Friday, March 29, 2013

Promotion Plan

I've written about the type of promotion a writer does for his or her book before. But it is clear to me now so I thought I'd go over it again.

To start there are personal appearances. These are the book launch and author readings and other appearances you might make at a convention. There are reader and book conventions and probably genre specific conventions you can attend.

Then there appearances in newspapers, TV, and radio. Newspapers still carry weight is a portion of the reading public so it is important not to overlook these. I'm hoping to network myself into an interview or two with some of the smaller newspapers in the area.

I'm also planning to have my author reading covered by the local access TV station so I can use the video online and distribute it to other access TV stations in the area.

And of course you need an internet presence. A web site and presence in different forums where you make connections with others who in turn and help guide you and hopeful support you when your book launch comes. My main focus has been here but I'm starting to branch out to other venues.

I'm also trying to attract an audience now with my free short stories. My hope is they will put down money for my book when it releases if they have liked my other stories. There is no guarantee of this. In fact, given the amount of free reading material available now, it may be possible to never pay for a book or a story again.

But free stories are like free software. Some are good and some are not. You get what you pay for and putting down money almost always guarantees a quality story because so many people have been involved with bringing the novel to market. That's not true of self-published work and especially not true of free stories that are self-published. So you can buy wholesale, so to speak, bur you may be very disappointed. Caveat emptor.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Author reading

It appears that my local library will host an author reading. So I'm thinking about suggesting they hold one for me late May or early June prior to the release of my novel. I'll see what they say and if my publisher can supply copies of my novel to sell.

I know nothing about the format or length of such an event. I suppose it would about an hour with me reading various things. On that point, it occurred to me to read some of my poetry, some shorter short stories, and excerpts from my novel. But as I think about that, it seems to be no so good an idea. Perhaps someone in the audience wants to buy my poetry or short stories, what then? I have nothing available in that space and no plans to publish my poetry any time soon.

I think I'm going to have to ask the library and my publisher what to do. And I keep going back and forth who do I ask first? I think I talk to my publisher first to get their input. They're the experts here, not I. That will also let me go to the library with a single request that hopefully will not change.

For anyone reading this who might be interested in attending, I will post the time and date and location once I know what it is.

Stay tuned and keep writing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coming Soon

At the end of this month I'm going to release another short story in Smashwords. The last story I released has been averaging one download a day which is the best I've seen so far. I think part of the reason for this is I've seven stories posted there now and people can see I'm not a one-hit wonder.

Another reason is I'm making all my short stories free, at least for now, so that people will come and read and learn my name. That will make it easier to sell Book 1 when it releases. At least I hope so. My thinking is if they like my short stories they are more likely to put down money for my novel in a few months.

That's another reason why I'm releasing stories on a regular basis. To get folks in the habit of checking for my stuff. If they do, they should find out about my book was it releases.

Of course, I will advertise. There'll be a press release in May that the book is available for presale and I'll be going around to post notices in various web sites that will let me do that sort of thing.

Prior to that I should have some marketing material ready. The tricky part here is I don't know exactly when I'm getting the artwork from the publisher. They said April without giving a specific date. I don't think they know yet.

Now I have the difficult task of picking the story to release. That's hard because I only want to release a story that's ready and sometimes that's hard to know. I've been known to rush a story out only to find out the ending needs works or a scene in the middle needs revision.

But this is how a writer learns what is good and what is not. And to go slow. So now I let stories sit for a time, like dough for a pie. When it rises again, I will read it and see if it is ready.

This time I've got a story in mind. I'll be reading it next week to see if it is really ready.

In the meantime, Book 4 beckons.

Keep writing everyone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Price of Following the Muse

Back in the 90's I spent a lot of my free time with friends. Those were more carefree days and lots of fun but I did this at the cost of not writing. I could have been working on the stories that I am completing now. I had many of the ideas I am now writing about. But I chose to be social and enjoyed myself.

That changed when my father died in 1995. After that friends got married, began families, moved away. That's all perfectly fine, of course. That's life. I found myself doing less social things and filled my time with other things. I met my wife and bought a house because I too am not immune from life and the changes it brings.

More recently, say 2009, I began to make conscious decisions to pursue my creative writing in a way I had not before. That took some doing. I had to back out of several commitments, in some case volunteer work I had done for years, and close down a small web site consulting business I had started. I also had to isolate myself so I would have the time to write without distraction. This is still true. I need large blocks of time that I can dedicate to writing. That means if writing isn't your regular job that you spend much time alone, apart, and staring into the soft glow of your computer's screen.

