Friday, February 28, 2014

Is KDP worth it?

I have said that one day Amazon will one day take over the world and it will be a better place for it. Not kidding at all. On and on I went on to give example after example about purchases made better for buying through Amazon. I have attempted to convert family and friends. When Amazon started with the self-publishing all my prayers had been answered, it was doable totally doable. All those ‘short’ stories (unfinished) could be finished polished and put out and just maybe I wouldn’t go from call center to call center in city after city (I have commitment issues) and I could do what I really wanted to do which was write for a living.

This was great this changed the rules, it didn’t just flip the script it made black white, it made it so a fish could live outside of water and I chuckled as I watched publishing house reps and authors decrying it while sweating buckets from the balconies. (I’m a sick fuck I don’t know why, I laughed when the market crashed and people were crying-I’ve been to a therapist I swear.)

But then it happened I put a book up and there were all these little things that kind of nibbled at the heels of what I wanted to do versus what Amazon would allow to happen. This was years ago and it was all so new, the rules were still being written. Barnes and Noble was teetering but they still wore their lipstick and the public pretended like all was good as they roamed but rarely bought from B&N. Then the Nook popped up propping them up and Amazon fought back with their Kindle and hello, here’s self published book cheaper than the others. So Nook went self published too and man was there no support or guidance there either. It was a fumble all the way down the line, some of the books were shit, some were diamonds in the rough, people were becoming millionaires, others could at least quit their day job.

Now B&N has lost the lipstick and is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, so I have someone telling me that means Nook and self publishing on the Nook is going away so not to even bother with publishing on the Nook. To which I say BULLSHIT. How many record stores are there in your town, but you still get your music, records are still being sold, electronically. There is absolutely no reason why B&N cannot continue as a bookseller through the Nook only, I actually know more people who have a Nook than a Kindle-I swear, it’s usually the first or second one, the smaller ones that fit easily in a purse. The people I know who read mainly on Kindle do it through the downloaded apps on their phones and tablets and sure there are paperwhites out there-made to look like the Nook, by the way. I believe, when it comes to ebooks B&N could totally compete and if not win than tie with Amazon as an ebook seller, because that’s their sole focus they can change the rules no overhead at all to supply diapers or watches, B&N already has the space and publishing power of publishing paper and hardback so why can't they push back on Createspace and ship from their warehouses. There's the added plus that they know what works better than Amazon on book selling. Why not create virtual shelves and tables, doing this and updating, they could still be around twenty years from now as an ebook seller. It just makes me sad that they don’t see it that way, clinging to paper and ignoring that the rules have changed and so should they. So what is this long almost insufferable blog post about anyway?

The post is about how pushy Amazon is for their self pubbed authors to go KDP. They aren’t just saying look at how great this is. No, they’re the drunk jock at the party pushing themselves all over you, their way is the only way to go, look at how hung we are babe, everyone wants this, if you don’t then you just don’t get it.

Umm…not quite yes, not quite no and get your hands off me. I think it’s actually genre specific, to a large degree and I’m talking smut, romance and erotica and I’m talking Smashwords. I have to admit I’ve heard of it but I hadn’t gone on it until about a month or two ago and not gonna lie I wanted to wash my hands after scrolling through it. BUT after talking to some people, the real down and dirty smut that people want (some more pretty disturbing) that’s all selling on Smashwords, not through Amazon. Smashwords is letting their authors let it all hang out, you want a cover with the person’s ass hanging out go for it, you want borderline incest, sure. Amazon doesn’t want your smut and it’s going to hide you away in the dark corners. They have finally gotten it and at least they are willing to change (hint B&N) and they have added a new search for erotica but doesn’t feel like it’s as open as Smashwords. I’m thinking this way because one of my beta readers is telling me of my six finished, one is really just steamy romance, not erotic romance and two are what she has coined romantic smut. Mmm….okay, considering she loves smut and she’s the one who told me about Smashwords is where she gets it, I’m not inclined to argue. Is writing down and dirty smut in my future, not planning on it, but I didn’t plan on coming back to Austin and I had thought I would leave again and head toward Raleigh and the ocean, but nope I’m still here. So who knows, I’ve read some pretty good smut, and apparently I’m not bad at writing it and I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for conversion, yeah I’ve thought about it. But for now no words yet, we shall see.

