Category Archives: Frank Morin

Lessons Learned from Indie Publishing

Whipsaw PressI started writing over a dozen years ago, when indie publishing wasn’t really a viable option. The flood of services, tools, and channels available now is astonishing and exciting.

At first I didn’t care.

Like many new writers, I was convinced my first book was ‘The Next Big Thing’, and only a huge deal with a big traditional publisher would do.

Yeah, good luck with that.

My writing has improved since then, as has my understanding of what it means to publish, and what this journey really means. After logging my dozens and dozens of rejections, slogging through a really painful experience with an agent that wasted three years I could have been releasing books, and with the markets changing so much, I finally realized what I had to do.

Time to indie publish.

I love the fact that there are so many options today: traditional deals with big publishers, deals with small presses, pure indie publishing, and hybrid options. The market is changing, and we need to be open minded and flexible to keep up.

For me, it made sense to indie publish. I had several novels complete, and honestly that turned out to be a good thing. My writing improved a lot through those novels, and I’ve since gotten very good at rewrites and edits. They are your friend.

Set in StoneI released Set in Stone, book one of my fun YA fantasy series, The Petralist, in May of 2015. The past two years have been hectic and busy and fun. It’s quite a journey, and indie-publishing is not for the faint of heart, but it is very accessible for those willing to learn to wear a lot of hats. Here are a few of the top things I’ve learned indie-publishing:

  1. Quality first. Many people beat the drums of Publish Fast, and there is some truth to what they say. To build an audience, new writers can’t set a publishing schedule like George R.R. Martin. But most new authors are in a rush to get their book out, and that rush can lead to cutting corners. Don’t be one of those authors who spent so much energy to get a book to 90%, only to skip the effort to really finish it and make it amazing.
  2. A good editor is worth every penny. We may not have big budgets, but we all have blind spots. Don’t self-edit. Better to burn your manuscript over a fire. At least that way, you might get a S’More out of it. And don’t ask your cousin who once took a college English class to check it over, or ask your grandmother what she thinks. I write big books, so they’re expensive to edit, but it simply has to be done. You wouldn’t build a house, but skip all the finish work inside. Don’t do it to your book.
  3. Memory HunterInvest in a Good Cover. Everyone judges a book by its cover. Clip art or badly photoshopped images are a disservice to your book. There are many great places to get covers, and this is another item that is absolutely worth the investment.
  4. Indie publishing is a business. We all love sitting in a coffee shop or hiding in our closet with our laptops, typing away and bringing our stories to life. That’s the writing. We also have to edit, revise, manage social media connections, monitor finances, hire editors, cover designers, figure out marketing, schedule events, and much more. All those other aspects of publishing are business aspects. Learn the business and learn to treat your intellectual property as an item you are trying to sell, not as a piece of your soul.
  5. Learn Marketing. Those of us who aren’t marketing people usually hate or fear this word. Marketing is tough, but it’s important. Yes, the most important marketing we do, especially at first, is to write our next book. But that doesn’t mean we can’t begin learning other aspects of marketing. We do want to support ourselves at this one day, so we have to learn to sell.
  6. Write what you Love. If you don’t enjoy your story, readers won’t either. And by the time you finish rewriting and editing however many times, if you don’t love your story, you’ll end up hating it.
  7. Become part of the community. Many writers are introverts and we’re content to hide away with our laptops and work everything alone. Don’t. There is a thriving community of people involved in writing and publishing great stories, and I’ve found writers to be some of the nicest, most encouraging, and quick to share advice and experiences than just about any other group. Become part of this community. Learning together is a lot faster than trying to figure it out all alone, and it’s a lot more fun.
  8. Enjoy the journey. I set a very aggressive publishing schedule for myself when I plunged into indie publishing. It helped motivate me to stay focused, to press ahead through the steep learning curve, and get things done, but it also added a lot of stress on top of existing family, church, and day job responsibilities. I’ve had to remind myself to take a deep breath and look for ways to enjoy every day. This journey is long, sometimes arduous, but it can always be fun.

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

A Good Sauce is Worth Experimenting With

Julia Childs Quote

The posts this month have been amazing. Not only did we explore great works and what made them great, but described aspects of our own writing, and ways to improve our personal secret sauce.

Please browse through the month and read the posts from the Fictorians explaining our special sauce, our unique voices, and how we developed as writers. These excellent posts offer great insights into the Fictorians and the process of developing as writers.

As the famous Julia Childs once said, “No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing!”

