"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, January 20, 2017

Counting the Cost of Words

Five years ago I wrote a blog post called "Word Count Woes" which can be read here. While I feel those are certainly still an average sought by traditional publishers, what about when you are self-publishing an ebook?

Readers still have certain expectations which have been dictated by the traditional houses. In addition to quality, readers expect a certain length for the amount of money they shell out. Below is a guide to average word counts and subsequent pricing.

Remember, this is not an exact science, but only an average based on trends. Amazon pays the highest percentage for books that cost $2.99 – $9.99 and more sales seem to occur on books between $2.99 - $7

1.      Flash Fiction – less than 1,000 words  – $0.00 – $0.99 (maybe offer these for free on your blog, or bundle them together in an anthology before you charge more).
2.      Short Short – 1,000 – 3,000 words  -$0.00 – $0.99 (same).
3.      Short Story – 3,000 – 7,000 words - $0.99 – $1.99 
4.      Novelette – 7,000 – 20,000 words - $1.99 – $3.99
5.      Novella – 20,000 – 50,000 words - $2.99 – $5.99 
6.      Novel – 50,000 – 120,000 words - $2.99 – $7.99 (I collect books, so if I don’t get a hard copy in my hands to feel and touch and love, I have a hard time paying more than $7.99 for it)
7.      Epic or Super Novel – more than 120,000 words - $5.99 – $12.99 (if it’s really long, why not divide it into a series?)

What are your thoughts on e-book pricing? How much are you willing to spend?

Monday, January 16, 2017

7 Tips or Reminders for New and Seasoned Authors

Even if you’re self-publishing, it can be pretty difficult to get your material in front of readers. Publishers, agents, and editors are overwhelmed with thousands of manuscripts every year. With so much competition, how can you get your own work noticed, and then published?
1)      Educate Yourself – If you want to publish with a traditional publisher, get your hands on a current Writer’s Market (there is a general one, and many versions specific to each genre hereand then review works recently published by the company, or professional, you are looking into. Another great source when researching agents, editors, or publishers is Absolute Write.
2)      Follow Publishing Blogs – the metaphor “seeking a piece of the pie” still holds true in the writing industry, and the best way to do so is by studying those who have already received a slice. The best advice, lessons, and up-to-date information come from the people who work in the industry. So find a few favorite agents, editors, authors, and publisher blogs. Then follow them faithfully, but don’t allow them to overwhelm your own writing time. A few I recommend following are Rachelle Gardner, Jane Friedman, Chip MacGregor, The Insecure Writers Support Group, and Nathan Bransford
3)      Write a Great Proposal and Query – Many agents, editors, and publishers have specific goals of what they are seeking. Be sure to research their individual guidelines. However, if you want general lessons on how to write a manuscript proposal, check out this FREE download from Noah Lukeman here.
4)      Have Your Work Edited – Not many of us are capable of editing ourselves. So, whether it’s a friend who was an English major, fellow authors from your writers group, or a select group of beta readers, be sure to ask at least a few others to review your proposal, query, articles, or manuscripts. You might even consider hiring the services of a professional editor. Be sure to check out the free site Preditors & Editors, or the two sources mentioned in #1 so you know you are hiring a legitimate individual.
5)      Consider An Agent – Most of the larger and more traditional publishing houses will not review work unless it is submitted by an agent. However, there are many smaller presses, and open call periods which do not require you to be represented. Consider your goals for your manuscripts and then review the Writer’s Market or Absolute Write sites mentioned in #1 before deciding.
6)      Consider self-publishing – It’s not always the best choice, or even the easiest, but there are times when it is the right choice. For example, if you have a very specific and narrow target market, or if you just want to share shorter works in between full-length manuscripts, then this may be the choice for you. Hybrid authors (those who publish some works through traditional means, and some on their own) have become the norm. Need help deciding? Check out this article: Should You Self-Publish?
7)      Don’t Give Up – Even the most seasoned and successful authors struggle with bouts of frustration or self-doubt. We all go through periods of wanting to give up. Numerous rejections, family and work responsibilities, and so much more can slow down and interrupt your ability to create. Nothing worth having comes easily. As I reminded you last week, one of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill, "Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about."

What advice do you have for first-time or struggling authors?

Monday, January 9, 2017

10 Tips for Working With Magazines

I'm often asked how I cultivate a relationship with editors that offers me a chance to continue writing for magazines. The truth is there is no SIMPLE or quick answer. I can only offer these ten tips.

1) Do Your Research  - Whether I've been seeking publication in a specific magazine, or if the editor has reached out to me, my first goal is the same. Before putting pen to paper or words to a computer document I have to do research. I need to know the target audience of the publication, standard length of articles, angle or stance on a variety of issues, as well as their preferred formats. The best way to learn this is to obtain several copies, and read them to get a good feel for the style. This serves as a guide when writing an article for them. 

2) Discuss the Idea With the Editor First - If you have an idea for a story you should discuss it with the editor of the target magazine. Most editors are more than willing to discuss an article. So, be sure to learn whether an editor prefers to be contacted by phone or email and talk to them about your ideas. Don't forget - most editors, agents, and publishers will NOT read completed articles without a prior proposal acceptance. 

3) Submit a Proposal - Most contributor guidelines say that you must submit a proposal first by sending an email to the editor. This is so editors can steer you towards an angle they will WANT to publish. Many magazines will refuse to read articles they have not previously been contacted about because they have a limited amount of reading time. Others will reject those article because it doesn't meet their current needs. So, save yourself, and the magazine, some time by querying ideas first.


4) Listen to the Editor's Advice - The editor wants you to be a successful writer. They want to know you are a reliable professional. So, if an editor points out issues with your work, don't take it personally. They are rooting for you to provide them with successful and necessary material, just as much as you want to be published.

5) Grab the Reader - The lead of any story is the most important. No matter how good your grammar, how many details you provide, or the quality of sources you site, if you don't hook the reader immediately then nothing else you've said will matter.

6) Provide Good Images - the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" still reigns in most publications. So, be prepared to offer high quality digital photos or artwork with your article. Sometimes, the offer of these images can increase your amount of pay, or even determine if your article is published at all.

7) Submit Electronically - Most magazines in this digital era prefer to have articles and images submitted electronically. There are a number of benefits in this; it is fast and gives the editor something easy to cut, paste, copy, mark up comments, etc. Digital files increase turn over time and reduce paperwork.

8) Deliver -You will find it very difficult to get published if you renege on an article. That is, to get the go-ahead for an article after a successful proposal and not deliver the final product as or when stated. Committing to a particular article means sticking to the proposal outline and delivering the product. If you cannot meet the deadline or produce the product as proposed, then contact the editor to work out the issue. You must maintain a positive working relationship with the editor.

9) Above and Beyond - Be willing to step up and deliver work quickly. Several of the editors I work with know they can rely on me to help pull up the slack when other writers are overwhelmed. I always try to turn in my work BEFORE deadline, and am willing to take on rushed assignments. I know these facts have helped me in earning several assignments I might not have otherwise been given.

10) Multi Purpose Topics - Most magazines do not want to republish work you have done for others. They specifically request original and unpublished works from their writers. However, you can sill write several articles about the same topic, but from different angles. For instance, this month I have articles about the 2017 Super Bowl in two different publications. I wrote an article on "What Happens When the Super Bowl Comes to Your Town" for Houston Family Magazine which can be read here and an article on "How to Throw a Winning Super Bowl Party" for Thrive which can be read here.

While none of these tips can guarantee you will be published, your willingness to put in the required work will reflect a spirit of success. Never let rejections deter you. Receiving a byline followed by pay can require time and hard work. Just remember what Winston Churchill said, "Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Break the Writing Rule

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


JANUARY QUESTION: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

MY ANSWER: I hate when people say "write what you know". Some of the most interesting articles I've written have been about subjects I knew nothing about before my assignment. I enjoyed researching those topics and meeting those people. I learned a lot, and probably enjoyed writing the articles more because of it!


Also, I had never written science fiction before last year, but I ended up winning the IWSG contest and being published with nine other amazing authors! Instead of "write what you know," I say "Write what interests you."

Congratulations to this years IWSG contest winners. I didn't enter this time, but I look forward to reading your stories!

Monday, January 2, 2017

National Science Fiction Day!

Happy National Science Fiction Day!

According to Wikipedia "National Science Fiction Day is unofficially celebrated by many science fiction fans in the United States on January 2, a date that was chosen to correspond with the official birth date of famed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.[1] While not an official holiday of any sort (in the sense that it is not recognized or declared by any government), National Science Fiction Day is given some degree of credence by its recognition by organizations such as the Hallmark Channel[2] and by the Scholastic Corporation.[3]"

Many stores (such as 2nd & Charles) are starting to recognize the holiday, and celebrate this entire week with special events or discounts.

Are you a science fiction fan? How are you celebrating National Science Fiction Day?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!


I hope you are all enjoying a happy, healthy, and safe New Years holiday!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

I won't be online much for the next two weeks as we'll be enjoying some family and holiday fun. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!