Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Link Roundup April 24: Phantom Tollbooth Documentary, Transcribing Interviews, and More

Just a short post for today, wanted to share some of the links I've been collecting recently. There's some useful info here for putting a recorded interview into written form, videos comparing and describing the various self publishing platforms, exciting news about a classic children's book, sweet pics captured during my Mechalarum costume promotional event, and a great forum post with tips about using Kickstarter. Hope you enjoy!

How Do You Transcribe Recorded Interviews?

Self Publishing Video Tutorials

Phantom Tollbooth Documentary Coming This Summer

Meet Emma Larkins on Take It Easy Tiger

Forum Post About Kickstarting Board Games

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Interview with Alex Shvartsman on Community Days

Welcome to another great Community Days interview!

My guest today is Alex Shvartsman, a writer and game designer from Brooklyn, NY. He's sold nearly 50 short stories since late 2010, to such venues as The Journal of Nature, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy's Edge, among others. He's best-known for humorous short stories.

In 2012 Alex edited and published Unidentified Funny Objects -- an anthology of humorous SF/F which featured stories by Mike Resnick, Lavie Tidhar, Jody Lynn Nye, and Ken Liu, among others. It was well-received by readers and critics alike. Alex is running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the second in what he hopes will become an annual anthology series: Unidentified Funny Objects.

Tell us a little bit about your inspiration for the Unidentified Funny Objects collection. How did it reflect your previous experience as a writer and editor?

Much of what I write is humorous science fiction and fantasy short stories. I submit them to what markets appreciate that sort of thing, but there are many established and well-respected magazines and anthologies that do not. So it cuts down the list of viable professional markets from over a dozen to just a handful. I always found this frustrating and wished that somebody would create a regular outlet for SF/F humor (I firmly believe there are plenty of readers interested in such stories). So you could say that I was inspired to create the market I always wanted to exist. And when I researched humor anthologies, I found that nothing similar to Unidentified Funny Objects had been published, at least not during the course of the last decade. I became even more convinced that there's a niche need that my project could fill.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Virtual and Real-World Events Can Nurture Your Writing Career

What’s a writer got to do to get noticed these days?

Feeding your fictional (or non-fictional) passion requires more than simply creating beautiful works of words. Readings, panels, classes, and presentations (whether on- and offline) can be a great boon to your exposure – and your bottom line.

Strengthening Relationships with Fans 

Self-published authors are pretty much on their own when it comes to building a platform of zealous fans (although it is possible to contract out publicity services, as long as you find a reputable person or organization). The strongest relationships are formed when you meet and engage people in conversation – either in the real world, or the virtual one. It can take some work to get comfortable with the idea of showcasing yourself live in front of strangers, but it helps to think of the lives you can potentially touch, teach, and inspire with your words.

If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will probably be able to assist in this arena – after all, it’s in their best interest to improve your visibility. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take as active a part as you can. For example, check out Togather; it’s a great option for getting fans to commit to an event so you don’t show up to an empty room.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Janicu, Book Reviewer, on Community... 'Days

Another great guest on Community Days today! Janicu (aka Janice) has been reviewing books since 2006, and posting reviews on her blogs since 2007. Her focus is speculative fiction (an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, and stories in general with fantastical elements) with a good does of romantics thrown in for good measure.

You can learn more about Janicu on her Specfic Romantic blog or on Twitter. She's also got a great Tumblr if that's more your style. Hope you feel enlightened after reading her responses!

What is it that attracts you to speculative fiction with a romantic angle?

Well, I think that it's the combination of the total escapism of a world that exists in your imagination that SF brings combined with the interesting relationship dynamics you see in Romance. I don't necessarily NEED both of those together - when I was a kid, straight Fantasy was my favorite genre, but as time went on and I read more stories, I realized I tended to prefer character-driven tales that end happily. That's not always true (I good bittersweet ending can make me hug a book and sigh brokenly), but it is generally where my tastes are. When I first created my blog I didn't really think too much about what to call it. I just used my nickname (janicu) and said, "janicu's book blog". Later on I wanted to make it clearer what I reviewed so I came up with specficromantic because it explained my tastes better.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview With Zachary Bonelli on Community Days

I was privileged to host Zachary Bonelli's first Google Hangout interview!

Zack is the founder of Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, a group of speculative fiction writers who wanted to create a powerful collaboration to make it easier to spread the word about their work. You can find out more about him by checking out his website, or see what he's up to on Twitter.

In addition to spending time creating fantastic works of fiction, the authors at Fuzzy Hedgehog Press also take time to promote the work of others through their Indie Spec Fic Fund. They highlight cool-looking projects from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, helping innovative, new writers have their chance at the spotlight.

Here is a video of the interview, and below is a partial transcript. Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I've been writing for a very long time, I started when I was in high school. As I kept writing, a I latched onto a character and a world (well, actually, multiple worlds). That became a book, Voyage. I became embittered with the whole traditional publishing system, decided I couldn't get it ever published that way, and put that on the back burner. I wrote little stories over the last ten years, but basically it was stalled. And then recently, Hugh Howey and the big self-publishing thing happened. Not only did I decide now is the time for me to really write Voyage and get that out into the world, but I wanted to create a space for people like myself. My biggest worry with putting out Voyage, at least through the traditional publishing machine twelve years ago, was that my main character is gay. Someone along the way would tell me "oh, he has to be straight or it won't sell," of course that would be the end of my relationship with any publisher or editor. Even though, clearly, that's not the case today, the publishers would be more receptive to that, I wanted to create a community where anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation [would be supported].

What are the benefits of a writing collective for authors?

The different models of collectives are varying a lot. Part of the core values for me, at least, are 1.) authors owning the rights to their own work, and 2.) no one in the group will ever tell you that you can't publish "x." They may disagree with you strongly, but there's no such thing as "Oh, that's a topic that's not allowed in literature." The other major thing that separates us is, if you look at groups like the Science Fiction Writers of America, people are only allowed in if they have "acceptable publications" in "acceptable venues." We are not an exclusive group, in fact, exclusivity is totally contrary to the core values... If you have a piece of writing that you're working on, and that you intend to publish or self-publish, you're welcome.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bibliocrunch Twitter #Indiechat for Self-Published Authors: My Takeaway

I participated in a great Twitter conversation hosted by Bibliocrunch on Tuesday called #indiechat. We ended up discussing all sorts of topics, but the main conversation centered around how to ask book bloggers for reviews on their sites.

On Blog Book Tours

A "blog book tour" is an online, promotional event during which an author schedules "appearances" on a collection of blogs related to authors, writing, the subject matter or genre of his/her book, etc. It's a great way to get people talking about your work, and it can be more effective (and less expensive!) than a "real world" book tour.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview with Nedzad Lomigora on Community Days

Welcome to the newly revamped Community Days! Now that I'm interviewing people on Google Hangouts, I realize that trying to fit all of the interviews on Fridays doesn't make as much sense as it once did, so I'm leaving the "day" part of this feature flexible.

Today's guest is Nedzad Lomigora, founder of the author promotion platform and organizer of the terrific Publishing Innovator Meetups in both Boston and New York. I recently worked with Ned to organize a Kickstarter for Authors panel, and hope to arrange more great events in the future.

Here's the broadcast as recorded from Google Hangouts. If you're interested in reading a partial transcript of the video, you can scroll down the page. But if you have time, watch the whole thing - there's plenty of good info to absorb. Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about your site, Zeeen.

It's a platform for authors that identifies, attracts, and engages readers. Our predictive analytics engine lets you set your goals, receive real-time alerts on the status of those goals, and access actionable recommendations (what to do to improve on reaching your goals). That all leads to more book sales.

What experiences brought about the idea for Zeeen?

I had a lot of experience in my past with finding industries that were going through a huge change, and publishing was one of those industries... I remember having a conversation with somebody, and asking: "This kind of tool you're using, all of the people in the publishing industry are using, right, because this would make sense. It's so easy, and why wouldn't they?" The answer was no; the publishing industry was so far behind [from a technology standpoint]. I realized the pain that authors were going through, that publishers can't help them with because they don't have the right tools or time. So you have authors left to their own devices... and they can't keep up with all the changes in technology. We decided to set up a company to focus on making the technology much easier to use for authors, and giving them tools that they need to promote and market their books in a way that takes the least amount of time out of their day so they can focus on writing.