Monday, March 30, 2015

#VeryRealisticYA My New Favorite Hashtag

I was supposed to be finishing Chains of the Sciell over the weekend. Instead, I opened Twitter and saw #VeryRealisticYA was trending. The hashtag was created by a teen writer.

And this is why you disconnect from the internet when you need to write. Obviously, I had to check out the hashtag. Couldn't pull myself away. Had to stay up late to make up for the time I spent laughing at the awesome tweets. Had more fun coming up with my own tweets.

Had to learn how to feature tweets in a post. I was doing screenshots until I read other articles about this hashtag and realized their tweets looked different from mine. That's when I remembered the embed tweet option.

#VeryRealisticYA is still trending where I am!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Week in Links 3/27/15

Forbes: 'Insurgent,' 'The Hunger Games' And The Rise Of The Female Action Hero
People: It Follows: Three Reasons You Need to See the Indie Horror-Movie Phenomenon
Is not reading white cis male authors for a year prejudiced? Neil Gaiman responds.
Writing and Publishing
The Creative Penn: Author Entrepreneur: Increase Your Revenue
Mythic Scribes: Understanding How Readers Read
Writer Unboxed: It Turns Out, All You Need to do is Write a Great Book
dna: Author promotes fantasy book through a quiz
Karen Woodward: Dan Harmon On Story Structure


Monday, March 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Creating a Book Trailer

I was so looking forward to this post. I've been writing it in my head for a week.

Chains of the Sciell book trailer took longer than expected. You know when you reach a point in your story when you're only changing small things? That's what happened with this trailer. I was at the end.

The nerves were kicking in and I was changing things that didn't need to be changed. I watched it a million times and lost the ability to see it as an outsider. I just needed to get it out there.

I talked about my views on book trailers in the post Are Book Trailers Effective? They're hard to get right. They take a lot of work. I do trailers mostly because they're fun. People love sharing videos and photos across social media. A trailer is a way to build buzz.

I create mine in Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. Since I'm a "struggling artist," I reused the audio and a few videos from the trailer for Book 1 The Sciell.

I use stock videos instead of photos just for fun. Stock videos can cost between $50 and $80. A trailer could have four of them sown together.

Stock photos and videos come in different sizes from small to huge. The smaller videos are reasonably priced. But, unless I'm buying just for my blog, I always go with a large file.

It's easier to make a large file smaller than a small file larger. 

I highly recommend you make your book trailer in HD.

Most people interact with content through a mobile device, which all play videos in HD. Depending on your audience, they will expect the video to be in HD. It looks so much better than standard definition.

To take you behind the scenes of the Chains of the Sciell trailer, I need to start at the beginning. I got the videos and audio from 123rf and iStock.

You can test drive images and videos. Shutterstock lets you download comp version of the files. They'll be watermarked. You can put them in your trailer to see if they fit before you buy them.

The Sciell was my first adventure into Adobe After Effects. I went into that beast thinking I could just figure it out. Then, I saw this:
And hit a mean reverse. Didn't even know where to start. It was just too much. So far, of all the Adobe products I've played with, After Effects is the most intimidating. I went to Adobe TV and followed along with a beginner's tutorial.
It's like Photoshop where you work in layers.

You notice in The Sciell trailer how the song switched? I found two songs I really liked. I couldn't figure out which one worked best. So, I created three trailers. One for each song and one with the songs combined. Then, I asked my betaviewers to vote on which one they liked. They all voted for the trailer with the songs combined.
Putting those two songs together took forever. It was me sitting in front of my computer listening, over and over, to the merged version with my eyes closed until I found an arrangement I liked. 

You don't have to use just one song for your trailer.

I kept that combination for Chains of the Sciell. I love those songs so much. Since the trailer is about Book 2, I wanted to make it feel like it's a part of a trailer series. That's the other reason I recycled the audio and some of the videos. 

Now, I need words.

How do you come up with the words for your trailer?

  1. Think of your audience. What can you put in the trailer that will make them like/share it?
  2. Use the book's description as inspiration. Try not to copy it word-for-word.  
  3. Metadata. I have a list of keywords readers used to describe why they liked books similar to mine. I found a way to put a few in the trailer. 
  4. Betaviewers. Always have someone look at anything you create. For The Sciell trailer, one of my betaviewers said they didn't feel anything while watch it, the words didn't work. I asked another betaviewer for help with new words, one who knew my book.  
  5. Keep sentences short. Your already making people read while they're watch a video. Don't make it worse by putting in long sentences. 
I have the most fun playing with transitions- making one video blend into another, using the audio to set the tone for how the words flow in and out. However, use any effects in moderation. Any video creator will have a ton of transition option. Do not have a different transition/effect for each video/photo. That's too much. Pick one as your base and include a couple to add emphasis at certain points. 

Do not go overboard with the effects. It will get irritating.

The first trailer had this rolling darkness. 

Which is perfect for Chains of the Sciell. But, it's too washed out for me. I needed it to be dynamic. Then, I remembered Photoshop can edit videos!

For fun, I made it red!

The words were done. The video were in order. Now, here for the tweaking. Most of my work on this trailer came from tweaking smaller things. I mentioned in the post Creating Image Quotes how, when making image quotes, I rarely use one font. I applied that to the Chains of the Sciell trailer. I played with different font pairings. Also, the words were on one line so I played with arrangements.

Play around with fonts and word placement, but don't go overboard. 

These two are my favorites.
Trailer finished. Had my betaviewers watch it and give me feedback. They enjoyed it. One suggested I add people, which was an awesome suggestion and something I should've thought of. My series is character focused.

Finding a stock video with a person that fit with my book was impossible. I searched 123rf, iStock and Shutterstock. I couldn't find anything. It was frustrating. 

Somehow, I came across stock photos of women in fire. I loved them. Except, the women were naked or barely covered. All of them. It's ridiculous. The images were perfect, but I don't want boobs in my trailer.

Then I found this.
It is so beautiful. Although it's a female, I don't think it's so feminine that men would be turned off by it. 

This trailer made me walk outside my own little box to incorporate images. I put fire under the image so it looks like it's moving. 

Try overlapping images and videos, so the image looks like it's moving.

Another betaviewer suggested I add a voice over. Since I have Adobe Audition, I tried it. As I started the adventure, I realized if I wanted to add my voice, I should've done that at the beginning of the project. Adding my voice was a whole different beast that I was not prepared for. I'll play with it more for the next trailer.

Think of adding your voice to the trailer. Instead of just words and music. 

Darkness is growing up. Now, the It has new masters and they're starving.
Fifty years have passed. A mysterious Plague swept through Middle Jael. Walls of Darkness now surround cities around the world. Supplies are low. Prices are high. Still, humans survive. For Sciell and Miners, Lifeblood beings, the new Darkness won’t let them touch their power source without punishment.
How can they draw the power they need to survive? Their Lifeblood evolves. They can now see auras. Connections only existed between two beings. Now, these family bonds form between most Sciell. They can feel the other's need no matter the distance. If one is angry, the other becomes infected with that same rage. They always have someone else in their heads. They share power.
Divine Mathews, Josephine Royal, Blea and Aliceanna Carlton's connections told them they weren't alone. The connections felt like home. These four know they're different. They can do things...see things. They don’t know why.
They become trapped inside Midnight Prysn- a twisted mansion created to keep them weak. Divine, Royal, Blae and Aliceanna finally meet those they're connected to. Only, they feel like they've met before.
As Midnight Prysn's new residents regain their memories, they realize these connections aren't just a source of comfort. They can be chains.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Week in Links & Posts 3/20/15

Writing and Publishing
FutureBook: Joanna Penn: Virtual reality and the future of publishing
U.S. News: High School Teachers Guide Students Into Self-Publishing
Lexirad: 5 Publishing Tips I Learned From Working at Amazon
Mythic Scribes: The Great Free Book Debate: The Readers
Susan Spann: Getting the Most From YOUR Conference Season
Financial Times: Books industry divided over new era of self-publishing

Social Media Marketing
Huffington Post: Should You Invest in Alternative Social Media Networks
Huffington Post: 10 Ways to Get Instagram Followers
Social Media Examiner: How to Reward Your Fans with Facebook Offers
Social Media Examiner: How to Craft Headlines That Draw People to Your Content
Business 2 Community: Owned, Earned Paid Media and Social Media Marketing

