Monday, July 27, 2009

Business or Networking?

Recently I have been thinking about business cards. People attending the Spinning Gold Conference are going to need one (if reported experiences of overseas conferences are anything to go by...)

But what use is the business card to a writer?

Writing is a business but you don’t have to be tied in to the standard business card model.

The Business Card is a Networking Card.

Networking cards have a different focus. They can have a personal statement or quote on them describing you - a selling point if you are looking for a job, a list of your achievements, a mini cv, your book cover or website logo or a classy photo of yourself....

A while ago I posted about branding for writers. It is something that I see as being of more and more benefit to creative people.
For a writer your name is your brand. So your networking card needs to reflect something of your personality /name/ brand.

One of my very favourite networking cards is Bob Kerr’s. For those of you who have met Bob Kerr, you will appreciate the genius of his business /networking card.

Bob is very tall. Bob wears jeans most days and is a fabulous illustrator and fine art exhibitor. Bob’s card reflects the first view most people have when they meet him. It is his self portrait in oils from the waistband of his jeans down. On the back of the card are his name and studio details.

Of course before you become famous and can employ staff to answer the phone (or not, as the baby is running and answering the phone for me at the moment) you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harriet interrupting your creative time so what information do you want or need on your networking card?

In my researching of different business cards I have found that concerns about identity theft are changing the way some people are thinking about the information they put on their networking card. Their address and phone numbers and personal email address’s are not on the card. All their web contacts are tho, website, blog, twitter, facebook etc urls are listed on the card.

So if you are thinking about your contact details maybe an online email address is for you. Don’t forget that you can write a personal phone number down on the card before you hand it to someone important. You will get a pen at the conference...(and some other goodies.... )

If you are a creative....and all writers are, we have a unique opportunity to make our networking card stand out, reflect our personality and say something about us.

I am enjoying working with my very creative friend, Trish, on ideas for my networking card which will get its debut at the Spinning Gold conference.

It would be great to see, at the conference, networking cards reflecting the personalities of the wonderful writers and illustrators we have here.

If you want some inspiration Smashing Magazine recently posted an article on some of the best and most creative cards out there with comments about their effectiveness and if you want a most different take on the business card watch the video...

Happy creative branding

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On the way to becoming famous...

Recently my attention was caught by a video article on an international forum I belong to about the changes that some publishers are doing to their websites.

One of the websites highlighted was Penguin USA. The discussion in this article was around the new features in the section Publishers office and what that could mean for writers...especially the great ideas you can borrow to ramp up your own websites.

At Penguin USA, publishers office, there are three main sections The Screening Room, The Radio room and The Reading Room.

The screening room has video casts of Q & A with the author of the featured book.

The Radio Room has podcasts interviews or audio excerpts of a different featured book.

The Reading Room has- you guessed it- an online teaser chapter of a featured book.

This technology can be used out there in the Author websites....Post a video of you being kids....or read out a chapter of your book...or...put a teaser on your page for visitors to read...
It all generates interest and excitement and makes your website look up to date etc.
Tania Roxborough is making great use of the teaser excerpt on her blog for her forthcoming book Banquo's Son.

I have been following Fifi’s efforts to produce a cool book trailer for Glory with interest.
And when it is finally will be knocked out...all with free technology...something else to go on her already spiffing website.

There has been lots of comment in the blogosphere over the 1000 true fans...see previous post about it here.

Guy Le Charles Gonzales (loudpoet) offers a different perspective building onto the 1000 true fans.
There is a little snippit below I recommend taking time to read the whole post...(it’s not long)

It does, however, offer a reference point for the next step in building an author’s platform.
Platform 101 was about laying the foundation, physically and virtually. Once you have your foundation in place, you will slowly begin to attract an audience, some of whom might one day become enthusiastic fans who will not only buy your books (and short stories, and CDs, and t-shirts, etc.) but, perhaps more importantly, will also mobilize and spread the word far and wide on your behalf, sometimes without your even having to ask.
Platform 201 is about attracting, engaging and energizing that community, and these are three fundamental points to keep in mind while doing so:
Platform 201: Engaging the Community

Along with the three points to go to the next step, Guy also has a video on his site that features Malcolm Gladwell of Outliers fame. Malcolm has excited comment with his book stating that to master a craft or become successful you need to put in 10,000 hours effort or about ten years...

Many people are busily totting up their hours to see if they come close but Seth Godin has a different take on it. Seth says that

You win when you become the best in the world, however 'best' and 'world' are defined by your market. In many mature markets, it takes 10,000 hours of preparation to win because most people give up after 5,000 hours. That's the only magic thing about 10k... it's a hard number to reach, so most people bail.

To read the rest of Seths post go here.

So this writing game we are in...Stick with might just become famous...

Which leads me into silly thought for the day...I took the crazy writer quiz...I had to join twitter to find out which crazy writer I resembled...(not that I will be active on twitter...) but am I really like Stephen King?


pic is an image of a massive collapsing star

Monday, July 20, 2009

For all the right reasons...

20 July 1969 my father told me to watch the television because men had got to the moon...look see them....they're on the moon!
I was four years old...but I still can remember the little TV and the funny jumping man.

I have been interested in space ever since then...I read Sci Fi when there was nothing else to read in the children's section of the library.

The moon landings inspired a generation to learn about space and scientific careers were applauded. What happened to the dreams of a generation?
Only 12 men have walked on the moon. At the height of moon exploration time NASA said "We'll be on Mars by 1987...."
But the space programme all but stalled and is stuttering along now. They are planning on going back to the moon around 2020... Mars maybe 2030...

The Altair lunar lander is envisioned with two stages: The descent stage will house the majority of the fuel, power supplies, and breathing oxygen for the crew. The ascent stage will house the astronauts, life-support equipment, and fuel for the ascent stage motor and steering rockets. The lander will carry a crew of four and be able to stay on the moon for up to six months. Altair will be capable of landing with 15 to 17 metric tons of dedicated cargo. The first crewed flight is scheduled for 2020.- Quote from NASA

The space exploration fervour seems to have all but disappeared.
Who cares? We must!

"Humanities future lies in space," says Stephen Hawking.

Hawking, in an exclusive CNN interview, said that if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, then our future will be bright.
"I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space," said Hawking, who is almost completely paralyzed by the illness ALS.
"It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next 100 years, let alone next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load."

It's time to relight the torches...onwards and upwards...

maureen ( this post is dedicated to all the space geeks who write for children....if we have a small part in the future of space exploration by inspiring children to follow the dream I will be satisfied with my earthbound life.)

pic- Buzz, Neil and Michael leaning against a moon lander 1969 (on earth)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Catching The Speeding Train in the Writing Journey

This week I have been thinking of added content....following on from ideas sparked by the 1000 true fans post and talking to various friends about the widening fields of being a content provider(author)

On Monday I was at Te Papa for the Institute of Modern letters Monday lunchtime talk series which featured Kate de Goldi talking to Vic. Writer In Residence, Paula Boock. Paula’s journey from editor to YA writer to script writer to TV Film producing to writing her first adult novel which we were privileged to listen to a bit of...(main character is a child tho, so she hasn’t strayed far away from us) and it got me thinking about the writing journey.

A long time ago I scribbled stories for myself then I thought I‘d better learn how to write so I went looking for the magic formula.(guess what... there isn’t one) Along the way I collected rejections...then I got an acceptance...I’ve made it, I thought...No I hadn’t.
Lots more rejections later then writing took a back seat to life...I got involved in the writing community, so I wrote by association with some of the best in the world at writers talks etc. Then back to collecting rejections, trying my hand at new styles of writing but always, always learning.

Our writing journeys take us into many lands where the language is different and the culture is foreign and obstacles look insurmountable...and so it is with the new ideas of writing content and digital media to the children’s author. But in essence it is applying your skills in a different way using a different medium or media. (I joked to Fifi on Monday that Paula could be a poster child for the Spinning Gold Conference as she has applied her skills across two or three medias. Fifi is a poster child...Martin Baynton is the poster child, Janice Marriot who is writing scripts for the Wot Wots is a poster child... (they are all marvelous New Zealand children's authors trying their hand at new media.)

They are leading the way for the rest of us...and I will learn from them by osmosis and posting little snippets of interest to you all, who are struggling, like I am, to make sense of the speeding train called ‘Social and Digital media as it applies to our craft.

So onto the Future....Eeeeek I’m not ready.....

Fourth Story Media a new publishing company in the ‘states’ are ready to launch The Amanda Project. CEO Mike Smith describes the company this way on their website.

Traditonally, stories would be told through one medium. A film would exist as a film. A book would exist as a book. Now, the internet and new forms of technology are enabling storytellers to tell their stories not through one medium, but through every conceivable form of media.
— Michael Smith, CEO & Owner, Mind Candy and Perplex City

To have a look at what they are doing with The Amanda Project go here or just look at the video below.

Chorion based in the United Kingdom is working with a range of writers and literary estates to add media content to enhance the book presence. Here’s what they have done for Agatha Christie but their flagship is Children’s lit....(their slide show is really cool)go take a look at their website.

Merchandising: PC games, jigsaw puzzles, mugs, pencils, cushions, deckchairs and more are available at retail and online.
Stage: We license first class productions worldwide and actively oversee the hugely successful Agatha Christie Theatre Company's ongoing professional tours in the UK.
Online: The official website at features blogs, games, downloadable content, information on Agatha Christie and every story she wrote, newsletters and a very popular forum for her fans.

The world is getting bigger and bigger for the author(content provider)...but seriously have you thought about turning some of your writing into added content slogans for merchandise????

And finally as a present to Tania Hutley...(stat counter says her site sends the most people over to read my blog...I’m awed...) the following video because she loved the Buffy staked Edward post.


pic is the Ave Solar train in Spain and the new way to travel without carbon emmissions... it's as fast as a jet...the way of the future????

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How To Succeed after you have dusted...

Ok, I missed my usual blog day post...sorry...School holidays got in the way and also dusting.

Yes I am dusting...well orgy of cleaning anyway...this is in an attempt to finally make sense of the clutter on my desk so I can sit down at it and work this coming week. That’s the plan.

But as soon as I shifted some clutter I exposed more clutter and then there was the dust which not only could you write your name in but a short novel as well... get out the buckets etc and two days go by very quickly.

At least I’m feeling virtuous (dusty tho)

Two things have caught my eye recently. One was Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog.
Joe was commenting on the cover article of Fast Company magazine about Amazon head Jeff Bezos plans for the future of publishing.
Joe is a publisher with O’Reilly Media Inc so he has an interest in the changing face of publishing...The italics are quotes from the article in Fast Company.

Here is a snippit.

Jeff Bezos is trying to do to book publishers what Steve Jobs of Apple did to the music industry. With its iPod and iTunes Store, Apple carved out a largely virgin market so fast that it was able to wrest control of the digital-music distribution system and thus dictate what the record labels could do.

I've occasionally been concerned about this but I'm not sure there's much to fear after all. I'm seeing more and more e-storefronts popping up every week and even though the Kindle is pretty popular it hasn't been the runaway success the original iPod was. Even the iPhone itself is a worthy competitor to the Kindle. Ironically enough, I think it's when Amazon fully opens the Kindle platform that we'll have to worry the most about this. That will probably have to happen at some point, but Amazon doesn't seem to be in any hurry, so relax...for now.

Should that happen, book publishers would have more to fear than just being squeezed. Amazon could phase them out completely, treating them as the ultimate middlemen orphaned by a new technology.

Forget about Amazon. Any publisher that isn't already worried about this in general is asleep at the wheel. With all the great self-publishing services out there and the ever-growing importance of social media and author platform it's crucial for all publishers to determine the value they add to the ecosystem.

In some ways, book publishing operates like one of Joseph Stalin's five-year plans.

This statement made me laugh out loud. Literally. It's painful to admit but true that some publishers still try to lay out 3- and 5-year financial plans. This, in an industry where most have had a hard time coming close to their latest annual and even quarterly forecasts. Ugh.

Read the whole’s interesting...thought provoking and will give you a heads up to the future....which with the speed of the digital revolution will be here next year....after all blogs are more than five years old...twitter has just had its third birthday...
Joe is optimistic and thinks there will be great benefits for authors... coming soon....

The other thing to catch my eye is a comment by Seth Godin on Social Media. Do you need twitter and face book etc? And before you think oh sure, yeah, I know what he will the one minute video...he doesn’t think they are all that useful but something else is...

As the great Jane says

"the strength of your relationships is essential to getting ahead, which means having a network of people who like you and/or trust you."

Go out there and enable each other...


Thursday, July 2, 2009

1000 reasons to read this post.....

This week having pushed the kids out the door back to school...I tried to turn my attention back to the WIP. Which one tho...well both...also conference fine tuning is happening as well, so as usual the hours fly by.

For the revision of Craic I came across a great little list, The best checklist around on revision. posted on Agent Nathan Bransford’s blog. Nathan works out of the San Francisco office of Curtis Brown, Fiona Inglis from Curtis Brown, Australia will be our guest at Spinning Gold.

Some of the list Nathan has posted

- Does the main plot arc initiate close enough to the beginning that you won't lose the reader?- Does your protagonist alternate between up and down moments, with the most intense towards the end?- Are you able to trace the major plot arcs throughout the book? Do they have up and down moments?- Do you have enough conflict- Does the reader see both the best and worst characteristics of your main characters?

So after cogitating on the list and thinking about Craic, My thoughts turned to Mars and what’s happening up there.

Poor Spirit has been stuck in a sand dune since May. There is a movement on Earth called Free Spirit following the tribulations and talking about how to free the little guy. NASA has created a website called Free Spirit where you can follow the team on Earth recreate the problem on Earth and work to fix it.

I have also come across a website called which does a search by subject for the latest research on any subject. Absolutely brilliant if you want to become an instant expert on any topic for research purposes.

This week I came across one of the most thought provoking posts I have come across in a long time, 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly.

Kevin says that the true creative needs only 1000 True Fans to make a living...he sees it as a better fit than The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

Here is a small taste of what Kevin is talking about but I really recommend that you go and read the whole post...It gives such food for thought to a creative in business...and isn’t that what we all are?

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?
One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

and from the 'Yeah Right' Box, the following video....

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