Wednesday, 27 July 2011

You don't -choose- to move to a ghetto

You might have seen this blog post by Zoe Winters about the 99-cent price point. In the first sentence, she admits she's likely to piss some people off with it.

Well, colour me pissed. Or at least annoyed. I don't actually disagree with Ms. Winters' fundamental point - that authors are free to choose whatever prices they want and some will indeed sell at whatever prices they want. What I object to is her tone, and the way she talks about the writing industry as a whole.

Let's start with the term 'ghetto', shall we? A ghetto is, by definition, a minority community. Within the community of self-publishing writers (admittedly ourselves still a minority, I believe), the minority are the people charging more than 99 cents (or at least, more than the $2.99 that makes Amazon's higher royalty rate).

Idiomatically, though, there's much more to the word 'ghetto'. The normal association is something like this: if you're in a ghetto, you're an outcast from society (this is unfair to a great many people who actually live in ghettos because of inescapable poverty or other cruelties of society, but idioms can be like that). To say someone lives in a ghetto is to stigmatise them, and there's no question in my mind that that's what Ms. Winters intended. It's inflammatory and needlessly rude.

So, right from the start, as I read the article, I was annoyed, particularly since, with my intended price point of £1.20 (just shy of $1.80, I think), I'm sure Ms. Winters would tell me I'm in the ghetto. Well, I've explained my choice of price point before - it's the point at which I make £1 per book, and thus a book pays for the time I spend writing it in 6,000 sales. If and when I sell at 69p/99c, it's a promotion, a kind of advertising, for which I consider myself to be paying the 70p (ish) per book that it's costing me, in exchange for reaching new readers. I'm a new author, the most important thing for me right now is not how much money I'm making but how many readers I'm reaching.

To me, the low price point isn't a ghetto, it's a marketplace. 99c is where the readers who are looking for something new go, and I bear them no ill will for that - there's nothing wrong with choosing to buy cheap when you're taking a risk on an author you haven't tried before. In this analogy, higher price points are like high street stores, I guess (and yes, I'm sure the people who run high street stores have a lot of contempt for street-marketers, but that's their problem).

I believe I can make quite a comfortable living at my chosen price point, particularly when I've got a whole bunch of books on sale. Admittedly, I live in one of the cheapest cities in the UK, but right now I'm living on less than £6,000 a year. If my books managed the purported average 4 sales a day, I'll pass £6,000 a year (at least, pro rata) when I publish my fourth book (or, at the rate I'm going, some time shortly after Christmas).

Beyond that, any extra income is a bonus. As such, I don't have any plans to raise my price point later in my career - though obviously this only applies to ebooks; hardcopy is a different matter and I'll worry about a hardcopy business model when I can afford the initial outlay. Once I'm making a living off my writing, why increase the expense to my readers? It just seems like unnecessary arrogance.

The thing that really got my blood up, though, was the bit where Ms. Winters says "[If we're all forced to sell at 99c,] many people currently writing will simply quit writing (or will write MUCH shorter work). Including me. I love writing but I’m not your slave. This is my career right now. If it ever becomes completely unfeasible as a career, I will find something else to do for a living. As much as it will pain me to make that choice."

Obviously, I don't think the 99c price point makes writing unfeasible as a career, as I've just explained.The thing that gets me here, though, is the idea of quitting writing because you can't make enough money at it. I've said before, writing for a living, and particularly writing novels for a living, is a fool's errand. The risk is too great, the pay too sporadic, and the workload far too high.

And if you are making a living at writing, the chances are (even with the boost to author incomes which the ebook revolution has brought in) you could be making a lot more in a corporate job. If you can make a living at writing, you must be pretty smart and have a pretty sound business sense. Those skills are very transferable.

THE ONLY REASON TO MAKE A CAREER OF WRITING IS LOVE. The only way it makes sense to try and make money off your writing is if you love writing so much, if you're so addicted to writing, that you're going to write anyway whatever else you do. Then you might as well try selling it, since otherwise you're just going to have a hard-drive full of time spent (albeit not time wasted).

If you'd stop writing if you couldn't make money at it, you don't love writing enough to deserve to make money at it, regardless of how good your writing is. Go get some faceless corporate job, and I hope tripling your income by so doing brings you half as much joy as I get when I'm in the grip of a new project.

