the void left by regular movie theaters. It’s not quite the same, but the combined depth and variety of their library of movies, TV shows, and other content is truly impressive.

I’m looking forward to exploring more channels on the Roku, just to see what’s available. There are a few premium paid channels, and if the content is good and the price is right, I may give them a try.

Well, one week in and I am pretty happy with the Roku. I haven’t really explored it fully, nor have I tried plugging anything into the USB slot. Check back again for more Roku, NetFlix and other streaming reports.

More good readin’:

Blog Traffic Tip #1 Be Controversial

Blog-Traffic-TipsSo you’re thinking about a blog to promote yourself? Awesome. As your personal self-appointed blog expert, I will offer useful traffic-driving tips (that I may or may not use myself).

First: Content is king. Wow, I know, deep. But it was true when we used to slay trees to share information, and it’s true now. If you have the right content, people want to read, see, experience it.

So if you’re planning your blog, you may be interested in:

Blog Traffic Tip #1: Be Controversial
So, you want traffic, but you don’t want to resort to posting naughty pictures of celebrities. Fine, me neither. So today’s blog traffic tip is to Be Controversial. Stir the pot. Give ’em somethin’ to talk about.

Example: Kurt Sutter is a successful Hollywood producer who worked on The Shield and is the creator of Sons of Anarchy. The guy is credible. So when he talks, people listen.

Boy does he talk. His blog SutterInk is an eye opener, especially when you consider Sutter is talking about people who pay (or may someday pay) his salary. It’s a bare-knuckled critique of the television industry. Even for people not working in Hollywood, it is a startlingly brutal blog.

And, if you just judge it by comments, people read Sutter’s blog. A lot. His recent blog post “NBC’s Act of Contrition” has already netted 65+ posts in under two days.

I loved the Shield, and now I plan to check out Sons of Anarchy. Yes, because of Sutter’s blog, I want to see what kind of television this guy produces.

So…back to Tip #1. If you want to drive traffic to your website, consider a little bit of controversy. Note: it may help if you already have a good contract and a few Emmys to back up your talent. If you’re just a regular shlub, you could end up unemployed. Blog about that.

Facebook Status Off Video

Y’know, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. This video captures the geeky goodness of our obsession with Facebook status updates.

Lots of us in this age online celebrity are obsessed with self-marketing and Brand You to the point of silliness.  I’m certainly guilty of trying too hard to be entertaining in my posts.

Anyway, watch this little viral video and have a laugh.

Of course, I’ll be posting this video to Twitter and Facebook.