Monday, January 28, 2013

The World Is A Big Fat Melting Pot

There are some North American readers, and authors, who might be surprised that two of the most forward-thinking and progressive book fairs are the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair. These events have been preaching the digital phase long before Kindle or iPad.

But there is another story here. Abu Dhabi is in the United Arab Emirates and Frankfurt is in Germany. Many North American book publishers are getting their titles printed in China and India.

Publishing is a global industry, but how many books are translated to reflect that?

A while back, a fellow from Portugal approached me about his multi-book series that focused on the published and unpublished material of a renowned writer from that country, which was only available in his native language. He was to translate these stories into English for the North American market, where this famous writer had a bit of a following.

Years ago, a fellow sports media friend told me that although Canada is a bilingual country, many books were not available in French.

Granted, it is expensive to translate. Besides hiring a translator with strong literary skills, it requires a new layout because translated words don't fit the same page flow as the English words.

Think of the books North Americans are missing out on because they haven't been translated into our language.

It begs consideration when one is assessing who their audience is and whether to consider a different language. Your book in Spanish or Russian might even outsell an English book.

Food for thought.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Do You Have A Name In Social Networks?

The Artist Formerly Known As Prince

Findability is something we should probably think about when we are picking a Twitter handle, Skype name, or Facebook page.

If you've ever been in Foresquare, you'll notice very few people use their full name. Add to the fact that a lot of them don't use their own image. It's just a tad frustrating when you are trying to find people to connect with--or if they try to connect with you.

Karen with the kitten avatar and no explanation--who the heck are you?

When a lot of us first joined Twitter, using a crazy name or a different avatar seemed kind of clever, in our own minds. The thing is, the longer you use it, the more connections you have, the more you are stuck with it. It doesn't always make sense when you switch your personal use of Twitter to professional later on.

It's the same with an email address.

If you set up your profiles in 2009, chances are it is too late to change. You are stuck with it. You can change your avatar, but not your name. They are all taken.

Why is this a big deal? (Hey, I'm no better. My other gmail is gridironchick.)

Lately, I cleaned out my two Twitter accounts, unfollowing a host of followings that were not serving me any value. (Their day-to-day activities about having a coffee and putting the kids to bed did not interest me as much as the meaty information and links I get from others.) That exercise took some time and the one thing I noticed was that identifying people was a crap shoot if they didn't use their name, their likeness, and especially if they did not post any information about who they were. Zap! If they protected their tweets, zap! Please. Anything you have to say cannot be that interesting that you have to put a lock on it. Stay out of social networks then and don't waste our time. Just saying.

It felt good to clean house and fine-tune the followers that were more specific to the purpose of each of my Twitter pages.

I'm using a similar philosophy in Google Plus. Instead of blanket following everyone, although I still do that to a certain degree, if someone is not giving me anything worth looking at, or continually posts offensive content, I feel no guilt whatsoever in zapping them.

However, if I've zapped someone I knew and liked because I couldn't identify them by their avatar or name, please accept my apologies.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We Can Learn A Lot From A Squirrel

January 21 is a special day. Besides Martin Luther King Day and Inauguration Day, according to one of my Facebook friends, it is also Squirrel Appreciation Day.

It's no secret that I love squirrels. They are full of personality and so much fun to watch. They can be quite tame, too, once they get to know you.

Squirrels are eating machines. Somewhere in Southwest Calgary, there is a stash of peanuts a mountain high. Besides the meal they would consume in my yard, they'd scurry off to save some of the grub for later.

I'd always laugh when I shopped for critter feed and overhear an older couple saying, "I wish the squirrels would stay out of the birdseed."

I used to think, "I wish the birds would stay out of the squirrel feed."

They don't process the same way we do. It's not like a squirrel will see birdseed in a yard and think, I can't eat that, it's for birds only. No. If the seed is on one of those "squirrel-proof" feeders, you can be assured that the squirrel will infiltrate the device to get to the seed. He has nothing but time to plot his technique.

The one thing squirrels are that many humans are not is persistent.

Squirrels never rest until they win their prize. Once they determine there is something they want, they will go to any length to eat it.

Squirrels teach you to stretch your limits and not let any obstacle be an excuse for you to not reach your goal.

Squirrels embrace diversity. They mingle with the other animals in their community, even their enemies. They will also warn others of impending danger from a common predator. Their sense of friendships and community is admirable.

When they do find their goal, squirrels will stand their ground and not let anyone take it away from them, until they choose to share.

So dust off your inner squirrel and go after your dreams. The best part is that some of the spoils will drop to the ground so that others can go for that ride with you.

