Category Archives: Writing

Don’t Rush – Patience with Publishing

Hi everyone!

When my wife and I returned from our honeymoon, one of the things I was most looking forward to was finally getting pre-orders up for my upcoming books, which also meant cover reveals!

…but then I realized right away, I wasn’t ready.  More to the point, my books aren’t ready.  When I put the 3 books up on kickstarter, I want it to be more than just “pick one or all three and go!”  I intend to have a box set, if that’s even possible, and I want that to be an option from the start.

But I haven’t finished editing The Orc War Campaigns, let alone have a physical copy with exact dimensions.  And in order to do a box set, I need to be able to order a custom-sized box.

That’s why I’m not ready.  I don’t even have a prototype ready of the box set.  I still don’t even know if it will be possible to make a box set.

So, I’ve decided to hold off on getting pre-orders out until I have everything ready.

Patience Goes A Long Way

Artwork by Lightspring

This is important to remember.  Some authors out there, especially self-published, will tell you “Just get your products out as fast as possible.”  And there is some wisdom in their thinking.  If you hook a reader, they’re going to want more to read, as fast as possible!  They might even demand it.  Truthfully, if you don’t publish as fast as they like, you might even lose some of them.  Maybe.

But if you just rush products out half-finished, you’re doing your readers a disservice.  They deserve more, yes, but they also deserve the best.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue to repeat it, because it is a lesson hard-learned over the past 3 years of self-publishing.

Make the best possible product that you can.  Make it worth investing in your work.

And whatever you do, don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Let me repeat that.

Do not make promises that you cannot keep.

I’m serious.  I’ve also made this mistake, promising stories in a timeline that I cannot keep to.

Just like you should with everything in life, set realistic goals, and keep to them.

Which brings me to an announcement I needed to make on this rather short blog entry today…

Intermittent Blog Posting

I’ve fallen behind on editing again.  And despite our wedding and honeymoon being over, we’re still very busy these days, for a multitude of reasons.  This is why my blog posting has continued to be intermittent.

And why it will stay that way for the time being.  I need to spend more time editing The Orc War Campaigns, so that I can then get a physical copy, and start final edits on all 3 books, and get a prototype of the box set made.  A lot of work yet to do for someone who usually can only devote 10 hours a week to writing, at best.

Blog writing only takes about 2 hours per week, which might not seem like much…but right now, every second I can snag to edit is precious.

As soon as I have more updates, I’ll be sure to post here.  I hope you all understand, and will continue to visit when new posts are made.

Thank you everyone for continuing to read, and continuing to be patient.  I’ll see you out there :)

-Jon Wasik

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New Way To Tell Stories – Star Wars and The Void

Hey everyone!

With our honeymoon coming to a close, I wanted to tell you all about an incredible experience we had here in Orlando!  And that was Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire!

Haven’t heard of it?  Worry not, because I wanna tell you all about the state of the art in Virtual Reality Technology, and the new possibilities it opens for story telling!

Total Immersion – Holodeck-like Experience!

I know, I know, this is about Star Wars, but when I first heard about Secrets of the Empire, the first thing I thought about was Star Trek TNG’s holodecks.  If you’ve ever watched any of the Trek shows after the original series, you’ve probably seen this wondrous technology, where you step into a room, and whole other environments, complete with interactive people, suddenly appear!

Is that what Secrets was like?  Well, we’re not to that level of tech yet, but it certainly was the most immersive experience I’ve ever had.

After signing a waiver, my wife and I, along with another random couple we were paired up with, followed our guide into a room with a big screen, where we received an urgent message from Cassian Andor (from Star Wars Rogue One).  After that, each of us were able to choose the color of our Stormtrooper armor’s pauldron.  There were lots of colors to choose from, but it’s a good idea to coordinate your choice with the other members, because you can double up and this can make it confusing in game!

After that, we were led into the gear room, where an Oculus Rift headset and haptic-feedback suit awaited us.  After putting our gear on and getting them synced up with our wristbands, we were led into a square room, and lowered our visors.

And suddenly, we were stormtroopers.  All of us.  My wife, with her purple pauldron, stood next to me, and was rendered with her accurate height!  I think I even made the joke of ‘aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?’  The other couple was across from us, the tall guy with his black pauldron (I chose blue) and his significant other, who also had a purple pauldon but thankfully was a little taller than Beck so I didn’t lose track of who was who.

We were in a small compartment on a troop transport, and suddenly the door opens…and K2SO pops his head in to give us a mission update!

What was really incredible was that we were free to move around in the rendered environment.  When we moved into another compartment and were asked to sit in the rendered seats, we sat and there were chairs.  When asked to get onto a moving platform, we did and it felt like it moved.  When entering a lift and told to pull the lever, there was a lever we could actually pull, and it was rendered in real-time as we pulled it!

What’s more was the feel and smell.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but when we were in a place with fire, there was heat and I could smell burning wood!  When stormtroopers shot at us, I felt the impact and heat from when I was hit!  The designers and creators, The Void, did a really good job mixing a physical environment with virtual, creating an incredible experience!

It wasn’t perfect…to save money and time, there were no gloves, so your avatar’s hand movements were tracked with motion sensors.  This sometimes glitched, and when my hands were in my lap, I’d look over and it would look like I had my hand in my wife’s mouth.  And one of the four blasters kept malfunctioning and not showing up in the game, so they had to start us over two times before it worked properly.  Plus blaster bolts moved annoyingly slow (like Elder Scrolls 4 – Oblivion arrows) and that made the fights a little less intense than they should have been.

But all said, the experience was incredible and immersive, and is definitely the closest we have come to holodecks!

What Does This Mean for Storytelling?

I’m extremely excited about what this represents!  Right now, Secrets of the Empire is the only thing like this that I am aware of, but it opens the door for some unique storytelling!  As the technology improves, things will only get better.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Star Trek jumps on the bandwagon soon.  I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to step onto the bridge of a Starship or fight through a Borg ship?

Or what about Harry Potter??  Some more tweaking of the tech, but as you wave your wand and speak the words, the system reads it and you see your spell unfold before you!

Unfortunately right now, I don’t see sword fights happening with our level of tech, but how long before they figure out a way to make that happen?

What stories could be told interactively?  Sure the settings are finite, but some amazing stories can be told in small spaces.  Such as the Star Trek bridge mentioned above.

Secrets of the Empire was pretty much scripted, but as we’ve seen with video games, stories can change depending on choices, and as long as those choices are planned ahead…there could be some pretty big facilities made for some impressive interactions in the future.

I think that this is just the beginning!!  Now if only The Void would open more locations…like one in Denver!

Go For It, Even If You Don’t Believe In Yourself

Hi everyone, I’m back!

Photo by Danielle Lirette

Our wedding was wonderfully geeky, and we were very fortunate to have some incredible people participate in it and help us out!  It turned out to be a perfect day, with weather better than predicted, and nothing major going wrong.

However, I want to tell the story with pictures, and our photographer is still working to get our photos to us (the preview pictures she has shown us are incredible!)  But what I wanted to talk about today crosses from my wedding day to writing, and why you should never give up on yourself…

I Thought I Would Always Be Alone

My best friend (and best man) reminded me of something during the reception: when I was younger, I had a dream of a woman who was perfect for me.  My definition of what that might entail evolved over the years as I grew and changed as a person, but I knew what I wanted…

Image source – google.com

And as time passed, and rejections from women grew in number, I started to despair.  I started to believe that I was unlovable.  This led me to some pretty bad relationships that only reinforced my belief that I was unworthy.

…but I kept trying anyway.  I kept searching, even though I didn’t think anyone would ever think I was worth loving.  As the years and years and years passed, no matter how much I was rejected or how many bad dates I went on, even surviving an emotionally abusive relationship, I kept trying.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

And then she was there.  The one who would one day become my wife.  Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I remember thinking, even when I asked if I could add her to my Facebook, “she won’t ever be interested in me.”

That led to friendship…which 4 months later led to dating, and six months later led to engagement, and a year and 3 months later, marriage.

After more than two decades of searching and dating and trying and failing and being rejected, I finally found what I had searched for.  Someone who loved me, who believed I was worth loving.  And when I realized this last week, I knew that I had to pass the message on to everyone else…

Keep Going.  Never Give Up.  Even If You Don’t Believe

The same goes for writing.  Hell, the same goes for everything in life, but since this is a writing blog, let’s focus on that.

Writers get rejections, from agents and editors.  But does that mean you’re unworthy, that your stories aren’t worthy, and you should stop trying?  If JK Rowling had stopped trying after her first couple of rejections, Harry Potter would not be the phenomenon that it is today.

Writers get bad reviews, on Amazon and everywhere else.  Does this mean that their novel is really horrible and not worth reading?  If you get a few bad reviews, should you take it to heart and stop writing?  Everyone gets bad reviews.  Every book.  Take a look at your favorite book on Amazon, no matter how good it is, and you’ll find one-star reviews.  Even Ready Player One, which is now a major motion picture making millions, got one-star reviews.

What if you get published, or are self-published, and your books aren’t selling well?  Should you just…stop?  No.  First, harkening back to a blog I wrote about an author who re-branded his books, his initial publication was getting him few sales.  When he learned from his mistakes and re-branded his book, he started selling thousands of copies.

If you don’t believe in yourself, but you’re still passionate, GO FOR IT!  Don’t stop!!!  Keep doing it, if for no other reason than your love of it, your passion, your desire to make it, your desire to write and get readers.

Keep.  Going.

Because even if it takes decades, one day, whether you believe in yourself or not, someone else might.  And then your books will sell.  And you’ll write more.  And more.  And more.  And before you know it, you’ve achieved your ultimate goals.

The other option is to give up.  But then you’ll be left wondering for the rest of your life, “What if?”

Photo by my new Mother-in-Law :)

If I gave up…I’d never have met my Starshine.  Never would have asked for her hand in marriage.  Never cried the happiest tears of my life when I watched her walk down the aisle towards me.

What might you risk never seeing if you give up?

What might you never get to experience if you don’t try?

“What if I fail?”  Rubbish question.  “What if I succeed?”  Now that is a question worth pondering…

Getting Married!

Hi everyone!

Photo by Death’s House Productions

I’m getting married soon!!!

Unfortunately, the crazy-busy that our lives have become means that my ability to sit down and write blog posts has been minimal.  So I’ve decided that until after the wedding, I won’t be making any more posts.

I hope you all understand, life is just too busy right now.  But I’ll be back to my regular weekly schedule in May.

What does this mean for the future?  My Fiancee and I have agreed that after the wedding, we’ll both spend more time working on our writing and other self-employed endeavors!  We’ll be preparing to publish her novel, Bloody Notes, a steampunk retelling of the Jack The Ripper case, and the first part of a much longer series!

And Sword of Dragons will be getting 3 releases this summer!  The 2nd editions of books 1 and 2, and then the Orc War Campaigns!

I’m excited to be able to start showing more after the wedding, including cover reveals, and to get the Kickstarter up and running.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great rest of April, and we’ll see you next month!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

What Kind of Series Do You Prefer?

Greetings, dear readers!

Recently someone pointed out that there are two kinds of series out there: those that are like a fast food hamburger, and those that are like a gourmet meal.

…off hand it sounds weird, but the writer of this guest blog entry uses the examples of food to great effect.

I’m more of a geek, so today I’m going to translate that into geek speak ;)  What I’m talking about today is like the difference between Star Trek The Original Series and Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  Never seen either, or just one and not the other?  Don’t worry, I’ll translate :)

The Star Trek TOS Series

There’s no denying the legacy that The Original Series has left upon our society.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy, along with the USS Enterprise, are legendary, and will probably never be forgotten.

But if you focus just on the series, and not the movies that followed, you’ll notice a pattern that, initially, was emulated by The Next Generation: the characters do not change or grow throughout the 3 season run.

In the beginning, Kirk was a shoot first and ask questions later kinda guy who wasn’t afraid to, *ahem* bridge the interspecies gap with a little…special diplomacy.  Not to say that he wasn’t a positive role model in many ways, especially for his intolerance for bigotry, or the fact that he was always leading up front, not afraid to charge in ahead of his team.  By the end of the 3rd season…nothing had changed.

Just like Bones McCoy was still a grumpy old doctor.  And Spock was still struggling to remain as Vulcan as possible with the occasional emotional outburst.  Uhura never got promoted.  Sulu was always the helmsmen.  Probably the only thing that changed was Checkov’s introduction part way through the series, but then he, too, never changed.

There’s something to be said about this kind of series.  It’s comfortable, knowing that while each story will be just a little different, they’ll be familiar, and the characters will always be how we remembered them.  Plus if you happen into the series halfway through, you won’t be lost.  It’s not a requirement to have seen the premier to be able to step into.

Another example of this kind of series is The Simpsons, and the fact that Bart, Homer and the gang haven’t changed and are still on the air after over 20 years should say something about the power of this kind of story.

The DS9 Series

Contrast that with Deep Space 9.  From episode one on, you knew it wasn’t going to be anything like other Trek.  And in season 1, they weren’t afraid to make that known, such as the episode when Sisko punched Q.  “You hit me!  Picard never hit me.”  “I’m not Picard!”

And the characters changed.  The story evolved.  If you came in during later seasons, you’d probably have no idea what’s going on.  “Why does this Odo person look so weird, but he’s basically human?  Wait, what, he was a changeling and lost is changeling ability but now is getting it back…huh?!?!?”  “Who is the Dominion, and why are they allied with the Cardassians.  Wait, now they’re allied with the Romulans…no, no they’re not.”  “Sisko is an Emissary of…Wormhole aliens?  Huh??”

But then, there’s something powerful about this kind of story.  Because as you watch (or read) about characters growing, you grow with them.  You watch them change.  Like watching Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up.  Or seeing Aragorn change from a reluctant leader to the confident King of the West.

When the characters reach their ultimate goal, you cheer for them!  Or when they fail, your heart aches for them.  Or when they lose someone they love, you mourn with them.

These characters allow you to connect with them in a way unchanging characters never could.

Is One Better Than The Other?

I think this question comes down to preference.  There’s a place for everything.  And perhaps even mixing these two types is advantageous.

But for me, personally, I will always prefer the DS9’s.  The Lord of the Rings.  The Stargates.  These are the ones I connect with better than any other series out there.

What’s your preference?

Thanks for reading!  And to those who celebrate, Happy Easter!
-Jon Wasik

Self-Publishing and Marketing – T-Shirts and more!

Hi everyone!

If you talk to just about any business person, most of them agree on one thing – marketing is vital to the survival of most businesses!  But what is marketing, exactly?  And how does it apply to self-published writers?

The initial answer seems obvious – pay for advertisements.  Amazon KDP and KDP Select is probably most self-published authors’ best avenue, though it isn’t the only one.

However, there’s more that a writer can do than just paid ads, and I myself am brewing up plans for future marketing efforts!  Not to mention, in today’s blog, a very special reveal is at hand…  ;)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First lets talk about a couple of other marketing actions you can take as a writer.

T-Shirts!

Yes, you read right.  T-Shirts.  T-Shirts can be one of the best marketing tools you have outside of internet ads, and it can be surprisingly affordable!

For me, initially it was just an idea to wear a shirt myself with my novel’s cover on it, but you can use them in more ways.  Have a pre-order going through a venue like Kickstarter?  Make a t-shirt one of the tiered bonuses!  Got a table at a convention?  Have some t-shirts on hand to sell or even give away as part of a bonus if they buy your entire set or something.

Or even just have a method of selling them to any would-be hardcore fans!

If you’re thinking to yourself “I’m a no-name author, why would anyone want to buy a shirt of my books?”  You might be surprised.  Someone somewhere could fall in love with your novels, and want to proudly show off their fandom!  But they can’t do that unless you have a way for them to do so.

And one thing I will say: make sure the shirt is incredible and eye catching, just like your cover should be!  Sure you could take your front cover and slap it onto a T-Shirt and voila, insta-fan-material.  However, my friends at Guildhall Galatea and Color Me Impressed have shown me the value of a design geared towards a T-Shirt, rather than a book cover, and the results speak for themselves!

Not only am I excited to wear the shirt, but I’m hoping people may want to order some for themselves!

And yes, you’re seeing that right…while not the full cover, you just got to see more of the cover for the upcoming “Rise of the Forgotten,” the 2nd edition of book 1 of the Sword of Dragons series!!!  :D :D :D

Maps and More!

When I was a teen, I remember buying the video game Everquest, one of the earlier MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.)  One of the coolest things that came with it was a cloth map of the world of Everquest!

I’ve since lost that cloth map :( But I never forgot it, and started collecting other fantasy maps, especially from the Elder Scrolls.  I’ve wanted to find a way to offer maps to readers (other than just including them in the books) and finally have an avenue.

Low resolution, low quality print test, but still impressive!

While chatting with the folks at Guildhall Galatea and Color Me Impressed, we started talking about possibly printing my maps on cloth.  I immediately loved the idea, so I  went right out and found some material that looked good, and we did a test print.  And while it is a low-res, small test print, I was highly impressed with the result!!  As such, full-sized, full resolution maps of Edilas and Devor will be printed soon :)

What can I do with these?  I’d love to either include them with box sets of the books, or find a way to have them on sale separately.  Plus, at conventions, they would help me stand out from all other other authors!  And if I really do a kickstarter as a way to preorder, then these maps can be one of the tiered rewards!

This is just the beginning, however.  I don’t want to say too much in case everything doesn’t work out, but there may be some other incredible goodies on the horizon to accompany the Sword of Dragons :D

That’s all I have for today, everyone, but I am so excited about all of this!  I hope you are too, and I hope my fellow authors out there get some ideas or inspiration from these examples

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Print vs. eBook – Marketing Focus

Hi everyone!

Last weekend, Beck and I attended the first annual WhimsyCon, a new Steampunk convention in Denver that essentially replaced the defunct Anomaly Con.  While we were there, we attended a few panels on writing, self-publishing, and story-building.

One of the panelists that we saw a few times was a self-published author who makes six figures a year!  Who wouldn’t want to do that with writing?  So we eagerly attended his panels.

For the most part, I was pleased to find out that Beck and I were already on the right track, with our rebranding and focus on marketing with my books.  One of the things I didn’t necessarily agree with, however, was his idea of ‘write and publish as much as possible.’  To the point that he is publishing well over a dozen fiction novels per year.  I’m curious if he’ll be able to maintain that pace for very long.

Image Source – http://www.buzzfeed.com

However, in all of the panels, including his, one thing came up that didn’t surprise me, but I’d never before considered with my own previous work…focus on eBook vs. print.

This author (and forgive me, I can’t remember his name…) pointed out that almost all of his sales were eBook.  A very, very, very small percentage of his sales were print.  And he even said that, ‘focus on eBooks’ and, unsurprisingly, he even suggested, “Amazon KDP for their KDP Select program, especially if you’re just starting out.”

It was around this time that I realized something…  I had focused most of my marketing on my print books for The Sword of Dragons.

And I realized that this probably was a mistake.

Why Was Print Important To Me?

Well, first of all, it still is…for one simple fact.  I love books.  I love physical books.  And all of my life, I’d dreamt of getting my books onto bookshelves.  In 2015, that dream became a reality.

But I still focused on it.  Still focused on getting people to buy printed editions.  Went to conventions to sell them (don’t worry, I still will :) ).  Urged people to buy them.

And I occasionally posted advertisements and sales on Kindle…whenever the whim struck me.

But I wanted my books to be read and to sit on bookshelves the world over!  I wanted to autograph them!  I wanted physical interaction, physical books, physical everything!

Why Should I Focus on eBook?

Because that’s frankly where the market has gone.  Not to say that I will not put out print editions or carry around printed editions to sell if I happen to run into someone who wants a copy.

A balance seems to have been struck between popularity of eBook vs. print, and I will always love and prefer physical books.  But what about the voracious readers, or as they called them in the panels, “serial readers,” the people who read an entire book every day?  Not only would buying printed books get expensive, but think of how much space they would need to store them?

Plus, as was noted in the panels, Kindle Unlimited is essentially the Netflix of books.  Pay a flat fee, and read as many books as you want.  It’s given voracious readers access to books at home unlike ever before.  Sure libraries are free, but if you found a book you wanted to read right now, and the library didn’t have it, you’d have to wait.  Or if you found an author you loved, but they only carried some of their books, you were out of luck, or at least had to wait for them to decide to bring in more of that author’s books.

Kindle Unlimited, it seems, is what is turning the tide in eBook’s favor.

And for self-published authors, it could very well be a good thing.  It gives the serial readers access to your books that they might never have had before.

Knowing that I hardly ever paid for advertising for The Sword of Dragons, I can tell you that when I first enrolled my books in KDP Select, I started seeing regular reads, which translated to regular royalties.  Granted, not a lot of money came in from that, but it was better than nothing.  And now that I’ve dropped my books out of KDP Select in anticipation of releasing the 2nd editions?  Nothing.

No sales.

That alone convinces me that, for a relatively unknown author like me, KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited is my best bet at getting people to give me a chance.

What Does This Mean About My Future Plans?

Rise of the Forgotten

Regarding my 2nd edition releases, and all future releases, well they’re still getting their physical copies.  I know that I’m not the only one in the world who loves physical books.  And if I can figure out how to sell it, I still want to sell a box set of the 2nd editions and The Orc War Campaigns.

However, I’ll also put more effort into the eBooks.  Last time I just let Kindle auto-convert my books to eBook format and did nothing else.  I didn’t inspect to ensure no conversion errors.  And as I already mentioned, I hardly paid for any advertisement.

That’s all going to change.  As I’ve said recently, it should be an author’s job to create the best product that they can, not just in quality of story and writing, but also in the actual product itself, its appearance.

I hope this is the right move.  I’m pretty sure it is :)

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik