2016/08/30

Off to SLCCC

I'm heading off to the Salt Lake City Comic Con tomorrow. I planned and booked the trip before I found out that Souldancer is a Dragon Award finalist. Otherwise I'd have gone to Dragon Con, but Larry Correia will be at SLCCC, and it should be a good time anyway.

I'll be unavailable for a few days, so let me take this chance to once again thank everyone who nominated Souldancer for Best Horror Novel and to remind everyone to vote. Let's win this thing!

P.S. I used up all of my Amazon free days, but even if you missed the chance to download Souldancer for free, it's still 50% off until tomorrow. If you already own Souldancer, get the whole story by picking up Soul Cycle Book 1, Nethereal.


2016/08/29

There Will Be No SFF Reconciliation

Only replacement of the intellectually, morally--and often physically--sick post-Campbellian fans, editors, and publishers who came to dominate the field in the 1970s.

Insane Asylum
The SFF "Field"
Baen author Brad R. Torgersen relates his experiences with the SJW monoculture in SFF:
The mandarins of SF/F expend a lot of energy wrapping themselves in the flag of tolerance. But as any conservative can tell you, that tolerance runs pretty much one-way. A tolerance conversation (liberal to conservative) in SF/F often goes like this, “Hello, I am a tolerant caring compassionate liberal, and you’re not. You will sit there and politely listen to all of my ideas and theories, and not say a word. I will sit here and listen to all of your ideas and theories, and then I will explain to you why you’re a dirty bigot and a hater and an evil human being. We will both agree I am right, and you will apologize for being bad.”
That, dear friends, is how “tolerance” works in SF/F at this time.
I’ve discussed this at length with Orson Scott Card — he being well acquainted with the tolerance charade — and he says it didn’t used to be like this before 1980. Oh, to be sure, there were plenty of fans, authors, and editors on the left-wing side of the aisle. But it wasn’t so vindictive, nor so personal. You could sit at a table with conservatives, liberals, anarchists, libertarians, and have a rousing verbal melee of competing ideas, but at the end of it, you’d still be able to shake hands, and walk away comrades in the field. That began to change (perhaps not coincidentally) about the time Ronald Reagan took his seat in the Oval Office. Gradually, in dribs and drabs, the dominant left-wing culture of SF/F has traded in true tolerance, for a kind of totalitarian double-think 1984 version of tolerance — people and ideas labeled ‘intolerant’ don’t have to be tolerated. In 2016, with tender snowflakes floating around in SF/F like it’s a mild blizzard, anyone can be labeled ‘intolerant’ for any reason, logical or not. Because anyone can claim to be a Victim (caps v) and in the new vernacular of Social Justice Zealotry, the Victim is always right and always wins. Always.
Fake Mandarins
Not pictured: the mandarins of SFF
Brad goes on to share a telling anecdote:
Three or four years ago, a fellow author lamented — in a discrete conversation among mixed company — that she had to suppress and hide a significant portion of her identity, in order to avoid causing trouble in SF/F. Because she knew her religiously-couched beliefs about a hot-button political topic would make her persona non grata with fellow authors, and also editors. She was crying when she said it. She knew she was baring her soul to a potentially hostile audience. At the risk of using a shopworn phrase, I felt her pain. Quite deeply. About a dozen years ago, it became apparent to me that if I truly wanted to become a “player” in SF/F I would have to learn to mask my beliefs. Either hide them, or pretend (in the company of fellow professionals) that my beliefs were contra to what I actually think and feel. About economics. About how societies and human beings function. About God, and the immortality of human essence. About sex and sexuality. About any number of things. It would all have to be shoved far back into the closet, and kept there. Otherwise, I was going to piss off a lot of people.
A few years later, having broken into the field — and having also failed spectacularly to keep my trap shut — a trusted mentor engaged in what can only be described as an impromptu intervention. To his credit, all of his logic was business-sound: when you are open about your beliefs, you risk alienating part of your audience, as well as part of your professional cohort. So why talk about it? Isn’t the golden rule to never discuss religion or politics? Because this conversation almost always ends in disaster?
My mentor made excellent sense, then. He still makes excellent sense now. And if the field of SF/F were a field that abided the golden rule across the board I am quite sure I’d not feel the need to bang my pot to the extent that I’ve been banging it.
No reasonable observer needs further proof of legacy SFF's decrepit state, and if this were even five years ago, I'd have nothing but sympathy for authors who are driven to tears when the SJWs with whom they surround themselves ostracize them for being anywhere to the right of Stalin.

But neither can a reasonable observer doubt that recent years have wrought deep, fundamental changes in the SFF landscape. Graduates of the final class of authors who learned that toiling in the short story market/tradpub slush pile to land a book deal with the Big Six Five was the only valid career path can be forgiven for their knee jerk identification of "The SFF Field" with traditional publishing.

