Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Reddit is pretty cool. It’s a massive online community with countless  forums devoted to different topics.

I’m hosting an AMA (“ask me anything”) in the r/Fantasy forum as an independent author who debuted my first novel this year. Here’s the link to the thread, and you’re invited to participate or just read along if you’re curious about my book or indie publishing. You can also win a trade paperback copy of my book.

So far, I’m the only indie author who has hosted an official AMA in this huge r/fantasy forum. It’s incredible to see my name on the list of AMAs with Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss above, and Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson below. One of these names is not like the others. Thanks for your support, r/fantasy!

p.s. 2012 is gonna kick ass. Thanks to Monique Martin for the graphic.


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This morning, I decided to start a thread at the Writer’s Cafe at Kindleboards. It turned into this (I’ll just reproduce the post here).

On Facebook, someone said:

“I give my boss (who owns a small editing company) a weekly update of all the hot topics in book publishing news, and I get so tired of reading about people recommending self-publishing as essentially another get-rich-quick scheme. I feel like it’s all about the business end of things rather than the honor and prestige of producing a quality piece of literature.”

To me, this rings true. I understand that we’re mostly interested in talking about the business end of things over here (I like to talk about these things too), but that’s really the point. Indie authors are for the most part, all about the business end of things. Does this help us when readers see this? Does this help us in reality?

Why aren’t we talking–with other writers, on our blogs, on Facebook and Twitter–about books that have inspired us, whether classics or recent indie works? Why aren’t we analyzing what goes into great writing, great scenes, great characters, great plots, great dialogue. Why aren’t we lauding great books over great sales, at least more often than we do? Do we love words or do we love numbers? Poetry or spreadsheets?

We all have different goals and we’re all in different situations. I don’t believe that anyone’s goals are better or more important than anyone else’s goals. I have enough trouble judging the worth of my own goals. Entertaining thousands of readers through a combination of good books and smart marketing is a worthy goal, period. I think most of us want to write the best books we can and market them as well as we can so that we can reach more readers and make more money.

But, I offer this question: what is your heart’s desire as a writer? Because that is what you will tend to create in your life. Is it money? Fame? Respect? Craftsmanship? The journey or the destination? What are the inevitable outcomes of these goals? There are no right or wrong answers–just wherever you really are. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying money or fame.

I ask myself this question a lot and the answer isn’t always clear. But mostly for me it comes down to the journey of crafting good (hopefully great, perhaps someday classic) books. For me, that goal is more sublime. Money and fame come and go, and fame in particular is a mixed blessing. Respect is nice, but there’s no freedom in being enslaved to other people’s opinions.

What reading and books are all about–for readers–is beholding something touched by a muse of inspiration, raising your consciousness to behold the beauty and magic in a great story crafted with love, skill, and devotion. When that’s the goal–for an author–the only number that matters is one. One reader is all that matters. Whether that one reader is you, the author, or someone else–that’s up to you.

I respect anyone who wants to make enough money to live comfortably, support a family, or support their favorite causes. I respect anyone who wants to go on the roller coaster ride that is fame; life is short and at least fame brings you into other people’s lives. I respect those who wanted to be respected. Critical appreciation is as good a measuring stick for value as anything else.

Here, there are no right answers. Only honest and dishonest ones. Life will eventually show us the value of our goals, and then we’ll change again.
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My dearest homeys, if you aren’t following David Gaughran’s truly outstanding blog, Let’s Get Digital, then you probably missed my guest blog post over there, Using “Free” to Generate Pre-Release Buzz. You can also check out the comments for bonus discussion.

David said some nice things about me, all of them lies:

One of the criticisms that self-publishers face is that they rush their work out. Sometimes it’s bad covers, or poor editing, but sometimes the book just wasn’t ready to be published.

Today’s guest poster, Moses Siregar III, understands the importance of making sure your book is the best you can possibly make it before you sent it out into the world.

Rather than be frustrated by seeing other indie writers dive in and rack up sales, Moses never rushed his work, instead taking the time to assiduously build his platform in a number of interesting ways, all building up towards the release of his novel at the start of August.

But seriously, thanks, David!

David recently released a free ebook called Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should. You can get it for free as a pdf from his website, or pick up a version for $2.99 from Amazon or Smashwords.

