Monday, December 31, 2012

Hypocrisy thy name is Hollywood Celebrities

Don't watch if language and Hollywood violence upsets you.  Although this should upset you but it's your choice.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Passive Guy Throws Down the Gauntlet

Over at Passive Voice, PG posted a photo of Ernest Hemingway skiing.  "Famous Authors Playing In The Snow" and I said what about obscure authors?  So he said submit photos of obscure authors for consideration.

So I put my D7K on the tripod outside.  Got out my wireless remote and ran in front of the camera while tripping the shutter.

Obscured Writer in Snow
That was 1 shot.  It's cold out there, the snow is deep and all the feral cats wanted to know what I was doing.  So yeah, it would have been good to have my boots in the shot but we'll leave that for next time.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve and The Tipping Point

Merry Christmas.

I wish us all great sales this holiday season.

That out of the way, Joe Konrath posted his yearly resolutions and I'd like to respond with my own take on the state of epublishing.  It's true that I derived a push from reading Konrath in last 2008.  I tested the waters with Impossible Charlie/now Dream Horse, which I had already self-pubbed with Lightning Source earlier that year.  At that point digital was pretty much nothing.

And it grew fast.  So fast most of us can't keep up.

Where are we now?  There are millions of books for people to choose from and millions more will flood in next year as backlist books are added.

Just write a great book, publish it and write the next.  Rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. 

That's what we hear and I don't believe it right now.  If you're Konrath and have a fanbase fine.  Sure there are outliers like EL James who comes along and makes a huge impact.  But the thing with her is that she had a fanfic fanbase already. 

So I sat down and said "How can I better understand this market and how to get attention over the din and the sheer tsunami of books crashing in upon all of us?"  I went back and read Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.  He explained it pretty clearly.  It boils down to word of mouth.

Here's the reality.  You can write all the great books you like but if you don't light the fire under readers who then start telling each other "This is great!  You have to read this NOW!" you will be as unnoticed and unappreciated as someone who wrote dreck.  So yes, go write that great book.  What's step 2?  Go write another book?  Or get that first book to some readers?

It's your choice.  It's your career.  These are your books.  If you think having a shelf-full of ebooks is the way to go, do that.  It could work.

Here's another plan.  Flog that book.  I know a romance writer who flogs her work like crazy and it works.  She's a good writer and she should be read.  She makes sure people are aware of her.  She advertises, does book tours, gets reviews and does freebies.  She makes her books visible.  She puts them in front of the audience with a vengeance.  She twitters constantly.  She told me she doesn't care if it bothers some people, she'll redouble her efforts.

I've been reading about the life of Ruth Harriet Louise a portrait photographer in the silent era of Hollywood.  They flogged every movie, they flogged every actor.  They sent out tons of publicity photos.  Someone wrote in and asked for a photo of Norma Shearer, they got one.   There were fan magazines whose only reason for existence was to put actors in front of the public.  The interest was created.  People bought the magazines to see the stars, to get fashion tips from the stars, to read concocted rumors of the stars' lives and to go to the movies to see the stars.  The studios didn't let up for one minute.

You have to get people to know you're there.  Get them talking about your books.  Sure make it easy to find you with the best keywords and all your search engine techniques.  Have great covers.  Have great blurbs.  Don't stop there.  It's not enough.

And I'm not at all convinced (which is putting it nicely) that spamming on Facebook will help.  You are probably reaching more writers, not readers.  I have seen no proof that readers depend on Facebook to tell them what to read.  Maybe there are a couple pages with websites or blogs elsewhere that are influential but I can't tell you which those are.

I do know it's going to get harder to do as this year goes along so start gearing up.  You have even more work to do than before.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Formatting Anthologies or Boxed Sets

This seems like a lot of work and it is but it's not horrible.
If you're using Word, you're going to make 4 separate sections.
You'll have front matter and a contents page.  More on that in a moment.
You'll have a section for each book.
This is not page break.
Look under page layout and you'll see section break.  Use that.
This way you keep the TOC for each book separated.

In the front matter content, use hyperlinks and direct it to the bookmarked title.
Don't make another TOC.
Don't give Word reason to get confused.

And that's really it.  You copy and paste to 1 long document, separating each with a section break each time.  Clean up where you need to.

So yes, it's work but it's not horrible.

How you do the cover is up to you.  I know someone who did it in Paint and that's about as basic a program as you can find.  I tried a couple different ways and then paid for a photoshop action that automates the process beautifully.  It is possible to do it manually and it will help if you're good at geometry which I'm not.



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advertising/Publicity/Book Tours

The answer is now yes.
It's no for some outliers but for the rest of us, yeah, taking up shelf space isn't enough or isn't quick enough.  If you want to achieve audience awareness, I don't think passive works anymore and you'll have to have some kind of marketing campaign.

I have a pal who is on this aspect all the time.  She does freebies on Select and then promos them everywhere.  She does quite well sales-wise.  Not up at the top of the charts but steady sales.

I don't know if FB and Twitter work.  I'm sure they do for some but perhaps you need a fanbase first.  Personally I'm sick of seeing someone flogging their books everywhere on FB and having every instance of it wind up on my wall.  I've unfriended some individuals for such egregious behavior which is the opposite of what they want.

So you need to keep the annoyance factor down.

Anthologies.  I'm not sure why these took off but apparently readers see it as a good deal.
Right now (the price will go up by the first of the year) the Flash anthology is basically $1 a book.  So that is a good deal.  You could price a 3-book boxed set for 99 cents and that would be a fantastic bargain.

But people still need to know it exists.  You can't rely on them finding it among the millions of books now on Amazon.  You need to find a way to point to it.

I've approached book bloggers in the past months and they were unaware of my books and very enthusiastic to read them.  That made me realize there are just too many books out there to expect to be easily found anymore.

The Flashes

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Old Technology

I use a CRT for a monitor.  Yes, it's old technology but it's actually very good for photo editing.  Unfortunately it seems to be time to switch to digital.  My concern is that a new monitor will require a new computer.  It's all quicksand.  You install a better video card and then there's a cascade of requirements as everything wants to be upgraded.

So until I get that sorted out, I'll probably be away for a bit.

