Publishing Predictions of 2021: Pricing

I love the new year! Not only for fresh starts, but because of all the publishing predictions that come our way. It’s so interesting to me how the publishing industry changes shape, like water poured into differently shaped containers. Authors and publishers will always be around in some form, but we have no idea what form it will take!

I was listening to the 6 Figure Author podcast last night while I was making dinner and cleaning the kitchen, and they broke down a few of Mark Coker’s predictions. He founded Smashwords, an ebook aggregator for authors who want to publish their book wide. He keeps his fingers on the pulse of the industry, and his hate for Amazon aside, it’s always interesting to hear his take.

If you want to read his predictions in its entirety, look here, and thank you to 6 Figure Authors (Lindsay, Jo, and Andrea) for discussing some of the topics, too! And if you want to listen to them instead of read me, that’s cool, and you can find their episode here. They talk about some of Mark’s predictions during the first half of the show.

Anyway, so what I want to talk about today is pricing your book. The decision takes a lot more thought than just wondering if you want to sell your book for $3.99 or $2.99, and one of Mark’s predictions states that authors will lose more and more of their royalties. Here are a couple of his reasons:

Subscription service. Of course, this is a jab at Kindle Unlimited, and it’s a business decision if you want to enroll and be exclusive in Kindle Select or if you want to be wide (on other retailers besides Amazon). What a lot of authors don’t think about though is do they want the sale or the page reads? And do they want 70% royalty or 35% royalty. I price my books at 2.99, which earns me a 70% royalty. I earn a little over two dollars for a sale, but when someone reads my book from start to finish in KU I only earn $1.64 give or take depending on how long my book is. (My small town wedding series falls between 69k-72k). Mark says that the subscription service devalues our work, and maybe that’s true. On the other hand, on the podcast they talked about how a subscription service allows more people to read than ever before. A KU subscription is about 10 dollars a month, and Amazon is always doing promotions. Enrolling my book in KU could find me readers I may not find other places because they can’t afford to purchase books singly. Kobo also has a subscription service, but authors don’t need to be exclusive to Kobo to join. Of course, this is what we want from Amazon, too, but don’t count on that happening.

Paying for advertising. No one wants to pay for visibility and discoverability, but there is no business where you don’t have to, either.

And it only makes sense to advertise on Amazon when a customer is already looking at books and in the mood to buy and read. Mark’s problem with this is we’re already paying Amazon to sell our book, we shouldn’t have to pay them to advertise it, too. When you think about it though, indies who are making a lot of money off their books don’t rely solely on Amazon Ads. Like I said in my other blog post about why I left an Amazon Ads FB group, indies making a living wage aren’t agonizing over the price of their bids. The bulk of their sales come from their newsletter subscribers, newsletter swaps, and in general, publishing consistently and letting Amazon do a lot of the discoverability work on their behalf. To be successful, you don’t have to buy Amazon Ads. Craig Martelle put it best: Amazon ads bring in new readers–your newsletter keeps them.

What should you look at then, when pricing your ebook?

How new are you? When you’re new and you spent a lot of time on that first book, you want to get paid for it. That’s what I’ve come across, anyway, speaking with new authors. That makes them price their book too high, and in a world where readers, yes, are used to a subscription model, you are not going to find sales. I found this book when I was scrolling through one of my FB groups:

I’m sorry, but this is her first book, and the look inside is all telling. She’s not going to get $5.99 for this book. She’s also wide, not in KU, so she can’t even count on a few page reads to bolster her spirits.

How many books do you have out? If you only have one, you’re better off pricing it as competitively as possible and quickly writing the next book. Once you have a large catalogue you’re freer to experiment. Have a permafree first in series, create box sets and run promos on those. The author above can’t use free days that a Kindle Select participant can. When you have more books published, you can have some of your backlist a little cheaper and charge more for the new releases. All my books are $2.99, but my catalogue is in KU and I don’t think too much about my prices because I concentrate on KU readers.

What is your genre? Supply and demand is a huge consideration when pricing your book. I write romance where there is a huge supply, but there is also great demand. It makes visibility difficult and there is too much supply for an author to overprice their books. Readers don’t have to pay to find books to read. In fact, a romance reader could download free books and read for the rest of their lives. There is just too much free content out there. Whether or not that reader is getting what they pay for is something else entirely and I’ve talked to death about quality on this blog. That poor author above writes romance, and she will never sell a book for $5.99 when that is more than half a subscription cost to KU for a month.


Mark Coker is all about readers trained to devalue our work, but it’s not just the publishing industry that has this problem. Spotify has been known for not paying their artists, and Audible will only give you a higher rate for your audio book if you are exclusive with them. And who wants to be now that their gross return system is all over the news?

If you want to be paid for your work, there are only a couple things you need to do: put out a good product–no one likes to pay for junk, and that includes a poorly written book–and nurture an audience. If you have a group of readers who will read you no matter what, you can price your books accordingly and know your readers will pay because they enjoy your books.

Amazon isn’t the problem. Subscription models aren’t the problem. It’s indies who are impatient and don’t publish quality. They give their books away to whoever will read them (especially in exchange for reviews), and they can’t nurture an audience because they don’t publish consistently. Everyday in the groups I see the indies who are doing it right, and the indies who are doing it wrong, like the romance author above. Of course, it took me a few years to figure out what I’m doing wrong, and now I’m adjusting accordingly and hoping to learn from my mistakes.

My main point is, your readers will pay you.You just have to find them first.

Another interesting article about pricing and how much authors are paid. It’s not just indies having a tough time: https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/how-much-do-authors-make/

Do you agree? Disagree? With me or with Mark? Let me know!


Happy Monday! Catching up and leaving FB groups.

Good morning, dear readers. I hope you had a restful weekend!

Congratulations to Avalon Greene for winning Derek Murphy’s book! Unfortunately she can’t claim her prize because of her location, but I wanted to thank her for commenting on last week’s blog post!


Last week I started book 2 of a new series while my other series breathes and I can take a step back and give those books another edit with a fresh eye to look for inconsistencies. It’s a huge interconnecting story with a handful of plot threads and before I pass it on I need to take one more look at it. I’m not sure how long I’ll wait before I open those files again, but I’m enjoying working on this new series and I’m not in any rush to publish. 2021 is the year to do things a new way, a better way, and realize how I’ve been publishing isn’t helping me gain readers or make a foothold for myself in the publishing industry. I’m 17,000 words into this new book and my soft deadline is for Valentine’s Day. We’ll see how it goes.

