Photograph via snooOG

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178,450 Subscribers


Thoughts on this first chapter?

I'm currently working on fixing and editing the firs draft of the first book in a series of books I plan on releasing. The story in which these books is based on is about the life of a young wizard called Lelouch Paulizox and him discovering the world around him. The first chapter shows Lelouch and his mother and an introduction to how the world that exists today, being one ruled by the Elf Kingdom and the Sacred Saints, came to be. Please let me know if I should fix any structural issues, your thoughts on my description of characters, as well as your thoughts on whether or not the end of the chapter seems abrupt or not.

Thanks for all your help.

Lelouch Paulizox

Chapter 1.


“Lelouch, you did it!” My mother cheered as she enclosed me in her airtight hug. Her caramel curly hair and green speckled eyes dazzling with excitement at what I’ve just done, my first summoning. 

“You really are something you know that, a masterpiece in my eyes. So…. whatcha gonna call him?” She asked releasing me from her warm entrapment.

I looked down at my summoning and saw the little fire-fox prancing around in my small, tanned burgundy, brown hands. His tail releasing soft red and orange flames upon them, a quiet beauty emitting from it’s heat. His small mane and soft yet deadly face did terrify me but not his eyes. I would look upon them and instantly feel an overwhelming calmness. The dark emptiness in his eyes didn’t give away any emotion nor beauty yet I found myself unable and unwilling to look anywhere else. 

“Can’t think of anything?” My mom asked looking at me pondering over what I have just done. I shook my head feeling embarrassed by the whole ordeal. 

“Okay fine. Let me do the honour.” She signed out dramatically putting her hand on her graceful complexion, her midnight dark face frowning while it searched for a name. Her soft eyebrow and lashes lashed about thinking for a name and soon a name arrived, she pointed her shining dark finger at me and asked, “How does Kitsune sound?” 

 I thought on it for some time, nodded my head in agreement and whispered his name in my heart then engulfed the flame. 

“You are doing really well Lelouch, you’re a fast learner too but I think that’s enough for today.” She stood up as she said that and made for the kitchen, as I realised it was soon time for dinner. That meant that it was time for a story, one that my father used to read to me before his disappearance. I was young when it happened so the details of my father’s appearance are a little blurry. The only time I saw him nowadays was through the family portrait on the table in his study.

He had frizzy dark nappy hair complementing of a scientist, his broad shoulders and muscle deprived body working in awkward contrast with his sunlit cheerful face. His caramel brown tone fighting in a battle of beauty against my mother’s darkened twinkling skin. I stood in the middle of the photo smiling in between them, the green fields behind us and exhausted setting sun making us glow in its evening glow. My mother’s white dress and sunflower hat waiting for such a perfect photo, while my dad’s full black suit found the setting repulsive. I always found it funny how my dad always wore suits everywhere but home, even in the flower pickled location we spent that day at.

 Inside the study laid a huge book on the floor, the only one that my mom would read to me. I ran to the book, eager to hear its tale once more. I ran over its cover with my fingers and felt the symbols on it burning against my hands. I always loved the sensation, along with the circle on the first page and it’s burned mark on its surface. I pushed the book back to my mother who was almost done with dinner. 

“So that’s what you left in a hurry for, I’ll read to you once this food’ll be finished.” She said, her calmness spitting through the small Calcoon we stayed in.

“Food’s ready!” She yelled bringing the warm bowls of stew towards me. She sat next to me on the carpet floor and handed me my bowl and cutlery, the stew and rice laid before me.

“Alright let’s begin shall we.” She said turning the excessively large cover page over, the cover making a thud as it hit the ground. 

“Long ago they lived a man named Paulizox and his beautiful wife Zitheo, they were a young married couple but quite wise. The two wizards were feared by all other creatures because of their immense power. Like all wizards and witches their jobs were to be vagabonds, trading with other countries and honing their abilities as they lived feared yet peacefully through their life. They had journeyed for a year before returning to their central kingdom, filled with thousands of Vagabonds, with new trade items and information about the world.

As the two lovers found their home once again, they were met by the kingdom’s same enthusiasm as always. Children practicing spells in the streets, adults flying from and to distant lands carrying bags of goods with them. The large wooden huts on the sides of the road shuffled nervously away as the couple walked through the kingdom, for here they were royalty.

‘Your Majesties!’ Their trusted bodyguard Trivox blurted out jogging towards them. 

‘Oh Tri-Tri how nice to see you, how’s the protection of our kingdom going?’ Zitheo questioned him as he stood before them panting.

