Friday, December 9, 2011

WAKE UP CALL~

A few realizations have sunk in now that I have two books published and a third about to be. There is no money in this. Now, that is really not a surprise, I knew this going in. So I am making a little pocket change on the side. I am lucky, I don't need to work, I don't have to rely on this pub biz $$ to put food on the table. Unfortunately, some do. Yikes.

Don't let that discourage you from being published. It is a real kick to see your (pen) name on the cover of a book, virtual or not. There are a lot of people making a decent living at this. YAY for them! However, a few truths.

You need a deep back list. Which means you are not going to make any money off 2-3 publications. If money is your goal, start writing!


M/F romance ebooks are not big sellers overall. Erotica/alternative sells. Again, if money and getting on some ebook website bestsellers lists are your goal, you may want to consider M/M, menage, BDSM or a mixture therein.

For best selling lists and sheer sales numbers, you can't compete with free reads or 99 cent ebooks. The market is flooded. WAY flooded. I have a kindle app on my laptop and have a ton of free reads and 99 cent books and I haven't read any of them yet. I'll bet no one else has either. I've put the brakes on my 'one-click' finger.

With self-publishing, anyone can slap up a book on Amazon (for example) with cringe inducing titles like "Teacher, Lick My Pussy" or some such variation. I have nothing against it, but under the romance categories?  Also, this kind of stuff taints not only the romance genre but self-publishing as a whole. A lot of quality self-pubbed works get lost in this backwash. But hey, free speech and all that.

Someone told me recently to stop submitting to ebook publishers and publish my own writing. That I was working in a 21st century virtual sweat shop.
First off, no one is standing over my shoulder cracking a whip. I am not beholden to any one publisher. I am not on any deadline and work at my own comfortable pace. I plan to spread my submissions out all over. Also in truth, I am a lazy cow and can't be bothered with formatting, cover art, editing (God, I would have to hire someone) and all this cost money, so where am I ahead? Yes, when you self-pub you keep the lion's share of the $$, but it's not enough to even worry about at this point. It's a personal choice, and I choose to submit to pubs. Not to say someday I may slap up a free read as a promo, but it's not on my to-do list for now. Self-pubbing has worked out really well for a lot of people but it's not a good fit for me at this time.

Writers and specifically romance writers are supportive and generous. To a point. I have seen some nastiness as well. Mostly on Facebook, no surprise there. I have severely cut back my social media time because when it comes down to it, I'd rather be writing. A lot of statistics state tweeting about your book and doing promo on FB and elsewhere do NOT increase your sales. So why do it? It's to get your 'name' out there.

I just completed a book tour for my paranormal release. I paid a slight fee (the cost of a lunch at a diner) to use a PR site to set up my visits. Did it sell books? Not that I can see, but I did accomplish my goal of getting my name out there specifically to paranormal readers. Would I use a PR site again? No. It wasn't what I expected and we'll just leave it at that. Again, a personal choice but I am glad I tried it out.

Also read an eye-opening article on Huffington Post  click HERE on the fake reviews and skewed best seller lists on Amazon for example. One guy bought 173 copies of his own book to make a best seller list. Also people downgrade other authors ratings wise out of spite and jealousy, or write fake reviews slamming said book, or praise their own. *shakes head* Isn't this all fun?

So you ask, why do this at all? Because at the core, I love to write and I love to share my stories.  If I make a little $$ along the way and a few on-line friends in the bargain, all the better.


It is all personal choice, what you want to write, how you want to write it. Where you want to submit, or if you go the self-pubbed road. As long as you are doing what YOU love, what more can you ask for?
(sexy reading guy above is Josh Holloway)

Have a great week and happy writing and/or reading~

EDIT: Hubby says this post is a bit of a downer, lol! Not my intent. I am surging forward and I certainly encourage anyone who wants to be published in whatever way to pursue it to the fullest~it is rewarding.

17 comments:

  1. Insightful post, Karyn. Yes, the publishing game is pretty frightening when you really look at it. You just have to love what you do and really believe in it. And you also have to wait for a really long time.

    I follow another romance writer who self-pubs all her work. It took her about two years before she saw any money coming in from regular readers who'd buy her work. She never discusses figures, but she said this year (four years in) she made more money than her husband just with her books. This is, of course, after publishing a lot of books for many years.

    I admit I originally wondered why you were publishing with an epublishing house when things are so easy, but then I've seen everything they've done for you- from the covers to the editing to the support. I think it was a smart move, especially for romance where there is an audience and they know where to look for you.

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  2. Nina,

    Thanks! That's it exactly, it takes time, patience and more than a couple of releases. You have to build an audience and that takes commitment, diligence and hard work. Pubbed or self-pubbed, the results are the same.

