Blacklisting Didn’t Work, So They’re Trying To Harass Us Out Of The Industry

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Ever since I came out of the closet with how I voted, it’s been one thing after another in an attempt to gatekeep me out of the industry. It started with a convention removing me from their speaker circuit as most readers are aware, with many of the same people from that convention then enacting a full ban in an unprecedented move at Worldcon, so they literally wouldn’t have to even see a conservative because it might trigger them.

When I started getting big last summer, the lone professional writer’s guild Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America decided had their president go on a blacklisting and defamation campaign—not only to try to make sure markets wouldn’t publish me, but asking authors to not speak with me.

Her antics led to attacks from big NYT Bestsellers like John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig, both of whom would ramble about me on their blogs and twitter out of nowhere in an effort to try to destroy me.

SFWA’s president’s followers also went way overboard in those months, doxing my children, posting about their medical issues, and all culminating in sending an anonymous spring-loaded package to my house. SFWA’s president has never apologized, never told her fans this was over the line, but last week made bizarre false accusations about me (without naming me) on Twitter to further escalate the rhetoric.

It only gets crazier on the comics side.

A year ago, I wrote an expose about how Marvel Comics blacklists conservatives. Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool turned it into a fake news hit piece on me (I was a nobody at the time, so very odd he would dedicate a piece to that on his site). From there, I had several trolls come over from the SJW comics fandom. They still follow me around to this day, though I’m not sure what they want as they’re not looking at my work. Several anonymous people, making account after account to just come say nasty things to me. And they’re all white males attacking a Hispanic, I might add.

But these last couple of weeks have had complete harassment of professionals who have fans in the #ComicsGate crowd by online cowards who are actively attempting to hurt our businesses.

Both Ethan Van Sciver and Diversity & Comics have IndieGoGo campaigns running, and both campaigns were hit by duplicate mock campaigns to try to confuse buyers and frighten away customers. They were identical in every way, making clear impersonation attempts to fraudulently raise money based on the names of these hardworking professionals.

On top of that, the imposters took to twitter making mock accounts of EVS, D&C, Mitch Breitweiser, Brett R. Smith, Jon Malin, and me. They went to trouble trying to make a number of identical tweets to us, and then set to following all of our fans. I was inundated with messages (do you have another account, were you banned?) for a few days as the person harassed me and others. Eventually, the person broke the bit and started making posts rambling about how terrible President Trump is, making it look like I was doing it.

On top of this, the same person (I believe, as it’s all anonymous) made accounts dedicated to mocking my Christianity, made more accounts to mock my science fiction writing, and just continued over and over to just make out of left field nasty remarks. The other comic professionals received the same.

This is the type of harassment the SJWs all claim they face, and then never actually have anything beyond someone criticized their work and it sent them into a mental-disorder aided tailspin. It’s being done to us, and it’s being done on levels that would absolutely break these people if they truly had to face it. They’re trying to mess with our psyches and make the pressure so immense that it forces us out of the business. Why? Because we’re starting to be successful. All of the crowdfund campaigns have done very well so far in comics, and we’re bypassing the gatekeeping establishment that’s been culling comics for decades. For the first time. This is a revolution like indies were to Amazon several years ago in books, and they don’t want that to happen to their fragile comics.

But we’re going to keep going. And we’re going to keep winning. It just needs to be out there how much pressure we face simply for the act of speaking out.

In a society where everyone’s got telepathic bonds, it’s very hard to speak out when you see problems going on in your society. The pressure that mounts is even worse. Commander Tamar has to deal with this among the Aryshan people as they’re getting drawn into an interstellar war that will be bloody for both her people and the humans they face. Read how she handles herself in The Stars Entwined. 

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Space Force: The Comic

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I’m out of time for blogging today, so I wanted to give a shout out to Chuck Dixon, Timothy Lim and Brett R. Smith for their new comic, Trump’s Space Force. It looks really fun and these guys have been working their tails off to get this ready, so it’s worth a blog post as it is.

