WIP Tower of Gates LitRPG Series

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Paul Bellow, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Biggest help is probably no girlfriend and no social life. Heh.

    I outline a lot, so when I sit down to write I know what I should be writing. I should be editing more than I am, probably, but with lackluster sales, it's been hard to pay someone really good.

    I'm gonna flip this back on you, friend.

    I'm really curious as to your process and speeds. I.e. share some tricks? I wanna produce books SLOWER BUT BETTER . ^_^
     
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  2. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Judging by your planning sheet, you're really putting your time to good use. :)

    Man, that is a huge question. Like, the story of the last 15 years of my life. I supposed the simple answer is that we just have really high standards. Our business motto has always been "to be like Blizzard." We only want to produce books that are top-notch and which demand to be read cover to cover in a binge over-nighter.

    Stuff Rachel and I always tell ourselves are things like,
    • "It's late for 6 months but it'll bad forever."
    • "It gets published when it's done and it's not done till it's great."
    • "No weak chapters or scenes allowed."
    We break all the rules of indie publishing. Often times we've only put out 1 book per year. We genre hop all the time. We don't do lots of interviews, blog tours, cross-overs, etc.. We do have a newsletter, but it's not the biggest out there as we only send out 2-3 times a year and we don't push the list hard. We also don't discount a lot either.

    But what we do do is relentlessly pour all our time into making each book to the high standard we are able to. While honing our craft all the time. I mean, we've trunked many completed novels because they weren't good enough. Other indies would have just published them b/c why not? (I have a long ass list of reasons why not and it starts with "branding")

    It's tough and scary to draw a hard line in the sand on publishing quality. We throw away hundreds of thousands of words sometimes and then go drinking in sorrow. But at least we didn't publish a book that wasn't working or which had lots of problems.

    That's what makes us go slow. Rachel writes 8 hours a day 5 days a week and only puts out 2 books a year. She might be a famously fast writer too ^_^ (2kto10k).

    The results speak though. Rachel's very first novel, The Legend of Eli Monpress, is still on shelves in bookstores even though it was published in 2012. (Most NY titles for most authors have a 9-month run before they are pulled.) Every book she's ever published has amazing ratings and glowing reviews. It's because we've made quality the core of our business strat and we've paid the price to get it a thousand times.

    I won't lie, this is hard as f**k to do. Making a quality brand takes oodles of investment time-wise that doesn't make a lot of short-term commercial sense. I had to work a fulltime job for the first 5 years of Rachel's career while she leveled up as an author (her craft but also her readership and backlist). Now, she supports me as I'm leveling up my author self. We're finally getting the ball rolling after 10 years of this.

    IDK if that answers your question or not though. Hehe. Thanks for giving me a chance to talk about it.
     
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  3. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Rachel Aaron here! Trav told me about this and I asked him if I could reply too because WHOA is this my soap box. I take a lot of shit for producing books slowly. This makes sense as most authors know me as "that 2k to 10k lady" (seriously, this is how I'm introduced when I do pannels). If I write 10k a day, how the hell do I not have a million novels out?!

    Well, the answer is that I rework books a lot. As Trav said above, we don't accept "good enough." I'm a perfectionist who takes enormous pride in her work. Even when I was working for a NY house, my editor said I turned in the cleanest manuscripts of all her clients. Some authors just shit stuff out, I can not. I KNOW when a scene isn't my best and it bugs the crap out of me until I fix it. And this is after tons of planning, mind you. Sometimes things that sound great in outline just do not work in the text. When something feels wrong or bugs me, I don't ignore it. I go back and I rewrite that damn scene until I am proud of it.

    This level of analness is absolutely not for everyone, nor do I even think it's necessary for a book to be good. I've read tons of book full of what I would consider bad plot decisions that I gobbled up and loved every second. But this is how I have to write. I just can not STAND when things aren't to the level of quality I know I'm capable of. But while this obsessive behavior has slowed me down (and continues to slow me down), it's translated into a solid gold brand. Because I'd rather throw a book in the trash than publish something I'm not proud of (and I have a lot of bin books), I've earned the trust of my readers. I have thousands of people who know that when they see a Rachel Aaron title, they're going to get something amazing, and even if that title isn't particularly to their taste, they buy it because they trust me.

    That trust is sacred and hard-won, and it's why I've actually gotten even more obsessive about quality as I've gone on. People expect perfection from me. I demand perfection from myself, and I don't publish the book until I get it. I'm not trying to write deathless prose. I'm just trying to write the most damn entertaining and dramatic story I can. Anything less is an insult to the fans who got me here and a disappointment to myself.

    I know this isn't the most commercial decision. I've only put out 6 indie titles since 2014 (7 with FFO, but Trav was the lead author on that). I undoubtedly could have made more money if I'd written two books a year, or more, but I'm not at all unhappy with where I am because those six books are amazing and still sell like gangbusters. I'm proud as shit of my Heartstrikers series. People love those books. They pass them around and force their friends to read them and leave glowing reviews, and all of that leads to more sales. It's the quality over quantity method, and while I got luck a lot of times with Kindle Daily Deals and such, mostly it's just that I wrote a damn good book. Not by chance, but because I relentlessly cut and rewrote all the bits that weren't good until the book was exactly what I wanted.

    Again, I'm not saying this is the only way. I don't actually think it's a good strategy and honestly, I'm amazed it's worked as well as it has. Like Trav said, we break all the rules, but it works for us! Just goes to show that if the common wisdom feels wrong, it might not be wisdom for you. I don't know if I'd recommend my career path to anyone. It's been rough and scary and there were years when I didn't put out a book at all because everything I wrote wasn't good enough, but I don't regret a bit of it. I'm so happy I can say that I'm proud of every book I've written. Not many authors can, and I never intend to be one of them.

    Thanks for letting me bop into your forum and wax poetic! I'll let Trav take back over now!
     
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  4. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    My pleasure, as always!
     
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  5. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 12 (Rogue) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Lol, We wall-of-texted ya... sorry Paul. That was the best question ever though!
     
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  6. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    No worries. I'm glad she was able to drop by for a post! :)

    There's definitely a fine-line between acceptable quality and speed. That said, I think your books will continue to sell well years from now which is a big difference in the long run. You've given me a lot to ponder!
     
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  7. SamuelKKauffman

    SamuelKKauffman Level 12 (Rogue) Roleplaying Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    ...well. I see two books that are both the same, except with different authors. The Land: Predators: A LitRPG Saga (Chaos Seeds Book 7) by Aleron Kong and Tamori Publications, LLC. This is below the quick reply section of this thread as I'm typing this.

    Anyway, to get the thread back on topic, I'll see if I have any money in my Amazon balance to throw your way and read the books that way... then I'll review the omnibus.
     
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