Return of the Newsletter

Yep, you read that right. I’m bringing back something that has gone neglected for far too long, my newsletter emails.

What happened to the newsletter anyway?

Back in 2015, I tried to start up a regular newsletter, with people subscribing to receive updates and book news by email. Well, needless to say I got very mixed results, because I really had no idea how to go about running a newsletter, and I had very little to say.

It didn’t help that between changes at Gmail, and alterations to the services offered by the site I sent the newsletter from, emails were likely ending up in people’s spam folders instead of being delivered. Now remember, everyone on that list had already confirmed they wanted to hear from me, but the open rate dropped considerably, and I lost interest in continuing the newsletter.

What changed?

It all started when I began putting together the events for the Brain to Books Fantasy Genre events, and needed a way to keep in touch with authors who were participating. All of the authors needed to receive the same email, and some of them needed to receive event-specific emails, and so was born a new mailing list.

Through careful planning of the events, and working out ways to send specific emails to the relevant authors, I got a feel for how the newsletters could work. Fast forward a few days, and I come across a service that did what my old one did, but came with the bonus of many of the features I needed being free.

So, I started looking into the details, and wondered if I could get my newsletter back off the ground. And thankfully, there were a number of people who’d already expressed an interest in hearing more from me, after they had completed the Brain to Books Fantasy “First Lines” Scavenger Hunt event.

I had a ready-made list of new people who actually wanted to know more… hmmm… but what to send them?

Well, I was already updating my graphics for my social media sites, so why not try something new with the newsletter. I created some new graphics to us as headers…

And here’s what went out…

Actually, the answer to this question wasn’t a simple one.

In my first email to you, I promised to give you some background information on my favorite lupine (werewolf), Richard Parsons. And then I realized just how hasty I’d been in making that promise.

You see, when you’ve been writing about a character for the best part of eight years, they undergo a kind of metamorphosis. Initially, what you have is a very basic idea of the character, some broad personality traits, and maybe a rough idea of what they look like.

Then you sit down and start writing, and things change. In Richard’s case, they changed a lot. Which meant making sure what you got was actually representative of Richard as he turned out.

So, I dove through my piles of notes, website pages, story outlines, finalized stories, and everything I’d shared with others, and discovered the ideal way to introduce Richard…

Read “A Fireside Chat with Richard Parsons” by A.F. Stewart & Timothy Bateson

Find out who Richard is connected to…

There is a lot of other information about Richard, and the other characters in the “Shadows Over Seattle” series, over on my website.

Now, it’s a little sparse compared to the depth of information that Sandi and I have created over the years of creating this series.

So, here’s an open invitation to find out more.

  • Keep following these emails, my blog, and the website for information as it’s posted…
  • Or, drop me an email, and let me know what you’d like to know more about, and find out information before anyone else.
  • Just don’t expect too much in the way of spoilers…

Join The Conversation

Now, it may look like I’m just giving away a bunch of links to material that I’ve already put out there, and that’s true.. For now!

I want the newsletter to be more than a rehashing of old material. I want to turn it into a way for people to be part of the conversations that go on behind the scenes.

By subscribing, you’re going to have access to me as a writer, and be in a position to ask me questions, show what projects most interest you, and maybe even influence some of my writing. You see, I know that I don’t know everything, so if you have knowledge that might be relevant to one of my projects, I might just be asking you questions too…

You’ll also receive updates from my blog, so you’ll never have to miss a single post, unless you want to.

As time goes on, I might expand the newsletter to include other things, like reviews of books I’ve recently read, or reviewed in the past. Of course, if I hear enough people want to see something, I will definitely try to include it.

B2BCyCon2017, Scavenger Hunts, and Publicity Hounds

A Round-Up of the Weekend

The B2BCyCon event is at an end, but the fun isn’t over, and I’m left wondering what’s happening next.

After spending the best part of two months coordinating over seventy authors, putting together scavenger hunt quizzes, arranging genre tours, and fighting technical issues that could have derailed my planned discussion panels, I’m finding myself with a lot of spare time all of a sudden.

But, that’s not going to stop me working on the post-event activities that will help me get stuff ready for next year, and improve on what we did as a genre.

Things That Went Right:

  • We ran THREE very successful discussion panels, (despite some technical issues on my end). I’d like to thank everyone who took part, either as a panelist, or watched from the sidelines, and commented in the chat. Those videos are still available.
  • The Scavenger Hunt has received a LOT of very POSITIVE feedback. See the breakdown below for some interesting stats.
  • I saw a lot of our genre members interacting with the readers, and other writers, which was great to see, especially from those new to the event.
  • For those of you who took part in live events, discussions, or dropped in to see me fumble my way through running discussion panels for the first time… THANK YOU! This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to do these events, and why I volunteered to do so much behind-the-scenes work this year.
  • Brain to Books launched it’s first anthology collection, with stories provided by participating authors – including “April Fool (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels #0.5)”. The proceeds from “Book Dreams: Volume 1” will be funneled back into funding the 2018 CyCon.
  • We were BY FAR the BIGGEST genre at the event, and event though I didn’t manage to reach EVERYONE, I think we all learned a lot along the way.

Things That Went Wrong:

  • For me, it was technical problems on Sunday, that almost canceled the last of the discussion panels.
  • Also, I should NEVER send emails when I’m tired, especially without checking that I changed everything I needed to.
  • The biggest thing we’re looking at behind-the-scenes, for next year, is ways to clean up communication channels, and better represent the various events being run.

The Scavenger Hunt – A Breakdown

The First Lines Scavenger Hunt has apparently been a success on a number of levels. Even though it’s still running until Saturday, I thought I’d give you a breakdown of the stats so far (as of 4/10/17).

  • We had 77 Visitors
  • 13 of those visitors completed the whole quiz
  • The average completion time was 40 minutes, meaning people spent time actually visiting the book pages
  • Of those who completed the quiz, only 2 got a wrong answer (and ONLY one wrong). I’ll NOT be disqualifying them from the prize draw as a result of this, because right answers was never really the goal.
  • 9 of the 13 have agreed to signup for newsletters from the participating authors.
  • On a 1-to-10 scale, 9 people rated this quiz a 10, 1 rated it a 9, 2 rated it a 6, and 1 rated it a 4. From my perspective that means we had an enjoyable quiz, in a format that people found interesting enough to do again.

So in conclusion, I would DEFINITELY run this event again, even if we don’t get any more participation. That said, PLEASE feel free to pass the word around that the quiz is still running, and will close on Saturday night. Here’s the link: https://timothybatesonauthor.typeform.com/to/tshdCP

It Gets Better…

Even more interestingly though… This little quiz drew very positive comments from someone I have followed for a while, and whose opinion I trust. Joan Stewart (AKA The Publicity Hound) is a blogger, publicity consultant, and mentor, who has helped a lot of small businesses and self-published authors become better at marketing what they do, and who they are.

The Publicity Hound puts out a twice-weekly email, with tips, blog posts, videos, training classes and dog videos. In Tuesday’s edition of her email, there was a section on using quizzes as a means to get people’s attention, along with an invitation to have a quiz featured in her blog.

Well, I sent out the information about the Scavenger Hunt quiz, along with a link, and Ms Stewart was very interested in featuring it. I’m very excited by this development, not just because the quiz was really an interesting experiment, but because The Publicity Hound emails and blog posts go out to a massive audience.

We are just discussing some final details, and I’ll post the link if/when it goes live on her blog.

Some Thoughts From Other Participating Authors

Here are some thoughts from other B2BCyCon participating authors:

If you took part in the Cyber Convention, either as a reader, or as an author, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments.

And here’s those discussion panels for you…


“Ramblings of an Author” Turns Three Years Old!!!

This week, I’m putting my series about my Seattle trip on hold. There’s still a lot of things that I want to write about in regards to that vacation, but something even more amazing popped up.

When I sat down to write the third installment of the “Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer” series, WordPress had some notifications for me. Among them was a reminder that I had started this blog three years ago, and so I decided to check my statistics, and see what had been happening over those three years. And I discovered that my blog has been doing far better than I suspected. So here’s a breakdown of what WordPress.com thinks has been going on…

 

 

Back Porch Writer (February 21st 2017) – Living The Indie Author Life, Take 4

I had the pleasure of chatting with Kori Miller yesterday, over on her podcast “Back Porch Writer”.

9033c608-0595-481e-9b20-5591a5bdca5b_backporchwriterLiving The Indie Author Life, Take 4

We discuss internet search histories, werewolves, vampires, favorite films, writing, research, the upcoming Brain to Books Cyber Convention…

Listen to the episode here

I’d like to thank Kori for taking the time to chat with me, especially because we had to reschedule, and for putting up my ramblings.

Go show Kori some love, and check out her other Back Porch Writer episodes

Bullet Journal – The Solution To Your Planning Nightmares?

Okay, it’s confession time: This is going to be a very long post… But one worth reading to the very end, if you have trouble staying organized.

Way back in June 2014, and again in July 2014, I posted about an organizational system called Bullet Journal, created by Ryder Carroll And I gave it a very glowing review, after having used it for only a few weeks.

And then, just like with all organizational systems, I let it slide, and stopped using it.

There were a number of reasons for this, but mostly it came down to the fact that my adaptation of the master and travel journals was just taking up too much time to be efficient. The system was in it’s infancy, and I just wasn’t diligent enough to be using it daily. Things slipped my attention, because I hadn’t written them down. Or I hadn’t properly indexed and important piece of information, and missed out on doing some important stuff.

calendarThen 2016 was coming to an end, and I had huge plans for 2017

I am a regular reader of Popular Science, and get a lot of posts through their RSS feed. But just before the start of 2017 a particular post came to my attention: “HOW ONE NOTEBOOK COULD REPLACE ALL THE PRODUCTIVITY APPS THAT HAVE FAILED YOU : A Nerd’s Guide To Bullet Journaling” [by Amy Schullenbaum]

This article showed me just how much the Bullet Journal system had evolved from 2014, and why 2016 had been a year it’s number of users exploded.

I was intrigued, and I went hunting for more information, and found a wealth of resources, layouts for various sections, and video tutorials, FAQs, walk through and images galore. I’m not going to try to explain the system, because there are people out there who have done it much better, and more creatively, than I ever could.

Instead I’m going to let you read the resources I’ve already linked to, and explain what I did to personalize the system.

search-documentWhat did I do differently to most?

  • Instead of using a regular notebook or journal, I decided to stick with something I had a lot of sitting around my apartment – 3-ring binders.
    • A mixture of lined and grid-lined paper gives me a huge amount of flexibility in how my pages are formatted.
    • Lined pages are really just for note taking, lists, and things that don’t require a special page layout.
    • The grid pages make up the bulk of my organizational structure, the calendex, future log, weekly log, and my trackers.
    • Using three-hole-punched pages makes it easy to assemble my bullet journal on the fly. As I find I need a new page, I add it to the binder under the relevant section, write a header at the top and a page number at the bottom. (Each page number has a letter preceding it to indicate which section it’s in). Then that page number and header (where needed) are added to the indexes/calendars, and cross-referenced from an existing page (where needed).
  • I have multiple dividers in place to separate particular sections:
    • Index & Future Log – The index is still my primary source for finding things quickly, and my future log really isn’t used very much, because of the next section.
    • Calendex & Weekly Logs – The index has no concept of date/time. So I added a Calendex to list upcoming events, and then a weekly calendar to organize each week in more detail. The Calendex lists page references for events, reminders, etc but my weekly calendar doesn’t, since it’s basically a way to setup the tasks on my daily log.
    • Daily Logs – This is the core of my journal. Each day is setup  the night before, unless  have to add a task at short notice. This section is complicated, and simple at the same time. The front pages are a list of ongoing tasks for the year, and then the month. This is followed by pages dedicated to just the daily log of tasks, work hours appointments , etc. I’m finding I often reschedule things until later dates, because I booked too much on a given day, something unexpected happened, or I find myself waiting on important information. However, it allows me to copy relevant tasks from other areas of the journal to the daily list with ease, and my weekly planner and calendex allow me to track the tasks I rescheduled.
    • Events & Appointments – This is where I keep my list of upcoming guest blog slots, important dates, and planning for  vacations and big events . This has become an important section for me, because it’s allowing me to track multiple related projects through cross-referencing page numbers.
    • Habit Trackers – this section is where I’ll hold myself accountable for the various things I know I should be doing every day/week/month, without fail. Right now, it’s just a mini-calendar where I can write in how many words I wrote/edited, cross off days I didn’t do either, and then tally up the total at the end of the week.

awardMy thoughts so far…

  • This system has been extremely fast to pickup and use.
  • In it’s basic form, it’s great for day-to-day stuff, but I needed a lot more than that.
  • There are some great people out there, creating some very innovative page layouts, and additions to the basic system.
  • I would be lost without the various indexes, and my tracker.
  • I’m thinking I need a section dedicated to lists of things I’m gathering, like quotes for my “Someone Else’s Words” posts, and the various posts I’m working on for other authors.

So, that’s my experience of the system at the end of the first month, and I have to say it’s been working much better than my first outing with it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this system, and trying to find the best resources to get you started.

Keep one thing in mind – once you leave the Bullet Journal website, all bets are off as to what you’ll discover. You might end up like I did, watching hours of YouTube videos trying to learn more, and then only adopting what I really needed. However, if I hadn’t I might never have adopted the calendex, weekly planner, or tracker that I find so integral to my use of the system.

writingdrinking

So, where can I find out more?

Even a quick search online will show you that there are quite a few people not only using Bullet Journal, but making it work for them in very unique ways.

  • There’s the official Bullet Journal Website @ BulletJournal.Com, and even a glance there will show you just how flexible the system can be. This site will teach you the bare bones of the system, and give you some ideas of what others have done to adapt it to their needs.
  • Eddy Hope, over at Discover Analog, has created something he calls the Calendex, which is a very interesting way to merge a calendar with an index. The Calendex is broken down into months and days, just like a regular calendar. But instead of logging actual actions, appointments, etc you log the page reference of items that are relevant to that date.
  • Kim Alvarez, at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, regularly posts experimental page formats, and updates to how she uses the Bullet Journal system. Kim is also a regular contributor to the official Bullet Journal Blog.
  • Kim (not the same one), at BulletJournalJoy provides some free printable pages for who, like me, assemble their journals as they go.
  • Then there’s Kara Benz, over at BohoBerry, who has a very prolific YouTube channel, which often features her thoughts, experiments and experiences with various page layouts. Kara produces what I consider some of the most beautiful page layouts for her Bullet Journal, and is always trying something new. Check out her “Bullet Journal 101” videos for a great introduction to her process.

B2BCyCon Is Coming – Show Your Support For The Fantasy Genre Events!

So What’s It All About?

There are rumblings deep under the mountain, and those who live close by swear that they have seen fire and smoke in the distance. Ever since the town was established, local bards have told tales of a great monster that sleeps beneath those sacred peaks. But every now and then it awakes, angry at the world, and with a hunger that will only be satisfied with destruction. Before you know it, the great beast will awaken, and unleash havoc upon the land.
The mayor is asking for volunteers to take on the challenge. Will you be one of the few with the bravery and skill to venture into the caverns in search of a way to destroy the beast, before it awakes?

Join the brave souls attending the Brain To Books Cyber Convention fantasy genre events. And keep reading to find out what it’s all about, how to show your support, and what is happening elsewhere at the convention.

What Is The Brain To Books Cyber Convention?

The Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo is an annual event that brings authors and readers together for a massive online event. Happening every April, it showcases some of the best indie authors in the world. It lets them meet readers, run competitions, take part in online discussions, and so much more. The entire weekend is dedicated to readers and books, so come join us.

I have the honor of having been asked to help coordinate the planning, organization, and running of the Fantasy Genre events. I’ll admit that I’m extremely excited about what we have coming up.

When is all this happening?

  • April 7th-9th 2017

Spread the Word:

What events are the fantasy genre authors running?

  • We’ll be hosting discussion groups on a range of subjects
  • Live role-play sessions: a team of writers will play characters from their stories, and readers influence the challenges the players must overcome.
  • There will also be a scavenger hunt running through the entire weekend, with some great prizes.

How to take part:

  1. Share this campaign with your friends, and help them discover some great books.
  2. “Save the Date” to enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.
  3. Wait for the reminder about the event to arrive in your email.
  4. Attend the event and have a blast!

What Other Events Are Going On Elsewhere At The Convention?

  • YouTube discussion panels
  • Book expo showcase
  • Genre-based blog hops and tours
  • Giveaways
  • Grab bags
  • Goodreads author showcase
  • Author interviews
  • Workshops
  • Character competitions
  • Cover wars competition
  • …And much more.
  • Three days of a book lovers paradise.

Join us in 2017, as book lovers unite on April 7th, 8th, and 9th.

Readers can go here and Save the Date: http://b2bcycon.com/ (And be entered into a $100 Amazon Gift Card drawing)

Authors can check out the Getting Started Page: https://braintobooks.com/getting-started/

 

[Updated] Maximize Your Virtual Book Tour with this Masterclass from Heidi Angell

Class Starts On January 22nd 2017

What is a Virtual Book Tour?

This was one of the questions I’ve seen a lot online, and it’s basically an online version of the book tours that a lot of authors already do. In a traditional book tour, authors have to travel from bookstore to bookstore (or other venue), participate in events and book signings and hope they can make enough money back to cover their expenses. In a virtual book tour the traveling disappears, and instead you contact bloggers, news outlets, and other websites and have them host some content for you, related to your book.

What Will I Get Out Of The Class?

The class runs for seven days, but you can take it at your own pace. I know when I took it, I was a couple of days behind on reading the lessons at one point, because of work pressures. And this is a very important factor for a lot of people taking classes of any kind these days.

Over the seven days, Heidi will walk you through:

  • What a book tour is, why and when you should do one
  • A little Marketing 101 (yes, you really DO need to know this)
  • The various types of virtual tour (different goals will require different approaches)
  • Where you should look to host materials for the book tour
  • How to approach potential partners for the blog tour, and what kind of incentives you can offer them, or their audience (because they are helping you by giving you exposure on their platforms)
  • How to pick topics for guest posts (because it’s not all about you and the book, and people love bonus content)
  • What is a media kit, and how to build one (with some great example letters)
  • How to get reviews for your book, even before it releases to the public,
  • How to advertise and get support for the blog tour event
  • How to select stops for the virtual book tour, and how to approach them
  • Why you should track the traffic from your tour, and how to set it up

That’s a Lot of Information for a Seven Day Course!

It is a lot of information. I won’t deny it.

But, here’s the important thing to remember, Heidi has a lot of experience with running virtual book tours. This course shares not just her experience, but provides you with a LOT of tools that will be extremely helpful to setting up your own virtual book tour.

But Here’s Why You Should Take The Course!

  • Heidi has run several very successful virtual book tours
  • She tells you which tools, apps, and online services have worked for her, and why
  • You get to see the planning behind an actual book tour (which I will be participating in later this month)
  • BUT HERE’S THE BEST PART:
    • Heidi is also sharing her lists of bloggers, podcasters, and more
    • These lists are continuously updated
    • From these lists you can select a few people to approach, and Heidi provides form letters that have worked for her
  • [Updated Information]
    • You have a lifetime membership
    • Materials are updated regularly
    • You will always have access to the most up to date materials
    • You get access to a forum of fellow-classmates, so your networking starts early

Spaces Are Limited, So Book Now!