Posts Tagged ‘publicity’

It is my mantra that “timing is everything.” Ironically, however, while timing is “everything,” perspective is  worth “a lot.” Consider: You’ll spend an hour cutting coupons before grocery shopping because you can save $30. But you spend five minutes when you’re shopping for a house, trying to decide whether to raise your bid $10,000. An hour to save $30, but five minutes to spend $10,000? It’s all in perspective, in this case, how much is ultimately at stake.

This occurred to me because I am just past what is likely the half-way point of my latest novel, which I am planning to finish in the next two months. That will require me writing about 5,000 words a week, which should present no problem greater than whether I can type that fast.

But wait, let’s put this into perspective. Five thousand words is a good length for a short story. That means my goal for the rest of the year is to write the equivalent of 8-10 short stories. But writing 40,000 words of a novel is one thing; writing eight short stories is an entirely different proposition, a view from a different perspective. That’s why I can blithely take on one with every expectation of success, whereas I wouldn’t even attempt the other without a truckload of money waiting for me.

The difference in perspective is even more pronounced when you look at the relative outcomes. If you’re a writer of some ability, there’s a good chance you could sell one of 8-10 short stories. On the other hand, selling a novel, even for a good writer, is really hard. So from one perspective, writing short stories leads to greater rewards. And yet, if you do sell your novel, the amount of money in even one of today’s average advances is light years ahead of what you can reasonably expect from a short story. (It’s more than you could make from all ten of them.) So from that perspective, writing a novel is a better bet (even allowing for the time it takes to produce a novel, which varies widely).

Of course, even if you write a great novel about nine vampires seeking to throw a ring into a volcano, if ten others have beaten you to it, your efforts are  doomed. So, remember what I always say: “Timing is everything.”




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Netgalley is a site to join where readers who review can go to find new books and recommend them to their friends, followers, and the world at large through Amazon reviews, blogs, Twitter, and whatever the new app-of-the-day is today. It is free and easy to join. And among its thousands of offerings by traditional and independent publishers, you can find The Invisible City.

Reviews are the lifeblood of book-selling. The way things are today, it’s not enough to go down to Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller (yeah, right) and scan the shelves. This is particularly true of independent publishers whose works aren’t on the shelves. Nowadays, many people find the best way to choose books is to hunt down reviews on Amazon. And without reviews, authors (especially new ones) can’t get traction.

So if you didn’t know about Netgalley, give it a try. You don’t have to look at my book (although you can at least vote on the new cover), but there are thousands of authors in dozens of categories who are begging for your attention.

Read and review. It’s the thing to do!




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I get a lot of pitches for ways to get your self-published book noticed. Paid reviewers, unpaid reviewers, virtual libraries, PR companies, Amazon, Smashwords…everybody is out to help the poor writer get readers. What I can’t figure out is, with so many writers out there now, why do we need help? If all the indie writers simply read all the other indie writers, everybody would get rich (or at least sell respectably).

I do not claim not to be part of the problem: I don’t read my fellow indies, either. The problem is, I have little time to read anyone, and the few authors I like pretty much fill it. Now this, of course, is my problem. And it is most certainly a problem, since writers need to “feed their heads” more than most. I write better when I’ve been reading; I suspect most of us do. I should do a lot more of it.  (Of both, actually.)

So if writers aren’t reading, who is? And is that why indie writers can’t get readers, because nowadays so many people are busy self-publishing that no one has time to read?

We had dinner at a fish restaurant tonight. I am not terribly fond of fish, but I’ll eat some, and there’s always something else available. (After a detailed examination of the menu, and consultation with my wife and the very patient waitress, I chose the shrimp pasta. The waitress was very enthusiastic about the cheeseburger. I am nothing if not transparent.) But in talking of the choices afterward, my wife said, “You have to take some chances.” (To me, shrimp pasta with a spicy red sauce is taking a chance.)

It is not my intention to encourage reading more independent writers; I can hardly do that if I don’t know what I’m recommending. (I could recommend myself, but that would hardly be helpful, let alone objective.) But I would encourage people (myself included) to read more broadly, to branch out, take a chance.

If we can take chances with what we put into our mouths, why not with what we take in with our eyes? After all, a paperback (let alone an e-book) is a lot cheaper than a good fish dinner, and if you quit when you’re half-way finished, no one can see the leftovers on your plate and blame you for wasting food. (“There are illiterate children in China who would love to read that book!”)

A lot of people would choose the cheeseburger book. Others would go for the hazelnut-encrusted halibut novel. It doesn’t matter; they both go well with a glass of wine, and we all have to eat.


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If you are an SF “fan,” in the con-going sense, you are likely familiar with the Sad Puppies/Hugo Award controversy. If you are not, Google it. I’ll wait. I also gave an opinion here.

Now that Hugo nominations are in, we are all wondering who will be included, who excluded–or, to be honest, we’re all dying to know if anyone on the Sad Puppies list will make the ballot again this year. (Last year a few did, only to be clobbered in the voting.) But to occupy my time while waiting, I would like to consider: Why are the Sad Puppies limited to the Hugo Awards?

As near as I can tell, the S.P.s have not taken any stand on the Nebulas (or any other award), even though cross-over between the Hugos and Nebulas is pretty common. It is exciting, but not rare, for a work to receive both nominations. So why have the Sad Puppies concentrated on the Hugos and ignored the Nebulas? (Disclaimer: I do not know any of these people, nor have I ever spoken to them. What follows is entirely my speculation.)

I can think of two reasons: First, the S.P.s think they have a better chance of swaying fandom than the pro ranks; or second, it’s all for the PR and attacking the Hugos gets you more bang for your buck.

If it’s the first, then the S.P.s may be barking up the wrong tree. Although Nebula nominating and voting is solely the prerogative of SFWA members, the Nebula voting pool is far smaller than the Hugo population. And whether your beef is with political correctness, or the types of “literary” stories that get nominated, there is as wide a political/literary spectrum in SFWA as in the greater fannish universe. You could easily get such a conversation started in SFWA (assuming you’re a member, which these guys are/could be–except for one, but I’m not going there). And it would take far fewer votes on your side to accomplish your aim. It looks like a good idea…

So why not the Nebulas? Well, there’s reason no. 2: it’s all for the PR. Not necessarily for the founders of the movement, but for the type of fiction they want to see more widely read. There is some proof of this, since they recently pushed a series of “book bombs” for their slate, and profess to be happy with the results. There’s nothing wrong with that; Lord knows pushing your book or story–even when traditionally published–is a constant slog, so these guys are just paying it forward. But that’s not what they tell us this is all about. In their own terms, it’s supposed to be about pushing the kind of books and stories the “elites” don’t want read, or at least don’t want to read.

And yet, by some meaningful standard, SFWA members are the “elite.” Certainly many (if not most) fans want to be part of the group. So why not to try to sway them? Because doesn’t serve their agenda.

SFWA members are a much more compact set of voters. They know each other, hang out at special meetings. And if you think fans react poorly to perceived manipulation, you haven’t talked to writers. Taking on the Hugos creates buzz among readers; “Sad Puppies for the Nebulas” would start a huge kerfuffle amongst writers.

And maybe they just don’t want that kind of publicity.

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Publicity 101…Not!

A few days ago M and I dropped by the UCLA campus to check out the Quidditch matches. (Hey, don’t knock it if you haven’t watched it.) While there, we were approached by a lovely young lady who identified herself as a reporter for the Daily Bruin. (I believe we were profiled because we were pretty much the oldest people there.) She asked us a few questions about our views of Quidditch, got our names, and thanked us.

The article appeared on-line, with quotes from me. And since the student population of UCLA is roughly 30,000, a lot of people could have seen that article, including my name. (Not to mention that it’s on line.) Nice publicity for a new writer. The only problem is, I completely failed to give the reporter my pen name, nor did I mention that I am a fantasy writer, despite the obvious connection to the event.

A new talent in any field has to make his own name for himself. Fate threw me a pass, and I dropped the ball. Next time I’m wearing those sticky gloves.

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