Balancing Your Platform Vs Your Writing

For the majority of the writers out there, a platform, usually accomplished through an online presence (a website, blog, equivalent soap box), is necessary to let readers know that their work exists and should be purchased at the soonest possible convenience. Of course, there are writers who can thrive without websites, twitter accounts and the like, but their names usually end in things like King, Rowling, Meyer and Gaiman (and that’s not to say that these authors don’t put a lot of time and hard work into their platforms, signings, appearances, etc, because they do).

But for the rest of who don’t share such last names, prestige, or wildly successful Mormon vampire franchises, the online presence is almost a necessity. And one of the biggest questions that arises when talking about an author’s platform, is how much time should a writer dedicate to their platform and how much time should be spent actually writing their manuscript?

Well, there really is no easy answer to this dilemma because there is no rule that says either of these things are necessary. Some people may just want to blog and socialize, working on their books in a very casual and gradual manner, and some people just want to write books and be left alone. That’s absolutely fine for an author to do that, but I think this post is more for the writers out there who are trying to find some semblance of balance between the two worlds.

If I had to come up with an ideal ratio, I would say I personally shoot for an 80/20 split in favor of my time being put into manuscript writing. Do I always hold to that? No. Absolutely not. Realistically, I think most days I probably fall into a 60/40 split with my platform occupying a bigger chunk of the day as a mild procrastination tool on the creative front. On the really bad days, I drift into an unenviable 90/10 split in favor of blogtwitterfacebooking and those nights often come to a notably unproductive end with me making pancakes, watching ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and cursing my characters for not being as cool as Han Solo.

If you really want to get a feel for where you are in the ongoing manuscript vs platform battle, there is an easy test. Close your eyes and ask yourself this question. When you have a full day free for writing, is your biggest problem for the day trying to form your characters, outline your plot and punch out your 1,000 words or is it trying to break out of the cycle of constant twitter checks, website maintenance and email drafts? If it is the latter, it might be time to try to limit your time spent on social media and forge some new routines. Try to dedicate certain times of the day to answering emails instead of checking every five minutes. Treat checking a chunk of your tweets, posts, etc at the end of the day as a reward for a productive day on the narrative front. Or if you have a word count goal for the day, check your messages early in the day, then work straight through until you hit your goal. Then you can dip back into the twitterverse guilt free.

Another easy way to get your writing back on track? Subscribe to a writing magazine like Writer’s Digest or Poets & Writers. I know you would think that periodicals like this might provide another excuse to distract yourself with interviews, contests and writing prompts, but for me it has the opposite effect. After I read a couple of articles on inspiring author successes and upcoming writing conferences, I always find myself back at the computer in a matter of minutes with a renewed sense of inspiration and clarity for my writing. These magazines also feature a lot of helpful articles on budgeting your time as a writer too.

I know it may be cliche to suggest that the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to forge new routines and find new motivation for your work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Why not take a shot at improving your word count output or page revisions in a day? Use some mid-year goals for motivation. Is this your first novel? Then why not shoot to be drafting a query letter for agents by July? Are you working on a series? Why not try to have the series outlined and in progress by May? Either way, it’s up to you to take the initiative and make 2015 a memorable year in your writing career, so get going!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer #3

New and improved! Now with even more Benedict Cumberbatch dragon voice and stubborn dwarf posturing. But seriously, this needs to get here soon. I don’t want to wait until Dec. 13 to see it.

The Dark Tower Movie Is Dead

At least at Warner Brothers it is. According to recent reports, the studio has passed on a massive deal from Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment that would have seen Stephen King’s fantasy epic both in theaters and on television screens as part of a multi-part movie/mini series combo. With Dark Tower already an epic book series featuring ancillary comic book materials, this deal would have made Dark Tower available on every story telling medium short of video games and interpretative dance (at least one of these is apparently in the works though).

But do not fear for those of you who may think this is the death knell for seeing Dark Tower on the big screen. There are already rumors swirling that MRC (Media Rights Capital) may be stepping in to try to ink a deal for the property as reported by twitch film. We’re not sure if Ron Howard’s involvement with the project would carry over to MRC (more than likely it would), but we hope that it remains in good, non-Michael Bay hands if it does jump to MRC.

For now, all we can do is wait and see what happens with Dark Tower’s limbo status. While we wait, why not stoke the fires and decide who should play Roland? Javier Bardem and Russell Crowe have been rumored to play the role, but why not throw some more unorthodox names into the arena? How about Timothy Olyphant? Or Guy Pearce? Or Hugh Jackman? Or Nathan Fillion? Or James Franco? Or not James Franco? Or just use a bunch of stock footage of Clint Eastwood from Unforgiven and Gran Torino? What do people have their money on?