I write because I can't help it. In about the second week while I was writing 'Heaven Can Wait', I tried to put it aside to concentrate on my PhD research. I couldn't. I couldn't even sleep easy while I was neglecting the novel. I had to finish it before I could get any research done. That novel was coming out of me whether I wanted it to or not, and I loved pretty much the entire writing experience. Once I had it, there was no good reason not to try selling it; the additional income is just a bonus, an added reward for doing something I love.

At the heart of the matter, I think the only reason to try to make money off your writing is to free up time you'd otherwise spend working a day-job for more writing.

And yes, there are issues of reader respect involved in the 99-cent price point. Perhaps it would be nice if readers treated our work as if it was worth more. But I have two things to say to that. The first is that Shakespeare, Plato, David Hume, Keats, and a thousand other literary greats are all out of copyright and therefore freely available to all. It's a reader's market, and we as authors have to compete with the greatest writers in history. Maybe Ms. Winters thinks her books are worth more than Shakespeare's plays (hell, maybe they are - I've not read them, or very much Shakespeare), but I have no such illusions about my own work.

That's a slightly facetious point, but it bears making. My other point is more serious. I apologise for not having the precise figures to hand, but how much does a traditionally published author make on £9 trade paperback? If you compare the 99c price point and author margin to that, I think it looks a lot less insulting. Most of what a reader is prepared to pay for a trad-published book goes to the publisher. The book's only worth a couple of quid to the author at best, and I see no reason not to pass the saving in publisher and distribution costs on to the reader.

Let me put it this way: if a supermarket very publicly lowered its overheads and didn't lower prices accordingly (maybe not all the way, but most of it), you'd be annoyed. You'd think twice about shopping there, unless you had no other option, and if you had no other option, you'd feel like you were being exploited, even mocked. There might even be a public outcry, particularly if the lowering of overheads involved a loss of jobs.

Supermarkets do occasionally do that, because they tend to be run, at least at the top level, by douchebags. There's no reason for authors to be douchebags to readers. I'm sure Ms. Winters' devoted fans will happily buy her books at a higher price point, but I'm happy just to be making money back on time spent doing something I love, and I'll take what I can get.

One final thought; the second-greatest pleasure I've had since starting to build a writing career, second only to the writing itself, has been receiving feedback from people who've read my books (and that includes negative feedback - I like learning to be a better writer). The more people who read my books, the more feedback I'm likely to get. The lower my prices, the more readers I'm likely to get. Given the choice between a devoted fan-base who'll pay $5 a book and five times as many readers who can write reviews, tweet with me, tell their friends and so on, I know which will give me more pleasure.

The value of my writing is measured in the number of hours I get to spend doing something I love. Not the amount of money people pay for it.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A writer's retreat (no, not 'in retreat')

Not a writer's retweet, either, though if you could spare one, I wouldn't say no... ;)

I'm about to embark on six days of intense solitude to - hopefully - finish outlining 'Some Kind of Angel', the sequel to 'Heaven Can Wait' (yes, before book 1 is available. I have reasons, but that's another post). By intense, I mean sort-of-intense. I'll be alone in my parents' house (I'm house-sitting for them while they're away looking after my grandma), but I'll have internet access and - doubtless - Twitter on non-stop. On the other hand, I'm not likely to speak to anyone face-to-face for longer than it takes me to go through a supermarket checkout (and even then, Asda have self-checkout now). The house next door is empty, too.

This is as close to a proper writer's retreat as I think I want to get. I have a book with me (book 3 of A Song of Ice and Fire), and my parents have a piano I'll probably play a lot, but other than that it's just me, my outlining notes, and the target of being in a position to start writing when I get back to Liverpool.

I'm actually a pretty solitary person by natural inclination, so this suits me rather well. I have at least one friend back in Liverpool who can't believe I won't go mad - and, in fairness, I expect to be talking to myself constantly by the time I leave, but I talk to myself readily anyway - but I won't have distractions (besides hunger etc.), I won't be going out to meet friends or play drums.

And I can cover every flat surface in the house with bits of paper filled with outlining notes. That's almost as important as the peace and quiet - my outline is spread over a dozen sheets of A3 paper at the moment, with a lot of detail still needing to be added, and in Liverpool I have to keep flipping back and forth between them, which is no mean feat with paper of that size. Now I can at least do the flipping by running around the place, rather than having to fold a broadsheet newspaper every time I want to check something.

