Thursday, February 25, 2010

Battling time....





Time, time, time, see what’s become of me....

This week it’s all about time and the battle for creative space.

Either bloggers and friends (and blogger friends ) are moaning about time suck or they are being held up as super people, for being super busy and still managing to write their novel, thereby showing the rest of us up.

So how do you set a realistic achievable goal of carving out space to be creative..? What has to give?

This question is one of the tough ones... right up there with global peace, renewable energy targets and finding the missing puzzle piece in my child’s room.

First, think seriously about what activities you are doing in your life? Can you drop something and devote that time to writing? If so great.

If not...Is there down time that you can mine....waiting in the car for children to finish activities... (I try to scribble plot points and scenes down in my writing pad...when stuck with this activity.)

Can you get up earlier... go to bed later....? (heck no... family will complain as monster from hell needs 8 hours at least.)

Unplug the phone...disconnect the internet....shut the door on the world...gag the preschooler...

When you do find the time then you have to have the dedicated space...it helps if you have a regular writing corner... (move the washing from it...) now sit down and WRITE.

AND STILL THOSE LITTLE DISTRACTIONS KEEP INTERFERING....

What to do...

Well Dr Wicked has the answer.






Shelftalker recently profiled the WRITE OR DIE programme from Dr Wicked.

You can use Write or Die for free online, or pay $10 and download the program. The download version has some perks: customizable font and font color, a fullscreen mode, the ability to keep the window on top of all other windows. You can also choose to disable certain functions on your computer—like the backspace button—to further motivate you to keep writing. No backspacing! Ack! That’s great for those endless line-by-line polishers who never seem to make it to the second chapter, or the ends of their novels; not that I personally have any experience with that. Ahem.
You can also alter the consequences. Oh, okay, I’ll spill a little here. Let’s say you stop typing for more than five seconds. You can either stick with the violin skreeks or crying babies Dr. Wicked has programmed into Write or Die to annoy you back into writing, or you can set up something even worse: for example, an mp3 of a song you hate..

Shelftalker also profiles another programme that freezes up your computer only allowing you to do certain applications...available for Apple users called Freedom.

If you are being honest with yourself and you find that writing is giving way to social media exploration here are a few tips from Social Media Examiner that can help you deal with social media to stop it being a time suck...basically decide what you want and why. They also have a nifty post on finding the time to take part in social media....

It is a great day when I get an hour to write but I do feel happier... the unfolded laundry, and dusty surfaces are justified because I was WRITING.

and ten points on the oneupmanship scale if you recognise the first words of this post.....

maureen

P.S. Philipa Werry has joined the New Zealand author website community with her very cool website...so thats what you were doing over summer...nice....


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Publicity heaven...



This week I have been thinking about publicity...when and how you go about letting people know that you are here.

This all came about because an organisation I know decided to have an open day....

This is a wonderful opportunity to show people what happens in our building was the internal memo to all the building residents.

“But who will come to the open day,” I asked innocently to an inmate of this building.

People who are interested in what people in this building do.

“But this building is ugly. You can’t find the front door because it is on the opposite side of the building from the car park. There is no reception. There are three floors of doors to national offices and a communal lunch room at the back on the second floor,” I said matter of factly.

People might still be interested.

“What is your publicity hook? What’s in it for them? Why would someone bother to come into the middle of the city where you can’t get a park (coz you won’t get one outside your building with the two visitors car parks which are never empty) to visit you?” I asked belligerently this time...because this was looking like an exercise in futility.

People might still be interested.

“Who is this people? Who are your target audience?” I asked pointedly

Um not sure. Anyway we’re having it. The general manager has already advertised it (without telling anyone beforehand) None of us knows what we are doing on this day so we’re just going to be working and prepared to speak to anybody who wants to talk to us in our capacity of national organisation.

“Yeah right.”

There will be pancakes....I think...

Can you see some of the problems here in this attempt at raising a profile.
No targeted audience.
No onboard involvement from the people it directly affects.
Nothing new to tell anyone.
No carrot to bring in the people....there were free pancakes as it happened...the buildings inmates enjoyed a nice lunch and some waifs and strays did too...courier drivers...the odd person who had to be there for an appointment...and discovered an open day.

