First Cup of Coffee – August 25, 2022

My thoughts on writing workshops, critique groups, taking critique, and other musing spurred by S.L. Huang’s excellent essay on Tor.com. Also a bit about the era of the Facebook birthday and monetizing relationships.




Transcript
00:01.71
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:13.45
jeffekennedy
Fabulous today is Thursday August Twenty fifth and I’m back home and another year older ah wiser hard to say. After a certain point. Do you continue to grow wiser? I don’t know ah during my brief very brief right? Podcast hiatus ah Zencaster changed their thing and now my image is reversed. I don’t know if it’ll be reversed for you all on video. It’s a little disconcerting. It’s just that the flowers are on different sides of me than they used to be um I was trying to figure out if I can change it but um, who knows.

01:04.99
jeffekennedy
So I had a lovely birthday time spent well with family mixture of business and Pleasure. We got um birthday stuff done and also took care of like financial things and stuff like that. So It was good. It was good trip. And I am home. Something’s rustling on the grape leaves.

01:32.88
jeffekennedy
Ah, bird. Um, yeah, so I’ll be here today and tomorrow and then tomorrow I go down to Albuquerque to Bubonicon if you are local to New Mexico which I know most most of you are not It’s a good convention. Sort of our local sff convention and I am going to be doing many many things I will be on a bunch of stuff I was cki I was talking about this before I left. But um, you know it used to be that I would post mice. Appearances and schedule at conferences online and now I’ve kind of it’s like well why because the people online who aren’t there can’t go see the things and the people who are going to the thing will see it when they’re there. So. I see other authors showing this on social media and I know I used to do it. But it’s um, it’s a puzzler I just keep getting around not to posting my stuff and maybe that’s an excuse. So um. And then after that I will be doing podcasts on Monday Tuesday and then Wednesday I fly to Chicago for worldcon – ChiCon – in Chicago did I mention Chicago at which I’m also doing many things I should.

03:03.57
jeffekennedy
Probably post my schedule for that just because worldcon’s so big. But anyway, um, yeah, so little behind on the book stuff not horribly actually I’m I’m on track I’m not where I want to be but. On track still to release September Twenty Ninth nice to see all those preorders coming in. Thank you. SHADOW WIZARD, Jadren and Selly. ah so let’s see so I have. Things to talk about and it’s one of those things where I make notes I want to talk about this when I come back. But then ah you know after the fact I’m not nearly so fired up about it. Um, but so 1 thing about birthdays in the modern era. Is the Facebook birthday right? So it’s a funny thing because this is really throwing me off that my image was reversed I really just shouldn’t look at myself I did get a new webcam. Ah, for my birthday from my wonderful aunt and I started to try to set it up but I can’t if I have the laptop open it defaults to my laptop camera instead of the one on the tripod and I’m sure I can change that somewhere.

04:35.35
jeffekennedy
And my settings Zencaster settings by can’t figure it out. Ah and I thought well I could just like use the webcam and not look at myself which might be a plus. So I’d stop obsessing and but then I wouldn’t be able to see that the image was right. So I may save the webcam for indoors. That’s all, um, probably never mind but that’s that was sort of my process. This morning is figuring out how I’m gonna handle all that. So anyway, Facebook birthdays. Um, and you know I should have my cane out so I could shake it you know because back before Facebook it wasn’t a thing right? You know you had keep track of people’s birthdays and like I don’t know send cards through the mail via pony express um, but now. And it was fun at first with Facebook because it would remind you of people’s birthdays and you’d be like oh cool tell people happy birthday and then the social media marketers got involved right? and so they tell people things like um, you know every. Time you post to somebody’s timeline is an opportunity to advertise your business and ah, it’s like who do I want to say this that sorts of profanities are welling up.

06:06.17
jeffekennedy
You know it it really cancels out the ah you know purported good wishes if somebody is using it as an opportunity to advertise their business so there is this one gal. Who I went to high school with and I don’t even think we were friends in high school which is the other phenomenon about Facebook right? is that there’s all these people that you are friends with on Facebook that you are never friends with in real life. So this girl is a real estate agent and she posts to my timeline with this square ad that has like a picture of her and a picture of her. You know, sister agent at at the business and. You know it’s like the realty company and and they say wishing you a happy birthday and it’s basically a fucking ad for their real estate company on my timeline dressed up as happy birthday wishes and so I deleted it and and you know what. I deleted that in the morning because I was online for my birthday which I’m not always, but you know hanging out my folks’ house because it was a Monday ah, my mom and I you know had ah to meet with her financial advisor via Zoom so we were online a lot.

07:35.25
jeffekennedy
And so I was just keeping up with the Facebook messages this year because I do appreciate all the the nice birthdays from the people who are just trying to advertise their business. So so. I deleted this fairly early in the morning because she posted it right off. Do you know what later that day like actually let me take it back Tuesday morning Tuesday morning I so was catch you know there all the people are like oh sorry I miss to birthday yesterday perfectly. Nice she posted that fucking thing again. Like the evening before and it’s I don’t know if she thought that she you know she went to check to see if it was on my timeline and she was like oh um, maybe it didn’t post or something but I deleted it a second time and then I went and looked at our friendship and our entire. Friendship and I’m putting air quotes around this for you not on video consisted of her posting her fucking real estate ads on my birthday and did I I didn’t unfriend her because we have other like high school friends in common. But yeah.

08:56.10
jeffekennedy
So You know and other people there. There’s only a few people who do this but you know if you’re gonna listen to the marketers think about what you’re doing to your human relationships. Ah actually. Do. We even have a human relationship I don’t I barely remember the scale I should go look her up in my yearbook because I don’t think we were like even I don’t think we ever had a relationship I should unfriend. Her shouldn’t I ah.

09:30.23
jeffekennedy
So I wanted to mention that um the you know monetizing every relationship right? Yeah, um, the other thing I wanted to talk about which I’ll probably put in the show notes billings. And will probably be the thing that most of you are actually here for and like sat through 10 minutes of my blathering to hear about but um, esel ho did an interesting essay on tor.com about clear own workshops and. Ah, science fiction and fantasy writing workshops and writing workshops in general and I wanted to talk about that a little little bit because there’s been a lot of people tweeting about it giving their experiences. Um, there was a lot of discussion of the Milford method and it. This was a really well done essay and it elicited a lot of ah good conversation and you know it’s writing workshops are fraught anyway and i. Hold on him. Um, okay so I I went to check. It’s S.L. Huang which I’m glad I checked ah because she is pretty emphatic about don’t pronounce it to rhyme with bang rhymes with wrong. So SL Huang she does not give um pronouns which is what I was looking for.

10:58.99
jeffekennedy
And ah, but she presents as female. So I’m gonna go with she/her apologies if I get that wrong anyway, um so she talks about the the background of. Science fiction and fantasy workshops and the Milford method and basically the milford method excuse me mosquitoes ah boils down to that people give critique and the author listens and gets an opportunity to say something at the end. And 1 of the criticisms of this technique that Huang brings up is that it’s um, it silences the author and that it can be a really brutal critique method and also how there were.

11:54.41
jeffekennedy
There’s sort of a dearth of other ways to teach and I’m getting a link to the essay because she does a great job of breaking it down much better than my brief summary broken summary here. Ah but 1 thing I did want to say is that. There is a reason for the author to listen without speaking um and I totally get the how it’s problematic I understand how what makes it difficult but something that happens a lot when you give author’s critique. A so. I want to say not even newbie authors I was starting to say that but um, authors even very experienced authors will do. This is that their first instinct is to begin to argue with you and it stops them from hearing what you’re trying to say or they try to explain. Um, and this is something that happens a lot. You know if I’m teaching writing workshops and so forth I’ll ask someone a question about their story I’ll say well you know think about why did the prince want to sacrifice himself and. Their first instinct will be to say oh well see the thing is is that the princess and and I have to say no no, no, don’t explain it to me because I don’t need to know explain it to the reader. What I’m saying is explain it in the work and so i.

13:23.35
jeffekennedy
So I think that there’s a lot of value in learning to hear critique of your work and absorb it without having to have an immediate response and something we talk about a whole lot in the industry is like when you get your. Edit letter back or what have you that you take 24 hours or more to absorb it and assimilate because our first reactions tend to be emotional and that’s um, you know which is usually you know like how dare you say my baby is ugly.

14:01.18
jeffekennedy
And believe me, we all go through this so it’s hard to hear criticism of your work and but so so so absorbing it in silence is a really good discipline to build and I am not. From a marginalized group. You know cis-het white girl here. So I I don’t know how it feels when um, it feels as if you’re being silenced so I realize that’s a fine line there but I did want to mention that about The. The benefits of simply listening um and you don’t have to you don’t have to yeah what are the words I want words what are words? Um, you don’t you don’t have to do what they say and I realize that this becomes an issue for people in marginalized groups too because. There’s that power imbalance and it’s very hard I think for all creators to learn that difference between hearing the critique and making the decision of what to do about it. But it’s good to hear it. It’s good to do your best to Listen. And take it in and then decide later whether or not, you’re gonna listen so all of that said my opinion on writing workshops I have done a few mostly ah through the University where I was at when I was working and.

15:39.89
jeffekennedy
Feel like I’m not going to have time to explain all this I may have to go along so okay, quick quick intro to to Jeffe’s history I was going to be a research scientist I was doing my PhD um I decided to cut bait get my masters because I didn’t actually want to be a research scientist and I decided that i. Wanted to be a writer. Um, it was big pivot I was 23 22 when this happened and so I did that I got my masters in neurophysiology I started taking I got a job as an editor writer to start building my writing chops. And I started taking night classes with the creative writing department and learning from these visiting writers. Usually it would be like these 5 nights a week seven to 10 pm for one week. There were other ones. But. I would do that sometimes they were semester long. But so I started learning directly from writers and it was actually an english department and then later they developed a creative writing program and I was able to do some great things I was awarded a. Fellowship to the Ucross foundation and went and did a two week retreat and that was amazing but I did not get a formal education and at one point the university where I was at they.

17:12.29
jeffekennedy
Did develop a creative writing program and they started a creative writing MFA and one of my professors suggested that I be in the first class and get an MFA now. At this point I had already been published I had already published. Um.

17:30.88
jeffekennedy
My essay collection was a university press and I published lots and lots of essays short stories and I thought oh cool. Yeah maybe I should get an MFA and so I looked into it and it was going to cost me like $40000 and and that was you know going to be right there in my hometown. I had a full time career job I had stepchildren I had a lot of stuff going on in my life and it was kind of as much as I could do to get the writing in and you know and she said well this would be a big boost for you if you have the Mfa and I was thinking. Well how why does it make a difference. Um, and I ultimately did not do it because I thought I already have 1 master’s degree and I don’t want to teach so why do I need an MFA when I’m already a published author and isn’t that my cred. Well. You know and it’s interesting because here I am now I am president of the science fiction and fantasy writers association and I have not done those um cred workshops I came up partly through romance because romance is what. Published my funky crossover of epic fantasy romance first. So I never went to Clarion I never went to Taos toolbox I didn’t go to ah Iowa writing circle or any of these things and I’ve been part of.