I've had good experiences with writer's retreat-type breaks in the past. When I was sixteen, we holidayed in central Germany for a week where it was too hot to move most of the time, and I planned out five whole seasons of a tv show I was planning at the time (this was a fool's errand, but hey, I was 16, and you can't argue with the productivity). A couple of years back, we went to a cottage on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides, where there was no internet and little to do besides stare at (admittedly stunning) mountains all day, and I came back from that with a resurrected webcomic with a month's buffer, and planning notes for a series of novels I still hope to write some day.

I think it's the combination of solitude and targets that makes a retreat work for me - it produces a short, sharp burst of intense focus, and I work best in such bursts. I'm hoping that this retreat will get me through my outline so I can get back to the fun part - the writing. Detailed outlining is HARD WORK, but I can tell that 'Some Kind of Angel' has benefited immensely.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Thanks for drinking!

This isn't really a blog post (no, really). I just wanted to write a special thank-you note to #pubwrite. I've spent the week down in the dumps due to nothing so much as a spontaneous fit of depression (which happens to me occasionally), but last night I found myself on Twitter at about 1 in the morning my time, and #pubwrite was in full swing, and I laughed long and hard enough that it chased the depression away. Serious thanks, guys, particularly to @AJAlto and @LynMidnight for the dead guy bone jokes (and for doing such a nice job of shaving my antennae).

Because this isn't a blog post (seriously, it isn't. Get your eyes checked ;D), I'm not going to try to draw any general lesson from this, except to remember that you have more friends than you know. Hugs all round!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Your book, in 140 characters or less...

Heaven Can Wait: 'Tom is dead, but the Non-Agency are having trouble convincing him of it, and he's falling in love with a living girl.' (actually rather less than 140, but that leaves room for a book link).

I'm not sure that's the best plug I could write, but it's the best I've got so far. There's a real knack to writing good promotional copy, and I think it's one of the most important things for an indie writer to get right. I've been talking for a while about doing a blog post on the topic, and here it is (I apologise for the lateness - I've been delayed by, in order, starting Google+, saving Arkham and Innsmouth from a variety of Lovecraftian horrors, my band and MINECRAFT).

This post is going to be about more than just Twitter plugs - I want to talk more generally about how to write a blurb, of which a twitter plug is just a specialised (and harder) version - but we're going to start with a little writing exercise.

Why? Because it's flat-out the best exercise I've ever done. I encountered it on a National Youth Theatre playwriting course when I was about 17. Like all exercises, the object is not to produce good writing but to practice some particular skill - in this case, brevity.

The exercise goes like this: write a conversation consisting of five lines of dialogue. Keep it fairly simple, but pour in as much tension as you can - no conversing about the weather unless there's a hurricane on the way. It needs to be a scene of high drama, and don't worry if it turns out a bit camp, because you're going to cut most of the words you write anyway.

I couldn't find my original scene that I wrote at this stage, only the final product of the exercise, so I'm guessing a bit, but the scene I wrote went something like this:

A: Don't do this.

B: Why not? What else can I do?

A: Please. You have to believe me, things will get better.

B: No. You don't know how bad it is.

A: But I do! You trusted me enough to tell me, can't you trust me now?

Like I said, not great writing (also, see my previous comment about being 17 when I wrote it). But it'll do.

The next stage of the exercise is to cut it down so that no character says more than 5 words at a time. I'm going to skip that and go straight to the final stage, where you cut it down so that each character only says one word at a time.

Mine came out to:

A: Don't.

B: Why?

A: Please

B:  No

A: But...

Again, not great writing. But you get the same drama, distilled. Remember it's originally a theatre-writing exercise; it's partly about learning to trust your actors and designers to give the context that's been removed from your dialogue (or, as we prose writers call it, showing not telling ;D).

Sidebar: my dad once told me of a similar exercise in an academic context, where you take an article and summarise it, then summarise the summary and so on until you get it down to 1 sentence. I haven't done that here because it would take too long, but the principle is the same.

The principle is, of course, getting to the core of whatever writing you've done, with as few of those pesky words in the way as possible.

