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Messages - boba1823

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Writers' Cafe / Re: I give up
« on: August 18, 2020, 12:00:34 pm »
Random thoughts from someone who went 'wide' (ish) but doesn't do it anything like Patty - because lazy, and only a few books, etc.:

When first starting I though about putting my books into the KU, because I read those cool Become a Ten Figure Author! books that said to, and most all the indies said you should. But.. this was also around the time (one of the times) when there were a lot of those "Amazon spanked me because they said bots were borrowing my books!" posts were popping up. And I didn't like the idea of that risk. Then I really didn't like how, on the pages for books that are in KU, Amazon started to emphasize the "Get it for $0, read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!" - and only put the regular buy price in small print down below. Because I wanted to sell my book for $expensive, and it seemed like that might hurt sales.

So I went 'wide' and hooray it worked. My book (and now, more than one) sold. Even though it was $expensive, and I was a new author, and there was only one book rather than a whole series of three or five or whatever. And [whatever other excuses to why readers won't buy a book].

All I had to do was.. advertise. Took some practice to learn, and I'm still learning, but it didn't take too long to work out how to do it profitably. Partly because I priced my book so high. I used Facebook and still haven't tried anything else because it's so good. Bookbub.. eh, I won't say never, but I haven't discounted anything so far.

Want to get sales on Apple Books, etc.? That's easy. Just.. target people who buy books there (or technically, people with characteristics that make it likely they might buy books there) with some ads. Boom, Apple sales. I didn't find it especially worthwhile to do this kind of targeting, to be fair, but it's certainly do-able if one is so inclined.

Yeah, ebook stores other than Amazon aren't that great for fine-grained searching and browsing of books. But who cares. Most readers don't choose books that way. Building a publishing business on the strategy of just hoping that some people will stumble across your book after searching for some keywords.. I mean, jeez, just advertise.

Quality, it's all about quality. The quality of 'looking like the kind of book that lots of people want to buy.' Probably it should also actually be that kind of book, too - you can fool people into buying with great packaging, but people are unhappy when they bite into that pretty apple and the inside is rotten you know?

And visibility, obviously. But you can buy that via advertising. You need money for that, it's true. Such is business. But if a book has that quality so that lots of people want to buy it - and you don't price it too cheaply - then you should earn more in royalties than you spend in advertising. I spend lots on advertising, because more comes back to me, yay.

Luck.. is that a thing?  ;D I mean, it's true, some people get lucky in various ways. Like.. just by chance (more or less) coming up with a book idea that appeals to a lot of people. Or drafting a super effective ad, or having someone design a super effective book cover. Basically.. doing it right, rather than doing it wrong, by 'dumb luck' rather than by design. But so what. You, too, can do pretty much the same thing by design: market research, testing, revising, and simply trying again and again until you lock onto the right thing.

I guess there's also the kind of luck that's like.. someone loses a hardback version of your book in a public restroom, and Oprah happens to find it and read it, and then she picks it for her book club. Or - even better! - you somehow tickle those fickle Amazon algorithms and your book ends up in a zillion recommendation emails. Free visibility, I wouldn't turn it down. Still.. a) it only works if your book looks pretty awesome, and b) if your book is that awesome, you can still just buy visibility through advertising while earning a decent profit even if you don't get lucky.

Writers' Cafe / Re: As Authors We're Blowing It - All of us
« on: August 05, 2020, 09:25:24 am »
Not for me, but sounds fun.

What he's talking about is not sharing your mailing list - seems to be some misunderstanding on that.

I skimmed (sorry), but I think he's talking about like adding a little link in your newsletter that says "Check out my book on [Awesome Website Thing]!"

I assume the link just includes a little referral code or something, so he knows that Super IndieAuthor is sending him some traffic. And if you don't send him some traffic, it.. hides your book or something, until you do.

That wouldn't give this website access to the person's email address or anything of that sort.

And the reverse side of your argument is that some newbie decides that AMS is the only way to go, because every prominent indie author says you have to advertise to sell books, so they dump more money into their advertising (or other more expensive forms of marketing) than they're ever going to make off of their first book. Which can be demoralizing.

I mean.. maybe that's good? Fact is, most authors are simply never going to make any significant profit from their books. For any number of reasons, including most prominently that many just write books that very few people will ever want to read.

Not every writer cares about generating a profit, and that's perfectly fine. But for those who do have more business-y ambitions with it, maybe it's better to know sooner - rather than many years later - that it's not going to happen.

Personally, I think it would be a waste of time - for someone with real ambitions of earning decent profits through writing - to spend less than a few thousand on advertising on a first published book. I realize not everyone has that much cash laying around. But if you were my real life BFF and asked for my heartfelt advice, I'd tell you to get a part-time job and save up if you had to, rather to publishing a book with little to no advertising.

Advertising is the easiest way to stick a book in a potential reader's face. For new authors, it might even be the only really feasible way. And if you don't stick a book in a whole bunch of potential readers' faces.. well, how will you know if it has any substantial sales potential?

Failing to make a profit, of course, isn't necessarily a sign that an author should give up. It may be a sign of poor marketing skills, which can be fixed. Especially if you're using Facebook ads, where you have much more control over the creative, and the targeting, and.. everything. That's a big reason why I would recommend a budget of no less than one or two thousand USD - if ads aren't performing, you keep trying new ones, refining, and on.

Maybe it's still not profitable. Not profitable comes in degrees though. I would 100 percent not discourage someone who has to spend, say, $2 to earn $1 in royalties. Not if that can be done at some scale, anyway, like approaching a thousand sales or more. This likely indicates some problem areas with the book/story/writing - hopefully the title/cover/blurb and all is super polished by now, but if not, these too - but there should still be enough potential for future books. Assuming these problems are identified and addressed.

But if you've tried your best with advertising, maybe read a book about it, kinda sorta copied ads being used by other (successful) authors, there's a good cover/blurb and all, and you're spending $10 to earn $1 of royalties.. maybe it's time to explore alternative business opportunities. Future business success in publishing is.. not likely, if things are this bad. No point in spending ten years writing 50 equally unappealing books in the hope that this will somehow change.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Key to 500+ Book Reviews?
« on: July 25, 2020, 09:44:15 am »
No one has mentioned ARC (advanced reader copy) teams - do they still use those? I never got around to trying that, and now I don't need to, but I remember it being a big 'thing' not so long ago.

The idea of the ARC teams was basically to find devoted fans, or mega-cheapskates, who will promise to give you a glowing (if brief) 5 star Amazon review in exchange for getting the book for free.

The reviews weren't really supposed to be required, and they didn't really have to be 5 stars, but yada yada technicalities. I'm not sure if Amazon changed things to make this less (or not) viable.

There were (are?) also some ARC review services that would more or less do that for you.

Some people also spam book bloggers and such folks, hoping to get a review out of it.

For me, since time/effort/money are all roughly interchangeable, the most efficient approach seems to be just paying for more advertising to get more sales to get more spontaneous reviews.

To me, the cover says.. "Everglades Rescue."

Seeing such a cover, I would assume that the book is about.. a helicopter rescuing some people in the Everglades.

If your question about the 'military thriller' genre indicates that your book is about.. thrilling military guys going pew pew pew at one another, I'd recommend a more telling title. Like.. "Operation Explosions!" And a cover with guns, and tanks, and explosions! Or at least a dude wearing camo.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Mission: Prove Rapid Release Works or Die
« on: July 22, 2020, 07:32:22 am »
I can't find it

Now it shows up (July 23rd) - wasn't listed yesterday, for me, for whatever reason.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Businesses boycotting Facebook Ads
« on: July 20, 2020, 09:39:24 am »
I'm not sure about your logic about people not "spending time on Amazon."  Where do millions of people buy books from, if not Amazon?  And if they like Author A, they're going to look for books that are like Author A's.

Lazy consumer theory. I just made that up, maybe it's really a thing, lol. But based on consumer behaviour in many other contexts, and specifically with regard to low-price sorta-consumable goods, the majority of consumers for a given product don't expend a great deal of effort seeking out a product. Most tend to make their picks from the relative handful of options that are 'in their face' so to speak: a friend recommends it, their book club picked it, some magazine or blog they read featured it, or they saw an advertisement for it.

Some readers are more active, to be sure. Those 'voracious' ones, that all the indie gurus were always telling me I should be pursuing, especially. But that's just a small fraction of all people who buy and read books. I mean, there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who read books, so there are probably some millions of voracious ones. Too much competition for those guys, the way I see it. I aim for the more occasional reader.


In any case.. who were you hoping to target with the Facebook ads? Amazing targeting options is what most advertisers love about Facebook. Just the basic options are fantastic, and the advanced stuff is.. really phenomenal.

I thought it was the Amazon ads that had awful targeting - is it still where you can just target using keywords? If that's improved, I'll have to take another look.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Businesses boycotting Facebook Ads
« on: July 20, 2020, 08:49:15 am »
I'd be lost without Facebook advertising. That's not really a position that I like being in, but there it is.

I (still) haven't tried Amazon advertising. Maybe someday, but the reach just seems too limited. There simply aren't that many people spending time on Amazon - at least in areas where they would see book advertising - as there are on Facebook. Most book buyers just do not find new books to read by looking around on Amazon. Among those who do, I get the impression that a large portion are KU subscribers, and I do full-price and wide books.

Google advertising probably has an equivalent reach. I haven't tried that either, though. I've heard that Google ads might be effective for certain types of non-fiction, but not so much for fiction. Also, like Amazon, greatly inferior targeting and other options vs. Facebook.

So I'm stuck with Facebook. Though beyond the vulnerability of being reliant on a single advertising platform, I have no complaints. The political bickering is irrelevant. No one who matters, including the firms doing the little one-month ad boycott stunt, really cares. Small and medium fishes actually make up the bulk of Facebook's advertising, so (sadly!) it probably won't even result in a marked drop in advertising costs.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Bookbub advertising: clicks but no sales
« on: July 20, 2020, 08:30:59 am »
These numbers are small so I'm wondering whether I can even extrapolate from such a small sample.


Other people's experiences might provide good reason to alter your approach, but your data on their own are wholly inadequate to conclude (or even suspect).. well, anything.

My rule of thumb: Suspend all judgement prior to getting 100 clicks on an ad. Don't even pay attention; any clicks (or lack thereof) prior to that point are meaningless. At 100 clicks.. if it looks like (as best you are able to measure) these clicks have yielded in the range of 0-1 sales, it's maybe sorta reasonably safe to infer that there is some kind of an issue. If the performance is a little better than that, but still below hopes/expectations, it might just be randomness. Statistics, confidence intervals, something something.

We all play fast and loose with ad testing, of course. It's not feasible to adhere to scientific standards for assessing correlation when you're just trying to sell books - and I say this as someone who spends a lot of advertising moneys and does a lot of testing. Still, there is a tendency to make really premature performance assessments, especially among those with very small advertising budgets. Understandable, though not exactly conducive to success.

Would you say it's possible to make a profit on bookbub advertising a standalone book? Seems to me you'd need at least one in three people who click the bookbub ad to actually buy the book. That seems ambitious.

I don't know anything about the Bookbub, but I profitably advertise (full price) standalone books with Facebook ads.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you plan to include the virus into story?
« on: July 12, 2020, 02:48:08 pm »
I don't know. This is one that I find to be horridly tricky, in fact.

I include contemporary urban settings. I prefer them to maintain that contemporary feel - not sound dated at least - for as long as possible. That necessarily involves some level of guessing about the future, but I try to avoid getting too specific about technological details, very trendy fashions, etc.

But.. masks. It's right there, on their faces. As another poster mentioned, masks can impede identification. Can't have someone notice those shiny white teeth (or yellow crooked teeth, or whatever), or a big smile, or a sneer, if the person is masked. If a character notices these things, then it becomes pretty clear that the person is not masked.

So guessing game time, unfortunately. A year or two from now, what will it be like in major American cities - back to no-mask normal? Or will they still be a regular sight, or even the norm like they have been (so I heard anyway) in many Asian cities?

I really don't know, this seems like something that could have far-reaching impacts on a story.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Mission: Prove Rapid Release Works or Die
« on: July 10, 2020, 12:18:12 pm »
I look forward to keeping up with your experiment. Should be interesting.

I do wonder.. why, though? If you have good data showing a strong profit margin for PPC-driven sales, wouldn't it be more sensible to just set up a sustained $1k/day (or more!) advertising campaign and let the good times roll?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Publishers with books in KU and wide?
« on: July 08, 2020, 11:22:17 am »
In business, it's rarely a good idea to generalise from one's own case. Based on the (admittedly limited) research I've done, which is consistent with my own experience:

Book buyers do not differentiate between trad. pub books and indie books. Sure, a few do, but it's the ordinary book buyer that is of interest. The vast majority know very, very little about the publishing business. Some might recognise a few of the very big name imprints, but there are hundreds of imprints owned by the Big Five. No one (outside of the publishing industry) cares enough to keep track.

In effect, the average book buyer doesn't know if your book is self-published. Unless you tell them (intentionally or otherwise). There's a sort of low level of awareness than self-publishing is a thing - and yeah, it's still associated with not being good enough to get book deal - but that's about it. What they do notice is.. amateur looking covers. Bad titles, bad blurbs, bad writing on the first page if they make it that far. Price can be an issue as well; people tend to wonder what's wrong with a book if it's being offered for free or an unusually low price like 99 cents. And yes, such pricing does strike the average reader as unusual, because most readers are not signed up for discount newsletters, and they do not troll around on Amazon lists looking for their next book.

Anyway, these potential 'red flags' concerning quality are things that may turn away your average buyer. But if a book is packaged in a slick and professional way, nearly every potential buyer will treat it.. just like any other book, without regard for the publisher. The 'literary' genre is the only area in which this might not apply, though I'd say that issues such as.. not having a editorial reviews in prestige publications is the bigger issue for an indie.

Also - not having a decent advertising budget.. that's bad. If you intend to take publishing seriously as a business, anyway. You don't necessarily need like $50k to start out, but.. well, getting a part-time job at Shakey Shack so you have some money for book marketing is probably going to be a more efficient use of time than just writing more stuff that no one can find.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Publishers with books in KU and wide?
« on: July 04, 2020, 08:26:18 pm »
I would think that more trad pub books in KU would be quite good news for those indies who are in KU.

It's a very small portion of all book buyers who subscribe to KU. Having more books that your average readers are actually looking for in the mix may attract new subscribers, perhaps increasing the customer base for KU indies.

There are lots of good books in KU. There are just.. many more that are not at all appealing to the average reader. I eventually subscribed for publishing research purposes. But when I first encountered it and was considering it just as a reader, I looked through some of the books in there and thought.. even if it was free, no thanks.

It's like Netflix. I don't subscribe for the filler content. I subscribe for the two or three shows that I really enjoy. But once I'v watched the good stuff.. well, I already paid for it, it's there, so on occasion I might check out a random film or the like. On occasion, it turns out to be pretty good - though not something that would have compelled me to subscribe.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anybody else feel this way?
« on: June 28, 2020, 02:56:06 pm »
A note of encouragement: breaking even on your ad spend is a really good sign.

Assuming you have not already tested several hundred different ad variations (and spend many thousands in ad costs), it's usually safe to assume that there is significant room for improvement in ad efficiency. So that's one area for possible improvement.

Plus, for almost all of us, there is going to be at least some room for improvement in packaging - book titles, covers, and blurbs - and also the opening preview section of the book.

If your book can break even on advertising spending, that means that you have a really solid basis in terms of the combined advertising approach, overall book concept, and packaging. That puts the book way ahead of most other indie books, for whatever that's worth. But more importantly, it means that incremental improvements (ideally in all of these areas) should be able to push you into profitability. As can just gradually publishing more works and accumulating fans over the long run.

My twopence, from the cold-hearted capitalist perspective:

Yes, of course, publish the first book and see how it fares before committing time to writing the next two. Putting together a book takes time - longer for some than for others. And some writers have less time to devote than others. If a series is going to flop, far better to waste only 1/3 of the time on it.

Be that writer who abandons readers mid-series if that's the sensible move. Your time is valuable. Why risk wasting it, if you don't have to, just to please a handful of readers? Sure, some of them might be sore about it, and if you had an established author name / pen name it could be a bad idea. But if you don't, just ditch the name and pick a new one for your next go.

Do put some reasonable effort (and money) into advertising it, however. If you don't, more than likely you'll end up with no clear idea if it actually has potential.

Will readers avoid your work because you're a new author with only one book out, and they're afraid maybe you won't finish the series? Psh, no. I mean, sure, maybe some small portion are like that - but not enough to make any significant difference to your book's performance. The majority of your potential buyers are just going to look at the book and make a decision based on whether that book seems like something they want to read.

Writers' Cafe / Re: When the book just WON'T sell
« on: June 26, 2020, 09:38:43 am »
I'd say that craft - including not just writing craft but also, crucially, storytelling craft - is actually by far the most important factor in book success, because it's the hardest thing to do well, and there are relatively fewer people who can/could do it well as compared to e.g. marketing.

But books can fail commercially (or just perform worse than they might otherwise) for many reasons, and there is no single factor - even craft - that is enough to give a book a strong chance at success:

General concept. Nobody wants to read my full-length novel about the day that ordinary dude Bob re-arranged his clothing closet, getting rid of  old clothing he had not worn in years and thereby making it much easier to organise what he still wears. Right? He's not a vampire-hamster or a spy, there's no long lost treasure in there, and the process does not require surviving an assassination attempt by the Belgian Mafia. So unless I just use misleading marketing, potential readers will inevitably think that my novel must be boring. Bad news for me.

Limited audience. Most writers (sadly, not all) try to make their stories a bit more exciting than Bob the Closet Reorganizer. But many do choose stories that have a quite limited readership. Sometimes this seems to be related to an apparently popular indie writer strategy of trying to 'dominate the Amazon charts' for some niche sub-sub-genre (that almost no one actually reads). Which.. hey, if that's your dream, then you go for it. But if you're hoping to make a lot of sales, it's probably wiser to pick a more mainstream genre. Like.. something that at least occasionally shows up on the NYT list. Or ideally, some genre that regularly shows up there.

Poor packaging. Title, cover, blurb. This gets pretty good coverage here on Kboards, so no need for details. Still, most indies just don't package well.

Poor promotion. The most obvious form being.. no marketing activities at all. Now sure, there are those inspiring examples of books that just 'took off' with little on no marketing from the writer. It can happen. But it's not magic. Someone is still promoting those books; people can't buy a book if they never see it. It may be Amazon promoting it through various mechanisms, because a book has somehow tickled the mysterious algorithms. It may be word of mouth from readers who are deeply moved by the story, or promotion by a popular blogger, celebrity, whatever. Or some combination of these. If that happens, great. But simply hoping that it happens is not a good business plan. So if you want sales, market that book. The most efficient way is simply to pay for advertising.

Bad writing craft. Yup. But don't think about badness v. goodness of craft in terms of something fancy like 'beautifully crafted sentences' or all that wishy washy stuff. Not if we're talking about commercial fiction intended for a wide audience. This is more about the writing just being.. easily readable. Generally simple, clear and direct, and yes, with correct grammar. It's true that few readers actually care, specifically, about correct grammar any more than they care about style. But they do care about the reading experience, and these things impact that experience. Bad writing craft makes a book harder and less pleasant to read. Readers have to work harder to overcome writing that is clunky, confusing, etc. This is a real problem, especially among indies. To be frank, probably at least 90 percent of the self-published books I come across are lacking in writing craft to such an extent that it will have a severe negative impact on sales potential. Adequate writing craft is definitely not the norm among writers.

Bad storytelling craft. This one is sort of tricky, because the majority of the elements of storytelling can only be evaluated after reading much (or all) of a book. So those things, e.g. building tension to the point of an exciting climax and a satisfying ending, will not directly affect sales in most cases - though there's an indirect effect insofar as they impact reader satisfaction, which affects word of mouth and the like as well as future sales. Still, for those potential readers who take the time to check out the first few pages (which not all book buyers even do), certain storytelling craft features can be make-or-break. Maybe the writing is perfectly clear and easily readable, but.. is anything interesting happening on page one? Or does the story start with characters doing ordinary things, having mundane conversations? Some readers will stick it out, assuming that the writer is building to something. But many are impatient and will not. Is there a bunch of seemingly pointless description, or backstory the reader doesn't (yet) care about? There are all manner of possible sins here, some worse than others. Existing fans will usually give you the benefit of the doubt, but potential new readers may not.

There's probably more, but it's getting near my bedtime and that's what I can think of at the moment. It's simply not true that it's all marketing, and there are just thousands and thousands of books that could be super successful out there. Probably 99 percent of all indie books out there simply do not meet the threshold of the minimal writing+storytelling craft quality to become super successful, period. (The numbers will look a bit better for writers hanging around Kboards, as they tend to me more serious than the average self-pubber.) And then even among those with good enough craft, relatively few also have a story or basic concept that is highly appealing to a large audience. Hey, success is relative. I'm sure it's possible to make a living publishing books with okay-level craft, pretty good but not great packaging, story concepts that are reasonably appealing to a modestly sized audience, and middling marketing skills. Improving in any of these areas, though, will make it easier.

Writers' Cafe / Re: When the book just WON'T sell
« on: June 22, 2020, 07:54:07 am »
. . . This business, like all other businesses, boils down to math.

This is actually one of the best explanations that I've seen on the boards.

Two errors, though - one minor and one.. well, I'll get to that.

The minor error: The statement that ad costs (specifically the cost per sale) is largely beyond one's control. This is not true for most pay-per-click advertising platforms, and particularly Facebook. The reason is that what you will need to pay for each click depends on several factors, including how well the ad performs in terms of getting clicks. Ad platforms effectively convert pay-per-click ads to pay-per-view ads through what they charge advertisers. E.g. if I get 1 click per 1000 views and you get 2 clicks per 1000 views, then all else being equal, you will only pay half as much as me per click.

It gets more complicated than that of course, and it varies by platform. Facebook also seems to take certain other factors, such as the 'quality' of the ad and possibly also user engagement with the page, into account in some way. Amazon.. well, who knows that they do. It's quite possible that they factor in the actual sales performance, given that unlike Facebook, they aren't limited to making money from advertising.

In any case, better ads - that is, more attractive ads that generate a better click-to-view ratio, as well as those that are better targeted - will lower the cost per click. Potentially by a lot. Just as importantly, the ad (and especially the targeting) can have a significant impact on the ratio of ad clicks to book sales. Often, it will turn out to be more effective to pay somewhat more per click for an ad that generates a better sales ratio. Making improvement on these fronts, though, requires testing, which requires $s.

The Big One:

The math does not care about your personal opinion or how badly you want to be a good writer or how hooky your hook is or what myth you think will help you sell books.

How 'good' a book is, in terms of appeal to potential buyers, is almost everything. It's going to be the determining factor in your conversion rate. More than anything else, it will determine whether it is even possible for the maths to work out, as well as how difficult it's going to be to make it work. Having a super appealing book product (which encompasses the appeal of the general premise for the book, as well as how it is packaged with title, cover, blurb, etc.) makes it fairly easy to generate a profit even with lousy marketing skills/efforts. The less appealing the book product, the better the marketing will have to be - up to some point where even the best marketing will not make it a success.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Am I gonna get sued? Careful What You Dash For
« on: June 20, 2020, 10:21:04 am »
Reminds me of the made-for-TV flick "The Craigslist Killer." Though that was based on a true story.

Now, to keep it real here: In all likelihood, someone could almost certainly prevail in a legal case based on the described situation. The case would probably be quite a lot of fun actually, for anyone who finds legal stuff interesting. The obvious but being.. the someone who would probably win is not the same someone who looks to the internet, rather than the legal team they already have on retainer, for legal insight.

Still, there is considerable diversity among brands when it comes to the aggressiveness of brand protection strategies. There are potential risks to a brand's reputation associated with actions that might be considered jerk-ish. If one is inclined toward developing an entire story around a particular brand, then at a minimum, this is something it would be wise to look into.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pricing sensitivity - your experience?
« on: June 08, 2020, 01:49:54 pm »
I've always priced high, and it works for me. Frankly, I'd prefer to match the trad. pub prices if Amazon wouldn't knock me down into the low royalty rate.

Some readers won't pay higher prices. That's fine - I don't need to sell to them. There are many, many readers who do buy books at higher prices, and I can just target them with my advertising.

Ain't no objectively right nor wrong when it comes to grammar.

If a student is in class and the prof specifies that papers must be in APA ver.7, then they had better go by those rules.

If the student's prof specifies APA ver.6, then he or she should go by that.

Novels aren't academic papers; a writer can do whatever s/heosaurus7Rex wants without violating The Rules. Cause they aren't any, objectively speaking.

But.. there are of course objective facts about how readers will read things (not that these can always be predicted in advance) that matter if you want to avoid confusing, annoying, inspiring-snippy-reviews-from, etc., readers.

My Guide to the They

'They' sounds pluralish to must native English speakers. It just do. And lotsa folks been taught in the school to agree their pronouns and antecedents.

Now, some technically singular nouns still sound kind of pluralish because they are used to indicate ambiguous referent/s. Like "If someone goes to the store," "If one wants to succeed in business," etc. So while some pedantic types who were educated in the old ways will insist that you shouldn't follow that up with a 'they,' your average peasant likely thinks that it sounds fine.

That may not be the case in a non-ambiguous context: when it is clear that there is in fact a discrete individual being referenced. "A shadowy figure appeared. They stepped forward." This is significantly more likely to strike readers as being awkward, or confusing, or just plain 'wrong' compared to the previous examples with ambiguous referents. Not to every reader, but probably to many. So do it if you really want. You can also misspell words, break grammar 'rules,' or start your novel with 50 pages on the History of the Middle Period in the High Elven Kingdom if you want. But these things might not be ideal if you just wanna sell lots of books.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Contractions
« on: April 13, 2020, 08:27:10 am »
Unless you want the narrator to sound ultra-formal like some pompous upperclass twit, use contractions.

I am quite sure that we do not avoid contractions, old sport; I simply cannot see your point.

If you come into the biz with this question, then go somewhere else, because you will fail.

Totally wrong! (Also kind of totally right.)

It's been pure business for me from the start. I don't love writing, certainly don't feel the need to write. I certainly don't mind it, though - the publishing biz would be a bizarre choice for someone who hates to write. But I do write real good. Writing real good is pretty important. Real good storytelling is importanter.

But yes - if someone is asking questions about average earnings or the like, this tends to indicate a perspective problem. It's reasonable to ask something like "What is the average salary for an insurance underwriter in Colorado?" - since someone else is hiring you to do that, then (assuming you can do it) you will almost certainly be earning something in the average range.

In the publishing business, though, averages just don't have that sort of predictive power. It is very much not safe to assume that if you just do it - throw a book out there (and maybe also follow some formula for minimal marketing efforts) - that your outcomes are likely to fall within some average range.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Self-Publishing LLC
« on: April 10, 2020, 06:51:55 am »
It's very easy.

You hire an attorney to file the paperwork to organise your LLC. People often use the same one to serve as the Registered Agent. There are attorneys that basically do just this, so there are cheap, standardized service packages you can select.

You will want to do it in a privacy friendly state. Common picks are Delaware, New Mexico, Wyoming (you can search for 'anonymous LLC' to read more about this sort of thing). You do not have to live in the state where you register. Unless you're planning to open an actual office/storefront location with employees, anyway; that may change things.

Do not register anything yourself if you want any sort of privacy. File the organizing documents yourself, file your annual report yourself (some states require this, others don't; your attorney can do it for you using their name), and your name will end up on public records. Further, for states that are not privacy friendly, it may be mandatory for any owners/officers to be listed in a public database.

Now, if you don't actually care about the privacy that much, don't bother. These services are pretty cheap, but they're not free. But there's really no point in filing for an LLC yourself for the sake of privacy. There may be business, personal, tax, etc., reasons to do it anyway, but not for privacy unless you're going to use an attorney.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Facebook acct disabled multiple times
« on: April 02, 2020, 09:01:19 am »
Has this happened to anyone else? Does Facebook not like shorteners or something?

That could be it.

I never use URL shorteners like, so I don't know for sure - but I do know that various services (forums, etc.) do not allow URL shorteners because bad actors often use them to mask links that go to shady websites.

I assume that FB does some sort of automatic scan of links for ads, to be sure you're not sending people to some phishing page, etc. Using a URL shortener could very well cause problems for an automated scan such that your ad gets flagged. Especially if they're doing heightened security checks right now.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Earning book royalties while on Unemployment?
« on: March 31, 2020, 07:10:00 am »
I don't know anything about unemployment rules, but if royalty income would be a problem you can always incorporate your publishing business. As long as whatever form you select is a separate entity (i.e. not a pass-through entity), corporate revenues are totally distinct from your personal income.

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