Tag Archives: fantasy

When Is It Time For A Cover Reveal?

Hi everyone!

I found myself struggling to come up with a blog article today, so the first thing I thought was, “Maybe it’s time to do a cover reveal for one of the new books!”

…but is it too soon to do that?

I honestly wasn’t sure what might be appropriate from a marketing point of view, so I decided to hit the search engines and start reading articles.  And pretty much immediately, the consensus was clear: not until your book is ready for pre-orders.

Do you agree?

Rise of the Forgotten

I’ve already done a partial reveal with the text on the titles, and I’ve received proof copies of Rise of the Forgotten and Burning Skies, both of which revealed a couple minor tweaks that are needed (and already fixed on the digital files.)  But should I wait for a complete reveal?

I think it makes sense to an extent.  That first impression can come with a buy impulse for a reader.  “That looks cool, I wanna buy that!”  So pre-orders would hopefully mount up.  Where as if I revealed the cover now, but pre-orders weren’t ready for another 4 or 5 months, people’s initial excitement might be long lost and pre-orders might be less than stellar.

So for the moment, I’m going to hold off on the cover reveal.

I want this release to be done right.  I want to learn from the mistakes I made in the past.  And I want to give my readers the best experience that I can.

What I can say is that I’m still strongly thinking about a pre-order bundle somehow that will include all 3 books (Rise of the Forgotten, Burning Skies, and The Orc War Campaigns) as well as a printed map, either of Edilas or of all of Halarite.

I’ve recently done just a test print on an 8.5×11 paper with an aged parchment effect, and I like it!  If a print service can do this larger, and on the right kind of paper, this would definitely make for a neat extra to throw in with pre-orders!

The only challenge I’m running into right now is a platform to sell the bundle through.  Etsy is a no-go because they only allow the sale of hand-crafted items, not printed books.  So I need to find a venue appropriate to such a sale, and eBay doesn’t strike me as appropriate.  Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Thank You For Your Patience

Before I sign off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave me words of support last month after my Mother passed away.  You words warmed my heart.  :)  I went nearly a month without a new blog, but I’ve still been seeing visits, comments, and likes on past blogs, and I’m grateful to everyone.

See you all next week!

-Jon Wasik

Advertisements

Sustainable Writing and Publishing

Hi everyone, welcome to 2018!

What if I told you that writing as much as humanly possible and publishing as much as humanly possible…wasn’t necessarily the best way to go?

I’ve written before about all of the research I’ve done over the question ‘can you make a living as a writer?’ and I’ve learned so much about the industry.  And one of the things I’ve learned is that many of the new authors who make a living these days often do so through volume – they write and publish, a lot.

I should have dug deeper.  But then, the self-publishing market is kind of a new thing, relatively speaking.  Who knew where the trend was going to go?

In reading a recent blog article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which led me to another, and then to another, the market has matured, and many self-published authors are trying to write more to keep up.

Writers are getting burned out.  And many of the new big-hitters from the past decade have apparently disappeared.

Burnout can be a problem in any career, any job.  But Rusch made a very good point in her blogs:

“If you want to sustain your writing and publishing businesses, you have to stop thinking like a manufacturer. You need to start thinking like an artisan. By that I mean, you are “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.””

Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

When I read that article, it made me think about my own experience turning out a novel in record time.  When I wrote Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy, I developed, wrote, and put it through two rounds of editing/proofreading in 3 months.  I was proud of myself for that.

However, the product wasn’t the best it could be.  I finished it on a deadline to pitch it at a writer’s conference, and the pitch went well, but when the agent read the product itself, she said that it needed a lot of work.  And she was right.

More than that, I had spent every single night after work, and every single weekend day, working on it as much as I possibly could.  That on top of a full time job meant I had time for little else except the essentials (grocery shopping, etc.)  That kind of effort was unsustainable.  It was exhausting

Making the Strongest Product You Can

Writing fiction is an art.  This includes in the cinema, although Disney seems to have turned it into a manufacturing job based on their extremely aggressive Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars Universe release schedule.  To their credit, they have probably dozens of writers working on the stories.  But they’ve also run into problems (and thus keep having to fire directors and restart filming on Star Wars movies, always citing ‘creative differences.’)

For those of us who don’t have an entire team of writers at our beck and call, putting out a novel a month, even one every three months, is insane.  I’ve even read that many consider one per year to be aggressive for a single writer.

And when a writer burns out, there’s no one else around to pick up the slack for them.  Their business growth falters.  Their income slows or stops.  And if they didn’t plan ahead for that…they’re in trouble.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Photo Source – http://www.parcjeandrapeau.com

As Rusch stated, being a self-published writer is a marathon, not a sprint.  Sprinting is not sustainable long-term.  And I’ve come to understand (even if I unconsciously knew it before) that the only way to eventually ‘make it’ as a writer is to settle in for the long-haul.  And to not jump the gun.

I want to write full time, badly.  Writing is my passion.  That’s why I’ve been doing it for well over 20 years.  And I’ve come such a long way in the past 3 years.

I also have a long ways to go.  And sprinting to that finish line wouldn’t be the best idea in the world.  I’ll arrive exhausted, if I even make it there at all.  And then I won’t be able to keep going.

A novel in 3 months is impressive, but that novel won’t be ready for publication for a long time.  In the mean time, I have the Sword of Dragons series to finish.

Release Schedule?

One of the things I’m having to let go is the ability to have a dead-locked release schedule.  I originally had a plan to finish the Sword of Dragons series by 2020.  It’s now 2018 and I haven’t even finished writing book 3.

And that’s okay.  I’m going at the pace I can sustain while maintaining life and sanity.  Plus, more than ever, I’m convinced that my re-branding of the series is a worthwhile move.

Because it took me over 2 years to learn that releasing the best product that I can, rather than a mediocre product at a fast pace, is more important.

When a reader pays $15 for a print novel or $5 for an eBook, they’re investing more than just money – reading takes time.  And investment in the characters.  They’re taking a risk by buying your product, especially if they have never heard of you before, or your story.

So make it the best damn novel you can.  I don’t just mean the writing, either.  Make it the best product that you can.

And however long that takes is however long it takes.

-Jon Wasik

2017 Hardships, 2018’s Promises

Hi everyone!

7 hours from now (where I live,) 2017 will become a memory, and that memory is full of mixed feelings for me.  Some of my greatest joys, some of my hardest sorrows.  Today being the last day, I thought I would end things with my annual ‘glancing back, and looking forward’ blog :)

Writing Without Publishing

After two years in a row of publishing, 2017 was the first year where I didn’t publish a single new novel.  And for much of the 2nd half of 2017, that meant depression for me…I already had a plan moving forward for my writing career, but I knew nothing would be ready for publication in ’17.

However, a recent article I’ve read by another author has reminded me that there’s something more important than pumping out novel after novel like a factory.  Writing is an artisan career, and sustainable writing is more important than mass production.  But I want to spend an entire blog writing more on that.  For now, let me just pass on the word – you don’t have to write 20 novels a year to be a successful author.  That leads to burn out.  Just do the best you can, and don’t forget to live a little.

Burning Skies Cover Preview

On the bright side, I have made considerable headway this year, especially in the 2nd half, towards the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books 1 and 2, as well as finally getting the Orc War Campaigns anthology ready for print!

I’ve learned a lot about the market, far more than I ever anticipated, and I think I’m a little more prepared to move forward in my writing career in 2018.

Engage!

One of the greatest highlights of ’17 was the day I proposed to my beautiful Starshine, Beck Stewart!  Since that day, we have moved in together and begun living and planning our lives together.  After more than a year together, and nearly a year engaged, I am happier than I ever thought possible with my relationship.

Fellow author, artist, geek, and weird like me ;) She has been my rock, my muse, my voice of reason.  She’s helped me keep the demons back, helped my writing move forward, and encouraged me every single day.  Thank you, Moon of my Life!

2018 – Three Books At Once?!

Rise of the Forgotten

With everything I have learned about writing, marketing, and cover art, I came to a decision in the last couple months: when I release the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books, I plan to release them together, along with the Orc War Campaigns anthology.  That’s right, 3 books at one time!

As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually not a stretch, and in fact gives me the time I need to get everything prepared, and actually make the books look like they belong together, both with their covers and their interiors.

In fact, as of tomorrow, I’ll have finished editing Burning Skies!  At least, until I read through the proof copy.  I’m sure I’ll find more to fix with that.

