So you want to be a successful Fantasy Author?

There is a lot to Fantasy.

So you want to be a successful fantasy author? So do I. Let’s tackle this together. I assume that when most people and by most people, I am referring to “Joe blogs”, the average entertainment consumer who enjoys a good fantasy blockbuster film or fantasy TV series but doesn’t go out on a limb to find new fantasy authors. I would assume that when they think of the ‘fantasy genre’ they think of writers like George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson. TV series like  Game Of Thrones, Outlander, The Witcher and movies like The Lord of the rings,  Time Bandits, Conan The Barbarian, Avatar and the Dark crystal. And anything with themes of powerful magic, dragons, wizards, ancient empires, shamans, grand battles, wolf men, vampires and we should not forget, assassins in the shadows.

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The choices of a first time Fantasy Author. 

So my first thought as an aspiring fantasy author with an SEO and marketing background would be to analyse all the above and write something that fits what the market wants. Why? Because there are lots of sub-genres within the fantasy genre, and each of these sub-genres of fantasy is loyal. Some are extremely popular and others are just plain weird. And if you want to be a best-selling fantasy author, it seems you best write what the good people of the internet want to actually read (and there are tools like Publisher Rocketto help you find this info).  However, I have some problems with this motivation of writing to the audience and especially for a fantasy writing novice like myself, on a crusade to immortalise his first fantasy novel.

1) I would most definitely fail because Joe Bloggs is not my target audience. Joe Bloggs is not going out of their way to buy a new fantasy author, one so wet behind the ear he dreams of disrupting the fantasy genre, fantasy TV and Film space. Nope, ain’t going to happen. Joe Bloggs finds their fantasy via Netflix or some other platform that only promotes big established Ideas that have already proven profitable.  

2) If I did decide to write for a specific niche or genre, I would have to do a lot more research because as stated ‘Joe Bloggs’ is not my demographic. The fantasy I have written is a hybrid, high fantasy crossed with science fiction elements, barbarians, ethnography, mind vampires, demons, conspiracy theories and ancient gods.  So as much as I believe it will appeal to the mass audience and blockbuster loving Joe blogs, I would have to prove it first. Prove it with real fans of fantasy. I hope these fans exist. And, yes, I have still to find the subcategories to push my fantasy novel in.

3) And that brings me to my final problem with the width and variety of the Fantasy Genre, I have been writing my book for almost two decades. Yes, you read that right! And in this time I have read a lot of books about many things and had a life full of experience and these rich experiences in some way or another have influenced the flow and direction of my fantasy story, world-building, characters and more. And there is nothing like the epic fantasy story I have written (for good or bad). It’s definitely against the mould, as for me that is the whole point of fantasy and sci-fi. These are the genres where the imagination can be unleashed, where limitation has no footing, where the inner child can release the world imagined. So for the moment writing for the popular fantasy genres or the trending themes is not viable. Possibly it will be in the future because I like you have many ideas, but first and foremost I must get this one out first.

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This is not to say that when I finally finish editing my book and have it ready for self-publishing, that I will not use my SEO background to fully understand the categories, keywords, best-selling authors and best-selling titles in the space where I will be competing. I will treat it as seriously as I treat the many battles and skirmishes my characters endure. I will be going into book launch like a warrior that’s been promised freedom on victory. So for this first one, I am just going to write and enjoy the creative process, enjoy the freedom that the fantasy genre offers me. When it’s time to answer the question, about what sub-genre of fantasy did you write? Is it dystopian, robots, superhero, time travel, spine chilling horror, LGBT, Action-adventure, young adult, dark fantasy, epic fantasy, romantic, Arthurian, coming of age, dragons and mythical creatures, gas lamp, historical, magical realism, military, Asian, Greek, roman, biking, Norse, urban, paranormal, sword and sorcery, English, Scottish, earth, steampunk or space opera? Then I will hopefully have an answer!! The funny thing is, there are even more categories of fantasy than I just listed! And mines kind of closely fits more than a few.

But I have to finish editing the book before I can put it in a box and pigeonhole it, define it and market it.

Writing Process

I am fairly fast and disciplined when writing non-fiction, the subjects I pick are familiar to me and I find them easy to plan, research and write. Fantasy, however, is another beast entirely. I tend to have a loose plan; I like to have a character, theme, location, message etc in mind and then just write. Let my subconscious mind find the magic, let the words spill on to the page via my hand. Then I rewrite it, take some ideas and notes about where it could go, how it ties in and simply rinse and repeat. Over time, the story builds slowly, characters become known to me, locations, cultures, ideas begin to form strong roots in my mind. The pace of the story picks up, and the story writes itself.