Plan your publicity carefully. Have a reason. Why do you want publicity? It could be a new book...a reprint...a book launch... Your best friend, visiting author, minor celebrity, really interesting person... is coming to town and you want to celebrate with an event.

Let everyone in your target audience know...many times...make it a must be there event...

Generate gossip, if you have no publicity budget.

Think creatively.

Have a definite hook and involve everyone in planning and promoting from the beginning.

Have a timeline and work backwards from the event so that you allow yourself plenty of time to generate buzz.

Giveaways, competitions, free food, buskers...all add to the atmosphere...

Authors can write their own publicity packs. They can involve their target audience...head for the library and offer to do something public...Design a tee-shirt to promote my next book...signed copy and free food prize...then get the library to promote it by telling the local papers...win win...

Here is a sample of the different things you can do. Read Marcia Yudkin on how to get started.
Read Vocalist on the nuts and bolts of putting something together...(if you have a budding muso in the house this site is great) and go here if it all gets too hard and you want to throw money at the problem to make it go away.

In geek news I had a sneak peek at the inside of Carter Observatory today. Carter reopens in March with a brand new planetarium...even tho the builders are working, I felt like I was on the set of Star Trek...aaaaaaaahh geek heaven. (they just need to add the sound effects on the doors...)



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who are you?



This week I have been thinking about the author presence and the fundamental who-ness of public and private life.

Who are you,

on facebook?

on twitter?

on your blog?

on your website?

in the bookstore?

in person?

to your fans?

Are any of these seperate whos, the same person? Are you such a split personality that you need therapy?

I have been talking with friends about the public private life of the author...much like teachers...when their students discover them in the supermarket. (OMG Miss Crisp eats the same apples I do...or she’s seen me being whiney, now I know she will hate me...)

Since I started blogging on author marketing and other musings...learning in public about this tricky promotional world... I have seen the internet face of people change, about as fast as some publishing houses....From a few years ago when people put their whole lives out there, to now, where suddenly the public private balance is swinging more to private. (it’s about time.)

If you want to live your life in public, fine, but remember the people who live with you might not want to have public lives.

I admire the third child of Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne who refused to have any part of the publicity show that her mother cooked up to revive Ozzys career. (What? You didn’t know there was a third child?) That is a brave stand to take and I hope that aspiring authors are keeping an eye on their families reaction to publicity. Is it fair to the kids or is it emotional exploitation that will come back to haunt you....

People occasionally ask my advice on website content...the first thing I tell them is to decide who YOU want to be in public. This colours everything you do online. Because once you click that post button it is out there for the world to see...and even if you remove it later... it will remain search viable in archived threads. Ouch.

For myself I try to keep my family hidden from view (mostly because I can’t remember their names and it’s embarrassing to say thingumie in public) and myself too. (coz I hate pictures of me)

I am on twitter purely to keep up with blog posts...twitter is great for this. I use a feed that posts my blog titles to my twitter followers and receive tweets of blogs that I follow. I also use Alltop which creates a virtual magazine of up to the minute content drawn only from blogs and websites that interest me...astronomy, space tech, gadget tech, children’s publishing, marketing, commentators that I like...great for researching.

I blog, so that my name is searchable and that any kids who stumble across my book and do an internet search can find me and get to the Bones book website if they want. And for anyone else out there who stumbles across me, I hope that they find something interesting and relevant on author marketing to think about.(waving to my hidden followers....)

I privately email and play on a wordpress site...that one day may morph into a public website (or not...depending on whether any publishers pick up any of my novels currently languishing on their desks...)

Nathan Bransford has bogged on author privacy recently here. A great post as ever...there is a comment on Neil Gaiman’s fiancé Amanda Palmer who lives her life on line purely for marketing purposes as a musician....as Neil blogs and tweets obsessively I guess he is fine with it...although he has kids....(hmmm one of my novels deals with the fall out of a parents famous public life on a child...)

The great Jane has blogged on two wonderful posts I recommend you read on writing, for the money? Jennifer Topper on why she has a free ebook novel...and Mark Barrett has a fabulous post on a new interpretation of Yogs law - that money should flow to the writer not away from the writer. It has a whole new perspective on the changing face of the middlemen in publishing...ie how content gets to readers...Go read and ponder...

To answer my own question at the beginning...

It’s a wysiwyg. (what you see is what you get)

I don’t think I’m any different on line.....hahahahahahahahahaha. ducking now.....

maureen

PS Alice Pope Of CWIM fame posted this video on her blog...take it away Erin.....



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

E-books, Shooting for the Moon?



I’m baaccccck.

The kids are gearing up for school and as I write this the kitchen table is covered in adhesive book covering.

The topic for this week is books...E Books...You don’t need to cover them for a start.

If you do a quick search on the internet on any topic chances are that someone has written an e-book on your search term.

There are websites selling e-books about writing e-books and how they became millionaires doing just this.

If you are unsure about the whole e-book phenomenon and its place in modern publishing I will attempt to explain it. (remember I’m just back from holiday and for all I know my brain might still be there.)

Electronic books have enabled many people to call themselves authors. Anybody with a word processing program can write a book and post it on the internet. Things get slightly trickier when you ask for payment for the book.

As any author knows writing the content of the book is hard but the make or break for a book is marketing. In the marketing of a book, key decisions on Appearance, Distribution/ Publicity and Price determine whether the book lives or dies

These decisions are not taken lightly in the print and paper world and they should not be taken lightly in the e-book world.

David Meerman Scott has a great article on How to write an e-book on his website webinknow.

Appearance means layout, design, font, cover art these are the bare bones for e-book readability.

Distribution/Publicity can be handled with dedicated websites, advertising, blogging, articles, testimonials all driving viral virtual traffic to the book.

Price is the hot topic in e-book world. This week Apple launched the i-Pad and took its big anticipated step into the e-book reader market. Never mind that the i-Pad is being billed as a big i-Pod without key features like a camera for video or a phone, the e-book readers are now becoming mainstream instead of a geek candy.

Of course if you are going to shell out $499 US for the i-Pad you want to have some thing to read on it. This week the price stoush between Amazon, the worlds biggest e-book store and Macmillan publishers have raised eyebrows as Amazon pulled all Macmillan books in their preemptive strike to force Macmillan to back down on its pricing of e-books alongside their paper books. Macmillan is wanting to sell e-book copies of their print books at very similar prices on the day of print publication. (Amazon backed down last night.)

Richard Curtis predicts that this will be the turning point for publishers and authors.(Royalties of 20-25% tho-it is to dream Richard.)

Opponents of the high price of e-books point out that publishers are not paying for printing, paper warehousing, distribution etcetera on an e-book so the price shouldn’t be so high. Of course the poor author in this probably doesn’t see an increased royalty on an e-book in this model. This then starts the author thinking well maybe I could just publish an e-book myself and get all the profit. If you have a niche that is unprofitable for a mainstream publisher, that could be the best option, investigate it.

Going down this route you need to be aware of DRMs, EPUB and other acronyms to make your brain explode but it could lead you to a whole new earning platform and knowledge is power.

(DRM=digital rights management-buy one download only, no sharing with your friends or other digital media like i-Tunes music tracks....EPUB= dedicated software that converts your content into e-reader format so you can sell it on Amazon, Adobe 6.5plus)

Children’s book authors are still reliant on mainstream publishers as e-books with great graphics interface are still in development but this will change in the next few years with the refinement of e-book readers. (Think picture books like Xbox games on an e-reader.)

2010 the beginning of another decade which will see huge changes in publishing...

Meanwhile in geekdom Obama’s plan to decimate space exploration as a short term cost saver has sent strong signals to their space science community that their government is not behind them.

To put this decision in context Marcel Williams of New Papyrus magazine knocked some figures together when the Augustine commission released its findings in August last year.

Marcel asked-So what should President Obama do?


At the height of the Apollo program, the NASA budget reached$33 billion a year in today's dollars, nearly twice as large as NASA current budget. NASA's $17 billion annual budget represents less 0.6% of the total Federal budget while the US Federal government is spending nearly a trillion dollars annually on defence related purposes. So a $3 billion annual increase to the NASA budget would be extremely tiny relative to the overall Federal budget.

The underline is mine...a trillion dollars- think what that could mean to education, health, the UN food programme....

I personally agree with the comment on the bottom of the cosmos magazine article yesterday.

I predict an upsurge in science fiction writers in India China and Japan as they take the global lead in space exploration and fuel their children’s dreams of space.

maureen

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