Archive for March, 2009

Mar 14 2009

Fitz’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

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.

See the comments below.  Thanks.

6 responses so far

Mar 13 2009

Developing a Loyal Audience

Here are some brief tips for stimulating visitor loyalty on your site.

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4 responses so far

Mar 13 2009

Some Advice for Novelists Seeking Agents

Unfortunately, many literary agents are dishonest and/or incompetent.  Here are some tips to help you select an agent that knows what he’s doing.

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No responses yet

Mar 13 2009

Gurion Omega’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See the comments below.

23 responses so far

Mar 13 2009

Site Tweak of the Week

Site titles play an important role in search engine optimization.  A site named “Superhero Nation: a writing advice site” has a much better chance to place for a search like superhero writing advice than a site named just “Superhero Nation.”  Site titles also helps draw people into your website by explaining what viewers will get out of your website.

For example, check out how a typical search for Superhero Nation appears on Google.  The site name plays more prominently than the name of the article does.

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2 responses so far

Mar 13 2009

Asaya’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See the comments below.

77 responses so far

Mar 13 2009

One of the Advantages of Getting a Literary Agent

Good literary agents only accept manuscripts with some potential, so having a good literary agent suggests to publisher that the work is worth looking at more closely.

According to Kris Waldherr

“Of the hundreds (maybe thousand plus) of manuscripts I read during a six month period, only about 2% went onto consideration by an acquiring editor. None of them were acquired. This suggests why so many publishers have stopped reading manuscripts not submitted to them by agents or colleagues. Bottom line: reading unsolicited submissions is simply not cost effective.”

4 responses so far

Mar 12 2009

Avi’s Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Blurb

It only takes a few people to start a global war for power:  a criminal mastermind who develops inhuman abilities, an alcoholic who transforms into a monster, a spirit who can possess any human and a mysterious serial killer who steals people’s energy.

What? – Supernatural thriller. Contains intense violence and dark elements.

Who? – Recommended for mature readers.

How? – Give me tough advice. I can take anything!

What’s it like? – Nothing else, at least nothing I’ve ever read.

27 responses so far

Mar 12 2009

Estimating self-publishing costs: cover design and editing

Published by under Self-Publishing

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, particularly print-on-demand, please check out this estimate of some of your startup costs.

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8 responses so far

Mar 12 2009

Server Glitch!

Published by under Mea Culpa

It looks like Slicehost went down for a few hours and we went offline from about 4-7 am EST.  I apologize.

One response so far

Mar 11 2009

I hope this is a spoof

Published by under Comedy

(It is).

13 responses so far

Mar 11 2009

Stefan’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

What I’m writing: Either a comic book or a novel (I haven’t decided yet) about a team of superheroes known as the Lords of the Impossible. They are the world’s greatest heroes and they have to save the day when the world goes to hell. At the same time they come into conflict with another superteam over issues like morality. Is it  alright to kill supervillains?

My target audience: Fans of comic books or people with new interest in comic books or superheroes, aged 16-25.

How thick is my skin?: I’m happy to hear all comments about my work, good and bad, so spare nothing.

48 responses so far

Mar 10 2009

Wade’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See the comments below.

27 responses so far

Mar 10 2009

Harvard and Texas

Published by under Comedy

A Harvard professor and a Texan start talking at a bar.  The Texan asks “Where ya from?”  The Harvard professor says “Where I come from, we don’t end our sentences with prepositions.”  The Texan asks “Where ya from, jackass?”

10 responses so far

Mar 10 2009

Dr Eagle G’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See comments below.

22 responses so far

Mar 09 2009

An Introduction to Thirty Comic Book Publishers

These are some of the biggest comic book companies.  Knowing which publishers are geared towards your style of writing or art will help you decide which publishers to apply to. (Please note that I tried to stay away from publishers that do not accept unsolicited queries, like Marvel and DC Comics).

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19 responses so far

Mar 08 2009

Writing Tip of the Day: Pick Your Publishers Carefully

This should be pretty obvious, but unfortunately it isn’t.  When you submit a novel manuscript or a comic book script, pick your prospective publishers carefully.  Make sure you submit it to publishers that actually work with stories that have a lot in common with your story.

  1. Audience (age and gender)
  2. Genre and content
  3. Style/mood
  4. Setting (real-world Earth vs. historical vs. the future vs. a Tolkien-like fantasy world)
  5. Length, for books (length usually goes hand-in-hand with the age of the audience)
  6. Art style, for comic books (dark and gritty vs. Western cartoons vs. anime/manga, for example)

Prospective publishers love it when authors put some thought into this.  If your query clearly shows that you have looked into which publishers will be the best fit for your book, you will look professional and competent.  A good place to start is looking up 5 or 10 comparable works on Amazon.  Where did they get published?  For comic books, which editors signed on?  That should give you a few publishers to look into.

I’ll use a very particular example to show how easy this is.  For example, right now I’m looking for publishers that would be interested in a guide for how to write superhero novels and comic books.  It’s aimed at teens.  Many publishers have printed books for kids that want to write, so finding apt publishers shouldn’t be a problem.  I’d also like to look at publishers that have printed guides about writing comic books.  

After 30 minutes on Amazon, I found ~10 works that seemed comparable at first glance.  Let’s look at why these works might or might not suggest that their publisher would be interested in mine…

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2 responses so far

Mar 07 2009

Why First-Time Authors Shouldn’t Even Consider Self-Publishing

This is pretty much the most obvious writing advice I can think of. If this is your first novel or comic book, don’t self-publish unless you can afford for the project to completely flop.

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79 responses so far

Mar 06 2009

Calling All Dramatists and Poets…

I have a very unusual request.  If you’ve followed the webcomic very closely, you might remember that Agent Orange is a really bad author.  However, he’s even worse at poetry and plays.  During a scene I’m working on, Agent Orange uses his poetry (or playwrighting) to torture a confession out of a criminal.  However, I’ve never really gotten into poetry, so it’s hard for me to simulate truly, spectacularly awful poetry (or plays).  Would you like to take a go?  I’ll probably only need 5-7 lines.

9 responses so far

Mar 06 2009

Free Comic Book Scripting Software

Celtx is a free scripting program that is designed for comic books (among other types of scripts).  I find it very useful.

THE EXCELLENT

  • It produces scripts that are generally easier to read and navigate than Microsoft Word.
  • Easy to learn.  It took me 10 minutes to figure it out by trial and error.
  • It’s extremely good at converting scripts into typeset.  (You can see an example here).  A typeset separates the in-panel text (like dialogue, captions and sound effects) from the text that won’t actually appear in the panel, like your directions to the artist.  That’s useful because it helps you gauge how large the panels will have to be to accommodate the text.
  • It’s free!

THE GOOD

  • Handles comments notably better than Word.
  • It’ll help you keep your comic book documents separate from your other files.
  • If you like to fill out index cards with important details about characters or places, it can help keep those details accessible and organized.
  • Built-in spellchecker.  Not that important for a professional proofreader, but you might find it helpful.

THE BAD

  • It’s not as easy to add dialogue as new pages or panels.
  • They should add buttons for New Panel and New Page.
  • It can’t save scripts as Word files.  Everybody (like friends and editors) is comfortable with Word.  Right now, if I have a Celtx script that I want to show you, I have to also tell you how to download Celtx and pray that you figure out the software quickly.

One last note. I haven’t had a chance to test its printing capabilities yet.  Given that Celtx can’t produce Word files (as far as I know), its ability to print usable scripts is essential.

30 responses so far

Mar 06 2009

The NYT starts compiling graphic novel sales

The New York Times has started compiling weekly best-seller lists for graphic novels (err, “graphic books”) in hardcover, paperback and manga.  (Hat-tip to the Comics Reporter). The NYT argues that “comics have finally entered the mainstream.”  Possibly.

1.  I agree that superhero stories are mainstream.  Many superhero movies and TV shows have been broadly successful.

2.  But comic books and graphic novels are not mainstream.  Primarily, that’s because they’re sold mostly in specialty stores rather than general-interest stores like supermarkets and newsstands.  These specialty stores usually strike me as kind of creepy and may well scare away low-interest fans.  Moving back into supermarkets probably isn’t feasible for the typical comic book series, but it encourages me that comic books are increasingly sold online.

[B. Mac adds: Is the endorsement of the NYT a good thing for comics?  The NYT has a soft spot for businesses that are not actually economically viable, such as solar power, US car companies, and itself.]

2 responses so far

Mar 06 2009

Which superhero-related sites do you like best?

For superhero comedy, I’m a fan of the International Society of Supervillains and Evil, Inc.

I’ve come across a few interesting comic book review sites, but I haven’t had nearly as much success finding sites for people that want to write comic books.  Except for Superhero Nation, the closest thing I’ve found is Twelve Fingers.  For example, I found 10 Writing Tips for Comic Book Writers very informative.  However, TF is hard to navigate.

So, which websites would you recommend?

6 responses so far

Mar 05 2009

Experimental Panel Layouts

The typical comic book page is a grid of panels. That’s fine, but it can get boring. This article will help you play around with your panel layout. Your pages don’t all have to look like this.

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63 responses so far

Mar 04 2009

Hi! I have a delicate question…

Hello! An acquaintance recently attempted suicide and, umm, I really feel that I should wish him well and offer whatever help I can, probably class help because that’s what I know how to do. We’re in the middle of midterms, so I would imagine that academic pressure is probably involved. I have a few concerns, though.

  1. I don’t want him to feel like people only care about him because he attempted suicide. (I mean, I run a website designed to help young adults write, so hopefully it’s easy to approach me for academic help).
  2. I don’t want to make him feel guilty or be the hundredth person to remind him about something he probably regrets.

Any thoughts about how to encourage him tactfully?

12 responses so far

Mar 03 2009

5,000 comments!

Today we received our five-thousandth comment.  Incidentally, today we also received our fifteen-thousandth piece of spam.  According to Google Analytics, we’ve only had 65 Russian readers but somehow about a third of our spam is in Russian.  Assuming that all of the Russian-language spam came from a Russian user, that would be an impressive 75 messages per user.

No responses yet

Mar 02 2009

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Published by under Writing Articles

The synopsis is the most important part of a novel proposal. If the synopsis looks bad, the editor will toss the proposal without even looking at the chapters.

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23 responses so far

Mar 01 2009

A brief thought on success

There are two kinds of successful worker:  entrepreneurs that start their own projects, and professionals that the entrepreneurs trust enough to bring onto those projects.

1. Did you start any big projects this past year, like trying to write a novel or comic book?  Did you succeed?  Why or why not?  What project could you start this year?

2. Have you cultivated any relationships with the sort of people that are likely to help you be successful? For example, if you want to become a writer, developing a relationship with professional writers, editors and/or literary agents is wise.  (“Hey, B. Mac.  This chapter doesn’t feel like it’s working.  Could you give me some suggestions?”) If you want to write comic books, you’ll probably also benefit from friends that are talented artists.  Even if your networking is as rudimentary as making a few contacts through an art-site like DeviantArt, that’s a good start. Even if you don’t end up hiring them to be your artist, they can still provide valuable feedback. (“This page doesn’t look right. Any suggestions?”)

3. Have you cultivated any relationships with the people that are likely to start projects you’d like to work on?

No responses yet

Mar 01 2009

Yogi’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Check the comments below.

55 responses so far

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