Ideas Are Cheap

There are a lot of books out there, and many of them stem from two or three concepts that are not always clear to the reader. These concepts, of course, come together to form an idea for a novel or a short story and give the reader something worth reading. But there’s something that they never tell you when it comes to creating an idea for a book.

To be honest, ideas are cheap.

When I say that, I’m paraphrasing Brandon Sanderson’s lectures at BYU. What Sanderson was discussing in that particular lecture was how we as writers generate ideas for a strong storyline. The truth is, a good writer can take a terrible idea and make a wonderful book out of it. Jim Butcher did this. His Codex Alera novels are something of a combination of Pokémon and the lost Roman legion. The books are all bestsellers.

So, you can write about anything if you approach it the right way. The idea doesn’t matter. All that matters is the writer and their imagination.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Advertisements

Some Things About Self-Publishing

In last week’s blog, we discussed a few things about traditional publishing. With all of its platforms and bells and whistles, there are certainly a lot of options when it comes to going the traditional publishing route. In today’s blog, however, I wanted to get into a few options when it comes to self-publishing.

The first thing that needs to be pointed out, of course, is that if you plan on self-publishing like I am, your sales will come primarily from the ebook format. This is because they are cheaper and easier to get into the hands of readers, but of course there is also a benefit to you in this arena as well. You get to sell it for cheaper, but because of the zero production cost, you also get more money from this than a traditional author would.

Something else to point out is that you want to have a print version available. If you have an ebook and a print version for them to compare its price to, then you automatically entice them to buy the cheaper ebook (provided that you set the price to $2.99 as recommended by Amazon). This may be different on other self-publishing sites, where my knowledge on the sales trends is small, so keep that in mind if you’re not using Amazon.

You can also self-publish without any publisher at all, and instead post your work on a blog. I honestly don’t see the logic behind this move, since an author almost always publishes their work to make a little side money, but if that’s what you want to do, go right ahead. All I can say for sure is that this has become a thing among some more traditional presses.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

The Writing Process

Before you ever put words to paper, it is vital that you have some kind of outline. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few character sheets or a few notes on what you want to do with your story, but it’s important to know where your story is going. This outline then becomes a finished novel, and you’ve just completed a project using a process that is undoubtedly unique to you.

The writing process is a very interesting thing. Every writer’s process is going to be different somehow. George R. R. Martin, from my understanding, writes his novels without a real outline. Others, like Brandon Sanderson, rely heavily on an outline.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the hybrid area of this spectrum. I write brief outlines, then rewrite them several times, until I have something that looks like a movie script. That’s when I write the story like a novel. So, I outline and I discovery write both at the same time.

The main point is this: learn what your process is and stick to it. That’s how you’re going to most effectively produce stories on a regular basis.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

A Few Things About Traditional Publishing

The world of publishing is pretty tough business to crack into, especially if you’re a newbie who’s just starting out. Many of them are tied to one of five organizations, and most of them are, in some way, based in New York City. These groups of publishers, called “The Big Five” by many in the industry, are basically the businessmen and -women who run the industry. But the question some writers, without a doubt, wonder is, “How do I break in?”

The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. Everyone is different, so every writer will be different, and every publishing house is going to be different as well. The Big Five represents what many writers in the literary world would like to achieve: a major book deal with a big publisher. But the problem, more often than not, is that the Big Five are solely focused on making a profit. The fact that many are based in New York is a clue that this is the case, but beyond that, this is the reason getting your foot in the door is such a problem (one reason I chose to self-publish my novel, Kingslayer). In order for them to take you seriously, you have to have an agent. And at each agency, you have to send a query and other deliverables to them in accordance with their guidelines.

All of the above, however, is what things look like if you want a major book deal. If you’re okay with working your way up the publishing ladder, you can always go with a middle-sized traditional press. They may be run regionally (like a university publisher), or they may simply be a publisher based outside of New York. Needless to say you won’t have the success of an author at one of the Big Five, but this is a very good place to start if you want to see your work in print and want to make a little profit. You’ll still get an advance (though not as big as one from a big house), and you’ll still gain readers. In the end, you still win.

Small presses, on the other hand, are not as trust-worthy as all of what I’ve posted above. The truth is, small publishers are as close to self-publishing as you can get with traditional publishing. If your advance isn’t at least $250, don’t sign with them. I cannot stress this enough. An advance represents the publisher’s commitment to selling that amount of dollars worth of your book. If you don’t get an advance from them, they’re not committed. Additionally, you have to do all the networking and marketing yourself, which you have to do anyway if you’re self-publishing. The real question is, why sign the rights off to your book if you already have to do the same amount of work if you chose to self-publish? Take it from someone who’s been scammed by a small press, it’s not worth it.

Granted, this isn’t to say that a small publisher is going to scam you 100% of the time. But make sure they have two things at their disposal: a marketing team and an advance ready for you if you choose to sign with them. Otherwise, it’s a scam. Period, end of story. There are lots of scams out there, claiming to be traditional publishers, when in reality they’re either lying or they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Maybe one day I’ll post on the pro’s and con’s of traditional publishing, but that’s another blog for another day.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer

Ever had someone find out you’re a writer, just to say something absolutely stupid, irritating, or rude in response? Believe it or not, it’s a lot more common than you think. There’s probably 50+ things you should never say to a writer. For today’s blog, I’ll narrow it down to ten of the worst things you could ever say to a writer. Period, end of story.

#1, I wish I had time to write.

I don’t have time to write. I make time to write. If you’re too lazy to make the time, then you clearly don’t wish for the time after all, eh?

#2, I have an idea for a book! You write it, and we’ll split the profit 50/50.

This one is particularly annoying, having had this one said to me personally. The problem with this one is manifold. First of all, I have my own stories to worry about writing. But let’s set aside that fact and the fact that a story from a non-writer is unlikely ever to be published. If the idea was worth my time, I wouldn’t be putting in 50% of the work. I’d have to write the book, then I’d have edit it, then send it to a professional editor, then more edits on top of that…. Do you get it? A simple idea is not worth that much time and effort for 50% of the profit. That’s 95% of the work at least, meaning I better be getting well over 50% of the author royalties.

#3, Can I have a free copy of your book?

Not if I want to do this full-time. Authors need this little thing called food, rent money, and various things like that. If I were to give away free copies, I’d live in my parents’ basement forever.

#4, You won’t let me read your book? @$$hole!

If a project isn’t ready, it isn’t ready. I don’t become a jerk just because my book is in the early stages of it’s development, and if you can’t accept that, go screw yourself.

#5, Can you base a character off me?

No.

#6, But what’s your real job?

Unless you want a knife in your back, never say this to a writer. People don’t ask this question when they find out someone plays basketball or disk golf, so why writing? It’s unfortunate that people treat writers like lazy, idealistic fools just for being creative, yet they never ask someone who plays ball when they’re going to join the NBA. This is what I like to call a double-standard.

#7, But there’s no money in books.

I write for fun, and to produce art. I’m not in this to get rich. We’re not all J.K. Rowling. If I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t have chosen to self-publish my books.

#8, You should write about this, not that.

The first amendment says I can, so kindly take that advice and shove it. Don’t ever tell a writer what he or she should write about. It’s rude, and nine times out of ten, you’re just plain wrong. You don’t know what I’m good at writing about. Who are you to judge?

#9, But what about your social life?

I’m perfectly happy without one, thank you very much. All I need is my writing, my family, and my woman. A social life is not important to me at all.

#10, What’s your book about?

This is my least favorite thing to be asked. If the book is published, you can find it online. If it’s not published, it’s not ready for the world quite yet. I’m not going to bother giving you an oral synopsis just to make you happy. If you’re really curious, either buy the book and read it or shut your freakin’ mouth. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and it’s not my fault you’re not willing to wait to find out.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

On Writing: Kingslayer, A Novel by Napoleon Lovecraft

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I recently completed my novel Kingslayer. And to be honest, this was a major step in my career as a writer. I can barely remember the days before I started working on this project, primarily because I’ve been working on it for over ten years. It’s been a lot of work, mainly because this book has been the project that taught me how to be a writer. And when I say that, I really mean it.

