For now, I thought this was a good visual for the storyline and gives everyone an idea of where everyone is currently playing at. I'll be uploading the map in all of the books.
I finally got around to finally doing a map for The World. This is currently where everyone has first logged in, but as the weeks go by new areas will be being opened up until the entire world is released.
For now, I thought this was a good visual for the storyline and gives everyone an idea of where everyone is currently playing at. I'll be uploading the map in all of the books.
Around November 14th, 2018 I first heard of LitRPGPodcast and his review on my book and accusations of plagiarism from one of the Podcasters ex-fans. He’d read my book after hearing all of the controversy and then discovered that it didn’t match up to the review. The podcaster in question is a LitRPG author that runs a podcast where he gives his thoughts on the worth of new LitRPG titles entering the market. No conflicts of interests there, I’m sure he keeps a very fair perspective for his audience whenever he reviews new titles whether or not he allows any negative comments to stay on his videos. Anyway, I found out later that week that there was an actual breakdown of all of the types of ways my book was a copy of Ascend Online. While the podcaster makes it sound very dastardly, if you sit back and reflect on any other books within the LitRPG genre and how those same comments could be used almost across the board it makes you question his story. I will say he does bring up one point that did make me think. The term was Military Conditioning and the brief description of the racial skill is the same as in Ascend Online.
At first, I honestly couldn’t think of how that could be in any way similar. When I go back and look at when the book was written, it was October. When I look to see when I read Ascend Online, it was November. Both are documented in my blog from that time and now from a screenshot of my download history of Ascend Online. But, if that’s the case, then where could the term have come from? As soon as I heard the accusation, I changed the racial trait to something else. I didn’t want to have anything that could be misconstrued as taking someone else’s terminology.
Gaming terminology, it’s a funny thing. Character Sheets, Intelligence, Strength, Wisdom, Agility, Spirit, Luck, Leeching Weapons, Fire balls, Frost blasts, Goblins, Raiders, Orcs, Gnolls, Elves, the list goes on and on of what we are allowed to use. These terminology that we’ve taken from MMORPGs, from Dungeons and Dragons and other writers we use without a second thought. I sometimes wonder what the creators of D&D would say about that? I wonder what The Lord of the Rings author would say to the casual use of his fantasy creations? I wonder what Play to Win author, the Father of LitRPG, would say about his terms being used without his consent? Yes, I would have to say every LitRPG author has borrowed multiple terms from the Play to Win series whether they admit it or not. What would the numerous game developers say as we borrow their quest and mission formats? I’m sure it’s all okay. We twist those terms for our own use, right? Nothing wrong there. Also, they’ve been used so much, it’s hard to point the finger as to where they come from and each game has them.
I expect I had Physical Conditioning as the skill previously. A Military term you hear from soldiers in the morning chow hall line and is common in the Military. Coming back to my series to finish book three and do the corrections for the whole series two years later, I’m sure I saw the term Physical Conditioning and decided to change the trait to Military Conditioning. How could I come up with such a terminology? Good question, I mean I’ve only worked overseas for the Department of Defense for nearly a decade. I’m also an ex-soldier. Terms like Physical Conditioning, Military Standards, Military Regulations, Military Code of Conduct, Training Standards and yes Military Conditioning are not unknown to me. These are all common military jargon that I hear inside and outside of work on a regular basis.
Could it be possible that I’d read the term in Ascend Online and had used it two years later when I was going through making my corrections and tweaks? It’s quite possible. If so, there was no conscious intent to ‘borrow’ the term. More likely it comes from the normal day-to-day military jargon and I just was like, ‘hmm that sounds better’ and made the change without thinking it was a gaming term used in another person’s novel I’d read nearly two years earlier. Some might say the text is the same as the skill in Ascend Online, but having a low percent increase of defensive and hit points for a military culture is not uncommon in gaming. Similar to having an increase in intelligence and spell power/magic affinity is for a wizard culture or having bonuses in agility and concealment/stealth for a thieving society. Seriously there are so many across the board I could go on for quite a while. Not a new trope in any way.
My social media attackers would have you think that because I use the term, my entire book must be plagiarized from Ascend Online. It’s obvious, right? Not really. There is a difference between using a gaming term and plagiarizing another person’s book, world or characters. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a LitRPG genre nor would there be so many people leaving reviews that the accusation of plagiarism are wrong or so greatly exaggerated as to hold no merit. Many of these readers have clearly stated that they have read both series. They say this because they do not have an agenda unlike the small group writers in the same genre attacking me. Theses reviewers say that the stories are quite different and are no more similar than any other LitRPG story is to one another. The use of a racial term is just that, a gaming / military term. A fopa of a new writer? Possibly. The witch hunt this has been turned into? Hardly.
Even my attackers will say it’s probably a new writer’s fopa. For a group that is supposed to be accepting of new writers and one I was invited into to post my first LitRPG novel, it seems like their reaction wasn’t one of acceptance and helping a new writer traverse the rapids of being an indie writer. There was ‘no, hey you need to do such and such or this will be an issues.’ There was no path available for a simple, ‘Wow I didn’t notice that, sorry. I’ll change that to not cause any problems and thanks for the heads up.’ It was simply, you used this term with some additional fluff added and said I plagiarized someone else’s entire story which was then spammed out onto every possible media channel available to them.
I am not a social media expert. I rarely go on Facebook unless I get a message that someone is trying to contact me. I don’t have my own podcast. I do write my blog off and on and it gets uploaded to Facebook, but it’s mainly as a way to document my own experiences as an Indie Writer that will hopefully help others. Also, it’s a way now that I hear from new fans. That’s a new experience for me that has only truly began with the release of my new series.
Now that the other methods that have been tried to block my books have failed, I am being attacked by the same people on the LitRPG community sites. Why did those other methods fail? Because a gaming term is not plagiarizing someone else’s entire story no matter what my attackers would have you believe. Now though anything I say in the LitRPG groups is immediately laughed at and twisted around to change its meaning. Any defenders are immediately shouted down. Do I go hunting each different thread down to expound upon my innocents? Would it matter what I say to a group of people who are bullying me online or IRL even if what I say is true? Is there a chance to lose your temper and say something stupid that will just make the situation worse? I’m sure there is. I’ve already did it once and had to apologize to the man from Alternate Realities.
