Monday, June 25, 2012

Indie Authors’ Expo – What’s Next?

Well, when last I wrote about this I was asking people to let me know how much interest there was in a 3-day Expo for independent authors. I was thrilled to find there was a lot of interest – both on this blog and on Twitter. So, I decided to go forward and have been making some plans. First, let me thank Lorna Suzuki for her support and encouragement! I have a feeling Lorna’s going to be a big reason why this event will happen.

Anyway, as we move toward the event, there will be frequent updates and like this post, requests for input. The idea here is to create something that benefits and enriches independent authors in a variety of ways. The tradeshow on Day One would enable authors to visit booths of vendors who directly service our industry – hopefully we’ll get representatives from Amazon KDP, Twitter, Goodreads and many more companies to participate. Day Two is planned as a conference day with a welcome breakfast, keynote speaker, and a cafeteria plan of workshops or speakers writers can choose from.  Day Three will be a book fair, to which the public and media will be invited and authors can present their books to readers in whatever creative way they can come up with.

This post speaks to Day Two. I would love your input on what kind of workshops you would like to attend or subjects you would like to hear speakers cover. Please put a little thought into this and let me know what YOU would like to see there, because ultimately this event is about you – the author. What would make your job as an author easier, improve your sales, and so on?

I am planning on having a full plan put together and to begin raising money on IndieGoGo or Kickstarter sometime in late July or early August.

So, I look forward to your input!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nature’s Message to Me

First let me confess that I am multitasking as I write this. I have my feet soaking in soapy water. That qualifies, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I recently participated in a fantastic group freebie promotion, Reads4Free. You might have heard of it (picture a smiley face here because I just can’t bring myself to place one in such a serious blog as this). It was a terrific event and benefited the eight authors who grouped together to do it greatly. But in the midst of planning this thing, in fact about half-way through, I watched a PBS video called Shark Island, and it had an effect on me.

No, it wasn’t the sharks that relayed great insight. It was instead the schools of fish they hunt. I watched a scene, which I’m sure I’ve seen before on other nature videos, of the swirling schools as they undulated underwater in an amazing pattern, closely packed together and somehow signaling to each other which way to turn next. It is a mystery to me how they do it and in fact, I’ve never heard an explanation.

What struck me is how closely they resembled the actions over the past couple of years of the Indie author community. In our case, the leader or first to move a certain direction is known. But the actions of all the rest of us are so similar to those of the fish. We quickly move to follow in his or her exact pattern. 

This behavior works for the fish because they employ it to protect each other and themselves. Because they are so tightly enmeshed with each other it is difficult for a shark to hone in on a single fish. They don’t break ranks.

For writers, this isn’t a good strategy and most of us haven’t figured that out yet. Some bemoan that fact that John Locke and Amanda Hocking were successful with the $.99 strategy and they weren’t. Some are upset that the early success of free promotions on KDP Select is winding down. Some have built up their catalogs in hopes of imitating the success of J.A. Konrath or tried serial books, like Michael R. Hicks.  Some have done it all, and all without hitting the jackpot.

What so few understand is that being the first, or one of the first, to try a new strategy is a big part of winning in any game. Believe me when I say there are other ways to win at this game, we just haven't found them yet, but for most of us following the leader isn’t going to work.

So, I urge you to think differently. Break out from the pack. Be the first to try something. That just may work for you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Don't Think, Just Do!

I was listening to an NPR interview with author Sam Weller on the subject of Ray Bradbury.  It was a remembrance of the man who wrote The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and many, many other books and who died on June 5th. Weller penned The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury and in the process became a friend of Bradbury’s. 

There were little particles of interesting information; for instance, that Bradbury had never driven a car in his life because he witnessed a car accident as a fourteen-year old or that he never wrote with an outline, but instead felt that he was simply a medium for his characters and trusted them to fill the pages. 

I became very engrossed in the interview, enjoying it thoroughly through to the end, but was struck by one thing in particular.  Ray Bradbury used to quote Yoda, from Star Wars, to Weller, saying, “Don’t think, just do!”  He contended that we writers had a tendency to over-analyze and also found that many writers spent more time whining about how difficult writing was than actually writing.  He had contempt for the “intellectual, New York writer set” that brooded, in his opinion.

I came home and sat down, after having brooded for nearly a month, and straight out of the box wrote the first page of a novel I’ve been noodling about for some time. It’s good and like Bradbury, I just let go and let the characters do the work.

I had forgotten how to do this. But every time I slip into this mode of writing it works for me. I think I’ve been over-analyzing because my marketing side has been so prominent lately.  But, whatever  the reason (I don’t want to waste time analyzing it!), Bradbury’s simple joke rang true for me. I’ve posted a reminder on the wall next to my laptop.

