Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fear and Honesty

So my subject today, the big deal on my mind is book length.  To start, I just want to refer to my new word count for Aeris: 112,000.  I've been writing like crazy and I expect to do even better today, since the hubby took my older son to the Reptile Show and the younger is strapped to my chest via my Moby Wrap. :)
I hope to pass 115,000 this week.  We'll see.  It's been pretty tiring, trying to write, get up 3 times a night, and keep up with a 3 year old, but I'm really motivated to try and get this book out by December.  It will be my birthday present to me.
For those of you keeping track, the book is about 350 pages now.  This is about 100 pages longer than Compis.  Oh, and by the way, IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING FINISHED YET.  I know I've aired my fears about having a super long book this time around, but now that my fears are being realized, I can't help but wonder at the quality of the book I'm producing.
Quality is something I tend to obsess over as a writer.  I know I'm no Steinbeck or George R. R. Martin, but still, I try to be the best I can be, providing clean text, original story line, non-cliche characters, and a readable final product.  I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels this way.
But when I sit at my computer, writing word after word after word, and my book gets longer and longer and longer, I have this secret fear.  What if I'm just filling up this book with mush?  What if it's a whole lot of words and not a whole lot of substance?  What if it's a bunch of boring, boring plot points that make no sense to the story and only serve to piss off all the people who said they liked the first book so much?  I was pretty happy with the first part of this second in a series, but part 2 is so much longer than I planned and I just can't see what in the world I would cut out.  Is it possible, my book could end up being *gasp* BORING???
It doesn't help me to think of Paolini, author of Eregon, either.  By the time I got to the third book and the infamous dwarf wedding, I was ready to throw in the towel, send the editor a giant and symbolic red pen, and curse all writers of series.
Usually this blog is addressed to the reader side of me, but today, I must admit to feeling insecure.  I put the question to all of you... how do you feel about your work as you're writing it?  Is it hard to get a great product with a large word count?
I've got to go.  So much to write and so little time.
Happy writing (and reading)!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ROW and Price Point Heaven

I just read a fantastic blog entry by Dean Wesley Smith, linked here:

The New World of Publishing: Cash Flow

I don't always agree with DWS, (for instance, he's against editing your voice and I'm SOOOO for it!), but his experience where I lack it, has been educational for me.  For instance, in this blog, he talks about how the money flows from the publisher to the author in a traditional setting.

Now I know every author has a different reason for publishing (notice I didn't say writing):  fame, money, personal accomplishment.  Probably a mix of all three.  I'll be honest.  I didn't write my first book (or any of those other short stories and failed attempts at novels) because I was thinking about the future.  There was not a thought of money or publishing in my head when I wrote Six Keys.  BUT, when I lost my job last year and found myself pregnant, and pretty much unable to get another job right away, I thought about that lovely passive income that a self published book could bring in.

That's what it is, people, the best income of all, the passive kind.  You know, the kind where you do something and you continue to benefit from it, even in a minor way, financially.  Again, in all honesty, I'm not making a ton of cash, and I never thought I'd be the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke.  Heck, I didn't even know they existed at the time.  It was a whim, really.  "Hey, I'll post this online and see what happens," I thought to myself.

I've never looked back.  And leaving aside the whole debate of which is better... I think that given a very specific set of circumstances, I would probably never go with a Traditional publisher.  For many reasons.  First of all, I don't think it's a great way for a newbie or a midlister to make money.  Dean Wesley Smith's blog, Harlequin, and several other sources have taught me this is true.  If you're not a big boy in the writing world, one of those powerhouses we've all come to know, you're less than dust to most publishers.  And you're consequently going to have a hard time playing hard ball when it comes to contracts, ebook rights, and royalties.  It's just a fact and please don't give me examples of the exceptions.  Of course there will be.

Will you be as famous doing indie publishing?  Probably not.  Will you have to do a crap ton more work?  Probably so.  Again these are the facts and you authors out there will make the decision that is best for you.  Good luck to you, and I hope you have every success.

Smith's article is key to this thought process because it highlights what I never thought about as an author: TIMELINE.  Both ways have them different.  I point you to the blog for a look at the traditional timeline.  In the indie world, it's almost instantaneous.  As soon as you start selling those books on Amazon, you're accruing that 70% royalty.  After 60 days, barring abysmal sales, you're gonna get that remittance in the mail (or direct deposit in my case).  It's like the fast food of writing.

And then there is the biggest topic regarding sales on Kindleboards:  What should I charge?  There are so many different schools of thought on this subject, I wouldn't know where to turn.  Locke says $.99, Konrath says $2.99 (although recently he has started to change his opinion on that.  Say what you will, the man learns and changes with new information.  Most people are never that smart.), Robin Sullivan says, take it higher and use $.99 as a loss leader.

Here is my take, though I don't claim to have discovered price point heaven.  If no one knows your name, you probably won't get a ton of downloads on a high pricepoint (anything above $2.99).  You also have to be pretty confident in your writing abilities, because if your book is crap and you ask a lot of money for it, you will get REAMED in the reviews.  I see a lot of new writers at the $.99 price point.

The reason I set Six Keys higher at $1.99, is that I didn't want to get lost in the 99 cent books.   I also wanted more reviews.  What I've noticed is that for newbies like me, a $.99 book will take a long time to build up reviews.  People buy those books, true, but when you buy anything at $.99 that is in a genre you read, you generally take your time in reading it because there will be quite a stack.  It really didn't take me that much time at all to build up reviews for Six Keys.  And when I put Compis even higher, I got more reviews than that, and in a much shorter amount of time.  People who buy a book above a certain price point make sure to read it and when they read it, they inevitably have an opinion.

Reviews are the key, reviews and readers.  If you're like John Locke and you can pump out your books or if you're like Amanda Hocking and you've got 8 of them available to release, you are going to get a lot of readers.  For the rest of us, we have to do whatever we can to make sure those purchases become read.  I think Kait Nolan is super smart about releasing Red for reviews just for a month.  This will get her those readers and reviewers and from people like ME, word of mouth, because you can bet I'm recommending Red all over the place.

So, experiment.  Find your Price Point Heaven.  But don't just pick a price based on some formula of what everyone TELLS you to do.  Do your research, work hard on your writing, and be an educated author.

Happy Reading!

PS-  So thrilled to say that I'm at 103,000 this week.  I've been ignoring the fatigue and just going for it!  I am determined to get Aeris into the editing phase by November.  Let's see if I make it!  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Parallel Minds...

Through the wonderful world of ROW, I have become acquainted with several new and wonderful authors.  One of these is Claudia Lefeve, whose work I sampled via her goodreads profile page.  BTW- Readers, if you are interested in an author but want to sample their work before you download, I recommend looking at their profile page to see if they have any short stories or chapter samples posted.  This will give you a good idea as to their writing style.  I myself have a couple of chapters of Six Keys posted, as well as my short stories The Angel & Her Gun and Perfect Man Plus.  They are free to read.

In Claudia's case, I read the sample of her book Heir, which later became Parallel, and was intrigued enough to beg to be on her beta reader list.  To my excitement, she accepted, and that is what I'm going to talk about today.

Because I am a beta reader I'm not going to give Parallel a traditional review.  I don't know if that would be considered "ethical", which is why I wouldn't ask MY beta readers to review my book.  Usually betas are people you like and root for, and I'm sure that could be considered a conflict of interest.  However, since I do think Parallel is WORTH talking about, I'm going to at least feature it here on my blog.

It's always nerve wracking, being a beta reader.  There is certainly a lot less pressure, since the product involved is a work in progress and the author generally WANTS feedback.  But it's tough.  I've done it a few times, and there are a couple of times that I've pretty much didn't like the books I read.  I had to put aside my subjective feelings and give constructive feedback without telling the author involved that I thought their work was crap and that I would be surprised if anyone liked it.  I know that seems harsh, but again, we can't always read the books that are intended for us.  I'm sure that some of the books I've read weren't even remotely written for me, as a reader, so I take it all in stride.  As I do when someone else has the same reaction to MY books.  You can't please everyone.

So it was with some trepidation that I received Parallel.  I wanted to like it SOOOO bad, you see.  Thank goodness, I can say with all honesty that I LOVED it.  Sure, there were some inconsistencies and plot issues, because Parallel was a work in progress.  Having read the final version, I can assure you that she addressed all of them and more.  She even added more words, which was my overall comment.  Give me more book, dammit!  :)

Parallel is the story of Etta, orphaned girl and foster home hopper, who finds herself endowed with powers most humans only dream of.  In the course of this story, she will have to hop through dimensions, use her powers to find her real family, and try to discover the true identity of the mysterious, yet sinfully handsome Cooper.

I LOVED the idea of this book.  The world Claudia creates is so fascinating.  I have never read anything like Parallel in YA fiction before.  She manages to describe the differences in worlds perfectly, yet she also leaves enough mystery to leave you clamoring for the next addition in this series.

My other favorite part about Parallel is the romance, which is again, so far from the usual YA fair, that it's a breath of fresh air.  I'm so tired of teeny-bopper love, and this has all the makings of mature, passionate love. The two characters are perfect for each other, but this book gives them the time they need to fall in love, and save the world, all at the same time.

If you don't like cliffhanger endings, you might want to wait for the sequel to Parallel, which is supposed to by out by winter, at the latest.  But the ending to this book is so fabulous, you might want to give it a chance anyway.

In summary, this book is a winner and though it is still too short for my taste, I highly recommend it!  Also, if you want to tag along on her blog tour, stop by Claudia's website for a list of all her appearances!

Happy Reading!

PS- Okay, ROWers, I'm up to 99,036.  Yay me!  I've been taking advantage of New Baby's early rising time to feed him and then write my fingers to the bone.  I will finish this dang book!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feeling the Disconnect...

Well, with a bit more optimism than I feel right now, I signed up for the year's final ROW80.  I hesitate, especially after reading Kait Nolan's goal blog, to name a goal though.
Should I shoot for 1000 words a day?  I know I can write that much, if I sit down and do it, but I also want the freedom to duck out, or hit the snooze button like I did today. New Baby makes me tired.
I could say, like I did last time, that my goal is to finish Aeris.  However, when I did that, my life blew up and now here I am with a book that is 2/3rds finished.
So I guess my goal will be to write when I can, to try and finish Aeris in time for the Christmas rush on ebooks(which there will be, have you SEEN the new Kindle prices???), and to forgive myself for not attaining either of those goals.
New Baby just woke up, so I have to go.  Good luck to all and Happy Reading!

PS- I'm up to 96,243.