Kindle Short Stories: Price and Length for Erotica?

Kindle Short Stories: Price and Length for Erotica?

Hmmm… this post’s title sounds kinky, but never mind. :-) Kindle Romance students were asking about pricing erotica, and length for erotica, because you can charge more for fewer words in that genre. So let’s look at pricing your Kindle short stories, if you’re writing erotica, or erotic romance.

A little tip about publishing erotica. You may be aware that last year many of the ebook retailers, including Amazon, took a big stick to erotica because some writers were pushing the envelope way too far. This kerfuffle was bigger than the PayPal erotica fiasco of the year before. So when you’re publishing your short stories, be careful with ecovers, titles and descriptions.

How Much Can You Charge for Short Stories in Erotica?

The consensus among writers (for now), seems to be that 99 cents is a rubbish price. Readers hate it, probably because so many got burned when everyone jumped on the 99 cent price point a couple of years ago. So for short material, charge $1.99 at a minimum.

Check to see what other writers are charging. Here’s Amazon’s Top 100 Erotica, paid and free. Look on the left hand sidebar, for the sub-genres of erotica. Do some searches yourself for “short story erotica”, and see what comes up, and how much authors are charging.

How Long Should Short Stories Be?

You can get away with VERY short stories in erotica. Most authors feel that if your stories are very short, Amazon and/ or readers can quibble. I’ve seen lots of short stories at 11 pages, which is around 2,500 words. My suggestion: stay over 3,000 words if you can, and you’ll be fine.

Some word counts for reference:

  • Short stories: under 10,000 words;
  • Novellas: up to 40,000 words;
  • Novels: over 40,000 words.

OK, have fun writing Kindle erotica. Join us on our Kindle Romances writing class.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Kindle Publishing: Serialized Fiction Strategies

Kindle Publishing: Serialized Fiction Strategies

Publish in parts…

The biggest benefit of Kindle publishing is that it’s publishing YOUR way. Within limits, you can do anything you like. Case in point: serialized fiction, which has become a hot new trend among self-publishers. As a promotional strategy, it’s a clever way of boosting sales.

If you’re not familiar with it, you’re wondering how serial publication works. Basically, instead of publishing a full-length novel, you chop it up and publish it serially. Each “episode” of the serial needs to be a decent length – around 10,000 to 15,000 words. You publish each ebook of the series, then publish the novel as whole.

So, let’s say you’ve got a story you’ll be publishing as a serial. The total word count will be 90,000 words. You publish six 15,000 word parts. Then compile them into a complete novel, and you’ve now got seven ebooks selling on Amazon, rather than one.

Tip: ensure that readers know that their ebook is part of a serial, so use the same cover image, just changing the text on the cover to let readers know which part is which.

Students of our Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances class asked whether serial publication only works for romances. No – I’ve seen horror, fantasy and mysteries published as serials.

Here are the benefits of serialized fiction:

  • You’re publishing regularly, so you appear on Amazon’s “Recently Published” lists, which means more exposure to readers;
  • You’re gaining more exposure as your catalogue on Amazon grows. Readers who like your serial, will buy further episodes, or the complete version;
  • You’re getting feedback, so you’re motivated to keep producing.

Let’s look at some strategies.

1. Decide on a Publication Schedule.

Look on serial publication as a strategy to promote your ebooks – to get readers. So, price each part of the serial low, at around 99 cents. After you’ve published several parts, make the first part of your serial permanently free. Price the final compilation – the full-length novel – at $2.99 or $3.99. Keep it consistent with what other authors are charging in the genre.

Decide on a publishing schedule. Will you publish a part a week? Every two weeks? Try not to leave too much time between parts, otherwise readers who’ve purchased an episode will get annoyed if they have to wait.

This means that if you’re not totally confident of completing each part on schedule, you need to have a few parts up your sleeve, so to speak, before you publish episode one.

2. Write Ahead: Don’t Get Stuck!

You can get stuck with any novel. You paint yourself into a corner. Then you realize that to get yourself out of the corner elegantly, something has to happen way back in Chapter Two of the setup. If you’re publishing as normal, you can go back now, or later in revision, and add whatever it is.

If you’re publishing a serial, you can’t do that. To be safe, make sure that you’ve got three or four episodes ready to go, before you publish the first one.

Ideally, have all the parts written before you publish the first one.

