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!

Can you get your book into a book store?

So you think you can’t get your book into a book store? That, according to Dean Wesley Smith, is a myth. His book “Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing” Addresses this issue: Get Indie Books into Bookstores. Dean has a wealth of knowledge in this area and after reading this fantastic article he proves it over and over again. This article starts off with a history of publishing and how nothing really has changed today…only just a little. I tend to fall into the category of skeptic when this subject comes up, because I have fallen into the trap that Indie Authors are lowly and can never, or hardly ever get their books into a bookstore. That was certainly before electronic publishing. Technically I’m totally wrong because Amazon and Smashwords are bookstores, just virtual. I think we are talking about the tangible, feel the spine of a book, physical piece that we want in a physical, walk-in and browse bookstore. This I am still a doubter, but Dean walks you through the must and must not, easy yet not so easy, path to seeing your printed story sold in a bookstore. I can see that it is doable, but not for the faint of heart. I have to admit that when it comes to thinking like a publisher I get scared, passive, and dare I say lazy. It’s really the hard part of being an Indie Author. Luckily we have e-books and can stick to that route exclusively, but if we want to market our story in a way for most exposure and profitability we need to grasp our minds around, and think like a true publisher. In all reality that is what we are. Now, I’m not saying that I will actually follow this path and get my books into a physical bookstore, or even in their catalog, but what I am saying is that if I choose to work hard enough it can be done…that I have  no doubt about it. Dean, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, is a masterpiece of knowledge and his Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing is a must read for any Indie Author ( He has links on his site where you can read it chapter by chapter). Thanks Dean for another excellent lesson in publishing!

My new Fantasy Novel: Dark Moon Shadow is coming soon!

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.

Premium approved on Smashwords

Not much of a post here, but all my newly improved short novels have been vetted through and are now being distributed via Smashwords premium catalog. Tempest didn’t make the cut until I make one minor adjustment. I will do that when I can. All this means is aside from my direct works on Amazon for Kindle, Smashwords will make my work available on a host of other distribution sites such as iBooks, Kobo, Sony, etc.

I am working on a post that will step-by-step log my process of signing up and uploading my e-books through a new digital distribution service. Stay tuned for that.

Happy reading.

 

 

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.