I only wish I’d thought of it first. My first instinct was to go for a novel rather than a comic… I outlined a Space Force novel… but I haven’t had time to write it yet. Check out the comic for now and we’ll see:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trump-s-space-force-adventure/x/7822803#/

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The Character James Gentry, Grief, And Growth

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I had a great discussion with a fan the other day about the character of James in For Steam And Country. As a mild spoiler (have you not read the book yet and you’re here?) he loses his parents, and as we’re wrapped up in Zaira’s perspective, we don’t see much grief from him. He goes quiet for a bit, and gets some resolve to where he decides to put his all into becoming a Knight of the Crystal Spire.

We don’t see the interchanges behind the scenes, where he claims to have met with Princess Reina, and she recommends him to become a knight — something very few ever get the honor of having. And so we don’t see much in terms of the depth of James on screen.

Part of why I wrote “Knight Training” (out July 18th) is because James needed a little rounding out as a character on screen. Part of this is the limits of first person narratives, where we’re really following Zaira. If James is away crying somewhere, Zaira doesn’t see it unless she’s there, and she’s stuck in her own whirlwind of adventure where, from the moment James suffers immense loss, the pace goes at pretty incredible speed for her life.

But the other part is that we all process grief differently. James got quiet, internalized it, pushed the emotion down as a lot of men are wont to do in situations like this. He resolved to throw himself into work so he doesn’t have to deal with it and keeps pushing himself harder and harder in that regard because of it. Part of “Knight Training”, things get far worse and far lonier for James in his isolation, and he keeps turning to work because of it.

When we get to this point, sometimes we do foolish things, injure ourselves or worse… and you’ll have to see how it goes in Knight Training from there. Just an interesting discussion and thought I’d pass along as it makes for an interesting character study.

Do check out Knight Training when it comes out, and catch up on the first appearance of James Gentry in For Steam And Country before then. Read For Steam and Country on Amazon here.

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The Best And Easiest Way To Maximize Your Indie Publishing Sales

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We’ve seen how over the last year, the biggest successes seem to have come from teams of authors co-writing, as they can get their projects out slightly faster than others, and create these shared universes where the plot just keeps coming. They both bring in their fanbases, there’s a lot to binge read, and boom, suddenly you have megasuccesses.

But we can’t all get co-writers who are on the same page as us and willing to push several books all that easily. There is one thing we can do, however, to mimic their strategy and maximize our own returns on our books we release.

People want series. It’s the name of the game. And often times, people won’t even check out a series until you have 3-4 books in it, so they can get through as much as they can. It’s part of the current psychology of the reader. The problem is, if you release book one, write book two, release that, and go on repeat, your sales for the first and second drop off and out of Amazon’s algorithm priority before the third gets anywhere near ready. This hurts that strategy.

Peter Grant tried something similar, experimenting with his own sales, with his new release, Cochrane’s Company. waited until he had a trilogy, got them all ready to go, and released them one month after another. The results were astounding. His books didn’t just take off in a linear way, the sales compounded exponentially. All of the books got boosts, and they all promoted each other because Amazon viewed them all as new releases in the window. It meant he wasn’t just making $4.99 every time someone clicked through, but $14.97!

The stacking releases works, even if you don’t have a co-writer. Hold your book, keep it a trilogy or more if you don’t have time to write a book a month. If you do — well you’re gonna be ahead of the game. But this works every single time I’ve seen it tried. This is how you build audience with the modern amazon. It’s pulp speed ahead out there and it’s a surefire way to maximize the sales of your books.

I’m doing the same this summer with my #SummerOfSteampunk. I’m putting out sequels to my award winning  For Steam And Country with “Knight Training” this month, The Blood Of Giants in August, and Fight For Rislandia in September. I’ll let you know how it goes on my end when I’ve already got a book 1 that’s been out for a long time. If you want to catch up on that you can check it out here.

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The #ComicsGate Success Is No Fluke – People Crave Good Comics

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We’ve had a few different successes in comicsgate now that it’s actually becoming a full on subset of the industry, not just a couple of guys with flukes. This is very positive, and I hope we continue toward this trend. I’m personally cutting back my DC Comics purchases (which ranges from about ($12-20 per month in books) in order to make sure I can keep funding these awesome indie projects and move the needle.

