|Posted on July 4, 2017 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
Weird West is a literary subgenre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre, usually horror, occult, fantasy or science fiction.
Steampunk, a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
"if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you"
a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
"the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist"
Now that we have the definitions of each genre the big question is this, are weird west and steampunk similar and if so just how similar are they? Yes they do have similarities and we will go over them and see just how alike and even how unalike they are.
-They are both lesser known underrated sub-genres
-Both can be considered to be a form of a sub-genre of Fantasy
-They both are weird, odd and unique in their own right and share a specific quality to them
-They take place during a certain time period
-They both introduce and contain the use of magical technology such as weaponry, forms of transportation and machinery
-Both tend to be associated with and combine Historical Fiction either using real people or places
-At times both create various situations involving the use of time travel
-Both tend to at times be set in their own utopia or interesting world
So in many ways Weird West and Steampunk are similar and sometimes tend to draw in the same audience. They are both unique genres that really capture the essence of creativity, magic and technology. They, like other small sub-genres tend to go unnoticed or underrated however over the last few years the popularity in each of them.
Here are some popular authors of each genre:
-Joe R. Landsdale
-Eric S. Brown
Paul Di Filippo
|Posted on July 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM||comments (0)|
Harry Potter, Sebastian Grey, Katniss Everdeen, Holden Caufield. We know them well as they are some of literatures most popular characters. Their names resonate with us the minute we hear them. We know immediate what book they are in and even if we haven’t read a single book their in we likely know a little bit of who they are. Why is this? Well aside from the obvious of some names being the associated with the title of the book, names are everything when it comes to characters. In order for a novel to stand out it needs a strong main character who will take on a challenge or adventure or connect and seem real to a reader. One way this can be done is by giving that character a name, a name that will not only represent what that character stands for but will stand out among the rest. How important is it to give your character a fitting name? It’s necessary and essential to your stories very existence. Sure you can name your characters John Smith, Emily Jones or James King but your not giving them identity, your not giving them a name that will stand out among the top names listed in the beginning. A character name needs to stand out, when you read it you immediately know who they are or when you see their name it gives you a sense of intrigue and makes you want to read and know more about them. How important is the naming of a character? More important then you would think.
Harry Potter. If you really think about it the name seems rather generic if you take out the fame that now comes with it. Before Harry potter was written the name could have easily gone unnoticed as seen as a common one. However now anytime we see the name Harry Potter we immediately associate it with the book series of a boy wizard. So while this shows that it is possible to take a generic name and turn it into a popular one it’s still better to give your character a unique name that stands out above the rest so people can easily know what they are from. The other names listed above are all unique and catch your eye. While Harry Potter and Sebastian Gray are names a real person could have how many people have you met that have the names of Katniss Everdeen or Holden Caufield? Probably none and if you have they are likely named after the characters. Many writers would not think to give any deep thought when it comes to naming a character. They think that the setting, plot and character details are important and a name is just a name. Yes perhaps that’s true but you need to give that setting, plot and character detail substance and that starts with what you think is the easiest thing of all..naming your character. A writer can pick a common name and still make that character stand out but if a writer really wants to get people to read their book or even just be original they need to think deep about what name they want to represent their book and their character.
A little bit of research is necessary in the naming of a character as well. If you book is set in China and your character is from there then naturally your going to give your character a Chinese name. If your character is from another country then you want to give them a name that originates from that country. If you really want to get into detailing and representing what your character is about you could even look up the meaning of a name and give the character that name so they live by the very name they were given. Origin, originality and a strong powerful visual of the name can really make your character seem very real. How can you come up with a great sounding name for your character? Look up names alphabetically, look up baby names, look up names from a certain country, ask people, watch movies. You can get names from so many sources its about choosing the right one that may be a difficult task but when you find the right one you’ll know. So remember the next time you need to decide and come up with a name for a character to sit down and give it some thought. Don’t use John Smith, Joe Schmo or Jane Doe, be original, be unique and give your character a name that not only represents your book but you can be proud to say you came up with your made your own.
|Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
Videos. We all watch them and we all enjoy them. Whether it’s for entertainment value or to gain information and knowledge. Many make videos in order to demonstrate a feat or to teach others their knowledge on a topic. For authors this is no different but are videos a good marketing tool for them? I’ve come across several articles and heard from many people that as an author you should be making videos. Whether it’s a small video or a long one you should be getting out there and recording video of yourself or something in order to gain a following and provide entertainment and info for people to let them become interested in you and your work. You know those articles and people I mentioned? Yes they’re in the book marketing industry meaning they mainly want to help and they write non-fiction. So it’s easy for them to make videos as they have plenty to provide but if you’re a fiction author is making a series of videos a good tool? Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen lists of things fiction authors can do to provide valuable content to their videos in order to gain followers and reach their audience but the big question here is, is it a practical tool for a fiction author to do?
Video marketing is no doubt huge right now. Some of us have the attention span of fish and it’s why they say we need to get in on the video trend now. We need to be able to entertain or educate when doing videos or otherwise we risk the viewer tuning out and looking into something else. A video shows people that you are for one real and seeing you let’s them know whose behind the content and why they should care. A video in the sense of marketing for an author is to let people know you value and care about what you do and you wish to get your point across and what better way then to showcase yourself or your words or a slideshow? I personally feel as though it’s easier for non-fiction authors to provide solid video content because they are likely being shown talking about and teaching information that people can use and apply to help them. Fiction authors on the other hand have to be more creative and really think about what they want to put in their videos. As you may be able to tell from this I don’t do video outside of book trailers. Should I? I want to know what I could record video doing and I want to know if it would be worth it. Seeing as it’s the thing to do right now I say it’s worth taking a shot but from an overall standpoint I ask whether it’s truly worth doing and if it’s for everyone.
