Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Random Writing Tips – blog mining

 

It seems that if you want to sell your books – especially if you self-publish – you need to find and engage with an audience.  That’s great an all, if you’re someone who can hold a conversation.  One time in college, I was walking somewhere with a woman and she said, “So, tell me about yourself.” I thought for a bit and replied, “I was born.” She laughed, and then started talking about something else.  I’m not an engager.  (Not to brag, but years later a different woman said that, while I was smart and funny, talking with me was “mentally and emotionally draining.”)  Ideally, I’d publish a book and then just have it be magically found.  But we don’t live in a world of magic – dammit – so if I want to find an audience, I need to do something.

One of the things I’m trying is publishing more blogs – with titles like Random Writing Tips – in the hope that someone might stumble upon this and be funneled to my books.  Of course, over the years I’ve written numerous blogs.  While many of them are comments on – at the time – current events, some of them are still relevant and I recently went back through my blogs and found all these posts.  Some deal with things I can expand on, but others I can use as is.  For example, over the years I’ve posted short stories or poems dealing with some holiday, like Halloween.  So now every October I can just tweet out a link to this story for the season. 

And that’s the basic idea of blog mining.  You’ve spent hours and hours writing blogs that – in all likelihood – get swallowed up in the internet quicksand in less than a day.  Why let all the work go to waste when all it takes is a tweet to bring it back to the surface. 

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Image from Pixabay.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Free vampire story ideas

Yesterday I was scrolling through Twitter, or Facebook, I forget which, and I saw a post of someone asking for tips for writing a vampire story.  I didn’t read any of the suggestions because I didn’t really care.  Vampires have almost been done to death.  But the idea of a vampire story fluttered around in my head, and I thought that for a good vampire story there needs to be some twist.  As a random example, I thought of a reverse-vampire.

A reverse-vampire was just supposed to be a joke, but I started wondering what that would entail.  Like, would that just be a “vampire” that gives blood to the people they bite?  Like would royal families keep a reverse-vampire around to treat the hemophiliacs in the family?  Or would they be used to give clean blood to doping athletes?  I could picture a scene in an ER where someone had a bad accident and the doctor goes, “They’re losing too much blood.  Somebody wake up Vlad.” And a nurse grabs a broom and pokes a bat sleeping in the corner, and it would transform into a groggy guy who bites the patient and gives them blood.

I got a chuckle over these ideas, and I’d write them myself, if I didn’t have like, 8,000 other story ideas I want to write.  So if you can make anything of these, have at it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Random Writing Tips – An interesting use for libraries/Twitter

 


At the beginning of the year, I did a post on my writing goals for 2021.  One thing I left off that list because it only relates to writing, is that I want to sell more of my Kindle books this year.  That’s a great goal, but how does one try to do that?  I don’t know.  Which is why I’m trying some things this year to see if I can find something that seems to work so I can expand on it in the coming years. 

While I would love to see all of my books get attention, I’m only going to focus on some of them.  And while I would love to see more sales in all markets, I’m also only going to focus on a few, like Australia.  If I figure anything out in selling Book A in Australia, maybe I can apply that to selling Book B in Brazil.

So how can someone living in the US get more sales in Australia?  Well, I figure the first step is getting people in Australia to know that I exist.  How can I do that, that’s cheap?  After some thought, this is what I’ve come up with.

It is really easy to search online for a list of libraries in some place, say Australia.  The majority of these libraries have webpages.  Now, I haven’t crunched the numbers, but it seems that only about a third of libraries also have Twitter accounts.  Some libraries are famous for one reason or another and have thousands of followers.  But other, smaller, libraries only have a few hundred followers.  Now, who would follow the Twitter account of a small library in a small Australian town?  Probably the locals who use that library. 

At this point some of you probably think that I just randomly follow a bunch of Australian people in the hope that some of them will check me out and hopefully buy some of my books.  I’m not that tacky.  I will read through the people following this small Australian library and if I see any with bios saying that they are “avid readers” or “lovers of all things sf,” those are the ones I will follow. 

So if you are trying to target people in some specific place, this might be one way to try to reach them.  Having only followed a few dozen such people (2021 feels really busy, but I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything) and not yet having any sales in Australia this year, I can’t say how successful this scheme will be.  But there’s only one way to find out if this works.  If it does, I might tell you.  Or I might keep the secret to myself.  We’ll see.

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Image from Pixabay.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Random Writing Tips – Schedules

A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog about my writing goals for this year.  One goal I didn’t mention because it’s not actually writing, is to sell more of my books.  Great idea, but how do you go about that?

I figure a good place to start is to just have more people know I exits.  Again, that’s a great idea, but what do I do?  More importantly, what can I do that is simple and cheap?  One idea I had is to actually blog more.  For the last couple of years I haven’t really done much blogging.  Part of it was that for a time I was on several sites where you got paid for interactions with your posts, so I put all of my stuff there.  But one by one those sites went belly up, and I kind of lost interest in posting stuff.  I’d post the occasional thing if the mood struck me, but there was nothing regular.

When I figured I should start blogging more, I remembered reading an article years ago on making the most of your author blog.  I forget who the author was, but they said that one way to have meaningful interactions with potential readers is to stick to some schedule.  If readers know that every Monday they’ll get to read some writing horror story and every Thursday they’ll get some writing advice, then they’ll keep coming back.

It’s great advice, and I think I tried to follow it years ago, but I think I overdid it.  It’s the classic story of having to split your finite time between writing your novel and writing the two or three blog posts for this week.  I tried to do too much, fell behind, and got discouraged.  So this time, I’m keeping it small.  On the first Tuesday of the month, I’ll post a blog about something, such as my writing goals for the year, and on the third Tuesday I’ll do a Random Writing Tip.  I’m also doing a couple things on my other blog, so I’m averaging about a blog a week, which I hope won’t strain my time. 

So that’s my … secondhand tip.  Make some schedule for your writing.  And it doesn’t have to just be for blogs.  It could be anything from writing a blog every Wednesday, or working on your novel on odd numbered days and your poetry on even, or working on your stories during the week and revising on the weekends. 


Like most good advice, this all sounds easy.  Sticking to it, that’s the hard part.  Of course, there are a couple things to keep in mind with your schedule.  First off, it should be achievable: don’t schedule yourself to write a novel every Thursday.  And secondly, and probably more importantly, don’t get discouraged if you fail to keep to your schedule.  If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that unexpected shit happens.  These schedules aren’t carved in stone, they can always be adjusted or replaced with a new schedule that better suits your current situation.

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Image from Pixabay.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Biden Inauguration Sale!

Just before the 2012 Election, I self-published Political Pies, a collection of forty of my stories with a political element.  I tried to make the stories as neutral or equally condemning of the parties as I could because I wasn’t trying to force an agenda, I just wanted people to start thinking about issues.  Since then, to try to get it into as many hands as I could, I usually have a free sale of it for the Fourth of July, elections, and inaugurations.  Usually I just have it by itself, but last year I started doing sales with multiple books, so that’s what I’m doing here. 

So, between Sunday January 17th and Thursday January 21st, you can grab the following five Kindle ebooks for free. 

Political Pies


Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into my Political Pies anthology. My stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

The Future is Coming


As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel that I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Brain for Rent and other stories


Brain for Rent and other stories is a collection of five of my short scifi stories to give a sampling of my writing. The collection includes: “Brain for Rent” about a ne’re-do-well failed writer with a conceptual implant who discusses his work with a young woman thinking of getting an implant herself. “The Demonstration” is about a different young woman wanting to show off her latest body modification. “Self Imprisonment” offers one solution of safe keeping the backup copy of yourself. “The Best Job Ever” is about a necessary – yet unpleasant – human/alien interaction. And the collection ends with “Why Stay?” which explains why, after years of fighting the humans, the robots just deactivate.

An Ounce of Prevention


Like most people, Jason Fisher wanted to make the world a better place, but he doubted he would ever have the chance to make much of a mark. Then a “woman” came to him, asking his help to save humanity by threatening it.

Lonely Phoenix


Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

My writing goals for 2021


 Last year I posted a blog of my writing goals for 2020.  I had four goals and I met two-and-a-half of them.  One goal was that every four years I go through my ebooks and fix any typos and outdated information.  I forget exactly when I finished my 2020 revisions, but it was around April.  After I finished that, I got to work on my collection Useless Cogs, which I published in October. 

The one goal from last year I didn’t meet – and will be carried over – was finishing a rough draft on The Pathfinder Saga, Volume 1.  Basically, it’s this super long, fantasy epic thing.  (See last year’s post for more details.)  I got some work done on it, but not much.  I’m trying to set aside two days a week to work on it, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish the rough draft this year. 

My main goal for 2021 is publishing The Uncapped Pen.  This is a collection of fifty stories covering various aspects of writing: author’s arguing with their muse, antics at writers group meetings, stuff like that.  It’s been on the back burner for a decade, but I’m finally going to finish it.  It was part of last year’s goal of working on other collections, so this is the “half” of a goal met. 

And my general goal this year is to write more.  Part of that will be working on other collections, but I’ve also been meaning to finish some stories and send them out to magazines.  That’s something I haven’t done much of for the last few years, and I’m hoping to get back into that.

So you’ll have to come back next year and see how I do.

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Image from Pixabay.