Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to get over writer's block


With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starting tomorrow, here's an excerpt from How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever, on sale now!

Rule #34: You don’t have “writer’s block”

The most important thing you need to know about writer’s block is this: it doesn’t exist.

Seriously. Writer’s block does not exist. It is not a worm that suddenly lodges itself in your brain, it is not a mysterious goblin that sneaks up on you and poisons you with an anti-writing serum, and it is not something that you need to fear coming down with.

Now, when I say writer’s block doesn’t exist, I don’t mean that you will never have the feeling associated with writer’s block or that people who say they have writer’s block are big fakers. I’ve felt the feeling! I’ve been there.

But when people encounter the phenomenon otherwise known as “writer’s block,” what they are really describing is one thing and one thing only: writing stopped being fun.

That’s it. That’s all it means. The writing process stopped being easy and the words were no longer flowing as readily as they were in the beginning. Writing, in other words, just got really, ridiculously hard.

Writer’s block is what happens when novels stop being polite and start getting real. The Real World: Writing!

But remember: it’s a feeling. It is not something that will stop you from finishing, nor is it something that you have to give into because it’s inevitable. You can’t treat it like a virus that will pass in time if you just wait it out. You must seek a cure.

There are ways of dealing with “writer’s block,” and they all have one thing in common: work. Here are the strategies that will help:

Figure out the problem you need to solve
Chances are you will, at some point, feel completely and utterly stuck. This isn’t writer’s block (which, again, doesn’t exist). You’re just stuck.

It’s completely frustrating. And this is okay. There are going to be setbacks. Don’t stress yourself out thinking that everything should always be easy.

Instead of focusing on your exasperation with your own writing abilities, it’s eminently important to figure out why you’re stuck. Does something in particular need to happen in your story that is stymieing you? Do you need to figure out how characters get from Point A to Point B? Is something just not feeling right, and so you need to go back and fix some things leading up to the sticky spot? Has a plot thread gone astray?

The first step to getting unstuck is understanding the problem you need to solve. Once you’ve identified the main issue, the solution is just around the corner. You might not know what to do immediately, and your brain might need to work itself toward the solution, but knowing the problem is a crucial nudge toward writing again.

Go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine

Once you have a general sense of the problem at hand and what you need to accomplish, it’s okay to take a break. Give your brain a breather, get some Vitamin D, stare at some flowers, and ponder how in the world you ended up writing a novel and how maybe it would’ve been simpler to take up gardening instead.

Changing your location and experiencing some peace and quiet can help dislodge the clog in your brain. Find as much nature as you can, depending on where you live. Trees and grass and oxygen are magic.

Exercise

Get the blood flowing. Lift some weights. Punch a punching bag. Really punch that bag stupid novel argh *#&%@.

You’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll have while exercising.

And not only this, but, as I’m sure you know, the brain is part of the body, so you might want to keep the whole enterprise healthy. You’ll be happier and more creative if you spend time getting your heart rate up.

Whenever I was stuck with the Jacob Wonderbar series, I headed straight to the gym. The problems had often been solved by the time I got back to my apartment.

Force yourself to stare at a blank screen until you think of something

This is the ripping-the-bandaid-off approach to dealing with writer’s block. It is painful but utterly effective.

Turn off your Internet connection and cell phone. Close the blinds. Hide the TV remote. Lock the doors.

Open up your novel. And stare stare stare at the blinking cursor.

This is my absolute favorite technique for dealing with the affliction formerly known as writer’s block. You just power through.

It is absolutely agonizing to stare at a blank screen and a blinking cursor. It can inspire feelings of panic and despair. You may start wondering if you’ll ever think of another idea again. You may start to wonder if the blinking cursor was originally invented as a torture device.

But then, after ten minutes or more of staring at the blinking cursor of death, you’ll eventually start to calm down. You’ll do the only thing you can do in a quiet, Internet-less room with nothing else to occupy your attention: you will start thinking of ideas. If you concentrate and don’t let the feeling overpower you, you’ll eventually come up with something that will get you out of the writing block hole.

It may take minutes, or it may take hours. It may be the most agonizing few hours of your creative life, or you may be surprised at how quickly you get going.

But here’s what happens after you’ve overcome your blockage and you get back into the flow: you’ll be so euphoric that you’re back on track that it will start feeling fun again.

You’ll realize that the whole writing block thing never existed in the first place.

Read the rest of How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever. On sale for just $4.99 at:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBooks
B&N Nook
Kobo
Smashwords






Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to find a writing style that works for you


With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) just days away, here's an excerpt from How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever, on sale now!

Rule #3: Find the writing style that works for you

I’ve always been fascinated by other writers’ creative processes. When I first decided I wanted to be a writer, I studied. I observed. I felt that if only I could divine some common thread in the creative lives of the writers I admired, I would then be able to emulate these individuals and be as good as they were.

Going to an Ivy League school and marrying a socialite worked for Fitzgerald, but should I do that?

Volunteering for wars in exotic locales worked for Hemingway, but should I do that?

Drinking and drugging themselves into oblivion worked for most of the writers of the Western canon . . . but do I really have to do that?

Even apart from biography, I delved into the writing process itself. Did they lock themselves in a room? Did they outline? Did they write stream of consciousness?

How did they do it?

Then, after college, I had the good fortune of working for a literary agency, where I had the opportunity to closely observe the habits of some incredibly successful writers, many of whom I had admired since childhood.

And I discovered this: there is no single way to write a novel. There’s not much of a common thread that links great writers. The only thing they have in common is that they somehow, at the end of the day, find a way to get the words onto the page.

Yes, this may seem like odd wisdom in a book that claims to tell you how to write a novel, but it’s true. There isn’t one way to write a novel. There isn’t a formula.

Now, before you scurry for a refund and write a nasty review, please trust that this guide will most definitely help to steer you in the right direction. I will help you avoid the pitfalls, and I will help you channel your innate tree-killing thirst, you ritual destroyer of trees at the altar of books.

But you have to figure out how you write best.

Po Bronson writes in a closet. Hemingway wrote standing up. Vikram Seth once told me he traveled to India and intentionally stayed on U.S. time because the disorientation of jet lag helped his creativity.

Are you an outliner? Are you a seat-of-the-pantser? Do you need peace and quiet? Noise? Do you need to write in a cafe? Would you rather work in a closet? Do you want to write on a computer? A typewriter? Pen and ink? Do you want to write quickly and revise a thousand times? Write a near-perfect first draft slowly? Do you want to write every day? Only on weekends? Do you want to stay up late and burn through fifty pages? Do you want to write during the daylight hours and agonize over five words at a time?

It’s all completely up to you. There are no common threads shared by great writers other than hard work and talent.

Even the ages at which authors become awesome varies tremendously. Some start young and flame out. Some people arrive at writing late. Some start young and work at it for years before achieving a breakthrough.

I hope you are absorbing the enormous freedom presented in this chapter. Let me say it again: there is no single way to write a novel. You don’t have to be constrained by the styles of other people. Don’t let other writers get in your head, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

You don’t have to force yourself to outline if you don’t want to. You don’t have to write every day. (You hear me? You don’t have to write every day. I certainly don’t.) You don’t have to love every moment of writing. You don’t have to find it all agonizing drudgery, either.

You just have to be yourself and find what works for you.

All that being said, it is beneficial to be aware of what kind of writer you are because it will allow you to develop a writing rhythm, which will help you feel normal and comfortable, and it will help you to better enforce this rhythm when your attention starts to wander. Whatever style you adopt, you must be diligent and productive.

While everyone is different, every writer falls somewhere on the spectrum between total planners and total improvisers.

The planners outline, plot everything in advance, choose their words carefully, and tend to write a little slow. They go into the writing process with a pretty clear idea of where they’re going. But when they’re finished, they usually (but not always) have less revision time waiting for them.

