Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Price Point for E-Books

It still amazes me how in only a matter of a few years, e-books have become the norm. According to this breakdown of a Harris poll, 1 in 6 Americans use e-readers (only a year before it was 1 in 10), and another 1 in 6 plan to get one in the next six months. I just got a Kindle myself in November.

Let's face it. E-books aren't going away. Will they eventually replace hold-in-your-hand books? Probably not. I've heard them compared to how paperback books were introduced into the marketplace in 1935 and quickly took up real estate in what used to be almost exclusively a hardcover marketplace. I can see that happening more than I can see e-books actually replacing physical books.

Author James Scott Bell had a fascinating post called Field Report From the E-Book Revolution in which he espoused on this subject. Read the comments section too as there's more info there.

The biggest "problem" I see (and this is addressed in that post and comments) is the price point for e-books. Most publishers have been charging just about the same price for the e-book version of a book as they are for a trade paperback. Given the choice between electronic and hard copy, I'm always going to go for the hard copy if the price is the same. I think others are too.

I believe the only way publishers are going to truly make money off of the e-book revolution is if they charge less for them. And by less I mean much less. $2.99-$4.99 for a full length novel is the current going rate (with some promotions even selling them for $.99). I never understood why publishers haven't figured that out.

Now it makes a little more sense. Because most authors signed their contracts before the boon of e-books, their royalty rates are going to be based on what has been the norm---hold-in-your-hand books that generally retail for $12.99 (softcover) or $24.95 (hardcover). Using that standard contract, if an author's royalty rate is say, 15% on the wholesale price, then they'll make a buck or so each book that's sold. But if the book is priced at $4.99, then they make much less.

One publisher I've seen jump on the band wagon in a good way is Marcher Lord Press. I spoke with MLP founder Jeff Gerke about their methods, and he said, "Our model is something like this: New e-books at $9.99 for six months, then down to $6.99 and eventually $2.99. Series/trilogies: First book in the series is lowest ($2.99 or lower), second book is $4.99, third book is $9.99 when new and $6.99 after six months. Our lower selling books, or ones we just want to hook people with, or on short-term promotionals are as low as 99 cents."

Not sure how much the authors actually make on these sales, but I would venture to say MLP has taken this into account in their contracts. This methodology is what more publishers need to embrace for them to succeed in the ebook marketplace. That may require new contracts and agreements, but as an author myself I would be happy to make changes along those lines because I know it would end up in more sales overall.

The playing field is wide open. Exciting things are on the horizon for authors and publishers alike! No need to fear this new frontier. Everyone's learning and exploring together, and that makes for some interesting times.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Update & poll on C.J.'s next book

Wow, it's been too long since I posted here. Thanks for sticking with me through the dry spell! I'm back, and I want to make posting on this blog more of a regular occurrence. Here's what's new:

I'm continuing to write for my website and also continue to act as a contributing editor to the new kid on the block,

It's been fun to interview some amazing folks in the Christian entertainment industry like Beverly Lewis; Michael Landon, Jr.; Steven James; David A.R. White; and Lee Strobel.

The writing of my third novel continues too. I'm nearing completion of the latest draft, and it's exciting to see where God's taking this one. More news on that hopefully in the future. Speaking of, why don't we have a little poll to see what you think of my working titles. Without knowing anything about the story, which one grabs you the most?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tyndale's Ebook Initiative - Fiction Titles

By now you've probably heard that my publisher, Tyndale House, is launching a brand new e-book initiative. In a matter of days we're going to be treated to five books available exclusively as e-books. Four of them are fiction.

I'm excited that Tyndale is taking the bull by the horns and jumping into these waters. It's the way of the future! Aspiring authors have much to celebrate in this move, as according to Tyndale's press release, "This pioneering new program will give Tyndale the freedom to publish even more books with exciting authors to serve a broad spectrum of readers."

“Fiction is the hottest category in the e-book marketplace. Our challenge is that we see more publish-worthy novels than we can reasonably take to print in a year.” comments Karen Watson, Associate Publisher. “This initiative gives us a way to say yes to books that deserve an opportunity and it helps Tyndale become more agile in serving a wider range of readers.”

So ... let's have a look at the just unveiled covers of the novels we can look forward to reading in this initiative, shall we? Which ones catch your eye? I think they're all fantastic.

