Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pre-Publishing Questions

Maria Zannini of Book Cover Diva has already made a rough mockup of the cover for Young Seasons. It might be ready as soon as this weekend. Of course, a book cover is just one of the many decisions an indie writer has to make when she puts on her publishing hat. Here are some of the decisions I make before I publish a story:

Purpose--The purpose of this collection is to provide some backstory for the heroines of my Season Avatars series--and to promote the rest of the books. Since the prequel for this series is set hundreds of years before the rest of the books, I want to give readers another way to discover the main characters and this series. Hopefully, readers will want to learn more about Gwen, Jenna, Ysabel, and Kay after reading Young Seasons.

EBook, Paper, or Both?--This decision affects my costs, cover design, and formatting. I use the same template for both eBooks and paper books, but there are some tweaks I make for the different editions. I'll make novels available in both formats, but since Young Seasons is only about 70 pages, I'll make this an eBook edition only. At some point, I'll combine these stories with some of my other short stories to create a longer collection. That will be available in both formats.

Editing Process--I'm so particular about my work that I revise and line-edit my drafts before I even think about letting someone else look at it. After all, the fewer issues there are with the story, the less they'll find, right? What that really means is that other people will find problems I can't see. I've used beta readers and freelance editors in the past. I'm still debating which path to choose for the Young Seasons collection. Ultimately, this decision will have the most impact on release date. It'll also affect quality and the number of copies I need to sell to break even.

Pre-Order or Not?--With books, I normally set them up for pre-order because I need to allow time for perfecting the paper copy (which also affects the eBook version). I'm not preparing a paper edition, though I will probably proof the stories on paper before release. I probably won't put this collection up for pre-order, so once I'm satisfied, I can publish it.

KDP Select or Wide Distribution?--All of my other works are currently available on multiple sites, such as Kobo, B&N, and Apple, in addition to the almighty Amazon. I'm considering making this collection exclusive to Amazon for the first three months to see if it'll help me with promotion and reviews. Honestly, though, I didn't see much improvement with sales or reads the few times I've tried Select. For long-term growth, it's best to be wide.

Price--Due to the short length of this collection, I don't plan to price it above $0.99. I might try making this free, either for short periods or as a permafree. This decision will affect my distribution decision.

Back Matter--If I want readers to discover the rest of the Season Avatars series, it would make sense to include a sample chapter from Scattered Seasons at the end of this collection. However, not all readers want bonus material, since they judge the length of the story by the length of the file. If I do this, I'll mention it in the book description.

Promotion--Pricing and distribution decisions will affect my ability to promote my work with paid ads.

As you can see, there's a lot of thought that goes into publishing, and I haven't even mentioned blurbs, keywords, or genres. Some writers would rather have someone else make these decisions so they can focus on writing. I view these decisions as experiments. Each decision is a different variable I can change to figure out what works best for the particular work. All writers have to decide how much hands-on control they want and what they're willing to have others do for them. What works for one author might not for someone else. Don't be afraid to try new things and keep asking questions. Questions force you to find the answers that will make you grow.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Got a Guest Post or Something to Promote?

Remember how last week I blogged about outlining my next urban fantasy series before starting to write it? Well, I do have some notes on the final book, but I couldn't resist diving into the first book, currently called Dryads to Discover. I'm not very far into it, as I haven't got much writing done at home the last few evenings. Still, it's a start. I'm also working on three crochet projects (I need to finish two Star Wars characters by this Saturday and a blanket by Labor Day weekend) and going through Summon the Seasons again for another round of edits. All of this sure keeps me busy, though it doesn't necessarily inspire me with interesting material for the blog. So...anyone else want to propose topic for a guest post? Or do you have a science fiction/fantasy book you'd like to promote? Please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I have some writing and crocheting to do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

The summer solstice was technically last night in the Northern Hemisphere, but I figure it's not too late to celebrate with some music, both really old:

and a little newer:

Also, happy birthday to Jenna, the Summer Avatar and heroine of Chaos Season!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Outlining a Trilogy

After I wrap up the Season Avatars series, the next big writing project I want to tackle is an urban fantasy trilogy. (I also have a partial draft of a children's book, but so far that's a standalone. I may write a sequel or two later if there's interest.) I have a general sense of the characters and the situation, but instead of plowing in, I'm trying to outline not just the first book, but the overall series. There are still a lot of unresolved questions, but at least I'm thinking not just about what the heroes are doing, but also their antagonists want, what are the worst things I can do to the heroes, and what their emotional arcs should look like. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to write the entire series before editing and releasing it, or if I'll go book-by-book the way I did with the Season Avatars series. As long as I end up with finished books that make sense, the path to them doesn't matter too much.

If you write a series, do you plot it all out before starting or do it book-by-book? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wanted: Beta Readers!

I finally finished revising Young Seasons, a quartet of short stories set in the Season Avatars universe. Including front and back matter, the collection is about 84 pages or nearly 27,000 words. Here's the word count breakdown:

"But Not Today" (Gwen's story): 4500 words
"Last Locomotive from Wistica" (Kay's Story): about 4700 words (title is still tentative)
"To Name the Anilink: (Ysabel's story): 9300 words
"Jenna's Rosebush" (Jenna's story): 7100 words

As you can see, I didn't worry too much about making sure all the stories were the same length. Now the important thing is checking how readers like the stories. I'll be reaching out to my mailing list, but is anyone interested in being a beta reader, someone willing to read the stories and point out any plot holes or inconsistencies? You'll get a free eBook when the story is published and credit in the Introduction. In the meantime, back to another round of corrections for Summon the Seasons--and also time to work on the next project!

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