Saturday, June 28, 2014


If you want to be an Indie author, you need to know how to market. Even if you go the traditional route, knowing how to market is better for you in the long run.

There are many marketing strategies out there and the best one is name recognition. I'm not talking about being Tom Clancy or J.K. Rowlings, though that's the end goal of name recognition. To show you that the name works over all stages of your career I'll go with a lesser known author by the name of Naomi M-B.

Have you ever heard of her? If you haven't then you're missing out! Here's a link to her profile:

So now you heard of her and if you took the time to follow the link and read some of her stuff you're going to remember her name and wait impatiently for her next update. You see, you could hear about the next big release from some big name author that you've never read, or you can hear about the next big release from an author you know and love.

When you know and love what an author has done in the past, you'll want to keep reading her because you know she'll deliver. This is why the best way to market is to write more than one book, each book will lead your readers to the other.

Even better is to write a series, where the reader is not only invested in the author but invested in the characters and the plots. When a reader invests that much, they'll keep coming back for the rest of the series.

Marketing can go both ways, when you market to your readers and begin to build a fan base there comes a certain expectation from them, which will help motivate you to deliver quality writing by your deadlines.

So really, the best marketing strategy is to write well and have a fan base who will tell others about you.

So far I haven't given you any tips on how to actually implement any of that, so I will do that right now.
Do interviews. Maybe you think you have to be invited to do interviews or that you must have a certain amount of notability. The latter is true, but you don't have to be as notable as probably you think.

If you request to do an interview with your newspaper, radio or any other medium you might be surprised by how receptive they are to having you. If you're shy about going live, interviews, like everything else, are done much differently now. You can do it on the phone, email or just classically face-to-face.

Make a promotional trial and post it to YouTube. Don't mistake this for actual marketing though, you'll have to market the promo.

Create an author page, where you can showcase your work.

Give things away for free. Not crap either. Give away something amazing, some of your best works. It doesn't have to stay free forever either. A good way to bring in readers is to give your first book away completely for free and sell the rest of the series.

Be personable and accessible. Let your fans see you as a person and give them access to you on Twitter, facebook and an email address. You may wish to set up two, one for your fans and one for friends and family.

And above all, don't be a spammer. Don't tell people to read your stuff or simply telling people about it who don't care. Know your target audience and what they'll view as spam. Don't try to force people you know to read your stuff either.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave one in the comment section below or email me at

Monday, June 16, 2014

When, why and how to kill your characters and who

In real life, death just happens, randomly, unexpectedly and often unspectacularly.

In fiction however death is quite the opposite. It's scarcely random, it is sometimes expected and it is always spectacular.

Why to kill your characters

In real life people die, so in fiction land characters should die. In certain series characters are often faced with constant danger and it's implied that they are risking their lives. However, fictional characters rarely die before it's dramatically appropriate.

So how does the reader feel when characters enter a life-or-death situation? The answer, is not much intensity at all because we fully expect them to live. Maybe the action is intense, but the readers aren't properly fearing for your characters lives.

So if you want the readers to feel like your characters might die in these situations, kill somebody. Which brings me to my next question.

Who to kill

This is the important question, who's gonna die? In many shows that have a high body count you can find the redshirts, the people who die for the sake of dying. If your familiar with Dunbar's number, or monkeysphere, you'll know why killing redshirts does next to nothing for your viewer.

Humans have a limited capacity to care about the death of other humans. Say a bus full of children die halfway around the world and you hear it on the news. People die every second and you don't know any of these children, or even how they look and it probably sounds cruel, but you won't be effected very much at all.

Say somebody that you knew and loved died, family members or friends, this is going to effect you because the person who died is in your monkeysphere. It's not about the quantity of people who are dying, it's about the quality of people who are dying.

So, if you're trying to set the tone, don't kill redshirt member #55, kill someone with a name, someone who matters.

Now I'm not trying to tell you to kill your main character, you probably shouldn't do this too early. Kill someone who is still really important, such as a secondary character. I'm also not telling you not to kill your main character, you just need to kill her at the right time.

When to kill your character

That depends largely on the type of character you're killing.

Redshirts should die early and often. They're the people who are there to set the tone, let the readers know that people are dying.

Secondary characters should die whenever it's dramatically appropriate. You'll want to kill a secondary character to send the message to your audience that people who matter can and will die in your world, so killing someone who matters really early on is a good way to establish this. Be careful with this though, if you send the message that you're going to kill characters you must actually follow though with this.

Of course, near the end of an arc is always a good time to kill characters and at and near the very end of the series.

What about the main character? She can't just up and die whenever you feel like it, it's generally expected that she won't die at all. If you are going to kill her the best bet is to do it near the very end of the series.

And she can't just die to be dying either.

How to kill your character

I won't bother telling you how to kill redshirts because as I explained before they don't matter. But what about one of your main characters?

First and foremost her death must mean something. She dies to save another character's life, she dies taking out the villain or making it possible for the hero to succeed. Or maybe her death just motivates the hero.

When she dies it's gotta be emotionally powerful, often she'll know full well that she's about to die and how she and the other characters react to her imminent death is as important as her actually dying. As she lays dying, she'll often utter final words to another character.

Then there's the actual dying. If your main character is in pursuit of the villain and walks into a warehouse that blows to bits, killing her instantly your audience will likely be less than satisfied to say the least.

However, if your main character dies after an epic battle with your villain while also killing her as well, your audience will more than likely be satisfied with how your chose to kill her.

Here's what not to do

Imagine a scenario when the heroes storm the villains liar and take out all the henchman and one of the major villains is there. They know that another villain is lurking around but that just proceed to talk, tend to each other or simply lollygag. Basically, they're not paying enough attention to the other villain; who comes in and kills one of the heroes while they're not looking.

Even worse than dying due to stupidity? Living due to stupidity. I wasn't talking about stumbling upon something that should kill you but for some reason doesn't, but that counts too. I was talking about when the villain has the hero and instead of killing her, she ties her to some death trap and she proceeds to be save. Or, you know, she just talks her ear off instead of pulling the trigger.

Resurrection. Don't do it, it's a very bad plot device and it's often abused. If someone else has to die for the resurrection to work than it's likely still unacceptable. This is just a cheap way for the hero to lose and still have to pay a price.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave some below in the comment section or email me at

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Managing your WIPs

Yeah, I know I haven't posted for two months, but I'm back now. I have a schedule to post once a week and I intend to stick to it.

If you're like me (and I believe most authors are), you have a massive backlog of WIPs and ideas for stories that you want to finish one day. I have nine WIPs and 23 ideas (according to how they're sorted in my file).

That's a lot of writing and you'd have to write at a serious pace to complete these 32 project, which is likely to continue to grow faster than you can write them. What you need to do, is come to terms with the fact that you are highly unlikely to ever write everything you want to in your lifetime.

But that's okay, not every idea you have is gold and it doesn't need to be written. The key is to recognize that before you invest time into a writing project.

1. Learn the difference between an idea and a concept
Ideas are the things that pop into your head, "An apocalyptic time!" "A utopian society!"

Go ahead and write those stories. You'll be stuck pretty soon, because there isn't very much at all to these ideas. You can expand these to concepts by taking a while to think about them, do some outlining, so later you can write your concept out like this.

"In a world devastated by an apocalypse, people go to terrible length to rebuild society as a utopia."

Concepts are more concrete, they give you a more descriptive and less general idea of what your story is supposed to be about.

So, I was planning on writing a list but it turns out that was all I had for it. Other telltale signs that your WIP might not be good enough are:

- Not enough subplots.
- Not enough conflict.
- Sagging middle (i.e. there's a beginning and end, but not much/anything happens in between)
- The plot is going all over the place.
- There's no plot at all

If your WIPs don't seem good enough, you can either improve it or scrap it. Life is too short to be writing stories that aren't good enough.

Organizing your WIPs
As I said before, I have two folders, one for ideas and one for WIPs. Granted, the WIPs are not all being currently worked on, why some of them are even in the WIP folder is beyond me, but I digress. The point is, I have many series that I am trying to write at once and that can get... hard.

I had tried focusing on one story at a time and this is usually a good idea, giving all your attention to one WIP. But there are times and stages in writing when it can get to be very taxing and feels like it is impossible to write.

This is the time when it's good to have another WIP to work on. However, jumping from one WIP to another is going to basically guarantee that nothing gets done. So what I did was gather 5 WIPs (and this blog) and put them into a daily organizer.

From Monday-Saturday I work on two of these WIP and most of them have clearly defined goals as to what constitutes completion, the ones that don't are undefinable. But it's a good idea to have definable goals so that you know what you're supposed to do and are capable of doing that day.

On Sunday I do anything I want to, which includes not writing at all. Of course, staying on schedule is not as important as getting your writing projects done, but if you find that you're never going on schedule than this method probably isn't for you.

One last thing before I go. Deadlines. Having deadlines shows you how much you need to do per day to hit your target, finding out that you need to write 1 strip a day is a lot less intimidating than having to write 111 strips.

It also gives you some accountability, being held accountable is important, otherwise this is not a business but a hobby.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to comment below or email me at