One way a writer can become successful is by having a more established writer as a mentor. Writing groups can serve the function of a mentor. Let me share an example of the influence a mentor.
In 1919 a young veteran returned from World War I. He moved to Chicago moving into a particular neighborhood for the purpose of being close to the author Sherwood Anderson.
The young beginning writer was impressed by the critical praise for Anderson and his book Winesburg, Ohio. He had heard that Sherwood Anderson was willing to help aspiring writers. He worked to meet Anderson. The two men became close friends. They met almost every day to read newspapers, magazines, and novels. They dissected the writings they read.
The aspiring writer brought his own works for critique having Anderson help him improve his craft. Anderson went as far as introducing the want-to-be writer to his network of publishing contacts. The aspiring writer did okay with his first book The Sun Also Rises. The aspiring writer was Ernest Hemingway.
Sherwood Anderson didn’t stop there. He moved to New Orleans where he met another aspiring writer. He took the young man through the same steps and paces of the craft. He actually shared an apartment with this young man. He even invested $300 in getting this writer’s first book Soldier’s Pay published. This young author was William Faulkner.
Anderson would later move to California and repeat the process with John Steinbeck. Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell were also mentored by Sherwood Anderson.
Ray Bradbury says Winesburg, Ohio was on his mind when he wrote The Martian Chronicles. Bradbury basically wrote Winesburg, Ohio placing it on the planet Mars.
Arguably, only Mark Twain has had a greater influence in shaping modern American writing than Sherwood Anderson. Anderson didn’t do too badly, did he?
Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prizes
William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck each won the Nobel Prize for Literature and there are multiple Pulitzer Prizes between them.
If you are serious about writing I encourage you to find a mentor or join a writing group. The encouragement of my writer’s group and critique group keeps me motivated.
Encourage your writer friends, keep reading and writing.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Sometimes I just need the classics, like on Easter Sunday. I love the pipe organ and choir filling the sanctuary with praises to the Master.
I was thinking this morning. I love Jesus, I confess Him as my Lord and Savior. I also love attending church. All the new songs and informality in “contemporary church” now of days are okay but I prefer “Classic Church.” I just invented the term.
What is a “Classic Church?”
“Classic Church” is Bible-centered expository preaching, songs sang from hymnals (first, second, and last verses), not words on the wall. You might even begin the service with the Doxology from time to time. You have a predictable liturgy (order of service). It makes you comfortable.
The preacher wears his suit AND TIE. You always take an offering, have special music before the sermon, and you present how to be saved (born again).
You end with an altar call invitation giving people a chance to make a public profession of faith.
Like Classic Rock, Classic R&B, or Classic Country is the best music for me, so is “Classic Church” my favorite church … just saying.
Way #1 -Traditional Publishing (The Big 5 Trade Publishers)
Trade Publisher #1. Hachette Book Group
Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a division of the second-largest trade and educational book publisher in the world, Hachette Livre. Hachette Livre is based in France and is a subsidiary of the French media company, Lagardère.
Trade Publisher #2. HarperCollins
HarperCollins Publishers is a subsidiary of News Corp, the global media company led by Rupert Murdoch.
Trade Publisher #3. Macmillan Publishers
Macmillan is a global trade publishing company, which is owned by the German Company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with imprints in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and around the world.
Trade Publisher #4. Penguin Random House
Originally international publishing giants in their own rights, on July 1, 2013, Penguin, a Pearson company and Random House, owned by the German company Bertelsmann, combined their adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing divisions.
Trade Publisher #5. Simon and Schuster
Simon & Schuster was founded in 1924 by Richard L. (Dick) Simon and M. Lincoln (Max) Schuster with a bestselling crossword puzzle book. At various times in its history, it has been owned by Marshall Field, Gulf + Western, and Viacom. Simon and Schuster is currently the publishing arm of the media company CBS Corporation, where its diverse offerings include books in the adult publishing, children’s publishing, audiobooks and digital book arenas.
Way #2 – Independent Publishing
Using Wikipedia as a guide: “The terms “small press”, “indie publisher”, and “independent press” are often used interchangeably, with “independent press” defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations.
Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry.
Many small presses rely on specialization in genre fiction, poetry, or limited-edition books or magazines, but there are also thousands that focus on niche non-fiction markets.”
Way #3 – Custom Publishing
Custom publishing has been the traditional US-based term for what is now known as content marketing.
The definition, as stated by the Custom Content Council (the US Association for custom publishers), custom publishing: “… marries the marketing ambitions of a company with the information needs of its target audience.
Way #4 – Vanity Publishing
Again, using Wikipedia as a guide: A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a term describing a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published.
Additionally, vanity publishers have no selection criteria as opposed to other “hybrid” publishing models.
Way #5 – Self-publishing
The focus of this article.
Self-publishing is DIY, that is, do-it-yourself publishing.
Once upon a time self-publishing was viewed with stigma. If you told someone you were self-published their eyes would roll and they would move away from you at a party. It is not held in as much reproach as it once was.
Part of the reason for the lessened contempt is more self-published authors are paying the price and doing a good job. This includes writing a good story. Having the book professionally edited is another element more are including. Cover design once completed poorly in Microsoft Paint is being handled professionally. They realize they have to learn to build an email list and market the book. And on and on I could go.
I will be writing a few articles on Wednesday’s from the lessons I have learned and am still learning on my own journey as a self-published author. Self-publishing isn’t for most people. Few authors that I know are willing to do both the writing and all the technical stuff related to formatting, cover design, book layout, marketing campaigns, etc. For those that want to learn more about the process, I’ll be posting regularly.
The photos are of the covers of two of my eight books. Rebuilder is religious science fiction. Thy Will be Done: 60 Prayer for the Chronically Ill is religious nonfiction. They are available in print and ebook from Amazon, and in ebook from iBooks, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, and all major retailers worldwide. My books are also available in ebook format through most libraries in North America, Canada, and Europe.
Have I mentioned I’m writing my fourth novel? Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a novel, plans to write a novel or has the next great story idea. So, with that in mind, I’ll start over.
Writing My Fourth Novel
Did I mention I am writing a novel?
Yes, I am. While I’ve published a science fiction novel, a historical fiction novel, a short story anthology, a poetry collection, and have a second unpublished science fiction novel, I have never published a literary fiction novel. Novel number four is literary fiction.
Even though I have hundreds of paid writing credits over the last 40 years in dozens of trade journals, magazines, literary journals, and science fiction magazines, few people view me as a writer.
Response of Family and Friends
Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel? You know the responses I’m talking about. You’ve seen them.
There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky.
There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.
Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way. other times they will say “That’s nice. Everyone needs a hobby.”
When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I am writing a novel. That’s because I am a writer!”
At this point they usually repeat, “That’s nice or I thought you worked with computers.”
I reply “Working with computers paid for my passion for writing before I became a full-time writer.”
It’s sad. They still don’t get it. Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?” Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”
Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams
I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream. If you’re like me, you have to write. You can’t help it. It’s part of who you are. So write! And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel. Let them the progress you are making. And you can drop me a note from time to time in the comments section. I’ll understand.
I compiled the list. The criteria are authors of science fiction or any sub-genre of science-fiction with longevity. At the end of the article, I have three current writers to watch who, in time, could move on my list but now do not have a sufficient body of work or longevity writing science fiction.
I find that the best science-fiction writers are among some of the most creative writers ever. These authors made my list. I have read the people I have listed. Most will disagree, but these are my favorites.
1. Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction author.
Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and the science fiction and horror stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951). Ray Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers.
He also wrote and consulted on many screenplays and television scripts. These include Moby Dick, and It Came from Outer Space. Many of his works were made into comic books, television shows, and films.
2. Isaac Asimov (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; circa January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.
Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke; he was regarded as one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.
Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire Series and the Robot Series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in the earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series.
Later, beginning with Foundation’s Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and before produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson.
He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction “Nightfall,” which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books historically explain scientific concepts, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its most unadorned stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, history, William Shakespeare’s writing, and chemistry.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
3. Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.
He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time. His other science fiction writings earned him many Hugo and Nebula awards, along with a broad readership, making him into one of the towering figures of the field. For many years, he, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction.
Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, Clarke proposed a satellite communication system — an idea that, in 1963, won him the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal and other honors. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.
Clarke was a science writer, who was both an avid popularizer of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability and wrote over a dozen books and many essays (which appeared in various popular magazines) on these subjects. In 1961, he was awarded a Kalinga Prize, an award given by UNESCO for popularizing science. These along with his science fiction writings eventually earned him the moniker “Prophet of the Space Age.”
4. Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the “dean of science fiction writers,” he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality.
He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the “Big Three” of science fiction authors.
A notable writer of science fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Astounding Science Fiction magazine—though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any significant degree.
Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed specific social themes: the importance of personal liberty and self-reliance, the obligation people owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the importance of space travel on human cultural practices.
Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; also, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded “Retro Hugos”—awards given retrospectively for books and stories that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence.
In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including “grok” and “waldo,” and speculative fiction, as well as popularizing the terms like “TANSTAAFL,” “pay it forward,” and space marine.
He also described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door Into Summer, though he never patented or built one. Several of Heinlein’s works have been adapted for film and television. In Chapter 3 of the novel “Podkayne of Mars,” he anticipated the cell phone, 20 years before the technology was invented by Motorola.
Orson Scott Card
5. Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for science fiction. His novel Ender’s Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986) both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both science fiction’s top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. A feature film adaptation of Ender’s Game, which Card co-produced, was released in late October 2013 in Europe and on November 1, 2013, in North America.
Card is a professor of English at Southern Virginia University, has written two books on the subject of creative writing, hosts writing boot camps and workshops, and serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. A great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, Card is a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In addition to producing a large body of fiction works, he has also offered political, religious, and social commentary in his columns and other writing.
Frank Herbert, Jr.
6. Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction writer best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for science fiction, he was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, short story writer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.
The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with complex themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power. Dune itself is the “best-selling science fiction novel of all time,” and the series is widely considered to be among the classics of the genre.
The photo is Frank Hebert, Jr. I met him at a conference in the late 1970s where he was a speaker.
Three to Watch
Click on their name and the link will take you to their Amazon Author Page to learn more about each. Lindsay Buroker is the most prolific of the three listed below. Each author has a unique style. In time, with focus on the science fiction genre, they could potentially become one of the all-time giants of the genre. Who am I to say this? I am just a fanboy reader of the genre.
Disclaimer: This article talks about religion in general and the Christian faith, in particular. Psalm 118:17 says “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”
Christian Writer or Writer Who Is a Christian?
Not all writers who are Christians are called by God to a full-time writing ministry or to write in the inspirational genre. Let’s be honest, not all authors write about God, Jesus or Christian themes.
People write about a variety of subjects. Writers write about what they know or what interests them. I know that is the way I do it.
Not all Christians actively practice their faith and beliefs. Many have struggles with their faith.
I consider myself a writer who is a Christian, not a Christian writer. My faith affects all areas of my life. It slips into my writing most of the time. Sometimes I even do it on purpose!
Encourage Others To Trust in Jesus Christ
Psalm 118:17 is in an account where the psalmist reminds us we should conscientiously do our duty to all, and trust God to accept and bless us. It says we should seek to live to declare the works of God.
It’s okay for a Christian writer to encourage others to trust in Him, serve Him and live for Him. Such were the triumphs of the Son of David, in the assurance that the good pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand.
Commit Our Works to the Lord
We should commit our works to the Lord. Try praying for a vision for your writing, to God to give you the desire to write, and to open doors of opportunity for you to write.
If you are a Believer in Christ, you can then “declare the works of the Lord.” Include your faith in your writing just like you do in your everyday life.
Do Not Hold Back
In the late former Beatles member George Harrison’s autobiography “I, Me, Mine” he mentioned he did not hold back in promoting his Hinduism faith and the Hare Krishna movement with songs like “My Sweet Lord”. He viewed his celebrity as a way to support his beliefs.
Include Your Faith in Your Writing
Why shouldn’t a Christian include faith in his or her writings? Again, Psalm 118:7 says “…declare the works of the Lord.” Habakkuk 2:2 declares “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” The key is the writer needs to write. Your faith is part of who you are.
This article originally appeared in the February 11, 2015 issue of Author Culture.
Two of my personal traits are patience and persistence. I needed them both this morning as I spent two hours and fifteen minutes online with technical support, customer support, and their managers at a major IT services company.
Without mentioning the web hosting company’s name, I negotiated the labyrinth and achieved my goal of canceling services I had purchased with a full refund. The cancellation was not easy. Getting the full refund was even more of a challenge.
Never Give Up
I had tried their 30-day full money back guarantee purchase of some bundled web hosting services. Each part of the bundle had their own customer retention team whose mission in life was to keep you from canceling. It took an act of will for me to make it through this challenge.
I had hoped to go to coffee with the men in my Bible fellowship class at 7:30 am. Instead, I spent from 6 am to 8:15 am being very patient and very persistent.