Author: E. Prybylski

Moving Website Hosting!

Hello everyone! I’m changing website hosts this week, so if you want to continue to follow me, you’ll have to re-follow my blog when that happens. I will be letting everybody know a few times so there’s no surprise.

My URL will still be ThirteenCentsShort.com, so that won’t be changing for the foreseeable future. I’ll also be updating this site to reflect the change when it happens (it may be a few days before the domain change goes through), so don’t be dismayed. I’m not leaving you; I’m just switching website hosting.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Productivity for Writers

Productivity for Writers

First, before all else, I want to share the announcement that my novel, “Fallen” is up for pre-order on Amazon. I could not be more excited, to be honest. After a decade on the publishing side of the writing world, I am finally entering it as an author. I’ve put out a bunch of short stories over the years, but this is the first novel that’s seeing public release. I still can’t quite believe it’s true. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy then my novel may be of interest to you.

Let me start by saying I am not the most productive individual in the world. I’m just not. Being disabled and having ADHD makes it difficult to get everything done that I want to get finished. That’s just a reality I have to deal with, however, there are some techniques that work for me, and they’re things that I think would for anyone. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this intro because I know you’re here for the tips.

#1: Set Aside Time

I know this sounds like it’s just basic advice, but it’s true. If you want to be a writer as a profession, you have to set aside time for it. Just like any other work. It doesn’t have to be constant or excessive, but making time for this is important. For me, I don’t tend to do much personal writing during the week because I am working on other people’s writing most often. So I give myself weekends. For some people it’s getting up at 5am for a few hours of quiet before they have to wake up the kids for school. Look at your schedule and see when you can give yourself some time to get words on the page. There’s no right or wrong here other than ensuring that you leave space. If it’s fifteen minutes or three hours, you are still creating the space.

 

#2: Set Goals

These goals don’t have to be huge. It could be “write for one Pomodoro” or “write 1,000 words.” It may be “finish one chapter.” Whatever your goals are, create reasonable and achievable goals that you can put down. You can even break them into categories, like with NaNo. The goal with NaNoWriMo is to write 65k words in a month. That means you have to break it down into a certain number of words per day. While you can gain or lose ground each day, you still are sprinting toward that goal.

Now, I’m not saying you need to write 65k words a month every month. Honestly, I think that leads to rushed writing and poor story craft a lot of the time. However, I can  write a first draft in 3-6 months. Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re reasonable and attainable. Also, they must be attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. It’s important to recognize that life happens, and sometimes writing just has to take a back seat to whatever is happening.

#3: Accountability

When in doubt find a partner or group. My Discord Community has a channel for folks to put up their plans and goals, and we celebrate when people achieve them. Things like this can be key for folks who need the extra push to get things done. It’s like having a gym buddy. It’s easy to say “I just don’t feel like it” when it’s just you. But when you’ve got a gym partner who is encouraging you, our brains will engage and be less likely to cancel. Writing (and most art) can be the same. If you know people are waiting on you and are looking for your efforts, then it’s easier to tell the lazy parts to STFU.

#4: Boundaries

This is particularly important for authors who have families, but you have to make your writing time sacred. If anyone thinks that your writing time means you’re free to do things, they need to be informed otherwise. It’s incredibly important to create that space and enforce it. This can be difficult when you have children or a partner who need things, but if they know that you’re going to be writing at “x” time every day for “x” time period, they can learn to leave you alone. This also means boundaries for yourself: don’t give in to the temptation to answer that text message, work e-mail, or check Facebook. That doesn’t do you any good and will pull you out of the headspace immediately.

#5: Breaks From Social Media

I know, I know, this sounds extreme, but it works. I do my best writing at my family’s remote cabin in New York where there is no internet, no television, and no cell service. It’s quiet there, and I can really zero in on my writing. The digital world, as much as I love it, is distraction city. Particularly for anyone with focus issues (like me). There are constant notifications on my phone, people messaging me on various apps, and this feeling that I need to reply to things now.

It isn’t true.

Taking a break from social media for weeks at a time has taught me that, absent emergencies, there’s nothing I need to reply to now. If there is an emergency, of course I’m on deck. But if it’s just a meme or a work email that could wait until later to answer? I’ll deal with it then. Much similar, you should structure your writing time as a social media dead zone. Turn off data on your phone, close your web browser (unless you’re using it for music, in which case, hit “play” and then minimize it and leave it there), and let yourself write. I’d also suggest limiting social media when you first wake up or right before bed. It doesn’t really help anything, and you could use that time to read or schedule out your day or do yoga or whatever it is you feel like doing in that space.

#6: Change Your Mentality

If you want to be an author as your day job, that means you need to treat it as that: your job. This includes viewing your writing time as a professional space, not just fun time. Once you make the choice to publish your work, you are no longer a hobbyist writer but a professional one (even if you aren’t yet making money). This means that your work is professional development, and you should take it with the same seriousness you take anything for your day job.

The uncomfortable reality is that if you don’t treat your writing as a business it will never be more than a hobby, no matter how many books you publish. With that in mind, your writing time is work time. That scheduling I mentioned earlier? Those boundaries? This is your job. You wouldn’t just let your family come charging in if you work from home. You wouldn’t get up and wander off to watch TV if you were working from home. (Or at least I’d hope you wouldn’t.)


The theme here you may have noticed is that you need to treat this as work. Writing is a wonderful creative thing. I love writing, and I love writers. There’s nothing I will be more excited about than talking to writers about their writing. Truly. However, the reality is that too few of us view this as a vocation and too many see it as just a thing we do in our spare time that we halfheartedly hope will make us money. To quote the indomitable Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Fallen Friday: COVER REVEAL! (and sample chapters)

Fallen Friday: COVER REVEAL! (and sample chapters)

This week I am using my “Fallen Friday” to do something a little different. Since we are creeping up on the release date (January 13, 2022), I am taking this time and space to share a first peek at my cover and first two chapters!

In case you haven’t seen me screaming from the rooftops on social media, my novel, Fallen, is an urban fantasy story about a fallen angel, a murder, and a demon.

Blurb:

A newly-fallen angel accused of murder, Cassiel must save an elven girl and face demons—both literal and personal. She knows she isn’t the best person for the job, but she’s the only one who can do it.

The police are ill-equipped to handle demons, even with magic, and time is running out. Cassiel and her friends—a disabled human veteran, a reformed elven gangbanger, and an ex-marine orc—face the hardest fight of their lives.

This fast-paced urban fantasy adventure is the first novel in the “Smoke and Magic” series, set in modern Boston, MA. If you are looking for a new voice in Urban Fantasy, look no further than “Fallen.”

Cover design by Angel Leya.

To claim your free sample, please click the link below and sign up for my newsletter!

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

What It Means To Be An Author

What It Means To Be An Author

Being an author is more complicated than just writing a novel, uploading it to Amazon. Sure, those are a part of the process, but authorship means more than just being somebody who typed a whole lot of words in a more-or-less coherent order. It, in fact, means more than just pitching your book to agents and publishers. All of those things are important and necessary to the process, but they’re pieces of a bigger whole.

Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure. You have a brand. You have the weight of authority. This means you’re also an expert, as much as you might not want to be or feel qualified to be. Don’t let that go to your head, though. You’re an expert about your book series and maybe about creative writing.

Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure.

E. Prybylski

Being an author also means you need to maintain that public-facing image. Which means marketing, acting appropriately in your public spaces, sharing parts of your life with the world (not all of it, but some), and so on. You are an author, not just a private citizen.

We have all dreamed of being Stephen King or Anne McCaffrey or Neil Gaiman as far as our readership goes. But what does that mean for us as a person? Are we prepared for being, well, famous? I’m not claiming any of us here are going to be those people, of course, but assuming we do get a following and get known, it will mean we live in the limelight to some degree or another. Things we say and actions we take will have weight to them, and people will see us and judge us. Is that something you’re prepared for?

Do you know what your author brand is yet? Have you thought that through and figured it out? Do you know what it means? These are all considerations you need to make and conversations with yourself you need to have. That isn’t to say you should quit now if you don’t like the idea of walking the red carpet because chances of us ending up there are slim. But you need to be honest with yourself: is that something you want?

If it isn’t, it’s okay to write as a hobby. Many people do it and love it. They write because it’s what they’re passionate about, regardless of any desire to publish. I fully and wholeheartedly encourage such endeavors. However, to those who are looking at the journey to the next steps, that means you have to be an author.

When considering what I wanted to do with my life, being an author was always the top of my list. It was: author, veterinarian, and then farmer. In that order. At least when I was a kid. As I grew up, my priorities changed, but being an author was always at the top of my list. However, when I started understanding what publishing really entails, I realized that dream was more complicated than it sounded as kid.

Even after going to business school, I didn’t make the connection between authorship and business. Nor did I until I started working in the industry. I read Dan Poynter’s books and came to realize and internalize that as much as writing is an art, publishing is a business. That reality clicking in my brain triggered a series of changes. For one, I started this blog.