Let me just say something about ebooks, sales and Amazon.  Ebooks are the future.  Amazon is leading the way.  Sales slowed?  Hey people, the economy is crashing.  Some are either oblivious or in denial but that's the truth.  Whether people consciously know, as I do, or feel it, these are not the same days as 2009 or 2010.  People are not going to be spending freely.  Sure there are writers not feeling it.  Certain genres aren't feeling it (erotica or as I call it--porn).  There is also the issue of freebies which have glutted the marketplace so people don't need to buy in order to read.  Maybe they can't read what they want to but they can still read.

That's where we are.  I'm betting it's going to get worse for a long stretch although in a couple years things will improve financially.  (Yes, years, this isn't a joke, this is a big recession, this is a fundamental change to the country.)

So what can you do.  Actively seek out your niche audience.  How?  That's for you to figure out.
Write the best books you can for your audience.
Put more effort in than your competition.

Happy Holidays.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Ten Thousand Hours

I watch American Idol and the X-Factor.  Some  mock people who do.  Well, mock on.

Some years back Carrie Underwood was on American Idol and I loved her.  I kept saying "How do you learn how to do this?"  She was a girl from a small town in Oklahoma.    Is it that you sing better than the other 56 kids in your school so you think "Gee, I'll go on American Idol.  I could win."

A lot of people do go from their living room to the stage and make fools of themselves.   But I'm talking about the people who "go from their living room" and stagger the audience with their talent and brilliance.

Here's the audition of Carly Rose Sonenclar, 13, from Westchester.  You look at it and say "How do you learn how to do this?"



You learn it the same way you learn anything.  You put in ten thousand hours of practice. 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vanity Publishing v. Indie Publishing

Don't. Do. It.

What's the difference between vanity and self?  Well self publishing is indie publishing.  You do it yourself.  If you need a book cover you HIRE someone to do the cover for a FLAT FEE.  If  you need editing help, you HIRE someone to edit for a FLAT FEE.  Then you publish your book and you get ALL THE MONEY the book makes, if it makes anything.  These strangers don't make money off you in perpetuity.

What's vanity?  It's when some scamster takes advantage of your desperation and ignorance to be published to charge you up the wazoo.  Like $2000 for a cover when you can easily find someone to create a respectable cover for 1/10th or even 1/20th that.  Ditto the editing.  On top of charging you for everything, they will also take a cut of the money your book earns.  Forever.

In other words, you're being taken for a ride, scammed, stuck, ripped off, played for a sucker.  Those are the polite terms for it.

This happened to a friend of mine.  I couldn't talk her out of it and $5000 later she had several thousand books in her garage that she would have had to hand-sell and that was frankly not a topic many people would care about.

And this is what Simon & Schuster has just come up with as a way to make money.  It seems like Simon & Schuster is a reputable company and we'd all love to be published by them, right?  They're trading on that good name and reputation to rip people off now.  They probably would spin it differently, saying they provide legitimate services and guide newbie authors through the process.  Yeah, maybe they do but they're so overcharging ($25,000???) for the privilege of being taken in by them, that I just have to ask one question of anyone thinking of doing this.  No, it's not one question.  Is it worth it?  When, seriously, do you figure you'll earn the money back you've invested and get in the black?

I was contracted to write a book for Penguin.  They gave me an advance of about $16,000.  Out of that I bought a camera, all the supplies, paid for the illustrators, paid the agent and what all.  I still "owe' Penguin $16,000.  I made NOTHING on that book because I haven't made a penny back on the advance.

In Big Publishing, most books don't earn back their advance.  It's writers like Stephen King and Nora Roberts paying for everything. 

If you've invested $500 in your indie published book, you do have a chance that you will make your investment back and then start turning a profit.  How are you going to make back the $25,000 you pay to Simon & Schuster/Author Solutions/"Archway"?

I know I couldn't reason my friend out of it.  She could do the math and imagined how great her book would sell.  She was a positive thinker.  I am a realistic thinker.  I've seen things go right and I've seen how things can go really wrong.

Don't.  Go.  There.


Friday, November 23, 2012

A Photoshop Friday

Still learning, still experimenting, still watching tutorials.  I saw a photograph, actually the product of a malfunction, and spent hours trying to recreate it.  Didn't.

If there's any takeaway it's to keep growing, expanding, trying new things and hope that it all eventually comes together.

Maybe life is like that photo.  You do everything to the best of your ability, it all malfunctions and what you wind up with is something beautiful.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Script Fonts--Yes or No

I am completely against using a script font on a cover since it's difficult to see in a thumbnail.

So how do I explain this?  It's quite large.  That's all I've got.  It's a beautiful font and I keep trying to use it.  I don't recommend it or any atypical font.  The good thing is that nothing is permanent.  It's all a test, you can try everything out and if it doesn't work, you can always change it.

I suppose some people can't live with this state of flux.  They don't enjoy self-publishing and want someone to do everything for them.  I don't care how many times I change things around, there are always new people coming on board who have never seen it before.

What did I do to this image?  It's something I got at a stock photo site--the girl in the hat, for a bargain price.  You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a pretty good image but unfortunately you'll probably invest hours looking for it.  Some sites have more commercial type images and others, usually more expensive, have more artistic shots.  At some point someone will realize there is a market for images created with ebooks in mind.  Hasn't happened yet.

I blew the image way up not caring if the photo became unsharp or not.  There is post processing involved with the image and she's nowhere near that saturated originally.  Then I layered a photo I took of a little orange flower with a cobweb on it which diffuses the background/woman.  The dew is real since it was first thing in the morning.  There are other layers involved  but that's mainly what's going on.

It's funny how the edge of the leaf follows the brim of her hat so perfectly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tooting Your Own Horn

Let me start by saying I've never been good at hawking myself.  "Let the work speak for itself" has been my motto.

Well times change.  Two years ago was an eon in digital publishing and the clammor for attention is fierce now.  I do feel somewhat sorry for readers.  If they're scrolling through a list of a couple thousand books, how can they tell the quality from the dreck.  And there's plenty of dreck.

Obviously a less than professional cover is a quick way to tell.  Then the potential customer should read the blurb and then the sample.  It's very time consuming.

I feel sorry for writers because even drecky writers can pay to have a pretty good cover done for them.  It doesn't improve their writing any but there you are competing with them.  Everyone shouting for attention.

It's rather demoralizing when you think about it, isn't it?

I just read what happened to Cora Carmack.  She wrote a book, self-published it and within 2 months was on the NYT bestsellers list and had a high 6 figure book deal. There's always going to be an outlier but she proves you can be heard over the crowd.  What makes her such an outlier is that it came so easily.  (Putting the book aside.)

Amazon search engine looks at all the words in your "Look Inside"/it's all metadata, so let's put that aside for the moment.

If all writers who haven't made it to the top of the charts are equally unknown, and equally doofusistic, if you have a legitimate horn--toot it.  Have you achieved anything?  Let the customer know.  Have you won an award?  And I don't mean a badge in Girl Scouts.  Let's tout real achievements and I mean real, not fantasized or invented ones because someone may decide to check just to prove you're fabricating your background.  If you're writing a novel with a boating background and you sailed in an America's Cup race, say that in your bio and the blurb.  If you have special skills or talents, mention that.  Make yourself look as bright and shiny as possible.  Rinse and Repeat as necessary.  Don't annoy people but remember that new customers are always entering the market and you are an unknown to them.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

High Concept

If you want to get noticed, the best advice I can give you or me is to come up with a great idea.

I remember when I lived in California the big sale was two advertising guys got on the phone and said we're not getting off until we come up with a million dollar idea.  They finally came up with "What if a nuclear weapon became sentient?"  I think Kevin Costner got attached to it and they got their million dollars.

I knew someone who was so angry with the way she was treated in tradpub she decided to make them pay by coming up with a million dollar idea.  She did and apparently is living happily ever after.

What's high concept?  Snakes on a plane.  Except that's bad because once you hear that, you don't need to know any more.  It got made so I suppose that's the point.

The other best advice is to look to the mechanics of screenwriting and movie making for high concepts.  Be able to explain it in a sentence.  Shout it across the parking lot and have it understood.  Some people say 15 words or less, some give you an extra 10. 

Then you, of course, have to, like Snakes On A Plane, have a title that conveys this idea.  How many words should be in a title?  I like 1 but obviously at some point we're going to run out of all the words people know.  I told a friend her 2 word title needs another word and she said "The rule of three?"  Which I admit I had never heard of,  so no, it was just that her 2 words didn't have impact or rhythm for me.  It has to have some kind of flow.

They say in Hollywood if it can sound like something someone already has heard of that's good.  What you probably don't want is something no one has ever heard of.  The Golblutz of Asyirya.  Sci Fi always baffles me.  I don't even know how to pronounce most of the words.  It's good in that community  if you're not in with the in-crowd, not so much.

The point is to connect with the audience/customers as quickly as possible.




Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Covers and Subtitles

I have a more difficult time with transitions in my life than most people (sometimes) so I understand why there are those positively CLINGING to traditional publishing.  Especially if you were treated well or are still treated well.  Like they are polite and pay you.  It's hard to see digital as anything but the enemy.

Digital is my friend, right? 

There are professionals who cannot see the difference between a digital book cover and a physical cover.  They continue to design and approve of approaches or design elements  that work in print that cannot hope to work in digital.

Let me restate what should be obvious.  The text should be readable on the cover.  The bigger the better.  This isn't art, it's a billboard to sell your book.

This isn't art, it's a billboard to sell your book.

So cutesy little phrases that people can't read without using their browser to zoom in don't work.  "A Novel of the Edwardian Era"  BZZZZT  Thanks for playing, see ya again when you recover from being slapped upside the head with a 2x4.

Keep your name relatively the same size as the title or larger.

Subtitles.  If the book is part of a series, that information should be on the cover.  If it's not you have room to include something like "A Cozy Mystery", "A Contemporary Novel" or some description.  This should be smaller.  If you're fortunate enough to be award winning you could include that.  

BUT you have to be smart since you DO want the image to be seen.  Don't include too much text.  Don't clutter up this small space.

I'm a lot happier with including the subtitle in the book's description--"Miss Grayson's Gambol: An Edwardian Novel"--than putting that on the cover.  The subtitle will appear in the listing and not clutter the image.

These are ideas you should consider whether you design the cover yourself or have someone design one for you.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Formatting and Don't Think I Have A Solution

If you write in Word, you should understand/accept that Microscoff adds tons of proprietary coding.  You can see it if you view the document in html code.  Very messy and I'm not good enough with html to know how to clean it up.

So I updated that Her Cold Kiss book, gave it a new cover, a little bit of a new ending so that it ended and was no longer the 1st book in a series.  I added a Table of Contents.  Okay.  Uploaded it to Amazon.  Fine.  Lovely.
If it looks good on the Kindle Fire, I figure I'm set.

I upload it to Kobo.  Total and complete corruption.  Pages with 1 sentence.  Really bad.  Not just the indent is off.  Uploaded it to BN.  Same thing.

For the next week, all I did was strip and reformat this book.  Generally any small problems can be handled in Word itself.  There's an eraser icon (whatever it is) and you click that and it's supposed to put you back to square 1.  Not always, or not completely.  What you then try is to save the document in rtf, open it in wordpad, save, open it in Word and all the formatting is stripped.

Not this time.  I did that several times.  I  opened it in Open Office, saved, whatever.  Nothing worked.  I unpublished it from BN.  That happened immediately.  I tried at Kobo, it got stuck.  Apparently Kobo support doesn't work on the weekends.  Good to know.  They finally deleted it yesterday.  Meanwhile an adequate version made it through BN.

I don't quite understand why this has to be so difficult to the point where the average person can't do it.

I also have some confusion about the TOC/NCX file.  Amazon is beginning to nicely push publishers to include a TOC.  Fine.  We covered that here some months back.  Then this NCX file issue came up.  It's hidden, it stands for Navigational Control for XML.  It's what gets you around.  I started to hear about creating this blasted thing and all this stuff I couldn't understand.  I'm a writer not a coder!

If you download the free program Sigil and look at your document that you wrote in Word and created the TOC in Word, and then save as a html, filtered file, you can look at what's in your document.  You'll see the NCX file.  

You don't have to build it, or do anything.  Word has done it for you.  So relax, that's one less thing you have to worry about.  But you are going to want to put TOCs in all your books and start going back into your old ones and do them, too.  Sorry. 

You can do it in Sigil if you don't want to do it in Word.  It's even easier there.  Or you can pay someone to do it.





Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lost Romance

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers.  Sublime.

v

Someone I know (kinda) went to a seminar about self-publishing and many of the luminaries were there.

Make your name big on the cover.
Some people are reticent about this ie if you're not famous don't be so loud.
If my name has been small it's because I don't want text spread all over the image, then you have a clutter but I'm going to give it a whirl till the end of the year or I come up with something else to do.

Subtitle it.  Nothing Serious: A Romantic Comedy. 
I've heard Amazon isn't wild about that but I haven't heard they've threatened anyone over it yet.


Any word that is in your “Search Inside” segment will pop up on search engines.
Does that simplify life or what?  I don't see that it's done anything for me one way or another but it's good to know.   Since this came from someone at Amazon, we have to assume it's true and worthwhile to pay attention to what's in the first pages of the book.

Createspace wasn't mentioned and I'm on the fence about that one.  Some people love it.  Dream Horse does sell some books each month.  Murder is Exhausting never does.  You have to guess/figure out if it's worth the time and effort to bother.  It's not hard to earn the money back, but it can be like working for pennies an hour.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thinking, Too Much Thinking!

The last 6 weeks or so have been a lot about covers.

I don't know that anyone's opinion counts for anything except the customer and we can't interview them.

Here's logic.  Your book cover will appear in thumbnail size all around the internet.  If you are good with people not being able to read the title or your name in thumbnail size because you've designed it extra special artistically, that's your choice.  It's hard enough to see the thing in thumbnail even if you try hard you might not be able to read the text.

Some people will reflect on this point and other people will ignore it/defend their choice practically to the death.
It's not that important.  Do what you want to do.

Don't make it hard for people to buy your book.  It's hard enough to get people to the book's page as it is.
Have you made the book, the blurb, the cover as attractive as possible to THEM, not to you?  We don't care about you.  You don't really matter.  Or you can matter and have complete sway on another book.  What if you only have 1 book?  Do it your way.  This is a learning experience for everyone.  Either you will learn or you won't.

I'm changing Her Cold Kiss around because I don't think anyone understood it.  I'm not devoting vast amounts of time to it but the fixes are simple, quick.  Digital publishing means not only attending to what's in the future, it also means attending to projects in the past.





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Textures

There are very few Photoshop projects that don't include at least one texture layer.
You put them on top of everything else then back the opacity way down.

A couple nights ago I was running water into a bowl in the kitchen sink and saw all these great bubbles.
I said Wow!  Textures!

So I'm sharing it with you.  Use it well, don't let the soap get in your eyes.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy by Dion & the Belmonts Not Mother Nature



Only 60,000,000 million people will be affected by this storm.  They're already being told on Long Island to expect power will be out for 7-10 days.  Luckily I don't have much in the freezer.

After Hurricane Irene, my pal sent me a nice business laptop that had gone off business lease so I have that and 2 batteries.  Still it will be a mess.

Maybe I can get a pair of socks knitted for the winter.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CreateSpace as Time Suck

I'm sorry.  I wasted hours and hours of my life on a 72 page book so I'm not giving the process high marks.
It kept telling me the images inside weren't 300 DPI.  According to Photoshop they were, so who do I believe?  Photoshop.  I wound up deleting the image instead of rebuilding it a 3rd time.
It was unhappy with my fonts, they wanted them embedded.  I tried.  According to Word they were.
I went back and forth between Word and Open Office a number of times, just like every time I try to format anything for print.

Word is good in some ways and luckily in the ways that Word crashes and burns, Open Office makes it easy.
The final version was uploaded from Open Office because you can export into PDF and embed fonts that way.

Apparently this is worth it for some writers but it's not for me.

The cover took about 6 hours.  So if you pay someone to do this for you, hundreds of dollars is understandable.


If you super super want/need to see your work in print format, by all means satisfy the longing deep inside and do it.  If you have the money to spare, have someone do it for you. 

Otherwise it's a huge time suck and spending more time on sharpening up your Kindle offerings seems to be more practical.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unheard

This was originally titled Will the Real Renie Lake Please Stand Up.  It was when that title made sense.  Now, of course, it really doesn't, so I changed it.  I did an extensive rewrite which it needed because I'm smarter now than I was then.   The original cover I liked then but don't any longer.  It was Renie standing in front of a window turned slightly to look at the audience and we can see her reflection in the glass--a girly girl, instead of the street-wise chick she's become.  It makes sense and obviously the artist read the book because he understood Renie's inability to determine who the new her was.  That confusion is fairly normal. 

I think it was always more about communication, though, since Jan is deaf and can "hear"/communicate and Renie is hearing and can't.  Maybe I titled it wrong!  The movie was called "Tough Girl" so that's completely in the wrong direction.  Unheard is the right title.

And now it has a new cover.  That has nothing to do with hearing, communication or toughness but the girl is really pretty!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things To Do When You're Stuck

You play around with Photoshop.

What some of us might realize is that digital publishing is growing and changing very rapidly.  What worked in 2009 doesn't work now.  We've gone through some incredible phases incredibly fast.  Even when Amanda Hocking first published her books, no one had ever made a million dollars on ebooks.  Now quite a few people have. 

Readers were so excited by digital books, they were glad to have them.  Now they're not so excited.

Now we have people trying to game the system,  Sock puppets and writing your own reviews.  Something about Harriet Klausner reviewing books before they're even available.  People copying Wikipedia articles and publishing them  If there's a quick buck to be made, someone will find a way to do it.

We'll get through this phase too. 

Keep writing.  Use spellcheck.  Be serious about your work.  Get the best covers you can.  Learn how to write a good blurb.  This is important.  It's not a plot summary, it's a sales tool.  Learn how to write a sharp, succinct
100 words or less hook about your book.

Great cover--makes people stop and click to your page.
Great blurb--intrigues and makes people read the sample
Great sample--makes people want to read the whole thing.

Do that and you'll be ready for the next phase. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cover Art

There is no way of minimizing the import of cover art.  It's the consumer's introduction to you.
(Should they be called readers?  What does Amazon call them?  Probably customers.)  If you have a cover that is visually intriguing then people will stop scrolling and look.

The blurb is where you get them to read the sample or buy.

The difficulty of finding the right image that represents the sensibility of your novel is so difficult unless you are straight-line genre.

At some point some stock photo site will actively court the needs of ebooks.  It hasn't happened yet although it's possible to find many lovely and usable photos and sometimes vector art.  If I had to give advice on this, I'd say use something close until you can find something you love.  Unless you can afford to hire an artist and I mean an artist who will produce something specifically for your book, not a designer who just buys something at bigstockphoto and plops it on a template.  Make them read the book first.  It should be a deal breaker if they're uninterested in reading it.  You're paying top dollar for a design, it should include understanding what the book says.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Busy!