So are videos a good marketing tool? While I am asking I am leaning toward yes but also that they aren’t for everyone. I say they should be made by both non-fiction and fiction writers but again they aren’t for everyone but should at least be tested to see if they work for that individual. A video should be like a book in the sense of what I stated earlier, it needs to either entertain or educate or both. Remember Vine? Vine lives on in memory and in irony in the sense that you took quick videos and now it’s as gone as quick as it’s purpose. Vine may have been small quick videos but the idea behind it was simple, if you can get people’s attention in a short amount of time then your doing something right. Is video right for you? I have been asking myself this for some time and the more I hear I should be doing it the more I feel I should at least give it a shot. The plan of action should be to at least try it if you aren’t doing it already and have a goal and idea in mind before hand. Is video a good marketing tool? All signs point to yes but I say the verdict is still out as to whether or not it’s a proven asset for everyone.
|Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
My Writing Influences/Inspirations
One question I get as a writer is who are your writing influences? Who inspires you? I’m sure you get asked the same thing. The response should come out of you as quick as it was asked because let’s be honest here, we’ve had plenty of time to think of this question. These are people who are the reason to why we write, what got us started on this path and made such an impact on us that we thought, you know what? I want to become a writer and author. So who are my writing inspirations? Well as you know I am both a writer and poet so I have quite a mixed bunch of writers but here are some of my influences and inspirations.
Edgar Allan Poe-
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Whether you’ve read my Macabre Masterpiece books or just read a horror story by me you can clearly see the evidence of Poe. Like most people I read The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and many more of Poe’s work in school the only difference is I kept reading long after I got out of school. I already liked horror and I felt Poe’s words were creepy and morbid yet chilling, true and captivating and it’s this very thing to which has inspired two books and my love for horror. Aside from writing two books of horror poetry I have also written stories with an essence similar to Poe’s and I’ve even paid homage to him in a blog post. In many ways Poe is a great part of my writing life and like many of us who enjoy him I’m sure it will continue on for as long as I write.
This one may be a surprise. Rod Serling is mostly known for “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery”. What people may not know is that he wrote many stories to which became episodes for the shows. I absolutely love The Twilight Zone so naturally Rod Serling’s adaptations and writings really resonate with me. While I mainly just watch The Twilight Zone I have read one of his books and found the tales to be just as odd as an episode of TZ. If you’ve read any of my work you tend to get a sense of weird plots, twist endings or things that just aren’t normal. Well this is because of my admiration for Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. The man was ahead of his time and I’m just one of many people he’s influenced but nevertheless I am grateful that someone like him has such a creative mind because it’s helped in the creation of mine.
Seriously Justin? Yes, seriously. Most people find Shakespeare boring or confusing and I would totally agree with you..but that also didn’t stop me from enjoying his work and being inspired by him. One reason I consider Shakespeare an influence and inspiration is because of the fact that he pretty much created his own language and his simplicity to truly make a drama a drama as well as his way to write a poem. The way he wrote and how he wrote are confusing but the fact that there’s meanings hidden behind his words is what gets me. I like being able to write something and the person has to read it a few times to understand, I like doing that and it’s because of Shakespeare. I find his sonnet’s brilliant and some of his plays tolerable especially Macbeth so yes Shakespeare is an inspiration of mine.
You may not recognize his name but you’ve probably seen some of his work. Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, The Big Bounce, etc. He also wrote the tv series Justified on FX. I started reading Leonard after I began watching Justified. After I read one of his books I was hooked. I enjoy the way he tells a story whether it’s crime or a western. He really creates a visual of the scene in a book and the characters are likable and that really spoke to me. After reading a few of his works and watching a few movies I was inspired by him. I tend to keep reading more of his books to become more inspired by him.
Frost is an inspiration because of the beautiful way to which he wrote poetry. Also I find “The Road Not Taken” to be a great metaphor for life that I find myself using frequently in my own life choices. I haven’t quite read as much Frost but I’ve read enough to be inspired and influenced by him.
I’m not sure if this is surprising or an of course you are because every poet is somehow inspired by her. I am inspired by Emily Dickinson for the somber way in which she told a poem. Her sadness spoke volumes and sometimes when I’m sad I find myself channeling my inner Emily trying to find the words to express how I feel.
This one probably surprises people. Hughes has a few poems that are quite short but the meaning and feeling behind them are so strong and powerful that one can’t help but feel inspired. I like Hughes for his realness, his ability to capture your attention in such quick simplicity. He is an underrated inspiration of mine.
Like most kids during the 90's I grew up reading Goosebump books. I didn’t read much but when I did I collected and read the Goosebumps series. Stine wrote for children and teens so I feel when it comes to dimmed down horror I take my inspirations from him. Also some of his ideas are pretty creative.
|Posted on June 5, 2017 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
One thing I have been hearing since I first became an author was how you should “Build an E-mail list” or “Build an Author Platform”. At first I didn’t really understand it and then after I found out more about it I felt it didn’t apply to me or that I couldn’t do it. For a while I kept coming across the idea and seeing others talk about it and insist it’s importance while I continued to brush it off. Recently I have found out even more about building an e-mail list such as how it works, what a person needs and how they can build and gain followers. There are several things I have come to realize that all authors need in order to build an e-mail list. I’m sure everyone knows of these or at least has a general idea of them but I would still like to go over them as I would like to share my findings and thoughts about them.
I realized is that building an e-mail list requires you to use an exterior mass e-mail site or app such as MailChimp. Call me crazy but I was always under the assumption that you could use your regular e-mail and that made me think it was time consuming and even an out of date practice. I guess we all have silly thoughts when we don’t know the first thing about something and don’t do our research. I have come to realize now that sites like MailChimp help with the e-mail list process and allow a person to message their followers and subscribers all at once. I decided to go with MailChimp because it’s the one site I’ve heard about most often and most recent so bare with me if you use another similar site. I have started using it for a second time(first time I was not ready and didn’t have anything planned out) and it’s been a bit of a stressful headache. It took me a while to get used to but I was able to create a profile and upload some members from my website along with others who have given me their e-mail because they requested I add them when I get a list started.
