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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My latest thriller is called Betrayed Heroes. The subtitle is: EX-NAVY SEAL EXPLOITS SERIES #1

Question #1: Is the subtitle hyphenated correctly? (A friend thinks it should be EX-NAVY-SEAL EXPLOITS SERIES #1. I think that although that may be grammatically correct it doesn't look right.)

This book began as a farce thriller and now I am turning it into a regular thriller. So I'm amping up the authenticity. That said, I am not a vet and will never be able to match the detail and level of authenticity vet-writers have, let alone Navy SEAL-writers. So, I'm considering that the benefit of leaving the subtitle is that there are a lot of readers who like to read about Navy SEALs. The cons: That those readers will be disappointed that this was not more of a hard-core Navy SEAL book. (I don't think regular thriller readers will have a problem with the book's level of authenticity.) And perhaps this is all moot because the subtitle will be on Amazon because the book is a series. So...

Question #2: Leave the subtitle on the cover or take it off?
 

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I spent years in an organization that is a sometimes-rival and sometimes-partner of SEALs, but one thing members of units like that have in common is that they tend to use "former" instead of "ex." Having said that, and despite the desire for credibility, plausibility, etc., anyone who's been in the military knows that if we always write the way military people really talk it will shock, bore, or otherwise lose many readers. Copy? LOL.

Here's a useful link: https://blog.usni.org/posts/2013/02/13/ex-vs-former-there-is-a-difference.
 

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To answer #2: My thought is to take it off. I'm hesitant to tell anyone how to tell their story, but I can tell you're serious about getting feedback, so I'll give you my two cents' worth of observations, and explain why I think you should consider removing the SEAL subtitle.

My gut feeling is that maybe you should consider having the SEAL aspect of your story as background. You can mention "former Navy SEAL" in your blurb or in the story, but maybe the focus should be on the fact that they're older guys who have still "got it," but maybe with a little more sleep and testosterone booster. LOL. Kidding.

Seriously, I'm thinking about novels or movies that are set during wars. Some are outright "war movies," with the focus on combat. Others are romance stories or other types of stories that happen to take place during a war. The war is there. The war affects the characters and their lives, but it's not what the story is about. It could be the same with your characters and story. The fact that your guys were SEALs has formed them and shaped them, but it's not the central focus of their lives now. They are still affected by their experience as SEALs, but the story is about who they are now, and what they are doing now. One advantage of this is that you won't have to know as much about SEALs, current operations, weapons, etc. You can have your guys use whatever weapons, equipment, vehicles, communications gear, etc. is available, because they're "former," and not able to walk into a weapons room and grab all the latest cool stuff to whack bad guys with.

I hate to sound like a broken record but I go back to Wayne Stinett--in this case to his character Jesse McDermitt, a former Marine. His time as a Marine has a lot to do with how he sees the world and reacts to it, but it's not what the Caribbean Adventure stories are about.

Hope this helps. Good luck. 
 

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Have you considered maybe penning an author's note that you could set as the first page or so of your look inside explaining what you've said here? That way, your "hardcore" military readers have fair warning that this might not be the book for them.
 

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1. It's a weird case, but if yours isn't grammatically correct (though I believe it is) I'd use it anyway for the "looks better" reason you mention.

2. I'd keep it. Your book, as far as I can tell, is about former SEALs looking for redemption. That's a SEAL story to me and should appeal to SEAL story readers.
 

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Michael Parnell said:
To answer #2: My thought is to take it off. I'm hesitant to tell anyone how to tell their story, but I can tell you're serious about getting feedback, so I'll give you my two cents' worth of observations, and explain why I think you should consider removing the SEAL subtitle.

My gut feeling is that maybe you should consider having the SEAL aspect of your story as background. You can mention "former Navy SEAL" in your blurb or in the story, but maybe the focus should be on the fact that they're older guys who have still "got it," but maybe with a little more sleep and testosterone booster. LOL. Kidding.

Seriously, I'm thinking about novels or movies that are set during wars. Some are outright "war movies," with the focus on combat. Others are romance stories or other types of stories that happen to take place during a war. The war is there. The war affects the characters and their lives, but it's not what the story is about. It could be the same with your characters and story. The fact that your guys were SEALs has formed them and shaped them, but it's not the central focus of their lives now. They are still affected by their experience as SEALs, but the story is about who they are now, and what they are doing now. One advantage of this is that you won't have to know as much about SEALs, current operations, weapons, etc. You can have your guys use whatever weapons, equipment, vehicles, communications gear, etc. is available, because they're "former," and not able to walk into a weapons room and grab all the latest cool stuff to whack bad guys with.

