Why Won’t Anybody Publish Your Novel?

When you start out as a new writer, you have this romantic idea that you’ll finish your masterpiece and send it out to agents and publisher and you’ll see the offers rolling in. The reality is very different. After years of struggling through and editing every tiny detail until it’s absolutely perfect, you’re met with rejection after rejection. It isn’t always a reflection of your work, publishers get so many submissions that they will often cut the pile down based on the tiniest details. If you’re not getting anywhere with your writing, it might be for one of these reasons.


The Book Is No Good

One of the biggest hurdles you need to overcome as a writer is being able to bin your own work. When I first started out, I was very attached to everything that I wrote. If something didn’t work I would spend hours on it, trying to make it into something worth reading. The truth is, sometimes you just can’t. There isn’t a writer alive that comes out with something brilliant every time they put pen to paper. Everybody writes things that just don’t work. Knowing when to admit this and move on to something else is a difficult thing to learn, but it will improve your writing when you do. Don’t get rid of anything completely, you might be able to do something with it later, but don’t keep flogging a dead horse if the book isn’t working.


The Book Isn’t Finished

It’s basically impossible to know when a novel is finished, and you can never really say that it’s completely done. But you can get it close enough to be published. However, a common mistake that people make is they send it off for publication before it’s ready. Even though you’ve spent endless amounts of time editing, there’s still work to be done. The best way to know is to have as many people as possible read it. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need to do more work on it. If you’ve gone through the entire novel a few times and you’ve made hardly any changes, you’re probably there.


It’s Been Done

Another misconception that a lot of writers make is that their book will sell because it’s similar to other best sellers. Since the release of books like the Hunger Games series, young adult, dystopian novels are all the rage. But that doesn’t mean you can write a carbon copy of the Hunger Games with a few tweaks and get a publishing deal. It is possible for you to capitalize on the popularity of a genre or style, but you need to have something completely fresh and new to bring to the table. Using the same themes is fine but if your characters are predictable and you haven’t tackled that theme from a different angle, you won’t get anywhere.


Formatting

You wouldn’t think that the formatting really has anything to do with you, but it could stop you from getting published. When you’re submitting samples to publishers, they often have very specific and strict guidelines on how to submit the work. Not following them will probably get you struck off straight away. If you’re a bit of a technophobe, consider taking a few Microsoft Word training classes so you can get the specifications exactly right. If a publisher opens the document and you haven’t followed their advice, they probably won’t even read it most of the time.


Plot Synopsis

Most submissions ask for the first few chapters and a plot synopsis. Writers will focus on going through those first couple of sample chapters with a fine tooth comb until every detail is perfect, but they’ll neglect the synopsis. If the publisher likes the sample chapter, then they’ll read the synopsis but if it’s confusing and disorganized, then they might not move forward from there. It can be difficult to describe the entire plot of a book in a succinct way, but you’ll just have to practice. Decide on what the main themes and plot points that make up the essence of the novel are, and focus on them. If you get bogged down in the backstory of every single character, things will get muddled and publishers will be put off.


Choosing The Wrong Publishers

Writers often think that the more publishers they send their work to, the more likely they are to get somewhere with it. I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. Publishers all have a specialty and they’re usually pretty specific. If you want to be successful, you need to spend a little time researching publishers and find ones that work with genres and styles that are similar to yours. Most publishing companies will have a page that shows information about exactly what they are and aren’t looking for. Not reading them is only going to waste your time and theirs because you’ll be sending people samples of a novel that they’ll never be interested in.


Your COVER Letter

Before they even get to your sample, publisher’s will read your cover letter. If they aren’t impressed, they’re likely to move on without even reading the sample. The function of a cover letter is to give the publisher more information about you and your work. You need to sell yourself. Start out with your credentials, and don’t leave anything out. Any creative writing qualifications you might have, and any work you’ve had published in the past, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. From there you need to tell them why your book is going to sell. Who is your target audience and why is your novel going to stand out from all of the others on the market? You also need to include a lot of smaller details which people often forget, like the word count and some contact details for yourself. People often leave these things out and publishers will see it as a bad sign if you do.

You can follow all of these steps and still get rejections. It’s just part of the process. The important thing is that you don’t give up and you’ll get there in the end.

Book Review: “The Successful Author Mindset” by Joanna Penn

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey by Joanna Penn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, Joanna Penn knocks the ball out of the part with her insight into the author mindset. We are pretty hard on ourselves as creatives, and Penn dives right in to give us some good ole fashioned inspiration, truth, and literary courage! It’s not all boo-hoos and balms, though.