In other news, I’ve culled a few more FB writing/marketing groups from my list. Here are three I dropped and why:

  1. An Amazon Ads group. This group was created by a participant in the Bryan Cohen Ads Profit Challenge last year. It was a group that was supposed to help each other by sharing information and tips and tricks to keep our Amazon ads successful. While it’s smart to know the basics when starting to use Amazon Advertising for the first time, there is only so much Bryan can help you with (especially if you don’t want to pay to join his ad school). The members of this group didn’t understand (or stubbornly didn’t want to understand) that ads are only part of the puzzle when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing. Many were trying to sell only one book, some had not so great covers, some weren’t consistently publishing, and I began to feel like I didn’t fit in there. There is always going to be more to sales and building a readership than tweaking your bid pennies here and pennies there. The Amazon algorithms favor new releases, which is why publishing consistently helps Amazon help you. (Not such great news for me since I sit on books, but there may come a day where I’m confident in my abilities and can publish as I write.) I’m not the ads police, and watching these people over and over debate on what a “good” ad consists of when they’re trying to sell a mediocre book made me clench my jaw too many times. I’m not going state the name of the group because I made some friends there and I wish them the best.
  2. An IngramSpark publishing group. I’m not sure what I thought I was going to get out of this group. I use IngramSpark to publish my paperbacks wide. It didn’t take me long to realize that while authors are smart for using Ingram to get into the bookseller’s catalogue, you should upload your paperback directly to Amazon. I thought it was a well-known fact that Amazon doesn’t play nice with others and if you use IS to distribute to Amazon, your book will frequently show not available. There isn’t a day that goes by when someone wasn’t posting about that in the group and it’s a newbie mistake I was tired of seeing. Use KDP Print to fulfill to Amazon. Use IngramSpark for everywhere else. For your ebook, use KDP to fulfill to Amazon, and try to go direct to Apple (ibooks), Nook, Google Play, and Kobo. The more direct you can go, the less you’ll split your royalties. When you use an aggregator like Draft2Digital, they take a cut distributing your book, then the platform, like Apple, takes another cut for selling it. When you’re trying to make money off a .99 book, there’s not a lot left for you. Use D2D or PublishDrive or even Smashwords to publish to the obscure platforms, but go direct where you can. At least Kobo so you have access to the promotions tab where you can apply for promotional advertising opportunities. Anyway, so many of these groups have members who post questions that can be simply answered by a Google search, and in this new year I’m too busy for that, and my patience wears thin rather quickly these days.
  3. A Book Promotions group. I must have joined this group when I thought it would be a good way to advertise my book. After listening to podcast after podcast explain how (they think) the Amazon algorithms work, and how important your also-boughts are, I would never post my book in a generic group like that. A sale isn’t just a sale–who buys your book and their reading/purchasing history is just as important. That’s something that took me a long time to learn, and authors, even in my Amazon Ads group that I left this morning, don’t want to see it. That’s okay. I’m patient. I’d rather not sell to the wrong people and wait for the right readers to purchase my books. If you think a sale is a sale, and a handful a month is your version of success, then I have nothing to say about it. That is your journey, but we are definitely not taking the same path.

I’m sure I’ll cull more in the coming months. Working full time takes more of my time than I remembered, and my main priority these days will be just getting words on the page. I’m going to turn the Level Up Romance Writers group into my main hub and network and learn from those amazing authors. Going forward, I’m going to make sure the groups I’m involved in align with how I’m running my business and that they aren’t a time-suck or put me in a bad mood. I can’t control what people do or think or feel, I can only control my reactions to those things. I’ve been really good about muting/unfollowing “friends” who condone the violence our president seems to revel in, and though a vaccine is on its way, we are still in a pandemic, most of us hanging in there with our fingernails.

I used to have a huge fear of missing out, but this pandemic has made me see that my bubble is my safe place and that there is no place I’d rather be right now.

I’m being a little more active on Instagram this month, taking part in a #newyearnewwip challenge, which is fun for me since I just started book two. If you want in on the challenge or want to follow me there for the prompts and the snippets I’ll be sharing, look here.

It might be strange to tell you about the groups I’m not in any longer, but there’s also no need to join groups that will do nothing for you. If you’re still kind of new to publishing, join Self Publishing Formula hosted by Mark Dawson. I see newbie questions there as well, but that’s a group that I don’t want to drop so I grin and bear it.

Do you have a favorite writing/marketing/publishing Facebook group? Let me know!


Welcome Guest Blogger Women’s Fiction and Domestic Thriller Author Sarah Krewis

a stack of books. quote says: what i learned when i published my debut novel
Provided by Sarah

I want to thank Vania for allowing me to guest post on her blog today. Our friendship began a little over four years ago, I believe, and with it has come some pretty stellar conversations about the life of an indie author. Today I want to talk about a few tools necessary if you want to succeed in this business, based on personal experience. 

When I began writing my debut novel, four years before I published it the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. Through research, my love of reading, and a handful of supportive people on Twitter, I figured out the barebones of how to write and publish a novel. It still wasn’t enough. 

I was stupid and naive. I thought that because I had a cover made, I had someone edit the book, and someone else to format it too, that it was all I needed to publish my story. Sure, my book cover was really well done. But I was impatient. I didn’t have a clear vision for my story so I wasn’t able to work with the designer to get it how I wanted because I didn’t fully know what I wanted. My editor gave it a first glance edit and made constructive notes. I made changes that I thought needed to be made, then I was done. I thought one round of edits would be enough and I didn’t need to have anyone else look at the book. I had set a publishing date, made the announcement on social media, and was two steps ahead of anyone who’d graciously offered to help me. 

I imagine now, when I look back on that time, a clear picture of those who helped me, standing on a sidewalk. Shock and disappointment on their faces, watching the cloud of dust behind me as I flew straight for the finish line with my unfinished project that I was so sure was this great thing. Back then, I had a lot of support on social media. I felt important, accepted, and successful. 

Then, I published. And I fell flat on my face. 

