Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Free? Or not?

Hello, faithful readers!

So many authors offer something on "perma-free" status; basically, they give away part of their portfolio in hopes of attracting readers. Then, the theory goes, the readers are more likely to, having seen your writing prowess, head over to your other, non-free works.

Others criticize this idea, claiming that it provides a glut of material for free and makes it harder to convince anyone to pay for good work. Why would readers pay for what they can get for free? Also, many people (you know who you are!) pick up anything they see for free, whether or not they actually intend to read it, resulting in inflated figures compared to actual readership growth.

I'm on the fence about it. I know I wouldn't put a novel on perma-free, but short stories are a possibility. I'd like to hear what others think: does an author having work for free make you more inclined to check them out? If the free work was high-quality and enjoyable, does it make you more likely to purchase their other books (for reasonable prices, of course)?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tricking your way to a bestseller...and ruining it for everyone else.

Here's something else I heard about on Goodreads: Apparently, some authors have taken to shanghai-ing their way to the coveted New York Times Bestseller title by having several people as "collaborating authors" on a boxed set--several novels sold as one product. Often, one of these authors will be a traditionally published writer with some exposure.

They price the collection (ebook, of course) on Amazon at 99 cents. Four or five novels for less than a dollar.

Naturally, lots of people jump on such a good deal. This results in a huge surge of sales, propelling these folks into the Top 100 ebook list on the New York Times Bestsellers.

And, forever after, these authors can call themselves NYT Bestselling Authors.


That list is supposed to mean something. It's a big deal--or it was--to end up on the NYT Bestselling list. Readers still think it's something to take notice of. If the people doing this are producing poor-quality work (which is likely, if they need to cheat to get noticed), then soon that association, that interpretation, will fade and all the legitimate NYT authors will suffer for it.

What the heck?

Moreover, this ruins the idea of legitimately creating a collection, for fear that you'll be lumped in with the cheaters. I think, personally, that a collection of first novels by a group of authors who respect one another's work and are in a similar genre or style would be awesome. It would need to be priced appropriately, of course, but it would be a great way to get visibility and readership, borrowing from each other, exposing readers who might never have seen the other authors in the collection.

But if I do that, am I a cheater? I have to admit that being a NYT Bestselling author would be a pretty awesome appellation, but I wouldn't be expecting that. Just hoping to help myself and my fellow authors expand our audiences.

Still. Perception weighs heavily. Because I got the idea from cheaters, it makes it feel like it's cheating.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Good morning!

I've been involved in many different discussions on websites and in-person about different writing styles, and the books that I've read recently run the gamut. Here are some things I've noticed, as well as my stance on them. Remember that "writing rules" are not for everyone, but can make a good place for a new writer to start or an experienced one to try a change or a challenge.

1. 1st person vs. 3rd person POV. This is a big one, and it's really divisive amongst authors. Some authors swear by 1st person, claiming that it brings the reader closer to the character, while others claim the exact opposite, that 1st person breaks the verisimilitude of the story. I prefer to read 3rd person, but I have read many good examples of 1st person. I almost exclusively write in 3rd.

2. Past tense vs. present tense. This is even bigger than the last one. Again, many authors (romance is a big place you'll find this, as well as a lot of Young Adult) believe that writing present tense helps bring the reader into the story. Others adamantly disagree. I am one of the disagreers--I don't enjoy present tense in any way, shape, or form, and will shut a book if it's written in present. I just can't immerse myself in a present tense story.

3. Adverbs or not? "Common" writing wisdom is to eliminate adverbs when possible, because they are sometimes considered a sign of weak writing, implying that the writer is unsure of his/her ability to convey an idea without additional words. Others trumpet that English is a poetic, artistic language if one desires to use it that way, and that well-placed adverbs can add to a story. I prefer to not use adverbs without due consideration--my first draft will have some, and each one I see I weigh carefully to decide whether or not I want it to be there.

I'll continue to add to this list in future installments, but I want to hear from you. What do you think about each of these? Do they affect your reading/writing/both/neither?