Archive for October 2011
Armageddon was fantastic. For those of you who like to get up close to the stars of your favourite shows and like to listen to them speak it’s a wonderful opportunity. The price is quite reasonable at less than $30 for one day and about $36 for two days, once you’re in you’ve then got the choice of spending or not spending.
Autographs and official photos with the stars cost money and it’s quite easy to spend a couple of hundred dollars just getting these, then there’s all the merchandise and again, it’s quite possible to spend lots of moolah at these stalls. I know people who go in there knowing they’re likely to spend $400 over the weekend.
Then there’s the talks and panels. The stars are scheduled to get up on stage and talk, they answer questions and deal with hecklers, even when those hecklers are Daleks, apparently a couple of Daleks appeared on stage when Louise Jameson and Sylvester McCoy were on stage. They’re apparently quite entertaining and Nicholas Brendon did the Snoopy dance during one of his as reported by a friend. For some reason I missed all the talks, not quite sure why, if I go next year I’ll be certain to do some.
One of the delights of attending Armageddon is the costumes. So many people let out their inner self and dress up, spending an enormous amount of time and/or money to make their costumes look just like the one in the book/movie/series. I do have some amazing photos which I’ll share tomorrow, one isn’t mine and I’ll have to ask permission, the story will come with the photo. If you have young children who love dressing up in their Batman or Superman costume then this is the place to be as they’ll fade into the background, there are so many costumes people will think they’re normal.
All-in-all it’s a fun weekend out.
I don’t get professional sport, I really don’t. I don’t understand why people get so worked up by it and so excited it by it, spend so much money on the players, on tickets for the games and on the merchandise. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia all my life and am quite turned off my Australian Rules Football, people ask me how I can be Australian and not like Football, that’s their problem.
I’ve been reading a lot about the Haka recently and it’s relevance or not to Rugby. For me, the Haka is the only good thing about the game, not good enough for me to figure out when it’s on and watch it though. I will be making an effort to see some traditional Maori dance/chants/whatever-it’s-called while in New Zealand as it’s really important for me and it’s much better to see it up close.
Why am I writing about it? Not because I have any books on the subject, but I could work Ngaio Marsh or Janet Frame into the post as I have some Ngaio Marsh books for sale and have written about Janet Frame before, I could somehow work Murray Ball or John Clarke surreptitiously into the conversation. It’s not about any of those awesome authors. When I started writing it was going to be a rant about sport in general and the Haka, but somehow that petered out and now I’m not sure what it’s about. I still don’t get sport, I’m not all that enthusiastic about the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, although the synchronised swimming is really clever and the gymnastics quite well done but I don’t take the time to tune in and watch them any more as I’m not that excited by them.
Enough of my ranting and not mentioning NZ authors such as Tony Martin.
The Olive Harvest is the sequel to The Olive Farm and The Olive Season, it’s a year in Drinkwater’s life, a very hard year during which she and her husband have a car accident and the olives don’t grow well. Drinkwater is probably best known in this region for being the first person to portray Helen Herriot in the television series All Creatures Great and Small. She did a wonderful job and for this reason alone I had to read her book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style. She has a laidback style while giving all the information you need and more. It’s a challenging year for her, after the accident her husband becomes very distant to the point of moving to Paris severing as much contact with her as he can but she keeps trying, sometimes sending produce from the farm and sometimes sending notes. The farm is in Provence, her family remained in England so she dealt with all her problems with the aid of the Arabic Monsieur Quashia, some new friends who told her off for not asking for help and her improving French.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The writing is just perfect. Drinkwater has this ability to describe each scene and make me feel as if I’m there watching her. She talks about her love of animals, constantly demonstrating this by caring for birds and animals who have been injured and doing her best to avoid having the wild boars, who are causing much damage to her farm, killed but in the end lets the swimming pool clean organise the kill. She manages to convey her negative emotions of the situation while describing the whole event so that we can see it in our mind’s eye.
During this time she is endeavouring to have her olives accredited so she can sell the oil, it’s challenging to get past bureaucracy and her French husband normally handles that side of things but she is forced to do it herself when he goes to Paris. Drinkwater does end up having bees on the property and that is a delight to read about, she describes the problems of transporting the bees even telling us how much the hives weigh.
