A weekend of writing

November 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Taking the weekend off from blogging, but not from writing for NaNoWriMo.

My NaNoWriMoStats for November 21:

 

Average Per Day 1833
Words Written Today 1689
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 38,513
Words Remaining 11,487
Current Day 21
Days Remaining 10
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,149

 

 

Categories: Brent Sampson Tags:

What is the best self publishing company?

November 21, 2014 Leave a comment

With so much competition in self-publishing nowadays, how are writers supposed to determine the “best self publishing company” for their books? This is a particularly important question during National Novel Writing Month when 500,000 participants are going to have to choose a publisher for their book come December 1st.

It comes down to statistical analysis of multiple sources and reviews. This beats relying upon any single source (whether it be positive or negative) since it’s important to realize that single sources may lack knowledge, integrity, or applicability. Now that the Internet is replacing newspapers, we are bombarded with more information than ever before, but unfortunately, most of the Internet lacks one component that made newspapers and journalism valuable — the vetting process. You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet; you must do your own homework, and that involves researching numerous sources and then combining that data into a value system you can actually use.

And that brings me to a posting I originally wrote in 2010 to help authors with the process of statistically analyzing 3rd-party sources when making a self-publishing decision. I introduced 4 such sources to help writers compare the “best self publishing companies” in a logical, mathematical way.  By combining these various “reviews” together to arrive upon a “sum total” you are better equipped to see an accurate “average score” of the best self publishing companies for your book.

Here is a link to that December 20, 2010 posting, titled “Compare Self Publishing Companies“.

In the meantime, here are my NaNoWriMo stats for November 20:

Average Per Day 1841
Words Written Today 1582
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 36824
Words Remaining 13,176
Current Day 20
Days Remaining 11
At this rate, you’ll finish 28-Nov
Words/Day to finish on time 1,198

Winning word-count confirmation begins today at NaNoWriMo

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

“Winners” begin being crowned today on the NaNoWriMo website for successfully writing 50,000 words in … 20 days (10 days faster than required!). If you’re one of those overly-ambitious few, first of all, congratulations; that’s impressive! And secondly, reaching 50,000 is no reason to stop writing. I know I’m sounding like a broken record (do people even know what a “record” is anymore? ) by constantly repeating that we should all keep writing after 50,000 words, but I’m mostly doing that to encourage me to continue writing once I reach 50,000. I know it’s going to be hard since Idle Hands is on pace to be about 90,000 words,  50,000 words just isn’t going to cut it.  And like I said the other day, but it bears repeating again– one doesn’t publish 50,000 words.  One publishes a book.   And once you finish your book, where should you publish it?  Well, I’m glad you asked. Tomorrow we’ll talk about comparing the top self-publishing firms in an analytic way.

In order for NaNoWriMo to accept your word count you need to cut and paste your manuscript into their word-count validator.  Sounds easy enough, but I’m surprised so many writers are so willing to give their hard work to an organization without a second thought.  Perhaps I speak from experience, but some of the writers I’ve worked with exhibit hesitancy about sharing their work;  and that’s even AFTER a contract has been signed expressly protecting them and their copyrights.  No such agreement exists on the National Novel Writing website (at least, not what that I’ve seen, or agreed to).

I personally don’t have those reservations, because I know how official US copyright “works”, but if a certain percentage of our writers have expressed that concern (and that number is lower than the 500,000 writers NaNoWriMo claims to be participating in this year’s adventure), it surprises me that this isn’t more of an “issue” for National Novel Writing Month and its organizers, too.

It’s clear that it has come up from time to time because on their forums, they provide a link to another website that “scrambles” your manuscript for the specific purpose of only providing your word count to NaNoWriMo, rather than a book that makes any sense.  But that’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul — or, in this case, giving your manuscript to 3rd-party Website X in order to scramble it for NaNoWriMo.  Frankly, I’m surprised that’s even a suggested solution since an author who is worried about such things (which I already said I am not) is probably more likely to trust NaNoWriMo than some nameless third-party “scrambler” website.

Anyway…. here are my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday, November 19:

Average Per Day 1854
Words Written Today 2231
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 35242
Words Remaining 14,758
Current Day 19
Days Remaining 12
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 27
Words/Day to finish on time 1,230

My estimated day of completion moved one day sooner, to November 27th.  Of course, now the goal is to to keep it there, or at the very least, prevent it from moving later than the final deadline again…

Getting over the hump (day)

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Happy hump day, otherwise known as Wednesday on any given week, but this Wednesday is particularly “humpy” because it marks the time when National Novel Writing participants really SHOULD be over that 25,000 word hump and on the downhill slope of their novel. I’m proud to say I have only 2 writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site who have not yet traversed that 25,000 hill yet, although they’re both in the 20,000′s, so it should be any moment now. My other buddies have word counts ranging from the lower-to-mid-30′s (which is also where I am) to the upper 70′s (over-achievers!).

If the NaNoWriMo stats from the Denver area participants are any indication, this arduous task becomes harder the longer you’re at it.

day-15

 Let’s analyze this graphic I uploaded when I passed 25,000 words, most notably the graphic in the lower right hand corner, which shows the cumulative word count of all the WriMo’s in Denver. You will notice that we all passed 8 million words half-way through day number 6, but by day 14, we still hadn’t doubled that to 16 million.  In fact, we’re now at day 18, and it still doesn’t look like the cumulative word count has reached 16 million.

We’re all slowing down…  Maybe that means the books have been finished and the word count totals have been reached; I would need to know the total number of Denver participants to determine that.  But my guess is that this Hump day REALLY is a hump day, and we all desperately need that downhill slope.  Well, it’s there, right at word 25,001 it begins going downhill.   So I challenge the rest of my mentorees to get over that hump. And for those of you who already have, keep it up. You’re doing great.

Here are my stats for NaNoWriMo for Nov 18:

Average Per Day 1833
Words Written Today 2538
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 33,011
Words Remaining 16,989
Current Day 18
Days Remaining 13
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,307

Under 20,000 words to go on the novel

November 18, 2014 Leave a comment

If you’ll look at my NaNoWriMo stats for yesterday (posted below), you’ll see that I’ve crossed over 30,000 words written, which leaves less than 20,000 words to go.  So does that mean I only have to write 20,000 more words to finish my book? Well, no. It means I only have 20,000 more words to write in order to “win” National Novel Writing Month (they consider it “winning” if you write 50,000 words in 30 days). Whether or not you actually FINISH your book is not of much consequence to them.

But that seems like a pretty arbitrary goal, doesn’t it?  Writing 50,000 words in 30 days?  So, yes, while I’m on track to write 50,000 words in 30 days (in 28 days, actually), I’m afraid I’m not on track to actually finish the book.  You see, I just got to the point in the plot where Fenderson takes Brad on a road trip to Las Vegas on their way to the port to get on the cruise ship.  If you’ll remember the posting that introduced the original outline for Idle Hands, you’ll see that Las Vegas wasn’t even mentioned, and you’ll see that by November 17th, Fen was supposed to have already killed Jacob.  And, here I am, on day 18 and they haven’t even gotten to the cruise ship yet.

That’s okay, rarely are today’s modern works of fiction only 50,000 words. Idle Hands was always going to be longer.

But the point of this is to realize, for all of us WriMo’s out there, that writing (and finishing) a novel is the real goal, no matter how long it takes. They just put a 50,000 word number on it, and an arbitrary starting and ending date, to put us all on the same page (pun intended).

So if your book is less than 50,000 words and you finish it before the end of the month, start writing a new one. And if your book is going to be longer than 50,000 words, and therefore not finished by November 30, keep on writing, even if you “won” NaNoWriMo.

You don’t publish 50,000 words.  You publish books.

My NaNoWriMo stats for November 17:

Average Per Day 1792
Words Written Today 2236
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 30,473
Words Remaining 19,527
Current Day 17
Days Remaining 14
At this rate, you’ll finish November 28
Words/Day to finish on time 1,395

Freemium Self Publishing

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

The November 5th episode of South Park, titled “Freemium Isn’t Free”, finds the boys addicted to “freemium” mobile apps.  According to Wikipedia, “freemium” is a term coined in 2006 and is the pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge; but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods.

Apple and its iTunes app store received so much heat over “free” mobile apps that, in reality, are not free, that they had to re-identify them as “freemium” apps and disclose the manner in which those apps actually made money. It makes one wonder when other businesses are going to have to disclose the same thing?

What does this have to do with self-publishing? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Many large self-publishing companies use this exact same business model, although the population at large hasn’t quite identified the similarities between mobile apps that do this, and businesses in general that do this. But if you look closely enough, you can identify all the same practices, because some of the largest self-publishing companies are actually “freemium” in nature. They tout “free” on their website, but once you’ve drank the Kool-Aid, or downloaded the app, or whatever you want to call it, writers are discovering what they probably suspected all along: Nothing is free.  And suddenly they’re paying $999 for custom covers at Company C*, or $3,199 for book video trailers at Company L* —  services that they can get for under $299 and $499, respectively, at Outskirts Press.

Some of the most popular freemium mobile games right now are Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and The Simpsons, and it might surprise you to know that the average amount of money those companies make per user exceeds the $0.99 they would make if they simply charged for the game in the first place. The way freemium mobile apps manipulate you into paying is by wasting Earth’s most precious resources: time.

Freemium self-publishers use tactics that aren’t quite so obvious, but include overcharging for additional services (like the custom covers and book videos), overcharging for author copies, and the coup-de-grace: manipulating you into actually giving away your e-book to their customers under the guise of “marketing” (but, you only “earn the right” to do this if they have an exclusive on your book, thus preventing you from making money elsewhere). Talk about adding insult to injury.

Most authors are so attracted to the “free” part that they don’t bother to investigate their long term costs; if they did, they might be surprised to know that the average amount those companies make per user exceeds the $999 they would make if they simply charged for self-publishing in the first place.

There is no such thing as “free” self-publishing.  But there is freemium self-publishing. Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

My NaNoWriMo stats for November 16th are:

Average Per Day 1764
Words Written Today 1611
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 28237
Words Remaining 21,763
Current Day 16
Days Remaining 15
At this rate, you’ll finish Nov 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,451

*I don’t name self-publishing competitors on this blog, but it’s not terribly difficult to guess the culprits.

 

Daily Stats

November 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Taking a blog day off, but not a day off from writing Idle Hands for National Novel Writing Month.

Here are my stats for November 15, 2014:

Average Per Day 1775
Words Written Today 1508
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 26626
Words Remaining 23,374
Current Day 15
Days Remaining 16
At this rate, you’ll finish November 29
Words/Day to finish on time 1,461
Categories: NaNoWriMo Tags:
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