    The epubs do a lot and they certainly take their cut I assure you, lol! I really gave it a lot of thought. It comes down to what I said in the post, I am lazy. Also I don't have enough confidence in my self-editing skills as yet to branch out on my own. I am getting better however, so know knows what the future will bring?
    And as you say, Romance has a core audience and they know where to look.

    Thanks so much Nina for stopping by!

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  3. "So you ask, why do this at all? Because at the core, I love to write and I love to share my stories. If I make a little $$ along the way and a few on-line friends in the bargain, all the better."

    That's exactly the reason why I write :)

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  4. There are a lot of truths in here, and it looks like you are keeping it all in perspective.

    Another reason to go with an epublisher instead of self-publishing - epublishers have steady customers who visit their online stores. It's much easier to stand out and have your book noticed by a new reader when someone who enjoys buying books from your publisher stops by their website to browse the new releases than it is to be noticed amongst the hundreds of books being self-published daily on Amazon and Smashwords. Also, I'm a firm believer in getting a professional cover and hiring an editor if one self-publishes, and not everyone can afford to outlay the money upfront - not if they don't know whether they'll make that money back. I've seen people have astonishing success self-publishing, but I've also seen others who are dejected because the sales just aren't there. So many more people are self-publishing now that I imagine it will be hard to stand out in the future.

    Anyway, the important thing is that you're happy and you're enjoying the ride. Just keep building that backlist ... it doesn't happen automatically ... and you'll find yourself in a much better position down the road.

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  5. Elyza, exactly! LOL! I didn't have to bother with the rest of the post. I think it's why we all do it to be sure~

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  6. Hi Suzanna,

    Unfortunately, very little sales comes from a publisher's website as I was surprised to learn. Most come from third party sites like Amazon, All Romance, Barnes and Noble, etc. At least for the pubs I am dealing with, can't speak for others. But having a place for a reader to browse is a good thing as you say.

    It's a crap shoot no matter which way you toss the dice to be sure. I agree about having a polished product when self-pubbing.

    For just starting out and doing M/F, I can't complain. I have done better than expected. Building the back list is a must. And outside of a few bumps here and there I am enjoying the ride. Now to see how far this ride will go! ;D

    Cheers!

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  7. Hello: Very interesting and informative post. Long ago I considered doing some self-publishing, but financially it was just not something I was capable of doing. I through the years when the internet stuff all got started up with e-publishers and even the self-publishing through Amazon started checking into it more.

    In some ways I liked the idea of how easy it was to be able to self-publish your work on places like Amazon, but then I started thinking about the process. As someone who is not artistically inclined making my own cover and all of that stuff just seemed like such a blah. Then there is no guarantee your stuff would even get read because of the volume of stuff that is self-published through places like Amazon.

    I know with me, that the first thing I notice is the cover (Title, presentation, etc). If the cover is eye-catching I am more likely to read the synopsis for the book. That is not there with Amazon unless you have the artistic capabilities to make a cover that catches the attention of all the people that visit there.

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  8. Back in the old days, a plan simple cover was the way to go. It was not like they had the internet or social media in the 1800's. Now we live in such a visual information age. People are always tweeting, texting, skyping, facebooking, myspacing, and whatever other new fandango crap has infested the world.

    You may not make tons of money, but from what I have seen the e-publishers are doing right by you. Your covers are eye-catching, and they seem as though they are giving you the support that you need for doing what you love and that is the most important thing. As someone who is also a lazy cow ^_^ I do not like to be pressured, it messes with the creative process and burns you out. Being able to write when you want too and have the support from the e-publishers in creating your cover art and everything else they do, takes a lot of pressure off of your shoulders and allows you to do what you do best, be creative. You are also not tied down to one publisher, which allows you the freedom to be able to have your stuff published at multiply places.

    You said a most interesting thing about people leaving false reviews. Reading a reviews at a company such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble is a crap shoot. You cannot be certain about the authenticity of the review which is the same as any place where comments or reviews are left. It is really easy to click anon, it is really easy to make a new account at places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, heck even facebook and leave all the nasty comments and reviews you want. Sadly, people do it.

    I used to run a writing group, years ago and there was this girl that went so far as to make several different accounts, just so she could write with certain people and each account she pretended to be someone else. Unfortunately for her, you cannot change the way you write so she got caught. So sometimes it is really easy to spot the ones that are just being butts, other times not so easy.

    Facebook is a cesspool. I hate it. Twitter is ridiculous. I hate it. These sorts of social media things, allow people to come into your life very briefly. Maybe they click the like button or maybe they leave a comment, then they are gone just as quickly. Sometimes they do not even comment at all. These things to me, have no substance.

    For me, I would rather people come to my blog. If you want to review my work, leave a comment, suggestion, do it at a place where I am going to see. Why do it someplace like Amazon, where I am never going to read it. That to me, says that those people do not care about helping the author, creator, or what not improve. They just want to be butts.