The last decade has been a slow gathering of steam toward becoming the author I have dreamed of being since I was a child. That also means growing comfortable in front of people. Even if I only share a portion of myself with my fans (thinking about having fans gives me all sorts of feelings I can’t quantify), I do have to share. Which meant deciding what to share and how vulnerable to be.

These are decisions all of us authors have to make. How much to share, when, and with whom is an important part of deciding what our plans for the future are going to be. That, and leaning into the fact that when we are acting as our authorly selves (as opposed to the us that we are in private) we need to be “on.”

This may feel like it’s disingenuous, but I’m not suggesting you lie. However, I can tell you with certainty that, as a musician, the me on stage performing is a different me than the one who is curled up in their cozy PJ pants writing this blog. (My PJ pants have pictures of sheep on them and say, “I love shleep.”) Any performer will have an on-stage and off-stage difference, and we as authors must do the same with our public-facing media. Sure, still be you, but be a more focused, polished, professional you.

[Authors] treat their social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think how their target audience might receive what they say.

E. Prybylski

It’s a mistake I see many authors make—particularly indie ones. They treat their author social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think about how their target audience might receive what they say. I’m not saying you can’t have opinions and use your author platform to speak about them, but doing so mindfully will help you avoid a lot of misery in the future. Once your name becomes associated with something, you will likely never get out of it again. (wild gesticulation to JK Rowling’s behavior).

I’m working on a course that will be available through my website to help you, as a writer, explore what authorship means to you and help you craft your author identity, though it may be a bit since I’ve never made a course before. PowerPoint is, by far, not my area of expertise, that’s for sure! But do keep an eye out for that and several other courses that I am going to be launching in the upcoming months as I gear up for my book launch in January.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Guest Post: Chrystele Myriam

Guest Post: Chrystele Myriam

Hi, it’s E! This week I have a guest post by the lovely Chrystele. We are doing a blog exchange, so you can find my post over on her blog: https://www.chrystelemyriamuni.com/bleedingink.

Hi! Hello everyone! My name is Chrystele, and I am so happy to be here with you guys for this blog swap! I wanted to thank E. for choosing me to do this! I think it’s great to be able to read about people’s side of experiences or stories, so this idea of a blog swap or collaboration is very interesting.

I’m French, but I write in English. As weird as it may sound, words come easier in English than in French, but trust me, in the beginning it was not the case! I wrote an article about why I write in English and not in French, but this time I wanted to dive in more about how I manage to keep my work (whether it’s my blogs or my books) as structured as good as I can. I’m a perfectionist, so I really look at details (sometimes too much, to be fair with you). But as I look back on my work, what I thought was perfection is far from it. It lacked a lot of things. For instance, my stories only had dialogue and not enough narrative. There was no explanation, no way to know who was speaking, and of course a lot of typos.

It took time, of course. Like everything that you are learning, you need time to master it. Writing is an art, and art is something that you get better at the more you do it. It’s something that you put your heart and soul in it, but sometimes you let your head get in the way and think that you are not enough. Most of the time, you just need either help or more practice, or both.

Writing is an art, and art is something that you get better at the more you do it.

Chrystele Miriam

What really helped me with my writing was reading. I used to only read in French, so my vocabulary in English wasn’t wide enough for me to write something that wasn’t full of repetition and errors. So, I started to read in English, and now (long story short) I am losing my French, and I have to force myself to read in French… Ah, irony, my sweet friend.

What I would suggest would be to have a beta reader. Having someone with fresh eyes and different ideas and reading experience than you can help you see mistakes that you didn’t in the first place. No matter how many times you read your work, there is one typo that will just get through the cracks…I can’t tell you how many traditionally books I have read that had typos! Writing takes time. It’s something you need to be patient with. I’m not much of a patient person. When I finish a project that I am proud of, I just want to share it with the whole world! That was my main mistake with my debut works: I posted it as I wrote it. I am doing it today again, for one of my short stories on Wattpad, but this time it’s on purpose. It’s a way for me to have fun. Maybe one day I’ll really work on this story and publish it, but for now it’s not in the projects.

If it’s something you want to publish and promote and talk about, it has to be something clean, clear, and proper. And by that, I mean it has to make sense. Not just to you, but to your audience. Avoid typos as much as possible. As I said, there is always going to be one that goes through, but the lesser, the better. Target your audience. If you want a general audience, I suggest to not over complicate it. If you have a specific audience, you can go into more technical terms and such. You have to consider who you’re going to write for. Otherwise, your work will indeed be out there, but it won’t be seen.

Re-reading your work is the key. I cannot tell you how many times I have read one of my works in progress to the point where I could no longer stand it…That is why I took a break from writing it. Which takes me to another point: do not be afraid to stop for a while. Sometimes when you’ve been at it for too long and too much, you might lose interest or you will block or you just might feel like you don’t want to write the story anymore. There is not a right amount of time for how long it takes to write a book (or any piece for that matter). It is totally okay to stop for a while, and you might even have a great result by coming back to it after. You will be able to see some typos or some details missing or not making sense. You might even have an idea for something that you would just crash on.

Do not be afraid to have many versions of one book. The work in progress I talked about earlier has had five different versions. The first draft will never be perfect. It’s where you discover your world, your characters. It’s where you dump your ideas. I use the first draft as a way to put every idea that I have for the story in, build the universe, the main events and such. I do not focus on the details on the first draft. I use the second draft to work on the timeline now that the main events are worked out. I have to make them make sense, avoid any plot holes, or events having different dates. I work on the details in between — the body of the story. I write a bit more about the characters. My second draft is really where I dive into the story. The third draft is where I care about the typos. I change some things such as chapters or how and when characters are introduced. Most of the time the third draft for me is the final one, but it can be more.

The bottom point of all this is: writing takes time, and it’s not easy. Asking for help is not making you a lousy writer. Imposter syndrome is hard and cruel, but trust me when I say that we’ve all been there. A second opinion or even a third won’t hurt you. It might do you good. All I can tell you is: No matter how easy it is to get lost in this process and terrifying side of being a writer, never forget why you write and why you love to.

Fallen Friday: ADHD and Writing

Fallen Friday: ADHD and Writing

I don’t talk about it much, but I have ADHD pretty significantly. I hide it really well because while my mother has always been incredibly accepting of it, my father wasn’t. My mom has it, so she gets me. My dad? Not so much. He thought it was a matter of discipline. And all I could ever do was disappoint him and everyone else by not living up to my potential.

As an adult who has their own decisions to make and who is no longer at the mercy of anyone else’s judgment, I have been starting to peel back the layers and really consider how my ADHD affects my life. Since writing is such a big part of my life, I’ve been considering it in that context, too.

So, what does it mean for me as a writer? How has having ADHD shaped my writing? Well, I can tell you this: there are at least three things I’ve noticed that are–wait, no. Four. Four things that are related to it.

  • I like to start sentences with prepositions because my thoughts often start in the middle.
  • When I am not starting with prepositions (or sometimes when I am) my sentences are very long because they wander.
  • I tend to write shorter paragraphs than many writers because I prefer to get in, get out, and be done. This also translates to shorter chapters.
  • Description and I are iffy bedfellows. I tend to not write much of it because so often I’m deeply focused on the action (the “interesting” part) and ignore everything else.

Now, none of these things are inherently bad. Starting sentences with prepositions is acceptable behavior these days, even if it makes my editor twitch a little. She’s learned to tolerate it so long as I am not doing it excessively enough to be a problem. Which I appreciate! Having really long sentences, on the other hand, is less helpful. Because my thoughts wander, sometimes my sentences do, too. Wandering sentences doesn’t help readers with comprehension, so I have been trying to learn to reign that in.

However, recognizing these things about myself means I can choose to keep or discard them as needed. Also, understanding how my brain works means I can treat it well. I’ve always known I had ADHD, but I have spent most of my thirty-six years pretending I didn’t. It hasn’t gone particularly well for me. Everything from my work to my school to my personal relationships has suffered. I have been able to make things work, mostly, but meeting this challenge rather than hiding from it also means I can stop working as hard.

That isn’t to say I am giving myself carte blanche to be lazy, but if I set myself up for success using methods designed for neurodivergent people, I’m more likely to succeed than if I try and follow the path for neurotypical folks. As the famous saying goes, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” (Albert Einstein)

It’s time for me to stop climbing trees. No, really, my knees don’t like it so well anymore, and the last time I did, I had trouble getting down.

Coming to this understanding about myself also explains a few things. First, it explains why I am so religious about keeping an outline and putting one together. Writing a story bigger than a flash fiction off the seat of my pants results in disaster because I cannot get anything done without at least having a general idea of where I’m going. My novel will change thirty times while I’m writing it if I don’t come up with parameters. Of course, this can lead to the opposite problem where I plan everything and don’t want to write it because I’ve over-planned.

The sweet spot is to use things like the Beat Sheet and the Snowflake Method to come up with a basic road map that has destinations I need to hit but provides me freedom in how I get to those points. I might know roughly where I’m going on the journey, but if I veer off into the weeds because I need to visit the World’s Biggest Ear of Corn, then, well, I can do that without getting entirely lost.

Having ADHD also means that just sitting down to do the writing can be a challenge in and of itself. There are times when, if I’m wrestling with something, I cannot keep my brain on the work. Then there are others where I’ll get up, have some tea, jot down some ideas, and when I look up again it’s midnight and I’ll have written 10k words. There’s no in between, which is something I’m trying to teach myself.

I cannot change the fact that I have ADHD. I can take medication (though I often don’t because if I drink much tea with it, I end up with heart problems), learn to trick my brain into playing nice, or do other such things, but there’s only so much I can do. I’m not neurotypical, so I will always be a square peg in a round hole. I was called that a lot in school because I just didn’t study/work/learn like other students did.

Nobody ever questioned that I’m smart. I just heard that old chestnut that I wasn’t “applying myself.” Nobody could tell how hard I was working or how much I was trying except my mother because she got it. So this is me more or less coming out, in a way. I am here, I am neurodivergent, and I am sick of hiding it and pretending otherwise because it hasn’t helped my life.

Instead, it’s time for me to live my truth and learn how to be who I am rather than blaming myself for who I am not and acting as though that will somehow solve my problems. Because, obviously, punishing myself for not being something or someone different hasn’t gotten me very far.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

The Realities of Author Life

The Realities of Author Life

In case you don’t know, I’ve been in the publishing industry over a decade and worked for two small indie publishers and done editing work for many self-published authors as well as several larger writing websites (now defunct). Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a decade, but when I look back and realize how much time has gone by, my brain hurts, and I my joints ache. I don’t like to feel old. So I try to ignore it. However, this week’s blog is germane to that experience, so I get to own up to my age for once and lean into it.

On average, publishers invest about $10,000 in your book and in you when they pick up your book. That is almost as much as an in-state four-year college degree in some states. (At least according to Business Insider’s metrics based on 2020’s numbers). If you are self-publishing, you may end up paying a similar amount in editing, cover design, formatting, ISBNs, distribution, and marketing. That number comes both from personal experience as well as Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual (a book I recommend to all authors).

You don’t necessarily have to spend that much money on a book to publish it well if you have some skills, access to well-priced editors and cover designers, and so on. But that isn’t an unrealistic number as far as investment goes. That said, some of that investment may be in billable hours you put in rather than just in money out of your bank account, and it doesn’t count the time you spent writing your story or revising it.

While I cannot speak for every publisher (some out there just slap books out without much attention and likely do not invest that kind of time or money into their authors), I can certainly speak to myself when I say that this kind of relationship is an investment. I am putting my money where my mouth is and betting that you can earn back what I’ve put into your book.

There is this insidious mythology out there in the writerverse that once your book is picked up by a publisher (or you self-publish), you no longer need to do anything except sit back, bask in your own genius, and rake in the profits. Unfortunately, that cannot be further from the truth. In fact, being picked up by a publisher is just step two in your author journey. What it means is someone thinks your book is good enough to invest in.

If you are writing a book with the intent to publish, you are embarking on a business journey.

E. Prybylski

If you are writing a book with the intent to publish, you are embarking on a business journey. You are, in some ways, an entrepreneur. Moreso if you are self-publishing. While, yes, you can write for fun and invest nothing and hurl your book at Amazon for friends and family, if you want to really live those dreams of being famous and having anyone care about your writing outside of your nearest and dearest, it is hard work. Worse, it is hard work that has nothing to do with writing.

Publishing a book is, to a lot of authors, this mythical unicorn in a forest they imagine they can catch just by writing the next world’s greatest novel. Writing your book is good, but it’s just the beginning.

If you are going to go into the business of authorship, you need to be prepared to do a lot of miserable leg work. For example, I spent twelve hours yesterday sniffing out bloggers who read books in my genre and adding nearly two-hundred of them to an Excel spreadsheet so I can track my pre-release review requests. This list is available if anybody wants it; I don’t mind sharing. But these reviewers are mostly geared toward Urban Fantasy, so you’ll want to make sure your book fits into what they read.

That kind of work doesn’t fit with how many people view their life as an author. It was exhausting and tedious, but it was also necessary. My book doesn’t come out until January 13th, 2022 (which is Make Your Dream Come True day, for those curious about why I chose that day), but I am going to be starting to send out review copies in November and have already approached a few reviewers who have said they are booked six months out and require in-advance registrations. (That was a nail-biter for sure.)

In addition to that, I’m in talks with a fellow author and friend of mine, Dr. Joe Weinberg, to get my podcast back up and running as the two of us having chats about writing-related subjects a few times a month. I also write these blogs which are, make no mistake, a form of marketing. That said, I like to think I give enough value in what I have to say that I’m not hammering anyone over the head with “PAY ME FOR STUFF.” Which is kind of the point.

