The kids are going back to school and that means that I can get back to a working schedule that I can be happy with. Make no mistake, I adore my children, but as an introvert with a sometimes pathological work ethic, being surrounded by chatty kids and prevented from working can be a bit crazy-making.Read More
Recently on a self-publishing forum that I frequent, a much more successful indie author than I asked the forum if we had seen our Nook sales dry up. I was one of the few people who answered "No". In fact, I have had a couple of months in the latter half of 2012 where Nook sales were all I had. This prompted me to look a little closer at the difference between my Nook and Kindle sales and what some of the differences were. First, let's review the ebooks that I have and the differences between them (in case you haven't read them yet). I'll try not to give any spoilers.
With that said, it's interesting to note that 84% of my Kindle sales are of The White House. This isn't completely surprising in since The White House was released four months before A Fond Kiss. However, 100% of my Nook sales are for A Fond Kiss. That's right, I have not sold a single copy of The White House on the Nook. Which is a shame, because it's a really good story (not that I'm biased or anything;)
This is what leads me to ask the question at the top of this post. Are Nook readers hopeless romantics? It's pretty clear that my based-in-fact love story appeals to them far more than pirates, even famous ones. Is it because A Fond Kiss is a love story, or because it's based on a true story? This of course has me wondering what's different about Nook readers vs. Kindle readers.
After a little frustrated searching online the only information that I found about the demographic differences between Kindle and Nook readers is a couple of years old. Since the e-reader market has exploded in the last couple of years, I'm not sure how accurate that information is. This article from ireaderreview.com shows that Kindle users tend to be older than Nook users and credits the Nook color/tablet with attracting a younger audience. It also suggests that the older audience prefers the Kindle because it's lighter and therefore easier on arthritic hands (A dubious conclusion). Given that this data is from 2010, before the Kindle Fire was released and was from a self-selected survey, the data isn't exactly that scientific. In fact, based on my experiences both as a reader and author, I found the idea that the Nook appeals to a YOUNGER audience surprising.
Here is another article from the Florida Research Group that compares the demographics of all e-reader users, but again it's two years old. There is no end to the number of articles comparing the devices themselves, and they're great for consumers shopping for a device, but there really seems to be a limited amount of market research done for authors looking to maximize their sales on either one. If I were about to publish a romance novel and was trying to decide whether or not to opt in to KDP Select with its exclusivity requirement, I might like to know a breakdown on Romance genre sales on Nook vs. Kindle. Otherwise, I might lose sales from other platforms that have a large number of readers in my genre. For independent authors running their own show when it comes to marketing, this kind of information would be very helpful in targeting that marketing rather than the current throw everything against the social media wall and hope something sticks strategy or the increasing popular mimic the best-sellers (50 Shades of Fill-in-the-blank) and ride the wave of whatever's popular strategy.
Maybe this is something that KDP, Pubit and Smashwords can offer as a value add to their authors. Maybe it could be another revenue stream for them. I can imagine that I'm not the only author who would pay a REASONABLE fee for a timely demographic analysis of e-reader users or even monthly newsletter that goes beyond just the bestseller lists and looks at who is buying. I would think that this is all data that these e-publishing platforms have, it would just be a matter of putting it together in a form that people can read.
Admittedly, I'm new at this and I've been eyes deep in editing lately, but this doesn't seem too much to ask. Maybe this is out there already. If it is, please point me in the right direction. I'm sure it's a product of my corporate sales background, but I can get kinda nerdy about this stuff, and as the saying goes, Knowledge is Power.
