Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Writing Wednesday: It's Not About Selling Books, It's About Earning Readers

Hello everyone! I'm still in the aftershock of Christmas and had zero idea what to write about today. Fortunately for me, my amazing husband/business partner/person who actually makes most of the business decisions Travis Bach appeared with this amazing post already written. Not one to overlook a belated holiday miracle, I looked it over, added a bit, and the result is the post we have today! True, it's a bit more business than craft, but I think you'll find the Writing Wednesday attitude still applies.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and Happy New Year! May we all write many awesome books in 2016. 

Without further ado, here's Travis!

Hi Folks,

Today I'd like to talk about the difference between readership and sales. But first,

Much to my surprise, several of my posts have garnered a decent amount of attention. I'm so glad that people like the more business
and numbers side of things. I just wanted to say Thanks! While this is always a writing blog, I'm very happy to be able to help Rachel out with keeping Pretentious Title loaded with fresh info.

Rachel and I yak the publishing business to each other all the time, so its also really fun to come on the blog and talk about what we've found and learned.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. Now, let's talk about an important distinction that needs to be made,

It's Not About Selling Books, It's About Earning Readers

How authors feel about their readers ❤
What's the difference between a reader and a sale?

A reader is someone who reads your book; hopefully all the way through. A sale is someone who bought your book. The two might sound interchangeable, but there is a world of difference between them when it comes to your career..

Someone who buys your book will give you a sale, and that's good! But a reader who buys and finishes your book will hopefully review it. They will hopefully read the next book. They will hopefully go find your other books and read those too. If they really like it, they will hopefully yak at their friends obsessively about how amazing your book is and secretly slip copies of it under their door and lurk outside their window so they can watch them read.

Okay maybe not that far, but you get the idea. Depending on how you got it, a sale may never open your book. For example, if you do a giant free giveaway, the vast majority of those 'sales' won't ever read the book. Another example is promoting your book in box sets, packages, or themed promotions that don't match it. There are lots of indie writers these days hitting the NYT from being in a big selling box set, but when you look at the rest of their books, they're definitely not at NYT Best Seller levels of readership. This is because things like box promotions focus on sales, not readers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Turns out Christmas with a kid old enough to care about it takes a lot more work than other sorts of Christmases, so I'm afraid there's no post this week.

There are still books though! Including the lovely new print editions of my Heartstriker Series! I realize it's a bit late for Christmas shopping (and super too late for Hanukkah), but in just in case you're still in a scramble, ebooks make great last minute gifts. Yanno, just sayin' ^__^

Thank you as always for reading, and I'll see you all next week for a year end wrap up. Happy holidays!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Are Short Stories Worth It?

Today's topic of commonly held writing advice is a question I've been hearing tossed around writing circles since I started this crazy business. As you will soon see, I have very strong opinions on the subject.


The cats look so creepy!

I hope you like your books thick, cause damn o_o
If you've been waiting for your very own physical copy of Julius's suffering, here you go! Enjoy!!

Now, on with the post.

Writing Wednesday: Are Short Stories Worth It?

Way back in the day (2004) when I first got serious about this writing thing and started researching How to Get Published (TM) as a Fantasy writer, there was one bit of advice that kept cropping up over and over again, and that was the idea that road to being a Fantasy author starts by writing short stories and submitting them to the SFWA approved short fiction magazines. The idea behind this advice was that budding authors could practice on short stories first to "hone your skills" and "get your name out there" before moving on the lengthier and more difficult world of novel writing for their main career.

As you've probably already guessed from the quotation marks in the paragraph above, I thought this was pretty bad advice even at the time. I mean, the idea sounds good in theory--short stories, being shorter by definition, do require far less overhead and have a faster turnaround time than novels--but anyone who's tried both knows that novel writing and short story writing are completely different animals. Sure they're both genre writing, but a good short story is NOT a novel in miniature. 

The art and purpose of the short story genre is all about brevity and artistry combined with perfect execution. A true-to-form short story delivers its one big, hooky, sublime idea or character moment like an unfolding treasure box that, when it ends, feels like it was exactly as long as it needed to be. A novel, on the other hand, is all about the journey, the change and scope of characters and events over time. A short story and a novel can be related. They can occur in the same universe or even feature the same characters, but the storytelling format, expectations, and markers of quality for each are fundamentally not the same. It's the difference between a picture and a movie, delivering a monologue vs putting on a play, baking a cake vs cooking a banquet, and so forth.

This fundamental difference is the reason I roll my eyes to the point of pain every time I read or hear anyone telling hopeful novelists that they should write short stories as a warm up to novels. As though short stories are somehow easier than novels purely by virtue of being short. Friends, this is absolute bullshit. Sure, the final product may contain fewer words, but a quality short story is infinitely HARDER to pull off than a quality novel precisely because you have less to work with. It's just like how, on my new favorite show The Great British Bakeoff (SHOUT OUT!), the final, most difficult challenge is always a miniature version of whatever they made for the first round, because doing things in miniature is harder. Just as there's more room for little mistakes in measurement and technique in a full cake than a cup cake, there's a lot more room for error in 100,000 words than 10,000.

But wait, there's more! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Writing Wednesday: "He never wasted a single failure"

I got dragons to write, so this one's going to be short and sweet :)

Writing Wednesday: "He never wasted a single failure."

So as you guys might know, I'm a pretty big anime nerd, and my current show of obsession is Food Wars (aka Shokugeki no Soma)!

This show is SO GOOD, YOU GUYS!

On the surface, it appears to be just another goofy shonen school fighting anime that picked cooking and rampant nudity as its hooks to stand out in a crowded market. I actually ignored it for several months because I thought it was all gimmick, but after one episode, I realized I was epically wrong. Food Wars is amazing! Not only is it a perfectly executed fighting anime with some of the best tension I've ever seen (trust me, give this thing three episodes and you will be obsessively binge watching anime characters cook rice just like the rest of us) and awesome cooking techniques that are based in reality, the writing is really freaking good.

This is noteworthy in and of itself. I'm a pretty big anime fan, but even I can admit that story, especially on the episode level, is sometimes a weak point in the genre. This goes double for a weird series like this that has so much else going on, but so far Food Wars seems incapable of screwing up. The tension mechanics at work so perfect it hurts and the large cast is both amazingly well drawn and expertly handled so no one gets lost. These would all be (and are) fantastic reasons to watch the show, but what really knocked my socks off was the dialogue writing. Even in translation, there are several lines that made me green with envy, but my stand out favorite of the first season was

"He never wasted a single failure."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Writing Wednesdays (Special NaNoWriMo Edition!): AMA Thread Highlights #4!

Wow, what a November! I think this was my most diverse and interesting NaNo thread ever. Seriously, the questions were awesome. Here's the last set of highlights for the year, and super big thanks to everyone who participated!

I hope you enjoy!

Writing Wednesdays (Special NaNoWriMo Edition!): AMA Thread Highlights #4!

First up, we have a question from R Beckett about naive characters and "gotcha" endings.
I have a character who is a puppet master for the events of my story. He also happens to be my main character's best friend/love interest. So since I am telling the story through her eyes, there is not much hinting to his devious ways since she is blinded by her love for him to see it. Is it going to be too off putting to readers to reveal he was the bad guy the whole time? Or put into a broader question, how much of a "Gotcha!" can I get away with.  
Actually as I am writing this I realize Disney did this kind of thing in Frozen. I should watch definitely go watch that and earn another Procrastination badge today... But I would appreciate your thoughts as well. 
My answer:

You pose a very interesting question. For me, this kind of thing is all about execution. A good gotcha is something the audience should be able to see coming...if they know what to look for. This is where the execution challenge comes in. You have to balance your information reveals just right. Show too much, and the audience will see the bad guy coming from miles away, causing them to lose respect for your heroine when she doesn't pick up on the clues as quickly. Show too little, and the villain reveal will come out of nowhere, making it seem like a cheap "gotcha!" trick you pulled out of your butt rather than something you'd always had planned.