Author Etiquette: Hold that Novel!

by Jennifer 1. December 2015 12:36

I’ve enjoyed watching many of my writer friends post updates on their NaNo progress this month. It’s exciting to know that new novels are being written and maybe in the future I’ll be able to read them. However, I don’t want to read them too soon.

 

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) or NaNo for short. It’s 30 days of word madness as writers keep a grueling pace of about 1,700 to 1,500 words a day to produce a 50,000 word novel. There is a website dedicated to this event and in some cities write ins and other social events to encourage writers to do what they do best. (And there’s even a kid’s version of the challenge, too!)

 

Thousands of people a year all over the world sign up for this event. Some authors blow the word count out of the water while others don’t quite make the proposed count. Whether you make it or not, there’s lots of encouragement, great advice from top authors and lots of fun.

 

But as the month winds down, and many authors proclaim they’ve won this year, seasoned authors, agents and book publishers know the hardest part is about to begin.

 

While NaNo encourages writers to BINFOK (Butt In Chair Fingers On Keyboard) and in most cases forget about everything you’ve learned about writing a proper story. The focus of NaNo isn’t to write an immediately publishable story, instead it’s intention is to get a draft or at least most of one on the page.

 

Some authors forget that.

 

Riding on the rush of completing 50,000 words in only 30 days, some authors do a quick editing pass on the novel and then begin to shop the story around. While some editors don’t take submissions during the holidays many others are open and I suspect there’s always an influx of submissions around December. Most of which are given a rejection.

 

Very few authors write cleanly on a first draft, especially on a novel. Even with a detailed outline and all of the research done beforehand, there are often glaring errors in a brand new novel. Characters might be flat. The plot line might be weak. Sometimes you have an unexpected character that demands a spotlight. These and many other things create a mess that has to be straightened out before even beta readers should read the story.

 

The biggest issue with NaNo is in order to get that 50,000 word story finished, most authors need to turn off the Inner Editor. An Inner Editor is that little voice that insists that we correct all of the imperfections that happen in a first draft. Many times it’s difficult to turn that voice off and some writers spend unnecessary time going over and over a single chapter. But NaNo encourages you put a temporary gag on that voice and not listen to it for a couple of weeks. The results can be interesting to say the least.

 

Sending in manuscripts that have been hurried through the editing process doesn’t make you look professional. It is possible to receive a revise and resubmit but not likely unless you’ve given your NaNo project a good editing.

 

So to increase your chances of getting your NaNo project published, here’s a few steps to increase your chances.

 

Set it aside

First, set the novel aside for at least a few weeks. This allows you to distance yourself from the rush of a completed project. During this set aside time, it is important for you to write something elsea short story, an outline, the chapter of a different novelto help cleanse your mind of your NaNo novel. You will need that distance.

 

Read it through

Before you dive into editing, read your novel. This gives you a “whole picture” view of the story. It’s easier to see where your plot arc begins to fail or where you accidentally rename your main character. Make notes of things you notice so you know what to work on during the editing phase.

 

Edit, edit, and then edit again

Using your notes on the read through, begin to revise your story. Don’t worry if you scrap out chapters or completely rewrite most of the book. That’s actually normal. First drafts are where you put all the ideas you want onto the page. Your editing drafts are where those ideas all come together. Once you are done with a first pass, go back and check for spelling errors, misused words, and passive voice. Then go over it again, tightening up the prose.

 

Beta time

Through your eyes, every story is the best ever, but that’s because your mind plays tricks on you. All of those great ideas you thought you put on the page might be glossed over or miscommunicated through word choices. To have a better idea of how other readers will respond to your story, have some people (writers and readers) who are willing to read through your book and make suggestions. You might find that there’s confusion about your character’s past or that the ending seems weak. You might even find some unintended theme in your work that your beta readers pick up on.

Oh and while your story is being read by beta readers, start working on another story or even your synopsis. That way you’ll have a head start on things later.

 

Revise again

Yep that’s right. You get to revise that story again. Taking suggestions from your beta readers, you might have to do more revisions. Depending on the issues they pick up, you might need more work on some sub-plots or characterizations that need attention. But you don’t have to change everything even if a beta reader makes a suggestion. Sometimes a suggestion will go against the direction you want the story to take.

