SOCIAL MEDIA Vs. SELLING BOOKS – THE GREAT DISCONNECT!

October 17, 2014

 logos

I have been reading a book this week about selling books on the Internet.  It has led to today’s posting, but I sense that my comments could be misinterpreted so I want to preface them with a few “bullet points.”  And they are…

  • Today’s posting is directed to folks like me…upstart indie authors/publishers
  • I really like social media and think it is a wonderful thing for so many people
  • I really think social media is not all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to selling product.
  • I am not sad, upset, distraught, sour-graped or otherwise disturbed about the challenge of selling my books…well, maybe a little.
  • I am curious, always, how I can better use the Internet to become a successful author

Okay, all that being said, here are some observations…

 *****

Sometimes I sense this beast called “social media” will someday self-destruct or morph itself into some entirely new form as people tire of its triviality, its redundancy and its sometimes just plain stupidity.  On the other hand, what do I know?  Perhaps it is just in its infancy and it will grow in volume and impact beyond anything imaginable.  For me, however, it remains a puzzlement much of which I…just…don’t…get.

True, there are many things about social media that I understand.  I clearly see how it comes into play when there is some kind of crisis going on in the world and people use it as a serious means of communication to get information out and, hopefully, awareness and support in.  I get that.

I know that many individuals enjoy sharing with friends and family things about their life and, likewise, hearing back same.  I get that.

I realize social media is an outlet for emotions—all of them, good and bad—and it can be helpful for people to emote rather than pile all that stuff up inside of them.  I get that.

I can see where teenagers spend an incredible amount of time texting each other, much like they used to tie up the family phone while they yakked away for hours about the latest goings-on at school or what boy did what with what girl.  I get that.

I grasp that social media can be a creative outlet and many people who would otherwise have no venue for their performance, can count on access to the social media stage.  I get that.

Okay, point made:   I understand why so many people use and value social media.  However, I use social media mostly for none of these reasons.  Now that I have become a writer of books, the industry constantly dictates to me that I will never ever be successful unless I am active on social media.  Hence, I must be on facebook, twitter, tumblr, linkedin, pinterest, google, instagram and whatever else is “hot.”  It is almost incomprehensible how many subscribers these social media have.  There is no doubt, if you post something on any of these sites you have the potential of exposing yourself—or at least your post—to hundreds of thousands of people. That is why people like me who have something to sell are advised to be ardent participants in these media. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…we are definitely supposed have a blog too.  It’s a pretty full plate.

Okay, I am still in the “I-get-it” mode, but it is from this point forward that there comes the disconnect.”  My question is “HOW?”   HOW does all this help me as a writer of books.  Few people know I exist on social media.  Few people read what I post.  Even fewer respond.  And, this is the important point:  just about no one makes the transition from seeing my presence on all these social media and then actually purchasing one of my books.

Fact is, there are simply too many people, too many books and too many other things for an unknown individual to compete with.  You have to be some kind of well known entity—a celebrity—for it to work at all.  Case in point:  John Green.  He’s the guy who wrote, among other books, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, a hugely successful best-seller, especially with the lucrative young adult female audience.  The movie version was released over the summer and you can now buy the video wherever videos are sold.  John Green is very successful.  John Green is very well known.  John Green is on tumblr.  If he were to post a picture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on tumblr and write underneath a caption that said, “this is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” he would get thousands and thousands of responses.  I, on the other hand, usually get zero response to anything I ever post on tumblr regardess of subject or “spectacularness.”  That’s because I am not a known entity like John Green and even a real picture of Jesus eating a Big Mac that I was lucky enough to shoot with my own camera would draw zero response, assuming I had such a picture and I posted it on tumblr.

I just bought a book that offers advice on how to improve book sales on amazon.com’s Kindle site.  A man named Michael Alvear wrote it.  He is the first person I’ve come across who agrees with me (or I him) that social media won’t sell product unless the “pitch” is something very different from the norm, such as: there is a very popular person involved in the selling process.  Celebrities are followed on social media by huge numbers of followers and, consequently, celebrities can draw huge response.  It’s a numbers game and while you may be able to enhance some things about your social media presence, you will not sell books in any great number, especially fiction, until and if you become a celebrity.

