The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.
PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?
We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:
Short Story = 7 scenes
Novella = 27 scenes
Novel = 60 scenes
Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.
Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:
Twitter fiction (really?)
Under 1000 words = flash fiction
Under 7500 words = short story
7500 – 17500 = novelette
Up to 40,000 = novella
Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)
Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)
Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!
Monday Writing Quote
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
― Brian Clark
THIS IS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY
By Natalie Bright
If you think about that statistical report which estimates a new title is published every five minutes on Amazon, you might start to hyperventilate and then throw up your hands in frustration. How can we ever get noticed in such a swirling frenzy of titles? That’s a lot of options for readers and your book will probably not be an instant success. Most likely your launch will not result in a flurry of sales.
The good news is there are more ways to publish your work now, more than ever before. Your digital eBook may very well live longer than you.
Case in point, this week I received an order from a public library for a book I self-published in 2010. The ISBN cataloging system did its job, because I took the advice of several Indie Authors and purchased a block of ISBNs myself from Bowker. My book is now on it’s way from Texas to Missouri. That book project and promotion is long since done, but the title and contents are new to the librarian who just discovered it in 2017. It was all very official. I received a purchase order and she will receive a copy of OIL PEOPLE for her collection.
My book went to Missouri!
So the question to ask yourself is this:
How important is it that you find readers, and are you in it for the long haul?
Are you prepared to tweet, create memes, talk to groups, write blog posts, and plan ad campaigns around your books? Are you prepared to do all you can to promote your titles forever?
Your eBooks do not have a limited shelf life.
In reality, the chance of future readers discovering your books depends solely on you, whether you are traditionally or Indie published. And I just realized this week, there is no deadline to that discover-ability.
Remember that seven year old book I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess I better start thinking about new ways to revive the blurb.
Carry on, writers–we’ve got some promoting to do, and in your spare time, keep writing!
Promote You: Are You an Indie Author?
To better promote yourself, you need a clearer picture of the path you want to pursue.
The old west, history of the U.S. and the hardiness of the people from that time period has always fascinated me. I ran across this quote from the Editor of the Cheyenne Valley News, Harry Lovald, who wrote: “The trouble with most of us is a restless spirit. Instead of making opportunity come to us, we are chasing our legs off running after it.”
That description of early pioneers perfectly describes today’s Indie Author. This week, someone asked me, “What is the term you keep saying? Indie Author? What does that mean?” For me the choice is finally clear. After four years, I terminated the contract with a literary agency to become a proud Indie Author.
For those of you who are new to the creative art of writing and publishing your book, here is a quick review of today’s terms.
- Indie Author: independently published author, meaning an author who not only is the creator of the work, but shoulders the cost for putting that work into production for the consumer and maintains complete control of the intellectual property. An Indie Author realizes there are many opportunities and paths to realize their goals. They can do everything themselves or put together a capable team of others to help.
- Traditionally Published: an author who uses the traditional gatekeepers of publishing such as literary agents and editors of publishing companies. A traditional publishing contract transfers ownership of the intellectual property from author to publishing company.
- Hybrid Authors:a fairly new type of author that has emerged meaning they are both traditionally and independently published. A) They may have obtained their rights back for their backlist of traditionally published books, and are now putting that work out themselves. Or, B) they may have started as an Indie Author and realized great success in the rankings to garner a substantial fan base, and then was offered a deal from a traditional publisher.
Either way you look at it, it’s all good and it’s a wonderful time to be the creator of original content.
“It is a great responsibility to be pioneers in so great a world.” NARCISSA WHITMAN
Promote You: Author Bio
This week, think about updating your author bio across your many social media platforms. I removed a sentence about my education and added a sentence about a soon to be released book about rescue horses. Let people know that you write, blog and speak (or whatever your passions are).
Do you have a common theme that runs through most of your books? For example; “Fan of thrillers & exploring abandoned buildings.”
Also think about your followers on each the platforms and how they differ. You might want to have slightly different versions for each. I have saved different versions in a Word Folder titled “Nat’s Promo”. Labeled as short bio, 100 words, 500 words, or based on the need such as program speaker intro, freelance bio, or back matter bio for books.
Tweak your Author Bio this week on all platforms:
- Facebook Public Page
- Claim your BookBub author page
- Amazon Author Page
- Smashwords profile
- Did I leave one out?
Below is the link to a helpful blog post from BookBub,
Writing Your Author Bio? Here are 10 Great Examples.
Have a great week everybody and happy promoting!
Promoting You: Learning
One of the best ways to promote better is to keep learning about your craft. In this day and age, it seems at the point I feel comfortable with a new tool, it’s time to move on to something better and different. You don’t have to spend long hours to promote yourself, just pick one thing, simple or huge, to do every day.
Below is my to do list for this week under the topic of Learning:
- Become more proficient with Canva for creating and updating my headers for Twitter and Facebook
- Registered for a Word Alchemy workshop with Texas High Plains Writers, August 19 in Amarillo.
- Began an online class taught by a successful Indie Author to learn her social media process. It is a monthly investment in my work and my future. Here’s the information. https://masteringselfpublishing.com/
Join me every Monday for simple tips that you can do every day to better promote yourself and your work. Moving onward…
PROMOTING YOU: Amazon Author Central
Frontiers in Writing conference, hosted by an Amarillo writer’s group,
featured Debbie Macomber as the keynote speaker many years ago. If this name
is unfamiliar to you, Macomber is one of today’s most popular women’s
fiction and romance author, with more than 200 million copies of her books
in print worldwide. As a newbie writer, I was definitely star struck.
One of the best pieces advice I’ve ever heard, and something that stuck with
me, came from Macomber. She said, “Do one thing every day that will promote
you or your writing, no matter how big or small. At the end of the year
you’ll have a list of 365 things done.”
Over the next several months, I’ll be blogging about “Promoting You” with
topics ranging from big things that might take you several hours, to not so
big things taking you several minutes. In the end, it’s all good and it’s
all important to your career as an author.
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGES
If you have books listed for sell on amazon.com, right under the book title
is your name. If you hover over the name, a window should pop up with a link
to your Amazon Author Page. Every author can access this feature,
traditional or Indie.
Join at https://authorcentral.amazon.com and sign in using the Amazon
account where you publish your books. Be aware that Amazon has rules regarding multiple accounts for sellers.
Once you have set up your account, “Add a book” which can be searched by
ISBN or title. It will appear on your Author Central site within 24 hours,
usually less, has been my experience. Approval from your publisher may take
several days, if you are not self-published.
You can post or edit original content at any time, such as a picture, add
your bio, pictures of author events, videos, and link your blog with RSS
feed. Your blog posts will automatically appear within 24 hours. There is
even an events calendar.
To Do this Week:
1. Set-up your Amazon Author page at Author Central.
2. Create an Amazon Author Page URL link and let everyone know by tweeting
3. Tell us about it, too – post the link in the comment section below.
How To Market A Book: Third Edition by Joanna Penn
This well-known Indie Author and owner of wildly popular podcast, The Creative Penn, has updated her marketing book. So far, it’s a common sense and jammed packed with ideas on marketing your book. I’ll post a book review for you in a few weeks.
In the meantime, hope you’re having a great summer!
THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!
Texas High Plains Writers sponsors a youth writing contest every year. Propelled by area English teachers, kids grades 3-12 can submit their work in three categories: short story, memoir, or poetry. I judged short stories for grades 7-8, and as with every year I’ve volunteered, the entries were amazing. The depth of emotion and sophistication of the themes are mind blowing. Awarding a first place is extremely difficult, and possible only after hours of deliberation.
This past Saturday afternoon, we held the awards ceremony. The room was packed with the winners and their families. As I watched kids make their way to the front to accept their medals, I couldn’t help but feel a burst of joy.
One of the hardest things is giving a stranger your very private musings to read. One of the most rewarding things in any writer’s life is recognition. As a kid, no one explained to me that the conversations floating through my brain were normal. Strange places and people that were so vivid in my adolescent mind was not a sign of crazy. These are the things of a writer’s imagination, waiting for us to give them wings on the page.
I remember jamming my freshman college schedule with poetry, English and history courses. My father asked, “Shouldn’t you take more business courses?” In the present rise of the Indie Author, who could have predicted that my reluctant shift to business finance and marketing would serve me so well today.
Young writers are oblivious to the possibilities. We are most likely not the most popular, nor do we excel as class leaders. Often, we watched others from the sidelines, observing and hesitant to join in. Even as children, we had an uncanny eye for details, filing the information away to be used later in our stories. We have a slightly skewed view of things, which is unexplainable to non-writers. As I watched those kids on Saturday, I understood that they see the world so very differently; you know what I’m talking about.
After the awards ceremony, I wanted to tell every parent how talented their kids were, and how important it is to celebrate and encourage that writerly weirdness. Their creativity and imagination is boundless. The experience of walking to the front of a crowded room to accept a writing award will remain with them their whole lives.
I guess the main point of this blog is that one day I’ll be able to read their books. I can hardly wait!
Workshops for Writers: I love talking to kids and adults about the writing process. If you have a group who is interested in a writing workshop, please call my office 806.655.4046.