‘Your Majesty, it’s terrible!’ The guard screeched.

‘What is?’ Paulizox asked, his voice trembling the ground itself.

‘The elves, they’ve had enough of our ever-growing knowledge and ability. They’re waiting to hold a meeting with you both about a potential war.’ 

The couple’s faces froze at the guards’ comment. They glanced at each other only for a moment then disappeared and reappeared in their own throne room. The room was impressive but there is no time for such an explanation for the current events mattered more. 

‘What is this I hear, Ludacris!?’ The couple bellowed onto the Elf King sitting on Paulizox’s seat.

‘Oh, you’re home I see.’ The Elf King, Ludacris Leopold, said.

‘What is it you wish to speak about Ludacris?’ Zitheo asked, a murky purple aura evaporating around her. She started to levitate slightly as her cloak wafted in the air.

‘Wizards and witches, that’s what I wanna talk about!’ Ludacris exclaimed, powerful emotions making the words brought out of soft lips expand over the kingdom. He sat back on the throne and ran a finger through his muddy gold amber hair, the green in his eyes dangerous and unrecognizable in his docile freckled face. The white suit he wore with no shoes showed the elves' business and nature side, his pale complexion sparkling in the afternoon sun. 

‘I never liked you folks, I do not like how you look, what you do, the clothes you wear are most appalling. I mean you two are royalty, yet you dress in robes with peasant clothes under about it, it’s terrifying, disgusting, so you like.’

‘So, you have come to insult our ways is that it? Is this why war is in the mist? Paulizox slammed his hand on the throne Ludacris still sat on demanding answers.

‘I wouldn’t go to war over pity. The problem with you folk is that you’ve been living freely for centuries now, I mean you don’t even attend the Meeting of Old with the rest of the Sanctions. It’s your power and freedom of the “vagabond” lifestyle that brought you here I’m afraid, sorry for, don’t care about what needs to be done.’

Outside the throne room a large rumbling followed, the roof began trembling terribly and the walls shook in grand vulgar. The scent of the Ki’ond came through the kingdom and all the kingdom’s citizens turned pale as it zoomed past them. Ludacris smiled wildly and laughed at the Polaroid of frozen faces. The scent putting everyone in a momentarily trance, forcing the wizards and witches of the kingdom to their knees, only the royals remained standing straining to move. 

‘Ludacris you’re insane, this’ll kill everyone. This isn’t war, it’s genocide! How could you side with them? What did they promise you?!’ 

Zitheo interrogated him but was only answered with a deep smile and that same foul scent.

 It was the scent of sea water if that same water was polluted by the people of UnLived. It was the scent of a green pasture, as if it were riddled with people’s lust, hatred, greed, and struggle for power. It was the scent of roses, ones doused in pink stained organs fertilizing their roots and being absorbed by the soil. It was the scent of the Kiond, the scent of the most merciless demon tribe. The scent remained there for hours on end as it eroded everything around it.

Once night befell the kingdom, the scent finally vanished, but it was too late. The damage had been done. The couple still stood in their throne room but all that remained of the palace was their thrones with no sight of Ludacris. The palace walls, roof, residents were all gone now. Rolled away by the dreadful scent of the Ki’ond. The once grand kingdom sang a lonely tune, no people resonated throughout the land. The only sounds heard was the cheerful playing of corrupt flames and the collapsing of feeble buildings. This was just the beginning to the long conflict between the Vagabonds and the rest of the world."

I sat there not understanding most of the story yet still remembered how the word Ki’ond sent shivers through my nervous system.

“Any questions?” My mom asked me, as she took the empty bowls back to the sink.

‘Yeah, what did Paulizox and Zitheo do after their home was destroyed? And where are the Ki’onds now.’ I asked.

“I couldn't really tell you if I wanted to. Most schools would even tell you that everything I just told you was nothing but make believe." She said as she began shoving me to my room.

'So the story's fake then?' I pondered, driving my heels into the ground to stop me from moving.

"Who's to say what's real or fake? I think you should believe what you what to believe in, it's more fun that way. Now time for bed, tomorrow’s a big day.” She said, not leaving any room for any more questions.

1 Comment
17:11 UTC


Writing Tips for Romance Scenes?

I don't mean a full blown romance novel, but more so a scene between two characters who are partners! It's not a plot point in my book, but it is an important part of the main character.

See, I've always liked writing angst and gore more than romance, but I suppose a book can't be ONLY angst.

Every time I try to write a semi-romantic scene between these two characters of mine, I feel like it's cringey and I feel almost embarrassed reading it back to myself. Which is frustrating because in my book, these two characters have been partners for a while and are very much in love.

When I write a scene with just the two of them, it feels awkward and stuff for them to show any sort of affection.

Any advice on how to make it seem natural? Phrases or descriptions to use? Thank you in advance! :)

1 Comment
15:25 UTC


What kind of plot device involving aliens appeals to you the most?

  1. aliens are able to transfer consciousness, aka their mind can occupy a human body
  2. aliens can morph into humans, creating a perfect copy of them, (kind of done before in books like Anihilation, so not sure about this one)
  3. aliens are forced into the human mind by a machine powered by a special alien rock formation and against their will, have to merge with our mind. this would result in a cross mixed race
  4. alien DNA injected into humans, resulting in mutations and all sorts of abilities

Help me out here! I need something original that serves as a methaphor for questioning the value of humanity as a species. Thank you!

15:19 UTC


How many of you storyboard your plot before you begin writing?

I mean have the story fully flushed out before you start any writing. I've never used storyboard before but I understand they can be really useful, I'm curious how many people here use them!

15:06 UTC


[Blurb] Just finished my first description for a new book I’m starting. Would you read this? If not, what would you change?

“[WIP] is a captivating tale that dives into the world of a young woman plagued by an otherworldly presence. For twenty-four years, she has battled the relentless haunting of a mysterious equine spirit, its presence tearing at the very fibers of her soul. Countless therapy sessions and close counters lead her to the brink of a devastating psychotic break. As she teeters on the brink of madness, a startling revelation unravels the truth behind her stalker: the supernatural force haunting her is none other than her own guardian angel. With her perception shattered and her reality altered, she embarks on a compelling journey to decipher the meaning behind this ethereal connection.

Can she find solace in the embrace of her newfound companion, or will this newfound truth only deepen her emotional torment?”

View Poll

14:53 UTC


Ok. A quick exercise -- feedback please.

I have an Achilles heel - Showing v. Telling gets me every time. So I'm going to try something and throw it on the wall to see if it works. A short scene - and I need you to tell me how that Showing v. Telling ratio is going. I need to learn how to find it in my own writing. And that means I need help in being able to see it.

So, please--- have at.

"The Emperor has no clothes."

As the words left my mouth the floor fell out from beneath my feet and I grabbed hold of the podium with both hands, straining to hold myself upright while my knees withered beneath me. This was madness, insanity, foolishness and folly at the highest level, and yet, courage, too. I drew my breath in through my nose careful not to gasp like a fish before the cameras. All eyes were trained on my face, every nuance captured and relayed over the nation. I stood alone among my peers and spoke the obvious that they were too afraid to utter, for fear of the mob turning on them.

A chill bead of sweat collected at the base of my skull. The urge to swallow it all back turned my stomach over. I gripped the podium tighter to still my trembling hands. Would they see? Lord let them be blind, because weakness, or a trace of doubt, meant my end.

The silence stretched and the faces all down the line to my left and right were a wall of furrowed brows and taut lips. Lips drawn sharp in displeasure, like razor wire. And the tongues behind them sharp as knives and each one poisonous. The facilitator, seated at their plasticine desk, nodded for me to continue and pointed to the still ticking clock.

I flexed my hands about the podium and with a flash of sharpened teeth I spoke.

"What my colleagues are too timid to say is that we have all been lulled, by convention, by expectation, by fear into agreeing that the emperor who rules us is dressed in the finest robes. He claims to glitter and we echo his statement. He proclaims the rarity of the damask in his cloak and we obediently agree.

"Look how fine his clothing is. They sparkle and catch the sunlight making him a Pheobus among us mere mortals. Rich silks and precious stones are indeed his due, and we seen them. Yes, we do. Because we fear if we don't agree in the illusion that we will be ridiculed as less."

How my knees trembled, making my teeth click with snapped syllables. I stared at the lens. The clock ticked above it in a steady countdown to the explosion that would follow.

"But, I am here to tell you, the Emperor has no clothes--"

13:29 UTC



Can someone help me think of a one liner that will fit as a name for our Newsletter? The theme I wanna go with is something like “reaping what you sow” and “harvesting”. Thank youuu

13:26 UTC


Writing (lyrics) Block Tips

I’ve been through countless writers blocks and i’ve heard two main strategies for solving it. option 1: always be writing, always keep the pen moving. stream of consciousness, freewrites, always be writing. option 2: just wait for it to come to you, don’t force it. which do you guys think works better?

