188_auric_woolyThis is the last post you have been waiting for.

There was a commenter five years ago who asked me what this was all leading up to. Good question! As if I knew.

It’s been leading up to this. I started this blog with the intention of it being a creative writing outlet for me that other people would find interesting. However, the traffic on this blog has been nearly non-existent for five years.

I have little sense of the energy people find in what I do here.

I can do creative writing without having to post it in public, so I’m going to retreat to the innermost sanctum of my workshop and do the labor there.

There will still be stuff. This is the Transmutation phase. That means I’m changing the way I do things here. What I will likely focus on are reviews and the occasional episode of some kind of artistic creation I put out. I’m going to change the format and design of this website in a little while.

What brought about this change in attitude?

About a year and a half ago I felt the website had done all the work it was going to do for me. I’ve been working on thoughts and prayers that might help me figure out what comes next. All while I was going on the biggest adventure of my entire life.

That adventure is now done.

I have plucked the onion from the ashes of the Gingerbread Witch Spider and received the treasures within.

I am just myself.

Like the previous post, this exploration is for people who have played or studied the Journey video game on the PS3. Again, if you don’t know what this video game is about, check out the wiki article here.

Spoilers are a-comin’ in, so if you want to avoid major reveals then take the tape out now and hit the road, Jack.

One of the elements of Journey that I’ve been rolling over in my thoughts is the cutscene at the beginning of the game. It sets the stage for the game by showing the player a number of images that I believe shed illumination on the game’s overall narrative.

The game takes an open-ended approach to the meaning of the game, and I think that should still be kept in mind. My ideas do not negate yours.

However, as I mentioned in my last post when you make certain kinds of symbolic decisions you can’t help but assign them some structure. Piece by general piece, you narrow down the possibilities.

As before, I’m going to break it down for you.

The first image we are shown is a shift from white light to sand. This is incredibly significant.


It bridges the white light at the end of the game with the beginning and it shows us how we rise from the earth to become self aware. We grow in consciousness to an awareness of who we are. This also has ties to how we move out of the unredeemed darkness into a growing vision of who we are.

Right off the bat we have an image showing us that the theme of the game is about raising our consciousness.

The next image we are presented with is the sun over the horizon. Is this a sunrise or a sunset?


Regardless, the time between light and darkness is always the “in-between” time. The moment of greatest danger, the time when the barriers between worlds are weakest and things can pass between existences.

Is this the dawning of daylight and an emergence from darkness? Is this the approach of the darkness and the descent into the unknown? Maybe both, or maybe the outcome is in doubt. This is a time of transition.

Close up to a hill where the sun shines bright. We can see what will later be revealed as the gravestones at the start of the game.


This continues the cutscene’s progression. It means something has changed. Since the sun is higher here than in the previous scene, it means daylight is coming. Illumination has increased and we can now focus on specifics, rather than muddle about in the darkness of grays and indistinct shapes.

What has changed? We don’t know. But time is passing and an idea is forming.

The next scene is a large grouping of gravestones. Where as we were contemplating an individual, or two people, now we move into the collective realm.


Look at all the lonely people. All the dead, unredeemed people. This is a sorrow. All is desert. All is wasteland. There is no sign of life, only the passage of time. The people have lost their way.

Above, in the sky, a shooting star flies through the heavens.


This is God, asking “Who is there?” Calling to us. Showing his signs. It is not a blue sky, however. It too, is lifeless. Heaven is also a wasteland.

You might ask, how can God not know the answer to his question? God knows, but like us God must pretend not to know so that we can discover the greater purpose together. God needs our help even though God doesn’t need it.

The next scene is also a sorrow. God’s call streaks through the sky above the landscape of gravestones, yet goes unheeded.


There is a gap between God and the people. Heaven and earth do not meet. God and the people have lost their way, and there is no life. Or perhaps there is no authentic life. We are all living a phony life that is a shadow of what we might know.

The next scene is a flying through the desert.


Who is flying? You are. This is a premonition of what you will discover in the game—both through moments of small and gradual discovery, and through great moments of inspiration. We are leaving the collective problem here and shifting to the personal.

The focus is zeroing in on you—the player—and the journey you will take.

It should be pointed out that in dreams (and this is indeed a dream) flying means spiritual development. This is entirely appropriate given what you will be doing in the game itself.

Then, you awaken from the dream.


This image is very important. You rise from the earth (because you are mortal), but your head touches the sky. You will be the bridge between heaven and earth. You will redeem the great wrong that afflicts the world.

Contemplate that image, the cloud over your head like a halo. You have heard the call of God. You may not understand it yet, you may not even be able to answer God’s question….”Who is there?”

However, now there is hope. If the people were alive they would rejoice.

The next scene pulls back. You were meditating (an action you can take in the game).


This is appropriate. You were engaged in an attempt to understand or commune with the state of the world. This opened your heart and mind to the call of God.

You stand up, realizing that there is a great task needing to be done. This is the true beginning of the game.

But what is this great task? You are to atone for the sins of the past and become one with God. This is exemplified in your growing relation to your Self. That is, the part of you that is both mortal and one with the divinity, as opposed to the self, who imagines itself as mortal and separate from on high.

This scene from later in the game explains a great deal.


You and the Self are one. You and God are one. This must be re-discovered through atonement. The Journey is your quest for atonement and the realization of the Self.

One of the first wonders you encounter is the glowing symbol surrounded by cloth strips (spirits).


This is holy ground. This is a place where another person heard the call, just as you did. They began their journey here. Now you benefit from this holy place by increasing your awareness of your spiritual connection to God.

This is where your scarf first appears. If you look closely at the World card in the tarot, you will see the evolved Self is naked, but adorned by a scarf. A scarf is a symbol of the spirit flowing free.


This marks the beginning of your spiritual evolution. You will find other symbols along the way and your scarf will grow in size.

Later on you witness a symbol landing in a deserted ruin.


This reinforces the idea that the call of God (shown in the dream flying over the earth) lands where a person hears the call. Person by person a connection is being rebuilt.

Indeed, at the end of the game it is shown that a symbol lands where you first awakened.


You have made your mark for others to follow. The world is changing for the better with every person who hears the call.

In the lighthouse you are faced with several glyphs that display your journey.


This is a gathering of all your scattered piece into a whole. There is an unconscious sequence, symbolized by the out of order glyphs. However, the fact that you have all the pieces means you will fit them together in the final challenge.

Near the end, you are faced with a gargantuan figure. Some believe them to be sages, angels, or ancestors. I believe this is your Self, regarding you.


As you grow in knowledge and experience, your Self appears larger each time. Your true being is so enormous! It draws me back to an issue of the Doctor Strange comic book in which the hero confronts death. You will be required to grow in order to fill the mammoth form you inhabit.

Seriously. Did you never suspect that your true being is much greater than the form you seem to inhabit?

Your mortal adventurer is faced with this realization in the wide panorama of their journey.


The big picture is big. You are bringing into existence your Self through the trials and wonders of your journey.

This is the hard part. Only our mortal striving can awaken in ourselves the part of our being that is one with God. It’s one thing to hear the call, to know it is there. To understand it is a whole other thing.

I talk about the defeat that is necessary to ascend in the previous post. To reach the summit and the final realization requires a beat down. A humbling.


Yet if you do not give up, you reach your goal.

At the top, your scarf retracts. You don’t need it anymore. Your Self is one with God, as you are coming to realize.

Dumbo no longer needs the feather to fly because he could always fly already!


You walk into the white light where you will encounter the experience that will lead to the realization of the Self. Something wonderful will happen.


You pass into the final gap between the two poles of life and death. This is where you will fulfill the dream at the beginning of the game.

What does that mean?

Go back to the very first story-stone cutscene in the game, where you were shown what the mountain does. Life will return to the wasteland. The birds (the animals) and the plants will return. The people will appear (they will revive).

Do you see how important it is that you have gone on the journey?

143_thosewhodidntmakeitThis post is for people who have played or studied the Journey video game on the PS3. If you don’t know what this video game is about, check out the wiki article here.

Spoilers are a-comin’ in, so if you want to avoid major reveals then take the tape out now and vamoose.

One of the more interesting parts of the video game for me is the point where your character collapses on the slope of the mountain. There’s a lot of dialogue about what this moment means and how to interpret what happens afterwards.

The game takes an open-ended approach to interpretation, and this is one of its sources of appeal. A blank slate allows you to project onto it anything that suits you.

However, the choices you make in constructing a blank slate still reveal certain clues. Narrative choices, however vague, define and limit the available meanings. As a storyteller you can’t help but make “poker tells” along the way.