Thank you Michael Alvear.  I can now get on with my life and put away all the stress I’ve been experiencing trying to figure out why social media doesn’t sell my books.  Now I won’t feel like such a bonehead if I set up a table on the street corner, display some posters and have a few copies of my books available.  I bet I actually sell some.  If so, I’ll share the news on facebook and twitter and maybe even put a picture on tumblr.

******

Afterthought:  If you have a need to prove me wrong, that’s simple.  All you have to do is buy one of the books showcased on the right side of this blog.  Click on any and you will be gently transposed to amazon.com where you can learn more about the books and even purchase one.  ABOUT A FARM won an internatonal award last fall and I recommend it for early schoolers.  It’s higher priced than I prefer, but it’s in color so the printer charges more (I make about 2 cents a copy but I would be well compensated just to hear that children liked the book and maybe learned a little something from it).  Meanwhile, if you are an adult and can imagine reading a novel without the “F’bomb” appearing on any page, I suggest DEAD LETTER.  It’s a good mystery story with a mix of young love, World War II, parking in South Philly and a “holy crap!” surprise ending.


I WRITE…PEOPLE DIE! WAZZUPWIDDAT?

October 11, 2014

reaper copy

My God, I’m convinced I must have been a murderer in a previous life.  Here I am only paragraphs into writing my new novel and already I am plotting someone’s death.  I wouldn’t be so alarmed if I hadn’t already taken a few lives in my previous books.  I even killed off a hen in one of my children’s books.  What’s up with all this killing?  I am seriously beginning to think I should turn myself into the proper authorities and tell them it must have been me, whatever murder they have unsolved…yeah it must have been me.  This is serious stuff.

I always thought if I were to be a writer I would write fun stories.  Stuff like family sitcoms or happy Disney-type animal stories.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case.  This is my third adult novel I’ve begun to write and among them I’ve killed off over a half-dozen people—and so far there’s one more in the works in the pages I wrote today.

I got to thinking about all this, wondering what it means, if anything.  Of course it is not unusual that an author specializes in a particular genre.  There are many writers known for their mysteries or suspense novels.  Others are habitual shock masters.  And, of course, there are plenty of murder specialists.  Am I one of the latter?  My mother would be so upset.  She never let me play with guns and knives or poisons.  She even fought my father on the chemistry set.

There’s an old writer’s cliché that advises you to “write what you know.”  Wow, if I’m prone to write about a lot of people dying, it really pisses me off because I know a lot more about sailing.  I much rather write about sailing.  Of course, I’d probably have someone falling off the boat and drowning or being eaten alive by a shark.

There is one subtlety to my predicament.  Not all my victims have been murdered.  In fact, most have met with an unfortunate accident.  Let me think about that for a minute.  Hmm…uh-hum…yeah but…oh…oooh….wow!   Okay, I’m back now.  Here is what I’ve have concluded.  I am not a murderer; never have been.  I’m just a death enhancer.  I enhance circumstances that lead to death.  There is no intent involved and there is no way that I can anticipate what action of mine is ultimately an enhancer of circumstances that leads to someone’s death.

I feel better now.  I think I have cleansed my guilt.  I no longer feel responsible for the sad demise of any of the characters in my books or elsewhere.   I didn’t cause their deaths.  I only made them up and then wrote about them.  It’s the old “don’t kill the messenger” thingy.  Oops…did I say “kill the messenger?”  Hey, I’m the messenger.  Uh-oh did I just enhance a circumstance?

*****

Here is my newest kid’s book in which no one dies….well, wait a minute.  It is possible that a few tadpoles maybe didn’t make it.

lateraltitle copy


A LETTER TO MYSELF IN MY NEXT LIFE

October 7, 2014

Yellow Legal Pad Corner Paper Page Curl

I have decided it is time to write a letter to my next self.  Let me hasten to say that I do not believe in reincarnation one way or the other, but I do always like to be prepared.  So, in the event I have the opportunity to do this thing all over again sometime in the future, I thought it would make a lot of sense if I wrote myself a letter with some tips.  You know, some basic advice as to how to go about it the next time around and avoid some of the annoyances and search out the better things.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  Wouldn’t you like to have some directions next time?  So, here goes…my random list to my next self.

