Writers in the Mountains Conference

On Sunday, I was privileged to be part of the Writers in the Mountains’s “Meet the Authors” conference. Set in a distillery (talk about reinforcing a stereotype) in Arkville, NY, it was one of the most supportive, interesting, and especially fun, writing events that I’ve attended. Thank you so very much to the good people at Writers in the Mountains.

First, let me plug the distillery, because they deserve it. Union Grove Distillery opened only three months ago, and their vodka is fantastic. It’s in an old building that may have been a warehouse, I’m not sure. The setting…hell, the whole area around Arkville, deep in the Catskills, is beautiful. The mixed drinks were pretty damn good too.

writers in the mountains booze and coffee

(Coffee and booze: it’s what writers crave)

I even sold a few books! Considering my last clusterF at Barnes & Noble, it was a great confidence builder. Since I’m selling the Kindle copy of The Watchmage of Old New York for 99 cents (until 5/31/16) I sold a few of those too.

Craig at writers in the mountains

(I don’t always sell books, but when I do, it’s because I’ma sexy beast)

Did I mention that Watchmage is 99 cents right now? I did? I’m doing it again.

the-watchmage-is-coming1

I got to sit between two excellent (and very different) writers. The novelist and musician Robert Burke Warren, and the academic writer Linda Lowen. You can’t see them in the picture, but they’re there.

There were panels on the current state of publishing (both indie and traditionaul) and some beautiful poetry readings from luminaries like Danniel Schoonebeek and Sharon Israel. The keynote speaker was the always funny Rosie Schaap, author of the excellent memoir Drinking With Men, and the “Drink” columnist for The New York Times.

What else can I say. The conference was a very positive experience for me, and after being despondent about my work for the last month or so, I feel revitalized. Thank you to everyone, especially the president of Writers in the Mountains, Simona David.

If you’re an aspiring or established writer, always go to events. The internet is a fine way to network, but nothing beats face-to-face.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

 

How Settlers of Catan Improved My Promotion Skills Part II

Ok, this is a continuation of an earlier post, where I tried to convince people that gaming is the key to building promotional skills. Interested? Intrigued? In Sheboygan for the weekend (what?)? Check out part 1 before or after you read this (or you laugh at the memes).

What? You thought a cat riding a peanut butter and jelly sammich wouldn’t end up here?

4) Have a strategy and stick with it (unless it obviously isn’t working)

I’ve seen a lot of people play Catan, and they’re just all over the place with it. A little construction here, a little development points there, etc. It doesn’t work. You have to pick one strategy (based on your situation) and go with it. Personally, I like to build settlements and go for the longest road, but do whatever works for you.

When it comes to promotion, people sometimes get overwhelmed by the options. Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Pintrest, Reddit, Personal Pleas, Free Giveaways, Paying for promotion…so many options. When there’s a buffet in front of you, it’s hard to resist trying a little of everything (believe me, I know my buffets). The problem is that doing a little of everything is like doing nothing. Find one strategy and stick with it until it’s obvious that it doesn’t work. Give it at least 6 months, maybe even a year. Building recognition takes a long time. Be patient.

Don’t beg, engage instead.

5) Don’t Try to Tear Down Others, Just Build Better

Nobody likes the dick that plays The Robber. In Catan, you can use the robber to mess other people up, but it will almost always backfire on you (the only exception is when you use it to keep the leader from pulling too far ahead).

Remember rule #1, if you act like a dick, people remember. They will be wary of you every time you play from now on. People don’t always remember the good things that you do, but they always remember the bad ones (remember the John Pigfucker joke).

It’s hard to be nice all the time. When you put yourself out in public like writers do, people will insult you, shoot you down, and just troll for no better reason than to troll. You have to stay above all of this. There are tons of stories about people or businesses that got into flame wars and it dragged them down. Just don’t get sucked in.

Instead of rolling around in the mud, just build better. Stay your course, be positive and surround yourself with a network of positive people. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not, but it’s better than sinking into the quicksand of dickitude (it’s a word now!)

And get off my lawn…dick!

In Closing

I think that the suggestions I make in this blog and the previous one boils down to this: Don’t be an asshole. This is a pretty good mantra for life. Say it with me now…”Don’t. Be. An. Asshole.”

*drops mic*

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

How Settlers of Catan Improved My Promotion Skills Part I

I’ve been thinking about this article for a long time. I already wrote about how Dungeons and Dragons made me a better writer. I’ve also written about how war game strategies transfer to life. It’s natural to explore the effects of gaming. And you know, there’s something here.

I’m a gamer. I love German-style board games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Puerto Rico, to name a few. Oh, how I love gaming, and I think that some aspects of the games can be applied to real life.

I’m by no means an expert at promoting. When it comes to writing, yeah, I have tons of practical advice. I’ve been writing professionally for 15 years (can you believe that we used to snail mail copies of short stories to magazines?) and I teach creative writing. But with promotion, I just pass on the things I’m learning, with my own psychotic twist.

He would know…

I’ve been reading a ton of stuff on marketing for my novel and serial (and upcoming novels), along with advice from my publisher. There’s a flood of books out there right now (including tons for free), and it’s near impossible to make it without a solid strategy. I’m nowhere near the “made it” level. I hardly sell at all (though I blame this on my book being too pricey…no I can’t lower the price. That’s up to the publisher.)

Anyway, the more I learn the more I see similarities to gaming strategies. I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. I’ll get more specific below, but the key is: Be good, be focused, and don’t be a dick about it.

1)It’s a long game (from the right pov). build a reputation

Settlers of Catan is not a long game, and yet it is. No one plays just one game of it, and the people you play with are probably the people you’ll play with next time and the time after. In a sense, Settlers of Catan (and all games) is a game that goes on forever. People have long memories, and your actions in one game will influence all the games afterwards.

This means that you don’t want to get into internet fights (even if someone deserves it). Enemies are forever (think about Risk: Legacy…I’m looking at you, Osvaldo). Instead, make honest friendships. I’ve met some wonderful people in the writing business, going all the way back to my years as a journalist. Don’t try to befriend people just to use them. That’s a dick move. However, when you do find that kindred spirit, hold on to them and rise up together.

It’s so true.

I get tons of twitter “follows” from other writers. I only follow the writers that I have things in common with. I engage them in conversation, I enjoy their company. Even if I fail as a promoter and no one ever reads my books, I made some good friends.

2) Trade Honestly
In all games, I try to trade for mutual benefit. I realize that it might help someone else win, but it helps me in the long run. Again, don’t think of it as one game, but one short section of a longer game. With a reputation as a fair trader, I get more people willing to trade with me.

On the other hand, if I try to cheat people, people won’t want to trade, and I’m stuck without the resources I need.

Naughty Mr. Bean

This is doubly true with promotion. It’s something that goes on forever, so if you build that reputation (see above), it will come back to you. Of course, people will try to cheat me. I’ve had a few situations where I’ve promoted another person and they haven’t reciprocated. I don’t let that sway me. I just don’t deal with them anymore.

Firepole Marketing says that if you want people to follow/be interested in you, you have to give them something first. Offer a free story if they join your mailing list, etc. But be honest about it. Firepole is great when it comes to engaging audience, and I highly recommend their website (look at me, I’m giving them free promotion! I learned something, Firepole!).

3) Build a Strong Base of Resources

In Settlers of Catan, it’s important to gather resources through settlements. This gives you the ability to expand. No strategy works without the resources to implement it. If you go for longest road, development cards, or armies too early, you’ll find yourself without a sheep to stand on (or brick, wheat…you get the idea).

Just the same in promotion, you have to build a fanbase, and the way you do that is by giving (and hoping they give back). Without that initial fanbase, all your fancy facebook boosts and events won’t mean a thing. Engage your audience. Don’t be aloof. George RR Martin blogs almost every day, even though he has millions of fans and a ton of other stuff to do. He also has a circle of fellow writers that he plugs all the time. Neil Gaiman is always tweeting and retweeting other peoples’ tweets. Will Wheaton and George Takei both revitalized their careers through social media. If these writers and actors with a huge fan base do it, maybe you should too.

This is getting to be a long article, so I will continue in Part II.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. 

You can also check out my latest novel The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s a reboot of the serial from Jukepop Serials, which at one point reached #2 on their popularity chart. The novel is even better!

The Watchmage Is Coming

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Weekend Fun, new article soon

Hey all. I’ve been slacking a little bit with the articles, because I’ve been out having fun. Fun is fun, and it’s rare that I get to have fun. I hope that you all had a great Labor Day weekend with lots of fun. Because fun is fun.

But…fun is fun…

Anyway, I am working on an article which should be up soon. It’s about book promotion and how Settlers of Catan (and similar games) made me a better promoter. Intrigued? Me too. I dunno how I’m gonna bring these together. I have a general idea though, and I trust in my brain. It’s crazy enough to find a link.

does that strategy ever work?

So gamers and writer, look out. I’m comin’ to gitcha…with words.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

5 Myths About The Writing Business

Here is a great article by Chuck Sambuchino titled “5 Mistakes Writers Make (and How To Avoid Them).” The title is a bit of a “bait and switch,” as it’s about the business instead of the craft. Still, it’s something that all writers–indie or traditional–should read.

Its main thrust: YOU GOTTA HUSTLE

It took me a while before I realized this. With the help of my publisher, Damnation Books, we were able to craft an extraordinary novel in Song of Simon. The support I received from them has been excellent. I foolishly believed that the book would sell by itself. That’s far from the truth.

The problem is that there are millions of books out there, and unless you do something to stand out, you’ll disappear. I’ve tried a bunch of promo techniques in the past. What I’ve realized is that if you write about stuff you love, people that love the same will join you (that’s you guys). I love writing about geeky stuff. I assume that you love reading about geeky stuff. I hope that some of you read my fiction, but I don’t get shameless about it.

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to have fun doing this. I’ll even get out my 20-sided dice.

Ooooh a dual Star Wars/D&D meme. Critical Hit!!!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read the article (if you’d like). If you’d rather geek out with me, you can always contact me.

That reminds me: I have a blog about Dungeons and Dragons coming up sometime this week. D & D is my truest, sexiest love. Ok, not that sexy (it’s more anti-sexy), but I still love it.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist).