Websites

Branding like a boss

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0
February 4, 2014

A while ago, my mate Tom Bicknell jokingly referred to me as the Warrior Scribe, due the fact that I’m a martial arts instructor and a writer. I liked it, it kinda stuck, so I renamed my site. But only in the title graphic. Ever since then I’ve loosely embraced the Warrior Scribe moniker for myself. However, when I went looking for the domain, it wasn’t available. But it also wasn’t being used. Turns out it was owned by an evangelical Christian. When I contacted him and asked if I could buy it, he wanted to know what for. I directed him to this website. He came back laughing that I was all about the devil and such, and his domain was for the word of god. “You wait,” he said, “when I finally get around to using this domain I’ll be spreading the word of god with a power you wouldn’t believe. Cities will fall before my evangelical might!” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that was gist of the old bollocks he was selling.

Anyway, I kept an eye on the domain. In the meantime, I used my new title in various places. It went into my email signature. I started a new Tumblr (as it turned out Posterous was complete arse) and used the named there: http://warrior-scribe.tumblr.com. Although, annoyingly, I had to use a hyphen as the name without the hyphen was already gone. (Don’t bother trying that one – it’s not very good and hasn’t been posted to for four months. Go and enjoy the lunacy of http://warrior-scribe.tumblr.com instead.)

But anyway, I kept an eye on things. And now, like a miracle from god (or a bloke who couldn’t be bothered any more), the domain of www.warriorscribe.com became available. So I bought it. Old Mr Evangelical didn’t destroy as many infidels as he hoped, it would seem. Go on, click it. See what happens.

Welcome back.

Yeah, I’m ridiculously pleased with such a lame fucking result, but I’ve just finished and submitted a trilogy of novels, so this is about where my brain is at right now. The thing is, I don’t really know what else to do with it. Other than having an easier url to tell people. Explaining alanbaxteronline.com doesn’t seem difficult, but it’s quite long and then you have to make sure they use alan and not allen or allan or alun or alwyn or whatever the hell else. Now it’s as simple as saying, “My website? Sure, it’s warriorscribe.com.”

I need to set up email to match, I suppose. Because explaining alan at alanbaxteronline dot com is even harder than the url. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Click any of the pages and it basically defaults back to the old alanbaxteronline.com files anyway as that’s still the hosted site. It’s just using a pseudonym. Like a proper little writer’s website. I might get some new business cards though.

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Thirteen O’Clock Australian dark fiction news and reviews – launched

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February 27, 2012

thirteenoclock square 150x150 Thirteen OClock Australian dark fiction news and reviews   launchedI’m very happy to be able to officially announce this new venture. Myself and writers Andrew McKiernan and Felicity Dowker have put together a new website, to fill a void in the Australian dark and weird fiction scene. Since the untimely demise of Horrorscope, there’s been a gap where good dark and weird fiction can be reviewed and reported. We’re hoping to fill that gap with Thirteen O’Clock. And, after all, you can’t have too many sources of news and reviews in this game. Here are the relevant links:

Thirteen O’Clock website.

Thirteen O’Clock on Facebook.

Thirteen O’Clock on Twitter.

All the details are in the official press release, here.

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Online Spec-Fic magazines you should be reading

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10
February 14, 2012

So I mentioned in my post a few days ago, where I gushed about my love of online magazines, that I would post a follow-up where I list some of the best ones. Here we go then. Please note that this is just a taster based on my own reading habits and by no means definitive. Please do comment below with your favourites so we can all find new good stuff out there. I’ve copied the About section from each of their sites to give you an idea of what they do. Click the title to visit their site.

Online Spec-Fic magazines you should be reading:

Lightspeed

Lightspeed is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine. In its pages, you will find science fiction: from near-future, sociological soft SF, to far-future, star-spanning hard SF—and fantasy: from epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and contemporary urban tales, to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folktales. No subject is off-limits, and we encourage our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Lightspeed was a finalist for the 2011 Hugo Award, and stories from Lightspeed have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award.

Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, every month Lightspeed brings you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Lightspeed, it is our hope that you’ll see where science fiction and fantasy comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.

Clarkesworld

Clarkesworld is a monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine first published in October 2006. Each issue contains at least three pieces of original fiction from new and established authors. Our fiction is also collected by issue in signed chapbooks, ebook editions/subscriptions and in our annual print anthology, Realms.

Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons is a magazine of and about speculative fiction and related nonfiction.

Speculative fiction includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, and all other flavors of fantastika. Work published in Strange Horizons has been shortlisted for or won Hugo, Nebula, Rhysling, Theodore Sturgeon, James Tiptree Jr., and World Fantasy Awards.

The Red Penny Papers

One rainy afternoon, I found my dear sister-in-law alone in the sitting room. To my shock and potential mortification, she had my collection of sensational literature out of its (obviously inadequate) hiding spot behind the leather-bound editions of Thackeray. She looked up from an eight-part adventure of Black Bess to say, “My dear Maggie! What is this rubbish?”

“Clara, my love, they’re adventures.”

“They’re those– those red pennies!”

“You mean penny bloods, my dear? Or perhaps penny dreadfuls?”

“Oh, yes. Perhaps I do.”

She looked from the lurid literature in her lap to me, and then back again several times. And then she finally said, “Have you any more?”

And so were born the Red Penny Papers.

Incidentally, Red Penny Papers are publishing my novelette, The Darkest Shade of Grey, in four episodes, starting this Friday. It’s a story I’m very proud of and I hope you guys like it too.

Wily Writers

The Wily Writers site publishes two short stories per month in both audio and text formats. They host a celebrity editor for each theme, and they choose the stories along with the producer (Angel Leigh McCoy).

They publish only short fiction that falls under the genre umbrella of speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance/mystery/adventure, and have specific themes that they ask writers to follow.

I’ve had great experiences with Wily Writers over the years. They’ve published two of my stories, Stand Off and Declan’s Plan, and I’m the current guest editor, where I’ve picked two great post-apoc stories for this month.

Cosmos

COSMOS is a literary science magazine with a global following. Australia’s #1 science media brand, it reaches 400,000 people every month via a print magazine, a daily online news website and a weekly e-newsletter. Our COSMOS Teacher’s Notes reach 65% of Australian high schools, and we produce a wide range of quality editorial products (such as websites, booklets, posters and DVDs) for a range of clients.

COSMOS internationally respected for its literary writing, excellence in design and engaging breadth of content. It’s the winner of 45 awards, including the Magazine of the Year trophy in both 2009 and 2006, and twice Editor of the Year, at the annual Publishers Australia Excellence Awards. COSMOS has also won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, the Reuters/IUCN Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism, the City of Sydney Lord Mayor’s Sustainability Award and an Earth Journalism Award.

While this is primarily a print magazine, with fiction included in the print edition, they have an excellent online section of fiction for stories they can’t fit in the print edition.

ticon4

ticon4 launched in 2008, the fourth incarnation of TiconderogaOnline, which began way back in 1999.

Originally published by Russell B. Farr, the webzine is now edited by Liz Grzyb. We provide fiction, reviews, interviews and other tidbits to do with speculative fiction.

ticon4 is part of independent publisher Ticonderoga Publications, and is able to present you with excellent fiction for free, through donations and book sales.

Hub

Hub started as a physical magazine in December 2006. Originally intended to sell as a bi-monthly title, with the very best new fiction, features, news, reviews and interviews, the magazine was well-received by all those that read it.

Despite healthy orders and a growing subscriber base, Hub was unable to attract the advertising revenue necessary for this type of magazine to survive, and the print edition folded after just two issues.

Buoyed by the reception Hub had received, I decided to keep the momentum going. Rather than allow Hub to fold, I and co-editor Alasdair Stuart turned the magazine into an electronic journal. Foolishly optimistic, we decided that Hub was to become a weekly magazine, publishing one piece of short fiction every issue, along with regular reviews and occasional features and interviews. The first electronic edition (issue 3) was distributed to around 900 readers on April 20th, 2007.

