Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kindle Unlimited Revisited

I won't say I'm a popular author, though I do have fans. The money I make from this isn't "changing your life" money. It helps pay bills and supplements my income, but that's about it. What does this have to do with Kindle Unlimited? Well, this is still a job and money is still money.

For those who don't know, the Kindle Unlimited program (hereafter called KU) is an Amazon program which allows authors to enlist, and then they pay the authors a certain fraction of a cent per page read. In theory, it sounds great. In practice, not so much. If you're popular and you have a lot of stuff, people who are enrolled in the program read your stuff and you'll get paid a fair amount. If you're not, the pay really comes off as a pittance. I think the current rate is like 0.42 cents per page read. That's not "42", but 0.42, by the way. Not even a cent a page.

The old KU program paid a dollar amount for every time your book was read over 10%. I think it averaged out to about $1.30ish or so, which is not the amount of a sale (a $2.99 book nets the author $2.07 in royalties), but it wasn't, you know, ten cents for a short story. Predictably, there was an explosion of short stories, especially in erotica. When the KU program changed, many erotica writers moved to long form romance. Not all, but a fair few. Authors go where the money is.

I left some of my works in KU, notably the Delilah Devilshot series and the Villainess series, and pulled the others out, slowly. Taking one of my shorts, for example, which is about 6K or so in length, a complete read through is like twenty-five cents, if that, but we'll call it twenty-five cents. In order to make the same amount as a sale, eight people would have to borrow and read it. I just don't think it's worth it anymore, not even for my longer form works. I would rather have more people be able to buy it, than a select few able to read it. I'll still get sales here and there--I do on almost everything now and again, almost just as often as page reads for my older books.

However, the initial boost provided by the borrows/page reads is undeniably useful. Each time someone borrows a book in the KU program, they get a bump in rankings, which increases visibility. So, because of that, I'm going to put my new stuff in KU for the minimum three months, then pull them out and go wide, offering them on a variety of platforms. It's the best compromise I can think of. Whether it's successful or not... who knows? And I don't care (that much). Yes, I'd love to be successful, but more, I'd like to be paid fairly for the work I do. If people like my stuff, they'll buy it. If they buy it and don't like it, there's always the return policy.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Deadline? What is This Thing Called a Deadline?

I'm out of clever and/or witty titles for blog posts.

It's been a while, but I have been busy! I'm going to poke Jotham shortly to get me the cover to the next Unusual Suspects since it's done and has been sitting in my word processor gathering virtual dust. I didn't notice how time slipped away from me as "real life" work has been busy and I've been writing quite a bit on the next Villainess, The Queen of Disks. As always, I think everything is terrible and horrible, but usually upon rereads I'm surprised at how cohesive I sound. It's an odd thing.

However, the biggest news right now is that I will be in a new anthology of short stories here soon called "Twist Me". I'm not super fond of the name, but oh well. Yolanda Olson put it together and asked me to join, which I was pretty honored. The proceeds for it go to the ASPCA, and that's a cause I believe in because animals are awesome. Hence, when it comes out, be prepared for a lot of pimping of that because, well, animals are pretty awesome.

I think it's cool being invited into an anthology. That happened before with Sex & Sorcery 3, except I got paid there. Which was pretty awesome. It should help reach a broader audience. I mean, I write smutty sex and weird sci-fi and about villains and the weird west... I write a lot of stuff, but some of it has a pretty small audience. This was a nice change of pace since this story is straight up thriller/horror. It was nice flexing my writing skills there.

I also have to brag just a wee bit. The person editing it said it was her favorite of the stories. :P

With this collaboration of stories, it got me to thinking about the collaboration Bryce and I were going to do, sort of an erotic League of Extraordinary Gentlemen thing. We had a plan, a decent plot, some things sketched out, and I even wrote the whole prologue in that old timey kind of Victorian style (except more coherent), but then we both got busy. I think it might be time to poke him about it again.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Blogging for Fun and Not Profit

I think I'm going to stop advertising new releases here. I do have a mailing list, so if people want to keep updated, they can join that. I keep forgetting to post new releases here anyway in the blur of activity which covers a release. I may still show some cover art though, cause I think Jotham does a really good job.

