Writing & World Building: Part 1: Our Origin Story: An Indie Publishing House & A Collaborative Fiction Series

Something big. A world of vastly different stories, but still connected. A cross-genre series. Expansive, but with niches like a comic universe. A place that would be familiar, but new and fresh. Writing would serve as a personal escape for my creative imagination, but possibly more. These ideas became the basis of the Earth’s Final Chapter series (a journey still in its inaugural stage), and eventually blossomed into Endless Ink Publishing House. Since then, I’ve learned so much about writing, collaborating, marketing, and navigating the territory of indie authors and an indie publishing house, I feel compelled to share my world-building experience.

The idea came to me in 2006. I was working as a sales associate selling printers and warranties for an office supply retail corporation. In between customers I would think about this fictional world I would like to write someday, with no real intention of writing it until I was retired. I was in my early twenties. The idea was nothing more than something to daydream about. I started carrying little note pads with me to jot ideas down, characters, places, situations. To this day I still carry these note pads with me wherever I go.

Over the years this idea would keep me up at night. Plots and characters taking over, until I decided to compile notes from my pads to the computer just to put my mind to rest. Years passed without a story to be started, but the notes kept a string of plots and ideas together, piling up page by page. The Earth’s Final Chapter world began to form. Life continued to move on, I changed jobs multiple times, years passed, I got married, still no intention of writing, but from time to time the world I’d spent so much time thinking about would call me back. I had forty-two pages of notes by the time I started “putting the pen to paper”.

In 2016, my day job was slowing down, and I had a bit more time on my hands. After a few weeks of taking it easy I became restless, life was passing me by. I needed something to do, something creative—an outlet, but low cost with the potential to be a job eventually. It wasn’t long before I was digging out an old jump drive that had all my notes from close to a decade of daydreaming.

For the next few days I went through these notes: rewriting them, expanding, and focusing on them like a project that had a deadline. The bones to a global storyline were there, I had a clear start, middle and end, with almost a dozen plotted stories and a handful of ideas for later. I decided to start.

I had about six stories that were well formed and starting them was surprisingly easy. Book 1 would be a soft intro to the world, laying the foundation for what was to come and showing different elements that would become more present as the series progressed. Avinon was a simple story, but it revealed the series setting and had a pace that kept it interesting. I loved writing it and once I started it was hard to stop. Weeks passed, I finished my first draft, and reluctantly gave it to my wife, Remy, to critique it. At the time I had no idea how important her input would become; this was the start of a family endeavor, not just a personal project.

After Avinon went through a few edits and I felt it was in a good place, I started book 2. This story left a post-apocalyptic Earth and was set in deep space. Book 2 would follow a more character-driven plot and show some themes I wanted present in the series, no villains, just characters in situations justifying their actions. The idea was that most villains see themselves as a hero and framing stories like this was a better mirror to real life, where most people feel like their actions are justified because it gets them closer to an end game, whatever that result might be. After these two books were finished, I felt good.

In two novella size stories I had set the stage for this series, but I had such a big idea, and the world was almost overwhelmingly large, it would take a lifetime to finish this, I needed help. Maybe I could find a few authors who liked this series idea and we could all work together to build it? I talked with my wife, revealing the full scope of my idea and stories. I wanted the series to be illustrated novellas, almost like the ones you would find from the 50s and 70s. Together we decided to start our own publishing house and invest in this idea. I would write, others would write, Remy would edit, others would edit, different artists and styles would be present, I would build the books digitally, and make a workshop to craft the physical books. It had been a few short months since the pen hit the paper, but this idea had now transformed into something real. In August of 2016 Endless Ink Publishing House was born and we put our money where our dreams were. I posted our first job offers, one for an author to tackle Book 3, another to find an artist to start working on Book 1.

It was hard to navigate at first, not just pricing jobs within our small budget, but selling the idea to those who would potentially collaborate with us. Our goal was to work with people on a first contract, with hopes of continued work in the future, gathering a roster of creatives that would become the core world builders of this series. There was a lot of interest, and we shuffled through the artists and authors looking to join us. Our first hire ended up being one of our best. Book 1 would be illustrated by a man named Sergei Kritzien, of Kritzien art, from Belarus. It was perfect working with him first, because he was supportive and excited about EFC. I learned a lot from him in that first contract. Our second hire was a man from the UK, an unpublished author with some great creative ideas, Nathan Banks, he would pen Book 3. I had no idea how many people would eventually get involved in this creative collaboration, but from this point on, the Earth’s Final Chapter series snowballed and the next year was a whirlwind of creativity.

As Nathan worked on Book 3, I wrote Book 4, Sergei started character designs and cover concepts for Book 1, and Remy started the in-depth editing of Book 2. Up until November we were all busy bees. After finishing Book 4, a story centered around a post-apocalyptic gladiator arena, I was stuck, I wanted a story about post-apocalyptic-mutant-pirates and had no concrete ideas for it. I decided to hit the freelance market again.

This time with a bit more knowledge of pay-scale and a better idea on how to sell the series to other creatives, I made a better job post. This time we were only looking for an author, someone to take this mutant-pirate idea and make it their own. The idea generated a lot of interest, so I had our applicants give me a description of the pirate crew they would have in their story. Out of the masses two individuals were above the rest, an author from Scotland, GD Penman, and college student and aspiring author from the US, Christina “DZA” Marie, both had great ideas. I wanted both authors involved. GD Penman’s pirate idea was the best, he was contracted to take on the pirate story which would be Book 5. Christina’s ideas were awesome, so I told her to give me a few to choose from for a story she would like to write in this world we were building. She came back with a fantastic idea, it even had an element I was thinking of introducing later, cannibalism, it would be perfect for Book 8 or 9 in this first volume.

Earth’s Final Chapter was growing, our first 5 books to be released together were well on their way, with others in the pipeline for what would be our second release. Four authors, one artist, and my wife the editor, the collaboration was in full swing, the next step was another pair of eyes to edit and make sure we didn’t miss anything, more artists with different styles, (a reflection of the diversity within the series and its stories) and more writing. Soon our team would include new creatives from around the world, author/editor Mandy Gardner, artists Leonardo Guinard, John Hawkins, Maria F Loscher, and another contract for Sergei Kritzien. Most of these creators would become our core world builders.

Our journey continues in Part 2 of this blog: The First Release

 

*Side Notes*

Sergei Kritzien- Artist- You can find his work on facebook at Kritzien Art, he has illustrated EFC: Book 1: Avinon, Book 5: Chibuzo: The Goblin Shark, Short Tales Book 1: Short: Shadrag vs Monster of the Chateau, as well as being the cover artist for the yet to be released series Into the Savage: Book 1: Nomad's Pursuit, by Kenneth C Brown (Coming in the Fall of 2019). 

GD Penman- Author and world builder. He's a great follow on twitter and you can find him at @GDPenman, you can also find other works of his, published by Meerkat Press.

Christina "DZA" Marie- Author, blogger, and book reviewer. Christina has a fantastic blog about a variety of writing topics and book reviews, her unique perspective and hot takes are well worth a read. You can follow her on twitter here, @CM_DZA

Julian Fernandes- Author/ Publisher/ Creative Director. You can follow me at @julesofden or follow Endless Ink Publishing House at @EndlessinkPub


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