A landing page. For the longest time I didn’t know what a landing page was. Sure I had seen them countless times on websites but never gave a thought as to what they were, how they worked or that they had their own name. A Landing page is a page on your site or a page that pops up when you click a link. It’s purpose is to get people to join your e-mail list and of course you should give something in exchange for their e-mail such as a free book or access to something. When I typed in “What is a landing page?” It gave me a page that lists sites that allow you to create one, I went with the first one, Instapage. I had no problem making a landing page after I figured out how everything worked of course. My issues were well. hopefully questions everyone else has had. Where do I put my landing page? How do I set it up to connect people to my e-mail list? Where and how do I promote a landing page? Luckily MailChimp allowed me to sync my list and account to Instapage so anytime someone becomes a follower it adds them. I still have a bit of learning to do but I sent out my first mass e-mail to my followers and so far so good.
Another thing I have realized is that while building an e-mail list sounds intimidating, seems challenging and time consuming you have to at least try to build one because you need people who enjoy what you have to say, what your write and the work you put out. It’s hard enough putting out a work to everyone and then trying to promote and market it. A list of followers that you can e-mail allows you to have just that, a following. If these people are into your work then they are the first people you tell, they are the ones who will be interested and maybe even help spread the word about you and your work and build your list. I recently watched a webinar where this author went from having no sales and no followers to over 30,000 followers and an annual income so high that he was able to quit his day job. Now I’m not saying that this will happen for everyone but it should at least serve as a goal, as something to look at and make you realize that building an e-mail list not only works but isn’t all that bad if you really try and apply yourself. So why am I sharing all this with you? Because I want you to know that I’m trying it out, I am finally going to try and build an e-mail list, author platform or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m ready to try to expand my reach and hopefully gain a solid following and one thing I would love to hear is your thoughts and your experiences on the matter. God knows I’ve seen enough people talk about it already but now my eyes are wide open and I’m ready to try this out and I’d love to hear how building an e-mail list has worked for you or maybe how it hasn’t whatever your thoughts and experiences are I’d like to hear them.
So it’s been two years since I wrote this post so I thought I’d give an update on how it’s gone for me. Started off I only had about 20 subscribers and I didn’t really interact with them. A while back I gained over 400 new subscribers as part of an event I took part in on Facebook. It’s a bit unconventional but at the same time is totally legit. Those who were not interested quietly and quickly unsubscribed and I ended up with around 417. I set up my five e-mails to which all new subscribers receive upon signing up. They got them within a few days and over a week. I even sent them my first book free as well as create a book just for any new subscriber. My results? Well here’s the downside to my new subscribers. Since gaining them I have seen no new reviews on my book and have not had anyone write me back their thoughts on questions I’ve asked them. I have seen a spike in members for a group they can join but it’s been quiet for the most part. However, I also realize that I need to keep up my list and keep writing them to let them be a part of something and give them value. If you don’t interact with them and keep them updated you’ll never see the results you want.
Finally, for those who have a mailing list exactly how many e-mails/newsletters should you send out? You don’t want to come off as a spammer and if your not always busy some e-mails may be forced. You want to set up a series of e-mails your subscribers will automatically receive upon signing up. You can spread them out to when they will send, every couple days or a week are usually recommended. After that It’s good to touch base with them upon your choosing. I would suggest once or twice a month so they are updated but your also not bombarding them with e-mails. Since I wrote this e-mail I have since started using Mailerlite, a site that allows free e-mail automation unlike Mailchimp to which you have to pay. Below are my e-mail lists, one for my crime thriller fans and the other for my horror and horror poetry fans.
|Posted on March 13, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
Are you on Pinterest? If not and you don't know what it is, Pinterest is a social media site that allows you to create "boards" of pretty much anything that interests you. You find pictures on the site called "pins" and you pin these images to boards of that particular topic. You can also upload outside images to the site and put them in boards. As a writer I find Pinterest very useful as it gives people a way to see what interests me, gives me a way to put images related to my books and it helps me with promoting and marketing. With that being said, here are five reasons you should be on Pinterest.
5. Everyone Else is Doing It-
Okay so normally when you hear everyone else is doing it, it usually means you shouldn’t but in this case you should. Your most likely using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so Pinterest should be the next place for you to be on for social media. It’s similar to Instagram but the setup is a bit different in terms of pins and also how you reach people also differs. The best part of Pinterest is you’ll have fun putting together boards of things your interested in and what your audience is interested in which is..why you should be on there because everyone is doing it and some of that “everyone” could be your potential audience.
4. Fun and Necessary-
Most social media is designed so we can reach people and we have fun doing it. Whether it’s for business reasons, connecting with friends or even airing out our dirty laundry(drama) we have fun doing it. The thing I find unique about Pinterest is not only do I feel I need to be on there putting out valuable content but I have fun relating that content out. This is the case with any social media site or site in general, you want to put out that quality content but if you don’t have a bit of fun doing it then are you really making the most of your opportunity? Pinterest’s setup, boards and connecting with people are all devised in such a way that it makes for a unique experience that you will find is both necessary, fun and most of all it works.
As stated in #5 your likely already on the most used social media sites so why not change it up or expand your reach? Sure all sites aren’t for everyone but you should at least take a chance on Pinterest. You will find you can like so many things that others also like and you can target people and reach your potential audience all because you decided to expand your social media and try a new site.