3. Each Episode Needs to Give Value: Create a Plot Arc, With Climax (Cliffhanger.)

Your challenge with serial fiction is to make each episode in the story satisfying. Yes, you want readers to read the whole thing. However, each episode has to deliver entertainment and value. So each episode has a throughline, with a setup, action, and climax. (If you’re uncertain on plotting, check out Plot Fast, Publish FAST.)

Can you write serialized fiction? It’s popular among many authors, and readers like it too. Try these strategies; they’ll help you in your Kindle publishing adventure.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

3 Fiction Tips: Write Stories Readers LOVE

3 Fiction Tips: Write Stories Readers LOVE

Want to write stories readers LOVE? If you do, you need to make your stories satisfying. Consider your favorite story. Why do you love it, and read it again and again? I’m a huge P.G. Wodehouse fan. I read his books for the humor, and for the characters. Lord Emsworth and his pig, the Empress of Blandings, totally charm me, as does Bertie Wooster, wastrel that he is.

When we think about the stories we love, we remember the characters. We love our favorite novels because our favorite characters overcome challenges. They have goals and motivation. Trouble and conflict prevent them getting what they want. Readers want to see your characters achieve their goals. As your characters struggle, you’ll write stories your readers love.

Let’s look at some fiction writing tips to help.

1. Who’s Your Main Character, and What Does He (or She) Want?

I’ve been reading stories written by students in our Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances. The biggest challenge is making your character WANT something enough. It’s not enough for your heroine to lust after the hero. She has to want something so badly that she’ll do whatever is necessary to get what she wants.

The stronger you can make your characters’ desires, the stronger your story will be. Readers love to see characters struggle, and truly deserve their happy ending. In Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novel, Cry No More for example, the main character Milla Boone’s been searching for her stolen son for ten years. Milla is desperate to find her son, and her willingness to do anything drives the plot.

Try This: Interview Your Main Character.

Before you plot your novel or short story, interview your characters – or at least, your main character. ASK your character what he/ she wants, and why. I hand-write my interviews, and I’m always surprised.

When you know who your characters are, what they want, and why, writing a hot-selling story becomes easy.

2. Your Plot Is Your Character’s Journey to Get What He Wants.

There are various plotting systems. I describe a system which just works in Plot FAST – it works for me, and for my students.

However, your plot doesn’t exist in isolation. In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury says:

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

What your characters DO is the plot. Your challenge is to motivate your characters, so that they ACT. They have no choice; they must act. If your characters don’t come alive for you, look to their motivation. They’re not acting because they don’t want something enough.

3. Everyone Wants Something, and Everyone Has a Secret.

Before you start writing, make a chart of what everyone wants. In a short story, you may only have three characters. In a novel, you’ll have many more than that, but be careful not to introduce characters just for the heck of it. You need to motivate each and every character. On your chart, create a column for Goals, and another column for Secrets. In every story you write, every character has a goal (want, desire, need), and a secret.

We discussed writing in series in our “plotting” week on the Fab Freelance Writing Blog. If you want to sell more ebooks, write in series.

You’ll find your story “wants and secrets” charts immensely useful, because when you work out what a minor character wants, you’ll often see that the character deserves his own story.

So, in summary – to write stories readers love, your characters need to want something desperately. Their actions to get their “want” drive the plot.

For more on plotting, explore Plot FAST to create characters who drive your plot.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

2 Essential Fiction Writing Tips for Great Story Beginnings

2 Essential Fiction Writing Tips for Great Story Beginnings

You’re writing fiction. You know that if your readers don’t read past the first couple of pages, they won’t buy your story. They certainly won’t join your mailing list or buy your next story.

So, you need to put some thought into your story beginnings. You need to start strong. In a sense, your story’s ending is in the beginning, so in addition to starting strong, you also need to know how your story will end up. (By “story” I mean novel, short story, novella – any piece of fiction.)

If you’re familiar with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat story plotting method, you’ll start your story with the Opening Image, the first “beat” in your story. Snyder’s final beat is the Final Image, which relates to the Opening Image.

A tip: in your first draft, don’t worry about your story’s beginnings. Too many writers spend days on a “great” beginning. Usually this wonderful beginning doesn’t get used because the story changes as you write it. Work on your beginning in your second draft.

Before we get to our fiction writing tips for beginnings, let’s look at some great first words, which keep readers reading. I’ve chosen these three stories because they’re romances I’ve recently read, there’s no deeper meaning than that to my choices.

The first is from Her Teddy Bear: Complete Collection, an erotic romance collection of novellas by Mimi Strong:

‘When my sister Nikki first told me about the blind date, I said to her, “If he’s so freakin’ fantastic, why don’t YOU go out with him?”’