19:06.60
jeffekennedy
These courses where we had writing workshops where we workshopped work I’ve been part of several different critique groups and what I say it makes a difference. Yeah, everything is helpful. But. When people talk about and this is something that as heil huang mentions in her essay is that there is this and I had not heard of it before but it didn’t surprise me. That there’s there’s this rather famous rebound that after you do Clarion and workshop a lot of people don’t write for a year or 2 years and and Mary Robinette Kowal who you know is a friend and I think she’s very smart and I I adore her. But she did a Twitter thread saying well that’s because you’re absorbing everything you learned and it just takes time to assimilate that and and that was her experience and I believe that that’s how she felt but I also think that. People not writing for a couple of years after our workshop is an indication that something got broken and I don’t think necessarily in a positive way I quit one critique group because the critique felt so toxic to me and.

20:31.88
jeffekennedy
And when I give authors advice on this because I do do author coaching um I have a lot of conversation with authors and this is something that comes up a lot is they say well. How do I know this is looping back right. How do I know when to listen to the critique or when is it toxic and it’s hard. It’s really hard to know and the best answer I have is that you learn from experience. You have to you know you know, sit on it and then see if you agree with it. If um, if you’re hearing the same thing over and over that’s an indication that it’s something to pay attention to doesn’t mean you have to do it. Ah, especially if you’re a different kind of writer if you come from a different culture. A non-western non-white. And know non heteronormative culture. There’s gonna be differences for me. There were a lot of differences because I was writing this crossover I was writing this epic fantasy with romance in it and I would get people wanting me to take 1 side or the other out of it. Um. Men male fantasy writers science fiction writers that critique group I was in um, they would have to keep telling me that they were not my reader and and and they would kind of clear their throats self importantly, well I am not your reader but you know and they would acknowledge I was a great writer.

22:07.37
jeffekennedy
Great. Well, they would say I was a good writer. You know that it was a good story and they’d say but people have these very long exchanges is that typical for romance you know? and so all these little barbs right? They lodge into you and they can interfere with your creative process and 1 thing I talk about a whole lot is. Learning how to kick the other voices out of the room when you’re actually drafting and so I know this is a muddle I probably should have made this a much more um plant podcast. But so it goes maybe I’ll talk about this more tomorrow but it’s bothered me for a very long time. That um, that especially the science fiction and fantasy community seems to be very consumed with this cred about whether or not you have done these writing workshops. Ah when I was early on the board of SFWA and I was at. My first Nebula conference I think I was one of the other board members introduced me to someone who was working with Clarion and I don’t remember if it was east or west and I don’t remember who it was but we were doing cocktail party conversation and at this point I had probably published I don’t know. Ten fifteen books and but I wasn’t really well known in the science fiction fantasy community because a lot of those were on the romance side of publishing and she I said to her. Well you know I always thought it would be very fun to do something like Clarion and she said oh well, you know.

23:42.73
jeffekennedy
It’s never too late and and then she wandered off and my friend, the other Board member looked at me and he said she doesn’t really know who you are and I was like well you know and that’s all right, but there is this incestuous. And this is something that’s been talked about in other circles like I started out as a creative nonfiction writer and you know I would do like the literary festivals and all this kind of thing and I knew a lot of people who had come out of like Iowa writing circle. And it’s this deal where you go to Iowa writing circle there’s that faculty. Um, you have your fellow students that become your cohort and then you move up into the world of like choosing fellowships and editing and so forth. And they would choose other people from Iowa writing circle and so it becomes this loop where a certain kind of writing that is produced by a certain kind of writing workshop becomes established as this is good writing this is how we should be doing it. And then you have um, it perpetuates it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle and I think that that’s what happens in the science fiction and fantasy community too that the people who go to these workshops are taught this is how you write a correct story.

25:12.11
jeffekennedy
And then as they move into the gatekeeper positions. They reinforce that and say oh well, this is how you write a story and this is good kind and this is not a good kind because this would never fly in clarion workshop. Or for example, so as I promised I have gone on long. All of this has to be taken with a grain of salt because basically there are these self-reinforcing communities that are vetting each other and it there’s tremendous pressure I think um. And I I think I started to say this before and didn’t quite finish the thought but sometimes when I’m author coaching people will ask me should I do should I do Taos Toolbox should I do one of these other things and and I will say I don’t think you need it to learn how to write. Um, but it is good for the credit. It gets you into the community and which I feel like is that a good thing and I say this as someone who does not have the card right? so. On that thought I am going to go do my thing but thank you for sticking with me and my rambles this morning. Maybe I’ll be able to speak more more coherently about it tomorrow. Ah yeah, so um, hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and I will talk to you tomorrow.

26:46.83
jeffekennedy
You all take care bye-bye.

First Cup of Coffee – August 11, 2022

Thoughts on author events and how much heavy lifting is placed on them to bring a readership – and financial support! – to the event. Also, on self-publishing, common mistakes, and how things can go wrong.




