Mar 062015

I’ve entitled the piece. Now we’ll see if I can live up to that number! The subject is the contest I described at February 2015 Book-a-Day-Giveaway.

  1. There should be a set of rules that are linked to on every page temporarily set up for the contest. The rules on this one were described as:

And how do you get your name entered? You share this post to get the book designated for that day. That’s all. You can do it from this page to any social media or from the Silver Boomer Books Facebook page. We have to have at least ten shares to have a valid day’s contest, but if we need more time we’ll extend that day’s contest until we do.

Several of the things I have to say in the lessons learned below would enhance that, but it should look like contest rules. Not everybody is as willing as I am to play by ear as you go. That last phrase that we would hold the contest open until we had ten shares was a later, an addition after several of the early days lacked ten shares.

  1. The shares should be public. When a person who is not my Facebook Friend shares a link, I’m likely not to catch that, and that gets embarrassing, necessitating “Mia Culpa” drawings when I find out. And the result when the contest coordinator misses a share should be addressed in that set of rules described at #1 above.
  2. What I should have done on each post announcing a book to be won is to post it on the SilverBoomerBooks Facebook page but do it as Barbara Rollins who was friends with most of the people named. (And that’s because when someone shared a post who was not my friend, I sent a friend request. When someone drew a name who was not my friend, I sent a friend request. When we had an anthology author for an early anthology, one for which I had not already researched all the authors I could find, I did and when I found them…I sent a friend request.) That post reached 1,163 people, got 3 likes, 17 shares. The second day was also an anthology, and the names of 33 contributors were linked on Barbara’s page. However, the post on the SBB page was different, one of the poems from the book From the Porch Swing rather than the linked authors. The SBB page got 104 page views, 58 more than the single author Writing Toward the Light the next day. On the Porch share Barbara’s post with links to the authors got 15 likes, 16 shares and 7 comments…but who knows HOW many “people reached” because that’s not available for personal pages without boosting the post.
  3. If you’re really doing a Facebook contest don’t say that sharing in “any social media” works when you doubt you know the names of all the social media. I looked at an ad on the door of the gym this morning and could not name one of the symbols. I asked the staff person nearest and she could not remember the name. A second told us it was “Foursquare.” I can’t recall ever before hearing that name.
  4. If you’re going to post some of the days’ drawings on Google+ put all of them there, not just a smattering.
  5. If your Facebook feed automatically becomes a Twitter feed, are you checking the Twitter account for shares? Are Re-tweets the same as shares? Do you need to rename what you’re asking for if you’ve considering other social media?
  6. Keep a record more easily accessible than going back through the posts. In this one I did keep the entries every day, though sometimes when I was compiling the entries I put a person on the list twice for a single share. I did like the fact I kept up with what I had recorded (supposedly) through “liking” the post as I recorded it, but then again, I didn’t reveal that was what the “like” meant, so it didn’t help the participants to call my attention to those missed until after the fact: after I listed each person who had shared that day’s page. Records kept should include the names of the people drawing the winning name.
  7. Having someone else draw for the book was a spur-of-the-moment decision but worked well. It gave me an opportunity to talk to strangers in the places I frequent, to ask if they had a Facebook account, and to befriend them there, increasing by their friends at least that one-day-report spiel’s reach.
  8. If each person commented on a post before they shared it, as some did simply saying, “sharing,” they would be easier to track.
  9. A major concern at the end was that people didn’t know what the books were about. I guess it was a concern while they shared as well, but I became aware of it when people who had been very active in the contest said they needed more information about the individual books. That is going to be addressed on this site…for potential future contests, but more importantly, to get the message out about the books. They will be described in this Repercussions blog, and we will encourage book reviews, all of which will be tagged with the book’s name and pulled up easily.
  10. As a sideline to the lessons of the contest, I finally recognized the value of categories and tags on web posts.
  11. I found it necessary to share the page to my own feed rather than the SilverBoomerBook feed because when I tried to do the latter, the names of the authors of anthology pieces and some of the single-book authors did not become links and draw the attention of as many people. So I shared all of the both places. (I hope! It did get confusing after a while.) I’ve described in #3 a better way to do it, but I would explore whether if “Barbara B. Rollins” is posting on “SilverBoomerBooks” it is as prominent on her feed as it would be if it were an original share from the web page on this site describing the day’s contest.
  12. At the beginning of the contest, I struggled to get the ten shares that sounded like a minimal number when I set it up. And by the end, ten were easy. But it took a while to develop the momentum! To be honest, there were a few that even after pushing got to eight or nine and sputtered out. I recruited people to do me a favor and share those, and I am profoundly grateful to my friends who did that for me. But it should be addressed in the rules, or something else should be done to encourage the participation up front. Those something else’s include the next two of the 27.
  13. A decision should be made ahead of time as to who is eligible. My friend Miranda O’Donnell from County Cork, Ireland, shared some of the early posts, and goodness, her help was appreciated. There was another share I didn’t note until working up the report, that one from Brazil. I had contemplated postage but not of the international variety. Those people might have been included but they would receive a Kindle version of that book or, if the book were not in Kindle format, a pdf version of the book. Or they could be excluded. Among the participants were two people who, if we were talking legal relationships, were well within the 3rd degree of consanguinity. Another was a partner in Silver Boomer Books. I decided the first were eligible but informally excluded my partner. This is NOT to say I did not GREATLY appreciate their participation, for it made getting the numbers necessary to make a day’s drawings possible in many cases. But the decision should be made before the contest began and stated in the rules (See #1) as to who could enter.
  14. If there were a rule that each person participating should give SBB their physical or email address, the sending of books won would have been greatly facilitated. The downside of that is that the requirement could easily dissuade shares.
  15. I’ve wasted an opportunity to build up a community open to receiving emails or any other attempt to market the books. I could have required each person to have “liked” the SBB Facebook page, but I well know how often those posts don’t get seen even by those who have liked the page. Besides, it’s as easy to dislike as it is to like, and if they did see it, who’s to say they would continue to? Certainly there are other and more effective ways to build the marketing database, but again, do they deter participation?
  16. The introduction of a form for the 26th day, pick your book, was kind of a last minute move. The idea was not only to find out what books they chose but to try to nab some language about the books helpful for other marketing attempts, and it did that. The other part of the form, what do you want to know about us, was quite helpful in analysis of where we were failing (besides the fact we hadn’t tried any real marketing efforts since the end of 2011.)
  17. Controverting #17, I have a good relationship with a fabulous DJ, Rudy Fearless Fernandez with KEAN-105. I had not visited with him on air in 2014 because I didn’t have noteworthy news to report, but this contest, had it been planned before the last minute, would have been helped greatly by announcing it in late January or early February on the air. All I needed to do was ask.
  18. You can put photos in iMovie by dragging them in there, you don’t have to get them into PhotoBooth or iPhoto! Well, that may not seem relevant as what I learned during the contest, but it is as to how I could have promoted it. But I’ll digress from the digression.
  19. Using surveys from Facebook is a possibility, but they have to make money from somewhere, and that’s a moneymaker for them. They had a sale right as I was looking at using their survey, but the normal minimum charge is $89 for a year. But this is a sample of what the free one would have looked like. Since I didn’t use it, I have no idea how well it works. I know embedding the link on a webpage is a premium upgrade feature. If it were not, you could try it out here.  😉
  20. I did the Test Run for Day 27 on and was satisfied with it, would have used it for the actual run of the survey but for the fact their site was freezing up when I wanted to design it, so I went to … but that’s the next thing I learned. At Formsite the free version is 5 forms, up to 50 items but limited to 10 results per form, and up to 50 MB of space. Since it’s limited to 10 responses, I’m glad I didn’t go with that one. And I continue to get results from that form daily as well as results from the one I partially constructed and didn’t use…and emails asking me what I think of their service. I’ve gotten 27 emails from them from February 27 to March 5.
  21. I’ve always thought of as a premium site, but that’s based on an organization to which I belong that believes in not taking freebies from outside enterprises. I found when I couldn’t get into Formsite that JotForm is also free, their terms for the free plan being 100 Monthly Submissions, 10 SSL Secure Submissions, 10 Receive Payments, 100 MB Available Space, 1 Sub-user Account, and Unlimited Forms, Reports and Fields per Form. Emails from them include the welcome message when I set up the account and the actual submissions from people filling out the form.
  22. The two videos I did, one integral to the contest, the second ancillary, were effective and well received, something people took the time to do and promote…even when I didn’t ask for those to be shared.
  23. People continue to share my posts much more than they did before. That’s good not only for the actual Silver Boomer Books business but for the blog I do (with OAStepper) on the Eagle Wings Press imprint site, Recovery Daily Dose. And it’s all part of one big picture, so all the shares benefit SBB.
  24. I’ve come to the conclusion setting up a Facebook page for Recovery Daily Dose would be advantageous although I’m already sharing those daily poems on the website and at blogspot where they began. I was hesitant to do that before because I had so many separate pages I managed on Facebook. We started out doing one for each book besides the SBB one and one for each of the two imprints. And we ignored them. So during the month I consolidated pages for specific books into the imprint page. I intend now to start bringing the limited number of pages to life, rather than their remaining barely on life-support.
  25. The folks here, those I’ve known since I was two years old and those I met during the contest, are the absolute greatest and most marvelous people in the world! Thank you.
  26. Setting the number at 27 was a wise decision because for right now I’m out of things to add.
Feb 282015

Not everyone who filled out the survey as an entry to win the book of their choice asked questions. But some did. These are their questions and our answers.

