Saturday, January 22, 2011

Open Thread

Good morning, everyone. Apologies for being late getting this up but I'm moving slowly this morning. In case you haven't noticed over the last couple of Saturdays, we're trying something different. We're going to use our Saturday Morning Posts to help promote our work. What that means is you'll be seeing snippets, con schedules and pictures, giveaways, etc. It also means there will be one open thread every seven weeks. Today is that day.

So, this is your chance to ask any questions you have, to comment on the state of the industry, to make predictions about what's going to happen in publishing, etc.

So the floor is yours!


MataPam said...

Erk! Okay, as an aspiring writer, with a novella coming our next month, I need to start"doing" Cons. I think. But, what specifically ought I do at these things?

Get on panels? Give away bookmarks with info about the novella?

Err, talk to people?

:: Whimper :: Hides under bed at the very thought.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know of any steampunk books either written by Australians or set in Australia? I'm in the process of researching for my own, set mainly in 1850s Australia, and I'm having a blast.*

I've read Richard Harland's "Worldshaker" (duh!) and James Roy's "Ichabod Hart and the Lighthouse Mystery".

*Don't worry - I survived.

PS If you're looking for general steampunk I recommend Scott Westerfeld's brilliantly realised "Leviathan" series and Philip Reeve's hilarious "Larklight" series first (and the latter's "Mortal Engines" series if you like it violent and dark), then Cassandra Clare's "Clockwork Angel" series. I'm about to read Cherie Priest's "Boneshaker" and I'm on the hunt for copies of "Steampunk" by Ann vandermeer and "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson. I prefer YA.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


I found doing guest posts on blogs most helpful when my trilogy was coming out.

I can't afford to do US conventions and the Australian conventions are only 200-300 people who are all semi-pro or pro.

Plus the guest posts stay up on the web and people keep clicking through to my web page 6 months later.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


You've mentioned everyone I know.

Do you want me to put the question to the Vision writers list? There's a couple of hundred aussie authors spread across Australia. It's like tapping into a big group mind. LOL

Brendan said...


Try going for some steampunk links.

Brendan said...

Oops, looks like my link-Fu failed.

Stephen Simmons said...


Based on what I'm observing of a friend whose first (awesome!) novel hit the stores last spring, I say all of the above, but most especially the last. Try to get on the program schedule for reading/signing times, too. But the most important part is just being SEEN, and interacted with, with that "guest-author-color" badge instead of the color badge we paid-to-have-the-opportunity-to-meet-you people are wearing. And be seen with a copy of the book (or the cover art at least, if you're staying purely with NRP for the nonce) handy, but don't shove it in our faces. Just have it there, so it's unobtrusively available to look at when we get to the point in the conversation where we think, "This person is interesting. What does she write again?"

Bookmarks and/or business cards, definitely. Bookmarks I think make a stronger impression, and a more lasting one, since I'll probably USE it, rather than stick it in a pocket or inside my program and then try to remember to look at it again when I get home. Have a ready supply, and offer them cheerfully but without being pushy.

That's what I'd say about Cons, anyway. But, as Rowena said, Cons are probably an important-but-fairly-small part of the overall picture. Because a con has a very finite guest-population. And even at a HUGE con, you are a finite resource. You can only meaningfully and memorably interact with so many people in the sixty or so avaiable hours, no matter how hard you try and no matter how lucky you are along the way. It's a narrow-cast activity. So, especially at the end of the process where you and I both find ourselves, that time and energy is probably actually better invested in making industry and peer contacts, rather than rushing around trying to generate enough Brownian-motion-collisions with fen to spontaneously heat up our careers overnight. The way for us to broad-cast our nets for interactions with fen is to use the Nets, as Rowena said. So use the Con-contacts to cultivate associations with people who have platforms like MGC, with other outlets and other audiences.

Kate Paulk said...

This open thread is not ready for what I'm dealing with now - think hearts-and-flowers-sappy-"aw sweet" short stories. Eek.

On cons and going to them. I'm with Matapam. Eek. Even though I've done a few, still Eek. And hide under the desk.

Pam - one thing that does help, at least for me. Decide on a "Con face" and that - and ONLY that - is what's on show when you're not hiding in your hotel room. For me, that includes specific clothing, which doesn't get worn at any other time, full war paint (make-up), fancy hairstyle, and jewelry. I'm trying to be memorable in the "that crazy Australian woman" mold, not my normal fade into the background mode.

Stephen Simmons said...

Kate, we're ready for whatever you need to throw at us. Thass why we're here, ain't it? Hey, I'm in the middle of writing a short with one of YOUR heroes, fer Chrissake ... guy's trying to figure out how to commit regicide, an' he's the "good" guy!

I agree whole-heartedly with the "Con-face" concept. (Or "Con-cept" ...) Think of it as "branding", and working toward developing "brand-recognition". Which leads me to my next question. (And for my next trick ...) (Damn, the ADD is bad tonight ...)

This is actually probably more a question for Sarah, but I need to toss it out to the whole group. (Hence the "open thread" exposure.) I'm pondering the relative merits and drawbacks of multiple noms-de-plume. My most common and prolific style of writing, by far, is extremely humorous fantasy. In workshops at cons, after hearing samples of my work, panelists have mentioned such authors as Zelazny, Douglas Adams, and even (though I am quite sure this was an error on the panelist's part) Sir PTerry. But that's not ALL I write. I have some other work that would best be described as "moderately dark fantasy", and some SF that's a pretty far cry from Hitchhiker's Guide.

So, do I just put it all out there under one name, to maximaze the chances that people hear of me, and rely on people's ability to read the blubs on the back covers to steer them away from stuff they won't enjoy? Or develop multiple names, separate "brands", like Sarah, taking shorter lists for each name to keep from confusing people?

MataPam said...

Oh, Kate!

I hope you feel better tomorrow and get back to your blood thirsty best.

Unless it's a funny as Tarnished Knights, then stick to the flowers-and-puppies.

Con-face. Dress-for-pretending to be confident. Yeah. That's right. Hide out in the open. I remember how to do that.

Amanda Green said...

Pam, yes. That's the short answer. Well, yes to everything but hiding under the bed.

Amanda Green said...

twittertales, my best recommendation is to see what Dave, Chris and Rowena can tell you about Australian authors. Pick Kate's brain as well...just be careful. You never know what you'll find there if you dig too deeply ;-p

Amanda Green said...

Kate, we are always ready for what you have to offer. Even if it is -- eek -- hearts and flowers. (VBEG)

Your advice about a con persona is great and something I wish a lot of authors would consider. What folks have to remember about cons is that, as Sarah will confirm, you are always "on". This means from the moment you step out of your hotel room or -- if you aren't staying at the hotel -- the moment you step inside the hotel each day, you have to be "the author".

In other words, act professionally. Remember that you don't know every other author, agent or editor there. So be careful what you say, even if in the bathroom or restaurant, because you never know who might overhear. That agent you're bashing might not be standing within earshot but her best friend might.

I also like your idea of having a wardrobe that is specifically for cons. It's like putting on your armor for battle -- and yes, to me cons are battle, as you know.

Anonymous said...


Ooh, yes please. And I'll wait a little while (to avoid cross-posting) and ask the Canberra SpecFic Guild.

Brendan - thanks.

Amanda - thanks for the warning!

Louise Curtis

Dave Freer said...

Louise - I am less well up on Australian Steampunk than I should be (especially considering that my latest finished but resting book is strictly speaking steampunk, and somewhat Australian.) Vision is a great resource for this sort of thing. I'm still planning on trying to write a twittertale - as per your invitation sometime... in my copious spare time...

Dave Freer said...

Matapam - solicit endorsements/ cover copy from 'names'. As a very minor one, and having read the first few chapters of Lawyers of Mars, (I plan to buy it and finish it, was just waiting on money-in, before money-out) I would be prepared to do so - but you need to aim a lot higher.

See if you can get blog space on various authors blogs.

Organise a few promo gimmicks? Your horse reading Lawyers aloud and turning to a fellow nag, and saying 'I don't think I'll let her curry comb me. She's sick! Psuedofem indeed!'

Anonymous said...

Dave: I look forward to your book. At the moment it looks like you and I and James Roy have cornered the market on the Australian steampunk setting. Yay us.

Louise Curtis