Sales vs. Borrows: What they mean for your business and other rambling thoughts.

Happy Monday from cold, chilly, and snowy Minnesota!! It’s not so happy for me since I had a hell of a week last week, and not in a good way. Unfortunately, I had a huge personal setback, and in the coming months I’ll be working a lot more hours at my day job. I don’t know what that’s going to mean for my writing. I type for the deaf and hearing impaired, and going from part-time to full-time may slow down my writing some. Not because I won’t have as much time, though that will be a factor, but I just can’t type that much without my arms and hands paying the price. Luckily, I’m in the editing phase of my books, but when it comes to future projects, they won’t be done as quickly.

girl looking over cliff  text: trying to figure out your path feels like a dead end at times.

That’s okay because I’m still trying to find my way in this business, and I’m wondering if I’m really going to make it or if I have the energy to even keep trying. Everyone knows that a book a year is too slow for indie publishing (unless you’re the exception that proves the rule like Jami Albright), and I’ve seen time and again those authors who are able to only release one book a year struggle to find success. On the other hand, for the past three years I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and all that has gotten me is a big case of burnout. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed writing this series, and I can’t wait to publish them. But I’ve never made it a secret that I hate all the stupid crap authors have to do to find readers–newsletters, giveaways, author promotions, things like that, that take time to learn and author promotions are only as good as the authors and their books. It doesn’t help your career at all to join with an author who isn’t writing quality books. And because I haven’t declared a niche, it’s difficult to partner with authors who write what I do. I’m a loner in life, and I guess I’m a loner in this business, too.

Maybe, in a small way, it will be a relief to give myself permission to slow down. I could start reading again without guilt. I could watch Netflix without feeling like I should be writing. I’ve always scoffed at people who have hobbies other than spending all their time writing, like baking. I always thought if you weren’t putting in 20 hours a week writing that you weren’t taking it seriously, and I admit, I had a lot of scorn for people who let their personal problems get in the way of their writing schedules. I mean, I wrote books through a divorce, through carpal tunnel surgery, through my precious cat’s bladder surgery, through my son’s surgery on his back in February of this year. (And he’s still healing.) None of that stopped me. I love to write, didn’t let anything get in the way of the career I was trying to build. I won’t say it’s for nothing, because I have a decent backlist and it didn’t take me long to write and publish them. But if you factor in ad spend, I only earn pennies a day, and I’m at the point where I’m wondering if it’s really worth it. Publishing is like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play, but cutting down my word count to a few thousand a week sounds pretty good right about now. Yeah, I’m writing this crying my eyes out. You don’t have to tell me I need to find balance, but in a world where there are 8,000 titles published every month, it’s a bit difficult to find anything meaningful in what I’ve chosen to do with my free time. Maybe the next book I write will go on wattpad. More people will likely read it if it’s free.


Anyway, I should start a weekly “Crazy Crap I read in a FB Writing Group” segment to the blog. To make matters worse, I just joined another group, this one is called Publishing with IngramSpark, and I already hate all the stupid questions they ask that they could find the answers to if they took a minute to Google instead of asking someone to waste their time. That’s not what I wanted to bitch about however.

[Insert grin here.]

Last week there was a woman who posted that she took her book out of KU ten days after enrolling in KDP Select. Everyone told her that wasn’t enough time to make a decision like that, and I told her that a wide audience and a KU audience were different and you need time to cultivate both of them. Hopping back and forth isn’t the answer. She said her reason for going back to wide is she preferred having sales over KU borrows. Now, she wasn’t getting any borrows–if you’re not doing ads KU subscribers aren’t going to know your book even exists. So her sales dried up and weren’t replaced with KU reads. That’s common switching from wide to KU.

But it made me wonder: would you prefer a sale or a borrow? A sale gives you the royalty and the sales rank boost, a borrow will only boost your sales rank–you don’t get paid unless the customer starts reading, and even then you may only get partial royalties if they don’t finish. That’s information Amazon doesn’t share with us. It would be nice to know if out of 330 pages read, if that was one person who enjoyed the book, or several people who borrowed and couldn’t get past the first chapter then returned it unfinished.

