I’m writing the end. Gasp! It’s the END of the story I’ve spent the last six years writing. EEK! What to do! I wrote out several possible endings, even as far back as book two, but I’ve compiled this blog post to help other people who may be struggling with how to end their own novel or series. As far as I see it, there are several standard ways to end a story. What matters is the twist.
Visualizing your World using Sketches and Drawings to help create your Self-Published Story!
It’s almost the beginning of summer break, and I am totally ready to go! Buckling down and working on the novel & novellas this summer is going to be one tricky component. Now that I have two books out, I feel even more inspiration to keep writing.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was other people to think me an expert on writing! I got an email (to my school account, no less!) from one of my former students. This child is 10 years old, and already writing his own book about the Vikings. He sent me a good twenty pages or so of typed story. Now, as you might expect, it was full of your standard typos and inconsistencies. So what did I tell him to do?
I told him to sketch out his story.
I’m not an amazing illustrator, but I am a very visual person. I can write something much better if I doodle or sketch it out beforehand. Think about all the benefits that creating a visual plan or representation of your story can bring!
First, it can bring perspective. Writing is all about being able to accurately describe what is happening to your readers. Many of our favorite writers are able to write about and build their worlds with beautiful prose and writing. However, it helps to have a blueprint, so-to-speak.
Second, you can create additional parts of the story – for example, as you’ll notice from these sketch I’ve created for Antioch Burns, that there is a battle in the story. In the past, I’ve written primarily from the point of someone in the thick of battle. But drawing this picture helped me to rearrange my plan and adjust what I was going to do.
Finally, doodling or sketching can help you sequence and organize events in the story. I know some writer buddies of mine who draw an illustration for every chapter. It’s easy to rearrange if you discover the story has a week point or doesn’t make sense in the current order.
Hope that helps you all! I know doodling helps me (It’s also good to pass time when you are bored in staff meetings!) P.S. Don’t forget to check out Brass Legionnaire and Copper Centurion. Just got some great new reviews! (5 and 4 star!) There’s even one from France (on amazon.co.uk)
An introduction on How to Successfully run a Kickstarter campaign.
I figured I should type this up since I may be asked to give a talk on it at next year’s EPICon Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Hopefully this post will help those of you interested in creating a successful crowd-sourced funding drive. One of the most common places to do this is on Kickstarter (Sample Link provided), but other commonly used sites are Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. There are many others, but Kickstarter is currently one of the largest.
So what do you need to know before starting out on Kickstarter? First, know the rules. You are not getting free money, and you are not guaranteed success. Just like you have to market your novel, product, business, etc, you also have to market your Kickstarter. Kickstarter is great for novels because you have something tangible to offer people when completed. Kickstarter funds can be used to help cut the cost of certain parts of the publishing process for self-published authors, or to provide additional monies for marketing, development, etc for both self-pub and small pub authors.
Before you start a Kickstarter Campaign, it is critical to do your research.
Look at other, successfully funded books on Kickstarter. What do they do? I can point out a few signs that generally signal a kickstarter will be successful.
They have a video OR incredibly gorgeous artwork at the top of the page.
They have a wide variety of rewards, including those starting at just $5.
They consistently provide updates and check/reply to comments posted by people.
They promote their kickstarter to friends, family, twitter/facebook followers, on goodreads, etc.
They don’t ask for too much in the beginning.
“But Daniel, my book cost me about 2k to edit! Shouldn’t I ask for all of that?”
Sure, if you want to fail right away and get nothing. (This may not be true as you will soon see). For self-pub authors, smaller amounts are better, especially if you are a debut author. For my first novel, I was truly blessed because my aunt helped out. A lot. But by the time I ran my second one, I had both followers, supporters, and fans who I could turn to. This is the caveat I wrote about earlier. IF you have a wide backing of support, including people clamoring for your next novel (Not one person, but many), then you can get away with asking for slightly more. I would say the best range to stay in is the 1k-2k range.
Creating a great title is important too. That’s what people will see first and what will grab them. Brass Legionnaire doesn’t tell people anything about what I’m doing. Copper Centurion – the 2nd Roman Steampunk Adventure does tell people what I’m doing.
Finally, justify your costs. What will the money provide? I described how I originally wanted to fund the novel with just my own money, but wanted kickstarter funds to make it better. I shared how I wanted more maps, more artwork, and additional promotional materials. And people understood.
I’ll end there for today. Hope to bring more to you very soon this week!
By the way, just to let you all know, I’ve finished Roma Aeronautica. Now I suppose it is time to start typing Iron Tribune!
A new Kickstarter Campaign has been launched for Copper Centurion! Take a moment to read more and consider contributing to my second novel!
It is with great excitement that I launch my second Kickstarter campaign, aimed at helping me fund book two of the Steam Empire Series, Copper Centurion. There’s some awesome rewards up for contributing, and I’ve really thought hard about what people would like to see from me as a reward.
To be blunt, at first I really did not want to use Kickstarter. I’d gotten help on the first novel, and wanted to really pay off all my followers by doing it all on my own. But the truth is, I need your help. A lot has changed in the past year for me, and the funding from Kickstarter will truly help improve the overall design, formatting, and feel of the novel. The cover art is already in progress, as is the editing, so the timing here is critical.
The funding will help defray the costs of editing, formatting, artwork. With Kickstarter money, I can add more illustrations and maps to the final novel. I can also focus my time on typing up short stories for the rewards! With my last book, I raised about half the cost of the novel through Kickstarter. I’ve lowered it to just 1/3 this go around. So take a moment to consider a donation. The campaign runs through February 10th, so check it out!