In Brad's comments, Castalia House blog editor Jeffro Johnson of Appendix N fame has clearly felt a disturbance in the CHORF side of the Force:
The typical journalist or editor today thinks that sff started in the seventies with Le Guinn and Delaney. People that want to talk “old school” generally go for the so-called “Big Three” of Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke with maybe Herbert and Bradbury thrown in. Just watch that WorldCon panel with the magazine editors– it’s not just boring, it’s mind-numbingly typical.
Within the field, complete ignorance of the sff canon is pretty much the norm and it gets worse the further to the left people are. Indeed, most serious leftists cannot read anything written before 1980 and have nothing substantive [to say] about the works.
But watch what happens when people read Burroughs and Brackett, Tubb, and Vance’s take on the ouevre. People get really excited about reading and writing! There’s a reason for that. It has to do with supply and demand and the fact that human nature has not changed in the past hundred years.
The next few years are going to be awesome for sff fans. There will be no restoration or reformation. What you’re going to see is an outright replacement. They thought they could transform sff into a tool for projecting the narrative. In reality, they’ve merely conceded it to us.
Behold the gatekeepers' cries of terror as the Amazon.com Death Star emerges from hyperspace over Manhattan. Only this time, it's joined forces with the indie/Baen/Castalia Houe Rebel Alliance to obliterate an even more twisted and evil foe. Momentarily, and with startling suddenness, the CHORFs will be silenced and we shall have peace.

More importantly, the fans shall have something fun to read for a change.

In a comment on a related post, Tom Simon, essayist extraordinaire sums it up nicely, as is his wont:
Frankly, I don’t understand the people who are still clamouring to get into the mephitic temple of trad-pub SF. Evidently they haven’t read the big sign above the doorway:
INSANE ASYLUM
Or the smaller message carved on the lintel:
ALL CASH ABANDON, YE WHO ENTER HERE
To his credit, Brad also basically gets it.
Oh, to be sure, the split is mostly finished — or so I suspect. Having kicked almost all of the “bad” people out, and made it clear they have no interest in “pedestrian” science fiction or fantasy that does not tip its hat and bend its knee to the their odd little hyper-progressive, mega-pure, ultra-geek culture, the denizens of Trufandom are now having a torrid and incestuous romance with the Social Justice Zealots.
If either Baen or the indie market did not exist, normal fans and authors would be screwed.
Thankfully, both Baen and the indie market do exist.
😀
Indeed.

One small but highly significant clarification: indie isn't just an alternative to the old SFF field. It is a majority of the new SFF field. And judging by its rapid growth, it and nontraditional publishers like CH and Baen will soon be The Field.


If you want a foretaste of the fun, reader-centered future that nontraditional SFF authors are building right now, Check out the first two books in my fan favorite Soul Cycle series. Both books have made it into the top 20 in their respective Amazon categories, and Souldancer has been #1 in category and in the top 100 free eBooks overall.



Souldancer, the second book, is nominated for a Dragon Award, The first book got last place at the Hugos, which might be as big an honor as winning a Dragon.

2016/08/24

Souldancer Makes Amazon's Top 100 Free eBooks

Best Award

Yesterday I kicked off a free giveaway in support of my Dragon-nominated SF/horror novel Souldancer. The idea was to make my book available to Dragon Award voters much as Hugo voters receive a free packet containing many of the works nominated for that award..

Giving voters easy access to nominated books means that those works are more likely to be read, and the voters' decisions more informed. I want Dragon voters to select books, movies, and games that they genuinely enjoyed.

My expectations for the promotion were modest. I'd hoped to give away a couple hundred copies over the five days when the book would be free.

Instead, Souldancer was downloaded over a thousand times, ranking it among the top 100 free eBooks on Amazon.

This achievement was only possible thanks to the help of several friends, including Vox Day, Larry Correia, Nick Cole, David Hallquist, Mr. X, Escape Velocity, Bradford C. Walker, Daddy Warpig, many other dear friends and hundreds of awesome readers. All of you have my deepest gratitude.

Souldancer Amazon top 100 free


What it all means

Unlike Larry Correia's Book Bomb! for Nethereal a few months ago, my motive for the Souldancer giveaway isn't to GET PAID. I'm actually not making any royalties on the eBook version for five days this week. Though sales of Nethereal are up, the proceeds pale in comparison to what I'd have earned from selling over a thousand copies of Souldancer at even half price.

I am making this effort, not for my sake, but for yours. My readers are my beloved patrons and the reason I am both able and willing to write professionally.

If you're reading this post, then you are who I do this for. This past Saturday, your judgment and honor were publicly insulted by a small clique of ageing elitists who believe that they set the tone and tastes of all science fiction fandom.

I didn't initially seek to be nominated for any awards. But when my readers said they found my works award-worthy, I bowed to your will with enthusiasm and vowed to do right by you.

Some of you have asked how I plan to keep this pledge in light of recent events. I'm happy to report that, with your help, we have already made major strides toward shattering the lie that you do not belong in SF fandom.

Souldancer vs. The Fifth Season

These screencaps were taken last night. Well before Souldancer had reached its top position in Amazon's top 100 free eBooks, it had already far surpassed Hugo winner for Best Novel The Fifth Season.

Though The Fifth Season appears on the paid in Kindle Store list at #371, the free and paid sales rankings are based on very similar metrics, i.e. getting into the top 100 on both lists requires moving approximately the same number of books. For context, a book at #99 moved almost ten times more copies than a book at #371--and 5S's rank had slipped significantly by the time SD broke into the top 100.

Last night we demolished the alleged best that the Hugos had to offer. We did it despite placing last in the same contests at Worldcon, and all it took was a free promotion.

Let that sink in: a giveaway that any KDP Select member can run yields a ten times bigger sales boost than winning the most prestigious Hugo award.

I think we've sufficiently demonstrated that the Hugos' value and relevance have drastically declined.


This ain't over

The Hugo Awards are no longer a substantial benefit to authors. They no longer represent the tastes of science fiction fans who want authors to entertain them with fun, honest stories.

This Labor Day weekend, the first annual Dragon Awards will be held at Dragon Con in Atlanta. Anyone can vote in the Dragons for free. It is a true fans' choice award.

