The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Seventy-Three
Bring It On
We have a full one this week. We had so many questions I had to push three of them to next week. That’s great news for those of us who love this series.
Let’s get it going with a marketing question from Kailey. Since I have a marketing degree, I didn’t even have to look up this answer. However, I’ll be interested in hearing what Heidi thinks about it. Hint-hint, Heidi.
From Kailey: “I've been wondering, as far as names go, as a freelancer, do you title your company or are you just "Bill Holland?" Does your freelance service even need a catchy title? Thanks!”
Hi Kailey! Good question. I have always believed that a company name should reflect the business it does. There are some who would argue with that but hey, they can write their own HP article if they want. Right now I’ve let my website lapse but when I had it, it simply said “William D. Holland Professional Writing Services.”
A lot goes into the proper naming of a company. Catchy titles are clever, for sure, but do they do the job they are meant to do? With something like freelance writing, I think direct is better than catchy or, if you like, follow the K.I.S.S. Principle, which I am convinced was devised just for me.
From Blond: “I would also like to hear your views on vampire and werewolf stories. I personally have some issues with these and yet they are popular. For me these are akin to beastiality and necrophilia. I blame Buffy.”
Blond, they are popular for sure. Anne Rice made a living writing those books, right? The public has had a fascination with them for decades….Dracula?.....but that’s not what you asked, is it? I understand what you are saying about beastiality and necrophilia. I think we have seen more of that in the last decade than we did in the previous decades combined, and maybe that says something about society in general. There was a television series recently cancelled in the States with a serial killer as the main character….do we really lack for entertainment so badly that we need to do a television series about serial killers? Now that I find tasteless and disgusting.
From Ann: “Question: If you became a famous writer (which you surely will), what would be your reaction to autograph hunters, interviewers, etc? I've heard of celebrities who've brushed aside fans because they couldn't be bothered or were in a bad mood. I know that's rude but then there's the privacy angle to consider. What do you think, bill?”
Ann, I don’t have the faith in my future celebrity status that you have, but thank you. Honestly, I would love to have the opportunity to find out how I would react. J Knowing me, and knowing I’m not a rude person, I would probably be one of those celebrities who spent hours signing books and talking to people. I really do like people and I enjoy interacting with them. I can’t imagine that changing because of fame….plus…and there are quite a few celebrities who would disagree with me on this…I think if someone spends money for my product, the least I can do is stop and talk to them.
Now let’s hope we have a chance to find out.
From Linda: “I am interested most in what you had to say about improving ones writing skills by focusing on different aspects of writing--character development, scenes, genre. What part does exposure to the outside world play? I think one part of becoming a better writer is to travel, learn, and certainly to be well read. I'm not talking about reading the encyclopedia on Louisiana so that you can write about Cajun cooking. I mean exploring other styles of writing, reading stories told a century (or more) ago, gaining an understanding of other cultures and ways of thinking. A penny for your thoughts.”
Linda, my first thought is that these questions are really becoming quite good. This is a great question.
I think our experiences are a huge benefit to us as writers. Travelling, reading, studying, experiencing, all of those things give us a richer bank of knowledge to work with when writing.
Do they make us better writers? I think that’s a tricky question. When I talked about improving by focusing on certain aspects, my main goal was to point out that we have to learn how to actually write first before worrying about anything else. The people who think that a bad writer will get better simply by writing daily are mistaken, I believe. Practicing bad writing only makes bad writing worse. One needs to learn how to write properly and then continue to practice proper writing and improve on that. Once one learns how to write properly then the experiences you speak about will help immensely.
Who’s Buying Books?
From Brad: “If Romance does runaway at the register, then does that mean that women are buying most of the fiction books?
That is a serious question, I know you would see it that way, but some people might not.”
Brad, the question was interesting enough for me to do some research on it. Actually, Bowker did a study in 2009 and that study told us that the average age of a book-buyer is 42 years and that women purchase 64% of all books sold, and they are over 60% in every genre except fantasy where men purchase at the same percentage.
How’s that for a detailed answer?
How to Become a Writer
From Sally: “My mother always told me it was rude to ask questions about money, but the question I would like to ask relates to whether you or others have found it profitable to write e-books? If it is not a question you would like to answer, could you please put a poll question on your next Hub which might shed some light on this question. Thus is one which everyone wants to know the answer to.”
Sally, I don’t think that’s a rude question at all, and I grew up with parents who believed the same thing. But you aren’t asking about my earnings; you are simply asking if it is profitable to write an ebook. So here’s my answer: maybe!
A good ebook has a nice cover. Can you make an ebook cover? If so, then great. If not then you have to pay someone to do it for you. How about editing? If you are going to pay someone to edit for you then pencil in that expense.
Once you have all of your expenses added up (let’s say all that cost you $300) then we have a base line to work with. If you sell your ebook for $2.99, then your earnings for each book will be somewhere in the $2.40 range. That means you’ll have to sell 125 ebooks to break even.
Good luck! Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t.
And that’s my answer.
Obviously, if you have no expense for cover or editing, then the first ebook you sell will be a pure profit of $2.40.. J
Another video by yours truly
I have questions from Eric, Lawrence and Emese that will have to wait until next week. This installment is getting too long. My apologies to those three friends. I promise to get to your questions next Monday.
And thanks for all the great questions. I hope you learned something. I know I did.
Have a great week of writing! Remember that what you write is part of your legacy, available to readers one-hundred years from now. How’s that for pressure? LOL
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”