Rejections…one win and author logos

Lately I’ve been querying more and have been getting lots of rejections. As usual I wonder why the heck I am a writer. We are the most depressing people we know! I won one short story contest which was fantastic and I’ve been promoting that by making a cover for it (The Blue Son), but the glory is over in ten seconds!

With this COVID stuff going around, everyone is scared and rethinking about what’s important to them. I’ve been writing a more since I’m leading a writing group for the Canadian Authors Association’s Toronto Branch and have an obligation to keep writing. I horrified a few writers by confessing that I tossed out the draft manuscript for my second vampire book (sequel to The Undead Sorceress) and am starting again from scratch. Between publishing my first book and now, I have learned a lot from my creative writing teachers, my style has changed and my ideas of plot lines for the book has been thought out more. I’m also selling/publishing more short fiction as they are easier to pitch than novels. For the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop, we are working on another anthology and that will probably come out next year.

Today a friend sent me an article about author logos. It’s a pretty good read and talks about advantages of having one. Similar to any corporate logo, it will only take you so far because at the end of the day, you still need a good product (your writing). I made one as an exercise for fun and am not sure if it works or not. The logo has robots because I write a lot of sci-fi/people and the flower is for fantasy/Asianess. I write horror too, maybe I should have added some bloody drops? Or a ghost rising out of the flower? Should I add I’m a publisher too? Will have to think about this some more!

Please enjoy your time while this COVID nonsense is going on and stay safe!

Ricepaper Magazine Patreon Setup

It’s not a secret that many not-for-profits often struggle with coming up with funds to keep alive. Ricepaper Magazine is not an exception as an example of a publication that is trying out different things to gain access to public grants and private funding.

As a Senior Editor for Ricepaper, my title is quite loose since it’s a small organization. I do a lot of writing, interviewing, partnership building, event planning (LiterASIAN Toronto) and now something new I’m trying out is Patreon.

I’ve tried setting up on Patreon before and some of my friends on it have collected $0/month to a few hundred dollars total. I only know of one person who is surviving as a full time writer on Patreon and they are not rich.

Similar to Kickstarter, Patreon people pledge to give funds on a monthly or project basis in exchange for something. Since mainly artists and writers are on Patreon, the “creator” can give away music, artwork, writing, videos, magazines, etc in exchange for funding to create.

I’m working on the “about” Patreon page and looking back at the amazing magazine covers that Ricepaper has had in the past. There are days when my family and friends suggest I should quit Ricepaper to concentrate on just being a writer, but I tell them that there are few platforms for Asians in English and I believe I’m doing good by helping this ship stay afloat.

Sharing a few covers and when the Patreon page is up I’ll post news about it and hopefully garner some support!

 

What’s In a “Basket of Ridiculousness”?

Since we are doing a Trump: Utopia or Dystopia book launch at Can-Con in Ottawa this coming weekend, we put together a gift called a “Basket of Ridiculousness” as a free draw prize to attract unsuspecting and sort of innocent future readers!

To get free draw tickets, please find me or Jen Frankel and ask us nicely for a ticket at the Can-Con event:

FRI 20:00-20:50 Panel – Braaaains. Please. Sorry  Salon D (Jen Frankel)

SAT 10:00 – 13:30 Dealers Room Table –The Alternate Reality News Service

SAT 11:00-11:50 Panel – Economics of Traditional Publishing Salon E (JF Garrard)

SAT 14:00-14:50 Indie Group Launch Event with food (basket will be given away at this event)

You may think, wait, what’s in this bloody basket worth hunting down strangers for?
The basket is valued at $50 and we put everything we thought we would want into it. So if no one wins or shows up for the book launch we will divide up the goodies among ourselves! Contents include:
1) A copy of Trump: Utopia or Dystopia to laugh, cry and get angry with.
2) A set of politician masks – Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and Justin Trudeau. In time for Halloween and to re-enact scenes from the Trump book!
3) Lay’s Grilled Cheese chips – it just sounded yummy…and strange…
4) A $10 Starbucks gift card – caffeine just makes the day brighter!
5) Batman Story Cubes – making stories with yourself as Batman, just because.
6) Naughty mug – heck, we’re promoting a Trump satire book!
7) Snickers bars – to eat while watching CNN.
8) Fuzzy Peaches – it’s orange, enough said.
9) Crunch ‘n Munch popcorn – more to eat while watching CNN and Fox News.
10) SPAM – goes hand in hand with fake news.
11) Glow in the dark tie – to transport you to the Oval office.
12) Rubber Ducky Socks – we live in Canada, a tribute to our Prime Minister.
13) Dark Helix Bookmark – to keep your page in the book while you watch the destruction of the free world!
Looking forward to meeting random people in Ottawa and sharing the joy of this Trump book which has fantasy, horror and science fiction stories from writers around the world!

