Category Archives: Self-Publishing

Help! I Don’t Understand ‘Target Audience’

Readers, I need your help. I’m always after new ways to try and better my writing. To fine-tune it. But there is one term that comes up a lot when reading about the craft of writing and I can never grasp its purpose. I don’t understand “Target Audience.” I understand what it is, I don’t understand the purpose of it. So many websites and books preach that you must know your target audience to be successful.

I know that there is a different in writing for yourself and writing for the industry. I’m a firm believer in writing for yourself. I think you should write the book that you want to write and if someone isn’t happy about it, screw them! Not every person is going to like every book. I’ve read insanely popular bestsellers and hated them. I’ve always read popular books that I love. I read some Stephen King books that I love and some that I can’t force myself to finish because I found them boring. You can’t make everyone happy. So why have a target audience?

Are target audiences wrong?

I feel like so often they are. The Lord of the Rings had a target audience of 9-year-old boys… do you realize how hard that book is to get through as an adult? Regardless, it took the world by storm anyway. So did Harry Potter which had a similar target audience. So why to authors continue determining their target audience?

Who is my target audience?

Anyone who wants to read…? At least that’s always been my answer.

I would love for everyone to post in the comments below, their thoughts on the term “target audience.” Do you understand it? Are you like me and feel like you’re missing a point? I feel like I’m missing some bigger picture or perhaps I’m just looking at it from the wrong perspective. Please let me know.

-RB

 

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

A Call to Action: Free Stories for Reviews

Hello readers! Today’s post will be short and sweet. As a writer, I both have confidence in my ability to write but also think my work is crappy at the same time. As odd and contradictory as that sounds, it seems to be pretty common among writers. In past years I have confidently published short reads to Amazon, only to lose faith quickly and take them down a month later. Luckily, Amazon allowed me the freedom to do that.

Though taking them down may have hindered me more than helped me. Instead of keeping my neck out there, I pulled it back like a turtle, to protect myself. After all, when creating anything and showing it to the public, it’s sort of like baring your soul to the world. It can be embarrassing. It can be unnerving. No one likes to be judged. Yet, that’s what we long for. We long for opinions of our readers to drive us forward, to tell us where we could improve or to tell us they loved it. We even long for them to tell us they hated it as long as they tell us why.

But the world is not always so kind.

A very small percentage of readers actually leave reviews. And many negative reviews can be written in such a way that it keeps the creator from trying to ever create anything every again. In a recent tumblr post I came across, I saw one of the best things I’ve ever read about writing reviews. Here is the screenshot:

As a writer, I have definitely experienced this in the past. I think we all have. Those kinds of reviews give us what I’ve heard referred to as “art scars” or “creativity scars.” However, that is not what I’ve come here to talk to you about today.

A Call to Action

In the past few days I have revisited and revised my dusty GoodReads account. I noticed that two of the short reads that I had published and then unpublished had received ratings. Positive ratings. It was only one or two but it was enough of a push in the right direction to prompt me to re-publish them. I thought, “We are often our own worst critics. I may not think it’s my best work and it probably isn’t…but someone liked it. Someone got value or entertainment from it and that is all that matters.”

Dear readers, I ask of you a favor. This weekend I have three of my short stories taking part in a free book promo with Amazon Kindle which means that they are free to download and read. Two of them will be free from today until Tuesday of next week.

The other will be free from tomorrow (Saturday) until Wednesday of next week. I ask that should you wish to download them for free, that you please leave a review. After all, reviews help writers sell more books and stories.

I will also be publishing a 100% new, never before published short story this weekend. So please be on the lookout for it! You will be able to see it as soon as it’s published from my Author Central Page. Thank you for being readers!

Happy Reading!

-RB

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

The French Scene: How to Break Your Fiction Into Smaller Bites

No. A french scene is not when one character sticks their tongue into another character’s mouth during the scene. It was a term we used in the theater department to break a play into more manageable parts. Allow me to explain.

Having been a theater major in college as opposed to an English major, has given me a different outlook on writing fiction. I’m not sure what all goes on in those fiction-writing classes but I’ve never heard an English major (or any other writer for that matter) talk about French Scenes. Nor have I heard them mention Triggers, Heaps and Beats but that is another blog post! Studying fiction from an acting and directing perspective, has broadened my understanding of storytelling. In the end, I think English majors could learn a thing or two from us theater folk especially when it comes to writing dialogue.

Now I’m not a master of the craft (who is?) But I’ve noticed that when writing a first draft or editing later drafts that larger chunks of work can be overwhelming. It’s daunting – looking at a 7,000 word chapter and knowing you need to break that shit down. So I’d like to introduce to you the concept of a French Scene.

What is a French Scene?

By definition, “A “French scene” is a scene in which the beginning and end are marked by a change in the presence of characters onstage, rather than by the lights going up or down or the set being changed.-Wikipedia

So basically, anytime a character enters or leaves a scene. You may have some french scenes which consist of three lines of dialogue, and some which last more than a page. Granted, this doesn’t work for every work of fiction. In Emma Donoghue’s Room, a large part of the story consists of dialogue between Ma and Jack. The french scenes for this work would be very long. However, there are other ways to break up chunks of fiction.

Some elect to edit page by page or even break their editing up into paragraph by paragraph. I find that when I edit this way, my fiction is clunkier and doesn’t flow as well. Instead, treat each new thought or topic of conversation as a character entering or leaving the scene. This way, you’d still be utilizing the french scene method.

What is the Function of a French Scene?

I first came across the term during a Stage Management class during my sophomore year of college. It was one of the most fascinating and influential classes I took during my college career. The stage manager, much like the author of a novel, is the god of the play’s production. They keep track of EVERYTHING for that production from the stage lighting cues in the script to each actor’s audition papers.

There is even a specific short-hand language and way of writing that we had to learn so that should something happen to the stage manager during a production, someone else can easily replace them. Seriously, we had an entire assignment on the quickest way to hand write (with instructions on how to write every letter of the alphabet, capitalized and lower case) in the least amount of pen strokes.

Please let me know in the comments below how you break down your fiction. You never know when your pearl of wisdom just might help the next greatest writer tackle their work.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about stage production, Angela Mitchell has a fantastic series of blog posts on the topic. I highly recommend checking out her work.

#NaNoWriMoBlogChallange #NaNoBloCha
NaNo Challenge for the day:

It’s July 4th. Blow something up. It’s what our Founding Fathers would have wanted. ‘Merica!

Blog Art made with Canva

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

I’m Writing a Novella, Damn It!

I’ve had it with people telling me to write a novel instead of a novella. Why do I put up with writing advice from people who aren’t writers?

I’ve spent my writing career trying to stretch my stories into something that they’re not… Going against my own rule. Often, I tell others, “A story is a story. You shouldn’t worry about length. If it’s meant to be a short story, it will be. If it’s meant to be a novel, it will be. Don’t stretch it into something it’s not, and don’t cut it short when there needs to be more.”

But here I’ve been, going against my own mantra, trying to stretch my own novellas into full-length novels. A lot of the guys I know at work (who don’t even read books, mind you, let alone write them), constantly ask me, “Why don’t you just add ten thousand words?” As if it’s the easiest thing in the world…

OR

“Just add stuff. You’re a writer. Make something up! It’s what you do, isn’t it? Make stuff up?” Easier said than done. Sure, I may have a myriad of ideas but that doesn’t mean that any of them belong together. “Why can’t you just make it longer? Why?

OR

And this is my personal favorite…drum roll, please. “What is a novella?” As if that question doesn’t get old…

What is a novella!? Are you kidding me? Have you not graduated high school English? A novella… you know, like those books you read in school…  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Time Machine by HG Wells, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (F@#$!ng hate that book), Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury… any of these ring a f@#$!ng bell? All of them are novellas! I don’t actually say this to their faces but I’m thinking it in my head while I’m explaining to them what a novella is.

The other night, I worked on my Facebook Author page and this blog. I took a good hard look at the projects I have in the works. Most of them would make good novellas and with the new platform of being able to self-publish, novellas are making a comeback.


Check out my first novella, Laszlo: The Chronicles of Noelle 1. Don’t have a Kindle and don’t want the paperback version? No sweat! It’s also available on other digital platforms such as the Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd and more.