 

One last pass

Before you send your novel off, take the time to give it one last pass. You know, just incase your file didn’t save the changes you made or you make a glaring error on page one. Also make sure your manuscript is formatted properly. It’s the biggest reason for most rejections.

 

Once you have given your novel several editing passes, had it read by a select group and edited again, your novel is ready for submission. That is if you have the summary, synopsis and agent and publisher wish list ready.

 

Good luck!

~The Shadow Minion

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The Flotsam Trilogy Omnibus is Released!

by Jennifer 18. November 2015 14:06

Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes&Noble
Note: The hardback signed limited edition of this book is only available on the AIP website.


My name’s Keith Murphy. Danny Roark and I hunt down the dark things that prey on humans like you. Or we did, until what seemed like a routine assassination job went bad. Really bad. Now the end of the world is coming at us like a possessed freight train.

Running doesn’t bother me. It’s a fine survival trait. What bothers me is the 9mm bullet I swallowed—with the soul of my last victim trapped inside it. That botched job I mentioned. He was leader of the Raven Cult: bloodthirsty fools who won’t let a little thing like death cramp their style. When Roark goes down, I’m left to figure out what the cult’s survivors are planning.

It’s a puzzle I’ve got to figure out before the Gloom gets too strong and the real monsters come through—ones my rag­tag, mostly demonic, army can’t handle. All this magic and end of the world stuff was Roark’s department, not mine. I’ll have to figure it out as I go. The end of the world’s still coming, but it’s got to go through me first.

The Flotsam Trilogy contains the novellas Exile, Frost, and Crusade as well as two more stories from the gold coast, “Local Heroes” and “Tithes.”

 

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One beautiful limited edition book!

by Jennifer 12. November 2015 11:26

All signed and numbered with bonus cat, Mena... The Flotsam Trilogy omnibus limited edition hardback. This edition will only be available on the AIP website or at conventions. There are 100 copies to be sold, an author copy, and a publisher copy. Trade and ebook copies available all over starting November 18. You can pre-order the ebook right now.

Here's a better picture of the cover with bonus cat, Leeloo.

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THE FLOTSAM Trilogy Cover Reveal

by Jennifer 4. November 2015 10:16

The Flotsam Trilogy omnibus by Peter M. Ball will be released on November 18, 2015.

“Excellent noir yarn with well interwoven demonic and supernatural aspects…”
–Alan Baxter, author of Alex Caine series

My name’s Keith Murphy. Danny Roark and I hunt down the dark things that prey on humans like you. Or we did, until what seemed like a routine assassination job went bad. Really bad. Now the end of the world is coming at us like a possessed freight train.

 Running doesn’t bother me. It’s a fine survival trait. What bothers me is the 9mm bullet I swallowed—with the soul of my last victim trapped inside it. That botched job I mentioned. He was leader of the Raven Cult: bloodthirsty fools who won’t let a little thing like death cramp their style. When Roark goes down, I’m left to figure out what the cult’s survivors are planning.

 It’s a puzzle I’ve got to figure out before the Gloom gets too strong and the real monsters come through—ones my rag­tag, mostly demonic, army can’t handle. All this magic and end of the world stuff was Roark’s department, not mine. I’ll have to figure it out as I go. The end of the world’s still coming, but it’s got to go through me first.

The Flotsam Trilogy contains the novellas Exile, Frost, and Crusade as well as two more stories from the gold coast, “Local Heroes” and “Tithes.”

“Brutal and inventive...”
–David Versace, The Lexifabricographer

Cover art by Mark Ferrari. Isn't it divine?

 

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Author Etiquette: Do You Need an Author Platform?

by Jennifer 26. October 2015 11:50

Authors are given so much advice it’s easy to see why they get confused and frustrated. How often to write, what toor not towrite, and where and how to publish. Everyone has a different opinion and if you look at different writers and their advice, it can get confusing quickly.


One of the more confusing bits of information that is passed on is the question of whether an author needs a platform or social media presence. Many new authors feel pressured to have a presence in every type of social media. But to fully utilize social media and connect with readers, a writer has to carve out time to not only update statuses but respond to people who ask questions or make comments. When you have a regular job and are in the process of writing or editing, you just don’t always have time for everything. It can be very frustrating.


But do you really need a platform? Well, the answer is yes and no.


