The Watching Dead podcast and Pennerstories Update

How many of you out there watch the AMC’s Walking Dead? In case you don’t know this is an original television series based on the comic books The Walking Dead. It’s about zombies. Not completely…it’s really about a group of characters survival through a zombie apocalypse and the new world in which they live. This post is not really about zombies as it is about the pod cast I stumbled upon called the Watching Dead. Two hosts (Jim and A.Ron) talk about the episodes and comment about it. I must say it is a really funny and insightful podcast commentary. I must warn you that this is not for younger kids as the content and language might not be suitable for all. If you are interested you can take a look at their website BALDMOVE.

I’ve only browsed through the comics at the bookstore, but have watched the Walking Dead since its inception several years ago. The show has gone through its ups and downs, periods of greatness to the point I almost quit watching. All in all its a good show, but I will be honest there are times and situations within the show that sometimes make me want to stop watching. I can attribute the well-developed characters that keep me coming back. We will see how it goes in the future, but as long as I keep watching the show I will tune into Jim and A.Ron to get the current breakdown. Good job guys and keep up the good work!

In the meantime I am still reading through Terry Brooks Heritage of Shannara series and am enjoying it completely. I am getting through it slowly as I only read a few pages each day before I fall asleep. Work has kept me from starting my next novel and I am beginning to get a little frustrated about the lack of commitment on my part to get started. Exhaustion is a big part of it. I have an outline almost complete, but I am not satisfied with it thus far. In the past week I’ve been thinking of re-doing the outline because better ideas have popped into my head. I’ve also listened to some fantastic writing and writing/marketing podcasts and feel I could benefit from some writing workshops to help improve my craft. Since most workshops are out of my budget I’ve purchased some do-it-yourself type workshops. As a writer, especially an Indie/self published author, improving on ones craft is a welcomed experience we all must continue to work at in order to produce a better product. If you’ve read any of my works you will find out that I am not a perfect writer (no one is), but I hope you’ve found the stories to be entertaining. The entertainment has always been my goal aside from being a writer. Reading a good story…long or short…allows us to escape this busy world for a time and enter in to something good. Reading really is a mental reset of sorts. If you haven’t read any of my works please buy Dark Moon Shadow, or download (or read it on this website) the free pre-story to see what it’s all about.

Until then…happy reading my friends.

How Long Should Your Novel Be?

I’ve written about this some years ago, but I ran across a great article detailing the history of novel lengths by Dean Wesley Smith. I’ve also praised the work and website of Dean Wesley Smith so check out his article here.

With the source being acknowledged, I would also like to add my two cents about novel lengths. In this new world of publishing digitally I feel that novels don’t need to be the lengths that you find in the brick and mortar. The reason being is you really have no reference of length from device to device. All you have is the speed of the reader. Sure, there are stories that are extremely short, but I am referring to a written story that has the intent of being a novel not a short story. In a way it is all about perception. “Am I getting my monies worth when I buy this book?” And for the publisher it was all about that…how they are going to justify the novel price. We as consumers also feel that we want more for our money. Am I going to buy this 300 page fantasy, or this 700 page fantasy adventure? More, in most cases, is better when we are holding it in our hands and our eyes are drawn to the magical art work on the cover. This, as Dean Wesley Smith pointed out, caused the story to suffer as the publisher would cause the writer to fill space in order to meet the word quota.

Now I’m not suggesting or saying that long novels are bad, but what I am saying is that a 40K word novel can be just as good as a 100K novel, and we as writers should not allow the old way of thinking guide us to writing a story that isn’t as good because of all the word padding. Dean lists in his article a number of novels that were around 40K words that would not have been published if they were held to the modern publisher demands. I never imagined that some of those stories were indeed so short! It just proves to show that it’s all about substance and not quantity.

Michael A. Stackpole has also written about this in his past posts and he laid out a brilliant pricing structure to help the buyer/reader understand what value they were purchasing. This is not his exact structure, but for the sake of this post: 5-20K word story might be .99cents. 20K-50K might be 1.99$, and it would scale up that way to any story over 100K would be 5.99$. Now this was just an example, the beauty of self publishing is you have the full control of what you price your work. However, the patron has a feel of what value they are buying when they purchase a story. They can expect a lower cost to match the quantity. Value, however can have no price, as no word limit can equate to the quality of a story. There are plenty of good and bad stories out there at all price ranges.

Pricing structure has been blogged about by many authors and there are many ways suggested to work out a price for a novel, but I must add that many authors (Indie Authors), in my opinion, have ruined it for the rest of us. Too many novels for .99 or 1.99$! I’ve also written about this in the past. Sure a good story will rise to the top, but most of us, if we are honest browse Smashwords, or Kindle bookstore and look for ratings and price to determine if a buy is worth our money. Established authors from the old publishing have an established following, if they were successful, and many are willing to pay the 6.99 or higher for their work because we love that writers stories. I do this with Terry Brooks. But if I were to come across my name on Amazon and see Dark Moon Shadow for the same price I might not buy it due to the unknown aspect. I don’t blame anyone who would do the same because I am also hesitant to spend a higher price for an unknown. But what has happened is that many of us unknowns need to get noticed so we low ball our price as a way to get someone to take a chance on our work, and what we really have done is establish a new mark for unknowns. Unknown Indie Authors are now 1-2$ products unless we can justify a higher mark with a ton of 4 to 5 star ratings. Way to go Indie community!

I bring this up to say a good pricing structure helps set a great standard for everyone, and allows us to break away from the low to high word bondage and just focus on good story writing no mater the length.

Star rating is a whole different topic I will tackle soon. So stay tuned.

Check out my short stories for YA, and my short Paranormal stories in my bookstore and maybe take a gamble on my Fantasy novel Dark Moon Shadow.

Happy Reading my friends.

Vampire Down by Steve Montano

Today is the release of the final book in the Blood Skies Series titled Vampire Down. If you are into Vampires, but seek a fresh and unique approach to this genre, then Steve Monatano’s Dystopian apocalyptic world will feed your desire for a thrilling Vampire story. Get your copy today! vampire_down_final_rgb (1) AMAZON NOOK SMASHWORDS STEVE MONTANO If you love fantasy as well as Vampires then check out DARK MOON SHADOW by Robert Penner. Plenty of Wizards, Magic, Elves, Gnomes, and fantastic fantasy adventure!

E-book Pricing: Are .99cent e-books good for authors?

I read a couple of articles about cheaply priced e-books lately and I am shocked at the consensus that this cheap price of .99cents is actually a good thing. Sure there is the occasionally low priced book to draw customers in, or as a blitz promotion. I have no problem with that, that actually makes marketing sense. However, that is not what is going on in the world of e-book publishing today. The mass of Indie authors have so cheaply devalued their work that the $2.99 and below is a bench mark price for the casual shopper, and anything above that, I feel, has become too much for most. After all who can resist spending .99cents on a bunch of unknown authors and fill up their e-reader with a lot of material that one can get to later on down the road? The argument in favor of this is that with more patrons dropping a dollar multiple times in the pot spreads the wealth around for all authors. What a stupid argument. Let me ask you Indie author, “How much is your book worth to you? How much did you scrape to pay that illustrator for that awesome cover? How much did you pay that editor? (I hope you had an editor) How much did you pay for that proof print if you developed a copy for print? How much did you drop down on a website? How much time did it take for you to create your world and put ink to paper (type to document)? How much does all that total? If you have done most of the above, how much e-copies will you have to sell to just to break even? Mind you your royalties from Amazon are only .35cents a copy if sold for .99cents. Tell me where that makes any kind of sense? We have had this great opportunity to be Indie Authors and avoid the big house publisher to go it our own way, and what we are doing is shooting ourselves in the foot! Sure there are some books that are worth .99cents, and sure there are books that aren’t even worth that much due to the careless Indie who is putting out garbage, but for the rest of us who take writing seriously, we are getting screwed by those that buy into the cheap is more philosophy. For many of us that are unknown there is no way to distinguish our work from the rest, but only by price and cover/blurb. If we are lumped in with the rest, who is going to take a risk on a $5.99 e-book over a .99cent ebook with the same quality cover and blurb? Bargain shoppers are now driving the market, and in most cases filling their bins with low quality writing and therefore just affirming the stereotype of the Indie author as poor writing, no structure, bad formatting, and no editing.

