Now Available: THESE SAVAGE BONES (Plus, I Get Vulnerable About What It’s Like Being a Published Author)

savagebonesfinalOver the last several weeks, I’ve been sharing with you what I’ve learned about self-publishing as I navigate the process myself for the first time. We’ve talked about how to write book blurb, how to find a cover designer, how royalties and advances work in traditional publishing, and the costs and royalty rates of self-publishing.

I’ve learned so much throughout this process and have gained a newfound respect for indie authors. And today I’m so excited to announce that after months of hard work, my YA novella, THESE SAVAGE BONES is now published on Amazon and available for Kindle!

You can click here to purchase your copy, or, if you’d like to read the first chapter for free, click here.

Here’s a description of the story:

Mexico, 18These Savage Bones: a novella by Kaitlin Hillerich75. Twenty-three-year old Esperanza de la Rosa knows more about steam engines and electromagnetics than a proper lady should. Fiercely independent, she’s more interested in science and superstition than finding a suitable husband.

When Esperanza’s uncle is murdered during the Day of the Dead, her world is shaken. To catch the killer, she must accept the help of the last person she wants to see—her ex-fiancé Alejandro Valladares, a gentleman turned bounty hunter with a troubled past.

Thrust into a tangled web of secrets and lies that threaten to destroy everything she thought she knew, Esperanza must uncover the truth and bring her uncle’s murderer to justice or her failure will haunt her forever.

So how does it feel to officially be a published author? Honestly, very surreal. It hasn’t completely sunk in yet, and I’m still getting used to thinking of myself as an author.

In my mind I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve never thought of myself as an author. For me, I’ve always thought of an author as someone who has had their work published. Now that I have a book people can purchase and read I suppose that puts me in that category, but it still feels strange.

It’s also very exciting. I’ve been writing for 11 years now and have written a handful of novels that never saw the light of day, and it’s such a thrilling experience to finally be able to put a story in the hands of readers. I feel so honored and humbled that people actually want to spend their time and money on my book, and it’s extremely fulfilling as a writer. Knowing that I now have readers means the world to me.

All that being said, I’m now going to be honest and vulnerable with you. Publishing is also scary and nerve-wracking. I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself throughout the process, “Are you really going through with this?” At times my doubt would kick in and I would wonder if I was making a huge mistake. What if the story sucked? What if people hated it?

It took me a while to work up the nerve to hit that “publish” button on Amazon, and after I did I felt a little ill. Publication has been one of my deepest, darkest fears as a writer, but I knew that if I wanted to start building a career as an author, it’s a fear I would have to overcome.

It’s hard putting your story out there–it’s a part of yourself, and you’re exposing yourself to criticism and rejection. It takes a lot of courage to become vulnerable and share your work with the world. Though I haven’t received any yet, I know negative reviews are inevitable because it’s impossible to write a book everyone loves.

But I’m trying to remember that I didn’t write this book for those readers–I wrote it for the readers who will fall in love with the story and characters. I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, you can’t be afraid to publish your story because of the people who will hate it. You need to publish your story because there are people out there who will love it, and they’re the ones you wrote it for.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let your future haters rob your future readers of the joy of reading your story.

Writing THESE SAVAGE BONES has been such an amazing experience. When I first decided to write and self-publish a novella three months ago, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. It’s been a challenging journey and I’ve been forced to step way outside my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I decided to do this. When we stretch ourselves until we’re uncomfortable it’s how we grow as writers, and I feel like I’ve grown so much through this process.

If you’re thinking of self-publishing your book–or even submitting your book to a traditional publisher–I hope you will have the courage to put your story out there for the world to see. As writers, we have to learn how to be brave, and the only way to do that is through practice. At some point, we have to take the plunge. I know it’s terrifying and uncomfortable and downright hard, but if you’re always afraid of falling you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to fly. If I can overcome my fears I know you can to, and I want you to know that I believe in you, friend. Mmk?

I’m looking forward to seeing how THESE SAVAGE BONES does in the upcoming weeks, and if you’d like to purchase your own copy, click here. (Or, if you’d like to read the free sample chapter first you can do so here). I greatly appreciate your support, and I’m honored to have you as a reader.

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The Writer’s Guide to Self-Publishing Costs and Royalties

Thinking about self-publishing your book? Learn the costs involved and what sort of royalties you can except!Last week, I broke down what authors can expect from advances and royalty rates of traditional publishers. Today, as promised, we’re going to take a look at the self-publishing side of things.

I’ve been exploring the world of self-publishing for the first time as I intend to self-publish my upcoming novella, THESE SAVAGE BONES. I’m learning as I go, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you to help make your publishing journey a little smoother. So today, let’s delve into the costs of self-publishing and what sort of profits you can expect.

Self-Publishing Costs

When you publish your book with a traditional publishing house, you’re not expected to pay any of the costs involved in creating the book. But when you self-publish you become the publisher, so all of these costs are left up to you. What kind of costs are we talking here?

Now, how much you spend on all of these can vary widely. Indie authors have published books on budgets of a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand.

While you don’t have to spend thousands, you do want to make sure you’re putting out a high-quality product. You want your book to look professional inside and out to build trust and credibility with your readers.

So how about much should you expect to spend? Keeping in mind these numbers vary widely, here’s a very rough average: Cover Design ($100) + Editing ($1,200 for a 80k word story) + Formatting ($60)= at least $1,360, plus marketing.

How much should you spend on marketing? Again, that’s another number that varies widely. Maybe you don’t want to spend any money on marketing. Maybe you just want to spend $20 on Facebook ads. Or maybe you want to buy a Kindle for a giveaway. You can do whatever fits your budget.

I know it can be scary spending money on something that isn’t making you money yet. A lot of indie publishers say to view these costs as an investment rather than an expense since once your book is published it will continue to earn you money from royalties without any additional work on your part (except maybe some marketing).

While this is a good mindset, I’m going to be honest with you–just like with a traditional publishing house, when you publish your book you run the risk of it flopping. It might not earn back the money you put into it, or you might just break even. There’s really no way to know until you try.

With any sort of business there is some amount of risk, and as a self-publisher you are now a small business owner. And as any business owner knows, you must spend money to make money. I don’t want you to be afraid to take the risk to pursue your publishing dreams, but I do recommend you be smart about it. Spend what you can afford, and stay within your budget.

Self-Publishing Royalties

As we get into royalties in the self-publishing world, I’m going to specifically be looking at Amazon since it’s the most popular and has some of the highest royalty rates. However, there are are other platforms where you can sell your book such as Kobo, Google Play, Nook, and iBooks.

You might decide to just stick with Amazon, or you could sell your book on multiple platforms to create multiple streams of income. I’d recommend testing out different platforms to see what works for you and where your book might sell well–you never know!

When you self-publish through Amazon your have two options:

1) Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)–This allows you to publish your e-book on Amazon for Kindle.

2) Create SpaceOwned by Amazon, this allows you to publish print books. Amazon prints the books as they’re purchased and delivers them for you, and you don’t have to pay anything up front. The cost of printing the book is taken out of the profit. Your book will only be sold on Amazon, though you can pay a fee to sell it through other retailers such as Barnes and Noble.

So what are some of the main differences between traditional publishers and Amazon in terms of royalties? Unlike traditional publishers who only send out royalty checks twice a year, Amazon pays out royalty checks monthly as long as you hit the $100 minimum. Amazon authors also receive larger royalty rates, and as a self-publisher you don’t have to pay an agent their 15% of your profits for their services.

The other major difference is that in self-publishing, you don’t receive an advance. That means your book doesn’t have to pay back its advance before you start receiving royalties–you begin receiving royalties right away. (For a more in-depth explanation of advances, click here).

E-book Royalties

So what do Amazon’s royalty rates look like? First, let’s take a look at the e-books:

  • E-books priced between $0.99-$1.99= 35% royalty rate
  • E-books priced between $2.99-$9.99= 70% royalty rate
  • E-books priced above $9.99= 35% royalty rate

Compared to the traditional publishing average of a 25% royalty rate for authors, these numbers look pretty good. Also, remember that as a self-publisher you also won’t have to give an agent her 15% cut of your earnings. Even better.