Next, All Jacked Up, an erotic romance novel by Lorelei James, from her Rough Riders series:

‘Keely McKay’s lucky cowgirl boots kicked up clouds of dust as she paced across the wooden plank floor.’

And finally, from Mr. Perfect, by Linda Howard. This romantic suspense novel has a prologue, which clues us in to what happens later in the book. Much later. The book’s actual beginning, Chapter 1, Scene 1 starts with these words:

‘Jaine Bright woke in a bad mood.

Her neighbor, the blight of the neighborhood, had just roared home at 3 A.M.’

Would those three story beginnings keep you reading, if you were looking for a romance story? In just a few words, the authors have given readers not only a sense of the primary character, they’ve also established a conflict. Character and conflict are the two essentials you need to include in the beginnings of your stories.

1. Start With Your Primary Character: an Original (Real) Person.

Victorian novelists could get away with waffling about the countryside and the weather in their story beginnings. We can’t. Readers expect to meet an intriguing character, to whom they can relate, as soon as possible after your story starts.

In our examples above, the authors introduce the viewpoint character immediately, so that readers can start getting to know the character. We’re in no doubt that the three heroines we meet are strong women. Each has a singular character: she’s not a generic woman. She’s an original.

2. Conflict: Start With a Bang, or at Least a Thump.

Would you be inclined to keep reading if the above three authors had started their stories by simply describing these women? You might. On the other hand, you might be inclined to think… Meh, who cares? And click away, looking for a story which offered a little more. That “little more” is conflict.

Not only do readers want to meet an original character in your story beginnings, they also want something which inspires emotion. They want to feel. Your original character has a problem, which inspires emotion. There’s no need to start your story with a bang – a big conflict. Introducing a big conflict before we get to know a character is a mistake. We don’t care enough about the character yet to be worried if she’s fired from her job, held up at gunpoint, or discovers her husband’s corpse in the garage.

So there you have it. Two essential fiction writing tips for great story beginnings. Happy writing. :-)

Need more? You’ll learn more about great story beginnings in Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances.

Buy this on Selz Start selling on Selz

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Plot Your Novel: 3 Tips for Sizzling Subplots

Plot Your Novel: 3 Tips for Sizzling Subplots

Love writing fiction? Me too. I started my writing career as a romance novelist. For many years, writing fiction wasn’t profitable. Now it is. So if you’re a professional writer, it pays to write fiction. Our Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances class recently launched, and our most popular questions relate to how to plot your novel, and subplots.

Subplots are easy. All you need to remember is that a subplot isn’t just an unconnected story dumped into your book to bulk it up; it’s a way of adding richness to your story. A subplot always relates directly to your main story in some way.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a mystery novel. Your sleuth is a female detective. Your story starts with the discovery of a body. The subplot concerns your sleuth’s relationship with her husband. She worries that he’s cheating on her. The subplot not only adds complications to the main story (the sleuth is distracted), it also builds her characterization.

Let’s look at three tips for subplots.

1. Plot Your Main Story First – What Does Your Story Need?

We’ve talked about plotting. Plot your novel first. Now look at what your plot needs for contrast to the main story. Shakespeare created comic characters for contrast in his tragedies, so if your main story is grim, you might create a subplot which adds a little humor.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a romance novel. It’s a “second chance at love” story. Your heroine’s sworn off men. Her marriage was a disaster. Her ex left her emotionally and financially wrecked. She’s just lost her job. The last thing she’s thinking about is romance. But she’s met a man who excites her. However, he has problems too. He’s dealing with a clinging, neurotic ex, and has as teenage daughter, who resents our heroine.

You’re worried that you’ll end up with a very grim story, so you bring in a humorous subplot. Your heroine’s sidekick dates prolifically, and all her dates are horror stories. In your subplot, the sidekick meets a man who wants more than one date, and she finally falls in love.

If you’re a pantser you won’t have a plot before you start writing; your subplot will emerge naturally as you write.

2. Resolve Your Subplot Before Your Novel’s Climax.

Subplots can be challenging – sometimes your subplot threatens to take over your plot. Rein it in. Just as with your primary plot, a subplot has a setup, rising action, a climax, and a swift ending. Make sure you end your subplot well before before the main plot.

Sometimes, especially in a romance novel, a subplot will end after the main story wraps up, as part of an epilogue. However you manage it, end your subplot satisfactorily – don’t leave any loose ends.

