Troy Kirby

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Casey Anthony's turn at the public circus


The public’s obsession with the Casey Anthony Trial is nothing new. In fact, it is so old hat that it no longer shocks anyone to see full trials displayed on television for public consumption. It is the best type of reality television show; unscripted yet with an expiration date and easily forgettable regardless of the lives it touches forever. Tort reform may be a idealized notion of those in Congress, but at the base level of the average Joe, there is nothing enjoyed more than a good mash-up of ligation. The majority of the television series dramas throughout history have been legal dramas whether it be in the court room or on the police beat. Not to mention the public carnivals of half hour small claim judge shows or public carnival trials referred to as “talk shows” with an audience who actively shouts at the “guests” on stage.
The latest public hubris is its focus on the Casey Anthony Trial. And it is with good reason. The public, not just the American public, but those throughout the globe enjoy the idea of a good whodunit. Even when the defense does not hold up to several different timelines of events or with a prosecution appearing use the television media in order to convict a defendant. The truth is not important with the viewing public. Mainly because they understand from the outset that no matter what happens, justice will not be served.
That may sound harsh for someone who believes in the blindness of justice. But then again, if justice is blind, how can they see through lies to the truth. Our appetite for criminal proceedings has never faltered. Hell, television broadcast the proceedings in the custody case for Anna Nicole Smith’s child. Specifically because they knew that the public would watch. Even the judge in the case attempted to garner as much fame as possible with his slow delay tactics on the bench. In a murder case, everyone appears ready to cash in, become a quasi-celebrity, and hope that their fifteen minutes of fame will stretch out to twenty, thirty or a full-hour of Kim Kardashian fame.
At the heart of this story is still the face that a child is murdered. Caylee Anthony may have not had a long life in terms of years (less than three) but she will live on in some hyperbole created by her death. JonBenet Ramsey was six when she was slaughtered Dec. 25, 1996. And every media outlet just knew that the parents were dead-to-rights guilty. JonBenet’s legacy is at least seventeen whodunit true crime books, a television movie, thousands of hours of TruTv and a Dominick Dunne expose. That being said, it was considered shocking by the American and International public that the parents were not convicted or even tried for the crimes. It was also shocking when the family was exonerated July 9, 2008 based on D.N.A. testing.
The smoking gun in every high profile case is D.N.A. testing. It has been pushed as the sole arbiter of whether or not a person is guilty or innocent, is a by-product of our C.S.I. obsession. If the prosecution does not have the D.N.A. evidence, a jury may be less swayed toward conviction. Eye witnesses and other evidence may falter, but not D.N.A. evidence. In Casey Anthony’s case, “hair banding” is a new form of scientific proof.
The trial has become the media circus that the public craves. A prosecution which initially had offered a limited immunity deal to Casey Anthony. Two defense attorneys recusing themselves citing travel costs as a barrier to represent Anthony. The father, George, accused to sexual molestation, accused of helping cover up the body of Caylee. George then suggesting, in court, that he smelled decomposition from Casey’s car from “three feet away” yet also bailed her out after she was arrested for a fourth time. The brother also accused to sexual molestation and perhaps of fathering Caylee.
The media circus swirls further with the public. Some allegedly yelling “baby killer” outside of George’s house, causing him to go to a hotel to send notes threatening suicide. The parents’ attorney recusing himself from the case after allegedly receiving special privileges reviewing court records. Diary notes from Casey Anthony herself which could either be taken out of context or as a smoking gun admission of guilt. Civil lawsuit claims by an alleged babysitter named “Zanny” who claims that she never met Casey, but whom Casey told police had babysat Caylee the last day of her life.
All of this stops at the media’s doorstep. Regardless of guilt or innocence, the trial itself is a judgment on quick-to-convict public. Three Duke Lacrosse players were accused of raping a stripper on March 13, 2006. The public rushed to judgment on those defendants. They were expelled from Duke, after one professor allegedly failed one of the defendants over his “guilt” in the case. The alleged victim was not named but the defendants were. The New York Times did several investigative pieces which convicted the trio of defendants in the media.
Then Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong ran his re-election platform on a conviction of the three defendants, hiring a notoriously bad criminal chief investigator who had seven formal inquiries performed because of his conduct and was repremanded by the state commission in 1997. The prosecution for the case attempted every tactic possible for a conviction. Allegedly intimidating a black taxi driver with a two-and-a-half year old shoplifting charge, with expressed purpose of getting him to recant a solid alibi for one of the defendants. The Black Panthers held a protest on Duke’s campus May 1, 2006 over the rape, which was found to be false. The sexual assault claimant Crystal Gail Magnum was allowed to act as a false witness in the events. And the public allowed this until Attorney General Roy Cooper exonerated the three defendants.
But that is the problem with criminal certainty in the public’s hands. Most have a passive indifference to facts. They enjoy the salacious tidbits of the trial; sexual accusations, larceny, lunacy, but rarely have the stomach for the full case. Whether Casey Anthony is guilty or not, the people who are standing in line for hours on end to sit in the court room as an audience have already made their mind up. Because they just know what the truth is. But, as history shows us, the victims of the case rarely receive justice. JonBenet and Caylee are still deceased. The Duke Lacrosse trio still walk with stained accusations of their character. And the American public moves onto the next trial, the next obsession, hoping to solve whodunit in a thirty-minute attention span.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Learning to sell as an author

The business side of the writing is not just to write the book, sit on your butt, and hope that people buy it. You need to be front-selling everyday. That means getting out there, telling everyone you know that you wrote something. If you want to play the low-key game, look at your sales. They won't be huge. And if they aren't huge, don't expect to sell a book or have someone interested in selling them for you.

