Write More Books: 2013 365 Challenge #254

What I was doing today when I wanted to be writing!

What I was doing today when I wanted to be writing!

I keep reading blog posts on the importance of writing and releasing new books to boost sales of existing works. Posts like this; Marketing: “Why Isn’t it Working?” by Chris McMullen (point 12)  or this, Why Slow is Good for E-Publishing by M T McGuire or this How to Sell a Million Books, suggest that one of the key things an author needs to do to succeed is to write more books.

A post by August Wainwright, guesting on the blog No Rules Just Write, explains how an author need not sell books on the scale of Stephenie Meyers, Suzanne Collins, E L James, J K Rowling or Amanda Hocking (yes my choice of female authors is deliberate – read this post) to make a career out of being a writer. Mostly one needs to be prolific. As the post states: “Slow growth is the sustainable way to success as an author”

I'd rather be writing

I’d rather be writing

The key is to write good books and keep writing them. A sale a day (I aspire to a sale a day!) doesn’t sound like a lot until you multiply it by ten or twenty and project it over a thirty year curve, knowing digital books can be in print forever.

I love reading these things because they support my own goals and ambitions. I don’t actually want to be the next “insert big name here.” I want to earn enough to consider writing a career and still be able to do the school run. I’d have to be selling thirty books a day to come close to even a modest income (not factoring in editor/proofreader/cover costs). That feels a long way off. But entirely doable.

In the post, August Wainwright talks of writing novellas, which makes it easier to write the projected 8 books a year his figures are based on. Reading the post it seems tempting to write novellas but it’s not my current skill set. (That doesn’t mean I can’t learn!)

Egg-box alien

Egg-box alien

However, when I look at the words I’ve accumulated for Two-Hundred Steps Home this year – currently approaching the 200k mark – on top of editing Baby Blues and marketing Dragon Wraiths, suddenly writing three books a year feels possible. Whether they’d be good books is another issue and one I’m not in a position to judge. But it gives hope.

The problem is it also makes me fish out an in-progress manuscript (Class Act!) whenever I have five minutes to myself, instead of writing my next Claire installment or readying Baby Blues for print format, or any of the other tough things that need doing. It gives me justification to do what I love, which is to write stories and have them read.

Like every other writer in the universe; this gal just wants to write.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 

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“What will you do?”

Claire stood in front of Josh and drew circles in the dust with her toe. She’d come down to breakfast to find him waiting outside the hostel with his bag.

“I’m getting a shuttle to Christchurch in about half an hour. I can catch a flight from there back home.”

Without looking, Claire imagined the hurt in his eyes: the sense of betrayal. She couldn’t blame him. Having lain awake most of the night reliving her diatribe, she was certain he couldn’t hate her more than she hated herself. Words of apology filled her mouth but refused to be spoken, in case they broke her resolve. Wrapping her arms around herself against the early morning chill, Claire looked down the road past Josh.

“What about your tour ticket? I didn’t even ask whether you bought a package for the bus? I know how extortionate the prices are; are you out of pocket?”

“Nah. I chucked the driver some dollars, said I was chasing a pretty lady. Guess he figured we’d sort it out one way or another after a few stops. He was right, wasn’t he?”

Claire turned involuntarily to face him, and wished she hadn’t. His pale face and the dark circles beneath his eyes told their own tale. Hugging herself tighter, Claire resisted the urge to run her hands through his unkempt hair. No matter how much she knew she was doing the right thing, it still hurt like hell.

“What will you tell Fiona?”

Josh’s face twisted into something between a grimace and a sneer. “I’ll have to tell her the truth, I guess. It’s not like anything happened.” The bitterness in his voice tore at Claire and she inhaled, ready to defend herself.

“No, don’t bother.” His voice softened and he rubbed at his face as if scrubbing away his ill humour. “I’m being an arse. I deserved everything you said last night. I am being a child. Fiona was always there for me, you know, before the kids. I suppose I came to rely on her. Now she needs me, and I’ve done nothing but cause her agro.”

“Do you need to tell her all the truth? Don’t hurt her just to ease your own guilty conscience. Why not tell her you needed time away to think?”

Claire wasn’t sure if advising Josh to conceal the complete truth was a brilliant idea. But she didn’t relish the notion of Fiona seeking revenge, or throwing her husband out for something he hadn’t done; even if he’d wanted to.

Josh didn’t respond, but Claire was rewarded by seeing a hint of colour return to his cheeks.

“You always know the right thing to say or not say,” he said eventually. “Have you considered a job with the UN?”

Claire felt the seriousness pass, heralding a return to the lightness of friendship. She welcomed it. “Me a diplomat? Not likely: I don’t have an ounce of tact. I’m going to have to think of something, though. I can’t be an unemployed traveller forever. Not least because the money’s going to run out soon.”

“What will you do?” Josh echoed Claire’s question from earlier.

She laughed. “I have no idea. Go home, I guess. Find a job. Go and work for Conor. Who knows? Maybe I’ll set up a bus tour in the UK, so there are fewer unsuspecting girls offering lifts to strangers.”

She wished the words unsaid as soon as she uttered them.

“Do you regret it? Coming to the observatory? Giving me a ride?”

Claire shook her head, unable to speak around the lump in her throat. She winced as the movement aggravated the sore muscle in her neck. Josh reached into his bag and brought out a small white box.

“Diclofenac. For the pain. It’s the least I can do.” He held them out to her and, after a moment’s hesitation, Claire took them.

“Thanks.”

“There you are. Ridding you of two pains in the neck in one go.” He smiled his lopsided grin and Claire felt tears sneak out and dribble down her face.

The sound of an approaching vehicle made them both turn.

“That’s my lift,” Josh said, “the hostel manager’s taking me to the shuttle.”

They stood together watching the car approach. Too soon it was parked in front of them, and it was time to say goodbye.

Claire stood with her arms hanging by her sides as Josh threw his bag into the foot well. He turned and tilted his head, peering under her mane of hair until she met his eyes.

“No hard feelings?”

Claire shook her head.

Josh held out his arms. “Hug?”

With a nod, Claire stepped into his embrace.

“I’m going to miss you,” Josh whispered into her hair.

“Me too,” Claire mumbled, before turning to walk slowly towards the hostel. She waited for the sound of the car door, the rev of the engine. As the wheels span in the dust she turned and watched the car drive away.

***

Should Books ever be Free? 2013 365 Challenge #239

The Inflatable Slide

The Inflatable Slide

There’s an ongoing debate amongst self-published authors (potentially all authors but I can only speak for Indies) about the merits of making an ebook cheap or even free for a short period of time.

For an unknown author, making use of something like the KDP Select Program, with its five free days every three months, can be a great way to get your name out there.

Even if no one reads your book after they’ve downloaded it for free – and I’m sure the majority don’t (I only ready about 10% of those I download for free) – the giveaways increase your Amazon rankings and make you appear in the ‘also bought’ section at the bottom.

The more relaxed Bouncy Castle

The more relaxed Bouncy Castle

Whether this gives you sales you wouldn’t have achieved anyway, with self-belief and patience (not traits I have in abundance), is possibly debatable, but I know I wouldn’t have sold 7 copies in Germany this month if I hadn’t appeared on some German website during my last free promo. Dragon Wraiths reached No 1 in Fantasy during the three-day promotional period and it boosted sales tremendously, if only for a short time.

The effect of the other element – pricing cheaply – is harder to grasp. Authors like Amanda Hocking have made their fortune with a 99c price point, but only through lots and lots of hard work, promotion and through writing lots of books.

Equally I have heard compelling arguments to say pricing too cheap can affect people’s perspective of your credibility as an author. It’s hard to utilise free alongside low pricing, as the KDP Select Program prevents you from pricing as low as 99c, so I have little direct experience of a low price point.

In another dog show

In another dog show

Therefore these are not questions I have answers to. Catherine, Caffeinated has a great post on why Indie authors need to price low, even though she also wrote the post above about why you should charge as much as you can. If she does’t know the answer, with her wealth of experience, I’m certainly unlikely to figure it out. I imagine it is different for every author, book and personality type (ie how much patience is on offer).

The reason it popped into my head today was due to a trip to our local village fete. The kids wanted to go on the bouncy castle and the inflatable slide. The castle was £2 for as long as they liked. The slide was £1.50 for three goes.

