Month: April 2011 Page 1 of 3

Coupons for free stories this weekend only

Okay, I ran late this week, so I’m providing coupons for 2 stories:

Death by Chocolate – DY58W (good through Monday)

The Business That Must Be Conducted in the Dark – EW39P (good through Monday)

If you liked them, consider a) donating or b) writing a review.  Heck, consider writing a review if you thought they were bad.  Or just meh.  Or catch an error.  I can update these things, you know.

See the related posts for descriptions of the stories 🙂

Indypub: Cliffhangers & Serial Works

WARNING: Subject to headdesk and foot in mouth.  Please feel free to argue.  This is my learning experience, too, you know.

Okay, I haven’t tried any of these ideas yet; they’ve really only come up in the last few days, talking to fellow members of the marketing workshop.  But I thought I’d throw them out and see what came back…

With traditional novels and short stories, you’re told that each unit has to be a complete story (at least, until you make a name for yourself and can bully your way into multi-book series that don’t tie up neatly at the end of each book).  However, this was not always the case.  During the time when novels were serialized (and exchanged by lending libraries, often in thirds), units of stories were expected NOT to end in complete units, but rather in cliffhangers.

I don’t see any reason that epublishers can’t adopt the idea.

  • Write a short novel and give it away for free; sell the next novel in the series for full price.
  • Write a full novel.  Give the first half of the novel away for free, ending on a cliffhanger.  Sell the full novel for full price, with a link at the beginning that allows readers to jump to where they left off.
  • Write a serial novel, posting a limited amount of material for 99 cents, say once a month, each chapter ending with cliffhangers.  Also sell a subscription for the full price of the novel (4.99 OR 15.99 if you’re doing a POD version); readers will go on a mailing list that gets coupons for the stories every week and receive a copy of the novel when completed.  You might consider giving away the first story in the series away for free.
  • Anything you can give away for free will show up more often on free ebook sites.

One of the problems that we discussed was that some people just don’t write short stories.  I think serializing a novel (you don’t have to write it as you go; you can write the whole thing and break it up later) would be a good way to keep attention on your works if you’re not a short-story writer.

What are some other possibilities?

Death by Chocolate on sale!

Now at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Death by Chocolate

She could have everything she ever wanted…except chocolate.

Ellie can’t see it, but she’s a saint. A good girl who takes care of her Grandie at the nursing home, recycles other people’s trash, and worries about getting her loans out on time so she doesn’t inconvenience her customers.

It’s too much for the Devil to resist: is Ellie good, or is she just boring? He makes her a deal. She can be thin, pretty, and immortal…as long as she doesn’t eat chocolate. Ever. If she does, she’s going straight to Hell.

Except Ellie doesn’t like chocolate, so he better find something—or someone—better to tempt her with. Then the bad boy at the top of Ellie’s sexual bucket list appears. Coincidence? Probably not.

Ellie was a good girl, it’s sad to say. A heart full of patience and kindness and love. And the only person she had to slather it on was her Grandie, in the nursing home.

She was there when the Devil found her, at Sunnyside Oaks, on a dark and stormy night in late October, when the leaves skittered like spiders on the sidewalk, and the half-bare branches lashed under the wind, the eerie glow of streetlights flickering like glaring eyes through the icy mist.

Ellie fed Grandie, who sat in one of the big recliner wheelchairs, the kind with a table across the top and cushions from head to toe, to prevent bedsores. It was six; everyone else had eaten and was being rushed to bed by sullen high school kids whose ideas of what was going to happen to them for the rest of their lives got more bitter by the shift. Grandie was down to her go-juice—applesauce and prunes—when the leaves ticking against the windows started to screech against the glass.

The Halloween decorations taped to the insides of the windows shimmered and scowled, their cute pumpkin faces and black kittens in purple hats twisting into the faces of her former classmates, laughing at her, clawing at each other, making bad gestures toward her, murdering the ghosts.

Grandie moaned, and Ellie dropped the plastic cup of go-juice in her lap: her eyes had rolled back into her head, and the whites were bright pink with blood.

“Grandie? Are you all right?”

The Business That Must Be Conducted in the Dark: on sale!

Coupon coming tomorrow from Smashwords!

