Kashif Ross admits to having made mistakes in the publishing field. These same mistakes he helps authors to avoid by sharing writing tips on his blog, Animscition.
Read the interview below to learn preferred methods of editing, why SEO is important, and how to keep writing for your pleasure pleasurable for the masses.
1. Can you tell us about your journey as a writer? Why did you choose to write Legend of Apollo and Cavern of Youth ?
My journey…That’s an interesting question. You’re asking a person that loves writing lengthy projects to brag about himself. Dangerous.
I’ve always hated writing. I really have. When I was in high school, I hated being criticized for something that came from my brain. Fortunately, I grew up and didn’t have to write for other people with bad opinions. My master pieces could hide under shelves for an eternity.
Five years back, I wrote my first novel for my girlfriend (presently my wife). She loved it and I kept writing romances. However, since I was young, I always created my own super heroes. If I were to see something on television, I had to One Up the story. After watching anime, like Naruto and Bleach, I developed this awesome villain that deserved an entire universe and world dedicated to him. Legend of Apollo was born.
2. Give us a powerful line from your novel.
Time is limited by the bullet I deserve to swallow.
3. Please talk about your writing process.
Writing involves spilling my blood onto a page and watching it come to life. The process generally takes a few weeks. I’ve written a 75,000 word book in one week, but it needs too much editing to see the light of day. The longest I’ve taken to write a 100,000 word novel was one month. In other words writing is simple. I can crank out 5 chapters in 10 hours; it’s editing that kicks my butt.
Currently, I’m on my first pass of my next novel Barcode: New War Order. I’m editing one chapter per day. Ugh.
4. Any editing tips?
YES! I have brilliant editing tips that were discovered as I fell flat on my face. You can watch videos on them on my page. They’re titled: the Stupid Man’s Guide.
I’ll also give advice you won’t find there. There are two types of editors: Front to back and slugs (I made up these cool terms inside of my brain! Look mah!).
Front to back basically means you reread your document over and over again, editing from the first page to the last. DON’T DO THIS. It’s a really bad idea. You’ll miss something every time and you’re never paying enough attention to change things.
Slugs constantly comb over one page or one chapter. I work on one chapter at a time, reading it until my eyes burn or I feel sick enough to move on. I’m always cutting out unnecessary wording and looking for ways to improve dialogue. It’s really important to think, “Is this logical?” For example, currently, my main character is weak, but he’s a gladiator. At first, I had him kick a jammed door open, but that’s something I would have to do when I’m weak. Because he’s a gladiator, it didn’t matter how stuck the door was. He’s strong enough to push through.
Also, you need an editor. I improved so much with an editor. It’s just so they correct your grammar. They tell you what’s wrong with your ideas. They’ll find your common mistakes, like your explanations are too lengthy or you’re constantly using certain phrases/words/characteristics.
5. Have you learned anything new about marketing you would like to share?
If you use social media, stay social. Don’t just advertise.
Twitter is a great way to get the word out, but you have to do more than just advertise yourself. Advertise other authors that you’ve built relationships with. Read their books and tell your friends. They’re more likely to do the same.
If you have a website, own your SEO! For example, Google, “Kashif Ross,” “Barcode: Legend of Apollo,” or “Legend of Apollo.” Who do you get? Me. I work hard at my SEO. One way to destroy your SEO is to repeat information on your website. I often make updates on my books at www.kashifross.com, and I don’t put that information anywhere else. That way, when people search for something simple, they’ll find me. Every time you repeat information or use weak wording, Google puts you further down on the list. I always work hard to keep a strong web presence. It helps you sell.
6. I know you said these are two books out of five? Can you talk more about them? Does it get easier or harder as you get more immersed in the project?
Ugh! It gets harder.
Some people read my books and think, “He sucks. I could write something better in my sleep while breast feeding my child and saving Africa from starvation.” Though most critics are pleasant people, trying to please these arrogant know-it-alls made me realize my goal as a writer: to maintain readership.
I have a very twisted ending for the first book, Legend of Apollo (LOA). My ending hurts my ability to retain people, but that’s okay. I wrote the series to be very intertwined. In order to understand LOA, you have to read Cavern of Youth (COY).
But that’s a huge problem. With the wild ending, I can’t expect people to pick up COY. As a solution, I worked really hard to make sure COY was 10x better than LOA. Making the first better than the second is simple. However, as I write/edit the third book, New War Order (NWO), I’m thinking, how can I make it 20x better than COY?
Word of mouth is the best way to sell books. Trying to make a project that sells can weaken your writing. Sometimes I have to force myself to write for the pleasure and not think about “the project.” Each new book becomes more troublesome and frustrating. I’m constantly comparing myself to my previous work. Fortunately, the more positive reviews I receive from people I don’t know, the more motivated I feel.
7. If you could share one tip you learned with self-published and traditionally published authors who share the same dream of being a successful author what would it be?
I have no freakin’ clue. I feel like I need to actually be “successful” in order to hand out that advice! Right now, I can only say, “Fight the good fight.”
8. Tell us about your innovative website.
That’s simple: I’m mentally unstable. I decided to create a website where I write whatever comes to my mind. Everything is related back to creativity and writing, but really it’s just an insight to my twisted mind.
9. Tell us about the protagonist of your novel?
He’s a jerk. Who wants to actually read about someone with a good personality? Not me.
I made this dude have a stupid amount of character flaws so he could grow up. After 33% of the book, you should be ready to kill him. Once that passes, he matures a little. It’s really not his fault though. The poor kid killed his mother when he was young and his father is really emotionally detached. So don’t judge Spencer!
10. If you had to live alone on an island with the antagonist of your novel for the rest of your life, how would you cope?
One of us would kill the other. Kode would love to slit my throat. He actually says it in one of the books. I think he’s a great guy, very snarky and evil. He, on the other hand, hates my guts. It’s such a glorious relationship.
Bonus (Answer if you desire)
11. Why should readers go out and get your novel today?
Readers shouldn’t buy my book. They should stay away and miss out on all the amazingness trapped inside of this stack of Kindle nom-nom. That’s what readers should do if they don’t want to have my novel make love to their mind.
Kashif Ross is a California grown writer. He’s obtained two degrees that most people have never heard of, a bachelor’s in Social Ecology and a master’s in Gerontology. Initially, he used writing as therapy to block out all of life’s stressors. Overtime his hobby evolved into a passion that made his spouse a writer’s widow. When he’s not devoting every spare minute to his Barcode series, Kashif can be found jamming out on Rock Band, embarking on adventures with manga characters, or outside playing hide-and-seek with the sun.
You can find posts about his random thoughts and adventures on his blog, www.kashifross.com.