Like pretty much all of my colleagues, I uphold awarding works on their merits and not based on the authors' politics. I've repeatedly expressed my aversion to saddling my own works with political messages. SFF stories should be fun; not dreary civics lectures.

The clique that gave The Fifth Season this year's Hugo for Best Novel disagree. They see everything as political, even storytelling. J.R.R. Tolkien, the father of modern fantasy, rebuked them when he said that the only reason to tell a story is to tell a story.

Make no mistake, the same misguided people who destroyed the Hugos will try to corrupt the Dragon Awards. That's not to say that people who do like stories with overt political messages should be silenced. They can sign up to nominate their own favorite works and compete on a level field like everybody else.

Troubles arise when a small group that doesn't represent the interests of wider fandom take control of an award's administration. Their attempts to make the process conform to their fringe beliefs are what kills once prestigious awards like the Hugos, which are now openly given for political reasons alone.

You've nominated my book Souldancer as one of the first ever finalists for Best Horror Novel at the inaugural Dragon Awards. As I said, I reject giving awards based on politics and using stories as vehicles for political points. If I didn't agree with you that Souldancer was worthy of the award, I would have followed John Scalzi's admirable example of withdrawing his nomination.

Souldancer is unequivocally my best work. Enough of you have said the same that it's not necessary to take my word for it. You've said that the book's quality alone merits the award, and I'm not one to gainsay my readers.

Worldcon did gainsay you, though. The same readers who found me worthy of a Campbell nomination were told in no uncertain terms that their judgment and taste weren't up to the Hugo clique's standards when they voted me not just in last place, but under No Award.

Like I said, I don't chase awards. My top priority is serving my readers. After the grave insult they suffered at Worldcon, serving them now means winning the first ever Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel.

Sure, I'm biased in thinking that my work deserves the honors you've nominated it for. But we have data showing that the world's number one book market agrees. To safeguard the Dragons' integrity, we need to show the Worldcon clique that their peculiar preferences don't represent the tastes of all fans everywhere. That means rewarding good works that put fun above politics.

Thankfully the denizens of Worldcon were largely repudiated at the nomination stage. The members and friends of Dragon Con have graced the ballot with an embarrassment of riches. Voting for pretty much anything but the Worldcon darlings will show how out of touch they are.

Among the fan favorites on the Dragon Horror ballot is my friend Declan Finn. He's an upstanding individual, a lot of great things have been said about his book, and I'll be overjoyed if he wins.

The way I see it, and my readers will probably agree, there's one compelling reason to vote for Souldancer over Honor at Stake. Though I value the opinion of Declan's readers, his fans weren't singled out for mockery by having a bunch of snobs say that their guy didn't even deserve to be at the table.

If Honor at Stake wins, Declan and his fans are happy, I'm happy, and the Dragons' integrity is firmly established.

But if the Dragon to goes to Souldancer, you get all of the above (I know that Declan and his fans are good sports). Plus you get the satisfaction of taking an author whose readers were mocked by a bunch of insular elitists from 6 out of 5 under No Award at the Hugos to #1 in the Dragons.

Beyond even the crushing victory we already won on Amazon, it just doesn't get any sweeter than that!

You placed your faith in me, and I proved that we can beat the Hugos' best in the free market. Together, we will win the first annual Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel, reward a deserving book, vindicate you the readers, and most importantly have a damn good time :)

Thanks again to everyone who's read and supported Souldancer. Today Amazon, tomorrow the Dragon!


Souldancer, my Dragon-nominated SF/horror novel, is free in the Kindle Store until Saturday.


Vote for Souldancer and your other favorite books, movies, and games in the Dragon Awards by registering here for free. The registration deadline is Sunday, August 28th. Voting closes on September 1st.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/23

Souldancer Is Free on Amazon

Souldancer

The only good reason to become a professional writer is having stories that you are maniacally driven to share with people. The only way to stay a pro author is to write for your fans--not for editors, not for critics, and not for yourself.

Most authors are insecure introverts who write, at least partially, to seek validation. That's why so many of them sign away their rights to big New York publishers and chase awards.

I don't work with the Big Five. I work for you. Entertaining readers is how I stay in business, so it had better be my number one concern.

Likewise, I could take or leave winning awards. While I've done some light campaigning, most of my efforts have been focused on getting nominated, which helps new readers find my work. The truth is that winning awards doesn't help an author's career much.

Author Nick Cole recently told me an Oscar-related proverb that's well known in Hollywood: "You want to keep getting nominated. You don't want to win."

My main goal as a writer isn't to win awards. It's to do right by the readers who pay my bills.

Recently I was nominated for a Campbell Award. Worldcon considers you and me to be the wrong kind of people. They sent a public message that our kind aren't welcome by voting me below No Award.

Worldcon is a private enterprise. They can blacklist whoever they want, but they can no longer pretend to give awards based on quality. The public now knows that the Hugo Awards are a fraud, and Worldcon is dying.

I would be content to let the Hugos die a slow death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts, but Worldcon made a serious mistake. The insulted my readers.

You said I was one of the year's best new writers. Worlcon said you were wrong.

You liked my work enough to put your money where your mouth is and nominate me for a Campbell. Worldcon says you're cretins with horrible taste.

Some of you even voted for me to win, though it boggles my mind that anyone would vote for me over Andy Weir or Pierce Brown. But hey, you're the readers. You call the shots.

Worldcon drowned out your voice under a lockstep chorus of No Award.

