Tag Archives: novella

Podcast 13 – Marketing and Finding Your Voice

Pete Bauer and Dorothea Bauer talk about the various marketing research and strategies they plan to employ with the release of their first book.  They’ll also talk about the process of finding the correct voice for a novel and how that impacted the other work.


Running Time: 32:27

  • Writing Systems
  • 10 A.M.
  • Don’t Waste Inspiration
  • Approaching from Plot vs. Character
  • Production Schedule
  • Marketing Phases
  • Marketing Strategy
  • How are your Customers Interacting with your Product
  • – Problem Recognition
    • Marketers are Problem Solvers
    • Customers Search for Problem Filler
    • Customers will Research
    • Customers will Try out Product
    • Customers will do their own Evaluation
    • Creating a campaign for each of your Market Segments
  • Bridging those who have Aged Out
  • Marketing Validation, Awareness & Growth
  • Marketing Research & Testing
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Novel Approach
  • Character Introduction
  • Purgatory

 

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Word Count and Finding Your Voice

I finished the first draft of Lost & Found this week and the writing process for this novel allowed me to finally find the correct voice and tone for all of the Gabby Wells novels.  It was weird to me that it took two novels (that have since been trashed) and three novellas to find the voice for the overall storyline.  But, that’s just what happened.

When I was about half way through Lost & Found, when I was making Gabby’s life miserable to biblical proportions, it started to feel right.  When I was actually tapping the words on the keyboard, all of the elements started to coalesce and I felt a creative momentum building.  When I was done with the draft, it made me realize two really important things:

GW-Wordcount-070214

The first was that I had to now match the tone with the other novellas.  It actually won’t be that hard in Skyway.  But The Homecoming Incident was much lighter and would need to grow darker and more gritty.  I have some ideas which will help and they tie into the second thing I realized.

The second thing was that my brother Paul was right and all of these novellas should actually be turned into novels.  That means adding an additional 10-20k words to each one.  With the new tone and approach, it makes sense that the scope needs to widen and it would need to get darker.  I also want to do a better job of layering in the spiritual elements Gabby deals with too.  Not in a preachy way (I hate that) but in the overall world of the story.  It’ll make more sense if/when you read the books.

This continual shifting in approach does bring with it a level of frustration, however.  I feel like the novels are like a bathtub with the plug pulled and no matter how much I write, the words still spin down the drain.  It’s like I’ll never get finished.  But, I have to move forward because these decisions are the right thing to do.  I just want to be able to check off “done” on one of these manuscripts so I can move onto the editing/book cover phase and get them to market.

And I’m sure, at some point, years from now when all of the novels are completed, people will comment on how it all seemed so planned out from the beginning and I’ll just laugh and send them to my blog entries which show the continuous alterations we’ve made since starting this process years ago.

I just have to keep plugging along.  I have some time over the holiday weekend and I haven’t decided whether to start on the third novella or rewrite The Homecoming Incident first in order to be able to check something off my list.  My heart tells me I should start on the third novella Tears & Miracles, but my impatient brain is telling me to rewrite the first one.  I’ll let you know what I came up with.

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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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Life After Gabby

The completion of the Gabby Wells storyline will take me some time.  A couple of years.  Not including the time it took to convert screenplays into novels that have since been tossed, just getting the novellas written, edited and published will probably take a year in total.

We’ll release the novellas, one at at time, every three months.  That will give me a year to write as many of the Gabby Wells novels as I can, and we plan to release those every three to six months, depending on how fast I can write them.  If I could have all of those novels written by the time the first novella is released, that would be great.  That’s a lot of words in a short period of time, but that’s the goal.

But, I do plan a writing life after Gabby Wells.

Gabby-HeaderUp until my adventures in novel writing, I expressed my creative storytelling through screenplays.  I did that for over 20 years and many of those stories I plan to turn into novels.

The first non-Gabby story I will probably write is based on a screenplay I wrote called Redemption.  It’s a horror story and my wife’s favorite thing I’ve ever written.  I plan on that being the first in another series of books that involves a nun and modern takes on horror themes.

Plus, there are non-series stories I’d like to tell too.  I have another screenplay called Martyrs that I would love to turn into a novel.  It involves a young girl stuck at her father’s office as it is overrun by terrorists.  And a novella from a screenplay called Forgiven, about a young woman driving across the country who happens stop at a gas station while it’s in the process of getting held up.

And there’s more.  A lot more.  Many, many stories.

I just hope I have time to write them all.

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Word Count and Wreaking Hovac

Been very efficient this past week, typing out over 12,000 words.  I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Lost & Found and I must say I’ve really enjoyed putting Gabby through hell.

Writers have an odd relationship with the characters they love.  They create them, cherish them, give them hopes, dreams, goals, loves and then expend all of their energy trying to destroy every single one of them.  Not all at once, of course.  Just a little bit at a time.

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When I started this novella I didn’t intend to make Gabby’s life so miserable.  It just sort of turned out that way.  And for the better, from a story perspective.  In crisis is where we see what someone is truly made of, what friendships really mean, which convictions are founded in stone or sand.  I’m not sure how much suffering still awaits Gabby in final chapters of Lost & Found, but I’m sure it’ll be just a little more.

As long as it makes the story stronger, its worth it.  She won’t mind.

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Word Count and 50,000

Plotting out Lost & Found has really come in handy.  In a week I’ve written nearly 8,000 words.  The story is humming along.  I’m about half-way through, so it should end up in the 30,000 – 40,000 range, like the rest.

GW-Wordcount-061714I have been amazed how changes in the market, or new information I have come across during the learning process, has altered my approach.  These novellas exist because of a podcast I heard a few months ago.  The more I learn, the more I want to set myself up for success.  Sometimes, that requires changing my path.

There is one option out there that I have not yet decided on.

Bookbub is “a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans.”  This has been used extensively, and often with great success, by many independent authors.  Just because you want to use Bookbub doesn’t mean you can.  They are selective about who they promote and you have to meet their criteria.  One of those criteria is that the book has to be at least 50,000 words.

They don’t promote novellas.

Now they also want your book to have great reviews on Amazon and, preferably, critical acclaim from sources other than readers.  So, the word count isn’t the only hurdle, but one of the basic ones.

So, as I write, I wonder, “Should these novellas be short novels instead, 50,000 words, so promotional opportunities could be made available to me?”

I don’t know the answer to that question yet.  I don’t want to add words for the sake of word count.  I want to add words because they make the story better.  As mentioned in a previous blog, Skyway will probably leap over the 50,000 word limit by the time it is done.  But, when I look at the rest of the novellas, I’m not sure almost doubling The Homecoming Incident will make it any better.  And, at this point, Lost & Found doesn’t feel like a 50,000 word short novel.

What does all of this mean?  It means I haven’t made up my mind.

I won’t know for sure until all of the novellas are written. Because, when that is done, I want to look at them as a whole, as one large character arc, and see what has to be altered to maximize their overall effect.  Maybe that process will require additional words.

But will that turn into five 50,000 word short novels?

Only time will tell.

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Impatience

One of my continuing challenges I have is my impatience.  I am impatient with my career.  I am impatient when I read.  And I am impatient when I write.

One of the things I have tried to temper when I began writing novels were my expectations.  Ignorance is a bad guide and I have learned from past experiences that hoping to accomplish something is very different than knowing how to accomplish something.  Basing expectations on hope will set you up for failure because it is not tethered to the real world.

plot

So, I spend a lot of time learning how a thing should be done before telling myself when I should accomplish that thing.  That being said, I’m still behind schedule.  If I had stuck to my original (and ignorant) plan, I would be publishing my first novel this week.  Gabby Wells: Water & Blood was originally scheduled for release on June 4th.

Then I started learning more and more about self-publishing.  I started reading a lot and listening to about ten podcasts a week and learned about sales funnels and permafree and mailing lists and building tribes and street teams.  That led to the idea of writing a novella as an entryway to novels.  That led to writing five novellas.  And that has altered my expectations.

All of the changes have been for the right reasons, but my impatience doesn’t really care about that.  It wants to be done.

I’m also an impatient reader.  I fight the urge to skim through in order to find out what happens next.  I must force myself to digest every word because, now writing novels, I know how much time and effort each of those words represent.

But my impatience doesn’t really care about that.

It is no surprise, then, that I am an impatient writer.  In my first draft I am very much a heads down, get from A to B as directly as possible so I can move onto the next thing that happens.  Only after the plot is complete do I go back and look for the many ways I can elaborate character or intention.  All of those layers take time.

But my impatience doesn’t really care about that.

So, as I am knee deep in daily writing, fighting to go straight from A to B, I force myself to try and be patient.  I know what is supposed to happen in all five novellas.  I know what is supposed to happen in all five novels.  I just can’t wait for them to be done.  Unfortunately (actually, fortunately) those pages are waiting on me, an impatient writer, to fill them with the stories I see in my head.

As much as I remind myself, my impatience doesn’t really care that.

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Word Count & Novella 3 (Really 2)

I finally finished the first draft of Skyway, one of the novellas of our five novella series.  It’s placement in the series has shifted, as I mentioned before, moving from novella #2, to novella #4.  The current word count is just over 40,000 and will probably need another 2,000-3,000 when all is said and done.

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That means the third novella I’ll be working on, titled Lost & Found, will actually be novella #2 in the series.  I’ve sketched out the storyline and will now work on a chapter-by-chapter outline before diving into daily writing.

As for the first novella, The Homecoming Incident, which also still happens to be novella #1 (haha), it has been out with our teen Beta Readers.  Quick tips about teen Beta Readers.

  1. They don’t understand the concept of time.  Agreeing to read it in two weeks has meant trying to get them to do it four weeks later.
  2. They don’t give detail.  We offer our beta readers an anonymous survey to fill out so they could be free to share their true feelings.  Teens, however, aren’t really chatty, especially in a survey.  You get a lot of “I like it.” Or “It was cool.”  But, not a lot of detail, like you get from adult Beta Readers.

Lesson learned.  On future surveys, they’ll be longer and ask very specific questions that will give us the info we need.  Since they’re our target demographic, we’ll be patient.  But, be forewarned 🙂

Two novellas down, three to go.

 

 

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Word Count & Tossing Out 145,000 Words

I finished up the first draft of the novella Skyway this weekend.  It ran long, as I expected, and will probably be even longer when I get it through the Beta Readers.  But it’s a fun ride that starts out with a kick and throws in cool plot twists at the end of nearly every chapter.

Since the five novellas setup the five novels, the big decision this weekend came from the fact that, after having penned almost 70,000 novella words so far, that the 145,000 words I had already written for Novels 1 & 2  had to be thrown out.

The first novel, Water & Blood had already run through the first group of Beta Readers and the second novel, Shadows & Lies had already been hashed out once at around 80,000 words and was in the process of a second rewrite.  Both of them needed to be trashed, leaving a fresh, clean slate.

Because of that, I changed the graphic below to focus on the novellas until they’re all complete.

GW-Wordcount-050414The plots of the trashed novels will remain the same, but the actual way the story unfolds will need to be updated to take into consideration the content of the novellas.

Am I happy about losing years of work and over a hundred thousand words?  Nope.   But, it’s the right thing to do, so there wasn’t really another choice.

 

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Book Review – One Day in Budapest

One Day in Budapest is the fourth book in the ARKANE novel series by author J.F. Penn.

OneDayBudapestPenn crafts a powerful story about the tenuous nature of society when deep seeded hatred flows beneath the surface.  One Day in Budapest follows ARKANE Agent Morgan Sierra as she teams up with Zoltan Fischer to uncover the conspiracy behind the theft of the Holy Right relic of St. Stephen and its use to foment old hatreds against the Hungarian Jewish community.

Penn’s novella is well crafted and involves such deep and subtle detail that can only come from someone who has been there, visited the locations, understands the culture and knows how to present a possible future if bigotry and ignorance were to reign.

The fast-paced story shows how quickly mob rule and generational bias can boil over into something ugly.  This possibility exists in every society and Penn does a wonderful job to show how only a couple of pieces are required to thrust the ugly parts of society to the surface.

The characters are rich and well formed, making this book a very enjoyable read.

I also had the additional pleasure of listening to the audio book, which is exceptionally well done.  Either reading the book or listening to it are both great options.

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