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Messages - Usedtoposthere

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Writers' Cafe / Re: I admire those who stick to one genre, I can't.
« on: August 22, 2018, 10:36:20 pm »
No. Not bored. I enjoy my genre a ton and have never written the same book twice. I do not actually know any full time author who does not love their genre. Probably causation rather than correlation there. I am sure it happens. I just do not know anybody like that.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Selling your book instead of publishing it
« on: August 22, 2018, 08:52:13 am »
Are you having the story edited? That's important anyway, and it's much more important if English is not your first language. I think you mentioned in your first post that it had not been proofread. I would to urge you to put your best foot forward with that. Readers are not very tolerant of unedited work, except perhaps (I think) in a few very hot genres, and then it is more the occasional typo than errors in word usage and sentence structure.

A great short story by an author like Lee Child will sell more than a first thriller novel by an unknown, to be sure. When you compare similar-quality work by similarly known people, though, novels do sell much better. However, averages aren't individuals, and there's one way to find out. Good luck with your story.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Word Stuffing - KU Tactic or Sign of The Times?
« on: August 20, 2018, 12:12:03 pm »
The first author I thought of is a trad published romance/fantasy/sci-fi writer who is a fixture in the Amazon Top 100 authors. One of her fantasy trilogies would have been 100 pages shorter--per book--if she hadn't described every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day, including preparation, throughout all three books. If you have read the books, you know of whom I speak. The only possible reason for this was a contractual requirement for length. No KU involved. The pity is that the books would have been far more enjoyable without the food.
I write food porn sometimes. :) I'm writing it right now, in fact. Just looked up how to make salmon gravlax. Yesterday, I wrote lovingly about Boston cream pie. I wrote one book that had a whole bunch of recipes in the back. Ties for first among reader favorites out of all my books, and lots of readers have made the recipes!

Readers are different. Authors are different. If that author's routinely in the top 100, clearly a lot of her readers also love food porn.

My first trad contract said 80K. That book came out 105K. My last book for them was 145K. :) It has a 4.6 average on about 200 reviews. Romantic suspense. My next longest is a more recent book. 135K. 4.8 average, 194 reviews, contemporary romance. Also a 4.8 average in audio, with 161 reviews. And no, I've never bought or incentivized reviews, and nobody got the ebook free. 

My shortest novel, Book 3 of a 3-book series about the same couple, is about 85K. It has a 4.7 average in ebook and in audio. I haven't found any correlation between length and how much readers like the book, except that they weren't satisfied with the two short books I wrote. (35K and 50K.) What I personally do best, I can only do in a heftier book. Once I get over 85K, though, it's on the book.

To me, this is a nothingburger. (So to speak.) I'm not saying that authors can't be too wordy, because of course they can. They can also write too sketchily and not develop their characters. We all have weaknesses and strengths. Write what you write best, and what your readers respond to best. That'll be different for different authors.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Word Stuffing - KU Tactic or Sign of The Times?
« on: August 20, 2018, 08:28:48 am »
You have just written an incredibly long post that I had to skim, to make a point you could have made in a few sentences. Oh, the irony.

I write long books. I always have. They are read through. They always have been. I write with a lot of character development and more plot and characters than many in romance. Other people write 20k eroms. I am not interested in reading those. The readers of those are probably not interested in reading mine.

If you look at the longer term big sellers in indie, who are wide, many of them write longer, meatier books. Romance with legs tends to be of the meatier type.

My suggestion: do you and do not worry about how others write. The idea that one would deliberately write something slow and boring for KU, where readers have LESS sunk cost or reason to finish a boring book, is logically laughable.

Write your short stuff and feel smug about it if you have to. Readers are not all the same.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What loses you loyal readers?
« on: August 19, 2018, 11:36:45 am »
I write in my first and longest series about once a year, when I have a great story to tell that won't feel like a recycle. There are currently 12 books in it. Although all but one of them can stand alone, there is a dropoff, for sure, in a long series of long books. Some people look at "Book 11" and feel daunted, even if you say they can stand alone. I don't get many reviews that complain about the books being the same, because they really aren't. Occasionally somebody says they don't want to read about that world anymore, though.

In between, I write in other series, some with a similar tone and others not. My second series (3 books), although different in setting and somewhat different in tone, has sold nearly as well as Series 1, so it's definitely possible to do well with more than one series. Plus, I'm still figuring out what kind of writer I want to be when I grow up.

I think that's an important consideration. If you stick with one fairly narrowly defined thing, you may limit your growth, not to mention your enjoyment. That may or may not matter to you, but it's something to consider. If you come to your blockbuster series after years of writing things that didn't work as well, maybe you've found the writer you want to be when you grew up. Personally, since my first series were my first books, I needed to spread my wings more, and it's worked out pretty well. I have six series in all, three that I'm still writing in, and one I'm going to start next. They all have had fairly good legs, and none has been a flop, though some have earned more than others. All the series have earned out in audio, for example. I've learned from and loved writing all of them.

In this as in everything, I don't think there are any right answers. Only the one that works for you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What loses you loyal readers?
« on: August 19, 2018, 09:43:35 am »
I agree! I really don't want to be thinking about what might or might not work for anyone other than me when I'm writing (I am my ideal reader).

The things that stop people from continuing with an author or series are so individual most times that it doesn't really help to know it anyway. Most authors (as far as I've found) tend to write what they like to read, so that right there means they're unlikely to understand why other readers might not want to continue reading them if they write what they're writing. :)
Yep. My different series have different tones. Many people read some of them. Some people read all of them. I love my loyal readers, and understand why not everybody is one. I write the book that shows up, because that is what keeps me fresh and keeps me from getting lazy, and I do my very, very best to make it awesome. Not everybody will think it is. Even if it has 90% 5-stars or whatever, somebody will say that it's boring, or they loved the others but not that one. Whatever it is, I know I loved it and am proud of it. I do look at my reviews to see what it is that people don't like and if there's anything to be learned there, but at this point, there often is not. It is just personal taste. Story tone, a character they don't like (generally the heroine), a fast-paced, suspenseful read versus a more lyrical, emotional book full of backstory, or whatever.

I just keep trying to please myself and to get better. I've managed to hold onto quite a few people who've read all 26 books, but that won't be everybody, and that's OK.

Otherwise, it's people using ghostwriters or co-writers. (The Jack, Jr. books written by somebody other than Tom Clancy would be one example, or the Felix Francis continuation of Dick Francis's work.) I read for voice and worldview and the feeling the author gives me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What loses you loyal readers?
« on: August 18, 2018, 06:35:28 pm »
I am the opposite. I can't lose myself in the story if it's a "safe" read. There needs to be some tiny chance, however small, things don't come out OK.

Thing is, bad things happened to me and people I know. It feels like erasing me and my friends to always have everything work out. If people get freaked out because of a bad thing that happened in a book, no wonder they turn away from us when a  bad thing happened in real life.They are weak!  To me, one of the biggest reasons to read is to have another life and to expand one's empathy. And I know it's unfair, that people read for entertainment for many reasons, but sometimes it feels like the insistence on the superhero / happy ending etc. is pretending I don't exist.
People are different. I'm the opposite. I read and write books where things work out BECAUSE so many bad things have happened in my life. When I was younger, I read a lot of edgier stuff. At this point, that isn't what I'm reading escapist fiction for. I'm reading it for the escapism. I like movies like that as well. I get real life. I've done real life. This isn't my real life. It's my escape.

My readers have had spouses die, children die. They may be reading or listening during chemo, at night after a day of representing kids in the foster care system, or just after a long day of work + kids. They are escaping into a not-too-unrealistic world where good things happen to good people, you find a decent guy to love who loves you back, friendships are strong, and children get rescued and get better lives. I give them a happy place. I love writing it, they love reading it.

I find that thinking about all the ways you can turn readers off is chilling and paralyzing. I just try to do my very best to think up a cool/fun/interesting story, and to write it better than I did the time before. I know it'll be some people's favorite and others' least favorite. That comes with the territory. I want to know I did my best. That is all I can do. 

Latest audio thread with discussion of costs and royalties.,265723.0.html

Writers' Cafe / Re: July 2018 Page Rate - $0.0044936099158692
« on: August 18, 2018, 08:13:05 am »
*taps mic* Umm, is this thing on? (Or does everyone just have me on forum ignore? Which is entirely possible :P)

Actual June and July 2018 payout rates are higher than they were in June and July 2017.

Page reads have increased at a slower rate in June/July 2018 than in June/July 2017.

While this could be coincidental and due to umpteen other factors, it could also be due to axing bot reads from dozens (hundreds?) of accounts and terminating scammer accounts.

Are some folk just not understanding the data? We're making more actual money in the year-over-year payout. August and September will help us know if the trend is continuing, but we don't need to see Aug and Sept payouts to understand that June and July's were proportionally higher than last year's. Substantially higher? No. But higher. For whatever cause.

I appreciate your thoughtful and informative posts. Thank you.

They will show the U.S. ones on foreign sites until there are 5 local ones on that site, whatever it is. After that, they will just have the line to go to the U.S. site to see XX reviews.

They will not show foreign reviews on a U.S. site (or any other country's site).

I don't believe this is something you can ask for. Automated, as far as I know.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What makes readers buy books?
« on: August 16, 2018, 08:53:02 am »
Titles can catch my eye even before the cover hits me. Like The Vampire's Mail Order Bride. That was an emergency break stop for me based on the question that arose in my mind about why a vampire would need a mail order bride. The ridiculousness of that scenario had me looking at the blurb. The cover helped, but it was definitely the title that made the sale that round. Well, and Painter's absolutely wonderful humor in the blurb.

I didn't see titles mentioned anywhere, unless I just missed it. I'm pretty sure they caught all my other triggers, but to miss title seems like a rather huge omission.

Sometimes the blurb sells me, but always for a new author I check the Look Inside to make sure they can write. I usually know within the first paragraph if I'm going to buy the book or not.

Agreed that cover + title (and sometimes series title) doesn't get the attention it deserves. They should be working together to reinforce each other.

I still say KU should have its own independent chart, and the product page displays 2 sets of rankings when a book is in KU.

Each borrow gives rank on the KU chart, but none on the sales chart.

This would make it so obvious which books are not legit, since if a book is top 200 on the KU chart, and 100,000 on the sales chart, you know immediately this is a book which doesn't sell, and relies on something about KU to survive.

Genuine top books, will have a similar rank on both charts. But even then, you will be able to tell which ones have a bigger KU following.

It makes no sense for sales and borrows to be ranking in the same chart. Especially since this is what benefits the scammers so much.
It makes a lot of sense as far as Amazon attracting authors with followings to KU, though, and that's the point.

Writers' Cafe / Re: What makes readers buy books?
« on: August 15, 2018, 05:43:27 pm »
(Former direct-mail marketing person here.) The problem with all these studies is that they rely on what people SAY motivates them, and people often don't realize what that is. Many of our decisions are subconscious. In fact, for example, covers are probably much more important than people realize. Think about their behavior. They have to click on a book to see the blurb, to look inside, to see the reviews. Why do they click on a book? Author name, and cover. Not just "is it pretty" or whatever, but what the cover signals about tone, writing ability (people equate amateur cover with amateur writing, rightly or wrongly), genre, subgenre, etc.

A better study would be to actually observe people's book-choosing behavior and have them answer questions as they are  choosing books, but that would be a lot harder and more expensive to do.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you handle writing-induced anxiety?
« on: August 15, 2018, 03:24:25 pm »
I have an anxiety disorder. Personally, understanding WHY writing causes me anxiety and having some self-talk, tools, and tricks to help me deal with it are as helpful as Xanax, talk therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (all of which I've also used). It helps me not be so anxious about the anxiety if I realize that it's not completely irrational.

(A) Writing is my living, and although I'm in a good spot financially, money issues have always been my go-to basket where I deposit my anxiety; (B) I hate to disappoint people, and if you sell well, your new book will ALWAYS disappoint some people; and (C) My books come from the messy back of my brain, and even after 26 1/2 of them, it's hard for my organized, logical self to trust that a coherent, saleable book will emerge from that disorganized spot back there. Every writing day is a leap of faith.

That said, my best relief comes from the same place it used to when I was in business school and taking classes that were challenging for me: going ahead and tackling the thing that made me anxious. I would read ahead in the textbook and try to do the problems, and even though I still struggled, it calmed my anxiety. I had taken the bull by the horns and attacked rather than letting myself be run over by my fears. There is such a thing as "anxiety about anxiety," where you think, "Oh, no, I'm having a hard time writing. I won't be able to finish this book. People will stop buying, and my career as an author will be over, and we'll all be on the street, wearing barrels." Catastrophizing is a thing! Forcing myself to write the words, no matter how crappy they initially appear, makes me a positive actor. I am in the driver's seat, not at the mercy of my anxiety.

Everyone will handle things differently, but tools and understanding how your brain can lie to you are important pieces of a coping strategy. I agree that people who haven't experienced either can seem dismissive of anxiety and depression, but I think there's been some good sharing by people who have had similar experiences to the OP's.

I don't look at it as a choice between "low brow" and "intellectual". I do think some books can be seen as more challenging to read than others, but that's a stylistic thing. For instance, I do tend to see Margaret Atwood's work as being more of a challenging read than say E.L. James. Having said that though, I don't think it means the creation of either author's work involved more or less intellectual heft on the part of the authors themselves. Again, I think we're talking stylistic differences here. Also, creators tend to craft stories in ways they believe will best resonate with their audience.

I think a lot of the time we equate hit books or hit movies with being 'mindless entertainment' without fully appreciating the effort it often takes to create those works in the first place. A lot of literary types love to look down their noses at the Dan Browns of the world, but crafting a mega-seller (i.e. an extreme reader-pleaser) like Brown has (more than once!) is no easy feat, and whether you enjoy his writing style or not, you have to respect the amount of work, force of will and creative talent it takes to pull that off.

The same goes for bestselling indies both in and out of KU. Crafting a bestseller - something that truly pleases readers in great numbers, when done legitimately without any underhanded tactics, is not easy and those who have done it even once have my utmost respect. I'm in awe of the feat, really. Those indies who consistently sell well and do this for a living? They might as well be aliens with superpowers as far as I'm concerned, because that is some otherworldly stuff I don't know that I can ever achieve. It's climbing Everest in my eyes.

Okay, yeah, KU does have some slap-dash stuff powered by nefarious practices, sure, but most everything else is genre stuff created with a lot of heart and passion and scads of intellect to boot that readers rightfully eat up. And maybe it's not always challenging to read many of these lovingly crafted works, but usually that's no accident. It's incredibly hard to write something entirely pleasing that goes down easy and creates the type of word of mouth it takes to make a living in this business. Low brow? Not even close.
Excellent analysis. That is what I always think when people dump on successful romance writers (which does happen a lot, and which gets pretty tiresome). If you (general you) think it is easy to write consistent bestsellers that delight your audience (which you may find to be pickier than you imagine), I suggest you try it and see. Go on, dumb down your work or whatever you imagine it takes, and try it.

An easy read does not necessarily mean an easy write. Personally, I edit and edit and edit to get the sentences flowing smoothly, the story staying hooky and pulling the reader through, and staying in the easy-breezy tone that readers enjoy. That said, it's my natural voice, and the humor and thoughtful moments come pretty naturally, too. A few people, though, to my knowledge, have looked at how it's worked out for me and thought, "Huh! It must be simple!" They've studied the market, written some books, had them edited, researched covers and blurbs, etc., etc., and ... the books have sort of sat there, selling 10 or 20 or 50 or 100 copies, and then quietly dying on the vine.

Not that easy.

I find that writing with humor is harder than writing more "weighty" material. It is pretty easy to be ponderous. It is not that easy to be genuinely amusing to a wide variety of people.

Lowbrow entertainment will always be more popular with the masses than something more intellectual. KU appeals to that crowd. I read tons of novels on KU from authors that I would NEVER pay a dime to read if I were buying their books individually. KU provides decent popcorn entertainment. Some books on KU would do better if they went wide but certain niches like litrpg or romance will always benefit from being in KU because that's where the fans are.
Wow. All righty, then. Romance is all lowbrow entertainment for the masses. Gotcha.

What fabulous literary genre do you write? (I'm waiting for "sci-fi" or "thriller"--two genres men, for reasons I will never understand, tend to assume is far superior to romance. I say that as a thriller reader. Genre fiction is entertainment that can be layered and subtle and funny and even profound or not--but it's entertainment by its very nature. Pride and Prejudice is classic romance, for example. It's many other things, but it's funny, it's light, and it's romance.)

I think I've found my new tag line. Amanda M. Lee: Where the dollar store and crappy niche writing meet.
Snort. It's pretty funny. Why people imagine that KU subscribers would read any old crap that's thrown up there, and continue to read those authors, is beyond me.

What KU will do, just as offering a book free does, is encourage readers to take a chance on a new-to-them writer. After that, as with any marketing, it's ON THE BOOK. People, even KU subscribers, mostly aren't brain-dead zombies who just want werdz on a buk page, and any werdz will do.

If a book does great and holds its rank, absent manipulation, it probably satisfies its audience. You may think they should be watching The Silence of the Lambs and not Miss Congeniality, but lots of us love Miss Congeniality and woudn't watch The Silence of the Lambs for a hundred dollars in cash money. Readers have lives. Sometimes hard lives with hard things in them. They aren't necessarily looking for hard, dense reads or dark, gripping topics. If that's your audience, awesome. If it isn't, I don't know why you'd begrudge other readers the books they love, or other writers their audience.

Books with legs are the same in KU as out of it (or offered free, for that matter). Strong cover, title, blurb, and concept to draw the reader's eye, hook them, and get them to read right away rather than tossing the book onto a TBR pile. Strong voice, storytelling skill, and mastery of genre to keep the reader reading. Strong ending to get them looking for the next book and recommending to their friends.

The short, 99-cent, short-shelf-life, trend-focused books are a different animal, but they're not the only books in KU, even in romance. I did well pre-KU and no differently post-KU, except for the period when the chopped-apart short segments were dominating the store, and when the Masterminds similarly took so much visibility. The appeal is the same in both cases. There are many segments of readers both in KU and out of it, and word of mouth still provides the best long-term push for a book and an author.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you handle writing-induced anxiety?
« on: August 13, 2018, 11:53:01 am »
To be quite honest, I think the "if the writer doesn't love it, the reader won't either" thing is a myth. I think it's impossible to objectively make a correlation between how a writer feels about his or her work and the quality of said work. Even big-time professional writers such as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman have already talked about not loving the work all of the time and having to write parts of the story that aren't so interesting to them as writers but are necessary to the plot. In addition, I think it can be dangerous to measure the future response of readers by the writer's response to his or her own work because there's A LOT of writers who think that what they've written is THE BEST THING EVAH and that's precisely what stops them from looking at the work with a critical eye. Then, when it flops, they wonder why if it's obviously THE BEST THING EEEEVAAAAHH.

Also, from a psychological standpoint, a writer could suffer from clinical depression, for example, which would make it difficult for him or her to get much pleasure out of anything, even something the writer supposedly likes. But he or she still knows how to write a compelling story, so while our writer doesn't--can't feel much pleasure when writing, readers may find the story awesome because it was written by someone who knows how to do the job.
Another fabulous point!

My favorite books to write are not always my bestsellers or my readers' favorites. Sometimes. More often not. Also, you don't have one kind of reader, if you sell in any numbers at all. Every book is some readers' favorite and other readers' "I've loved everything she's done, but not this." I am a TERRIBLE judge of what books will do best. I also agree wholeheartedly about the critical eye. Part of my "this book sucks" feeling is necessary in order for me to be ruthless about making it better.

There's also a difference between the initial words you put down, which may indeed feel forced and lame, and how the book reads once it's polished. I am aware myself that I reach a point, usually about 9 or 10 at night, when everything I've written sounds stupid and wooden. The next morning, it always looks a whole lot better, and once I work on it (I edit as I go, and I edit everything multiple times), it's got the sparkle.

Sometimes I love writing. Sometimes it's terrifying. It's always satisfying, and I'd rather do it than anything else. Writing is the best and easiest job I've ever had, and I've had a lot of jobs). I don't love it every minute of every day, that's for sure, but it IS my job, and you do your job even when you don't feel like it. There's a lot to be said for gutting it out.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you handle writing-induced anxiety?
« on: August 13, 2018, 11:16:19 am »
Knowing that other people will read your work, that their opinions about it will have an economic effect on you, and a lot of other things associated with writing to be published, can be very anxiety-inducing.  I don't know of any permanent solutions.  Just keep trying, keep looking for the best times and ways to write that work for you, and try to distance yourself mentally from the publishing / audience / economic aspect while you're writing.  Remember that you don't have to conquer the anxiety, just find ways to put it in a drawer and leave it the drawer closed as much as possible.   We're all doing our best; as long as you keep trying, you'll figure it out. 
Love this. So well stated.

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you handle writing-induced anxiety?
« on: August 13, 2018, 09:42:38 am »

About once per book I run into a wall where nothing seems to help, and then I give the draft to my alpha reader (who is my wife) to read and tell me what she thinks. If she sees something inherintly wrong with it, she tells me, she isn't delicate about it. If she thinks it's good she tells me, and it gives me the kick in the butt to keep on writing.

I would never have written anything if I did that
Ha that is what I thought!

I have 4 alpha readers who read every day. I find I need them to tell me, "No, your story does not stink," and to give me feedback. I am an insecure writer!

Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you handle writing-induced anxiety?
« on: August 13, 2018, 08:42:47 am »
I have felt that way every day since I published the first three books and they sold. (Did not have the problem before.). I have still written every day. Rituals, tricks, setting a timer, going for a bike ride to shake the ideas loose, and reminding myself that I always feel this way. And writing anyway. I am on book 27, have struggled with almost all of them, and they have all sold well and become books I was proud of.

I do not think the feeling is uncommon. I think many successful writers suffer from it. It is also what pushes me to make the books the very best they can possibly be.

If you want feedback, take it when you get it.

This doesn't include "Loved it" or "Horrible book," except in the aggregate.

People have a right to express their opinion. That is the democratization of the review process. (Thank goodness for it, since otherwise I'd have no idea what to read or watch--book and movie critics, on the rare occasion they review the kind of books I enjoy, almost universally pan them.) I've certainly looked inside a fair number of books that horrified me in one way or another, and I could understand somebody feeling the need to express herself or himself about them. It's unlikely to be me doing it, but I get it.

Reviews are gold, especially for indie authors. They are social proof. They are why we are selling books on Amazon at all. Easily forgotten these days. Doesn't mean everybody has to or will like your book, or even not hate it, and certainly doesn't mean you can put conditions around who can express their opinion of it.

If you start a new series, get a lot of new readers, and get almost no one- and two-stars this time around--yay! Progress!

(And if you wonder why readers don't review as often--it's because of all the very many comments like these out there. They don't want to subject themselves to it. They post for their friends on Goodreads and call it done.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Frustrated, discouraged
« on: August 09, 2018, 12:37:57 pm »
My brother has always been an avid reader of fiction, preferred genre science fiction. My husband, on the other hand, only ever read one novel in his life which was a Dennis Wheatley entitled The Man who Missed the War. Both were in the same age group. So much for men not reading fiction.

My favourite genres for reading are horror ( of the Stephen King variety, not zombies or blood and guts) and murder mysteries.
Statistics are merely averages, not absolutes.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Frustrated, discouraged
« on: August 09, 2018, 07:36:49 am »
Nothing wrong with writing to a niche audience. You just want to be sure you aim squarely at that audience.
And bro lit is a genre like any other. Nothing superior about it compared to, say, women’s fiction, which is a generally pretty sober exploration of a woman’s journey.

Personally, I write 100-150k romance and romantic suspense. I do not consider my work to be potboilers. But I think most people who make a living at fiction do write fairly fast. I write 40-50k fully edited words a month, but this is my job. (Edited)

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