Odds on actors playing Roland:

Russell Crowe: 2-1

Javier Bardem: 4-1

Michael Fassbender: 7-1

Guy Pearce: 11-1

Viggo Mortensen: 15-1

Hugh Jackman: 20-1

Nathan Fillion: 40-1

Mads Mikkelsen:45-1

Composite Footage of Clint Eastwood: 50-1

A Cardboard Cutout of Lee Marvin: 75-1

James Franco: 200-1

‘The Exiles of the New World’ Launch Recap

So, the signing/launch for ‘The Exiles of the New World’ was this past weekend and it went really well. Big thanks again to Jano from Iconic Publishing for coming up to facilitate the launch and to Open Books for hosting the event. The staff at Open Books are superb and I have nothing but good things to say about them and the program they run over there. The turnout for the event was great and the booing was minimal to non-existent, and that is all you can ask for with a first signing. But seriously, I am truly thankful for all that came out to make it a wonderful evening. I am lucky to have such a great group of people in my life and I cannot thank them enough.

We managed to fit a short reading, a Q & A and a signing into the evening. I’m sure my Q & A answers sounded like nonsense, but I suppose that’s what happens when you drag a writer away from their computer. But to the best of my memory, I didn’t have too many Sarah Palin moments, didn’t get in any heated arguments with audience members over the Oxford comma, and it was a lot of fun when all was said and done.

‘The Exiles of the New World’ Release Week

So, this week is the release week for my book, ‘The Exiles of the New World.’ I’ll be doing the book launch/signing this Friday at Open Books here in Chicago from 6:30pm-8:00pm. If you are in the city, stop by and say hello. No obligation to even come for the book. Feel free to swing by and we can talk about how the Cubs have mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention after only 10 games of play. Definitely a personal best for them. Either way, the book should finally be available in paperback on Barnes and Noble and Amazon now.

Interview With Monica Leonelle

Today, we interviewed fellow Chicago author Monica Leonelle to promote her newly released novel Socialpunk, the first in her YA cyberpunk trilogy. In addition to Socialpunk, Monica is an accomplished marketer and author of the YA urban fantasy series Seven Halos.

– How did your writing career begin?

Really, it began when I wrote my first novel, about two years ago. That’s when I knew there was nothing else I could do. I’m still a struggling writer in a sense, and I definitely have several side jobs that help me pay my bills. But ultimately, I think of myself as a writer.

– What are some notable influences on your writing?

C.S. Lewis heavily influenced my first novel series, called the Seven Halos series. The first book is Silver Smoke and the second book, Tin Soldier, is out in May. I’ve also been influenced by several young adult authors, including JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater and Suzanne Collins.

– How did you come up with the idea for Socialpunk?

I love social media and digital technology, so the idea formed naturally. I wanted to write a cyberpunk series, and for whatever reason, winters in Chicago remind me of movies like The Matrix and Minority Report. The idea just kind of sprang from the intersection of these topics.

– If Socialpunk was made into a movie, what would your ideal cast be?

Brenda Song would probably be my choice for Ima. Ember is a tall girl, but for some reason I think Kristen Bell could embody her. The guys are more difficult, but maybe Cam Gigandet for Nasser, Hunter Parrish for Dash, Matt Lauria for Vaughn, and Raza Jaffrey for Nahum. Of course, most of those people are television stars, so I probably wouldn’t get any of my choices if there ever was a movie!

– What was your favorite book published in the last year?

I really enjoyed the Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. It’s the second in the series, but it was just so lovely and romantic. I can’t wait for the last book in the Infernal Devices.

– What would be your personal strategy for survival in a dystopian future, zombie infested or otherwise?

Oh geez. Part of me thinks I would be one of the first to die because I’m not super coordinated and would probably have terrible aim with a gun. But I’m such a fighter at the same time, so I probably wouldn’t give up that easily. My strategy would probably involve playing some sort of futuristic dystopian politics game with anyone who was left… I’d try to make them like me so much that they would protect me.

– What is your favorite place to eat in Chicago?

Right now, I am loving Custom House in South Loop. Such good steak. I ate lunch at Mercadito today too, and that is some of the best Mexican in the city. And I’ve eaten a lot of Mexican.


Thanks so much to Monica for stopping by the site for the interview. Be sure to visit Monica at her site and find Socialpunk on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

This Week’s Writing Links

This Week’s Writing Links chronicle life being breathed back into the stalled Y:The Last Man movie project, how to end a novel with a punch, a literary map of the US and Jeff Bridges’ soon-to-come book of Zen musings.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a Y:The Last Man movie, if not just for the possibility that it would expose the graphic novel to a new audience. I feel like that would be worth the price of a movie adaptation, even a bad one, if it exposes the book to new people. I certainly know there will be some people who disagree with me on that, especially since the early rumor was that Indy ruiner Shia LaBeouf would star in the lead role as Y. Ultimately, I think Y is a very difficult book to adapt to the screen, but if done correctly, it could be a really good film with the source material they have at their disposal. Although I would argue that it stands a better chance at succeeding if it maintained its serialized form ala The Walking Dead in a tv adaptation, a couple of movies could probably do it justice. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Otherwise, I hope everyone’s writing is going well and expect that goals are being met, revisions being made confidently and new chapters being spawned as we speak. I am personally achieving none of the previously mentioned things this week, but I am taking a break to read more, watch lots of college basketball and enjoy the unusually (and somewhat suspicious) nice March weather in Chicago. And truthfully, I do not feel bad at all for taking this time off. Sometimes you just have to take a break. And now, as promised, links!


– Screenwriters Close To Signing On For Y:The Last Man Adaptation (comingsoon)

– How To End A Novel With A Punch (writersdigest)

– 12 Great Articles That Inspired Films (tetw)

– Neil DeGrasse Tyson ‘We Stopped Dreaming’ (liveleak)

– Literary Map Of The United States (petchmo)

– SAT Vocabulary From The Hunger Games (dictionary)

– Teacher’s Job In Jeopardy For Reading To Kids From Enders Game (io9)

Star Wars Craft Book On Amazon (amazon)

– Short Film: Robots Of Brixton (sfsignal)

– AV Club Reviews Josh Bazell’s Wild Thing (avclub)

– Author Friday: Barry Eisler (catherineryanhyde)

– Jeff Bridges To Publish Book Of Zen Teachings (flavorwire)

‘The Exiles Of The New World’ Release Update

So, my book finally received a launch date for April 20th, with the release/signing happening here in Chicago at Open Books from 6:30pm-8pm that day. Stop by if you’re in the city and free. Despite the release date being over a month away, as part of a staggered release schedule, the kindle version is actually available now on Amazon. It will be on sale for a couple of days before reverting to its normal price. There is also a listing up for the book on Goodreads.

This Week's Writing Links

This Week’s Writing Links feature some clever logo branding for the Milwaukee Public Library’s new ad campaign, 10 common mistakes writers make at conferences, 10 legendary bad boys of literature and a video of soccer prodigy Lionel Messi when he was being an amazing (and classy) 10-year-old, because why not?

I’m always happy to support a library branch, especially while our own city branches weather some harsh budget cuts. Although Milwaukee is certainly utilizing a clever approach with their campaign, you have to wonder if using popular social media branding may ultimately just remind kids that they need to check twitter. Here’s to hoping that’s not the case.

Also, SF Signal, a site I’m a big fan of, just underwent a design update, so make sure to stop by and check it out. In other news, links.


– Milwaukee Public Library’s New “Social Media” Ad Campaign (mpl)

– How To Avoid 10 Common Conferences Mistakes That Writers Make (writersdigest)

– Io9’s Books To Read In 2012 (io9)

– AV Club Reviews Roberto Bolano’s ‘The Third Reich’ (avclub)

– 10 Legendary Bad Boys Of Literature (flavorwire)

– Nominees For The 2011 Phillip K. Dick Award Announced (tor)

– JA Konrath Interviews Editor Susan Tunis (jakonrath)

– Seven Princes: An Epic Fantasy That Doesn’t Hold Back On The Epic (io9)

– Book Publicity: Working With Bookstores (sfwa)

– Genre Resolutions For 2012 (sfsignal)

– How Your Characters Write Themselves And Why You Have To Listen (jarrethdak)

– Soccer Prodigy Lionel Messi At Age 10 Being Amazing (youtube)

Monday's Writing Links: Tuesday Edition

Today’s Monday’s Writing Links: Tuesday Edition highlights upcoming film adaptations of popular books, including Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit.’

Kiwi director Peter Jackson has always been great to fans, indulging them with extensive production diaries that include and to an extent involve them in the process of making a movie. This week, he was nice enough to do a video showing fans the special equipment that’s being used to shoot ‘The Hobbit’ in 3D. Although 3D has its fair share of detractors, this is a really cool featurette and definitely worth watching if you have any interest in film and its evolving technology.

In other news, I hope everyone’s NaNoWriMo is going well. I have personally fallen flat on my face with my NaNoWriMo goal, but the good news is that if you fall flat on your face, you can take a nap while you’re there. Which would round out the worst motivational poster ever.  My rambling is more or less my concession for this year, but if you’re going strong, keep at it. You’re off to a great start!

Also, it can’t be ignored that for some inexplicable reason, MGM has decided to make a ‘Where’s Waldo’ movie, which will see them packing people into theaters to squint a lot at a really big screen. Either way, links.


– ‘The Hobbit’: 3D Production Diary (mymiddleearth)

– MGM Acquires Rights To Make A Live Action ‘Where’s Waldo’ Movie (comingsoon)

– ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ Loses 3rd Director (reuters)

– Brian K. Vaughn Will Be Screenwriter For StephenKing’s ‘Under The Dome’ (comingsoon)

– The Scotsman Interviews Stephen King (scotsman)

– How To Avoid Parenting Your Characters (writersdigest)

– Should Writers Blog, And Why? (sfwa)

– China Miéville on Scholarly SF/F and The Academic/Fan Divide (sfsignal)

– Miriam Kriss: What’s Working In The Young Adult Market (guidetoliteraryagents)

– AV Club Reviews Chris Hardwick’s ‘The Nerdist Way’ (avclub)

– New Agent Alert: Brooks Sherman (writersdigest)