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.

High Intensity Writing Workout

If you’ve read my post for any length of time then you know that I am a huge fan of Science Fiction/ Fantasy author Michael Stackpole. I’ve learned so much from him in the past and will plug anything he has going on that is good, given the chance. I do it because he has done so much for me in my development as a writer and self-publisher. Since the podcast the Dragon Page Cover to Cover ended (sadly), he’s scaled back dramatically on his postings, but here is, what I think will be a series, of new writing posts on improving your writing skills: High Intensity Writing Workout No 1.

If you are new writer, or one just starting out this writing exercise is crucial for creating dialogue that will cause your story to flow. Often we fall into habits of writing dialogue that is choppy and full of descriptions that tell us who is speaking. One of the best tips I learned from Mr. Stackpole about writing is that you don’t need to tell the reader who is speaking all the time. How you frame your dialogue will say who is speaking without telling he reader necessarily. Writing dialogue with attribution texts as opposed to tags makes a ton of difference. Great tips for writing. Check his post out and do the exercise for a complete and better understanding.

Happy Reading.

Digital Publishing for Indie Authors

Today while surfing through my twitter feeds I came across an interesting link posted by famed author Michael Stackpole. I always appreciate the stuff he puts up. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of his books…Stop what you are doing and go check out his website and buy some of his works…My favorite is his Dragon Crown War series…totally awesome fantasy series! Michael’s tweet was linked to a very informative website entitled Digital Book World. While I haven’t been able to peruse all of this site yet the main story was about another digital (e-book) publishing site called Tomely. The one I use with great success is Smashwords, but I am always in search for new avenues to peddle my wares. With that being said my aim in this post is to inform you about Tomely and my process of uploading my short novels for sale.

The first thing I did was go to Tomely. This initial link did not open up the home page, but there is a note promising that Tomely is looking into the issue. Good thing there was another link that took me to the Tomely home page. The site is a little clunky, but I was able to figure out their process fairly easily after clicking the provided tabs. Tomely is an epub only service, but will auto convert to the needed format depending on what type the buyer needs. Very similar to the Smashwords meat grinder (auto converter).  So if you don’t have a piece of software that will do this for you that is something you will need to find and download before you can truly begin. I found this to be a little irritating, but to save you some time I used Calibre. Google it and download it…it’s free. Another issue I ran into was Calibre doesn’t do (.doc) files. I ended up converting my .doc file to an .rtf file. If you are not familiar with Calibre it will take some time to get it down.

Take a deep breath…This is not a process that will satisfy our need for instant gratification.

With that bit of knowledge you will need to sign up with Tomely. I signed up and will need to pause this post in order to continue…why? Well this process is not instant. After signing up, apparently I needed to wait for someone at Tomely to send me an email with an approval allowing me to then continue. The grade for Tomely is falling by the hour. Note: after I signed up they thanked me for being a part of the beta process and someone will get back with me shortly. (4:10pm)

After a five hour break I finally got the welcome email from Tomely. (9:33pm)

Soon as I filled out a few lines and created a password I had to link my PayPal account in order to get paid. You have to have a PayPal account. These steps were fairly painless.

Next was even easier! Drop and drag your Calibre created epub file in the Manage Books area and you are in business. I set my price, copy and pasted my book blurb, and then uploaded an avatar to complete the job and then applied.

The wait was worth it. The upload process was super easy. Now the only thing to do is see if sales translate.

Overall I give this entire process an 8 out of 10. Mostly due to the five hour delay. If you are an Indie author Tomely is worth a look.

Happy Reading everyone.

Amazon and E-books

Thanks to Michael Stackpole for tweeting this story, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/VqwEWV

This story has some great interest for me since I write/ self-publish/ read e-books.  Although I am super fond of paper books I have learned and grown to love reading on my e-book device. I have several reading devices in my house: ipad, kindle paper white, nook (1st edition), and my daughter has a kindle fire. All are great gadgets, but by far my favorite to read with is the kindle paper white. I only wish the book covers were in color. Oh-well you can’t get everything you want. I jumped on this e-book revolution years ago and even before the curve thanks to The Dragon Page Cover to Cover podcast that turned me on to the subject. No looking back from that time on. Amazon and Apple have been the leaders in the e-book market as most of you may already know, but I am growing ever so irritated at the rising cost of the e-book. As Amazon profit margins soar, I can agree with the article that the next five years will not look anything as the first five. I think, at least for me, the cost of purchasing a paperless book will have a lot to do with it. Apple is even pricier than Amazon. It really is amazing to me how anyone buys e-books through the ibook store. I know Amazon lets self-published authors set their own prices so I am not exactly down on them for that part. Here is just one example: Terry Brooks, whom I read, sells his books for mostly 8$ and higher. Exactly the same as a paperback edition. Hard to justify. Although no disrespect to Terry Brooks, more power to you if you make sales. I think that is great for him, but bad for the consumer. I am a sucker though, I bought his book anyway.

Ipad and Kindle Fire are not great for reading books, in my opinion, because of the glass screen and headache causing glare. But they do look good though…a ton of eye-candy for book covers.

Great article, check it out.

 

PENNERSTORIES NEWS

Hello all,

It’s been a little while since my last post, because I’ve actually been busy with writing and life. With all that said and out-of-the-way I would like to introduce my new cover for Dark Moon Shadow. It seems like I’ve been talking about this book for a long time…wait! I have. The progress meter shows where I’m at in the writing process. I am currently near 60K words with a goal of 110K. I have made a lot of progress this year and things are moving along nicely. Not as fast as I would like and certainly not as fast as some other writers I frequently blog with, but hey that’s life.

Greg Banks did my The Fifth Gospel Cover back in 2005 and was summoned to work on Dark Moon Shadow. I love his work and his zeal to help the Indie Author. I asked him to create a cover in the same flavor as some of my favorite fantasy authors: Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time”, and Robin Hobb as well as Michael Stackpole “Dragon Crown Wars”. I love the comic book/ cartoon  fantasy feel that are on those covers. Greg “I think” did a fantastic job and I certainly hope my book will live up to the hype of the cover. I believe it will 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Moon Shadow has it all: Sword play, Wizards, Magic, Kings, Elves, Evil vs. Good, Dragons, Magical places, Love, and just about everything you would expect in an epic fantasy. I look forward to finishing the story and bringing it to you all very soon.

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.