IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Due to the murder of my family and the resulting court cases, police investigations, and FBI investigations, I no longer have time to daily update this website.

Likewise ALL novel, short story, and article writing projects are on hiatus.

All book releases, book signings, workshops, and convention appearances for 2015 (and unknown amount of time after) are on hold while the murder investigation of my family is ongoing.

Writing advice for the worldbuilding, character creation, and other writing how to articles are on hold.

From now on, the bulk of updates here will be about the investigation into the murder of my family.

No, NOT just THIS author website, not JUST the EelKat pename, not just self published books: ALL 15 (fifteen) of my penames are on hiatus, that includes traditional published books as well, newspaper reporting jobs, editing jobs, my work for Harlequin Romance Novels, my work for Disney... EVERYTHING is on hiatus. Every publishing house I work for, every series I write, every penname I write under: they are ALL on hiatus, ALL projects.

There is NOTHING being published under ANY penname, not for ANY series, not for ANY publisher, from 2015 onward. EVERYTHING is on hold due to the murder of my family. I do not know when or even if, any of the projects will be restarted or finished.

Yes, BOTH the magazines I owned are indefinitely shut down because of this as well, with no plans for either magazine to return. The publishing house I own is also closed to submissions from now on, we will no longer be publishing anything. It is unlikely we will reopen the publishing house either.

All book signing tours, workshops, letures, PAX events, ComicCon events, carnival/festival/state fair/car show events are also canceled. I will not be attending ANY of them. If a venue still has my name listed as a guest/speaker/etc it is because they've not yet removed it. I WILL NOT be there, no matter where it is! 

EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, IS CANCELED!

The ONLY thing continuing from this point on, is THIS website, where I'll post updates on the murder investigation, hopefully every week, but, you know how it is when 10 members of your family are beheaded, it's kind of difficult to have a schedule for anything anymore.







Publishing Methods:
Looking for some advice on how to publish a book?



Page Updated May 6, 2021 to add this new question, with an updated answer...



*I want to publish a book, but I am worried that I will end up losing money. Let me get this straight, I don't care about how much money I gain from my book. I don't care if it becomes a bestselling novel or if it is just seen as mediocre trash you will never read again. All I care about is weather someone reads it and enjoys it. The numbers mean nothing to me. The only thing I want is for someone to enjoy it, in any way they want to, even if that is just one person. So I've done a bit of research about the process of publishing, traditionally and self-published and I just don't know what to do. With self-publishing, you are urged to makes a ton of ads so people see it and it gets to the top of charts and stuff like that, and with traditional publishing (from most of the articles I have read) it always seems to push you to go the route of self-publishing and I just don't know what to do. I don't want to post my work onto a random website, I want it to be a physical book, or just something that is somewhat professional but that requires you to put money into it (I think) and that is something I cannot really afford to do. My family isn't very well-off, we can't risk spending money on advertisement rather than something more valuable like food or an unexpected major car repair. So I am pretty stumped. I want my ideas to be read, but I am not sure if it is even worth writing in the first place and it makes me feel like I am just wasting my time. I am a teenager, so I feel like i should wait until I am older to attempt even publishing it (Not to mention, I haven't even finished to first chapter of the first draft), but I want to at least know what to do so I am not clueless in the future. Not sure how to end this, but thanks for reading and please offer any advice you think may help. Thanks.*



ANSWERING THE QUESTION: I want to publish a book, but I am worried that I will end up losing money.

I find this question (and all others like it) interesting and baffling. I'll explain why.

I published my first novel in 1978.

Since than I have published 138 novels, 30 non-fiction books, 2,000+ short stories, a dozen plays, a few comic book scripts for Disney, a few dozen novellas, and 10,000+ non-fiction articles.

I've yet to spend a single penny on ads, marketing, etc.. 

I've never been a best seller, but that has never been a concern because I never worried about getting on charts. For me, I am simply compelled to write. I love my characters and I can't stop writing more stories about them. (Yes, all 138 novels and 2,000+ short stories feature the same main character and his friends). I write because I love to write. I publish so that others can enjoy these characters as much as I do.

I just write and publish and write and publish and write and publish and write some more and publish some more.

If you are losing money on getting published, than, honey, you are getting scammed. The ONLY way an author loses money on getting published is if someone is scamming them out of their money. 

* **You can't lose money from getting published because, it doesn't cost money to get published.**

Yes, book covers CAN cost money, but, you can make them yourself too. I made all of mine, so no money spent there either.

Yes, editing CAN cost money, but you can do it yourself as well. It’s not a hard technique to learn.

Yes, advertising CAN cost money, but, when all is said and done, do you really NEED the advertising? I see thousands of newbie authors dump their life savings into advertising, spending $hundreds$ per week, only to earn back under $100 at the end of the year. Sad but true, is the fact that 99% of the time advertising just doesn’t work for selling books. The only ads that are proven to work are the $12k+ one page, one day ads in New York Times.

Instead of advertising, your time is better spent writing your next book.

In fact the authors with the best success (both in self publishing and in traditional publishing) are the authors who publish 4 books a year. Why? Because they have a new release each season, so they are always showing up in the new release section of their genre. And because of this, they never need to advertise.

Even publishing just 1 book a year puts you ahead of the millions of would-be writers who sit around planning and never get published.

And you know what else? If you publish just 1 single, solitary book in your entire lifetime, you are doing way better than the millions of wanna bes who sit around dreaming and planning the book they are going to write “some day”.

Guess what?

When you sit on your ass dreaming, some day never comes.

Yes, it is good to have a dream.

Yes, it is good to have goals and write those goals down.

Yes, it is good to chart things out and have a plan of action.

But, what good is the dream you never act upon?

A list of goals written down is pointless if you never take charge of those goals and work at crossing them off the list.

Charts and plans that sit around gathering dust are useless.

Dreaming, planning, setting goals are all well and good and are great things to do, but if they are the ONLY things you do, than they are just a waste of your time.

Until you ACT on your dreams, your dreams are just fluffy pipe dreams that will never come true.

Until you ACT on your list of goals, that list is just another wasted sheet of paper.

Until you ACT on your charts and plans, the time spent planning was just a waste of your time.

ACT on your dreams!

ACT on your goals!

Put those plans into ACTION!

Write.

Write!

WRITE!

Dreaming is NOT writing.

Setting goals is NOT writing!

Making charts and plans is NOT writing!

Write.

Write!

WRITE!

Just write!

Write for 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. 

Write when you get up.

Write before you go to bed.

Write on your lunch break.

Even if you only write for just 10 minutes a day, that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of every so-called writer who is stuck in the dreaming and planning stage.

Just focus on your writing and stop worrying about anything else.

Look at me.

I have published 138 novels, 30 non-fiction books, 2,000+ short stories, a dozen plays, a few comic book scripts for Disney, a few dozen novellas, and 10,000+ non-fiction articles.

I couldn’t have done that if I just sat around day dreaming about writing someday.

I have published 138 novels, 30 non-fiction books, 2,000+ short stories, a dozen plays, a few comic book scripts for Disney, a few dozen novellas, and 10,000+ non-fiction articles.

I couldn’t have done that if I just spent my days charting and planning.

I have published 138 novels, 30 non-fiction books, 2,000+ short stories, a dozen plays, a few comic book scripts for Disney, a few dozen novellas, and 10,000+ non-fiction articles.

I did that by writing and writing and writing and writing and writing and writing some more.

And you can do it too.

All you have to do is STOP PROCRASTINATING and just write!

Stop dreaming and just start writing!

Stop setting goals and just start writing!

Stop researching the market and just start writing!

Stop making charts and drafting plans and just start writing!

Stop building worlds and drawing character art and just start writing!

Write, write, write, write, write, write, write!

Just WRITE! That’s all you have to do.

Yes, writing is hard. But you make it so much harder than it needs to be when you put off doing it.

Remember, if you have nothing written down, you can't get published any ways. Write first. Have something to publish, finished, polished, edited, edited again. Your manuscript should go through at least 10 edits, at least a month apart from each. So, you are a year or more from needed to worry about getting published any ways. Worry about getting the first draft written, then worry about the editing process. You'll have plenty of time to worry about publishing AFTER you actually have something to publish.

If you are constantly writing, you will have an endless supply of things to publish. And if you are constantly publishing, you'll always have a new release and will never NEED to buy advertising or worry about landing on charts.

Write. Than publish. Than write some more. Than publish some more. Than write even more.

That really is all you need to do.

Sadly the most important step to writing and getting published, is the step most writers overlook – writing.

Sounds silly, I know, but it’s true.

Millions of wannabe writers will dream about writing, talk about writing, plan on writing, research writing, make charts and maps of their world, draw art of their characters, spend hours each day on writer’s forums, read writing books and blogs, watch writing videos, study advertising and marketing trends, and they get so caught up on doing all that, that they forget the most important part of writing is actually sitting your ass down and writing.

But no matter what you do, always remember this: you can’t publish what you’ve not yet written.

Let’s go over your question line by line.


>>> *I don't care about how much money I gain from my book.* 

This is a good place to start. Most authors earn less than $5,000 in the TOTAL LIFETIME of the book. This includes BOTH traditionally and self published authors.

In fact the AVERAGE trad published novel only receives a $2,000 advance on royalties and takes 5+ years to earn that out and is out of print before it reaches the point of starting to earn royalties, meaning the author NEVER earns royalties on the book.

You have better chances of making more money from self publishing, BUT, according to Amazon’s own public release of their IRS tax records, fewer than 1,000 Kindle published authors earn more than $5,000 a year, while more than 3MILLION Kindle published authors earn only $100 once every 5 years, and fewer than 30 Kindle published authors have ever earned more than $100,000 TOTAL since 2010 and only 3 (three) Kindle published authors have ever reached earning $1million dollars.

Chances are very high that you’ll never earn a living off your ONE book, no matter how you publish it.

The ONLY authors who live full time off their writing income are the ones who publish no fewer than 4 novels a year. 


And looking at Amazon’s 3 Kindle Millionaires, 


* one of them publishes 12 novels a year – 1 per month, and has done so since 2013; - he writes Western Murder Mysteries (think Cowboys and Indians meets Sherlock Holmes) – yes, he IS the one who scammed Amazon out of millions with his fake review scam, yes, you do remember him from such TV shows as Lost and Survivor, yes, he did go to prison for IRS tax fraud, yes, he IS still writing/publishing new volumes from his prison cell – Amazon’s top selling self published Kindle author will one day get to spend his money, decades from now when he finally gets out of prison


* one publishes weekly novellas – 52 books published per year, and has done so since 2011; - she writes Lycan Erotica (Monster Porn focused on knotting sex with wolf men – more than half her books were banned by Amazon for featuring bestiality and are now available on SmashWords instead – she sells more books and makes more money than her sister in law who was the author of 50 Shades of Grey)


* and the other one publishes 6 to 8 novels a year, one book every other month, and has done so since 2010. - she writes Emo Teen Vampire Romance, yep, that one, no, not Twilight, the Diary one, yep – those are self published - and her books have been made into 8 movies and 3 TV shows – yes the Diary series sells more copies and earns more money than the Twilight series


All 3 of them have well over 500 books up for sale on their Amazon author pages. 

Think about that for a minute.

Amazon’s 3 Kindle Millionaires (yes there are ONLY 3 Kindle Millionaires) had to be publishing books either weekly or monthly for 5+ years BEFORE they earned enough money to live on, long before they earned $1million.

Far too many new writers expect to publish one novel and be a millionaire next week. They have no clue how very little authors actually earn and how very much authors have to publish to earn a liveable income.

So going into writing, expecting nothing, is the best place to start.


>>> *I don't care if it becomes a bestselling novel or if it is just seen as mediocre trash you will never read again.* 


Uhm... yeah... as a reader, I’d never buy a novel written by an author who said this about their work.

Think about it.

If YOU the author don’t believe in your work, why than should me the reader even bother with it?

I want to see an author be in love with their characters, have a fiery passion for creating their lives, burn with desire for building their world, and lovingly tell their story.

I don't care if you write a bestselling novel or if you write mediocre trash. What I do care about is that YOU love what you write.

Why should I love your characters if you don’t?

Why should I love your world if you don’t?

I want to read a story that was written with love and passion. I don’t care if others like it or hate it, but I do care that the author put in the effort to make it the best they could be. 


>>> *All I care about is weather someone reads it and enjoys it.* 


Spell check.

You want to publish your work.

But you can’t even be bothered to check the spelling of a question you sent to an author?

The weather outside is frightful.

I don’t care wither or not some one reads it.

People may give you a chance and buy your first book, but they certainly won’t spend money on your second book when they realize you can’t tell wither or not the weather is spelt correctly.

Don’t try to become a published author until you first have a working knowledge of English Grammar.


>>> *The numbers mean nothing to me.* 


Many say this. Few mean it.

If you actually mean it, great. If you are just saying it, because you think that’s what I want to hear you say, than you need to learn to stop lying to yourself. I say this because I’ve seen thousands of newbie writers say they don’t care about numbers, but I’ve seen a good 90% of them have meltdowns, fits of depression, rage fits, and other adverse reactions when they don’t sell a million copies by the end of the first week/month/year of publishing.

There is nothing wrong with caring about the numbers. If you really don’t care about the numbers, that’s fine, but if you are just saying that and don’t really mean it, than you are in for deep shit down the road. 


>>> *The only thing I want is for someone to enjoy it, in any way they want to, even if that is just one person.* 

If this is your goal, a local copy shop may be what you want. You can get 10 or 12 copies of a paperback book printed up for under $100 and hand them out to your friends. Print up 100 for under $1,000 and sell them from a booth at local state/county fair.

If you want to have an eBook edition that’ll be seen by more than just family, friends, and locals, SmashWords and Amazon Kindle are both free.  

If you want Print of Demand, Amazon Kindle Paperbacks (formerly CreateSpace) has the best quality and the best price. I highly recommend going with matte covers not gloss covers, as the look is amazing and incredibly high quality. Since 2007 all of my short run paperbacks have been printed up here.

LuLu is the best place for hard cover POD editions, but in recent years they have gotten a bit pricey. All my hard cover editions came from LuLu.

If you want to go large scale vanity press (printing up 10,000+ paperbacks, filling your garage with boxes of books, and trying to commission them to local book stores or mass selling them at events), I highly recommend you ignore 99.99% of all the vanity press companies out there. Most of them are scams. Head to Morris Press, they are the book printer used by the bulk of large press traditional publishing houses (Disney, Reader’s Digest, ect all use them) but know you are looking at MINIMUM $30,000 and could spend well over $100k to get your books printed. They also offer short runs as low as 100 copies, but most local copy shops can do this as well. All my large run editions were printed by Morris Press.

If you need cover art and can’t afford a professional cover art designer (who often charge $500 to $3,000 per book cover), and don’t know how to do the art yourself, it’s easy to make your own cover art, using ChasysDraw or GIMP (both free) and stock images (I use BigStockPhotos, DepositImages, and ShutterStock, via their $99 a month subscriptions, but I’m also publishing 50+ books a year, so can use a monthly subscription of 100+ images per month; but they offer single photo options if you only want to buy one image for 1 book cover, most are under $5 for the limited use rights that cover book cover usage). I have made the cover art for all of my novels, novellas, plays, and short stories. 

I’ve also made all the Pinterest art for all my articles. For those I used Canva. You can use Canva for making book covers as well. Again, it’s free, plus, they offer thousands of free stock images you can use, and thousands more that are available for a fee of $2 per use for most images. 

>>> *I've done a bit of research about the process of publishing, traditionally and self-published and I just don't know what to do.* 

I’ve published traditionally, with vanity press, and self published. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. I use different methods for different books. It depends on my end goal for the individual project. 


For example: 


* I’ve been published by Disney, because I wanted to write stories for Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, and they own the copyright to those characters, so I had no choice by to be published traditionally by Disney if I wanted to write for one of their series.


* I’ve been published by Harlequin, because I wanted to try my hand at The Formula Romance genre and in order to be published by them, you have to download their formulae, which is very detailed. It’s almost “fill in the blank” style writing. The female main has to do this on page 3 and that on page 8, and must meet the male lead before the end of chapter 1, and the story must be exactly 187 pages, chapters can be no longer than 20 pages, no shorter than 10 pages, there must be 3 sex scenes all in fade to black with no actual graphic sex on the page. No one can die. Depression is a no-no. Violence, blood, gore, BDSM, and Erotica are all strictly forbidden. Divorce can not exist in this world. Couples are always married before sex. No swears. No vulgar language. Harlequin is very strict, very Christian, very Sweet Romance, absolutely nothing erotic, no sex on page, and certain things MUST happen on certain pages. If you can not write to their formulae, you can not be published with them.


* My autobiography was vanity press/POD/print on demand published, as I knew there would be no mass market for it. This resulted in a much higher than normal cover price to pay for the cost of manually printing the hard cover books, but, as only my most die hard fans were interested in buying this book, they also were people willing to pay the extra fee to get the book.


* MOST of my novels and short stories were local press printed at copy shops and sold only at local book stores, local churches, local festivals, local craft fairs, local carnivals, various geek-comic-game conventions, out of my motorhome at beaches and camp-grounds, and out of my car truck on the side of the road. Each volume had limited run varying from only 100 to 1,000 copies.


