Lee Herbst’s Blog – Volume 1, Issue 4

Volume 1, Issue 4

Welcome to my blog. My blog discusses my journey through the sometimes dark and mysterious world of writing and publishing Christian fiction. Along the way I will discuss the status of my writing, include tips on writing, marketing and publishing fiction, as well as share inspirational stories from my personal life.
This blog is published on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.
Please help promote my blog by telling your friends about me. Let them know they can sign up to receive my blog in their email at http://author.leeherbst.com.

In This Issue

  1. Status: The Void War:Invasion
  2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 3
  3. Marketing: eBooks
  4. Publishing: eBooks
  5. Inspiration: Are My Sins Private?

 1. Status: The Void War:Invasion

As I discussed in the prior issue, I got a late start on editing chapter 5 and yet, I felt confident that I would be able to finish the edit on time. However, as I started editing the chapter, I realized that it was going to take a complete rewrite.
Going back a bit, chapter 3 was a complete rewrite that ties into chapter 5. The original chapter just wasn’t going to work, so off on a detour I went. Once completed, I felt I had returned the plot line back to where it was leading into chapter 5, hopefully preventing a rewrite of chapter 5.
However, even though my detour successfully brought me back around to where chapter 5 started, I realized early on in my edit that the chapter was not going to work as written. So, I am now about two-thirds the way through the rewrite with my deadline of May 19th looming near. We will see how the weekend goes, but I have a feeling the chapter will be late and I have warned my beta readers of that possibility.

2. Writing Tip: The Structure of Fiction – Part 3

In the last issue we talked about conflict and this issue we move on to disaster; something goes wrong with the character’s attempt to reach their goal. The conflict should lead us into the disaster, maybe even enough for the reader to see it coming. However, the character is often oblivious to the impending doom.
Disaster is important to the story; it is what changes the character and it is what causes the growth readers want to read. As writers, we cannot allow our character to obtain their goals easily or quickly, if ever. The story is not about the goal, it is the journey, the struggle, the growth of the character that matters.
So, if we just handed our characters their goal, the story would be meaningless and readers would stop reading. Disaster keeps the story moving and allows the reader to relate to the character and feel the emotion of the struggle. Which is what we all want, right?
Disaster doesn’t have to be devastating and can be anything that prevents the character from obtaining their goal or at least a portion of it. Continuing with examples from my book, The Void War: Invasion, this is the disaster for scene two from chapter 1:

The dusty concrete floor was a welcome change for Miam as he started to pick himself up off the floor. But, as soon as he got his legs underneath him, a foot slammed into the side of his head. He collapsed back to the floor. A second blow sent him reeling and sliding off the lip of the ledge.
He stabbed out with his right pincer and came into contact with a rung that he latched onto as the rest of his body swung down over the abyss. The wind whipped him around; twisting and swinging with only the one limb to take the full force of his weight. A familiar face appeared above the ledge; that dull brown carapace, those dim frosty eyes, and one antenna shorter than the other.

In this excerpt, Miam finally made it to the top of the mountain and, for a very short moment in time, feels safe. Unfortunately, a hidden intruder sends Miam back over the ledge and we find him hanging on for dear life by one pincer. After all that work, he may fall to his death because someone doesn’t want him to succeed.
Can you feel the tension, the struggle, the emotion? Can you see how this drives the story forward? Does it make you want to know what happens next? Of course it does and that desire is taken care of in the rest of the scene. Miam’s reaction to the current disaster, a dilemma he faces, and the decision he must make; every piece doing its job to move the story forward. Each part needs to encourage the reader to turn the page.
In the next issue I will discuss reaction and you’ll see what Miam’s reaction was to the above disaster.

3. Marketing: eBooks

Chances are that you or somebody you know reads eBooks. They are electronic versions of the more traditional hard and paper backs. Some use dedicated readers such as Nook for Barnes & Noble or Kindle for Amazon and others use more generic readers that are available on smart phones, tables, laptop, and even your desktop.
If you ignore eBooks in your marketing plan, you are making a big mistake. Although eBooks are still not as popular as physical books, eBooks hold onto a 30% share of the market. Ignoring eBooks eliminates a third of your potential readers. Not a good thing when you’re starting out; an unknown in a massive sea of other authors.
A big advantage to eBooks that is helping it gain market share is lower cost. Although the traditional publishers artificially inflate eBook prices in an attempt to prevent undermining their printed book sales, there are many independent authors putting their eBook prices well below their own printed versions. For example, it is not difficult to find $3 and $4 eBooks for paperbacks that run $6 and up.
I plan on doing the same. Considering the current size of the manuscript, the paperback will run about $8. On the other hand, I should be able to keep the eBook under $4. No matter what the price ends up, I will make sure that I earn the same amount in royalties no matter which version you buy. A book is a book and a buyer is buying a story, I shouldn’t get paid more for an eBook than I would a paper back; unlike the killing traditional publisher currently make on eBooks.

4. Publishing: eBooks

Publishing eBooks is a bit different than printed books. Printed books have a fixed paper size and the manuscript must be formatted to fit on those pages correctly. Also, once a paper size is determined and the manuscript is formatted all copies of the paperback are identical. This is not true in the eBook world.
eBook manuscripts flow based on the software being used to read the book. There are no real pages and although, most modern readers display some kind of page numbering, it really has no meaning other than to help the reader know how far they have read through the book.
Additionally, there are many eBook formats and if an author wants the widest dissemination possible, then they need to convert their book to every format. There are open formats such as epub, proprietary formats such as azw (Kindle) and everything in between. Think of the massive chore the author faces when converting the manuscript and what happens after the conversion when the author finds an error before publishing. Well, it back to the original manuscript and reconverting it to each of the formats again; a tedious prospect at best.
Luckily, there are eBook distributers that take care of the conversion process for the author. One of the best is SmashWords. In their case, the author only needs to upload one version of the manuscript and SmashWords will produce the multitude of eBook formats and distribute them to the appropriate vendors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobi, Sony, and Apple.
How much does this service cost? SmashWords takes 15% of net sales for their part, leaving the author with 85%. This high of a royalty is unheard of in the traditional publishing world. Of course, an author could do all the work and enjoy 100% of the net sales, but why spend the time dealing with conversion and distributing eBooks when you could be spending your time writing? It’s worth the 15%.

5. Inspiration: Are My Sins Private?

I used to believe that my sins were private if I didn’t hurt someone else in the process; it was just between me and God. I say, used to believe, because I now know that there is no such thing as a private sin. Our sins always hurt others and here is why:
When we sin, we hurt, weaken, or even break our relationship with God. This injury to our relationship with God reduces our ability to serve God. We can no longer give all to God, since we have given away a part of ourselves to sin.
We have to remember that we are a part of the one Body of Christ and when we are not serving fully, because of sin, we are hurting the rest of the Body. The other parts must work that much harder to make up for your inability give a hundred percent. If you pull a hamstring, your body can still walk, but it is a lot harder to do so, because of the injury. Sin works the same way. When we sin, we weaken the Body of Christ.
So, the next time you fall into sin and think you are not hurting someone, think again. There are no private sins.

Posted in Void War:Invasion, Volume 1

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