Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Character = Plot = Character

One of my favorite professional development sites is a blog by
K.M. Weiland
called Helping Writers Become Authors

A couple of years ago, she did a 15-session series of weekly blogpost about character arcs and story structure that is amazing!!!

If you don't like to read blogs, NO PROBLEM. She podcasts most of her blog posts and embeds them in the post so you can just click and listen. In this series it begins on Part 2--you'll have to read part 1.

Here's a link to the first post in this series:

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 1: Can You Structure Characters?

The best part of the lessons are the questions she puts in each segment that you can add to your story bible (or use to create one) to deepen your characters and story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Getting New Covers

When we first release a book, we design a cover we think will sell and we send the book out into the world. Over time, though, we might find that the cover isn't as eye-catching as we wanted, or we've found something we like better.

Are we stuck with the former cover? No!

There's absolutely nothing wrong with changing out covers that don't work. In fact, that's one of the first things to look at if a book isn't selling.

Let me tell you a little story.

Back when I first started Trifecta, we released a book called The Princess and the Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist. The cover concept was pretty straightforward - it's about two girls in two different eras of time, so we did a split cover with one girl on one side and one on the other, as you can see here:

This is actually the second version - the first version had simpler font for the title.

This story is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and the author began getting fan mail asking for a sequel. She decided she wanted to use the evil sorceress more in the second book, and found a fantastic evil sorceress picture. This is how that cover came out:

Now, you can see how awesome this sorceress picture is - there's no way we could have passed that up - but now there was the problem that the two books don't match. Not a problem at all, actually! We'd been talking for a while about redoing the first cover to increase sales, and some study of the market had shown us that gorgeous dresses are selling really well right now, so with some bibbety-bobbity-boo (sorry - wrong fairy tale), we created this:


All I have to do in order to change the cover is upload it to Kindle and CreateSpace. I don't have to get a new ISBN or anything because it's the same book - just in a different package.

So if you'd like to give an older book cover a little boost, feel free to experiment and see what you come up with. You're not obligated to keep the same cover forever if you'd like a change.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Writers' Retreat in Hawaii 2018

iWriteNetwork is planning our first WOW retreat.

5 wonderful days of adventure that are sure to spike your creativity and drive your imagination wild.

Save the date now and start saving your pennies.  There is very limited availability and it is first come first served.

Plan on spending about $1500 buckeroos. We estimate that you will spend about $800 on the flight, but if you watch prices, you can get that cost down. (You will book your own flight.) We will secure accommodations. It looks like it will cost somewhere between $500 and $700 for the five nights. We will be providing breakfast, but you will be in charge of your own meals beyond that. Don't forget to budget for activities and souvenirs.

We can't wait to share this special WOW retreat with you. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, give us a shout out.

I can almost feel that beautiful warm sand between my toes right now. What about you?



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Building an Author Mailing List

One of the tough things about being an author is also being a salesman. For most of us, marketing is like some alien concept. How do you find the readers who'd like what you write in the ever-changing world of publishing?
Source - Abhl Sharma

Some people pay big bucks to email lists like BookBub. But it can still be a hit-or-miss proposition. Are those people really the ones who would love what you write?

One way to target "your specific" readers is to start an email list. It's kind of like building your own personal BookBub-type list. These are frequently people who have read one of your books and would love to read more.

These not only provide you with a way to interact specifically with your readers, but to develop lists for a Street Team or an Advance Reader group.

Following are some resources to consider:


Have you used any of these? If so what were your experiences? Do you have other systems to consider?





Wednesday, June 22, 2016

5 Ways to Break Writer's Block

Don't you just hate it when you are finally able to sit down and work and all your words come out BLAH? Or worse yet, don't come at all? Even if you've never had to overcome writer's block before, or have been around this block before, here are 5 tips to work past it and start getting your word count back up.


1--Make a Mind Map 
This will help channel your thoughts and get you focused. Write the topics you need to hit in the upcoming chapter, or list the emotions you need the reader to feel as they read. Focusing the mind to the task at hand is sometimes all you need. 

2-- Take a Break
This might sound counter-productive to writing but, take a walk, fold the towels or pull some weeds. Anything that will relax your brain will do. Giving your brain a break will help you be more focused and creative later.
  
3-- Change up your locale
You don't have to move or even go on vacation to benefit from this one, though the vacation wouldn't hurt. ;) Try a new cafe to write in, visit a museum, or park. Changing your view can change your thought process. And often cuts out familiar distractions as well. 

4-- Write without Boundaries
Give yourself 15-20 minutes to just write. About yourself, an emotion, a place etc... You can even find writing prompts on google or pinterest. Sometimes just writing something turns into being able to write the scene or chapter that you were previously stuck on. Once you have your juices flowing move back to your manuscript. If words still aren't coming, try the exercise again. 

5--Music
There's a reason that the movie industry has music scored for a film, it helps the audience connect with the story and the characters. Music can bring an emotion to the forefront in a given scene. That same effect can be utilized in setting the mood to write. 


What tricks do you use to get writing when the words just don't come?
Share with us in the comments below.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Business Side of Books

The economics of authoring is not always great the first year of publication, but improves over time. Three measures of business success are shown below with book examples.

1. Return on Investment
A profitability measure of a business that evaluates the performance by dividing net profit by cost. ROI, is the most common profitability ratio.
Revenue - Cost / Cost = ROI

For example, lets look at a paperback book over two years that cost $1200 to produce:
Revenue for year 1 $115 - $1200 / 1200 = -90% ROI
                        Negative 90% return looks like a terrible ROI
Revenue for year 1 & 2 $6217 – 1200 / 1200 = 418% ROI
                        Positive 418% is a great ROI

2. Breakeven point
The breakeven point is the sales volume at which a book earns exactly no money. The formula is: Revenue - cost  = 0; and you find it by dividing your costs by the profit per sale.

This can be useful to determine the time needed to recover your initial investment. For example, let’s say an ebook costs $700 in editing fees, $75 for the cover, $75 for formatting. If the book’s sales price is $3.99 and you earn a 70% profit, you will get $2.793 for every book that sells. To figure the breakeven point we would add up the costs, $850 and divide by the royalties. In this example it is at 304 books being sold.

3. Opportunity Cost
The “opportunity cost” of producing a book, means the value that the author will give up of the next-highest-valued alternative to what is being chosen to do. 

This one is hard to quantify for authors. It takes us months/years to write a story. We may give up going to movies, spending time with family members, and other worthwhile pursuits.

Opportunity cost asks the business owner to examine what they are giving up to get profit and ask, is it worth it? This is the part of author economics that asks you to prioritize your values. It’s different for everyone and may change for any one person at any time.

For us, we knew we needed a 5-year business plan before we would see a solid return on our investment of time. So we chose the time we wrote carefully to allow us to spend time on things we wouldn't be able to recover, like family time and work. So our writing time was when the kids were in bed or at school. 

Now, we receive profit without much expended time or expense. Opportunity cost greatly decreases as the longevity of the sales extends.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Being a Writer Can Be a Pain ... Literally

When we talk about writing, we talk about the agony of getting bad reviews or not finding a new publisher or figuring out that crucial scene. What is every bit as real as the physical agony we sometimes go through ... I'm talking about literal pain. Our hands, our bums, our backs . . . spending so much time at a computer isn't easy.

I've been in a couple of car accidents that make writing even trickier because of the various injuries I sustained, so I feel a bit qualified to speak on this subject. Let me share with you some of the things I do to cope with the physical stresses of being a writer in the hopes that they'll help you.

1. Finding the best way to sit. For quite a while, I used a yoga ball chair. This took a lot of pressure off the various different hurty spots in my back. This was a fantastic option for me until the car accident of 2010, which did a lot of damage to my stomach muscles and makes it hard for me to sit up straight for long periods of time. Now I do my writing on a laptop in a recliner which fits my body well.

2. Moving around enough.  When I'm in the groove, I can forget everything around me and stay in one spot until I'm so stiff, it's hard to move at all. But when I'm a good girl and remember to stand up and walk around for a few minutes every so often, it keeps that stiffness worked out.

3. Nourishing my hands and wrists. If you've hung around me longer than five minutes, you've heard me talk about flax seed oil. This stuff is what keeps me going. Take a minute to read this blog - you've got nothing to lose for trying it.

4. Taking care of myself structurally.  I've seen a chiropractor regularly for years, but I've recently added a monthly massage, and it's made all the difference. My massage therapist works out of my chiropractor's office and is fully trained, and she has done wonders for my arms, neck, and shoulders, which is where I keep my stress. And I have to tell you, if you've never had a hand massage, you don't know what heaven is. If you write a lot, getting this kind of care is an excellent investment.

Everyone's different, and everyone's bodies will have different strengths and weaknesses. Maybe something I've shared here will help you narrow down what might be the most useful to you. Take care of yourself so you can continue to write for many years to come!