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Archive for the ‘plans’ Category

Quickie Update Again

Hey, I’m in the middle of finishing up my Writers of the Future Q2 story and putting the last couple of chapters of the first Pyrrh novel together. So that’s why it has been quiet around here.

There will be more Clarion news soon, I’m working on a couple projects that I’ll be offering up to help fund my crazy workshop adventures.  Until then, I leave you with an interview about my fantasy novel A Heart in Sun and Shadow by the awesome David Wiseheart and his Kindle Authors blog:  Find the interview here.

So…more later this week. Meanwhile, back to work!

101 Ways to Get Me to Clarion

Okay. So as pretty much anyone reading this blog knows, I’m a full time writer.  A neo-pro full time writer, which means that writing income is spotty at best.  My wonderful husband pays the rent (and health insurance) but we live on the line between broke and poor in order for me to have the time to work on my craft and build my writing into a real career.

So now I have an amazing opportunity to pursue another learning experience that will help build my career: Clarion.  Clarion is not free, however.  I have to pay the workshop fee (no word yet on scholarship monies, I applied though, so hopefully I’ll hear something soon) and I have to get airfare to go to San Diego and home again six weeks later (airfare shouldn’t be too bad, since I live in PDX.  I am fortunate not to be someone coming in from the East Coast or overseas).  We’ve been saving some money, but if I have to pay the full Clarion tuition fee plus airfare, I’m doomed.

I won’t let doomed stop me.  It’s a state I’m used to.  But I will take (non-illegal!) suggestions for how to raise money quickly.  Be as zany as you want.  I’m willing to try anything that doesn’t break the law or compromise my personal health or safety (or anyone else’s, for that matter).

I also have some e-books for sale.  Please consider getting one if it catches your interest or recommending them to others who might enjoy science fiction or fantasy.  Here’s the link: http://overactive.wordpress.com/read-my-fiction/

So how about it, blog readers? What suggestions for making money quickly do you have for me? Bring it on in the comments.  Let’s see if we can get to 101.

Clarion SD

It used to be called Clarion East, but got moved to San Diego, so yeah, I’m going with Clarion SD for now (or UCSD? Maybe?).  Anyway, I got accepted.  I’m crazy excited.  This is especially amusing considering my agony over whether to even apply or not and the fallout from that and then finally my decision to apply to Clarion SD.

Frankly, I didn’t think I’d get in.  Not because my writing sucks (it doesn’t) but because “not sucking” is not enough.  Hundreds if not more people apply each year and they only take 18. The math just wasn’t in my favor.  But with the instructor list I couldn’t resist applying.  I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t try.

I tried. I succeeded. Crazy.  I’m still reeling. For the first couple days I figured it was a mistake, they’d mixed me up with someone else.  But that seems to have not been the case.  It seems even in success the self-doubts that plague me still stick around, heh.

I don’t know about scholarship money yet. I’m only panicking a little.  My husband and I talked it over and we’re going to do whatever we have to.  I want this. This is the point in my career that Clarion will likely be of most value for me.  I am big on continuing education and this is a huge opportunity to further my writing and my network of writer friends.

So yeah. I’m going to go dance or something and then go write like crazy because I need to sell some more stories. Meanwhile, if you want to help… I do have some e-books for sale.  The links are in the “read my fiction” sidebar.  Every penny helps and will go toward Clarion at this point.  Thank you to those who have already bought (I crossed the 100 e-books sold mark at some point early this month) and to those while will in the future.  It really does help.

Ok. Time to put on some Amanda Palmer and dance around a little. And then I’m going to work.

I Really Should Post…

I keep staring at the blog, knowing I should post *something* new because it has been over a week.  But what I really really really want to post about, I’m not allowed to talk about yet.  This is one of the downsides to being a writer, I guess.  Sometimes really cool things are going on and you just can’t say a word about it until you have someone else’s okay.  Grr.  So yeah, how’s that for a tease? I have pretty BIG news (at least, I think it is a pretty big thing) and I can’t share it.  Yet.  I will as soon as I can.

