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!

Playing catchup and bending under pressure: a lesson in what not to do.

Hello, November!

Hello, everyone. Sorry I have been MIA. I think I did post last week, but I try to hit Mondays and this week was a fail. What have I been up to? Glad you asked!


Yesterday my proofer gave me back book one of series. He liked the story overall, and found some typos. I found some more running it through Grammarly, and I think it’s going to be as perfect as humans can make it. So, that’s book one down.

a rocky point wedding social media graphicWill I be able to start publishing near Thanksgiving like I hoped? Nope. I’ve decided I want him to read through all four and make sure they are consistent with details and plots. Waiting will make my life a lot easier if he finds anything. I could go ahead and start publishing because I’m hoping I would know if I left behind any giant plot holes, but I am not 100% confident in my abilities. I admire the authors who can publish books one by one in a series. I prefer to not chance it, but I should be able to start publishing before the end of the year, so I’m not that far off the mark. Editing always takes more time than I think.

Also, yesterday, I woke up in a lot of pain. My left shoulder blade and arm were hurting pretty badly. This could have been from all the typing I did on Monday since I transcribed the last of my SUPER SECRET PROJECT, and the final word count before editing came in at 80,500 words. Monday I transcribed to the tune of 6,000 words and that may have just been a little much.

But you know, I probably just slept funny. All those “after 40” memes are pretty accurate. Someone can look at me wrong, and my back will hurt the next day. Because aches and pains are going to be part of life from here on out, I try not to take too many pain meds and save them for the worst days. Yesterday was one of those days, and I took some before bed too, which gave me a decent night’s sleep. Except for the cats, of course.

I feel like my life is a box of clichΓ©s.


Anyway, this segues into something I’ve been thinking about.

We’re all under a lot of pressure. It’s something we don’t like to talk about. The pressure to create content, the pressure to publish. Especially in romance, the genre I write in. I haven’t published anything since May of this year, and that gap in a publishing schedule is practically unheard of (by authors who are making money). Never mind that in total this year, so far I have written four full-length novels and half of one that I started in December 2018.

We see authors cranking out content and we want to do that too. Sometimes we try. Sometimes we can, most times we can’t. This is a secret that I learned, and not that long ago.

You have no idea what is going on behind an author’s name. Or, more precisely, a pen name. You think, one name, one person. And a lot of time, I can’t say how many times because authors keep this secret pretty close, a prolific author name has two, three, or more writers behind it. It’s how they can crank out material so fast. We’re over here killing ourselves trying to keep up, and oh, look, a couple of top ten romance authors have two people writing the books.

I’m definitely not saying this is bad. If you can find someone who matches your style and you get along, hell yeah, collaborate. Why not? In fact, if you listen to any publishing prediction for any upcoming year, more collaboration is always one. Why? Because it’s smart. Why not share the work? Why not dominate in your genre if you can. Half of thousands in royalties is better than none, am I right?

But for those of us who write solo, it’s very deceptive. And it can be dangerous.

Another thing you have to watch out for if you’re comparing yourself to prolific writers is what the word count of their books is. Yes, they are writing full-length books, BUT, if you look closely, you’ll see that their catalog is peppered with novellas, novelettes, and even short stories. Lots of those are “add-ons” or “companions” to the full-length book, and it’s a fun way to give readers a little extra. But you do have to keep in mind that counting an author’s titles isn’t a fair way to compare how much time they spend writing versus how many books they have published.

I could publish two novellas a month if that how I wanted to build my backlist. For now I’d like to continue to offer my readers full-length novels of 70+ thousand words. You have to do what’s best for you and the readers you want to attract.

If you’re going to have comparisonitis, at least be smart about it.

Having passion and working hard at something doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When I used to run, I would run injured all the time. Anyone can tell you that’s bad, and it just sets you up for more injury. But whether it’s bad or not, it’s common. Runners even have memes about it:

runnign while injured

There are a lot more than this one, but it depicts how runners really feel about taking time off to relax and heal.

Writers can be the same way. I am very passionate about my SUPER SECRET PROJECT. It was fun to write, and I don’t feel like I was racing to get it done. It’s book one of a trilogy, and I probably won’t be able to release them until early next year when my series is out. Why was it so important I finish it so quickly?

zane and stella stats

 

 

Who knows, except, again, it was fun. But I could have afforded to go a bit slower, just to take better care of my health. Mental and physical.

There is pressure to publish, and to publish quickly. We scramble because it feels like other writers are gobbling up pieces of the reader pie and there won’t be any left by the time our book comes out.

The indie publishing space is drowning in books. But hurting yourself and making yourself burn out isn’t the way to make a grab for your piece.

Hello, November! (1)

I’m going to try to be more mindful of writing time. If I have twenty pages to transcribe, I have to remind myself it’s not a race to get them typed up.

Take care of yourself and don’t bow under the pressure. Especially with the holiday season coming. Sometimes you won’t have time to write, and that’s okay. Take a rest, tolerate enjoy your family, and eat a piece of pie while you watch TV. Just be mindful of what your goals are!

I’ll end with that for now. It’s early here yet, even though it’s pitch black outside. I have time to edit for a few more hours.

Just kidding!

No . . . I’m not. πŸ˜€

Have a great week everyone!


end of blog post graphic

 

 

 

Writing Burnout. Are you treating your characters like co-workers?

is writing a job

I’m tired.

Not chronically tired like some folks I know are. Be that from having a new baby, taking care of someone who needs more help on a daily basis than normal, having a chronic illness and dealing with the pain. I mean, not like that kind of tired. That’s bone-crushing physical AND mental exhaustion.

Maybe I do feel more tired than someone who doesn’t deal with carpal tunnel on a daily basis. Yes, I had surgery on my left arm, but that didn’t take away 100% of the pain in that arm, and I do have some pain in my right arm, too. I don’t know if I’ll ever have surgery on my right arm . . . the pain was never as bad as my left, and surgery on my left arm/hand did bring my pain down from almost crying every day to a low level of discomfort that can come and go depending on how much typing I do that day. (Spoiler alert: that’s usually a lot whether I’m hurting or not.) So, to me, that was almost a 100% positive change. But I can still sleep funny and bring the pain in my back that’s connected to the nerves in my elbow roaring to life, and well, all I can do is hope I sleep better the next night.

I do realize how lucky I am because some of my friends deal with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, even cancer. Some people I know are just plain tired, and their doctors can’t find a reason for it. (And I won’t go into depression. I know that’s a different kind of struggle, and one, thankfully, I don’t have.)

But there’s a different kind of tired, that may or not be tied in with how my arms feel on a daily basis.

There’s a tired I feel from writing. I write a lot because I enjoy it. I really, really do. Anyone who is a writer who puts out consistent content enjoys it. We would have to, or we’d all be crazy in a matter of months.

I treat writing like my job, or I wouldn’t get anything done, no matter how much I enjoy it. I shoot for weekly word counts, I give myself soft deadlines I usually meet just because I like the characters I’m working with, and it doesn’t bother me to treat them like the co-workers they are.

But like any job, there comes a time when you get tired. There are one too many rude customers at the retail place where you work. If you work in a call center, maybe there is just one incident too many where someone tells you to “fuck off.” Sick of office politics, mind-numbing meetings that don’t go anywhere. Overbearing bosses who won’t leave you alone to do your job. And most of the time you can’t quit your job. It pays the electricity, pays for the food on the table, pays for the roof over your head. It pays for the laptop you use for your second job, the editing, the formatting, the cover design for the other job that you hope will maybe someday replace the first.

But in all honesty, is that second job any better?

Finding a publishing team, finding a street team, a review team, finding readers. Finding a typo in a manuscript you’ve read a gazillion times. Blah.

This isn’t a blog post turned pity-party.

But it is a blog post exploring how you can keep things fresh.