But then again, I watched on Facebook someone do a very informal poll of where people get their books from and all said Amazon, of the 34 responses that I counted. There's also the whole we'll let you do it for free, but if you go through Smashwords you can set it for Free without a time limit and then I hear .99 cents is the new free, so there's a way around that. Then there's the countdown and admittedly if you play their game and you do well on your own, they'll push you out to others, putting you on the front page. So maybe Amazon but no KDP? Or maybe it’s just the asshole in me that doesn’t want to do what others want me to do, yet another reason why I’m not into the whole D/s thing. To quote the great pontifcate Cartman: I do what I want. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fear and Doubts are starting to creep in

So I have finally edited the last dropped comma, (pretty sure) on four out of six completed stories. I do have a seventh but it needs so much work I just don’t see it happening by the deadline I have set for myself. So even though I have two left to go and should be working on finishing those and the finish line is in sight I am taking my eyes off the finish line and focusing on other things.

I sat up for an hour last night wondering on how to work the release. I want to do all six at once, do I do the blog tour thing I was thinking of, do I do the party release on Facebook everyone seems to be doing? AN HOUR, I am NOT exaggerating. There are still two more to finish, they are shorter and need the least amount of work, why the hell did I not even open one up and just start working? It has annoyed the fuck out of me that it takes about an hour just to do ten pages but that was ten pages I could have down, but no I chose to fixate on something that shouldn’t be something I should be thinking about yet.

There will still be the issue of formatting which will be the last hurdle and it could be a quick turn around or a week or more because I am completely inept when it comes to that and am not even going to try. Totally shouting out because he is awesome and only charges $1.00 per thousand words and for that price you get both mobi (Kindle) and epub (Nook) files for that price. The price is so worth it I’m not going to bother with the migraine of learning to format, I have already once and I almost ended up in tears of frustration.

Only when the files are back and safe on my computer should I look into putting them up and what might go along with it.

I’m mad at myself for not going into it last night so I come home and pull it up and I’m not even three pages in and my mind is elsewhere. I’m in my kitchen cleaning, when I clean it’s bad, it’s avoidance at its worst. I drop my favorite big coffee mug and burst into tears. It’s not the mug, I’m crying about. (Although I loved that damn mug.) I popped two Xanax and took my ass to the couch and after I stopped crying I looked at my laptop silent and waiting and figured it out.  

I’m scared, I’m doubting myself all over again. I’ve tried this once before and failed miserably. I fell down and brushed myself off and now I’m trying again, I did more research, I read everything about those able to write for a living, I read nearly everything in my genre, I read reviews for hours upon hours over weeks on those that were succeeding and those that weren’t, I spent months looking for the right cover artist. I have rewritten and edited until I’m quite frankly sick of looking at what I’ve written.

I don’t want to be a millionaire, that isn’t the brass ring, it’s being able to support myself off of writing. It’s being able to pay rent and the bills, it won’t take much. I’m not setting the bar high, with all of that I’m afraid I won’t be able to even get there. That I can’t reach even the small first jump and that it will all be for nothing. I know you won’t be able to quit your day job off of one book, that’s why there’s six. The feedback has been good but the beta readers still know me and because of that I don’t really trust them, I just don’t.

I’m doubting my work is good enough, that I’m good enough. I’m afraid that once again I’m going to try and fail and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to try again. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Why shouldn't I use the word pussy in erotic romance?

I keep turning the question around in my mind, it was one of the pieces of feedback I got. To which I wanted to respond with WTF are you serious? Interesting no upset about the word cock or dick, though.

Okay, I will say in the past I haven't generally read erotica or smut or erotic romance as much or as often as I read regular romance. The regency era and the good old reliable Harlequin and they all faded to black and that was fine, more than enough for me. I was lucky enough for the first guy I was with to be completely open and honest in what he wanted and more than happy to give back and flat out told me I needed to make demands of him too. It went both ways. So I will say that when it faded to black, I could fill in the blanks all on my own and was probably better than what would have been written.

So in writing erotic romance I read A LOT of everything from smut-down and dirty meant to be read one handed and erotica which was kinda annoying and long winded and erotic romance-where I felt most comfortable. I will have to admit I was all, we have a winner this is it let's get to writing and honestly I've used things I've written to former and current partner in a scene. In all of those times, even my most boring tech geek partner never said I want to taste your 'sex' , 'core' , or other so many other words women try to use when writing, now I will admit, yes I have used core and in the woman's mind the totally lame word 'there' but during sex no. I've heard muffin-not writing that it makes me laugh, hot box-stupid and juvenile, but I have never even once heard the word vagina-not once.

