• Tag Archives indie 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?

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    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: https://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.

     


  • 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.