Category Archives: writing

Welcome to the age of indie; mainstream entertainment is all but dead

Ash with Boom stick
Ash with Boom stick

My name is Aaron. I am a writer. Some of you know me from articles, or game reviews, or short stories, or even my novels. Some of you don’t know me at all.

My writing career really began by accident; I had written some short stories for myself, and some of the people closest to me enjoyed them, and they suggested I found a way to have them published. The short version of this story is that my journey led me to find Smashwords.

Smashwords is a great platform for the indie writer and publisher. As with every product, some of the products available from Smashwords are better than other products. The same can certainly be said for mainstream publishers, and the books written by mainstream authors.

How many mainstream authors can you name?

There are millions. Most of them have only a single title. Most of them are not earning a living from their writing. Most mainstream books are not written very well, and today, many mainstream editors are doing a very poor job.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to convince anyone to shy away from mainstream authors. I’m just trying to make readers aware of a great place to find some new adventures.

Nowadays, many of the books that people buy from Amazon are indie books. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with Amazon. For one, it’s painfully difficult to list a title for free. There are too many hoops through which authors and publishers must jump, and often times, the end result is still not a free title!

You can find numerous, free, indie titles on Barnes and Noble online as well as iBooks, but just about all of those titles are originally published through Smashwords—Barnes and Noble online and iBooks are just distributors. You can even download free samples of those priced books from Smashwords.

I’m writing about Smashwords because of that reason, actually. You see, there are many readers out there, readers like you, who are tired of the “same ole’ same ole’”; you are looking for something new, and every time you find something new from your favorite, mainstream publisher, you find that it’s…not as great as they made it seem.

Did you know that mainstream publishers have their authors buy 5,000 copies of their books in order to fake their way onto the New York Time’s best seller list? Did you know they also create tons of faux accounts from which they post fake reviews? Yes, the publishers have their employees create email accounts, or the company just allocates a department, which creates email accounts, and those email accounts are used to make Amazon accounts, and Barnes and Noble accounts, etc., and they use those accounts to write fake, rave reviews. I am well aware that indie publishers and indie writers do the same thing, but that’s exactly my point; today, there is no real difference in quality of products between indie and mainstream; both have good and bad writers, good and bad books, so why not pop on down to Smashwords?

At least, from Smashwords, you can find numerous writers who release free titles. You can read their free books, and if you like them, you’ll know, without spending a dime, if you like their style. If their books aren’t free, you can always download a free sample, and that way you can see if the book is worth the price. Furthermore, very few books are priced at anything over $5.99. Most mainstream ebooks run upwards from $9.99 to even $13.99…for an ebook!

Now, I’m writing this article at a crucial time. You see, every year, Smashwords has a month long promo. In July, I will be using that promo to give away my books at a discounted price, and even some for free. This is a great way for me to find new fans, but a big problem with Smashwords is that most users are other writers. I need new readers to come to Smashwords and see just how great it is.

You’ll have to make an account in order to download ebooks, but the account is free; all you need is an email address. Then, you can download all the books you want. You can even rate and review them on Smashwords. Some of the books even have associated videos, like trailers or readings; you don’t see that on Barnes and Noble online, do you?

Come check out Smashwords. Check it out right now, and next month, in July, come download some great books. Be sure to start with mine, ‘cause, ya’ know, I’m the best.

Thanks for reading. Share with your friends. They like reading, too, and soon, you’ll all be talking about the Lokians series, or The Dragon of Time series, or The Adventures of Larson and Garrett!

Be sure to check out June is my BOOM Month!

How do I improve this sentence? 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 can I improve the following sentence?

 

Addendum: They hence end up preferring better ways of ensuring that these issues never arise again in their counties.

 

Answer: Good question, a question worthy of an editor.

 

We certainly have an ugly, clunky sentence up there. What’s it saying? What will the paragraph explain? These are questions a writer, or an editor, must be able to answer.

 

As I’ve stated ad nauseam: When you’re writing your story, article, post, whatever, just write what you’re thinking, but when you’re done writing, you need to find the best possible way to make a point to a target audience. Write for you. Edit for an audience.

 

Let’s look at the sentence again:

 

They hence end up preferring better ways of ensuring that these issues never arise again in their counties.

 

Okay, it seems to me that they, their issues, and their countries are the points in question.