It seemed like overnight I lost 95% of support from social media. I sold approximately 25 books that first day, which isn’t bad but most of those were family members. Then sales dropped off a few days until I had months with no sales. The friends that were still in my corner were concerned for me and I was lost in a darkness of shame and disappointment in myself. I had no backbone for the blows I endured during that time and I felt defeated. 

My first review was from a FB friend who hadn’t even bought or read the book. That 5-star review was posted on the day the book went on sale. Before there were any sales.  Then, family members finished reading the book a few weeks later and I got more 5-star reviews. A few friends who read the book gave 5-star reviews or 4 stars. I was so excited! 

After about six months, I finally sat down and read my book again as a reader. I couldn’t believe it. The book wasn’t a 5-star book. At. All. At best, if I’m being nice, I’d give it a three. Once we got settled into our new home, I began a new edit and commissioned a new cover. December 1st, 2019, I released the newly edited version of my debut novel, Broken Tomorrows

It’s still not a 5-star book. 

Over the last three years since I first published the novel, I have grown and learned as an author. I have attempted to mend some of the friendships that I lost, and I took a good look at how I reacted and how sensitive I came across to those who knew me. If they left a 5-star review because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, that’s on me. I never want anyone to feel like they can’t be truthful with me because it’ll hurt my feelings. 

In 2020, I took six months and focused on myself. I reviewed my life since I joined this business of writing and I asked myself some really tough questions, like, is writing really what I want to do with my life? I also stripped Broken Tomorrows off Amazon and redid about 75% of the story with the intent of republishing a third time. How do I know I’ve grown? I took a step back and realized that I need to write something new and fresh. I need to walk away from my characters and meet new ones. I do have a plan for what I rewrote of Broken Tomorrows, but that will come in a couple of years after I’ve shared some other characters with my readers. 

Authors should never pick up the task of writing a book unless they are prepared for everything that goes into it. Here are five tools you MUST understand before you begin writing that book, tools that I learned the hard way are essential to the craft.  

Read Reviews with Caution: As authors, we aren’t supposed to read reviews as they aren’t really for us. They are for other readers to share if the book is worth buying. I can do a whole other blog post about my thoughts on reviews, but I’ll save that for another time. IF you find yourself peeking (believe me, it’s hard not to do), take them for what they are: Someone else’s opinion. Read it, process it, check it, and then move on. 

Get a Backbone: This was one of my biggest lessons I had to learn, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Sometimes we need to read bad reviews and get negative feedback to strengthen us. But we also need to be stronger than the sensitive versions of ourselves. How to do this? Don’t take everything so personal. If someone gives you a negative reaction, take the good you can learn from it and grow. 

Have a solid Writing Community: I went into this business thinking that everyone in the writing community were supportive and loving people. That’s not true. There’s a saying out there that says something like, “other writers aren’t our competition” but in reality, not everyone believes that. While I did eventually find a handful of really great writers who support each other, it’s rarer than you might think. Reach out to other authors in the genre you write and support them. Some of those people may give you support back, or some may use you because your support goes a long way. Know what to look for and at the end of the day, understand that when people say writing is a lonely business, it’s not a false statement. 

Own Save the Cat Writes a Novel: I wish I had this book back in 2014 when I first started drafting Broken Tomorrows during NaNoWriMo. It gives a clear breakdown on each scene that needs to be written and why. It’s the perfect guide for those who enjoy outlining their novels. I get nothing for recommending this book to you, I just really believe in it. You can find the book on Amazon by Author Jessica Brody. 

Invest in Yourself: I used to scoff when people would tell me to do this. I mean, when you don’t have the money for an editor or cover designer, you don’t have it. But, while you may not be able to afford that $1800 Developmental Edit, you can buy books that will teach you how to edit yourself. You can find a way to enroll in inexpensive courses online to teach you the craft. Groupon got me into a Write Academy course and a 6-month subscription to The Writer Magazine. There are deals out there you just need to look for them. Sell items that you don’t use anymore and start a Writing Fund. Network with other authors and reach out to University students. 

Vania knows a lot about making writing a business. If this is your first time on her blog, I recommend following her because she has a lot of useful advice based on personal experience. I’ve learned that you have to treat this like a business if you want to make it as a successfully published author. Don’t let these tips above discourage you from doing what you love, if writing is what you feel destined to do. Writing has a lot of tough moments, but when you are holding your bestseller in your hands, you’ll remember those tough moments as paying your dues for success. 


To purchase Broken Tomorrows click here.

Writerly things I’m enjoying right now!

Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog post of 2021. I thought I would take this blog post as an opportunity to tell you about a few things that I’m enjoying this month! I know money is tight, and I do like to recommend low cost or no cost items on this blog. Read to the bottom to enter into a giveaway for CreativIndie, Derek Murphy’s new book, Craft Book, a book on, well, you guessed it, craft. It’s one of my favorite things this month.

Let’s get started!

Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge
If you’ve read my blog at all, you’ll know that I am a fan of this challenge. Bryan has taught me what I need to get started with ads, and if I pay attention to ad spend there are very few months where I lose money. It take a little time and patience–comparing ad spend to royalties and pausing ads that are spending more than they are bringing in, but I’m just at the beginning of this journey and what Bryan teaches you is free. While it is a tactic to bring in students to his ad school, he DOES teach you enough to get started. I’m well aware of the webinars and infomercials that are full of “Information” but don’t tell you a damned thing. Bryan’s ad challenge isn’t like that. In the challenge he’ll teach you how to:

*contact KDP and add categories to your book and ebook to optimize the category ad placement in the ad dashboard
*ad a subtitle to your ebook to highlight subgenre or trope to your potential reader.
*teach you to write easy ad copy for the kinds of ads where you can add a hook
*find relevant keywords for your ads
*find a workaround if you published via a different platform than KDP and still want to run ads
*what to bid and what your daily budget should be to be profitable with ads
*teach you what conversion means. If you have plenty of clicks and no sales, something is wrong. He’ll help you puzzle out why your book isn’t selling.

The group also offers a ton of support. His successful Amazon Ad School students help him moderate the FB group page and answers all the questions! They also moderate his FB live segments. There is plenty of support if you missed something or need clarification.

