I get asked these a lot and it occurred to me that I didn’t have a “Frequently Asked Questions” page here. It’ll save time and, hopefully, answer the basic questions. (Updated 1/24/2019)
- How many words do you write per day?
On average, I write about 1,500 words per day, typically four days a week. That works out to 209 days per year (roughly), and about 313,000 words per year, minimum. Some days I get about 7,000 words done, others only 1,000. But usually it’s at least 1,500 words a day.
- What is the most words you’ve written in one day?
Just over 26,000 words in a 24 hour period. The doctor was trying me out on some new medication and it caused me to stay awake for almost 3 straight days. In the middle of that, I wrote… and wrote… and wrote. Most of it was unusable, but some of it I saved (about 8,000 words worth).
- How do you get your ideas?
I have no clue. Really. They’re just there. Maybe they were uploaded into my brain by a peanut-munching muse?
- Do you write well with others?
Yes and no. I have both good experiences and bad working with co-authors. It really depends on just how interested the other author is. If it’s someone who really wants to write the book right now, then I work well with them, because we can finish a book in a very short amount of time (ex: Eric Brown and I wrote the sequel to Homeworld in about five weeks, including edits). If my co-author sits on a story for six months, well, then it’s just one of those “pound my head against the desk” moments.
- I always wanted to be a writer. What tricks can you share?
No tricks. Just keep honing your craft, I guess is the stock saying. Jim Baen gave me awesome advice once. He said (I’m paraphrasing it, because I don’t remember word-for-word what he said) “You’ll never be a writer if all you do is talk about it.” The best way to do it is sit down and write. Set aside time out of your day. Dedicate that to creating. No editing, just writing. You can edit later. Write now.
- How do you find a publisher?
Seriously? In this day and age you can’t find a publisher? Google it. Type in the keywords that describe your story and add “publisher” on it and you’re bound to find something. Look at who publishes the books you like to read which match what you already have written. If you write like Brandon Sanderson, for example, then pitching a novel to his publisher might not be a bad avenue of approach. As for agents… well, type in your favorite author and add “literary agent” to it. If your favorite author is successful and has an agent, that agent likes to brag about how great their clientele list is. Be creative in your searches.
- I have this awesome idea for a book! Will you co-author it with me?
I actually don’t get asked this one all that often, thankfully. Right now, I prefer to do the approaching when it comes to collaborations. It’s not that your idea is bad, really. It’s not that I don’t like you, either. It’s just that I usually write with people I know (there has been one single exception, and that actually worked out well, but I don’t want to push my luck) and even then, sometimes that doesn’t always work out (I may have mentioned that earlier).
- Why don’t you come to more conventions?
Because traveling is expensive. I usually drive to them, and my hotel room usually runs over $100 per night. Throw in gas, food and so on, and I’m looking at about $400 for a weekend. Unless the con has me as a Guest of Honor (and that won’t happen until I’m a much more popular writer than I am now), it’s too pricey for me to attend more then 2-3 cons per year. It also sucks that I don’t have stockpiles of my books to sell, because that could potentially offset the costs of attending a con. Most cons have dealer tables, but I’ve found that the majority of them are sold out before I’m ever invited as a guest, so no selling of books for me. And, if you look at my con schedule, you’ll see that most of them are within easy driving distance of Roanoke, VA.
- When is the sequel to Corruptor coming out?
It’s out! Devastator was published in 2018. No idea if/when the third book will be out.
- Do you have a favorite genre you like to write in?
Not particularly, though I’ve called myself a science fiction author for as long as I’ve been writing. I enjoy most of the genres I’ve written in (not a huge horror fan, so keep that in mind if you stumble upon my earlier stuff). I typically don’t try to cram the book and characters into a preconceived genre at first. I let them sow their wild oats, have some care-free and youthful moments, before I bring the harsh reality of adulthood onto them. By that time, they’re pretty well-defined characters who have decided what they want to be and how to do it.
…okay, so I think of my characters like children. It’s not the worst plan in the world.
- I loved your Kaiju books. Any plans on doing more?
Not at this time, outside of The Littlest Kaiju books. The Kin Wars have really started to eat up a lot of my spare writing time. On top of that, I’ve got too many other projects on the table in other universes.
- Are you ever going to finish The Warp trilogy?
I’m really hoping to. The problem is the sales suck and nobody wants to publish a series which is outsold by everything else I’ve written. They want the moneymakers, not the pet projects.
- Can you explain the whole “Sad Puppies” thing and defend your support for them?
Explain it? Hell, there are tons of people out there who can and have explain it better and far more eloquently than I ever will. Here, here, here, here, and here are good places to start (note: those links are for supporters and detractors. Don’t ever accuse me of playing favorites). Now, defend it? What, precisely, is there to defend? Some people disagreed with what they determined were worthy award-winning novels and short stories and decided to vote otherwise. The idea gained steam after Larry Correia (I may have linked him twice above, not sure) decided to actually take the challenge seriously and encouraged his fans to get involved (side note: “slate” is telling people to vote in perfect lockstep with one another, a “list” is something else entirely). Well, they got involved and it turned out that hardly anyone ever nominates people for these prestigious awards. So imagine their surprise when a ton of authors who have never been considered for any sort of award like this before were found to be headlining the finalists panel. Hell, imagine MY surprise to discover that I had the most nominating votes for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author!
I lost, big time, which came as no surprise (my ballot had me at 4th, the rest of the voters decided that “No Award” was better and it bumped me down to 5th… whatever), and suddenly the SHTF. I was done at that point (seriously, the crapstorm which erupted from Sad Puppies 3 caused me to lose 6 months worth of writing time) and declined any and all potential nominations for Sad Puppies 4. From a business point of view, this is a smart idea, since God knows I can’t afford to spend any more time dealing with politics over something that resembled a phallus mounted on a wooden pedestal. From a personal standpoint, I was tired of being called racist, sexist, bigoted, and who knows what else because I agreed with Sad Puppies that some of the stuff being nominated for a Hugo Award was just plain silly. It seemed (to me) that it was less about the quality and entertainment value of a novel and more about who wrote it and what “boundaries” they broke. Conveniently ignoring the past 60 years of boundary breaking in SF in general.
You want to break boundaries where things are boring and staid, and is in desperate need of an image makeover? Try American Literature & General Fiction. That genre is boooooring.
- Do you have an English degree?
Haha! Ahem, sorry. No. I think they’re overrated and, unless you’re going to be working in academia or as an editor, it’s almost worthless. I don’t mean to sound crass, and I can already hear dozens of MFA’s sharpening their knives, but in my defense, the authors who I love to read the most don’t have English degrees.
- Can I write in one of your universes?
No. Well, maybe, I don’t know. Are you a well-known author? Do you have a marketing plan?
- Why not?
Because of the cautionary tale of H. P. Lovecraft and how one can lose the IP rights of their own creation.
- So you hate fanfic?
Not at all. But it’s no longer fanfic if you’re making money off of my creations.
- You suck, your writing sucks, and your book sucks!
Thank you. I’ll remember that the next time I’m at the bank, depositing a royalty check. There may even be tears.
11 thoughts on “FAQ”
Hi Jason.. I’ve just read through your FAQ, and was wondering if there is any news on Obliterator being picked up for publishing? I loved Corruptor, and also the World and characters. Considering some of the garbage that seems available via Kindle these days, is there any chance of you self-publishing it on there?
The publisher owns first-refusal rights to any sequels to Corruptor and she hasn’t refused any so far. Granted, she’s told me that they need some rewrites, but she hasn’t said “I’m done with this universe, go do with it what you will.” So for now, she still owns the rights to Obliterator, Devastator, and Vindicator.
So good news, bad news.. LOL.. I’ll just have to hope they decide to publish it sooner rather than later then, I guess.. Thanks for getting back to me..
Yeah, sorry about the delay. I was updating the website and saw your question for the first time.
They will get done. They’ve been plotted and outlined, and Obliterator has been written (but needs a rewrite). It’s just not high on my priority list right now due to other contracts. I promise they will get done.
I’ve enjoyed the Warp series . . . but like a lot of serious readers, I find it frustrating to start a first person story, get a third or less of it packaged as a book, and have to wait years for it to reach a conclusion when the total duration of the complete story is shorter than the time it took to publish it.
It’s jarring to read a first person account and see that person develop far less during the story than I or the real world did while the story was being written, published and distributed. My middle school granddaughter literal sneers when she’s presented with “chapter books” as gifts.
I understand that creating a setting, situation and characters is hard, but once that’s done, shouldn’t the story flow more or less automatically from its “DNA”, with editing being the long term challenge?
It there any way that your readers can assist you in completing the Warp series? Do you if you have a need for more “proof” readers during the editing/rewrite stage?
If so, I volunteer. I read a LOT of sci-fi, enjoy only some of it fully, because I get stuck whenever there’s a missing link within a story, and stumble when the characters do something inconsistent with what they’ve been- acting out of character. I also seem to have a talent for spotting factual errors, misused and misspelled words. I have a background in engineering, science and IT if that makes a difference.
Anyway, please keep writing. For every hour you put into it, many more are spent by the readers who devour good fiction.
Thank you, Paul.
Now, as for your question, let me explain…
The Warp is one of my worst selling series out there right now, yet (I feel) the most developed world. Tori and company are some of my favorite characters I’ve ever written, and the worlds I can play in and what I’ve set up for the final book (or books) is all ready to go. But money talks in publishing, and while I love The Warp and want to finish the series, people are buying The Kin Wars Saga at almost four times the rate. Plus, the KWS is easier to write because right now my mind is fully invested in the world. Throw in three new novels set in Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy’s “Four Horsemen Universe” that I’m working on, and I lack time and financial motivation.
That being said, I’m not “done” with The Warp. It will be completed, just probably not by 2019. I do have a tentative deadline for myself to have it complete by 2020 and published that year. It’s a delay, yeah. But it’s better than the 7 year wait like last time.
My offer as a proofer still stands.
i just read your answer about the WARP have you sought on publishing in Japan they love this kind of story
If you read Manga or watch anime they have stories like yours ( SAO is one )
Due to the way Japanese publishing works, I’d need to work out a deal with a publisher who is interested in it. I have a Japanese publisher I’d worked with in the past (Takeshobo) but I no longer have the agent who made that deal.
The best way to gain acceptance in another country or culture is to make an attempt to use their language – even if they are bilingual. in your language. The effort shows your respect.
You many not realize it but you either do this when writing for readers in your own culture or you bomb as a fiction writer.
If you were to do a preface a first section explaining what you are trying to, and run it through Google Translate, you could self-publish it, and would likely be approached by a Japanese editor/publisher willing to polish the translation, to help you clarify concepts that might not translate well, and publish the book for that market. Or they might know if there were enough bilingual Japanese who would be interested in your to market them in English.
Yes, this would work in most regards, and considering Amazon is making it easier to break into new markets, this would be a good idea.
However, when working with publishers and agents, I typically just take a back seat for the most part when dealing with foreign rights. Takeshobo, for example, has a decent translator (though their translator for the Kaiju Apocalypse book was solid, their translation of my biography was… interesting). In the end, it simply depends on how I want to go about doing it.