Last weekend I attended Supanova Comic-con in Brisbane, it a great learning experience with each convention I attend. How it can help promote yourself, to network with some fantastic creatives or just introducing someone into the world of writing and publishing. Then there are cons being at a Con, being ignored or laughed at, periods of times of boredom and desperation and can sometimes affect your manner of how you interact with new readers. Here are some observations I gathered from the Nova.
Next, to me was Clive Johnson, an experienced non-fiction writer who is now cracking into the fiction side of writing, in the genre historical fantasy. His first and second books in the series Eye of Egypt are The Pharaoh’s Greatest Gift and The Mirror Chamber; soon his third will be coming out, which will be called All will be Black. As this his first convention I was surprised in his understanding how these things work. I could assume that his past experiences in the field of writing gave him an edge. Having book bundles, a television having your book trailers playing also offering a prize through an email entry. Marvelous ideas. I am going to borrow some of these for April’s Cons.
Across the way was Avril Sabine, a speculative author with over fifty titles to her name. That wasn’t the most impressive part, the attention to detail of the booth she set up in Artist Alley. Solid pine desk, cupboard, bookcase, table and chairs. Also, the whole group were dressed up in steampunk costumes. It was an incredible sight; I felt like I was transported to her books and could relive them in this reality. During the weekend she had a least two interviews and a large number of pictures. As it isn’t right to ask how people go, I would assume that this would have benefited sales.
Then to my booth, it had one pull-up banner, one book also was my fellow author’s book Caligation by Brhi Stokes. I had posters of my ebook covers, designed by Julia Raymond of ShootingStarShooter, and had new flyers to help promote my books. This no means a horrible set up, as there were others set up similarly to me. As there is a lot to take in, you need that edge for people to come over and interact with you.
Looking forward, I can still improve, costumes, book trailers, new banners and more books. This Supanova is my third convention and each one I take something away so I can develop the next.
Conventions are an essential step for any author who writes in the speculative genre. It allows you to connect with new readers and expand your connections. You do also need to walk into this with an open mind; you might not break even or feel depressed by how people ignore you. Just remember this is a journey and you have taken the first steps, believe in yourself and great things will follow.
I am taking orders for my book Lake Merrin, head to www.samuelcolbran.com
The Protagonist is a half-human, an average guy looking for work and a roof over his head and food on the table. And of course, something happens that could rock the Duchy. As there are Adventurers/heroes everywhere, he has to ask ‘should he stand up to be a hero? And would it matter?’
Lake Merrin is a city in the North-Western part of Western Duchy, Favinonia. It is also known as Iron Dukedom. Duke Trahern Isenhart III is the ruler of Iron Dukedom, and his third cousin Count Darel Isenhart is the ruler of Lake Merrin, and it’s county.
Lake Merrin is home to twenty thousand people, and it has the second oldest Adventuring Hall in Favinonia; nearly nine hundred years old.
A post just went up in a group I am a part of, and the question was, are you a Quality or Quantity Author? After my disaster at the beginning of the year for my debut novel, Lake Merrin (and many weeks of depression) I realised that you need to become more than just a four-novel a year author, you have to produce four books but at high quality as well. Hence, becoming a Quality Quantity Author.
There were two articles for each argument to this, one by Lorraine Devon Wilke and the other by Dean Wesley Smith. Each has good points (links below), but being a fantasy writer and also talking to successful published authors like Kimberley Clark and Nick Earls, I came up with a different approach.
Producing four full-length novels (around 100k) would be hard, and yes the quality will drop but what about short stories or novellas?
By the end of this year, I will have published seven ebooks and three paperbacks, two of which are novellas. These short stories/novellas range between four thousand to 21 k each, some taking a week to write and others a couple of months. What this does is create a reputation as an author.
Each short story ebook cost me around $200, that is a cover artist and editor. The novella cost me another $150 for formatting and my new cover for the book $120. So three months of releases, 200 a month (600 in total) and in the fourth month a paperback another 270. The grand total (excluding printing) $870!
How much will it cost me to produce a novel, that could fluctuate between people? So far (minus my lousy choice of editor at the beginning of the year) it has cost me 4 to 5 thousand dollars.
I am not a rich man, but I do have an imagination that can think and produce many different story arcs, so if I produce one novel and at least twelve short read ebooks which will make around 4 novellas a year, why not?
At Oz Comic-Con, an author of four books commented on my novella; FableLands: Interrogation Part One, as breaking all the rules. It because in one book, I have three short serial reads in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and the first three chapters of my book Lake Merrin coming out in December. I responded ‘I became a writer, so I didn’t have to follow any rules except for the ones I deem important to my own creativity.’
The argument with taking your time with your writing will produce a good book, that is determined by your readers. I have raving reviews for my short reads, but if it all was based on one novel, I am not sure that I would have a similar following.