By focusing on the meaning behind the words, we learn that people have ended up ensuring that some issues never arise in their countries. The simplest expression, I believe, is this:

 

They discovered better ways to prevent the issues from ever again arising within their countries.

 

In order to make it more complex, I need to know how they came up with better ways to prevent issues from arising. If I assume it’s through education, I write a more complex sentence.

 

For instance: Due to an improved educational system, they devised better ways to prevent the issues from ever again arising within their countries.

 

Such a case can, and should, be extended within the paragraph. Obviously, this person from Quora wasn’t writing a single sentence, but an entire article or maybe even a book. In such an event, it may be necessary to simplify such a complex sentence, and write two or three simpler sentences, but that really depends on the target audience; will it be fifth graders or grad students?

 

Editing is not only about finding the most cogent way to present ideas; it is also about presenting the cogent ideas in terms best suited for a specific audience. Many ideas are too complicated for a single sentence. That’s precisely why we write in paragraphs.

 

A paragraph should contain only a single idea, and each of its sentences should only be present to support and expound upon that idea, which is why some sentences are more complex than others, and is why some paragraphs are longer than others.

 

Can your editing software handle all that? Hire an editor. Your readers deserve it.

 

BT dubz, don’t forget that June is my BOOM month. If you don’t know what that is, read about it here….

Thanks for reading. Like, share, and all that jazz.

Does sentence structure matter?

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: Is the following sentence correctly structured?

 

“One has to draw our attention to the cultural differences thay may lead to miscommunication.” How can that sentence be improved?

 

Answer: First, thay is actually that. Second, you might want to replace that with which.

 

One has to draw our attention to the cultural differences, which may lead to miscommunication.

 

However, it’s still a bit confusing.

 

It sounds like the sentence is suggesting that an outside influence is required to point out to us that cultural differences can lead to miscommunication, or it might be saying that we should pay more attention to the miscommunications caused by the cultural differences, but then again, if these differences “may” lead to miscommunication, they also “may not” lead to miscommunication—it’s too open to interpretation. What do you want say?

 

Perhaps, a simpler version is the following:

 

Only an outside force can show us that cultural differences often lead to miscommunication.

 

That’s cut and dry.

 

The differences among cultures can lead to miscommunication. The differences among cultures do lead to miscommunication. Differences of culture are one cause of miscommunication. Differences of culture go unnoticed during miscommunication.

 

Unless someone points it out, no one might notice that differences of culture go unnoticed during miscommunication.

 

Again, what do you want to say to your audience? It is not all the same. Each sentence is very different and can have a huge impact on the overall idea present within a single paragraph.

 

Writing is all about getting the thoughts out of our heads and onto a physical or digital medium, but communication and storytelling are totally different worlds from just written thoughts.

 

Have any of you ever been speaking to friends, family, or a spouse, and someone asks you to repeat what you said, or asked you to clarify, or immediately started to berate you until you had to explain that what you were explaining wasn’t what they thought you were saying?

 

All the time, right? The way you think is the way you write, but your audience is not in your head, and since you can’t clarify to them specifically after having written whatever it is that you’re writing, you must be able to provide cogent arguments, ideas, and events to a broad range of recipients who cannot question you.

 

Writing the first draft of your book, story, blog post, etc is the easy part. After you’ve written it, you have to edit, and I don’t mean adding commas or correcting misspelled words; I mean it’s time to rewrite your thoughts for people who don’t live inside your head, so that no mistakes of interpretation can be made.

 

This is the power of words, punctuation, sentence structure, paragraph form, and all facets of editing. A writer provides a sequential account of events. An editor works as an interpreter; they are someone who relates those events to a specific audience, but you can edit your own work if you learn to read your work as a reader.

 

To read your work as a reader, the most important step is to get away from whatever you’ve written for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. Then, go back and read it, and you will surely come across instances wherein you won’t even know what you were trying to say. Those will be obvious fixes, but there will more subtle instances of miscommunication, where something makes sense to you, but probably won’t make sense to anyone else, or it may just be open to interpretation.

 

It’s crazy, but no author out there thinks that what they’ve written can possibly be misconstrued, and that anyone who might misconstrue must be a dunce, so, okay, imagine that everyone is a dunce, that way you won’t leave any room for misinterpretation.

