Monthly Archives: December 2014

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

I’m one of many who’ve become disenchanted with the KU program. I read an article this morning, published by the NY Times. It’s excellent.
The writer got one thing wrong: Amazon doesn’t pay 70% royalties, at least not for domestic sales. Foreign sales, yes; but few of us have huge international presences.
If, when, Amazon drops their demand for exclusivity, I’ll consider allowing them to include my books in the KU program. I’ll also be interested in how much Amazon pays in royalties; their current amount is worthwhile only for short stories and novelettes/novellas. If you read the article, note that Amazon pays exactly the same rate for a short story of 2500 words that they do for a novel of 125,000 words. The list price of the item means nothing.
It’s a good deal for readers, especially if you’re a reader who goes through several books a month. If you read just five books a month, you’ve more than paid for your subscription. But for authors, it’s profit for Amazon, pittance for writers.



So: I’m reading a series of three books I got from Amazon. The writing’s not great, but not awful. Lots of misspellings, and some of them extend across the first two books, which means the author didn’t know any better. Sigh.
The books were also too ‘busy’. The books lacked focus, for want of a better term. Lots of odd threads that didn’t really further the plot. Lack of discipline on the part of the author, I thought.
And realized the same could be said of MY books. <Unprintable comment here>
The current book, more than 80% written, has far too many extraneous threads. I’ll be going back and snipping them out, and many of them can later be added to book four in this series.
Books are divided into a beginning, a middle, and an end. Analyzing mine, the beginning’s reasonably good, the middle flounders and lacks focus, the end looks good so far, at least what I’ve written.
So how does this happen? To be honest, it sneaked in. I added a new character here and there, and each character needs to be fleshed out if he/she isn’t to be a cardboard target that will fall at the first opportunity. And each character can take the plot off into someplace it doesn’t need to go.
So I’ll be revising, and chopping great swathes of prose in the process. Objective, focus the middle and let the story be told. All that other stuff, save it for the next book.
I can added a teaser thread just before the book ends, something that won’t affect the story line but that can provide a hook for the next book. So it’s not a total waste.
But it’s going to delay release of my current book, perhaps as much as a  month.
You might want to look at your own manuscript, budding authors, especially if you don’t have a hard-nosed editor who’ll keep you tightly focused on telling THIS story. Let those other threads make up the next book in the series.


The year draws to a close; 2014 has been a wild ride all the way.

Writing, and publishing: Five novels in print, plus a novella and a short story. The sixth novel is nearly done. It’s my habit to write the final chapter about two thirds of the way through. That way, I know to aim the disparate threads to the ending I intend.

And it’s a barn-burner, if I do say so myself. After two novels, most of another, I’m tying up threads that were implied almost three hundred thousand words ago.

I couldn’t decide whether to just shake my head or giggle as I wrote the last part of that final chapter. I’ll be submitting the story to a few beta readers soon to get their take. I want to entertain, involve, maybe shock the reader a bit; this book will do that. Too shocking? That’s what beta readers are for, to tell you when you go too far off the tracks!

So to all you who’ve been following my blog, permit me to wish you, from the bottom of my heart, a thank you and a wish that your holiday, whatever you call it, will be warm, happy, and surrounded by friends and family.

To my way of thinking, that’s why the end-of-year times are special.

Quick Results

I ran an emailer promotion yesterday, using eBookSoda. This is the second one I’ve tried using this company.
Results: Nil.
Like the promotion I tried on Facebook, this is a waste of time and money. They did what they said they’d do, send out an email featuring my book, but nothing happened. Too few subscribers to their emails? Are the emails going mostly to other authors, people looking to sell books but not buy them? I don’t know.
But in each case, there was little to no boost in sales.
I also scheduled a week-long posting of the title on Choosy Bookworm’s home page. Whether that will have an effect, I don’t yet know. So far, no result from that either.
Neither site is expensive, but regardless of cost, if there are no results, it’s money wasted. If you’re a beginning author, you can’t afford to do that, waste your promotional dollars.
But I DID get data, so the experiment was worthwhile. It’s not that the companies cited are frauds, it’s simply that they’re new and don’t yet have that subscriber base that will result in book sales for authors who advertise with them. Maybe, a year or two from now, I might revisit the two sites, but probably not until then.
Meanwhile, I’ve still got two other promotions scheduled, both in January and both from slightly more expensive sites. Combat Wizard will be advertised on BookSends January 2nd and Darwin’s World will be advertised on Kindle Book Review on the 13th. I’ll report on how well those do next year.
Sales, and days: so far, best sales are on Thursday and Friday, other days are not so good. Early in the month and later in the month (payday effect?) are better, mid-month is the doldrums. For all you authors, watching for patterns help; don’t panic when your sales slump in mid-week and mid-month.
Being philosophical, it could be worse. I could be trying to live from my writing instead of pursuing it as a hobby that occasionally brings in a few bucks. Imagine the consternation I’d feel if I saw what some have reported after Kindle Unlimited cut into royalties, reducing $4000/month incomes to less than half!
No; if you’re a new writer, newly self-published as I am, don’t expect the lightning to strike. Keep writing; the absolute best way to attract that lightning is to write good books, and publish a lot of them. And if sales don’t come right away, the good news is that you’ve got time; the books are out there, still selling a few units every month, and they’ll be there next year, selling a few more to a new audience. Over time, it’s worthwhile.
Keep writing.

Why I write

Hey, everybody needs a reason, right?

<div style=”clear:both”><a href=”; onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outbound-article-int’, ‘;, ”]);” ><img src=”; title=”10 Reasons Why Writing is Better Than Sex” width=”600″ height=”1400″ border=”0″ /></a></div><div>Courtesy of: <a href=””>Global English Editing</a></div>

Advice, and Results

My sixth novel has been a struggle. No question, it’s been much harder than any of the others. Writing a couple of chapters a week has been more chore than fun.
But I took my own advice, what I’ve written about before in this blog: Write.
I kept writing. I worked at it as I’d work at any other job, as I worked at teaching. No matter how I felt back then, I knew I had to face 150 or so teenagers the next day. Middle school teenagers, at that, 13 or 14 years old. They’re merciless…you’d better be prepared or they’ll let you know what they think.
Not middle school students now, but I have a self-imposed deadline to meet. I have readers, and some of them let me know they’re waiting for the next book.
I expect much of myself too. I understand that I can do it, I just need to dig down and get the job done.
That’s what I’ve been doing, working my way chapter by chapter through the first half of the new book. As soon as I finished a chapter, I sent it off to my patient editor. We’d be swapping emails, discussing changes, rewriting when I had to. But…
Yesterday I turned the corner. The joy came back. I worked my way through what might have been writer’s block, finally got past that. I wrote two chapters yesterday, one this morning. I’ll write another this afternoon. That’s about 7500 words so far, plus I also edited two chapters for a friend, worked on edits for a chapter of mine, sent off a submission to a marketing firm.
One thing that’s changed: I’m spending less time on Facebook. I usually read news reports, comment often, but I’m resolved that there will be less of that in the coming year.

Results, and Recommendations Regarding Promoting Books

I promoted my novella Hands on EBook Soda; results, not much. On the other hand, the cost was low ($10) and my other books took a jump; even my short story, Ants, sold a copy. In fact, at least one copy of all my books has now sold in the US market this month.
I didn’t expect much from Hands. It’s a novella, essentially a half-novel, and they don’t sell as well as novels, even at a third of the price for a novel. Also, the book is written in a version of Elizabethan English, with things like “I trow…” and “Forsooth”, tossed in. Not popular.
But I’ve written them about promoting my other, much more popular, books. The problem is that 8-review minimum. Darwin’s World only has 7 reviews (average 4.5), while Combat Wizard has 5 (also 4.5 stars). So I’ll see what they have to say. So far, the best price/results have come from promoting Darwin’s World via Ereader News Today.
I’ve compiled a list of promotions I’ve tried and what the results have been, plus an investigation into other promotion options that might come into play next year.
One caveat: most promotions require high-quality manuscripts, no typos, grammar errors, etc. For most, that means professional editing, which can cost several hundred dollars.
Conclusion: if you’re starting out, you’ll need to pay if you intend to be a professional writer and make a living from writing. Expenses include professional book covers, editing, and marketing; payoff, not guaranteed.
Or you can avoid the expenses, invest only your time, and see little income. For a few, the lightning strikes; for most of us, it strikes someone else.
These are promotions I’ve tried and that I’m considering for next year:
Via Facebook: useless. About $50 spent, no return.
**Via Ereader News Today: good results. $20 spent, more than a hundred sales, some ancillary sales.
Via Choosy Bookworm: The Read and Review program is too expensive, no guarantee of quality of the reviews ($200). The Featured and Premium listing is acceptable ($8 and $20), but requires a minimum of 8 reviews. I’ll try this one in 2015.
*Via Kindle Freebies and Kindle Countdown Deals:  Some results initially, few or no results later. I’m removing my books from the Select program as they come off the 3-month listing, publishing instead through other outlets such as Apple’s iBooks and Kindle’s Nook. There are others too. I may give Smashwords a try. I’ve avoided it because the Meatgrinder is notoriously fickle regarding your submitted manuscripts, but others like SW, so I don’t think I’ve got a lot to lose.
Via Kindle Book Review: no results yet; promotion scheduled for January. ($40).
Via eBook Daily: they appear to feature only free books. The flood of free books means that books-for-sale are at a huge disadvantage. Better for readers, worse for writers.
Via BookBub: Very expensive; for $1 Action Adventure, $380. For Sci-Fi, $350. Advantage, statistics are immediately visible. According to one report, you’re likely to gain exposure, gain readership, add to name recognition, not likely to make the investment back.
Via BookGorilla: price is acceptable, sold out until April 2015. Books priced at $1, cost is probably $75-100.
Fussy Librarian, error-free manuscripts, 10 reviews, 4.0 minimum. Price reportedly is free.
EBookSoda; one listing for Hands, $10, some return. Try CW? DW? IF low returns, abandon this site until they acquire more readers.
Via Goodreads: some slight effect, difficult to quantize. I’m expanding my ‘friends’ list, which may help. Price is free.
So there you have it, my experiences and recommendations.