The short novel faded out of popularity for a while. It wasn’t that readers didn’t like them but rather, publishers didn’t like them. They cost too much to make and didn’t earn a high profit. Publishers would much rather print a book and charge $20 than print a novella and only charge $10. A novella makes a profit but it didn’t make as much profit so Publishers stopped taking them. However, now CreateSpace, Amazon and other online publishers run the literary world.

Is there a market out there for novellas? I have no idea. The internet tells me there is, so I’m inclined to believe it is so (but please don’t believe everything you read on the internet!).

I’m writing novellas because it’s what I want to write.

In the hectic 21st century, a lot of people don’t have time to read the big doorstop books. Even I, who am grown fond of reading, don’t like those big ass books. I don’t have time to read a novel that’s going to take me 5 months to get through. And I’m a fast reader. I want something that I can get through in a month or less. Sometimes I read a book and it only takes a day. Sometimes I read a book and it takes two weeks. That’s my kind of pace.

So that’s it. No more negotiating. No more arguing with myself or my friends and co-workers, who know nothing about writing. I’m going to write novellas. I’m going to write a ton of them. And I’m going to be happy about it. One day, when the world gets around to it and realizes that the novella is back, I will have published 20 of them. People will say, “Oh my gosh! Where the hell did this chick come from? She’s got a ton of novellas! And she was publishing them back when it was uncool.”

If I come across a story that wants to be a novel, fine. I have a few that are going to be a series, so in the end, when the series is complete, I may combine them all into one large door-stopping tome. This way the nitpicky readers who need a book that takes five years to read can have it their way.

I wrote this blog post because I realized that this is one of my blocks. This is one of those (or several of those) voices in my head that shout and jeer along with my inner editor (the bastard!) and tell me, “You can’t do this writing thing!” I would say that all writers have that voice but really, all human beings have that voice. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and for some reason ashamed to admit it.

At first, I thought it was the people I worked around or the area I lived in but as it turns out, there are writers across the globe who receive that kind of unhelpful advice from non-writers. It’s advice that wasn’t even asked for. Even if you’re not artsy in the slightest, we’ve all received that unsolicited advice.

Keep in mind that while it’s important to have a readership and an audience, there is one person you have to write for above all others- one person you truly need to please to find peace- and that person is yourself. If you have no passion for what you’re writing, or you’ve lost the passion, take a step back and a good look at why. For me, this was it. Writing had gone from fun and play to grueling, unsatisfying work. Don’t get me wrong, writing IS hard work! But I had reached a point where I was forcing my projects down holes they weren’t meant to go. Enforcement caused me to lose passion and I had to take a step back.

Think a novella might be right up your alley but not sure where to get started?

There are plenty of books out there on how to structure novels or how to pace a short story but not too many focus on the novella format. However, much like a short story, you CAN write a novella in one day. Yes, I said it. It bears repeating. It is possible to write a novella in as little as a day. Granted, it may take more time to edit. If you’d like guidance, I highly recommend Andrew Mayne’s book How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours: And other questionable & possibly insane advice on creativity for writers. I find that reading about writing and hearing another author’s advice to be uplifting, motivational and inspiring. I hope that you will as well! Otherwise, why are you reading this post?

Lastly, if you enjoy writing, if you have a passion for your story, it makes the craft easier. Don’t let others tell you what your story should or should not be. You, the writer, know best. It may sound contradictory to now add that one should always be open to growth and constructive criticism. Always remember, writing is a craft that no one masters. Language is ever-evolving. Never stop learning.

Happy Writing!

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

How to Price Your Fiction E-book

Let’s talk about this ongoing game of e-book pricing. It can be tricky. Whether you’re new to the scene or you’ve been publishing for a while, pricing your book is not easy especially when you’re a self-published author. If people have never heard of you, chances are they’re not going to spend $15 on work they’re not sure they’re going to like. However, making your book free or setting it at a very low price undermines your work. Honestly, as a reader, when I see something for $0.99 or for free, I think, “Well this person has no faith in their writing and it’s probably of poor quality.”