Transcript
00:01.83
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious today is Thursday August eleventh and beautiful morning here in Santa Fe sunny sunny morning I’m also running a bit behind so it’s sunnier as than usual, we went for a walk this morning I also set up the cover reveal for shadow wizard. Yes, so this will be a book one. And renegades of magic and it’s um, Jadren and Selly’s story for those of you who have not been following along I didn’t light the mosquito candle this morning. So um, I’m doing the cover reveal on Instagram bit by bit. In fact, that reminds me I should have done another one but I haven’t yet I’ll do it as soon as the podcast is done. So um. So I had to get that all set up this morning. Got the preorders set up last night. It’ll be out september Twenty Ninth um fingers crossed I’m I’m past 50000 words on it I think it’s it’s going all right. Not sure how it’s going to end where it’s going to end. But um, that’s typical for me, right? All part of the I think it’s funny when authors say that that’s part of the fun for them that they ah the gardeners of the pantsersers. The ones who don’t pre-plot. Ah, say that the fund goes out of it for them if they do that and I’m like I don’t know I don’t know if it’s if I would call it fun but it’s it’s how it works for me sometimes as those of you who are a long time podcast listeners will know. It’s decidedly unfun for me now. So um, a few different things to talk about today I even have notes. So.

02:29.46
jeffekennedy
I’m trying to decide if I could talk about this one thing. Ah I’m kind of sorry I’m waffling let me pause all right I figured out a way I can talk about it. Ah recently I was asked to be. Part of a thing I mean that’s great. That’s I appreciate being asked to be part of things but then it came out ah I was asked I was actually not asked. This was part of the problem I was given instructions on how to share it on social media. And I was told that I must share it on social media in order to bring my platform bring my readers to this thing which I find very interesting and it’s not the first time this has happened and I may have talked about this before but. There are any number of events who ah I don’t want to say demand but they they sometimes they demand they ask an author to participate and then. Expect that the author will bring their readership with them to support the event which is if it’s like for charity or something like that understandable um, you know like that pixel project that was raising money to end violence against women. Yeah, sure I’m going to ask my readers to come and be part of that but there are other events where they’re totally depending on the authors to bring their readership in order to float their event. And this is partly what was amazing about Apollycon was Apollycon ah invited us to participate and they brought the readers I recently heard of another convention I think I talked about this but I’ll I’ll revisit it because I still find it so shocking. Another convention that has for a long time been famous for ah Nick and diming authors and demanding demanding. You know say more money and this particular story. It actually counts as a demand where an author who attended this paid. Upfront and it was a considerable amount that you had to pay up front to attend this convention. Um far more than the readers or attendees have to pay and then there’s all sorts of opportunities for sponsorships that cost more and more and more money and this author was pulled aside.

05:17.72
jeffekennedy
During the convention and told that she had not brought enough readers to the convention that her platform wasn’t big enough and therefore she needed to cough up a thousand dollars to sponsor something at the conference right? then and there and this author was devastated I mean. There are so many levels of awful and wrong about this this particular convention I’m not surprised that they did it I absolutely believe it happened the sources are impeccable. They might try to claim that there was a misunderstanding but the author in question was devastated. Ah, nobody first of all, nobody wants to hear that they’re supposed to cough up a thousand dollars especially if you’re a newer author and you can’t afford it ah and nobody wants to hear that that somebody thinks that you have like got. Shitty ability to bring readers to something.

06:21.16
jeffekennedy
Ah, so so it’s a thing um that this whole oh well, you need to bring your readership and in this particular case. Ah they were very specific supplied social media examples. And usually the right way to do this the right way to do this is people say um, hey here’s some graphics to share with love if you would share this on your social media boom they might give you some suggested stuff but you know you’re not required to do it. Um. Being told that I must do something that the event won’t be successful unless I do this thing is ah it gives me pause because as an author, especially if this is not a charitable event. Why am I doing this if. They don’t have the umph to bring their own readership to it. Ah you know I understand it’s hard. But yeah it um it it. It really bothered me it. It annoys me and. I talked to David about it and he said well you know can you imagine if somebody asked well he always uses big examples. He has an exalted idea of who I am but he’s like can you imagine if they asked Billy Givens to come play and then told him that oh but he needed to. Tweet certain things to make sure that enough people showed up for the event. Ah yeah, there’s just ways to do things and ways not to and um, you know one thing about social media and I know I say this often. Is even if you decide to schedule things or if you have people help you with it. Social media is about connecting personally right, it’s about doing things the way you do them. Ah and so you don’t I don’t do my social media like somebody else tells me to do it. Let’s let’s just say that’s a hard stop so that was something that was on my mind. Um, and then there’s been discussion. Um on Twitter and it’s interesting because I don’t follow enough on Twitter to. Always know the origins of things and I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of tracing back. So I’m not sure where all the conversation about gatekeepers has come from I know some of the things that I’ve been talking about in the last week about how much money authors do and don’t make on tread publishing so there was a.

09:11.70
jeffekennedy
Tweet thread from someone who said, um, talked about self-publishing and I will link to her Twitter thread. Ah, she’s gotten a lot of quote tweets and retweets and likes on it. Not an astonishing amount. But. Ah, she talked about her experience with self-publishing. Um, she said for her, it cost a lot and she earn very little and and I I think it’s great that she shared this. Um i’m. I’m glad that she ah you know gave the actual numbers and she says that the books were classified as new adult fantasy which is not really a thing in traditional publishing and they probably didn’t hit the right market in indie either because they weren’t sexy enough. Um, so I would kind of lie and then she goes on from there and she talks about how much money she spent. Um, she spent $5000 on the first book in its first six months which is a lot a lot to spend on a book when you’re. Ah, newbie self-publisher and I touched on this earlier this week where I mentioned that um if you don’t have a platform already. It’s hard to get started in self- publishing and and she did end up selling like the mythical. You know, average of one hundred and only to friends and family. But I think there are a lot of reasons for this and $5K is putting a whole lot of that money upfront into that first book without having the second one ready. Ah. And then the way that it sounded let’s see I won’t go into her whole thing. But.

11:17.90
jeffekennedy
Yeah, it took a long time for the second book to come out. She really invested a lot in trying to get that first book to happen which is just not how it works for self- publishing. Ah. She said when the second book launched she sold like 100 copies on the first day ultimately like one hundred and twenty nine copies of the first book and 112 of the second before she pulled them from the market and it’s not clear to me why she decided to pull them from the market. Ah. Once you have once you’ve invested once you have put them up. It doesn’t cost you anything to keep them up so it’s not clear to me why she decided to pull them. Ah, she does say at the end that you know her conclusion is um. There’s no easy way to publish. There’s no get rich quick path in this industry so that’s what she wants to warn people of and and that’s absolutely right? It’s a good take home message. She also says um, there are ways not to make the mistakes that she did. Ah, to make self-publishing a business and to succeed at it and I just wanted to talk a little bit about what I saw her doing she says um, $10000 she spent um, 2.5 years on these books. Selling two hundred and forty one copies of her books and netting something like $750 the transcript’s going to hate these numbers. It always hates numbers. Um, but 1 of the first things I notice I mean there are a number of things that didn’t go well. Ah especially if you are doing a series if you have both books ready. Maybe she didn’t but it’s really worthwhile to have that second book ready so that the people who do want to read can read right away once you have a readership they’ll wait if they’re still getting to know you they won’t wait. Especially if they’re not sure if you’ll finish the series and it’s a real thing if you’re an unknown quantity if there’s a you know destroy needs to be resolved with finishing the series or finishing the second or the you know second and third books. Ah, people want to know that it’s there before they commit because they’ve been burned before. Thank you George RR Martin um, the other thing that.

13:52.45
jeffekennedy
Is a real red flag at the beginning is when she said that it was new adult fantasy which isn’t really a thing in traditional publishing and I’ve mentioned this before self publishing is great for grabbing niche markets that. Traditional publishing won’t touch. This is so true it’s true for my books it’s true for a lot of fantasy romance. It’s true for a lot of science fiction fantasy and romance crossover. There’s not a great place for it on the bookshelf at the bookstores the brick and mortar stores. Because those are 2 different bookshelves right? So they don’t know which one to put it on if and as soon as they have to make a decision. They feel like it’s gonna be bad. They’re not happy if it’s young adult yeah, something just hit my face I don’t even know what that was ah. Felt like it was flung but there’s a little bit of a breeze. So maybe that was just liberated by the breeze a young adult has now become its own category and when people rant as I’ve seen various editors and agents do that young adult doesn’t count as a genre. Because you have all sorts of genres within young adult. Well, it’s true except that there are young adult shelves in the bookstore and once it’s a shelf then they know where to put it and it has a market in the brick and mortar stores. The online stores. Often reflect the brick and mortar stores they have more shelves and can put things in multiple places but still, there’s there’s some some correlation between the 2 so all of this is a long way of saying that if you want to publish your book that you love which. You know, bless you? Of course you do and you know do it? Definitely do it but know that if it’s a book. That’s not really a thing in traditional publishing. It’s going to make it harder for you to sell as a self-p publisher especially if you don’t already have a readership. Right? It’s um, it’s just it’s and and especially if you’re you know, not already a savvy marketer which not many of us are especially when we start right? So you, you’re stacking the odds against yourself. Why this gal pulled them from the market I don’t know and I almost want to ask her and I could follow the Twitter thread if any of you have the leisure follow the Twitter thread and see if somebody asks her or ask her yourselves. Ah there there isn’t a good reason to pull it.

16:41.44
jeffekennedy
And maybe she had one but otherwise the money is spent leave them up and maybe they will gradually gain a readership part of the problem with you know, spending money on advertising is. If. You advertise something. That’s not really a thing. How do you advertise it? What I’ve got and now it’s itchy on my face where that thing hit me wherever it was. You know if how are you going to advertise it if you don’t really know what it is and you’re. Not able to tell the readers what it is new adult fantasy um with and you know it’s that’s an a frequent I don’t want to say excuse but I hear authors say a lot like oh well, it didn’t do well because it didn’t have enough sex in it because. I didn’t want to I don’t know there. There’s always a little and I don’t know that she means this at all. She may not but there’s always a little bit of a sense of you know I wanted to maintain my standards and not put sex in that and therefore um because I didn’t kowtow to the. Ah. Sex loving masses. It didn’t do well maybe that’s not what she means by that. But there are plenty of books that do not have hot sex on them that do very well I’m reading one right now I’m waiting to see if there ends up being a sex scene in it. I’ve read a couple recently that um you know, slow burn romances don’t have any sex in the first book at all, you know, maybe there’s a promise of it later we we kind of know by authors. That’s part of having the reputation having the readership. But no, you don’t have to have it in there. Um. Yeah I’m I’m sorry that this went badly for her but she also spent 2.5 years on this. Um, that’s a long time to spend getting two books out in self-publishishing. It’s just it’s way too long and I know that not everybody has luxury of. Ah, time to spend on it and not everybody writes fast, but it’s just something to keep in mind. There were a lot of things stacked against her on this and you know it would be great if somebody would step in and help her out and say you know let’s put those books back up and let’s see if we can get them to go somewhere. The other thing is is if you are are a new author and you have not yet published anything. It’s hard to know if your books are good. Um, or you know good. You guys know that you all know that I don’t like the use of the word.

