The Plasmatic Writer

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The Importance of Naming A Character

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Harry Potter, Christian Grey, Katniss Everdeen, Holden Caufield. We know them well as they are some of literatures most popular characters. Their names resonate with us the minute we hear them. We know immediate what book they are in and even if we haven’t read a single book their in we likely know a little bit of who they are. Why is this? Well aside from the obvious of some names being the associated with the title of the book, names are everything when it comes to characters. In order for a novel to stand out it needs a strong main character who will take on a challenge or adventure or connect and seem real to a reader. One way this can be done is by giving that character a name, a name that will not only represent what that character stands for but will stand out among the rest. How important is it to give your character a fitting name? It’s necessary and essential to your stories very existence. Sure you can name your characters John Smith, Emily Jones or James King but your not giving them identity, your not giving them a name that will stand out among the top names listed in the beginning. A character name needs to stand out, when you read it you immediately know who they are or when you see their name it gives you a sense of intrigue and makes you want to read and know more about them. How important is the naming of a character? More important then you would think.

Harry Potter. If you really think about it the name seems rather generic if you take out the fame that now comes with it. Before Harry potter was written the name could have easily gone unnoticed as seen as a common one. However now anytime we see the name Harry Potter we immediately associate it with the book series of a boy wizard. So while this shows that it is possible to take a generic name and turn it into a popular one it’s still better to give your character a unique name that stands out above the rest so people can easily know what they are from. The other names listed above are all unique and catch your eye. While Harry Potter and Sebastian Gray are names a real person could have how many people have you met that have the names of Katniss Everdeen or Holden Caufield? Probably none and if you have they are likely named after the characters. Many writers would not think to give any deep thought when it comes to naming a character. They think that the setting, plot and character details are important and a name is just a name. Yes perhaps that’s true but you need to give that setting, plot and character detail substance and that starts with what you think is the easiest thing of all..naming your character. A writer can pick a common name and still make that character stand out but if a writer really wants to get people to read their book or even just be original they need to think deep about what name they want to represent their book and their character.


A little bit of research is necessary in the naming of a character as well. If you book is set in China and your character is from there then naturally your going to give your character a Chinese name. If your character is from another country then you want to give them a name that originates from that country. If you really want to get into detailing and representing what your character is about you could even look up the meaning of a name and give the character that name so they live by the very name they were given. Origin, originality and a strong powerful visual of the name can really make your character seem very real. How can you come up with a great sounding name for your character? Look up names alphabetically, look up baby names, look up names from a certain country, ask people, watch movies. You can get names from so many sources its about choosing the right one that may be a difficult task but when you find the right one you’ll know. So remember the next time you need to decide and come up with a name for a character to sit down and give it some thought. Don’t use John Smith, Joe Schmo or Jane Doe, be original, be unique and give your character a name that not only represents your book but you can be proud to say you came up with your made your own.

Are Videos A Good Marketing Tool?

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Videos. We all watch them and we all enjoy them. Whether it’s for entertainment value or to gain information and knowledge. Many make videos in order to demonstrate a feat or to teach others their knowledge on a topic. For authors this is no different but are videos a good marketing tool for them? I’ve come across several articles and heard from many people that as an author you should be making videos. Whether it’s a small video or a long one you should be getting out there and recording video of yourself or something in order to gain a following and provide entertainment and info for people to let them become interested in you and your work. You know those articles and people I mentioned? Yes they’re in the book marketing industry meaning they mainly want to help and they write non-fiction. So it’s easy for them to make videos as they have plenty to provide but if you’re a fiction author is making a series of videos a good tool? Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen lists of things fiction authors can do to provide valuable content to their videos in order to gain followers and reach their audience but the big question here is, is it a practical tool for a fiction author to do?


Video marketing is no doubt huge right now. Some of us have the attention span of fish and it’s why they say we need to get in on the video trend now. We need to be able to entertain or educate when doing videos or otherwise we risk the viewer tuning out and looking into something else. A video shows people that you are for one real and seeing you let’s them know whose behind the content and why they should care. A video in the sense of marketing for an author is to let people know you value and care about what you do and you wish to get your point across and what better way then to showcase yourself or your words or a slideshow? I personally feel as though it’s easier for non-fiction authors to provide solid video content because they are likely being shown talking about and teaching information that people can use and apply to help them. Fiction authors on the other hand have to be more creative and really think about what they want to put in their videos. As you may be able to tell from this I don’t do video outside of book trailers. Should I? I want to know what I could record video doing and I want to know if it would be worth it. Seeing as it’s the thing to do right now I say it’s worth taking a shot but from an overall standpoint I ask whether it’s truly worth doing and if it’s for everyone.


So are videos a good marketing tool? While I am asking I am leaning toward yes but also that they aren’t for everyone. I say they should be made by both non-fiction and fiction writers but again they aren’t for everyone but should at least be tested to see if they work for that individual. A video should be like a book in the sense of what I stated earlier, it needs to either entertain or educate or both. Remember Vine? Vine lives on in memory and in irony in the sense that you took quick videos and now it’s as gone as quick as it’s purpose. Vine may have been small quick videos but the idea behind it was simple, if you can get people’s attention in a short amount of time then your doing something right. Is video right for you? I have been asking myself this for some time and the more I hear I should be doing it the more I feel I should at least give it a shot. The plan of action should be to at least try it if you aren’t doing it already and have a goal and idea in mind before hand. Is video a good marketing tool? All signs point to yes but I say the verdict is still out as to whether or not it’s a proven asset for everyone.

My Writing Inspirations

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

My Writing Influences/Inspirations

One question I get as a writer is who are your writing influences? Who inspires you? I’m sure you get asked the same thing. The response should come out of you as quick as it was asked because let’s be honest here, we’ve had plenty of time to think of this question. These are people who are the reason to why we write, what got us started on this path and made such an impact on us that we thought, you know what? I want to become a writer and author. So who are my writing inspirations? Well as you know I am both a writer and poet so I have quite a mixed bunch of writers but here are some of my influences and inspirations.

