Tag Archives: indie author

Interview and an Excerpt – Jonathan Gould

Interview and an Excerpt is a feature that explores the process of writing and indie publishing through interviews with self published authors. The aim is to demystify the process for those who are aspiring to become indie publishers themselves. This week’s guest is Jonathan Gould.
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1.) How long have you been an indie author?
I’m not sure at what point I became an indie author. I’ve been writing for over 15 years now. I started off writing comedy sketches for university revues and independent radio – I guess I was trying to emulate one of my heroes, Douglas Adams. I began working on novels about a year later – my first couple are at the bottom of the drawer and I suspect they’ll stay there. I actually have 2 children’s books published in Australia by real publishers – I was hoping that would be my entry into the wonderful world of publishing but it wasn’t to be. I began to seriously think about going alone (indie?) a couple of years ago, culminating in my first self-published ebook early last year.

2.) How many books have you self published?

At this stage, a grand total of three:

  1. Doodling – the story of a man who fell off the world (because it’s moving too fast). It’s a humorous fantasy – Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll
  2. Flidderbugs – this one’s a bit of an odd mixture – one part political satire, one part fable, and one part funny little story about a strange bunch of insects.
  3. Magnus Opum – my newest release. An epic fantasy with a twist. Tolkien meets Dr Seuss

3.) Are you a panther or a plotter?

Normally I’m a total plotter. I’m pretty anal about getting everything mapped out, writing lists and chapter outlines and character descriptions, etc… However, every so often, I’ll go the other way and begin writing with no end in mind and no idea where it would take me. My first book, Doodlingwas written in this way, hence the title – I referred to the process as “literary doodling”. It was a lot of fun and actually rejuvenated my interest in writing at the time. I’m currently writing a sequel to Doodling for which I’m following a similar approach.

4.) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Feel free to be as detailed as you like, this stuff is fascinating.

I’m not sure you could even call it a process. I work full time and have a family so it’s really about stealing whatever time I have – evenings, weekends. To be honest, I tend to go through peaks and troughs. I’ll get really motivated and do a heap of writing for several months. Then I can get into a trough that can sometimes go for over a year. I’ve just reached the high point of one of my peaks, so will definitely have to focus on keeping up there.

5.) What is the best writing advice you’ve ever come across?

Again I get to mention my hero, Douglas Adams. He said that writers should not be in business of reinforcing stereotypes – it’s in a book called Last Chance to See– he met some German backpackers and was really distressed at the fact that they so conformed to the stereotype of German backpackers. So he decided they weren’t German, they were Latvian, and described them as such for the rest of the book. A wonderful read so please check it out.

6.) If you were going to mentor a new writer through the publishing process, what pitfalls would you warn them against?

Don’t do it??? Seriously (and funny you should ask because I have been talking to a teenager with writerly ambitions), I would advise them to be realistic and aware of how difficult it is to break through. I would suggest that they really focus on getting their writing to the best standard that it can be – do courses, road test and get feedback. Try to make sure that what they have to say is something interesting and new. And to make a start on building up social networks before they publish – wish I’d had someone to tell me that.

7.) Are you currently earning a living with your writing?

Hah – that’s pretty funny. I recently got paid for the first time for my self-published books. I’m not going to say how much it was because I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Mind you, my day job also involves writing, so I could say that I earn a living through writing. But it’s not exactly the sort of writing I really want to do.

8.) What are your writing must haves? Music? A quiet table at a coffee shop?

Mainly just time, and a bit of space in my brain to work through my ideas.

9.) What tools or software do you use to write?

Nothing too fancy – just good old MS Word. And html when it comes to producing my ebooks (with a bit of help from Mobipocket and Calibre).

10.) What kind of promotion have you tried? What do you find to be the most effective?

Gee, I’m really the wrong person to ask about that. When I think about my promoting efforts, the words I that come to mind are “scattergun”, “erratic”, and “totally uninformed”.
After a year of this, I really don’t have much of a clue. I guess the main challenge I face is because my books don’t easily fit into genres, it’s really hard to know where and how to best place them. What I find is when people discover them (mainly when I’ve plonked them in their faces) they say things like “This isn’t what I’d normally choose to read but I really enjoyed it.”
So to summarize, I’ve basically tried it all – giveaways, guest posts, interviews (obviously), twittering, my own blog, a blog tour, Goodreads, large organized events, cross-promoting with others. The main thing I haven’t tried so far is KDP select – I have very mixed feelings about it, but figure at this stage I might as well give it a go.
What is effective? The best thing for me was pure luck – getting a free feature on Pixel of Ink. I guess that’s the thing – you need to get out onto the sites people use to find new books, and the good ones cost a pretty penny. I’m considering my budget to decide what I think is worthwhile.

11.) About how long from start to finish did it take you to finish your book(s)? About how many hours a day do you spend writing/editing?

Again hard to answer because of the irregularity of my writing process. When motivated, I can get a novel length work drafted in 6 months –but I’ve also been stuck on things for years.

12.) How much of the process did you do yourself and what did you pay someone else to do?

I use a bunch of different readers to road test, trying to look at people who might represent different types of audiences. I also have a couple of editors I’ve met through various jobs who are happy to charge mates rates (or sometimes just a box of chocolates) which is really helpful – a good editor is an absolute essential. The main financial expense has been the cover designer who was also someone I found through work. But he’s definitely been worth it – the covers he does are fantastic.

13.) Can you tell us a little bit about your books?

As mentioned above, I’ve invented a new genre to describe my writing – Dag-Lit. Dag is Australian slang for a person who doesn’t quite fit in, but usually in a fun way – someone unselfconsciously uncool. That’s kind of how I see my stories – they’re hard to pin down into a single genre. They’re kind of funny and kind of strange and a bit different. Maybe “comic fantasy” if we’re getting reductionist. Or sometimes I just describe them as modern fairy tales for the young-at-heart. The first time you see them, you may think they look like children’s books, but once you start reading, you’ll hopefully find that there’s something there for all ages.

14.) Do you mind sharing a little bit about what you’re working on right now?

At the moment, the main WIP is the sequel to Doodling– the tentative title Scribbling. I’ve only just completed a first draft so it still needs a lot of work. I’m hoping to have ready for release by the end of the year.
There’s also a longer novel I’ve been working at for a few years now – a young adult fantasy/comedy/adventure set in a universe where the laws of physics bear more resemblance to the laws of human behavior, i.e. completely unpredictable and immeasurable in every way.
Beyond that – I’m never short of ideas.

To connect with Jonathan, you can find him here:

Blog, Dag-Lit Central – http://daglit.blogspot.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/jonno_go
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/jonathangouldwriter
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Neville Lansdowne fell off the world.

Actually, he did not so much fall off as let go. The world had been moving so quickly lately and Neville was finding it almost impossible to keep up.
Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

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Flidderbugs is a political satire, a fable, or maybe just a funny little story about a bunch of bugs with some very peculiar obsessions.

Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

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Magnus Opum is a story about a little person in a very big world – an epic fantasy with a twist – Tolkien meets Dr Seuss.

Available exclusively from Amazon.

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KDP Select; 2 genres, 2 outcomes Part 2

In part 1 I discussed how I Wish was doing in the day immediately following coming off the free list. Yesterday marked the end of my second full day of being paid. It was significantly better than the first. At one point my stats looked like this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

They’ve dropped some since then, but not so much that I’d complain. It’s interesting to me to note that the categories change from time to time. I thought you could only be in 3 categories at a time, but it actually appears you can be in several, they’ll just list 3 at once.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

I’ve noticed that I sell a lot more books in the evening than I do during the day. But then so does everyone else because despite selling as many as 65 books in an hour, I didn’t move at all. Here’s the breakdown so far.

Day 1 – 48 sales, 22 lends

Day 2 – 234 sales, 56 lends

Day 3 (so far) – 223 sales, 19 lends

Total – 505 sales, 97 lends

And I feel like it’s significant enough to mention again, I’m priced at $4.99. I am so glad that I stayed the course on that because if I had dropped my price to $2.99 or $.99 I would have attributed all my sales to the price rather than whatever book mojo I have going on right now and wouldn’t have considered changing it back at all for fear of losing sales. Maybe I would have a higher rank if I dropped my price, but I’d be trading on my belief that a book is worth more than a pack of gum. It’s just reassuring to me that people are still wiling to pay book prices for a book.

I’m not trying to start a pricing debate or anything. I just think it’s interesting enough to bear mentioning. When conducing your own KDP Select experiments, you might consider a higher price point.

Is KDP Select a magic bullet? Well, it certainly was for I Wish, but I don’t think it’s universally true as evidenced by the other book I have in the program.

I put one of my adult titles in Select and immediately started the free days. I let it run last Wednesday and Thursday and then took it down for the weekend because I read somewhere that those are the busiest buying times. It’s free again now and will be until Wednesday night.

To say it’s not doing as well as I Wish would be a gross understatement along the lines of saying that trying to hug it out with an angry grizzly bear while kicking her baby in the face is a good idea.

This title had a lot of early success, selling hundreds of copies a month, but it’s tapered off until recently it’s only been selling between 10-20 copies a month. It’s the first in a series so it seemed like a prime candidate for the program. After 3 full days in the program and including any sales (because I haven’t been tracking it very well), it’s sitting at 607 downloads. It’s enough to put it at #510 in the free store and #61 in the erotica category. I think if I hadn’t already seen what free could be like in ideal circumstances, I’d have been delighted with this progress.

So far I haven’t seen any huge surge in sales. Not of the book itself this weekend and not of the other titles in the series. I’ve still got a couple of days of free left before I can say for sure what might happen, but it just doesn’t appear that it’s going to take off the way I Wish did. I’ll admit that I’m surprised because it’s always sold so much better than I Wish and you always hear how sex sells. At this point I’m having hard time even giving it away.

Conclusions:

  • The Select program can launch a book to high sales, but a lot of factors have to align to make that happen. Being picked up by sites like Pixels of Ink is huge.
  • Don’t put a book in if you are selling well outside of Amazon. Unless your book takes off, and it might not, you’re going to lose all that income and alienate those reader.
  • There are a lot of things to be gained (aside from sales, although that’s an awesome thing too) from going free no matter how you achieve it. I’m on a lot of new Also Bought lists, I’ve gained 6 new reviews, and I have almost 16k new readers who now have the chance to become invested in my series and buy the next two books. If I’m lucky these new readers might blog about me or recommend my book to their friends so the possibility exists now that I could go viral. Realistically I know that won’t happen, but “might” is so much more attractive to me than “never”, which was the case before.
  • If you only have one book and know that you’ll be releasing another soon, wait for that before you go free. I’ve had so many hits on my blog from people looking for Your Word is My Bond. If they are willing to go to the trouble to search for it, they were probably also likely to buy the book. Except, surprise! The book isn’t available yet. D’oh! Seriously, wait. You’ll be happier if you do.

It’s too early for me to say what I think about the KDP Select program. It’s been helpful to me and to many others and if you have nothing to lose by enrolling than why not? But it’s a total crap shoot. Nobody knows why some books take off and others don’t and it’s impossible to predict if your book will be one.

I am a little worried about what the influx of free books will mean in the long term. As customers become accustomed to having all they can read for free, they might save their purchases for a few of the heavily hyped traditionally published books that they’ll never get for free. A savvy shopper will be able to figure out that their favorite author has all their books enrolled in the program and will sooner or later have them all available for free and just wait until a free day to pick up their entire backlist.

I do think that in a few months so many books will be in the program that it’ll be next to impossible to get any attention for your titles that way. At that point you’ll be locked into the contract with Amazon and unable to sell anywhere else. When my 90 days is up, I’m planning to pull I Wish from the program and sell at every online retailer available, something I still haven’t done with my shorts even.

Don’t be blinded by my numbers. They are amazing, but they won’t last. It could be a year from now (I wish!) or next week (way more likely), but sooner or later my sales will normalize and I’ll go back to selling at a steady, realistic pace again. Hopefully that pace is significantly higher than it was before, but eventually even the best seller slows down as everyone who cares to read it, already has. It’s so important to plan for the long term.

You can’t live forever on a single book. The only way to have a secure future as a writer is to keep writing. I’ve said it before, but it’s so true, you don’t need to have a bestselling book if you’ve got 20 moderate sellers working for you. However it goes with I Wish, I plan to finish the Witches of Desire trilogy. And then I’ll tackle some of these other projects on my plate. And when those are done, I’ll find something else to do.

I’ve let myself spend the past few days ogling my stats because it’s felt like I’m a poor kid who just won the lottery. I can’t believe it happened to me. But now it’s time to get back to work. I’ve got words to write and an outline to finish so I can start putting words on paper for book 2. It’s tempting to try to market my book to death, but I’m trying to content myself with knowing that I’ve done as much as I can at this point. The best thing I can do for my career now is to let it go and turn my attention to the other books that need to be written and let those books be promotion for the first.

I’m off to write now, but amazing things have been happening to me that I’d love to share so before I go I’ll leave you with these two screen grabs.

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Seeing this really excited me. I think it’s that little green arrow telling the world I’ve been hanging out in that list for the past 2 days, but maybe it’s the fact that I’m ranked so high in such a broad category. Do you have any idea how many teen books there are out there? And I’m #22? Freakin’ crazy, man.

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Or how about seeing that I Wish is the 4th most popular children’s ebook. The top 3 books above me? Also happen to be the #1, #2, and #3 bestselling books on Amazon right now. And next is me? Hell yeah, I’ll take that.

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Filed under I wish, promotion

Welcome new readers!

I see that I’ve recently gotten a lot of traffic from people who have recently discovered I Wish and the Witches of Desire world. That’s awesome! Hi, guys!

Looking at the search terms that brought some of you here I can see that there are a couple of questions that people are wondering about so I thought I’d make a post to address those things.

What ages is I Wish appropriate for? – I Wish is a book with some dark themes of betrayal, obsession, and murder. It’s filtered through the 1st person POV of Thistle Nettlebottom who tries to keep a sense of humor about things. There is one scene in the book that features a little bit of heavy petting and a reference to her “down there”.

Depending on your comfort level with those topics, the book is probably suitable for readers 13 years and up. But again, it’s ultimately a personal choice about what your let your kids read.

I will say now that I’m struggling with the sequel. As it’s outlined now there will be some sex scenes. They will be “closed door”, meaning that it will be mentioned in passing, rather than a blow by blow description, but those scenes will be referenced in terms that make it clear that sex is happening because it’s important to the plot. The references will not be written to titillate, but it might change your view on whether the book is acceptable for your young readers.

At this time I am planning to have a censored version available, but I’m unsure as to whether I’m going to post it for sale because I’m afraid it might cause confusion. It’s still early to plan for it since my outline isn’t finalized yet so those scenes might be cut anyway. But I will address the details closer to the release date.

When will Your Word is My Bond (book 2 of the Witches of Desire trilogy) be released? – I’m an indie published author. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On the plus side, I don’t have to wait on an arbitrary publishing schedule, I can release my stories as soon as they are written. The bad news is that I don’t have a set in stone deadline I have to meet. Which is why I ended up taking time off from writing mainstream fiction to focus on other projects and so the sequel to I Wish hasn’t been written yet.

Now having confessed that, I am committed to getting the sequel out as soon as possible while still delivering a great story. Fortunately, I already know what happens. Nothing that happens in book 2 or 3 of this series is a surprise to me. I plotted the series arcs before I wrote word of I Wish. At this point I’m just working out the details. I hope to start writing by this weekend. My anticipated release date is mid April at the latest. Because the main focus of this blog is my writing process, you can check back here from time to time to find out how the book is progressing and for “behind the scenes” peeks at my creative process.

What other stories take place in the Witches of Desire universe? – I’m just going to steal this list I posted on my Facebook page:

I Wish – A full length YA novel which follows the story of Thistle Nettlebottom, a teen who returns to a hometown she doesn’t remember only to discover that she’s a witch from a town full of them. She has to learn to navigate the complex matriarchal society dominated by women who inexplicably hate her while learning to use her newly discovered powers.
 
As if high school isn’t hard enough, throw in a tough choice between two hot guys, a best friend who refuses to talk to you in public, but won’t explain why, and dodging attacks from someone who wants you dead. She always wanted a place to call home, but now that she’s got it, she’s learned that it’s best to be careful what you wish for.
Amazon US
Amazon UK
 
The Second Daughter’s Second Daughter – A stand alone short story that is both a prequel and sequel to I Wish (as in it covers things that happen before the events of I Wish, but really makes more sense if you read it afterwards). It’s best if it’s read after I Wish, but shouldn’t spoil things if you read it first. It’s in the anthology The Glass Heart Chronicles. It’s the story of a young girl’s first love and the tragic aftermath.
Amazon US
Amazon UK
B&N
Smashwords
 
The Hazards of Desire – A stand alone short story that delves into some of the reasons that falling in love in Desire isn’t a very good for your health. It’s included in the anthology Every Witch Way but Wicked. The proceeds of that anthology go to Kids Need to Read.
Amazon US
Amazon UK
B&N
Smashwords
 
The Lies We Tell Ourselves – This micro short story can be read alone, but adds some character development to one of my favorite characters from I Wish, Zane Littlebury. He’s hiding a secret from everyone in Desire, including himself.
Amazon US
Amazon UK
B&N
Smashwords
 
Your Word is My Bond – The sequel to I Wish. It’s should be available for purchase around April 2012.

I read I Wish and loved it. I’m a huge fan now. Is there anything I can do to help spread the love? – YES! A hundred times yes. Word of mouth is the single biggest factor in a reader’s choice to read a new book. You might be thinking that you are only one person, what can you do? Believe it or not, you have the power to make a career. If you love a book, not just mine, any book at all- tell people about it. Tell your friends, blog about it, tweet about it. I’m going to copy myself again (I’m a dirty plagiarizer today. Sorry!) and use this list that I published in May around the same time that I published I Wish:

So you read my book, I Wish… and you loved it. How can you help my fledgling indie writing career and show your support of my book? Let me give you a list of ways.

  • Word of mouth- The best thing you can do for any product you love is tell your friends. Tell them in forums, on your blog, Twitter, in person. Any way you can communicate your love for something works great.
  • Write a review- Reviews are like currency for indie writers. It let’s other potential readers know that people are reading and enjoying the book and makes it easier for them to decide to buy the book. You can post a review on your blog, the book seller’s site (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…), reading sites like GoodReads. Or cross post your review on all of them. It’s an awesome gesture and so so SO helpful.
  • Rate, tag, and like my book on Amazon- Amazon has a bizarre way of ranking books that nobody seems to really understand, but doing things like tagging or rating a book only takes a second of your time, but helps get the book into the hands of the people who will most enjoy that type of book.
  • Give me feedback- If the book doesn’t work for you and you don’t want to hurt my sales with negative feedback, but you don’t feel like you can give honest positive feedback, please know that I’m open to hearing whatever it is that you want to say about it. I want to know what’s working or not. I am not the temperamental artist type so don’t fear my crazy wrath. And if you have nothing but good things to say, feel free to let me know that too. I’ll never turn down a little feel good.
  • Offer to host me on your blog- If you really love the book and you feel like I might be a good fit for your blog readership, ask me to do a guest post or an interview. I won’t say no and we both get something from the partnership- I get access to your readers and it’s a day that you don’t have to come up with a post of your own. Wins all around! Yay!
  • Put an excerpt of my book in the back of yours- Have a new book coming out and think that the first scene or two of I Wish would appeal to your readers? Shoot me a note and we’ll work something out.
  • Recommend the book- This goes along with the whole word of mouth thing from way up the list, but it bears repeating. If you see an opportunity to recommend I Wish… to someone who will enjoy it, it would help get the word out. Book bloggers, reading groups, friends and family members. A sincere recommendation can sell a book to almost anyone.
  • Read books by other indie authors- If you like my book then buy books by other indie authors. We’re all in the same boat as we struggle to promote our books. Buying a book from an indie not only helps them pay the bills, but it gives them a sense of validation to know that someone wants to read what they’ve taken the time to write. Buying indie helps to support our little community and without my indie writing friends, I might not have even heard about indie publishing.
  • Buy the book- If you truly loved the book and want to show support, buying the book would help out a lot. Of course there is the money that I’ll see from your purchase which is awesome and appreciated, but buying the book has the additional benefit of raising my rankings on site where you buy it, which will increase my visibility to other buyers.
  • Gift the book to your friends and family- Gifting the book not only counts as a sale (which benefits me as stated above), but it also introduces my book to a new potential fan who can then do all the things in this list.

How can I keep on top of updates to the series? – The easiest way would be to subscribe to this blog. Yeah, a lot of it is about writing, but sometimes I write embarrassing posts about myself. And zombies. Klout has told me that I’m kind of an authority on the subject of zombies. But only because it’s true.

I am also putting together a mailing list for updates on new books and stories that come out in the upcoming months. If you’re interested in being added, just send me an email at wrenemerson(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject line “mailing list”, no text necessary and I’ll make sure that you’re added. I won’t spam or sell your email so no worries there. I hate marketing, folks. So I’m especially uninclined to do something like that. 😉

How can I contact you? – I am ridiculously accessible. I have accounts at Pininterest, Flickr, StumbleUpon, Instagram and probably 10 other sites I can’t think of off the top of my head. I use the name wrenemerson or Wren Emerson everywhere I join. If you have an account some place and you want to be friends with me, search for one of those names and you’ll find me. I love meeting new people so don’t be shy. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter (@wrenem) or email me at wrenemerson(at)gmail(dot)com. And, of course, you can always comment on this blog.

Where can I buy vomit stickers for scrapbooking? – Ok, this was just for one person. I don’t have an answer for that, but it’s cool that I was even on the list of relevant sites? I believe I was something like 3rd or 4th. But even cooler is the fact that I’m the number one search if you’re looking for “zombie herpes badger”. Maybe it’s a silly thing to be proud of, but then again I’m the girl who was pleased as punch to find out someone was googling “Wren Emerson bikini” even if I do think that’s a terribly misguided search. Trust me folks, you don’t want to see that. I’m pretty much an escapee of a National Geographic magazine from the neck down. I blame the minions.

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New Stories and KDP Select

I’m writing this entry with MacJournal so it might take a few tries before I get it uploaded and formatted correctly. Sorry for that!

I now have 3 short stories available on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. All three of them are free reads you can either find on this blog or others, but I thought it might be worth it to package them up and put them on sale for people who might not read this blog or who want them on their ereaders.

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Perchance to Dream

It’s just a doll. Nothing special unless you know what to look for. People who know are willing to do more than just kill to have her.

They’ll die.

Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

Interesting to note about that one is that it’s featured on a Succubus wiki. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Cool.

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Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle

The movies get vampires all wrong, but there’s one predator willing to explain how it works to a very interested woman.

Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Zane Littlebury has a secret. Nothing new in a town like Desire, but his is different. It’s something he can’t even admit to himself.

Kindle, B&N, Smashwords

You can find this one under my Free Reads page. It’s a piece of flash fiction that is just under 1000 words. It’s a bit of character development on one of my favorite characters from I Wish. It’a a bit more adult in theme.

The other major change that I’ve made recently is to add I Wish to the KDP Select program. I’m still not sure how I feel about the program. I think it’s a bad idea to give Amazon all the power over where a large percentage of indies sell their books, but at the same time I decided I should give it a fair shot before I pan it. Maybe it will revitalize my sales as it has for some people who’ve used it.

It’s only 3 months and my sales at B&N were low enough that it can’t really hurt to pull it. I’ll keep you posted of any radical changes that come from using the program. But I will say that in the 4 or 5 days I’ve had it enrolled I haven’t lent a single copy. I have a free day coming up on February 3rd so I’ll be watching to see if that prods things along. I made sure to have it happen in a new month so I could directly compare the difference between February’s sales from January’s.

I do see that they dropped the money pool for KDP Select from $700k to $600k in February. That’s not a reassuring sign. There was probably a huge Christmas rush with everyone buying ereaders and rushing to get as much content as they could. Now that’s slowing down. We’ll see how it goes for me. I’ve got a new cover that I like significantly more than the old one. I think it’s a little more in line with other YA paranormal books on the market right now so hopefully it finds it’s way into the right audiences.

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God Bless 3 Act Story Structure

I started looking at 3 act story structure last year. I didn’t have the first inkling when I wrote I Wish… I made an outline sure, but it was just based on a story that occurred to me. I was blissfully unaware that there should be a midpoint or that the B story should reinforce the theme. I didn’t even have a theme in mind. I just went for it.

It was an amazing feeling. Words just poured out of me and onto the page. But was it flawed? Oh yeah. Most notably is the ending. It ends abruptly. I reworked it a couple of times and it still doesn’t flow quite right.

For this first experiment with script writing, I’m relying really heavily on the Save the Cat beat sheet, which is influenced by Syd Field. I’ve watched around 8 or 10 movies since I started this project and they all pretty much followed his formula within a minute or two. I did have some troubles pinpointing the beats in Little Miss Sunshine. They are probably there, but the emotional highs and lows are so mild that it’s really hard for me to spot. A character dies and the family is no worse off than they were. The emotional low point is color blindness? Really? Oh well, it’s something I’m not getting, I’m sure. It has to be because that movie is pretty much universally agreed to be a good one.

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got my little digital cork board all set up with 40 index cards. I’ve got a story that’s sitting in my head in a fairly complete state. I’m still missing a few filler scenes, but pretty much every important scene is stewing away up there. Now I’m in the process of plugging those scenes into the framework. And incredibly they are starting to fit.

This isn’t going to be the script where I internalize the structure and neither will the next one or two, but I can see where there’s potential for it to happen. Before long I’m going to be able to write a script that hits the marks at all the right places without having to rack my brain and decide if what I’m thinking should go in the second act or the third.

This can only mean good things for the stories I will write in the future. I can already tell that my endings will be much better paced. In fact I’m going to take a look at my outline and make sure that there are clear cut beats for the midpoint and plot points. I think I had some idea of them when I laid it out before, but it’s definitely becoming clearer to me as I work with this concept more.

If you’re working on a novel and you feel like something is missing, it might be the underlying structure isn’t quite right. I’d strongly recommend that you read up on 3 act story structure and see how well your story works. It sure can’t hurt. And in my case, I think it’s going to be the best thing I’ve done to improve my writing yet.

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I Wish gets a new cover

The blog post contains major spoilers. I did finally commission a new cover for I Wish… after months of talking about it. I originally talked to someone a couple of months after I released I Wish… but that fell through. Being that I’m exceptionally lazy, I never pursued it again. What I did do was whine about it. Incessantly.

Finally it happened the other day that I was complaining that with my new price (I raised the price to $4.99 around the first) I really need to get serious about getting a cover that better conveys that my book isn’t a fluff coming of age story, but an edgier, darker YA paranormal.

My love, who is much more patient than I am and has been hiding some amazing photoshop skills like a ninja, offered to take a crack at it. We looked at a bunch of the covers of books in the genre that have been released this year and then he found a blog entry that compared a trend of girls in pretty dresses on covers this year. I know it was more to point out that it was done to death, but instead I said, “Squee! I want a girl in a pretty dress on my cover now too!” Because I’m a sheep.

Unrelated to the proceeding paragraph I thought I’d mention that while I was looking for that link, which I couldn’t suss out via Google and finally had to go through hundreds of entries in my browser history (you’re welcome!), I found a very interesting blog about the literal darkness of YA covers in 2010. You should check it out. It’s really cool, actually.

So anyway, that’s the backstory about how I came up with this particular vision for the cover that has almost nothing to do with my actual story (there are woods in my story and the cover model has long dark hair, at least). But my love gets all the credit for making what I think is a lovely cover. I picked the image and when he wanted to add ornamentation, I asked him to stick with the dandelion-puff-represents-wishing thing I had going in the original version. Other than that, it’s all him. It should go up sometime in the next few days.

cover_v0.5_web.jpg

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The most interesting job in the world

I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on the outline for my upcoming project, known at this time as F My Afterlife- although that name was chosen when I was going for a more playful tone. Things have gotten downright macabre in ghost-land during the course of plotting so I’m not sure if that title will fit anymore.

When I say “some time” I mean every day for a week and a half from 8am when I wake up to 9 or 10 o clock at night. I bought some books* on the craft that I’ve been reading while I plot, literally reading for a few minutes and then stopping to add or rewrite scenes accordingly. I’ve been learning a lot this time around. I have been making liberal use of post it notes on my wall to remind me of things like prior to the midpoint the characters are reacting, it’s only after that point that they finally start to take action. Just simple reminders, but they help me keep things on track.

I can’t imagine spending as much time doing any other job. I never thought that I’d find something to do with myself that would literally have me wanting to spend my every waking moment thinking about it. Granted, it becomes more of a grind once the planning stage is over, but there’s no part of writing that I actually hate or even dislike. Well, maybe promotion, but I’m out to find out if that step is even necessary.

What really made me consider my opinion that writing is clearly the most interesting way to earn a living ever is the nature of some of the conversations I’ve had because of it. I IM with my love most of the day, especially when something in my plotting has really caught my imagination. At that point it’s an invitation to send him an elaborate run down of the plot so far, how the characters tie together, and why this new idea is solid gold. I’m guessing that for him none of this is nearly as fascinating as I think it is, but the fact that I’m literally creating something that didn’t exist until I thought of it is heady stuff.

If you are someone who is sitting on the fence about indie publishing, I’d highly recommend you give it a try. Based on my highly scientific presentation of why writing rocks.

Unrelated, but worth reading, I found another article about the KDP Select program. I know Mark Coker isn’t unbiased, but he makes such good points. The one thing I hope will come from this is that for the 90 days that the authors who opted in are tied to Amazon exclusively, those of us who didn’t will see more sales on our books in other places.

*book list courtesy of Ecto’s awesome Amazon feature:

“Story Engineering” (Larry Brooks)

“Story Structure Architect: A Writer’s Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters” (Victoria Lynn Schmidt)

“How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense” (Carolyn Wheat) (I literally bought this one out of desperation the other day when I realized my story was taking on some mystery tones)

“Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time” (Jordan Rosenfeld)

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