Tag Archives: writing

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 2019 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-$3.99. 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.

Photo Art: © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com

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9 Ways to Increase Productivity as a Writer

If you know me at all, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. When I have down time at work, I’m running through my list of things to do in my head and determining the most efficient way to get them done. And I love lists! Here are some of the things I do to stay on target and up to par. Do I stick to them like a religion? No. I’m always trying new things but I do hope to one day become a creature of habit. A lean, mean to-do list knocking out machine! So without much further ado, here are my top 9 ways (sorry I don’t have a top 10…deal with it) to increase productivity and stay productive!

1. Have a Plan

In general, having a mode of attack is a good idea. Have a plan. Be organized and take notes. It is so important to know what you’re doing before you start doing it. I get it. Sometimes it’s nice to just get in the car and drive wherever the road takes you but nine times out of ten, you’ve got a destination in mind or a route planned.

A lot of us are pantsers and if you’re like me you’re kind of in between a pantser and a plotter. But when I sit down to write I always have an idea in mind as to what I’m going to write about. This makes my writing so much easier and less painful. On days when I have no plan and I just sit in front of the computer staring at an empty space (or an empty MS Word document) it’s very heartbreaking.

It’s discouraging. It’s depressing. I think that’s part of what gets a lot of writers down. I’ve read that the key to being prolific and producing more in a smaller amount of time, you’re going to need to have some idea- some game plan- laid out. I’m still working on the prolific part myself, don’t worry! We’ll get there one day.

You don’t have to know all the details but it definitely helps.

2. Take Breaks

This may sound counterproductive but it’s true. Take breaks. Sitting for 8 hours in front of a computer without any breaks is like suicide. It can put a strain on your eyes (think of the amount of time the average human being spends looking at a screen every day in 2017), and it’s not ergonomically smart. Use the bathroom, get a snack, get fresh air, stretch… do anything just don’t start playing a video game because then a 10-minute break will turn into the rest of the day and you won’t get any work done.

3. Write by Timer

Simple. Set a timer. This really helps for me. There are many different ways in which you can implement this one.

There’s a program called Write or Die where you set a timer and a punishment. Yes, you read that correctly. The punishment maybe an annoying sound or your words may get deleted if you stop writing. It’s actually pretty cool. I highly recommend Write or Die (know known as Write or Die 2). It’s free and you can also use “reward” mode or “stimulus” mode now, instead of setting punishments. There is a desktop version available for $20. You can find it here.

There are also sites like Write Monkey or Written? Kitten!

Written? Kitten! will show you a picture of a kitten when you reach your word goal and Write Monkey takes away all distractions so all you have is a screen to write on.

Lastly, there’s the Pomodoro method. This is one of my personal favorites. It’s called “Pomodoro” because the man who came up with this method had a kitchen timer that was in the shape of a tomato and Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. The man would set the timer for 20 minutes and do whatever he had to do. Then you can set the timer for ten minutes and take a break. Once the buzzer goes off again you know it’s time to get back to work for another 15 or 20 minutes. This is especially useful is you’re participating in the NaNo Word Sprints during November, April or July. It’s a great way to boost your word count during the write-a-thons.

4. Get Some Sleep

It’s very important if you want to be in your best mental and creative state, to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of your health just to get your book done. Yes, there will be sacrifices. You may have to give up a social life but don’t sacrifice your health.

5. Exercise

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. If I’m exercising, I can’t be writing. How is that productive? But it’s true. Exercise is a form of meditation. It can help clear your mind and get all of that excess and mental clutter out of the way. Have you ever worked out and found that an issue you were thinking about all day long suddenly became clear- a problem suddenly had a solution and everything seemed easy? That’s what exercise and meditation does and I highly recommend it.

6. Get Rid of Distractions

I wrote a whole post on this and I’ll provide a link to it here. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a workspace that has a ton of distractions. Set yourself up for success by limiting the things that can take up your time when you’re supposed to be writing. Point in fact, this is why I became a minimalist. I was spending valuable writing time cleaning and organizing. When I simply owned less stuff, I had more time and less distractions. Win.

Check out my blog post on Staying Focused and Eliminating Distractions.

7. Tell Other People

Tell other people. Now if you’re anything like me, you hate talking about your writing. I don’t like talking about whether I think it’s good or not. I don’t know why. I love my writing. I love my stories and characters but I hate talking about it. My man and I have had heated discussions and yes, even fights over my writing. However, he holds me highly accountable and promises me things like trips to London…

Also, sharing on social media that I’m writing a novel or editing a novel or writing a short story creates accountability. Depending on how many friends or followers you have, that many people are going to hold you accountable.

