It seems the facebook “Username” Enderra.com was taken (Hmm, how’s that possible if I own enderra.com?) so I picked the Facebook Username EnderraBlog. Next step… fix the RSS import. If you are so inclined I’d still appreciate a Like 🙂
Our solar system is an awesome place for stories and adventure, and there’s also a lot we still need to explore and discover.
In the next half-dozen installments of Plot-a-Day, I will post ideas about the various planets, moons or asteroids of the solar system. And to star this series off let’s take a look at Mars.
The red planet has fascinated mankind for thousands of years, and has been center to many a science fiction story over the past century: Martian invasions, Princesses of Mars, Ancient Canals, but also the human exploration and colonization of Mars are all subjects that resonate deeply with us. It’s a great place for all kinds of stories.
In fact, I totally suck at it – especially when it goes beyond networking and goes into the realm of self-marketing. It’s one of those skills I’ll have to learn – and would love to outsource to someone more talented at it if only I could afford to do so.
Still, world-building (and creating other stuff) in a complete vacuum is not nearly as much fun – and in a way is fairly pointless. What good is your awesome con world if there’s no one there to enjoy it?
This is what I am doing – and I am sure there’s more to do, so I’d love to hear your comments and advice:
Blog: Well this one is a no-brainer. Try to post on a regular schedule. Don’t be worried if you have zero readers for a long time. Create quality content and they will come. And the opposite is true as well: Stop maintaining your blog and your readers will disappear quicker than they arrived. If you have a productive phase, don’t hesitate to queue up articles for the future – a (semi-) regular schedule is much more effective than a burst of postings because you have an overall higher chance to get noticed.
Twitter: Get a twitter account. Follow people who post informative material you are interested in. Learn about good twitter manners. Don’t do “follow for follow back” or anything like that – it’s mostly worthless. Don’t spam twitter with advertisement (now and then is okay, but don’t overdo it) nor with trivialities. Nobody cares about your bowel movements. Do automate notifications to twitter when you post to your blog.
Facebook, Google Plus: These do not work for me, but I dislike Facebook and do not put much effort into either of these. It probably makes sense to build both up – once you start having a following, especially if it’s a consumer-based following, Facebook especially is probably still a must.
Forums and other Blogs: Find a handful of forums and other blogs that actually interest you. Contribute. Make sure you have a signature on the forums. But do not use them for self-promotion; be part of the community. If you like someone’s work, give them feedback. If you think something can be improved, give them feedback. Don’t flame or have bad manners – people will remember, and they will ridicule extreme cases. You don’t want to become known as the “worldbuilder who had a meltdown”. Common sense, really, but there you go.
Gravatar and Identity: Brand yourself. Come up with some sort of name you operate under. Can be your real name, or the name of your setting, or whatever. Do at least a Google search to see what else your identity is used for. Trademark protection is probably too expensive unless you are really serious about it (and even then it’s probably too expensive). But whatever you do, create a custom twitter background, pick a nice theme for your blog, pay attention to colors and font choice. Sign up with Gravatar and upload an icon for the email account you use on forums and blogs – a lot of sites pull them in and it makes you stand out from the anonymous and/or auto-generated icons.
Give to the community: If you are reasonably good at something, consider releasing content you create under an open license. Public Domain if you are really generous, or a Creative Commons license. The later is well-suited if you require people to credit you (with a link to your blog). Post to relevant forums and/or twitter about it. If your content is at all usable, people will latch onto this. It gets you referrals, new followers, and above all, a lot of goodwill over time.
Sign up for a blog network: The RPGBA is a fairly strong blog network that covers role-playing sites. Worldbuilding almost always fits that niche. It’s not a huge traffic source but it helps – plus there’s hope the RPGBA will become more of a networking tool. There are probably also blog networks for other topics – fiction, movies, whatever – but I haven’t looked around much.
That said – I am hardly an expert on any of this. I am probably naive, but I firmly believe that making your content the best you can is the best long term strategy, but of course it doesn’t help if people notice you.
I’ve been victim to an employment bait-and-switch twice now although I guess one of these was without the employer’s intent. In the normal world, this means that you end up with a job you might not particularly like. In the context of a story, a role-playing game or other “fantastic” setting, the old switcheroo could have far more diverse – and more interesting – results.
The company is a front for aliens who are either exploiting our planet comercially – or preparing an invasion.
The board and most of the upper management are Cthulhu cultists or Satanists (see “The Nine Gates” for an example).
A restaurant secretly mixes unsavory ingredients into the food – Monster parts, mind control drugs, expired meat. And remember: Soylent green is people.
A pizza delivery service also delivers blood to local vampires.
A lab accident frees monsters from another dimension, ancient terrors, nanobot clouds, or killer robots that you didn’t even know existed.
Your employer is a shell company working on a secret government project to evacuate “worthy” citizens to another planet once the world ends due to the 2012 apoclypse / global warming / peak oil / alien invasion.
By day, you may work at the tech support for your local ISP. But at night you and your colleagues are expected to hunt down werewolves.
You are hired to work on a new fantasy movie, only to discover that it is being filmed on location and that the orc aren’t CGI.
Off-world colonists are promised a new earth, a paradise among the stars, but end up as indentured workers in the hellish Uranium mines on Niffelheim.
The search for a famous sunken ship you were asked to join is a cover for finding a lost nuclear submarine (this actually happened) or to check on Atlantis or the Deep Ones living off the coast of New England.
In fact, an employer could hide any kind of nasty truth from new employers. The stranger, the more effective the switch is, but you need to actually make it hard (not impossible) for the players/readers to guess. You will probably also want to throw out red herrings left and right.
The year is 3950. The Terran Federation and the Empire are at war…
I’ve spent most of the morning pushing my timeline ahead. The two superpowers meet just before 3950, so I decided that 3950 is a great year for the “here and now” of this setting. The TF-Imperial war has just started; the Empire lost Camelot and Avalon (and surrounding space) to the Terran Federation’s first major offensive.
These are not the final insignia I will use – I think – but which do you guys prefer?
(And note that the bottom three symbols have three different shades, the smaller center one being the same blue as the rest of the symbols.)
It’s probably noteworthy that the Terran Federation has a Blue and White flag, which is why I am personally leaning towards red… even though I think I prefer the blue-yellow combination. Of course I am color blind so what do I know.
What do you prefer?
Update, Aug 4th: I’ve added a few additional shades of red to the pictures, above. Considering these I am much happier with a red-and-golden color scheme; I especially like “Carmine” and “Red Devil”. Again, though, I am color blind so these reds definitely look different to me than they do to you.