The Hugos used to be the only game in town. The right kind of author kissed up to win, and the wrong kind of author--if he somehow got nominated--took a lot of abuse and quietly went home.

But now there's an alternative. Now a far larger group of fans, in fact fandom as a whole, can honor their favorite works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror across all media. Now we have the Dragon Awards.

The Dragon Awards are administered by Dragon Con, a major Atlanta SFF convention with fifteen times Worldcon's attendance. In stark contrast to the elitist Hugos, voting in the Dragons is free. You don't even need a convention membership.

The SJWs in trad publishing and the legacy media are terrified of the Dragon Awards. They know that a true people's choice award will fully expose the fraud of the Hugos once and for all.

For the sake of my fans, I'm going to help you expose Worldcon's petty award rigging by vindicating your faith in me.

You have nominated my novel Souldancer for Best Horror Novel at the first annual Dragon Awards. I'm deeply grateful, and what's more I will win.

Having the unbiased votes of fandom as a whole take my work from last place in the Hugos to first place in the Dragon Awards will vindicate you and deal a crushing blow to Worldcon's delusions of relevance.

Winning an award offers far less of an economic windfall than I already got from Larry Correia's Book Bomb! I'm not in it for the trophy. I'm doing this for you, but I can't do it without you.

So to help you make an honest, informed decision on your Dragon Awards ballot, I've reduced the price of my nominated book Souldancer to zero. From today until Saturday, Souldancer is totally free in the Kindle Store.

Souldancer Brian Niemeier

My book is available for free. Voting in the Dragon Awards is also free, and the deadline to register is August 28th. After you register, you'll be sent a ballot via email. Voting closes on September 1st, and the Dragon Award winners will be announced over Labor Day Weekend at Dragon Con.

Register for a free Dragon Award ballot.

The old publishing establishment and biased media are dying. Nontraditional publishing models and free, open forums are rising up to take their place. The era of trying to control people's opinions is over. Successful artists understand that they are called to serve their audience.

We can prove that the reign of oligarchs who handed out careers and awards to favorites as if artists were vassals is over. We can send this message by doing something as simple as voting for a humble SF/horror novel to win an award.

You are the readers. You call the shots. I'll keep working to entertain you while waiting patiently for you to express your will.

Hugo delenda est.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/22

Hugos 2016: The Canary in Worldcon's Coal Mine

The 2016 Hugo Awards were held this past weekend at Worldcon in Kansas City, MO. If you only get your news from the same legacy outlets that libeled Sad Puppies leaders Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, and Kate Paulk, you probably buy the Narrative that a cabal of right wing extremists tried to hijack the awards for nefarious political ends.

Because Worldcon welcomes everyone regardless of their personal beliefs and would never expel someone, much less a legendary SF editor, for disagreeing with them.

Midamericon II Dave Truesdale expulsion


This year's Hugos proved that decrepit Worldcon is dying.

Worldcon has released the final voting results for the 2016 Hugo Awards. They tell a starkly different tale than the false media Narrative.

The truth is that Worldcon's militant conformity to fringe politics is alienating the vast majority of SF fans. Everyone from young, up and coming authors to venerable masters of the craft are abandoning Worldcon like miners escaping a pit filled with toxic gas.

Case in point: the No Award-ing of Dr. Jerry Pournelle.

Jerry Pournelle No Award
Dr. Pournelle is the definition of a living legend. He has been working in science fiction for almost 50 years. His There Will Be War anthologies are among the greatest in the genre's history. Yet a majority of Hugo voters deemed him unworthy of consideration for Best Editor. They not only voted him below No Award, they banished him to last place.

Worldcon may as well have snubbed Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, or Frank Herbert. Their shabby treatment of Dr. Pournelle, and their ingratitude for his pivotal role in shaping the genre they claim to honor. proves beyond doubt that the Hugos have renounced their station as sci-fi's most prestigious award.

Even more damning, no sane SF fan can look to the Hugos as a metric of literary quality. It's now painfully obvious that the awards have been corrupted beyond all relevance.

Hugos dead 2
Hugos dead
Hugos dead 3

By now might be thinking that the Hugos are a joke. But it gets worse.

Much, much worse.


Worldcon voters tried to throw child abuse allegations down the memory hole.

Two nominees in the Best Related Work category this year were "Safe Space as Rape Room" and "The Story of Moira Greyland". Both are chilling accounts of the very real child abuse allegations in the same old guard SF community that still controls Worldcon.

You can read both reports at the following links, but be warned, they're not for the faint of heart.

Safe Space as Rape Room

The Story of Moira Greyland

Worldcon reacted to these scathing exposes by first banning them from the voter packet and then voting their entire category below No Award.

Best Related Work No Award

The clique that runs Worldcon has revealed itself as not just politically biased, but as so desperate to cover up allegations of child abuse that it burned its own house down in a clumsy attempt to hide the evidence.

Take it from a lifelong Catholic, Worldcon members. When your leadership tries to cover up evidence of child abuse, it never ends well.


Paying the price for their lack of vision

Worldcon's incessant political posturing, heavy-handed and arbitrary rules, and general depravity are taking their toll on the Hugos.

Best Novel is the most popular category and consistently gets the most votes. We can use it as a reliable metric of the Hugos' public profile.

2015 Hugo stats

2016 Hugo stats

In one year, participation in the Hugos was almost cut in half. That is not a sign of a healthy, thriving award. Worldcon and its signature award is losing a self-inflicted war of attrition.

But speaking of healthy, thriving awards/conventions...