First of all, we need to explain what a platform is. An author’s platform is a place where an author and viewer connect. The platform can be a website, blog or other social media site. From the platform, an author can notify people of new releases, progress on stories, and respond to comments and questions. Not only is social media a way to connect with friends and family, it’s a marketing tool. A platform is necessary on the internet to become and remain visible to potential readers. Being visible can lead to sales which is very important in publishing.


Word spreads quickly and a single post has the potential to be seen all over the world. The author’s platform is the centerpiece of the market you create. The question for many authors is how?


With all of the different types of social media, an author’s platform isn’t a one size fits all. One of the most important pieces of an author platform is a central location where people can find out more about you and your work. Most authors create a website or blog for this purpose. Even if you are just starting out, you can set up a free blog to use until you can purchase a domain name and set up a website. Important things to remember to set up are:

  • An About Me page that tells viewers a little about you

  • A way to contact you

  • A bibliography or list of books or stories and where to find them.

 

It’s also a plus if your site tells the viewer a little about your. For example, if you write military fiction, your site might have artwork that features soldiers, weapons or has a military theme. This gives the viewer an immediate indication of what to expect.


Your main platform should be the place where you share big news first. Links to new work, reviews, and where you will be (if you attend conferences--please don’t post your normal itinerary) are great things to post about. But don’t just create updates about writing. Share a video you enjoyed, photos of your vacation, or that recipe you tried that turned out so wrong.


While websites and blogs are great for being a main platform, they are often very static. The information stays up for long periods and unless you update often, posts can get stale. People may forget that your site is on the net unless you remind them.


Other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be used along with your website to connect with readers. Social media sites allow users to follow or friend people that interest them. Friend and follower posts create a stream that users read through. Each platform has a unique style. LinkedIn is more business related. Twitter is very quick. Facebook can be very cozy. Depending on your personal preferences, you may like one or the other more. For beginning writers, a Facebook or Twitter account is enough to start with. But if you already have an account, congratulations you already have a platform to work with!


One of the great things about social media is sites can be linked so that a post on your website or blog will filter through your other accounts. You don’t have to take the time to create a post for each platform. With widgets and plugins or even a social media management program, you can hit everything at once.


The biggest thing to remember about your author platform and social media is to be you. Yes you are excited about your new work and really want to post every hour about it. And for the first day that might be okay, but after that, posting once a day or once a week really is enough. Instead, tell your followers about the silly thing your cat did this morning or that fabulous meal you ate. People are much more interested in being human than being spammed.


Having a platform is an important tool for a writer. A website or blog allows readers to learn a bit  more about you and find your work. Other social media places help bring in traffic and potentially grows your readership. But remember you don’t have to do it all. Use what is comfortable for you and just be yourself.

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Guest Blog: What Scares a Horror Author?

by Jennifer 6. October 2015 14:00

Oh, dear.

I wish I feared the things in my books. Eternal damnation or creatures from beyond the veil. I wish ghosts and aliens made my hair stand on end. Honestly, however, they don’t.

Given my publisher, I wish the apocalypse gave me pause, but no dice. I watched The Day After in grade school, and while I later understood why it was such a big deal, even at the time it seemed kind of silly to worry about it.

Even threats that are all too real – serial killers, drone strikes, and mass shooters – don’t really scare me. I mean, I’d be scared if I knew that one had targeted me. I’d be even more terrified if someone I love was a victim of one.

Nevertheless, as with the end of the world, I learned early on that worrying about unlikely things (and by the numbers, these things are unlikely) does more harm than good. To spend your life preparing for a disaster that never comes is counterproductive, if it gets in the way of enjoying your life in the moment.

I know. Hello, ants. Meet the grasshopper.

No, none of those things worries me.

I won’t share the one thing which terrifies me above all else. To do so would be paradoxical; this may give a clue in and of itself.

Instead, let me speak of L’appel du videThe call of the void. The unlovely language of science and psychology calls it High Place Phenomenon; but the French philosophy is so much clearer and more true.

At its most basic, this is the urge to jump off of a tall bridge, or building. I used to think it only happened to me, that it was the apex of a certain tendency toward self-destructive activities; but I’ve learned that it’s a widespread phenomenon.

That helps, somewhat. It makes things seem more rational.

It doesn’t help when I’m there.

The last time it struck me was here, in Door County, Wisconsin. Adamant that I could overcome it, that this time would be different, that I am a grown man who needs to face his fears, I insisted on climbing to the top.

Once there, Leanne tells me I was simultaneously shaking and paralytic until I had to sit down, where I couldn’t see over the railings. I barely remember that. I just remember looking at the treetops, and picturing them rushing past me. Looking at the rocks and feeling them scrape against my skin as my body rolled down the ravine. I remember that my hands hurt gripping the railings tight on my way back down, wincing as merry children raced past me on their way up.

Per Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, the anxiety of individual freedom and responsibility causes L’appel du vide. The fact that one is free to make any decision, even the most terrifying, triggers immense feelings of dread.

Kierkegaard called this our "dizziness of freedom," the ability to make any choice we want at any time in our lives. That terrible sense of freedom, and the consequences it carries, lies at the heart of my greatest fears.

Read into my writing whatever else you may wish. This one’s now a given.

~Ivan Ewert, author of the Gentlemen Ghouls series.

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Author Etiquette: Dealing with Disappointment

by Jennifer 28. September 2015 12:00

Apocalypse Ink Productions started our segment on Author Etiquette earlier this year and it has been a great success. AIP loves authors, we wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t and we want to do our best to help support authors.

Almost every author I’ve encountered has had a dream of being on the NYT Best Seller’s List and earning a six figure income. It does happen sometimes, but for the majority of writers, it’s a struggle to keep going forward. Most authors have to split their time between a day job that pays bills and the quest of writing the breakout story. Over time dreams begins to fade as the rejection pile grows and many authors begin to wonder if their stories are good enough and even if they should be an author in the first place.

Being an author is possibly one of the most difficult occupations out there. If you ask for advice you will find there’s a thousand ways to write a story and none of them are right and none are wrong; every author follows a different path to success. What works for one won’t work for another. It’s difficult to point at a particular road a new or struggling author should take when they are feeling down.

It’s normal to feel disappointed when you get a rejection. But sometimes it weighs on you. After a while many authors begin to feel as though they are imposters
people who pretend to be in an occupation. It’s a very common form of doubt that plagues many creatives.

So what can you do about it?

Let Other People Know

For many authors, it’s difficult to let other’s know that we are feeling down. Afterall, we get to play in these interesting worlds and let our characters do amazing things—what do we have to be sad about?

Plenty, but we don’t have to hold it in. Confiding in a close friend, family member or even an open post on social media, can let others know that you are struggling. Establishing a support group is essential to help creatives handle the ups and downs of what we do.

Take a Step Back

Sometimes we get so caught up in the process of creating, editing or rewriting, that we forget that there’s a lot more going on in the world. Take a night or weekend off away from your story and even the internet. Go outside for a long walk in the sun or go out with friends for a fun evening. Even a short break such as watching a show with friends or family can help set aside the disappointment and give you a new outlook.

Sometimes you might even have to take a longer break. A short recharge might help for a little while but sometimes an author might need to set the writing aside for a week, a month or even longer, before they feel ready to face submissions and the results. It’s okay to feel you need a longer break. It’s necessary sometimes but don’t forget to come back.

Try Something Else

I know many authors who are creative in other fields as well. Some like to knit and crochet, while others draw or create jewelry. By changing your focus to another outlet, you sometimes get a different perspective on those rejections. You might just let your subconscious work out an issue or figure out what story will be next.

If you aren’t sure you have other creative skills (and yes everyone does they just may not want to let other people see them) then volunteer for some slush or beta reading. Look at your own bookshelf for something you’ve not read yet. Stop worrying about your own writing for a little while.

Talking with a Professional

But sometimes talking with your support group or even taking a break doesn’t relieve the feelings of disappointment. Sometimes those feelings get deeper and darker.

If you, a friend or relative, is dealing with more than simple disappointment, then it may be time to talk to a professional. Depression is a very serious health issue that can be helped by physicians and counselors. Sometimes medication is the answer. For others counseling makes a difference. Getting help is the first step to relieving that dark weight that looms over you.

Disappointment doesn’t have to strangle your creativity. Asking for some support, taking a break, doing something new and sometimes contacting a professional health provider can help you when you are feeling down. A

The bad news is we all suffer from disappointment at some point or another.  The good news is, we’ve all been there before.