Kasma SF

Based in Ottawa, Canada, Kasma SF is a completely free online magazine featuring quality science fiction from some of the genre’s brightest new (and sometimes more established) voices. We publish fiction on the first of every month, our blog weekly, so have a look around, have fun, and please check back often.

My story, Mistaken Identity, was published at Kasma SF in 2011.

Redstone

Redstone Science Fiction publishes quality stories from across the science fiction spectrum. We are interested in everything from post-cyberpunk to new space opera. We want to live forever. Get us off this rock.

We have all been reading Science Fiction and Fantasy since we were children. It has been a key element in our lives.

From writing and submitting our own stories, we’ve learned that there are only a handful of online & print magazines that pay a professional rate for original science fiction stories.

We decided that there needed to be one more.

We know the magazine will probably not be profitable, but we have planned for that.

We will focus on producing a quality science fiction magazine and on exploring every opportunity to make Redstone Science Fiction a long-term success.

Abyss & Apex

There’s no About page for me to copy and paste for this one, but Abyss & Apex is a great magazine with consistently good fiction.

Daily Science Fiction

Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome to Daily Science Fiction, an online magazine of science fiction short stories. We publish “science fiction” in the broad sense of the word: This includes sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream—whatever you’d likely find in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. Our stories are mostly short short fiction each Monday through Thursday, hopefully the right length to read on a coffee break, over lunch, or as a bedtime tale. Friday’s weekend stories are longer.

*****

This was only a quick selection, and only a selection of online magazines. Much as I love them, there are loads of great print and other format magazines out there and it’s worth checking them all out. And, if you’re a writer, you should be submitting to all these places too!

So, I know I’ve missed plenty – fill in the gaps. What are your favourite online SF/F magazines? Give us a link in the comments.

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For the love of online fiction magazines

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7
February 10, 2012

I’ve had my work published in just about every medium in which fiction can be published. I’m very proud of that. My novels are in print, ebook and, very soon to be released, audiobook. I’d love to see them make it into graphic novel and film. Maybe one day. My short fiction has been published in print and electronic magazines, print and ebook anthologies, podcasts and online magazines. And one of my stories is currently being adapted into a short film. There was a time when print was considered the only “real” publishing and everything else was a poor cousin at best, an exercise in vanity at worst. That’s changing dramatically.

To be clear, I love my brag shelf. That’s the part of my bookcase which houses all the magazines and books that feature my work. It’s a thing of beauty. I’m a bibliophile and I love to hold books and feel the pages. I love the scent of ink on a glossy magazine page. But, as a writer, I want to be read by as many people as possible. I want people to enjoy my work, talk about it, get something from it and share it with their friends. And I can’t help thinking that we’ve moved to a place where that isn’t best achieved with print any more.

There are numerous ways to get “published” these days, and that in itself can be a problem. I use quote marks there for a reason. Just because a website will post your story on their garish page, pay you nothing and, probably, don’t really care about quality, doesn’t mean you should be dancing in the aisles. It’s quite likely that nobody is reading that page beyond you and the other contributors. And ask yourself, did you read any of their stories?

Of course, anywhere that an editor of any kind chooses your work over someone else’s is cause for celebration – congratulations, you are a published writer. But we should all aspire to higher things. Personally, I aspire to being paid for my work, ideally being paid well, and being read by as many people as possible.

This is where online magazines are really starting to earn a place of reputation. There are many online zines now which are run just like a “proper” magazine, with editors only choosing the best work and actually editing it. With pay scales that venture well into pro-rates, recompensing authors for their painfully extruded word babies, and with a readership numbering into the many thousands. All these things are great for a writer’s career – recognition, payment and readership.

Many of these magazines are using technology to its best advantage, and making themselves into a kind of hybrid model. For example, they may start with an online edition but also make each issue available as an ebook for people to read at their leisure on their Nook, iPad, Kindle or whatever marvel of reading technology they favour. Some sites also produce limited print runs of each issue, or chapbooks, with added value – signed and numbered, maybe – that readers can collect. Some also produce an annual anthology of their stories, or a Best Of the year anthology. Others use a combination of online text and downloadable podcast. All these things can also help to generate income for said online zine and keep it alive and keep it paying its authors.

All these things are getting the blood, sweat and tears of us crazy writers out to the hungry minds of readers in a variety of ways, of which print is arguably the least important. And they’re doing it with those two most important criteria well in evidence – payment and editing. As a result, hopefully, they garner a wide readership.

The other advantage of the primarily online model is the ubiquitous and permanent nature of the thing. If you read a great story in an online magazine, you can tell a friend pretty much anywhere in the world and that friend can instantly access the story themselves. They don’t have to track down a book or magazine, or pay expensive overseas shipping rates. Bang! One new reader, maybe one new fan. With social media, it’s as simple as tweeting a link to spread the magazine joy out among people well beyond your circle of actual friends and family.

Of course, should the website ever go down or get deleted, the work goes with it. Should that friend I mentioned not have an internet connection, they are excluded. That’s one reason I’m a fan of the secondary print/hybrid option (chapbooks, POD anthology, etc.) as that means the work is preserved, in however a limited way, beyond the inevitable EMP that destroys civilisation. Plus, authors get something for their brag shelf. (We’re petty, vain creatures. Love us and love our work, please!)

On that front, and as a slight – well complete and total – tangent, I’ve recently paid fifty bucks to put all my short fiction to date (around 200,000 words of it) into two Print-On-Demand hardcovers. They’re just for my own shelf, a preserved hard copy of my work. It’s easy today with sites like Lulu automating the process. After all, I back up everything I write on hard drive, memory stick and cloud storage. Now it’s easy to back up in print too.

Online magazines are starting to be recognised industry-wide, pulling in all kinds of awards for themselves and the fiction they publish. More power to them, I say. It’s never been easier for writers to reach more people, though of course, it’s still bloody hard to get work accepted by the really high-echelon, pro-paying online zines. But there’s that aspiration again. I plan to continue submitting to those places and thereby continue to support them by offering my work as well as reading the work of others they already publish. And I’ll tell as many people about them as I can. It’s good for me, my career, the magazine in question, and all its readers and fans. In a future post I intend to list a run-down of my favourite online fiction magazines, which is why I’ve avoided mentioning any specific ones here.

Well, I’ll just mention one. My new novelette, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, will be serialised over four weeks at The Red Penny Papers, starting in a week or two. I’ll be sure to let you know when that’s up. As the publication is so imminent, I couldn’t resist a quick plug.

In the meantime, what are your favourite online fiction magazines? Let me know and I’ll try to include them in the future post I mentioned. Do you read much online fiction? Prefer it over magazines? Buy the ecopy later? Share your habits.

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The August Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival

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August 15, 2011

Nicole Murphy has collected a fantastic array of links to keep you busy all week. The August Australian Spec Fic blog carnival is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. So big it’s in two parts.

Part the first is here.

Part the second is here.

Enjoy and share!

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It might be fiction, but it has to be right

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8
July 21, 2011

Things I’ve reserched today:

Ullapool to Stornaway ferry times.

Daylight hours in northern Scotland during winter.

Topographical features of the Isle of Lewis.

The Callanish standing stones.

Any guesses on where my characters might be headed right about now?

I really enjoy research. It’s like travelling without moving, only less Dune-like. I love to set my stories in interesting places and put my characters into testing conditions. In this case, far north eastern Scotland in winter. But it has to be right. I can’t just guess this stuff, even though I know most of the details above to some degree. If the story is going to seem real and convincing, the little details need to be right. Not about right, but exactly right.

What times does the ferry to Stornaway run during winter? Can I match that to the storyline? What time will it get dark during that part of the story?

These things are important. The best bit is that all those things are easily found. The website www.timeanddate.com gives me sunrise and sunset times anywhere I need them. The Calmac ferries website has a downloadable PDF of their summer and winter timetables. The Internet is just about the best thing to happen to research ever. I still use books. You know, the old-fashioned method. But I love being able to look facts up as and when I need them.

