A National Tell a Story Day Special

For those of you who followed me here on The New Writer’s Journey, you’ve read a lot about my debut novel The Drive Home. It was my whole reason for starting the blog and I wanted to show my book off to the world. I want to share it with you all now, in honor of National Tell a Story Day. Thanks to my publisher, Emerald Inkwell, and the KDP Select program through amazon, we’re running a special from now, April 27th, to the end of the month. You can pick up the Kindle edition of the novel, The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, right now, for FREE. The support has been immense for the novel and we’d like to return the favor by doing something special. And what better day than a holiday focused on telling stories?

Sean K. NovelsHere’s the link to a post with all the details on the Sean K. Novels site:

Sean K. Novels: National Tell a Story Day!

 

 

 

And, of course, to the amazon page where you can pick up the Kindle edition for FREE!
The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror
, Kindle Edition 

 

I hope you all enjoy the drive and tell someone a good story today!

A New Journey

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on The New Writer’s Journey and there’s a number of reasons why. Not that I’m a fan of simply making excuses, but I’m in a different place in life than I was a year ago.

I recently achieved the goal that I hoped to accomplish when I first started The New Writer’s Journey. My debut novel The Drive Home was finally finished and published by Emerald InkwellTDH-FB-COVER (1): A Pacific Northwest Publishing Community. Since that day (February 2nd is when it went live!) I’ve been knee deep in launching the novel on all platforms, doing some marketing, and visiting local bookstores with regards to carrying the novel. On top of that, I’ve been working on a new blog, a spiritual successor to The New Writer’s Journey, if you will. On social media, I had used the handle @seanknovels or facebook.com/seanknovels and this new blog will take up that same handle to keep a bit of consistency. The new blog will tackle some of the same ideas this one wanted to (writing concepts and growth) but will also look to do new things that this blog could never do, like book reviews, local author and artist spotlights, resources for writers, and a place for me to showcase my work and improve my skills as a writer.

I’ve also been working with my publisher Emerald Inkwell, of which I’m the Co-Founder, to bring The Drive Home to fruition and find new talented people to join our growing community. The thing about Emerald Inkwell is that it’s so much more than a simple publishing company; one day it will be a community of creative individuals just doing what they love and helping others around them succeed, but more on that later.

A New JourneyBecause I’ve taken so long to revisit this, The New Writer’s Journey, I do have to apologize that it took me so long to do so. However, I would like to invite each and every one of you who’ve like my posts, followed my work, or just stopped in and said “Hello,” to come on over to seanknovels.com and read the few articles I’ve posted so far. I hope you’ll find something new, something you enjoy reading and find something that may help or inspire you in your writing.

If there’s anything that you enjoyed from The New Writer’s Journey that you would like to see more of, I’d love to hear it so that I may continue those types of posts. Or if there is anything you’d like to see me delve into that I haven’t before, I’d be excited to do so! Thank you all so much for your time and support, and I’ll see you over at Sean K. Novels.

Sean K. Novels: Welcome Post:

Welcome to Sean K. Novels, A New Journey

A Hiatus, Only Smaller

It happened again. As much as I tried to stay consistent, I found my attention focused on things other than The New Writer’s Journey. Granted, the thing I’ve been focused on was the reason for founding the blog, but that’s beside the point. While I have been working away, pen to pad and hands to keyboard, I feel as though I broke a promise to myself. I told myself that I would begin this blog and not stop, preferably ever, or at least until it could no longer be the New writer’s journey.

Now, that isn’t to say that over the last few months that I haven’t been busy, because… well, I have been. The most prominent of which, is working on The Drive Home, and trying to finish the first draft of my sci-fi novel One Last Hunt. And per my new year’s resolutions, that’s what I’ve been doing. I finished my most recent draft of The Drive Home, and as I began to read through it again, I couldn’t help but begin my fourth draft (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, editing will forever be my nemesis). But I’m making more progress on it than I have in ages.

In regards to my sci-fi novel from NaNoWriMo, I’m working on the very last chapter. The page count has already blown my first novel’s out of the water, which was my plan all along (onwards and upwards, as they say), and I know exactly how I want it to end. It’s nearly there.

So, in this last year, in which I began this blog, how much have I accomplished? In my opinion, and that of a few others, a hell of a lot. In one year, I’ve written two novels, started two others (just a few chapters a piece), and a couple of short stories. Additionally, to expand my repertoire towards more aspirations, I’ve begun writing four television scripts, and two feature length film scripts. I’ve authored a blog, began a number of the hurdles that need cleared before publishing, and I’ve made just enough money to keep food in my belly and a roof over my head. To me, that’s a hell of a lot, and there’s so much more to come.

It was after realizing what I’d accomplished, that my drive to do what I love for a living, telling stories, increased exponentially, and boosted my confidence. I can see what is both a finish line and a starting line, and it’s just on the horizon. Once I finish the grueling process of editing my novel, I can begin a new chapter that will eventually lead to me being able to tell stories for the rest of my life. So, now that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, I can resume posts here on The New Writer’s Journey, while still focusing on my projects and moving forever forward. I’ve planned my next post to be the one I promised to post which will be the first excerpt from The Drive Home, and I swear, it’s coming soon. 

*Raises a frosty glass of cold, delicious beer*

“Here’s to what’s still to come, and a future worth writing about!”

~Cheers

Resolutions: A Little Late & A Little Early

Much to my surprise, NaNoWriMo took a lot out of me. I still find myself recovering from thirty days of staring at a computer screen for at least eight hours a day. My most recent issue has been that any time I look at a computer screen for more than thirty minutes, my head begins to ache severely. I’m not sure if that’s a large issue, but I’m already beginning to get over that, hence this new post. Another persistent issue though, is my aching ass from all the sitting. That hasn’t changed, and most likely won’t until I can afford a more comfortable chair to write in.

But I think the majority of my pain has passed. I’ve taken more than enough time to give my brain a well deserved rest, and now it is time to come back with a vengeance. I have been keeping up with the editing of my first novel, The Drive Home, and I have dedicated myself to the goal of having a “presentable copy” of the book by early January. Very early January. So far, in my editing, I am about the 3/5 the way through manuscript and a lot has changed since my early drafts. Near the start of the New Year, I will have a version of my novel that I can comfortably start showing to friends and family without that fear of inadequacy.

Late, 2013, Resolution #1: Have a finished, polished draft of The Drive Home, in the New Year (this New Year!was my resolution at the start of 2013, but it took a bit longer than expected).

That is only the beginning. This is where I will start powering out newer versions of my novel, editing like a mad man, and making it perfect. I mentioned this once before, but Hemingway re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times. As much as I would like to avoid that being the case for The Drive Home, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it perfect. I would love to hire a professional editor, which is highly recommended for self published, or any sort of published, authors, but I am more broke than I care to admit (you didn’t just read that). I hope to find a decent editor to review my work as both a copy editor and a content editor, but until I find one that’s inexpensive, my friends, family, and myself will have to do.

That brings me to my first resolution for the New Year.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #1: Finish, and I mean finish, The Drive Home.

I have a plan, a production schedule and even a business plan, to begin uploading and printing, and selling my novel, in six months. Half way through the year is my goal. If I can accomplish this sooner, outstanding, otherwise, six months is a reasonable goal with a finished novel. But don’t any of you worry; you’ll be the first to read sections from my novel, before it goes into publishing. I said I’d do that, and I won’t let any of you down.

2014 New Year’s Resolution #2: Finish writing, then editing, my NaNoWriMo novel, One Last Hunt.

So, I have one finished novel, but during the month of November, I wrote another, completely different novel. I didn’t quite finish it during November, but I did get very, very far with it. Since November, I’ve added another seven thousand words and I still have about five chapters left to write. For the first draft, at least. But my priorities are in order, and the first thing on my docket, is to finish The Drive Home.

I have many more plans for the coming year, but most are dependent on those resolutions above, and the success of each project. Once I near these goals, I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress, my plans, and how I went about achieving these goals. But until then, I’ll keep writing, slaving away at something I love (if only everyone could be so lucky). I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, and have a great New Year, I know I will.

