Thank you, you amazing readers who like to use my contact page and who send me warm, fuzzy emails. You guys rock!!
I can’t explain it, but when I receive fun, positive, emails like the ones you’ve been sending me, my brain churns up more plot twists, and my fingers move so dang fast on the keyboard.
Oh… and the reviews and ratings you’ve been leaving me all over the internet? Wowzers! Those have been truly inspiring to me. You have no idea how much faster writers can write when we know that you’re enjoying what we’re writing.
So, thank you, thank you, thank you!!
The question everyone seems to want to know…
Will there be a third book in the series?
Seriously, you guys? You think I’d drop a little bomb at the end of Mindsiege (book #2) and not give you another story? I thought we knew each other better than that.
There most definitely will be a third book. I’m working like crazy to write it. (And holy cow, I think I’m more in love with #3 than I was with the first 2, if that’s possible). I do believe the title is set. I’m dreaming up cover ideas. I can’t wait to reveal every last detail to you.
If you want to be sure to be first in line to hear the title and get a first glimpse of the cover, you probably should sign up for my newsletter.
Also, if you want to talk me into releasing the title to you faster, be sure to head over to Goodreads and add Untitled (Mindspeak #3) to your “To Read” list. I think if I can feel your excitement (by seeing you add it to your list), I’ll give you a title much sooner.
I think that’s all the news I have for now.
Oh, wait! I have one more thing. I’ve been analyzing my involvement on the many social media sites. What I really want to know is where exactly are you hanging out the most? Has Facebook finally jumped the shark? Are people still scared of Google+? Are you having conversations on Twitter, or are you just watching tweets of the people you follow without interacting?
Tell me! What are you thoughts regarding the current state of social media?
P.S. Don’t forget Mindspeak is still free, but time is quickly running out. So go gobble up my gift to you right now!! And tell your friends!
I’d like to introduce a fun new series on the blog: What does it mean to be a creative entrepreneur? I think it means a great many things depending on who you ask, which is why I am asking you. If you’re interested in guest posting and telling me what creative entrepreneurship means to you, send me an email at heather(at)heathersunseri(dot)com. To get the series started, today’s fantastic post is by Young Adult and Middle Grade Author Natalie Wright who has a new book out. So be sure to check that out below the post.
I am a creative entrepreneur. It’s not something I dreamed of being. When I was a little girl, when people asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “I want to be a writer.” I never said, “I want to be a creative entrepreneur.” Yet a creative entrepreneur is exactly what I have become.
Until a few weeks ago, I’d never even heard the phrase creative entrepreneur let alone know that I was one. Recently I was asked by three different bloggers to write a post on the subject of the creative entrepreneur (CE for short). That’s when you know a topic is hot or on people’s minds.
My first question was, “What the heck is a creative entrepreneur?”
John Hawkins defines a CE as a person who “uses creativity to unlock wealth that lies within themselves rather than [through] external capital.” Wikipedia says that CEs “are investors in talent – either their own or other people’s.” Hawkins distinguishes CEs from freelancers. Freelancers, notes Hawkins, think in terms of finding more work. CEs think in terms of creating opportunities.
Harvard economist Richard E. Caves is oft quoted on the subject. Writing in past decades, he noted a distinction between “artists” and “gatekeepers” with gatekeepers deciding on the potential value of the artists work. Now writers are, increasingly, bypassing the gatekeepers and taking their work directly to readers. Now more than at any time in the recent past, writers are taking on the dual role of not only being the creative artist, but also becoming businesses to produce and sell their work.
Just so we’re clear, being a CE is nothing new. For as long as humans have been creating, there have been CEs. I recently spoke with a writing and publishing veteran, Dan Gutman. Dan, a children’s book author, had his first book published in the 1980’s and currently has over 100 books in print. When I spoke with him about writing, publishing and author marketing, it was clear that Dan’s isn’t an “artist” sitting in a coffee shop, typing passionately away while the nasty business of selling his work is taken care of by a benevolent publisher. Dan’s advice to me – and one that has become my mantra – was, “Bust your ass. Every single day.”
Early on in Dan’s career, he took marketing into his own hands and visited as many schools as he would have him. He gave school talks for free and met and befriended teaches and librarians, i.e. people who were in a direct position to influence his would-be audience. That one librarian/teacher/school/reader-at-a-time approach was a successful strategy.
Dan is a CE. He not only uses his creativity to produce a product (his books), but he uses his creative energy to think of ways to market (i.e. sell) his
And that highlights another characteristic of the CE: adaptability. The publishing world is changing rapidly and true CEs see the change as opportunity rather than crying in their Malbec and bemoaning the loss of the “good old days.”product as well. I don’t want to discount the help that his publishers may have given him. Dan noted to me that he has had more than one publisher and some of his books are out of print and others are not, and that that has more to do with the publisher than it does with Dan. But Dan used his creative entrepreneurial genius to create his own success. He took control of his own destiny and he did it before the surge in self-publishing or the existence of social media. Though Dan built his career by taking himself and his books on the road, he now leverages social media to maintain his readership just the way you’d expect a CE to do.
Being a creative entrepreneur means you don’t get stuck in one way of doing things. It’s about being open to try new things. It’s about collaborating with others who have talent and skills you can leverage to make your project a success. Being a CE means that you are willing and able to drop something (or someone) that isn’t working and move on. You are agile and you pursue new opportunities that are exciting to you or show promise.
I like this quote from Mark McGuinness. “The only real security lies in taking an entrepreneurial approach to our own careers, by taking responsibility for developing our skills, building our networks and reputation, and creating opportunities for ourselves.”
Perhaps for writers, this has never been a truer statement than it is today.
Action Item: Take five minutes and brainstorm 10 things you can do this year to increase the reach of your author brand. Use the same creativity you apply to your writing and think outside the box. Try some things you haven’t tried before.
Are you a creative entrepreneur? And if so, did you set out to be one or did you find yourself in the role by happenstance?
If you’d like to win a signed copy of Emily’s Trial (Book 2 of the Akasha Chronicles), follow this link: http://nataliewrightsya.blogspot.com/2014/02/emilys-heart-release-celebration-and.html
Natalie is the author of The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy. When not writing, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Wattpadding or eating chocolate, Natalie nurtures her young daughter, plays with her two young cats, and feeds her dog too many treats.
Natalie enjoys walking in the high desert, snorkeling in warm waters, travel, and excellent food shared with family and friends. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, now lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.
Natalie enjoys chatting with readers, so stop by and say hi:
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But I don’t…
I don’t typically respond personally to the gibberish that is floating all over the internet, but I’m surprisingly emotional about Donald Maass’s “adorable” article on Writer Unboxed. (“Adorable” is a southern lady’s way of saying many things that mean something other than adorable. None of them good. And none of them get said on this blog.)
You should read the entire article here… Go on. I’ll wait for you…
Okay? Are we all caught up?
Well, first of all, I’ve been a fan of Donald Maass’s writing craft books ever since I started writing for publication. I’m always grateful for those who are so knowledgeable of the craft and the industry to hand us their knowledge in the form of a book. It’s nice.
But when that same encouraging, experienced person tells me that my books and I belong in a crate in the cargo hold of a ship while the elite sip brandy and discuss fat royalty percentages that they actually deserve, I gotta say… I was ALMOST offended.
Why am I not offended?
NUMBER 1: Donald Maass is not the boss of me.
Although, I’m sure Mr. Maass and I would get along. We have a lot in common: We’re both opinionated. We love books. We believe great writing should do well in this world.
Of course Mr. Maass and I wouldn’t see eye to eye about the promising new writers of this world. I love new writers and their desire to create and study and break into the industry, no matter how they break in. Hell, I’m a new writer, and I’d say my passion for the industry is right up there with my Scotch-sipping friends.
