Facts Vs. Fancy Vs. Freaky

Facts Vs. Fancy Vs. Freaky

As writers, we are all marketeers (without mouse ears.) Social media is an important venue for us and Facebook is perhaps the most significant of these venues. I’ve been watching closely to the posts that have come across FB in recent months. Many have been sketchy, others clearly false, and some downright scary.

Note: We’ve all received emails to take advantage of an offer from, as an example, Amazon@Susie.com, right?  Need I say more?

FB recently posted the following tips on how to determine which posts are, indeed, false news. I thought this was a small step in the right direction. For my blog, I decided to list these in case you’ve missed them.  So here, in Facebook’s own words are tips to spot false news:

  1. Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
  2. Look closely at the URL. A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.
  3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
  5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
  6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
  7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
  1. Some stories are intentionally false.Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

Please share your own experiences.  Ideas always welcome.

So Many Authors

So Many Authors

Writing a good book is the first step. The most important one.

Publishing is second.  Marketing, third.

I’ve read books on Indie marketing and ideas range from developing a top-notch website, creating YouTubes, or audiobooks, and taking advantage of free social media, or paying for advertising, both digital and in print. So far, I’ve got a really good website. No YouTubes or audiobooks, yet. I use social media a great deal, but not paid advertising.

What I did do, however, on one of my books, was write a press release. But I didn’t write the release about my book per se. I took a concept from my book and capitalized on that. I found a “hook,” that I thought would be of interest to a wide audience.

DEADLY PROVENANCE is about the Nazi confiscation of art and a missing Van Gogh painting. It is actually still missing so I decided to go on a hunt for it. Seemed like a good angle: “Mystery Writer on Hunt for Missing Van Gogh.” Now what?

I created a press release, weaving my book concept into this “hook” so it didn’t appear to be just a “buy my book” message.

Now, what do I do with it? I can send it to local papers and news stations. Not too hard. Find the feature editors, senior editors, etc. But what about a more widespread release? Throughout the city, state, country?

I investigated some marketing companies. I found one called PRWeb.com and decided to go with them. For under $500, they helped me tune up my release, target my audience, and release it on a certain date to many thousands of publications around the country. They also followed up with analytics to show who picked it up, how many hits, impressions, interactives (forwards, prints, etc.) took place.

How did I do? I was somewhat disappointed in the results. Most of the sites that picked up the story were online journals and digital newsletters. Certainly not the New York Times. A couple of biggies did pick it up: Miami Herald and the Boston Globe. But when I clicked on the sites and tried to find the article, they didn’t show up. Hmmm. Using Google and Google Alerts, I tried to find who picked up my press release. Still not a clear picture. Maybe I’m just tech-challenged.

My next step was to take the release and blast it to local press avenues. There I had more success. I snagged a radio interview at KPBS and astoundingly, landed on the front page of the San Diego Union Tribune. Terrific story by an excellent columnist who took my press release, interviewed me and then wrote his own article. I was flying high. Although anyone who knows San Diego’s U/T would probably laugh.

Then it was over. In one day, I was no longer a cover story. I was back to being one author amongst many. What now? Peddle the press release along with my one day of fame, to new sites or repeat sites? Write a new press release? Or do I hire a publicist who knows the appropriate next steps?”
At this point, I have focused on writing the best books I could: delving into the research, creating new plots and interesting characters, and using social media to market. I’m not a New York Times bestselling author yet, but I’ve done pretty well. More important–I’ve enjoyed the entire process!

Ideas welcome!