anthony dobranski online


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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 – 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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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.


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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.