Volume 1, Issue 2
Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, as well as share inspirational stories from my personal life.
This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.
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In This Issue
- Status: The Void War:Invasion
- Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 1
- Marketing: Back Cover Copy
- Publishing: Print-On-Demand
- Inspiration: In The Name of The Son
1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
I am currently in the middle of revising Chapter 4. The editing process is going well and I expect to have the revision of this chapter complete before it is scheduled to be released to my beta readers on April 28, 2014. The book is holding steady at 92,000 words.
One of my beta readers pointed out that in my last issue of this blog that I failed to explain what my novel was about. I guess I just assumed that everyone reading this would already know. Of course, we all know what we do when we assume something.
You can always read about my novels on my website by going to this page: http://author.leeherbst.com/?page_id=23. However, to make it easier I am including the current version of the back cover copy for the book below. I encourage all of you to visit my website and leave a comment about the current back cover copy. It is a critical component of marketing a book and all constructive criticism is welcome.
The ancient, warlike K’Luth Empire has ravaged the resources of their small dwarf galaxy and is forced to seek a way across the void to the neighboring spiral galaxy or face extinction. With newly developed technology, Admiral Miam is tasked to prepare an invasion force that will cross over to save the Empire.
Hunter, a washed-up thirty-something fighter pilot, is seeking his fortune mining the asteroid belt of a remote human colony when his life is suddenly interrupted by the K’Luth invasion. He and Marna, a commodities broker, are unwillingly swept up into the new war with surprising consequences. The ever self-reliant Hunter learns there is more to faith than his own skills and money.
The Void War:Invasion is the first volume of an epic science fiction trilogy that brings back the bug-eyed monsters of the genre’s past and mixes in an emotional roller coaster of conversion and faith.
2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 1
Did you know that fiction has a specific structure? Beyond the obvious structure of chapters, a novel is made up of scenes; each chapter consists of one or more scenes. Each scene is composed of a specific sequence of elements: goal, conflict, disaster, reaction, dilemma, and decision.
The goal sets the scene by providing the current goal of the point of view character. It can be as simple as the character needing to meet their spouse at a restaurant in thirty minutes or as complex as diffusing a doomsday device that is set to destroy an entire world.
Here is an example from my book, The Void War: Invasion. It is the goal for scene two from chapter 1:
The last vestiges of light were quickly fading as the sun slipped below the horizon and the thin clouds above seem to fade into nothingness. Belaria had no moon and the sparse number of stars in the night sky would be of no help. The slope was near vertical above the ledge, consisting mostly of hard rock; cracked and weathered.
Glancing over the ledge, with what little light remained, Miam estimated he had climbed past the half-way point. He would have to make the rest of the climb in darkness, relying only on his antennae and his failing strength. He walked along the ledge testing the rock above at various points. It was strong and not brittle; he just hoped he had enough strength left.
So, what do we know from the goal? We know it is getting dark, Miam is half-way up a mountain, and he is going to have to finish the climb in that darkness. We also know that Maim’s strength is failing which foreshadows the conflict he will face in the next part of the scene.
“But wait,” you may say, “where’s the motivation? Why is he climbing this mountain?” Well, I chose this scene to point out that all goals need motivation, or why else would the character be doing it. However, the motivation does not need to be included in the goal element itself. In this case, the motivation was provided in the first scene. <WARNING: Blatant self-promotion coming.>I guess you will have to read the book when it comes out to find out why he is climbing the mountain.
In the next issue I will discuss conflict.
3. Marketing: Back Cover Copy
The back cover copy, or the stuff written on the back cover of the book, is the second most important part of the novel as far as marketing is concerned. Most buyers are first attracted to the book by its cover. Once they pick it up, they usually flip it over and read the back cover. Most buying decisions are made at that point. If the back cover copy sounds interesting to the customer, then they buy it; if not, back on the shelf it goes.
Writing the back cover copy is also one of the most difficult parts of writing a novel. The author must explain the story in a few short paragraphs without giving anything away and at the same time entice the customer to buy the book. That is why a lot of authors actually hire copy writers to produce the back cover copy instead of writing it themselves.
I can’t afford to hire anyone to do this for me, so I am writing it myself. So, as I stated at the top, any constructive criticism of my back cover copy will be greatly appreciated.
4. Publishing: Print-On-Demand
In the past, many indie authors took their novels straight to e-book venues without ever considering printed copies, even though they knew they were excluding a large group of readers that don’t read electronic books. The expense of printing books is high and it was the author’s responsibility to sell them. The risk was too high for most authors.
Today, many publishers that cater to indie authors provide a service called print-on-demand. Print-on-demand starts when a customer places an order for the paperback on the retailer website, the publisher then prints a copy and ships the book to the customer; no investment by the author and no risk to the publisher. The retailer and publisher get their share of the sale price and what is left over is the author’s royalty.
How much does the author get? Depending on the publisher’s fee structure, the author usually receives between 15-30% per copy sold. For comparison, e-book royalty rates are closer to 70%. However, indie e-books are generally much cheaper than the paperback, so the actual dollar amount received is generally similar between the two formats.
5. Inspiration: In The Name of The Son
Who is Jesus Christ? God? A Man? The Son of the Father? The Mesiah? Our Lord and Savior? Jesus has many names, but who is he really? If I had one word to describe Jesus, it would be love. Jesus’ entire ministry was centered on that one word. He lived love, he taught love, he asked us to love, and he committed the greatest sacrifice of love possible when he died for all of us.
Jesus asks us to love ourselves, our family, our neighbors, and even our enemies. He asks us to simply live a life of love; love everyone. Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone lived a life of love. No starvation, no crime, no war, only peace and joy everywhere. It would literally be heaven on earth.
Unfortunately, we are human and sometimes we love things more than people. This is the source of all sorrow in the world. War begins because of a love of a thing; land, power, or even an intangible concept born out of hate. Can you imagine a world without love? If so, then you would know what hell is like.
Jesus loves us perfectly. I don’t think any of us can truly understand His perfect love for us, but as a father, I think I am blessed to see a small glimpse of what that love is like. When I think of how much Jesus loves me, I just think of the far from perfect love I have for my wife and children and I get a small taste and a bit of understanding of Jesus’ love for me. You can do the same; just think of your own loved ones.
So, who is Jesus? It’s simple. Jesus is love. It truly is an awesome feeling to know that you are loved. I just wished that everyone was willing to experience the love of Jesus and live that love; heaven on earth. Someday, Jesus’ promise will be fulfilled and we’ll have heaven on earth; nothing but love.