Category Archives: story telling

Writing as a Business

Whether you are independently published or traditionally published, the majority of the ownership for your success falls on your shoulders.  It is up to the author to write good stuff, build a fan base, establish beta readers and street teams and marketing plans.

It’s why real writers treat writing as a business.  It’s where the term authorprenuer comes from.  If you treat writing as a business, then your books are your product.  They require planning, time to execute, and a marketing plan.  There should be sales goals, expenditures, statistics, and analysis to know whether you are hitting your mark.

In an attempt to take what I have in my head and turn it into something tangible, I threw together a production schedule.  It’s aggressive.  It’s a rough draft.  It’s more of a what-if than a real plan.  But, by doing so, it put into sharp focus just how much work lay ahead of me.

sample-schedule

From the sample graph, you can see I’ve documented in fiscal quarters which month I will write, which month(s) marketing research needs to be done and when each subsequent marketing phase would occur.  I also added time for research and overlapped the release of the beginning of a new series in the middle of the release of the first series.  I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but I know I don’t want to wait until one series is over before kicking off the second one.

However, by performing this simple exercise of playing around with what-ifs… if I release the novellas three months apart and the novels six months apart, I’ll have 20 novels in seven years.  And for that to occur, I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

Let me say that again.  I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

If anyone ever tells you being a writer sounds easy, show them a schedule like this and let them fully digest the work involved.

As I mentioned, this schedule is a draft.  A guess, at this point.  But, it was eye-opening to do it, to see how much time I’d have to write a novel, when I could be writing two at the same time, and added research time frames as well.

Looking at this I’m both excited and daunted, both of which make me feel like my head will explode.

There’s a 99% chance the actual production schedule won’t look anything like this.  But, you have to start somewhere and, looking at the next seven years, I’m glad I got started sooner than later.

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Wordcount and Writing Backwards

I’ve been chugging along slowly, but surely.  Mostly slowly.  I was able to draft almost 7500 words on the Lost & Found novella before I slowed things down.  I realized that I knew the end of the story, but some of the middle parts were fuzzy. And, since I was diving head first into writing the middle section, I knew I had to clear things up.

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In order to hash out the blank spots in my storyline, I decided to write backwards.  Or, better said, outline backwards.  Since I knew how it ended, I wanted to make sure every step in the story lead me there.  Plot point by plot point, I outlined backwards, identifying what happened in that plot section and what was the hook to make the reader want to continue on.  Eventually I made it through the fuzzy middle and to where my actual writing had stopped.

Now I have to move forward again, one word at a time, fleshing out those plot sections with dialogue, action and character.  Yes, that’s the hardest part, especially on the first draft, but at least I’ve devised a road map to get there.

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Word Count & Beta Readers

The first Gabby Wells novella, The Homecoming Incident, is in the hands of my first group of Beta Readers.  Can’t wait to hear their responses, make the tweaks and send it to our second group of Beta Readers.

I’m about one-third of the way through the first draft of the second novella titled Skyway.

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Not all 1500 words a day ended up on the page of Skyway.  Some went to quick fixes on The Homecoming Incident and some went toward outlining Skyway.  All that being said, however, I’m very happy with the 9,000 words I was able to write this week.

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Podcast 08 – Novellas & Criticism

On this podcast author Pete Bauer and Sonlight Press marketing guru Dorothea Bauer talk about our shifting marketing strategies that includes increasing the amount of novellas while delaying the release of the first novel.


Running Time: 39:11

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Original Plans
  • June 4th
  • Novellas and Novels
  • The Homecoming Incident
  • Theme and Mood
  • Novellas then Novels
  • 1 to 5 to 6 to 10
  • Writing the First Draft for You
  • Chapters & 1500 Words
  • Perma Free Or Perma Not
  • Young Adult Market
  • Faith Based Market
  • Honest Evaluation & Christian Entertainment
  • Hollywood/NY Standards
  • Christian Music to Christian Literature
  • Novellas First
  • Beta Readers in Waiting
  • Cross Pollination
  • Strategy vs. Tactic
  • Say It x 3
  • Konrath Quotes
  • Being Ready for Opportunities
  • Ignorance is not a Competitive Advantage
  • Why Did You Buy
  • Hunger Games vs Term Paper
  • Truth and Criticism
  • Amazon Reviews
  • Reviews & Marketing
  • Finding You
  • Unique and Unoriginal
  • Self-Publishing Community
  • Talk to Us

Links:
Author CJ Lyons
Author J.A. Konrath
Write. Publish. Repeat.
Self Publishing Podcast

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Word Count, Novellas and Novels

As I mentioned yesterday, I finished the first draft of the novella The Homecoming Incident.  As the first of five novellas as part of the Gabby Wells Chronicles novella series, I’m excited to get that first draft done.

Today I started outlining the second novella in the series, tentatively titled Skyway.  I’m trying to decide whether my outline work will count toward my 1500 daily writing goal during Lent or not.

Another thing I’ve realized I need to create is a “Gabby Wells Bible” – which is a document that outlines all of the important characters, ages, locations, histories, stories, etc.  So, I can make sure I don’t say a character spent the summer in Chicago and in a later book say it was Dallas.

I haven’t started that yet, but it’s a necessary evil.  It will take time to do, time I could be used being creative, but I’m hopeful it will help me be more creative later.

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I want to get The Homecoming Incident to my beta readers as quickly as possible so that I can move the process forward.  It’s holding up the first full novel, Water & Blood, getting into our second group of beta reader hands.

It’s all very complicated and we’ll talk about it on our next podcast.  Things continue to move and remain fluid.  The key is to go with the flow.

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Novella 1 – First Draft Complete

Last night, after a long three days of writing over 10,000 words, I finished the first draft of the Gabby Wells novella called The Homecoming Incident.

I’ll let it sit a couple of days so my brain can recover.  There are a lot of things I need to add to the beginning in order to tie things at the end and make sure there is consistency in the story, but I’m quite happy with the results.

My goals was for the novella to come in around 25,000 words.  This draft came in at over 29,000.  It’ll probably be over 30,000 after the re-writes.

This is the first of five novellas that I hope to write and release prior to the release of the first novel.  I’ll have more on the reasons behind that in an upcoming podcast.

So, I’m going to sit back and give my fingers a rest.

PS – Because of all of the time required to finish this draft, I did not have time to write a Typecasting Tuesday.  I’ll have another one next week.

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Daily Writing Word Count – On Track

I set a goal of writing 1500 words a day during Lent.  So far I have lived up to that goal.

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I’ve written over 10,000 words since last week on the first Gabby Wells prequel called The Homecoming Incident.  If things go well, I’ll be able to push myself and complete the first draft over the weekend.  That would be about 5000 words a day.  I don’t know if I’ll have the time to write that much, but that’s what I’d like to do.

Then, I could put The Homecoming Incident aside for a little bit, give it time to rest, before revisiting it and making changes.

During this past week, I’ve also been thinking about roll out strategy changes.  We’ve lined up our next set of beta readers for Water & Blood, however, now I was considering that the novellas may need to come first.  It builds character history and eases the reader into the tone of the novels.

I haven’t decided anything for certain, but I want to finish this first novella as soon as possible so that I can move forward in one direction or another.  I’ll have more on that in an upcoming podcast.

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Book Review – Write. Publish. Repeat.

To be published or self-publish, that is the question.

Since the advent of the ebook, a slow and constant paradigm shift has been occurring in the publishing world.  Much like how Napster and, later, ITunes changed the face of music, Amazon and the Kindle have changed the face of publishing.

WPRNo longer do authors have to fit into limited slots and strict guidelines to have their books published by traditional publishing houses.  No longer do authors have to give up the rights and control of their work in order to get a small advance and 15% of the royalties.

Thanks to the ebook and the Amazon marketplace, anyone can upload their book and make it available to consumers.  Under normal price points, Amazon takes 30% and you keep 70% of all sales.  Under this model, for every book you sell self-published, a traditionally published author has to sell five books to make the same amount of money.

There are many challenges to self-publishing.  You still need a good editor, a great book cover and a marketing plan.  Self-publishing requires authors to be entrepreneurs at the same time.  They can’t hide in their rooms and only write.  They need to promote and sell their wares.  They need to blog and be involved with social media.

If you’re interesting in self-publishing and unsure of where to start, I strongly recommend Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright.

These “authorpreneurs” work and write together to create an insane volume of work, all the while openly sharing their real world experiences on their popular podcast, Self-Publishing Podcast (note: their podcasts often include colorful language).

Recognizing the advent of binge consumption of television programs, they’ve come up with a series of novellas they call episodes and that, together, make a series.  It’s a brilliant approach that has worked very well for them.

Through trial and error they’ve come up with effective strategies in the current selling structure, such as making the first book in the series free forever (or perma-free) and using that as a “funnel” which allows many people to try out their work with the hopes of directing them to a focused call-to-action, i.e., buying the rest of the season.

They’ve had great success with this approach and have been completely honest about how they do what they do, both in the podcast and in the book.

The book is more than just a how-to, it’s their story.  It’s a very easy read and, if you are like me and prefer paperbacks over ebooks, it’s a hefty 478 pages.  When I purchased the paperback they also included the ebook for free which is a great perk, because it allows you to read the book in your preferred way, yet use the ebook to quickly find any info you may need at the time.  I don’t know if that perk is permanent or only available when I made my purchase.

I can’t recommend this book enough.  It’s a hands-on, successful approach that takes advantage of the opportunities the current publishing landscape affords.

If you’re interested in self-publishing, begin with Write. Publish. Repeat.  It will start you off in the right direction.

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Lenten Writing Goal

1500 words a day.  That’s my goal.

Having suffered with Crohns disease for 24 years it has created numerous limitations in my life, both in diet and activity.  So, whenever Lent rolls around, instead of removing a food from my already small list of approved options, I choose to add something to my spiritual plate.

My Lenten sacrifice is usually my time.  I’ll add taking time to pray, to read the Bible and, this year, to write.  A lot.

My Lenten goal is to write 1500 words a day.  I think this is an appropriate Lenten sacrifice as the projects revolve around the Gabby Wells novels and novellas which focus on a character of faith.

I’ll keep track of my progress and update the website accordingly.

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Currently, I have three things in progress:

Novel 1Water & Blood is in the polishing stage.  Beta readers are giving us feedback, we are making changes and will then send to an editor.

Novel 2 – the first draft was completed some time ago, but is in the process of being rewritten from scratch.  The plot won’t change, but my writing style has evolved since the first words on paper.

Chronicle 1The Homecoming Incident is the first novella in the Chronicle series.  The Chronicle series are novellas that involve Gabby and her friends prior to the events in the novel series and will be made available for free as a way to introduce the characters and their journey with little to no risk to consumers.  The current goal is to have five Chronicles in total.

It’s not always easy to come up with 1500 words a day.  Granted, I write more than that at work each day, but these 1500s are specifically for these projects.

It’s a lofty goal.  I hope I make it.

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Prequels and Perma-Free

Free is a gateway.

In the self-publishing world, giving away the first book in a series for free is one of the ways authors can get people to take a chance on their work.  The phrase is called “perma-free,” meaning permanently free and it allows readers to check out a new author or new series with no risk.  The read-through rate of people who get a free book and buy the next one is around 15-17%.

For new authors or writers kicking off a series, like we are with Gabby Wells, the free model is still the preferred method, but you don’t want to give away the first and only book you have available.  So, what should you do?

Write a prequel.

This is something I had thought about doing anyway, but now it’ll give me the impetus to make it a priority.  So, as we finish the polish of the first novel, Water & Blood, I am going to write a prequel novella called The Homecoming Incident.

All of the prequels will be around 25,000 words and fall under the Gabby Wells Chronicles, if, indeed, we write future stories that happen prior to the novel series.

The greatest enjoyment I’m having in writing The Homecoming Incident is it allows me to interact in the characters lives before the heavy drama in the novel series.  The weight of the events that unfold in the series are in the future, so their lives in the prequels are lighter, more fun and we can enjoy how their relationships started.

So, our current plan is to release The Homecoming Incident for free (eventually, I’ll explain that in a second) as a gateway, a funnel, to drive readers to take a chance on Water & Blood.

The problem with the Perma-Free model is that you can’t release a book free out of the block.  Why?  Because there’s no reason for Amazon to allow people to post books on their website for free, where they don’t get any cut of the sale price.  The only way to get a book as Perma-Free is to also post your book for sale on other sites for free and then ask Amazon to price match, which they will, when they get around to it.

Therefore, the prequel will have to be offered for .99 to start.

Now, the way things change, Amazon could decide to no longer offer free books at all, but since it is an effective way for readers to buy other books on their site, the pros out way the cons, for now.

My goal is to write 1500 words a day and hope to get the first draft of the novella done in a few weeks.  Eventually you’ll be able to get it for free.  I hope it spurs interest in people to take a chance on Water & Blood.

If not, I’ll enjoy the time I get to spend with the characters in their prior lives, solving mysteries, getting into trouble and having fun.

It’s a win-win situation.

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