Bits and Pieces—Blog Tour, Writer’s Conference

First, congratulations to Mirtika Schultz on her first place award in the Genesis Contest. I’ve read some of her short fiction and know she is a strong writer, so this award was not a surprise.

In my post over at Speculative Faith I’ve made other comments about the state of CSFF based on some of the happenings at the ACFW Conference. Mind you, I focused on the positive, but we SFF writers heard more than our share of no‘s. Nevertheless, I see some signs pointed in the right direction and think it’s important to build on those.

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In October the CSFF Blog Tour will be six months old. I am happy with the increasing interest in the tour—from published authors, editors, CSFF fans, and friends. It is operating the way I hoped, but I’d like to do a little evaluation.

First, I think we do several things well. One is the selection of authors or web sites to feature. Rather than drawing only from those who have signed up to participate, we select what to focus on based on what will raise the profile of fantasy. Keeping that goal in mind, we look for authors who have paid their dues—and ours too—by pioneering the field. We also look for quality writing and staying power.

In other words, we are not an “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” organization as some folks may think. Many of our participants, like me, have nothing more to gain from supporting these other writers or web site creators other than the increase in popularity of our genre.

Which maybe explains another strength. Our participants have the freedom to like or not like our chosen feature. We have no stipulation about holding off criticism. Instead we want to build a reputation for trustworthiness. When we endorse something, we want our readers to know that stamp of approval means something and isn’t automatic just because the particular object bears the SF or fantasy name.

At the same time, by participants linking to one another, we create a true tour, in which a reader can surf around the web and read the various bloggers’ opinions and, from that composite, formulate an educated conclusion that might encourage them to act.

But that leads us to a few things I’d like to see us improve. To start off, I’d like to see us bringing in more readers. We might need to do a better job of advertising our tours or maybe we need to hold more contests to encourage readers to drop by. We’ve had several writers mention the tour in their newsletter. We would benefit from more of that kind of publicity.

Another way we can spread the word is by linking to the CSFF Blog Tour site set up and maintained by one of our participants, Tina Kulesa, Christian Fandom’s new fantasy editor.

Along with that, I think we need to challenge our readers to do something about our recommendations—i.e., buy books, the good ones that we can highly recommend. The thing that editors and marketers will notice the most is sales. It’s not enough for us to create a buzz on the web and elevate our featured item on the Technorati list. We need our readers to buy and tell at least two friends to buy while they in turn each pick two friends to tell to buy.

In that vein, our web site tours are important because they are resources for readers who might ask, “What do I buy after I finish book X that I loved?”

Recommendations. That’s another something that we should keep in front of readers. Hardly a week goes by without someone doing a search for “best books.” We need to offer our opinion. So maybe that’s what I’ll do this week: make some reading recommendations for the remainder of 2006.

Published in: on September 25, 2006 at 4:47 pm  Comments (6)  
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