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Content is King, Context is God March 17, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, education, podcast, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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So said Gary Vaynerchuk at his talk Tuesday night. The point he is making boils down to finding how people get their information. Push ads traditionally have been aired on radio, TV and in print. Then came spam. All of it is being ignored. His stat was the average teenage girl texts 14 times a day and only uses the phone to speak a few times a month. Get into the mobile world and you’ll see better results with your promotions.

He just aired his 1000th YouTube video on wines and got 300 emails. He put his first mobile video up and got 1100 emails. The shift is occurring from desktop to mobile and to reach the most people you need to drift with it.

He is less a FB proponent than a Tumblr. I’ve never found anyone who used Tumbr, so tell me about it. I know you can easily post video and audio as well as text. Anything else recommending it? Is there an easier pipeline into the mobile handset market?

One takeaway from his talk sums up business and life as a whole: effort is underrated.

You have to want to make it and ignore the roadblocks. No playing the victim. Think about where you want to go and how you want to get there. Then be flexible when the rules change–or the game changes.

Vaynerchuk sells wine. Translating what he says about marketing to books and VIPub is fairly easy. We can sell virtual products, we can set the price, we need to bring in readers–and we need to keep those readers. I always thought of reading as a personal pursuit and have come to believe the author supplies 75% and the reader 25% to any “reading experience.” The author cannot possibly know what hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, a reader has so that 25% is always out there flapping in the breeze. But touch even a part of it with our 75% and a thread is spun. Use Vaynerchuk’s ideas of promotion and it can be a hawser.

As I said yesterday, I’m probably not going to get The Thank You Economy but I do have my copy of Crush It! and likely will give it another read with new eyes to pick up on what I missed the first time through.

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Quick on the Draw October 13, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, e-books, iPad, nostalgia, podcast, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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Saturday (and final comments on the 21st Cowboy Symposium).

Huge crowds pouring in and I think I have come to hate people who put their kids in strollers built like MBTs.  They have cowcatchers on the front for brutally cutting through crowds, causing people to stumble about, and are equipped with more cup holders and gadget shelves than the UAV (Urban Assault Vehicles) they probably drove to get wherever they’re going.  They have to drive the UAVs since the strollers are too large for anything smaller than a dump truck.

That aside, my second talk went very well.  Melody Groves’ on bars in the Old West following mine was well attended, also.  The state of NM inexplicably has a “Trails and Tales” winnebago or whatever (only somewhat larger than a stroller) which has to cost the state prodigious amounts of money and is sketchy to embarrassingly trivial with its display.  I meandered around the fairgrounds after taking a lunch break to see the chuckwagons.  This is a phenomenon where lots of different trail companies bring in cooks to fix trail grub for upward of 30 people at a time.  Hugely popular and made my mouth water as I explored.

The autographing picked up but I found myself curiously acting as evangelist for the iPaddy.  More than one attendee came by and asked for a demonstration.  I should have been selling them!  The interest was high and I was willing to show off the capabilities.  I had put all my covers on a slideshow to draw some interest.  It did.  But not to buy my books.  One guy asked if I had any westerns as ebooks.  Nope, don’t.  Other than in the series I write titles in but can’t claim authorship of.  He opened his vest and showed that he carried his Kindle.  There is some small tide rising even in the western readership, it seems.

A while back Belinda Gail and I swapped “friendship” on Facebook.  Got the chance to talk to her a little before she took the stage for her set.  She can belt out “Cattle Call” and other old timey western songs.  Very nice.  And it turns out she got married the next day (10-10-10) [what’s that in binary?] Congrats.

Here are pix rounding up the symposium.  Had a lot of fun, talked to a lot of people and now it’s back to reality.

Talik’ ‘n Signin’ October 12, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, e-books, food, podcast, VIPub, web & computers, westerns, writing.
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Up to Friday: Condo bed was so soft I considered breathing through a straw.  But my back didn’t hurt when I got up in the morning so I count that as a good bed.

Had breakfast at the Cornerstone Bakery and hustled over to the Ruidoso Downs.  Found the WWA desk easily.

