• Category Archives Self-publishing
  • The Long Year and a Look Ahead in an Indie Writer’s Life #amwriting

    Not going to sugar coat it, 2016 was a hard year.

    Reflecting

    Despite the struggles, I somehow managed to publish two new books: The Astronaut’s Princess in February and Shifted in Seattle in October. And I haven’t written a word since.

    My mother (70) was diagnosed with non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis two years ago. She steadily declined this year but the img_5824past six months proved very challenging. She spent August in a nursing home near my home and then lived with us in our home September, October, and November…when she wasn’t hospitalized, which was frequently. I spent the last week of her life with her (she in a coma) in yet another nursing home. She passed Nov. 10.

    I’m so glad we got to spend that time close to her.

    As you can imagine, there wasn’t much time or energy for creating.

    But, a new year is on the horizon, and I’m getting back into the writing cave and looking ahead.

    It’s exciting.

    I already have about 10k on book four (Reap & Reckon) of the Reaper Series so that’s encouraging, and as I read through those pages, I’m reenergized with passion for that project.

     

    ReapandReckon (427x640)I had a brief stint (two months) with all of my books on Smashwords and distributed through all retailers, thinking this would find new readers. With little to no promotion, however, and out of KDP Select, all those book rankings slowly sank. They currently sit like the Titanic on the bottom of the Amazon Sea.
    I’m fixin’ to go on an expedition to try to raise them.

    They’ll all be back in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited by the end of the weekend. Amazon is Queen, and I am her minion.

    Planning

    I was looking over my 2016 Writing Business Plan. All in all, I accomplished most of what I set out to do. Except finish Reckon and have audio books made for my non-reaper books. I just don’t think audio books are worth it. The narrator and I are making about $10 a month on those two audio books. I just can’t ask someone else to invest that much time for such a minimal payout.

    Wonder what my plan looked like? Take a gander if you want. The barely legible red writings are the results. Check marks mean it happened, baby.

    2016-writing-bus-plan-1img_6423-640x480
    A few more good accomplishments in there: a box set put together, audio books released, an AWESOME endorsement blurb from Darynda Jones…seriously, go check out her reaper books.

    Future

    So what’s in store for 2017? Kid, if I knew that, I’d play the lottery and own a mountain somewhere. That said, I’m working on THE PLAN now. I hope it will include Reap & Reckon published, work on the third Cosmic Cowboys episode, The Magnate’s Moon, attending Visioncon in Branson in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest in Springfield in October.

    Right now the rest is TBD. I want to stay open to the possibilities. But like I always tell my husband, if we don’t make a plan…nothing happens.

    Here’s to some good happenings in 2017.

    drink-with-sasquatch

    What does your 2017 Plan look like?


  • Read, Write, and Respite. What comes next?

    240714
    https://behappy.me/aspire-to-inspire-before-you-expire-240714

    That time I broke down and told you the truth…

    I just finished reading Felicia Day’s fantastic memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) today. It was weirdly inspirational and got me thinking even more about what’s next for me, creatively speaking. July marks my five-year authorversary. I started  Reap ‘Em & Weep (which became Reap & Repent) July 15, 2011.

    Here was the inaugural post where I espouse all the vainglorious reasons for beginning this journey. July 2016 will mark the release of my seventh book, Shifted In Seattle. It’s a sexy, Sasquatch shifter story. Weirdly wonderful, I think. Are sexy Sasquatch stories what’s selling now? Probably not. But now it’s a thing, nonetheless. Because I made it. Myself.

    Shifted_In_Seattle_600x900

    I’m not going to lie, creating a story for public consumption from my own brain is very satisfying. Selling books is very satisfying. Getting reviews from strangers saying they enjoy those stories is even more satisfying. But at some point, I have begun to wonder if it’s all worth it.

    Writing takes time. A lot of it. And for very little return, financially or otherwise.

    Would any of my other past hobbies: scrapbooking, beekeeping, homesteading, raising chickens, adventure racing, walking/Fitbiting, reading et al have produced a substantial income? Not likely. In fact, most of those things only cost money and never have a financial return.

    A rough estimate shows that after five years of publishing (in all its various incarnations), I’m basically at the break even point, Somewhere around $10K out vs somewhere around $10k in.

    Five years. Seven books.

    Maybe it’s time to move on to the next big thing.

