Priority Reading

Island

I just read the posted results of a survey done by goodreads, about when a reader abandons a book.  I was thinking of leaving a comment, but then I thought it might be lengthy for a comment, it would be better to post on my blog.

As an author the results are interesting to get a feel for what might make someone put down my book and at what point in the book that might happen; as a reader not so much.

I don’t know if the books that are listed there were posted by the readers taking the survey, or if those books were offered to them in a list. In any case, I am not interested in reading any of them, with the sole exception of The Lord of the Rings, of course; which I read and finished before they were popular, when I was a child.   However, as to the rest of the books mentioned, if I were the one taking the survey, I would have to say that I never started them, and I don’t intend to, because they are not the kind of books that I am interested in reading.

The reason for this is because as a reader I don’t choose a book to read for its popularity or because it was recently made into a movie.  I have very specific reading preferences and I already know that the kinds of books that I prefer to read are not ever going to be in the top 100 list.   I am not saying that I would never read a book in the top 100 list, but it would be the exception, rather than the rule.  Also, that I would not read a book just because it is in the top 100 list; that, in itself, would not make it more attractive to me.

It does seem interesting to me, though, that so many people have made a personal life-long reading rule based on what a random teacher said to them years ago. 

LifeTooShort

The main reason I find this so interesting is when I think about how many times teachers require students to read books they hate and have no interest in reading.  It is in school where we are taught to read books that don’t interest us personally, but we read them because we think they are books that we “need” to read because everyone else is reading them, or to appear “educated”.

Sure, I had to read a few books in school that I would have never read otherwise, but that was school.  Once I was allowed to choose the books that I wanted to read I never again wasted my time reading a book just because everyone else was reading it.  Whether historical romance novel, suspense novel or a theological study book; I have since chosen to read books that I know are “my kind” of books.  Due to this, it is very unlikely that I would not finish a book after I start it.

In the last eight months since I published my first book, and have had to get my toes wet in the book marketing side of things; I have tried to read fellow author’s books, either as a favor review swap thing or because I am interested in finding out what kind of books other authors are writing.  I am finding this to be counter-productive to me for writing potential further books.   First, because I don’t want other author’s plot ideas or style of writing vying for attention with my own while I am trying to write my next original story.  Also, because “life is short” and there are a limited number of hours in the day that I can spend reading.  I need to make my reading count.  That means that I need to spend more time reading books that have influenced me, touched me, and that I have personally enjoyed during my lifetime.  I need to spend time studying those books to find out what it was about those books that I liked, in order to improve my own books.  I mean, what is the point of writing a book if it isn’t “my kind of book”?   Also, and maybe the most important, is that I need to read more books about “how to edit” as that is probably the best use of my time, at the moment.

Of course that means that I will have less time for figuring out how to market my book(s), and that will probably mean that I will sell less copies of my book.  I need to make a conscious choice at this time.  If I want to be a one-book author who spends her time marketing and networking, or do I want to write another book.  Since I still have my “real” job that I must to do, and which has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, reading or marketing my books, I need to learn how to prioritize both my reading and my writing.   At this time, I think the marketing and social side of authoring is going to have to be last on my list.  Otherwise, I climb into bed at night frustrated that I did nothing fun or productive that day, at all.  Writing is fun for me, but it has the potential to not be so very quickly.  So many authors speak of writing their “best”, but I can’t do that when I am too busy investigating what other authors are doing and writing.  The only way that I am going to be happy about my writing is if I am true to myself and my writing is truly and exclusively “me”.

That being said, I would love to find an editor who instead of being a word dictator (yeah, I borrowed the term) is willing to work with me to allow me to be me in my writing, only an edited version of me.  Still looking!!!!

The thing about free books:

I have been reading a lot of posts online, as well as a few books on the subject of marketing.  Most are now saying that the free promotions are not as useful as they used to be—that it is counter-productive, that it is saturating the market, that it teaches people to not have to pay for books, etc.  That probably is true in the larger picture, and especially for those authors who have already broken the “obscurity barrier”.    However, that point of view overlooks several important things.

The obscurity barrier is when a new author is so unknown to potential readers, that it would take a miracle for them to be noticed by anyone who might actually be interested in reading their book.  I still fall into that category.  For those authors, the best thing in the world is to give away thousands of copies of their book to potential readers in the hopes of getting noticed and therefore establishing a fan base.  Many authors view this as throwing away money.  I don’t see it that way.  If you are so obscure that no one will ever find out that you even wrote a book, then the so called money that you are supposedly “throwing away” never existed to begin with.    Giving away free copies of your book is a much better plan than to spend hundreds of dollars on marketing with no guarantee that it will even pay for itself.  The free promotion gets your book into readers’ hands; they get the whole book to read in its entirety in order to make up their minds about your style of writing, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.  You might even get a few reviews by doing this.

On a personal level, I am very happy to give away free copies of my book to anyone who cares to receive it and read it.  To me it is a win/win for both me and the potential reader.

Here is another thing about free books on amazon:  I have lived outside of the United States, and I know how difficult it can be to find literature in English to read while abroad.  Books in most countries outside of the US are very expensive, even if they are not in English.  In South America, books in Spanish can be about three times as expensive as the same book sold in the US.  Now, granted a person can theoretically load up their Kindles before they ever leave the states.  What about the person who has never set foot in the United States, but enjoys reading literature in English to improve their vocabulary?  Whether it is for work or personal pleasure.  What about the child of a foreign missionary, or army brat, who not only doesn’t have the option to come to the United States and load up their Kindle, not to mention that they probably can’t afford to buy a Kindle in the first place?  By the way, those of you who send care packages to missionaries and the armed services should consider including a Kindle that you can fill up first with a bunch of great books.  There are a lot of drm free books out there to choose from; however it does take some time to find them.

The nice thing about free books on amazon.com, is that as long as you sign up with a US address, you can download free books anywhere in the world, without having to enter any sort of payment information.   Then you can read them on google chrome in the Amazon Cloud Reader or download one of the many free apps that Amazon offers their readers.

So, say you want to include a filled up Kindle in a care package, here is one idea of how you can do that.  Open a new amazon.com account and enter a US address.  Purchase a Kindle, either from that account or your personal amazon.com account.  After you make the purchase, you can begin to buy books for it.  Some Kindles need to have an initial connection within the US borders.  So have the Kindle shipped to yourself.  When you get the Kindle make sure it is registered to the new amazon.com account to establish the connection.  If you entered payment information in order to buy the Kindle, now is a good time to delete that information from the account.  At this point, you can ship the Kindle to its final destination, in a care package or however you wish to send it.  On the receiving end whoever gets the Kindle can continue to purchase as many free books as they wish, without having to enter any kind of payment information.  You can also continue to add free books to that account (as long as no one changes the username and password).  Should the recipient wish to buy books that are not free, they can enter their own payment information or someone can send them an amazon gift card, which they can then redeem in books for their Kindle.

Another nice thing is that for those people who are learning or seeking to improve their English, they can download an ebook and then search for the audio version, sometimes also for free.  Most of the classics are permanently free for Kindle on amazon.com. There are also many free audio books at librivox.  Some people might like to listen to it at the same time as reading it in order to improve their English pronunciation.   The same can be done for those learning Spanish; however there are not as many books available in Spanish or other languages.  Of course, the Kindle does have a text-to-speech feature that will read the book in a mechanical voice for English books.

One final thought on free books, is that I think it is a great thing for children and teenagers, who don’t have money for buying books, to be able to read for free.  Especially, books that are uplifting and inspirational, as well as entertaining.  I am very disappointed that most of the Christian Fiction is very expensive.  It is not unusual to find that they are about $14.99 dollars at the regular price for the Kindle version.  It is almost as if they are purposely trying to keep their books out of the reach of the younger generation, even when the books are categorized in the YA genre.  I feel sorry for those authors, because their books are good and definitely deserve to be read, but so many young people can’t afford them.  That is one of the reasons that when I find a free promotion, I want to let everyone know about it, and so I post them on my facebook page.  It may be the only way that certain people will ever have the chance to read them.

This is one of the reasons why I am so glad to be a self-publisher and have never wished to be published by a publishing company.  I, myself, can set the price of my books to whatever I wish and offer many free promotions, as well as being able to give away as many free copies of my books as there are people who wish to read them.  Now is the right time to mention that you may send me an email (free at aslauggorbitz.com) anytime to request a free copy of any of my books.  Please specify which book and include what format you prefer—Kindle, epub, PDF, etc.

Take a look!

Sorry, I have been AWOL lately.  My oldest son accidentally deleted my author website a few weeks ago, and I have been trying to decide what to do about it. I know that I am doing exactly opposite from what is considered expert advise, those who say that you should consolidate and keep everything on one page.  I now have two websites and one blog, in addition to my author pages on facebook, goodreads, crossreads, etc.

I did like my old website, in spite of being told it didn’t look very professional.  I had made the backgrounds for it myself, and it had a very definite Scottish feel to it, which I liked.  I suppose I could have just put it back the way it was, but I guess I am not that kind of person.  It had a very definite feel of “been-there-done-that” which made me want to try something different.   I could always go back to the way it was, but I like “new”.

So, for the last few weeks I have been looking through Joomla templates, selecting a few that could possibly work for me.  Then I had to actually learn Joomla — how to change the DNS, how to install Joomla itself, how to install a new template, how to upload the content, make a new logo for it, etc.   Some Joomla templates are not straightforward about how to personalize them.

Unlike my husband and my sons, I don’t have an overly developed love of learning new things.  The things I learn are mostly due to necessity, rather than just wanting to learn how to do stuff.  Having said that, I do like to do certain things and in order to do them I have to learn how.  Such as graphics; I even went so far as to design my own video game; I am still working on that, though.   I have been dabbling in graphics programs for the last twelve or so years, so it was natural that I would like to design my own book covers.  I can’t say that I am an expert, but I can say that I like how they turned out, and if not I can always change it.  Like the cover for my new book, Maiden of Fana.  Even though I love it; it appears I am the only one who does.  I didn’t even get one like for it on my facebook page.  Oh, well!  Which means that I will probably have to redesign it.  I just have to figure out what I really want the book to say at first sight.

Now that my new website is done, for the moment; you can all go take a look at it, if you like.  I added some new content, and kept some of the better content from my previous website.  I have to admit this one does look more professional, I don’t know if that is a good thing or not.

Please take a look at the featured authors, so far I have two authors.  If you care to be featured, please let me know.  The only criteria is that you be the author of family-friendly literature—No sex or mature scenes or heavy swearing.  Take a look!