Archive for May, 2014

It was a good weekend …

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

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… and not just because I sold 22 copies of my books at Clockwork Alchemy. Though that was a big part of it, the sales themselves aren’t what really mattered to me; it was that 22 copies of my books are in people’s hands, and they were in people’s hands because for the very first time, I had an author’s table.

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For the four days that I sat behind that author’s table, behind a fort of my books and my postcards and my wife’s steampunk gears and shelves and even a small tiger, I became part of a community of people – and not just even the wonderful people at the Clockwork Alchemy author’s alley, whom I hope to see again for years and years to come.

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No, I became a part of the broader community of science fiction authors, connecting with their readers through science fiction conventions, the way I myself first really connected with the science fiction community, after many years of reading alone. I’ve been a published author for years, and written in a small community for longer, but now I feel connected as never before.

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This is a new level of interaction, a new level of connection, a new opportunity for a whole family to create an author’s delight by buying their books and holding them over their heads like mouse ears. Somehow, everything feels more real to me, and I am more inspired than ever before to keep writing and to get the ideas in my head out … and into yours.

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I hope we both enjoy it! God bless,

-the Centaur

Sunday’s Events at Clockwork Alchemy

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

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Today’s talk on Real Women of the Victorian Era, led by the redoubtable T.E. MacArthur, went well. In a weird bit of synergy, an audiobook I was reading, Victorian Britain in the Great Courses series, had a section on Florence Nightingale which was not just directly relevant … it played just as I was driving up to the hotel. Perfect.

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 25th, I will be appearing on the panels Avoiding Historical Mistakes at noon in the Monterey Room (it is rumored that Harry Turtledove will be on the panel as well) and Victorian Technology at 2pm in the San Carlos room (not 1 as I said earlier), and giving a solo talk on The Science of Airships at 4pm also at San Carlos.

The rest of the time, I will largely be at my table above, which will look more or less like you see it above, except I may be wearing a different outfit. :-D

-the Centaur

I Have Landed at Clockwork Alchemy

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

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I have landed at Clockwork Alchemy. (Technically, I arrived yesterday). In 11 minutes, I am appearing on a panel on Real Women in the Victorian Era, even though it is not listed on my personal schedule.

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Oh, and I almost forgot: this is my very first booth of my own!

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More in a bit…

-the Centaur

The Weird Experience of Marketing Yourself

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

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This Memorial Day weekend, I will be at the Clockwork Alchemy conference, appearing on three panels (Real Women in Victorian Times Saturday at noon, Avoiding Historical Mistakes Sunday at noon, and Victorian Technology, Sunday at 1) and giving one talk (my old standby, The Science of Airships, Sunday at 4).

Since I won’t be at my table the whole time, I decided to print up a series of postcards for all of my books using the service at Moo.com, which I and my wife have found to be great for printing customized business cards with a variety of artwork on the cover. I decided to do one for each book, showing the cover on one side and a blurb on the back.

But then I discovered that, just like for the business cards themselves, while you can have many different covers on the front, you get only one choice for the back. So what should go on that single back cover? What should it market? Then I realized: I don’t have a book coming out right away. These cards actually have to market … me.

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Ulp.

More precisely, the cards have to market my work. But I’m not a single-series author; I can’t (yet) pull a George R. R. Martin and just say “author of Game of Thrones,” especially not at a steampunk convention when my most prominent series, Dakota Frost, is actually urban fantasy. “Anthony Francis, author of Dakota Frost – who? Author of what? Ok, fine … but why is he here?”

So I have to list not just one series, but all of them, and not just list them, but say what they’re about.

After some thought, I decided to use some of my own comic art that I’d previously used on my business cards as a backdrop, but to focus the content of the cards on my writing, not my comics (sorry, f@nu fiku and Blitz Comics … there just wasn’t enough room on the cards or poster), unifying all of my books under a theme of “The Worlds of Anthony Francis”. I feel like breaking out in hives when I write that. It sounds so damn aggrandized and pompous. But strictly speaking … it’s accurate.

One of my worlds is the fantastic space of the Allied universe, where genetically engineered centaurs hop from world to world like skipping stones in the river (collected in the anthology STRANDED). Another is the hyper-feminist alternate history steampunk adventures of Jeremiah Willstone (collected in the anthologies UnCONventional and DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME). And yet another is the world of Dakota Frost, Skindancer, and the magic tattoos she can bring to life (FROST MOON, BLOOD ROCK, and the forthcoming LIQUID FIRE). And I hope you choose to read all of them! Enter the worlds, indeed.

But if I want people to read them, I need to tell people about them, in terms that make people, I dunno, actually want to read the books. Normally it’s a publisher who writes that copy, but they’re generally marketing a book, not me. I don’t yet have a publicist, and even if I did, the entire point of me is to do as many of the tasks of creative production myself as is practical, so I can speak at least quasi-intelligently about the process – case in point, the graphic design of the postcard above, which will be a blog post in its own right. But this isn’t about that part of the process; it’s about the feeling.

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One thing I’ve learned is that no-one knows that you write unless you actually tell them about it, and no-one buys what you write unless they know it can be bought. SO I have to do at least the first stab at this all by myself (not counting help from cats). I have to try to summarize my work, to bite the bullet and actually sell it, and to package that sales language up in ways that get it out to people – starting with a series of postcards to put on my table. And oh, yes, to blog it: to finally lift my head far enough above the waters to shout, yes, world, I am here, and no, I don’t need a life preserver: I need you to buy some of my books.

It still feels weird saying that.

I guess I’ll have to get over it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: the back of the postcards I printed for my table, featuring my own art; me, in a potential author publicity picture; and Gabby, helping me organize my book files and promotional materials.

Victory again, my friends

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

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SO yet again I’ve completed a challenge to finish 50,000 words in a month … this time the April Camp Nanowrimo challenge. My goal was to write 50,000 new words in the 4th Dakota Frost book, SPECTRAL IRON … and as of April 30th, I did it:

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Normally I write a lot about how this happened, bla bla bla. But the big thing that happened with this month is that it has gotten me ahead of the game for a change. I’ve had breaks, of course, in the past year and a half, but no matter how easily I breathed, I always had two almost-finished novels hanging over me (LIQUID FIRE and CLOCKWORK), and chunks of several more half-finished novels waiting in the wings (HEX CODE, SPECTRAL IRON, and MAROONED).

Now both of those books are at the publisher, my editor and I aren’t going to talk until after Memorial Day … and I, for once, feel like I’m starting to get caught up.

If you see me wielding a stick, it’s to beat off new projects with.

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The last thing I learned is that I can basically write 50,000 words of rough draft material in approximately 20 days, and that’s with having serious work responsibilities and personal responsibilities I have to put first. It’s a push, but it isn’t an impossible push, and that means I can seriously start looking at other projects and start figuring out where to wield that hammer.

First up, the frontispiece for LIQUID FIRE. Then, my upcoming talks at Clockwork Alchemy. Oh, and the next version of Blitz Comic’s Survival Guide. Lots of projects … but all were on the plate before. Now I just no longer have a giant sword of Damocles hanging over them; I instead have Thor’s hammer, ready to strike.

-the Centaur

UPDATE: actually, first up, was an image for Blitz Comic’s Free Comic Book Day Creator’s Kit. But that’s still Blitz. So it’s OK.