Sunday, September 17, 2017

Differences Between Novels, Shorts, and More!

The world of publishing is ever-changing, and new trends develop almost daily, or so it seems. A few years ago I worked in a big-box bookstore, and even then the literary world was changing. Today, gone is the restrictions on so many “fundamental” standards of what constitutes a piece of literature that will sell. Believe it or not, today’s publishing market, especially for those who publish through Amazon KDP is a virtual wonderland.

Traditionally, when you think of publishing a work, you categorize it by calling it a novel, novella or short story. Today those categories are broken down even further (if you publish virtually.) In fact, remember the stories of the dime store novels, or the history of people like Poe who published serial stories in newspapers and magazines? Today, the dime store novel has made a comeback, and serials are even sought after!

So, what I am telling you is that there are so many different categories and options for publishing an ebook, you may already have a few “books” nearly finished, and you don’t even know it. Now for you purists, I am going to use the term book interchangeably, even for a short read, so button down the hatches and get ready to deal with it.

Cool Amazon Listing Categories


Now, you don’t have to list your book in these categories. Amazon does it for you. I believe it is based on word count, but who really knows because, well Amazon.
Short Reads! And I mean exactly what I said. Short reads!!!

Short Reads come in all lengths: 30-minute reads (12-21 pages), 45-minute reads (22-32 pages), 1-hour (33-43 pages), and 2-hour reads (65-100 pages). Traditional short stories fall into this category. Short stories are no more than 10,000 words, but unlike traditional short stories, these stories are published individual instead of in a collection of works. Cool, right? People actually love this length, because it gives them something to read during a few minutes of downtime. Think of them as temporary escapes from the daily grind.

With that said, there are some critics who just like to complain that there isn’t enough to read in these kinds of stories. I say BOO on YOU! Stand up for yourself, mark the story a short read, and be done with it. Trust me; I’ve had scores of downloads on mine. If people didn’t want them, Amazon wouldn’t be selling them.

Of course, make sure to price them accordingly. I’ve had a few of mine priced anywhere between .99 and 2.99 and still really haven’t found the sweet spot for sales. Some people don’t want to pay 2.99 for a short read, but some people will. Investigate your market to see what books in your genre are selling for. I’ve downloaded many short reads that were listed at 2.99 because I had Kindle Unlimited. So, that’s also a thing you should consider when pricing. Are you going to list in Kindle Unlimited? If so, you can probably get by with the higher price.

Novellas: Extended Short Stories.


I love the novella. I suspect most of my fiction writing falls into this category. Novellas tend to be between 10,001 to 39,999 words. Novellas are long enough to spin a good yarn, and keep people wanting more.

Pricing a novella can be tricky, but most of the time I price mine at 2.99. Again, that depends on the genre and if a work is fiction or nonfiction. I can’t stress enough to do market research.

Short Novel: A Baby Novel


Short novels are long enough to be considered a true “book” but are not quite long enough to be a novel. Short novel word count falls between 40,000 and 59,000 words. Depending on the genre, this may be the traditional word count for a book. For example, the typical romance novel only has around 40,000 to 45,000 words.

Short novel pricing is a little easier for me. I generally price these novels for 4.99. That gives an author a 70% royalty rate and about 3.50 per book. That is a huge royalty rate! Royalties on traditionally published books at this price are less than a dollar per book. It’s easy to see why so many traditionally published authors are taking up the Indie platform.

Novel: Wow! Did you really write that much?


A novel is anything over 60,000 words. That is a lot of writing, and if you have made it to this word count you deserve a pat on the back!!! Novels are those books you see in the bookstore that are ginormous. Think Stephen King, and Harry Potter book 7. When I wrote my first book, I told myself that I just had to write 250 pages and I would have a book. It helped me move forward, and I finally produced a book, even though it took years. A long time ago, these were the novels that you slaved over and then sent off to publishers. I am happy to say in today’s market; you can slave over it, have it edited, then upload it yourself for a nifty profit.

Be careful when you price your novel. Novel prices are all over the place. You don’t want to price your book too low and undervalue it, but you don’t want to price it too high either. Again, market research is your new best friend. Different genres and different topics of non-fiction get different prices. I like to see what traditional authors in my genre are selling their books at and make sure I don’t price mine over that. Let’s face it, I’m not JK Rowling, or Stephanie Meyer, no matter how much I’d like to be selling books like them.

I hope if you’re writing these breakdowns will help you, and also if you were unfamiliar with short reads, I am glad you now know about them. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Want to Write a Book but Where Do I Get My Resources


Sometimes I tend to take for granted that the things I have experience with, not everyone knows. So, today I am going to share a bit of information about where I get my resources for the books I write. There are different places depending on the genre and whether I want to write fiction of nonfiction, but gathering information is similar no matter the project.

Fact Finding for Religious Books


Let me add that you need to use caution if you are using a site other than one that you know for sure is doctrinally sound. For instance, the Vatican is a great resource for ancient art. I have used their museum site several times when writing More Than A Passing Glance: Early Christian Art, but I wouldn't go to it to find information on doctrinal issues.

Religious Resources


Bible
Commentaries: Gospel Advocate Series, etc.
E-Sword
Bible Gateway
Apologetics Press
Christian Courier
Come Fill Your Cup
Colley House

Writing Fiction Resources


Of course, writing fiction is a whole different world! A fiction writer must become a detective to find the information needed. I look at all kinds of sites for my writings. Google is really my best friend for writing fiction, and I would suggest utilizing it at every turn. I write a lot of series that require knowledge in areas that I don't possess. (I'm not really an expert on the occult or mythological creatures.) Using the search engine helps me locate all the necessary information I need on a given project. 

There are numerous other searchable facts for authors, like world-building, elements of different genres, and even how to write different traits for characters. Occasionaly I like to see an area that I'm writing about, and when I do, I use Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, and Deposit Photos to find inspirational images.

Other Useful Sites



Friday, September 1, 2017

Enough Joy a New Release by Sarah Floyd

Enough Joy the sequel to Finding Joy is finally out! I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah for YouTube, but due to the hurricane, I haven't had a chance to finish cutting and finalizing the interview. So, for now, I hope you enjoy this print interview. Thanks again Sarah for letting me interview you!

--Susan

Enough Joy by Sarah Floyd

"From the author of the Voice of Joy series (Finding Joy 2015) comes Enough Joy, another Christian fiction novel about faith, family, and godly romance. After several months of life in Vermont, Joy is growing in her faith and cherishing her new relationships. Her big farmhouse is never lonely anymore, and her heart is full. She takes unexpected tragedies in stride, she accomplishes major goals, and she learns more every day. She's even writing again. But Joy's past still threatens to destroy her. Can she finally overcome her doubts and fears and embrace her future completely?" (Amazon)

About Enough Joy


Does Enough Joy stand on its own? Or, is it better read as a sequel?

It can stand on its own, but it is definitely intended to be read as a sequel, primarily because it doesn't contain a long summary of the previous book or detailed character explanations.

What sets Enough Joy apart from Finding Joy?

Enough Joy has a more serious tone than Finding Joy. Joy has grown up a lot in the time period between the books, although it wasn't very long, and I think I'd consider her to be much more fully an adult in Enough Joy. Enough Joy also covers a longer period of time, ten months, than Finding Joy, which took place in about five months.

What do you really love about these characters?

I love so many things about these characters...Joy's determination, Paul's stability, Joann's encouragement, Jennifer's impulsiveness...I could go on and on. I have never created a cast of characters that I wish were real people as much as I wish these characters were. I've had to move slowly on the writing, editing, and publication process of Enough Joy due to many life events, most of them wonderful...buying a house, having a second child, keeping up with my first child, etc., so when I'm not writing about these characters, I miss them so much. Several of my readers have shared that the characters seem like real people to them, and I'm so glad because they certainly seem real to me.

Is there a character that you identify with?

