Friday, March 30, 2012

Selling Handcuffs: Prologue

Okay, so I talked to people about whether or not I should post my first draft up on my blog, just to start conversations with people about writing and stories, and there were a lot of opinions out there about whether or not it was a good idea.

Many of the negative comments were based in fear: mostly fear of pirates finding it, copying it, and publishing (mostly e-publishing) it as their own.

So, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to post each chapter for a while, then take it down.

So, this is the Prologue, or perhaps it will be inserted somewhere in the middle. Haven't decided yet. As I mentioned above, this is a rough draft. It's a little bit of back story, but mostly characterization.

It's really rough.

Before it is published, I'll fine-comb it for spelling and grammar and all that. Don't worry about that.

Beyond nit-picks, I'd love to know what y'all think. Feel free to leave your comments or email me.

This is the first time I've tried throwing rough drafts out there, and so the caveat is: this is a ROUGH DRAFT. It's pretty close to a FIRST DRAFT.

And here it is:

Prologue: Swan Dive 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quality: A Response to Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Post

As for the question of quality, I read about 50/50 indie books vs. trad books nowadays, and it seems like the bell curve of quality is about the same for both types of books.

However, I can say for sure that the two worst books that I’ve read in the past year, which were so bad that they stayed with me and I must restrain myself from ranting at the crappiness of them, were both traditionally published. My book club ranted at both these books last night, so it’s not just me. These were actually outliers on the quality curve, a two-book blip on the left end of the long tail, they were so bad.

I have not read any indie book that approaches the sheer badness of those two major NY-pubbed books.

It seems like when an indie writer is bad, they’re amateurish in safe, predictable ways, and sometimes you can actually see them improve during the book.

When a NY-pubbed book is bad, the writer is arrogant and blind to how terribly the book has gone wrong, because they are a Professional NY-Published Writer, Dammit, and then the book gets worse as they go farther astray and defend their terrible, terrible choices. The badness becomes exponential.

Yes, quality is not the exclusive domain of the large publishers, and shlock is certainly not limited to indies.

TK Kenyon 

Friends -- Do you really want to read my horrible first draft?


Some writers post their first drafts of their novels on their blogs. Seems like I've seen a couple lately.

Should I do this? It might be fun. It might be interesting. I'd be interested in what y'all have to say about it, either that you hate some things or want to see more or something.

I'm working on the first draft of the first novel in a series. It's about a woman (Angel Day) who is a sniper for the Phoenix PD. She used to be on the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team as a sniper. She likes to kill people a little too much, but the people she kills desperately deserve it. (In the first chapter, she snipes a big guy who had a shotgun duct-taped to a small woman's neck, and he was counting down to zero.)

What do you guys think?

TK Kenyon

Friday, March 9, 2012

Great Article about Picking A Title (For A TV Show)

There's a great article up at Yahoo TV about picking a title for a TV show.

Everything in there can and should be applied to novel and short story titles. It's a great article.

Some highlights:

THE DO'S AND DON'TS: Nine vital title tips from execs and producers who know you don't get a second chance to make a first impression
DON'T Be Too Witty
A title that gets executives excited may just be too cute for viewers. "We loved Better Off Ted internally," 20th Century Fox Television's Dana Walden says of Victor Fresco's critical darling that was dropped by ABC after two seasons. "We thought it was so smart and funny. We went with the witty, pithy title, and it just didn't work."
DON'T Be Too Generic
If a title feels like it could be slapped on any one of a dozen shows, it's probably the wrong title. "Every year, there are 10 shows that all sound the same," says one studio exec. "You can't distinguish them. You want to avoid those generic titles." If Desperate Housewives had been called, say Housewives, would it have become a zeitgeisty hit? 
DON'T Be too Long
Titles that are too long will get reflexively shortened -- by your onscreen guide and viewers. So save everyone the trouble and stick to a half-dozen words or less. People referred to The New Adventures of Old Christine as Old ChristineBeverly Hills 90210 became 90210. When people write, blog or tweet about How I Met Your Mother, it's HIMYM. For the latter two series‚ one a reboot with high title familiarity and the other an established hit that came into its own in a pre-Twitter era -- it's not a problem. But for a new series finding its footing and in need of constant brand reinforcement, a long title can hurt.

Read the rest at: The Strange Art of Picking a TV Show Title

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ebook Pricing: Yet Another Voice Chimes In

Hi folks,

Before we begin, let me say that personally, I have short stories for sale at 99c, compilations for $1.99, and plan novels for $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99 price points.

Really, perfectly honestly, I understand frustration that a lot of authors have with the "race to the bottom" mentality, but the reality of the situation is that ebooks have a great drawback: you can neither lend nor borrow the great majority of them. And it's kind of difficult to do even if you can.

I remember reading a statistic many years ago that the average mass market paperback book was read 6 times before it went to the dump. (This stat was before recycling was common.) Hardbacks had more reads before dumping.

Ten years ago, I purchased a fraction of dead tree books that I read. My friends and I, when at each others' houses, perused each other's stacks and took home books. There was usually a perfunctory, "You mind if I borrow these?" involved.

Sometimes the books were returned.

Usually, they were passed on.

That number, "6", is interesting.

Many mass market paper backs (mmpbs) are priced around $5.99. $6/6 reads = $1 per read.

The most acceptable price for a non-lendable ebook for a lot of people is 99c.

I think that books that are available as mmpbs should be 99c, and I plan to price that way.

Trade paperbacks, usually priced around $12-15, should be $12/6 reads = $2, or $1.99.

New issues, like hardbacks, should be $23.99/6 reads = $4, or $3.99.

Really excellent, large novels should be $29.99/6 reads = $5, or $4.99.

I think people are subconsciously doing that math, and I think that's why the price points have settled out at those numbers.

For short stories, the math is fuzzier, but possible to discuss.

In The New Yorker, there are usually about 20 pieces, plus or minus a few, and counting "Goings On About Town" as 1 piece, etc. If you have a subscription, that's about $1.50 per issue ($70/47 issues per year = 1.489). So that equals that I pay about 7.5 cents (= $.075) per short story that I read in The New Yorker. And I usually pass my NYer on to one other person.

On the other hand, The New Yorker usually pays a new writer around $10,000 to publish a short story, 1st NA serial rights, plus some other electronic rights. On their advertising page, they say that their average print audience is 3.9 million people. So a writer gets 0.26 cents per print audience member, (that's not a quarter per person, that's zero point twenty-six 100ths of a penny, or 26/100 of a cent, or about 1 penny per 4 reads.)

So that's even less.

Short stories should, really, be 10c, or 25c, or 49c, at most. I wish Amazon, Smashwords, and the other outlets would let us do that.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents,

TK Kenyon