How much should I advertise before My book is complete? #Advice #Writing #Literature #Fiction #Nonfiction #Rebranding

I just discovered your blog because you “liked” my poem. I have previously self-published short stories and had a couple of short stories published in literary journals. I am re-branding myself and “relaunching” myself so to speak into the literary world.
Am I able to mention these other short stories to potential agents if I published them under a different pseudonym?
Also, I want to generate some buzz about the novel I’m working on, but if I end up getting an agent and getting published and things change, I don’t want to deceive people (i.e. teasers, celebrities I’d like to play my characters, general marketing tactics). So do I just avoid talking about what I’m working on in the meantime?
Thanks in advance. Your blog is very helpful for a new author!

Hi Isabelle,
As long as you can verify that you are the person using that pseudonym, I don’t see a problem with that. Why shouldn’t you mention them? That’s part of your resume! Just be sure to provide documentation that you are the same person, otherwise you may get a literary agent scratching their heads.
On the other hand, typically when people try to update their brand, they often try to pull away from their old look. So it’s really up to you there. I personally don’t see an issue with it.
As for advertising your book before it’s done… vagueness is key. For my stories, I typically let people know that a new book is coming out and give a very brief idea of what the plot is about, usually one to two lines. I don’t go into great detail because things change. I answer a few standard FAQs and then say stay tuned. I tend not to give much more of an update regarding plot until the book is going through editing once it’s been completed. Even then, I limit the amount I tell.
Anyway, I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!


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

Are Villains Necessary? #Advice #Writing #Literature #Fiction #Nonfiction

I’ve actually heard debates about this quite often. Do you need a philosophical ‘bad guy’ in a story in order to create a working plot and tell a story?

The answer is, simply put, it’s complicated.

Let’s think about this for a moment, does every story need a Maleficent? Do they need, at the very least, a one-dimensional villain with little to no backstory to overcome? To that, I said no, not really. We see plenty of stories where that is simply not the case. Honestly, making Hans in Frozen a ‘surprise’ villain right at the end was not only unnecessary, but detrimental to the plot.

Let’s explore that for a second. If you remove Hans’s subplot, what’s lost from the story, anything? If you think about it, Anna and Elsa already had a villain to overcome; their awful parents.
The poor, albiet well-intentioned, parenting of Arendale’s rulers left Anna desperate for attention to the point where she ‘falls in love’ with the first guy she talks to for more than a minute, and left Elsa a complete recluse who was scared of herself and unable to control her temper after years of bundling her emotions. The two princesses already had to overcome what their parents had done. Hans being a bad guy was completely unnecessary to the plot and actually somewhat unbelievable, given his behavior during the rest of the story.

So in that way, I guess you could technically say, no. You don’t need a villain, however you do need some kind of antagonistic plot point that the villain usually fills. You need to give them something to struggle against or at least overcome, because if you don’t… you really don’t have a story at all.

So what do you all think? Is having a villain or antagonistic plot point necessary to a story? Let me know!



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

Revisiting Dead Works#Advice #Writing #Literature #Fiction #Nonfiction

Hi Jim,

I have a whole library of stories that I’ve never been able to finish or I didn’t think I wanted to publish. I spent a great deal of time on them and every time I look at them, I feel like it was completely wasted. Sometimes I’ll go back and write a few more lines or make edits. Should I try to finish these or just delete them so they don’t continue to bother me?

Thanks,
Melynda


Hi Melynda,

It’s a good question… sadly, I don’t really have an answer for you. Truth be told, I have a rather large library of unfinished works, the best of which I’ve posted on this blog in the past. They range from sequels, to prequels, to stand alone novels, to… yes, I actually tried this… the score to a Musical… Before anyone asks, no, that will NEVER see the light of day.

One thing I will say is that I don’t look at those works as a waste. Nothing a person creates with their own two hands is EVER a waste of time. (Quote me on that!) Likely those books gave you characters you could use elsewhere, If not, consider trying it. Believe it or not, one of my early characters, General Xaphine, was a hold over character from a Star Wars fan fic I had written. I changed her name and turned her powers from Sith to Demon, but the character’s personality and appearance were still very much the same… minus her wings.

It really is up to you. If these books are blocking you from writing new stories, then by all means delete them. However, you may be able to use them as a template for scenes, themes, or characters, in other books. Think about it, look through those books one more time, and make your choice.

Either way, I’m sure it will be for the best. Hope this helps!



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

STOP Blaming the Audience #Writing #Author #Advice #Movies #BirdsofPrey

So this is going to be an op-ed more than an advice piece, so feel free to skip if you’re not up for that.

Recently in Hollywood, the Comic Book world, and even the literary world, we’ve seen a trend where a new piece of material is put out and bombs. Instead of going back to writer’s table to figure out what went wrong, doing any sort of soul searching, or asking the question why, we see the creators do one of two things… either A, throw a temper tantrum online, or B, Insult/Blame/Slander their audience.

