Thursday, May 31, 2012

Passing The Hat

This morning I have been thinking about Creative Tribes and their power.  
When the tribe idea was first being kicked around I blogged about it ...yes way back then...and this grew into a series of posts around the 1000 fans concept that same year. Just type 1000 fans into my search box.

This week I have been struck by the power of the Tribe in funding creative projects. 
Amanda Palmer is having a block party in New York as I write this, because she raised over $1 million in her Kickstarter campaign for her creative project. She didn’t set out to do this. All she wanted was $100,000 but her Tribe got the word out and all through the month of May she has broken every Kickstarter record.

Yesterday my friend Fifi Colston put up her request for funding an Art Exhibition of her work here in Wellington on the New Zealand site Pledge Me. Within 24 hours she had reached her modest target. 

The reward system that Kickstarter and Pledge Me use is interesting. Think of it as buying the product or experience before it is made. I don’t know if anyone has bought Fifi’s offer for a personal portrait of themselves but that would be worth having...she is so talented.
Fifi’s comment when she reached her target...
Whatever I earn goes straight back into the business of being a freelance creative. I am currently trying to have some money in reserve to enable me to work on my next book project. It will be months of writing, illustration and photography to get it done. And it will be a stunner. So thanks for all your support to me and everyone in the arts...

Around the blogosphere this week there was a lot of comment on The New York Times article on writers slacking if they ony write one book a year.... Most of the comment was on the ‘brutal’ regime of writing 2000 words a day but there were lots of other red flags being waved at writers through publishers comments in the article.
Kristine Rusch examines this article and some of the flags raised, including the current publisher asks of short form novella ebooks effectively for love as a marketing tool for publishers and what it means to a writers career. This is a great and timely article and a good heads up for people.

Elizabeth S Craig has another take on the N Y Times article about being a writer who puts out 3-4 books a year and what it means for her.

As always, I urge you to read the comments of both these posts...for extra information and insights.

Writer Unboxed had two posts this week that got everybody talking.
The Bandit Creek series is written by a writers collective, who write stories based on the fictional town of Bandit Creek, as a cool self publishing experiment for themselves outside of their traditional published roles. 
You all know how interested I am in writer collectives, this is a really interesting model and with FaBo 3 in the planning could morph (just kidding Fabo team....)

Catherine Ryan Howard finishes up her month of blog posts on self publishing by looking at the best way to use Amazon.

In the Craft section
James Killick has a post on why writing a treatment before you write the novel is a good idea.

There is a great post on storytelling the Pixar way

A group taking storytelling into the business world is doing some great stuff - take a look.

And for those who like pretty pictures, here is the periodic table of Storytelling!

For those of you into numbers...

Galley Cat has an info graphic on how many kids are reading on electronic devices.

Rachelle Gardner takes a look at what a publishing contract should contain.

This week I have been finalising details for a group doing a writing course at Karaveer Writing Retreat.
Writing retreats are great for an all out focus on your work. I get huge hunks of work done when I am on a writing retreat because there are no interruptions from kids, phone, internet, kids.... You get the picture.
If you can’t get away to Karaveer you could look down this list of inexpensive ideas for a writing retreat for yourself. Of course if you want to take a trip up North...and get some hands on tutoring from one of the best romance writers in the world, well Karaveer could be just the place.

I leave you with a fun comic on critiques by Inkygirl who’s website is well worth a look around.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Choosing To Be Creative

This week on the writing blogosphere RAOK has been the catch phrase. 
Random Acts Of Kindness. This has been started because Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have finally made a print version of their wonderful Emotion Thesaurus and they celebrated with a RAOK blitz week which lots of writers got behind.

The Indie vs Trad argument has been heating up with many diatribes on both sides hitting the blogosphere this week.
Just for the record...You don’t have to be one or the other. You can choose the publishing medium with each project. You can be small press, Indie press, mainstream, give stuff away for free to build readers. It is up to you. Don’t get sucked into the Trad is bad or Indie is to die camps which diss each other and lose sight of the whole picture.

I post weekly and weekly it seems is the nature of change in the publishing landscape. This week Waterstones, a large bookselling chain in the UK has announced a partnership deal with Amazon. Some commentators have likened this to the hens asking the Fox to move into the henhouse. Here is Futurebooks take on this breaking news and the gamble and possible benefits for the booksellers.

Chuck has his 25 reasons to quit writing...of course you can turn it on its ear and choose to write. Either way Chuck is always thought provoking...(warning it is Chuck!)

Sometimes tho the act of writing is painful. Roz Morris looks at coping with RSI and what she has had to do to get through these times. I know this from bitter experience and am writing these words with tingling feelings in my left hand. (off to find my brace...)

In the craft corner, Here are some great posts on
Margie Lawson looks at humour and the use of it to hook readers

Great tips
Joanna Penn talks multi media and why different media can complement your brand. 

And I will leave you with the video that is making waves through the creative community. This week Neil Gaiman gave the commencement speech at the University of Arts...These are words to live by no matter what stage of creative endeavour you are.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Being a Fan...

Last night I attended the the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. These are our top prizes for Children’s Literature and so are a BIG DEAL.
For many years we have been looking outward trying to make our stories more international...or even ignoring our own stories thinking they won’t be of interest to an international audience. Publishers have hesitated about promoting New Zealand themed stories overseas...they won’t travel well, they're too kiwi. But these stories are our unique point of difference...amongst the fantasy/dystopian/superhero saturated publishing world and this year the judges decided to remind us of that fact.
Through it all Story is the defining Jack Lasenby (81), winner of the Young Adult category, said in his acceptance speech ‘Without Story, I Am Nothing.’
Jack’s writing career reflects New Zealands attitude to its own stories. He is a master storyteller deserving of a wide audience. His first novel for children tackled child abuse when no one ever talked about it and 'that is such a grim subject we don't want anyone overseas to know that happens in the land of Godzone'. Jack was known in New Zealand but no publisher took his work overseas...'it was too parochial'. Then he wrote dystopian Young Adult fiction, before it was popular...'great writing, but too might scare the children.' It won awards. His fun tall tales, for younger children, of life in New Zealand in the 30’s when he was growing up, great writing... won awards...'well the stories are too far removed from current children’s lives...won’t have any relevance to an international audience'. This year Gecko picked up his latest tall tale and took it overseas...and it got favourably reviewed by the Guardian.
Can we get over our cultural cringe and see if the world is ready for some real New Zealand stories. We are the nation of focus for Frankfurt and IBBY so we should start getting behind our great children’s writers.

 What interesting gems are there in my blog link roundup today? 
The importance of story links many of them.

From a cool infographic about how a story is born from Mediabistro to the importance of voice for audiobook narrators, the impressive Cris Dukehart on being a serial killer...and how to get the right narrators for your project from Bob Mayer.

There is a guest interview featuring Editor Cheryl Klein who talks about the importance of plot and Bubblecow has a nifty piece on getting constructive feedback so you can edit.

The Guardian has an opinion piece on how Fan Fiction of popular stories is driving the new books being picked up and Rachelle Gardner has reprised her post on how to craft Book Proposals so your story can be picked up...

Selfpublishing should be a marketing tool. This guest post has had lots of comment on Jane Friedmans blog and is a must read for the week along with the Books and Such agents blog on why everybody in publishing feels disenfranchised.

Joanna Penn has helpful hints on a marketing list to get your stories noticed and Catherine Ryan Howard tells you how to get your first readers.

Every link, a nice little story...I leave you with a video from Dan Blank about how the quality of the stories you create should last for generations.

The pic is The New Zealand Post Children's Book Award supreme winner...a distinctly New Zealand Non Fiction Story...which just happens to be a graphic novel!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wild Things

Today has been a wet miserable day...Autumn looks like it skipped on out without saying hello and Winter's wild weather arrived, bringing the rain in horizontally.
So in an effort to warm up in the last few days I turned to Twitter and checked in on what is happening around the blogosphere because as everybody knows a good story will while away the hours so you don’t notice the weather.

Over the last week Amanda Palmer and the huge amount she made in a short time on Kickstarter have been on everybody’s radar. My first thought, when I saw the project going live on Twitter, it helps if you are married to Neil Gaimen. That is me coming from a children’s writers perspective and knowing that Neil has over one million followers. But John Scalzi puts it into perspective. She has worked her butt off to build a following for over a decade. She has fans that love her and support her and that she gives back to...and if you look at what she is doing for the aint no easy thing. And in the end isn’t that who we are writing for...our Fans?

Joanna Penn has a great guest post from John Yeoman asking Is it worth it to be an author...?

Lately the great Mike Shatzkin, prophet to traditional publishers, has been noticed spending more time in his blog posts looking at the digital marketplace. This is not a that is marketplace going what should you do for the future.

Writer Beware is also taking a look at the digital marketplace specifically contracts that are now being written and in particular those nice little reversion of rights clauses...the ones when the publisher has to have a book out of print for 6 months before the author can write and get their rights back...Authors you need to read this post.

If you have all your rights and you want to exploit them then Catherine Ryan Howard's post Read this first -How to sell self published books is the post for you along with Joel's Guest Skype interview with Bookbaby on common book design mistakes he see’s all the time.
Bookbaby is a print on demand service that is quite nifty. There are a few companies like this around who are offering authors a reasonable way to get their books printed and distributed...but there are scammers so always do your homework.

Mark Coker of Smashwords has been doing his homework lately and has been analysing Smashwords data for the last nine months trying to figure out what makes a book a success. Mark has a great post on Digital Book World telling us what he found out.

Roz Morris has a helpful guest post on Jami Golds blog about writing back cover copy blurbs.

Authorculture has a good post on tips for offline marketing.

SciFi Novelists have got a geat post on pacing fight scenes...and an hilarious example to show you what to do...or what not to do...gotta bookmark it.

Novelrocket has the 5 must haves on the writer’s desk and then there is the 24 Free Online creativity tools to help you think up ideas along the way

Seth Godin has had another idea...and he is keen to tell you about it in his new manifesto...but most of all in this blog post he wants to tell you how to use tools that don’t make you look indie, cost hardly anything and spread ideas....

The King of the Wild Things, Maurice Sendak died yesterday. His loss was widely felt through the children’s book industry and many tributes to one of the giants in the picture book world were written. This tribute was referenced by Judy Blume on Twitter who remembed Maurice fondly as they shared many memories of being on banned book lists together.

Next week I’ll be attending the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards our top awards for children’s books...There are no banned books in the list but there is lots of talk about the emergence of graphic novels...placed in the Picture Book Category so it will be an interesting night.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Against the crowd

Last weekend I travelled up to Auckland to take part in a workshop on eBooks.
My bit was to tell attendees what I discovered when I decided to make Craic an eBook.
In a nutshell - Know what you are getting into, (Publishing- Dean Wesley Smith has a great post on that.) 
Remember that you want to do the best work that you can, so pay attention to detail...because you are going to be putting your name on this product and you don’t want your name to stand for a crappy reading experience.

The workshop was a great success. The organisers made sure there was information available for everyone at all stages of the e publishing spectrum. I’m sure by the end of the day attendee’s were wishing that they had brought spare heads to help them process what was coming at them.

You may need to grab your spare head for help with understanding this week’s dramatic change in the world of epublishing. Microsoft are partnering with Barnes and Noble. 
Barnes and Noble are a book store chain with their own ereader, Nook, who are in competition with Amazon. Microsoft is...well who hasn’t heard of Microsoft?

While we are on the subject of ereaders, epublishing and the rise of the independent writer... Passive Guy takes issues with some of Mike Shatzkin’s comments on how no big writers have gone indie yet and why. This is a good read, giving you an overview on the current issues facing writers as they weigh up options. Especially interesting are the comments from some big authors....

 One of the biggest challenges in the decision to go how to be noticed by your readers. Marketing is so important and so hard to do, if you are an introverted writer sitting in a closet somewhere. So here are a few links that may help you to open the closet door.

Mid Grade writer Shelli Johannes has taken a hard look at what worked and what didn’t in her Indie experiment...The numbers are interesting and so is what not to do....

Amazon has announced their next big move in their publishing stuff....especially kids series on screen...Check out what they are looking for.

For those writers who love a challenge... Storyaday is the thing to do for May.

To finish
Those that have been following me for a while know that I am interested in author collectives and how they support each other and market their work.

Check out this delicious it!  (Hey FaBo Team are you watching?)

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