Insight into the life of a writer at this new blog post I added to the Rensing Center blog.
The Laine Cunningham long-form fiction contest is open. Now in its fifth year, the contest awards $1,000 to first place, $500 to second place, $250 for third place, and a certificate for honorable mention.
Fiction ranging from 30,000 words up is eligible. The manuscripts can be novels, novellas, short story collections, mixtures of various forms (including short prose and flash fiction), YA, New Adult and adult romance, sci-fi, literary, mainstream…pretty much as long as it meets the minimum length requirement, anything goes.
Details are available on Writer’s Resource’s website under the Writing Contest tab.
A study published in Science found that “literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make references about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity. They theorize that reading literary fiction helps improve real-life skills like empathy and understanding the beliefs and intentions of others.”
It’s nice to know that even in today’s busy, disconnected world, literature is still having a substantial impact on society.
Often I talk to authors about selling themselves to readers as much as their books. It’s natural for readers to want to know more about authors, their motivation for writing a particular book, even about the writing process.
Nowadays, with short books and short stories being produced in ebook and even print formats, there’s an added ability to market your books. No matter what you’re writing, you can create adjunct books.
Consider a self-help author with a workbook…the workbook isn’t the primary self-help book but it adds to the original publication in a helpful manner. Novelists, too, can use this idea by writing short stories about appealing secondary characters in their stories.
These can be sold, of course, or given away to generate interest in the book. Since most adjunct books are short, the time and effort to produce them is often much less than what the original project required.
Dan Cullen of the ABA says, “Customers are making decisions to patronize locally owned retail stores because they recognize that where they spend their money makes a difference. They’ve seen the closure of important local stores or institutions and kind of woke up to what’s important from that regard.”
Combined with readers making choices based on supporting local businesses, the failure of Borders means many regional markets are suddenly open to smaller shops again. Bookstores are being opened now by individuals who realize a bookstore is a community gathering place. New models are combining books with other things like workshops, meeting spaces and much more than the usual coffee and cookie.
That means better hand-selling for authors of all kinds.
Traditionally bookstores get 40% of the list price of a book. They have overhead to pay from that money in addition to earning a profit. Remember that they rent or own the storefront, they have employees to pay, and they have utility bills that arrive every month.
Don’t be surprised if a store asks for 45% so they can run special promotions.
Be flexible. Consider whether sales can help your brand by getting your name out there even if the store discount means you make very little profit yourself.
Recently e-books have been getting a lot of attention. Big publishers who were slow to enter the game now have as much as 27% of their profits coming from e-books. The market increased 129% over the last 18 months, and it shows no signs of shrinking. So, how do you take advantage of this as an author?
Consider the top and bottom parts of the range first. Some sites allow you to charge up to $199 for a single e-book. That’s great if you have specialized information but for most books, that’s really out of bounds.
Ten bucks is considered the magical touchstone…as in, don’t price an e-book more than that.
Free…well, that’s not really the bottom. It’s zero, so we’re going to bypass that as an option.
$0.99 is the true bottom. Reserve this lowest price point for special promotions that you advertise heavily and that run only for a short timeline, say, a single day.
$1.99 is a nice price point for longer term sales or sales that you don’t market as heavily.
That leaves you with a nice everyday price range between $2.99 and $9.99.