Guest Post: Good News for Indies by Sheron McCartha

Sheron McCartha is a science fiction author, reader, and reviewer who blogs over at Scifi Book ReviewShe does a great job keeping track of what’s happening in the indie publishing world and has stopped by to share some good news. Take it away, Sheron…

Numbers. Bah! I work with words. So what can a bunch of numbers tell me that could help with my writing?

Well…

The Written Word (Freebooksy, Bargain booksy and other ad sites for authors) surveyed 38,000 authors. They compared a group of authors who made $100k or more a year (called $100k Authors) to authors making $500 or less a year (called Emerging Authors). Note that their group of authors are skewed toward the romance genre. Also note that a portion of the blockbuster authors didn’t engage in the survey as they were out on their boats drinking champagne, but still some interesting facts emerged that you as an author can take to the bank.

What made the difference?

1. The longer an author has been writing, the more money they tended to make. So if you’re struggling with a book or two, have patience. Persistence is the key. (I needed that. I so needed to hear that.)

2. Publishing Indie is a viable way to success. Self publishers get a much larger percent of royalties. Does it matter how you publish? Most authors in the survey were Indie authors. Only 5% were traditionally published authors, and none of those made the $100K group. Of those in the $100K subset, 72% were Indie and 28% Hybrid.

Interestingly, another survey, May 2016 Author Earnings reports that “the vast majority of traditional publishing’s mid-list or better earners started their career over a decade ago. Their more recently debuted peers are not doing anywhere near as well.”

Within the hybrid subset, 100K authors are present at a higher percentage than Emerging Authors (28% vs 17%). This may be a result of traditional authors taking their books back from a house and self-publishing them, or a self-publisher getting a large platform that attracts a traditional publishing house. Many successful authors are taking advantage of both worlds. Confused by numbers and want a picture? Here’s a visual:

3. “Going wide” or limiting to KDP Select didn’t make a difference in how much money the authors made.

4. The $100K group spent more than $100 for a professional cover. None spent over $1000. Looking professional is important, but you don’t have to break the bank.

5. Also important is spending your money on a professional editor. In the $100K group, 96% spent money on an editor while half of those spent from $250-$500, at least 20% shelled out $500-$1000. In the Emerging Authors camp, 56% spent up to $50, but everyone admitted it was important to have another pair of eyeballs read over the work.

6. In both $100K and Emerging Authors categories, the author handles the marketing. Those authors making more money often hire assistants to help them with this fun chore. Also, everyone in the survey used ad sites as a means of marketing, so other forms weren’t really studied.

7. Don’t quit your day job. For Emerging Authors, 66% still have a day job and 28% of the $100K authors have one.

8. Finally—the more hours writing=more books=more payout. Emerging Authors wrote 19.8 hours per week while $100K spent 28.5 hours per week writing.

9. For you data hounds, here’s the link: Written Word Media Survey

All right, so surveys and numbers aren’t all that bad and may tell us something. Here’s another while I’m at it. Are you game?

Mark Coker does an extensive survey once a year. He is the founder of Smashwords that competes with Amazon and distributes books over a wide range of platforms. You go through his meatgrinder and he spits out your book to iBook, Kobo, the Nook, his own site and many others. This is what is called, “going wide.” Smashwords’ catalog is strictly eBooks and 127,000 authors make up his catalog of 437,200 books.

The fiction category makes up 87.5% of his sales with 45% of that going to the romance genre. Unfortunately for me, in the top 200 best sellers, 73% are romance while 3% are science fiction. Having said that, Mark talks about some new marketing innovations.

1. Pre-orders are appearing as a tool to launch a new book. However, only 12.23% of books at the time of the survey were born in a pre-launch. Yet, in the top 1000 sellers, 61% used the pre-launch to get things going.

2. Box sets are becoming popular with 90% as single author box sets. Multi author boxed sets aren’t as popular as yet and may have royalty tangles.

3. As to pricing, Mark urges Indie authors to up the cost to $4.99 from a lower price. $3.99 and $4.99 got more downloads than $.99 pricing. If you price it too cheaply do readers think the book is not as good and hesitate?

4. Average word count for the romance genre is 113,803. This may vary from genre to genre as fantasy is expected to be longer and maybe other genres are shorter.

5. Keep the titles fairly short. In the top 100 sellers, character titles were kept to an average of 24 characters while in the top 1000 range, the characters averaged 37.11.

6. Series sell. Top best sellers show that they are likely to come from a series. In the top 100, a free starter book increased sales of the series by 80%

7. Where did Smashwords sell the most? The United States garnered 69% of sales, far outdistancing Great Britain (8%), Canada (11%), Australia (5%).

Here’s the link: Smashwords Survey

Okay, so you have had enough of numbers, and your head is spinning, but some interesting facts have been revealed that any author can use in earning more and becoming famous. At least to your mother-in-law or distant cousin.

How about some words to even things out? I just released my 2nd book in the Terran Trilogy called Somewhat Alien. As an incentive, I’m offering the first book, A World Too Far for free for a limited time only…starting today for Diana’s amazing blog followers. (I read your comments and you are awesome). And remember Mark’s advice about offering the first book free in a series. We’ll see how effective that is.

 

To sweeten the pot, I will price the new release of Somewhat Alien for three days at a discount price of $.99 in the hopes that I will get some honest reviews from you all. As of now, I have none…none…and I would love to hear from you and how you liked this new series.

Enjoy.

More about Sheron: 

I grew up with my father saying that he was going to write a great science fiction book one day. He talked a lot about it.

He loved science fiction, and often on a Sunday morning when we were all lined up and finally ready for church (three of us were girls which took a while), father would be missing. Mother would find him hiding in the bathroom reading like it was a forbidden pleasure.

After he retired and embarked on his great writing endeavor, he came to me and confessed that he had tried to write and couldn’t. He wanted to, but the words weren’t there. He threw the torch in my direction and became my inspiration.

My father has since passed away, but the day I proudly held that first book in my hands, I just knew, that while others were headed out to sing praises somewhere; he was ensconced on a cushy cloud, hiding out reading my book.

You can follow Sheron at @Sheronwriting

and her website: Scifi Book Review

 

 

Sunday Blog Share: 30 Signs That Your Significant Other Is Clearly Trying to Drive You Insane

Time for a little more hilarity from Brian. I think he’s spying on my life.
Comments are closed here on Sundays. Click over to Bonnywood Manor to continue laughing.

30 Signs That Your Significant Other Is Clearly Trying to Drive You Insane

by Brian Lageose

Note: Change the pronouns around however you like to fit the dynamics of your own relationship. This is an equal-opportunity whine-fest, and all variations of love are fully embraced here at Bonnywood Manor.

1. He changes the car radio right in the middle of a song that you really, really like. (“I can’t stand that song,” he mutters, apparently forgetting that you danced to this very song at your wedding. Twice.)

2. She stares at the restaurant menu for 37 minutes and still cannot find anything that remotely interests her. Yet she wanted to go to this place. (“Madge says they have the best seafood here,” she had chirped in the car on the way over, apparently forgetting that Madge was convicted of fraud in the 90s. Twice.)

3. He doesn’t understand that inviting his friends over for dinner at the very last minute might be an issue in any way. (“Can’t you just kill another chicken?” he asks, wrongly assuming that humor will defuse the tense situation. It does not. But it does give you an idea of what else might be served for dinner.)

4. She makes fun of the fact that you can’t parallel park. (“Honey, the dog could do a better job. Hop out and I’ll scooch over.”)

5. He eats the last yogurt in the fridge that you picked out and leaves the crappy one that he chose. (“They all really taste the same, don’t they?” No. No, they do not. Never speak such blasphemy again.)

