Tag Archives: publishing

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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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.

WordCount-032014

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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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.

GW-Wordcount-031314

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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Podcast 06 – Publishing

On today’s podcast author Pete Bauer and Dorothea Bauer discuss the publishing of Gabby Wells.


Running Time: 25:09

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Traditional Publishing
  • Smelling Books
  • Print On-Demand Technology
  • Harry Potter
  • Royalties, Rights & Control
  • Are Publishers Reaching Your Target Demographic
  • Self Publishing
  • Earnings
  • Good & Bad Aspects of Control
  • Book Covers
  • Hats
  • Podcasts
  • Write, Publish, Repeat
  • Funnels and Binge Entertainment Consumption
  • Read Thru Rates
  • Price Changes and Audience Segments

Link:
Platform by Michael Hyatt
Write, Publish, Repeat
Amazon
AuthorEarnings.com
Self Publishing Podcast
Rocking Self Publishing 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.

WordCount-030614

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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Helpful Links

Want to start writing or publishing novels?

There are a lot of great websites out there to help new writers learn from experts and for starting publishers to get a feel on the marketplace.  Here are a few that I’ve found helpful and the ones I visit most often.

Alton Gansky – a successful Christian author who has published over 40 books, both fiction and non-fiction.  Gansky provides video interviews on a consistent basis with leading authors, publishers, editors and book designers.  If you want to learn from the experiences of others, this site is a great resource.

Books & Such Blog – Books & Such is a literary agency that represents over 150 authors, including over 20 best selling writers.  The faith-filled staff provide nearly daily blog entries on all things literary from the perspective of an agent.  I visit this site daily.  They don’t represent me, but I hope, by the time the Gabby Wells novels are published, I’d have gained enough traction to have them represent me on another novel series I plan to write after the Gabby books are done.

Michael Hyatt – Hyatt was once the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world.  He has turned his focus to speaking, helping people get the most out of their products and rising above the congestive marketing noise on the internet.  His website and other offerings are full of effective and helpful information.  His book Platform, previously mentioned on this website, is one of the most practical, inspiring and helpful books for people trying to grow a following and market their material.

Molly Greene – Greene is a free lance writer, blogger and author who continually updates her site with her own insight or links to other helpful blog entries that can range from writing to publishing, marketing to promo ideas.

Chip MacGregor – another literary agency with a nice blog that is updated consistently with great information.

John August – For those of you interested in screenwriting, August (Big Fish, Go, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) provides a vast array of information, including a weekly podcast with fellow screenwriter Craig Mazin (Identity Thief, Hangover 2 & 3).  Great insight about the business from people inside the business.

And here are some other helpful websites for specific needs.

Good Reads – If you like to read novels and want to share your experiences with others, Good Reads is a great place to see what other people are reading and what they think about them.

Chesterton Press – If they were accepting submissions, I would submit our Gabby Wells novels to this Catholic publisher.  However, on their submissions page, if you scroll down to A Brief Analysis of Story Telling: The Harry Potter Standard you will find a detailed and wonderfully instructional guide, using J.K. Rowling’s approach to writing, to show the right way to structure and approach writing.  Great stuff.

Createspace vs. Lightning Source – Not sure if you should self-publish in Amazon’s Createspace, publish with the main printing company (Lightning Source) nearly all publishers use, or some combination of both, this blog entry from Terri Guiliano shares the pros and cons of each approach.

99 Designs – needs a book cover?  Get book designers submitting their work to you for a relatively low price.

Catholic Writers Guild – Writing a Catholic book and need a way for book stores to know your book is in line with Catholic teaching?  The Catholic Writers Guild offers a service to read and approve your book with an official Seal of Approval.

These are just some of 150 or so sites I have accumulated about the publishing industry.

Take a look and happy hunting.

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Assumptions

Trying to determine the best path for a new novel series is like trying to find your way through a wild jungle with only a pocket knife at your disposal.

Gabby-Header

When we look at how best to release our Gabby Wells novel series, we have extensively researched, evaluated the marketplace and have come up with some basic assumptions.

  1. Publishers and readers will pigeonhole these novels as Catholic or Christian fiction. The consequence is the book becomes a niche young adult offering instead of a general one.  This is based on the fact that the main character is a Catholic youth, strong in her faith, who actively works to figure out how her faith should interact with her life.
  2. Most Christian publishers are Protestant-based and rarely/never publish Catholic flavored fiction.  This comes from evaluating the top Christian publishers and the books their authors write.
  3. Most Christian bookstores are Protestant-based and rarely/never carry Catholic flavored fiction.  This comes from evaluating the top Christian bookstores and the books they sell.
  4. Most Catholic publishers focus solely on non-fiction authors.  This comes from evaluating the top Catholic publishers and the books their authors write.
  5. Most Catholic bookstore do not carry Catholic fiction.  This comes from personal experience and validated by further research.
  6. Most of the work in promoting and marketing a novel is done by the author.  This comes from extensive research from information shared by authors themselves and blogs from publishers and agents.
  7. Publishers may be wary of the dark paths and decisions the main character takes during her faith journey and the sacramental nature of her faith.  This is more of a gut feel than proven research, but since the novels are a series, there is a risk of one publisher owning the rights to some of the books while the remaining books in the series are owned by some other entity.
  8. Publishers would be wary of taking on a novel series where they cannot benefit from all of the rights normally included when signing an author.  Gabby Wells character is a Sonlight Pictures property with television series and movie scripts already written and copyrighted.
  9. The higher value proposition for a niche book limited by the assumptions above would be far greater by not using an established publisher.  If assumption #1 is correct, then a decision has to be made on whether it is a better decision to make %15 on a niche book from an established publishing company or take 85% on a niche book by self-publishing/creating your own imprint?

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea if any of these assumptions are completely valid.  That’s why they’re assumptions.

But these are the things that muddle through my brain as we get closer to a finished product in the first book in the Gabby Wells series.

So, if our assumptions are correct and it would be difficult to find a publisher that would accept it, find a bookstore that would sell it, that we’d have to market it ourselves anyway, for a niche book that would exist in a small market, then the next logical questions is:

Why are you doing this????

Simple.  Because I feel God has asked me to.

I’ve learned from past experience that God dreams bigger than we do and, therefore, I remain ever hopeful of the success of our novel series.  That definition of success is up to God, not me.

As much as I believe my assumptions about publishing Gabby Wells are close to the mark, I have also learned from past experience my assumptions about God’s plan in my life have rarely been accurate.  So, I will wait and see how things play out, what resources will cross my path and what opportunities will find me when I least expect it.

Only then will I know if I have assumed correctly.

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The Book of Jotham – Book Review

The Book of Jotham, written by Arthur Powers, is a novella written from the perspective of a mentally challenged man-child who becomes a disciple of Christ.

BookOfJothamJotham is cared for by Mary and others during Jesus’ ministry and his innocence gives him insight into Christ’s real identity. Some of the apostles question why God would create someone like Jotham, who appears to be at a disadvantage, but Jesus defends him, knowing the purity of his heart.

As a novella, The Book of Jotham is published by Tuscany Press and won Tuscany’s 2012 Best Novella prize last year.

The idea of writing the Gospel accounts from the perspective of Jotham gave a fresh perspective on the material.  In line with Jotham’s mental challenges, his sentences are short and simple and innocent.

This approach works well to express Christ’s story in a new way, but I have to admit that, by the end of the book, I wanted more.  I wanted more description, more insight, more words. Reading a novella where most of the sentences are under ten words, many of them just one or two, dampened my reading experience over time.  The novelty wore off and I grew frustrated.

Granted, the author had to stay honest with the character and approach and I applaud him for taking such a bold step, but it eventually did not jive with my personal tastes.

For others, it may not bother them at all and they may think I’m nuts.  That’s okay too.

As a novella, The Book of Jotham is a quick and easy read that is well written with a unique style and voice, giving a new way to experience Christ’s ministry.

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Podcast 02 – Author Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand, author of over 20 novels, including the highly successful Andrew Mayhem Series and A Bad Day for VooDoo shares his approach to his comedy-horror novels, the changes to distribution and his latest release, Dead Clown Barbecue.

JeffStrand-Podcast

Many thanks to Jeff who suffered through a cold while recording the podcast.  He’s a trooper.

Enjoy the Show!

(Running Time 38:24)

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Jeff Strand

Lynne Hansen Design

Books:

Conventions:

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