Six Year Publishing Anniversary

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As of today, I’ve been published for six years! I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown and I am so grateful for everyone who has helped support me along the way.

To celebrate, I’m giving away six ebooks in my Facebook fan group! If you want to enter, go to Brigham’s Book Nerds on Facebook and comment on the giveaway post!
Thank you for all of your love and support! I couldn’t do this without you!

The What Ifs


Tomorrow is the big release for Equals, the novella I told you about a month ago.  It took longer to finish than I expected.  The feedback I get from my talented team of pre-readers is something I take very seriously.  When they told me they felt like things were missing, I listened.  When they told me tweaks needed to be made, I agreed.  I took their feedback, read through the story again, and made the changes.  Not every single last one–there are always a few suggestions that I know just don’t feel right for the characters–but I thought them all over thoroughly.  And they were right.  Before, I felt like the story was good.  Now, I feel like it’s great.  Well, at least I did.

In the last few weeks as I put on the final touches, polished the document with my editor, and prepared the book for publishing, my confidence began to waver.  When I thought about the July 11 release date, my stomach knotted.  Had I done everything I could to make it a great story? What if I should have fleshed out this scene more? Cut that one?  What if the character motivation wasn’t strong enough? What if it bored the reader to tears?

The questions multiplied. What if it was just regurgitating the same old story? What if I got it all wrong?  What if everyone finds out I don’t have a clue what I’m doing?

Why the hell am I doing this writing thing anyway?

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Self doubt is horrible.  It’s painful and crippling and as the release creeps closer the worse it gets.  In the past, I knew there was a limited audience for short stories.  My releases were small.  I knew the bulk of my readers were friends, people I already know.  There’s more pressure with a novella.  And I’ve set up a blog tour to promote the story and bring in new readers.  I had a blast preparing for it and I think you’ll love the excerpts and interviews.  But it somehow makes this much more “real”.  Cue the anxiety.

The book is done, the advance review copies are in the hands of the bloggers, and there’s nothing to do but wait.  Tomorrow everything starts rolling and all I can do is hang on. I’ll be posting links to the blog tour and of course I’ll have links to where you can buy the book.  I hope you’ll give the book a chance and that you’ll visit the blogs on the tour. What will I be doing? Well, I’ll be swimming through the what ifs and doing my best to make it through to the other side.

How To Support An Author

Let me be very blunt; I’m going to talk about sales and money.  Some authors do, some don’t.

May was my best month so far.  I sold 223 copies of my short stories, as of this morning.  I have the rest of the day today and tomorrow still, but it probably won’t be more than another 10-15 sales.  Depending on which site the sales are from, I make anywhere from about $2.21 on Smashwords to $1.50 per book on iTunes for a short story listed at $2.99.  Averaging it out between the sites, it’s roughly $2/sale.   $446 a month.  And that doesn’t include what I have to withhold for taxes or pay for stock photos to make cover art.  I make my own book covers and  I’m lucky enough to have incredible betas and a stellar editor who work for free.  Or for a copy of the story/my eternal gratitude.

So, when I say that every sale counts, I mean that.  Every sale matters to an author.  Every review, every tweet, share, like, and recommendation.  And every one of those things has a cumulative effect.  Take a look at May.

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Whenever I release a new short story there’s a spike in sales.  For example, I sold 34 copies of my stories on May 19, after “Sunburns and Sunsets” was released.  The chart above is my sales from Amazon and doesn’t include the other sites.   Sales tapered off slowly over the next few weeks while I continued to pin inspiration pics, blog about it, Tweet, post on Facebook, etc.  And then it settled down to maybe 2-3/day.  For May, I’ll probably average just over 7 sales/day.  That’s nearly double what I sold in April, but equal to what I sold in March.  According to other authors I spoke to, April tends to be a slow month.

I’ve been tracking sales since February, trying to put together the pieces of what makes the biggest difference in sales.  This is what I’ve found applies to me.  It may not be the same for other authors, but I guarantee, it won’t hurt.

So what can you do to help your favorite authors?

Review

Hands down, reviews make some of the biggest differences in sales.  Review on the site where you bought the story, review on Goodreads.  Review on both if you can.  Review on your blog or your FB page or in FB groups.  Every single review counts.

Even if you feel like you’re saying the exact thing someone else did, that’s fine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s two lines or twenty, it helps.  It doesn’t matter if it’s stilted and awkward sounding or clumsy.  It’s another person chiming in to say how they felt about it.

If I had to choose between all of the places a reader could leave feedback, I’d probably pick Amazon.   More than half my sales come from there and while they aren’t the highest royalty (about $2.09) they are number two and every review translates into more sales.  The more sales, the higher the story is ranked, the more exposure it gets, and the more people are likely to buy it.

If you can do more than one site, you’re a rock star and I’ll probably love you forever.

Word of Mouth

Spread the word!  Every new release from me is posted on FB, tweeted about, blogged about, etc.   Share those.  Whether it’s a re-tweet or a share on FB, it counts.  It’s one more chance for someone to see the story and think, “Hmm, that sounds interesting, I should buy it!”  If you love a story, tell people about it.  If you’re excited about it, they will be too.

Comment on the author’s blog, share their posts, engage with the author.  Sometimes it feels like we’re writing in a vacuum and a quick message from someone can make a huge difference.  Knowing readers are out there and enjoying what I do is an incredible boost and makes the words flow faster.

Understand Royalties

I’ll be honest, I had no idea whatsoever that there was such a huge difference in what an author is paid depending on where you buy your books.  If they’re going through a publishing company, they’ll earn more if you buy directly through the site than on Amazon (although, there’s a flip side and the more sales on Amazon, the better the exposure and the more books are sold).  It’s complicated.

For self-published authors, there’s a huge range in royalty rates.  For my $2.99 short stories, this is how it breaks down.

Smashwords – $2.21

Amazon – $2.09

Kobo – $2.09

Barnes & Noble – $1.94

All Romance – $1.79

iTunes – $1.50

Obviously, I’m just thrilled if you buy one of my books, wherever you buy from.  I appreciate the support and interest in my work.  I would imagine most authors feel the same way.  That being said, I know a lot of people had no idea that there was such a huge difference.  If you’re so inclined, buy from places like the publisher’s site and Smashwords.  But if it’s easier to One-Click on Amazon and it means you’ll buy more, by all means, go there.  Just keep buying books!

Pay for What You Read

This may seem silly, but pay for the books you read.  I just recently discovered that my books are available on a pirating site.  If I found out about one, that probably means they’re on a dozen more.  I have to wonder how many sales I’ve lost because of this.

Loan judiciously.  I’m not against the idea of you loaning a book of mine to a friend.  Occasionally.  I can only speak for myself– many authors feel differently–loaning a copy of an eBook to a friend every now and again is no different than loaning a hard copy.  I’ll be honest, I’ve loaned eBooks before and had them loaned to me.  But often, after reading that story I’ve  gone on to buy every single other book in that author’s catalog.  Plus the one that was originally loaned.   A single, judicious loan led to many, many sales.  It can be done fairly.  But it can also get out of control, so be mindful.  Realize that it directly impacts an author’s life.

Don’t return books on Amazon.  I know many authors who are livid about Amazon’s return policy.  I’m learning to suck it up and deal with it, but it rankles.  On average, I lose 10% of my sales from people returning books.  I suspect most of them don’t have cats who accidentally One-Click on my book or anything else of the sort.   Probably, the vast majority are people who read the book and then “return” it because they don’t want to pay.  For an author like me, that can add up to hundreds of dollars a year in lost sales.  For bigger authors, even more, although most I’ve talked to say it hovers in the 10% range for them as well.

Don’t Feel Guilty

If you’re as busy as I am (or busier) doing all of these things can be time-consuming.  Believe me, I understand.  Compared to the number of books I read, I am only able to review a limited number.  I share the ones that excite me.  We all have busy lives and just finding time to read those books is a challenge.  So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t write an in-depth eloquent review for every story you read.  I am a writer and I feel like I write the lamest reviews ever.  So, do what you can.  If you have the time to review, do it, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.  Like and tweet and reblog when you’re able and know that every single thing you do is appreciated.

Like

This is the easiest one of all.  Go to my Amazon Author Page and click the Like button (on the upper right side of the page).  It will only take a few moments and will help boost my author ranking.  Can’t hurt, right?

Oh, and on that same page you can sign up for an email alert notifying you when an author has a new book available.  How handy is that?