It’s fun to be a fiction writer.

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Game changer – J K Rowling, Pottermore and ebooks without a publisher

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15
June 24, 2011

The internet has been abuzz lately since mega-billionaire-super-author, J K Rowling (of Harry Potter fame, in case you’ve been a monk in a cave for more than ten years) announced Pottermore. In a nutshell, it goes like this:

After seven books and eight films and more merchandising than you can fit in George Lucas’s ego, Rowling has now announced a website which will be a complete interactive experience for all ages based on her stories. Along with that she’s announced that for the first time ebook editions of the Harry Potter series will be made available. Well, legal ebook editions that is. Rowling truly is the master at monetising her ideas and characters, having turned some books about wizards at school into an international behemoth across all media.

With Pottermore, as the press release says:

For this groundbreaking collaborative project, J.K. Rowling has written extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines of the books. Pottermore will later incorporate an online shop where people can purchase exclusively the long-awaited Harry Potter eBooks, in partnership with J K Rowling’s publishers worldwide, and is ultimately intended to become an online reading experience, extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans.

It’s a pretty inspired concept. Of course, Rowling with her riches and business partners is the kind of author with the kind of clout you’d need to make something like this happen.

The real game changer among all this, however, despite the partnership comment above, is that the ebooks will be essentially self-published. Her publishers, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, etc., don’t own the eletronic rights – and I bet they’re really happy about that. So Rowling is planning to make the ebooks available directly through Pottmore. Of course, when Rowling self-publishes, she’s has a team of people behind her and her own company on the case, so it’s not like she sits there on her own and uploads files to Amazon. But the key here is the lack of a third-party publisher.

The Kindle will accept epub format ebooks soon and the announcement that the Harry Potter ebooks will be available from October seems to fit in with that, so it’s likely the books will be in epub. That certainly does seem to be the prominent format and, aside from Amazon’s mobi format, has been the industry leader all along. Once the Kindle accepts epub too, we have the first stage of industry standardisation and that’s a good thing for all of us. Perhaps we have Rowling to thank in part for forcing that change – who knows who talked to who while this was getting off the ground.

Authors leveraging their existing print success to manage their own ebook releases is nothing new – just see J A Konrath’s example for one. But nothing on this scale has happened before and we can see things shifting a little more on the axis. I’ve said it before – we’re living in exciting times in writing and publishing and the ride ain’t over yet. I wonder how many kids will get an ereader with a set of Harry Potter books on board for Xmas this year? This will be a big step in mainstreaming ereaders, which are becoming more and more mainstream anyway. On a recent flight to Melbourne I noticed several people reading from Kindles and Sony Readers while waiting for my plane.

The kind of cross-media storytelling and promotion which Pottermore represents is certainly not new, but we’ve seen nothing on this scale before. Just the official announcement video is better than any book trailer a lowly author like myself could hope for. I wonder where we go from here?

Here’s the official release video from Rowling herself:

And here’s the Pottermore site.

Interesting times indeed. What do you think? Is this a good thing or not? Where do things go from here?

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So you don’t understand Twitter?

By
63
June 22, 2011

I really love Twitter and find it one of the most useful social networks I use. But I regularly get people saying to me things like, “What’s the point of Twitter? I think it’s stupid. I don’t get it.” And therein lie two different things. Asking what it is and saying you don’t understand it is like saying, “What’s the point of French? I don’t understand it.” Well, if you learned French, you’d understand it and find it really useful. Especially in France. So I always try to explain what Twitter is, as that seems to be the best starting point. And that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Half the trouble when new people come to Twitter is figuring out what it really does. And when people like me, absolute Twitter converts, have trouble explaining it, you can see why a lot of people give up on the whole idea. So I was driven to figure out a decent, clear, concise description. Here it is:

So what is Twitter?

Over time, with a bit of effort, Twitter becomes a self-curated news feed of information, gossip and conversation that you’re personally interested in, with all the noise you don’t care about filtered out.

