The dirty ‘M’ word – Marketing

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Writing a book is a mammoth task. Editing, re-editing, revising, polishing, revising, (did I mention revising), and pouring over word selection, sentence structure, and punctuation line-by-line is harrowing. And then, if you are an indie author like myself, there is marketing.

Marketing sounds like such a dirty word. I blame that on all those prim and proper writers in their pure ivory towers whose fingers would never deign to touch a marketing strategy let alone draft one… Just kidding. Kind of.

Truth is, there is a perceived touch of the uncouth – the unpalatable – about an author spending time on anything but penning beautiful prose to paper. A (dangerous) stereotype has been born that equates author authenticity with a very limited skill-set (or focus). We want our authors to be creatives – to focus on the words and leave everything else to the ‘professionals’.

But I have never been one to play to stereotype, or expectations, so being an indie author suits me just fine. I’m also a bit of a control freak – my authenticity is intimately tied to my vision for a book, a series, a character… And I want to control how those things are presented – to you, to my readers, to the world.

And that brings us back to the dirty ‘M’ word. Marketing.

As humans, we market ourselves every day – how we dress, what car we drive (or don’t drive in favour of public transport), what words we use, what words we place emphasis on, who we associate with, what we choose to comment on (and not comment on), what posts we promote and tweets we retweet. We don’t think of it as marketing – it’s just our way of communicating our identity.

That’s how I see book marketing. It’s less a manipulative capitalistic venture designed only to pull dollars from weary pockets and more an introduction. It’s a chance to introduce the identity of a book, or a series, or a character. It’s a chance to match-make – to pair one thing of unique interest and beauty with a person of unique taste and desires.

And like match-making, which can end in disaster as often as true-love (probably more so), marketing is a tricky art to master.

Recently, in the process of finalising Rebellion (the second book in my Divided Elements series), I tried to contact the cover artist who had created the beautiful cover for the first book, Resistance. After multiple attempts, and with a looming publication deadline, I had to start my search for a new cover artist.

This was a tough undertaking – so many readers loved the original cover and (as the cover of my first ever published book) I had also developed an attachment to it. It took me forever to find an artist that I was comfortable to approach, and even then I was skeptical I would end up with a cover that was as imaginative and original as the first.

I shouldn’t have worried.

I first contacted Ethan Scott, an independent artist himself, on the basis of a striking cover he had imagined for HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’. It was the closest thing I had found to capturing the tone and genre and audience of Divided Elements. I told him about my series, gave him some general parameters, and asked him to come up with something striking.

And then he started working on it. And what he came up with was beautiful. Different from the original – as it should be – but still capturing the abstract illustrative style, the theme of a fractured identity, and the singular focus on a strong and independent female protagonist.

This new re-imagining of the series – this new representation of its style and content – is like a re-introduction. Like updating your profile, or putting on a new shirt, or using a new word to describe yourself. Sometimes it’s an improvement, sometimes it’s a detraction, and sometimes it is just different. But, each time, it is an evolution.

I’m so proud of this evolution of Divided Elements – it’s like the visual has caught up to the original vision of this series, that it speaks more honestly to its character. And I’m so pleased to share it with you. To re-introduce you to this world that I have loved crafting (and will continue to craft).

So, here they are – the re-imagined cover of Resistance (Divided Elements #1 and the new cover for Rebellion (Divided Elements #2). Both books are available now for purchase and, if you want to stay up to date with the progress on Book 3 and gain access to exclusive offers and content, you can sign up to my ‘author updates’.

Divided Elements - Book 1 and 2

 

LIKED THIS? WANT MORE?

Discover the Divided Elements series now with award-winning Resistance (Divided Elements #1) and just-released Rebellion (Divided Elements #2). Available as paperback or ebook on your favourite device. Just click to start reading!

Divided Elements - Award-winning speculative fiction

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The dirty ‘M’ word – Marketing

Resistance (Divided Elements #1)

The day has finally arrived! My speculative fiction / dystopian novel Resistance (Divided Elements #1) is now available for purchase!

resistance-read-now

To celebrate, I want to share with you some of my favourite excerpts from the reviews I have been getting on Goodreads. It has been such a beautiful and humbling experience to hear what readers have to say after finishing Resistance. Enjoy!

“A whirlwind cross between Fahrenheit 451 and Divergent. This novel grabs your attention and keeps it locked in place for 34 chapters.”

“Resistance isn’t like other dystopian novels you’ve read.”

“I couldn’t put this book down. Or I didn’t want to put this book down because I had to put it down many different times throughout the day and each time, I was incredibly disappointed that I wasn’t in the middle of the action of the book. I needed to know what was happening next and if I wasn’t experiencing it, I wanted to be.”

“This was an amazing book. A fantastic book. Something that I would read again in a heartbeat (and probably will, once I’m done with the next book on my list). Any book that makes me want to read it again and again to absorb everything it’s made of is something rare and I don’t think it’s going to happen more than a handful of times in the next year.”

