Resources – Zodiac Types book

Zodiac

Yes, it says zodiac ‘types’, not zodiac ‘signs’.

Many astrology books are aimed at giving a little information on each of the signs, but I came across a pocket-sized book that is worth owning. My tiny volume is in the Collins gem series and is titled ‘Zodiac Types’. The strapline is ‘from your looks to your friends, all is revealed’.

Okay, so you don’t believe in astrology, but this isn’t about how accurate the information is – it’s about how comprehensive it is.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, all fictional characters should have a certain appeal, which invariably comes about by them being well ‘drawn’ as ’rounded’ characters. No, it doesn’t mean they are overweight, it means they are more than cardboard cut-outs.

A rounded character comes to life for reader or writer. For the reader it provides credibility in the character and the story. For the writer it provides credibility for their craft and gives their completed work a greater degree of acceptance. In short, if a writer cannot produce rounded characters, those characters, the plot and the writer will all lose credibility.

What does ‘Zodiac Types’ provide?

First of all it provides the date groups for the star signs, which is a simple, but nice little touch in certain stories. There are also passages on favourites things: colours, numbers, places, occupations, etc. Moving on, we have character traits, physical attributes, likes and dislikes.

We don’t expect to see every detail about a character in one large paragraph, but it’s good to read snippets as the story continues. In this way a few small details help to give the character more substance and become more real.

Personally, I write a bio for all main characters when I’m writing. Once beyond the physical appearance and age, it can get a bit tedious, but a book full of ideas for the other aspects of the human being is an absolute delight to use.

Whether you’re a reader or writer, or both, think about your favourite character and ask yourself what you liked or disliked about them. The chances are, it won’t be their appearance or age. I’ll leave you with that thought.

 

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V … is for Value

V[1] is for value. In writing terms it is also for vanity, vocabulary, voice, viewpoint, visual, and a few other very useful words, but today I’m looking at value.

Once again, I’ll use my own situation, which will make it easier for me to explain, and perhaps easier for a fellow writer to understand.

I spent a considerable time on both of the novels I’ve already got out there as eBooks on Amazon. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a relatively unknown author. Like anybody who writes, I’d like to make money from it, and feel a bit more professional about the whole thing, but I’m also realistic.

How about an example?

I know a local writer, who we’ll imaginatively refer to as Mr X, who has two thrillers on Amazon, using the same route as me to sell his work, via e-publishing. I read his first book and wasn’t impressed by certain aspects of it, so my review wasn’t glowing. I sampled the second book, but even the first five screens were enough to warn me off. I didn’t buy it.

That author has a lot of self-belief, but I think he’s confusing effort with ability. I also know he wants something for nothing. By keeping my ear to the ground I know that there are not a lot of sales going his way.

You may think I’m being a bit bitchy, but please consider the following question.

Would you spend £4.99 ($8.00) on an eBook written by an unknown author?

For me to do that, I’d have to be impressed by the blurb and the sample reading. Mr X books are not value for money in my humble opinion.

Why do I believe Mr X is wrong?

Until we become recognised, even in a small way, we should be considering:

1.  The value for money for our prospective readers (customers).

2.  The value of our prospective readers (customers) budget for spending on books (eBooks or otherwise).

 3.  The true literary, and monetary value of our writing in comparison to an established author’s work.

4. The true value or merit, of our early works.

5. The value and credibility of our name as an author if we aim too high, too early in our aspirations.

Now, having listed those, I know there could have been more, but I feel that my short lists are more effective, because they both help my blog readers to focus, and to use their own imagination.

How do I deal with the value issue?

For any out there thinking, ‘this is all about his writing,’ and ‘why does it matter how he does it?’. I make no apologies. Anybody with a basic knowledge of our craft, will understand the marketing issues inherent in our solitary world.

We must employ self-promotion, as much as it goes against the grain at first.

To put it succinctly, although I use my techniques, and my book titles to create examples, it doesn’t follow that I believe I’m the best to give advice.

Okay, for any critics out there, that was my version of a disclaimer. I hope it was enough, because my big pitch about value is imminent.

How do I price my eBooks?

I maintain a reasonably low price for my eBooks, which is about half the price of the ones mentioned earlier, published by Mr X.

Why do I do that if they’re selling better?

Value.

 1.  I’m confident that all my new readers get value for money.

2.  I’m confident that I’m not asking much of a price for somebody to give my writing a chance.

3.  I know I’m not a household name, so I don’t try to compete with them (yet).

4.  I know my method is working, because I designed my own covers to start with. Sales of my eBooks have now paid for two of them to be designed professionally. That will I’m sure be a fresh investment.

5.  For me, the true value of patience, hard work, and not being greedy is simple; I am my own ‘brand’.

As soon as this post is published online, I’m putting together the final formatting for my first collection of short stories, ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’. I’ll come back later and add a live link, plus of course it will have a place on my main menu here at Tom Benson – Creative.

There are 12 stories in the book, and it will be going out at a low price, because not every story will appeal to every reader. For now, I’ve designed my own cover, but that will change.

This latest venture I believe provides value to my prospective readers (customers), because of the variety of tales from an unknown author.

It provides value for me, because perhaps there will be those that enjoy my style and follow up by buying into my novels.

What price are you prepared to pay in £’s or $’s to try out a new author’s work in eBook format?  

My sincere thanks as always for putting yourself through this literary quagmire of fact and opinion. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘W’.