  1. Try hard to get a mother who gently wakes you in the morning and then prolong that routine as long as possible, even to after you’re married if you have to. There is nothing worse in life than something called an alarm clock.  If gentle mom will stick around, that’s the better way to go.  Delay owning an alarm clock for as long as possible.  In fact, if you can persuade your mother to bring you a fresh cup of coffee when she comes in to wake you, that is what’s known as going first class.
  2. If you must purchase an alarm clock, NEVER NEVER NEVER get one with a loud buzzing or shrill beeping alarm. Instead, buy a clock with as gentle-sounding alarm as possible, preferably one that chimes or plays a quiet little melody.  I bought my daughter just such a clock that played a very peaceful version of “Here Comes The Sun” and it was the nicest alarm clock I ever found…if there is such a thing as a “nice” alarm clock.
  3. Try to be born into a family that lives in a warm to moderate climate zone. Avoid cold areas altogether.  Cold is not in your genetic makeup.  If you have a childish need to play in snow, convince your parents to take winter skiing vacations.  Trust me, not owning a snow shovel or a hat with those flappy ear thingies will not be a loss.
  4. If you have a sibling, attempt to influence your parents to have one that is within two years of your birth. If a sibling is close to your age you may get along better and actually be good playmates who share the same interest and friends.  If the sibling is the opposite sex, you may not spend as much time together doing things, but when the teen age years come the sibling will be a good source for exposing you to members of the opposite sex.  Having a sister is especially exciting because there are usually lots of your sister’s friends coming to the house.  Make sure you act the cute cuddly younger brother or the hot, good-lookin’ older one, whichever applies.  Be adorable and likeable and not the dorky brother…it could pay off big time.
  5. Unless your mother is really cool, always try to go clothes shopping with your father. He will usually let you pick the clothes you want and you will probably be able to get a few extra things that your mother will always say they can’t afford.  In fact, avoid shopping with your mother as much as possible.
  6. You will probably have to take algebra in high school. Unless this time some alien math gene has surfaced in you, avoid algebra at all cost.  You likely will not pass it or need an expensive tutor.  The teacher will tell you over and over that it is critical and you will use algebra throughout the rest of your life.  Don’t believe it.  It’s a bunch of crap.  You will never use algebra again.   Spend the time learning Spanish or html.
  7. If you are born an American again, understand that balls are one of the ultimate tools of success. Wait, let me clarify that…Theses Balls:  a baseball, a basketball and a football.  Make sure you always own one or more of these and practice with them often.  The better you can catch, throw, or get the ball through the hoop, the easier it is to make friends, the more valuable you are when a team is being chosen, and when you get older, girls will admire you more.  If you still don’t have enough athletic skills to master these three balls, then you better be really skillful at something else, like playing the drums, skateboarding or hacking computers.
  8. Learn well how to play an instrument at a young age. Keep practicing as you get older.  Playing an instrument well will give you great self-satisfaction and gain you admiration and envy from others.  In fact, if you are really good, join a rock band and befriend a really successful record producer.  If you can sing, by all means exploit that and don’t be shy.  It could be big bucks, opportunities to meet lots of young ladies and a secure future if you play your cards–and your instrument–right.
  9. I’ve got lots more advice for you so look for more lists…but there is one thing that’s very important that you must make sure you do and it’s this: have all the fun you want when you get interested in girls, but never never never give up trying to locate the new Rosemarie, whoever she’s turned out to be the next time around, assuming she’s still a girl and not a turtle or something.  Make any sacrifice to woo and win her over.  She must eventually be your wife again.   You will absolutely find no better even if at first you think her breasts are a little smaller than you’d prefer.

– Wishing you good luck and lots of Chunky Monkey!

                                      Love,

                                              Me, Yourself and I

*****

 

DeadLetter8

Make someone remember you in their next life.  How?  Just get them a copy of DEAD LETTER.  This book has such an incredible holy crap! ending the person will never forget it, nor you for getting them a copy….available at amazon.com

*******


BUCKLE UP SPARKY…WE’RE STARTING A NEW BOOK!

