Archive for March, 2009

Mar 31 2009

How to grow a small blog

Published by under Blogging

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Hi.  If you’ve followed some of my articles on blogging, you know that building an audience is a gradual (read: slow) process.  It takes time for people to discover your content, to link to it, to mention it to other people, etc.

As a result, you will probably have very few readers during the first few months.  But that’s not a problem.  Focus on these issues and the readers will come in time.

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61 responses so far

Mar 31 2009

A Villainous Forum

If you have any questions about villains or villainy, please ask them here.  Here are some sample questions to get you thinking.  (If you’d like to use these, go ahead).

  • Is my plot any good?  How could I improve it?
  • How can my villain challenge my hero?
  • How can I make my villain more stylish?
  • Should the villain’s origin story be related to the hero’s?
  • Is my villain too corny?

43 responses so far

Mar 31 2009

Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing a Comic Book

Robert Scott has an amusing and informative horror story here.

To summarize:

  • He and his artist weren’t working on the same schedule. Make sure that your artist will be to produce quickly enough to meet your deadlines.
  • “Had I put more thought into it, been a responsible business person, I would have never solicited [a distributor] without all of the books being drawn.   If I had done that, I could have died and the books still could have shipped on time!”
  • Planning your story ahead will help you keep production moving at a speedy clip.
  • Missing deadlines screws over a long chain of people, but no one gets screwed as much as you.

One response so far

Mar 30 2009

A Few Problems with Print-on-Demand

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have an interesting article on some of the problems with POD self-publishing.  In summary…

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3 responses so far

Mar 29 2009

Our Performance for March 2009

It’s been our most successful month so far.

  • Most importantly, we completed the first draft of our nonfiction query.  We are almost ready to start pitching to agents.
  • We had 15,000 visitors, about 500 a day.  In contrast, we only had 350 visitors per day in February.  A 40% growth rate is pretty impressive.  We can’t sustain that rate of growth, but if we could, we’d be up to 10,000 visitors each day by December.
  • Our readers spent a combined 1310 hours here.  That’s 65% higher than our previous record.
  • We doubled our amount of review forums.

2 responses so far

Mar 29 2009

Is teleportation overpowered?

What do you think?  Is it hard to challenge a character that can teleport?

50 responses so far

Mar 29 2009

I’ve discovered the worst fanfiction in the world

Published by under Uncategorized

I know that’s a bold claim, but I dare you to top this.

22 responses so far

Mar 27 2009

What is a query? How do I write one?

Novelists write a query to convince a literary agent or publisher that…

  • The book’s concept is exciting and well-designed.  If they don’t like the concept, they won’t read the sample chapters.
  • The book is marketable and could find an audience.
  • The book has some sort of advantage or angle that will allow it to compete with similar books.  Why will readers pick up this novel instead of a competing title?

The formatting depends on which literary agency or publisher you’re submitting to, but usually it will feature the following sections:

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26 responses so far

Mar 26 2009

Do you have any grammatical or formatting questions?

If you have any questions about formatting a comic book script or novel manuscript, or any questions about grammar/punctuation/capitalization, please post them here.

20 responses so far

Mar 25 2009

How to Select Successful Moderators

Published by under Technical Advice

Here are some tips for webmasters that want to add moderators.

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7 responses so far

Mar 25 2009

Impending Arrivals and Departures

  1. We’ve resolved most of the technical issues about volunteer moderators and we will begin inducting them on Friday.   The volunteer mods will have enhanced HTML access and comment-editing powers from the very beginning.  We’re still working on providing access to our comment search-engine.
  2. I will be leaving within a week or so.  I hope it’s been as fun and rewarding for you as it has been for me.

10 responses so far

Mar 25 2009

Novel-Writing Tip of the Day: Be Careful with Sequels

When a first-time novelist says that he’s writing the first book in a series, that’s usually code for “I’m not going to resolve anything.”

For example, the story builds up to a “climactic” battle that doesn’t actually vanquish the villain. The main sidegoal is to get the girl, but the hero doesn’t manage to accomplish that, either. After reading hundreds of pages, your audience will want some resolution.  If your novel can best be summarized as “to be continued,” then what’s the point?