I've read a lot of things about authors feeling uncomfortable in the ways of selling. They don't like sitting at a table, trying to get someone to purchase their books. Well, maybe that's because you are sitting behind a table. Instead, why not try a different approach. Why not front-sell what you have?

An idea: Greet people at the front door. Take along a friend, and get in their face with a great presentation. You can sell people on anything if they know you. And by shaking their hand, saying thank you for coming to the bookstore because there are about 10 left in the world, it matters. Maybe they won't buy your book, but you still got to give a presentation. Do it everywhere, talk to as many people as possible. The more "no" responses you get, the closer you are to a "yes."

This leads me to the idea that authors aren't sellers. BS. That is exactly what an author is. Especially fiction. Because it is your ability to sell, to convince someone of your fictional world that sells the book, the story. By suggesting that you don't like to talk about your work with strangers is a mistake. Sometimes, you learn a lot about yourself and how you write simply by talking to strangers.

The entire presentation is not about those short-term book sales. It's about convincing them that you are serious about your craft. By taking you seriously, by making sure that they understand that you want them to know you by knowing the world that you have created, it helps promote your work. It's not that one customer that matters, its the several customers that they will tell about you who do matter. That's how you build a word of mouth campaign.

The other thought is on book readings. Most of them are completely boring. I've sat through a few in which the person just whipped through what was said, read what was on the page, and never gave any impression that they had a creative bone in their body. One of the best presentations I've ever attended by an author was by James Elroy in L.A. He acts out his stories, gives you insight into what he was thinking about the time, some moments of inspiration as to why he thought this was good to include in a book, and makes you a part of the story.

That's selling, baby. If you are a writer, get to work. The funny thing about writing is there used to be a gatekeeper system which limited the amount of books out there. Thus it kept them limited enough to where if an author was published, they had a golden key. Now, that means crap. Anyone can publish, and more power to them. So you have to separate yourself in your selling. It's the only way to ensure that you get another book printed through an imprint or sold.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

John Locke Passes 1 million sold

Okay, so John Locke passes one million sold on amazon. The first self-published author to do so. And you are probably wondering where this fits in for you, author who has sold 6 copies of your wonderful ebook in the last 6 months.

Be patient. Learn to market. And no matter what, stop worrying about what other people do.

There are plenty of baseball players in the majors. Some get the $11 million paycheck. Others get $256 million. But that doesn't mean the 11 million player doesn't play on the same field as the 256 million guy.

So relax, write some more, keep writing. And just know that after a while, the herd thins even when it grows. Multiple title authors are always in more demand than single (one-off) authors.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some changes a coming!

I decided to make Crunk a $0.99 ebook. My apologies to anyone who purchased at the $2.99 level, but I gave it a lot of thought and wanted to really promote my writing. Sometimes, as a marketing technique, you have to do things like this. Crunk as a $2.99 ebook was selling fair on amazon and not at all at smash words. Funny how specific websites sold better, and we'll see if this changes things.

I also increased the sample material on the smash words to 35 percent from 20 percent. I think this will allow more investment for anyone reading the characters and attempting to determine whether it is a good purchase or not.

All of this is in anticipation of the follow-up for Crunk. Which is off to my readers and the person who edits the ebook. I am now starting to think in terms of how to best design a cover and will be putting something up as soon as everything is complete. I'm really happy with this book, enough so that I don't want to give away the title until everything's publish. Because after that fact, then it's mine and no one can take it away from me.

I'm looking into the design of my next book. It will be crime, the same world as Crunk and its follow-up, but only with maybe a few mentions. I want to challenge myself to continue to design really good crime stories, not just continue on a storyline from book one to book seventeen.

Yes, I will be throwing up a few good short stories. Trying to develop one as we speak which may be longer than usual, but in the world of the internet and ebook reading, there is no such thing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A writing sabbatical

A writing sabbatical was what I will call it...

Okay, so I've been away for a while. I was almost Munson'd, but I'm back now. It started with a few thoughts about where to take my writing, took longer than I imagined, and ended up being a colossal amount of time away from my blog. I apologize, but only because I did learn a few things about myself while away.

And I wasn't away, not really.

I started thinking about how to develop the follow-up to Crunk further. That makes a lot of sense, but it takes time and devotion. I didn't want to concern myself with what to write about in a blog format when I was so intense. Right now, the Crunk follow-up is in the hands of a few selected people to look it over. If all goes well, I look forward to releasing it in likely August or September. Not bad, when the average legacy printing book takes 18 months from THE END to PRINT.

So, I'm back and doing things. I've got a few short stories waiting to run. A longer one which looks like it may be a good full novel. And I'm really just writing. That's what you are supposed to do, right?

BTW - the NHL playoffs were a big part of my life. I would never have rioted in Vancouver, congratulated a friend who is a Bruins fan (and actually from Boston), and watched just about every game there was to see.

That being said, writing keeps going. I'm going to do a little more marketing of my works. I wanted to have a good little catalog of a novel and a few short stories before I went further. Now, everything appears set for the fun little beginning. Game on, as they say... Game on...