Category Archives: writing

Keep Calm and Write On

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As I am preparing for my first ever book launch and realizing how little I know and how unprepared I am for this process, articles like the one below give me hope.

By the way, I still post articles to my Flipboard magazines. The article is from my Writer’s Corner, but check out the new articles in Pretty Pictures, Sci-Non-Fi, Heath Herald, and Focus on Filming.

Writing Insights Part One: Becoming A Writer by The Wayfinder

Image: A Divine Humour (Creative Commons)

Header Image: Thought Catalog

What Price to Set Your Book?

This week I tried to find the answer to this question; what to price your book? How do you value your work? Of course, I have worked very hard to write my books so I find them invaluable. How do readers value them though? What price will they pay to read it? This is what I’m trying to find out in this article.

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Some say that when you compare a book to a cup of coffee, the price of a cup of coffee is overrated (as it often costs more than an eBook). The coffee was made by the barista within a few minutes while it took a few months (if not years) to write your book. This, however, is a distorted and simplified vision. The coffee beans were grown in a field, nurtured by the farmer for weeks if not months as well, harvested, dried, roasted, and transported to where you are, and prepared the way you like to drink your cup of coffee. All the people involved in this, the farmer, the coffee roaster, the transporter, the barista, all need to get paid. When writing a book, it’s not much different. Apart from the writer, there is the editor, formatter, cover artist, and publisher that need to get paid. Yet people are willing to pay more for a cup of coffee than they are for your book. So how to price it in order for them to buy it?

If you have a publisher, you are very lucky. They will deal with the whole ‘selling of your book’ stuff. Not all publishers put in the same effort, though, and I’ve heard stories of authors that still need to do a lot of the advertising themselves. Most of us, unfortunately, have not been so lucky to find a publisher willing to take our book on. We’ll have to do the hard work of trying to sell our books ourselves.

You can’t get around Amazon as it’s the book seller nowadays. You don’t have to sell on Amazon, but with the reach they have at the moment, you’d be stupid not to. When you do, you’ll find out that Amazon makes a distinction between books priced under $3.00 and those priced $3.00 or higher. For the former, you only get 35% profit, the rest is pocketed by Amazon. For the latter, you earn a whopping 70% of the sale. It is tempting to price your book this high so you will earn more profit. Unfortunately, the effect is that not a lot of people will buy your book as they will find it too expensive. There is such a large offer available on the internet nowadays, with many books even offered for free, that most people don’t even want to pay for books at all anymore. True readers know that ‘you get what you pay for’ though and are willing to spend that little money to get something worth reading and only go for the free offers from tested (and liked) authors.

When I put my book on Amazon, I opted for the cheaper version. As I’ve only got one book to sell at the moment (soon three), I want people to try it out and get hooked. I’m no longer with KDP Select anymore, as I would like to try and sell my book elsewhere than just Amazon, so I can’t offer it for free (if I wanted to). Amazon will price match with other publishers (i.e. free), but you’ll have to ask them as this isn’t done automatically. I looked around on Amazon and it seemed that $0.99 is the absolute minimum that books are priced for when not offered for free and that’s what I priced my first book.

I wondered if I was selling too cheap so I did a (very small) study of vampire books on Amazon and came to the following conclusions:

  • There is no correlation between the number of pages and the price of the book. The number of pages varied from just over 200 to over 450, not including prequels (which are normally a lot shorter). The prices varied from £0.99 to nearly £5.00, some whole box sets were offered completely for free, but the price didn’t correspond to the number of pages.
  • Most stories are part of a series, with the first book priced cheaper than the subsequent ones, which are not always the same price. I find this strange, but perhaps the number of pages were not the same (I didn’t look into this, yet).
  • Price is not an indicator of the quality of the writing. Some were highly priced, but had bad reviews regarding grammar, punctuation, and formatting. One of the higher priced books had the worst reviews.

When taking into account these observations, I can only conclude that there is no real guideline to follow. Authors just do what they want. I’d have to do more research to find out what the results of these prices are (resulting in more/less reviews) and finding out what quality their writing is.

