How can we help you?

Teaching Tutorials

You are here to learn, so allow us to enlighten you.

Some people learn by reading, and others by listening, and still others learn by watching. Everyone is different. Having helpful tutorials is essential to anyone who needs to know exactly how to handle their works.

​Some of the processes of publication are more difficult than others. Tutorials and documents ensure that you will be able to accomplish this task and see it to a finished product. ​We can help you figure out what you're doing and make it easier to get it done. A little help goes a long way.

 

HELP!

I Wanna PUBLISH!

It's difficult enough to create, but publishing is tackling a whole new monster.

Let's make it easier.

Publishing can seem quite intimidating, and indeed, it is not as easy as it may sound at first. One must not mistake publishing for a simple matter of turning a paper in. There are many steps and many ways this can be done.

​Our goal is to simplify this for those interested in diving into the world of published individuals. Whether books, poetry, comics, or other, publishing doesn't have to be so hard. Allow us to make the journey a little easier.

You decide where your path will take you from there.

 

 

Tips for dealing with your publisher.

 

A. Listening to your Publisher.

Your publisher has experience in publishing, if you are a new author, you definitely need to listen to them, read their emails and follow the rules and policies of the publishing company. If you have been published before, so what? ALL COMPANIES run differently, please pay attention to what they are trying to teach you. In the long run you will thank them for the knowledge you gain!

 

B. Waiting on reports. Amazon sends out their royalty reports at end of each month. Your publisher is required to forward on those reports to you. Payment of your royalties are up to the Publisher; most publishers only pay per Quarter increments per the calendar year. You are lucky if you get a payment every month. Most publishers refuse to do that because Amazon only pays them in Quarter of the year increments.

 

C. Most publishers nowadays will use Paypal to pay your or send you a check. Banks are getting real picky about direct deposits to other accounts.

 

D. Keep track of your own business…Writing a book is your business, you are the one to keep track of what is happening, to make sure your edits are done in a timely manner, your book covers are done the way YOU want them to be. Do not feel intimidated by the cover graphics person. It is your book, tell them what you want…but use discretion. Making a cover can be time consuming keep your changes to 4 times. No more, or you will seem toooo picky.

 

E. Educate yourself on being an author. So many times, we hear…

*What do I do to get sales?

*How do I promote my book?

*How do I make an Author Central Page on Amazon, A Goodreads page, A Facebook Group (Street Team) or a Social Media Profile?

>GET ONLINE, GO TO GOOGLE, YAHOO OR use your own search engine. Type in your questions, you will get an answer.

Your publisher does not have time to baby you, take responsibility of your own business which is being AN AUTHOR.

 

F. How to find a reputable publisher.

* Ask an author who has been in the business for more than 2 years

* Research, look them up online

* Be sure the publishing company has been in year for more than two years

* Do not stop at first one who will accept you, DO YOUR RESEARCH, READ THE CONTRACTS, if you do not understand contract, ask someone, or take them to a paralegal or attorney.

 

G. Build your brand.

* You are a business within yourself as an author, make a logo or have one made

* Be friendly on social media, accept friends, join groups, talk and message. Be seen, be known.

* Join authors guilds or attend meetings in your town or the nearest large city.

 

Most publishers these days are not New York Times or USA Today Best-Selling Publishers, do not expect to be the next Stephen King or Ann Rice, You probably won’t get even half that far…BUT…if you try and work and strive to be the best. The sky is the limit.

Your publisher is here to provide a beautifully well written, edited book. They can do only so much to help your books sell. You need to be in charge of making it to #1.

 

Character Building

  1. Make your characters stop and think.
    Introspection is the easiest and clearest way to develop your characters’ relationships. Make your characters think about their bonds; make them challenge their own thoughts and feelings. I love him, but why? What’s the real reason I hate her? What needs to happen, so I can get over this?