The more you write, the better you become. The more you push your boundaries, the more you can be creative. In the end, do what you want to do, not what the creative industry dictates you should do.
Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year by Lorraine Devon Wilke.
Don’t Be a Wuss, Write Four Novels a Year by Dean Wesley Smith.
Last Sunday during my regular writing group, I had an epiphany on my view of authors and writers, and the stages that they represent. This is my opinion, but I think it holds true. This is from talking and listening to other writers and paying attention to the raw data then collating it into a working theory. As I started to write this up for my upcoming workshop on author marketing and promotion. Understanding what stage you are at allows you to promote efficiency. This are generalisations, not like levelling up in an RPG. You can be at any stage or even jump from one to another without even knowing.
Really, I just like to categorise things 😀
Let first look at each stage.
The five stages of an author.
At the moment I think I am in the Semi-pro stage, just waiting for that opportunity to fire my bow hit that the next level.
What does each stage mean?
First off is Fledgeling or Beginner, that is someone who wants to write or has done some writing but hasn’t quite taken that next step saying to the world ‘Look I am here, and I am a writer.’
They might have entered a couple of competitions or joined a writing group. They are seeking the knowledge for that next stage. To realise that they are a writer.
Being an Amateur is someone who is now saying they are writing a novel and are doing it. This writer has just realised their journey, trying to decide if they want to go down the traditional path or self-publishing, but they not sure where or how to do that. So while they write their book-baby, they are doing workshops, going to master classes and getting advice from people further along than them.
The main difference between Fledgeling and Amateur is intent. That drive to finish their first manuscript and visualising the next stage.
Semi-pro is a known author, they have a website, social media platforms and a clear direction. They might not have published yet, but they are in the stages of doing so. They do regular posts about what is happening in their writing world and understand that social media is a tool but can be a double edged sword. They are also branching out to other writers to gather connections and reputation.
Now becoming Pro, as this is not me yet, all this comes from watching more successful author and going ‘how did they do that?’
From my experience, here is a gap between semi-pro and pro and that is reader interaction and money. Fan following. At Semi-pro, you have made a name for yourself in the writing community but jumping to the next level, a book is needed, but that isn’t all.
With the money side of things, is that step from being in the red isn’t so large. You can comfortably fund your creativity, profit maybe not so much.
Best Seller is just that, they have such a following people live off their work and words.
There is a secret stage, Legend, now this is special, and most writers will never know this level, but they love these author’s books and are usually the ones that inspire most authors. I know 15 of my top number one authors that have done such, like Tolkien, Rowling; or even EL James (who isn’t in my top 15 but is a good example of leaping into legend-hood).
These stages are always in flux, you could one day be a beginner and tomorrow submit your synopsis to Random House and be on the way to become the next Best Seller. This is a guideline on each stage. In my upcoming workshop at Gold Coast Writers Association, I will be discussing how I went from Fledgling to Semi-Pro and my methods of promoting.
To celebrate NAIDOC, I thought I would share a future story of mine. It is about an alternative world where the First Fleet didn’t happen, and now in this new empire of Àodàlìyǎ, the aboriginal people are the spiritual leaders of the nation.
This idea came to me why I was running a White Wolf game, Vampire the Masquerade. In this setting, you have a simple rule, only one vampire for every 100 thousand people. Which means having more than ten in a city in Australia, was strange and wrong.
So on the spot, I created a new Australia where in the book ‘1421 when China discovered the world’, they found Australia which was filled with our people. Instead of sending in armies or colonists, the Ming Dynasty saw the Aboriginal people as an enlightened race. Emperor Zhū Dì, Zhū Gāochì and Zhū Zhānjī send emissaries to Australia to learn of the Dreaming and the Culture of the people. This of course took many years, but eventually, leaders of then Native Aboriginals, came together to form a pact with the Ming Dynasty, where sharing of knowledge was the paramount agreement.
So over a hundred years, the Ming Dynasty traded with the new Council of Elders, and there was much travelling back and forth to mainland China and the shores of Àodàlìyǎ. Soon towns started to appear, and new concepts of agriculture and technology occurred but to appease the Council, it needed to be in alignment of the environment. Part of the landscape and honouring the land.
The formation of the Council of Elders, sent people to all walks of life in Àodàlìyǎ, more and more People came together to share knowledge and stories with others. By late 1500’s, all of Àodàlìyǎ was apart of the Council. Trade with the Māori and other island nations occurred, and the Council sent an invitation to the Māori Elders to join with them.
