Writing Flashbacks: A Primer

Writing Flashbacks: A Primer

Writing Flashbacks 101: Deja Vu All Over Again

Writing flashbacks can be difficult depending on what type of story you’re writing. There are a number of things you want to keep in mind that will ensure your readers will understand what’s going on and realize that the content is a flashback. Here are the highlights:

Format:

When writing flashbacks, you should do something with the format to make it easy to tell that the scene is not in the regular chronology of the story. This can be done using italics, a header at the beginning that shows a change in the date, or other ways. Be creative. Every author has a different way of doing this, and it’s really a stylistic thing. As an example, I just got done reading The Martian by Andy Weir. Midway through the book, he adds a flashback in which Mark remembers the events that led to him being stranded on Mars (hardly a spoiler). The flashback is in italics and set apart within the chapter by two or three blank lines on either side.

Characters:

Writing Flashbacks
How would these have looked four hundred years ago?

When you’re writing flashbacks, it’s important to have your characters at the forefront of your mind. If you’re writing a much younger version of a character, be sure to distinguish them from their present-day form. Maybe there are fewer lines on their face or they no longer have gray hair. It’s important to be consistent here, especially if there are multiple flashbacks sprinkled throughout the story. In my latest book, Death Wish, I had a flashback to a time before one of my main characters had a facial scar. It was only a few years earlier and he wasn’t much changed physically apart from that, but it was a way to make him stand out. Another example is with the flashbacks in Harry Potter, in which there are younger versions of Snape, Lupin, and the rest. J.K. Rowling does a great job of depicting their much younger selves, displaying characteristics that make sense for much younger men. This includes being juvenile, brash, and horn-dogs.

The Point:

You’re writing a flashback for a reason, right? There are many reasons to write a flashback, but they should be more than “it would be cool to see so-and-so’s younger self.” Make your flashbacks have real meaning for the context of the story you’re writing. History has a way of repeating itself, and that’s a common thing to display between the past and present of your story. The length of the flashback doesn’t have to be overly extensive to get your point across. It could be a paragraph or a page and be just as effective as a whole chapter if done correctly.

Regardless of how you decide to go about writing flashbacks and what form they take, just get on with it! Make your point and get back into the action of the story. Too many tangents will leave readers feeling like they aren’t getting anywhere in the story. Make sure the reader knows they are reading a flashback, and be sure to distinguish the characters from their present self to drive the point home.

 

Book Pricing 101: Pricing your Book for Success

Book Pricing 101: Pricing your Book for Success


Pricing your book can be a tricky subject…

…if you don’t do your research, you could wind up not selling any books, or you could sell a ton and not make any real money from the sales. Self-Publishing means all of the work is on you, and that includes pricing your books. Luckily, the research has already been done for you.

Pricing Fiction:

For the sake of argument, let’s say we’re talking about pricing a book on Amazon. As most of you probably know, Kindle gives authors a 35% share of royalties for books priced from $0.99 to $2.98. From $2.99 to $9.99, Kindle gives authors a 70% share. Anything above $9.99 goes back to a 35% royalty structure. I assume this is to keep eBook prices low while not cutting into paperback sales. Traditional publishers will tend to price their eBooks between $7.99 and $9.99, which is consistent with a mass market paperback cost. In fact, the publisher is probably making more money in Kindle form because they have less overhead.
Self-Published authors usually charge near the low end of the spectrum for a number of reasons. Readers are more likely to take a chance on a new author if the price is $3.99 or less. Self
Published authors also make more from each sale than if a publisher published their book. You know, fewer mouths to feed and so on. So you should just price your book at $0.99 and sell a million of them, right? Not exactly. For most full-length novels, $2.99 to $3.99 is the better way to go. At $2.99, you’ll sell more than at $3.99, but at $3.99 you’ll make slightly more money. At that point, it depends on what you’re going for, sales numbers or money. If you’re just starting out, gaining new readers might be more important than the money.

For the first book in a series, I usually like to price it at $0.99. You won’t make as much money, but it’s critical that you sell as many of the first book as possible. Some people even opt to make it free. If you want to make a Kindle book free, there’s a method to do so, which I’ll get to in a later blog post.

Pricing Short Fiction:

For short stories and novelettes I like to price them at $0.99. It seems like readers won’t pay much more than that for short works. Exceptions would include works from very prominent authors. Some people can get away with selling short stories for $1.99 or $2.99 and still get good sales. I envy them. It helps to think of short stories and the like as promotional materials, works that will get people into your other books, especially a series.

Your TimePricing Nonfiction:

With nonfiction works, you can definitely get away with charging a bit more even if the work is short. I’ve seen 50 to 150 page nonfiction eBooks selling for $2.99 to $3.99 and people are willing to pay that amount. Even Self-Published authors are charging $4.99 and up for full-length nonfiction books. I think with this one it will depend more on what kind of following you already have. Try a price of $2.99 or $3.99 to start and if you think you can increase it, do so, and keep track of your sales. If they decrease too much, lower the price again. Play with it.

What do I do?

Pricing Books
Finding the Right Pricing Technique Can Be A Lengthy Journey

No matter what you publish, find three to five authors writing similar books and see what they charge. This isn’t something you should only do one time. I would check back once or twice a year and keep track of trends in the industry. For a while, selling books at $0.99 was THE thing to do. It worked for a lot of people I know. Now, however, selling for just a few dollars more s
ends a signal that your work isn’t “cheap.” It sends a signal that you are more professional. With that in mind, you should always strive to be worth the money your readers pay.

For more info, check out two more great sources for book pricing here and here.

In the comments below, tell me what you write and what you charge. What pricing models have you had success with?



May Update: Great Things Happening

May Update


May Update Memory Leak CoverMay update Death Wish CoverIt’s been an amazing year, so I thought I’d give everyone a May Update to catch up with what’s been going on in my corner of the internet.

1. Death Wish Cover Reveal. I recently released the cover of my upcoming novel Death Wish, the third in the Corsair Uprising Space Opera Series. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about the cover and I’m excited to release the novel this summer.

2. Dirge of the Corsairs Music Video. It’s not every day an opportunity presents itself to do something unique and exciting that you’ve never done before. While I was writing Death Wish, I wrote some song lyrics that really fit well into the context of the story. I decided not to stop there and I recorded the song. Next, I went out into the desert and filmed a music video to accompany the song. The moral of this story is don’t write an idea off as silly or not feasible. If you put your mind to it you can accomplish great things. You can read about the making of the music video or watch the video here.

3. Memory Leak Gets a New Cover. Memory Leak is a science fiction thriller that I released originally back in 2010. The cover was dated and I didn’t feel it conveyed the right tone, so I made a new one that matched the branding on my most recent novels since 2014.

4. Symbiote to be released as an audiobook in Summer 2015. Books In Motion has picked up my science fiction thriller Symbiote and it’s currently being read by a talented reader in a studio.  Stay tuned for the release date and more details.

5. Amazon Bestseller status. Last weekend, The Corsair Uprising #1: The Azure Key reached bestseller status on Amazon, hitting #1 in Steampunk and multiple other categories. I’d like to say thank you to the more than 500 people who downloaded my book over the span of a couple of days and the thousands of people who’ve read my books so far. Without your help, none of this would have been possible.

 

I have a lot more great news coming later on this year, so please keep an eye out for those updates as they come in. Things are definitely changing for the better and my name is getting out there. Once again, thank you to anyone who has read my work. Without early adopters, there would be no superstars.