Recently, in my Science Fiction Course, I had the opportunity to hear from the published fantasy author, Lance Conrad. He is the writer of the books: The Prince of Creation, The Prince of Nobility, The Prince of Loyalty, and The Weight of Swords. This week I would like to share some of the main points from his presentation with all of you that may or may not have had the opportunity to attend his book talk. You can click on the image bellow to link to his website.
Lance believes he became an Author through hard dedicated work not through talent alone.
He told us that one of the things he got asked about the most as an author was how it felt to finally see his books in print. I thought it was very interesting however that he talked about getting published is usually what young aspiring authors see as the ultimate achievement, but there's a lot more to being an author than just getting your book into print. Yes, publishing is a great accomplishment and an amazing milestone, I am not by any means here to look down upon that but, many new authors totally forget about the marketing side of being an author.
He said “Most of us authors are introverts, we are the ones back at a desk behind a computer writing. We don't like to be the ones actually talking about our books.”
To this I agree too oh so well, which brings me to the next important point from Lance’s Presentation. I had the opportunity to personally ask him this question myself.
2) I asked Lance what he did to promote his books and this is the answer I got:
As many of you know I have been looking for ways to better market my own book, so why not learn from someone who has done it right? Well, the answer I got was that Lance actually started out just about as naive into his dream as I am for mine. He started believe it or not selling his books door to door. You’re probably thinking at this point something like “what the heck was he thinking?”. When it came down to it though, he talked to us about what he learned from those miserable days with door to door selling and rejection letters from libraries and book stores. Lance had come to the conclusion that he was just too new. He did tell us that his days with door to door pitching of his book did help him with public speaking however and that through this he learned to really tell his story orally to the point of his book pitch becoming perfect and memorized.
3) If you want your dreams to become reality you have to be persistent enough to pursue them.
I think this is probably the best thing I got out of Lance's book talk. Along these lines he talked about not being afraid to look stupid sometimes. The successful people are the ones who have enough perseverance to withstand the pear pressure. Think of Thomas Edison, if he would have given up then we wouldn’t have light bulbs. Likewise Lance also told us to “learn by doing, keep asking questions.” I thought it was interesting that he brought the whole curiosity of learning theme to the table, this is how our high school is trying to train students to think.
I was selected to be part of the student learning “experiment” as I will call it way back during my freshman year. You know what? It changed my life. I realized that there was so much more to school than the grades. I often think that grades alone are a very poor way to measure success. Ask me how much information I actually have retained from all my years in school. It’s not as much as you would think. Why? Well, because I remember the information I have actually used over and over again. So, the big take away here is that some of us are meant to jump from thing to thing, until we find something that will forever feed our curiosity. For Lance Conrad this thing is writing books. It really inspired me, I feel like I fit his description well of the “job jumper” at the moment.
4) Characters are the most important element for your story.
Characters drive your story, they make the events in the story matter. Lance used the example of Harry Potter here, which I really liked so I’ll reiterate what he said. He talked about how Harry Potter was such an innocent character and then JK Rowling kinda beat the crap out of him. However, it is all these hardships that Harry Potter faced that makes us as the readers connect to him.
Lance told us this, “The hero can’t be perfect. Make your main character struggle, have doubts, and fear. Give them things they have to overcome in your story. Good characters have trails. They chose to still go on with all fate against them.”
I love this so much because it reminds me of the Hero’s Journey writing model. The whole point of the hero’s journey is to make an ordinary character a better person by putting them through extraordinary circumstances. It is in these circumstances that your character has to choose between becoming a hero or a selfish brat. This is why I also believe that literature itself makes us better people if we chose to learn from it. We may not have superpowers or dragons to ride but we all have something very powerful within us, our human nature. At some point in our lives all of us will make choices between the forces of good and evil, for better and for worse.
Through my own writing journey with Shyelle - Rise of the Dragon Kingdoms my characters have grown as I have grown with them as the writer. Remember that. You as the writer must submit yourself to becoming a better person too. Many of the challenges Kristen faces as the main character in Shyelle are real things that I have faced for myself personally. My own hardships give me something fascinating to write about. Consider this, especially when you feel that you're losing a firm grip on your dreams.
5) A writer is only as good as his/her connections to his/her readers
It's one thing to be a writer, but it's a whole new world to be out there with your writing and to be successful at sharing it. Lance talked a lot about being proactive with your work as a writer. He said that you really have to just buckle down and talk to people because your book really won’t start to matter until it matters to your readers. You have to be willing to write and then to share. Best selling authors become best selling authors because they share what they have written and learned along the way.