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.


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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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.

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.


Author Etiquette: Be Careful What You Say

by Jennifer 21. July 2015 08:44

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.

The past year has been difficult for a lot of authors. We’ve witnessed several situations where writers have found themselves cornered by either what they’ve said, what they’ve participated in (willingly or not), and what they’ve done. Not all of it has been intentional and some of it has been carefully orchestrated to put the author in a bad light. But friends have been put in the spotlight and it hasn’t always been comfortable.

Some authors are very open with their opinions and post them regularly on social media and their blogs. They feel comfortable with their views and want to share them. Other authors purposely pose discussion topics on their feeds to encourage discussion especially with current hot topics. These authors understand that these discussions can cause backlash and are prepared to deal with it. Not all authors are.

Even though authors use words, what we put on a page on the first round isn’t always what we want to say. Most authors write several drafts of a story before sending it out for publication. By then we’ve carefully picked words and phrases selected to clarify our meaning. However, posting on the internet, especially social media can leave the author open to uncomfortable, embarrassing and sometimes damaging discussions and arguments simply because they posted a comment that wasn’t clear or touched on a hot topic and may not have thought out what they want to say.

When an author shoots from the hip and makes a quick comment, they may not always be as clear as they would like to be. This can lead to misunderstandings as to the intent of the post. Compound that with social media—where a discussion could be broken up by several posts and conversations—things can get taken out of context or completely misinterpreted.

This is why every author should think carefully about what they say and how they say it especially when dealing with touchy subjects, prickly people and delicate situations.

Usually you are safe posting about neutral things such as pets and kids and normal daily activities. But other subjects that have the potential to cause trouble such a personal opinions must be handled more carefully. Even choosing to participate in a discussion that someone else has started can be a point of potential trouble. A seemingly innocent question could be a baited trap, to either test out the social or political position of the writer or to lead into an argument. It’s a common ploy especially in the age of internet trolls. And you never know who’s watching.

Some authors choose to lay low and not participate in many of the volatile discussions. It can be safer that way, especially if the author does not feel comfortable engaging in arguments. But sometimes you do have to respond. If you feel you have a position where you need to make a comment do it carefully. Write out your response before hand. Craft it to say exactly what you mean. Use clear and concise words. Keep it short. Then set it aside.

Most authors will admit that they’ve wanted to join into an argument or discussion, wrote out a post then waited for a few hours or days before deciding whether to post or to delete it.  Sometimes the discussion dies down on its own and no other action is needed. Othertimes the post—with a few revisions—is necessary to either keep the position fresh in people’s minds or make your position on the subject clear.

But even if you are careful, sometimes either you slip up and say the wrong thing or someone misinterprets what you wrote. What do you do?

First of all, own up to a mistake. If you owe someone an apology, do so as quickly as possible and preferably in private where you can discuss the situation. If you’ve posted the wrong information, make the effort of correcting it. Post an edit comment to the post where you apologize and try to make corrections. Don’t just edit the post so that the incorrect information disappears. This can lead to a lot of confusion as people try to find out what triggered the argument in the first place.

Second, don’t engage with trolls. There are people out there who simply want to start an argument and keep it going. There are several tactics that they use to do this. Learn to identify them and either ignore the argument or learn to evade the discussion.

When fronted by a trollish question or behavior, the best advice is avoidance. By not engaging in arguments and not answering baited questions you aren’t putting yourself into a position where your words can be twisted against you. If necessary you can block the posts so that you no longer have to see them.

Third, learn when to disengage. At times you will need to step back from the discussion. With certain topics, things can get heated very quickly. If you feel overwhelmed, back away. Let things resolve itself. If you need to engage again later, make sure to read through all posts so you can follow the entire discussion. If the discussion has concluded, don’t revive it unless you are prepared to handle a new influx of arguments.

Lastly, try to promote discussion. Hot topics can get heated very quickly and sometimes you will get caught in the middle between two sides. If you can, direct the argument into a discussion so that both sides can lay out the issues.  Don’t expect a resolution but hope for understanding.

We hope that none of you are put in the hot seat in an argument on the internet, but realize that it’s not always avoidable. We hope these tips help you when you are posting on the internet. Always remember that what is posted on the internet can be seen by thousands in just a few minutes. Be aware of what discussions you are participating in. Choose your words carefully.


