Archive for October, 2010

Source: A tale of two envies and what sells iPhones and Blackberries | SciGuy | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

Who knew there were two types of Envy? These researchers describe two distinct types – supportive and competitive. They call the supportive variant “benign” and the competitive “malicious”.

The researchers found that benignly envious people were willing to pay more for products a deserving friend had that they coveted, as in $110 more for an iPhone. That’s a good chunk of change.

However, people who were maliciously envious of iPhone owners were more likely to pay more for related but different products, such as a Blackberry.

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Web Sites You Need To Know


Smashwords is an ebook publishing and distribution platform for ebook authors, publishers and readers. They offer multi-format, DRM-free ebooks, ready for immediate sampling and purchase, and readable on any e-reading device. It’s free to publish and distribute with Smashwords. – http://www.smashwords.com/about

Visit http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords. Read the free Smashwords Style Guide for instructions on formatting Microsoft Word manuscripts for best performance.

Amazon.com: Digital Text Platform (Kindle Publishing)

With Digital Text Platform (DTP) you can publish your books on the Amazon Kindle Store. It’s free, fast, and easy. Books published through DTP can participate in the 70% royalty program and are available for purchase on Kindle devices and Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices. With DTP, you can publish books in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and specify pricing in US Dollars and Pounds Sterling. – https://dtp.amazon.com/

Additional Items Of Note

  • Book Rights: You will have to consult your contract for each book you want to upload. Just because it’s no longer in print doesn’t mean the ebook rights have returned to you. Older contracts may not mention ebook rights at all so unless there is all-inclusive language, you never gave them away. For those contracts that do include ebook rights, you will have to follow the contract specifications to get those rights returned and this may involve a lengthy request process. Rights are not necessarily returned automatically once the conditions for them have been met. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer so have a real one review the contracts and explain this to you so you can move forward.
  • Manuscripts: Hopefully, you still have copies of the final manuscript for each book you want to upload. Your authors should always keep copies of these things post editing. That said, if you do not there are other options including sending a copy of the physical book off to have it turned into an electronic document. Refer to the Smashwords guide for formatting.
  • Cover Art: Remember that cover art is copyrighted too. You may have to design new covers or get the rights to your old covers. To participate in the premium Smashwords catalog which is delivered to all the electronic retailers, you will need a cover. Refer to the Smashwords guide for acceptable sizes.
  • Markets: Amazon is by far the biggest publishing platform. Smashwords will convert your manuscript to many formats available to basically every other market. So you will still have to publish to Amazon to get on Kindle. I recommend using both to maximize your exposure to the online market.
  • Pricing: Apple requires a price ending in $.99 and Amazon has their 70% royalty program. Essentially, amazon will pay authors a 70% royalty rate so long as they price their books between $2.99 and $9.99. There is also an option for $.99. Read up on the program for details. That said, the sweet spot for novels (60,000+ words) seems to be $2.99. There is an author named Joe Konrath (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/) who has been sharing his sales numbers and breaking those down for his blog readers. Essentially, he has found that pricing books higher as the publishers tend to do is too high and will sell far fewer copies. Pricing lower sells more copies and authors actually make more money by pricing lower. You can read all about this on his blog. Bottom line: Pricing at $2.99 meets the Apple requirement, the Amazon 70% royalty program (which, again, is by far the market leader), and maximizes both exposure and profit. If this prices seems too low to you read Joe’s blog. He explains where the price for a hardback comes from and why $2.99 is quite reasonable given the digital nature of publishing which eliminates the need for many, many middle jobs in the process.
  • Royalties: Traditional publishing pays an author every 6 months. At least with amazon, you can be paid monthly I believe.

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Watch the video below.

Go ahead. Immerse yourself in the world of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and remember how you felt the first time you saw the movie.

(If you haven’t seen the first movie, you’re missing out. It’s got a great story with a complex plot, well-defined characters, and lots of action.)

Isn’t this a great way to distill an entire movie down to an easily manageable 8 minutes? There’s a lesson in here for writers as well.

You may have noticed that Captain Jack Sparrow’s dialogue seems to change after he escapes the jail cell at the beginning of the movie. This lasts approximately until the first visit to the treasure cave. It’s almost like there are two different Sparrows – the confident one who’s a little crazy that we’re introduced to and the more clear-spoken and somewhat stupid pirate from the middle.

If you didn’t notice the change, you may want to rewatch the video. I think it starts at 1:38 and lasts until 3:10. His lines begin to fall flat and lack the singular, dramatic style that we came to expect from the beginning of the movie.

Why this change? I think we are seeing Sparrow’s true personality come out courtesy of good screenwriting and good acting by Johnny Depp. The craziness in Sparrow’s personality is all smoke and mirrors to conceal the pirate’s true intentions and keep his enemies unbalanced. Characters should always be clearly and consistently defined yet complex. Sparrow is all this in spades.

How does the writer maintain consistent yet complex characters?

By performing strategic read-throughs for each major character.

Do this after your manuscript is otherwise complete: Choose one character to focus on and read through your entire manuscript. You are looking for character inconsistencies and opportunities for improvement. Make edits as you go. Look at dialogue, physical descriptions, the works. Above all, remember to stay focused on that one character. This includes skipping over paragraphs, scenes, and chapters that don’t involve him or her. After your read-through is complete, finish any remaining edits before moving on. Repeat for each major character in your manuscript.

Your manuscript will be stronger for this investment of time. Make it a regular part of your editing process.

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Interesting thoughts on where publishing is going in a convenient list of bullet points. My thanks to Nancy Cohen for sharing on The Kill Zone.

  • Everyone will be reading on their mobile phones in the future. What will this mean for the art of writing? Smaller paragraphs, shorter books, scenic descriptions perhaps replaced by video.
  • Ebooks will be the next mass market.
  • Think global. People in other countries want to read our work and they want these stories to take place in the U.S. so they can read about our lives here. The demand will continue to grow exponentially. This is a huge potential market.
  • Many pirate sites originate overseas where English language content is unavailable. How to combat piracy? Cost and Convenience. Make our work cheaper and easier to obtain.
  • Be prolific to build your brand.
  • Don’t think of writing as draining your mental energy so you need to refill the creative well. Think of writing as recharging your batteries so that the more you write, the more you’ll want to write. It’s harder to restart the engine so keep it running.
  • Publishers need to step up to the plate and provide authors with editorial, distribution, promotion, and product if they’re to be viable in the future. The most important role of publishers continues to be as a gatekeeper for a quality read.
  • Social networking is crucial for authors to establish a platform.
  • Reviews still drive book sales, and bloggers are the new reviewers.
  • Indie bookstores still have tremendous influence. They may still be around after the chains go out of business. Establish a connection with your indie booksellers.
  • Writers with a backlist have many different avenues to explore to make their books available to readers again. This is an exciting time because we can bring our stories directly to readers ourselves.

Source: The Kill Zone: Brainstorming on the Beach

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Source: Hogwarts Finally Hooks Up the Internet



Visit the page for full size versions of the following:

  • Harry Potter on Facebook
  • Ron Weasley on Facebook
  • Hermione Granger on Facebook
  • Weasley Wizard Wheezes on YouTube
  • Draco on Twitter
  • Bella’s Tricks & Treats on Etsy (Bellatrix)
  • Hagrid’s iPhone

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Randy Ingermanson wrote a brilliant explanation for why Stieg Larsson’s Trilogy Works despite obvious flaws in the October 5, 2010 edition of his popular e-zine, The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. Here’s a quick summary:

Stieg Larsson’s novel THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has been sitting on the Top 100 list on Amazon fornearly two years now. Its two sequels have followed itup the charts. For several months this year, thesebooks held the top three positions.

The question is: Why are these books selling so well?

If you’ve been writing fiction very long, you know thatStieg Larsson is violating several cardinal rules here:

  • Don’t use a prologue — readers don’t read them.
  • Start with your protagonist.
  • Bring your characters on in action.
  • Put no backstory in the first fifty pages.
  • If you must put in backstory, dole it out in bits.

How is Stieg Larsson getting away with violating somany rules?

Those pesky rules are there to make it as likely aspossible that you engage the reader’s interest. If you engage the reader’s interest while breaking a rule or two or twenty, the reader won’t care.

The real question is this: What is Stieg Larsson doingthat engages his reader’s interest so effectively?

  • He creates unanswered questions.
  • He creates three-dimensional characters.
  • He creates a complex storyline.

A story doesn’t sell because it has no weaknesses. A story sells because it has great strengths.

The lesson here for every novelist is that you canworkshop a novel to death, removing every possibleweakness, making sure that it has nothing to offend anyone. Or you can focus on powering up your novel’s strengths.

Can you guess which approach is likely to earn you themost readers?

Read the full article by viewing back issues (this article appeared in the October 5, 2010 edition) or subscribing to Randy’s e-Zine.

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