Enter the Dragon Awards

SF fans disgusted by Worldcon's decline have been calling for a new award to replace the discredited Hugos for years. At last, Dragon Con has granted their wish.

Unlike the members-only Hugos, the Dragons are a true populist award that anyone can vote for. In fact, you can register to receive a free ballot right now.

Ask yourself who you'd rather party with:

SF SJWs
Representative Worldcon Attendees
or

Dragon Con Leias
Representative Dragon Con Attendees
Google Trends gives us an indication of the public's answer.

Worldcon trends

Dragon Con trends

Rest in peace, Worldcon. I can't say it was nice knowing you.


The final word

I don't claim to be unbiased in this matter, even though I'm confident that neutral observers will reach the same conclusions from the documented evidence.

If I'm grateful to Worldcon for one thing, it's that I now have something in common with the great Dr. Jerry Pournelle: we both placed last under No Award.

Being snubbed by geriatric perverts isn't what I'd call a personal tragedy. However, the CHORFs have made the tactical error of insulting the readers who nominated me for the Campbell. The Worldcon clique have publicly rebuked my readers by declaring that I was unworthy of their consideration.

I answer to my readers; not a bunch of leftover hippies. To vindicate the fans who believed in me, I will dedicate my victory in the first annual Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel to them.

Though I'm doing this for you, I can't do it without you. The Dragon Award winners will be decided entirely by the fans. If you enjoy my work, you have it in your power to confound the CHORFs who mocked you by taking an author you support from last place in the dying Hugos to first place in the rising Dragons.

To help you out, my Dragon-nominated SF/horror novel Souldancer is now 50% off in the Kindle Store. Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscribers can also download it free of charge.


Vote for your favorite books, movies, and games in the Dragon Awards by registering here for free.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/20

H.P. Lovecraft and Larry Correia: The Stars Are Right Again

It's been another eventful year in science fiction. What better time, with H.P. Lovecraft and Larry Correia's shared birthday occurring on the same day as the Hugo Awards, to repost this classic?

Lovecraft and Larry Correia

Today should be a global holiday for horror geeks. For on this day, the stars aligned not once, but twice, to gift the world with authors of singular vision whose work defined and popularized their genres.

I speak, of H.P. Lovecraft, Prince of Weird Horror, and Larry Correia, International Lord of Hate and Urban Fantasy author par excellence--both born this day almost a century apart.

Long may their works fuel our nightmares of tentacled horrors in forgotten attic rooms, and our fantasies of defenestrating evil lycanthrope accounting department managers!

Hugo Award Ceremony Tonight

Hugo Awards

The 2016 Hugo Awards ceremony will be held tonight, viz. August 20, 2016, at 8:00 PM Central Daylight Savings Time.

If you'd like to listen in, the event will be streamed live via UStream.

If you're averse to schoolmarmish hosting and wooden assholes, Rabid Puppies will be holding their own No Award Hugo viewing party online, starting fifteen minutes before the World Con ceremony kicks off. There's also talk of a few special guests dropping in.

You can register for the RP No Ward show here.

And don't forget, tonight's nominees for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer includes yours truly. If you're among the growing ranks of science fiction readers who now avoid Hugo winning books after repeatedly getting burned by message fic, it's a safe bet that I'm losing to Andy Weir tonight. So feel free to check out my non-Hugo-winning book Nethereal.



Now, my second novel is nominated for a Dragon Award, but since the Dragon is a sort of anti-Hugo for fun books, please register to vote for Souldancer in the Dragon Awards for free here.

2016/08/17

Author Marketing 101: Social Media Profiles

A friend and fellow writer recently asked for help building his online brand. Since my advice is generally applicable to any author engaged in online marketing--which should be all them--I thought I'd share it here.

Profiles
Your profile pages on various social media sites are among your most powerful marketing tools.

Some folks, especially artists, get apprehensive at the word "marketing". That's a counterproductive mindset. Marketing is persuasion--no more; no less, and every human endeavor requires persuasion to succeed.

Sales is persuading a customer to buy from you. Artists aim to evoke particular emotional reactions from their audiences (a form of rhetorical persuasion). Even criminals make pitches to their intended victims.

Whatever your goal, effective persuasion means the difference between failure and success.

Marketing is persuading people to patronize a specific brand. Many artists believe that their brand is their art. This is false. The art is the product. The artist is the brand.

If you're a writer, you aren't selling books, games, or blog posts. You are selling yourself. People won't buy your work until they buy into you.

How do you market your brand? You make it easily recognizable and connect it with positive experience.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you read the words McDonald's, Nintendo, Volkswagen?

Each of those companies' products feature strong visual elements that make their brands instantly recognizable. If they do their marketing well, their customers will associate this brand imagery with positive emotions.

The miracle of the internet allows you to take advantage of the same branding techniques that billion dollar companies use to win hearts and minds.

Your social media profiles give you the chance to tell prospective audience members about yourself, i.e. your brand. Why let the wild, unpredictable web define you on its terms when you can take control and introduce yourself to the web on your terms?

Building a strong online brand requires laying a strong foundation. Here are the steps to building a strong brand foundation:

  • Pick one image to be your avatar on every social media site where you have an account. You want to make it easy for readers to recognize you. If possible, it should be an original piece you produced or commissioned.
  • Statistically, the writer's About page is the most visited page on any blog. Make sure yours includes a short bio that contains a self-defining statement and lists details about your life that are pertinent to that definition. [Note: contra mainstream publishers, readers don't care where you live or went to school unless it's important to your writing.] Copy this bio and paste it onto every one of your social media profiles.
  • Make sure to include links to your blog's main page in all of your social media profiles. The idea is to use your Google+/Twitter/Facebook accounts to create a funnel that will channel readers to your blog.
  • Choose an aesthetic/color scheme that you want readers to identify with you and, like your avatar and bio, carry it over across all of your social media accounts.