When I experienced the scene of my journeyer’s collapsed form, surrounded by the white robed figures, I broke down in tears. This is a moment I experienced in my real life, so I recognized what was happening immediately.

This is the final defeat, the last temptation, the lowest point.

What happened next in-game also resonated with me. Like my own experience, the journeyer’s soul is illuminated from within and you find a new experience of life. One that carries you past the last gap and into the new life waiting for you.

This is your moment of atonement, of bowing down low enough to allow the call to finally be heard.

What I find most interesting is how easily people interpret this part of the game to mean you died. In a game where you can travel like a bird and sing with a holy voice, it’s easier to believe you died and either went to heaven or were resurrected.

Not that others before you didn’t die. The whole side of that slope you climb is littered with gravestones. And I don’t want to ruin your experience either, but instead have you consider another idea.

The idea that in the moment where you couldn’t go another step you opened yourself to the divine and found in yourself resources that were provided all along.

It’s easy to see defeat as being like death, and in a lot of ways it is—you are forced to believe that your time has come and you are in need of help greater than you believe is within you. Will you give up?

Much easier to believe some outside force lifts you up and carries you the rest of the way, or that you are done and get to see the end as a consolation prize. At least then the blame falls somewhere else.

No. This is the most important moment of your life. If free will exists it is a very tiny thing, and so all the more important that you use what little you have. The entire world is waiting to see what you will do.

Joseph Campbell said, “The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”

Defeat is not a negation of your identity. It is a facet of your identity.

I’m going to break it down for you.

First of all, the game spells it out. You have to look closely at the clues, but it’s there. During the visions in which the story of the past is revealed to you, what a dead “Clothian” looks like is shown pretty clearly.


Face and body down, no spark of life in the heart space. In the ground.

Later on in the lighthouse you are shown the full majesty of your journey and what it is leading up to—your experience at the holy mountain.


You are on your knees; face bowed down, but your heart space still has the spark of life.


In the two player version of the game the second figure has their face up. This injects time into the narrative and suggests that the way forward means bowing down and then looking up, which is exactly what happens.

In the lighthouse, the vision story of your journey stops at the moment of your humbling before the holy mountain. This is because it’s not known yet what you will do. Will you give up and die? Will you finally heed the call with your whole heart? It’s the scariest moment because the outcome is in doubt.

If it was inevitable that you die then the vision story in the lighthouse would have reflected that.

Mind you, you can still cling to your “I died” experience if you want. The game doesn’t take that away from you. However, see what a brave step the game actually is taking! It is giving you an experience of wonderful healing and joy by showing you how it happens.

And here’s how it happens.

You’ve reached what you think is the last climb to the peak of the holy mountain, only to discover that it’s still far away. You climb the next slope as the worst blizzard of the game hammers you into submission. Lightning flashes and thunder roars. The two monsters are waiting overhead. Your scarf is blown away to shreds and you are frozen to the bone.

Somehow, you come through the storm, only to watch the mountain fade from view as a circular cloud formation whirls in the sky. You can barely walk, and are losing strength with each step. You are exhausted at last, despite all you have done.


This is the center of the storm. When the center passes and the storm begins again, it’s a fair bet that you may not survive. Either the cold will claim you or the monsters will be able to finish you off in your weakened condition. And you still have a long way to go!

You fall. This is as far as you can go as you are. Hopelessness seizes you.

For a while all is a blank, then some consciousness returns. You are on a flat space—you made it to the next crest somehow. Maybe you fell over because you were leaning against the slope and when it eased out you fell forward.


You are not alone. You were never alone. Are they angels? Ancestors? Sages? Regardless of who you believe them to be, something is different. You can see them now! Without the help of the story stones you used in the previous waypoints of your journey.

I think of the words of Carl Jung at a moment like this: “Christians often ask why God does not speak to them, as they believed God did in former days. When I hear such questions, it always makes me think of the Rabbi who was asked how it could be that God was manifest to people in the olden days whereas nowadays nobody ever sees God. The rabbi replied, ‘Nowadays there is no longer anybody who can bow low enough.'”

Are you not beaten? Is this not the lowest point you might reach?


The figures merely witness you, their alignment mirroring the climb you have made to higher levels of knowledge. Yet, knowledge alone is not enough. You must have understanding as well.


