Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kindle Unlimited

One of the frustrating things about being a self-published author is seeing your sales fluctuate and not knowing why. We have data that tells us how many books we've sold and when, but not data that tells us why these facts are true. That part is a guess.

This month has been the worse month of sales for me thus far. Parts of July were pretty bad, too, but not as bad as this month. In total, I have sold exactly one book this entire month. It's better than nothing, but only slightly better.

I'm not going to tell you what I usually sell, but I have a free book and people download that a lot. Pretty consistently, I've been selling about 10% of the amount of free downloads I get. But for this month, for some reason, I sold a lot less than that.

I am working on writing my novels daily and I know part of the problem is that I haven't released anything new in over a year. But part of the reason for that is because when I release my next book, I will be releasing two books at once (or at least in a relatively short period of time.)

I'm not very good at writing book series. With the Greek myth books, they are stand alones that only mildly effect one another, so I can release them as I write them, but with most books, I need to write the entire series before I release any of the books or I will write myself into plot holes.

I thought I was done writing these books about 8 months ago, but then I showed the novels to my critique partners and their advice basically equated to "rewrite both of them", so now, here I am, starting from scratch with these two novels. I also plan to go through another round of critiques before I publish and send the stories to my editor. All in all, it will take me at least a few more months before they are done.

Anyway, it might be a coincidence, but I noticed that my drop in sales occurred around the same time as Kindle Unlimited happened. I get that if it's what caused it. Who wants to buy a book that costs 1/3 of their subscription, when they can get many more books than that with their subscription!

So after weeks of thought, I have decided to take down Medusa's Desire from everywhere except for Amazon and enroll it in Kindle Unlimited. You can officially download it for "free" with kindle unlimited, in fact, as of yesterday. (Thank you Smashwords for being so quick to take my books down from all those sites! It makes me sad to do this to you because you were so cooperative!) I was selling virtually nothing at the other sites anyway.

But I did it with a heavy heart, I will admit. Part of being a self-published author is enjoying the fact that you are free and in control of what happens to your novels. So therefore, I'm going to be pretty reluctant about throwing all my eggs in one (Amazon) basket. It feels like I am giving the reins of my career over to them. Because as they showed with Kindle Unlimited, they can change everything in a short period of time.

I don't even know for sure if Kindle Unlimited caused this. I don't know how many people are using Kindle Unlimited. (I know that as a reader it sounds like a wonderful deal to me and I am thinking about using it, which is weird and gives me conflicting feelings inside.) I also don't know how many people are actually going to read ten percent of my book.

It's kind of hard on the ego, worrying about that. When I make a sale, that's all I have to worry about. Someone bought my book and even though I'd like them to read it, even if they don't, at least they gave me money for it!

Are they going to treat my book like a lot of them treat my Pandora's Mistake novel? It doesn't bother me, but I know a lot of people download Pandora's Mistake just because it's free and never read it.

But when it's my paid book and the only way I can get income, it sort of does bother me. Will people even be motivated to read it if they don't feel like they had to spend that much money on it? Will they get bored before they reach 10% and I'll never see any of the money?

On Amazon's part, I think they're being genius by doing this. I think they're going to make a lot of money with Kindle Unlimited.

But what will it do to me? Will it help to enroll at all? Will it hurt me because my book is no longer available on Barnes and Noble or Itunes?

And it makes me want to write more short stories. After all, if you write a short enough story, then pretty much they only have to turn one page and they've already read 10% of your book.

Being a self-published author is a lot about experimentation. This is my latest experiment in publishing.

I know a lot of you don't want to try this, but seeing how bad my sales were this month, I am willing to be the guinea pig.

And I hope to tell you how it's going later. (But I might not mention it again if things go bad. That's not exactly what you look forward to admitting to in a blog.) I won't have maps and charts and numbers the way some authors do, but I will have a general idea of whether or not it's helping anything.

So how do you feel about Kindle Unlimited?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When You First Started Writing Versus Now

The more you write and publish, the more you improve as an author and the more your viewpoints on things change. Here's some examples:

1. When you finish the first draft of a novel...

The First Time: "Oh my God, you guys! Let's celebrate with some champagne! I just finished writing my first novel!"

Later Times: "Oh my God, you guys! Do you want to grab a beer? I just started writing this novel and I have a headache thinking about how much work it will still need before it's finished."

2. When you think of your strengths...

At First: "I'm such a wonderful writer! People will be amazed at my vocabulary and grammar! I will be on every bestselling list as people bow down and worship me!"

After Many Query Letter Rejections And One Star Reviews: "People hate my writing, but I love their hatred! Your mean words can't hurt me because I'm used to rejection, Neener-neener-neener! I dare you to write a one star review with more curse words than that last one. It's like jumping off a cliff, it gives me an adrenaline rush!"

3. When you get critiques back...

The First Time: "Everything is marked in red! Does this mean I'm terrible at writing?"

Later Times: "Wait, what? There's a whole page of my novel with no critiques on it?! You have to rip my story to shreds or I'll look terrible in front of my readers."

4. When you start selling books...

The First Time: "I am going to make thousands of dollars a month!"

Later Times: "Yes! I made $20 this month! That's a dollar better than last month!"

5. When you talk about your muse...

The First Time: "I sit down and try to write, but my muse doesn't come to me. I have to be in the right mood. She's so fickle."

Later Times: "The muse is my bitch! I hold a gun to her head and make her work with me every day or we don't get paid."

6.  Regarding Social Media...

The First Time: "You mean, I have to actually get online and talk to people sometimes? *gulp* I just want to write and not bother with that stuff!"

Later Times: "You mean, I actually have to get off social media and write sometimes? *frown* But I love talking to people and they need to see more of my cat pictures!"

7. Talking About Characters...

The First Time: "I created this character. She's so cool! Let me tell you about her."

Later Times: "I'm writing about this character and she keeps changing the story in ways that she's not supposed to. I'm the writer, but it feels like sometimes she's the one writing through me. Wait, don't go. I swear I'm not crazy! I only argue with my characters sometimes!"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Memory And Writing

Something that frustrates me is that when I watch movies and television shows, I forget a lot of the details soon afterwards. I have a terrible memory when it comes to these things, especially if I only watch them through one time.

I have seen all the episodes of Bob's Burgers, for instance, and I have a friend who is obsessed with that show and quotes it all the time. I laugh and pretend I know what she is saying, but in my head, I go,"What episode was that again?"

This extends to my writing as well. It's a gift on one hand. If I take a long break from writing a certain story, I can come at it with fresher eyes than many authors can because I've already forgotten most of what I was saying. But it's bad when I'm trying to write a book series because while I am writing it, I easily forget details sometimes from previous books (and have to re-read those) or my stories get riddled with plot holes.

Last night, I drank a caffeinated beverage. I never drink caffeine because I have anxiety problems, but I couldn't seem to help myself. I also decided to do this at midnight, which is a wonderful idea, especially since I'm not used to caffeine anymore and should have been going to sleep.

So I sat in my living room, wide awake and jittery, in the dark, with my kindle.

I was going to re-download my books. I keep hoping that re-downloading them will somehow update them on my device (but it never does), so that I can read what you guys are reading and make sure that the formatting is going well. I always preview the formatting, but I don't trust the preview for whatever reason. I make little changes on the formatting sometimes and I need to make sure those are translating the right way.

So I start rifling through Pandora's Mistake and instead of just glancing at every page, I start re-reading the story. And pretty soon, I am engrossed in reading it because I can't remember anything that I wrote the first time around.

I start laughing hysterically and going,"Pandora's so naive!" And I feel like a crazy person because I wrote this book and I can't even remember anything that I wrote. And people would probably think I was crazy if they were reading it outloud and I was going over and over again,"Oh yeah! I forgot that I had written that!" Because I finished writing it a little over a year ago, so how have I already forgotten the entire thing?

To me it's like looking through one of those old photo albums with your family while you nudge each other and say,"Remember when we did that!" And you go,"Oh yeah! I forgot about that!"

So I finished re-reading Pandora and will likely have to re-read Medusa as well. Because I am hoping that as soon as I finish writing these "God Of Light" books, that I can start working on my Sisyphus novel. (I wrote one chapter for it one time and that made me excited.)

