Monday, January 16, 2017

Sticking to the Budget

Okay, so this is primarily a blog about writing and crime.  But I assume you all realize I am a voracious reader, too.  And since you're all readers (as well as writers and crime buffs), I figure this topic will  interest you, too.

Budgets.

Yeah, I'm groaning right along with you.  I'm groaning especially hard since this book I've been hearing about on Facebook that sounds particularly yummy just released yesterday and it's outside my set budget.

Sorry.  I can't afford to buy new-to-me authors if their books are over $4.  Hell, I'm barely will to spend more than $3, but I'm willing to stretch up a dollar if the premise sounds awesome.  But $4.99 is flat out for debut. No matter how many people recommend you.  No matter who your friends are.  For petesakes, I hardly ever buy $4.99 books from MY friends. 

Just a fact of life.  I have a budget and I have to stick to it.  Even if someone gives me a gift card.  Even when I really really really want to splurge.  Splurging leads to bad habits.  If I splurge today, I'm more likely to splurge next time.  And next time it might be a $9.99 book.  Nope nope nope.  Ten of those and I'm out $100.  I don't have $100 to blow. 

Yeah, I'm a stick in the mud.  Too many years being cash-strapped has made me Auntie Scrooge.  Blah blah blah.  Plenty of cheaper books to read that are just as yummy. 

And as I've said before, this is why all my books are $2.99 (or less, if they're on sale).  Pricing them otherwise would be hypocritical. 

So, while I might drool over higher priced books, I'm being good and sticking to my budget. 

Do you have a book buying budget?  Do you stick to it fervently or is it just a guideline?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Stealing Cover Art is Wrong, Too.

Recently, I ran across something disconcerting on Facebook (I know, I know... big surprise).  I belong to several groups for independent authors who want to post links to their books in hopes of finding new readers, etc.  On one of these groups, a person - who shall remain nameless - has been posting about their book and the cover caught my eye.  Not because it was a particularly good cover.  Nope.  The cover had the look of being homemade and the image used seemed to have been ripped off from an old crime novel. 

As you may know, I am a huge fan of old crime novels, so it wasn't hard for me to think that.  They all have a certain flavor.

So, being the sleuth, I applied my Google-fu.  I searched 'old book covers' and then the key elements of the cover in question.  Then I scrolled through the images.  Took me like five minutes to find the old cover that this author had stolen for his new book.

That rubbed my fur the wrong way, of course.  For numerous reasons which I will elaborate on later.  But I tried giving this modern-day author the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he'd contacted the original author or artist...  Umm, they both died a long time ago.  Then I thought maybe he got permission from the original publisher.  Yeah, they're no longer in business.  Or rather, they got bought out by someone who got bought out by someone who got absorbed by one of the BIG 5.  I rather seriously doubt the BIG company gave this self-published dude permission to use an image they own, no matter how long ago it was published.

Then I wondered if maybe the copyright had run out.  Umm, if I read it right, the work doesn't become public domain for like another 27 years.  (Anything before 1923 is okee dokee, but after that, not a chance.)

So, yeah, this dude ripped it off. 

Then I went to this dude's Amazon Author Page.  He's got a ton of books and almost all of them have covers that appear to have been ripped off from old pulp fiction novels.

Gah.

Anyway, it kind of makes me wonder... If someone doesn't give a rat's ass about stealing cover art, how much of his work is actually written by him.  :shrug:  I am not willing to waste my time and money to find out.  I did do a quick 'look inside' on one of his books and noted three things - 1) he doesn't give credit to anyone for his cover art, and 2) he made damn sure he had all his copyright verbiage on HIS stuff while blatantly ignoring other people's copyrights, and 3) he fully admits to writing a fifth book in someone else's four book series from back in the '30s.

This pisses me off no end.  First, because it's STEALING.  Second, because self-published authors have a hard enough time struggling against the negative concept of the reading populace without this shit.  Third, because it was so obviously a hackjob of a cover.  You can still see pixels of where he erased the old cover.  He didn't even bother to hide what he'd done.  People like him make people like me look bad, and that really grinds my ass.

Arrgghh.

Anyway, not really sure what to do with this.  I thought about calling him on it publicly, but I really don't need a shitstorm raining down on me from a potential psycho or his psycho fans.  I thought about contacting the BIG publisher, but I doubt they would want to put forth the effort to go after this twerp.  So, here I sit.  Frustrated and angry and wanting to smack someone in the back of the head. 

And I can't even go fishing to drain off the negativity because the weather sucks and the fish aren't biting.  Ugh.

All I can do is the best I can do.  Stay on the legal and ethical side of things.  Try not to worry too much about shitheads like that.  And hope that readers will see the HUGE difference between morons like that and honest self-published authors. 

Peace out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Couple of Things

Thing One:
So, anyway, yesterday I got my undies in a wad over some stupid twit spouting nonsense.  (Like there aren't thousands of them just like that one.  Untwisting my undies could be an all-consuming pursuit if I let it.)  Then we lost internet, which gave me time to forget all about it for a while.  I'm calmer now.

Not that the person isn't still a silly bitch, but I no longer want to throttle her.

You see, she decided to make her opinions on self-publishing public.  And, shocker, she thinks self-publishing is awful.  It's killing the written word or some such twaddle.  And, of course, she should know because she's a travel writer and has a whole 3 books (memoirs or something) published traditionally. 

I haven't read her books, so I don't know if they're any good.  Which is why I'm not trashing her books publicly.  She admitted that she hadn't read a lot of self-published books, but didn't have the same presence of mind apparently.  Which is why I called her a stupid twit and a silly bitch. 

I wouldn't presume to cast aspersions on her livelihood, however, without confirmation of her writing's quality or lack thereof.  She could be a silly twit and still write good books.  I wouldn't know.  Others have, supposedly, gone around 1-starring her books without reading them.  That's just wrong.  And it's exactly what she was doing.  Trashing things without actually knowing anything about them.

Wrong.

Yeah, it pisses me off when people spout crap about self-publishing.  They're taking potshots at my only source of income.  And likely the only source of income I'm suited for anymore - even if there were employment opportunities for me out here in the back of beyond.  It's even more disconcerting when these unthinking twerps have a wide audience for their spewage - like a major paper or a large FB following.  So, I can totally understand the impetus to make her look like a hack.  It's just not right.

She has since apologized for what she said, I think more because she's now taking a heaping helping of crap about it than because she actually is sorry for writing what she wrote. Admitting she had been ignorant about self-publishing when she wrote it, which kind of only pissed me off more.  :shrug:

I'm not going to sit here and say that all self-published books are awesome covered in awesome sauce with awesome sprinkles.  There are good ones and bad ones - just like in traditionally published books.  I don't think the good ones and the bad ones are that hard to discern, even before you slap down your hard-earned money.  (And books with ideas I disagree with are not necessarily bad books, which is why I don't review them.)  As always, it's buyer beware. 

So, when you read something by someone - whether they're supposedly an expert or not - who's trashing self-publishing, try to read it with a grain of salt.  We aren't all bad.  We aren't ruining the written word or the publishing industry or what have you.  We're out here providing the best books we know how to provide at a reasonable price.  Give us a chance.  You might be surprised.

Thing Two:
Taking a break BEFORE you post about something that pisses you off is always a good idea.  If I hadn't lost internet yesterday, I would've still waited to post about this.  Sometimes I type out whole tirades, then walk away from the computer for a while.  When I return, the tirade usually ends up deleted. Sometimes it sits in draft form until I delete it weeks later.  Think before you post.   (Which is what she should've done.)  Thinking ahead of time is probably a hell of a lot easier than weathering a shitstorm afterwards.  And retractions really don't mean much. You can't unring that bell.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Crap. It's Monday

Yeah.  Monday.  I usually look at Monday as just another day.  Today?  It's chock full of Mondayness.  And I'm supposed to blog here today.  Something insightful and either crime or writing related.  I got nothing. 

BTW, I have a plan to blog every day this coming year.  Monday-Wednesday-Friday here.  Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday-Sunday at The Writing Spectacle.  (Saturday being The Fishing Report, and Sunday being the Weekly Update.)  With only the occasional day off if I get caught unawares by life stuff. 

But I'm empty this morning.

Hey, I only said I would blog every day - not that every day would be scintillating.  So, this rambling crap counts.  Right?

On another note, if there's anything you'd like to see here, drop a comment.  I can't guarantee I'll take your suggestions, but there's always a chance. 

:wanders off in search of more coffee:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tossing Life Preservers

Why do I post what I post?

Sometimes it's to get things off my chest.  Sometimes it's to help me see my own way clear.  Most times, though, it's so other people adrift out there on the wild waves of the writerly experience can find a glimpse of someone who might be in the same position. 

I get a lot of encouragement from my fellow writers here.  And I thank you for that.  But that isn't the point.  I hear that I'm in the same boat, which is fine.  We all go through it.  I get that.  Unfortunately, I fear there are many others who don't get the same encouragement and who feel they are all alone.  There are others out there who don't understand that there are others in the boat...  afloat, adrift... and they feel cut off when there might be others sitting right beside them.

Writing is a lonely business.  Naturally.  For the most part we're sitting here making stuff up by ourselves.  (Unless you're a collaborator, then you and another author are alone together.)  No one else is in our heads.  No one else knows what it's like to pound our words day after day, week after week, with nothing to show for it but filled pages.  Print them out and wave them around and you might get a pat on the head.  If you're lucky, you get a publishing contract with a reputable house and see other people finally understand.  Most often, though, you're still alone.  And you feel like no one understands.

So, I write blog posts of my experiences.  I try to put it all out there.  Maybe only a couple people see it and they aren't the ones who really need it.  But if one person sees it and thinks 'hey, I'm not alone', grabs onto the life preserver and floats for one more day, then I did my job here. 

When I think back over the past 12 years of writing, there have been many other authors who tossed me life preservers without ever knowing what they did.  They kept me from drowning.  I'm trying to do the same.

Anyway, if you stop by and think I'm whining or bitching or whatever, that's fine.  It wasn't for you anyway.  And if you stop here and find a kindred spirit, if only for an instant, then welcome.

As for me?  Don't worry about me.  I'm fine.  I'm plodding along.  I'm writing and editing and trying to sell stuff so I can continue to write and edit.  Sometimes that's about all we can do.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Plodding Along

Right now, I'm finding it hard to look ahead.  Every time I try, I see the same stumbling blocks - all outside my realm of control - and I do what stumbling blocks make one do.  I stumble.

Oh, there are good things ahead.  There have to be.  Just around the corner.  Just past the river.  Just down the street. Like Tony in West Side Story sings about...

SOMETHING'S COMING

Could be!
Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!

Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something's coming, I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Something's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!

Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
To me!
Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!

Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And something great is coming!
Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight . . . 


But right now, that's all it is.  A feeling that something better is on its way.  Not really anything I can do to make it get here any quicker than it will.  And if I spend too much time thinking about it, I stall. 

So, here's what I'm doing.  I'm plodding along.  Every day I sit down with my Kindle copy of Natural Causes and a notebook, writing edit notes as I read through what I've written.  When I get that done, I'll input those notes.  Then I'll read through it again, making more notes and inputting those.  Hopefully, by the time I get all that done, something will break and I'll be able to ship this off to the editor.  If not, I'll work on something else while I wait.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Publishing Wrap-Up

For all intents and purposes, 2016 was my second full year of self-publishing.  Here's how everything shook out in the year...

First off, I published 3 more titles, bringing my total of published titles to 7.  In Deep Wish went live in March.  Fertile Ground went live in May.  Up Wish Creek went live in September.  Natural Causes was supposed to be live in November, but due to a case of burn out (I crashed and burned), that didn't happen.

Copies sold:
In Deep Wish = 50.44
Fertile Ground = 65.28
Up Wish Creek = 24.07

Umm, yah.

My other titles sold as follows in 2016:
Dying Embers = 300.39
Accidental Death = 46.58
Wish in One Hand = 154.07
Blood Flow = 51.79

As you can probably guess, I did some advertising for Dying Embers and some for Wish in One Hand.  I also did some advertising for Blood Flow, but the numbers don't bear that out quite as well.

All in all I sold 692.63 books in 2016.  500 of those were whole books (490 ebooks, 3 print books) and 199.63 were books in KU pages*.  As for KU, this year people read 79650 pages worth of my books.  Sounds like a lot, but like I said, it only works out to about 200 books.

Last year was, of course, better.  I finished 2015 with 1016.77 books sold and only 4 books available.  But my advertising budget was bigger last year.  I expect that accounts for most of the difference in sales numbers.

Here's the month by month:

January = 15.28
February = 30.40
March = 90.97
April = 28.13
May = 193.41
June = 115.04
July = 44.57
August = 20.46
September = 19.56
October = 10.30
November = 94.39
December = 30.11

You can tell where I did advertising and/or promotions.  

This year I averaged $1.14 per book.  Last year, I averaged $1.34 books.  I attribute that to selling more paperbacks last year and having more 99c sales this year. 

If you're still with me after all that, here're the grand totals for my 2 year self-publishing experience...

Total Books Sold = 1709.40
DE = 814.65
AD = 467.82
WIOH = 217.59
BF = 69.55
IDW = 50.44
FG = 65.28
UWC = 24.07

This has netted me just over $2100.  We won't talk about what I've spent - mainly because I would rather not look at that data right now.  Let's just say it's enough to pay off Dying Embers and part of Accidental Death.  Woo.

As always, my experiences may not be your experiences.  I post this to show others what the hard numbers are, so they can be informed about going the self-publishing route.  It ain't the easy road to wealth and happiness.  At least it hasn't been for me.  Good thing this is a labor of love.

Sometimes I wonder whether I should've just continued to try and get traditionally published.  Then I hear about another publisher going belly up and screwing both readers and writers.  That shit totally makes me happy where I am, even if I'm not shooting toward the top of the bestsellers lists and buying a new car with my profits**. 

Anyway, if you purchased any of my books, I'm totally grateful and I hope you enjoyed the read.  If you get a chance, leave a review on Amazon for me and/or rate it on Goodreads.  I'd really appreciate that, too.


*I use formulas for each book - Pages Read divided by Total Pages - to calculate how much of a book someone in the Kindle Unlimited subscription service has read.

** In case you're wondering, I drive a 2003 Chevy Cavalier.  It looks like hell, but it's only got 70K miles and it runs like a dream... :fingers crossed it lasts at least another year:  :knocks on wood, too, for good measure: