Archive for November, 2010


Polite self-promotion

First off (and fitting, considering the meat of this post), my second novel, The Spirit Rebellion is now officially launched. Hooray! I have a post up on my blog with some reviews and gory details about how the book came into being (spoiler: it almost didn’t), so check it out if you like that sort of thing! Book 3, The Spirit Eater, launches December 1, so if you’re waiting on the series, you won’t be waiting long. Orbit is generous like that :D. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can see all my books and read sample chapters here).

So, the Spirit Thief has been officially out for a little over a month now. Truth be told, it’s been a hard 30 days for me. I do realize how ungrateful I sound when say that, and please know the difficulty had nothing to do with the wonderful readers who’ve bought my book or the wonderful people who helped me get it out there. As always, my problems start and end only with me.

The month has been difficult because I’ve been struggling to overcome a fear I didn’t know I had: a fear of self promotion. If you had asked me (and several people did) a few months ago “are you looking forward to promoting your book?” I would have (and did) answered an enthusiastic “of course!”  After all, I wrote the damn thing. Of course I think it is wonderful and amazing and worthy of reading, else I wouldn’t have missed playing all that Warcraft to write it (and rewrite it and query it and rewrite it again). Why wouldn’t I want to shout to the world how awesome I think my book is? After all, I’ve never exactly been a shy, retiring flower.

And yet, for a forward, confident person, I’ve suddenly become tongue tied on the subject of my own work. For example, when The Spirit Thief launched, I went to the bookstore to see my book on the shelf. It wasn’t there, so I asked the stock guy and, after checking the computers, he said it was in the back. He offered to go get me one, but I declined (I didn’t want to take one away from my home store where I’d told people it was going to be) and then… I left. I left without saying anything, and the whole time I’m screaming at myself,  “Rachel, tell them you’re the author, ask to see the manager, see if you can set up a signing, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK.”  But I just couldn’t, and I didn’t know why.

This rocked my world on a pretty fundamental level. I’d just failed at the most basic new author task, and I couldn’t tell you why. But then, after lots of emo-face thinking, I figured it out. In some ways, I’m a very southern girl. I was raised to think that bragging was the height of all rudeness (and, hence, evil). That a truly worthy deed will gain notice on its own. Self promotion is, in a sense, a little like bragging. You’re telling people about your accomplishments. And there lay the problem. If I’d told that book seller “hey, I’m the author, want to get together and do something promotional?”  I don’t think I would have been out of line, but I would have been calling attention to the fact that I’ve written a bo0k and asking for special treatment because of that, which set off all kinds of deeply rooted warning bells.

So I find myself in a dilemma. If I promote my book, I feel like I’m being rude. If I don’t promote my book, I increase my chances of sinking into oblivion and ruining my career. That can not happen, and so it’s time to get over myself. Gotta put on my big girl panties and put myself out there. But, you know, politely.

So here’s my question for you: what kind of book promotions caught your eye? What did you most enjoy? Web ads? Blog posts? Contests? Let me know in the comments (if you don’t mind, that is).


Technobabble can be your friend

We’ve all read it.  We’ve all seen it.  And I’m guessing a lot of us have written it, probably not on purpose.

“Oh, Professor, how does this reticulating infundibulator work?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked, Little Timmy.  You see, the wave manifold interface is tangential to the antiprotonic Q-stream, which as you know is what runs our stardrive, but in this case…”

…and garble garble garble, ten pages of reticulating infundibulators and science that would make any follower of the discipline in question weep quietly into their coffee.

Because I write fantasy, I don’t add so much in the way of technobabble, but I do have quite a bit of arcanababble: the myths that I’ve used to underpin the story and that need to be understood for the story to make any sense.  Which means if I’m not careful, I end up with something along the lines of:

“Oh, Great Sage, how may we use this Crepuscular Artifact of Vorpallitation?”

“Well, I’m glad you asked, Little Grignr.  You see, the Artifact’s power draws from the deposed Demon Lord Khar’tryuse, who as you know was friend to all living things before the Woven Corruption…”

…and garble garble garble, ten pages of Demon Lords and lost weapons and theomachies to shake the heavens.  Now, some people read for the technobabble, and I confess I like reading for the arcanababble, particularly when it’s based on actual myth.  Heck, I’ll sit through several pages of tenuous connections between obscure philosophers and alchemical symbols and ancient cults, if I have the sense there’s something to it (which, frankly, depends more on the writer than on the theory in question).  If it turns out to match what I know, then I’m likely to love the book even more.

But a lot of readers don’t like techno/arcanababble, and for good reason: it’s exposition, and like all exposition can become an indigestible lump if handled poorly.  Even when the myths are well-researched and accurate (inasmuch as myth can approach accuracy) or when the science is spot-on and peer-reviewed, if it’s presented as a lump of exposition then the technobabble filter will kick in for a lot of readers, and they’ll skim past it like a freshman English student skipping the whaling chapters of Moby Dick.

Leave it out entirely, though, and you’re missing the vital information that your story is built around, the scientific key or mythic reference that holds the whole thing together.  And, very possibly, you’ll have left out the Cool Idea that got this story started in the first place.  And, let’s face it, technobabble and arcanababble can be such fun to write.

So what are some ways technobabble can be more than just a lump of exposition? Continue reading ‘Technobabble can be your friend’