What I’m Reading: Indie vs. Legacy

So I was thinking about my reading habits due to a few discussions on various websites, and I realized something: for the past six months or so, I’ve been reading a ton of indie published books and books published by very small publishers, and very few legacy published books. In fact, most of the legacy published books I’ve read in the past six months were purchased a long time ago and have been sitting in my to-read pile for awhile.

Since I got my Nook Color back in the spring, I’ve read ebooks by Amanda Hocking (indie), Zoe Winters (indie), Lindsay Buroker (indie), Greta van der Rol (small press), Kimberly Menozzi (small press and indie), Poppet (small press), Calista Taylor (indie), and Randolph Lalonde (indie). Print books I’ve read this year only include Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series (which I started reading last year) and Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. Oh, and some books I either picked up at places like Big Lots (when they’re $2 apiece for a hardcover), or books that have been shared among myself, my mother, and my grandmother (like John Grisham’s A Painted House). Continue reading

Why $2.99 Doesn’t Devalue Your Work

There seems to be a certain camp in the writing and publishing worlds that feels like selling a novel at $2.99 is somehow devaluing that novel, and novels in general. The idea seems to be that readers will refuse to pay more than $2.99 for novels eventually, and that will somehow topple the publishing industry.

But no one is asking whether readers should pay more than $2.99 for most books. We’ve just accepted that paperbacks are priced at $8.99-$16 and that hardcover books are priced at $20-$30. And so we feel like ebooks should be priced somewhere along that line, too. But does anyone know why a mass market paperback is priced at $9? Or a trade paperback at $16? Or why a hardcover book is $25?

In the 1960s, a paperback book might cost anywhere from 25¢ up to around $.75 or so depending on the length, publisher, genre, author, and specific year (you can find evidence of these prices by looking at old book covers from that era). Now, a lot of these books were shorter than what we’re used to these days, coming in at around 150-200 pages. They were “pocket books”, in their truest sense: they would fit in your pocket. Continue reading

Pushing for 200 Sales!

There’s less than 10 hours left in November (in the EST time zone anyway), and I’m having my best sales month yet for The Steam and Steel Chronicles. I would really LOVE to break 200 sales this month, but I’m still a ways away from that. Not so far that I don’t think it’s possible, though.

But I need your help! If you haven’t bought the books yet, now’s your chance. They’re only 99¢, available for a variety of ebook reader platforms (including Kindle and Nook), and are sure to entertain you (I hope).

Here are the links to buy them:

Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris:

Barnes & Noble | Kindle/Amazon US | Kindle/Amazon UK | Smashwords | Goodreads

The Great Healion Race:

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwordsGoodreads

If you’ve already purchased them, then please pass along the links to someone you think might enjoy them. Post a link on your Facebook page or on Twitter. Send out an email. Or even buy them as Christmas gifts for family members.

What am I offering in return, you might ask? My unending gratitude. And it will give me more motivation to get the third and fourth books finished (the first draft of the third book is already done, and I’m about 75% of the way through the fourth book). Nothing extraordinary. (Though I am planning some pretty awesome stuff for the release of books three and four…)

See? I’m not at all above begging for sales! I just think it would be really awesome to end this month on an even higher note than it’s already at, since winning NaNoWriMo and having great sales anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving and a NaNoWriMo Update!

Here in the U.S., today is Thanksgiving. I’m taking a rare day off of work (I even went so far as to close my email program) and hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my husband’s family and my father. We haven’t hosted a family dinner at our house in a number of years, so it’s a nice change. And a lot less stressful than the first year we hosted Thanksgiving for twelve or thirteen people less than two weeks after we bought our house. That was quite the holiday!

So today I’m spending time cooking and writing whenever I can. My NaNoWriMo word count stands just shy of 39,000 words at the moment, and I’m hoping to push it up over 42,000 today. That will put me slightly ahead. I’m working on book four at the moment. Book three came in at around 32,000 words, though that will probably decrease during editing.

There are a lot of loose ends from the first two books that I’m tying up in the third and fourth books. I left a lot of things open-ended because I knew this was going to be a series, and I’ve had some negative feedback due to some of those things. But I promise that all of it will be tied up one way or another, and pretty much all of it will be explained in one way or another.

Book four is going to be the most adventurous book of the series, and will bring us back to some of the same places we went in book one. Characters that first appeared in books two and three will become vital parts of the resolution to the series (even if they only had cameos in earlier books).

Writing a series is a completely different animal than a stand-alone novel. Especially when they’re being written a year apart. There’s a lot to keep track of, and I think with the next series I’m planning, I’ll spend some time putting together a story bible to keep track of everything.

