One of the first thing that an author discovers is that the writing of a book is only the beginning. It would be lovely to think that you could spend all of your time writing, devoting every waking moment to the perfecting of your craft, but that is rather unlikely if you’re an independent author and have to contend with the realities of what goes into getting a book from the screen to the marketplace. In my case, from my laptop to both Amazon and Kobo.
Another thing that an author discovers is that writing is not something you turn on or off; writing is something that is part of you, whatever you do it makes you think of your writing, or of something you might write about, and that is good. This means that the prescient author is being aware of their surroundings, aware of their thoughts and feelings, and all of the ideas swirling around in their head. One of the best things that have aided in focusing my own creativity during the writing of the first three books of the Felis Alliance Series has been the taking of regular long walks.
Doing this daily not only allows my eyes to not only take a break from staring at the monitor, it allows my brain to sort out the various characters that are being juggled in the book that is being written. Plots have been adjusted and story lines have been completely revamped by the time the walk has ended. More importantly, in over two years the words “writers block” have never been used in conjunction with the phrase “I have”, which is a good thing, to say the least.
Once the first book of the Felis Alliance had been completed it would have been great to hand it off to someone else to prepare it for publication, but independent authors do not have that luxury. Bordofsky Productions is a small operation. There is an in-house editor, who was of great assistance, but even with Patrice’s assistance, much of the work fell to the shoulders of the author. That meant revising the book, and proofreading, before more writing. Patrice checked the work, and suggested corrections, and then the work continued. Something that an author should learn, however, is that revising their writing is a good thing to do. If you let someone else revise your work, how much of your work is it in the end? If you write it and you revise it, it is yours. From beginning to end, you have created every word, every nuance, and everything that the reader sees on the page—or screen as the case may be.
In the case of the first book, Sun Killers, my thoughts had been that the editing process was taking too long, and then it occurred to me that it was taking as long as it needed to take. What was the rush? Writing, as with any creative process is just that: it’s a process. It requires time, a gestation period. Putting the words on the page is merely the beginning. We’ve all read things that could have benefited from a good proofread, and edit, but was obviously rushed to publication. There are many reasons for this, but the most common is money. Publishers often make cuts in their Editorial Departments, and quality suffers. This is unfortunate, particularly when you end up reading things in a newspaper, magazine, or book, and find unfortunate errors that could have—or should have—been picked up with a cursory proofread, but in the rush to get something to press, it was missed.
Now that Sun Killers has “gone live” and is available for purchase on both Amazon on Kobo (please check out the links below to get your copy today), it is, as they say, as real as it gets, and the pressure is on to get the second book prepared for release. Books two and three have been written, and right now Time Changers, book two of the series, has been fully revised and edited, and is now undergoing the final proofread before it is sent to market, but that is not a process that takes just a few days. At the moment, my creative time is being divided between the final proofreading and the writing of book four, Inevitability, as well as spending some time every day working on marketing Sun Killers.
It seems as though there is a never-ending amount of work, and at any given time one could spend an entire day on one thing, neglecting something else. Believe me, that has happened … though not usually in favor of the marketing. As much as it is my desire to see Sun Killers become a wild success, “selling things” is not something that comes natural to me. It has always been my hope that readers will discover the book and feel the story is compelling, that it speaks to their sense of adventure, or appeals to their ideals in some way, and they’ll feel the desire to purchase the book.
If you like Science Fiction that is not conventional, that explores technologies, space, and many other things, including the human condition, then Sun Killers, from the Felis Alliance Series is going to be a book you enjoy. If you don’t like Science Fiction, but appreciate original writing, you still might enjoy the book.
Who knows, it has a cat in it, what can it hurt to try?
Thank you for reading. If you would like to read a sample of the book, you can do so at both the Kobo and Amazon websites. Softcover versions are also available from the Amazon site.
Since the completion of my first novel and having it prepared for publication something new has been occupying my time. Much to my surprise it has, at times, been far more cumbersome than the initial writing of the novel, and has had the potential to take over far more of my time than could have been imagined. Now that the book is available online the specter of marketing hangs over my head: the idea of attracting an audience to my work has begun to haunt me, particular after spending any amount of time reading some of the many blogs and newsgroups dedicated to helping new authors promote their works.
How does someone go about attracting an audience? It is a difficult question, and there are many books out there purporting to have the answer. There are also many newsgroups, Facebook groups, and blogs dedicated to authors and book promotion, and when you start reading them it is easy to quickly lose great swaths of time that could, or should, have been spent doing other things, like editing and revising the second book in the series.
