Archive for the 'Research and Resources' Category

Dec 17 2009

What I’m Reading Today

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.

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

Nov 27 2009

Marvel and DC don’t read unsolicited scripts– who does?

Optimum Wound has a very useful list of comic book publishers that are accepting unsolicited submissionsMarvel and DC do not accept unsolicited scripts.  (If you’re dead-set on starting out with them anyway, I’d recommend getting a job with them in some other capacity, like editing or sales, and then moving laterally).

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Nov 26 2009

What every novelist should know about the publishing industry

This Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for Seth Godin’s advice for authors and Mark Hurst’s secrets of publishing.  These aren’t designed with comic book writers in mind, but a lot of the information is useful for them as well.  (If you’re interested in writing comic books, please read my comment below— I picked out a few details that I think are particularly useful for the comic book industry). 

(Also, outside of the realm of publishing, I’m also very grateful for Air Force Materiel Command in particular, because logistics is never as sexy as dropping the bombs but at least as important).

One response so far

Nov 01 2009

The Surrealist Compliment Generator

Published by under Research and Resources

Hilariously awkward?  An informative exercise in voice?  See for yourself

  • You are as effective as a linear geometry based upon the Maginot Line.
  • In your absence I will find other forms of praise. 
  • I do sense that your basement is made of skin and never lacks for nurses. 
  • You have been blessed with the egregious qualities of a duffle-bag in His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
  • As the bile slowly rises in my incandescent eluxulator, your mere presence has a calming effect upon my rabies.

2 responses so far

Oct 31 2009

November 1 Links

3 responses so far

Oct 23 2009

EA’s Best Advice

I find Editorial Ass to be very informative. She’s a “recovering publishing assistant.”  Heh. 

2 responses so far

Oct 18 2009

What happens when you get published?

Redlines and Deadlines describes what happens when an unpublished novelist sign the dotted line.  The work is just beginning… but, then again, so is the pay!

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Oct 17 2009

A useful guide to plotting

Published by under Research and Resources

The writing website LegendFire has a plotting guide that I found very useful.

3 responses so far

Oct 14 2009

Criminal Mindsets

Published by under Research and Resources

This CNN interview with two Colombian hitmen is pretty illuminating. If you’re writing about any hardened criminals (or supervillains), I’d recommend checking it out.

5 responses so far

Oct 03 2009

Highlights from our Blogroll

Published by under Research and Resources

Hello!  Here are some of my favorite posts from the bloggers on my radar screen…

The Creative Penn

Continue Reading »

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Aug 14 2009

Only 10% of novels clear their advances?

That’s what Agent Kristin says.  Clearing the advance is the point at which a novel sells well enough that the total royalties exceed the advance.

9 responses so far

Aug 09 2009

Please help me complete a glossary of writer’s terms!

The Turkey City Lexicon is a great resource for writers that want to understand reviewing jargon.  I’d like to come up with something similar for this site, which has a slightly different jargon.  Have you read any terms here that you weren’t familiar with?  (Or that you think a typical prospective writer wouldn’t be familiar with?)  Which terms?  I’d really appreciate if you could point out any to me in a comment.

Here are some that occurred to me…

Continue Reading »

5 responses so far

May 22 2009

Useful Publishing Blogs

Published by under Research and Resources

  • Query Shark: Condensing a 300 page novel into an intriguing page is difficult, but this site provides excellent advice about how to write queries effectively.
  • Pub Rants.  The author of this site is friendly and patient.  That’s a refreshing change of pace for the publishing industry.
  • Evil Editor.  This is maybe a bit more humorous than helpful, but it’s quite entertaining.  Written by the author of Why You Don’t Get Published.

3 responses so far

Apr 19 2009

Making the Rounds on StumbleUpon

  • Cliche Finder is an interesting resource that will help writers that rely on puns.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation has valuable information about fair use and copyright law here.
  • How Readers Read on the Web.  This article will help you format online content more effectively.  I agree with its conclusion that “promotional language imposes a cognitive burden on users who have to… filter out the hyperbole to get at the facts.”  However, it handles the issue of bolded text poorly.  Bolding should be used very sparingly.

5 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.


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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

Jan 16 2009

Writing a comic book script? Check this out…

This comic book artist gives writers a few suggestions about how to lay out the story.  I found it very useful.

3 responses so far

Dec 15 2008

Writing Music of the Day

Published by under Music for Writing

This is a piano performance of The Corridors of Time.

No responses yet

Dec 07 2008

Common Gun-Related Errors for Authors

This article lists a few tricky points related to writing about guns. I think its list is pretty good…

Continue Reading »

12 responses so far

Dec 07 2008

How to Storyboard a Comic Book

I found this article on storyboarding comic books very useful.

UPDATE: This article describes some of the terminology in laying out comic book pages.

17 responses so far

Nov 26 2008

“How to Be Edited”

This article offers strong advice on how to use criticism effectively. To summarize:

  • Positive advice from friends and loved ones cannot be taken seriously.
  • Some reviewers will offer inane and ridiculous advice.  But if reviewers keep offering advice that sounds ridiculous, the problem may lie more with your writing than your readers.
  • When are you done editing?  Use the Ten Percent Rule:  when you change less than 10% of a manuscript from one rewrite to the next, you’re probably ready to submit.

There is one main issue that I think he kind of misses, though.  He says that “the value of critique varies widely depending on whether it is given with the same goal in mind as you had in writing it.”  That measuring stick is pretty useless.  You’ll probably never know whether the reviewer’s “goal” is the same as yours.

For example, let’s say I write a story that’s a cheap knockoff of Eragon.  If my reviewer says “this needs to be totally overhauled,” is it because he hates this specific knockoff or because he finds the entire epic-fantasy genre cliched?  Unless he specifically admits to hating epic fantasy in general, there’s no way for me to know.

A more useful measuring stick in judging a review is “does this get me closer to what I want to accomplish?” It doesn’t matter at all what goals the reviewer has, but whether his advice helps you achieve yours.

14 responses so far

Sep 11 2008

Two articles on futuristic weapons and armor that might help inspire a plot or visual

Defense Tech has an article on military exoskeletons.  We haven’t reached the level of killer androids (yet), but strength-enhancement is interesting, too.  (Also, if killer androids are in the works, exoskeletons will help programmers teach the androids how to move naturally, says one commenter).

Popular Mechanics did an article on 5 rifles in development.

They include a submachine gun that can fold into a large pocket…

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Aug 26 2008

Writers’ Resources: Elite Guard Dogs

If you’re interested in writing about thieves at the top of their game, you might find it interesting to know how the super-wealthy protect themselves. For example, a German shepherd from a security services firm will cost $40,000. What kind of face-ripper does that buy you? Here’s what one customer says…

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