Archive for December, 2009

Dec 30 2009

Header Change

Published by under Art

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.

I decided to swap out the US flag for a background more recognizable as a writer’s background. Also, I swapped out the red-to-blue title gradient for just blue. I think it’s easier to read. What do you think?



I think that Lash (the black guy) sticks out much more smoothly than he did before.  And the new SUPERHERO NATION title text is significantly cleaner and easier to read.   (My grasp of Photoshop has gotten a bit better; can you see that the new version’s title text is a bit more three-dimensional than the original version?)  However, I think that Gary (the white guy) sticks out less.  Aside from that, I think that the new background is an improvement because it indicates this is a writing website more effectively than the US flag did.

11 responses so far

Dec 26 2009

JMiles’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below. Thanks!

2 responses so far

Dec 26 2009

Differentiate Your Writing or Else: What Kind of Superhero Story Is It?

Published by under Genre,Writing Articles

When you’re laying out your book for agents, publishers and prospective readers, you need to keep in mind what the “default” story in your field is. If you say you’re writing a superhero story, people will assume it is a default superhero story unless you specify otherwise.  Be careful! Default stories will probably be rejected.

  • Audience: 13-30 year old males.
  • Genre: action.
  • Main character: a Peter Parker (student-turned-superhero) or Clark Kent (mostly unconflicted adult)
  • Character voice: none.
  • Interesting events: none.
  • Mood: none.
  • Authorial style: none.

Hopefully you’re thinking to yourself something like the following: “wait, that’s not fair! My story’s not like that!” (If not, I’d REALLY recommend fleshing out your characters and plot events and practicing your writing as much as possible).

Continue Reading »

11 responses so far

Dec 23 2009

JunoDagger’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comment below. Thanks!

5 responses so far

Dec 17 2009

What I’m Reading Today

Building Your Audience

  • Promoting Your Book, Part One and Two–some innovative and mostly free ways to promote your writing.
  • Search Engine Optimization Tips for New Bloggers— this will help you write Google-friendly content, which is helpful if you’re the sort of writer that enjoys having readers.
  • Author’s Guide to Podcasting–this will help you market your writing with online video and audio.
  • Should You Advertise on Facebook?–Therese Walsh talks about her experiences advertising her writing on Facebook. If you’re thinking about ads, I’d recommend checking this out. Personally, I’m a bit skeptical (you only make about $1 in royalties every time you sell a novel, so your advertisements would have to bring in near-guaranteed sales to justify the expense).  I’d have trouble seeing how you could get away with paying less than $.10 per click, so you’d have to sell at least one copy per 10 prospects just to break even.  (Normally, I think 1-2% is typical). I suspect that advertising would probably make more sense for experienced authors with many books to sell.  It increases the potential profit per customer.

Beating Writer’s Block

Miscellaneous Advice on Writing Better

Miscellaneous Advice on Getting Published

  • How to Find an Agent–if you have a manuscript completed and need an agent, I’d highly recommend checking this out.
  • Completing Your Author’s Bio–whether you’re completing an “About the Author” section of your website or preparing a manuscript submission, you’ll probably provide a bio to your readers. Here are some tips.

Advice for First-Time Authors that Want to Self-Publish

  • Don’t. Seriously, that’s probably the best advice you’ll get all day.

Advice for Authors that Want to Self-Publish Anyway

  • Digital Book Formatting for Dummies–you’re not a dummy, but you might benefit from this guide anyway.
  • Designing Your Book–one of the biggest opportunities (or challenges, depending on how you look at it) of self-publishing is that you make your own design choices. Don’t suck.

10 responses so far

Dec 15 2009

Hired Services

  • Basic proofreading. I’ll fix your grammar, spelling and punctuation.  The rate for this ranges from one cent per word for a polished writer to five cents for someone who needs more proofreading help.  If you have fewer than three typos per page, I’d offer you a rate of one cent per word.
  • Query letters and submission letters. When you submit a novel manuscript or comic book script to a publisher, you also need to include a letter explaining your proposal in a persuasive fashion.  Usually this is one page long for a novel and one to two pages long for comic book proposals.  $100 for the first page and $50 for every subsequent page.
  • Header design. I’d have to work out a rate based on what you’d like in your header, but this would probably be around $100-125 for Photoshopped photography and text and $200-300 if you’d like something more cartoony, like our header.
  • Stylistic rewrite. I’ll rewrite a chapter (or chapters) to be more effective.  This is considerably more expensive than simple proofreading.  I’ll quote you a rate after seeing the chapter(s), but probably around 10-15 cents per word.
  • Comic book formatting and proofreading. This ranges from $10 per page for a well-polished script to $20 per page for a script that needs a lot of editing.  If there are fewer than 3 typos per page, I will offer a rate of $10 per page.

A few notes to keep in mind.

  • If the order is more than $100, I’d like half of the total payment upfront and half upon completion to your satisfaction.  If it’s less than $100, I’d like all of it upfront.
  • Most of my past clients have paid with Paypal.  If you have something else in mind, please let me know and we can work that out.
  • I am (ludicrously) American, but I’ve worked with British spelling before.  If you’re trying to get published in Britain, Australia or Canada, I’d be honoured to work with you.

If you’d be interested in working with me, please let me know at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com .  Thanks!

No responses yet

Dec 14 2009

A few tips for writers looking to network online…

Published by under Blogging

There are three main ways your site can get new viewers: referrals (links), search engines, and ads.  I’ll focus on getting referrals here because ads are probably not cost-effective for authors and search engines can have a low payoff. 

1.  Have content worth sharing.  If your material is good and plentiful, spreading it will be a lot easier. 

2.  Make it easy for your users to share your content.  For example, SN gets a free 50-100 readers a day from StumbleUpon, probably because several of our popular articles end with a link asking readers to Stumble SN.  Adding those links only took me about 30 minutes. 

3.  Hit-and-run selflinks don’t really help very much.  If you insert a comments like “See my webpage!” onto people’s sites apropos of nothing, people are just going to scroll past them.  Interact with prospective readers!  Work your website into a conversation where it fits naturally.  For example, if somebody had a question about male characters, linking a story where you did a male protagonist well would feel very natural and helpful.  (Or, if you’re into nonfiction, you might have an article on writing male characters lying around).  Interacting is critical because it gives people a reason to look. 

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Dec 12 2009

Scribblar’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below. Thanks!

16 responses so far

Dec 08 2009

New Category: Origin Stories

Published by under Origin Stories

I realized that I have several articles on origin stories, so I’ve made a new category for them.

No responses yet

Dec 07 2009

Could you do me a favor? Stumble SN!

If you’ve found SN’s advice helpful, please Stumble us!  That will help introduce new readers to SN.  Thanks–I really appreciate your assistance.

No responses yet

Dec 06 2009

An innovative way to fix writer’s block…

A lot of authors (especially me) sit down to type out a story but get distracted by websites a few minutes later.  The conventional solution is  writing with paper-and-pen.  But what if your writing could genuinely benefit from computer access (because of saved drafts, online references and such)?  Try RescueTime, a free program that you can use to block access to distracting websites for a certain amount of time.  For example, if you’ve decided to commit yourself to an hour of writing, do you really need Facebook or email or ESPN or LolCats during that time?  Probably not.  In addition, RescueTime allows you to make the block undoable.  If you decide to check out some LolCats during your hour of writing, too bad!  You’re already locked in for the hour.  Clearly they made this program with me in mind.  😎

Did this article help? Submit us to Stumble!

7 responses so far

Dec 06 2009

Toasty’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below. Thanks!

8 responses so far

Dec 06 2009

Escaping the Slush Pile

The Rejectionist talks some more about reviewing the slush pile, a vast collection of unsolicited query letters explaining why the company should publish the author’s novel.

“After years as a slush reader in various aspects of the industry, I am quick to recognize and dispatch; I can often tell within the first sentence if a query will be any good, and I am now so ruthlessly efficient that I can blow through an inbox of 50 e-mails in half an hour, sometimes rejecting submissions within moments of their arrival…

Rendered in a labyrinthine and frequently unintelligible grammar, the truly awful query is often notable for its length, its torrid verbosity, and the mechanical specificity of its sex scenes, which tend to read like appliance-repair manuals in their exhaustive and emotionless depictions of moving parts. The bad query’s sentence sometimes resembles a battlefield wherein subjects hack it out desperately with adjectives, perennially besieged by legions of unwieldy adverbs. Apostrophes go on suicide missions and commas appear at random. Formatting tends to be interpretive; it is not uncommon to find e-mails that are 50 pages long, are bright pink, contain pictures of the author on vacation, or are written in Papyrus.”

I think that every prospective author should know about the process through which his work will be evaluated, whether he’s writing about superheroes or space slugs.  However, please don’t let exotic failure stories and the generally unforgiving nature of the business scare you away.  Here are a few brief rules of thumb to keep your query letter on track.

1. You are writing a business letter to a skeptical, time-strapped professional.  For more thoughts about communicating with them, see this.

2. Your goal is to convince him or her that your book is awesome enough to sell thousands of copies.

3. They’ve heard every possible variation of “I’ve just written an awesome book” and rejected at least 99% of them. Telling them your book is awesome is not good enough.  You need THEM to decide the book sounds awesome.  Show, don’t tell.  Lay out your plot in a way that they want to keep reading.  “John Lee is a detective investigating a murder” sounds cliche and boring. “John Lee is a poisoned detective that has two days to solve his own murder” sounds a lot more interesting.  Give enough information to intrigue them.

4. Different publishers have different tastes.  Make sure you submit to publishers that are well-suited to your manuscript.

No responses yet

Dec 05 2009


Published by under Twilight

Someone got to this website today by Googling “how could anybody hate Twilight?”  Indeed!  How could anyone could hate books about vampires that are so hot they sparkle and female protagonists that are as helpless as they are flaky?  If you need more help resolving this mystery, please see this and this.

28 responses so far

Dec 03 2009

A resume a day keeps the repo man away

I’m applying for a job a day for two weeks.  So far, I’ve gotten an offer I’m considering.  And a bait-and-switch scam.  I forgot the cardinal rule of writing: any writing job that pays more than $10 an hour is a lie.  (I’m exaggerating, but not much).

11 responses so far

Dec 01 2009

Ideas for future articles…

Published by under Webcomic

I think I’ll do some articles on webcomics. That’d be neat for a change of pace. Can you think of anything else that might be interesting? (Ideally related to writing and/or superheroes).

9 responses so far