Writing in as few words as possible is only part of the task, though; you've also got to pick the right words and the right kind of words. The two go hand in hand; the more right the words you pick are, the fewer of them you're going to feel you need, but while you can learn the right kind of words by just practicing editing down to bare bones, going the other way is maybe easier, so here are some pointers:

1: pick strong verbs. 'Hate', not 'dislike'. 'Refuses to', not 'will not'. 'Can't', not 'will struggle to'. 'Needs' whereever you can justify it instead of 'wants'. You're trying to make the stakes high and the characters distinctive.

2: keep it simple. Don't mention sub-plots. Most of your book is about your main character and his/her main problem; therefore, all of your blurb should be (if most of your book is not about your main character's main problem, please don't sell it to me, however brilliant other people think it is). Your blurb should tell the potential reader who your main character is, and what conflict affects him. In 'Heaven Can Wait', the conflict comes from Tom wanting to linger as a ghost to be with Mary and the Non-Agency trying to get him to go towards the light. Three elements. So, no more than three sentences in the blurb (unfinished and unpolished), something like: 'Tom is dead, but the Men Who Aren't There can't prove it to him. They have to get him to go to Judgement and the afterlife, but he's fallen in love with Mary, who's still alive. And if he tries to fight the Non-Agency, they'll start fighting back.' (needs work, but you get the idea). The only other thing you might need to put in your blurb is some setting information - where does this happen? I haven't for 'Heaven Can Wait' because the setting doesn't play a big part in the story - you could transpose it into more or less any urban setting from any period without losing anything. For something like a Brandon Sanderson high fantasy novel, this wouldn't work, because the magic or the prince's nation or whatever would be relevant. Books set in the real world often benefit from their locations being recognisable, too.

3: don't hedge. You don't need to be perfectly accurate in your description. Obviously, you can't lie - that's the spirit of false marketing even if it doesn't fall foul of any laws. But you don't need to worry about too much precision - no 'sort of's, no 'almost's. Let the reader learn where the limits and details are once they care about the characters, not before.

4: don't fear the cheese. Your blurb is going to feel cheesy relative to your novel. This may not bother you (may even be to your advantage - there's a huge amount of very successful, deliberately-pulpy fiction out there), but it drives some people up the wall. When you simplify and summarise, and particularly when you aim for high-impact writing, you're inevitably going to fall towards Movie Trailer Voiceover Man voice, and that may make you cringe. Don't. All blurbs have an element of the cringeworthy for some audience or other. Don't sweat it - if there's an audience for your book, they aren't going to be put off by a bit of cheese. I bought the series that has gone on to be my favourite books ('Hyperion' by Dan Simmons), because the blurb to book 1 starts 'On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.' (note: 'vowed' is less strong than 'sworn' - don't make this mistake in your blurb! ;D). Some people find that cheesy as all hell. I read it and went 'wow, that sounds cool'.

5: don't give too much away. Obvious, really, but you're trying to show situations, not resolutions - no spoilers! You need a certain amount of mystery/uncertainty to create tension.

That's enough rules for now, I think. There's a caveat to be added to #2, though. I said you should only talk about the main character and the main problem and that's true, but you sometimes see (particularly, I think, with YA and fantasy books) an italicised line at the start of the blurb (which may or may not have a technical name - I don't know) which doesn't really say anything useful but creates intrigue. For 'Heaven Can Wait', I'm going with 'I met a man who wasn't there...' This sort of leader line is something to be careful with - because it's very easy to over-egg it and end up sounding cliched - but it can be quite powerful.

Anyway, that's blurbing. Your writing exercise: write a blurb. Then summarise it in less than 140 characters. ;)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Two and Three make Seven: Outlining Book 2

It's common practice to divide writers into two categories, outliners and discovery writers (sometimes called 'pantsers', as in 'by the seat of your pants'). Obviously, this is a pretty lazy dichotomy until you define your terms clearly; after all, even the most vigorous pantsers must (I assume) think about where the story is going next while they're showering, cooking, hoovering etc, just as even the most detailed outliners must be prepared to accept things happening in their drafts that they didn't expect in the outline.

So let's be a little clearer; let's say that it comes down to whether you need to know how your story ends before you write it, or you need to *not* know how your story ends until you write it. Most debates about outlining vs. pantsing seem to come down to this issue - some writers can't imagine writing if they know how the story is going to end, whereas some don't feel able to write unless they know where the story is going. I'm going to permit myself a little poetic license and call the latter 'journey writers' and the former 'destination writers'.