19:30.55
jeffekennedy
Good but you don’t know if the books will really grab people if you haven’t established a readership yet and it could be that those books should be trunk books I don’t know I haven’t read them. Not all books are gonna do well that’s just life. Um. There’s books of mind that you know, but the second novel I ever wrote I still love that novel. But if I’m gonna put it out there I’m gonna have to rewrite it because I I know a lot of the things that are wrong with it now and those are just things you learn with time. So. Just wanted to to talk about that. It’s it’s an unfortunate piece of self-p publishing that many many authors get into it because they decide to self-publish the book that they couldn’t sell the trat and. Certainly I’ve done that but I know at this point why it didn’t sell the tread. Ah you’ll have to know is it. Did it come close like was it really because they didn’t know what shelf to put it on. Or was it because everyone was like you know this book isn’t done cooking yet. It’s hard to listen to that feedback I saw meme the other day of somebody like showing like an author getting their ah feet criticism and like cutting up their heart on a plate and I it’s like well that’s probably. Probably you should um, have a little bit more objectivity than that. It’s not your heart. They’re cutting up. They’re talking about something you produced. But yeah, you got you got to listen to what kind of feedback are you getting on the book. Why why does traditional publishing not want it. And it’s not always because they’re messed up in the head which is tends to be the kool-aid on that note I am going to go get to work and write the book that I just put up the pre-order for ah, watch for the cover reveal. Taking shape today I think it’s kind of be kind of cool and preorder link in the show notes and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – July 25, 2022

I’m back from vacation, which gave me time with my head out of the book to think about some business stuff, so I’m sharing my New Plan for Social Media and promoting my backlist. Also: an RWA mystery!



 
Transcript
00:02.12
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. And my Hummingbird friend. Ah delicious. Today is Monday July twenty fifth I am back in the saddle at least temporarily. I am um refreshed from my vacation for the most part you all the joke about how you need a vacation to recover from your vacation but we had fun. It was lovely time. Enjoy it very much and um, it was good. Just to take a break from things but busy catching up as always and and I don’t know what all I have to say I didn’t make notes today. I’ve started using Tiktok a little bit I’ve been playing with it putting up little reels and a friend asked me if I was going to post a podcast to Tiktok and she said you know there’s mosquito buzzing around here. She said you know you can put up um up to 10 minutes now on Tiktok. She said are you thinking about doing that I’m like oh I’d have to confine the podcast at 10 minutes which I feel like I’d have to be succinct which let’s face it that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It might be good for me to be more succinct but I don’t know. It comes back to my whole um measurement of like when the podcast becomes more of a pain to do than than a pleasure. so um so yeah I paused you so you wouldn’t have to watch me kill the mosquito. In case, any of you are tenderhearted enough to worry about the mosquitoes mosquitoes are the one thing that I don’t mind whacking. So let’s see um this week will be kind of funny because I am.

02:28.79
jeffekennedy
Hear podcasting today and tomorrow. Um Wednesday I fly to DC for Apollycon very interested to see how Apollycon goes I’m excited to see my friends that it’s starting to hit me that I’m going to see these people I haven’t seen. Since um, three years or before a lot of them. It was ah RWA convention in July 2019 I saw a funny thing David found this kind of bizarre movie from 1990 on Paramount plus called. The um, the boyfriend, the boyfriend something I think if you look for the boyfriend. You’ll find it um boyfriend test boyfriend experiment something like that. Um with Shelley long and Steve Gutenberg and ah oh Erin um she was in a lot of those late eighty s movies hang on – The Boyfriend School and it’s Jamie Gerrtz who was in Sixteen candles and the lost boys. Ah, so ah, what was funny is so the movie was originally released back then back in 1990 as Don’t Tell Her It’s Me and I’m sure I don’t think I ever saw it. Ah. It’s from the book called The Boyfriend School which apparently that title tested badly. But then when they re-released on Dvd they went ahead and went with that because apparently don’t tell her. It’s me was an even worse title which I think the boyfriend school is good title. Anyway, this movie got so panned so panned and um, we’re finding it funny ah I don’t know why people hated this movie so much but the interesting part I promise there is an interesting part see this is why I couldn’t do this in 10 minutes right admittedly might be a good idea. Just not going to happen. Ah Shelly long plays a romance author and while there are a few cringe worthy lines here and there for the most part. It’s ah, a solid defense of being a romance author. Ah, Jamie Gertz comes in as a journalist making disparaging comments ah about at this conference that says romance writers of America and it’s all of this There’s the banner that says romance writers of America.