So… what to talk about? Mostly life lately has been finishing up Avarice (also known as the Law & Order with swordfights book 1) and outlining a few other projects (a series of eight romance novellas I’m writing).  Hopefully, Avarice will be off to an editor and my first readers at the end of next week.  This weekend I’m going to write my Q2 entry for WotF.  Next weekend I’m going to write a steampunk short story to submit to the Mammoth Book of Steampunk and finish doing research for another project I probably shouldn’t talk about yet.

Because of that other thing I can’t talk about (the BIG thing), I’m probably going to rearrange my novel schedule for this year as well.  And I’ve been looking into things like Kickstarter and debating doing a project for that and seeing if I could fund it that way.  The Casimir trilogy might work for it, now that I’ve solved the POV issues in the first book and can write it in a way that makes sense.  If it didn’t get funded I could always serialize it here on my blog and then do an ebook/POD version later.  I think the trilogy has great potential, so we’ll see.

So yeah, crappy little update, sorry.  I’ll be getting another interview or two up in the next few weeks.  I’ll also post the new project schedule once I’ve got it hammered out.  But hey, update!

Now I better go write…

February Wrap-up

Short month, went quickly.

I started, deleted, started again, and didn’t finish a novel this month. But I’ve solved how to finish it and now need to start over one final time. This annoying process underlined how important having the right point of view in a book really is (the POV issues were what was stalling me out in the middle, thankfully I figured that out before giving up forever).

Words written this month: approximately 72,000
Words discarded/deleted this month: about 34,000 (this number will GO AWAY next month. Seriously going to stop doing that. Seriously)
Ebook earnings: 22.75 (just slightly less than last month, yay!)

For March, I’ve got two novels to go up as e-pub. I need to get on the POD/Createspace thing and learn how to do that and get print copies out. I’m also going to start the sequel to a book while working on the SF novel (now that POV issues are solved). I’m behind on the Write one/Sub one challenge, so I’m going to try to get seven or eight stories done this month as well to catch up. And I’d like to finish one of the romance novellas. I’m debating on waiting until all eight are done to start putting them up, but we’ll see. I might wait until I have three or four, then start putting them up every couple weeks.

Meanwhile, today I’m going to be approving copy edits and generally taking it easy. Just got back from an amazing week of workshops and really need a little brain break before I start writing for the week.

Ebooks January

Hey, why not? I love it when other people talk frankly about the money, so I’ve made it my policy to do the same, for good or ill.  It’s tough starting a new business, which is what I’m doing with writing.  Today marks the two year anniversary to my “get serious about writing for a living” day.

In January I released a short fiction collection as epub and had my best month ever, earning a whopping $22.95 (whoops, forgot initially to count B&N and Smashwords into this, yay extra money).  Who knows if that’s a fluke or if it’ll pick up from here.  I’m planning on releasing a novel this month (if I ever get this other novel finished so I can have time for something other than writing).  Novels supposedly sell better than short fiction, so we’ll see.

Also, I received an amazing review of my collection from Alex J Kane.  I’m sort of in awe of people who can write up their ideas and opinions on a work in a way that really talks about things instead of just being a “durr, I liked this” or “gah, can’t stand this”, which is what I normally end up thinking about things I read (I am the world’s WORST reviewer, which is why you won’t see many reviews from me, just recommendations on occasion).  Anyway, if you want to read the awesome review of “The Spacer’s Blade & Other Stories”, do so here at Alex’s blog.  And if you like what you read, well, I’m always up for having a better February than January any day.

And with that. Back to writing.  11 days left. Meep.

15 Days

This novel (currently standing at 7,300 words) is due on the 15th of this month.  15 days.  (I’m shipping out the query package tomorrow).  I need about 72,000 words more to have it be a decent (re: marketable) length.

15 days. 72,000 words. 4,800 words a day.  Go!

So yeah, I’ll probably be fairly absent from my blog for the next two weeks.  But some cool things are coming (more interviews, a fantasy novel released via Doomed Muse Press).  Meanwhile, I gotta write.