To be honest, I can’t stomach drama or flame wars. It’s not my thing. I just want to write, do my 9 to 5 job and take care of my family. For those of you who are on the outside of the drama, I only ask that you keep an open mind and make your own decision. Lastly, I’m not a fan of bullies which is a major focus of my series. I doubt that most of you are either. Judge for yourself at how this is being handle and ask yourself is this something that seems right to you? Is this how you want your LitRPG community to act towards new writers entering the genre? Or is this reminiscent of what you’d see in High School with a bunch of seniors bullying a skinny freshman entering High School for the first time who makes a social blunder that is then blown out of proportion?
This will my last blog on the topic.
I want to thank all of the fans of my work for the positive reviews, Facebook comments and blog comments stating that they didn't see the plagiarism and that the similarities weren't anything other than writing in a specific genre.
I'm sure the hate coming from the LitRPGSociety and Luke Chmilenko won't stop, but by now that's par for the course. Simply reading book one will prove the accusations wrong. It still sucks that they can do something like that without evidence. Just a group of friends complaining against an new Indie Author that they want to shut down. I guess the opposite is true.
Thank you for all of those who addressed the issue directly and spoke the simple truth with eyes unclouded by hate or greed.
(My response to LitRPGPodcasts' critique is at end)
I honestly never been one to listen to Podcasts. I’m usually too busy reading or working. Maybe it’s just my age. I don’t mind catching a video here and there on YouTube but I’m not interested in listening to podcasters regularly. So it was interesting when I had a new fan contact me about something that was upsetting him with my book. He said he regularly listened to LitRPGPodcasts where he’d seen my book series lambasted for plagiarism. It’s here for those who are interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ4Pm2uySNk&feature=youtu.be What upset this LitRPG fan was that after deciding to pick up my book to see what the hubbub was about, he discovered that what LitRPGPodcasts was saying were straight up lies. This was the second time I’d heard of LitRPGPodcasts.
The first time was five minutes of posting my new book, First Login, where was assaulted by Dave Willmarth and his buddies: LitRPGPodcast, Adam Shook and A Man of no Consequence. My back cover’s description looked like a similar plotline to Ascend Online and so they accused me of blatant plagiarism and fifteen minutes later I had nasty reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Funny how that is. LitRPGPodcast sounds almost legit if you read his post, but even with my amazing reading speed, I can’t read a three hundred and thirty-eight paged book within fifteen minutes. Two hours after that I was banned from LitRPG.
You’d think the story would be over there. These guys went to my freshly published book and dropped the ratings down to one star. Who would bother to take a second look at my story after that? Funny enough, the answer to that is quite simple. Since I’m an Indie Writer doing everything by myself, I’m slow. It took me a couple weeks to get everything lines up on Amazon, the blog, Goodreads, Facebook, the actual self-publishing process … you get what I mean. Well, during that time a number of readers found the series and started reading it from Goodreads. There were all kinds of four and five star ratings and these people also left their reviews on Amazon.
Surprisingly enough, there were a number of people coming from the LitRPGSociety site to check out the story and the controversy these guys made about my book. Before I knew it, readers where battling against these corporate lapdogs and telling them that their accusations were straight-up wrong. Before I knew it my stars were up to four on Amazon for book one and nearly five starts for the other two books in the series. There was a straight up battle between angry writers and editors against LitRPG fans. Guess who won out in the end? My stars were 4.1 and then Luke and his buddies came up with a new tactic. Get my book to be pulled by claiming the book was Luke’s creation and not mine. The only way for me to battle that with Amazon is to have a completed copyright application. So that’s where it’s at now. I am looking for other options on what I can do but everything takes time.
Let me retract this next part. I'd initially clicked on a LitRPG group that suddenly brought me into Alternative Realities Publishing (https://alternativerealitiespublishing.wordpress.com/) I don't have any screenshots. At the time, I thought there was a connection between Alternative Realities Publishing and GreatLitRPG, LitRPG, LitRGPsociety, LitRPG Group, LitRPG Podcast groups. I was wrong. Please accept my apology.
At the same time, I began getting blog posts and messages about other Indy Writers who had the same experiences. That they were banned as soon as they posted their work on the Facebook groups. I even heard that the authors associated with LitRPG tried to ban anyone else from writing within the genre even though they hadn’t started the genre in the first place. It makes me wonder if the invite to these Facebook LitRPG groups is a way for existing authors to knock down any new works that are coming out that could challenge their own works’ success.
If you listen to the LitRPGPodcasts it sounds like I’m a terrible guy. Stealing ideas, copying and pasting parts straight from another author’s series into my book. Hell, by LitRPGPodcasts’s own words the first half of the book is basically Luke’s story copied and pasted into another book. Only the tail end of the novel has any new content. Too bad my overall writing is so atrocious. Unoriginal and a blatantly plagiaristic. Wow, if I heard all of that I’d hate that person too. Sounds like a downright nasty individual. While LitRPGPodcasts makes up a good story, that’s what it is … a made-up story. It couldn’t be further from the truth which was what this ex-fan of LitRPGPodcasts was so angry about. That was the point he was trying to explain to me. He felt betrayed by someone he thought was on the up and up on giving reviews. It made me wonder how many other new writers felt the lash of LitRPGPodcasts’ forked tongue?
It’s easy to say, the hero was protecting a group of NPCs in the wilds against Goblins Raiders, like it’s some great secret plot point. If that were simple plagiarizing a story, then Luke and so many other LitRPG authors would be at fault for plagiarizing Brent Roth’s Dragon Wrath, Aleron Kong’s The Land and D.Rus’ Play to Win series. Goblins Raiders, Goblins Scouts, Goblin Warriors, Goblins Shamans, there all there in those earlier works. The plot of Goblin Raiders, protecting a group of NPCS in the wilds, that’s the same situation in Dragon Wrath and The Land. If we go any broader, everything in LitRPG would be a copy of D.Rus’ work. Let’s not even discuss things like MMORPG, computer game titles, Dungeon & Dragons or the Lord of the Ring or none of us would be able to write. These have all come before and have every single one of these story concepts? It’s like saying you had a detective protecting his family from the bad gangsters or a crime fighter combating evil on the streets. These things are plot points to a storyline, they’re not plagiarism. Plagiarism is the stealing the exact world, the exact characters or copying and pasting text. How you use these familiar plot points to build a story is where being a good writer comes into play.
Don’t take my word for it. Here I’ll add in the many Amazon reviews, Facebook posts, Blog comments and even emails that I’ve received. These are just the ones that are disputing the plagiarism. Makes you wonder where LitRPGPodcasts is getting their information from? There are even more as times go by. I just won't continue updating here but you can see them for yourself on Amazon
An additional update: I was reading some of the LitRPGPodcast criticisms. It's funny, they sound good until you reverse them around:
1. Use of a female NPCs that the character meets in-game. On Luke's side it is a goddess that chooses the mc as a her golden children to fight a war against the goddess of death and destruction. On my story, Startum meets and NPC trainer that shows him how to use the controllers of the game as he goes through training sessions to be able to play, since his nightmare start gets no in game auto help.
2. Use of game messages. If we were using game messages, quests or damage meters as the line for plagiarism there would be no LitRPG other than D.Rus' Live to Play series, who happens to be the Father of All LitRPG.
3. MC being sent into the wild to protect a group of NPCs. In First Login, it's a game element for every Nightmare chosen start. In Luke's it's a 'god touched my life and I am her champion.' Now interesting enough, this story element is in many LitRPG authors' books before Luke published his. We're not even talking about Dungeon & Dragons which that is a main focus of so many of their games and don't forget MMORPG. Like I said, sounds good until you truly look at the comment.
4. The use of Military Conditioning. If this equated to plagiarism of half my book by the use of two words, it's an easy fix. Boom gone. Simple change of word hurts nothing in my story and now it's 100% unique. Doesn't alter my story at all. Think about that though for just one moment. You used two similar words so you've copied my entire work. Is the world the same? No. Is the virtual world the same? No. Are the characters or their interactions the same? No. No turn this around, if using Goblin Raider, or quest updates and etc were put to Luke's works. That would be plagiarism huge. But no, LitRPGPodcasts only shines the light in one direction.
5. LitRPGPodcasts said that they contacted me asking me asking me to make changes. There was never any contact. No email. Just an accusation of plagiarism in a review on book one that said your whole use of having the mc protect a group of NPCs against Goblins Raiders is plagiarism. Remove it and I'll take away my negative review. My comments to the link were ignored after that.
6. Lastly, several fans messaged me that they commented on this link. It was the only way I found out there was a link. Their arguments and questions against his broad brush of hate were removed quickly. No sense allowing people view any negative feedback on the video. Even funnier, after talking to several fans and double checking with them, they can see their negative review but no one else can. They're invisible to anyone else viewing the video. Five stars there on professionalism LitRPGPodcasts. Good job on being a bunch of douchebags.
Here is what has been sent to me so far and more are coming. What I see:
What has been removed:
Another fan, Jeff D will be sending me his proof. Nice huh? Want to find the truth out yourself, simply view the link. Do you see Anja, John D or Vanessa? If not, ask yourself what other shenanigans are in LitRPGPodcasts' reviews?
Here is your ex-fan Jeff's review that you hide from everyone:
Unbelievably enough, you did leave one person's negative review up but that was after she called you out for hiding all of the reviews before her.
Still, it's pretty unbelievable how you delete the comments on your videos if they don't agree with your hate. I heard from fans that their Facebook replies were also deleted. Do you have any personal honor? From your actions with just a few posts on your channel against one review, that's looking highly doubtful. Are you just a paid for corporate mouth? Do you give bad reviews and make your reviews sound true for new Indie Authors because that's your job? It's starting to look that way to me.
Accusations with terms of plagiarism is quite specific. It is libel. It is character assassination. The law seems to be pretty clear on this. Now I have screenshots of your libel and a video from your own mouth. I can't wait to see where this leads. Luke let you get your hands dirty. Thankfully, I have Luke's official claim to Amazon over my own book. I'm curious as to what my copyright / intellectual rights lawyer will say to all of this.
For those of you who are interested, here is the official letter from Amazon. Believe it or not, you can simply send in a form claiming someone stole your story and Amazon will simply block your book from selling without any proof or even asking you to show your copyright:
Imagine that. A simple accusation and boom, your book is blocked from being sold. No questions asked. No proof needed of the accusation. It is all placed on the victim to prove that they are innocent. Shame on you Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I'm still waiting for my copyright to process my application. All that I currently have for official proof of ownership of my own work is here:
Yeah, I blocked out my case numbers. Who knows what else the trolls will try to do to mess with me. Still, I'll have to hand it to these guys. They sure know how to work the system. I checked on the processing times for the copyright office. All that they have to do to screw with a new Indie Writer is claim that you stole their work. They know the only proof you have is your pending copyright and they can easily freeze up access to your novel from new readers simply by claiming that the book you wrote is not yours. Check out these times for the copyright office to process a normal web claim:
The sad part is that it's not like you can make this any faster. Even if you pre-upload your work. The processing time is the processing time. You'd have to wait another six months before publishing your book to get around someone's hateful attack like this.
By the time you get the completed copyright proof that your story is actually your story, they've successfully blocked your book from selling for possible six to ten months. How's that for a bullying cockblock? Will there still be interest in your book by the time you get this all worked out? How can you just claim that you own one book of a another writer's three book series? You don't. You'd only do something like that if you were trolling someone who writes better than you do.
We'll see what else they try to use to harass me. The process, I think, is important to share with the Indie Writer community and to get the truth out there of these nasty practices to block access to good writers entering the LitRPG community. Make sure you follow my blog post on doing the copyright office. Here's why you need to spend the extra money for that protection.
Thankfully, I can still add more books to the series which will allow the people who current like the series to continue enjoying the work. Hell, it makes me that much more interested in getting new books out even that much quicker. Who knows, maybe when Luke sees that people are still getting their fix and following my proceeding books, he'll try the same nasty move with the other books.
