Category Archives: writing

What’s another way of saying…? a Quora question

Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.

 

Question: What’s another way of saying “in my opinion”?

 

Answer: That’s actually a great question.

 

First, it’s important to note that writers are thinkers. Writers are people who write down what they are thinking, but people, all people, have choice words and phrases, which is why, despite what Stephen King says, it’s important to use a thesaurus.

Stephen King, the greatest detriment to writers
Stephen King, the greatest detriment to writers

 

Here’s what I think: While you’re writing, writing your first draft of a novel, the first draft of a blog post, or the first draft of whatever, it’s important to just write your thoughts down as they come. After you have the entirety of your thoughts, scenario, chapter, book, you need to go back through and clean it up, right? That’s when you should actually bust out the thesaurus, and if that’s what King meant then that’s fine, but we all know that he has teams of editors who most assuredly use a thesaurus even if he doesn’t.

 

Why do we need to use thesaurus, though? Is it not okay to say “big” all the time?

 

Well that depends; are we writing a children’s book, a one page blog post, an e-mail?

 

Let me tell you, if you’re writing a full length 400 page novel for an adult audience, you’d better find another word for big, but is huge the right word? Maybe, a better word is enormous; it depends, but that’s not exactly what I want to touch on here because the question was about a phrase, specifically.

 

What’s another way of saying “in my opinion”?

 

What I think.

What I believe.

My thoughts are.

I have heard.

I have been taught.

In my experience.

It seems to me.

Considering what I’ve learned.

Judging by my evidence.

According to my views.

 

The list is practically endless, but the point is that there are numerous words, phrases, thoughts, that each of us, individually, gravitate towards; for instance, I use “for instance” a lot. I also use “a great deal” quite a bit, and it isn’t so much that the repetition is stagnant, rather there are times where a certain phrase or word will work more effectively; I’ve gone through this with a post called A Word, so rather than rehashing all of that here, I just want to add something.

 

Characters, especially the protagonist, antagonist, love interest, and support crew must sound different from one another, but how can that be accomplished without learning to think from a view that is not your own?

 

Well, the answer is not quite so complex. First of all, the view has to, per force, be your own, but not your normal view. Here’s what I mean: As I stated, I say “for instance” and “a great deal” a great deal…a joke, but a true joke.

 

Now, in order to make my characters sound different, I employ specific phrases, words, and mannerisms–just a handful for each character.

 

For instance (another joke), Martinez, while speaking to his mates, may end most sentences with “ya’ heard?” Martinez might rub his nose quite often. Martinez might employ tons of hand gestures.

 

This means that Flora and Jimmer can never say “ya’ heard?” unless mocking Martinez. This means Flora and Jimmer can’t do the things that Martinez does. Flora needs to take long pauses and stare people in the eye for an uncomfortable period before speaking. Jimmer needs to chew his mustache when he thinks. Feel me?

 

Looking for words you don’t normally use by utilizing your thesaurus is what makes your story better. Listening to people speak, and trying to find new ways of phrasing ideas, is what makes your story better.

 

This doesn’t just apply to stories though, this applies to all writing. Should an informal cooking blog sound the same as NYSE blog? Probably not, right?

 

If you like this post, make sure to share.

 

Enjoyed this slice of information? Tell your friends.

 

Be sure to let people know where they can find quality information.

 

All ways of saying the same thing, but the impact varies, right? Thanks!

How to write a novel or series, a Quora Question

Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.

Question: How do you write a novel or series?

 

Addendum: I’ve been reading the writer’s journey and I’m curious as to how some of the authors on quora go about their writing projects – I’m not looking for their writing advice insomuch as I’m interested in looking at what they actually do.

 

Answer: I think about the story. I envision a scene, a character, his perspective, his goal, the problem, the solution. I mull it over. I obsess over it. It consumes me. I see it all. I hear it all. I smell it all. I am the character, or I am his friend, or I am the unseen sojourner beside him.

 

Then, one day, I have to commit it to paper. By the time I’m four pages in, everything changes. I stop. I reassess and re-obsess. Before long, I have to write again.

 

A chapter, two chapters in, I see a twist, or a character comes to life and takes itself in a new direction. I follow, wondering where it all goes.

 

I just write; I just get the story down. That’s all anyone should do. There is nothing else that can really be said until the story has been written to completion. Completion doesn’t mean perfection; it doesn’t mean the story is ready to be published. It just means the first draft is done, and all the basics are down.

 

Occasionally, while writing, I go back and re-read former chapters to make sure there are no inconsistencies, but mostly, I try to just keep going forwards. By the time I get to the end, it’s never what I had envisioned. Because of this, I never use writing software, I never use outlines; all that crap is a creativity killer.

 

It is my belief that stringent outlines, which don’t allow for deviation, destroy inspiration. You can’t plan a garden. You can just plant flowers, and watch them grow. You can’t predict or control how they grow. After they start to grow, you can guide them. Once they’re fully grown, you can maintain them, but you can’t possibly plan on how flowers will grow.

 

You can plan for life with a newborn, but until you’re married, and your child is born, and growing, and learning, and adapting, there is no way to know how to live your life. You can’t plan for every contingency. Maybe, your boy won’t like baseball. Maybe, your girl will be too shy for dancing. Until you’re married with children, there is no way to know what will happen. The same goes for stories; there is no way to accurately outline what will happen, when, and how; you just write, and once it’s down, you can edit.

 

The story should be alive within the writer, and should come to life during the writing process. The writer should be as surprised as the audience.

 

I can’t tell you guys and gals how many characters I thought were good guys suddenly planned, and plotted, and derailed the story, but that’s what readers love, and they think I planned it that way, but no. Sometimes, events simply occur. Other times, something new comes to mind during the re-reading/editing process.

 

This happens after I get the story down. I read it, you know, like I’m reading it for the first time as a reader, and I find nuances, which I explore.

 

Oh, look, John wants to be with Carol even though she’s with Mike. Maybe John can try to woo her, and maybe that’ll make for some cool character growth!

 

Thoughts like that jump out at me after I’ve written the first draft. I explore those thoughts. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don’t. The first draft of the story is not the end product and should never be taken as such. The story isn’t finished until there’s nothing else that can be added, and then it’s time to cut everything superfluous, even if I like it because I have to think about what the audience will want, and if I force them to read every single little tiny thought I have, they’ll feel as though the story is pulling every which way; it feels jumbled, disorganized, confusing.

 

I know different methods work for different people, but fierce structure and routine destroys imagination, and at the end of the story, there is an editing process during which all the mess gets cleaned up and tied into everything else, which keeps my work from becoming convoluted. An outline should be only a limited tool, a guide, a loose idea, which is there only to bloom, to be modified as the occasion arises.

 

For, say, a single novel, there should only be a single plot twist if any at all, but I mostly write series, so things can get messy, which is why I do keep a notepad handy, and in it, I jot down a sentence or two in the event that I want to add a certain event during the editing process.

 

For instance, in the newly released Dragon Slayer

The Dragon of Time Two, Dragon Slayer By Aaron Dennis
The Dragon of Time Two, Dragon Slayer
By Aaron Dennis

I had intended for Scar, the protagonist, to kill a support character, but by the time I reached that portion of the story, that action no longer made sense, so I adapted, and it will seem as though what does happen was planned that way from the beginning.

 

I promise, you’ll never who I wanted him to kill or why. You’ll never know where it was supposed to happen.

 

So, as the question was asked: How do I write a novel or series?

 

I begin with an idea, no matter how undeveloped. I think about the idea, and jot down little notes. Inevitably, more and more scenes, actions, thoughts, and emotions come to mind, and when I have enough, I begin to write.

 

Maybe, my beginning is under developed. No big deal. Maybe, my middle is shaky. That’s okay. Maybe, I planned for one ending, but it no longer makes sense. That’s fine.

 

I just write, and as I write, more and more comes to mind. Eventually, I find myself wrapping up all the events, and the story has ended. Sometimes, I have some ideas for an aftermath, in which case, I’ll hold on to it for the sequel.

 

If there’s no after math, it’s time to get away from the novel. I need to forget it because the people reading it won’t be in my head.

 

Once I’ve forgotten the tale, I read it as a reader. I correct little mistakes. I fluff out the portions, which are lacking in description, dialogue, action, whatever, and I go through it over and over, probably more than 20 times by the time I’m ready to publish.

 

While re-reading, I cut whatever’s superfluous. I make notes for the sequel. I scan for inconsistencies. I search for better ways to show versus tell. I make sure to keep from repetitious retelling. I make certain that the main characters, the support crew, they’re all different. No stock characters–they cannot all sound like me when I talk or think. I give them choice words, mannerisms; I make them living people.

 

It’s a daunting undertaking, but this is why there are whole institutions devoted to writing; publishers don’t just accept a written body of work, and print it. They normally only take a look at vetted stories.

