Prose – An Innovative New Platform for Indie Writers

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Henry Augustine!

Henry oversees business operations for Prose. His dream of becoming a professional writer ignited in the fourth grade, and eventually led him to getting published by Integral World in August 2009 (Integral Philosophy) and by Integral Publishing House in January 2014 (The Coming Waves, “The Biggest Taboo”) – as well as to co-founding Myrtle Street Publishing and Prose as a means to transform the publishing industry.

“Prose” is an online reading and writing platform on a mission to inspire and empower writers globally and level the publishing industry playfield. The key to fulfilling this mission is technology. Prose’s technology aims to redefine the experience of literature for readers and writers spanning all skills, genres, and locations.

In particular, the technology emphasizes three primary elements:

1) Simplicity, 2) Community, and 3) Entertainment.

The platform is simple so that creating/discovering writing is intuitive and efficient. The platform is social in that the interaction experience feels like a small, real community. It’s entertaining in particular through its “Challenges” feature, enabling users to create writing challenges, invite fans and friends to participate, and interact in whole new ways.

While as a platform, Prose enables new forms of author-audience interaction, as a cause, it is in the process of joining forces with as many publishers, authors, and readers as possible. The vision is an ecosystem of literary distributors spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world – blogs, indie publishers, magazines, established publishers – connected with a diverse, abundant pool of fresh literary talent spanning all shapes and sizes from around the world.

Prose, as a technology platform, will integrate this ecosystem of distributors with its pool of talent as a means to minimize the global publishing industry gap between literary talent and demand on one end and literary distribution on the other.

The ultimate problem that Prose is attempting to solve is there being significantly more literary potential, literary talent, and literary demand than there currently is literary distribution. Prose will also connect readers with the writing and writers matching their unique literary taste, almost like a “Pandora for Writing.”

In short, the vision driving Prose is a win-win-win – a win for authors and literary talent, a win for readers and literary demand, and a win for publishers and literary distribution.

The Prose iTunes app launched September 2014 and the web app, for non-iPhone users and desktop use, launched in December.

You can experience Prose at https://theprose.com.

You can download the mobile app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prose./id911216930?mt=8

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On Doing Writerly Research : Ancient Greece

 Today Wannabe Pride welcomes author Kayla Jameth!

Kayla Jameth grew up on the family farm in Ohio. An unrepentant tomboy, she baled hay and raised cattle, and her father taught her to weld before she graduated from high school. She attended Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and later, Texas A&M University in her pursuit of veterinary medicine, taking her far away from her rural roots. But it wasn’t all hard work for her, her sojourn as the princess of the Celestial Kingdom left her with the title “Sir” and a costume closet the envy of many knights, lords, and ladies. After declaring for years that she was not an author, Kayla now finds herself writing m/m erotic romance outside of Houston, Texas. While you can take the girl out of the country, you can’t turn her into a city slicker. Kayla would still rather be outside getting down and dirty with the boys. She shares a full house with her favorite animals: a cat, two guinea pigs, a gerbil, three guppies, as well as her husband, son, and daughter.

Probably the single most common question I’m asked is: What made you write about ancient Greece? In college, I minored in Classical History, but my love of the ancient goes back even further than that. As a child, I enjoyed the sermons about the historical figures in the Bible and this translated into an interest in the civilizations of the past. The more mysterious the better.

I am probably one of the few people who have owned a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology since their early teens. I read about Paris and the beauty contest between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and counted him a fool for his choice. Athena made the best offer to my way of thinking. 

Judgment of Paris

I didn’t limit myself to the Greco-Roman myths. Egyptian and Norse epics were fair game as well. And more recently, Babylonian tales have made their appearance. There was something magical in listening to my professor read the Iliad in the language it was written, his voice ringing with the power of the words.

I also still love fairy tales, which are more or less an extension of the tradition of mythic tales. Because of this, I have a pretty firm base on which to build my world. My Apollo’s Men series takes place in the world that the ancient Greeks believed they lived in. A world
not unlike the epic tales that Homer spoke of, filled with deities and daemons (any of the lesser beings,NOT demons).