Edgar Allan Poe-

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Whether you’ve read my Macabre Masterpiece books or just read a horror story by me you can clearly see the evidence of Poe. Like most people I read The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and many more of Poe’s work in school the only difference is I kept reading long after I got out of school. I already liked horror and I felt Poe’s words were creepy and morbid yet chilling, true and captivating and it’s this very thing to which has inspired two books and my love for horror. Aside from writing two books of horror poetry I have also written stories with an essence similar to Poe’s and I’ve even paid homage to him in a blog post. In many ways Poe is a great part of my writing life and like many of us who enjoy him I’m sure it will continue on for as long as I write.

Rod Serling-

This one may be a surprise. Rod Serling is mostly known for “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery”. What people may not know is that he wrote many stories to which became episodes for the shows. I absolutely love The Twilight Zone so naturally Rod Serling’s adaptations and writings really resonate with me. While I mainly just watch The Twilight Zone I have read one of his books and found the tales to be just as odd as an episode of TZ. If you’ve read any of my work you tend to get a sense of weird plots, twist endings or things that just aren’t normal. Well this is because of my admiration for Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. The man was ahead of his time and I’m just one of many people he’s influenced but nevertheless I am grateful that someone like him has such a creative mind because it’s helped in the creation of mine. 

William Shakespeare-

Seriously Justin? Yes, seriously. Most people find Shakespeare boring or confusing and I would totally agree with you..but that also didn’t stop me from enjoying his work and being inspired by him. One reason I consider Shakespeare an influence and inspiration is because of the fact that he pretty much created his own language and his simplicity to truly make a drama a drama as well as his way to write a poem. The way he wrote and how he wrote are confusing but the fact that there’s meanings hidden behind his words is what gets me. I like being able to write something and the person has to read it a few times to understand, I like doing that and it’s because of Shakespeare. I find his sonnet’s brilliant and some of his plays tolerable especially Macbeth so yes Shakespeare is an inspiration of mine.

Elmore Leonard-

You may not recognize his name but you’ve probably seen some of his work. Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, The Big Bounce, etc. He also wrote the tv series Justified on FX. I started reading Leonard after I began watching Justified. After I read one of his books I was hooked. I enjoy the way he tells a story whether it’s crime or a western. He really creates a visual of the scene in a book and the characters are likable and that really spoke to me. After reading a few of his works and watching a few movies I was inspired by him. I tend to keep reading more of his books to become more inspired by him.

Robert Frost-

Frost is an inspiration because of the beautiful way to which he wrote poetry. Also I find “The Road Not Taken” to be a great metaphor for life that I find myself using frequently in my own life choices. I haven’t quite read as much Frost but I’ve read enough to be inspired and influenced by him.

Emily Dickinson-

I’m not sure if this is surprising or an of course you are because every poet is somehow inspired by her. I am inspired by Emily Dickinson for the somber way in which she told a poem. Her sadness spoke volumes and sometimes when I’m sad I find myself channeling my inner Emily trying to find the words to express how I feel.

Langston Hughes-

This one probably surprises people. Hughes has a few poems that are quite short but the meaning and feeling behind them are so strong and powerful that one can’t help but feel inspired. I like Hughes for his realness, his ability to capture your attention in such quick simplicity. He is an underrated inspiration of mine.

R.L Stine-

Like most kids during the 90's I grew up reading Goosebump books. I didn’t read much but when I did I collected and read the Goosebumps series. Stine wrote for children and teens so I feel when it comes to dimmed down horror I take my inspirations from him. Also some of his ideas are pretty creative.

Nothing's Ever Free, There's Always A Fee

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Nothing in life is free. You've heard the saying constantly and more and more as we rely on things the more they are no longer free. There are two things in life to know about any product, website or selling point, they are either not free or they are free until they aren't and eventually there will be a price. Obviously I'm being very broad here in the sense of referring to "free" with everything we spend money on but let's narrow it down to the publishing and book industry. Whether it's publishing a book or promoting a book you as a writer have the choice on whether or not you wish to spend money. If you want to publish you're book for free your inclined to do so, if you want to spend a little money or spend a lot because you don't feel like doing any work than you're also inclined to do that. Promoting can in a sense be the same way but leans more toward not being free. You can promote your book for free however you will soon realize that it only goes so far and that if you wih to make big on some of the stuff your doing now for free that....you'll have to spend money. This article will take a deeper look at the promoting and marketing aspect of books and how as the infamous saying goes nothing's ever free.


The first thing to realize is you can be successful using free ways to promote and market it just takes an investment, lots of dedicated time and sticking to what works best for you. However in most cases and if you're like me you wish to promote and market for free but not entirely for free which I've come to realize just isn't going to work. My philosophy is this: Promote for free and spend small and only when you have to. The problem? All the small things I find that will be useful to me aren't free at all. Call me crazy but I'm mostly optimistic about things when it comes to selling books I couldn't be further from it. If you manage where you wish to spend your money then chances are you'll be okay but I feel like the business is getting more and more about money and less about the value and enjoyment of the books themselves. It seems like no matter what promotion you want to use, what website you want to join or what ad you want to use it's either not free or it's way too expensive. I'm a realist, I see things for what they are, I also like guarantees and making my money back. Does that make me a bad person? No it just means I like to know that what I invest in has promise, is going to work, and I not only get my money's worth but then some. Of course not everything can be guaranteed but again it just seems like in this business you really have to know where your ducks are nevermind have them all in a row.