This may not always be the case. Some people set a book’s price for free to get reviews. Some make their books cheap as part of an Amazon Promotional Deal like a Free Book Promo or the Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal.

If you are self-published and you haven’t found a good price point yet I suggest mixing it up. Keep length in mind. I’m not going to sell a short story for $5. I tend to keep my short stories at $0.99. This way if someone wants to sample my work, all they have to do is pay a dollar. If it isn’t for them or they think my writing sucks then they won’t be terribly upset over spending $0.99.

I also keep my short stories enrolled in the exclusive Amazon Kindle program called KDP Select. This is because with short stories that only make $0.35 per sale at a $0.99 markup aren’t going to bring in major money so I don’t see the value of putting them on other platforms. I’m still learning and scouting the field myself in this ever-changing economy. A few years from now, I may decide else wise.


A Word on Exclusivity

As far as exclusivity goes, I think it’s important to not put all of your eggs in one basket. If you only sell your books through Amazon Kindle and suddenly the shit hits the fan with Amazon, then where does that leave you? For my longer works (novellas and novels)- I make them available through other venues.

Check out my first novella, Laszlo: The Chronicles of Noelle 1 on iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo and more!

My debut novel, In Articulo Mortis (Mortis Volume 1), will be available in 2018 across all platforms!


You will find tons of blogs and forums and articles online with other authors giving you suggestions on how to price your book. Keep in mind that just like this post, they are merely suggestions. Keep an open mind, try new things and mess around with the prices to see what works best for you. If you’re self-published, you have the freedom to change the price at will. I recommend giving your price points at least six months of sales before you change them.

My Pricing Guidelines
Short Stories

My short stories range from 2,500-10,000 words. Because they are so small, I always set the price point at $0.99. In my opinion, making them free is insulting. While they may be small stories, they still took time and effort to create. You’ll come across many people who are only interested in your work when they can get it for free. Those are called shitty people. Some of them are likely to rub the “starving artist” stereotype in your face. To them, a writer is either a millionaire who hits it big or someone who pinches pennies and struggles. Heaven forbid there be a realistic middle ground.

Novellas

You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t know what a novella is. Mine range from 15,000-40,000 words. I keep the price point for these at $2.99. This is the lowest price point at which you can receive a 70% royalty on Amazon. I also don’t keep these exclusive to Amazon. My novellas are additionally published through Smashwords and CreateSpace Distributors. This way they are available to other markets across the world. Amazon is only popular in certain countries like America and Canada. Being exclusive to Amazon can limit your audience. Keep that in mind.

Some of you may think, “$2.99! Gosh, that seems really low.” I’m still a very new author as I’ve only been publishing for two years.

Novels

For novels, I can’t see myself going over $4.99, at least not for the digital versions. I’d suggest keeping novels under $5 when first starting. People don’t know you and they’re not going to spend $20 if they don’t know who you are and if they’re going to like you. With all of the competition out there, it’s important to keep your price reasonable but don’t underestimate your worth.


Another Note on Free Stuff

So many people in this day and age expect something for free.

Writing is a job.

If you want to make money off of it, you’re going to have to get used to asking people to pay for your product. It’s a common annoyance amongst artists of all types when people ask if they can have their work for free. The same thing goes for painters and musicians. Art requires dedication, patience, time and, believe it or not, skill.

Creative writing is not easy- if it were, everyone would do it. While it may seem like everyone is, everyone’s not. I know a lot of people online who are writers but I don’t know hardly anyone in real life who is a writer. Maybe two people off of the top of my head. You know why this is? Because it’s not easy.

Some people fall into this “get rich quick” fantasy but that’s not the writer’s life. Most experienced writers will tell you that writing is a long, solitary road. Yes, you can hit it right. Yes, you can make a living from it. Please don’t mistake this post as some sort of effort to discourage you from writing. If you feel like you have something to deliver, please deliver it. Don’t let anyone stop you. But at the same time, don’t let anyone undermine your work. Writing is hard.

In short, play around with your prices. Be fair, but don’t be unfair to yourself. You worked hard on this. You probably paid for someone to make the cover art and edit your work and so if anything charge at least $0.99. Good luck to all of you out there! I wish you all the best. Happy writing.

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.