Digital Detox Time

My Self Prescribed Digital Detox

Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Instagram. Pinterest. Facebook. Snapchat… This is the endless cycle I find myself repeating for hours every day. At 24 I am CONSUMED by media. If I’m not on my phone looking something up then I’m on my laptop scrolling through endless content. I can’t escape cyberspace. More often than not social media is flooded with either horribly painful news that makes me question the state of humanity or doctored up photos that makes me question what I’m doing with my life and how I look. It’s exhausting and draining to be consumed by such a beast, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. I need a digital detox.

“To remove social media from my life would be like cutting off a appendage that is poisoning me, I know I should do it, but I can’t bring myself to.”

I grew up in the early 90’s, which means as I emerged into adolescence and adulthood so did the monster of the internet and the boom of social media. At this point for me and my generation, social media is an extension of us and our personal brands. To remove social media from my life would be like cutting off an appendage that is poisoning me, I know I should do it, but I can’t bring myself to.

So how do you not let the internet consume your life? Digital detox.

It would be foolish to tell you to completely cut yourself off from your phone. But detoxing can be another solution. Like we detox toxins from our bodies we also need to digitally detox and clear our minds from the constant stream of information. Why? The average person spends four hours a day on their phones. Along with that shocking statistic another is that the average American checks their phone over 150 TIMES A DAY unconsciously! As someone who works in media and loves to be in the know detoxing seems like a near impossible task for me. It led me to wonder, how do you start to consciously unwind yourself from the constant need to know what is going on while still maintaining your online presence?

Some ways I try to detox social media from my life:

  • Delete negative people. Like spring cleaning your house, cleaning out your social media gives you a chance to take into stock what you really want to see and eliminate accounts that cause negative feelings.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode. By doing this your phone is still on but the need to check your notification disappears by not allowing any notifications to pop-up until you turn this mode off. This takes away the sometimes constant nagging need people have to check their phones.
  • Turn your phone off for an hour a day. By turning off your phone it becomes more of a hassle to turn it back on and check social media than to just scroll through your notifications with it on. Try doing this a few times a week and see if it makes a difference for you.

By the end of your digital detox you should be feeling refreshed and a little more at ease!

Author of "Clearly Now, The Rain" - Eli Hastings

Eli Hastings talks ‘Clearly Now, the Rain’ and the emotional challenges he faced publishing his book

Eli Hastings didn’t write ‘Clearly Now, The Rain: A Memoir of Love and Other Trips’ to be published. After the death of his best friend and lover Serala, he followed through on his promise: “If you die, I’m going to write a book about you.”

Once he was ready to share his story and publish his book, he found reaching readers was more difficult than he expected. We asked him to share his story and what he learned through the process.

Eli Hasting's Book - Clearly Now the Rain


 On the woman who inspired the book:

Eli Hasting's friend and inspiration of his book – SeralaIn 1996, I had the great fortune of finding a best friend and lover that would transform the way I lived, loved, and looked at life. We had a wild ride, literally and figuratively, over nearly a decade and through many storied cities and many traumas and adventures. I had always told her that if she died (which was always likely) I would write a book about her.

I didn’t know that I really would until she died quite traumatically and inconsiderately on my watch between Christmas and New Years of 2004. Then I knew that I had to write the book to heal myself from the grief, despair and trauma of her passing.

On the publishing experience:

At first I didn’t think I wanted to publish the book, once I decided to it took me no less than eight years, two and a half agents (long story), some fifty rejections and seventeen revisions I think most of the healing happened in the writing, but I have found that a considerable amount has also come from sharing the story of my friend, sharing the lessons she taught me about how to live and love (and how not to.)

On getting attention and promoting the book:

I was surprised at how little my publisher did to promote the book. It seemed like all they did was send the book out to all the national reviewers. I didn’t know I needed to think about my own marketing and I didn’t even know how to do it. I had to seek outside help.

What I’ve seen really work is writing short pieces for national publications that draw attention back to the book and platform. I’ve also enjoyed that process.

On the challenges he faced:

The biggest challenge has been the emotional toll of working so hard to attract readers and how easily you can get dissed. For example, I had so many challenges scheduling readings in bookstores that we started trying bars. In some ways, we found those even work better! You’ve got to get out and stay outside the box.

I also needed help with organization, prioritization, connections, diplomacy, and new ideas. But most of all, I needed empathy for how frustrating the process can be. Self-publishing has changed the entire playing field. People who can barely craft a sentence might be kick-ass at self-promotion online and make lots of money. In short, the market is flooded with both crap and gold with both self-published and professionally published e-books that don’t cost publishers anything.

On what’s important:

The most meaningful experience for me has been reading messages from people who were moved by my book and needed to tell me so. There is nothing more important to me than knowing that the book has reached people in the way I hoped it would.

Consistent engagement online and in person with your readers is incredibly important. Finding ways to engage people that aren’t always focused on you and your work is indispensable too.

Knowing what I know now, I would have started marketing as soon as my contract was signed for publication and had a plan ready in advance. I would have been clear about what I was good at and capable of and what I really needed to let others handle. I would have planned a very strategic book tour even if it cost me a good bit of money to breathe life into the book from different places.