What is the truth? You're going to spend some money to promote and market, it's inevitable. The key is to spend accordingly and when you can except there are certain things that must be constant and are monthly. For instance if you want a top notch website with unlimited access to things you have to pay a fee plus if you want your own domain you have to pay a fee. If you want to join a mass e-mail site like MailChimp and send out outmated e-mails theres a fee. Get past 2,000 subscribers? There's a fee. If you want to join two just two promotional author sites there's a monthly fee. You want to join a class on how to help your sales? There's a big fee. This is what gets me, if you add all that up it's a big sum and if you don't have income your not exactly keen on forking all of it over nevermind if you have it. What all these fees say to me is your spending all this so you can have ways to sell your book but however much your spending on all this you now have a goal that you must reach or else it's a fail. You don't have to agree with this premise but it's not wrong. By spending money monthly on your website, domain, two promotion sites and your automated e-mail subscriber list your giving yourself a goal of sales you have to make and it isn't realistic, what it is is a vicious cycle. Priorities are key here and I more than anyone am all about organization and making money but as the saying goes, in order to make money you need to spend money. Yes but you also don't want to invest everything and end up broke either.


This isn't a rant so what is it that I'm saying? I'm saying nothing is free, I'm saying that not everyone has the money to invest and spend everywhere they please. I'm saying that I know it's a process but they don't make it easy but then again why have it easy when you need to work? Ah another cycle or irony. You're already working yourself to the bone to write your books so why should you have to work at spending money on so many things? I suppose a very simple answer is well if this helps your books making a ton of money and your getting tons of reviews out of it then you shouldn't have to worry...it's just not realistic or guaranteed enough to attempt though. Take time and research what you want to spend money on. Manage your money wisely and think of how much it will cost you yearly rather than monthly and if you can pay something in one shot you probably should. Too many sites have these pay later or pay monthly, yes it's convenient but I'm talking about the ones where it's one shot and done. I'm talking about pay once, don't worry so you can focus on your monthly fees. Your books aren't going to sell themselves and eventually your going to have to spend money, all I'm saying at this point and the message to take here is to figure out what you want to do and how you want to do it. Spend accordingly and make sure your investments are the right ones.

Novel or Short Story: How Do You Decide?

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Do you ever come up with a great idea for a story that you just can’t wait to get started on? Chances are the answer to this is yes. The more enlightening question is how do you decide if a story becomes your next novel or just a short story? I’m not sure how many have pondered this but it’s crossed my mind more than once and only recently has it really stopped to make me think. Exactly how does a person decide what becomes a full-fledged novel and what becomes a short story? I suppose everyone is different but let’s go over some basic theories as to what may make a person decide what’s what.

 

(Length of an Idea)-

One obvious reason would be length. The amount and length of a story may be good enough to be a short story but you may not have enough of a concept to build off it to have it become a novel. The idea is there and it’s great but you feel it only goes so far and there’s only so much of it you can write. Sure a writer can build off it if they really try but there’s writing because “the idea is there” and forcing it and at no time should you ever force more than you have to. So in this regard length can play a part in an author determining what becomes a book and what becomes a short story.

 

(Anthologies)-

Another way you may decide one over another is your writing to be featured in an anthology which in this case means your writing a short story. Now whether you already have a short story written that fits or your being asked to write about a certain topic chances are your writing a short story to be placed into an anthology. Depending on the content of what they want, this may also serve as a way to tease your readers for an upcoming book. You can always write a short story for your own or for an anthology and then later on write a book about the same topic, having the short piece serve as a prologue or teaser.

 

(The Idea Itself)-

This next way is one of the ways that I myself contemplate which is the idea itself. Let’s say I have an idea in mind for a story but while I like it I don’t feel it’s novel material..does that make sense? Okay let’s try the opposite, let’s say I have a concept for a story that’s so great that making it into a short story just doesn’t do it justice. The title I have in mind is epic and the concept is so good that I want to publish it for all to read and experience. Make sense? This one is basically saying that you feel your writing a story for either the full effect with every intention to make it a novel or it’s good enough to just serve as a short story.

 


So these are three ways to which I believe people decide as to what becomes a short story or a novel. Obviously I think about this hence the reason I wrote this post. I also wrote it because I’m curious as to how many other authors think about this and do any of the three. It’s one thing to write a story but it’s something else entirely to think about what you want to do with it and what you want to turn it into. So do you do this? If so how do you decide?

 

Should Characters Be Relatable?

Posted on December 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

When characters are created they are given their own background, their own personality and traits and must fit into the story to which they are being created for. However, what about being relatable? Should a character possess some kind of characteristic to which makes them relatable to the reader or a real person for that matter? I mean I’m sure this is done but sometimes it may be unintentional or sometimes it’s completely left out which makes me wonder if a character has to be relatable in someway to the reader. An author cannot possibly know who will read their book and who will connect with their characters but assuming they can put in a trait for their character that a lot of people can relate to must mean they are trying to establish that. Not putting in something that relates the character to the reader or author may make the character unenjoyable which may make the story dry and un enjoyable for some. In my opinion I think even if it’s a small add, there needs to be something about that character that’s created to which anyone who reads it can say hey I can relate to that or at least understands the fundamentals about what the character is bringing to the story and what they represent.

 


I think it doesn’t matter what genre it is, the character must be relatable. Of course some genres will expect more than others from their characters but the reader wants to be able to take something with them after reading. They don’t just want to think the book was good or bad or that overall it made for a good read but rather there was something about the character that was so relatable that the reader is hoping for a sequel to read with that character or that, that character will stick with them in the future. Anyone can make a character have feelings, have a story to tell and even make them relate to real world scenarios but to just throw in that little something that gives the reader the extra boost to root for the character may make all the difference. It isn’t to say that a book who doesn’t have a relatable character will suffer but it merely means that having one as such presents a better understanding and connection between the author and his book with the reader. Again sometimes all it takes is a one little thing that separates a character from someone real or a reader and it will either bring the reader closer or turn them off depending on the individual of course.