Penn also dishes out some tough love and real talk on how to make a career as an indie author, urging us to keep our goals clear, to define success for ourselves, and to literally get your ass in a chair and get those words on a page.

What I love most about the book is that it’s super organized and to the point. Whenever I’m feeling overwrought, doubtful, or just plain lost on my own creative journey, I can easily find a passage in it that will give me inspiration. Kind of like the Book of Psalms… but for psycho, self-deprecating writers and angsty creatives! Yes, it is like a Bible, y’all… I took it there.

Loved this book and look forward to reading the rest of Penn’s non-fiction (and fiction) series!

View all my reviews

Rock on, READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Supercharge Your Kindle Sales” by Nick Stephenson

This is a book review BACK POST, fam! Because I’m relaxing on my Xmas vacay in Florida, and knocking out some of my book list! Here’s the latest review on a great non-fiction book that’ll totally ramp up your Kindle sales if you follow the advice! A great and necessary read for indie fiction authors wanting to make a living.


superchargeyourkindlesalescoverSupercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AWESOME advice, paired with some amazing actionable steps. And the greatest part? The book is short, sweet, and low on “fluff”, which helps us to get to the meat of the material and apply the advice ASAP.

Nick Stephenson knows his stuff, and he provides some wonderful insight into the issues of keywords, categories, lead magnets, and other book selling hacks that can really raise an author’s sales and profile on Amazon. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. Plus the book is totally FREE!

Also, check out Nick Stephenson’s amazing “Your First 10,000 Readers” course. There is a free mini course for you to try before you can then upgrade to the major course. I’ve taken both, and I can’t recommend Nick’s courses highly enough. I feel so confident about my author career for this coming 2016, and I have Nick to thank for it!

View all my reviews

Write on, rock on, READ on,
<3 Colby

Life Reboot, Blog Changes, & NaNoWriMo Update!

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Howdy ya’ll! It’s been a craazy month, to say the least, and I’m barely staying afloat with my newborn button boo, writing deadlines, and NaNoWriMo chomping at my butt. I’ve had to make some major changes to my lifestyle and have had to tweak things as a writer-entrepreneur to stay on schedule with my dreams!

I know lots of you (especially us creative-entrepreneur-supermoms) are looking for ways to keep on track lifebalancewhile also working, being parents, and managing all your other life responsibilities, so I wanted to share what I’m going to try out for now and for 2015 going forward.

Honestly, I see this new life of mine as an exercise in guerrilla warfare. You gotta pimp every free second, minute and hour you have, get in writing where you can, multitask, and just keep doing it (whatever “it” is) until it’s done. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, but playing this game catch-as-catch-can will allow you to survive behind enemy lines.

So with that, here’s my life and my new schedule. I’m not promising that it’ll work, or that my new “life reboot” is a panacea, but I am promising that I’ll do my damndest to keep up, and that I’ll share with you all how it’s all going!

My Writing & Life Reboot

My daughter is beginning to show some methods to her madness now, so I can plan my writing time around her schedule. For you moms out there, keep in mind that you have to stay flexible and take writing time when and where you can. This, however, is how my daily schedule is working out as a full-time author-entrepreneur-mommy.

NEW WRITING SCHEDULE (DAILY)

diary4:00 AM – 5:00 AM: Blogging, website management, freelance writing, social network updates

5:00 AM – 7:30/8:00 AM: WRITING. Just straight up, no holds barred, fiction writing (can you say vomit drafts?)

8:00 AM – 3:00 PM: Taking care of the baby, running errands, reading & doing research during baby feedings, making phone calls, listening to industry podcasts, and other hands-free stuff that will increase my knowledge and push my career forward

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM (roughly): WRITING. Boyfriend takes baby out for a walk (or just takes the baby), so I get some more writing done on a current or different project. Lots of story and character building. Finishing up any writing I hadn’t gotten done earlier.

6:00 PM – 10:30 PM: dinner & family together time; getting baby to calm her diva self down; spending time with the boyfriend; trolling on Facebook; other brainless, I’m-dead-tired-and-just-want-to-chill-right-now stuff

Now, if you notice, I only get about five to six hours of sleep per night. Yes, I know that’s crazy, but it’s working for me right now, lol. Hopefully, as my baby gets a couple of months older, her bedtime will also get a little earlier, and I’ll get more sleep. But until then… 😉

#amwritingSooo… daily writing schedules are awesome, but in addition to a daily grind, I also thrive best with a year-long grind. Because I’m trying to treat my indie author life as a business as well as a pursuit in what I love, I like planning out the production of my work on a yearly and quarterly basis. I also like to put my “products” on schedule.

This year’s massive changes proved it hard to stay as on schedule as I would have liked, but having finally found a balance that works for, I wanted to share my new production schedule! Check it out:

NEW PRODUCTION SCHEDULE (YEARLY):

NOVELS, NOVELLAS, & SERIALS
1. Researching – 3 weeks
2. Story and character building – 3 weeks
2. First draft – 4 weeks
3. Second draft – 4 weeks
4. Third draft (after pro editing)- 4 weeks
5. Final draft – 4 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 3,000 words a day
MONTH TOTAL: 90,000 words a month
REWARD: 12-18 novels a year!
TAKE AWAY: Start novel/novella/serial projects 6 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time.

TV PILOTS & SPECS
1. Story building – 3 weeks
2. First draft – 4 weeks
3. Second draft – 8 weeks
4. Final draft – 4 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 2 pages a day
MONTH TOTAL: 60 pages a month
REWARD: 9-12 pilots or specs per year! (I’m thinking about having a 2:1 ratio in my portfolio, i.e. 8 pilots and 4 specs)
TAKE AWAY: Start pilot and spec project 3 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time!

FEATURES
1. Research, story, and character building – 4 weeks
2. First draft – 8 weeks
3. Second draft – 8 weeks
4. Third draft – 4 weeks
5. Final draft – 2 weeks

WRITING SCHEDULE: 1 page a day
MONTH TOTAL: 30 pages a month
REWARD: 2 solid features per year!
TAKE AWAY: Start feature projects 6 months ahead of their “due by” date to have them in on time.

Ambitious, right? I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meanwhile, here’s another update / “reboot”…

Slight Changes in the Blog

The core purpose, nature, and features of my blog will not change, but the frequency with which I post will change, unfortunately. I make time for an hour of blogging each morning (7 days a week), and I post as soon as the writing or podcast is polished.

Unfortunately, the new change means that most likely I’ll only be posting here 2 times a week, 3 if I’m really on a roll. But that’s okay, because I’ll have more fiction coming out for you guys, so I hope it’s a fair trade!

NOTE: I DO still take author features and blog tours, so please don’t be shy in submitting them! I’ll let you know if I can fit you in the schedule for the month! 🙂 Also, as I mentioned, podcasts, the Rebel Ragdoll Review, YouTube reviews, the blog articles, and more core features of Colby’s Cove will endure. So no worries!

NaNoWriMo Update

nanowrimo2014So I’ve got over 77,000 words for The Final Page and over 83,000 words for Ronin/Hegemon, and I’m trying to see if I can up my count on both. I’ve written about 6000 new words total (yes, I know, it’s pathetic), with a recent boost in my daily production due to my new writing schedule.

So, we’ll see how the new schedule comes to bear on my daily word count. Keep track of the box at the right for a word-by-word update! 🙂

So, how’s your NaNoWriMo going? Have you also had to make major adjustments and life changes that have affected your career? How have you overcome these challenges to keep writing? Post your experiences below! And, of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century

BRAVENEWSOULS LOGO DVDAs a part of the running theme of #WeNeedDiverseBooks month, I’m delighted to present an eye-opening documentary about the amazing and arduous journeys of successful Black creators through the comic, publishing, tv, and film industries. The documentary is called “Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century”.

The producer and filmmaker, Brandon Easton, thought it was about time to shed light on how creators of colors are actively building a counter-narrative against the presiding stereotypes that African Americans do not read, write, or create works within a sci-fi and fantasy context.

Check out the BRAVE NEW SOULS documentary today, and have your world expanded!

About the “Brave New Souls” Documentary

BraveNewSoulsDVDcoverThis documentary explores the thoughts, goals and inspirations of a new generation of Black creators in graphic novels, television, cinema, literature and digital media. Producer / director Brandon M. Easton wanted to shine much-needed light on new Black writers whose contributions and market awareness have been buried under the onslaught of the myriad of entertainment options in the 21st century.

Brandon also wanted to provide a window into their creative process and expose both aspiring writers and potential fans to incredibly imaginative, witty and sophisticated storytelling that challenges your perception of reality.

Brave New Souls explores the various creative industries and their spearheads through 8 compelling chapters:

Chapter 1: Inspiration — 2:46
Chapter 2: Breaking In — 7:01
Chapter 3: The Politics of Being a Black Creator — 10:14
Chapter 4: Starting a Business — 17:48
Chapter 5: Where Are the Fans? — 24:30
Chapter 6: The Industry — 33:01
Chapter 7: Writing for Rookies — 48:05
Chapter 8: The Future of Black Speculative Fiction — 54:30

Check Out the Awesome Trailer for Brave New Souls!