If you’re wondering about how much to charge for your e-book, let me take a moment to beseech you to please price it at least at $2.99. Your book is worth at least as much as a cup of coffee, and after all the work you put into it you deserve that 70% royalty. You might do a temporary sale or promotion for less, but please don’t undervalue your work. Mmk?

Print Book Royalties

So what about print books? First of all, Create Space only prints paperbacks, not hardcovers (thought I should point that out). Royalties also get a little trickier here, as Amazon calculates your royalties based off the cost it will take them to print the book, which seems fair enough to me. You can use their royalty calculator here to get a rough estimate. Let’s do a little math, shall we?

Let’s say you’re printing a 300 page novel with a standard 5.5″ x 8.5″ trim. Let’s say you set your list price at $12.99. After you add up Amazon’s costs & cut (the numbers listed in the right-hand column if you’re using their calculator), which total $10.02, you’re left with a profit of $2.97. That comes out roughly to a 23% royalty rate.

Now, that might not seem like much, but do you remember the royalty rate of a traditionally published paperback? It was: 8% for the first 150,000 copies sold, then 10% after. (Plus, remember, you have to pay your agent 15% of your profits.)

That means for that same paperback book you’d receive an 8% royalty of $1.04 per sale, minus your agent’s 15%.

Looks a lot better now, doesn’t it?

The Down Side…

But how many books can you expect to sell? Remember that in the U.S. on average, a (traditionally published) book sells around 250 copies per year and 3,000 in its lifetime. But for self-published books, the average is 250 copies sold in its lifetime. Ouch.

That means your $12.99 paperback with its profit of $2.97 per copy would make you a grand total of $742.50. And do you remember that $1,360 cost of creating the book we averaged out earlier? Yep, you didn’t actually make a profit. Double ouch.

The advantage to a traditional publisher is that you don’t have to fear losing money because the publisher is investing in the book, not you. And, a traditional publisher will pay you an advance (anywhere between $5k-$15k), which you won’t have to pay back even if the book loses the publisher money. So in traditional publishing, there’s no financial risk for the author.

Don’t Give Up

I know these numbers can seem disheartening, but you have to remember that they’re just that–numbers. Averages. Statistics. You have no idea how your book might do until you put it out there, so don’t let the numbers stop you from trying. You might sell 500, 1,000, or 10,000 copies–who knows.

Building a loyal readership, putting efforts into marketing, and publishing a back list books to create multiple income streams are all things you can do to increase your odds of success. And, of course, writing a kick-ass story.

Whether you choose self-publishing or traditional publishing, neither road is going to be easy. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. And with either one, it’s going to be really hard to make a living as an author. This is why most authors write for the love of it, not for the money.

But if seeing your books published is your dream and passion, as it is mine, never give up. Keep publishing, keep trying, keep failing, keep learning. And most importantly, keep writing because it’s what you love.


These Savage Bones: a novella by Kaitlin HillerichMy upcoming novella, THESE SAVAGE BONES, is a YA murder mystery set in 19th century Mexico against the backdrop of the traditional festival Dia de los Muertos–the Day of the Dead.

THESE SAVAGE BONES will be released on Oct. 25th, and you can read more about the story and sign up for a publication reminder by clicking here.

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How to Find and Hire a Cover Designer for Your Book (+ Cover Reveal for These Savage Bones!)

One of the most important parts of self-publishing is making sure your book has a gorgeous cover. Here's what you need to know about finding and working with a cover designer!If you’ve been following the blog lately, you’ll know that I’ve been working on my first novella, THESE SAVAGE BONES. This will also be the first story I’ve self-published, so there’s a lot of exciting things going on!

And it’s about to get even more exciting, because today I’m unveiling the cover for THESE SAVAGE BONES!

Are you ready to see the cover, friend?  *begins drum roll*

TA-DA!

These Savage Bones: a novella by Kaitlin Hillerich

Now, how gorgeous is that?? *SQUEE*

I’m so, so excited with how this cover turned out, and I have to give a huge thanks to my cover designer Victoria Cooper for her amazing work!

So far, being able to have a say in the design of my cover has been my favorite part of the self-publishing process. Seeing my name on that cover for the first time was also strangely thrilling/surreal, and it’s slowly beginning to sink in that I’m actually going to have a published book out there. I’m definitely starting to feel like a real author!

THESE SAVAGE BONES will be released on October 25th, and you can read a description of the story and sign up to receive an email reminder when its published by clicking here!

Now without further ado, let’s get on with today’s topic!

Why You Need an Amazing Cover

We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but unfortunately that’s exactly what readers tend to do. Humans are visual creatures, and a beautiful cover make us want to read a book even more. It creates the perception that what’s on the inside must be just as good as what’s on the outside.

You cover is going to be the reader’s first impression of your book–they’ll probably notice it before they even read the title. In a matter seconds, they will decide whether or not they want to click on your book on Amazon. If you have a gorgeous cover, they will be compelled to click and find out more about the story. But if your cover is a poorly designed eyesore, the chances are greater that they will pass over it and move on to the next book.

As unfair as all of this might sound, there’s no denying that a beautiful cover is more likely to draw in readers. You NEED to convince readers to click on your book. If they don’t, they’ll never get to your blurb or sample your first chapter or read reviews about how awesome your story is.

Your cover is your first step in convincing a reader that they need to read your book, so spending the money on a gorgeous cover is a must!

Where to Find a Cover Designer

Google is literally your best friend when it comes to finding a cover designer. I stumbled across my cover designer through a Google search, which led me to a website called The Book Cover Designer.

The website offers pre-made covers from different designers, and while I was browsing I kept noticing that all of the covers I loved were made by the same designer–Victoria Cooper. When I clicked on her profile I was excited to see she also offered custom designs in addition to her pre-made covers, which was exactly what I needed.

Which brings me to my next tip–if you see a cover you like on Amazon, check the book’s copyright page which usually credits the cover artist. Then, do a quick Google search (I told you Google was your friend!) to find out more about the designer.

Finally, a fantastic resource for finding a cover designer is this list from indie author Joanna Penn. There are a ton of cover designers listed, so it’s a great place to start your search!

What to Look For

When you’re considering a cover designer, there’s a few things you want to look for. First, browse their portfolio and make sure their work looks professional. You’ll also want to consider their style and whether or not it fits the vision you have in mind for your cover.

Additionally, look for reviews and testimonials from the designer’s customers. Was the designer easy to work with? Did they have good communication with the author? Did they finish the work on time? Look into the designer’s reputation and find out what they’re like to work with and if their customers were pleased with their work.

Consider Your Budget (But Also Consider Quality)

You can pay anywhere from fifty bucks to several thousand for a book cover. While you don’t have to spend thousands, you definitely want to invest in a good cover! I would say on average expect to pay at least around $100 for a good ebook cover (front design only), and $200-$300 for a print cover (front, back, and spine).

Of course, you will find designers who charge more or less than those figures. For example, my cover designer charges $85 for a custom ebook cover, which is a little below that estimation. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she raises her prices in the future as her work is gorgeous and I felt I was getting a high quality cover! So a lower price doesn’t always necessarily mean lower quality.

Another option to consider if you’re on a tight budget is a pre-made cover. These covers cost a little less than their custom counterparts and are made specifically for one-time sale to ensure your book is the only one with that design. Since I needed something very specific for THESE SAVAGE BONES this wasn’t a good option for me, but there are tons of gorgeous pre-made covers out there!

Book in Advance

Make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to book a cover designer if you’re getting a custom design! How far in advance will probably depend on the popularity of the designer and how many projects they currently have booked. I think I contacted my designer about a month and a half before my planned release for THESE SAVAGE BONES, but for some designers you might need to book as fear ahead as several months in advance.

You’ll also want to consider how long it will take the designer to complete the cover. I was lucky and received my finished cover in just a few days, but from what I understand the average turnaround is 2-3 weeks. The length of time will also depend on how many revisions you ask the artist to do until you’re happy with the design. Victoria communicated quickly and we only went through two drafts of the design, so that probably helped to speed up the process.

Communicating Your Vision

Sometimes, it can be hard to communicate to your designer how you’re envisioning the cover in your head. Some of the design elements you’ll want to consider are color tones, font style, layout, and imagery. You’ll also want to consider the genre of your story and the overall mood you’re trying to convey. What do you want the reader to feel when they look at your cover? The mood of a romance cover is going to be far different from that of a horror cover!

