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Messages - Vale

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I was looking through my e-mail this morning and my eyes caught Kingshold on sale for 99 cents and I thought: I am 100% sure that's a Jeff Brown cover. I just came here to say good job -- it really caught my eye compared to the other covers on Book Barbarian today.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Six-Figure Backlist Write to Market Strategy
« on: April 14, 2018, 10:18:01 PM »
Thank you so much for the update! I found it really interesting. Weaving books in and out of KU isn't something I've heard other authors talk about.

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I love 50k fantasy and sci-fi. 40k tends to leave me annoyed. 150k+ and I regret my decision a little, but I'll keep reading if it's good, but I might get grumpy. That said, write the length that you need to tell the story. I suspect the real concern is "I wrote a 50k novel, will people say it's a novella and tease me on the writer playground?" or "I wrote a 140k novel, will nobody buy it because short novels are all the rage right now?" I think you're okay either way. You may have different audiences, as other people said, but there's a lot of room to work with. The real danger is padding a story or not covering enough. Those can make the reader feel cheated or the story feel bloated.

And despite my love of 50k fantasies, I have trouble getting my fantasy word count down that far. It doesn't work for the stories I'm telling. 100k seems to be a pretty normal length for my books with a few exceptions. I'm not sure I could bring a 100k book down to 50k and make readers happy with it.

I kinda feel like "Is 50k actually a novel?" and "Are novels over 50k too long to sell?" are common refrains on Kboards and other writer forums. I think the discussions is more like "is under 40k okay to sell as a novel and in what circumstances?" and "what's your target audience and how do you market a 200k novel?"

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Is anyone doing Camp Nanowrimo in April?
« on: March 31, 2018, 07:00:10 AM »
Login dusted off and de-cobwebbed, project defined (I have a 105k novel to edit), and cabin created. I'm ready!

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Congratulations!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Short stories on Amazon?
« on: March 28, 2018, 10:00:20 PM »
Alas, shorts just didn't go anywhere with self publishing, even though many of us hoped for it, mainly because...

This.

I'd recommend trying to get them published in magazines. I've heard tell that that readership doesn't translate to book sales, but it's still PR and pays real money and gives you something to post about on social media. When the rights revert you can always use them in other ways, or publish collections.

Do you have any recommendations for genre markets, especially for fantasy / creature fantasy? I've been looking at the different options for fantasy because I like to write short stories from time to time. Nothing is standing out for specifically creature fantasy.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone here have an MFA in Creative Writing?
« on: March 13, 2018, 06:41:06 PM »
I'm always curious about the popular fiction tracks in MFA programs and how well they might prepare someone to write speculative fiction. On the flip side, I was at the largest literary writing convention in the US last weekend and it's interesting to see the influence of speculative (genre/commercial) fiction into the consciousness of even the literary world. Literary authors are starting to see their self-published peers making a living at it. It was glossed over, but when talking about how fiction cannot make money but you can get a little from speaking engagement, the author very quickly mentioned that her self-publishing friends were all making a living at it, then went on.

Kelly Link is a rock star writer with a massive following, and her name came up even when it wasn't a panel she was on. Someone had asked her if she "felt like a complete failure for self-publishing her first book." Her answer was no, obviously, but it looks like she never stopped self-publishing. Small Beer Press is her self-publishing imprint and she just moved on to publish other people's works, too. I've never heard her mentioned as an indie in a literary setting, probably because her short fiction wins literary awards all the time.

I think anyone who also writes literary fiction probably has stars in their eyes for the Iowa Writer's Workshop, the top program in the US. I'd heard that you can spot them at conventions by the traumatized look in their eyes. I found mine on a panel about failure. One mentioned that he didn't want to "end up like the other Iowa graduates, 80% of whom never write another word." That alarmed me, combined with the fact that the failure panel was all Iowa graduates. More than literary accolades or writing chops, I love telling stories. If you told me that the top program in the country takes the best writers and gets 80% of them to give up writing... I'm not sure what to think of that. I'm assuming it's hyperbole, but above all else I would think the point of a writing program is to encourage writers to write and enjoy writing while improving at it.

Overall, people were friendly and great, but my indie hackles were raised by those events. And hearing someone around 40 years old say "speculative fiction? I've never heard of such a thing? When did that start?"

I'd love to hear from people who did popular fiction MFAs and how helpful they were, just from a position of curiosity.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Rant: Stop telling me you like my book!
« on: February 19, 2018, 04:42:55 PM »
Gotta warn you... it's a tough crowd. Only 4 stars for a first-class rant!

Don't worry, Amazon will find out that I once responded to your thread on Kboards and they'll remove the review =(

But because I feel bad and you're a five star kinda author:

***** Great rant. Would recommend to friends/family/cats. I went out and pre-ordered future rants by this author.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: ISBN questions
« on: February 19, 2018, 04:16:44 PM »
I don't know if this helps, but someone pointed out that you can get on Bowker's mailing list if you start to purchase something, go to check out, then it'll give you a chance to enter your e-mail and get e-mails from them about deals. That all happens before they're asking for credit card information or asking you to confirm a purchase.

Their e-mails are usually things like "for $300 we'll convert your word document into an epub!" or services you can get anywhere else for free. Expect lots of spam, basically, about services you don't want (like barcodes). Just wait for the ISBN deal.

There was one on the 100 or 500 pack in December. I've been waiting to grab a 1000 block when they go on sale for $1 per ISBN instead of the $1.50 they normally are for the largest block.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: First run at USA Today Bestseller List
« on: February 19, 2018, 04:12:52 PM »
Good luck!

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Rant: Stop telling me you like my book!
« on: February 19, 2018, 03:31:10 PM »
**** It was a good rant, maybe even a great rant, but I took a star off because the sequel isn't out yet and we never find out if she gets reviews or not. I know it's a cliffhanger but zmog! I'll come back and add a fifth star when the next rant comes out if I remember.

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Create a list of your known stylistic flaws, and go after them in advance by trying not to throw them in as placeholders while hurrying to get a first draft down. That's important because NaNo rewards speed, but having to correct sloppy writing can take forever. So slow down just a little, and make sure you don't use the lazy words and whatever that you know you'll want to edit out. Or the lazy plot and  character shortcuts.

Then set up a revision schedule. An editor I once heard give a talk said one ought to be able to deep edit an entire novel in two weeks. That was assuming a fairly small number of pages per day, too. Depending on how polished you like your prose to be and how much time you have at your disposal, you could spend an entire day/session on ten pages and figure a 300-page novel (75k) would take you a full month to revise. Then you'd still want to go through it at least one more time, but more quickly. That might only take three full days. So, first draft in a month or less, first revision pass in the next month, and then one more pass plus tweaks and/or big or little rewrites after an editor looks at it, the third month. This is a generous schedule. Some people can compress it, but it's reasonable and should give you time for everything you need to do.

The more aware you are of your weaknesses, and the less you give in to them as you write your first draft, the easier and faster the next part will be.

I found this helpful, thank you.

For me, I tend to edit the last 1k words and add 1k more in 30-90 minutes and I end up with a book just under 100k every 2-3 weeks. So writing and the cycling style of editing goes quickly for me. I've definitely found that editing slows me down the most. When I edited with a light touch, I ended up looking at the final product and realizing that lightly editing was strangling my voice, not allowing it to be free. Now I probably edit a little too much, but I'm slow and careful. I'm hoping it'll go faster as I progress. At least, I do feel like the big problems I have to edit from one book aren't the same big problems I edit in the next book. I figure the only way to get better is to keep editing and try out new things, but it'd make me happy if editing went as quickly as writing.

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Sounds like you're after epic fantasy when you're looking for tropes, conventions, and things to read or avoid. You can find epic fantasy in high (Robert Jordan) and low (George R R Martin) varieties. High fantasy tends to have more magic built into it, where low fantasy tends to shy away from magic or put a high cost on it. Low is also more likely to be gritty and have darker heroes, moving into Grimdark at the extremes.

You may also consider looking at Sword & Sorcery. While it has its own conventions which are different from epic fantasy, there can be a lot of crossover. Some Sword & Sorcery feels like a smaller scale epic fantasy with a more intimate cast of characters and smaller stakes that feel just as epic for the characters. You may find that as you write epic fantasy you're looking for something a little different, and high vs low fantasy and Sword & Sorcery might be other places to check out.

Creature fantasy is also pretty popular right now. Imagine it as mythological creature focused stories. Those stories are under the Dragons & Mythical Creatures category on Amazon. Dragons are, by far, the most popular, but don't discount other critters if you can make them work. Derek Siddoway rocked that category's charts with gryphon riders from November to January and I think he's still holding his own, just not Top 20, even now. Some of the classic gryphon authors who shaped the childhoods of so many fantasy readers in the 90s with their gryphon series have mentioned they're under contract for more gryphon books soon, too, so if you want to write something much cooler than a dragon, consider gryphons. Or, hey, avoid the two big ones in the category and give us wyverns or manticores or something.

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Writers' Cafe / CreateSpace / IngramSpark question
« on: February 11, 2018, 03:50:33 AM »
I haven't done paperbacks yet, but I'm getting ready to for the series I'm working in now. There have been a few paperback threads lately, but none covered this question, so I thought I'd make a new topic to help with searchability.

If I go to CreateSpace and IngramSpark and get the paperbacks ready to go and try out the proof copies to make sure everything is okay, am I then able to wait a month or two until the e-book series is ready to go? Or is there a ticking clock/time limit on how much time can pass between making the paperback book and making it available for sale?

I ask because I heard a few people mention that, while they were waiting for their proof copies to arrive, other people purchased their paperbacks.

Bonus question: I've heard a few authors mention that they make their paperbacks available up to two weeks before the e-book editions to give their ARC readers a place to leave reviews. I'd like to do Liliana Hart-style rapid-release for the e-books, but is there a reason I shouldn't do the paperback editions as I finish each book? (I'm not sure there's an advantage to it, but it's a question I'm curious about.)

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Quick Craft POV Question
« on: February 11, 2018, 12:55:23 AM »
Ditto to neither being wrong and the choice being yours. I think either should work, so flip a coin if neither is resonating with you.

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Simulated print, which is why Kindle made Bookerly as a serif with slab-serif couture about it  ::)

Thank you =] That's a question I've had in the back of my mind forever.

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Garamond 12 or whatever Scrivener's default is. Serif is easier in print and San-serif is easier on screens, right? What do e-ink readers qualify as?

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Writers' Cafe / Re: I can't figure out why my novel isn't selling
« on: February 04, 2018, 06:34:59 PM »
AFAIK, Lit Fic doesn't sell much at all, so I can't think of many indies selling lots of it unless they promote it as something else.

One of the Author Earnings reports had an indie literary fiction author making a killing at it, but I never knew who that was and it was just the one. I've been trying to keep my ear to the ground to get a feel for the indie literary fiction publishing scene, but except for table scraps from The Passive Voice now and then, I'm not finding much. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Apple vs. Amazon
« on: February 03, 2018, 11:10:34 PM »
No idea, but congratulations on getting traction with Apple =] I've heard a few authors say they see solid sales there, more then Amazon. Maybe your books fit into that category.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Any traditionally published non-fiction authors here?
« on: February 03, 2018, 08:28:31 PM »
Almost everyone here likes to sneer at the "trad" publishers, but I suspect they all wish that Alfred A Knopf or Abner Doubleday would invite them to drinks at the Algonquin, as in the good old days.

That's interesting, I hadn't heard that point of view before. So you think the "prestige" of publishing with a Big Five Publisher outweighs the control/money of independent publishing for authors? I think I've been looking at authors who favored control when they made the switch or those who started off Brandon Sanderson's BYU course and his comment on advances being $5k and went indie without going traditional. My sample size is small enough that I don't necessarily have confidence in it, but you have me fascinated by the idea that there's a prestige aspect to Big5. I'd been thinking of it as being a sort of... well, sort of like the music industry, right? (Maybe KKR's articles pushed me in that direction long ago). Independent music is edgy, fresh, new, exciting. A big music label doesn't hold much value, if anyone can even remember who they are anymore.

What's the dollar/prestige formula look like for you, NotJohn? For a minimal advance, would you go back for the prestige? Around how much of a pay cut would you be willing to take to go back? Or is this something you're seeing in other authors?

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Genre classification
« on: February 02, 2018, 03:52:36 PM »
Alternate History, right?

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Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you measure everything?
« on: January 31, 2018, 03:57:46 PM »
I'd find good beta readers who like the genre you write and are well versed in it. Then give them specific things you want feedback on. Hopefully you should know long before you publish if there are parts of your book that are a slog...

I try to ask questions based around my own concerns and things that have come up in the past, along with some more general questions. (Beta readers sometimes forget to leave notes on the good parts and I certainly don't want to edit those out, as an example.) What sorts of questions do you ask your beta readers, if you don't mind me inquiring? I think it can be helpful to see general or specific questions just to get an idea of lines of inquiry I might not have considered.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Beta Reading Scifi/Fantasy(Free)
« on: January 31, 2018, 03:49:51 PM »
I just wanted to take a moment to chime in. When Dustin was offering a few limited slots for beta reads I happened to get the slot and he went through one of my books.  My experiences were all positive. The turn around time was reasonable, even fast. I've had a few others look through the book, and he found their problems and more. What's more, his input made it easy to fix the problems. Sometimes with a beta reader (especially a friend/family/pet cat), while they know they have a problem, they aren't sure exactly where the problem started and why they feel the way they do. So even where Dustin found problems I was aware of, it was much easier to fix them.

And he found a lot of problems other people hadn't found, but which resonated with me. They were things I wanted to fix. He even had useful cover input.

I went into this wondering about the experience and how useful it would be. Curiosity was enough for me to put my hat into the ring to see what his beta reads were like, and I was convinced of the value. I plan to use him for the second book in the series and look forward to what he has to say. My spouse/friends/cat are enough to get my book to a good place, and Dustin's beta read is enough to get the story to where I want it for publication.

If anyone has any questions about my experience with Dustin, feel free to reach out to me.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Amazon's competitors finally waking up?
« on: January 27, 2018, 12:43:44 PM »
I'd say Apple is a fairly entrenched lifestyle company at this point. You're either "in the club" or you want to be, so exclusivity is really important to their image. That's the brand. It explains pretty much all of their marketing and product development, even the seemingly counter-intuitive stuff.

Hmm. I always thought Apple was more like "You're either in the club or you don't want to be." As in, people who want in are willing to pay much higher prices for their products are their customers. They market specifically at those high-paying customers, because the people who don't place a high value on Apple aren't their customers.

If you're thinking "I could pay $3,000 for a Mac Laptop... or $300 for a more powerful Lenovo" then you're not someone Apple is looking at as a customer. If you're willing to pay $3,000 for Apple's laptop aesthetics, you're probably willing to pay a lot more for their phones and other products as well.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: New Fantasy Artwork to Enjoy
« on: January 26, 2018, 03:48:39 PM »
Battlesquire First Blood is the title of the book? Maybe the typography can help this, but I kept thinking that "Battlesquire" was the name of the series. Like "World of Warcraft: War of the Ancients." It might be late, but "Battlesquire First Blood" is a little word salad to me. Is it the Battlesquire's first blood? Is Battlesquire the name of the prequel series to the Risen Queen?

The artwork is good. The typography might be confusing me, or it might be the title. Maybe even a colon would help if it the next books will be "Battlesquire: Second Blood" (etc.). It's late here, so it could just be my brain. I didn't see anyone else having that same confusion with the title typography.

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