05:11.24
jeffekennedy
And on one of the author table there tables there. There’s the Harlequin brand so I feel like the movie makers must have gotten permission to use this stuff but there’s nothing in the trivia I’m I’m going to have to do some research and find out was this an actual Rw a conference that this movie. Ah, filmed this scene at there are things that seem not Rw a that seem more like RT, but it could be that rwwe was like this in the late 80 s you know if the film came out in 1990 it could have been one of those conventions in the late eighty s. And maybe they were like that because they had like a male model walking around basically wearing a thong. Um, that was our tea but not Rw so I’m going to hit up some of my um older Rw a ladies and see what they say. Yeah I want to know what they think and then if if I find out that it was this may be what finally catapults me into logging into I am db and creating an identity just so I can upload that trivia and then I might have to go in and like. Counter some of these horrible reviews I think people trashed it largely because of the romance. Um I mean there’s I mean it’s not a brilliant movie but it’s certainly far better than than many and it has a promising romance. We didn’t finish watching but um. I mean just did to see how it goes but it’s funny seeing the ah r wa stuff in there. Oh and and Jamie Gertz comes in talking to Shelley long and doesn’t realize that Shelley long is interviewing her as a potential ah love interest for her brother Steve Gutenberg who is recovering from. Treatments for Hodgkin’s disease was always bald and puffy I think apparently this is this is sort of like how time moves. Ah I did read in the trivia that at the time Steve Gutenberg had played entirely suavet roles up until then. I like in 3 men and a baby and um I don’t remember what all, but and that this was the first time that he you know here, he’s being bold and puffy and kind of um, a recluse and unhappy and it’s funny because. I do not think of Steve Gutenberg as a suave guy. Um and I think that’s because later he leaned more into being pitiful loser guy.

07:52.66
jeffekennedy
So perhaps I’m more willing to accept that than audiences were at the time there was I also saw when I was trying to look up who that little girl is who plays Shelley Long’s daughter who’s like 3 ah. And actually does kind of a brilliant job of it. She’s this very solemn little girl who were apparently a pair of twins but um, ah, let’s see what led me down that path I was trying to remember when I was looking it up. Oh. I found like this l a times review of the movie that mentioned this little girl’s name Susan Lund I think she must have been. Someone’s daughter you know well of course she’s someone’s daughter. But. Not a professional actress I think this was the only thing she ever did and it was like you know like the costume designer’s daughter that kind of thing so the um but this scathing scathing review written by a woman which I’ve always feel like is telling um. Really slammed the romance aspects but then she also said um that they failed to take advantage of the beautiful Charleston location and I thought really that’s a criticism of the movie that they didn’t choose to show the. Pretty Charleston south carolina stuff but instead chose some of the more rural landscape anyway, I didn’t mean see this is why we can’t do 10 minutes of this because I just spent almost 10 minutes talking about this movie. Anyway, we’ll see if we if I can upload this to Instagram I’m I haven’t tried obviously in a week so I was giving you my schedule going to Apollycon Wednesday. Um, Thursday Friday maybe I’ll do some podcast interviews. Maybe not. It. It’ll be potluck. Maybe you’ll get lucky maybe having a podcast interview with somebody will be unlucky. You never know. Ah, um, and then I come back on Sunday and next Monday I have um, and dum dum dum jury duty magistrate court. They think it’ll only take one day but they summoned me at the beginning of summer and I’d said well I have travel and they came back which I thought was interesting and asked for.

10:31.46
jeffekennedy
Um, documentation of my travel dates like hotel stays and plane tickets and they had a nice um interface on the website where I could upload. Those documents so I sent them. You know here’s my travel schedule here’s my plane tickets and hotel stays and so then I got a notice that I have to appear on August first and I was like you all are correct I will be in town. So it’ll be interesting I’ve been called for jury duty before never in New Mexico but I’ve never served I always get dismissed. Ah I’m apparently not an ideal jury member probably because I think it would be interesting to do so um. You know, like no cell phones nothing like that. So I won’t be out of contact next monday try not to set the world on fire without me people. Um, and after that it should be a fairly normal ish schedule for a little while. Hoping to get back into making progress on shadow wizard I’ve been looking at the covers going through the cover iterations with my fabulous cover artist Robin and Suku I’ll just love this cover. Um, just love. Discover the the model she found for Jadren is um, it’s perfect. So so it was interesting I wrote on Monday and then I just decided I was kind of pondering it I think on. The podcast last week but um I just decide to take the rest of the week off writing I decided it would be more stressful than anything trying to get my word count in and it would have been so I did do some. Um, pondering on the drive thinking about just some business e things and so while I was there I did work on some business-y things I researched a couple of things. And one thing I’m going to do and this this feels like a big transition for me a milestone for me I realized that it is not for other people. But for me, it’s kind of a big deal.

13:15.22
jeffekennedy
Not many people know this. But I’m kind of a big deal. Love that line. Thank you Jim Sorenson for pointing it out to me from cheers. So I’m going to I think use SmarterQueue ah. SmarterQueue as in making a line ah to schedule social media posts and this is a transition for me because I have never used a scheduler I have um, always believed that social media should be. Authentic and in the moment and that I should engage directly hence this podcast.

14:06.34
jeffekennedy
Um, and I did like the I give scheduling. Um I’ve always thought that social media should not be like a billboard but I’m feeling like things have changed that there are. Aspects of all of the social media platforms that are like billboards that there’s room for both and I really need to get into promoting my backlist more Um, and so smarter queue will apparently allow me to. Ah, schedule on all the social media platforms and I can just put up evergreen posts to promote the backlist. Um and and that’s what I’m going to do so that that step’s just always out there because what I’m finding is. That my whole thing about posting in the moment and so forth that it creates this. Um sorry I just had an idea of something I want to do on Instagram but because i. I do the podcast in the morning I exercise do the podcast get this uploaded try not to look at social media as I upload it. Ah, don’t look at email write get my words in while my brain is still fresh. Then I come out and. Deal with email social media sif web business business of life. Ah that that is when I would like do other kinds of social media posting problems with this are it’s not necessarily the ideal time to post um and. I’m not necessarily full of bouncy social media energy at the end of the day and I was talking with I consulted a few other people that was part of what I was doing when I was you know like downtime at the resort when everybody else was sleeping off being in the casino all night um I got on some of my. Author groups and stuff and just ask people what they use and and and it’s a thing because people were like yeah you know end of the day I’m just not social media friendly and you know the world has changed It’s amazing to think about how how long it’s been. Um, we were talking about someone who I’m trying to think of how to phrase this we were talking about this gal and I said you know that person’s um, someone to keep an eye on because.