Here are some better ways to set up sequels.

  1. The hero achieves his initial goal, but the problem is more complicated than he had believed.   For example, we are set up to believe that John is the main villain.  Over the course of 300 pages, the hero struggles against him and narrowly defeats him.  At the very end, though, we learn that he was only a lieutenant to the true mastermind.  This gives us some resolution because the hero has accomplished what he set out to do.
  2. The hero achieves his goal in a standalone novel, but unanticipated complications arise in a later work.  In the first novel, the hero defeats the villain and woos the heroine.  The end of the first novel will feel satisfying because it appears to have resolved the underlying problems.   The characters live happily ever after… well, not quite.  Your next novel skips forward a few months and reveals that the hero is quite unhappily married and that the villain from last time left a nasty surprise. This sort of sequel is easiest to write if you give yourself some minor loose ends to pick up later.

94 responses so far

Mar 24 2009

A Friendly Reminder for Self-Publishing Comic Book Writers

Grant proposals for the Xeric Foundation have to be postmarked by March 31. Xeric helps underwrite some of the cost of self-publishing.  Self-publishing is highly dangerous, especially for new authors, but grants like these can help minimize your financial liabilities if the project flops.  If you’re interested in applying for a grant, please let me know if I can provide any advice with the proposal.

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No responses yet

Mar 24 2009

Tips for Writers That Want to Blog

Over two years, several hundred thousand page-views and 750 posts, I’ve accumulated some thoughts on what makes a blog successful.

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70 responses so far

Mar 22 2009

Why Self-Publishing Might Be Appropriate For You

Last week, I discussed why self-publishing is an awful idea for young writers.  Here are some of the reasons that self-publishing might make sense for you.

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No responses yet

Mar 22 2009

E-Books and the Future of Publishing

Slate’s Jacob Weisberg argues that the Kindle will totally reshape the publishing industry.  Not likely.

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26 responses so far

Mar 22 2009

I’m really happy

Published by under Literary Agents

My query letter to literary agents is coming along really well!  This is the first major writing success I’ve had in the last month.

8 responses so far

Mar 21 2009

Visual Design Question: the “I Beat B. Mac” t-shirt

I’m planning for the contingency that someone beats me in our proofreading contest next month.   So I need to design the t-shirt that I might give out.  My original plan was to just give out a generic Superhero Nation t-shirt, but I’d like to design a separate “I Beat B. Mac” t-shirt.

On the front, I think it will have something like a Che Guevara-esque drawing of me with the caption “I Beat a Professional Proofreader And and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt.”  That’s kind of cliche, so hopefully one of you can suggest something more stylish.

There will be text on the back.  For example, something like “What are you waiting for?  Beat B. Mac and win this shirt on  SUPERHERONATION.COM”

5 responses so far

Mar 21 2009

Site Update: Behind the Scenes at SN

If you look at the top of the site, you’ll find a link that says Behind the Scenes at SN.  Here are a few of the things we’ll cover there:

  • How to join our volunteer staff
  • Details for our staffers
  • Our statistics

One response so far

Mar 20 2009

Some Random Thoughts from B. Mac

  • Notre Dame just announced that the President is doing our commencement speech this year.  I’ve always been opposed to the idea of commencements and do not plan to attend mine, regardless of the speaker.  This announcement merely makes it absolutely certain that my absence will cause my parents to flip out.  They’re still sore that I successfully missed my high school commencement, even though I had a valid excuse then.
  • In other Notre Dame news, the police busted my St. Patrick’s Day party.  Very exciting.
  • Over these past three days, we’ve been averaging 1000 visitors per day.  That’s about three times as many as normal.

16 responses so far

Mar 19 2009

Wings’ Second Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

A mysterious mercenary working for heroes and villains with a grudge against both, an uptight heroine with a clean-cut worldview, a useless engagement ring, and photokinesis, her leaderless superhero team, and a supervillain mastermind systematically slaughtering heroes. This is a destruction of superheroes and the world in which they live, from child sidekicks to flamboyant costumes, blended with a dash of darkness and a good helping of sarcasm. Other works discussed in this forum include Hunter’s Abomination, about a so-called utopia and the men and monsters who call it home; Twisted Fantasy, a blend of video game homage, RPG cliche deconstruction, and a fantastic quest; and Strawberries and the Meaning of Life, a postapocalyptic love story about a hot-tempered boy searching for something he doesn’t understand, a hermit with a taste for riddles and impossible fruit, and a lonely girl from a city which has never touched the ground.