I can’t tell you much more succinctly, you have to read this book. I’m not normally so forceful with books but this is one of those books everyone should read. There may be swear words but I’ve forgotten.
When a book listing on any site, whether it be eBay, Amazon or any other site, states it’s a first edition don’t accept that without a bit of research. Sometimes it’s the first edition in a particular country but it was published somewhere else some years earlier.
Take this example on ABE Books. It’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. I’ve selected first editions only so can only see those listings that have the words ‘first edition’ or ’1st’ or even just the number ’1′ in them. There seems to be quite a large range of dates. Bear in mind the book was originally published in 1950. You can see “first editions” published in 1997, 2005, 2000 and a whole range of other dates.
I use a couple of different sites for research to check the publishing date of books. Wikipedia, Fantastic Fiction, fan websites or the author’s own website are always good to look at (and waste time), make Google your friend and you’ll be amazed at what you turn up. I generally go to Fantastic Fiction first but that’s problematic as I’ve sometimes noticed they’re missing some of the books by a particular author. The author’s own website doesn’t always have publishing details but are generally very interesting.
Why does it matter?
That depends on why you’re buying it. If you’re planning on being a dedicated collector then you’ll want a real first edition and not one that is the first by this particular publisher. Unless you want to collect one copy published by each publisher in which case I wish you luck as that’s a lot of books. If you only want a reading copy then look at whatever criteria you choose, the seller, the colour of the cover, the publisher, the price or just the day of the week.
Why do they state first edition when it isn’t?
That’s harder to answer. I do have a couple of guesses. I have seen ‘first edition’ printed on a number of books when they’ve been published elsewhere previously. Sometimes the seller is just taking the information from the book without checking it up. Other times I’m guessing they’re fudging the details in order to get a sale. This is one of the times when it’s problematic to buy books online instead of in a physical bookshop. If you want first editions of Ladybird Books then you’d better do an enormous amount of research as they printed ‘First Edition’ on many different publishings of the same title, you need a lot of clues in order to be certain the book you’re looking at is really a first edition and I’m no expert in the field of Ladybird Books.
You can return books online
If you’re specifically buying the book because it’s a first edition and you find out when it arrives that it isn’t then you should contact the seller and have dialogue with them about it. If they’ve straight out lied then you should be able to return it and get a refund, if you haven’t done your research properly then I suggest you live with the result and learn for next time.
One of the topics at the Problogger event on Friday was about writing ebooks. Here are some of the thoughts they gave us with a few of mine dotted around just to help me remember.
Start off with an outline, a sketch of what is meant to be and then fill in the gaps. Just like doing an essay, plan it with your skeleton first. Then stop and look at the outline to see if it makes sense. If you look at a traditional essay outline with an introduction, your dot points and then your conclusion you can’t go wrong.
Stop and think about your audience. What are they like, what is their knowledge and what are their skills? Try to aim the content and the writing style to your audience so you don’t patronise them and don’t give them too little information. The same could be said of this post, or any piece of writing. Can I panic now?
Pace your writing
Pace yourself, make sure you have appropriate length chapters and have consistent content and writing throughout. Don’t have a really lengthy first chapter and then reduce the size of the chapters as you go along, make sure you write the same amount in each chapter, you don’t want to lose your audience.
Know your topic
Don’t gloss over the writing when you don’t know enough about your topic. Research and add in the information. Give them the information in the way they need it, if it needs graphs or photos then put them in. If you need lots of white space to make something really important stand out then don’t be afraid to use it.
How will it look?
Plan how you want it to be displayed. Will it be viewed on an iPad or a widescreen monitor? The displays are very different and you’ll need to plan accordingly. Make sure the screenshots are a good resolution. Use whitespace, colour blocks, photos carefully to ensure your information is highlighted and not overwhelmed. Use no more than five or six colours throughout the book, use fonts sparingly choosing one family of fonts only and sticking to that rather than using lots of different fonts and making it look like a mish mash. You want elegance and style to combine with information.
When it comes to marketing sell to yourself rather than your readers. Write your marketing information as if you’re the buyer, if you’ll buy it then so will others. You’re inferring knowledge, make sure you join the dots as to why they should buy that book from you. Don’t dilute the sales funnel with distractions, make sure to keep your twitter feed, Facebook page link, and other calls to action off your sales page.