I guess I should spill the beans on the next series I’m planning. I was going to take some time to work on a gothic romance novel (a complete overhaul of part of a very early novel I wrote, the same one that Steam and Steel was inspired by) after I finished Steam and Steel, but now I’m thinking I’m going to write another steampunk series instead. The working title (and I’ll be coming up with something better before it’s done) is Clockwork Colony. It’s steampunk set in an entirely different world than The Steam and Steel Chronicles, and will take place in India around 1910. It’s going to require a lot more research than other books I’ve tackled, but I’m really excited about it.

This series won’t be a continuous series like Steam and Steel, but instead will be a number of books loosely set in the same world. This means I can write in that world when I want to, and when I have a story to tell, but I’ll have the flexibility to write other things in between, without worrying about alienating fans of the series. I’ll likely start working on this one in December. We’ll see.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US, and happy Thursday to everyone else!

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.

New Book Coming Soon!

So I plan to write book 3 of The Steam and Steel Chronicles during August (NaNoWriMo Summer Camp to be exact). But I have another book that was just about ready to go, in a different genre. I’ve decided to make a push to finish up some last-minute edits this week and release it ASAP. (I’m making an effort to finish projects this year, so anything I have that’s within a couple weeks of being finished is getting fast-tracked.)

The book is Hold My Hand. It’s women’s fiction with a strong romantic storyline (I’m not calling it romance due to some very un-romance story elements), set in Virginia. I had the first chapter up here for quite some time, but took it down because it’s not the most recent version. Continue reading

Getting to a Coherent Draft

The structure of a novel can make or break it. If it’s well-structured—as in the pacing is good, the events happen in the most logical order (even if that’s not necessarily chronologically), and the characters do things you’d expect them to do—that’s more than half the battle. And if you’re lucky, the structure is pretty good starting with the first draft. Most of my novels/novellas are like this (now—maybe not in the beginning), but not all of them.

One of the novels I’m working on now wasn’t so lucky. The first draft was okay. It was actually pretty good until about 2/3 of the way through. And then it kind of fell flat. The ending sucked, to put it bluntly.

So on my first round of revisions, I rewrote the ending entirely. My protagonist made a better decision to start with, and then I added in a new twist after that, and then everything wrapped up more or less neatly. But I still didn’t really like it. I kept looking back at my original ending, wondering if there was something there after all. Continue reading

Genre vs. Literary Fiction: A Rebuttal

Taking a quick break from my Rules of Writing series to comment on an article on The Guardian’s website that appeared this morning (and that I found through the Absolute Write forums). The article, Are Stieg Larsson and Dan Brown a match for literary fiction?, written by Edward Docx, kinda pissed me off to put it bluntly. The basic premise of the article is that genre fiction, no matter how “good” it is, will still never be as good as “good” literary fiction. I can hear the hair on the backs of the necks of genre writers everywhere standing up on end from all the way over here in Vermont.  Continue reading

Cyber Monday Gift Guide: Book Lover’s Edition

Since this is a writing blog, it’s only appropriate that I put out a gift guide for fellow bibliophiles. Now, most of the book gift guides out there include the best sellers from the big New York publishers, as well as some “lesser known” offerings from the independent publishers and small presses. And that’s fine. They have plenty of choices available to suit most book buyers and gift givers.

But I decided to do something different. I wanted this gift guide to be more personal. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Day 18!

Here we are at day 18 of National Novel Writing Month and I’m proud to say that I’m still on track to reach 50k words by the end of November. So I’m upping the ante a bit: my new goal is that I want to have this novel complete by November 30th. I’m thinking it’s going to come in somewhere around 70k words, which means I’ve got to basically double my word count for the remaining twelve days.

But that’s okay. Yesterday, using Write or Die, I managed 1,000 words in 15 minutes. If I just do four sessions like that each day, I should have no problem completing this novel. The prose isn’t perfect, but I’m so into the story at this point that what I’m writing in those short bursts is actually pretty good. I just think about it for a few minutes before I start, so I have an idea of what I want to write in those 15 minutes, and then I write. It’s been working really well so far. And if I’m even more pressed for time, I’ll do 500-word sessions (which take me about 8-9 minutes).

I’m hoping that even after NaNoWriMo is over, I can keep writing 2-4k words each day with this method. I’ve been neglecting my fiction for too long. But if I can’t figure out a way to spare a few 15-minute blocks during the day, then I don’t really deserve to call myself a writer, do I?