Pirates’s Life For Me…?

Ahoy mateys! It is I, Captain of the HRM ship, here to tell you: PIRACY. IS. NOT. OKAY.

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I love a good Captain Jack Sparrow gif…but hey, he’s a pirate too.

We’ve been seeing complaints online and receiving alerts from our own authors about “piraters” uploading whole e-books and audiobooks onto various platforms across the web, which is both frustrating and saddening. No one wants to see their work uploaded onto book platforms like iBooks or Google Play Books without their approval, especially if it is being sold for even the smallest amount of money. But most pirated material is put out for consumption for free,  that’s even more of a reason to freak out as an author. People downloading their books for free when they depend on this money to support themselves and their families (not to mention all the hard work and long hours they put into it)?! This is blasphemy!

Yeah, okay, a lot of people try to reason out the pros and cons of   piracy across all platforms…but at the end of the day…someone is making dirty money. Take a bath, why don’t you?

The theory goes that if it is free, shouldn’t you be happy that the book is at least getting some exposure? And if someone reads your book, becomes a fan, and wants to support your writing career, they’ll start to contribute to your newer titles…I suppose that is a good thing? At the end of the day though, it’s just not the life for me.

Is it worth putting up a fight to save your titles? In my opinion: Yes. It. Is. There is this incredibly detailed article talking about the steps to taking down a pirated book. Read it if the pirate market is bothering you to the Nth degree, it certainly has been here at HRM recently.

Since most of our agency’s authors have audiobooks through a publisher, it’s important to know that audiobook piracy happens as well. We have been finding full books up on YouTube and iBooks (make sure to check the podcast section as well, many free audiobooks end up there). Each publisher has their own process for getting these audiobooks taken down. They use sites such as DMCA, Digimarc, and MarkMonitor.  It also doesn’t hurt for you to send a Takedown Notice to the website you found your pirated audiobooks on either. We could use all the resistance we can get.

Protect the booty!

Interview with a Fictional Character

A great way to build realistic character development is to interview your characters. There are many different ways to go about interviewing a character. You could do a very basic overview (from the outside, looking in) and answer basic questions in a simple character template format.

Full Name

Birthday

Eye Color…etc.

So basic.

It’s like you’re filling out the census for them,  except you don’t have to worry about bubbling your answers in. . But, let’s say your character goes beyond that straightforward template, especially if it’s one of your main stars. What would you ask yourself about your character?

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Do they have a goal?

What’s their biggest flaw?

Do they have a religion?…etc.

You get the idea. We’re starting to dive a bit deeper here. Now you’re starting to take a step back and are starting to put yourself in their shoes to better understand their fictional life. They’re starting to come to life…THEY’RE ALIIIIIIVE!

Interview your character like I would interview Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) about Asgard or Gal Gadot (dressed as Wonder Woman) about forming the Justice League. Sorry (not sorry, it’s very relevant because of Infinity Wars) about the comic book/film references… moving right along!

Envision your character sitting across from you. Catch a glimpse of their mannerisms and body language in reaction to the personal questions you may ask.

Are you lying to yourself about something?

How did you meet your best friend?

What do you want your tombstone to say if you don’t survive this mission?…etc.

The more realistic the character becomes, the more you’ll question whether they exist or not. Make your reader believe!

A Tip A Day…

…Shouldn’t keep anyone away from your book!!! And if it did, then something isn’t right here!

Last August, we talk about a really important topic for authors. Everyone who has published a novel or series knows the importance (and financial contribution an author must make) of a jaw-dropping book cover.

If your sales are dropping, and they’ve been stagnant for quite a while now…consider pulling the artwork of your releases and asking your designer to update them! A brand-new look is like a brand new car – everyone likes the fresh smell, sleek exterior, all of those pretty things!

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Unless you like a surprise, then maybe a blind date will surprise you with a visually appealing book!

It’s Like A Dating Profile

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Let’s be honest, this is probably your face trying to narrow down the perfect author bio AFTER you wrote the perfect manuscript. NAILED IT!

Writing an author bio that intrigues people enough to invest in your product will serve as the bridge between you and your readers. Everyone can write the, “I grew up with my nose in a book…” and that’s where I found my inspiration to write type of thing. What people really like to see and remember is you- the actual witty and accomplished person that you are.  Your fans love your writing and they want to love you too.

So, let’s talk about some points you may want to consider sprinkling into your bio to make your fans giggle a little.

Don’t bore your fans with some jargon that doesn’t explain who you are outside of your writing life. If you aren’t a writing prodigy who rose to fame by writing a life-changing, coming-of-age novel, then I can safely assume you probably haven’t quite graduated to a full-time author quite yet. Tell your reader what you do by day and unveil your nighttime persona. Sometimes people like to see how dedicated others are to their craft, and we all know working full time can be tedious to a writer’s habits.

If you’re trying to reel in a new reader – it might be cool to give them a taste of your writing through your bio. Describe yourself the same way your narrator might, or make yourself into another character in your story (except that you’re not involved in the plot, just an innocent bystander). Paint a pretty picture (or ugly one, we won’t judge) of who you are or who your pen name is. Fans and readers alike would love to know the nitty gritty details.

Some people like trivia. Add a bit of trivia to your bio. Just like John Scalzi’s bio. It’s worth checking out.

I’ve heard here-and-there how readers like to see the relationship the author has with the publishing industry if that relationship exists. If you’re working as an editorial assistant and hid your manuscript in your file cabinet (with other author files, whoops!), I bet someone will get a kick out of knowing where your manuscript was written. Oh, and apologize to Sue or Greg (your boss, duh) about not turning your project in on time. They deserve the apology!