October 4, 2014

LogjamMen

At last…I have come unclogged.  I have had a long dry spell but the rains have returned.  After months of writer’s block the logjam is finally freeing itself and the seedling of an idea for my next project has at long-last ascended out of the depths of my brain, acquired its own soul and is ready to take flight.  What I’m saying here is that for most of the year I haven’t had a viable idea for a new book.  Today that is over.  The idea is in hand and in brain and I even put it down onto paper so I would not forget it.

Actually, I have had an inkling of an idea since last year but I was not able to work out some serous kinks that came with it.  Plus, it dealt with a subject matter that I have very little knowledge of and while I am not afraid of tackling heavy duty research, the whole concept scared me and I worried about making a serious mistake.  What took so long was finding a way of filtering out this cantankerous obstacle while still maintaining the main gist of the idea.  That is what finally came to me this week as I peddled my bike around its routine six mile trek through my neighborhood.  Finally my exercising paid off.

There is, however, still one element in the book that scares me a bit.  It’s a sex scene that has to take place and, so far, I have avoided putting one in any of my books.  Oh, I’ve written a passionate moment here and there, but never a serious down and naked hot-wired body-to-body sweaty encounter.  Given my old-fashioned stiltedness and respectable reputation, writing about the sexual act itself should prove challenging.  Well, maybe not that challenging.  I cannot help but wonder how my wife will accept it all.  What will my kids think?  Anytime I start talking about sex they are quick to advise me to “share, not scare.”  So this exercise should prove interesting—the old man writing a hot ‘n heavy sex scene.  It comes early in the book so I guess I should get busy with some serious forethought…or is that foreplay?

Now, I know you must be curious about what the new book will be about.  So am I.  I know that it will probably take place in current time, or at least within the timeframe of my life so I will not have much historical content to worry about.  It’s a family story but the focus will be on a father/daughter relationship.  There will be good times/bad times and maybe even a dead body thrown in for good measure.

So now begins the flushing-out stage.  I have to put some serious time into getting the story lined up in proper order.  The characters need individual development, both in body and soul.  All the details have to become embedded in my head so I have at least some direction to meander toward.  Yep, this is one of the exciting parts of writing a book; time to wake up and rev the idle engines and prepare for take off.  But first…some chocolate.  Yes, it’s part of the process.

 

 *****

Here is your assignment for today:  Find a kid–any kid–preferrably one between the ages of 8 and 12.

Make the kid happy.  How?  Buy the kid a copy of this book…

lateraltitle copy

“It was an amazing book.  I loved it!  It made me laugh so many times.”     Madison Dunbar, 11, Texas

****


LOST GENERATION FOUND…WHODDATHUNK!

September 28, 2014

Silent Found

I have often been accused of being aloof and sort of out of touch sometimes.  In fact, after a few years my one boss began making it a point of telling me things directly because I had built this reputation of “always being the last to know.”  After today I have decided that is an apt phrase to hang on me.  What happened today?  I found my generation.  I what?  Yeah, I found my generation.  I never thought I had one and now, almost 70 years in the making, I have found my generation.  Worse yet, it was there all along; I just hadn’t discovered it.  See, “always the last to know.”

Okay, I guess I have to explain this a bit further. It’s all a matter of timing and, in this case, it had to do with my parents’ timing since my birth date is the determining factor.  I was born in 1945, four days after World War II ended in Europe and another three months before it was over in the Pacific.  My parents’ generation became known as “The Greatest Generation.”  This is the label that stuck after newsman Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book by the same title.  He declared those who came of age during the great depression and went on to fight World War II as being of the greatest generation.  This generation, after coming home when the war was over, got busy making a whole new huge bunch of people.  These folks were later designated as “the baby boomer” generation since there were so many of them born within a short period of time beginning in 1946.

So if you were born before the war you were among the greatest generation and if you were born after the war you were declared a baby boomer.  But what about me?  1945 was right in the middle of these two clumps of humanity.  There has never been a designation for my generation.  I have wandered around this good earth all my life as a man without a generation, a man on his own, a man with no direction home, a complete unknown…like a rolling stone.  Sorry, I got carried away.

So get this: today, I’m reading a random excerpt from an obscure random book and there it is—right there on the description of the book—it talks about “The Silent Generation. This generation, it says, were the kids born 1926-1945.  See that: “1945” is actually stated.  It’s no longer left in limbo dangling between the greatest ones and the boomers.  1945, indeed, has a generation of its own and it was ….silent!  That explains exactly why I never heard of it; it’s been silent all these years.

