This interview was conducted from October 27, 2018 to November 24, 2018, by JakCooperThePlumber.
Terrible Writing Advice is a YouTuber with over 267,000 Subscribers.
Q1: How and when did you discover YouTube?
- If you mean when I first discovered YouTube was a thing, that was probably way back in 2008. I really didn’t have very good internet in those days. I mostly used it to watch anime and the occasional gaming video. My broadband was so low that it usually took twice the video length in time just to load. I really didn’t use the site all that much until about a year before I started my own channel.
Q2: When and why did you decide to become a YouTuber yourself?
- I became a much more active user throughout 2016. then on August 30, 2016 I started by own YouTube channel as a sort of throwaway project. The growth of the channel came as a complete surprise to me. I had almost written off the channel as another failed project until about mid January 2017 when a user shared one of my videos on reddit and gave the channel a nice boost in subscribers and started the channel’s growth. Then around April 2017 the channel took off.
Q3: Can you remember what exactly the first YouTube video you ever watched was?
- I think it was subtitled episodes of Haibane Renmei, an old anime that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Q4: What was the first novel you ever read?
- That would be the Hobbit by J .R.R. Tolkien. It remains my favorite book to this day. Late middle school I read Watership Down which was a really cool book about rabbits going on an epic quest with prophecy cults and wars. I read Frank Herbert’s Dune in high school which I really enjoyed. Tackled Lord of the Rings when I started college. After that I started reading a lot of fantasy books.
Q5: Building on top of that last question, what are some of your favorite novels/novel series?
- As I mentioned before I love Dune and Lord of the Rings. I’m a big fan of most of Brandon Sanderson’s works with my favorites being Mistborn and the Stormlight Archives. I’m a pretty big fan of kentaro Miura’s Berserk manga. After a lot of pestering by fans I finally got into J im Butcher’s the Dresden Files as well. I also enjoy George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I have a soft spot for dark fantasy. I loved World War Z. I liked Ender’s Game and I stil need to get around to reading its sequels. I liked Harry Potter as well even if it’s fans terrify me.
Q6: Are there any underrated authors, whether they’re officially published, self-published, or neither, (as in you’d need to have read their stories on some sort of website like fictionpress), that you think deserves more attention than they get?
- Like pretty much all of my friends, at least locally. I tend to run with the self publishing crowd where I live. They are about the one ones writing fantasy and science fiction in my area. Most of the local writer’s guild is focused on poetry, journals, or historical fiction based on Appalachian culture, (I live in Tennessee), so most of the local science fiction and fantasy writers tend to be self published or small press. The most talented author I know personally is Elizabeth Fisher who writes paranormal romance. She is published through a small press publisher. Zachariah Wahrer is a friend of mine who self publishes a soft science fiction series called the Dawn Saga. It’s the best self published book I have read, (though I have yet to pick up Hugh Howey’s Wool so I don’t know how it would compare). Another friend of mine, Thomas Farmer, self publishes post apocalyptic and cyberpunk. I’ve beta read a lot of his books and it has been a real pleasure to watch him grow as a writer over the year.s Patricia Gilliam is another friend of mine who self publishes science fiction. S he is one of the most determined authors I have ever met and she is way ahead of me in terms of writing a series. Pretty much everyone in my writer’s group has a lot of talent. I have learned a lot from all of them.
Q7: What are some of your YouTube influences?
- For the art style I drew heavily from Zero Punctuation, Extra Credits, AlternateHistoryHub, and the Thought Cafe team. I arranged samples of all of their art styles and referenced them when I designed by own. I wanted to create by own simplified characters that I could make quickly while also having a distinctive look. My writing is kind of a mishmash of some of the more analytical creators like Lindsay Ellis, Noah Caldwel-Gervais, and Crash Course with a dash of humor from Jello Apocalypse and TeamFourStar. I actually have a lot more influence now than when I started. I was a pretty casual YouTube user when I started my own channel. Now I am far more familiar with the YouTube landscape and have discovered so many talented creators.
Q8: What are some of your literary influences?
- I think I’ve ripped off Brandon Sanderson the most in terms of writing style. I really like his aciton scenes and cool magic systems. I love Frank Herbert for is sense of history and Shakesperean like characterization. While I didn’t really draw much from his writing style, Tolkien very much inspired me and kindled my interest in fantasy.
Q9: Does anybody in your real life, (family, friends, literary peers, ect), watch your videos? If so, what do they think about them?
- My friends and family both watch my videos. Most of my non writer friends watch it pretty casually. They like a lot of the gnre topics. The majority of my friends are nerds so they get a lot of the jokes about fantasy and science fiction. My grandma doesn’t get it at all so most of the humor falls flat for her. I think a lot of the humor flies over the ehads of older audiences who grew up before the days of the Internet. A lot of my jokes reference Internet culture so the least tech savvy will miss the punchlines. My writer friends love it and my weriter’s group frequently discuss my videos before our critique sessions. I’ve even asked for feedback when writing some of the scripts. One of the most amusing things to happen to me so far was when one of my friends recommended me my own videos. She was like “you gotta check out this guy! Come to think of it, he sounds a lot like you.”
Q10: How did you come up with the concept for the type of YouTube videos that you make?
- Way back in college I read a book titled How Not to Write a Novel. It was a pretty funny book offering humorous examples of bad writing and the concept stuck with me. Around 2016 I released my book and needed a way to market it. I thought about doing a book trailer, but I didn’t know anything about video editing. So I decided I needed a throwaway project to sharpen my video editing skills before trying to tackle the book trailer. I had thought about doing a writing advice blog like nearly every author on the planet, but dismissed the idea because I really didn’t have much new to bring to the table. Then I remembered the book How to Not Write a Novel and thought that maybe I could try something similar. I had dome some comedy writing back in high school so I thought I would give that a try and create a parody of a lot of the more unhelpful writing advice I had found online.
Q11: Do you have plans to make more serious videos like you did with your Cliches video?
- I’m working on one now on how to construct a plot. I hope to make more of these “honest thoughts” videos as I call them in the future. They are pretty useful for answering frequently answered questions.
Q12: What do you think of the new YouTube Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines?
- I’ve been largely unaffected by the dreaded adpocalypse. My videos were generally family friendly to begin with. The channel is supported now mostly through sponsorships anways so I’m not really stuck dealing with YouTube’s ad system that much it is a sh ame that a lot of creators found their livlihoods threatened by these new content guidelines, but the Wild West was tamed and so it will be with YouTube.
Q13: Was Terrible Writing Advice your first YouTube channel, or have you had other channels before it?
- Terrible Writing Advice was my first channel. The only other channel I made was my Aeon Legion channel, but I made that one after Terrible Writing Advice.
Q14: Do you have a favorite or least favorite video that you’ve uploaded?
- My favorite video is actually one of the least viewed on my channel and that’s the video on Marketing and Promotion. As a self published author desperate to scrape by that video’s tone wasn’t too far off the mark for my mood at the time. Run with enough self published authors and you start to see the desperation of trying to find traction in a crowded market. I guess It was a way to laugh off the pain at the time since at the point the video came out my channel was still fairly obscure. I don’t really have any videos I actively dislike. Probably my least favorite is my most viewed which is the video on Mary Sue. I still like the video. I think it has a lot of good points and I really like the bit about Mary Sue being similar to the villain, but I had troubled the sound on that one for some reason. Out of the first three videos I made (Dystopia and Fantasy Races), I thought that Mary Sue was the weakest of the bunch. I do find it ironic that Mary Sue is the most popular video on my channel. Only the author is supposed to like Mary Sue while the audience is supposed to hate her, not the other way around.
Q15: Do you enjoy any other artistic mediums aside from novels and writing novels, (anime, manga, video games, movies, music, etc)?