6. She insists on going down every single aisle in the grocery store. (And she insists on sniffing every single candle in the home décor aisle, even the candles that you know damn well she sniffed last week. They still have her nose-print in the dust on top of them.)

7. He doesn’t have a plan in the grocery store, and he runs from one end of the store to the other at least 26 times. (On his fourth jaunt down the dog-food aisle, a bell rings and there is a brief ceremony wherein the store manager hands him a frequent-flier award.)

8. She thinks it’s okay to answer her phone right in the middle of the Immunity Challenge on “Survivor”. (“Oh, hey girl!… No, we’re not doing anything… Joe is watching some beach sport thing… Say, honey, could you turn the sound down a little bit? This is an important call. Thanks!…. So, girl, tell me more about these sandals you just got… uh huh… really?…”)

9. He lunges to close a window on his computer screen every time you walk into the home office.

10. She starts any conversation with the phrase “I was talking to Mom the other day…”

11. He starts any conversation with the phrase “Why are you dressed up like we’re going somewhere?”

12. She abruptly ends a conversation by saying “whatever you think is best” and then leaving the room.

13. He makes that soul-killing sucking noise trying to get food out of his teeth. It takes all of your strength to not whip out the shop-vac and shove it in his mouth.

14. She sneezes like somebody stepped on an anemic mouse.

15. He sneezes like an elephant getting a rectal probe, and then he insists on following it up by hollering “DAMN!” like he has no idea what just happened to him.

(Continue onward: 30 Signs That Your Significant Other Is Clearly Trying to Drive You Insane)

Mask – #Writephoto

The dreamer’s room faded. Stars pricked holes in the velvet darkness as a crescent moon sailed over the restless sea, a bat with silver wings. Tucked between the shore’s boulders, twigs of cedar snapped in the nightfire, scenting the salted air with smoke. The plaintive calls of dragons whispered across the waves.

The crone peered at her latest visitor through slit eyes. Unafraid, the dreamer stood before her circle of flames, silent and sound as the distant mountains of home.

At the fire’s edge, the old woman sat atop her weathered stone, swaying, rocking, singing to herself, chanting words from ancient mouths, words lost, though their power she retained. The fire cracked and cackled, shaking fingers, sending sparks curling, singing, reeling into unsteady darkness. Soon the sea-rains would gray them, rise over cowled peaks and fall with the wind, heavy cloaks of snow coating her magic in ice. Her runes called, choose, choose, the time has come to choose.

The World spun faster, drawing the sky down, the earth up, bidding the waters to eddy and ripple in overlapping circles of light, bringing the forest to sing low and hum, smelling of leaf and loam. Expectation swelled with the tide and clawed at the sand, beckoned her to choose. From the embers’ bright edge, she drew a rune and studied the markings. The sea stilled, and she read the stone:

A call from the sliver moon and realm of imaginings. A strange Way gapes open, make ready for new beginnings. Resolve old myths to seed the soil for deliverance. Ah, the World transforms; emerge from the chrysalis, casting off false faces and old forms of knowing. Prepare for release from time-worn forces. Surrender and soar to the revealing of the World.

***

Thanks to Sue Vincent for another inspiring Thursday #Writephoto prompt.

7 Steps to a User-Friendly Blog

This isn’t a new topic, but it seems worth a mention every now and then within the WordPress blog community. I love connecting with other bloggers and occasionally a website makes that hard if not impossible to do. Here are a few tips. 🙂

Definitely take a look at these if:

  • You are leaving likes and comments on other blogs and not getting return visits.
  • Everyone likes your old posts and seems to ignore your recent posts.
  • You’ve changed your blog address at any time (WP may still be directing your readers to the old deleted site!)

1. Make sure your links to your site are working. Unfortunately, this isn’t handled in just one place:

  • In your blog profile: Go to WP Admin – Users – My Profile. At the bottom of the page, make sure your website address is correct.
  • In your gravatar: Go to WP Admin – Users – My Profile. And at the top of the page, click on the tiny link that says, “edit your profile at gravatar.com.” Once in your gravatar profile, click on “Websites.” Be sure that your correct website address is listed. 
  • In WP Reader – this is important as it’s what points back to you when you leave likes and comments! Per WP Support, click on https://wordpress.com/me/account to get directly to your profile page. To get there the long way, open WP Reader. Click on Followed Sites and then on the little circle in the upper right-hand corner. Then select Account Settings and update your Web Address. 

2. Make navigation fool-proof. If readers can’t figure out how to get to new posts or the next/previous post, they aren’t going to stay long. This can happen for a number of reasons including the fact that WordPress sites have a lot of variation. The easiest way to handle this is to have a list of recent posts on your sidebar. Go to WP Admin – Appearance – Widgets. Then drag the box labeled “Recent Posts” to your sidebar.

3. Add a translate button. Readers probably won’t “like” or comment on a post they can’t read, right? And following becomes rather pointless. While you’re in Widgets, also slide over the button that says, “Google Translate: Translate to your language.” Sometimes a translate icon will appear in your taskbar, but not always. Adding this widget solves that problem.

4. Add a follow button. Also in Widgets, you’ll see a “Follow Button.” Slide that one over too. Sometimes a “Follow” will appears as a pop-up thingy in the corner of a post or it will appear after commenting, but not always. Make following as easy as clicking on a button.

5. Static Front Page versus Most Recent Post front page. One way to have followers engage easily with your most recent posts is to have those display when a reader visits your site. Go to WP Admin – Settings – Reading Settings. Set your “Front Page Display” to “Your Latest Posts.”

If you elect to have a static front page – which may make perfect sense for your blog – be sure that readers can access your recent posts by clicking on a menu item named “Blog Posts” or something similar. Make it easy. If readers have to hunt through all your menu headings for something new, they may give up after a few tries.

6. Speed up your blog. I follow a couple blogs that are slow, slow, slow to load, and they tend to bog down the whole system. I can barely scroll, and the little wheely-thing spins and spins and spins. I click “like” and close the site as fast as possible. This is because your blog is trying to load every page of every post you’ve ever written, ever, all at once. Go to WP Admin – Settings – Reading Settings. Where it says “Blog pages show at most” enter 10. Your readers will love you and stick around longer.

7. Make commenting easy. If you make your readers jump through three hoops to comment on your blog, they usually won’t. I recently read a post from someone complaining that no one commented. I tried to leave a comment explaining why no one was commenting, but it was so hard, I gave up. Go to WP Admin – Settings – Discussion Settings, and take a look at “Other Comment Settings.” Unless you have a specific reason for doing otherwise, I would not recommend making a reader fill out name and email, or even worse, register and log in. If you are worried about trolls, look at some of the options further down the Discussion Settings page for moderating comments.

I hope this helps you get lots of visits and follows and blogosphere friends. Happy Blogging!

Sunday Blog Share: Equality

A stark poem about the pain of alienation.
Beautiful and raw, it reads like a plea.
True equality won’t come with a law but with an open heart.

Equality

by Candice of The Feathered Sleep

 

The day I came out … all my girlfriends took one step apart

it can’t be they collectively agreed

she’s too pretty, she’s too feminine, she’s not a dyke she’s one of us

didn’t she enjoy sex with that boy in the garden? you know that party the one where

they turned the lights on and saw them straddled in tall grass?

What happened? Did you get raped? Was it because you grew up without a mom?

What happened? Did you get bewitched? Is she a sorceress? A genie? A devil?

Soon after the invites to go out on the girls-nights

dwindled

the newly minted lesbian sat alone with her shadows and her eye make up

growing stale in their plastic boxes

virile boys wondered why they hadn’t kept her straight

cleavage girls wondered if she had looked at them in the shower the wrong way

why didn’t you try it on with me? her bi-curious mates inquired, offended

as if loving a girl was loving the entirety of the species and jumping…

(Continue Reading: Equality)

20 Symptoms of Writeritis

image from pinterest.com

image from pinterest

This 2-yr-old post was one of my most popular, and for those who missed it, I once again share the symptoms of this incurable condition.