In addition to those great posts, I’ll point out a few of the other highlights this month:

Research Until Your Fingers Bleed by Sean Golden

Hiding Your Secret Sauce by Guy Anthony De Marco

Using Voice to Set Yourself Apart by Kristin Luna

Adding Realism – Military SF by Kevin Ikenberry

Jayne Barnard and Adria Laycraft – Creating Successful Author – Editor Relationships by Ace Jordyn

Wisdom in abundance – The Characters of Daniel Abraham by Greg Little

So keep working on your own secret sauce, and feel free to update your recipe books with some of the wisdom shared this month.

Keep writing!

Really epic Epic Fantasy

lotr posterI love epic fantasy. It’s always been one of my favorite genres to read, and of course the very first book I tried to write was epic fantasy. Didn’t go so well, but I have an epic fantasy series I plan to release eventually, so I’ll get there.

What makes epic fantasy so, well, epic?

The best epic fantasy, whether they’re a Tolkien spin-off or some other giant, multi-volume series of tomes big enough to prop up the sagging foundation of a house, there are some common elements that make great epic fantasy work.

Think Tolkien. He was really the father of epic fantasy, and a big ingredient in his special sauce was the world he created. Many other successful fantasies leveraged that world and resonated with the work Tolkien did. World-building is a huge element to most epic fantasy, and few authors do it so well.

The Name of the WindOne who does is Patrick Rothfuss. In The Name of the Wind, he creates a vibrant world, full of magic and music and poetry that does an unrivaled job at transporting readers into another world. Fans want to explore the world with the hero, linger there, and wallow in the depth of the vibrant cultures he creates.

George R.R. Martin takes a different approach. His political intrigue and huge cast of characters who get killed off more than just about any other series, transports readers in a very different way. The intricate plot, warring families, and intense action has captured an entire generation of readers.

Usually when we think of epic fantasy, we think magic, and the king of awesome magic systems is Brandon Sanderson. Whether the dark, gritty world of Mistborn or the hugely epic Stormlight Archives, Brandon always delivers intricate magic systems and unexpected twists and turns that keep readers clamoring for more.

There are many other great examples of epic fantasy, but these are enough to get a sense of the challenge facing authors trying to break into the epic fantasy world. The stories really need to be epic, usually there’s a large cast of characters, the stakes are as high as they can get, and the magic can be in a powerful magic system, an intricate political world, or a setting so majestic people don’t want to leave.

So what are your favorite epic fantasies, and why?

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Don’t Forget to Tweak the Recipe

Bakery dessertsAs Guy discussed yesterday, sometimes it’s necessary to change up an author’s approach and writing style when developing stories in very different genres. It’s also important to make sure different stories in the same genre feel unique and fresh, even though they’re recognizable as written by the same author.

You can use your own special sauce, but still need to tweak the recipe so stories don’t feel so similar readers feel bored or frustrated.

A great example comes to mind. Long-time favorite author, David Eddings. He wrote great epic fantasy, and part of his special sauce included large casts of endearing characters. Sure, a lot of those characters easily fit into fantasy tropes, but he portrayed them with flair and humor and made them real. As a young reader, the characters felt alive to me, like long-time friends, and I was eager to share in their adventures.

Eddings introduced some of my all-time favorite characters in The Belgariad, a five-book series that followed the development and growth of the simple farm boy Garion until he matured into Belgarion, the mighty sorcerer and king of a league of nations. Cool stuff. Belgarath, the ancient and grumpy old sorcerer was a hoot to read about. Silk, the spy/assassin/thief, fascinated me, while Barak, the hulking viking-type warrior was a classic brute with a heart of gold.

Then in The Mallorean, Eddings again launches into a very similar tale, using the same beloved characters. That second five-book series was one of my favorites as a teen. The characters were well developed, they played off of each other extremely well, and their adventures were fun and creative. Eddings even poked fun at the fact that the second series was so similar to the first, and that actually worked really well.

A later series that Eddings wrote offers a cautionary tale, though. The Elenium, although a fantastic series in its own right, included perhaps too much of Eddings’ special sauce. Although on its face the story is very different from the epics centered around Garion, it explored very similar concepts. The most striking similarity was how the characters interacted. The makeup of the protagonist team was very different, but it felt like they were falling into the same patterns as the group of companions in the Belgariad and the Mallorean. For me that made it harder to enjoy the books because it felt like Eddings was trying to imbue the same hearts into his cast. That was sad, because they were really good books, but they needed a little more space of their own to really shine. I wonder sometimes, if I had read them first, would I have loved the Elenium more and felt the Mallorean was too much of a copycat?

I still recommend reading all of those series. They’re classics and well worth the read. I’ve found that with pretty much every favorite author, there are lessons I can learn. With Eddings, it’s distinguishing the different series a little more. I’m grateful to find examples of what works and maybe what doesn’t already out there to learn from and make my own writing that much better.

So develop your special sauce, be aware of it, and at times be sure to change up the recipe with a new story or series.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
Rune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org