Coming up with a great name for your characters is one of the hardest things to do as a fiction writer. The decision that’ll shape entire characters can often paralyze writers before they’ve even started writing a story.
Now, you may not want your name so bland, ordinary and pedestrian that they’re forgotten the moment the slip of the page. A good name, the right name, can complement or enhance a character’s personality. It can help a reader identify with your protagonist.
But, if you go too far the other way, creating a whacky or creative name, you can distract your reader. If it’s too far out of the genre or setting, a bad name can pull your character right out of the story. Too many similar names, and you’ll leave your reader playing a game of guess who.
So finding the perfect character names can be tricky.
Sometimes, you’ll know the name of the character before you know anything else about the story, set or plot. Other times, you’ll know everything about the character, right down to the colour of their underwear, except for his or her name. This course is for those times.
The course is broken down into three parts. For the first part of this course, we’ll be focussing on names from the real world. For the second part of this course, we’ll explore other genres. For the third part of the course, we’ll cover some naming conventions that cover both the real world and beyond.
So, I hope by taking this class, we can figure out your character’s name together.
How to choose your character names. Follow the link, hit sign up, skip anything that asks you to subscribe, and enjoy. Linky: https://skl.sh/30xrMHv
Turns out the techy problems I was having uploading to Skillshare were account based not internet provider-based. We assumed it was a provider issue as it’s been blocking random things for months now. I’m not banned, I have no payout problems and nobodies sure why there’s an issue.
So I have a temporary new Skillshare teacher account that will hopefully be merged with my old account at some point.
As a tester, I put up a 30-odd minute course on getting started on Medium.com. For those that don’t know, it’s a publication platform focused on writing. It’s for fiction, news, opinion pieces, blogs and anything else you can write.
It has publications you can submit to, or create yourself. A buzzing community of writers and readers. You can even join the Medium partner program and earn a few quid from your writing.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, hit the link below, skip anything that asks you for payment, and enrol in the class. Once enrolled, it’s free forever. So if you’re interested, get in there quick.
We’re into the last few weeks of the Black Sands series of stories. Have you been enjoying (or even noticed) the stories being strings of 5 tales creating weekly narratives, creating an even longer series narratives? Was it worth it?
I think so. From a writers and readers perspective, I think the entire series has had a better flow to it. Revisiting similar themes and characters on a rotation cemented the plot quite well. Keep it sparse and replace events with ideas and themes. You can step into the story at any point and know what’s going on. Even if you don’t notice the ongoing story, the daily tales make more sense on their own. This week was a minor exception, there.
I certainly haven’t seen the massive dip in readership that Brass caused. For those that weren’t here during Brass, it was a single story across four months worth of posts. Every day had an episode number. It developed an insane bounce rate where people were finding the Fears on episode 67 and leaving because they’d missed the story thus far. Online serialized fiction always has that effect.
In other news, the art & GIMP course I mentioned last week, has of course been delayed. I’m having a mare with Skillshare. My 4g home internet disagrees with random things. At the moment, it disagrees with the upload page to Skillshare. If I have no luck this week, I’ll be looking towards Udemy or Linda. I haven’t used either very much, so need to look into the pros and cons of both platforms. I’d like all the upcoming tutorial videos to be in one place. Not YouTube before anyone says it, haha.
As always, if you love what I do and you’d like to support the Fears in some way to keep the groaners coming, you can buy me a cupp on Ko Fi. Buy my art and merch on Etsy and Threadless. Buy one of my books on Amazon. Subscribe on Patreon for as little as $1 a month or take one of my well-rated courses on Skillshare.
Jordan tweeted me today asking for some advice for a comic creator. I came back with a few suggestions, but one thing sticks in my head whenever creators, bloggers, writers, artists and even photographers ask me for advice. Aim to have multiple revenue streams.
The problem with having one revenue stream is if it ever collapses, you have nothing to fall back on. In addition to that, a single revenue stream is often limited. Even if you make it big time, how many t-shirts do you think you can sell per month? There are common-sense limits here.
So, in this post, I aim to give you some ideas on how I make a living from different revenue streams.
Print on Demand. The obvious starter. Tees, posters and phone cases on Society6, RedBubble and Threadless.
Books. Self-publishing is easier than ever. Try KDP, Smashwords or CreateSpace. Got a comic? Try Comixology.
