Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century

BRAVENEWSOULS LOGO DVDAs a part of the running theme of #WeNeedDiverseBooks month, I’m delighted to present an eye-opening documentary about the amazing and arduous journeys of successful Black creators through the comic, publishing, tv, and film industries. The documentary is called “Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century”.

The producer and filmmaker, Brandon Easton, thought it was about time to shed light on how creators of colors are actively building a counter-narrative against the presiding stereotypes that African Americans do not read, write, or create works within a sci-fi and fantasy context.

Check out the BRAVE NEW SOULS documentary today, and have your world expanded!

About the “Brave New Souls” Documentary

BraveNewSoulsDVDcoverThis documentary explores the thoughts, goals and inspirations of a new generation of Black creators in graphic novels, television, cinema, literature and digital media. Producer / director Brandon M. Easton wanted to shine much-needed light on new Black writers whose contributions and market awareness have been buried under the onslaught of the myriad of entertainment options in the 21st century.

Brandon also wanted to provide a window into their creative process and expose both aspiring writers and potential fans to incredibly imaginative, witty and sophisticated storytelling that challenges your perception of reality.

Brave New Souls explores the various creative industries and their spearheads through 8 compelling chapters:

Chapter 1: Inspiration — 2:46
Chapter 2: Breaking In — 7:01
Chapter 3: The Politics of Being a Black Creator — 10:14
Chapter 4: Starting a Business — 17:48
Chapter 5: Where Are the Fans? — 24:30
Chapter 6: The Industry — 33:01
Chapter 7: Writing for Rookies — 48:05
Chapter 8: The Future of Black Speculative Fiction — 54:30

Check Out the Awesome Trailer for Brave New Souls!

BUY Brave New Souls TODAY!

Get your copy for just $7.99 at GumRoad by clicking the logo below:

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And it’s also coming soon on Amazon Instant Video!

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About Brandon

BrandonEastonprofileBrandon M. Easton is a professional writer, screenwriter, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Easton is a graduate of Ithaca College and Boston University’s prestigious Screenwriting program. With over fifteen years of experience, Brandon has penned articles for the Boston Herald, Crashpad Magazine, and a variety of other publications. After teaching in NYC public schools for six years, he decided to go for his screenwriting dreams in Hollywood and eventually scored a writing gig on Warner Bros. newThunderCats TV series and Hasbro’s new show Transformers: Rescue Bots.

Brandon produces a popular podcast titled Writing for Rookies – the only show dedicated to comic book and Hollywood scriptwriters. His published work includes Arkanium and Transformers: Armada for Dreamwave Productions, a column for Blacksci-fi.com, and Shadowlaw, his newest major project that was released in January 2012 to much acclaim and an immediate sell-out from Arcana/Platinum Studios.

Shadowlaw garnered coverage in publications/outlets like USA Today, Wired, Forbes and Ain’t It Cool News. Easton has been named the new writer of the international franchise Armarauders as well as a guest writer for the new Watson and Holmes comic series. In 2012, Easton signed a multi-graphic novel writing deal with LION FORGE COMICS, a new transmedia company debuting in April, 2013.

Easton recently won the 2013 GLYPH AWARD for BEST WRITER because of his work on the Shadowlaw graphic novel.

In 2014, Easton was nominated for five GLYPH AWARDS for his work on the WATSON AND HOLMES comic book series as well as the MILES AWAY original graphic novel. In May 2014, Easton won three Glyph Awards: STORY OF THE YEAR, BEST WRITER and the FAN AWARD.

He was also nominated for an EISNER AWARD for his work on Watson and Holmes issue #6 for BEST SINGLE ISSUE in 2014.

CONNECT WITH BRANDON AT:

His TWITTER
His BLOG
His IMDB Page

Colby’s Creative Achievements in January 2014!

smart goal setting conceptSo, usually, I save my self-assessment for the end of the year. But this time, I decided to take a monthly inventory, not only because it makes the end of the year assessment easier to write (copy and paste, anyone?), but also because taking inventory on a short-term basis keeps me accountable. In public!

I can also check these updates against my 2014 goal list and start in on those goals I haven’t quite picked up on yet! So check out my creative achievements and steps forward I made for January and share yours too!

January 2014

january

Theme of the Month: Massive Change, Massive Launches, MASSIVE Endurance (in the face of uncertainty and chaos)

1. Moved to California! It was a really exciting, treacherous, challenging, and exhilarating two weeks, but my boyfriend and I finally made it. Originally, we planned to move to Los Angeles, but we adored Long Beach and decided on that instead! No worries, though, it’s still only 30 minutes from L.A., there’s a train that goes from Long Beach right INTO L.A., and we’re still living in L.A. County. Plus, we’re three blocks from the beach and oceanfront, so no complaints from me!

2. Released the PRINT version of Ghosts of Koa! Which was a huge challenge due to spotty internet access, being Ghosts of Koa Cover WEB-MEDIUMon a super tight budget, and being technically homeless for two weeks (was totally living at a campsite ::CRICKET::). Feel free to pick up your copy today though at Amazon! Also, it’s “matched” with the Kindle version, and you’ll get the Kindle version for FREE if you pick up the paperback!