11:30 UTC


In my story, I want magicians to defend themselves with a magic barrier like this one. How should I describe it? Is it OK if I call it "bubble shield"? Or is the word "bubble" too jolly and childish for serious battles?

08:28 UTC


Old Money Frat Guys

I am writing a fictional novel that includes rich, old money fraternity guys at a wealthy private elite uni. And I am having some trouble identifying some everyday conversations that they would have with one another. What are some casual conversations that wealthy, old moneyed fraternity guys would talk about besides sex, drugs, and girls? Can someone help me?

07:55 UTC


Is it ok to end a book on a cliffhanger ending?

I wanted my book to be a thinnish book - aimed at teens. I felt books that were not too think would do better.However, it has morphed into a much bigger book. It could possibly pass for 1 heavy book, but Ideally, I would like to split it up into 2 books. However, I don't know how to end the first book. Is it ok to end it on a cliffhanger? Or does it need some kind of closure? I've never written anything before...

06:23 UTC


Best online app to use for writing

I'm looking for an app that would work for a book that I want to write, it going to be my first one and I wanted to get some recommendations for an app I could use, would a simple app just like Microsoft Word work good?

06:13 UTC


One idea for how to start your story

05:56 UTC


Can I share short stories/warm ups?

I’m an aspiring author, and I want to improve on my writing and character voice. Would it be against the rules if I posted short stories here to ask for advice on how to improve?

05:14 UTC


Here’s the opening paragraph for the possible opening scene of chapter 1 for my story

Here’s the beginning paragraph for one of the scenes of chapter 1 that I wrote today for volume 1 of my series Mysteriarch Mythos, which will probably be the opening scene of the story:

As soon as Mercia and his investigative research team arrived at the base of the Skyline communications tower on the SpectacleRock Hills-Plateau, within the Tarmynean Underground known as ‘the chasm-depths’, the Professor of chasm-depths archeology Atmus and his research assistant Joshamèy were standing in front of the towers front door waiting for them.

Any thoughts on whether or not this would be a good opening paragraph for the opening scene or does it sound more like a middle scene for chapter 1? I’m planning on this being the opening paragraph for chapter 1 of the story.

02:47 UTC


I'm looking for feedback on my wip fantasy novel


I'm still fairly new to writing but I've been enjoying it so far. There are 4 full chapters and a partial 5th at the moment. Thank you for taking time to check it out.

02:15 UTC


I've finished my book! (Yay!) What do I do next? (Help!)

Fellow writers, I need help. I wouldn't even let myself daydream about publishing until I finished my book. Well, I have finished my book, and I know the next step is finding an agent, but I'm not sure how to approach this next step. I have a few very basic questions:

1 - The only process I know of to try to find an agent is through using #MSWL on Twitter. I've spent evenings and weekends using this method and the search and vetting process takes a long, long, long time. Are there other places/processes I can utilize to find an agent?

2 - How do I get comfortable pitching/querying my book and clearly identifying it for potential agents when there seem to be an infinite amount of genres that I've never heard of? I was an English major in college, and I just discovered that "Women's fiction" or "Up market fiction" are things. Any guides/content that helped you break it down?

3 - My book is pretty niche (which I know isn't necessarily a good thing, but it’s my story to tell so here I am). How do I find similar books that I can compare to mine and writers I can observe (and support!) and follow the breadcrumbs on... when there seem to be a million books and authors and a million more agents out there?

4 - I have little network for writing (though I run a bookclub) and zero network for publishing, besides here where I don't know anyone. How do I get to know people and built that network? I’m not a follow for a follow kind of a person, but I love genuine relationships. Any recommendations on virtual and in person opportunities where you've made true connections?

5 - I'm not sure if you've gathered yet, but I'm starting from 0 and so overwhelmed. I've seen the "Join a Facebook group or writing group" advice, but I need more. I've been writing in a cave, please have mercy. What Facebook group? Where do I find these people? How do I find the right one? Hold my hand.

6 - Finally, as someone who banned myself from consuming any of the following content, I'm now welcoming it with open arms. What content (any medium) have you found valuable around traditional publishing that may help a gal like me?

7 - I've submitted very few queries and though they were all rejections, I was pleased to see every query has received a response. All are the same theme: Interesting story, but not a huge market for it—which I can respect. But I would like to give traditional publishing a proper try before I turn to self-publishing. So please hold off on any Self Publishing tips. If you have any tips for niche books and publishing, my ears are open. And if this doesn’t go well, in a few months, maybe even years, I might find myself here again asking about self publishing, because one way or another, I'm going to do it.

8- Finally, I'd be remiss to not say something about my book. It's Women's Fiction (I think?) and is a collection of stories, short poem's, lists, questions that tell the story about a mother who is in way over her head. It's for anyone who wants a taste of real motherhood, and I’ve been surprised to find the audience for this book quite diverse.

9 - Truly finally. I'm not expecting a lot (if any) responses here. I’m asking for help instead of offering it as soon as I've finished and let myself browse. So please accept my apologies in advance… But I've finished my book, ran the marathon, and realized I've only scratched the surface. I can’t do this alone. I’m here on the internet reaching out for help and hoping a stranger might answer the call. As a full-time working mom who’s still following her dreams to become a published author, I know everyone’s time is valuable. Any help/guidance is so appreciated, as is your time to consider this post. Thank you.

01:34 UTC


It's hard to remember

That not everyone is meant to stay.

That those who turn your wasps nest into butterfly gardens will soon fade away.

It's hard to remember that it's okay to let go. That you've learned the lesson you needed to know.

Reality hits hard when you're on cloud 9. When nothing is real and everything is fine.

I offered you a shard of my heart. You took it with care and I fell apart.

I fell into your smiles, your dimples, your laugh. I fell into you and I couldn't find my way back.

You acted as a lantern, guiding me with a warm light. You led me out of the caverns of self hate and self spite.

You were my Romeo, nestled across the sea. I would have stayed your Juliet if we could just be.

But the time has come, the lesson learned. The river of us has finally turned. So I navigate these rapids, holding on for dear life, looking back at your smile, your heart, your eyes.

I have the tools you were meant to give. I leave your sanctuary for the life I'm meant to live.

I don't hate you. I couldn't if I tried. I thank you for the view from a lovers eyes.

I hope I taught you as much as you taught me, though it certainly wouldnt make this goodbye easy.

Farewell my love, my darling, my sweet. You are the best soul I have had the pleasure to meet.

Those three words uttered in the notes of your voice, will stay with me always, a reminder of choice.

And each flower I see hold your sweet smile..even though I have to say, Goodbye to my gardener..

I won't see you in a while

1 Comment
23:13 UTC


I vow to love me

Even when sleep eludes me, when my mind can't soothe me

I vow to love me Even when the mirror screams profanities, when the nightmares won't unhand me.

I vow to love me When someone says I'm too much or when I feel a lack of touch.

I vow to love me Even when sunsets make me sad, when anger makes me feel bad.

For me, I am the best soul who cares, Who knows all the secrets I can't share Who knows all my hopes, all my dreams Who knows all the things that make me, me.

I vow to love me Wholly and deeply, even when I feel that no one can see me.

1 Comment
23:03 UTC


Self-published short form essay writer -- is anyone else doing this?

Hello -- I would describe my own goals and style of writing as above (short form essays). I think some of my references would be David Foster Wallace/Joan Didion/Hunter S. Thompson types. I self-publish on a website that I developed and own -- although I'd imagine others might use a Substack (or, if not self-published, might go to magazines). I suppose what I'm doing could be described as blogging too, although that feels more like a technological phenomenon than a creative pursuit.

Anyway, I'm curious what communities exist out there for people doing what I'm doing. Ideally, I'd love to find other people's stuff to read, people to read my stuff, people with whom I could brainstorm ways to make this kind of writing work. I know for a fact that I don't want the narrative weight of a book or anything of that caliber, so I'm curious what alternatives are out there.

If anything, I'm just curious how defined this category is. I'm fairly new to this world, so I'm not entirely sure what leg work has been done by others towards establishing this. Any resources, insights, perspectives, et. cetera would be appreciated. Thanks!

22:53 UTC


I need help with my character

Hello, i need help with a character that i am making, i usually write short stories and poetry ( in my language ) but not this time. Been creating short stories the second i learned how to write and been doing it for fun. I started writing this idea that came up out of no where it was meant to be short as usual but for some reason im so interested in the characters and for the first time i want to know what heppen in their past, the first one was easy to create and figure out and make a realistic history. But not the second one.

The second character is a girl who studied in germany, because im not from Europe and never seen anything about europian/german childhood and schools im not able to come up with anything for her history. And figure out why she developed to become who she became. I usually meet people with similar history to the characters/stories i make. And their stories give me a chance to have unique characters.

But im not able to get in touch with anyone from germany especially, is there any other way do you guys use that help you create history for your characters?