I identify with Joy the most, but she's not very much like me in most ways. We don't look alike, we're not the same age or in the same stage of life, and we don't have the same backgrounds in most ways. I think the two main ways we ARE similar is that she left everything familiar and moved to a new life in Vermont, which my husband and I did in 2013, and that she and I share some of the same fears and insecurities. Those similarities enable me to write about her in a genuine manner, but Joy's life is certainly not modeled after my own. The character Joann is almost nothing like me, but I also identify with her to some extent because she is who I'd like to be when I grow up. haha

What was your hardest scene to write?

That's difficult to answer. I suppose the hardest parts were the first few chapters...it often takes me several chapters of writing to feel as though I'm really on a roll with a new novel...or as though it's really going to be worth finishing. I write my books straight through, in order, with just bits of notes about where the plot is going so that I don't forget. Sometimes I make changes, but I never write scenes out of order. It interferes with the way the book flows through my mind...it's almost like a movie. The most emotional scenes for me to write were the chapters of Joy's meltdown...that's all I can say without spoiling the book for anyone who hasn't read it. They were difficult because I had to remember some of my most upsetting experiences in order to write naturally about Joy's feelings even though our lives are so different.

Is there anything you edited out of this book?

Nothing significant...tons of unnecessary adverbs and other sloppy writing!

Are there more books coming out with these characters?

I plan to publish one more full-length novel for the Voice of Joy series, to make it a trilogy. I've just barely begun to write it...I'm still in the ugh...is this really any good? stage. I also have a much shorter prequel detailing Joy's visit to her aunt and uncle's farm as a teenager; I may or may not publish it as a bonus novella.

About the Writing Process


What is your writing process?

I write fiction in composition notebooks with black pens. I need quiet (or non-invasive music) and privacy in order to write fiction...hearing others talking interferes with the characters' voices. I write in spurts...sometimes I will go for days without feeling like writing, and sometimes I'll scribble 10-15 notebook pages in one night. It's hard for me to find time to write consistently because of having two little ones under three and a very busy husband with a long work commute.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 

It generally energizes me until my adrenaline rush is over, and then I am completely exhausted. If you've ever read Little Women, you probably remember the sections that describe Jo's writing process...she was secluded in the attic for hours or days, forgetting to eat or sleep, and quite grouchy when she was finished. I can't exactly disappear for days in my stage in life...the children would eat each other...but that's how I feel in a more moderate way when I'm really in the middle of writing a book.

What is your favorite time of day to write? 

Evening, after supper but not too late.

How does your family life impact your writing?

My husband is extremely supportive of my writing, so he helps motivate me and encourage me. Writing has to take a backseat to mommying these days, but I know that my children are my most important realm of influence, so I squeeze it in around diapers and bottles whenever I can.

What do you think are common traps for aspiring writers?

I can think of quite a few, but I'm sure I do some of them myself...creating characters that are (and always have been) 100% evil or 100% saintly, using extremely cliched plots or themes...ahem...not mentioning any of those!, not editing their work well enough, writing for their audience entirely instead of for themselves...I don't mean that writers shouldn't consider their audience when they write, but if there isn't an intrinsic joy of writing in their hearts, their books won't seem as natural or meaningful.


Random Questions


What does literary success look like to you?

I'll be totally honest and share what I would consider literary success to be for myself: to see my books in Christian bookstores or libraries or at Christian events, to hear others talking about my books in my presence without realizing I'm the author, and for my books to be suggested or required reading for students in homeschools or Christian schools (the Voice of Joy series is too religious to be required reading in most public school settings).

Do you Google yourself? Occasionally. haha

Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do you deal with good or bad reviews?

Yes, always. I haven't, uh, actually gotten any bad reviews yet. But I'm sure I will as my books gain more publicity so I will need to deal with them in a way that doesn't hurt my love for writing. I'll accept advice about that!

In what ways do you market your books? 

I actually hate the marketing angle of the process, so my husband does a lot of that at my request. If I start thinking about my books too much from a financial standpoint, it interferes with my creativity, and I feel self-conscious. I post a lot about them on my Facebook wall and in large groups I'm in, and I have a Facebook page for Finding Joy, but not yet for Enough Joy. I try to bring them to ladies' events as well. I'm also promoting my second book's release on August 31 by offering my first book for free for one day (September 2). Other than that...you'd have to talk to my marketing manager, my husband!

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
At least a dozen!

If you could choose a mascot, or a “spirit animal” as your writer self, what would it be? Well...the closest one would be L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables (and so many more amazing books!). We aren't much alike, but I've admired her writing since I was in third grade.

Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage?

I visited as many author sites as possible in Concord, Massachusetts as a teenager (Louisa May Alcott's house and grave, Nathaniel Hawthorne's house, some sites related to Emerson and Thoreau, etc.), but I was only able to be in the area for a few hours. I also spent one day on Prince Edward Island last year and was able to tour Green Gables and to see the outside of some of L.M. Montgomery's homes, as well as her grave. I'll have to save more in-depth pilgrimages for a different stage of my life!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

So, You Want to Write A Ladies Class Book?

One of my favorite things to write is ladies class books. This is because while I'm writing it, I get to really dig into the study, and that is something I love. There are a few standard formatting things I've learned in the last few years, that are extremely important for class books. Things I didn't know when I first started out. So, for a few minutes, I'm going to share those with you.

Guess what! There is a standard length for a class book --or at least a standard chapter length. Class books should have thirteen chapters. My first few class books only had ten chapters. That's too short to use in a quarter long study, but thirteen chapters are just right. If you have already written books with less than thirteen chapters, never fear. They can still be used for a quarterly study, as long as a couple of chapters can be broken up into two class sessions.

The standard ladies Bible class book size is 6x9. This size book is easily used for study, and taking notes in the margins. It's more substantial than smaller books, but not so big that it is too bulky for the student.

I suggest that line-spacing is set to 1.5 instead of single-spaced, or double-spaced, for ease of reading. Really, that line spacing looks great on the page, too. And, it makes it easier for the student to highlight, or underline important facts within the book.

Ladies class books should have discussion questions. I like to write ten to twelve questions for each chapter. I try to find the most important facts in each chapter and make sure to ask those questions. Occasionally, I like to have students write out important verses within the study questions as well.

Book cover design is kind of tricky. I'm just now getting somewhat of a hang of it. I have started using book cover designs that emphasize something I want the reader to know about the book or something that just catches the eye.

For my book, Life Lessons From the Book of Ruth, I decided to use a picture of a boat on the shore as the cover. I often think of life and the direction my life is going when I see a river or boat, so I thought the imagery was good. I also decided to use the pink font because it stood out against the blue. The Sherlock font I used because it kind of gives the idea of a castaway and a note in a bottle. All these things I wanted to tell the reader. I wanted her to know that the Book or Ruth will help her pilot her down the stream of life and keep her from being a castaway.

Hopefully, you can see that there are only a few things you need to know for writing a ladies class book. I want to encourage you to write one. You can do it!


--Susan

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Choose a Book Topic

So, you want to write a book, but you don't know where to start. It's a lot of easier than you might think, but before you get into the actual details of writing, you have to choose a topic. This is perhaps the hardest and most important part of writing. I tend to have all kinds of book ideas swirling in my head, but how do I know which ones are viable for the market? Well, that's easy. I choose a topic that I'm passionate about and want to know more about. Chances are if I love it, so will others. Ultimately, you must remember that you are generally writing for yourself.

Have you ever been in a Bible class, and thought "I love this verse," or "Wow! This is such a great topic?" Those thoughts are the ones you want to follow to choose a book topic. It is the thing that sparks your interest that will sustain you through the writing process, and will keep readers interested.