    I, a very long time ago, said I would never read comments or what not at places that I did not frequent often. Most places I am "active" at, I have comments shut off (Deviant Art, TSR, etc). People that appreciate your work, or maybe do not appreciate your work can say as much anyplace they want too and there is no guarantee you will ever see it. I think personally, it is really easy to go to the writer, artist, etc website or blog and write your thoughts about what you thought of their work. That to me, has more substance than posting a one line tweet on twitter or clicking the like button on facebook. Even if you tell me, you hate what I am creating, writing, etc. If you give me reasons why, I am more likely to consider your words if you put a lot of thought into your arguments and give examples. Does it mean I will change things? No, but there is always a chance that something someone says to me at my blog whether it is supportive, constructive, or what not will reach me.

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  9. I got long-winded, which I do a lot. ^_^ In short, I know too late. I was told once that the best way to get your name someplace is to piggy-back off of other creators, by showing support and leaving comments. Follow blogs of other romance authors. Give them support, leave comments. I think that PR wise will go much further than facebook or twitter. It will allow you to add an additional support system for you and them alike. When people leave comments at various blogs I follow, I always click their name and go check out their stuff. Lot of other people do that as well. Backlinking is a way of life on the web and can be utilized efficiently.

    I am sure there is something else I wanted to say, but honestly I cannot remember. I actually did send something into an e-publisher, but I am not putting all my eggs in a basket before they hatch, but after I submitted it (male/female romance), I wished I could go back and not submit it. This is why....

    After I submitted it I was thinking to myself, I make better male-male characters than I do female-male characters. I make better relationship dynamics between two male characters than I do female-male characters. It has always been this way for me. So after I submitted it, I thought to myself that I should have wrote it as a male-male story rather than a female-male romance story.

    Food for thought for the next one, depending on what happens with this one. This one is designed as a series, so...anyway. Thought that was interesting that you mentioned m-m stories, I really think I should have went that route. Anyway, okay shutting up now before I babble and this all become incoherent nonsense.

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  10. Aww, I don't think it's a downer. lol It's just your opinion and I think it can help people to make up their own minds sometimes.
    With the good comes the bad I guess but I think how far you've come already is very inspiring! Makes me want to do it. Maybe a little later in life though, got enough on my plate atm. ;)

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  11. Jen, Aww thanks.

    Exactly, my opinion. I just wanted to get across it is not all sunshine and roses, and to be sure of what you want to write and how to get it out there.

    Jen, we can safely say I am a bit older than you, (LOL!) Could I have done this in my 30's? No feckin' way. I am at a good point in my life where my working life is behind me and I have the time to sit and write. In fact, most of the writers I have come across are in my age group of late 40's early 50's. So definitely back burner it and let it simmer.

    Cheers~

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  12. Wow Michelle!!

    Love, love your response.

    Let me address your last point first. If deep down you are better at M/M, then you should go for it. The whole point of my post was you have to write what you love and follow the publishing path that is right for you.

    I tried my hand at a short story menage, it turned into a comedic piece. While I certainly will read menage and M/M, it seems it is not where my passions lay for writing at this time. I never rule anything out however.
    And congrats for submitting something, that is a huge step. Even if it doesn't get accepted, don't despair. My first effort wasn't accepted either but I kept moving forward.

    Another good point you made was concerning blogs. I looked at my Facebook 'friend' list and at 1640 people, most of them are other writers. So while it is great to connect with other like minded people, I'd rather be reaching out to prospective readers. Blogs is fantastic for this. I have visited a lot of blogs the last two weeks and I have had a blast. It is great to hear people say "I loved your excerpt, your book is on my TBR list, I have never heard of you before, I will be checking you out, I love new authors...etc..."

    Also bloggers love to give authors a spotlight. I intend to keep these lines of communication open. I already gave my opinion on Social media in another random thought post, it is a necessary evil, but I am putting blogs as my new first priority and for all the reasons you mentioned.

    As for the fake reviews and ratings, it happens everywhere. As the Huffington post article mentioned, rival restaurants secretly downgrade each other. Yeesh. So it is no surprise it happens in the writing biz. I had a one star rating left on Timeless Heart at Barnes and Noble by 'anonymous' with a 6 word review. "too many words, not enough story"
    I just laughed it off. Who knows what is real and what isn't? I have learned not to focus on ratings and reviews, it's all subjective anyway.

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  13. And lastly self-publishing is again a personal choice. To me it is too much work. Some people thrive on the process, not me.Like you, I am not artistic, I couldn't do my own cover, so I would have to hire someone, same with the editing. I am not there yet where I can confidently edit my own work so that it would be ready for publishing.

    Also I have to chuckle at people on Facebook who brag their story is an Amazon best seller, "I have had 500 downloads in one day'! Well yeah, you are offering it for free. My question is how people have read your story? I haven't read any of the freebies I downloaded yet. It is all skewed. However, if that what makes them happy, I can't complain or condemn them for it. Again, as I said, it is writing what you love and following your own path. Just because self-pubbing is a fit for one person doesn't mean it is a good fit for me and vice-versa about e pubs.

    AS I sit here, I am still stunned I am actually published. Doesn't matter how I got here, I'm published. A life-long dream fulfilled. And if I don't happen to sell any other manuscripts, I can derive satisfaction that I achieved my goal. And that in my mind, beats everything else in spades.

    Thanks again Michelle for your great comment~

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  14. May I add one more thing to this discussion? I have nothing against epublishing - I've submitted to an epub myself. I was rejected, but since I was pretty sure my book wasn't exactly what they were looking for, I wasn't surprised. My feelings about self-publishing are stronger than yours, and I won't discuss them in public.

    However, in this world of diminishing print books, I ask that traditional, print publishers not be summarily dismissed. We *need* desperately to keep romance books in print, the loss of physical books is very distressing to me. Yes, I have a Kindle, yes, I've downloaded books that I can still buy in physical print form. But for the most part, I still go to the store, stand in that most wonderful of aisles and gaze lovingly at all those books and covers. I buy one, take it home and actually turn the pages, not press a button.

    Honestly, it's not impossible to attract the attention of a print publisher. I *know* because I have one such editor waiting for me to send her five chapters.

    So, there, I just wanted to point out there are three choices for anyone wanting to publish. Just because epublishers are supposed to be easier (they're not, believe me), just because self-publishing cuts out the middleman, the print publishers should never be dismissed out of hand.

    Give yourself every possible opportunity to let someone else enjoy your stories that you've put so much of yourself in.

    I want to clarify, I don't believe one form of publishing is better than the other. Published is published. End of story. I just feel all should be considered viable options.

    *stepping down from my "Keep Print Books Alive!" soapbox.* :)

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  15. Hi Kim.

    Oh yeah, print publishers.

    Maybe it's my age, but I still prefer a print book in my hand. Hubs asked if I wanted an e-reader for Xmas and I said NO. Maybe for my birthday in June. How many gadgets can one have? Already have a laptop and a Ipod Touch. The majority of my reading is still print books.

    I just wish Print publishers would get with the digital age and speed up the submission process. It takes agonizing months even a year or more to get any meaningful feedback.
    I suppose they do this to discourage the dreck submissions, but really. They have to change things.
    And a lot of print publishers are not all that welcoming to untried writers, that should change as well.
    That said, I agree, print pubs should not be dismissed out of hand. But be prepared for a drawn out snail mail type process. If you have lots of patience and are focused and determined, then go for it. You just may attract the attention of an editor (like Kim did! YAY!!)

    Also, published is published is bang-on. I have had sly, snarky comments come my way about epubs, the size of the epubs I publish at, etc. Yes, having your book in print at the big 6 would be quite an achievement but to be published anywhere, in any way and receive recognition for it is a reward beyond reckoning.

    Thanks Kim for mentioning print!

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  16. You're correct, the waiting time is hellish. :) And I seriously wish some of them would get off their old school ways butts and use digital submissions - even if that submission is only a query, synopsis and three chapters. One of the things I hate is the waste of paper and ink involved in having to print the manuscript to send it in. I think it turns a lot of writers off. Mills & Boon in the UK takes digital subs yay for them.

    If I had a wish-list for how publishers should do things, embracing the digital world as far as subs are concerned would be at the top of the list. Until then, you just have to do it their way, if that's the route you want to take. :)

    And you're also correct, only some want untried writers, only some want unagented authors. Their guidelines have to followed closely. Again, I wish they'd loosen up a bit, and some have as far as going with unagented. As will all things, time will tell. :)

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  17. Not only paper and ink but the postage costs and the self addressed envelopes and other crap. It has turned me off. The one print publisher I sent to was an arduous process. Has it turned me off? Not entirely, but it may be awhile before I go that route again.
    Absolutely the guidelines must be followed. Whether it's the whims of the smaller epubs and the cliquish inner circles or the big print pubs and their myriad mass of rules and regulations, if you want to be published bad enough, you pretty much will do as they ask.
    I hope things will change. Agents though, must be crapping their collective pants. Are they even needed anymore? An Evernight author had a agent, they couldn't sell her story. Yet she managed to get a three book deal from Source books/Casablanca (print) on her own.
    I suppose if you are way up there like JR Ward, an agent is handy for all those overseas deals, etc. But starting out? I can't see it. Not in this day and age.

    Thanks~

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