 But I'm also trying to finish up critiquing two things and have a lot more work to do on the "God Of Light" books, so it might be awhile before that happens.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Guide to San Diego Comic Con

I went to Comic Con this year in San Diego (pictures of people in costume are posted on my facebook account if you want to see) and I've gone every year for the past several years. It's a lot of fun. It's one giant nerd party, where you can buy nerdy things, go to panels about nerdy things, and see people in all kinds of costumes.

But there was a lot of things that I never knew were true about Comic Con until I went several times. I decided to share them with you (including how to get a pass), so you'll know more if you ever decide to go:

1. Getting a ticket to Comic Con is hard to do, but if you know all the steps and follow them, you can get one every time. This year and last year, my husband had a professional pass because he works in the video game industry, but we've also purchased tickets the other way.

What you have to do is sign up for the web-site that you purchase them on months before it's time to purchase. Then find out the exact date and time where you need to buy tickets. Set your alarm at least 10 minutes beforehand and start refreshing the page when it gets close to the time to buy tickets. They'll put you in a queue. Wait in the queue and then make sure you have the money to pay for your tickets in your bank account ahead of time and that you have your card on hand.

Even when you do this, you might not get four day passes. The tickets sell really fast! But you'll likely get something.

If you buy a four day pass, but don't want to go all four days, don't ever sell your ticket to someone else after you are done. People will try to buy them from you for a lot of money, but if you are caught selling your ticket to someone else, you get banned from Comic Con for life!

2. Parking is horrible. It's really difficult to find a place to park and once you do, you're probably going to pay anywhere from $40-$60. That's per day, by the way.

But if you park in the right parking garage, there will be people in passenger bikes willing to give you a ride to the convention and a ride back once you are done. You're also going to probably have to pay them, though. And their rates vary drastically and they won't tell you until you are already done with the ride.

One guy made me give him $40 plus a tip for less than a five minute ride back to the parking garage, while another guy only made me give him $5 for the exact same thing.

3. It's normal to ask people who are in costumes to pose for a picture for you. Just know, if you decide to go in costume (especially if you have an elaborate or unique costume), you might be posing for photos all day. You also might be interviewed by several news crews.

But the cool thing is, they have a special station where you can repair your costumes if they break. It has things like thread and needles for you to use.

4. There is no air conditioning. Everyone is sweating and smelly. Less clothes is usually better and bring extra deoderant and perfume!

5. There are special items called "Comic Con Exclusives" that you can only buy at Comic Con. They are usually really cool things.

If you want to buy one of these things, make sure you find out as much as possible about how to purchase it ahead of time. Some items are easy to get. Like, I got a Comic Con Mad Libs for free this year and there was no line. Other items, like the Magic Cards exclusive are very difficult. We tried to purchase it and found out that you needed to be lined up at the right place at 5:30 in the morning to be able to get a ticket that would allow you to purchase the item later and very few people received tickets.

It's better to either try to buy these things on preview night or on Thursday because sometimes they sell out before you can get there.

6. There is hardly any seating in Comic Con. Your legs are going to hurt and when you try to sit against the wall for a second, there are going to be people yelling at you to get up. This is also true when you try to sit down and eat.

7. Some panels are easy to get into. The informative ones are usually easy-the ones about how to write well and what goes into making a comic, things like that. But if you want to get into a panel with any famous actors or anything like that in it (like the Firefly panel for instance) or about big Comic book things (like the Marvel panel), then you need to start waiting for hours, potentially a day, ahead of time. People who got into the Marvel panel this year had to wait for thirty hours to get in.

8. Bring food with you to Comic Con. They have a few different types of food stands, like Starbucks and things, where the food is okay. But to get any actual meals, you need to go to the food stand which is run by the convention and the food is so awful and very expensive. It's not worth it.

9. It's very crowded inside Comic Con. There are always people shouting at you to keep moving because there's so many people that things easily become congested. This makes taking pictures difficult and you might be shouted at to stop taking a picture and keep moving. You also might be shoved forward when trying to view something if you are doing so inside a heavily congested area.