2. Other Sites Aren’t Cutting It-
If your like me certain sites work for you while others just simply aren’t. This is similar to diversity but in this case your trying Pinterest because other sites just aren’t your style, pace and you can’t get into a rhythm on there. So if other sites aren’t helping you out then give this one a try. Maybe it’s for you maybe it’s not but at least take the time to try it out and see how it goes. Also it’s important to remember you can never be on too many social media sites but if some aren’t working for you perhaps it’s time to swap out some in place of new ones.
1.You Can Reach Your Audience-
This sounds familiar does it? Well it should seeing as I’ve mentioned it in the other four. One thing about Pinterest is you can create a board for pretty much anything. As a writer you can create boards for promoting and marketing, your genre, quotes, other authors, characters, etc. You’ll find that not only do people share some of these interests but some are readers or people looking for new material to check out, enter: you! Chances are people will like your boards and if they are really interested they may check out your blogs, your site and even your work. It all depends on which stuff you post and share. Not only will you make a connection and get shares but you’ll likely in some way reach your audience and after all that’s what you want more than anything.
Feel free to check out my Pinterest board @ http://www.pinterest.com/JustinBienvenue and feel free to follow me if anyone of my boards interests you.
|Posted on January 30, 2017 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you. If you’re like me then you genuinely thought the same thing, most celebrities don’t write their own books. This bothers me and it’s for a few certain reasons to which I will explain. Before I explain why let’s get to the big question, why don’t celebrities write their own works? Well the sad part is many will claim they do to which when journalists dig deeper and find out the celeb didn’t write their own book the individual gets all defensive or will insist they did. So why don’t most of them write their own books? They’re celebrities, that would mean they actually have to work, to sit down ad do something. They live busy lives so when they aren’t busy and want to stay in the public eye they will come up with the idea of writing a book, only they don’t write it, they have ghost writer’s, publicists or an actual writer to do it for them. Here are reasons why I find it personally insulting that celebrities come out with books and then claim they wrote them and why you should to.
1. Best-Seller? They Didn’t Write It!- One thing any author will tell you whether they’re traditional or self-published is to become a best-selling author. It’s hard enough for any author to compete against famous authors who are sure in best-sellers like Stephen King, J.K Rowling, Stephanie Meyer or E.L James so imagine how an author must feel when they find out a celebrity has a book out and it’s a best-seller and that celebrity most likely didn’t write it? Celebrities such as Snooki, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber and Nicole Richie just to name a few have all come out with books which have within a week have become best sellers. What’s the problem? I’m positive they didn’t write their own books. It’s upsetting to know that us authors struggle to promote and market a book and all a celebrity needs to do is say they wrote one and they get all the publicity and sales in the world for it despite not really doing anything then talk to the person that wrote it. As an author it’s a painful thing all to real these days.
2. Book Signings Turnout Through the Roof- Naturally any time a celebrity makes an appearance somewhere the turn out is huge, in the thousands or even the millions. This means that they have tons of people coming out to have their book signed just so they can meet the celebrity which means it really isn’t about the book at all. Sure, some dedicated fans will read the book but I feel it’s mainly all a ploy for the celebrity to make an appearance just so they can benefit and stay in the spotlight. As authors, many of us struggle to market out books offline unless of course we one, know people and have good connections or two, we are famous.
3. B,C,D-List Celebs Making Profits- I don’t typically go around marking which celebrities are top list stars but let’s be honest we kind of have an idea of where certain people fall. So what can be worse than being buried on getting to the best sellers list then famous authors and celebrity A-listers? Knowing celebrities that are barely even known are getting to the top-sellers list. Yes obviously they have more connections than you do but they are also barely as known as you are or just simply in the spotlight for being in the spotlight. They don’t really do anything. So yes they could write their own books but they most likely don’t and it’s all the more reason you should be offended as an author.
4. They Don’t Need The Royalties- If they truly wrote the book and they really cared, they would donate all proceeds of their royalties to charities but let’s be serious and realistic about this. How many of the celebrities that I listed above and the ones you like do you think donate their royalties? Probably not many. Call me crude for making such an assumption but I’m going to say I think it’s accurate. Yes as authors we are in it for the enjoyment because we love to write, because we want readers to enjoy our work but for some of us we rely on those royalties so imagine a celebrity making a ton off a crappy book their connection wrote for them that ends up a best seller and they make a ton off it they don’t even need. The older celebrities that write memoirs and auto-biographies will very likely donate their royalties away because they’ve accumulated enough over the years not to carebut for the rest? Greed, greed, greed.
5. 15 Minutes of Fame- A celebrity makes one film or stars in one show or does one momentous thing. They then decide to capitalize on this by writing a book. This book of course becomes a best-seller because that person is hot right now coming off appearances. This is what we know as 15 minutes of fame. We all sometimes want it but for the book industry? No. We as authors bust our butts and make a living doing what we love. We love to write and we make this our careers so how would you feel if a celebrity decided to go off on a whim and write a book just because they are “trending” right now? Exactly, they are hardly doing anything to market or promote themselves and yet you’ve been doing this a while and you’re lucky you can get any recognition. Maybe try to do something that gives you 15 minutes of fame?
You can read more on this topic from this article here
|Posted on January 23, 2017 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Weird West, what is it? According to a definition it’s a literary subgenre of Westerns combined with another, usually horror, science fiction or fantasy. The weird west genre is distinct because it is known for blending not only a typical western with outside elements but also combines fictitious settings and characters with real ones. Meaning you could see a made up character interacting with a notorious western outlaw like Jesse James or riding the western front with Teddy Roosevelt. Despite it’s “weird” term it is to be taken with a grain of salt and a person who wishes to write it should remember to not stir away from the “western” aspects of it because after all westerns in themselves are certainly unique. The western genre really doesn’t need any added tropes or coating so to speak and in many ways seems stern to itself like a firm law book in the crime genre. However the intrigue and fact that someone came along and did change the western genre and did add a fun and strange yet captivating and unique twist makes it all the more powerful and interesting. The genre was first introduced in the 1970's and while it’s hard to imagine it being smaller and virtually lesser known than it already is today it does in fact trace all the way back to the 70's. It became popular during the 1990's by author Joe. R Lansdale who usually combines the original western with a violent and graphic type of horror.
