One of my "beta readers" for the Lesson One: Revolution! sequel (Extra Credit: Loyalty!) brought to my attention something that I should know to improve the story. (Warning: Very minor spoiler ahead.) Unlike an issue of word choice or punctuation (which were also detected), this is something about real life that would be helpful to know for many people, writers and non-writers alike. In the sequel, Dan sustains a serious injury and wants something to help deal with the pain. He has access to some first aid supplies that were in storage, and he opts to take some ibuprofen rather than a much stronger prescription drug because the latter is past its expiration date. That was written from my consumer-level "understanding" of medicine, and it turns out to not be the right choice. I'll fix the story, but read on to see what the right choice would be, and how what I learned from my beta reader could be helpful to you, and to your bank account.
Is it a major quake that will create a tsunami of change in the e-book market? Or is it a squib that is heard by the closest neighbors but which the rest of the world doesn't notice? Earlier this week, Barnes & Noble announced, as part of a corporate fiscal report, that the company's "Board of Directors authorized management to separate the Barnes & Noble Retail and NOOK Media businesses." In other words, the NOOK platform will become a separate business, spun off from the larger company. The change in the NOOK platform could be just what it needs to finally be a strong competitor to the Kindle platform. Or, it could be just a meaningless move in the platform's slow march toward following the Sony reader into the dim history of also-rans. It depends on how they manage the change. And when I say "manage the change" I mean break away from the plodding and ineffective "marketing" shown by Barnes & Noble today.
If you're keeping track, you'll notice this blog post is a couple days late. Considering the lack of outcry, I don't think anybody is paying attention that closely. However, I intend to keep up my weekly blog posting, and I did not want to miss my Friday post deadline. It happened, however, because I've been busy. Oh, sure, everyone is busy these days. I'm usually always busy. But this time I was extra busy. With what, you might ask? Well, helping another author prepare her novel for publishing, for one thing. But since this is my "writing news" blog, I'm happy to announce some news! Another thing that has kept me busy is a new novel: Extra Credit: Loyalty! As you might guess or already know, it is the sequel to Lesson One: Revolution! Although the sequel is not yet ready to be published, I've reached some important milestones recently, but only by staying busy and, unfortunately, letting a few things slide.
This week I decided to try a new approach to marketing Lesson One: Revolution!, for which I just reduced the price for the e-book edition. I've been intrigued by discussions on KBoards.com about using offers on Fiverr to promote books, so I decided to try my first paid advertising for book promotion. After I finally got funds into my Dwolla account, I ordered my first "Gig" (a unit of work on Fiverr). At the current book price and royalty rate, I only needed to sell a few copies to fully cover the Gig cost. The person offering the Gig indicated the promotion would be visible to 4000 people, so I had some vague hopes that I could get those few sales needed to break even. One nifty result was making my first sale of that novel on the NOOK platform, which has always performed vastly lower than the Kindle for my books overall. But did I break even and get a positive ROI? It's a bit of a trick question, as I'll explain below.
“On account of dragons, yes dragons, I must say that it is almost unfortunate that the beastly creatures have to stay hidden in the mountains.” That sentence was how I began my very first novel, as a teenager, somewhere around the late 1970s or early 1980s. While the book itself is nowhere near worthy of being published, that first line serves as a suitable introduction to this blog post. Among writers, a common point of discussion is how different people approach structuring their novels. Often when November rolls around, those participating in NaNoWriMo will identify with one of two groups, the “planners” and the “pantsers.” (The latter term is in reference to writing “by the seat of their pants,” i.e., without advance planning.) In this blog post I’ll explain how I started, how my approach has evolved over time, and what my approach is these days.