Not a day goes by in which I don’t think of the characters, which is likely to continue even though I’m moving on to other projects. I hope some of you will grow to enjoy reading this book just like I enjoyed writing it. Some will not, which comes with the territory of writing high fantasy (or sword and sorcery), but that’s okay considering what my goals for this project are. But now that I’ve revealed what kind of book it is, let’s get into the nitty-gritty about how the novel is set apart from other books in the same genre. There are three things that really stand out: it’s told in first person, it does not have medieval-level technology, and most importantly, there are dozens and dozens of footnotes in the book.

First Person POV

This isn’t too revolutionary, though as anyone who is well-read in the fantasy genre could tell you, first person point of view is something that never happens in high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is written in third person, as is Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire. But the truth is (in regards to writing in first person), I wasn’t trying to be unique. I was simply trying to write the best story I could, and third person POV just wasn’t working out.

The Technology

This high fantasy has guns, airships, locomotives, pocket watches, and bionic arms. I personally think of the tech being a little steampunk-ish, but that’s open to interpretation. One thing that isn’t up to the reader, however, is the fact that the world I’m writing about isn’t medieval Europe. Think more industrial revolution plus magical world, and you may be getting close.

Lots and Lots of Footnotes

This is a bit of an oddity in fiction, particularly the kind I’m writing. There are a couple famous books with them (including Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke), but none that really stand out to most readers. The truth is, I fell in love with the idea of using footnotes in fiction, which to some may seem a bit nerdy, but it’s the type of art I wanted to produce. With a single viewpoint character, I was limited on what I could do with the book. The footnotes solved that problem. They provided “historical” records of battles that take place, plus simple definitions of made up words and terms, not to mention the fact that they helped me insert incantations and descriptions of spells that are being cast by wizards or magic-savvy characters. The bottom line: they helped me tell a story in a very unique way, and honestly, I’ve never seen a high fantasy written this way before. It’s something I’m truly proud of.

I’ve yet to release a plot description or a cover (which should not be a surprise, considering neither have been put together yet), but I will post updates on Twitter as time passes.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Weird Things Writers Do

Assuming that all of the readers of this blog are writers like me, we all do things that those “normal people” consider strange in one way or another. Perhaps you cannot focus without your favorite snack by your side or you let your entire social life fall apart. Nonetheless, us writers are an unusual group of weirdos. So I figured, today’s blog should be a list of some of the most common, strange habits that writers tend to pick up.

Talking to Yourself

This one is likely a common thing that everyone does, whether they want to admit it or not, but it gets even stranger when you write fiction. Ever spoken to yourself as if you were talking to one of your characters? Yeah… me too.

Things Start to Get Smelly

 

Needless to say, writers tend to love getting stuck in a story. But have you ever gotten so busy writing your novel or short story that you forgot to shower, brush your teeth, eat, or change your clothes? Mhm… me too, and it’s something loved ones tend to point out, so avoid this one at all costs, especially if you don’t write as a full-time job.

Acting Out the Scene

Say you want to know how it sounds if you do one thing or another in your novel, so you decide to act it out. It’s actually more common than you might think. I do it, at least.

Different Sleep Pattern

Ever gotten a phone call at 11 a.m. and you’re sleeping because you were up till 4 in the morning, working on your novel? The truth is, creative people are a lot more productive at night, and this may seem outside the norm to those unfortunate “normal people.” Oh well….

Writing Drunk

This is a more famous one, since Edger Allen Poe supposedly got himself drunk and wrote his poetry and fiction while intoxicated. Some other writers do this, which is interesting to me. Personally, I’d never do it. But if that’s how you roll, who am I to stand in the way?

Scrambling to Protect the Computer Screen?

Ever had someone come up behind you and ask you what you’re working on, only for you to cover the screen and have them get offended? It likely has something to do with the fact that you’re drafting the project and it’s not ready to be read, but what do I know? I’m only the writer in the room.

Dropping What You’re Doing to Take Notes

If any writing habit is more common than the others, it’s this one. I can’t tell you how many writers have an idea for a story that comes out of nowhere. And from my understanding, it always results in them dropping what they’re doing to find something to write on. Nowadays, we have the iPhone with a notepad, but it wasn’t always like this. And as a writer, when inspiration strikes, remember that this one happens to all of us.

There’s likely a good 15-20 things I could post, but I’ll stop the list there. That’s it for now.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017