In the beginning 1600’s, the Dutch ‘discovered’ Àodàlìyǎ but didn’t find learn the fledgeling nation as they still looked at the mangroves of Northern Western Àodàlìyǎ. Due to the fall of the Ming dynasty in the late 1600’s many Ming nobles fled to Àodàlìyǎ to escape death in their homeland. There was no new contact with the new Shun Dynasty, as the pact made with the Ming and the because of the sanctuary is given to the old Dynasty. The integration of Chinese, Aboriginal and Māori people was well under way in the late 1600’s and the beginning of 1700’s. The Council used the knowledge gained from the Ming Dynasty to create many cities and towns, Māori trained to protect the shores of Àodàlìyǎ (which now includes New Zealand), and due to the fall of the Ming, many Chinese people came to Àodàlìyǎ to find a new home. Soon they became citizens of Àodàlìyǎ and eventually became part of the Council.
The integration of Chinese, Aboriginal and Māori people was well under way in the late 1600’s and the beginning of 1700’s. The Council used the knowledge gained from the Ming Dynasty to create many cities and towns, Māori trained to protect the shores of Àodàlìyǎ (which now includes New Zealand), and due to the fall of the Ming, Chinese came to Àodàlìyǎ to find a new home. Soon they became citizens of Àodàlìyǎ and eventually became part of the Council.
So now we move forward to Cook’s contact, which has changed. Cook landing on Àodàlìyǎ didn’t happen as our history tell us. Due to the contact with Ming China, the Council knew of the English and met with Cook and agreed with trade and contact with Àodàlìyǎ. Cook still saw a ‘primitive’ race, but he was deadly wrong.
Thus the First Fleet was boarded and captured by the Māori Defenders, and that goes into a whole new place.
There are still a lot of holes in this alternative history.
So that is my idea, there is more to it, but I think that is enough for people to digest.
With my main book, Lake Merrin on hiatus, I wanted to create my YA concept into a continuing short story series, my first two are out, Kayla: Genius, which has five 5 star reviews. Also a recent release Briana: Knight, part two of FableLands, in which we delve more into the mystery of Arcs and the FableLands. With part three, Ciro: Founder written as well with a release around the 25th of July. I started a new series based on my main book of the novelisation of Favinonia.
Last night I began to explore stories that in my creative mind, this one, in particular, is Rising of the Green, which in my books is one of the aspects of the Trinity, the state religion of Favinonia. A funny story from Supanova I was dressed up as a Paladin of the Orange (another aspect of the Trinity), and I was talking to a fellow boother about my costume. He asked ‘What are you wearing?’
I replied, ‘Oh, I’m in the garb of a Priest of the Orange aspect.’
‘Orange aspect? Is that religion, how long has it been around?’ He asked
At this point I went into creative mode, it is strange when you have created something in your mind, and you explain it as a real concept.
‘Well, the Orange aspect is a part of the whole, The Trinity. Orange represents Protection, Retribution and Passion. It started about 300 years ago, but it was a cult, to begin with..’
I’m not going to go blow for blow in that conversation, but in the end, he thought I was a priest of the Orange. I had to say ‘I am in a costume that is a fake religion in my fantasy world.’
At least one thing, my creation felt real to this guy, so win.
But back to the story that I started writing last night.
‘Rise of the Green’ is about Mara, the first Saint of the Trinity. She is the representing the truth of the aspect of the Green. Which is the Aspect of Agriculture and Life/Death; Toilers of the ground and healers of the sick. Saint Mela the Plague-ender, Life-giver and First-Saint; people who follow this aspect give thanks to the first saint for bringing the Trinity to Favinonia.
This story is about when she became the first saint and the rise of the second, her husband Jara of the Hammer (which will be the second story). I have always wanted to write about her, but I thought it was just going to be some small piece in a forgotten blog, but I can’t do that to Mother-Sister Mara!
So after ‘Rising of the Green: The Trinity’ will be the ‘Mission of The Orange: Trinity’ and finally ‘The Logic of the Blue: The Trinity’. Keep an eye out for these first three of my brand new series, Tales from Favinonia.
Here are some title for the future
James: Gentle Giant
Tales of Favinonia
- That Little Town: Travellers of the Road
- The Possessed: Travellers of the Road
- Guild of Thieves: ThiefTakers
- The Highwaymen: ThiefTakers
- Rising of the Green: The Trinity
- Mission of the Orange: The Trinity
- The Logic of the Blue: The Trinity
- The Gib-Gib Uprising: Crismon Peasants
- The Tome: Dark Fire
- Jara’s Crusaders: Amordous’ Lair
- The Fall of Greywalker Reach
- Magi College: Trials
- Magi College: Journey
- Magi College: Lich
Whole New Earth
Àodàlìyǎ: The New Empire
Àodàlìyǎ: The Dark Streets
Àodàlìyǎ: Skin Walkers
Àodàlìyǎ: Legends of Yesteryear
A marvellous insight into what makes us creatives tick. Thank you, Melissa H North for this fantastic blog.
There’s something charming and irresistible about creative people. She may have a quirky nature that lights up your day when you look at her newly finished painting on the easel or he may be the author of an intriguing novel, the words in which, have inspired change in your life. Musicians, writers, painters, scientists and […]