I cannot say this enough, STOP IT! This is not going to solve anything except push people away form you and your work!

We first really started to see this trend with Ghostbusters 2016 where literally anyone who said the film wasn’t good, myself included, was slandered as woman-hating. You literally had Melissa McCarthy go on TV and mock people who took issue with the trailer of Ghostbusters as basement dwelling man-babies.

This trend has continued with everything from DC and Marvel, to various Hollywood titles, even to video games.

Full disclosure, all I said about Ghostbuster 2016 was that the CGI looked like something out of Eddie Murphy’s haunted mansion and I didn’t care for Melissa McCarthy’s brand of comedy as she always seemed to play the same loud, crass, woman in every role. If that’s sexism… people pushing for traditional gender roles must make heads explode.

Anyway, I recently came across an article talking about one of the new Punisher’s creators doing exactly what I said above…

Capture

Okay, for the record, I’m sure that there are some people who are guilty of what they’re saying, lord knows there were a some during the GB2016 controversy too, but is that really the majority? That strains credulity at best. This is coming from someone who writes strong female leads in most of his stories, get’s fan mail from predominantly male readers, and even get’s angry responses from said males when I kill off one of those characters…

(Seriously people, I loved Qira too, but it was her time to go!)

Look, I understand if these are passion projects for you that you take personally, but if that’s the case, you need to understand that few people hold the exact same values as you do, not everyone is going to like what you do, and most importantly not everyone has the same goals. While you might want to send a political message, many people just go to the movies to see something they enjoy and experience a good story FOR PLEASURE! If they didn’t get what they wanted from your work, that doesn’t make them hateful people in general.

I actually get questions from readers on this subject from time to time as well asking me why their audience wouldn’t accept or like a character, why they were a bunch of sexists, etc.

I refuse to post those here because I don’t feel it’s appropriate, nor will I shame anyone who emails me asking for help. Instead, my response to them is always the same thing…

If you get comments from people that are hateful, do one of two things;

  1. Report them.
  2. Ignore them.

You should not engage with them or let them know that they bothered you because all that does is give them power to continue doing it. You won’t help your cause that way or take the intellectual high ground by wasting brainpower on those types of people.

The other thing you should ABSOLUTELY never ever do is assume that this is the majority of your base (it’s not) and make blanket statements about them. You want to lose your reader base? Call them all sexist/racist/homophobic or whatever else is in your playbook. That is a sure fire way to keep not only people who aren’t in your ideological camp away, but the majority of people in general.

Somewhere out there, I guarantee you that there are people out there who read what Gerry wrote and thought, “Well… I don’t think I want to look through any of this guy’s work. He sounds kind of angry and I don’t want to be called something that could badly damage my reputation and career if I don’t like his work.”

That’s certainly my attitude when it comes to any medium, but I try to stay out of whatever this culture war is that we currently have going on.

Look, I don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’ll just put it plainly. If you are unable to handle criticism or failure, and/or convince yourself that you are never wrong, perhaps the writing world isn’t the place for you. We all have our flops and some critics who don’t like what we write or how we write it and that’s fine. It doesn’t give us the high ground to go around erroneous and irresponsible accusations like that. We take the criticism, learn from it, grow from it, or ignore it. That’s called being an adult and wanting to keep an audience who enjoys the things we write.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents. People, don’t insult your audience. It will only hurt YOU in the end and it’s really a childish way of handling things. I personally hope people like this and those that have emailed me learn that before it’s too late and I mean that genuinely. I hate to see talent get overshadowed by this kind of thing.

YOU CANNOT SHAME PEOPLE INTO LIKING YOUR PROJECT!!!

Please share this around, there are too many people who need to read this…



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

Ending Importance or Lack Thereof #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,

You write a lot about endings and how important they are. I’m currently part of the way through my first book and was actually thinking about some of your advice. You seem to put a lot of stock in the ending, and I mean to the point where it’s the most important element to the story. I’m reminded of saying ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts’. I was actually wondering if you could explain a little more your thoughts on the subject, because at this point, I kind of disagree with you.

Best,
Krysten


Hi Krysten,

Thanks for the question. It’s fine that you disagree. Writing would be a completely boring job if everyone agreed. Honestly, the whole ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey’ argument is one of those rare instances where it holds up in life, but not on paper. I can only speak for myself here, but in most cases, I find that people read stories to “see how it turns out” or “see what happens”. They want to get to the end of the story to have a complete, well-rounded, story and a sense of completion and finality. I’ll cite my inbox and the unending emails I got after Damnation’s open ending and my handling of Radley’s ultimate fate.

So it may sound pessimistic, but the idea that the journey matters more than the ending is true for life, but not true for stories, at least not in my experience. I mean in life, that’s clearly the case. I have no interest whatsoever in ‘seeing how it turns out’, I plan to live a very long time with more chapters than all my books combined.

In literature, it’s little more than a nice piece of sophistry. I can cite two pop culture references as proof. I’ve heard a number of people say this and honestly, I share their feelings… Let’s look at two perfectly good series with disastrous conclusions…

  1. Game of Thrones…
    Yeah, this is the most obvious one. The ending was rushed by two creators that had other things they wanted to go out and do, and it showed. The ending could have worked had they taken the time to  flesh out why Dani was going nuts. Having her suddenly go completely mad on a genocidal level because… her friend was murder and her nephew refused her sexual advances… yeah I think we’ll just leave it there. This ending, preluded by the slow downfall of the series when the source material ran out, made it virtually unwatchable.
    I personally hate the first season and it wasn’t until season five was being filmed that my friends coaxed me back in… I wish they hadn’t. I got gripped by season three and thought, “Okay, now they’ve found their place. Here we go…”
    Boy did I get that one wrong… Moving on…
  2. How I Met Your Mother…
    This one royally pissed me off. One, because I’d watched the show from day one, and two because it never got bad. It was consistently funny throughout the entirety of the series… only to come crashing down right at the end.
    After all that build up, after all that character development, after LITERALLY everything we’d waited and wanted for… it all came crashing down. Two main characters who were emotionally unstable and immature came together, grew together, got married… only to get divorced and go back to pretty much where they were in season one. The ‘mother’ we all waited for… died part way through the last episode and the kids kind of callously accepted their father’s pinning over an old flame, as well as the disregard of their mother in most of the story. All character development went out the window, and everything they went through pretty much didn’t matter at all.
    What’s worse, this awful ending shined lights on other areas of the story that the writers may not intended, particularly just how awful some of the characters actually were.
    This made a show that I had faithfully followed for 9 YEARS, completely unwatchable. Since then, I’ve literally had no desire what so ever to go back to the show.

This is why I say the ending is so important. You need a good beginning and a good body, but flaws in those areas are usually at least slightly forgivable. This is not the case in an ending. Unfortunately, we live in a time where writers substitute good writing with subverting expectations and think that if they do something unexpected, they’ve done something clever. This is not the case.

I’ll never understand why writers panic when people guess their plotlines. I had Rey pegged as a Palpatine pretty early in the series, did that affect my enjoyment of the Rise of Skywalker? Hell no, I cheered that I’d gotten it right. It actually made for an enjoyable watch to see how they worked through that.

Anyway, I hope that answers your question about why an awesome ending is absolutely essential to good writing. Readers, what are your thoughts? Am I right or way off?



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

Open Ending, a Damnation Question!? #writing #fantasy #SciFi #literature #Fiction

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Hi Jim,

I actually picked up a copy of this book a while back and just got around to reading it. For the most part, I liked it, but I do have one question; were you trying to piss everyone off with that ending? You left it wide open and don’t tell your audience whether or not Xaphine get’s reunited with Piero! What gives?? Come on, help us out!

Thanks,
Lucas


Hi Lucas,

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read this. I didn’t expect to see someone write me about one of my older books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re still making the rounds as I worked hard on them. This one especially as General Xaphine was one of my strongest characters.

Okay… where to start…

To answer your question, I am not trying to piss my readers off anymore than the next guy who leaves the book open. However, I did it for a reason. See, when I wrote Divinity and it’s follow-up, it was my intention for the story to be a direct criticism of church leadership and blind faith. Given the recent problems with the church covering for pedophiles, this is particularly relevant today.

To that end, after laying out my case as to why we should meet the teachings of our elders and religious leaders with a healthy dose of skepticism, I thought it would be hypocritical of me to make the decision for God as to whether or not Xaphine earns her redemption or not. I wanted the reader to look at the evidence, look at the surrounding details, factor in General Xaphine’s war record, her crimes after the war, her mental state following her exile, and her motives. I also wanted them to look at the God I created for the book, based on my own interpretations of multiple religions, and decide the answer to this questions for themselves;

“Would God forgive someone who had fallen so far? Is someone who has done what she’s done and guilty of her crimes, worthy of being redeemed?”

So I’ll turn it back to you. Based on what you read, what you learned, and how you felt, is General Xaphine someone who should be forgiven for her crimes? Does she deserve a second chance? Was her turn away from evil enough to remove the stain from her soul? Don’t let anyone tell you one way or another. What do you believe?

Did she redeem herself and spend eternity with the one she loves?

or

Did the darkness win out at the end and consume her?

Your answer is the answer and no one can take that away from you.

Anyway, I hope that helps! Readers, how do you handle open endings?



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