The movement started with Alt-Hero. People came from the sci-fi book world and political realm to back this project which made over $225,000 in its run — not even on one of the major crowdfund sites, but on the alt-tech Freestartr website. This shook the industry both from the comicsgate side and as a whole. It received no media attention. The comics industry tried the “if we ignore it, it’ll go away” tactic, and yet it was wildly successful. Vox Day launched an entire publishing company on the heels of this that continues to crank out comics. And moreover, the books have been going to #1 on amazon upon release. Alt-Hero has continued to reshape the industry, and as Vox is continuing to release comics monthly, it should for a long time to come.

The second experiment was Jawbreakers, by Richard Meyer and John Malin. This has gone crazy to date, over $350,000 in its indiegogo sales, helped by the fact that people in the industry actively tried to make sure this book never showed up in comic stores. Readers spoke, and they really disliked the gatekeeping.

But as they say, two can still be a fluke, three becomes a pattern. Ethan Van Sciver went to bat next with his Cyberfrog project, which is still going on indiegogo and is at $430,000 as of this morning. His unbelievable success is because of his charming youtube videos and following, and being a well known DC Comics artist who does extremely good work. With his success, it’s shown that this movement is really something that will continue on repeat.

But there’s a lot of smaller projects that aren’t getting as much attention. They’ve been successes in bypassing the gatekeepers of the comic industry as well and show this is a very healthy and vibrant market.

Chuck Dixon released not just one, but TWO jungle themed books on indiegogo over the last month. Ravage: Kill All Men, and Jungle Comics. Between the two, the books have made close to $40,000, and these are for individual issues not full graphic novels.

Mitch Breitweiser, another former DC artist, also recently put his superhero concept, Red Rooster up a few days ago. As of this writing this is fast approaching $70,000 for a 60 page book featuring the character.

Richard Meyer put out a second comic crowdfund for his book Iron Sights, a black and white book which has to date reached close to $50,000.

What can we learn from this? The comic book companies keep telling us we’re “not the market”. “These books aren’t for you.” “The industry is changing, deal with it”. While trying to force SJW political stories down our throats. The thing is — this very clearly IS the market. People are going out of their way and spending a lot of money supporting these projects that are standing up to that, without big brands to attach to. People want good story, good art, and a certain feel from their comics. It’s insane that the industry won’t listen.

But if this keeps going as it does, they’ll have to listen. This is a substantive amount of the market share that’s getting peeled off. If people are like me and stopping buying Marvel/DC to allocate their funds to buy these, we’ll see a rapid industry change over the next few years. We just have to keep this ball rolling and keep this fun spirit of comics alive. Join me in supporting indie creators and moving the needle for this next generation of comics.

I’ll be putting out my own crowdfund at the end of the month for my superhero book, Flying Sparks. It’s got great art, and a fun storyline with a lot of personal tension. “The kind of stuff that reminds me of early marvel comics,” said Comic Book Resources on the book.  I hope you’ll check it out when it launches July 23rd.

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I Am Writing For You: A Guide To Treating Readers With Respect

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This last week there’s been a barrage of authors out there who are taking shots at readers. We saw this a lot with the situation in the comics industry over the last year, where so many of the creators fought the fans when they’d produced a lot of politically driven narrative their fans didn’t like, and sales dropped substantially as a consequence.

Instead of owning up to the fact that they’d made product that didn’t appeal to their readers, most of the creators took to social media to throw public tantrums, telling fans to “check their privilege” and “Not everything out there has to be for you.” Well, when you tell your fans you’re not writing for them, who are you writing for?

That’s the question. It’s of course important for an artist to stretch and try to do new things and always make new fans, but being condescending to your existing fanbase because the work has changed into something they didn’t like — especially on something that’s an established property where there are sets of expectations — is not a good tack to take. I understand authors being frustrated when things aren’t selling and they’re getting negative reviews, but taking it out on the existing fans is a sure fire way to amplify that situation, not to resolve it and get back to work.

The comments this week were similar. We saw a NYT bestseller complain about receiving the question “are your books any good?”

This seems innocuous at first, but he went off on a sarcastic rant about how his books are terrible, a very odd thing to do. But let’s break down the interaction that has him so flustered. Someone asking “are your books any good?” is a person taking interest in your books. That’s a POSITIVE thing. Your answer should be “yes, yes they are, try this one.” Or something along those lines. Remember, to most people, you’re an author, you’re someone who they’re not sure if they should be wasting your time, and they’re a bit intimidated to interact with you. Phrasing the question like this isn’t some slight to you, but it’s done because they’re trying not to appear too eager in posturing to you, so that you treat them a little more like an equal than (in their minds) like someone who’s annoyingly gushing over you.  Bottom line is: when someone takes an interest in your books, let them! This is something to applaud, not to condemn.