Some information is the same, some is different as between each challenge, Amazon tweaks the ad dashboard. I participate in the background to glean new information, but this will be my 5th ad challenge, and I don’t think I can do anything more with the information he’s given me except 1) join his ad school and/or 2) publish more books.

If you’re interested in his next challenge, it starts January 11th, and you can click here for the signup website.*

*This is not an affiliate link. I don’t get anything for recommending this challenge to you.


The 2021 Author’s Planner
I’m not much of a planner, but when Craig Martelle from 20booksto50k mentions something, it’s worth taking a look. He posted about this author’s planner, and I went ahead and bought a copy. His link is for Lulu, and the book is spiral bound. That is great for not ruining a book’s spine if you need full access to write on the page. Amazon also offers one with a perfect-bound spine, meaning as with KDP it’s glued together. That’s not such a big deal if you need to save a little money and you don’t mind cracking a spine to have access to the whole page. I’m pretty hard on my books and cracking a spine never has bothered me. (Don’t look at the covers of books I’ve taken into the bathtub!)

Taken from the Amazon Product page

The book looks fun and helps you stay on track with writing, publishing, and your newsletter. I’m excited because I have a lot going on in 2021, with new releases, and new “pen name” and the start up of a new newsletter. It’s difficult for me to pivot this way, but I’m going to use what I learned in the last four years to really make a mark with my books. Having a plan will go a long way to keeping me accountable!

Here is the link for the Amazon perfect bound edition.*

Here is the link Craig posted for the Lulu spiral bound edition.*

Let me know if you buy it and what you think.

*These are not affiliate links. I don’t get anything for recommending this book to you.


Five-Minute Focus by Craig Martelle
Speaking of Craig Martelle, what I’m really enjoying these days are his 5 minute focus videos on YouTube. He takes 5-6 minutes to talk about something like hooks, blurbs, covers, motivation, whatever and he’s just a lot of fun to listen to. He’s making a lot of money with his books, and he has a right to be excited, but no matter where you are in your author journey you have a lot to be excited about too, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Here’s a taste of what I’m talking about. Listen to them all at once, or one a day. He seems to record them regularly. I also like the talks between him and Michael Anderle. If you want to listen to two men talk successful indie publishing with a huge dose of gratitude for what they have, these are your men.


A Book on Craft
Last, but not least, is Derek Murphy’s book Book Craft: How to write books readers love, from first draft to final polish. I’m only fifteen percent into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s not stuffy like some nonfiction books, and I like his voice and his stories. Just a warning though, if you don’t like books that tell you to write to market, you may not enjoy this one. Derek is all about helping you write a novel and while he wants you to write your passion project, he also wants to guide that project into a book that readers will want to read.

Me reading this book is like listening to a preacher while I’m standing in the choir, but we all need to be reminded now and then that after our book is written and published, it’s up to the readers to decide if you’ve written what they are going to enjoy.

I’ve been in this business long enough (and have learned the lessons) that you can’t make it if you don’t write what readers what to read and package it in a pleasing manner. I’ve seen authors publish books in the double digits and barely sell any every month for the simple fact their covers are bad or the look inside is boring because they started their story in the wrong place.

While it’s not fair to leave a glowing review of a book when I’ve only finished 15%, I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the whole thing, and I think you will too!

Here are the cover and the blurb:

Image and blurb taken from Amazon.

Everybody wants to write a book, but most authors fall short.

You have a gift, but it’s not enough. Deep magic isn’t a spontaneous explosion of creative energy. That burns too hot. It’s unstable and unpredictable. Real power comes from deliberation, skill and craft. But you need a guide to unlock a writing practice that ignites your true potential. This is it.

You have been told that writing is a type of magic, that all craft-based strategies are blasphemy. But smart authors recognize that even if writing is an art, it’s also a craft to be mastered. It’s time to peer beyond the veil, and unlock your unique brand of powerful book craft.

This is not a book, it’s an initiation. You’re here because you love the alchemical process where your creativity and inspiration bleed onto the page. You’ve tasted the power of using letters to communicate ideas and cast spells, bewitching readers and captivating them with the powers of your mind.

You’ve got a taste for it, but you want more. So you’ve sought me out, and here we are. This information took me decades to uncover, and I don’t reveal it lightly. Not every author is ready to hear the valuable lessons I’m about to share with you, but this book isn’t for them. It’s for you.

The truth is, there are things that great books have in common- and even more informative, there are definitely signs of weak writing, which can be easily identified and avoided. 

This book will help you to…

  • Plot your book without stifling your creativity
  • Hit crucial turning points to keep readers engaged
  • Improve pacing & backstory without info-dumps
  • Increase stakes, drama and conflict
  • Double your word count and stay motivated
  • Avoid common amateur mistakes & lazy writing
  • Heighten intrigue & suspense to keep readers invested
  • How to know your book will sell before you write it
  • Why readers stop reading and how to fix it
  • Simple plotting and outlining strategies so you can write faster 
  • Revise and edit your first draft and identify problems fast 
  • Save thousands of dollars on editing and increase book sales

Ready to move from the slush pile to the bookshelf?
Scroll up and improve your writing today!

If this is a book you think you’ll enjoy, leave a comment at the end of this blog post, and on January 11th I’ll choose a winner and send the winner a copy of the ebook.


2020 is over and it’s time to kick the dust of your boots. There’s a meme out there that says you can’t claim 2021 as your year, but hell yeah, do it anyway. I have. 2021 is a fresh start to many aspects in my life, and I bet it is for you too! Hopefully these tools can help you succeed! Happy New Year!

What. Ever.

My Highs and Lows of 2020

I’m tackling this blog post a little early since I plan to spend the rest of the month getting started with the first round of editing on my current WIP and celebrating Christmas. If we count from January 1st to December 31st, the numbers will be a little off, but not by too much.

2020 wasn’t the sh*tstorm for me as it was for some others. I still managed to write a lot of books, publish, and keep up with my blog. Let’s take a look at my numbers for 2020. I know some writers/authors who did a hell of a lot more than I did, but if I managed to get a little more work done than you this year please take it as a form of motivation for what you can do in 2021 rather than feel bad you didn’t get much accomplished. This year was unlike any other I’ve experienced and I count my blessings every day.

Books Published in 2020: 4 I spent all of 2019 writing my four-book Rocky Point Series. I published the four as a rapid release strategy at the beginning of this year. I don’t have a cultivated readership, and those books released without fanfare. How much have they earned me so far? These numbers are taken from BookReport, a Chrome browser extension.