The Streak Begins

So the writing in shifts thing has been working out pretty good except for one tiny issue.  I keep working on one thing.  Despite my brain being fully capable and willing to write two (or ten) things, apparently once I get into my groove, it wants to finally settle down.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  I am learning my limitations, however.  Like that it takes me realistically six weeks instead of four to write a novel because I like to goof off and procrastinate and do all manner of things that aren’t writing.  Or that I don’t really like working more than 4 hours a day (some days, I do.  Some days the words and flowing and I’m on a roll and don’t want to stop, so I don’t).  Four hours (broken up into a couple shifts) of writing brand new fiction feels pretty good.  I usually get 3-5k words done in those four hours, which is a totally acceptable pace for my goals.

So I’ve decided to start a streak, a writing streak.  I’m going to write every day for at least 20 minutes.  I find writing is like exercise, I don’t necessarily feel up to it instantly, but usually once I’m doing it I feel pretty good and want to keep going.  I’m usually less focused and more distracted on weekends (weekends being when my husband and cat and stuff want my attention most).  But I’m going to keep my streak up.  Every day. Every. Day. 20 minutes minimum.

I’ve also decided what I’m going to do during my streak.  I’m going to focus my efforts this year on the various novel series I already have going.  I’ve set up a calendar of novels and deadlines because I work best to deadlines.  Most of these books are already outlined.  I intend to use weekends for short story writing so that my short story submissions don’t fall behind and because shorts are awesome.  One and done.  One day (sometimes two) and I’m finished.  They are very satisfying.  When stuck in the middle of a novel, it is nice to remember what finishing something feels like, so I like to do short stories to mix things up.

So here’s the rough deadline schedule:

Wrath (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 2): March 19th

The Raven King (Cymru that Could Be: Book 2): April 29th

Delilah in Paradise: June 10th

Beyond Casimir (Lorian Archive: Book 2): July 22nd

Casimir Rising (Lorian Archive: Book 3): September 2nd

Hunger (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 3): September 23rd

The City is Still Hungry (A Remy Pigeon mystery): November 4th

Vainglory (Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 4): November 25th

Delilah in Hell: December 30th

The Slow Beat Down (A Remy Pigeon mystery): February 10th, 2012

Sindra’s Storm (possibly a duology): March 23rd, 2012

So that’s the schedule.  Unless, of course, a giant wrench gets thrown in it due to either success (like a contract or two) or disaster (but hey, I could still type in a hospital bed, so I’m good, right?).  And of course keep the streak up and hopefully get 52 stories written and submitted.  I’ve done two shorts so far this year.  I’m a little behind.

Go go gadget streak writer *grin*

E-book Pricing

All right.  I’m going to take a stab at this issue.  But first, a lot of caveats.

1) I don’t think that price, once under a certain threshold, matters as much as a lot of “indie” authors think it does.  My personal feeling is that time is better spent writing more books and doing some targeted marketing (like sending out review copies) than messing around with price on books.

2) My personal threshold for ebooks is that the price be below the available paper version’s cost (ie if the book is out in hardback for 27, the ebook should be less than that (I prefer under 10 bucks, but I’ll pay up to 15 for an ebook I really, really want if the paper version costs more).  If the book is out as a paperback for 7.99, the ebook should be less than that, say 6.99 or something).  I am perhaps still clinging to my love of paper books on this, however.  Personally, as someone who buys a good amount of books, that’s my threshold.  If I want a book RIGHT NOW but it is two bucks more for the Kindle version than the paper one, well, I generally hold off and either order the book or go to a bookstore.

3) All that said, when you become a publisher, which is what putting your own books out yourself or with the help of a start-up small publisher (ie a conglomerate of your friends, which is what mine is), you do have to price your books somewhere and decide on a range and general guidelines so that you look consistent and your readers know what to expect.  You have to pick a price with each new title and it helps, I think anyway, to have a basic idea of where you are pricing things.