Thanks again so much for your continued support. I truly appreciate it. You have helped me bring my dream to life, so thanks, for everything.
In case you were wondering how a full time teacher manages to write, here’s a quick look inside my writing time.
Greetings all, and thanks for checking back in. I know it’s been a rather warm summer, and I just got back from a two week vacation/moving out party for my brother, who has been studying abroad in Tokyo for the last year.
Needless to say, two weeks in a country where you don’t speak the language can be both terrifying and enlightening. Just depends on whether you ordered the right food or not! (s’cuse me, I did not order the live squid with red bean paste filling, I ordered that eggy looking thing over there…. oh, that’s sea urchin ovaries? no thanks, I’ll have the rice.) Anyways, I thought that the ‘where and how I like to write’ post would be best done right now, as it’s a wonderfully quick and easy posting. Simply put, I write everywhere when I can and as much as I can – being a full time teacher during the school year, you can’t be picky, although I do tend to prefer weekends. I don’t normally set a word count per day, but a general ‘be at this many pages by such and such date’ instead.
Not specific enough for you?
Okay, I start by outlining my book in a journal/notebook that I picked up from Barnes and Noble. I find it slightly funny that something from B&N gave birth to something that is now carried in their online store. Usually I do a ‘whole book in one page’ type thing, then I go chapter by chapter. I know some authors do a lot of outlining. Outline this story arch or that. I can’t do that, nor do I have the patience to do that. I’ve done much of it in my head already. Did I mention that I tend to like writing late at night, with some dramatic music on? Personal favorites are from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack or other classical musical masterpieces. Although a few modern hits do show up from time to time. Hopefully my neighbors don’t think I’m slightly insane!
Once I’ve outlined the chapters, I type them up. Sometimes I’ll refer back to my notes and sometimes I won’t. I’m fortunate enough to own both a mega desktop mac and a smaller laptop, so I took the laptop on my vacation and discovered that train rides are an AWESOME time to get stuff done. Between five airline flights, and probably a dozen train trips, I added around 10,000 words to Copper Centurion. I also sketched out the entire book in my notebook. You see, sometimes I’ll only outline the first half, then wait until I reach that point to continue the rest. I’m constantly tweaking and changing my story arcs. While the trains and planes may be loud, its loud white noise, not talking and cell phones, so I can concentrate. Otherwise, I need the music or silence to really focus on whats going onto the page.
After I finish writing this time, it’s off to the beta testers. I’ve been a lot busier this summer (even without a full time job) so I’m still only about halfway through CC, whereas last year I had finished Brass Legionnaire by this time. Goal is to finish it by end of October, and then let my beta readers have at it all of November. If you’re interested, PLEASE let me know, the more the merrier!
Oh, and I’ll be posting some lovely photos of the new digs later on for your voyeuristic enjoyment. But only if you are nice!
How to learn from my Self Publishing Experience in just five steps. (part one!)
‘If at first you don’t succeed, find a bigger gun.’
Hello everyone! For this weekend’s post, I’d like to talk a bit about what I learned about self-publishing in the last few days, weeks, and months. I’ve broken it down into five steps to spare you hours of reading (Just kidding!). So, here goes.
1.) You are not alone – Writing can be a very solitary pursuit. After all, it used to be done in the quiet comfort of a nice, book-lined study by a gentleman using a quill, some parchment, and a boatload of ink and blotting sand. I’m not sure if the current upgrade to person & computer is better or worse.
The point is, you only write in isolation if that is what you choose. There are a myriad of resources out there for aspiring writers. From Goodreads groups to writing circles, to author blogs (like this one!) self-publishing websites, and so on and so forth. The biggest key is you can’t be embarrassed by the fact that you are writing. We were all novices at some point (Or still are).
2. Beta Read before you Copy Edit – Yes, you need to have your friends, co-workers, or random volunteers read your novel before you send it to the copy editor. This is one thing I did not do, and I kick myself in the head for it all the time. Fortunately, I had an awesome editor who was able to catch those mistakes – even very basic ones – a la ‘whose name goes where after a title?’.
If you wait until after the copy edit, then you face not only reshuffling parts of your story, but also then having to copy edit the parts you moved around and rewrote. Lesson Learned – Find some friends, order pizza (or promise them a published copy of the book!) and have them read it. Give them nice big pens and have them mention everything – something doesn’t sound right, wasn’t so and so injured last chapter? How is he now running? Even if you choose not to follow or fix what they discover, at least you know, and can make the fixes later if you chose so.
3. Plan Ahead – Before you publish, have a plan. Where are you going to publish? Just on Amazon? Will you go KDP Select? Or will you spread out and use Smashwords and Barnes & Noble? Do you want a paperback copy? Will you hire out the formatting? The cover art? Or will you go it alone? All are valid options that have their own pros and cons. Me, I value my time and sanity, so I’m willing to shell out money to have someone do that complicated part for me.
Also, something else that may also help – setting up an independent checking/savings account for your book profits/payments. It keeps things separate from your other money, and since you’ll need a direct deposit account available for most sites, I believe it’s a good investment.
EDIT: PART TWO IS POSTED HERE! READ ON FELLOW ROMANS!
Also, be sure to check out the winners’ of the Book Blog Signed Paperback Giveaway. I’ve already had one person contact me about the novel. If the other two winners don’t respond by the end of the week, I’ll have to draw from the pot again!