Most parents and kids came away from the busy bouncy castle feeling happy that they’d received value for money. We all came away from the half-empty inflatable slide, and the miserable lady ushering the kids off after their three goes, feeling grumpy and hard done by.

Our Young Handler, 4th place

Our Young Handler, 4th place

Just because the castle man was giving away more, it didn’t devalue the experience. I suspect he made more money even though the kids were on the castle for ages for their two quid: there’s nothing like a castle full of giggling bouncing children to entice others to have a go. No one went on the inflatable slide twice, they just went elsewhere.

Part of being an author is about building a brand. If you give your book for free, so what? It means people have a chance to read your book who probably wouldn’t otherwise. If people like what they read they’ll come back for more, even if it isn’t free. If they don’t like it, you’ve lost nothing. Yes you get bad reviews but you get those anyway (or I certainly do)!

Anyway, these are just my thoughts! What are your views on cheap and free? Does it make you think the book won’t be worth reading, or does it encourage you to discover new authors?

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 

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It surprised Claire how much more fun it was wandering around a museum with someone else, particularly someone knowledgeable who also had a sense of humour. Bethan proved herself well versed in the history of the country and the Maoris, adding snippets of information and reducing the amount of sign-reading Claire had to do.

The Te Papa museum was vast, with everything from Maori dancing to space exploration. Claire’s feet throbbed and her mind swirled with the myriad of information crammed into it. And it was free! When she thought about the money she’d spent on tours and experiences since arriving in the country, and here was this amazing facility at no cost. Even so, it was definitely time for a break, before her legs dropped off.

“Enough! Don’t you ever stop?” Claire stood with her hands on her hips as Bethan tried to drag her outside to see the ponds.

“We’ve only seen about half. Come on, wus, don’t stop now. What else is there to do? It’s tipping it down outside.”

Claire smiled at the strangely English colloquialisms coming from the Asian face in an America accent. Bethan’s history intrigued her, not least because she hadn’t shared a single thing about herself apart from the stay in the States.

“A coffee, please? Just a coffee break. I need caffeine.”

“It’s not good for you, you know? Much better to drink fruit juice or, better still, water.”

Claire pulled a face. “I wouldn’t live longer, it would just feel like it. Okay, I’ll have a latte and you can drink green tea.”

It was her turn to drag Bethan, as she towed the girl towards the coffee shop. It was crowded, like the whole museum, and Claire sincerely hoped they would find a seat.

Trust me to be in the capital on a bank holiday weekend. Why couldn’t I have been in river valley or somewhere else devoid of people? Rain or no rain, I might have to brave the Cook Strait crossing tomorrow.

As if reading her mind, it was Bethan’s first question when they eventually found a seat. ”When will you get back on the bus? Are you taking the ferry or flying to the South Island?”

“Ferry, I guess. Whichever is cheaper.”

“I wouldn’t fancy flying in this weather. It’s a nasty crossing on a good day.”

“You sound like you’ve done it before?” Claire sipped at her coffee and felt the warmth and caffeine spread through her body.

“I have. This is my second tour of the country. I did it all too quickly the first time round.” She blushed and Claire wondered what the story was. She raised an eyebrow, inviting confidences, but Bethan only shook her head and laughed.

“Are you staying in Wellington for a while?”

Bethan smiled, seemingly glad of the change of subject. “I should. I need to work. Funds are running low again, and it will be easier to find a job here in the city.” She frowned. “I’d rather not, though. One city is pretty much the same as another after a while. I miss the mountains.”

Remembering something Mitch had said, Claire asked, “Couldn’t you get work at one of the ski resorts, or down in Queenstown?”

Bethan shook her head. “I don’t ski. Besides …” She hesitated and Claire again suspected there was a story there.

Maybe she’ll feel able to tell me later.

It felt good to have some female company, to gossip – even if it was a bit one sided. Claire had told Bethan about Carl and Michael, work and Kim. Something about the way the girl actively listened made Claire share her life history with her.

Sitting with Bethan, laughing at silly things that they had seen or done during the morning, Claire felt a pang of sadness. It felt like old times with Kim. She wondered if she would ever have them again.

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