The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirteen
How It Works
My goodness we have some great questions this week. You guys, and gals, are really stretching me to my limits, and that is always a good thing.
This is how it works: you ask the question about writing, and I answer the question. I don’t promise I will always be right, but I do promise I’ll be honest in my answers and give you the best response I have. On some of the questions about technology, I just throw up my hands and admit I don’t know. On questions that require a subjective answer, I give you how I feel but do not claim to be all-knowing.
Ask your questions in the comment section below, or on my website at www.williamdhollandauthor.com. And that’s how this works!
Now let’s get started with one of those technical questions I mentioned earlier.
From Melissa: How do you feel about the new Amazon Kindle Unlimited program or the Kindle Select programs for self-publishers?
Melissa, you are going to get a purely gut-reaction on this one. I guess these programs are good for self-publishers. They promise more money, and that’s a good thing, right? However….
Ever since I learned that Kindle owns the online publishing rights of the works of authors, I’ve been a bit turned off by Kindle. In fact, I am contemplating not publishing anymore using that format. Now I know there are millions of writers who swear by Kindle, and there are millions who make money using Kindle Publishing….but I’m still not sold, and I most definitely do not like giving up my rights.
And another from Melissa: How many subplots in a novella?
Melissa keeps busy asking me questions when she isn’t working her full-time job, and I sure appreciate her for it. This question came from an article I wrote about the number of subplots in a novel. In that article I suggested using three or four main subplots.
A novella is, by nature, shorter, usually under 70,000 words, so the number of subplots is less. In order to do a great job on subplots in a novella, I would recommend no more than two. Any more than that and you run the risk of watering down your material, and that is never a good thing to do.
MORE ABOUT SUBPLOTS
Sheila asks: “You say: ‘Final Effect: all subplots must affect the resolution of the main plot.’ I have to ask if this is always true or only true of books that are not part of a series? In a series, it seems that some subplots do affect the resolution of the main plot of an individual book while others continue throughout the series. I think I know how you will answer this question, but I ask it here so you can add a further explanation (or perhaps use it for a hub idea) so other writers will have the benefit of your thoughts and opinions.”
I have the smartest followers on the planet. Sheila immediately saw a loophole in my suggestion that all subplots be brought to fruition within the novel. She asks what about a series, and her question is right on.
When an author is writing a series, all based on the same characters, then it is most definitely all right to let some subplots carry over into the next book in the series. I have seen this done successfully by many popular writers, and I think it is very effective. In fact, I’m making my way through the “Longmire” series, and this technique is used quite effectively in that series.
Sally asks: “Sometimes, something you write sparks another question, so mine for you this week, is related to something you wrote above, ' I worked hard to find customers'
What was your approach when you first started to look for potential customers? Do you think that by concentrating on niche subjects you are more likely to get repeat business, such as for instance, a monthly column or do you write on a variety of subjects? Perhaps you might like to enlarge on that for us!”
Sally is one sharp cookie, whatever that means!
I’m going to give you my opinion. You can give it as much importance as you like. For online writers, I think niche writing is always best. Sally is a great example of this. She has written a series of articles about wet-felting. I think that, over time, continually pounding a niche will pay dividends with search engines, and that can only mean more money for the writer.
I think it also sets you up well as an expert in that niche, which could lead to getting your own column in a local newspaper, as my friend Deb did with her niche series “Life at Boomer Lake.”
Craft writers should definitely be doing this, and to take it a step further, the same keywords should be used in the title of each article, thus increasing your search engine visibility.
Join me on my writing blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
More tips and discussions about writing
MORE ON NICHES
From Michelle: “My question is, is it good to be a niche writer or to write on various topics?”
If you just glance at this question, it looks like the same one that Sally asked, but I don’t think it is. At least, I’m going to answer it like it is a different question.
Michelle asks if it is good to be a niche writer, and to me, the answer is yes, if you enjoy it and have a passion about your niche. However, if you are a writer who has passion for a number of subjects, then niche writing will not be for you, and will, most likely, seem rather confining.
I write a series of articles each week about writing, and I enjoy that series, but I’m not necessarily passionate about the topic….so….I also write about other topics that interest me.
I think you need to listen to that little voice inside your head and decide what moves you, and then do it.
From Mathira: “One doubt I have. Is it costly to bring out an eBook. Do I have to promote its sales? Is the cover that important to make viewers buy it?”
The quick answer to this question is it is as costly as you want it to be. I believe a cover is very important for an ebook, and that means designing a professional looking cover. If you are incapable of doing this, then that means paying someone to do it, and that can cost hundreds of dollars.
The other expense that I think is important is the editing of your book. I believe it is vital that your book be edited by a pro, and again, that is costly. You can edit yourself, but you will miss things. You can have friends edit for you, but they will miss mistakes. If you are serious about your writing, then be serious about the editing aspect.
And yes, with ebooks, you are the promoter. Marketing can be costly; marketing can also be inexpensive. You can spend as much money as you want on marketing, or you can spend nothing.
More Next Week
I had two more questions from Audrey and Melanie, but I’m going to save those till next week. My apologies to those ladies, but I don’t want this to run too many words.
Thanks to all who asked questions this week, and I’ll see you back in the mail room next Monday.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”