Now I’m hungry for more information so I start poking around.  It seems the silent generation got its name from two different reference points, depending on which one you want to go with.  One source points simply to the fact that these kids were the well-behaved ones.  They were the children “seen but not heard.”  Hence, the silent generation.  Well, that certainly describes me because I’ve always been well-behaved.  The other attribution credits the Joe McCarthy years of social paranoia in this country.  McCarthy was a U.S. Senator who went on a crusade declaring just about every celebrity and well-know American as being a member of the Communist Party.  He was so successful in creating a national rage that many folks of my generation simply clammed up.  We allegedly became reclusive and avoided socializing for fear of being labeled as a Communist.  We were…silent!

Well, I really don’t care how the term originated.  I am simply elated to finally have a known generation that I am a part of.  And what a cool generation to belong to.  I come from greatness and I lead into the big boom!  True, once again maybe I’ve been the last one to know about all this…but I shall not be silent about it any longer!

*****

Do you like the sound of children laughing?  Then get them a copy of

lateraltitle copy

“It was an amazing book.  I loved it!  It made me laugh so many times.”     Madison Dunbar, 11, Texas

*****


WE WON WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY!?

September 24, 2014

MovingVan

My wife Rosemarie has developed a heretofore dormant desire to move. I am not sure if she is just in want of a little change like moving the furniture around, or if she is truly in dire need to reestablish our entire environment.  HGTV is not helping.  They are currently running two contests that Rosemarie is entering as often as possible. One is for some fancy foo foo two-thousand square feet located thirty-some stories up in a downtown Atlanta condo.  Then, there is one of those cable TV shows whereby a couple is selected and they go house-hunting with a realtor. The latter will attempt to convince them that their list of must-haves is a joke and they better choose which of three houses they’ve toured into which they want to sink a mortgage by the end of the last commercial break.  Oh, did I mention that this particular real estate opportunity is in Hawaii?  Yeah, the very same place where Rosemarie has been wanting to live since she conceived the idea while we danced at her prom back in the 1960s.  Yes, that’s true, I was her prom date that long ago.  You’d think I would have moved us to Hawaii by now.  I am such a jerk.

Okay, it goes without saying that we have never won anything much more than a free lottery ticket.  Oh wait, I have to correct that.  I once won an expensive fire-engine-red leather golf club bag with Coca-Cola’s logo on the side.  Everyone at the business luncheon that day wanted to win it and I am surprised a fight didn’t break out when I held up the winning ticket.  I didn’t dare mention to anyone that I thought the golf bag was God-awful gaudy not to mention I have never played golf and didn’t intend to either.  The bag sat in my closet for a few years and then I finally donated it as an auction item for a charity event.  Cancel the jerk reference above.

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, like I said, we have never won anything much.  So I figure one of these prizes will finally be it—either the dazzling condo in Atlanta or the tropical paradise in Hawaii.  I don’t know where in Hawaii the prize is for, but if we have a choice I will select Maui.  That’s because a high school classmate of mine lives there.  I figure it’s always good to know someone nearby when you move to a new, strange place.  This past year my classmate friend and I have exchanged e-mails every now and then, leading me to the comment that we have talked more to each other in the past few months than we did in four years of high school.  Fact is, I was surprised she even remembered me since I was such a low-profiler back then…still am.  She, on the other hand, wasn’t.  She was a hottie foo foo cheerleader with multiple pictures in the yearbook.  Imagine that–now after all these years, we could be neighbors if Rosemarie wins the prize, if the realtor finds us a house by the last commercial break and if all the other gazillion pieces fall into place.  I may even try to get my friend a cameo appearance in the TV show.  I wonder if she still has her pompoms.

Now, all this is fun speculating about moving somewhere new, but let’s face it, that’s the big cog that jams up this entire wheel—moving.  We’ve been in this house for 18 years.  That’s the longest we’ve been in one place since we got married…and you know how long that’s been!  The mere thought of having to purge and pack up this house is enough to set my arthritic hands into long-term tremors.  I like to think of myself as flexible and not set in my ways, but the older I get the more ways declare themselves set.  The only move I’d be agreeable to right now is one that goes inward toward the table for dinner at a nice restaurant.  Followed thereafter by a long period of immobility.

