The amazing Joanna Penn breaks down in detail the first 10,000 sales of her eboo, ‘Pentecost’. Buy it here, by the way, it’s a fun read and the cover is great (for the record, I bought her .epub version because I don’t support DRM files).
Articles like Joanna’s are useful to all authors looking at the various options available to them to make some money from their writing, and because details on sales figures aren’t very common, I think it is important to showcase them when they do appear.
Some points that stand out:
Over 98% of these sales were ebook sales on the Kindle
It is possible to make a full-time living as an indie author
Read the details of those headlines here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/08/22/10000-sales-pentecost/
Mark Kermode breaks down the Hollywood Blockbuster mindset, and details how to write an intelligent blockbuster without alienating people.
This is a little off topic for our blog posts, but Mark’s polemic relates to narrative and writing in a slightly broader sense. I don’t want script writers to feel left out of this blog. Mark says:
As a film critic, an important part of my job is explaining to people why they haven’t actually enjoyed a movie even if they think they have. In the case of [Pirates of the Caribbean 3], the explanation is very simple.
He very entertainingly describes the concept of ‘diminished expectations’, and proceeds to rage about the quality (or lack thereof) of the modern ‘event blockbuster’. On the bright side:
the fact remains that, if you obey the three rules of blockbuster entertainment, an intelligent script will not (as is widely claimed) make your movie tank or alienate your core audience. Even if they don’t understand the film, they’ll show up and pay to see it anyway – in just the same way they’ll flock to see films that are rubbish, and which they don’t actually enjoy. Like Pearl Harbor.
This may sound like a terribly depressing scenario – that multiplex audiences will stump up for “event movies” regardless of their quality. But look at it this way: if the audiences will show up whether a movie is good or bad, then does the opportunity not exist to make something genuinely adventurous with little or no risk?
Read the article in all its angry glory here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/28/mark-kermode-multiplex-blockbuster
Mutation Press is reading for ‘Rocket Science: An anthology of realistic and authentic hard science fiction’, edited by Ian Sales and due for publication in 2012.
ROCKET SCIENCE is looking for original stories which realistically depict space travel and its hazards. The reader needs to know what it would be like to be there. This doesn’t mean stories must be set in interplanetary or interstellar space; but the technology and science involved must be present somewhere. It could be a story set in a spacecraft, on an asteroid or space station; or about a mission soon to leave Earth’s surface. It could be a first contact, a rescue against the odds, or a study of some unusual space phenomenon. Whatever suits. Don’t be afraid to be literary.
They add, though: ‘but no space opera, definitely no space opera.’
The word limit is 6,000 words, and payment is GBP10.00 per 1k words.
Rocket Science also accept non-fiction articles relating to the subject, so this is really a great opportunity to get your name out in the Hard SF arena. It’s an exciting project and I hope they sell squillions of copies.
You can find the submission guidelines here: http://www.mutationpress.com/rocketscience.html
Kristen Lamb discusses approaches (and mistakes) that writers make when they are trying to grow their reader base.
Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if traditional marketing could sell books because then we could pay for a nice book trailer and program an automated platform to blitz out “commercial” on every social site. Yet, the fact remains that books are not tacos or car washes. So what’s a writer to do?
Another important point is that a lot of our efforts at marketing are expended on fellow writers, our comfort zone:
Writers are incredible, kind and talented. We should befriend writers. They are our professional core and our support network. Yet, where the mistake happens is that fellow writers are our comfort zone. We cannot mistake our professional network for our reader demographic. Will writers make up part of our readership? Yes…but they are not ALL of our readership.
Read the rest here: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/marketing-fiction-branching-out-to-fresh-blood-bringing-new-readers-into-the-family/
This week seems to be turning into a bit of a writing-tip-a-day festival. Continuing this impromptu thread is this Writers Digest article from a few weeks ago.
Think of every opening line you write as a pebble tossed down a mountainside: The stone may jolt back and forth within a limited path, building up force, but the trajectory of its initial release largely determines its subsequent route.
It’s a thorough article, and although I generally am averse to ‘x ways to y’ style articles, sometimes you have to look past your prejudices.
Sometimes a story evolves so significantly during the writing process that an opening line, no matter how brilliant, no longer applies to the story that follows.
Read the rest here: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/10-ways-to-start-your-story-better
Rachelle Gardner is an agent from Colorado, and posted an article on how to write a query letter. She breaks her advice down into a list, and although it applies specifically to longer pieces of writing (eg. novels), it’s still a worthwhile read. Remember that there are some markets that won’t accept a submission without querying first.
This is a LETTER, not a book synopsis dropping into my inbox out of the sky. You are writing to an actual person. So it’s best if the query is addressed to the recipient by name, and it should not only give your pitch and your personal information, it should be structured as a letter.
(On a side note, Literarium supports queries and markets/services that require a query first. Just one extra step in making it easier to manage your submission load.)
Read the article here: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2011/08/how-to-write-a-query-letter/
I found this article via Joanna Penn. Susan J Morris writes on character murder:
There are many things that can put a writer in the mood for murder… Writer’s block, corrupted files, getting notes back from their editor… But I think the most important thing [...] is to figure out why you want him dead so badly. Only once you understand your own motives can you begin [to] give him a funeral to remember. Here are a few of the most basic—and effective—reasons to kill a character.
She’s right. For all the varieties of murder out there one of the most important aspects is:
[...] how do you make your audience care?
Read the article here: http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/08/how-to-kill-a-character.html
Angela Slatter writes a refreshing post about considerations for your new publishing relationship, and on whether it will last forever:
Short answer: No, probably not.
Long answer: Many things can happen in a writer-publisher relationship to make it either go bad or simply reach the natural end of its lifespan
Angela lists a comprehensive set of circumstances that can account for swapping publishers and finishes with:
Try not to burn bridges, no matter how nuts someone seems or how bad their behaviour. If someone asks you about your experience with such and such a publisher (or writer) be professional but honest. Don’t start a flame war or internecine strife – this may be interesting for bystanders, but it doesn’t do your writing community any good.
Read the list of reasons here, they are worth checking out. It’s always good to be prepared for possible career events: http://www.angelaslatter.com/will-my-publisher-be-my-publisher-forever/
Here’s an early heads up: Ticonderoga publications has announced a new annual horror anthology series, Bloodstones, edited by Amanda Pillar. The first volume ‘promises stories focussing on unconventional urban fantasy’ and opens to submissions on February 1, 2012.
From the announcement:
This is the first in a series of anthologies from Ticonderoga Publications that will focus on non-traditional horror. I want stories that are horrific, but that also fit within other genres – let’s look beyond the borders. This year’s anthology will focus on non-traditional urban fantasy. This means that I don’t want stories that feature vampires, witches or werewolves; if you send one, it probably won’t make it through to the final cut.
You can find the submission guidelines for the first volume here: http://ticonderogapublications.com/tp/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=95&Itemid=135
This isn’t really anything new. We’re starting to see it more and more, and if you think about it for a second it makes sense: once an author has shot to success on their own merit, a traditional print publisher can benefit from the massively reduced risk in taking on a new author, while the author takes on the benefits of a support from an established marketing and distribution business.
After being rejected by literary agents for her novel Catch Your Death, British writer Louise Voss decided to self publish her book in the Kindle UK Store. Voss priced the eBook at £0.95, which helped it shoot up the Kindle charts, which in turn caught the eye of a major publishing house.
I just hope the terms of her contract are much more favourable than is traditional.
Read it here: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/british-author-inks-six-figure-deal-after-releasing-0-95-kindle-book_b14140