Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Getting Ready for MileHiCon

Killing two birds with one stone, Squiders. (I did not get my outlining done. I did, however, finally vacuum the basement. Nonfiction next week for sure, though.)

I’m so not stressed about the con this year, which feels lovely. I kind of feel like I should be, since, you know, public speaking and all, but I’m going to get to see friends and see all the cool con stuff and hopefully make new friends, so I’m mostly excited. (Though I have discovered that I am the only woman on a panel of men for the Trek panel, which could be fine, or could be terrible. Time will tell! The only other person on the Doctor Who panel doesn’t have a bio on the website, so they remain a mystery. I’m hoping they know what they’re doing though, because I don’t.)

Anyway! Things to be done before the convention:

  • PACK YOUR BUSINESS CARDS, KIT, WHY ARE YOU SO BAD AT THIS (seriously, I have hundreds and yet I always forget them)
  • Check books for signing/selling Saturday morning. I should be good to go because they’re still packed from the library local author showcase, but I might stick some anthologies in there too if I still have any floating around.
  • Likewise, pack credit card reader/money box (and probably go to bank and get change).
  • Figure out if I need permits for the signing/selling table and get them ready if necessary.
  • Find and read cliff notes version of the last season of Doctor Who so I can effectively pretend I know what I’m talking about tomorrow.
  • Pack bag:
    • Laptop or notebook for writing (the wifi has historically been spotty, so it basically depends on what I want to drag around with me)
    • Snacks
    • BUSINESS CARDS
    • Water bottle
    • Bookmarks? (I still have some from Shards floating around somewhere, though I think I’m out of the rest)
    • I feel like I’m forgetting something, so this spot is for when I remember later

I think that’s it. I hope that’s it. Squiders, if you see something I’m obviously forgetting, please let me know! Or if you have tips for being a panelist, I’d love to hear them!

Otherwise, I’ll see you guys next week!

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MileHiCon, Next Nonfiction Topic, Et al.

Can you believe October is almost over, Squiders? I’m not ready! It seems like it just started, all full of promise and hope, but now the leaves have fallen off the trees and the gloom of winter is descending.

It’s MileHiCon this weekend. I’ve talked about it before, but for those of you who are new, it’s a literary-minded scifi/fantasy convention in Denver, Colorado. This will be my third year attending in an authorial capacity. In previous years I’ve run a table in the Authors’ Alley, which is where indie authors and small presses can set up shop for the weekend, sell books, talk to readers, etc.

In theory, the Authors’ Alley is a wonderful idea. In actuality, it varies based on where you are in the alley and how tired potential readers are by the time they get to you. My first year (2014) was pretty decent. Last year was miserable. And it didn’t help that I had to man my table by myself (I was running one for Turtleduck Press and the other authors couldn’t make it either time) and was essentially stuck there all weekend. TRAPPED.

(On the other hand, sometimes it can be somewhat beneficial. I’ve edited chapters, written short stories, drawn landsquid pictures for the blog, etc., all while trapped at my Authors’ Alley table.)

So this year, I’ve got a 2-hour slot at what they call the Authors’ Co-op table. Same thing as Authors’ Alley, where you can set up shop, sell books, do autographs, etc., but 1) it’s free and 2) it’s for a limited time period and then you’re freeeeeeeee, free, thank the Lord.

In addition to this, I have finally figured out how to get on panels. Last year, I think, oh, two weeks out from the convention, I emailed the panel coordinator and told her that if she still needed people, I was ready and available, and she very gently told me that I was several months too late and helped me so I didn’t mess up again this year.

I’m hoping the panel + limited table stuckage will result in a more enjoyable convention, and one that’s more beneficial to me as an author in both a networking and a marketing manner. I’ll let you know next week.

So, according to the poll, it looks like people want to do common writing problems as our next nonfiction topic. I hope to outline the book tomorrow but it may take me a few days to get everything in order since I need to figure out what the most common writing problems are (with a focus on fiction, since that is my specialty). If I get everything ready by Thursday we’ll start this week, but with the con looming I make no guarantees.