214 responses so far

Mar 19 2009

Kynnaston’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

32 responses so far

Mar 18 2009

We’re looking for volunteer moderators

Published by under Superhero Nation

Hello.  In the last week, we’ve had about 650 comments.  Currently, Cadet Davis and I do basic proofreading on each one.  That’s a lot of work!  As a result, we’d like to begin taking on volunteer moderators/proofreaders. If you might be interested, please read on.

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34 responses so far

Mar 18 2009

Beat a Professional Proofreader!

Hello.  I have an exciting new game for the grammatically inclined.  Compete with B. Mac in a proofreading contest.  Those that can score 80% as many points as BM will be eligible for a volunteer moderator position.  Those that score more points than B. Mac will also receive a free Superhero Nation t-shirt.  (I’m judging the contest, but I’ll be fair).  If you’d like to compete, please download the following document and email your completed version to superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.  The contest ends on March 27!

60 responses so far

Mar 18 2009

Andy.C’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

I’m working on four ideas at the moment.

Unreadable: This is a story of a person stuck in the comic book world, actually thinking of exploring cliches and making fun of them, don’t think I’ll reveal why he’s there though hints and to several versions of why he might be in it will be present.

New Arc Homicide: This is a standard fantasy world that evolved to a 1950′s setting as in a world with magic, elves, dwarfs etc but rather than a typical and overdone medieval setting, it’s set in the 50′s. As you may have guessed, it’s a detective/cop story, only in this reality they’re called knights not cops. Arc, by the way, is short for “arcane.”

Agents of S.E.C.R.E.T: This is sort of an homage to tv shows where agents have powers, like the The Invisible Man, Chuck, etc. Here, agents from various agencies that have powers are turned into a team.

Scythe: The embodiment of Death is murdered.  Because the world needs balance, Death’s powers, in the form of his Scythe, are brought down to earth. Someone touches it and becomes Death. He needs to figure out which of the other immortal beings killed him and why. The other immortals are God (creation) and Lucifer (death), Time and Life.

The Villain Wins: This story starts with a villain telling the reader about how the ultimate goal of villains is the destruction of the hero. During this explanation, a news report is shown of a hero getting defeated by a villain that is telling all this. Then zoom out from the report to show the villain tied up and watching the report, saying “The problem is, that’s not me.” That sets up the story: every hero wants revenge on him and he has to figure out who the hell set him up.

40 responses so far

Mar 17 2009

Would you like to have an extra review forum?

Published by under Review Forums

Would it be helpful if we offered authors the ability to take more than one review forum so that they could pursue more than one story? If we started offering multiple review forums, would anyone be interested?

36 responses so far

Mar 16 2009

Congress, the Comedic Gift that Keeps on Giving

Published by under I'm not making this up

This paragraph appeared in a Washington Post article about a miserably incompetent bank giving hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses: “The rhetoric grew so heated yesterday that Sen. Charles E. Grassley suggested in a radio interview that AIG executives ought to ‘follow the Japanese model… resign, or go commit suicide.’ An aide later explained he does not actually want executives to kill themselves.” Good to know!

21 responses so far

Mar 16 2009

Avi’s Second Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Synopsis:  I’m mainly working on a superhero action comedy. The story is about a superhero trying to find the origin of his own superpowers.

Genre: Supernatural, Comedy, Drama.

Target Audience: young adults (12-18).  Contains fantasy violence, mild language, rude humor.

Preferred Reviewing Style: Please be honest. I don’t mind rude comments too, so tell me whatever you want to tell.

51 responses so far

Mar 16 2009

Cover Comparison for Savior 28

Check out these alternate covers for Savior 28. I’d like to know what you think.

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4 responses so far

Mar 15 2009

Marissa’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

133 responses so far

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