Blackbird

In researching the details that bring my world to life, Google is my friend. I often start with Wikipedia for basic details and to find other terms to explore. Google books will give you a look inside many scholarly works. Plus excerpts or even the full text of scholarly journal articles can be accessed through several sites.

There are numerous ancient Greek and Spartan reenactment societies that are also great resources. Anything from how to make your own authentic gear to what to expect an ancient Greek to own. And more importantly, what he wouldn’t have. I also use an online etymology site to see if a word is suitably ancient or can trace its roots back to a Greek word before I use it in the document. There are days when I wish I could use any word I wanted, but I can’t use things like “piece de resistance”. And just try to come up with the equivalent to “shit” and “damn” etc. without using the same old tired “By Zeus!” It’s especially frustrating as the Greeks would have actually said the Greek word for some of it, but the readers act like cussing is a modern construct. There’s nothing new under the sun. Some of the contemporaneous comedies were especially vulgar: lots of potty humor and scandalous discussions of sex in the crassest words imaginable.

Unfortunately, I can’t always find a source for certain details. Some things were just too commonplace for any of the ancient authors to waste time on. Even archeology sometimes lets me down. If I can’t find proof of something, I either find a way around it or go with what was common in that time and general locale.

Sparta has been a particular challenge, as the city-state often refused to conform with the other Greek poleis. In addition, the Spartans were laconic by definition and only committed to writing the really important stuff, leaving everything else unsaid. This is further complicated by all the bad press Sparta received from the city-states that were in conflict with her, especially the Athenians who were very vocal.

So writing about that era has been a challenge, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

The Apollo’s Men series:

Body Language(free download on Smashwords)

Body Language

Alexios’ Fate

Alexos Fate

496 BC (in the Lust in Time anthology)

Lust

 

A Spartan Love

A Spartan Love

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Writer Seeks Beta Reader for a Long-Term Relationship

sandwichI’m looking for a compatible beta reader for a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. My ideal beta reader, in addition to enjoying long walks on the beach, should be someone who is:

  1. Honest. I really do want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to your critique. Will you tell me what works? What doesn’t? Are my characters well-developed? Do they have unique voices or do they all sound the same? Does the plot make sense or is it too far-fetched? Grammatical corrections are welcomed, but not critical. At this beta stage, I’m more focused on the story as a whole.

  2. Respectful and Kind. Instead of saying “Oh my God, you’ve already said this so many times I wanted to put an ice pick through my forehead,” a simple “you’ve already mentioned this a few times” or just “repetitive” will do nicely.

  3. Serious about the craft. Ideally, you’ve already written a few novels or at least have a fairly regular writing schedule. There are a lot of people who want to be writers, but kind of crap out when the going gets tough.

  4. A fan of romance novels, as well as chick lit and other more light-hearted works. If you tend to write serious, hard-hitting literature, you probably won’t be a good fit to critique my writing. I also write lots of LGBT characters, so if you’re prejudiced in any way, you can hit the road.

  5. Able to stick to a reasonable turnaround time. I tend to seek critiques once I’ve finished the first full draft of a novel, rather than a few chapters at a time. I figure a month to read the full novel is fairly reasonable.

In return, I can offer, free to a good home, a critique partner who:

6.  Is all of the above things, and really wants to help other writers succeed.

If you’re interested, please contact me at lindafausnet@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

How to Create Your Social Marketing Strategy (for writers)

Chris Weber“Marketing is so haaaard.” is the collective whine of so many grown-ups that have chosen the unfortunate career of author.

Here’s the deal, people. You’re thinking about it all wrong. Marketing isn’t something you do to sell your book. It’s not a pain in the butt that takes away from your writing time. Marketing is writing, and you’re a writer.

It’s an opportunity to practice your craft, just in a different format. As Hemingway said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” If you’re marketing is failing, chances are you’re not bleeding quite enough outside the pages of your book.