(If you have a problem you’d like to seen covered, let me know!)

My drawing class is going well, though it’s not quite what I wanted. I finished my project yet we still have one more week, so not sure what I’m going to do. Draw landsquid and alpaca, I suppose.

How are you, Squiders? Advice on being on a Doctor Who panel when I haven’t seen most of the last season and seemingly have no way to do so before the convention starts (I have been on the hold list for the library copy forever)?

Pondering a Podcast

Good morning, squiders! How is your October treating you? We’re in the midst of a butterfly migration. Which sounds amazing, but they’re literally everywhere and every time I hit one with my car I feel like a horrible person. (Two weeks ago the newspaper said we were at the peak of the migration, but they were wrong. There’s so many they’re showing up on weather radar.)

buuuutttteeerrrfffllliiieeessss

So, I’ve been pondering starting a podcast for about a month now. Well, a videocast. The idea started after the local author showcase I did at the library at the end of August, and it’s percolated after the last month as I’ve done some other networking with local authors and gone over what I want out of my writing during my writing break last month.

The idea would be to talk about how awkward and horrible it is to be an author at times, all the silly introverted or shy mistakes that I make, to show that there’s a side behind the “professional” facade we’re supposed to present to the world.

(She says as she routinely posts pictures of landsquid.)

I just can’t figure out if it would be a good way to connect with people, or if it would be a good way to shoot myself in the foot.

Thoughts, squiders? Does hearing about my three awkward run-ins with the author coordinator at the library sound like it might be fun? Or do you think it’s a bad idea, that showing off potential weaknesses will make it harder for me to sell books in the future?

In other news, I’m taking a new approach to MileHiCon this year. Instead of buying a table in the Author Row and camping out sadly for the three days, I’m doing a 2-hour signing spot and participating on some panels instead. They sent out the initial panel listing the other day, and I’m on three, all fan-related stuff: Star Trek, Doctor Who, and fangirling in general. At first I was a bit disappointed at not being put on any writing ones, but now I think this will be better–it will be more fun, I hope, because I won’t have to worry so much about what face I’m presenting (see above) and I can hopefully connect to people on shared interests.

Anyway, let me know about the videocast. Still pondering, yet still routinely finding good topics for it…

(I would talk about other things too, genre stuff that catches my interest, writing, process, etc.)

Nothing’s Ever Where You Need it to Be

Oh, squiders. Why is it when you need something, and you know you just saw it, you can’t actually ever find it?

I feel like the more important said item is, the more likely it’s been jettisoned into space, never to be seen again.

In this case, I’m looking for the note sheet for when I did the Local Author Showcase for Shards so I can be properly prepared for the one this Sunday for City of Hope and Ruin. You know, not re-invent the wheel. Especially since I’ve already got to stress about going from the 10 minutes I had last time to 5 minutes for this one. Is 5 minutes long enough for anything?

It’s all for naught, though, because my notes from the last one are gone. Vanished. Disappeared into thin air.

I swear I saw them recently. I had to re-read Shards fairly recently to redo its book description (was that last year? yikes) and I think the notes were tucked in there when I picked my copy up. But where did I put them? They are no longer in the book (I’ve checked twice) and also don’t seem to be in the general vicinity of where the book hangs out (on top of the book case, currently under my copy of City of Hope and Ruin).

I’ve checked everywhere I keep story notes. (Which turns out to be entirely too many places and I should probably consolidate. But hey! I found the map that goes along with Broken Mirrors, which I’m not sure I’ve worked on since before I started this blog in 2010, but at least I now know where it is.) I’ve checked inside notebooks, where papers sometimes accidentally get forgotten or tucked, and I’ve checked inside folders that I might have taken to something writing related at some point. I even checked in the filing cabinet, though I’m pretty sure nothing remotely creative has ever gone into it.

