Dean Wesley Smith

Five Years is Forever in Indie Publishing

6 October 2017

From Dean Wesley Smith:

Well, I spent the last two nights going back and trying to update and then even fisk my own post from five years ago about pricing. What a fool’s errand.

The post was so out of date, I just kept shaking my head in amazement and wondering who wrote it.

I was looking at it through 2017 glasses and a ton of new knowledge. Stunning, just stunning how many changes in this business have happened.

. . . .

Electronic Pricing… Novels

Genre matters. Range from $3.99 to $6.99, with romance being on the lower side, mystery on the upper side.

Length does not seem to matter at all.

All the studies have shown that you get above $6.99 and you start hitting price resistance for electronic books unless the book is something really special.

You go below $3.99 and you leave yourself no room for discounting or short-term sales.

You get down into the 99 cent area and you are in a trash ghetto.

And yes, I do know about the stupidity of ever-free. Just say no. However, doing a deep discount on a first novel of a series will get you readers. But make sure those readers pay something otherwise you attract the wrong kinds of readers. And secondly, you have to have the rest of the series priced decently for genre to make the first book discount look worthwhile.

. . . .

Paper Pricing… Novels

The old general rule of $2.00 profit in extended distribution in CreateSpace has become meaningless. Get your price down as much as you can. Under $10 is the best for trade paper. $12.99 is fine as well. Above that you hit resistance unless the book is longer.

Length not only matters, it causes the price to go up. You have no choice, but try to keep the cost down as low as possible.

If you want to try to do some bookstore distribution (a folly in 2017 because as Author Earnings have reported, almost 80% of paper books are sold online these days. But if you want to try, go to IngramSpark to get into the Ingram Catalog. (Yes, you can do two editions, one on CreateSpace just for Amazon and the other at Ingram for larger distribution.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

Here’s a link to Dean Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Logic: The Lost Art in Being a Fiction Writer

6 February 2017

From author Dean Wesley Smith:

I have been going on now in numbers of posts about how we fiction writers sabotage ourselves. Fear without real cause is the normal reason.

But I have another deeper reason tonight.

Lack of logic.

In a few posts I used math to try to make sense of the silliness of a few myths. Math tends to be very logical.

Simply put, fiction writers, when it comes to the very basis of being a fiction writer, toss all logic out the window and listen to people who have never written or published a book.

This goes on from the very beginning of every writer’s career.  The one uniform trait in becoming a full-time fiction writer is that you must have the ability to unlearn all the crap. Unlearn all the illogical aspects of both the craft and the business.

. . . .

— Agents. If you wouldn’t give your gardner 15% ownership of your home for mowing your lawn every week, so why give an agent 15% of your property for doing even less work? Yet writers spend years and years chasing the opportunity to do just that.

. . . .

— Wanting to Be Taken Care Of. Writers think that some major corporation only thinking of the bottom line and buying all of the writer’s rights in their work will take care of them. Yeah, P.T. Barnum had a saying for those kinds of folks.

— Book Doctor/Story Editor. Writers think that someone who has never published a novel (and wouldn’t know how to construct a novel if their life depended on it) are worth paying thousands of dollars to get advice from. These book doctors or story editors took private lessons from P.T. Barnum.

— If You Don’t Write Much You Will Get Better. This one is so stupid I have trouble even trying to talk about it without laughing. And I really enjoy the fact that writers think if they don’t write much and do it REALLY SLOWLY they will get even better. (English teachers rejoice at even less homework to read.)

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

A Question…

22 January 2017

From Dean Wesley Smith:

Yesterday, in the last chapter of the book I did about writing a novel in five days while traveling, I made a comment near the end that I found the exercise fun to be able to (just for a few days) feel like I belonged in the world of the pulp writers.

And I made a comment that I was born too late.

A reader wrote me privately with a good comment. Basically the reader reminded me that I should feel lucky to have the modern things we writers use such as computers, control of our own work instead of selling it to gatekeepers and so on.

The reader made a very good point. We do have it so easy, so much easier than the pulp writers did. I know that, I study the pulp writers and their lives.

Yet even with things being easier, it is unusual for a writer in 2017 to write a novel in five days. (And realize the novel I wrote would have been on the long side for the length that pulp writers wrote.)

And the idea of someone like me doing that every week for years and years is just alien in this modern world.

