UNFAIR! you shout, but hush... really, you can do this without bloodshed! As exhibited by our just released "With This Spark" historical collection!!!! (Yes, Shameless Plug Spotted!!!!)
Here is your BUY BUTTON!!! Feel free to jump over to Amazon, pop this sweet baby into your cart and then come back... I'll make us some apple fry pies while we wait for you, no worries!!!
|Homemade hand-held fry pies, to die for!!!|
So far, so good with the Seekers! We have put together not one, not two, but SIX collections of Seeker stories in the past 8 months and we're working on our Christmas collections right now!!!!
AND NO ONE HAS DIED.
Hi, I'm Ruthy and I'm a write-a-holic.
Disclaimer: I am safe to drive with, but I do miss occasional exits because I'm plotting... not someone's demise, more's the pity! But new books, new stories, new ways to make people laugh... and cry.
Another disclaimer: Writing is a legal, addictive stimulant in this case. No laws have been broken in the making of this blog or the collections!
So if you've thought of writing your own collections, more power to you! Here's a list of practical advice, things to think about as you begin...
What's your goal? Not just yours, but the groups' goal?
To make money? To spread your name around? To offer new readers a sampling of your style, your voice? Set your goal or goals first, and make sure the people working with you AGREE TO THE END GAME.
I've heard from other authors that folks in their collections had migraines, hissy fits, facebook breakdowns, major-league whining, etc. Let me just say here:
This would not work for us. We don't do drama, we don't do whining, we don't do trouble. It's downright annoying when folks' egos get in the way of good business sense, and I just shake my head when I hear those things. (mostly because they really, probably, almost always should have seen it coming... but that's another blog!)
Once you've set your goal, set a timeline. Authors vary. Some work fast, some work slower, some need two sets of revisions, others need little. All of this works out just fine, but you need a time limit or half the folks are ready and the other half are kinda, sorta thinking about starting.
(This situation could be homicidal grounds right there, and I can't say I'm in disagreement, so set your timeline at the beginning. Establish an end date. A smart person (naming no names!) builds in a WEEK of grace because a smart person knows the writing biz and understands that life gets busy... and it takes time to put your best foot forward. :)
Pick a theme that everyone can weave into their story. Thise adds continuity to the volume. Our first theme was "Hope" and they were Christmas-centered stories, so we used "Hope for the Holidays" to tie it all together in one beautiful, freshly-tied holiday bow!
The third theme "With This Spark" (historical) and "Coffee Shop Romances" (contemporary) is "Americana", all-American type stories, with love of country offering a supporting role. "Coffee Shop Romances" (releasing this week!) is filled with contemporary all-American romance, sweet, funny, suspenseful (DEBBY GIUSTI!) and inspirational... So the addition of Debby's masterful, suspenseful mind is a total bonus!
The theme is important to us because it keeps us on the same page. And it's so good for the reader, because even though each author is unique, the reader gets a sense of continuity. Barbour, Zondervan and many other publishers figured this formula out. It's okay to not re-invent the wheel! Use what works, in many cases it's the best business practice.
Fourth: Covers (Warning! Controversy ALERT!!!)
We've done well with our covers, but on the QT? On the 'down low'? At the grapevine? Rumor has it that authors can get positively snippy about covers.
Here's what we do, and if you follow these guidelines, you're sure to be successful!
Wait until you come out of your writing fugue, gaze dumbstruck at the calendar, e-mail the list of authors and shout: WE NEED A COVER!!! WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO?????
This might incite panic, but I find that panic breeds creativity, so then the authors gather what they can, throw it all on the table, point rapidly to this, this, and that, and send the kit and kaboodle to Kim Killion and Jennifer at The Killion Group and they make us great covers.
Yes, that is exactly how we do it, and I love our covers, and who has time to waste? Not this chickie, I'm in the book-writing and bookselling biz, and if I can make 4, 5 or 6 women happy, I consider it a good day!
Price and goal go hand-in-hand.
You can sell lots of .99 collections, and that's absolutely fine, a-okay, wonderful! I get that part of the goal (or maybe your whole goal!) is to get your name out there...
To harvest new readers, to give out samples of your work and hope it catches on with folks.
We all want that. But... and this is a big but.... Too much quality work put out at .99 lessens the overall consumer value of our work as a whole.
I like bargains. I will keep "Running on Empty" at .99 forever because it's an important book and should be available to anyone with a buck in their pocket.... It helps people heal, and that's a good thing.
But for our anthologies, we collectively decided that the $2.99 price tag works. Think of it this way, a 100,000 word book.... or an 80,000 word book.... or a 110,000 word book....
It's a fair price and that's why we chose it. Reader gets a bargain, we make a little bit that we then break down among the authors. And as the number of collections grows, we can reduce prices, run sales, etc. Marketing and merchandising are part of our business profile, so it's critical to develop a body of work, just like any other retail business. These are good things, and how cool that the power is in our hands! SUHWEEEET!
Everybody's happy. But pricing can be a bone of contention between authors, so this is a very important thing to settle on before you begin the project and have Susie, Jane and Callie dropping out.
Sixth: Unbundling or Staying Put?
Well, this is interesting. Some authors disband their collections after a certain sales' time. Some set a prescribed time (six months, for example) while others just decide to remove the collections and re-package them individually. This isn't a bad thing.... publishers do it, too.
But it can lead to problems if you have readers buying the very same book under several "umbrellas": Your anthology with others, then either your own personal anthology, or as individual novellas. If you do this, make sure you make it clear that your now-single book was "previously published as" so readers don't feel cheated.
Your goal is to entice readers, to give them an inexpensive sampling of amazing wonderfulness, so it's important to make sure that you make consideration for the reader's enjoyment as your top priority each step of the way.
That's clutch in any successful business mode!
We looked at contracts other authors used, and then wrote our own, basically agreeing to having things in on time, agreeing on price, agreeing on not being jerks, agreeing to reassess every six months, and that I would actually send them money.
All of which has worked!
Now my lawyer son would probably shudder... naw, he wouldn't, he looked at it and we covered the basics and the basic reasoning behind being contracted. Since raising a lawyer and a couple of finance dudes, they're big on making sure we put stuff in writing. And again, in business... and we all know I like to treat my writing like a business, bottom-line, assets, contracts, marketing, etc... it's vitally important to dot your 'i's' and cross your 't's.
I'm okay with that!
Hey, I've opened the prize vault, and GUESS WHAT I SEE????
Two copies of "With This Spark"!!!
And two copies of "Coffee Shop Romances" due out later this week! Absolutely no obligation, but if you want to give us your honest review on Amazon, we'd be grateful! Leave a comment, join in the chatter to have your name thrown in the plastic cat dish because the other one disappeared!
Coffee is on, fresh fry pies alongside, so come on in, let's talk novellas, writing short, working with others and all the things you learned in kindergarten!
Ruthy Logan Herne loves to write sweet, heartwarming stories for several publishers and the indie market. When she's not writing, she's thinking about writing. And when she's sleeping she's dreaming about writing. In short, she's ridiculous, and she admits it! Talk to her on facebook (where she's cleverly disguised herself as Ruth Logan Herne!) or her website http://ruthloganherne.com or over at the cafe on Thursdays (today!!!!) www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com or here in Seekerville!