Cameron Chapman


NaNoWriMo 2011: T-13 Hours and Counting

NaNoWriMo 2011 starts in less than 13 hours now. I’m fairly prepared. I know my characters inside and out, because they’re Stig and Isabell from Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris and The Great Healion Race. I have no idea yet what the next two books will be called. I do know they’ll likely be the last two books in the series (though I have an idea for a short story that I may publish for free or add to one of the other books as a bonus). I was originally planning on six books, but I feel like that might end up dragging the series out for too long, and upon looking over my original outline, I can cut and combine two of the books without taking anything of substance away from the overall story.

And, to be quite honest, I’m ready to move on to other things. I love The Steam and Steel Chronicles, I love the characters, but I also have a lot of other projects that I love and want to work on.

So, I’ll leave a few tidbits about what will be happening in the next two books:

  1. A certain device from ATUAF will be making another appearance.
  2. A certain character or two from TGHR will be reappearing in a fairly major role in Book 3.
  3. Things will most definitely be resolved between Stig and Isabell.

I’ll also offer you this photo of how I always pictured Stig (sorry if you’ve always pictured him differently). If there’s ever a film version of the books (which I honestly hope there will be, and will consider producing myself at some point in the future), I’ll be lobbying hard for Grant Bowler.

Now, as for NaNoWriMo itself, I may stay up until midnight tonight to try to knock out a thousand words or so before bed. If you’re new to NaNo, you might want to check out My Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo (which was also republished on Publetariat).

I’m going to aim for 2,000 words a day so that I can take days off around Thanksgiving if I need to. And for those days when I’m just not feeling it and only manage a few hundred words. It’s always a challenge to manage a full-time writing/editing/copywriting job, plus a college-level class, plus writing at that rate, but I’ve done it before and I’m 99% sure I can do it again (you just might see me a lot less on Twitter/Google+/Facebook until December).

Also, if you want to “Buddy” me on the NaNoWriMo site, feel free to do so here.

My Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo officially starts in less than three weeks! I’ll be participating again, this time hopefully finishing up the third and fourth books of The Steam and Steel Chronicles. I feel like I’ve finally got some plot issues tied up in my head, so I can move forward with it. The thing is, when I wrote the first two books last year (for NaNoWriMo), I didn’t really have an overall story arc in mind. I just sort of threw everything in there and waited to see what stuck.

So now I’ve got all these potential plot threads that need to be tied up in the third and fourth books (I’m thinking those will finish the story, though I’m also planning a short story or two that will take place between books one and two). I’m not one to just let things go unanswered, and I want to make sure that things people liked in the first two books are featured again in the third and fourth books, without being shoehorned in. I’ve got them all figured out now, though, so I’m eager to get writing again!

But I wanted to put together a guide for surviving (and even winning) NaNoWriMo. I’m hoping it will be useful whether you’re a NaNo veteran or a first-timer. (more…)

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 8

So this is a few days late because I’ve been dealing with some family stuff for the past 10 days or so (father in law ended up in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery last week, but he’s coming home today). I’ve also decided that I’m only going to do these posts through the 12-month mark, though I may do occasional sales updates after that. This is partially because I see next year being very, very busy for me, and also because I’m trying to be less obsessed with my sales numbers. (more…)

There is No They

I currently have a lot of projects going on, and I sometimes get discouraged with the bigger ones (especially the feature film I’m planning to shoot next fall). Mostly this is due to outside pressure, real or imagined, about what I should realistically be spending my time on.

But here’s the thing, I WANT to make a movie. For as long as I’ve wanted to be a writer, I’ve also wanted to make movies. I’m a storyteller, and that transcends medium. I have some stories that work well as novels (or novellas), and I have some that would work better as films. That’s just the nature of my imagination. (more…)

Falling Literacy Levels are Alarming

I was reading an article over on Yahoo! News this morning (linked from The Millions) that was discussing the fact that SAT scores for reading have fallen to their lowest levels ever—489 points. Part of this they’re attributing to the fact that more students are taking the test who may not have grown up in homes where English was the primary language, but part of it is likely due to the fact that we’re now emphasizing math and science over reading and writing in schools.

This is really alarming to me. Literacy, according to some studies, is the best indicator of future success we have. And literacy does not just mean knowing basic reading and writing skills. There’s this thing called “functional literacy” that varies based on the current conditions. Basically, it means that you have the necessary reading comprehension and writing skills to understand what you need to in a given situation. For some people, the level of functional literacy they require is quite low, and for others it’s quite high. Writers fall toward the high end of the scale, because obviously we need to be able to use language in a way that people who don’t write for anything other than necessity don’t need. (Unfortunately, I’ve known way too many writers whose functional literary skills are lacking, to say the least, but I’m not going to get into that here.) (more…)

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 7

So, here we are at the end of month seven! Not much in the way of promotion this month, other than discounting the second novella in The Steam and Steel Chronicles to $.99 through Labor Day. I’m honestly considering leaving it at that price, though I haven’t made up my mind for sure yet. (more…)

Some Upcoming Changes

I’ve decided to do a bit of refocusing on this blog. It’s been “Cameron Chapman On Writing” for a few years now, and I feel like it’s too restrictive. So I’m going to change it to “Cameron Chapman On Creativity”. This will give me more freedom to post about topics other than writing, including design and filmmaking. I’m also planning on running regular interviews with creative professionals across a number of industries.

I still plan on posting about writing quite a bit, but expect posts on other topics, too. I’m hoping to get onto a more regular posting schedule in September, after Labor Day. I might even shoot for posting twice a week!

Also, The Smashing Idea Book is now available on Amazon. It should be out elsewhere soon.

A Failure of Logic in Legacy Publishing

So I try to keep up with publishing news, if only because what’s happening in the industry has a direct impact on how I sell my books. I need to keep abreast of what’s going on if I want to be successful. That’s true of any business.

One thing that we keep hearing over and over again when publishers try to defend their $12.99, $14.99 and $15.99+ ebook prices is that ebooks are nearly as expensive as hardcover books to produce and sell (because the physical book represents a very small percentage of the total cost), and therefore they need to price ebooks high if they want to remain equally as profitable.

I’m gonna call bullshit on this one.

First of all, I’m not talking about publishers who are selling their ebooks for $9.99. Those are the smart legacy publishers who know they can cash in on the marketing machine they have access to, and the names of their authors, to make more money. It’s good business.

I’m talking about those publishers who sell their ebooks for more than $9.99.

Let’s do the math real quick.

A publisher selling an ebook for $9.99 on Amazon, taking advantage of their 70% royalty option, is going to make $7.00 on each sale.

A publisher selling an ebook for $14.99 on Amazon, is only getting 35% of each sale, making only $5.25 on each sale.

A publisher would have to sell an ebook for $19.99 to make the same profit as a $9.99 ebook. And you’re telling me they’ll sell the same number of copies?

Like I said: bullshit.

Publishers prices ebooks high to protect the market share of print books. Because they know how to market print books. It’s where they have a distinct advantage over indie publishers. They know how to get books into stores, and they know how to tap into readers of paperback and hardcover books.

Ebooks are like the wild west. Indie publishers and authors are on an almost level playing field when it comes to ebooks. And that’s threatening to legacy publishers. Suddenly, instead of having competition coming from a handful of other big publishers who do things the same way they do, they’ve got competition from tends of thousands of little guys who can do pretty much whatever they want in terms of marketing and promotion. Those little guys have no overhead, they have no offices to pay for or employees to pay, and they’re much more agile because of it.

So, the next time you hear some legacy publisher claiming that they’re ebooks are priced at $12+ because their costs are high, call them on it. Call it out for the bullshit story that it is.

Two Books on Sale Through Labor Day

From now through Labor Day (September 5th), I’m offering all of my books for $.99. The prices should be updating on Amazon and Barnes & Noble within the next day or so. For Smashwords, you’ll need to use a coupon code (which is active right now). The code for Hold My Hand is ZW52W and the code for The Great Healion Race is XN97R.

Why am I doing this? Because August is traditionally a very, very slow month for ebook sales. I don’t want to lose momentum this month, so I’m hoping that by running a special like this, I can attract more new readers. After the 5th, they’ll both return to the $2.99 prices in all likelihood (though if my sales go way up, I may keep them at $.99 for awhile).

Here are the purchase links:

The Great Healion Race

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Hold My Hand

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

(This has always been $.99)

Now, if you buy the books at this price and love them (or even if you hate them) I’d love a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere!

No More Times New Roman! Font Combinations for Book Design

I have seen way too many people involved in the indie publishing scene who say, “Don’t get caught up in the whole font thing. Just use Times New Roman. It’ll be fine.” As a designer, I have to say that this borders on infuriating to me. Typography is important. It has a direct impact on how we perceive a written document, and our enjoyment of that document. Times New Roman was originally developed as a newspaper font, specifically to be economical, space-wise. In other words, to fit more content in less space. It then became popular among corporate documents. But optimal readability is not among Times New Roman’s strong points.

If you plan to indie publish in print, then it’s vital that you understand the basics of book design and layout (or that you hire someone who does). The typefaces you choose for your text and headings have a direct effect on the readability of your text (along with your margins, line spacing, and kerning). Bad typography makes your book look less professional, even if you readers don’t directly realize what it is that’s giving them a negative impression of your book.

Below are fourteen combinations, mostly made up of free fonts. Some are  more suited to one type of book or another, and have been noted as such. Others are more universal, and can be used on virtually any kind of manuscript. (more…)