Showing posts with label Guest Post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Post. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Amazing Stories Response to the Travelling to Cons on the Cheap Guest Post

A while back, Effie Seiberg was kind enough to author a guest post for me, The Cheapskate's Guide to SF/F cons: A Guest Post. It's been among the more popular posts on my blog with its useful info that balances being a fan and attending cons for fun, and the all-important business-savvy advice.

Today Steve Davidson, the head honcho over at Amazing Stories, wrote about his experiences at conventions on the cheap from when he was younger and contrasted that with the modern experience. He was kind enough to mention my thought that it could be different for women to do things like crash in rooms or (gasp!) hitchhike. I really appreciated this response and the contrast with how things were before I'd ever even heard of cons. So thanks, Steve!

Anyhow: I encourage you to go take a look at his post. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Self Publishing Comics Panel Report: A Guest Post by Ricky Lima

This past January there was a comics self-publishing event at PAMA (a local art gallery and historical archive). On the panel were Sanya Anwar (Site | Twitter), Ricky Lima (Facebook | Twitter), Jason Loo (Site | Twitter), and David Bishop (Facebook | Twitter).  I was unfortunately unable to make the event, so I asked Ricky to tell me about it in the form of the guest blog post you are about to read. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know if there are similar events in your city you might like to report on. 

Bishop, Loo, Anwar, Lima (L-R)
Photo credit: Stadium Comics


Peel Art Gallery, Museum, and Archive is hosting an exhibit dedicated to graphic story telling. The gallery has an awesome collection of original pages from True Patriot which is a comic anthology focused around Canadian stories and superheroes. To go along with the exhibit PAMA  organized a couple of panels and workshops about the comic industry. I was asked to run a panel on independent comic self publishing. I gathered a jolly crew of fellow self-publishers and we spoke to a crowd intent on independently creating comics. David Bishop, Jason Loo, Sanya Anwar, and I split the panel into four categories: inception, creation, production, and marketing.


Inception

In this first segment we discussed how a creator gets their ideas. It was interesting to note that creators can't create in a bubble: everything we talked about was inspired by something else. Sanya's book 1001 is inspired by the old story of Prince Ali Baba, and Jason's webcomic is an expansion on the Star Wars universe. All the panelists made it clear that it is important for a creator to consume everything they possibly can so they can learn as much as possible. As strictly a writer I've always been told that I should be reading 24/7. While I think that is true, I feel that it's a little misguided in that the scope is too narrow. As a creator you should be consuming 24/7. Not just reading, not just looking at art, but consume everything you enjoy, and sometimes things you don't in various. This way you'll be a well-rounded creator with a fresh perspective for any medium.

Creation

The next portion focused on techniques people use to get the work done. It all boiled down to, “Just do it!” The panel agreed that creators often get caught up in their own head and don't actually get anything done. World building is great and thinking up every single detail can be beneficial, but there reaches a point where thinking about it simply won't do. David explained to us how he had a very specific time for creating. He wakes up super early before work and makes comics for an hour or two. Everyone's process is different but the most important thing to remember is that if you're not doing it, it's not getting done.

Production


The most technical portion of the panel was when we talked about production. When getting things printed it's very important to understand what technical terms like “bleed” and “CMYK” are before you begin (FYI: Bleed is the area around a page that will be cut off, and CMYK is a method of blending colours. Computer screens use RGB and printers use CMYK, this creates a slight difference in colour from screen to paper). Different printing houses were discussed as well, major recommendations were given to Toronto's Guerrilla Printing and Houston's LithoNinja. Printing comics can get pretty expensive so it's important to find a printer that has prices that fit your budget.

