The Ins and Outs of Publishing, A Directory of Advice. #Writing #Author #Advice

Okay, so it looks like I’m still getting a lot of publishing questions. These are recurrent questions I get on a regular basis, and while I want to try to respond to everyone who reaches out to me, I don’t want my blog becoming redundant. So I think I’m going to repost this on a weekly basis from now on to help people navigate the publishing world. I don’t really see another way around it.

So if you have questions regarding publishing, PLEASE check below to see if any of this helps you before reaching out. I’m always happy to help, but I may have already answered your question.

Publishing is a tough road to navigate. Please check out the links below. These are previous posts I’ve made about the ins and outs of publishing. They should be of assistance in your journey:

Am I Ready To Publish? This is a must read BEFORE even considering starting the process. I can’t tell you how many authors burned bridges by not being ready.

Editing… There is a Cost That Must be Paid… or is There? You can skip this one if you’ve already had your writing edited (by someone other than you!). However, I’d still recommend reading.

Getting Published… the basics… In this post, we explore traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Here you’ll get the pros on cons of each and the steps you need to go through in order to be successful in either.

Finally…

Copyrighting my Writing. Am I Protected? This isn’t required reading… however, if you’re concerned about plagiarism, or in the future may need to file a copyright claim, I recommend giving it a read.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The only sage advice I can offer you other than the documents above is simple…

  1. Do not give up. A million “No’s” suddenly become irrelevant if you get that one “yes”.
  2. People will tell you that everyone and their mother wants to publish a book. You’re up against insurmountable odds and a flooded market. This is false. You’re not up against everyone and their mother. Permit me the luxury and I’ll prove this mathematically: First of all, take the entire group of people who want to get published. Now take that number and reduce it by roughly 60%. You just eliminated all the people who want to get something published, but don’t have the time, ability, drive, or inspiration to write. Next, eliminate another 20%. You’ve now taken down all the people who can put pen to paper but can’t afford the time/money to put the work into advertising and getting published. Eliminate another 10% who can’t take criticism and thus aren’t going to be able to get their writing properly edited. Now eliminate another 5% either don’t have the patience for or get discouraged by receiving a series of “No’s” from publishers.
    Now take that last 5% and eliminate all of them, except you. Why? Because they’re irrelevant. You have your writing and they have there’s. Whether or not you get published and how successful you are isn’t about other people’s writing. Yes, in the end, it’s you against one person, you. Whether or not I’ll ever get to buy your book off the shelf depends on you; how much time, effort, and funds you’re willing to put into your writing. So make it good!

Let’s open it up to the floor. Readers, do you have any publishing advice for our friend here? Let her know in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Writing Modern People in Fiction #Writing #Author #Advice

Hello, Jim–

I was wondering if you had any insight to offer on a dilemma I’m facing in a current novella draft:
The story is a blend of Alternate History and general scifi, set in a world where a much more aggressive Space Race and Cold War has led to the establishment of a joint USA-USSR colony on the Moon by the late 1990s, ostensibly as a neutral site for lunar and space experiments, as well as helium-three mining. Most of my characters are fictional, but many of the secondary ones are public figures, including real astronauts or other personnel involved in flight engineering and other aspects of space travel; some are deceased, while at least one is himself a published author. I am concerned about using such figures due to possible legal issues (which I am still unclear on, despite diligent searching and questions elsewhere), but I don’t want to go back and redesign the characters, which might involve scrapping the whole draft (something I’ve already done once before with this one). Do you have any suggestions on how to sort this out?
Sincerely,
Mark Ciccone

