You’ve now published three novels. What have you learned from your experience that may help other writers?
I learned much with the publication of my first two novels, especially the mistakes. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistakes in my next novel, Heaven’s Conflict, The Rise and Fall of Angels, A Novel, published October 1, 2014. The title of my first novel, Generation Z, Birth of the Zompire, which is a vampire love story, is simply too long. The problem: as readers try to find me on Amazon or elsewhere, my novel doesn’t come up until they type the last letter in Zompire. So, it’s hard to find. I could have made the second phrase a subtitle, but, even better than this, I should have titled it simply: “Zompire.”
The lesson: Keep It Simple, a.k.a.: make your book easy to find in search engines and websites.
Did this help with the second novel?
Yes, but I still made a mistake in the title. The novel is a murder mystery entitled Not Privileged to Know, a phrase drawn from the novel. It fits the story perfectly; however, again, people are having trouble finding the novel. It’s not the length this time; it’s one word: ’Privileged.’ They either add the letter ‘d,’ or spell it with an ‘a’ or an ‘e’ where there should be an ‘i.’ I have tried to correct this (without changing the title) by making ‘Not Priv,’ and the letters ‘NPTK’ and ‘nptk,’ drawn from the title, searchable.
The lesson: Use Easily Spell-able Words.
You’ve called this trilogy ‘The Privileged’ series. Since you ran into a problem with spelling, are you going to use ‘Privileged’ in the next two in the series?
No, I’ve decided to change the titles of these sequels. Instead of Privileged Information and Privileged Few, they will now be titled Need to Know and In the Know. The series link will now be the ‘Know’ series. Hopefully, that will solve the problem.
The lesson: Be prepared to change mid-stream, especially if dictated by either readership praise or problems.
What about Heaven’s Conflict, The Rise and Fall of Angels, A Novel? That title is long; how are you going to prevent problems with that title?
This is an inspirational novel that required a lot of research. This delayed its publication. While doing the research, I wrote and published my first two novels. So, I had already decided on its title, and didn’t want to change it; however, trying to apply the above principles, the searchable title has become Heaven’s Conflict. The rest is subtitle. I’m a little worried the apostrophe may cause a problem. So, both Heaven and Heavens are searchable in the title as well.
The lesson: Search for your title in Amazon and other search engines to see what happens, what other books bear that title, and try misspelling some words as a reader might. Then, make those misspellings searchable.
You used the word ‘Novel’ in the title. You didn’t do this in the first two. Why?
I was afraid people might think this book is a non-fiction commentary concerning Angels. It’s not. It’s my (fantasy) story of Lucifer’s downfall from God’s Grace soon after his creation. It’s a Good versus Evil story that I hope is both entertaining, exciting, and inspirational to readers since it involves true friendship, love and forgiveness, hopefully, without being too preachy.
The lesson: Make sure readers receive what they purchased (besides a great story, edited carefully). You don’t want them misled by the title, jacket info, or back cover summary.
Did you footnote any quotes from the Bible?
No, although there are quite a few. I thought footnoting would interfere with the readers enjoyment of the story flow, and might make the book too preachy or seem like non-fiction. In my author note at the end, I explain this, and suggest that, if they want to know where any quote they recognizes appears in the Bible, they should search it in any (Bible) search engine.
The lesson: Most good books I’ve read capture me on the first page, and flow nonstop until the end. Don’t put anything in the book/story that will stall your readers, or stop them cold.
Are you worried about readers reaction to the religious nature of the novel?
Yes, especially since one of my editors pointed this out, stating that I’d better be ready to endure the sticks and stones that will be thrown my way after its publication. He explained that non-believers (in God) will complain about the religious content (IE. That there is a God at all), and the true believers might complain that what I wrote isn’t in the Bible, or that the symbols I used are not correct, or that they might object to the personalities I’ve given to the Archangels, Lucifer, or even God. My simple answer to all these is that it’s a fictional story I created using the Bible’s content for guidance, but it is my (fictional) story, and I wrote it as it came into my mind. I believe in God, and read the Bible, and tried to stick to the first few books of the Bible, drawing some from Revelation as well. I had it checked by two Biblical scholars (Catholic and Jewish) and four Priests (three Catholic and one Southern Episcopal) to ensure that it doesn’t conflict with anything that is stated in the Bible; hopefully, it doesn’t.
The lesson: Be sure any research you do is totally accurate, even if the book is fiction, and use multiple experts, if available. I’ve read novels who have locations or technology totally wrong for that story’s location or time period (IE poor research and final editing). These errors will pull the reader out of the story, decreasing both their pleasure and your credibility as an author.
Are you ready to endure those sticks and stones?
Yes, I believe so, or, maybe I should say, I hope so. A little controversy about the novel would actually attract more readers, and, therefore, be good. However, I never acquired a thick skin, so I may have some discomfort coming my way. I’m hoping more readers enjoy the story, and stand behind and enjoy what I did rather than attack me or my writing technique/research.