I hear from so many fans of the series saying that there is nothing common between the story except that it's a LitRPG story. They post that in the books' reviews, they post on this site, they email me telling me the same thing. Sucks how a few asshats can shut down new writers just because they know how to work the system. Shame on you, Luke. Shame on you, Amazon for letting people like that get away with this.
Here is my response to Luke Chmilenko:
When I first was writing my book back in 2016 while my wife was in the hospital off and on for three months, I ran into LitRPG for the first time. I read D.Rus’s Live to Play series and the Chaos Seed series and sat down and started writing at night once I came home from the hospital to my empty house. I continued reading LitRPG during visits to the hospital when my wife was too weak to talk and I stayed just wanted to be near her. It was the only way I could give her the support that I loved her and I wasn’t going anywhere. Around the middle of writing my second book and ordering the cover for the first, I read your series along with Dragon’s Wrath and many other writers. This is all documented at that time period in email and on my personal blog.
My plan was always to release all three of my books together, since I ran into a problem with my first series taking too long to get the following book out to keep my fans interested in the proceeding book. Again, this is all documented in my personal blog. Half way through my third book, my wife was released from the hospital and I couldn’t finish the third book in series because I had to take care of her when she came home. It wouldn’t be until a year and a half later when I finally was able to catch up with my personal life tragedies and get back on track with writing.
Upon releasing the books, I did my author preface apologizing for my grammar and spelling errors and thanked the authors I really respected in the LitRPG field. For me, I like promoting authors I like and there were four writers. I was especially thankful for them since reading their books while I was sitting next to my sick wife in the hospital had touched me deeply. I actually wrote Along Kong personally and thanked him at one point which was when he told me about the LitRPG group he had on Facebook and said I was welcomed to introduce my books whenever I finally got them out. This was mid-2017.
Skip to the present. I released my three book series on September 2018 and was immediately attacked by Dave Willmarth, LitRPGPodcast (I think that’s Ray Meija), Noah Cohen, Adam Shook and one other that claimed I plagiarized your books. The decision was made in five minutes after reading the back cover of my book one. Fifteen minutes later, the posts were on Amazon and Goodreads. If you listen to LitRPGPodcast he'll say I basically cut and pasted the first half of your story into mine. Truly unbelievable and hateful accusations.
The only thing was that none of what they said were true. The LitRPG fan base have constantly replied back to these accusations saying that they were unfounded and unbelievable. Enough said this that the rating rose to 4.1 from the 1.2 that these guys had driven it down to initially with their hate. Even now, it continues to rise. I constantly hear from LitRPG fans saying they can’t believe these guys accused me of plagiarism and said please continue writing. I recently had a fan that believed the LitRPGPodcast about my book, but when he ran out of things to read, he decided to see what the hubbub was about with my novel and discovered for himself that they were lies. He actually message me, apologizing and asking to help with the grammar correction because the false accusations of bullies pissed him off so much.
I continue blogging about the false accusations and the abusive trolling with fans constantly message me saying, I’ve read both series and they’re nothing alike. I can’t believe Luke is doing such a thing. Unbelievable, right?
That is the simple truth. My series have a completely different real world, different virtual world, different rules, different gaming conventions, different flow and different characters. Hell, everything is different. The only vague similarity is that it’s generally about a group of gamers and the main character towards the middle of book one protects his people from Goblin Raiders. Nothing about the people in the story or the events happening are in anyway similar to your series. It’s like saying a main character who is a police officer or detective having their family kidnapped from the bad guys in a book or movie is plagiarizing someone else’s work with a similar plot element. It’s not or we wouldn’t have half the movies or books out that there with similar scenes.
This will all come to light as we go through battling this out. I will do whatever is needed to clear my name, since you have left me no choice. Whereas once you had a fan and a fellow writer that happily promoted your work, you now have someone that will share with the world the darker side of your personality and the hateful practices you follow. I’d like to believe this was simply a misunderstanding on your part which is why I’m writing this. I hope this whole issue is because you had some bad friends that told you some lies and got you excited about the issue and you jumped to stop what you believed was someone stealing your work without actually looking into the specifics yourself. This lack of paying to detail is going to be what bites you in the ass.
You still have a chance to do what’s right. If not, don’t be surprised at what happens now and further into the future.
Since attacking my book one, First Login, with accusations of plagiarized didn't work, because the LitRPG community said you're wrong the book is it's own story. Now Luke Chmilenko has reported me to Kindle Publishing that my story is actually a copy of his. I found out when my ebook option for First Login was pulled from Amazon and I received a email of the accusation.
Luckily, I have the U.S. Copyright's Office file uploaded since September 4th, 2018. Unfortunately, it takes six months for them to approve copyright applications. I've sent what information that I have up to the Kindle email@example.com group saying. Here is everything I have. What else can I do to fight these false accusations? Is it possible to just have someone read each book to see that the accusations are false? Now I wait for their response. Hopefully this will be cleared up quickly. I'm like can someone just read both of our first books, that should clear this up easily.
Luke's accusations is that having a group of gamers entering into an online game to go to pro status and having the main character save a group of NPCs from goblins is stealing his story, world and everything. Wow, if that was the case, no one would be writing LitRPG, or romance novels or any identifiable genre. It's almost like Luke believes he's discovered LitRGP on his own. It doesn't matter that the story, the world the characters live in, the made up game world, the characters the story is about or the NPCs are all different. All that matters is the general concept is similar to his story so I am now being targeted in every way he can to get my books off Amazon.
He accused me of plagiarism and attacked my ratings on book one, had four of his friends join him in posting the same hate, they also followed those claims up on Goodreads, he had groups of authors and even an editor bash me on Amazon reviews and yet the series continues to get the support of the LitRPG community. Readers have seen the crazy posts and repeatedly said that there is no plagiarism here, you're wrong and then they followed their reviews up with positive ratings that has only increased the series popularity.
Since none that worked, Luke has gone to Amazon and said I stole his story. I copied up my pending copyright and other information and wait for Amazons response to hopefully get this resolved. Still, it is incredibly frustrating. Just because you lie and say something is so doesn't mean it's the truth.