Hi Mark,

This is a tough one. On the surface, you can argue that they are real people being exposed to fictional situations, but that still won’t cover you. In the past, I’ve had people ask me about historical figures or past political ones. However, those people have always been deceased and you can’t libel a dead person. Now even then, you’re not free from legal challenge or public scrutiny, especially if that person has an estate and living relatives.
This is a complicated problem, especially if you’re going to to through the self-publishing realm. Again it would be easier if a publisher were involved because then a lot of the legalese is sorted out by them. However if you do self-pubish and even if you don’t, you could be getting yourself into trouble. This is ten-fold with self publishing as you PERSONALLY are responsible for any legal woes.
I have two suggestions for you and neither one is really going to be easy…
1. First, contact an attorney, let them guide you through the legalities here (I am not an expert, so I will tip my hat to their knowledge). I would also reach out to the people in question. Try to speak to them personally, let them know what you’re doing, and what you’re planning on using them for. Finally, get written authorization from these people. Again, this won’t be fool-proof protection, but in the case of a cease and desist or lawsuit, it will help your defense.
2. Change the characters. I’m afraid this is my recommendation.  Keep your characters as they are, but change the names and make them slightly less recognizable. I know it’s not what you want to do, but believe me, it is the easiest way to save yourself a headache down the line.
Like it or not, if you go with option one, no matter how much you insulate yourself, no matter how much you follow the letter of the law, there is virtually nothing preventing the people you write about from contacting their attorneys and issuing a cease and desist letter demanding that you cease production, destroy whatever copies you have, and send them whatever money you have made off of your book. You can fight this, but legal battles are not cheap and for authors who don’t make much money off of their books, it’s hardly worth the effort or risk. This is arguably the more lenient possibility.
The other could be a lawsuit for libel, which will be far more costly.
Now what are the chances that any of the people you write about ever reading your book or deciding to take legal action against you? Arguably, that’s very slim. The cost of legal action is often not worth whatever damages they get paid out, but you never know. Some might file the suit based on principle alone.
So in the end… I’m sorry, but I’m afraid my advice is to simply alter your characters enough that they aren’t exactly the people you’re trying to write about. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be better off in the long run when it comes to having to worry about losing your hard work or earned money.
However, as with always, that’s just my opinion. I’ve got a lot of other knowledgeable people amongst my followers, so let’s open it up to them as well.
Readers- what do you think Mark should do? Should he chance it, or should he simply go through the process of altering those characters?
Just a quick reminder, I am not a lawyer, not am I any sort of legal expert. I give out advice on writing based on my own experiences. When it comes to any legality, my advice is as it always has been; CONTACT A LAWYER!!!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Being Preachy Doesn’t Sell. #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim!

I’m hoping you can help me here as a lot of your posts have been about political ideologies making bad stories.

I want to write a fictional story with a moral and a political message, but upon rereading what I’ve already written, I’m worried about it being too preachy.  Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks!
Leah