But that’s my system – I have a proof of Rise of the Forgotten, and when I finish editing Burning Skies, I’ll order that proof while moving on to The Orc War Campaigns.  Once I finish that and order its proof, I’ll go back and read through Rise of the Forgotten’s proof copy, and so on.

When will these three be released?  I don’t know yet.  But I’m working quickly.

The Year I Get Married!

The first half of 2018 is going to be busy for another reason – my marriage is coming up fast!  And that means more and more of my time outside of work will need to be devoted to preparations.  I’m hoping I get proof copies of all 3 books before then, but I’m not going to rush.

That’s a difficult lesson 2016 and 2017 have taught me – rushing stories out isn’t the best idea.  Working under a deadline is one thing, but as I mentioned before, sustainable writing is more important.  I don’t want to burn myself out.

I know this is a writing blog, but I hope you all will understand if I indulge now and again and post news regarding my upcoming wedding :)

Happy New Year!

Thank you to everyone who visited in 2017!  Much to my surprise, my blog has received more new followers and views this year than in 2016, and I’m so glad you all have found your way here!

See you all next year!
-Jon Wasik

Warmer in the Winter Concert – Lindsey Stirling

Hi everyone!

Last night, my fiancee and I had the exciting experience of attending Lindsey Stirling’s Warmer in the Winter concert!  This is the fourth Stirling concert I’ve been to, and as is always the case, I was not disappointed!

Image Source – https://twitter.com/lindseystirling/status/931781927937261568

But why am I talking about concerts on a blog about writing?  Because of Stirling’s history, where she was and how far she’s come, and how she’s gotten there.

Because there are days when I need a reminder…

I know I’ve talked about Lindsey Stirling before, in fact it was after the first concert I attended that I made the decision to self-publish.  Not only does her music speak to me, but the story of her rise to stardom has inspired me.

And last night’s concert reminded me why.  During one of the breaks between numbers, she spoke of how she gets to live her dream every day because of her fans, but before her rise, she would play anywhere and everywhere she could get a gig, even in school cafeterias.  She did anything she could to get her voice, or rather her violin, heard.

Image Source – speakola.com

She got her shot when she tried out on America’s Got Talent, but was shot down by the judges.  I can imagine how she must have felt, being told she wasn’t good enough.  And somehow that reminded me of Peter Dinklage’s speech that I wrote about several months ago, when he mentions how the world will keep telling you that you aren’t ready.

Now Lindsey is one of the most popular performers out there today, and her star shines brighter than ever.

How many times have people told me that I’ll never make it as a writer?  That it’s impossible?  That it’s a pipe dream?  There are days when I find myself wondering if those people are right.

But there was something else Stirling spoke about that struck a chord in my heart and helped me regain my composure.  It was when she spoke about her battle with depression, when she used to look in the mirror and wonder if she had anything worth contributing to the world.

Fast forward several years later, and the answer is yes, she did have something worthwhile to contribute.

These concerts, her story, they remind me that though I may run into roadblocks often, though I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder…I believe I do have something worthwhile to contribute.

And so I keep going.  I keep writing.  I keep publishing.  I may never have a rapid rise to stardom, but I know that if I keep going, if I keep working hard at it, then no matter what happens, I’ll have left something behind that is worthwhile.

Plus, I’m reminded often that there are people who like my stories.  I’ve sold hundreds of copies of the first Sword of Dragons novel through Kindle and print, and the Amazon reviews may not be numerous, but they are positive.

Not to mention the positive things people say to me when they meet me.  Or when they send me emails.  I recently received an email from a long-time reader of my fan fiction series, expressing his sadness that I’m shutting down my fan fiction website in the near future.  He was emailing me back in the early 2000’s when STDragon was still live!

So I just need to remember all of those facts.  Remember the fans, those who have read all of my work, who encourage me to write more, and just keep going.  Someday, I’ll get to write full time, even if it isn’t until I retire from I.T. work.  Until then, I’ll just keep going.

I’ll never give up.

A Brief Holiday

Hi everyone,

Due to the busy schedule ahead of us and the upcoming U.S. holiday, I won’t be able to write a blog today, and I probably won’t be able to next weekend either :(  I’m really sorry!

However, I wanted to leave you all with some good news and with a question!