  2. Give them strong opinions.
    Some writers seem reluctant to give their characters strong opinions—maybe because we don’t like to seem overbearing ourselves. True, being overbearing may be a flaw, but in fiction, flaws are good. Give your characters flaws that can be fatal. For my series protagonist Rita Farmer, it’s her tendency to lose her temper. Her anger flares, and before you know it she’s doing something she’ll regret. On the other hand, her anger can save her—if it comes up at just the right time. And her fury has much to do with her opinions.

  3. Play a game of risk.
    Make one-character sacrifice or risk something for another. Countless spiritual scriptures, myths, classics and modern tales exploit the heart-clutching moment of a character dying to save others, or for a cause. But equally compelling can be a character merely risking his life for another.

  4. Add a hypotenuse.
    Make triangles. Did you notice something about the relationships I listed earlier? They’re all dyads. Most relationships start out that way, but too often writers stay stuck on dyadic relationships to the exclusion of more complex ones. Consider F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Gatsby’s relationship with Daisy is memorable only because of the huge hulking reason they can’t be together: Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan.

  5. Leverage the group.
    As a writer, you’re a student of human nature. When I was a retail store manager (prior life), I learned that the two games groups like to play the most are Ain’t It Awful and Kill the Leader. People behave differently in groups than they do otherwise, the most obvious and horrifying example being a mob, which is capable of violence far beyond the natural inclination of most individuals because the mob serves not merely as a shield, but as an excuse. The relationships between individuals in a group—whether a clique of three or an organization of thousands—are endlessly varied, shifting and fascinating.

  6. Befriend ambiguity.
    If we wish to write clearly, how can ambiguity be OK? I think Patricia Highsmith is just about the best there is when it comes to harnessing ambiguity in relationships. In her Edgar-winning novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, the relationship between the two main characters is sexually nebulous, and the same goes for her Strangers on a Train.

  7. Tap into the power of a grudge.
    Mythology and folklore are chock-full of motivational grudges, as is life. All of us have probably clung to a grudge against somebody for a while, fantasizing various retribution scenarios, but what kind of personality acts on such an impulse to the point of destructive vengeance? The sort we know too well from true-crime books and “America’s Most Wanted”–type TV: a person whose self-esteem is lower than whale crap, but whose ego is as big as Kilauea. Grudge-holding characters have fueled a diverse range of popular tales, from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

 

  1. Don’t overlook everyday interactions.
    If you own a car and are at all like me, you can drive for hundreds of miles without reacting to the other idiots in their cars. Somebody cuts you off and you shrug or even smile indulgently. But then, one day, something is different inside you. Somebody zooms too close and your anger surges beyond all reason. You want to run him down and flatten him into the pavement. You want to bump his vehicle off a cliff. You want him to pay.

You don’t even know his name.

Yes, a chance encounter with a stranger can be powerful enough to transform a moment, or a day, even to change your life. Just think what you can do in your fiction, with a little planning and imagination.

 

Writing the scenes in your book!

 

Action launches tend to energize the reader’s physical senses. To create an action launch:

1. GET STRAIGHT TO THE ACTION. Don’t drag your feet here. “Jimmy jumped off the cliff” rather than “Jimmy stared at the water, imagining how cold it would feel when he jumped.”

2. HOOK THE READER WITH BIG OR SURPRISING ACTIONS. An outburst, car crash, violent heart attack or public fight at the launch of a scene allows for more possibilities within it.

3. BE SURE THAT THE ACTION IS TRUE TO YOUR CHARACTER. Don’t have a shy character choose to become suddenly uninhibited at the launch of a scene. Do have a bossy character belittle another character in a way that creates conflict.

4. ACT FIRST, THINK LATER. If a character is going to think in your action opening, let the action come first, as in, “Elizabeth slapped the Prince. When his face turned pink, horror filled her. What have I done? she thought.”

 

NARRATIVE LAUNCHES
Writers often try to include narrative summary, such as descriptions of the history of a place or the backstory of characters, right at the launch of a scene, believing that the reader will not be patient enough to allow actions and dialogue to tell the story. In large doses, narrative summaries are to scenes what voice-overs are to movies—distractions and interruptions.