Hi Leah,
Good question. Well to be honest, you’re already half way home. That you re-read your work and recognized this problem means that you’ve already got the tools to fix it.
First of all, this is just advice. Don’t think that you’re under obligation to heed any of the pointers I give you. This is YOUR story and if you like it the way it is, then you don’t owe anyone an explanation… you just have to worry about how it sells. That said, since you yourself are saying that it sounds too preachy, my guess is that you’re not entirely satisfied with it.
This is something that has been plaguing writers a lot recently, not only in books, but in movies, comics, as well as other mediums. Too often, they fall into the same trap, chasing the proverbial tail in the pursuit of the holy grail of diversity. They either hire politically motivated people who… aren’t always the best writers, or they pressure the good writers they have to the point where the focus is on political agenda over telling a good story. The entertainment aspect, which is what the industry they’re in is supposed to be about, takes a back seat. Audiences notice this, which is why so many of the movies that have gotten critical acclaim have suffered so badly at the box office.
This is especially damaging when you factor in political fatigue and a greater desire among audiences for escapism. When their favorite books, movies, sporting events, and even commercials are becoming sacrificial lambs on the alter of political narrative, they tend to clench their wallets even tighter, hoping for something that will allow them to get away from it all… even if the narrative is something they agree with.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a political agenda in your work, but if you’re in an industry where the expectation is that you’re supposed to entertain, than the message has to come secondary.
In my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about putting a political message in an entertainment piece. Let’s look at both, shall we?
The Wrong Way:
Presenting a character with a problem either similar to or identical to the one you want to present. Naming exact people in political office, etc. Presenting one side of the argument, put into context who’s right and who is wrong. The writer is basically spoon-feeding how a reader is supposed to think and paints everyone who doesn’t view things that way as evil.
The Right Way:
Create a hypothetical situation that is very similar to the one you want to address, or use fictional characters that are similar in nature. Show the good and the bad, but give the reasons for both. A good example of this would be the old comics that Stan Lee wrote. The original X-Men were supposed to be a narrative on the Holocaust and racism. However, he didn’t paint the people who wanted mutants to have to register and be persecuted necessarily as evil. He presented their argument as well; mutants could be dangerous, we see it. There is a reason to fear many of them.
So the moral here is to not try to control how your reader thinks. Present both arguments, as well as their context. Let the reader decide for themselves who is the moral right.
A good analogy would be a college classroom. The more engaging classes are when a professor presents a topic for debate and allows the students to weigh out both sides to come to a final moral decision.
The less engaging classes are when the professor puts everything into context, and essentially shuts down any chance of debate by saying that one side is right, while the other is not. The people on the ‘wrong’ side are understandably either going to shut down or get extremely defensive, and nothing is gained. Nothing positive is likely to be gained from that class and the students won’t remember it fondly.
So Leah, what to do with your story… I think that the best thing might be to scrap your first draft and start over. It might be easier than trying to go back and change everything wrong with the first draft if it’s that bad. When you start re-writing or editing remember, tell you story first, and make the political narrative secondary. You have to be able to tell a coherent, enjoyable story before you start worrying about a political message. Otherwise you’re going to disenfranchise your readers. Flesh out all the characters, including the ones you don’t agree with. Put yourself in their shoes and think about why they may have arrived at their conclusions of what is ‘right’.
Let your narrative flow through the story and trust your readers to have the intelligence to get the message you’re trying to convey. If you write a good story, there should be no need to come out and specifically tell them which side is right and which is wrong.
Anyway, I hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you need more help.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have any additional advice for Leah? Let her know in the comments!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Expert Consulting on Fantasy? #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I have a question maybe you can help with. I’m trying to write a fantasy novel dealing with biological warfare, but I don’t have a lot of scientific or medical knowledge. I don’t want it to sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I want to try to explain the mechanics of how certain things work in the book.
Example: I want to explain how a biological disease could, in theory, transform a person’s cells.  I’m not sure what to do here short of getting a degree in biology.
Thanks,
Mason

Hi Mason,
Thanks for reaching out. I believe what you’re trying to practice is a little something called ‘psuedo science’. It’s not always super important that it actually makes perfect sense, as most readers won’t care.
That being said, if you’re hoping to cater to an audience that is more knowledgeable on the subject,  I would say that you may want to reach out to an outside source. When I wrote Drakin, I wanted to explain how a Raiya’s biological makeup was physically possible… or at least make it sound like it could be possible under the right set of circumstances. How could someone exist with discolored hair, horns, scales, and reptilian eyes in our world:
Drakin-Cover-Poster-Final (1)
Fortunately, my network includes people in the healthcare industry, including a couple of microbiologists. I was able to give them a couple of hypotheticals surrounding my ideas and see if it at least sounded feasible. They gave me their feedback and I worked around it.
So the best advice I can give you here is to try and locate someone with an expertise in the field. If you can’t find the answers you need through your own personal research, then reaching out to an expert in the field would be the next move.
Readers, what do you think? Do you know of any other options Mason has? Let him know in the comments!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Is Spellcheck Enough? #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I’m sure you’ve answered this before, but I can’t find it in any of your recent posts. I finished my book and just finished running spell check. Everything looks good and the only things it says I still have to fix are grammar errors that are part of the dialogue. Is that sufficient for submitting it to publishers?
Thanks,
Michel


Hi Michel,
NO!!! Spell check is by no means good enough. It will fix some of the more glaring errors, so it is a great tool to use, but being 100% reliant on it is extremely ill-advised. Spell check won’t catch some of the more nuanced or complex grammatical errors.

