Which Blurb Should I Choose?

Okay, I need some feedback on this one. I have written three different blurbs for the back cover of my book, Acceptance. Each one is completely accurate, yet they convey very different feelings.

The Romantic Angle

This is from my query letter. Again, it’s accurate, but I think it makes the book sound like a teen romance (a la Twilight) when it’s not. I’ve had adult women and a man read the book, and they’ve all liked it; it’s not sickeningly cheesy.

Kalyn Reid is a different kind of debutante. On her sixteenth birthday she is publicly presented to her family, friends and neighbors as an adult and is given a pearl necklace to mark the occasion. Then she is bitten by a vampire.

Thus Kalyn enters adulthood as a Yaechahre—a group of humans who have served vampires for over 2,500 years.

In the days following her Acceptance, Kalyn thinks her only problem in life is how to maintain her dignity around her vampire mentor, Anselm. She has a desperate crush on him, which often leaves her bumbling like a fool. He sweetly smoothes over the awkward moments, but makes it clear that things are “just business” between them.

But in the blink of an eye, Kalyn’s entire world is engulfed in flames as her father, mother, and group leader die in rapid succession—murdered by a strange new breed of vampire. She, Anselm, and his brother, Micah, suddenly become involved in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as they try to find the murderer before he finds them.

Thrown together in a desperate struggle for survival, Anselm’s resolve to keep business separate from pleasure begins to crumble, and Kalyn finds herself closer than ever to realizing her dreams. But as she watches him execute their enemies with medieval ruthlessness, she finds herself wondering, “Do I really want him?”

The Coming-of-Age Angle

Coming-of-age is also a part of the plot, but I think this sounds like a teen book and won’t attract adult readers.

Kalyn Reid is a different kind of debutante. On her sixteenth birthday, she is formally presented to her family, friends, and neighbors as an adult, and she’s given a pearl necklace to mark the occasion. Then she is bitten by a vampire.

Thus Kalyn enters adulthood as a Yaechahre—a group of humans who have served vampires for countless generations.

But what should have been a gentle transition into adulthood unexpectedly turns into a crash course in survival as a strange new breed of vampire begins murdering people in Kalyn’s group. Suddenly Kalyn finds herself orphaned and on the run—caught up in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as the group’s survivors try to find the murderer before he finds them.

And as she watches her vampire mentor execute their enemies with medieval ruthlessness, her first test of character isn’t how she faces death, but how she accepts the people who will kill to keep her alive.

The Good vs. Evil Angle

This description makes no mention of romance or Kalyn’s age, which I think would make it more attractive to adults. I also deemphasize Kalyn’s role, which I think makes it more attractive to men. This is closer to the main plot of the book, and puts a bit more emphasis on the other characters. While Kalyn is the main character, Anselm and Micah figure very prominently–to the point that I think of them as secondary main characters. They’re just too prominent and we know too much about them for them to be true secondary characters.

The one drawback is that this blurb seems a little too general. And it’s not as strong a piece of writing as the two previous ones (although I did create it in a bit of a hurry; I could spend more time with it and perhaps improve it).

Kalyn Reid comes from a long line of humans—ninety-six generations, to be exact—who have spent their lives serving vampires. And for the past two thousand years, it’s been a peaceful occupation. But a strange new type of vampire has appeared, and the report from a defector is that the Others are preparing for something… but what?

The answer is delivered suddenly, as the humans and vampires in Kalyn’s group are murdered or kidnapped in rapid succession. But when the survivors turn to their own for sanctuary, they find their brethren every bit as dangerous as the killer hunting them.

Betrayed and outnumbered, the group’s survival requires a level of loyalty and self-sacrifice that hasn’t been seen for more than a generation.

So, which blurb makes you want to read the book the most, and if it’s the third one, what changes might you make to it to make it sound better?

 

Interview with Scott H Young

I ran across Scott Young’s blog some time ago when I was writing about my battle with procrastination, and I have slowly become a regular reader. Being a rather slow, introverted, laid-back personality type, I find people like Scott terribly interesting, just because they’re such go-getters and they do unconventional things successfully.

I also noticed–after reading a number of Scott’s articles–that he makes his living writing, so I asked him if I could interview him for my blog (and my own curiosity). He graciously obliged, and here is what he has to say about writing for a living:

Q: You’ve been blogging for some time and have produced a butt-load (can I say butt-load?) of articles. You seem to have a rather large audience, gauging by the number of comments I see. Have you done a lot of active promoting of your blog, and if so, what did you do? Any recommendations for building readership?

A: Be patient and be interesting. The two biggest mistakes bloggers make is that they give up too soon (building an audience takes time) or that they’re too generic. The latter point can actually come with practice; few bloggers are amazing out of the gate.

Q: It’s my understanding that you make a living by your blogging and self-published books. Is that the entire source of your income or only a portion of it? What else do you do to supplement your income? Do you plan on living solely on your writing one day?

A: Yes, I’ve been living completely off my blog for the last two years, mostly from sales of my rapid learning course. [I should point out that Scott’s been blogging since Feb 2006, so he spent 4 years building up an audience and product before he became self-sufficient with his writing.] It can take awhile to figure out a revenue model that works for you and your audience. I certainly made a lot of missteps in the beginning, but now I’ve reached a comfortable point where I can earn a living while still keeping the majority of my readers happy.

Q: I noticed that you do not sell ads on your blog. Does your blog make money, or is it strictly a place for your own thoughts and a way to generate interest in your books?

A: I started with ads, but unless you have a particularly high-traffic website, they’re really hard to earn a living from. Since the money is negligible, I’d rather not clutter my blog with trashy ads.

Q: You sell your books on your blog, but do you have them placed anywhere else (Amazon, for instance)? If you don’t have them anywhere else, what made you decide to not list them elsewhere?

A: They’re all sold through me, although other bloggers can affiliate andsell my products for 50% commission, so you might see links to them on other websites. Going through Amazon or iTunes is worth considering, but if the traffic is coming directly from your website, the surcharge and restrictions they place on you usually don’t make it worth it.

Q: I checked out the free chapter of The Little Book of Productivity. Did you do your own design and formatting for it?

A: No I paid an ebook designer. Many people can do a design for fairly cheap if you’re serious about an ebook, but I did my first three ebooks without any design help, so if you’re low on funds it’s not strictly necessary.

Q: I watched a show, “A Day in the Life…” featuring Timothy Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek. The way he thought and approached his work reminded me of you. You and he and many young, successful entrepreneurs seem to have very similar personalities (I’ll call it the “entrepreneur personality type.”) 

From what I have observed, EPT’s seem to have some things in common:

  • EPT’s tackle big goals, but typically do them in a short amount of time (your 4 years of MIT in 1 year is a good example).
  • EPT’s seem to focus on just one or two things for a short period of time (a year or less, typically), do it successfully, then move on to something else.
  • EPT’s are always seeing new possibilities in everything and they tend to ride the front of the new-technology wave.
  • EPT’s take a lot of risks (although they would say they’re calculated risks).
  • EPT’s always seem to do things quickly (mostly thanks to life-hacking) and have a goodly amount of energy that keeps them going throughout the day, week after week.

Do you see anything else that you would add to that list? Furthermore, do you think there is there a way for those of us who aren’t born-EPT’s to develop that ability to not only be successful and do what we love, but to make it look easy?

A: Well I think there’s definitely similarities in the personalities of ambitious people, particularly bloggers. After all, it’s a certain personality type that’s attracted to trying to make a living unconventionally and writing about your pursuits. That said, I wouldn’t worry if you don’t think you fit the mold. After meeting many successful entrepreneurs, I can say there is a huge range in personalities that work. You just need to find what  works for you.

Q: Are there any other tips or suggestions you’d give burgeoning bloggers and would-be authors?

A: Do it because you love it. Nothing is more obvious that reading a blogger who is just in it for the money. Writing, particularly about yourself, is too hard and the chances of success too sporadic to go at it in any other way.

So, there you have it: write because you love it, write on a theme (or three; The Pioneer Woman is a good example of having several specific themes: cooking, photography, and living on a cattle ranch), and do it for years. Eventually, success will be yours.

Troll Brain Screws Me Again

Sometimes a rage comic is just the best form of expression.

So, we’re coming back from vacation on Sunday, and about halfway through an 8-hour car ride, I get comfy in my seat, put on my headphones, and chill to my eclectic blend of music.

My husband’s window was down and the breeze felt good. I was soaking up some sunlight, getting my vitamin D. I closed my eyes and got into pre-nap mode.

Then I began thinking about a scene for my second book. I imagined a conversation between Kalyn and Anselm. It was kind of romantic, then it covered a lot of really important points, and ended up with Anselm simultaneously laughing and crying over the memory of Isaac. It was all quite beautiful, really.

When I got home, I had to take a bath and then I went to bed, exhausted. The next evening I realized I left my USB key at work, so I didn’t have the most recent copy of the book, and I knew better than to mix versions.

Finally, on Tuesday, I had the time to write that scene.

I CAN’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT!

This is why I try to write down everything as soon as I think of it–even if it’s out of order, or is for a book or story I’m not primarily working on at the moment. If I don’t, good things are lost forever.

Selling Short Stories

I’m getting ready to put my first short story on Amazon (if I’ll just make myself buckle down and do the last edits!), and I’m starting to gear up to write more short stories to sell.

The original purpose of publishing some short stories–and the reason why I started writing Bloodsuckers and publishing here for free–was to get some name recognition and develop a following. I wanted to market myself in order to pique the interest of a publisher and/or agent.

But this blog post is making me think that there might actually be some money to be made in selling short stories on Amazon. When I say there’s money to be made, I don’t mean a fortune; I’m talking about an extra $20-$35 a month in income per story. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but our finances are such that I wouldn’t sneeze at an extra $20 – $35 a month. (That at least allows me to buy some books for myself). And, of course, the more you put up for sale, the more that income increases until you can eventually see your way towards writing full-time.

At $20-$35 per month in income from each story, I would need 45-80 short stories or novellas published in order to replace my current salary. That sounds like a hell of a lot of writing–if I did one story a week, it would take me a year to get what I needed built up–but it’s not an impossible goal.

When I look at writing one novel per year, I can’t see it making enough money every year to support me. And, in all honesty, most novelists do not live by novels alone; they write for magazines or do other freelance writing. But, if I were to write short stories full-time, I could conceivably live on that while still publishing a novel or two every year (after all, all of the writing I’ve done so far has been done while working a regular 9-to-5 job with commute). That would make the money from my novels an icing on the cake. We could afford to travel again, I could put money into my retirement, etc. I might even work up to owning that vacation cottage on the west coast of Ireland.

Time to start putting daydreams on paper and sell them!