What It Means To Be Indie…

(Hint: It’s not the Jones kind…)

Photo Credit: via Empire Online

Photo Credit: via Empire Online

As the 4th of July rapidly approaches in the US, and I’m in my second year as a published author, I’ve been a bit reflective on what it means to be an independently published author. These days, the words “self-published” are starting to be eschewed in favor of “indie published” or “indie author.”

While a lot of the “stigma” of “self-published” authors is dissipating, many argue that there is some lasting aftertaste in many readers’ palates. While it’s getting more and more difficult (especially for the reader only casually interested in such things) for anyone to tell the difference between a traditionally published book and an independently published one, there are still brick and mortar stores worried about carrying such books on their shelves. While eBook prices are becoming less and less disparate between the traditionally published book and those that are independently uploaded to Amazon and Nook, et al, there are still books on the highest end of $14.99 and at the lowest end of “permafree.”

This past month I’ve been blogging about a few different topics, mainly of concern to indie writers and publishers rather than fans of my books. Because I’m independently published, I get to do my own eBook coding, and create my own covers, exactly as I want them to appear! That’s the good news. The bad news is, I have to do my own eBook coding and create my own covers, unless I pay someone else to do these tasks. Frankly, the small price in time spent is nothing compared to the satisfaction of seeing how my eBook is coming along and being able to come ever closer to complete control over how it looks.

As an independent author, I get to market my books how and when I want (mostly, unless I was intent on trying to get a BookBub ad), which is great. As an independent author, I have to market my books all by myself, which is not so great sometimes. People have said that Amazon often takes over the marketing of your book if you’re successful enough. I say that often Amazon’s weird algorithms are actually an impediment to anyone discovering or buying new books. Someone truly independent cannot rely on, nor does she need to rely on, Amazon for marketing.

Heck, I can even decide where to sell my books! I could even sell them on my own site, or give them away! I can decide if I want to do a print version of the book as well, how big the book is going to be, and how much I am going to charge for it.

Very soon, I will be launching my new website. At that point, I will be starting up my email list as well (something many argue should have been done long before Book 1 was ever published). Because I’m an independent author, I don’t bother much about what I “should have done” last year, last week, or last night. No one, certainly not Amazon, is taking my book out of print (though if you’re a romance writer and had your books in Scribd, I feel very badly for all of you. Apparently, there really is such a thing as being too successful…). The ONLY person who can yank my books (under most circumstances) is me. I’m working hard on a “relaunch” of my brand and the series, but if I was traditionally published, I could never do something like this.

This is, perhaps, the greatest of times for someone like me, who really had always wanted to accomplish writing and publishing a book on my own, done exactly the way I want it to be!

Posted by SB James in Older Blog Posts, 0 comments

It’s 2015, A New Beginning!

It’s 2015! Already I’ve had to make a couple of changes with my ebook pricing, thanks to new VAT laws that have take effect today. I’ve had to adjust my pricing for the two books that aren’t permafree, if the retailer hadn’t already done so. But I’ve tried to make an average price that covers most of the affected countries and is a little less than the completely adjusted price that Amazon was going to adjust the price to.

Some more changes I’m thinking about or implementing:

  1. I’m thinking of changing the book covers again, to more reflect the paranormal aspect of The Inventor’s Son, rather than the ones I have now which seem to cater more to the Steampunk and less to the paranormal. I’l be sketching some new designs in the coming weeks, and I may post some of them here for some feedback.
  2. I know I’m doing print versions of the books this year, delayed from 2014 thanks to, well, just life really. But I’m thinking I will do one of The Beginning as well as the others.
  3. I’m also thinking of revising The Beginning to make it a bit longer (more Book Bub friendly if it’s over 100 pages), and adding some material to Book 1 as well. If I do this, anyone who bought them through Amazon will get the notice of editorial changes made and should download the updated versions of them. I’ll be posting more about this if and when it happens.
  4. I’m looking into where to host my new website. I have a bit of website building background, but it’s been a while since I attempted it. I am reasonably certain I will make the website an “SB James Author” website/portal, and then make separate sections for The Inventor’s Son and future series.
  5. I’ve already got three parts of The Beginning on Wattpad. Any revised edition will be uploaded there as well. I know I don’t have too many views there so far, and a lot of that is due to the fact that I need to start promoting it on there through Wattpad’s forums and threads. I was looking into that a few days ago.
  6. I will be devoting a bit more time to drawing and sketching. I had done it years ago, and it is more than time for me to get back to it.
  7. I am also going to write more efficiently. Remember my post about Pulp Speed? I am committing myself to aiming for Pulp Speed 1. That would be 1M words in a year. This will have to include all writing projects including blog posts and website stuff. And a lot less Panda Pop (which is a complete time suck and should only be used if waiting in line somewhere, LOL).