Author Etiquette: How to Deal with Jealousy

by Jennifer 17. June 2015 08:35

Welcome again to another edition of Author Etiquette. Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on 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.

Being an author isn’t easy. While ideas might be plentiful, not every idea makes a story that is worth writing and and that’s just the beginning of our troubles. Even with hard work, taking workshops, and listening to the advice of editors and beta readers sometimes it seems as though you just aren’t making progress. Your stories are returned with that dreaded “R” in the response letter.

While other writers are our friends, they are also our competition. Most of the time there’s a sense of camaraderie as other writers cheer on successes but sometimes things turn sour.  That story that you helped author Bob edit six months ago was accepted to a market you’ve been trying to get into for years. Jane got the slush reading position at a prestigious magazine you never heard back from. Marty is now editing an anthology for Publisher Xa publication you’ve not heard of before.

It’s understandable to start feeling queasy in the pit of your stomach every time your author friend announces another success. That uneasy feeling is often jealousy and it’s an emotion that can not only steal the fun out of your writing but ruin your friendships as well.

That little queasy feeling can lead to various situations that leave friends and family wondering what is going on. Jealous people often snap out at others who are experiencing success. Other people experience withdrawal from social norms until they can get their emotions back under control. Both of these actions are normal but it doesn’t make things comfortable for anyone.

No one should ever feel guilty about feeling jealous. Jealousy is a completely normal emotion that everyone has faced especially while growing up. Who hasn’t been jealous of a classmate’s new shoes or a new car?  Everyone can identify with that feeling even if they haven’t had a full on jealousy surge in a while. The problem is, since most of us don’t experience it day-to-day, it’s a difficult emotion to get a hold of once it’s loose.

For many writers, jealousy is a byproduct of worry. There’s a pushboth by the author and by our peers and the industryto be successful. But when you look at the writing world, there’s no real definition of success. For some, it’s a mega book deal with a six figure advance. For others, it’s the latest short story finding a home. When we compare our successes (or lack of) to another author we often find we fall short of an imaginary line that’s supposed to mean we are a bonafide author. It can lead to a feeling of being an imposter or that other authors aren’t deserving of their successes.

And here’s where people often begin to act out.

I don’t know an author who hasn’t worked (finishing a novel or short story is WORK) for the success they have received. We might not agree with what they write about but, that author sat down, put words on a page and submitted it to someone and often kept submitting until they got an acceptance. They deserve kudos for it. You don’t have the right to take that away from them even if that little green goblin in your belly is telling you otherwise.

What you do have is the right to examine why and how they got that break or book deal or what ever successful venture that you have been trying to get for years. Take a look at why they were accepted. Did they write 50 drafts before that story was accepted?  Did they approach a new market and get their foot in the door? Have they put in time, effort and sometimes money into establishing themselves as a professional? Did they know the editor well enough to skip the slush pile?

Now the next question is: Did YOU?

If you’ve answered no to these questions then that’s possibly part of your jealousy problem. Don’t worry, keep writing, editing and submitting and you’ll get there.

If you answered yes, your answer is still the same.

Your time is coming.

Don’t give up.

And when you do feel that little jealous urge to snap at someone, step back. Observe what’s really going on, why you feel that way and come back later.


~The Shadow Minion


Author Etiquette: How to Promote Yourself May 2015

by Jennifer 19. May 2015 10:21

Welcome again to another edition of Author Etiquette. Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on 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.


“Hello, thanks for following/friending/liking me. Please purchase my newest novel available at (website).”


“Great post. Like by (author/artist) at website (website). See my new stories!”


“Dear Author,

If you liked (Insert popular novel) you’ll enjoy my newest book (title).




I get messages like this at least once a week, mainly from authors and artists who don’t understand the basics of promotion. It’s annoying for more than one reason and I generally delete the message or post and block the offender. But, sometimes, I take pity on a newer author and try to at least explain why this is spam and annoys everyone who receives such messages.


Promotion is the act of bringing interest to a product, service or individual. It is often used in a marketing plan to increase demand. Whether you promote yourself or have others promote you, it’s important to understand a few basic rules.

