Do you want to know a little more about The Camelot Kids? Check out the book trailer for a peek at Simon Sharp’s incredible adventure into New Camelot.
What would you do if an odd girl in a hooded cloak said, “You know you’re a descendant of King Arthur’s knight, Lancelot, right?” You’d probably do the same thing 14-year-old orphan Simon Sharp does: back away nice and slow. The difference is Simon’s Camelot-obsessed parents recently died under mysterious circumstances.
But he learns the truth about their fate and his heritage after he’s kidnapped by a drunk troll, rescued by a 7-foot elderly man named Merlin, and thrown into training with 149 other heirs of the Knights of the Round Table. Can Simon survive a prophecy that predicts the world will be saved through its destruction? Can he do it while clues keep popping up that his parents are alive?
The Camelot Kids is about one boy’s struggle to solve a mystery and make it to tomorrow in a world both real and fantastic.
Second, this contest is being run and fulfilled by Amazon, using their new Amazon Giveaway service. It took about three minutes to set up. Their instructions need to get ironed out a bit, but it’s live (after waiting for an hour).
The cool thing is that you simply buy the item you want to give away and they take care of landing pages and fulfillment. They also made the process a “Click on the box to see if you win!” deal. Those are fun. And, maybe best of all, they allow you to require a Twitter follow to enter the contest.
My cousin is a musician. He’s worked his entire professional life amidst notes; touring with a successful band for years, producing several fantastic CDs and teaching. When iTunes slammed into the planet and made music digital and cheap he was angry.
“Too bad, cuz,” I’d say. “You know what they say. Adapt or die!”
Okay, I didn’t say it like that, but it’s the message that he probably took away from our debates.
Then Spotify and its ilk pushed music even further into the ether. Songs became not just a commodity, but a common element. Like air, except louder and with a riff.
Poor music business.
But what if indy authors have more in common with our musical peers than we think? What if the proliferation of subscription services is sending us down a path of permanently earning less for our books.
I’m an optimist. I believe that the writing life is a wonderful life. I know it’s here to stay. But it may need to change into something different.
So I got to thinking. Stand back. It’s a dangerous thing. Ask my wife. Or my cousin.
Here’s my take…
Musicians have concerts. Gigs can add some cash to the coffer as music sales drop through the stage. At gigs, bands sell CDs (and LPs!) to the audience.
But writers have nothing similar. Book readings are the closest thing, but they’re not as essential to the reader as live music is to the music fan.
So are we doomed to just maneuver the same turbulent sea of shifting tactics to survive Amazon’s whims, or Facebook’s changing policies, or a tiered Internet?
Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere positive with all of this.
What if writers need to produce their work to find that alternate revenue stream? Produce our work? What the hell does that mean, Ben? Well, what if I need to make The Camelot Kids a comic book and a weekly animated short for it to make me money? What if Shirley Link is a monthly podcast and a small indy film? Maybe your book is a future YouTube hit? What I’m searching for here is that secondary revenue stream that leverages the wonderful book we’ve written and builds upon it for a modern audience.
Does that makes sense? I mean, we tell stories. On paper. On touchscreens. But maybe we need to ponder other ways to tell our stories.
Maybe we need to tap into these social network thingies and find audio recording, film making, 3D animating peers who will work for a cut of the profits.
As importantly, maybe new services need to spring up that help us make our books into animated movies, or plays, or films, or games, or virtual reality experiences. Yes, there’s ACX. There are fun toys like Booktrack. Those are along the lines of what I’m talking about, but what I’m starting to see is that I need to break out of my comfort zone (even more than I already have). I’m starting to see that the same way that musicians had to learn to set up a gig, perform and connect with music fans in a whole new way, well maybe in some twisted, introverted wordish way that’s our future, too.
What do you think? Could you envision writers as media producers? Do you think a successful indy author will need to be a successful media producer in the near future? Is the thought too terrifying to ponder? Or does it excite you?
The basics of social media fluctuate around the edges. Use your real voice, be useful and go heavy on images when you can. But if you look at the list below you’ll see some essentials that are harder to spot.
The basics of social media: Facebook
* Consider making a Fan page for your work. This means you can keep your personal separate from your professional connections. Yes, you can still promote your work from your personal page once in awhile (just don’t make a daily habit out of it).
* Put up a great pic in the header with the following specs: 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall on PCs. Loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file less than 100 kilobytes. If it’s more than 100k it will get pixelated!
* Share other posts and Like other pages. This will help people see your taste and influences.
* Post every blog post on Facebook as well. You can link to the post or post it in its entirety, depending on what you want to get out of the post.
* Add pictures whenever possible. Generally, people prefer images to text.
* Use Facebook Insights! This is available only to Facebook fan pages, not personal profiles. The insights will tell you what’s working and what is not.
* Contests are a wonderful way to get new followers. Use Giveaway Tools at http://giveawaytools.com/ and enable their Facebook tab feature, which will place the contest on your Facebook page.
* Post often about what’s going on, but don’t forget to ask questions, too.
The basics of social media: Twitter
* You get 140 characters for your bio. Use it well. Engage, amuse and throw in one or two hashtags to show what you’re all about.
