Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The Shanghai Pirate from Mars

My friend Bando Masako, the Japanese horror writer of Inugami and Shikoku fame, once told me that the best way to secure a sector of the market and have commercial success, would be to create your own niche, your own genre.
“Something like Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy,” she said. “In this way, if someone wants to know what Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy is, they’ll have to buy your books. And anyone doing something vaguely similar, will be someone you ‘influenced’.”

It’s sound advice, and I’ve seen it happen, in both the large international market and the smaller, oxygen-starved Italian market.
Things like Grimdark, of course, or New Pulp, have become wildly successful, and EcoPunk sound promising, while New Italian Epic… ehm, we don’t talk about that.
It’s marketing. Noting wrong with that. The oldest profession.
As Gene Wolfe said “I write the genre that the drugstore guy decides when he puts my books in the wireframe holder – sometimes they place me by Asimov, sometimes they place me elsewhere.”

It was of course a time when drugstores still carried paperbacks.

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A week of (mostly) random generated posts

Three of the posts you have been reading on Karavansara this week were written based on titles generated by HubSpot‘s Blog Topic Generator.
The topic generator is a tool that… well, generates topics for blog posts.
Basically, you provide three keywords (nouns are better than phrases, or so does the documentation say) and at the push of a button the machine dreams up five topics for as many posts.
And you’re set for a full week.

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And I thought, why not give it a try?
Might be fun, right?
So, here’s what I did. Continue reading


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Twentifive hundred words in ten days

_wsb_422x226_Writer+in+JarThis is going to be tricky.
I’m about to write 25.000 words – give or take a few paragraphs – in ten days, or I’ll miss a deadline.
And I can’t miss the deadline.
Two deadlines, actually

The plus is, I’ve about 5000 words already – so yes, I’m cheating, I’ll have to write only 20.000
It’s not much, really.
It means writing two thousand words per day.
Twenty hundred good words, that is. Continue reading


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Amazon Kindle pre-orders and peace of mind

asteria 1So, now Amazon lets me offer my ebooks for pre-order*.
Basically the idea is, I upload my files like I always did, and then I can set the publishing date as far as 90 days later.
You can buy straight away, but it will be delivered to your reader on the set date.
Nice and smooth.

I did a small experiment, in August, using a novelette I wrote, in a new series of sword & sandal stories for the Italian market – it’s called Asteria alla Corte di Minosse.
I talked about this story when I was writing it, as part of a bet with a friend and colleague.
The response was good, so much so that my ebook made the Amazon top 100 in the Fantasy category on the strength of the pre-orders alone.
Now that was heartening.

On the other hand, a lot of readers expressed some perplexity – what’s the purpose of pre-ordering an ebook?
After all, the good thing about ebooks is, I see something I like, I click and I’ve got it on my reader straight away.
No delivery times, no waiting, no hassle.
Why wait up to 90 days to get the file? Continue reading


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In the land of the up-and-coming

Ok, short (?) post stimulated by this post by the always stimulating Seth Godin.
And yes, it does have to do with writing.

Now, I like Seth Godin’s piece a lot, I love his suggestions, the post in question gave me a lot of ideas, but it all collides in a rather unpleasant way with my experience.
I tell myself it’s because I’m in Italy, and he’s in the great big world out there, and yet, it is not a completely satisfactory explanation.

The idea is…

If you’re an up-and-coming band building an audience, then yes, free, free, free. It’s always worth it for you to gig, because you get at least as much out of the gig as the organizer and the audience do. But when you’ve upped and come, then no, it’s not clear you ought to bring your light and your soul and your reputation along just because some promoter asked you to.

Great.
I love that.
But, what if up-and-comingdom is the default setting of your environment? Continue reading