The original “quartet” – Barbara Rollins, Becky Haigler, Karen Greene (Kerin Riley-Bishop) and Ginny Greene, November 15, 2011

How did you all begin the process of writing these amazing stories?

The beginning was not in writing stories but a decision to collect them from other writers and to become editors of a book of nostalgia/memoirs. It all began Saturday, October 21, 2006, about noon. Dusty Richards had presented a workshop for Abilene Writers Guild in Abilene, Texas. Ginny Greene, the then-current AWG president and I, Barbara Rollins, immediate past president, were at the end of the buffet line. And we were inspired by Dusty to get busy. I’d written some things, even had five books published, my juvenile novel a month earlier. Ginny had been writing columns for small-town newspapers for a while. But we wanted to do something together and quickly decided on an anthology by and about baby boomers. We tossed around some names of people who might also solicit, select, and edit the book as well as names for the collection. We came up with two:  Silver Boomers and Freckles to Wrinkles. But the titles were equally attractive and didn’t fit well as title and subtitle.

By the time we’d asked among the other members of a poetry critique group we participated in and recruited our others partners, Becky Haigler and Karen Greene (Ginny’s daughter who edited as Kerin Riley-Bishop) we put out calls for submissions for the two books simultaneously.

By October of the next year we’d put together Silver Boomers – a collection of poetry and prose by and about baby boomers with authors from Indonesia to England, Canada and many of the United States. And I had it set up as a book. We’d chosen a publisher and gave it to him at the 2007 AWG workshop. The book was set out in the size we intended using poems to fill pages, a short poem at the end of a prose piece that ended a third of the way down a page.

But our pride and joy was the crawl line which remains a beloved characteristic of all our anthologies. The continuous block of text stretches from the front of the book to the last page like a line rolling across the bottom of the television. When we described it and showed it to the publisher, he said it couldn’t be done. My partners, in unison, said, “Barbara did it.” They, of course, knew I’d struggled mightily with it, but by that point I did have a functional way to do it. The editor disagreed. After spending a weekend on it he gave us a draft with all poems, no matter how brief, starting like the prose pieces at the top of the page. And the crawl line had been deleted.

We took the project back and soon decided to become a publishing company ourselves. It took a while, and there were a lot of mistakes, but we published Silver Boomers in March of 2008 and Freckles to Wrinkles in July of that year. Seven more have followed, besides the seventeen single-author books.

(If you want to know how a particular book came to be, feel free to ask that in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.)

How do you decide which of the three presses to use for each book?

This is the second time this week someone I would have thought understood the difference has asked this question. Obviously the real message is that we don’t communicate that well enough! So thanks for the question!

As I’ve just described, the idea of doing anthologies was to do them as memoir and nostalgia. We’ve gone from the generalized Silver Boomers, Freckles to Wrinkles and This Path to more specific topics, but they all remain memoir and nostalgia — about grandparents, early reading experiences, the military, holidays, widowhood and waiting. The two non-anthologies published as Silver Boomer Books volumes are single-author memoir and nostalgia, still like the anthologies in the form of prose pieces and poetry. Those are Song of County Roads by Ginny Greene and Crazy Lady in the Mirror by Madelyn Kamen.

Laura Flett, author of Writing Toward the Light

Laura Flett, author of Writing Toward the Light

By the time we had published Silver Boomers and Freckles to Wrinkles we had been asked to publish two other books that were not memoir/nostalgia. Instead, they were inspirational and we knew of others we were interested in publishing. To keep the company name from becoming a mishmash, we decided to add Eagle Wings Press as an imprint for 12-Step Recovery and Spiritual materials. Those two books were Slender Steps to Sanity – Twelve-Step Notes of Hope by OAStepper and Writing Toward the Light – A Grief Journey by Laura Flett.