I had a new fan contact me yesterday, his name was Jeff. Jeff had held off on buying my book because the LitPodcast that he listens to said that I'd basically cut and pasted the first half of Luke's Ascent Online book into my story and how I was a horrible plagiarist. After two months of only seeing Harem LitRPG books around, he decided to look at my book First Login to see what all of the commotion was about. A third of the way through the book, he contacted me asking if he could help with grammar corrections and explained his story. He was pissed off that what he'd been told about my book was all lies and wanted to help me fight that kind of bullshit. Thank you, Jeff and others who have read the ongoing debate and read both stories and supported me against these false accusations.
The sad part is the disruption this creates in my writing of book four and how it hurts in getting my book out into the world. Not to mention the pissed off feelings and stress one gets when someone is doing their best to bully you. For those of you who have read the series, it's just like dealing with a Real World Syndicate lead by Genele.
Anyway, wish me luck in my fight.
When I first started down the road of becoming an Indy Writer, all that I wanted to do was have my readers enjoy my stories and hopefully get to a point where I could write full time for a living. I also was looking forward to being an author. To be part of a comradery or fellowship that I thought would come from a part of a group of people writing and doing what they loved. As a reader, I wanted more of the stories I enjoyed reading. If the stories I wanted weren’t available or being written, then why not write them myself. A win win situation for me. A naïve perspective at the time, to say the least. If I had known the festering cesspool of simmering hate that awaited me upon achieving a modicum of success, I might have chosen a different path. Then again, probably not.
Unfortunately, I’ve been learning that just writing a good story is not enough to break into the field of professional writing. You have to write a great story. Even then that might not be enough to get you through the gauntlet of bad reviews from professional authors who brook no intrusion into their sphere of influence from writers who can just weave a good story, editors who ravenously attack any work without perfect grammar and spelling, and jealous Indy Writers that take anyone else’s success as a personal affront.
Writing a good story should get you a seat at the table. A good story means that readers are enjoying your inner voice, your writing style and you’re capable of weaving a good story, but that you still have major improvements that need to be learned before you can proceed further. While a great story is a book that you can’t set down. That the story is so good that you rush through the pages eating it up and purchase all of the available books in the series until there is nothing left for you to read.
Literature majors and professional editors would have you believe that perfect grammar and spell makes a story. That without it, your story is not worth the paper that it’s printed on. On the forums they vehemently argue that authors like J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series, Stephenie Meyer of the Twilight series or Pittacus Lore of the series I am number four, shouldn’t be allowed to publish their works. These people cook every time they see a new release that the author is making millions, since in their minds none of those writers could properly put together a grammatically correct sentence to save their lives.
Just take a moment to think about the level of egotistical, self-importance that would take for a person such as this to have when all logic points to the contrary. Especially when their books aren’t selling and their hated authors’ books are being bought up by the bucket full. My answer to such people, besides the simple ‘they don’t care what you think since they taking home millions every month’ is this. Perfect grammar doesn’t make a mediocre story any better, but it does make an amazing story that much more enjoyable to read.
Seriously, who wants to read a boring book? Unless the reader is being forced to read the story due to novel being a requirement for something they need, it’s not going to happen. I don’t even know how this is an argument to tell you the truth. If your story is boring and people don’t want to read it, no amount of perfect literature structure is going to make it any better or more palatable.
For new Indy Writers taking their first steps into the field thinking that they accomplished the greatest feat in their lives and successfully completed the impossible task of creating a story and getting self-published, this is just the first of many hurdles. While most new writers never sell their books outside of their closest friends and family, if they do write good enough to get noticed and sell a few hundred or thousand books, that’s when they start receiving the hate reviews from other writers.
In my personal experience, this happened when my first book Flight hit the top twenty in its genre. In that same week I was visited with the love of four writers who critiqued my story as if they were doing a book report for their Literature class. Every possible error was high-lighted, every made-up personal affront listed and wrapped up in the bow of either a one or two stars review. Other writers do this in a separate way. Their books are written under a pseudonym name and they use their normal name to leave nasty reviews against their competition. One of my favorites is Meh. That’s how he lists the subject line of every review and he never leaves more than a star.
As a new writer seeing this for the first I was quite dumbfounded. After the fourth one, I decided to do a quick search on Amazon and low and behold the answer was there. They were other writers. One of them was angry that their newly released book wasn’t doing as well as the author thought it should have been doing, so he was going around to every book higher than his on the list and leaving bad reviews. I can only figure the others were similarly motivated.
Flash forward to my newest series, The World. I’d talked on and off with Aleron Kong of The Chaos Seed series about how much I enjoyed his books and how I wanted to publish my own books on his channel once I got around to releasing them. Due to my wife’s sickness and my desire to release all three books together, this ended up taking a year and a half longer than expected. I couldn’t seem to finish the publishing process while everything was going on in my personal life. Aleron said whenever I got around to releasing the books, I was welcomed to post on his site within the LitRPG community. Sounds great so far, right? Nope, turned out to be a huge mistake.
Within five minutes of posting my new book, First Login I was assaulted by Dave Willmarth and his buddies: LitRPGPodcast, Adam Shook and A Man of no Consequence. My back cover’s description looked like a similar plotline to Ascend Online and so they accused me of blatant plagiarism and fifteen minutes later I had nasty reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Funny how that is. LitRPGPodcast sounds almost legit if you read his post, but even with my amazing reading speed, I can’t read a three hundred and thirty-eight paged book within fifteen minutes. Two hours after that I was banned from LitRPG.
The bombardment of nasty reviews from other writers didn’t stop there. As my series does better and better on the charts as I sell more books, I am constantly receiving nasty reviews. While sometimes they’re valid critiques, the majority of them are just hate left from other writers and even editors. If not for the true fans that enjoy reading a good story, my series would have been pushed aside and drowned in negative reviews. Not from people who are looking for an enjoyable story, but by professional writers who are loath to see their ratings being challenged by some upstart Indy Writer.
Searching for a new LitRPG group, I ran across GreatLitRPG, LitRPG, LitRGPsociety, LitRPG Group, LitRPG Podcast. Whenever I went to join, I discovered that they were actually all the same and sponsored/owned by Alternative Realities Publishing (https://alternativerealitiespublishing.wordpress.com/). At the same time, I began getting blog posts and messages about other Indy Writers who had the same experiences. That they were banned as soon as they posted their work on the facebook groups. I even heard that the authors associated with LitRPG tried to ban anyone else from writing within the genre even though they hadn’t started the genre in the first place. It makes me wonder if the invite to these Facebook LitRPG groups is a way for existing authors to knock down any new works that are coming out that could challenge their own works’ success.