Let me give you an example… This is something that I’ve run into.

Say you’re writing a paragraph in the past tense, but one sentence you just accidentally switched.

What you wrote:
The little boy wants the candy.

What you meant to write:
The little boy wanted the candy.Now, the first sentence isn’t going to make that much sense in context with the rest of the paragraph, but Spell check doesn’t look at context. It’ll look at the rest of the sentence, but that’s it. Because of this, it won’t catch the problem in that sentence.

That’s just one minor example… there are worse.

So what should you do? Re-read it three, maybe four times, and have other people take a critical eye to it. Find at least two unbiased sources to pick it apart and try to help you. Let them read it, critique it, and find the errors.

I hope this helps, please do yourself a favor and do not submit this until it’s ready.
Readers, what do you think? Is spell check good enough or do you agree? Do you have any advice for Michel? Let me know in the comments.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Endings: Memorable is More Important Than Happy or Sad. #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I’m getting ready to publish my first novel. I’ve finished the rough draft and have given it to an editor. They came back with a critique and it honestly got me thinking. He said that my ending may shut readers off because of how sad it is. I will admit that my story doesn’t end on a high note, but now I’m worried. Do you think I should re-write the story with a happy ending instead?
Thanks,
Lisa

Hi Lisa,

Let me first congratulate you. What an amazing accomplishment! Publishing your first book is no easy task. You’ve overcome so many hurdles and will soon join the ranks of many master storytellers who came before you! It’s both a rewarding and ominous feeling, putting your first book out there. I wish you nothing but the best from it.

Okay… now onto your specific question.

Lacking context, I can’t say that the editor is necessarily wrong. He may have thought it was a little too sad or dark? Perhaps his issue isn’t with the fact that it is sad, but maybe too sad for his liking?

I honestly can’t say as I don’t know him and I don’t know your story. So my advice is going to be somewhat generic. I think you should write what you want to write. I don’t know what your relationship is with your editor, but in most cases, you’re not required to take their advice. If he is the gateway to you getting published, then you may need to take a closer look at what he’s asking.

That being said, in my opinion, I don’t think you should rewrite your book with a happy ending. If your book was meant to have a sad ending and you’re satisfied with that, then you shouldn’t now change that. I honestly think fans reacting negatively to a sad ending is really a non-issue. Some of the best stories ever written ended on downers.

A good ending can make or break a story and the best endings aren’t always the happy ending. In the past, I’ve had the same problem. Think about it, which ending is more powerful…

  1. A character that has made all the wrong decisions throughout their life, finally, at the end, realizes the error of their ways, and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the people he cares about.
  2. A character that has made all the wrong decisions throughout their life, finally makes a good one, and get’s to live out the rest of their lives in peace.

I would say honestly, the first one has a lot more weight and power to it. The reason for this is because of the sense of permanence pertaining to the sacrifice that character made. It’s also the importance of what the character did in this case.

These are very important factors to consider because an ending can make or break your story. You can have a happy ending that gives people a sense of satisfaction and leaves them with a good warm feeling, but then you can also have one that feels fairly like a run-of-the-mill ‘happily ever after’ tale.

On the other side of the coin, you can have a story that plays with your audience’s expectations. Imagine the emotional roller coaster if they aren’t expecting a character to die or for the story to end on a low note. If you do it right, that could easily be the most memorable thing you could do for your story. However you can also run the risk of upsetting audiences that are invested in the characters. It’s a big risk, but one that’s worth taking in my mind.

When I write my endings, I always remember one rule; make it memorable. It doesn’t matter if it’s happy or sad, it just has to be something that leaves an impact. Whenever I write, if I think my ending is turning into a generic ‘happily ever after’ one, I tear it up and start over.