Lastly, if anyone else has any any writing / creative / storytelling, resolutions for the New Year, I’d love to hear them.

Write Your Own Story, Or Publish It

Over the last few months, I’ve been studying up on the art of publishing, and thinking to myself: “I hate waiting for and relying on other people to do things for me.” This thought really began to cross my mind after I started submitting my novel to publishers. I find myself checking my email every ten minutes hoping someone will send me an email reply . And don’t even get me started on weekends, when lots of companies are closed until the following Monday. Then, I can’t sit still as I wait anxiously for a response that is most likely not going to show up in my inbox. So, what does all this frustration mean?

Essentially, it means that I prefer when things are solely base on my performance. That I thrive when no one else is to blame but myself. To sum it all up, it means that I have been considering going the self publication route for my writing. Now you might be asking yourself a few questions:

First question: will I make as much money self publishing? That entirely depends on my effort and the quality of my work. If I hit the ground running and continue to market my work with my growing enthusiasm, then, I believe that I can make as much money. In addition, the royalties are usually higher. The royalties for eBooks when self publishing can, on average, net the author up to 85% of their list price.

When it comes to print books, the royalties may not be exponentially higher, but they are still much better, especially the books sold directly through amazon.com. Using their print on demand method of printing, authors don’t need to print ten-thousand copies of their book, and then find out how to sell them all. The author doesn’t even need to worry about printing at all, essentially, every time someone clicks “buy,” Amazon prints a copy and ships it to the consumer.

Second question: how can my marketing compete with that of big publishing companies? From all the author testimonials I’ve come across in my research, big publishing houses only do extensive promotion if your a previously well selling author, or someone really, really, believes in your novel. Otherwise they tend to leave the author to publicize at their own discretion. So, essentially, it’s a fairly level playing field. I’ve made a number of connections in my past and I plan on using as many as possible to help further my own goals, and maybe do a few favors to further some other friends marketing goals as well.

And the third major question is: how would I even get started? Major publishing houses have been around for nearly a century and have the market fairly well cornered. But, as I mentioned, I’ve been researching this quite a bit and there are a lot more resources available to authors on the subject, now more than ever. With the options mentioned above, I can sell my book through a number of venues and not pay a dime to get started. Through Amazon.com, I can sell a print version of my book by merely allowing Amazon to take a percentage of the sale each time a copy is sold. So, not costing me anything out of my own pocket. Additionally, if I choose to pay an additional $25, I can allow my book to be purchased wholesale by large retailers, such as Barnes & Nobles, which allows for greater distribution. When it comes to the eBook side of publishing, the two best sites I’ve found for publishing are Smashwords & Lulu. Each of these put your eBook up on on a number of sites and on all major eBook reader stores. And again, they only take a percentage of each sale, not requiring you to pay any upfront fees.

There are a few more steps in regards to self publishing that I have been working on and preparing for. I’ve written an ever growing, 15 page business plan, with market projections and production schedules. If i choose to self publish, I’ll want to make it a self publishing company, so, I’ll need to create a business name, register with the local government for tax purposes, and open a bank account to do business as that company. Websites will need to be created, contractors may need hired for work that I’m not as skilled with, such as cover design, and there are some more steps which I have been slowly working out as well. But so far, I’ve come quite a long way from anxiously waiting for someone to sift through an enormous pile of manuscripts, hoping they’ll get to mine next, to being ready to “write my own story,” so to speak.

I’ve moved on and I think I’m ready to take my future into my own hands and be responsible for my own success or failure. But anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t take kindly to failure, and that I will sweat and bleed for this opportunity, because I know it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I want to do, and if I can access a bit of my “good old fashioned Irish luck,” I may just hit the big time. That’s the end game though, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience as a self published author, about the ups and downs, success or horror stories. Don’t hold back, I can take it, and I’m more than intrigued to hear what anyone has to say!