“At first, you might think this is your typical dystopian future civilization YA novel. And you’re kind of right. But you’re also kind of wrong.”

“I would highly recommend this novel to fans of dystopian fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The novel also reminded me of the video games République and the post-Paris cyberpunk adventure,Remember Me in setting and tone. But none of these other works do the novel justice: in Resistance, Indie author Mikhaeyla Kopievsky manages to create fresh and new dystopia worth exploring.”

“I’m excited to see where Divided Elements goes from here. It’s definitely a series to keep an eye on. If you’re looking a dystopian novel that’s original and entertaining, no look further.”

“I freakin loved this book!”

“I loved this as a first book in the series. I really hope that the rest of the series would be as amazing. I can’t wait for the next book to come out!!!”

“This is a delightfully complex story and I enjoyed immersing myself in this richly detailed otherworld.”

“This book. Is. Awesome. It’s Divergent’s bigger, badder, tougher, realer older sister. So much more than your basic dystopian fill-in-the-blanks, Resistance has amazing, almost magical worldbuilding.”

“I was attracted to this book by its cover and for once I was not disappointed.”

“This is probably one of only a handful of sci-fi books that I have read and liked. The plot is engaging and a one of a kind story that is fresh and interesting.”

“This was an interesting and quite quirky dystopian science fiction novel in which the author shows alot of flair and heavy doses of imagination.”

“I loved Resistance! It was well written, the characters were amazing and the story was awesome.”

Resistance (Divided Elements #1)

Your First Act is not a plot device

By Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Lately I’ve read a few stories that had something not quite right about them. At first it was difficult to place the troubling gremlin – these stories had great characters, nice pacing, interesting conflict. It was only when I reached the end of these books that I realised I still had a lot of unanswered questions. And then I realised – most of these questions were the ones that were raised in the First Act.

It hit me: These stories were introducing tension in the First Act not as the central theme or core conflict, but as a plot device – a way to get the protagonist to where they needed to be in the Second Act. 

Imagine a story where all your protagonist wants is to protect her little sister – from their incapable mother, from a dangerous and unforgiving world, from nightmarish memories of their father’s death, from poverty and disease. Then imagine this character gets the ultimate opportunity to do this – by volunteering to take their little sister’s place in a macabre and brutal spectacle that pits child against child in mortal combat for the general entertainment of the masses. This act sends the protagonist away from their little sister and thrusts them into a entirely different world.

And then imagine that the ensuing conflict has absolutely no relevance or reference to that stated goal and tension – where the little sister is forgotten and thoughts of protecting her from the big bad world are no longer plaguing her. Where the central conflict of Act One was just a means to an end – a way to force the protagonist into this new world, and nothing else. Where the Third Act answers a completely different question to the one posed in the First.

questions

Thankfully, in Hunger Games, this is not the case. Katniss ‘adopts’ a surrogate sister, Rue – an action that helps to maintain her humanity in an inhumane situation. The need to protect her sister, Prim, also permeates throughout the series (to varying degrees) and eventually evolves in a need to protect/save everyone. Especially those closest to her.

There is something deeply satisfying, for a reader, in following the evolution and resolution of the core conflict established in the first act (and, indeed, the first book of a series). Stories that forget about this central question – will Katniss save her sister from the evils of Panem? (Hunger Games). Will Mark Watney be able to ‘science the shit’ out of his lonely and tenuous existence on Mars? (The Martian). Will Montag succumb to his Fireman role or break free from it? (Fahrenheit 451). Will Anaiya break free of her legacy and bring down the Resistance? (Resistance (Divided Elements #1)) – are in danger of ‘losing their soul’ and creating forgettable stories with no emotional resonance or connection.

 

What do you think? Have you read (or written) a story where the First Act conflict was forgotten by the time the Third Act rolled around?

 

Image courtesy of Emily via Flickr Creative Commons
Your First Act is not a plot device

Vote Now for Divided Elements | Resistance on Goodreads!

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Divided Elements #1: Resistance is now up on Goodreads! You can add it to your “Want to Read” shelf and join the conversation with other readers excited about its release on 30 January 2017.

While you’re over on Goodreads, I would love it if you would nominate Resistance as one of your 2017 Anticipated Reads by voting for it on these lists:

 

resistance-kindle

Vote Now for Divided Elements | Resistance on Goodreads!

Divided Elements (Book 1) – Resistance. Website Launch & Cover Reveal

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Break out the champagne! The official website for my author brand and debut novel Divided Elements | Resistance will be launched this Friday! Stay tuned for details and don’t forget to drop by and check out the shiny new digs on the day.

(Don’t worry – I’ll be maintaining my wordpress blog to dissect my writing journey as it continues over future works in progress).

