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Hooray!

So, I woke up to a fantastic email from Susan saying my latest piece had voice! That’s like Simon Cowell telling me, Yes, you CAN be an American Idol!

I’ll leave it at that for now because I need to get ready for work. Hooray!

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Word Of Mouth Or Bust

If I wasn’t already convinced of the power of word of mouth, the Veronica Mars movie proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. This cancelled TV show has been off the air for ten years. Since then, show creator Rob Thomas (The other Rob Thomas) has been working to get a movie made.

Kickstarter was his last ditch effort.

If he could prove to Warner Bros (The guys who own the show) that there was enough interest in a movie, they’d pay for marketing, distribution, etc. So, Wednesday morning the campaign was started with a two million dollar goal to make within thirty days. But, TEN YEARS. That’s a long time to forget about the show.

The goal was reached in ten hours and donations are still coming in.

All day Wednesday the internet was on fire with people spreading the word. All the major entertainment outlets, celebs and schmoes like me. Did I mention TEN YEARS off the air? And it hasn’t lived on like Firefly has in comics or conventions, but people still managed to find and get sucked into it’s awesome. So, when Rob Thomas asked the fans to help him make this movie, we heard. That’s all he had to do. Ask. His product was THAT good.

*Fun factoid: Joss Whedon loved the show so much, he had a guest spot in an episode. You can look up which one if you want, but I say it’s more fun to watch the show and be surprised when you see him.

So, I’m thinking about how awesome word of mouth is as I see promo after promo passing through my timeline. Free book this, slashed prices that, if you like this, surely you’ll like my book, and so on. At face value, it’s not horrible promo, but it’s pretty useless if the product sucks.

There’s also more and more workshops and social media experts popping up. And since getting started is just an internet connection away, most of the advice is either recycled from better sources or worse, just plain bad. I think it gets people focusing too much of their energy on the wrong thing.

When a comedian is working on his act, he doesn’t offer free drinks to get people to come see the same material. He keeps reworking his material until it’s funny enough that you’ll pay anything to see his act.

If a band wants more fans at their gigs, they’re not going to light themselves on fire. Well, some might, but they still have to play some awesome songs to get people to come back. Lighting yourself on fire is only fun the first few times.

And if I want to sell books, endless promo isn’t going to do it. Only more awesome books will.

Because people talk about awesome. They tell their friends about it. They don’t talk as much about promo.

That’s why I’m taking my time to get better. There is a little of If I Don’t Finish Anything, I Can’t Suck going on, but it’s mostly a feeling of not ready yet. Still hanging in the Meh Zone. And if I put out a book that doesn’t do well, I won’t blame the system because it hasn’t changed much since the beginning of time. Kind of like that Who song: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

The people are the boss. Always have been, always will. The way they use their powers might change, but it’s still all in their hands. And, yes, I’m sure there are ways to manipulate people into liking my stuff, but I don’t think those tactics last in the long run. I don’t think Star Wars was a manipulation. I don’t think J.K. Rowling pulled a fast one on me. Their products were just REALLY good and will stand the test of time. Because people still talk about them.

So, I’m putting all my eggs in word of mouth. And if the words coming out of people’s mouths isn’t what I want to hear, it’s back to the drawing board as many times as it takes until I figure it out.

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Some Explanations For Suck

Andrew’s log: Thursday. 11:25am.

Susan popped up on gchat last night and we started talking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead, which was THE best one of the season so far. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go to Netflix, Redbox, Amazon, wherever you have to go and start watching this show NOW. /plug

Later on, she asked how I was doing with the whole Writerly Discouragement Thing. I told her I was still discouraged because of a noticeable lack of improvement in my writing. The problem, as I saw it, was having a pretty good handle on story planning, but a serious weakness in putting those plans into words strangers would find entertaining.

She thought I might be in a plateau, which I sort of believed. Sort of because calling a writing slump a plateau can easily be an excuse for never getting better. “Yeah, I suck right now, but it’s just a temporary thing. I’m in a plateau. Any minute now, I’ll be AWESOME!” This is all going on in my head even though I know it’s not what Susan meant. One of the many fantastic qualities about her is that she says what she means. As a simple minded male, I need this or my brain melts. Simple biology.

So, I’m in a plateau. How? And why does it feel never-ending? Susan came up with a great video game analogy that answered my question, which shall be known as:

The Level-Up Plateau

At the beginning of a video game, the obstacles are easy, the foes are inept and you move through the game at a brisk pace. At some point, the obstacles take a little more thinking to overcome and a foe comes along whose got your number. He laughs in your face as you repeatedly try to conquer him and move on to the next level. And then, all of the sudden . . . you’ve got his number. You kick his ass without breaking a sweat and jump off the couch, controller in hand yelling at the TV screen, “Bitch, pleeze. You ain’t shit!” Just me?

That makes sense and doesn’t sound like I’m making an excuse because even though the win felt easy, it took a lot of failure to get there. Susan went on to say that my extended slump of non-improvement might be a sign of passing the easier levels.

Hmm . . . interesting.

We also talked about having a few crappy manuscripts under one’s belt before having something worthy. As of now, I’m up to two and a half and when I look back at those, the biggest problem was a lack of proper story structure. I know a lot more about structure now and writing with that in mind is a lot harder than writing the way I used to.

BUT . . .

At least I have a reason for my funk I can wrap my brain around that doesn’t sound like an excuse or a cop-out. It sounds like I’m on the right path. Sounds like it. I don’t know for sure if I’m on said path, but, with Susan’s help, I’ve got a pretty good plan to help me find out.

 

 

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This Is It . . . Ground Zero

I don’t know if I’ll ever find my writing voice. And if that’s true, it means I’m not cut out to be a published writer. It doesn’t matter how bad I want to be one or how hard I try at it. If the talent’s not in my DNA, then it’s not in there. And that’s . . . very disappointing.

I think the barometer for gauging talent goes something like this: if you love doing something, really love it, then it’s probably something you can be good at. I’m not much of a believer in that. To me, the love makes you try your hardest to get good, but in order to completely succeed, you need the ability in your DNA. Up until recently, I thought I had that. Now I’m not so sure.

A while back Susan and Kait broke it to me that my writing needed more work. They were a little worried I’d get discouraged by their advice, but that’s not what’s happening. This has been building in my subconscious for a while now I think.

The way Susan put it, my writing is pretty good, but it doesn’t read like I wrote it. It lacks the all important Voice. Which means my writing either won’t connect with the reader or after reading a full story by me, it’ll leave the reader with a meh kind of feeling. No lasting impression or worse, no desire to read any future work by me. If that’s all I can hope for, why bother publishing?

But if don’t try, how will you know for sure?

Not the time to be rational, Brain. Did you forget what we read yesterday?

Yesterday’s post on Kait’s blog was titled: What Makes You STOP Reading An Otherwise Good Book? Say what? Out of my head, Nolan. :shakes fist like a mustache twirling villain: Between what she wrote and the comments that followed, connecting with the story enough to care what happens next is way up on the criteria for keeping a reader interested. Couldn’t agree more. And . . . uh oh.

My wife’s been super supportive because she’s the reigning Best Wife Ever and doesn’t want me to give up. I’m not and I don’t see a day where I’d totally stop writing, but I’m seriously questioning my future as a published writer. That’s why I’m journaling. If this doesn’t help me find my Voice, it’s not getting found.

As a companion piece to this article, go read Susan’s latest: I, Antagonist, part 1: The Procrastination. It’s full of analytical goodness about procrastination, which I’m sure is playing its part in my current mood.

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Maybe The Universe is Speaking to Me Too

Hey, friends. Your old pal Andrew here. Of course.

Been awhile since I blogged. Haven’t had anything to say and when I did, no time to write it. Yesterday, my buddy Susan wrote about the Universe wanting her to journal. It’s something she’s talked to me about to help me be more comfortable with my writing. Great idea, but I never seem to have the time for it.

Well, yesterday I wrote one and it felt good to just blurt out my feelings. When I read it over, I thought it might make a good blog post, which lead to thinking maybe I should journal right here. Mocete Studios approved me within thirty seconds, so tomorrow I’ll start journaling. It definitely won’t be a daily journal, but I’m going to try super hard to at least make it a weekly one. We’ll see.