This screenshot from BookReport says 8 books because the paperbacks are included in the count. I didn’t sell any paperbacks, and without the FreeBooksy promo I did in July, I don’t think my sales and read-through would have be been as good. And good is subjective. I have my sights set pretty high–these numbers don’t come close to what I want for my author business.

I am definitely not ungrateful–I know lots of authors would love to have these numbers. But when it comes to an author career, this is just a drop in the bucket–and I paid for those reads and sales with promos and ads. When I take a look at ad spend, I’m willing to bet I broke even. Which is fine, I’m finding readers, but without a newsletter or active FB author page, I have nowhere to keep them interested.

Sales as a whole for 2020: I have three standalones and a trilogy (also some novellas I don’t market) and these are my total numbers across all my books for 2020:

Take the 32 books with a grain of salt–I have boxed sets in there, as well as the individual Kindle and paperback versions. This number will also include the Large Print version I have of The Years Between Us. I was really hoping my series would take off, but I’ve made almost as much with All of Nothing ($634.16) as I have with the four Rocky Point books. And after I changed my cover, The Years Between Us has been doing exceptionally well too with sales of $609.24 for the year.

If you want to enlarge it, here is the breakdown for all books for the year:

Readers read a little bit of everything, which is fine. These books are an example of what not to do. Hopping around within the contemporary romance genre hasn’t done me any favors, but I’ve blogged about that and won’t bother going into it again. Needless to say, I learned a lesson and 2021 will be a new direction for me.

I also just want to add, it breaks my heart I never could get Wherever He Goes to move. I’ve run ads to that book relentlessly, and I just can’t drum up interest. I did a Kindle Countdown for it this year, and nada. Not one sale or KU page read off that promotion. It’s such a lovely little story and I hate I can’t make people read it. I’ve changed the blurb for it couple of times and I love the cover. Something isn’t right, but sometimes you just have to give up and move on. If anyone wants a free copy, let me know. Some reviews would probably help. 🙂

Thanks to BookReport for letting me pull those numbers so quickly. It’s a free Chrome browser extension and it’s a nice (free up to a certain royalty earning) tool to have around.

Total Ad Spend for 2020: After seeing my royalties for the year, how did I do with ad spend? I know with some ads I lost money, and I lost some money on single books while other books made up for it. Let’s see how much I spent in ads and if it will make me cry.

This isn’t as scary as I thought it would be:

It seems I did come out ahead with an ad spend of $1,289.91 over this year. Amazon tightened their creative guidelines and I wasn’t able to run ads to my first in series for the past couple of months, and you can see that dip toward the end of this year. I would have cranked up my ads for that first in series if they wouldn’t have done that as my series is a small-town holiday wedding series that would have been a perfect read between October and now, but Amazon is Amazon and there’s not much you can do about it besides go through with the headache of changing out covers, something I did not want to do.

Ad spend needs to include a FreeBooksy promo for $110, and a promo through eBookSoda for $29.00. Even adding those two things I came away with a royalty earning of $816.46. That’s four and a half car payments, or 136 cups of coffee at $6.00/cup or 1.25 rent payments. It helps to say things like that to put into perspective. But $816.46 definitely does not cover the hours and hours of writing, formatting, and cover design, not to mention podcast-listening and non-fiction reading I do for my books.

Still, though, you have to count your blessings. I’ve had people read and enjoy my books. That’s a great feeling.

Number of books written in 2020: 7. I wrote a six-book serial and just finished up a book one in a new series. These are all billionaire romance and that is the direction I’m going to take my writing in the new year. Each book is 85-90k which gives me a total of 595,000 words written, conservatively. I know some authors in some of my FB groups have written a million words this year, but I’m going to take my accomplishment and have an extra glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what my publishing schedule will be like next year. My six-book serial has only gone through a couple of editing sweeps, and I still need to edit them a couple more times and listen to them, too. Then the formatting and cover design. At this point in the game, you’re supposed to take royalties and sink them back into your business, but my $800 would barely buy me three decent covers, let alone six. And if I went with a paid beta reader, $800 wouldn’t cover what she charges, not for all six. I’ll have to think about what I want to do in regards to that. I definitely don’t want to push them out without another set of eyes, yet I simply can’t afford to hire someone to help me, and that level of favor is a pretty big ask. Anyway, I’ll keep you in the loop on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, number of blog posts written: 73. I’ve tried to be consistent this year, and I made it to 450 followers, earning, on average 1-2 new followers per blog post. Here are the stats WordPress gave me when I looked:

I’ve written enough blog posts they could be a book. Add that to my novel word count, and I’m pretty impressed with myself this year. WordPress also gave me my top commentors, and I want to thank them for consistently reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate you and you readers are who keep me posting week after week.

Coincidentally, when I logged into my WordPress account this morning, they congratulated me on being with them for five years. I think this is just a lesson to those who think an overnight success can actually mean that. Starting up a blog is hard work, keeping it consistent is hard, if not harder. Thinking of something to write about week after week, and staying relevant, is hard work. One of my friends loves to say, if you don’t like starting, stop quitting, and that is so true in this case. Building a blog, a following, takes patience and tenacity. Thank you for being here.

As for any other highs and lows this year, I wish for as many people who have read my books either through KU or purchased them, that I would have gathered a few more reviews. We’re told not to read reviews, but when we make graphics or whatnot sometimes it’s nice to add a glowing review to encourage people to buy.

So for 2020 here is my weirdest review from His Frozen Heart:

I’ll never begrudge a review, bad or otherwise because I think they’re all helpful and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to write a little something, and for her to say she couldn’t get it out of her head could be taken as a huge compliment. Stumbling upon it did make me smile.


I applaud anyone who has managed to get through 2020 with their sanity intact. Or at least most of it. I started working from home which has been a thrill–nothing like having a cat on your desk or being able to avoid those pesky coworkers. I’ve had a few personal problems crop up, but who hasn’t. My carpal tunnel pain is still under control with those stretches that Aidy Aaward posted earlier this year (I still thank her from the bottom of my heart for them) and with a few visits to the dentist, my mouth pain is under control too, though I am sitting here with one less tooth and hopefully a plan to rectify that situation next year. I started working full-time, but so far that hasn’t stopped my productivity.

I don’t know how many books I’ll write next year while the ones I have written now are releasing. I still have to figure out a newsletter because I know after five years of writing and publishing, that is where I went wrong. If I could redo any of my choices since I started this crazy adventure, it would be building a newsletter from the very beginning of my career.

My plans for 2021?

Start/build a newsletter. Stick with a subgenre. Network more with other romance authors. Stay grateful. Stay hungry.

What will you do in 2021?

Happy New Year!

Cliffhangers. Are they a good thing or do they spell trouble?

Cliffhangers have been on my mind lately. Partly because in the serial I just finished a couple of books within the serial end on cliffhangers–which is why I’m calling it a serial and not a series. A reader has to start at book one. There are no other entry points like a series can have.

Another reason why is because the last Nora Robert’s book, the one that caused a lot of drama over on her blog, ended in a cliffhanger and the fans were both excited for the next installment and appalled they had to wait until Fall of 2021 to see what happens next. (Laura, Nora’s publicist, defended her by saying Nora rarely ends a book with a cliffhanger, which could be why readers were so up in arms about the whole thing.)

One particular cliffhanger that I didn’t appreciate was the cliffhanger season two of Virgin River on Netflix ended with. By now there are spoilers online, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll leave it to you to look it up (or watch the show!). I was wondering why the credits played out when I realized it was because that was the last episode of the season.

Of course cliffhangers have a reason for their existence–they spur readers and viewers on to the next book or season/episode.

While big authors like Nora Roberts can tell readers to wait and not receive too much flak for it (or simply not care), indies aren’t so lucky. Some indies write what they want and only consider the reader or their feelings when they start getting bad reviews. Writing and publishing what you want, your passion project, your project from your heart, whatever you want to call it, is all fine and good. We should be excited about our projects or why bother to write? But you also want your readers to love what you’re writing just as much as you do.

When does a cliffhanger work against you? Here are my thoughts and you can tell me if you agree or not:

*When you know you’re going to have too much time between books. Do you remember a long time ago when Mad Men’s last season was split into two parts? How many people hung around and waited for those last few episodes to drop? I didn’t. If you end your first book with a cliffhanger, and you’re not even writing the second book yet, think about when you should publish the first. You CAN sit on a book. Most indies are too excited to publish to think about hanging onto a book. And as Andrea Pearson likes to say on the Six Figure Author podcast, your book won’t make you money sitting on your computer. But. How worth it is ticking off your first wave of readers, earning some poor reviews (and maybe even some spoilers thrown in). Bad reviews won’t make you write faster–the opposite is probably true. Nothing kills motivation more than a reader saying they hated what you wrote.

*You (maybe) kill off a beloved character. We all know the last scene in the book–will he or won’t he . . . live. He’s lying on the floor, gasping for breath, an arrow sticking out of his ribs just below his heart. Fade to black. And your readers see red. This is especially bad if you don’t know if he’s going to live or die. There’s a big difference between an upbeat cliffhanger and a horrible, horrible readers-are-crying ending to your book.

*Your cliffhanger is too sad and it makes readers angry. Like I explored a little above, if your cliffhanger is devastating and it makes readers mad, that’s a big difference between something happy–like your MMC about to propose to his girlfriend and someone interrupts them. Now you have a “will they or won’t they,” and it’s a different tone, more anticipation rather than dread. Like in the Fifty Shades of Grey (movies, I didn’t read the books) when Ana leaves Christian’s penthouse. They’ve just broken up over his lifestyle choices–but there are two more books in the serial. They will get back together. Readers know it. There’s anticipation in the how. How will they get back together? Will she forgive him? Will he change for her? The second movie ended on a cliffhanger too–but not with such a steep drop. We see Jack Hyde skulking in the shadows planning his revenge against Ana and Christian. Ana and Christian are HFN (happy for now). He’s proposed, she’s said yes. But we want to know, what will Jack do? Will Ana and Christian be okay? We want them to have a HEA.

*If you think you won’t finish at all. There is a surprising amount of unpublishing in the indie community, more than I ever thought I’d see when I first started writing. I can name two of my writing acquaintances off the top of my head who have unpublished incomplete series. Maybe because they think they won’t finish, or maybe their sales weren’t what they thought, or more likely, their writing wasn’t what it could have been. Writers are a neurotic bunch, and we can get hit hard with criticism and scrutiny. But no matter why you choose to unpublish, and unpublish a book with a cliffhanger, it’s a poor business choice that screams unprofessionalism and poor planning. I have read the series that have been unpublished, and yes, maybe I am their only reader, (disappointing one customer is too many as far as I’m concerned) but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I will never know how those stories end. And what’s worse is when I asked, I didn’t get an apology, only a virtual shrug and an “it is what it is.”


In my blog post about Nora Roberts and her readers’ entitlement, I talked a little about how indies are spoiling readers with quick release dates. Traditional publishing is mainly a book a year model, and Nora tried to explain this. As indie writers take more slices of the reader pie, fewer and fewer readers are going to want to wait. Even for their favorite trad pubbed author. It makes me wonder if traditional publishing will finally start making some changes. Quick release dates aside, maybe readers are more tolerant of cliffhangers in traditional publishing because they know the books after will eventually come. Indies, unfortunately, aren’t held to contracts, they only write on their own steam and deadlines. They can unpublish, not finish, or take years on a book, and no one (besides readers) are telling them to get to work.

Is there anything you can do if you have to end your book with a cliffhanger?

*Have the pre-order link set up at the end of the book. Depending on the kind of cliffhanger you write, you’ll either have readers clamoring for the next book or throwing their ereaders across the room. Having a pre-order available won’t ensure you’ll have the book done (I’ve seen plenty of pre-orders canceled) but having a self-imposed deadline will give you a date to shoot for.

*Have an excerpt in the back of the book for the next book. Having an excerpt might cool some tempers if they don’t like the way your book ended. Ideally, you’ll want to include the first scene of the next book but anything that will clear up a question will keep readers interested–especially if you can announce a release date for the next book.

