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- List of science fiction novels
Bildungsroman - Wikipedia
Longer books deliver more hours of reading pleasure per Dollar, Pound or Peso. Consumers are hardwired to gravitate toward value. And then number three, if we love something, we want more of it. We don't want the pleasure to end. Most people feel this way about a great book, a great meal or even a great kiss. We're hard wired to seek things that bring us pleasure. If longer books please readers more, then it makes perfect sense that longer books should sell better and better sales then kick off that virtuous fly wheel where more sales equals higher sales rank equals greater visibility, which equals more sales.
And then if we tie this back into the Power Law Graph, it helps us understand how every incremental rise in sales rank leads to even more sales. And from this, we can draw a couple conclusions that can help you make smarter publishing decisions. Let's say your book is , words and someone tells you that , words is too long and that readers in your genre prefer books that are 80, words so you should cut the book. With this knowledge you know that you can ignore those voices.
If your book deserves , words, give it , words, your readers will appreciate it. Or you might have someone in the industry tell you to split your , word novel into two books of 60, each so you've got two books to sell instead of one. Is that really the best thing that you can do? Possibly not, because readers may not get the same level of joy from that 60, word book as they would from a , word book and if you tie that back into the Power Law Graph, you can see that you want to take every incremental advantage you can get to move higher in sales rank.
If a 60, word book is going to disadvantage you and put you further out on the curve, into the flatter part of the curve over on the far right, then it may not be possible for you to make up the sales even if you've got two books. No matter what you do though, write to the length your book requires. Don't cut words or add bloat simply because you're trying to hit a certain length. If your story requires , words and no less, then publish it at , words. If your story requires only 20, words and not a word more, then publish it 20, Secret three ; write for the right reasons. I'm often asked by writers which genres they should write for, which genres are the hottest, the most lucrative, where are the sales the best?
Implied in this question, is that the author's primary desire is to follow the money. Here's my advice. If the only reason you're writing is to make money, you're probably going to fail and quit. Most authors don't sell well, especially in their early days. Most authors don't sell as many books as they feel like they should.
All of us authors feel like we should sell millions copies because our writing is so wonderful, but only a few authors reach that pinnacle of success. Even most of the bestsellers that we admire today toiled away in obscurity for years before they finally broke out. So if you want a sure fire way to make money, you're probably better off getting a job at McDonalds.
Write what you have passion for. This is where you'll do your best writing, this is how you write five star books instead of three and four star books.
A writer who writes for their passion will nourish their soul with every word they write. A writer who writes their passion will have the perseverance to persist for the long haul, long after the quick buck writers have given up. If your passion is writing, let's say Victorian era paranormal fantasy featuring time travelling Eskimos, then write that. Don't allow yourself to be influenced by what some agent or publisher tells you is hot right now. Don't chase what's hot because what's hot today will be cold tomorrow. Write what you love. Secret four ; let's talk about the elements of great cover design.
In the last episode, I talked about how you should hire a professional cover designer. So for this secret, secret four, let's dig deeper. Your book cover is the first impression on the reader's path to discovery. Your cover needs to look professional, it needs to look as good or better than what the big New York publishers are putting out. You need to arrest the reader with a thumbnail-sized image of your cover.
Unlike a large print book, ebook covers appear in the store about the size of a postage stamp, sometimes smaller. So that can influence the design of your cover. Your cover needs to resonate with your target audience. In order for it to resonate with your target audience, you need to understand who your target audience is with my micro precision. If you write romance, I'll bet your audience is not all romance readers.
If you write paranormal romance, you want to target paranormal romance readers. Target your market with micro precision. Who is that reader more than any other reader in the world that will derive more pleasure from your book? Your cover needs to make an honest promise to the target reader. Words as symbols for meaning, images as symbols for meaning.
The Vengeance of Ender Smith
So here's an important concept to share. We've all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. It's true. If you think about it, words convey meaning and images convey meaning. An image can be much more information-dense than a word. This means you can tell the reader a lot more about your book with an image than you can with words. The reader is going to see the image before they even see your author name or see the title of your book when they're looking at the cover of your book. And here's another important concept. Our brains process the meaning of images faster than the meaning of words.
It's all about eye candy. It takes our brains milliseconds to process the symbolism, the meaning behind a word. In the last episode I mentioned how book marketing is all about helping the reader recognize that your book has the ability to satisfy their aspirations. The reader is visiting a bookstore and they have in mind the type of book that appeals to them or the type of reading experience that they seek right now.
They're going to look at a page featuring 20, 30, 40 different book covers. The book cover the jumps off of that page is the book cover that has the image that conveys a promise, a promise that this book is the book you're looking for. This is the book that will satisfy your reading aspirations. Smart cover design is your opportunity to form the quickest possible path between the reader's desire and your book's ability to satisfy that desire. So ask yourself what are the trigger symbols that describe the aspirations of your target reader or that help your target reader self-identify as the target reader for this book?
Let's talk through some examples. So one popular category in fiction is steampunk, which is set in the Victorian era back when the state of the art technology was airships and steam and gears and wheels. So in the steam punk genre, there are symbols that are synonymous with steampunk such as aviator goggles, airships, Victorian clothing, clocks and gears and steam pipes.
So if you write steam punk, you want to make sure that your cover image contains some of these visual elements because that will make that cover jump off the page whereas all the other covers become invisible to the reader. How about if you write romance? I find incredible inspiration from romance authors. Romance authors are probably the most sophisticated authors when it comes to micro-targeting their target readership through book cover imagery. There are lots of different subcategories of romance.
There's contemporary, erotic, romantic suspense, paranormal, different heat levels of romance, and books that combine multiple elements. All of this can be conveyed on the cover image. So if you're writing a sweet romance, you'll want an image where you've got a couple that's involved maybe in a tender caring loving embrace, and they're probably going to be fully clothed.
You want the image to promise something about the relationship, the sweet relationship or maybe the feelings of first love if this is a sweet romance or if your target reader might be a younger reader. If you're writing a sexy interracial romance then there might be a little more skin on the cover. There might be some chest, there might be some curves. There's so much information that you can pack into that cover image that tells the reader about your story. Examples above: Second Hearts by G.
John Kumiski. The cover above for Hidden Dragons conveys paranormal with the dragon, and the woman at the center is the object of desire of two men. Click the link to view it because it's another example of great cover design]. Over at Smashwords. Let's say you've written a nonfiction book about fishing. How to catch I don't know largemouth bass. So for your target reader, their aspiration is to be able to catch that big beautiful fish. So front and center on that cover should be the big beautiful fish that the reader aspires to catch and maybe it shows a person with a big smile on their face showing this big fish that they caught.
That will instantly appeal to the target reader. Let's say that you've written a book about how to grow tomatoes. Your target reader aspires to grow tomatoes. So you could have tomatoes on the cover and you could have a gardener showing their big basket full of bountiful big red firm tomatoes because that is eye candy to the target reader who's looking to achieve that aspiration. Let's consider some other examples of imagery that convey the content of the book.
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If it's a science fiction book, obviously you might want spaceships, and if there's a lot of action you want to show explosions. If it's a murder mystery, maybe a knife and blood. If it's a horror novel, something scary, if it's a Western, maybe a cowboy hat and a six-shooter and a sun worn face front and center on the cover. Those are some examples. I do want to share with you a quick case study. One of the neat things about self-published ebooks is that your book is a dynamic living creature.
You can evolve it over time if you decide that your ebook cover isn't making an appropriate promise to your target reader, then you can just click over to Smashwords, upload a new cover and then we'll get that cover out to all the new retailers. In a lot of the presentations that I do at writer's conferences when I talk about the subject of best practices, I present a case study of a Smashwords author.
Her name R. L Mathewson. This is several years back, she had a early version of a cover of one of her romance novels. It was just text and she upgraded the image to an image that showed a young couple in sexy embrace. Within days of her uploading this new cover, her book started shooting up in all the retailer bestseller lists and a couple of weeks later she hit the New York Times list.
The lesson learned from this, is that R. L Mathewson is a super awesome writer. She is an excellent romance writer but the prior cover that she used was turning readers off. It wasn't making the appropriate promise that readers wanted to hear who were looking for a romance novel. And that new cover which made the appropriate promise to the reader, then helped the book start rising up in sales rank and because she's a super awesome author and she usually gets almost all five star reviews, as she rose in visibility and more readers reacted to the book and started talking about the book and reviewing the book, her sales rank and sales just grew organically and eventually she hit the New York Times list.
And this was for a book that had already been on the market for about six months. I've seen many examples where just simply a cover change can help breathe new life into your sales. Secret five. Secret five is publish another great book. The bestselling authors at Smashwords offer deep backlists.
Every single new book you publish gives you an opportunity to cross promote your other titles. It gives you more promotional flexibility as well. Every opportunity that the reader has to read your writing is an opportunity for you to build trust with the reader and build your brand Secret six ; build a platform that you control.
A platform is your ability to reach readers and your ability to cultivate fans. A platform gives you control, it gives you leverage. So how do you reach your fans? You want to build a platform that makes it easy for your fans to connect with you however they want to connect.
So on social media, you should be on Facebook and Twitter. If you write nonfiction, you might consider LinkedIn. Google Plus is a good platform to be on because Google shows some preference in their search engine for posts on Google Plus. Consider writing a Blog, and creating a website. You should have a private mailing list. So these are all platform building tools, opportunities for you to cultivate your following, build your following and then communicate with your following.
Of all of these tools, your private mailing list is probably one of the most powerful because the private mailing list you control completely. A big criticism that a lot of authors have with Facebook, even though Facebook is totally wonderful, is that Facebook holds a lot of your audience hostage.
Not all of the people who are following you on Facebook get to see all of your posts in their feed. Facebook wants to sell you advertising so you can boost the visibility of your posts to your own followers. You want to have a presence on multiple social media platforms, make it easy for the fans to connect with you how and where they want to connect. Some fans will only want to connect on Facebook, some only on Twitter, some will want to subscribe to your blog or your mailing list or whatever.
Check out the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for guidance on how to build your social media following. Secret seven. A lot of authors end their books with a period and then nothing else. That's a lost opportunity. Put yourself in the shoes of readers. They just discovered and read you for the first time, they just finished your book and they're crying happy tears, they love you, you are their new favorite author.
This is your chance to hook the reader and guide them. So secret seven, add these three sections to the end of your book. By the way you can add these in any order. The first section is About the Author. Provide a short bio. Just a few sentences. Tell the readers something human about you so that they can appreciate you, not just as a writer but as a person. Just list all of your other books because they love you now and they want to read everything you've written, so show them what they should read next. This is a powerful platform building secret and a lot of authors don't do this.
Put a little section there, Connect with Jane Smith, and then list your social media coordinates, so your Facebook address, your Twitter address, your website address, your blog address, a link to your private mailing list so they can subscribe. If you're on Smashwords, provide a link to your Smashwords author page where they can follow you and favorite you and receive automated alerts of your new releases.
Add direct hyperlinks to each of these social media platforms so that with a single click, your reader can start following you on social media. Go do it. Oh, and before I go on to secret eight, I should say that there are other sections you can add in your end matter as well, such as sample chapters of other books, or reading group guides. So check out the Smashwords Book marketing Guide for more ideas on that. Secret eight ; implement smart pricing strategy to maximize readership and earnings.
In the last episode, Episode 2 , I discussed how as an indie author you set the price and I shared some of the pricing sweet spots for self-published ebooks. In this episode, we're going to dig deeper into pricing strategy, quite a bit deeper. Pricing strategy is integral to building readership and growing your earnings. It's a balancing act. If you price too high, readers won't buy; if you price too low, you're going to leave money on the table. Pricing strategy needs to be informed by your objective. What is your objective? Is your objective to build readership, to build sales or both?
There are some indie authors who've written books, maybe let's say about their spiritual awakening, and they don't care about making money, they just want to share their knowledge, their vision with the world, with as many readers as possible. So for those authors, they can price their book at free and they'll reach the maximum number of readers. But most authors want to earn some money and that's where the pricing strategy comes more into play. Each time you sell a book, you derive two benefits, number one, you earn your royalty and number two you gain a reader.
If you're looking to build a long term career, I would argue that gaining that reader is your highest priority, especially in the short run because a reader is a potential fan and a fan as a potential super fan. A super fan is a reader who loves you immensely and they will propel your career forward for years to come.
A super fan will buy everything that you write, a super fan is less price sensitive, because they love you and they trust you. They'll become your biggest evangelist, super fans become your word of mouth marketing team. Now I already mentioned that the fastest way to grow your readership is to price it free. Each year at Smashwords, I publish the Smashwords Survey.
We look at aggregated sales of Smashwords authors across all the retailers that we distribute to and all the libraries that we distribute to and we analyze the data to identify which price points maximize readership and which price points maximize author earnings. And it's always a great read. The survey was our sixth annual survey and I would encourage you to go check it out. In the survey, we found that on average a free book will get 33 times more downloads than a book at any other price.
So if you want to grow your readership, you can grow it on average 33 times faster with a free ebook. But to earn money which most authors want to do, you've got to choose a price. So then the next question is, at what prices can you maximize readership and earnings? Which price points get the most downloads? On average, for indie authors and I should say that our data is heavily weighted toward fiction, the sweet spots for maximizing downloads, so maximizing unit sales, sweet spots are 99 cents, 2. And then as you would expect, as the price increases beyond that, unit sales decline, and that makes sense because as a book becomes more expensive, it becomes less affordable and less desirable to customers.
Like for example, should you price your book at 99 cents to get all those extra downloads, can you make more money selling at 99 cents or the better prices.
List of science fiction novels
And the answer is really interesting, we found in the survey that the sweet spots for full length fiction for indie authors were 3. And then we had some indie authors that also did really well at 9. Generally, most self-published authors will do best to 2. It's interesting to look at this data how and see how it's changed compared to prior years.
In , we saw evidence that a lot of our bestselling authors are increasing their prices and they're able to command these higher prices without sacrificing too much in unit sales because they've built up an established readership that trusts them. Let's talk about some other price points on this chart though; 99 cents did horribly if you want to earn money with 99 cents.
Nonfiction readers typically expect higher prices. So let me give you some caveats attached to this data. The data I'm sharing is based on averages, but your book is unique. Your book may not adhere to the averages; so your book might behave differently. Also keep in mind that these books that are earning the most money it's not necessarily because of the price point, the price point might be one factor, but the reason these authors are earning the most money is because they are offering super awesome books; these are the bestselling authors.
They've earned their spot, they've earned their readers trust and loyalty and so to some extent these prices that I'm sharing with you also represent what the bestselling authors expect from their books. These are the prices that bestselling authors are setting for their books.
So assuming that your book is super awesome, the data does provide some important clues for you potential signposts to help guide your pricing strategy. Let's talk a little bit about consumer behavior. It's common sense that as most products increase in price, they become less affordable and less desirable for customers. And we can see that behavior in the charts to some extent. But reader behavior is more complex than just what you might think from price. Reader behavior is more nuanced, it's not always so logical. I've witnessed many examples where indie authors increase the price of their book and unit sales increased.
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