Give It a Try

My dad was a scientist, and two of my brothers are well qualified in the life sciences. My mom was something of a scientist too, in that she was always experimenting. If a recipe was good as written, would it be better with a little lemon extract to go with those blueberries? A different pie crust? Some ice cream?

I absorbed this habit of thinking experimentally, but I had not realized it until I joined some author loops. Much of the discussion is around effective marketing and promotion, and many of the questions asked are a version of, “What works? What boosts SALES?”

Some authors are vehement supporters of the idea that the first book in every series should be free. Other authors are equally convinced that approach devalues the brand and the content, and attracts people who expect something for nothing all along the way. Some authors swear by Facebook ads, other authors will go to the mat for Amazon ads.

One thing we know is true: If there were a magic formula, we’d all be following it (in which case, it would likely lose its magic in a hurry). My approach to the whole discussion is: Try it. Try making a book free and see if the series sell-through gets a boost. Try running some ads. Try focusing entirely on the writing. Life is long, take some time to mess around with this and that marketing approach…

I am the same way in the saddle. Does the horse react when I shift my weight from one seat bone to the other (not dignified, but it is effective)? Am I a better rider when I keep my eyes up? (YES.) When I keep my gaze soft? (Double YES.) Is the horse peppy today or just not feelin’ it? Did he get that vibe from me?

I try new routes, I read new authors, I pick up every craft book I can find, because who knows where my next authorial light-bulb moment or story idea will come from? Going through life like this means paying attention to results, to cause and effect, to the impact of my decisions on me and on others (especially my horse).

But I also like the sense of life being a big adventure, or maybe an on-going experiment around the question of how to improve on my current schtick. Maybe the quest today is to decide between coriander and cumin for a particular dish. Maybe it’s joining a reading group, or painting one wall of the living room green to see if that warms up the vibe.

Give it a try. Pay attention to the results. If you don’t like ’em, try something else…

Do you run little experiments? Big experiments? Has doing a trial run or a beta test ever served you in good stead? I’ll add three commenters to my Lady Violet Investigates ARC list. (That’s NOT the final cover, but I do love me some flowers.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

22 comments on “Give It a Try

  1. I suspect we musicians and artists are like our literary brethren about PR and marketing. What works to get the word out about our auditions/concerts? What doesn’t seem to make a difference? What got the word out this time but didn’t seem to NEXT time?

    We are constantly experimenting, trying new things, new venues, new ways of posting on social media or local news outlets, email blasts and, that tried and true way of doing things, good old fashioned snail mail.

    With my chamber choir, I’ve tried all of the above at one time or another and have had moderate success one time or another. My strategy has been to go with what I HAVE been doing BUT add one or two new ways each time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I’ve noticed a new outlet DOES work eventually, just not right away.

    My point is—I’m not afraid to try something new. With COVID, things have changed for my profession (singers have had it rough!)and I’ve tried new ways of doing things. Zoom sectionals or choir meetings make so much more sense in the middle of February in the Midwest—why didn’t we think of that before?

    Looking forward to your Lady Violet–I had a Great-Aunt Vi (we called her *Babe*) whom I loved. Such a sweet, old fashioned name!

  2. I do sometimes run experiments. For instance, when I decided I might be able to cut it in a Master’s program in Computer Science, I took the only required, and the only hardware-related, course first. I figured if I could get through that since it was also the course I felt would be the hardest for me (I’m a software person all the way), I would find out immediately if I was going to be able to do the work (not a spoiler if you’ve read my comments before but I did get through the course and the entire program successfully). I also needed to lose quite a bit of weight that I had put on through sheer laziness (I’m not a compulsive, in-front-of-the-TV eater but when I hooked up with my current partner who is of Greek heritage and is okay with doing all of the cooking, but also asks you if you want more when you’ve only had one or two bites, and it tastes so good, you say “yes”…, the weight just crept up and up). Anyway, I saw a PBS program about intermittent fasting and when I did some more research, discovered the 16:8 version. Back in my 20s, I never ate right away when I got up but waited a couple of hours so I thought maybe I could do it. Since I was working from home at the time, I also felt comfortable that if I got too hungry, the kitchen was just a few steps away, so I was able to try it. As it happened, after a short while of some discomfort, I did get back into that style of eating and, pretty effortlessly, lost about 80 pounds, even though I was over the age of 60. I have been doing it for several years now and am maintaining a good weight. Similarly with books, I usually pick up a new author based on an appealing cover (I admit Jon Paul’s artwork on “The Traitor” got me to pick up my first Grace Burrowes book). If I like the author’s voice, then I will start checking out her backlist and then I have a new favorite author (you know, like Grace Burrowes)! So I sort of experiment a lot. You never know if you’ll like something unless you try it (I’ve even tried foods I didn’t like when younger and some I discover I can eat now and some I still avoid, but at least I tried).

  3. I do try to tinker in most things, and take notes about what and doesn’t work. My problem is I’m not the most observant, and I feel like I often miss the effect that small tweaks in diet or habits cause. But I do enjoy being an N of 1!

  4. I come from a long line of people who’d mutter, “I wonder where that goes?” when we were on trips. If we had time & the interesting-looking road looked to be going in our direction, I’d hear the turn signal come on & off we’d go.

    My mission as a child was to watch the fuel gauge & remind the driver if we got to the last quarter tank so we didn’t get stranded on an isolated stretch.

    Those “I wonders” led us to fascinating shops, box turtles mid-road who needed rescuing, black bears, wading in streams, swinging bridges, collecting glass insulators off leaning or fallen Depression-era line poles, pie sampling in obscure roadside diners, exploring deserted homesteads where only a crumbling chimney remained… I MISS those adventures now interstates & wall to wall developments have turned a good part of the country into one continuous hive of people.

  5. Well, this isn’t near as creative as writing books or improving working with my horse, but I did try ordering my groceries online and having it brought to my car and have been very pleased with it. We have 3 dogs and many cats (including young kittens) and we buy more goods for animals than we do for people.

    I also work full time (still) and have been designing a new application at work. I found that using good old Microsoft Word to make a picture of how I want my screens and reports to look was more useful, quicker and easier to change, than the higher-tech options that I have. With those, I ended up doing more struggling with the software than designing. I guess I could call my attempts to use the other high-tech applications a trial run.

  6. The pictures of desserts which peppered this blog post spoke to me. I really love to cook and am alway experimenting with different combinations of ingredients. For a while we had a vegetable subscription service and it was always a “culinary challenge” to use everything up in a timely and tasty fashion. I often found myself with a little of this and a little of that, not enough of anything to really make a meal or even a side dish out of, so I began to combine things in new and fun ways. Thus roasted beet, mango and orange salsa was born. Served over a simple broiled fish steak? Yum! Roasted vegetable risotto was another win (really, how bad could any vegetable taste when surrounded by creamy, cheese rice?). Summer minestrone made an appearance more than once and was delicious (and different) each and every time, sometimes served with crusty bread and sometimes over pasta as a savory sauce. So, yes, I often do experiment with food, it usually works out, and we always get to eat the results, so it’s a win win! Stay safe everyone. Stay well! 

  7. I have moments of “yes, let’s do this new thing!”… but also moments of “nope, nope, nope! Let me have what I always have. Nope. Newness be gone!”

    In a way, I experiment every day with medicine. (This isn’t as dangerous as it sounds… but, the amount to give is up to me and I have to experiment based on about 42 different factors.) Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!

    One of my big (and slightly dangerous) experiments was deciding to learn how to scuba dive. I am a high risk candidate and had to get a doctor’s note that said I was healthy enough and capable of making decisions. Because, once you’re under the water enough, you’re under for at least a half hour-ish longer than when you decide to come back to the top. Well, that means that half hour could create a serious medical emergency (or worse).
    But, I _reeeeeally_ wanted to see the fishies under the water!!!
    So, I did everything everyone asked of me and did some scuba diving. There was one time where the instructor and my friend were ready to go diving and I tested and realized I couldn’t go. I said, “I can’t go… I’ll have to wait up top for you.”… but they waited for me to be able to go with them. 🙂 That was incredibly lovely.