*Offer a newsletter sign in exchange for clues about what will happen next. This is advice I’ve gotten from other authors, and I have no idea if it works. Some say you do get lots of email signups if you can offer a hint at what happens next, or maybe an alternate ending, or an epilogue not available anywhere else. Something that will tie up some loose ends to appease your readers until the next book is done/available.

The bottom line is, when you end a book with a cliffhanger, you need to be professional about how you go about it. The best way is to have the book ready and either rapid release, or offer the book on preorder and make sure you meet the deadline (and don’t schedule it too far out, either). There’s no excuse not finishing a series, especially ones that end in a cliffhanger. We are all in charge of our own careers, and if you mess up, there’s no one to blame but yourself. We’re all adults here.

Here are some more thoughts on ending books with a cliffhanger:

Ask The Writer: Ending on a cliffhanger

https://writing.stackexchange.com/questions/12370/is-it-okay-to-end-a-novel-with-a-cliffhanger

The Pros and Cons of Cliffhangers


Thanks for reading! Until next time!

Thursday Musings: Why are people so cranky (toward Amazon)?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama

There’s a lot of animosity for Amazon (and IngramSpark for that matter) online in the author groups these days. Authors are angry because they aren’t getting their author copies and proofs in a reasonable amount of time. One woman was experiencing a glitch on the KDP website while trying to figure out a pre-order (which is pretty common all year round, not just December) and there was so much rage in her post my laptop started smoking.

Indies have a really weird love/hate relationship with Amazon. We love them for the opportunity they gave us to bypass gatekeepers (agents) and publish our own work. We hate them for what? Spotty customer service, perhaps. Locking us into KDP Select when authors want the benefits of KU but the flexibility of still publishing wherever they like. We hate the lagging in reports on our ads dashboard, and I don’t know what else. That’s all that I can think of trying to remember what some people have complained about. We easily forget that with the invention of the Kindle and their self-publishing platform that indie publishing is what it is today. There are lots of other factors involved like other platforms coming into play (Nook, Apple, Google Play) and other distributors jumping on the bandwagon (Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, among others like Lulu and Bookbaby) and business/industry dealings I have no interest in following (pricing wars of ebooks, the big publishing houses consolidating) that have affected how indies can publish their books.

You can hate Jeff Bezos for his billions, but Amazon has made several indie author careers. Ask Mark Dawson, or Bella Andre, or Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, or any of the other huge indie authors who found their start publishing a single ebook to KDP. Many, (actually, I think all) of them have gone on to some form of traditional publishing be it in the form of new book deals or paperback only deals, or translations, what have you. Everyone knows The Martian made it to the big screen. Plus, with Amazon’s own publishing imprints, Amazon is luring away big trad authors like Dean Koontz, Sylvia Day, and Patricia Cornwall. They drank the Kool-Aid and are happier for it.

Of course, Amazon played a small role in those things–the authors can take the most credit by having a solid product that people wanted.

I see that as another reason for authors’ rage against Amazon. Amazon Advertising is blamed for taking money but not selling books. They feel ripped off, they feel like Amazon is double dipping–taking royalty money and charging for ad spend. Authors feel like they’re being played. But take a look at some of those books, and you can see why they feel that way. Their books are sub-par, they don’t follow industry standard, their covers are bad, and their books are full of telling not showing.

It’s a lot easier to blame someone else for your mistakes, isn’t it?

I experience the same glitches as everyone else. I hate when they ask you to fix the highlighted mistake, but there is no highlighted mistake. I’ve published enough books, and spoken with support, to figure out what I did wrong. My last problem was a price change that made my royalties in India 0. Amazon won’t let you do that. That section wasn’t highlighted, and it took a call to support for her to quickly look through my book’s profile and tell me what the issue was. One of the mistakes that threw me for a loop was when they stopped taking my imprint as my publisher name. I had to call and ask them why when they had in the past. They said I could list my imprint as my publisher name if I wanted to screen shot my ISBN numbers on the Bowker website and prove that my imprint name is attached to my ISBN numbers. No thanks. That was a battle I had no intention of fighting. I dislike they’re tightening their creative guidelines and I can’t run ads to my series because the covers are too steamy. It’s irritating because I don’t think the covers, in relation to other contemporary romance steamy cover, are that racy. But my ads get declined over and over and I stopped trying to slip past their moderators. It’s not worth making them mad at me.

Those are the types of things that can make a person angry, right? But the thing is, you’re running a business, and there’s no business on the face of this planet that doesn’t have some kind of issue every day. Be it employees calling in sick, or the internet is down, or a water pipe burst and your store is flooded. You’re running a small business. Things happen, and as a responsible business owner, if you’re planning a release and something happens, that’s for you to take care of, it doesn’t matter who is to blame.

The pandemic doesn’t make things any better. I don’t know how KDP sets up their support. Depending on who answers my call, it sounds like they sometimes outsource their calls. I don’t call enough to figure out when–I speak with both people with Asian accents as well as American accents. During the global pandemic, we don’t know how COVID is affecting Amazon’s employees. Maybe KDP support is working from home, or maybe they work in call centers and they are short-staffed. Their POD printers must be pumping books out like crazy, but Amazon workers oversee those and box up the copies for shipping.

Sometimes authors forget that Jeff Bezos isn’t all of Amazon. Behind Amazon’s logo are thousands of workers. They have lives. They have families. They get sick.

Your entitlement doesn’t look good on you.

Keep it out of the groups.

The bottom line is, you don’t have to publish with Amazon. You can take all your energy and ad money and use it to build a readership on other platforms. There are indie authors who do very well wide. Lindsay Buroker publishes wide and she makes a million dollars a year. Not all of that comes from Amazon. She once said that Google Play had been trying to contact her to update her banking information. When she finally got around to it, she said she had enough royalties built up there she went out and paid cash for a brand new truck. You can make other platforms work for you. Kindle Select isn’t the end-all, be-all of your publishing business. You can make money if your books aren’t in KU. You have to work for it. Just like any business owner.

Kindness and politeness are not overrated at all. They're underused. Tommy Lee Jones

Being in some of the author groups is such a drag right now. It’s all complain, complain, complain. I love being in the 20booksto50k group. Every single post is moderated and they don’t allow any negativity. That takes a lot of work. There’s a lot of negativity out there aimed at both KDP and IngramSpark. From the complaints I’ve read online, IngramSpark might be doing even more poorly than KDP. Personally, I’ve never liked IngramSpark’s website. Uploading books there is a bear and it’s the last thing I do when I publish because I hate it so much. I only do that so my paperbacks are available everywhere just in case. From my own experience, their POD quality isn’t any better than KDP Print. I use it for the distribution and that’s all. But we have to remember that IngramSpark services thousands of authors, and those authors are publishing books every day. You are not a special snowflake and you have to stop acting like you are.