It’s Not The Size That Counts…

Before I began writing my novel, I did a lot of research into “how long should my novel be?” What constitutes a short story? Can a novel be too short or too long?” What’s the difference between a novella and a novelette? For anyone starting to write a novel these questions can be a bit daunting, especially since there really is no exact answer for how long your book should be. That is putting it rather frankly, but it’s actually true, to a degree. So let’s break it down into a number of different categories: flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, and sagas / sequels. In my research I have found many definitions for each of these categories and have put together, what I feel, is a good scale to gauge story lengths by.

Now, there’s something important to mention here, and I can’t stress this enough. There is no set rule or specific length to classify your works by. Everything mentioned below is simply a guideline. Publishers may classify their book types differently than what you find here, or they may be exact, you just wont know until you work with a publisher. Sometimes they state their novel length preferences upfront, on their submission page, other times it’s a simple luck of the draw.

Additionally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just because a certain type of book is harder to sell than others, doesn’t mean that a unique novelette wouldn’t grab a publisher’s attention with ease. So, here we go, a few guidelines to help classify your work and give you a goal to shoot for when writing.

Flash Fiction – Under 1,000 Words: Flash fiction is a type of story that is often found in magazines or publications to fill a single page. I’ve found that writer’s often tend to take on flash fiction (and short stories) as a sort of challenge. It can be difficult to write an exceptional story in under 1,000 words and still have a beginning, middle, and end. Being able to include those, and still develop a sense of character is a worthy challenge for any author. (I even plan on undertaking this challenge eventually)

Short Story – 1,000 to 7,500 Words: A short story is, obviously, short. If looking to get published, short stories can be a bit more complicated. Unless you happen to have a number of completed stories. Publishers usually aren’t looking for a single short story, only coming in under thirty pages, it’s often hard to justify the cost of publishing. A number of publications, such as magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-magazines, accept single short stories and are great ways to publish them. If, however, you have a number of short stories, that can add up to the approximate length of a novel, a number of publisher do publish compilations.

Novelettes – 7,500 to 20,000 Wrods: Novelettes are a tad easier to write than short stories or flash fiction, because you have more pages to work with. The trouble with novelettes is that they may be harder to sell to a publisher. The reason being is that they are too long to fit into a magazine, and they are too short to be published as a novel. From the research I’ve done, it seems that authors often times combine a few novelettes into a compilation. But, as stated above, there have been novelettes published by themselves. In my opinion, they’re actually perfect for a majority of modern day, on-the-go readers. A short, easy, good read that you can finish quickly and pick up a new one.

Novellas – 20,000 to 50,000 Words: Novellas are excellent for modern day readers, just like novelettes. They’re good for an easy read, but can be just as in depth as a novel. Characters can be deep, plots can be complex, but can still be finished in a couple days depending on how fast you like to read. While many publishers won’t bat an eye at a novel this short, novellas are excellent for e-books. Just like novelettes, they’re easy to pick up and put down, and reading it in your spare time on a screen just seems to work. Additionally, there have been many novellas published as standalone books, so if your story fits this category don’t try to stretch it out any longer than you need.

Novels – 50,000 to 120,000 Words: Now we get to what many writers, including myself, aim for. Novels are the easiest to publish (easy being a relative term, most accepted book length to publish, if you can get a publisher to read your book). The most recognized range of published novels would be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. As I said previously, I can’t overstate the fact that just because you’re not in that “sweet spot” doesn’t mean you won’t get your novel published. My Novel, “The Drive Home,” comes in just over that 50,000 mark. If your work is nearing the higher end of this range, you may want to consider some strict editing and cut your word count back a bit. For a first time author, or an author with little credentials, a publisher might be wary to publish anything over 100,000 to 110,000 words.

