business

Of the season, and a milestone
art | beauty | business | errors | hard work | psychosis | redemption | Sabin Howard sculpture | WW1 Memorial

Of the season, and a milestone

My latest on Medium Online is “The End of the Beginning: Eight of Sabin Howard’s Doughboys Get Ready to Go Back to Europe.”

I wrote it to share–to celebrate–a milestone: Sabin and his stalwart team have finished principal sculpture on the first grouping of eleven figures from A Soldier’s Journey.

I’m so proud of our sculptors Sabin, Charlie, and “Raymond.” They’ve worked with focus and dedication through long hours and difficult situations.

I’m also terribly proud of our good-spirited models. They also worked hard over the last year, especially during the quarantine months. Everyone has made sacrifices and accommodations for the good of the project.

This achievement is hard-won. It’s sweet for us.

It makes it worthwhile, almost, to have to deal with the belligerence and incompetence of outside parties. They’re a necessary evil. Doesn’t make them easy to handle. I brace myself before every phone call, conference, meeting, and visit. I’m always relieved when contact concludes.

It’s true that I have a particular failing in not tolerating fools gladly. My shrink has been yelling at me for a decade about that. Regarding my lack of patience for a**holes and idiots: it’s not exactly ego syntonic, it’s just not exactly ego dystonic, either.

But back to the trolls. What’s the point of being an aggressive jerk with people who are working hard, in good faith, toward a mutual goal? It mystifies me.

We were actually threatened with a “bloody fistfight” because the global pandemic posed challenges for our shipping plans. Do you believe that? HELLO: THERE’S A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

And we were threatened after we had formed a quarantine pod, lived together, and worked together, all toward this end: meeting our deadlines.

The “bloody fistfight” folks are petty and unhelpful. Then there are the incompetent folks: “Thank you for your patience while we slowly and belatedly attend to an important matter that you told us about two months ago and then again last week. That matter we assured you was well in hand a month ago.”

Grr.

And there’s the guy who actually tried to tell me what to write. I thought I managed that situation well. I explained that my diction could have been worse. I didn’t tell him to go f**k himself.

It’s frustrating. I’m frustrated. I surmise that everyone living within a 75 mile radius of Washington DC is some species of awful. People far from the Beltway incorrectly assume that one political party is awful and the other is okay, depending on their personal predilections, and which media they allow to them what to think. It’s actually far more widespread than that. The whole DC area is toxic. Political party doesn’t matter.

The sole exception is our brilliant attorney. But he’s from the heartland and he lived in Germany for a while. He hasn’t been spoiled with the DC power-lust.

And so this is difficult for me. And yet, and yet… Sabin and the team have completed the first 28% of A Soldier’s Journey, and it’s beautiful. Uplifting, gripping. My husband’s skill is amazing. I’m so proud of him and so proud to have served the process in my way.

My Article in Quillette Magazine: Art, Commerce, and Vision
art | authors | business | gratitude | hard work | language | marriage | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture | sculpting

My Article in Quillette Magazine: Art, Commerce, and Vision

Quillette Magazine published my article on why artists aren’t necessarily leftist: “Art, Commerce, and Vision.”

If you don’t know Quillette, check it out! It’s an online platform for free speech.

Here’s what I wrote my friends:

I am delighted to send you my article on Quillette Magazine. It’s about why artists aren’t necessarily Left-wing. I write about Sabin and his work and broach, yes, the question of what real art is. Hint: “Real art is the product of the personal, human vision of the artist… Beauty, excellence, and the artist’s skill matter.”
If you don’t know Quillette Magazine, I recommend it. Quillette is a platform for free-thinking. It’s one of the very few places taking on current controversies in a thoughtful way. Please consider becoming a Patron of this extraordinary venue.
One note. If you follow my twitter feed, @tracilslatton, you will see that I follow, like, and retweet some Twitter users who are much further to the Right than I am, personally. I do this to preserve their voices. Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, is hell-bent on silencing Conservative voices. I see this as antithetical to free speech, which is the foundation of democracy. We the people need lively, and civil, discussions between people of different viewpoints. We the people need the opportunity to consider all viewpoints of an issue. Technocrat fascism must be resisted.
This article, “Art, Commerce, and Vision” came out of my deep feeling that artists must embrace the business of art.
I hope you enjoy this article. I always enjoy the thought-provoking articles in Quillette.
Quillette Magazine
The Doctor As Entrepreneur
5 star review | aging | business | hard work | life model | medical innovation | review | self-reliance

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

Medical technology is changing every day, advancing at an unprecedented rate. Inventions like contact lens that measure blood sugar, and other wearable technologies, are in the works. Within a decade, it’s likely that people will be able to assemble health information easily, without the need for finger pricks or trips to the doctor’s office.

Some weeks ago, author and medical technologist Robin Farmanfarmaian was a guest on my BlogTalkRadio show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. Farmanfarmaian, who works with silicon valley biotech and medical technology start-ups, talked about her book The Patient As CEO: How Technology Empowers the Healthcare Consumer. She commented on the speed of the medical technology revolution and how difficult it is for doctors to keep track of new developments. The patient, she advises, must see himself or herself as the head of a team of healthcare professionals who work together to help the patient achieve optimal health.

This revolution is occurring at the same time that managed health care is making it harder for physicians to make a good living at a profession for which they have studied and specialized for a decade or longer, while also undertaking huge student loans. Indeed, I worry about my stepdaughter in medical school. Will she be forced to see twenty-two patients per hour just to pay back her student loans? Will her options be limited by checklist medicine and by debt?

In the face of the medical technology revolution and ever more rigid and punitive insurance regulations, doctors do have their own ingenuity to fall back on. I was reminded of this recently when my friend dermatologist Debra Jaliman told me about new products that she herself developed, Sea Radiance skin care products.

Dr. Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been a resource for me for more than twenty years. She’s always on the cutting edge of dermatological products and techniques. I reviewed her book Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist because I found it useful, informative, and well-written.

Cosmetic dermatology may not be in the same category as, say, paint-on ink that gauges blood pressure, but for women like me who care about looking their best, it matters. Life deals us all so many bad cards that when I can do something positive for myself, I seize the opportunity.

So I was intrigued when Dr. Jaliman announced her new cleanser that moisturizes as it cleanses and her new eye cream, both made from sea flora, organic flower essences, and advanced dermatological formulas. I wanted to know what the products could do for me. Thinking about my stepdaughter’s future in medicine, and about Farmanfarmaian’s appearance on my BlogTalkRadio show, I also wanted to know what had prompted Jaliman to develop them and how she had done so.

“I’ve been working with big companies for so many years, and I always had in mind that I’d create my own products,” Jaliman told me. She’s consulted with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, SKII, Lierac, and others, helping them develop products. “I don’t sign the standard non-compete clause, when I work with them.”

“But why these products, now?” I persisted.

“I listen to my patients. They want immediate results around their eyes,” Jaliman said. “And over the years in my practice, I hear the same complaints, especially from people with sensitive skin or adult acne. The usual cleansers dry them out or provoke redness; after many people wash their face, their skin feels tight and dry. My goal in developing gentle cleanser was to create a product that took off all the dirt and impurities but left the skin feeling hydrated.”

She also commented that patients would stand in her office and read labels, and some dismissed certain products because of their ingredients. So Jaliman sought out the purest ingredients–and a lab that would work with her to create the finest, most effective products.

“Not all labs wanted to do this because it’s incredibly difficult,” she admitted. “It was no easy goal. I made many different formulas.” She noted that her products have very low numbers on the Environmental Working Group‘s list. Her eye cream and cleanser are formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, gluten, and synthetic dyes and fragrances.

She explained that while the big corporations have the advantage of big budgets for research and development and marketing and promotion, she has an advantage in immediacy of feedback. “I have thousands of patients that I could give the product to. They tested it for me and gave me honest feedback. We then changed the product many times over the course of the year and a half of development.”

Jaliman was a stickler for maintaining her products’ efficacy. Air inactivates antioxidants, so she sought out a high tech tube that wouldn’t allow air in for dispensing the eye cream. Before launching Sea Radiance, she had a beautiful and informational website built. The consummate marketer, she included the new products in a gift bag for stars at the Academy Awards.

She handed me samples so I could try them for myself. I felt so good about the purity of the products that I shared the cleanser with my 11 year old daughter. She left for school saying, “My face feels so good, mommy!” It’s a sentiment I’m happy to echo: my skin feels softer since using Sea Radiance cleanser, and my crow’s feet are smoother with the eye cream.

I’m also happy to see such positive, utilitarian results from Dr. Jaliman’s entrepreneurial efforts. The medical technology revolution doesn’t just benefit consumers–it also, with some responsiveness and inventiveness on their part, potentially benefits doctors.

Eye-Lift-Transparent-No-Shadow

BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily: Excellent Promotion
book promotion | business | guide to independent publishing | independent publishing

BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily: Excellent Promotion

BookGorilla brings free or deeply discounted books to readers via an online subscription service.

As an independent author and the publisher of a small press, I am always, eternally, and forever looking for ways to market and promote my books. It’s an essential part of the job. I do marketing and promotion tasks weekly. Should do them daily.

I can write and publish the most awesomely delicious books, but if readers don’t know about those books, they won’t buy them.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods for making people aware of my books. I’ve paid to have book trailers made. Those help; everyone likes to watch a short, well-made video that teases and intrigues.

I regularly submit my books to book review blogs, because those sites can spread the word about a book all across the worldwide web. In fact, I constantly troll the internet for book review sites that would be a good fit for my books.

I blog regularly, and you, dear reader, are tasting the fruit of that effort at this very moment. I write pieces for the Huffington Post. I create podcasts for an iTunes podcast channel. I’ve recently started a BlogTalkRadio show, “Independent Artists & Thinkers.”

Perhaps the single most effective promotion I’ve done, that has the most immediate and measurable impact on ebook sales, is run a promotion through BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily.

The way it works is that readers subscribe to BookGorilla. When they sign up, they choose their personal reading preferences from a detailed list of genres and sub-genres. Then, every day, subscribers receive an email tailored specifically to their individual preferences. This email lists top quality ebooks that are, for a limited time, offered either free or at a juicy discount.

Kindle Nation Daily is more like a news service for all things kindle, and it dovetails with BookGorilla to offer bargains to readers.

For my recent novel BROKEN, I paid for a Kindle Nation Daily feature, which includes an excerpt, and received a free slideover to the BookGorilla email blast.

The KND feature looked gorgeous:

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Beautiful, yes? Beneath the 5 Star Praise box was the excerpt, so readers could get a taste of the novel–so they would be tempted to buy it.

The same day, Broken was included in the BookGorilla email blast:

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Nice, right? But much more than nice. It’s effective. Immediately, book sales increased. Amazon ratings started rising. After a while, I took screenshots to capture those lovely high rankings:

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Then:

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And:

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It was extremely satisfying to watch the ratings rise! I didn’t capture the ascent at its peak, because I was busy through the day.

To be clear, the ratings rose because the book was selling and selling!

These screenshots speak for themselves. BookGorilla, with Kindle Nation Daily, was an effective way to market and promote my novel. I recommend it.

BookGorilla

BROKEN on SALE via BookGorilla promotions
5 star review | book promotion | Broken | business | guide to independent publishing

BROKEN on SALE via BookGorilla promotions

FOR A LIMITED TIME, Traci L. Slatton’s BROKEN on sale for $0.99!!

Get while it’s hot!

Broken on sale
Free Kindle Nation Shorts
a free reader’s service from Kindle Nation Daily
April 21, 2015
An excerpt from Traci L. Slatton’s BROKEN

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel who has taken the form of a beautiful woman is trapped in the web of Nazi occupation. Can she save her two lovers and the Jewish widow and child she has come to care for?

“…incredible…a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, betrayal, and defiance…”

Sensual, spiritual and elegantly written, BROKEN is enthralling readers…

“…stunning. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read..”

Experience BROKEN while it’s 83% off the regular price!
Alia takes full advantage of her human form
in this Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpt from

Broken
by Traci L. Slatton

4.5 stars – 13 reviews

Special Kindle Price: 99 cents!
(reduced from $5.99 for a
limited time time only)
Here’s the set-up:
Power is pornographic. Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in?

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers, a bullfighter and a musician working in the fledgling Resistance. Can she save them and the Jewish widow and her child that she has come to love, or will betrayal take them all?

5-star praise for BROKEN:
 “…a wonderful escape….exciting, intelligent…captivating…”
 “Compelling and transporting…”
 

See the Facebook posting!

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The Business of Independent Publishing
authors | Broken | business | errors | guide to independent publishing | hard work | how to write a book | Huffington Post | independent publishing | Uncategorized | writing

The Business of Independent Publishing

Regarding the business of independent publishing: A few months ago, I received a polite email from Professor John Maxwell of Simon Fraser University. Some of his students had come to him. Between the covers of the text he had ordered for his graduate class on publishing, The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar, was the novel Broken by Traci L. Slatton, in its entirety. He attached a picture to show me, see below.

Here was an opportunity to spread the word about Parvati Press in general and about my novels in particular, I thought. “Are your students interested in the novel? Would you like more copies?” I asked. I am always looking for opportunities to promote the Press.

He accepted with alacrity. Ten copies shipped out to him at SFU.

Sometime later, during an email exchange, he invited me to guest lecture to his class via Skype. I accepted. It was a good experience; his students were bright, polite, inquisitive, and thoughtful. I enjoyed talking to them but finished with a feeling of frustration: there was so much else to say about independent publishing.

Much of it I’ve learned the hard way, too.

