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

Commentaries: Gospel Advocate Series, etc.
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!


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 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'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 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'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!