Monthly Archives: May 2016

MADISON MARTIAL ARTS – Summer Special 2016

Check out our summer special on youth karate classes.
Check out our summer special on youth karate classes.

At Madison Martial Arts Academy, we’re offering a summer special on our Youth Karate class that includes three months of classes, a uniform, and your child’s first belt promotion. It’s a pretty good deal, if I do say so myself.

If you’re interested in training alongside your kids, we’ve got an even better summer special for you. Enroll yourself in our Adult Karate and Jujitsu program and your child can train free! This offer is limited to one child per adult.

Both offers are good through July 31st.

Adult Karate and Jujitsu Summer Specials
Adult Karate and Jujitsu Summer Specials

Why Your Blog Should Be Ad Free

Go ad free.
No, most likely you couldn’t be.

Straight out of the gate I’m going to acknowledge that this post won’t apply to everybody. But there are plenty of folks out there for whom it will apply. The plain and simple truth is that your blog should probably be ad free.

I saw a post on this topic come through my Twitter feed over the weekend by one particular self published author. He was trying the tactic of patiently explaining to his readers why the ads were there, and that he needed them to pay for his blog. Among the points he made was that the blog costs him $2500 a year to run. My first impression was amazement. He must get a heck of a lot more traffic than I do! But then I read on, and I’m not so amazed. Among that $2500 were the following expenses.

  • Site hosting and bandwidth.
  • Themes for the blog
  • Site design work

Now, this author probably sells a lot more books than I have (so far!). But unless he’s pulling in a lot of money from his books (like well over six figures annually), he’s simply spending too much. Only one item on this list is a required cost: site hosting and bandwidth. That one can – and should – be amortized in other areas. As for themes, there are lots of free themes out there. Pick one you like. It doesn’t matter if it looks like everyone else’s – many of the most popular blogs out there all use only a handful of themes anyway. And those are all free themes. And you don’t need site design work. These days, WordPress does everything but write the posts for you.

Those two factors alone almost certainly accounted for more than half of his $2500 total. They probably accounted for four fifths of it. Cheap site design usually runs in the $300-600 range. It’s not uncommon for it to hit $1500 or more. Themes can easily be a few hundred dollars each.

I pay $98 a year for the site that hosts this blog. But in addition to that, I host three other business related web sites on the same server for the same fee. That means I’m paying $25 a year for hosting. My host has bandwidth limits. I get enough traffic to manage all of those businesses. I’ve never even come close to exceeding my bandwidth limits. And this is paid hosting. There are several decent blog hosting sites out there that are still free, and several more that will host a blog (if that’s all you’re hosting) for $45 a year or so. My only other notable expense for the blog is the annual cost of renewing the domain name itself (around $15).

But the big problem is that he’s looking at his blog in entirely the wrong way. Your blog isn’t a revenue generator. This is the part where I reiterate what I started with – there will be some people out there for whom this isn’t true. Your blog is advertising. Treat it that way, and pay for it that way. If you’re careful, it can be one of the lowest cost advertising methods you use – and it will likely have one of the highest returns on investment (most likely far superior even to social media). But it needs to go in the expense column under ‘advertising.’

Running ads on your blog causes several problems. First, it degrades the user experience. Nobody likes ads, it’s that simple. But beyond that, they’re slow, they’re obnoxious, they eat up your readers’ precious bandwidth (and mobile users, at least, are paying for that!), they frequently cause layout issues. I’ve had sites crash on me due to the ads – and this very writer mentioned the time he spends fighting to keep the ads working right.

Second, you lose readers. Again, this very writer mentioned that he needs the ads… to make up for the revenue he loses when people click through the ads and don’t come back to his site! Your blog is about gaining readers – and potential paying customers! – not running them off.

Third, online advertising pays shit. The revenue you get from it is simply terrible.

But fourth, and most importantly, your blog is your advertising. Keep it focused on you. Advertise yourself, not somebody else.

I ran a very successful blog at this same URL for more than half a decade in the early 2000s. One reason I shut it down because I didn’t have a good way to monetize it at the time – and that included looking at web ads. They just didn’t bring in enough revenue.

I brought the blog back because I figured out the correct way to monetize it: by driving traffic to my other businesses. Blogs are excellent tools for that – one of the best out there. The hows and whys of that are enough to fill an entire other post, but it works (if done right). Forget the ads – make up the revenue by driving traffic to yourself. One click to another site will give you anywhere from a few pennies to a few dollars. If you’re an author, one click to yourself (ie, your own page, where you’re selling your book directly – or to Amazon, where you’ll get royalties from it) can give you a few dollars. If you run other businesses, it can be more. With my wife’s videography business, for example, one click could generate up to $2500 in revenue. With my dojo, one click could generate a paying student. The immediate revenue might not be as high. But if that student ends up staying long enough to, say, reach black belt, it will be substantially higher even than that.

There are a very few people who generate enough blog traffic for ads to become a significant revenue source. If you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly not one of them. Your blog should be a piece of your sales funnel, and that funnel should end with you – not with somebody else.

Ditch the ads. Pay for your own blog, and chalk it up as a cost of doing business. At the end of the day you’ll get more business from staying ad free.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – Movie Review

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR hits you right where it hurts.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR hits you right where it hurts.

Anthony and Joe Russo have hit it out of the park again. Captain America: Civil War doesn’t quite manage to be the greatest superhero film of all time. But a very close second is no mean feat. Furthermore, they’ve managed to eclipse even their own previous entry, The Winter Soldier. Given how excellent that film was in its own right, this is no small feat. Brian Niemeier summed up my own thoughts best when he said that Civil War is “A two and a half hour master class on writing.” Can confirm. My immediate thought upon exiting the movie is that I hope someday to write something of my own that is that good.

The action and the special effects are absolutely top notch. But given the budget involved and the history of these films, you already knew that. Where this film really shines is in the story and the characters. You care what happens to these people. You care a lot. As others have noted, some of this is because we’ve had eight films to come to love them. This is true. Yet we must be careful to also note that the Russo brothers have built on top of that with masterful writing, without which this film wouldn’t hit the peaks that it does. And then, when you’re fully invested in these characters, the film hits you where it hurts – and hard. The climactic fight at the end is brutal – physically and emotionally.

But that’s not the only place this film succeeds. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a film about Tony Stark’s hubris. Ultimately, so is Civil War. But where that film, though ultimately enjoyable, is a bit clunky and forced, this film feels effortless and true. In many ways this film is a mirror image of that one, but it’s the stronger, better mirror image.

Most interestingly, however, this film succeeds in a way that so few modern works really do, although many attempt it. Each of these characters has an absolutely believable, absolutely understandable motivation, absolutely relatable motivation. Even though I am one thousand percent Team Cap, at no point did I think that Stark was evil or stupid. He was merely being Stark.

With that said… the film is not perfect. There’s one scene that, while wonderful in its own right, also really hurts the pacing of the film. The fight scenes are absolutely amazing, but I really wish they’d dial back the handheld camera work just a bit. It’s the rage these days, and I get why. But it’s also headache inducing, and it makes it hard to follow what’s going on. In many cases, directors use it because it makes it hard to follow the fight. This film absolutely didn’t need that, and it should have avoided the gimmick. Also, this film had so… much… falling. Seriously, there is so much falling in this film that both my wife and I independently were thinking it. Worse, we were thinking it during the movie, not afterward when we were mulling it over. But this last one is a pretty small quibble, given the film.

But two things, ultimately, keep it from dethroning The Dark Knight. First, the villain of the piece simply isn’t as iconic as Heath Ledger’s Joker. With that said, the core villain in this film is very interesting. He continues to demonstrate my thesis that there is nothing so dangerous as an ordinary man with nothing left to lose. But he will never be as remembered as the Joker. Second, this film simply isn’t quite as tight as Nolan’s masterpiece. Don’t believe me? Go watch The Dark Knight again. That film is tight. There isn’t a single frame of that film that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Civil War is tight – but not that tight. This is partly due to the need to setup future Marvel films (Vision’s brief monologue about the soul gem on his forehead, for instance, clearly only exists to set up Infinity War). And it’s handled far better than some other Marvel films have done. Yet it’s still there.

The rest of the film is so excellent that none of this is enough to even take half a star away. This is a five star film, plain and simple. If you have ever enjoyed any of these Marvel films, get out and see this one. You won’t regret it.

Oh, and by the way – Brian is still wrong. Team Cap all the way. But explaining that requires spoilers. So with that, we’ll jump into the second part of this review.

 


 

Still here?

As I’ve already noted, this film – like Age of Ultron – is ultimately about Tony Stark’s hubris. The driving force behind the Sokovia Accords isn’t the incident in the beginning of this film. That’s a convenient political excuse. The fact of the matter is that governments all over the world – including ours – participate in military and police actions every year that produce more unintentional civilian casualties than that one incident. And the plain and simple truth is that they accomplished their goal – preventing the outbreak of a bioweapon. The collateral damage came from a simple mistake of the variety that simply happens in combat. No amount of oversight will ever prevent that kind of mistake from happening, not entirely.

The true driving force of the Sokovia Accords is clearly the incident in Age of Ultron. The very name of the accords bears this out, as Sokovia was the site not of Wanda’s mistake but of Stark’s. Of all the incidents in Secretary Ross’s montage, Sokovia is the only one where the Avengers were clearly out of line as opposed to merely making a mistake. And by “The Avengers” I mean Tony Stark. All of the other Avengers tried to stop him from creating Ultron – even Banner (though Banner ultimately helped him do it). Tony simply wouldn’t listen.

And therein lies the first major problem with the Sokovia Accords: they’re unenforceable. The only people in the MCU who have the power to enforce the Sokovia Accords are the Avengers themselves. And yet Age of Ultron clearly showed us that even they can’t do it. If Tony wanted to create another Ultron tomorrow, ultimately nothing in this universe could stop him.

The entirety of Civil War continues to demonstrate this point, over and over again. Nobody can stop Cap from saving his friend. Nobody can stop Iron Man from striking off on his own once he realizes that Cap has the truth on his side. And at the end, nobody can stop Cap from rescuing his friends. The Avengers are unaccountable not because nobody wants to hold them to account but because nobody can.

Indeed, this is so true that even in the enforcement of the accords themselves games are being played. Stark tells Rogers directly that the whole thing is a farce: “…sign. We can live the last 24 hours legit. Barnes gets transferred to an American psych center instead of a Wakanda prison.” Later, Ross says something similar to Stark. If approval comes ex post facto rather than before an action then it’s completely and utterly pointless.

Have I mentioned yet that the film is about Tony’s hubris? In the handful of days over which the story occurs, Stark himself violates the Accords he pushed his fellow Avengers to sign no less than three times.

The second problem with the Accords is one that my friend Brian has already mentioned, and it’s why even he agreed that in practice the Accords couldn’t work. The UN is the most corrupt organization on Earth. It’s a cesspool of corruption and scandal, and it has no business carrying out oversight of this kind. Furthermore, the fact that 117 nations agreed on the Accords does far more to convince me that it’s a terrible idea than that it’s a good one. How many of those nations have democratically elected governments? How many of them recognize basic human rights such as free speech, free association, free press, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, etc? None are perfect, including ours. Most of them don’t even pay lip service to those ideals.

Finally, we cannot forget that the entirety of Rogers’ previous outing was spent exposing the corruption of such bureaucracies. If SHIELD itself is corrupted through and through, than why on Earth should the Avengers even consider letting the body that controlled it control them?

Make no mistake about it. At the end of the day, the Sokovia Accords is about what such things are always about. It’s not about weapons control – it’s about people control. It’s about the people at the top maintaining their privilege and power no matter what, and it’s never about the people at the bottom. Oh, there are people involved who are well meaning. But this sort of thing never ends well.

Rogers sums it up best: “I believe in individuals, and mostly they haven’t let me down.” In our fallen world, that’s the best one can ever hope for.

Other notes:

  • The scene that hurts the pacing of the film is Tony Stark’s visit to Peter Parker’s house. I loved it, other than the fact that I’m still dealing with Aunt May being hot (that just ain’t right). But the transition to it was very jarring and the scene just felt out of place in the film.
  • The CGI of young Tony and old Howard was scary good.
  • When Cap destroyed the arc reactor and ended the fight, both my wife and I had momentarily forgotten that Tony had had the shrapnel removed from his chest in a previous movie. Thus my immediate reaction was, “Holy shit, Cap just killed Iron Man!” This may well have been unintentional on the filmmakers’ part, but it was absolutely brilliant. I got all of the emotional charge of that without them having to actually kill him and without the crazy, “Oh look, he’s back from the dead!” moment. Well played.
  • When Tony finds out that Bucky killed his parents, and that Steve covered for it… oh man, that just hurt.

BETWEEN THE WALL AND THE FIRE – Advance Review Copies

Between the Wall and the Fire
Between the Wall and the Fire

Silver Empire is currently offering a limited number of free electronic advance review copies of our upcoming anthology, Between the Wall and the Fire.

“When we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Vestanji thirsts for revenge when he feels slighted by his brother.  A young boy takes his sister on an out-of-this-world adventure. An old man recounts the story of his life – and his wife. A father tries to stop his son from sacrificing all for their world. Maw Maw Nat fights the evil that lurks in the bayou behind her home. Rel goes to great lengths to bring home something pretty for his wife. Joseph has lost his family – now he’s losing his home as well. Joel fights the system to grant his grandmother’s dying wish.

Between the Wall and the Fire – A collection of superversive science fiction and fantasy stories celebrating family devotion, including the stories:

  • “Brotherly Envy”
  • “Kingdoms of Magic”
  • “Life Began at Thirty-Three”
  • “Negev”
  • “On the Bayou’s Edge”
  • “A Ruby for Dyree”
  • “Second Home, Second Chances”
  • “Soul Food”
  • …and more!

Supplies are limited. Preference will be granted to those who have left reviews in the past. We expect all reviewers to leave 100% honest reviews at one or more of the following forums:

  • Amazon.com
  • GoodReads.com
  • SmashWords.com
  • A personal blog or other web site

If you would like an advance reader copy, please visit the Advance Review Copies page at silverempire.org.

Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home

Screw you guys, I'm going home!
Screw you guys, I’m going home!

The same GOP establishment that went insane trying to force Donald Trump to pledge to support the eventual nominee for president is now refusing to support the eventual nominee for president. Here’s a short list of prominent establishment players who are refusing to support Trump:

  • Mitt Romney
  • Paul Ryan
  • George H.W. Bush
  • George W. Bush

Watching grown men pull an Eric Cartman ploy is embarrassing.

On the other hand, the political establishment is in full retreat. Please, guys, please take your toys and go home. We don’t want you here anyway. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

An Interview With Brian Niemeier – Part 3

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier's first published novel.
Nethereal – Brian Niemeier’s first published novel.

A few days ago I asked 2016 Campbell Award nominee Brian Niemeier if he’d be willing to submit to an e-mail interview for the readers of this blog. He’s graciously agreed, and he’s taken the time to answer a rather lengthy series of questions. To avoid the dreaded “TL;DR” kiss of death, I’ve divided the interview into three parts. The first part focuses on Mr. Niemeier’s most well known work, the Soul Cycle series. The second part focuses on writing and Mr. Niemeier’s experiences therein. This third and final part focuses on Brian himself. Without further ado, here’s the first part. Text in bold is mine. The rest is Mr. Niemeier’s, presented exactly as he gave it to me – with one small note. My original set of questions had two questions inadvertently jammed together due to a formatting error. I have split apart both the questions and Mr. Niemeier’s answer to preserve the original intention.


Aside from authors and works previously listed as inspiration, can you tell us what your own favorite sff authors and works are?

Frank Herbert’s Dune series—the odd-numbered books only, of which book five is the last. Prequels? What prequels?

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and Blade Runner (yes, the movie; not the book) by Philip K. Dick

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy—the print and graphic novels

Watchmen by Alan Moore

 

Favorite current sff show and/or movie?

If you want to be a professional writer, you have to give something up. I gave up TV.

Movies are another story. Guardians of the Galaxy is my ideal space opera. I’ll count myself truly blessed if I can approach that aesthetic, tone, and mood someday.

But the Captain America series is still the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Interstellar and The Martian are two of the best hard SF films ever made.

 

Iron Man as Bulbasaur
Iron Man as Bulbasaur

Followup Question: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

Whichever one was Bulbasaur 🙂

Favorite current sff books?

John C. Wright’s Count to Eschaton Sequence

The Cunning Blood by Jeff Duntemann

CTRL ALT Revolt! By Nick Cole

Larry Correia’s Grimnoir series—yes, it’s sci-fi, folks.

 

Your blog is titled “Kairos.” Can you tell us where that came from and why you used it for the title?

For the full answer, go read Souldancer.

Short answer: it’s one of two Greek words for time.

Chronos is mundane, sequential time. Think of languishing in your final class on Friday afternoon back in high school, watching the clock tick off those last ten minutes.

Kairos is sacred time; otherworldly. It’s the word for feast days, or the experience of watching a tropical sunset and, for an unquantifiable moment, touching eternity.

Shorter answer: the title is very pretentious.

 

Philosophy and religion seem to be recurring underlying themes in your work. Do you have a background in these areas?

Yes. I hold a master’s degree in theology from a Catholic university of note.

No. Not that one. The non-heretical one.

 

You also blog at SuperversiveSF. Can you tell us how you got involved there, and how you got involved in the Superversive movement in general?

Jason Rennie, the Hugo-nominated editor of Sci Phi Journal, published my first professional short story “Strange Matter”. We have enjoyed a fast long-distance friendship ever since. Jason is also the mastermind of Superversive SF, and he asked me to write for the blog.

I became aware of the Superversive movement through Jason, my novel editor L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright, and master essayist Tom Simon whose work I’ve greatly admired since before his landmark essay on the subject.

Heroic courage in defense of the beautiful, the true, and the good is the heart of every Superversive story. The great philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas to von Balthasar all championed these virtues in the arts, so being a writer and a theologian, the Superversive movement is my natural home.

 

The word “Superversive” is still kind of settling in on exactly what it means. What does it mean to you?

I hold to Mr. Simon’s original definition of the Superversive story as one in which the main character doesn’t simply bear wrongs patiently; he takes the risk of becoming a hero. In so doing, he upholds beauty, truth, and goodness.

 

What did you do before you started writing?

I was messing around on the internet.

 

Do you still have a “real” job? If so, what do you do?

I’m a medical debt collector. Certain parties may consider my love for Christ and my hatred of error to be grounds for getting me disemployed. On the bright side, if they do I’ll have more time for writing.

 

I think it’s fair to say that your Campbell nomination came as a direct result of making both the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies lists, and if you hadn’t been on those lists it wouldn’t have happened. What are your personal thoughts on this?

Your analysis is correct. I’m grateful to my readers who recommended me for the Sad Puppies list—initially without my knowledge. I’m also grateful to Vox Day, who only put me on the Rabid Puppies list after his first choice was ruled ineligible.

Those who cast votes based on the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies list did so fully in accordance with the Hugo nomination rules. Their wishes carry no less weight than those of other paid members in good standing of Worldcon.

 

How do you feel about the Puppies campaigns in general?

Sad Puppies was an inevitable response to the overall decadence and hastening decline of the New York publishing establishment.

Recall that Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia began his writing career far from the island of Manhattan as a self-published author. His detractors misinterpret him—perhaps unintentionally—to say that there is a conspiracy against non-Leftist authors. The old gatekeepers, and the authors beholden to them, look at themselves and see no collusion; no bias. They see themselves merely behaving and thinking as all well-meaning people ought.

They should look at their sales figures. That might show them just how universal their worldview really is.

Let the CHORFs blame Sad Puppies on sour grapes over Larry’s Campbell loss. Even if he’d quietly accepted the insults that followed and had written yet another best-selling novel instead of starting SP, someone else—another lowbrow type from flyover country, no doubt—would eventually have felt the CHORFs’ petty lash and done something similar.

Worldcon should hope that someone would have. We’ve seen yet another year of record-shattering, Puppy-driven turnout. Those who’ve been quick to dismiss the Puppy campaigns as irrelevant or to vote their nominees below No Award should ponder the likely results of driving the SP and RP members—and their membership fees—away for good.

Because greater SF fandom is expanding to the corners of the map, and rumor has it that somewhere to the South, there be Dragons.

 


Announcing BETWEEN THE WALL AND THE FIRE

Between the Wall and the Fire
Between the Wall and the Fire

I am pleased to announce that our next anthology of superversive science fiction and fantasy stories will be released on June 4. Between the Wall and the Fire features stories from myself, Ray Blank, Verne Luvall, S.D. McPhail, Morgon NewquistK Bethany Sawyer, and Joshua M. Young.

I can also say that I was very pleased with the new authors we’ve added for this anthology. Ms. McPhail’s upcoming novel, “Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key” is the best third century Persian historical science fiction sword and science novel of the year. The stories in this anthology, set in the same world, are just as intriguing. And I can honestly say that Mr. Young’s piece for this anthology, “Negev,” is the best piece of short fiction that I’ve yet had the privilege to publish.

The returning authors don’t disappoint, either. Ms Sawyer’s piece is the best of her works that I’ve yet read. My wife Morgon’s School of Spells & War series continues to be a joyous sword and sorcery romp. As for my own stories, I leave that up to the readers to decide.

Pre-orders are available direct from Silver Empire for a special early price of $2.99. It will be available soon from other retailers.

An Interview with Brian Niemeier – Part 2

Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
Souldancer by Brian Niemeier

A few days ago I asked 2016 Campbell Award nominee Brian Niemeier if he’d be willing to submit to an e-mail interview for the readers of this blog. He’s graciously agreed, and he’s taken the time to answer a rather lengthy series of questions. To avoid the dreaded “TL;DR” kiss of death, I’ve divided the interview into three parts. The first part focuses on Mr. Niemeier’s most well known work, the Soul Cycle series. This second part focuses on writing and Mr. Niemeier’s experiences therein. The third and final part focuses on Brian himself. Without further ado, here’s the first part. Text in bold is mine. The rest is Mr. Niemeier’s, presented exactly as he gave it to me.


You’ve stated elsewhere that you actually wrote Souldancer first. How did that happen?

Like most behind-the-scenes accounts, that statement is true, but the whole story is more complicated.

I spent high school and my early college years marinating in SFF stories from various media: novels, movies, animated and live action television series, American and Japanese comic books, video games, pen and paper RPGs. I think that eventually these influences coalesced into a set of ideas that were as desperate to break out of my head as Frank Morris was to escape from Alcatraz.

I tried all sorts of creative outlets—even building homemade models. I filled pages with notes, which, unknown to me at the time, constituted world building. As an early form of beta testing, I worked some of these concepts into a couple of D&D campaigns. I went as far as drawing half of what later became Nethereal in comic book form (trust me—you do not want to see it).

Only after all of these attempts had failed to express the story in my mind did I try writing a novel.

One benefit of all this trial and error was that I knew exactly which story I wanted to tell. Set on a once-thriving world laid waste by a fiery cataclysm, it was the tale of a young nomad abandoned by his tribe in the desert. At first he just fought to survive, but he rapidly got embroiled in world-shaking events. At the critical point, he had to choose between saving himself and risking his life for love.

Somehow I finished the first draft of Souldancer. It was a monster weighing in at over 300,000 words. It also sucked, as first drafts of first novels are wont to do.

At that point, I shelved the project, consoling myself that I could at least scratch “write a novel” off my bucket list. I left my unfinished secondary world and went back to school.

For a year afterward I bounced around between bouts of comical underemployment before my mom, who is a librarian, said, “Why not sell your book to a publisher?” I objected that it wasn’t in salable shape, and she reminded me that I had the time to get it in shape.

Revisiting Souldancer Version One after many years showed me that 1) it needed far more work than I thought, and 2) the start of the book wasn’t the story’s natural beginning. I dug out my old notes and started writing what I came to realize was the outline for a whole new book—a prequel to Souldancer that ended up being Nethereal.

There are years of redrafting, revisions, submissions, rejections, and research between then and now; but that’s the rough background.

 

What made you decide to get serious about writing?

The knowledge that my life is contingent upon some form of gainful work, and that I honestly can’t do anything else for a living but write.

In all candor, my only choices are earning a living as a professional writer, or early death. So I’d better write.

 

How long did it take you to write your first novel?

That’s tricky. If we’re talking Souldancer, from first draft to final draft, it took me over thirteen years.

 

How much time do you spend writing every day?

Four [Editor’s note: I assume he meant four hours per day], when I had the luxury of unemployment. Now I have a full time job with an unconventional schedule, so I write when I can for as long as I can.

 

Did the second one go faster?

To be honest, I don’t really know. I switched back and forth between the first two books over a span of sixteen years, which are now kind of a blur. I’m gonna say they took equally long to write.

The third one will definitely be finished much faster, now that I know what I’m doing.

 

Did you try submitting your works to any traditional or indie publishers before you self published it? If so, what was the response like?

I started submitting Nethereal right around the time that indie started becoming viable. My research was still telling me that tradpub was a smarter move—with Kindle an unproven novelty and Borders still open, I don’t think I was wrong.

Every aspiring author knows what the responses were like. They fell into two categories: nothing and “Thanks for your submission, but this just isn’t a good fit for us.”

NB: one instance of the latter type of reply came to me from some editorial intern at Tor Books. I suppose I owe him a drink.

 

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I’m not one of those guys who tried to break in for years before finally throwing up my hands and uploading a stack of unsold manuscripts to Amazon. Nor do I think that all publishers are in league with Satan.

For me, whether to go traditional or indie is a purely mercenary decision. I was still shopping Nethereal around to agents and editors until quite recently.

I kept doing my homework throughout the submissions process, and it was the hard data presented on sites like Author Earnings and A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing that ultimately won me over to the indie side.

It was still a tough call, but now the numbers overwhelmingly support self-publishing. The market shares of tradpub and indie have flipped over the past two years. The only publishers who are likely to weather the storm are reader and author-centric houses like Baen and Castalia.

 

What’s been the hardest part of self-publishing for you?

Marketing. Like most authors, I’m an introvert. Then again, the idea that traditional publishers’ marketing departments handle all of their authors’ promotions is simply false. All authors bear the primary burden of promoting themselves these days, so marketing is a difficult aspect of publishing in general; not just indie.

 

For us other indie authors, what’s been the most effective method of marketing your books?

Because I started from scratch with no advertising budget, I couldn’t build a highly effective platform right out of the gate. To compensate for my lack of resources, I got more prominent folks to lend me their platforms.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean sponging off of others. I always make a good faith effort to offer people something of value, however small, before asking them for help. If you want an author higher on the totem pole to promote your book, promote one of his first. Before seeking a guest spot on a podcast, review one of their episodes.

Of course, I’m still slowly building my own platform; improving my blog and expanding my social media following. The end goal is to make these traffic sources self-sustaining, but it takes patience.

 

What’s been the least effective thing that you’ve tried?

Promoted tweets. You may as well just burn the money—and I’m not the only one saying this.

[Editor’s note: I’ve had exactly the same experience. Promoted tweets are a total waste of money.]


Tune in tomorrow for the third and final part, where we discuss Brian’s life and how he came to be involved in the Superversive science fiction movement and the Sad/Rabit Puppies campaigns.

 

Donald Trump is the 2016 GOP Presidential Nominee

Donald Trump will be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.
Donald Trump will be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.

Ted Cruz should have dropped out last week after he got curb stomped in New England. Still, at least he had the sense to drop out after last night’s schlonging. While he still clearly has more ambition than is good for him, he at least didn’t go full Marco. The most embarrassing week in modern politics has probably killed his chances of ever occupying the oval office. But unlike Rubio he also likely hasn’t completely destroyed his political career altogether.

With Cruz gone, there is no longer any doubt. Barring his sudden death, Donald Trump will be the 2016 presidential nominee for the Republican Party.