Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kindle Unlimited Follow-Up

It has now been a few months since the launch of KU.  It has been good and bad for me so far.  The good part has still been a pick up in borrows for books that hadn't received any attention in years.

The bad... has been wonky sales for just about everything else.  Things that were selling consistently are no longer doing so.  And the rate of borrows seems to fluctuate from month to month.  It's enough of a change in numbers to really make me consider if I want a particular title to be exclusive or not.

So I've pulled a number of titles out of KU.  The trickle of borrows wasn't compensating for the exclusivity to Amazon.  But I have still left all of the works under one pen name entirely under the KU umbrella.  For some reason the combination of borrowing and genre works for that pen name.

I have to say, the jury is still out for me on the practicality of KU.  The dust is starting to settle and I'm not sure if short stories are going to come out on top.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Four to Score

I have now been published for four years.

Sweet Alaskan asparagus tips!  That's, like, how long I was in college.

Did I think I would make it this far?  Who knows.  But if there was a theme to this past year I would say that it was proving to myself I'm in it for the long haul.

When I first started this whole self-publishing thing I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  To be honest, I thought I could just throw the stories I had already written onto the Internet and make money off them.  That, as it turns out, is not how this business works.  Making money off of your writing requires time, effort and patience.

I feel that I do deserve a pat on the back because I did stick with it even after the harsh reality started to sink in.  After all, blogs are really about giving oneself pats on the back.

So here I am... four years later.  I wouldn't say that I've struck it rich yet.  But I am making a very small but steady side income.  That's something, I suppose.  At least it's a noticeable difference from the big fat zero I was making when I first started.

Nothing about my publishing has really changed this past year.  I have no new strategies.  And I've also come to terms with the fact that each word I put down on a page--be it good or bad--is all helping to develop my skills at telling a tale.

Even though nothing has changed on the outside, on the inside I feel different.  This past year I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm a writer.  I know that sounds stupid.  Of course I'm a writer.  I've been writing for years, right?

Wrong.

Writing for years and thinking of yourself as a writer are two very different things.  It takes time to become comfortable in the shoes you chose to wear.  For a long time they seem like someone else's shoes.  They wear you.  You're just pretending to be a writer while there are others out there that really are writers.  The end result is feeling almost ashamed of your endeavors.  Root canals sound more appealing than telling strangers you have your art for sale somewhere.

Well, this past year I finally got over that mental block.  I am at peace with my writing self.  People ask me about it and I no longer feel like a poser when I answer, "Yes, I'm a writer."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Considering a Publisher Name

I've been considering a publisher name.  As in, instead of not listing any publisher at all I have fictitious name listed.

I realize that most people don't even think to look at a publisher name.  But it seems like an easy way to organize my books.  I also think it looks a little more professional should someone actually scroll down to look...?

I'm worried, however, that I am just creating pointless work for myself that will just cut into my writing time.  Establishing a separate publisher name would mean hours of redoing copyright pages and republishing stories.  Will this affect sales at all?  Probably not.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review of "My Card," a short story by Matthew Allred



Summary:
A bizarre relationship between two young men proves more dangerous and bloody than anyone would have guessed. From the outside looking in, Christopher Card and Stephan Maccabee are close friends--always at each other's sides--but the truth is much more brutal and horrifying.

Review:
A simply enthralling short story.  The focus centers around a (schizophrenic?) high school boy's inner struggle with himself.  

This story was the perfect balance of "psychology" and "horror" without becoming overly gruesome.  To me the brilliance of this story was in how the reader's perception of the characters change.  It starts out like they're normal friends.  Then you wonder if there's something else going on between them.  Then the horror of what they're about to do really hits.  I actually felt nervous for the victim!

This is an excellent piece of horror fiction and well with picking up a copy.  

4.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tortured by Novels

I am a short story writer.  The thing is that if you are not a short story writer this is a difficult concept to understand.  The only thing I can equate it to is music.  You find the instrument that you consider to be your voice.  I can play both the violin and viola very well but I consider myself to be a violist.  It's my instrument.  It's me.

The same goes for short stories.  The precise, compact writing style is my voice.  It's me.  Even before I started writing my brain would constantly think of new ways to streamline the story I was reading.  And now that I've been writing for a few years the problem is even more pronounced.  It's aggravating for me to read long, drawn out sections in a novel that serve no purpose whatsoever.

Is it really necessary for the heroine to be looping around in her head why she can't be with the hero a FOURTH time?  We know their issues.  Address the issues.  Maybe readdress the issues to remind the reader.  And then move on!

What's even more aggravating to me is that I'm haunted by the idea of writing a novel.  I mean, they sell way better than a short story.  Why do I put myself through the agony of writing story after story when I could just spend the time making one LONG story that may actually sell?

I've lost track of the number of times I've mentally succumbed to the novel's siren's song.  I sit down thinking: "This will be the story that I'll turn into a novel.  I'll drag out all the scenes.  I'll pad all the descriptions.  The works."

I write the story with this mindset.  And then it ends up being a 12,000 word novelette.

So I give up!  I'm tired of being tortured by novels.  If one happens to come out of my brain, that's great.  But in the meantime I am resolved to be content with my short story existence.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A soapbox rant on KU royalties and short stories

Ok I've seen some discussion lately about the issue of short stories and KU. Lots of talk on whether or not the 10% marker is fair because it takes way less effort for the reader hit the 10% mark in a short story than it does in a novel.

Now I'm not trying to bash anyone. And I'm not trying to point fingers or accuse people of being right or wrong. Because you know what? It'snot fair that someone can just go through the title page and be 10% into a short story.

But you know what's also not fair? I have to pay the same amount for cover art no matter how long or short my novelette is.

You know what's also not fair? I get one-star reviews solely because a story did not exceed X number of words (not even a mention about the actual content).

You know what's even less unfair? Short stories are really hard to sell. For every 100 people that read novels maybe one likes the occasional short story. And an even smaller percentage of that one actually goes out and buys short stories.

But you know what? I don't care. I choose to write short stories. It's my problem.

So now one thing comes along that kind of gives a slight advantage to short story writers and people are getting up in arms about the fairness of it. It's not even that much of an advantage! People are still going to read way more novels than short stories. So yeah the 10% mark is hit more easily but we are talking about one "read" every five days. Not five reads every day.

If you choose to write novels then you have to take the good with the bad. That means taking a hit on reads if you participate in KU. If it doesn't suit your business needs, don't do it. Make an informed decision based on the product you are trying to sell.

But it's ok for things to not be completely fair.

All right. End of rant.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of "Lilies," a single story in a collection by Torrance Calder



Summary:
Three stories all focusing on relationships and loss in different stages of life:

A Broken Camera
The most horrible events in our lives stick in our minds like images in a camera. But, what happens when the camera breaks?

Lilies
Do flowers respond to our feelings?

The Waterfall
Why is his father's nose crooked?

Review:
I hate to say it but there really wasn't much to this story.  Two people go out on a date and they didn't suit.  With no conflict, no character progression and no real sense of any emotions the end result was, unfortunately, boring.  

The story came to its conclusion with the main character realizing that the flowers her date gave her wilted.  Was this supposed to be symbolic of something?  There was so much opportunity for plot subtleties that were missed out on.  

2/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this collection on Amazon.