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Demon release update – PhilCon and Writer’s Center

Thanks One More Page Books for hosting my first reading for DEMON last Wednesday – and to the many people, friends and strangers, who came out!

This weekend, Nov 18-20, I am paneling and signing at PhilCon!

My next reading in the Washington DC area is Thursday December 1, 7pm, at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD.

*Free posters and trading cards* at both events!

Rather buy the ebook than paper? Show the ebook on your device (or a purchase receipt) and get a signed poster and a card!

See you in Philly and in Bethesda!


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Fun with marketing – book teaser trading cards

The image-driven firehose that is social media challenges the modern writer. I see some managing to do clever things with it, releasing aphorisms and motivational notes, and others just stupefied. Count me more often among the latter.

Not long ago, writer, blogger and ace self-marketer Shannon A Thompson  posted about her book teasers, single-image character bios she puts out well in advance of her book’s release. I can do that, I thought.

But I couldn’t. My efforts seemed both too much and not enough, and in retrospect I think Thompson’s style wasn’t playing to my strengths. I needed a way to put forward not just characters but the breadth of my story, and my own writing style, in bits and snippets – in a spirit of play.

I did have a great cover, thanks to artist Julie Duong, and my banner showed me that I could make an unusual concept work. Early one morning three weeks ago, trying to get back to sleep after waking too early, I suddenly saw these in my head.

Star Wars trading cards 1977

These are my own Star Wars trading cards from 1977 (I have the first three sets of 66, complete). What’s funny about them is that they only make sense if you’ve seen the movie – even in numerical order, they’re more like a trailer blown up into individual frames and fallen all anyhow onto the floor. I imagined what it would be like to read them without having first seen the movie…

The result debuts today on Instagram, and come out one a day between now and my mid-November book launch – 56 in total (7 x 8, a union of Western and Eastern lucky numbers). Here’s a sample:

Three Demon trading cards

I’m no artist, but I can run an image editor enough to add borders and fonts. I took Thompson’s great idea to use stock art for my character images – it helps that they’re mostly business people, and stock art sites are full of those – but I ran them through Prisma, the smartphone app that makes people look painted, which let me image the character’s personality, not just their looks.

For now they’re on my own Instagram account adobranski. Follow it and get a little literary oddness in your daily feed!


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Fun with marketing – my convention banner

I am so pleased to show off my first major marketing tool since the book got its cover – my banner for convention booths and signing tables. Artist Andrea Klores created a fantastic twilit look that complements the book’s edginess and theme. See it below in detail, and the final product at the end of this article – with a 6’4″ human for scale!

Demon banner detail

This is not the usual book marketing banner, and I thought it worth discussing.

My marketing education this summer included a weekend working at my publisher’s booth at Hartford’s Connecticon. Continue reading


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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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AwesomeCon DC 2016 – this weekend!

AwesomeCon is a large fan convention in Washington DC this weekend, focused on visual media – this year especially, it’s a Whovians paradise. Are you going?

Saturday will just be splendid fun, but the Friday and Sunday sessions have several good panels for my booklife.

I’m hoping to see: Comics in WWII, Giant Robots, Strong Women Characters, Nanobots – which together cover my debut novel, my serial novel, and my crazy SF work-in-progress – and attend at least one of the marketing panels. Continue reading