Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Makes Your Book Unique

There is an interesting thread at the KindleBoards about what makes your book unique.  Here is what I wrote: 

In my case, in the fantasy genre, I try to write what piques my interest at bookstores or at online ones.

In a nutshell, for my fantasies, it's male main character(s).  The significant relationships are usually one of the following:  bromance or buddy-fic, family-pairing, or loner against a male antagonist.  This usually means little to no undercurrent of romantic relationships for the main characters.  Finally, I need weird settings, plot, and/or magic.  Sometimes the weirdness is in the background, but it still affects the rest of the novel.  Also, many times I borrow from real cultures or time periods for ideas or framework.

Goal-Setting Tips: Companion Piece to "Be Specific and Aim High"

In my last post, I mentioned the importance of being specific and aiming high in your goals.  Here are a few more tips that can help you achieve your goals:

  • Write your goal down. 
  • Give yourself a deadline.
  • Do daily affirmations.
  • Have a visual goal.

Write your goal down.  Napoleon Hill says the act of writing your goals down "crystalizes your thinking" and creates "an indelible impression in your memory" (152).

Give yourself a deadline.  Hill goes on to say that this step is important to motivation.  A deadline will "set [you] out in the direction of your goal and keep [you] moving toward it" (152).

Do daily affirmations.  According to Barbara Stanny, affirmations are "positive statements expressed if they've already happened" (102).  Work with them, saying them aloud or writing them down, keep them in sight and in mind.  This way you'll internalize them (103).

Have a visual goal.  According to a recent article on ScienceDaily, Rajesh Bagchi and Amar Cheema conducted a study on visualizing goals in abstract contexts.  They found that an easy to visualize goal is a strong motivator.  Cheema says even drawing a graph can help (Virginia Tech).

So, there you go, a few more techniques to help you achieve that specific, high goal of yours.


Goals: Be Specific and Aim High

In the book Secrets of Six-Figure Women, author Barbara Stanny believes that the
path to higher earnings is paved with decisions. [And that these decisions go much easier] when you're purposefully headed in a particular direction toward a specific destination.  Every time you act on your decisions, keeping your promise to yourself by honoring your intention, you build self-esteem. Stronger self-esteem only enhances your chances for success.  (93)
Your intentions are powerful, and so is specificity of  destination.  It keeps you moving forward.

Although this book regards women seeking high incomes, it is relevant for many people.  Because, let's face it, most of us would like to make a decent living from our work, and many of us dream of hitting it big.

So, not only do you need to be specific on your monetary goal, you shouldn't fear to aim high.  Why?  For one, according to Napoleon Hill in Success through a Positive Mental Attitude, it is just as easy to aim high as it is to aim low.  Not only that, but the higher your goal, the more concentrated your effort will be to achieve it (152).

I believe that if you set such goals, your mind automatically tries to fill in the gap between your starting point and the finish line.  Specificity focuses you far more than "a lot of  money," and the high goal drives you to work hard and be creative with the tasks and sub-goals necessary to meet your main, high one.  That is key, making mini-goals and working hard at them.  After all, this isn't wish-setting-- it's more active than that.  Wishes may come true by luck or providence, but goals need you.

So, don't be afraid to aim high, and don't be disappointed if you don't reach your goal.  Instead, learn from it and keep at it, and you'll improve your chances for next time.

  • Hill, Napoleon, and W. Clement Stone. Success through a Positive Mental Attitude. New York: Pocket Books, 1977.  Print.
  • Stanny, Barbara. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. New York: HarperBusiness, 2004. Print.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update: One Who Sees

It is official.  I have pulled One Who Sees, my mythic fantasy novella; it will not be published with Drollerie Press after all.  I have mixed feelings about it, but we parted on good terms, so there is that.  But I am behind schedule on Letters of the Dead, my first short fantasy novel that I plan to self-e-publish.  So, I cannot work on OWS yet.  It still needs one edit pass, a proof, formatting into ebook with cover, and one final look-see-over.  I hope to get it up mid-November, though.  Just as I hope to get LotD up by either Halloween or, more likely, by October 8.  I do know that when I get OWS up, I'll briefly post it for free on this blog.  Briefly meaning it should go down in January.

It's a plan, anyway.    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You-Can-Do List

I love serendipity, God's little nudges in my life.  This one came about as I was looking for something to post about today, Wednesday, and I was coming up blank.  Then, I thought of Dan Miller and I remembered how inspirational his books where.  Not only is his work uplifting, it actually inspires me.  In fact, after reading his No More Mondays book I had some out of the box thinking in regards to marketing in the like, back when I wanted to be a freelance nonfiction writer.  But I couldn't find my notes. 

So, I went online to his blog, to see if he had anything that might prompt me there.  And I found this post on excuses.  It worked like a shot of optimism, but still, no go on the post.  Back to the book.

I was flipping through it, looking for an index, and found in the back a recommendation list.  On this was a book whose name sounded familiar.  Lo and behold, in my 61 Mile Yard Sale Finds pile, I found it, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Flipping through Thinking Big, I found a cute chapter entitled "Vaccinate Yourself Against Excusitis, the Failure Disease."  And as I began to take notes on it, I discovered I suffered from it.  Pretty badly.  Then I read this:

"Had I been drilled a little more in why a small business can succeed, I'd be better off in every way today." (Schwartz 35)

This is me to a tee.  I'm a born-again optimist, but it is a struggle to get out of the swamp of negativity I surround myself in.  But that passage really struck home.  Why?

Because I rephrased it as:

Focus on why something can succeed, not why something can't.

Then I thought to myself, I know why I can't succeed as a self-published writer, but what about the reasons why I can?

And when I first asked that, I drew a blank.  It was so easy to come up with reasons why it wouldn't work, not so easy to come up reasons why it can work.  Like the book says, I'm using my intelligence in the wrong way. 

So, I asked myself again, and I came up with a tentative list.  It's a start, but sometimes that is all you need.

So, what about you?  What are the reasons why you can self-publish?

Cites:  Schwartz, David J. The Magic of Thinking Big. 1959. New York: Fireside, 1987. Print.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update: Letters of the Dead

After a sick break and pre-nano distractions, I am finally back on track with my novel, Letters of the Dead.  I hope to finish my current touch-up tomorrow, and then take a brief break to work on test formatting that novelette I was talking about.  Still haven't heard word from the e-publishers, though.  So, I don't expect to get it done for my birthday after all, but I will check up with them then.  But it will be good practice to format that piece as an ebook.  So that covers Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Friday, however, I will also resume working on LotD.  It will be a pure read-through, just to make sure it is indeed ready for the grammar pass scheduled to start this weekend.  After that, I'll use what I learned from formatting practice on the novelette and begin formatting LotD.  One last proof in that format, then it should be ready to upload on Halloween.

So, though it might be a tight deadline, I can still make it.  And I will be glad when it is done.  Just this year alone, since I decided to focus on this novel as my first ebook, I've clocked over 80 hours on its revisions.  But the novel is so much better for it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dean Wesley Smith's Creative Self-Publishing Experiment: Book Cards

Dean Wesley Smith has a neat concept for those doing self-published ebooks--a book card.  This book card includes a cover, back cover blurb, snippet, and a gift-card like piece inside (which includes a download code).  He mentioned the idea earlier on his blog, but I think this is the first time he actually did it, and he posted results too.  I find the whole concept innovative and well worth watching to see how it develops, because I really think creativity like this is going to be important to success of self-published ebooks, and maybe even ebooks in general.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

99-Cent Pricing: A Good or Bad Idea?

According to a Science Daily article, Robert Schindler, professor of marketing at Rutgers School of Business-Camden, has spent years studying this marketing strategy, and he says that people pay more attention to the leftmost digits in prices.  There is a larger perceived price difference between just-below pricing like $19.99 and $24.99 than when it is between round pricing like $20.00 and $25.00.  So, consumers feel they are getting a bargain.  However, this just-below pricing may be tied to low or questionable quality in the consumer's mind.  For instance, when it comes to luxury goods, most people are concerned with quality over price.  So, when it comes to luxury goods it may be best to avoid the just-below pricing (Rutgers University).

The question then is where does a fiction ebook fit?  Should it be priced at $1.00 instead of 99 cents?  And how will your round pricing hold up against the just-below pricing? 

