How to survive a writing conference

Left to right, Ed Kurtz (The Forty-Two), Hilary Davidson (Blood Always Tells), Todd Robinson (The Hard Bounce), Rob Hart (New Yorked).

I’ve got a new piece up at The Lineup, about how to survive a writing conference. Trust me, it ain’t easy. So much walking! So much drinking! It’s nuts.

Here’s the first tip, for free:


At my first Bouchercon, I went the whole first day without drinking any water. My hangover on day two persisted until the early evening. This year, I forgot to eat dinner one night. With the time difference and the heavy restaurant meals, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Remember, your body has already been hammered by travel (unless you’re lucky enough to be a local). Be smart. And pack some aspirin, just in case.

Click over to see the rest of the article, which is also free.

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On Thursday I’m flying out to Long Beach for Bouchercon, the year’s biggest crime and mystery convention. Last year was my first, and it was a blast, even though it was in Albany, one of the worst cities in America.

(I can say that—I lived in Albany on and off when I was a political reporter. Albany in the winter makes the ice planet Hoth look like a fun and friendly place.)

Here’s a guide to at Bouchercon—what I’ll be doing, what Otto Penzler will be doing, and what our authors will be doing.

You know those book bags you get when you check into the conference? Some of them are going to include a Polis Books sampler, which has the first chapter of New Yorked. I’ll also have a handful of copies of The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella for sale—if you want one, let me know, or track me down at the conference.

Otherwise, I will be bouncing between panels and hanging out at the hotel bar, because, as we all know, that’s where the real business of these cons goes down.

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Two new blog posts to flog, on feminism and ‘The Strain’

Got two new blog posts up on the interwebs. They are very different from each other.

Here’s a piece about why I think The Strain is a dumb television show and how I think it could be better, for LitReactor:

Top 10 Ways to Make ‘The Strain’ Less Stupid

Here’s a piece about having a little girl and being a feminist and wanting to be a better man, for Nailed:

Sweet Potato Girl

One is sarcastic and one is not. Both feature generous use of the word ‘fuck.’ Some things never change. Enjoy.

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On being wary of people who want to take your money—even me.

On Oct. 20 I’m kicking off another round of my marketing class, Sell Yourself, over at LitReactor. It’s a class I love to teach, even though I feel a little uneasy trying to convince people to sign up.

Here’s why: A lot of people are making their bones these days by ripping off writers, trying to teach them the ins and outs of marketing yourself and your writing. Problem is, a lot of what they teach is bullshit.

They might offer the stray nugget of wisdom, but for the most part, it’s padding—services and techniques that are unproven or don’t work, but mentioning them buys a half a day of discussion time. And then it’s easier to justify a multi-week course with an inflated price tag.

That’s why this class is just one week long, with only four units—social media, bios and websites, press and blog outreach, and miscellaneous (newsletters, author photo, online advertising, author promotional services, etc.). I think this stuff is important to cover, but I don’t want to waste anyone’s time either.

Seriously, no one needs LinkedIn. No one needs Pay with a Tweet. No one needs Klout. Fuck Klout. The time you waste with Klout could be better spent writing, or doing literally anything else.

But there are plenty of nuts-and-bolts about this that pass people by. For example, here’s one I’ve been noticing a lot lately.

Twitter. You can respond to people and tag people, right? Here’s an article I wrote for Mulholland Books. They posted a link on Twitter, and I’m tagged in there. Cool! People will read it, and maybe I’ll even get a few extra followers out of it.

Now, here’s a tweet that went up to promote an interview I did at LitReactor with our new erotica instructor, Rachel Kramer Bussel.

One problem: Because my Twitter handle is at the start of the tweet, Twitter considers it a direct conversation. So only people who follow me AND LitReactor will see it. That’s not good—it limits the audience!

You might notice that sometimes people put periods before Twitter handles. Like this:

It’s not terribly elegant, but it’s an easy workaround for this—now all of your followers will see the tweet, instead of just a limited batch.

It’s stuff like this—little things that slip through the cracks—that are important to cover. There are a lot of mistakes that are prevalent in online marketing, for self-published and traditional authors alike. And that’s okay! A lot of this stuff is self-taught because there aren’t a lot of other options.

It’s also easy to make mistakes. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between social marketing and spam. Pro-tip: Blasting your Amazon link to strangers on Twitter is the wrong way to go about it.

Retweets are not currency. Followers are not currency. There’s an art to all of this noise.

Between, LitReactor, and my own work—plus former careers in journalism and PR—I feel pretty good about teaching people this stuff. And I have fun doing it, too! Just yesterday I broke out my social media lecture for review, and already I’m finding I have to update stuff. These things move at the speed of light.

All of this is to say that there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who will try to convince you that you need to spend nearly a grand on an eight-week Twitter course, and those people are assholes. As with all things in life, you should always be a little wary of people who want to take your money.

Be wary of me too!

If you’re interested in learning about the class, check out the sales page, or ping me through the site, or on Twitter or Facebook. We can chat a bit and I can tell you about what we’ll be reviewing.

Class starts soon. It’s going to be fun. And I promise—no bullshit. I’ll teach you the nuts and bolts, I’ll answer your questions, I’ll be honest if I don’t know something, and I’ll give you the tools you need to shore up your marketing.

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Two new blog posts!

Over at LitReactor, I’ve got a new installment in my Path to Publication series. This time I talk about TV rights, sequels, synopses, and show off the pretty new cover for New Yorked.

And over at the Mulholland Books blog, I’ve got a piece that explores a very important question: What do you do with a giant pile of Jim Thompson books?

Only one of the options I discovered involves body disposal.

Go forth and read stuff!

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NEW YORKED revise2

“Most cities are nouns; New York’s a verb.” —John F. Kennedy, quoted in Native’s Guide to New York

Coming in June from Polis Books.

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Path to Publication 3.1: Second Time’s the Charm!

Negotiations are complete. Contract is signed and in the mail. Nobody died. I’d call that a win.

Column is up at LitReactor. Read it here. 

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