BUY Brave New Souls TODAY!

Get your copy for just $7.99 at GumRoad by clicking the logo below:

gumroadlogobig

And it’s also coming soon on Amazon Instant Video!

Amazon_Instant_Video_logo

About Brandon

BrandonEastonprofileBrandon M. Easton is a professional writer, screenwriter, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Easton is a graduate of Ithaca College and Boston University’s prestigious Screenwriting program. With over fifteen years of experience, Brandon has penned articles for the Boston Herald, Crashpad Magazine, and a variety of other publications. After teaching in NYC public schools for six years, he decided to go for his screenwriting dreams in Hollywood and eventually scored a writing gig on Warner Bros. newThunderCats TV series and Hasbro’s new show Transformers: Rescue Bots.

Brandon produces a popular podcast titled Writing for Rookies – the only show dedicated to comic book and Hollywood scriptwriters. His published work includes Arkanium and Transformers: Armada for Dreamwave Productions, a column for Blacksci-fi.com, and Shadowlaw, his newest major project that was released in January 2012 to much acclaim and an immediate sell-out from Arcana/Platinum Studios.

Shadowlaw garnered coverage in publications/outlets like USA Today, Wired, Forbes and Ain’t It Cool News. Easton has been named the new writer of the international franchise Armarauders as well as a guest writer for the new Watson and Holmes comic series. In 2012, Easton signed a multi-graphic novel writing deal with LION FORGE COMICS, a new transmedia company debuting in April, 2013.

Easton recently won the 2013 GLYPH AWARD for BEST WRITER because of his work on the Shadowlaw graphic novel.

In 2014, Easton was nominated for five GLYPH AWARDS for his work on the WATSON AND HOLMES comic book series as well as the MILES AWAY original graphic novel. In May 2014, Easton won three Glyph Awards: STORY OF THE YEAR, BEST WRITER and the FAN AWARD.

He was also nominated for an EISNER AWARD for his work on Watson and Holmes issue #6 for BEST SINGLE ISSUE in 2014.

CONNECT WITH BRANDON AT:

His TWITTER
His BLOG
His IMDB Page

10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook, Part II of II

audiobookOkay, so I’m back with part TWO of “10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook“!

Let’s get it! 😉

 

6. Don’t be afraid to give your characters uniqueness, extreme personality, voice, and dialogue patterns!

calebposterfinal copy 2This is a given when writing pretty much anything in fiction, but sometimes we’ll hold back on it in the interest of trying to be PC or non-stereotypical. True, there can be a thin line between writing a stereotyped character and writing a real, colorful one. But go with your gut! I suggest that you be as colorful with your characters as possible, especially if your sci-fi or fantasy world has a large cast. Every person of import needs to be distinct from the others.

To take that point further, colorful characters are integral to producing a great audiobook. Trust me, it’s so much fun to hear an actor latch onto a character’s speech pattern and mannerisms and just go to town with it!

For example, one of the very minor characters in my novel had a Bostonian accent (a fact that was merely stated in the character cast list), while another more major character was literally just written as a Bostonian– dialogue, intonation, and all. Well guess what? My actor totally nailed the major character because the guy was literally a Bostonian personality and spoke like one, whereas the minor character’s accent wavered occasionally because I didn’t write him as a Bostonian. You need to remember that voice actors literally embody the character they’re playing, and to do that effectively, voice actors need, well, VOICE. So don’t skimp on it!

7. This is your actor’s medium. Unless you feel as though he or she is totally going to tank your audiobook, it’s best just to follow his lead!

Listen to your actor, ladies!

Listen to your actor, ladies!

This doesn’t mean keeping quiet if the actor is messing up a character’s voice or mispronouncing words throughout the book. Obviously, you have a right to guide your audiobook to successful completion. However, there are some of us who take a tyrannical role when producing an audiobook, and this can produce some unfortunate results (especially if you aren’t actually PAYING the actor upfront).

Letting go of the work you shed so much blood and tears over is hard, I know. But while prose is your speciality, you must remember that voice acting is your actor’s speciality. Embodying character and voice in real time is just what actors do, all day every day, point blank, period. So if your actor has an interpretation on a character, a story theme, tone, mood, or whatever, just go with it and see where it’ll take your audiobook. You might (and most likely will be) pleasantly surprised.

audible2buyAs a special note to writers doing a Royalty Share agreement (wherein you don’t pay the actor upfront, but you guys split royalties per sale of each audiobook): When you and your actor decide to take a no-money-down risk on your audiobook, you move from solo writer status to a partner status. You are not paying the actor upfront, so essentially your actor is a partner, not an employee. He is risking just as much time and money on this audiobook as you are, so keep that in mind when you’re giving him direction. Giving narrators their 50% ownership over the audiobook property means just that, so please, trust them with the process. They know more about audiobooks than you do, after all.

