Writing

10 Days of Halloween Specials – Day 9: Fantastic Fiction Decoded

This one’s specifically for all those who dream of writing for a living…

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Dungeon Crawlers Radio Interview

This past Monday (10/21/13) I was back on with Revan and the gang over at Dungeon Crawlers Radio for an interview about the third Jeremiah Hunt book, Watcher of the Dark.  Have a listen below (I come in at the 37:06 mark…)  [modal id="4340" style=button color=default size=default][/modal]

 

A Three Month Look at Ebook Piracy

Several months ago I released all three of my Templar Chronicles books through Amazon’s Kindle store. The first, The Heretic, had been previously available in English, but books two and three had not, making this the first time a customer could buy and read all three books in the trilogy back to back.

Within 48 hours of the books going live on Amazon.com, I found pirate copies being sold all over the internet.

Now, I had chosen not to use DRM, since I can’t stand the way its handled at the moment, so I’m not at all surprised that this happened.  Wait, that’s not right.  I’m not surprised that this kind of thing happens – I was surprised that it happened to me, because I certainly am not well enough known to support rabid piracy of my work.  But how badly does this practice impact the livelihood of  more prominent authors? I wondered.

I’d heard arguments for and against ebook piracy for some time before that point, but never really paid too much attention to them.  It was a kind of distant concern for me, as I was just starting out and didn’t think anyone would be interested in pirating the one or two that I had available.  But as my backlist grew right alongside the popularity of digital reading devices, I began to pay more attention.  When I found the Templar Chronicles splashed all over the net, I sat up and took notice.

I read between four and six books per week on average.  99% of them are fiction, more often than not in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller genres.  I wondered if it was possible to find every book I was interested in reading during a three month period online.  While certainly not a precise scientific experiment, the results would give me some sense of just how rampant the problem was and what it was likely to look like in the future as the popularity of digital media continued to grow.

Now before anyone asks, no, I don’t have the kind of book budget that lets me buy 4-6 books a week.  I generally buy one or two and get all of the rest from my local library.  (We’ll come back to the issue of libraries in a few minutes.)  And no, I did not download the books that I found, with the exception of a few to verify that they were indeed, complete books, and not partial scans.  I deleted those that I checked in this manner and then promptly purchased that book from my local bookstore as a way of supporting the author.

So, on to my experiment.  The first thing I did was sit down and make a list of fifty titles.  Some of them were currently available.  The rest were due to be released somewhere in the next ninety days.  I tried to split them up over the various genres I read regularly, but I wasn’t all that scientific about it.  It was just a list of books that I was interested in, really.

Once I had my list, I picked three random pirate sites to watch on a regular basis. I’m not going to go into how I found the particular sites I used for my test, because I have no intention of encouraging more piracy.   I will say that I selected the three that I did because they had an entire forum or tag category devoted to either fiction or novels, which would cut down my search time and efforts throughout the “experiment.”

Turns out three sites was one too many.

Twenty-seven of the books on my list had already been released and I was able to find nineteen of them within the first few days of searching the contents of just two of those pirate sites.   With that level of success, I dropped the third site as being unnecessary.  The other eight books had only been released a week or so before I started my experiment and it took a few more weeks for all of them to turn up online.

At four books a week that would have taken care of my reading needs for just shy of 7 weeks.

Over the next two months, I was able to find the other 23 books on my “want-to-read” list online as well, often within days, if not hours, of their scheduled print release.

Every single book I wanted to read, without exception, was available and all I had to do to find them was keep my eye on two different forums.  Now multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of websites out there offering illegal ebook downloads and you begin to get a sense of the size of the problem.

Which brings us to the so-called counter argument.

“So what?” some people say.  “If I lend a book to a friend, he isn’t paying for it either.”   Or the often used “If I own the hardcopy, I should have access to the digital versions as well.”

While I understand the convenience of the latter, I can’t readily agree with the reasoning behind either stance.  Especially the first.  A single physical book can only be shared with one physical person at a time.  You can’t split it up between twenty friends, can you?  So the author missed out on the royalty for a single book sale because you passed it on to a friend, but most authors I know would be willing to trade that for the chance that to gain another fan and the potential that he or she will go out and buy some of their other books.  In other words, it would balance out in the end.

But with pirated copies of digital books, I can share that book with literally thousands of other people, all at the same time.  And as an author I most likely lose out on the potential for that reader to buy my other books as well – if new releases are so readily available, there is no reason to think they will go out and buy the next book instead of simply downloading it the same way they did the first.

I’ve heard some people claim that downloading a book off the internet is the same as taking it out of the library.  Not true.  Aside from the fact that a library only has a certain number of copies available to loan to customers, there’s also the fact that libraries pay for each copy of the books in the first place, which helps support the writer.

So what’s the solution?  How do we embrace the portability and convenience of digital content while also protecting the rights and livelihood of the writers who produce it?

I don’t know.  Smarter people than me have been trying to figure that one out for years now.  One thing I do know, however, is that education is part of that solution, whatever it turns out to be, and be raising the issue in this way I hope to call some attention to it.

But please, don’t tell me that ebook piracy doesn’t matter.  If a guy who reads as many books as I do could simply stop buying books altogether because everything I’m looking for has been pirated online, its a much bigger problem than most people think.

(PS – I had originally intended to display the fifty books on my list and provide a link to them so people could show support by buying a copy, but decided that letting people know that pirate copies of these particular books were available somewhere on the internet was contrary to the point of it all.  Suffice to say that the list contained both NYT bestsellers and debut novelists with barely a following yet.  It made no difference to the pirates.)

[Image courtesy of spaceninja. Some rights reserved.]

Special Coaching Offer

If you are currently getting ready to send your book or proposal out on submission, I’ve got a special coaching offer designed just for you.

My Book Proposal Review service will give you a comprehensive review of your proposal, from the cover letter to the sample chapters, and help you feel more confident that you’ve got a first-class, professional presented product ready to send out to your agent or editor of choice.   Even better, its extremely affordable.

My Book Proposal Review service include:

  • A review of your entire proposal package, from cover letter to sample chapters
  • A written evaluation highlighting the areas that work well and those that need additional effort
  • A 30 minute coaching call that answers any questions your might have about the evaluation
  • Specific suggestions on how to research and approach agents and publishers

I’ve sold fourteen novels, all on proposal, so you’ll also be getting the benefit of my years of experience and knowledge focused on you and your project.

So how much does this actually cost?

The introductory price for the next few weeks is only $50.00!

I’ll be making this a regular part of my coaching repertoire in the spring and will be raising prices at that point, but for now you get a smoking deal and a complete review of your book proposal for less than the price of a night out at the local steak house.

So how do you get started?

Use the Paypal button below and include the email you want me to use to contact you. I’ll get in touch, have you send your materials, and give you a quick turnaround date for when you can expect your written evaluation. It’s that simple! Why wait?






Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

In follow-up to Quirk Classics’ widely successful novel from last year, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, comes a new novel of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem!

This is perhaps the first book trailer that I’ve actually enjoyed.  It perfectly captures the feel of the era, the stumbling nature of our would-be hero, and the sliminess of the villain!  (Never mind it’s an extremely well shot little video)

Kudos to all involved.

HERETIC sampler book available

In honor of the limited and lettered editions of HERETIC being made available for preorder, I thought I’d provide a sampler for people to check out.  This way, you can read the prologue and the first few chapters of the actual novel, decide if it is the kind of thing you might like, before reserving your copy from Full Moon Press.

Click on the image below to check out the new digital sampler. (You can also print it or save it as a pdf for reading on your ebook device if preferred.)

A Little Progress

Word today is that both Lionsgate and Marvel Studios have reached independent agreements with the Writers Guild of America to allow writers to resume work on their projects. From my view, this is good news – every single studio that breaks from the pack and signs agreements with the WGA makes the WGAs overall position stronger in the negotiations. Maybe we’ll see an end to this in the near future after all.

Keep it up, folks!

Publishing as Blood Sport

A few months ago I was chatting with friend and fellow writer, Jon Merz, about ideas for a book to work on together. It just so happens that we are both martial artists and follow the sport pretty avidly. Mixed martial arts, or MMA as it is known, is the fastest growing contact sport in the US, with a fan base that makes Nascar fanatics seem tame in comparison. Knowing this, we brainstormed different ways we might combine our passion for mixed martial arts with our passion for writing and came up with the idea to do a non-fiction expose on one of the major MMA organizations.

Jon had just finished writing The Complete Idiots Guide to Ultimate Fighting and by chance happened to know one of the senior executives at the International Fight League, a major MMA organization and the only one who approached the sport as with a team, rather than individual, concept. The IFL is a truly innovative organization when it comes to MMA promotions and we believed they would be an excellent partner to work with, so we arranged a meeting and pitched our idea to their top execs.

The folks at the IFL loved what we came up with and enthusiastically endorsed our concept. They gave us unparalleled access to the organization, from the day-to-day operations to the coaches and fighters themselves. Whatever we needed, they said, just ask. With their complete backing, Jon and I took our proposal to our agent.