    That said, I have 6K written on a fourth reaper book, REAP & RECKON and a kernel of an idea for a third Cosmic Cowboys Episode, The Magnate’s Moon.

    I just don’t know if I have the heart left to finish them.

    Some days, I’m one click away from dismantling the entire endeavor.

    But I won’t. It took too much work to build it all.

    In the meantime, you can check back here, sign up for my newsletter for the release of Shifted In Seattle, and follow me on social media to see WHAT’S NEXT.

    It will be a surprise.

    For both of us.

    Website | Facebook  | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads Google+

     


  • A year in the life of an indie-published book

    It’s that time of year, where we take stock of the year behind us and look forward to the year ahead.

    All in all, 2015 was a very fine year.

    I published five books in 2015. Three titles were indie published for the first time ever, and two were republished after a year-long stint with a traditional e-book publisher. Since Haunt My Heart was published on January 5, 2015, I thought it might interest people to see how it has done.

    Please keep in mind this is one indie publishing experience. My experience. Your mileage and actions may vary. Authors and publishers don’t like to share results. I guess they sometimes want to maintain the illusion of doing better than they really are or maybe they just don’t want to appear to be bragging. I don’t know why. I suppose everyone has his/her reasons.

    For me, it helps to see what others are doing to see if I’m on track or at least on a path for potential success. If we don’t track and evaluate what went wrong and what went right, how can we ever achieve our dreams?

    For the record, my copy editor in the table below was actually more of a proofer, and she was my extremely, grammatically inclined friend. I posted about The cost of self-publishing one book (Haunt My Heart) back in January 2015, soon after it published. Clearly, I spent more during the year trying to promote the book. I’m sure there are things I missed. Also, Haunt My Heart spent a year in Amazon’s KDP Select program. HMH expires from that program tomorrow, and then I’ll try my luck on the free market and on  every platform for a while. That post generated lots of love as well as its fair share of hate. So here we go again.

    By the numbers:

     Haunt snap 1 Haunt snap 2

     

    As you can see, I’m still -$734 from breaking even. My Reaper Series books made a bit of money for me this year, and overall, I should end up making around $5,500 total on my writing. Keep in mind, I’ve spent more than three-quarters of that back into the business with advertising/marketing/publishing expenses during the year. So yeah, nowhere near a reasonable profit on any of the five books yet. Publishing is still only a labor of love.

    I’m not going to lie. I’ve thought about quitting.

    Writer friends have talked me off the ledge more than once this year. But you know what? Lightning could still strike. It only takes one good break to reach a tipping point.

    And you can’t be struck by lightning unless you’re in the storm.

    I have an ambitious business plan mapped out for 2016, which includes audio books, and at least, three new releases.

    If you’d like to come along for the ride, sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

    In the meantime, you can find all of my books and their links here: http://lisa-medley.com/books/ You can even start the Reaper Series for FREE on all e-reader formats.

    The best is yet to come.

    new-years-cards-8915-445x278

     

     


  • That time I wanted to quit writing so I started four books instead

    21330_10153236342647863_3032047020217510560_n

    Writing is hard.

    Marketing is harder.

    I’m just going to be honest here. I pretty much want to quit writing about every other week/day/hour. Thankfully, I have several good writerly and readerly types who talk me off the ledge time and time again.

    I quit this week. For an entire week, I made up my mind that I was done. It just wasn’t worth the hassle. I didn’t promo tweet. I didn’t write. I watched TV and sat on my couch crocheting cat butt coasters.

    Not even kidding.

    Hell, no one would really even notice that I’d quit except for Jennifer who asks me about Reap & Reckon, book four of my Reaper Series, EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE HER.

    Not gonna lie. That feels good.

    Every time I think about quitting, someone sends me a curiously timed note of encouragement or an awesome review. Maybe it’s the Universe, nudging me to keep going.

    Even during the week I quit, I couldn’t turn off the stories. So many stories. Of course, most of them are just ideas. Sparks in the dark. The work of turning them into more is both exhausting and magical. When books are selling, it’s rewarding and exciting. When they aren’t?

    Yeah, that’s when I want to quit.

    Sometimes I wonder what I ever did before I started writing five years ago. Well, I was craftier. for example, Facebook reminded me last week that I did THIS…

    spare time project

    But you know what? This year so far I’ve earned $5,200 from my writing. Last year with a traditional publisher and two books out, I made $300. Of course, I’ve already reinvested half of this year’s proceeds back into editing, book covers, and marketing etc.

    I’ve never made any money off of my crafts. One look at my cat butt coaster below, and you’ll see why. #crochetfail

    What they should look like.
    What they should look like.

     

    What mine looked like.
    What mine looked like.

    So really, I have no room to whine

    I’ve done ALL THE THINGS an indie publisher is supposed to do. You can actually download a cool checklist here: http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/

    All I need is a tipping point.

    10914388_513629142110446_970804606_n

    Yeah, I don’t want to be that bottom guy. Boo! So instead of giving up. I started a couple of new books. Now I have four works in progress. Yep. go big or go home…erm…or something like that.

    I guess this falls into the ‘try harder’ camp of thought.

    Works in progress 1 & 2Works in progress 2 & 4

    I have no estimated dates of publication. You’ll be just as surprised as I am.

    Your best bet? Sign up for my newsletter http://eepurl.com/9Zhcz and I promise you’ll be the first to know when a new book drops.

    stay drunk on writing

    Write on.

     


  • Writing in the Wormhole

    I finished Space Cowboys & Indians last Saturday on May 2. I started it on January 30, 2015. Want to know the crazy part?

    I actually wrote it in 27 days.

    IMG_9717

    Granted, it’s a novella and is sitting at 37K (around 140 pages), but I’m pretty happy with that. I had a couple of power-writing over-2K days, but it averages out at 1,380 a day.

    Twenty-seven days of writing, which took me a bit more than three months to accomplish.

    Folks, that’s wormhole time right there.

    Space Cowboys & Indians goes for editing June 1, and you can expect to have it on a Kindle near you by July 1. SC&I is my first sci-fi adventure-romance and early reviews are good. Wondering what it’s all about? Think of a movie mash-up of Cowboys vs Aliens meets Six Days Seven Nights, and you’ve got Space Cowboys & Indians.

    I did a ton of research for SC&I. This is just the stuff I printed out for quick reference:

    IMG_9709I learned a lot! I can’t wait to share some of it with you in the coming days leading up to release. Things about asteroid mining, astronaut training, wormholes, magnetic X-points, Roswell, NM, Richard Branson’s Spaceport America, the Apaches of the Mescalero Reservation in NM,  the private race for space and more. Stay tuned for some excerpts too.

    In the meantime, here’s a tease:

    SpaceCandIw (533x800)

    How can the chance of a lifetime go so horribly wrong?

    Mining Engineer Cole Hudson signed up for NASA astronaut training, but after washing out short of getting his gold wings, he retreats to Alaska where he stakes out a gold claim. When billionaire entrepreneur Duncan Janson offers him an opportunity to join a mining team on an asteroid, Cole jumps at the chance.

    But nothing is as it seems. Former NASA reject and rival classmate, Tessa Hernandez, is also a member of the team, and from the beginning of the mission test flight, things go horribly wrong. They soon discover they’re not the only ones on the asteroid. As they try to escape, they are pulled through a wormhole and back to the early 1800s New Mexico desert where aliens and Apaches may be the least of their problems.

    Pinterest book board https://www.pinterest.com/medley3/space-cowboys-indians/

     


  • Money, money, money – the results of self-publishing one month recap

    It’s the one-month birthday for Haunt My Heart. In the spirit of full disclosure to everyone following my publishing and now my self-publishing journey and in the hopes of inspiring, informing and encouraging new authors with the truth… here’s what happened this month.

    Beware–the truth is in here.

    Thing started out pretty good (in my humble opinion). Of course, I only have my other author friends’ experience to compare it to. All in all it was better than some, worse than others. Still here’s what happened and how I did or didn’t influence it.

    The numbers

    I uploaded Haunt much too early on January 3 because I was anxious and unsure how long it would actually take to appear on Amazon. Official release day was January 5. I went exclusively with Amazon and enrolled it in KDP, which means it was also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (the subscription program).

    Here are my Amazon sales rank results.

    Haunt Amazon sales rank month one

    It started out pretty strong. I didn’t do pre-order sales. It was REALLY hard to not do pre-order sales because I LOVE having those sales links. it makes it tough to do a lot of pre-promotion without sales links too but I wanted to biggest initial bump I could get. Right or wrong, I chose no pre-order. The highest sales ranking Haunt achieved was 24,881 on release day.

    Here’s my actual sales chart.

    haunt book sales month one

    I had a good bump the first evening after it went live and then the day after my Facebook book launch event. That other spike on January 16 was a result of the blog post I did The cost of self-publishing one book. That post got 1,149 hits to-date (547 on Jan. 16) and people went crazy over it. Mostly good, some negative. That post helped me to sell five books that day so, yay!

    month to date sales Haunt on Amazon

    I was a little underwhelmed with the Kindle Unlimited borrows. I mean, it’s FREE to subscribers. I thought it would reach a LOT more readers than it did. I’m not sure how to increase the exposure there. I started posting daily (for a week and a half) in six different FB Kindle Unlimited groups. I think that has gotten me maybe one borrow a day.

    No one likes to talk about the numbers but authors want–no–need to know. I don’t know why it has to be a big secret. We can learn from one another. It doesn’t have to be a competition. It should be a cooperation.

    Anywhooo…(steps off of soap box)…

    The money

    So, how much did all this amount to in hard-earned cash?

    This screenshot is my e-book sales.

    haunt royalties first month

    This screenshot was my print copy sales.

    haunt print copies royalties units sold month one

    Honestly, print doesn’t hardly seem worth the trouble EXCEPT for the ability to order your own copies for sale at book signings, conventions, promotions and to giveaway to family etc.

    $10.24 was the lowest CreateSpace would let me sell it for. $10.99 is pricey to me for a print book, but several people had insisted they really wanted my book in print. Ten of them bought it from Amazon.

    I did sell around 21 copies out of my car, at my in-person book launch and at my husband’s workplace. I sold those for $10 each so I pocketed around $5.50 a book on those sales, which was a better royalty BUT none of those sales counted toward my Amazon sales numbers. They could have really pushed up my rankings. Would it ultimately have made any difference? Gotten me onto any Top 100 lists? Would those same buyers have gone to Amazon to buy instead of buying my in-person signed copy? Probably not.

    I also gave away 15 copies to friends, family and for prizes.

    I gave away or sold the first 50 books I ordered and reordered another 40 for book signings etc. through the year.

    The review game

    Working with my street team, author network and some random strangers, I managed to accrue 18 Amazon Reviews and five on Goodreads. Of those reviews there were:

    Reviews for Haunt My Heart: 16 – 5-Star, 1 – 4-Star, 1 3-Star

    The 3-star review was from a random stranger who commented my book could have benefitted from some extensive editing (not for typos but for content). I refer her to this post The importance of beta readers and editing for self-publishing. You can’t please everyone 😀

    The promotion & marketing

    I couldn’t afford to spend much on promotion and marketing. What I did do was the following:

    • Facebook Book Launch event the night of release day online and in-person at a local coffee house FREE
    • Facebook post boosts with sales link $25
    • One day book blitz with Bewitching Books (around 20 blog posts, spotlights, interviews) $40
    • Guest posts/spotlights on author friend’s websites (around 20 posts) FREE
    • Posted daily for about two weeks in six different Kindle Unlimited Facebook groups FREE
    • Tweeted hourly for the first week, then backed off. I try to tweet a few times a day now $10 for Hootsuite but I’ve unsubscribed now. FREE
    • Random posts on Facebook until I annoyed all of my friends to death FREE

    The results

    So the grand total royalties for my first month of self-publishing Haunt My Heart?

    $246.87

    The irony of all of this is that as I was working on this post I received my third royalty statement from my traditional publisher. Since publication last March (for two books), I’ve made $287.01 with a traditional publisher.

    I’ve nearly made that in one month all by myself.

    The future

    My second self-published book, Reap & Repent, will release on March 2. Repent was first published last March with Harlequin. I’ve since had the rights reverted back to me to all three books in my Reaper Series. I’m excited about the opportunity to regain control of my writing and my career.

    I’ll never give control away again.

    Viva, Indie!

    Want to read Haunt My Heart or Reap & Repent?

    Haunt My Heart is available on AMAZON now in e-book and print.

    HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800) - CopyBook Description:

    A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

    Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

    Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

    Reap & Repent:  Book One – March 2015

    Repent600x900Reap & Repent blurb

    They see death. Can they share a life?

    Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.

    Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.

    A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound powers.

    Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my NEW RELEASE NEWSLETTER.