Reading these blogs or groups makes it appear as though one of the only options available to a new author is to spend money to market the work which you have spent months—or even years—working to create, in the hopes that you might attract the readers willing to invest in your work. This all follows the caveat, truly spoken, that writing is not an easy way to quick riches.
When I made the decision to begin writing my novels it had nothing to do with a desire to become rich, but it would be a lie to say that I did not want my books to sell.
Of course, that having been said, unless the author in question is already independently wealthy, or is fortunate to have some other source of income to support their writing habit, the prospects of being able to afford these outlays of money are, quite frankly, a pipe dream.
There is, of course, another option: one might be able to attract readers by having written something worth reading. Ah, but herein lies the other issue: how can someone know that you have written something worth reading if they do not know about what you have written?
Indeed, that is an excellent question. One which has caused me great pause. In considering the situation, it occurred to me that writing is about the craft, less so about the marketing. Certainly, marketing comes into play, but a good book, a book that people want to read, gets the most promotion, and the best promotion, from the readers who tell others about the book that they have enjoyed reading. It has always been this way and, quite frankly, it always shall be this way.
If you enjoy a book do you tell others about it? Do you post to Facebook, or Twitter about the book you just read? Many people do, and that is the modern-day “word of mouth” marketing that authors rely on so heavily.
Then there is the craft. If a book is well-written, it is more than likely to be read by someone than if a book is poorly crafted. If given the choice between a well-written book with a familiar story or a poorly-written one, with a story that is unfamiliar, which would you choose? You might choose the unfamiliar, but struggling to read through something that has not been well-wrought is, quite frankly, not worth the effort. There are too many things out there that are worth reading, why waste your time with something that still needs the help of a good editor, and several more revisions?
Writing is about craft; it is a craft which must be honed, practiced, and perfected. One of the great advances of the day is the ability for people to have their works published with relative ease, but this is also making it easier for people to crank out things that have not been well-edited, revised, or proofread. As an avid reader, one who enjoys exploring a variety of genres, I have not been afraid to try many untested authors, but the results have quite uneven in the reading experiences, and some, sadly, have been unreadable.
But it comes down, mostly, to the technique of the writer. It also has to do with rushing to publish, and not willing to proofread and revise one’s own work. These are vital steps in the process, and that is precisely what writing is all about: it is a process. Creativity is about process. It is the creative process, from the inception of the idea, the birth of the notion, through its nascent stage as it begins to take shape, and then, after a time, with the proper coaxing and sketching, it is further developed into a full-blown concept, a design, a plot, theme, or character. Whatever it becomes, be it a full-blown novel or a symphony, it begins with a seed and ends with a finished product. You cannot skip the steps within the process.
Writing a novel is a massive undertaking; it is a commitment that takes many months, if not longer, before you are able to begin the process of revising your book, putting it into some semblance of order. When my novel was first finished, it ended up going through another two intense revisions before it was finally submitted to Amazon and Kobo. It is a far better book than what might have been published, but that is the process.
Consider, if you will, the techniques used by the great speechwriters: they are seamless, seemingly effortless, and yet, they form the skeletal structure of what we hear, of what moves us, of what drives us to either vote for a candidate or raise our voices in anger, either for or against something. Through the use of parallel structure, the use of metaphor, the use of rhetoric, and other technical devices, a successful writer creates a structure upon which their words float and their ideas are borne in an effortless manner. A less successful writer creates something that comes across as plodding, regardless of what the presenter may do with the words, if the prose is not well wrought, the words fall flat.
While writing a novel, or a post for a blog for that matter, is not the same as writing a speech, technique is certainly part of the equation, just as it comes to play in the world of composing music. As a composer of contemporary classical music, this is something that speaks to my heart as it has been the main focus of my life for the past twenty-five years. Music is an art of cumulative knowledge: everything you learn, from your first lessons are built on, right through until the present. Everything in music builds upon everything else, which is why we study the great masters to gain an understanding of the music we write today, even if it is not melodic. Music, art, and culture of the past informs the creatives of the present.
Something occurred to me while writing my novel: as music is a cumulative art, so too is writing. Everything that a writer experiences, everything they see, everything they hear, that they touch, all they have experienced, becomes fodder for their work. All of the lessons that they learned pertaining to language and its proper use informs the development of their voice, the way they will express themselves on the page and bring their characters to life for their reader.
