Archive for May, 2011

Ebooks vs Paper Books

First of all, I want to announce that next week shall be ALPACA vs. LANDSQUID guest blogger week.  You’re going to want to stop by.  My guest bloggers are brilliant and extremely funny, and I shall be drawing accompanying pictures.  You have not lived until you have seen a landsquid wearing aviator goggles.

So.  I have a Kindle.  It’s first generation, a group birthday present from my family for my birthday a few years back.  I do like it quite a bit, but I don’t use it a huge amount – mostly when I’m traveling or working out on the cardio machines at the gym.

This drives my husband absolutely batty.  “I don’t think you like it,” he’ll say, sounding personally offended (because he led the charge to buy it for me).

“I do like it,” I reply, “I just like paper books better.”

“Why?” he’ll ask.

Why indeed?  For all intents and purposes, my Kindle should be the greatest thing ever, right?  It can hold hundreds books and fits in my purse.  And it is nice in a lot of cases – I don’t have to worry about space for books when I’m on a long trip (and I can go through a lot of books), I don’t have to worry about keeping the right page open when I’m on the elliptical machine.  I can get new books immediately instead of hunting them down at a bookstore or waiting for them to show up in the mail.  And finally, finally, people can buy me ebooks as presents.

But there’s something about a real book, the feel of the paper, the smell, the sound of turning pages, and I find that despite the convenience of ebooks, I still prefer the real thing.  (Also, your Kindle cannot be on during landing or take-off and I can only read the SkyMall catalog so many times.)

As an author, I actually sell more paper books than ebooks.  Go figure on that – especially as an unestablished writer, it should in theory go the other way, shouldn’t it?  It’s priced competitively – $2.99.  I’ve seen some discussion on the interwebs about ebook price points.  Some people think that new authors should price their books at $.99 to encourage people to try them out.  (Or free, especially if there are other books in the series that people can also purchase.)  On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that they won’t buy an ebook below ~$5 because obviously that author doesn’t value their work and it sets a dangerous precedent.  I have no strong opinion either way and so I sit somewhere in the middle.

Where do you stand on the ebook vs. paper book discussion?  When you purchase ebooks, especially from authors that are new to you, what is the price range you will consider?  How much of a driving point is price?

Broken Promises

(Aha, I automatically typed one of my titles above instead of what I meant.  Whoops.  Guess I’ve been working on that project a little too much lately.)

One thing I’ve come across a couple of times in workshops and classes is the idea of making promises to your reader.  A promise is something that the reader infers that you need to follow through on or you risk their disappointment.

Promises vary from the very small – give an object or a character too much description and a reader will assume they’re important – to the large, encompassing things such as theme and genre.

When you start a project, there’s some hint of the overall promise from the very beginning.  If your first chapter/blurb imply a humorous, comedic romp but, in the end, you deliver a tale of betrayal and darkness, you’ve broken your promise.  I’m not saying you have to give things away at the beginning, but you do need something so the readers are inferring the proper things.

As an example, I recently finished a paranormal novel.  The beginning was amazing, full of hints of ghosts and black magic, but then it settled into a fairly straight forward family mystery.  I won’t lie, I was disappointed.  The promises the beginning gave me were never fulfilled, and overall my experience was unsatisfactory.

Some of it is directly related to genre.  A romance is supposed to have a happy ending.  Take that out, and the readers feel cheated.  There’s a reason they’re reading what they are.  If you’re well-read in your genre, you’ll know what that genre promises, so hopefully that won’t be as big of an issue.  It can be harder in other areas.  If your first chapter is laugh-out loud funny, people are going to expect that humor to be prevalent throughout the entire story.  If you spend time describing the creepy house down the street, people are going to expect that house to be important to the plot.

Luckily, this can be a tool in your arsenal.  Writing a mystery?  Red herrings are just false promises.  The mere act of adding some description can cause an item to stick in a readers head.  Compare “the black book” to “an aged tome covered in blackened skin.”

How are you doing on your promises?  Do you find them hard to keep track of?

Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Aftermath

So.  PPWC WAS AWESOME.  I will try not to randomly glee all over the place but believe me, it is hard.

I kind of want to sign up for EVERY WRITERS’ CONFERENCE EVER now but I shall try to refrain.

First of all, everyone at PPWC was nice, friendly, and encouraging, from the people running the conference to the guest authors to the agents and the editors.  The other attendees were easy to talk to and most of the workshops I attended I thought were useful (though I did learn that no one really understands what the cut-off between YA and MG is).

Things that were awesome:

1. Going with friends.
I am a shy cookie, and so it was nice to have friends with me.  Sure, maybe if I had gone alone I would have made more new friends or been a little braver in general, but I have no guarantees.  But the best part?  Divide and conquer on the workshops.  Then we could go over notes later and get information that it would have been impossible to gather on our own.

2. Interacting with Agents/Editors Face to Face
This is probably the best thing about the conference – being able to talk to agents/editors, some of whom represented my genres,  talk to them about my novel, and get direct feedback from them.  And the fact that they were all lovely, encouraging people helped.   I feel more at ease with submitting in general now.  Plus the feedback is invaluable and will help me in the future.

3. Workshops
Most – though not all – of the workshops I attended I found extremely helpful, and I’m looking forward to implementing what I learned in my projects.  There were a few that were too basic that I would have avoided had I known, but overall I came out of things with a ridiculous amount of notes and a slightly heady feeling.

I will do some things different in the future.  I will register earlier so I can get the pitch appointments I want.  I will try to get the panel critique instead of the individual critique.  I will remember earplugs and to bring shoes that are not boots in case I need to wander the halls in the middle of the night.  I will remember to get business cards earlier than the day before.

Overall, PPWC was completely worth my time and money.  I would do it again.  I will do it again.  I will probably talk annoyingly about it for months to come.

But, for now, I’ve got a couple of chapters to make sure are ready to go.