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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Points to Consider when Pricing your Book

This is a subject that all writers will ponder over at some point in their writing career and it may seem like the decision doesn't get any easier when it comes to pricing your book. It is one of the most crucial decisions writers face when they're ready to sell their book, and it's common for them to change their minds half a dozen times before they reach their final conclusion.

Writers will consider what price their book should be in order to receive reviews and cover the initial cost it took for the book to be published. Whether this be editing costs or print cost, the writer will want to set a price in order for them to sell as many copies as possible.

Some first time writers fall into the trap of pricing their books too high. People probably won't want to pay $5 for a short story only 5,000 words long. Equally, readers may be suspicious of a specialised non fiction book over 150,000 words long that is only 99c.

So if you're a first time writer who is currently struggling with this question, here are some points you may want to consider.

  • Who are you targeting? Comic readers probably won't want to buy your book if it's specialist non fiction, neither will young adults. However if your book is a comedy short fiction they might be your ideal target audience.
  • How much have you paid to produce this book? If you're publishing an ebook, the cost is minimal because it's free to upload your books on to Amazon and sites like Smashwords. It is most likely your only fee is to your copy editor and cover designer.
  • What length is it? Like I stated above it is not wise to price a short story book at a high cost. People usually price according to traditional length.
  • Where will your book be available from? If you're publishing an ebook you'll probably want to upload your work to B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, and Amazon. But even though you'll have exposure on an international level, the company in question will take a cut.
  • Have you paid any marketing fees? Have you paid for a website, paid for adverts in newspapers or online?
I think it is worth remebering that when you start out as a self published author it seems your tasks are almost impossible. But when you have several books out there to sell, the process is a little easier because you gradually become more established. It's so much harder trying to convince people to buy your book whatever your price if you're completely unknown. But once you have more books to sell then it generally becomes easier.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The First Five Pages - (The Best Writing Guide Ever)

When I was in the middle of my book's first draft, I read a truly inspiring book. This book completely transformed me as a writer, and if I hadn't read it I don't know where I'd be now. The book is called The First Five Pages - A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile.

I saw the book advertised in my monthly writing magazine and I thought that I'd have a look through it. It's written by Noah Lukeman, a New York literary agent. The book's objective is identifying the problems people have with their writing in chronological order - the most serious problems can be found in the first chapters. Lukeman identifies the preliminary problems, such as presentation, adjectives and adverbs, sound, comparison, and style. He then goes on to explore dialogue problems, and in the final part of the book, he explores the elements associated with the overall picture in writing.

In the middle of this book I found the most interesting chapter: Lukeman's take on vocabulary. I have always been aware that words are the life force to writers: without them we would have nothing. Lukeman describes words as writer's tools. He describes not having the best words to use is like a mechanic not having the correct tools. Just by reading those two sentences, I immediately knew what I had to do. For me and Lukeman, being a writer is saying as much as you can in few words possible. Expanding your vocab is the easiest way to do precisely that. Often a few words will say as much, if not more, as a whole paragraph. Writers often describe physical appearance in so much detail. Lukeman says he has read pages upon pages of this kind of detail when the writer could have just said the person looked like John Travolta.

So taking this advice on board, I immediately set about learning as many new words as I possibly could. I bought Roget's thesaurus, and noted down all the words I was unfamiliar with. I looked up the meaning of the words, making sure I cross referenced them as many times as possible. I also looked for them in sentences to get an idea of their context and tone. It took me several months to complete this but it was worth it, I now have all those words to hand.

Lukeman instructs writers to do exactly that. He says that under no terms should any writer use a word they are not absolutely sure of. Only when you know the word inside out, should you use it. Lukeman also warns you to learn the correct pronunciation of the word and if you wouldn't use it in speech, you shouldn't use it in text.

Another excellent point of advice Lukeman gives is the use of specificity. Writers must always train their minds to be exacting. Use exactly the right word for everything. Instead of saying fish swam in the river, say what type of fish they were.

So because I made a conscious effort with the points just talked about, my writing is better for it. Have you got any interesting points you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Book Length - Traditional Print Books and Ebooks

When I started my first book I had no idea how long it would be. I typed out 30,000 words, thinking I had written a lot more and then I decided that because I was publishing an ebook, I shouldn't worry about the length so much - I should just focus on the stories I wanted to tell and finish when I had no more to say.