- I was a big anime and manga fan many years ago. I’ve somewhat cooled on the medium since then as I find that anime has stagnated inr ecent years, but I still keep up with Berserk and a few others. Actually, Berserk remains one of my favorite fantasy stories right behind The Hobbit. I also really love Paranoia Agent, too. I play way too many video games, I love strategy games in particular with my all time favorite still being the original X-Com. I play a lot of paradox games too like Hearts of Irona nd Stellaris. I really got into the old Fallout games too, specifically the original New Vegas. I tend to stay awy from multiplayer though. I’m not really a big movie fan and I never got into music that much, either.
Q16: Approximately how many novels do you own?
- Around 50 to 60 plus. I don’t really have as many physical books as a lot of other authors because I’ve had to move so much over the years and books are heavy. I’ve got a lot of audio books now.
Q17: How do you get inspiration for your videos?
- I mostly just research the topic I want to cover and come up with a list of talking points. While I am a planner when it comes to writing my novels, I almost discovery write my scrips for Terrible Writing Advice. A lot of humor really comes down to something mundane and looking at it in a twisted way.
Q18: Who draws the pictures in your videos?
- I do pretty much all of the art in my videos. I try to avoid using external assists due to the potential of copyright issues. I sometimes showcase fan art that I credit in the deescription video itself, but otherwise it’s usually all original art done just by me. Most of it is vector art done in photoshop.
Q19: You currently have more than 220,000 subscribers. Did you ever think you would reach that point when you started?
- Nope. I never thought the channel would take off. I thought I might get lucky and maybe hit 1,000 subscribers. The whole thing was a shot in the dark. AT the point I made the channel, experience had taught me to keep my expectations low. Terrible Writing Advice’s sudden explosion in popularity during April of 2017 took me completely by surprise.
Q20: Currently, your most viewed video is MARY SUE - Terrible Writing Advice. Does this surprise you, and also does it surprise you that it has more than 901k views?
- It does. Mostly because it was one of the episodes that I thought was merely okay. Mary Sues are a very popular subject and more than one authortuber has found an expected surge in views when making a video on the subject. People just really like to talk about Mary Sue for some reason, almost like it’s about her.
Q21: Are there any other YouTubers who talk about creative writing that you enjoy watching?
- I’ll catch the odd video from Jenna Moreci and Overly Carcastic Productions. I’ll also watch extra credits when they cover writing, I’ve seen all of Brandon sanderson’s lecture series which are on YouTube, I think I’ve found his lectures the most helpful and in depth. Sometimes I browse AuthorTube in general just to see other writers’ take on a specific subject.
Q22: How long do you think YouTube will last?
- No idea. Maybe the loss of net neutrality will eventually strangle YouTube’s traffic beyond the point of repair. Maybe article 13 will cut YouTube’s audience in half ending any hope of it being profitable. Maybe Google will finally close the doors on YouTube after years of not generating a profit. Maybe another platform will come out of nowhere and topple YouTube’s near monopoly on video media. Maybe it will end tomorrow. To quote a movie I like “until such a time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.”
Q23: How long do you think you will be uploading videos?
- Until either people stop watching or I run out of subjects to talk about, whichever happens first. Given the ever evolving nature of pop culture and its cliches I doubt I will run out of subjects anytime soon.
Q24: Do you have any “unique” advice you’d give an aspiring author that you don’t hear people say all that much?
- Time spent seeking validation from others is time better spent writing. Time spent worrying about if you writing is good or not is time better spent making your writing good. T ime spent worrying that people might never read or like your writing is time better spent writing to make sure you have work to read and like. The one trait that all successful authors share is tht they spent time writing. Diving deep into the endless world of writing advice blog’s and videos can be fun and you can learn a lot, but the best way to learn how to write is to actually sit down and write.
Q25: Have you ever done an interview like this before?
- I’ve done a few text interviews before. I’ve also done a couple of podcast interviews and a number of student interviews for college and high school projects. The fact that people want to interview me at all is still kind of strange. I never expected to be in demand after giving people such terrible writing advice.