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Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Weirdness Rodeo


I've poached the 'Weirdness Rodeo' name (and category tag) for these occasional ramble-fests. But the content - link-wrangling, odd connections and thinly-veiled contribution self promotion - is the same. I just like the title more. 

Because... data

This year's crop of DGLA finalists, complete with, and Goodreads ratings - plus page count and DGLA history. Sanderson's numbers are unreal. (Download CSV / Download PDF)

Gazing At Millennials In the Desperate Hope That They Gaze Back at You

I view Dazed's soapbox with a fairly hearty grain of salt at the best of times - especially when they chest-poundingly announce the #dazedgeneration (#unironichashtaggingalert) - but there are few good points in their screed. Maybe.

To balance out their woolly qualitative rambling, here's some broad quantitative stuff (all collected by Edison research, and embedded in this beast of a document):

  • In the past two years (since Spring 2013), the number of 12-24 year olds saying Instagram is their "most important social network" has leapt from 18% to 32%. (Which means, of course, the inevitability of this.)
  • Over the same period of time, Facebook fell from 34% to 14%. Twitter's been on a gradual decline (now at 24%), whereas folks like Pinterest and Tumblr have stayed flat (and largely insignificant at under 5% each).
  • That said, Facebook still has 74% of the audience, and Instagram 59%, although those numbers are on opposite tracks as well. 

And, finally, some comparisons between Millennials and Gen-X, from the point of view of employers. Millennials are infinitely more "narcissistic" (80/20) but also more "creative" (66/34) and "open to change" (72/28). And, most interestingly, equally "optimistic" (50/50). I suspect that any 'compare generation with slightly older generation' survey would provide similar results, but still, nice to know the youth today are the same wild, naive and egocentric assholes we were too.

Discoverability and the "Right" data

Whitefox's John Bond with ten lessons for any publishing startup, including:

If you build it, they will come. Yeah, right

There is no greater myth. You should be worried the very moment you think you’ve cracked it, your business finally has momentum and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy recommendation after recommendation. That should be exactly the time to ratchet up the dial on marketing and PR.

True for most startups and, for that matter, most publishing. A quality product (assuming one's product is quality) is no guarantee of having it found by consumers. Hell, even being found doesn't mean much any more - as retail platforms such as Amazon and Google make discoverability incredibly easy (what doesn't have SEO cooked into it any more?). But to rephrase the secret Objectivist masterpiece The Incredibles, "if everything is discoverable, nothing is". Why should the shopper stop and click on your dinosaur erotica instead of someone else's?

I'm also pretty sure a doohicky like Tablo isn't the solution - marketed for "authors that are serious about their writing", says the CEO. The app gives in-depth analytics as to reader behaviour within the book. Where they start reading, where they stop, etc. Apparently these analytics are available to big publishers (they aren't - Amazon has them, but Amazon shares data about as frequently as Smaug will cut you a payday loan). 

First, although nifty in an NSA kind of way, "serious authors" still need to get their books in readers' hands in the first place, else they're just drawing conclusions from a sample size of "mom". (She loved all of it, dear.)

Second, I'm not sure what this is all about: "traditional publishing companies exist to put an author in front of readers. They’re the gatekeepers between an author and the reader, and they’re becoming a lot less relevant." Assuming that all is true (it isn't), if the alternative is books that are algorithmically-scripted to fit some pre-supposed notion of reader demand, a bit of gatekeeping is a good thing. I'm all for gates between us and "serious authors" punching out - literally - by-the-numbers work. 

Pornokitsch Contributors Elsewhere

Anne joined us on the Dragonlance reread this week, to talk about her experience growing up geeky and - eeew - a girl. Bonus: she recounts the best Dragonlance game ever.

Over on Hodderscape, Anne demystifies book cover terms. A really helpful guide, with examples.

Rebecca, Jon and Jared went eldritch and squamous (even more than usual), discussing Providence #1 for the One Comic podcast.

Bex is signing Hunter's Kind at Forbidden Planet on July 2!

Mahvesh interviewed Frances Hardinge for Midnight in Karachi, and reviewed Toni Morrison's God Help the Child for Dawn.

Short Story Day Africa are fundraising for their third anthology. The first two were brilliant books, and - speaking of discoverability - a nice way of finding some great new authors. 

If you work in marketing or media... We Need to Talk is a new collection of short stories, proceeds benefitting The Eve Appeal. Anne's one of the four judges (Conville & Walsh's Susan Armstrong is another). All submissions details here.

And finally

Hayley Campbell ponders the apocalyptic scenario of having our draft tweets published. (I don't know about you, but I'm nervously awaiting for the seedy email from Twitter: "£50 or we'll make your 'mute' list visible...")

We're still tinkering around with a newsletter for these irregular round-ups. You can sign up here to receive them by email, but there are no guarantees as to formatting, quality, regularity or even the continued existence of this list.