The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Forty-Seven
Another Monday Another Mailbag
Does anyone remember that old Steve Martin movie where he screams out “the new phone book is here, the new phone book is here?” I don’t know why, but I think about that every week when I’m writing the intro for the new Mailbag. “The new Mailbag is here, the new Mailbag is here.”
Okay, so I’m weird.
Let’s get started before I further embarrass myself.
From Carol: “A question...do you know the value of leaving a review on Amazon Ebooks?”
Let’s start off this discussion by stating that I am not an expert on eBooks. In fact, I don’t even like them. I can hear the gasp from here in Washington, but it’s the truth. If I can’t hold a book and feel its binding, then I’m not interested.
Having said that, I know this is the future, so it’s time for me to strap some on and be a man.
Leaving reviews…..the rankings of any ebook are determined by 1) the number of positive reviews it receives, 2) total downloads of that book, and 3) total revenue made.
Obviously, when you take the time to leave a positive review, you are helping the author with his/her rankings on Amazon and that should mean more sales.
But I still don’t like them. J But thanks for the question, Carol!
From Buildreps: “What is your opinion about reading without leaving a comment?”
Buildreps, I’ve mellowed over the years on this topic. At one time, I was a bit miffed that some people didn’t leave comments. Today I realize that people are busy living life, and it’s not always possible for them to take the time to comment on every article they read. My mother would be proud that her son is mellowing.
Having said that, I think it is the best thing you can do for a writer and I encourage everyone to do so. It not only gives confidence and encouragement to a writer, but it also builds community. I learn about my readers through their comments. We become friends by commenting on each other’s work, and for me, writing is all about building community and forming relationships. A writer without a fan base is a very lonely writer. I comment as often as possible because I care about the people I follow. I hope they do the same and feel the same about me and my articles.
I’ve seen more and more people joining HubPages who “friend” people but never stop by for a chat or a comment. Personally I don’t understand doing that, but my understanding isn’t terribly important, now is it?
From Babby: “A question for you Bill. Subject: Same name authors and writers. How does an author or writer distinguish oneself from the other one or two authors and writers in the literary world with the same name? Full names? Initials? A mixture of both? Change your name legally?”
Babby, this question is a first, and it’s a good one. This actually applies to me. There is another author out there by the name of William Holland. When I first started my writing career I did a Google search and there he was. So I started signing my articles William D. Holland. Problem solved. I do think it is best for online exposure if you are the only one using a particular name, so if at all possible do so.
I don’t think we can totally avoid this situation, and I’m not a big fan of changing our name. Just be consistent. If you are a writer, use the same name on all of your correspondence. Eventually the cream will rise to the top and you’ll get your recognition.
From Lawrence: “Here's a question for you. I know as a writer we've got the 'bread and butter' work to pay the bills. Once that's done and the mountain of projects you want to do appears in the mist, how do you pick which one to do? I've got a number on the go and flit between them with the result none are getting nearer to completion (it feels like)”
I had to give this some thought, Lawrence. Judging from comments I’ve received before, I don’t think you are alone.
I can only answer for myself. For me, it is a matter of priorities. What is more important to me? For me it’s my novels. I have several ebooks that should be written about the craft of writing, and they are partially done, but my current novel comes first, so the ebooks keep getting pushed down the list. If I were to work on several projects at the same time I would end up a crazy person, and we don’t want that.
The Cost of Self-publishing
From Brenda: “Hi, Bill. I know you have self-published before. I was wondering what it costs to self-publish a book. Say, if your book sells for $12, what is your cost and profit on that?”
Brenda, it seems like such a simple question but in truth, it is a difficult one to answer.
Do you pay for an editor? If so, that can cost you five-hundred or more.
Do you pay to have someone design a book cover? Then plan on coughing up a couple more hundred dollars.
Then, what do you mean by self-publish? If you are going the Kindle route and just publishing an ebook, then there won’t be any cost to you. If you want a hardcopy of your book (and who doesn’t?) then it depends on where you get it published. My first book was published/printed by a local company. Each copy cost me $6.90 if I ordered one-hundred, which I did. That cost was also dependent on the size of the book and the type of binding and cover material I wanted.
If you print through an on-demand company like CreateSpace, then again, it will depend on the binding and cover material. My second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias,” was printed this way, and it costs me $6.40 per copy with a retail sales price of $12.95.
I’m sure there are other options out there, but those are the two I’m familiar with.
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The Creative Process
From Frank: “I’ve wondered about this for quite some time now, and I was curious what your thoughts are. I’m fascinated by the creative process. I was wondering if you could define it?”
Well, Frank, no I can’t. LOL How’s that for an honest and totally unsatisfying answer?
I don’t understand it at all. I was just having this conversation with a dear friend I just re-connected with. He was my best friend in high school and college, and I haven’t seen him or talked to him in twenty years. Totally lost track of him, and then one day last week he called me and we talked and talked and talked. Anyway, he was amazed to hear I was a writer and blown away to hear I have written three novels. Twenty years ago there wasn’t a hint that my future held writing as a career. I was not a creative person back then, and growing up I showed no inclination towards creativity.
So where did it come from, and why did it wait until I started drawing Social Security? LOL
I really don’t know, Frank. I suspect I had to live life a little bit more, and eventually I reached a level of “life experiences” and my creative juices kicked in. I’ve always enjoyed writing but I rarely did it long ago. I was too busy living life to be bothered with short stories and novels. I loved to read them but write them? That was something other people did. Certainly not me.
So, I don’t know, but I’m very grateful that the muse finally showed up.
Do you want to see the Mailbag continue?
Adios for Now
I’m sure you’ll hear from me again next Monday, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. The question submissions are slowing up and unless things change, the Mailbag will have to end in the near future, but next week I can guarantee. Maybe we’ll stop at fifty-two….one full year. What do you think?
Have a great week of writing.
Have a great week of living.
Do both with flair and gusto!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”