Of Battles and Book-Sniffing – Where I’ll Be at FantasyCon!

Saturday morning at FantasyCon, I’ll be the one belting off the train at high speed and racing straight into the Conference Theatre for the ‘Fighting The Good Fight’ panel – the one where we talk about the battle tactics, the merits of cold steel, and how many Orcs one uber-Barbarian can really take down in a scrap. From the emails that have already been flying around, this promises to be a LOT of fun, and there may just be some propage…

At 2pm, you’ll fine me being rather more sensible, in Suite 2, and talking about book marketing. You know the stuff: social media, what works and what doesn’t, how much is too much and why you should never send a new follower a DM telling them to buy your book.

Or you can find me reading from Ecko Endgame at 4:40pm… plus ther are wicked rumours that Titan Books may have some advance copies, so be very very nice to Lydia, and she might let you sniff the pages.

The one place you won’t find me is behind the booksellers’ table. Because it’s not Forbidden Planet and they’re likely to ask me what in the ever loving fuck I think I’m doing monkeying with their till.

Find the rest of the gleefully awesome FantasyCon programme here!

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Same Old Shit

PageWhen do you reach the end of the Internet? In eight years on Social Media, I’ve watched it change – from friendship and sharing all over the world, to place where people have forgotten their manners. Not everybody, by all means, but enough to leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth. I’ve watched advertising saturate everything, all of it becoming more and more ‘targetted’ leaving less room for creativity and fun. In my earliest days on Twitter, everything was new and original – and I’m not sure if that’s because everything was new and original, or if it’s because I just hadn’t seen it before. Somewhere between the two, I suspect…

…but Social Media has make the world a smaller place, for better or for worse.

And this week, I think I’ve reached the edge of something that once seemed infinite. I’m seeing the same memes and jokes and cat videos turning up on FB and Pinterest time and time again. As Matt Dillon said, take the same meme, slap a Minion and a funny slogan on it, and hey! Clickbait win. And because Twitter is regulated and all about the numbers, and because FB and Pinterest now place the most popular posts, or the posts they think you’ll like best, at the top, I’m even seeing things I posted myself a couple of years ago – coming back to haunt me like last night’s curry.

livesAll the spontaneity has gone. Like the High Street being the same shops in every bloody town, like blockbuster films having the same plots and character archetypes, so the Interwebz has become the same jokes in every feed.

because it’s safe, I suppose, Guaranteed sales, guaranteed bums on seats, and guaranteed Likes.

I rather like that Instagram is the exception. While there are third party apps that will repost from your timeline, it’s not something that I often see. Sarah Langton comments that it’s immediately personal, and used by a lot of artists – who absolutely want original content and to keep their own content original. (Not sold by someone else for ninety grand, thank you). It’ a great showcase for their graphic design.

And it’s a great showcase for fun content. It’s always new. Okay, you might have to to face a lot of pictures of clouds and cats, but at least they’re different every time.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why it’s become so successful – it’s the only thing that seems to have escaped the common-denominator-saturation of everything else.

And thanks to Craig for the inspiration. I’ll never look at SOS the same way…

Facebook Author Pages

information_overload 2

What are they? What’re they for? If you’re a high profile figure – you’re one of the GRRMs or the JKRs for the world then fairy nuff, they’re a way to keep your public updated with book news, your page manager in chips and beer, and to save yourself a job when you’ve got important stuff to do. But what if you haven’t had a Theme Park named after you main character? What if you’re a normal mortal who happens to have written some books? All the ‘Author as Brand’ speechifying in the world doesn’t actually answer the question.

You know that your humble Author Page has been cruelly rogered by Facebooks’s algorithm changes. Now, only a few see it, and those few are probably your friends and family who (bless them) are now seeing everything twice. Plus, if you’ve Read your Social Media Handbook you’re now posting this crap on your blog, hoarding pictures on your Pinterest, and posting shit on Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, and Instagram (#authors #authorsofinstagram #books #writing #fucksake), and so on…

With so many channels of noise surrounding us, it’s very easy to saturate your own media – there’s a subtle art is knowing what to post on which stream, and how to differentiate the content so your trusty Uncle Bob isn’t seeing the same updates everywhere he looks…

But when you have the same platform/layout and potential content twice? How does that work?

I’m asking a lot of questions. And Social Media professional that I may be (tooting my own, sorry), I honestly don’t know the answer. I’ve decided, however, to just jump in and give it a go – focus on writing things, on current and new projects, and on doing… not ‘Author as Brand’ (I’ve seen that abused FAR too much) but ‘Author as Friend’, perhaps in the spirit of the old community that used to exist on LiveJournal. It may not work on the platform, I don’t know. People may not see the updates and lose interest, I don’t know. I may vanish up my own backside in a swirl of pretentiousness, or lose interest myself and go back to updating every other bloody site, I don’t know.

But I’m going to give it a try.

If you’re interested, you can find me on Facebook as Danie Ware.

Social Media, Clerics and a Very Large Gin – the Stuff I’m Doing At Cons

Large GinOkay, you know those ubiquitous blog posts where authors list all the stuff they’re doing at forthcoming Cons? This would be one of those.

But first, a quick apology.

If there *is* still anyone tentatively now brushing aside the cobwebs to see what’s lurking in this abandoned and distopian blog, it will be back soon, I promise. It’s partially a genuine lack of time, and partially an equally genuine lack of getting around to it. Procrastination, it seems, is directly proportional to weariness.

Anyway! As the disturbed dust tumbles from the long-forgotten ceiling, we brush it aside to see the wonders we had so long missed…

Tomorrow, Thursday 7th August, I will be at Nine Worlds Geekfest, and you can find me nailed by my knees to the Forbidden Planet trading table as usual (though I think it’s closer to the bar, this year). Feel free to bring savoury snackage and gin to Alex, Sarah, Craig and myself, as we wrangle both tills and authors into submission.

You can also find me on the Social Media panel on Sunday in County A at 11:45am, along with Tom Hunter, Adam Christopher, Sophie Calder and James Oswald, all of whom will tell you that you need to blog more than once every three months.

Next weekend, I will be at LonCon, again behind the Forbidden Planet table, but also at the following events: –

The Social Media panel (again), Friday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 10, this time alongside Wesley Chu, Julie Crisp, Max Gladstone, and Emma Newman

And on Saturday 13:30 – 15:00 in Capital Suite 8+11, I’ll be with
Django Wexler, Scott Lynch, Den Patrick and P. C. Hodgell, discussing the humble Cleric – and why exactly your party needs one. Or does it?

In between the two, on Wednesday 13th August, I will be joining a HUGE host of Titan Books and Angry Robot authors at the Summer Invasion of Forbidden Planet.

And honestly, by the end of all of this, I may well be in need of a cleric myself. 4d8 hit points back and make that a double with ice, please, Mother Superior.

 

 

The #Rabbit: Social Media and Enthusiasm

RabbitAfter a remark on Twitter this morning, this is a little conversation about enthusiasm and social media marketing. I call it, ‘The Rabbit’…

Person 1: I want to give your business a rabbit!
Person 2: A rabbit.
P1: Yes, a rabbit. It’ll be free – we’re not going to charge you for it – and it’ll be a fantastic social media win. Think about it, cute creature, it’ll go viral in fifteen minutes.
P2: You want to put a rabbit in my business.
P1: Yes, absolutely. In the window! It’ll have our logo shaved into its fur. It’s part of a nationwide promotion—
P2: A nationwide promotion of rabbits?
P1: Well, you know what they say! No, seriously, we’ll be encouraging people to take pictures of them and hashtag them #rabbit – it’ll be fantastic, we’ll be trending in no time. And we’d love you to be a part of it!
P2: Okay, okay, hashtagged rabbit, I get it. But I have a couple of questions.
P1: Go for it!
P2: I take it you’ve already sourced this rabbit?
P1: Yes, it’s a black one – we saw it and thought of you.
P2: Great, thanks. So – how are we going to feed it?
P1: Oh, that’s easy. You can just bung it some lettuce or something.
P2: And how about water? And cold? And who’s going to look after it?
P1: You must have an animal lover on your staff – they can take it home with them in the evening.
P2: On a London Tube? And if this poor thing’s in the window, then what about hay, and bedding, and rabbit poo? And who’s going to keep shaving the logo – your logo – back into its fur?
P1: Um…
P2: And then I really have to ask: if you’re nationally hashtagging this wee beastie #rabbit, and it’s bearing your company logo – then how does its presence benefit us specifically? How it does it make us stand out? I don’t mean to be corporate, or anything, but if I’m going to offer you essentially free advertising space, how does this #rabbit actually benefit my business?
P1: But – cute creature, on twitter, everyone will love it! They’ll take pictures! Be like that street bloke and his cat!
P2: Look, I get where you’re going – of course everyone loves a cute bunny, and there will inevitably be pictures. But it requires a lot of management, it carries your logo rather than ours, and it doesn’t differentiate my business, or make my brand stand out. And, forgive me, unless this rabbit’s pooing chocolate drops, it doesn’t give me something that I can actually sell.
Person 1: So – you’re saying no to a free rabbit? In your window? Twitter viral win?
P2: With the best will in the world, I’m not sure this one is going to work for us. Come back to me when you’ve got something in a #wampa. That’s right up our street, and that shit, I know we can move.

Social Media enthusiasm is great. But when you’re making a proposal, please think it through.

Education by Osmosis: The BERG cloud Little Printer

Little PrinterA while back, I was given a BERG cloud Baby Printer by the lovely people at Vitaminwater UK. Now, I thought this was pretty cool… but my son (nine) has decided that it’s the best toy in the WORLD.

Why?

Well: a quick and easy lesson in giving your child an education they don’t know they’re getting…

This BERG cloud printer links back to a social landing page/site that gives a choice of multiple mini-publications. It’s like having all the best puzzle and info pages of your favourite magazines, and being able to pick and choose all your own interests, all of them in bite-size pieces. From immediate business data to cat-of-the-day, you can streamline your printer’s output to suit to your needs exactly.

It has a social media link too – you can find Instagram and Flickr activity, or the top tweets of the day. It also links to printers owned by your friends, but this one hasn’t got that far yet (potential forthcoming discussion on event information, organisation and marketing, just for example, by use of the Printer network… but that’s one for later)!

At the moment, this wee beastie beside me here is linked up to offer sneaky snippets of education. At a given time, it’ll print out a fragment of Chinese etymology, or the constellations over our heads, or a few lines of poetry – there are some cats and some games in there as well. In short, every time the light comes on, my son – literally – comes running to press the button to see what the printer is going to show him.

IMG_1579He’s hoarding the printouts, as well.

Talk about a major win. I’m a big believer in children learning by osmosis, learning while having fun – and this little printer is doing a truly sterling job.

Quite apart from the social, communication and marketing potential, mentioned briefly above (check their site if you’d like to know more), the educational potential of this little thing is really very impressive.

More like it, please!

Nine Worlds

Ryan Saves Us from Boring BoozeNine Worlds – a whole new breed of beastie. Ambitious, as beasties go, and far-reaching – but could they really make all of this cool shit happen?

The short answer is yes – cool shit happened. Nine streams of activity, all wonderfully diverse, a new structure to the timing of panels, even a split site – it all worked to make Nine Worlds one of the most inclusive and eclectic conventions I’ve ever been to.

Even nailed by our knees to the trading table as we generally are, it was easy to see the difference. There was a much larger cross-section of people – the book con regulars were there, and so were the cosplayers, the steampunkers, the comics fans and the – yes, really – the Bronies.

LOTR LadiesThere were fanboys and girls from every walk of geekdom and there was a strong LGBT presence, as well – and all of this contributed to a wonderful feeling of freedom and self-expression. And after the dark flickerings of rumour that have been circulating about people’s behaviour at cons, it was very good to see everyone feeling so confident in their companions and surroundings – and modes of dress!

New Voices!Big success of the weekend was the New Voices Slam Session on Friday night – a gathering of nine new authors all reading for five minutes each. From an original idea by Stephanie Saulter, it had an energy and presence and there wasn’t a weak voice in the bunch. Thanks to Barry Nugent, Stephanie Salter, Rochita Leonen-Ruiz, Emma Newman, Adam Christopher, Liz de Jager, Lou Morgan, Jennifer Williams, and Hannah Eiseman-Reynard for sharing it!

Abe the Alien - you should have seen him on the dance floor! From an FP point of view, we had an excellent weekend, saw old friends and new faces, and will certainly be going back. Thank you to everybody who signed with us at our table, and everyone who called past to see us.

Well done to all – it’s good to see that sense of family return!

FP Signings!

Withdrawal!

Twenty-four hours without my iPhone…

…and the symptoms are starting. The shakes. The craving. The fidgets.

Oh all right, I’m exaggerating. But not by much.

Seriously, while the irrepressibly wondrous Stephen Fry may have placed the smartphone in unlucky 13th, I’ve had a whole sodding day without mine. It’s been like missing a sense, or a limb.

What’s been worst?

There’s the OCD – the inability to constantly check and update my Social Media net – Twitter, Facebook, G+, plus my email account.

There’s the Texting – I feel isolated without my friends; I miss having them in my pocket.

There are the Photos– particularly now there’s instagram (amazing how those filters make everything look so moody), I have to take pictures and upload them…

There’s the Location Checking – all those missed Fousquare check-ins!

All of this adds up: we know this theory. We have to share, dammit – though whether that’s the desire to communicate the wonder that’s our next cup of tea, or just our narcissistic need for validation, I’m not sure. Frankly, after more than four years, I’m buggered if I know the difference.

Okay sensible for a minute – is it just the SoMe (pun intended) fripperies? Maybe not.

I’m adrift without the map – Isaac and I got lost in Canary Wharf today (not a place to be a Scuffy) and I was absolutely flummoxed.

I’m equally adrift without my news feeds and information updates. My world has shrunk, and that makes me oddly uncomfortable.

I miss Evernote – my creative Memory Palace (though I’ve had a Moleskine with me today).

And lastly, there are the games and the educational apps – Planets and Molecules – that my son and I share. I’m convinced he learns by osmosis. (They also keep him quiet on trains).

A comment was left on my twitterfeed yesterday about smartphones making us ignore our children – the usual implication about lack of social skills blah blah. Yet I see it like this: someone else using a smartphone is antisocial. When you’re using your own, it’s a window. They make our world bigger – we see more – and so our social skills have simply adapted. A smartphone is like any tool, it’s how you use it that counts.

I may have phone OCD, but it’s for a reason. My phone has become my information and communication, my location and education, and I’m absolutely lost without it.

Though according to last night’s gadget list, if I want to amuse my son on a train, I should maybe give him a cigarette lighter.

Wait… what?