Online Direct Sales for Self-Published Authors

Online Direct Sales for Self-Published Authors

EBOOK DIRECT SALES The other day, Chuck Wendig called direct sales the future of publishing. I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop smiling because (and yes, I’m tooting my own horn—because I’m sick of “not to toot my own horn,” and this is pretty damn awesome) I came up with my own direct sales strategy over a year ago, and that means I’ve had a year to tweak and revise it. And YES, this post is going to outline the whole thing, so I lose any “advantage” I might have over you, fellow self-published author. But self-published authors should never feel like they’re in competition with one another. So here we go. PROS AND CONS OF SELLING DIRECT We’ll brush over it, but this is not the right post to discuss the pros and cons of selling direct. Others have covered that in better detail and more eloquently than I could. This post is about how TO do it if you already know you want to. But basically, if you’re worried about harming your Amazon sales rank by pulling sales away from their site, my opinion is that one of two things is true: You’re not thinking long-term enough, and/or You don’t have a big enough audience yet and should skip this for now If you can train people to buy from you directly, you can make a living as a self-published author with a much smaller audience. Direct sales can get you close to 100% royalties on books sold. That means you need less people buying in order to make a living. But, if your audience is too...
When it Comes to Characters, Less is More

When it Comes to Characters, Less is More

So I’m going through final edits of my upcoming novel Rebel Yell right now. And I do mean final, final edits. This will be the last time I change the story or the characters. After this pass, there will be a final copy editing read-out-loud (which will double as the audiobook recording) but that’s it. The book will be done and ready to come out on August 15th. The last and most major change in this pass will be a severe alteration of one of the story’s principal characters: Steve’s girlfriend, Jess. Jess is, without question, the character my beta readers hated the most. All of them want her to die, and some of them want her to die violently. Sharks with laser beam foreheads have been suggested as an acceptable method of execution. I realized how much more interesting the whole story would be if Jess were more sympathetic, and Steve less so. If instead of a wretched termagant, I turned her into a misled, uninspired but ultimately supportive girlfriend who isn’t hateful toward Steve, but not good for him either. In the current version, when their relationship ends there’s an overwhelming sense of relief with no corresponding sadness for the good times they once had. How could there be? The reader never gets to see the good times, because they’re only described in passing, not represented in the book. So I went into the edit of the first chapter expecting to need some heavy, heavy revision of Jess’ dialogue and Steve’s accompanying response. After all, she was about to go from boring and bitchy to complex and confused....
Writing Update: The Plot Twist

Writing Update: The Plot Twist

On Fridays I update you on my writing and discuss anything interesting I’m going through in telling my next story. This week’s update is, of course, about Rebel Yell, since that still consumes most of my time. (If you haven’t yet, you can pre-order it here). A lot of writers (and, for that matter, readers) place a lot of emphasis on the plot twist. And why not? Some of the greatest moments in storytelling history are epic plot twists. And I’m not just talking about The Sixth Sense. How about, “I am your father?” The half-buried Statue of Liberty? “Soylent Green is people?” But you can find some equally effective storytelling where the audience knows exactly what’s coming. Take The Fault in Our Stars, for instance. (SPOILER ALERT) From about the book’s midway point, any reader with half a brain knows that Gus’ cancer has returned. But he keeps it from Hazel, and she doesn’t realize until near the end of the Amsterdam trip. By informing the reader before the main character has realized what’s going on, John Green tinges every moment that follows with a sense of crushing sadness and desperation. You want Hazel to clue in to what’s going on, and your heart drops another notch every time she doesn’t. This kind of plot twist is like the “double jump moment” in a horror films. You can make the audience jump almost any time you want to. Some high violins, a moment of silence, and then a monster leaping from the darkness. But what about the double-jump? What about leading the audience along, letting them know well in advance that you’re...
Editing Pet Peeves #3: Who and Whom

Editing Pet Peeves #3: Who and Whom

Good morning, Rebels, and welcome back to my life. All right, another editing/grammar/writing post, here we go! Who and whom. Yeah. Whom. That freaky little alternate version of “Who” with the extra “m” at the end. What the hell is up with that freak of nature? First, a disclaimer: “Whom” doesn’t actually MEAN anything different than “Who.” It’s not like “lie,” “lay,” and “laid,” which have the same idea but actually MEAN different things. And in today’s day and age, you could go through your entire life and NEVER say “Whom,” and 99.9% of people would never know the difference. HOWEVER, there is an advantage to using “Whom,” and that’s to make yourself sound like a hipster grammarian Nazi. “What’s the advantage to that?” you ask? Well, the only people who want that, already know the answer to that question. Even when something is virtually never used, it just makes some people FEEL good knowing how they’re SUPPOSED to be used. And if you’re the kind of person who likes getting into arguments with people on the internet about spelling and grammar—and let’s face it, if you’re a Rebel, you probably are—it’s helpful to have the authority of speaking about something you actually know about. ALSO, if someone seems to be defeating you in an argument, you can always go with the ad hominem attack and say, “I don’t know why I’m even debating with someone who doesn’t know the difference between WHO and WHOM.” And then run away airhumping. Okay, so the difference between “Who” and “Whom” gets into the Subject and Object of a sentence. Subject and Object is another topic people...