Tag Archives: publishing

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!

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

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.

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.

Big news – and some thanks

I am thrilled to announce I have signed a contract with WordFire Press to publish The Demon in Business Class, my first novel!
I am so excited about this! But it’s some months away, with a lot to do between now and then. I’ll talk about it much more as the book launch approaches, and I hope you can be part of it.
I’d like to thank Kevin J. Anderson, Vivian Trask and WordFire Press for the warm welcome and the hard work ahead.
This novel is years in the making, and I have pages of thanks. I here want to acknowledge the people who worked on this most recent stage, with the final draft manuscript and the marketing plan. Thanks to Jackie Dobranski, Kate Yonkers, Jessica Epperson-Lusty, Laila Sultan, Joshua Essoe, Jennifer Brinn, Melissa Cox, and Adrian Bryant for their invaluable help and feedback.
Thanks also to Wayland Smith for inspiring me to up my professional game.
I have written a beautiful book, of its time, for times ahead. I want to share it with you and the world. I’m pleased to have an excellent publisher to help me do that.

Catching up to success and building on it

For the last month now, what writing time I’ve had all belonged to my new serial novel. I regret losing energy both on social media and on my first novel, but I can return to them. The experience of the serial is unusual and worthy of attention. By starting this in partnership with a media provider and basing it in the history of my own neighborhood, I had wonderful resources to draw on. The Forest Hills Connection organized a history lecture and reading, and the Northwest Current printed an op-ed about the history behind the novel. It was a huge privilege to start off strong, and a great leap of faith on the part of my media partners. I am lucky and grateful.
I am still writing weekly, but it’s leveling off its ascent so I can get the other parts of my booklife in working order. I’m hoping that my quick bath in media will give me a new way to look at my first novel. The style is still fresh but my approach to selling it is tired. To get past the exhausted ADD TL;DR eyes of the publishing community, I have to dance around the complicated mixed-genre and real world elements, and the flawed less-than-heroic characters, that were the things which most interested me as a writer. The people who are my audience are maybe not the people who make a living selling many books to publishers. Self-publication in this light is like touring is for a band, a way to get the word out and find an audience. It would be a huge effort that looks very scary now, and not something I can enter into seriously before the fall.
Put another way, though, every special event I got for the launch of Scientists was a missed opportunity to market my self-published novel in a public forum. As the serial proceeds and gets more attention, there are more opportunities. This is not a reason to rush an unfinished book to printing, but it is a reason to hurry an unfinished book to finishing.
 

Performance anxiety (Facebook edition)

If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise. — William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”
I noted recently that writing has become a performing art, one where we writers all have to be promotional and public. I’ve been mulling that over in regards to social media. Specifically, Facebook.
I made my first business career developing the consumer side of what we once called “cyberspace,” but I was quite late to Facebook. Most close friends who wanted to keep up with my personal life soon wised up and Friended my wife. My main reservation was Facebook’s awesome store of personal data (even now, my Facebook account is still under a different computer login than my work or personal logins), but it seemed harmless enough — shared humor, family updates and the occasional expression of political dudgeon by people whose politics I knew well.
When I signed up for the Superstars Writing Seminars, I joined their very active private Facebook group for news and updates on the seminar, and by extension, on the writers’ individual careers. To my great surprise, a lot of those people Friended me on Facebook — most before ever meeting me, and the rest after a very limited interaction (though you learn a lot playing Cards Against Humanity, and none of it good.)
I was bemused. Why on earth would these people want to Friend me? Did they care about my son’s new style of dancing to 80’s pop? Would they be as thrilled by the new retaining wall we’re getting as I am?
My folly was in not recognizing that Facebook has become a public space to the exact degree that one is a public person — and performing artists are public people, and writers now performers. This for me makes Facebook an increasingly staged and risky place. In Soho where she lives, a major fashion model can go shopping without makeup and in sweatpants — but when that same model hits the stores at Mall of America, she is not shopping. She is making an appearance, as rehearsed and planned and calculated as any Oscar Wilde bon-mot.
Thing is, I have plenty of friends, and extended family, for whom Facebook is not that space, and whose socializing there is more honest, more mundane, and in some ways more substantive. If I actually become a successful writer, commenting to me on a Facebook post will be the equivalent of meeting your friend for coffee when your friend is on a reality-TV show and has a camera following everywhere. Little-f-friends, are you ready for that? Am I? Continue reading

The new novel

On November 18th of alternate years, Mr Earbrass begins writing ‘his new novel’. Weeks ago he chose its title at random from a list of them he keeps in a little green note-book. It being tea-time of the 17th, he is alarmed not to have thought of a plot to which The Unstrung Harp might apply…
–Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp
I finished a novel this year, finally. It took me a very long time to write and rewrite, and I am still unsure what I am doing commercially as I look for an agent.
Fellow writers immediately asked me what my new novel would be.
Honestly, I had no idea. I still don’t. This may be what a generous person could call a process. Just as Demon did, the new novels seem to be finding me. A local web newspaper asked me to try a serial historical mystery. My last short story has the seeds of a short novel.
But the push seems unseemly. I want to date a bit after my long divorce. It won’t take so long next time. Of course, it will take less time if I immediately put to work the skills I just mastered.
Thing is, there is a professional value in having short work to submit. If it is strange and niche, so be it, better I learn this now; but I also have two modern-day stories in outline. Skills I honed on the novel get used in all writing. I’ve certainly learned to keep things brief in the first draft, to save editing later. It can always grow, in depth and richness — start by making it move.
The question of genre is bedeviling. My genre is dense stories of problematic people failing to connect. I don’t see good actors only appearing in one kind of movie (though that does happen in New York stage theater). I just want to be a hydroponic medium for stories, a special streamlined soil in which they can grow colorful and strange.
Perhaps this is too much to ask. I will have to see where I find a toehold.
I am sorry to have been away for a while. I thank my continued readers and commenters (even on a tech post!)

The Autumn 2013 Plan

Speaking strictly commercially, I did everything wrong with my writing. I don’t have an identifiable genre or sub-genre. It’s a literary noir-styled fantasy thriller romance and an allegory about globalization and growing up. There’s no shelf for that. Crossing genres and styles is gaining popularity, but it’s still a hard sell to make cold.
Perhaps I could have written odd short stories and gained a following, but my novel had too strong a pull. And of course I had to write it five times over. And it’s still a big book.
So. There it is. Nothing to do about it now but change course.  Continue reading