So in the end, mind what your editor says, look at what he’s talking about, and consider his words. However, write what you want. If you think your sad ending is going to leave the most impact, then keep it as it is. Audiences are rarely turned off by an ending that is sad, as long as it’s a good ending.

So that’s my advice, but I’m going to turn it over to my readers. What does everyone else think? Do you have advice for Lisa here? Let her know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Character Creation, The How To #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I’ve been working on my story for a while, but am having trouble coming up with new characters. I was wondering if you had any advice about how you create yours? By the way, I am a huge fan of Vlad from Soul Siphon. I love how you made him a salty old Soviet Commie!
Thanks,
Ty

Hi Ty,

 

Glad you liked Soul Siphon. Thanks for your support. So character creation is always a tricky subject. How do you create new and interesting characters that are relatable.

Personally, for a while I just created blank slate characters and just have them grow as they react to different situations. This… worked for a little while, but honestly the characters were quickly coming out all with similar personalities. It became apparent that I had to try something else.

So in a few cases, I started creating characters that were similar to people I’ve encountered in my life. I tried to emulate people I liked in certain roles and people I didn’t in others. That worked for a while, but you have to be very careful. You don’t want to make it too obvious who you’re writing about… especially if you plan on killing off the character.

When I write about people from history like Mary Kelly, I do as much research as I can into their historical persona and build a personality for them based on their documented decisions and behaviors. This is actually really fun. Researching history is something I’ve always found incredibly rewarding. The result with Mary Kelly was a very dynamic character with over 100 years of bitterness and righteous anger to her name.

After a while, I decided to start creating characters with generic backstories and save them for future use. Jagger (Drakin), Vlad (Soul Siphon), Raiya (Drakin), and Andrea (Drakin), were all generic characters that I added more in depth back stories to and had them react to the situations as they came up. The story then began to grow around how these characters reacted to their situations.

So in the end… I really haven’t created new characters in a while. I have a whole library of generic characters saved and ready to go in whatever I start writing next. It’s not a bad way to go about writing.

I hope this helps. Readers, how do you create characters in your stories? Do you have any advice for Ty? Let them know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Social Commentary/Political Agenda in Writing, The Good and Bad. #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I’ve been reading through some of your posts regarding avoiding politics, and escapism in entertainment. You seem to be extremely anti-politics in your advice. You use Marvel Comics and others as your primary example, but you do realize that they have always been political, right? Most of the mediums and genres you’ve addressed have historically been political. So I’m not really sure what your gripe with them is.
Thanks,
Wil

Hi Wil,

 

You’re absolutely right, most of these stories have a moral/political message/social commentary, etc. Admittedly, it’s next to impossible to avoid in stories. Even if you don’t intend for your story to have any sort of message like that, one could be drawn from it.

When I first published my YA series Magnifica , I started getting emails from people who wanted to comment on my ‘handling of racial discrimination and bigotry’. I actually got a lot of positive feedback on how Lia’na was treated in modern society, which I was surprised about.
All this time, I’m sitting there scratching my head like, “That… wasn’t really the intention. Elves have traditionally been bashed, badmouthed, and mistreated by other species around them. I just put a modern slant on it.”
However, that’s what my audience drew from it.

So let me address your specific criticisms. You are absolutely correct on all counts that each of those mediums have inserted social commentary or political message into their writing. That being said, I invite you to pick up a copy of something like Mockingbird, or some of the newer X-Men and compare them to the original… even just go back to the early 80s during the Chris Claremont age.

Do you see a difference? The key to putting a message into your story is to do it in a way where the story doesn’t take a back seat to the message. If you write just for the sake of delivering a political message, nine times out of ten, you’re going to either bore or disenfranchise your audience. Yes, there are some writers that have successfully pulled this off, but a broken clock is right twice a day. That’s the exception, not the rule.

The difference we see is that when Claremont or Lee wrote their stories, they were aware of the message that they wanted to convey, but they also respected their audience’s intelligence. Not only did they show their perspective, but they demonstrated an understanding of the other perspectives as well. In the case of the X-Men, you saw how hatred and segregation affected mutants, you understood not only Professor Xavier’s position, but also Magneto’s. You understand both their philosophies, and it’s honestly sometimes to take a side.

On the other side of the coin, you’re also presented with understanding of why people fear mutants. You can sympathize with, understand, and even make the case for why they feel the way they do, even if you don’t agree with it. What’s more, when we start seeing projections of the future and the seemingly unavoidable wars that break out, the writers almost make the case that Professor X’s beliefs and goals may be little more than a pipe dream. In other words, the writers acknowledge the flaws in their own beliefs.

Now take that and compare it to what we see these days. Writers for movies, comics, and normal literature have decided in many cases that hammering in a political narrative is more important than telling a good story. They’ve done everything from breaking the fourth wall, to stopping stories just to have a character get on a soap box, to insulting the intelligence of their audience, to flat out drawing a line and saying that anyone who doesn’t agree with their… increasingly narrow view is the spawn of Satan (literally in a few cases).

This is not how you attract an audience, it’s not how you keep an audience, and it’s certainly not an advisable way to get your name in print. I cancelled my subscription to some of these comics because, while I agree with some (emphasis here) of the messages they’re trying to deliver, I felt like I was being talked down to and condescended. You can really sense the cynicism in some of their writings.

So Wil, I hope I answered your question. I’m not against having a moral or political agenda in a story or medium. I am, however, very much so against the way people are going about it. We’ve seen a lot of comic writers come out and bash fans saying that they don’t work for us… and yes, that’s true… you’re free to write whatever you want… but being disrespectful, condescending, and showing little understanding or tolerance of those who disagree with you, is a good way of insuring your unemployment or solidifying your status as a ‘starving artist’ for the foreseeable future.

Readers, what do you think? Leave your comments below!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Ins and Outs of Publishing, A Directory of Advice. #Writing #Author #Advice

Okay, so it looks like I’m still getting a lot of publishing questions. These are recurrent questions I get on a regular basis, and while I want to try to respond to everyone who reaches out to me, I don’t want my blog becoming redundant. So I think I’m going to repost this on a weekly basis from now on to help people navigate the publishing world. I don’t really see another way around it.

So if you have questions regarding publishing, PLEASE check below to see if any of this helps you before reaching out. I’m always happy to help, but I may have already answered your question.

Publishing is a tough road to navigate. Please check out the links below. These are previous posts I’ve made about the ins and outs of publishing. They should be of assistance in your journey:

Am I Ready To Publish? This is a must read BEFORE even considering starting the process. I can’t tell you how many authors burned bridges by not being ready.

Editing… There is a Cost That Must be Paid… or is There? You can skip this one if you’ve already had your writing edited (by someone other than you!). However, I’d still recommend reading.

Getting Published… the basics… In this post, we explore traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Here you’ll get the pros on cons of each and the steps you need to go through in order to be successful in either.

Finally…

Copyrighting my Writing. Am I Protected? This isn’t required reading… however, if you’re concerned about plagiarism, or in the future may need to file a copyright claim, I recommend giving it a read.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The only sage advice I can offer you other than the documents above is simple…

  1. Do not give up. A million “No’s” suddenly become irrelevant if you get that one “yes”.
  2. People will tell you that everyone and their mother wants to publish a book. You’re up against insurmountable odds and a flooded market. This is false. You’re not up against everyone and their mother. Permit me the luxury and I’ll prove this mathematically: First of all, take the entire group of people who want to get published. Now take that number and reduce it by roughly 60%. You just eliminated all the people who want to get something published, but don’t have the time, ability, drive, or inspiration to write. Next, eliminate another 20%. You’ve now taken down all the people who can put pen to paper but can’t afford the time/money to put the work into advertising and getting published. Eliminate another 10% who can’t take criticism and thus aren’t going to be able to get their writing properly edited. Now eliminate another 5% either don’t have the patience for or get discouraged by receiving a series of “No’s” from publishers.
    Now take that last 5% and eliminate all of them, except you. Why? Because they’re irrelevant. You have your writing and they have there’s. Whether or not you get published and how successful you are isn’t about other people’s writing. Yes, in the end, it’s you against one person, you. Whether or not I’ll ever get to buy your book off the shelf depends on you; how much time, effort, and funds you’re willing to put into your writing. So make it good!

