Thursday, June 25, 2015

What will you pay for books?

As an author, I'm always trying to grow my readership, and hope new readers of one book will buy the other and look forward to my next release. But as a newer author currently writing in perhaps not the most popular sub-genre, medievals, getting my books out there can be time consuming and costly.

What do you think the average self-published author earns a year (across all genres, not just romance)? Digital Book World says the median is $500-999 per year. Other sites, such as The Write Life, take a rosier view...but you have to pay attention to the source of the statistics and which books are this case, 200,000 best-sellers.

I'm very fortunate to have exceeded $999 since my first book released January 14, 2015 (my second released April 14). However, despite my love of writing, I'm debating whether the time and effort are worth the rewards. Given the expenses of self-publishing (such as great editor(s), competitive cover(s), and any promotion or marketing), even earning back what you spent can be a challenge. And the sad reality is that many--probably most--authors will never get compensated for the hours they invested in creating each book.

Why? In my opinion, there are two key reasons:
1) The proliferation of online self-published books of all levels of quality plus many authors' large backlists.

As of this writing, how many romances do you think are available for Kindle? 288,798. And 30,710 of those were released in the last 9 days.

2) The recent market devaluation of the cost of books in general.

Remember the days when you had to travel to an actual bookstore and shell out anywhere from $5.99 to $7.99 plus tax for a paperback? Now you can hop online and instantly download e-books...for free, a mere $.99, or from $1.99-4.99.

One site,, reports that in April, 2015,  the average price of romance Top 100 best sellers was $2.99. When you upload your book to Kindle Direct Press, Amazon presents a bell curve showing the price at which you have the best chance of selling the most books. 

Most of us love a good sale and enjoy saving money. But many readers now feel even $2.99 is too much to pay for thousands of words the author labored over. Thanks to the proliferation of bargain and/or free book e-newsletters such as BookBub (the hardest to get your book accepted into, even at a cost of hundreds of dollars depending on your book's genre), Bargain Booksy, and Choosy Bookworm to name just a few, readers can have access to dozens of free or discounted books every single day.

And there's Kindle Owners' Lending Library, via Amazon Prime, which allows members to download many books for free. Authors decide whether or not to place their books in the program, and get paid from a global pool of Amazon's money each month. This is great, because of course authors get nothing for books taken out from traditional libraries. But for authors of novel-length books, the payment is usually less than they'd receive from an actual sale. And Amazon announced changes to the KOLL program starting in July, when payouts will be based on how many pages each KU/KOLL reader reads. 
Here's The Authors' Guild's take on the changes. There are dozens of posts claiming this will be a good or a bad thing for authors.

It's great to have the opportunity to try a new author or a different sub-genre than you usually read for free or a low cost. But too much free, whether it's temporary or permafree, IMO, devalues books in general and raises expectations of more free stuff. Will readers go and buy that new author's next book, or wait for it to go on sale, too?

What do you think about book prices? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Do you accept advice?

When you're trying to make an important decision, do you go it alone or solicit advice? Who do you trust to guide you? Are you willing to accept you think it means you're weak/less capable, or, as platitudes say, that doing so shows you're strong?

Authors often have critique groups and/or beta readers to offer feedback. They may have an agent and/or an editor, or hire an editor who requests revisions.  

Most actors also have agents, and many work with coaches and/or take classes. We often receive direction during auditions and while on set, and of course would be remiss not to follow that. The key is being able to adapt on the spot and do as advised. I've had the opportunity to sit on some auditions, and have been surprised when actors couldn't or didn't employ a simple correction in their next take, such as "smile more." Once I took classes I'd heard from many reliable sources were beneficial, but I ended up more confused than when I began, and it took some time to unlearn that approach and move forward with trusting my choices.

Some might ignore great advice to their peril, or accept some that either wasn't good or doesn't turn out as well as they hope it will. Others are fortunate to have someone in their life with a great track record of providing helpful advice.

Writing decisions: I had two editors take different approaches with my next book. When both suggest the same change, such as adding another scene to enhance the subplot, I'm more inclined to follow it. When only one suggests something, I might do it if I agree. Yet there's a nagging doubt if I pass on something else. What if she's right, and I need to do that, too?

Acting decisions: I recently took new headshots, and am receiving feedback on which to use for my commercial and TV/film pictures. If I change my mind, of course I can use different pictures or get more taken at a later date, but what I choose to post on casting sites and have my agent submit can impact future auditions and work. I'm also taking an on-camera class and some private coaching, and am assimilating everything.

What's challenging is trusting myself to know which advice to follow. And believe I can do it well, so I can keep learning and improving.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

100 Amazon Gift Cards & Kindle Countdown Deal

I'm always seeking new opportunities to introduce my books to and connect with readers. To that end, I'm one of the sponsors of the "Find Your Next Great Read Scavenger Hunt" at Night Owl Reviews with my standalone April release, Follow Your Heart

She's a glass-painter trying to save her workshop from ruin. He's on a quest to redeem his family name and estate. When unforeseen passion makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient, will his dangerous secrets tear them apart? says, "Kaufman can certainly write an entertaining suspenseful romance and brings us a happy sigh-worthy story." And reviewers say, "As with book one, this was wonderfully written," "I loved this book," and, "Couldn't put it down till I was finished with it."

Starting tomorrow (June 12th) through July 3rd, you can enter to win one of 100 Amazon Gift Cards at NOR's scavenger hunt. The grand prize: a $250 Amazon Gift Card. There's also a Rafflecopter giveaway.  

You can join the conversation at #FindYourNextGreatReadHunt.

And who doesn't like a good sale? From June 14th through the 20th, Follow Your Heart will be a Kindle Countdown Deal...available for $.99 instead of $2.99. I hope a lot of readers take advantage of that.

Finally, an announcement is coming soon about a July opportunity. 

Thank you for stopping by and for your interest in my books.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

What makes you laugh?

Night Owl Reviews Web Hunt
I'll be participating in this event!
You know the feeling when you're in a movie theatre or at a show or even a meeting at work, something makes the entire audience laugh out loud? What is it that sparks a group of strangers to burst into laughter...dialogue, the actor's interpretation, physical action, or some synergistic combination of the above? Colleagues have a larger shared frame of reference, and so would be more likely to be amused by the same thing. 

How do directors, writers and performers capitalize on what audiences know and share to make them laugh?

One of the first things I learned when I took improv was not to try to be funny. Humor develops from the situation, the characters, and being in the moment. If you're trying to think of something funny to say or do, you're not fully listening to your scene partner or participating in the scene. IMO, improv can be even funnier than other forms of comedic performance because it's created on the spot.

With standup, sketch comedy and writing, the creators have time to rehearse or rewrite. So if the result isn't funny, what went wrong?

And how much is too much? When does funny cross over into silly or slapstick? 

I've performed in shows where something gets a huge laugh one night, but not the next. What makes one audience laugh at something, but not another?
Last week I was in a video for The Onion's ClickHole (I'll post a link when it's available). One line seemed particularly funny to me, but I wasn't sure how I'd say it to get the most out of it. I rehearsed it several different ways. When the time came, I said the line. When I finished, everyone present burst into laughter. The director then asked me to try a couple of different things on the next takes. One involved more physical action. Did that make it funnier, or detract from the humor inherent in the words? Which was the funniest, to whose eyes and ears? Which will they use? The audience is the ultimate judge.

What makes you laugh in general? What sparks you to laughter when you're reading a book?