And next we had an author state “I don’t give a f*** what you want to read” in criticism to a sales elevator pitch the author gave on twitter, which didn’t talk about the story’s merits, but focused on identity politics. Again, all this is serving to do is to turn off potential fan groups. If someone’s taking enough interest to criticize in a reasonable manner, they’re doing so because they have taken enough interest in you. It’s not fun to get negative feedback, but being mindful that there’s readers out there and that this isn’t a one time thing, but your interactions mean future reads for the rest of your career is so important.

It comes down to viewing interactions with readers as people who are there to at some point buy your book. They might not now. They might not stay and might not like it, but regardless, they’re people to be treasured because they are the customers.

I, by contrast, kept getting messages about how James Gentry didn’t get enough development in For Steam And Country, and my readership wanted to see more of him. What did I do? I wrote a novella sequel to the book where it’s entirely from his perspective. Why? Because I care about what my readers want. That’s all I care about. And that’s why I’ll still be in business in a couple of years. Will these guys?

My James novella, “Knight Training,” comes out on July 18th, but for now, catch up on the first book For Steam And Country. It’s all about giving you, the reader, a fun experience. Check it out here.  

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Authors Don’t Trick Your Readers – An Analysis of The Batman/Catwoman Wedding

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DC Comics’ big event hype over the summer has been the Batman/Catwoman wedding. Now we all know how comics have worked the last couple decades, and we know by proxy that “nothing is forever” – and by forever, I mean lasts more than 2-3 years before it gets rebooted, redone, respun. How anyone can take these comics’ continuity seriously anymore is beyond me, but that’s another story for another blog.

I want to talk about the importance of staying true to your readers, and how DC failed spectacularly in doing that in this issue. Spoilers of Batman #50 ahead if you care about such things and haven’t already seen it posted all over the internet.

Over the last several months, DC has put out a ton of issues tying into a Batman/Catwoman epic. Readers have had to drop significant amounts of money to keep up, like with every event, and the big wedding shebang was supposed to hit in issue 50. Long story short, DC hyped all of this with marketing machine, invitation cards at local comic shops, dozens of books with THE WEDDING stamped onto it.

As a reader, one was being led by the marketing hype to expect Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle relationship drama on a level we’ve never seen before. While we knew this would be temporary because of the way comics work these days, it sounded like an interesting storyline to many.

The big issue, oversized, overpriced, overextended then features Catwoman leaving Batman stranded at the altar.

That’s right, after all that hype, DC Comics ended with, “Ha! We tricked you!”

Moreover, tricked Batman, the “world’s greatest detective” and beautiful billionaire playboy by getting him completely shafted, and blindsided never seeing this coming. It doesn’t make sense on a character level, and from all the promises DC made to the audience, it doesn’t make sense on that level either.

It’s so important to fulfill promises as a writer. And unfortunately what we have here is current literature’s obsession with “the twist” taken to much too high a degree. For those who aren’t into writing and the like, when you have a story going linearly, writers usually add a twist so something unexpected happens that makes sense in context of the story. This gives the reader a sense of surprise so they’re not bored with having everything happen as they’ve expected.

But there’s a fine line between that and tricking your reader. With all the marketing jazz, we needed a wedding here. We were prepped for it, and it’s not a twist to not do that, it’s a broken promise. It leaves readers feeling angry because they were led so far down a path only to have the rug yanked out from under them.

It’d be a lot as if I promised my readers a #SummerOfSteampunk with sequels to my hit novel, For Steam And Country, and then turned around and delivered a bunch of urban fantasy werewolf romance novels. When you hype something on the marketing end, it has to match the product you deliver, and if it doesn’t, you’re going to lose big.

I think writers tend to think they’re clever when they’re tricking readers. And the end result of what it does is makes readers feel like their intelligences are being insulted. And they are. Readers aren’t stupid, but they are buying into several event tie-in books based on what the event’s supposed to be. If the book hadn’t been hyped for what it is, there are still so many character issues with the story, but at least the readers wouldn’t have been tricked into their purchases.