As far as I am concerned the word Erotic before Romance frees me to be real and write honestly of what happens as a couple works toward the romance and the happily ever after and a lot of that goes down in the bedroom and it's real and should be honest. As far as I am concerned the whole freaking industry is built because women have been told how they shouldn't be, don't sit like that bad girls sit with their legs open, don't talk like that only sluts and dirty girls talk like that. Fuck that shit is what women are saying, they read about what they want and are scared to ask for and then maybe, hopefully they will.

I didn't read the 50 Shades book and when a friend who was begging to asked me why I responded, I already get what I want in the bedroom. Also, I am not into BDSM a few smacks not so bad but pain, no uh uh, not gonna happen.

I have done my best to write as close to what happens during and after sex because yes fantasy is all good but reality of what you ask for and get isn't always as good as the fantasy, the endless sex without soreness always makes me crazy-yeah no two days or even all night long of sex? No, the reason you walk funny is because it hurts and it's freaking sore.

So I'm going to use the word pussy and I'm not going to apologize for it, it isn't a dirty word, it's just a word.

Friday, February 7, 2014

If you want to make writing your full time job, you have to interview for it

If you treat something like it’s a hobby then that’s all it will be, there is no need to succeed at a hobby. If you want to treat your writing as a hobby, something you do for your own personal enjoyment that’s one thing but if you want to make money, write for a living then you have to treat it as a job you are applying for and the reader your interviewer who says whether you get the job. That seems to be hard for a lot more writers I have encountered than I would have thought, to understand and I’m not sure why. Okay, so the majority of books that have been self published are by people who have always enjoyed writing and hopefully are long time readers. I wrote for years, I have more than sixteen ‘short’ stories I have moved from state to state, apartment to apartment because I’m not quite willing to let them go and they’re short because I never finished them. They were ideas that came in and bugged me, I started to write and then I would lose the thread of the story and poof it was gone. I didn’t write thinking, I’m going to finish this and send it off for an agent or to a publisher, I wrote because I wanted to and yes I needed to. So as I’m trying to figure out why there are still so many people questioning how to do it, how to succeed at writing for a living I’m trying to be kind and thinking hey maybe they just finally finished what has been nagging them and are gung ho about it.

But here’s the thing, that’s no excuse.

When you go for a job interview there are things you do to prepare. You dress nicely in a suit-best book cover you can afford, you complete and print out your resume (even though they have it in front of them) it’s on the best paper you can afford-you have edited your work backwards and forwards, and most importantly you research AT LEAST the basics of the company you are applying at-you research the basics of what the hell you are doing-which is selling a book. It’s not that hard but it will take some time and study, depending on how far and serious you are about it. You want to play an instrument, you don’t just pick it up and expect to be able to play at symphony level. You want to be a boxer you don’t just buy some shiny shorts and step into the ring. What kills me is there are so many, to be honest, almost too many, how to books to self publish, some say the same things, others are very different. There are so many blogs it’s almost overwhelming, again that’s no excuse. You pick something you want to know about, let’s say book covers you research the shit out of that (I’m not exaggerating in any way shape or form but it took me over three months of constant web crawling to find my cover artist, I couldn’t be happier) will my cover artist do a sci-fi cover well? I don’t know, I was looking for a romance cover artist, I saw what she had done and I liked it. Pricing, do the damn research, again what works for romance even versus erotica isn’t the same thing, I have spent again months, about six months going through Amazon reading review after review, reading bad book after bad book (some were good) to find out what the people reading that genre wanted because I previously read romance, not erotic romance and there is a BIG difference. I highly recommend reading the reviewers, you can’t walk up to someone and ask them what they want in a book but the reviews can give you that, what the reader likes, hates (erotic romances that are too short seems to be a HUGE issue), wants more of in a story. By giving the reader what they want it helps with one of the hardest issue out there for a writer, price, yes price. Length and covers (don’t ever forget the covers) do come up to on reviews and there is a huge difference from erotic romance, to romance, to even erotica. (Too long and varied to go into on this post). So by giving the reader what they want and are looking for and what they are willing to pay for it, it helps me know I’m giving them what they want.

