The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

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Live from WesterCon 62

Sitting in my hotel room at the Temp Mission Palms, where I am attending WesterCon 62 – aka Fiestacon.

Here’s what we’ve learned since Friday morning:

Tempe Mission Palm’s claim of “high speed wireless” is somewhat optimistic. It is, however, free.

Notes from DIY Marketing panel:

* The author is the brand.

* Have a one sentence “elevator-pitch” for your work rehearsed and readu to fire for interviews (and random encounters at Cons).

* Your website is your #1 point of contact for potential consumers. Make it a good one that people can find. In this sense, a domain name pays fr itself.

* Get business cards specific to your art (not your day job) and leave some blank space on them.

* Free samples lead to sales. One way to do that: podcasting.

Your first novel is the one piece of writing least likely to be sold by a “pitch session”. Pitch sessions, while a legitimate if evil practice in film, are almost always scams in the book publishing trade. They want to read your manuscript.

Likewise, do not let a POD publisher convince you that the small press/ebook ocean is the fram team of big-time publishing. Folks have made it that way – but mostly by random coincidence.

“I already have a slush pile.” says Patrick Nielson Hayden, panelist and editor for Tor books.

So you know, agents and editors who are worth dealing with do, in fact, read at least a part of every manuscript in their slush pile. This is the system they have devised to find books they can sell. Write a good book. Get in the slush pile. That, despite the odds, is the surest path.

Don’t try to jump the curve writing towards what’s hot right now. What’s on the shelves right now represents what publishers were buying 2 or 3 years ago. Unless you have some insight into what will be hot in 2012, your surest approach is to write the novel you want to read.

On worldbuilding: “The world is there to support the characters, not the other way around.” says Diana Gabaldon. That said, the key is consitency. You only get to suspend belief so many times.

Magic the Gathering killed a lot of gaming stores. Here’s how: collectable card games have an opposite marketing strategy than regular RPG’s. RPG’s live on backlist: someone buys the intial core rules, then keeps coming back bit by bit to buy more things. Collectable cards, though, roll through stock on a regular basis. Players buy as much as they can afford as soon as they’re hooked, but then very little until the next expansion comes out. So, rather than having several books on the shelves indefinitely, you need to move the product quickly to make room for the enxt expansion.

The secondary effect was that because of the money Magic TG was bringing in, many gamestore owners sold out to investors who had no clue what to do when, a few years later, MTG lost it’s mana, and sale plummetted.

There were something ike 10,000 dedicated gamestores in the mid 90’s.Now there is something like 2500.

[my source was panelist Mike Stackpole.]

There will be more later about YA and writer’s groups and xenobiology.

Now You know.