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Messages - Evenstar

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1
Writers' Cafe / Re: Content warnings?
« on: Yesterday at 02:16:15 PM »
I have a family member who recently had a baby (healthy, though it was a difficult birth), and she now can't read/watch anything where kids are in danger or hurt. Which I didn't really know was even a thing, but there it is. (Though she was more sensitive than many when it comes to depictions of violence already.) So I think content warnings like that can be appropriate. I just wouldn't put it on the cover. Somewhere in the description, sure, maybe.

I'm like that too. I get really traumatized and can hardly sleep just seeing a fictional tv show where someones child is missing. I can't read news stories about children being harmed, and I avoid books where it is the subject matter. I don't know why I have such an extreme reaction, as I've never personally dealt with any related situations, it's just a parents worst fear.

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Retiring! Maybe. Probably. For now, at least.
« on: April 18, 2018, 09:07:51 AM »
I hope that 'light finger' includes posting here often.  :D


3
I'd assume the "Ultimate" strategy, if such a thing exists, is something like this.

1) pick a popular sub-genre. Note I said sub-genre, not genre. E.g. urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy or paranormal romance is a sub-genre of romance. You might need to niche down further, depending on the size of the sub-genre - too big, and it gets very expensive to gain visibility. It's probably easiest/fastest to pick a sub-genre that does well with Kindle Unlimited, but doing so opens you up to risk, since the program is currently in a state of flux and changes - potentially big ones - seem imminent.

1a) read 50 books from the sub-genre - 25 current indie bestsellers on the Top 100, 25 genre "classics." Note that a "classic" might only be five years old, or two, depending on how new the genre is.

2) get covers that emulate the key tropes/style of the Top 100 bestsellers in that genre, particularly the Top 20. Pro covers can be had for $200/ea; any more than that might get you better designs, but typically doesn't move the needle. Being on the nose will do more than a beautiful design; you want people to instantly recognize, in under 1 second, your book's sub-genre from the title/cover. No need to release in paperback unless you want to. Audio is expensive to produce up front (if you're commissioning the books yourself), but can be lucrative in some genres if the eBook is already selling. If it's not, then don't bother with audio.

3) study the blurbs in the Top 100 of your sub-genre, and copy at least 50 of them by hand (one per day) to get the feeling in your bones. Break them apart and see what similarities/differences there are in them. Analyze what the key tropes are by reading reviews/studying the blurbs and finding what readers actually want from the genre.

4) write a full-length novel (50k+ words) a month, minimum, all on the same pen name. All the same genre. No weird [crap]. Pound the tropes and give readers what they want. Only write in series; at least trilogies. You can write longer series if the first book in a series is a hit and you like writing longer than a trilogy. Otherwise, trilogies limit your risk while also giving you good sales upside.

4a) do this for a year.

4b) write sixteen books instead of twelve in that year, if you can manage it; this will get things going even faster.

4c) release your first three books at once (e.g. an entire trilogy, or the first three books of a series) and go all out with the advertising on Book 1 @ $0.99. Have Book 4 or the next series's Book 1 available a month later. This, coupled with sixteen releases (e.g. you'd have 3 right out of the gate, then write basically a book a month thereafter) could blow the doors off your earnings right from the drop and keep them trending up.

5) start an email list. Write a novella that ties into your main series, and offer that for free to entice people to sign up. Put the link to your free novella sign-up in the front matter on its own page, and also put it in the back matter, right after the end.

5a) or, alternatively, don't write a novella. End every book on a cliffhanger (except the last one in a series, obviously) and include a newsletter link to "get an email when the next book comes out" right after the end. The cliffhangers will make some readers extremely angry, but - if done right - will also generate many sign-ups to your newsletter and also increase sell-through from Book 1 > Book 2 > Book 3 and so forth. Your call.

6) do a bit of advertising - promo sites, AMS/FB/BookBub. If you release once a month or quicker, you can probably get away with like $200/mo and still make good money. Perhaps even no advertising, depending on the sub-genre. If you pick a very competitive sub-genre, even with quick releases your ad budget will probably need to be high.

Marketing books to read:

Chris Fox's Write Faster, Write Smarter series (all six books; they're short)
Brian Meeks's Mastering Amazon Ads,
Michael Cooper's Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!
Bryan Cohen's How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis

To learn the fundamentals of Facebook/PPC Ads, the best option is to take Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors course, which is $750, but will shortcut your learning curve significantly and save you time/money. You can sign up for the mailing list to receive three free videos to if his teaching style resonates, as well as to get an email when the course opens again.

I have no affiliation with any of the authors listed; I just thought those books/courses were good. I've also written a free guide that totals 40,000+ words which distills most of the common knowledge into a step-by-step kind of system online here.

In summation:

1) read 50 books in your sub-genre over the next year.
2) write 12 - 16 full-length novels (50k+ words) in your sub-genre over the next year. All the same pen name. All at least trilogies; successful series can be extended if you like.
3) get pro covers ($200 max) that match the feel/tone of your sub-genre's bestsellers
4) study the Top 100 bestselling blurbs in your sub-genre
5) analyze the Top 100 sub-genre's reviews for common reader likes/dislikes.
6) make an email list and build that continuously
7) advertise
8) read the marketing books above

While it's impossible to engineer a true bestseller a la The Hunger Games (or even a breakout indie hit), you can create a steady stream of midlist hits that make good money if you develop the right skills. There's much less variability in the midlist game, provided you have the skills - although, even if you're really, really good, certain books won't resonate with your sub-genre's audience and you'll have misses. That's why the ability to crank out books is so important.

Anyway, I excited myself just writing all that out - woooo, fast riches - and I honestly think that would work really, really well, but here's the catch: if you can't crank at that level (the most important variable here is to release a full-length novel every month in a popular sub-genre), which most people can't (myself included; the above is not what I do, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about "optimal" strategies, and that's what I've settled on), you have to start tweaking the variables.

Instead of releasing every month, you might do it every two, but bump up your advertising budget. Work on networking with other authors. Build your email list more aggressively That sort of thing. To execute this strategy, you must be able to grind through the workload, which is an insurmountable challenge for most. To be clear, most of this is not what I do (production pace-wise, at least), nor have I tested it as laid out. But it does strike me as the most direct path to writing full-time.

Nick

Very nice summary Nick, that's pretty much my plan too  ;)

Also, branding! Brand yourself, make your covers instantly identifiable as your brand, and get a website to match (website is optional, but very inexpensive).

4
Writers' Cafe / Re: What Authors Need to Know
« on: April 11, 2018, 11:35:06 AM »
Would the following weekend, April 28th and 29th work better for UK peeps? I can do 3 PM - 6 PM EST them again, that's 8PM-11PM London time.

Yep.

5
Hi Sean, it looks like we missed giving you the official welcome, so here it is  :)

Greetings! You're welcome to promote your business and website here in the Writers' Cafe.

Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages, found here: http://www.kboards.com/yp/. The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page. More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.

In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar: you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time. New threads about the service will be removed. Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again when you want to post. You may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days. If someone responds (as I'm doing with this post), you may reply to them, but otherwise you must wait seven days. Any pattern of posting designed to artificially bump your thread to the top of the forum is prohibited. Please note that very short or (one- or two-word) posts with no meaningful information are discouraged and may be deleted at the moderators' discretion. Lastly, your posts and images will need to meet our "forum decorum" guidelines, which is the case for every member.

You may find that members ask searching questions -- about how your service works, for example, or what they will get for their money, or whether your service adheres to Amazon's terms of service. Such "vetting" is a common here.

Note that members are allowed to provide civil and honest feedback about your service in this thread. This feedback may include criticisms as well as kudos. You may respond to criticism in a civil manner, but name-calling, badgering, accusations of lying, and other breaches of forum decorum can lead to loss of vendor posting privileges.

Any and all disputes between you and your clients should be handled off-site.

Thanks,
Evenstar
KBoards Moderator

(Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards. Members should do due diligence when considering using a service.)

6
Writers' Cafe / Re: What Authors Need to Know
« on: April 11, 2018, 10:47:36 AM »
(I'm now responding as an author, not as a mod.)

The workshops sound great. I've been doing this for five years and I'd still appreciate more training on these topics.
But... Gah! You picked the worst weekend, I'm on a panel at a literary festival and not free. (The evening ones are at 1am UK time, which is a bit too late when I have to be fresh and interesting the next day.)

If you do add in other session times then please make sure to post them here.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: What Authors Need to Know
« on: April 11, 2018, 10:39:52 AM »
And to the mods, I know this is my only thread on this topic and you don't have to welcome me to Kboards :)


Ha! I have to anyway  ;D

Greetings Elizabeth! You're welcome to promote your business and website here in the Writers' Cafe.

Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages, found here: http://www.kboards.com/yp/. The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page. More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.

In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar: you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time. New threads about the service will be removed. Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again when you want to post. You may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days. If someone responds (as I'm doing with this post), you may reply to them, but otherwise you must wait seven days. Any pattern of posting designed to artificially bump your thread to the top of the forum is prohibited. Please note that very short or (one- or two-word) posts with no meaningful information are discouraged and may be deleted at the moderators' discretion. Lastly, your posts and images will need to meet our "forum decorum" guidelines, which is the case for every member.

You may find that members ask searching questions -- about how your service works, for example, or what they will get for their money, or whether your service adheres to Amazon's terms of service. Such "vetting" is a common here.

Note that members are allowed to provide civil and honest feedback about your service in this thread. This feedback may include criticisms as well as kudos. You may respond to criticism in a civil manner, but name-calling, badgering, accusations of lying, and other breaches of forum decorum can lead to loss of vendor posting privileges.

Any and all disputes between you and your clients should be handled off-site.

Thanks,
Evenstar
KBoards Moderator

(Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards. Members should do due diligence when considering using a service.)

8
I'm going to concur with everyone here. With just one book out I would be spending that money on AMS. That will keep the sales trickling in and keep your rank fairly stable.

When you have second (or better yet) third book out, then do a big promo push by making book one free for a few days and try to get a massive amount of downloads using all the promo sites.

9
Folks, I can't help feeling this is part of the same story as the long scammer thread and I'm going to merge the two to keep it all in one place.

Sorry for any confusion!

Evenstar, Moderator

10
Writers' Cafe / Re: Pre-made cover help.
« on: April 06, 2018, 11:13:01 AM »
I like the second one, but I'd ask the designer to remove the scroll stuff at the bottom.

11
Writers' Cafe / Re: Making a living... Everyone is different
« on: April 06, 2018, 02:22:15 AM »
I do.

Nix the pen name and bring the lot under one name. You're fragmenting your audience (and your YA peeps, if they weren't middle-aged women would have grown up already) and most likely, these peeps love your style and a substantial number would come across. Or at least enough people to increase sales.

An author page with 20 books looks much more attractive than one with five, especially to big readers who get tired of having to look for yet another author to read.

Thanks Patty, appreciated  :)

I did try engaging with my list about the new stuff and got a weird backlash. It seems as though my YA readers are kind of religious! They didn't like vampires at all and told me so vocally, and also I had two moms email me to say how much they appreciated the fact that my old books are so clean and always bought them and could I please not encourage their daughters to read grown up romance with sex in it.

I could just ignore those few, but as my list is 100% organic they are all "true fans", and I feel like I should listen.

However, my YA name does have a PNR (clean) witch series, and I was thinking of shifting that over to my new name. So the new name would then have 8 books instead of 5. But then I got worried about diluting my new brand with a YA series. Sigh...

I know I'm splitting my audience even more, but I honestly think the younger end of the YA market is a hopeless for long term security and I was just going to let that name fade. Or not... I don't know, maybe keep putting out the occasional Flirting Games novella?

Ha ha! When I type it out like this, I can see how much I'm floundering right now!

12
Writers' Cafe / Re: Making a living... Everyone is different
« on: April 05, 2018, 01:03:16 PM »
I'm trying to figure out what this means, and answer the implied question: "why?".

I see 4 books. Do you have a different pen name? Are your other books in a significantly different genre? How has the landscape changed since then? Have you continued to release books? Are you books too short? (longer books have longer legs, longer tails and make more in KU if you use it).

If you have multiple pen names in varying genres, you've probably missed out on the building effect of keeping everything in one place. You have multiple fan bases instead of one fan base. You've missed out on the critical mass there seems to be when your fan base becomes self-supporting. Split fan bases means split mailing lists, which also means when you launch a new book, you only get a fraction of the push you would have had if your 20 books were in one genre under one pen name. Longer series in the same genre also gets more readers in the long run. People like to see authors committed to a genre. Readers are more likely to start reading your books if they see you have a lot of backlist.

So, if there's a way to rectify these problems, you might see more commercial success.

Hi David, sorry, I've been here so long that I sometimes forget that people don't automatically know everything about me, lol.

I was writing under the name Stella Wilkinson, and I have 16 teen romances under that name. That's what I was making the money on, but it just wasn't growing. My first series was very popular but then it waned (it has been all out for a couple of years now) and none of the others really did as well as the first. (Sometimes I think I should have just kept writing 'Flirting Games' books until there were fifty of them!)

So I took the decision to move away from YA.  The books that you see in my signature now are the new pen name and me starting over. It was a bit of a bold decision and I'm still scared of it, but I enjoy writing something with a bit more weight (they are historical fantasy even though I have branded them as PNR) and more in the genre that I personally read most.

I am aware that it will take some time to build up the new name and a backlist and a new mailing list, and thus also take time to build income with those books. I'm okay with that most of the time...

But if you have some good advice then I'm all ears?

13
Writers' Cafe / Re: book covers
« on: April 04, 2018, 03:11:56 PM »
What Scarlett said ^

I DO buy a book by it's cover, all the time.

I have a special weakness for those cartoony cozy mysteries, especially if there is a paranormal element like a black cat on the cover or some bubbling cauldron with sparkles. I buy those in paperback and barely even glimpse over the blurb.

When I'm browsing ebooks I tend towards colours that pop. I glaze over muted tones. But that's just me and I know it isn't everyone.

But where I suspect I am in the majority is that I automatically look for books in the crowd trying to see the genres I like. If it's not obvious then you've lost me.

I looked through those covers and the only one that caught my attention was Deception Crossing. But then I saw it was book 3 or 4 in a series and it lost me again. Clicked away...

Covers matter a LOT

14
Writers' Cafe / Re: APRIL CHALLENGE: Create fast cover and blurb
« on: April 04, 2018, 02:57:20 PM »
That was about 30 seconds with the graphics tablet. Any less and you'd get 3 straight lines and a novel called 'PI'

Yes, but RULES people! Is Piggy an already published book? That was the criteria. Sheesh, you try to organize a thing...


15
Writers' Cafe / Re: APRIL CHALLENGE: Create fast cover and blurb
« on: April 04, 2018, 01:40:17 AM »
NO NO NO!

These covers are all amazing, they are supposed to be thrown together!

Are you all really that talented? It's not fair...

And Pandorra, I got chills reading your blurb, especially the last bit.

No one is going to win unless you come up with something a bit more rubbish  ;)


16
Writers' Cafe / Re: APRIL CHALLENGE: Create fast cover and blurb
« on: April 03, 2018, 11:31:21 AM »
I have 12 pages of notes for this thing now, and I just polished the blurb up. Not litigation fodder at all ...


When a battered old robot washes up on the shores of the Old Kingdom, it signals the end of a fragile alliance between the four ancient Houses. It turns out dragons are really tasty, and having filleted, boned and baked their powerful allies to the very brink of extinction, no single House can hope to win out against the other three.
Into this shaky impasse steps the mechanical man, impervious to crude weapons, magic, suspicious wedding feasts, poisoned pies, and fire of any colour, be it wild or tame.
Each House stakes their claim to the mechanical marvel, convinced the mysterious creature will lead them to a crushing victory against the others once they teach it to fly. And breathe fire. And, you know, ignore the Three Laws.
It's just a pity none of them thought to ask the robot what it wants.

Very Douglas Adams

17
Writers' Cafe / Re: Thousand Words a Day Club 2018
« on: April 03, 2018, 08:17:49 AM »
There have been several reports and some action taken behind the scenes. We are discussing whether to edit any posts, but as most have been responded to already, I'm inclined to leave them as they are. However, we are keeping an eye on the thread. I don't want to ban anyone from posting in it, but lets drop the insults, veiled or otherwise please.

Evenstar, Moderator

18
Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout is no more?
« on: April 02, 2018, 05:07:44 PM »
Why would someone who's built their sales up to midlist level accept a 50% royality vs. the 70% that they're getting now?  Amazon cannot guarantee turning you into a bestseller, and sometimes midlist is the largest audience you're going to get in your particular niche.  At 70% royality, that's about the best you can do in terms of profit. 

There's comes a point in these deals in which the only way Amazon is going to see a significant profit means that the author has to be giving up potential earnings to Amazon.  In other words, the contract has to be tilted in Amazon's favor.

Midlist, when you're self-publishing at 70%, can bring in some nice money.  Midlist at a major trad publisher (especially the lower end) can mean you're forced to work a second job on the side to support yourself because the contract sucks.

I think it's a numbers game (for us). If you are mid-list then it's very possible that you can produce fairly regularly, in which case there is no harm at all in taking a punt on an Amazon publishing contract for one book/series. I know I would. I think I'd chose it over the money because the power of the zon should not be underestimated, it could be just the push you need. Or it could do nothing at all and you're gnashing your teeth at getting suckered in. Either way, it's worth the experiment as long as it isn't all your eggs.

19
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is anyone doing Camp Nanowrimo in April?
« on: April 02, 2018, 05:00:09 PM »
I wish it was Nano every month.

I feel so ahead of the game for a change when I'm doing this. I know my plot, and I have my outline, and my daily goals and my word count gets logged each day.

Why can't I be this structured on a regular month?

I think the accountability is the key!

I've done less than 2k today, but I'm ahead of my word count so I feel great instead of crappy. Weird feeling!

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: APRIL CHALLENGE: Create fast cover and blurb
« on: April 02, 2018, 11:06:56 AM »
The challenge people! The challenge!

I will be offering a reward for the worst cover and blurb (of an already published book!), I'll take you for afternoon breakfast at my local.

21
Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout is no more?
« on: April 02, 2018, 11:03:46 AM »
That's a shame, I thought it was a good thing. But as David says, it is quite possible they will come up with a new way of doing it, maybe approaching mid-listers instead of having all sorts of random submissions?

22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is anyone doing Camp Nanowrimo in April?
« on: April 01, 2018, 10:50:04 AM »
I'm in Victoria's cabin.
Some people have word count already! Not me, but I know it will be good. I have no idea why Nano works so well for me, but it does.

23
Writers' Cafe / APRIL CHALLENGE: Create fast cover and blurb
« on: April 01, 2018, 08:36:35 AM »
I thought we might have a fun little game.

You have to make your own cover for one of your books. Without spending either time or money!

And write a blurb with zero thought gone into it!

I'll start:

Immortal Blood

Drinking the blood of the Holy Grail makes people immortal. We call them vampires.
Bad guys want the Grail. A witch and a vampire will try to keep it safe and might fall in love.




24
I can honestly say that the one thing that made the biggest difference for me was finding the Writers Cafe on Kboards.

Not that this is very helpful to anyone reading this, because, well, you're already here. But I couldn't believe the wealth of information in one place, the amazing support and sharing from authors I already admired and read.

It all started here for me. The learning curve was big at first, and then I got my first book out and got to put it in my signature. I think at one point I had my signature loaded with about twenty of my books (all shrunk down so it fit on one line, lol).

I made friends, I found colleagues, I learned and learned and learned. Then I reached a point where I felt like it was rare to learn something new here because I'd been around so long, and became a Moderator so I could give back in some way. But you know what? The industry changes all the time, and I never stop learning.

I'd still be talking about one day being a published author if it wasn't for the WC.

25
Writers' Cafe / Re: Course Recommendations?
« on: March 31, 2018, 06:31:53 AM »
Oh, I get it. I've had the same thing in the past.

If it is what I got, you don't have to be doing the actual course immediately, just enroll and pay up front (well, the company pays). But I agree with exactly what Patty says.

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