Those are the fundamentals of online branding. They're pretty simple, and you'll find that successful blogging is all about building an ecosystem of small yet interconnected elements.

As visual aids, here are screenshots of my own Google+, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook profiles. Look at the images and compare them to the list of steps above.

Brian Niemeier Google+ Profile

Brian Niemeier Amazon Profile

Brian Niemeier Twitter Profile

Brian Niemeier Facebook Profile

That's it for now. I'll let you digest and practice the steps listed here before we get into more advanced material.

FYI, the products I'm supporting through all of these branding efforts are my Hugo and Dragon nominated SFF books. You can buy them here:

2016/08/16

Live Stream Roundup

Once again, I come before you to share the fruits of another podcast-heavy weekend!

First up: a frank discussion with my new author friend Justin on his live stream Writers Talking.

Writers Talking

Justin is a smart and capable guy. I like to see writers like him get a chance, and luckily his book Nomads is in the running for Kindle Scout. You can vote for it here.

And as always, Daddy Warpig and I are proud to bring you another exciting episode of Geek Gab! This time we discuss Zack Snyder's role in the ongoing train wreck that is DC's cinematic universe. Plus, we spend some time talking about the upcoming Dragon Awards, which the fans in all their geekish wisdom have nominated Souldancer for.

Geek Gab

Speaking of Souldancer, my Dragon-nominated SF/horror novel is now 50% off in the Kindle Store. Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscribers can also download it free of charge.


Already read Souldancer? Vote for it and your other favorite books, movies, and games in the Dragon Awards by registering here for free.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/15

io9 Reports on the Dragon Awards. Misses the Point

Sad Puppies Rabid Puppies Dragon Con

Gawker Media-owned science fiction blog io9 weighed in on Dragon Con's announcement of the finalists for their inaugural Dragon Awards. As anyone who's been following the controversy over the Hugo Awards will have come to expect, io9 completely missed the point.

You don't really need to look any further than the headline "DragonCon Releases (Mostly) Puppy-Free Nominations For First Dragon Awards" to know that what follows contains more than your recommended daily allowance of bullshit.

Exhibit A - the report's opening paragraph:
A lot of people in the scifi/fantasy fiction community are still hurting after two seasons of Hugo Awards drama, but another competition is trying to bridge the divide.
Right off the bat we see the narrative template io9 is straining to force the Dragon Awards into with all the success of a camel threading a needle. Translation form the CHORF: "We're royally butthurt that anyone had the gall to expose our dictatorial control over the Hugos. Maybe the Dragons can help salvage some of our relevance."
The Verge called the nomination list a “bit of a compromise between various factions within fandom,” with nominees ranging from the popular to the obscure, with even some self-published works. Part of this is attributed to the fact that you don’t need a membership in any organization to vote for the Dragon Awards—they’re free and open to the public.
It also could be because it doesn’t look like either Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies released Dragon Awards-specific slates.
Cognitive dissonance on parade!

We're three paragraphs in, and io9's narrative has already lost any semblance of coherence.
  • First they exclaim, "Yay! Dragon Con (mostly) kept those dirty puppies out!"
  • Though they quickly walk it back to a “bit of a compromise between various factions within fandom...” 
  • And point out that the Dragons are a populist award with no entry fee
  • Right before mentioning offhand that neither SP nor RP ran Dragon Award slates
  • Without noticing the obvious connection between the last two points!

If one bought the dominant media narrative as regurgitated by Entertainment Weekly and Wired, one might pause to ask, if the Puppies' real unstated motive isn't exposing the small clique that's been forcing their ideology-driven, parochial tastes on the Hugos, but rather stamping out Diversity in SFF, why didn't they release slates for an SFF award that's bound to be at least an order of magnitude bigger?

This is gonna sound crazy, especially if you ignore the testimony of your own lying eyes, but what if the Puppies actually did want to expose the bias in the Hugos, and they didn't issue Dragon Award slates because the Dragons already reflect the unfettered will of SF fandom at large?

To be precise, the Sad and Rabid Puppies have diverging goals. The former want to save the Hugos by opening up voting to as many fans as possible (which the Dragons have already achieved). The latter have judged the Hugos irredeemable and want to see them self-destruct.

Not that io9 cares, because even though their headline only mentions a "puppy-free" Dragon ballot, the claim is predicated on a false equivalence between Sads and Rabids.
The 2016 Rabid Puppies slate has dominated this year’s list of [Hugo] nominees...
In comparison, a couple of Castalia House books were nominated for Dragon Awards this year, but the presence is nowhere near the onslaught that’s overtaken the Hugo Awards two years in a row. 
Note how io9 also reduces "Rabid Puppies" to "Castalia House books". That's a brazen bait-and-switch since the RP slate didn't exclusively feature books published by Castalia House.


Setting the record straight
Let me get this straight, io9. You're calling the final Dragon ballot "(mostly) Puppy-free" because only a couple of Castalia House books made the list?

You sure?

OK. Here's where I demolish your little narrative.

First, let's dispense with io9's BS metric. Instead of "Book published by Castalia House", how about we use "Work or author appearing on the Sad Puppies 4 reading list and/or Rabid Puppies 2 slate"?

Because that's--what's the word?--accurate.