 

A literary agent accepts a finished product. They hand it off to a publisher. The acquisitions editor reads the story. If it looks good, they send it to editors and people who function as test readers. If the story can be edited for a large audience, and it appears to be attractive enough to reach a broad audience, that story gets picked up, and then the actual editing process occurs, and I promise you that it takes a long time to rewrite the entire story from that stage.

 

There’s a lot of people out there, readers, new writers, aspiring novelists, who think that writers just sit down and write out a perfect manuscript from word one to the end. Far from it; it’s a long, arduous process fraught with editing and re-writing. Many eyes have to look over the manuscript before it can be safely published, and for independent writers, this can be a most intimidating task.

 

Fortunately, there are writing groups, reading groups, beta-readers, and freelance editors. There are also numerous writers out there who blog, who answer questions, who give advice, who show the process, and so anyone who takes the time to learn, can start their career off properly.

 

Thanks for reading. Share with your friends! Come back anytime, and make sure to check out my resources, and download my free stories.

Can you succeed even without a solid publicity plan?

Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.

self aggrandizing aaron meme

Question: Would a great book succeed even without a solid publicity plan?

 

Answer: No, and I’m speaking from experience.

 

When I first began writing, I tried to tell everyone that my book was out, it was great, well written, edited, the whole shebang, but who did I tell?

 

Consider the question. With no publicity plan, who is there to tell that you have a book, and that it’s great, and that everyone should buy it?

 

With no publicity plan, you have no Twitter followers, no blog followers, no one subscribed to your website, no friends on FaceBook or Goodreads, no contacts on LinkedIn, etc. You must have a receptive audience. You must be able to tell receptive people, who are already interested in your kind of writing, that you have released a book, and how can you have people following your every move without a publicity plan?

 

The publicity plan builds exposure; by its nature, it calls people’s attention to you. Then, when people know you exist, you can let them know what you’re peddling, and how it’s different or better than what’s on the market now.

 

Exposure is absolutely necessary, and even books that are not so great tend to fly off the shelves when a publicist somewhere says, “these are great.” However, since such a thing was said to numerous individuals, who then told others, who then told others; the exposure led to readers, which led to conversations about those books regardless of how great those books were or weren’t; if they were terrible, they surely had great sells at first, because of a publicity plan, and then tanked when they failed to live up to the hype, but that’s a different discussion.

 

It’s tough to build a publicity plan, for sure. It’s even tougher to build a free publicity plan, but it is not impossible.

 

The simplest way to build fans is to engage with likeminded people. People are social creatures who enjoy discussing their likes and dislikes. They value their own opinions as well as the opinions of their peers, so it’s imperative that you, a writer, ask yourself some serious questions. What genre do you write? For whom are you writing? Like whom do you write? How are you different? Better?  More important? Be friends on FaceBook, Google+, Goodreads, and Twitter with those likeminded people. Discuss what they like. Discuss what you like. Start a book review blog or vlog—learn more about that here!!!

 

In the meantime, write your book, hire an editor, and engage beta-readers. Then, once you have loyal fans, show them that you’ve written a book, too.

 

There are other routes as well. If you have the money, you can sign on with netgalley and get your book in the hands of serious reviewers. Reviewers are important because those people discuss their likes and dislikes with likeminded people, so they are promoting for you; of course if your book sucks, you’ll never sell, or at least not for long. You can also purchase media release packages. Kirkus has some great packages, but you better have a fat wallet already. There are cheaper media packages, but even if you find them, they don’t guarantee great results.

 

I’ve personally spent as much as $100 on media packages, and saw virtually no increase in sales, so you get what you pay for, and no, Kirkus won’t guarantee you sales either, but their reach is far more extensive than any cheaper media package you’ll purchase. I still believe that spending money is the quickest and easiest way to inform potential readers that your book is available, but that exposure won’t guarantee sales. No exposure of any kind guarantees sales, but the more people you reach, the more likely you are to land a sale. It’s always a numbers game.

 

Free promotions, though slow moving due to the inherent difficulty in reaching people, by way of engaging likeminded audiences before releasing your debut novel, are far more efficient because what happens is that you build loyal fans who wish to discuss your book with others, and word of mouth is the best way to sell a product; you don’t buy Black and Decker because an ad told you to buy Black and Decker. The ad only informed you that Black and Decker exists, that it’s great, that it’s a deal. You buy Black and Decker because you asked your neighbor what brand of drill they use, and they informed you that they like Black and Decker; it’s the same with books.

 

Books are just a product. It doesn’t matter how great your book is. If no one knows it exists, no one can buy it. On the flip side, just because your book is great doesn’t mean that everyone will like it. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like Harry Potter.

 

On top of everything, it’s important to know that you aren’t selling a book anyway; you’re selling an idea. The title, cover art, and blurb portray that idea, and then the book explains the idea, so with no publicity plan, there is no way to sell anything.

 

Once again, be sure to read this article from Journal. I explain how to earn money from reading, but the importance of the article is that by design, the plan reaches numerous readers, so that when you do release your own book, you already have hundreds and maybe thousands of receptive fans.

 

Even Stephen King, who I can’t stand, tells writers that to be good writers they have to read a lot. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about because reading a lot doesn’t make anyone a good writer, however, if you do read a lot then chances are that you discuss what you read, which means that if you have an audience for your book discussions, you have audience for your original material. Of course, King doesn’t explain that…. He should be telling aspiring writers to engage readers because they build exposure, and they learn what their peers enjoy reading.

 

Before anyone jumps me, I won’t to point out a few things about King. I don’t believe he reads much. I don’t believe that he read much before he started writing, and even if he did, and you do, the idea that reading a lot makes you a better writer is invalid. Think about the fact that the version of The Stand that you read is not the version that King wrote. The version you read is the one rewritten by his editors, and you’ll never write like an editor because editors change their voice based on their authors’ voices, their publishers’ voices, and their projected readers’ predilections.

 

On that note, be sure to follow my blog on Quora, where I often discuss editing tips as well as other topics revolving around reading, writing, and selling books.

 

How can I show readers that my stories are well written and edited? A Quora Question

Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.

writer editor

Question: With all the terrible self published books on the market, how can I show readers that mine are well written and edited?

 

Answer: The same way you sell your self published books…build a fan base. The question then is: How does one build fan base?

In the last post, I touched on the signs of a bad publishing contract, and I added that some of the smaller presses don’t really employ editors. Editing is a huge part of becoming a successful novelist, which is obviously why someone cared enough to post this question on Quora.

Since I’ve been through the ringer, let’s assume the writer in question is myself—it isn’t, but that’s not the point.

 

I did start off incorrectly with my career, so when my first books were released by Eternal Press, not only were they not properly edited (even though EP employed “editors”), but I had no fans to purchase my books!

First, I thought EP was going to market my books, and that’s a tale for another time, and no, these books weren’t truthfully “Self published books”, but they were treated as such. I’ll explain.

 

Here’s what I did after publishing through EP, and after hiring numerous editors and actually landing a good one who taught me what editing is: I rewrote everything I had ever written, which included my short stories. This way I also had the chance to really apply the principles of proper editing, and pit them against unedited, or improperly edited, books.

 

I showed pieces of those short stories in their original form on my blog, and then I showed the rewritten segments. I also re-released those short stories, for free, with new covers and blurbs to Smashwords.

 

Without even promoting those stories, since they were free, people downloaded them, and people learned that my work is edited.

 

I also published a fanfiction novel to fanfiction.net, a site where serious readers are looking for serious authors to write new material for an existing franchise. My Skyrim fanfiction, also free, did well on fanfiction.net, and I also published, for free, to Smashwords, and since it passed the premium catalog, it is also available through all online retailers (with the exception of Amazon, which I don’t use anyway), so people can download my fanfiction and learn that my writing is properly edited.

 

After building a fanbase through free short stories and fanfiction, I released new novels. Usually, when I release a new novel, I make it free for the first month so my current fans don’t have to spend money on my new work; this also gets me a few more new fans.

 

At this point, everyone knows my work is properly edited because numerous people have been able to download my work for free, and I now have a substantial fan base; the two went hand-in-hand.

 

It is imperative that an indie author hires an editor, a competent editor, but it is perhaps more important for an indie author to amass an extensive fan base before publishing their first novel.

 

A fan base can be built in numerous fashions, but I suggest building a fan base as a reader who dissects and reviews all kinds of books (mainstream and indie). Other readers will take your critiques seriously, and you will build a fan base of actual readers that way, (not just other writers) plus you can actually sell Smashwords books while doing this, thus learning how to sell books along the journey. Then, once you have a fan base, you can begin showing your fans that you, too, have written something.

 

Use your blog; release your entire novel one chapter at a time, and show people how you edit. This worked splendidly for Chris Paolini. You can build a huge fan base through fanfiction. That was how E. L. James rose to stardom, right?

 

The truth is that anyone with even a half assed idea for a story, even an uninspired idea, can rise to witness mega fandom; build a loyal fan base before writing a debut novel, hire a competent editor, engage avid beta-readers, release tons of short stories, and other free bodies of work, and just work hard everyday.