3. Officially launched the production of the Ghosts of Koa AUDIOBOOK! With the amazing talents of Michael T Bradley on my side, we have entered into a Royalty Share agreement for this version of my novel, and he’s also looking forward to narrating the other novels as well! I sent him the manuscript at the end of January and am super excited about the forthcoming product!

4. Began to explore Los Angeles and Long Beach. There are so many resources for writers and creators here, and I unearthed quite a few! Check out my comprehensive, ever-growing list of writer and creator resources in Cali!

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KX Cotch, resident sociopath and assassin for the Alchemic Order… and he’s getting his own novella series!

5. Began working on the novella spin-off series to The Books of Ezekiel saga! So clearly, while there are many main characters in The Books of Ezekiel saga, Ezekiel is the star (hence the title). I wanted readers to spend more time with the other main characters, time that was unrelated to Zeika and her journey. And so, here it is! All of the main characters that I LOVE– Caleb, Cotch, Manja, and many others– will have their own novella series that chronicle their paths through the world of alchemy. Caleb’s and Cotch’s full seasons will be released in early 2015. Stay tuned for the others, which will be released as the main Books of Ezekiel saga progresses!

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Rebel Ragdoll’s growing one step at a time!

6. Relaunched my work on my tv and feature script portfolio and… I GOT A WRITING PARTNER! Once again, the lovely Claire Zhuang and I thought it best to combine our talents and come up with some script hotness. We’re pretty excited about what we’ve got going on, too! It’s nice to have a partner to keep you in check!

7. Started penning many other creative projects, including, 1. the next installation of The Books of Ezekiel Saga, “The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel”, 2. the inaugural novel in my sci-fi thriller series “Ryden’s Lot”, 3. and SIX other seasonal installment novella series! All of these novellas will be turned into pilot scripts as well, so writing these series does double work for my novel-novella backlist and for my tv script portfolio. 😉

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I’d love to not only write a character like Aveline, pen an awesome story like Assassin’s Creed, but also DESIGN a game for both! Making this dream come true one step at a time!

8. Re-launched my work as a Freelance Writer and Casting Producer with Demand Media Studios. Being new to L.A., I needed a job, and then I remembered that I actually still have one, lol! Since taking up the part-time job at the Westchester wine shop, I had let the Casting Producer gig fall to the wayside, but now it’s time to write and produce full-time!

9. Began studying video game design and SFX for films and video games. Super excited. 😉 Hopefully by the end of 2014, I’ll be pretty well-versed in lots of aspects of video game design, SFX, and film post-production… we’ll see! Excited, nonetheless!

10. Stepped more firmly into my career as a creative entrepreneur! In addition to starting a ton of projects, I kept up with my blogging (as promised), am catching up with my vlog tv/movie review series again, got more involved with writing book reviews (terribly overdue, and I apologize to my reviewees!), and I actually started a monthly newsletter!

wgf11. Started volunteering for the Scriptwriter’s Network and the Writer’s Guild Foundation! Also trying to wedge my way into the Writer’s Guild of America! You gotta start somewhere, and the best way to start is by giving back. I’m really excited to get to know people at the events I’ll be volunteering at and to finally start getting to know my industry.

12. Joined some screenwriting meet-ups, and I’m intimidated as hell, lol. Community is important. Especially one that will hold your ass accountable for the pages you were supposed to turn in a week ago, lol. It’s also a little nerve-wracking meeting new folks for the first time, but I also really look forward to it. Can’t wait to join the community of folks who are trying to go the same direction I am! 🙂

baby!13. And last, but certainly not least… I found out I was PREGNANT! Holy. Cow. Five weeks and I didn’t have a clue. Talk about a creative achievement, lol! There really is nothing like *literally* CREATING a life inside of you, and I’m thrilled to be having a babe on the way!

And for those of you who are wondering, YES, you CAN have a career in Hollywood as both a mother and a writer-screenwriter-producer or what have you, and I mean to show you how. Men do it all the time, so why can’t we? 😉 So please stay tuned for another month of moving forward, life lessons, and creative ass-kicking, and I hope to hear some of your stories too!

So what are your personal and/or creative accomplishments for January? Are you making progress towards your ultimate goals? Share them below! 

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

List of Writer’s Resources in Los Angeles & Beyond (for Aspiring Producers too!)

listsI love lists. Lists are amazing. They’re easy to make, shareable, and editable. I’ve only been in Long Beach / Los Angeles County for about 2 weeks, but I’m already starting to sink my fangs into all the resources I can for aspiring screenwriters and producers.

I decided to keep a growing list of everything I find, so as I find more, I’ll add them and share them here on my blog! In the meanwhile, enjoy and explore! I only hope that this will make *your* creative journey a little easier! 😉

Coffee-Tea Shops Where Writers Congregate / Just Plain Ole Great Places to Work

coffee shopWriting can get lonely, so if you want a great environment to both get work done and commune with fellow writers, check out these spots below!

It’s a Grind (Long Beach)

 

Great Writer’s & Filmmaker’s Groups to Join

meetupBuilding a community is important for creatives in general, but especially if you’re trying to break into the industry. I’ve done some footwork locating interesting meet ups around town that you might want to check out.

Okay so granted, I’ve only just joined these groups, so they are still “under review” in terms of being places to build community. As I said, this list is ever-growing and ever-changing, so stay tuned!

Los Angeles Film and TV Meetup Group

The Scriptwriter’s Network

Writer’s Blok LA

Beyond Baroque Screenwriter’s Workshop

Writers with Drinks LA

The Original Los Angeles Writers Group

LA TV Writers

Hollywood Jumpstart

Great Orgs and Conferences (for volunteer work)!

conferenceWhy volunteer? Because there are so many benefits to it, not only for giving back, but also for networking, gaining invaluable knowledge, and getting into expensive conferences for free! Every conference, pitch fest, video game convention, and more needs volunteers, so don’t miss the opportunity to start your career growth!

The Scriptwriter’s Network

The Writer’s Guild Foundation

Writer’s Guild of America, West

The Great American Pitchfest

Trust me, MANY more are coming, no worries, lol!

Awesome Books to Read, E-courses to Take, and Blogs to Follow!

bookstackAnd of course, some self-teaching is always great. When you’ve got some quiet time, or when you’re traveling, or when you’re burnt out on writing and producing 24-7, check out these books and resources. They’ll help you hone your skills, develop important aspects of your creative portfolio, and will give you some great insight from industry pros who’ve already been where you want to go!

Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirschner
This book is a creative’s manna. Breaking into Hollywood has suddenly become so much more probable… READ THIS BOOK, YOU FOOL!

Good in a Room by Stephanie Palmer
This book is absolutely essential for you to up your game on pitching, self-presentation, and selling your ideas in Hollywood. Writer’s don’t only need to write well, but they also need to sell well!

Pitching Essentials E-Course by Stephanie Palmer
AMAZING e-course for developing a kick-ass pitch for your projects! Sign up, get the course… and understand what it means to be a pitching god.

Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant
For indie writers and publishers who want to make a living doing what they love most, take it from the guys who are already doing it! Killer advice at a killer price. (Also great for screenwriters, as the principles carry over!)

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
One of the baddest chicks in the indie writing publishing game, Joanna Penn has created a massively successful indie publishing business off of her fiction and her non-fiction. She KNOWS how to market a book and has been in the trenches. Learn from a pro! And while we’re at it check out

The Creative Penn
Joanna wows us with her deep well of resources on indie publishing, marketing, and writing. She has an amazing podcast as well as some meaty articles on how to leverage your creative rights, be a great creative entrepreneur, and grow your personal creative business! DEFINITELY check her out!

Breakfast with Sharks
Michael Lent gives you the business in his candid rendering of Hollywood and screenwriting as an industry. He leads you through how feature film writing, selling, and buying work, what to expect, and how to maximize your chances of success as an aspiring screenwriter! Not to be missed!

The TV Writer’s Workbook
Ellen Sandler is an Emmy award-winning tv sitcom writer who knows how to write a damned good tv episode. She’s worked on Everybody Loves Raymond and Coach, so let her work on your tv writing skills! From tips on breaking down and analyzing tv episodes to tools to building your own pilot, Sandler ensures you won’t be disappointed.

And of course… more coming soon! If you have anything to add, I’d love your input! Please share! In the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Rebel Ragdoll Review (Book): Hollywood Game Plan by Carole M. Kirschner

5 out of 5 Stars: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

hollywood game plan

So, in the spirit of recent events, I figured the next non-fiction book I’d review should be one that helps to orient newcomers to the new landscape. And boy, is this the orientation to attend! For those of you with stars in your eyes, looking to “make it” out in big bad Hollywood, you need a plan. In particular, you need a “game plan”, and this book is definitely the one to read for that.

“Hollywood Game Plan” is really one of the best books I’ve read thus far on how to make it in Hollywood. I’m following the advice of this book to the letter, and not only am I feeling WAY more prepared to take on the industry as a writer and aspiring producer, but I’m also seeing results already! In the way I see myself, in the way I’m preparing, in the way I manage my expectations and interpret my interactions in Hollywood, everything. Kirschner’s advice helps you to prepare yourself for all aspects of life in the industry (professionally, socially, mentally). From scoring an internship to preparing a creative portfolio, Hollywood Game Plan LITERALLY gives you just that: a plan you can use and execute to achieve success.

Kirschner even gives you moving tips and quality-of-life advice for Los Angeles! You really can’t beat this one with a stick. Mrs. Kirschner obviously knows her stuff, and I only hope that Hollywood has more talented, insightful, and helpful people such as herself. This is definitely a book to invest in!

Check out Hollywood Game Plan at the following sellers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo!

So, my game planners! Have you read this book? Did it add some firepower to your industry-breaking arsenal? Or did you find that the advice didn’t help you so much? Your thoughts, your space, so share it all below! And of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Colby’s Creative Achievements of 2013!

2013WOW. So it’s been such an eventful year, and I’m actually pretty surprised that it went so quickly! I’m about to celebrate the 3-year anniversary of Rebel Ragdoll (omg!), have just released my first novel, “Ghosts of Koa”, banged out some horrible rough drafts of scripts (lol), am about to move to Los Angeles, and I’ve even started a Rebel Ragdoll fashion line! CRAZY, right?

As usual, though, it’s time to take stock of what I accomplished and what I missed the mark on in 2013. I look back and can barely believe all the wonderful experiences and blessings that have come my way! Feeling extremely grateful. Here’s what went down in 2013:

January 2013

january1. Set a release date for “Ghosts of Koa”. May 2013! (Which I missed by a long-shot by the way!)
2. Started the final round of editing for Ghosts of Koa.
3. Started learning French again, and it’s a challenge!
4. Joined the TV Writer Pilot Writing Program at TV Writer Chat!
5. Celebrated the TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Rebel Ragdoll!
6. Tried out S-Factor pole fitness and self-love and got addicted! Can’t afford a full-time class, but I’m working on it!
7. Took an AWESOME trip to L.A. where I was able to meet over 15 different executives who gave some fantastic perspective on the entertainment industry and what they do.
8. Submitted to a few bunch of contests and fellowships… and later got rejected by all of them, lol! You live and you learn!

February 2013

february1. Trained with another creative writing mentor. Learned how to use the indirect third person and emotion more impactfully in my fiction!
2. Launched the TV Writer’s Workshop, a 14-week t.v. writing and professionalization seminar for aspiring television writers
3. Launched the Executive Producers’ Series, a 12-week seminar designed to teach aspiring producers how to produce cinema from script to finished film

March 2013

march1. Booked my trip to Eastern Europe! First stop, Lisbon Portugal!
2. Finished the beat sheet for my pilot script, “Ezekiel” and am ready to write it out!
3. Finished the beat sheet for my Scandal spec script, “Prometheus”, and am ready to write it out!
4. Produced and opened the Marcia Légère Play Festival! And it was a smash success! 😉
5. Lightning Source approved Ghosts of Koa for hardcover production and distribution!

April 2013

1. OFFICIALLY DEFENDED for my Masters of Science in Sociology and PASSED! Go M.S., go M.S.!
april2. Received a PHENOMENAL cover design from JD Smith at JD Smith Design for Ghosts of Koa and The Final Page, the first two books in my novel series
3. Went into a writer and rester’s coma… listen, I needed a rest, lol! Ok, sike. I went into a coma, but also…
4. I actually took Stephanie Palmer’s Pitching Essentials Course and was blown away. Highly recommended!

May 2013

may1. Finished my last semester as a Lecturer at UW Madison, which was sad and yet freeing and thrilling all at the same time!
2. Started as a PA at Owen Road Productions on this cool web series “The Ethical Slut”. (Teehee!)
3. Left for my backpacking trip to Eastern and Western Europe! (Which rocked, by the by.)

June 2013

june1. Traveled the world this month and wrote, wrote, wrote!! I hit Portugal, Southern Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, and Rome. Saw some alchemical labs, and it was great!
2. Laid the outline down for the remainder of Ghosts of Koa and a few scripts I’ve been working on.
3. Realized that traveling is a writer’s VERY BEST FRIEND, as it truly disconnects you from your circle and allows you to write, lol.
4. Became a script analyst for Eclectic Pictures. Read a crap load of scripts… a CRAP LOAD. And learned a ton!
5. Took my first trip to a gun range (in Budapest) and shot over 22 guns, including a Dragunov SVD, the James Bond gun, and a .44 Magnum. Talk about a research expedition! Now I feel as though I can definitely write on gun use and anatomy way more intelligently. For those of you wanting a real fantastic excursion in Budapest, Hungary, check out Celeritas Shooting Club!

July 2013

july1. Expanded Rebel Ragdoll Press’ name to “Rebel Ragdoll”, to include the multitude of intellectual properties and merchandise that will be sold under the company label.
2. GOT PROMOTED TO LINE PRODUCER at Owen Roads Productions. Took on the identity of the Line Producer / UPM more fully.

August 2013

1. Moved back to New York on $300, which was hell in a cradle. Not. Fun. At. All. But I made it! 😉
2. Went on the most intense of job hunts, applying to over 100 jobs and opportunities.
3. Started attending some great networking events, which taught me tons about the entertainment industry and augustallowed me to create this podcast series. I also made a contact here which helped to launch the project I’m producing called “The Life, The Grind, and The Music”.
4. Moved more firmly into the idea of producing films and tv as well as writing them. So I decided to evolve into a writer-producer!
5. Started querying literary agents (for books). Got many rejections, some no responses, and some still pending. BUT on the bright side, I actually GOT an agent at a TOP AGENCY to read my manuscript! Now comes the wait, and I should be getting some response back as of January 2014. Wish me luck!

September 2013

september1. Held six entertainment freelance jobs and internships simultaneously… LOL. Yeesh! My jobs: Casting Producer at Demand Media Studios, Freelance Writer & Contributor to eHow.com, Script Analyst at Eclectic Pictures, Temp at Supporting Cast, Line Producer at Owen Road Productions, and Co-Executive Producer and Line Producer at Living MuZic.
2. Started writing two new screenplay concepts in the genres of drama and sci-fi thriller
3. Created the Rebel Ragdoll Development Slate! This has all the creative projects that Rebel Ragdoll is undertaking (and will hold all the future ones as well).
4. Started preparing to produce Rebel Ragdoll’s first film project in 2014. We’ll see how far this goes!
5. Started penning yet another screenplay concept in the survival horror genre

October 2013

1. Recruited the COO for Rebel Ragdoll, Claire Zhuang! Super amped to take Rebel Ragdoll to the next level in 2014!
2. Started planning the Rebel Ragdoll Fashion and Natural Skin Care Line!! (Was NOT expecting that, by the way, lol!) Dolls are setting the trend and looking hot while doing it!! You can check out our progress at the Rebel Ragdoll website when it’s octoberback online.
3. Produced an eHow web series, “Family Travel Tips”, with many more to come!
4. Rebooted Rebel Ragdoll Radio! And it’s hotter than ever!
5. Rebooted Rebel Ragdoll Reel and started vlog video review series on sci-fi, fantasy, and thriller series!
5. Attended New York Comic Con and had a BLAST! Made some great connections as well, and saw some great friends!
6. Got hired part-time at a wine shop to fill in my quickly thinning wallet (yes, this was job seven). Then I decided to wrap some projects up for good. I finished up my time at a couple of creative freelance jobs, freeing up my schedule.

November 2013

november1. Commissioned the paperback version of Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel.
2. Created an official personal and Rebel Ragdoll task list for this year and the next year, which includes financial endeavors and creative endeavors.
3. Began development on “Ground Zero”, a sci-fi horror thriller that will become Rebel Ragdoll’s FIRST film production!
4. Recruited a standing Film Director for Rebel Ragdoll’s “Ground Zero”. Thanks for becoming a part of our brand, Lex Curtis! 😉 Let’s make awesome stuff!
5. Released the eHow series I produced “Travel Gear”, which was formerly titled, “Family Travel Tips”!!
6. GOT MY FIRST IMDB CREDIT for the web comedy I produced! Check it out here: Colby’s IMDB page.
7. Began the production process for the “Gourmet Diva Delights” eHow series, and I also began production on another eHow foodie series!
8. Applied to several producer programs, assistant director programs, and other fellowships (wish me luck!). I should be getting feedback by mid to late spring!
9. Attended the Urban Action Showcase workshops, and they were awesome!

December 2013

1. Released Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel in ebook format!!
2. Began the production of the PAPERBACK version of Ghosts of Koa!! Oooh, It should be out before the end decemberof January 2014!
3. In fact, I decided to re-package my entire novel series in an interesting way. My first novel was a WHOPPING 600 or so pages, so I divided it into two separate volumes: Volume I and Volume II. This turned out to be a grand idea, as it now allows me to create multiple products from one property! I’ll be following this model for the rest of the series too. Exciting!
4. Began some SERIOUS rights exploitation of my intellectual property. For one, I’m getting Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel, transformed into an audiobook!! A few actors have expressed some serious interest in the series, so I hope that I’ll get the project kicked off in January of 2014.
5. Began rebooting The Books of Ezekiel website. I think you all will love the changes!
december2
6. Got three more IMDB credits for my media production work, and I added four more too! Hopefully, all the changes will appear on my IMDB account before the new year rolls in! 😉
7. I began the revamp of the Rebel Ragdoll website, with a planned relaunch in January 2014.
8. Got some amazing feedback from a program that I applied to: I just moved into the SECOND ROUND OF FOUR in the DGA Assistant Director Trainee program!! I’m so surprised and amped and also humbled by the fact that my application even had a snowball’s chance. Next is the testing phase, then the interview with a consulting company. Finally, there is a one-on-one interview with the trustees of the program, and from there, if I’ve made it that far, I’ll be a trainee with the DGA… which is super exciting. Wish me luck!
9. Started planning my move to Los Angeles! New sights, new sounds, new places, new opportunities! It feels good we’ll see what 2014 holds.

So what are your personal and/or creative accomplishments for 2013? Anything cooking for the next year? 😉 Share your thoughts below! And of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Preparing for a Convention (for Artists, Novelists, and Comic Writers), Part III

All righty, folks! This is the last post we’ve got going on how to prepare for a convention, whether you’re a novelist or comics houseaddNYCCwriter. We left off with the issue of “selling yourself”, and the first step to that was to stay healthy. Now that we’ve got our Vitamin C game up, though, let’s talk about how to sell yourself at a convention.

“Selling yourself” sounds like a dirty term, like right in the line of slick oil salesman and pyramid scheme dirty. But making friends, meeting industry pros, and forming potential business partnerships at a convention doesn’t mean advertising yourself all around. So let’s talk about what “selling yourself” actually means and how to go about it!

Selling Yourself! (cont.)

hygiene1. HYGIENE and HEALTH: Yes, I know we went over this in our last post a bit, but I’m just going to briefly run this through with some new points. Not only do you want to stay healthy, but you want to look, smell, and feel healthy too. Take your shower, clean your nails, brush those pearly whites and use mouthwash (and pack gum and breathmints), and get LOTS of sleep… or as much as you can. A big part of selling yourself at a convention is looking and feeling like a million bucks, and you want others to feel the same way around you. Basic hygiene will help someone want to stick around to talk about your work, rather than him running away with a clothespin pinching his nose!

2. SELF PRESENTATION, I – Your brand: Maybe it’s just me, but I’m all for being a walking ad for my company and my work while at a convention. That doesn’t mean having neon lights flashing above your head that say “buy this!”. If you’ve got some cool gear, though, like t-shirts, cute Haters gonna hateblouses, baseball caps, bags, or cool jackets with your graphics or logo on it, you should definitely be rocking it. Don’t over do it, obviously, but having some sort of brand for yourself gets people engaged and also shows the merchandising potential for your intellectual property.

3. SELF PRESENTATION, II – Your style: So let’s say you think wearing a t-shirt with your awesome mech character is a little over the top? That’s fine, thinkin’ you’re too cool for school and all, but you should still have some sense of style. I’m not talking about Armani or Prada, but a more personal, clean style that makes you feel comfortable and that displays your personality. Try your best not to look sloppy or haphazardly thrown together unless you’re cosplaying and that’s the point of the costume! But if you’re at a con to do business, meet folks, and make contacts, usually, you’re going to want a clean appearance that exudes your personal style and taste. I can’t tell you what style that is… it’s up to you! Have fun with it, just make sure it’s cozy and it’s yours. 😉

4. GO TO PANELS! Especially the ones that exist specifically for networking! In general, most conventions (whether for comics, books, or dentistry) are divided up into three massive activities: 1. walking the exhibition floor, 2. hanging with friends, reconnecting, and socializing / partying (includes eating and lounge-visiting), and 3. PANELS. Panels are the greatest place to get some really helpful information and insight on the industry *and* to meet like-minded people.

panelIt’s also easy to start conversations with the folks sitting next to you before the panels start. This small talk approach can get you to some cool places, like meeting a literary agent (happened to me at the Book Expo of America), or finding the perfect illustrator for your graphic novel. Have plenty of business cards and your portable portfolio on hand. After the panels, you’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions as well as meet with the panelists, so don’t miss out on this gem of a networking opportunity.

The only downside to going to panels is that for some conventions, like New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, panel seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis and seating might be extremely hard to get. Pick the panels that you love the most, and show up to stand in line 30 minutes to an hour before it starts (yeah, I know, painful). Otherwise, you can always show up and hope that once seating is booked, people will leave the panel (which almost always happens, especially at the 30-minute mark).

nycc booth5. VISIT EXHIBITION BOOTHS, especially the ones that belong to indie writers, artists, filmmakers, or mainstream artists who have gotten their own tables. This is a perfect opportunity to strike up conversations with folks about their work. Find out more about who they are, what they do, when they started, and exchange information. If you can get a business card or postcard with a website and social networks on it, I’d say that’s even better. (You can even keep it in a binder or a Rolodex of contacts and cool work you liked!) And if they happen to ask about you and *your* projects, you’d better remember to…

6. BRING YOUR BEST WORK! Okay, yes, I mentioned this in the first post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Business cards, a flip book, a licensing book, and your portable portfolio is a must. (And if you have a cute brand-ready tote bag to carry it all in, that’s a plus!) If you strike up a conversation with someone cool, and they ask to see your work, don’t get caught out there empty handed! 😉

nanowrimoSo there you have it, folks! The end of the “Preparing for a Convention” blog trilogy! I’d love to hear your feedback about what you do to prepare for a convention! Any tips or tricks of the trade? Let us know!

P.S. Also, as an FYI, it’s time to get prepped for NaNoWriMo! WOOT! I’ll be both writing my novel and blogging all through the month of November on getting the first “vomit draft” of a novel done. I’ll also be preparing for and writing a sci-fi / fantasy / horror screenplay, and I’ll be blogging about that as well! Amped? I am! Stay tuned for more, and of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Preparing for a Convention (for Artists, Novelists, and Comic Writers), Part II

houseaddNYCCSorry this post is so late, but I’ve been swamped as usual. New York Comic Con ended last week (booo!), but it was amazing and I had an awesome time! The only thing is… I came down with con flu! Lol, sucky, but a lesson well-learned. So in this post, not only am I going to drop tips on how you can sell your work, but also how you can sell your brand AND yourself, and things you should bring to protect yourself from epidemics, lol! Check it out below!

Sell & Promote Your Work and Selling Your Brand (cont.)

delicious red velvet cookies6. SELL YUMMIES! Having trouble getting people over to your booth? Beat out the competition by selling some homemade yummies! Two friends of mine, Regine Sawyer of Lockett Down Productions Publications and Jodi Tong of Kaiju Penguin always bring down the house with their delicious baked goods! It’s a great way to get folks to stop and talk to you, and it’s a nice way to hone your selling chops!

You can also get some marketing in for your creative products. Here’s a tip. If you’re selling things like cookies that can be bagged, use cellophane bags, some pretty ribbons, and most importantly, sticker labels. Have TWO sets of stickers. The first set should be a sticker with the ingredients on it, so that people know what they’re eating. On the borders of the ingredients label, though, you can also include your website and information!

whole_bakers_gluten_free_cookie_labelsThe other set of stickers should be big, gorgeous glossy graphics from your comic, novel, manga, or graphic novel. If you have amazing stills from the movie you’re working on, turn those into stickers too! You can have sheets of different stickers representing each one of your properties and stick them on the front of the cellophane wrapping with the ingredients labels on the back.

If you’re feeling REALLY creative, create your own “brand” of baked good! For example, if one of your sci-fi characters in your work is named Betty Bombshell, why not make some Buttercream cookies and call them “Betty Bombshell’s Buttercream Cookies” or just “Betty Bombshells”? It’s a cute way to pique interest from your audience and tweak your brand in an interesting and yummy way! 🙂

iheartrebelragdollflowy77. BAGS, SWAG, and FASHION! This is one of my favorite things to see at conventions. Folks are looking for new hot work, awesome T-shirts, hats, blouses, scarves, and bags, of course. They’ve got to carry their swag, right? So why not give them some fashionable options that will also up your brand reach? This is how the Rebel Ragdoll Fashion Line and Natural Beauty Care Line got started. Have things like bags, t-shirts, hats, and more. Brand them with your character pics, awesome graphics, or your label (if it’s cool enough to stamp on a blank canvas)! You can also design your own swag to make it look hot, so look into that as well.

giftbags8. VIP GIFT BAGS! Have gift bags for people who are really into your work or who want to connect with you professionally! You can also have a free raffle. In exchange for your clients’ email addresses, they have a chance to win some awesome prizes and V.I.P bags. You can feel free to have a grand prize and have first, second, and third place prizes. You can even have consolation prizes for those whose numbers weren’t drawn. This is an awesome way to build your email list as a creator and business owner, and in this way, you’re also giving all of your email subscribers a great reason to want to tune into your work and blog.

By the by, for next year’s New York Comic Con, Rebel Ragdoll is going to have a total of ten awesome VIP gift bags to raffle away! We’ll include some cute Rebel Ragdoll fashion gear, beauty products, signed copies of the books in our sci-fi & fantasy series, great posters, DVDs of our films, gift cards, and more!

9. BANNERS: Get your logo on point and choose the hottest graphics you’ve got going, because your banner is going to be your calling card at your booth. It’s one of the first things, aside from your colorful table display, that people are going to see. You MUST stand out at Comic Cons because they are so packed and so crazy, that it’s hard to catch folks’ eyes, especially with the bigger companies around!

My suggestion? Get a graphic designer to put together an eye-catching kick ass banner and then invest the money in having it printed. Banners can hang from your display background or stand up behind your table or at the side of your table. Experiment with different designs, go to town, and don’t forget to get your awesome logo in there! 😉

Selling Yourself! (And Staying Healthy)

Nature-Made-Vitamins-300x300This post is going on a bit long, so I’ll give you a brief intro into this section. This’ll kick off the final post of this blog trilogy on how to “Prepare for a Convention”. As we know, it’s not enough to have a hott display with your work, your posters, swag, and snacks. YOU have to be on point as well! The product may be good, but people’s faith in it goes only as far as their faith in you! 🙂 So how do you prepare to “sell yourself” at a convention? The first step, actually, is to…

writers-pyramid

…stop judging me!!!

1. STAY HEALTHY. Ah the dreaded con flu. I was a victim of this only a week ago after New York Comic Con finished up, and trust me, it is NOT pleasant. Con flu isn’t the flu necessarily (it could be, but isn’t always). “Con flu” is the sickness and fatigue one feels from being over-extended, rushed, and exposed to tons of germs while one is crammed in a space with thousands of people.

You’ll be spending tons of time at your booth, walking around, picking up comics and merchandise, exchanging money, shaking hands, eating, and talking to folks in close proximity. Not to mention, you’ll be at those darned industry parties with those darned shots of tequila and glasses of Chardonnay! Lol! If you don’t protect yourself, you are bound to get worn down and sick, so here’s a bulleted list of supplies you should bring with you to conventions and use religiously to stay healthy:

  • vitmainsVitamins and Vitamin C supplements: Yeah, Flintstone vitamins are fantastic as well as those yummy Vitamin C pills. You actually should be taking these every day in general, but definitely start in on the Vitamin C boosters about a week before the con. You’ll thank me later!
  • purellPurell: DO NOT FORGET THIS! Purell about every 30 minutes to cleanse yourself of germs, and make sure to follow up regularly with washing your hands in hot water and soap. Get under those fingernails as well. Just don’t be rude and Purell yourself right after shaking your hands with someone. Do it later in privacy, lol.
  • bottledwaterBottles of water: Stay hydrated! You don’t realize how little water you’ll be drinking at the con, but your body needs it. You’ll get sicker a lot quicker if you’re dehyrated, not to mention you’ll be more tired as well. So get that H2O!
  • painkillersAspirin or other painkillers (or for the ladies, Midol): Pick your NSAID of choice, because you very well may need it during the con. You never know when a headache, migraine, or for the ladies, MONSTER cramps might drop in, and you’ll be wanting relief asap. There’s nothing worse than pain compounded with no place to sleep and the sounds of 100,000 people having a great time. So be prepared!
  • Tissues, napkins, (and for the ladies, sanitary supplies): Self-explanatory. Great for if you have emergencies, or if someone else does.
  • packedlunchA packed lunch: this isn’t absolutely necessary, but the bottom line is that you’ll KNOW where your food has been and how clean it is. In the crazed rush of the comic con, some merchants cut corners in order to get their food wares out faster. Don’t cut corners with your health! Or, if you’re hungry, go to a restaurant a few miles out from the con, where the traffic isn’t as insane and the cleaning standards are a bit better.

Phew! So that was a mouthful, but we still have one more post to get out there on preparing for a convention! Stay tuned for it! In the meantime, what about you? What are your tips on con preparation, selling, or staying healthy? Post your thoughts and comments below! 😉 And as always…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Preparing for a Convention (for Artists, Novelists, and Comic Writers), Part I

nycc-the-walking-dead-slider

Hey all! So this is the week of the AWESOME New York City Comic Con, and to get geared up for it, here’s a three part post on how to prepare to sell your work, your brand, and yourself at a convention! This post is geared mostly towards exhibitors, production houses, small presses, and professionals, but there are some tips for other folks too!

Sell & Promote Your Work and Selling Your Brand

I’m a firm believer in appealing to the five senses, which means colors, sounds, smells, and more. Comic cons can get very crowded and crazy, and you want your work and your booth to stand out as much as possible. Here’s a list of things you’ll need to sell your work, whether you’re selling books, comics, graphic novels, video games or more!

1. COPIES OF YOUR WORK! If you are an exhibitor, you are most likely selling your work. If you are conference-goer, you are more likely either shopping or promoting your work. (People are less likely to buy from roamers than they are from established static booths, by the way.) If you’re a novelist and professional exhibitor, I suggest bringing about 100 copies of your book . If you have more than one novel out, maybe you want to bring 20-50 copies of each to light up your exhibition. If you are a comic writer, since comics are smaller, you can obviously bring more copies! The decision is up to you. If you aren’t a professional exhibitor, then you might want to bring a book bag with you to carry a few copies or so of your work. This is just in case you strike up a convo with someone at a booth or at a panel and they’re so interested in your work that they request a copy.

new_york_comic_con_logo2. POSTERS and a POSTER FLIP BOOK: Posters should be strictly for sale, mainly because they are a bit costly to produce. But they are essential for your booth, and you should hang a few up for people to look at. Posters are designed to attract because they are larger and more colorful and people love graphics (it’s a comics convention after all). If you have say, 10 different kinds of posters to sell, then you might want to have about 20 copies of each in a bin. You should also have a couple of poster flip books. A poster flip book is an 8.5 x 11 sized book containing smaller versions of the posters, which makes it easier for folks to browse and choose what they want.

3. TWO LICENSING BOOKS: a digital version and a hardcopy version. A licensing book is an in-depth book of everything your company, brand, and work is about. You should have your label / logo, your mission statement, a listing of your products, and maybe a short summary of where your company is headed in the next few years. It should also probably have the key bios of the major people who work at your company (like a bio of the Founder or of any long standing artists or writers). You should also have sections that detail the aspects of each intellectual property you own. For example, my intellectual property is “The Books of Ezekiel”. For this property, I should have my character sketches, character concepts, and bios (including special abilities and more). I should also have a description of the fantasy world, including a detailed description and artwork of the Guilds; a description and concept art for the four civilizations that appear in BOE; a guide to the languages that I’ve created for the world; and if possible, a copy of the book cover and blurb for each novel that exists in the Books of Ezekiel series. Try to keep your licensing book up-to-date. If you like, give “sneak peeks” of what is to come as well.

houseaddNYCC

TIP: Don’t give away too much in your book! Small sneak peeks is the key word. You want to inspire wonder and curiosity, not plagiarism, lol. One key to a great licensing book, though, is LOTS of concept art and great blurbs. As your world grows and your characters change and events happen, that particular chapter for your licensing book will reflect that. This should be an iterative process you undertake for EACH property you have going on. Also, make sure your book is organized. For the NYCC of 2014, Rebel Ragdoll’s licensing book will have four major sections: digital and print work, film and tv, web series, and video games. The Books of Ezekiel will be included in the digital / print category. And so on and so forth.

4. BUSINESS CARDS: business cards that are double-sided, bright, glossy, and colorful, are always a great way to promote your work and yourself at the same time. I’d say to save these cards for actual business contacts who want to procure you for services, or are interested in taking your current professional conversation further. If you want to give a colorful advertisement to these pros OR to potential buyers and customers who want to know more about your work, then you should probably have…

Ghosts of Koa Cover EBOOK5. POSTCARDS: These are just a bigger version of your business card, except you would have the covers or illustrations of your work on both sides with your contact information. You ESPECIALLY want to include your email and web address. NOTE: Only give postcards out to people stopping by your booth, not for those just passing through. Postcards are an expense, especially the nice ones, and you want to make sure you use them on folks who are genuinely interested in your work. For the other 80% of convention goers, giving them an awesome black-and-white graphic flyer should do the trick.

TIP: For the professionals and licensors who want to talk to you, you can double up by giving them a business card AND a postcard paper-clipped together. Just make sure that the graphics on your business card are different than the graphics on your postcard. (You should have at least two kinds of postcards). You want to give the pros and the licensors a unique experience with each piece of material they take from you, and you want to pique their interest in your art and in your work.

So this is all for the “Sell and Promote Your Work” section in my three part “Preparing for a Comic Convention” blog series. There will be more tips on selling and promoting work, yourself, and your brand coming up in a few days! So tell me, what do you do to prepare for a convention? List your tips below, and in the meantime…

Keep it indie, and remember, dolls set the trend! (And ENJOY NYCC!)
<3 Colby