Saturday, September 16, 2017

Let's Get Real About Villains

Writing villains is a tricky subject for YA writers. Some people might think they should be humanized while others might think they should be shown for what they are. Most people are complex and have layers in real life. But the truth is a villain’s cruelty and misdeeds shouldn’t be diminished while still showing they have some depth.

Let’s tackle the villain’s cruelty and misdeeds aspect first. Not diminishing what a villain does is important. One pop culture example is the villain Klaus from The Vampire Diaries. He has killed multiple people, and generally has no regard for human life (Klaus is a hybrid, which means he’s half vampire and half werewolf). But his character is eventually watered down and shown as less extreme. Doing so is a mistake. Life might not be black and white, yet labels can sometimes be helpful. And that applies to writing. A villain’s treachery shouldn’t be erased just because her or she might be attractive.

Having some depth is still important for villains, though. But that doesn’t mean a villain gets a magical blank slate at some point. For instance, I have the villain care about her sister in one of my YA Fantasy novels. Although that doesn’t erase the villain’s behavior. Her dynamic with her sister exists only to show she isn’t one dimensional.

There’s one last aspect that should be mentioned with villains. They can’t have all the victories. That means a hero needs an occasional victory that just doesn’t happen at the end of the book, episode, or movie. People complain about a hero possibly not having enough conflict and things coming too easily. Well, the same idea applies to villains. Things shouldn’t be too easy for them because they shouldn’t have all the fun.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Book Release Tips

My debut novel, Betrayal of the Band, released in August. Yay! Through the last month, I discovered a few marketing successes that caught me by surprise, and I wanted to share.
First off, marketing is not a strong area of mine, since it requires talking to strangers. Strangers who might reject you. But with the help of family and friends who love me (more than I expected!), I’ve managed to do some successful marketing. 
  1. A Local Press Release. When the book officially released on August 11, a friend wrote a press release for me. Totally unexpected, and not something I’d even considered. She sent the release into the paper and the news stations. The paper printed it the following week, and I was invited to attend an authors’ day at an education conference happening in October and received a congratulations postcard from the Friends of a local library. Also, the press release included two book signing events I had scheduled, and a local bookstore owner attended one to invite me to do a signing or event at his store. So notifying local news agency of a release can generate marketing opportunities!
  2. Book Signings. Bookstores are the obvious ones, but depending on your publisher, Barnes and Noble or other big booksellers may not be an option. But bookstores aren’t the only places to sell books. Local businesses like to be involved in their community, and you, a local author, are a member of the community, a really awesome member of the community because you actually wrote and published a book. Don’t confine book signings or selling to bookstores only. If your community has a First Friday or other regular event where businesses stay open later and/or offer special events to entice customers, ask about doing a signing there. If the book features a tea drinker, talk to a local tea shop. If the book features a musician, talk to music stores. Get creative. Readers don’t only shop at bookstores.
  3. A Party. Throw a party and celebrate your accomplishment! This party can be big or small, real or online. Whatever kind of budget or resources you have, use them to invite everyone who has support you and encouraged you and gotten excited for you to help celebrate. I don’t know if the party I hosted was a big success as far as marketing and sales go, but the event was a boost for me, and a chance to celebrate with people I love while also introducing a few new readers to my book. And any opportunity that involves cupcakes and prizes has to fun for everyone.
What about you? Any book release and marketing successes? Any big plans for a debut release? 

Sarah Tipton is a writer of Christian Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, Betrayal of the Band, released in August 2017. Visit to connect.