* For the 35th anniversary of the Twighlight Manor/Quaraun series, the most popular/bestselling novels and short stories of the series, were re-released in ebook editions on Kindle, allowing them to be accessed by the mass market for the first time.


* My plays were published in vary short runs, often 50 or fewer copies, just what was needed for production as local armature theatres.


Like I said, I’ve never tried to be a mass produced or large scale or national best seller type author. My books have always been set in local towns, featured local history, local folklore, and been sold on a local level to the people who live in the town the story is set in.

While I’m not famous on a large scale... there literally is no one in a 5 county region who DOES NOT know who I am. 

Literally every resident of Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Biddeford, Scarborough, South Portland, Portland, Kennebunk, and the surrounding areas in Maine, knows me by name and knows me when they see me around town. 

I have 30million readers world wide, of my online articles, but when it comes to my novels, plays, and short stories, I have around 75,000 die hard mega fans, and I’ve meet every one of them face to face, because most of them live right here in Maine less than 100 miles from my driveway.

I’m a “local author” who writes about local people and local sites, in local towns. I don’t try to have a mass/national/international/world wide appeal and that effects how I go about publishing my books.

I love Maine.

I most especially love Old Orchard Beach.

All of my short stories, novels, and novellas are set in Maine.

Most of my short stories, novels, and novellas are set in Old Orchard Beach.

Nearly all of my readers live in Maine.

MOST of my readers live in, vacation at, or have at least visited Old Orchard Beach.

My written method is rather specific. I visit a site, sit down at it and start writing about it. Usually a grave stone in a cemetery is the site I sit at. This is because, we have lots of graves from the 1500s to 1700s here and, I love reading the stones, researching microfilm of newspapers about that dead person, and than, creating a story set in my home town, about a character based off that dead person and the info I found on them.

I’m extremely local, very narrow focused niche, local author. And that’s what I like being. I’m a small town author who writes stories inspired by the history of my home town.

There isn’t a mass market for my type of work and I’m not going to fool myself into thinking there is.

I love what I write, but I know it’s very literary and small niched and not many people want to read it. So, I plan how I publish my books accordingly.

A traditional publishing house is looking for something they can market to the masses, nationally and internationally. They are looking for generic genre fiction that appeals to a large audience.

Me? I don’t write what most big publishers are looking for. Nothing wrong with that, but it means I’ll have to self publish a lot of my work and market it myself.

Knowing your audience is the first step to knowing HOW to publish.

Generic Romance, generic Fantasy, generic Sci-Fi all has a mass appeal and are best suited to traditional publishing, but, multi-racial couples, gay couples, trans characters, minority race characters, regional focus settings are all things that are better suited to self publishing.

Me? I write multi-racial couples, gay couples, trans characters, Gypsy race, Mormon and Voodoo religion characters, and all set in York Country, Maine. Each of those topics on there own is something a trad publisher won’t touch with a 12 mile pole, so I don’t have a choice. I HAVE to self publish if I want to write multi-racial couples, gay couples, trans characters, Gypsy race, Mormon and Voodoo religion characters, or set in York Country, Maine, because trade publishers WILL NOT touch these niches.

What are YOU writing? 

WHO is going to read your book?

The answer to those two questions will do more to determine if you should trade publish or self publish, than anything else.

Know WHO your target audience is and put your book where THEY are.

I say this to show you how the goal of your target audience can influence the method you use to publish.

Ask yourself WHO your target audience is.

WHO do you want to read your book?

In my case, for the bulk of my books, the only people who would be interested in what I write, are very local, so self publishing via local copy shops and selling the books to locals from a booth at local events is the ideal method of publishing.

A few times I write something that has mass market appeal, and those manuscripts I send out to traditional publishing houses.

Sometimes I write copyrighted characters and can only publish those via the copyright holder (Disney, for example).

I once did a cookbook and went with Morris Press for that because, they specialise in vanity press church fundraiser cookbook publishing, so they were ideal for the type of local influence cookbook I wrote.

Stuff that was popular with my established fans, was republished on Kindle as ebooks to give a wider audience access should people outside of my local region have an interest in them.

So I don’t stick with any one format or method of publishing. I look at what would be the best fit for the project in question.

I don’t feel that either self publishing or traditionally publishing is better or worse than the other. I feel that each has equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. I feel that self publishing is going to be better in some cases and traditionally publishing is going to be better in other cases, and that an author should go back and forth between them both, doing which ever they feel is best for each particular project at the time of publishing.

So, I don’t feel it is appropriate for me or any one else to tell you, that you must choose one way over the other. I feel that you and only you can decide which is best for your current project. So, continue to research everything you can find and look at every area of your project and decide for yourself what is best for your current project. 

And remember, you are free to do both. 

Self publish one book, trad publish another book, copy shop print one book, POD publish another book, put one ebook on Kindle and another eBook on SmashWords. Write a dozen books and publish each one a different way. Than, gather up the sales results for each of your books and compare them and use those for deciding where to publish your next book.

Remember, don’t waste too much time worrying about it. Whatever method you use for this book, you can try something else for your next book. It’s better to keep the flow moving, so you can be publishing at least 1 book a year, though 4 books a year is a better goal to aim for. And the more time you waste “researching” publishing methods, the less time you have to get started working on your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th books.


>>> *With self-publishing, you are urged to makes a ton of ads so people see it and it gets to the top of charts and stuff like that,* 


By who?

Please step back and take a good long look at the author behind the article you are reading.

Are they making money from selling their books? Or are they making money from you clicking on an affiliate link to an advertising site?

No reputable author who actually makes money from their book sales is going to tell you to buy ads to sell books.

The only people telling you to buy ads are the people who make money every time you click a link to the ad server selling you ad space. They NEED you to buy ads because you buying ads pays their bills.

Look to the authors who sell books. Get your advice from people selling books.

Don’t look to the people pushing ads. They are NOT teaching you how to sell books, they are teaching you to click affiliate links. They are NOT selling their books, that’s why they are yapping about buying ad space instead of yapping about how to sell books.

Don’t fall for that scam.


>>> *and with traditional publishing (from most of the articles I have read) it always seems to push you to go the route of self-publishing and I just don't know what to do.* 


I’m not sure what you are trying to convey here.

Publishing houses most certainly DO NOT encourage you to self publish.

Every time an author self publishes a book, that’s a business lose for trad publishers. 

The last thing traditional publishers want is for you to self publish.

I don't want to post my work onto a random website, I want it to be a physical book, 

Posting on a random website will simply tell the word you are a writer who will never become an author, so I highly recommend you AVOID AT ALL COSTS posting your writing on websites unless you have no desire to ever be published.

Are you suggesting that it would not be? If you publish a book, it has pages made out of paper and printed with ink.

I’m sorry, but, if you publish it electronicly/digitally, it’s NOT a book.

You might want to invest in a dictionary.

If you publish on some random website, you are NOT an author, you are just a hobby writer who slaps stuff up online. Sorry, but nothing you slap online is a book.

A book is made out of paper.

Do you mean you want to write a NOVEL or a BOOK?

Which is it?

Because it appears you can not tell the difference between a book and a novel.

A novel is the story and is can be published as a book or it can be slapped on some random website online.

A novel only becomes a book if it was printed up in paper.

A novel is just a novel and NOT a book, if it is posted electronicly/digitally.

Tip... an author who doesn’t know the meaning of words is nothing but a laughing stock. No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t know the meanings of words. How do you expect to write a book, when you don’t even know what a book is?


>>> *or just something that is somewhat professional but that requires you to put money into it (I think) and that is something I cannot really afford to do.* 


Again... you have a lot of learning to do and don’t seem to know how to use words.

Words are the most important part of writing.

Without words you simply can not write.

But if you don’t know the correct, true, and proper dictionary definitions of words, you will end up writing confusing drivel.

Why do I say this here?

Because you said this:


>>> *something that is somewhat professional but that requires you to put money into it*


A professionally published book, is one that is published by a big house publisher. Disney. Harlequin. Random House. Reader’s Digest. Paizo. Wizards of the Coast. Dark Horse. And if you are professionally published than you do not put any money into it.

But this also comes right after you said:

>>> *I don't want to post my work onto a random website, I want it to be a physical book,* 

If you publish on some random website, you are NOT an author, you are just a hobby writer who slaps stuff up online. Sorry, but nothing you slap online is a book.

A novel is something you write. It’s a type of story.

A book is made out of paper. They are a way of getting information to your audience. They can have words or pictures, tell a fictional story or give non-fiction information. 

Novels CAN be published as a book.

Some books are also novels.

All novels are stories.

Not all novels are books. 

Some books are novels, some books tell stories, but not all books are novel and not all books tell a story.

Do you mean you want to write a NOVEL or a BOOK?

Which is it?

Because it appears you can not tell the difference between a book and a novel and that’s quite concerning.

A novel is the story and is can be published as a book or it can be slapped on some random website online.

A novel only becomes a book if it was printed up in paper.

A novel is just a novel and NOT a book, if it is posted electronicly/digitally.

It is quite concerning, if you hope to be a writer but than you don’t know the definition of the words book and novel.

Now this is not a bad thing, IF you correct it. That’s what learning is about after all. We learn where our mistakes are and we correct them.

If you want to write novels and have them published in the format of a book, than you want to have yourself a good sit down with a dictionary and read it.

I have read the Webster’s Dictionary, the 4,000 page edition, 31 times. I have read the Funk A Wagner Encyclopedia – all 99 volumes – 4 times, and I’ve read 40 other encyclopedias twice each.

I didn’t go to school. It wasn’t allowed. But I wanted to. I wanted to read and write. So I taught myself how to write, by reading the dictionary and several encyclopedias. I diagrammed 100 dictionary definition sentenced every day for 12 years.

It is clear from your phraseology, your improper grammar, and your lack of correct definitions of words that you have never read a dictionary and have never been taught how to diagram sentences. 

You really shouldn’t be trying to write a novel until you’ve both read a dictionary and have mastered the art of diagramming sentences.

You NEED to know both what words mean and how to use those words correctly if you want to be professional published. Again, professional published, means published by a big house publishing company.

If you can’t tell the difference between a book and a novel, how can you expect any publisher to ever professionally publish your novel into book format?



>>> *My family isn't very well-off, we can't risk spending money on advertisement rather than something more valuable like food or an unexpected major car repair.* 


Uhm... again... WHY would you spend money on such things? You don’t need to. You really don’t. I’ve never seen an author yet have any significant level of success from anything other than $12k one day ads in The New York Times. 

BookBub worked back in 2010 when fewer than 100 authors were on the waiting list, but today in 2021 the wait list has 5,000 or more authors ahead of you in EACH category. Back in 2010 there were 100 authors and 1,000 readers and it worked. Today there are 100,000+ authors and still those same 1,000 readers. 97% of the people who see the BookBub ads are just other authors who are not buying books. 

And FaceBook ads have never worked for authors.

AdWords (AdSence) worked back in 2007, but since 2012’s Panda raids don’t do shit and are a total waste of money.

Far too many authors, earn $1,000 from their book and use all of it for ads and, end up with nothing to show for it. Every penny going into ads and not income to live on. Then they stop paying for ads and suddenly realize they are still making $1,000 a year without the ads and now have $1k income instead of 0 income and $1k wasted on ads.

