Monday, 28 March 2011

How to Fully Enjoy Popular Fiction, by Scott Meyer

I'm frantically busy, so here is a cartoon to amuse you instead of a post. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Speed bumps in the text

I usually edit each chapter with Autocrit as I finish it, but this has been a distracting year and I've missed a lot of them, so am currently putting the whole of Unofficial Girl through the Autocrit software. It's rather wearing, doing it all at once.

The main thing I need Autocrit for is my word echo problem; you'd think that as I'm aware of it I'd be able to deal with it, but I still miss some of the most obvious instances. It's brilliant for that. The other areas it focuses on are less useful, and some are counter-productive. For instance, on one occasion I used 36 adverbs instead of the 35 allowed, so EVERY adverb was in red, which is off-putting. And the software has recently changed, and become a lot pickier. I preferred its more laissez-faire version.

At this stage, I'm eliminating speed bumps in the text; anything that will trip a reader and remind him that he is reading a book. I'll be reading it aloud next. The aim is to make the prose as smooth as possible. This is something readers like, even if it's not consciously appreciated. Indeed, on YouWriteOn and Authonomy, I suspected there were those who marked down an easy read as somehow inferior to more taxing writing. They were deeply wrong.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Writing the ending

I am SO near the end of Unofficial Girl - 79,728 words and counting - and can't wait to finish and start tweaking and polishing and sending it out to beta readers.

Usually I find the end of a novel easy to write, because I don't start writing a book until I know how it will end. The last couple of chapters are the home stretch. But with Unofficial Girl, I made a last minute decision to change the end, thus making it much more challenging.

I just hope readers like it...

Sorry for this rather short post, I need to get back to the WIP.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

What's a novel worth?

THE hot topic on the writers' forums I frequent right now is the price of ebooks, and more specifically, what a self-published writer should charge.

(We all know publishers have their own dark reasons for charging more than the price of a paperback, in spite of the negligible or zero costs of producing, storing, and distributing an ebook, and I'm not getting into that topic here.)

Here's a summary of the main arguments for a higher price, and my thoughts in italics:
  • I value my work, and I demonstrate that in the price I charge for it. This book took me a year to write and is worth a sensible amount. What matters is not the author's perception of value, but the purchaser's, and it's an act of faith to buy and spend hours of your time on a novel by an author you've never heard of.

  • Self-publishers who price their books low are doing a disservice to other indies by engendering an expectation of low prices. Welcome to the free market. In business, you price to sell your product, not to win friends; I am responsible for no one's sales except my own.

  • If you price your book on Amazon at less than £1.49, thus earning 35% rather than 70% royalty, you will need to sell six times the number of books to break even. With a popular book, you will do this and much, much more. See JA Konrath and Victorine Lieske. And, in a more modest way, me.
The whole publishing industry is in a fascinating state of upheaval right now. Pricing is just a part of that turmoil. One can only speculate on what the industry will be like in five years' time, and the prices that ebooks will command. There'll be one constant, though. Readers will still buy books they like, and it will still be impossible to predict which books have that magic quality.