My talk was the first one out of the chute.  I had one guy, so I scrubbed the lecture and went into just talking mode.  Another guy came in and we had a grand ole time.  Ollie Reed introduced me and hung round to hear what I had to say (or because the Bobby Flores band with its really cute (apprentice) fiddle player Caitlyn wasn’t on stage yet).  Talk, well, conversation, was about the oral tradition in western culture.  I tried to give ways of updating how fiction is delivered through podcasts, as well as exploring the expanding audiobook market.  You can check out the bonus material by clicking on the appropriate spot on my Karl Lassiter front page.

Friday night had dinner with Mike & Melody Groves and Dick and Linda Hopkins after a day of mostly (for me) sitting round and not selling much in the way of books.  Mike got some good bbq, I got a six pack of Moosehead and there were margaritas and wine flowing, so we had a great time talking about how the Silverado set burned down and other NM filmy things.

Below are a couple WWA newbies undergoing their training in how to properly dress.  They passed.

Iconic September 24, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, education, ideas, inventions, nostalgia, podcast, science fiction, sense of wonder, writing.
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James Keeline posted this podcast done by the CBC about the Stratemeyer Syndicate, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and, of course (since I am writing about this at all), Tom Swift.

Toward the end, the president of the Nancy Drew fan club makes an excellent point. Nobody who has read the books (or even those who have not) will remember that Nancy (like Tom Swift) was conked on the head and knocked out a lot. Or anything in particular about any individual title. What is remembered is the idea of Nancy. And Tom. The can-do attitude that Thomas Friedman somehow thinks is missing in America now.
Inventiveness. Refusal to give up. OK, I’ll say it, pluckiness. These were the character traits of the Stratemeyer books (about 1100 of them). Kids read them and didn’t get horrendous pop-psych introspection about why they are failures, why their country sucks, that good intentions trump good results.

People who talk about the “rags to riches” Horatio Alger plots mostly haven’t read them. The main character is down and out but the gains are small by today’s standards–but possible. The bootblack doesn’t become CEO of a multinational corp, he gets his own shoeshine kit. Through determination, inventiveness and, yes, pluck.

The point to take away isn’t the individual book or the plots or, in Tom’s case, the inventions (though I think they are cool). It’s the icon. Do kids want flawed, realistic heroes or do they want adventure, somebody who can do things they wish they could? I was always in awe that Tom somehow had never gone to high school and yet had vast resources and could travel the world and build giant robots and diving seacopters and spaceships. The Hardy Boys were always on vacation (my memory is of a single scene out of the first 40 or so books set in their high school–and it was a single chapter). Ken Holt was always out there hunting for news stories. Rick Brant hopped around the world and actually built stuff that was plausible.

Since I am neither an icon nor on vacation, I must get to work. But do give the CBC podcast a listen if you enjoy any of the Stratemeyer books and want a bit more insight.

What Works September 3, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in conventions, e-books, ideas, podcast, robot rights, sci-fi, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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Continuing from the notes I took on Pari Noskin Taichert’s seminar at Bubonicon 42.

Two things needed for marketing your work:
1) Consistency
2) a long list of ways to promote. Check it out a couple days back but I wanted to go into one she likes. Radio. This medium has several advantages. You are usually doing something else while the radio is on, so your message is more likely to be followed through to the end. Channel hopping in a car notwithstanding, of course. Think of radio as subliminal, oozing into the brain because retention of the message is better with the association of other things. I’d love to be on Coast 2 Coast AM, for instance, maybe talking about Uncanny Encounters: Roswell
but associating anything with the show gives dual bang for the buck. Whenever C2C is mentioned, chances are better for remembering your work if you’ve been on. (But why oh why do they keep giving Richard Hoagland air time?)

Pari also reiterated what has been discussed here at length. Book tours aren’t all that good now, taking up precious time with little bang for the buck. But they might be better if they are integrated into a media campaign–which likely means radio.

Since getting on commercial radio shows with any regularity isn’t likely, what’s an author to do? Mike Stackpole has had great response to his Cover 2 Cover podcasts. I did one for Radio Riel that was well received. These offer a less structured informal way of getting to know the audience and letting them know you and your work.

