• Tag Archives publishing
  • 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?


    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.


  • Writing Update: My year in publishing

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    Authors at Art Walk in Downtown Springfield with Rosalie Stanton

    So much happened this year in my writing career I can’t even begin to put it all here.

    Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

    March 2014Reap & Repent published in a box set

    May 2014 – Attended Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans

    June 2014Reap & Repent published as a single-title

    July 2014Reap & Redeem published in a box set

    September 2014 – Attended Ozarks Romance Authors Conference

    October 2014 Reap & Redeem published as a single-title

    November 2014 – Attended Authors at Artwalk

    August 2014 – Finished Haunt My Heart Manuscript and sent it off to the editor

    January 2015Haunt My Heart publishes on Amazon in e-book and print.

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    My table at the Ozarks Romance Authors convention.


    There’s so much more on the horizon and some really big news regarding the Reaping Series. I’ll share just as soon as things are finally firmed up. I’ve been sitting on that news since Sept. 29.

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    My first PRINT copies!
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    I was pretty excited 😀

    Yeah, I’m not really that patient but I can’t share it yet.

    Trust me though. It will be good news.

    If you’d like to keep up with my writing you can visit and/or subscribe to my writing blog posts over here on my site. Just look at the top right corner there.

    Or if you’re only interested in new releases, you can sign up for my New Release Newsletter. You won’t get more than 5-7 emails a year from that one. I’ll only send when there’s actual new release news 😀



  • Welcome to the World, Reap & Repent. Book Release Day is Here!

    Welcome to the world, Reap & Repent.

    Now that my book is out in the world, I thought I’d share some of the rules of my reaper world.

    Reaper Rules: The Basics

    How will you know if you meet a reaper? Two ways. One you’re dead already and it will become obvious rather quickly or two…you’ll never know. Reapers blend into the background. You may have already crossed paths with one. If you did, and you’re reading this now (which means you are NOT dead), you’ll never remember him.

    You’ve probably heard the stories of the “mysterious angel” who showed up at the scene of an accident and lifted the car off a child, pulled a driver to safety, saved a drowning person, _____________ (fill in the blank), and then disappeared. No one got a description. No one took a photo. No one remembers clearly what the helpful stranger actually looked like.

    There’s a good chance they met a reaper on his way to or from collecting a soul.

    There are two rules of survival as a reaper:

    1. Keep your energy.
    2. Keep your head.

    Everything else is survivable, but it also means that even reapers aren’t immortal. They can live for a long time but usually flame out after a couple of centuries. Ferrying the dead is a soul-sucking job (pun intended).

    Reaping is a full-time proposition with a human population over seven billion. And that doesn’t even count all of the other creatures with souls that need reapers. Yeah, there are reapers for every creature with a soul. And they all meet in one place. Purgatory.

    While they might not all get along topside, Purgatory is supernatural Switzerland. Forced détente. Conflict will get you smited lickedy-split.

    And no one enjoys a smiting.

    Want to read more? Reap & Repent, from Harlequin E, now available at all ebook retailers.

    AMAZON | B&N  | KOBO 

    Thank you for your support. I hope you enjoy my world and reapers.


  • Reaping What We Sow: Join Medley’s Marauders Street Team

    Do you enjoy reading about monsters in love? Do you like your romance to bloom while your hero and heroine are fighting against the things that go bump in the night? Join my street team, “Medley’s Marauders”, and you could receive ARCs  (advance reading copies – means you read for free!) and earn prizes just for reading, writing reviews and spreading the word about my books and upcoming events.

    Team member duties:

    • Reading my books and then writing and posting reviews of my paranormal romance/urban fantasy works on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Harlequin. (Don’t worry if you’re new to reviewing. I’ll send you a ‘How To’ tip sheet!)
    • Tweeting
    • Sharing and posting on your Facebook
    • Other creative ways that you devise to spread the word

    Benefits include:

    • Author review copies of my new releases
    • ARCs of backlisted books on occasion (when I HAVE a backlist, ha!)
    • Opportunity to win gift certificates to Amazon (a points-based system)
    • Special monthly prize drawings for gift certificates
    • Extra entries in ALL contests I run on my blog


    • Must enjoy reading sometimes steamy romances about sexy heroines and dominant heroes in all sorts of supernatural situations 😀
    • Writing and posting reviews of my paranormal/urban fantasy romances
    • Must have a Twitter and Facebook account
    • Other social media connections helpful, but not required.

    To apply:

    Just fill in the contact form below and say “Sign me up, Lisa!” in the comment box!

    Special note: Existing Medley  Marauders will receive 10 points during this promotion for referring a friend who joins the team. (Have your friend follow the instructions above AND mention your name in the body of the email).