Affiliate links. I know some people invest heavily in affiliate links, time and advertising wise and see a good return. I see maybe £20 a month from Amazon book links and Skillshare premium sign-ups. Though it doesn’t help I give everything away free, so, a pinch of salt.
Teach. Practice making videos, upload them to YouTube or Vimeo. See how you feel about them. Then get onto Udemy or Linda and start teaching properly and earning from your classes.
Stock images. Urgh, pennies. The pay for stock images is piss poor now Unsplash and Pixabay exist, but, there’s still a demand. Try Shutterstock.
Online product sales. Etsy for Americans, Folksy for the Brits. Make stuff, sell it online.
Digital products. Although Etsy sells digital products, check out Creative Market for selling your graphic designs and photograph packs.
Patreon and Ko-Fi. Ko-Fi is nice to have. People can tip you $3 at a time for your work. Patreon is also awesome. But if you want to earn from Patreon, you need to make it the main platform for your content.
Spec work. This shit is hard. I tried it, I hated it, I left it. But I know some people earn a living from Design Crowd, 99U and Fiverr.
Sponsored posts. Got a social network account or blog? Check out websites like Buzzoole, TBP or Brandbacker.
Write articles for websites. Every major website that takes submissions will have a submissions button at the bottom of the page. Keep an eye out for them.
Paper and digital magazines. Earning a living entirely on the net is hard as feck. So take it to real life. Photos, comic strips and articles required. Even if you’re a gardening blogger. Don’t just look at major magazines. Check out the little local circulars, too.
Freelance work in the real world. Photographers, ask car dealerships if they need a hand with their photos. Writers, they may want you to write something for their catalogues or websites. Artists, ask them if they want a poster designed. Visit your local businesses. Someone will need you for something.
Real-life teaching. Teach your skills in real life. One on one tutoring pays well. Ask your local craft shop if they’d like you to teach customers in-store how to use spinning wheels for a day.
Shows and exhibitions. Either get a stall to sell your wares or speak to event organisers and find out if they need someone. Photographers for event photos. Writers offer a write up of the event. Spinners, you’ll need the spinning wheel again and do some demonstrations.
Shows and exhibitions (part 2). Got a service to offer vendors? Beauty blogger visiting Afro Live or Hair? Visit first thing in the morning. Make sure to say hello to everyone on every stand and that every brand there has a copy of your media kit. Again, photographers, writers, artists, visit these events. Hundreds of potential clients in one place. Make sure they all know who you are, and what you can offer them.
Market stalls. Got a local Sunday market? I make more in a day at one these than I do in a month on Etsy. Sell prints of your photos, art, comics and books.
Phew, OK, obviously there are hundreds of ways of earning a living doing what you love. You are not just a writer, condemned to writing your blog and hoping for a book deal. Or an artist who can only draw comics and sell tees. You’re a creative. Get creative with your incomes.
If you have any other ways of earning as a creative, leave a comment below and help a fellow creator out.
Speaking for myself, I can’t earn a living entirely online. I need to get out into the real world to earn a living and I need to take incomes from different directions. It’s hard work. Certainly harder than a 9 to 5 and longer hours. For those that knew me a pre-Fears, you know how big that statement is from me. But I get to pay the bills doing work I’m always psyched about. That’s always a great thing.
Do you know what else is a great thing? This segue into all the great ways you can support me if you love this post and my daily stories.
You all know by now I plan things well in advance of doing them. The current Black Sands series runs until October, where there’s a series of one-off daily stories. Then I have Inktober. After that, I don’t know.
I’m still adamant I’m not going to use the 1,000 or so tales I already had written. The extended singular story of Brass barely worked once. I do not want to try that again.
I’m also conscious of my paper usage. I’m currently working on a set of pixel-art characters to drop in alongside scanned ink characters. So I still get to use ink characters on photos, but I’m not drawing hundreds of the same character. It would give my work more consistency and variation as I’m able to bring in new elements. As I’d been using independent graphics, it would allow me to get some basic animations in the video. Even a side-scrolling perspective shift would be visually more appealing than a static pic.
So the series after Inktober will hopefully follow the pixel art, Etta, shown above, alongside a hand-drawn sea-devil. It’ll only be thirty stories long but will be good practice for mixing different styles.
Hey, another thing we’ve been working on this month. One of the strangely popular things I did was a course on Skillshare for turning hand-drawn doodles into digital graphics (linky: skl.sh/2G40lMs ). I wrote a series of follow up courses covering subjects like poster design and turning photos into logos. As with almost everything I create, I’ll upload them free for everyone for five days on release before setting them to Premium on Skillshare. If you sign up to them when they’re free, they’re free forever.
I figure the first (well, next) one I should publish is a beginners guide to GIMP. It’s a 40-minute long free class that’ll give you a tour of all the main tools in the free image editing program, GIMP. That one will be free to everyone forever. No premium subscription will ever be required for that course.
You can download GIMP for Windows, Mac and Linux here (link: gimp.org/ ) and the first course should land next week.
Content creator hat on.
Hey, subscribe, follow, mew quietly at me on social media and you’ll hear about each course as they come out and you’ll be able to nobble them all while they’re free.
Content creator hat off, cleans hands.
Man, why does it still feel dirty doing that? Eh, let’s get a lil dirtier.
If you love the Fears, the puns, the groans and tiny terrors and you have any spare change, there’s a whole bunch of ways to support me and keep the stories coming.
If you don’t have any pennies to spare, that’s perfectly fine. Drop me a comment below and tell me how much pain I inflict on your households with my puns. Let me know how much damage I’ve done to your vocal cords, groaning at my punchlines. Keep me informed as to how much your friends and family whine when you relay one of my stories to them. The groans of “oh god, make him stop,” are like music to my ears.
Brace yourselves, #PitMad is coming. I mentioned this a few months back right before the last #PitMad pitch-event. I got an overwhelming barrage of “I wish I knew about this sooner,” tweets.
So, here we are. A month before the next #PitMad pitch-war, I’m giving y’all a heads up. The next one’s on the 8th of September.
For them that-wot-haven’t heard of #PitMad, it’s a quarterly event on Twitter where you get to pitch your completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts to agents and editors.
There are regular events like this from other groups on Twitter. But #PitMad is where it’s at. It’s well run and focussed so editors and agents can be a part of this event, instead of being spam-bombed by well-meaning folks trying to emulate #PitMad.
I’m not saying you should ignore other pitch parties, but man, #PitMad is, well, mad.
The awesome thing about #PitMad is you don’t need to be established at all on Twitter to join in. A complete profile helps, but it’s bad etiquette to like and retweet pitches using the hashtag as it clutters the tweet responses. That makes it harder for editors and agents to navigate what they’re looking at and what they’ve already responded too. So yeah, a complete profile helps, but having a following of 0 makes no difference during #PitMad.
So, do you have a work you want to pitch? Go and read the entire #PitMad page on Pitch Wars (link: pitchwars.org/pitmad ). There are rules, guidelines and additional hashtags you’ll need on genres. If you’re going to join in, make your pitch the best-darned pitch you can. If you don’t prepare your tweets, your wasting your time, their time and an opportunity to get published.
I’ve seen and spoken to a lot of people closing their WordPress sites over this. It sucks. It’s also a wake-up call for a lot of folks. If you put anything online, the odds are, at some point it’s going to get copied.
There’s a lot of short term solutions. DMCAs, messaging hosts, having the content removed from search engines and so on. But long term, this all leads to a neverending, soul-sapping, demoralizing and unwinnable game of whack-a-mole.
It doesn’t matter where you put your content either. If text can be copy-pasted then a bot can scrape it. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Tumblr, Medium or Live Journal. Are you a photographer or an artist? Well, you know what I mean. You’ve likely been dealing with your images being copied for years.
The only way to stop your content being ripped-off is to stop putting it online. For me, that’s not an option. I’m still paying my bills off of freelance work mostly picked up from the Fears.
You can try to prevent your writing, art and photography being stolen. But none of us thinks about that when starting an online project, do we? I moved onto fixed panels for social media a while ago. The only reason I haven’t done that on my home page is because of the theme and the way WordPress.com shows image posts where my main following is.
Also, in the current copy-bot mess, it’s three websites in India. I can’t see them having a huge impact on what we do on WordPress. They’re not going to rank on search engines. Your readers and social media followers know who and where you are. New followers are probably never going to see the duplicate websites. So in this case, the way I see it is the only negative impact is on your own mental state. Can you live with the idea a website almost nobody is going to see is duplicating your content in India?