     

     

     

     


  • The importance of beta readers and editing for self-publishing

    Red pen

    My post last week on The costs of self-publishing one book. By the numbers., elicited some passionate responses and more than 900 views so far. The response proves to me that authors, new and seasoned, are curious to know if they are on the right track.

    All I can share with you is my experience–the good, the bad and the ugly–of my first effort at self-publishing Haunt My Heart.

    One of the biggest points of contention in that post last week was the discussion that I spent too much on editing (or in the case of the copy editing too little). Some suggested I could have used beta readers for the editing or a critique group and saved that expense altogether.

    I consider the building of my writing career to be the same type of investment one would make with any new business or franchise. No one starts a new business for absolutely no money. It cost money to make money and cheap is not always the best way to go. Sure you can rely on beta readers for your editing and make your own book covers in Canva or Word or whatever program you manage to manipulate successfully, but is that the best course? Does the quality truly reflect the image you want readers to have? Is it your best?

    For the record, I do utilize beta readers but their input comes well before I ever send my work to an editor. Once I finish the first draft, I follow Stephen King’s advice from On Writing and let the story rest for a week or two. Honestly, the longer the better. As an author, there’s always another story to be working on or a book to promote, or other authors’ works waiting patiently on my Kindle to be read.

    When I go back to that story, I reread it with fresh perspective. It really is like the King says, almost like reading someone else’s work. Next I scour through the manuscript for my personal demons: ly words, just, that, only, feel (show, don’t tell), was and all passive voice. I pay close attention to my POV and make sure I haven’t slipped out of character. I comb through those pages with care until I know I’ve done everything that I can from my biased perspective.

    Then I send it to six of my trusted beta readers. One is my first reader and not a writer, but she tells me what I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. She tells me when my characters are whiney and unlikable or do ridiculous things that make no sense. She points out when I’ve had three days and no nights or my timeline is so wonky there’s no way it will work without time travel. The other beta readers are also writers.

    Their time is especially precious because I know they have their own projects as well but their input via Word track changes is priceless. They catch things readers overlook or are oblivious to like dialogue punctuation and POV head hopping.

    After I consider the changes/suggestions from all six, I pour through the manuscript yet again, polishing and shining until it’s the best I can make it.

    Then I send it to my editor. And she makes 1,091 comments of suggested changes. Not. Even. Kidding.

    Some of the changes, on Haunt for instance, were things like simultaneous actions. Two things that are physically impossible to do at the same time. Like these examples:

    Sarah joined her in the car, shutting the door against the cold.

    (How did Sarah join her in the car if she shut the door at the same time? One thing happened first: Sarah joined her in the the car, then shut the door against the cold.)

    Floating up and then out from his body, he stood beside it.

    (Pretty sure you can’t float and stand at the same time: He floated up and out from his body, then stood beside it.)

    Apparently this is a pretty common rookie mistake I make when trying to vary my sentence starts. I had 62 simultaneous action comments from my editor to correct. I challenge you to find one in Haunt My Heart now, ha!

    My editor makes both structural edits for me and light line edits in the first round. More line edits in the second round. And usually a third run through before we call it a done deal. At that point, I send it to my copy editor/proofreader for a final run through. My copy editor is an eagle-eyed grammar Nazi. For real.

    The final stage is formatting.

    I do not have the patience for formatting so I hire it out and it’s back in 24 hours. I could spend a week on it and still not have it right. I know my limitations.

    The last step for me is a final read through for any last-minute typos or formatting weirdness.

    By this time, I’ve read through my work eight to ten times. All the way through. Honestly, I sort of hate it a little by then, but I do it. For you.

    Nothing turns me off quicker than to find mistakes in a book. It happens to everyone. I found several in the latest edition of The Stand  by Stephen King and other bestselling novels. No one is immune.

    But I do my best to avoid it with several layers of editing. Every time. And when I do find something wrong, I fix it.

    No one is perfect but that doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to be.

    Want to read my first self-publishing effort?

    Get Haunt My Heart here: Amazon Kindle     


    3D Haunt my HeartBook Description:

    A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

    Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

    Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

    Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my NEW RELEASE NEWSLETTER.

     

     

     


  • The cost of self-publishing one book: By the numbers.

    my bookshelf with Repent and HauntHaunt My Heart is in the world and exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Haunt is my first independently published book and I’m pretty dang excited!