I know of friends who plan every chapter, every character, then build those characters, I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way. Saying that this is my first Fantasy Book so I am no expert in fiction writing and my opinion may currently hold no real value. After all, at this stage, I am an unpublished fantasy author sitting on 130K words with dreams of tv shows and adoring fans. You could say I am living in a fantasy.

Writing Software

I have used a few different pieces of software over the years; I started writing my Fantasy novel on a MacBook Pro, no not the new swanky sleek metallic looking numbers, this one I am sure had valves, it radiated heat enough to warm a room. It had a ball built-in for a mouse and was about four inches thick!! I think it was called a Macintosh Power Book.

*Note I have affiliate products in the list and where appropriate I will disclose them. However, I only recommend products I use, affiliate or not.  

Scrivener

A fantastic writing tool that allows you to organise large volumes of information. Before Scrivener, I had forty plus chapters in separate word documents and another one hundred plus documents with notes, characters, brain dumps, structures, drawings, quotes, etc. It was hellish. With Scrivener it’s all in the same folder, I think they call them binders, but I always just think of it as a folder. From within the one folder/ binder, you can create your documents and write. The Folders are always present on the left with the actual document on the right. (You can set it up any way you wish). If you’re working on chapter 33 and want to update chapter 22, because something needs to be fixed. Then just click on 22, no separate window popping up for a new document etc, you are just there in 22 ready to write. It’s amazing. It has a tone of features that I have not looked at from formatting to exporting ebooks etc. Click the link to check it out. If you buy I get a wee slice, this does not affect the price you pay. It will change the way you write.

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Google Docs 

Excellent tool for writing, for me it replaced word and open office many years ago. I love the fact that I can access and create documents on the go and everything syncs seamlessly. When I am ready to import something into Scrivener, I can just copy and paste it from Google docs. I should note that when I am writing fantasy or non-fiction, I write on a desktop PC. I like the fact that when I sit down at the computer, it’s work time. A defined space that encourages me to write.

Google Keep 

As I am out and about and away from my desktop most of the day and therefore away from Scrivener, I take most of my notes in Google keep on my phone. In my book “Smartphone Media Production”, I talk a bit about Google Keep, it’s one of my favourite apps. Download it,  it’s free. If I wake up with ideas or get a great idea when out and about, or sitting on the couch, etc. I open up Google keep and get it down. When I jump on the pc, it’s there waiting for me to feed it into Scrivener.

Trello 

Trello is a great visual app for reorganising ideas seamlessly, visually, quickly. You can create complex boards and move ideas about between the boards. Allowing you to quickly rearrange and test themes, character developments and more. And its app works seamlessly across mobile and PC.

Pro-Writing Aid

It’s like a grammar checker on steroids. Grammar is not my strong point. Imagination, curiosity, storytelling, math, these I am good at. Grammar not so much, but I am getting there and Pro Writing Aid is my tutor. Pro Writing Aid provides live edits of my document as well as the ability to run over twenty different reports to determine everything from slow paragraphs, pacing,  sticky sentences, cliches, readability, sentence length,  repeat words and more. And the best thing for me is it integrates seamlessly with both Scrivener and Google Docs.   Click the link to check it out. If you buy I get a wee slice, this does not affect the price you pay, even better I have a coupon for you!! 20% off!

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Affinity photo 

An odd choice of software to be in the list of a fantasy writer, you may think. And you would be right, but I am also a media professional and very visual orientated. I mock up landscapes and characters, to help me visualise the environments I am trying to describe. I can’t be alone in doing this. Using images to transport me to a far off world where my imagination takes over and my charters and my world comes to life.  

Marketing for a Fantasy Author

Where to start, I could write a book on this, seriously. One of my non-fiction titles is a marketing book, and it is my profession. And in all honesty, it is something I have already blocked out.  But for the purposes of this article on “becoming a fantasy author” then I will disclose some obvious things I am currently doing. 

Social Media

Building an audience on Social Media. Join me on Instagram and Twitter. I use Content Studio and for $69 you can get a lifetime deal with this offer. It will blow your mind. 

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Blogging

This here is an example.

Podcast

I have set up a podcast, but it’s something I need to explore more. They take a lot of time and effort, so still contemplating whether the time is better used writing.

Videos

Short marketing videos. Check out my YouTube channel for more.

Website

A fast loading website with great content. Yes, I am working on the content;) But if you want to measure every aspect of your website and take your SEO to the next level. Check out SE Ranking. 

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Newsletter

I have a subscription and sign up options, not sent an email yet, but feel free to sign up.

Amazon Research

Probably the most important aspect of becoming a Fantasy Author in today’s Amazon dominated book world. Get ahead of the game with Publisher Rocket. I use it for my other books and WOW. 

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The Dream of a Fantasy Author

To write an award-wining fantasy series that gets widely read and converted into tv, film and games. Is that not every Fantasy Author’s dream?

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