I know to a lot of folks, that’s not a straight forward question. It sure as heck pisses me off. But I ain’t going to let it stop me. Heck, it makes me want to fart out more content for them to copy. Let the buggers pay for hosting all that content nobody is going to see.
OK, so, only you can decide whether or not you want to pull your content from being online. It’s an entirely personal choice. If you don’t want to publish online anymore, we’re going to miss you. Take care of yourself.
If you do want to keep publishing your works to the internet, here, take a hammer. Welcome to whack-a-mole, internet edition.
Please do drop into Ashley’s site and say hello and thanks for post.
Edited to add: Very first comment from Joanne asks “how do you find out contents been copied?” Go to one of the offending websites, Tygpress.com, and copy paste a snippet from your website into their search bar. They’re mirroring websites wholesale. In Europe at least, this is illegal. They’re allowed to post a snippet of your website and link back to your own website with a Read More style link. Not duplicate everything like Tygpress are.
A turtley awesome kaiju for Kaijune this morning. This fella used to be an introvert, he was a shell of his former self. But now he’s come out of his shell.
He’s got a brother, they share the same mother, but the father was a porcupine. Now, if you cross a porcupine and a turtle you get a right slowpoke.
Oh, dear god, stop me.
Just three more kaiju and we’re done with this series. I shall miss these monsters.
I get told, quite often, I work hard when other writers see the graft I put into the fears. Honestly, I feel do work hard. But the big difference I find between myself and other writers is, I finish my drafts and projects. Then move on.
I’ll mash out stories all the time. My current ratio is writing 12 stories and discarding 6 of them. Of the 6 I keep, at least 3 need work before anyone’s going to read and groan at them. There are some days when I write and keep all 12 stories. There are other days when I write 12 shite stories and discard them all.
I take this approach with everything. Get stuff made first, discard the bad bits, keep the good bits. Then move on.
I say this because I’m still reading blogs I was reading 15 years ago, and their authors still haven’t finished their books first draft. I get, life’s hard, writings hard, but get the damn draft finished. You’re probably not going to keep half of it anyway, right?
What is it they say?
The purpose of a first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.
January was my first series of Little Fears stories. This first series was just a random series of tales. There’s no plot arcs, character development or history. It was just me, looking at copyright-free photos, imagining monsters. I hope you enjoy.
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I’ve often said, it’s hard earning a living from an online blog or business. The real money comes from the real world and paying clients. Earning entirely from the Internet can be done, but it’s something most of us won’t ever achieve.
My art prints for example. I can take them to market stalls with greetings cards and earn more in a day than my Etsy store earns in weeks. That’s partly my fault for not promoting it enough, and, from the feedback I’ve gotten, it’s also the price.
At markets, I sell them for £12. On Etsy, they’re £15. The reason for the price jump is post and packaging. You have to offer free shipping or Etsy dumps you down in search. I have to incorporate a max of £4.20 into every sale. That’s the shipping to the USA cost. I have hard backed envelopes cost, listing fees, print cost and transaction fees on top of that. Expenses stack up quickly selling Etsy. All that compared to a market stall, £10 for a day, sell as much as I can.
But look at my Etsy shop. Two years and thirty’ish sales. Actually, ignore my shop, that says fourteen. There was a digital hiccup and I lost feedback and sales last year. All the same, you get me? My Etsy store is just sitting dormant.
So, with listing fees needing to be renewed for the next three months, I’ve taken a view. Revised things a bit. The prices on all art prints have been dropped from £15 to £12 including free shipping to anywhere in the world. I also need to start working at my Etsy store. Not just dropping links to it in posts, but getting new art things on there. New original art, ACEOs, new prints like the “Drink Tea” design I have on Threadless. Not just more character images, because they just aren’t cutting it online.
This post might read like a bit of a downer, but it isn’t. I have probably broken even between sales, shipping and listing fees over the last couple of years on Etsy. So it’s cost me nothing to find out selling on Etsy doesn’t work unless you work it hard. That’s fine by me. Lessons in life, business and the Internet are rarely free.
If you fancy visiting my now slightly cheaper Etsy store, hit the following link: littlefears.etsy.com
If you want to get into Etsy yourself, I cannot recommend Melanie Greenwoods course on Skillshare enough. It’s three hours long and covers, quite literally, everything.
It is a premium course, but if you click my link to it, I believe you get two free months of Skillshare premium. https://skl.sh/2kvcAJi