Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't Make My Mistake, Writers: Your Allied Authors

Author Camaraderie
I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design back in '09. Throughout my entire college career, I was told just how competitive the graphic design field can be. The jobs are scarce, but the payment is good when you can finally get in the cut, but just about everyone else is hunting for the same gig that you're looking at too. So, needless to say, I took this sort of logic when I got more serious about my writing career. Here was my thought process:

"Authors in a shared genre tend to seek out the same readers, editors, agents, and publishers. It has to be an every man (or girl) for himself sort of principal, right?"

 Hmm, well I learned otherwise when I met my PEERS at the Superstars Writing Seminar

NOTE THAT I DID NOT SAY "MY COMPETITION." And don't get me wrong. Writers are still trying to go for the same sources that you might be looking at, but they're not the enemy, here. No one is (Even though some might speculate that many agents and publishing houses are). Fellow writers are our brothers and sisters in arms! They're our weapon, as we are theirs! Writers, unite! Now! Take the hill!

. . .  >.>

"Ahem." Fellow authors have learned, or are learning the same useful information that we're coming upon as well. The good ones will share with us some things that are either yay or nay in our industry, and we should be willing to return the favor by sharing what we know as well. Together, we can:

  • Tell each other who to talk to for editing
  • Where to find a designer to do the cover art
  • Which agent to write to or stay away from
  • Bring attention to major writing competitions or projects that might get overlooked 
Why, some of them might be willing to step away from their own story to help us with ours, or even buy a copy of our book for the mere sake of showing support. Authors aren't our adversaries. They're our friends. Comrades digging in the trenches beside us. ^_^

Being a writer is a hard line of work, in spite of the glamour that the public makes it out to be. Most people will never understand the toil put into our projects, and how much we give up in order to make them a success. That being the case, instead of us trying to fight our way to the front, why not help each other out to the finish line? Honestly, there's plenty of room. Readers don't care about whose great story they got to read first as long as they get to read it. ^_^

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cyborg Jellyfish From the Heart?!

The End Is Nigh!!!
. . .

'Kay, so maybe it's not that bad. . . yet. >.>

Scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University made an artificial jellyfish with a single pulse of electricity. "It's alive! IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIVE!" Known as the medusoid due to its umbrella shape, the jellyfish made out of silicone uses a rat's heart muscle to recreate the pumping motion familiar to a moon jellyfish. 

So, what does this mean to human beings? Well, this "medusoid tech" can be used to serve as a pacemaker in our body, powered by our natural nutrients. In short, we can might be able to make improved artificial hearts. What does this mean to sci-fi writers? Well, the skies the limit. "Think big on a galactic level," right? :P

As of now, the cyborg has limited movement, but scientists are already working on giving it better maneuverability. Check out more info here at News Scientist

5 Basic Rules To Proper Blogger Shopping Etiquette

Ever gone to job interviews? Or how about writing query letters to agents or editors? Have you noticed the "profound" yet? I know, I couldn't believe it either when I noticed it myself. Yep, every person has different rules and guidelines to follow in regards to submissions. Who would've thought?! :P Still, we take our time looking over the guidelines, making extra sure that the person/company we're trying to wave down doesn't toss or delete our proposals with a second thought. We do this because that's proper submission ethics, right? 

So, why? Why don't we treat the people willing to invest their precious time to give a solid review of our book the same way? Yeah, that's right. I'm talking about the book blogger.

I've heard plenty of bloggers note how often a person will seem to just go on a copy/ paste template marathon when looking up blog reviews, not even realizing that a blogger doesn't review his/her genre. Why, I became a "victim" of that myself. . . and I'm not even a book review blogger! "Dear book reviewer, I'm blah blah blah." He didn't even take the time to copy and paste in my name! I felt so insulted and irritated that I didn't even see the need in telling this author that I'm not even a reviewer. And at that moment, I thought about how many times blog reviewers get emails similar that one.

Here's the thing, fellow writers. Book bloggers need to be given as much respect as a an agent, editor, or person we're hoping will hire us. Some of these people have strong followings, and a credibility that might boost our month's sales. Do we want them to just blaze through our novels, which will take hours and days to evaluate? I most certainly hope not! And if that's the case, what's so hard about spending a solid five or ten minutes checking out a reviewer's blog? If we want someone to give us their time, we best be willing to give some of our own as well. ^_^ And what should we be spending our time doing when we come across a book blog? Here's five:

  • 1. Read a couple of reviews, the good the bad, and the ugly. This will help us get an idea of a blogger's review format, if they fit what we're looking for, and if the reviews are honest (and yes, we should always want an honest review). And let's say the blogger may not be a fan of our stuff, and ends up giving a negative review. It's nice knowing that even if a person can't recommend our book, they can give a thorough explanation why our story didn't work for him/her instead of a simple "This book is a stupid waste of time. Don't read it. The end."
  • 2. Make sure the blogger reviews your type of book. This goes without saying. We don't want to waste our time with an individual that we know won't have interest in our genre, nor do we want to waste theirs. Since I write sci-fi, why would I send a query letter to an agent that only interested in romance? Same rule of thumb goes here. ;)
  • 3. REVIEW the POLICY. Editors have them. Agents have them. And, you guessed it, bloggers have them too. Most of us have always been told if we want a better chance at getting told "yes," we better follow the rules. Again, this is another rule that goes to bloggers. Following their guidelines tells them that we're serious about our story, and willing to do some proper homework before writing to people. In return, that tells the blogger that we're not the sort of writer who just proposes his/her story to everyone. That's a compliment in its own. ^_^
  • 4. Read about the blogger. Bloggers are people, and they have feelings to. What's wrong with reading those 2-3 paragraphs explaining why the blogger decided to make their little spot on the web? We're planning on doing business with this person after all, so why wouldn't we want to know what type of person we're offering our pride and joys to?
  • 5. Follow up with the blogger. When they give us that review, interview, or guest post, we should let them know how appreciative we are. Book bloggers LOVE to read great stories, and most of them are going off a hunch when they read ours. So, believe it or not, they want to enjoy our books! They're cheering for us, and want to put in a good word to help us, usually for free! How can we not go back and just say "thank you?"

I'm sure there are some other things we should consider when looking for an individual to review our works, but following these five "guidelines" can point us in the right direction. We shouldn't be hopping around all over the place spamming every book blog we see. Not only is that bad etiquette, but it's an easy way to get a bad reputation. Like agents and editors, book bloggers network, and they talk to each other. What do you think they'll say to their blogging peers about you?

Appreciate book bloggers. They're not all great, but the ones that we find, willing to invest in our stories, should be treated with their due respect. They are, after all, reviewing something of ours that we want to be respected as well, right? Good luck out there, everyone, and happy shopping! ^_^

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Interview With "Prossia's Catty

I had the pleasure of doing an author interview with Mia Darien a few days ago, but that was just the beginning. As some of you know, “Prossia” has a spunky supporting character named Cattalice aka Catty who has a lot to say whenever she’s given the chance. Turns out Darien is a pretty big hit with her character interviews, so I just knew that my Catty would be a perfect hit! Since it's a bit lengthy, and I don't wanna take up the entire front page, you can read the other half of the interview at Mia's site
. . .
Mia: What is the name of the book where we’ll find you? Can you tell us a little about it?
Catty: Helloooo! I’m in Raphyel M. Jordan’s sci-fi novel, “Prossia.” Hmm, okay, what it’s about. . .
“Prossia’s” a– what do you Earthlings call it– oh yeah! It’s a ‘coming-of-age’ story. Did I say that right? Sorry. Your various Planet Earth dialects are weird! And I think this is where I’m supposed to insert LOL
Anyway, “Prossia” follows the story of my best friend, Aly. Our tribe got drafted into a galactic war to fight off this ancient enemy called the Cyogen. That’s pronounced “Sy-o-jen,” in case you people can’t say it right. Wait, that didn’t come out as offensive, did it? Sorry. I’m not too familiar with Earthling culture.
Oh. But “Prossia” is more of a character-driven story than situational-driven. It’s a lesson about the unknown strength and potential that young people can have if they’re just given a chance.
Mia: Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?
Catty: My name is Cattalice the Younger of the Kutenbriun Tribe. Thus the reason why I just go by Catty. I’m a– how do you say– supporting character in “Prossia.” I’m a ten-and-seven . . . oops. I mean, I’m a seventeen-year-old Goolian from Planet Gooliun. I live in a southern tribe called Kutenbrya, only a couple of days away from our planetary capital.
My pappai–I mean father– is the field lord of my tribe, so I can’t deny the fact that I’ve had a more fortunate upbringing than most. I know I’m spoiled, and I’ve had it a little easier than most of my friends, like Aly. So, I try extra hard to help my tribe in any way I can. We Goolians believe in the bettering of the collective whole, not the individual.
I like to gossip, listen to music, and I LOVE to dance. Love it love it love it! I hate homework, but what teenager doesn’t? I’m sure that’s a universal thing with all sentient beings. :P
Oh. . . and I hate secrecy, especially the type I have to keep from the ones I love. :/ It’s a horrible feeling to have, especially when you think a person has a right to know that they. . . maybe I said too much on that subject. Um, next question?

