Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. With four new releases since May — CLEAVED, BLESSED MAYHEM, HACKED, and FRACTURED LIVES — I’ve had a crazy schedule. Getting involved with the Kindle Worlds made it even worse, but it’s one of the smartest moves I’ve made. The experience has been both exciting and nerve-wracking as there’s a learning curve to writing in these worlds. Several folks have asked me about the process and how Kindle Worlds work, so I figured I’d veer away from my usual type of post to answer those questions and offer a few tips on how to write another author’s story world. For readers, perhaps you’ll find a behind-the-scenes look interesting.
Tip #1: How to Get Involved
The wording on Amazon reads as follows…
Kindle Worlds is a publication platform where you choose a licensed World, read the Content Guidelines for that World, write your story, upload that story, create a cover, and click through a publishing agreement with Amazon Publishing.
But getting involved isn’t that easy. Sure, you could go this route, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be welcomed into the World by the other authors. It’s misleading, at best. In order to truly get involved with a Kindle World, you need to be invited in. Otherwise, some may view you as a hijacker. I can’t say anymore than that without breaking confidences. Sorry. Also, if you do go direct without an invitation, your book won’t release at the same time as the others, which is where the real benefit comes into play. You also won’t be entitled to any bonus money or special royalty rate.
Read the other books in the Kindle World. Specifically, the head author’s books. In my case, before I wrote FRACTURED LIVES I read Elle James’ Montana SEAL Daddy, because that book had the characters I wanted to include in my story. This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many writers try to skip the basics. It’s also helpful to read your fellow authors’ books. Many of these Kindle Worlds have a slew of New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors involved. By reading how they merged the head author’s characters with their own is immensely helpful.
Tip #2: Voice
Nail the voice of the head author’s characters. Take your time with this step. While you’re reading about the characters you want to include in your story, make note of the characters’ mannerisms, slang, body movements (how they carry themselves, for example), speech, favorite sayings, etc. By using key details in your story it helps to blend your book into the overall series.
Tip #3: Blending Genres
If you’re writing in a predominately romance-themed Kindle World, then perhaps you shouldn’t include a cannibal in your story. Just sayin’. However, I do believe in remaining true to who you are as a writer. If you usually write psychological thrillers about serial killers, then don’t suddenly pen a gushy romance with a happily-ever-after ending. You may end up with a lot of disappointed fans. In other words, stay true to your brand. A better way to blend genres, and this is only my opinion, is to tone down the blood and gore a bit. You can still write a book that’ll keep readers on the edge-of-their-seat without graphic crime scenes. Though, admittedly, they’re not nearly as fun. I had to find a comfortable middle. In HACKED I focused on cyber crime murder, which wasn’t overly graphic but still terrifying, considering it’s not only possible for a serial killer to hack a car but proven. In FRACTURED LIVES I let my inner serial killer run free. I can only tame the beast for so long!
Most of the Kindle Worlds stem from authors who write either romance or romantic suspense. This is why it’s so important not to skip Tip #1. Does the head author write romantic suspense that revolves around a crime? Bingo. If you’re a crime writer like me, you’re golden. Find your middle ground, and go for it.
Tip #4: Self-Publish or Traditional
Are Kindle World books self-published? No, though at times it does feel that way. Kindle Worlds is its own publisher. What does that mean? You are responsible to pay for your own cover and editing. Most of us use proof-readers rather than content editors, because the stories are much shorter than a novel. They usually run around 25K words. But, and this is the cool part, if you upload on time, Kindle Worlds pays you a bonus, which covers your costs, with some left over. This isn’t an advance against royalties. It’s a thank you for doing your job well and acting like a professional so all the books release together and on-time.
There’s no need to format your manuscript into an ebook, or put in the copyright page. Kindle Worlds does it for you.
Kindle Worlds, like any other publisher, determines the price of the book. Most novellas are priced at $1.99. Anything over 50K words are priced between $2.99 – $4.99. They also control when books go on sale, and most times the author isn’t even notified. The cool part is, even when they put your book on sale, you get royalties for the full price. They also handle marketing the book, but since your name is on the cover, you should still do your part.
Tip #5: Characters & Contracts
Blending your existing series with Kindle Worlds. This is a biggie. The exposure is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. However, if you choose to do a crossover novella from your original series, you must set the Kindle World story in a place different from your series or the publisher can stake claim to ALL the books in your series. The contract wording is skillfully handled. Better to send your characters on a work trip like I did in HACKED, or on vacation like I did in FRACTURED LIVES, or come up with another reason why your characters are in an unfamiliar setting — an FBI character could travel without too much trouble — than to risk any claims to your entire series.
It’s not easy to find a logical reason why your characters are suddenly involved with strapping military types. Try blending a forensic hacker who moonlights as a cat burglar with Navy SEALS!
This was the hardest part for me. Because the publisher for my Grafton County Series has first-right-of-refusal to any book written with Sage and Niko, which isn’t all that unusual, I wasn’t able to take the easy route. Instead, I relied on Shawnee Daniels and the other characters in my Mayhem Series. I contracted with Crossroad Press for a three-book deal, and relinquished only limited rights. I have too many plans for Shawnee Daniels and crew, and wasn’t willing to hand over more than three books in the series. Which is another important tip. Check your contract before planning your story, or you might get walloped with a breach of contract lawsuit.
The best way to blend your characters with another author’s is to think long and hard about the best way to have them meet. Here’s where it helps to make nice with your muse. Pamper her. Buy her gifts. Keep her dripping in diamonds. Whatever it takes to keep her happy, or she could turn on you at the worst possible moment. Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it. LOL
A few ideas…
The two characters …
… went to college together
… were in the same unit in the military
… have a mutual friend
… are called to the same crime scene
You get the picture.
Couples are going missing in Sunset Cove at Long Lake, and the authorities seem more concerned with not tarnishing the reputation of their popular tourist destination. Until … while out for a spin on her wave runner, Shawnee Daniels pulls alongside a deserted canoe.
Blood stains the seat.
When retired SEAL Brandon “Boomer” Rayne wakes to an empty bed—his bride-to-be Daphne nowhere inside their rented cabin—he enlists the help of the only people he’s met in the state: the couple next door, Shawnee Daniels and Revere, Massachusetts Detective Levaughn Samuels.
Uncertainty bonds the two neighbors, forced together by tragedy. Their predicament turns even deadlier when the half-nude body of a female washes ashore. No obvious signs of homicide exist. How did she die? Does her death relate to Daphne’s disappearance?
Time’s running out.
Can they piece together the mystery to find Boomer’s fiancé? Or will an elusive serial killer determine their fate?
Look inside FRACTURED LIVES: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075FFNWD9/
If you live outside the U.S., you can still download a copy. Follow the directions at the end of the excerpt HERE.
Check out all the books that released with mine in Elle James’ Kindle World: BROTHERHOOD PROTECTORS. Maybe you’ll find a new author to love …
Guarding Aurora by Lynne St. James: http://amzn.to/2wLkpiv
Wild Hearts Rescue by Mary Winter: http://amzn.to/2gO6xzX
Protecting Hawk by LeTeisha Newton: http://amzn.to/2gNNE0a
Fractured Lives by Sue Coletta: http://amzn.to/2eJ5NIh
Texas Range Rescue by Cynthia Cynthia D’Alba: http://amzn.to/2gPfpVS
Autumn Frost by Aliyah Burke: http://amzn.to/2wbnruw
Soldier’s Heart Part 2 by Ilsa J. Bick: http://amzn.to/2gOgeyi
Steeling His Heart by Wren Michaels: http://amzn.to/2xR6ibr
Ranger in Charge by Layla Chase: http://amzn.to/2eJ61iB
Exposed by Debbie Staley: http://amzn.to/2wL0gsD