Use social media to its full advantage, don’t just write one blog post and have one launch day. Have a series of events in place all leading up to the one day and then put the price up the next day.
Ejunkie is a great product for getting the information out into the public eye and it only costs $5, it syncs with Paypal, but is not good with multiple products. If you’ve only got one ebook then it’s well worth it.
Ads yes or no?
If the content is good and useful then it might be possible to put ads into an ebook, but be aware they might turn off the reader. Don’t make them overwhelm your content. Remember your readers are buying your content not your ads.
Teasers, how great are they?
Teaser content is great, but don’t give too much away. When writing some of your marketing articles include a page from the book but don’t do it too often as you need to ensure your readers will still buy it and get value for money.
Templates – awesome!
When writing multiple ebooks you could use a standard template to allow for consistentcy in the brand. There is an Ebook on ebook templates available for purchase.
Don’t devalue your work
Many websites use adobe Popups to allow visitors to receive a free ebook. This can work well for some companies but it can also have the effect of assigning a zero dollar amount to the ebooks and also assign a zero dollar amount to the work you’ve put into it. If you want to put in many hours to writing and producing an ebook then give it away for nothing who am I to stop you?
Length doesn’t matter
The ebook needs to fulfill a need and if it does then it doesn’t matter about the length. It could be six pages or 600 pages, the length doesn’t matter so long as the buyer gets value out of it.
Finding a price
To find a price do some market research in your area. Find a low price and a high price and then answer some questions. Is your brand premium or everyday and how big a problem does it solve? If it’s premium or it solves a big problem then pitch the price at the high end of the market, if not a premium brand or it doesn’t solve a big problem then pitch it a little lower. Don’t forget you can always give a discount for presales and then put the price up to it’s normal price on the day after launch. If you’d prefer to put your price up so high no-one will buy it then that’s your problem.
Last Friday I attended the second Problogger event. I went in my hat, I was very embarrassed to be wearing my hat but I wore it anyway.
I managed to get there with wet hair, well, that’s what happens when you wash it and it also rains. Hat hair reigns supreme! This hat is very special to me. It’s a representation of the hat worn by my favourite Discworld character. For many people their favorite character is Sam Vimes, or Granny Weatherwax but for me it’s Moist Von Lipwig. He spends a lot of time making it up on the spot and he then has the dashing and derring-do to make sure it happens, he also recognizes when a person has a particularity and doesn’t try to stamp it out but uses it to his full advantage even taking Stanley’s love for pins and adapting it to a love for stamps. I love those qualities in this character, he’s real and you can tell that. The hat is very special to me, my DD made it for me, specially for the third Discworld Convention in Sydney, I get the feeling I’ve mentioned it before. Here’s a picture of it.
Don’t zoom in and look at the imperfections…actually, do look at it, think to yourself how much love and care has gone into it, she designed it specially for me with the rest of the costume in mind, completely ignoring the fact I’d be feeling very embarrassed wearing it, sometimes we can learn so much from our kids. It’s good to come out of your comfort zone at times and I’ve certainly done that with this hat.
This hat has become my ID. I have it as my avatar on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll also be trying to make it my avatar on my blog. I’ll be wearing it to every conference and convention where I’ll be going under any of my online IDs. I don’t see how I’ll be able to take it overseas so it’s a good thing I don’t do overseas conventions. If you see me come and say hello!
I wrote a number of articles while listening to the wonderful speakers at the Problogger event and I’ll publish them over the next couple of weeks with some thoughts and photos of Armageddon.
One day I’ll actually read the book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and I look forward to finding out what it means. In my last update I predicted I’d be finished transferring listings from the old website to the new on Tuesday.
Well, it didn’t happen. Firefox did it’s usual upgrade stuff and all of a sudden it wouldn’t let me into the back end of the website. Zip, nada, nothing…totally useless. I was forced to go to plan B which was to access it Chrome, not too bad except when I look at each individual listing it shows me the html coding. Fabulous, I love learning html but not when I want to transfer everything quickly. Copying from this into the new website creates problems and each listing suddenly took twice as long. I did what I could but had to leave some to Wednesday when so many things went wrong, in small ways only, but they mount up and I’m now left with less than 40 listings to transfer and not a lot of time. I’ll do what I can today but tomorrow is Problogger event day and I’ll be lucky to have any time other than travelling time and then Saturday I’ll be at Armaggedon.
If you’re a blogger you won’t get a ticket to this Problogger event day as they’re all sold out. Last time they sold out three times, this time they’ve only managed to add an extra 100 tickets. I suggest you keep an eye his website for future events. This is a conference specifically for people who blog, you don’t need to blog for a living, just so long as you write a blog or are planning to write a blog you’re eligible to attend. The price has gone up since the last one but not too far, I do hope he manages to keep the price down for future events to make them affordable for everyone.
Saturday and Sunday are Armageddon. This is going to be fantastic. It’s for all those people who love Doctor Who, Star Gate, DC Comics and so much more. It’s described as a pop culture expo. I’m only going on Saturday and I’ve been talked into dressing up for a part of it, there will be photos. I know I’m going to regret this but there will be photos.
With all of that going on I won’t have a lot of time to finish those listings until Sunday and I’m going to be trying to get some family time in there. It will get done!
This book was originally published in 1954 and is a scary thought of what could happen given the technology available to us now.
Robert Neville may well be the only survivor of an incurable plague that has mutated every other man, woman and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creature who are determined to destroy him.
The premise of this book is very scary, it’s a brilliant fusion of horror and science fiction. A plague has hit, very much like the black plague, and no-one can work out how to deal with it. It reminds me very much of the advent of the AIDS virus, how it spread so quickly and how there were so many people worried about getting it and the misinformation that surrounded it at the time. With this virus they didn’t appear to have time to figure out how to combat it and they certainly have little idea of how it spreads. This plague turns people into vampires and Robert Neville is currently the last man who hasn’t succumbed, the reason is unknown as his wife died from it some time before the book is set.
The writing in this book is superb, you don’t get much better than this. Matheson has fused the two genres of horror and science fiction very nicely. There is just the right amount of each and a good story line as well.
The things I had trouble with are Neville trying to figure out the plague by himself and how the infrastructure kept going despite having no-one to run it. It was not sufficiently explained how Neville had the background to be able to figure out all the science type stuff in order to figure out how to treat the disease. I don’t know why it worries me about the infrastructure, but I’d like to know how it kept going. Many of the systems would have stopped, in fact, Neville did install a generator so he could generate his own electricity, but there was also the water and the sewerage which just seemed to keep going despite the lack of personnel.
I’d still recommend this book. Whether you like horror or science fiction I feel it has enough of both to satisfy most people. Now I have to see the movie of the same name with Will Smith in the lead role, awesome!
We’ve been painting our bathroom this week, it’s an interesting challenge and one I’d prefer not to be taking up. If it wasn’t for the toilet I could have done the whole thing myself without waiting for someone taller to have the time to make an O. H. & S. person shudder by standing with one foot on the cistern and another on the basin, I don’t have a photo as I was too busy doing other parts of the room. I’ve done what I could and was rather inventive in extending a paintbrush so I could do the cutting in up there without waiting for him, but it only works for the undercoat as I couldn’t make it accurate enough to only paint one part of the cornice so I had no choice but to wait for him to do the top coats. We will do the last one tomorrow and then do all the tidying and cleaning. That will be exciting, possibly, as despite taking all care we’ve managed to get paint on the floor, the toilet and the mirror, we missed the carpet in the hallway by only a millimetre. By Monday everything will be back to normal. It’s given me a bit of time to reflect and I was just thinking how painting is like choosing a new book or a new author, actually, I think it’s more like writing, but I’m choosing to stretch a point today.
There are various steps to painting:
- Deciding to paint
- Deciding to paint yourself or to delegate someone else
- Choosing the colours
- Buying the paint and all the paraphenalia such as brushes, rollers etc
- Preparing the surface by washing it down, filling any cracks, sanding, filling again, sanding…again
- Finally painting the undercoats and then the top coats.
- Making the decision to choose a new book/author
- Researching to narrow down the possibilities by talking to family/friends/Twitter/Good Reads/googling
- Browsing bookshops to make that final decision whether the shops are physical shops or online shops is irrelevant
- If going to a second hand bookshop and they have multiple copies then deciding which cover is more important to the reading process