* Snag a Twitter handle that resembles your brand/story. This will make it more memorable.
* Post a large-rez image for the twitter profile page. Use a great profile pic. Here are the dimensions:
Profile pic: 400 x 400 px
Cover photo: 1500 x 500 px
* Twitter will continue to drive people to use their profile pages so be ready if they flick the switch and make it a primary destination!
* Be nice. You can challenge people, but be respectful too. Same rules that apply to a party, apply here.
* Pin your best tweet to the top of the profile page. Here’s how:
Go to your profile page.
Find the Tweet you’d like to pin and click the ellipsis icon (•••).
Select Pin to your profile page.
* Use hashtags for your events and deals. This will help you track interest.
* Use Hootsuite! It’s a great app that lets you schedule tweets ahead of time. It also lets you follow “conversations” in their own tab. So you can follow the hashtag #infographics (for example) to see what people are saying about that subject in real time.
* Use a link shortener. These are the shortened urls that you see sometimes that “hide” the long string url. Hootsuite uses its own shortener AND it gives you access to the metrics behind that short link.
* Retweet often. You’ll find buddies this way.
* Always give credit by mentioning “via @[Twitter Name]”
* If the person who follows you shares your interests then follow back.
* Twitter is getting more visual so feel free to share images of your own and others’
The basics of social media: Blogging
* What do you bring to the table? Focus on posting about your interests, NOT what you think people are interested in reading. If you just focus on what other people are looking for then you’ll run out of inspiration after a week.
* Plan your posts a full month to one year ahead of time. By doing so, you remove the arduous task of deciding what to write about! Use a calendar to track your content plan.
* Be genuine. Your voice must be your own for it to stand out. People can spot fakery and casual-contrarians from a mile away.
* Post regularly! The kiss of death is silence. Yes, the pressure is on. You can do it.
* Don’t put Share buttons everywhere, just put them in one or two obvious places.
* Use your blog as a tool to grow your fanbase by offering the option to subscribe to your blog. This way people will get an email whenever you update the site. You can put the subscribe button in an obvious place. Every blogging platform offers a version of this feature.
* Every post must have a large title (H1), a smaller sub-title (H2) underneath and preferably some bullet points within the post. This is how people browse a post AND it’s how Google scans your page.
* Guest bloggers are waiting to post on your blog. Ask around. They’ll bring their fans with them, too.
* Guest post yourself. Find new fans by sharing your work with new people on other blogs.
* Pay attention to comments! Answer quickly and give it some thought so people know there’s a real person on the other end of the keyboard.
Meetings at work were doodles — what did the characters look like? What made Excalibur special?
Plot twists popped out of a martini. Oh yeah, one crucial theme sparked from a spicy chicken wing during Date Night in SoHo.
About 1000 pages were written right after Jack was born. I read the first draft in the middle of a forest and decided it was inspiring and horrible. Robin talked me off that cliff.
I hope you enjoy Simon’s butting heads with Merlin. I hope Maille Rose (pronounced Molly Rose) becomes a favorite of yours too. Oh, and I hope the ending leaves you wanting more. Because I want to write much more.
The Camelot Kids has been a part of my life for almost nine years. It was mine. Now it’s yours.
I miss Shirley! I’ve been working so hard on The Camelot Kids that she’s had to have some adventure all on her own. I’ll get back to her soon in a book titled Shirley Link & The Party Poopers, but until then you can snag a short story! Shirley Link & The Ghost of Christmas Presents is in the Book Elves Anthology: Volume 1 along with some of my favorite Middle Grade authors.
Halloween was fun for awhile. Until I got my first stomach ache from one too many Resses Peanut Butter Cups.
I guess Thanksgiving has its moments. But you know what? I just don’t like the taste of turkey.
I especially have a hard time with my birthday. Yes, I know it’s not a holiday, exactly, but you wouldn’t know that from the way my parents act. When I’m 21 they’ll probably still look at me like I’m a four year old, with their heads bent a little bit to one side and a proud grin on their faces.
But one holiday is okay. Somehow, it promises a hopeful morning, an afternoon packed with joy, and an evening of peace.
My family does volunteer work every Christmas day. We’ll help out the Northeast Food System Partnership or the Organic Trade Association in Greenfield. I think my soft spot for Christmas comes from the year my family volunteered at Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls. They give out toys and a fantastic Christmas lunch to families less fortunate than mine.
So that morning a couple of years ago, the whole Link family piled into the car after a humongous breakfast. We slid our way through the icy town until we got to the church. The parking lot was pretty full.
I arrived a little sleepy. Seven pounds of pancakes will do that to a person. Also, I hadn’t enjoyed a good nights sleep. My good friend Wylie had called me up on Christmas Eve and talked non-stop about the new Marvel Avengers video game he was hoping to get for Christmas. Somewhere around his description of Starlord’s powers I fell asleep. When I woke up who-knows-how-much-later he was still talking.
So as Mom, Dad and I got out of the car I wasn’t at the top of my game. It was Christmas! Who knew I’d have to take on my newest case as an amateur detective?