It's been a while since I've updated the blog. This is mainly because I was pushing hard to have the book ready for beta readers by Christmas. Unfortunately, the flu got in my way by running through the family not once, but twice since I finished writing the book. When you throw in holiday preparations and a rather slow Alpha reader, you have a recipe for disaster. So I missed my deadline (GASP!). I know, it was a self-imposed deadline and I was sick in bed or bowing down to the porcelain god, but still I have an innate aversion (or dare I say horror) to missing deadlines. I mean the "dead" in deadline is there for a reason, right? On the upside, much of the time I spent in bed sick was spent thinking about my characters and the feedback that my Alpha reader, my husband, gave me and mentally plotting out the next book in the series. I also spent plenty of time thinking about my next move. Namely the question facing a lot of authors today; Do I zip this out to market via KDP and CreateSpace or do I attempt to sign with an agent and get a wider distribution and maybe a little marketing help (and yes I know that help would be very little)? On the one hand, publishers are loath to take a chance on a new author with a series, and they would take a bigger chunk of the pie so to speak. On the other hand, it takes a lot of work to get noticed out there in the big bad reading world and my little historical fiction shorts while getting terrific reviews, aren't exactly selling like hotcakes. So, while my piece of the indie pie might be bigger, the pie itself (at least so far) is barely even snack size. What's a girl to do? I'm going to sit on it. That is to say, I'm going to hold off publishing this book until I have something more. Here's the plan:
1) I'm outlining the rest of the series, or at least the rest of the series involving the main characters as they stand now. This will give me a clear picture of where it's going and it will enable me to write a synopsis of each book.
2)Using the bird's eye view of the series from Step 1, write a pitch for the whole series with which to query agents. I believe that this series could be very commercial. I also believe it will fit nicely into the newly minted "New Adult" category that seemsso popular right now. It has enough of contemporary fantasy aspects to appeal to a young audience, but the characters and subject matter are definitely more mature than Young Adult. Imagine a Twilight style love triangle (no vampires or werewolves, I promise) with DaVinci Code style themes and you're coming pretty close.
3)Query, query query while working on my platform and trying to build an audience. That will likely include a trailer or two that I already have worked out in my head. Luckily I know a good filmmaker, my brother, who I might get to help me with that.
4) Write, write, write the second book. Hopefully, this one won't take more than a decade to write. But the writing/editing of it will most likely determine the timeline of the rest of the plan. I'll keep querying until I get a bite or finish the second book. If no agents or publishers have bitten (I really promise there are no vampires in this series.), then I will likely publish them myself in close succession. That way I can hopefully whet the reader's appetites with the first two books enough to get them to buy a third and fourth, fifth, and who knows by then I might even plan a series for the next generation of characters.
At least that's my plan, and it feels pretty darn good to start off the new year with a plan.
And here's the pitch:
Raised by her Scottish Grandmother in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sarah MacAlpin grew up with one foot in the old world and one foot in the new world. She's worked hard to get to where she is and at 25 she's got her life planned out, that is until she meets Dermot Sinclair.
Plagued by nightmares of a tragic past and murky visions of the future Sarah pushes on toward finishing her dissertation. In spite of her hard work and planning the world around her seems to be spinning out of control. Her relationships with her boyfriend and her best friend are falling apart and the new guy in town seems to be dogging her every step. He's friendly enough and can help with her research, but she can't help thinking there's something that he isn't telling her.
If you're interested in reading further. There is a large chunk of the book available to read on Authonomy. If you read it there, please leave feedback. It will only help me. If you're interested in being a beta reader (kind of like a beta tester for software) and getting to read the whole thing once the edits are done (naturally in exchange for your feedback), please let me know in the comments here or through my Facebook page.
Thanks as always.
I hope you all will have as exciting a new year as I expect to.
Feel free to imagine me giving you the stink-eye over the top of my Miss Crabtree spectacles when I say this. We've got to do a better job of proofreading books. I know it's hard, and I'll admit that the first edition of The White House despite my best efforts was published with a handful of errors that have since been corrected. I just have to get this off my chest. Because I love indie books and what indie publishing is doing to the industry, I feel like this must be said.
If we want to be taken seriously as authors/publishers, our stuff has to be as close to perfect as we can make it. I hear on many reader discussions and boards that people don't like to read indie books because of grammatical and formatting errors. Naturally this is followed by a comment left my some well meaning indie author who says some thing like, "Well, traditional publishers miss typos and errors too." And that's sadly true. But is the lowest common denominator really the measuring stick that you want to use?
My 7 year old son with ADHD frequently follows tales of how he got called out by the teacher for some infraction by telling me of the troubles of another student in his class with worse behavior issues. My response to this is to point out the worst behaved kid in the class should not be setting the standard for good behavior. "Well, they're just as bad." or "They did it worse." are not the statements of people seeking excellence. If we as independents want our books to be considered on par with traditionally published books, we cannot stop at good enough.
With that said, I'd like to point out some common mistakes that I have seen in many of the indie books that I have read lately. None of these would be caught by a spelling or grammar check.
- Mixed Up Homophones - Anyone who has talked to anyone on the internet is familiar with people mixing your and you're or there, their and they're and I'll admit I have to hold onto my desk to keep from correcting people constantly. But more disturbing lately are mix ups like past and passed. For the record passed is a verb. Past is an adjective and sometimes a noun. Too often lately, I have seen sentences like this, "The people on the street walked right passed the victim bleeding onto the sidewalk." That would be the wrong usage for the verb, passed. Here is a correct example, "I burned my fingers on the hot dish when Aunt Martha passed me the peas." This is just one of the examples of surprisingly mixed up homophones that I have seen in indie books of late.
- The Extra Word - This is an error that seems to occur a lot when the word flow from brain to fingers gets muddled, or when a writer goes back to make a change to a sentence, but doesn't completely delete the original words. Here's an example. "He heard the shallow wheeze of her breath and some small part of him tried to believe how that she would make it back to port." It's easy to see how this can happen, but is very jarring to the reader's ear. This can take a reader right out of your story and destroy the flow of your prose.
- Spell-check Escapees - These are misspellings that are actually words and therefore not caught by spell-check. Naturally these words just come off as wrong and the story teller loses credibility. For example: "He’d never been so chose to death before." Chose is a word and would not be detected by a spell checker, but it doesn't make sense in the context of the sentence. The actual sentence should read. "He’d never been so close to death before." which makes for an evocative sentence. The meaning and emotional punch of the sentence is completely lost with the incorrect word there. Spell-check is clearly not a reliable proofreader.
Now, I'm sure you're probably cursing me for a self-righteous busybody at the moment, but have patience. I have some suggestions.
Indies that we are, most of us (me included) don't have big budgets with which to hire editors. I'm currently publishing short stories while working on a novel, so I'm not going to shell out the cash for an editor for projects that small. However, there are a few tricks we can use to make those little errors standout for correction before you publish.
- Read It Out Loud - I'm sure you've probably heard this suggestion regarding the flow of your prose. If you've tried it for that purpose, I'm betting that while you were reading you came across some errors. Reading your manuscript out loud is one of the greatest tools a writer has. It can call attention to awkward phrasing, clunky dialog (more on that in another post), typos, and grammatical errors. I really can't say enough good things about it.
- Print It Out- Often a change of scene helps to call attention to things that we might not have noticed. It is hard sometimes to see these errors on our computer/laptop/iPad screens when we're typing or rereading what we've written. Printing it out calls more attention to some of those errors. I try to be a pretty green-living girl and I know toner is expensive, but this really is a great way to review your manuscript for errors. They just seem to pop out more on paper than they do on the screen. If you print it out and then read out loud from the printed manuscript you can kill two birds with one stone.
- Other Eyes - No matter how many times you go back and read your manuscript the reality is, those words came from your head. Because of that you are predisposed to mentally fill in any gaps that might occur. You might not be the best person to proofread your manuscript. The reader can't read your mind, so the words on the page/screen have to be clear. Chances are if you're writing a book, you probably have some friends who like to read. Get one or two or five of them to take a look at your manuscript. They will most likely pick out some things that you missed.
In my previous life as a corporate trainer, I saw quite a few resumes. It may sound cruel especially in this job market, but when faced with a stack of resumes, I would first filter out the ones with grammatical errors. My thinking was that if someone is putting this document out there to speak for them and they didn't take the time to proofread it, then they don't have the attention to detail that's required for the job (or frankly any job). I don't see our books as any different. They may not create the reader's first impression of you, but they will create a lasting impression. So, indie writers, what is the impression that you want to make?
In closing, I would like to return to the issue of homophones. Rather than prattle on about how annoying I find this, I'll leave it to Brian McKnight and a puppet.