3. Use Your Subplot to Build Tension – OR Relieve It.

Subplots are a wonderful way to build tension in your novels. Some authors end each chapter on a cliffhanger. Read Sandra Brown: she uses cliffhanger endings brilliantly. You can do something similar. End a chapter with a cliffhanger, then start the next chapter with a scene from your subplot, before you return to the main plot.

You can also use subplots to relieve tension after highly emotional scenes, to give readers a little time to absorb what’s happened in the primary plot.

Subplots are fun for readers, and for writers. Watch how your favorite authors weave subplots into their novels. Then experiment with your own subplot in your current novel. Have fun. :-)

Buy this on Selz Start selling on Selz

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to Write a Short Story in 5 Steps

How to Write a Short Story in 5 Steps

Want a quick and dirty way to write a short story? I cover a longer process in Fiction Fiesta, but this fast and simple process gets the job done. You can write your story in a few hours, if you like, or on a wet weekend.

This simple process works for short stories in many genres. I write romance fiction with it; my students write erotic romance, mysteries and paranormals. Try it for anything… :-)

1. Start With an Image, or With a Flawed Character.

You can start with a real image, if you like. Bestselling novelist Tracy Chevalier received her inspiration for her bestseller Girl With a Pearl Earring from Vermeer’s painting. I like starting with an image because a good painting or photograph conveys emotion; you can extrapolate a whole story from that.

Or, you can start with a mental image of a character who’s wonderful, but has a silly hangup (or a more serious one, but your story will need to be longer). She/ he gets over the hangup by the end of the story.

Here’s a romance fiction example. Your heroine’s a little plump, but attractive. Her parents and siblings pressure her to diet, so she’s a sensitive about her weight. This hangup is her flaw. By the end of the story, she’ll have overcome this, and will be a lot more confident.

2. Give Your Characters a Goal.

Every character in your stories needs a goal. Readers like characters who know what they want, and go after it. Staying with our plump heroine, her goal could be to get hired by a PR firm, or to get into medical school if she’s in college. Or just to move away from her horrid family.

You’ll need more than one character. In our little romance, our heroine (we’ll call her Jamie) meets her perfect match, Tom. She’s either dazed by him, or she hates him. Let’s say he runs the PR company for which she wants to work.

3. Create at Least Three Obstacles for Your Character.

We’ve got Jamie, and her flaw, and she’s got a goal. She’s determined to achieve her goal. Her lack of confidence because of her weight is her inner obstacle. Outer obstacles could include: a TV actress for whom Jamie got some free publicity. The actress won’t admit that Jamie got her a story in a magazine, and an interview on a TV show.

A second obstacle: Jamie’s met Tom. She was waitressing at a publicity event, and spilled a drink on him. He recognizes her when she shows up for the interview. However, instead of dismissing her, he seems interested. He asks her to have lunch with him.

And a third obstacle: Jamie’s flustered during the lunch. She’s attracted to Tom, which she knows is wrong. She couldn’t work with him if she’s so attracted to him, could she? Her nemesis the TV actress shows up in the restaurant, and Jamie uses this as an excuse to leave.

If you were writing this story, you’d need at least another couple of obstacles, with a final BIG obstacle. This is the “all is lost” point. After this, Jamie sees sense, and gets what she wants – Tom.

4. Write Your Story FAST.

As soon as you’ve got the basic outline for your story, start writing. Your story will change as you write it. Your basic outline is just a starting point. Keep going to the  end. Write your first drafts FAST. Here’s my easy-write process. It helps you to write fast and well.

5. Revise, Edit, Proofread… Publish.

Leave your story for a day or two, then revise it. Once you’ve revised, you can edit it, proofread it, and then publish it…

Try this easy way to write short stories. You’ll be amazed at the stories you create.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Plotting Fiction Made Easier: Start With a Trope

Plotting Fiction Made Easier: Start With a Trop

Writing a short story or a novel and HATE plotting? Many writers find creating plots a struggle. You can make it much easier if you start with a trope.

A trope is a type of story. Our Hot, Hotter, Hottest romance writing class is having lots of fun with common romance tropes. They include staples such as: the billionaire, the accidental baby, the marriage of convenience, second chances, good girl/ bad boy, and so on.

There are tropes for every genre. Here are some science fiction tropes.

Use Your Trope as a Seed.

I’ve had lots of questions about “cheating” if you use a trope.

You’re not cheating, readers like tropes:

 Many readers admitted that the tagline was more enticing than most of the other elements. The tagline for the book revealed it was a marriage of convenience story and you could hear the “oohhs” from the audience on that reveal.