 


What have we learned? That when you create a character you want them to be somewhat real, aside from them shooting lasers from a taser, fighting a fire breathing dragon or waving a magic wand during class time there needs to be some kind of realism in there. We all love the creativity authors imagine up but again whether it’s a crime/suspense novel of a science fiction fantasy novel we need that character to bring something real and relatable to the table. An extra boost if you will that makes you not only appreciate the story and the character but says, ‘hey I can relate to that and I can do that too if I tried’. Then again this isn’t about self confidence or boosting ones self esteem it’s just about a character being relatable but even there it’s being said that because they are so relatable that it makes the reader think that they can achieve something as well. As a read you want the character to either speak to you, feel like your there with them or that you are them. It would be only fitting to relate to the character and one would have to assume you would if your feeling one of the three things just mentioned. As long as the writer gives the character a voice it should be only fitting that the character should relate, even the smallest amount.


This post is a part of the Festive Spirit Blog Hop: http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/festive-spirit-blog-hop.html


 

Would You Write About Controversy?

Posted on December 20, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

We all have come across those books and articles of touchy subjects. You all know them. Their the ones that while they are juicy and interesting to read they are also borderline controversial and the metaphorical red flags come out in your mind. It then becomes a choice rather then a go ahead read, should I continue reading this and write my review or opinion? Or should I just back away and watch the hoopla entwine with others? Some people are no stranger to controversy while some find it as fuel to get a rush for themselves and a reaction out of others. When it comes to controversial articles everyone tends to come out with an opinion which always gets a good fire going. Goodreads is a perfect example of this. However I have yet to come across a book that was deemed too much and too controversial to be considered a quality product. I don’t mean all those classic banned books back in the day I’m talking about modern day books both traditional and self-published. Are they out there? Of course they are. I myself have not looked but I am sure there are authors out there who have written about things that are very outrageous and while the book may make for a good read afterwards you tend to wonder if publicity wise this book should be censored.

 


A risky article can be both good and bad as I am sure we have all seen on here. An author posts advice or makes an opinion and it gets a lot of views, hits and then the comments start piling on. Examples don’t need to be given because If I were to list an example some may not find it controversial so let’s all be in agreement of the ones that are obvious. Articles of a hot nature will tend to clearly get their point across and get a good amount of feedback. However at the same time they will start fueds with some people with high opinions clashing with others. Does this mean your article is controversial? No. It just means that everyone has a different opinion. Now for an example, if the article is on Nazis and treatments on the Jews then chances are opinions wont only be high but your going to question the articles writer and ask him what gives him the right. It may not be like this but chances are an article of such nature tends to bring out the over raised eyebrows in everyone who reads it and asking the writer where they get of. Yes, it can make for a good read. Yes, it can get a lot of good solid discussions out of people and yes it can also make things ugly, turn sour or whatever other expression you want to use. If the article starts a roaring fire does it mean it’s bad? What is the reasoning behind the writers idea to write it in the first place? These are questions that one can ask themselves but onto books.

 


A controversial book of today. Right away I think to myself clearly the author who arote it must not think it’s controversial or they would not have written it in the first place. On the other hand I think the author does not care what people think and believes in his work whether it’s fact based or fiction but still has the controversial intent. Or even the possible hey I’m going to write a book about something highly questionable and people are going to point the finger at me but I just want to see what people will think about it. Have you ever come across such a book? Unfortunately as many may think, Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray are not controversial books, they just have their own fan base and those of us who aren’t fans will usually say the authors of both can’t write. This would be a clear example of a controversial topic but not a Oh my god this book should be burned in the deepest regions of hell because it’s not okay! I myself don’t go looking for such books though I recently read one of violent and sexual nature, very strong at that. Reading it at times I felt it to be very inappropriate but at the same time it was still a really good read. So what does this make me? It shows that I find something alarming but at the same time enjoyable because I know the authors intent was to be enjoyed. I know the author didn’t intend for it to be like this he wrote it as he wanted it not to be questioned but to be enjoyed. Perhaps it comes to books it comes down to more of the authors intent. If you write about something high questionable and controversial then you better know full well that you may get a lot of criticism for it going forward. You better realize that not everyone is going to like it and while you may or may not have intended to do it to get such reactions out of people you do believe in it.


This post is part of the Festive Blog Hop: http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/festive-spirit-blog-hop.html


 

Book Soundtracks

Posted on August 29, 2015 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

We've all heard of movie soundtracks, songs they play either within the movie or is on the movies CD, but what about for books? Have you ever considered making a soundtrack for your book? I sometimes find myself listening to a song and think, "hey that song fits a poem in my book!". What I used to do is post the music video to a song with lyrics from youtube to Facebook with a caption as to how I feel it ties into my book. I find it's a fun, creative and inspirational way to connect music to ones books. Since then however I have expanded this idea and have made soundtracks for all my books using Soundcloud. What I do is get a feel of the type of songs I want to include that not only represent the book but truly fit with it.


For instance for my Western Horror, "A Bloody Bloody Mess In the Wild Wild West" I wanted western songs or songs about defiance so I looked for songs by Johnny Cash, songs about the Wild West, horses and outlaws and added them to my list. When I felt I had enough I arranged them and put together my own soundtrack. Another example a bit more vivid is my soundtrack for my poetry book 'Like A Box of Chocolates". Since the book has poems within many different genres and about many different things I wanted the songs to represent the feeling the book gave off as a whole rather than choose random songs. While the songs are definitely random they all share a unique balance to them. The soundtrack includes songs from Oasis, Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones and The Doors just to name a few. 


I still listen to songs on Youtube and post them when I feel they connect to my book but have found it not only easier to use Soundcloud by making a soundtrack but find it as a fun thing to do and another thing about the book that people can check out, One of my poems within Like A Box of Chocolates, 'Faded Black' is based on and contains lyrics from the song 'Paint It Black' by the Rolling Stones. This is what makes me ask the question, do you ever connect certain songs to your books? Have you ever considered making a soundtrack for your book? Some lyrics are just so moving so spot on and sometimes so similiar to a work you've written that you'd be a fool not to acknowledge the connection. Take advantage of it and heck if your really serious, contact a band or someone you know within the music industry and see if they will not only allow you to use their song but perhaps write a song just for your book. So the next time your listening to a song or you hear about a movie soundtrack think to yourself, can your book use a soundtrack? It's not all that odd of an idea in fact it adds a bit of flare to your work. So consider a book soundtrack, it may help it may not but it's another piece of your work you can show off to people. 


You can check out all four of my books soundtracks on my soundcloud page @ 

https://soundcloud.com/tro75/sets/the-macabre-masterpiece" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The Macabre Masterpiece Soundtrack


https://soundcloud.com/tro75/sets/a-bloody-bloody-mess" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West Soundtrack


https://soundcloud.com/tro75/sets/like-a-box-of-chocolates" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Like A Box of Chocolates Soundtrack


https://soundcloud.com/tro75/sets/opium-warfare-soundtrack" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Opium Warfare

 

Getting Your Books in Libraries

Posted on July 4, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Upon seeing someone else's thread it got me thinking to the ole library discussion. I remember a few years back when I published my first novel one of the first places I went to try and promote it was my library. To my surprise they told me they cannot because the library is a non-profit establishment and they cannot do anything for my book as long as it is out making money. Oddly enough they never asked to purchase a copy and I didn't think of donating at the time which brings me to my questions..

 

-As a self-published author should you try to get your books in your local libraries?

 

-If so, how should you go about doing so?

-Should you approach the administrator and ask if they'd like to buy a few copies?

-Do you donate a few copies?

-Or (if you use Createspace) do you try your luck and let expand distribution try to do it's work for you?

 

Personally, my library just recently changed administrators and I am hoping they are a bit more for local authors because I'd like to become more a part of my library and local community as an author.


To further elaborate on this matter let's ask the main question once again: Should authors consider having their books in library? I say yes. Sure you don't get money for having them in there but perhaps at the very least you place one or a few of your works(assuming you've written a lot of books) and you get your local community interested and if they like your work they can go out and buy others. Or just place all your books in libraries and have people check them out, you'll have plenty of readers and perhaps it will even lead to reviews. After all sometimes it's not about the money it's about allowing people to read your books and for them to enjoy. Having your books in libraries may lead to the people who work there to asking you to come by to do a reading or event. Perhaps it may lead to other libraries asking to have copies of your books. The idea at first seems like a bit unebeneficial to an author but if you really think about it, having your book in a library can be a good thing depending on how you go about it. 


A library is the one place in town aside from a bookstore that is almost a no-brainer for an author to go to try and promote their books but if your like me your library doesn't allow such a thing because they are non-profit. This shouldn't stop you however as I'm sure there is still a way to get your book noticed while in the library. You can do any of the things I suggested above and keep trying and try to find a way for the library to have your book because after all there's no place better than a library. Attend events, get to know the people who work there or check out books that are similar to yours and then when you go to return them maybe mention how you yourself have written a similar book to the librarian, perhaps it will strike up a conversation. Now I should probably take my own advice here since I'm giving out a lot of good stuff here but for the most part I think as an author you should try to become involved with your library in some way. it's one thing to become involved as a volunteer and even not being an author. As an author you should feel more inclined to want to become a part of the place in some way to if not help yourself as an author but enlighten and give the readers more books to read. Getting your books in libraries, try it and see how it goes, it may help it may not but you'll never know until you at least try.



Book Covers: Why They're Important

Posted on July 4, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Let me first start by saying that I am no expert on this discussion, in fact like you I am struggling to get my name and works some recognition. With that being said however I can say that if there's one thing every author should have and know, it's a solid well put together cover for their book. Let's be honest here, a cover is the first thing a reader sees when they come across you and your work. You want the cover to be engaging, capturing, alluring, in simple terms; you want the cover to be so well done that the person can't help but want to pick it up and read more about it and even buy it so they have it for their very own. The sad part is that a lot of people "drop the ball" when it comes to this rather simple concept. They either don't focus on getting a solid cover for their work or they get someone to do a half ass job on it, (please don't be one of these people).


Now that I have your attention realize that this is how you want to make people feel about your book but in a good way. They see something gripping, something out-there, something that draws them in and in a way connects and relates to them. This is how you want to build around your book cover. The best thing to do is look into getting a professional cover artist or illustrator to design your cover. Remember if you have an idea that it's your idea to envision and their job to bring that vision to life. Find someone that fits needs and can work your vision and creates in a way that you like. I myself found a wonderful cover artist whose done my works, her name is Gemma Newey and she's done all four of my book covers and I am so thankful. You can check out her work @ http://www.darkphreakarts.co.uk/home.html. Again some people's style isn't for everyone, but please realize that the best thing to do is look around for a cover artist aka a professional illustrator to do your cover for you. See if the the money works for you or see if you can get someone to do it for free, though I caution the quality of someone who would agree to do your cover for free so maybe that's not the best idea. Also while I don't like using premade covers, maybe this is for you as well. A premade cover may be within your budget, fits your idea and vision and is better then a crap cover job you had done for you before. My latest book, Opium Warfare has a premade cover by Gemma Newey and while I wouldn't normally go with premade covers I felt the cover was calling out to me and it fit the idea I had for the book so I decided to purchase it and she touched it up a bit. I had a premade but still high quality book cover. So again, look into getting a professional artist or go with a cover already done that speaks to you, don't settle on something you may later regret because after all a cover is the first thing a reader sees and if you aren't totally satisfied with it how can you expect a possible reader to be?


So why is a cover important? Because it's the first thing a potential reader sees and this will be the picture that represents your book. Obviously you want it to pull readers in so why would you try to do it yourself or have someone unprofessional do a poor job? Assuming of course you yourself don't have the skills to make your own designs. If you can do your own designs and create your own covers then by all means as you save yourself a step. Remember that your cover may not appeal to everyone but you know it will appeal to you and a certain crowd. People will see it and fall in love, others may be appauled, other just not interested but either way they see it and it makes them think for a second, it gets them interested and if after catching their eye, the book is in their hands and their reading the inside flap or the back of the book for the synopsis. Just remember that your cover is to get the reader to that next step..to pick up the book and read it.

Business Cards: Where Do You Leave Them?

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Business cards. They are something that all authors should have and carry on them at all times. They aren't hard to acquire at all either many places allow you to not only create your own cards but allow you to purchase 100 to 150 and for a good cheap reasonable price. The best place to get business cards is Vistaprint, if you noticed on my homepage I have my business card displayed which I created using them, they are absolutely great with cards and anything else you want your name and info on. However chances are you already know this and what that being the case let me get to the point of the article, where does an author leave these business cards? This is a question I constantly ask and while people give me responses and I read of places to leave them, it's always the same ole places and it's always the same ole response. I will give examples in a list shortly but let me first stress that the reason I'm always inquiring about where to leave business cards is because I have to think there's more places and reasonable places at that then what I'm being told, at what I'm reading as of where to post them. The Top 2 places people usually suggest are libraries and coffee shops.These two places make absolute sense and I get entirely why they would be Top 2 however I have an issue with both and here's why.


I once mentioned this in my article Outside Promotion when I once went to my library and asked if I could leave my book or business card with them so they could either leave it at the desk or on a table of some sort. They told me they can't because they only do non-profit things pertaining to books. Wait..I thought libraries were first on the list, a place to find out about books, a place that welcomes self-published authors? Apparently my library got none of those memos. I tried several times and always got the same responses, either talk to so and so or ooh sorry we don't do that. Now I get it, not all libraries may be like this but isn't it just my luck that I get stuck with one that is. In close of the library part, It has been a while since i tried asking to post my cards and they have changed administrators so perhaps I'll try my luck this spring. The 2nd on the list of course is coffee shops which again makes total sense. Leave your cards at the coffee shop they say and that's reasonable. What coffee shops though? Starbucks and local coffee shops? Yes this would be to whom they refer to. I have one coffee shop in my town and it just so happens to be across from a train station and book store. This should be a gold mine for me then yes? Well it would be only there's one small issue, I don't drink coffee and I've only been in the place once. I'll guess what you're thinking, what does that matter? Well I don't want to just pop into a place once and leave my cards I would need to visit the place frequently and leave an impression before leaving my cards and that takes time. So perhaps this is more of a personal issue and matter that I could address but again I'm just stating that from a business card standpoint it's not exactly pop in leave your cards and pop out.


Back to the matter at hand, business cards. People mention other places such as restaurants, clothing stores, laundromats, nail salons and these make no sense to me. Aside from the fact that maybe I visit these places whose to say anyone is remotely interested in a authors business card at these places? To me they are more interested in what's in the places such as eating food, buying clothes and accessories, doing their laundry and getting their nails done. Maybe I'm missing the whole it's a shot in the dark sort of deal but to me I feel uncomfortable with going to such places and leaving my card. I feel like they wouldn't care who I am or what I'm leaving them. I'd like to think there's more places and more to it then just leaving a business card on a table or approaching someone in hopes of getting them interested. I recently read an article on Indie Book Promo about this matter which you can take a peak at here: http://www.indie-book-promo.com/marketing-books---marketing-tips-and-tools-for-authors---tip-1.html

Now I know it feels like I'm picking at all the bad but hear me out and let's continue to explore this. They list places to leave your cards, first place at networking events. Well if it's a free event yes but earlier they stated that self-published authors don't have the budget most traditional ones have so if that's the case how would they be able to attend networking events? The next is pin onto billboards, I thought billboards were those giant boards you see on the highways?  Here's a positive, leave in thank you letters, notes and in copies of your book, YES! This one makes sense and it's simple and your not going out of your way to do it. It's quick, reasonable and impressionable. Leave as a tip at restaurant. I'd never thought of this one but it's actually not that bad of an idea. You leave a good tip and your card and by off chance your waiter or waitress enjoys reading or you were charming you leaving your card could pay off. Coffee shops of course are next on the list. Maybe you all have a few coffee shops in your area or maybe all you really need is one good one, I myself have one and the rest of town is flooded and swarmed with Dunkin Donuts. They aren't exactly a cafee/coffee shop and leaving cards there means for cleanup as trash lol hence the reason I long for a starbucks with it's unique drinks, cozy atmosphere and business card friendly! Last but not least is any way you can think of and this I suppose is any place you've tried or can think of but since I just happen to be ..well let's say way too realistic and concerned any place I go to leave my card I want to know it'll mean something, that it won't go un noticed that I won't be looked at like wait you want to do what?


I don't want you to think I'm against business cards because I'm not, heck I told you in the beginning where I got mine. I still have two versions and sets of cards in my house collecting dust. I don't believe it's whether or not I get out to post them, it's where in the reasonable world can I go to leave them, leave my mark and they won't just throw them out. I once passed my cards out and no sooner did I return to the place that I found them on the ground.. :( Don't be like this me, sounds like anyone? But seriously, when you get business cards think about your surroundings think about all the places within your town or that your planning on going out of town? Could your card be helpful or nice to pass out to people that will be there? That's what I'm going to do next time, also build on a rapport with the coffee shop and train station after all it's my only source of rationality in town! Business cards should be helpful, informative and most importantly of all if you have good places to post them then by all mean you should get out and leave them there.

Racial Stereotypes in Literature

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I was on Goodreads and another member posted a thread about this and it got me thinking exactly how true it is and how many of us do this. When you read a book and your introduced to the characters, do you naturally assume they’re white? Unless your told otherwise such as certain details and an actual race or even certain region, but what does your mind tell you? If your not white do you assume the character to be the same race as yourself? I mean no disrespect nor am I meaning this as racism, just merely a wonder of perspective of how people see certain characters in their books or books they’ve read without valid descriptions. You pick up a book with a person on the cover, the person is white; do you assume this person to be the main character? Do you assume that the person in the book your introduced to is suppose to resemble that of the image on the front? If your like me chances are sometimes you do just this. Your mind has already fixed on the idea that this is suppose to be portray the character and as you read the description your even more sold on the thought. Does this make us wrong? I don’t believe so, in fact I think it’s something a lot of people do without really even realizing it sometimes. So to let the main fact be known here, unless we read and are told other wise we just think the character is just like us.