A photo by Dave Lastovskiy. unsplash.com/photos/RygIdTavhkQ

 

 

image via unsplash
Divided Elements (Book 1) – Resistance. Website Launch & Cover Reveal

Plotting to the Midpoint: Why you need a half-time plan

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

With Divided Elements in the hands of my copy-editor, I’ve been using July to get some new writing done. Having signed up for both #JulyWritingChallenge and Camp NaNoWriMo, I was worried that my efforts would falter the way my first attempt at NaNoWriMo did – a lot of angst and procrastination, not much writing. Pleasantly enough, I am slaying it! (Already at 12,000 words (I set my target at 15,000))

The two secrets to my success?

  1. Detailed and logically-structured plotting – thanks to my awesome plot roadmap
  2. Detailed and logically-structured plotting only up to the midpoint

The second secret is the important one (at least, for the purposes of this post).

I’m not sure whether it is pure genius or a product of my creative limitations, but it seems to be working. The thing is – when I get an idea for a story, it usually goes like this:

  • Thematic image and general premise – aka A visual and a one-liner ‘this is a story about…’

    Since I don’t want to give away the juicy details of the new WIP just yet, let me show how this would work if I was writing Sons of Anarchy … (bear with me, it’s been a while since I’ve watched it and the memory may be rusty…)

    Jax and Tara

    I would picture that moment where Jax takes on the Presidency and Tara stands behind him as his Old Lady, a corruption of two individuals who had the potential to escape a violent and toxic environment but have ended up as the next generation of everything they didn’t want to be – Clay and Jemma.
    That image also gives me my premise – the story of a son who seeks to escape the corrupted legacy of his father, who finds that escape in the return of an old girlfriend, but who ends up corrupted and corrupting her in his efforts to escape. Like struggling in quicksand – it only conspires to work against you.

  • That image and one-liner (okay, okay – one paragraph) give me everything I need up to the Midpoint – I get the status quo (Jax in the MC, Tara at the hospital), the hook (Jax finding his Dad’s journals), the inciting incident (reconnecting with Tara), the first plot point (going after Clay), the Midpoint (Jax and Tara as the new Clay and Jemma).

And that’s usually where the ideas run out – not because I can’t think of what happens next, but because there are so MANY paths this story can take. I generally know where I want it to end. I just don’t know how to get to that end.

This is why the first half of my plot outline for the new WIP is pages long and full of cool details. And the second half is … um, well… it’s blank.

I was kind of worried about this, but then I figured it could be a good thing. And I figured this while watching my beloved Wests Tigers play (and lose) another game (don’t get me started…).

A book, much like a game of football, is a tale of two halves. Every team goes into a game knowing the starting point (kick-off) and the end goal (walking away with a win, preferably a crushing defeat, that supplies two points on the ladder and a fantastic points differential). There will also be a detailed game plan – based on last week’s performance, where they are on the ladder, what current issues/injuries are affecting them, players playing out of position, whether it’s a home game, what they focused on in training, etc, etc.

But that game plan is only good up to the half time siren.

You walk into the sheds at half time with a 20 point deficit, you shake things up. You end the first forty minutes with three major injuries and a player sent off, and you start thinking twice about your earlier plan of putting on early points.

What it boils down to is this:

You can’t plan your second half until you know what position your first half has put you in. 

Same goes for stories. I’ve spoken about this before – sometimes the little details you use to fill in your plot outlining can introduce a range of subtleties and nuances that shift the direction of your story. In the beginning the shift is negligible – but as it continues on that same trajectory, the difference becomes more and more noticeable.

Tangent

It was the same with Divided Elements – what I had planned for my second half and what I executed were wildly different. In a good way. If I had stubbornly kept to the original game plan, I would have ended up with a incoherent, disjointed story with a lot of loose ends and an unsatisfying ending.

Which is why I am blissfully writing my way through the first half of this WIP without having a game plan for the second half. That can wait. I figure I will use the Midpoint as my new status quo and plot from there once I know my backstory (the first half).

What about you? If you are a plotter, do you plot the entire novel? And if so, do you ever allow yourself to change the plan late in the game?

Plotting to the Midpoint: Why you need a half-time plan

Gonzalez @ Berlin Graphic Days

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

For those of you that have been following along, you’ll remember that my debut novel Divided Elements is soon to be published. I am so excited to announce that Leonardo Gonzalez, Grammy Award winning and multi-­laureate art director, is designing the cover – stay tuned for the cover reveal later this year.

I selected Leo, a  Berlin-­based Venezuelan artist, to do the cover because he is a master at rendering (in his words): “beautifully-drawn-­yet-­fucked-­up characters” – which is exactly what my lead character is – a beautiful and tortured soul.

While you’re waiting for the cover reveal, you can catch his work online or at the Berlin Graphic Days.

Berlin Graphic Days – a three-day arts festival running from 1 – 3 July 2016 – will feature  around 100 national and international graphic artists, illustrators, street artists and screen printers, who will converge on Urban Spree Gallery in Revaler Street, Berlin, to create, display and offer works of art for sale.

Leo will be offering some silkscreen prints, including the awesome one below, as well as risographs and his comic book. Go check him out and tell him I said hello 🙂

Gonzalez - Know your place, shut your face

Gonzalez @ Berlin Graphic Days