Now at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

The Business That Must Be Conducted in the Dark

Does it bother you to be a slave?

(Warning:  Mature Content)

Master Zorac wants Annalise to follow him into the dark, but her programming won’t allow it…until she’s sent to capture him.

Master Zorac opened the closet door, even though it was not time for his next appointment. I blinked several times to indicate my alert status.

“Annalise, does it bother you to be a slave?” I smelled his scent, which had a sour sweat underneath its masculine perfume. Perhaps he wanted to bathe. Or to have sex and then bathe. The light was bright in the hallway, dark in the closet, and my master was little more than a handsome shadow. I smelled him. I smelled him through my skin. His smell was a caress that he didn’t know was running all over my skin. I hoped he wanted sex. “Wouldn’t it be better to be dead? If it meant that others could go free?”

Indy Publishing Series

To prepare for a talk at Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, I’ve been posting things on my regular website about Indy Publishing.  It’s a try/fail kind of thing; however, if you’re interested, the articles are here.

I’ve talked about the money I expect to make and about the fact that a LOT of people are pouring into the epublishing world at the moment.  I’ll talk about cliffhangers and serials tomorrow:  an idea I haven’t tried out yet but will soon.

Please feel free to not treat me like an expert but a researcher down in the tide pools.

Update: Death by Chocolate early release

I’m going to release Death by Chocolate, a short paranormal romance novel, this week to coincide with the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference; there will be no June release to replace it, unless I get really stupid ambitious.

The new story and DbC should be up tomorrow; look here for weekend coupons.

As always, if you review books and want to review any Wonderland Press books (or if you’re an author and want to trade reviews on something), just drop me an email at to negotiate copies.

Indypub basics: the flood of new writers

WARNING: Subject to headdesk and foot in mouth.  Please feel free to argue.  This is my learning experience, too, you know.

Here I am, encouraging you to be part of the problem and not part of the solution.  Ian says:

I think a bigger portion of the why [he’s not making Dean’s numbers] has to do with volume. In January when I uploaded my first Smashwords books, they had about 1.6 billion words published. Now they’re over 1.9 billion. So in three months, people have uploaded 100 million words worth of ebooks to Smashwords. That’s 10,000 short stories of 10k words each, or a thousand 100k-word novels. That’s a lot of competition for buyers to sift through. I suspect my sales are coming from people searching for specific tags, like “superhero” or “cyberpunk” first. The number of indie-published works is increasing at a staggering pace. I think individual sales will drop as the pool gets larger, and I don’t think repeat business is a given at all in this industry. People are fickle.

I think it’s a good point.  There are a flood of people who are now indypubbing (like me).  Yes, we are the flood.  Do I think this means that now isn’t the time to epublish?


I think the wave of new writers will burst forth for a month, two months, six months, a year, as people clean out their trunks.  Why not?  You might make some money on that stuff.

But, just as there are a bajillion people who want you to write their books for them, there are a bajillion people who have written one or two books, and that’s it.  They take YEARS to finish books.  It’s a hobby.

Being a professional writer is hard, even a self-publishing professional writer.  A lot of the self-publishers that we’re seeing now will weed themselves out.

So, that’s something to ask yourself:  Do you want to be the kind of writer who puts up one book, finds out that you’re not seeing sales (because one book is just kind of floating out there, in the middle of nowhere, like a blog with one blog post), and gives up?

Indypub basics: money

WARNING: Subject to headdesk and foot in mouth.  Please feel free to argue.  This is my learning experience, too, you know.

Okay, to begin with, I’m stealing right and left from Dean Wesley Smith.  If you’re interested in the topic and you’re not reading his (and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s) blog, you have problems.  Go read.  He’s bending over backwards to help a whole generation of writers succeed.  Let him.

First, the money.

Dean says, and so far (month 1) this has panned out.  FIRST MONTH.  No name recognition, no major push.  Just announcing things on Facebook and Twitter.  So yes, this is reasonable.

(Presuming posting ebooks at Smashwords, PubIt [B&N], and Amazon [Kindle Direct Publishing].  Short stories at .99, Short novels/collections at 2.99, Novels [50K and up] at 4.99.  Presuming you’re writing at the level of the occasional sale to semi-pro markets in your chosen genres.  Presuming you have decent covers and blurbs, too.  Not GOOD.  Just decent.)

Short stories, novels under 50K, collections:

5 copies per month, across all sites.

Oh, no!!! Only five copies a month?!?

Yes, but that’s five copies a month for the forseeable future.

On average, you’ll make .35 on each .99 sale (35% royalties).

5 x .35 = 1.75 a month, or $21/year.  For what could be the rest of your life (well, probably not, because something will change, either up or down.  But for the forseeable future).

Now, let’s say, like me, you’re writing a short story a week.

If I did nothing but post all the stories that I wrote, immediately, without submitting them to pay markets, I should, on average, make:

50 stories (2 weeks off for vacation and ease of math).

50 x 21 = $1050/year.

However, I can also collect those stories into story collections of 10 or so each, or 5 collections (priced at 2.99, profit averages about $2 each, due to 70% royalties).

5 x 2 = $10  10 x 12 = $120/year  5 collections x 120 = $600.

Again, lowball it.  Writing a story a week for a year, you should make at least $1500/year.

If you have a full-time job, you can still write a story a week for a year.

And, again, lowballing it for ease of math, let’s say that you don’t make ANY sales until the end of the year, when you have 50 stories and 10 collections done.  The first year after that, you’ll make $1500.

The next year after that, you’ll make $3000 (because you’re still writing).

The year after that, $4500.  And so on.

Unlike traditional publishing, the money from the first year’s writing doesn’t go away.  You still make money off it.  It’s like investing in real estate more than it is selling beaded jewelry.  You get something almost like rent from it, every month.

And that’s if you have NO name recognition, and nobody recommends you to someone else, etc…

And also, that’s not counting any money you could make from submitting your stories to pay markets before you post them:  when you’re selling stories, you’re only selling a period of time to the rights for those stories.  Check your contracts; if they say “forever,” walk.


I don’t have any novels out, so I’m just going to take this on faith.  I’m taking it on faith from a number of people, however, people who aren’t famous in any way.

Novels should sell, baseline, about 25 copies a month, and on a $4.99 ebook at 70% royalties, you’re making about 3.50 a book.

25 x 3.50 = $87.50  87.5 x 12 = $1050.

WHAT?!?  But that’s waaay less than a publisher advance.

But, again, it goes on forever:  $1000 year one, $1000 year two, and so on.  Granted, at that rate, it would take longer than your lifetime to make a $100K advance.  However, if you were worth a $100K advance, you’d probably be selling more than 25 copies a month, yes?  Which changes the calculations.

If you’re writing one novel (NaNoWriMo) and 50 stories a year, you’re making:

Year one:  $2500

Two:  $5000 (keep writing!)

Three:  $7500


This is something you can do and still work fulltime.

Now, writing fulltime, you have to figure out how many novels you’re going to get done, edited, and posted a year.  Also, once you sell something to the big publishers, it’s tricky to get it back, so get help before you sign a contract:  make sure they can’t screw you when it comes time to get the book back.

I’m going to shoot for nine + 50 stories over at  Crap, man, I don’t know.  But even if I only get six done and up, that’s still saying something.

I’m not going totally indy; I have four novels out on subs right now.  If they don’t get picked up in six months or a year, I’ll probably epublish them.  I’m also working on WFH projects for cash flow, and that takes time, too.  We’ll see.  It’s only been a month, and it’s already HARD being patient, waiting for sales to come in.  I know, the healthy thing would be NOT to check your numbers on a daily basis, but I’m not necessarily sane.  I’m sure the checking will wear off after a while, but it’s new.  Oh my God I made 40 cents last night has not yet lost its charm 🙂




The so-called publishing apocalypse

I’ve been getting more stuff ready for the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference today, in the middle of everything else.  I was supposed to have this all done last week, but there you go.

Anyway, I’m speaking on a panel called “Surviving the Publishing Apocalypse.”  I’ll be speaking with Ian Healy and j.a. kazimer (aka Julie).  So, really, it doesn’t matter what they call it, because I’ll be up there with people who are both friends and smart and smartasses.  Fun.*

Wow.  When did I survive the publishing apocalypse?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  It must have happened while I was asleep.  As it turns out, the big publishing conglomerates look like they’re surviving, thank you, thank you very much.  However, any number of small presses are gaining what seems like more of a foothold.  This, as it turns out, is more like it normally is in publishing (other than the last couple of decades).  What?  Returning to a near-normal state of events, and it’s an apocalypse?  Somebody get me a politician 🙂

I had a cunning plan for my part of the panel, but it didn’t pan out, so I won’t have the visual aids that I hoped for.

But here are the things that I’ll talk about, if I have time:

  • Being an epublisher/POD publisher.
  • Getting your POD books to independent bookstores.
  • Selling ebooks at independent bookstores (a possibility).
  • How to get your book listed on FREE book sites without making your book forever free.
  • How to get your indy books reviewed.
  • How to get your small press books into libraries–now and possible future opportunities.

Am I an expert on any of these things?  NO.  But the nice thing about being a n00b in a rapidly changing world is that the person willing to make an ass of themselves can get up there and facilitate the talk.  As a writer, you learn there are always people who know more than you, and there are always people who know less.

However, I’d also like to talk about this stuff in more depth, so I’ll blog about it.  Writing an article or blog, as it turns out, is a great motivator to do the research that you have to do anyway.  And it lets me cross off another item on my daily to-d0 list.

If you happen to have another indy writing/publishing topic that you’d like me to cover, let me know.  I’ll be digging into it sooner or later.

Next time:

The humble small-press publisher and independent author take advantage of the new pulp era…


*If you happen to have a time machine, please travel back to five years ago and tell me that five years in the future, I’ll imply that there are conditions under which public speaking could be fun. Bring a camera. It’ll be good for a laugh.


Maybe mornings are not the best, sharpest time to write blog posts, but that’s when I have time, so there you go.

Yesterday Ray and I went up to Dave and Margie’s house for their Easter party.  It’s funny how good times are hard to describe, but bad times made good drama.  I had a good time.  But it seemed like a lot of the people there were exhausted.  Well, with Doyce and Kate you have to expect that–new baby.  But there were gaps in the conversations all around the room, people too tired to say something funny.  And if you know that crowd, you know that’s saying something.

But we got there eventually.  The food and the coffee helped.

Toward the end of the evening, after a lot of folks had gone home (about seven?), we started talking about food tragedies, horrible accidents of food miscreation.  And some near misses.  There were a couple of funny stories about Food So Awful It Was Legendary.

I was racking my brain for something to add to the conversation, and I realized that I couldn’t, really, not because I didn’t have any, but because I’ve had so many.  It’s all part of my cooking philosophy:  push the big red button marked “Do not push this button.”

I have burned things, cooked them beyond edibility, overspiced, oversalted, undersalted, undercooked, had things fall flat, refuse to gel, refuse to freeze (that’s alcohol for you), and just be too damn full to bother eating.  High altitude cooking.  Discovering trifle.  Add that to serving food that people aren’t used to and then refuse to eat on the grounds that it’s just too plain weird.  I often warn my family that I’m in an experimental mood and that they’re going to have to at least take a bite, although they can excuse themselves afterwards for cheese sandwiches or whatever they want to make.

It’s just not funny or otherwise remarkable anymore.  Except for the part, driving home, when I realized that the dish that I’d been screwing around with that morning (Easter hummus) had barely been touched, and could be considered part of my cooking oeuvre of failure.  That was pretty funny.

It would kill me to have to do the same damned thing, reliably, all the time.  Except cheesecake.  It’s annoying, because it’s so repetitive.  But I’m good at it, so I do it, when called upon.  I’m brave.

It rained intermittently all the way home.  Ray laughed about the way the streetlights turned into streaks on the pavement; she’s not used to it.  Eventually I got off the interstate and drove through town, because it was raining so hard, and the drivers on the interstate were yelling “vroom vroom” out the window as they cut in front of me, throwing mist up faster than I could scrape it off.  Driving in the rain at night in Colorado makes it seem like a foreign place, especially with the fog, and sometimes you drive up hills that seem to have no end, and nothing past them once you go over the top.

But here I am, at home, getting ready to charge into a new project.  Dried out and needing a shower.  I should have left the window down on the way home, to soak up the water.



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