My life–outside of my editing and publishing work for other people–is full of scheduling blog posts, making graphics for said scheduled blog posts, networking on social media, reaching out to blogs/podcasts/vloggers/bookstagram to see who might want to collaborate, interview me, have me write a guest post, or review my book, and studying my social media metrics.

All of that, and I don’t even have a book out yet.

Which isn’t to say this is an all day every day sort of thing; I typically write and edit my blog posts in about an hour each. Sometimes I really get into the groove and write an entire month’s worth in an afternoon and get all of that out of the way so I don’t have to think about it for awhile. Or, if I am going to be traveling (like I am in early September for my wedding anniversary), I plan things in advance so content gets created while I’m gone. I also spend about 20 minutes of targeted networking time on social media a day. I don’t limit myself to one platform and am still feeling out where my target audience is. I think it’s probably Twitter, but I will be honest that I haven’t really started to hit Instagram yet and need to start working on my branding there.

Most of my marketing efforts I set aside to do in small chunks every day, but an ambitious or busy individual may take one day a week and put them all in there (scheduling social media posts for when they aren’t around, for example). I know several authors who operate that way, including my dear friend Jayce Carter who writes delicious erotic romance, if that’s something you’re into reading. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Also, she’s just a delightful human being.

All in all, if this sounds like an awful lot of work, you’re getting the idea. It is. What you’re doing is launching a business like any other. You have a product to sell, and you have something you want the world to see. Even if you did manage to write the next world’s greatest novel, if nobody knows you exist, they can’t read it.

Even if you did manage to write the next world’s greatest novel, if nobody knows you exist, they can’t read it.

E. Prybylski

Even Raymond E. Feist, author of the Riftwar Cycle and man who has sold more than fifteen million books, told me that when he started out as an author, he was beating feet around his downtown in the 1980s, approaching local bookstores and trying to sell his wares. His publisher didn’t do that work for him, and he didn’t gain his fame overnight. He was very frank about the fact that marketing is necessary for authors, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. (Also, he’s a super nice guy and tries to reply to everyone on his social media.)

Author life is more than book signings, events, speaking engagements, and sitting alone with your whiskey at 3am while you wrestle with your words. Any lingering idea that you can just “make it” without marketing yourself or putting in the un-glamorous backend work is a lie authors are telling themselves and each other. While, sure, lighting could strike, you also could win Powerball. The odds are about the same.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Fallen Friday: Magic

Fallen Friday: Magic

So I’ve talked some about the angels and demons and their hierarchy in the setting, since a large part of the story centers around them, but I haven’t talked a ton about non-celestial magic. Which I think is a shame.

While the series is focused on the celestials a lot of the time, there are going to be a number of POV characters in future books who use arcane magic, which is a different thing. This may change when I write it all out, but the way I have magic set up is that it is set up into a few categories and sub-categories. There’s some crossover between them, but I haven’t figured how much or exactly how.

Without further ado, these are the current categories of magic I have set up:

  • Celestial
  • Arcane
  • Primal
  • Glamour

Celestial magic is used by angels and demons, arcane magic is used by most everything else, and glamour is used by the fae races (which is a significant category of species from sidhe to sluagh). A caster of each type doesn’t tend to have much crossover into other types absent a multi-species individual (half fae, half elf, for example). However, some angels and demons are capable of using arcane magic powered by celestial powers. Primal magic is used by creatures such as therianthropes who can shapeshift at will but aren’t typically “casting” magic exactly. While it’s a process that involves it, the magic is innate and limited.

Magic also comes in several types: channelled, invoked, and ritual. Channelled magic is just magic someone uses without “casting a spell” more or less. Again, to pull up the therianthropes, they just do it. Invoked is typically what most folks think of when they think “casting a spell.” It would be a word, a geture, or something of that nature driven by intent and manifested as an exercise of will. It typically requires training of some kind, even if someone is born with the innate talent to cast it. This is more the D&D type spellcasting where you cast “shield” or “Tasha’s Hideous Laughter.” Things like that.

Finally there’s ritual magic. Since magic is inherent to most things in the world, almost anybody can do ritual magic even if they aren’t casters. They also most often use ritual magic for utility things like powering street lights, handling heating and cooling, or various other such applications. With ritual magic, a lot of the time, the power is in the ritual itself. The downside is that rituals have to be performed exactingly. A mistake can result in catastrophe. Or, at the very least, the caster being pink and lime green polka-dotted for awhile. Which is a fashion catastrophe if nothing else.