4) Basically what I found is that ebook pricing varies a great deal and it varies a lot by genre (not as much by length, once you get away from short stories.  I found plenty of novellas priced more or less the same as novels, for example).  In an ink and paper bookstore, books are priced (unless on sale or sold used) by the format.  A hardcover will always be in the 24.99-28.99 range no matter the genre.  If I walk to the Mystery section and pick up a mass market paperback, it will likely be 7.99 (sometimes 6.99, but usually these days 7.99).  I can then walk over to Science Fiction and pick up a mass market paperback and it will also be 7.99.  Ebooks are different and I find that very interesting.  I don’t know what it means yet, if anything, but I do think that I’ll be looking at pricing more by genre than any other factor.

So for my totally unscientific study, I decided to look at the genres I’m planning to put out books and stories in and see what the pricing looked like.  First I checked the top 100 bestsellers in each category and marked down where the prices fell for those.  Then I did a very, very rough general price look-up to see where the numbers of books in each price range fell in each genre.  Again, these numbers were as of yesterday and are not exact.  This is just a rough overview, not a deeply scientific study.  All of these are Amazon.com only.  I haven’t looked at B&N pricing, though I might, nor have I looked too much at Smashwords yet.  So far all but one of my sales on my tester short stories have been through Amazon (Amazon.uk accounts for most of them, strangely. I guess they like literary short fiction?), so that’s what I studied first since for the moment, they still have a large portion of the ebook market.

Here’s what the rough breakdowns looked like:

Romance top 100:  43 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 27 books between 3.00 and 5.99, 19 priced between 6.00 and 7.99, 8 books priced between 8.00 and 9.99, and the remaining three priced over 10.00.  The rough pricing distribution among all Kindle books in the Romance category was about 3,250 in the .99 to 2.99 range, 3500 in the 3-4.99 range, 4050 in the 5-9.99 range, and 1200 priced over 10.00.    So the bestselling books are definitely weighted to the lower end of that, for whatever it means (correlation is not causation, after all).

Romance novellas (what I plan on writing, so I did this sub-category even though it isn’t really one even on Amazon) broke down roughly like this (I only looked at top 100 for this category):  There were 18 novellas priced at .99, 7 novellas priced 1-1.99, 31 novellas priced 2-2.99, 17 priced 3-3.99, 11 priced 4-4.99, 7 priced 5-5.99, and the other nine were price over 6.00.  These are of course a self-selecting category since if the publisher didn’t identify the book length as novella, it wouldn’t have shown up using the search parameters I used.

Mystery top 100:  36 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 6 books priced between 3.00 and 4.99, 22 priced between 5.00 and 6.99, 25 priced between 7.00 and 8.99, 8 priced between 9 and 9.99, and the remaining three priced over 10.00.  The rough pricing distribution among all Mystery books on Kindle (and it is by far the biggest genre category I looked at) broke down roughly like this:  7,050 books priced .99 to 2.99, 6,400 priced 3-4.99, 7,100 priced 5-8.99, 4,700 priced 9-9.99, and 3,400 priced over 10.00 (the bulk of that priced between 10 and 20 dollars).

Police Procedural subgenre of Mystery top 100:  25 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 8 priced 3-4.99, 49 priced 5-7.99, 15 priced 8-9.99, and the remaining three over 10.  The general pricing breakdown for all books listed under Police Procedurals was 546 priced between .89 and 2.99, 264 priced between 3 and 4.99, and the bulk of the rest priced in the 5-7.99 range.  I wasn’t able to get good numbers on this due to the way I was searching (Amazon kept mixing in prices that weren’t in my search designation, probably due to their discounting? I’m not sure).  My rough look though showed a great deal of the books in this category listed at 6.99 and 7.99.

Science Fiction top 100: 39 books priced between .89 and 2.99, 10 priced between 3-4.99, 29 priced 5-6.99, 19 priced 7-9.99, and three over 10.  The overall breakdown was approximately 1,600 books between .99 and 2.99, 700 priced 3-4.99, 290 priced 5-6.99, 550 priced 7-9.99, and about 300 over 10.00.

Fantasy top 100: 29 books priced .89-2.99, 8 priced 3-4.99, 43 priced 5-7.99, 11 priced 8-9.99, and the remaining nine priced over 10.00.  The overall pricing looked like this: 1,500 books priced .99 to 2.99, 1300 priced 3-4.99, 2,200 priced 5-9.99, 300 priced between 10 and 20.

