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Brands and otherwise August 13, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, New Mexico, science fiction, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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Writing westerns requires some knowledge of cattle brands. Not much, really, but enough to sound authentic. I have a great deal of fun coming up with ranches sporting such brands as the Rolling J. But writing has changed from merely thinking about such things and dealing with them every day. A different type of brand is needed now.

Publishers don’t promote (or advertise) much anymore, so it is up to the author to deal with this important aspect of writing. What good does it do to write the best novel ever in the history of the universe only to have it ignored? Advertising, promotion–and creating a brand for yourself. All are integral to sales now.

Some things seem obvious but aren’t. There are a lot of reasons to go to a convention. Attending as a fan is entirely different from going as a writer. How you dress, how you act, your entire persona is the face you are putting not only on yourself but your work. This is part of the author’s brand (and I’m not necessarily talking about that tramp stamp). You don’t have to be staid and sober (I’d say, sober as a judge but this is Abq and such things are rare here) unless that’s the image and fiction you are peddling. Enjoy yourself but don’t get falling down drunk or insult people unless you can do it in a humorous way not likely to get you sued or punched out. Even then….

Bubonicon is coming up. Come to my panels, come to my autographing (got lots of new titles!), see how I approach the idea of strengthening my brand. So you’ll recognize me, here’s a picture taken recently in New Orleans.

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Been There, Done That…But… December 9, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, fantasy, ideas, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
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A couple years ago I came up with a dynamite idea. Super stuff. Still think it’s great but there’s only time to do so much, and this one has been sitting on the cerebral back burner. Imagine my horror when I came across other authors’ use of that very idea. How dare they!

Ideas can’t be copyrighted, of course, and I looked this “usurpation” over. It’s, let’s be polite, terrible. Nothing like the idea still churning away like a green chile burrito in the gut, only in my head. I may still give this a try, but it has dropped a notch or two on my to-do list because of possible perception I was just copying what has already been done (and not too successfully if the Amazon sales # is accurate, which I doubt, but that’s another story).

Harken back to 1973. I had gone to Torcon World SF Convention and had a chance to meet one of the greats in sf fandom, Bob Tucker. We’d written a few letters back and forth and he had done a couple articles for my fanzine (think dead tree blog with staples, if you will). I had the horrible, awful, sinking feeling I would be introduced and have nothing whatsoever to say to him–and vice versa. Turned out to be a misplaced fear. Tucker greeted me like a friend of a thousand years and the first words out of his mouth were, “I stole an idea from you!” What? How can that be? And we spent the next hour talking…like friends of a thousand years.

But he had only taken something I’d written and run with it in a direction I never considered. Therein lies the truth about ideas.

They are never unique. It’s how you use them in a story that’s most important. Last night a friend said that Steinbeck stole Of Mice and Men from a social worker. I couldn’t pin him down if he meant flat out plagiarism or simply using information about the Dust Bowl. One is completely different from the other. It’s hard to believe anyone could see such social upheaval and physical destruction without thinking what a novel it would make. Ideas are out there everywhere.

The old story about John Campbell assigning the same idea to 3 writers might be apocryphal but the punch line is worth mentioning. Two turned in stories so far apart in treatment it was almost impossible to figure out what the kernel had been. What you do with the idea matters. And what writer hasn’t read something and thought, “I can do better than that!” And with elements completely missed and adding a character, and getting rid of that annoying part, but I can…

You get the idea. Which is the idea.

frankernest2

Your Only Excuse For Not Being There Is Winning the Lottery June 12, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in Uncategorized.
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I am talking about the Albuquerque Comic Expo, of course. You should have been there and you missed out big time unless you were collecting the big Powerball prize.

The guests were super, the exhibits topnotch, the costumes were many and varied. And here is the booth Scott Phillips and I shared.

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And through Scott’s myriad connections in the indie film world, I managed to get a booth babe to help out this year. Ashley Bryce spent the day Saturday drawing in potential book readers. Some of them might even have diverted their eyeballs to the printed word, but I don’t fault them if they didn’t. (Ashley on the left, Sarah on the right).

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Meeting fans such as Luis makes such a weekend worthwhile. Talking with all the artists and watching the guests go about their work amazes me. Jim Kelly was indefatigable. Katee Sackhoff was everywhere, on the floor talking to fans when she wasn’t signing pictures. Dean Stockwell was an unannounced guest, but I only saw him once. Guests, even last minute ones, ought to be advertised. Comics mainstay Stan Lee let folks take his picture out on the display floor. I just wasn’t fast enough or close enough to get my picture taken with him, alas.
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Marvelous costumes abounded but my skill using a cellphone camera are nil. Here are a few that actually turned out ok.

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The one costume that blew me away I didn’t even get a blurry shot of. If anyone can supply a good picture, I’ll send you an autographed copy of Steampunk’d. The lady had on (obviously from the prize) a steampunk outfit, mostly white motif with red highlights, with an incredible lens over right eye/cog face piece. I told her I’d get her picture when she returned for a copy of Steampunk’d. She never came back and I missed a final chance Saturday to snap a picture as she probably rushed out for the costume contest (which I understand was incredible but unfortunately missed–there are downsides to manning your own table)

Tonight begins the Western Writers of America conference (and this morning I got the great news that I’d sold 2 more westerns–this makes the remainder of 2012 very very busy). I leave you with more pictures from ACE 2012 and high praise for Greg, Mike and Craig for putting on such a fun convention.

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