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Archive for January, 2010

I just finished another chapter of Apprentice Cat. Wahoo!! Each day I get just a little closer to finishing the entire book. That makes me feel great.

There are days when I wondered if I was doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my life. Have I chosen the right career for me? Those are the days when the words just don’t come or the days when it seems the Universe itself is trying to keep me from working. I was pondering that very thought a few days ago when I read an article by Jenna Avery titled “What Are You Doing Instead of Living Your Purpose?” I subscribe to her email list for Highly Sensitive Souls (aka highly sensitive people) and for the last month or so she’s been writing on how to find your life’s purpose.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, until finishing this last chapter, I wasn’t sure I was living my purpose — at least in part. As I prepared to sit down to work today, it hit me as it hasn’t in a very long time. I was not just happy. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get started on the next chapter. Writing is my purpose — to entertain and perhaps to teach just a little about life.

Being passionate about my work tells me that it is indeed what I’m meant to do. It hasn’t always been easy. (I have entire notebooks with crossed out passages!) I’m sure it’s not going to be all candy and roses now that I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Yet, it’s enough to know I’m on the right track. I’m very glad Jenna Avery was there to be a signpost on The Road to Writing.

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As anyone who has been reading this blog regularly can see, I missed my normal Saturday posting last week. That’s not the only thing I missed due to family obligations. Because my husband’s grandmother was in the hospital, we spent four hours on the road Monday to go visit her. Being a highly sensitive parent of a toddler who has been having sleep problems lately, by the time we got homw and got our tiny tot to bed I was too beat to think straight, let alone write anything comprehensible.

Some of you may think I’m whining (and maybe I am a little), but my real reason for bringing all this up is to refute what I once read somewhere about family being detrimental to good writing. I have never heard of anyone moaning on their death bed that they wished they’d spent less time watching their children grow or loving their spouse and more time writing.

It is very important to keep to a daily writing schedule, but only to the point that you have ample time with your family. Those sweet moments of life disappear too quickly to spend it on anything else.

In this one writer’s opinion, it’s good to stay on track, but remember to stop and watch the wildlife on The Road to Writing.

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As with all other aspects of independent publishing, the choice of published format abounds. Do you choose hardcover or paperback?

If you publish with a traditional publisher, they will most likely make the decision for you. That can be a good thing if you have a hard time making decisions, but it could also mean the death of your hard work. If your publisher decides to publish your book in hardcover, and it doesn’t sell well, then the chances of it being released as a paperback are slim.

So why would a publisher want to publish a hardcover copy first? For two main reasons: 1) old guard reviews and 2) profit margin. Reason one begs the question, how many people actually read book reviews in newspapers and magazines anymore? And furthermore, how many of those people actually purchase a book based on a review they’ve read? Most of the people I know, myself included, decide on a book based on word of mouth or, if I’m buying online, based on customer reviews of a book.

When I’m in a bookstore I buy a book based on the bit I’ve scanned (usually the table of contents, if it’s non-fiction, and the first couple of chapters). Occasionally I ‘ll buy a book based on what I’ve read on the internet via blogs and web sites, but since I don’t know these people I’m always very cautious about spending the money. After all, haven’t we all discovered at one time or another that our taste in reading material differs greatly from others?

Reason two makes more sense financially. As Justine Larbalestier, author of YA novel Liar, says, “An average royalty for hardcover is 10%, and for paperback 6%. So [paperbacks] are a smaller percentage of a smaller amount of money, which means on average you have to sell three times as many to earn out.” But I don’t see the merit for an independent publisher to make every decision based solely on how many books sell in one format.

In the same blog post, Justine points out that there are several book series that debuted in paperback and saw great sales. So the question becomes, what does the reader want? (And aren’t they the ones we have to please anyway?) That, I’m afraid, comes down to personal preference. There are those who love the look and feel of a hardcover book. Librarians prefer hardbacks because they last longer. Book collectors say the same thing. People who love hardbacks are willing to pay for them. However, I would hazard a guess that only a few will buy a hardcover book from an unknown author without having the benefit of word of mouth or personally perusing the book.

The rest of us prefer paperbacks for some of the same reasons. I love the feel of a paperback, of being able to read one-handed while eating. I also like that I can easily stick a paperback in my purse for those long waiting times at the doctor’s office (assuming my daughter’s not with me :)) or during a solo lunch.

There is one bit of information in favor of paperbacks that Justine passes along in her post and that is that, while hardcover sales are down, paperbacks are only down slightly and in some cases are actually climbing. I see that as a good sign that independent publishers should strongly consider releasing everything in paperback first. For myself, I’ve decided on that route. I figure if it sells well enough in paperback, chances are good there will be those wanting it in hardcover.

Of course, there’s no reason an independent author can’t do both if you’re using a POD company. The choices on The Road to Writing are as wide open as any creative soul could want.

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