May 1 Update

April was a month filled with distractions and not a lot of writing. My one practical move was to publish The Wedding Guests on all sites, making it widely available for the first time. (Obviously, I also need to update that page. I’ll add it to my to-do list.)

But I’m persevering — I’m still working on Grace, currently writing the climax. There will be a couple of scenes post-climax to tie up all the loose ends, and the climax itself is feeling slightly endless (if entertaining), but I do think I’ll finally finish my first draft this month. The last two weeks of the month are going to be very busy with life, though, so I’m not anticipating much writing getting done then. That means I should be writing now, so I’ll get back to it!

Happy May Day! I hope you’re celebrating spring today. 🙂

April 1 Update

It’s April Fool’s Day, but I am not going to write an April Fool’s sort of update: it would be inevitably disappointing.

The real update: I focused on Grace in March. (Well, and on living an entertaining and joyful sort of life, but that’s not what we care about for this blog. If you want to read more about that, you should visit sarahwynde.com 🙂 ). I’m at my goal of 80,000 words, or pretty close, but still not finished. I do have a plan for the ending and I’m hoping to reach it by the end of April, even though I think it’s about 20,000 words away. But I’ve made it farther than I ever have before and I have no plans to start over again, so that’s definitely progress.

Oh, and a beta reader read what I currently have and enjoyed it, so that’s a good sign that it might someday turn into a real book. Yay!

In other words, no real news, but progress.

March 2017 Update

I worked steadily on A Gift of Grace throughout February, and got about halfway through my goal of 20,000 words. (Specifically, I’m now at 69,106 words with a goal of 80,000.) Progress, but unfortunately my end doesn’t feel any closer. I also have to keep resisting the urge to go back and revise previous chapters. This book feels like a world I’m living in, instead of a story I’m telling. But I’ll be continuing to work on it, of course.

I also worked reliably on two of the short stories I wanted to finish, both of which are turning into novellas, not short stories. One, currently titled Ella and Lila, which is not in any way a real title, is up to 9400 words, and the other, currently titled The Bazkire, ditto the lack of reality, is at 14,400 words. So writing happened.

Publishing progress did not.

I’m really no closer to wanting to release anything than I was a month ago. I did, however, start posting short stories and flash fiction to a section of my website called Scribbles. These are the same stories that I was planning to include in a short story collection of a similar name sometime this month. Posting them for free is probably not a terribly sensible business decision, but I felt comfortable with it as a stepping-stone. When I hit 20,000 words of short stories that feel complete (finishing being my major problem with everything I write these days), I’ll publish a collection. Of course, if I ever finish my story about the Bazkide, I’ll probably have the 20,000 words right there!

And I said that the wrong way… not “if I ever” but “when I do.” I’m not sure why endings have become such a challenge for me, but stories require them. Maybe this month I’ll practice writing endings.

In fact, I think I’ll start now…

Thanks for reading and may your March 2017 be filled with joy and flowers!

February 2017 Update

One-twelfth of 2017 is over (approximately) so it’s time for a progress report.

Progress: slow. I spent a chunk of January trying to rework Grace, yet again, debated giving up, yet again, and finally re-read what I had and decided to work with it. Yet again.

I’m approximately 20,000 words away from an ending, I hope, and planning to try to write 1000 words a day on it, finishing this month. However, as I write that, I have to acknowledge that my February 1 post from 2016 (on my personal site) says, “February goal: to write every day, to write a lot every day, to finish this book and start the next one.” The book to which I refer in that was A Gift of Grace. Ouch. So a year later, I’m basically saying the same thing. And meaning it, too!

I am seriously considering releasing a book of short stories, which I mentioned before. My goal for that would be to finish at least two out of five unfinished stories this month — finishing being the hard part for me these days — and then post it to Amazon by the middle of March.

Based on the reports of craziness in Kindle Unlimited, I decided to pull out of the program. (Apparently Amazon is suspending authors’ accounts without notice because of high numbers of pages read, unrelated to any behavior on the part of the authors. I don’t watch my numbers nearly closely enough to know if something dubious is happening in my account and it doesn’t feel like a chance I’m willing to take.) So at some point in the next two months, I’ll post A Lonely Magic and The Wedding Guests to larger audiences. That some point will depend on when I have good internet, obviously, since it’s pretty time- and data-consuming.

I am strongly debating cutting the last chapter of A Lonely Magic before I do. Reviews say that it ends on a cliffhanger and I’m fairly sure if I remove the last chapter, that will stop feeling true. I’m debating doing that to the Amazon version, too, but it’s not a decision I’ve made yet. I did play with the cover quite a bit in December and January, though. No sign that it has made any difference to sales, but I quite like the current version.

I’ll be using my free days in KDP before I pull out, though. A Lonely Magic will be free on February 9th and 10th and then again on March 3-5. The Wedding Guests will be free on February 2 and 3rd. In other words, tomorrow! I haven’t done anything toward promoting those free days, but I might send out an email to my mailing list and/or post it on Facebook and let people know that if they want to download the story separate from the anthology, tomorrow is their chance.