SF Signal: [GUEST POST] Seth Skorkowsky (MOUNTAIN OF DAGGERS) on Sword and Sorcery
The Independent: Terry Pratchett: Final Discworld novel to be about teenage witch Tiffany Aching
A Dribble of Ink: Explore the beautiful landscapes of John Hutchinson’s fantasy worlds iZombie Gets Badass with Banter, Bodies, and Brains Celebrating Women in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Art
Hell Horror: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Update and Premiere Date
Hell Horror: New Movie Poster for 'Insidious: Chapter 3' with Terrified Stephanie Scott
Horror News: Top 10 Horror Film Animals

Although I enjoy all the peaks into Avengers Age of Ultron, are we gonna end up seeing the entire movie in teasers.

io9: The Complete History Of Marvel Superhero Movies: 1990-2008
io9: Why Hawkeye And Other Non-Powered Superheroes Are Still Amazing
Panels: Comics aren't for girls 
"I had an inherent understanding that, as a girl, it would be deeply embarrassing to be seen crouched, intensely browsing the comics (as I knew I would be if I gave in to the desire). Certainly I shouldn’t ask anyone about them."
The Verge: Amazon just got permission from the FAA to start testing its delivery drones in the US
Forces of Geek: Archie Comics Announces Archie Horror Imprint Pac-Man is the Bad Guy in the Pixels Trailer
Anime New Network: Live-Action Attack on Titan Films' Full Teaser Reveals Opening Dates
Nerdist: Pro Tip: How to tackle a backlog of games
The Verge: New trailers: Pixels, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Insidious, and more

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Design: eBook Formating

Bad formatting makes it hard for me to enjoy the story. I don't mean the odd hiccup like a sentence with too many spaces between the words. I mean obvious formatting issues.

Book design is one of those things you don't notice when it's done right, but it screams at you when it's done wrong.

A while ago, I opened an ebook and was knocked back- not in a good way. It didn't have any indents or paragraph breaks. The book was one long paragraph. I tried reading it, I really did but I gave up less than half way through. The formatting bugged the crap out of me.

I'm currently reading an ebook that has odd formatting. The dialogue and any short paragraphs between the dialogue are formatted beautifully. I love those parts. The expositions, however, are block paragraphs. They have white space between them, but for some reason, those paraphrases aren't indented and they're so long.

The ebook has pages of just block text. It's such a pain to read. It's hard to really get into those parts. I have to push through, purposefully ignoring them.

I'm a skimmer, even in books. I know, it's terrible. I'll read dialogues and short paragraphs, but when it comes to long descriptions and narrations, I tend to skim that. This book has some travel scenes where nothing happens. I skim it. It's hard to skim when the entire page is one long paragraph.

I don't have the patience to sit through a scene I don't find interesting. For this book, because of the formatting, skimming means not fully reading entire pages. Don't feel like I'm missing anything either. Block paragraphs have their place in ebooks. I don't think they belong in fiction. Feels too much like I'm reading something for school.

How To Write For the 21st Century Reader: 6 Tips to Modernize Your Prose

White space is magic. Not just for books. Even blogging advice says to keep paragraphs short and break up long posts with images. Look at the behemoths that are the last 4 Harry Potter books. They were about 1,000 pages each yet it didn't feel like I was reading a long book. White space helps with readability.

Book interior design goes with having a professional looking cover. Poorly formatted ebooks, at least to me, scream self-published. Although self-publishing isn't looked down on like it used to be, the "self-published feel" is still something you want to avoid. You want your book to stand beside those from traditional publishers. You put just as much work into your book.

On the other hand, I was having problems with indents disappearing when I previewed my book on
Amazon KDP. I talked about it to a person who doesn't read ebooks often because it was bugging the crap out of me and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. The person asked why it mattered. Valid question.

I'm wondering if poor formatting bothers me because I know too much about book design. What do you think? Do readers/reviewers care about formatting. Although the book I'm currently reading is poorly formatted, I'm still reading it. The story's pretty good.

But, I doubt I'll buy another book by this author. I stick by the statement I made at the beginning. You don't notice formatting when it's done right. It pulls you out of the story when it's done wrong.

