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Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Four: Switching It Up!

Captains ChairBlogAhoy, Mateys!

I know I said I’d be too busy writing novels this summer to post from the Captain’s Chair, but I had a couple of cancellations (i.e. late blog post submissions from lazy ass writers. LAZY FREAKIN’ WRITERS!) and decided to ruminate on a subject that’s been in my head for a bit now.

You see, I’m writing some space opera the next couple of months. I am sure some of you are all like, “Space opera? Jake is going to have lasers and spaceships and aliens and lots of pew-pew action and space blood and space guts!”. Which is a nice thought, but that’s not where this novel is going. It may get there in the next book in the series, but this one isn’t my usual action and blood novel.

I like to call it medieval space fiction. You know, like medieval historical fiction, but in space? Or, better yet, Game of Thrones in space! But maybe not so brutal. And no magic, because space. Yeah, that.

Will there be action? You betcha! Romance? Oh, for sure! Blood? Of course! But it’s not horror and it’s not a thriller. There will be more story and character. And no lasers. Nope. No lasers. This is low tech space, y’all.

With that said, I wonder what my fan base is going to think. Those looking for my brand of action/gore may be doing a little head scratching. I could lose a couple readers. I could also gain some new readers that dig space opera for the intrigue and plot and all that good stuff, but don’t like the heavy gore or action of my other novels.

It’s going to be an interesting trade-off. Time will tell.

I have to say that I really like switching it up. Letting the story unfold and characters breathe without having to horribly mutilate one in each chapter is nice. Again, there will be blood, just not the level of blood in my horror and action novels.

The other part I’m digging is playing with tropes. Space opera, as many have defined it, is essentially fantasy in space. I’ve never really written fantasy. I’ll also be honest and say I don’t read fantasy. At least, not high fantasy. I watch it, but don’t read it. And this may come as a shocker- I don’t really read space opera. Which may be a good thing, in a way, because I don’t have any preconceptions of what I’m supposed to be doing. I get to wing it as usual! Huzzah!

Where does this all leave me? And how does it relate to you as either reader or writer? Where does it leave the folks that read this blog?

Well, it leaves me still writing a novel a month, but with a fresh perspective. I timed this perfectly so I’m kind of taking a gore/horror/action vacation, but still writing books.

As readers, it leaves you with something new to look forward to; a little different style and genre to mix up that Jake Bible goodness.

And as writers, it shows y’all that you don’t have to stay in one genre, one style, one way of writing. You get to switch it up when you want to. Don’t worry about what comes after, just write a great story and let the readers/fans sort it out.

Speaking of sorting it out, I have a bit of medieval space fiction to get back to and make all shiny and new. Or gritty and old. It depends on where this story takes me. We’ll see.

Cheers!

 

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-One: CON!!!

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

Short post today due to deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!

Which segues right into my reminder of last week’s post. I’m looking for guest writers! If you have an idea for a blog post on writing then let me know! You can read the original call to words here.

This week’s post, however, is about something I’m still new to: cons.

Just for full disclosure, I wanted the title of this post to be COOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNN!!!! You know, like a play on Wrath of Khan? Except I quickly realized it looked I was just yelling coon. Probably not the best way to make friends. Why did I share that? So you don’t make the same mistake one day. I’m just looking out for you. The more you know.

But, on to the subject!

Cons. Con is short for convention, if you were not aware. There are a billion of them out there put together on subjects from comic books to steampunk, pop culture to zombie culture. Scifi, horror, romance, adventure, what have you. If there is a fan base then there is a con for it.

Which is pretty cool.

I’ve only attended six cons, four of them local. I’m about to be an invited guest this coming weekend at ConCarolinas. Very cool. Especially since the Guest of Honor is none other than George RR Martin.  There are still Friday and Sunday tickets left, so go get some and come see me.

Why do I do cons? To meet fans, make new fans, make new friends, see old friends, and also to network. As a writer, that is the key right there: networking.

My first con, Horror Realm in Pittsburgh, is where I met a ton of my fellow horror authors I now call friends. It’s also how I got the idea to write Little Dead Man. Which ended up getting me my first agent and is now a Permuted Platinum title ready to be let loose on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and other bookstores come July 15th!

Word.

Without having gone to that con I would never have been directed towards the idea of writing a YA zombie novel. That would have meant I wouldn’t have been signed with Permuted Press and wouldn’t have been contracted to write my Middle Grade scif/horror series, ScareScapes. Or been given the chance to write my new space opera series based on the great English kings Edward I, II, and III (and the Black Prince!). One con got me all of that. After a few years of hard work, of course.

So what will this next con bring me in terms of my career? I don’t know.

What I do know is it will bring me expenses: gas, food, hotel, cost of books to sell at my author table (which wasn’t free, although it was very, very reasonable). Sure, I get to write it all off at the end of the year on taxes, but that money still comes out of my pocket up front. I’d probably do a lot more cons if it wasn’t for the cost.

And that’s the balancing act: what it is worth to my career versus what it does to my bank account.

I’d say, so far, cons have been way worth it, but I read horror stories out there of authors attending cons and the aisles were dead. Or just filled with costumed attendees that aren’t looking to buy anything and really just want to win the cosplay contest. What will ConCarolinas be like? Will I network or will I flounder and lose my shirt? Again, I don’t know.

But I’ll make sure and document the experience for you (pics!) and let y’all know how I thought it went. I’ll get to hang with some awesome folks, take part on some cool panels, maybe sells some books and make some new fans. Who knows? Sky’s the limit!

So be on the lookout for my post-con report! And also be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter so you can get the “live” reporting.

Word.

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man (available July 15th!), and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Six: To Free Or Not To Free?

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

Today’s voyage takes us to the land of the free. No, no, we aren’t going to Sweden. Sorry. Nope, we are going to be talking about giving away work for free. Specifically, the idea that if you give your work away for free it will build your audience and create sales when you finally have something to offer for sale.

Easy topic, right? Yeah…not so much.

How about a little backstory?

*Cue wavy lines and doodleoo-doodleoo-doodleoo sound effects*

One night, as I was riding home from the Contessa’s party, I came upon a horribly disfigured man. This man… What? Oh, wrong backstory. My bad.

I started my novel writing career by giving my fiction away as a free podcast. It was an easy choice for me since I was listening to a lot of free podcast novels. I learned a lot from the trailblazers like Scott Sigler, JC Hutchins, Mur Lafferty, and the other amazing writers in that community.  I was introduced to Evo Terra and Podiobooks.com. There was a sense that something revolutionary was happening with publishing and I wanted to be a part of that.

With the support of some of the above mentioned authors, I was able to get the word out about my podcast novel and soon I had a serious following. It was amazing and I’ll always be grateful to those that gave me a helping hand when they didn’t need to at all. Their help put me on the map.

And my goal, from the start, was to turn the momentum and success of my podcast into a publishing deal. I was able to do that with a small horror press. It was great.

Then ebooks hit.

Wow. The game changed. Everything changed.

I watched the podcast community crumble. Podcasting was no longer the “only” form of distribution for an author trying to break into the publishing world. I watched authors that had been on top, having millions of downloads, hit brick walls.  Some quit, informing their audiences that they were no longer going to give their fiction away for free. They were skewered. It’s the internet, right? You skewer people if they don’t hold up to the expectations you have imposed on them in your brain. That’s what the internet does.

I wasn’t any better. I skewered. Why? Because I had gotten wrapped up in the “cult” of free. That it’s more important as an author to give your audience what they want instead of getting what you want. That your audience has “made” you and you “owe” them free content FOREVER! Okay, okay, I’m going all hyperbolic and exaggerating. It wasn’t that extreme. Well, except that it was, in many ways.

I made a lot of claims, I said a lot of things, I opened my mouth and stuck both feet in. Why? Because I lacked experience and the perspective that comes with that.