Can Con Planning

The next event I’m attending is Can Con in Ottawa. I’ve never been to this literary conference, but have been told it’s a great event. Since Dark Helix Press never got a chance to launch our Trump book at a Toronto convention, we’ll be launching in Ottawa instead. I’ll be speaking at two panels as well, so it’s a good chance to network with authors/publishers/readers.

For the launch it’s a group event with two other authors for a total of 3 books. We’ll be providing food and drinks since it’s a party! In addition, we’re all doing raffle draws for our books and Dark Helix will be making a “Basket of Ridiculousness” to raffle off specifically to people who will be purchasing the Trump book at the event. We figure it’s only fair to give our supporters extra presents when we can!

indie group lauch FB

Since we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we also mined the inter web for funny images to make a collage for a table display. We had wanted to illustrate that our book was fiction and satire, so we chose images of Trudeau on a unicorn, Hilary saint candles and Trump resembling a Dragonball character.

We’ll have fun anyways regardless of book sales or not as book launches don’t always guarantee sales!

DHP small cancon

collage image credits:

Hilary candle https://www.illuminidol.com/products/hillary-clinton

CANADA IS MAGICAL https://www.lookhuman.com/design/338801-canada-is-magical/tshirt

Donald Trump – And now we will ascending beyond GREAT https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1191009-donald-trump

 

Cover Reveal for Trump Utopia or Dystopia!

Whoopee! The great Jen Frankel and I are almost done editing this Trump book! Instead of 20 stories as planned, we have 30 stories. Too much of a good thing won’t kill you…I think…depends on what…

Anyhow, we revamped the cover too to make it a bit stronger. There were debates over changing the title too, but in the end, we stuck with the same title as Trumptopia, Trumpocalypse, etc were all taken.

It was great to work with all the writers and although sometimes we agreed to disagree, everyone worked hard on polishing their stories. We hope that reader will enjoy the book as we had a fantastic time editing!

This week I’m off to read a new piece about Toronto convention no-nos at the Tartan Turban Secret Readings #5. I honestly don’t know what to expect. There could be 5 people in the room or 50! Looking forward to connecting with local authors and seeing if they know more secrets about success than I do.

I had a talk with the organizer who asked me about where I published other than self-publishing. I said only Ricepaper Magazine and their anthology. Then after hanging up, I realized that I had either written or contributed a bunch of stuff to rather large outlets such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Women’s Health, Book Baby (blog), Authors Helping Authors, etc. I’m just not used to taking credit for stuff. The lesson from my MBA marketing prof: ‘ if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will do it for you!’ obviously didn’t stick to my brain that much.

Over the weekend one of my American friends told me about some course on selling millions of books. I told her that at the end of the day, I believe it’s about creating a good quality story. Marketing/selling is a different skill set than writing, but first you have to write something worth selling!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Mentioned in 2 articles!

(Oops, posted day after Valentine’s – forgot to hit publish button)

Today the landlord and men at my office gave out free breakfast, snacks and roses which was really nice of them. I could not resist the heart donuts at Tim Hortons either. Gosh, it’s been a calorie packed day!

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A few weeks ago I had answered some queries about relationship questions and didn’t hear back from the people. Well, today two of the people contacted me and used my advice in their articles!

One was 14 Things We Wish We Knew Before Getting Married which featured wedding pics and advice from married people. It’s mind boggling to see my picture from ten years ago. I looked so young!

The second article was written for businesses in regards to how people should treat their partners – Experts Weigh In: How do you show love to your partners? 

My husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (something about him finding it annoying) so it was nice that I got fed, received a rose and got to contribute to some articles!

My YouTube Diary – Opening A YouTube Channel

Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.

There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.

One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!

After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is  yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.

Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:

logos

Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.

Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!

Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.

Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…

I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.

One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.

Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!

 

My YouTube Diary – How Do People Make Money?

YouTube appears to be the new gold mine of our century. Are you going to pan for gold? I am! Seriously, as much as I would love to make millions every year, I know that the people making lots of money also work very hard. We can’t see the amount of hours, money spent on equipment and sheer sweat they put in before they became a success. A little bit of gold dust would be nice, nevertheless!

