[irevuo] The Basics of Email Marketing for Indie Writers

Building a mailing list is literally the first marketing decision any author should make.

This is because the mailing list is the central element of every author’s marketing strategy. It is the one thing you own and will always be able to control.

[irevuo] Imitation: The Gateway to Inspiration

In 1650, Spanish painter Diego Velázquez was commissioned by Pope Innocent X to paint a portrait of his.

Three centuries later, another artist would attempt to recreate it. Despite never having seen this painting in person, the Irish artist Francis Bacon would repaint it, over and over again, completing a total of 50 paintings during the 1950s and 1960s.

During the summer of 1957, another famous artist, Pablo Picasso, was inspired by Velázquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas.

The first thing I wrote that actually got me quite a bit of exposure was a novella called “An Emperor’s Will.” I wrote it when I was 16 years old, and I won a National Literary Contest. And a lot of published writers read it and loved it. On an online workshop frequented by some of the best SF and Fantasy writers in Romania, it received mostly positive reviews.

The problem?

It was written…

[AoB] How to Use Mental Models to Become a Better Blogger

The vast majority of blogging advice out there is tactical in nature. It teaches you how to start a blog, how to write articles, how to network and engage others, how to distribute your content, how to promote your blog on social media.

However, there are two things there are wrong with tactical advice:

  1. They never, ever take you from point A to point Z. Like I always say, the basics don’t work anymore. So mastering the basics won’t ever help you reach the blogging stratosphere. In today’s blogging ecosystem, the basics might not even be enough to get you your first 1,000 readers.
  2. They will take you from point A to point B, but only if conditions are ideal. And, you’ve probably guessed it, with a system as complex as blogging, conditions are almost never perfect. Algorythms change, there’s a new blog being released every minute or so, and there’s a lot of money exchanging hands. At times, it looks like chaos.

What are you supposed to do then?

You develop a set of strategies that you can deploy, so you can turn chaos into opportunity.

[irevuo] The Basics of Designing a Book

In January 2011 I self-published my first novel:

Because I was dirt poor when I launched my first book, the project was a proper DIY. I had to learn book cover design, learn how to use the tools and apps, teach myself typography, interior formatting, and book formats.

Surprinsingly, the ecosystem, mainly the distribution channels we now use, hasn’t changed that much.

If you’re reading this tutorial, I’m guessing that you’re either a curious mind or in the process of producing a book yourself. You’re probably wondering how to turn a manuscript into an actual book.

My objective for this tutorial is to share as much knowledge about book design as possible with you, so that you have the tools to craft a beautiful book that’s ready for publication.

The first thing you will notice is that book design is at the intersection of several disciplines: a designer needs to take into account editorial, marketing and distribution decisions, and work with a variety of people to produce your book. They will turn what was an abstract project into a beautiful product by pulling all the pieces together.

Read or Write

I love books but I’ve read very little of late. You may be asking, “If you love books, why aren’t you reading them?” A fair question. I will address it in a roundabout manner.

There must be at least a hundred unread ones on my shelves and in various piles about my home. Both my parents loved to read so I have them to thank my deep affection for the written word. Books are, in my opinion, the perfect gift, both to give and receive. The heft, feel and smell of books are intoxicating. Especially, old books.

Used bookstores are rarer and rarer these days. I’m sure it’s due to the rising rents, and the advent of selling books online. In the interest of honesty, I buy books online. Though I miss the thrill of going into a used bookstore, inspecting the shelves, and finding a gem. On the other hand, it’s comforting to be able to find that one volume you were looking for with a bit of typing and clicking search.

Back when the world was… I was about to say normal but what the hell does that even mean? So let’s just say when we could venture outside unmasked and could sit close to each other. In those halcyon days when I went back and forth to my job, I would read on the subway. If I was going to travel anywhere, a book was the first thing I would pack. There was always a book or two in my bag. After all, what if you finished a book and had no other book to read? Unthinkable!

Nowadays I am in between jigs and am unlikely to take any long-distance voyages. With all this copious free time I must be reading nonstop. It is with chagrin I must tell you that I have not. There are two reasons why. Here’s the first.

Media. By which I mean TV and the internet. When you are told not to do something, you instantly want to do it. Such as going out and seeing people. If you’re sensible, you will listen to Doctor Anthony Fauci and mask up, and take all necessary precautions. That still leaves a missing element in your life.

So you watch the news and then when you can’t stand that anymore, you watch everything else. Maybe it’s the hot new show that just started streaming, so when you chat with your friend over Zoom or Discord, you don’t want to be behind the curve. Or maybe you go back to a show that gives you comfort. Consuming episode after episode like a bowl of salty deep-fried treats. BTW, all pre-pandemic shows are now science fiction/fantasy because the characters do fantastical things like go out to eat and hug. Crazy!

The other reason is I was writing. I recently finished a novel called the Arrondissement, you can read it on this site.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/arrondissement/

Am I a shameless self-promoter? Hell yes. If I’m not for me, who will be?

Back to the writing. I started it before the beginning of the pandemic and finished it before it ended. That might say more about the state of the world than my productivity. Nonetheless, I managed to complete a full-length novel, so that’s something.

I began this blog because I had written another novel, Chosen, which you also read on this blog.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/chosen-novel/

See, I told you I’m shameless! Once I put up the last chapter I continued to post every Monday. It is a self-imposed deadline that I have met for the last seven and half years. Sometimes it’s my thoughts on random topics, like why isn’t “Happy as a dog.” an expression? If you’ve owned a dog and come home you know what I mean.

In my past, I’ve spent long stretches without writing, all the while calling myself a writer. I had written so I think I’m in the clear. However, having to post something new every week has made me a better writer. Well, I certainly hope so.

Once, I friend of mine asked me and another writer friend, “How often do we think about what we’re writing?” The answer is “All the time.” I find that before I set pen to paper, or more accurately fingertips to keyboard, there is a lot of musing going on. Or wrestling with demons, depending on the day. Outwardly it looks like I’m just going to the store to get some supplies but inwardly, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

I believe that you cannot write if you do not love to read. Technically you can. I’m not sure it’ll be worth reading. All writers must, in my opinion, have a love of language. Talented writers can paint a picture and invoke deep emotional reactions with an expert application of their vocabulary. Every wordsmith has a voice, some are more pleasant to hear than others. Milage may vary of course.

You might be asking yourself, “Where the hell is he going with all this?” I remind you that I said this would be roundabout. While I used to read on average, a book a week, #humblebrag, my stats have dropped severely. This is not to say I’ve read nothing, just not nearly as much as I used to.

At the end of the day, part of my lack of reading is pure laziness on my part. Damn you golden age of streaming content! But I’ve found myself being more focused on my own writing than others. Which is not terrible for me, but it needs to be addressed by me.

For my birthday, it’s in December in case you missed it, I received a much-anticipated book. Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey, the latest installment in the Sandman Slim series. I’m a big fan of his work and this setting in particular. Did I read it the day I was gifted it? No. I’ve been holding on to it, saving it like an expensive bottle of single malt scotch. Partially because don’t want to inhale it like a bottom shelf whisky while on a bender. I want to savor it like the aforementioned single malt.

However, that is a bit of a lie. I’ve just not been reading as much and I’m the only one who can change that. I started it last night, as of writing this, and I’m enjoying it immensely. If you like hard-driving, rock and roll urban fantasy, check his stuff out. See, I can promote someone else’s work too.

I think if I want to be the best writer I can, I need to read more. Make time for it. I’m never disappointed and if I am, I’ve got plenty more read. Remember, hundreds of unread treasures to open up.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it inspires you to read more if your book count is low. Or maybe to write more. Both are excellent choices. Now back to Ballistic Kiss.

[AoB] Should You Go Hyperniche?

We now live in a world of constant information overload. Content creators are sharing millions and millions of articles, podcasts, social media posts, and videos every single month.

This, in turn, changes the dynamic of how we create content, how we distribute it, how we promote it, and even how we monetize our blogs.

The main issue? Broad topics lack focus, direction, and are becoming less and less appealing.

The most lucrative niches are overcrowded and ultra-competitive, and a general blog that tackles a main topic (or a multitude of topics) has little to no chance of standing out from the crowd.

[irevuo] Hello Rejection, My Old Friend

Whenever we submit a part of our soul that we translated into words, we do so armed with nothing but the hope that the person reading our work will understand it.

Sometimes they do. Most times they don’t.

Rejection scrapes the heart. But, well, there’s nothing to do about it. In fact, rejection is as much a part of being a writer as punching those damn keys. It’s as much a part of being a writer as the edits and the rewrites and the social media marketing.

[irevuo] Should You Self-Publish? These Questions Will Help You Decide

So, you have a finished manuscript, and now you’re ready to share it with as many readers as possible.

In order to do that, you must choose one of two paths: either self-publish your book yourself, or go the traditional route and try to find a publisher.

Deciding on which route to take means that you’ve got to figure out a couple of things about yourself first, about your book, and about your ability to effectively market (and enjoy the process) both yourself as an author and your book.

Now, let’s discuss the essential questions to ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if self-publishing your book is the best available option for you.

[AoB] Most Blogs Fail. Why?

At least once a year someone out there publishes a long article announcing the imminent demise of the blog. More bloggers than ever are giving up, content saturation is alienating a lot of readers, and the rise in popularity of different mediums will be the final nail in the coffin.

The truth?

It’s always been like this.

Out of all the bloggers I’ve networked with when I launched my first blog in 2012, only a dozen or so still publish regularly.

Out of all the bloggers that I’ve personally coached, only a dozen or so still publish regularly.

And out of all the people who decide to start a blog this year, only a small percentage of them will still publish new content regularly by the end of the year.

But why?

[irevuo] Self-Publishing Tips From an Old Interview With David Gaughran

Almost a decade ago I interviewed David Gaughran, a name that surely stands out from the crowd through the sheer plethora of self-publishing resources that he has made available for free on his blog.

While the full interview has been lost, I did manage to recover some interesting fragments, which can easily form the basis of a self-publishing framework even to this day.

So, without further ado, let’s go through this fantastic list of self-publishing tips.