Thursday, April 26, 2012

Audience Survey

Calling anyone who has read my stories:  If you are interested in helping me figure out who my audience is and what makes my stories compelling among all the other fantasy stories out there, please take this quick survey.  

I am working on recognizing the themes that are the through lines in my work - the things that people will eventually know that they will probably find when reading my stories.  I have made my own list, but I am interested in what you, my readers, have noticed - and what you liked and would draw you to read another of my stories.

Your answers will be most useful to me if suspend any other relationship than author/reader you have with me, or forget any bribes of cake I have offered you to read my stories in the past while you answer.

FYI - there are 8 questions in the survey.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Marketing Idhua: Part 2 (Round 1) - Audience

First annual reader's poll:

I've been thinking about an author's audience.  In the past this has been a challenging topic for me because I approached it negatively: most of the fantasy I see out there is very different in even sub-genre from what I write, therefore there isn't really an audience for my work.  Well, there are a lot of flaws in that assumption, (as in it's just not true,) but even more it is an attitude that defeats me before I even start.  

In looking for and responding to my audience I don't have to give up on the subjects or styles that make my work unique.  (Thank heavens I don't have to write any vampire stories if I don't want to - which I don't. (Except for the one where someone discovers that there is a group of powerful vampires behind a renewed interest in space exploration because it finally occurred to the bloodsuckers that immortality is going to be a real drag when the sun goes super-nova.  Feel free to steal this idea - I'm not going to actually write it, it just amuses me.))

Anyhow, growing an audience: 

Here are three areas I have identified as audience research tools:

  • Things (themes, characters, styles, etc.) people like about my stories – i.e. what are my draws.
  • Things that are draws for me when others' stories - i.e. I am part of my own audience.
  • Things people wish they could read or wish there was more of that fall into my purview.
On that note: any of you who have read my work... Questions for you:
  • What in particular draws you to it?  
  • Why would you come back and read more (besides offers of chocolate)?  
  • What do you wish you could find out there in the fantasy genre that you either find in my work or think I would do a good job with if I included it?
  • Any other thoughts on the subject?
  • If you haven't read my work... Do you want to?  I am unpublished yet, but I have a few sketches up at the Amber Grimoire and I am up for new beta readers...
Again, leave me a comment, post on my Facebook page or email me at
Facebook Link

Marketing Idhua Part 1: Mission Statement

So, I have been working on my strategic plan - which is turning out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  My sister, N, and I have observed to each other that often our challenge is not finding a way to do things, but to decide what we want to do in the first place.  It took me over fifteen years to decide I wanted to become a published author, but now that I have I am having fun figuring out how to make that happen.  I like the clarity the exercise of doing strategic planning brings to my process and the way I can go from distant goals to current steps to take towards them.  Here is my mission statement - I welcome any feedback people may have on it.  Leave a comment or email me at

Author Mission Statement for Tannara Young 

 My mission is to write, publish and promote mythopoeic high fantasy, set in the world of Idhua, for readers who desire such works. My stories are intended for an audience who is looking for high fantasy with a strong focus on lyrical prose that contains mythological depth. These stories will challenge some of the more conservative elements in fantasy by incorporating non-traditional characters and narratives, including female characters, non-white characters and characters of differing sexual orientations placed in atypical roles.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Marketing Idhua: Introduction

I have been thinking a lot about marketing since I came back from Norwescon.  I chose panels that focused mostly on business and marketing aspects of writing and publishing, so it's not surprising that it's been on my mind.  However, I observed a pattern in the panelists - the ones who had marketing experience or deliberately set out to be involved in that aspect of their writing, appeared to be more content and confident in their careers.  

This makes sense - they had a sense of being in charge of their own fates, of understanding what was happening around them and of being a participant in the whole process.  I know myself well enough to know that I, too, will be happier if I understand and am involved with marketing my work - to say nothing of the advantages that that creates, as publishers have less and less time and resources to market any author, let alone new ones.  I am not only looking to market myself to my readers, but to editors, agents and publishers as well.

There is a lot of information out there - on the internet and in print - about marketing, but most of it is geared toward the business world.  However, I think that that can still be applied to my situation - with some modifications.  Idhua is my brand, my stories are my products, and though I don't have any out in the marketplace yet, that doesn't mean I can't have a plan in place for when I do.

The first thing I am going to do is create a strategic plan for myself: a long term plan answering the questions "What do I do?" and "For whom do I do it?" among others.

I think it should be an interesting process and help me become as focused in the business side of things as I have been in the production side of things.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Notes from Norwescon

Friday, 3pm: 

I have attended three panels so far. Last night I went to one comparing Big Press, Small/Independent Press and Self Publishing.  I think that the most interesting element of that panel was getting a feeling for just how fast the publishing world is changing.    

The first panel this morning was on writing a synopsis for a novel.  I liked Irene Radford's advice the best. She gave a good concise description of writing a synopsis:

  •   Start with your main character and their goal - usually including the emotional "want."
  •   Introduce the opposition/conflict (villain).
  •   Indicate what emotional growth the POV character needs to overcome the opposition.
  •   Give the 3 turning points - opening hook, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" moment and the murder and mayhem of the climax.

Last, I went to the First Pages workshop where we had (anonymously) submitted the first 250 Words of a story for the panel to comment on.   I got some good feedback on the opening of the "Amulet of Aranos" - the most important being that I need to use adjectives more sparingly.

Tonight, I go to my Round-Robin session, by the Fairwood Writers, where "The Silvered Swords" will be discussed...

Saturday, 10am: 

The Round-Robin session went well.  I now have a pile of manuscripts full of comments to read.  Perhaps the most discouraging part was that the most common comment was that I still write in the passive voice too much.  I wish I could find an exercise workbook or something that would help me really understand what the passive voice is, and how to avoid it.

It's like when I had an aha! learning fractions (they're really just division).  There is something about writing in the passive voice that I just haven't had the aha! about yet.  It's so easy for others to spot, and yet, so far, I just can't seem to do so... Maybe I think in the passive voice.  

Anyhow, the rest of the comments were encouraging - except that not very many folks seem to be reading or writing Sword and Sorcery, even though I have heard "we get a lot of Sword and Sorcery" in various places.  Really? Sign me up, because all I'm seeing is urban fantasy and steam-punk fantasy.  Maybe we only really notice what we are less interested in and after devouring what we are interested in, are always on the hunt for more.

Sunday, 9:30:

I went to several good panels yesterday.  The first was on the Writer/Editor Relationship, which was probably the least informative, but still interesting.  Perhaps the most useful part was the little list they created at the end of the discussion of the most common mistakes:

  • Get your commas right.
  • Don't write a cliché - write a unique character with unique problems.
  • Get the editor's name right or use Dear Editor or Editors (and not Dear Sir).

The second panel was on disasters that might occur during a book launch/marketing process.  I think the best advice was to actively peruse communication with all parties involved, double-check things (politely), and follow up if you haven't received an answer.

The final panel I went to was the best - it was very well moderated and had useful information on selling short stories.  I already use Duotrope, but was pointed towards another website, Ralan, as another resource.

Just now, I am on my way to another panel on Online Markets...

Sunday, 12pm:  

I think the two most useful pieces of information from the Online Markets panel were to research markets and editors in print anthologies, and strategies of evaluating online markets that you are unfamiliar with.  It was also interesting and encouraging to hear stories from professionals about successes, failures and their masses of rejections.  

I am going to go to a panel on critiquing at 1pm, but then I think I'll head home and get some rest.  I think one of the things that is hardest about the Con is the insistent back ground noise... Or if you're in a pretty quiet panel room, it's usually pretty stuffy. 

Sunday, 2pm: 

The critiquing panel was pretty good.  A particularly useful topic of discussion was learning your own critique cycle - i.e. how long it takes you to take in a critique and be able to use it.  First off it is good to allow yourself the time you need, but it is also important to learn to condense it so you can use the information faster - even brainstorm with the critique group for new ideas and solutions to problems.

Final Thoughts

I am still at a stage where the panels at Norwescon are quite useful from a technical and professional point of view.  However, I can see that after a few more cons and a bit more experience, I will have advanced beyond many of these panels.  I hope that I will then be able to network with other writers and enjoy some of the panels that are more fun or general interest.  After that, I hope I will be at the point where I will be able to be on panels and participate from the other side.