A trope is useful, because it gives you a handle on the kind of story you’re writing – it’s a seed, a way to start thinking.

For example, let’s say you’re a new author. Writing at novel-length takes time, and is nerve-wracking when you’e just starting out. So you’ve made up your mind that you’re writing a series of novellas. Choosing a trope for each story gets you started plotting.

Let’s say you’ve chosen the popular “billionaire” romance trope. Billionaire romance novels sell very well on Amazon. Start playing the “what if” game with your romance trope.

  • What if your billionaire became a billionaire by accident – he inherited his fortune, or he sold an app to Google… You’re writing a romance, so he needs a partner. What if he falls in love with a woman who’s a doctor. She doesn’t like his new status. Or… ?;
  • What if your billionaire loses touch with his roots. He goes to the town he grew up in, and finds he can’t go home again – he’s different, and people look at him differently. Then he meets a woman… Etc.

A trope won’t plot your story for you, but it gives you a way to start thinking about characters and situations. Try it. Find a trope you like in the genre in which you want to write, and play with the trope. You may just discover that plotting fiction is huge fun – and that you’re writing stories that readers love.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Ebook Covers: 5 Easy Tips

Ebook Covers: 5 Easy Tips

With our new online fiction class, Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances, well underway, I’ve been fielding lots of questions about ebook covers.

There’s one basic rule for ecovers on Amazon: the covers need to look appropriate, and recognizable. Yes, they need to look “good”, but “good” is subjective. If you look at Amazon’s page on creating a catalogue/ cover image, Amazon recommends an image “1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest side” for best quality. Readers should be able to decipher your image at a glance, and your image needs to be appropriate for the book’s genre.

The tips…

1. Get a Cover Design – if You Can Afford It. If Not, Do This…

It’s wonderful if you can get a professional cover. But if you’re broke, don’t let that stop you publishing your ebook. Get an image from a stock photo library. Canstockphoto is my latest favorite, I also like Dreamstime – there are many image libraries, browse them until you find an appropriate image. You’ll be able to get an image for around $6.

Then use an image editor like PicMonkey to add your text.

If you’ve got a little money, search Google.com for “premade covers”. SelfPubBookCovers.com has some great covers, starting at $69.

Once your ebook starts selling, you can put some of your profits into a professionally designed cover. Ask the artist to give you a blank image as well; so that you can use the blank to create advertising creative.

2. If You’re Writing a Series (You Should), Match Your Covers.

Writing a series? Match the covers. Use similar images, or even the same image, and use the same fonts on all the covers in the series.

3. Be Brave, You CAN Design Your Own Cover.

Like spreading your artistic wings? You can use apps you already have, to create cover images. For example, William King reveals his step by step system for creating covers using PowerPoint:

You can find acceptable cover images in the paid libraries for only a few dollars. You may even recognise them from some of the books you own from big publishing houses. I certainly did, which rather surprised me. The image I use here was 13 credits on Dreamstime… 13 credits costs about $17/£10.50. In any case, go get an image that reflects your book and we’ll be ready to make a start.

I haven’t tried William’s system, but I’ve made a note of it, and I will. One writer makes her cover images in MS Word – you’d never be able to tell. So, use whatever apps you have to create your covers.

4. Check Others’ Books in Your Genre, Especially Traditionally Published Books. Do They Use Photos, or Illustrations?

Check what others in your book’s genre are doing. Humorous novels seem to use illustrations, so if you’ve written a vampire novel with more than a few touches of humor, use an illustrated cover. If you’ve got an artistically inclined friend, he might agree to do a cover for you.

That said, it’s your book, and you can put whatever you like on the cover – remember, with digital publishing, you can change whatever you like, whenever you like.

5. Writing Erotica? Stay Out of the Dungeon.

(Pun intended, above. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Online writing class

A too-raunchy cover can lead to Amazon to hiding your book. Ever since the great porn cleansing of last year, erotica authors need to be wary. So watch your covers. No nudity, or similar. Think: sophisticated, and classy.

You need to stay out of Amazon’s adult dungeon:

When a work gets ADULTed, it’s the kiss of death for sales. The works don’t show up in general search and/or are stuck at the end of the list. They don’t appear as suggestions in the “Customers who bought X also bought Y of any books” that are NOT in the dungeon, which, as you know, is an incredibly powerful and accurate tool that leads customers to new authors.

If you fear that one of your books may be in the dungeon, you can check here.