Let’s open it up to the floor. Readers, do you have any publishing advice for our friend here? Let her know in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Phoenix Effect: After Being Burned by Bad Reviews #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,
I’m really upset about the feedback one of my book has been getting. For the most part, the reviews have been constructive, but they’ve mostly been negative. The book in question is a sequel to one that got a lot of positive reviews. The story had a great following, but now I’m afraid the sequel may have ruined it. I was really hoping to turn this into an ongoing series, but now I’m worried that if I try to publish another sequel, no one will want to read it. Do you think I should abandon the series?
Thanks,
(Confidential by request)

Hi there,

Oh boy, that’s a tough one. My sympathies on the negative reviews, they’re always tough to get through. Fortunately for you, it seems like most of them are genuinely trying to help by providing you constructive criticism instead of your run-of-the-mill “This Sucks!” or “The Author Needs To Stop!” and so on.

At the same time though, the reviews with constructive and legitimate criticism are next to impossible to ignore, and I wouldn’t recommend ignoring them either. It’s a bit of a balancing act that you have to perform. On one side, write how YOU want to write. You don’t owe your audience anything on characters and stories you created. On the other hand, you have to remember that audiences vote with their wallets. So if you’re hoping to actually be able to sell the book, you do need to at least reflect on said criticisms.

For starters, I would read through them, find some recurrent themes. What are the major complaints about the story that people didn’t like? Did you do something that didn’t make sense? Is there a major plothole, or did the story simply take a direction that the audiences didn’t like?

When you figure out what the pattern of negativity is, you can go from there. Write down the primary complaints, keep them in your mind and then go back over your thought processes, experiences, and feelings when you were writing that book. Try to pinpoint what made you take the directions you did and where your inspiration came from.

Then you have to decide where to go next;

  1. You can invalidate the previous book. To do this, you need to retcon what happened in the previous book, but then have your characters find a way to undo whatever happened (time travel is usually a pretty good way of handling this), or you can do what Roseanne did and make the previous story a figment of someone’s imagination or something like that. There are some creative ways of doing this… but I don’t recommend it. This is a pretty shallow way of handling the problem and it’s something audiences can see right through.
  2. Stay the course. If you think you’ve got a solid story and that bad novel was pretty much just a way to bridge two good stories, then you have the option of weathering the criticism and pressing forward. I’d recommend a press release in this case. Actually tell your audience. A few simple words for example:
    “Okay everyone, I wanted to address the negative feedback I’ve been getting. I know a lot of you are concerned… look, all I ask is that you give the next book a chance. I promise that this whole thing is going somewhere and hopefully you’ll like where we end up. That’s all I can ask.”
  3. Change direction. Look at the criticism, see where things went off the rails for your audience and turn it around. Find ways to restore certain characters who were altered or end plot points that people didn’t like.

I wouldn’t worry about audiences not buying the book. The thing about readers is that they tend to be very forgiving, especially if everything ends well. In the end, you’re the only one who can decide which way to take the story. It’s your story and it’s entirely up to you.
If you think about it the right way, this could actually work out pretty well for you. Your story took a beating, crashed and burned, it disappointed your audiences and crashed and burned. Now imagine if it rises from the ashes and surprises everyone by being awesome? You play with their emotions and their lack of expectations make them love the story even more. I call it the Phoenix Effect. Your story went from being good, to crashing and burning, yet out of the ashes it is reborn more radiant than it started.

Anyway, I hope this helps you in some way. Hopefully you have a little perspective on where to take your story next.

Readers, do you have any advice? Let us know in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim