Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Let's Talk Numbers Again

It's been a while since I talked numbers here on the blog.  But since I passed a milestone this past month, now is as good a time as any. 

This month, I rolled over $2K in gross earnings.  Yeah, it doesn't sound like much.  But I know there are authors out there struggling worse than I am, so I'm going to be content with that for now. 

Here's how that shakes out. 

First a look back at 2015:

Books sold: 1016.77
Dying Embers: 514.25
Accidental Death: 421.24
Wish in One Hand: 63.52
Blood Flow: 17.75

Now a look at this year so far:

Books sold: 556.57
Dying Embers: 297.23
Accidental Death: 45.28
Wish in One Hand: 98.73
Blood Flow: 7.04
In Deep Wish: 37.46
Fertile Ground: 62.28
Up Wish Creek: 8.55

Yeah, not quite the banner year I was hoping for, but I haven't really done much in the way of advertising this year.  Of course, it's hard to obtain advertising without reviews.  It's also hard to spend money on advertising when you don't have money, but that's my problem.  To make $2K since I started this whole endeavor, I spent around $7K.  The larger portion of that was spent in the first year, so I'm not as deep in the hole this year as I was last year.  So I got that going for me.

Lastly, if you're interested in review numbers, here they are:

Amazon: 27 reviews (4.7 stars)
Goodreads: 53 ratings / 17 reviews (4.13 stars)

Amazon: 7 reviews (4.9 stars)
Goodreads: 24 ratings/ 6 reviews (4.29 stars)

Amazon: 7 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 13 ratings / 7 reviews (4.46 stars)

Amazon: 3 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 4 / 2 (4.75 stars)

Amazon: 4 reviews (4.25 stars)
Goodreads: 6 / 4 (4.17 stars)

Amazon: 1 review (5 stars)
Goodreads: 2 / 2 (5 stars)

Amazon: 2 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 4 / 3 (4.75 stars)

This is only for Amazon US.  I have additional reviews at Amazon UK that shake out about the same way.  No reviews on any other Amazon country site as far as I know.  I had a few reviews at B&N when I sold there.  And I know I have reviews at some of the pirate sites.  (yay, reviews... boo, book piracy)

Anyway, my books are well-received for the most part, so that's good.

Not sure where I was going with all this.  I hope it helps other writers see what's possible (although my numbers my not be indicative of anyone else's success or failure).  I hope it helps readers better understand the self-publishing thing.   

Any questions?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Breaking the Rules

You may have discerned that I don't appreciate people telling me what I can and cannot do with regards to my writing.  (Not without some actual basis in fact, and even then, I'm skeptical until I do my own research.).  When I was a new writer, I railed against all the 'rules' regarding querying, etc.  I followed them, but it grated my butt.  I followed them because the gatekeepers* wouldn't have given me the time of day if I hadn't. 

Now?  Eh.  I do what I want.  I threw out the notion of going through a gate and climbed over the damn wall. 

I'm not sure readers really give a rat's ass about the rules writers are supposed to follow anyway.  Unless they've been listening to the traditional publishing machine.  For me, as a reader, anything goes as long as it's done well.  Want to start a book with a character waking up?  Go for it, but do it well.  Want to start with a dream?  Works for me, as long as it works.  Breaking the rules of grammar?  Fine by me, provided you do it in such a way that makes sense.  (Dialogue is awesome for breaking the rules, because people don't talk proper in most cases.)

Oh, I'm still bound by rules.  They're in the back of my head with everything I read and everything I write, and every time I find myself facing one, I stop and try to figure out whether the rule makes sense or whether I'm just following it because it's accepted by a bunch of people I don't know.  If it's the latter, I throw the damn thing out.  Or at least set it aside and look at it later. 

What are some books you think might've broken some unwritten rule, but that you enjoyed anyway?  I keep going back to a short story I read years ago, by Bradbury I think, that was written entirely in 2nd person.  It totally worked for me and I enjoyed it.  And that's really all that matters, right?

*Yeah, there are gatekeepers in traditional publishing.  But I don't think you're supposed to talk about them.  I'm such a rebel.  LOL

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Value of Time

There's a meme going around that talks about writing as if it was some lofty, sacrosanct thing - giving readers a piece of our souls.  Bleh.  This.  This is part of the crux of the whole 'value of my time' thing.

The other day, I posted about my reasoning for pricing my books low.  A commenter there said something about writers devaluing their time by pricing books low.  Not just that person thinks that way, it's all across the range of authors. But I think they're wrong.

Lemme 'splain.  No, that would take too long.  Lemme sum up.

We don't get to choose how valuable our time is.  The market chooses that.

If I spend 100 hours writing a book, that's on me.  If I spend 200 hours or 400 hours, it's still on me.  It doesn't change the worth of my book to the people who buy it.  (If that was the case, the Game of Thrones books would be astronomically priced. I've heard he takes forever to write one of those.  I wouldn't know. I can't afford to read him anyway.)  If my book is awesome, people will buy it.  If it's gold-plated awesome with sprinkles, they might even be willing to pay more for it.  But that depends on how much they can afford.  Right now, with taxes through the roof and health care costs skyrocketing and grocery prices soaring, people can afford less and less.  Especially for sundry items - like books.

I'd really love to buy all my friends' and beloved authors' traditionally published books.  It makes me sad that I can't.  But thems the breaks.

You know, I would also love to eat nothing but Magnum Gold ice cream bars.  They look awesome.  Gold-plated awesome.  But my budget tells me to walk past them and snag the store-brand ice cream sandwiches instead.  Are Magnum Gold worth the higher price?  I guess so.  I've never tried them.  They're priced out of my range. And they're not a necessity to my existence.  They're sundry.

When choosing reading material, I have to watch my budget like a hawk.  If I only have $10, do I spend it all on one ebook?  Or do I buy 3 ebooks at $2.99?  Or 10 ebooks at 99 cents ea.?  You can guess which way I usually go - a mix of $2.99 and $.99 depending on what looks interesting.  (And when I don't have $10 to blow on books, I hit the thrift store and buy books 4/$1.)

I know not every reader is in the same straits I am.  But I'd be willing to bet there are more on my end of the budgetary scale than on the other end.  I price my books for those people. I want as many people as possible to read my books. And I can price them that way because I am self-published, and no one is standing behind me telling me I have to price them higher.  (Well, maybe there's a whole crowd of people back there, but I don't have to listen to them.)  The only person who has any say besides myself in the pricing is Hubs, and he agrees with me. 

Of course, we also joked early on that all I should price Dying Embers at $1000 and all I need to sell is one copy.  We both had a good laugh about that.

This, of course, is strictly my pricing strategy and my opinion.  Like I said, I have the luxury of being able to price my own books - something no traditional author has.   They might hate people like me.  I can live with that if the readers appreciate what I'm doing.  Then again, those TP authors might wish they could set their own prices, too.  :shrug:

I'm sure somewhere in the industry, people are suggesting that all authors band together and set an across the board minimum price.  Shame on them.  That's called 'price fixing' and it's illegal.  Also, it's a bully tactic and it's force.  Not a big fan of force over here.  And bullies should always get what they deserve - a swift kick in the pants. 

So, that's my two cents.  Disagree if you want to, but understand that no one is going to tell me what my books should or shouldn't be priced at - except the market.  And if you feel like you should've paid more for my books, feel free to send me money. LOL

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why My Books are Inexpensive

I'm not a wealthy woman.  I'm not even close.  Never have been.  Even when my husband was making good money, we were penny-pinchers because we knew that saving every penny we could would get us out there that much sooner.  Back then, I sold used books online to fund my book-buying addiction, but now, I live too far from the post office to make that a reasonable way to earn extra cash.  I keep the reins on my current book budget tight.  I have to. 

And I expect that the majority of readers out there are feeling the pinch, too.

Every once in a while, I'll see an impromptu survey on FB asking how much people are willing to spend on an ebook.  The results are usually around $3.99 with the occasional dip into high priced ebooks if it's an author or a series the reader really loves. 

My books are all $2.99.  Why?  Since I'm self-published, I can set whatever price I want to.  I could set them at what I think they're worth.  I could set them at what it costs me to put them out.  But who wants to pay that exorbitant amount?  LOL

I set them all at $2.99 because I don't want to feel like a hypocrite.  If I can't afford to buy a book higher than $2.99, how could I possibly expect readers to pay more for my books? 

Sure, if I sold them for more, I might be able to afford to buy higher priced books...  But it doesn't work that way. Since $2.99 also seems to be what the market will bear, setting the price higher will actually net me less money in the long run.  (Ask traditional publishing how that whole $9.99+ ebook strategy is working out for them.  Last I heard, they were crying that sales were down across the board.)

I read something the other day where a writer was basically damning Amazon for creating the push for cheap books.  And for sales sucking.  And indie authors are the culprits, too, because we're willing to make beans and driving the prices down...  Yeah, yeah.  Again, the market pretty much tells businesses what they are willing to pay.  And my market is telling me they want inexpensive reading material.

Of course, some of the same people who are demanding cheaper books are also damning cheaper books as being of lower quality, but that's a rant for another day. 

My point is, I set the price for all my books where I think people will be able to afford to buy them.  If you bought every one of my ebooks right now, you'd pay $20.93 for SEVEN books.  As opposed to the traditional publishing low-low price of $9.99 x 7 = $69.93.  You could buy all my books and take your spouse out to dinner for that amount.  Or pay part of the electric bill.  Or get your kids some new shoes.  (At Payless, but still.)

Jus' sayin'.

And, yes, the above only applies to ebooks.  I have to charge more for print because it costs more to produce them.  (Funny how that works, ain't it?)  And I have to be above a certain amount or I would end up owing Createspace money instead of making a little.  (Especially on their 'extended distribution'... but don't get me started on that.) 

So, there it is in a fruit cup.  I still hope to make money selling low-priced novels.  Volume is the key there.  Sell loads of books and then I won't have to worry if I'm making beans on each one.  I still won't be rich, but I'd like for this self-publishing venture to someday fund itself.  That'd be awesome.

What's the average amount you pay for books?  What's the most you'll pay for a book? Why?

Monday, September 12, 2016


This morning, I got to thinkin'.  Does anyone read the Acknowledgements anymore?  Did they ever? 

I mean, I know sometimes other writers read that section, if they're looking for an agent or a cover artist or an editor.  I know people close to the author read them to see if they're mentioned.  Sometimes, I'll read the ones in my friend's books to see who they thanked.  But, for the most part, as a general reader, I don't read them.

And I do it even less than I used to because with ebooks, the book opens up at the first line of the book (Chapter One or Prologue or whatever), and it takes actual forethought to scroll back and read them.  I usually just dive right in.  I'm more likely to read them in hardcopy.  They're right there as I turn pages to get to the story, so why not glance at them?  Right?

If you pick up a copy of Up Wish Creek and read the Acknowledgements, you might notice something.  Well, you might notice if you've already read In Deep Wish's Acknowledgements.  They're almost identical.  I read the previous Acknowledgements and all of it was still true, so I left it.  It's not that I'm not grateful to the people who help me, but since I'm a hermit, there aren't that many people to thank individually. 

I've started putting a Special Note right after the Acknowledgements, pointing people to other books in the series, but that's something a reader would have to scroll back for, too.  :shrug:

So, your turn to chime in.  Do you read the Acknowledgements?  Do you read the other front matter of a book?  What about the back matter - About the Author, or Other Books By? 

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's LIVE.

Up Wish Creek is live now. 

I said that I would have it published on or before the 14th, and I did it.  Five days ahead of schedule.  Okay, four and a half. 

Here are the links...

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

If I missed your country, do a search at your Amazon.  It should be there.

And through this weekend, all of the Once Upon a Djinn books are only 99 cents ea (US) and whatever corresponding price at your chosen country.  All inexpensive.  But only through Monday.  I'll reset the pricing Sunday night and then Amazon will change it within 12 hours.  So, don't wait until the last minute.

Again, thank you for following this blog, for being awesome friends, and faithful readers.  I truly appreciate you all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Crutch Words


As I said yesterday on The Writing Spectacle, I have crutch words.  To most, these are words writers use on a regular basis in place of better, richer words, ostensibly because they are lazy.  Or in my case, have a boatload of bad habits that I am disinclined to worry about during the drafting phases. 

Also, in yesterday's post, I said I'd talk about those words here today.  Yah, I'm airing my dirty laundry.  :shrug:  Shtuff happens.

Anyway, here are some of the words my editor came up with this time around...

just - 152/56
even - 155/39
like - 290/110
then - 221/43
know - 135/45
again - 159/60

The first number is how many instance of that word I found when I highlighted them all.  The second number is how many I found AFTER I'd finished tweaking.  It took me about 6 hours over 2 days of finding and rewording. 

She did point out some words that I didn't bother with.  When I did a search of 'took', for instance, I only found 39 of those.  Compared to 'like', 39 was a non-issue.  Plus, I'm tired and a little cranky.  I apologize if the word irritates you. 

I also apologize to anyone who isn't overly fond of the word 'like'.  (Which, btw, includes child-like, likeable, etc.)  But there were places I just couldn't bring myself to change.  And the sentence "I like him, but I don't like him like him' chalked up 3 all by itself.

I really do try to make these books the best they can be.  But, as I say in my front matter, "Any flaws or fiascos in grammar, punctuation, spelling, research, etc. are entirely the fault of the author.  My editor probably pointed them out, and the author was too stubborn to change them."  I am kinda stubborn sometimes, as AWE will attest to.  

Anyway, I hope that gives you a little insight into the pre-publication process.  Authors really are out there working to make your reading experience as awesome as you hope it will be.  Thanks for reading.

And for an update... Once I read through this one more time, checking to make sure I didn't insert errors while I was fixing errors, I will be able to upload this for sale.  Check back throughout the week to see where that process is at.  When I know it's live on Amazon, you'll know it.