By the time I had finished my second draft I was just over 60,000 words. When I had it edited this took it down to around 57,300, and I thought this was still a decent number of words to have written. But I soon discovered that if I had wanted to send it out to agents and publishers, the book length would probably have to be expanded. This is one of the main reasons why I love ebooks so much because the length of them doesn't come into the equation.

According to an article I read recently, in the ebook world, 10,000 words or less is a short story. 7,500 to 25,000 is a novelette. 20,000 to 50,000 is a novella. 50,000 to 120,000 is a novel.

So based on these figures my book is considered to be a novel. And yet in traditional print I still feel it would have to be much longer. I suppose books like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter don't inspire you to write anything shorter than 100,000 but at least with ebooks the old saying still rings true: size really does not matter.

I've now just completed over 30,000 words for my next book and this time I shall not worry so much about its final length.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Importance of Passion

Despite the fact that I'm only in my mid twenties, I have had a fair few jobs over the years. I've worked in bars, shops, libraries, hospitals, and I've also had a variety of jobs overseas. But there has only been one job that I have been truly passionate about: writing.

I have always written. Mainly just for fun but my book's readers will know that I kept a diary while travelling Australia, and I did this to keep the memories vivid.

I think most people will agree with me that you always excel in things you are passionate about. You have a constant stream of enthusiasm and feel the urge to keep working on the projects you know you need a rest from. But you're so passionate about whatever it is that you're doing, you never want a break from it because you will miss it too much.

This is how I feel about writing. I do have the occasional day off from time to time because without it, my brain would explode, but I'm never far away from writing for that long. Sometimes I wish I had the passion for other areas of my life as I have with writing because if that were the case, I could probably take over the world! OK... maybe that's a little extreme but you get my point.

I see other people in what I call 'normal' jobs. These people usually work for someone else and they see what they do as just a job that will pay their bills. Their job is just a way of receiving income so they have a house to live in, food in their stomach, and clothes on their back.

But one thing is missing from their life - the ingredient that makes people feel happy: Passion.

If you feel passionate about your job, it's almost inevitable that you'll do well in it. You'll want to put 100% effort in all of the time because you enjoy what you do. People who see their jobs as only being that are more likely to feel lethargic about things. They don't get the same level of enjoyment because they're not passionate about what they do. Of course, there are times when I struggle to write but that doesn't happen often - 95% of the time it's great.

Even if you don't earn a fortune from the job that you do, if you enjoy it then it makes all the difference. I know I'd rather have a low paid job that I loved rather than a high paid job that I hated.

So... what are your thoughts on this matter?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Points to Consider when Online

I read a brilliant post by Tony Elridge last week and its content is something I have been thinking about for the last couple of months. In his article Tony highlighted points to consider when online and I found the post most relevant due to the fact that I spend a proportion of every day on the internet.

As a writer I spend my time online interacting in forums and social media sites with other authors and potential readers. I feel it is important to do this as part of my marketing stragety - building up an audience and making myself a valid member of the writing/book community. Because I interact with people on a world wide scale, I feel it is inevitable that sometimes people are going to be offended by the things I say. I would now like to state that whatever I say is not meant to be intentionally offensive. But due to the cultural differences, religious beliefs, terrorism, and political views, it is natural that some comments I make will cause a stir. This is the main reason I try to stay clear of these subjects whenever possible. And if I do have to state my own opinion I try to make it known to everyone that it is as balanced as I can possibly make it.

Sometimes being attacked for what we say is also inevitable - some people will argue just for the sake of it. But Tony highlighted the points we can take to minimise the risk of offence.

  1. Think before we type. Consider if our message will be read the wrong way by certain people.
  2. Be aware that you'll always have a reaction to controversial  comments.
  3. This point made me laugh because I always think about it: always make sure your audience is appropriate for your marketing message. As an author who writes books with an erotic element to them, the last place I want to advertise is in a primary school.
  4. Be quick to respond to any negative views and apologise for them.
Of course there are some writers in this world who love to be controversial and that is what makes them so popular. But I do think in order to be this way successfully you have to have a strong personality to cope with the negative feedback.

What type of writer are you, do you get high from creating a stir? Please let us know.