BookBaby: eBook Formatting: How to Properly Indent Paragraphs
David Gaughran: Formatting
The Book Designer: How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes
The Book Designer: 3 Keys to Beautiful Book Pages
The Book Designer: Does Book Design Really Matter?
JA Konrath: Ebook Parts

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dealing With Bad Reviews

There's a ton of advice out there on how to deal with bad reviews. They like to say "dwell on the good reviews." What if you don't have any glowing reviews to off-set the negative/indifferent ones?

I've been having this problem. It's not something I talk about much because I know how hard it is to get any reviews. I'm just happy people are reading and reviewing my books. But, most advice on dealing with bad reviews doesn't help me. I doubt I'm the only one.

We like to think the writing life is like this:

Sometimes, it is. Mostly, writing life is like this:
It's so hard. When a review comes in for any of my books, 9 times out of 10, they will be three stars or less. At this point, I just expect low ratings. 

Not all my reviews are negative, most are "it's not good, but it's not bad either," which feel just as bad as a one/two star review. People will talk about books they love and hate. I doubt they're spread word about a book they found so-so. 

Most, even the reviews that say the stories are interesting, focus heavily on what's wrong my books. Now, my dilemma is how can I get people to buy my books and read them with all those uninspiring reviews? Free promotions do not work for me. 

I have gotten a few helpful reviews which I really appreciate, but I get more unhelpful ones. If all my bad reviews were concentrated on one book, I'd just assume that book was a fail. If the bad reviews were talking about something I could fix, I would take that into account for my next book.

Well, one story got a few "not enough action" comments, which I don't understand. The book has no more no less action than any other fantasy book I've read. All my books have the same amount of action yet they aren't getting that comment.

It also got some "complicated read" comments. I'm waiting to see if more people call it complicated, because I don't understand that one either. The two most detailed reviews I got had some valid criticisms about that story, but they never called it complicated.

You kind of feel like a failure if you don't have good sales and good reviews. How do you keep writing when most people are "meh" about your stories and there isn't a consistent and fixable reason why they don't love them?

Don't give up
It's fine to get discouraged. It's fine to question why your writing at all. I'm not nearly as excited about publishing as I was a year ago. At this point, I'm pretty much running on auto-pilot. When I tell people I have anther book coming out, they get totally excited. I'm like "it's just another one." I sometimes think, "Great, another book to collect more three, two and one star reviews." I try hard to keep down that thought. It's not helpful. I can't possibly know the future. 

It's even fine to take a step back. When those negative reviews started coming in one after the other, I stopped writing. Didn't do it on purpose. I just didn't feel like it. I didn't stay away for long. I mean, I had stories to finish. My characters were stuck mid-peril. I couldn't leave them there. 

Focus on what you love
I love writing, world building, creating book trailers and images, designing book covers, laying out my books, being on social media and sharing helpful resources with other writers. I couldn't quit if I wanted to. 

Your book will never be for everyone
You need to know your audience. You cannot market to everyone. I thought my audience was one group of people. Now, I know it's a different group. I was marketing to the wrong audience, which is probably why I keep getting those types of reviews.

The reviewer of a one star rating expected a straight horror story and instead got dark fantasy. They didn't say the story was bad. It wasn't for them.

Honestly, I don't know why I keep getting bad reviews. My beta readers enjoy my stories. The reviews aren't site specific, although Goodreads has more (in general) than Amazon and B&N.

I have no intention of changing my style. My books are for a very niche market, which I haven't hit yet. I'm getting there, though.

Move on from bad reviews
Before I published my first book, I said I wasn't going to pay attention to my reviews. Total, total BS. If was I was getting like double digit reviews every mouth, I probably wouldn't read most of them because I wouldn't have the time. But when you get one review every couple of months, you can't help yourself, at least I can't.

You keep hearing the phrase "it's not personal, it's business." I know it's business. Doesn't stop bad reviews from hurting.

Articles like to point out the bad reviews of bestselling authors. On one hand, it does make you feel better knowing everyone gets negative comments. On the other hand, these authors have 2,000+ reviews and maybe 100 of them are three stars and below. They have a good balance. I don't.

I don't know if getting bad reviews will stop hurting. I don't think so. I've gotten several and they all sting the same way. I'm getting better at recovering from them.

If those bad reviews don't say anything you can apply to your stories, you spend the night drowning your sorrows in your favorite food and TV show, then get back to writing. If they're constructive, you drown your sorrows and then consider their criticism.

Do not, do not dwell on them.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Week in Links 3/13/15

Writing and Publishing
Writer's Digest: 6 Tips to Writing a Bestselling YA Series
GalleyCat: Toni Morrison On Failure
Epic Reads: The 18 Most Beautiful YA Endpapers in the World
The Book Designer: What the Art of Storytelling Can Teach Us about Marketing
Tech Crunch: Amazon’s ‘Write On’ Crowd-Publishing Platform Opens To All
"The Amazon platform allows anyone to share anything they’re working on at any stage. They can offer full works, chapters, outlines, vague character sketches or even just single snippets and poll the community for feedback."
 Newarama: The Future of Comics? 'BUNDLES' Offer Publishers New Customers
Writer Unboxed: Literary gender shape shifting
"Nobody seriously asks how you can possibly write from the viewpoint of say, a werewolf, a sorcerer, or a ghost. It’s just assumed the imagination takes over. But when it comes to gender, well-meaning people can sound as though they think it’s a far greater stretch."
 Karen Woodward: Crying Uncle: When Should We Lay A Story Aside?

Social Media Marketing
Business to Community: Social Media Marketing With Hashtags
Social Times: How Freelancers Should Be Using Social Media
Social Media Examiner: 44 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros
Social Media Examiner: Video Blogging: How to Become a Video Personality
Social Media Examiner: 7 Visual Ideas That Will Increase Your Social Engagement
Jami Gold: Should We Change Our Blogging Style?

Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/Horror
ABC: Fantasy Author Terry Pratchett Dies at 66
Daily Record: Terry Pratchett: Top ten quotes from best-selling author
Mashable: Why we're so obsessed with zombies
Black Girl Nerds: Why Can’t Strong Female Characters Just Be Complex? 
Muddy Colors: What Women Women Characters
Ciara Ballintyne: How To Carry A Claymore: Crazy Things I Learned Researching Books
io9: 5 horror movies so gruesome, the makers were investigated for cruelty and murder
Hell Horror: Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) - International Trailer
Hell Horror: 'Independence Day 2' Sequel Casts Jeff Goldblum, Jessie Usher, Liam Hemsworth and Release Date
The Verge: Tron 3 is in the works from director of the beautiful and flawed Tron: Legacy
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Male authors on feminism in SFF [Video]

Nerdreactor: Marvel announced 6 villains joining Netflix’s Daredevil series
io9: A Closer Look At Sentinel's Lovely Extremis Iron Man
io9: This Notorious B.I.G./Dinosaurs Mash-Up Video Is My New Happy Place Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark Presents Little Kid with Iron Man Bionic Arm Wonder Woman and Superman get new costumes in the comics
Cnet: Nintendo pushes video game industry positive in February
"The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask for its 3DS portable game system, was the best-selling portable game in the franchise's history, according to industry watcher the NPD Group."
Nerdist: It's Cinderella vs. Belle in this princess rap battle

Monday, March 9, 2015

Non-Human Characters

Where are the otherworldly POV characters in fantasy? I don't mean dwarfs, elves, vampires and werewolves/shifters. I don't have a problem with those beings. I just prefer characters like the Blood in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series and the Others from Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch series. Otherworldly characters are fascinating.

I can't find books I can get excited about. It's kinda frustrating. I read mostly manga now. Don't know when was the last time I actually finished a novel.

I love dark fantasy because the creatures might not be the bad guy. They may be vicious, but they're unapologetic about. They have powers that's an important part of their daily lives. Well, that's the kind of book I want to read. Can't find any. The Watch series has the typical mythic creatures (vampire, shifters), but it also has the "Others" as the main characters. I think I'll reread that series.
In the dark fantasy I've read, "monster" is more regular people with some psychotic tendencies. I want some powers. I like fantasy where the otherworldlyness is integral to the story, not as a "darkness" they have to overcome, but as something they've always embraced.

Psychotic tendencies, unique otherworldly beings, a new power system. The world building for that beast of a novel is a nightmare. It's murder making these monsters relatable. It's possible though.

The Sciell's caused me some trouble. The characters eat raw meat (preferring flesh), they're violent and mean, powerful and they really don't like humans. The main characters, male and female, hit each other, hard, when they're annoyed or bored. While writing that novel, I stepped back to figure out how to makes these demons likable.

The cast for most of my stories aren't human. I went into Devdan Manor wanting to write a regular haunted house story. Instead, my characters turned out to be demons living in an alternate world. The story turned into demons haunting demons.

With Visible Through Darkness, the POV character started out as humans. As the story went on, she found out she was an "other." She was shocked, but she embraced that side of her without hesitation.

I don't know if magic and non-human characters was ever big in fantasy. Well, maybe after Harry Potter we got a crap-ton of boy wizard books and wizarding schools. If any book was marketed as the next Harry Potter (or even sounded like my favorite series), I wanted nothing to do with it.

The only non-human characters I come across are vampires or faeries (fae). I wouldn't mind a demon if it's done in a different way. Urban fantasy is famous for their otherworldly characters but the female protagonists tend to annoy me for some reason.

Why aren't there more books with otherworldly beings as main characters who have powers they embrace? Recommendations welcome!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Week in Links 3/6/15

Writing and Publishing
Mythic Scribes: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Descriptions – Part 1
GalleyCat: Children’s Books Authors Protest Against Assigning Genders to Books
“Let’s be clear: I do not talk about ‘girl’ stuff. I do not talk about body parts. I do not do a ‘Your Menstrual Cycle and You!’ presentation. I talk about books and writing, reading, rejections and moving through them, how to come up with story ideas. But because I’m a woman, because some of my books have pictures of girls on the cover, because some of my books have ‘princess’ in the title, I’m stamped as ‘for girls only.’ However, the male writers who have boys on their covers speak to the entire school.”
Tor Book: "A mind needs books."
C.D. Verhoff: Poor Proofreading Makes For Eyebrow-Raising Headlines
Jami Gold: The Perils of a “Dead” Genre
Jami Gold: How to Punch Up a Blurb or Query
Kameron Hurly: How Book Titles Turn Browsers into Readers
Amazing Stories: How Writers See Themselves…And How Others See Them…
GalleyCat: Warren Adler Discusses the Future of Publishing

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Examiner: 5 Pinterest Image Styles That People Love to Share
Social Media Examiner: 8 Ways to Improve Social Shares for Your Blog
Business Insider: YouTube seems to be slipping, but it's actually well-positioned to take on the rise of Facebook, Vine, and Snapchat
The Creative Penn: Marketing Vs Sales With Jim Kukral
Customer Think: Top 5 Social Media Trends That Will Impact Your Small Business In 2015

io9: A New J.K. Rowling Bibliography Unearths Harry Potter Secrets
io9: This Disturbing Post-Apocalyptic Cartoon Won A Danish Academy Award [Video]
The Galaxey Express: #BlackWomenAuthors of Sci-Fi Romance Women SFF Artists Redesign Female Characters and the Results Are Fantastic
TalkToYoUniverse: Genre and Description - a Dive into Worldbuilding hangout summary with VIDEO

Admit it. How many times have you watched Marvel's Avenger Age of Ultron Trailer 3? I'm going on 4. Still got chills.

io9: The 15 Weirdest Super Sentai Giant Robots
Biong Boing: Meet The InHumans
Business Insider: How to Get A Job Making Video Games, According to Recruiters
Business Insider: Samsung has designed a $39,000 high-tech doghouse with a treadmill and hot tub
Engaget: State of VR: Sony's Project Morpheus in 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fantasy World: Where Ideas Come From

Got world building block? Welcome to the party. I'm still having trouble with my work in progress. I touched on it in the post a A Different Fantasy Land. So, let's go back to the basics. Where can fantasy world ideas come from? 

Getting ideas can be difficult if you're like me and don't want to do the typical medieval setting. Getting idea for a fantasy world can be hard in general. You don't want to do what's already been done. 

Don't Think of the World 
When you say world, your thoughts might go a little big. The word can be intimidating. I have this problem. Fantasy world also means people, magic system, a city, religion... Think small. Don't over complicate things. You can model a world similar to ours and populate it with non-humans beings.

The world in The Merging Worlds Series is like ours only it's different enough to feel like a fantasy land. The series isn't urban fantasy because none of the places are recognizable. But, all my landmass are modeled after our continents. Think of your own city and turn it into a fantasy land. The locations don't have to be so "fantasy-y." Your entire book could take place underground and it would be awesome. 

Ask Yourself What If
For one of my stories, I started out with "What is there was no money?" For another, I started with "What if people couldn't go out at night?"

You can have the most imaginative fantasy world and it will fall flat if the people are flat. For most of my stories, I start with characters.

Just Write
I'm the type of writer that figures things about as I go along. I may be stuck, but the more I write, the more I imagine. The story could be complete crap, but my world is taking shape. I can always go back and edit. Stop thinking and just write. My biggest problem with my WIP Devortus Reigns is I'm thinking too much. 

Anime and Video Games
Experiencing other worlds can give you ideas for your own. They don't have to be from books. I get weapon ideas from video games. My current WIP will have a dragon made of ice that becomes a sword of power in the story. Got that from Bleach. I talked more about this in Anime Powers and Writing Dark Fantasy

Everyday Culture Exaggerated
Clare Dunkle's post on world building said "I believe it is Ursula K. Le Guin who once described fantasy as a genre that allows authors to take issues from our everyday culture and focus on them in an exaggerated form." Storytelling and Fiction Writing Clare Dunkle's ideas on creating fantasy worlds

Out of curiosity, I wrote a story where everyone was selfish, where criminal activities were celebrated and the street was a 24/7 orgy. The story was told from the POV of a female who was raised on the old values where families looked after each other and people had some sense of decency. Visible Through Darkness was hard to write, but I felt I to go there for the story.

Write What You Want to Read
I'm a bit tired of reading fantasy worlds with no people of color. The books that have PoC are usually race focused. I want a regular fantasy book with a diverse cast. Turns out, I have to write one to get that.

I like haunted house stories, so I wrote one from the demon's point of view and set it in the demon world. 
You guys know how much I love Pinterest. 

If you need more help, check out my World Building page. This post helped me figure out some things. I hope it helps you too. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting Your Book Noticed

Last week was Social Media Week in NYC. All over the city were free sessions about building a digital brand. A few of those involved book publishing. I attended Metadata Meets SEO: How Authors Can Improve Their Book "Discoverability" hosted by Your Expert Nation.

Discoverability is one of those buzzy, overused words. But, it's important. We're competing for people's attention on and offline. Even worse, most people scan online. I don't know when was the last time I read an entire article, review, book description...and I'm a writer. I know, that's sad. But, that's life.

Metadata Meets SEO drilled in that it's not about the author. It's about the reader. We might write a book description we like but won't attract our target audience. The panelists pointed out that the book description is not just a summary. It needs to speak to what readers are looking for. How does your book meet the reader's needs?

We share our favorite excerpts on social media. Our favorite lines might not be our audience's favorite lines.

For The Sciell, I realized my marketing efforts focused on the wrong things and the wrong audience. I've been working to fix that.

This is why I always run things likes quotes, images, videos by other people.

How do you find what metadata will make your book more "discoverable"? I've been having trouble with this as well. It requires a lot of research.
  • Read reviews of books similar to yours and make a note of words readers use often like gritty or reluctant hero.
  • Go to LibrayThing, search for books like yours and check out the tags.
  • Beta readers: ask them how they'd describe your book (anime inspired my stories, but I didn't market that concept much until one of my beta readers kept saying my books read like an anime.)
  • You can pay to have a focus group like BookHive read your work and give you a report. 
How do you find books similar to yours?
  • Goodreads Genre
  • Amazon genre search
  • If you've gotten reviews, people might've compared your book/ style to another author
  • Your book might have recommendations on Goodreads and Amazon 
  • Think broad, like "this book has non-human POV characters like mine."
I created an excel spreadsheet to keep track of keywords.

Something I didn't know- Fiction/General is the least effective category.

Book Industry Study Group: Best Practices for Product Metadata (Publication- Free to Download)
Book Industry Study Group: Best Practices for Keywords in Metadata (Publication- Free to Download)
(You need to create an account to download the above guides)
PBS Media shift: The Hows and Whys of Metadata for Authors
Übersuggest: Get keyword ideas with Übersuggest the free keyword suggestion tool that makes good use of different suggest services.

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