And that’s where comics have gone wrong for a long time. It’s always about a hype gimmick, it’s never about the story, the characters, real development. It’s not always about politics with these companies, sometimes they just treat their readers with disrespect in other ways. It’s leading to their downfall, but also giving independent artists a new avenue to compete.

If you like character development that goes in a direction where I promise, then do read For Steam And Country. It’s the #SummerOfSteampunk after all, and there’s going to be a lot more adventures to come. Read it here.

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Last Night On YouTube

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Yesterday we did an impromptu reading of the beginning of “Knight Training” which will be the novella sequel to For Steam And Country out July 18th. Edwin did a great job reading. We followed up with a discussion of my books and the comic industry so worth the watch!

Make sure to grab For Steam And Country and get ready for the #SummerOfSteampunk if you haven’t already. You won’t want to be behind when Zaira and her crew become the epic fighting force needed to save Rislandia! Check it out here.  

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An Open Letter To Kevin Roche Of Worldcon

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Last night I had a dream, and it’s a dream that I want to see become reality. It’s one where divisiveness, hatefulness, and petty politics can be overcome by rationality, love, treating each other like humans.

I dreamt that I was at some house party where Kevin Roche, the chairman of WorldCon, was attending with several friends (though this is to you, Kevin, thousands of people are going to read this so I need to define who you are). Dream Kevin immediately panicked just from seeing my face, threatening to call the cops to get me removed, even though it wasn’t his place. But then something magical happened. I stepped forward, palms up, in peace. “Kevin,” I said, “Let’s stop all this. I’m here. Let’s talk.”

Dream Kevin looked me in the eyes, nodded, and called off his friends who were about to try to get me removed.

We had a conversation. I talked about how I’ve only been trying to ensure my own safety because of people on the internet actively trying to harm me, and how I’d never in any capacity threatened to violate any rules at the convention (just like real life). We had the conversation I’ve wanted to since November of last year when I sent this email to you:

A full two months before your epic banning proclamation, where you still haven’t told me the specifics of why I was banned from your perspective, only referencing vague “rules” which apply to no one else, you knew there was danger to conservative authors. You did not reply. I guess it would be admitting there’s a bias issue with the con.

What was my first reaction?

“Kevin, call me.” i attempted to talk. I didn’t do anything wrong. I still haven’t, and you, other than a statement libeling me as if this is some grand crusade for a mostly white Worldcon staff to remove a Hispanic in the name of “racism”, couldn’t be bothered to respond again. There was lots of bothering with removing comments from Facebook in my support so it looked like everyone agreed with this. If you had time for that, why not a call?

Of course, then there was the Hugo Award nominating party on March 31st. I showed up. I was there. I caused no trouble at a Worldcon event. No one tried to bother me. The Worldcon committee (including you) KNEW I would cause no trouble at your event, which makes the defense of what was done to me before very flimsy. But still,  I came up to you, I broke the ice quickly. Why couldn’t you take 30 seconds just to talk with me and work out whatever your fears are?

I followed up on the message and received this response (at least you’re responding now!):

Another refusal to talk. Why are you so quick to make public proclamations libeling about “racist bullying” when you won’t stop to take a breath and see what happened? Isn’t liberalism about open mindedness, tolerance, love? That’s what I hear all the time, but it looks to me that the only people who don’t care about race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed seems to be conservatives or libertarians. LibertyCon this weekend had a wide group of diverse individuals and I never even saw the subject broached once. Everyone loved each other. Everyone came together in fandom and fun. This is what WorldCon could and should be.

But the track record’s been very clear: I’ve been to Worldcon, never caused an issue. I went to FogCon this year, where it was very hostile toward me, no issue. LibertyCon had me as a guest along with John Picacio — your worldcon partner and identarian — no issue.  Even at your event with the awards, no issue.  So you can’t defend even the possibility that you think I would cause an issue. There were issues to my safety that you refused to address by even conversing with me, however?

Let’s change all this. I know you’re in a tough position. You have several folk attending your con who are just hateful, angry people, and you’ve made this a very public mess that if you even talked to me, you’d be seen as a traitor to your political team. I get that. But why be a political team? It’s almost July 4th. We’re Americans. We should be on the same team. It starts with talking like human beings. Let’s see what we can accomplish, Kevin, rather than letting Worldcon continue on a path of hatred that’s telling half the country long term that they’re not invited. It’s a bad business strategy, and I can help. I’ve always only wanted to help.

You have my number, call me.

 

 

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LibertyCon Is The Undisputed Best Convention In The World

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I spent the weekend at LibertyCon in Chattanooga TN, and I’ll do my best to tell most of the story in pictures, because that’s a lot more fun, but this convention had so much going on from dawn until next dawn (they certainly don’t stop at dusk) that it was incredible. Programing had me running so ragged I barely was able to do much else other than what they had me listed as, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m far more comfortable WORKING than doing anything else, so when a convention fully utilizes me as a fairly charismatic speaker and event organizer, I actually feel far more appreciated than I would otherwise.

So kudos to the programming folk right off the bat.

I started off with a reading (which is on video), where I had the great author A.M. Freeman doing an interpretive dance to my rendition of “The Snake” by Al Wilson, followed by a sneak peak at The Adventures of Baron Von Monocle 2: The Blood of Giants (which will be out in August). Quincy Allen actually coaxed me into doing Zaira’s 16 year old female voice for the dialogue… I’m not sure I’ll do that again so if you want to laugh at me, you’ll want to watch that.

Then came the Superversive Panel, which was very special for me in particular as I was on a panel with Jody Lynn Nye, who was one of the first people to teach me how to write at Dragon*Con. I owe everything to Jody, her class did wonders for me, and she is the classiest, coolest professional in the field, so it was a pure honor for me. I introduced myself on this panel as President of the Jody Lynn Nye Fan Club.  It was a lot of fun.

Perhaps the most interesting part was the opening ceremonies, which were stormed by folk wearing Make Science Fiction Fun Again hats and Happy Frogs shirts.  Over the course of the convention of folk who wore or bought it, I tracked that more than 5% of people were wearing my apparel brand, so a big thank you to everyone who picked it up and ran with it! You guys are awesome. The guys over at CryptoFashion tell me that if folk missed out on the winning and want to get a good deal on next year, they’ll be running a sale this week on all of my apparel so winners who couldn’t make it can still get in on the winning.

The opening ceremony itself was so packed it went into overflow with people unable to get in. And for good reason. This was the best opening ceremony I’ve ever seen at a con. Gray Rinehart SLAYED a song he created for the event, which made everyone laugh and put everyone in a great mood. And then Chuck Gannon delivered the most entertaining convention speech I’ve ever seen in my life. The con made it clear: THIS CONVENTION IS ALL ABOUT FUN.  And they delivered.

I won’t detail all my other panels, which were fantastic and fun down the line, but the weekend continued much like that, and we also had a great time doing a Star Realms tournament on Saturday night. The parties were great, met some of the most wonderful people in the world or saw them again (shout out to Arlan Andrews, Julie Frost, Jason Cordova, John Van Stry, Mark Wandrey, Chris Kennedy and I’m sorry to probably the 200+ other folk I spoke with over the weekend I love you too but this blog would get long!).

Bottom line was the convention stuck to science fiction/fantasy, they stuck to fun, everyone was a joy to be around, there was no drama, no politics, no identity bullshit, and this is what people come for when they come for fandom. If you’re a convention, this should be your model. Fun first. Put everything else aside. Your mission is to grow science fiction, and the way to do that is to welcome everyone and have a good time, just like LibertyCon accomplished. I know certain organizers from certain places are reading this – and I most certainly am talking to you!

I also made an announcement on the Steampunk panel that I’ll be doing the #SummerOfSteampunk. If you have steampunk works coming out, join in on the hashtag, have some fun. My release schedule will look like this:

Von Monocle 1.5: James Gentry’s story “Knight Training” – July 18th.

Von Monocle 2:  The Blood Of Giants – August

Von Monocle 3: Fight For Rislandia! – September

Truly a steampunk filled summer. If you haven’t caught up on my bestselling and award winning novel For Steam And Country yet, now’s the time. It’s on amazon, free on kindle unlimited, and there’s even an audio version! Check it out here.

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