    I don’t scuba dive anymore because I get horrible motion sickness… But, it was all worth it! 😀 😀 😀
    It was an experiment that taught me I didn’t have as many limits as people are always trying to place on me as long as I was smart about it.

    • Good for you to be sensible yet not letting yourself be unnecessarily constrained. Now I’m considering using a walking stick of some kind to help with my balance issues.

      • Thank you, Pam!!

        A walking stick sounds good!! …maybe you can even decorate it to your heart’s content. 😀
        Much luck to you on finding the right balance helper.

  8. I am trying to figure out why my corgi stresses out during obedience trials. I am taking lessons at a new facility with a new teacher and trying new training techniques. I registered for a trial in December with a different group. All new. It’s a learning curve for both of us.

    I am trying new recipes to keep on track with Weight Watchers.
    Some are hits, some are not.

    I changed up my reading, too. I read a 16 book series- contemporary romantic suspense. Same main characters in all books. Enjoyed each book.

    Have a a great week

  9. Trial runs and beta tests are always a good idea when possible in my opinion. Unless of course I’m cooking at home for the family in that case anything goes. If I’m doing anything other than baking, I don’t follow recipes exactly. I actually do try random experiments for other things like what I plant in the garden. Most of the time they work out well.

  10. My husband does things once in a particular way, then forever more that is how it is done. I am the opposite and always tinkering with recipes, driving routes, etc. (I keep it low risk for these whims) and though I am more careful with bigger decisions, I am generally open to a well argued and supported alternate plan even if it is a huge departure from an original plan or precedent. The new things you discover or encounter have always made the duds worth it.

  11. I am now retired, but when I was working with special needs kids in the school system I treated every intervention as an experiment. There can never bee a cookbook for helping kids with neurodevelopmental delays of various sorts. Humans are way too diverse. So I would do my best to come up with a theory of interventions and implement a program, but I would then be watching for signs that the system is properly engaged to develop. Over time some of my theories turned out to be consistently successful which was nice, but I still had to watch carefully for the kids who were traveling a different path.

    • I don’t believe there is any one discipline “theory” that fits every classroom, either… but “shotgun approach” is the wrong, wrong way to put it and this was long before Columbine et al.

    • LOL! Yes! Definitely counts. ;p

      (I can also tell you that an unintentional experiment with putting “pink” substitute sugar in a carbonated soda produces _really_ interesting result! I thought the waiter had given me tea, but not so… and a volcano erupted at the table! LOL 🙂 )

  12. After I retired I had several projects on the go .This was not my usual way of working.I plan research,price use the smart method and proceed with time scales.Being retired went to my head and I went crazy I replanted my garden with exotic plants ,had a summer house built I also decided to ‘re decorate my lounge and dinning area.The garden was a success the lounge a disapointment.The wallpaper wrong for the house.My house was a hundred and twenty Victorian terraced building that needed light and style.Not the wallpaper I had chosen.Modern loud and a mix of dark blue and pink My daughter remarked “had I been high on something”,I was quite put out.The wallpaper was a devil to strip off.Why did it go wrong,,,,I think I know,,,,Excitement of not working for someone else.Freedom to do whatever.Give it a try.I still give things a try but I do not forget my training.I did once and look what happened.So if the instructions say do a text before the real thing I do .Getting older doesn’t always make me wiser.I need help now and then. But I’m a ” give it a try gal”Enjoyed your latest book.A sweet love story to keep us warm Thank you Grace.

  13. How about a stump, a magnifying glass and a lovely wash-field-grove of violets…
    The little handful t reminds me of loss… you know. The dead kind!:)
    Thank you grace for taking me to nice places, with friendly peaple and thoughts of the need for, lack of… relationship!:)
    And food and flowers and birds and horses, chickens, Norse maine coon cats— is that what happened to the Danish cats from the vicarage cousins’ in A Rogue in Winter?