 

Finally, please, please know how much I deeply appreciate those of you who have gone out of your way to do all of these things.  There is no way I’d be able to do this without you.  ❤

 

 

 

 

A Racing Heart

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On Sunday night as I dragged my tired butt to bed after many, many hours of cleaning and home renovations, I grabbed my tablet. I set my alarm, crawled into bed, and planned to read for a few minutes. As I went to open my Kindle app I saw a notification that I had an unread email from the editor I had submitted my short story to. With a racing heart I read it, and then re-read it. Once I realized what it said I handed my tablet over for my husband to read. I lay there for a moment, my heart beating frantically as my toes went numb. Don’t ask–the numb toe thing is weird, but I’ve had it happen before.

My husband asked if I was excited and I said, “I don’t know.” I could hardly wrap my brain around what was happening yet. For several years I’ve talked about the idea of wanting to try to publish something, and he’s encouraged me the whole time. I just wasn’t ready. He knew I had to reach that point on my own, and when I finally said the big, scary words, “I want to be a writer,” he was there to tell me that he believed in me. That I could do it.

Almost immediately after my husband finished congratulating me, I messaged a couple of very close friends, people who have held my hand through this process. The ones who read through the story many, many times and helped me tweak it. The ones who never had a doubt that this would happen for me. It turns out, they were right.

As we talked, it slowly began to register that this was really happening. It was completely surreal to realize that a publishing company wanted my story. As confident as I am in my writing, and as hopeful as I was when I submitted it, I never expected it to get picked. There are so many talented writers out there that the odds seemed incredibly small. I assumed I’d have to send in story after story before something got accepted. It wasn’t being pessimistic, but practical. I’d set a goal for myself that I wanted to have something published by the time I was 35. I’ll just be a few months over 32 when this short story comes out.

I hardly slept Sunday night and I’m not sure it’s completely sunk in yet. I spent Monday practically shaking with excitement, my mind whirling. Frankly, I think it was amazing I was coherent enough to function. It’s all still a little dream-like, and I’m not sure it’ll really feel real until I’m holding the book in my hands and can see the words I’ve written in print.

I may be a writer, but I’ve been struggling to find the words to write this post. It’s so big for me, such a huge moment and I really don’t know how to explain it. I guess all I really can say is how thrilled I am, and how eager I am to start this process. I also want to say thank you to all of the people who have helped me get to this point. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I began writing, it’s that I can’t do it alone. Without the people pre-reading and editing my work, the people holding my hand once I put it out there, and the readers, especially the ones who give me feedback, my writing wouldn’t be anywhere near as good. And the process wouldn’t be half as much fun.

 

Nerves

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In what ranks up there as one of the more terrifying moments of my life, I sent my first piece of original fiction off to a publisher today.  Somehow, that’s even more surreal to see typed out and as I keep telling my poor friend—who is no doubt very tired of hearing me say this—I feel like I might throw up. 

It’s a short story for an anthology that the publishing company is putting together and the moment I saw the theme, I knew this was the perfect story to submit for it.   It’s a strong story, I had a number of wonderful people proof it for grammar and content, and it’s something I feel very proud of.

I’ve been writing for a little over four years now.  I’ve done well in several contests, gotten great feedback from people whose opinion I value highly, and yet, pushing send on that email and taking the first big step into the publishing world is utterly terrifying. 

The other side of that is how amazing it feels to have sent it.  Taking that first huge step is something I never thought I’d do.  For so many years I struggled to write, to get more than a dozen pages out, but something happened four years ago and it finally clicked for me.  I’ve spent that time since then writing almost every single day.  Not always a lot, or anything that I’d want to publish, but I’ve done it anyway. 

I am not always the kind of person who goes after what I want.  Unless it’s something that really matters, deep down, I tend to hang back and wait for things to come to me.  So taking this step is huge.  I remember the feeling I had when I met my husband.  All I could think was “I like him so much, but I’m not ready for this.”  It was an exhilarating mix of terror and excitement. 

Nine years after we met, and three years—in October—after we got married, I know that taking a chance on a relationship with him was the best decision I ever made.   This feels exactly the same way.

So, terrifying or not, I’m really glad I took this step.  Now all I can do is cross my fingers, hope, and wait until I hear back.  Oh, and try not to throw up in the meantime.