As you can see, all this has me a little anxious.  Every day Rosemarie puts another entry into these two contests and now she’s beginning to go through the initial mental list-making of things we have to do to get ready for the big move.  She figures it’s a good possibility given the number of entries she’s been stuffing into the HGTV website.   Meanwhile, I have been going back and forth trying to decide which location would be the lesser of the two evils, should we win of course.  Atlanta is a hell of a lot closer than Hawaii and I don’t mind living in a sexy downtown hi-rise as long as the neighbors are nice.  But then, Atlanta will be a lot colder than Hawaii and I hate the cold now that I’ve been living in Florida for centuries.  Plus, there’s another negative about Atlanta now that I’ve had time to think about it.  There’s no pompoms there.

*****


MY THOUGHTS ARE ON THE LOOSE…HERE THEY GO!

September 20, 2014

 

random

I think I shall ramble a bit on today’s post.  I was sitting in my thinking chair for only a few moments this afternoon so it was hard to get a coherent thought stream flowing.  We’ve had rain every day for what seems months.  It doesn’t last long; sort of like having mini-monsoons coming and going continually throughout the day and night.  So the weather has kept me inside without my thinking chair which results in my mind hop-scotching all over the place.

The first place I landed was on an incredible story out of Austin, Texas.  It seems the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has decided to withdraw a proposal that would have allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages at gun shows.  Seems there were even enough cowboys in dem dar parts who spoke up saying they didn’t think that was such a good idea.  “Dern tootin!” is what I say.  In fact, I’d be happy to make the posters in case there was going to be a demonstration.  Mine would have said “Alcohol and guns don’t kill people; drunk people with guns kill people!”

Being among the children of the last generation to feel the brunt of his father’s boot or the sting of a belt on the butt, I cannot help but wonder if most of the parents of my generation would wind up in jail today for some of the physical remedies they dished out for a child’s bad behavior. Like any normal person I certainly don’t condone physical abuse of a spouse or child, but personal history tells me being physical with a child is not always being abusive.  I got to thinking about all this after all the child abuse turmoil in the National Football League this past week. Times has changed.  I remember my mom being so angry with my brother and me that she took a full swipe at us with a soup ladle she happened to be armed with at the moment.  My brother took the brunt of it and I just picked up the tail end of its whizzing by my cheekbone.  I know we must have hit her tipping point with whatever it was we did.  But truth be told, I’d pay a million bucks to relive that moment just to have the chance to see her again. But that kind of physical reprimand seemed to work in my childhood days when one of us kids went too far.  And guess what? …we got over it and still loved our parents.

I am happy to report that, as discussed in a posting last week, that all my annual humongous bills are arriving on time.  I have gone ahead and started paying them and I am pleased that I have had to rob only two banks this week.  I did take a break, however, and put the remainder of the bills back in the drawer to marinate for a few days more.  Maybe they will reduce down a little and become more checkbook friendly…though I think not.   I dutifully informed the household that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would be the kitchen’s featured item for all meals over the next several months.  The cost of cold cereals has become prohibited.

I have been rarely dedicated to the television all this past week.  I have been watching the Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts.  As yet one more sign of my growing old, no one, especially anyone under 40, in my surroundings has been interested.  I have watched alone, appreciating every moment of what was probably the most incredible era in my lifetime, albeit I was born at its end.  But in my solitude I have come to realize that not only do individuals fade into history, history itself fades into history.

ToniFiledsmOur cat, Toni, is just off to my left as I write this posting.  She is there just about every hour I am sitting here tapping away on the keyboard.  I’ve had pictures of her on my post before, but here is one more.  This is where she stays at my side, crammed into the top of my file tray.  It is unbelievable that she finds it comfortable.  Toni is not a friendly cat.  She swipes a paw and offers up a hiss at just about everyone who comes near—except me…most times.  I do not know why she has singled me out as the only one she tolerates and “blesses” with her constant companionship, especially since I am the one who was most opposed to her joining the family.  For some reason I guess she thinks me the cat’s meow.  Me thinks she needs a thinking chair to think it over.

*****

 


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