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OryCon and SF Authorfest 9

by Jennifer 23. September 2015 10:25

It's official, Apocalypse Ink Productions will be at Portland, Oregon's OryCon 37 (Nov 20-22) in the dealers room. We'll have all our new books, including our signed, limited edition books from Dylan Birtolo and Peter M. Ball. Also, Jennifer Brozek will be on hand to sign her books as well as make an appearance at SFAuthorfest 9 on Nov 22, from 4-5pm at the Powell's Beaverton location.

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The Sheynan Trilogy Omnibus is Released!

by Jennifer 15. September 2015 09:20

Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes&Noble
Note: The hardback signed limited edition of this book is only available on the AIP website.

THE SHEYNAN TRILOGY
This dark urban fantasy adventure by Dylan Birtolo is an omnibus of three novels: The Shadow Chaser, The Bringer of War, and The Torn Soul, and features three new short stories.

The Shadow Chaser:  Darien Yost is a young man haunted by blackouts and vividly realistic dreams. When mysterious strangers start to appear, claiming that he has a power which makes him unique, he finds himself entangled in their world; a world of shape shifters. Soon, he is thrust into the middle of a centuries long war, and must master his ability before either side claims him... as an asset or a casualty.    

The Bringer of War: Months have passed, and the Arm of Gaia and the Shadows still struggle to control Darien’s destiny, attempting to use him to tip the balance of their war. But Darien has embraced his power. He and his allies have gone on the offensive, hunting down those who are trying to enslave him. Meanwhile, another renegade shifter has appeared, trying to pull Darien away from his friends for reasons of her own.  

The Torn Soul: Time is running out for Darien. As new players and new dangers enter the scene, Darien must confront his past, and convince the Arm of Gaia and the Shadows to work together against a new enemy—before his mind is lost to the Sheynan’s curse.


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Author Etiquette - Promoting Without Annoying

by Jennifer 25. August 2015 09:48

Welcome again to another edition of Author Etiquette. Apocalypse Ink Productions started this segment a few months ago and so far it’s been a great success. AIP loves authors. We wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t; but we have seen situations blow up that could have been prevented with just a little bit of patience, communication and common sense.  Whether you are a new author or a pro, it’s sometimes handy to have a small reminder on how to handle a situation before it it gets ugly.

It’s exciting when you receive an acceptance and even more exciting when that short story or novel goes live. In order for those sales numbers to rise, it’s important that as many people as possible are aware that your book is out. It’s very tempting to make several posts about your new work on every social media site and spam your followers, but that’s not a good idea. Many people get annoyed if you are continuously promoting your new work without a break.

How do you balance the excitement but not annoy people?

There are several things you can do to help you promote your novels, short stories or other projects. Most are simple but they do take a bit of effort and planning. Some of the most popular are blog hops, book review sites and giveaways. These events are fun and often draw in more readers than you could on your own.

Blog hops and tours
Many writers have blogs of their own and are always searching for content. Most are amiable to allowing other writers to post about themes, writing styles and new works. By asking a group of authors to allow you to post on their blogs you can schedule several in a row and create your own book tour without leaving home. This is often referred to as a blot tour or blog hop. In many cases, several authors agree to post on each other’s sites. New readers are drawn in and many times you can pick up more followers and new fans. This works best when you pick authors who write within the same genre or subgenre as you do but sometimes crossing genre boundaries does work well too.

Book Reviews
Getting your book on a review site takes more work. Review sites often have large, dedicated audiences. Some readers follow reviewers religiously and consider reviews when picking up new books. It’s a great way to connect with new readers but it has drawbacks. While many reviewers are happy to have your book, they are often overwhelmed with the amount of requests for reviews. If you are lucky one out of twenty will get to your book at some point. In some cases, it could be months before you get a review.  On the other hand, even if they can’t write a review, review sites often post author reviews and guest posts so it is worth it to contact them.

Giveaways
Everyone likes winning, that’s why giveaways are very popular events. Planning a giveaway event can be as simple as having people comment on a post or as complicated as following a blog hop to gather clues for an entry. Apps such as Rafflecopter can make your life easier by collecting names and email addresses. Or you could go with simple and pull a name out of a hat. No matter what type of event you plan, make it fun and exciting. For best results, combine a blog hop or a post on a review site for a giveaway. And if possible, have several smaller prizes and one big prize.

There are other ways of promoting your work such as cross promotions with other projects, establishing a team to assist you or even hiring someone to handle promotion. All of these take time and coordination but they are successful ways of reaching more readers. No matter what direction you take, your goal is to reach people not annoy them.

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