It’s important to understand what to expect from the beginning or make a plan so you feel like you know what to expect. I’ve learned a lot through this process thanks to those who have helped me, my readers, and of course — Serala.

If you would like to hear more about ‘Clearly Now, The Rain’ listen to Eli’s interview on KUOW
Connect with Eli on Twitter @elihastings23 and on Facebook

Note from AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips:

You’ve gotta give Eli a lot of credit for working through the negative emotions he felt after receiving the message from his publisher saying that their promotional campaign had come to an end. Fortunately, Eli took a great proactive approach, and immediately got to task working on his own marketing plan and promotional tactics to fill in the void. His efforts really paid off when he was chosen as one of 13 artists in 2013 poised to shape the future of the arts in the Pacific Northwest
Readers and aspiring writers can take some lessons from his experience. For starters, hard work does pay off, but often not immediately. Eli’s book had fifty rejections and seventeen revisions, but the silver lining is that his publisher produced a remarkable work. 
If you’re an author and your book has yet to be published, talk with your publisher and ask if they have created a marketing plan. Open yourself up to assisting with that plan and providing your own expertise into your specific target audience. Then, when the natural course of their marketing efforts come to an end (as they always do) you are more prepared to take the reins in your own hands. You’ll feel empowered and grateful that you did the heavy lifting early on.
Late Lights – a Novella in Stories

‘Late Lights’ Author Talks Adolescence, Challenges the Landscape for Writers Today

Late Lights, a novella in stories that explores the intensely difficult and complicated realities of adolescent experience, has won two Indie Book Awards. Even with awards, authors face increasing challenges getting their books in front of audiences. We asked Kara Weiss, author of ‘Late Lights’, to share insights she gained through the process.

On the inspiration behind Late Lights:

There is so little realistic literature about adolescents for adults, and I think this is a huge problem. The rift between adolescents and adults (which often results in screaming matches) stems from a lack of understanding. Adolescents are commonly cast off as melodramatic. Not being taken seriously can be torturous for youths rushing with hormones. Their brains are changing and they’re trying to figure out their identity. Many teens are dealing with very adult problems, yet lack the resources to address them.  I had my own challenges as an adolescent. When I was little my mom used to tell me: If you don’t like someone, just get to know them. Parents need to work harder to understand their children at this time.

On winning an award for her first book:

Winning the Indie for Late Lights has been one of the single most important events in my professional life. Writing is such an isolating experience, and it’s so easy to doubt yourself. Winning was validation that professionals in the industry valued my work. For a writer, that’s huge.

On promoting the book:

My publisher promised to help create a book I was proud of in content, layout, and cover art. Once the book was launched, however, most of the promotion was in my hands. They sent Late Lights out for reviews, but it was up to me to create buzz, and get the word out. Sales stalled after my book tour ended and the initial buzz died down.  Everyone seemed ready to move on, except me. I knew enough about marketing to know I hadn’t done much of it.

I did know that I needed to get people talking about my book again and that reviews were important. I also knew that social media was an important tool, but I wasn’t sure how to do it all and knew I needed help.

On the challenges she faced:

Late Lights is a collection of linked short stories. That format puts off a lot of people. It’s also a book about adolescents, but for adults. It takes extra convincing to get adult readers interested in adolescents (a problem which was part of the inspiration behind Late Lights).

Also, marketing a book is challenging because a reader is never totally sure what they are going to get. They are taking a chance when they buy a book. So many other books are being marketed and you have to, somehow, get noticed.

On what Weiss learned writing and promoting her first book:

I knew my book would be characterized as literary and that it was challenging content, so I assumed my readers would be literary types. I was so wrong. As it turns out, Late Lights has much broader audience – especially among those who feel called out by the book. I’ve heard from parents who’ve read the book that they could have been much more empathetic to some of the kids their kids went to school with.

I’ve also learned that marketing your book can’t be entirely outsourced. Authors need to work with their PR reps as a team to authentically engage fans and potential readers. I was surprised to learn how much money publishing houses put behind their books and that they rent the display tables at the entrance Barnes & Noble.

Knowing what I know now and how hard it is to compete for attention I would have started much earlier.

You can follow Kara Weiss on Twitter @troubler

Note from AM:PM PRs Mike Phillips:

Marketing a book is not easy. Authors tasked with self-promotion must solicit reviews from an ever-changing media landscape with fewer opportunities. New publishing platforms, editing technologies, and distribution from services like Amazon, Indiebound, Apple, and Barnes & Noble make it simple for anyone to self-publish a book and distribute it worldwide. The flood of new authors means more competition. A reviewer at a major daily newspaper once confided in me that he receives hundreds of books per week for potential review. How can anyone succeed in this environment?

Fortunately, where new challenges emerge there’s always new opportunities. Search engines are valuable tools to research and discover new avenues for authors to reach their target audiences. Talented authors like Weiss find that if they roll up their sleeves and get involved as content creators and thought leaders they can engage audiences more effectively . A dynamic website and and active social media presence will amplify all other efforts. The same foresight and planning applies to authors as to businesses. Kudos to Kara Weiss for her media savvy, creativity and dedication to sticking with it. 

You can follow Kara Weiss on Twitter @troubler