    The best thing about indie publishing is that you get to make ALL of the decisions.

    The worst thing about indie publishing is that you have to make ALL of the decisions.

    There were a few trying moments. My friend and fellow author Cara Bristol talked me down from more than one ledge. Ultimately, it was the best decision I’ve made so far in my publishing career.

    I honestly thought that publishing with a big-name traditional publisher would sell more books for me via their brand than I ever could  on my own. This past year has proved to me that’s not necessarily true.

    I know lots of authors don’t like to talk about the financial side of things, but I think it’s important for aspiring authors to know what they’re getting into. Sure, there are a few publishing miracles and books (and authors) that rocket to the top of bestseller lists but most of us are here working in the trenches just trying to tell our stories and get them read.

    As a reader, I never considered what it took for a book to make it to my shelf or e-reader. Now that I’m on the other side of that curtain of Oz, all has been revealed.

    I kept a list of expenses thus far for Haunt My Heart and share them now.

    What self-publishing costs. Breaking it down…

    Haunt expense wp

    So, $1,315 to get this one book published in digital and print. I suspect it cost around the same for a traditional publisher. Obviously some books have a much bigger budget and get tons of marketing/advertising/special photo shoot covers etc., which would have to be added in. I’ll spend more on marketing myself over the coming weeks and months.

    I snarkily mentioned that the actual writing of the book is incalculable. Maybe not entirely. Haunt My Heart is 68,000 words. I average–during active writing–500-1,000 words an hour. Let’s say then, Haunt was written at an average of 750 words per hour.

    68,000/750=90 hours of active writing x $20 per hour (day job wage) = $1,813

    Of course that doesn’t count the undocumented pile of hours it took for research, editing, more editing, marketing and promoting. That truly is incalculable.

    Still, you get the idea of what goes into a book in time and money.

    What can you expect to make? By the numbers.

    The next questions everyone wants to know is how much am I making per copy. Well, let me tell you, for my traditionally published books, I’ve earned less than a hundred dollars for all of the combined editions and incarnations this past year and sold a total of 420 copies since March 2014.

    Do that math…don’t worry, I’ll wait 😀

    Now, it’s true I had very little upfront financial output for the traditionally published books. The burden of publishing costs lay with the publisher. I also did not receive any advance money. What I did get was the coveted CALL, and FANTASTIC editing. Those things were very valuable and overall it was a good experience. I have no regrets and how have three well-honed stories.

    I bought some promotional cards, banners, advertising etc. for each of those publications. Plus all the other ‘stuff’ it’s taken to be published. I also attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention two years in a row to network and market myself and my book. That cost me around $1,500 per convention. I’m skipping it this year.

    Since I began this journey in July of 2011, I’ve kept receipts of my expenditures. Nearly all of them. And now that I’ve finally received a paycheck, I can deduct my expenses from my taxes. Wonder how much those receipts have added up to?

    Are you sitting down?

    $7,156.35.

    So now, perhaps you’re wondering–I know I would be–how much I expect to make with my indie published book.

    For the print copies I’ll make approximately $2.48 per copy sold on Amazon at $10.99 each. For the e-book edition, I’ll make $2.75 cents per copy sold on Amazon at $3.99 each. I make considerably more selling print copies out of my trunk and at appearances. For each hand-sold book at $10 each, I pocket a little over $5. BUT, those hand-sales do not help your Amazon rankings one iota. So there’s the rub. Earn more, but hurt your algorithm potential.

    See why I’ve gone indie?

    The benefits of exclusivity.

    For Haunt My Heart, I’m going exclusively with Amazon and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for the first ninety days. Maybe longer. The immediate benefits I see are these:

    1.  Haunt My Heart will be available through Kindle Unlimited‘s download service.
    2. Ninety percent or more of my readers are reading through Kindles or Kindle apps (or could).
    3. I have more of an opportunity of exposure through Amazon marketing and lists

    For each KU (Kindle Unlimited) download for which the reader reads at least ten percent of the book, I’ll get a royalty of approximately $1.50. KU downloads are ‘free’ to KU subscribers ($9.99 a month subscription for virtually unlimited reading from their available selection).