16:56.80
jeffekennedy
They had a big social media meltdown and I went to look up the links on it and it was 2009 2009 so thirteen years ago and so so so I added to it I said here’s what’s happened here’s what the person. You know, got into and I said um and it’s entirely possible that my memory is way too long. Um, because wow, but you know that is one of those things is that people don’t forget and I said I don’t believe that. People should be held accountable forever for a mistake like that. Ah, but this person did not handle the social media meltdown. Well um, threatening to call the Fbi on readers who had given their books bad reviews. You know it was like a little on the emotionally wonky side and I said you know it could be It was a bad time. A one time thing but just keep an eye on this person and you know it’s It’s been my hope my point and I do have one is that it has been a long time. Ah, you know when we first started using social media a lot I think I got on Twitter in 2009 um, Facebook might have been like 2007 and it was mostly promote my blog. So I think you know that is the thing is that we have to continue to roll with the times and um, so that’s going to be a big thing that I’m going to do. It’s smarter q you have to pay for but I’ve been thinking out paying for a publicist and instead I’m going to pay for this and I’m also going to set up. A blog tour for shadow wizard. Um, so that’ll be interesting. Oh and other news is rogue’s possession releases tomorrow. So how how could I forget. So so yeah, um, release day tomorrow and exciting changes for some of these business things I’m I’m excited to to implement these particular tools and see how this works for me. Um, one thing that’s going to have to happen with that smarter cue is it’s gonna there’s gonna be some ramp up right? I’m going to have to spend some time getting all of that stuff queed up as it were ah but otherwise I’m hoping to get.

19:47.00
jeffekennedy
I hope to get a full writing week this week I hope that’s not unreasonable. Um I’m glad I didn’t write last week now I need to get my head back in the book. Um I don’t leave to Wednesday afternoon so fingers crossed I should have three good writing days and then. Um, a polykon stuff doesn’t start till Thursday night. So I should have good writing time Thursday morning and then also um Friday morning I don’t have anything until that afternoon. So thinking good thoughts that I’m not distracted by other stuff should. Should work out so um, regardless I will be here in the garden tomorrow morning and it’s ah it’s nice to talk to you all again? Um I would say I missed you but it’s kind of weird because I don’t hear I mean I guess I get your comments and stuff. So. But yeah, it’s nice to be back on the podcast nice to be back in my garden if only for a few days and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye-bye.

When You’re Caught in Author Drama: 3 Steps for Extracting Yourself

Monsoon rains in New Mexico bring green green green!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week concerns Author Drama. We’re asking specifically if we think it’s idiocy or a PR campaign.

So far the opinions this week have run to proclaiming it unwise at best and idiocy at the baseline. I don’t disagree. I’m not much for drama in any aspect of my life, so I go to lengths to avoid it. Those of you who’ve followed me for a long time know I’m all about balance, that – as a practicing Taoist – I’m forever seeking the middle path and a place of equanimity.

That said, sometimes the drama finds you.

As with all of life, we are walking a fine line with author promotion. We put our books out there, and we put our SELVES out there, because the author is the brand that readers follow. When we post photos of our lives, our likes, our pithy observations, and so forth, we are doing it because we WANT attention, right? If nothing else, we’ve been trained by social media to court those clicks and likes and followers, in the hopes that they translate to book sales and readers.

But we only want positive attention! you might say. Well, yes. Still, there’s always the chance that a bid for attention can go too far and tip over into negative attention. These things aren’t always controllable. When I see the latest kerfuffle and readers lining up on sides, it’s easy for me to sit back and feel smug that they’re not yelling about ME. I also have to be honest about myself and realize that they’re not talking about me either. It’s easy to declaim drama when you’re not noticed at all.

What’ most important to remember is: most authors who find themselves mid-drama did not intend to incite that level of reaction. What’s happened is they handled it badly. They don’t have the professionalism, the emotional maturity, the support network, the sheer ability to control themselves, to back away.

That’s what it takes. The common wisdom holds, should you find yourself propelled into drama:

1) Step away

No matter what anyone says, you are not required to respond immediately. It’s almost always better if you don’t  respond until things have cooled. This includes not looking at what people are saying.

2) Apologize

Don’t entrench. Don’t argue. Don’t try to convince everyone that you really are a Good Person™. If you don’t know how to craft a good apology (which admits being wrong, makes no excuses, and includes real resolve to change), get help with it.

3) Don’t fan the flames

Resist the urge to respond further. Stick to your statement and apology. Don’t succumb to the lure of attention by stoking it just a little more. Actually do the work to correct what you did to upset people.

What happens with some Author Drama cases is that the person in question becomes so enticed by the attention that it all feels good. In extreme cases, it becomes their brand. It’s a choice, but not always one that serves the books and the storytelling.

First Cup of Coffee – September 29, 2021

I go long today talking mostly to the authors out there about buying ads, marketing, and promo – and why putting time, money and attention into writing instead will not only make you happier but more successful in the long run.



Social Media, Politics, and the New Etiquette

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “Social Media and politics: Should you speak your mind or keep your tongue?” Come on over for my Brief History of Social Media and my (strong and authentic) opinion.