It has been an intense journey since the day I decided to expand the Press and take on other authors. I’ve learned some tough lessons. My first time out of the box, I took on a writer who turned out to be certifiably insane. Not, like, a little kookie, but off-her-rockers lunatic demented. I’ve blogged about that elsewhere, including a Huffington Post article about How to Handle eMail Harassment.

The next three writers weren’t crazy, but I still made a big mistake in trusting one of them.

After the debacle with the first writer, I realized I needed a solid contract for dealing with potential Parvati Press authors. I hired an attorney who had helped me on other matters. She wasn’t a publishing attorney, and the contract put off the other writers.

That was my responsibility, I knew. So I went out and found a real publishing attorney, I mean, the guy in publishing law, to create a contract that was clear, simple, fair, and had precedents in publishing. He did a great job.

He also yelled at me about the deal I was giving the writers. He explained that I could not sustain the Press with that deal. He was right, but I felt that I had given my word to the writers, so those first few would still receive the deal I had originally offered them. He called me crazy. But I was going to keep my word.

One writer refused to do a revision that his manuscript urgently required. Line for line, his prose was polished and perfect. Unfortunately, it was a good story badly told. His novel was boring. He had to revise it to bring it to life. He didn’t want to do the work required because he’s had a storied career as an author. But production values matter to me, so I declined to send him a contract.

A second writer saw immediately that I was being scrupulously honorable. She signed the contract and sent it back immediately.

Ah, but the third guy. He had been hemming and hawing, wringing his hands, and dragging his feet about signing a contract from the day I sent him one. Days and weeks would go by. He was always about to talk to his attorney, who was so busy…. When I sent him the second contract, he said, “I’ll sign it right away, I’ll tell my lawyer that I want to get this done unless there’s something major wrong with it.”

As the months went by, with all the foot-dragging and hand-wringing and excuses, I was working on this writer’s manuscript. I stupidly invested a great deal of my own time, thought, and energy into his manuscript. Now, it had a germ of a good idea, and the writer showed flashes of serious, big talent throughout. But it was no where near publishable. It was going to require sustained heavy lifting to get it to the point where the manuscript was professional and polished.

Also, it was tricky to deal with the writer because of the arrogance involved. Taking editorial criticism is a skill that requires learning for most of us.

I paid for the Parvati Press editor to do a thorough manuscript critique. It was still going to be at least three more revisions before the manuscript was ready to be published, two that I could do and one more from the professional editor. Note that this editorial critique is the work product of Parvati Press.

Despite my honorable behavior, there was only continued hand-wringing and hawing and excuses about the second contract.

I woke up.

I realized–finally!–that this writer had no intention of signing a contract with me. One tip-off was when he asked why there was now no “out” in the new contract so he could go to a bigger publisher if one made an offer.

It broke over me that this writer was out to get free editing for his manuscript so he could shop it around to other publishers.

I conferred with several experienced business people close to me. One woman with her own PR company told me that it happens all the time. Clients come to her, get her ideas, and then don’t sign a contract and pay her. They go off and use her ideas either by themselves or with another PR firm.

Essentially, they rip her off, the same way that this writer planned to rip off Parvati Press.

Another businessman said to me, dryly, “Welcome to the business world.”

Another friend said, “These are the early business mistakes.”

My publishing attorney said, “Never work on a project without a signed contract.”

I emailed back to him, “I’m learning.”

This is just writer relations, a tiny slice of the whole juicy pie. There is so much else to independent publishing, especially the way I do it: with integrity. The book has to be high quality in terms of content, and it has to look good, too. It has to be copyedited, proofread, professionally laid out with an appealing, professionally designed book cover, and given an ISBN and accurate categories…And all that is BEFORE the hard work of marketing a book so it stands out from the crowd: so that readers will know about the book and buy it.

Marketing is a big challenge. It deserves its own post, so I’ll pause here. Meantime, here’s Professor Maxwell’s post about finding BROKEN in his textbook, called, cleverly, “My Content Machine is Broken.”

Maxwell is a good writer himself. His post is worth reading, though his characterization of my novel BROKEN is condescending and pejorative. I emailed him to let him know this:

I would like to put out there (please indulge me) that BROKEN is more than a paranormal romance. It is based on a serious philosophical question with which I wrestle every day: How could a good God allow such pain and suffering?
In this vein, FOREWORD REVIEWS, which is the Library Journal for independent publishing, is reviewing BROKEN for its forthcoming Sci Fi issue, and wrote, “This is a gorgeous philosophical treaty on right and wrong….”

To his credit, Maxwell agreed with me.  He has yet to correct his post to reflect the respect my novel deserves. And this is part of independent publishing, too: Making sure that independently published books are valued and respected.

independent publishing