***

As some of you know, a pervasive syndrome has troubled a segment of society for centuries. After years of research, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders finally classified these symptoms under the diagnosis: Writeritis. 

Writeritis is defined as a persistent, maladaptive pattern of writing that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by six (or more) of the following within a single month:

  1. A marked craving for increased amounts of writing, and longer periods of time to write.

  2. An unquenchable thirst for coffee.

  3. Repeated efforts to cut down or control word count are unsuccessful.

  4. Withdrawal occurs when writing is discontinued or suddenly reduced. Symptoms include shakiness, moodiness, and/or irritability.

  5. A tendency to rapidly relapse into extreme patterns of excessive rewriting – even after periods of abstinence or control.

  6. After writing, a compulsive urge to return and edit.

  7. An inability to initiate household chores until a plot hole is resolved.

  8. A clinically significant preoccupation with the motivations of imaginary people.

  9. Obsessive attempts to manipulate and control the lives of main characters.

  10. A tendency to forget the time, fail to make dinner, and/or eat in general.

  11. Overt rumination about murder, fear, revenge, evil, and/or world-conquest leading to extensive research and placement on the TSA watch list.

  12. Unusual or intense need for colorful verbs accompanied by an aversion to the word “was.”

  13. Periods of anxiety regarding commas.

  14. Unrepentant willingness to jeopardize a significant relationship, job, or educational/career opportunity due to a need to finish a chapter.

  15. Thrives on creating conflict and will often escalate disputes to the point of violence.

  16. Uses fictional fantasy words in Scrabble and argues that they should count as real words.

  17. Writing is continued despite a persistent physical or psychological problem that is exacerbated by staring at a laptop.

  18. Frequent disruptions during sleep to jot down a section of dialog.

  19. Tends toward exhibitionism and “showing” it all.

  20. A compulsive need to write about something, including not being able to write.

Do you have Writeritis?

Peace – #Writephoto

In the end, I returned to the sanitarium. This time by choice and without the reams of commitment papers, the hustling of orderlies, and motherly coaxing of nurses. The baby-blue walls and polished linoleum shine with familiarity, and the bars feel less restrictive than I remember.

I wander the halls with a certain air of freedom, considering my state. The same doctors make rounds in their cliched white coats and spectacles. Clipboards hang on hooks bolted to metal doors, and fluorescent lights hum in group-counseling like a chorus of wasps.

Despite the harsh glare of the world inside these walls, I’d found healing here. It came with compassion, by listening to stories with a crack in my heart, by risking a touch, a tear, an act of kindness. Not toward me, but toward others. Healing wasn’t about banishing my demons, a goal that had led me astray for years. It was grounded in the audacity to love, and I’d found my courage like a tidal wave.

I pass through the locked doors into the yard, and no one minds. The heat doesn’t bother me anymore, nor the cold, though today’s a brilliant day. At the rear of the grounds, a leafy glade snuggles up against the stone wall separating us from a less forgiving world. It once was a place for smoking or sex, but cameras curbed that urge, and now a bench offers a place for solitude and reflection.

This place suits me, and I plan to stay. I could travel anywhere in the world I wish, but my calling is here. Alone on the bench, I wait.

A woman heads my way. She’s thin, her skin sallow and eyes so tired they appear bruised. One arm wraps her body, and fingers twitch on chapped lips. She doesn’t see me, but I witness a cloud of despair encasing her like a thunderhead and a soul as bright as the sun. She sits beside me, and I enclose her in my arms, sate her need for love and peace. I open a crack in her heart.

In doing so, I receive more than I give and begin to heal my last regret—that my life’s purpose manifested with such sublime clarity only upon my death.

**

Thanks to Sue Vincent for another wonderful Thursday Photo Prompt.