Rise of the Forgotten

First the good news: I’ve completed the final edits for Rise of the Forgotten!  I’m really excited about this, because there’s not much left for me to do before I can setup and order a proof copy!  I’ve already purchased the license for cover art for books 1 through 3 and the cover art for Orc War Campaigns, so all I have left to do is finalize the maps!

And one other thing to finish, a part I’m struggling with…the “About The Author” page.  I don’t like what I’ve written in the 1st editions of books 1 and 2, but I don’t know how to re-write it.  I’ve already had one friend give me really good suggestions on facebook, but, my question to you all:

What are some of your favorite “About The Author” pages that you’ve read before?  Or, if you’re a writer, what have you written for yours in the past?

Thanks for reading, and to those celebrating this weekend, Happy Thanksgiving!

-Jon Wasik

Do Constraints Mold The Best Art?

I read an article not long ago that made an interesting claim: placing constraints on an artist helps create the best art, while giving an artist total free reign, IE “the sky is the limit” often results in monstrosities.

Of course, I don’t have the article to re-read, and so I cannot remember the examples they gave.  But, the idea came back to me today and I realized that in some ways, there may be truth to it.

Let’s take the most basic (or perhaps extreme) example: spelling, grammar, punctuation.  If you tell a writer “no rules” you’re going to get something that’s difficult to read, if not impossible in some cases.

An example:

“OMG can u imagene readding a entire 300 pg b00k likE THis?”

…That was painful just to write!  Almost as painful as reading Washington Irving’s run-on sentences!

But what about less obvious examples?  As I’ve found out the hard way, there are rules about genre, and while it might not be too bad to bend those rules to make it interest, flat-out breaking them might work against the writer.

Image Source – https://cbsdenver.files.wordpress.com

The best example I can think of is a topic I’ve already talked about: novel cover art.  When I first started considering cover art for The Sword of Dragons, I remember looking at the fantasy section of Barnes and Noble and thinking, “All these covers look similar.  I know!  I’ll do something completely different, that’ll make my book stand out!”

Except…it didn’t.  Not in the way I wanted it to.  Yes, I made it look very different from regular fantasy novels.  And so anyone looking to read a fantasy novel didn’t even bother to pick it up, or more likely, didn’t bother to click on it on amazon.com to see what it was about.

But there’s more than just cover art to consider…

Tropes of Fantasy

I’m a fan of taking a typical fantasy trope and turning it into something just a little different.

Image Source – http://dartgarry.deviantart.com/

For instance, a typical trope about dragons is that they are fire-breathing creatures who live in caves guarding a hoard of treasure.  In the first Sword of Dragons novel, there is, in fact, a dragon living in a cave, and she is indeed guarding something of incredible value, but rather than an evil beast greedily guarding gold, she is protecting the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Is it possible to take this too far?  Initially I might say yes, but then I look at examples like Game of Thrones.  In most fantasy novels, the heroes live and achieve their goals, and the heroes are often very clearly defined from the villains.  Neither of these tropes are true in Game of Thrones.

But is that an exception?  What was it about GoT that made it so popular?  Honestly I don’t know, but it seems like this has created a sort of sub-genre of fantasy.  I’m curious to see how many more venture into this type of fantasy, successfully.

And in all honesty, I’m not sure what rules should or shouldn’t be followed, when it becomes okay to break rules or tropes.

For my own part, I do enjoy a lot of fantasy tropes, they are why I like the genre.  Dragons and magic in particular draw me in.  I intend to continue to toe the line, keeping some fantasy tropes intact, while turning others on their heads.

Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

For instance, dwarves will start to play a bigger part in books 3 and 4, but they won’t be exactly what you’ve come to expect from dwarves.  You’ve already seen in book 2 that they once lived underground, as is typical for dwarves…but they definitely don’t anymore.

I also do not like the “Damsel in Distress” trope.  Even if there’s ever a female character in need of rescuing in my novels, it’s usually not done in the typical way (for instance, Elaria in the first Sword of Dragons novel.)  I’m all for ‘damsels in distress’ rescuing them selves, like Princess Leia did!

In any case, to answer the initial question of this blog, I think it helps to have constraints.  Movie productions have shown that an unlimited budget aren’t necessarily going to create a better product.  But sometimes, just sometimes, there are those that can break the typical rules and succeed.

It all depends on the circumstances, and perhaps even the luck of the draw.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

When Is It Too Late To Add Something New?

Hi everyone!

First I want to apologize for the lack of a blog post last week.  It was a busy weekend, plus my ADHD was extremely bad :(  I sat down to at least write a “Sorry no blog post this week” and just…nothing would come out, I couldn’t focus at all.

Adding New Genre Elements

Anywho, on to today’s blog topic!  When is it too late to add something new to a series?  A new element, a new story line…I guess that’s rather vague, so perhaps I’ll jump right into why I’m asking this question.

My previous blog entry talked about developing the story for book 4 of the Sword of Dragons series (which, by the way, is already shaping up to be more complex than book 3, story-wise!)  Part of the development has involved trying to give more time and attention to the supporting characters.

This led to an element I’ve known for years I wanted to introduce: airships, and an airship captain as a character.  But I didn’t know who to make that character, what that character would be like.  So I started thinking about that.

Image Source – http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Gnome

Initially I started going down the path of a gnome.  In some fantasy stories, especially Warcraft, that is typical: gnomes are steampunk engineers in the Warcraft universe.  I also wanted this new captain to flirt heavily with one of the female supporting characters already introduced (I’m intentionally not saying whom at this time, spoilers ;) )

But then I thought, no, because of Warcraft, gnome engineers and airship captains has kind of become a staple of fantasy, and I wanted to do something different.

I still don’t know exactly what species, but I’ve also tried to increasingly show women in strong positions, so I decided I’m going to make the airship captain a woman…but then, I still wanted to do the story line involving the flirtation with the supporting character I mentioned.

Image Source – http://legendofthecryptids.wikia.com/wiki/Airship_Captain_Sally

And that’s where I come to the meat of this post.  To avoid spoilers, I won’t say if a relationship ever sparks up between these two characters, but I have not yet explicitly shown or featured homosexuality in my series.

Why?  I could go into a detailed explanation, but it basically boils down to the fact that when I first started developing Sword of Dragons over 15 years ago, it was still a very taboo topic and I didn’t give it much thought.

First and foremost, I know that this would alienate some existing readers who are extremely anti-homosexual.  But it would also attract readers from the LGBTQ+ community.  I don’t want to get into the topic of “is it right or wrong” at this time, that is not the focus of this blog post.

But this does mean that I’ll be introducing a completely new element into the 4th novel of the series.  Actually, 2 elements, one that has been intended for some time, and one not.

This does not mean that the Sword of Dragons series will become a steampunk novel series or a homosexual erotica series.  It will remain, at its core, a fantasy adventure series.  But just like all fantasy adventure or sci-fi, it is a genre that can include elements of many other genres without it being out of place.

Image Source – https://digitalart.io/digital-art/fantasy-art-horror-warriors-wallpaper

Fantasy stories can also be romances (and often are.)  They can be horror.  They can even be buddy-cop type stories (that could be an interesting story to write someday!)  Or murder mysteries.  They can be about individuals or about entire worlds, they can cover small personal struggles, massive interplanetary wars, and everything in between.

If you’ll pardon the pun, that is the magic of fantasy.  It can be just about anything!  It can take the writer and the reader anywhere their imaginations can fathom.

The hard part is making something new and fresh while also keeping it consistent.  So what do you think, dear readers?  Is book 4 too late to introduce these new elements, whether planned or not?

In case you’re thinking back and wondering, both of these elements were previously hinted at in the series.  The steampunk is a combination of magic and technology, IE science and magic together.  That has been hinted at in that I’ve made the physics of the universe, outside of magic, work like reality.  Planets orbiting stars, etc.  And the LGBTQ+?  Well, I’m still wondering how many people have picked up on it, but let’s just say you might take a closer look at the final episodes of The Orc War Campaigns :)

Update on Rise of the Forgotten

I’m about halfway through chapter 27 on editing!  I’ve been focusing more on the edits than the map-making lately, mostly because that has aligned with my schedule and opportunity.  But since I’m almost finished with edits, that means it’ll soon be time to finish the map and get a proof copy of the novel ordered!  I’m hoping by December I’ll have the first proof copy in hand.

I can’t wait to be able to release it for you all to read!  :D

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik