writing advice, YA Author Club

Word Count Madness

YA Indie CarnivalMany first time authors struggle with word count. How long should my novel be to get published? Is my novel too long? Is it too short? What the heck is a novella and what’s the difference between that and a short story? If you’re an indie author, does it even matter?

Excellent questions. The YA Indie Carnival decided to tackle this confusing topic this week in our Indie Author Series. When I was starting out, I didn’t even know it mattered. Seriously! I had no clue about things like word count and publishing industry standards. Why would it matter how long a book is? Well, like most things, it’s all about the money. Word count in the publishing world affects both the cost of the book to print, and it’s likeliness to be sold to readers. I won’t go into too much detail on this topic because my fellow indie author club member, Bryna Butler, has already covered the basics in her article Do Word Counts Count?

I’ll tell you that I really struggle to get a book over the 60K mark. My stories tend to be action packed and fast paced. My editor always turns in a stack of notes on where I can expand scenes instead of the standard cut and slash method most authors have to endure. In real life I’m obnoxiously verbose, but in my writing I tend to race from one plot point to another. That keeps my word count down. The day I finish a book above 100K, I’ll be calling it “epic” whether it deserves the title or not!

In my opinion, this is just one of the many fabulous reasons I call myself an indie author. I don’t have to worry too much about word count. I get to tell my story, mold it and sculpt it into something I can proudly share with all of you, and then set it free. I don’t have to worry about whether it is meeting some marketing team’s standard, or the printing budget. I know authors who are traditionally published sitting at their desks right now trying to find an extra 30,000 words to cram into their story or a sum of 50,000 to tear out just to meet that industry standard for a publisher. In the end I think the reader suffers most because we don’t see the story as it was meant to be. What a shame that we let business people determine how our stories are crafted. At least if it is a professional editor, we can trust that they care about the integrity of the story, but what does a CEO or a financial team know about our stories? They’re job is to watch that bottom dollar.

Let me tell you how indies are using this freedom to do incredible things for readers in this modern age. We’re seeing the resurgence of the short story and the serial novel in the literary world thanks to indie authors around the globe. With ebooks, authors can share their work so easily, that a reader can now get shorts without having to buy an anthology or search through literary magazines to find them. Some of my favorite authors are even including short stories in their marketing plans these days, fitting them in between their longer novels in a series. For instance, Aaron Pogue has published several short stories to go along with his Taming Fire series, including back story and short stories to give more detail into side characters from the series. As a reader, I love this concept! If I’m engrossed in a world of characters, you can bet I want more of it! This is an area I think I’ll be dabbling in this year as I fill in the missing years between Seen and Wandering in The Wanderer Series.

Another concept I’ve been watching is the use of the serial novel in the ebook world. Once upon a time many of the world’s best stories were written this way and published in local newspapers or magazines. Now we’re seeing this traditional form of story telling reemerge. Wool was crazy successful from author Hugh Howey, netting the author millions of dollars and a ground-breaking publishing contract. Now my friend, author Susan Kaye Quinn, has created her own incredible serial titled The Debt Collector. I’ve been watching her progress very closely as I consider how I might use that model in my own work. She’s set a crazy pace, releasing a new episode in the series every few weeks! Wow! I’m not sure I could keep up with that pace, but I’m inspired to look at my list of future writing plans and see what might work best as a serial. I especially like the value this offers both to the reader and to the writer. Readers can catch smaller chunks of a story at a low price or choose to purchase the entire series for a discount. It’s amazing how this old form is making a new comeback on the modern stage.

What do you think? Does word count matter in this modern age and in the indie publishing scene? What trends are you seeing? Do you have a word count preference? Let us know what you think and then check out the opinions of other indie authors in our YA author club.

Take a few minutes to hop around to the authors’ sites and find out their preferences as well as their rationale behind them.
1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights
Indie Authors, inspiration, writing advice

Author Inspired: S.R. Johannes

Happy Monday, readers! This morning we have a fabulous treat for all of you joining us for the Uncontrollable Blog Tour. S.R. Johannes is sharing  some fabulous insight and advice for the writers among us. So, without further ado, here’s the good stuff:

Writing is hard. (duh right?!)

I never thought that until I started. All you need is love to GET started. But, if you want to stand out you need more, you need to study the craft and be a sponge for learning. Jump in. There are so many online workshops, conferences, and books. Join critique groups, get critiques, and soak up whatever feedback you can’t. Do it all. You can only get better. You can never learn too much.

That is one thing about me. When I jump in I immerse myself and like a sponge soak up what I can.

I have not always been writing fiction, but I have always written. I’ve been a copywriter for over 15 years writing marketing copy for various products. I didn’t start writing fiction until my daughter was born and I actually had time off to play around. Studying my craft, getting critiques, and joining SCBWI were the best things for me and helped moved me forward as a writer.

If I could go back, I think I would have gotten an MFA instead of a MBA. Since I can’t, I have to find other ways to learn and grow.

The biggest thing I have learned during my last 8 years of frustrations, queries, rejections, agent representation, acquisitions, revisions – is that – if you get rejected or don’t sell your book, it DOES NOT mean your book is not good enough. Publishers and agents look for what is “marketable” and what they think will “sell”. It doesn’t mean your work is not great or sellable. I never realized this until this last year and I wish I knew it sooner because it would have saved me a lot of tears.

I hung my talent on every rejection and every no. I took feedback to heart and kept telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I beat myself up every time a no came across my desk. It wasn’t until I let all that go and had faith that my book was where it needed to be – that I realized I was good enough and was actually better than I thought.

I fretted over pieces and parts of Untraceable for so long only to find out those pieces are what readers love about Untraceable.  Who knew? So try to have confidence in your work to keep going or else it can paralyze you. Take criticisms as opportunities to get better not as roadblocks to your success.

Find out what you love and what you are good at and go for it. Get to be the best at it. Do one genre awesome. I am good at thrillers. I could probably write other stuff but it is not my strength so why force it? I love thrillers and they work well for me.

But most importantly, don’t give up! Keep plugging along and eventually you will find your way.

Now, it may not be the way you had planned or envisioned, but you will find your own way when you are supposed to.

Happy writing!

 

Uncontrollable is coming soon! If you haven’t read Untraceable, grab your FREE copy today & catch up on all the excitement. Now we want to hear from all of you: What issues keep you paralyzed, unable to finish or publish your work? What inspires you to push ahead and keep trying? Please leave us a comment.

Friday, Indie Authors, Roger Eschbacher, Writing, writing advice

Ask an Author: Roger Eschbacher

Ask an Author by Roger Eschbacher

Hey you guys! My name is Roger Eschbacher and I write cartoons for a living. These days I’m working on two shows – The Littlest Pet Shop and Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated. I have a lot of fun writing animation, but I have even more fun writing books for kids. I’m a published picture book author and just this past fall I published my first middle-grade fantasy novel, Dragonfriend.

Over the years I’ve been asked to do signings and readings at book fairs, book stores, and in classrooms. When I’m finished reading from my books, I’ll take questions from kids in the audience. Here are three of the more popular ones –

Q: I want to be an author. How do I get started?

A: Before you become a writer, you need to be a reader; a hardcore reader. Reading needs to become one of the things you like to do as much as playing video games, riding your bike, or baking cookies. I call this kind of reading “pleasure reading” as opposed to the kind of reading you have to do in school. When I was a kid, I was seldom seen without a book. I loved reading then and I love reading now. Without exception, every author that I’ve ever met or read about is an avid reader who both loves books and reads for fun. They’ve been this way ever since they were kids, too.

Why is it important to be a hardcore reader before you’re a writer? Because you learn how to write your stories by reading how skilled authors write their stories. You learn what good dialogue looks like because you read books where you like what the characters are saying and how they are saying it. You learn how to describe a location or an action sequence because you read books that do this so well it’s almost like having a movie playing in your head. You learn what you like to read and why you like to read it and after a while you develop the confidence necessary to give writing a try yourself. It’s as simple as that. Not all readers become authors, but all authors are readers.

Q: Do you make a lot of money writing books?

A: Some authors make a lot of money, most do not. While I would certainly like to have the kind of success that J.K. Rowling has experienced, that’s not the reason why I write books. I do it because I have no choice. My head is full of all kinds of stories and the only way I can get them out of there is to write them down. I love to write and I love the idea that people out there, total strangers, will read my stories and, hopefully, enjoy them. That’s what keeps me writing despite the fact that I can’t afford a castle in Scotland. Not yet, anyway.

Q: Books (novels) are long! I don’t think I could ever write anything that big. How do you do it?

A: You’re right. Books, especially novels, can be very long. The way I handle the writing of a novel is to be organized and disciplined. Once I come up with an idea that sounds fun, I write a one or two page outline. I don’t go crazy into detail, just some descriptive paragraphs that help me figure out the beginning, middle, and end of the story. I list characters that come to mind and interesting settings in these paragraphs, too. These are notes to myself about what I want to write.

Then, I divide the outline up into chapters (usually 20-25). I’ll have a paragraph or so of description in each of these chapters. If this is sounding complicated to you, it really isn’t. By breaking a big thing like a novel into smaller, manageable bits, it makes it easier to give yourself permission to start writing. Writing little bits at a time isn’t as scary as the idea of writing a full novel. Everyone can write little bits.

When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to know everything about being an author or how to write a book. You just need to be brave and start writing. You’ll learn by doing, by figuring out what works and what doesn’t work as you go along. It’s okay to make mistakes. If you learn from them, mistakes help you to get better.

Then, I start writing. The way I motivate myself is by setting word count goals. My every day, non-deadline goal is 1000 words a day. This sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. A thousand words usually works out to around four double-spaced pages (I use MS Word). You could choose a smaller goal of fifty or one hundred words a day and still make some very good progress.

In a recent interview with famous author Stephen King, famous author Neil Gaiman summed it up nicely:
“I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King’s book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you’d have a novel. It was immensely reassuring – suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it’s how I’ve written books I haven’t had the time to write, like my children’s novel Coraline.”

In short, if you write enough little bits, you can eventually string them all together and end up with a big old honkin’ book. That’s how I tricked myself into writing my first novel.

You can find out more about Roger Eschbacher and his books at his website, TheNovelProject.com

 

Free book giveaway, Friday, Indie Authors, Sarah Treu, writing advice

>Free Book Friday

>This week I was delighted to share with all of you one of my youngest daughter’s favorite books, Investigator Anne.  Today we have the pleasure of hearing from the author and illustrator, Sarah Treu.   

Hi everyone!

I’m so glad I have the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about writing. I am an author and illustrator of children’s books. I do all of the writing and create all of the pictures for my books. I have written and illustrated a variety of books, from preschool picture books to the early level chapter book series that my husband and I are currently working on. The series, “Investigator Anne,” is about a young girl who solves mysteries around her town. She enlists the help of her siblings and friends who are known as the Gumshoe Crew. In each mystery, the crew makes discoveries about the world around them and learns scientific principles. With a little creativity and team work, they solve exciting mysteries in their own neighborhood.

My husband, Mark, and I both love to write. We write for fun and draw our inspiration
from the experiences we have in our own world. We have five amazing young kids and
they provide us with a lot of inspiration and ideas. They even give us feedback from time
to time. Feedback from kids is important when you are writing for children!

My husband and I started daydreaming about this series a few years ago when our oldest daughter, Anne, became very interested in science, learning and discovery. She was always the one we would ask to help when a ballet slipper needed to be found, or when someone wanted to know what kind of animal prints were in the backyard.

Mark and I love to travel and take family road trips. Many times we will brainstorm story ideas while we drive, and I’ll jot down notes. Later we’ll organize the plot development and begin the first draft of writing. I usually do that. Once the first draft is written, Mark will go through it and write, rewrite, and refine. One of the most important things to know about writing is this simple rule: There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. So we rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite. Once the
story is at a good finishing point, I create the illustrations and format the book. We’ll
then send it to an editor for a final look. Once the book is complete, we self-publish it
through our publishing name, Angel Street Kids Books. You can find all of our books on
Barnes&Noble.com.

Investigator Anne continues to be in the Barnes & Noble top 10 for its age category. I’m
honored to have it be featured right next to the Magic Tree house and the Flat Stanley
books. I am so thrilled when kids write to me to say how much they have enjoyed my
books. I hope you enjoy them too!

Writing and illustrating a book is a big project, but the key is to just do it. Sometimes the
hardest part is just getting started because maybe you’re not sure exactly where to begin.
My recommendation is to just start writing down all of your ideas and then organize
them. Write some more, then write and rewrite. It will come together, just keep going.

Another thing I’ve found is that writing doesn’t just happen at the computer. I write from
what I observe in the world around me. I write in my head and I draw in my head too.
I begin to see things as stories and pictures and pages in a book inside my head before
they are ever in a real book. The ideas form in my head while I’m watching my kids at
the park, when I’m on a bike ride, or when I’m doing anything else. Keep writing even
when you don’t have a pencil, and then when you do get a hold of a pencil write down
everything! My own daughter loves to write in her head too. Once when I told her to
practice the piano, she replied in third person: “Okay, she said sighing.” LOL! Now
that’s a girl who’s always writing a story.

Writing is fun! If it gets stressful, take a break and go for a run or go dig in the sandbox
for a while. But whatever you do, don’t give up, go back to your writing again. You will
feel great satisfaction by completing a writing piece and making it the very best that you
can. Happy writing!

Your friend,
Sarah Treu

***Want to win Sarah’s books for FREE?  Just leave a comment below.  The winner will be announced on Monday and will recieve a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  If you are coming to us from Facebook, you will have to leave the Facebook app and come back to us from your browser in order to post a comment.  Be a good friend and share this with your book-loving pals.***