Marketing

Finally we discussed how to market our books. In comics we're lucky because we have such a great support group of comic conventions that allow us to meet people interested in comics and picking up our books. Cons are the lifeblood of an indie creator and should be used to their full potential. At a con you can create a lifelong fan and repeat customers. From there, thanks in part to social media, you can connect with them and build the relationship. In the comic industry we're also lucky that a sizable portion of our audience are digital natives (i.e. people born during the internet age, so they are completely comfortable with digital reading). The internet is an extremely useful tool in connecting with fans all across the world and should be used effectively and consistently. Personally marketing is my personal favourite part of the comic game because it allows me to meet the people who are reading my book and ask them what they think. I love hearing what people think and seeing how they react to the book and if they have an feedback that's even better. Our book grows through feedback. 

The self publishing panel held at the lovely PAMA building was informative for all. The panelists and myself stayed after for a couple of hours to answer people's questions. I met a ton of cool people in Brampton who are longing to do amazing things. To me that's the most important part of any city: people with ideas. I like to think that the self publishing panel inspired some of those people to go out and get things done. I know seeing people so excited inspired me to continue doing cool things and getting my work done.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Cheapskate’s Guide to SF/F cons: A Guest Post

Today's guest post by Effie Seiberg goes through some handy tips on travelling to conventions on a tight budget. It would be easy to extrapolate some of these tips into general travel on a budget, too. Part of why I put out a call for this topic is that beginning in January I'll be full-time freelance, and paradoxically, this means I'll need to go to more conventions in a professional capacity. But. You know. With less income. So thanks again to Effie for all of her tips, and I'll be seeing you around at as many conventions as I can manage in 2014.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so in January I did the exact thing people tell you not to do: I quit the “real world” for a year to write. Writing full time is fantastic, but with no income coming in (and a professional need to go to cons) I had to be very strategic about which I went to, and how. The fear of starving and dying is a great one to promote some frugality, but I still managed to go to FogCon, BayCon, Westercon, WorldCon, and ConVolution. So, here are some tips on keeping the costs way down but still getting your con on. 1) Prioritize.
There are a million awesome cons, and you’ll need to balance how awesome they are with their costs. The most expensive parts are usually the plane tickets and the hotels, so if there are any close to you where one or both of those don’t apply, start there! I’m lucky enough to live nearish to where several local cons were held. I also added WorldCon as my one expensive con, just because it’s so big, has amazing people there, and has the Hugo awards.

2) Keep down the travel costs.
I live in San Francisco, where I’m lucky enough to have several local cons around me. FogCon was in Walnut Creek (an hour away), BayCon in San Jose (an hour away with no traffic, three years away with traffic), WesterCon in Sacramento (90 minutes away with no traffic, until the end of time with traffic), and ConVolution in Burlingame (20 minutes away).
Driving: If you can drive or take public transit to your con, it’s probably going to be cheaper than flying. Cons frequently have parking validation for whichever hotel they’re in. At ConVolution, a daily $33 parking pass turned into a daily $10 parking pass. Carpooling with other local buddies is good to split gas and parking costs.
Flying: Airfare: If you must fly, set up a fare alert for your route in advance on a site like airfarewatchdog.com, and wait a bit. It’ll tell you how the price of those tickets might be changing day by day, so you have an idea of what the cheapest flights really are. You can also use a site like hipmunk.com to find cheap seats, but bear in mind that they don’t include some of the smaller, discount airlines like JetBlue or Southwest, so you’ll need to look those up separately.
Flying: Everything else: Airports are great ways to squeeze you of your hard-earned dimes. Bring a solid snack to help avoid the temptation of the tiny $7 bag of M&Ms, and pack everything into a carry-on to avoid baggage fees. You can do a whole week’s worth of stuff in a single carry-on, and I say this as a gal who likes her hair products. It takes a bit of tetris-ing, but it can be done.   
3) Keep down the lodging costs.
This is the second large cost of any con, and is often the biggest. If you’re relatively close by, drive back and forth and avoid it altogether. Yes, it’s a pain to drive 90 minutes home when you’ve already gone to several parties, but you’ve just saved $170 by doing so. If you must use a hotel room, you have several options.
Find it cheap: the con will have a discounted rate at the preferred hotel. That’s great, but there may be even better deals nearby. For WorldCon, the con hotel was about 30% more expensive than the hotel I found, and my hotel was closer to the conference center where everything was held. Look on sites like hipmunk.com and expedia.com to see what’s around. You can also try airbnb.com for cheap rooms, but they’ll usually be a bit farther away from where the action is.
Split the costs: roomies are great! If you have a friend from a writing group, a fan board, a costuming club, or whatever, share a room to split the cost. As a bonus, you’ll have someone to talk to late at night.
Crashing in a room: your mileage may vary on this one. As a female I’m disinclined to do this unless I know the people very very well. But that said, if you do know people who have a room and don’t mind you crashing there, you can usually get a cot from the main desk (at Westercon it was $15/night) which you can roll into the room. If there isn’t room for one, you can DIY it by asking for a lot of extra pillows and blankets, and build up your own little nest in a corner. You’ll get weird looks at about the 5th extra pillow, but it’s worth it. Lay a line of pillows down to make a makeshift mattress, then a blanket on them to roughly keep them together, and then you plus a blanket and another pillow go on top of that.
3) Frugal food.
At a con, you’re running from place to place with barely any time to get anywhere, so scouting out a cheap place to eat isn’t always an option. Hotels know this, and charge exorbitant amounts for what is often really bad food (thanks, $6 coffee swill that’s been sitting in the bottom of the coffeemaker all night).
Bring your own: Yeah, I’m the person with granola bars and fruit in my bag. They don’t take up a lot of room, and you can quell your munchies quickly. If you’ve driven, you have a whole trunkful of space to put food to bring with. Nuts and granola bars have protein to keep you sated, fruits and veggies have fiber to fill you up, and most of them don’t need refrigeration. (Protip: do not leave your fruits in a very hot car all day. Apples might survive, but softer fruits like cherries will ferment and stink. I tell you this from experience.) Bring some cookies and such to share, too!
The con suite: The Secret Masters of Fandom at one point decided that cons should give out food, and hooray for them. Con suites usually have light snacks like fruits and veggies and cheeses and chips, plus coffee. They ask that you don’t just use the suite for your three squares a day, but you can wander in and grab what you need. Especially free coffee. Did I mention the coffee?
But everyone’s going to a restaurant: Yeah, sometimes this is what’s going to need to happen. If your favorite author invites you to join and you get starry-eyed at the mere mention of their name, you’re going. You can either go nuts and suck up the cost, or you can fill up on other food prior (your own, the con suite) and just order something light. You’ll still get to go, and a single appetizer won’t set you nearly as far back.
Drinks: This may be the hardest one on the list. You can of course bring your own, but then you’re that sad person drinking alone in their room. Most parties will just give you alcohol, so start with those and get your drink on. If you’re going to barcon (you know, where people have their own little con at the bar), you can always order a ginger ale instead, which is far cheaper. Especially since you still have your buzz from the parties.
4) The Dealer’s Room, the Art Show
Oh dear god, the dealer’s room. Where merchants specifically attuned to your needs and interests bring out their wares and spread them in front of you appealingly. And then the art show, where you find everything your walls have been missing. A few good ways to keep to your budget:
The "Little Luggage" Technique: Only buy what you can fit in your existing, tiny luggage. And you’re already squashing a fair amount of stuff into just a carry-on.
The "Cash Only" Technique: Set a budget in advance, and put it in cash in your wallet. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. No plastic.
The "Gifts Only" Technique: If you can justify it as a gift for someone, great. Nothing for you though. Those are too easy to justify. The enormous broadsword is awesome, but would your brother really appreciate it enough for you to spend the cash? Nah, he’s not that cultured.
5) Happy Tech
I don’t know about you, but I need my devices happy and healthy for a good con experience. I take my laptop for taking notes, my phone for following what’s going on on Twitter, and a veritable rat’s nest of cables.

Connectivity: The rule is that the nicer the hotel, the more they’ll charge for wifi. Different hotels will give you differing amounts of connectivity, but most will have free wifi in the lobby. Hang out there when you can, when you need your internet time. If you have an unlocked phone, or a plan with tethering, you can make internet happen through your phone instead (this is what I tend to use). Do be aware that if you’re going through your phone, you may need to pay attention to how much data you’re using. You don’t want to hit your limit and get throttled. And finally, you can avoid all of this if you go phone-only for everything and not even bother with a laptop or tablet. Unless you’re in a black hole or the bowels of the San Antonio Conference Center, a few bars will do the trick.
Power: Not exactly a frugal trick, but keeping your devices charged keeps them usable, which sometimes tells you when someone has an extra case of beer/cupcakes/whatever that they need help getting rid of. Bring a power strip, and you’ll be everyone’s new best friend.

So there you go. You can get pretty cheap with cons and still get to go to a bunch while avoiding the whole “starving and dying” thing. Have fun!

Effie Seiberg lives in San Francisco near a sculpture of a pirate bunny with a skull in its mouth. She's a graduate of the 2013 Taos Toolbox writing workshop and is shopping around her first novel, a comic fantasy which is a snarky romp through chaos theory, with an ostrich. In a previous life, she worked in Silicon Valley tech. In a previous previous life, she was a lab rat with machinations to take over the world. Things change.
You can follow Effie on twitter at twitter.com/effies or on G+ at google.com/+EffieSeiberg, or just check out effieseiberg.com if you don’t feel like committing to continued interaction.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coming Soon: Calls for Submission Column

In the next week or two I'll have the first of a reoccurring column aggregating calls for submission. It will be by Selene MacLeod who also administers the successful Facebook group Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art).

If this is what you like to see, sign up for email notifications of new posts so that you don't miss a thing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Changing/Correcting Guest Posts or Interviews, and More Replying to Reviews: Book Marketing without B.S. #3

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Today there are two related questions. The first person asked "What if I want to change an interview or guest blog post reply after it's already gone up?"

Naturally, if there is an error of some kind--whether factual or typographical--you should politely ask the journalist or blogger to make the change and explain why if it isn't obvious.

I can't think of any other reason you should ask to change something you've already vetted and has been published. It is possible you'll be embarrassed by something you've written, or realize it might have been more clear stated another way; but, those aren't good enough reasons to ask for a change.

If you're worried this may happen, have one or two trusted friends read through what you have written and give feedback. At the very least, try to finish a day or two before deadline so you can sleep on it overnight and see if you still like it in the morning.

The next question was "What do you think about writers replying to their reviews?" Now, I have already written about this; but, I realized that I could add one more piece of advice.

If you see that the negative reviews have similar themes, there may be something you can learn from them, and it may be worth it to reply in the form of a blog post. Be very careful to not specifically address individuals if you do this. You can say something such as "I've noticed a trend in my 1- and 2-star reviews" and that covers it. You can always link to the book at an online store and people can look at all the reviews for themselves. Plus it's the link where they can buy your book, so there's that, too!

An essay will let you explore your thoughts on the topic without seeming confrontational. I still think the best option is not to address it publicly at all, but if you feel there is interpretation to share, or that you have something interesting to add to the conversation then go for it.

Finally, be careful about tone if you go this route. It's still important to not look like a asshole or a whiner. You are your own branding online, and your choice of words makes a difference. So, as you would with your fictional writing, have trusted associates read through your post first and give their feedback serious consideration.

That's all for this week. Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thanks for all the support!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Guest Blog: Small Press Tips & Lessons from the Booksburgh Book Store Hop

Today's guest blog is by Jennifer Barnes, of small publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP). She organizes social media and events, and today she's come by to share her experience organizing a madcap day in which RDSP took over Pittsburgh, doing a reading/signing each hour for five hours, at five different locations. Even if you aren't a publisher, you may find some of these hints useful in organizing events with your writing group or other writer friends. Enjoy!

Heidi Ruby MillerOver the years RDSP has done all kinds of events from gigantic book fairs like BEA to readings in a decommissioned lunatic asylum. It takes a lot of planning to get the most out of events and you can learn from each one. We recently did something we hadn't done before which was a 5 author bookstore tour of Pittsburgh. It was a bit hectic but lots of fun and a great experience. I think a one-city tour is something that could be duplicated by others to good effect so I thought I'd share some tips. 

First I'll give a brief description of how it worked. Five reading/signings were set up at different bookstores, each was scheduled for an hour and they were back-to-back beginning at 1pm and going through 6pm. Each store hosted one of the participating authors so every author got a chance to do a short reading and answer audience questions. You can see the photos we took from the event here.

Stephanie WytovichOne thing that worked well was that most of the authors hopped to each location and were on hand to sign their books. This meant a lot of cross-exposure between authors. I noticed that at each location there were people who clearly came for the featured author; but at the same time they often became interested in one of the other authors.

It was also helpful for someone to briefly introduce all the authors at each stop. Often the featured author who would introduce the others. Having multiple authors is the key to drawing in a larger audience.

We had several attendees who hopped with us to each location. This gave the whole event a party-like atmosphere. We were lucky because our event was planned by a local (thanks Diane Turnshek!) and was sponsored by an organization that supports Science Fiction (PARSEC) in Pittsburgh. These connections were important for getting locals to attend. The authors were from nearby but none lived in the city itself.

K. Ceres Wright, Al WendlandAnother thing that worked well was that all of the stores were very different from each other. One was a University bookstore, one a co-op, another primarily dealt in magazines. We also hopped to a mall store and a traditional used bookshop. This gave us exposure to all sorts of shopping venues.

It's important to be flexible with your sales arrangements to accommodate each venue. We had two stores that ordered in advance; one paid upfront, one was invoiced. The co-op let us sell our
own books while the mall store required signed paperwork. 

Matt BettsThough the stores were very different they were all in fairly close proximity. Even so, it was a little hectic trying to get to each store in time. The author who is being hosted should be prepared to leave the previous event well in advance to be sure to be on time.

This kind of event is best suited for a mid-sized city with a lot of bookstores, like Pittsburgh. However, I could see it working well with spots like coffee shops and bars if your city doesn't have enough stores in close proximity. If the distance and travel time between the locations is too great that could cause problems. We did have a few people getting lost between stops. It's not necessary to have 5 stops though, a 3- or 4-stop author tour might actually work better.

Perhaps the most important tip I can give about bookstore events is to think of them as advertising not sales events. When/if you sell copies that is just the icing on the cake. What you are really doing is advertising your book. You get to do that in three ways:

Jason Jack MillerFirst, when you promote the event you obviously mention that you'll be signing and reading. It gives you a chance to mention your books without begging people to buy them. Next, if possible arrange with the stores in advance to have some kind of book display and signage advertising the event. The even itself is an advertisement because as you travel to each location you get to describe your book to whoever attends. And finally, you should do a post-event wrap up for every event you attend. Share pictures (you must take LOTS of pictures) on social media, blog about your experience, publicly thank the stores who supported you. 

These are all ways to advertise your book without actually mentioning it. Compare this kind of advertising to a print ad and you'll see you get way more bang for your buck. What you've invested is mostly time and gas money with the potential to make very strong personal connections with a few people as well as impress a larger number online. Print ads cost hundreds of dollars but never result in a personal connection, only appear once and are easily forgotten.

all authors' books available
A note about turnout: hope for the best but expect the worst. It's hard to get people to come out of their houses. Things like scheduling conflicts and weather are unpredictable and can prevent people from showing up. This is not a fail and happens to famous authors too! Try to make sure you have at least one close friend or family member that's guaranteed to show, enjoy spending time with the other authors and have fun. If the turnout is low you don't need to mention it in your post-event press. People will see how much fun you had and vow to make it to your next event.


Jennifer Barnes, Chris StoutJennifer Barnes is managing editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press which is currently celebrating its 10th year publishing "fiction that foams at the mouth."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Post: I Am Finished Writing My Novel. Now What?

Today we hear from freelance editor and author of The Dragon Whisperer, Vanessa Ricci-Thode.

So you just finished writing your book? Congrats! Reward yourself! Go grab some ice cream. Have a wild evening out with friends. You’ve earned it. Few people ever even start writing a book, never mind finishing one. You’re a star!

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. That’s right, writing a novel is the easy part! If you’re completely lost about what to do next, then you’ve come to the right place.

Step away from the manuscript and no one gets hurt
Give the novel some time to simmer. Do anything that doesn’t involve tinkering with your shiny new draft. It’s one of the first thing Susan Bell recommends in her excellent book The Artful Edit. Even the masters of literary abandon at NaNoWriMo suggest taking time off before getting back to work on your novel, and they’ve got some excellent tips on what you should do next.

Don’t fall in love with your words
Once you’re back at it with fresh eyes, you need to remember that this is a first draft. Don’t get too attached to it and it will be easier to focus your revisions. You’ll need to watch out for those “darlings” Stephen King warns us about in On Writing, as well as point of view problems, and the insidious matter of telling rather than showing.

It all seems daunting, especially when you consider that this is still the beginning stages of revision, but there are many tools available to a resourceful and dedicated writer. I’ve named some already, and one of my favourite books on this subject is The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.

Find a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes
No one can wholly edit their own work — and this from a professional editor! — so find some objective friends and family members. Get them to read your book and give feedback — constructive feedback! Be sure to ask them how you could improve. Don’t have any readers in your social circle or family? Join a writers group or submit to an online critique group like Critters.

Editors aren’t your enemy
Okay, by now you should have gone through at least one more draft of your novel, but dozens of rewrites wouldn’t be unusual (or even a bad sign). You’re confident that you’ve got the best manuscript you’re capable of. Remember my second point and don’t get too attached. You may have taken your novel as far as you can, but a good editor can guide you in taking your writing to dizzying new heights.

Whether you plan to self-publish or approach traditional publishing houses, remember that good editors want your book to succeed. When they make suggestions, they aren’t trying to “tear apart” all that you’ve worked so hard for. It’s an editor’s job to point out lingering weaknesses and guide you in making your novel truly shine.

If you want to hire an editor (and I strongly recommend it if you plan to self-publish), there are plenty of places, like the EAC, to find qualified professional editors for whatever genre or length of story you’ve written. Do your research and make sure you find an editor who is the right fit.

Time to publish?
I frequently have authors ask me, after all the above steps have been taken, where to find publishers. There’s always the option of self-publishing, and I could fill a whole post on that. For traditional publishers and markets, I recommend checking out Duotrope’s listings, as well as two great print resources: Jeff Herman’s Guide to Editors Publishers and Agents, and the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.


Final comments from Beverly: Thanks very much, Vanessa! These are useful, practical tips. One note I wanted to share with readers is that Duotrope is now largely a paid site. They're the top name in the game; but there are donation-only alternatives, such as The Submission Grinder.

Another note is that if you really feel that you can't afford to hire an editor or proofreader (or cover artist for that matter), you have the option of hiring a student for a smaller amount of money. You pay less, but bear in mind you also get less experience, so you must keep expectations realistic.

If you have any questions or comments for Vanessa, leave them in the comments. 

Vanessa is a word sorceress working as both a fiction author and editor with a focus on genre fiction. She's been writing her whole life, and has been a freelance editor for three years, with active membership in the EAC. Visit her website at www.thodestool.com for details.