Mia: Sure. What do you think of the author? Be honest. We won’t tell.
Catty: Promise? Okay. For an Earthling. . . I think he’s pretty cute. LOL! I know, I’m so weird for thinking that about an alien! Then again, I guess I’m the alien to you folks, right?
Besides, I was told by one of your kind that I’m kinda like a. . . darn it, what’s that word again? A humanoid? I take it that meant my species has similar physical-looking attributes to Earthlings.
Anyways, coming back to topic: Raphyel can be so serious at times, but so bubbly the next! He’s very passionate about making sure the Prossial experience is written correctly. He likes to draw too, and I think that’s pretty cool. He even did a drawing of me one time, and it looked so much like me that it was scary!
And I just love his hair! It’s so unique! Locks are so fancy looking. And he has such a cute laugh. . . Whenever you hear it, you know he’s nearby. Please make sure he doesn’t read this. LOL!
Read the interview in its entirety HERE 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Don't Make My Mistake, Writers: Comfort Zone Baby Steps

Yep. That's right. I ended the last article and made a logo. I know. I have a problem. :P

Moving on,  this one goes out to the shy writer:

Comfort Zone
In the last DM3W, I explained that one of the reasons why I limited my marketing was because I didn't feel comfortable about branching out beyond familiar web surroundings like Facebook. I didn't want to know anything about Twitter, bloggers, book forums, or even Goodreads! But still, here I was, hoping that someone would hear about the story I had to offer. And thus I learned this lesson the hard way: 

One can't expect much when he/she does so little. 

My first day of launch? One sale. Second day? None. Third? None. Fourth. None. Making a long story short, I probably ended up selling over a hundred copies of my book my first month, but I'm sure all of those sales came from family and friends. And why was it just family and friends? Well, the best loved ones tend to supported you, regardless ^_^. So, guess what happened to my sales when all of the people I knew had my book? Yep. Downhill immediately. 

I met Kevin J. Anderson at Dragon Con back in 2010, and he invited me to the Superstars Writing Seminar (shout out to my SWS peeps). I finally went this year, but I really do wish I had taken that offer the first time. I could have been told a priceless amount of info that is so obvious, but surprisingly easy to forget as well: 

In spite of all the high tech we have in the 21st Century, word-of-mouth is still the biggest form of marketing one can do. People need to talk about your book, and who can talk about it better than you can?

Success for a writer requires numerous forms of sacrifices, including stepping out of his/her comfort zone. Or, why not look at it in this manner? Instead of "stepping out of your comfort zone," why not expand it?And take heart, my fellow sweaty palmers. There are plenty of options to help face the anxieties one might face when dealing with the public eye.

  • Talk to your local librarian or indie book store. 
  • Put bookmarks in people's mailbox's around the neighborhood (as long as it's legal in your area :P). 
  • If possible, let your church members know that they have a writer in the congregation. 
  • Find a local writing group where you can find like-minded people. 
  • Have a book-signing launch party with your family and friends.
  • Devise a 20-word-or-so pitch that you can always use when someone asks what your book is about. 
In short, find any fun means to talk about your book. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you'll be when you branch out to bigger markets.

Either way, I hate having to break it to ya, people, but we gotta put ourselves out there a little bit if we're serious about the writing career. I only gave a few suggestions that I know helped me expand my comfort zone. I didn't touch up on how to use the web that much, but we'll have more on that later. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you research what sort of economic marketing options are available out there for both local advertising and the web. For the web is my ally, and a powerful ally it is. . . >_>. And Star Wars is apparently very influential. :P . 

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Aly pic

Here's an illustration I did of Alytchai, Prossia's protagonist, a couple of months back. I was mainly looking at different textures.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My 2nd Blog Interview

Here's a big thanks to Mia Darien from for interviewing me about my writing! Darien is an author from New England, the apparent land of "fast talkers," according to her. She writes multiple genres, including free short stories on her site, so definitely check her out! Ah, and expect to read the interview she did with Prossia's Catty in the next couple of days as well!

About the Writer
1. What five words describe you?
Hmm. Passionate. Hopeful. Impatient. Shy & Talkative at the same time. I know. Don’t ask me how the last two work. :P
2. What was the first story you ever wrote? I mean the really bad one we all have that you’re trying to hide in the back of closet now that you’re published?
Uhhh, I have no idea what you’re talking about (laughs nervously) >_>
3. What inspires you?
Life. There’s plenty of things to write about thanks to just living.
4. What distracts you?
That would be the fear of failing. I guess that might show my age, or maybe the lack thereof. :/ Sometimes I worry myself about not being successful so much to the point that I paralyze my creative juices. I’m getting a little better at ignoring such worries, though.
5. What’s your favorite story?
Oi, that’s a hard one. LOL! There’s so many great stories out there, it’s hard to pick a preference. Lemme see . . . I think I tend to lean more towards the redemption story. A hero’s fall from grace and making a dynamic comeback? Stories like that tend to peak my interest because they’re more real to me. Just like any human being, this sort of hero shows his/her imperfection by making some huge bumps in the road. However, circumstances lead them back to the side of right. I guess I’m just a romantic, in that sense. :P
* * *
About the Writing
Raphyel Jordan Cover Art
1. Tell us about your currently available titles.
The only title I currently have out is called “Prossia,” but I’m currently working on changing that as we speak. I intend on making “Prossia” a sci-fi coming of age series that shows the potential and responsibility that youth have due to their strengths while learning to overcome their weaknesses.
2. What’s your favorite part about writing these stories?
Creating the universe, as a whole, by far! I love being able to take people into worlds never seen before, to travel with creatures never envisioned, to cheer for individuals that are surprisingly relatable to them.
3. What would your characters say about you? Be honest!
LOL! Ho boy, I think I’ll pick some of the more popular ones:
Aly would probably say that I need to stop complaining about life so much and resist the inner doubts
Catty would say I’m cute because I tend to get energetic and lively when I’m with my buddies
Hmm, Cy and I probably wouldn’t get along too well because he would say that I’m too nice to people
Gruago and I would probably get along just fine because we could have hours-long conversations about astronomy, technology, different governments and cultures, and most importantly, the must-have video game to get this holiday season. :P
4. Who would play your favorite character if they made a movie of their story?
I did base one of my characters off an actor, but I don’t think he’d necessarily be my favorite character all-in-all. Beyond that, I’m not trying to think of movie stuff. I just wanna share my book with readers.
5. Do you have any projects currently in the works you want to talk about?
Ooooooh, spoiler time. I’m working on two Prossia-related projects. It took me longer than it should have in giving “Prossia” readers the next installment (and for that, I sincerely apologize to everyone), which is why I’m working on two stories at the same time. One will be free when it comes out, actually.
The first one is going to be a prequel to “Prossia” and the next one will be the direct sequel to the original book. I’m really hoping to have the prequel out by next year. The prequel is already getting prepped up for an editor.
* * *
Raphyel, thank you for joining us today, and good luck with your writing!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Client Work: "the Guur" Final

And here it is, the guur! I really enjoyed working on this commission since it gave me a chance to do something out of the norm. I typically draw humanoid creatures, so I saw this as a chance to dig into the creative box a little more. I got to test out some pretty cool custom brushes during the process too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Don't Make My Mistake, Writers: Limited Marketing

Sometimes we learn a lot of things by watching somebody screw up before we get the chance to. Well, here's where I tell you all of the naive mistakes I did that's made my writing career less pleasant than it should be. So, what bumps have I hit along the way? Lets find out. 


There are basically two options in getting published, both with both pros and cons. The first option is the most familiar one: Finding a publishing house that looks for stories with that "certain spark" in a particular genre. The other one is self-publishing, where you go out on your own to get your book published.

I, of course went the way of the indie. I figured I'd have an edge in the game due to my graphic design experience, so marketing on my own would be a snap. If my art was pretty good, the traffic would come a-runnin' when people saw my web ads on Facebook. I researched other possible venues like blogging and networking with like-minded people, but nah. I was sure I could handle this without going out of my happy bubble place. Besides, I felt other authors are trying to grab the same readers I want. 

"As long as I stick to what I'm comfortable with, I'll be fine," I thought. "This will be easy."

. . . 

And I can already see some of you shaking your head already. :P

Looking back at it now, I noticed three main mistakes I made upon my initial launch:
  • I limited myself to one marketing area, which was Facebook
  • I wasn't willing to step out of my comfort zone for the sake of expanding readers.
  • I saw other authors as competition only, instead of peers
  • I wanted to bring attention to a book through the visual only, and not the story itself
I'm going to cover where I went wrong in these particular areas for the next couple of weeks. We'll start from the very top today, and work our way down the list. So, here's Mistake #1:

Limited Marketing
In short, I put all of my eggs in one basket, and that's already a big no-no for any sort of business. There's nothing wrong with using Facebook ads to get some attention for your book. If anything, it's a great idea as long as you know how to utilize it properly. I preferred using the ads since I was already an active user on the social network. Still, as useful as that one avenue was, how much more effective could Facebook have been if readers saw this book called Prossia on their ad walls and hearing a little buzz about it in some of the blogs they followed as well? The name of the game is constant exposure, and sadly, I limited my audience to only a small handful of people on one network. Even then, people might click on the link provided by the ad, but that doesn't guarantee that they will even buy the product I was trying to sale, which was my novel.

My story was published almost two years ago, and I just recently started networking with other authors and book bloggers about a month ago. So, guess what I'm doing now? Having to play catch up, and I might have cut my book's "lifespan" short because of it.. Prossia may not meet its full potential due to the mistakes I made in its initial first few months. I'm told that it's a good read by the few that have read it, but boy, it is quite a few. Now I have to set my pride and joy on the sideline so I can put more attention onto other future projects. And does it hurt? Beyond reasoning!

Here's the other thing. This is the 21st Century, folks, and guess what? People don't just talk to the folk they go to work, church, or school with anymore. We live in a day where we can send a quick "hey" message to our favorite athlete or actress and not be too surprised if they actually write "what's up?" back to us. And since that's the case, readers expect the same sort of interactivity with the authors they read their books from. So, don't be afraid to put yourself in an opening that allow people reasonable access to you in case they want to chat about your story. I mean, they were willing to invest a couple of bucks and their time to read your work. The least we can do is send them a quick email response, isn't it? Besides, it's cool! It's cool! Trust me. I mean, never in a million years would I have thought that I'd be friends with people in the UK because I chatted with them about my book on a blog or on Facebook.

So, where should you look to market yourself? 

Social Networks
Well, I already mentioned Facebook. It's a very powerful tool, not only due to its ads, which are considered some of the cheapest and most effective ads available on the net. You can even make a page made for you, the author, or for one of your stories.

There's, of course, Twitter as well. Got a book signing coming out? Tweet that bad boy up? Did you finish the draft to the next installment in your series? Readers want to know! Did you just make the best ice cream sundae of all time? . . . 

. .  .Well, some folk like to read and tweet about that too, but to each their own. :P And if you're not into the whole twitter thing, you can set your Twitter account up to automatically post updates that you made on your Facebook wall or page. That way, you won't have to worry about hopping all over the social network worlds, posting up the same things all the time. And remember, just because you may not use Facebook or Twitter doesn't mean someone who can be your biggest fan doesn't.

I even had a post about a very cool site called the Indie View not long ago. It lists indie-friendly bloggers that cover many different genres. So, that's a start. But bloggers are some of the 21st Centuries most powerful unofficial journalists. They can point readers in your direction, as long as you know how to find them and ask them (more on that later) nicely. A great deal of the reviews that you see on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other book review site might have come from a blogger.

Here's the other thing. As noted in my Indie View post, some bloggers can have thousands of followers listening in on someone to say 'yay' or 'nay.' Wouldn't you like somebody that has a healthy number of your demographic just waiting to hear from YOU? Again, you want to make sure these bloggers are credible and will offer some honest insight, but like I said, more on that later. ^_^

Ah, and how about that there Goodreads? The name should speak for itself. It's a VERY popular site where readers and writers can find out the best books to consider investing in. Do you have a book? Go ahead and list it. Do you need to find a group of people that read the genre you write? Chat up with some potential fans in one of the site's clubs.

As most of these items, I'm taking baby steps in this area, but it's already been quote a thrill! Why, my latest illustration client is from Goodreads, who is also the other admin to a club I met on the site. 

I can go on  all day about Social Networks, Blogs, and Goodreads, and still have plenty of things to suggest. Still, you won't know how useful these avenues might be unless you try them for yourself. Who knows? One of these options might put in that spark of interest needed for your book. I'm sure there a plenty of more areas that can increase your marketing potential, but I'm just pointing out the one's I'm familiar with at the moment. Even two years after publishing my first book, I'm still learning ways to expand its target audience. 

Don't worry though. I won't leave ya hangin'. Information and knowledge is rich, and we should all be willing to share some of the wealth whenever possible. ^_^

I'll discuss stepping out of the comfort zone in the next DM3W (Don't Make My Mistake, Writers). Yeah, I just thought that up right on the spot. ^_^

. . . 

 Heyyyyyy, I might be able to make a cool logo out of those letters and number. . . Uh ohhhhh. Gotta go ===>_>

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Client Work: the Guur Part 2

According to my client, a guur is a bunp (Bug. Of. Nightmarish. Proportions). I was given a lot of creative freedom in regards to the coloring and texture. This current pic shows the basic shading and color of the guur. The final piece will have more attention given to the creature's texture.