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Monthly Archives: December 2012


Come join me on Google Plus

Over the past few weeks I’ve been really diving into Google+, and I’m loving it. Most of my friends have given me weird looks when I talk about it. And I hear the same things. “No one is using it. The place is a graveyard.” That is when I invite them to check out my feed, which has a mass of new content daily.

That’s when I say, “You’re using it incorrectly.”

Most people are trying to use G+ like Facebook. I find my friends and we post pictures to one another and let each other know what we’re up to. Which is totally fine to do with G+, but that’s not the only thing you can, or should do with it.

I explain it like this. G+ is like taking Facebook and Twitter and smashing them together into one beautiful interface. Follow your friends, but follow other people as well. Find others that share similar interest as you. Which is easy enough because you can search by hashtags or see what is trending for the day. Once you’ve done that, start dropping these people in circles.

Oh yes, circles. Where the real power of G+ comes into play. I have people separated out into family, RPG pals, writing groups, celebrities, and so-on. It’s awesome. And as I post content I can filter who sees what by selecting the appropriate circle. That way I’m not bombarding my family with gaming news that they won’t or don’t care about.

Lastly, are the new communities that Google has introduced. Within hours I’ve signed up for several writing communities that have been awesome. We’ve been having great debates on the state of the industry, sharing tips, and being generally supportive of one another.

If you’re looking for great communication about whatever you’re interested in, I highly recommend giving G+ another look.


The Vanity of Self-Publishing

Lately I’ve been heavily into using Google+ communities. There are several great writing communities out there and it’s great to be in contact with other writers. If you have the time, I’d recommend checking it out. With that said, yesterday a couple of us got into a spirited debate about traditional publishing and self-publishing. It all started when I posted an article about Simon and Schuster’s self-publishing arm, Archway.

I had heard about Archway on NPR while driving into work. The sound of it was pretty awesome. S&S was providing a way for authors to self-publish through them and in turn they’d track your sales, which could eventually parlay into a writing contract should your sales be strong.

So I posted the link to my writing community on Google+, thinking they’d be interested. Unfortunately I didn’t do my due diligence. Many pointed out that Archway is Vanity publishing and to stay away. But something occurred to me. Even in self-publishing, if you want to have a solid chance, you’re going to have to spend money as well. Between editing, formatting, cover design, and your personal time marketing there is going to be a cost.

One of the members, Brian Rush, had this to say about my idea.

Me:  However, you can make the argument that even publishing to Smashwords and Amazon is something of vanity publishing, assuming you spend money for good cover design, layout, and editing.

Brian: No, you absolutely cannot. There is a big difference between paying for services to make your book best you can be, and paying for access to distribution to get around the publishing companies’ lock on it. The latter is vanity publishing, the former is not.

But I’m not sure I can agree with his perception. To me, and this solidly is my opinion, there is a certain amount of vanity involved when using services like Lulu, Amazon, or Smashwords. And I’m not trying to knock people that use them. I use them. But when I look at how either functions — Vanity Publishers versus Amazon let’s say– they are nearly identical. You skip past a publisher and pay others to produce a book that you market yourself. Yes, you may pay less. A fraction of the cost at times. But you’re still paying an upfront cost.

And that’s the core of it.

Another user, Rebekkah Niles, had this to say:

 [S]elf-publishing requires the author to invest her own resources in purchasing editing and a cover. That’s money out of her pocket (we’ll look at options in a sec). That means the entire risk is hers: she is putting her own money on the line. On the other hand, a traditional publisher provides cover and editing at /their/ expense. That’s a form of risk-diffusion, getting someone else to carry the financial risk at the expense of paying them later.

I think she makes a very solid point. It comes down to where/when you want to spend the money and whose money it will be.

Perhaps the term Vanity Publishing needs to change, in order to reflect how the industry works now. Or perhaps the stigma behind what Vanity Publishing means needs to shift.

Something to think about.

You Need a Writing Group

If you aren’t with a dedicated writing group, find one, now. I know that comes across a bit harsh, but I can’t stress enough how important they can be, and are. When I started writing in 2011 — like putting some serious effort behind it — I relied on myself for the critique process. But I could tell that I wasn’t going to get any better without more eyes on it.

Over the past year and a half I can see how my writing has been honed by the great group of people that I meet with every other week. Everyone, no matter their point of view, has something to make you think about and consider.

I had just finished my recent short story and shuffled it off to them. I was pretty happy with it. I felt that the characters were strong and the combat was good. Come critique day I received confirmation on those feelings.

But it was everything else my tiny little eyes missed that they picked up on.

On how certain character motivations didn’t line up. Where actions that I thought were clear were actually very muddled. They gave solid ideas on what they felt was most important and what could probably be cut. It was exactly what I needed.

And because I meet with them in person, I’ve learned to trust their instincts. I know on a personal level their likes and dislikes. Where we all stand on certain tropes and genres. You can’t underestimate this side of the group. Because it is that personal touch that will inform you on where their feedback is coming from. Which, in turn, allows you to implement it in the best way possible.

Certainly, there will be comments and ideas that you have to filter through. Half of the table may love your ogre vampire who loves daisies. While the rest thinks it’s a travesty to mankind. In the end you will have to decide for yourself if that ogre is worth keeping. But at least now you have a better idea of where that character stands.

So I encourage, even implore you to get out there and find yourself a group. Check out meetup.com or other social media sites. And if you can’t find one, make your own. I’m certain there are other starved writers in your area looking for feedback.

Oh, and one final note. Make sure everyone writes or reads in a similar genre. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to critique Chick-Lit when all you read is SciFi/Fantasy 🙂

Short Lived

Well that didn’t last long. I was very excited to make the jump over to using my self-hosted blog site. I was able to get it’s theme to match my website and have a really unified look to everything. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Except I can.

Like, getting in touch with other writers.

Which for me is far more important than having a unified style across my platform. It’s nice, but if I can’t contact the people who’ve been following me over the past year, then what’s the point?

So I’m back to using wordpress.com. Which has a stronger community element than the other option. And we can all agree that being in touch with one another and exchanging ideas is what the internet is all about. Don’t you agree?

I’m glad you agree.

With that said, the next couple of days I’ll bring everyone up to date on what I’m working on and how things are going with my first book. For those that don’t know, I have progress bars on my website that give a quick visual glance on my current projects.

Also, I’m getting heavily involved in some great writing communities on G+. If you have a G+ account and want to know more about them, let me know and I can send you an invite.

See you all in a few days.

Running Away

Another reminder that the blog has moved. Check out my latest update “Running Away.” For those that are subscribed to this blog, I’m curious as to your experience with the self-hosted one. Did you find it easy to navigate? Was there anything confusing about it? If anyone would be willing to put it through its paces for me–as an outside party–that would be helpful. Thanks!

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