 

You can learn about selling books through Smashwords here

 

You can learn more about proper editing here:

Editing One Shot by Lee Child

Less is More

Structure

Don’t forget to follow my blog on Quora where I talk about all kinds of things reading, writing, and editing, as well as some other stuff, too.

 

What are the signs of a bad publishing contract?

Since Quora likes to collapse my answers in an effort to keep me quiet, I’m copying and pasting some of the Quora Q and A’s in which I’ve participated. Here’s a question from Quora.

writer editor

Question: What are the signs of a bad publishing contract?

Answer: It depends on what the meaning of bad is….

 

If a writer is offered a contract from a traditional publisher—a major publishing company like Penguin, or even a smaller company like Baen—all contracts will be fairly standard; advances, 5 years service, 25% royalties from print copies, maybe 33% to 50% from e-book sales.

 

A writer will be offered a reasonable advance from a large company; the advance is based on the projected sales of the book over the course of 6 months, sometimes it’s longer, and even though the writer is generally contracted for 5 years, if the book does not sell, the publisher has a right to release the writer; that is the end of your career in the mainstream publishing industry, period.

 

A smaller company will offer a smaller advance, if they offer one at all, but they won’t usually cut a writer free for failure to sell, although they may choose to not renew the contract after 5 years.

 

There are other kinds of contracts, ones from presses who claim to be mainstream publishers or even indie presses, and they are not. Here are some things to scare a writer off.
If the publisher demands a fee, run.

If the publisher wants you to do anything more than write, run.

If the publisher wants you to crowdfund the money to publish your book, run.

If the publisher wants you to promote the books of their other authors, run.

 

Most “indie publishers” are little more than three people publishing through Amazon and CreateSpace anyway. You can do everything they do on your own and keep all your money.

 

I went through an indie press that seemed reasonable, but they then charged $7 for my ebooks; how in Hell was I supposed to sell with my prices that high?

 

They never got me any reviews, they failed to edit my work properly—the biggest no-no—and they even “lost” my contracts.

 

There are real indie publishers like Baen Books, Rocking Horse, and Edge, so if you’re unsure about the publisher you’ve approached, research the company; when were they established? How many employees do they have? Which books and authors have they published? Then, track down an author, through their website or Twitter, and talk to them. Ask them how they like working for that publisher.

 

The basic premise to stand by is the following: If you can’t land an agent, you won’t land a publishing contract with a real company. If you want to land a contract with a mainstream publisher, learn how to land an agent; they’ll do the rest for you.

Be sure to follow my Quora blog for more information

Writers get exposure with a free reading from Tall Tale TV

Get a professional reading of your story from Tall Tale Tv
Get a professional reading of your story from Tall Tale Tv

You are an author. You have been writing for years. You have a blog. You post nearly everyday. You have published numerous, short stories and given them away for free in order to build a fan base. You have published fanfiction to innumerable venues including Wattpad, Quotev, and Fanfiction.net. You belong to writing groups on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads. You post to Medium, Quora, and you even write articles through platforms such as Journal and Omni.

How are your sales?

Do you sell 100 books a day? 100 a month? 100 a year?

There was a time when I didn’t sell more than 5 or 6 per year. My publisher certainly didn’t do anything to help me sell, but they sure bugged the Hell out of me, trying to coerce me into buying print copies of my books, so that I could got out and sell them; that’s the way they earned their money, but where were my earnings? In the toilet.

Maybe, you’ve been at the game for a long time. Maybe, you have a hundred publications, and you sell quite well. Maybe, you do purchase print copies and sell them locally or even go on tour, but can you ever sell too many books?

Peep this reading of my Voodoo novella, Otherside, not because I want to sell it to you, far from it; I don’t need your money….

Chris Herron, the up and coming voiceover talent of Tall Tale TV can certainly help you boost sales.

His amazing style and range can enrapture any listener, and many times, people, potential readers, enjoy hearing the tones of mystery, anger, and sorrow rather than imagining them. Having a reading of your short story, or an excerpt of your novel, will absolutely boost sales, and as a fellow author, I want you to succeed.

Why, you may ask?

There’s enough mainstream crap floating around the literary world right now, and I believe readers will appreciate some new talent, some new material, but they’ll never buy your sweet stories if they don’t know you exist. Besides, Tall Tale TV charges no fee. Chris’s services are absolutely free; he makes money from monetizing his YouTube channel, so there’s no cost to you; it’s free promotion. What’s the worst that could happen? You sell an extra 10 copies of your books? Would that be so bad…?

I know there are other voiceover artists out there who will read your stories to their YouTube channels. Go use their services! There’s no reason to avoid Tall Tale TV, though; the more places your stories appear, the wider an audience you’ll reach.

This is a great way for any author, at any stage of their career, to achieve increased exposure, and increased exposure means more sales, and more sales means more money, and more money means, well, whatever you want, right?

I know, I know, Tall Tale TV doesn’t have many videos  on YouTube right now. I know, I know, the videos don’t have a ton of views, but relax; the more authors approach him, the more videos he’ll add to his YouTube channel. The more videos he adds, the more views he’ll collect. People love marathon watching YouTube videos, so in time, and as more and more of you utilize his services, the more views your videos will accrue, which means that every time an author has their book or short story performed on Tall Tale TV, the more we all benefit. Furthermore, you know Chris wants to earn a living from his talents, so you know he’ll promote his channel, which means you don’t have to do didly, but you’ll still get more fans. Won’t that be a blast?

I suggest you jump on Chris’s services today because the more authors hound him for a reading, the longer it’ll take him to get your reading up on his YouTube channel. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Myeh! I already sells tons o’ books, an’ I don’t need no stinkin’ readin’ ta’ get me more sells!”

Well, that’s fine, but don’t be shocked when Mary Sue, an up and coming writer of Steam Punk with only one publication, suddenly goes viral and earns a million bucks thanks only to Chris and Tall Tale TV. When it happens, remember I told you to jump on his services….

Click here to learn how to submit!

How to use a semicolon

self aggrandizing aaron meme

 

The semicolon

This guy ;

I haven’t written anything regarding my experiences from Quora in a little while, but I came across a quote, which I simply brushed off for quite some time; it was a quote regarding the semicolon. Then, I remembered answering a question on Quora about the semicolon.

The quote—and I don’t recall who said it, or if anyone actually said it at all; sometimes, people just write their own thoughts and claim someone else said something in order to pass their quirks off as something with a far deeper meaning, but I digress—the quote was along the lines of the following: I don’t use semicolons in my writing. Semicolons are just used by people who want to let everyone know that they went to college.

Well, that’s a stupid outlook.

The question from Quora was in regards to the proper use of semicolons and had nothing to do with the quote, but as is often the case, a wild hair grows right up my anus, and I have to expound my own thoughts—love me or leave me….

Question: When does one use a semicolon?

Answer: A semicolon can be used to provide a list of items or ideas.

He went to the store and purchased the following items; beer, bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper.

This is in lieu of the following statement: He went to the store and purchased beer, bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper.

As you can plainly see, the information provided in both statements is exactly the same. There is no difference, pragmatically, whatsoever. In this instance, the structure of the statement depends on you, the writer, and how you wish to provide your information to an audience.

If you were to write children’s books, you’d probably use the simpler version, and refrain from the semicolon. If you were writing a term paper on the history of espionage, you’d probably like to sound more professorial, and go for the semicolon version.

There is another time to employ the semicolon, and it is used where most people comma splice. The semicolon is used to tie together two thoroughly related sentences; both sentences must be complete clauses. This is a case where a period can also be used.

He went to the store; the Best Buy on Main St. is always busy, but he needed a new laptop right away.

The idea can also be written as the following: He went to the store. The Best Buy on Main St. is always busy, but he needed a new laptop right away.

It cannot be written in the following manner: He went to the store, the Best Buy on Main St. is always busy, but he needed a new laptop right away.

Now, why would anyone want to use the semicolon in lieu of the period?

The same reason as was stated earlier; if you are writing a book for someone of grade school age, you’d certainly refrain from the semicolon, and use the period in order to create shorter, simpler sentences. If you were writing a term paper for grad school, it’d probably be best to create more complicated sentences. Why? Presumably, a grad school student needs to provide more complex information within a paragraph, yet this is all hypothetical, subjective, from the point of view of the writer/editor and intended audience, and combined with personal predilection given any number of circumstances.

Inspect the following paragraph:

The CIA as an organization buys and sells information; they often work for various governments and against various governments and often for the same employer. Moreover, the CIA is not a single faction; they are a plethora of organizations, and all of them work together under various names, so it should not come as a shock that ISIS is in fact a CIA faction. There is little doubt that such an idea will ever be presented by anyone else, and should someone provide such an insight, it will surely be disregarded immediately.

Here’s the same paragraph verbatim:

The CIA as an organization buys and sells information. They often work for various governments and against various governments and often for the same employer. Moreover, the CIA is not a single faction. They are a plethora of organizations, and all of them work together under various names, so it should not come as a shock that ISIS is in fact a CIA faction. There is little doubt that such an idea will ever be presented by anyone else, and should someone provide such an insight, it will surely be disregarded immediately.

In the second version, both semicolons were replaced by periods. Once again, the information provided is identical, but the first version “reads” smoothly, where as the second feels “choppy”.

(Choppy is not dialogue, so the period does not belong inside the quotation marks. Quotation marks are also punctuation, and the only time other items of punctuation belong within the quotation marks is during dialogue. I don’t care what anybody else tells you; just because an idea has been accepted as the common stance does not mean it is correct. There was a time when the common stance indicated the earth was the center of the solar system, and we all learned a lesson from that, right?)

What needs to be stressed is that, for the most part, a paragraph is comprised of three or more sentences. The provision of too many sentences can cause a paragraph to expound upon multiple ideas, which is incorrect; a paragraph must elucidate a single idea, no matter how complex it may be, but the more complex the idea, the more complex must be its supporting sentences, hence linking numerous sentences by way of the semicolon. You can think of this in terms of afterthoughts, which are thoroughly correlated to one another, yet may by themselves distract from the main idea.

Fortunately, the semicolon, like the Oxford comma, is one of those strange pieces of punctuation that yields to choice, to predilection. Do you want to employ a semicolon? You don’t have to. Do you want to employ the Oxford comma? You don’t have to. The choice is yours, and the choice must be predicated on two ideas: How would you like to be regarded, and who is your audience?

I dropped everything I was doing and wrote this because often I cannot stomach the hubris of writers; I have written copiously about that idiot Stephen King, and other morons like Lloyd, ad nauseam. They are so often out there, wielding their success, lording it over your heads, prattling on about the proper way of writing. I’m certainly glad they have achieved fame, success, and financial security, but more often than not, the information they present is really just their personal take, their predilection; they also always, always, forget that they have editors, and that their editors, if they’re worth a damn, change all their writers’ quirks in order to provide readers a better experience; writing is not only about stating facts. It is also about the best possibly way to convey meaning, and that’s where punctuation often comes into play; we don’t only read words, we read punctuation in order to understand what someone else wants us to think, feel, experience….

I know that it seems sensible to take their advice to heart since they achieved success with their quirks, but this is often not the actual case; editors have rewritten their clients’ books, and a lot of those quirks are omitted, yet the writers maintain their stance. Using a semicolon won’t keep you from being successful. Starting sentences with conjunctions won’t make you successful. Vomiting sentence fragment after sentence fragment won’t make you successful, so what good is their advice? The advice of writers is usually worth less than the paper on which it’s written.

Why listen to me, right? I am also an editor.

What writers should be doing instead of telling you to avoid phrases such as “for a long moment” (more idiot Stephen King nonsense) is telling you to avoid abusing words like would, could, and should. Have you ever dropped a book because you read that a character paused for a “long moment”? Of course not. In fact, look at these pictures.

this is a picture I took of one of my favorite novels, Tales of Power, by Carlos Castaneda
this is a picture I took of one of my favorite novels, Tales of Power, by Carlos Castaneda

In the eighth line, you can plainly see “for a long moment.”

(I’m quoting the author’s statement, so the period is placed correctly.)

This book, and all of his others, are all international best sellers, and Castaneda was an anthropologist from UCLA. For a long moment is not something you need to avoid, but here’s a phone screen shot of King from Twitter.

king tells you not to use for a long mement
king tells you not to use for a long moment

There’s a time and place to use the proper statements, and it if “he looked at her,” but not “for a long moment,” he then glanced at her, or peeked at her. Conversely, you may want to state: He scrutinized her, which does entail “a long moment”. Regardless, King is a self ingratiating putz who preaches avoiding thesauruses; I’ll bet his editors use them, though, putz!

I’ll bet you dropped a book because you felt the writer kept you at arm’s length, though, right? Writers should be telling you to avoid using editing software, and instead, hire an actual editor, but the truth is that they are frightened little rabbits—they are riddled with self-doubt and insecurities— and they know people like you and me are gunning for their spot as best writer in the world, and so they give you bullshit advice in the hopes of deterring you from success.

Use a semicolon if you’re writing for adults—use it correctly. Hire an editor who understands how to transform your dry account of sequential events into a story. Learn to build a fan base before publishing your first novel. Such is the advice that writers should be giving people.

If you think I’m full of it, that’s fine, but take a few minutes to read over the following few articles;

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Editing One Shot by Lee Child

Structure

I guarantee you, your editing software is destroying your career before it even begins…so, too, is the fake advice of these “great” writers of our times. They’re a bunch of hacks, who joined a group of other hacks, and then started praising each other and keeping out anyone with a hint of talent. Fortunately for us, today is an indie age; we’re in an age of free information, an age where anyone can become successful if they employ all the time and effort at their disposal and all without having to cater to third-party, mainstream assholes. We’re living in an age where readers are clamoring for something new and fresh, and the old dinosaurs don’t know what new and fresh means. Readers are begging you to write what they want to read, so learn how to do it.

Be sure to also check out my editing services tab rather than relying on editing software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop right there! Don’t donate any more money!

earn money with affiliate marketing
earn money with affiliate marketing

 

You’re on twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Google+, wherever; every time you turn around, someone’s got their greasy palm out, asking for handouts. “Donate, please; I’m on IndieGoGo, I’m on Patreon, I’m on Gofundme, come support me at Twitch TV, come support me here, there, everywhere.”

Aren’t you sick of it? Every time you turn around, someone wants you to give them money for doing what they enjoy doing, and then what, they give you a little trinket, maybe, maybe, if you donate enough.

Well, if you’re not sick of it, I am. People draw pictures—they’re at Patreon, wanting you to give them money, to support their lifestyle. Tell ‘em to go get a job and draw their little pictures on the side until they can support themselves.

People want to dress up as cartoon characters, and they stick their ugly mitts out, asking for you to give them money, so they can play dress up for a living. If they want to play dress up for a living, they need to work a real job and earn their own cash until they can support themselves from their side hustle.

You even have people who write books, writers like me, on Patreon, Gofundme, and IndieGoGo; they’re asking you for 5,000, 10,000, 30,000 dollars so they can write and publish a book! You want to give them your money?! Are you out of your mind?

Let them work a day job like Bon Jovi did before he made it big in the music industry. People can work, and they can write, or play video games, or dress up in their spare time until their passion pays off. Don’t go donate to their cause.

Did Macklemore or Kanye ask for handouts? Did Dan Brown? Did Harrison Ford?! Did David Schwimmer ask anyone for money when he was an unemployed, struggling actor? No! These people worked real jobs while they developed their passion into a paying profession.

Here’s what you need to do. You need to find someone who will pay you to help them get their service, art, product or whatever out to the public.

Peep this; I want you to make money off me, not the other way around. I’ve been writing since 2011, and I worked a day job when I first began. Then, as my books sold, as I wrote more and more books, and more books sold, and more people learned about me and enjoyed my work, I was able to cut back to working part time. Now, I’m successful, and all without sticking my grubby fists out, begging for someone to support me while I type a few thousand words at a computer for an hour or two a day.

Understand, my books sell, and since you already read, and you already discuss what you read, you sell books!

Yes! That’s how it works! If you have a book blog, a review site, anything where you discuss the books you’ve read and loved then you sell books. It’s your praise, your discussion, your sharing of thoughts and emotions that generates buzz, and that means that you are selling books for the authors, the editors, the publishers, but is anyone paying you?

No! They got their damned, slimy fingers out, asking for you to give your money, but you work, don’t you?! I’ll bet you do, but you still make the time to read, and write about what you read, and discuss with your fan base, who cherish your thoughts, and they go out, and they buy the books you praise, and you aren’t asking for anyone to support what you enjoy doing, right?

Not to mention that those crowdfunders—with their creepie-crawlie little fingers—then go out and sell a product or service to the consumers, thus they earn money twice; once from your donation, and they earn again when they sell their book, picture, music, whatever!

You sell books, so why aren’t you earning any money? Where’s your cut? Why are you giving your money away?

I got your cut! Your cut is here!

smashwords affiliate marketing aaron dennis
smashwords affiliate marketing aaron dennis

Smashwords has a referral link for anyone who wants to sell Smashwords books. You can make a free Smashwords account, supposing you don’t already have one, and you can link up your PayPal account. That way, when you add the referral URL to your site along with your review and dissemination of that title, and people buy the book through your site, you earn a cut of the sale.

You just paste the link to your site. It’s that freakin’ simple! People click on it, and when they buy the book, it counts as your sale! No third party software like most affiliate marketing schemes. No pay per click like most affiliate marketing schemes.

Now, here’s the thing; normally, Smashwords books give you an 11% cut of the profit, so you basically earn something like $0.08 out of each dollar because the writer gets their cut, Smashwords gets a cut, and then there are some billing fees, but here’s the thing; the real thing, the real deal; I am increasing the profit from the referral link to 25%.

This means that you can earn more by selling my books. What’s that? Yes, you earn. No, I don’t want you to support me. I want to support you. You can sell my books, or Hell, you can sell anyone’s books, but not everyone will give you 25% of the profit, and not everyone can write like I do.

If you’re one of my loyal fans, you know I’m better than the Bee’s Knees; I’m the Gazelle’s Bells. If you’re not one of my fans…yet, feel free to download any of my free titles. You can’t sell those, but after you give the free titles a read, you’ll see how good I am, and you’ll believe that my books sell themselves.

Just check out this cover, title, blurb, and review.

The Dragon of Time, Gods and Dragons By Aaron Dennis
The Dragon of Time, Gods and Dragons By Aaron Dennis

Gods, Dragons, a mercenary with a blade and no memory of his past…. The world of Tiamhaal is alight in war. Men ruled by kings slay their opposition in the name of their God, but there are others who claim the Gods are little more than scorned Dragons of ages past. Scar has come to find the truth, but is the truth an absolute certainty, or is it just the skewed memory of a forgotten kingdom?

Smashwords review-

Scar is a complete mystery to everyone, including himself. He has no past that he can recall. He only knows that he woke up being attacked by a roving band of Dracs, hopelessly outnumbered, yet somehow managed to hack through all of them. His fighting prowess is amazing, and he has the ability to heal in moments anything but mortal wounds.

He finds himself a mercenary in the employ of Zoltek, leader of the Usaj, who has promised to request his god Zmaj reveal Scar’s past, and restore his memory. Double-crossed by Zoltek and left for dead, Scar finds himself catapulted into an epic struggle for truth between Dragons posing as gods and the gods they are replacing.

Wielding his gargantuan two-handed sword with its odd diamond-shaped holes, he carves a path through everyone blocking him from uncovering the truth about his past, his future, and the gods and dragons the people serve.

Gods and Dragons is an obviously large epic fantasy series launch, on the scale of The Wheel of Time. The world building is amazing, and there are more people groups, religions, magical ‘blessings’ and countries than you could possibly remember. The action in places is gripping, and the characters, especially Scar and Labolas, are well-defined and real. Scar reminds me of Conan, but with more brain. His hack-and-slay mentality however, has him rushing into any confrontation, confident in his ability to mow down the opposition faster than Link can cut the grass.

End review-

This book sells for $4.99, so if you sell even one copy of this book, you’ll earn about $1.00. Is that a lot? No, but isn’t earning a dollar better than donating five dollars, so that someone can sit in front of their computer and type for an hour or two a day? Isn’t this better than most of the convoluted affiliate marketing schemes?

Plus, I have seven titles for sale at the moment with one more coming out by the end of 2017, and probably another two more titles before 2019.

If you sell just a few copies a day, everyday, by practically doing nothing, and whatever you are doing is what you already love doing—reading and reviewing—you can earn 5, 10, 20 dollars a day, easy—from just my books, and like I said, you can put anyone’s books up on your book blog or review site. This is passive income.

Think about it. You can keep donating to everyone who thinks they’re a writer, or musician, or cosplayer, or whatever, and you can go broke, while you work, and they play, or you can earn money by just putting up some links to some books on your book blog or review site. As I said, this is passive income.

Is it really that tough to figure out which benefits you? Passive income benefits you!

Listen, crowdfunding has a definite role in the indie entertainment industry. Film producers and game developers do need crowdfunding. When James Rolfe of AVGN crowdfunded his AVGN movie, he not only threw in all of his money, he crowdfunded in order to pay for permits, to hire actors, editors, and to rent equipment and shoot sites.

That’s when people need crowdfunding, to organize an entire production. Rolfe used the crowd funds to employ people. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with lazy people asking for handouts in order to do something, which can easily be done in spare time after coming home from an honest day’s work.

Now, look at this book. This just came out in February of 2017.

They Lurk Among Us, Lokians 2 By Aaron Dennis
They Lurk Among Us, Lokians 2
By Aaron Dennis

This is actually a re-release of a title that was originally published through a small press, but I didn’t like how much they were charging for it, and when it was first released, it had a terrible cover, and quite a few formatting errors, but now it’s updated, and all set to go.

Did I get on Patreon, GofundMe, or IndieGoGo and ask for people to give me money to buy the new cover art or hire an editor? No, I paid for it out of pocket because my profits come from selling a quality product to consumers.

I know you can easily sell this book for $4.99 and earn a dollar, I know because I sell books all the time. You can sell books, too, and all from doing what? Pasting a link to your book blog or reviewer site, and then just hanging back, and letting your fans come to your site, and buy the books straight from you. It’s what you’re already doing. If you aren’t already running your own book blog or review site, you can start now; you have the incentive.

It’s so easy; I should know; I sell a ton of books, my books, and you can sell them, too, and then when people stick their greasy mitts out, lookin’ for a handout, you tell ‘em if they want money for their side hustle, they can go sell Dennis’s books.

Thanks, everyone, you guys are the best. Don’t give your money to people who laze around their homes all day doing nothing. You don’t need to be supporting healthy, young, lazy people. You don’t even need to be buying my books. Just sell ‘em. Let the others work for a living until their product, service, or art can support itself, and you worry about your income.

I want everyone to succeed from doing what they love just as much as you do, but I want to pay you to succeed; I don’t want you to support me. There’s a right and a wrong way to crowdfund. There’s a right and a wrong way to get involved with affiliate marketing. I’m just trying to simplify the process, and make sure that everyone can earn some money rather than having everyone who works for money give me their share.

I know you can get on board with that. Right? Sure you can. Start earning something for your hard work and passion today, and stop supporting lay-abouts, who call themselves artists. This is the conservative movement; look out for your pockets, your income, and stop trying to get everyone to support everyone else. If you work hard, and take care of yourself, you don’t need a handout; no, you can earn money by doing what you love.

I’ve had about enough of this crowdfunding madness, and I know you have, too. If not, if you’re okay with giving your money away to someone who pockets your cash, 1,000’s of dollars, and then spends 15 bucks to produce a poorly written novel, a single shot of them dressed like Princess Zelda, a water color painting that took 7 minutes to paint then you go ahead, and you give your money away, but if you’re like me, and you’re pissed off that every time you hop on social media, you see numerous people asking for handouts just so they can sit on their butts, and play dress up, or write a book, or sing at their computer’s microphone, do something about it.

Stop the madness. Stop donating. Start earning!

Thanks again.

Look, this guy’s trying to do the right thing!

They Lurk Among Us Chapter 3 Part 2

lokians they lurk among us

They Lurk Among Us is the sequel to Beyond the End of the World. Both titles, and a third, were at one point published by a small press. I’ve complained about that press to my satisfaction, and I’m now proud to say that with the return of rights, I will be re-releasing Lokians 2,They Lurk Among Us pretty soon.

The Lokians series is a sci fi series heavy with aliens, high tech, action, and a little espionage. I don’t know how soon They Lurk Among Us, Lokians 2, will be out, but here’s a chunk of the third chapter.

The traveler she had met a few months earlier taught her how to pilot ships using a mechanical helmet. The device integrated her awareness with the ship by synchronizing theta waves. There was no such device on the enemy shuttle, but the regulated breaths she took brought about a similar sensation; her brain felt like it was bubbling.

Slowly, her mind cleared. Her brainwaves altered, and much to her amazement, she felt the AMS’s programming like a dream. Without questioning the discrepancy, Day searched for the core system’s kernal, but something strange was taking place. It was as though the shuttle’s AMS wasn’t using a familiar language.

It was the OS; it was foreign, alien, like Navy code was its secondary language. It took her a long time, but her skills allowed her to locate the core system and ultimately override the password lockout. Then, she scheduled a landing at Alpha-2, clearance codes included. Luckily, Montrose’s shuttle also employed an F.T.L. drive, which was unheard of for a shuttle. Moreover, it wasn’t a Navy shuttle.

“Huh,” she looked around. She felt odd, detatched, and fluffed her hair. “Need to commandeer the Convoy-7 now.” In order to keep her team out of Montrose’s fire, she crafted a plan. The most reasonable thing to do was to get Johnson and Torres out of the ship. If I explain that two, dead men are aboard a shuttle, I might get them to check things out. Then, I’ll make my move.

F.T.L. speeds brought her to the colony in less than an hour. Upon reaching optimal proximity, she took the cockpit controls and slowed her vessel to standard speed. In no time, the large asteroid was in full view through the shuttle’s visual screen. Like all the Alpha colonies, Alpha-2 was basically large, steel structures built into the asteroid, and minutes later, she touched down on one of the landing platforms. She slowly pulled the shuttle to the airlock and waited.

“We’re here, Ma’am. What now?” Johnson’s voice erupted through the comms. just seconds later.

“There’s two, dead men aboard this shuttle! I need you and Torres to help me, please,” she exclaimed.

“Roger that, Ma’am. Are you hurt?” Johnson was shocked.

“Just come here,” she yelled back.

Day walked through the airlock in a frazzled state. She stepped into the security, laminate hallway leading into the customs office. Beyond the resistant glass, an infinite, twinkling void remained portentous, looming inhospitably. Johnson and Torres entered from the opposing end. They spotted each other, and as they jogged towards her, she just pointed behind herself.

“They’re in there,” she screamed.

As soon as the two men vanished, she bolted down the corridor, burst through the door into the customs office, ran to the other end on her right, and took a second door that led through a second, laminate hallway, and beyond that was the Convoy-7. The inventory manager behind the counter didn’t even have time to react; Day was a flash of blonde hair.

She entered, proceeding up the steps, to the ship’s bridge. After scrambling through a few corridors, she hopped into her suede chair in front of the control console. Upon commandeering her own vessel, she rocketed away from Alpha-2.

Day brushed hair out of her face, her eyes darting about the bridge. There was no one else on board as they had just finished up her last run before the mess with Shaw. Immediately, she shut off all communications and plotted coordinates to the Hellsview’s supply entrance.

She knew by running supply missions for the last few months that every drop was scheduled and inventoried. With no schedule or clearance, she struggled to hatch a plan. Suddenly, it dawned on her. Might be able to access old supply runs within the data archives. She scrambled at the keys, running through lists of completed runs. Her shaky hands didn’t help the situation. After popping her neck she relaxed and tried again.

Before Day’s reassignment, the ship had sat unused for weeks. Predating its hiatus was a logged run to the military, prison colony. The drop had been just over a year ago. Codes and clearance were available. With any luck the guards at Hellsview will grant access.

She kept the ship at F.T.L. for the greater portion of the distance. Her mind ran rampant. She wasn’t sure if she had actually covered her tracks. She was also concerned over the fact that she had killed two men. They’re not soldiers, but they were people, and probably with families. My God, I think I’m gonna’ be sick. The robotic voice suddenly came on.

“Entering Hellsview perimeter. Please, power down F.T.L. drive.”

Day knew that a supply ship traveling at F.T.L. aroused suspicions, so she slowed down, allowing for a nerve wracking two hour delay. Using the time, she attempted to guess how she was going to get DeReaux and Swain out of prison. Running fingers through her hair, she bit her lip and thought. Hopefully, they’re not locked away in individual cells. That would make things more difficult. While I’m there, I should be able to ask to see them, though. If that’s a go, then we have to create a distraction to get aboard the ship, her thoughts dwindled; there were too many open ends.

Ultimately, no matter what she decided, she had to be careful, and she had to move fast. If word got around that I killed the President’s officers, my punishment might be death. I probably won’t even get a trial. The navigation system dinged. It had been a fast two hours.

“Arriving at Hellsview military prison facility,” the AMS said.

“Oh, my God…here we go.”

She turned communications back on and set them to Hellsview’s frequency. Looking at the speaker, she took a deep breath. Before she said anything, a voice came on.

Convoy-7, this is Ensign Dekker, please provide military identification.”

“This is Lieutenant Sara Day of the Convoy-7. I.D. number 553A. I have a shipment of paper goods here,” Day replied, wide eyed.

“We’re not expecting delivery of any paper goods, Miss Day.”

“Umm, according to my files you are. Yep. Says right here, pick up paper goods from Alpha-2 and transport to Hellsview. Ordered by CWO Nguyen, clearance number 2237A9,” Day responded.

The voice at the other end sighed then paused for a moment. “Okay. Okay. Something somewhere got screwed up, but your codes check out. Go ahead and dock, and we’ll see what we’ve got.”

“Roger that,” Day yelled.

She let out a breath of disbelief, stamping her foot, and placing her hands on her hips. The momentary relief was a weight off her tiny shoulders. A second later, she was a little calmer, and ready for the next step. She docked then walked to the airlock where she waited for the inventory auditor to arrive.

As the ship’s door was already open when the young man showed up, he walked right in with scanner in hand. “Miss Day,” the man asked as he looked around the airlock.

“That’s me.”

He was a young man in battle dress as most of the prison guards were; B.D.U.’s on Hellsview were black and red, digital camouflage, not that there was any place wherein they might go undetected. The armor plating on his suit was rather light, much lighter than battle dress normally worn by the spec ops team; of course, Hellsview armor was for security purposes rather than alien claws.

“Inventory is down here,” Day informed the youngster as she walked him to the vessel’s storage level.

They checked the inventory together. Then, the young man turned to Day.

“Ma’am…the codes on the inventory show they belong to Alpha-2,” the youngster wore a frown.

“Well, that can’t be right. That’s where I picked ‘em up. Ronni over there must’ve forgotten to rescan them when I saw her. You know how she is, always talking, never paying attention. I don’t know–”

“Ma’am, I can’t take these. I’m sorry I don’t know what to tell you,” the youngster interrupted.

Day furrowed her brow and adopted a no-nonsense stance by slightly turning and spreading her feet. She tugged her gray skirt lower then dusted her black blazer’s sleeves. It was an effort to display both her authority and her numerous ribbons and medals. With a feirce gaze, she looked him up and down. He looked like a teenager, and likely, he was still learning.

“What’s your name?” she barked.

“Um Laughlin. P-Peter Laughlin, Ma’am.” he replied, a little shaken.

“Laughlin, how long you been here?”

“Well…about three months. I just got transferred,” he whispered while looking away.

“Well, Laughlin. I want you to go find your supervisor, Mister Dekker, and get this cleared up,” she ordered.

Laughlin nodded and saluted. Day returned the salute, and waited a few seconds. Anxiety brewed within her. She exited the ship, walked through the steel corridor, and into the inventory office where she saw Laughlin talking to a hulking, red-haired man with a thin beard. The large man then approached her; his towering stature was a bit disconcerting, but he was smiling.

“We got a little mix-up here, huh,” Dekker asked and rubbed the back of his head.

“Yes we do, Ensign,” Day replied, pulling rank with a smile.

“Yeah…okay, I really shouldn’t take this stuff until it’s been properly scanned in….”

“Listen, Dekker, it’s paper goods, you know? T.P. and napkins? It’s senseless to turn it down. You do what you gotta’ do. I’m not due anywhere for a little while, and I think I might know a few people here. Mind if I go mosey around?” Day bore her most disarming candor.

Dekker nodded and saluted. Day returned the salute, and hurriedly walked off. She knew she had very little time, and none of it for crap. There were just too many inconsistencies. Dekker was certainly going to realize the ship had no crew. Once she made it to the sign in center, she found a large, black woman behind the counter.

Day observed her through the security mesh, a chain link partition spanning from the counter to the ceiling. The officer behind the mesh wore a dress uniform, and although she was indoors, prison C.O.’s wore their hats while on duty.

“Kin’ I help you?” the officer had attitude.

“I’m Lieutenant Day. I need to see some prisoners.”

“Mmhm. Well, I’m Commander Temple, short stuff, an’ I need to know what you’re doin’ here,” the C.O. stuck a hand on her large hip.

“Riiight. Okay, listen, I’ve been delayed, some scanning problems with my inventory. I have some friends here. We were spec ops together. We served under Captain O’Hara. I just want to say hi.”

Commander Temple winced then straightened up. She looked down her nose to Day.

“Alright, honey. I know that name. Between you an’ me? I heard somethin’ about that mission. Captain gone AWOL…. Why they got you on supply runs?”

“It’s a long story. They’re trying to sweep us under the rug. I just want to say hi to Lamont DeReaux and Albert Swain.”

Commander Temple’s face brightened up. “Ohhh, Mista’ Swain. Mmhm. Okay, honey, I’ll let you say hi. Go on in. I’ll send for him.”

Day grinned and nodded. A buzzer rang then a door comprised of steel bars popped open. Day walked into the waiting room where prisoners were allowed visitation. After picking a table, she sat down with folded hands on the plastic tabletop.

Thank you for reading another installment of the Lokians sci fi series. I hope you enjoyed it. Not too many aliens in this particular chapter, but lot’s of intrigue. They Lurk Among Us will be out soon. In the meantime, you can grab Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1 for free. Plenty of action and aliens in Lokians 1!

So you want to be a writer part 7

 

writer editor

It’s important to consider the types of publishing platforms before releasing your novel. Rather than diving right into the different kinds, I’m going to tell you a story; the story of my writing career, or rather how it began.

I initially tried my hand at writing a novel many years ago. I was about 18, in college, and still playing Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends with a great group of guys. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to write a story based on some of our adventures.

I set about the task, and three pages in, I hit a wall. I wanted my story to be true to the game, and I didn’t have all the manuals, and I certainly didn’t own all the novels, and since I was 18, that meant that the year was 2001, which is before the internet really blew up; I mean, there were certainly millions of people on the internet even back then, but I don’t think Wikipedia (shouldn’t it be Wikipaedia?) existed at the time, and I have no clue if WoC or TSR or whoever ran DnD at the time had a website, but it didn’t matter; I didn’t even have a dial-up connection; there wasn’t a need for it (this was the golden age of e-mail subscriber lists, though).

I talked to my buddies about the idea, but the more we talked, the more it seemed it was a useless endeavor. I didn’t really care too much about it either; I just thought it was going to be cool to write a book, but the fact of the matter was that my passion didn’t outweigh the obstacles, so I just let it go.

Ten years later, I had such an idea for a story I decided I was just going to go ahead and write it, or try to. I sat down and simply described the series of events, which became my very first short story: Eudora.

At that time, I had no idea how to use punctuation. I knew grammar well enough, and I’ve always maintained an abundant repertoire of words, and have always been a decent raconteur, so in the end, all I tried to do was chronicle the events of the story, and it worked. I had no plans, though, but Hell, I knew that since I completed one story, I was certainly capable of completing another; publishing stories, however, was the farthest thing from my mind.

I wrote four stories over the course of two or three months just for fun, and then I showed some friends and family, but I claimed that I had found the stories online and just thought they were neat. No one really seemed to care, until I wrote one more story. I called it: Shadowman.

There was an older gentleman I knew by the name of Jarrett Slavin (sorry if I misspelled it, Coach), who upon learning of my newfound passion, he asked to read the stories, and he really enjoyed Eudora and Shadowman, and he suggested I find a way to get published. Had it not been for him, all of my other titles would not even exist…what might have been….

Nevertheless, I was then left the daunting task of achieving publication, so I got on the internets, Googled “publishing”, found the addresses of a few publishers, and sent out my stories, of course they were all short stories, and no publisher wants those, but I found other methods of publication. I found Xlibris, a print on demand (POD) company, and of course, no sooner had I e-mailed them that I received a call, and man, oh, man was I pumped. I really thought I had just made it big league. (Big league, not bigly.)

All POD companies want is your money. They’ll take anything, and you’re responsible for your content, for your quality, but they’ll certainly charge you for reviews, trailers, covers, promotional packages, you name it; they’ll charge you, and honestly, if you have the world’s greatest book, they may actually be helpful because they can certainly help you get your book in the right hands, but my book, my four, short stories called Shadowman, were far from good, far from quality writing.

Regardless, as I spent more and more money, and then ran out of money, I kept writing, and when I finished my first, full length novel, Lokians, I started my search for publication all over again, but I knew POD was not for me. I needed someone else to do all the legwork for me, but I didn’t think it was fair that I had to pay for the legwork. I just wanted to write, so I set about the task of mailing and e-mailing traditional publishers, and even smaller presses like Edge, and no one was interested, so I did more research on what was required to achieve publication, and learned about literary agents, but when I contacted them, they never replied.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your outlook on life, I found a press, which labeled itself an independent press, Eternal Press. For all intents and purposes, everything looked good. Their books were available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, so I figured that it was a good start. By then, I knew that mainstream publishers were purposefully keeping writers out until those writers made a name for themselves, so I knew I just needed to work hard and make a name for myself through a small, independent press.

Well, initially, I submitted my manuscript, and the acquisitions editor was kind enough to tell me that while my story seemed interesting, there was a great deal of information dumped onto the reader right at the very beginning, so I went through a round of what I thought was editing, and figured out that rather than telling the reader everything I thought they should know before the story started, it might be better to allow the world to unfold throughout the story. Then, I resubmitted, and they accepted it, and man, oh, man did I think I had hit it big. An actual publisher with editors, and marketers, and everything was going to polish my book and sell it, and all I had to do was sit back and write.

Well, when the contracts came, everything seemed legit. All they had asked was that I also made an effort to market and sell the book, and I thought that was only fair; it was my book after all, and I certainly wanted to talk about it, so I made social media accounts and started telling no one (because I had not built a fan base) that my book was coming out.

Next, I had to write a blurb, and I didn’t know what that was, nor had I comprehended its importance, so I just wrote about what the story was. No one made an effort to correct me, so I thought I had nailed it. Then, I had to come up with a cover, and I am not really an artist; I’m not even a visual person, so I came up with some weird concept with a bunch of aliens and space ships, and they told me to try again because it was too flashy, too busy. Later, I realized the truth was that they didn’t actually employ artists, and I’ll get back to that later.

We settled on a cover, which I didn’t really like, but I was just so excited and so ready to start selling, I accepted. Then, we moved on to editing. The “editor” made very few comments, adjustments, and suggestions, and so again, I thought I had nailed it. I mean, if an editor doesn’t have much to say or change then the story must be near perfect, right? Well…not so much.

Finally, the release date came, and the book was finalized. I was invited to join some Yahoo groups and even participate in a live chat where I was to discuss my book with potential readers. It turned out that there were no readers, only other authors writing for the same press. That was a little disappointing, but I didn’t think anything of it because I knew the publisher was certainly going to sell my book. Selling books is their job, and if they don’t sell, they can’t stay in business, right?

Wrong again; they made their money by enticing their writers to purchase copies of their own books, just like a POD company, and then it became my job to go out and find places to set up and sell to people, but no one let me do such a thing. Barnes and Noble didn’t allow it. Books-a-Million didn’t allow it. There are no local bookstores where I live, so my best bet was a friend’s comic book store, which felt really awkward because his customers where there to buy comic books, and out of the hundred copies of my terribly written book, I sold three on my first attempt, and none on my second attempt.

In the meantime, my e-books were priced at nearly seven dollars. Who is going to spend seven dollars on an unheard of book by an unknown author when they can spend nine or ten dollars on Harry Potter? The answer? No one. In the three years that I was published through Eternal Press, and with the four books that I released through them, I may have earned as much as forty dollars. That meant that Eternal Press also earned about forty dollars off my sales, and about five hundred dollars off my purchasing my own, print copies. That meant that if every writer, and there were hundreds of us, each bought five hundred dollars worth of books each year, Eternal Press made some decent money, but the writers only ever spent money.

Consider that if I had sold all of my print copies at twenty dollars that’s only $2,000, and that sounds great, but then you have to subtract the $500 spent on purchasing the copies, and I think it was more than that, but we’ll keep the numbers round. That leaves a $1,500 profit, which is still nice, but then you have to factor in time, travel, gas, food, the posters I had made up, the business cards, and in the end, had I sold all of my copies, all one hundred in one day, I may have cleared $800. That’s still not terrible, but without the fan base to be able to move all hundred copies over the course of a day, a week, or even a month, that $800 not only dwindles from continuously traveling and setting up, but it starts looking worse and worse. Had I sold all hundred copies over the course of a year, which I didn’t, that’s still $800, and probably less, over the course of a year, hardly a success story, and as I stated, I didn’t sell more than three copies.

I kicked, I cried, I screamed, I complained, I begged; I wanted my prices lowered, so that the e-books would sell. I wanted to submit updated versions of my books, too, versions that didn’t have common errors and formatting errors; yeah, formatting errors. How retarded was Eternal Press? They weren’t even capable enough to format their books properly, and in the end, there was nothing to be done. The product was what the product was, and I had the option of peddling my crap and disappointing readers, or sitting idly by until the contracts expired; I mean, Eternal Press wasn’t selling anything.

During that time, I wrote a great deal more for two reasons. For one, I just really enjoyed it, and two, I felt a need to vindicate myself, or perhaps apologize to readers for having released dreck. Then, of course, I had to figure out what kind of publication I was going to try next; I certainly wasn’t going to go through Eternal Press again.

I spoke to a few, other, smaller presses, but I didn’t like what they had to say; they wanted money up front, they didn’t want to make the books available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or anywhere apart from their site, or they wanted to keep too much off the top, so I went back through my old, short stories, cleaned ‘em up, and published free to Smashwords, entered those stories into their premium catalog, and bang! Those stories made it onto Barnes and Noble…and iBooks…and Kobo…and Nook, and you name it.

I also wrote fanfiction and published it to FanFiction.net, and with my newly released short stories, which were free, I started to build a fan base, but my titles with Eternal Press just rotted away, and I could not, in good faith, promote those titles because they were not the best of me. Finally, I hired a few editors for my new, full-length titles.

One editor, after paying for services, told me to re-write my book, and then resubmit, for another fee, of course. I did not hire them again. The second editor just re-wrote my whole book from start to finish in their own voice with their own views. I mean, it was a totally different book with different characters and different interactions at that point. I did not keep any of those changes. Then, I hired a real editor, Chuck Sambuchino, and he taught me how to edit my story for readers.

That book was released under the title The Dragon of Time, Gods and Dragons, and it has gone on to do quite well. Through CreateSpace, I made print copies available, and they are much cheaper to sell, and purchase for my own uses, than the print copies released by Eternal Press or Xlibris. I also e-published, for free, to Amazon, which I then pulled for reasons that are not yet pertinent, and since I had hired my own cover artist for five dollars through Fiverr.com, I had a banging cover, a cover that blew the covers made by Eternal Press to dust.

I also uploaded the book to Smashwords, which meant it made it to all, online retailers, and get this, I got to keep almost all of the money earned from sales, and other people can also sell my book via an affiliate link, so we all make money. I must admit, though, that I did try to use Gods and Dragons to land an agent and achieve major publication, and while numerous agents replied, and with admiration, no one felt it was “marketable”, but that isn’t accurate; the truth is that they didn’t think I had enough fans, which meant the mainstream publishers wouldn’t touch it because, remember, they want your fans, not the other way around.

This is precisely why I want you to build a fan base before writing your debut novel. Then, you can prove to the agent that you’re the real deal!

At any rate, Eternal Press wound up being purchased by another company and became Caliburn Press. No one told me for the longest time, but then an old friend from Eternal Press happened to ask me how I liked the new owners, so I went and found out that my books weren’t even available on Caliburn’s website, but they were still available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, so I got in touch with Caliburn over the discrepancy to learn that my contracts had been “lost in transition”. After some arguing, I simply stated that if that was the case, and there were no copies of my contracts, then the rights were mine, and I demanded all my titles pulled.

At this stage, while writing this very post, I have gone back and recreated all four of those books. Three are part of the Lokians series, and the fourth book was Shadowman, which has been totally overhauled, and is now titled: Otherside. I mention this to show that it has been nothing short of a long and arduous journey, and I am discussing it because I am trying to show you all the possible pitfalls of publishing. The short of this: go big or go home.

What I mean is; either do not stop trying to achieve major publication, or just go the self published route. You might get lucky with an actual, independent press like Edge Publishing, Rocking Horse Publishing, or Baen, but you had better be careful. Do your research. Look at their books on their site, on Amazon, on Barnes and Noble, on iBooks. Look at their prices, if there’s an option, look inside and read some of the titles. Don’t be shy; go and track down the authors, too, and ask them how they like being published through that press.

Now, the nitty-gritty:

If you have a fan base, if you have a bangin’ title, cover, and blurb, and if your book is expertly polished, self publishing is a fantastic way to go. Not only do you have complete control—Hell, even King self publishes some titles—but you get to keep almost all of your money, except the money Amazon will steal from you. I’m not even kidding, they will steal from you ten and twelve cents at a time, and they will often not pay you for Kindle pages read through KOLL, or KULL, or KENP, or whatever the Hell it is now. That’s why I pulled my e-titles from Amazon, but Smashwords has been a paragon of self publishing.

If your book isn’t up to snuff, though, self publishing can kill your career before it begins. Basically, the thing to note is that your book must be near perfect to land a literary agent or be taken seriously by a real, indie press, and if your book is that good and well written, you can use it to just make a name for yourself by self publishing, but self publishing requires so much friggin’ work because all of the responsibility falls on you, but then if you’ve built your fan base by following the advice from these posts, and your book is stellar, and you do self publish, and you do sell, you will be approached by agents or even publishers. Of course, if you’re already successful, for what do you need them?

That’s up to you. You may need them to help you get movie options, or you may just want them to sell for you. It’s your call, but you need to consider everything before writing your novel.

Stay away from POD companies like Friesen Press or Xlibris; everything they do, you can do, or you can hire someone to do it for you, and for a much lower price than they charge. Yes, you will have to spend some money and do some serious legwork, but even if you decide to self publish you can hire someone to turn your book into a movie, you can hire artists to turn your book into a graphic novel, you might even find some indie, game developers and sweet talk them into turning your book into a game; the possibilities are there.

Avoid hybrid presses. Some of them are obvious; they charge you upfront, or they’re really just a crowdfunding platform that charges you to use their services in the hopes that enough people will pay to publish your book; utter nonsense. While I’m against crowdfunding to publish a book, you can do it on your own without using a hybrid press. There’s also a ton of information out there on how to crowdfund successfully.

It’s just my personal opinion that charging people to publish your book is wrong since you can publish for free. You’ll only need money for a cover ($6 now on Fiverr, so it should be Sixerr) and to hire an editor, but if you shop for editors, you can probably get away with spending less than $1,000, so…crowdfund if you want to; no one is putting a gun to peoples’ head and forcing them to donate, so if you’re comfortable crowdfunding, asking people to give you money so you can produce content for which you charge…go for it.

Then, there are other, hybrid presses, like Eternal Press, Caliburn, or whatever they call themselves now. They are a bit more surreptitious in their behavior. They act like a small, independent press, but their staff is crap; their artists can’t make decent covers short of Photoshopping, they know nothing of blurbs, marketing, or selling books, they won’t help you get reviews, they want you to buy your books, so they can profit, and they won’t even edit your book properly.

I even had an argument with the previous owner about how to sell books, and she told me she had a business management degree and didn’t need my opinion. Well, I’m not stupid or uneducated. I know what a business management degree is, and it has nothing to do with economics, marketing, branding, or selling, and is obviously why she ended up selling the failing business.

So, if you stay away from hybrid presses and PODs, that only leaves major publication, really. It’s just as hard to get picked up by the real, independent presses as the major houses, so you’re better off trying to land an agent, which means learning how to query, how to write a synopsis, and knowing that you need to already be successful in order to be taken seriously by an agent…so, again, you might as well go self published for your debut novel, but don’t feel pressured to, either.

It’s up to you; go big or go home. Mainstream presses will certainly do their utmost to sell your book. There is no doubt about that, but that doesn’t mean that your book will sell. It doesn’t mean that your book will be expertly polished, either; I have written extensively about how terrible mainstream editors are nowadays, but hey, even crap sells, am I right? Not to mention that you can still hire a freelance editor —and will probably have to in order to be taken seriously by an agent.

The thing to consider when going mainstream is their modus operandi. Yes, if you get picked up, they may give you a small advance; debut advances are generally $2,000, but you will not earn a dime in royalties until said press earns back their $2,000, and you generally have only six months to achieve this, and if you don’t, they’ll release your contract, and not only are you back at step one, but you’ll need a new cover, a new editor (the press will still own the cover and their rewritten version of your book), and you’ll never get another shot at mainstream publication.

On the other hand, you may sell quite well, and then they will tell you to go ahead and buy 5,000 copies of your own book in order to fake your way onto the New York Time’s Best Seller list. Yup, not even kidding, so forget that $2,000 you earned; you’re about spend ten-plus grand, and then, they’ll want you to go out gallivanting from store to store across the country, and sell your books on your dime, and you may sell…you may not sell, so it really boils down to what kind of life you want.

Perhaps, you have always dreamed of traveling the country, visiting book stores, selling and signing copies, performing readings in front of adoring fans. There’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s your dream, follow it, do absolutely everything required to achieve mainstream publication. Avoid absolutely everything that doesn’t lead you to mainstream publication. Do understand that it may take years, and years, and years after completing your novel for you to find an agent and actually get published, so again, there’s no reason not to self publish your first title, prove you can sell, and then reach for mainstream publication with your second title.

Here’s why. Assume you finish your novel today, and it’s perfect, and edited, and whatever else. You contact an agent, and since you are not supposed to contact multiple agents at once, you wait, and you wait, and you wait, but you never get a reply, so after three months, you figure you can query another agent…but they don’t reply, so you wait another three month, query another agent, and a month later, they are kind enough to tell they are not interested. It’s a hassle, so you figure you’ll send your manuscript to Baen Books, but you are not supposed to query more than one publisher at a time, so you wait, and you wait, and you wait, and a whole year goes by, and they don’t reply, so you figure it’s safe to query Rocking Horse, and after eight months, they are kind enough to let you know that they are not interested…. It’s a lot of wasted time, right? You can certainly keep writing in the meantime, and should keep writing, but if you released your debut novel on your own, during your two or three year wait period, you could be making some sales, enjoying your life as a writer, and making a name for yourself. Of course this means self publishing the first book, and writing the second book with the goal of achieving mainstream publication.

Now, do you remember the first few posts where it was stated that success means something different to different people? Do you remember where it was stated that being a successful writer is a lifestyle? Some people don’t want to parade across the country, selling books; some people just want to sit at home and write, and self publishing is great for that, but really, there is no reason to avoid trying one or the other.

If you can achieve major publication, that’s a surefire way to build a fan base, and then you can release whatever you want on your own, and keep all the money, but beware, there are some instances in some contracts where this is not allowed, so it may better to start off self publishing, and then trying the mainstream route.

Whatever you do; learn to write, build a fan base, hire an editor, and then do your research. For more information visit my Quora blogs, or check out my Editing Services Tab. You can also flip through numerous posts right here, which will help you outline a strategy for achieving long term success through the consistent release of quality content. Thanks, I’ve been great.