Authors of other genres have told me not to sell my work too cheap and never to give it away for free. True, it has cost me a lot of time, effort, and money and it is of good enough quality to ask for more rather than less. I like to think that my books are of better quality than some trash you find out there that make your toes curl with every misplaced comma, spelling error, and formatting faux pas. Nevertheless, I think I’ll keep my first book priced at £0.99 and will ask for more than that for Book 2 and 3 of the trilogy, but stay under the £3.00. I don’t have a following yet and I don’t think my work is of such high quality ( I know my work will never be literature)/number of pages to ask for more (it won’t be epic stories either). We’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you up to date 😊 .

Memes

I don’t have a lot of memes this week. I’ve been too serious 🙂 .

Photo by Aris Sfakianakis on Unsplash

Finished the first draft of the Prequel!

Woohoo! It actually didn’t take that long to do, I just needed to find the time to sit down and do it. Once I got stuck into the story, my fingers were flying over the keyboard. Honestly, I could have written a whole book on this story. However, it’s going to be my magnet to the trilogy, so I’m not going to make it longer. 12+K Words is a nice teaser, I’d say.

So what happens in the story? It’s the few months before Black October. It starts when the go ahead is given to test the virus which is intended to grow muscle mass in soldiers. Then, of course, it all goes out of hand when the side-effects start to develop.

As the trilogy has flying insects on the cover (two butterflies and a moth, see my web page’s header), I thought it would be nice to have a caterpillar on the cover of this one. What do you think?

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Fun Friday!

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a fun Friday! I’m sorry for not posting last week, but it was out of my control. I was in London and my laptop didn’t want to connect to the internet. It made me very sad. I really must look into that. I’m so sorry if you were looking forward to the memes. Not to worry though, I’ve got even more for you this week 🙂

Bubble_TeaWhy was I in London last week? Because I had to accompany our Australian visitor (who is a minor) to Heathrow airport. He can fly around the world on his own, but not from one to another airport in the UK. Don’t ask me why. I didn’t mind as I really wanted to see The Great Wave exhibition in the British Museum that I didn’t get to see last time. Unfortunately, nobody told me you had to buy tickets in advance and by the time I got to the museum, they were sold out for the time I was able to attend. I consoled myself with the notion that I now probably have to go to Japan to see it and got myself a bubble tea from Coco which was very nice.

What else am I happy about today? Well, as I told you on Wednesday, I signed a provisional contract with Create50 for two of my horror stories to be included in their Twisted50 anthology Vol.2 or Vol.3. As there are 182 entries and 50 winners, the chance is pretty big at least one of my stories gets chosen. I don’t want to jump ahead of myself though, so I still need you to keep your fingers crossed for me!

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Writing wise, things have been going slow. My cover, which I promised myself would be ready this week, isn’t ready yet. I finished drawing the blood drips last Tuesday, but they needed to be made to look 3D. As my daughter is hugging the drawing tablet, it was her job. Either she did it in one morning, or I get the tablet for two days. Nothing wrong with some emotional blackmail 🙂 . You must know my daughter is an avid DeviantArt artist and can’t live without her tablet. This is the result she just sent me. I hope you find it was worth the wait. I love it! Please be aware they are copyrighted!

I have been adding some more followers on Twitter this morning and will be upgrading my ads for Book 1 this afternoon. While I was in London, I added some more text to my prequel but ran into an obstacle. I have two stories running parallel; one of Kate, one of how the virus got into the world. I ran out of text for Kate, but have more text to write about the virus (heaven knows I could have written a whole new book on that 😀 ). I still need to think on that one.

But enough of my babbling. Here are the memes you so have been waiting for 🙂

 

 

Fingers crossed!

I just provisionally signed the rights away for two of my stories, ‘Vampires Anonymous’ and ‘Rumour has it…,’ to #Create50! They will have the rights to publish for two years should they pick my story/stories from the one hundred and eighty-two shortlisted entries as one of the fifty winners for inclusion in their anthology, Twisted50 Vol.2. They have so many stories to chose from, they may even include them in a Vol.3. So fingers crossed!

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Book Review: ‘Games People Play’ by Owen Mullen

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If you’re expecting an American-style, fast-paced, action-packed story, you’ve got the wrong book. Owen Mullen’s ‘Games People Play’ is a typical Tartan Noir, with private investigator Charlie Cameron as the protagonist. We see the world through his eyes and it’s not a pretty one. Charlie struggles with a loss of his own and, as he tries to find missing persons for other people, as you delve deeper into the mind of Charlie, you find out who his missing person is.

Mullen has described some excellent vivid characters, very believable and endearing. As Charlie tries to make sense of life and help others to find their loved ones, you can feel the pain and desperation Charlie is feeling as he is fighting his own demons. Life is not an exciting rollercoaster all the time and the life of a private investigator is not always as rosy as it may seem.

If you’re not from Glasgow, it’s still easy to follow Mullen’s descriptions and find yourself immersed in the scene. Throughout the story, several plot lines are followed. This may distract from the original story line of the disappearance of the little girl, which never leaves the mind of Charlie and ultimately comes back to the foreground, but they give you an excellent insight into Charlie’s character and sets the scene perfectly for the continuation of the series.

I enjoyed reading Mullen’s book and will be looking forward to the next one.

You can find Owen Mullen’s book ‘Games People Play’ here.

Fun Friday!

And have we got some news for you! First of all, there was the ‘Meet the Authors‘ from Bloodhound Books on Saturday evening in London. I didn’t travel to London for that reason, but I couldn’t resist going while I was there. It was great to meet the persons behind the Facebook avatars. I talked to David Evans, Eva Jordan, David Videcette, saw Rob Sinclair, Ross Greenwood, Malcolm Hollindrake, Peter Best, and many more. I wished I had more time to talk to them all, but it’ll have to be another time.

I spent the next few days in London and picked up my kids’ friend from Australia. They thought we were going to pick up Nana from the airport, so it was a big surprise when their friend suddenly stood in front of them 🙂 . They’re never going to trust me again… The weather was gorgeous down south (see my photo of The Shard below), but we had to travel back to drizzly Aberdeenshire again on Wednesday.

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Yesterday I read the great news that two of my short stories have made it to the shortlist of Twisted50 Vol.2. I am so excited about this! Fingers crossed they will find one good enough to become a finalist.

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I’m afraid I haven’t got a lot of memes for you this week, but they’re nice ones. Enjoy!

Fun Friday!

Hiya everybody! I hope you had a great week and are looking forward to the holidays. My kids are as today is their last day of school. I have been so terribly busy this last week. Sometimes I didn’t know where to start, I had so much to do. Didn’t finish anything I wanted, but I’m getting there. I read a great advice to beat procrastination somewhere. It said to use the five-second rule. If you think of doing something, you have five seconds to decide to do it or not. I’m amazed it worked so far! Try it yourself and be amazed at how much you can get done.

I’m very happy to say this week I met some great people online and even made a new friend (you know who you are, Funny Girl 😀 ). The internet is a wonderful thing. Where would we be without it?

So what have I been so busy with? I’ve been working on my cover these last few days. It was a fight with my daughter over the drawing tablet, and after having it for two days, I’ve given in and she’s got it again. Back to mouse drawings 🙁 . I’ve wanted to work on my prequel, but I’m afraid I haven’t had time for that at all. I really need to make time, otherwise I’ll never get it done. I have been working on my website a bit. Do you like my new header? Been helping others with their website too. I love doing that kind of stuff and I wished I had more hours in a day.

I also did my back in again and got myself a better chair. Still not used to it yet. I’m feeling a lot better now though and can move about like before. Yay!

I”m keeping this short as I have a lot to do. Lots of memes this week for you though 🙂 .

Discover Ivy Logan

I met Ivy through the One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Facebook Page. She contacted me and asked me to write a guest blog for her website about writers and technology. As I was just told by crime writer Wendy H. Jones at the creative writing workshop in Elgin ‘say yes to everything,’ I said, “Yes, of course!”

I had asked Ivy to give me a week to write the article. The next morning I was still in bed when inspiration hit me and I wrote three-quarters of the text. I had wanted to finish it two days later, but my back pain stopped me from sitting behind my computer. It actually stopped me from sitting and I spent most of the day lying in bed. Yesterday, I finally got some painkillers that worked and I was able to finish my article. I enjoyed writing it.

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The article is called ‘Do writers need to be tech-savvy?’ and you can read the full article on Ivy’s blog here.  She also has another website (this one) where you can find out more about her books and the characters in it.

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Ivy is a passionate character that likes a good laugh and lives for her storytelling. As my father took his time when tucking us girls in at night to answer our questions like ‘why does the world turn?’ and ‘how can fish breathe under water?,’ Ivy’s father would mesmerize his daughters with stories of fantastical worlds and mystic creatures (bless our fathers). She has taken all that on board and is now telling stories of her own. Have a browse on her website and find out more about this new upcoming author.

Image by Anton Ponomarev from Unsplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Anton Ponomarev

Text Neck – A Writer’s Pain?

I hadn’t heard about ‘Text Neck’ until yesterday. I have been suffering a pain in my upper back, right between my shoulder blades, for four days now. It is most painful when I look down. Not only annoying in daily life but as a writer particularly so when you want to position your fingers correctly on your keyboard or text on your mobile phone. I’ve seen a chiropractor for the problem yesterday. She mentioned one of my legs is longer than the other, loosened up my wrists, and stuck her finger in my mouth ‘to clear my sinuses.’ I left with the same pain in my back. Still in agony, I managed to see the emergency doctor at my GP clinic. ‘Take some aspirin,’ she said. I did, and my pain is still there.

I was very disappointed in these health professionals. The chiropractor didn’t do anything to relieve my pain, the GP wasn’t interested in what caused it. Holistic healthcare doesn’t seem to exist anymore. So I did some research online to find out what was causing my pain and what I could do about it. That’s when I read about ‘Text Neck.’

What is Text Neck?

Text Neck is a repetitive strain injury of the ligaments and muscles in your neck and upper back that keep your head upright. It is primarily seen in young people who use their mobile phones frequently.  People have looked down to read books in the past, but using mobile phones has added to this looking down and often for a substantially more frequent and longer period at a time.

What causes Text Neck?

As we look at our mobile phones, laptops, or tablets to connect with our social media, we look down. It’s this looking down that puts extra strain on the ligaments and muscles in our neck and upper back. Our head weighs about 5-6 kgs. Some people boast of having more brains than others, but let’s not go there now. When we tip our head forward and down, the feel of our head weight increases for our tendons and muscles. The image below gives you an indication of how heavy your head can feel to them.

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The more you let your head hang down to look at your phone, the heavier it gets. Some people get neck pain, some people (like me) get upper back pain, some people get (chronic) headaches. The pain particularly happens when you put your head in the compromising position. I must admit I use my mobile a lot. I Tweet, WhatsApp, Hangout, and use Facebook on my phone. I’ve recently been looking at Instagram too. You have to ‘spread the word of your existence and your books’ as a writer, don’t you? The worst part for me is that it affects my writing on my PC as looking down on my keyboard is extremely painful.

How can you treat Text Neck?

The first thing that needs to be done is to treat the pain and inflammation. The pain is the most common reason people seek out professional help and this should be the first thing they should treat (not stick fingers in mouths to unblock sinuses). It is best to see your GP for this.

Next, your posture should be assessed and corrected. A physiotherapist seems to be the best health professional for this. They can do the physical assessment and give you muscle strengthening, posture correcting, and stretching exercises to ease the current condition, promote healing, and to prevent it from recurring.

What you can do (as a writer) at home is the following:

  • Keep your PC screen and mobile device at eye level
  • Keep your ears above your shoulders, your shoulders above your hips when you’re sitting
  • Keep both feet on a solid surface
  • Take regular breaks from your sitting position
  • Do regular exercises to stretch and strengthen your core muscles
  • Limit your time on your mobile device
  • Learn touch typing

It is also worth noting here how sitting for long periods of time affect our bodies negatively in the long run. There are multiple articles on this topic that are interesting and they are sending out a warning to all people with sitting jobs.

So, do you still want to be a writer? 😀

 

Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional (at least, not for humans) and all my information was gathered from the internet.

Sources:

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-avoid-text-neck-overuse-syndrome

http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/text-neck

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/nov/24/text-neck-how-smartphones-damaging-our-spines

https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

 

Banner photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Clem Onojeghuo