22:11 UTC


can you use a Disney movie as inspiration for a story

So I'm writing a story and it is inspired by the Disney movie, Tangled. I don't think it's too similar, but I wpuld still like to know your thoughts. So my story has a thief breaking into a Royal's room and them meeting and eventually falling in love. However both of them are male, and there is no magic hair, but instead elemental magic. And there are redhead twins but they're female succubi. That part should be fine I think, but there is a scene that is based off of that scene in the movie where Eugene looks at his wanted poster and laments that they got his nose wrong. In my version, it's a much more subtle difference, where the character says that the eye is the wrong shade of brown. (it's a colored wanted poster, just a small detail of the different world)

22:07 UTC


The Cosmos

The cosmos and the piercing awareness that we exist on a sphere, hovering amidst the void, born from eons of evolution, leave me transfixed. Our architects.

The fundamental explanation for our existence remains elusive. Yet, despite my fascination and profound affection for the star-studded firmament above, I cannot shake the feeling of being a 'bastard child' born of a cosmic orgy.

The stars, with their mute vastness, leave me bereft of answers, engulfing me in a profound bitterness that washes over me. Their brightness, too intense, seems indifferent to my deep fascination, accentuating the overwhelming space that separates us.

A wave of resentment washes over me, leaving me irked and incensed at our collective ignorance of why we're even here.

Then comes the sobering revelation that we're not here for a grand purpose. Humans exist not by design but as the outcome of a celestial bacchanal, a cosmic intermingling of elements that defy my comprehension.

We are organic matter, a byproduct of a cosmic mission that we may never fully comprehend, simply because we're not meant to. Some things are beyond our understanding. But that doesn't matter. Things just are as they are.

22:01 UTC


My life as a self-published author (so far)

Hey guys, a few days ago, I made a post on here talking about how I’ve been able to surpass the expectations I had for my book. I also wanted to show people that it’s ok to publish your work and you never know what will happen if you make the leap. A few people asked me to go more in-depth.

For starters, I have ZERO background in literature. No teacher told me I had a gift, I didn’t express interest throughout my life and even as a reader, I only go through about a dozen books a year. Few of my friends read and hardly anyone in my family has ever picked up a book. If I would’ve told people in my circle I had a secret project I was working on, “a book” wouldn’t have been one of their first 30 guesses.

The artistic pursuit I always wanted to go after was not writing but comedy. For years I tried to build up audiences on all the social media platforms. A few people always liked all my stuff but I didn’t really get too far. Nearing 30, I decided to try another venue. As a fan of fiction of every kind, I elected to try out writing. Story-based comedy had always been my favorite so I figured I could translate my creativity.

One day in May 2022, I started. I had done some research as to how much I should write. 1000 words a day seemed daunting and cranking out even a small book felt like a near impossible task but I hammered away. Every time that word count got higher, I got more motivated. 23 stories, 90,000 words and four months later, I was finished. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like I had won already. Still, I hadn’t told anyone.

My next focus was publishing. At the time, I did the same thing everybody does: I sought the traditional path. Doing even more checking, I began to form a general idea on how others send their work in. This is also when I joined Reddit and subs that were author-themed. As a short story writer, it was advised to send my work in to literary journals.

This proved to be the most frustrating part of the whole journey. I had nearly two dozen tales but they were vastly different and finding genre mags that were looking for stuff such as mine proved difficult.

I’m from a rural Appalachian small town and I firmly believe in “write what you know.” Didn’t plan it during production but I slowly realized I had churned out mostly thriller and horror short stories. Since I wanted to be a comedian, I also infused a bunch of humor in my work. I was told that comedy + short stories + a debut was a recipe for failure.

Even if I had written the most compatible stories ever, it wouldn’t have mattered much. It’s easy for armchair folks to tell aspirants to hit the Submission Grinder but the actual execution of that method is a roundabout. Many sites have closed down despite Google listing them as the place to go. A bunch of them are malware now. The ones who are open want very specific stories delivered in a very specific time: a one week period every two years. I fired off five emails anyway. Nearly a year later, just two have bothered to send a rejection.

A few weeks of slowly discovering this was ineffectual left me very flustered. It felt like writing the damn thing was the easiest part. Of course I had a general idea of what self-publishing was but I had fallen for that stupid stereotype that it was a method for those who just weren’t good enough to go “legit.” Finally, I gave in. Getting the book out was the primary goal. I told myself few people could claim they completed their passion project. I began to look around for self-publishing support.

After hours over weeks of learning about KDP and ISBNs, I felt like I was almost ready. Still hadn’t told a soul. Naturally, I wanted to tell my parents first. Despite being 30, I felt like a child trying to find a way to convince his mom to buy him a new video game when I called. It took me such a long time to stammer it out. Almost said “screw it” but I finally dropped the news. The response was kinda muted. Not that they didn’t care. It was just weird.

After explaining myself further, they were pretty proud of it. After that weight was lifted, blabbing about it on Facebook was very easy. Got a decent number of likes. Didn’t know when it would come out but this is when I realized I was going to get it out there.

Finally, I sat down in front of the KDP interface and spent most of an afternoon designing a cover and slapping together a title. “Scream if You’re Fun” was one that I had landed on a few days prior after several rejects. I believed the title succinctly summed up it was a horror comedy and the stock photo of a terrified looking amusement park carousel horse was a further testament to that vibe.

Knowing there would be an expected delay, the “in review” status still mortified me. I was terrified I had made some terrible mistake. Six hours later, the ebook went live. Although I now had claim as a published author, I wanted the paperback to be available too before I confirmed anything. This was another three days of stress.

My eyes lit up when I got the email both versions were ready. Going right from my Gmail inbox to Facebook, I dropped the news. At the time, despite the support a few weeks prior, I was worried sick not a single soul would buy either copy. Was $13 too much for a physical version?

To my surprise, I sold 16 books my first day. To be fair, these were my friends, most who didn’t read and just wanted to support me as a person. Others were family, again more of a gesture than anything. One of these copies was purchased by my aunt who bought it just to gawk at it.

For a little reference and to prove virtually every author no matter how small will deal with nonsense, I’ve had little contact with this woman. Although my book was marketed as an R-rated adult read, she still called my parents to plead for them to get my 30 year old ass help. This is from a “BOY NEEDS JESUS” perspective.

She’s an old Holler Memaw energy vampire who thinks her opinion matters much more than it does; a person Facebook at its worse is made for. Got really into anti-Harry Potter, SpongeBob and Pokémon movements despite being 20 years older than the majority of that demographic. Surprised she didn’t try to leave an anonymous negative review.

To get back to my marketing, another piece of beginners’ advice is to promote your book in Facebook groups. The first mistake every debutee makes is going into FB groups called like “PROMOTE YOUR BOOKS HERE” or such. You’re so blinded by the high of being published, you don’t realize these are voids where other authors are on there to hawk theirs. Nobody is buying anything.

I got a couple residual sales that I later found out were more hometown folks. An article in the local paper sold a few too. Nobody gets into this to just sell to their old teachers so I began to look for ways to break through. Now, all the writing subs have a strict “no self-promo” rule so I decided to get creative.

Since my book is very much an “Ohio”-first book, I chose to hit up the state Reddit as well as those of all the cities in the state. Thankfully, people were very supportive for the most part. I did get some downvotes on practically all of them but the positivity vastly outweighed the negative. I racked up sales from people who were more than happy to support a local author. Since I live 30 minutes from both the KY and WV borders and my area is culturally-identical, I advertised there too. I think by the end of those posts, I moved 100 units.

After exhausting the regional subs, I posted on other Reddits that my book appealed to. Since it’s Appalachian horror, I picked the “Old Gods of Appalachia” podcast, the “Tales from the Gas Station” series and a few comedy-themed subs. There were also some FB groups called like “Appalachian Horror” or “Haunted Ohio” that helped me out. Got some more sales but I was running out of communities.

After a few days of nothing, I decided to connect with people on social media who enjoyed my interests and similar concepts to those inside my book. Some might look at this as MLM-esque bothering but I was and still am genuinely interested in connecting with readers beyond simply selling them a product. I’ve messaged hundreds of people. A fair amount of them appreciated me reaching out and many have made a purchase. I’ve only gotten two people who were displeased.

Around this time I also connected with a couple relatively local authors. People from Kentucky and Tennessee who also wrote horrors and thrillers. I now count these people as my friends. They gave my book good reviews. With the ones I’ve received from my friends and a couple random people who blew me away with their enthusiasm for something I wrote, I was able to have a positive start with my star ratings on Amazon and GoodReads.

Unfortunately, I also suffered my first professional disappointments: my next five star review was sandwiched between a one star rating and a two star rating. Even as someone who’s very confident in my story-telling ability, I momentarily began to wonder if I had written the biggest piece of shit ever.

My frustrations were further compounded in the summer when my sales began to tank. I had no idea how to get the word out there anymore. To go along with the death of my beloved dog, it was a rough patch all June and July. With only about a dozen sales combined between the two months, I decided to lower the ebook price to 99 cents, a desperate move once upon a time I said I would “never” do. It seemed akin to tapping out.

