Apr 16 2010

The Thing About Twitter

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Pursuant to my post from the other day, there’s an important difference between Twitter and blogging that isn’t immediately apparent until you’ve been at it a little bit. Blogs are like lectures with q&a afterwards … you tack up a message and it may or may not generate discussion.

Twitter, on the other hand, is like a cocktail party, where you get to choose who the other attendees are (and you get to invite as many celebrities as you want). Twitter is something you jump into, swim around in while you’re there, and jump back out again.

This is why the utilities that dump out your day’s worth of tweets to your journal fall flat on their face — there’s no context. It’s like listening to half of a phone conversation, and if you’ve ever been subjected to that, you know just how much fun it really is. (I grew up with it, and believe me, it’s slightly less fun than trying to sleep with a chirping cricket in the room.)

It’s also why, although I’m a pretty prolific twit, I don’t do the “Here are my collected tweets!” posts. I do have a small feed on my homepage as a teaser, and also to let people know my feed is there if they’re interested. But I don’t expect people to actually want to read through all of my previous tweets any more than I’d expect people to want to listen to MP3s of random sentences I say to people around me all day. Twitter’s a conversational medium, not a literary one.

-The Gneech

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Apr 13 2010

Invisible iPad!

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Gneech types away manically at his ... er ... invisible iPad.

Well, the keyboard came today, anyhow.

…Curse you, late April!

-The Gneech

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Apr 13 2010

Antisocial Media

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Based on Mike Stackpole’s recommendation I picked up an interesting little book by Gary Vaynerchuk about promotion (and other things) called Crush It!. I expect to write up a review of it in a day or two, but I will say I recommend it for anybody whose job involves a lot of tooting your own horn (like, say, writers). One of the things Crush It! recommends is creating a Facebook “fan page” alongside of your own personal “profile” page.

I admit, I’m still a little stumped as to the reasoning behind this setup, but I’m nothing if not adept at learning-as-I-go, so I went ahead and set up the fan page and invited a few folks to hop on board to get it started.

This, combined with a snarly LJ post from Vince (who is always cranky this time of year, poor guy) got me to thinking about how very intimate people’s relationships are with their social media of choice. Like the recent backlashey reaction to the iPad, there is a lot of very personal reaction to social media outlets. Vince hates Twitter with a passion, even though it’s just as happy to leave him alone. Other friends of mine are very proud of the fact that they’ll never, ever have a Facebook page and relish telling you all about it.

For myself, I’m a longtime LiveJournal devotee, although there are times when it’s a troubled relationship at best. As such, it does sorta pain me to see people flock from LJ to Facebook or wherever, or even just flock to Facebook after having ignored LJ for a decade. But the thing of it is, it’s not the platform I care about, not really — it’s the people on it. I’m a communicator and a storyteller, and there’s no point in talking to an empty room! So if people are on Facebook, I’ll post to Facebook. If people are tweeting all over, I’ll become a big ol’ twit! Or at least, more of one than I already was. My personal posts will stay on LJ, because that’s where I’m comfy … but there’s no reason for me to exclude my friends who happen to be on other platforms.

With the ready availability of plug-ins that alert everybody and their brother of a post no matter what the media, it’s particularly pointless to avoid a message stream. As soon as I hit “publish,” this post is going to show up on my website, my LJ, Twitter, and Facebook automatically. And I know for a fact I have readers on Facebook who aren’t on LJ, readers on Twitter who aren’t on Facebook … and few if any people subscribed to gneech.com’s RSS feed. But they all get the message.

That’s the key: connecting with the readers. Removing degrees of separation. If they want tweets instead of status updates, tweets they shall have! There’s just no good reason not to.

-The Gneech

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Apr 12 2010

Minding the Store

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A couple more changes here at gneech.com as things get settled in. First and most obvious, is the ad boxes. These are run through Project Wonderful, the same folks who serve up the ads for Suburban Jungle and NeverNever, and they do a fine job. The rates are nice and low until people start bidding on them, so get ’em while they’re hot! Get ’em while they’re ads! 😀

Second, although I didn’t want to have to resort to it, I added a Captcha function to the site comments, because I was spending more time wading through fake SPAM comments than I was actually posting stuff to the site. When somebody comments on a sword and sorcery tale, “These are great tips!” … yeah, I can pretty safely assume they’re a bot. Let me know how the Captcha works for you (or doesn’t) — I’m still running that as a trial to see how it performs.

-The Gneech

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Apr 10 2010

When Distribution = Promotion (The New Writer’s Dilemma)

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Mike Stackpole, who always has interesting things to say about Writing-As-Job, has another article on The Huffington Post today about the inevitable doom of Print Sales As We Know Them.

…once ebook sales hit 20-25% of book sales, print run numbers will fall to a point where the current consignment system for sales will break down. Under the current system, most books can be returned for credit, so for every book sold, two are printed. Those “returned” books have the covers torn off, and the guts discarded, so they cannot be put out into the market again. Ebook sales will create smaller print runs, driving up the unit cost, forcing higher prices which, in turn, will kill sales. Game over.

Note that he’s not predicting that books will go away — but that the publishing industry is going to have to make some serious changes to cope with the new reality of ebooks. Having already been through this story with comics -> webcomics, my view is that he’s absolutely right. Mr. Stackpole has long advocated that writers embrace electronic publishing as a means of controlling their own fate, and it’s true that with the ebook, it’s easier than it’s ever been.

However, there’s an important aspect of the writer/publisher relationship that self-publishing leaves as a big hole, to wit, getting your name out there to the public. While I have only myself as a poll sample, I know that I discover most of my new authors by browsing in a bookstore, and I suspect I’m not the only one. For somebody like Rowling or King, it may be that self-publishing is practically printing money from your computer. But what about somebody who’s more obscure, say a person who has a couple of mid-tier webcomics and a few decades-old RPG credits to his name? (Just to pick an unlikely profile at random.) If I were to jump right into the ebook arena, who would notice?

As much as writers chafe at their editorial overlords, publishers do provide something that a beginning writer can’t provide for themselves: a marketing machine. That a fledgling writer will get only the barest attention of that machine is undoubtedly true — but even that much is infinitely more than one can provide themselves when they work all day, write all night, and recover on the weekend. Fortunately, Mr. Stackpole is aware of the problem and provides some suggestions.

On the other hand, there’s one final aspect of the issue that ebooks simply cannot address, which is that part of “the dream” of being a writer is seeing one’s own work actually in a bookstore. For those of us who, despite the business’s sordidness, still love to go into a brick-and-mortar building stacked from floor to ceiling with books and long to see their own name enshrined on a tablet in that temple, ebooks will always be somewhat unsatisfying.

-The Gneech

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Apr 09 2010

New Section (Risk a Verse)

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I’ve created a new “Risk a Verse” section for the website, for those masochistic souls who’d like to read my various poems, filks, and such strangeness. A poem about jackalopes? It’s in there. Filk about D&D? It’s in there. Sword and sorcery microfiction in rhyming couplets? It’s in there! As of this morning it’s all reposts, but some are pretty old and thus probably new to most of my readers.

Enjoy. 🙂

-The Gneech

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