So that’s the basic data I collected.  My searches, other than the novella one, did not weed out short stories or take length into consideration at all.  I looked at genre numbers and pricing and at the top 100 bestseller lists at the moment of the search.  That allows for a lot of variance and other factors in this, but I just wanted a rough overview of pricing on ebooks.

What have I learned and/or decided?  Genre does seem to matter.  Science Fiction and Romance both had lower trending prices than the other genres I looked at.  There also seems to be a strange “deadzone” in the 3-4.99 range on a lot of those top 100 lists that isn’t always reflected in the number of books priced there.  Are readers avoiding books priced in that range?  Could the .99-2.99 book buyers be a whole different set of buyers than the 5.00 and up crowd?  I’ve noticed from looking at Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” sections that people who’ve bought .99 books tend to buy a lot of other .99 books.  I’m not sure what that means, if anything, but I think it is interesting to think about.  When I’m selling my books, who are my targeted customers?  I joke with my friends that the only thing I look for in a reader is recidivism.

I think when I put books up for my small press, I’ll definitely be pricing by genre and using what I’ve found in this data to decide.  For Romance, and specifically Romance novellas, it seems as long as I stay in the 2-4 dollar range, I’m right in the expected price range given the pricing of books on the bestseller list.  For the Fantasy Police Procedural books (yeah, that’s crossing genres, yay ebooks and being able to put things under more than one category), I think I’ll aim for the 5-6.99 range.  For straight mystery, probably aim at the same range.  For Science Fiction the price trend seems lower, but I don’t want to be in the 3-4.99 deadzone either.  More books in Sci/fi were priced in the 5-9.99 range than below 2.99 (48 vs 39), so I’ll probably take a chance and position the books on the lower end of the higher range.  Short story collections seem like an all over the place no-man’s land and I wasn’t even able to get good data on them, so I’ll probably go with genre pricing on those.

Again, no one really knows how ebook pricing will shake out or where the various prices will settle.  Length might become more of a factor, but it is difficult to see how long a book is on the Kindle. File sizes and location numbers can be way off based on things other than book length.  I’m going to make sure that if a book is less than 45k words or so that the descriptions reflect this so a reader knows they are buying a novella or short stories, etc.

But in the end, the price matters a lot less than other things.  If the books I publish aren’t any good and aren’t packaged well (good covers, good descriptions, good samples), they won’t sell at any price.  That’s what I’m going to focus my energies on.  More books, better books, great packaging.

New Plan, Same as Old Plan

Well, mostly the same as the old plan.  I’ve noticed that one of my issues with writing is that I have too many ideas.  I don’t get the traditional form of writer’s block (ie not knowing/having anything to write about), but I get the reverse of that.  And it does slow me down and sometimes stop me entirely.

What I’ve noticed the last couple months is that I write in shifts.  I’ll write for an hour or two and then take a break (breaks often lasting a couple of hours) and then go work again.  Starting today, I’ve decided to try to use that to my advantage.  I have so many stories in my head right now that I feel like I’ll never get them all out.  I have a novel almost done and one started that literally needs to be done by Feb 1st in order to make a workshop deadline.  If I write in shifts, I should be able to finish both.  So for the rest of this month, I’m going to try that method out.  Work on one in the morning and one in the afternoon/late at night or whenever the second “shift” happens.  I know I can keep the stories straight in my head because my head is juggling about 20 different novels and short stories at the moment including these two.  Hopefully doing things this way will prevent the “but I want to work on this instead” block, because I’ll just go work on that instead.

And hey, if this works, then I’m going to keep assigning shifts to projects and see how writing multiple things concurrently pans out.  I’m still adapting my process and finding ways that work for me.  I fully intend to try different ways of outlining novels as well at some point this year (that Snowflake method looks interesting, for example).

So that’s the new plan, which is pretty much the same as always.  I’ve got a lot of writing to get done (about 90k words) in a short amount of time.  But if I finish it or even get close, I’ll have finally gotten my 100k words in a single month.  Which is pretty cool (I’ve written about 30k this month already).