If you want to spend money on your book, put the money into editing the manuscript and buying a professional book cover. Those two things will go further than all the advertisements you could buy ever will.

Your books should pay for your food and car repairs, not cause you to worry you’ll have to go without food.

If you are struggling to buy food, than you’ve done something seriously wrong with your publishing career.

Remember, the difference between a writer and an author is this:


* A writer writes things and doesn’t make money from it.


* An author is someone who publishes what they write AND lives off the money they earn from their writing.


Your book should be putting food on the table and buying you a brand new car that doesn’t need repairs.

Sorry, but if you are getting advice from authors who are losing money instead of making money, than you need to reconsider which authors you are getting your advice from, because an author who is losing money has no business giving you advice of how to be an author.

You wouldn’t take advice on how to be a billionaire from a welfare bum, would you? So why are you taking writing advice from someone who can’t make a living off their own writing?


>>> *So I am pretty stumped. I want my ideas to be read, but I am not sure if it is even worth writing in the first place and it makes me feel like I am just wasting my time.* 


This sentence tells me that you lack self confidence, self worth, and are only motivated by what other people think.

Unfortunately, if you don’t overcome those flaws, you will NEVER publish anything.

Write for yourself.

Write what you want to write.

Write the book you desire to read.

In my nearly 5 decades of publishing, I’ve run into thousands of wannabe writers who, like you, dream of being published, but went on to never publish anything at all. And in every case, the reason was always the same:


* They wanted to write for the crowd.

* They wanted people to like them.

* They wanted someone to notice them.

* They were seeking attention.

* They needed justification from some one.

* They needed the approval of others.

* They could not mentally or emotionally stand on their own two feet and needed to lean on others as a crutch.


If you want to write for the crowd, than give up writing right now. This is NOT the career for you.

If you want people to like you, than you are in the worse career possible, because for every one fan who loves you, you’ll receive 100+ hate emails and death threats.

If you want someone to notice you, be sure you want the attention authors get, because you’ll go years ignored by most only to be noticed when protesters and boycotters are banning your books and burning them in a bonfire in your driveway.

If you are seeking attention, know that 99.99% of all authors, both traditionally and self published, sell fewer than 100 copies of their books per year. Know too that there are only 10,000 – ten thousand – people in America who have read 3 or more books in the last decade.

If you need justification from some one, know you won’t find it in the publishing industry.

If you need the approval of others, well than, there’s nothing like wallpapering your walls with thousands of rejection slips to tell you how much no one gives a shit about you or your manuscript.

If you can not mentally or emotionally stand on your own two feet without needing to lean on others as a crutch, than you have no business being in this business. The publishing industry is a cut-throat dog eat dog career where he who breaks the most knees wins, and those of you needed emotional crutches before you even start won’t stand a chance in this business. Run now while you still can. After ER Nurses and Dog Veterinarians, authors have the highest suicide rate of any career. If you are not emotionally strong to begin with, you’ll just be yet another body swinging from a bedroom noose. Sad but true. A harsh reality, that you really need to consider before you consider the publishing industry as a career path.

Yes, I’m being harsh here, but I need to be. Every year thousands of unpublished authors and low sales published authors commit suicide, for no reason other than not enough people gave them, their manuscript, or their book the attention they felt it/they “deserved”.

Far too many people go into writing a book, thinking being a published author gives them prestige. But 9 times out of 10, the reality is that authors are among the most hated people on the planet. 

Authors are constantly faced with lawsuits, because some parent's teenaged brat took a gun to school or died of a drug overdoes or robbed a gas station and it MUST be the fault of the author who wrote the novel the kid read last week, it couldn’t possibly be they were shitty assed parents who raised a criminal. No. No. No. The blame MUST be evil devil metal music, evil devil video games, or evil devil authors, couldn’t possibly be the parent’s lack of parenting to blame. You’ll get 2 or 3 of these a year, so expect to be dragged to court often if teenagers read your books. There was one year when I had 7 such lawsuits all going at once.

Ministers, bishops, pastors, preachers, “extremist”-republicanisms, and fringe cult groups, like Heaven’s Gate or Westborough Baptist church will arrive with ”god hates fags” signs and rioters if you have a gay couples in your books. The Ku Klux Klan blew up my house with a bomb 2006, because I wrote a novel with a white character having a black lover. Westborough Baptist Church arrived and burned my books on my lawn in 2016 because I wrote a novel with a male to female transgender main character.

I have novels banned in 27 countries, for various reasons, mostly because the main couple is a white male with a black male lover. If you hadn’t figured it out by now, I wrote a series of 138 novels that follow the life of a multi-racial, gay couple, one of the two being trans. The problem is compounded by them both being wizards, so I get the “satan worship” and “devil influence” hate mail and death threats from “good christians” too.

Did I mention that on April 10, 2015, my 12 children were kidnapped. And on May 15, 2015, the heads of 10 of them were nailed to my door? And that this was done by a Christian church group to “punish” me for writing “books inspired by Satan”?

If you want to be a published author for fame, glory, and attention, to try to prove you have self worth, you are barking up the wrong tree, because you’ll have far more haters than fans.


>>> *I am a teenager, so I feel like i should wait until I am older to attempt even publishing it* 


Age is an oft used excuse. Children and teens say “I’m too young to write, I’ll wait till I’m older.” College students say: “I’ve too many exams. I’ll write after I graduate.” Housewives say “I’m too busy to write, I’ll wait till the kids are older.” Elderly say: “I’m too tired to write, I wish I had written while I was younger and had more energy.” 

Too young to write. Too old to write. Too busy to write. Don’t fall into that trap. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you are never too young or too old to write.

Age means nothing.

Learn to be stop telling lies.

Yes.

Stop telling lies.

You may say: “But I’m not lying!”

Yes you are. You are so used to living in a culture that lies through it’s teeth 24/7 that you can’t even tell you are lying and it’s deplorable.