In the meantime, Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Women in Comics and More With Arcana Studios

Today's SocialChat first Google Hangout with a writer from Arcana Studios. Chat about what's new with Arcana, including apps, graphic novels, superheroes, and women writers in the genre.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Transmedia Storytelling Sells Beer

Who remembers the Kokanee ranger?

The beer company ran a series of commercials in Canada that pitted a forest ranger against an elusive beer-stealing Sasquatch. 

After a number of popular ads, the brewer then let the viewers decide if it should carry on with the series.

It's a win-win for Kokanee. The responses gives the company an idea of how popular the ads are, besides giving the customer a sense of ownership in what airs. Whether it sells more beer, who knows?

If you want to know the ending...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Messing With Loyalty -- Casebook Example: The NHL

They're back.

After the second work stoppage in eight years, it is business as usual for the National Hockey League as everyone awaits the shortened season schedule on Saturday.

But is it?

The mood was different during this lockout. This time, veteran hockey insiders were fed up with the league and the players association's ability to play nice with each other. I was one of them.

Could care less when they returned, we all said. Now that they have, it's hard to stay mad. Why is that?

Because none of us, not even the fans, are bigger than the game. Goodness knows the players and league executives are not either.

Hockey may not top the list of popular sports in the United States, but if you've grown up in the hockey belt: Canada and the northeastern United States, chances are that the hard line people took during the labor strife will subside once puck drops in their nearest town.

Some will come back grudgingly, some with open arms. Some will wait until the Stanley Cup playoffs, the passively-interested fans will carry on with what they've been doing. However, the latter make up the majority of the United States -- the people to whom the league has been wining and dining since it expanded past the original six teams.

The NHL has been a classic example of a marketing fail.

Assume with arrogance that your loyalists will continue to support you no matter how many times you piss in their Cornflakes and mortgage the future for an audience that isn't there.

This time they have a voice, whether or not the decision makers listen. The people have their own media and it is called the Internet. It is where they have shared their anger, frustration, and love of the game.

But the loyalist will be true to the game. They can't help themselves. Hockey is part of their DNA. There may be fewer of them this time, or maybe not. Time will tell. Put a good product on the ice and the league and the  players will be instantly forgiven.

I'm already seeing it -- including my own mirror.

Pictured with Jarome Iginla
With Stanley in Edmonton

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dr. Funkenberry on Prince, Sharing and the Music Industry

Seth Everett orchestrates this discussion which will get you thinking. If you were a musician, and it were your music, would you be all right with social sharing? Transfer that to the book industry, to any creative content. We know our own threshold for what we would pay for and what we won't. Can we expect others to pay for our own content when we wouldn't pay for theirs?

There is a lot to chew on in this broadcast. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Who Is Your Favorite Narrator?

While I always love to hear Tom Brokaw speak, Bill Kurtis could read me the grocery list and make it sound like the next bestselling trans-media thriller.

Kurtis strings words together like a symphony and grabs you by the seat of your pants. He's mostly known for narrating real-life crime stories, and more recently, you might recall a couple of humorous commercials that play on these types of narrations. I'd turn my television to American Justice, Cold Case Files, and Investigative Reports no matter how many times I saw the featured reruns just to hear that voice. 

There are others whose voices thrill my eardrums.

Who else doesn't feel a tingle up their spine when they hear the timbre of James Earl Jones 

and of Maya Angelou?

But there is one voice that tops them all. I actually had an opportunity to meet this man face to face after hearing him speak at a football banquet. 

I declined.

And yet, if I hadn't been invited to the event, I would have sold my soul to attend.

As I write these words, the thought of meeting him in person still elicits the same emotions. I know I would be a blubbering mess of tears. 

Keith Jackson reminds me of my father. No, not in physical appearance or any other attribute. 

He is a bond that forever links me to my father (who we buried in the early 1990s). It's only fitting that I write about him at this moment, on this day, and maybe even at this hour (the day after the January 1 bowl game sabbatical and 60 minutes before the kick-off to the Sugar Bowl).

My dad and I spent endless hours watching college football together, in person and from a distance -- and a telephone call to discuss certain plays.

Even without the connection to my father, Keith Jackson would still top the list for me. Just look at some of his lines:
  • Notice he came back in the middle where the big people live.
  • They opened the door and he went rolling through.
  • Don't be asking me. I'm just a big ugly.
  • At 18 years old, they can't spell the word "tired."
  • ...left-foots it with authority.
  • They're getting the laundry dirty early.
  • Leon Hall came in and hit him in the big whiskers.
  • Boy, he sneezed the air out of that one, didn't he?
  • Two of the big uglies got tangled up and had a go of it.
But don't just take it from me, just listen and hear for yourself.