how to plot a book

Kindle Select. Amazon author's page for Cheryl Sterling is live

It’s Thursday and we’re in the wayback machine, recycling a blog from 2017’s AtoZChallenge:

For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “K” is for Kindle Select

Kindle Select offers advantages and disadvantages to self-published authors. Explore more at http://www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

Kindle Select offers advantages and disadvantages to self-published authors.

Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited (K.U.) in July, 2014. The subscription program (currently $9.99 a month) allows readers unlimited access to a large selection of free ebooks (only ten at a time can be taken out. It’s like a Netflix for books). Amazon gives authors the option of enrolling their books in Kindle Select, the writing side of the program that feeds K.U.

Is Kindle Select the right program for you?

Let’s look at the pros and cons, then I’ll tell you of my experience and where I stand on the issue.

Pros:

The advantages of Kindle Select. Learn more at http://www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

The pros about Kindle Select.

  • Your book will automatically be available to K.U. subscribers.
  • Your book will automatically be available to be lent to other readers under the KOLL program (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library).
  • You can offer your book as a free promotion for 5 days out of the 90 day Kindle Select enrollment period for non-K.U. subscribers. The days do not have to be taken concurrently.
  • You can participate in the Kindle Countdown Deal, where you can run a limited sale, complete with a countdown clock, making a buy an urgency for your readers. Amazon has devoted a separate page to countdown deals, allowing alert buyers a way to check in for deals.
  • Earn a share of KDP’s Select Global Fund, a big pot of money ($16.8M this month) distributed among authors enrolled in Kindle Select. The allotment is based on number of pages downloaded and read more than 10%, plus books borrowed from the Lending Library.
  • Not having to format your book to different guidelines issued by distributors then individually upload them (I’m looking at you ibooks, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble).
  • You can offer print books at other sites, just not a digital version.
  • If you have multiple books out, offering an older title for free through Kindle Unlimited can generate interest  in your backlog.

Cons:

The disadvantages to self-published authors to use Kindle Select. Read more at http://www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

The cons about Kindle Select.

  • Amazon exclusivity for 100% of your book. You can not offer it anywhere else, and no more than 10% from your website. So, if you’ve been releasing a chapter a month and now decide to publish the entire work on Amazon, Kindle Select is not available.
  • You’re locked in for 90 days. Be aware: Kindle Select will automatically renew for another 90 days if you do not manually uncheck its box in your KDP bookshelf.
  • Owners of reading devices other than Kindle will not be able to download your book. Of course, they can always download the free Kindle reading app, but still. (I do 90% of my digital reading on my laptop).
  • You are at Amazon’s whim, which is powerful.
  • You are dependent on a single revenue stream.
  • The money earned per copy will not equal that of a non-Kindle Select (non-Kindle Unlimited) book.

My experience and opinion

In 2016, I and my writing partner published The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel through Kindle Select. We sold approx. 2100 copies to Kindle Unlimited users. Our income from those copies amounted to less than $50. Why? I can only guess that our 100 page book rode at the bottom of the Global Fund and/or readers did not go to the end of the book and/or saved it in their library for later (proven when we received small amount of monies months after we opted out of the program).

We are much happier, and a little richer, by keeping The Plot Thickens out of Kindle Select and offering it wide through other sellers.

Your mileage may vary. It’s a tough decision every author has to make. The good thing is, you can experiment for 90 days. Just be sure to unselect Select before the 90 days expires, because you’ll be automatically enrolled for another three months.

Have you tried Kindle Select? What’s been your experience?

Blessings,

Cheryl

If you’d like to continue reading my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

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Sometimes, linear writing does not come easy to me.

It’s Throwback Thursday

It’s Throwback Thursday, and I’m reprinting a post on linear writing that originally appeared five years ago. The concept of every story being different is still true. Sometimes, extensive plotting is required. Sometimes, you put your head down and jump in. I’d like to say it gets easier, but I’d be lying.
p.s. The short story mentioned is still on my hard drive. It morphed from a short story to part of a trilogy, all three subplots occurring simultaneously. I still don’t know how I’ll pull that off.

Linear writing doesn’t always mean linear plotting.

Linear writing doesn’t always mean linear plotting. In the debate of pantser vs. plotter, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being I’ll figure this out later and 10 equaling a hundred page outline), I’d put myself at about an 8. Yes, I’ll admit to creating a spreadsheet or two in my time, but I don’t always know what will happen three chapters from now. I generally have an idea, and I know that P, Q, and R have to happen before Z, but sometimes T, U and V are a bit hazy.

Sometimes, linear writing does not come easy to me.I’m having a haziness problem with the short story I’m working on. You’d think, with a short story, I’d have the opposite problem. With fewer words, scenes and subplots, the way to Z should be clear. Alas, not so much.

Being early solved my plot problem

Last Saturday, I attended a writing retreat. As providence would have it, I misjudged when it started, which left me with an hour of free time. Luckily, I had a fresh legal pad with me. I set out defining the GMC (goal, motivation and conflict)  of my main character, Ray. It didn’t take me too long to realize he lacked two of the three. I played the old game of  “Why does he want it?  Why does he really want it? and Why does he secretly, deep down, maybe-he-doesn’t-know-why want it?” I discovered a lot of his history which probably won’t make it into the story, but it sure as hell gave me his motivation. After that, his conflict was clear. What or who has the power to stop him?

Aliens are my go-to antagonists whether I am linear writing or not.I played this game with his antagonists, the aliens. Yes this is an alien story. I discovered they are my go-to antagonists. After I’d clarified their GMC, I realized they and old Ray have the same antagonist. This brought a third major character (or entity) into the story. There’s all kinds of secret keeping, double dealing and tension that wasn’t in the story before.

This is called the crunch. The juicy element that pulls you in and keeps you in. The bite to the story.

A new way of writing

I know the final scene. The challenge is, I will have to write it in an entirely different way than I normally do, which is linear writing, the comfort of A to Z. In order to preserve the twist, this will be a C, K, R, F kind of story. Non linear. Very Inception-like. Benjamin Button. Look here. No, over there.

I’ve turned to a new page on my legal pad and am working through the GMC of the three main characters and what scenes are crucial for each. I’m sure I’ll have to write them out of sequence then patchwork them together later.

It’s not quite pantsing. It’s a little scary, but it’s the way I wrote my very first story. I woke from a dream with a vivid ending. I didn’t know the characters, I surely didn’t know what GMC was, but I knew I had to get them to Z.

How do you write, and how do you get to Z?

 

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Story Genius' core message is to know your character's why. It emphasizes the importance of the author's knowing the origin of the main character's world viewpoint.

For this month’s contribution to #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop, I’m reviewing Story Genius by Lisa Cron. A member of one of my Facebook groups recommended it to me.

Story Genius’ Core Message

Story Genius’ core message is to know your character’s why. The author emphasizes the importance of you knowing the origin of your main character’s world viewpoint. Story Genius' core message is to know your character's why. It emphasizes the importance of the author's knowing the origin of the main character's world viewpoint. What specific event happened before the story started that has significantly driven all of her life decisions?

The “Know Your Why” concept is something I explored in my book, The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, in the chapter “5 Whys”. A member of my former writing group, Lisa, always drilled down to the character’s motivation. She force me to answer why they make current decisions based on a specific turning point in their early life.

For example, in an unpublished work of mine, the main character, Naomi, is fiercely loyal to her adopted family. She makes wrong and unethical decisions to salvage her brother’s reputation. Her “Why”? Peeling through the layers of her past, at age eight, she witnessed her birth parents’ murder/suicide. She vowed to do anything necessary to thank her adoptive family for taking her in. She validated their decision with her loyalty. This causes multiple problems from the start of the story, pushing her through the rabbit hole of bad decisions. Ultimately, she has to question her misbelief to attain her true goal.

Questions the author asks you to ask your characters

My very first, official writing conference I attended was Deb Dixon’s, based on her book, GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction. Since then, I’ve always looked at my character’s motivation, but Story Genius, asks you to look further and question more.

  • What early event changed your character’s view on the world?
  • How did it form a false belief  that has stopped him from getting what he really wants?
  • What inciting event at the story’s start pushes against his misbelief and causes him to make more and more wrong decisions as the story progresses?
  • What ultimately forces him to confront his misbelief and allows him to reach his goal?

Story Genius, the Subtitle:

How to Use brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel

The book’s subtitle is misleading. While the author touches on how humans are hardwired for story, she did not delve deep enough into the biology of explaining how our beliefs affect our behavior. For the best, in-depth explanation on that theory, pick up a copy of The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton.

The Biology of Belief does a much better job of explaining how our beliefs affect our behavior than Story Genius

In Conclusion

Story Genius reinforces a story tool I’ve used since the beginning: the character’s “Why” matters and drives the plot. I have not sharpened this tool lately, as I tend to gallop from one plot point to another. I now have to step back, ask questions, and make it clear to myself and my readers why my character makes the decisions she does. If I can bring her “Why” to the forefront, I’ll have a realistic, flawed character the reader can identify with.

What do you think?

Do you explore your character’s background before writing? How deep do you go? I hate character interviews. Who cares if she hated chocolate milk in the second grade? (unless her classmates teased her, warping her sense of friendship that carries on into adulthood, and clouds her view of society). See, that’s what I’m talking about.

Please comment if an event in your character’s past (B.S., before story) shapes the decisions he makes A.S. (after story).

More about #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop is a monthly blog hop for authors who want to learn more about being authors.

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop is a monthly blog hop for authors who want to learn more about being authors. Held the third Wednesday of the month, the members participate with “posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” If you would like to learn more or become a member, go here.

I’ll be back in July with another AuthorToolBoxBlogHop tip, and twice a week (fingers crossed) with other writing information and happenings in my life.

Blessings,

Cheryl

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