One question one might ask is what goes into making it “weird”? Well aside from the settings and characters there’s a few things that make this so. For one it usually involves a typical Western plot created into a unique one whether it’s a sci-fi element or fantasy one. Also technology is a big factor as weapons are usually modified to a fictional aspect but defined and told in a manner which seems plausible. When you take a strange place a western would not normally take place, add cohesive characters with real life historical figures and give them or have them use modern or created technology you make a weird western. Let this not be all you take from it, there is so much more that a weird west is besides oddities there’s still the gritty feel and aspects that make it a western and this cannot be ignored. A weird western is still a western and I feel many forget that and some just assume it’s crap because they are ruining what makes a western great, not true. You can still have a true to itself western and have the added features that add the weirdness it’s just the author has to be able to create the balance of both. It’s just like any two genres that come together or weird tag that gets added onto a genre, you can still stay true to the core and have a little fun in the process.
One thing that has perhaps given the genre it’s niche of people is the tv shows and movies of it that have been released over the last decade. This like many genres has helped it resonate and find it’s fan base. It could be argued all day long whether or not people read as much as they used to or even read westerns as much as they used to but one thing can be certain is that the weird west has helped bring a lot of younger readers to the western genre. Some tend to ride the line and border of what classifies as a “weird western” meaning despite not having to do with a straight up western the plot and idea is still that of one. This doesn’t seem like a weird western but rather a show or book of another genre. One genre that has evolved from this and people tend to confuse or blend with the weird west is “Steampunk”. In some ways steampunk can be weird west at times but over the last few years it’s taken on it’s own things that make it so. Hollywood has definitely helped in making these genres more profound and acclaimed and while the genre is still relatively unknown there is a group and fan base for it as well as writers and the more exposure it gets then the more the genre will grow. What makes any genre popular is the readers, they cannot be forgotten or be given less credit. A genre can have a ton of writers of it but without readers it’s merely a catchy hobby writers wish to take on together. The readers are what get the writers to write more and give the genre exposure and it seems very evident that this of all genres would be the very definition of this statement.
As a writer of the genre I admit it’s a challenge. Not to write but to write knowing the fan base isn’t out in the open like most but deep within the confines of what classifies as sub-genres. When I read my first weird western I was intrigued and it wasn’t until I wrote my own, A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West that I gained a new found appreciation and understanding of what the genre is and how it could potentially work if enough people tuned into it. What I did however was stick to the basics of what people love about westerns and what Joe R. Lansdale did, write a western and then coat it with weird features. I stuck to what makes a Western a western and only when I did that did I feel it was okay to add the weird elements to it. When you write in such a genre it’s necessary to tackle the main genre first so this way you stay on point and on course. Also like Lansdale I felt the Western horror was the best way to go, for me more so because I feel as though horror is at an all time high right now. So I took a lesser appreciated genre and combined it with one of the most popular and that makes for what? A Weird Western, a genre not really known but appreciated and growing more and more everyday.
|Posted on January 16, 2017 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
Horror poetry? Horror and Poetry? That's quite a combo! This is what I hear when I tell people I write horror poetry. While never turned off by the idea most ponder the two words tgether for a moment before saying one of the three things above which is usually followed by that's interesting. I don't blame them for their surprised reactions I mean who writes horor poetry anymore? Aside from myself I've only come across a few others who are writers of the unique genre. Is horror poetry a thing? I say yes and not because I write it but because like any small niche genre, there's writers of it and an audience for it. I personally became a writer of horror poetry after reading and becoming inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, the legend of horror poetry himself. In many ways I think we are all inspired by Poe when it comes to horror. His way with words so dark and morbid can really resonate with people. I will explain my enjoyment of writing in this genre and what I think of it by responding to quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.
“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.”
Agreed Edgar, it is not yet settled. One must think of us as mad or at least a bit off in the brain to have such enjoyment by combining a genre that is meant to terrify with one that is usually written with real emotion and calm simple feelings. But is horror not what brings out peoples feelings? Feelings of raw emotion such as fear, worry and sadness? I think it is a lofty intelligence and one that only someone who enjoys horror can really explain or understand.
“When I was young and filled with folly, I fell in love with melancholy”
If by melancholy you mean the simple measure and average writing technique that is poetry then I too fell in love with it. I too from a young age fell for things of average meaning and while poetry is not average I believe people think it is so hence the reason it's a melancholy thought.
“A mystery, and a dream, should my early life seem.”
I hear ya there Mr. Poe. I feel at times that my life has been a mystery and at times a dream, but aren't all of our lives like this in a way? We know not what the future holds nor the upcoming present and yet with all that there's still the mystery of life, a dream of an unbelivable notion that some of the things life throws at us we think of it as not reality. By all these things we cherish life, we cherish mystery and we make the most of our slumbering or unslumbering dreams.
"I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of Beauty."
Oh preach it Edgar, preach the good word! Poetry is beautiful, rhythmic, stylish and tells a story through feeling. Poetry is a way of life, a beautiful sunrise, a luminating moonlight, a snowflake falling to the ground, a person, a place, anything you can take around you. This in part is why we are able to take horror and mix it with poetry to create beautiful poems(although some may disagree otherwise).
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality."
I see this in two ways. One just as it's written and to be taken and the other as there is no barrier or rule that says horror cannot be poetry or poetry can not be horror. In the deep regions of horror poetry is read and in the deep inner meaning of words written as poetry there is horror. For poetry is like anything else, when it is broken down, horror can be taken from it. It is this taking away that some such as you and I Edgar embrace. For we take the horror and coat our poetry with it, we make the horror the focus, the word, the reality. I think that Edgar is what horror poetry is all about.