Here are a few ways I've found that help me select a topic:

  • Read! Read your Bible. Read the newspaper. Read books. Reading helps to inspire creativity, and it is one of the best ways to find a topic.
  • Make a list. List your hobbies, things you like and things you'd like to know more about. Use these topics as a catalyst for your book topic. 
  • Talk to people. Find out what your friends are interested in. Ask them what subjects they may have wanted to study, but haven't been able to find material for.
  • Watch the news. Is there a story you find interesting, or incredible? Dig into it, and see if there is enough information to write a book.
  • Free write. Spend a bit of time writing everyday. Don't set confines to what your writing, just write. Write about anything that pops into your head.
  • Gather Stories. Chances are you've done something that makes great story fodder. Have you traveled, or lived through an event that'd make a great story? If so, write about it.

Once you've figured out your topic, it's time to flesh it out and brain storm. I like to write a few sentences about my selected topic. 

For Example:

Topic: How to Plan the Perfect Wedding 

  1. Selecting the venue.
  2. Choosing the right decor.
  3. How to select flowers for the season.
  4. Selecting the time of day.
Once, I have figured out about thirteen different sentences within a topic, I start writing. Really! It's that simple. You can choose a topic, and you can write a book! Why not start today?

For more writing information check out, Remove Your Shackles & Write.







Thursday, August 17, 2017

Help! I Self-edit


Never fear, you can self-edit! In a perfect world, Indie authors would all have the money to spend on a professional editor. I mean, who wouldn't want their manuscripts professionally edited. I know that I'd love it, but since I can't afford it, I've had to learn a few self-editing techniques to get me through.

When I edit my manuscript, it is a several step process. I've listed the things I use, and hopefully, you will find something useful in the list.

Self-Editing Techniques



  • Write a piece and read it out loud. This helps to ensure that the flow is good. 
  • Use the Microsoft Word program. I have it set to catch both grammar and spelling mistakes. It will still miss some things, but it catches quite a bit.
  • Spring for the full-edition of Grammarly. Grammarly searches for word use, grammar mistakes, repetitive words, plagiarism, and more!  (A word of caution. If you are in America, you have to set it to use American English. Mine was set up to use British English for awhile, and one of my books was corrected and uploaded with British English. I got a two-star review because of all of the "spelling mistakes." OOPS!)
  • Set your Microsoft Word program to read your manuscript back to you. This works even better than reading out loud because sometimes you read what you think you see instead of what's written. 
What are your self-editing tips? Please leave them in the comments below. 

--Susan

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Writer's Group a Valuable Resource

Writing can be a very lonely habit. Perhaps when you hear the word writer, you imagine a person huddled in the corner, staring off into space, and scribbling words in a notebook or typing on a computer. This picture isn't necessarily that far off from reality. Writers do tend to spend a lot of time in isolation bouncing ideas off of blank walls, or reading out loud to themselves. But, writing doesn't have to be a solitary experience.

What if I were to tell you there are places where these weird creatures we call writers gather together to discuss writing, ask for help, and learn from each other? You might think what is this magical place, and does it really exist? I am here to tell you, that yes. It does.

The writer's group can be a HUGE asset for a writer. Many towns have them, and the first place you should inquire about them is your local library. Local writer's groups generally are comprised of writers of all levels, genres, and ages. I've been attending various writer's groups for the last ten years, and I love them.

Many writer's groups serve as mini-workshops where writers bring in a project they are working on and ask for constructive criticism. These groups are really helpful when you are stuck in a section of your book, or just need to know if something is flowing right in a certain passage.

If you don't have a local group, or you can't find one, it's really easy to start one. In fact, this month (August 2017) is the first month for the Beeville Writers Club. I moved here in 2016 and there wasn't a group, so I contacted the library. The head librarian was more than happy to help me set up a meeting place, and even advertise the group. Our first meeting was a huge success and we even had five people in attendance!

If you've been nervous about attending a local writer's group, don't be! Just go and visit a few times, and see if the group is right for you. If it's not, move on, but if it is, stay awhile, get comfortable and see how things are done. Once you're comfortable get ready to learn and have more fun than you can imagine!

--Susan