Ideally, you’ll get professionally designed, gorgeous ebook covers. If you can’t afford that, do your best. Remember: you can change anything about your ebooks at any time. Focus on writing a great book; you can and will change your covers over time. Have fun. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Writing Your Book: The 5 Most Helpful Habits (Slides)

When you’re writing your book, you need to develop good habits.

Sound boring? Far from it. Your habits will see you through until you write “The End.” Here are five  truly helpful habits in a handy slide deck. If you know anyone else who’s writing a book, please share the deck; these habits make writing your book much easier.

You’ll find a transcript below the deck, scroll down to read it.


Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

 

Slide deck transcript

1. Write every day. even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

You can write for a set period each day. Some writers like word count, or page goals. My non-negotiable word count goal is 1,000 words a day, no matter what. I’ve had this goal for many years. I hit that target every day; it’s become a natural part of my life. If you’re a new writer, start small, with 5 minutes a day, or 100 words.

2. Skip around. non-sequential writing is easier.

You don’t have to write your book from Page #1 to the end. Skip around. If you’re writing fiction, and want to write a big scene which happens in the middle of your book, write it. No one cares. Treat your book like a patchwork quilt; you can stitch all the blocks together later.

3. Quantity over quality. Write. fix it later.

Writers are horrible judges of their writing. If you’re obsessing, keep going. If it’s truly horrible (unlikely), you can fix it later.

4. Feel the words. Disable your inner censor.

Get involved. Feel the words. Relax. Have fun. Your censor is trying to keep you safe. Tell him he can come back once the book is done, while you’re editing it.

5. Get what you need. Pamper yourself.

Pamper yourself while you’re writing your book. Get what you need, whether it’s music, or a pot of coffee, or a fancy pen and smooth paper. You deserve it.

If you need help with your nonfiction book or novel, contact me – I offer several different kinds of coaching services, all tailored to what you need.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Buy this on Selz Start selling on Selz

Writing Short Stories For Fun and Profit: How Fast Can You Write?

Writing Short Stories

Thinking about writing short stories? Many writers are, and some are making amazing money. We looked at Beverley Kendall’s 2013 Self-Publishing Survey. You might be shocked that some short story writers, specifically in erotica, make much more money than that.

Established erotica short fiction writers are making five figures a month, but they don’t promote themselves – they can’t. Amazon’s cracked down on “monster porn”, and there are few venues for erotica writers to promote their offerings.

No, I’m not suggesting that you start writing erotica. :-) You can if you like, there’s money in it. However, there are many more genres in which you can make a handsome living if you write short fiction. We cover finding hot genres (including various styles of erotica) in our Short Story Factory coaching course.

I receive endless questions about short stories. Writers still can’t believe they can make money from their imagination. Hard to believe, I know – I used to feel that way myself. Before self-publishing became hot, I would have giggled if anyone suggested you could make money with short stories.

Let’s look at some of the most popular questions I’m asked about writing and selling short stories.

How long are short stories?

Short stories can be as short as you please. Back in the days when I wrote for magazines, I’d sell the occasional “flash” fiction story. They were always shorter than a thousand words.

If you’re selling short stories on Amazon, I suggest that that your ebooks contain over 5,000 words. If you’re writing flash fiction, compile two or three or more stories. This is a suggestion – you can write at whatever length you choose.

Occasionally Amazon will tag writers who publish extremely short material for not providing a “good user experience.” Your mileage will vary. Those of my students who sell erotica, tell me that their stories of eight to ten thousand words sell well.

What kinds of short stories sell?

Erotica, and romance do well. Choose whatever genre you please. One writer I know sells horror short stories. Initially her stories languished. Then she built up her mailing list and sold bundles, and she’s doing well.

Write whatever you like. Experiment. Who knows, there might be a huge fan base for you.

How do I promote short stories?

The best way to sell your stories is to write more of them, so that you continually appear in Amazon’s New Releases lists. Also, make sure that you create a mailing list.

Can I freelance short stories? Will people hire me to write them?

People will hire you to ghostwrite almost anything. I’m cutting down on my ghostwriting activities. I enjoy it, because I love to write, and anytime anyone gives me a brief, I can’t wait to get started.

However, it doesn’t make economic sense. Your short stories will make money for you for years, if you sell them on Amazon. However, if you’re ghostwriting, you’re selling “work done for hire.” That means that you’re trading hours for dollars; if you need to do this, do it.

The big benefit of ghostwriting is money in your bank account. Build up your own short story publishing catalogue as soon as you can.