Don’t think, just do!

P.S. Bradbury also said, according to Weller, “Jump off the cliff, and build your wings on the way down.” Maybe I’m really Bradbury’s long lost love child.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Collaboration and Cooperation is the Key

In case you were wondering about doing a group promotional event, here’s the skinny. It’s all about helping each other.

As many of you know, today and tomorrow, June 4 & 5, a group of eight writers, including me, are having a freebie promo known as Reads4Free. I posted about it on the 3rd

Today was kickoff day and from about 12:30 am until nearly midnight, I’ve been glued to my laptop. Oh, except for a two hour nap in the middle of the day. Come on! I’m good, but not that good. I needed my beauty sleep.

Anyway, if you’ve experienced the exhilaration of watching hundreds or thousands of downloads light up your Kindle sales board in one of your own promos, imagine that multiplied by 8. Yep, that’s it – like riding a roller coaster with your graduating class! Remember that?

We’ve still got Tuesday to go, but I wanted to thank everyone who has supported us and also to encourage you all to do things together whenever you can. I’ve already enjoyed this trip immensely and I know tomorrow will be even better.

Here’s the link if you don’t already have it. Reads4Free  See you round the Blogosphere!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In an Unprecedented Move of Epic Proportions…

Eight authors, including little old me, have come together to offer one (each) of their books free in an event we’re calling Reads4Free.  Just for two days – Monday, the 4th and Tuesday, the 5th.

Now for those of you who just want to get to the link – here you go:  Reads4Free! Be aware, the books won’t be free until the wee hours of Monday morning.

But for inquiring minds, here’s a bit of background on this historic undertaking. The brain child of Mr. Derek Blass, author of Allegiance (which he offers these two days), Reads4Free began to take shape over a month ago. That’s right! This is no fly-by-night, willy-nilly sort of thing. Oh, no. We, the eight authors, bantered and planned for weeks on end to get this just right. 

And we’ve been in training! That’s right. There have been planning injuries – brain freezes, incomplete thoughts, bruised fingertips – well, actually, those are all my injuries (incurred while deciding to give away my sequel Red is an Attitude for the first time). I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but trust me – it’s been brutal. 

All in the name of bringing you a collection of must-have eBooks! Elsie Stokes is giving away Cassidy Jones and Vulcan’s Gift, joined by R.S. Guthrie’s offer of his debut novel, The Black Beast. And as if that wasn’t enough here are the other four books:  The Ninth District by Doug Dorow; Sundered by Shannon Myers; Iona Portal by Robert David MacNeil and last, but certainly not least, A Hint of Murder by Lia Fairchild. 

Is this your lucky day, or what?!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Sensation of Touch

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me we writers are missing the boat a little bit, myself very much included. 

I was reading a passage in Confessions of a Shopaholic yesterday, in which the author describes the feel of an article of clothing. It struck me – like Thor’s hammer – that I’d missed many opportunities to describe how something felt on the skin or the experience of touching something for the first time.

Oh, I know, as readers we have plenty of opportunity to experience the lusty pleasures of touch, through the steamy pages of nearly every novel nowadays, but there is so much more than that to write about. I had an experience about 10 years ago that perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about. 

My new home – new to me, that is, as it was a 1940s bungalow – had a corner in my bedroom which was devoted to large windows that met each other at my headboard. It was a lovely spring day in the San Fernando Valley of California. A huge big-leaf maple tree towered over this part of the house and as I opened both windows a mild breeze rushed in.  I spread out on top of the cotton bedspread with a book in hand, expecting to read and perhaps nap for a while.

I was dressed in a strappy t-shirt and shorts, barefoot and my hair pulled up in a ponytail, with lots of exposed skin, in order to keep cool. As I tried to concentrate on the book, my attention was draw away by the feel of the air moving over my body. 

“Silky” was the word that kept coming to me. It’s a cliché, I know, but I felt caressed by a soft, unseen touch that was simply the earth exhaling onto my body, a gentle blowing like when a lover cools you after the passion is spent; or perhaps, a mother trying to give her child a moment’s relief from the heat. 

I stripped down to just my underwear and spent more than an hour simply feeling the breeze; allowing myself to be drawn into the sensuousness of that morning’s gift. I never slept, for this was an experience not to be wasted on slumber. Ever since that day, my sense of touch has been heightened. I will stop in the middle of something if I notice a sensation of touch that is extraordinary, or even when it’s ordinary but stirs a newness in me. 

I have failed to use touch in my books as a way of exploring an experience or heightening one, as I think many writers have.  However, today is a new day for me as a translator of touch.