So, ebooks. Let’s get back to that.

They hit the world and all of a sudden authors such as myself could immediately publish our novels without waiting for “Big Publishing” to knock at our doors. We could go from podcast novel to published ebook (and print since POD expanded as well) in the blink of an eye. Amazing!

Yeah, not so much. You see, free does not translate into sales. It doesn’t even follow the basic tenants of marketing which is a 10% return on investment (ROI). Let’s say I had 10,000 subscribers per month, which was my estimate at my podcasting peak, then it would stand to reason I’d be able to sell 1,000 ebooks. Right?

Hahahahahahahahaha!

It was more like a 1% ROI. If that. But, hey, maybe I wasn’t marketing well enough. Maybe I wasn’t getting my message out there since so many new writers had entered the podcasting sphere. Maybe I was getting lost in the noise.

Okay, so write the next novel that the listeners are hungry for and get that out there. Bam! Bam? Bam…

Plenty of downloads, almost no books sold. Poop. This free thing was starting to get a little suspect.

So I took a break for a bit. I concentrated on writing ebooks under a pen name in a certain gold rush genre. I sold El Shit Ton of books. It was amazing. Then the rules changed and Amazon screwed up the party. Kinda like back in the ’80’s when the California real estate bubble burst and everyone realized that coke was burning holes in their sinuses. Party over.

Time to dive right back into podcasting! Get that new novel out there and sell, sell, sell! I decided that I’d release the ebook first then podcast the novel to build interest in the ebook. Good strategy. Except it didn’t work. What I was hearing from fans wasn’t, “Great novel! Loved reading it”, but instead I heard, “Are you going to podcast it?” and “I like listening better than reading.” Or “You promised to podcast everything”.

My personal favorite was “By not podcasting this first you don’t give your fans a chance to decide whether they like it or not. I don’t waste money on books I haven’t listened to first for free.”

That’s an honest to God quote.

Huh.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had TONS of dedicated fans that bought my novels. THOSE FANS ARE THE BEST! I still chat with them on my website, on Facebook, on Twitter. Many have become actual friends. Seriously. I won’t list names, but if we’ve interacted in the last week then you are on the BEST list. You know who you are.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, completely the opposite. I am very grateful. For all of the exposure, the friendships made, the connections in the industry, the hard lessons learned. All of it. So very grateful.

Yet, podcasting wasn’t my end goal and I realized it was getting in the way of said end goal. That goal? Get published and be a full time, successful writer. Not a full time podcaster. Podcasting doesn’t pay the bills.  So I quit.

A year ago I walked away from podcasting. It was noticed in the community and I got skewered, just like the others that had quit before me. Many people wrote blog posts, or recorded podcasts, about me quitting and turned that into a rally cry to keep up the FREE! Free, free, free! Anything else but free was treason! TREASON! Again, being hyperbolic here. The treason comments were from a vocal minority. But they were vocal. And they had/have the right to be vocal.

Oh, well, no worries. I now had the time to dive into writing and not worry about podcasting. The shift in focus changed everything. I was no longer a “podcast author”, but a writer. I was no longer beholden to download numbers that meant absolutely nothing. My time was all about words on paper, not words in Garageband.

Why write this huge, rambling post about this?

Because this weekend I cleared out my podcast feed of all free fiction. Wiped every single post away. Instead, my feed will now be dedicated to offering samples of my audiobooks (which fans can buy on Audible, Amazon, iTunes), essays when the mood strikes, and also other offerings. There could be interviews or readings or whatever. I do like the audio format, but it is now a compliment to my writing, just like my Facebook page or my Twitter account or this blog. Another way for me to interact with fans and readers, but not the only way.

I am now a full time writer with contracts in place with two publishers. I crank out a novel a month. Yep. I am a writing machine. And I credit a lot of my success to quitting podcasting and getting my head out of the free model. Not because free is bad, but because it clouded my vision of who I was as a writer and where I wanted to go.

Some of you have been reading this and are saying, “Oh, yeah? Well so and so turned their free novel into a huge publishing deal!” And “Blah blah author is now selling BILLIONS of ebooks a month after giving their work away for free!”

Those are outliers.

In fact, all success in all forms of media are examples of outliers. Let that sink in.

The entertainment industry as a whole is not made up of successes, but of failures. Only an estimated 1 in 400,000 make it in entertainment. That includes agents, grips, editors, cover designers, extras, chorus line dancers, make-up artists, writers, gaffers, etc. You think you’ll be one of those lucky ones? Could be. But there are 399,999 other people that think so as well.

Now, with that all said, am I condemning giving your writing away for free? Hell no! Seriously, I think it’s a great idea! You can build an audience, you can hone your craft, you can meet others and strike up life long friendships. Giving away your writing for free is a fine solution if you are just starting out. Way better than publishing straight to ebook. Don’t do that. Learn first. Get your shit in gear. Get feedback. Become the writer you want to be, not the writer you are trying to be. There’s a difference.

So if you are going the free route, bully on you! Just understand that it is a step and a tool, not a career. And not a cult. Develop a plan for your free works. I have my Friday Night Drabble Party each week. I give away a 100 word story every Friday night. It’s easy to do and it helps me work on ideas I otherwise would let sit or forget about. I dig it. But it only takes up an hour of my time each week. Does it bring new readers/fans? Not a clue. That’s why I look at it from the practice/exercise perspective. It’s as much for me as it is for any readers out there.

And there you go. My experience with free. It won’t be your experience, that’s for sure. We all live individual lives. We all have to choose our paths. Find yours and own it. Own it as in buy it, because nothing in this world is truly free, and if you own that then no one can take it away from you. Or something profound like that.

Cheers!

Oh, shit! I totally forgot to take us out of flashback mode!

*Cue wavy lines and doodleoo-doodleoo-doodleoo sound effects*

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

A professional writer since 2009, Jake has a proven record of innovation, invention and creativity. Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

Z-Burbia audiobook sample!

Want to hear the first chapter of Z-Burbia? Well now you can! Just click play below and you are good to go!

Zburbia_audiobook_cover

Whispering Pines is a classic, quiet, private American subdivision on the edge of Asheville, NC, set in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains. Which is good since the zombie apocalypse has come to Western North Carolina and really put suburban living to the test!
Surrounded by a sea of the undead, the residents of Whispering Pines have adapted their bucolic life of block parties to scavenging parties, common area groundskeeping to immediate area warfare, neighborhood beautification to neighborhood fortification.

But, even in the best of times, suburban living has its ups and downs what with nosy neighbors, a strict Home Owners’ Association, and a property management company that believes the words “strict interpretation” are holy words when applied to the HOA covenants. Now with the zombie apocalypse upon them even those innocuous, daily irritations quickly become dramatic struggles for personal identity, family security, and straight up survival.

Welcome to normal life in Z-Burbia!

Be on the lookout for Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell! Coming soon!

Friday Night Drabble Party!

Well, here we find ourselves again, slave to the Drabble and the Party that it spawns!

Oh, woe to the readers and writers of micro-fiction, for it is they that keep the world boxed in 100 word segments!

For the time of Friday Night Drabble Party is at hand! Glory be to the words that are neither 99 nor 101!

Okay, I’m done.

Tonight I’m going old school with this drabble.

Enjoy!

***

An Ode to HPL

By

Jake Bible

He knew if he waited they would show themselves. He had heard them in the wall, crawling and scratching. The rats.

He had the landlady, Mrs. Controu, place her ear to the wall, but she insisted there was nothing. Nothing? The gall of that woman! He heard them! Heard them even as she offered up her false denial!

She was a part of it, he knew. She had set them to torment his life, to plague him with their scratching, to steal his sleep.

So he waited in the wall; waited for them to come.

But they were not rats.

***

Cheers!

Disclaimer: When dealing with vermin, please consult a professional.

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