So here’s the deal. Stop “marketing your book” and start connecting with your readers. Write non-book content that people will enjoy reading. Do a podcast or video posts that invite new and old readers alike into your world. True fans are the ones who like you and your outlook on the world. It’s great to sell books in a blitz, but not at the expense of true audience building.

Case in point: John Green didn’t grow his fan base by posting on Twitter that his book was for sale. He did it by keeping a video blog with his brother for years. It was something he clearly loved doing, and a lot of other people loved it too. The videos weren’t promotional material, but he sold a whole lot of books because of them.

So let’s talk nuts and bolts on how to get that strategy in order. This is where a little bit of time being business-y goes a long way. So make a few decisions, make a list or two, and stick to them. The categories outlined below should get you started:

How often:

Decide how often you’re going to post and write it down. This is a schedule for every single day, all year, not just the day before your book comes out. Remember, don’t market your book, connect with your readers.

A good basic schedule is:

  • 5 short posts on social media every day
  • 1 blog post a week
  • 1 toss-up (this can be a video, a guest post, a short story, a piece of fan fiction…whatever your heart desires)

Social: give it 30-45 minutes a day. Post 1 or 2 things of your own, and use the other 3 posts to share things from your community.

Blog: One post a week can do wonders for your sales. It keeps you top-of-mind with your readers, and gives you something to talk about on your social networks.

A note on blogging: A blog to help your book sales needs to be focused on your readers, not other authors, so while it’s great to share tips and personal writing experiences, make sure that you’re also writing about the things that you personally love, and that you write about. At AuthorRise, we call this “complimentary content.” If you’re a romance novelist, this could look like writing about your views on modern romance, love, etc. If you’re a non-fiction writer, it’s even easier, just share your research and process. Simple!

Toss-up: Treat it like a blog post, do something once a week or once every other week. This is your chance to explore new mediums, help out fellow authors, and take risks with your writing that you wouldn’t take in a book.

What channels

Which channels you use will depend on your experience, your subject matter, and your personality. The important thing is to make a conscious decision and stick to it. So, what’s your combination?

Ideally, you’re working with a subset of:

  • social media
  • personal website
  • podcasting
  • video,
  • in-person work

If you’re just getting started, pick two: a few social media outlets, and your blog. Why do you need to pick your channels and stick to them? Because if you’re jumping from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest every week, or giving up on something too quickly, chances are you didn’t give it enough time to learn the ropes, grow your audience, and evaluate your progress. Before you switch from podcasting to Youtube videos, give it at least six months of focused effort.

Picking your content categories

This is a big one, and a tough one. If you want to create great non-book writing, you need to pick a few things that you’re going to write about. These are 3-5 big topics that form the foundation of all of your marketing. It’s important enough that if you can, write them down really big on a piece of paper, and put it up by your desk.

So what’s a content category? It’s a deep well of content that resonates with you personally, is appealing to your readers, and is something you can keep coming back to rather than having to decide every day “what am I going to write about?”

An example will help here: Say you write historical adventure novels. Your categories might be:

  • Interesting tidbits and facts picked up in research
  • True stories of real-life adventurers
  • Profiles of modern-day adventurers

These three categories alone should provide enough material for at least a year of blogging, and most importantly, are just the kind of thing that readers love when they need something quick to read.

Tracking

Finally we come to tracking. This one’s the most business-y of them all, but it’s also one of the most important. Set a few simple goals for yourself, and then keep track of how well you’re meeting them. If you don’t honestly measure your performance, how can you hope to improve?

Three basic goals that we always encourage with our members at AuthorRise are “posts per day,” “audience growth per week,” and “reader engagement.” (reader engagement is a measure of how many of your posts your readers are re-sharing or commenting on)

These three basic stats are easy to track and help you stay committed to doing a little bit every day rather than a big push at the last moment. And if you’re looking for a place to track all of that in one place, I can’t help but shamelessly plug my company AuthorRise!

Rinse and Repeat

Phew! We covered a lot of ground in a little space here, but the overall message is a simple one. Putting together a strategy for how you’ll grow takes a little bit of work, but doing the work to meet those goals every day adds up, just like your back-catalog. So keep at it, think long-term, and get busy!

Chris Weber, CEO, AuthorRise

chris@authorrise.com

authorRise

When Words Fail a Writer

Today Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger Raven Oak, author of Amaskan’s Blood!

There aren’t words for why I write.

No, really. There aren’t. Staring at this blank page, with its 15…wait, now 17 words, I’m intimidated because I don’t believe in writer’s block.

If I’m staring at a blank page and can’t put one word after another, I use tricks to work my way around the mental hurdle.

Yesterday, I was asked a simple question, “Why do you write?”

There aren’t words to answer this. Actually, that’s wrong, too. It’s not that there aren’t words–I mean, these are words–it’s just that there aren’t words to describe it. Words that would give it justice.

My three-year-old self was shy and quiet—that is, until I met my extended family. Age five found words rushing from my mouth like a stampede of wildebeests with little regard for the developing brain behind them. I knew better than to prattle ad-nauseam around my over-worked father, but if you plopped me down in a room full of people, I wouldn’t shut up.

I couldn’t shut up.

Sometimes I think that by trying to silence me, my father only exacerbated the issue. Like a flash flood, words poured forth. People’s laughter encouraged me to grow bolder with my storytelling. If I climbed a tree and stubbed my toe, by the end of the day, I’d climbed Mt. Rainier, stood five feet from the top before an eagle dive-bombed me and sent me stumbling head-over-end down the glacier until I had landed in the thick forests below with a broken leg. These elaborate tall-tales were the beginnings of my storytelling.

When I was seven, a neighbor asked the ever burning question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A writer,” I answered.

As I passed through childhood, the answer gained and lost a few friends, but one element never changed. I wanted to write.

Through most of elementary school, I would answer, “A writer, a teacher, and a musician.”

“Which one?” they’d ask.

“All three.”

In my teenage years, it simplified into a writer and musician. Three years of intense collegiate music school morphed the answer yet again.

Music wasn’t lucrative, so I became a teacher to pay my student loans. I enjoyed it, but twelve years later, I was no closer to my dreams of being a published author than before. While teaching four subjects, finding the time to write was nigh impossible. But I’m not a quitter, so I drove myself to exhaustion. Sixty hour work weeks were the norm. I nearly drowned in a twenty-one graduate hour semester in a mad dash for my master’s degree in computers.

They might as well have been pumping in the caffeine intravenously. And if that wasn’t enough, I decided I had to write. If I was going to make my way into the realm of professional writing, I needed a catalyst.

So I made a deal. Not with the devil, but worse—with myself.

If I could write an entire novel, from start to finish, then I was ready. I’d been a storyteller my entire life, but never before had I been a writer. Not really.

I was a hobbyist at best and a flirt at worst. Amidst the overtime and grad school, I planted my rear in the chair and focused. Thirty days later, I held a 90,000 word first draft to Amaskan’s Blood.

If I could write 90,000 words in a month that crazy, I could do anything.

But could I write for a living? Did I have the bravery to make the leap? The discipline to write every day, every month, every year? Or was this just another dabbling attempt?

I kept my deal. I quit teaching and moved across the country to Seattle to find out. For thirty years, I’d wished for this. The want—the need—the necessity never wavered and never changed.

I was born to write. I was born to tell stories. People cross through the city and set one foot in front of the other. I stand still in a crowded mass and embellish, spin, and elaborate on the stories moving through us all. I think about the future, the what-if, and the why. And when there are no words, I invent them.

At age five, they told me I could be anything. Even a writer.

And I believed them.

Contact info:

Raven Oak

Webpage: **  Twitter:  ** Facebook Author Page: ** Goodreads:

Links to purchase Amaskan’s Blood can be found on my site here: