Showing posts with label Dean Wesley Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dean Wesley Smith. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 13

Using Technology To Sell Books: Quick Response Codes (QR codes)

Using Technology To Sell Books: Quick Response Codes (QR codes)

There are a few blogs that consistently amaze me with the quality of their content and Joanna Penn's blog, The Creative Penn, is one of them. Today, quest poster Emily Craven explained how writers can use QR codes to 1) get more of your content in front of readers and 2) to enrich your readers experience of that content.

In this article I first talk about QR codes, what they are, and then discuss ways you can use them to put more of your content in front of readers and how to make that content as rich and interesting as possible.

Then, when (hopefully!) you've decided this is something you'd like to explore, I'll step you though how to generate your own QR codes and how to use them.

Ready? Let's go!

What The Heck Are QR Codes?

QR codes are those boxlike images which look like the misbegotten love-child of a Rorschach ink-blog and a bar code (see above). Their full name is Quick Response Code and it has been used extensively in recent years for advertising.
Formerly only for industrial uses, they have in recent years become common in consumer advertising and packaging, because the popularity of smartphones has put a barcode reader in everyone's pocket for the first time. As a result, the QR Code has become a focus of advertising strategy, since it provides quick and effortless access to the brand's website. (QR Code, Wikipedia)

We're Writers, Why Should We Care About QR Codes?

You might be wondering what, exactly, a QR code does. It's simple. It takes a surfer from one part of the internet to another part.

To your part.

For fans of Star Trek, it's like transporting people into your virtual gallery.

But what should you put on this webpage? It is, after all, a bit like your own virtual gallery.

Emily writes that one of the best ways to gain the trust of a prospective reader is to offer them audio or video content of yourself.

Not your cute-as-a-button dog, not a tasteful cartoon and NOT (you know who you are) your hand. You.

Emily writes:
It puts a face to the words, a personality to the letters, and while by its nature the video is generic, it seems personal and creates a deeper connection for the reader. They KNOW who you are, they’ve SEEN your face, you’ve reached out to them. ...

This type of interaction between an author and a reader has never been done. Ever. Hardly anyone in the industry is taking advantage of this free technology and the digital space to connect on a deeper level. We have a chance to experiment while the publishers are frozen, a way to allow indies to come into their own and lead the field.
I feel this is something of a confession, but I haven't yet created audio or visual content. So what I said, above, is a do-as-I-humbly-suggest kind of thing; it's not (alas) do-as-I-do. And, of course, everyone has different boundaries. If you'd rather traverse hot coals than make a video, then don't. In my opinion it's not worth that kind of stress.

That said, for those of you considering such a step, here are a few articles on how to make audio files and videos.
Article on making an audiobook:
- How To Record Your Own Audiobook: Setting Up A Home Studio

Articles on making a video:
- How to Make a YouTube video
- YouTube: Creators' Corner
- YouTube: Create Videos

QR Codes: How Writers Can Use Them To Grow Their Audience

The problem with electronic books is that while you can download them you can't give them to a person you just met as a conference and sign the cover. Or sell them in bookstores.

Yes, you could generate a Smashwords coupon for the book and email it to your new friend, but you'd loose the intimacy of handing someone your book. Also, you can't sign an electronic file.

The solution: Book Cards!

This isn't my idea, Dean Wesley Smith blogged about it last year. The idea is that you do up a card (or bookmark) so it looks like your book, include the url of your book on Smashwords (or wherever) and print a coupon code on the card for getting the book free. You can even sign it!

I think that using QR Codes on the book cards, in addition to a printed URL, would be fantastic. No more tying a long URL into a browser.

But that's just the beginning. Embed a QR code at the end of a chapter and give readers the opportunity to visit a page on your website where you narrate new content (perhaps a 'lost' chapter), or give them a sample chapter from your latest book. You could even offer them a discount coupon for your next book.

Also, you could compile playlists for one or more of your characters and let your readers download them. See: Writing To Music: Knowing Your Characters.

QR Codes versus URLs

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. What makes a QR code better than a good old-fashioned (heh) URL? After all, a reader, simply by clicking a hyperlink, can go to any page on the web, they don't need to download yet ANOTHER program and then take a picture.

Here's the gist of what Emily says:

1)  When a reader clicks a hyperlink your story disappears and the new content replaces it. Since your using another devise, such as a smart phone, to access the bonus/new content, your story doesn't go anywhere and your reader doesn't lose their place in your book. Something that might just make them forget to come back!

2) Some e-readers can't access the internet. Without using QR codes the only way people would have of using the links you embedded would be to try and load your book file onto their computer, and how many busy folks are going to take that extra step?

Hopefully by this point you're convinced that QR codes are useful, or at least something you could experiment with. Now the question is: How do we make one?

How To Generate A QR Code

This part is as easy as falling off a greased log. Emily recommends delivr. Just take the URL of your choice and paste it in the the textbox, press go, and voila! You can download the image in the format of your choice (png, jpg, eps, or svg).

Here's the one I did

Figure 1

The URL I used was from Neil Gaiman's fabulous commencement speech at the University of the Arts this year:

I pasted that into the textbox at delivr and got the jpg that I've labeled Figure 1 (see above). Easy, right?

How To Read A QR Code

Emily Craven recommends a fabulous article: Desktop QR Code Reader. That's where most of the following information comes from.


If you're using android the author recommends zxing, a open-source app.


If you're using apple technology the article suggests the free QR Reader or (this is the one I use) you can use Qrafter (also free).


If you're using Chrome as your browser you can use a program called QR-Code Tag Extension and this will let you generate a QR code for the site you're viewing. Cool! By the way, if you're using Firefox for your browser, you can use an add-in called Mobile Barcode to do the same thing. (Update: I've been having trouble viewing the QR code for the page with Mobile Barcode. Just FYI.)

Just go to whichever app store is relevant to your technology and download. I'll wait.

Back? Good. Open the app and use it to read the QR Code of your choice.

If you're using Qrafter on your iPhone or iPad just choose "Scan with Camera". If you like, you can use the QR code, just above, as a test. When the QR code is within view of the camera the app will automatically detect it and asks you if you'd like to go to the associated URL. Select "Go to URL" and you'll be looking at Neil Gaiman's speech on YouTube. (If you haven't listened to Mr. Gaiman's speech you might enjoy it, it is one of the more inspirational speeches I've heard.)

Conclusion: Are QR Codes The Best Things Since Sliced Bread?

Time will tell. It's a great technology. The next time I print my business cards I think I'm going to include a QR Code to my website on the back and I will make a book card for my next novel so I can give it out to folks in person.

What do you think of QR codes? Do you use them? If not, do you think you'll start?

Other articles you might like:
- Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Hugh Howey Says: Yes! Even With Absolutely No Promotion
- The MacGuffin: A Plot Device From Screenwriting
- Serial Fiction: Is It Profitable?

Monday, October 15

The Best Way To Build A Writer's Platform Is To Write

The Best Way To Build A Writer's Platform Is To Write

Dean Wesley Smith holds that writers should write. Period. Sure "promotion can help book sales when done right and for the right reasons" but Dean advises authors:
Don't bother. Keep writing and selling. (The New World of Publishing: Promotion)

Don't promote, just write

That advice flies in the face of much of what independent writers have been told (for instance the advice John Locke gives in his book, How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months) so if you're skeptical I don't blame you. That said, best-selling author Erin Kern is a great example of what Dean's talking about.  First, though, here's what Dean says in his own words:
Put your story out on the market either to editors or readers and forget it and focus forward on learning and writing more stories. It can’t hurt you to have them out. No one will read them if they are a stinking pile of crap. So no big deal.

And if you happened to have gotten close to a story that works, then readers will pay you money for it without you doing a thing to push them. And you will then know and can take credit for writing a good story.

And when that happens, take the credit. You will deserve it.

Keep writing and learning and writing and learning and writing and learning.

There will be enough time down the road for promotion of the right book.

And keep having fun. (The New World of Publishing: Maybe You Wrote a Good Book)
In short, the best thing you can do as a writer to help sell your work is to write. Rather than spending time and money to market your last book, write a new one.

Dean Wesley Smith knows what he's talking about. He has written hundreds of books (I'm including his ghostwritten stories) and worked successfully in a high-risk, turbulent industry, for at least 30 years.

As part of my series on building a writer's platform I want to examine what Dean says about marketing and how it applies to platform building, but here's the short version. (And please keep in mind this is just my opinion.)

I think constantly writing stories, constantly putting new work out on the market (whether you submit work to editors or publish it yourself) is a smart way of building a platform! I don't think writing and platform building are separate; rather, they are two sides of the same coin.

For instance, if you write a horror story and it sells well you're branding yourself--or at least that pen name--as a horror writer. This happened to Stephen King. His first big book was Carrie and that went a long way to brand him, not only as a writer of horror, but of a certain kind of horror. The creepy, oh-my-gosh-I-can't-look-away white-knuckle kind.

Skeptical? Let's take a look at Erin Kern's fabulous success story.

Erin Kern

When Erin Kern published her first book, Looking For Trouble, she sold one copy in two weeks, and that was to her husband! She writes:
The first month Looking for Trouble was published (October 2010) I sold about 10 copies. The next month I sold 12.

And that was with lots of marketing. And when I say lots, I mean some reviews from romance websites, and the occasional feature.
Erin published Looking For Trouble in October 2010. Six months later the book started to take off and Erin saw the book's Amazon ranking steadily improve. What changed? Erin writes:
But my sales did eventually take off. In April 2011 I started seeing a steady uphill climb in ranking. By then I’d all but quit marketing and was basically working on my next book. In fact, the only change I’d made was the price of the book.

I lowered it from $2.99 to $.99.
The point? What sold the book was the book and finding the right price point. Erin writes:
To make a long story short, Looking for Trouble was on the Amazon top 100 for 4 months. Sometime in June, the book peaked at #6 in the paid Kindle store, and #1 on three different lists. In that month alone, I sold 38,000 copies. What was I doing to sell all these books?


The higher ranked your book is, the more exposure you get. Readers brows the bestseller lists all the time to see who they should read next.
Erin speculates that the self published book is the new query letter because it can get you noticed by agents, editors and publishers.

So, what's the truth about making it as a writer in this new age of digital publishing? Erin sums it up nicely:
You just have to write a great book (actually more than one would be helpful). My second book, Here Comes Trouble, was in the Amazon top 100 2 weeks after I published it.
Great advice! To write a great book, you have to write a lot and write regularly. It's a simple recipe for success but far from easy to follow.

I heartily recommend Erin Kern's article, Are Self-Published Books the New Query Letter?

Other articles you might like:
- Penelope Trunk: Blogging And Branding
- Building A Platform That Meets Your Needs
- Jim Butcher Begins Another Series, The Cinder Spires: It's Steampunk!

Articles referenced:
- Are Self-Published Books the New Query Letter?, by Erin Kern
- The New World of Publishing: Promotion, by Dean Wesley Smith
- The New World of Publishing: Maybe You Wrote a Good Book, by Dean Wesley Smith

Photo credit: Pascal Maramis

Sunday, September 23

The Seven Year Itch And Publishing

The Seasons Of Publishing

Have you ever watched the movie The Seven Year Itch? That's the movie in which, among other things, Marilyn Monroe stands stands over a subway grate so she can get some relief from the summer heat. The heat which, at least in the 1950s, drove people out of New York during August.

Apparently New Yorkers aren't the only folks to take August off. The publishing world did as well. Which is no surprise given that New York used to BE the publishing world. But that wasn't the only reason. Dean Wesley Smith tells us that book sales traditionally slump during the summer, from mid-May to mid-September.

Which brings us to the subject of Dean's post: The Seasons of Publishing. Specifically: fall, winter and spring. When I read that list I suspected a typo. Where's summer? But in publishing there was no summer. There were three seasons and each lasted for 4 months. Dean writes:
[A] major reason for no summer catalog and sales season for the publishers was that it was known that the lowest time for buying books by customers was May through the middle of September. That has not changed.
The lesson for indie publishers:

Don't watch your numbers like an obsessive-compulsive hawk!

If, currently, your book sales are down, at least one of the reasons is that it's summer and book sales go down in the summer. Simple as that. But that's just one reason that your sales could be down. The important point here is that, many times, when your sales go down it has nothing to do with your book. The dip is often completely beyond your control.

So if indie authors worry about our sales dropping and try to prop them back up by commissioning another cover, by rewriting the blurb, and so on, we really are just wasting time that could have spent writing more books.

Given the natural ebb and flow of book sales, what should indie authors do? Here are Dean's suggestions:
1) Focus only on learning and writing the next book.

2) Check your numbers when the money gets deposited every month and no more.

3) Expect your overall sales to go down from May 15 to September 15 unless you push in new titles or do something else to change your list.

The summer is a great time to push in new titles because they will be solidly in the system, throughout the world, as we go into the fall book-buying season. So if you do anything in the summer, get new titles up.

If you do change a price, for heaven’s sake, give the new price at least six months to nine months to return numbers to you. Changing a price from week to week or month to month is just flat silly in this business.

Think long term. Checking your sales numbers twelve times per year is enough. And for heaven’s sake, stop reacting to low sales in a traditional low-sales period in the business.
Nothing wrong with your books. Low sales in the summer are just normal.

I especially like Dean's recommendation to give a new price at least 6 months to preform before changing it again. Well, that and the advice to publish during the summer to give your book some traction before Christmas. Actually, I like it all! (grin)

You can read Dean Wesley Smith's entire article here: The New World of Publishing: The Seasons of Publishing.

Other articles you might like:
- Writing Resources
- The Role Of The Unconscious In Writing
- Lyla Sinclair's 8 Secrets Of Successful Romance Writing
- How Do Writers Get Their Ideas? Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin & Stephen King

Saturday, September 15

Indie Books: What Price Is Right?

The Indie Writing And Pricing

Dean Wesley Smith addressed a question that has been on my mind: what effect will the recent settlements regarding agency pricing have on the cost of books? DWS says they're going to go up, perhaps way up.
Pricing for customers of electronic books will go up as this settles out over the next few years. Even with stores discounting some titles, ebook prices really can’t do anything else but go up.
Why are book prices going to increase?
... I am being scary simple and general here for the sake of keeping this short and understandable to those who don’t much care.

So now the government has come in and said to the big publishers, “No, no, no. You can’t all agree to do this at the same time.” So now the publishers are being forced to back up and allow retailers to discount what they want, as it always should have been.

In response to that, publishers are raising their “suggested retail prices” expecting retail stores to discount. Some retailers will, some will not.

Some books will be discounted, some won’t. And the amount of discounts by the retailers will vary from moment to moment and book to book and agreement to agreement.

All this is going to cause all kinds of very strange price benchmarks for books. Prices like $10.14 or $12.64 for electronic books. It’s going to have readers who are used to set and standard prices shaking their heads, that’s for sure.

And it’s going to make for some interesting shopping for book buyers, who now can shop around for the best deals. Again, as it always should have been in this capitalistic country.
So what should indie writers price their books at? Here's what DWS recommends:
- Front list, meaning brand new. Over 50,000 words. $7.99
- Shorter front list novels, meaning 30,000 to 50,000 words. $6.99
- Backlist novels, meaning already published by a traditional publisher. $6.99

Short Books
- Short books, meaning stories from 8,000 words to 30,000 words. $3.99

Short Stories
- Short stories … 4,000 to 8,000 words. $2.99
- Short stories under 4,000 double with another bonus story… $2.99

- 5 stories $4.99
- 10 stories $7.99
Dean also suggests, and I agree that this makes good sense, publishing a trade paper edition along with your ebook, even if you don't expect to sell many paper books. Why? Because it shows readers how much less expensive the ebook price is and makes them feel like they're getting a deal--which they are!

You can read the rest of Dean Wesley Smith's article here: The New World of Publishing: Pricing 2013

Other articles you might like:
- Stephen King: How His Novel "Carrie" Changed His Life
- How Do Writers Get Their Ideas? Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin & Stephen King
- Writing Resources
- Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden and the Dresden Files

Photo credit: See-ming Lee

Thursday, September 6

Should You Use A Pen Name?

Should I Use A Pen Name?

When I stared writing, one of the questions I asked was: should I use a pen name? One of the first people I posed this question to was an enormously helpful mid-list author of spicy romance novels. Her response: Don't do it! She had been forced to take a pen name by her traditional publisher who had then used her real name on the first book in her trilogy and her pen name on the subsequent two. The result: lots of emails from fans complaining they couldn't find her books!

In his most recent blog post Dean Wesley Smith gives the pros and cons of using a pen name.

Why use a pen name?

1. Your output exceeds what your publisher can use
If you're a prolific writer and your publisher will only buy two books a year, writing under a pen name allows the creation of another income steam. Dean writes:
At one point, Kris and I were joking around at a conference and actually counted the career income streams coming into our home at that moment in time. We had nine writers’ incomes coming into the house. That was more than we had cats at that point.

Today we have about that many, maybe a few more, but some are not making much, at least not enough to live on. Luckily the pen-name writers don’t eat much.

The key is the same with all aspects of the publishing industry: Diversity and a lot of product. If you have three or four writer’s incomes hitting your house, it’s a ton better and safer than only one. And nine or ten incomes just makes things much easier.
2. You write in multiple genres
It's a good idea to create a pen name for each genre you write in, that way your fans know what to expect when they pick up one of your books. For instance, if you write brooding vampire mysteries under the moniker Alice Darkbody and then go ahead and write a comedic western under that name your goth readers are not going to be happy.

3. You have a day job and don't want to get fired
If you're a medical doctor, or a psychiatrist, or psychologist, or social worker, and so on, your clients may believe you have used them in your book. If anything can help save you a trip to the courthouse, even if you're sure you'll win, it's probably a good idea. (This was a different kind of suit, but it reminds me of what happened with the Hurt Locker.)

4. Your sales numbers go down and your publisher drops you
I've heard countless stories about book sales tanking even when the book is terrific. What do you do then? Start writing under another name! Traditional publishers use what Dean calls "the produce model". He writes:
In traditional publishing, they have to gamble that your book will sell a certain number in a certain amount of time. Remember the produce model? In traditional publishing, your books spoil, so if they paid you too much in comparison to your sales numbers, you can’t sell another book UNDER THAT NAME.
5. To hide your work from your family
Melinda DuChamp, author of the erotic romance Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, writes under a pen name. Here's why: "My mother reads all of my books, and I decided this one was a bit too spicy for her." (That's from the post Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland.) I think that's a great reason! Why make Christmas dinner any more uncomfortable than it has to be? ;)

6. You have the same name as a celebrity
There are lots of folks named Stephen King but only one of them can be published under that name--at least when it comes to works of fiction.

7. You think your book makes Dick and Jane seem intellectually stimulating
Dean writes that if you think your book is awful, publish it under a pen name and let readers decide. Although this advice makes me cringe, I think he's right. (And, of course, Dean has written hundreds of books and knows vastly more about publishing than I do!) I think that we can be our own worst critics. If the book doesn't sell, it doesn't sell. You gained valuable experience writing the book, and no will ever know you wrote it  ... not unless you tell them!

Okay, so, let's say you've decided to write under a pen name. You might have some questions.

- Do you have to keep the name a secret? Only if you want to. If you have a pen name because you don't want your family to find out you write erotica, then secrecy is probably a good idea, otherwise list your pen names on your website so your fans can find your other books.

- Do I have to have separate Twitter accounts, etc., for each of my identities? No! Dean advises setting up a static website for each identity so that your fans have somewhere to go to see what books you've written, how they can get in touch with you, etc., but you don't need to do social media for each identity, especially if the identity isn't secret. Just post the link to your blog and explain that you use a pen name.

- Should I get a separate domain name for each pen name? Yes! The more you use a pen name the higher it will rank in Google, etc., so someone else will buy it if you haven't. It's only about $10 a year, well worth the investment.

Dean's parting advice:
So when deciding about which name to publish a book or story under, think first of your readers.

Then think about your readers some more.

And then decide which name would be best for them. And which name you can live with the rest of your life.

And then have fun.
Sounds about right to me! You can read Dean Wesley Smith's article here: The New World of Publishing: Pen Names

Other articles you might like:
- Stephen King's Latest Book: A Face In The Crowd
- Are You Writing The Right Book? 5 Ways To Find Out
- Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Photo credit:

Friday, August 31

Indie Authors: Don't Give Anyone Ownership Of Your Work

Indie Authors: Don't Give Anyone Ownersip Of Your Work

Over the past few months, like mushrooms after a rain, scammers have sprung up offering to help indie authors publish their work.

These companies charge the moon for everything from editorial services to formatting to custom design work, and then, ON TOP OF THIS, they take a percentage of your royalties! Here's what Dean Wesley Smith has to say about these people:
I can hear the questions. “But I can’t do covers, so shouldn’t it be all right to trade the work on the cover for a percentage of the sales?”


For some strange reason, smart writer after smart writer seems intent on wanting and fighting to give away ownership percentages in their work, both with agents, with traditional publishers, with small presses, and with indie publishing “helpers.”
Some writers "believe it's fine to exchange work for a percentage of their property". It's not.
For example, you have a gardner come to your house to mow your lawn. But instead of money, you decide to give the gardner a percentage ownership in your home.
No one would consider this, so why do we find it so easy to do in the case of our manuscripts?

Companies that “Help” indie publishers.

There are two types of these companies. The Good and The Scam.

You always know The Good company when they never ask for a percentage of your work. The fees are up front for the work you need and stated, not hidden. And you always retain all rights to your work and the money goes directly to your bank account.

They work off of what is called a “menu” of services. They are, for the most part, the good. You decide how much you want to pay up front and either pay it or not.

The Bad company tries to hide any fees from you, tries to get you to give them a percentage, wants to handle your money before it goes to you with every sale, even tries to get you to sign up in their online agreements before you can even look at their site.

Solution: Run!!!!
I checked out a few of these companies because I wanted to find out how egregious their sins were. I found that many of them were up front about the amount of money they charge for services. One company publicly listed publishing packages costing up to--I kid you not--$10,000!

I pretended to be interested in this company's $5,000 package, one which included a website--I used to be a website developer--and asked to see an example site. Folks, these were the plainest, straight out-of-the-box, websites imaginable. The company was using free open source software to create the websites, something anyone with zero skill could do, and it only takes 5 minutes. Most hosting companies will set one of these sites up for free. That's right. For free! AND this company was demanding authors give them a cut of their royalties as well. My gosh! The nerve of some people, it's astonishing.

The Best Case Scenario
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you find a company, a small press, that does a great job with cover art, and formatting, and editing, etc., and let's say they take somewhere between 15% and 50% of your book in lieu of charging you for the services they provide. Here we're talking about a traditional publisher, but a very small one run by one person, sometimes two.

Here's what Dean has to say:
So you sign up with some small press publisher or some agent “publisher” who promises to get your book into electronic print, and then pay you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE PLUS 70 YEARS 15% every month of everything that comes in.

Yeah, that’s going to happen and if you believe it will, I’ve got a very old bridge to sell you.

Imagine your grandkid trying to chase the grandkid of the agent sixty years after you die to get money and you start to see how really silly that idea is.
You all know how difficult it is to stick with something. Writing a book for instance! Your book is important to you, right? You love it (or at least you did in the beginning!) and yet it is so very easy to put down. We say things like, I've been so busy, one of my kids got sick, and so on. And there's nothing wrong with this. Life happens.

Imagine what it's like running a small publishing company in your spare time. The owner/publisher will likely wear more than one hat. They are responsible for acquiring manuscripts (a LOT of reading), negotiating contracts, doing cover art, line editing, formatting and uploading manuscripts and paying authors on time. AND they will probably do all the customer relations. Talk about stress!

How many of these small publishers do you think will still be around in a year? Two years? Five years? Not many. Consider: A medium sized publishing house probably has a few people on staff so if one person needs a break, if life intervenes, then someone else can step in and take over. Generally this isn't so with a small press.

So what happens when a small publisher folds? They've published your ebook and you don't have access to their accounts, and they'll likely have an account on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords just to name a few.

How do you get control of your book? The best case scenario is that the publisher will unpublish your book and send you the artwork they used for your cover along with the electronic file of your manuscript. But even then, because your book was unpublished, all the reviews your book received will be gone. You'll have to start over from square one.

And that's the best case scenario.

So what do you do? Dean writes:
— First, never, ever allow anyone to work for you for a percentage, either of income or ownership.

— Second, start learning how to indie publish your own work. It’s scary at first, but fun after that, and it gives you a sense of intense freedom. That way you can be clear-headed on signing a deal with anyone else.

— Third, make sure every contract you sign has a set date where the exclusive rights return to you. Period. Never sign a contract with a “speed limit” or a dollar figure of sales. Just set a date and if the publisher wants the work after that date, they can negotiate a new deal with you.
That's good advice. And it does get easier with practice. Read the rest of Dean Wesley Smith's article here: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: The Myth of Giving Away 15% Ownership in Your Work.

Other articles you might like:
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?
- John Locke Paid For Book Reviews
- Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Photo credit: marfis75

Thursday, August 23

Dean Wesley Smith: Why I Self Publish

Dean Wesley Smith: Why I Self Publish

Dean Wesley Smith, in an article written for Kirkus reviews, talks about how he became an indie author:
After 100-plus novels through the system, I had decided to pretty much move on. I would finish the last few contracts I had and just fade away, write some short fiction, go play some poker.

Then my wife Kristine walked into my writing office on a fine day in May 2010, laughing. She told me about a $12 payment she had just received from Amazon for two short stories.

The previous fall I had tested the new electronic book world of Amazon with a couple of her short stories and a couple of mine. And then promptly forgot about them.

As Kris stood in my office door laughing about the $12, not in a bad way, but in an astounded way that those two stories had made 12 bucks in one month, I understood finally the new world we had just entered for writers.

For the first time, writers had an option other than traditional publishers, a viable option to reach readers directly, a viable option to make a living with their fiction.
Read the rest of Dean's article here: Dean Wesley Smith: The Self-Publishing Bestseller on ‘How I Did It’

I'm fascinated by tales of why authors start to self publish. Although each person's circumstances are unique each story has the same refrain: a writer wanted an alternative to traditional publishing and they liked having more control over their work.

Other articles you might be interested in:
- Spice Up Your Writing: The Passive Voice & Eliminating Passive Verbs
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer

Thursday, August 9

Indie Writers: 10 Things Not To Do

Indie Writers: What not to do

Dean Wesley Smith continues his two part series listing 10 things indie writers do to shoot themselves in the foot. My post talking about Dean's first five points is here: Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!

6. Don't get hung up promoting your first book, go write another one! 
Sometimes an author will write one or two books and spend most of her time promoting them using social media. Dean writes:
The best way to sell more books is become a better storyteller, to have more product to sell, to work on craft and pacing and cliffhanging and all the thousands of things a professional writer needs.
7. Use different pen names when you write in different genres
Many writers say they don't want to use a pen name because it would take more work to develop two names than one. And of course that's true. But as Dean writes:
Yup, that will kill sales faster than anything I have seen. Why? Because of reader expectations, that’s why. A reader picks up and likes a romance under “Real Name Writer” and then sees another book from the same author name and buys it and it’s a horror novel with ugly guts and blood. Reader says, “I’m not buying anything by that author again.”  And then tells their friends to avoid you.
I see Dean's point, but I think it's probably only a killer in conjunction with a bad cover and a bad blurb. For instance, one of my favorite authors writes two very different series, one is gritty urban fantasy while the other is high fantasy, but it's obvious from the cover alone what genre is under the cover. I haven't bought one of his high fantasy books yet, but I'm still a huge fan of his urban fantasy series.

8. Pricing your work too low
Due to changes Amazon made to their ranking algorithm it no longer pays to sell a book for under $2.99. Sure, offer your book for a reduced price for a limited period to generate sales, but don't keep any of your books at that price.

What price is best for your book? Everyone has a different opinion. Dean thinks the $4.99 to $8.99 range makes sense. He writes:
So if you want to build a long-term career, with fans finding you slowly, over time, who are willing to pay a respectable price for your work, have some respect in your own time and craft. Price your book in the same range as traditional publishers price their works. ($4.99 to $8.99 for most for e-books)
9. Going exclusive 
This issue is hotly debated. Some authors find they sell well over 95% of their books through Amazon so enrolling most of their work in Amazon's KDP Select program--a program which demands exclusivity--seems right for them. Not so for others.

Don't forget about paper books
Many indie authors make the mistake of not putting out paper copies of their work. Dean writes:
[B]y ignoring paper editions, not having them available at least, you ignore 80% of all readers. And also kill a great price comparison on your own books. (I did an entire post on this topic, but say your print book is $15.99, it makes your $7.99 electronic edition look like a deal.)
 Excellent point! And I hear that CreateSpace is easier than ever to use.

10. Hurrying
Take time to practice your craft and stop focusing on sales. Dean writes:
I am not saying you shouldn’t mail your stuff to editors or put your work up electronically and try to make sales. Do put it up, do mail it to editors. I mailed my very first short story to a magazine that bought it. And my second. And after that I got hundreds of rejections before a magazine bought another story from me. If I had been in a hurry, if I didn’t understand at a deep level that learning how to be an internationally-selling fiction writer took time and years, I would have stopped somewhere between 1975 and 1982.

But I didn’t stop. I kept writing and learning and working on becoming a better storyteller. And I kept learning the business, even as it changed.

And now, thirty-seven years later, I’m still writing and still learning and still working to become a better storyteller.

So slow down the worrying about sales, focus on learning, focus on the next story and the next story, and have fun. The sales will come if you put your work out there and keep learning.
These quotations were all taken from Dean Wesley Smith's article: The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time: The Second Foot.

Now that I know what to do if I could just do it! ;)

Hope you've having a great writing day. Cheers!

Other reading:
- Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!
- Kristen Lamb: 5 Steps To Writing Success
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: By theexbrit

Monday, August 6

Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!

If you're approaching cover design for the first time, or your book sales are slumping, here are five ways your cover can help sell your book:

1) BIG Author Name
Make sure people can see your name, even on the thumbnail of your cover.

2) Genre Appropriate Cover
Make sure your cover clearly indicates the genre of the story you've written (e.g., sci-fi, western, romance, and so on). DWS writes:
... [C]overs need to scream genre. For example, I had a book I did called “On Top of the Dead” which was a pure science fiction story with aliens and everything. So what did I do to make sure it didn’t sell?  I put the lower half of a dead body in a street on the cover, making it look like a literary mystery. And, of course, it didn’t sell much. I just redid the cover putting alien spaceships hovering over New York City on the cover instead. Duh…
3) Write A Fantastic Blurb
a. Tell your reader what your story is about
Your readers want to know what your book is about, not about the events in the book itself.

I'm re-watching Lord of the Rings. Everyone knows the tag line for this series: Frodo must overcome countless obstacles to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.

Actually, I just looked it up and here's the official tag line:
An innocent hobbit of The Shire journeys with eight companions to the fires of Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron forever. 

Here's my take on this. What you talk about in your blurb, your tag line, is the goal, what the book(s) is all about. The blurb isn't the place to talk about Frodo's stay at the Prancing Pony, or meeting Bilbo in Rivendell or Gandalf's amazing scene with the Balrog ("Thou shalt not pass!"). No. It is the place to tell your readers what your story is all about. What are the stakes?

That's one point. Another is:

b. Avoid passive verbs
Avoid them in your blurb and in your writing in general. DWS writes:
[W]hen I write a blurb, I ask myself what would make a reader buy this book? But if you use nothing but passive voice, the reader will automatically think your book is dull and never open it to the sample.
4) Use Common Themes
Have all your book covers for a series look similar and have all your book covers in a certain genre look similar. How do you do this?

- Use the same Name/Pen Name. One of my writer friends has one name for the first book in her series and another, a pen name, for the last two. My friend isn't indie published, a traditional publisher insisted she change names in the middle of the series and then didn't re-issue her first book! That is an extreme example, but try and use the same name for all your novels in the same genre so readers can find your books.

- Use the same font. Make the title font the same for all books in a series.

For instance, here are a few covers from Kim Harrison's Hollows series:

The font does differ slightly from book to book, but there is always a young woman on the front cover and you can never quite see her face. The look and feel of the cover is largely the same from book to book and her name is always pominent.

Here are two of the covers from Kim Harrison's paranormal series for teens:

These books are a better example of what DWS is saying. Look at the title fonts, they're identical AND perfect for the genre. Same model, different poses, subtle difference in the background color, but they are both pastels. Most important, the author's name is clearly visible.

5) Professional Look And Feel
Here are DWS's pointers:

a. Fonts: Make sure you can see them easily, which means they should contrast with the background.
b. BIG author name easily readable even in the thumbnail.
c. Small text near the authors name "such as 'Author of (another book title).'"
d. Put your tag line on the front of your book.
Here's an example:

I don't know if that picture is high resolution enough for you to see, but DWS's tag line is, "A Step-by-Step guide to Publishing Your Own Books". Perfect. Now you know what the books is about and why you should buy it. By the way, Dean's book is available on and well worth the read.

e. The cover art must be genre appropriate, must look good as a thumbnail, and go well with the font you've chosen.

All the information in this post comes from Dean Wesley Smith's article, The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time, and is well worth the read.

I'd like to add one more thing. When you're starting to put your cover together, when you're still in the 'getting ideas' stage, look at the covers of other books in your genre, especially those that are like your book. Make a list of 5 or 6. You don't want your cover to be too different from these because you want to tell your readers that if they buy your book that they will get a similar story.

Similar but unique! :p But that's a topic for another post.

I hope you read DWS's article, it's great. He's been doing this for decades and knows what he's talking about.

Cheers and good writing!

Other articles:
- Writers & Blogging: Should You Host Your Own Blog?
- Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog
- How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website

Photo credit: Excellent Book Covers and Paperbacks

Tuesday, June 26

Is 99 Cents Too Low For An Indie Ebook?

I used to think 99 cents was a good price for indie books. Sure, they're worth more than 99 cents but if you want to sell a lot of books then it seemed reasonable to price them affordably, and at 99 cents a lot of folks don't think twice before clicking the "download" button.

Things have changed.

Two things happened. First, Amazon changed its ranking algorithm to favor higher priced books and therefore 99 cent books no longer have the competitive edge they once did. Second, I think the novelty of being able to buy a book for 99 cents has worn off and consumers don't download 99 cent books as readily.

For years Dean Wesley Smith said an author should never price her novel at 99 cents. I now agree with him. Yesterday he posted a comment one of his readers had submitted and I've reproduced a small part of that, below. I think this is a fantastic analogy.
He [an pricing professional] would look at all the short stories and say ‘It takes 15 minutes to read? And it was fun? Okay. charge 5 bucks.” And when writers squawked in horror, he would say “Starbucks sells fancy coffees for $5 that take 15 minutes to drink. They sell millions every day. Did you enjoy the story as much as the coffee? Yes? Well, no problem.”

And the writers would come back with “but there was actual substance in the coffee… cream and coffee beans and sugar…” and the he would respond with “yeah, and if I really like the story, I can read it again. I can’t drink the coffee again. I can lend the story to my friends. I can’t say to my friends, ‘gee you should taste this coffee, it was really good, you can try it when I’m done with it.’

He would tell you that it is not good practice to set anything, no matter how ‘small’, at regular price at the very bottom of the price structure.

The bottom price should be reserved for sales exclusively, and used only in an integrated, strategic way to give you more sales traction and build your brand.

If people said “oh, well I’m new, and I don’t have name recognition so I have to sell cheap to make sales” he’d say, no. Set the price you want to regularly sell at. From that price have sales, or other promotions that give an incentive to the consumer to try your new stuff. You’re telling the consumer that you know they are taking a bit of a risk on a new, unknown quantity, so a price break makes it more appealing. Once they’ve tried your stuff, then they know if the regular price is worth it to them.

You are always educating the consumer as to what your product is worth. The regular price will come to be perceived as its true value. You don’t want to set that too low. You steal from the consumer the thrill of getting a deal, you steal from yourself the flexibility to build and expand your brand appropriately.
Read the rest over at Dean's blog: The New World of Publishing: Book Pricing from Another Perspective.

Related reading:
-The Vandal's 10 Ways To Promote Your Book
- 7 Tips On How To Launch A Book Without Losing Your Mind
- 5 Book Review Blogs

Monday, May 14

Great Writing Blogs

I owe my thanks to a number writers who give up their valuable time to maintain writing blogs that both instruct and inspire. Today, to help celebrate the release of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Bookshelf Muse has declared this Random Act of Kindness Day, where writers (and anyone else!) are encouraged to thank those who have helped them.

This is a great idea, and a wonderful way to launch a book! In that spirit, here are blogs I have found invaluable:

1. Elizabeth Spann Craig (blog: Mystery Writing is Murder)
One of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Spann Craig, not only has a blog chalk full of great advice for writers, she also has an amazing Twitter feed (@elizabethscraig). I love the links she tweets, they both inspire and instruct. I highly recommend her writing.

2. Joe Konrath (blog: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing)
If anyone is the father of the indie publishing movement, it's Joe Konrath. Whether or not you agree with his perspective, his blog posts are timely, instructive and witty. Joe doesn't post as regularly as he used to, but when he does I do a little happy dance.

3. Kristine Kathryn Rusch (blog: Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
I thought I knew a bit about the business of publishing before I starting reading Kristine's blog. It turns out I didn't. Kris Rusch knows the business of writing from the perspective of a writer, an editor and a publisher. For anyone who would like to be a professional writer Kris' blog is a must read.

4. Dean Wesley Smith (blog: Dean Wesley Smith)
This is another great blog on the business of writing. Dean has written a number of series on both writing and publishing that are well worth the read.

5. Passive Guy (blog: The Passive Voice)
Passive Guy is a lawyer who specializes in contract law, especially as it relates to the publishing industry. He has a knack for finding great articles about writing and publishing and, occasionally, talks about what to look out for in contracts -- he calls them gotcha clauses. A must read for anyone seeking to be traditionally published.

These are five blogs among dozens that inform and inspire me every day, I hope they'll inspire you as well. Cheers!

Photo credit: What Orli Did

Thursday, October 6

Experts making mistakes

Amazon had to pull, redo and reload Neal Stephenson’s latest title Reamde after readers complained about numerous errors costing Harper-Collins and Stephenson considerable money and causing bad publicity. Beta testers for JK Rowling’s Pottermore web site were so underwhelmed with it, the opening of it has been pushed back. Reading reviews on Amazon I find numerous books from the Big 6, like Dan Simmons’ classic, Hyperion, getting savaged in eBook reviews because of serious formatting errors.
In his latest article, Bob Mayer talks about Experts making mistakes in publishing. Here's a link to the rest of his article, Reamde, Pottermore, Hyperion and other mistakes from publishing “experts”

I'm excited! Later this month I'm going to be taking a couple of Bob Mayer's classes at the Surrey International Writers' Conference. I attended last year and had a fabulous time. Not only did I meet dozens are people like me -- people I didn't have to explain myself to! -- but I learnt an amazing amount about the art and craft of writing. The keynote speeches alone were worth the price.

Okay, back to my blog post. Although Bob Mayer came at it from a different angle, some of what he wrote reminded me of Dean Wesley Smith's latest blog post: The New World of Publishing: Traditional Publishers Are Getting What They Deserve. Well worth the read.

Sunday, September 18

Dean Wesley Smith: Book Cards Work!

Here's the idea: You have an electronic book to sell but how can you show it to potential customers at, say, a convention? How can a bookstore sell your electronic book? It is stating the obvious, but ebooks aren't like paper books, you can't just hand the book to someone.

Sure, you can direct them to and say, "Well, just search on 'Until Death' ... and maybe add 'Karen Woodward' so you're sure to get the right 'Until Death' ... I mean, who knew certain titles would be so popular! You'll remember all that? Right?"

No. They won't. The solution? Book cards! This is Dean Wesley Smith's idea and I think it's brilliant. I'll let him describe it:

Each “book card” had two parts.

Part one was the plastic gift card the size of a credit card and the same thickness. The cover of the book is printed on one side, the code and instructions on the back. We used these cards alone for a sort of business card as well, since the cards had our web site addresses as well as WMG Publishing website address.

As you can tell from the image up to the left, these credit-card-sized book covers were way cool.
Dean cautions that,
For the next few years, until book cards become more accepted by bookstores, I do not see them being economically viable for an indie publisher to produce for every book for sale. It would take too long to return the printing investment.

But WOW are they great promotion. Worth every penny.

Let me say that again. On special books and for events, book cards are worth every penny.
He closes by saying ...
Honestly, I see book cards becoming a major way for bookstores to sell electronic books in four or five years. It’s going to take traditional publishers to jump onto the idea to make it easier for indie publishers to get book cards into bookstores.

And book cards, packaged like gift cards, have a huge market in major supermarkets and other major retail stores besides bookstores, placed right beside all the other gift cards that have already gotten into those stores.

Electronic books are clearly going to be over 50% of all books sold within five years. This is a way to get those books into reader’s hands and thousands of new markets that paper books are too expensive and large to get into.

And from the author perspective, all I can say is that they are great fun. These are fantastic promotion.

Now it is up to traditional publishers to get this going. Cindie and I gave copies of these to many New York editors and a couple major New York publishers who really, really loved the idea.

First publishers have to train bookstores.

And then bookstores have to train readers that they can buy their electronic books in a regular bookstore.

It will happen.
Read Dean Wesley Smith's entire article here: Book Cards Work.

Wednesday, September 14

You Can Be a Successful Writer Without a Bestseller

To make a living at indie publishing, you must have a decent number of books and stories for sale.
This is the point Dean drives home in his latest blog post: The Money is All in the Numbers. Dean acknowledges that there are people like Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking who have made a huge amount of money off of one or a few books in a relatively short period of time, but these good folks are the exception not the rule. Dean's point: you don't need to write a bestseller to earn a comfortable living as an indie writer.

Dean writes that
I have, at my last count, just over nine million copies of my books in print, yet I have never had any big splash. Just a book here, a book there, and a lot of books selling over decades. And none of that counts any ghost-written novel or indie-published title. (The number would be a ton higher if I counted those.) Just traditional novels through traditional publishers under one of my own names.
Traditional publishers, Dean says, make their money "not so much on sales-per-book ... but on numbers of different titles that are for sale". It is all about control. A publisher can't control whether one of their books will become a best-seller, but they can control how many titles they have for sale. The more titles they have for sale, the more money they will make month after month, year after year.
Some books lose money, some make more than expected. But the hope and goal is that the average over a line of books over a period of time will be around the 4% figure, give or take. If the book line loses money regularly, the editor is eventually fired or the imprint or publishing company is killed. Just business.
If these big publishers were only publishing one book (or even only one hundred books) per month, they sure couldn’t afford the big buildings.

Quantity in numbers of titles is everything.
Here's how all of this applies to indie writers:
Indie-published writers got all the money that publishers used to get for building those huge buildings in New York.  Instead of getting 14.8% on electronic sales (25% of 70% – 15%), that publishers were offering, we got 65-70%. Period. And we could put books on our own web sites for sale and maybe even make 100%.

And even more importantly to us midlist writers: All our backlist suddenly had value again. (This is huge!!!)
On top of that, indie writers have more freedom. Not only can we write what we want but we can also write to the length that's right for the story.
Even if you are a novelist. Remember the one-hundred-thousand word novel was an artificial creation of the publishing industry over the last forty years to justify price increases. Let your stories go natural lengths. You will discover that most novels are fine around fifty-to-seventy-thousand words. Sometimes shorter. Just write the story you want to write.
I have only discussed a few of Dean's points, I would highly recommend that anyone interested in writing or publishing go over to his blog and read his article, The Money is All in the Numbers.

Then, write, and build up that backlist! :-)

Tuesday, September 6

Dean Wesley Smith: The Best Price For Ebooks

Dean Wesley Smith is well-known for his view that the best price for ebooks isn't 99 cents, it's not even $2.99. He believes that, all things being equal, the best price for ebooks is $4.99. He writes:
I did this post originally in November of 2010. And at the end of this post I said that everything was up in the air and I might change my mind in six months on the price structure. Well, nope. In fact, I am more firm on the price structure of $4.99 for novels than I ever was.

And now I have ten more months data on how that structure works and trust me, it works great.

That said, I have zero problem with loss leader pricing, if, and only if, the writer has some other books to advertise. For example, if a writer has a five book series up, it would make great sense to lower the price of the first novel down to $2.99 and maybe do some give-aways as well of that novel.

Everyone has an opinion on this pricing stuff. My focus is what will get readers a fair value and make the writer a working wage at the same time.
Even though I've priced my book, Until Death, at 99 cents, I think that Dean makes a lot of great points. His blog post is well worth the read.

Sunday, September 4

Dean Wesley Smith: The secret of making it as a professional writer

Dean Wesley Smith gives Heinlein's Rules of Writing:
1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Then he said, “The above five rules really have more to do with how to write fiction [...] but they are amazingly hard to follow — which is why there are so few professional writers and so many aspirants, and which is why I am not afraid to give away the racket!

I found these rules and followed them when I got serious about writing in 1982. So did my wife before I knew her. So did so many more of my successful writer friends.

As Heinlein said, the rules are amazingly hard to follow.

And for those of you who are looking for a secret to making it as a professional writer, Heinlein put it right out there in 1947. And it hasn’t changed, unlike most everything else in this business.
Read more of Dean's article here: Heinlein's Business Rules

Friday, July 29

Dean Wesley Smith's Advice to Writers: Self-Publish

Dean Wesley Smith:
- On agents: You don't need one. He writes:
Don’t have one. Period. You don’t need one in indie publishing and if you do have one, just drop back and ask them to do nothing. See how your agent gets through these coming years. In other words, leave them alone.

- On traditional book publishers:
Put on hold unless approached. Or unless you already have a contract.

Stop mailing to them, stop giving your agent anything to sell. Just hold. Don’t pull books or do anything stupid like that. Just hold and finish your contracts.

- On self-publishing/independent publishing:
Go here and go here as quickly as you can.

To sum up:
Avoid agents, hold on traditional publishing until things settle, and move to indie publishing.

Here's the link to DWS's article: The New World of Publishing: Traditional or Indie? What To Do Now? It's well worth the read.

Saturday, July 9

How Do You Know If Your Book Is Good Enough To Be Published?

Here's what Dean Wesley Smith has to say:

1… How many words have you written in fiction since you started trying to write? Mystery Grand Master John D. McDonald used to say that all writers starting out had a million words of crap in them. I started selling stories just short of the million word mark and have sold some of my stories that I wrote between half-million and that first million. However, because of a house fire, I can’t look back on any of the words before that.

But if you have a bunch of stories done, maybe a novel, and have been working at writing for a time, I think you are more than safe to let readers be the judge.

2… Realize that you may have paid your storytelling dues in other areas besides fiction. Say if you have written a couple dozen plays and had a couple produced, your storytelling skills are probably pretty good. If you’ve been a reporter or worked nonfiction. Things like that. Lots of other areas transfer over into fiction writing. In that case you might be writing quality fiction right from the first hundred thousand words.

3… How much are you studying writing to become a better storyteller? If you only have three how-to-write books on your shelf and have never even listened to a professional writer speak at a conference, you may be way ahead of yourself in thinking of publishing.

Publishing and telling stories that readers want to read does take skill and craft and it takes some study to even learn the basics. For example, a couple of the writers who attended this last novel workshop brought first-written novels, and wow were they good. But the key is they had spent a lot of time writing other things and were avid learners, which is why they were here in the first place.

In other words, in short, what I am talking about is a learning period, and the learning must go hand-in-hand with the typing.

It’s called “practice” in any other art. In writing you need to practice as well.

But when in doubt, put the story up and let the readers decide. Writers are always the worst judges of their own work.

And readers who pay money always trump any other source of feedback.

So grow a backbone and trust your work and get it out there, either to a traditional publisher or electronically and POD published.

And, just because it is too good not to quote, here is Dean's advice to beginning writers:

1) Never stop writing and learning. Never think you know it all after a few sales. Never believe you are good enough. Learning in this business never, ever ends.

2) Get rid of the early words, the first hundred thousand words. Then after that keep your work for sale somewhere, either on editor’s desks in New York or self-published or both. You are like an artist with your work hanging in an art gallery or a musician working a small bar. You are practicing and earning from your skill as it grows. It might not be much at first, but if you keep learning and practicing, the sales and the money will come with time.

3) Don’t be in a hurry. This is an international business. You can’t get there overnight. Put your work out for sale one way or another and then focus on the next book. Never look back. Leave the book up and alone.

4) Grow a backbone. Believe in your own art without cutting off the learning. No writing is perfect and maybe a few people out there will think it works just fine and enjoy it. No book is perfect.

5) Never do anything that gets in the way of the writing. Stay away from stupid, time-wasting self-promotion beyond your own web site and social media, and just write the next story and the next book. In other words, be a writer, a person who writes.

6) And most of all, have fun. If you are not having fun while at the same time being scared to death, get off this roller coaster. The ride only gets more extreme and more fun the farther you go along the track.

I would encourage you to read the whole article, here's the link: New York Works as a Quality Filter.

Friday, June 10

Self-Publishing Tips

Here's a great article by Marie Force on how to format a manuscript for Amazon: Self-Publishing Tips for the Uninitiated.

Also, I would like to recommend Zoe Winter's book, Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author. I have read this book and use it now as a reference.

Although not about the nuts and bolts of formatting, etc., Joe Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, is a must read for anyone thinking of independently publishing their work. Not only will it introduce you to other indie authors but Joe gives excellent advice on how to market your book(s).

Although not directly related to self-publishing, Dean Wesley Smith's blog, especially his Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series, contains invaluable information about the business of writing. After reading his blog posts, I'll never think about writing the same way again.

Dean's wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has her own blog where she discusses, among other things, the business of publishing (contracts, etc.)

Another blog I have found a wealthy of information on is The Passive Voice, especially when it comes to anything to do with contracts.

There are many more blogs I want to include here but I need to run or I will be late for my day job! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 8

Dean Wesley Smith Kills Cows

And by cows I mean what he calls "the sacred cows of publishing," so no actual bovines are in danger.

Dean Wesley Smith's latest post is brilliant. I highly recommend it, and his book, "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing," to any writer but especially to new writers like myself.

Here is an excerpt from his post:

Writers, especially newer writers are hungry for set rules.

This business is fluid and crazy most of the time, and the need for security screams out in most of us. So in the early years we writers search for “rules” to follow, shortcuts that will cut down the time involved, secret handshakes that will get us through doors. It is only after a lot of time that professional writers come to realize that the only rules are the ones we put on ourselves.

Writers are people who sit alone in a room and make stuff up. The problem we have is that when we get insecure without rules, we make stuff up as well.

When we don’t understand something, we make something up to explain it. Then when someone comes along with a “this is how you do it” stated like a rule, you jump to the rule like a drowning man reaching for a rope. And when someone else says “Let go of the rope to make it to safety,” you get angry and won’t let go of that first safety line.

In all these chapters that’s what I will be trying to tell tell you to do: Let go of the rope and trust your own talents and knowledge.