What do you need to convey? Go for a thematic description rather than relating the plot. You’ve told the story in print (or at least in words that can be read). You don’t expect a billboard to give you the plot. You expect it to let you know this is a thrilling military sf novel or one of deep sociological examination of what it means to be robot or an exploration of the effect of an alien artifact on human emotions and needs.

I came across this site via Zumaya Books. The guy is another of the “tweet to sell” types. I have read other books on this and have yet to figure out why (or even how) this works. That so many claim it works tells me it is time to go back to Crush It! and this site and similar others to try to figure it all out.

As Pari said, choose a couple ways you like for promotion and can keep up with, then press on with them.

VIPub, folks, VIPub!

VIPub at Bubonicon September 1, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in Chain story, contest, conventions, e-books, ideas, movies & TV, podcast, sci-fi, Second Life, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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Saturday saw a quick seminar with Pari Noskin Taichert talking on ways to promote and advertise and me holding form on e-publishing. The differences between POD and e-books was addressed but having only 20 min (each), everything was highly condensed. If you’ve read my blog for very long, and if not for shame!, then you know what I had to say about e-publishing.

Here’s what Pari had to say about getting your work noticed. She’s a former (for 20 years) PR media type who found true love writing mysteries. Go figure. Who’d give that up (or being a physicist) to just, you know, write? 😉

Two elements are necessary to keep in your PR cross hairs:
1) consistency. You need a single simple message and to keep at it. Call it branding or simply presenting the same face to the public, you can’t be all over the place. I see this as something of a problem since I do westerns as well as f & sf. Mysteries, too. Concentrating on just one would be best. Multiple contact is needed to reinforce your presence, your very existence. A single isn’t going to work. There has to be a lot of them, all saying the same thing: look at me, I have something you really really want. (I put in a discount code in the Bubonicon 42 Program Book–distribution, over 600. Response. Zero. Luckily it cost me nothing but I know this type of ad isn’t working. I have more hope for the e-mail addresses gathered at the Golden Reflections panel).

2) use the 2 or 3 promotional techniques you like most. If you like to go to the mat getting newspaper coverage, do it. Or TV. Or radio. There’s podcasting. Social networking like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs. Second Life. Website. (You really need a website. If you can’t handle that, hire it out.) You own online store. Book trailers. Ads. Autographings. Book tours. Promo items like bookmarks and posters, maybe author trading cards to autograph for the e-book readers. Newsgroups like Bryant Street. Con appearances. Speeches to various public groups. Writers groups and co-ops like BookView Café. Newsletters. Book reviews. Skywriting. The Chain Story Project. Who knows what else?

You can’t do them all. You wouldn’t want to. So choose what you can keep up with. There’s nothing worse than getting going and then finding that it’s a terrible drag, a drain on your psychic energy you need to write.

Most of all, find the balance you need between the writing and producing of product and promoting it. VIPub, gang, VIPub.

More of what Pari had to say in a later blog.

The Sleeping Giants May 2, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, fantasy, ideas, podcast, sci-fi, Second Life, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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There are variants on “when it’s steam engine time steam engines will be built.” Right about now I think many (more) sf writers are coming to realize the publishing world is in a death spiral and that things must change. I read this at the blog Big Lizards which reinvents the wheel (see any of Mike Stackpole’s
comments about writers and their stupidity. In Big Lizard’s case, Dafydd abHugh isn’t stupid–quite the contrary. But he is covering ground Mike already has–a year and more ago.

We’re talking about VIPub, Vertically Integrated Publishing, where the author is everything along the food chain. Has some great ideas and is putting them into motion. The Chain Story will be up and linking in a day or two–small clink from a link. It will not only be great fun for writer and reader but a way of cross-advertising our work to a wider spectrum of fans. My store is slowly rebuilding and I am thinking of new and different ways of using it. Since up for the newsletter, if you check it out. There are freebie stories as well as others for sale, including nifty stuff from Scott Phillips where we’re exploring ePub and Kindle formats.

Scott and I are co-editing an anthology about crappy jobs that is shaping up to be incredible. Fiction (SF, fantasy, horror), psychological and a couple of the funniest nonfiction pieces I’ve come across since PJ O’Rourke. The print edition will come out under the Frantic Tentacles imprint but will be available in a wide variety of e formats and locations. Look for the announcement on this–we’re hoping to have it ready for debut at Bubonicon in late August.

If you missed my podcast in Second Life last week, give it a try here at Radio Riel More advertising under the VIPub rubric. Mike does a regular podcast on Cover-2-Cover. I’m running down a local radio show host who has a syndicated show reaching 200+ stations to see what can be dropped out there.

And sometime in the near future I’ll be doing a Q&A for the Del Rey e-zine, along with some work on their forum for God of War 1. (And it seems that my God of War 2 is already scheduled for January 2011!)

VIPub. Learn it, live it, love it for the wave of the present that it is if you’re an author.

Tom Swift and his Aerial Warship May 1, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in ideas, inventions, nostalgia, podcast, sense of wonder.
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The other day during the podcast in Second Life I was asked what I was reading. It’s a usual question, but sometimes I am in the process of reading several books. It seemed that fiction was the primary answer wanted. I was reading the above mentioned title in the Tom Swift Sr series.

Here’s a wonderful roundup of everything you’d ever want to know about the book.

These books are a true time machine giving a glimpse at an age a hundred years in the past. How they are written is fairly primitive (the fire in the shed takes six chapters to describe, primarily because the same information is dished out in different ways for that entire span). The inventiveness is sometimes in question. Tom needs to figure out a way of putting a whacking big cannon on a dirigible, the Mars. (I mourned for the loss of the Red Cloud, but that’s another story.) But he can’t figure out how to take care of the recoil until New Newton points out a pneumatic door closer.

Huge chunks of expository lump is avoided by the narrator saying “but I won’t weary you with such details.” It let the reader know there were such details but…I’d have wanted to know if I’d been reading this in 1915. Anyway, the undercurrent is that Europe is about to be plunged into war and Tom wants the US to have dandy weapons. Interestingly, the bad guy is a French spy. Not quite sure which side Tom would come down on in the Great War with such hints prior.

Scott and Pat gave me a huge box of the old TS books and I am slowly picking my way through them. My virtually complete collection (and the TS Jrs) were somehow lost in a move made decades ago. I started buying the TS Sr books when I was still in high school from a dealer in NJ named Gerry de la Ree. Great times paying as much as $5 for a title (with dj, of course) and $2 for reading copies and waiting for the mail to arrive. I’m not sure I have the same anticipation for the mail anymore when it comes with tons of bills and arcane demands from the tax & rev dept of NM. But remembering the thrill when I’d open the package, to find a neatly wrapped brown paper covered book inside, still lives with me.

Filling the Aether April 26, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, podcast, sci-fi, science fiction, Second Life, Uncategorized, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
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Yesterday was a busy day all around. Lots of mss to edit/correct and need to get them into the mail today. Also (yea!) Contracts. As happens from time to time, I turned in the book before I saw the contract. Can you say trust? Thank you Mr. Rogers.

I also went into Second Life as my avatar Goran Draconis for an interview. Through the miracles of modern technology and the wonderful folks at Radio Riel, here is the link I sound weird but I realized somewhere through it that the reason Art Bell tells his callers to turn off their radios is the 10 second delay. Weirdness is hearing what you’ve just said echoed. I was on Skype and a few seconds later the voice came out in Second Life.

But wait, as they are so fond of saying, there is more. I’ve mentioned Michael Zapp’s wondrous Legend Maker program for turning your dull, lifeless manuscripts into sparkling ePub and Kindle files. Here’s a write up about the program that gives the lowdown. Sure, you can do all the work yourself. But Legend Maker gives consistent output and makes sure you’re not to overlook that one little code that can drive you nutso trying to find and correct.

I have also launched my online store after much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Or is that whaling and noshing? The original store was hacked and I had to move it from the server to prevent the insidious climb from my ebooks all the way to the server root and disastrous hacking on a lot of other good people. Leif is a good guy and didn’t deserve to worry about this on my part. The new store’s been in the works for weeks so is still a bit skittish in places. Let me know. And sign up for the newsletter while you’re logged in. I intend to offer free fiction (on occasion), discounts (on occasion) and other goodies to nl subscribers.

To work. The wild wild west beckons.