Yet a scene launch is actually one of the easier places to use a judicious amount of narrative summary, so long as you don’t keep the reader captive too long. Take the opening of this scene in Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel How to Be Lost:

The afternoon before, I planned how I would tell her. I would begin with my age and maturity, allude to a new lover, and finish with a bouquet of promises: grandchildren, handwritten letters, boxes from Tiffany sent in time to beat the rush. I sat in my apartment drinking Scotch and planning the words.

The above bit is almost entirely narrative summary, and the only action—drinking Scotch—is described, not demonstrated. There is no real setting, and the only visual cues the reader has are vague and abstract. However, the narrative summary does demonstrate the nature of the character, Caroline—she feels she must butter her mother up, bribe her even, in order to ask for something she needs, which turns out to be a relatively small thing. It reflects Caroline’s tendency to live in her head, and shows us she’s the kind of person who must prepare herself mentally for difficult things—a theme that recurs throughout the book. It’s also useful because Caroline spends a lot of time by herself, cutting herself off from her relationships, and, therefore, it is very true to her personality. In just one short paragraph of narrative summary, the reader learns a lot about Caroline, and Ward gets to action in the next paragraph:

Georgette stretched lazily on the balcony. Below, an ambulance wailed. A man with a shopping cart stood underneath my apartment building, eating chicken wings and whistling.

If the entire scene had continued in narrative summary, it would have had a sedative effect on the reader, and the scene’s momentum would have been lost.

 

A narrative approach is best used with the following launch strategies:

5. SAVE TIME BY BEGINNING WITH SUMMARY. Sometimes actions will simply take up more time and space in the scene than you would like. A scene beginning needs to move fairly quickly and, on occasion, summary will get the reader there faster.

6. COMMUNICATE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO THE READER BEFORE THE ACTION KICKS IN.Sometimes information needs to be imparted simply in order to set action in motion later in the scene. Opening sentences such as, “My mother was dead before I arrived,” “The war had begun” and, “The storm left half of the city underwater,” could easily lead to action.

7. REVEAL A CHARACTER’S THOUGHTS OR INTENTIONS THAT CANNOT BE SHOWN THROUGH ACTION.Coma victims, elderly characters, small children and other characters sometimes cannot speak or act for physical, mental or emotional reasons; therefore the scene may need to launch with narration to let the reader know what they think and feel.

SETTING LAUNCHES
Sometimes setting details—like a jungle on fire, or moonlight sparkling on a lake—are so important to plot or character development that it’s appropriate to include visual setting at the launch of a scene. This is often the case in books set in unusual, exotic or challenging locations such as snowy Himalayan mountains, lush islands or brutal desert climates. If the setting is going to bear dramatically on the characters and the plot, then there is every reason to let it lead into the scene that will follow.

John Fowles’ novel The Magus is set mostly on a Greek island that leaves an indelible imprint on the main character, Nicholas. He becomes involved with an eccentric man whose isolated villa in the Greek countryside becomes the stage upon which the major drama of the novel unfolds. Therefore, it makes sense for him to launch a scene in this manner:

It was a Sunday in late May, blue as a bird’s wing. I climbed up the goat-paths to the island’s ridge-back, from where the green froth of the pine-tops rolled two miles down to the coast. The sea stretched like a silk carpet across to the shadowy wall of mountains on the mainland to the west. … It was an azure world, stupendously pure, and as always when I stood on the central ridge of the island and saw it before me, I forgot most of my troubles.

The reader needs to be able to see in detail the empty Greek countryside in which Nicholas becomes so isolated. It sets the scene for something beautiful and strange to happen, and Fowles does not disappoint.
 

These final three methods can create an effective scenic launch:

8. ENGAGE WITH SPECIFIC VISUAL DETAILS. If your character is deserted on an island, the reader needs to know the lay of the land. Any fruit trees in sight? What color sand? Are there rocks, shelter or wild, roaming beasts?

 

9. USE SCENERY TO SET THE TONE OF THE SCENE. Say your scene opens in a jungle where your character is going to face danger; you can describe the scenery in language that conveys darkness, fear and mystery.

 

10. REFLECT A CHARACTER’S FEELINGS THROUGH SETTING. Say you have a sad character walking through a residential neighborhood. The descriptions of the homes can reflect that sadness—houses can be in disrepair, with rotting wood and untended yards. You can use weather in the same way. A bright, powerfully sunny day can reflect a mood of great cheer in a character.

 

Scene launches happen so quickly and are so soon forgotten that it’s easy to rush through them, figuring it doesn’t really matter how you get it started. Don’t fall prey to that thinking. Take your time with each scene launch. Craft it as carefully and strategically as you would any other aspect of your scene. Remember that a scene launch is an invitation to the reader, beckoning him to come further along with you. Make your invitation as alluring as possible.

 

PUNCTUATION

In my time spent reading the works of other authors, I have noticed punctuation is something not made clear. Even I had trouble with this aspect of authorship, when I shouldn't have. I did not learn this as well as I should have in school, and the way it was taught was confusing, so I completely understand when mistakes happen.

Follow the pictures to the left for books exclusively written for punctuation rules, grammar, style, and everything else you need for good writing skills. To start, let's look at the comma. Widely overused, this mark can make an eyesore from an otherwise fantastic story. First and foremost: If a sentence is followed by another, separate one, but the second does not make sense on its own, that is an incomplete sentence and a comma or semicolon are necessary.

Comma splice - in text:

She stood transfixed, the man narrowed his eyes.

-instead

She stood transfixed. The man narrowed his eyes.
-or
She stood transfixed; the man narrowed his eyes.

In this sense, two separate clauses are bunched together and separated by a comma; this is unacceptable. Making them separate sentences is how you would fix this. On the other hand is a semicolon, which separates separate clauses that have to do with one another. In the above sentence, the man narrowed his eyes in response to the female being transfixed with whatever it is she's looking at, so they do fit together and a semicolon is completely acceptable. In my statement, "widely overused" begins the sentence, and the rest is the ending of the same clause, so the comma, in that case, is not an inappropriate usage and you can rest assured that you didn't do those ones incorrectly.

Comma splice - in dialogue:

"It is of little concern to me what you did, that is all in the past"

-instead

"It is of little concern to me what you did. That is all in the past."

-or

"It is of little concern to me what you did - that is all in the past"

Notice a semicolon was not expressed in this case. Semicolons and colons are not to be used in dialogue at all, and are replaced by an ellipsis or em dash, depending on style and context. This is held true in the Chicago Manual of Style and punctuation manuals regarding literary works where a character has dialogue. The rest of the break of a comma splice follows with regular text.

Comma in excess.

This is something many people have a hard time with, as it can add emphasis to a situation, but consider use of an ellipsis in place of a comma in some places to break apart the excessive use, or consider not pausing at all. Also consider making each seaparated portion into a new sentence with new descriptive sentences to enhance the current written text. In any case, reduce them. Sometimes less is more.

 

 

Promotional Facts

Promotion of works is essential for both novice and veteran.

Promotion is the single most powerful tool for one of the craft. It matters not what craft you choose but choosing a promotional platform can be a daunting task.

It brings us great joy in assisting you.

The step toward publicity of works is the only way in which one can make something good into something great. One brick at a time, you can build yourself an empire. The key to this is to have the right foundation. This is where companies which offer promotional services comes in.

Once you've chosen your team, let them take the reins and lead you to success.

 

 

Covers and You!

Your cover may very well be your most important marketing tool, and the one you can't afford to get wrong. My advice to any new writer is to prepare to invest in a good graphics arts person when your book is ready to go to publishing.

Email us for information on Graphic Artists: genscholl@southernowlpublications.net

© 2023 The Journalist.

Book Research

The best ways to research ideas and information for your books.