All around you the motes of the divine word fall amongst you, much like the snowflakes that pelt your exhausted frame. Always there, always calling. You heard, you awakened, and you made the journey. Yet still you did not heed. Until now.


You open your eyes. At last you finally see who is always there, for all people at all times. You don’t need the story stones anymore. You have atoned.


You rise from the depths, head bowed, humble, letting the call reach all the way into your heart.


The moment of enlightenment is here. Your scarf, symbol of your connection to the living spirit, returns and grows, and grows, and continues to grow.


Head still bowed, you see your heart is still alive, strong, glowing with the joy that is one with you now.


You return your attention to the journey. The last blow of the storm about to strike. On your knees, head bowed, you are glowing with the holy light that illuminates your soul. You have accepted the call all the way through.


Then, you fly. Through the center of the storm and across the gap to bridge heaven and earth. The dream at the beginning of the game is fulfilled. Your people and the divine are reconciled.


So strong is this opening of the heart and the hearing of the call that even the two monsters cannot harm you any longer. They try again and again to seize you, but their actions only bring them into the light where they are restored to their true forms. Your enemies. Your guardians of the gateway. Your friends.


You pass through the threshold into your new experience of life. You are almost to the top of the holy mountain! Your activities are now filled with a sense of awe and happiness, maybe some apprehension?

I am reminded of a narration from the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments: “Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for god’s great purpose, until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the maker’s hand.

And he found strength from a fruit-laden palm tree…and life-giving water flowing from the well of Midian.”

Have you not found the true source of all strength and life? Here the spirit creatures roam free, unsullied by human bondage. The only human structures here are the Tori gates, which are simple monuments to sacrifice and worship.

You are finally ready. At the top of the holy mountain you will realize your calling.

Have confidence! By all means we are living in a sad, pitiful wasteland of people who close themselves off. Yet still, a humble video game reminds us all that we can shine.

It can be done and indeed, will be done.

139_discoveryFor a long while I’ve been seeking an experience of The Diamond Island. That is, a mountain peak that exists within my inner world. Now I see that I’m already on the mountain. The things I was looking at were reflections of what was already there.

The black hole through space is a journey through the maelstrom of destruction, where what is true comes out the other side to a new existence. In the process many things are redeemed and made clear.

I’ve been fighting my ass off, struggling with opponents much stronger than I think I am. Both personal and collective engagements with the realities of my life, with different obstacle courses and challenges to pass through and overcome.

There are mysterious sources of power within myself I don’t fully understand. Yet somehow they come through for me, get me to the next pit stop and show me ways to push the limits of my being when I feel I haven’t any more to put into the work.

I’m listening to the personalities that help me run this psychic mechanism I use to get myself through the world. I have a lot of work to do there—people are unhappy with some of the stances I’ve taken and the way I go about things.

I don’t know where the UFO will land, other than home. Part of the stress I feel is in not knowing how things will end up, as the process is very much a push and pull in multiple directions at once. It will lead things to the right path, but it’s just one of those things you can’t predict until it happens.

Going over how to make things that are important to me now that I’m ready. Lucerna’s Mother-Mary-Personal-Helper training has given me something to focus on. Music helps me understand, but the practice is going to be a long one.

Out of the sea comes a nourishing goblet. Learning to drink from this source of refreshment, cultivate myself before I can encourage others.

I see that I do have an effect on the world around me. The places I find are brought out of myself. The things that move or are demolished are of a mind from me. Maybe they were messed up? Maybe things that reappear are okay now? The things I find will not be wrong.

The humming of bees, the helping of bees, the signs that bees are coming to the forefront of consciousness. This is important stuff.

The realization that the land inside me needs a brute conqueror king to bring the bounty out. My self image doesn’t like this figure, yet I manifest him anyway regardless of my hang-ups. To resist is only to become dishonest and incompetent.

A revelation of my personal destiny comes into view, right in front of me all this time. The signposts and helpers were there in abundance showing me the way: Imagination, family, and masculinity are the core of my being.

Movement and non-movement are also a part of this. I need to become more physical in my activity so that I can be at rest more wholly. A king needs a traveling the realm meditation to do his work properly. I must have been blind not to see this, yet again it happened with or without my knowledge. Better for me to see it now and make it a part of my conscious life.

I’m saying yes to many many things. I’m also learning to say fuck off to a lot of things I don’t need anymore.

136_ShivamessagebraceletI finished the Shiva message bracelet and rang that sucker in the sacred woods. The crown-grove with all the humongous trees that go all the way up.

It’s taken a long time for me to settle in to the fact that I’m whole, that I’m myself again. I really never expected this. I was resigned to doing the best I had with what I had left, because somehow I had found a trail within myself.

I think about my past self, and if he could only know what I’m feeling now. What I’m seeing. All I can do is send him encouragement and dreams to strengthen his being. I bless him with all my heart and soul, his desperate muddled seeking to understand and find himself whole.

What’s the blood of the dragon taste like? It’s like a heavy metal concert where you’re both audience and performer at the same time. You taste your own shadow and realize you’re only deceiving yourself if you think that by chasing an image of yourself that you can escape what you are. This is, in a strange way, a relief.

I’d thought the Shiva message bracelet was something you rang when you were done and then you got a message, but now it occurs to me that it’s more about sending a message—that I’m done with the quest. I’m letting good ol’ Shiva know that I’ve completed the assignment.

Now I’m sitting here, letting the change sink in.

117_menageriecat3The Battle of the Galaxies is complete. I’ve done what I came back to Portland to do.

Now I regroup, rest, and reflect. I have other tasks that require my attention. I’ll attend to them in the days to come.

Stay tuned; there’s bound to be some interesting revelations and strange happenings as the transmutation takes hold. This is the year of the snake, after all!

133_soundoftheswarmThe killer bees are swarming, the vuvuzellas are buzzing, the earth is glowing. There’s some serious party action going on here, kaboom kaboom thunder from beyond the deepest reaches of inner space.

The nightchild is dancing.

That Gingerbread Witch is screaming something fierce, but I keep on tending the fire of that brick oven. What a din! Fire good.

I hear the sound of a bell. Oh! Look, the Gingerbread Witch is done. All burned up to the crisp, nothing but ashes and smoke blowing in the wind.

Oh, and a number of gingerbread spider cookies hovering in the flames. I use my mother’s spatula to bring them out of the brick oven and onto a plate. One of them is the King Mahar cookie I must eat.

You see; if you slay the dragon you are obliged to taste a few drops of its blood.

There it is. Mmm. Tasty.

Hey, look. This Gingerbread Witch had a bunch of treasure in a flowerpot. K and I stuff our pockets. This is now an official cookie party.

Dance, killer bees, dance!

131_grrrsaysThere are countless hidden workshops, dockyards and sanctuaries in this world. If you’re fortunate you may get to see one of them and bear witness to its wonders.

At the heart of many of these concealed places is often a personality of power. Someone who naturally embodies or has attained a certain degree of mastery in learning, healing, and understanding.

J.R.R. Tolkien introduces good examples of this kind of archetype on a grand fantasy scale in his Lord of the Rings books. For example, the elf Lady Galadriel or the inscrutable Tom Bombadil. Hidden from the world at large, yet influencing it through their work, or as the case may be, their play.

The Starship Snipe has something resembling a beagle active probe in its sensor array, so my computer is always receiving sensor readings on hidden units. It’s good to be able to do the total dodge on incoming brain-drains. No pain-pain in the brain-brain for me, thank you very much!

However, there are also many hidden things that are delightful. Always remember to check for secret doors, so say I. Fabulous treasures beyond compare, beautiful places that defy description, and the most amazing people are all around us without our knowing it.

My wily and resourceful friend Kimaroo always has the scoop on interesting tidbits and clues of possible quest importance. She told me to check out this pirate queen’s puzzling website because it looked like my kind of thing. Hey, I’m all about deciphering the strange and elusive. Ogopogo? The Swamp Monster? Lemmie at ’em!


It’s been a long time since I ran into a direction confusion magic like this. It’s strictly old school D&D stuff that is difficult to throw off. Took me over a year to accumulate enough information about activity zones and artistic stance to fill out a character sheet on this pirate queen.

That’s when I got an invitation to visit her ultra-secret clearance level special project: Stompopolis.

What the hek is a Stompopolis, you ask? The Mr. Spock explanation is that it’s a playroom for adults who need a sacred space in which to work with states of creativity in safety.

It’s a zone in which folks can enter an open space of free imagination without jackup, and then withdraw to a closed space in order to reach creative goals without distraction. All while receiving wizard-level tools, training, and encouragement.

This is major civilization stuff we’re talking here.

To describe such a place feels almost like sacrilege. Stompopolis is a temple of childhood power, an explosion of details that wash over the senses even as an invisible aura of warmth surrounds and protects you.

There’s a gumball machine with special prizes inside, which is always a good sign in my book. There are small hidden doors for the fairies to use, which shows courtesy and foresight. Colorful flags and banners fly, which to me displays an appreciation for romantic pageantry. The pirate queen knows her stuff.

The place is filled like a sack of gold doubloons with goodies like this, yet through some miracle of transdimensional engineering has vast free space. There’s no foolin’ around here; this is adventure time that understands the need for “fun now”. All that “fun maybe” stuff was checked at the door and given a complimentary pizza with some cartoons to watch.

There are emergency nap hammocks, specially prepared retreat tents to hide in, and of course a friendly kitchen capable of summoning hot beverages when a break is called for. Doing nothing is the most important heavy lifting research and development you can do and this pirate ship of the mind has got it covered.

The super fun pack of creative supplies, the spontaneous free-flow of inventive activities, and the magic of self-discovery that emerges in a hallowed moment—these are things that simply have to be experienced to believe them. I can only speculate on what kinds of incredible marvels lay just beyond my gaze.

All this and a pirate crew to boot. Yarr!

Alas, I forgot my camera and tape recorder. When the time came for me to leave this playground of delight and my bumper car deposited me outside the invisible castle, I found myself with naught but the incredible experience of it. A worthy mystery nonetheless, and well satisfying to come upon too.

You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Then again, maybe YOU will happen across the mysterious Stompopolis and find the gold!

116_menageriecat2Today is my birthday. Holy cats, these things creep up on you like The Behinder!

Lots of new plant energy coming in as Spring activates more by the day. Winter Wolf is starting to get the sleepies; been a most mysterious and unusual Winter this time. Me, I’m just glad to still be kicking it and capable of having another round from the Slack Bar.

Great cards, including one with a Bigfoot on it that says, “Believe.” There’s a message I can believe in! Thanks Duke, you’re awesomesauce.

Speaking of Bigfoot, got the complete series of In Search Of… on DVD from K’s dad. I scored me the ancient tome of imagination and inner discovery. My kid self is squeeing loud enough to be heard all the way from the past, this is so cool.

Yeah, time to sit down with some eerie music, Leonard Nimoy, and crazy psychic investigation. This is the X-Files before the days of Twin Peaks, yo. I’ll be doing some serious wizard research with this pup, let me tell you.

Also cool, lots of well wishes from friends and family over on the social media channels. I’m always warmed and pleased by the words of the people I care about. That’s a reminder to count my blessings and give thanks for the gold in my life. That stuff shines brighter than any physical treasure.

In the meantime, I’m taking it low key and staying home to watch 22 minute episodes on UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, Ghosts, and the Abominable Snowman, among others. Tasty snacks, delicious beverages, cats all over me on the newly named Cat Couch, and K snuggled up with me under a blankee. Time to take some time and just be.

129_jackpotIf you need to allocate ship energy, then put main power into giveaways to strangers. That’s what I’ve found out while working on my personal potion of promotion.

I was putting main power into friends and family, since I figured they’d be the easiest and strongest advocates for my art. Certainly they have been supportive, but way less than I thought. I was kind of surprised, actually.

Ads seemed dubious to me, mainly because I had already read how the marketing landscape has changed in the last ten years. However, what do I know? It’s one thing to read about it, but another altogether to experience things for yourself.

Enter Goodreads, a website with about two and half million people who like books signed up. It’s a place where authors and readers can intermingle. Friends can share what they are reading with each other. Folks can rate and review the books they’ve read.

Basically, it’s BOOK MOUNTAIN on the internets!

I became a librarian and then an author on their site. Wooo! They have various tools I’ve been trying out to see how they work. This is worthwhile delving for clues because the audience is ideal and you can get stats.

The audience is made up of people who at least like the medium you are working in (books). And transactions can be measured to a certain degree through the website.

Both of these are assumptions, of course. I myself know how webstats don’t really tell you anything concrete—you make them up as you go along. And there’s no way to measure the intent of the Goodreads members, or to precisely quantify their creative agendas.

The sensor readings you pick up always carry with them the possible danger of getting it wrong.

