Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who buys Indie Author books?

The publishing industry is posed to reset itself once again. Sales for all books appear to be down across the board, including some of the best sellers.

As an indie author, it is a struggle to stay afloat, to find new readers. All authors, traditional or indie, generally like to lure new readership by offering deals. A first in series book for $0.99, or a limited time offer of $1.99 to pique your interest in another book in the series to draw you in. Traditional authors are able to command $5.99 (and more!) for an ebook, which is generally in line with the cost of the paperback as well. Indie authors aren't always able to ask that same price, so you can often find them for less - an everyday bargain price.

So my question of the day: As a reader, are you less likely to by a full price book than you are a sale priced book?

It's like shopping at Kohl's. They are offering coupons and sales so often that consumers refuse to buy clothes at full price. Indie authors offer those bargain-basement prices every day. Many indie authors now offer "permafree" copies of their books, usually a first in series, to draw you in to buy more. Even that doesn't always work.

I could complain about how some authors have hit the big time with less than stellar books, but that would just be sour grapes. It's filling a niche, striking the right chord. That's what makes a break-out novel, and there's no accounting for what works today vs. what will work tomorrow. Finding just the right marketing angle/tool and just the right time. In the end, we write because we can't "not" write. And we hope that our work resonates with someone somewhere.

My personal philosophy is to stick with the bargain basement prices for authors I'm not quite so familiar with, so I understand that mentality. I'm also a penny-pinching cheapskate (said with love, of course). BUT I have no qualms about paying full price for an author I know and love - indie or otherwise.

Are people buying less books because they have less discretionary income? Are they less willing to take a chance on an author they don't know? Are their options so overwhelming they can't decide whether or not to buy? It's likely a combination of all of the above.

From this indie author, let me reassure you that authors are NOT making much of a profit. Very few of us do better than break even (and many of us don't even do that). We can't afford to offer our books for $0.99 or even $1.99 on a regular basis, and even at $3.99, our share is fairly minimal. We hold down a day job (raising my hand) in addition to doing what we love (writing), this includes some of the best sellers and well-known authors. Case in point, at on of the writing conferences I went to, I sat beside a best-selling Harlequin author who had three books coming out in one year, this in addition to holding down a full-time HR job. I asked how she managed to squeeze it all in, and her answer: "I don't watch much television."

So what makes you pick up that book? Do you stick with names you know and trust? Do you take a chance on a new author? Does the price-point influence your decision?

On behalf of my fellow authors, I leave you with a quote from an old Bartles and Jaymes  commercial: "Thanks for your support."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Getting away from it all - and a giveaway

Coming off of "busy season," my girlfriends and I do an annual getaway from it all. This year we rented a cabin (with all the amenities - I'm NOT a camper) near Starved Rock State Park (Illinois) at an old boy scout camp. Removed from civilization, we don't set any schedules, just talk and laugh and unwind. We found a mushroom festival in a neighboring town where folks went hunting for morels, but rain forestalled our hike at the park.

Relaxing by the campfire
So here we are relaxing at a "boy scout camp" when, on the last night, at dinner, the thunderstorm bounced us all out of our chairs at the kitchen table. We later discovered lightning struck a tree near the office - maybe 100 yards away from our cabin. And then, overnight, in this quiet, remote setting with limited cell phone coverage and no Wifi (unplugged made the relaxation aspect so much more achievable!), I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to men shouting. An author's imagination runs wild! How am I going to call for help with spotty cell phone service? (my girlfriends assured me 911 would go through.) No, I won't be writing a story about that experience. That trope has been done to death. (And in case you were worried about what we'd do if we were in trouble, the owner's house was probably 200 yards from our cabin, AND they had a land line at the office.)


Virtually two weeks after the deadline, I'm finally caught up with all the subsequent mess that needed cleaning up, and I'm following all the trails I've left for myself trying to keep moving ahead with the third book in the Kundigerin trilogy (breadcrumbs I leave when I run out of writing time at the end of the night).

What's the giveaway part of the subject line (you might ask)? I subscribe to a page that sends me pictures of real-life venues that spark imagination, and a picture popped up this week that nearly matched one I took myself! Which inspired me to share. If you can find the picture below on my website, tell me where you found it. I'll gift one random commenter a copy of either Gathering Mist or Heart for Rent, with an Option (which is the book I wrote after visiting this venue). Ready? Go!
Eze, France

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Are you a Booklover?

I recently teamed up with a group of mystery writers at the Booklover's Bench. We run a contest every month, and there's often a second contest on the weekly blog post page (Let's Talk).

While I'm rebalancing my life (cleaning up after the deadline and getting back into the swing of things), stop by and check out the other authors and enter for your chance to win a gift card at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, along with chances to win books from the other talented authors on the site.

I'll be back next week with provocative words of wisdom (or at least random thoughts).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When Worlds Collide

No, it's not a sci-fi reference but, in fact, life.

As you read this, I will no doubt be pulling my hair out trying to respond to unreasonable demands from people with unrealistic expectations trying to butter me up to help them meet their deadlines ahead of all the other people vying for the same goal. It's the last deadline of the season at the day job, but the corporate office isn't done with us. In a strange twist of irony, we go directly from client imposed deadlines to performance management. "So how'd you all do?" And they want that done one week from the final deadline. Some people shoot out of the pressure cooker like a bullet out of a gun, some people are struggling through the detritus left behind and some people basically give corporate the finger. As a result, performance management suffers.

But I digress.

For months, the work/life balance has been tilted precariously to one side (the work side), leaving me little time to exercise my creative side. In anticipation of the shift in balance, the characters in my newest novel (the third in the Kundigerin trilogy) have been talking to me, telling me things, demanding time. They can see that their turn is coming and they're impatient, but I am still teeter-tottering, frustrated that I don't have the uninterrupted time to spend with them. Deadlines demand additional hours--nights and weekends that might otherwise be spent writing. However, in those windows of time that are available, I have been filling pages like a madwoman.

Teeter-totter.

There is no smooth transition, worlds are colliding.

Me? I'm shooting out of the pressure cooker, but only for a quick escape. I have to do performance management for my peeps because if I don't, no one else will, but at least I will be back to a normal work schedule, which allows for writing time. The good news is you shouldn't have a long time to wait for that third book in the trilogy. I have two major plot point to work through, but Max is telling his version of what's happening, and he has a lot to say!

Next week I hope to be back to my usual cheery self. Thanks for taking time out to check in and in case you haven't done so, Booklover's Bench is running a contest where you can win Gathering Mist. Stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Brave - an illustration of conflict

When I saw Disney's Brave, throughout the movie I marveled at the brilliant illustration of conflict. The rules of fiction writing were perfectly conveyed in the shape of a bear.

Merida's (the heroine) father has an aversion to bears after they threaten his family, and later in the movie, his wife becomes a bear when Merida has a moment of teenage angst. So how can Merida protect her mother, the bear, from her father, who seeks to protect his family from the bears?

As I write the third in the Kundigerin trilogy, stories that embody spirit beasts, I knew one of the conflicts in this story would be between the heroine and Max's spirit beast. As I delve further in, the characters are telling me secrets about themselves, some of which I knew going in, and more that I didn't see coming. Since my stories are mainly romance with added extras (mystery, paranormal influences), I already know that Max's family secret is going to be a source of conflict, although attraction is a heady thing, and it might be easy to pretend his secret doesn't exist until the heroine actually witnesses it. Add in the "Brave" factor - and I'm grateful for such an excellent example to draw from.

No, I don't want to give too much away, but if you've read Gathering Mist, you know there's more to Max than meets the eye. Making that "more" something that invokes fear into my heroine's soul on an elemental level is what makes writing this story exciting. How can she overcome her fear/repulsion in order to have her happily ever after? I've never had such a clear picture of the "black moment" in a story, and it has fueled my excitement to keep writing the final installment in this trilogy (a black moment is that point in a romance where you can't see how the hero and the heroine can overcome the obstacles to their happily ever after).

And so, I'm writing. The story is pouring out as I grab whatever free moments I have until I finish the last spring deadline at the day job, and after that the real work begins. Making everything I'm spewing out readable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Plotting (vs. "Pantsing")

There are two camps of writers, plotters and pantsers (defined as people who write by the seat of their pants). I fall pretty regularly into the pantser category, and yet I know enough to pay attention when my story is getting away from me.

The rules of writing tell you that you should raise the stakes for your characters as you write. Keep them off-balance, and some authors will actually paint their characters into corners to keep the story moving. It's a good way to force us as authors to manufacture solutions to problems. For me, that process seems much easier as a pantser. As I'm writing, I think things like "what would make things more difficult for this person right here?" Usually at the end of a chapter in order to draw you forward, keep you reading.

I'm moving ahead with the final installment of my Kundigerin trilogy, and because these characters are familiar to me, I keep running into "but my readers don't know this if they haven't read the first book or two," which puts me into a situation where I have to pass along information. Without proper planning and setting, that could stop a new reader dead in their tracks. It's called info dumping. And I have to admit that the first couple of chapters of a new book are the discovery stage for me - I need to get to know the characters and their situations. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries before I know what's happening and where they're going, what their journey is. In this third installment, I know who is at the center of the story, I know what is at stake, I know basically how it's all going to play out, but I'm short on plot points. How do I get from point A to point B? What are the roadblocks?

An overall picture is generally enough for me to keep moving forward. As I write, the characters take over, tell me their story, and I (evil author that I might be) look for ways to get in their way. Thwart them, give them challenges to face. Conflicts, speed bumps, what-have-you. And this is where I'm struggling with Book 3. If I bring in the antagonist too quickly, the novel turns into a novella. If I write the main conflict in the first three chapters, the book is over.

It's time to plot.

Plotting usually comes naturally to me. When I was dating my husband, we were watching one of his favorite television shows, and one I hadn't seen often. As I was watching, I think I said something to the effect of "that guy's gonna die." And my husband was shocked. "He can't die. He's a major character in the show!" Guess what? He died. The script had been written well enough to foreshadow the event, and as a plotter myself, I could see it coming. When I'm off my game, when the plotting doesn't flow, there is a Plan B. Sit down and outline where you're going. One of my writing partners uses a story board (in fact many authors do). That way you aren't writing aimlessly, but you still have the freedom to "shake it up" in case your characters show up to point you in another direction. An outline is a road map, but that doesn't mean you only have to take the highway. You can still travel the backroads, or take a detour, as long as you're traveling in the right direction.

Book 3 is Max's story (for those of you who have read Mist on the Meadow and Gathering Mist).
He's met a talented young woman who is going to get into all kinds of difficulties and has an unreasonable fear of cats. So if you'll excuse me, I have to outline exactly what's going to happen with the two of them along their journey so they can do their part in defeating the evil demon intent on wreaking havoc with the world.

Anon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's heeerrrre!

The new book has hit the stores! I hope you all went out and bought a copy, and if you didn't, you can enter for your chance to win one at Goodreads.com. So yes, today's blog is nothing but shameless promotion, but I'm so excited! Gathering Mist is the second in the Kundigerin series -- The tension mounts!





Goodreads Book Giveaway


Gathering Mist by Karla Brandenburg

Gathering Mist

by Karla Brandenburg


Giveaway ends April 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win