Facebook changes…

It’s no secret that Facebook is using the people who use it to make money – it’s the whole basis of those ad filled newsfeeds that we all hate and the “boost your post for £” message that pops up when you run a page on FB (for whatever reason).

They also do all sorts of updates and suchlike in order to adjust things – sometimes this is for the better, sometimes it’s for the worse.

The latest one (apparently) is meant to stop clickbait advertising, false news, scams etc. Fair enough, but then again…

This post sums up the technical details as pertains to authors quite nicely:

http://k-lytics.com/facebook-news-feed-algorithms-affect-authors/

So I’m going to have to change the way I interact on FB – be more careful with my wording and only post things like questions about my covers etc in my Fan Group, where they will only be seen by those of you who actively seek me out on FB… Or I can return to using my Blog more actively for such things – but again, I’d only be able to post links to the blog posts in my Fan Group.

If you’re interested in joining, my Fan Group (typing that feels so odd – I don’t think of myself as having fans of my work!) can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1111497778997568

I am the only admin, so I check the join requests myself – I haven’t yet turned anyone away!! I would set up a newsletter, but because I am not sure from day to day what I am doing and which book is going to be published next, they wouldn’t be particularly regular and I have no idea if anyone would be interested in having one turn up in their Inbox.

Maybe I’ll set one up when the fan group gets to a certain level…

Being paid with Exposure…

There’s a skirmish raging in the publishing industry at the moment… no, I’m not talking about two of the Big Six going head to head over something, or Traditional Publishing attacking Self Publishing.

I’m talking about writers waking up to a strange concept.

Payment.

When I started writing in the hope of making it a career, I was naive and hopeful. I’d followed an article I read in a Writing Magazine and started out by trying my luck with the Short Story market.

With every acceptance for an anthology I gained, my ego was given a boost. I was going to make it and in just a few months, I’d have accumulated a writer’s CV with enough stories published to wow an agent when I sent out my first book manuscript…

… or at least that is what I thought.

I was careful. After a few submissions paid for in “exposure”,  I went for anthologies and magazines that paid a minimal amount rather than the “for the love of it” publications. My plan was to get a few of those under my belt and then try for the markets that paid multiple pennies per word.
That went awry when I opened my own webzine and realised that unless I paid for writers, I wouldn’t get more than my friends submitting… and I had a sneaking suspicion that my friends were submitting to either shut me up or to make me feel better as my webzine tanked on the views.
*sighs*

I came out of that period a lot wiser. I learned that being a webzine owner / editor wasn’t as easy as it looked and that the stress of getting an issue out each month wasn’t worth the small moment of pride I got each month.
It also taught me that unless I wanted to starve my family, I was going to have to work harder at bringing money in.

(Yes, I know. I live in the UK – our benefits system is supposed to mean no one starves… *snorts*…)

Anyway. That was where I started my inroad into novel publishing.
I’d sent out a large number of novel queries at the same time as the short story foray. It hadn’t gone well.
Exposure wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on after all, I had discovered. Agents weren’t interested in my publishing credits with magazines, even ones that were popular in the genre crowd. They wanted something that they knew would sell to a big publisher, so that they could collect their 15% commission on a large sum.

So now I’m here.

Self publishing is almost as bad as working for “exposure” but at least I get to set the prices when I publish a book. And at least I do get paid… sometimes it might be pennies per book, but at least all those pennies are mine and mine alone.

Chuck Wendig writes a superb blog. He has an entertaining writing style that brings people to his yard for more than just refreshment…  He’s one of my Writing Heroes because he seems to find time to write Books as well as blog pieces. He’s a genius in the art of grabbing his audience by the throat and getting his point across in a few, well chosen words.

He’s also a tad sweary… which I appreciate because I can’t do it properly. There’s an art to swearing that I have never mastered. But I digress.

I’d seen the blog that Wil Wheaton had posted on the subject of Huffington Post’s refusal to pay for his work back in October.  And at the time, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I’d chuckled and agreed with The Oatmeal’s take on Exposure Payment and then in the rush of creativity for NaNoWriMo, I forgot about it again. Until this…

SCREAM IT UNTIL THEIR EARS BLEED: PAY THE FUCKING WRITERS

Chuck’s post on the 18th whacked me full force in the face with a wet Kipper and forced me to pay attention to something that I thought wasn’t happening any more.

I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t happening anymore. I haven’t been in that world very much, having been spending more time trying to work on my own novels, worrying about my partner’s back and my children’s  schooling.

But now I realise that the “exposure” payment never actually went away… and that I will never again write anything for just exposure. I will expect some kind of payment – whether that is in kind (so a guest blog post on another blog will always mention my own work somehow; aka free advertising)  or an actual monetary payment.

The only place that you will find my words for free is here – on my own blog. And even here, should you wish to support my writing career, you can. I have several e-books available for purchase on amazon and other places; just type “Kira Morgana” or “A. E. Churchyard” into your favourite e-book site’s search facility.

Just buy yourself something to read and thereby keep my cats in Kittynibbles and my kids in socks… it’s as simple as that.

PS: The only work that will ever be entirely for free will be either my Fanfiction (I don’t believe in profiting from someone else’s work and if the copyright holder objects to it, I’ll remove them from my site) or the stories that get published through Cake & Quill – Charity Anthologies are worth the work for an entirely different reason.

How long is too long?

books2

One of the things that I struggle with (as a writer) is book length. I’m a Fantasy / SF writer and most of the books that I grew up reading in those genres were either big, thick epics – Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Dune, Magician – or they were series – The Belgariad / Malloreon, The Tamuli, The Shannara series, Discworld, Dragons of Pern. Many of the Stephen King books I liked to read were of the doorstop variety, as were the historicals like Chesapeake or Shogun.

So I was used to reading stories with long story arcs, lots of characters and events. Inevitably, when I started writing, it was to those writers that I turned to for advice on how to structure my books and how long to make chapters etc.

My first book (currently on it’s fourth or fifth version, and no, I won’t release it until I’m happy with it either…) came in at a whopping 180,000 words, which is approximately 800 pages long in page format.
When I showed it to a couple of writers and editors I’d met online, the one thing that always came back was “It’s too long.” So I took them at their word and broke it into three books of  60,000 words. Then, I sent out a couple of tentative queries… only to be told that “Publishers aren’t interested in epic fantasy series at the moment.”

Yes, I cried. And threw the biggest temper tantrum I could.  And threw the Manuscript into a box and forgot about it and writing for a long while.

This was in 1998… two years after GRR Martin had “The Game of Thrones”published… a coincidence? Probably…

When I started writing again, I went back into it  by writing short stories, then I moved up to Novellas. I learned to write to the length of the story that wanted to be told, not to an arbitrary word count (unless you’re writing for an anthology where the editor needs to keep the word count per story to a particular length – or if you’re writing Flash Fiction) and then fit the finished, edited story into a particular book length; not the other way around.

So when I started publishing my own books through KDP / Smashwords, they tended to be novella length, sometimes longer.  Actually you can tell what time of year my books were written at – anything novella and under wasn’t written in November.

NaNoWriMo has a lot to answer for… *grins*

With my current publishing project – The Tower and The Eye – my Editor and I decided to put all five books into a single volume. That’s four novellas (that had already been published by me) and a single novel length book. I’d always intended to publish the five as one once all five books had been finished, as an “Omnibus Edition”.

But the spectre of word length reared its ugly head with me again… shades of rejection from that first experience… yes I know, this time I have a publisher interested in it  and committed to publishing it, so I shouldn’t worry.

BUT I DO!

So I went looking for what READERS think it the right length (not publishers) and I got as many answers as there are romance novels with half naked men on them…

So I thought I would ask my followers what they think.

Yes, that’s you lot – stop looking around…

As READERS, What length should a good book be in your opinion? Does the expectation change with Genre or Format?