Guest Post from the guys at @AwfulFantasy
My brother and I are judgemental bastards.
In a world of self-publishing, anyone with a beating heart and the internet can get a book written, and they do. That may be somewhat of a problem for an author trying to get their work noticed among the throng, but it’s great news for us. We’re @AwfulFantasy.
“‘I don’t believe in destiny,’ the destined hero said again. ‘How can I possibly defeat the Warlord? I’m just a super-ripped nobody.’”
What makes writing bad? What makes your story suck? Why do people write erotic Sherlock Holmes fanfiction? We actually don’t have any answers. We’re the dicks who say there’s a problem and don’t follow up with a way to fix it. Aren’t those guys the worst?
by Dickard Williardson
Verified Amazon Purchase
“My Kindle broke before I could read it. 1 star.”
We know how it goes, we are self-published authors, too. We’ve written two real, actual, full books. I swear. They are definitely books, ask my mom, she bought BOTH of them. We, too, were trying to swim to the surface of the sea of authors attempting to find their audience. We were treading water of discouragement and we needed a life-vest of self-promotion to keep us afloat through the crashing waves of writers (insert another water analogy later, come back to this, DON’T FORGET, GREAT STUFF).
The point is, we had books and we just couldn’t get people to check them out.
The idea for our book series was simple: create a fictional author and give him all of the traits and ideas that an author shouldn’t have and write a book through him. So we created Ron Jockman and Ron Jockman created The Rockman Chronicles.
The entire series is purposely bad. We have a generic story, a perfect specimen of a hairy man as the protagonist, a helpless and problematic woman that needs saved by said man, a villain or two with absolutely no reason behind the madness, and we stitch it all together with shoddy dialogue, horrible analogies, ridiculous opinions, and bad descriptions.
“She placed her hand on the ledge of the window and, after a time, the heat from the three Suns of Galactar burned her. Kind of like how Rockman burned her when he was given enough time — he was like the three Suns of Galactar in that regard. Also, he was hot. Also, he had a pull on her, like the gravity of three Suns. In addition to those things, he lit up her light-day like Suns are wont to do — only he lit up her light-day three times as much as a normal Sun, like the three Suns of Galactar did.”
-Excerpt from John Rockman and the Trials of Galactar
But like so many other self-published authors, we weren’t standing out. Attempting to post on any site about our book, even though we thought people would love it, would always end up being completely futile. People just ignored any author trying to promote their work.
So, after a couple uneventful years (and maybe an embarrassing failed Kickstarter), we came up with something new: @AwfulFantasy.
Through the magic of Twitter, we were able to show people the humor of our books through a parody account that satirized fantasy and science fiction writing, but the intent was to promote The Rockman Chronicles with a link cleverly placed in the description.
*“This will bring in potential customers,” I told my brother. “Yeah, if they like our tweets then they’ll click that link and buy our books,” he replied. “Let’s write tweets,” I said. “Tweets are cool,” was his thoughtful reply.
*actual conversation may have been different and may not have really happened
The beauty of Twitter was that, instead of only writing through Ron Jockman in a scifi setting with our book’s characters, we were able to do ANY fantasy or scifi situation. We could parody or satirize any bad writing trope we could think of. The challenge was that we were restricted to a measly 140 characters. But, that was the hook. People would be more prone to reading short snippets as opposed to taking a chance on a 70,000 word novel or two. So we started tweeting.
“He woke from his coma to a doctor standing there. ‘Welcome to the future, Mr. Wu.’ He looked around and yup, there were robots everywhere.”
We soon realized that we were in the exact same situation as our books: no one knew about it. We had to SELF-PROMOTE. AGAIN.
But the biggest difference, we found, is that people actually listen when you aren’t promoting a book. We slapped our tweets over generic fantasy images and shared them at Reddit, we followed a bajillion people, we sold our souls to a guy with no teeth on 5th street who said he was the devil, and we emailed websites. Luckily, we got a reply from a very popular social news and entertainment website. The article they ran got us a couple thousand followers in a day.
It was the biggest moment in our writing ‘careers.’ People were loving our @AwfulFantasy account, and we were (and still are) having a blast writing tweets. Soon, we realized that it didn’t really feel like self-promotion anymore. So we removed our book information from the Awful Fantasy description section. It had become its own thing.
“The seductive woman was in all red. Everything was red. Her dress and hair and lipstick and shoes. She also loved books and was well read.”
We get a lot of people who think our Tweets are direct quotes from self-published books. They are not. We would never laugh at anyone who has taken the time to actually write something they could be very passionate about. We just point out things that really shouldn’t be done in a book; or, things that could be done with a little more finesse. Or, we just write a dumb pun.
“After impaling Ben, the haunted bicycle turned hungrily to the remaining heroes. Jellena readied her axe, “Let’s stop this viciouscycle.‘”
We haven’t ‘made it’ by any means. 4,200 followers isn’t exactly a Twitter phenomenon. But it’s a lot more interest than our books have ever gotten. And we have to wonder, what is it that makes Awful Fantasy interesting to people? Is it because dumb, quick humor on your Twitter feed is a nice thing to see every day? Or is it because people feel the world is becoming inundated with authors and they need a respite? Probably a little bit of both, but mainly the second one.
Like The Onion’s recent website Clickhole, a satirical reaction to the overwhelming new trend of clickbait lists and articles flooding social media, Awful Fantasy became a reaction to the flood of ludicrous amounts of fantasy and scifi books and stories bleeding out across the world in an era of easy self-publishing. People just want a break from it all. Ourselves included.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t write books. People should write books. It’s just that every action has a reaction, and it seems that currently, there are a ton of books to compete with which results in bitterness and a desire to laugh at it all. We attempted to find a way to get noticed and discovered that there was something else we enjoyed doing: satirical tweets. We were creative with our self-promotion and we didn’t stop coming up with plans. And we won’t stop.
We are still marketing; we have to. As long as we’re active writers, we’ll be doing it. You can’t expect to get noticed—let alone keep people’s interest—with a passive approach. This is all the more reason you must write for the right reasons. You have to write for yourself. We write what makes us laugh, which makes it less of a burden to market. We like our work and we know there are other people out there that will appreciate it as well, we just have to find them. Meanwhile, we’re going to continue Tweeting horrible examples of fantasy and sci-fi writing and constructing shallow-plotted, exceptionally bad novels, because we found something that works.
The point is, by necessity, we’ve become judgemental bastards. We point out the problems in, not just self-published works, but all published works. Almost every author has it in them to be successful, but better for us: every author has it in them to be awful.