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Messages - Carol (was Dara)

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Am I Guilty of Cover Theft?
« on: July 18, 2018, 02:36:45 PM »
I couldn't judge without seeing the two covers for comparison. There's a certain look that you expect to find on urban fantasy covers - a strong, young female with glowing hands, long flowing hair and tight leather clothing, a determined pose and expression, an urban or forest background (which is often dark/stormy/dramatic), swirls of smoke or magic, a blue/purple or orange/gold color scheme... These are shorthand for the genre. But. If there are unique design elements or combinations that stand out as non-typical and nearly identical, that's a different matter.

Like Lilly says, I'd show both covers to a few people experienced in the genre and ask their thoughts as to whether the artist has simply captured the typical genre look or if there's an unusual degree of similarity and changes need to be made.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Changes to ACX Bounty Program
« on: July 17, 2018, 04:33:23 PM »
Despite the higher bounty, this is a blow to audio profitability for authors IMO. It means no more bounties falling into our laps through Bookbubs or other non-audio specific ads. No more accidental bounties from sales to casual browsers. Going forward, bounties will only be for authors who use ads like FB to drive traffic specifically to the audio and to those who have large mailing list followings or frequent website visitors to click the specific links.

The higher bounty benefits authors skilled with FB ads but, over all, it looks like average authors are collectively going to lose a lot of money. If I were on the fence about whether to produce more audio, this would make it a solid "no" for me. Somebody who relies less on bounties to earn out expenses or somebody who gets stronger results from FB ads will be less effected.

What Diana said. I keep a personal shopping account for the Amazon store and then a separate publishing account with KDP. I think that's pretty normal and expected by Amazon. At any rate, I've done it for eight years with no problems.

I appreciate that the forum rules are intended to ensure fairness, prevent witch hunts, and so forth. That said, I had nearly $1,000 worth of covers reserved from this designer. Because of the identifying information shared by other writers, I was able to request a refund before the work began. If there had been no identifying information and no photos of the specifics, I would have spent $1,000 on covers with potential copyright issues, through no fault of my own.

It's perfectly possible that the designer simply acted out of inexperience and now knows better. But for me, personally, I can't afford to buy covers with a question mark over them. I feel like KBers need to have this kind of information in order to make the judgement for themselves.

However, I do appreciate the point about how images of specific covers could cause problems for the authors of those books, so I realize stuff like this is a tough call. Beyond that, I'm obviously not in a position to speculate on the whole business.

The thing about reviews is that they encourage the reviewer (or the browser of reviews) to linger on the page, to engage with the content, and to feel some sort of connection or investment in the product. People like to share their thoughts (like we do here every day) so it's to the store's advantage to offer a public or social space for that sharing and interaction through reviews, comments and questions, upvotes, etc. I like to think, personally, that the longer a reader/reviewer lingers on the book's Amazon page, reading reviews, voting them helpful, etc, the more likely the book is making an impression on them and the author's name is one they're going to remember and talk about. I certainly remember the products I review better than the ones I don't and I'm more likely to return and buy more of them. Sometimes it's hard for me to be sure which came first, my enjoyment of the product or my feeling of loyalty toward it because I invested time in reviewing it, thus making it officially my go-to brand of notebook or whatever.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I Reported a Five-Star Review
« on: July 08, 2018, 07:19:21 PM »
I would thank the reviewer and gently suggest they might want to put SPOILER tags at the top of their review because the people reading the review haven't read the book yet.

This. Most people will look at your average star rating, rather than reading all the way through each of your individual reviews. But for the few who might stumble across the spoiler and find it annoying, it'd be considerate of the reviewer to include a spoiler alert at the beginning. Since he reached out to you by email, I'd suggest a spoiler alert as tactfully as possible, while keeping the focus of your message on how much you appreciate his enjoyment of the book, rather than criticizing the content of the review. Many casual reviewers do approach a review like a book report and that can be frustrating for the author and for other readers, but it's not really the author's place to critique reviews. Your best bet is to ask politely.

ETA: Never mind. I see the problem is already resolved.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Fantasy Writers. Question!
« on: July 08, 2018, 11:11:42 AM »
Depending on the type of society I'm creating (what real world location/era influences it), I Google lists of ancient Greek city names, or medieval French cities, or whatever. Then I move around pieces of them, change a few letters, etc. Same with character names.

Or, if I'm feeling more adventurous, I just use whatever random, unconnected names pop into my head.

I make lists of potential people/place names in advance of starting the project, so I can just go into the list any time and pluck out a name that matches the feel of that society.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Wanted to stop in and say how-dew
« on: July 04, 2018, 09:20:39 PM »
Howdy back at you, Joe. I'm sorry to hear you've gone through such a tough time recently, but I'm glad you're getting back to the books again.

Writers' Cafe / Re: To all the other US authors
« on: July 04, 2018, 05:10:31 PM »
Happy 4th to all!  :)

Setting aside technical definitions and outliers to focus on the practical (what feels normal/familiar to most fantasy readers), 70k(ish) is a safe point at which you'll get very few complaints about length. But. Do factor in your personal situation, such as your typical writing speed and what your audience is comfortable paying per book, because those are things you may have to compensate for and length might be the area where you have to adjust for strengths or weaknesses.

Example: it might take a slow writer (or someone with limited time available to write) 6 months to write 80k words. Most indies can't sustain sales momentum off 2 releases per year, so some do better with a series of 4 books at 40k words per year, just to keep releases regular. But then you've gotta factor KU borrows into the equation and try to figure out whether the extra visibility/sales/borrows from more frequent releases makes up for the lower page count/KU income.

In the end, you've gotta go with your instincts and do some experimentation until you find your personal sweet spot, where you're satisfied with the story you're telling and where the majority of your readers are indicating approval by picking up the next book. We're all up against different challenges, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of length. Personal preferences and individual anecdotes can add to the confusion, so your best bet is to check out the top indies in your categories and see what's working for them.

Speaking of individual data points, I've made a full-time living for several years now by writing 40k-60k word books in epic fantasy and coming of age fantasy. Out of 2,000+ reviews, ratings range from 3.8-4.8, with the most common criticisms being "too short" or "too juvenile". The books have earned roughly half a million dollars, across 16 titles.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What do new writers obsess about but shouldn't?
« on: July 03, 2018, 11:57:14 AM »
Scattered blogging and social media. The desire to be everywhere and do all the things leads to doing none of it effectively. Nowadays, when I start a new pen name, here's what I do for it: (1) a mailing list, including an ARC list, and (2) a quick and simple Wordpress site, which I consider entirely optional. I also keep a genre neutral FB page that's shared between all pen names, purely to run new release ads from. That's 3 things I invest a minimum of time in and get optimal results from. Everything else has been streamlined out of my process.

Except for chatting with fellow writers, of course. I consider that social time and an opportunity to keep on top of industry developments. Even then, there's definitely a point where you're storing up more tips and information than you'll ever use. Still, I consider knowledge for its own sake a hobby. Everyone needs one of those.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Vellum, how to delete vellum files?
« on: July 01, 2018, 05:16:00 PM »
Looks like you've found a solution but, in the future, you might also find the Vellum Help page useful:

Writers' Cafe / Re: How to format for print
« on: July 01, 2018, 05:13:09 PM »
Vellum for me. Before I got Vellum, I either hired formatters or sometimes did it myself, using a template. Both those options worked, but Vellum has been the fastest and cheapest in the long run.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question about legal thriller tropes
« on: June 29, 2018, 11:18:18 PM »
Like Shayne said, Suits isn't really a thriller IMO. It's more of a romance/legal drama with touches of comedy. Rather than life or death danger, the characters of that show are usually in danger of losing their jobs, relationships, or suffering legal consequences for fraud. I'm not super familiar with legal thrillers, but thrillers in general tend to be edge-of-seat and darker in tone than, say, a cozy mystery. I'm not sure there's much overlap between the two audiences. Which isn't, of course, to say it's impossible. But a quick glance at the also boughts of some bestselling legal thrillers doesn't suggest crossover with light mysteries. It's a sea of (literally) dark covers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Successful Tortoise writers, Speak Up!
« on: June 27, 2018, 02:13:02 PM »
I used to write and release slowly. Putting out 2-3 books per year kept me making a good income during my first 5 years as an indie. I can't do that anymore, because the speeding treadmill effect has finally caught up with me. I'm having to work faster now. But slow and steady worked for me for a long time and I think it can still work under the right circumstances.

Sponsored products have never been useful to me, as a shopper. As a good example of why, right now I've got another tab open and I'm looking at the first row of sponsored products on a cozy mystery book page. I see: 1 post apocalyptic, 4 dark crime thrillers, and only 2 cozies. Pull up an epic fantasy book page instead and I see: 1 dystopian, 1 thriller, 1 military science fiction, 5 epic fantasies. So slightly more accurate targeting there. Unless I flip to sponsored row 2 of the epic fantasy, at which point I get: 3 erotic paranormals, 2 urban fantasies, 2 epic fantasies. From what I've seen, basically, anything epic fantasy gets mixed in with shifter erotica, PNR, and urban fantasy. Anything mystery, however cozy, gets mixed with tons of dark crime, thriller, horror.

I would feel bad for the authors paying for those poorly placed ads, except everyone on rows 2-91 probably aren't getting visibility/clicks anyway. Scary to think readers might be expected to wade through those 91 pages of randomness, if also boughts stay hidden at the bottom of the page.

Write some books, because I feel compelled to -- check
Sell some books, because I want people to enjoy them -- check
Make some money, to prove to myself that people enjoyed them -- check
Keep making money, to pay bills -- In Progress

Like Lou Cadle said upthread, my goals are accomplished. The only remaining goal now is to keep on keeping on, until I get tired or bored. I've been doing the indie publishing thing since 2011 and, while I've never gotten bored, I foresee that I might get tired someday. When that happens, I'll take twenty years off to garden or something, then check in on the industry again around 2040 to see whether I feel inspired to reenter the fray. I don't expect self-publishing ebooks to still be a viable way of making a living in 2040, but I'm sure there'll still be a way to create and share stories. Maybe people will be downloading books directly into their brains by then.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pathetic Peeves - Confess Yours
« on: June 14, 2018, 05:49:25 PM »
"I could care less" always bugs me, since it implies the opposite of what the speaker (or writer) intends.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Poll: Should I start a fight?
« on: June 13, 2018, 01:34:40 PM »
Out of kindness to the mods, (assuming you mean a KBoards fight) I'll vote "no" on this one.  ;) Truth to tell, I enjoy watching a good fight but participating is rarely worth the energy and soured mood that follows.

Writers' Cafe / Re: A different kind of launch thread
« on: June 11, 2018, 09:31:42 PM »
Good luck and keep us posted! :)

Attention makes me uncomfortable. I usually tell people I'm a housewife, because it's the quickest way to being dismissed. But once I admitted to the stylist cutting my hair that I was a writer. "What type of books?" she wanted to know. "Fantasy," I said. She looked excited. "You mean like Twilight?" I couldn't help an involuntary grimace. "No. Nothing like Twilight." She was a little cold toward me after that and I suddenly realized she hadn't been trying to insult me. She'd thought she was complimenting me and here I'd just snubbed her reading taste with my grimace. I still go to that stylist and am hoping she doesn't remember me as "that snobby writer".

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 02:55:54 PM »
I began self-publishing for one reason: because other authors did it first and publicly shared their sales numbers/earnings. If I hadn't read their generous and informative posts on writers forums, I'd still be doing what I was doing pre-2011: submitting to trad agents and publishers, collecting rejections, and sitting on unwanted manuscripts that would never be seen by human eyes. Because I honestly believed that was the only way. I had no idea self-published books could sell to anybody but family and friends. I didn't know it was a viable way to reach a wide audience, let alone make a living. I think that's why most of us share information now, including sales numbers. We're not trying to boast, we're trying to pay it forward.

And for anybody who is bragging a little, where's the harm? When an excited newb hits their first $100 or $1,000 month or has their first six figure year, I'm happy to celebrate with them. Isn't that a major purpose of writers forums and groups? The social aspect? The part where we share the journey and celebrate or commiserate with our friends along the way?

As for the question of whose advice to listen to, we all have different criteria for that. Personally, I listen to "how to write" advice from anybody whose writing skills impress me and "how to sell" advice from anybody whose sales impress me. If someone isn't doing particularly amazing in either of those areas, I may still find value in their posts because they have an amusing or thoughtful take on things or because I just have a good impression of them as a kind or sensible person.

In the end, none of us are being paid to share numbers, real or invented. It actually costs something valuable - time and emotional energy. It often leads to the sharer being insulted, mocked, or receiving retaliatory reviews from people who think they need to be taken down a peg. The only reason some authors continue with the sharing, despite these negatives, is because they genuinely want to help others or because they want a little company along their author journey. The rare person who may exaggerate success because they're desperate for unearned kudos seems a small price to pay for the majority of honest and helpful posts.

JR, LOVE the new covers! :)

That's what I was thinking! I like the new look. :)

As for the thread topic, I've had half my catalog in KU for years and had no problems (yet).

Writers' Cafe / Re: Prime Membership ... $119/yr now
« on: May 12, 2018, 04:12:51 PM »
My packages always arrive in 2 days, so maybe it's a location thing? The free shipping is a nice plus but I really keep Prime for the TV shows. Most of the stuff I watch is $1.99 per episode to buy, so watching 5-10 seasons of each show through Prime is a money saver for me alone. Then there's all the shows my kids watch...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Ups and downs of a long self publishing career
« on: May 05, 2018, 10:33:42 PM »
A lot of writers could've written this post and I think we'll see even more in 2018. I'm glad to see Michael came out all right in the end, even if full-time writing turned out not to offer the long-term stability he needed.

Also, isn't he a member here? Pretty sure I remember him from years gone by.


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