    The first release will be Reap & Repent, an urban fantasy romance to be released by Harlequin E in a paranormal romance/urban fantasy box set with three other authors in early March. New members who join now will receive an ARC mid February with pre-order buy links so they can post reviews as soon as they finish reading.

    Thanks for sharing in the dream! Let’s do this!

    P.S. Book reviewers may also contact me on the contact form below or at lisamedleyauthor@gmail.com Reap & Repent should be available on NetGalley soon!

    [contact-form to=’lisamedleyauthor@gmail.com’ subject=’Medley%26#039;s Marauders’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

  • The Reaper Series: Contract Two Is On Its Way!

    Last Friday I got word that the contract, if not the check, is in the mail for book two, Reap & Redeem. It’s amazing to realize that this thing is actually happening.

    While I am still awaiting a release date for book one, Reap & Repent, the copyedits are finished, and my input (except for the cover suggestions) is all but over. The thing is being typeset as we speak.

    Elvis has left the building.

    It’s both exciting and terrifying, because very soon people will be actually READING my stuff and scarier yet…reviewing it online. Eek!

    I’ve jumped into the writing of book three, Reap & Reveal and am currently sitting at 22K. For all my planning, this book has developed much slower than the previous two. In fact the writing seems to be creeping along at an excruciating pace. Why some books are easier to write than others is a mystery I haven’t had enough experience to solve yet. But you can bet I’ll keep trying.

    I had to give a projected date of completion for book three…um, erm…Oct. 31?

    That would be the fastest I’ve completed writing a book. A lot of magic is going to need to happen between now and Halloween.

    Next time you think, “Geez, why doesn’t {insert favorite author’s name here} write more than one book a year! I hate waiting!”, trust me…we hate waiting too.

    From what I can figure out, most of being an author is WAITING. Oh sure there’s the actual writing, but AFTER that? It’s all waiting. The wheels of fiction grind slowly my friend. Even those maverick indie publishers have their fair share of waiting.

    The really amazing news…Harlequin Digital First wants the next few books in the series as well. I haven’t even thought them up yet! But I will…

    {heads off to look for that magic wand}

  • Keep On, Keeping On

    I started book three in The Reaper Series.

    This is Nate’s story. It’s called Reap & Reveal. To be honest, it’s felt slow and painful here at the beginning. Today, I finished at 12,259 words. I’m not sure why this one has been such a herky-jerky process.

    I actually made about five pages of notes before I even began. Maybe that’s the difference? Maybe trying to convert from pantser to plotter has its consequences. Sucks some of the magic out of it?

    Reap & Repent is still out for copyedits and no news on a release date. Reap & Redeem is with the HQ acquisitions team, and I’m waiting anxiously to see if they’ll officially pick it up. I felt good about book two. It was the easiest to write so far because I was a little in love with Kylen. He’s a dark and tortured hero.

    After getting some editor feedback on it from Angela (nothing official), I realize I tend to write fast and furiously up to the 70% point of my story, then sort of run out of steam and tack stuff on at the end. I’m going to work really hard on this one to NOT do that.

    The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results, yes? I want to do it right the first time.

    I’ll probably never do it right the first time.

    But I will keep trying. I’m hopeful that my story will break over soon and then I can ride its wave. I continually alternate between thinking it’s total crap and okay. The author’s curse in all its glory. This is the EXACT reason authors become alcoholics. 

    Lucky for me I don’t really like booze that much. Sure a gin and tonic with a twist is nice from time to time, but give me a bag of chocolate… Good God, man! I could put a hurt on that.

  • Author In Waiting

    February 2013 002

    So it’s been a while since I posted because I’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting since my big news. 

    If you know me at all, you know that patience is not my strongest trait. Of course I’m also a multitasker so I’ve been putting my downtime to good use.

    I did another pass through of Reap & Redeem eliminating extraneous LY words and added several hundred words in rewrites to end at 79,389 which is within striking distance of my 80K goal.

    Here’s the thing with LY words for you readers out there who aren’t or have no ambition to become writers. You probably never even notice LY words, but LY words are the TELLING part of the story. As authors we are tasked with SHOWING you what’s happening like it’s on a big screen in your head. You are going to fill in subtle details the way you want to, but we have to SHOW you body language and action instead of just telling you after the fact. That way you get to make your own assumptions and deductions (like in real life) about what’s really going on: the underlying subtext.

    Sounds easy but for me at least, it’s been a real learning curve to overcome.