So, what then to put here, Alana? Information and thoughts, mostly, relating to this whacky publishing biz. I've been super busy at work lately and in real life, so I haven't had too many like... revelations? Hints? Tips? Tricks? Something like that. Perhaps when things calm a bit I can offer some more information or amusing stories. As it is, right now I'm busy working on three or four different stories. It's sometimes hard to lock down one, as you guys may have read in previous blog posts. Not only that, but sometimes writing has to take the back seat as things go on. Life goes on. However, since I started this journey, I've only missed one month where I haven't published anything, and that's quite an accomplishment!

For now, I'm going through and editing #3 of Unusual Suspects, this one centering around Adira. That's a side series anyway, not super important... but it's something I love doing. Why else write if you're not writing what you love? I'm also writing another... subset of Unusual Suspects called Mindcrime. That one will be a Smashwords (and whatever affliates will take it) specific side series centering around Gerard. It will feature heavy mind control and dubcon, which is just not allowed on Amazon. I'm about three fourths of the way done with that, I think. In addition to that, I've started Queen of Disks in earnest now, so that's three stories in the Villainess universe.

Otherwise, I'm working on two shorts for the Janus Key Chronicles. I plan on finishing that series by about book 21. I've also written some stuff for the next Delilah Devilshot: The Hounds of Hades. As you can tell, I've been bouncing around a lot. Not really super for focusing, but at least I'm writing.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


I've gotten a few reviews on Goodreads lately for Dominating Her Intern... and they've been one stars. I'm thrilled people have been reading (or listening to) it! I wish they'd review it on Amazon, one star or not.

What I find kind of funny and very interesting is the aspect of the role-reversal in the story and how people have reacted to it. It's a femdom story, or female domination, so the woman's in charge. I've read a lot of BDSM shorts (with and without billionaires) in preparation to write erotica (and afterwards, of course). I made Ms. Frost, the female billionaire dom, in this story basically the same as the maledoms in other stories I've read, except a woman. The acts are geared more towards the femdom audience as well, but the attitude is virtually identical. And people hate it.

Is it dubious consent? Absolutely it is. Yes, in the story Marc CAN say no, but he's threatened with losing his internship if he says no. Would he? We don't know as he dubiously consents. It's one of the rare dubcon stories I've written (I can't actually think of another off the top of my head, but I'm sure I've written one or two more in there) as consent is a big deal to me, fantasy or not. There's no doubt Marc is enjoying his submission (hence, dubcon--it's "Ok" because he really likes it... or is it?), but people have rightfully called what Ms. Frost did as sexual harassment. They didn't like it. Yet, I've read stories with the boss and BDSM elements roughly the same (shame, humiliation, dubcon), and when it's a dude in charge, it seems perfectly OK.

I don't know why that is. Is it the double standard? Is it because it's OK for a man to be in charge and not a woman? Is it something else? Is it because the readers of erotica are mostly women and don't like seeing a man humiliated like that? (Although, it's pretty clearly stated it's female domination.)

What I can say by the numbers is that Intern has outperformed all the other Dominating singles, by a factor of 170% percent. What I mean by that is that next best performing single--which is the second followed closely by the fourth--didn't even come close to Intern. Intern is almost double in income. Certain allowances can be made for it being the first in a series. People will naturally check out a first book first and decide if they like it enough to continue to the second. However. since I have a block of the singles, five in total, which are about the same for money earners. Hence, one could expect that Intern would have made about the same amount were it not first.

Or is there another reason? It's so hard to say, it really is. Dominating Her Intern has the most reviews of all the Dominating books on Goodreads. I did put the audio up for a promotion.... oh a long time ago last year. Yet these new reviews are, well, new. What spurred them on? And the difference in sales/money is substantial between Intern and the next five highest, so why aren't there more reviews on any of them? There's like... two between all five where Intern has seven. Is it just because of the dubcon? Is it because it's the first of the series? Is it something else?

I find statistics fascinating, and so this phenomenon here has me thinking it's something else, and the only thing I can think of is the role reversal, femdom instead of maledom. I don't have, sadly, solid enough information to draw a conclusion for sure. I could very well be wrong, but it's definitely something to think about!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Narrating a Book?

As you all know, I have many audio books made of my shorts (and not so shorts). For all of these, I've used ACX to hire a producer (the narrator) to produce the book for a royalty share of every copy sold. It's a pretty nice deal, free money, quite honestly since most of my part is done and I just have to wrangle a new type of cover from Jotham. I mentioned a while back to my husband that it sounded fun to do that, to narrate a book. Much to my surprise, over Christmas, he bought me the very basics of what I would need to actually DO that: a good microphone, a pop stopper (for the layman, which was me up until a couple months ago, is that thing that looks like a spit guard for the microphone--it stops excessive popping sounds from translating through on the mic), and an arm to help position the mic.

I have successfully recorded my first audio book doing that! It's my own simply because 1) ACX has it set up so that you are either a narrator OR a producer. You cannot be both. That sort of boggles me. What if I am an author who wants to narrate a friend's book, or a stranger's, or anyone else's NOT my own? 2) It was Last Night, which never sold well anyway. Horror + erotica doesn't sell well. There may be some exceptions, but... putting actual horror in with sexy times appears to be a boner killer. 3) I wouldn't want to mess up anyone else's book until I've had some practice.

Now, I still need to adjust the audio volume--I've had to re-up my knowledge on sound mixing, which was foggy at best even when I knew what I was doing--but I heard from ACX and that was the only error. They didn't say, "God damn, you suck!" or "Jesus Christ, leave it to the professionals!" or anything like that. Just a rather nice, "One of your files doesn't meet the -60dbz threshold." Oh, whoops. It should be an easy fix.

I'll update y'all when I have more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"I Have to CREATE!" vs. Discipline

Quite often, I see posts asking why writers write and the answer usually comes back with "I JUST HAVE TO! I HAVE TO CREATE!" While I understand that urge--I have it myself--that's not true, at least not all of the time.

First, who is a writer? Do you write school reports? Blog posts? Books or stories? Tech reports? Anything at all? Congrats, you're a writer!

From the examples listed above, you can tell that I consider anyone who writes a writer, even if they have to do it for an assignment or job. While some jobs or reports may tap into creativity, more often than not they require discipline to complete, especially as a person may not be especially inspired to write a paper on what mitochondria is and what it does for the body. (But they might be; I'm not judging.)

So, let's narrow it down to writers who write fiction. Many times, writers will answer this question with "I just gotta create!" and that's great. However, there are a lot of people who choose not to write their fiction stories down and simply dream of writing the great American novel. Thus, discipline is needed to sit down and actually write. The creative impulse is important to get the whole process going, but... it's discipline which enables you to actually get it done. On the other hand, there are writers out there who write by the numbers books to just get a paycheck. Yes, there's still the creative spark present, but it's more rote, with less drive other than "I wanna get paid".

Hence, I think both are important. Without the spark of creativity, your stories will probably seem like anything else in its genre without anything really new to add. Yet without discipline, you'll never get the story out. The answer for me for the "Why do you write?" question is pretty easy: I want to and I have the time to.

Just random musings while I'm waiting to go home from work, heh.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Burn Out?

I've been having a hard time focusing this week on writing. I did, however, manage to get another short out (hurray!) and work some on the next Delilah Devilshot as well as another... but I still just can't focus. I'm writing at the same time every day. I know what's going to happen. I have no problems once I get started, yet my attention drifts every time I turn to write. Is this burn out? My mind keeps making up stories, so I don't think so.

It could be interest level. Now the Witches of Back End was a cute little series, but it wasn't something I threw my heart and soul into, and that's ok. It's fine to write a quick little sexy tale and not have it mean anything more. However, I just don't think that's my thing. When I'm working on something I love--like Villainess or Delilah--I live, eat, and breathe it every day until it's done. My mind keeps working overtime to think up twists or characters or what-have-you. With the last couple Witches shorts, I've had to double down on my drive and focus, making myself write. I could leave it unfinished, but... well, who am I kidding? No, I couldn't. I can't leave stories like that unfinished. It just... wouldn't be right. They may not be the deepest stories in the land, but it'll be whole and complete.

I've written in my writing forecast that I plan on doing two JKC inbetween each "big" work after the Witches series is done, and I will until it's finished. Again, I know where it's going and I have a plot, I just have to work up some motivation for it. What started out as light and funny and silly erotica turned serious, which I didn't mean it to be. I have to make a concentrated effort to return it to something lighter and sillier and hopefully funnier.

Some things are just easier for me to write. Horror, blood, drama... all these are easy. Lightness takes effort and work. I think more than being "burned out" or interest, I think I just have to work harder at making a quality product. It's worth the effort.