The improvisers go in blind, let their instincts guide them, move through quickly, and might not even know where their novel is going until page fifty. They write and write and write until they find the story, and the mere notion of planning everything would stunt their creativity. When they’re finished with a draft, they usually (but not always) have a lot of work to do, as they must go back, rewrite everything, and stitch it all back together.

A lot of people are somewhere in the middle. And everyone is doing just fine.

So if you’re a planner, just know that it’s okay if you move slowly. It’s okay that you feel as if you’re plodding along, even if your improviser friends have written whole novels while taking a bath.

If you’re an improviser, just know that it’s okay if you don’t know exactly where things are going all the time. It’s okay to write in terrific bursts of energy and just get it all on the page, even if it doesn’t all make sense or fit together at first. You can trust that you’ll figure it all out.

Don’t let other people control your writing style or make you feel inferior because of the way you go about it.

As long as you’re getting words on the page, you’re doing just fine.

Read the rest of How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever. On sale for just $4.99 at:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBooks (coming soon!)
B&N Nook
Kobo
Smashwords






Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to choose an idea for a novel


With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) just days away, here's an excerpt from How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever, on sale now!

Rule #2: Think of an idea you love enough to neglect everything else you enjoy in life

The first step in writing a novel is deciding what in the heck you’re going to write about.

There are many horrible reasons for choosing what you’re going to write about, and only one correct reason.

The horrible reasons are almost always variations of one basic and colossal mistake, which is that you are choosing a particular idea because you think it will make you mountains of money.

Visions of endless mahogany bookshelves, of sparkling blingety bling, and of being featured in the New York Times Book Review with the headline “Wunderkind” motivates writers to do many ill-advised things, but perhaps the worst is when they cause writers to chase trends. Take this one to heart: if you’re chasing a trend (vampires! post-apocalyptic!), you’re already too late. (See Rule #7, if you are feeling particularly stubborn on this point.)

Avarice is what motivates people to write in genres they don’t particularly like. It pushes them to choose ideas that they don’t love enough to make it all the way through the writing of the novel. It’s what makes an already difficult process completely impossible.

Let’s get this out of the way: you’re not going to make mountains of money writing books. You’re not. You’re really, really not.

Okay. Well. Some of you will make mountains of money, but you’re most certainly not going to make mountains of money if you are setting out to try and make mountains of money.

The only reason for choosing something to write about is because you love the crap out of the idea.

When you’re choosing an idea for a novel, you’re choosing something you are going to be spending more time with than many of your best friends and your most demanding family members. You’re choosing an idea that will render your bathing habits irregular and your sanity patchy. You’re making a terrifically important decision that will shape the next six months to seventeen years of your life. You have to choose wisely.

In other words, it can’t be an idea you merely like.

Liking an idea will get you to page fifty. It will give you an initial burst of enthusiasm— a dawning feeling of “Hemingway’s daiquiri, I can do this!”—before you inevitably lose interest, your attention wanders, and you find yourself with an unfinished novel that you feel vaguely embarrassed about.

Liking is not enough.

You have to love the idea of your novel. Or if not your plot idea, then your main character, your setting, or some part of your novel that will sustain you through painful bouts of self-doubt and distraction.

How do you get to love?

Well, it’s tricky. Here are some ways not to choose your idea:

Don’t listen to what other people say you should write about 
It has become a fashionable conversational crutch to reward a particularly funny or gruesome anecdote, such as a harrowing encounter with baggage claim or an apocalyptic string of bad dates, with the words, “OMG, you should totally write a book about that.”

Do not listen to these people. Unless the person telling you to “write a book about that” is a publishing professional, assume the person uttering these words is merely being polite and is not looking out for your best writerly interests.

Do not write the novel you think you should write
Maybe you grew up in an interesting locale. Maybe you’ve had a Dickensian biography. Maybe your ability to dress kittens in capes is hailed far and wide.

Set it aside. You’re not going to get to your best idea by marking off checklists or by applying an algebraic equation to your life that goes, “I experienced X and it was rather intense, so therefore I will use it as inspiration to write about Y.”