You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force. Pubilius Syrus

I’ve worked in customer service all my life in one way or other. Going off on a customer service agent is the best way to ensure you don’t get the service and results you want. We remember you. We make notes. The second your name pops up, we cringe inside. Who knows if the customer service reps at KDP have access to a notes portion of your profile. Do you want them to say “Nice author to work with. :)” Or do you want them to say, “Angry. Yelled at me and used expletives.” The next time you call, what kind of treatment do you think you’ll receive?

Craig Martelle likes to remind us that you, as an indie author, are part of a whole. We make up that whole. You represent us. Every shitty thing you say to an Amazon rep is reflected back on indie authors. When I need to call or email, I am pleasant, I wish them a nice day. I chit chat and tell them to stay safe and healthy. I thank them for being there. They are at work to earn a paycheck to feed their families. Show some kindness. At the end of they day when they log off, they don’t care about your book. Remember that.

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. Scott Adams

I’m not quite sure what I wanted to do with this post. It’s the holiday season, people are cranky because of the pandemic. Lots of us don’t have jobs, can’t buy presents for our kids this year. I’m not without my own issues this month. But it is never okay to take your anger out on someone else. If you have that much rage built up inside you that you have to go off on an Amazon rep because something happened to your pre-order, find a therapist.

There’s not much left of 2020. Make the most of it!


Got/Get: The laziest words.

I don’t write a lot on craft in this blog. I’ll share editing books I like and tell you over and over again that no matter what you do, ads, graphics, book promotion sites, what have you, if you’re not selling a good book, you’re not going to make it. I don’t mean a well-written book that doesn’t resonate with some readers. You’re not going to please everyone, and that’s just how it is. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to keep going in the past few years of writing. Certain people may not like my stories–I’ve never written a character people hate more than Jax in All of Nothing, but never in any review have I ever read of my work has anyone told me I’m a bad writer. So whether or not people don’t agree with my characters and all their flaws, at least I can hold my head up and know I’m a good writer.

I’m not sure where I was going with that?

Oh, so I don’t offer much craft advice. That really should come from your beta readers, your writing group, your editor. What you choose to take from those people is your own business, and as one editor I know says, “It’s always going to be their book.” So yeah, I don’t like craft advice very much, at least, not giving it.

Lately I’ve been reading more on my Kindle. I pay for a KU subscription and I signed up thinking that I would keep up with my comp authors that way. A lot of romance authors are in KU and it’s always a good thing to keep up with what’s selling. That was my intention anyway, but I paid for a few months of it before I charged up my Kindle and decided I was going to take advantage of my subscription. I read a lot of non-fiction and reading in KU is a lot cheaper than buying paperbacks.

Anyway, so I finished a mystery/thriller the other day. It’s written in first person present, which is why I chose to read it. I’m writing my own stuff in first person present and for me, it’s easier to keep in that POV and tense.

It didn’t take me long to get annoyed. This author really, I mean really, liked the words GOT/GET/GOTTEN. Not short for Game of Thrones, like we associate that word now, but the. . . I guess it’s a verb? . . . got. Gotten. Getting. Get.

She’s got an open black peacoat revealing black slacks and a gray blouse beneath.

When I got in last night, (character name) was in the middle of working on a story.

I need to get to that hospital.

While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she’s got nothing.

I don’t need to do anymore, and it didn’t take me long to find these. The author turns sloppier toward the end of book, like he was tired of writing it and wanted to finish it as quickly as possible.

Maybe it’s just me because that word has already been a pet peeve of mine, but it really turned me off. There are better verbs you can use, and they aren’t hard to reach for–She’s wearing an open black peacoat . . . Even as something simple as changing out GOT for HAS. While everyone else has pictures or knickknacks on their desk, she has nothing. Maybe it’s not any better, creatively speaking, but to me it reads a lot better.

He was able to comb through her devices after we got them from her parents.

It just sounds all around clunky and I’ve hammered it out of my writing. I know how easy it is to slip into easy language, and sometimes that’s all right. But the more you do it the more you can fall into “telling” a story rather than “showing” it. First person is particularly difficult because we’re writing someone’s thoughts, and people’s thoughts are messy and not particularly sophisticated.

And of course, I didn’t tag any dialogue because that’s how how speak. “To make it on time, we have to get going.” “We really gotta go now.” And if you’re speaking to kids, “We really gotta go NOW.”

I’m not blaming this author–I blame her editor for not catching it, or not caring enough to catch the repetitiveness of the word and asking the author to perhaps do a word search of her document and swap out the word where applicable. This wasn’t an indie published book, and unlike some indie where you’re not sure if an editor has gone over the book, this one has. It’s too bad because the word ruined a story I could have enjoyed.

In my own unfinished WIP (67k+) I used GOT 19 times. All but one time is in dialogue. In this particular conversation I used it to express character:

“You got balls, doll, but I guess you’d have to, to lie to so many people for so long. It’s not going to be that easy for you, either, once your secret comes out. What got you into that mess, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Murray Jameson, from an untitled WIP

I can search through that book and find GOT maybe every three pages, and I wanted send out a warning. Words like putting, getting, put, got–those are lazy words and you can do better. If you can’t pull the word you need out of your brain while you’re in the zone, I don’t blame you and you shouldn’t let it derail you. Keep going but make a note, maybe an actual note so you don’t forget, that you’ll need to do a sweep for that word in edits.

I don’t write literary fiction, and I’m not out to be the next Margaret Atwood, but I do want my books to read clean and give the reader a chance to immerse herself into my story. I don’t want sloppy grammar to pull her out.

I got into plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

So easily remedied: I found plenty of trouble after Hannah died.

I know we all have our voices, our own styles, and if you want to use GOT go ahead. There is a time and place for it, and I know that. But too much of a good thing can be bad.

And that is my craft post for the month.

“Got” a pet peeve that you’ve discovered in books? Let me know!