You show up at a job interview for IBM in ripped jeans and a tee shirt without your resume and you don’t know how long IBM has been around-1911, what IBM stands for- International Business Machines, where they are headquartered-Armonk, NY you aren’t getting the job. I’m not saying self publishing is easy, I’m not saying you learn how to do it overnight, it is not a one size fits all, hell there isn’t a one genre fits all, what works for sci-fi, doesn’t work for romance, might not work for mystery/thriller. I am not in any way shape or form putting myself as an expert, but I have read two very well done books and three blogs going back over two years, the blogs were the hardest but I settled in for a weekend and I read them and I even took notes (yes, I am a nerd). I did all of that and the first book I self published still sits on the dustiest shelf of Amazon and there are things I know I did right and looking back things I know I did wrong. That’s why I am trying so hard on this next at bat. I want and need to hit a home run, will I? Hell, I don’t know but I sure as hell am not going to be able to say I didn’t try.

Don’t half ass it, it shows when you do and you won’t get the job. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Marketing? The biggest question so far

It's a fine line, between marketing and harassment.

It was a Facebook post I read once and I understand it completely as I have been harassed more than a few times to buy someone's book. Isn't that the problem though for so many, hell even regular sales calls, telemarketing can and has been called harassment and there are all these rules around it. What are the rules for selling your work, work you poured if not blood and sweat then definitely a few tears into. A clear one I believe I have found is don't post on Facebook over and over again it's on sale or directly message anyone. Okay, check. After that, what next?

I have read and it seems to hold true that the writers that blog have stronger numbers. This seems to make sense, if someone likes the voice you use to write your blog then they will want to read more of what you write. However if your sense of humor or lack thereof turns someone off then they will know not to buy what you are selling and perhaps complain about it later. But there seems to be so much more than that, I see excerpts posted of stories okay, even better. So here I am on Blogger where I can't post excerpts properly. Fuck, so then I go to Wordpress and I am such a dumbass when it comes to computer stuff of any kind, I spend forty damn minutes on it and can't even update the about me page. *bangs head on desk*  I did manage to change the picture on it. That's for another day, I will get it done.

So then there's the whole Facebook page which seems still pretty strong with writers and readers, not just a regular page but an author's page. Which to me doesn't make any sense as the author's page is stiffer and I don't know, just unfriendly to use. There are all these bloggers giving gift cards and books away along with other things like book marks and other merchandising. Is that a good idea? It doesn't seem like anything other than annoying when I 'attend' one but they do have lots of followers and it doesn't seem like it would hurt. What's a few ten dollar gift cards compared to what could result potential sales at full price versus free even?

Which brings me to the next question of free. I'm highly ambivalent of free. Too often I myself have 'bought' a free book and it lingers on my kindle forgotten. I'm not even going to give the number of books I have on my kindle about 10-15 percent are full price paid or .99 and I don't know if I will live long enough to read all of them-I'm in my thirties that's all I'm going to say about that. Then several times in a weekend I've downloaded something for free and went nuts over a story and bought several by the author after that. So how good is it really? I do believe that by my waiting and posting several stories and having them all up at once will put me in a better position in case someone does read and likes and there are more to buy available. I've heard it called a loss leader, exactly. I will be losing money on that but hopefully to get more when someone is willing to buy the others at full price.

There's no easy transition so I'm just going to go there, I love Twitter and have gotten sickeningly attached pretty quickly. It's so simple!!!! I love simple. You spend a few hours, yes hours building of those you want to follow and then after that you hit it up two or three times a day for anywhere to five to fifteen minutes and you retweet specials, promotions and freebies. Pop off with a pithy comments once or twice so people don't think you're a bot and you're golden. Just like in real life people like it's when it's all about them and when you follow and retweet them they love you and spread the word of how great you are. Not even trying I'll get followers who actually have not just writers following them but actual readers and hopefully when the time comes when I have a freebie or promotion they'll tweet to them.

As far as actually paying for advertising, nope. I'm not going into paying for my book to be featured anywhere because, no way. I'd rather give away money to readers who follow just for the chance to win a gift card than an advertiser. Besides, the only place I've heard this really works is on Goodreads and I'm sure by the time I have the money to do Goodreads I won't need to. Yes, I am trying to quit my job and live just off what I make by writing but my needs are few and I'm lucky enough not to have any dependents so it won't take much, especially to make what I'm making now.

Any thoughts, suggestions holes you've fallen into and have advice to avoid?