  1. Get some sleep. Let’s face it. I’m tired because a lot of the time I don’t sleep well. Our apartment doesn’t have central air, so it’s too hot, it’s too cold. It’s stuffy, and I can’t breathe. It’s always something. I have three cats, so they’re no help, either. This morning at 6:45am Pumpkin woke me up gacking up a hairball. Of course I had to get up and clean it, or the next time I got out of bed I knew I would step in it. Luckily I was able to fall back asleep (today was my day off my first job) but as anyone can attest, broken sleep doesn’t feel like any sleep. I need to go to bed earlier. That almost always helps. I just have to be a grownup and remember that just because I can stay up until midnight every night doesn’t mean I should.
    Case in point: Last night I stayed up to do this cover for Millie. I like doing covers, but probably I should have gone to bed. πŸ™‚
    More than sisters. They're friends.
  2. Eat better. It’s easy to get caught up in the junk food thing us writers can have going on. A bag of chips while we type away? Sure. A fast food meal to give us more time to write when we get home from our first jobs? Yeah. And that goes for water, too. Put the wine and bourbon away and grab a big glass of water. The joints in your hands will thank you.
  3. Find your fun. Writing is work, no matter if you enjoy it. Designing book covers is fun, but you’re still using your creative side to make it look appealing. Blogging is fun too, but you’re still putting down ideas, and if you struggle with carpal tunnel, then it can become painful real quick. And pain can take an emotional toll. What else can you do for fun that doesn’t include writing and publishing in some capacity? Go to the pool with your kids? Go to a movie? I have movie night with my sister at least twice a month. Grab a bowl of ice cream and find the silliest thing on Netflix. Do this on a regular basis. Maybe not the ice cream part. Fruit. Fruit and Greek yogurt. And the movie. πŸ™‚
  4. Take a break. Probably the main reason I don’t take a real break from writing is because I seriously might not ever pick it back up again. Not writing would create a hole in my life, that’s for sure. Before I wrote all the time, I ran. (I completed a half marathon in 2015.) So what would I do for that 10-15 hours a week I didn’t write? Maybe I would go back to school. Maybe I would dump my first job and get a different first job that would require more time and energy. Maybe I would stop writing, but still edit for others. I don’t know. I DO know that I don’t have to be so hardcore all the time. What if I wrote for 5 hours a week instead of 10 or 15? What if I put out one book a year instead of three? I promised myself after this quartet is published I will take a real break. A real fiction break, anyway. I have a non-fiction editing book that I want to try my hand at writing. If I can make a good go of it, it could turn into a good writing resource for other authors, and a different stream of income for me. Or maybe I’ll beta read for someone. Maybe I won’t do anything but binge Game of Thrones from beginning to end.
  5. Find your friends. Writers are notorious for being introverts. We like spending time alone. We hate the phone. But us writers are human, and we need the human contact. We need people, even if that’s in small doses. Don’t turn down the wedding you were invited to. Call up a friend and invite her to brunch. I just got invited to a writing group meeting at the end of the month. They are romance writers in my area. I would be silly to say no. So I didn’t. Some things are hard to do, and if you think it will take more energy than you are trying to save by forcing yourself to go, then don’t. Anxiety is a real thing. But you need people around you. You can die of loneliness.
  6. Improve other areas of your life. (Meaning, if you can, get rid of the aspects of your life that make you unhappy.) I got chubby after I quit running. There’s no denying health quotemy metabolism is so low its having tea in hell with the devil. I’d feel better if I lost some weight. That would probably help with my physical tiredness. I would probably sleep better. I felt great when I was running. I heard somewhere that humans, in this day and age, have no idea how GOOD the human body is designed to feel. America is rampant with overweight people, and unfortunately, that has become me, too. Could I put running/walking into my daily schedule? Sure. Would I write less, yeah. Well . . . anytime you feel better physically, you feel better emotionally, and you do better in all aspects of your life. So maybe, maybe, I wouldn’t write less. But even if I did, I would figure better physical health would be a good trade-off, and you would, too.

The fact is, writing can burn you out if you’re not careful. And I love writing too much to let myself burn out. I take writing seriously, maybe too seriously.Burn out

Even when I’m taking a break, I’m “working.” Listening to a podcast, reading a non-fiction book. Reading a writing magazine or a lit mag. It’s crazy how totally I have immersed myself in this writing business.

I need to lighten up, because I want to be in this for a long time.

How do you keep writing fun?


Joanna Penn has a great blog post on burnout, and is the author of the Healthy Writer.

To purchase Joanna’s book, look here.


My books are no longer wide. Please bear with me as I make changes to my publishing schedule and platforms. In the meantime, by books are available on Amazon (though not yet in KU as it take time for books to be unpublished various places) and you can give my Amazon profile a follow for updates on new releases. πŸ™‚ Thank you!