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Archive for the ‘plans’ Category

Refined Cunning Plan

Okay.  After thinking about it a lot and discussing things with some other people, I think I need to refine my plan.  Because of what I already have out, and my writing schedule for the rest of the year, there’s really no way to pull off my dueling genres experiment in anything resembling scientific fashion.

So I’m morphing the plan.  One of the things people constantly try to bring up as a point against putting up ebooks is that there will soon be too many on the market and no one but people with huge marketing dollars behind them will be read.  I have a few things to say about this.

One: Soon? Really? There are hundreds of thousands of ebooks available for Kindle.  There are millions of paperback books available as well through Amazon and other retailers.  Soon has happened. I think it happened a while ago (maybe before I was born in the paperback world).

Two:  How do readers find books now? Word of mouth. Reviews. Search terms and product tags. Etc.  Advertisements aren’t very high on the lists I’ve seen about how readers find things to read.  Putting up a shit load of good books will probably also help, since each one becomes a gateway, a chance for a reader to find you and like your stuff enough to go looking for more.

I tested the waters in ebooks with a few short stories in a genre I don’t write much in (literary) under a name that I don’t use except on legal documents (and now that I’m married, not even those).  No promotion, no history, nothing.  Those stories still outsell my SF/F stories every single freaking month.  Seriously.

But still, anyone following this blog will know that my numbers aren’t exactly buying me more than groceries.  They aren’t covering the rent yet.  SF/F isn’t a popular genre (especially not science fiction, sorry guys. We’ve got like what, 7% of the fiction market?).

So I’m morphing my experiment.  I’m going to try to test two things with one stone, so to speak.  I’m going to write three pulp-era length novels (60-70k words each) and put them up under a pen name that I’m not going to tell anyone about (well, other than my editor and my cover guy- for obvious reasons).  I will let them sit until Jan. 2013 and then report the results.  The reason I’m waiting until 2013 to report is that I don’t think I’ll have time to write the three books until Jan or Feb 2012, so I’d like to give them at least 6-8 months on the market.  So the experiment is put off a little, sorry.

But the good? news is that I’ll still be writing and releasing novellas in the SF/F genres and in Romance, just on a slightly different timetable than my previous experiment.

In other news- one week until Clarion.  Maybe I should think about packing?

I Have a Plan

A cunning plan. How cunning? You could tie a tail on it and call it a weasel. (Yes, I’m sort of quoting Black Adder. I’m that old.)

As I’ve been watching my sales and reading about the sales of others in this brave new e-book world, I’ve noticed some interesting trends.  I’ve watched people promote their little hearts out and then cry about no sales.  I’ve watched people stick up what I like to call “ugly” books (bad cover, bad blurb etc) and cry about no sales.  I’ve watched books I would think were the slightly better-looking cousins of “ugly” books sell like crazy.  I’ve watched books that were actually “ugly” books in disguise sell better than things I thought were actually worth reading.  I’ve watched as my literary short stories under a name with zero internet profile out-sell my SF/F titles 5 and sometimes 10 to 1.

Basically… no one knows what will sell and why.  We’ve got the four principles that Konrath and others go by: Good Book, Good Cover, Good Blurb, Low Price.  I’ve seen plenty of titles with the magic four sell very few copies.  Maybe they will be slower to take off, maybe those writers need to just keep at it and good things will happen (what one might call the DWS principle.)  I don’t know.

One thing I would add to the above however, is “write in a popular genre”.  Now, one might argue that good writing will find an audience, and I believe that.  But would you rather aim at an audience of thousands, or hundreds of thousands?  Does genre really matter?  It’s hard to say.  Mystery and Romance are very popular genres, but there are also a ton of books written in those genres  (Romance on Kindle has more books than Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror combined).  Chicken, egg, right?