8. Be prompt in responding to your actor’s questions and concerns.

I was HORRIBLE at this at times, and I know my actor wanted to kill me. Taking into account audio recording, listening, and editing, each chapter of your book is costing the actor about 4-6 hours of work time. Honestly, if you want your audiobook finished on time, PLEASE communicate with your actor in a timely fashion. Don’t be like me!

9. When you’re listening to a first draft of the actor’s audiobook, make sure you have your original written file open on your computer!

showcase-scrivener_headerThis isn’t so that you can follow along. Actually I recommend that you DON’T follow along. So then, why do I say to keep your original file open? TYPOS & CORRECTIONS. And I cringe even as I write this because technically in a final draft you shouldn’t want or need to change anything.

But alas, nothing in this world is perfect.

I found at very rare moments in my novel that there was either a minor preposition that was missing from the text (my fault) OR that I wasn’t really a fan of how I’d written a certain character’s dialogue line. Again, these instances were extremely rare, but being that, as indies, we now have the ability to change and re-upload our digital and print book files, I say take advantage of it. If you hear a typo or want to tweak some dialogue, crack that ebook file open and do it.

Your actor’s audiobook will reveal all the gems in your work as well as the rare flaws, and you have every right to rectify those in the other versions of your book. So take advantage! (And make sure you ask your narrator to please re-record if absolutely necessary.)

10. Enjoy the show. No, really. Enjoy it.

As an aspiring tv writer, I can tell you that a tv writer’s greatest dream– beyond actually getting hired to do what he loves on a daily basis or becoming a showrunner of his own show– is to see something he’s written actually acted out and then aired for millions of people to see. You can think to yourself: “Wow, I wrote those movietheatrewords, created that tense scenario, I authored that car chase, and it looks AWESOME.”

Well, guess what? Short of seeing your novel on the silver screen in Hollywood, the audiobook is the novel writers’ version of “seeing” an episode or film he’s written aired LIVE, with all the characters and situations brought to life. And wow, is that an amazing fuck-all feeling.

In all, an audiobook isn’t just an audial translation of your work. It’s a performance! And performances need to be enjoyed and savored with all your rapt attention. Your actor has worked really hard to bring your world to life, so get immersed in it and love (or hate) the characters you’ve created together. It’s SO much fun!

So that’s it for my tips! Feel free to learn from my hard-headedness and avoid the same mistakes I made! Any more tips you have on audiobook production? Add them in the comments below! 😉

I’ll be back soon with a few more things for ya as we bring July to a close, but of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby R Rice

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10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook, Part I of II

audiobookSo writing a book is challenging, but producing an audiobook is a different kind of crazy altogether, trust and believe! Now that I’ve gone through the process, I’m going to give some perspective and tips on audiobook production from the author’s point-of-view. Some do’s and don’ts if you will. I’ve got ten tips in total, so this post will have a second part to it.

ALSO, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the rules of storytelling tend to transcend mediums! You’ll find that many of the tips I give in this post and in the next apply not only to audiobook production but to prose writing as well. (And they’re rules we’ve been hearing for a long time as writers.) Rules that we try to stick to, but may not understand in real time, are all in your face (or in your ear, rather), when you produce an audiobook. TRUST ME.

So what are the first five tips out of ten? Well…

1. Do NOT use adverbs in your writing. Just. Don’t.

All_About_Adverbs_photo_FINALIZEDThis is an already hard and fast rule in writing period, but let me tell you: adverbs stick out like big fat sore sausage toes when you’re listening to an audiobook. Only a very few found their ways into my final draft (thank GOD) but those that made it sounded “meh” at best.

When these Benedict Arnolds are hidden amongst really stark and lush description, it makes your writing sound lazy as all hell. Ugh. Just don’t do it. Eliminate ALL adverbs from your writing, no matter how harmless they seem on paper (or on your Kindle screen).

2. Try to limit dialogue tags as much as possible!

nodialoguetagsDialogue tags are not necessary for your ebook, and they are just downright superfluous in audiobook narration. Maybe my actor just kicks ass all around, but he made it pretty clear in his intonation when my characters said something “with annoyance” or “angrily”.

He also invoked different voices, speech patterns, and accents that pegged each character as unique. So when he was reading the audiobook, pretty much every single dialogue tag that I used sounded utterly useless. The tags took away from the strength of the character’s words, and also just plain sounded redundant once my actor’s talent was applied.