Aside from what we assume and what we read how many of us think the main character is the same race as that of an author? Say the author is African-American or Indian, how many of us then believe the character is of the same race simply because the author is of that race? Again it’s not racism it’s just our minds thinking and putting the facts we’ve come up with together. Perhaps it’s a better idea to read into the details and personal descriptions of a character and then decide how we think they look rather then assuming right off the bat but again better said then done. In a book I am currently reading the main character is African-American. The author is also African-American however at first I didn’t really make the connection as it never occurred to me as to what race the character was. Before my mind got to decide the character was described as being that of African-American. This goes to show that we don’t always make guesses for the race of characters and sometimes we should wait it out a bit before deciding because there’s a good chance we will read up about it. To me, race has no affiliation or basis as to how a story is going to go and why should it? That would clearly be stereotyping and that’s not quite something anyone wants to do. It should be pointed out however that if a certain scenario or geographical region is described then are we once again assuming that people act as according to the two?

 

When a reader picks up a book and begins reading they are at most times going in not knowing what to expect. This is to say that if they did know what to expect and knew the description of the characters they would then know if the characters were of a certain race. This is merely a statement stating the fact that in most cases other then this, racial stereotyping is generally the idea going into reading a book. What classifies stereotyping? According to Webster’s dictionary, Stereotyping is a conventional opinion or belief; a mental printing plate. This means we assume what we think to be true based off events or because we naturally and generally think it to be so. Sorry to sound philosophical there but in blatant terms, we create our own assumptions and it is because of this that when it comes to books in most cases we all at times tend to come off a bit in the racial stereotyping department. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you don’t make it public about your beliefs of what you believe or in the most obvious not to come off as racist. There is a difference between the two and nothing is wrong with believing something to a point but again being stereotypical is good and not being racist and does not mean to offend.

The next time you pick up a book and your really into it and have not been properly introduced to the characters take a step back and think to yourself. Don’t make assumptions and keep reading or look at the details and take in all you’ve already and then make a decision as to who you think the character is. Also it is definitely worth noting that it doesn’t matter what race a character is whatsoever. It is just a curious notion when reading as to how to compare a character, hat you in your mind picture a character to look like to what the character actually looks like. Another thing that’s create about reading is that you can know full well what a character looks like and what their race is but you can still have your own idea of the character. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t it’s really for whatever reason a reader choices to believe. Racial stereotypes may not be the essential but they do seem to be the norm from time to time and we do find ourselves doing it again from time to time. These words are not and were never meant to be offensive in any way just a mere look of analysis of how people tend to think when it comes to certain parts of reading a book. The next time a character you really like is making quite an impression on you and you also wonder think what they look like and who they are remember that it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

Background Check on Publishers

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

      So you just finished writing your first book. Your excited, eager and you can’t wait to get started on getting it published. You don’t really want to pay or at least pay a lot. That first company you just looked up looks appealing and sounds good but wait! Stop right there! Before you decide to make any decisions right away perhaps you should look into this company you see before you to see if their legit and don’t just look into them but look into others. Don’t let your search end with just one company. When you are looking for a company to publish your book consider first whether or not you want to go with traditional or self-publishing. After you decide on this then you can limit and narrow down your search. With self-publishing you have quite a few very good qualities publishers such as Createspace, Lulu, LightningSource and Smashwords. However this is mainly to talk about traditional publishing and if you go down that road. If you decide to go with traditional publishing I strongly consider the following. First of all, look up several companies either from a list or wherever and then make a list of your own of them. After you have a good amount of names listed then begins the fun.

Go to the publishers site and see what they are like and what they have to offer. It’s important to look at what authors they have currently and what type of books they usually publish. Then you want to look into their submissions page and get a feel of what their processes are like. If you aren’t totally intimidated yet by their guidelines you should next look into the types of services they offer and how much they charge. If their fees are reasonable to you and in your range then make a note of this. Next look for any testimonials and reviews on the site about the publisher and reviews about authors books. This will give you an idea of what others have to say about them. But don’t let it start there. The next thing you should do is e-mail the publisher and explain yourself and ask about for a bit more information on them. When they write you back and can give you thorough answers and reasons this will help your decision further. Take down the email of an author on the site if possible. Write them and ask about how their experience was with the company and if they would recommend them. Finally go back to Google or Bing whichever search engine you used and type in the publisher and see what comes up. If all signs are positive make one last stop to a site like Preditors&Editors and look up the company(their list is in alphabetical order). If the publisher isn’t listed then it usually means they are good if they come up it doesn’t mean they are bad. Sometimes they list a company just to say what they are known for or sometimes even have a recommendation next to it. However if it has a red wording that says not recommended and explains why then your search should end and you should cross them off your list.

Basically you want to get as much information on publishers as you can. Don’t just choose one and done or give a small search into them. Do an investigation, heck have fun doing it! It’s all about you and your books livelihood is on the line. When I finished my first book I was so excited and eager that I didn’t bother to do any of the things I explained in here. I looked up free publishers and up popped “PublishAmerica” I looked into their site but I didn’t look further down to notice all the other things about them which weren’t good. Now you can get a good explanation about my experience with them in another article but to make this story short and it simple terms, I got screwed. My lack of investigation and amateurish ways got the best of me and before I knew it I had a poorly formatted and edited book on the market. Another thing to look into is the length of a contract a publisher offers you. A standard publishing contract is usually 2 years. Some will offer you a 4-5 year contract which seems like much but this also means they would like to and expect you to write and publish more books with them. If you see a company that offers you a contract any longer than 4 years do not and I mean DO NOT consider it. PublishAmerica’s contract is seven years, this is highly irregular in the publishing community and not to be taken lightly. Most places state their contract is one of the worst which by all standards is but according to PublishAmerica’s reasonable and accommodating. So again you want a good contract but you also don’t want to be tied down for a long period of time. You also want to look into a termination clause. Most contracts usually have a statement which says they can terminate you at anytime for whatever reason but the thing you want to look into is whether or not you can do the same with no questions asked. Most publishers have early termination clauses and I highly recommend ones that do not just because something bad may happen but for if you want to cancel for any other reason.

So when your looking into a publishing company just remember to look into all the things I have mentioned. No one should have to go through what I went though with PublishAmerica. The internet is a wonderful place to look up things especially to see how good and distinguished a company is. Remember, if anything bad comes up then your should throw them out and move onto the next one. If it’s a small thing then maybe think about if you want to keep them a possibility. However the best companies to go for are the ones who leave no traces of a bad reputation with them and aren’t written about anywhere on the net and most of all have a positive aura to them and are recommended by many.

How Should You Price Your Novel?

Posted on June 8, 2013 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Since the release of my books and becoming of an author I have always wondered about the pricing of ones book. Now if you can’t set the price of your own book then I guess that’s that but for those who do set their own prices, what should you set it at? What’s a good price that’s not only fair for the reader but for the author as well? The first thing to note is that companies tend to place or recommend prices based on the number of pages, the width or the content to which it contains. As an author however I don’t care of any of those things and personally wouldn’t and don’t base my price off of that. As an author you want to base your price as reasonable for someone to buy and at the same time reasonable for you to make money. As an author, when you write a book your goal is not to make money but at the same time you want to make money. Yes, you want the satisfaction and delight of pleasing a reader but at the same time you want to know that you get a lot of those readers and you wish to be rewarded for you hard work. I feel as though I am drifting off topic a bit so back onto the topic I go. What should determine the price of one’s book and what is a fair set price? If it’s a hardcover then we are in a totally different department given most hardcover’s are highly priced. So this is about paperback and e-books.

What is a good price for a paperback? I ‘d start throwing out numbers but I am not expert on the issue clearly, given I am writing this and asking but also I just don’t know where a good price is. I will however throw one price out here and that is.99 cents. Many and I mean many authors price their e-books at .99 cents. This I have seen generates lots of downloads and sales but what exactly is the author making when a book is .99 cents? Maybe that’s not what I should be looking at perhaps. Again though, what is a fair price? Under 10? To me under ten is within the ballpark but at the same time is like an athlete, we set the price and the readers like okay I see your offer but you can do better. You want to set a good price and you don’t want to give your book away(well of course you can if you want but that’s a whole other topic). Perhaps the price is all up to the author and however much they feel it is and should be worth. How much would they pay for the book would be a good place to start. Looking into what other books go for in a particular genre to which the author has written is another place to look. If a paperback is a certain price should the e-book then be half of that? Or .99 cents? From a personal standpoint I sometimes and only sometimes feel as though .99 cents to be like the booths Lucy set up in Peanuts for 5 cents. No matter what advice she was giving and no matter what it was she was selling it was always 5 sets. Well not everything can be 5 cents just like I believe not every book should be .99 cents.

 But Justin there’s nothing wrong with .99 cents. It’s saying my books not free but it’s also cheap and very enticing of a price for a reader to want to buy is what your probably wanting to tell me. And I say that’s a fair opinion and I agree with that. I feel as though .99 cents should be e-book only and only if the author feels they can do that because they have no problem with it. Back to the big question at hand though, what is a fair price to price an authors book? Double digits I agree in all fairness is a bit much and I do know sometimes when books are double priced it is out of their hands. An e-book to me should never be priced higher than a paperback, I don’t know it just seems to make sense. When an author has a price in mind they feel is reasonable then that is their right however it would and is probably best to look into what others are setting their prices to or even asking the readers what they would pay for a good book. Of course last but not least what price would the author buy a book at and maybe they set their price at that. Again opinion. If only it were as easy as spinning a wheel to determine the price of a book however if that were the case then it would be our books not us their were on showcase. With all that being said, is the price really right?

Self-Published Indies Are Authors Too

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Self-Published and Indie Authors, you know us. We are not a generation nor are we a movement we are a good share of folk who are just like any normal author who goes and publishes traditionally so why don’t we get taken seriously? Why is it that some people and companies tend to frown upon self published authors and not give them the credit they would give a traditional published author? Why are we not taken seriously by everyone? It doesn’t need to be said but here it is anyways, we write, we think and we pour our hearts out into our work just as much as anyone else yet the minute we decide to go on our own or take the lesser road traveled we are looked upon sometimes as having been taken by the plague. To be clear this is not about whether one is better than the other, that’s not what’s being asked here what’s being asked is why are self-published Indie authors not given the same respect as those who go with the big guns of big time publishing companies? It’s not like we have found the fountain of publishing, this is not a shortcut it’s merely another innovative way for an author to get their work officially out there without the fancy contracts, waiting around or ten sets of eyes to overlook it. There is no reason to be against an Indie author, sometimes authors go both routes(let’s call them bipublished) are they too not considered normal?

I’ve heard that places such as Barnes&Noble don’t take self-publishers serious. This is as much to say they will not consider promoting or carrying an authors book who has not gone though traditionally to publish it or doesn’t have it available On Ingrams books. If a book has an ISBN it should be completely irrelevant as to whether or not it’s self-published or not it simply doesn’t matter. Now maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing but self-published authors sometimes have it harder than the others because we have to promote on our own. We have to go out and get the deals done and what not. Yet you would think a company such as Barnes&Noble(the biggest and perhaps the only majoy bookstore left) would accommodate and accept Indie authors as much as any author.


Their reasons will be they want books they know will sell, that they can make money of off but what’s a self-published book to a traditional regular book that’s been in their store that no one’s ever bought? There’s no difference to me. If anything it should be a win-win for them, they get a local Indie author to do a book signing, they make money and get people to their store and the author makes money and gets people to have copies of their book. But again not all of their stores or other book stores and companies are like this. We Self-published and Indie authors are not outcasts and we are not to be taken lightly, we are a kind, generous and heartwarming folk(well most of us anyways) and we are no different then those authors who go the traditional route.