Where Things Started
My book has been going nowhere. This is understandable because my promotion strategy from about April 2010 to September 2011 has been no-promotion. No technique, just posting and see what happens.

If it’s any good people will share and spread it right? Except my website has few visitors—less than 100 uniques a month for years which makes my website POOR on my own web ranking system.

So in September 2011 I get my book out on Amazon Kindle and then on Lulu as a print book. Approximately 50 likes on Facebook, two reviews on Amazon and two reviews on Lulu is all I get as far as reaction all the way into January 2013.

I already mentioned I sold about 32 copies and did a giveaway of 2 copies (which was on Facebook to friends and family, I failed to mention), besides giving 12 copies to friends/family I really liked.

So let us get the lead out and see what we shall see, right? RIGHT?!

Ads Are Only Worth Reserve Power
I ran an ad on Goodreads twice in 2012 for two months each, which was about how long it took for the credit to be used up. The first run was for fifty bucks of credit with a bid of fifty cents and a max bid of five bucks. The second run was for another fifty bucks with a bid of a dollar and the same max bid.

I did targeting to science fiction and fantasy members for the first run, and no targeting for the second run.

I got 500,597 views, 95 total clicks, with a click through rate of 0.02% and a cost per click of $1.07.

What did I get? One person added me to their to-read list—and they have hundreds of books on that list so probably not anytime soon if ever.

Hey, it’s something at least—and it’s data from which I can extrapolate what my overall success rate is with the ads. The add to the to-read list is pretty much as far as you can track for a transaction.

I think I estimated that I would need to spend at least fifty thousand dollars in Goodreads ads in order to get enough people far along in the transaction cycle to generate sales to see ultimately if it’s worthwhile.

I started another ad in February of this year—new copy, new image, with a hundred bucks of credit. I bid fifty cents, max spend of ten bucks, and no targeting.

After a week I’ve gotten 94,131 views, 28 clicks, and a clickthrough rate of .o3%—which looks to me to be only slightly better. I might do more refinements, but I expect I’ll only get incrementally small returns.

I’ll keep working on this, but at this point I can only see someone with a crack advertising team and/or a large budget as being able to break through with this system.

It’s a system for a handful of winners and a whole lot of losers.

Friends and Family Get Auxiliary Power
I’ve only got 9 friends and 1 relative on Goodreads, but I think it’s a more accurate representation of what I can expect in terms of potential audience engagement.

I got two text reviews and four ratings out of them (4 total reactions), so this mirrors how much interest I got out of my Facebook circle (about 40%).

I’m imagining that I’ll get half as much of even that engagement on the second book when it comes out. It’s just diminishing returns as far as reminding folks goes.

I mean, if I have to nag my friends and family to spend a few minutes clicking a rating line or writing a few sentences, what’s the point?

My guess is that friends and family are a one time only resource. Like a free healing potion every adventurer starts with on their book journey.

I use them up at the beginning to sustain my enthusiasm. After that, I have to fly on my own.

Damn, that is some sad commentary. But there it is.

Free Is The Magic Word That Gets Main Power
So I start this giveaway on February 13. It stays open until March 6. I make it open to folks in the US, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Five copies of the slightly revised Lulu print book (adjusted spine, a spacing issue resolved, and an actual ISBN), wooo!

So far 177 folks have signed up and that’s cool exposure. I at least know these are people who clicked “I’m interested in this enough to sign up for a free copy chance.”

And for some reason I can’t fathom, 76 folks have put me on their to-read list. WHUT!? That makes ads complete junk by comparison.

Granted, I’m on some to-read lists with hundreds of titles again. Not likely they’ll ever get to me. But their vote still counts in a nice unexpected way: people have suddenly voted me a safer bet.

What would you take a chance on? A person who has 2 people interested in them (probably their mom and best friend) or 76 people?

That’s the best feeling of all. All I want is a chance; if people don’t dig me after trying me then okay cool beans.

Mind you, I should also add that all of this is from the PROMISE of a free goodie. A lottery. we enter them everyday because even though the odds are against us we love to dream.

I should also add that over on Smashwords, the free ebook has gotten 259 downloads and is in 13 personal libraries since it was released on Dec 30, 2012. That’s the real free right there—more people have given me a try there than anywhere else.

So after this giveaway is done I’m going to do another. And another until I see where this thing plateaus out. It’s the most worthwhile thing I’ve done yet to promote my book and it only just started.

It’s just…better.

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