This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

Did I mention that I recommend following his outstanding blog? Because it really is that good.
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There’s a wealth of free video footage from the first Superstars Writing Seminar available on YouTube. Some of the topics on that YouTube channel include publishing myths, agents, self-promotion, increasing writing productivity, economics for writers, novel contracts, collaboration, self-publishing, networking, and many more (including Dan Wells on story structure).

I attended the actual seminar in March of this year, had a great time meeting other writers (aspiring and pro), and found the material enlightening. More than anything for me, it was a priceless chance to look inside the minds of a handful of best-selling authors and to try to absorb as much as possible by osmosis. I also got to ask more questions than I should’ve been allowed to ask!

There will be another Superstars Writing Seminar January 13th-15th, 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT. The presenters are Kevin J Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Farland, Eric Flint, and Rebecca Moesta. I found all of these speakers to be very friendly and helpful at the first event (all of them were at the first event, except for Sherrilyn Kenyon). I even video-interviewed a few of them while I was there (Sanderson, Farland/Wolverton, and Flint)

At the event, I also filmed some attendees who talked about their opinion of the seminar. One of them was Marc Scott Zicree, a multi-talented Hugo and Nebula award nominee. Here’s Marc talking about the Superstars seminar (the YouTube channel that the testimonial is on also has three others, including one from the awesome Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl):

I’m going to attend the next event as well, because anything worth hearing once is worth hearing twice (thick skulls and all that). I hope to see you there! By the way, if you can’t make it, they also sell the complete audio and video recordings from the first seminar.
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Michael A. Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole

Last weekend at World Fantasy Convention 2010, I sat with Michael A. Stackpole (one of the pioneers in independent e-publishing) and we talked about the current state of publishing, ebooks, and indie publishing. We also discussed ebook pricing and the $2.99 price point (and J.A. Konrath) that I blogged about last month. We talked about lots more, too. Sixty-five minutes later, we’d recorded a dynamic conversation on these subjects–and one that’s probably controversial on some points.

Here’s a little preface. I agreed with Stackpole’s points about 90% of the time here, but not necessarily on every point. But who agrees with everyone all the time, especially when the subject is an emotional one?

I think Michael is a very intelligent and great guy, and I’m really grateful to him for our conversation. As I mention at the start of the interview, his 21 Days to a Novel exercises got me started when I got serious about writing novels and I love following his blog and his updates on Facebook and Twitter.

This interview will probably also appear on AdventuresInSciFiPublishing sometime over the next few months. By the way, the Rhiannon Frater interview that I mentioned to Michael during the interview has not been conducted yet.

I’ll have more coverage from WFC 2010 coming up, including interviews with Guy Gavriel Kay, Laura Resnick, Elizabeth C. Bunce, and Daryl Gregory. Here’s the video I filmed of Michael A. Stackpole interviewing Dennis L. McKiernan, one of the Guests of Honor at WFC: parts one, two, and three.

Last warning: there is a curse word or two in here (the main one occurs in the minute after 34:00), so cover your kids’ ears at that point ;-)

The audio player is below. Enjoy! There’s some really meaty stuff throughout the interview, all the way up till the end.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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1999. My late Uncle Mike (RIP) tells me, “You should put your business on the internet. That’s where everything is headed.”

Really? I thought. Well, Mike’s a business man, a true Capricorn. Maybe he knows what he’s talking about. Okay, why not, I’ll give it a try.

(thanks Uncle Mike)

Fast forward to 2010. My thought is that ebooks in 2010 = the internet in 1999, at least for authors. We can now get royalties of 70% on Amazon with ebooks. You can get into BN.com, the iBookstore, and other top retail websites. Ereading devices are cheaper, better, and more prolific every day. Bookstores and publishing companies are going to struggle, and more and more book commerce will take place online. You can get your book in the biggest book seller on earth, in the exact same place as all of the big boys.

Now I’ve got two major options. One is to take a long road as an indie writer and build up a backlist and readership over the course of many years, hoping that some day enough people will discover and appreciate my work enough to be able to make a decent income telling stories.

The other option is still a valid one. It’s to take the long road to publication with major publishers and take advantage of all of the considerable benefits along the way.

If you really want to roll the dice and see if you can go big, traditional publishing still makes the most sense. If you want more control of your career and you’re patient enough to build it over the course of five or ten years, then self-publishing actually makes sense for the first time in the modern era. But being an indie is not for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense for me.

  1. I love doing things on my own. Websites, promotion, design, and more. I love it. When I was in college, I started a magazine and managed almost every job myself, learning the ropes along the way. Before I was done, we had a circulation of 13,000 in Athens, GA and a nice-looking, respectable tabloid. I’ll certainly hire some professionals when I need their help (for example, copyediting), but I enjoy learning skills that allow me to be independent.
  2. I love being in business for myself and have almost always operated in this way.
  3. I enjoy controlling every aspect of my business for various reasons.
  4. I have some platform already. For example, my previous business has an opt-in email list with 15,000 subscribers.
  5. I like setting the schedule for everything, including release dates.

However, I’m not closed to traditional publishing. I’ve worked with editors on my magazine articles before and it’s something I’m fine with. I love the idea of getting my books reviewed by more sources and getting professional cover design, layout, and marketing. Traditional publishing makes it easier to get in print all around the world. Traditional publishing still offers great exposure and lots of perks.

I’m still not sure if my first full novel will be published as an indie novel or with a major publisher (my first release on Amazon is a novella). I lean towards doing it myself, with a release date of May, 2011, but I’m still open to the right publishing house and contract if the deal is really good. I’m still deciding if I even want to submit it to any publishing houses or agents.

What’s amazing is that you have options now. If traditional publishing isn’t working for you, you can roll up your sleeves, publish your own ebooks and print-on-demand books through CreateSpace or Lightning Source, and get to work. Obviously your work will need to be edited, copyedited, and proofread by capable people.

Either way you go, it won’t be easy. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
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UPDATE: Here’s another point of view from the comments below: An excellent post from A.P. Fuchs about Why Traditional Publishers and Agents are Still Important.

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This post is my entry in Chris Kelly’s indie publishing blog carnival on his Dun Scaith blog.

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3
Aug

Why Doubting Yourself Can Kill You

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III Tags: , ,

First, let me echo Devon Monk‘s recent comments from a very smart blog post. She had an Aha! moment while watching the reality TV show, The Next Food Network Star:

Here’s the thing that absolutely struck home with me. The chefs were judged on the success of the dish and also on their introduction of it (cover letter/query/synopsis) and their personal attitude toward it.  It was fascinating to see the chefs who lost confidence in their dish halfway through cooking it and who felt worse and worse about it, to the point that when they presented their dish, all they could see were the flaws. (Writers? Are you listening?) They gave poor presentations, and even if the judges liked the dish, the judges didn’t like that the chef wasn’t confident enough to believe in their own creation.

There was one chef who had never won a single challenge in the entire show (months of rejections). He decided he was going to keep a positive attitude and give it all he had to knock it out of the park.  He relaxed into what he was doing and believed in his voice, his story, and his own unique point of view. He hoped it would win, but more than that, he knew he was the only person who could tell his story his way. He stopped worrying, and stopped comparing himself to other competitors, and maybe even stopped working for the judges and instead worked to make that plate something he enjoyed and was having fun with.

(You know where I’m going with this, right?)

The guy who had never won before won.

As writers, we have to be able to edit ourselves and to read our own work from the point of view of someone who doesn’t know us, or even like us. We have to try to be objective. We have to be humble. We have to have high standards for ourselves and strive for continual improvement.

But if you don’t love your work, if you aren’t enthusiastic about it, if you’re not having the time of your life when you write it, if you can’t focus on the things you’re doing well and feel good about those things, then maybe no one else will either.

See the good in you.
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Yeah, let’s do that.

Barry Eisler makes a great point (IMO) about author bios in a guest post on M.J. Rose’s blog, titled “It’s the Marketing, Stupid:”

Have you, as a potential customer, ever been moved to buy a book by when the author was born, or by where? Or by where she’s living these days? “Holy smokes, this guy was born in Newark, sounds like my kind of writer.” “Damn, she lives in Bakersfield? Gotta read this book.”

Barry says some other smart things there, too. By the way, M.J. Rose’s blog is named, “Buzz, Balls, and Hype.” M.J., I salute you.

Work Awesome has an, er, awesome article on How to Create an Efffective and Engaging Bio Page. Here’s an example of the nuggets in the piece:

Think about the impression you want people to have upon reading your bio and the action you want them to take. How can you craft a page that will shape these goals?

There’s quite a bit of information in that post. Three snaps in a circle!

By the way, I’m still working on my bio, so feel free to critique it. Or post yours in the comments and offer it up for critique by anyone in the neighborhood!