Home from NINC

Those of you who pay attention will note that I almost never broadcast when I’m leaving town (for all the obvious reasons, of course). That being said, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I just got back last night from an entire week in SW Florida at a writers conventions known as NINC (short for Novelists, Inc.).

Very small fish in lake filled with very big sharks, but everyone there was generally very friendly and helpful. The point of something like this is two-fold. A bunch of major industry players try to come to meet people and announce interesting new bits, and a bunch of highly successful writers get together and compare notes about what they’ve been doing for the last year, what worked and what hasn’t.

Through some good friends, I got to be invited to the big kid’s table more than once, so I probably learned more than your normal first year freshman. I’m also not subject to Impostor Syndrome, so I don’t panic at the thought of being around people making eight figures a year in sales. I got a different career than they do, and a different path to my definition of success.

At the same time, in my spare job as Marketing Troll, I’ve tried a lot of things that many of the others I ran into (frequently also n00bs like me) had not considered, so I was able make some suggestions that hopefully helped. For example, I always have business cards with me. Several flavors, depending on the situation, but at least three with covers on the front and blurbs on the back.

“Oh? What do you write?” is frequently a topic, so I pull out one of the cards to hand to someone. In advertising, the general consensus is that you must touch someone’s brain at least four and possibly seven times to get a sale. So they touch the card and put it into a pocket or wallet (1). Later, they pull it out and look at it, trying to remember where it came from (2). Eventually, they’ll put it on their dresser for safe keeping (3). Then they’ll see it three weeks later and pick it up again (4). At this point, they’ll either toss it or register that it is a book they have been meaning to read, so they’ll go buy it.

I met several people with personalized pens (the clickable, writing kind) that had their website and tag line on the side, but that does not work for me. Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I chew pen caps, so I prefer Bic pens or the ones with black, plastic caps that make good chew toys. Metal pens pass through my hands without trace. Plus, they are hard to stash in your pocket or wallet, unlike a business card.

Similarly, you can get weird cards printed now that are half as tall as standard, but just as wide, usually with rounded corners. Pretty. Oh, so pretty, but they don’t stay in my wallet because they can slide right out. Poof, I’ve forgotten you by the time I go to empty out stuff from my wallet every month. (Receipts, business cards, cruft, whatever.)

At one time, beeping someone with Near-Field Communications on phones was going to be the future, until everyone realized how easy it would be to transmit electronic diseases that way. Similarly, I’m a guy, so I’m not about to ask any woman I don’t know extremely well for a phone number, but a business card with an email address is a good way to keep everything on a professional level with a paper trail, so hopefully she’s less nervous about me. And there’s always that.

And many of you will know you are in a Blaze Ward novel when: one of your themes is “sticking it to the man.” This last summer, we launched Boundary Shock Quarterly, because I’ve always wanted to, and the cross-promotional possibilities were awesome, and the tools make it easy now. It was so much fun, I wrote a book that detailed all the things I did, from inception to issue 003. Where the sticking it part comes in was that I was able to talk to some of these lovely folks about the magazine, and suggest that they could do the exact same thing in their own genre.

This is not pie. You don’t get a bigger slice of the pie at my expense. You help me create more readers, which means a bigger pie that everyone gets to share. And some of your readers will look around for more things to read, and eventually find me.

So last week, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I were able to chat with folks, and send them a copy of the book so they might could start their own genre magazine. Western, Sweet Romance, Military/Political Thriller, and a couple of others that currently elude me because I’m still recovering my brain.

And on the ride to the airport yesterday, we shared the van with another Military Thriller writer, so I’m going to hook him up with the other guy looking to maybe start his own magazine, so that they have a bigger and more robust Syndicate. Something like Boundary Shock requires a big fan base, so I recruited (and will continue to recruit as widely as I can, because if I run into a (temporarily) stranger in my genre who is interested, I might be able to find all their fans.

And I’m greedy that way. I’m willing to stand my stories up with anyone for entertainment value. Maybe I don’t write the prettiest words that will win awards, but you’ll still get bang for your buck.

The key with NINC is that these people are major players. I only barely qualified this year, after they tweaked some rules that allowed me to count my Science Officer novellas against their overall sales requirement rules. So I was learning (and continue to learn) from the best. I have a massive puddle of notes, and a list of fifteen projects. About half of those are things I can do over the next few months without adult supervision, and then me and the Babe will prioritize our combined lists and pick three we can achieve, with some stretch goals.

Watch this space for more news, and some changes that I will be making going forward.

All Ahead Crazy!