the anthony dobranski blog


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My book has a cover!

I’m so excited to share my novel’s cover! Created by Duong Covers, it captures my old-meets-new theme in spectacular fashion.

Demon-final-cover-go small

Speaking professionally, it’s also fantastic. In case you wondered why titles are getting so BIG on book covers lately, thank online bookstores and their 100ish-pixel-wide icons. Here, not only the title but the central art really stands out at small sizes, a rare achievement. See for yourself –

Demon-final-cover-go small

Just a couple more months before the world sees the cover around its book!

 


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My first interview!

I got to talk about my upcoming novel The Demon in Business Class with the great guys at B&M Baked Podcast. We discuss the story, the background, the editing process, support from other writers, and even the convention-sales business model.

My five-minute interview starts at timecode 30:21 – or listen to the whole thing, to hear from many other great authors too!

http://bandmbakedpodcast.podbean.com/e/ep-376-connecticon-2016/

 


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Giving to, not just dealing with

Sometimes leaving is a process. I’m off to Hartford’s Connecticon this weekend to work my publisher’s table and learn direct sales by doing. Which means I should have spent the week blogging reflections on the industry and marketing and such. Instead I did a lot of weeding and yard work, which was twice as hard and thrice as hot as it would have been a month earlier – but we were busy a month earlier too.
I suppose this is a note about work-life balance, or about how to maintain when one doesn’t see balance coming anytime soon. It’s a simple note where I pass on a friend’s advice – to treat your acts as gifts not chores. 
It helped my stress level, at least. Certainly, thinking about getting things done to spare my family or make things more fun for them in my absence made the pouring sweat and the bent lawnmower shaft and all the cleanup a bit easier! 
As my efforts for my own book take more time, the rest of my life will not stand still. I have to give to it, rather than deal with it. 


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Make time for new work

My main creative work since my book contract has either been editing my manuscript or developing my (approach to) social media. By any commercial measure, that’s what I should have done. Polishing and sharing best honors my creative expression.

One has creative intention too, and each success makes one’s ground more fertile. Recently my editor Vivian Caethe, fresh off her first Kickstarter success, turned a Tumblr post into a new anthology on Kickstarter, which shows how quickly ideas can bloom.

I need to be there for my finished work. I also need new work to do.

These last two weeks I’ve been making myself make things up, just opening blank text screens and letting words fly. It’s not exactly automatic writing but it’s my least self-judgmental form of creativity. Nothing that will go further in this form. Nothing anyone’s waiting for yet. It can be stupid and playful. I even wrote the outline of a wordless ten-minute play, mostly on my smartphone, in a car.

Most of these ideas will go nowhere. A few return in funny ways. A jokey conceit I never developed for my blog became a Russian propaganda television serial in my NaNoWriMo manuscript. That manuscript was once a dream, hastily written down and played with for weeks thereafter. In another year it could be a book.

It’s important to make new things, especially if it feels unimportant. Something takes root if you keep seeding.


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Books at AwesomeCon need flair

AwesomeCon‘s sales and promotional floor is so big that guides and maps never refer to it as a unit bound by walls, only to its subsections. All of it is dense with visual stimulus and novelty. Vendors sell comics, books, movies, posters, toys, models, clothing and accessories, even niche products like leather bondage wear or rings that serve as dice for gaming. Cosplay abounds, and well done.

awesomecon floor

Stand out here!

Still, you can find the printed word. A handsome cover is an attractor here. One printer sells new restyled editions of public-domain classics. Sellers have curiosities like high-end reprints or special editions of the most popular books of our day. And there are presses and solo creators.

I don’t have a lot of fine-grain insight. I saw signings, drawings, gimmicks aplenty. Whatever else, one has to look like one gives a damn and like others do too; like this is a privilege, a summit, not the end of a long and dreary line.

Soho Press has a well-dressed urbane young marketer standing between a simple logo backdrop and a skirted table of original novels. She cheerfully tells me that she’s here to support an author on a panel, but it’s a good chance to market other titles, including a new YA. She hints it was a new effort for them to come this far south.

The booth is in a side alley, without much natural crowd flow, but the display catches enough attention that she sells books while telling me about how releases get marketed. When I buy two books, she tells me one comes with a poster. She unrolls it. It’s far cartoonier than the novel’s bold graphic cover. I kindly decline.

“I’m not surprised,” she tells me. There’s a savvy in the remark that seems of a piece with the product line. A marketing meditation: how deep can brand and identity go?

Soon after, I walk past an independent writer on a busier alley. She has no backdrop, no table-skirt, just short stacks of books on naked fake-woodgrain tabletop. It looks like it’s being set up.

She calls out, seeing my glance. “Do you read books?” she asks plaintively, as if her greater hopes for connection have been dashed.

Little more to see on a closer look. She has printed glossy promotional bookmarks for each book, but no display. No description other than the cover text. It is not enough. I feel like I have to infer everything. She asks me tentative questions as if to find a hook that will attach her book to me.

Once it is clear I am less audience than sympathetic peer, we chat. She tells me of other venues where she sells books, of how a venue this size is still too much for her child. She is connected through fandom to a star of a vampire television show. Behind a bowl of candies, a framed page of small text describes donations to the star’s non-profit foundation.

I wonder how she got the idea to come to AwesomeCon. Perhaps she thought her show and star would connect her. Perhaps the size impressed her. It feels like a Hail Mary. It can’t be a cheap rental but she has failed in her research and come unprepared.

It is harsh to compare an individual to a small press, but they both took similar space in an enormous con. It does no good to be ignored by tens of thousands of people.


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Gone too long

I came back from AwesomeCon with many observations and ideas, and I’ll be posting them daily this last week of June.

The last two weeks went to family, for good planned reasons and a couple of bad unplanned ones. Sometimes you have to ride out the wave.

Even in the best of times (a Cure concert!), writers think about writing and about not writing, so I am eager to come to grips with the site this week. My daily question – Is it time to give up on WordPress for actual blogging of short essays, and post them instead on medium? It seems to be where people are going for article-length reads.

That said, I met a lot of people here on WordPress through its magical sharing of tags, and some other writers’ “whatever” approach to their blogs also works well enough for them. Nice to have one fewer login in my life.

 

 

 

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