Since it was now basically free on Kindle, I decided to try out Amazon Ads again. At the start of the book’s life, I lost an embarrassing amount of money this way with nary a sale. To my surprise, I started selling 2-3 a day. I also apologetically did a second tour of duty on all the subs I had hit up months ago with this new incentive. All but the Reddit for the State of Kentucky, who banned me, were very gracious and receptive once more.

Making my book 99 cents allowed me to more than triple my lifetime sales in August; the five days per 90 that you’re permitted to list it for free were particularly huge for me. These may not have been “paid” but people still snapped it up and my amount of GoodReads ratings tripled as well.

My book continues to sell at least one copy every other day or so. Right now, I’m taking a break on Ads. Now I’ve taken to reaching out to my local horror community, a method I should’ve tried earlier. I also started offering the handful of copies I had lying around the house to modest-sized influencers where a few are expected to have their reviews posted over the next few weeks.

I know this was quite a read but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished without a mailing list, author website or even a profile picture on my Amazon page and as I mentioned, I don’t even write in a super popular genre. So if you write domestic thrillers, romance or fantasy, you’ll probably do even better than me if you treat it like a job. If you have any other questions I may have glossed over, let me know!

21:27 UTC


Would it be strange/confusing to have a character called “Agnes” living in a city called St. Agatha?

There is no relationship between the two. Would this confuse or encourage readers to search for a connection?

21:12 UTC


Do you feel bad for this character?

I'm writing a story about a 21-year-old who has a personal genie that will grant him unlimited wishes with no limits. So far, he's on top of the world; he has money and other things any other 20-something would want. He can even wish for superpowers and travel to other multiverses if he wants. However, there is this girl he likes who's in a relationship. Because of this, he's brooding, depressed, serious, and does not smile. He really wants to be with her, and despite being able to wish to be with her, he doesn't. It's not that he doesn't have a rule against using magic to be with someone he likes; there are many ways he can do it (wish that someone is physically attracted to him and many others). He has done it with other crushes. Some older women who have been married for 10+ years especially use magic to get any woman he wants and get anything he wants; he just wants one thing, and that's to be with her, but he can't. Is this a good reason to brood?

20:51 UTC


Explain it like I am 5: How to stop info dumping in your story?

I am currently going to start on a new draft, I am reading my old draft and I basically tell the entire plot in the first 5 chapters. This is is my biggest crutch! I want to explain everything to the reader. I seriously need to learn how to pace better and not give every damn plot point away. Any help I will take! Thanks for your advice!

20:37 UTC


Funded Residency in Upstate NY

Application Deadline October 8th

The Kirkland Art Center residencies offer a week of unrestricted solo time and space granted to an artist who needs it for their work. Unlike some residencies that focus on cohorts and collaboration, these were designed for artists who may struggle to carve out solo space and time for creative work in their everyday lives— due to bill-paying jobs, caregiving responsibilities, and other restrictions that preclude longer residencies at other institutions.
One artist at a time is invited to stay for a week-long residency at The Garret on the Green, with dedicated studio space at the KAC and an unrestricted $500 stipend for food and travel.

Our 2024 residency dates will be:
Jan 29 - Feb 5th
Feb 12th - Feb 19th
Feb 26th - Mar 4th
Mar 25th - April 1st

Our next round of residencies will hold spots for:
TWO emerging artists working in any medium
ONE artist at any career stage working in cartoons, comics, or animation
ONE artist at any career stage working in any genre of folk music or dance

Apply at kacny.org/residencies

1 Comment
20:04 UTC


Secret identity

What do you think happens to a villain who’s identity is exposed?

I think: Social life is ruined, bounty goes up, disowned from their family, ostracized from society at large, hunted like a dog for life, depending on how bad they are… probably death penalty.

19:55 UTC


Cholla and El Humo (Spanish speakers please help)

These are the names of two of the towns in my book. I believe they mean “cactus” and “smoke plume” in Spanish. Would they be appropriate names for towns or do they sound dumb/weird/not mean what I think they mean? (I know very little Spanish)

For context these two towns are in a fantasy version of 1930’s New Mexico. Cholla is the boring village the main character lives in. El Humo is a bigger town named this for its abundance of burning chimneys. It ends up getting blown up and burnt to the ground when one of the inhabitants kills the child of a powerful mage. So the name is supposed to be ironic.

Not sure if this is the best sub for this question, but the Spanish speaking help sub had kinda intimidating rules 😅

Edit: ok so Cholla is a specific type of cactus, not all cactus.

19:44 UTC

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