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Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


I have some questions about publishing my first paranormal romance books

1) I have read here that making your first book free is one of the best ways to get readers. Is this something you would recommend doing right off the bat? Or charge money first, then make it free when you have more books in the series? (Does this even matter with Kindle Unlimited?)

2) Length: A few posters have said that Romance needs to be 20k+ but at 20k you get complaints that books are too short. But then I think EngineerSean also said that he wrote a "full length" romance novel and it wasn't worth the effort? Is there a kind of agreed-upon length for the $2.99 romance price point? Does anyone know if readers expect paranormal romances to be longer? Or is there a good way to tell how many words a kindle book is? I read them, but other than thinking "wow this is short compared to the YA fiction I also read," I don't really know how long they are. The ones I'm working on now will probably be about 65k, but if shorter works, I will probably try to come up with smaller stories in the future.

3) Explicit sex: Is it required in romance? :(

Based on the best seller lists, I'm going to be reading a LOT of shifter romance over the next few months. Bleh.

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Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


EngineerSean posted:

I've made a literal fortune writing full length romance novels so I don't think I said that. My first novel bombed and that's just something you have to be prepared for.

This is comforting to hear. I must have misremembered a really old post or something.

Does anyone have recommendations for substantive editors? (i.e. not copyediting/proofreading, but more like "here is where your plot breaks down" stuff)

I looked at the Flourish Editing listed in the OP and it would be ~$2400 for a 60k novel and I am hesitant to spend so much right away.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


ravenkult posted:

Never done a romance book before, but maybe I can help you out. I charge roughly 1 cent/word. Unless someone else knows of a romance editor, 'cause that would probably be better for you.

If I was doing horror, I'd hire you for sure, but right now I need someone with expertise (since I have none) :)

Hijinks Ensue posted:

I do line editing as well as copyediting/proofreading. Here's my site: http://booksidemanner.com. You can email me at booksidemanner at gmail.com (I don't have a PM account here at SA).

Cool, I have your info saved for copyediting already, will email you re: line editing. Thanks!

Oh, based on your site, I'm looking for something even broader than line-editing. Overall structure, plot, characterization/motivation, pacing, is the romance actually believable or is it strained and awkward, etc.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 00:47 on Apr 25, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Malloreon posted:

This sounds like a great opportunity to start IRC for this thread.

Because I am awake and familiar with IRC, I've registered #selfpub on synirc. If people who are more involved with the thread (and experienced in self publishing) are interested, I will OP them and divest my "ownership." In my mind, prime candidates for OPs/owners are engineersean, moana, Sundae, and ravenkult. I don't know if any of them are interested in an IRC channel, but if they are, they will be in charge.

I use mibbit to connect to IRC through my browser.

In the mean time, I might be in there, ready to answer angel opportunity's secret question: why do you want to hire an editor?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


magnificent7 posted:

What the hell does that have to do with my cover?

I kid I kid! Congratulations.

Thanks everybody for your feedback, I appreciate it. I'll go back to the drawing board some more.

Side note - is there seriously a proven track record in creating covers that look like other covers in your genre? I see that comment a lot, and, to me, it screams, "crappy knockoff" MOST of the time. (Not Ravenkult's covers goddammit, those things are loving amazing)

You want a cover that will immediately identify what kind of book you are selling. You don't do that by making a totally different kind of cover. You use the style that consumers equate with the kind of book they are looking for.

Imagine if you were sending a demo tape to someone who signs new punk bands. They have to listen to hundreds of demo tapes a day. They pretty much only listen to the first 8 bars of the first song before they skip to the next tape. You're definitely not going to lead off with a cover of Dead Kennedys or whatever, but are you going to start your album with 20 measures of a Brahms Lullaby? Even if it totally turns into an amazing punk song at measure 21, you've hosed yourself.

That might be a bad metaphor because I don't actually know that much about how demo tapes work, but hopefully you get the idea.

You don't copy, but you use the established vernacular.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Snapshot is way better. It reminds me of the film Blowup (though it probably won't remind very many people of that, since it's an old not-very-popular movie).

