Tag Archives: advice

How To Train Your Mustache

659 Every year for the last few I’ve elected to sacrifice all facial hair in a sort of ‘stache reboot called Movember. For those not in the ‘Mo, it raises money for prostate cancer research and other men’s health issues. A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to do the handlebar. To grow a truly righteous handlebar mustache requires a few things.

A Blank Slate – I find that with growing a new style of facial hair it’s good to start with an empty canvas. You need to do away with any previous hirsute projects and take it down to the bare skin. You can move from a fu-manchu to a chevron, but honestly, they take different growth patterns and it’s just easier to pick a style and commit. If you want to change it can be a bit of a disaster to do so in mid-course.

Support – When you first decide to wander down the road of learning Mustach-Fu, you are going to need support. In the case of a handlebar this is true in the form of wax. I recommend something neutral in color and odor, made of mostly beeswax. It will give you a good soft hold and with a bit thicker application you can do cool things with it. If you go to extremes with your handlebars you may even resort to using hairspray, glue, or other non-standard pomades. The more daring you are, the more creative you may need to get.

You’ll also need support from your friends and significant others. Frankly the whole process can make you look a little silly. Even with a good end result you will still stand out and even the most stalwart of facial hair farmers shouldn’t have to face the snickers alone.

Patience – There’s going to come a time in all lengthy commitments like this when you’re going to want to give up. Trust me. It will itch. It will be hard to manage. You’ll get soup and other bits of food in it, and hairs will get in the aforementioned food and beverage. With a little patience you will be rewarded. Facial locks, just like those on the top of your head, will eventually get with the program. I’m at the point now where I can comb out to the side and the tips will defy gravity.

Pruning – My ‘stache is long and luxurious. The temptation to avoid scissors is strong. And depending on the style you go with it may be wise. Generally though, I believe it helps the over all structural integrity to remove some of the hairs in the middle and shape the remaining hairs to accentuate the over all appearance. Not every hair will grow at the same rate, so it may also be neccessary to trim individual ones back to length. You’ll also run into rowdy ones that will want to point everywhere but the right way. I recommend plucking those out completely. It will hurt, but improve your look.

Independence – This may be the most important part. As I mentioned above, you’ll need people in your corner. When you make a fashion choice that may not be popular or that may be too popular among groups like the Hipsters, it can be a hard row to hoe. The DIY spirit must be strong among those who want to go all the way.

If you pay heed to these few points, one day you may have a project to be proud of. Upon consulting my own list I think these points can also be helpful in producing a novel or any other creative work. As a novelist, I recommend picking a story and genre, or genre mashup, early on. You will certainly need the support of friends and family. Creating is hard and lonely work. Patience in producing the first draft and judicious editing are both challenging but necessary. And finally when you make the choice to become a creator, you need the strong independent streak to pull all of this together. Even if you don’t self publish as I have, this is your baby, your vision, and you are the one responsible for bringing it into the world.

I hope this advice is useful and I hope you’ll share the fruits of these suggestions, be they pilary or literary.

Self Promotion

I often worry that I try too hard or am completely bollocksing my attempts at promoting my stories. I have no formal education when it comes to marketing or promotion. The things I do know come from watching other, savvier people and even trying to do the opposite of people who have turned me off with their attempts.

So when a friend of mine took the risk (and dispensing advice, solicited or not, to a friend is always risky) of telling me what he thought of my efforts, I listened. He made the caveat to me that he’s not a marketing pro, but he does have at least a decade on me in age and experience and has done enough different things in his life to achieve some wisdom in my eyes. Some of what he had to say also came from people in his life that are/were pros.

This is what he told me (and I’m paraphrasing a little):

When I talk about the stuff I’m throwing out there, make it “Scott Roche’s thrilling novel, blah blah blah”.. third person only. It’s okay to say how great it is, IF it’s in the third person and nobody knows (except me, haha) that you wrote the ad. And when I talk about a review that a book/story I wrote got, say “X got a good review.”, not “I got a good review.”

When I post to Twitter or Facebook, don’t say “buy this now” or “my story is for sale here”. He believes that that’s off putting and it would be better to say “Download ‘Fetch’ here.” and provide the link for Amazon/Smashwords. People will know I’m selling as if it were free I’d probably say so.

He was also of the opinion that reviews don’t work so well, if they’re reviews done by someone that is a complete or relative unknown. His belief is that a good bit of cover copy goes a lot further in terms of enticing a reader to read.

He also said that I should probably never talk about sales numbers. I’d been talking some in the public stream about how low they’ve been and my efforts to improve them. I did that to endeavor to share with my fellow writers the reality of my own self publishing experience. In doing so though, it may make people think “if he’s not selling well, then maybe it’s because it’s no good”.

That’s the jist of what he said. He did go on to say that if he didn’t know me, if he weren’t close friends with me, that he would likely have blocked my feed because of what I’ve been throwing out there. I respect that. I have a higher tolerance for people pitching their stuff, but if that’s all they’re doing then I’d do the same thing. Hopefully there’s enough other stuff in my feeds that the promotion doesn’t overwhelm. For people like him, and maybe like you, even a little is too much.

I think what my buddy gave me was good, concise, commonsensical advice and maybe there’s more where that came from. Now it’s time to ask you folks, what do you think of this? What has worked for you in marketing your stuff using social media? Is he way off base? Have I annoyed you to the point where you’re ready to unfollow/block/put me in the corner? If I haven’t, has someone you follow managed to get under your skin and why? Whether you’re a self promoter or not I know a lot of people would benefit from talking about this.

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