A blank page is a challenge to the creative person, to both the composer, the writer, or an artist: it represents an affront to they are as artists. So long as that page, be it a real piece of paper or a screen on the computer, is devoid of words, music, or even a sketch, the task of creating remains unfulfilled. This is why the job of marketing is such a difficult task for creatives: how do you convey in a short ad that you should read the book that is now available on Amazon and Kobo by Peter Amsel? Indeed, how would any marketing campaign successfully convey the true sense of the novel when it is over 148,000 words long? It is, of course, impossible. Suffice it to say, the book is the first in a five-volume Science-Fiction series. The series is called the Felis Alliance Series and the book is entitled Sun Killers.
My invitation is that you visit my website and read a sample from the first chapter of the book. If you enjoy the chapter, you may decide to purchase it through Kobo or through Amazon, for either your Kindle or as a paperback.
Either way, thank you for reading this and, be assured, much more effort, time, and energy, went into the crafting of the novel than went into the writing of this post.
A brief synopsis of Sun Killers appears below the link to the website. A longer preview may be found at the Kobo website, including the Prologue.
Read an excerpt of Sun Killers here.
Book One of the Felis Alliance Series begins with a mystery: the most powerful person in the universe has disappeared without a trace and nobody knows where she has gone. Now it is the responsibility of her three Guardians to locate her and bring her home.
What they do not realize is that there are forces working against them who do not want her to be found, and they will stop at nothing to prevent her from ever returning to the Alliance, even if that means killing everyone on Earth in the process.
Sun Killers takes you from one end of the universe to the other, at speeds beyond the speed of light, but you will never be tired as a result of the journey.
"The pen is mightier than the sword."
That is an old saying, probably know by every writer, as well as a great many others. It comes from the 1839 historical play Cardinal Richelieu and was written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Writer's like to believe that this is true for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it gives many of us hope that things can be changed without having to resort to violence. It is not always necessary to have to resort to the way of the past, to the ways that have led to the horrors of war, in order to settle our disputes.
For this reason, I have selected the name "Writer's Sword" for the blog on this site. When Bordofsky Productions graciously offered me an opportunity to express myself on the site, this seemed like a splendid way of doing it; the first thing that popped to mind was that Bulwer-Lytton quote.
If writer's forget the power of the word, we lose the reason to create. It is that power, the inherent energy contained within the words on the page, that provides writers with the ability to move people with their work. Whether the work is meant to challenge your opinion about a topic and then persuade to another view, educate you about something, or merely entertain, all writing has a mission; writers are entrusted with the delivery of a message using the language with which we communicate.
It is a responsibility that we know should not be taken lightly considering what writers are asking of you, the reader, to invest something that is important to you in order to read our work. We recognize that writing is a collaborative act: we work, for the most part, alone, but once a book is completed it only comes to life once people begin to purchase it and start reading. After that, things begin to happen on an entirely different level. Since my books are being published entirely through the electronic medium, it will be extremely helpful for readers to post reviews to both the Amazon Kindle and KOBO sites, or on Goodreads (coming soon).
Writers are constantly aware of their place in the world, if only because of the fact that the world is filled with the ramifications of the things that happen as a result of the written word. Every law that is passed, every treaty that is signed, every speech that is delivered, at some point, a writer was engaged to put the words on the page. If the words are not quite right, the laws may be overturned by a court, or be impossible to enforce, a treaty might similarly be impossible to enforce, or might never be adopted, and a poorly delivered speech could well end the career of the person delivering it, depending on the circumstances. Writers understand the value of their work, which is why they spend so much time honing their craft in private, outside of the limelight.
Many writers would probably rather spend time alone, working on whatever it is they are writing than mingling with others, exchanging small talk. It isn't that they are anti-social, but rather that they have something else upon which their attention is focused. I like to think about it in terms of being focused on the "big picture" rather than "small talk" ... but that could just be me.
History has shown, repeatedly, the perils of not listening to those who have the pen, of the perils of following a path blazed by those who have failed to read the warnings of those who have been reading the reports passed along to those who have had an opportunity to study the things that might have informed them enough about a situation to avoid the outcome they believed was inevitable. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the loss of many lives, and tremendous suffering around the world. History is something we must study, just as we cannot ignore the world around us, lest we find ourselves walking in circles, repeating the mistakes that led us to our present situation.
As a writer of Science-Fiction I have been striving to create a series that is both fantastic in its setting but also realistic in its concepts and ideas. While many things and ideas are alien, the ideas that are explored in the Felis Alliance Series are, perhaps, far more terrestrial than one might imagine considering that the setting for the books are on the other side of the universe.
Book I of the
Felis Alliance Series
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Peter Amsel is a Canadian author, composer, and human rights activist. His first book, Sun Killers, from the epic Science-Fiction Felis Alliance Series, is now available. He is currently working on the 4th book in the series while the 2nd and 3rd volumes are being prepared for publication.