For small magic, sigils are a common tool. They channel small amounts of energy. Some individuals get sigils tattooed on their joints to help channel energy, like a built in heating pad. Others use them as light switches and so on. Their uses are various and sundry. Not everyone uses them or is educated on it, but they’re common enough that folks more or less expect them in places and is familiar with it.

On a more writerly side of things, I went with magic being mundane in this series because I don’t see too many series of books, TV shows, etc. that have that element. The only one I can really think of where magic is commonplace and everyone knows it is Avatar: the Last Airbender which has a very different take on it than I do. Do you know of any series like that? Tell me about them in the comments!

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Five Conversations To Have With Your Editor

Five Conversations To Have With Your Editor

I know, I know. I don’t like the “clickbait-ey” titles, either, but this just sort of fit with the message this week, so I hope you’ll indulge me the headline. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Twitter lately (which is where I tend to hang out, @ehprybylski) and on various other places sharing horror stories authors have about editors they paid money to who either made the manuscript worse or who didn’t do the job the author needed. Some of this is dealing with preditors (spelling intentional), but sometimes it’s because the author didn’t have some very important conversations with their editor before starting that journey.

As with anything you’re going to be spending thousands of dollars on, it’s a smart choice to have some conversations with the person you’re paying to make sure they know what you want and to ensure you both have the same image in your mind of what the finished product looks like. Not talking to your editor about your needs and desires for your book is like not telling the contractor you hired to paint your house what shade of blue you want. There are a lot of variations in that hue, so you need to be more specific than just “blue” or else you’re probably not going to get the one you want. Nobody will be happy.

1) What Kind Of Editing You Want

This is a very important discussion because it tells the editor what exactly you’re looking for. It’s okay if you come to the table not knowing what you want, but if you hire an editor without discussing what kind of editing they’re doing, you might end up spending a whole lot of money for a type of editing you weren’t after. I don’t want to take up a huge amount of the blog by explaining the different types of editing here, but my editing website details the different types of editing if you want more information on them.

A number of the “this editor sucks” posts I’ve seen were because authors either didn’t understand what editing entails (hint: it’s more than just punctuation and grammar!) and had their expectations shattered or because the editor did a different kind of editing than the author expected entirely and didn’t do what they needed. That isn’t to say that a large number aren’t just bad editors–that’s definitely a thing that happens–but clear communication about the scope of work is important.

2) Does That Editor Have Experience In Your Genre

This is an important question to ask your editor before you start work with them–particularly for newbie editors. If the editor has no experience in your genre, and you’re hiring them to do a developmentla edit, you are probably not talking to the right editor for you. While I feel confident that I could do a line or copy edit on most genres, I certainly wouldn’t touch a developmental edit that’s outside the genres I work in (spec. fic., romance, YA) without a clear understanding with the author. I have a friend who wants to hire me to work on her non-fic book, and she really wants to have me work on it. I’ve been clear that I’m not an expert on that, but she’s not getting something she isn’t prepared for.

An editor with no experience in your genre won’t know the genre tenants and may end up doing damage to your book. If a speculative fiction editor is thrown neck-deep into a self-help book, they will have no idea how to structure the flow of chapters or when to give what advice. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable with it at all and would not be the right editor for the job.

3) How To Reach Your Editor

This is a thing I’ve dealt with before. I actually have a clause in my contract about it. Most editors abhor phone calls. We are insular beasts who like email both because there’s a record of the conversation (which can be important) and because having things detailed in writing lets us refer to them later. And we’re antisocial mole people. (At least I am. Hiss.) However, some editors are okay with phone calls at specific times or will allow “x” number per contract.

Knowing how your editor prefers to be contacted will mean you won’t ruffle feathers with them by using the wrong method and jarring them out of their work. I’ve also had clients who have boundary issues and liked to call me at 10pm and talk for hours. Every. Day. As much as I liked the person, that really made it hard to work, and it meant that my personal life was taking a hit. Also, they were in a differet time zone which meant for them it wasn’t calling particularly late in the evening, but for me it was the time when I turn into a potato and play video games and am thoroughly done with work. (See antisocial mole people.)

I am fine with authors contacting me on Discord or (for some select folks) Facebook Messenger. Some editors only want to contact their clients through email because they prefer to keep all their professional communique in one place. As such, it’s wise to know how your editor prefers to function.

4) Understand The Scope Of Work

Ah, the good ol’ scope of work, the archenemy of “scope creep.” This is a common issue I see between editors and authors. Without a clearly-defined scope of work between author and editor, it can end up in frustration for both parties when the editor is quite sure the job is finished and the author feels like they didn’t get their money’s worth. Many editors will have a scope of work clause in their contract, and it’s a wise thing to put together.

What this means is that the time, energy, and scope of the edits are defined before work begins. How many passes through the manuscript the author receives for the fee they are paying, how many phone calls/emails you get through the process, how many revisions an editor is willing to make to a final document, whether or not the editor provides an editorial letter detailing their thoughts on the manuscript (most do), and what have you. If you know in advance what the editor is going to do, it creates structure and boundaries for the relationship so the author knows what to expect and the editor is not subject to endless future emails of, “a reader found a typo on page 15, and I’m mad about it.”

I’ve seen emails like that before. No manuscript is perfect no matter how many rounds of editing are done on it, and editors are also human. Missing a handful of small errors after correcting thousands of them in a document is a better ratio than you think. So don’t be surprised if there is a typo on page fifteen.

5) Sample Edits

Many editors, myself included, will provide sample edits to prospective clients as a method of showing the client our editing style as well as getting a feel for what kind of work the manuscript needs. Sample edits may range in length and type depending on the editor, but it is always a reasonable question to ask if you are trying to decide if an editor is going to work for you. Plus, if their editing style just does not work for you at all, it is best to know that before going into a multi-thousand-dollar agreement. Some editors may offer refunds, but many of us do not because while customer satisfaction is important, we cannot take back the hours upon hours we have put into your manuscript just because you and I have different styles.

The best way to go about getting a feel for multiple editors is to send them all the same passage from somewhere in the middle of your book (if that falls within their sample edit clause) and compare the changes they all make. Editors are much like writers in that we all have a unique editorial “voice” and will make different subjective edits to various books. While we all might agree that a particular comma or some such is inaccurate, we may all have different ideas on how to re-word an awkward sentence or whether or not an adjective or adverb needs to go. That doesn’t mean one editor is “right” and the others are “wrong” on these subjective edits, but some may work better or worse with your personal style, and that’s something we all understand.

These five conversations will do a lot to help you communicate effectively with your editor and save you a lot of misery, frustration, and money. It will also save the editor frustration and hair-pulling because these conversations are just as important for us to have. Now, I will guide my clients through these conversations if they don’t know to have them, as will many other editors, but if you come to the table prepared it will be a pleasant surprise for your editor and show that you have a better handle on what to expect.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

Fallen Friday: Fences

Fallen Friday: Fences

Peeling paint and tired, sagging fence lines speak to the weary feeling that has settled over my town, my country, and my life. When I was younger, those fences were straight and even like the perfect, even teeth of a movie star. Now they lean to the side, valiantly defying the will of the weather, sun, and time that have rusted their nails, torn their clapboards, and broken their supports.

Vines, invasive and choking, crawl over trees and buildings. They could be pretty if they weren’t trying to kill everything, carpeting it in a toxic green death, swallowing the local plants, driving out the flowers, and leaving them a thorny wasteland. Nobody can keep up with them anymore, so the best we can do is ignore them. They flourish when we aren’t looking, but tearing them out requires a community effort nobody has time for.

When I was young, there were orchards. Wide, open spaces with apples bowed down so low that even my small hands could capture them without straining. I used to sneak in with my best friend, stealing apples until our faces were sticky and bellies full. We then ran, giggling and rushing into the safety of the forested buffer between the houses and the farm, dodging patches of skunk cabbage and poison ivy. The apple trees never chased us.

These days, the orchards are vanishing, replaced by garish new homes nobody can afford. “For sale,” they scream from their monochrome, cookie-cutter windows. “Newly built!” The empty windows stare vacant and glassy, as if even they know nobody wants them.

The people I went to school with laugh. “As if we can afford you,” we say back. “Can we have our apple trees back?”

“No.”

Everything new is made of cardboard and aluminum and sheetrock that looks like it belongs in California, not here. Not where the apples grew plentiful and the bees hummed on long summer days where we ran barefoot through the open spaces.

Everything old needs several new coats of paint, new nails, and a roof that doesn’t leak. It needs love and the hands of a carpenter who remembers how to put things back together again. Or maybe it can just lean forever, a guttural sigh echoed from the lips of ancestors who remember when there were horses in the barn. Or at least goats.

We can’t afford those either.

Instead, we pack together in tenements in the city, far away from the trees and the creeping green vines and the memory of apples. We tell ourselves we like the hustle and bustle. We like the convenience. Our eyes are as empty as the new houses on side roads carved into the orchards.

Our children won’t remember the trees or the bees. They’ll grow up knowing only sagging fences, peeling paint, and empty windows framed by curling green vines ready to choke out whatever light remains.

E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.

Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.

When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.