Is It A Bird? A Plane? WHAT IS IT?

It’s Memoir Monday – a self-proclaimed hashtag that isn’t a hashtag, to be honest. In the last two years, I decided to open my mind to memoirs, biographies, and other books by celebrities. To think that they already make a lot of money by appearing in our favorite movies and TV shows, now they write books to bring in more of an income! I wanted to see how much of their lives they actually want to share with their readers.

Now, I haven’t made a dent in the collection of celebrity novels. I’ve only come across three that peaked my interest: The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer, The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer (RIP to that beautiful woman), and Yes Please! by Amy Poehler.

Now the reason why you’re looking at Amy Poehler’s face here is because I have this undying love for her but heard mixed reviews on her book. I’m a sucker for needing to know every detail about a person’s life as well as every detail about their book (i.e. who published it, where was it produced, what is the ISBN number). This one definitely threw me for a look when I saw it didn’t have a genre.

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Originally, I found this beautifully crafted book (if you own it or have at least picked it up in your hands, you know what I mean) in the “Humor” section of Barnes and Noble and I was pretty confused because I read that it was a recollection and reflection on Poehler’s life…I understand she’s a funny woman but was the joke on me for looking in the “Biography” section?

I’m a little over halfway done with it and I’m all over the place, but still enjoying, the life of Amy Poehler – both past and present. She’s made me reflect on my own choices in life without actually sitting down and telling me to do so, or maybe there was a chapter in the book that told me to do that…WHO KNOWS! Ultimately, I do enjoy it as a read where I can pick it up even after I finish to revisit some pick-me-up chapters. It’s also really interesting to know the backstory and introduction of comedy changed Poehler’s path (spoiler alert, ha!)

I do want to ask though, has anyone ever picked up a book and had been previously misled to think the book was something else than what it actually was? If so, sound off in the comments, because I need a bit of forewarning before I buy others!

P.S. I have heard the audiobook to this is much better than reading the actual book but I like physical books so do what you will with this information, hehe!

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He Lives!

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Art by Bernie Wrightson

Remember when Mary Shelley wrote one of the most well known monster tales of all time?

I sure don’t because that was 1818. But that being said, Mary Shelley created a man no one would ever forget.

Classic monster literature takes on several themes, some of which cross over into other. Most of the classic literature, like Frankenstein, Dracula, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…they all seem to carry the weight of these themes.

The biggest one is enlightenment and science. Since these works were written during the Age of Enlightenment, pretty much moving away from the influence of faith to the influence of science, the emphasis on science and how it impacted those who practiced was reflected in literature. Each of the main three works mentioned earlier each show signs of science and enlightenment.

The other themes shown in these types of works are isolation, loneliness, and duality. Most of the characters embody the feeling of being isolated, being lonely, being helpless. Duality is mainly mirrored through Dr. Jekyll when turning into Mr. Hyde and in the idea of vampires, resting during the day and running amok and causing destruction when the night comes.

Do you have a favorite monster or work of monster literature?

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

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With writing, there comes plenty of responsibility to label royals and nobles in a proper manner in proximity to where the writing is taking place.

European hierarchy has a very particular line of way of naming their people in power. If you’re in need of official titles for some of your medieval characters, follow our list (based off of the British nobility):

  1. Emperor / Empress
  2. King / Queen
  3. Prince / Princess
  4. Duke / Duchess
  5. Marquess / Marchioness
  6. Earl (Count) / Countess
  7. Viscount / Viscountess
  8. Baron / Baroness
  9. Baronet / Baronetess
  10. Knight
  11. Esquire
  12. Gentleman

I recommend checking out this website to see other ways to say each level of nobility and definitions within other countries! It is really interesting to see how ranks vary between countries. Always educate!

 

Watch Like A Hawk

One way to help with writer’s block is to observe and write. This exercise can help beat the slump in your own story by examining and writing a paragraph or two about something going on around you. It can also help to reflect a natural flow of events in a narrator’s point of view if you’re stuck. If want to give observational writing a try, follow along with us to learn about how to execute this way of writing effectively.

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First, pick your topic. Whether it is something you’re comfortable with or if you want to challenge yourself, pick a destination where you can travel to and sit with your notebook in hand. Your goal is to watch and write. The   world has so much to offer your writing abilities.

Second thing to keep in mind is choosing your writing tense. The most common way to write an observation is through the present tense. The present tense makes it easier to keep up with the flow of events as they happen. You may not be able to catch every word someone says in conversation but you may be able to see their mannerisms in conjunction with being alone, interacting with familiar faces, or meeting new people.

The third and more obvious tactic while observing is keeping an eye on crucial details. Every writer knows detail can be your best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. In observational writing, it will be your best friend. Without detail being described in the moment you are watching your future reader won’t be compelled to sit down with you. They’ll feel like that person walking by a window to a store, peering in quickly but still passing by; they won’t see the details you’ve managed to capture because you didn’t take their hand and lead the way into your point of view.

Going off of the details aspect, a fourth idea to keep in mind while writing should be utilizing your senses. We mentioned the importance of details but incorporating your five senses may entice the reader to feel like they’re sitting right there with you even more.

The fifth and last on our list (but certainly not the least) is bringing back some old high school creative writing techniques: comparative techniques. Comparisons, simile,s and metaphors are just some ways to mirror and describe the events unfolding before you. This helps more types of readers become involved in your writing. It definitely does not hurt to revisit your old creative writing class from high school or college to refresh your brain a bit. Hm, that sounds like a future ‘Back to the Basics’ post!