So I got to wondering why? And I tried to find some reasons.

— Not a shortage of markets.

Any story can be out and in reader’s hands in very short order. No gatekeepers anymore of any value. So that’s not why.

— No problem with the mechanics.

Manual typewriters were a problem in the pulp days. (Anyone remember how to change a ribbon or carbon paper?)

But now we have computers, large screens, laptops, voice writing, you name it. All are used to make writing easier. And it is a ton easier. Not even in the same difficulty universe.

From there I came up with a blank.

Mechanics and markets, the two major limiting factors other than the writer’s belief system. And both mechanics and markets are a ton easier in the modern world.

So why do writers in this modern world not just write novels every week, week-after-week?

That even “Why?” question…

I knew the answer. Writer’s belief systems. Modern writers don’t believe they can.

That belief has been trained out.

Writers of the modern world have been taught to think that writing at pulp speed is different, unusual, a fantastic feat, massive work, and on and on and on…

I then realized I had done it too. And until tonight I hadn’t caught myself on it.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Colleen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

When Writers Face the Deadly Saying… “What’s the Point?”

16 November 2015

From Dean Wesley Smith:

A couple people got angry at me in letters because I told them that following sales numbers (the number of books you are selling or what Amazon list you are on) is an addiction.

A deadly one to your writing and your career for the long term.

So what are the first signs you are into the deadly part of this addiction?

Easy. When you are sitting at your computer, your creative voice really, really wants to write a certain story or a new book in a certain series, and you hear yourself think, “What’s the point? It won’t sell.”

Oh, oh…

Tust me, folks, I am not immune from this in the slightest. When I realize that one of my books or series is selling better than others, and yet I am firing up a book that is in the poor-selling series, I hear myself ask that question.

How I get around it is tell that tiny part of my critical voice that is trying to stop me that maybe this book in this lower-selling series will be the one that explodes. That answers the question, “What’s the point.”

And makes the critical voice crawl away whimpering.

But realize, I’ve been doing this a very long time, I never read reviews of my work, and I do not follow any sales numbers or bestseller lists. Yet this still creeps in at times because one of the wonderful things we have about this new world is immediate information on sales.

. . . .

So how exactly does this kill your writing and career?

A thousand ways with a thousand cuts, actually.

If you listen and act on the question, you won’t learn, you won’t write anything except stuff that you think will sell and chances are it won’t, or at least not for long.

And the first time you write a couple things you don’t like just because you think they will sell and they don’t live up to some made-up expectation your critical voice has put on the project, the “What’s the Point?” question gets so loud, you can’t hear yourself think, let alone write.

Coming back from a life event is never easy, and you feel behind, so what’s the point of even starting? So you don’t do anything, because something might happen again to stop you.

You are too old (by some made-up yardstick in your head…I heard a 28 year old say this once) so it’s better to not start.

And so on and so on.

This question, when you hear it, is your critical voice trying to stop you. It is mostly triggered by watching your own numbers, reading your own reviews, or comparing yourself to someone else’s numbers or success.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Not Editing New Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

13 October 2015

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I edited Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for ten fun years. It was a wonderful project that helped fans and new writers tell Star Trek stories. I was very proud of the work I did on that and the fine writers I was lucky enough to buy stories from.

This new incarnation is a scam to suck new writers into one of Simon and Schuster’s vanity publishers. Avoid this contest at all costs. More below.

. . . .

This will be short and sweet.

  1. No I am not editing or have anything to do with the new Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest. I have not been asked, even though I edited the first ten. Standard for traditional publishing.
  2. Even if asked, I would not help them in any way because of the two first place prizes which gives some poor, beginning writer without a clue free publication of their non-Star Trek book in one of the vanity presses that Simon and Schuster own. That disgusts me more than I want to think about.
  3. The entire contest, from what a few who got letters told me, is a come-on to beginning writers for their names to be pushed to the vanity presses. Sigh…
  4. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. Write your own stories. In the long run you will be so much better off.

I hope that’s clear.

Sad that such a wonderful project that lasted for ten years is being destroyed by corporation greed and the desire to take advantage of young writers. The Star Trek franchise should be ashamed of itself.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

The Top Five Dumbest Business Practices in Publishing

11 May 2015

From Dean Wesley Smith:

From the real world perspective, publishing is really, really, really known for its head-shakingly stupid business practices. But inside of publishing, these practices have become so common and set in “the way things are done” as to be defended by otherwise sane business people.

So I figured I would honor Dave Letterman’s departure with a quick top five list.

I’ll give the real world equivalent of the publishing practice, then the actual publishing practice, working down to the most stupid publishing practice of them all.

. . . .

Real World: You walk up to a neighbor’s house you don’t really know, but at a neighborhood block party you met them. You ask the neighbor to give you legal advice about a legal contract you have been offered. The neighbor teaches English at the local high school and is not an attorney. Plus it is against the law in your state (and all states) for someone without a law degree to give legal advice. But since the neighbor on his last trip stayed at Holiday Inn Express (remember those commercials?) he agrees to give you advice on the contract and negotiate it for you. Would you ever do that? Of course not. You would go to a lawyer who knows the area of contracts you have been offered.

Publishing: Recent graduates of college with a bachelors in English who have a business card that says “agent” think nothing of giving legal advice to writers and negotiating the contract for them. And writers let them without a second thought. Apply common business sense and hire an IP attorney to handle your contract and negotiations. Duh.

. . . .

Real World: You hire a gardener to mow your lawn when it needs it. In exchange for that simple task, you offer your gardener 15% of your property for the life of the property, plus seventy years past your death. That means the gardener’s grandkids would be getting money from your grandkids because the gardener mowed your lawn once or twice. Would you do that? Of course not. You would simply pay your gardener by the hour or the project.

Publishing: Every agency agreement, both from agents and inside of publishing contracts, gives an agent on a project 15% of the property (remember, copyright is property) for the life of the copyright which is 70 years past your death. And often the agent gets this for a couple hours work one day and a phone call. Apply common sense. If an agent won’t work for a set fee per property, then hire an IP attorney who is licensed and who can do all the same things an agent would do, only legally. And you only pay one set fee or hourly rate. Duh.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Ava for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

Days of Forgetting

6 May 2015

From Dean Wesley Smith:

As I mention every year, it is pretty amazing how being five months from the first of the year causes so many writers to just not want to think about their year-end resolutions to write more and attain goals.

May, June, July I call the “Days of Forgetting.”

What was important and critical in January with writing and learning and getting stories published fades in these three months. Of course, if I asked, I could have you all send me a book full of great excuses. Please don’t. I’ve heard them all.

The problem with the “Days of Forgetting” is August. That’s when the remembering starts and wow is it hard to fire back up, to get motivated again, and that motivation for many doesn’t return until they see there is only three months left to the year. And by that point, all first of the year goals are shot.

What I suggest to people is set goals for these three months with their writing. Take writing or business classes, set writing goals, go to a convention, whatever. But keep the focus on the writing.

It might not be as much as you can do the first three months of the year or in September, October, or November. But if you get something done, hit some goals, keep writing as a focus, your year-end goal won’t be gone.

And August will be much, much more fun as you come back stronger into writing.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

The New World of Writing: Pulp Speed

6 December 2014

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I’ve mentioned this concept a number of times on my nightly blog and in the Topic of the Night little sections. But since Pulp Speed was almost impossible in the new traditional world, it belongs as a post in this series.

Not at all sure why this idea sort of hits me right. I think because it flies in the face of all the myths. A writer has to have all myths under control to even attempt this. So this post might just make you angry because it hits at belief systems I’m afraid.

The second reason I can’t shake this idea is because for all of my life I have idolized pulp writers.

. . . .

Many, many of the great writers of the past that we still read and enjoy were pulp writers. And there are many pulp writers working today. More than you might imagine, even through the rough times of the last twenty years in traditional publishing.

. . . .

Dickens was one of the early great Pulp Writers. And there were many along the way before the turn of 1900. It was then that the “literary” group split from the “writing for the masses” group of writers.

To the literary group, their writing had to be important, something to struggle to read, and only be published in leather hardbound books.

The masses group of writers just wanted to tell stories that would entertain readers.

Around this split period of 1900, the pulp magazines were coming in, and with the pulp magazine expansion, stories were needed to fill the pages of the exploding pulp magazine field. And the writers who could write sellable stories quickly discovered they could become very rich writing for one cent per word.

. . . .

Doc Savage was a pulp character created mostly by Lester Dent and his publisher under a magazine house name. He wrote 159 of the Doc Savage novels for the Doc Savage pulp magazine, among many other books under other names, including his own name. There was a novel from Dent in most issues of Doc Savage Magazine for a decade or more. You can still buy Doc Savage novels by Dent today.

Some pulp writers got so famous, they were some of the richest people in the country. One year in the 1940s, the pen name Max Brand had thirteen movies in production from his books. Some of you may even remember Max Brand’s Dr. Kildare from television. Either the first television series or the second.

. . . .

By the way, the author behind Max Brand was Frederick Faust. Faust had a bunch of other prolific pen names besides Brand. For just one magazine group in the 1920s he wrote over a million words per year for the entire decade. Plus other stories and novels for other magazines.

. . . .

When the pulps finally died in the late 1950s, Pulp Speed writers turned to paperbacks through the 1960s and 1970s and wrote everything a publisher wanted. There were lots and lots of Pulp Speed writers producing upwards of 30 novels a year if not more. And most books were under many pen names and across many genres. Novels in this time period were still in the 40,000 word range.

In the 1980s publishers started to artificially inflate the size of novels because of the publisher’s need to charge more for a paperback. Pulp Speed writers kept on.  Numbers worked the category romance field, many worked westerns which had kept their smaller size.

And as normal, Pulp Speed writers worked across all genres. Fewer titles produced, but more words per book, so same production. Many Pulp Speed writers worked series novels for publishers during this period. And a lot of media novels.

But by the 1990s and early this century, most of the Pulp Speed writers had retired and very few new writers understood that Pulp Speed world was out there. It was almost impossible to understand when publishers limited a writer to one book per year. But some Pulp Speed writers still existed and worked through the period.

But now, with the advent of the indie world, Pulp Speed writers are coming back. It is possible again. And fun.

The golden age of fiction for readers has returned.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Melissa and several others for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

Why I Haven’t Been Writing Many Publishing Blogs Lately

20 September 2014

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I’ve gotten a few e-mails wondering when I was going to resume writing some of my different publishing blogs.

. . . .

But here’s why there hasn’t been many lately.

1… Most of publishing news has been focused on the fight between a bookstore and a publisher. There must be a thousand blogs on the topic now, and not a person knows what exactly the two major companies are fighting over. At least no one talking and blogging knows. I hate uninformed opinions. I love opinions and good discussions, but when pure idiocy goes on this long on both sides, I just get bored. So nothing for me to write about.

2… Writers are fighting and that just makes me sad. I think all writers should just help each other. This business is tough enough without writers going at one another for no logical reason that I can find. Yet indie writers go after traditional writers and traditional writers jab at indie writers. And respect of long-term writers by baby writers seems to be a thing of the past, from what I have witnessed on some blogs and in person. Just sad and not something I’m going to write about. However, I will say that most writers I know just keep our heads down in this fight and keep writing. That’s what I’ve been doing.

. . . .

6… I am sick to death of all the articles about how paper books are going away, yet all data shows exactly the opposite. And I am sick to death of all the articles about how B&N is going to go away, all written by people who couldn’t read a stock report if they tried, let alone understand the health of a major corporation. So nothing there for me to write about lately. Belief that all paper books are vanishing has reached religion status, where proof and data no longer matter. Time, meaning a decade or two, will tell.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Colleen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

Year End Summary of Writing in Public: Year One

3 August 2014

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I did (not counting comments on web sites) 1,281,675 original words in the last twelve months.

745,175 words of that was original fiction.

51,700 words of that was nonfiction. (So just under 800,000 words of fiction and nonfiction combined. More than I thought, actually.)

That ended up being twelve novels and over thirty short stories and three nonfiction books. All the novels are in the general 40,000 to 55,000 word range. The short stories make up the rest of the fiction word count.

. . . .

I tend to write fiction about 2 to 3 hours per day. I work seven days per week. I write fiction last thing every day. With workshops, being CFO of WMG Publishing, and other projects, I tend to work about 50 hours at least per week away from fiction writing.

In July I averaged about 2 hours of writing per day, about 60 hours of fiction writing for the entire month. That produced about 60,000 words of fiction, which is about my average of 1,000 words per hour.

So those of you with day jobs out there, realize and watch that I also function in my life as if I have a day job that takes about 50 hours of my time per week. Day jobs are not an excuse to not write. (How’s that for blunt? (grin))

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Alex for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

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