I hate to sound like a broken record but I go back to Wayne Stinett--in this case to his character Jesse McDermitt, a former Marine. His time as a Marine has a lot to do with how he sees the world and reacts to it, but it's not what the Caribbean Adventure stories are about.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
I disagree regarding the use of "former". I am ex-Navy, not former Navy, as are all those I know who once served in the Navy. I joined in the late '40s after WW2 as a specialist seaman and later became an "Upper Yardman" leading to a Commision. I paid off (left the service) in the '50s in order to return to University. I am in semi-regular contact with many people I served with in both Commissioned and Non-Commisioned ranks. None refer to themselves as anything other than ex-Navy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Michael Parnell said:
I spent years in an organization that is a sometimes-rival and sometimes-partner of SEALs, but one thing members of units like that have in common is that they tend to use "former" instead of "ex." Having said that, and despite the desire for credibility, plausibility, etc., anyone who's been in the military knows that if we always write the way military people really talk it will shock, bore, or otherwise lose many readers. Copy? LOL.

Here's a useful link: https://blog.usni.org/posts/2013/02/13/ex-vs-former-there-is-a-difference.
Thanks Michael. Yeah, I've heard some of that military talk. Thanks for the website link. I bookmarked it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Michael Parnell said:
To answer #2: My thought is to take it off. I'm hesitant to tell anyone how to tell their story, but I can tell you're serious about getting feedback, so I'll give you my two cents' worth of observations, and explain why I think you should consider removing the SEAL subtitle.

My gut feeling is that maybe you should consider having the SEAL aspect of your story as background. You can mention "former Navy SEAL" in your blurb or in the story, but maybe the focus should be on the fact that they're older guys who have still "got it," but maybe with a little more sleep and testosterone booster. LOL. Kidding.

Seriously, I'm thinking about novels or movies that are set during wars. Some are outright "war movies," with the focus on combat. Others are romance stories or other types of stories that happen to take place during a war. The war is there. The war affects the characters and their lives, but it's not what the story is about. It could be the same with your characters and story. The fact that your guys were SEALs has formed them and shaped them, but it's not the central focus of their lives now. They are still affected by their experience as SEALs, but the story is about who they are now, and what they are doing now. One advantage of this is that you won't have to know as much about SEALs, current operations, weapons, etc. You can have your guys use whatever weapons, equipment, vehicles, communications gear, etc. is available, because they're "former," and not able to walk into a weapons room and grab all the latest cool stuff to whack bad guys with.

I hate to sound like a broken record but I go back to Wayne Stinett--in this case to his character Jesse McDermitt, a former Marine. His time as a Marine has a lot to do with how he sees the world and reacts to it, but it's not what the Caribbean Adventure stories are about.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
Thanks again, Michael. What you say makes sense. I just don't see the cover making as much sense without the subtitle. Like who would the generic heroes be? With the subtitle there's an automatic association of Navy SEALs with being heroes. And my story is hugely about my MCs being betrayed and, at least for a while, trying to get their SEAL status reinstated. Still kicking it around, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
alcyone said:
Have you considered maybe penning an author's note that you could set as the first page or so of your look inside explaining what you've said here? That way, your "hardcore" military readers have fair warning that this might not be the book for them.
Thanks alcyone. Hmm. That's a good idea. But the "fair warning" part, from my experience, is basically ignored by most readers. I don't see a way to preclude the hard core Navy SEAL fans. Leaving the subtitle off the cover would only lessen the number of them buying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
vagabond.voyager said:
I disagree regarding the use of "former". I am ex-Navy, not former Navy, as are all those I know who once served in the Navy. I joined in the late '40s after WW2 as a specialist seaman and later became an "Upper Yardman" leading to a Commision. I paid off (left the service) in the '50s in order to return to University. I am in semi-regular contact with many people I served with in both Commissioned and Non-Commisioned ranks. None refer to themselves as anything other than ex-Navy.
Thanks for the feedback, Vagabond. I do often refer to my protagonists in the book as "former Navy SEALs" but on the cover I think "Former-Navy SEALs Exploits" would look odd. Plus I like the alliteration of "ex" and "exploits."
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
alhawke said:
Ex-Navy-Seal doesn't look right. I think Ex-Navy Seal is fine.

Your second question is a toughie. I get a lot more information with you leaving it in, so I'd probably leave it. And I'm used to seeing it with your work, so it's grown on me.
Thanks A.L. I'm leaving it the way it is (re: hyphenation) and thanks for the insight about getting more information with leaving the subtitle on the cover. I agree totally. Without it, it seems too vague and not in a good way. What kind of heroes? And the cover has air-boats on it, chasing each other. Were they betrayed air-boat pilots? I'm really leaning toward leaving it in.
 
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