There are fifteen Dragon Award categories with a total of 95 entries combined. Larry Correia has the full list.

For a true apples-to-apples comparison, we can ignore the last three Dragon Award categories, because the Hugos don't give awards to games. (The SP and RP lists included video games in the Best Dramatic Presentation--Long Form category, and some of RP's picks made the final Dragon ballot; so right there, io9's story falls apart.)

Complicating matters further, the Hugos and the Dragons have different eligibility periods (anything first published anytime in 2015 is eligible for this year's Hugos, whereas Dragon eligibility runs from 7/1/2015 to 6/30/2016).

This means that some Hugo-eligible works weren't eligible for a Dragon and vice-versa. However, since io9 is counting CTR-ALT-Revolt! by Castalia House author Nick Cole, which wasn't eligible for a Hugo this year, I'll use their own logic to include books by authors publicly known to be associated with SP/RP.

Finally, Changeling's Island by Dave Freer and The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin were both nominated twice, so I'm only counting each of them once.

Applying these filters leaves us with 76 possible Sad and Rabid Puppies nominees on the final Dragon ballot.


By the numbers

So how did the Puppies fare? Are the Dragon Awards, as io9 would have us believe, (mostly) Puppy-free?

First of all, the total number of Rabid Puppies-affiliated finalists amounted to somewhat more than "a couple of Castalia House books". Out of 76 possible places on the ballot, RP works and authors took eight.

Works
1. Agent of the Imperium
2. Somewhither
3. The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass
4. The Sandman: Overture
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
6. The Martian (film)

Authors
1. Brian Niemeier
2. Nick Cole

So far we've caught io9 indulging in a bit of understatement. But eight out of 76 could reasonably be described as (mostly) Puppy-free.

Now let's see how Sad Puppies, which io9 ignored, performed.

Out of 76 possible entries, 27 works and authors appearing on the Sad Puppies 4 reading list made the final Dragon ballot.

Works
1. Ancillary Mercy
2. Somewhither
3. Aurora
4. Raising Caine
5. The Fifth Season
6. Son of the Black Sword
7. The Shepherd’s Crown
8. The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
9. Hell’s Foundations Quiver
10. 1636: The Cardinal Virtues
11. The Desert and the Blade
12. Honor at Stake
13. Saga
14. The Expanse
15. Jessica Jones
16. Daredevil
17. Doctor Who
18. The Flash
19. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
20. Crimson Peak
21. Ant-Man
22. The Martian (film)

Authors
1. Brian Niemeier
2. Dave Freer
3. Brandon Sanderson
4. Andy Weir
5. Naomi Novik

That's more than 1/3 of their maximum possible nominations. Even unfairly comparing SP's numbers to the absolute maximum of 95 nominees, they still snag over 1/4 of the available noms.

But that's not all! io9's title says "Puppies" without qualification, so we get to add RP entries not appearing on SP's list that also got Dragon noms.
  1. Agent of the Imperium by Mark Miller
  2. The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
  3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain by Hideo Kojima
  4. CTRL-ALT-Revolt! by Nick Cole
This gives us a grand total of 31 Puppy-related Dragon Award nominees, or about 40% of the absolute maximum nominations they could have received!

Granted, that's not a majority. But neither does it justify the description "(mostly) Puppy-free". A pet shop where 40% of the space allowed to mammals is devoted to actual puppies would be exposing itself to false advertising suits by billing itself as "(mostly) Puppy-free".

io9 has clearly missed the real story here. You want to know what the Dragon Awards could rightly be described as mostly free of?

CHORF-approved Dragon nominees
1. Ancillary Mercy by Anne Leckie
2. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
3. The End of All Things by John Scalzi

4. League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

If you said "books favored by CHORFs", you'd be right. These are the only four books I could find on the Dragon ballot that been vocally championed by the World Con clique. Furthermore, three of those books and/or author--the only exception is Scalzi--also appeared on the Sad Puppies 4 list, which tells you why io9 had to sweep SP under the rug in the first place.

The final analysis - total number of exclusively CHORF-sanctioned works on the Dragon ballot: 1.

Oh, wait. Then this happened:
Author John Scalzi, who was very vocal against Sad and Rapid Puppies both years, confirmed this week that he’s declining his Dragon Awards nomination for The End of All Things
In light of these developments, I'd like to suggest a better title to io9: "The Dragon Awards: 100% CHORF-Free".


And oh yeah, my book Souldancer is nominated for Best Horror Novel.

It is both lachrymose and afflicted with hydrophobia. Buy your Kindle copy for 50% off (or download free for KU) now!


Also free: voting for Souldancer in the Dragon Awards.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/11

Dragon Con Voters Nominate Souldancer for Best Horror Novel

Dragon Con Dragon Awards

I'm pleased to announce that my book Souldancer: Soul Cycle Book II has been nominated for Best Horror Novel in Dragon Con's first annual Dragon Awards.

Dragon Con Best Horror Novel Award

To refresh your memory, the Dragon Awards were conceived this year by Dragon Con in answer to SFF fans' demand for a true people's choice award. By all accounts, they delivered. Unlike the Hugos, voting in the Dragons does not require the purchase of a convention membership. Anyone with internet access can cast a ballot.

With this Dragon Award nomination coming hot on the heels of Nethereal's BOOK BOMB! and my Campbell nod, 2016 is shaping up to be quite a year for me. And if you think these achievements are impressive, trust me when I say you ain't seen nothing yet.