If people are still interested after that, we can spend a bit more time explaining it. Notice that I open with, “Over time, with a bit of effort”. This is a fundamental point. You can’t just go to Twitter, look at the thing and expect to understand it and benefit in any way. It doesn’t take much time and effort to get started, but it takes some.

You start by setting up an account. Once you have an account I highly recommend a third party Twitter application. I use Tweetdeck, because I can sort my feed into columns and keep much better track of things that way. Using Twitter directly from the Twitter site is messy. Also, I have Tweetdeck for iPhone, so I can tweet and read tweets wherever I am. Once you have an account, you must fill in your bio and pic, then you can start to tweet things, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Getting the most out of Twitter is all about following the right people. Whenever someone you follow posts a tweet, it will appear in your news feed. So don’t follow people who don’t interest you – only follow people who you think might say stuff you care about. Initially you can do a few searches with keywords. For example, you can search for things like:

author
writing
science fiction
dark fantasy
horror
martial arts
kung fu
motorcycles
dogs

The list above is an example of the kind of things I’m most interested in. Those are the sort of searches I started with. When people cropped up with those things mentioned in their tweets or their bio, I followed them. If they tweeted interesting things I would reply to them, maybe retweet them to share what I found interesting with people who follow me. If they were boring or inactive, or just on a hard sell, I’d stop following them.

Once you’re following a few people you’ll start to see who they follow. It’s a fair bet you’ll all have shared areas of interest, so follow some of their friends. The hashtag #ff or #followfriday is useful for this. It’s when people list all the people they follow who they think their followers might enjoy. So check out some of those people too.

You see how this is taking a bit of time and effort? It doesn’t have to be much. You can have a search and follow a handful of new people a day. Before long you’ll start to have a very busy news feed. And a lot of those people will start to follow you back. You’ll start to interact with them and away you go.

What do I post?

So, let’s get to what you post. First, you absolutely must fill in your bio and add a picture. Twitter is all about interaction and sharing, so you have to tell people something to help them decide if they’re interested in you. Here’s my Twitter bio:

Alan is an author from NSW, Australia. He writes dark fantasy, sci-fi & horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu.

It’s concise, as it has to be in the restricted world of Twitter, but says plenty about me. It says what I do, what I like and where I’m from. That’s enough to start with. After that, people will read my tweets and continue to follow if I interest them. So what do I tweet? Everything!

I tweet interesting or funny things that happen to me or that I notice.

I tweet about writing projects, progress on them, ups and downs of publishing.

I tweet about my dog and cats and regularly tweet photos.

That’s all the chit chat stuff. I also share all the links that I find interesting. And here lies the real power of Twitter. On the one hand I interact with people and have a chat and a laugh. On the other, I share information I find interesting. I also find stuff that the people I follow post. If I really like it, I’ll retweet it and share it around some more. Interesting blog posts, news articles, submission calls, new releases, movie reviews – you name it, if it’s interesting, I’ll post the link. That way my followers can see the tweet, which might say something like: Great review of the new X-Men movie , and they can choose to go and read that review or not. If you spend a bit of time reading the tweets of others you’ll soon get the idea.

This is where it becomes a self-curated news feed. I only follow people who interest me, so they’re likely to post links I’m interested in. In the reverse, my followers are likely to be interested in the links I post. There are Twitter users posting links to pony club announcements and Barbie Doll parties (whatever the hell they might be), but I don’t know about it because I don’t follow those people. The folks interested in ponies and Barbie Dolls follow them. See how it works?

I get most of my news from Twitter now, as I follow the BBC, ABC, Reuters and a few others. They post headlines and links and I’ll read the stories that catch my eye. If people’s tweets start to bore me, I’ll stop following them. I’m always following new people who strike me as interesting. And you have to accept that most of what happens on Twitter you’ll miss. Just get used to only seeing the tweets that happen to go by while you’re actually checking Twitter and let the rest slide. All the really good stuff comes around again in retweets anyway.

