A Slice of Orange


Dear Extra Squeeze Team, How Do I Price My Novel?

February 7, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , ,

Each Saturday in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

How Much | The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I’m ready to self-publish my first novel as both an ebook and a paperback. It’s a romantic suspense novel and about 90,000 words. How do I figure out what to charge? I don’t want to be too cheap, but I don’t want to be too expensive either. Help! How do I price my novel?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I love that this author has provided so much information. Her query is objective, communicated the pertinent information and is focused. Kudos. Many authors – first time and seasoned – simply calculate how much money they can make at different price points and choose the highest one that they believe the market will bear. What they don’t take into account are market forces and there are plenty of them.

This lady is a first-time author intending to publish as an indie. It is clear that she understands her genre. I will assume her book is awesome. Now let’s look at what she is going to face. There are currently about 2,500 new books published through Amazon a day. She will be competing with seasoned, midrange and newbie authors all of whom are publishing books at the same time she is. Some will offer their books for free and others for $.99. Many will leave those books at these price points for promotional purposes with the objective of getting their books into as many readers’ hands as possible. They will be hoping to garner reviews. In my experience it takes about 100 downloads to get one review. That’s a lot of books you have to sell. If you overprice your work, no one will buy it.   Spending $6.99 on an unknown will not be as attractive as receiving a free book or one at $.099. Many best selling authors (myself included) price their books at $3.99 and $4.99. Anything under $5.00 is considered a bargain book and is more easily promoted on advertising sites and book-dedicated social media sites. There are so many more nuances one can address regarding pricing but covering them all would be a novel in and of itself.

My advice to this author is to read over the above, take a look at the bestsellers in her genre and make a list of price points. I would include general thrillers in this list also because there is a ton of crossover between straight thrillers and romantic suspense. At the same time, assess how you are introducing yourself to the reading public. Do you have your website, your social media accounts, your branding in tip-top shape? Are book two and three almost done (indie publishing has taught me that readers will veer to an author with deep inventory because, if they like your work, they want to click for the next one). Does your cover scream quality? People pay a little more if it looks like the next big thing but not much.

To put this in perspective, I have published (traditionally and as an indie) over thirty books. I have experimented with many price points from $.99 to $6.99. $2.99 to $3.99 is the sweet spot (read Mark Coker’s blog post at Smashwords on pricing). You can make a good living at this price point but not without a heck of a lot of work.

Price this first book to sell, garner fans, ask for reviews, build up your profile everywhere and keep writing so that you have inventory. This is a long-haul profession. It looks like you’re ready for it. Good luck.

P.S. I price my paperbacks for minimal return. I might make $1.00 to $2.00. That is because I want them to be reasonably priced and I know that 97% of my business as an indie is in digital sales.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Two very successful authors and one savvy, marketer share this panel with me. I’ll leave the hard marketing advice to their tried and true experience and respond as a consumer.

I’m a champion of Indie publishing. I read a lot, all genres, and I love to discover new writers. Unfettered access to any voice that wishes to be heard is the outstanding feature of Indie Publishing. I know I’m not alone in this opinion so as a new, untested voice I salute your maiden voyage.

I download work by unknown authors at least twice a week. My price point for an unknown is from 0 to 1.99 and there are several criteria that prompt my choice: a compelling title, one that invites, intrigues or amuses always gets a second look at the cover and a close read of the story blurb. It’s that book description that’s the hook. It must be revealing to a tantalizing extent (no spoilers), descriptive of some feature that sets the book apart from the cookie cutter template of the particular genre — maybe a well-crafted sentence or two that reveals a great character, an intriguing setting or a particularly unique situation. It must include something of the challenge inherent in the plot — in other words, give me a reason to want to read the story.

This short sell copy reflects the writer’s style and skill so it’s critical that the voice I’m considering spending my time with comes through loud and clear. Poor grammar, clumsy wording and typos are an immediate reason to move on, as is a dry recitation of plot points. If the cover matches the level of professionalism and care reflected in the title and the description, I bite. It sounds like my perspective buyer self takes in these criteria in an orderly way. Not so; it’s the blending of all the features that makes a work by an untried author enticing.

Considering just how fierce the competition is it’s great to have access to various platforms where you can stand out. Whether it’s an offering on a Bookbub-ish bargain site, a platform like Indie Book Nexus or a genre specific site, this is your chance to cut yourself from the herd.

There are degrees of how strong the attraction of a book offering is. I’ll always try a .00 price point book if the presentation interests me. I don’t view that as a cheapened offering, rather I see it as an invitation. If I’m going to invest up to 1.99 then I need an assurance of quality. The care and passion of the book sell copy is reflective of the care and passion in the work.  It takes an excellent presentation to move me to my 1.99 limit.  That hasn’t happen often for a new author with a stand-alone book. Of course, editorial reviews help — nice stuff if you can get it, but I don’t require that.

I’ll add that when I’ve fallen in love with a new author and she has no published work to move on to I am bummed. I vow to keep a lookout for a ‘next’, but it does not stay top of mind. A link to a mailing list for the next book’s release date is pretty good compensation.

You’ve made the decision to publish so I’m sure you’ve had the manuscript thoroughly edited and it is the best product you can provide to the reading public.

Invite every potential reader and if it’s a freely given invitation then know you’ll begin growing your audience. Wow me and I’ll pay for the next book. It’s an investment.

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First New Book of the Year! by Linda O. Johnston

February 6, 2020 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , , ,

My first new book of 2020 is a February release.  It’s Colton First Responder, a Harlequin Romantic Suspense book.

Yes, it’s one book in the HRS long-lived series about the Colton family, which is large and has family members living in branches all over the country. A Colton is a hero or heroine in each of the books in that series, so it contains a lot of highly romantic members. And of course they’re romantic suspense books, so those Coltons keep getting involved in relationships… and suspense, including murders.

It’s my second Colton book, and I don’t have any more planned, although that could change.  Meanwhile, I will have more HRS books coming out, though I don’t know if any will be published this year.  So Colton First Responder may not only be my first book of the year, but also possibly the only one.

COLTON FIRST RESPONDER (The Coltons of Mustang Valley)
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I mentioned last month that I wouldn’t be going to many, if any, conferences this year, although I attended four last year. The one I wasn’t sure about when I wrote my last blog post here was the Romance Writers of America National Conference. Since then, I’ve made up my mind—I’m not going. There has been a lot of controversy in RWA lately, and I’m hopeful things will eventually be worked out enough for the organization to survive. But because of the controversies, Harlequin will not be attending the conference, hence my decision not to, either.

Despite all the stuff that’s going on, I have renewed my membership in RWA and my local chapters. I’ve been a member for a long time, and hope to keep it all going.

How about you? How is your year going so far? Looking forward to anything in particular soon?

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30 Days In On Planning

February 5, 2020 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed
Author typing on an old typewriter | Tracy Read | A Slice of Orange

Happy February.  It’s hard to believe we are 36 days into a new decade.  Let’s get started.

Last month I invited you to follow me on my planning journey.  One month down and I am in love with planning.  Full disclosure, I have not settled on a system, yet.  Once I do, I’ll share it with you.  

In the past, at this time of the year, I would still be looking for a calendar I liked.  I am a huge Kate Spade fan and have been using KS planners for a few years.  It’s not to say they aren’t good because they are.  

What have I learned from my first month of organized planning?  I learned to focus and  not beat myself up when I don’t get everything done on my daily to do list.   

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube channels on planning and it’s fascinating. I’m so excited to find channels on writing and planning.  I watched another Sarra Cannon video about “Kanban Boards.”  I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.  In fact, I thought she was saying something else.  But when I watched the video, I knew it was exactly what I needed to help me organize my writing life.  

A Kanban Board forces you to focus on a few goals and all the tasks required to complete them.  To be specific, here’s the Wikipedia definition: A Kanban board is one of the tools that can be used to implement Kanban to manage work at a personal or organizational level.  

The way Sarra set hers up was on a board into three months.  I like the idea of focusing on three goals.  Here are my three: 1] Publish and promote both new and backlist titles to increase average income; 2] Increase fan engagement across social media, blog, BookBub, Amazon and newsletter 10%, 15%, 30% and 3] Complete Unexpected Love #2 and start a KDP Select book.  [For privacy reasons, I didn’t disclose the financial aspects of the first goal.]

The goals and their tasks are broken down by 30, 60 and 90 days.  My head went into a tailspin and I immediately understood why Sarra suggested limiting the goals to three or maybe two.  I chose three. If you’re inclined, you can also add a personal goal.  Each month has a different color to help keep things in order.  If you’re interested, check out her video [https://heartbreathings.com/how-to-achieve-your-goals-when-youre-busy/].

How did I do the first 30 days?  I missed the mark on a few things.  Seeing all of the tasks on a board made me face my new work reality.  I sort of mixed up my stickie notes…something I’ll correct in the next quarter.  This first thirty days, I planned to rebrand a series.  I made a set of covers late last year, but when I went back to them, I started having second thoughts and made another set.  I’m not satisfied with the new set and will start on another set this month.  This indecisiveness, has caused all the tasks attached to that series, to be pushed back.  A few of the other tasks for January which I’m carrying over include some minor admin things.   

This new plan allowed me to write again.  I hadn’t written much the last quarter.  I signed up for NANO, but didn’t complete the book. I would like to blame it on the business of life, but after NANO finished, I realized it wasn’t time to complete that book.  If I’d stayed with it, it would have meant I wouldn’t get a book out until summer and I felt that was too long of a gap between releases.  My last release was in October.  

Instead, on January 13th, I know this because I wrote it in my planner, I went back to working on The Good Girl Trois [I had written 2653 words and put it aside].  I made it a point to be consistent.  I set a daily goal of 1000 words per day.  That first week was hard.  There were a few days where I barely wrote 500+ words.  And days when I did 2000+.  As of today, I made my goal for January, 15,000.  My new goal is to complete this book by the end of February.  I’m not pressuring myself, but if I stay on track, I’ll make it.  

My social media has been up and down, but that’s my fault.  I have a plan, which I need to implement. 

This year, I really want to put all of the things I’ve learned from courses and conferences into play and develop a marketing plan that’s right for me. This could mean limiting conference attendance and author signings.  My goal this year is to publish four books and build up my readership. I hear you saying, “Author events will help with readership.”  That is true, but I really want to advance and or complete two of my series.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far, is planning is no joke.  I also see why, planner girls start working on their plans in October.  I don’t like playing catch up, but I am a lot further along this year than I have been in the past.  I’m excited to see how I do this month.

See you next month.


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POV: Going Deep and Staying There

February 4, 2020 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , ,

February Online Workshop
POV: Going Deep and Staying There (An Interactive Workshop)
Feb. 11 – March 8

Instructor: Suzanne Johnson

About the Class:

It doesn’t matter if you write first-person narrative or third-person with multiple viewpoint characters—getting deep inside a POV character’s head is the key to writing stories that grab readers by the heartstrings, no matter what genre you’re writing. In this workshop, each participant will have a chance to examine the different expectations of POV within different genres, look at the pros and cons of each POV technique, and then take his or her own work-in-progress, a finished work, or a favorite published work and deconstruct it to take the POV deep and keep it there. Each workshop participant will receive personal feedback through a series of assignments.

Lesson 1: POV–One of the Most Important Decisions You’ll Make
Lesson 2: POV and Genre (and a few words about head-hopping)
Lesson 3: POV Options, Pros, and Cons
Lesson 4: Hands-On Tips and Tricks to Deepen POV—Part 1 of 6
Lesson 5: Hands-On Tips and Tricks—Setting and Narrative, Part 2 of 6
Lesson 6: Hands-On Tips and Tricks—Action, Part 3 of 6
Lesson 7: Hands-On Tips and Tricks—Visceral Reactions/Emotion, Part 4 of 6
Lesson 8: Hands-On Tips and Tricks—Dialogue, Part 5 of 6
Lesson 9: Hands-On Tips and Tricks—Internal Dialogue, Part 6 of 6
Lesson 10: Balancing Third-Person Multiple POVs (three or more POVs)
Lesson 11: POV Hodgepodge and Wrapup

About the Author:

Suzanne Johnson has written more than twenty urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense novels and novellas from the pastoral setting of Auburn, Alabama. She realized her dream of becoming a full-time “hybrid” author in 2017 after finally leaving a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, including a firsthand introduction to Hurricane Katrina. As Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series and other urban fantasy novellas and shorts. As Susannah Sandlin, she writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, The Collectors romantic thriller series, and Wilds of the Bayou romantic thriller series. She also works as a professional copyeditor for other authors.


Request to join the online classroom HERE.

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Vintage 1960s Automobiles: The Chevrolet Corvair by Will Zeilinger

February 3, 2020 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , , ,

Manufactured by Chevrolet for model years 1960–1969, is still the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car with a rear-mountedair-cooled engine.

Initially, the innovative Corvair was manufactured and marketed as a 4-door sedan.

The compact Chevrolet Corvair was designed to compete with Volkswagens in the US market.

The 1960 Corvair went on sale on October 2, 1959, and was the first American compact sedan with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, unit-body construction, three-across seating, and the availability of an automatic transmission. Only four-door sedans were available at first, then came the 2-door coupe, convertible, 4-door station wagon, passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck body styles.

Though inspired by Volkswagen’s four-cylinder engine, Chevrolet engineers used Porsche engines as a guide.

To stay competitive with the VW Beetle, the new Ford Falcon, and Plymouth Valiant, Chevrolet chose to cut corners right where it showed: on the interior. The basemodel 500 was particularly drab. Everything inside was gray, both the fabric and vinyl upholstery and black rubber floor mats. The 700 models came with three interior colors from which to choose. Extra-cost options on both the 700 and 500 models includedthings we take for granted today, like sun visors for both driver and passenger, armrests, or a cigarette lighter.

The Corvair sales took a significant upturn when the Monza coupe debuted at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show. 

Though the Monza would rewrite what everyone’s idea of a Corvair was an alternative to the typical front-engined American family cars of the period.

The death knell for the Corvair came when Ralph Nader’s 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed” claimed that the car’s design that incorporated swing-axle suspension created a far greater risk of the vehicle rolling, which he described as “the one-car accident.”

Even though the suspension had been redesigned for much better handling and safety, the damage was done. Nader’s book became a best-seller, but in the consumer’s mind, the reputation of the Corvair was tarnished forever.  Chevrolet ceased production of the Corvair with the 1969 model.

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