The lesson: Be brave enough to finish your work and risk public exposure for your story, especially if you believe in it. If you don’t, you will never be published, and only your family will read your story. Most writers, including myself, want more readership than that.
Are there any other books about the Archangel Lucifer presently available?
Yes, both books and films, but most concern Lucifer’s exile to Earth and his conflict with God through Humans. I wrote about his initial hate for God and his lust for God’s Throne before Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, concluding with Lucifer’s condemnation to Hell. Everyone knows the story in general, but the Bible doesn’t give great detail to this event. I took this idea and expanded it into what would have been the most significant confrontation ever with the sovereignty of God’s Throne at stake. As I said, I hope it provides an entertaining (fantasy) story for my readers, as well as being inspirational, whether they believe in God or not.
The lesson: Again, research the story to find what’s out there. I may have missed a story, or one might have come out after my final edit, but I’ve tried my best, and this story is mine. If you find a similar story about your topic, you can still pursue your idea, but don’t plagiarize any of the other story. Make it totally your own.
What does the future hold for your writing?
All three of these novels are the first of trilogies. I need to write the next installments. Currently, thanks in part to you and other bloggers who posted blogs concerning my Zompire novel, my second novel, Not Privileged to Know, is selling very well. The next story I turn my attention to will be determined by my readership. All are outlined, and ready to be fleshed out. I have another murder mystery already written and in the editing phase. It should be ready in late 2015. The second volume of one of my trilogies will then appear in 2016.
The lesson: Keep writing, no matter what problems confront you. For me, I’ve written my entire life. I am always working on my ‘next’ novel, even if it never reaches publication. Writing is like any art: the more you practice, the better you become, and the more you learn. Write every day, even if only a few lines, and always keep a pencil and paper by your bed and in your pocket (yeah, I’m one of those nerds with pen and paper in my shirt pocket at all times) to write ideas, outlines, or a few words that might be spoken by one of your characters in a future novel.
Where can readers find out more about your novels and order them?
Information on my books (summaries and first chapters) can be found on my webpage: http://billrockwell.net They can also order the books from amazon.com and at any bookstore. They are available in both paperback and for all E-Book readers. The audiobooks should be out later this Fall.
My novel is to be featured on the the Lost to Books Blog, https://plus.google.com/116980533164310078489#116980533164310078489/posts, April 3, 2013. Be sure to visit.
Visit AskDavid.com at: Generation Z Birth of the Zompire for more info
A question arose at yesterday’s writer’s conference: Where did the inspiration for my novel originate? A difficult question, but I’ll try to answer it before each of my novels is published. For my Romance-Horror cross genre novel, Generation “Z” Birth of the Zompire due out next month (hopefully), I was watching a zombie movie and wondered “What if” a zombie bit a victim of a vampire soon after this attack. I wondered why the zombies didn’t entirely consume him (especially his brain), how he would differ from both attacking fiends, and what his conversion to the “Zompire” would do to his romantic relationship with his girlfriend. The answers developed into the story.
Once I decide on the topic for a novel, the first thing I think about (this may be different for other authors), are the characters. My novels are character driven. For some authors, the setting is the most important aspect of their novels, and the characters move through the setting, forming their story. I’m more interested in the characters’ reaction to others, their beliefs, and their reaction to the, usually difficult, situations I develop for them. The setting, for me, is background only. In one of my mystery novels, Not Privileged to Know (to be published probably next year), the action starts in NYC, and progresses to Washington, DC, but, although in reading the story the background is easily recognizable, it’s just that: background. I don’t like to read page after page of description of rolling hills, no matter how poetic or beautifully written. I always skip these, and yes, I do miss an important point every now and then. So, I decided in my novels the description would remain as background. I hope readers like this, or at least understand.
I always begin my novels writing the description of my main characters. Face shape, nose, ears, mouth, skin color, tall or short, large or thin, etc. etc. I put these in a file labeled “Characters” so I can refer to or change these as I need or the story demands. I then put the main character(s) into a normal situation, then an action occurs that causes the main conflict of the novel. From there I develop the story, but, first, I decide where/how the novel will end. This gives me a target to shoot for as I write the story. I then write “high” points of the novel, those spots where I will build the tension and then resolve (partially, of course) that tension, and start building tension again toward the next tension point (IE. tension builds then falls, builds then falls etc.) Now, I can’t put them all in because they may develop out of the story or other characters’ interaction with my main characters in the story. Likewise, the personalities of my characters do, and should in my opinion, change as the story develops or ends. This may or may not hold true for secondary characters, but, to make the characters interesting and have the reader like or dislike the character (and both are okay in my novels), they need personalities and unique characteristics, as well as situations that they must overcome or suffer through.
Again, I place these characters in the initial situation/place and this determines the time/place/town/country/planet/ universe etc. and then the story proceeds with description as needed. I know others do it differently, but this seems to work for me. Next, I’d like to discuss something I struggle with every day in my writing: Show, Don’t Tell!
Now that my second novel has been published, I should have time to return to blogging here. I’ll try to post much more frequently. I have joined a writing group to try to improve my writing. We’ll see.
5/22/2014 Anyway, Show, not Tell is always difficult for me. I have always seen myself as a narrator and, as such, simply want to tell a story. The problem: it doesn’t draw the reader into the action. Solution? Show, Don’t Tell. So, I try to be the new reader of the passage, raise myself above the “author” status. This allows me to move into the action myself, see it like a movie, feel the emotions I’m trying to impart to characters. It seems to work for me. More later this week.
It seems that writing my fantasy novel, Generation “Z” Birth of the Zompire, although extremely time consuming, was the easiest part of the process. Getting to (self) publication (IE. formatting, proof reading/editing, cover art uploading etc.) is a lot harder. Marketing (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Video Trailer, You Tube Video Trailers, Author signings, etc. etc.) is a daunting task in itself, and looms in the near future; however, on limited (none, really) budget, can’t afford Marketers/Distributors who demand thousands. Is all the work involved worth it? I think so, or at least it will be once completed. None of this seems impossible, and I love writing, and so want others to read what I have to say. Of course, then the process begins all over again for the next novel, Heaven’s Conflict, The Rise and Fall of Angels, hopefully by Christmas (unlikely); so, maybe by Easter next year. Stay tuned; we’re close to publication on Generation, hopefully by Halloween so the Zompire can take its place alongside the Vampires/Zombies/other “monster” books that might be published then.
It’s been a long time since I visited this blog. I got caught up with publication of Generation, then preparing our cottage in Old Lyme for Superstorm Sandy, digging out the area and all our goods that were stored in our now-non-existant storage shed and the front porch that was destroyed by a tree thrown through it by the wind/waves, fighting both the our insurance company (responsive, but no action to date, and it seems no one assigned to us knows what’s going on, or what to do!!!) and the town (they wouldn’t let us repair the porch because we had done a large dormer project, the cost of which when added to the porch, exceeded one half the total value (town determined) cost of the structure, and if exceeded we had to raise cottage (30-40 Thousand) etc. etc. etc. Now that 2012 is ending, I pledge to post to this blog much more frequently (?daily) as to progress of marketing and writing/editing next novel due out in Spring. Hope you want to take the ride with me. At least early reviews (see Amazon and my site) are good! Happy New Year!
1/1/2013 Starting the year right with a page on Ask David ( http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/vampires-and-zombies/3472 ). Hopefully, the marketing will produce some sales. Going to 2 book signings in February (NH & VA) (more about them later). Shelton (Plumb) and Old Lyme (Noyes) libraries carring my book. I’ve volunteered for a lecture this quarter at Plumb (they schedule by quarters). Bookstore visits/phone calls to see if more will carry my book on consignment. Meanwhile, I’m editing my next novel, then will send to my editors for final editing before submitting for publication (after approving cover art). Read recently 2 seemingly discouraging reports: most self-published novels sell less than 500 copies (I also read 300), and that it usually takes 4 years of marketing/selling to become “successful” as the author (Of course, I believe also that you MUST have a good product (in this case a novel with action, suspense, believable/likeable characters), no plot holes, etc) first. Hopefully I am presenting such a product. On the more positive side, I also read the best way to sell novels is to write/publish more novels so your reader base expands. I should be able to do this since I have 4 novels (written before I started publishing them myself), all completed that only need tight editing and attractive covers to publish. I plan two a year with hopes of attracting more and more by my two genres: fantasy and mysteries.
8/19/2013 It’s been a long time since my last post. Over the winter, we had the task of getting approval and arranging carpenters to repair and improve our home that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. We lost a three season porch, almost all the contents of the place, and decided we might as well change our second story from it’s tiny footage to two full dormers. It proved a much larger task than we expected, but is worth it. But it kept me from this blog and took much time away from writing. I have today finished my editing of Heaven’s Conflict, and have sent it to editors. I plan to release it on October 1, 2013, and then will work on my Political Thriller/Murder Mystery, Not Privileged to Know, as well as a mid-grade fantasy I started in January. I will also try to continue my blogs. Thanks for understanding.
First novel should be ready for purchase by summer’s end. Exact date unsure as it depends a few things beyond my control, but not significant hurdles by any means. Stay tuned.
Lucia commented 9/5/2012: Really looking forward to reading your books! When and how will they be availabe?
I’m reviewing proof copy of Generation Z today. The novel should be available in a few weeks. I’ll post as soon as it’s available for purchase directly from this site, Amazon, Kindle etc. Bill Rockwell
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