That’s not to say that your real life can’t influence your central idea and the contents of your novel. After all, what is the point of writing a novel if not to settle old grudges by taking veiled swipes at people who have wronged you? But, it’s important to stop yourself from chasing after an idea by shaking your biography like a piggy bank to see what shiny things fall out. If this happens naturally, and you love an idea that is based on your own life, then absolutely go for it. Just don’t do it out of a sense of obligation or because it is the default choice when you fail to think of something else.

You’re not going to find your idea with a formula, and it’s not going to be immediately self-evident. It has to come to you.

Do not try to think of an idea so unbelievably original it has never even remotely been thought of before
I get it. You don’t want to imitate. You want to chart new ground and be the most brilliantly original new-thinking writer the literature world has ever seen.

Good luck.

Sure, maybe you’re a once-in-a-generation visionary who can conceive of whole genres that have somehow eluded the billions of people who have lived on this planet before you.

But you’re probably not. No offense.

Besides, even if completely new ideas weren’t logistically borderline impossible, they are also highly overrated. There were wizard schools before Harry Potter. There were mystical lands before The Lord of the Rings. There were helicopters with dorky names before Fifty Shades of Grey.

You don’t need to chase the trends that are already out there, but neither do you need a completely off-the-wall and unheard-of new idea that will astound everyone you meet. You do need a unique spin and a unique world that are completely yours.

Just don’t paralyze yourself by trying to break every mold.


So how do you get to the right idea?

By listening to yourself. By keeping the thought in the back of your head that you’re waiting for a really good idea for a novel. By eavesdropping on the people around you to see what inspires you. By letting your mind wander in the shower. By silently thinking, night and day, that you want to write a novel and that you are merely waiting for the right idea.

As you do this, you’re priming your brain for inspiration. You’re opening yourself up to the world so that the right plot hook or character will flow into you. With every insight you have and every life realization you make, ask yourself: Could this make a novel? Is there something here?

And 99.9% of the time the answer will be, “No, you idiot, that would make a horrendous novel.”

Keep asking. You only need that answer to be “yes” just once.

Along the way, you will likely have many false starts and hollow loves. You might not find your idea on the first try. You might start and stop writing a few novels, and you’ll start to wonder if you have commitment issues.

Don’t worry. This is not evidence of your inability to write a novel any more than that apocalyptic string of dates was evidence that you are unfit for marriage. You just have to keep at it.

When you do find the right idea, you’ll know it. You’ll just know. It will beat you over the head with its rightness and make you feel like you’re skipping through a tulip field while hugging a puppy, because you will have finally found an idea you love enough to turn into a novel.

You may still wonder whether you have enough talent, whether you can really do it, whether you can find the time or whether you will ever get anyone to read it, but your faith in your novel will be unshakeable. And then you can get started writing it.

Does this process sound daunting? Well, buckle up, champ. This was the easy part.

Read the rest of How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever. On sale for just $4.99 at:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBooks
B&N Nook
Kobo
Smashwords






Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel That You Will Love Forever


The most important thing to know about writing a novel is this: You can do it. And if you've already written one, you can write an even better one. Here are my secrets for creating killer plots, fleshing out your first ideas, crafting compelling characters, and staying sane in the process.

I'm extremely psyched that New York Times bestselling author Ransom Riggs said this is "The best how-to-write-a-novel book I've read."

The e-book is on sale now for just $4.99 at:

Amazon Kindle
Apple iBooks
B&N Nook
Kobo
Smashwords

The print edition is on sale for just $11.99 at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
CreateSpace

Also, How to Write a Novel is enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Matchbook program, so if you buy the print edition you can get the Kindle e-book for $1.99.

