Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Matter of Priority

Why we’re not just about the money, (money, money)

One thing that sets us apart from other publishers is our status as a non-profit organisation. We’ve been this way from the very beginning, because we’ve always believed that giving back to the world around us is more important than our ability to make personal profit. That’s not to say don’t care about money, or wish to be unsuccessful- far from it. The more books we sell, the more we can give back to those around us, and help create more great stories. It’s a positive feedback loop!

We’ve established a number of projects since opening our doors. We have a mentor program, which you can read about here in ‘Our First Mentee’ blog post. Publishing can be an incredibly selfish business. Each and every one of us at IQ has been told ‘be careful’, and ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know’, which makes for an unfriendly and seemingly-impenetrable industry. Teaching someone the ins and outs of working with a publisher is incredibly important to us. Nobody should feel like their ambitions are being blocked.

We’ve also been developing writing workshops to bring to deprived areas, in order to teach people essential life skills and encourage communication and creativity. What better can a publisher do than want to encourage others to both read and write? It’s win-win-win for us, after all! If you aren’t willing to give people the tools to enjoy your work and encourage them to create their own, you might as well not have an audience.

Additionally, our authors work hard to help others as well, whether it’s running marathons or leading literary activities: Tracey Scott-Townsend gave a writing workshop as part of the inaugural ‘Lincoln Inspired’ literary event in 2014, of which Inspired Quill was a sponsor, and Matthew Munson regularly attends community workshops and talks about his life as an author (and walks marathons! In winter! In the dark!)

Not to mention the profit percentage gift to partnered charities for the books Write for the Future and Sugar and Snails. It might not amount to hundreds of pounds each quarter, but it shows our commitment to really trying to push these methods of ‘giving back’.

Remember, every single time you purchase one of our titles, it helps us to give back that little bit more to the community – enhance a service we’re already providing, work a bit more on our newest project, or make a direct donation to a partnered charity.

We were just born to give, it seems.

(For more information about what we’re doing to give back, head on our to our ‘Give Back Pledge’ page and learn more, or contact us to ask any questions you might have.)

Name (Noun)

“How do you come up with all these names?”

For those of us writing Earth-based fiction, or any genre not based in fantasy, on the surface it’s a fairly simple process- you don’t generally have to invent them. But there’s more in a name than its spelling. They’re indicative of culture, heritage, location, trends. Unassuming people can have incredibly unusual names for the place they’re living, but it has to make sense to the story. A male character coming from a whole line of Johns and Roberts isn’t as likely to have a bizarre or unique name, unless that’s a point in the story and forms part of their character.

Fantasy names are a little more difficult.

Coming up with something unique is very hard. Because we typically want fantasy names to sound unusual or exotic, or at the very least a departure from our typical surroundings, a good starting point is a directory of names which can be categorised by language, region, or mythological base.  There are countless websites that have name meanings that you can get lost in, (we’ve even included a few at the end of this post!) and I’ve known many writers who have. Being able to divide them by region gives a useful opportunity to hear the combinations of sounds used by different cultures and decide how (or even if) you want these reflected in your worlds.

Choice can become overwhelming, though.

Nobody wants an off-the-shelf character, so sometimes the names need customisation. Pick an almost-but-not-quite name, or even a word that you particularly like, a syllable, any element that you’d like to see in the name somewhere, and start adding or removing letters to see what comes from it. Think about whether you want the end with an open or closed sound. Open-ended names (ending with a vowel sound) tend to be more feminine, but this isn’t always the case. If you plan to have a lot of action scenes, think about whether your name of choice would carry well over a battle. Is it easy to shout, or whisper? Once you have all of your variations down, it’s never a bad idea to keep them. Many writers have notebooks with pages and pages of names and name variations, and each one can be experimented with and built upon for future characters.

Ssss or tthhh?

It’s also important to think about a character’s biology. If they’re reptilian, for example, can they even articulate certain sounds as accurately as a human? If they can, do the historically-favoured names bear more resemblance to hisses or screeches, a more native tongue?

It isn’t all in the mind.

That said, certain names might be fun to read or write but not to say. Something that’s impossible to say out loud may prove an irritating obstacle for people scanning through the pages, so name like ‘Pzzzlmlrickxytz’ is probably not well-advised for a protagonist. You’ll also be starting potential arguments among fans about where the emphasis is, but that’s what your eventual Comic-Con panels will be for. Right? (Hands up! Who first mind-pronounced Hermione as ‘her-me-oh-knee’?)

Oh, and here’s hoping we didn’t go for the cliché ‘What’s in a Name?’ for the title of this one, or that rose line from Romeo and Juliet. If so, please roll eyes at the editor. (Please, as if I would ever do that! [Itotallywould / blognamesarehard] – SJ)

Resources:

Name Etymology: http://www.behindthename.com/

Random Name Generator: http://www.behindthename.com/random/

Name Generator: http://www.be-a-better-writer.com/character-name-generator.html

Fantasy Names (including Places): http://fantasynamegenerators.com/

Looking Forward and Back

“An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it.” – Paul Valéry

Anyone who’s been keeping up with our news feeds will know that we recently re-released Matthew Munson’s Fall From Grace, our very first book. It felt appropriate, therefore, to talk a bit about why we felt the need to take a book from our distant past (hey, when you’re not five years old yet, four years is a long time!) and reversion it. After all, it would have been much easier to just leave it alone and work on newer, shinier projects.

The quote above notwithstanding, we know so much more than when we first began our foray into the publishing world. Over time, we’ve pulled our socks up regarding our design, editing, and formatting standards, to the point that we might as well be wearing said socks around our ears. The comparison between what we release now and what we released when we started is marked, but there’s no book of ours that we don’t have faith in.

Rebranding Inspired Quill made us look back at our catalogue and really think about what we could do better now that we have the experience and ability. So, our first book was our first port of call. Some other books have had ‘quiet’ re-edits that went into print as soon as they were sorted, but Fall From Grace had such development and so many additions that we couldn’t keep it under the same ISBN.  Given that we needed to register a whole new addition, it felt right to give it a wonderful new cover and treat it like a new release.

We don’t want to get the reputation that George Lucas or the innumerable Blade Runner releases have, but when we see something that needs improvement we are happy to spend a long time looking at it. It turns out you can get very nostalgic about a book you released four years ago, while thinking about what you would do differently now. The ultimate goal is to make sure it stays authentically the same story, but brings a new depth to the way it’s told. In this example, because Matthew had since written the sequel, Leap of Faith, it gave him a chance to revisit ideas that had been developing through that journey as well.

It’s easier for us to do re-edits as we need them because we use print on demand technology; we don’t have huge stocks of previous editions sitting on store shelves that we have to recall or wait to disappear. So that’s a nice bonus to our efficiency. But we’re conscious of not sending out too many multiple edits, because not only does it impact our work on new titles, but we don´t want our readers to feel cheated by handfuls of new editions popping up every year, each with very minor changes. Fall From Grace, though, has an extra 21,000 words or so, which definitely warrants some attention if you were a fan of the original! And don’t worry about having to keep buying your favourite book over and over – we’ll keep everyone abreast of any new editions.

So, we promise not to kill any characters without you looking. But unfortunately, that means we can’t resurrect them, either!

It’s up to you to pester your author of choice for sequels or prequels.