Tag Archives: indie author

Reader Input Requested: Mary Findley guest blog

Oliver Unmerged, from Mary Findley's steampunk mashup concept!

~Today’s blog comes FROM MARY FINDLEY!~

Reader Input Requested! Please post your thoughts in the comments.

I am Mary Findley, Goodreads indie author, traveling in a tractor-trailer around the country with my husband as driver. We have three 20-something children in NY, OK, and AL. My published works are historical fiction, but I have always loved fantasy and sci-fi, wrote it in hr. high and high school, and am working my way back to it. I have some sci-fi and fantasy short stories, and my husband Michael has a sci-fi compilation on Goodreads called The Space Empire Saga.

Since I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie I have wanted to create a YA graphic novel based on some literary characters I love. Part of my desire was to be faithful to the original authors’ depictions in a way I thought the movie failed to be. I want input from readers as I plan this.

My story is set in Victorian times, or at least the later 1800’s. I am also a Christian, and I want to write for that audience, but I am not opposed to some violence and non-explicit sexual references.

The book will be called The Alexander Legacy and involve the uncovering of the man behind a plot to organize and send round the world pickpockets, prostitutes and other “perps” taught deadly sophistication to extort, to spy, and to steal on an international level. I hope the identity of the villain will be a surprise but also ironic.

The leader of my group is Phoebe Moore Campbell from Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. I like the idea of her being now a celebrity and wealthy upper-class, but formerly a servant and housekeeper. I think it will enable her to mingle and get information for the cause on all levels of society.

Oliver Twist will lend a steampunk flavor to the story and figure strongly as one of the more important characters. He has grown up to inherit his family’s fortune and become an inventor, but still seeks to right the wrongs of the corrupt welfare system and stop the underworld of fences, housebreakers, and prostitutes he was almost swallowed up by with his amazing gadgets.

Next is Prince Florizel of Bohemia from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Suicide Club. The others would mostly be amateurs at this intrigue and pursuit, and he would be experienced, and experienced with its cost.

Mowgli and the black leopard Bagheera from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book will bring tracking skills, a hatred of greed, and the ability to destroy the credibility of any criminal who dares testify that a “half-naked jungle man” and a black nightmare cat accosted them in a dark London alley.

Edward Ferras from Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility serves as the group’s chaplain and has knowledge of the church and the corruption of its members. Corruption in government, religion and business figure prominently in the plot, so I am not picking on the church.

Fun See is another character from Alcott’s books mentioned above, a Chinese merchant who keeps an appearance of traditional culture but knows everything about shipping and trade in all the British and Asian ports. I would consider substituting another Oriental character here if readers have a better idea. I am hoping to find some kind of cowboy character, as well as a black (African, African America) character. If at least one of these were female that would be a good thing, to keep Phoebe from being lonely. These are the three characters I need readers’ help with.

Does Amazon’s lending service help or destroy authors?

Amazon Prime members can now borrow a book for free with no due date.

There seem to be mixed feelings among writers about this offer. What does it mean for authors and publishers?

Complaints about this are similar to debates regarding ebook pricing and giveaways. At what point are authors pricing themselves out of business?

Assume that it takes about six weeks for a seasoned author to write a strong first draft of a novel. Depending on the writer’s process, research may come during these six weeks (lengthening this time) or after, when revisions take place. Critique partners read the chapters and make comments. Changes are made. This may take several more weeks, depending on deadlines and other issues.

If the writer already has a publisher waiting, then it’s time to send the work there to be read, marked up, and sent back for final revisions. Tack on some more weeks and hours of work on the author’s part.

If the writer does not have a publisher waiting, then begins the submission process, which can take months or even years to complete successfully. Finding the perfect match in an editor or agent is a notoriously difficult thing to accomplish, and many writers never find that “best fit.”

Count up the hours and weeks/months/years it took the author to write, research, revise, promote, query, revise, submit, revise, and finally realize publication, and then that $0.00 price tag looks a bit low.

But is it a killer for the industry?

Amazon’s new lending service is technically a subscription model, since borrowers must be Amazon Prime members – they must also own a Kindle to participate. This reminds some users of the Netflix structure, where subscribers are able to put some films in their “instant” queues indefinitely. I have over a hundred in mine right now. Some I have watched multiple times.

I also already have an Amazon Prime membership; it gives me deals on shipping and renting films online that I can’t find on Netflix. In addition, I own a Kindle and am constantly purchasing new titles to save for a rainy day. Amazon Prime lending is definitely a service that is intended for a consumer like me.

When I consider the debates surrounding Amazon’s lending subscription, I take the writer’s process very seriously. My YA fantasy finished its contract with its original publisher after a good two-year run, and I decided to indie publish it to keep it out there while I work on other titles.

The opening week cost was a choice I had to make carefully. Should I go for a standard rate of $2-3 for a full-length novel that has been thoroughly edited and vetted by readers and reviewers already? Or should I lower the price to attract new readers who might be willing to take a chance on something when the risk is only $0.99?

For my opening week, I have offered From Light to Dark at under a dollar because I ultimately decided the extra readership is my most important asset. This isn’t the only work of fiction I will want to share with audiences. The larger my audience grows, the better my returns will be – and, consequently, the more I will write.

I wonder whether the Amazon lending service will provide a similar result for authors. It’s worth noting that many of the major publishers have rejected this new borrowing plan and will not offer their books as part of it. Are they making the right decision?

I keep thinking of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, which he released for free as part of Creative Commons, and his description of Neil Gaiman’s question to fans:

“Hands up in the audience if you discovered your favorite writer for free ­­because someone loaned you a copy, or because someone gave it to you? Now, hands up if you found your favorite writer by walking into a store and plunking down cash.”

According to Doctorow, it was the freebies that made life-long fans of writers. These people came across a title by paying no money at all, but after that they bought several copies of each title the author put out, some to share with others, and they attended book signings and generally spread the love.

So, readers and writers, what do you think? Are authors pricing and lending ourselves out of business? Or are we taking a loss up front to expand our readership down the road?

From Light to Dark