Like the guys at the IFL, our agent was excited to take the project out to publishers. A sure hit, he called it, a blockbuster if he ever saw one. And he wasn’t just blowing smoke up our asses – he loved the idea as much as we did and after working in publishing for more than thirty years we were confident that he knew what he was talking about.

We turned the proposal into an event, sending it to a dozen publishers with a specific deadline attached, and sat back waiting for the offers to come in. This was it, our ticket to the big leagues, we thought.

Trouble was, we forgot that getting a deal isn’t as easy as just convincing an editor that the book is a good one.

For those who have never been through the process, here’s how it works. A writer puts together a proposal and send it off to the editors he’s carefully selected (or, as in our case, let’s his agent do so). The editor decides if he likes the proposal and, if he does, agrees to take it to the editorial board meeting. At the meeting, the editor pitches the book to the representatives from the various departments – editorial, marketing, sales, art, etc – and tries to convince them that one of the precious slots they have open on their publishing schedule should go to this project.

We heard from several editors who agreed that the project looked excellent. They informed us that they would be pitching at the next editorial meeting and would get back to us as soon as they knew something more. Convinced that we would have a deal in place, Jon and I travelled to the Open Tryouts that the IFL was hosting to build up their roster for the 2008 season, figuring it would make a terrific chapter in the book. We interviewed prospective fighters and some of the IFL top coaches, we took a few hundred photographs, and generally had a great time.

Meanwhile our enthusiastic editors were being shot down by, of all people, the sales departments.

See, there are only a handful of books out right now on mixed martial arts. Of the five I can think of off the top of my head, three of them are personality books, meaning they focus on select individuals in the sport rather than the sport overall. The other two happen to be instruction manuals. Which meant there wasn’t anything our there for the sales departments to compare our book to, to help them figure out what to expect with regard to sales, returns, and the like. In addition, there wasn’t any statistics that they could point to in order to show that the millions of fans who tuned into the weekly television shows and pay-per-view specials would pick up a book about the sport.

It didn’t matter what ammunition we provided to the editors – and trust me, we had it all, from network ratings data to growth projections for 2008 and beyond – each and every time the book was presented the sales departments shot it down, claiming that they weren’t sure that they could sell it.

And just like that, our brilliant idea died a quiet little death through no fault of our own.

We’d written a terrific proposal. We had the complete backing of a major MMA organization who was offering us unbelievable access to every aspect of the 2008 season. We had hand-picked editors who routinely bought sports-oriented books and publishers with an excellent track record of promoting such works with enthusiasm. In short, we’d done everything possible to make the project a success.

And it still wasn’t enough.

Sometimes, timing is everything. If one little cog of the publishing machine jams up, the whole thing can swiftly go out of whack and that’s exactly what happened to us. The idea was new and original, the sport was relatively new, there hadn’t been more than a handful of books on the sport with which to compare it – all the things that got the editors excited about the project were exactly the things that made the sales departments nervous. If there had been a track record of best-selling mixed martial arts books, we would have struck gold, as every other department was as excited about is as we were. But since there wasn’t, all it took was that one No to send us packing.

What’s the moral of the story? Remember that convincing the editor that your project is a good one is only the start of the battle. There’s an entire team involved in publishing and you need each and every one of them on your side in order to be successful.

(Originally published at www.storytellersunplugged.com)

HOLY HORRORS TOC

Several months ago I submitted a story to an anthology called Holy Horrors, edited by T.M. Wright and Matt Cardin.  The anthology was designed around the idea of collecting horror tales with a religious theme, one that certainly appealed to me given the usual content of my writing.

I procrastinated with the story for some time, but finally finished it up just a day before the deadline.  My story, “On This Day of Reckoning” is a tale told through the eyes of a Catholic priest who has a crisis of faith just days before the Rapture and as a result is left behind when the apocalypse comes.  I was pleased when Terry wrote to let me know that my tale had made the cut.

Yesterday, the editors released the final Table of Contents (TOC) for the book and I’ve posted it below.  The mix between known authors and newcomers is very good and the number of stories is excellent.  This is an anthology I am highly looking forward to.  (No news yet on who the publisher is, but I’m sure the editors will arrange a quality one.)

So, without further rambling, here is the list: (title, authors, word count)

HOLY HORRORS Table of Contents

1. “Intentions” by William Freedman. 7800
2. “Saviour” by Gary A. Braunbeck. 6200
3. “The Sect of the Idiot” by Thomas Ligotti. Reprint
4. “The Dead Must Die” by Ramsey Campbell. Reprint
5. “The Editor” by Pamela K. Taylor. 1300
6. “Hate the Sinner, Love the Sin” by Brian Hodge. 10,000
7. “Darshan” by William Eakin. 3900
8. “At the Feet of the Forest Primeval” by Randy Chandler. 6000
9. “Vom-Beist” by Mike Norris. 4100.
10. “Porta Nigra” by Darren Speegle. 3600. Reprint
11. “Purifying Vows” by Kim Paffenroth. 5000.
12. “Magog” by Craig Holt. 9300.
13. “The Hands of God” by Michael McBride. 4500.
14. “Sanctuary” by Jim Rockhill. 330
15. “Redemption” by David Niall Wilson. 5500.
16. “Thunder of the Captains, and the Shouting” by Tom Piccirilli. 5500. Reprint
17. “The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini” by Reggie Oliver. 7300. Reprint
18. “The germ of his ideas” by Jose Lacey. 6400
19. “Abandon” by Adam Browne. 7200
20. “Bavel II” by Jens Rushing. 5500
21. “A Prayer for Captain La Hire” by Patrice E. Sarath. 6900. Reprint
22. “Behind the Bathroom Door” by Sarah Berniker. 4900. Reprint
23. “Sicarii” by Andrew Tisbert. 6700
24. “Cold to the Touch” by Simon Strantzas. 6500
25. “Darkness” by Jude Wright. 5000
26. “Ezekiel Remembers” by Kurt Dinan. 2000
27. “Bad Religion” by Douglas M. Chapman. 5000
28. “Anubis Has Left the Building” by Tim Waggoner. 3900. Reprint
29. “The Bishop Receives a Visitor” by Marion Pitman. 6500
30. “The Tattoo Artista” by Eric S. Smith. 4200
31. “In the Name of God” by Stuart Young. 5000
32. “Uncaged” by Paul Finch. 6000
33. “The Monsters We Defy” by Karen Williams. 4800
34. “The Shaft” by Brian Hodges. 6600
35. “Waters Dark as a Raven’s Wing, Flames Bright as a Dove’s Breast” by Dru Pagliassotti. 1900
36. “The Temple” by Quentin S. Crisp. 5200. Reprint
37. “The Wound of Her Making” by Gerard Houarner. 6100. Reprint
38. “And You Shall Be Adored” by Regina Mitchell.
39. “On This Day of Reckoning” by Joseph Nassise. 4500
40. “Rapture” by Robert Morrish and Harry Shannon. 3700

The Jump Start Your Novel Workshop returns!

“Nassise’s writing program helped me JUMPSTART one novel with amazing ease while working on another. When I was finished I had a complete outline, enough to dive right in when the time comes.” -Weston Ochse, Bram Stoker-winning author of Scarecrow Gods

The first Jump Start Your Novel Workshop was a smashing success, so it’s time to do it again!

 

Since I started writing in 2002, I’ve sold seven novels to major publishers in four different countries. Six of those seven novels were sold on the basis of nothing more than a proposal which consisted of a synopsis, an outline, and a sample chapter.

I’ve been able to do this thanks to the method I use to thoroughly organize and prepare my novels before I sit down and write them. This method also gives me an extremely detailed project bible that I use to keep my scenes, characters, and settings straight while the project is underway. This allows me to write the scenes I want to write whenever I want to write them, even if I’m writing them out of order, which keeps my creativity and enthusiasm for the project high. Even better, it lets me know pretty quickly when an idea isn’t worth pursuing, so I don’t waste valuable time and energy.

In the workshop I’ll walk you through the methods I use from start to finish. Since I’ve just signed a contract to write three new novels, I’ll be using one of those as a living, breathing example, sharing each step with you. In addition, participants will receive personal coaching from me, including feedback on the exercises you’ll be doing on your own project.

We’ll do this step by step:

Week One – Character and Plot Sketches, Summary outline

Week Two – Settings and Research

Week Three – Scene Structure

Week Four – Story Evolution and Timeline

Week Five – Beginnings, Middles, and Endings

Week Six – Revisions and the Final Outline

At the end of the six weeks, you’ll have an extensive outline and project bible which you can easily use to develop a rough draft without the usual false starts and stalled momentum. You should also be able to create a strong synopsis and a proposal from what you’ve completed.

 

The workshop starts on Wednesday, Sept 12th and runs for six consecutive weeks.Lessons and assignments are delivered via email and feedback is given every step of the way.

The cost of the workshop is $125.00.

If you are interested in participating, visit the Workshop page.