If you wish to experience horror poetry then go grab yourself a Edgar Allan Poe book or grab one of my Macabre Masterpiece books.
|Posted on January 16, 2017 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
As an author one thing I rely on is social media. Like many I have my good share of social media accounts but the one I honor and like the most is Twitter. Why? Well for one I've just gotten so accustomed to using it and two it really has a great layout and helps me get what I wish to say and share out to people. So if you're like me then chances are your on Twitter. However, not everyone is doing what they should be on there and they aren't taking advantage of the simplest things that can make their experience so much better, Here are five things you should be doing on twitter to better yourself.
1.Comment Back, RT, and Like Posts-
One thing you should absolutely be doing is commenting back when someone tweets out to you, it's just the nice thing to do. It helps build rapport with people and it shows that you care about your followers and can take a little time to anwser them back. You should also be ReTweeting content of (RT) for short. Whether it's someones pinned post or something someone said that really spoke to you, if it did then retweet it! It's that simple. Studies show the best time to retweet something is at night so while it's not best to tweet during certain times after 5 one thing you can still do is go over your feed and Retweet what you like. Again this shows that you care about what your followers are saying. Then of course there's liking posts. Just like facebook only when you like it, it saves it to your likes list so you can go back and look it over. I myself like things that I plan on going over and can use later on. Liking posts just like the other two shows that you care and value people's content just like you'd want them to value yours.
2. Participate in Chats-
One thing I've recently started doing is taking part in Twitter chats. Chats are a way to become a part of a group that discusses topics that you may care about. For instance since I write I want writing, marketing and promoting tips so I take part in #BookMarketingChat, #TwitterSmarter, which is a way to use twitter to better your marketing and #BufferChat. Taking part in chats can help you and help others so you can all learn off each other and build. What you can do is go to TwitterChat.com and find a chat you may like to be part of or in the likely case your following someone who takes part in some. Chats are a great way to pick up some tips and advice as well as share what you may know on the particular topic. Join in, get a feel of what it's about and take part. It's a great way to meet new people, it's fun anf you learn stuff as well, now how about that?
3. Make Lists-
Another thing I've recently gotten into the habit of doing is making the most of lists. Lists are a way for you to seperate certain followers whose content you value or want in a certain place so you can easily access it. It's good to make your own lists for example I have lists for my Best Followers(people with the blue check marks), Best Twitter Tools as well as people a part of Buffer which I use frequently. Keep the lists small between 5-12 people so you can easily manage it and not lose peoples posts. It's a great way to organize certain followers pretty much. People will add you to lists, I'd recommend ignoring these. A lot of times people will like something you posted and add you to a list like "Awesome user" ignore these, it's for their benefit and there's usually hundreds of people on the list and you'll just follow people whose content isn't relevant to you.
4. Go Through Your Followers
It's always good to clean. When it comes to Twitter this is no different. You may notice your followers number goes down, if your smart you won't care, it's not worth getting upset over it happens. What you can do is go through your own list and see who you no longer wish to or need to follow. What I do is unfollow anyone who isn't following me or if they aren't I try to remember why I'm following them. If they aren't doing either I unfollow them. It's always good to follow someone who follows you but obviously if they don't interest you you don't have to follow back. So go over your followers and filter out what you can, you'll follow new people don't worry. Finally, if they don't have a picture and they have that dumb Twitter egg, unfollow them immediately, just don't follow them, there's no need. You can use a Twitter site/app if you really want help unfollowing people but personally I do it myself as it helps me better manage and I know more about who I follow then the computer may suggest.
5. Manage Your Tweeting Wisely-
The last one is the easiest. Manage what you tweet out and what you want to say. If you want to say something about marketing and know a good time where people will see it then schedule to post it at that particular time. Make the most of your 140 characters. We all have times where we have lots to say but there's not enough room to say it all, that's happens. Condense what you have to say and make it work. If you want to reach people then throw in two fitting hashtags so more people will see, but don't use more than two, the more you hashtag the less it'll be seen. If your like me you tend to tweet about your main topic mine being writing, promoting, marketing, books, etc. However you can also be personal and be yourself every once in a while too. The idea is you want to manage your time on Twitter wisely and accordingly. The better you manage, the better results and the better results te better you'll feel.
If you liked my 5 simple tips and want to get a better idea of these practices then feel free to follow me @JustinBienvenue
|Posted on August 17, 2016 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on August 2, 2016 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Whenever I come up with a great idea for a story or poem what I do is either run to my computer to write the basis of it or make a quick note of it on my phone using a notepad app. What I then do is what I made this thread for. After I write an idea, unless I have a ton of thoughts for it or it's dying for me to write it I usually let it simmer so to speak. I put it on the back burner and let it just sit there and I don't get started on it until I think it's the right time and I have enough for it. Two things usually pop into my head, a clever or gripping title or a really good idea for a story. I almost always decide to let it simmer not because I don't want to rush but because I want to see if it's worthy of becoming anything. I want to see if I still feel it's a good idea a day. a week or a month from when I think about it. Also I will try to let it simmer so I can build more on it or if a better title comes into play after I think of more on an idea. Finally a big reason I will let an idea simmer is because I don't know whether I want to make it into a poem, short story or even my next book. It usually becomes a poem or story and only when I have a mind blowing title do I set it aside for a possible book idea. This last part ties into a similar blog post I wrote a while back on how do you decide what becomes a short story or your next book.
I do on occasion boil ideas. This is usually the case with poems. A lot of times I will think of a title or a few lines and rather than let it sit I will just get started on writing it. I will also on occasion boil a story by starting it but then it let simmer by stop writing about it. This usually happens because of writer's block which is why I tend not to boil my ideas. To me there's nothing worse than having a great idea for a story and getting started on it only to stop half way through because I ran out of ideas and where to go next. I'd like to think I'm not the only person who does this in that I lean toward simmering ideas but on occasion will get started right away. I feel a story needs to be just right and the only way to do that is to do what works best for you, in the case of myself it's letting it sit for a while to either build up or realizing it's not that great and I can scrap it to move on to something more creative. How about you? What do you do when you have a thought for a story? Do you let it simmer for a while or do you just get started and cook away into your writing?
|Posted on July 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
Nothing in life is free. You've heard the saying constantly and more and more as we rely on things the more they are no longer free. There are two things in life to know about any product, website or selling point, they are either not free or they are free until they aren't and eventually there will be a price. Obviously I'm being very broad here in the sense of referring to "free" with everything we spend money on but let's narrow it down to the publishing and book industry. Whether it's publishing a book or promoting a book you as a writer have the choice on whether or not you wish to spend money. If you want to publish you're book for free your inclined to do so, if you want to spend a little money or spend a lot because you don't feel like doing any work than you're also inclined to do that. Promoting can in a sense be the same way but leans more toward not being free. You can promote your book for free however you will soon realize that it only goes so far and that if you wih to make big on some of the stuff your doing now for free that....you'll have to spend money. This article will take a deeper look at the promoting and marketing aspect of books and how as the infamous saying goes nothing's ever free.
The first thing to realize is you can be successful using free ways to promote and market it just takes an investment, lots of dedicated time and sticking to what works best for you. However in most cases and if you're like me you wish to promote and market for free but not entirely for free which I've come to realize just isn't going to work. My philosophy is this: Promote for free and spend small and only when you have to. The problem? All the small things I find that will be useful to me aren't free at all. Call me crazy but I'm mostly optimistic about things when it comes to selling books I couldn't be further from it. If you manage where you wish to spend your money then chances are you'll be okay but I feel like the business is getting more and more about money and less about the value and enjoyment of the books themselves. It seems like no matter what promotion you want to use, what website you want to join or what ad you want to use it's either not free or it's way too expensive. I'm a realist, I see things for what they are, I also like guarantees and making my money back. Does that make me a bad person? No it just means I like to know that what I invest in has promise, is going to work, and I not only get my money's worth but then some. Of course not everything can be guaranteed but again it just seems like in this business you really have to know where your ducks are nevermind have them all in a row.
What is the truth? You're going to spend some money to promote and market, it's inevitable. The key is to spend accordingly and when you can except there are certain things that must be constant and are monthly. For instance if you want a top notch website with unlimited access to things you have to pay a fee plus if you want your own domain you have to pay a fee. If you want to join a mass e-mail site like MailChimp and send out outmated e-mails theres a fee. Get past 2,000 subscribers? There's a fee. If you want to join two just two promotional author sites there's a monthly fee. You want to join a class on how to help your sales? There's a big fee. This is what gets me, if you add all that up it's a big sum and if you don't have income your not exactly keen on forking all of it over nevermind if you have it. What all these fees say to me is your spending all this so you can have ways to sell your book but however much your spending on all this you now have a goal that you must reach or else it's a fail. You don't have to agree with this premise but it's not wrong. By spending money monthly on your website, domain, two promotion sites and your automated e-mail subscriber list your giving yourself a goal of sales you have to make and it isn't realistic, what it is is a vicious cycle. Priorities are key here and I more than anyone am all about organization and making money but as the saying goes, in order to make money you need to spend money. Yes but you also don't want to invest everything and end up broke either.
This isn't a rant so what is it that I'm saying? I'm saying nothing is free, I'm saying that not everyone has the money to invest and spend everywhere they please. I'm saying that I know it's a process but they don't make it easy but then again why have it easy when you need to work? Ah another cycle or irony. You're already working yourself to the bone to write your books so why should you have to work at spending money on so many things? I suppose a very simple answer is well if this helps your books making a ton of money and your getting tons of reviews out of it then you shouldn't have to worry...it's just not realistic or guaranteed enough to attempt though. Take time and research what you want to spend money on. Manage your money wisely and think of how much it will cost you yearly rather than monthly and if you can pay something in one shot you probably should. Too many sites have these pay later or pay monthly, yes it's convenient but I'm talking about the ones where it's one shot and done. I'm talking about pay once, don't worry so you can focus on your monthly fees. Your books aren't going to sell themselves and eventually your going to have to spend money, all I'm saying at this point and the message to take here is to figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it. Spend accordingly and make sure your investments are the right ones.
|Posted on July 11, 2016 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
So your looking at your website stats and your sales on Amazon and you notice you have a decent amount of traffic from other countries. What does this mean? Should you do something about it and if so, what? Before we answer these questions let's first understand the basics. When you create a website and you put up a page for your books and you put out great content in blogs(you are putting out quality content right?) naturally people are going to visit your site. Not only will people visit your site and check it out but chances are they may be from another country. Let's first explain how it is your getting all this traffic from other countries. It comes down to tags, hashtags and most importantly; keywords. When you put tags and keywords into your titles and posts there are people out there looking for the very type of information your providing on your blogs. If your using the proper tags and keywords then chances are your page comes up first when they type in certain keywords and since people in other countries all like books and learning about certain types of information this is why you get visits from them. Since creating my site back in 2011 I have seen people from dozens upon dozens of countries including small islands I didn't even know existed. But is it a big deal and should you embrace appealing to other countries? The answer is yes.
When you get any type of publicity, acknowledgement or sales in any place you're going to try to figure out where, why and then try to capitalize on it to get even more. When these sales and acknowledgements are coming from other countries then just like any sale your going to analyze it, ask yourself why and try to appeal and tackle that aspect. One thing that would be good to do is to see why they are targeting a book of yours or content you provide and make the most of it. You should try to get sales any way you can and make the most of any opportunity this especially includes going after potential customers in other countries. It doesn't matter if they are in another country but the simple fact that your being noticed means you should try to embrace it and get sales wherever you can. Remember, any sale is a good sale so if you live in Chicago and you find out someone in Austria has bought your book then look into what made them buy and try to see if you can get more sales in Austria.
I came across a thread on Goodreads where a woman noticed her book on a website that she wasn't familiar with. Naturally she assumed at first glance that it was a piracy site but it was in fact a book site from the Phillippines called National Book Store. This is where people from the Phillippines can get books and they can due to the fact that Kobo owns them so they are an affiliate of Kobo. I checked it out and typed my recent book Opium Warfare which is available on Kobo into the search and sure enough it came up. I then looked at the price, figured out how much it translates to in U.S dollars and then I asked myself if I should try to appeal and target to people in the phillippines. If I did all I'd have to do is refer them to that site and it would likely count as a sale for me because it's owned by Kobo. If you're struggling to sell in your country is it a bad idea to try and appeal to another? I suppose it depends but I think in the long run no. As I stated earlier a sale is a sale no matter where it's from so if anything just broaden your target audience and try to appeal to them in a different way than you would your normal audience, at least when it comes to trying to reach them. Should you appeal to other countries? Absolutely. Make the most of any opportunity that comes your way.
|Posted on July 6, 2016 at 11:30 PM||comments (0)|
As authors we have all been told to try or have at least thought of trying Facebook Ads. First and for most if your an author and you don't have a Facebook author page then you need to go make one right now(Go, Go, Go!). One thing we always here is why Facebook stinks when it comes to promoting because they don't let your followers see your posts. Well newsflash: Facebook wants to make money just like everyone else. Facebook Ads are not the worst thing in the world, believe me it took me some convincing but 2 webinars and a ton of research later and I can sit here and tell you that running a Facebook Ad is something you need to try at least once. I also recommend researching how they work or for an even better idea of how to run one smoothly that you check out some webinars from Mark Dawson as he has made millions from running Facebook Ad's and is a master craftsman at them. A Facebook Ad is the thing to do but what do you run an ad for? Well I will give you a rundown of what you should and should not make a Facebook ad for.
What to run a Facebook Ad for:
Lead Generation Ad- This is where you run an ad to gain followers by obtaining their e-mail address and you do so by using the ad to bring the person to a landing page. A landing page is where you tell the person if they join your mailing list they will receieve something free from you such as a book in a series, a character graph, an exclusive freebie, etc. A lead generation is the recommended ad to run if your considering what to run an ad for. It's a great place to start because naturally you want to build a following to gain fans and frequent buyers of your book and you do so by this. It's recommended over sales directly because your giving people free stuff and if they like what you have to say and your work that your offering all for free then chances are you gain not only their trust but you've made them a fan and constant buyer of your works whenever they come out.
To Get Sales Directly- First off you'd click on "Send People to Your Website" to run an ad to sell your books directly. You can choose to send them to your website or you can send them to Amazon, it's up to you. I've been told this isn't the ideal thing to run an ad for but it's certainly not the worse as it's second to Lead Generation ads. This is for when you want to run an ad to gain sales without wishing to build an e-mail list, Also it's good if your like me and your still in the process of getting the landing page made and trying to get more e-mails. Running an ad for sales is a good way to test the waters and see just how good your ad is. If it's good enough and you target the right people then not only will you get more sales but you may even get return customers without having to get them to your landing page. So getting sales directly is another good reason to run an ad.
Promote Your Page(Get More Followers)- This is a good thing to run an ad for if your just starting out a Author/Business page and want to gain some followers. Of course you want to target the right audience just like you would with any other ad. I actually ran my only ad for this back when I was a couple months in to having created my page. I generated around 150-250 followers and I targeted people who were fans of my two books at the time and the type of writing I do. I would also say this its good to run this for when your getting ready to do a giveaway on another page. Of course you can run an ad for that too but in the event you want to focus on the giveaway directly and not have to worry about promoting it from all spots. Basically it's better to run an ad for your page as a whole than it is to run an ad to boost your individual posts.
Raise attendance for an Event- As I stated above perhaps you want to build up your followers as a secondary thing while your running a giveaway on another page. Well if you want to run a giveaway and tell people on Facebook about it you can and should run an ad for that as well. Again you want to identify your audience, target them as you would with any other ad and tell them about the giveaway or whatever type of event it might be and explain where and why they should check it out.
Get video views- If you have a book trailer or made an informative video explaining something or your giving people some promoting and marketing tips then running an ad to get views for the video is a good way to go. I don't know too much about it and I don't know how well it works but it does seem like it could work as good as most ways I've said to run an ad for. It's something to consider.
Increase Brand Awareness- This is new for Facebook ads. It reaches people more likely to pay attnetion to your ads and increases awareness for your brand.
What to NOT run a Facebook Ad For:
Boost Posts- You know when you make a status about your book on your page and you check back in a few hours expecting to see hundreds of views and you only have 17? Or when you have a post doing so well that Facebook suggests you run an ad to boost the post? Yeah..you don't want to do this. The reason you don't want to run an ad for it is because it's redundant and pointless. Imagine running an ad every time you posted something informative? You'd be doing it a lot. It's not realistic and benefits Facebook more than it benefits you. Plus as I opened this section, they want you to run an ad for both your statuses doing poorly and strongly. Facebook's algorithms prevent your posts from reaching all your followers. They base who will see your content based on what they think your followers want to see...dumb right? There is a simple way around this so that you don't have to waste time and money on an ad to boost posts. One thing to do is post images related to what you wish to talk about. Images tend to generate more views then regular text statuses. Also sharing other people's posts tend to get more views because they are feeding off multiple pages. You can also add something if you wish. I will note however that this may no longer be possible due to Facebook changing how you can log in as your business page. Do not run an ad for boosting posts.