I’ve learned a pricing structure from successful author’s Michael A. Stackpole (Price isn’t the point) and Dean Wesley Smith (Ebook Pricing). Research them out if you want to learn about how they come up with e-book value and pricing. I can tell you it’s not .99cents.

Not sure if it was Joe Konrath who said this, but nothing says Cheap like a Cheaply priced book. If it wasn’t you Joe than sorry about that. The point is Indie authors are saying all their expenses and hard work is only worth .35cents in royalty and if they don’t believe their stuff is worth more, then what does that say for the rest of us? It says that we are overpricing. The norm is now bargain bin pricing. Read the above articles and learn about what is a reasonable price for an e-book. If we play this thing smart we can all make money selling e-books.

Indie Publishing

In this new world of Indie publishing it is always my pursuit to find the best tips and productive advice to stay on the cutting edge of self-publishing. As an Indie author of Fantasy it is especially hard, I think, and need the best help I can get. I assume you are the same way if you are a writer. In my efforts to stay informed I am committed to sharing with you anything I learn and can be interpreted as valuable. If any of you haven’t visited JA Konrath website I recommend it. His blog is full of gems that can help you carve your niche in the Self-publishing market. Here Konrath lists a top eleven points on how to “Tend Your Garden,” or in other words “Tend your e-book.” You can view his blog HERE. All of his tips are valid and deserve a go if you haven’t tried any of them yet. As an Indie Author you have total control of your book and the power to tweak your methods of marketing. I will point out my experiences with Konrath pionts…here we go:
1.) Change prices. Konrath says to “Don’t be afraid to wield that power…” This is something I’ve tried in the past with little success. I will admit that I haven’t tried this to the point that will prevent me from giving it another go, but unless your book is totally FREE I found that sales related to a price adjustment made little difference. Example: When I had my Mysterious Knight e-book for sale I started it at $1.99. It is a short story by the way. I experienced very modest sales at first and then hit a massive lull. I dropped the price to $.99 to give it a kick. I saw little to no change. Then I made it free. Tons of downloads. I have become very skeptical to price changing as a method to increase sales. I think there are a lot of e-book buyers that search for nothing but bargain and free e-books. I am of the mindset that you should get paid for your work. The best advice I’ve found on this subject is to price your book to equate that it is worth reading. Dropping your price might give buyers the wrong impression about your work. Now if you are pricing your e-book at an unreasonable market price then you might want to consider this option.
2.) Newsletter…I agree completely. Let anyone who is a fan of your work have some way to get the inside scoop on what you are doing and when your next book is coming out.
3.) Sales. KDP sounds great and I’ve thought about going exclusively KDP, but as of yet I’m still sticking with other advice on making my work available on as many sites and platforms I can. It is hard to beat 70% royalties though.
4.) Advertising. This is the hardest and most annoying part of writing…the editing part is not far behind. Since I am not a huge success yet as an Indie author, and I lack the minimum star reviews required, I really can’t speak on Bookbub. There are many advertising sites out there that want to keep a reputation of finding the best priced and quality ebooks out there. In order to do this many will require that you have a minimum of ten reviews of four stars and above to be included or considered. On top of that you have to pay them. I would dare to say it would be worth it, but getting the reviews is a tricky and hard process. The tricky part is doing it honestly. You can pay for reviews, but I would not recommend it. Many other advertising sites will only list your book if it is bargain priced or free. Here again, I think many Indie authors are hurting the market by offering their work for free. Unless it is part of a kick start campaign or something you guys are killing us!
5.) Change your cover art. Konrath has a good point. A good cover is a good advertisement. A bad one says, “I’m cheap and so is my work.” Your writing is the best advertisement, but if you can’t get someone to at least try you, what good is it?
6.) Web presence. Have a blog or a website…It’s a must.
7.) I use as many platforms as I can. Here Konrath is saying see what other platforms are up to. I say use them too. Although you can’t be a part of KDP program while using other e-book distributors.
8.) Stop worrying about how other authors are doing. Excellent advice by Konrath. Konrath has made a ton of money and he is very transparent about it. His writing is also what keeps his fans and patrons. What I and every other Indie author need to worry about is our own writing. His success, or anybody else’s success is from their own writing and hard work. Use them as inspiration and gleam any bit of advice they might have to offer, but don’t get down on yourself because of anyone’s success.
9.) Experiment…all the time.
10.) Share…This is an ever changing animal and we as Indie authors do best to share what we learn with other Indie authors. It only helps us get stronger. I appreciate Konrath and the likes for sharing what they learn to help all of us.
11.) Lastly, stop complaining. Agree. How does complaining help you sell books?

Dark Moon Shadow…Get your copy now!…Don’t miss the fantasy!

Breakout Books by Apple

I haven’t been to the ibookstore app in quite some time until today because of a blog I was reading here: http://www.teleread.com/ I have written critically about apple and the ibookstore because of the high prices and mostly because they make it so difficult for the indie author to publish. Save yourself the trouble and have Smashwords do it for you. I have to eat some crow now because I was blown away by what I saw in the ibookstore. Apple transformed a clunky, hard to find books, and over priced online book store into a gem of eye candy. Best of all Apple is now featuring Breakout Books from self-published authors. Credit to Smashwords for being the source for the bulk of those books. I also noticed a ton of e-books from $3.99 and lower. This is great news for us Indie Authors. Amazon Kindle is still my favorite, but I am excited that Apple is making it easier and better for us aspiring authors who choose to make it our own way.

I see this as a major breakthrough in the power play against traditional publishing and self publishing. Although I am still not 100% clear on how the Breakout Books are selected, but in any case they are still from self published authors and that, for me, is a good sign. However, (taking off my rose-colored glasses) this could be another way of Big Powerful Company trying to control. “Just saying.”

Either way, publishing is ever-changing and it is up to us to stay alert and ahead of what is going on out there. Most importantly, if you are an Indie Author, keep writing and putting out good material.

Sticks and Stone…Indie Author

I just read a post on Kindle Author by David Wisehart author of Devil’s Lair (a fantastic book) where he interviewed author Lee Goldberg. Although Mr. Goldberg gave good insight about his experience putting up his book on Kindle, the only thing that stood out for me was his disdain for the indie author. To be fair he said not all Indie authors work is bad, but he insinuated that most of all that he has ever downloaded or sampled from Indie authors was pure unintelligent garbage.  He favors the traditional route of publishing over self-publishing and he makes it perfectly clear.  Read the article and see what I mean about the total lack of credit he gives Indie publishing because of poorly edited and terribly structured stories.

Mr. Goldberg has a point to an extent, but that is nothing new when we Indie authors get stereo typed as poor writers. Sure, there is a ton of bad edited work out there, and his point is that buyers, once they get burned by a bad product, will leave the Indie world and in return hurts Indie publishing. OK, point taken. Let’s think about this though; I have sample loaded, downloaded free ebooks, and even purchased some and I have not experienced what Mr. Goldberg says at all. Ebooks by David Wisehart and Steve Montano are excellent works that are Indie (I paid for those). I’ve read great works from Michael Stackpole and Robert Jordan that have had typos within the traditional published paperback. Even the best works have errors. Most patrons that purchase Indie ebooks realize that the books they are buying are not edited by professionals provided by big publishing houses. That is what they are looking for actually. Indie patrons are searching for the hidden story, the adventure of the unknown author and enjoy what we unknowns have to say. They know this and it’s all part of their adventure.  Most of us Indie authors are publishing our work on extremely low budgets and don’t have all the backing for a well-edited piece of work. True, there are those that don’t take special care before they self-publish and it does hurt the rest of us, but to throw us all into a criticism that is so defaming it is egregious at best. Sorry Mr. Goldberg, but it seems to me that there is a little “hater” in you when it come to Indie publishing, and I happen to applaud a commenter who said “stick to your writing instead of criticizing us.”

Mr. Goldberg is entitled to his opinion, but he is influencing potential buyers and steering them away from testing the Indie market by scaring them. Now that is unfair to all of us Indie authors/self publishers.

Take heart Indie authors/publishers and keep up the hard work, put out quality material, and keep writing so the adventurous Indie patrons have a great product that will give them a fantastic fantasy ride as they read.