The answer might be in an older article at Science Daily, in which a price comparison experiment was conducted by Kenneth C. Manning and David E. Sprott.  When two pens were priced at $1.99 and $4.00, only 18% of participants selected the $4.00 pen.  There was a larger perceived price difference when comparing the cheaper, just-below price and the larger round price.  However, when the prices were $2.00 and $3.99, 44% of the participants chose the $3.99 pen.   The difference between $1.99 and $4.00 is $2.01.  Between $3.99 and $2.00?  $1.99 (University of Chicago Press Journals).  Only a couple pennies difference, but the perceived difference was much greater than two pennies worth.

It sounds like an interesting experiment.  I'll have to do some more research into the vendor's side of it, but it might be worth it to try pricing ebooks with round numbers.  Though, I don't think it matters at the $1.00/99 cent pricing level, because cheap is cheap.  But what about above the one-dollar level?  Is it better to price at $3.99 or $4.00, for instance?  How much difference will that one penny have on your readers?


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Deliberate Practice and Successful People

 Water The Bamboo: Unleashing The Potential Of Teams And Individuals

I was going to write on an entirely different topic today, but I came across a book at the 61 Mile Yardsale entitled Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals by Greg Bell.  I picked up the slender paperback with the attractive cover on Friday, but on Monday, I randomly opened it to see if it were something I wanted to read that day, and I came across the name Ericsson (the same from Ericsson from Gladwell's Outliers), the words "deliberate practice," the Ten-Year Rule (or according to Outliers, the 10,000-hour one), and the belief that successful people are born, not made (Bell 101-102).

As I'm not one to ignore serendipitous nudges such as these, today's topic will expand on my last one about it taking 10,000 hours to becoming a star in the writing field--or a master, as Bell's book entitles such people.  Commentors on my last post had heard of this theory, and they brought up the very important point that isn't just practice, but deliberate practice that is the foundation beneath the 10,000-hours/10-years rule.  Deliberate practice is systematic, "designed to improve performance.  It pushes you beyond your comfort zone, provides feedback on outcomes, and involves lots of repetition" (Bell 101).  But this practice is not just sheer repetition.  Rather, it involves "working on an aspect of the skill you want that's a little bit outside of what you already know" (102).  In other words, it is pushing yourself and your boundaries, deliberately and steadily.

How can you do this?  Well, Water the Bamboo brings up three ways.  They include putting in the hours of deliberate practice, practicing on something outside your comfort zone, and working with a coach who mastered the skills you want and who can give you specific feedback on how to improve (Bell 102).

This isn't exactly new to writers.  After all, haven't published writers, agents, editors, and et al. been saying to keep working on your skills to grow them?  To push outside your comfort zones?  To get outside opinions on your work?

But what do you think on all this?  About the nature of success?  About pushing yourself?  About feedback?  And if you do agree with some of this idea, what do you do for deliberate practice?  What areas are you pushing at?  What are you doing with your feedback?

Cite: Bell, Greg. Water the Bamboo: Unleashing the Potential of Teams and Individuals. Portland: Three Star Publishing, 2009.  Print.

Update: The One Who Sees

Due to unfortunate circumstances, The One Who Sees will not be published with Drollerie Press.  Yesterday, I had to email them about cancelling the contract I have with them.  I believe in signs, the novelette wasn't going to be ready to publish by its two year anniversary of acceptance/contract signing, and so I think God was telling me to move on.  I'm going to give it a week, and if I don't hear back, I'll try another contact at the publishers.  But I hope to make this my first self-published work.  In fact, I would like to try an experiment and post it for free on my blog while I work on getting it uploaded, and then leave it up for a while in celebration of my first successful upload.  My goal date?  My birthday, Sept 25.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mother Goose is Dead Anthology (Ebook version) is Now up for Sale

The ebook version is live now, on its own page at Damnation Books.  Right now the price is marked down from $6.95 to 75 cents a variable discount that changes, but that is only for the first 24 hours, which started at midnight Wednesday.  So far, from the proof copy, it looks great, full of interesting reads spanning over 112,692 words.  Wow :-)

Anyway, a print version is coming and so are ebooks on the different vendor sites like Kindle and B&N (and more).

Enjoy all.