I decided on 50,000 words for my goal, because over the last couple years, I have participated in the NaNoWriMo competition. Thirty days, at least 50,000 words, that was the goal. So, that was my goal for my first novel. 50,000 words for someone who hasn’t written a full length novel before can be pretty a daunting task. When I began writing “The Drive Home,” I thought that goal was impossible. Now that I have finished, that seems like a piece of cake. During the time between finishing my novel and beginning the editing process, (“they” say you should put your novel away for two months or so, I took two weeks) I took the free time to start writing something more science fiction oriented. In that two week time period, I wrote one hundred pages, which came in just under 25,000 words. And I have only progressed through about 30% of the story line. By completing my first project, my confidence, my writing, and my speed have increased exponentially.

Epics / Sequels / Sagas – Over 120,000 Words: Novels of this length are often turned away when written by first time authors. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider separating your novel into a sequel or trilogy. Writers who create this type of novel are often well established, to the point that the publisher doesn’t really care how long your novel is, because they know it’ll do well. The most obvious and overly used example: Stephen King. If he wants to publish a novel that’s under 50,000 or over 150,000 words, his publisher will take it on faith, because he’s good at what he does. Personally, I love the idea of writing something that matches the weight of a newborn baby. A book that when you set it down on a table it shakes and lets everyone know, “Hey, I’m reading an enormous book!” But, until I make a name for myself and sell millions of copies, I can be satisfied with writing a trilogy of shorter novels, rather than a something this size.

Wow! That was a lot of information. Hopefully, this sheds some light on where certain word counts are classified. But the bottom line really is, that the story dictates the length of your novel. You don’t want to stretch something over 300 pages when it really should have only been 150 pages. The reader may get bored if you drag your story on. The opposite is true as well. Don’t upset the reader by denying them deep characters or climactic plot points, when you have enough content for a 250 page novel. Either of those scenarios could very well affect the sales of your current or future works.

That’s it. That’s your cue to start, or continue with your writing. No matter what the length, genre, or content, get it done and enjoy what you’re writing. It’ll be finished when it’s supposed to be finished and not a moment sooner.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Something that comes with being an aspiring author is rejection. I began by submitting a query letter, with a portion of my novel, to a few literary agents and a few publishing companies. Within approximately two weeks I received my first rejection letter. While the idea of a rejection letter has no affect on my morale whatsoever, my first rejection letter was… let’s just say, less than comforting.

At very least, I expected to receive a form letter:

“Thanks so much, we read your work, unfortunately it’s not for us, thanks anyway, etc., etc.”

My first rejection letter was much more impersonal. More impersonal than a form letter? Yes. My first rejection letter simply said:

“Thanks, but no.”

Nothing more, nothing less. Again, this doesn’t bother me because I was rejected, this particular literary agent knows what they’re doing, they’ve been in the business for some time, and knows what they’re looking for. The reason this irked me, was because it was so severely impersonal, and “empty.” But, I’ll live and I’ll persevere.

Additionally, I received my second rejection letter.  (Yay!!) This one filled me with excitement. I’m almost certain it was a form letter, but it was thought out. A full email page, four paragraphs worth of:

“Thanks, but unfortunately not what we’re looking for,” and “Keep trying, just because it’s not our forte doesn’t mean it’s not good work.”

As I said, a form letter, but I read this and thought, “Thank God, that this was a thought out, full letter.” It made me feel that the work I put into my novel was worth it, not just brushed aside with a few words. Hell, it even made the anxiety from simply seeing the bold “new email” font in my inbox, worth it.

So, the moral of the story is simply this: Keep trying, don’t let rejection get you down. You can scour the internet for aspiring author stories, and ninety percent of them will say that they received dozens of rejection letters from agents and publishers. What I’ve come to realize is, that rejection letters shouldn’t be viewed as failure, rejection letters should be viewed as a milestone, as a rite of passage. The number of rejection letters you receive will showcase how hard you worked to prove that your story needs to be told. But I guess that’s just one authors opinion. And this author, I’m going to shoot for ten rejection letters. I think that sounds like a nice round number to aim for. Ten rejection letters, then the world will be ready for “The Drive Home.”  If it comes sooner than that, perfect. If it comes later, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’ll still persevere and I guess I’ll have to raise that expected number by a few. Coming up soon I’ll examine the research I’ve done in regards to sending query letters and book proposals. See you then.