A journey writer's main interest is going to be - generally - how the characters get there from here, whereas a destination writer is more interested in where they're going. I don't intend to stigmatise destination writers at all, but I am - as you may have guessed - a journey writer myself. I find it very difficult to get through the middle of a book unless I know where I'm headed; I tend to lose interest, or flail around as directionlessly as my characters. The rest of this blog is going to be of very little interest to destination writers, I'm afraid.

Anyway, I'm currently in the process of outlining 'Some Kind of Angel', the sequel to 'Heaven Can Wait' (which will be on sale by the end of this month come hell or high water), and I ran across a talk on YouTube by Dan Wells which has been so useful to me that I thought I'd share it, and some thoughts on it that I had by myself.

First off, WATCH THE AWESOME VIDEO, SERIOUSLY. It's quite long, but if you have to choose between reading the rest of this blog and watching the video, watch the video. I'm humble enough to accept that Dan Wells is more insightful on this topic than I am. ;D

Wells describes a 7-point story structure which BLEW MY MIND. You've heard of the three-act formula? This works the same way, except with seven points, because more is always better, right?

Actually, with outlining, I think more usually is better, because it means more detail, and thus less time spent worrying about plot developments when you're trying to write rounded characters. But there's more to it than that.

The three act structure runs like this (as I understand it): act 1 - characters encounter a problem, act 2 - problem gets worse, act 3 - characters solve problem. In the video, Wells repeats a Brandon Mull quip I love; "Act 1, drive your characters up a tree. Act 2, throw rocks at them. Act 3, get them out of the tree."

I used the three-act structure to write 'Heaven Can Wait'; the morning I woke up with the idea, I started looking for what the initial problem is, how to make it worse, and how to solve it. It worked fine, mainly because structurally, 'Heaven Can Wait' isn't very complicated, and that gave me lots of room to make the characters interesting and the world rich.

But there's another aspect to story stucture which isn't implicit in the three-act structure, which is that for the first part of the story, your characters should be reacting to the bad guy, and in the second half the bad guy reacts to the characters. Sometimes called the two-act structure, I prefer to think of this as the Benny Hill formula (Benny chases girl until they go past a dog or policewoman, who then chases Benny).

The advantage of Wells' 7-point structure is that it combines 3-act and Benny Hill. It goes:
1 - starting state
2 - plot turn 1
3 - pinch 1 (add pressure to the situation)
4 - mid-point (characters go on the offensive)
5 - pinch 2
6 - plot turn 2
7 - resolution

Break this up into three, and you get act 1: starting state and plot turn 1, act 2: pinch, midpoint, pinch, act 3: plot turn 2 and resolution, or 'create problem, make it worse, solve problem'.

Break it up into two, and you get part 1: starting state, plot turn 1, pinch, mid-point, part 2: pinch, plot turn 2, resolution. Or to put it another way, part 1: bad guy creates problem for the characters, characters decide to solve it, part 2: characters creat problem for bad guy by solving the initial problem.

I'm possibly not explaining that as clearly as I want to, but I hope it makes some sense. My point is basically that the 7-point system really helped me understand how the different parts of the 'Some Kind of Angel' story could fit together. Most importantly, it stresses in a way that other structures don't the need to raise the stakes and add pressure (i.e. the pinches). I often struggle to make the stakes high enough for my characters, but knowing where the big pressure points should go has really helped me rack it up on my characters.

And I haven't even got to the bit at the end of the talk where Wells explains how to assemble a narrative out of multiple parallel 7-pointers, which is genius but speaks very much for itself.

Happy outlining!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Vegetation for Writers (and a preview of the 'Heaven Can Wait' city map)

No, not that kind of vegetation. You're a writer, you're not allowed to go outside (Happy 4th July, Americans ;P).

That said, you are allowed to spend a certain amount of time vegetating. As previously discussed, writers are awesome brainy people who spend their 'on' time braining very hard indeed. Well, a person only has so much braining in them per day, and it's important to take breaks so you don't burn yourself out.

But taking breaks is dangerous; there are all sorts of breaktime activities which will kill your productivity if you take too many breaks or let them run too long (never, never, never, take a break to read a book, because 'just 5 more pages syndrome' will ruin you). It's important to strategise your breaks to avoid this. Taking efficient breaks will make a huge difference to your work rate.

You need to pick activities which fit your ideal break length. One thing that works for me is playing the piano. I tend to play pieces in the 6-10 minute range, and two or three of those make a very neat break, just enough to settle my mind and let the next few thoughts fall into line. That fits quite neatly into the half-hour-on, half-hour-off pattern of #wordmongering (which I highly recommend).

This weekend, I found another trick, one that might sound incredible to some. Here's what I managed to get done between yesterday and today:

Cohlin is the city in which 'Heaven Can Wait' is set. I've been working - painfully slowly - on this map for about a week and a half, but I did well over half the work in the last 24 hours. Why? Thanks to one of the most addictive videogames ever created.

I'm speaking of Minecraft. The first time I tried Minecraft, I spent a week doing nothing else. It was fun in a vacuous sort of way, but it's time I'm not getting back. This time, however, I alternated 10 minutes of map-drawing with 10 minutes of Minecraft thanks to the game's day-night cycle.

I'm not saying this will work for everyone or every task, but it was perfect for this one - it allowed me to work in short, intense bursts and kept my playing very thoroughly under control because if I stayed outside at night in-game, monsters came and killed me (death threats are, as ever, pretty effective motivation).

Anyway, the golden rule is that you have to find what suits both you and the task. How big is the task? How frequently can it be interrupted without you losing the thread of it? What do you do that rests your brain?

Also, do you like my map? ;)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Standing to Run Still

or, why I still haven't published my book, and why I'm not on Facebook. And a bunch of other stuff.

There are two main reasons I haven't published 'Heaven Can Wait' yet; I'm still waiting for responses from a few beta readers (if I get them all back in, I'll have had 10 lots of feedback, but I'm only going to wait a couple more weeks at most), and I'm still waiting for a cover image.

But there are things I could be doing that I'm not. I'm not on Goodreads, for example, and I'm not on Facebook (yes, I know it's hard to believe there are still people my age not on Facebook. I'll get back to that in a moment). The reason for this is simple: at the moment, I have nothing to sell, and thus nothing to promote. I don't believe the conversion rate from people seeing me on Goodreads now to sales is going to be worth time I could be spending actually getting the book ready.

At the moment, for a promotional activity to be worth the time, I've got to be able to make such an impression that people remember me for what might be an entire month until the book's available. I'm on Twitter in part because it allows me to do that, by means of a constant stream of - hopefully - memorable tweets. Twitter also has other benefits, in terms of meeting authors and discovering resources, which I don't think many other places I could be active offer (that said, if anyone has any Google+ invites...?)

What I'm actually spending my time doing (when I'm not laid low by hayfever or distracted by videogames) is working on the book. I'm not doing a lot of editing right now, but I've still got to prepare a preview of book 2 (which is involving a huge amount of work outlining and preparing book 2, work that needs doing but is taking a while) and make a map of the city - which is an insanely finicky job. I hope to have the result to show sometime next week.

As for why I'm not on Facebook... well, to a certain extent, this. But there's more to it than that. You may have heard the quip 'Twitter makes you love people you don't know, Facebook makes you hate people you do know'. I feel there's something in that. Not only does going on Facebook open me up to the risk of being 'friended' by people who picked on me in high school (of whom there are many, though I brought it on myself), but it's also a much more backward-looking system.

Let me put it this way: on Twitter, you're actively encouraged to seek out new people - Twitter's own website constantly throws up suggestions for people you might find interesting, and everything is geared towards meeting new people. On Facebook, the new people you meet are friends of friends, and the main focus seems to be on keeping in touch with people you know or used to know.

Well, I know the people I know. And if I used to know someone and fell out of touch with them, it's usually - not always, but usually - because I decided I wanted to. I'd much rather my real-life friends (he said, as if he had any friends in real life - or indeed as if he had any life outside the internet) keep in touch with me more privately, by phone and email and - best of all - face-to-face. I'm prepared to accept that Facebook is a useful tool for managing event invites, but I don't want to actually socialise on Facebook.

Maybe I'm being irrational. But I'll leave launching myself into the Facebook ocean as late as possible.

Wow, this was a really rambly post... I thought I had a lot more to say than this. I've got blog posts planned on outlining, blurb writing, and the map for (hopefully) the coming week, so check back then for actual content! ;)