I remade the covers for Ari & the Doctor and Inhibitions.  I spent a day running around looking for pipe for the heater before winter sets in and all kinds of other things pulling me in opposite directions.

Call it 2 years ago vampires were the most popular topic I could think of for ebooks.  Paranormal still sells really well.  Erotica has taken the lead and from the couple bits I've read it's not the old-style erotica, this is really graphic material.

A couple years ago I was researching erotica/girlie magazines/porn and up until the 1970's it was pleasant, gentle and not very graphic.  The girls in Playboy would tease but not be nude.  They were cute.  Then everything changed and became very gynecologic.  I suppose if that's what you grew up with, that's what you like and anything less seems tame.  It doesn't appeal to me and I have to wonder what's the next level.

If it's BDSM now, then does it become like Dune, where the bad guy had to have sex with the young slave with his heart plug removed?

Not my thing.  At all.

Flowers are always good.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Writers and Readers

Of course I can very easily say I never had so much contact with readers until ebooks.  Once in a while I used to get a fan letter but that was it.

Now I can see their reviews and get emails.  They know where to find me.  Obviously I'm here.  We're supposed to be able to be found because it's good visibility.  Social media, blogging and standing on the street corner wearing nothing but a sandwich sign--all ploys to get you out there.

I got a review last week complaining about Dream Horse and all the many grammatical and spelling errors.  "I would reccomend this book, though" she finished.  Well, I recommend you use spell check, babe, I do.

About two weeks ago I was accused of being a "wannabe writer".  Trust me, there are days when I don't wannabe.

But there are books to write.  On to the Christmas season!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gram Parsons

Infuriating.


Pride and Prejudiced Against Hollywood Movies

I understand Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier were considered to be wonderful actors.  That said, Pride and Prejudice is on TCM right now and its awfulness is laughable. 

Maybe Hollywood's intention was always making money and telling stories that would get people to cough up their money to be entertained.  Is there something about being vaguely historically accurate that would prevent people from being entertained?

Baring all else, every Hollywood studio had a costume department.  Did no one look at a Regency gown?  Yes, they were ugly, but not half as ridiculous as the meringues Greer Garson is wearing--sleeves so enormous she has to turn sideways to get through the doorways.

I know Elizabeth says she is quite old when speaking with Lady de Bourgh, but I thought Lizzie meant about 22, not 35.  This is like Norma Shearer, who I quite like and am grateful she took such good care of Irving Thalberg,  playing a 15 year old Juliette.  Come on.  These women were too old for the parts.

The Bennets were supposed to be, if not poor, then certainly not rich.  You should see the huge house Hollywood put them in.  If they had this much money, what was Mr. Darcy's problem with Elizabeth and her family?  The Bennets being well-off completely undercuts and undermines what Jane Austen set up.  Oh well, writers are always too close to their work so what the heck did Austen know about her story anyway?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conflict

I signed up with Pixels of Ink.  Every day (dismayingly) there is quite a list of free or cheap books available at Amazon.  I download only the ones I think there is at least a 50-50 chance I'll get to.

Unfortunately most are disappointing and wind up DNF (Did Not Finish).  Many of them lack a center.  They lack a central conflict.  As I'm reading I can't answer the question "What does this character want?"  We are we left with the sense that nothing is happening because without conflict, nothing is happening.

CONFLICT
Man v. man
Man v. nature
Man v. self


It's not enough that your main character discovers they are a fey child or have a super power.  Saving the world is great, thanks for your efforts on my behalf!, but you need someone trying to prevent the saving of the world.  There must be an adversary.

Someone famous in the romance writing world gave a seminar and said "If your main character is an arsonist, the love interest has to be the fire investigator."

You need to personalize the struggle, the conflict.  Then you need to dramatize this conflict.  You must show incidents with rising intensity of the conflict playing out.

Again I will tell you go read a book on screenwriting.  Nothing will give you a clearer description of the three-act dramatic structure than that.

You're not writing a script?  You're not writing a drama?  Yeah, you are.

Readers don't care, all they want is a good story?  That's how you create a good story.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

People are Strange

Not when you're a stranger--I could find that song, it's by The Doors, right?--people can appear to be fine and then they surprise you by coming off the rails.

I had someone stalk me once.  Luckily not in a threatening way but it made me understand how easy it was for this person to lose their handle on clear thinking.  In the throes of this behavior, it makes sense.  All it requires is to step off the path and then everything else can be viewed through another prism.

No, this rumination is not apropos of nothing but that's the end of the rumination.

D600 w/ 40 mm



The D600 is an extraordinary camera.  From a technical standpoint, I'm not smart enough to know how the D4 is appreciably better for 4 X the price.  As I understand it, it's a more substantial body that can take being in the field better.

Yes I did drop my F once and that pretty much would have meant sending it into Nikon Repair but it was stolen a couple hours later so I never got the chance to know if it could have survived it.  I'm not on a safari or climbing Mt. McKinley.  I think my equipment is pretty safe.

From a personal standpoint, I took this photo, cropped it and uploaded it.  Even as wonderful as I thought the D7k was, I always threw some sharpening on it.  I would bump clarity, contrast and blacks.  (There's my secret revealed.)  What's here is an unprocessed image.  I'm not interested in trying to improve it.  I think this is good and leave it alone.

Maybe not every shot can be left so alone but it shouldn't be my responsibility to do what the camera's supposed to do.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

D600 Test Photo 2

This camera has an affinity for light.

D600 85 mm f 1.8


I sent this to a friend and she said "It looks almost 3D"

Followers of this blog, know I've been talking about a stripped down Nikon that would deliver the finest possible images for the lowest possible price.  This is that camera.  Nikon got it right.

You may not like the placement of the buttons, but at least, at the very least, discuss the quality of the images it produces.

If you can't take a remarkable photo with this camera, it's not the camera.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

D600 First Test Shot

It's not just a little bit better than the d7k, it's a lot better.

This is a raw image, taken with a 40mm Nikkor macro lens.


Unfortunately, it almost impossible to see on a blog/website how stunningly sharp this is.

It's basically the d7k body, a little bigger but not very.  It feels the same in the hand as to weight.  The buttons are all in relatively the same places.  It takes the same battery.  I took the chip and the battery out of the d7k when the 600 arrived so I could just go out and shoot.

