It’s 2017; What’s Your Favorite Story from 2016?

<Clink!> ~kazoo blast~ Happy New Year! Yes, the ol’ Earth made it one more time around its elliptical orbit to a particular, and arbitrary, point. Let’s party!

I know a productive way you could begin 2017. You could click over to the Critters Writers Workshop site and vote in their annual Preditors & Editors Poll for your favorite books published during 2016.

The poll includes a variety of categories. Although it’s not a scientific poll, winning it gives the fortunate author some bragging rights, and even making it to the top ten is an honor.

You could (ahem) even vote for two of my stories. One of them, After the Martians,” is in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story category. In the Anthologies category, the book In a Cat’s Eye contains my story “The Cats of Nerio-3.” The links in this paragraph and the book cover images open a new tab taking you straight to the correct poll category to vote.

To vote, click the button beside your favorite story’s (or anthology’s) title, then enter your name and e-mail address, then scroll to the bottom where you’ll see the image of a book’s cover (not mine). Type the author’s name of that book in the box to prove you’re not a spam robot. You’ll receive an e-mail to confirm your vote; just click the link in the e-mail and you’re done. Please vote before January 14, when they close the polling.

Recently, In a Cat’s Eye received a five-star review on Amazon by Katherine A. Lashley. She singled out “The Cats of Nerio-3” as one of her favorites in the book, saying it “does an amazing job in exploring the future of humans, artificial intelligence, and cats.” Thank you very much, Katherine!

If you haven’t read “After the Martians” or In a Cat’s Eye, you can still vote for them in the Preditors & Editors poll, but I also recommend reading them. Whether you vote for my stories or those written by others, I thank you for supporting authors. We value any scrap of appreciation thrown our way. Take it from—

                                                  Poseidon’s Scribe

The Publishing Times, They Are A’Changin’

To distort a line from a Bob Dylan song, times are indeed a’changin’ in the publishing industry.  In the long march from storytellers to clay tablets to papyrus scrolls to bound books to electronic books, each technology has brought a revolution and we’re now in the middle of one.

Publishing

After Gutenberg’s printing press and right up until the Internet, the book publishing industry had optimized into a fairly lean and stable operation, full of specialized tasks.  Each task was fairly well understood.

The writer wrote, and sought an agent.  The agent sought a publishing house and handled all the contractual details for the writer.  At the publishing house, of which there were only a few big ones, the editor polished the prose.  Upon agreement about the text, the publisher took care of cover design, printing, distribution, and marketing to booksellers.  The bookseller catered to the reading public, offering books for sale from their stores.

Despite all the middlemen, that process had been pretty well honed such that readers could still obtain books inexpensively.

With the advent of the Internet, much has changed, and it’s got all of the middlemen wondering what their future role will be, if any.

For the writer, there are software word processors and Internet research options, but not much else has changed.  A writer still must create the prose.

At the other end, the reader has more options, including e-readers and audiobooks, but for the most part reading is unchanged.

But agents, editors, cover designers, marketers, distributors, and booksellers are all left wondering what’s going to happen to them.  These days, writers can connect directly with readers, bypassing all the former steps.  An author can work with a single website such as Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and others, to get e-books directly to the reading public.

These websites offer many services, but the writer must do most of the tasks formerly accomplished by middlemen.  This includes reviewing the contract, editing, cover design, and marketing.

So where is all this going?  At what sort of equilibrium state will all this turmoil settle out?

It may be too early to tell, but I think there will be places for all the publishing middlemen in the future, assuming they adapt to an Internet-based world.  Some writers still need agents, editors, cover designers, and distributors.  Some readers still want bound books.  Much like the continued (but low) demand for horseshoes and oil lamps, there will be niche markets for all these functions.

As for me, I have yet to take the full plunge into self-publishing.  So far, with my short stories, I’ve been dealing with an independent ebook publisher, and with publishers of anthologies.

If Bob Dylan’s right, and the times they are a’changin’, where do you think the book publishing industry is headed?  What change would you like to see?  Leave me a comment and perhaps we can change things together, just you and—

                                                  Poseidon’s Scribe

December 29, 2013Permalink

Your Author Platform

Several years ago, the writing world buzzed about the concept of “author platform.”  Here I’ll briefly define the term, state the purposes of these platforms, describe mine, and offer thoughts on yours.

There are many sites where you can get a good definition of author platforms, notably here, here, and here.  Basically your platform consists of the ways you use to stand out in the crowd, the methods you use to attract a fan base of readers.

An author platform starts with your stories, your books.  From a platform point of view, it’s best if they have something in common—genre, theme, style, etc.  But the other aspect of the term platform is how you connect with readers.  Not just how you connect books with readers, but how you connect you with readers.

There are many ways to do that, including appearances at conferences and other venues, interviews, and your web presence.  Web presence includes blogs, social media, e-mailed newsletters, etc.

What’s the purpose of this platform?  In the ‘old days’ publishers would build a platform for the author.  No more.  Now it’s expected the author will take out saw and hammer and construct it herself.  If a publisher or agent sees that a writer has an existing platform, that represents a low business risk, an established product that’s ready to sell to already-waiting customers.

Readers don’t need to know about platforms, but they do enjoy connecting with authors they like.  When they take delight in a book and do a web search for the author and find a rich and varied web presence, they feel they can join the author’s circle.  When they find the author has other books just as good and similar in some way, they feel comfortable shelling out money for them because there’s a familiar consistency there, a set of established expectations.

For authors, the platform serves the purposes of connecting to both readers and publishers in the modern, web-based world.

Author PlatformAs for me, my platform is still under construction.  I’ve mainly been working on writing stories, as many as I can.  Although I’ve dabbled in different genres, I’ve found I enjoy writing about the problems of people dealing with new technology, especially in historical and foreign settings.  The stories in the series What Man Hath Wrought, put out by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, are the best examples.

My web presence is slowly increasing, by means of this blog, Twitter, and my author page on Amazon.  I’m still working on Facebook and other venues.

What about your platform?  My advice is to do what works for you.  Start with writing stories; hone your writing skills.  If you can get some of them published, even at non-paying markets, that at least gets your name out there.   Then work on the various marketing methods.  As you try things, pay attention to sales and spend more time on things that increase sales and less time on things that don’t.

As with any trend or movement, a backlash is forming with respect to platforms.  See section 3 of this entry.  I think Jane Friedman’s advice to new fiction writers (for whom I write my blog) is sound.  Just write.  Think about writing, focus on writing, enjoy writing, and let the marketing develop later.

What are your thoughts on author platforms?  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.  In the meantime, see that guy trying to erect some sort of raised dais there in the middle of the internet, using two-by-fours and bailing wire?  Don’t laugh, that’s—

                                                              Poseidon’s Scribe