Be yourself

When you look at (insert famous author) facebook page or twitter stream it won’t be filled with pleas to buy the next book--unless it’s a release week. Instead, most pages are filled with posts that make that author a person. Common posts could include photos of friends and family, recipies, posts on pets and other conversations about the things that matter to the author.


What attracts people to your books may not be the story you tell but the person that others see. Being yourself will attract those who read what you like to write. It’s okay to talk about your work, just make sure that you talk about other things too.  Writers talk about needing more rounded characters; make sure you have a well rounded author as well.

It’s not supposed to be easy

Promotions, especially online through social media, blog posts and email can seem like a quick and easy way to contact a lot of people. It can be if you have permission to contact them via a newsletter, long standing friendship, or in a group that allows promotional posts. But, if you don’t have permission, don’t know the person or are in a group that doesn’t allow promotions, then there’s a good chance your posts could be deleted or you could be blocked.


Building your promotional platform will take time. By being yourself, you build friendships and those friendships are key to promotion. As anyone knows, those friendships take time to build. Time and effort is needed. And yes it is work.

It’s not always about you

One of the biggest mistake some authors make is to focus solely on their own work. But there are many other stories out that that probably appeal to you. So why not help promote them too?


Much of the promotions for small press and newer writers is accomplished by volunteers or people who have enjoyed their work. It’s a very much a “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” situation. Most of the time, if you help promote a story, the favor will be returned later.

Quality not quantity

All authors understand the excitement of a new story or book being out. It’s easy to get caught up wanting to tell everyone about your new publication, but not everyone wants to hear it 24/7.

You are more likely to get click throughs from a few, very well thought out and worded post than the same post every half hour. Sure you might be reaching more people, but the constant promotion is annoying, not intriguing.  Craft your promotional posts carefully. Tease out a few details, encourage them to read or even purchase, but don’t spam your fan base.

When you are starting out in any sort of creative venture it’s very important to get your name and your work out there and it’s easy to justify shortcuts. But when it comes to promoting, the best option isn’t to post the same thing over and over and message everyone on your friend, follower or email list. You won’t make any headway and in many instances will find yourself blocked from other interactions. Be yourself and help other authors out--most of the time they will happily exchange the favor. Most of all be polite and friendly--it will take you further than you think.


Thank you for reading and we hope this post helps you understand a little more about promotions.
~The Shadow Minion

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Author Etiquette: Death Threats are NOT OKAY

by Jennifer 22. April 2015 09:36

Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on Author Etiquette 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.


And ugly it has gotten in the past month. We won’t go into details and just assume you were all online and at least heard some about it. A lot of people were angry for one reason or another. Some places had some very good discussions about the subject in question. Other places, not so much.


As I’ve said before, writers are often very passionate people. We make our living by tapping into emotions and scenes and stories and try to allow other people into the worlds we create. We have high expectations of our work and sometimes feel very vulnerable when it goes out into the wild. And so when the unexpected happens, it’s easy to let our passion for not only our work but the work of our friends and family, get out of hand.


Most of the comments I read about the situation were from shocked authors and fans. They expressed hurt and confusion that later led to anger. All of these are very understandable emotions. I suspect that our characters would feel the same way in the same situation.


But some people went too far. There were threats made to some of the people involved. This folks is NEVER, EVER okay.


The real world isn’t like our books. In fiction, people can threaten others with harm and the only people who pay consequences are the very fictional characters. But the real world isn’t fiction. Threats can’t simply be blown off by those who receive them.  There can be serious consequences to both sides.


Fear isn’t an easy emotion to deal with and a constant fear can lead to some serious health and mental issues. Post traumatic stress can cause later complications for those who have been threatened in person and even online. In some cases people have left their homes, moved to different cities and tried to start another life. Some people can leave it all behind, but in some cases, it takes years to get over the damage.

While some people  think that online threats are some sort of game, nothing could be further from the truth. All threats should be taken seriously no matter what the context. A report to the police should be filed, even if it is anonymous. This way, if things escalate there’s a record. And as laws against these sorts of things develop and improve, arrests could be possible even across state lines.

Neither side wins in situations like these.  Anger is a very real and powerful emotion. It can be difficult to control, but threatening others doesn’t accomplish what you want it to. In some cases, it just makes things worse.

Remember, everyone has opinions and is entitled to those thoughts. You don’t have to agree. Think of better ways of handling the situation. Work towards a solution, not more problems.

~The Shadow Minion


Author Etiquette: Grace

by Jennifer 24. March 2015 10:01

Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on Author Etiquette last month and it was 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.


Last month we spoke about Patience. It’s a very important skill to learn. But there are other elements of being an author that are important to remember.


Because very little in publishing moves quickly, it’s easy to lose patience and become frustrated. Other authors--whom you think are less deserving than you--might get chances on projects you’d love to be part of. At times we feel overlooked and undervalued not only in our own lives but in the writing world as well.


So when an opportunity arrives where we feel we can contribute, it’s very easy to jump in with our opinions. But this isn’t always the best option.


Authors are passionate people who know how to use words, but when it comes to being emotionally involved that skill seems to disappear. Many authors have jumped into a matter loudly proclaiming an opinion only to be embarrassed and frustrated that their side wasn’t taken seriously. Other times an author or publisher has the best intention but doesn’t take the time to carefully craft the correct words. This can often lead to misinterpreted intentions, phrases taken out of context and things spiraling quickly out of control.


It’s okay to be passionate about something.Everyone has things they are passionate about. There’s a lot in the world that needs passionate people so that changes can happen.  However, there are always going to be others who will not support change because of personal views, experience or stubbornness. Often they are just as passionate at resisting change as those trying to make the change.


For instance:


Writer A passionately believes that there are not enough dragon stories being published. He’s an avid reader and has seen the decline in dragon stories over the years. He believes that all publications should change their submission guidelines and state that a dragon must somehow be included in the story. Bob then begins a campaign on his blog and other social media outlets for this cause.


Editor M believes differently. She’s tired of dragon stories--they were the rage three years ago--and sees that purple elephant stories are making a strong showing in her submission queue. She doesn’t pay much attention to Writer A’s campaign at first until Writer A mentions that Editor M has not changed the guidelines for her publication.


Thinking that Writer A’s proposed policy change is ridiculous, she responds publically. Before long there’s an online battle between two factions. There are hurt feelings on both sides that leads to more and more anger and very little discussion about the real problem.


It can be difficult to deal with passionate people but sometimes a little grace can help. From the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, Grace is described as:

the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful


In a situation with passionate people it’s often a good idea to first find out why they are so passionate about that idea. While it might seem silly to you, perhaps they do have a very good underlying reason for their thoughts. You don’t have to agree but allowing the other side to state their point might make it easier for you to argue yours. If you acknowledge that the opposing side has a point, it might leave them open to think about yours. In discussion, think things out slowly and clearly. Attacking the person (verbally or otherwise) or the idea itself is never a good idea and can often make the situation worse. State your side of the idea and why you feel that way and point to concrete evidence that supports your side. And it really is okay to step back and say “Hey, I’m going to collect my thoughts on this. I’ll be back with you in a little bit.”


Many times no one is going to change their minds. We are human, we want to be “right” and it’s very difficult for many people to change their minds especially if they are emotionally close to a subject. But by being respectful and considerate, you might just be able to walk away from an argument without virtual bloodshed.


If you’d like to see an example of Grace in action, look here. I can’t think of a better way to handle such a situation.

~The Shadow Minion


My 1 Year Minion Anniversary

by Jennifer 4. March 2015 21:12

Sometimes there are moments you can  point to in your career or life that definitely changes the path you wander on. I’ve been working on the back end of some small press organizations doing slush work, some promotions and beta reading. At the end of 2013 had decided to really push my writing and get submissions out and work hard on my short stories. But then I was approached by Jennifer to work as her personal assistant and help promote Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Being a minion wasn’t anything new to me. I’ve been behind the lines in publishing for a little while, but this was a bit different than what I had had been doing. I’d be responsible for roundups, blog posts and updating various platforms. I’d be helping authors promote their work and answering questions to problems. I’d have a much more visible role in publishing.

I jumped at the chance and I’m so very glad I did.

Publishing--no matter if it’s a large or small company--takes a lot of personnel to get everything done. It is possible for one person to start a publication and hold down the fort without assistance but at some point, he/she’s going to have to have help. As the slush pile grows, the editing challenges get harder and the distribution becomes more diverse, having people designated to do certain job takes a lot of stress off of the owner/publisher. Without help burn out is not only a possibility but a certainty.

Many independent publishers rely a lot on volunteers and this is a great place for newer writers to learn a lot about the publishing industry. There’s always an open call for slush readers somewhere and most people can find a publication to read for in a short amount of time. Slush reading really does help a writer learn to identify what works in a story and what doesn’t. It’s often one of the factors that begins the change of an okay writer to a good writer.

But volunteers also learn other things too. Sometimes they get to work with authors by editing stories or checking for errors before publication. They also might get to help out with promotions by sharing posts or signal boosting.

Working for AIP and Jennifer has allowed me to do this and much more. I’ve helped organize a Q&A for blogs for the authors of a box set. After finding a list of about 500 reviewers I’ve finally pared it down to those who are still active, and found and added several who weren’t on it. I’ve written press releases, contacted reviewers and set up interviews along with checking stories for errors prior to publication and much more.

And in the next year I’m sure there will be more minion challenges. I’m learning all I can, not only because I think it’s important for authors to at least have an idea of how publishing works but perhaps one day I’ll start a publishing imprint of my own (not in the near future I assure you!) There is still so much more to learn and I’m happy to figure out the puzzles that are handed my way.

So if you ever get a chance to become a minion--volunteer or paid position--jump at it. You are going to learn a lot about publishing and writing. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it.

The Shadow Minion

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Author Etiquette: Patience

by Jennifer 17. February 2015 10:00

Apocalypse Ink Production is starting a new feature on our blog this month on Author Etiquette. 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.


Patience is always a great quality to have especially if you are a writer. If you don’t already know, very few things in publishing move quickly. While it might not take long to write some short stories, once you submit, its a waiting game. You have to wait for deadlines then responses from editors. Sometimes this takes a while. It’s easy to lose patience when you are eager to hear a response.


For example:

Writer X sends off a short story to Publisher 1. Writer X sends the story at the beginning of the reading period so he knows he’s going to have to wait. Publisher 1’s first readers work through the slush pile sending up stories that they think are publishable.

As the deadline approaches Writer X begins to get excited as he should hear back first since he  submitted early in the reading period. The deadline passes and so does the projected response date. Writer X has heard nothing.

Writer X emails Pubisher 1 and demands an answer on the submission but before Publisher 1 can respond, Writer X pulls the story.

This is an unfortunate situation for both the writer and the publisher. It isn’t exactly a common occurrence but it happens more often than you think.


While many publications run like a well oiled machine, sometimes there’s a glitch. Editors get sick or have real life issues or they receive more submissions than expected. Technical difficulties can cause a loss of submissions. Weather related issues can cause loss of electricity or the ability to access the internet. These problems and many more can cause a publication to get behind. Publishers often update the blogs or submission pages if such things happen but sometimes authors are left wondering what happened to their stories.


In cases like these, a query letter is the best response. A query letter is a polite request by an author on the status of a story. It often contains the title of the story, the date sent and a brief statement by the author. This is often sent after the response time has passed. Most publications post response times on their submissions page but it’s not always accurate. Sometimes an author must resort to Duotrope or the Submission Grinder for more details on response times.


The query letter notifies the publisher that the author would like a quick update on the status of the story. Publishers usually respond to queries quickly with a brief message on where the story is in the publication queue but sometimes no response is ever received. While queries are often more for the writer they can notify the publisher of problems. At times the query alerts the publisher that either the story has gotten lost, was never received or other problems. In these last cases, publishers usually try to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.


In the above situation, Writer X was not patient enough to allow the publisher time to respond. He did not wait to find out if his story was being held for consideration by the publisher--possibly for a special project or other edition. The editor could have had his hand hovering over the send button on a response when Writer X pulled the submission. We don’t know. Instead Writer X demanded a response and pulled the story before anyone had time to respond.


It’s difficult to wait, I’m very well aware of the fact. Some publications have an extremely long wait period and many go over the expected response time. But by being patient, you cultivate the air of being open to the publisher’s requests. It makes the editor more secure in their decision to take a chance on a story that could need some major edits. It improves your chance of your story being picked.


So next time you look at your spreadsheet or submission tracker and find a story that’s been held overly long, take the time to write a polite query letter to the publication. They will respond as soon as they are able. And in the mean time, don’t fret, write another story.