So that’s the business update. I actually do feel like I’ve worked quite steadily through a lot of January — life got in the way somewhat, but I’ve been very steadily producing at least 1000 words a day on something, six days a week — and despite all of my Grace angst, I continue to think about it regularly, working on its mystifying ending. It’s obviously not been my most productive month ever, but it feels like a solid start to the year.

I haven’t been paying any attention at all to the larger business of self-publishing — the little bits I stumble across say that it’s getting harder all the time, but until I start finishing projects, I’m not going to worry about that part. (Much.) First things first and, as it has been for a year now, my first goal is to finish writing A Gift of Grace.

*Edited to change KDP to Kindle Unlimited. Got my program names mixed up!

So, yeah…

Apparently the last time I wrote a post on this site was the end of 2014. Welcome to the end of 2016!

What happened to the years in between?

A lot of life. A bunch of personal growth. A ton of learning, knowledge gained painfully and not-so-painfully.

Not a lot of writing.

I am, embarrassingly, still working on exactly the same book I was writing two years ago. And not even any closer to finishing it. A Gift of Grace has gone through numerous revisions, literally revisions beyond counting, but I’ve never managed to find its ending. I am persisting. I do have lots of good material and I hope to publish Grace in 2017.

I’ve also been writing lots of short stories, many of which will never see the light of day, but others that might someday form a collection that I am tentatively titling Scribbles of Light and Darkness.

I also still have every intention of getting back to A Precarious Balance, the sequel to A Lonely Magic, so Fen is definitely not forgotten. That’s going to be my next big project after I finish Grace, so I hope to be working on it in 2017.

And that’s the news from here. I promise I’ll return sooner than 2 years from now for my next update!

Happy New Year and may 2017 bring  lots of writing joy to me and much reading happiness to you!

Best wishes,

Sarah

2014: Year In Review, Part One, Lessons Learned

Lessons learned in 2014:

1) When it comes to marketing interns, you get what you pay for. I had two this past year. In both cases, my hope was to provide real-world job experience that they could use as a springboard to bigger and better things, as well as plenty of great details for their resumes. I didn’t set deadlines or make demands. I was open to them learning what they wanted to learn. I hoped, of course, that they’d also help me with some of the marketing jobs that I hadn’t been willing to invest my time in.

It felt win-win to me — I’d rather invest my time in helping someone learn about the business than do the marketing personally. As it turned out, not so much. Intern one — total bust. A complete waste of my time. Intern two got some great learning out of it — she learned she didn’t want to work in marketing. And she wound up getting a solid job doing something more interesting for her. I hope her work with me gave her some resume fodder — she earned that — but she did very little of the hands-on work I’d been hoping for help with. For my purposes, hiring marketing interns turned out to be a waste of my time. It’s true I didn’t waste my money, but my time is worth something, too.

2) Finding a great cover designer is crucial, but involves trial-and-error. I worked with five of them during the past year. The single cover I spent the most on doesn’t exist, because I finally gave up on the artist. The cover package I spent the most on (covers for multiple books) was… fine. But I posted those covers thinking, well, I can always go back to the originals if I feel like it. That’s not really a good sign. Two inexpensive options left me with the itch of dissatisfaction — both reasonable covers, but not somehow there.

All in all, investing in covers — while a good and necessary decision — left me less satisfied than creating my own. Should I have seen warning signs ahead of time? Maybe. I wouldn’t again pay for stock photos until I’d seen a design using comps, or hire a designer because I liked his aesthetics without thinking about his genre knowledge.

That said, the final covers from the final artist delighted me. With close to $2000 spent on covers this year, it was largely money invested in learning what worked and didn’t work, but I’m (mostly) satisfied with my end results.

3) Tracking expenses & income and doing taxes is tedious, and a lot more efficient when done promptly rather than trying to put the pieces together later. I’m good at math and competent in general, perfectly capable of managing this part of the process, but after almost a year in business, I would definitely rather be hiring an accountant. It’s not likely to happen this year, but that’s where my next investments in the business are going to be. Most likely, anyway.

4) I never got around to looking for acquisitions. When I started Rozelle Press, I intended to become a publisher for other people’s books, as well as my own, but the year slipped away from me. I feel as if I didn’t get nearly enough done, but realistically, I wrote one complete book, two short stories, and have three other books in progress, each with at least 10,000 words written. I invested time and money in marketing, participated in a few promotions, blogged regularly, and tried to stayed updated on the business. That’s pretty good for a single year, especially given what 2013 looked like. For next year — well, I may be more open to possible acquisitions. But it’s harder to find work that I love than I would have hoped. I suppose all publishers feel that way!

Babelcube

A screenshot of a brazilian website showing the portuguese translation of A Gift of Ghosts
O Dom de Ver

My first Babelcube experience came to fruition on Monday. A Gift of Ghosts has been translated into Portuguese. It sold its first copy on Kobo yesterday and received its first Portuguese rating on a Brazilian website, Skoob.

Authors used to really like it when we sent them their translated copies: now I know why. Even though I can’t read it and don’t understand a word, it’s somehow thrilling to see.

But let me tell you about Babelcube, since that’s undoubtedly why you’re reading. So far, two thumbs up on the Babelcube experience. The company links translators and authors. Like ACX (the audiobook service), authors or publishers can post books for translations and translators can apply to work on specific books. In my case, the two translators I’m working with were both international readers who asked about doing translations. I haven’t found any translators through the service, but I haven’t really tried to sell the books there either.

The contract was straightforward and easy enough to understand. Of course, I’ve been reading publishing contracts for a long time, so that might be my impression only. But Babelcube takes distribution rights for five years, after which time the author can decide whether to continue to be distributed by them or not. Only time will tell whether that distribution is worth the 15% of net that they’re taking, but since they’re also saving me all the financial hassle of working with & paying a translator, it seemed like a decent enough deal to me. (If they manage to get the book into Brazilian bookstores, totally worth it, but I am fairly sure that their print option is simple POD, basically CreateSpace, and so that’s probably not going to happen.)

The payment for the translation is a royalty share on sales of the book. Babelcube gets a 15% royalty on every sale forever, while the translator gets a sliding scale rate that starts at 55% and drops to 10% by $8000 in net royalties. Roughly, if Ghosts sells 3000 copies in Portuguese, I will earn $3900, the translator will earn $2900, and Babelcube will earn $1200. After that, Babelcube would continue to earn roughly .42 per book, Elaine (the terrific translator) would make .28, and I’d get about $2.

Of course, 3000 copies sounds like a lot. I don’t routinely add up my book sales anymore, because it’s a lot of work, but for the sake of proving a point that I failed to prove, I went ahead and added up units sold of A Gift of Time. It’s sold approximately 1723 copies since its release about 8 months ago, which is actually better than I expected and makes a 3000 unit goal seem possible, at least. A little more math: Brazil has a literacy rate of over 90%, a population of over 200 million people, and a last reported total number of ebooks (May, 2013) of 25,000. Oh, and approximately 50% of the population has internet access. Those numbers are nicer than I envisioned–and obviously, don’t even take into account any readers from Portugal. I didn’t bother to do any of that math before. Elaine was interested in translating and the total cost to me was the $15 it took to update the cover to Portuguese. It felt like a no-brainer. If I sell 20 books, I earn back that $15 so for me, anything else is gravy.

Anyway, Babelcube’s interface was extremely easy and clear. They report sales figures immediately–which is how I know that I’ve sold a book on Kobo already–but I have no idea how payments will work. I’ll have to report back on that one later.

Meanwhile, O Dom de Ver. I like it. 🙂

Tomely

Oh, my God, Tomely.

They’re sort of like someone said, “Hey, what’s your fantasy in a book selling site?” and I drew a map.

I drop an epub onto their image and suddenly, an epub and a mobi exist, with the meta data updated to the book description. I set the price and then set discounts for people who tweet or FB-mention the book. I get 80% of the sale price, delivered via Paypal the moment the reader buys. Okay, doesn’t this sound insane?

It does sound insane.

I’m waiting for the catch.

But meanwhile, I’m taking full advantage of the promo codes that let me send readers a link to download ebooks in whatever format they choose.

And within the week, all the book links on all of my sites are going to be updated to Tomely only. Sure, it’s nice to link to Amazon and B&N and Apple and Kobo–but reality check, every Tomely sale gets me more money, plus provides my readers with both formats so that they can read on any device they like. I’m not going to discourage readers from buying anywhere they like, but why should I send them anywhere else? And the joy of managing one link on all those pages instead of an endless and ever-growing number is worth something to me.

There might be a catch. I’m always a skeptic. I won’t be surprised if something goes dramatically wrong and Tomely disappears. But since they’re paying *immediately* (did I mention that before? IMMEDIATELY!!), I won’t have too much at stake if they do. And meanwhile, I get to send people codes instead of waiting patiently for five minutes while files upload. Woo-hoo!

Tomely.com. Go check them out. Buy books from them. I can’t imagine a better way to support indie publishers and an innovative marketplace. Thanks, Tomely!

Kobo Milestone

The increase in sales from the BookBub ad was across the board. Google Play downloads skyrocketed with reviews indicating readers found it from the BookBub ad. I don’t know what Apple downloads of Ghosts were like, because it’s posted through Smashwords and they deliver numbers slowly, but Apple downloads of the later books (via Draft2Digital) went from a grand total of 7 units in April to 127 in May. And B&N was lovely–I earned over $1000 on B&N for the first time.

Today, though, marks a Kobo milestone: sales yesterday mean that my lifetime Kobo income broke $100. It’s a small success, but exciting nonetheless.