An author who may not be confident in their book may not like being in KU. Is it safe to say only the “really good” books thrive in KU? The ones that are well-written and have a fantastic story that make the reader read until the very end? You can only reap the benefits of KU if your book is good enough for a reader to make it to the end. And forget it if you’ve written a series without a strong first book. No one will read the others, and the books will sit in KU without reads or sales. I looked up her books, and she had one book, and one on preorder. She’s searching for the brass ring, but she’s not going to find it with so few books and jumping around from platform to platform. I wish her all the best.


Being that this will be my last blog post of the month, and that November is one of the craziest months of the year for me (my daughter has a birthday, Thanksgiving, and my birthday not to mention any Christmas shopping I want to do happens in November because I refuse to go into a store in December) my blog posts for the rest of the year may be a little spotty. I’ll share my stats now, and then maybe do a year-end recap toward the end of December. And no, I’m not doing NaNo this year. I never do it. I’m never in a good place in my publishing schedule to do it, and I won’t set anything aside to work on something new. This is probably the only time my tunnel vision has helped me. I don’t like working on multiple projects–I won’t get anything done that way.

Anyway, so my ad spend, while not as fabulous as it was in August (still waiting for those royalties to dump into my account) I spent $48.36 as of this writing, the 25th of October. I’ll probably spend $50.00 maybe a little more, by the end of the month. This is over ten ads. I had to stop the ads for Wherever He Goes. I lost eight dollars before I paused them. I don’t know what’s wrong with that book, but I’m never going to make it move. Maybe it’s still the cover, maybe I can’t make the blurb work, but I’m tired of trying. I love the story, but it’s not going anywhere.

For sales, I’ve made $116.99. I’ll probably make it up to $120, maybe $125 by the end of the month.

After ad spend I’ll make about $75.00 in royalties. It’s not terrible, and my next books won’t be in third person past, so it is what it is. That goes back to the burnout thing and wondering where my writing career is going. Success is a great motivator, and if you don’t have any, it’s tough to keep going.


If you’re wondering how I’m doing without Twitter, I’m doing pretty great, actually. I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I’ve only popped on once to follow back and someone messaged me to ask for support during a virtual author interview over on FB. If I tweet anything new, I can do it from the platform I’m on, like the WordPress reader or the Bookbub blog, and that helps too. Maybe I’ll go back, maybe I won’t. For right now I don’t see the value in it. Hopefully, that will change.

Have a wonderful finish to October, and don’t forget to vote! Do it for my birthday (November 28th)–that would be the best birthday present a girl could ask for.

Until next time!

Writer Burnout. Three surprising causes.

We talk a lot about burnout, and in these times, it’s even a more important topic. We need to take care of ourselves because this is our passion, our calling, our gift to be able to give our stories to the world, and we don’t ever want to have to stop.

I listened to a podcast episode of The Six-Figure Authors, and they talked about burnout. We all know what it is, but what causes it? I’ve written about it before, but I never thought to look at the reasons why a writer would have burnout besides the simple explanation of working too hard. Jo Lallo, Lindsay Buroker, and Andrea Pearson gave a few of their reasons why burn out occurs and it gives me a new perspective, and also, new ways to combat it.


One of Jo’s reasons for burnout is not seeing results. I didn’t realize how much I related to this until he said it. I jumped headfirst into the publishing industry, and sometimes I feel like I jumped into the wrong end of the pool. Instead of an easy dive into the water, my head met concrete and I’m flailing. This isn’t uncommon for a lot of first-time authors. They think they’re going to make a huge splash with their first book, or they put out a series to the sound of crickets. So they do it again, and again and again all to achieve the same meagre results. I feel that way, especially when I know I can’t sell books unless I buy ads, and then I only sell in books what I spend in ads. If you don’t see some kind of progress, that can create burnout.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is also the definition of insanity. We all think writers have to be a little bit insane to take on a career like this, but I don’t think that’s what we have in mind when we call ourselves crazy.

What can you do?

I have to remind myself that this is a long game. A very long game. I mean so long I want to do this for the rest of my life. Success may not have found me yet, but one day it will. Reward yourself for small accomplishments. I’m always on to the next book and I don’t give myself credit for finished projects. I published 300,000 words this year and didn’t do anything special. When book four released, I was already knee-deep in the next book. That’s an awesome mindset, but also consider that writing and publishing a book is no small feat. You should celebrate it – even if it doesn’t sell.

Also realize that things can change and a promo that worked really well last year may not get you the same results now. Indies need to be flexible. We need to try new things. Frustratingly, this may result in losing a bit of money. No one wants to do that, but when you run a business it’s always a risk.