In case you don't take my word on this one:

"In his 47 brilliant rules, Nathan Bransford has nailed everything I've always wanted to tell people about writing a book but never knew how. Wonderfully thought out with lots of practical examples, this is a must-read for anyone brave enough to try their hand at a novel. It's also a great review for experienced writers. Highly recommended."
- James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER

"Nathan Bransford's primer is full of thoughtful, time-proven advice on how to write a novel. Nathan can sound both like a reassuring friend and a tough, no-nonsense coach. Whatever kind of novel you're writing, Nathan's insights will make you think about your process and help you find your own way to success."
- Jeff Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of DOWNFALL

"Nathan Bransford is sharp, thoughtful, and a must-read for all aspiring authors. His advice is not only funny and insightful, it's essential for writers at any stage in their careers."
- Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of SHATTER ME

Nathan Bransford's book on how to write a novel is smart, generous and funny as hell. Read it. No matter where you are in your writing life, whether you're on your first book or are a grizzled, multi published veteran, you'll find practical advice to help you through the process -- and plenty of wisdom to inspire you along the journey.
- Lisa Brackmann, author of ROCK PAPER TIGER

Equal parts encouraging and butt-kicking, hilarious and wise, Nathan Bransford's no-nonsense manifesto talks you through the process of getting the book of your dreams out of your head and onto the page. Whether you've been writing for five minutes or fifty years, this is the guide for you.
- Sarah McCarry, author of ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS


Thanks so much to Christine Pride and Bryan Russell for their astute editing, Mari Sheibley for the cover design, and D. Robert Pease for the interior formatting.

Most importantly, thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on this blog and making this whole thing possible and so much fun. You guys are the best.

Woohoo!






Friday, October 25, 2013

Guide to Writing a Novel: On sale very soon!


It's almost here! 

My guide to writing a novel is officially launching on Monday. It's over a year in the making (or almost 7 years if you count the blog as a whole), and I've had a ton of fun throughout the process. Going into the self-publishing process I wasn't sure if I would enjoy all that extra work of finding my own editors and cover and working out the interior formatting, but it's been a blast. 

More to come on Monday. Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek at the first chapter:

Rule #1: BELIEVE!

The first thing you need to know about writing a novel is this: you can do it.

No, really. You can. Lesser people than you have written a novel. I’m not saying they were all good, but they did it. You can, too! And if you read this book, and apply the rules and advice herein, it will probably be pretty good!

I spent eight years reading slush as a literary agent at a century-old agency, so I can say this with authority: you can’t possibly go and write the worst novel ever written. It’s already been done. Don’t even try.

You probably shouldn’t try to write the best novel ever written either, because the resulting paralysis will turn you into a miserable alcoholic.

Instead, write the novel you want to write. Strive for quality, write something you love, and don’t become a brooding, cafe-squatting malcontent that people avoid at parties. You will learn a lot from the writing journey, you will be thankful you have written a novel once you’re finished, and humanity may thank you for shutting yourself inside long enough to write something that brings meaning and entertainment to the world.

You can do this.

Proof: I did it! I once harbored major doubts about whether I could really write a novel. Then I went and wrote one, and it didn’t get published; then, I really doubted whether I could write a novel. But I had another idea, I wrote a new novel, I found an agent, and the end result was the Jacob Wonderbar series. What’s more, I wrote it while maintaining a more-than-full-time job. I didn’t even get fired.

If I can do it, you can do it. But you have to want it.

There will come a time in the course of writing a novel where you would rather rip off your toenails and light them on fire than write one more word. This is normal.

There will be days when scrubbing your floor with a toothbrush will start to sound like a good idea if it means you can avoid writing. There will be days when you will contemplate driving yourself to the nearest mental institution and hurling yourself onto the reception desk, because anyone who would devote so much time to writing a novel when the rewards are so uncertain is surely insane.

This is also normal.

This is because writing, when done correctly, is not always fun. If you think writing a novel will be completely fun, you should find another hobby, like playing laser tag on ice skates. Or something. I don’t know what non-writers do with their time.

Writing is not always fun. It shouldn’t always be fun. You’re not doing it because it’s always fun.

The only reason to write a novel is because you have some insane fire burning inside that years of therapy have been unable to extinguish, and you fear how disappointed you will be with yourself if you never do it. Or, you know, because you really, really want to do it.

You have to want it. You have to work at it. You have to be able to write when the weather is teasing you with its pleasantness and when your friends are merrily drinking bottomless mimosas without you because they are happy non-writing jerks.

It’s hard. It really is. But, again, you can do this.

You, the person who may not always have had the best work ethic. You, the person who wonders whether they’re really creative enough to think up enough ideas for a whole novel. You, the person who thinks the whole thing seems magical and impossible. You, the person with the nagging voice in your head that says, why do I want to do this again? You, the person who feels like they never have the time. You can write a novel.

And if you’ve already written a novel, you can learn to write an even better one.

Here’s how.

On sale at Amazon now, more formats soon!

Art: Musical Fête by Giovani Paolo Panini






Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Traditionally published short story collections


I get a lot of questions about short story collections. How do you write a query letter for a short story collection? Do publishers want them?

Well, it's complicated.

Short story collections do get published, usually by the cream of the crop of the literary fiction world. (Note that I'm not talking about anthologies with multiple authors, which can sometimes be published around a high-concept hook.)

It's rare for a debut short story collection to be published unless:

a) The publisher wants to whet the public's appetite for a debut novel
b) The author has previously been published in All The Places (think: The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Atlantic)
c) Both

Think: Junot Diaz's Drown as a (decade-prior) prelude to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, or Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies as a prelude to The Namesake.

Yes, there are authors like Alice Munro, Nathan Englander, and George Saunders, who are primarily known for their short stories. Please see rule b.

So how do you query a short story collection without an accompanying novel? Well, in my opinion, you don't. If you've achieved enough literary success to get a short story collection traditionally published, the agents will come to you.

Art: Der Brief an den Liebsten by Adolf Schmidt






Monday, October 21, 2013

Sharknado and why substance matters more than flash


We live in an era of flashes in the pan. Something pops up one day, we all go haha wow look at that, and then we wait for the next interesting thing to come along.

In fact, you probably haven't thought about Sharknado in a while. Remember Sharknado? How innocent we were three months ago.

In case you lived under a social media rock, Sharknado was all the rage on Twitter in July, the eminently mockable tongue-in-cheek ultimate disaster movie title. Lots of people made Sharknado jokes, there was a vote conducted for the title Sharknado sequel (Sharknado 2: The Second One), and it was pretty much the definition of virality.

But here's the thing: Despite all the hype, no one actually watched Sharknado.

Well, some people did. About as many people as watched the un-Twitter-hyped Chupacabra vs. the Alamo a few months prior. (Update: An anon points out that subsequent airings received more viewers, peaking at 2.1 million. That's not nothing, but it's still not as much as, say, re-runs of the Family Guy.)

Eliza Kern wrote that this shows the extent to which reach on Twitter is a misleading gauge of popularity. And that's true, but I think this goes deeper.

There are things you people can do to get a lot of attention in the social media era. You can start a massive flame war, for instance, and gain a lot of notoriety for saying unpopular things and all of a sudden you may have a ton of pageviews and Twitter followers and it feels like you're famous. People will absolutely tune in for a train wreck.

That works for a little while. But you lose people's respect in the long run, and when the next shiny thing comes along people will leave. There's no long term value in it.

Substance still matters. If there's not something people genuinely like underneath the hype, you may as well get eaten by the Sharknado.






Friday, October 18, 2013

The Last Few Weeks in Books 10/18/13

Paris. Photo by me. I'm on Instagram here.
The last few weeks! Books! Writing! All the stuff!

First off, thanks to everyone who voted on what my guide to writing a novel should cost. I have decided to accept your judgment and go with $4.99 to start. The guide should be ready to go in a little over a week, just in time for NaNoWriMo!

It's been a while since I've done a link roundup and boy did the articles pile up. I even went to Europe and back since the last one, as the photo above can attest.

But the Internet has been cooking up a feast of good stuff. Here it is.

The eminently quotable uber-agent Andrew Wylie gave a pretty amazing interview to the New Republic, in which he talks about his newfound disdain for Amazon. Highly recommended reading.

This happened almost forever ago, but if you somehow missed it, J.K. Rowling is writing screenplays for new movies taking place in the Harry Potter universe. Fans, rejoice!

Has the era of bundled print and e-book sales finally arrived? Amazon recently announced Kindle MatchBook, which gives readers the option to buy discounted e-books for books where they bought the print edition. As Michael J. Sullivan points out, this may not be quite the game-changer it seems because publishers need to agree to it, and Joe Wikert is concerned it represents a further erosion of the perceived value of e-books.

Never let it be said that it's easy to be friends with an author. As Mark Slouka writes, "Want to lose a friend who’s a writer? Ask her, a month in, how it’s going. Better still, ask her to describe what she’s working on."

Meanwhile, it's never easy to be a public figure period. My friend and former colleague Karyne Levy wrote a really incredible article on what it's like to be on the receiving of Internet abuse.

Sarah McCarry (aka The Rejectionist) had a fantastic interview with Lisa Brackmann about the writing life and the pressures on authors. One of the fantastic quotes from Lisa:
Authors are responsible for more and more of their own promotion and are expected to do a lot of work that didn’t used to be part of the job description. I think most of us accept that this is the modern market and are willing to pull our weight. But these are things that take time and for which we are in general not directly compensated. If you’re working other jobs or if you have family responsibilities, the question becomes when, exactly, are you supposed to do all these things and still be writing books?
When indeed.

Meanwhile, I'm a pretty big Parks & Rec fan, and was intrigued to see Aziz Ansari got a book deal.

Agent Rachelle Gardner has a list of 11 things happy authors don't do, and Sarah LaPolla has a great list of things authors shouldn't do on social media.

Author Jennifer Hubbard, who wrote the fantastic Until It Hurts to Stop, has an equally fantastic three part blog post on bullying and its aftermath. A must-read. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Bookstores are doomed to fail, right? Well, not so fast. Forbes has an awesome profile of bookstore owner Jeff Mayersohn, who is using an Espresso Book Machine to help close the inventory gap with Amazon.

Maggie Mason has a roundup of some pretty awesome children's book tattoos.

Beloved Twitter spambot Horse Ebooks wasn't a spambot after all, which made some people really sad. Which is somewhat funny and shows just how much we crave random serendipity and natural poetry in the world. Maybe we really do want a robot uprising?

Book consultant Mike Shatzkin wrote recently that marketing will replace editorial as the driving force in book publishing. Bloomsbury publisher Peter Ginna says not so fast.

Dinosaur erotica happened.

Lots of famous authors had day jobs. Writers Digest rounded up 10 of the oddest ones.

Author Todd Mitchell has 10 great suggestions on creating book trailers that don't suck.

Editor Alan Rinzler wrote about how to grab and delight your readers right from the start.

Jennifer Hubbard rounded up three posts on the need to take a break from time to time.

And finally, I missed this when it was originally posted, but my colleague Lindsay van Thoen helped put together this amazing stopmotion abbreviated history of Harry Potter. (Warning: SPOILERS!)



Have a great weekend!






Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How should I price my guide to writing a novel?


It's almost here!

I'm self-publishing a guide to writing a novel. Soon. At first it's going to be available exclusively via e-book, but I'm going to turn my attention to print once that's done.

It will be 47 rules and it's around 40,000 words. While I originally thought it was mainly going to be posts drawn from the blog, it ended up being a whole lot of new material (which is why it took longer than I thought). Even some posts I drew from the blog were extensively rewritten, and it's gone through two extensive rounds of editing by professional editors.

So. How much should it cost?

There are lots of differing opinions out there about how much e-books should cost. Konrath feels that the sweet spot for novels is $3.99, Smashwords agrees, others say it depends. I haven't seen many ideas for nonfiction. I don't plan to give this baby away for free, but short of that, what in the heck should I charge?

Here's a poll. I'd love your vote. Please put on your author hat rather than reader hat.

Poll results are advisory only. I'll circle back with a post on how I choose my ultimate price. Thanks, everyone!

Art: Beim Notar by Josef Wagner-Höhenberg






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