But hey, what would be the point of experimenting in this awesome new world if I couldn’t run some tests.  So here’s what I’m planning:

I’m going to write ten novellas (20-30k words each).  Five in SF/F and five in Romance.  When all ten are done (by end of September, hopefully), I’ll stick them all up online at the same time, for the same price.  I intend to do zero promotion of the titles for six months (other than mentioning them here so that people will know when the experiment goes live).  I would say that the Romance ones would be at a disadvantage since they won’t be under the name that has an internet presence, but my lit fic doesn’t seem to suffer from being under a pen name so I’m going to rule that the name doesn’t matter (it isn’t like I’m anybody anyway).  I will do my best to make sure each novella has an awesome cover, a great blurb, and is of course an awesome book.  And then I’ll sit back and watch and see how the numbers do.

My prediction, right now? The Romances will out-sell the SF/F titles 10-1.  That’s my early prediction.

See? Isn’t this new world fun?  All kinds of crazy experiments to run! *grin*

May Summary

May was tumultuous for me.  A lot of things happened (like depressingly turning 30) and I had a lot of difficulty adjusting my writing schedule to deal with my husband’s sudden unemployment (he was laid off at the end of April).  My writing nose-dived (as you’ll see from my stats below).  I was just getting into the groove again and finding some momentum when I lost my Grandfather yesterday morning.  I found out he was going rapidly downhill (he’d been sick, then was much better, then suddenly very sick again) on Sunday and managed to finish my novel but not much else this weekend.  I feel sad and a little scattered.  Hopefully I’ll be able to just write through this and keep momentum up (I didn’t write at all Monday or yesterday).

Anyway, here’s the stats for May.  In the ebook world, it was a pretty good month.  I sold over twice the number of copies in May as in April, though not for twice the monies.  Here are the numbers:

Ebooks sold: 84

Stories sold (trad publishing): 1

Novels sold(trad publishing): 0

Writing monies earned: 80.11 (all from ebook sales)

Words written: 19879

Ebooks released: 3 short stories, 1 short story collection

Novels finished: 1

Race score: 39

It’s interesting to see the progression of sales as I get things up.  I’m pretty much a total unknown, but if I held off from putting things online as some advise, I’d be missing out on hundreds of dollars.  I’m broke enough that 20 bucks a month extra makes a difference.  50 bucks? That’s a week or more of groceries. 80 bucks? That’s groceries and the phone bill.  My sales might be tiny when compared to people like Hocking, Locke, and Konrath, but they are growing.  And it is money that comes from work that didn’t sell, for whatever reason, to magazines and trad publishers.  Work that readers enjoy, but yet would have been tucked away in the proverbial trunk in the old world of publishing.

Want to see how sales build for an unknown?  Here’s my stats so far:

July 2010- put up 3 literary short stories under a name that has no publishing history (not that I had any name with history anyway) and sold- 3 copies

Aug 2010- took down one of those 3 because I sold it to a magazine, so 2 stories up- 4 copies

Sept 2010- (2 short stories up)- 3 copies

Oct 2010- (2 short stories up)- 4 copies

Nov 2010- (2 short stories up)- 2 copies

Dec 2010- (Put the sold short back up when rights reverted)- 12 copies

Jan 2011- (released an sf collection under Bellet name, so collection + 3 shorts)- 17 copies

Feb 2011- (released an sf novella, so that plus collection + 3 literary shorts)- 18 copies

March 2011- (released fantasy novel, +collection, +novella, + 3 literary shorts)- 39 copies

April 2011- (novel + collection + novella + 3 literary shorts)- 34 copies

May 2011- (released 3 more shorts, 2 fantasy, 1 literary, + novel etc)- 84 copies

What will June hold? No idea. I just released a second short story collection, this time all fantasy stories.  I might have some romance novellas ready under another name to go up by end of June, but that will depend.  So far growth is steady and as long as that continues, I’m happy enough.  After all, groceries and phone bills paid are nothing to sneeze at.

And in final bright news as I go into June, my Kickstarter project to help fund Clarion is now funded.  It won’t cover all of Clarion, but it certainly helps take a lot of burden off me.  I am super thankful to everyone who made the project funding happen and I will write you all amazing stories at Clarion, I swear.  I hope that “Souvenirs from Other Worlds” will be my best work to date once I’m finished with it (and Clarion, after all, the whole point is to go learn to be an ever better writer).  So thank you, all of you.

New Stuffs and a Sale

I am pleased to announce that I have sold a short story titled “Nevermind the Bollocks” to the new monthly anthology series Digital Science Fiction.  The story should be out in their second installment, so sometime this summer I think.  This is my fourth pro-rate sale and, counting reprints, my seventh overall sale in the two and a half years I’ve been doing this.  I hope this is a sign that between the books I’ve been studying, the workshops I’ve been doing, and the writing practice itself, that I’m still growing and improving.

I also have finally posted a collection of fantasy short fiction, which is will be available soon on Kindle and Nook and is already through the new, streamlined Smashwords grinder.

Here’s the cover:

It includes eight of my fantasy stories.  More information can be found by clicking on the picture or you can get it directly from Smashwords by going here.

As for writing, well, I’m doing better. The novel is literally one working session away from done.  I’m dropping my better half off at the airport today and then I’ll have almost three full days to get work done with zero social distractions.  My top priority is to finish the novel and then finish the story I owe for the Mirror Shards anthology.  Then it’s on to outlining the sequel to A Heart in Sun & Shadow and getting some other short fiction done as a warm-up to Clarion.

Speaking of Clarion, I’m starting to get excited and nervous about it.  As we get ever closer to the start date and things begin to get sorted out like travel plans and housing, it feels more and more like this isn’t something abstract.  And hey, at this point I don’t think I got in on an administrative mistake, since no one has corrected it yet.  My Kickstarter project has only five days left, but it is pretty close to getting funded (only a few hundred left!) so I’m hopeful that the money will come through.  The outpouring of both financial and emotional support by my friends and my fellow writers has really touched me.  I thank all of you and I’m going to work my ass off at Clarion to make sure I don’t waste this opportunity.

So that’s what is going on with me.  Lots of work, not a whole lot of blogging, sorry.  I’ll do my usual monthly round-up next Tuesday (e-book sales have been pretty good to me this month, yay).

Post #200

Yep. I’ve written 200 blog posts now just on this blog.  What have I been doing with my life? *grin*

Here’s what I haven’t been doing.  Writing.  I’ve poked and prodded at a couple short stories. I’ve added a few pages (and removed a few pages) from my current novel project.  But mostly, I’ve been reading. I’ve been hanging out with my unemployed husband and playing videogames.  I’ve been going for walks and planning and replanning things in my head.  I’ve been doing admin work updating stories, covers, files, getting stuff linked properly, etc.  I’ve been getting rejections and sending stuff out again despite feeling like a kicked dog over and over.

None of which is writing. Not really.  My schedule got totally messed up when my husband lost his job.  I knew there would have to be some adjustments there, since I need my quiet time and space to get work done.  Before, I usually wrote between 11am and about 5-6pm (not straight through, I like my breaks) when I had the whole house to myself and everything was quiet.  Now…not so much.  Music is on in the other room. Or Anime. Or I just sit at my desk and know that my best friend in the whole damn world is right outside my room and instead of doing this work stuff, I can just go out there and spend time with my favorite person on earth even if all we’ll end up doing is curling up together and reading.

On the one hand, this isn’t so bad. I mean, hey, I get to spend a ton of time with someone I love.  On the other hand, we’ve both been somewhat lazy these last few weeks (though I’ve been pretty good about letting him have computer time to job hunt, but if he’s on the computer, I’m not, which means more excuse to NOT write).

It’s an adjustment.  I think I’ll have to just start carving out more hours.  I’m aiming for 20 pages a day finished, but I’ve really only been getting anything done at all while he’s either asleep or at Jujitsu (which is how I’m even getting this blog written).  So yeah, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet lately.  Between trying to get what I can done and then also not really being at the computer much, I’ve been a bit AWOL.

And I’ll probably still keep being fairly AWOL until Clarion (and during Clarion? I don’t know if I’ll blog the experience. I’m hoping I’ll blog a bit at least).  I’m not horribly behind on my writing schedule, which is surprising to me, but if I finish Avarice this week, I’ll only be a week behind.  I owe a couple short stories to anthologies, so those are also on the top of the to-do list.  Being a week behind means finishing only 4 novellas instead of 5 before I go, but I can live with that. I’ll be halfway through the novellas for this one series by the time I leave, plus have my anthology stories turned in and hopefully one or two other stories out to market (I’ve got three that are partially written and just waiting on me to focus and write the rest).

20 pages a day.  3 are done for today already, with 17 more to go.  I’ve got three hours before my distraction gets home from jits.   Go go go.

April in Summary

April was a wonky month due to life rolls (my husband lost his job) and workshops.  But it was a good month for learning and a decent month for writing, though I fell short of my ever lofty goal of 100k words.

Here’s the stats:

Ebooks published: 2

Money earned from writing: 68 (48 from ebooks, 20 from reprint sale of a short story)

Words written: 52,307

May is going to be a busy month. I have another neo-pro interview lined up (should be up in the next week), I turn 30 (oh noes!), and I have three novels to finish, two of which should go up in May depending on cover art.  I will hopefully have a couple more short stories online as well as possibly a collection.  Clarion funding is coming together thanks to a couple of angels in my life, but I’m still going to try a Kickstarter project to get the rest of what I need so that I can maybe lean on my angels a little less.  Besides, my Kickstarter project idea is just neat, it’d be a shame to not at least try it.

That’s that for April.  I learned a great deal this month and I’ve learned some new ways to study as well.  I hope that going forward my writing will be even stronger.  My toolbox certainly has some new additions for me to play with.  May will be a good month.

Clarion Funding Part Deux

All right. A couple weeks ago my awesome blog readers chimed in with funding ideas for how to get me to Clarion.  I then hung out in limbo waiting to see how much (if any) scholarship monies I might get and to find out what my final bill is.  In that time I’ve been putting together some plans for how to raise money that now I get to put into motion.

Limbo is over.  The bill is in and my life becomes like the plot of a bad TV movie. *movie voice-over voice* One girl. A dream. A career-changing experience. 2 weeks. 4,107 dollars.

(Of course, if this were a bad TV movie, some guy named Bruno or Hutch or Segei would come break my legs if I didn’t come up with the money, so I’m a step up on that one I guess).

In the immediate short term, I will probably have to take out a loan or something to that effect.  Which would cure the initial issue, but won’t cure the whole “don’t actually have the money” problem since loans have to get paid back.

So, initially what can be done to help are these things:

Buy my books! I have a fantasy novel which was professionally edited and is pretty darn good.  You can find the information for it here:  A Heart in Sun and Shadow.  If I sell 1300 copies of that, I’m golden.

I also have a science fiction short story collection which contains mostly stories that got honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest.  And I have a near-future science fiction novelette/novella (14,000 words) that also got an honorable mention in the contest.  If I sell about 2000 copies of those, I’m golden as well.

If you’ve bought my books or they don’t look like your cup of tea, a boost in my signal would be appreciated.  Maybe a friend reads this sort of thing?  Please though, don’t spam on my behalf.  Annoying people will not make them want to help me (which is why this blog post and the one on my Kickstarter project will likely be the only mention I make about this besides a Thank You! follow-up if/when I hit my goal)

I will also be starting Kickstarter project, mostly likely involving making a book out of my Clarion stories (the ones I’m going to write while there) and perhaps some extras.  I will make a separate post when that happens.

To everyone who has boosted my signal already, or offered up ideas, or bought my books, you have my sincere thanks.  With your help, I’m closer to my goal of going to Clarion than I would have been without it.  Thank you for your support 🙂

Learning and Spring Plans

I’ve been reading some really good stuff on story, plotting, and outlines lately.  I have always felt, personally, that plotting is where I run into issues.  I can handle simple plots (straightforward quests, zomg must run or die now sorts of things) but don’t really have a handle on how to write something super epic or how to keep things so tight the reader can’t breathe for fear something will happen in the book and they’ll miss it on the exhale.

But I’m learning.  I don’t like not knowing things so I’ve set out to fill in some of my writer knowledge gaps.  As always, I have a plan. (Am I the only one who hears Black Adder in my head whenever I say that or hear someone say that? No?)  Book 1 in my Law & Order with swordfights series is almost done.  After that, I’m going to try to get the other three done and to the editor before Clarion.  Hopefully I can manage to get the second book in the Chwedl duology finished by Clarion also, because I’d like to focus solely on short fiction while there.

So here’s my modified schedule for this spring:

Avarice – finished by April 10th
Wrath- finished by April 30th
Hunger- finished by May14th
Vainglory- finished by May 28th
The Raven King- Finished by the time I leave for Clarion (around June 25th)

As for plotting, here are some of the books I’ve been reading:

Save the Cat and Save the Cat Goes to the Movies by Blake Snyder

The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat

I got Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and the Breakout Novel Workbook out of the library as well.  I also picked up The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by R. A. Salvatore and Philip Athans because I heart Salvatore and wanted to see what he said about writing the fantastic.  So far the book is very basic, but interesting.

I mention all this because I know that when I do bother to blog, I tend to talk about goals and numbers more than the actual work itself and what my daily job entails.  But, personally, I find the details of what I do pretty boring.  I mean, I get up, I read some stuff, I write some stuff, I read more stuff, I might make notes about things I want to work on or some such, etc.  It’s… well, a job.  Writing is fun, but the creation part is the fun part and it’s hard to talk about that in any real way because it’s easier to just point at the created work and be like “yeah, I did that”.  But I think just posting goals and such leads to it looking like I’m sitting in the dark beating up a keyboard.  There’s a whole lot more that goes into me writing and improving my craft besides the practice part.

Now, mind you, all the study in the world won’t improve my writing if I’m not doing the practice and putting in the writing itself as well.  It’s like what I pointed out with Starcraft 2 a while back.  I watch tons of SC2 games and can talk the theory with the best of the best (you know, same as any dedicated sport fan *grin*) but I can’t PLAY SC2 worth a damn because I haven’t put in the practice.  Writing is the same way.  Read books, soak up knowledge, and then GO USE IT.

That’s why I’m trying to get four books written before the end of June.  I want to take these things I’m studying and put them to use.  These books are a good way to do that since they all will require tight plotting, are set in worlds I already have mapped out and researched (so I don’t need to lose any writing time on world creation) and I’ve got the basic stories in my head already with characters and structure, so they should be fairly quick to outline once I get my new methods worked out.  The books are for study, the novels I’m writing are for the practical part.  I think of it as Class Time (reading about writing and studying other novels that have worked) and Lab Time (putting what I have learned into practice through practical, hands-on application).

So that’s the plan and I’m (maybe) sticking to it! 😉

Writers of the Future Q1 2011 Results

I got a Silver Honorable Mention for my story. My first Silver HM, so that’s something I suppose. I figured this story was HM level sort of thing, so it did better than I expected. My story for Q2 is, I think, going to be a Semi-finalist. I believe it is really good, but it might have a flaw that won’t work for the contest. We’ll see.

I have a couple more neo-pro interviews to post this week so the blog won’t be totally neglected while I finish this novel. I’ve been reading books on writing and reading tons of short stories lately. I have all sorts of plans, but I’m torn between what to do and what order to do it in. We’ll see. I might be posting a revised writing schedule for the year here soon.

March in Summary

This month was terrible for writing.  Terrible.  Good things happened (like getting accepted to Clarion) but in general, I failed it hard.  The high point besides Clarion is that I’m selling more and more ebooks every month.

Here are my pathetic stats:

Words written: 21,648

Stories sold: 0

Stories finished: 1 (and a few starts)

Novels finished: 0 (almost one! Soon!)

E-books money earned: 42.86 (almost double last month, yay!)

New e-book projects finished and released: 1

So that’s that for the month. April will be better.  I have three romance novellas to write, a handful of short stories to finish, and a week-long intensive workshop on Character Voice to attend (that’s going to kick my butt, but everyone who has taken it says that it pushed their fiction to a whole new level and that’s what I’m always looking to do).