 

Everything you write, must be absolutely on point, and should leave no room for interpretation, but that means that you have to read and reread your work dozens of times, and it means that you have to scrutinize each word, each sentence, and each paragraph. Then, you have to make sure that each scene is supported by the paragraphs, and that each chapter begins and ends properly, and that no one in the world can come up with a reason that your story doesn’t work—plot holes; they’re killers!

 

If this sounds like too much work, hire an editor. There’s no shame in it. Every single mainstream writer is paired with editors. It’s how the entire publishing industry works. Do you really think you don’t need an editor? Think again.

 

Learn more here.

Barnaby, a Fantasy Musical

Remember when Lisa Simpson played the protest song?

It was the 17th episode of the 4th season and called something like Last Exit to Springfield.

So, then, this guy, Julian W. made an original song based on the protest song.

Hear it here

For some reason, the embed link is disabled, but you can just click the link to hear it.

What does any of this have to do with my latest work, Barnaby, a fantasy musical tragedy?

Well, I had that song, or the music, stuck in my head, and wrote a fantasy musical tragedy. The italicized portion of the following text are to be sung to the protest song, like a chorus or whatever….

Barnaby, a fantasy musical tragedy by Aaron Dennis

Music…by…. The Simpsons, I guess.

Written February 11th of 2017

Since it’s cool to make your own song based on the protest song, I hope someone makes an actual musical out of my story. Go for it. I don’t care, just credit me, Aaron Dennis, and www.storiesbydennis.com

Barnaby, a fantasy musical tragedy

 

Let me tell you a story, a story of friends. They were both warriors. They were both men.

Brave men can fight. Brave men can love. Some’ll remember. Some have regret.

Twenty years they were brothers. Twenty more they did fret. What caused dissention? What made them hate?

Jore has a wife. Barnus did have one, too. Jore’s son is Jorey, but he don’t have a clue.

 

The farming town of Hemm was an old community. Everyone knew everyone, and everyone knew Jore and Barnus. They had grown up together and even joined the guard in their youth, but around their twentieth year, after Barnus wedded the beautiful Leyla, the friends had a falling out.

 

Time and again, when they met in town, away from the vast fields of wheat, from the sheep farms, they crossed words. Sometimes, they crossed fists, but of late it was young Barnaby, Barnus’s son, who cast wicked glares at Jore.

 

Barnus praised his son’s courage and loyalty and taught him the sword. Still, word in Hemm was that Jore had always been the better fighter, and that was the reason for the friends’ falling out, yet others suspected something far more sinister. Finally, when insults and fisticuffs proved nothing, the two men agreed to duel in the town square at sunset.

 

When winds blew too sweetly, emotions raged on. Two friends had shouted, but none had drawn blood.

Glare of sunlight did bring all men from afar. The time for just words had gone and had come.

With teeth bared and howling, Jore pulled free his blade. Singing and laughing, Barnus stood firm.

 

All had gathered in a sweaty circle under a hot wind to watch the men fight in Hemm’s square. Jore was the first to lunge and strike with rapier, but Barnus easily parried. Back and forth, they went, time and again. One swung. The other dodged or parried. Then, came first blood.

 

Barnus grunted; the pain in his shoulder searing hot. Blood soaked into his tunic, and before long, as Jore pressed the attack, and men cheered and women cried, Barnus was sent to the ground.

 

Young Barnaby—a man as old as his father was when he and Jore had had their split—grew wide-eyed. He and his father met eyes for only a second; Barnus scurried away, got to his feet, parried a blow from behind, spun, and slashed at Jore, who easily disarmed him.

 

When Jore lunged for the death blow, Barnaby ran into the fray and knocked his father to the ground, free from the deadly strike. Quickly, he kicked his father’s sword into his grip and challenged Jore.

 

“Leave it alone, boy,” Jore admonished.

 

“Why? Are you frightened of me?” young Barnaby grinned and slashed.

 

Jore easily parried and stepped back, but Barnaby came again and again.

 

“That’s right, son. Barnaby, show Jore who the best swordsman is!” Barnus praised.

 

Some of those in the crowd cheered for Barnaby. Others scorned Barnus for letting his son fight in his stead. Figuring there was no honor in such a display, Jore demanded Barnus return to the fight, but before anything was settled, Barnaby drew blood.

 

“Let the boy have his fun,” Barnus shouted.

 

“Stop it,” Jore begged. “I don’t want to hurt you. It’s your father whose head I want. Look at him! You call him a man? He cannot fight even his own battle!”

 

Townsfolk did laugh, and townsfolk did jeer. When Jore called for peace, they only did sneer.

Barnaby was as great as his old man was feared. Now, it seemed only Barnus was scorned.

He looked at his son, a man of resolve. Shaking his head, he called it all off.

 

“Alright, Son, you’ve had your fun. Bring back my blade, and I will end it,” Barnus demanded.

 

“No, it is also my honor at stake,” the boy replied through clenched teeth.

 

A smile crept across Jore’s face. Horror washed over Barnus’s. As young Barnaby lunged, Jore dropped his sword, and steel went through his heart.

 

A young man was a killer. An old man was wronged. All those who knew; they said it was love.

Jore had then looked up, he saw Barnaby. The young man, he smiled and reveled in blood.

Barnus knelt down by his old wounded friend, and he asked him oh why? Because I have sinned.

Their life was a lie. They both knew it true. Friendship still mattered. Life was yet cruel.

 

Barnus drew his sword from his friend’s chest. Immediately, he begged the townsfolk to help him carry Jore to the doctor’s home. Barnaby remained confused and pressed his father for an explanation.

 

“I have done that which you could not,” the young man claimed.

 

“Foolish boy, this was my fight, not yours. You’ve no idea what you’ve done.”

 

The young man tried to argue, but his father remained silent on the matter. Once everyone was gathered around the dying Jore, who lied motionless in bed and barely breathing, a woman stumbled in with her young son. The boy was small and frail, but he walked over to Jore and held his hand. The woman gripped her son’s shoulders and cried.

 

“It wasn’t meant to be like this,” Barnus told her.

 

He was shedding tears as well.

 

“Father, you cry for this man, and you scorn me, yet I have upheld our honor,” Barnaby shouted.

 

Years had prevailed, years of deceit. Leyla had two loves, but bore child from one.

One wept regret, and one then swore blood. Leyla professed her child know not Jore.

Yet a man holds his love, his love in his heart. Shame is kept hidden deep down and dark.

A man and his son should parted be not. Jore preached his love. Leyla declined.

‘Twas Barnus who raised another man’s son. Anger and lies. Love, scorn, and hate.

 

During the commotion, as haggard faces revealed disparagement for Barnus, he pulled his son aside. Barnaby was so angry and disillusioned with the entire ordeal, and Barnus so morose, that he felt the imperative need to explain that twenty years prior, his mother had lain with another man. It had been kept a secret from most, but there were some who knew; Jore was Barnaby’s father, and he, himself, had never been able to sire a child.

 

Tears streamed from the young man’s eyes. Everything became so clear. He never truly understood the animosity between Jore and his father; he knew only of their hostility, and since day in and day out Barnus had upheld those feelings, Barnaby thought fighting Jore, the man who turned out to be his real father, a matter of course. Anger, sorrow, hate, love, regret, all the emotions a man harbors washed over his soul.

 

“You knew,” Barnaby suddenly said. “You knew, and you let me fight him? You taught me to hate him, and you have made me a fool, father.”

 

“I have, and I, too, am a fool, but when your mother did pass, I had to keep you blind, for my love of you is pure,” Barnus admitted.

 

Heartbroken, Barnaby turned to back to the room filled with grieving people. The young boy who had held Jore’s hand was staring; his younger brother, a boy who knew nothing of deceit.

 

“You kilt’ my paw’. When I’m big an’ grown, I’m gone kill you, Barnaby.”

 

“Hush up, Jorey,” his mother cried. “You don’t know what you’re sayin’.”

 

Betrayal and heartbreak, secrets and lies; fleeing his home, Barnaby did not cry.

Brave Jore had passed on, yet his spirit remained. Brave Jorey, he searched for a virtuous campaign.

Hemm was plagued by fear, sorrow, lies. Twenty years passed. No truth had prevailed.

People are frightened of veracity. It’s easy to scorn, weep, and deceive.

No one told Jorey: relinquish your hate. The feelings he harbored were an escape.

One day in a field in a town with no name. An old man was killed by love and by hate.

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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!