Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Polling the Seven Readers About What I Should Write Next

What the hell, let's make this democratic.  I inserted a poll to this blog (to the right of your screen).  Hopefully the text is legible and you can select an option as you prefer.  While the deadline is set for a week, I'd like to get some results in before Friday, so I can get a good idea which idea is good for you.  ;-)

It's all up to you people.  And don't worry: I'll make sure that regardless of the plot line, I will include an action sequence involving exploding penguins.


Monday, August 29, 2011

In Lieu of the 3-Day Novel

Normally, this is the week I'd get ready for the 3-Day Novel Contest.

But not this year.

For one thing, you have to pay for it.  Ouch.

Second, I've found that having it Labor Day weekend makes some sort of sense... except that it's usually the same weekend as the start of college football.  And my devotions to USF, UF (and my family's devotions to the same as well as Mom's War Eagle roots) seem to take a full day out of my attempts to write.  This year, for example, I may have to babysit my nephews while my twin brother and his wife head up to Gainesville for the UF home opener, and while Mom & Dad are off at Selmon's for the Auburn watch party.

Third, that despite all my efforts and planning and outlining... well, what I come up with tends not to be well-written, well-organized... and nearly everything I've pounded out basically are works I've never re-visited.

So this year, I'm swearing off the 3-Day.

Instead, I'm doing the 4-Day Whatever-The-Hell-I-Write Self-Imposition.

The plan is to write something on each day of the weekend - Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday - that do not necessarily have to be novels.  I do, after all, have an interest in writing short stories, and I think my short story efforts can be done within a day.

Given the epublishing limits or lack thereof - that I can basically write a short story however long I want, well into novella size if need be - I could well get at least ONE thing done over this weekend that's publish-worthy.

Some of the ideas up for work are a story idea I've had for awhile about a wacky road trip to Vegas (the trickiest part is writing the whole thing in present tense, which is harder than you think); a humor story about teens planning a Skip Day; another story in my superhero 'verse; an unemployed insomniac getting wrapped up in an unusual criminal conspiracy; and perhaps revisiting an old story in my files that needs a rewrite.

So there goes, here goes, it will go, it may have went.  Shush, I'm working on tenses...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Self-Publishing, Self-Marketing

If any of you seven readers of this blog get into self-publishing, you need to recognize that the real key to success is marketing.

Sure, a good story goes a long way, but if people don't even know that story exists and is available for download to anyone's ereader... well, it just sits there.

When I mention to people on the various online chats I visit that I self-publish stories, more often than not they will ask me "What's it like to go that route?  How hard is it to get self-published?"

I always reply that the publishing part is easy.  Just find a good self-publish site online - say, Smashwords - and follow their instructions to create an account, then follow the instructions to upload and prepare your story for publication format.

Formatting sounds difficult, but it's not.  As long as you know Page Setup / Format Paragraph options for your word processor (more than likely Microsoft Word, or if you're cheap Wordpad which comes with the Windows OS) you can format:
  • Auto-Indent of first line (usually half-inch or .5).
  • 1.5 or double-space line spacing.
  • Default font and Default size (usually 11 pt - 12 pt to begin with).  If you want to make sure, set your font to Times New Roman, which is standard font.
  • (Optional: 6pt spacing after each paragraph to create legibility between paragraphs)

The other thing to know is that you're publishing to a format - usually ePub - that shares traits with HTML.  That means:
  • No fancy fonts that HTML doesn't recognize (that's why I said Times New Roman earlier.  You can use Arial as your sans serif font.  Really don't mess with any other).
  • No text symbols (umlauts, tildes, that Scandinavian o with a slash through it, stuff like that) that would get eaten by HTML.
  • You can use Bold and Italic for highlighting of text, as HTML/ePub recognizes that.
  • You can create links within your story itself: especially links to personal websites to promote author information and direct traffic to other works for sale.

This is all standard desktop-publishing techniques/tricks.  The basic rule: keep it simple, but also readable.  (This is why asking friends with the right skill sets to edit your work before publishing is a really really good idea)

That all is easy for me.

The problem I have is marketing.  Getting the word out.  Advertising.  There's a level of aggressiveness to marketing to where I'm just simply not comfortable doing it.

If you've got salesmanship skills, good for you.  The trick for marketing ebooks as best I can tell is blogging, webpage sites, getting ebook reviewers to sample and review your titles, word of mouth, local author signing events at bookstores, stuff like that.  The specifics still elude me.

The regional gathering of the Florida Writers' Association (I just joined this year) had someone a few months ago present a lecture on self-marketing.  I gotta see about getting some one-on-one help with this, and see about getting the stuff I have out now more aggressively known.

I have more writing in me.  There's a few writing events coming soon (a Write-A-Comic event for October oooh yeah, the NaNoWriMo obviously.  But not the 3-Day Novel.  I'm burned out of that) and I think I can squeeze out another story for publishing this year.  If I can do that, I need to market it like mad the second I get it uploaded.

Good luck, self-publishers!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Librarian Is

Derek Thompson posted on The Atlantic the other day this article "What People Don't Get About Working In A Library".

Naturally, I posted my own response, defining in my terms what a Librarian is.

Librarian = Bibliographic expert.

Librarian = Research specialist.

Librarian = Hunter-Gatherer of the Information Savanna.

Librarian = Finder Of Secrets.

Librarian = Wielder of Reader Advisories.

Librarian = Party Organizer and part-time Hogwarts Professor Impersonator (true.  I got a photo of me in a Hagrid outfit around here somewhere...).

Essentially, to me a Librarian is a key player in the Information Age, the professional who can store, sort, index and locate all forms of materials in all formats (print, audiovisual, electronic).

Don't sell us short.