It's happy with an FX lens or a DX which is framed in the viewfinder so you'll know how cropped down the image is.

I know there are nitpicky little things some people will glom onto and complain about but if you just want to go out and shoot and get a fantastic image, this camera will do it.  I don't know about shooting in caves or sporting events or hanging upside down off the Eiffel Tower--those people probably wouldn't be happy with anything.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used D7k?  I'll include the 55-200 zoom.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nikon D600

I actually don't know when it was formally released today or on the 11th but at any rate, today is the day I pre-ordered it from Amazon.  Why Amazon and not BH Photo?  Because I've returned stuff to Amazon before and it's really easy.  They're supposed to start shipping on the 18th but who knows how many people are ahead of me in the queue.

As with any Nikon all lenses will fit although older lenses will not be metered or have auto focus.  After I've said that I can tell you I have a Nikon lens that absolutely does not work on my D7k.  So YMMV.

My 40mm DX will work and my 85 FX 1.8 definitely will work so I got the body only.  It was still much more than the $1500 bandied about earlier in the year.

I'll take a bunch of test shots and if I don't fall in love, back it goes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How To Be Discovered

Some years ago a man who had written a movie you'd probably remember asked me about writing books.  He told me this story he wanted to write and I couldn't follow it, maybe it was something about super-powers and invisibility.  My agent gave it a definite nyetski.  Movie ideas don't translate into good books.

I think now they do.

Books are more like novelized movies than ever.  I won't name names but think about it.

There are so few ways to rise out of the multitude of books out there.  Some people don't think freebies work anymore.  My good friend thinks they do and runs them constantly.  Do reviews help?  Some say yes but if they're written by drunk trolls then no.  If they're all 5 star whether the book deserves it or not, readers are cynical.

Ya can't win but for losing!

What's the answer?  Be more Hollywood.  Seriously.  Have a high concept story (don't throw everything and the kitchen sink in, that's not high concept, that's the town dump) execute it relatively well, get a great cover, write a great blurb and wait.  People will show up.

Here's 1 definition of high concept Steve Kaire.

"I love high-concept books. A lot of the books I read and represent are high concept and get a lot of film interest. I define high concept as a premise that can be boiled down into one sentence and sets it apart from other stories by its unique hook or angle." –Paige Wheeler, literary agent

High concept is simple and unique.  It is different.  It's not another story about vampires or the zombie apocalypse unless you really have a new twist on it.

It's not about bumping up the gore factor or the porn scenes (altho erotica sells. it's still not high concept).

It doesn't always work but it works so much of the time that people want it.
The movie Speed worked.  Snakes on the Plane didn't.  It should have but no one remembers it now.  The title told the whole story, who had to watch the movie.  Jaws.  The Poseidon Story.

Come up with your own list.  It'll be educational.

If you want a lot of attention fast, this is the way to go.  High Concept.


(No I'm not being horribly shallow talking about movie ideas on the anniversary of 9-11.  I already rewatched the tapes of the morning news shows of the day, I already did my crying, and I'm still certain most people don't get that it's not over.  You can't choose peace when your enemy choses war.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Go Read About Screenwriting

While I was in California and I was in television, I never did a movie.  That's not to say I didn't try.

What does this have to do with digital  books?  Just about everything as far as I can tell.  The same techniques apply to both businesses.

Let's assume you are not writing great literature.  You're writing commercial fiction.
I had someone say they wanted to have their book discovered by Hollywood and turned into a movie.

That's a good goal. I don't think it's very easy when Hollywood is constricting and making increasingly uninteresting sh*t for the masses.  Don't blame me, check the box office stats on it.

But okay you want someone in Hollywood to find your book and maybe make it a cable movie.  Or a webmovie.
Whatever level you get to, you'll be happy, right?

Write a book that sounds like a movie.

Then pitch it like a movie.

Blurb it like a movie.

You want to write an ebook that will get noticed?  Do all of the above.

With one proviso--don't write off-genre like I do.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Worst Blogs and/or Websites

Black backgrounds.

Am I right?  Almost impossible to read.  If they used a bold type font in white, it would be better but they never think of that.  Sometimes they even use yellow.  I've seen blue.  I never bother to struggle I just leave.

Is there a hidden meaning in the choice of a black background?



Someone more knowledgeable about digital book sales than I assured me Christmas themed works sell well.
Great!  I need something that will sell!  Does it have to be a romance????  Yes.  Okay.  Thinking cap on.  Okay.  I'll cobble together a couple ideas that weren't happening and use them in concert and have a Christmas tale to tell.

I finished Bittersweet 1 and instead of jumping right into something with "meaning", I decided to do Christmas.  Oh yeah, I am so there.  And before 1000 words were written, I had the whole thing turned on its head.  But I like it so I'll have to finish it.  It'll be a novella so it won't be that time consuming.  Part of the time consuming is I'm making the mistake of attempting to illustrate it to some degree.  If only I could draw!    I do have pine cones left over from last year so I could take photos but I don't think that will work. 

So if you were wondering what I was doing and why I didn't show up here for a week, I was writing and designing and having other things happening that were very distracting.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Morning Thought Dump

August was a much better month for Kobo sales.  They still have a way to go on their basics like navigation.
I like knowing where the sale was but big blue blobs on the map are an interesting graphic but simply having it in text
Dream Horse-Canada
would be fine.
I like how BN does it.  It tells you what sold that day.
Unfortunate there's no running total.  We need the both.  What just sold TODAY and what is the MONTH total.
Has no one mentioned this to them?

I'm doing all the clean up work on Mounted.  No idea what I'll do next.  Eenie-meenie-mynie-mo would be as good as making a decision.

Isn't traditional publishing ridiculous?  Well ridiculous until they offer me a 6 figure deal, which they won't so I can very easily say they've become something bizarre and anachronistic.

The new Nikon D600 will likely be announced at some big shindig called Photokina on Sept 13.  The waiting list will stretch into next year.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bittersweet Farm 1--Mounted


It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Actually I think it still is quite a fine idea.  My new YA will be live in a couple days.  As I comb through it, a friend is reading it to see what it's about and how the blurb should be crafted.

I'm almost at the point where I think of the three elements that go into digital book, the book itself is least important.  First is the cover which by now has to be a knock-out or potential readers won't stop scrolling.  Then you have to have a great, nay super-great, blurb.  Then the book.  EL James proved if you shovel enough smut, you don't have to be Shakespeare to sell 20 million books.  After reaching a threshold of readability, how good does a book need to be?  Are digital books the new pulp fiction or are they literature?   Is beautiful writing wasted?  Do readers just want a story?  I don't know the answers.

There are half-sisters in competition with each other.  Are they competing over the horse shows or the new trainer?  Is it about the after-effects of a riding accident?  How much should be said in a blurb?  How long is the "description" supposed to be?  How much do customers really want to read and what do they expect?

Is the blurb at Amazon like the 1 paragraph we used to pitch to agents?  Should a blurb contain plot or only the dynamics/conflict of the story?  I think it's all become very Hollywood and the more one sticks to screenwriting principles and behavior, the less astray you'll go.

Give 'em the sizzle not the steak.  That means don't talk about the plot, talk about conflict.  Make it simple enough to be shouted across a parking lot and be understood.

How long should the description/blurb be at Amazon?  No more than 150 words.  1 paragraph.  They have Look Inside.  If your blurb is compelling enough, they'll read the sample.  If not, they're not intrigued enough to click buy anyway.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Waxed Paper Is Wonderful

I saw the coolest patterned wax paper for sale from Japan.  Then I read the sales blurb.  Total Engrish.

It goes down under the cake at parties and,
Paper of the stylish pattern that is good to perform lapping of a cake or bread♪

I can wrap handmade bread and candy, the various things including the flower from a cake splendidly.
I am glad even if I take it if I have you present a handmade cake with such a wonderful wrapper!

I can wrap it without the doughnuts which are oily being sticky!
As for the hospitality is possible smartly if spread it under the cake, and washing a dish easily!
I am pretty and am the convenient wax paper which is excellent even if I take it.

It is ... the party that I am more stylish, and is wonderful in a time of the afternoon♪

Unexpected Spike

I was waiting yesterday for the illustrator to put up a horse on Fotolia for me.  I was hoping she would do Bigstock as well but then decided that if it was 9 pm in Italy it probably wouldn't happen and I couldn't work on the new book if I was preoccupied with the cover issue.  So I bit the bullet and did Fotolia.  (They make you buy credits and price everything so you buy more credits than you need to purchase an item.  I don't like that.)


I think it's a good change.  Now it has nothing to do with the Dream Horse cover which is bad for branding but they're both in the top 10 of children's books horses or whatever it is, they always are, so there's not much room for improvement.  I doubt if the general audience is ever going to find horse books that interesting so it's a niche audience, and those 2 books are there.  I would like to see Summer Horse do a bit better so maybe this will help.

So as all this was going on I checked the sales at BN and Her Cold Kiss had sold 7 copies.  I don't think all the sales since publication all sites combined equals 7, so I was shocked.  Now less than 24 hours later, that figure has doubled to 14.  (I know peanuts compared to fill in the blank).

Why did this YA suddenly get found?  Unfortunately it's at BN where I can't even find the top ranking lists.  The book is still in the 300,000's.  If it was Amazon and there were 14 sales in 12 hours, the ranking would have improved by about 275,000 places and I'm serious.  Amazon's algorithm works on numbers and speed.

It's fun to have that happen.  I don't know what made it happen.  I don't know why it would be on a list.  Maybe someone read it and it was mentioned on a blog.  I certainly didn't do anything.

One of the great mysteries of digital publishing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Expectations of Excellence



I'm noticing that my images are much sharper in PS than they are once uploaded which is a disappointment.

Onto the question of excellence.

A vast number of people (going by the reviews) think that E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey is poorly if not amateurly written.  Vast numbers say it's the greatest thing ever.  I think this is a bad example because the erotica element clouds the mind.

Let's just say for the sake of this rambling argument that any book (almost any) reviewed on Amazon will be perceived as both good and lousy.

When paperback books were invented, did people really pick them up thinking "I love to curl up with Shakespeare" ?   Aren't the covers a dead giveaway you're not getting great literature?  Go to Book Scans for 1000's of them.
 
Aren't most indie ebooks really as disposable as a 25 cent paperback?  Texas druid cowboys.  Regency romances, erotica, police procedurals, hundreds of thousands of books like every paperback ever written on the planet was dumped on Amazon.  At rock-bottom bargain prices, people buy them and a lot of people somehow expect literary perfection.

Boy are they misunderstanding this process!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kobo Boosts Royalty Rate

That was an unexpected announcement this morning.    They're going from 70% to 80% from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.  So that would be exactly the length of a stint with KDP Select.

If a writer was thinking about going to Select or Kobo for those 3 months, that could be a deciding factor.  It's not the still measly 5 free days Amazon offers.  You can be free for as long as you like at Kobo.

It's true that Amazon is the big boy on the block and IF (repeat IF IF IF) you expect substantial sales due to your involvement with Select, then you'll want to stay with Amazon.  If you haven't seen great or have seen diminishing results with Select and their freebies, you might want to try Kobo.

This is an interesting move by Kobo, putting them into competition with Amazon.  They are still a small player but obviously they don't intend to stay small (who knows what BN intends).  Amazon needs this.  I hope they respond with some kind of upgrade to author services because I have no interest in Select at all.  It does nothing for me except tie up books that might sell somewhere else.

The key, of course, is discoverability.  The site which makes it easiest for the work of writers to be found is where the writers will go.  This is not a hobby, this is a business.  It's about sales, it's about money.

Up until now these sites thought they were doing us a favor.  That attitude seems familiar to me, where did I hear it before.  Let me think.  Oh yeah.  Traditional publishing.  It didn't work out so well for them and to continue to treat writers as though they should be grateful to have a place to sell their books will not work much longer for digital either.  We should be grateful for each other.  That's how this system will work best.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Question About Length

Late last week someone became very grumpy about the length of Fly Away.  It is a novella but at 20,000+ words it didn't satisfy her.  I wish she had asked for her money back instead of upsetting herself.  Amazon is really good about refunds.

Joe Konrath has a comment on his new post where he talks about length.

I know on some level readers are spoiled by legacy publishers who wanted long books in order to make more money.  They're not accustomed to short.  Oh well.

I like short and I'm going to be doing "short" from now on.  If I have to price it less, yeah I know Amazon isn't very helpful in the royalty schedule but Kobo is.  So maybe it'll even out.

I made a cover for a book this morning that I don't have the story to but I was scrolling through Bigstock and found something so cute that for $2.99 I had to.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Free Free Free

Last month when Fly Away was free, a friend told me about Pixels of Ink.  Today I was reminded of it.  I don't remember quite how it works, if you submit your freebie to them or they find you but they have an email that goes out listing some Kindle freebies.  I think I downloaded two today from there and one Kobo because I wanted to see these particular writers' styles.

You could read indefinitely for free.  I feel this week that you're better off pricing your book reasonably  at $2.99 or whatever and then if you want to put it on sale for 99 cents, that's a deal.  That's fine.  Amazon isn't particularly involved, you don't have to be in Select and they're not price matching.

So 209 copies of Sweet Tarts was downloaded for free at Amazon in the past 3 weeks or whatever.  (Again thank you Amazon, it made me smarter.)  The point of this short story besides that I think it's a window into this character and her life, is that Nothing Serious is excerpted in it.  There have been no sales of NS at Kobo and so minimal at Amazon I wouldn't attribute them to the excerpt. 

I still think excerpts are good and so do most writers.  As a reader, I don't think I ever read one but it makes sense to do it.

I can't say that having Sweet Tarts free for an extended amount of time did anything for any of my other books.  Most of the downloads were immediate then trickled off.  But it's a short story and it's not porn.  It's about a call girl but there's no hot sex in it.  It doesn't deliver if the reader is ...not looking for something that will make them think.  (Yay!  I think I worded that well.)

Saturation

At some point the market becomes saturated with all the derivative works trying to piggyback on the original success.  This is simply a fact.  Then the market moves on looking for the next shiny new thing.


Friday, August 17, 2012

End of the Week News Dump

I took all my freebies off Kobo.  Part of the reason why was that Amazon stopped price matching Sweet Tarts.  The other reason was I couldn't tell if it was working.  The Missed Wish was in the top 100 free YAs sometimes in the top 5.  But it's a clunky list and I couldn't find Bad Apple on there.  I had Flash for free for a week.  It was just a completely unsatisfying experience.  If Kobo can't tell you how many books are being downloaded, I don't want to play the game.

What I did instead was create a "new" book.  5 chapters of Flash as a sample and I put that for free at Kobo.  Shortened the blurb by about 2/3.  Next week I'll go back and make sure all my prices are back where they should be because going temporarily to 99 cents didn't produce 1 sale.  I'll probably try this with a couple other books, too, but it's been very busy around here.


If a paranormal book is released you can pretty much expect it to be at the top of the chart momentarily. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Weeks At Kobo

Has anyone done well?
Not that I've heard.
It seemed like such a good idea.
Here are a couple of the less good parts I've experienced:

They don't have their own review system, instead they pull reviews from Goodreads.  If you want to read all the reviews you have to sign up to Goodreads.
I hate being forced to do X if I want to do Y.  Sure way for me to exit out of the site.
There's been quite a lot of activity at Goodreads of late.  Google it if you'd like to become an expert on it.

Who at Kobo monitors the Goodreads reviews? Amazon monitors the reviews on their site.  From my contact with Kobo tech support, this is beyond their capabilities now.  Maybe later?  And too bad for you if you lose sales because of it.  Sorry.

Kobo can't figure out how to get the stats on free downloads. 
I've started to pull books out of free that I had intended for perma-free.  What's the point when I don't know if they're being downloaded.  Next step is to start pulling books from Kobo itself.  Yeah, true, I am considering it.

The search function, well...I looked for Summer Horse and it turned up in Adult fiction and I mean the porn stuff.
I wrote to tech support and they defended themselves.  They were spinning faster than a Waring Blender to assure me I was wrong.  They said it in a really nice way tho!

Those insta-changes are not instant at all.  They are in fact no faster than Amazon and given Amazon's new speed in making changes, Kobo is probably slower.  It's not necessarily 1 thing wrong, it's that the site is clunky and doesn't work as it should across the board.

So low marks to Kobo on some fairly important points.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Feral Cats

I call this Black Cat Farm because there are 2 colors of cats here.  Black and Black and White.  Charm Boy of the amazing fertility and sex drive and personal charm, was black.  Mrs. Awiggins was black and white.

They just showed up and over the years, there has been a constant supply although none of the originals remain.  They are feral, not friendly and I feed them because to not do so would probably mean death, especially in the winter.  I also hope they will take care of the mice around here.  This lot isn't very good at that.

Overnight, one of Mrs. Awiggins descendants passed on.  It was just a kitten.  It held on much longer than I expected and I had to bury it.

Mrs. Awiggins



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sometimes You Get It Right





This comment was left at the other blog

Barbara,

My name is Valerie Cameron. I may have known you in the 70's. Did you grow up in Brookfield, CT.? You inspired me to become a writer.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Book In The Works

Yeah, well it's a secret still but that's what I've been concentrating on.  That and the cover.
I've been in contact with a book designer to do something with the adult fiction and she gave me a couple hints for the new book, a Mature YA.  Got a thumbs up on the test cover so I felt good about that positive feedback.

Apparently I have a some design sense but, as I assured you, no ability to draw whatsoever.

I was very surprised that Montlake bought out Avalon where the length requirement was 40,000 wds and then said Montlake is looking for 60-90,000 wds.  That's a long book AFAIC.  And I'm baffled why there should be length requirements in digital.

The reason traditional publishing went to FORCING writers to vomit forth so many words was purely financial.  Is anyone seriously going to argue that a good writer can't fully tell the story in 30 or 40,000 wds?  Did Hemingway cheat us?  Did he leave something out?

There are exceptions to every rule.  Each Harry Potter book got longer, and in a sense worse.  The Goblet of Fire story was not served well by the added length.  I know Rowling had the plan of doing the 7 years of school in 7 books.  Ok.  And she had a lot to say.  Ok.  I would prefer it if a writer had such a massive vision for a tale, break it up into shorter bits.  Some people like really long books, they want to remain in that world.  Maybe it's better in fantasy and "epic" type books.  It's too much for me and I don't read fantasy.

All a way to say that I set forth to write 30,000 wds for this book and it made it a much more pleasant experience for me.  I'm nearing the end which is good because I still have a ton of writing to do before the end of the year.  Bad Apple 4 is definitely on the schedule. 

People seem to be really stuck in the past and what tradpub did/still wants than to be free and experiment in digital.  The audience ALWAYS expects the same thing until they find something different enchanting.