8. Get Up Early

I know, I know. I just told you to exercise and now I’m telling you to wake up earlier…after I told you to get sleep which means going to bed sooner. Did I mention that writing requires sacrifice? I’m not a morning person either. But I will say that lately I have found myself waking up earlier and earlier, inspired to get to work and be productive.

They say that there is a huge difference in the mental states of a rich person and a poor person. Wealthy and successful people wake up 3 hours before work starts. Oh my goodness! Right now I’m working from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. so I’m already having trouble rolling out of bed early. Waking up at 3 in the morning just seems ludicrous.

I’m so used to waking up early during the week that my weekends tend to start no later than 6 a.m. and that makes for at least two productive days if I slipped up during the week.

9. Don’t Multitask!

I have so many writing ideas. I don’t mean to brag. Some writers struggle with where to find ideas but I have so many that I want to write about- so many that I’m in love with. The problem? I tried to divide my energy and focus across all of the projects and that slows me down. (Sometimes I am still guilty of this!)

You want to set one specific goal and stick to it. Put all of your energy and focus on that goal because when your energy is divided and scattered you’re not on top of your game. So if you’re trying to work on five books, or three books and a short story and a novella… STOP. At times, it’s preferable when you get tired of one project, to have the option of spending some time with another one. This I can stand behind but please save yourself the struggle and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Having 5+ projects going on at one time can be a huge mistake. It doesn’t work for me at all because I lose sight of focus, storyline, theme, and character motivation. Everything becomes jumbled and it makes the editing process more grueling.

For further reading, I highly recommend David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. There are hundreds of books out there on productivity. I’ve read quite a few but nothing got to me quite like David’s. If you read anything on productivity, please give this one a try!

I hope this helped at least one person and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions,  please leave them in the comment box below. Happy writing.

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The Story Determines Its Own Length

Some writers will tear their hair out over story length. I was sitting in my One-Act Play class during junior year of college discussing the instructions on writing a paper with my classmates. I don’t recall what the paper was about but I remember our professor telling us it needed to be double-spaced, 12 pt font, Times News Roman, and all that jazz. She also told us about all of the points we needed to cover but one thing she didn’t address was the length of the paper.

Normally, teachers and professors will tell you that your paper needs to be one page, or three to five paragraphs, or fourteen pages single-spaced. They always dictate some sort of length. I wasn’t alone. Everyone else in the class was a little perplexed because we’re so used to being told how long something needs to be. So we asked the professor how long she wanted our essays to be?

She said, “Just answer the questions.”

Our minds were blown. Just answer the questions? That had never been told to us before. Even though I did not particularly care for this professor, she taught me a very valuable lesson in that moment. When it comes to writing stories and trying to write novels, so many people are bound and determined to reach that 60,000-word goal or that 80,000-word goal and certain stories aren’t meant to be that long.

When I wrote Laszlo, it ended up being about 40,000 words. I felt like that length allowed me to tell the story. But often people who don’t write ask me, “why didn’t you throw in an extra 10,000 words?” “You came this far. Just make it a novel!” “Why don’t you beef it up?” They are very annoying questions to answer. Non-writers don’t understand and no amount of explaining seems to help them.

Certain stories have a certain length. That’s just the way it is.

If a story was only meant to be 2,000 words, then beefing it up to be a 50,000-word novel (by putting a bunch of random crap in there) weakens it. “More” doesn’t always mean “better.” Turning a short story into a novel could turn a brilliant tale into a pile of drivel. On the other hand, taking a story that should be fleshed out to 100,000 words and only writing 30,000 doesn’t let the story really express itself. I know that to non-writers that sounds like a stupid statement. But it’s true. The only thing a story really has to do it tell

The only thing a story really has to do it tell its tale. Period. It doesn’t have to make you laugh. It doesn’t have to make you cry. And it doesn’t have to make you think, feel or care. In some cases, stories don’t even make sense. I’ve read short stories that ended abruptly and seemed to have no point. I’ve watched long movies that ended on odd notes and left me confused and unsatisfied. Perhaps it wasn’t as long as it should have been? Or perhaps it would have been stronger if it were more concise? Forcing a story into a mold that it doesn’t fit only makes matters worse. Let the story determine it’s own length. You’ll know when to stop adding brush strokes to the painting.

So the bottom line is, don’t fret if that story that you wanted to be 20,000 words ends up being 60,000 words or if the story you wanted to be 50,000 words ends up being 10,000. Never fear.

Happy Writing!

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Fears and Anxieties About a Writing Career

It may seem silly to have fears and anxieties over a dream that you have had your whole life, but it’s true… we all have them. We may not realize that we have them. But let me tell you, they are there and they are real. They lurk in the darkest recesses waiting for the most inopportune moments to pounce. The best weapon I’ve found to use against them, it simply to be aware of their existence. Acknowledge the fear, accept that it’s there and that’s usually half of the battle.

Have you ever really looked at the face of a spider? I mean REALLY looked? Chances are, you haven’t. Let’s just say when you start to magnify a spider’s face…it isn’t quite as scary as it once was. I use them as an example because I’m not the biggest fan of them myself but once you look at the creature for what it truly is- it isn’t so scary. Use the same tactic with your fears. Acknowledge them, look at them, examine their inner workings and you’ll find that most of them are irrational, highly improbable or not that extreme.

So this is me, taking a good hard look at my fears and anxieties of being a writer.

What if I’m not successful?

The first thought was, ‘what if I’m not successful?’ I’ve dreamed about being a writer my whole life. Well, I take that back. I did write as a kid but I didn’t realize I wanted to do it for a living until the later years of my high school career. That was a huge wake-up call for me. Before that, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a little bit of everything. So to say it’s been a dream my whole life is probably not true even though it was something I’ve done my whole life.

So what if I’m not successful? I’ve only spent over a decade chasing a dream. Okay…Yea, it’s a little scary but with enough hard work, commitment and dedication, anything can happen. Besides, people have varying definitions of success. Am I looking to be a millionaire? No. I’d love to replace my day job with income from my writing. Being a successful writer to me would mean earning enough to travel as I please and live comfortably. I’m not looking to build my own Trump Tower.

Specifying exactly what I want my “successful” writer’s life to look like, helps take that ‘improbability’ factor out of the run. And now, not being successful isn’t an option. Success is only a matter of time.

What if people hate my writing?

Well, you can’t make everyone happy. Too many of us try to spend our lives making other people happy.  It sounds like a great and noble thing but the point is- it’s your life and you need to make yourself happy first.

Don’t constantly worry about what other people do, think or say about you. There are over six billion people on the planet there’s bound to be at least one that doesn’t like you and there’s also bound to be at least one who does. There’s a healthy balance. Haters are going to hate. Don’t take everything they say to heart. Most times, they are just jealous of you anyway. Even JK Rowling had haters.

What if I really suck?

You’re never going to be a master of writing. It is a craft that we all work so hard at but no one perfects it. There’s always going to be mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them. And when you do make them, learn from them. So what if my writing really does suck? I think we all have this thought in the back of our minds even if we really like writing and have faith in ourselves. Sometimes there are doubts. I think that’s natural… even if it does sound like an oxymoron.

I’ve had people read my work before and while they had constructive criticism most people really liked it. I’ve never had anyone tell me that my writing sucked except one guy who was really upset with me because he thought I was pretty and I thought he was annoying. So I think it’s safe to say that his opinion may have been a little biased against me.

Don’t be afraid to advertise some of your work. I started getting serious about my writing when I found fanfiction. That probably also sounds like an oxymoron. But when I discovered fanfiction that’s when I decided I wanted to write for life. There’s also something called fictionpress.org. You can put your own custom stories up there for free. You won’t get paid or anything but people can give you reviews and feedback chapter by chapter.

There’s also free sites like WordPress and Wattpad where you can either sell your work or post it for free. Also, Smashwords and Amazon have made it very easy to get your work out there to make money. Some people still choose to put their work out there for free. That’s a personal choice. It’s not something I agree with but I respect other authors’ decisions on how to sell their work. It’s not my business to tell them what to do, I can only make suggestions.

So now we have the other side of the spectrum. What about the fears and anxieties about being successful?

It sounds silly. Can we say oxymoron again? How can you be fearful and anxious about being successful? We all have this underlying fear and we probably don’t even realize it.

What if I’m successful?

What if I get a ton of money and I am unable to manage it? They say that lottery winners go downhill fast. They fall into bankruptcy because they don’t know how to manage their money and they spend, spend, spend. What if I can’t manage my money? What if I lose it all? Or better yet what if someone tries to take it from me?

There will be unwanted attention. I don’t think writers have it nearly as bad as movie stars and musical artists. Obviously. But you’re still going to be in the limelight a little more and a lot of writers are introverts. They don’t like a lot of attention. What if they want to stick me in front of a camera all the time?

Also, there will always be creeps. Whether you’re a writer or not, there’s going to be creepy people, stalkers, and harassers. We’ve all experienced these people at some point in our lives. Don’t let them bring you down…

Which brings us to…

There’s going to be those that try and seek to bring you down. The DaVinci Code wasn’t my most favorite novel but it was a page-turner. Did you see all the crap Dan Brown went through? How he was going against the church and all that shit? Kind of makes you wonder if they were hiding something… Even though he had a best-seller, there were those who sought to bring him down.

To mention JK Rowling again, there’s a lot of people out there who refuse to watch Harry Potter because “it’s about witchcraft and the devil” and their religion just doesn’t condone it…(even though it’s actually not about those things). It’s actually about racism. It’s WWII, set in modern times, with magic. There are two examples of people trying to tear down popular works. Not every story will please every person. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games but a lot of people don’t like the series because it’s dark, barbaric and there are children killing each other. To each his own.

On another note, we live in a very PC world and I am not the best at being a PC person. What if something I say is taken out of context and misconstrued by the media and I sound like a horrible person? Again, I think this is more prone to happen to actors and musicians but writers too if they become successful. Bottom line is anyone who believes everything the media tells them is an idiot and those people aren’t worth your time or energy anyway. Someone who is worth your time, won’t just believe things because someone else told them about it. They will want to experience it for themselves. And always remember, if you get bombarded by internet trolls over something stupid…internet trolls have nothing better to do.

Lastly, what if I quit my day job and then I never leave the house? What if the money stops? My day job provides a source of ideas for characters and story lines. What if I become a cat lady even though I prefer dogs does that mean I’ll be a dog lady just sitting at home with the dogs? What if I can’t keep it up? What if I have 5 good years and then all the sudden I can’t do it anymore? These are all legit fears. Perhaps some of you can identify with them. Perhaps you can’t. Regardless, I think it’s imperative that we get them out in the open. Suddenly, they seem so minuscule.

I hope this helps at least one person and lets some writers know that you’re not alone. Even though writing is a solitary path… it’s hard work, there’s a lot of sacrifices to be made, but you’re not alone.

Happy writing.

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Let Your Genre Pick You

So you’ve got an idea for a story but you’re fretting over what genre or category you’re going to put it in when it’s ready for sale. Or maybe you’re just starting out as a writer and you want to build your platform and marketing base before you write anything…STOP. Don’t worry yourself over literary labels. First, focus on writing your story, THEN worry about marketing and building a platform.

People say that you need to know your genre before you start because you need to know your target audience. (By the way, I totally don’t get the target audience thing…as a writer, my target audience is anyone who can read.) Write the damn story. Don’t worry about if that grumpy guy you work with will finally be impressed or if that chick on the fourth floor of your apartment building will disapprove. Yes, your audience is important but I think it’s total bullshit to try and target some sort of generalized stereotype…especially when you’re just starting out and you want anyone to read your book.

So, I wanted to write a novel in the fantasy genre…but Horror came out?

Story of my life. When I first started writing, I wanted to be a fantasy author- strictly fantasy. I wanted to write about magic, sorcerers, and evil queens. However, all of the ideas I got were dark. Some of them may have seemed like love stories at first, but then they always turned dark. I had no interest in the horror genre and tried to fight it. Don’t do that.

Embrace what comes to you naturally. If you start writing what you intend to be sci-fi but it turns western, go with it. See where it takes you. Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?

Even now, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I sat down to write what I thought would be a fantasy novel about self-discovery and a rite of passage with a love story intertwined but do you know what happened? It turned completely dark. The fantastical elements are more pronounced and I don’t even think a love story still exists! And I’m fine with that. I’m not going to force the ebb and flow of creativity a certain way (another writer in a Facebook group suggested that we should…because we are writers and therefore gods or something… I don’t know. They spoke about how we’re supposed to control everything. I think they had issues).

Ok. I went with the flow, finished and edited my piece. Now what?

With your short story or novel being completed, it should be much easier to decipher which genre your writing leans towards. Yet, have you seen your Netflix genres lately? There’s action, there’s drama, there’s supernatural horror thriller with science fiction elements and a strong female lead. Wait. What? Yeah. And music has become the same way. No, that’s not rock music, that’s indie adult alternative. When did everything get so complicated?

You’re not going to be subjected to a firing squad if you mark your book as “action” when it’s “suspense.” I can’t say the same for you if you label it as “romance” and it’s really a sport’s almanac. Those romantics can be feisty. But I think I’ve made my point here. What’s most important is to A) not pigeon hole yourself into a specific genre and B) don’t get tied up and concerned with all of the details right away. There is a time and a place for picking a genre and before you write the story, isn’t it. The most important things you can do as a writer are to focus on your story and continuously seek to better your writing. If you produce quality work on a consistent basis, the rest will fall into place.

I hope this helps. Happy writing!

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