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.  ❤

 

 

 

 

New Story – “Geeks, Nerds, and Cuddles”

“Geeks, Nerds, and Cuddles” is the story I’ve been struggling with since December!  Not only is it a relief to have it finished and feel good about the way it turned out, I am eager to share it with you.

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Summary:

Plagued by social anxiety, Paul Conway is content with the online relationship he’s built with fellow nerd, Isaac Morrison. Isaac is determined to move their relationship off the screen and into real life but Paul’s fears stand in the way. The very thing that causes him anxiety in the first place might help him overcome it in the long run if he’s brave enough to face his fears.

Excerpt:

My online relationship with Isaac had made me feel like a normal guy, but meeting in person threatened that. I had social anxiety to the point where I’d been known to have panic attacks in public. It was humiliating but something I was used to. Granted, I was nowhere near as bad as I’d been in high school; I’d gotten a pretty good handle on my anxiety over the years, but it was still bad enough. Bad enough that I rarely went anywhere but work and the few places I felt comfortable. Bad enough that if I didn’t get myself under control I would flip out when I walked into the café where we agreed to meet. Bad enough that I was petrified I couldn’t go through with meeting Isaac at all.

Isaac asking to meet in person made me terrified I would lose the one person I cared about as more than a friend. I put him off for months, making excuses about why it wasn’t the right time, or why we should wait just a little bit longer, but this week, Isaac finally sent me a message begging to meet, and I’d been replaying it in my head ever since. His message was more or less an ultimatum. I couldn’t blame him; he wanted a full, real-life relationship, and while so did I, the fear that I’d disappoint him so much he’d never want to speak to me again was strong. I knew if I didn’t go through with meeting him, I risked losing Isaac completely. Isaac was a chance for me to move past my fears and live the kind of life I’d always dreamed of, but the more I yearned for it, the more my anxiety grew. I had promised him I’d be there but nearly every fiber of my being was desperate to turn around and head right back home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to meet him, I just didn’t know if I could.

I dearly love Paul and Isaac and I think you will too.  Right now it’s available on several sites and the rest will go up in the near future.

All Romance

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

Getting It Right

I’ve been working on a short story since December.   I wrote about 3/4 of it before I realized it just wasn’t clicking.  It didn’t feel right.  So I re-wrote it, changing it from 3rd person to 1st.  That helped and I was able to finish the story, but something still didn’t feel right.

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I set it aside for weeks, tweaked it again, and then sent it to one of my pre-readers.  She gave me some good feedback and I tweaked it, but I hesitated before I sent it for a final edit.  I just wasn’t happy with it.  So I sent it to someone else who read through it and gave me even more feedback.  I made some changes, sent it back to her, made more changes and then it finally clicked.

The characters and the conflict hadn’t been fleshed out enough and it wasn’t until I fixed those issues that I finally felt comfortable sending it out for a final edit.  I never want to put out work that’s sub-par, but sometimes it’s important to step away before you edit it to death.  It’s difficult to know what a story needs; when to keep going and when to stop editing.  As a writer, I have to rely on the people I trust to give me feedback.   And I’m learning to trust my own instincts.  

So keep your eyes out, there will be a new short story coming to you in the near future and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty darn good.

New Book – “Not So Suddenly” (Happy Birthday, Shell!)

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I have a third book available for sale!

Amazon: Not So Suddenly

Smashwords: Not So Suddenly

Nook: Not So Suddenly

Blurb: When Spencer Abrams surprises Austin Mead with tickets to Antigua, he’s hoping a romantic trip will finally give him the courage to confess his feelings for his best friend. Austin thinks he’s just there to help Spencer get over a breakup with his ex. If Spencer finally tells Austin how he’s feeling, will Austin be willing to take the leap from friendship to love?

Exerpt: When Austin didn’t come out, Spencer went for a long, lonely walk on the beach, and now he was in the plunge pool just outside the cottage, wondering where the plan to seduce his best friend had gone so awry. He leaned his head back against the edge of the pool and closed his eyes. So, maybe it was a little weird that he’d dragged Austin all the way to Antigua to tell him he had feelings for him, and maybe he should have thought through giving him so much wine with dinner, but this was not how he’d seen this night going.

He didn’t really know when he’d fallen for Austin, exactly. He’d been dating Amber for a while, he knew that. She was the hottest girl he’d ever been with and then suddenly he just wasn’t that into her anymore. She seemed to be getting on his nerves more and more, and one night he finally realized that he’d rather be spending time with Austin. He’d rather be kissing Austin than Amber.

Then he started dreaming about his friend. Vivid, explicit dreams that left him aching. Knowing Austin was gay didn’t exactly discourage his interest either. But every time he tried to tell Austin how he felt, he froze. He hadn’t really gotten around to dumping Amber either, and by the time she dumped him for the prick from the shoe store, he really didn’t give a fuck about it at all. But Austin was extra sweet when he thought Spencer was depressed, and he kind of liked the additional attention. He really had originally planned to take Amber to the Caribbean; he’d bought the tickets months and months before, but the idea of taking Austin instead was way more appealing.

And now, his very hot, and apparently very drunk, friend was passed out on the King-size bed and Spencer was alone in the seaside pool feeling like an idiot.

Normally I write a very short story as a birthday gift.  For Shell’s birthday, I went a little overboard.  I ran across this photo and fell in love with it. I knew it would make the perfect story for Shell. 

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The problem is, the story got a little out of control and She’ll birthday came and I was still writing.  Austin and Spence just wouldn’t stop talking.  At almost 9,000 words it was well above the usual 3-5k stories I write.  I told Shell it was going to be a little late and she was very sweet about it.  When I asked how she’d feel if I published the whole thing instead of posting a very short snippet here, she was all for it.  So with Shell’s blessing, I published “Not So Suddenly.”   Of course, I sent her a free copy, because the birthday girl more than deserves it!  Shell’s been a sweet friend who has given me a lot of support and I really hope she loves Spence and Austin as I do.  I hope you do too.

Self Publishing – New Story – “Love in the Produce Aisle”

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I’ve never had a particular urge to self-publish.  The prospect of doing the research and starting was rather daunting and it seemed like my time might better be spent writing.  But in November I got together to celebrate Thanksgiving with some friends.  Someone I’d known from high school was there, having moved back to the state after living across the country.  It turns out he’s a writer too and has been self-publishing for a while.  When he offered to walk me through it, my first instinct was to say “no way” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to give it a shot.

Although my goal is still to write and submit novels to publishers, I have a lot of short stories hanging around on my hard drive and often have little plot ideas pop into my head.  They aren’t necessarily something I want to turn into a full length story but they make great little shorts.  If I’m feeling stuck on a section of my novel, I can play around with something else for a while.  I’ve found that it helps me avoid writer’s block and keeps ideas flowing.

As I considered the idea more, I realized it was something worth trying.  If I could make even a little bit of money selling the short stories, that would help me toward my goal of being a full-time writer.  At the moment, I feel like I’m working two full time jobs, the one that pays the bills and writing–the one I really love.

So I got a short story and cover ready and my friend came over last night to walk me through the process.  While I wouldn’t call it easy exactly, it’s less difficult than I expected.  Still, he probably saved me a thousand hours by going through it step by step.  My husband and I took him out to dinner as a thank you.

Although I submitted it to six different sites, some will take longer than others to publish, so for now, here are the links to it on Amazon and Smashwords, and I’ll add the links to the other as soon as they are available.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H9WJ01M

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/387592