 NEW:  Your Short Story Factory: Write and Publish Short Fiction

Your short story factory

, and on Twitter: @angee

Book Editing: How To Turn a Mess Into a Book

How to edit your book

Writing a book is fun. Book editing? That’s a horror story, or a pain in the rear end… or it can be enjoyable. If you’d like to make editing your book a pleasant experience, read on.

Do your own editing first.

Before we look at editing your book, let’s look at professional editing. Thanks to the publishing revolution, with more and more authors going the indie route, book editors are faced with a growing market for their services. However, they’re also faced with the job of educating that market.

David Kudler’s excellent article on book editing gives a good outline of the various types of editor: developmental, copyeditor, line editor, and proofreader.

Happy days, right? With so many different kinds of editor, you can let yourself rip and not worry about editing at all…

Not so. Vital: you must edit your book yourself, before anyone else sees your book.

Leaving aside the fact that if you dump a mess into an editor’s lap it will cost you a small fortune to get it cleaned up, your own editing is important, because:

  • It’s your chance to discover the story you want to tell (this applies to both nonfiction and fiction);
  • It’s your big chance to make your book better.

If your editor’s too busy cleaning up messes, she can’t help you to improve your book. The better your self-editing, the happier your editor will be, and the more you’ll get out of the money you spend.

Self-editing in 6 steps.

I gave you a self-editing process in this article:

Create an Outline from What You’ve Written

Your first step is to read through your book, and create an outline from what you’ve actually written. Create the outline in another document, and print it out.

If you see gaps in the structure where you need material, mark these areas on the draft.

Follow those steps.

What if you can’t afford professional editing?

If you’re a new writer, you may not be able to afford professional editing.

Although there’s no replacement for a professional editor, you can help yourself. Here are some tips.

  1. Get at least two beta readers.
  2. Trade proofreading services with another writer.
  3. Leave as much time as you can between writing your book, and editing it.

I like to leave at least a month. After a month, you should be able to look at your manuscript with a fresh eye. Then you can go over it, and do the best you can.

Keep an eye on your reviews. If reviewers tell you you don’t have a plot, there’s not much you can do about that. You may be able to rewrite, but forget that, and write another book. On the other hand, if your reviewers point out grammar mistakes, and typos, correct them.

Book editing needn’t be stressful. If you’re doing it yourself, remember to leave your book for a while before you start editing and then follow the six step process.

Book coach

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: excitingsounds via photopin cc

Book Cover Images: How Important Is Your Ebook’s Cover Art?

Feature: How Important Is eBook Cover Art in 2013?

How important are book cover images for your ebooks? Short answer… Very important.

According to Bella Andre, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling LET ME BE THE ONE (The Sullivans #6) and the upcoming COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER (The Sullivans #7), due out this winter, “Cover art is one of the most crucial elements for an ebook to first, gain visibility, and second, sell well. Fortunately, with digital publishing you can keep changing and improving on the cover until you get it right. More than once I’ve changed a cover and literally doubled sales overnight.”

 

Self-Publishing: 3 Easy Tips To Write a Book AND Publish It Fast

Self-Publishing: 3 Easy Tips To Write a Book AND Publish It Fast

How long does it take to write a book and publish it? If you asked that question a few years ago, the answer would have been two years, or longer. Nowadays, you could conceivably write and self-publish a book within 24 hours.

Publishing isn’t a race, but self-publishing has come a long way. One author, Brenna Aubrey, recently turned down a six-figure, three-book deal from a New York print publishing house. She decided to self-publish. Why? Because not only does self-publishing give her control over her books, she’ll make more money.

She says that the non-compete clause was a major factor in her decision to self-publish:

For those not up on the lingo of publishing. A non-complete clause prevents an author from publishing with another house or even self-publishing while under contract with the house in question in the same genre or under the same name.

When you self-publish you’re free of restrictions.

However, before you concern yourself with any form of publishing, you have to write your book.

Many authors, whether they’re new, or are already established, stumble through the writing and publishing processes. It takes them much longer to publish than it could, because they haven’t mapped out a process.

Let’s look at a simple three-step process anyone can use.

1. Describe Your Audience, and Write a Brief Description of Your Book

Your first step is to describe your audience: your readers. You need to know your readers, whether you’re writing fiction, or nonfiction.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What magazines does my ideal reader read?
  • What TV shows does he/ she love?
  • Does he/ she have children?

