#InkRipples: 5 Tips for working with beta readers, critique partners & editors

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking about revision. I’ve already shared 5 Lessons I learned revising Keeper of the Dawn, but I’ve realized I still have a lot more to say. So this week I’m going to tackle a big subject: dealing with feedback.

Shall we get started?

#InkRipples: 5 Things I learned revising Keeper of the Dawn

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking all about revising our stories.  Since my debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn IS OUT NOW I thought I would share some of the things I learned during its many hundreds of revisions.

#InkRipples: Challenging the Unfeeling “Strong Character” Stereotype

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Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples posts, and we’re talking all about tropes in fiction. I’ve decided to share a story about my own experience with one of the most common tropes, the “strong” character who only feels anger.

This month’s #InkRipples post is highly personal and includes references to addiction and self harm. Skip to “What’s the point” if you want to avoid this content.

#InkRipples: The fun of choosing a subgenre for your work

inkripplesblueandgreen-1Today I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples posts, and we’re talking all about genres, the categories we use to organize media.

With my first book coming out in just a few months and a long line of projects preparing for self publication in the next few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about genre lately. So much time that I’ve actually had four completely different ideas for this article(and I may well end up writing at least one more article about genres).

For me, genre has always been easy. I am a fantasy writer who dabbles in science fiction and the occasional horror. These are genres I know well, genres I’ve loved as long as I’ve been reading.

What is more difficult is choosing a subgenre. There are dozens of subgenres within each genre. In fantasy, the genre most of my work belongs to, there are over 40 different subgenres(at least according to Wikipedia, although I had never heard of half of these before I looked this up). And most of my books take influence from several subgenres, most notably high fantasy, dark fantasy, grimdark, and medieval fantasy.

So what do I do? Well, sometimes I cheat. If you asked me about my debut novella, Keeper of the Dawn, I would tell you that it’s “alternate world fantasy bordering on the line between YA and adult fiction”. In fact, that’s how I would describe most of my work.

This usually means I can conveniently avoid having to pick another subgenre; YA is considered by many its own subgenre(which I think is bizarre, but that’s my opinion), and “alternate world” usually conjures a distinct image in people’s minds.

Now, technically all alternate world fantasy is high fantasy, but high fantasy typically brings to mind images of dragons and elves and incredibly powerful magic, things that only exist in some of my worlds. Moreover, the term high fantasy is deeply associated with Chosen Ones on epic quests, and while I do write these things on occasion, I don’t feel comfortable associating my overall body of work with them.

In some ways this will make my marketing life difficult. There is certainly something to be said for writing consistently in a specific subgenre. The more exact your genre is, the more exact your target customer becomes, making it easier to create highly effective campaigns. People who are fans of a specific subgenre are often incredibly dedicated–look at the sheer number of steampunk cosplayers and creators–and if you choose the right subgenre, you can make a lot of money from a small fan base.

In other ways, writing a variety of things is a much better choice, both for maintaining my personal interest and for building an actual career. It allows me to reach different customers at different times, and many readers are willing to leap from one subgenre to the next for an author they love. If I ever choose to open a publishing house and welcome other authors, my variety of work will also allow prospective authors to get a feel for what I like.

All in all, I believe subgenres are powerful tools for authors and readers to find each other, but I don’t think we should try to force ourselves neatly into one subgenre box or freak out when our work blurs the lines between a variety of subgenres. Many of the best stories already do.

What subgenre do you most like to write in? To read in? Let me know in the comments section below!

#InkRipples — Who should design your book covers?

inkripplesblueandgreen-1This year I’ve decided to participate in the #InkRipples challenge, a quest to complete 12 themed blog posts throughout the year. Created by the lovely Katie L. Carroll, Kai Strand, and Mary Waibal, #InkRipples is a great way for writers to create a community conversation AND to make sure their blog is consistently updated. And January’s conversation is all about book covers.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about book covers lately, partially because I’m excited to see the cover art my publisher chooses for Good Bye but more because I’ve decided to self publish most (potentially all) of my other work, starting with a novelette, and that means it’s my job to make sure I have the best cover art possible.

As an indie author I have two options: pay somebody to create a cover, or learn how to do it myself. But in my mind only one of these is really an option–paying for it.

Why do I think it’s so important to buy my cover art?

Good artwork doesn’t necessarily sell books. Cover artists know what the conventions are for each genre. They understand how important it is for their covers to look good in thumbnails. Most also have an extensive collection of stock photography or deep familiarity with at least one paid stock photo archive. This makes it easier for them to find the perfect imagery for your book.

Secondly, I’m not particularly interested in learning how to do graphic design. One of my goals for 2017 is to experiment more creatively, but I want to focus on hands on work–painting, creating wire jewelry, making props. I already spend most of my day on the computer and I don’t want to add to it.

If you’re actively interested in learning how to do graphic design or you’re already comfortable with it, making your own cover might be worthwhile–as long as you take the time to research the norms for covers in your genre.

Buying your book cover doesn’t have to be expensive

A completely customized cover can run you anywhere from $300 to $2500, but your book might not require a completely unique cover. Many websites such as GoOnWrite and The Cover Collection have large collections of premade covers that you can buy for less than $100. Cover artists also frequently offer multiple packages at different price points, and many will format your books too, allowing you to save money by bundling your services.

Writing a series? One way you may be able to save money is to create a cover template for the entire series and have your artist alter the template for every new book, adding new stock photography or taking old images away. If you already have character art for the cover artist to work with this can also bring your cost down.

That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of spending a lot of money on your book cover. If you have the budget for the very best artist, spend the money(just make sure you’re actually hiring the best). Your book will thank you.

Have you thought about doing your own book covers? What about buying premade covers? Let me know in the comments section below!