    One of my beta readers (first readers or your work before all of the edits) suggested I look at my LY words in book one, Reap ‘Em & Weep. I did a ‘find’ in Word and discovered 1,395 LY words. Eek! I went through it word-by-word and rewrote down to 803 LY words. Still too many, but a colossal improvement. Harlequin did/is doing revisions on the copy BEFORE I did that so I expect that to be one of the many big things they suggest.

    Over the past couple of weeks, I gave the same attention to Reap & Redeem. You would think the second book might be better but keep in mind I didn’t get the LY suggestion until AFTER the second book was already finished. I had 1,345 LY words in book two. Doh!

    That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited and anxious to get my HQ revisions back so I can learn and stop repeating the same mistakes. I’ll probably hold off on starting book three, Reap & Reveal until this summer. July seems to be my natural starting time for some weird reason.

    Between all the edits on book one and two that will be coming soon, I’ll have plenty to do, but I can’t stop thinking about the next book. A very good problem to have. From what I’ve read, book two is the biggest hurdle for success as an author. No one wants to be a one-shot wonder. I’m glad I’m past that milestone.

    Another way I’ve passed the time is by beta reading for Allison Merritt. She has a great indie published series called Legends & Lovers which combines romance, steampunk and the paranormal into a fabulous and fun package of readerly goodness. Go check her out here http://legendsandloversseries.blogspot.com/ . I beta read her third book in the series, The Turncoat’s Temptress which will be available sometime in April at an online retailer near you.

    February 2013 001

    I’ve also been hard at work compiling a Reaper Series Bible. A series bible is a collection of character sketches, settings, rules of your world, research and all the ephemera of my series so I can maintain some level of continuity from book to book. You know, so I don’t give Kylen blonde hair in book one and black hair in book two etc.

    The devil is in the details. You’d be amazed how difficult it is to keep all the minutia of two books in your head. Not. Possible. At least not for me, hence the series bible.

    I know soon. Very soon. I’m going to buried deep with revisions but I’m ready.

    Bring it.


  • Reposting from August 2011: The Beginning of The Reaper Series

    This post was my first post after beginning Reap ‘Em & Weep, July 15, 2011.

    Most of you know this story because you’ve been following me.

    If not, here it is…

    Oh, the places we will go!

    August 13, 2011: My friend Jeff has left his job, his home and his wife (only by proximity) to pursue his dream of acting in L.A. He has been living with a friend’s parents in a spare bedroom in Los Angeles for 172 days now. He’s a funny guy. Seriously, he does comedy improv, writes and is a genuinely entertaining human being. He blogs every day and many of his posts have been hilarious accounts of the day-to-day minutia of trying to become a big star. Or in his case, just be gainfully employed in a profession that is notoriously difficult to break into let alone be successful at.

    These are obstacles that would perhaps drive a lesser spirit to drink. Of course, he can’t afford that; he has no job. His wife is still here, employed and keeping the home fires burning while he spends (a year maybe?) making this attempt to follow his dreams.

    His wife supports him.

    His wife is a saint.

    While many of his posts are funny, others are heart breaking and seemingly soul crushing in the slowness that things seem to be developing. Here he had become a big fish in a small pond. There he’s a guppy in the sea just hoping to get caught in the gill net of stardom and pulled to the surface. He’s a hero.

    He doesn’t have a cape or tights (dear God, I hope not anyway) but would be willing to don one if the occasion should arise. He is putting his money where his mouth is, his words into action and every day taking steps in a positive direction towards an end goal. A passion. A dream.

    Wouldn’t we all be better served by life to take just an iota of the chance he’s taking to pursue a dream? Remember when you were small or in junior high and you really thought you could pursue anything as a career if you wanted to? Maybe some people didn’t feel that way. I’m guessing for most of us our spirits and dreams didn’t get crushed, pushed aside or covered up until we started working “real” jobs. Jobs which eventually turned into careers, that no matter how interesting or fulfilling, locked us into the golden handcuffs of needing, buying and acquiring more which in turn forced us to work more pushing those dreams farther and farther away.

    Sometimes we might have even given up on those dreams as the folly of childhood. Or sometimes, maybe something can provide us with the tiniest spark reigniting that lost or deferred dream. As adults we can control our action, time and other resources to a much higher degree. We can pursue our dreams now in a way that will serve us better than they ever would have then.

    I don’t remember at what point I became interested in reading and writing but it was probably around sixth grade that my interest started to be more than passing. At some point, I remember my parents bought me an electric typewriter and that was about the coolest piece of equipment I had ever owned. I typed many, many sad junior high girl poems on that typewriter.

    I typed lots of other things on it too. Eventually I typed articles for the local newspaper about my family and funny aspects of my life. They got published. I got a monthly column complete with a headshot photo. Very professional.

    I also really liked to read. I read all sorts of books from our school library and whenever a subject interested me, I checked out everything they had, pouring over the pages. I ordered catalogs and consumer information government brochures on all sorts of subjects. The only bad thing about this passion is that I have a horrible memory. I wish I could retain much more of what I read. Instead I have become a hoarder of information, paper and books for reference which of course in my complete lack of a logical filing system are rarely ever referenced again.

    Thank God for the internet,  DSL and the grid because now if I want to know something or look something up I have long ago forgotten, it’s at my fingertips in that giant filing cabinet in the sky somewhere.

    I came across an awesome note-taking site called Evernote thanks to Rachel’s blog which I read regularly at Small Notebook . You can even take pics of pages of books, magazines, anything with your iPhone and file them into different notebooks within the site then reference them on your phone or computer (it syncs up).

    So all of this to say, that last summer I got the writing bug again after reading more than a hundred paranormal romances and decided to try my hand at it. Every time I read one of those books, I would think “I can do that”. Last July, I started a vampire paranormal romance that went along pretty well for a first real attempt for about 113 pages then stalled. I got sort of stuck and it seemed too difficult to try to fit writing into my list of things to do.

    Last week I got an idea for a different paranormal romance and started working on it in a notebook. A real paper notebook. It’s very portable and doesn’t have to be plugged in. This new novel attempt is not about vampires which is probably good because by the time I get that vampire book written the craze will have passed. I’ll have to wait another decade for them to be hot again.  These new characters just haven’t shut up yet, and I see lots of potential for not just one book but a series. I’ve been stealing time and staying up late to work on it this week.

    I already have 45 pages. Three hundred pages or around 80,000 words is a typical paperback novel size.

    I think it’s probably every English degree holder’s eventual and perhaps latent dream to write a novel. Is this paranormal romance going to be the Great American Novel? Not likely. But it is sure to make some monster romance lovers happy. And me happy.

    Even if it never get’s finished or dies on the vine, it has been nice to revisit a dream deferred and to feel the excitement I remembered from all those hours locked in my room in my childhood home tapping away on the keyboard of that old electric typewriter. The toys and tools are much cooler now and hopefully my writing is better too. No more depressing poetry anyway.

    My pursuit of a dream is much less dramatic and not nearly as dangerous or courageous as Jeff’s. The worst thing that’s probably going to happen while following my dream is that my family will have to eat more Ramen noodles because I want to write instead of cook supper. I’m no superhero.

    Stay tuned for the next chapter.

    UPDATE February 3, 2013

    We’ll, you know now what that next chapter is. It begins with Harlequin.

    If you’d like to read about Jeff Houghton’s Mystery Year, you can see it start to finish here http://themysteryyear.wordpress.com/ SPOILER ALERT: he has a three month old baby boy and a local talk show airing Saturday nights at 11 p.m. but it’s still not the end of his story.

    Life is a mystery. For us all.

    Be brave.

  • My Harlequin CALL Story


    Yesterday was a good day.

    I spent most of the day going about the business of my day job as a Donor Recruiter for the Community Blood Center. My job is to work with volunteers at churches, businesses and schools to organize blood drives. Basically, my living consists of talking people into bleeding and making sure they have a convenient opportunity to do so.

    Yesterday I had a meeting with a volunteer at Lake of the Ozarks for my last stop of the day. I left my phone in the car. When I got back out there, I had a voicemail from Ontario, Canada.

    I don’t know anyone in Ontario, Canada.

    I thought it was a telemarketer and almost didn’t listen to the message. Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and I did listen. It wasn’t a telemarketer.

    It was Harlequin.

    I’m pretty sure I checked out for a few seconds then listened to it three more times before calling back.

    The amazing Mary-Theresa Hussey of Harlequin had forwarded my Reap ‘Em & Weep manuscript from the So You Think You Can Write Contest to their Harlequin Digital First division.

    They read it. They liked it. They offered me a contract.

    I’m about to be published my friends 🙂

    I had no idea this was all going on. In fact, I’ve been editing away on RE&W and Reap & Redeem trying to get a series bible together so I can keep my ducks in a row.

    I’m so glad I didn’t know this was in the works because I would have stewed and stewed over it. This whole experience with Harlequin has been a tremendous blessing. I can’t think of a better organization to partner with  at the beginning of my writing career.

    I know I’ll have a ton of revisions to make but I welcome them. I want to get better. I can get better. Book two is already stronger than the first.

    I have no idea how I made it back from the lake because my brain was scattered. I think I slept three hours last night because it would not turn off. I felt like a superhero with a secret identity all day today.

    It’s amazing how things work out sometimes. Like when you have angels looking out for you behind the scenes as well as between the pages.

    Stay tuned.