Last night I read a blog post written by Books Unhinged in regards to her opinions on Romance, HEA, Cliffhangers, E-book pricing, book length and Serials. To say that I was highly offended is an understatement, in fact several Indie Authors read this post in complete shock that anyone would be so brazen to try to tell us how to write. So, I wanted to counter her thoughts with my own reply to each point she made. I'm entitled to my opinion just as she is.
DISCLAIMER: My blog-Momma's Secret Book Obsession has worked with this blog in the past, and have nothing but amazing and positive experiences with Books Unhinged. This post is in no way an attack against Books Unhinged or Stacey HGG...we LOVE all members of the Indie Community and we can't make it without our bloggers...with that being said, we DO NOT need to be told how to write.
“Romance DOES need to have a HEA. If not it should be labeled something like Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit, Erotica,Thriller, Suspense, etc…”
While the true definition of ROMANCE does state that a novel must have an optimistic ending, I couldn’t disagree more. Indie writers are known for pushing the bar on all things-romance being one of them. Although we write fiction, many authors have twisted a bit of real life experiences into our stories. Romance-in real life-doesn’t always end in a Happily Ever After…in fact probably 90% it ends in complete heartache and loss. Why the hell should a novel be any different? So many readers love to read angst, agony and despair. While many readers do prefer HEA’s, I don’t feel every single romance novel written should be an HEA, because the trend begins to get BORING!!!
“No one likes cliffhangers, well mostly, some just want to be prepared first. A cliffhanger means there is not a distinct beginning, middle, and end to your story.”
Covered in Coal was my debut novel that ranked BEST SELLER in Romantic Suspense and Suspense. There are 154 reviews on Amazon-107 of which are 5 STAR. When BLOGGERS signed up for the tour, I never gave ANY warning that CIC would end in a Kindle-smashing cliffhanger. I can’t count the number of messages I received from readers stating the very same last 3 words the book ended in….but those messages also praised the story and the way it ended, because any other way wouldn’t have set up the plot for book 2. I REFUSE to put a warning in my blurbs stating that a book is a cliffhanger. If a book is noted as part of a series, you need to expect the unexpected and be prepared for a cliffhanger at some point. With the Buried Secrets series-be prepared, because no warnings will ever be given as to what you can expect. Where’s the fun in that?
Books can be longer than 250 pages.
Uhm, ya sure about that sweets? Lies Beneath the Surface is a 6x9 formatted paperback with 328 pages and 124k words. Readers love Lies, with 83 Amazon reviews-68 are 5 STAR. I consider it to be my best book, as it’s chocked full of every emotion you could possibly ever feel. It ranked Best Seller in Erotica Suspense, Romantic Suspense and Suspense. But do you know the biggest complaint I received was that it was TOO LONG…Some readers felt as if the book would have been best written in 2 parts. In fact, you can read the 3 Star reviews on Amazon to validate my claim.
A 500 word book is essentially 200k words.
Why doesn’t an Author want to write a 200k word book?
TIME-There is so much more that goes into publishing a book that just the written word. Many authors have teams that help them with publishing (i.e-Editor, Formatter, Proofreaders, Cover Designer, Photographer, Models, Promotional Team, Betas, etc) So although a 125k word book may only take 3 months to write, there are still many things to be considered before publication. Each person has to consider their schedule and deadlines, and finances for publishing a book.
Lies Beneath the Surface took 3 months to write, but the story flowed amazingly. The publish time between CIC and LBTS however was 5.5 months, which readers felt was too long to wait with CIC being a cliffhanger. I don’t have the luxury of a professional editor, formatter, etc. In fact, every work I publish is completely managed by myself, along with the editing help of my best friend and blog sister, Amanda and my friend Kaylee…I write my stories, co-edit them, format, and design my own covers. Hell, I shot the damn picture for CIC myself, standing in 6 frickin’ inches of frigid snow in 10 degree weather.
Readers DO NOT all want a book that long…there are thousands of readers!!!! How can YOU delegate what each and every reader prefers to book length? How can you delegate what each and every reader prefers in books altogether?
COST-Again, as mentioned above, most authors hire Editors, Proofreaders and Formatters…these professionals generally charge by the word. And they don’t come cheap.
As for your financials, just charge more for the complete book.
As for our financials, we KNOW how much we make per book. BU’s opinion is solely against shorter length books (i.e-novellas and serials), so let’s look at that as a whole.
There is a reason why authors are writing more and more serials…they make more money!
1 Serial priced at $2.99-the author generally makes $2.09 per sale. Times that by 6 for the complete serial set (just tossing this idea out there, I’ve never written a serial and have no intentions of ever doing so) the author is then making $12.54 for the complete serial, which is a LOT more than the $8 you have suggested. We sell books to feed out families…the best way to make higher royalties is what each author needs to do! Just because YOU don’t like them, don’t mean shit. Don’t read them! But guess what, READERS love serials and are continually buying them! As a reader, I don’t read serials, because like you, I like longer books, but I would NEVER tell an author how to feed their family because that’s neither mine, nor your business.
Readers do not want to pay $8 for 1 book…not when they can buy the paperback for $10! Many have said they won’t pay more than $3.99 per book. My books are affordably priced at $2.99 each, because I’m a mom who loves to read and I can understand fellow readers points on this. Not only that, but readers usually are on a budget, some only allowing as little as $10 every 2 weeks to purchase books…so $8 is highly illogical.
**Addendum: I think it is important to note that this does not apply to every single book. There are some atypical Romances out there that can get away with a non-HEA or a cliffhanger. The above post is about the average/typical Romance novel.
Then why even attack it? There is no written rule to writing a book, and personally I prefer to bend the norm, taking my work in a totally different direction than what is expected.
Like I said above, I know what I’ve said above is not the opinion of every single reader. These are my opinions formed from years of reading, and talking with other readers. (I feel the need to put that in boldface and in red because I do not think it is being seen)
I was fully aware that this post was only your opinion, but you need to understand that your opinion came across as if your word was the Holy Grail of how to write a book. Authors don’t need to be told how to write…my opinion for you, is if you don’t like how authors write, don’t read them! But please, for the LOVE of GOD since you seem to know how to write the perfect best seller- go write your own 500 page, 200k word ROMANCE HEA non-cliffhanger, and in 3 years when you finish it price it at $8 and let us all know how you do.
Once I finished reading Books Unhinged's post, I sent the post to my co-bloggers at Momma's Secret Book Obsession and asked them to read it, giving me their opinions as well. MSBO has read hundreds of books over the last few years, and I was actually expecting at least one of us to have a similar opinion to that of BU's...I was surprised that we were all in agreement. You can find their thoughts here.