Going by this article, though, if Mr. Maass were my boss, I’d be in the mail room. In a manilla envelope waiting to be shipped. Since he’s not the boss of me, I’ll tell you, I’d actually be happier in the mail room because that’s where real people hang out and talk about life. The people in the mail room hear and know everything about the people they serve. So, when Mr. Maass asks, “So, in which class are you? To which class do you aspire?” I gotta say I’m happier here in my land of peons who talk about life and work. I do not aspire to answer to the “gatekeepers” (he calls himself this) of the world who already don’t respect the many writers who are pouring their heart and soul into what they write.
NUMBER 2: Numbers don’t lie.
The number of indie authors who are proving that they can put out solid novels and nonfiction is staggering. indie authors are hitting all the bestselling lists: New York Times, USA Today, blah blah blah. (Wait, I would have thought those in the “Freight Class” wouldn’t be allowed on such elitist lists. Huh…)
Another number that doesn’t lie? Royalties that many indie authors are seeing hit their checking accounts each month. Again… Staggering! Just check out the Kboards (or whatever they’re called). You’ll see many indie authors publicly talking about how much they are making by publishing on their own.
Writers, if a publisher offered to pay you $10,000 tomorrow for that book you’re querying right now wold you take it? Would you take that $10,000 (which is a solid royalty for a debut author from what I hear) that would be handed out to you over the next year-and-a-half to two years when your book will finally hit the shelves? I know I would have been tempted a year ago when I did the work to put Mindspeak out on my own. Well, guess what? That would have been the biggest mistake! My book still wouldn’t be out, and I would only have a fraction of that royalty in my bank account. Would I have been thankful for the opportunity? Absolutely. I wouldn’t have known any better. Now I do, and numbers don’t lie.
Number 3: Being discovered is amazing in the cargo hold.
Mr. Maass says about the freight class: “The pleasure of being in control is offset by the frustration of ‘discoverability’.” I’ll give him a point on this one. Sometimes (but only sometimes) obscurity feels like the biggest hurdle, but that’s only because passionate writers want readers. And when they have readers, they want more readers.
I don’t know what it’s like up there in First Class, but I do know that talking to and getting to know readers who share a passion for books and actually enjoy something I wrote IS AMAZING, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything in this publishing world.
Mr. Maass says: “For First Class authors, success looks effortless.” Really? If that’s true, maybe I am missing out. I’ve met what I think Mr. Maass would call “first class.” Wonderful people– friends of mine, even (they might even admit to it, as low as I am), but I’m pretty sure they’ve worked really hard for their success. Like the lowly men, they labor over every word, every sentence, every paragraph from first draft to final product. They jump around on social networks building a presence and being accessible to readers. Huh… that sounds a lot like what I do.
Number 4: I’ve got a job to do.
At the end of the day, I now get paid to write books. And I love my job! We already established that Mr. Maass is not the boss of me. But who is? I am. My readers are. No one is. All right answers. And the answer is different each day.
I am not paid to sit around and be offended by “gatekeepers” of the land who are sitting around deciding who gets to sink with the ship and who gets the a lifeboat.
Mr. Maass says he exaggerated his analogy for effect, but that’s how he sees the industry. Well, how do I see the industry? This is a big ocean. I’m pretty sure there’s room for everybody, and readers are way smarter than the gatekeepers give them credit. You see? The readers actually decide what’s worthy of attention and what’s not. Not the writers. Not publishers. And certainly not the gatekeepers.
So how do I see it? Come on in. The water’s fine.
If you want to read a more critical response to Mr. Maass’s post, head over to JA Konrath’s blog.
PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons from Flickr by Stephen Edgar – Netweb
Happy Wednesday! I’m giving Mindspeak away for #FREE right now on Kindle, KOBO, and iTunes. It’s my way of celebrating Valentine’s Day and sending love out to all of you fabulous readers who I haven’t met yet. Will you be mine? ♥
But here’s the thing… I don’t really believe in FREE. Almost nothing in this life is free. Someone paid a price (sometimes a huge one) for everything we receive. Feel free to challenge me on this. You tell me something you got for free, and I’ll point out the price paid.
Now, while I don’t believe in free, I do believe in generosity, giving back, and earning my spot in the world. And novelists, just like people in any other career, must earn their spot in the pecking order.
I have two books out in the world, I’m writing a third to go with those two, and I’m working on a fourth. And in Anchorman’s terms, “I’m kind of a big deal.” Meaning, I’m a huge unknown.
No one knows me or my writing. I’ve said this before. Obscurity is a writer’s worst enemy. There are so many writers and books vying for readers’ attention. Readers have to be choosy about which books they’ll spend their money and time on. Nothing is free! Our time is worth something, right? So, even if you download a book for $0.00, you’re giving your time in return, right? That’s your price.
Do you owe the author anything when you download a book for free? A review? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve download oodles of books for free. Some I’ve read. Some I haven’t. I’ve reviewed some, but not others.
So, since Mindspeak went free sometime yesterday, I’ve given away roughly a thousand ebooks on Amazon. A slew of others on Kobo and iTunes. It’s difficult to see all those books go at $0.00, I can’t lie. Some would argue, “It’s an ebook. It’s not like that cost you anything.”
Au contraire, mon frère. My first novel to be released into the world… The manuscript I labored over for two years… The story I shed tears over when I got edits back from critique partners who told me what was wrong with the story… Mindspeak definitely cost me some things.
I’ve read articles around the world wide internet recently that claims that indie authors should be charging more for their books. Not less, and certainly not giving your books away. That if you’re an author who has put in the time and energy it takes to craft a well-told story… An author who has paid for good editing… An author who has worked hard to make sure your book has a proper cover, an engaging back cover blurb, and solid formatting… Many claim that you should be commanding the prices that many of the big publishers stick on their books. I say, maybe, maybe not.
The problem with these articles is that they’re coming from a “My book is as good as that traditionally published book, therefore I deserve to charge the same price for it” attitude. This is the wrong attitude to have. We should be looking at our own market. What are books in our genre commanding. Is our book selling at the price we’re commanding? What price are other indie authors in our genre selling? Maybe we need to raise our price, maybe we need to lower it. I know we live in a world of entitlement. But we’re not entitled to $#@t in this world. Nothing is free. We all need to do our homework and decide what’s best for our own work.
Authors need to charge a price for their book that the market commands. A traditional publisher can put any price they want on their books. I’m sure they are studying the market and determining what bookstores and readers are willing to pay for their authors’ and publishing teams’ hard work. Whatever. To be honest, I don’t really care what the big publishers are charging. There. I said it. Traditional publishers can charge whatever they want. They’ll either get it or they won’t. In the end, guess who pays the price if they charge the wrong high price?
AND… As of late, even traditional publishers are all over the map as far as what they’re charging for their authors’ books. They’ve played with prices in really big ways, especially over the Christmas holiday season. Some would say they’re just being generous (have no idea who), others would say they’re panicking and their sales were down at the end of the year. (Car dealers do this in December every year.)
Indie authors should watch the market when deciding what to charge for their work, just like in any other business. If novellas are selling well at $2.99, then charge $2.99. If you are unknown and your novella doesn’t seem to be doing well at $2.99, lower it to $.99, and see what happens. I will caution you, though. If you only have one or two novellas or novels out there, price doesn’t matter. You should charge what you hope to get some day, and spend your energy on getting more content out. #JustWrite
So, why am I giving away my book for free if I don’t believe in free?
Really, it’s a matter of semantics. I don’t believe I am giving Mindspeak away for free. I simply believe I’m offering to pay the price for a short period of time. I’m paying the cost of marketing. I’m paying the cost of my obscurity. And I’m saying, “Welcome new readers! Did you know there’s also a sequel to Mindspeak. Mindsiege is ready and waiting wherever you purchased Mindspeak.”
READERS: Tell all your friends that if they haven’t picked up their copy of Mindspeak, to get on it while the sale lasts.
WRITERS and READERS: What do you think about the price debate? Do you think Indie Authors should charge more for their work? And how much more?