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


moana posted:

I generally publish a book every month. There are better times for sales, but it's harder to rank during those times as the traditional publishers are pushing all of their books at that time. So I think it's pretty much a wash and I wouldn't recommend waiting before publishing. My two best breakouts were both in March (this year and last), so there you go. The quicker you publish, the better imo, all other things being equal.

Do you write and complete a book every month? Or is it like, write book one month, edit and revisions the next month while also writing another book?

Either way, that schedule sounds really intense. And don't you have a day job, too?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


moana posted:

Won't know until the 15th when we find out the KU rate, but I'm pretty sure this'll be my first six-figure month :toot:

Pretty sure I'll quit right before I hit the million mark just to make Sean mad~

That is awesome. Tell me all the secrets.

Secret 1: Be able to publish a book every month...

I should probably start with that one, really. This first book is going to take me 3 months, minimum. If I can't do 2 and 3 within two months each, I might have to reconsider this life plan...

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Mrenda posted:

Miranda walked into the room, hate clear on her face,. ""Is everyone in this thread purely working a writing assembly line to make money?" Everyone was making more money than her.

fixed this for you

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 01:07 on May 28, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


EngineerSean posted:

A question of such breadth and depth that I could not possibly begin to answer it here.

What do you think about sending out ARCs to book blogs for a 1st romance novel?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


EngineerSean posted:

Bloggers are so enormously overburdened with books to read that they'll never take it. I don't mean to say that like it's a flip answer, they literally get frustrated at unsolicited submissions to them. Release one novel, start up a mailing list right away, and use that as the pool for future novel ARCs.

Thank you. It did not sound like a flip answer. I really appreciate the alternate advice, too.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


angel opportunity posted:


Literally no eye for fonts or design or anything here. Dude got pictures of Earth and the moon, picked a font at random that looked unobtrusive, and used white because the background was black. I feel like someone who is really really good at typesetting type stuff could MAYBE make this cover image look good, but I doubt it. The symmetry and weight is weird, and the image is just not very interesting. Tactical zooming or cropping might work, and some other tricks, but this is just really ugly. Would you ever look at this thumbnail and have ANY interest in clicking to see what the book is about?

AUGHHHH. The perfect centering of the title leaving just the corner R and nothing else just barely overlapping the image is so hideous.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 00:49 on Aug 13, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Sundae posted:

I'm already out and staying out except for full-length novels.


Edit: To answer the question more directly, I'm down 90%.

How much did your full-length novels drop?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


The fact that Amazon refuses to give units borrowed data so no one can actually compare what they would have made under the two systems is so gross. Very suggestive that they are screwing over a majority of their authors, possibly to the great benefit of a select few, and don't want anyone to be able to prove it and get together and throw a real big fit that might change something. Woooooooooo.

It's true that if Amazon is paying out the same/greater pool, and someone is making less, then SOMEONE is making more. The question is who and how many. I suppose also "what are you going to do about it?"

Also, the real winner is always the same.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


EngineerSean posted:

The definition of a zero sum game is "a situation in which each participant's gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s)." Unless you're counting Amazon as one of the participants here (which I don't think many people are), a loss for some authors does not mean a gain for other authors. If the payout had been $10m this month, would it still be a zero sum game? $1m?

I got my bonus emails, exactly what I assumed plus three title bonuses. A nice surprise for me but bodes even worse for how much money people actually made.

I should have stated all my assumptions: assuming overall borrow rates are the same, assuming the overall pool is the same/greater, etc. etc. etc. I'm not arguing with you.

Like you pointed out, if borrow rates go up and the pool goes down, everyone can lose. Maybe nearly all authors are losing. Amazon's data-witholding cleverly makes it difficult to prove. I don't doubt the estimates posted in this thread; y'all have always been solid tracking your numbers.

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Also, the real winner is always the same.

^^^ yeah, I was including Amazon as one of the participants.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 02:10 on Aug 18, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


angel opportunity posted:

Some of those almost work, but none of them really do. Sorry! Your original yellow one looks better than most of those, and is about on par with the best of them (aquamarine ones). I may try to photoshop something tonight if I get time just because I'm curious if I could get it to look good.

I'll stop suggesting stuff because clearly purple/violet is not the answer here.

I have a bunch of suggestions but I can't photoshop, but if you think any of them make sense:

Part of the problem is that b/c of where the background image is placed, "Sundered" and "Heavens" are on very dark/quite light backgrounds respectively, requiring a medium tone to give any contrast at all, thus giving neither of them particularly good contrast. Also, notice the sphere of the sun is nearly centered vertically on the cover, vs. The Dark Forest cover, where it is much closer to the bottom. If you drop the image, possibly shrinking the author name (which right now is getting nearly equal prominence as the title--unnecessary for an unknown self-pub author), then you can put "Sundered Heaven" entirely on a dark background and have a lot more options. I can't envision of a pale cool color that would work well here, but if you sampled one of the lighter yellows from the flaming sun and put it over the dark clouds, I think that would give the pop of contrast needed. Then you could also remove the darker outline which I think looks gross and was mostly there to make the text readable against the lighter parts of the background image.

Lift up the "Boon of the Prophetess Saga" so it's not sitting on the sun, consider making black or just deleting, since I haven't read any of the other books in the saga and presumably they don't exist and I have no idea what that means.

Personally, I think the centered, medium-weight serif font looks amateur and boring. I'd try doing something like on The Dark Forest, with Sundered and Heaven being different sizes so they take up the same width.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


CommissarMega posted:

Fair enough; I'm just starting out with image editing myself, and I haven't quite got a grip on how to do all that fancy stuff with font effects and whatnot. I think what makes The Dark Forest's title work is that it's bright where it needs to be and vice versa; I'm not sure how to do that myself, so it's all one solid colour block. I tried embossing and shadowing the text, but as you can see, there's only so much I can do for now.

EDIT: One final set of attempts before I go to bed:

Gold
Slightly Lighter Gold
Silver

Also, I'm guessing Draft 2 Digital isn't where I should start my literary career? :v: I was planning to go Kindle Unlimited anyway (it's a long book, around 100k words post-editing); is that a good idea?

Can you post just the background image you are using, preferable prior to any cropping you have done?

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


So here's a mock-up of what I meant with regards to lowering the skyline and making the title text bigger, of equal width, etc. There's a lot of stuff messed up in here, since I basically threw it together in GIMP with what I could figure out in a couple hours.



Here's what I would fix if I knew how to use the tool better:

Fonts: Pick better fonts, I just went with the first kinda okay fonts I found in GIMP, because whatever.
Kerning: I'd probably space the letters of the title a bit further apart, the E and A in Heavens are actually touching, which I don't like, but by the time I noticed it was already an image mask.
Contrast with lettering: the bottom of the E and N in Heaven are disappearing into the background, but given the nature of the background, it could be darkened at that point with some strategic dodging/clone work to make that point pop a little bit more. Also, at the bottom, I lightened it b/c I was originally going with black for the author name, if that was left original or darkened a little bit, the white name would pop more.
Color/sky image of the title: find a new sky image. I just went with the first generally empty and gradient sky image i found in a google image search and had to scale it a lot to get a decent color grade. I think a better one could be found.
Title text is slightly out of alignment
Author name could be a little larger, and slightly bolder.

Edit: Someone on IRC said they liked the color contrast of teal/bright orange, and apparently I have no life (also now with actual ebook cover ratios):



One of my IRC pals made me this image to describe my process:

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 05:45 on Aug 19, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Yooper posted:

Blurb check, whatcha guys think?

I don't have specific change suggestions, but:
1) first sentence is a REALY weak construction (war has raged)
2) the entire first paragraph is a bunch of set up, description of a war, no characters.
3) You have a poor idea of what is important to people who haven't read the book (it doesn't matter that he is the son of the sky marshal leading the invasion, not a single bit. It doesn't matter what unit of whatever he commands. That means nothing.) Or maybe I do. I haven't read a lot of blurbs for recent epic sci-fi, but overall the blurb is confusing and doesn't grab me at all.

CAPTIN GAVIN MCCLOUD IS OUT FOR REVENGE.

