dungeons and dragons

Better Writing Through Tabletop RPGs

Everyone asks, how can I become a better writer?

The answers are usually something like: read more books in the genre you’re writing, write as much as you can, get feedback from other writers and readers. Yes, you should do all those things, and they will make you a better writer in general. But something that’s often overlooked (perhaps because it’s incredibly nerdy) is tabletop roleplaying.

RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are amazing tools for focusing the mind on the process of storytelling. By running and playing in an RPG, you’ll develop skills and habits that will make your writing better – or at least easier!

Lying Down with Dogs

It is now 8am in Vancouver, and I think I’ve rewritten chunks of this post at least three times.

Who’s been keeping up with the shenanigans going on in the Hugos? The five second summary is as follows: a couple of straight white dudes took umbrage at the fact that, recently, Hugo awards were being won by stories/books/etc that were not all about straight white dudes, and they took this to mean that Hugos were being handed out based on ideology and diversity rather than merit. So, these white dudes pushed a new slate of stories to be nominated that they felt were more worthy.

These white dudes included a guy who called a respected author a ‘half-savage’, because this author is a woman of color.

Long story short, most of the Hugo nominations this year in various categories are from these slates, either the Sad Puppies list or the Rabid Puppies list. Understandably, everyone else who’s interested in the Hugos is rather upset about the fact that the awards are being gamed by people with an agenda. (The irony inherent in the whole situation is so thick you could cut it with a broadsword.)

Exotic Ebook Formatting

You may have noticed that I finally got my act together and cleaned up the website. My friend Fay was nice enough to lend me one of her themes! I did some edits on it, and I think it came out okay. Being a web designer, my site is always a work in progress.

Anyway – today I’d like to talk about something vaguely related to this – exotic ebook formatting. You can do so much with an ebook! It’s not just limited to chapters, table of contents, that kind of thing. There’s a whole world of things you can add – though it’s really not for the faint-hearted, because this stuff is very temperamental.

facebook advertising

PSA: Facebook Advertising


UPDATE: Added a follow-up here.

For reference, for every author who is considering buying advertising on Facebook – please watch this video first.

Long story short, it’s a complete waste of your money. If you’re considering Facebook advertising as part of your book marketing, remove it immediately. From this point on, we can consider the mechanics of Facebook to be detrimental to actual promotion, due to the way it filters and restricts what users see. Unless you’ve got solid data to show that Facebook advertising is producing sales for you, don’t even spend time on the platform, let alone money.

Essential Free WordPress Plugins for Authors

So, I’d like to follow up my post on WP Themes for authors with something on the best free WordPress plugins. So let’s take a look, shall we?

Unfortunately, these are limited to self-hosted WordPress installs. Sorry, free blog people! Don’t worry though, your WordPress.com blog has enough functionality to start with if you’re not willing to dig into a more complicated setup.

How to Spike Your Book in One Easy Step

First, a little explanation. When I say a book is spiked, I mean the public perception of it has been damaged to the point where very few people will want to buy it. It’s possible to spike your book in a few different ways.

The Cover

A bad cover is one of the worst things that can happen to a story, as I’ve mentioned before. Every author needs to pay attention to their cover, as it’s the main selling tool that people will see on a regular basis. Make it appropriate and well designed, and you’re halfway to a good cover already.

Indie Authors and the Problem of Piracy

In mainstream publishing, there is a definite worry that piracy is looming problem that must be guarded against and ultimately defeated. They fear the so-called ‘Napster-ization’ of their industry, similar to what happened to the music industry and the movie industry and… well, every other industry that produces entertainment. The only difference between publishing and the others is that publishing has been around for hundreds of years, and books provide a lot more entertainment per dollar than, say, a CD.

My opinion¬†is rather different. I do not approve of DRM; it’s a waste of effort, a fool’s game, and ultimately, counter-productive. This is not to say that I approve of piracy, but I don’t disapprove of it either. My stance on it is neutral, and I believe that indie authors have nothing to fear from it.