I’ve got big plans, and though I may not manage it all, I’m aiming to get as much done as I can so that I can feel productive. There’s no reason for me to not keep trying to get more done as I can. I think revisiting this post quarterly this year will be illuminating, to see how much progress I make. Stay tuned!

Posted by SB James in Older Blog Posts, 2 comments

When Characters Threaten Your Plot!

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I had encountered a problem between writing the first and second drafts of my first book in my series. I think it is a problem that authors encounter more often than we think.
First, I’ll give you a little background. While outlining Book 1 (and planning the overall arc for the entire series of books), I went into planning the characters. My main character is a twelve year old boy. His main antagonist seemed to be his power hungry uncle. Like most villains, my uncle character had a few “allies,” including a mad scientist character. I had plans for another character, one I titled “Malcolm’s Wizard Ally” in my Evernotes…
The mad scientist and his two lackeys were all a “go.”
But I almost didn’t bother with “Malcolm’s Wizard Ally” at all, until I did something that I advise all writers to do at some point during all stages of the writing process: I got up and went for a walk. Well, I have two dogs to walk, so this makes it perfect for me to get out of the chair and get some air. (If you don’t have a dog, I still recommend going for a walk, preferably without anyone who needs to chit-chat with you while doing so.)
That walk changed the entire course of the series…because that was when I managed to fully imagine this new character in my mind, gave him a name, gave him something to do to make the main character’s life a living hell. It almost seemed like this new character was a godsend. But he turned into a distraction. Suddenly, he was popping up everywhere in the plot, even where he really had no place. He’s just like that!
Yes, he was hijacking my entire series!
I think this may happen more often with villain characters than good guys, but I could be wrong. I also have seen and heard over and over about characters that even readers will like more than the main character! Something tells me that these characters had origins just like the one I developed.
So, I had a decision to make. Do I let him just run wild all over the place and make the story all about what he’s doing to torment my main character, or do I rein the old bastard in? Confession time: half of the material I wrote for NaNoWriMo last November were scenes between this character and my main character! Therefore, I’d venture to say that I have a lot of Book 3 written (at least the first draft) already (yay me).
And I discovered something while writing out this problem character. The problem wasn’t with the villainous witch. The problem was really with my main protagonist. He was weak and was not being challenged enough. He was being coddled by the other good guy characters, and he was having too easy a time of it. I’ve found out that not making my main character strong enough allowed this sort of phenomenon to happen, that other characters began to outshine him.
Every supporting character is supposed to be just that, supporting the main character, even if that “support” is not exactly beneficial for the main character achieving their goals. Yes, it feels nice to “be nice to” my main character, but his character is not built if I make things too easy for him. By sending this new character, this force of nature, to make trouble for my main character, I’m strengthening him, not weakening him!

It turns out that my main character is going to have what it takes to rein in this character. It’ll take a few books to do it, of course ;-), but it’ll happen!
Did you ever experience this phenomenon I’ve described? I found the only way to deal with it was to write as many scenes as I could with this character and my main character and work out how to strengthen the main character so he could stand up to this guy. Had you found any other methods for dealing with this issue?
As I stated in a previous post, Camp NaNoWriMo starts next week!

Posted by SB James in Older Blog Posts, 0 comments