Stealing Jake
by Pam Hillman

When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

Buy Stealing Jake now for $9.99 on your Amazon Kindle here!

by Diana Prusik

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family’s small-town florist shop. There, the strong and wacky Wilson’s Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness—Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community’s deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn’t know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead. Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she’s struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion--but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi’s business its own. Fumbling through life’s challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses?"

Buy Delivery now for $9.99 on your Amazon Kindle here!

Cash Burn
by Michael Berrier

Billions of dollars flow through Jason Dunn's banking office each year. When he suffers a series of career setbacks and his marriage begins to crumble, he and his attractive new assistant devise a plan to disappear with a slice of the bank's cash flow. The unwelcome appearance of his brother on the scene, just released from prison, threatens to sidetrack Jason's plans. But Jason's brother "Flip" has his own problems with a parole officer who isn't fooled by this dangerous parolee. In the race to the jackpot between Jason and Flip, and the unwinding of their troubled history, the question soon becomes, Who will get burned?

Buy Cash Burn now for $9.99 on your Amazon Kindle here!

Reinventing Leona
by Lynn Gentry

Leona Harper loves being a pastor's wife. Her impressive resume touts thirty years of coaxing hot water from rusty parsonage plumbing, planning church potlucks, and standing beside her husband while members take potshots at his sermons. Except for the little tiff with her grown children, Leona feels her life is right on track with the wishes of the Almighty . . . until her husband drops dead in the pulpit.

When the church board decides to fill the Reverend's vacated position, Leona is forced to find a paying job, mend her fractured family, and tackle her fears. With life spiraling out of control, Leona might find the church members' antics comical if she weren't so completely panicked. Can the faith of an overwhelmed widow withstand the added heartache of two resentful children and several underhanded church members? If Leona can't trust God, how will she learn to trust herself?

Buy Reinventing Leona now for $9.99 on your Amazon Kindle here!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Favorite novel passage

On a writing e-mail loop I subscribe to, we were asked to share our favorite book passages. I shared this one. When I first read this passage, it choked me up. Books rarely have that effect on me, so I think it tells of the power of these words:

When David Harmon married my mother, he adopted me and my sister, Helen. I was five and Helen was eight, and if people haven't experienced adoptive love, there was little use trying to explain it to them. Description wouldn't help them recognize the territory, since most people couldn't comprehend the depths and heights and wide-open wilderness that appeared whenever a heart transcended desire for its own kind.

Adoptive love was not natural; it was not manufactured within our DNA. No evidence of its existence showed up in our blood types or facial features or the quaint familial traits that ran through generations, the genetic tendencies toward duty or distraction or drink. In scientific terms, adoption meant people were unrelated. Period.

But in the aftermath of my father's death, I came to realize, once again, that science never fully explained the world's greatest mysteries. Science was a high calling. It was a noble and wonder-filled endeavor. But science had yet to prove satisfactory answers for our most beautiful unknowns---all the things that transcended understanding, the miracles that pervaded individual lives and stretched back to a majesty spoken into existence, to a sacrifice that continued to resonate within our souls thousands of years later. A sacrifice based on adoption: he chose us, he loved us, then he died for the worst within us."

---from The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello

How about you? Do you have any favorite passages?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Dads, and those that love them. In today's society, sometimes dads get lost in the shuffle. Or maybe a father makes the news for being less than one. But there are still many good men out there who are examples for their children. I have a feature piece up on today in which 19 authors share the best piece of wisdom their father shared with them, and I think you'll agree after reading it---dads are pretty special fellows! Read it here.

My Dad is a man who can have a conversation with anyone, anywhere, about anything. He has a great sense of humor, he's a huge reader (gee, wonder where I got it?), not to mention he can fix just about anything. I love him very much and am very thankful to carry his name. Love you, Papa!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Win books and a Kindle tonight!

Have you heard? The Book Club Network is celebrating their birthday, and YOU'RE invited! You get to unwrap the gifts, too!

To celebrate their anniversary, this cool website is giving away dozens of novels, hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards, and a grand prize of an Amazon Kindle!

The fun has been going on all week, but the real fun happens tonight at 9PM EST. Will you join me in chatting and possibly winning tons of great books? I'll be there. I'm giving away signed copies of my novel Bound by Guilt as well as a $30 gift card to!

Check it all out tonight at this link.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Why I Want A Kindle... and Why I Don't

You know e-books are all the rage. Just take a look at this graph, and you won't be able to deny that the electronic publishing revolution has become a war. I've been watching it with interest both as a consumer and as an author. I've even been asked about it in interviews I've given for my traditionally published novels Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt. The way I see it, e-books are going to become (well, I guess they already have) just another form of a book. The same way you have a paperback and a hardcover. And like in past years when some books aren't ever released in hardcover and only come out in paper, we're now seeing some being released exclusively to Kindle or Nook and skipping the paper route altogether.

I recently read one of those books. Here Comes the Ride by Lorena McCourtney is a cozy mystery published by the author. It's available for $2.99. Having enjoyed the first novel in McCourtney's Andi McConnell series Your Chariot Awaits I knew I wanted to read the second. But alas, even though it was contracted to be published traditionally by Thomas Nelson, for some reason the contract was canceled, leaving Andi stranded in her limousine. Thus the reason McCourtney took the bull by the horns and went the e-pubbing route.

I don't yet own an e-reader. In order to read this novel (which was fantastic, btw) I had to download a free app for my computer. Easy enough, but it's not the same reading a book off your computer screen. This is why I really want a Kindle. I want to be able to curl up in bed with a cup of tea and read a book like Here Comes the Ride, or James Scott Bell's new writing book Writing Fiction For All You're Worth. I don't like cuddling up with my laptop unless I'm actually working on writing a novel.

For now I am resigned to reading off my computer screen. If the book's good enough, I will do it. But here's my big dilemma. When I finished the last page of Here Comes the Ride, I was satisfied and had the strong urge to close the book and set it up on my shelf. I like collecting books, for crying out loud. How in the world am I going to do that with books released exclusively to Kindle? I want to lend my books to my friends too, but unless I bite the bullet and buy an e-reader, and they do too, this isn't happening.

Thus my "why I want, why I don't" problem. What about you? Where do you weigh in on this dilemma that's going to be with us for quite some time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New from Sibella Giorello, a favorite author

Back in 2007, an advance copy of a novel hit my doorstep. For my work with I receive a lot of books. Many I will send on to our wonderful team of writers for review. Others I'll hang onto and review myself. In order for me to do that, a book really has to capture my attention. The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello was one of those books. From the first line it captured my interest. But not only did it pull me in, the story delivered to the last page. I had found a new favorite author.

Since that time I've eagerly awaited each one of Sibella's new books. The Rivers Run Dry is a favorite, and she followed that up with The Clouds Roll Away.

Now Sibella's back with another novel, today's featured book, called The Mountains Bow Down. I gotta tell you, folks. When I opened the package from Thomas Nelson and saw that my long wait was over to read another Giorello novel, you should've seen the smile on my face. I think I even muttered something like, "Yes!!". Trust me. I don't normally do that.

Did Mountains live up to my expectations? You bet. Giorello delved deeper into Raleigh Harmon's character than she has in prior books---her struggles, challenges, and vulnerabilities. She was real before, but this novel has added a depth to her, which makes for a fantastic story. The plot was a page-turner too. Bravo, Ms. Giorello.

Here's the official summary:

Everything's going to work out. Time away always makes things better...

That's what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska. A land of mountains and gems and minerals, The Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who's hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance.

But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh's vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship's security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh's forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.

Engulfed by one of her toughest cases yet, Raleigh requests assistance from the FBI and receives her nemesis-perpetual ladies man Special Agent Jack Stephanson. As the cruise ship sails through the Inside Passage, Raleigh has five days to solve a high-profile murder, provide consultation for a movie filming onboard, and figure out her increasingly complicated feelings for Jack-who might not be such a jerk after all.

And that's only her work life. Family offers even more challenges. Joined on the cruise by her mother and aunt, Raleigh watches helplessly as disturbing rifts splinter her family.

Like the scenery that surrounds the cruise ship, Raleigh discovers a situation so steep and so complex that even the mountains might bow down.

More fun news:

The aforementioned The Stones Cry Out unfortunately went out of print recently (even after winning a Christy award!). But it's now back and even better than ever with previously cut scenes and a complete rewrite by Sibella. Purchase it today for your Kindle for only $2.99.

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Mountains Bow Down with a blog tour, a Cruise prize pack worth over $500 and a Facebook Party! Don't miss a minute of the fun.

One Grand Prize winner will receive:
  • A $500 gift certificate toward the cruise of their choice from Vacations To Go.
  • The entire set of the Raleigh Harmon series.
To enter click one of the icons below. Then tell your friends. And enter soon - the giveaway ends on 4/1! The winner will be announced at Sibella’s Raleigh Harmon Book Club Party on FB April 5th, 2011! Don’t miss the fun – prizes, books and gab!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

About the Facebook Party: Join Sibella and fans of the Raleigh Harmon series on April 5th at 5:00 pm PST (6 MST, 7 CST & 8 EST) for a Facebook Book Club Party. Sibella will be giving away some fun prizes, testing your trivia skills and hosting a book chat about the Raleigh Harmon books. Have questions you'd like to chat about - leave them on the Event page.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New from James Scott Bell

One of my favorite authors has just released his first (and definitely not last) e-book exclusively for Nook & Kindle. Watch Your Back is a collection made up of a novella and three short stories, all for only $2.99! I had the chance to read the novella pre-publication and Jim is on top of his game. It's a cross between his last full length novel Deceived and his popular Ty Buchanan series.

Even if you don't have an e-reader, there are apps you can download for free that will enable you to read right off your computer screen, or even print the book out if you prefer reading off of good ol' paper.

But here's something else Mr. Bell has cooking: a weekend seminar series for writers! As a popular conference teacher and bestselling author of multiple how-to books you'll be sure to get the best of the best instruction one-on-one with James Scott Bell. For more info on that, click here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Funny cat video

Sometimes you just need to laugh. This video did it for me!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Biggest Loser

It's happened to me twice now, and the solution was the same both times. I was buzzing along in my latest WIP (work in progress), and I started to write an important scene from the perspective of my secondary main character. Everything was going along so so, but I could tell sometimes was missing. It didn't flow right. I couldn't put my finger on it entirely. At first I wondered if maybe I was way off base on the events that unfolded in the scene. But then I asked myself a question I've heard as advice before: "Who has the most to lose in this scene?"

For writers, this is a question to ask ourselves when deciding the POV (point of view) in any scene we write. Usually whoever has the most to lose is who's head we need to be in for that scene. (I'm sure there are exceptions, but this is a general rule of thumb.)

When I applied this maxim to the above mentioned scene, I realized the other character in the scene, the one who the point of view character was talking to was really the one who had the most to lose. So I decided to start over in her POV. Guess what happened? The scene flowed ten times better, and I no longer felt stuck in how it was to unfold. The words came.

So if you're a writer and stuck in a scene, ask yourself who has the most to lose. It just might be a different character than you first imagined.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The GPS of God

Have you ever gotten to a place in your life where you felt you were completely off track? Like there was no bringing you back and God couldn't use you anymore?

As Christians, I think we inherently believe that God has a plan for our lives. Sometimes we even hear his still small voice give us a picture of what that plan will be---or at least the next step we should take to get us there.

But as is often the case, we mess up. We take a direction contrary to what we know in our hearts we should do. What happens then? Are we too far off the path?

I believe that God has a perfect plan for our lives. That's His ideal for us. But I also believe that if we veer off course He's more than able to bring us back.

It's sort of the way a GPS works. There's a perfect way to get from Point A to Point B, and if we follow the directions the GPS gives, we'll get there. But as often happens, we make a wrong turn somewhere along the way and find ourselves out in the middle of a cornfield wondering where the heck we are. That GPS doesn't give up on us at that point. It recomputes our route and shows us the turns to take that will still get us where we were supposed to end up in the first place. The path might be windier, longer, and crazier, but we still get there.

That's the way God works in our lives too. Sure, it would be ideal for us to never make a mistake, or a wrong turn. But we all do. So rather than bemoan this, we can throw ourselves at the feet of the God who loves us dearly, ask for forgiveness and His help in recomputing our way. He'll give it to us. He's a loving Father.

I had this experience recently in my writing. I had felt for a long time I was to write a fast rough draft in my latest manuscript. I felt like it was God's leading. But I didn't do it. Instead I spent months laboring over my characters, plot and whatnot. Finally I decided to quit the nonsense and just push through and write my story. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd missed God in a big way. I worried that everything I was writing was off track and not what He wanted me to write.

Then I received an e-mail from an author friend that was the answer to my heart's cry. She said some things I'd been needing to hear about writing and following my heart to find the story God gave me. After reading her words I knew the story I needed to write. I began a new draft in the peace I'd desperately craved.

A week or two later God gave me a wonderful gift. It was just a little thought, but I felt it. He told me that right now, I was back to where I would have been if I'd followed those early inclinations I'd had about writing the fast rough draft. He'd re-routed my path. He can do the same for you.