Finally, here’s a few things not to do:

Don’t just promote yourself – I’ll often talk about my writing and occasionally promote it and ask people to buy my books in one way or another, but very infrequently. I want at least 10 tweets about other stuff to every 1 tweet about myself, and a much bigger ratio when it comes to actually pushing my stuff. It’s not about selling yourself – it’s about being yourself. If you’re interesting, people will check out what you do.

Don’t just vomit minutiae constantly – If you have a really good breakfast, sure, tell us about it. But we don’t care about what you have every day.

Don’t spam people – Just chill and interact, all casual-like.

Here’s a golden Twitter rule:

Will this tweet entertain or inform my followers in any way?

Ask yourself that question before every tweet and don’t post if the answer is no. Of course, a lot of people are pretty poor at judging that stuff and think they’re a lot more interesting than they really are, but we’ll let natural filtration take care of them.

Here I am – follow me if you think I’m interesting: @AlanBaxter

What about you? Do you tweet? Feel free to offer your tweeting advice in the comments.

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Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition

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2
April 16, 2011

This very blog has been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition, run by the Sydney Writers’ Centre. There’s a lot of blogs in the running, but if you could see your way to dropping me a vote in the Peoples’ Choice Award, that would make you extra awesome.

It’s very simple – you go to this page: http://www.sydneywriterscentre.com.au/bloggingcomp/peopleschoice.html and click through to the Voting Page. All the blogs are listed alphabetically, so click through to the Ts for The Word (which is this blog, obviously), and check the box. Add your name and email address at the end and job done.

I’d be very grateful.

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Podcasts are coming of age

By
6
March 29, 2011

Podcasting has been around for a long time now, by internet standards. Anything that lasts more than a few months is long-lived by internet standards, but you know what I mean. Some things have their blaze of glory and disappear, though they leave a kind of legacy, like MySpace. Some things fire into the stratosphere incredibly briefly, incredibly brightly, and then are forgotten forever, like Chocolate Rain or the Star Wars Kid. They live on in infamy, in memory, but that’s about it. So it’s hard for anything, be it a person or an idea, to stick around for any length of time. Of course, podcasting isn’t really like a specific website or internet meme, but it is something that was either going to fly or sink.

With video-casting on YouTube and a website or three in every home, I did wonder back in the day (about 2008) if podcasting would really generate that desired state of normalcy, or if it would be something a geeky few would love briefly, before moving on. Here we are in 2011 and podcasting is ubiquitous. I co-host one myself, all about thrillers and other genre fiction. I listen to loads of them, especially fiction podcasts like Escape Pod and Podcastle. I’m still dancing with joy because my favourite podcast of all, Pseudopod, bought one of my stories recently. I can’t wait for that to come through.

But you know that podcasting is becoming truly accepted when it starts to win awards. Not podcasting awards, obviously, but other awards that have been around for ages and have now started recognising podcasts. I noticed this when I was going through the recently released Ditmar Awards ballot. Here’s the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium nominations list:

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Out of six listed nominations, five are podcasts. Among them are podcasts that I listen to regularly and one of them got my vote. The sixth one is a review website.

Here’s the same category last year:

Best Fan Publication

* Interstellar Ramjet Scoop, edited by Bill Wright
* A Writer Goes on a Journey (awritergoesonajourney.com), edited by Nyssa Pascoe et al
* ASif! (asif.dreamhosters.com), edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Gene Melzack et al
* Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet (bullsheet.sf.org.au), edited by Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner
* Steam Engine Time, edited by Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson

No podcasts.

In the 2010 Hugo Awards, the Best Fanzine award went to StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith. A podcast. It won a Hugo! It is brilliant, but even so it’s a great step in the acceptance of podcasting.

And this is just the genre podcasts that I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are thousands more out there covering all kinds of subjects. It seems that the audio magazine has really come of age. Even radio stations now are offering their shows as podcasts to appeal to people that might not be able to listen at a certain time, or may have missed a show. More power to the podcast, I say, and not just because I’m involved with one. Podcasting is a great example of utilising the power of the internet for good, producing quality, interesting content. Long may it continue.

I wonder when the Hugos, Ditmars, etc. will have an actual Podcast category. It can’t be far off.

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The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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