Take a break and assess why you aren’t making any headway. Is the genre you chose to write in not having a moment and therefore there’re no readers? Maybe your covers are off. Maybe you skimped on editing and reviews show that. Maybe you need reviews, period. Running on a hamster wheel won’t encourage you to keep writing. Jump off and try a new path.


Andrea mentioned her health. You can burn out quickly if you don’t feel good. Maybe you don’t want to take a nap because in two hours you can write 2000 or 3000 words. But remember, if you’re exhausted, if you can’t think straight, how good are those words going to be?

Even though you can’t see it by looking at someone, a lot of people have chronic pain they’re dealing with. Back pain, carpal tunnel. Auto-immune disorders and fibromyalgia. Some have depression, some have so much stress in their personal lives it manifests physically.

What you can do?

Keeping up your health is important. A lot of people are high risk if they catch Covid. A lot of us are sedentary — sitting at our desks 10 hours a day, and it might be even fair to say a lot of us could stand to lose a couple pounds. Burnout can happen if you’re writing when you aren’t feeling well enough to write. Take care of yourself. Eat well, go for walks, stretch your arms to prevent carpal tunnel. Meditate. Your writing will sound better if you feel better.

If you have a chronic illness, know your boundaries. Andrea says she needs lots of sleep, and we know that’s always easier said than done, especially if we have children or pets to take care of. She has to work out to keep her weight at a manageable level to help a condition she has from getting out of control, and we know even if you don’t have a health issue that exercise can help; it’s good for you regardless.

Use adaptive equipment. I use voice-to-text a lot more than I have in the past. Stand while you type instead of sitting if you can. Take frequent breaks and drink lots of water. We don’t talk a lot about ergonomics, but if you have a bad back or neck pain, sitting properly can make a difference between getting those words down, or having to stop. I know as a woman without a room of her own in which to write, it’s a constant struggle to find a comfortable way to type every day.

I’ve mentioned Aidy Award a few times in my blog posts. She’s a successful romance writer, and she posts in the romance group I’m in. Recently she shared a video of carpal tunnel stretches that have helped me. Since I’ve had surgery on my left arm, I may not ever feel 100% because I’m of the mind that getting cut open can do more harm than good. So far while it hasn’t taken all of my pain away, I feel better now than before but not perfect. But I do these stretches every day, and maybe you can make them part of your routine too. They help!


Lindsay brought up one reason for burnout that I never thought of before — doing parts of the writing business you don’t want to do. Not everyone can afford a virtual assistant and we’re stuck doing things we don’t want to do. Writing a blurb, formatting books, running promos, setting up ads. It’s drudge work and nothing turns an offer author off faster than knowing you have back matter to change. It’s a bore checking and answering email or keeping up with social media when you’re just not feeling it.

What can you do?

Take a day and get it all done. Lindsay call these admin days. Know you aren’t going to write. Make a list, make a cup of coffee, turn on some music and just get it done. We love to procrastinate and bury our heads in the sand, but that won’t get that blurb written or a Facebook ad set up. Sometimes you have to set aside a couple of hours to go through stock photos, because not every indie can afford to hire out for covers, or if you can, you want to give your designer an idea of what you like.

I haven’t updated my website in a while, and I haven’t added my new books to my Books page. I have over 600 emails sitting in my inbox. It’s such a drag. But reward yourself when you’re done. Dig into that new book. Order your dinner in. Take a bath. Go for a walk.

Having to do admin work over and over again comes with the territory, but there will always be days when there is more to do than others, like a book launch. Sometimes when I blog I’ll do two or three at a time and that will free up my week. Scheduling tools can be a big help, and when I go heavy with Twitter, I use Hootsuite. Sometimes you do have to pick and choose where you want to put your energy and just add what you’re putting off to the next to-do list.


Listening to the podcast was eye-opening and interesting. When we think of burnout we automatically think we’re working too hard, but that’s not always the case. Being able to pinpoint what’s going on can help us take care of the issue, or go about it in a different way. Try a promo site you haven’t tried before or kill your ads and cleanse your palate. Find new keywords and try again.

There are aspects to being an indie writer we just are not going to like. Recognizing the cause of burnout is one step in the right direction.

What causes your burnout? Let me know!

If you want to watch the podcast for other ideas and tips to keep burnout at bay, you can watch it here. Thanks for checking in!