As a reader, I find this quite attitude quite disturbing. I want knew authors coming out writing the genre I love to read. I hate waiting six months to a year for books to come out from my favorite authors. Sometimes I want new and creative while other times I just want a comfortable base storyline that I enjoy curling up with to read. Having more books out there isn’t taking away from other authors, because none of the authors I enjoy reading produce a book a day. Even all of the authors I enjoy don’t produce a book in less than six months, so I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for something new that I like and am interested in to come out.
As an Indy Writer, I find attitudes and practices such as this to be underhanded and dirty. It’s why I say that just writing a good book won’t cut getting through the gauntlet of hate. Only an incredible story has a chance to get the fan responses and ratings needed to cut through the layer of hate that these published writers would use to keep new writers from joining their ranks.
Sometimes I’d wish that Amazon would remove the ability of any writer from leaving a review for another. Unfortunately, I know this would not stop the hate that pushes out new writers. While it might make it more difficult for established authors to do their dirty deeds, publishing houses would just setup independent bloggers and podcasters to post the same hateful reviews.
Truthfully, if not for the emails, messages and general support from the readers who have greatly enjoyed the story, I would have been pushed out of the LitRPG genre and I would have given up writing further books in my new series. While I do my best to ignore the regular attacks, it does get tiresome at times. Also, it makes it very difficult to get sift through the made-up reviews to find the true criticism left by real readers so I can take those points into consideration for when I’m working on the next book in the series. I do my best to educate readers and new writers in blog posts like this so that maybe when you’re read a book and enjoy the story that you’ll be motivated to post a positive review on Amazon. Still, it takes a thick skin to endure the spiteful hate that comes with the modicum of success I’ve had so far. I can only hope that my series gets out to the point that it can’t be held back by the hate that some published authors are will to bring into the profession.
There is now a schedule set for the audio books for all three books of The World. Jason Hill will be the voice. I’m adding the audio sample that he did for production. It’s a random spot inside book one that has the main character’s monologue and several NPC voices. He did an Irish-like voice for the Half-elf NPCs which surprisingly works well with the story. Listen through the sample and let me know what you think.
The date for First Login to be completed is no later than December 14th 2018. Jason Hill was just finishing up another project and there’s the whole Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays within the publishing time period so I gave two weeks over the suggest two months for completion. Hopefully he’ll finish the books sooner, but it depends on his schedule. Mixing It Up date for completion is February 14th 2019. Again, I added on another two weeks to the production. I figured it was the least I could do with Christmas and the New Year being right in the middle of the production schedule. You’re Going Down’s schedule was a straight two months. Final completion date is April 18th 2019.
Yeah, I know I could have gotten all three audio books out if I used different voice actors, but Jason Hill’s voice is so good. I figured it was worth the wait and, to be honest, I’d like a consistent voice between all the books. My wife Anja immediately said choose him when she heard the sample. Yea … yea, I know she doesn’t speak English so well but she does have a good ear and I agreed with her so Jason Hill it was. Here is the link https://youtu.be/RARKVR2Tc6Y Please don’t laugh at my poor video editing skills, heh.
The next portion of this post is in regard to the scathing nasty reviews many writers leave their competition. The better your book does in the ratings the nastier and the more frequent the badgering you’ll get from other writers. You can usually tell which posts these are just by looking for any ‘book report’ sized review many these types of writers leave. Usually they’re a studied critique of everything that’s wrong with the story. That, or they’re just straight up attacks. I have plenty of both on my new series, The World. I had this happen on Flight the first week the book hit the top 20 in sales for my subcategory. Immediately, I had four book report sized reviews left criticizing my work.
At the time, I was very sensitive to the bashing. I remember trying to understand wtf was up. I searched the reviewers’ names on Amazon and sure enough they were authors whose books weren’t doing well. I don’t know if that was a frustrated FU because they felt like my book was somehow doing better than theirs and shouldn’t be because my grammar or storyline. Instead of writing better or more, they decided to search through the list of authors above them and leave nasty reviews to make themselves feel better while trying to hurt their ratings. Honestly, I just don’t get it.
Even more frustrating are the Indy Writers that become scathingly violent to any new writers coming into their genre. If you’re not one of their friends, were there before them or Brian Sanderson, then they jump all over your books leaving terrible reviews or directly attack you by saying you’re a plagiarist or unoriginal. I had this happen to First Login. Fifteen minutes after posting, I had an author and four of his buddies immediately slam my book on release. You’d think that Amazon would have done something about the libel, especially when we were in the same LitRPG group. Unfortunately, while Amazon is rabid about pulling positive reviews on Indy Writers, the negative ones they have no problem ignoring. Falsely accused or not, most people just didn’t want to get involved in the issue once you’ve been labeled as something bad regardless if the accusation is justified or not.
Maybe I’m the odd ball of the group. I truly love to see the writers I like to read doing well. I give them good reviews and sometimes even send them emails saying how much I enjoyed their work. It’s just so annoying having to wait for them to release their next books. Not that it’s their fault. I read a book in a day, so what writer could keep to that schedule. Seriously though, even if I’m a writer, why wouldn’t I support the authors I enjoy?
I had been hoping that the LitRPG group would be that community I was seeking and having such a hard time finding. I probably need to send an email to Aleron Kong about what happened and see his response, since we’ve talked before about the LitRPG community and uploading my books to his LitRPG website list while my wife was in the hospital. I’d sent him a thank you for being a distraction during that difficult time in my life. After being burned from some of the other writers in the group, it just makes me somewhat hesitant to approach anyone. Once I get some time I’ll have to send him an email.
Ultimately, the worst part of drama in the end is how it takes away from writing my next book. I do my best to not spend too much time going back and doing corrections or asking reviews on goodread to make sure they do a matching review on Amazon. It’s a difficult balance at times.
Although, on another level, it’s nothing new in my life. I’ve had to fight my way out of poverty. I struggled for everything I’ve accomplished. Many times there were groups of people who dismissed me because I was poor, wasn’t part of their group, a nerd or wasn’t cool. I never let them keep me down. The World’s main character’s challenges reflect many of the in real life challenges I faced as a guild leader. Groups of players staking out an area and bullying anyone who dares to attack their monsters? Yeah, I’ve been there and fought those asshats whenever they showed up to grief people. Spawn camping PVPers who gank you again and again for hours straight because they’re a 100 levels higher than you? Yeah, I’ve fought those bastards too. Sometimes the game world reflects real life a little too much.
In the end, I’ve always made it through those difficult times in my life. Usually with a mixture of one or two good friends or strangers that stood out from the crowd and were just decent human beings. Yeah, I have a huge issue with bullies. Especially those bullies who hide behind their popularity of sports or top level rankings in game to be cruel just because they can. It motivates my main character as much as it has motivated me throughout my entire life. So far it has made for an awesome story. Hopefully, everyone will like where I take it in the future books.
Lastly, for all the fans that have been supporting me and have raised the rating for First Login from 1.5 stars to 4, I want to thank you. If not for your support, I wouldn’t still be writing LitRPG. I can’t thank those of you enough for all the grammar corrections, good ratings and supportive reviews. You have made The World possible.
This is a publishing concept I’ve discussed in previous blog posts. I only had Flight and Destiny published at the time but the concept came to me upon seeing the lukewarm respawns upon the books release. The problem, I determined or hoped at the time, was that it was more of an issue with getting people back interested in the series after a year and a half time period in-between the first and second novel of the same series. It just could have meant the book sucked but honestly I didn’t think that was the case. I believed the response to my books would have been much different if I could have published them at or near the same time.
Now this isn’t something a new Indie Writer wants to hear. I know for me, getting my first book written and published was a huge undertaking. It wasn’t just the whole producing a book and getting it published, it was knowing whether or not I sucked as a writer. People love to tell new writers to use Writer Groups as a means to get feedback and get access to Beta readers, and while this sounds like a great idea, in practice the experience is another story. Unfortunately, the writing groups I found when I was a new author always had a main bully and a group of his cronies that pounced on anyone new to the group. They enjoy beating ‘fresh meat’ down and ridiculing their ideas and have no problems telling you how much you suck.
Those are the direct assholes. The indirect ones use kinder words but are just as destructive. Usually these bullies fall into the category that if you haven’t completed a PhD in Literature and did your time in a paper or publishing house, then you shouldn’t be allowed to even publish an Indie Book on your own. Their complaint is that you’re just filling up the market with your crap worthless crap and stopping readers from finding hidden gems like their own novels. Usually the dribble starts out with saying if you don’t have perfect grammar or spelling then no matter how good you write, your book is crap. The funny part is that good grammar or perfect spelling does not sell a book nor is it required to make huge sells. Just ask J. K. Rowling if you don’t believe me. She’s making millions by being able to tell a wickedly-good story.
Anyway, back on track to the subject of post. My idea after seeing the difficulty I was having getting people interested in book two was to release my next series altogether with three books at once. While this was a great idea, in practice it is quite difficult. The difficulty comes from life throwing wrenches in your way and the fact that most of us do not have a pool of Beta writers that we can trust to give us good feedback. That combination makes it tough to produce three novels in one go.
By the third novel you’re questioning if all this work is really worth it or if anyone is going to bother reading your books. Even worse, you go back to your very first novel and see all of your previous mistakes because you’ve gotten so much better as a writer. Instead of having that encourage you, it makes question yourself that much more. You go through your current set of three novels that you’re writing, but it all looks good to your eyes. Still, even with all of these doubts, you complete the three books in your new series and are ready to go.
I would think most new writers would have this fear. If not, your either very ignorant to the whole writing process or you’re just that good. If you’re just that good, then my hat is off to you, Sir or Madam. For the rest of us humans, I’d wager to bet that my tribulations was nearer to the general mean.
When I released the three books to my series, I have to say that the response from fans were better than I’d hoped. Even readers who only rated my work as average, for whatever reason … for me probably spelling and grammar, read through the complete series. People even picked up my old series to read it through because they liked my writing style so much. It was a great response and proof of concept.
The only caveat is that you have to have a good story. Otherwise you will have partially wasted your time writing out so many books all at once. Trust me, that is a hard caveat to accept. Most writers have a problem hearing any negative comments about their works. I try to be humble and open to criticism. My first try at writing a story was a disaster and a colleague of mine, Shannon R. gave me the greatest gift he could ever give me. He told me the truth of where and how my story sucked. My second try is what produced Flight.
Anyway, my recommendation to you is write three or four books of your series out before releasing them. The reader will appreciate having more material to read and you as a writer will appreciate the sales. It makes everyone happy.
The final warning I will give if you’re waiting to release your books altogether in one go is to document the timeline of your stories. Run a blog were you talk about your up and coming book, documents the backups in email, do whatever you can in case some jealous author or one of their angry fans decides to come after you for producing a story that is generally similar to another writer’s work. Thankfully I had a little bit of that for the issue I ran into, but no matter how right you are, you’ll be fighting from behind the eight ball if someone attacks you online.
Woohoo, I have the outline for Book Four completed. I might name the book, Making New Friends. I still have to figure that out, but I already know what the cover is going to be so I’ll have to put in an order with Leo Black.
For those of you wondering why an outline for a story is such a big deal requires an explanation about how I write. An outline is a brief summary about the story itself. More than bullet points, but not quite writing the story out either. This is where I decide the story arc and the flow of the book. Every descriptive action has to have the basics spelled out. Since a portion of this story will be on the ocean, I had to come up with what the Elves boats looked like. What the orcs boats looked like. I also needed to have a solid description of the various crafts used for trading and for war. On top of that I needed a crew for the main ship the characters are riding and wanted to work in something special to make the trip more interesting. Come to find out, the trip becomes super interesting as the group is hit with a wandering instance so to speak.
I also had to work in a few cultures and a storyline that worked as a wandering instance that worked into the storyline of the overall world. It just happened to work out that it sets up the story at the end perfectly for book five. No, I haven’t worked out the whole book series to the complete end. Not that such a thing is really possible since the story is about a game that is basically an advance MMORPG. I haven’t made a decision of the entire crew will move in directly to Mike’s Nightmare start or not, but I think that won’t be possible because by the time the crew finishes helping Domenic out with his Nightmare start, The Syndicate will have to be dealt with once again, so hopefully by then we’ll be getting into some major guild vs. guild PVP by book six.
I hate just skipping around a story and having large gaps as the main characters travel from place-to-place. It seems like writers miss out on adding so much more into their stories when they do that. Why have the story blip from one coast to another when I could throw in pirates, mutinies, monsters and/or a special dungeon in the mix? I was so disappointed with how World of Warcraft did their ships. The boats looked so cool. Yes I know they were part of the transportation system, but why not throw in a random dungeon or some type of adventure or encounter while people are using the ships? You know, like a Dungeon & Dragons monster encounter. It was one of the things I thought WoW missed that could have been cool and yet annoying all at the same time, depending if you were caught taking a bathroom break when the encounter happened.
A fan and now friend of mine named Richard was giving me a hard time about having the books still basically in the newbie area even after book three. He said wouldn’t they be out of the newbie area by now? My response was that I didn’t want to rush the story. It’s the same complaint I have about the way MMORPGs have moved. Everything is now about the end game. Why would you want to spend the time exploring the world and finding adventure when you have to struggle as a low level character when you could just power level and slaughter everything you run into later on? Seriously, where is the fun in that?
Personally, I think this is where the modern day MMORPGs have gone wrong. They went away from that type of Vanilla World of Warcraft experience and the game went to shit. Now-a-day, people rush through the main content to power level their characters, play some crappy end-game dungeons that aren’t even really hard and then are bored as hell so they move onto another MMORPG looking for something that’s actually fun, but since every MMORPG has taken that same simple design, it’s all the same exact thing.
What made Vanilla World of Warcraft so much fun was how difficult it was. You had to learn to play your character’s class to the hilt to successfully complete the 5man dungeons of Scholomance and Stratholme. These dungeons could be run by groups of fifteen players, but even then wipes were common because the dungeons were so hard. The only way you could complete the actual storyline quest was if you did it with five players. Also, you couldn’t have the quests shared with you by a random stranger, you actually had to follow the quest line and do a lot of leg work to get to the point where you could actually do the quest. Similar to the difficulty of even entering into Lower Black Rock Spiral. If you didn’t have someone in the team who’d actually completed the quest to get the key in a 5man dungeon run, you couldn’t enter the dungeon.
Following through the lower level storylines and having to travel through dangerous areas to complete the quests made Vanilla WoW so much fun. This is the same idea I’m bringing to The World storyline. The things that happen in-between the massive world dungeons. The building up of your own lands for player vs. player. The forethought put in of building your character and completing quests that change the nature of the game’s world. Hence why book 4 starts with the main character just hitting level 30 and the rest of his friends still in the 20s.
The reason why the main character is traveling to the human lands this time isn’t even quest related. It’s to help his friend Domenic take on the religious crusade of the Forces of Light that has risen up against his religious warrior house and accused him of being a Dark Paladin. Similar to the main character’s nightmare start, but instead of Goblin Raiders and an invasion, the challenge is a religious crusade who want to slaughter him and his House of Aequitas that resides in the Ironheart Stronghold. While the main character will gain levels as he moves through the game world towards his destination, the fact that he’s not traveling to the human lands with a quest line will slow down his leveling even further. Thankfully the developers of The World threw in a bunch of … aka wandering dungeons, monsters and events for players who are focused on exploring or moving long distances from point A to B within the world.
Initially I’d planned to have undead pirates to deal with and had some interesting ideas to follow that up, when I suddenly realized how passé that currently was. I mean seriously there are undead monsters in so many LitRPG storylines, movies and TV shows everywhere. Besides, how could I have undead pirates without having someone complain that I copied their idea somehow? So instead I came up with something new and believe it or not without pirates.
I’d almost finished outlining ending of book four last night, but I couldn’t get it quite right and the morphine tables I was given for pain kept making me fall asleep off and on throughout the day. After dreaming about the storyline last night, I woke up with a solid idea of what I wanted and spent the day sketching the book out until the end. I’m now excited to sit down and get writing the actual story.
I had several fans ask about bringing more of the main character’s real life into the story, which worked into the story. One of the fun ideas that came to me yesterday was having the main character accused by The Syndicate and their groups many fans online of cheating. Due to The Syndicate’s long relationship with Twitch Online, the main character’s Twitch Stream initially gets a temporary ban due to the accusations. Of course, our hero is proven blameless and his channel gets turned back on, but even so the group of online fans led by Dave continues to blast the main character on his own channel that he’s a cheater as he tries to drive the main character’s viewers away … of course unsuccessfully. I figured this was a perfect example of real life mirroring fiction. I’m sure Dave will be glad to know he motivated an interesting part of my new book as that of an online bully.
When I plan out an outline, I decide at what point where I want the story to end. I don’t really know the word count ahead of time, so sometimes the story ends up being a lot longer then I might have originally planned to write, but the point is where I want the story to end. However much it is, I write the story out to that point. I have to say the storyline really looks fun. Probably similar to the amount of action and story of Book three.
I’d also like to give a shout out to Sam, a fan of the story who recently contacted me to help me with some of my grammar issues. He gave me a comprehensive list of issues that I need to go through all three books to correct. I’m super thankful for the help. I know where I’m weak at and will be going through the story to clean it up where I can. Hopefully that will be tonight or tomorrow. I couldn’t do it yesterday because my body was still too weak for me to focus too closely on something like grammar correction.
Lastly, I wanted to give a quick update on my surgery and cancer. The cancer was removed in one shot. From what I understand, the doctor flayed my ear open and cut out large portions of my ear and then sewed everything back together. The laboratory results said that there was nothing left. I still will need to get regular check-ups to make sure the cancer didn’t spread unknowingly, but it’s looking really good. Once the pain gets better I should start sleeping a better. So far mornings are a little rough, but it’s getting better. Thanks again for all of the well wishes. It means a lot to me.