You may be wildly off when you describe your ideal reader. You may be thinking of someone who reads Reader’s Digest, listens to NPR, and has three children. After your book’s published, you discover your typical reader is a 16 year old male. It doesn’t matter.

Next, describe your book, in a paragraph – five sentences or less. Your short description keeps you on track while you’re writing. Your book description tells you where you’re headed with your book.

2. Outlining: Take Time to Plan, it Makes Writing Fast and Easy

Hate outlining? That’s fine. Create a mind map, or a simple list of what your book will contain. If you’re writing a novel, list ten scenes: the opening and closing scene, and eight others.

Writers often complain that they can’t outline. They think in terms of high school outlines. Your book outline isn’t anything like an outline you created in school. It’s just a tool to kickstart your thinking.

Go to Amazon, and look at the tables of contents of books which are similar to yours. If you’re writing a novel, count the chapters of similar novels on Amazon.

Your book description tells you where you’re going. Your outline is the tentative route which will take you there. I’ve been writing books for many years: outlines help. Look on your outline as a guarantee that you’ll complete your book.

Your completed book will be nothing like your outline. Feel free to change it at will.

Outline done? Start writing. Create a schedule, and stick to it.

3. Create Your Ebook’s Cover, Write the Meta Data, and hit Publish

You book may take just a week to complete, or it may take months. Either way, now’s the time to create an “ecover”, an Amazon catalog and cover image. Amazon has a useful Cover Creator, with gallery images, or you can use your own image.

Write the meta data for your book: its description and keywords. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Help system gives you information on how to do this.

Once you’ve completed your book, and have revised it, you’re ready to publish. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) accepts books in MS Word DOC and DOCX formats, as well as in HTML, and in PDF too.

If you’ve always wanted to write a book, or tried, and got stuck, use these easy tips. Publishing your book can be as easy as one, two, three. Get started today.

Need help writing your book? Get in touch today.

Join Angela on Google+, and on Twitter: @angee

Writing Your Novel: Writing is Rewriting

Writing your novel

I’m sure you’re familiar with the quote “all writing is rewriting”. It’s been attributed to many writers, including Truman Capote and Michael Crichton.

New writers find rewriting an unpleasant, and even a frightening chore, until they see the possibilities. If you’re a new writer, you may think that “rewriting” means changing a word here and there. No so. Once your first draft is complete, you’ve got a chance to make your book the book you want it to be.

When you’re writing a first draft, you’re creating raw material. The more material you create the better. First drafts tend to be messy; your only goal is to write through to the end – to tell your story. You’re telling your story to yourself.

In rewriting, you’re shaping the raw material for the reader. Now it’s time to think about what readers expect from the genre in which you’re writing:

Why pick a genre? Essentially, because readers want what they want, and they want certain types of books at certain times. Paranormal novels are a genre, which Amanda Hocking has mined to the tune of $4 million in a year.

For me, that means that the first stage of rewriting is going through a novel scene by scene, and eliminating as many scenes as I can. Then I write fresh scenes, and make all the scenes as strong as I can.

Rewriting scene by scene

I’ve been thinking about rewriting, and the importance of scenes, because I’ve just finished writing the first draft of a novel, and now the fun begins: carving the worthwhile material from the dross.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting on another story, and letting the current book rest for a week or two before I start the rewrite.

In preparation for rewriting, I’ve been dipping into Raymond Obstfeld’s excellent book, the Novelist’s Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes again.

When talking about scenes, he said:

When you finish reading a scene, ask yourself: “So what?” Is this scene necessary?… Does whatever happens deserve its own scene? Could the information be place in one of the neighboring scenes?

Novelists have various ways of rewriting. I prefer to start with scenes. Until I eliminate unnecessary scenes, those scenes I wrote when I was telling myself the story, there’s no point about tinkering with anything else. As I eliminate scenes, I’ll be thinking about the characters, and plot points.

I’m a fan of the 7 Point Plot System; it’s elegant, and works for any genre. I’ll be making sure that all the points are roughly where they need to be.

Rewriting is fun. For me, it’s just as much fun as writing a first draft. As you may know, I use Scrivener. This means that I’ve already created a document for each scene. I’ve compiled the rough draft into MOBI; it’s on my Kindle, waiting for a read-through before I get started on the scenes.

Scenes are at the heart of your novels. You can make the most of them once you’ve completed your rough draft. Have fun writing your novel. :-)

If you need help, Fiction Frenzy will guide you.

Photo credit

Join Angela on Google+, and on Twitter: @angee