Soul Cycle Book III: The Secret Kings is proceeding nicely toward a Christmas launch. Fans who liked the space opera elements in the first two books and wanted more fast-paced action will be especially pleased with the third installment.

On the subject of space operas, regular readers will recall my disappointment with the latest entries in SF's two biggest franchises. Hollywood's hatred for its own audience is well-documented, but changing the sorry state of pop culture for the better requires artists who support Western civilization to out-create the Morlock-run entertainment industry. This means producing new and better IPs, which I'm determined to do. Besides the major award-nominated Soul Cycle, I've been discussing a number of potential projects with like-minded parties. That's all I can say for now. Rest assured that, when an announcement is called for, you'll find it on this blog.

In the meantime, many of my author friends and I have much cause for rejoicing! Congratulations to Declan Finn, John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Nick Cole, Dave Freer, Marina Fontaine, Jim Butcher, and all of this year's Dragon Award nominees.

Special thanks to my fantastic editor L. Jagi Lamplighter, with whom I share this nomination.

Most of all, thanks to my readers. Whether you voted for me or not, if you read my books, you're who I'm doing this for.

Of course, if you'd like to vote for Souldancer, you can register to receive a free ballot here. Registration closes on August 26.

The Dragons don't yet seem to have adopted the Hugos' tradition of making nominated works available to voters for free. Luckily, since I'm my own publisher I can go ahead and do that for them.

If you're thinking of voting in the Dragon Awards and haven't read Souldancer yet, the eBook is now available for free through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. And if you're not a KU subscriber or an Amazon Prime member, I haven't forgotten about you. From now until voting closes on August 31, Souldancer is 50% off through the Kindle Store.

That means you can get both of my books together for less than the cost of most traditionally published eBooks.

It's just my small way of saying BUY MY BOOK AND VOTE FOR IT.


Thanks.

@BrianNiemeier

2016/08/10

Patrikos

After years of watching the culture wars from the sidelines, a close friend recently decided to get off the bench and get in the game. As the primary method of delivering his considerable political/economic/social wisdom, he has chosen to start a new blog titled Patrikos.
Patrikos, adj
1. paternal, ancestral, handed down by or received from one’s fathers
You may recall that I've written previously on the epidemic of men being raised with weak or absent fathers. One of my friend's central goals for Patrikos is to share information aimed at addressing the West's masculinity crisis.
Men face down reality and confront it boldly. When greater truth is revealed, men learn from it and pass it on.
Blogs geared toward instructing men in the skills and knowledge that their upbringing denied them are currently experiencing a surge in popularity. Some of them focus on mundane tasks that the younger generation of men may not have learned, such as how to change a tire or shave with a straight razor. The worst promote a life of empty hedonism fueled by objectifying and commodifying women.

Patrikos seeks to rise above the crowd by finding ways to fill the intellectual and spiritual void that contemporary culture aggressively strives to impose on young men. I can personally vouch for the blog proprietor's firm foundation is scriptural teaching.
The Epistle (letter) to the Galatians was sent by Paul to correct the church of Galatia, they were being led astray by teachers who were having them jump through the hoops of Mosaic Law instead of living freely through Jesus. One of the many interesting things about the book of Galatians is the contrast between Paul and the false teachers in Galatia. As Paul states in the verse I provided, he himself had been a zealot for the Jewish law and traditions as a younger man. He is also sure to point out elsewhere that he himself was a notorious and violent persecuter of the church, until his conversion.
It must be said that Paul’s father instructed him as well as he could, he was about as devout as a Jew could be, or can be for that matter.
All of this to say what? Paul was the man he was raised to be, but when given new information he became the man he was supposed to be. While others, with perhaps only a superficial understanding, attempted to converge the education of their youth with the adult truth. 
Read the rest of his excellent exegesis here.

Let's welcome Patrikos to the wild, wonderful Thunderdome that is the mid-culture war internet. I'm confident that with our prayers and readership, he can make a positive impact.


P.S. If you don't care about politics and could use a break from the culture wars, I wrote two SFF books that have nothing even remotely like current politics in them.

2016/08/09

Grow or Die

Grow or Die - David the Good

Where does food come from?

If you said "Wal-Mart", you're probably beyond help and can stop reading now. Go in peace and spend the remainder of your days in whatever fashion seems best to you.

If you said "from a farm" or, even better, "my back yard", I have the book for you.

I got a free copy of David the Good's Grow or Die as part of my cross-promotion with the publisher. That said, I'd buy this book in a heartbeat. So should every prepper and survivalist, plus anyone who'd like to continue eating if the grid goes down.

This is not a book for hobbyists interested only in growing flower gardens and decorative shrubs. Instead the author is writing for people with the foresight to start planning how they'll feed themselves and their families when, say, labor strikes, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters disrupt food shipments to Wal-Mart for an extended period of time.

In Grow or Die, David the Good provides all of the information you need to plan, till, fertilize, water, nurture, and harvest a garden capable of sustaining your family in a long-term crisis situation. He also covers the best ways to preserve and store uneaten produce after the harvest.

A comprehensive list of tools, an alphabetical crop catalog, and a handy quick start guide make Grow or Die an indispensable resource for getting your survival garden up and growing fast.

A super informative survival gardening book written in an engaging, funny style. Highly recommended for serious survivalists and general gardening fans alike.

If you prefer fictional apocalyptic scenarios, I also have a book for you--two, in fact. Even David the Good took time out from hoeing, making ponds out of hot tubs, and fertilizing crops with his own urine to read them. You can't ask for a better endorsement!


@BrianNiemeier