I'm not regretting those decisions. I made them consciously. I decided it was time to tip the balance back toward the one part of my life I had ignored for so long. So I shut down other parts of my life to do it because there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything -- at least not for me.

But the price of that is I am less social -- far less social -- and I miss my friends some of whom I've not seen in many years, of course that has more to do with the fact that they moved away than any decision I made. And I suppose this highlights the fact that I prize friendships greatly because I am slow to make friends and once make one I like to keep them like a favorite sweater. But that's not always possible for lots of reasons.

I tell myself that this is the price of pursuing my art. That a writer -- or any artist -- needs time to make his or her art. And that's true. But it is also an excuse. If I wanted to I could make the effort to connect with others. And I do that now and again. But the truth is no one makes the effort to connect with me either. Friendship, like so many things, is a two-way street and now that I am busy with all the writing and promotion and editing and revision and publishing of my stories, lots of other things are taking a backseat. And so if others will not make the effort I guess I'm going to be very lonely.

What a shame. Because I could easily put my writing aside for a few hours for any friend who wanted to reconnect. But the sad part is they won't because they are busy too. But they are also scared I think, afraid to offend or be rejected or waste time if I am suddenly too busy for them. But that as I said isn't the case.

So this is the part I pay for remaking my life. Is it a high pay to pay? Ask me again in a few years; I may be able to answer that question then.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Revise Early and Often

These days it seems like I can't go more than a few paragraphs before I stop and revise what I'm doing. That's not a bad thing but it does add to the time it takes to complete something.

I suppose the real culprit here is not have a good solid few hours to work on any one thing. All the interruptions force me to refocus and then revise what I'm doing.

And I'm realizing that revise is probably the wrong word here. Review is probably more accurate. Yet during my downtime away from everything, I do truly revise and change bits of stories so I can go back the next day to fix what I've done.

It's all about saying what I want to say and saying it the way I want to say it. Sometimes I don't have a preference on the what I want to say but I want to say it in a way that is interesting. The recent combat scene I finished the other day in Book 4 is an example. It didn't matter to me what the particulars of the combat were. But I absolutely wanted to describe them in an engaging way. That was hard because I find writing combat scenes not very interesting.

So when I revise I look for what is being said and what is not being said. Is there anything to add? Can I clarify my point by changing words? Can I simplify the whole mess and say this in a more straightforward way? Often I'm doing all of these things at once in a really heavy edit. But more often than not, I reserve those time to when I can step back and see a story or section of a story in its entirety because editing here and there is like making a patchwork quilt. And in general, that's not my goal.

The other thing I ask myself when I re-read my work is this: Do I like the way it reads? I edit for the ear as well as the eye, you see. I re-read the first chapter of Book 2 the other day to see if I still liked it. And I have to say there's something there I don't like. I can't put my finger on it but I'm sure I will. Eventually.

Keep writing -- and revising -- everyone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Publishing Schedule

I had to swap my Monday and Tuesday schedule to accommodate a medical appointment. That done, I'm back writing.

I've been hammering on the writing projects I've got open. Book 4 has been giving me lots of trouble. I keep writing and rewriting the same scenes over and over trying to reach a point that I'm happy with. The short story I'm working on has along been hard to finish. I think I figured out where it is going and how to get there. 

In both cases I've had to think about the story in question in great detail to ensure the story works because I've got several stories that I've completed that aren't working for me now. They will have to be rewritten. 

Part of the problem here is I've had much less time to focus on my writing. This happens from time to time. Fortunately, my schedule should settle down soon. So I'm hoping to make more strides forward soon. 

In the meantime, I am waiting to see the physical proof of Book 1 from the publisher in April. Also in April, I will receive the artwork for my promotional material. This includes the final cover art, marketing images, and a PDF of the book interior. In May, virtual tour bookings will begin. And sometime in between now and the end of May the book tour should be ready.

That's the word I have about what's coming. I'll let everyone know when the book is available for presale. Stay tuned everyone.

And keep writing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Everyone's a Critic

For those who don't follow me on Twitter, my name there is @feitelberg. Now, as it happens there's a @jfeitelberg in the area and I some time get his tweets and I'm sure he just some of mine. Yesterday, I got several from his crew.

The first commented that my twitter feed was weird. I don't know what that means since my twitter feed mirrors my blog posts. So I ignored that tweet. I have nothing to say to that. If someone finds it strange or weird that's their opinion. There are entitled to it.

Next there was a question of where they could find my stuff? By this I assumed they might my stories. So I directed this person to my web site There are links there to my work along with other things.

Lastly, there was a tweet about why I had not received the physical proof of my novel yet. I didn't understand this since it is only of interest to me. But I answered nonetheless that the physical proof is due next month.

Then I did a little checking on these people. They all appear to be young (20-ish) and more interested in sports than fantasy novels. It occurred to me that this might be a form of cyber bullying that you hear about but at the same time they might buy my novel too, I suppose.

But I think the bigger issue here is that in a world of social media, everyone's a critic and offers an opinion even when it is not insightful or thought provoking. I was raised differently and I try not to open my mouth unless I have a point to make. Hopefully, my blog posts reflect that even if my points are small ones and minor. That's better than have no point and just making noise.

But I suspect once my novel is out, I'll be fielding comments that are a lot more noise so I suppose I'll just have to get used to it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Upgrading Technology Needs to be Easier

My wife and I have suffered through a few technology upgrades recently. I say 'suffered' because the process could have been a lot easier. Here's what happened:

My wife's laptop died and she needed a new computer. She had a backup but the operating systems of the backup and the new computer didn't match. So she could do a full restore. She had to install all her applications from scratch and then adjust them. And she had to move all her data back herself too. In some cases that was tricky because the operating system wants things in certain places and we had to jump through hoops to get the data in the right format.

We also upgraded phones. Again we couldn't just backup and restore the data because the operating system of the phone was older than that of the backup. We had to update the new phone first. And even when my wife did that she was missing all her apps because they didn't transfer from her old phone to her new computer when she synced it months ago. Instead, she had to install all her apps onto her computer so they could be transferred to her new phone.

Frankly, I found both processes a lot harder than they should have been and I'm finding that new versions of software that I've used for years, harder to use than before. The redesigned iTunes is a perfect example. The download feature is buried in the right corner at the top. Since I use that a lot to update apps I've purchased not finding it in the left navigation any more was very confusing.

The search feature in Word is another example: there are three levels of search and I usually want the third level so I have to click through a few controls every session so I can get to the controls I want. I find this needless, but I'm sure Microsoft changed this because the advanced search confuses people. So I am punished because I understand it and am a power user.

And I say all this as someone who has written about technology for years and have helped design teams with usability. Usability is, of course, the study of how people use things. What they find intuitive and what they can't use easily. The idea is to make products so easy to use it is effortless. Technology companies are failing in that practice, I think. Increasingly I find new products harder to use which means I am less likely to upgrade unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

My wife had to change computers, for example, her old one died. And I wanted the faster 4G LTE on my phone, which is why I upgraded that. But I'm not upgrading my desktop computer even though the operating system is two versions old. Instead, I'm likely to buy a new laptop. Why? Because it avoids a standard upgrade path. But I'm still thinking about it so I might forget the whole thing and like with my aging computer.

The bottom line here is this: technology is suppose to enhance our lives and make it easier but the effort to stay current is getting to be too hard and is not always an improvement. Technology companies would be wise to pay attention to this and make their products as effortless as possible.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Upcoming Schedule

My novel is definitely on a slow march to being released. The next thing on the schedule is getting a physical proof of the book. This is due in April. About the same time I should very some of the marketing materials the publisher is creating so I will finally be able to show everyone the image of the cover and maybe a few other things too.

What is not clear is when will the book trailer be ready. I asked about this and got the very vague answer it will be ready by the time the book releases. If it weren't for the fact that making the trailer requires lots of images I don't have and a soundtrack for music, I'd create the thing myself. I even when so far so to search for some images but when I reviewed the storyboard I developed I realized I cannot do it justice.

I suppose I could try a scaled-down version with less images and more words, but I'll still need some music. I'll have to search the web to see what I can find and decide on the feel I want for the trailer.

I think the lesson here is not to leave this to others in the future, which will be hard less I really don't have the resources and finding good royalty-free images and music that's appropriate is really hard.

In the meantime I have another short story to finish and I need to try to move Book 4 along some more.

Keep writing everyone.