Archive for the signs of life Category

Elements of the Novel Pitch

Posted in life of linne, signs of life, writing on January 3, 2008 by Aaron

Back when I was trying to pitch stories for Mavel Comics, I didn’t really know what format they were looking for.  Andy Schmidt was giving me good feedback, but I never quite knew what all I should include in the pitch.  This hurt my chances, as I wasn’t thinking the pitch out to their expectations.  There was one pitch I wrote that Andy liked and said he wanted to know more on… but he didn’t bite because I made the story too long.  He wasn’t looking for a mini-series from a fresh, new author.

So, for this novel, I wanted to be sure that I was approaching it the right way so that in the end I could hopefully get it published somewhere/somehow.  David Webb at B&H was able to help me out and get me their novel proposal form.  Looking over the elements they want included, I realize that I made the right choice in taking this approach first.  Working through some of the information they want will help me better frame the story as a whole, and help me make a more complete work.

That said, there were several things in here that I really hadn’t thought all the way through, or really even begun to work on…

Audience

So who is going to be the audience for this book?  Even without an MBA, it’s common sense that for a publisher to go through the process of editing, marketing, printing and selling a book, there has to be a market out there for it.  What I find interesting here is that I would think that a lot of this work would already be done by the publisher themselves.  They know what sells of their own books and what doesn’t.  And, well, sci-fi Christian books simply don’t sell right now.

For me, I’m going to have to do some research here and discover why sci-fi Christian books don’t sell.  Are they marketed wrong?  Is there an untapped audience?

Also, as part of the “audience”, I would think this is where an author can come in and claim their own audience.  If Neil Gaiman or Ted Dekker write a book, they bring with them an established group of readers.  One of the nice things about having a blog is that I can claim a small built in audience… but right now, that’s pretty small.

Suggested Package

How do you determine if a book is worthy of a hardcover or not?  Is it it just a budget book?  For my novel this is where one of the key marketing elements will come into play for me: this book needs to be digitally distributed.  I don’t imagine a hard cover book… but if I don’t ask for one and I shortchanging my manusrcipt?

Purpose/Vision

In essence, this is asking whether or not this book is intended to have any long-term effects on the reader’s life.  I can honestly answer this one fairly easily: yes.  One of my goals with the novel is to make me think about what the future might be like and, in turn, let the reader think about it.  In studying to be a futurist, I’ve read and seen very little so far about what the future of religion and spirituality might be like.  That’s one of the primary topics I want to discuss in this novel.  Honestly, that’s a bit of the crux of this novel… to introduce Christians to the idea of thinking past two generations from now and considering how their actions today can influence the lives of people 200 generations from now.

Author Platform

It makes sense… if the author has oppertunities to speak at various locations, that’s a personal touch and gives the author more chances to sell the book.  So, um… anyone want me to speak at their conference?

Endorsement Opportunities

Essentially, who would be willing to put their name on your book to promote you.  Who do you know that already has an audience that can bleed into yours.  This is where all those nice quotes on the back of the book come from.

Competing Products

This is your best friend and your worst enemy.  If there aren’t any competing products out there… is your idea so novel and great that it can create an entire new marketplace?  If there are too many competing products… why would yours stand out?  Again, this is purely business… but important business.  An author must know his or her contemporaries.

Those, of course, are just some of the elements that B&H is looking for, outside of the expected synopsis and themes and such.  I think a lot of this legwork is important, though.  There’s a difference between just wanting to write (which I can do on here any time) and wanting to be published.  If I’m not willing to go the extra mile and do the leg work… how bad do I really want to share my story?  And if I don’t want to share my story bad enough… why should the publisher take the burden of risk on publishing it?

As an aside, I’m giving myself the deadline of September 30th, 2008 to finish the manuscript.  Yes, I know that’s nine months away… but even still, that’s qucikly approaching.  I’m taking the summer off of school, so that’s when I expect to get the bulk of the writing done. 

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so… about that novel

Posted in life of linne, nanowrimo, signs of life, writing on December 20, 2007 by Aaron

what can i say?  life got in the way, and it wasn’t meant for me to write a full length novel in the month of November.  However, thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’ve got a great start with some great ideas and a few chapters to build off of.  I will see this to completion, even if it’s a few months away.  At this point, I’m thinking I might even take a few days of vacation spattered here and there to work on it.

In doing things like this, I like to know what all the possibilities are.  If I’m going to write this thing; poor my time, energy and ideas into a manuscript… then I want to make sure that there’s at least a chance that someone will discover it and enjoy it.  I’ve done some minimal research and found that, at the very least, there is one place I will be able to publish it:

Amazon Digital Shorts

More likely, however, I would put it for publishing through Amazon’s digital services, which would allow a different pricing structure.  Either way, this will allow the manuscript to be read on a Kindle… which… would be very fitting (if you’ve read the first chapter).  I would like to firmly state that the manuscript did begin before the Kindle was released/publically known about.

So on my quest for information regarding my publishing options, I got a chance this past week to meet with David Webb of B&H Publishing House.  I was quite pleased to get to know him; he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy who is as passionate about books as my wife is.  It didn’t hurt that he had artwork from an Alex Ross calendar or a Worf mug in his office, either.  What I liked about Webb is that he told it to me straight: there isn’t much room for sci-fi in the CBA market.

Seeing as I’m getting my MBA, I was actually quite interested in his perspectives on the market, as well as the future plans for the B&H fiction line, in general.  I found it amazing how much the market is geared toward women… as most faith-based products are nowadays.  Why aren’t men buying faith-based entertainment?

We talked briefly about the struggles I would have with writing a Christian-based sci-fi novel, but he also offered some like a group of authors who recently went on tour promoting their sci-fi and fantasy work.  Webb was very encouraging when we got to the end of the conversation, as we both agreed that sci-fi was a great place to explore faith.  Being followers of Christ allows us one constant – that God is and always will be God.  So even if I place my story 100,000 years in the future… God is still God.  And that allows me a world of creativity.

So I now have two assignments:

  1. Finish the novel
  2. Write the pitch

The pitch is going to be interesting… but I think I might tackle most of it first.  There are some things they are looking for that I hadn’t really thought out yet.  And, the pitch does include the full synopsis.  It might be good to decide how my story ends… even though I prefer to discover it along the way.

So… about that novel.  I’m still working on it.  Maybe you’ll get to buy it someday.

i’m way behind (and a preview of Chapter 7)

Posted in nanowrimo, prose, signs of life, writing on November 6, 2007 by Aaron

oi – I am way behind on the novel.  I currently sit at 3,689 words.  I’m supposed to be done with about 10,000 by now.  My first two days were strong, but then Saturday I filmed a wedding for 5 hours, and Sunday I had lot of homework (and a little Christmas shopping for Ashley) to do.  Last night I managed to get over my first bit of Writer’s Block and jumped from the end of Chapter 2 on to Chapter 7.  Which means, at some point, I’ll have to go back and fill in a lot of the details.

I’ve put a preview of Chapter 7 after the break.

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Chapter 1: High Priority News

Posted in nanowrimo, prose, signs of life on November 1, 2007 by Aaron

Sol was a news filter, or sorts.

By this time in human history, Universes had been populated by space-faring dynasties of men.  A constant flow of information was at everyone’s fingertips, but someone had to prioritize it.  Sol came from a long line of news filters; his family was one of the major dynasties in their universal sector.  News filters would analyze all of the incoming messages, feeds and stories and filter their relevance to various ideas, tags and themes.

To say that Sol’s profession was to be a news filter would be principally inaccurate.  He was, in fact, a news filter.  So naturally skilled he was at the profession that he had an almost “sixth sense” about the accuracy and importance of an article from even the briefest scan of it.  The average scan of a thousand word document by a filter was no more than thirty seconds.  Sol’s average was twenty-three seconds.  Seven seconds is time and time is, as they say, money.

The news filters would receive their feeds directly through the neural net.  Over the years humans adapted to the numerous airwaves spread into the air around them.  Some might call it evolution, but no one in Sol’s time would think such thoughts.  No one in Sol’s time could – yes, I said could, not would – even imagine a human mind not being able to intercept the neural net.  It had, after all, been nearly 100,000 years since the first radio waves were broadcast.  Not that they kept track of things like that.

Continue reading

Words of Sol: It is as it always has been

Posted in poetry, signs of life on November 1, 2007 by Aaron

It is as it always has been
The Name is constant, the name is You
Honor follows honor, just as grief follows gried
It is as it always has been

It was as it always was
Our Name had trickled down the ages
How many lives have known our Name?
It was as it always was

He is as He always has been
He is still alive, He is still the root
His Name is why I am who I am
He is as He always has been

I am not who I always was
I have brought shame to our Name
My Father, and my unborn Son
I am not who I always was

upon writing a novel

Posted in life of linne, nanowrimo, signs of life, writing on November 1, 2007 by Aaron

a few days ago, self-friend Ariah posted a blog about November being National Novel Writing Month.  I’ve been meaning to get some more writing out of my system, and the encouragement of knowing there are hundreds of people doing the same thing at the same time has led me to bite the bullet (hooray for mob mentality!).

The goal for myself, Ariah, and hundreds of other people is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  I’m not sure if I’m doing this for the creative/social experience or because I (apparently) love punishment so much.

This is also one of the reasons I posted the short story yesterday.  Translating the comic script i wrote a few months ago into a short story was a test to see how much I could write during lunch.  The short story was written over two 45-minute periods… the story is 1900 words long, so I should be able to average 1000 words an hour.  At that rate, I would need to work at least an hour and forty minutes a day.

Oh, why did i just break that down to myself like that.

Other November projects:

1) Be a good husband

2) Run with the dogs at least twice a week

3) Work a full time job

4) Develop and lead lessons for our small group

5) Finish up my Intro to Future Studies Master’s class

6) Develop Nathan Jey’s website

7) Film and edit a wedding

8) Finish Halo 3 (only one level left!)

Yup, I’m a glutton for punishment.  There might be some occasional updates here on the blog, or even some sample chapters and what not.  Please take some time to comment on them… I’ll need some encouragement during this sprint/marathon of writing!