Try browsing the covers of other books in your genre for inspiration, and if you find examples of elements you really like and are looking for in your cover, show them to your designer. You can also help provide the designer with inspiration by telling them what your book is about, where it’s set, and what your main character looks like.

I would also recommend keeping an open mind as your designer might surprise you with something better than what you had originally envisioned. For example, I originally suggested a desert background for my cover, but when I saw the city background Victoria had used I ended up like it much better! That being said, don’t be afraid to also (politely!) ask the designer to make changes if there’s something you don’t like.


What do you think about the cover for THESE SAVAGE BONES? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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A Simple Outline for Writing a Killer Book Blurb

Condensing a novel into a short, enticing book blurb that convinces readers to buy is no easy task. If you have no idea what to include in your blurb, this simple outline of the must-haves will help!In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been working on a novella (and shared some reasons why you should write one of your own!). This week, I’ve been drafting a blurb to go along with said novella, and I’m finally ready to officially introduce you to the story! (Eep!)

Are you ready, friend? The title of my novella is THESE SAVAGE BONES, and here’s your first peek at the story:

Mexico, 1875. Twenty-three-year old Esperanza de la Rosa knows more about steam engines and electromagnetics than a proper lady should. Fiercely independent, she’s more interested in science and superstition than finding a suitor.

When Esperanza’s uncle is murdered during a festival celebrating the Day of the Dead, her world is shaken. To catch the killer, she must accept the help of the last person she wants to see—her ex-fiancé Alejandro Valladares, a gentleman turned bounty hunter with a troubled past.

Thrust into a tangled web of secrets and lies that threaten to destroy everything she thought she knew, Esperanza must uncover the truth and bring her uncle’s murderer to justice or the guilt of her failure will haunt her forever.

I’m pretty pumped about this story, and I’m excited to finally be sharing the details with you! So when will THESE SAVAGE BONES be available? I’m currently planning on an October 25th release. I’ll also be revealing the cover on October 1st, so stay tuned! (Spoiler alert: it’s amazingly gorgeous).

I’m not gonna lie though, writing that blurb was hard. Which is why today I want to share with you what I learned about writing a blurb so that hopefully you’ll have an easier time of it than I did!

What is a Book Blurb?

A blurb is the description of the story found on the back cover of a book. It’s brief–no more than 100-150 words–and creates interest in the story without giving away major spoilers or the ending.

Basically, the name of the game with a blurb is to entice readers to buy your book. Now, that’s a lot of pressure to condense a 50,000+ word novel into 150 words or less in a way that will convince readers to buy. Where do you even begin?

There are many different ways to write & organize a book blurb, but today I’m going to try to simplify the process for you by breaking it down into two main sections: 1) The hero before the story’s issue, and 2) The hero after the issue is introduced. In both sections, I’ll share the must-haves you’ll need to include to make your blurb work.

Sound like a plan? Let’s get started!

Part 1: Set the Stage

This part of the blurb is a quick snapshot that shows “the calm before the storm” before the hero’s life is turned upside down. It introduces a) the hero, b) the setting, and c) the hero’s life before the story begins.

A. The Hero

When you introduce your hero in your blurb, you want to accomplish two things: 1) give the reader a feel for what the hero is like, and 2) create interest in the hero.

To quickly acquaint the reader with your hero, mention his profession and/or the role he identifies with. Is he a police officer? Retired soldier? Stay-at-home father? Starving artist? College student?  Also, try to use adjectives to sum up what your character is like such as adventurous, street-smart, reckless, outcast, etc.

Next, you want to highlight the most interesting aspects of your hero. Is he a starving artist by day and a master art forger by night? Is he hiding magical powers? Is he on the high school football team but secretly practices ballet? Let readers know what makes him stand out!

Here are some examples of character description in book blurbs:

“Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.” (Cinder by Marissa Meyer)

“Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations.” (Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)

“Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought.” (Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor)

“Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.” (Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys)

B. The Setting

You don’t have to mention the setting, but it can help set the mood for your book and also attract readers with an interest in that setting.

The only exception to this is if you’re writing historical fiction or fantasy—then including the setting in your blurb is a must. For historical fiction, you’ll want to mention the time-period and place, and with fantasy you’ll need to introduce the reader to the world you’ve created. Here are a few examples.

Fantasy Settings

“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.” (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

“Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move.” (Cinder by Marissa Meyer)

“But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.” (Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)

Historical Fiction Settings

“It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own.” (Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys)

“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.” (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

“World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide.” (Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys)

C. Current Situation in Life, Dreams, Desires, etc.

This is optional, but you could provide the reader with a quick snapshot of what the hero’s life is like before the story begins. Do they have a perfect life with everything they’ve ever wanted before it’s suddenly torn away? Do they have plans to attend an Ivy League school before those hopes are suddenly dashed?

Revealing these sorts of details can provide a nice contrast to the disaster that’s about to befall the hero, help characterize the hero, and create sympathy in the reader. Consider whether your hero’s “before” might be worth mentioning.

For example, in the blurb from Cinder, look at the second sentence that goes on to further describe our heroine:

“Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness.”

This snippet gives us a little peek into what Cinder’s life is currently like, and it’s pretty dismal. This helps create sympathy in the reader and already puts us on Cinder’s side.

Part 2: Introduce the Problem

This part of the blurb is the big “But when…” that a) reveals the problem that’s about to turn the hero’s life upside down and thus begin our story. It also lets the reader know b) what the hero is setting out to accomplish, c) what opposition or obstacles are standing in his way, and d) what’s at stake. Let’s look at a few examples.

Example 1: “But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.” (Cinder by Marissa Meyer)

A. What’s the problem? Cinder is mixed up in an “intergalactic struggle” and a “forbidden attraction.”

B. What’s her goal? “She must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”

C. What’s standing in her way? She’s “caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal.”

D. What’s at stake? “Her world’s future.”

Example 2: “Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.  (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

A. What’s the problem? Katniss is “forced to represent her district in the Games.”

B. What’s her goal? Surviving and winning the games.

C. What’s standing in her way? She must “kill or be killed,” and the blurb hints that the changing terrain and rules as well as the audience might also pose obstacles.

D. What’s at stake? Katniss’ life.

Example 3: “Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.” (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)

A. What’s the problem? Kaz needs to assemble a crew to pull off a “deadly heist.”

B. What’s his goal? Pulling off the heist and becoming rich.

C. What’s standing in his way? The heist is described as “deadly” and “impossible” which suggests this won’t be easy. It’s also implied there will be internal conflict within the band of criminals with the line “if they don’t kill each other first.”

D. What’s at stake? If he succeeds, the heist will make Kaz “rich beyond his wildest dreams.”  On the other hand, “Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction.”

Condensing a novel into a short, enticing book blurb that convinces readers to buy is no easy task. If you have no idea what to include in your blurb, this simple outline of the must-haves will help!Whatever information you choose to include in your blurb, just make sure you keep it short and sweet and arouse the reader’s curiosity.

Remember, the blurb is about teasing readers with your story and enticing them to (hopefully) buy. You don’t have to include every detail, but make sure you include just enough to get readers itching to pick up your book.

Also, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on my blurb for THESE SAVAGE BONES! Does it make you interested to read the story? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Write a Novella

The popularity of novellas is growing. Discover 5 reasons why you should write a novella of your own!Over the past several weeks or so, I’ve been experimenting with a form of fiction I’ve never tried before: the novella. If you don’t already know, a novella runs between 20,000 and 40,000 words, and can be read in a couple of sittings. It’s like a longish short story for writers who suck at keeping short stories short (aka me).

Writers usually avoid novellas because publishers typically don’t want them. Not because there isn’t a market for them, but because they’re not as cost-effective for the publisher as a full-length novel. And as we all know, at the end of the day publishing is a business.

But with the advent of self-publishing and the digital age, the publishing world is changing. Writers can now bypass traditional publishing houses and publish novellas themselves inexpensively in the form of e-books. This means we can now target that market of readers who enjoy novellas that we couldn’t reach before.

And that’s pretty cool, especially since novellas are growing in popularity. Still not convinced? Read on to learn the benefits of writing a novella, and maybe you’ll even decide to write one yourself!

1. Explore New Ideas

If you’re like me, you probably have quite a few ideas for stories. I currently have a running list of around 20-something ideas I’m itching to explore. But alas, as much as it pains me to admit, I know I will only be able to write so many novels in my lifetime.

So what’s a writer to do? One option would be to turn some of those ideas into short stories. But again, if you’re like me you probably suck at writing them. There’s just so much to explore, and not enough time or page space in a short story. Novellas, on the other hand, allow you to go more in-depth with plot and characters without committing to a full-length novel.

This is great if you need to get an idea out of your system, or need take a break from a series and write something different between installments. You could also write a novella between drafts of a novel. Have an idea that’s too long to be a short story but too short to be a novel? Instead of throwing it away, turn it into a novella.

Not only do novellas take less time to write and allow you to get some plot bunnies out of your head, but they also give your readers something to snack on while waiting for your next novel. Sounds like a win to me!

2. Expand on Your Novel

One great use for novellas is to expand on your novel or series. Maybe there’s a character whose story you want to explore further, or maybe you want to write a prequel about what takes place before the novel. Or, maybe you want to write a story set in the fantasy world you created but follow a different set of characters than your novel.

There are a lot of fun options you could explore! Plus, your readers will love it. Fans of your novel or series will enjoy being able to delve deeper into their favorite characters or explore other parts of your fantasy world. A novella will allow those who don’t wish to leave your story to linger a little longer even after they’ve finished your novel.

3. Build a Readership

Novellas can be a great way to build your readership. You could self-publish a novella (or several) before publishing your novel. Putting your work out there will help you find readers who will love your stuff–and you! If they enjoy your novella they’ll likely become interested in what you write next.

Besides building interest in your work in general, you can also use novellas to build interest around a specific novel. For example, consider writing a novella that’s a prequel to your novel or is set in the same world if you’re writing a fantasy. This will help you find readers who will be interested in your novel before it’s even published!

Additionally, after your novel is published you could continue to use that novella as a way to gain new readers by offering it for free. If readers get hooked on your free novella, they’ll likely buy your novel!

4. Create an Additional Stream of Income

One of the sad truths about being an author is that it’s hard to make a living writing fiction, though it certainly isn’t impossible. More and more now, authors are choosing to self-publish novellas (or even novels) after being traditionally published.

Why?

Well, not only is an author’s advance split into two or three installments that could be spread out over a period of time as long as a year, but after publication an author only receives a royalty check twice a year. Not to mention, after your book is published it must earn back its advance before you start receiving royalties. Which means it’ll be a while before you see that first royalty check.

Talk about a sporadic paycheck.

Self-publishing means you have control over when and how often you decide to publish. And with a platform like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, you receive a monthly royalty check  which means a steadier income. You’ll also get a bigger cut of the profits versus what you’ll receive from a traditional publisher.

Of course, to build a decent income stream off of novellas you’ll need to write a handful. But considering they take less time to write than a novel, it’s not such a bad strategy. You’ll be able to put work out faster, and the more stories you get out there the more opportunities you have to attract readers. Novellas offer an additional income stream while growing your audience, which means more buyers for your future books.

5. Appeal to Busy Readers

If you haven’t already noticed, people nowadays lead busy lives and have short attention spans. Most people would rather invest a couple hours into watching a movie than days or weeks reading a book.

Also, since it seems every book is now part of a series, this means an even bigger investment of time. A reader might be reluctant to make that kind of commitment. If they don’t have time to read one book, how are they going to read three, or five, or eight? And no one likes to be left hanging on a story.

Novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan said in an article in The New Yorker that, “To sit with a novella is analogous to watching a play or a longish movie.” There are plenty of people out there (including myself) who love to read but struggle to find the time, yet most of us can squeeze in a movie here or there.

Novellas are a perfect option for busy readers because they can be finished in one or two sittings and have a little more meat to them than a short story. This allows reader to enjoy a great story without having to make a huge time commitment–just like watching a movie.


So, have I convinced you to try writing a novella of your own? I’ll confess, I’m having quite a bit of fun writing mine. It’s a murder mystery which is something I’ve never written before, and it’s nice to be able to explore a new genre and idea without committing a year or longer to writing a full-length novel.

I do plan to self-publish this novella, and I hope I’ll be able to share it with you soon! Until then, have you read or written any novellas yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations–pop them into the comments below!

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