Since that time Eagle Wings Press has published A Time for Verse – Poetic Ponderings on Ecclesiastes by Barbara B. Rollins, Survived to Love by Ed H (identified that way while he was a living member of A.A., now Edward L. Hennessy), White Elephants – a memoir by Chynna T. Laird, A Cloud of Witnesses – Two Big Books and Us by Barbara B. Rollins with OAStepper, Insights from the Jobsite by Robyn Conley, and The Innkeeper’s Christmas Eve by Barbara B. Rollins, illustrated by Sandy Carter.

When Jim Wilson asked us to publish Poetry Floats – New and selected Philosophy-lite it didn’t fit either Silver Boomer Books nor Eagle Wings Press so Laughing Cactus Press was born for fiction and poetry.

The original question, though, was how do we decide which one to use for a proposed book. Some of course are obvious. Becky identified Innkeeper as poetry fiting in Laughing Cactus Press. I thought the correct imprint was Eagle Wings Press because it’s the Christmas story, so spiritual.  The subtitle of White Elephants is “a memoir” but we felt the recovery part of it, surviving childhood with an addict mother, made it spiritual and recovery (Eagle Wings) rather than a memoir (Silver Boomer Books). Haiku Elvis – A Life in 17 Syllables (or Less) could have been memoir/nostalgia, for we would also include biography there, but they’re poems, so Laughing Cactus Press.

That’s a whole lot of words when the answer is, “We put it where we think it fits!”

Did you ever get United (Supermarket) to take the books?

Sigh. No, Suanna, I didn’t. I’d love to tell you it was not for lack of trying, and I would. But it’s not the truth. I never got up the nerve to make the pitch outside of the Toastmasters meeting where you heard it. Do you think my making it this public will get me to try it now?

When is your next writing/poetry contest?

Our next writing/poetry contest will be our first. At least with that nomenclature. Actually every call for submissions for an anthology is a writing/poetry contest, and the prize is getting published in our anthologies. If you look back at the last few blog posts here, you’ll see the exploration for the subject matter of the next anthology. However, we do have the Twelve-Step Recovery anthology open for submissions. (You can see in one of the editors’ poems in an anthology years ago that were were privately calling it the furtive recovery anthology. But it really is moving towards fruition but needs some more good work submitted.)

In response to the question of choosing imprints, we had to discuss whether a recovery anthology was Silver Boomer Books or Eagle Wings Press.

More questions? Ask and they shall be answered.

Feb 282015

nvnl-smallIt is the end of February, the 28th day, the day to tally all the entries, to make a ton of confetti with strips of names, and to wait for the streets to clear enough to get out and have a grand drawing. But the sidewalk was slick enough getting the newspaper, that drawing may well be Sunday instead of Saturday. Then I “only” need to get addresses for those winners I don’t have and mail off a lot of books, evaluate the adventure, and write that up for this blog. But today I thought you might be interested in the results so far of the 27th’s “Tell me what you want.”

Okay, I admit it. the last on doesn’t count. It was my test run.



Choose the book you
wish to win.

Why did you choose the title you selected?

Native Voices, Native Lands Native people and native lands intrigue me.
Bluebonnets, Boots and Buffalo Bones Sounds interesting
Crazy Lady in the Mirror Seemed like me.
Bluebonnets, Boots and Buffalo Bones I am a native Texan.  The cover drew me in and the description of the poems sealed the deal!
Native Voices, Native Lands I know the author of this book and know that he does “clean”; writing. Dixon Hearne choose one of my short stories for his book, Thanksgiving to Christmas several years ago…a beautiful read.
Native Voices, Native Lands I know the author of this book and know that he does “clean” writing. Dixon Hearne choose one of my short stories for his book, Thanksgiving to Christmas several years ago…a beautiful read.
From the Porch Swing – Memories of Our Grandparents Childhood memories
The Innkeeper’s Christmas Eve It is a Christmas book
Native Voices, Native Lands The content intrigues me.
Song of County Roads I’m a country gal who likes country stories.
Bluebonnets, Boots and Buffalo Bones I love reading anything relating to Texas and history. I just love reading!
The Harsh and The Heart – Celebrating the Military Can always find another family member who’d like to see my niece’s work in print!
Song of County Roads I like country music, so country is my choice.
From the Porch Swing – Memories of Our Grandparents I thought it might have something about my grandparents.
Slender Steps to Sanity – Twelve-Step Notes of Hope Because I see the monthly sales report for Kindle versions of the books and see most months this book is sold not only in the United States better than any other but also in the UK and I think of all the people who are benefiting from it and am honored to have had something to do with it.

While it’s still icy, you may continue to share yesterday’s offert and to have a chance to win not only the book you choose but all 26.