Business Insider has a great article which calculates and breaks down the amount of money people earn on You Tube. PewDiePie (YouTube’s biggest star who critiques video games and makes jokes about them) supposedly pulled in revenue of $10.5M in 2014. After taxes and YouTube’s share, he may have made $4M. That is fantastic, but keep in mind he started doing this many years ago and the big payoff is only now. Another YouTube star is Michelle Phan (beauty and makeup) was calculated to have made about $150K in comparison. These stories are great, but how does one actually make money?

YouTube has ads that you see before and during video viewing. This is called “YouTube monetization.” The person who made or uploaded the video signs a digital agreement with YouTube so that ads can be placed into their videos and there is a split of roughly 50:50. The amount of money made depends on how many people watched the video and if they clicked on the ad or not. Also, longer videos have more ad placements. More details are available on this “Ad Rates Report” page about how YouTube and ads work.

Setting up a video to be monetized is not difficult at all, maybe 30 minutes, tops. However, to make any money, you need lots of eyeballs and different people to watch your video (and yes, YouTube can tell if the clicks come from the same household). Other than professional media (music videos, clips of tv shows) or cute home videos (babies, dogs, cats) which are sometimes bought by the news media; highly viewed videos are either technical (video game, makeup, space rockets, educational, amateur tv shows) or really low brow (pooping, barfing, falling).

Everything comes down to marketing. In our day and age, social media has opened the doors to people to do their own marketing instead of relying on professional companies. However, people are bombarded with marketing from all over the place, so it’s become harder to get someone’s attention. Having good content is always the most solid base for success, but if no one knows about it, then the content will become lost in cyberspace.

One area getting some attention are toy reviews and toy unboxing (opening a toy). Since I have a child, I thought that a good start would be making videos with toys. That $10 piece of plastic I bought should be good for something after it’s been played with for 5 min, right?! Actually, I spent more than $20 on secret Lego Disney figurines because there was a frenzy at Toys R Us with moms feeling up these packages for the figure they wanted while the men shook their heads in the corner. Still, it was quite exciting to open the secret Lego Disney package on camera because I didn’t know what was in it either (felt like doing toy porn and I’m sure that’s out there too)! This is sounding pretty sad…but I’ve had too much excitement lately over a health crisis in my family, so being excited about something boring is good!

In addition, I want my son to learn Chinese, so I have asked my mom to make videos of us playing with toys in Chinese. I have had a maximum of ….wait for this…30 hits!…so far on our video of Thomas the Train counting in Cantonese. The threshold of any money being released by You Tube is $100 and given I’m at $0.02 today (videos have been up for a week), it’s going to take a while!

Since having a child is like opening a black hole near your bank account, I think doing YouTube videos for fun in hopes of earning some money is a good idea anyways. I’ll be blogging about this occasionally when I’m less depressed because I think it’s a funny thing to do. Until then, I’m calling my mom to ask her to think of more video ideas, since our video of Thomas and Mickey buying fruit was viewed as “too Asian” by a friend!

 

 

 

 

Upgrading website!

adsense-128

Now that National Novel Writing Month and my Kickstarter are both done, I wanted to work a on new goal – to revamp my website!  I had looked around for a few weeks while procrastinating during my writing sessions and found a few awesome sites which offer free WordPress themes.  Well, there are actually hundreds of sites which offer free themes, but most of them look the same, quite frankly.  The premium stuff (fully set up site, video tutorials, tech support) is not free, it’s about $50 USD (depends on theme) which isn’t too bad.

WordPress has revolutionized the way websites are built as it’s really website building for dummies who don’t know code (aka – me!).  You install templates and you keep adding “widgets” to customize the site.  Widgets are all those things on the side of websites and at the bottom which display social media icons, posts, calenders, etc.

After a few months of building a basic WordPress website, I felt ready to set up a more complicated site. Of course, my Viking husband laments that I’m not coding much and things could be more beautiful, but I can live with using a standard theme.

These are the two sites I found which offered great free themes with nice designs and lots of widget options:

http://yithemes.com/
http://smthemes.com/

This website uses “Alium” from SM Themes.  My first choice was Memento from YI Themes, but the preview wasn’t working properly and the free one looked too limited. Second choice was Diablo (yes, like the game name), but the words on the demo site were too dark.

It was exciting to learn how to use sliders (the moving thing at the top of the site) as I always wondered how people did that!  The only thing I haven’t learned how to do is build a nice portfolio gallery with pop up words.  I found a few widgets for displaying pictures, but the problem with me is that I have too many words describing the artwork.  Oh well, I’ll figure out how to display things more nicely over time.

Let me know what you think of this new site!