15 YEARS AGO THE ALIEN QIN SLAUGHTERED HIS MOTHER AND TOOK HIS BROTHER AND SISTER AS SLAVES.

NOW HE'S OUTSIDE THEIR BIGGEST BASE, AND HE'S READY TO FIGHT, BUT IT'S NOT THE QIN WHO ARE SHOOTING BACK. IT'S HUMANS.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 22:23 on Oct 2, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


AbrahamLincolnLog posted:

People mentioned earlier in the thread that some obscure websites sometimes have huge sales on Scrivener. Any sales like that going on right now? I'd love to try it out but don't really want to spend $30 on it.

Yeah, Jalumibnkrayal posted a link to one on literally the last page.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Bobby Deluxe posted:

If you're doing it in your spare time, you should be aiming for 1k a day. If you get to the point where it's your job, 2k a day. 500 words is the absolute minimum you should be writing every single day.

Use word counts as targets, not time limits. If you set a time limit you'll dick around and procrastinate. Set a word limit, and you're not leaving the keyboard until the words are down.

I don't want to tell anyone how much they should be writing per day, because I think it's pretty personal, but I think just on its face suggesting that you can do half as much in your spare time as you can in a full-time job is kinda hosed up. You're basically saying "spare time" writing is equal to a half-time job, which is completely unreasonable.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


What I meant was that if you can write 1k/day in your spare time, you should be able to write way more than 2k/day if writing is your job.

If you can only write 2k/day when it's your job, fine, but it's probably unreasonable to then expect to write 1k/day in the few hours of spare time you have if you're working a full-time day job.

Obviously writing a lot consistently is mandatory to succeed as a writer. I didn't mean it's no big deal if you don't write much, so just do whatever. Daaaaaaaaang. Really though, everyone is going to have their own amount of writing they can do in a day. Maybe it's more helpful to think of how often you want to (need to?) put out a book, and then divide it by the number of days, and there's your answer. That's how many words you should be writing per day.

For what it's worth, I go the complete opposite way and do it completely by time, because I actually don't procrastinate when I have to stare at the computer and do nothing else for 30 minutes, but I can always tell myself there's plenty of time left in the day to write another 500 or so words.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 01:24 on Nov 25, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


I am working on a new Fiction Advice Thread OP, and I am including information about self publishing (because duh). I'm linking to this thread, but I would also really like to include an introduction/overview/basic advice/other things you think I should.

I found this recent post from Sundae, but I think there is more to to say to people who have perhaps never seriously considered self-publishing. First post here is great, but I'm not sure if there are important updates after KU 2.0 and all.

Sundae posted:

The super easy dirt-poor beginners' guide to self-publishing

#1 - Figure out what genre you want to write.
#2 - Start reading that genre if you don't already do so.
#3 - Come up with your idea and apply the general genre identification questions from the OP to it.
#4 - Write something for that genre. Finish the first complete draft.
#5 - Do not publish it yet.
#6 - Come back when you finish it and talk to the thread again about your newly-finished draft.


Yes, there are more steps after #6. They don't matter right now. There is absolutely no reason to start getting concerned about marketing, publishing approaches, release schedules, etc, when you haven't written anything.


None of the answers to this matter until you've written something. No offense intended to you specifically, but people post a lot of questions in this thread and contact people over PM / e-mail asking for advice about publishing, and a lot of them have nothing written at all and never come back with a finished work even after people give tons of marketing advice. Write something, then come back and talk publishing. :)

FWIW, I spent about 1k words on trad pub, and covered these topics:
1) guess what, getting traditionally published almost certainly won't make you rich (or famous)
2) pros/cons of traditional publishing
3) You think there are a lot of publishers, but there are really only 5 who put out most of the books
4) how to get an agent
5) what happens after you get an agent (people really want to know this before they have written a book??)

No matter what I'm going to do something similar for self-pub, but honestly I will be doing my best to piece together what I "know," what's in the OP, and what's been posted in here recently. I would really like to get y'all's perspectives and deep, up-to-date knowledge instead. I know writing this stuff up takes time & effort, and I would be very grateful to get your input.

Thanks! :)

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 06:39 on Jan 20, 2017

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Sundae posted:

I'll put together some of the basics (based on what I know) for reasons, etc etc. The stuff in the OP is out of date (except for the examples of bad covers, which remain bad to this day). :)

Thank you! I'm so glad I can include real, expert advice.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Albert Einstein posted:

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

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Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


It's every product page on Amazon :lol:

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