And when it became obvious it was gone, I checked digitally. I checked my hard drive, and my back-up hard drive. I checked my Google drive and my email. Nothing. I finally, FINALLY, had the thought that I might have posted it on the blog since I had such a hard time finding resources to write the first one and, well, partial success. (There were pictures in that post at one time. Sigh.)

So I guess I should just give up and write a new one. Drat.

But again, 5 minutes. Do I squeeze in a 2-minute reading and do 3 minutes of intro/explanation? Do I just talk about the book and hope the process is interesting enough to get people’s attention? I am the only fantasy author in this particular bunch (8 authors), I think. I feel like for previous author showcases they’ve done a short blurb of each book and this one doesn’t, but going off of titles it sounds like most are nonfiction or memoir. Hard to tell.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s the official announcement:

Douglas County Libraries Local Author Showcase

From fiction to memoir to children’s, please join us to celebrate these Colorado authors and their books. To register, click here.

Sunday, August 20th at 2pm

Douglas County Libraries –  Philip S. Miller branch
100 S. Wilcox St.
Castle Rock, CO 80104

Peggy Robinson – My Journey through Cronic Pain and Wonders of Christmastime

Kit Campbell – City of Hope and Ruin

MaryAnn Sundby – Monday is Wash Day

Debbie Johnson – A Pocketful of Seeds

Susan G. Mathis – The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy

Jean Jacobsen – The Reluctant Debutante

Thaddeus Dupper – Attack on Nantucket

Carrie O’Toole – Relinquished – When Love Means Letting Go

Well, at least I know where the rest of my promotional stuff is. Minor victories. See you Thursday, squiders!

(Also, I’ve started a lovely ’80s fantasy book called The Minecamp Vampire for our library book sale finds discussion. It is thus far as awesome as it sounds.)

Looking at the Next Month

Good morning, squiders! The next month is crazy busy around here, so I thought I’d give you a heads up on what to expect here at the blog during that time (from now until approximately mid-September).

  • I’d like to do at least one Library Book Sale Find. We haven’t done one since March and I still have a whole shelf full (plus I bought a new one at a library book sale I stumbled over a few weeks ago with some truly “epic” cover art. Ah, early ’90s).
  • We’ve got the final readalong for the Finnbranch Trilogy (Winterking) on August 24. I should probably get on that though I am still a little grumpy from Undersea.
  • I’m going to do a short series on awesome scifi/fantasy tropes, such as alternative universes and time travel. I’ll do one a week there, so other stuff will be interspersed so we don’t overload on the concept.
  • I may also start poking at the next nonfiction topic, which will either be outlining or common writing problems, so if you have a preference (or if you have topics related to either you’d like to see discussed) please let me know!

As always, if you’d like me to cover something specific, please feel free to contact me. I’m pretty open to whatever!

In other news, I’m going to be speaking at a local author showcase on August 20. I did one for Shards some time ago but heck if I remember how exactly I set it up. I’m hoping to be able to find my notes from the last time so I can see what I talked about/timing, but that may be wishful thinking. Also, I believe I get less time than the last time as well. Has anyone done a talk/reading lately and have advice to give?

I’ve also been working with MileHiCon for this year’s convention. I’m dropping the table in the Author’s Row after last year’s disappointments and instead focusing on doing panels, which should help both from a visibility and a networking standpoint. MileHiCon also offers co-op tables, where you can sell books/sign for a specific time as opposed to manning a table the entire weekend, so I’m also looking at doing that.

Everything else continues a pace. How are you all?

Useful Link Round-up

Okay, Squiders, I want to be able to do the idea generation posts in a row, so for today, I’m going to share various links that I’ve been hoarding that other people might find interesting. Monday I’ll have a review/promo for you, and Thursday is, in theory, the first discussion post for the Finnbranch readalong (though I will need to read faster than I am because I forgot when in June I set the discussion for). And then we’ll head back into nonfic territory.

For Readers

Does anyone else just find themselves on random email lists they don’t remember signing up for? That’s the deal with me and BookRiot, which is a website about books, mostly speculative fiction. But I dig their newsletter, so I don’t really mind that it seemingly came out of nowhere.

I normally forget, but it’s never a bad idea to stop by sites like StoryBundle or Humble Bundle and see if you can get a ton of themed books for cheap. Normally they donate the money for a good cause.

For Writers–Writing

I don’t know about you guys, but I am terrible at conlanging and yet, since I write high fantasy, sometimes it is necessary. That’s why I’m super interested in Vulgar, which is a language generator. I haven’t given it a try yet, but you can do a demo on the website, and the full version is only $20.

For people who like to have an idea of story structure before they go into a novel, you might try Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure. It’s the one Siri and I used for City of Hope and Ruin. You can find a good overview over at Fiction University (which is a useful website if you are not already familiar with it.

For Writers–Learning

If you have enough time to fit in some learning, I recommend checking out sites like SkillShare and Udemy. I’ve taken a few classes (mostly marketing related, but also ones about how to use email lists) and recently signed up for one focused more on traditional publishing. You can buy memberships or classes flat out, but I like that you can see reviews and curriculum before you shell out money. There are probably more websites out there that provide a similar function, but I haven’t tried them.

(I’ve also considered making a course for one or both, but not sure what would be a good topic. If you know something I should go for, let me know!)

For Writers–Publishing

Since I’ve been putting together submission materials for my YA paranormal (all ready now! Just need a healthy dose of getting on with it), I recently wrote a synopsis for it. This blog post proved invaluable and took a lot of the guesswork out of the process.

For Writers–Marketing

Here’s a very interesting post on why it’s a bad thing to encourage your friends and family to buy your book when it first comes out. Good stuff to know. I recently found this blog through Siri and it’s been very interesting (also apparently I have done everything wrong). (Which I kind of knew.)

I also recently found this website called Hometown Reads that connects readers to local authors. I haven’t signed up yet but it looks like a cool idea, and my city is one that they’ve already developed, so woot.

Anyway, I hope you find some of these helpful! And let me know if you’ve found some place cool lately!

PPWC Session Wrap-up, Part 1

Good morning, Squiders. I’m back from PPWC, and now that I’ve gotten some sleep, I am vaguely functional again.

I’ve gone to PPWC before, and I’ve done conference write-ups after the fact for all of them, so I thought I’d do something different than just retread the same ground again and talk specifically about the sessions I attended throughout the weekend so those of you who haven’t been to a writers’ conference before can get an idea about the sort of things offered.

The sessions offered this year seemed to be mostly craft or marketing. There were less genre-specific sessions than I’ve seen in the past.

(Disclaimer: What’s offered will vary conference by conference, year by year, presenter by presenter. So you may find that your local conference works slightly differently.)

PPWC has 15 sessions over three days (6 on Friday, 6 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday), plus an optional add-on Thursday session that involves more in-depth workshops (I never get to go to Thursday because alas, responsibilities. Also it is an extra $90). There are also occasionally some extra add-ons within in the conference itself, such as this year’s Write Drunk, Edit Sober program.

So, let’s dive into Friday, shall we?

Unforgettable Characters (Carol Berg)

Friday morning, for some reason, I picked all character craft sessions. Carol Berg is a bestselling fantasy author, and this panel was well-presented and did an excellent job of breaking down what different level of characters need to do and what you, as an author, need to know about said characters. She also tied characterization into plot and talked some about how to actually introduce and use characters from a technical standpoint.

Using Setting to Reveal Character (Laura DiSilverio)

I also considered going to a panel called Finding Your Inner Extrovert about learning to communicate face to face about your book but my sister convinced me this one would be more beneficial. I’m not sure that’s true. Laura DiSilverio is a mystery writer whom I’ve taken mystery-specific classes with at previous PPWCs. Laura broke down the topic into two different subtopics–using setting to reveal things about characters based on their choices for their own environment and to reveal things about characters based on what they notice in an environment. Good information, little bogged down in audience participation (since some people didn’t seem to be following the topic so well).

Bringing Characters to Life on the Page (Stant Litore)

I know Stant from MileHiCon, so, hey, it was nice to see a familiar face. This session was excellent. Stant used a series of exercises to help explain how to add emotion into your story without being obvious about it and did a fantastic job of tying emotion to characterization. He had a lot of examples to show how this works. I was so impressed I went and bought his book, Write Characters. This was probably my favorite session of the whole conference.

And then we had lunch! I don’t remember what it was. Oh, salad.

Read and Critique with Carol Berg

So, after lunch, I had my first two pages read and critique, which they had in a room on the second floor. That was a bit harrowing because the elevators were slow and there were a lot of people going places at any point in time, and I hadn’t found the secret staircase yet. My sister and I were up til 2:30 the night before working on our first two pages (I cut out almost 1000 words from the very beginning of chapter one). So there were eight of us, Carol, and the moderator (who was timing how long each person had). In turn, everyone read their two pages out loud while Carol took notes, and then Carol would give us her feedback. She was very good about it–always started with what was good about the sample before going into the issues. (She told me later that the R&Cs make her nervous before it’s hard to think that fast.) I’m not sure, in the end, that it was that useful unless, of course, you’re on your final, polished pages and want to make sure they’re hook-y enough. The guy next to me had an awesome opening that I totally dug, though (and I told him so later, but that’s another time), and Carol was very nice.

(Oh, and she was actually very complimentary about my pages, and complimented my description, which if you guys have been around here for awhile, you know is a weak point of mine, so woot.)

Seducing the Reader: 4 Essential Elements of an Opening (Darynda Jones)

Darynda Jones was one of the keynote speakers, and she actually has 5 essential elements but never got around to changing the title of the class. Also, my Friday panels are very telling about what I’m feeling weak in craftwise lately. Darynda laid out the elements in a way that made sense, and she also provided examples, which I am always for. (I’m a kinetic learner.) She also recommended some writing books, most of which I have heard of before (and one of which I’ve read and own, but it’s probably been a decade since I read it, so maybe I should do so again).

Today’s Marketing for Yesterday’s Author (KL Cooper)

Marketing! I figured I should probably go to some marketing panels, but I think I only hit two all weekend. Ah, well, priorities and whatnot. I think my sister hit more and she doesn’t even have any books out, har har. I probably should have gone to the Putting Clever Twists on Common Tropes panel. A lot of basic marketing info, most of which I already knew, though she did offer specific services to use for some things, so that’s helpful, and she did mention a few things that I’d not heard before and will need to look into.

Friday night was dinner (excellent chicken for me, and chocolate pie for dessert) as well as the costumes, which we wore to dinner and then had a contest for afterwards. My Rainbow Brite costume was well received, though apparently people who were fans of Rainbow Brite still didn’t recognize my sister as the evil princess (her costume was really awesome in the end). Alas. We sat with Carol Berg, who, as I mentioned above, is a lovely person and I like her quite a bit. My table tried to nominate me for the contest but I threw one of my sister’s friends, dressed as Anne of Green Gables, under the bus instead and successfully lured most of the table with me. Oh, and the key note speaker for the meal (we’ll have one for every subsequent meal) was Darynda Jones.

After dinner, which went quite late–9:30 or something?–we went and worked on finalizing our query letters and then ran out to FedEx to print them around 10:30. PPWC has BarCon, which is essentially where everyone hangs out in the bar after dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and “networks,” but we were so tired by the time we got back to the hotel that we just hung out in our room and then crashed.

So, that’s Friday. I hope it’s of interest to you guys! Let me know what you think.