“I’m awed at how much time I’m spending on MySpace lately”

At the urging of Phil Tucker in a previous post’s comments, I’ve gone over to J. A. Konrath’s blog and downloaded the free PDF of A NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING, which is to say the blog in PDF format. I’m enjoying it, but a few things there are howlers by today’s standards. A few pages ago he suggested bundling multimedia material with books on a CD. I was just informed that “blog” is short for “web log,” and that MySpace has four times as many hits as Google.

I don’t begrudge Joe this stuff — he’s offering the book for free, so he’s under no obligation to keep things up to date. And one of the things he mentions a few times in the book is how swiftly things had been changing even as he wrote — “two years ago, almost no one had heard of a podcast or a blog” and so on. It’s just funny.

There is a fair amount of thought-provoking stuff in the book/blog as well. Much of the advice boils down to “Write well” and “Persevere,” which it always does. But there are some specific ideas, mostly in the vein of self-promotion, that are interesting and plausible and would not have occurred to me. I’d be interested to hear what agents think of his querying advice, since it seems to flout every set of querying guidelines I’ve seen. But he may have been writing before email queries were a thing.

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2 thoughts on ““I’m awed at how much time I’m spending on MySpace lately”

  1. Glad to see there’s some good stuff in there – I’ve actually not downloaded the PDF, though I will do so now. Instead, I simply started reading the blog itself some time last year, and benefited, if only in confidence, from hearing from various authors who had had success going the self-pubbed route themselves.

    It seems to come down, as you said, to a couple of basic things. Write well, persevere, and publish often. In fact, if you can, write a series because that seems to be akin to tapping into a combo move in an old arcade fighter game that results in huge riches from simply and continuously following up on each previous book’s sales. That metaphor may or may not have worked. But you see what I mean. The Dresden Files being a case in point, as of course are the Harry Potter books, Twilight, Hunter Games, Shades of Gray (my favorite!) and anything else that’s made it big.

    Shades of Gray isn’t actually my favorite. My favorite is and always will be Fanny Hill.

    Okay, that’s not true either.

    I’ve lost my train of thought.

  2. One thing he says that seems sort of forehead-smackingly obvious in retrospect is that short stories are basically ads that you get paid to write. It makes me feel really stupid to have published two short stories before I had a Web presence (if this thing counts as a “presence”), and ONLY THEN stopped to work on the novel, which has no capacity at all to generate traffic. Anyway, between Konrath’s insight and the amazing Kelly Link short story collection I’m reading now, I’m starting to get keen to write short stories again.

    This is another situation where you can play both the traditional publishing and self-publishing sides at once. It’s easier to get a short story published than to get a novel signed — not *easy*, but easier. It seems like publishing short stories delays publication of your first novel, if anything (i.e., the correlation is negative, but small), but a well-placed traditionally published short story can drive traffic to your Web page, where you link to your self-published novel. And anyone who’s clicked that link has presumably done so because you’ve proven you can write in a way that at least interests them, so you’d hope turnover would be high.

    For this to be a useful insight, of course, I have to publish some kind of novel, self- or otherwise. Currently I’m at a bit of a crossroads — I can try to finish the sequel to TDK, which will be a long and tangled process but will at least result in a complete work of fiction (since TDK almost literally ends on a cliffhanger), or I can try to finish THE EIGHTH KING, which is slimmer and more straightforward and has more high-concept hooks to grab onto (martial arts, Chinese/Tibetan influence, succession intrigue) and is funnier and simultaneously more self-contained and a better series pilot, all of which suggest better commercial potential — but will leave TDK hanging. Probably I should just outline both and see where I am. :/

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