    In conclusion, to ‘break even’ on Haunt My Heart, I’ll need to sell approximately:

    531 print versions… or

    479 e-book versions…or

    878 KU downloads…or

    263 hand-sold print copies…or

    some combination of those three to recover the costs of publishing. That doesn’t include any profit or compensation for the time I’ve spend writing/marketing/promoting/ or thinking about this one book.

    I’m not quitting my day job. Not just yet. In my mind, the end goal is clearly to write and publish for a living and replace my day-job income.

    I turn 50 in 2018.

    I’d like to spend the second half of my life doing this crazy thing for a living from the Big Cedars.

    For a girl who’s adverse to math, that’s a lot of numbers. I hope it helps guide you on your writing journey. And may the words be with you.

    Have you ever tried or succeeded in working your dream job?  What happened? What’s your second act dream?

    Want to read my first self-publishing effort? Lucky you! You can get it here: Amazon Kindle     

    HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800) - CopyBook Description:

    A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

    Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

    Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

    Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my NEW RELEASE NEWSLETTER.

     


  • 5 Lessons From Self-Publishing

    happy first birthday

    Today is the one-week birthday of HAUNT MY HEART, my first self-published book.

    It’s not, however, my first book. My publishing career began last March with the release of Reap & Repent and continued in July with the release of Reap & Redeem by Harlequin E. I was pretty excited to sign with a big-name publisher even though it was a new, digital-only line.

    Let me tell you. I’ve learned a lot in this past year, which is exactly why I self-published my ghost romance, Haunt My Heart.

    1. The best thing about self-publishing is that you get to make ALL of the decisions.

    After spending a year at the mercy of a very, very, speed-of-silence publisher, not having to ask anyone for permission, or an ARC, or a cover pic, or a timeline is nice. Self-publishing is sort of like being a construction contractor. You hire all out all of the work. Since those subcontractors work for you, you have the power and set the deadlines. Yeah. That’s really nice.

    2. The worst thing about self-publishing is that you HAVE to make all of the decisions.

    Sure, you get to hire out all of the work (Or do it yourself. Don’t.), but the problem is deciding who to choose. I googled until my eyes crossed, consulted with other authors I trusted, and agonized over each decision. Was this the right cover artist? Should I try to format it myself? Can I afford to pay an editor,  and then a copyeditor too?

    It comes to the point where you just have to take a leap of faith and forge ahead. Not blindly, you’ve done some homework, but if you second guess each step, you’ll be paralyzed. Make a choice. Just do it.

    The cool thing about being an independent author is if you discover you did make a mistake, you can fix it. Immediately. Without an email committee of gatekeepers to struggle through.

    3. Money is not the root of all evil. Access to real-time sales statistics is.

    Amazon shows me the money. And the stats. And the rankings. Dear sweet and fluffy lord.

    After having very little insight into real-time sales and royalties, self-publishing is like being paroled. Or I assume it is. I’ve never been in actual jail. (No, that trespassing ticket didn’t count.) I published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct and CreateSpace where you can see if you’ve had a sale practically minute-by-minute…or not.

    I swear if Amazon ever makes an author app that dings or sends  a notification for each sale and/or review, I’m sunk. I’m already addicted to obsessively refreshing the page on my phone and laptop. Yeah. It’s bad.

    I’m the poster child for Pavlov’s dog.

    4. Marketing is annoying. For you and for me.

    I hate being THAT person on Twitter and Facebook, but if I’m not tooting the Haunt My Heart horn, who will? A big-time publisher sure didn’t. If someone knows of a better way, I’m all for it. The hardest thing about publishing is building a platform and finding your people. I’ve been following the Field of Dreams philosophy so far. If you build it, they will come.

    5. You can make money and still not make a profit.

    There are some amazing self-publishing success stories out there. Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, Jacinda Wilder…you know the names. Of course, the dream is it could just as easily be YOU. Lightning could strike.

    After my first week of sales, I’m pretty pleased. No lightning strikes, but I have earned 4.5x as much in one week being self-published as I did in two quarters with two traditionally published books. Yeah. That math makes your head hurt doesn’t it.

    That said, I’m a long, long way from profitability.

    But, I’m in this for the long-run, and I know you have to plant a lot of seeds sometimes before you can reap a harvest.

    Good that I know a thing or two about reaping.

    Want to read my first self-publishing effort? Lucky you! You can get it here:  Amazon Kindle     

    HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800) - CopyBook Description:

    A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

    Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.

    Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

    Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for my NEW RELEASE NEWSLETTER.