The first step to overcoming the despicable habit of telling lies, is to first stop lying to yourself.

Where’s the lie you ask?

“I’m too young to write,” is ALWAYS a lie, no matter WHO is saying it and no matter what age you are.

Why is it a lie? Because children as young as 3 years old have published novels. Yes, as young as 3 years old.

There are novels published by every age from as young as 3 years old to as old as 121 years old. 

So if you are over the age of 3, you are NOT too young to write a novel and get it published.

And if you are younger than 121 years old, you are NOT too old to write a novel and get it published.

Which means, EVERY TIME you say: “I’m too young/old to write” you are simply lying to yourself.

No.

You are NOT too young to write, you are just too LAZY to write.

Yep.

There it is.

You can’t admit the truth to yourself. The truth being that you are simply too lazy to write. So you cover up that truth with excuses: I’m too old, too young, too busy... no, you are just too lazy. Only this and nothing more.

Stop lying to yourself.

Stop trying to pretend age is the problem and just admit you are lazy.

Nothing wrong with being lazy. So just admit you are too lazy to write.

Every morning when you get up, say to yourself: “I am too lazy to write a novel. But I will over come my own flaws and get that novel written.”

Do that every day for the next month and see what happen. I guarantee, you will no longer feel too young to write.

If you are like most people, long before the 30 days are up, you will be fired up and looking for ways to overcome your lazy habits.

No one wants to admit they are lazy.

And once you have accepted the fact that, you are too lazy, not too young, to write, than your brain will start kicking into gear looking for ways to not be lazy, looking for times you can write.

The problem is that it is much easier to make excuses for WHY you are not writing, than it is to actually write.

Writing is hard.

It’s not a skill that comes naturally.

You have to work at it.

Practice.

Condition yourself to set aside time each day to do it.

It’s a lot of work.

It’s long hours.

And, face it, we as humans are lazy creatures who want to look for the easy way out. And it’s easier to say: “I’m too young to write” than it is to make time to write.

But once you accept that laziness and not age is your road block, than you can find ways to plow through that road block.

The first step to pushing past any block, is to come to terms with the block itself.

You can’t overcome your age, and thus age becomes the easy go to excuse.

Age is the lazy man’s cop-out because, no matter what age you are, you can always say “too young” or “too old” and thus nothing proves you lazier than falling back on the age cop-out.

This is WHY every published author rolls their eyes when they hear a newb say “I’m too old” or “I’m too young”. Because the published authors all know age has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to get published. Age is just the lazy man’s excuse who why he is procrastinating.

So, stop lying to yourself.

Stop blaming age on why you can’t write.

The sooner you admit the truth, the sooner you can overcome the problem and get busy writing.

Children can and do get published traditionally all the time and with the help of a parent can self publish too. If you can write it, you can publish it.

Likewise teens get published, both by self publishing and getting picked up by an agent or publishing house, all the time.

College students, young adults, busy mothers, business men, retired, elderly, middle aged, homeless, soldiers, home owners, apartment dwellers, rich, poor, young, old... none of that matters. So long as you have a way to type up your manuscript, nothing about age, race, income, living situation, career, school, or any thing else, can prevent you from writing down the story you want to write.

The only thing standing in your way, is you.

Your own fears.

Burst through those fears and you’ll quickly find that nothing can get in your way.

And if you think, you can’t write because you are too young, so don’t yet have enough skill or training or experience, well, guess what? The ONLY way to gain writing skill, is to practice writing, so just start writing now while you are young. Get in all the practice you can and by the time you feel old enough to publish, you’ll also have lots of experience in writing lots of things.

Plus, the older you will be able to look back at younger you’s writing and edit it into something publishable.

Remember, practice makes perfect.

The more you write, the better you’ll get at it.

Sure, if you are constantly making the same mistakes and don’t know they are mistakes, you’ll continue to make those same mistakes no matter how much you practice.

But here’s the thing, while you are in school, still a teen, is the best time to practice, because you have access to Grammar, Literature, and English teachers and text books to ask for advice, look to for help, so you can find and correct those mistakes.

Later in life you won’t have that, so the older you get, the more difficult it’ll be for you to discover what sorts of writing errors you are making.

Take advantage of your youth to study and learn and ask teachers and professors for help.

Writing is just like playing piano or football or anything else. You don’t become good at it over night. You start out floundering and failing and stumbling, but the more you practice the better you get. Start out with small baby steps and work up slowly to the advanced stuff over time.

No matter what we do, we all start somewhere.

No one won the Olympics by waking up one day and BOOM instantly winning the swim competition.

No.

They trained for years.

Long hours several days a week for months on end, progressively advancing to harder techniques over time.

Writing is no different.

The biggest names in writing all practices for years before they got published. And some published many novels before becoming a bestseller.

I remember an interview I saw on the Late Show a few years back. I forget who the author was, he wasn’t someone I had ever heard of before, but he was famous enough that his latest novel had become a big hit kids movie and so Dave Letterman was interviewing him.

Well, apparently Dave Letterman hadn’t heard of this guy either and so he was just reading his questions blindly off the card he was holding.

Well, one question was:

“So, how does it feel to be an overnight success with your very first novel?”

The author hesitated for a moment than he answered and said:

“But this isn’t my very first novel. I published 28 novels before this. Plus I wrote 3 college text books. And this isn’t even the first novel in the series. It’s volume 8.”

I mention this because I think it’s a common error most people make, when they see a new name suddenly become a best seller. They never heard of the author before so incorrectly assume because they are a sudden success, that they never published anything prior to their big hit best seller.

Most authors have a rather large backlog of many, many, many, many novels already published long before they strike a bestselling big hit.

But because no one heard of them before they became a bestseller, most people assume the bestseller was the first novel they published.

This in turn leads to most newbie writers to think they MUST start out with their first published novel also being a best seller.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

Get this idea out of your head.

Just write.

Write. Write. Write!

Maybe you don’t yet have the skills to convey proper grammar. Maybe you can’t spell or punctuate worth shit. Don’t let that stop you from writing. My spelling is horrific. I run everything, forum posts included, through several spellcheckers before I post it and spelling errors still get through. I never went to school, so I never learned how to spell. This is a huge hurdle that trips up my writing and has been a stumbling block every step of my writing career and is STILL an issue I struggle with all these decades later. But I don’t let it stop me from writing. I write anyway and I deal with this issue after the draft is finished, during the editing process.

Remember, no one vomits gold bricks on the first drafts. Your first draft of EVERY novel you write is ALWAYS going to be shit. 

Did you know that some of the most beautiful “fake” agate gemstones are literally polished turds? Didn’t know that? Well, than you are learning something new today. Look it up, if you want to see videos on the process and learn more details of how imitation agates are made. But, the short of it is this:

Pigeon poop, is a white and green marbled colour, and within a few hours of being pooped out, hardens into small round lumps. These lumps of green and white striped pigeon poop are collected, dehydrated in ovens, soaked in epoxy, than polished in rock tumblers, to create small tumbled pebbles sold as: imitation howlite, imitation tree agate, imitation moss agate, imitation jade, and other white, grey, or green gemstones.

What does this have to do with writing?

Take a lesson from those millions of power bead bracelets sold in jewellery stores:

If you polish a piece of shit enough, you can sell it as a precious gem.

Accept that EVERY first draft of EVERY novel you write is always gong to be utter trash, and you’ll find it easier to write your story with total freedom.

Accept that no matter how big a heaping pile of shit your first draft is, with enough polish you can edit it into a gem, and you not only zip through finishing that first draft, you’ll zip through several edits as well.

I’ve received thousands of questions like this over this years, and I find that most every new writer stumbles in thinking they MUST write a draft that is publishable without editing. And because they think it MUST be perfect out the gate, they feel they can never write anything worth publishing.

No. Don’t fall into thinking your first draft must be perfect. Accept that you can, will and should write utter trash, and you’ll unlock those gates blocking you from writing. When you allow yourself to write shit, you shatter every road block writer’s block tosses at you.

So, write, write, write, write, write.

Don’t be afraid to write trash.

You can always edit it later.

Remember... just like you can’t publish what you didn’t write, you also can’t edit what you didn’t write. Before you can publish your novel, you first must edit it to perfection, but before you can edit it to perfection, first you must actually write that first draft.

>>> *(Not to mention, I haven't even finished to first chapter of the first draft),* 


Remember: you can’t publish what you’ve not yet written. So don’t worry about publishing, advertising, etc., until AFTER you have written something to publish.

Don’t put the cart too far ahead of the horse.

Publishers and printing presses go out of business every week.

The publisher you plan to write for today, may well be gone before you finish writing your first chapter.

Write first, find your publisher later.


>>> *but I want to at least know what to do so I am not clueless in the future. Not sure how to end this, but thanks for reading and please offer any advice you think may help. Thanks*.


Planning for the future is always good.

But remember, you never know what the future may hold.

In 2010, if you had told me, that my entire family was going to be murdered, I would have said you was crazy.

But April 10, 2015... my entire family was murdered.

Unexpected. Not something that could ever have been planned for.

You can’t plan for everything.

In 2019, no one expected the entire world to shut down, billions of people shuttering themselves in their homes, terrified to go outdoors because a world wide plague as killing tens of thousands of people a day.

But than, 2020 happened, as Covid-19 shattered the foundations of society.

Unexpected. Not something that could ever have been planned for.

You can’t plan for everything.

Planning for your future is good, yes. But you can’t plan for everything, and if you spend all your time planning for the future, you end up, not living in the now.

Write.

Now.

You may not have tomorrow to do it, so do it today.


Over all, you sound like you are off to a good start. You are planning and researching and reaching out to published authors seeking advice. This all very good and you should keep right on doing it.

You have some writing blocks to overcome and need to hone your skills in word usage and spelling, but I’ve seem worse, a lot worse, and these things are easy to overcome. It just takes a little practice. Don’t let things like spelling and grammar stop you from writing. I can’t spell worth shit. Never could, still can’t. Even things like answering your question, I have to run through 7 different spell checking programs and spelling errors still sneak through.

We all have our flaws. The trick is to work on fixing those flaws and trying to improve yourself, while also looking for your strong points and putting the focus on those.

For example, spelling is ever my curse, but character creation and writing character dialogue is/are my strong point(s) and often weighs out over the bad spelling. I focus on character creation and writing character dialogue and at the same time, try to learn better spelling techniques.

Improve your flaws, find your strong points, and keep on going the way you are going. You seem to have a level head about you, and that’s a good thing. You are worried about family and income and food and car repairs, you know writing is fun and hard and can have bigger loses than incomes, so you are trying to work out a plan of action that will not hinder you. This is all good.

While I’ve not seen a sample of your fictional/novel writing style, I can see from your short question here that, you write better than most of the others whom have emailed me asking for writing advice. 

You have potential. Don’t waste it on procrastinating. Start writing. Work on getting into a daily writing habit. I think you will do quite well in the long run. Good luck in whatever you choose to do.

But no matter what you do, just remember: you can’t publish what you’ve not yet written, so don’t get too hung up on planning and researching to the point that you never write your novel.






Answers below this point were written between 2004 and 2017.

The publishing industry is a constantly changing beast.

The answers below were accurate in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017 when they were written.

However, keep in mind the constant changes in the industry, and remember that while some info may still be relevant today in 2021, other info may now be obsolete.

Rather than take these answers down or change them to match current standards, I am leaving them up as is, so you can compare how industry standards have changed over the years and make note of things which are still considered standard today.













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