3. Minimize your lists. Or, if a list of items or rules is necessary to your story, either keep it short, make it super compelling, OR tell your audiobook narrator to annotate it.

tasklist3Oh my God, totally learned this the hard way. There are sections in  the printed and digital versions of Ghosts of Koa wherein I use flyers, lists, and headlines, and for the most part, they translate pretty well into the audiobook. HOWEVER, there is one section of my story wherein the main character is reading (to herself) a list of rules regarding immigration and citizenship policies.

While this was presented in a simple (and skip-over-able) document in the printed version of my book, it sounded super pedantic and boring when read in the audiobook version. This is not at all the fault of my actor, but more so due to my lack of foresight when writing the damned thing.

SO, if there is ever a section like that in your novel, I’d suggest you make a note to your audiobook narrator letting him know which parts of the list to read, OR, just do a brief re-write of that scene or section and send it to him.

4. Have some sort of cast list available, divided by major and minor characters.

comedy-tragedy-theatreThis is more of an organizational tip that will help your actor to become acclimated to the scope of your story. What you’ll find is that as your narrator gets more comfortable and spends more time with your characters, he will set a pace, tone, and personality for each that will remain consistent throughout the story.

You can actually help him do this (while also putting your interpretation on how you envision your characters) by giving him a cast list. Here’s a mini (and improved) example from the casting document that I sent Michael:

EZEKIEL D’JIHARA ANON – MAJOR PROTAGONIST – Also known as “Zeika” or “Zeeky”. 16-yr-old from the Bronx. Spunky, witty, spirited.

And so on. How you do this is up to you, but giving your actor some direction is definitely helpful for getting the kind of performance you’re looking for!

5. If there are characters speaking other languages in your book, BE VERY CLEAR as to how those words are pronounced! Same thing with names, people, and places you make up for your story.

multiculturalnightOkay, this is especially for sci-fi & fantasy folk because we spend a lot of time creating and destroying worlds.

Whether you’re using a language that already exists or you’ve made up your own, PLEASE… let your actor know how to pronounce anything that might be foreign to him (or to anyone else). In fact, as you’re editing your final draft (before you even consider hiring an audiobook producer), I suggest you make a little guidebook with the pronunciations of all languages, new places, characters’ names, monster names, and more.

Even better? Record the pronunciation of these things so that your actor can listen to them and integrate them into his psyche.

Trust me: following these tips will really help improve the overall quality of your audiobook, so I really hope you consider them!

So what about you? Have you produced an audiobook and learned a lesson from it that you’d like to share? What tips am I missing? Post your comments below! 

Also, stay tuned for the next installment of tips from me on audiobook production from the writer’s POV. But of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

Colby’s Creative Achievements in January 2014!

smart goal setting conceptSo, usually, I save my self-assessment for the end of the year. But this time, I decided to take a monthly inventory, not only because it makes the end of the year assessment easier to write (copy and paste, anyone?), but also because taking inventory on a short-term basis keeps me accountable. In public!

I can also check these updates against my 2014 goal list and start in on those goals I haven’t quite picked up on yet! So check out my creative achievements and steps forward I made for January and share yours too!

January 2014

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Theme of the Month: Massive Change, Massive Launches, MASSIVE Endurance (in the face of uncertainty and chaos)

1. Moved to California! It was a really exciting, treacherous, challenging, and exhilarating two weeks, but my boyfriend and I finally made it. Originally, we planned to move to Los Angeles, but we adored Long Beach and decided on that instead! No worries, though, it’s still only 30 minutes from L.A., there’s a train that goes from Long Beach right INTO L.A., and we’re still living in L.A. County. Plus, we’re three blocks from the beach and oceanfront, so no complaints from me!

2. Released the PRINT version of Ghosts of Koa! Which was a huge challenge due to spotty internet access, being Ghosts of Koa Cover WEB-MEDIUMon a super tight budget, and being technically homeless for two weeks (was totally living at a campsite ::CRICKET::). Feel free to pick up your copy today though at Amazon! Also, it’s “matched” with the Kindle version, and you’ll get the Kindle version for FREE if you pick up the paperback!

3. Officially launched the production of the Ghosts of Koa AUDIOBOOK! With the amazing talents of Michael T Bradley on my side, we have entered into a Royalty Share agreement for this version of my novel, and he’s also looking forward to narrating the other novels as well! I sent him the manuscript at the end of January and am super excited about the forthcoming product!

4. Began to explore Los Angeles and Long Beach. There are so many resources for writers and creators here, and I unearthed quite a few! Check out my comprehensive, ever-growing list of writer and creator resources in Cali!

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KX Cotch, resident sociopath and assassin for the Alchemic Order… and he’s getting his own novella series!

5. Began working on the novella spin-off series to The Books of Ezekiel saga! So clearly, while there are many main characters in The Books of Ezekiel saga, Ezekiel is the star (hence the title). I wanted readers to spend more time with the other main characters, time that was unrelated to Zeika and her journey. And so, here it is! All of the main characters that I LOVE– Caleb, Cotch, Manja, and many others– will have their own novella series that chronicle their paths through the world of alchemy. Caleb’s and Cotch’s full seasons will be released in early 2015. Stay tuned for the others, which will be released as the main Books of Ezekiel saga progresses!

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Rebel Ragdoll’s growing one step at a time!

6. Relaunched my work on my tv and feature script portfolio and… I GOT A WRITING PARTNER! Once again, the lovely Claire Zhuang and I thought it best to combine our talents and come up with some script hotness. We’re pretty excited about what we’ve got going on, too! It’s nice to have a partner to keep you in check!

7. Started penning many other creative projects, including, 1. the next installation of The Books of Ezekiel Saga, “The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel”, 2. the inaugural novel in my sci-fi thriller series “Ryden’s Lot”, 3. and SIX other seasonal installment novella series! All of these novellas will be turned into pilot scripts as well, so writing these series does double work for my novel-novella backlist and for my tv script portfolio. 😉

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I’d love to not only write a character like Aveline, pen an awesome story like Assassin’s Creed, but also DESIGN a game for both! Making this dream come true one step at a time!

8. Re-launched my work as a Freelance Writer and Casting Producer with Demand Media Studios. Being new to L.A., I needed a job, and then I remembered that I actually still have one, lol! Since taking up the part-time job at the Westchester wine shop, I had let the Casting Producer gig fall to the wayside, but now it’s time to write and produce full-time!

9. Began studying video game design and SFX for films and video games. Super excited. 😉 Hopefully by the end of 2014, I’ll be pretty well-versed in lots of aspects of video game design, SFX, and film post-production… we’ll see! Excited, nonetheless!

10. Stepped more firmly into my career as a creative entrepreneur! In addition to starting a ton of projects, I kept up with my blogging (as promised), am catching up with my vlog tv/movie review series again, got more involved with writing book reviews (terribly overdue, and I apologize to my reviewees!), and I actually started a monthly newsletter!

wgf11. Started volunteering for the Scriptwriter’s Network and the Writer’s Guild Foundation! Also trying to wedge my way into the Writer’s Guild of America! You gotta start somewhere, and the best way to start is by giving back. I’m really excited to get to know people at the events I’ll be volunteering at and to finally start getting to know my industry.

12. Joined some screenwriting meet-ups, and I’m intimidated as hell, lol. Community is important. Especially one that will hold your ass accountable for the pages you were supposed to turn in a week ago, lol. It’s also a little nerve-wracking meeting new folks for the first time, but I also really look forward to it. Can’t wait to join the community of folks who are trying to go the same direction I am! 🙂

baby!13. And last, but certainly not least… I found out I was PREGNANT! Holy. Cow. Five weeks and I didn’t have a clue. Talk about a creative achievement, lol! There really is nothing like *literally* CREATING a life inside of you, and I’m thrilled to be having a babe on the way!

And for those of you who are wondering, YES, you CAN have a career in Hollywood as both a mother and a writer-screenwriter-producer or what have you, and I mean to show you how. Men do it all the time, so why can’t we? 😉 So please stay tuned for another month of moving forward, life lessons, and creative ass-kicking, and I hope to hear some of your stories too!

So what are your personal and/or creative accomplishments for January? Are you making progress towards your ultimate goals? Share them below! 

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

List of Writer’s Resources in Los Angeles & Beyond (for Aspiring Producers too!)

listsI love lists. Lists are amazing. They’re easy to make, shareable, and editable. I’ve only been in Long Beach / Los Angeles County for about 2 weeks, but I’m already starting to sink my fangs into all the resources I can for aspiring screenwriters and producers.

I decided to keep a growing list of everything I find, so as I find more, I’ll add them and share them here on my blog! In the meanwhile, enjoy and explore! I only hope that this will make *your* creative journey a little easier! 😉

Coffee-Tea Shops Where Writers Congregate / Just Plain Ole Great Places to Work

coffee shopWriting can get lonely, so if you want a great environment to both get work done and commune with fellow writers, check out these spots below!

It’s a Grind (Long Beach)

 

Great Writer’s & Filmmaker’s Groups to Join

meetupBuilding a community is important for creatives in general, but especially if you’re trying to break into the industry. I’ve done some footwork locating interesting meet ups around town that you might want to check out.

Okay so granted, I’ve only just joined these groups, so they are still “under review” in terms of being places to build community. As I said, this list is ever-growing and ever-changing, so stay tuned!

Los Angeles Film and TV Meetup Group

The Scriptwriter’s Network

Writer’s Blok LA

Beyond Baroque Screenwriter’s Workshop

Writers with Drinks LA

The Original Los Angeles Writers Group

LA TV Writers

Hollywood Jumpstart

Great Orgs and Conferences (for volunteer work)!

conferenceWhy volunteer? Because there are so many benefits to it, not only for giving back, but also for networking, gaining invaluable knowledge, and getting into expensive conferences for free! Every conference, pitch fest, video game convention, and more needs volunteers, so don’t miss the opportunity to start your career growth!

The Scriptwriter’s Network

The Writer’s Guild Foundation

Writer’s Guild of America, West

The Great American Pitchfest

Trust me, MANY more are coming, no worries, lol!

Awesome Books to Read, E-courses to Take, and Blogs to Follow!

bookstackAnd of course, some self-teaching is always great. When you’ve got some quiet time, or when you’re traveling, or when you’re burnt out on writing and producing 24-7, check out these books and resources. They’ll help you hone your skills, develop important aspects of your creative portfolio, and will give you some great insight from industry pros who’ve already been where you want to go!

Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirschner
This book is a creative’s manna. Breaking into Hollywood has suddenly become so much more probable… READ THIS BOOK, YOU FOOL!

Good in a Room by Stephanie Palmer
This book is absolutely essential for you to up your game on pitching, self-presentation, and selling your ideas in Hollywood. Writer’s don’t only need to write well, but they also need to sell well!

Pitching Essentials E-Course by Stephanie Palmer
AMAZING e-course for developing a kick-ass pitch for your projects! Sign up, get the course… and understand what it means to be a pitching god.

Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant
For indie writers and publishers who want to make a living doing what they love most, take it from the guys who are already doing it! Killer advice at a killer price. (Also great for screenwriters, as the principles carry over!)

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
One of the baddest chicks in the indie writing publishing game, Joanna Penn has created a massively successful indie publishing business off of her fiction and her non-fiction. She KNOWS how to market a book and has been in the trenches. Learn from a pro! And while we’re at it check out

The Creative Penn
Joanna wows us with her deep well of resources on indie publishing, marketing, and writing. She has an amazing podcast as well as some meaty articles on how to leverage your creative rights, be a great creative entrepreneur, and grow your personal creative business! DEFINITELY check her out!

Breakfast with Sharks
Michael Lent gives you the business in his candid rendering of Hollywood and screenwriting as an industry. He leads you through how feature film writing, selling, and buying work, what to expect, and how to maximize your chances of success as an aspiring screenwriter! Not to be missed!

The TV Writer’s Workbook
Ellen Sandler is an Emmy award-winning tv sitcom writer who knows how to write a damned good tv episode. She’s worked on Everybody Loves Raymond and Coach, so let her work on your tv writing skills! From tips on breaking down and analyzing tv episodes to tools to building your own pilot, Sandler ensures you won’t be disappointed.

And of course… more coming soon! If you have anything to add, I’d love your input! Please share! In the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Rebel Ragdoll Review (Book): Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

5 out of 5 Stars: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

writepublishrepeatExcuse my massive potbelly and picking of teeth, because I DEVOURED this book and enjoyed every minute of it.

::BURP::

Okay, let’s get back to the review, lol! This book was awesome. Found out about it through Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn website and snatched it up to absorb Platt and Truant’s wisdoms on making it as an indie publisher. Being a sci-fi, fantasy, and thriller novelist (and indie publisher) myself (and having just published my first novel), I needed to figure out a viable game plan to take my creative journey to the next level. Well, boys and girls, this book has it for sure. “Write, Publish, Repeat” gives us the down and dirty nuts and bolts info any indie would need to be successful: from reviews to building a fan base to writing quality work to “building funnels”, you’ll get a full education. Pick this one up along with Joanna Penn’s “How to Market a Book”, which is also mega kick-ass.

Thanks so much, guys! I feel so much more empowered learning from the pros!

Check out Write, Publish, Repeat at the following sellers: AmazonKoboBarnes and Noble

So, go my faithful repeaters, and get this book to add some firepower to your bad-ass indie movement! And also, if you’ve read this, what do you think of it? Did Sean and Johnny kick ass or did they totally flop with this one? Your thoughts, your space, so share it all below! And of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby