Moving On. Life After Samhain

samhain-logo1Even though I love having an indie press, Samhain was the reason why I decided to be a hybrid author. Even though I wasn’t able to get another book published with them–more so because I hardly write romance anymore–I was able to publish with other amazing companies like Mocha Memoirs Press and Purple Sword Publications. I also don’t believe in putting all of my eggs in one basket. Many financial advisors always tell their clients to diversify their portfolio, so that’s what I like to do with my writing business.

I don’t look at this as an end as much as I do a beginning. This is a chance for ex-Samhainers to really shine, so I hope for their sake they take full advantage of it. Self-publishing has really taken off to the point that the market is flooded. But at least, there’s a place where they can republish those books and perhaps make some pocket change from them. And even better, they get to keep almost all of it. Imagine that! They can get as much as 70% of the profits (if not more), depending upon where they publish and their price point. Again, imagine that!

Now, I understand why those authors might be bitter, too. After all, it also means they have to do all of the work for themselves. They definitely have to have new covers and market until they’re blue in the face. For those of us who are hybrids, that’s nothing new and probably why we’re less affected by Samhain’s closing. It’s a business. Period. That’s why I don’t feel like I’m losing a publisher as much as I’m gaining a new asset in my self-publishing portfolio. I’m cool with that.

So what does this mean for other e-pubs if the one of the biggest games in town is shutting its doors? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure some might want to snatch up those authors who have hit the NY Times and USA Today lists, but the rest of us are on our own. I’m sure there will be naysayers who’ll say, “Ha! You see? I knew they wouldn’t last.” Here’s a thought. If Samhain is “winding down”, which I interpret as trying to stay afloat before they head into shore, what’s going to happen to those publishers who don’t have NY Times bestsellers on their lists? How long are they going to last if they can’t meet the low price points of most self-published books? You can say what you want about the quality of those books, but the fact is self-publishing is chipping away at the traditional market. In some cases (i.e. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking), they’d already redefined it for themselves. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s a good time to be self-published, whether the market is flooded or not. Still don’t believe me? Then take a look at Author Earnings for 2016. These numbers tell me that indie/self-publishing is a major contender for readers’ attentions.

Believe it or not, I’m not trying to sell anyone on self-publishing. Do whatever you want to do. But, I had a very wise author who is not only my friend, but a USA Today Bestseller talk me off the ledge that some authors are probably feeling right now. She was the one who talked to me about self-publishing, so I took a chance. I’m glad I did, too. Even though I haven’t made anything near “rock-star dollars”, I’m happy because my books are doing more than just collecting dust on my laptop.

I’m sure there are those who feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath them. If so, then perhaps you need to make the best of those hardwood floor underneath. Everyone is too excitable in this business and I really hate the drama, the speculation, and the hate that things like this generate. Rather than shout at the rooftops about how unfair it is and feeling duped, authors needs to actually tend to their business. The business of writing and putting a plan in action to take care of their assets. Leave the emotions out of it. Better yet, leave that stuff for your next manuscript. The last thing a customer wants to see is an author whining about how their precious publisher abandoned them. Customers would rather see the results of your hard work.

 

Cover Reveal – IF I SHOULD DIE

cover art - MEDHere’s the cover reveal for If I Should Die.  It’s an 18,000-word vampire romance that’s different from anything I’ve written in several ways.  First, it’s a short story.  Second, it’s a vampire romance, something I never thought I’d write.  Third, the heroine is a single mom with a couple of kids.  Let’s face it.  As a single mom, it’s nice to have a paranormal romance that I can relate to.  😉

Here’s the blurb…

Dr. Clarice Adair is a single mom with more than just a truckload of children to worry about.  Centuries ago, she was the vampire companion of a descendant from Elizabeth Bathory.  Today, she’s free and living a “somewhat” human life with all of the sensual cravings of a woman who hasn’t been touched in years.

Sebastian Bova has seen a lot in his two-hundred years.  But, he’s never seen anything as extraordinary as the serum developed by Dr. Adair that can turn a rabid vampire into a tamed pussy cat.  He wants her secret and will have it.  Temptation was never a part of the plan, especially with a single mom who has a bunch of mouths to feed.

Centuries of searching have brought the descendants of Bathory to Clarice’s front door and they’re not leaving with out her.  She’s ready to fight a losing battle to protect her loved ones, unless Sebastian can win over the protective, single-mother’s heart on time to help save them all.  An all-or-nothing battle is brewing and even the winner might not come out on top.

Release Date: 3/25/2013

No 2011 Recap Here

Everyone is talking about 2011 recaps on the blogosphere.  I’m not because I don’t care to recap 2011.  It’s not that it was a bad year.  In fact, it was better than I expected.  I’ve had tons of fun starting up Dusk Till Dawn Books, watching my little one grow to an astounding two-years old, and seeing my day-job career hit heights I never thought possible.  My gut is telling me that 2012 is going to be an equally amazing year for me, so let’s forge ahead already.

Of course, there are a few things that need to be said about 2012.  🙂

Let’s start with the 2011 tablet/ereader purchases.

If you’re like me, you’ve received either an ereader or a tablet for Christmas.  I’m expecting this to arrive at my local Walmart any day now.  🙂  Since my hot water heater shafted my plans to get a Nook Tablet, I started perusing the cheaper tablet line.  I can’t afford–and refuse–to put a lot of money in a something I haven’t had any experience with.  I’m betting I’m not the only one either.  So once we’ve had our experience and have a better idea of what we want, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of ereader and tablet purchases increase.  The more the word gets out, the more confident people will feel about getting one themselves.

As for paper, again, I said back in this post that paper isn’t going anywhere and I stand firm on that.  Paper books will lessen just like the selection of authors to choose from.  Advances are shrinking for unproven authors and those sitting on the mid-list.  Agents and editors will scavage from the ebook successes that have hit lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to find their next client.  Of course, that’s going to cost them because those of us who are going indie or self-publishing aren’t stupid.  We know our bargaining power better than ever.

I have a feeling that readers are going to love the numerous choices they have these days.  They don’t care who the publisher is the format the book is published in.  They care about the story.

What kinds of stories readers wanting in 2012?

Your guess is as good as mine.  I don’t think paranormal is going anywhere anytime soon.  Yes, the market is crowded and a story needs to “stand out”, but standing out is in the eye of the beholder.

I wouldn’t be surprised if horror found a new audience with the whole zombie thing.  I don’t think people are into splatter for the sake of splatter or grossing out for the sake of grossing out.  People are smart and they want smart horror.  No more cars that won’t start, dying cell phone batteries as the killer is after their victim.  Oh, and if the idiot victim trips and falls, she deserves to die.

I think things like women’s fiction and contemporary romances are going to only get better and be in more of a demand.  They say erotica is flat right now, but I don’t foresee it staying that way.  Historicals have been a nice discovery for me this year, as well as YAs.  But, I think the demand for YAs will start to deflate because there is just too much right now.  Teens grow up and want more grown-up books.  Even my love for YA books has dropped off substantially because I want that more grownup read.

My hope is that sci-fi will take off.  I love sci-fi, but it’s hard for me to find stories that match the incredible story lines like Firefly, Star Wars, or ET.  I’m a huge Stargate fan, though not with Stargate Universe.  I’d love to find something that grabs me by the throat like Blade Runner or Road Warrior had.  But like I said, I just can’t find it.  One of my favorite movies of all time: Aliens.  I’d give ANYTHING to find something like that on the bookshelf.  So that’s why I say it’s my hope that something will emerge this year that will take readers by storm the same way Stephanie Meyers Twilight did.

What about audio books?

Honestly, I don’t have clue.  I haven’t invested enough time in researching that market yet and not sure I want to at this point.

So who’s going to win the ebook race?  Traditional, epubs, or self-pubs?

It’s easier to tell you who’s not going to win and that will be traditional.  They’re not going to lose either, but they’re late to the race and have a lot of catching up to do.  And, if they don’t do it right, then they will fail.  Epubs are going to be fine because they know what they’re doing and have been for the last 10+ years.  As for indies, we haven’t reached the cusp of our potential.  More mid-list authors are moving toward indie/self-publishing because they’re being dropped by their publishers.  Fans still want their stories, so they’ll answer the call and make more money than they could’ve ever imagined.  They’ll move away from their horrible 6% ( I think that’s what it is) royalty rate once they realize 70% is so much better.

Marcia, what will you be doing this year other than writing?

I’ll be trying to figure out ways of promoting Dusk Till Dawn Books as a whole and not as a book at a time.  That’s how other pubs like Samhain and Loose-Id do it and it’s worked very well for them.  Well…finding good books has, too.  😉

What kinds of hopes do you have for 2012?

My Sales Suck

I find it interesting that hardly anyone ever talks about their sales when they suck.  When they do, about 90% of their blog post turns into an argument against self-publishing.  Well, I’m proud to stand here and confess that my sales suck AND…I have no regrets about going indie.  🙂

Now when I say my sales are crappy, I’m comparing them to other authors I know who are doing quite well, which I really shouldn’t do.  However, when I compare my sales to my original expectations and views toward self-publishing, they look pretty good.  On average I’ve been selling about 10 copies total per month.  With numbers like that, I should be tearing my hair out and screaming “F*** it!” until my lungs burn dry.  There isn’t any, “Wow, look at me!  My sales are going up every month!”  They are what they are and that’s okay.  In fact, I LOVE it when my indie friends are hitting leaps and bounds they never thought possible.  I just wish there was a better way for me to express how happy I am for them than just saying it on this blog.  You just have to take my word for it.  😉

Now before you start thinking this is a pity party, do me a favor.  Keep your pity for yourself because I don’t need it.  Read on to find out why.

There are reasons for why my sales are so low, and the biggest one has to do with my lack of marketing more than anything else.  People always tell me you have to bust your ass to get your books in the hands of readers.  Yeah, I already know that, so I don’t need that recycled advice.  Seriously, folks.  I don’t.  Having sold a few thousand copies of Stripped and Unstable Enviroment, I know how important marketing is.  But what people don’t know is that I wasn’t a single mom back then when those books came out, which means devoting 6 hours a day toward marketing and promo wasn’t a big deal.  Today is a different day.  When I come home from my day job, my priority is my daughter.  Not writing.  It’s a choice I’ve made and I’m loving it.  Although, I swear my child was advanced when came to the “terrible twos” stage.  😉  But, I love her all the same…especially when she crawls into my bed at night and wants to cuddle.  NOTHING can compare to the love that’s been cultivated between us.  Not writing.  Not publishing.  In fact, she’s the reason why I chose to go indie.  I get to continue to do what love by setting my own pace and working it around her schedule.  Not a publishing house’s.

So, my sales aren’t that great.  Big deal.  The point is I have a LONG time to find out how much they stink because as JA Konrath says, ebooks are forever.  Or maybe that was Dean Wesley Smith.  Hell, if I can keep it straight anymore.  I just know that these guys have some valid points that really resonate with me when it comes to doing it the indie way.

When I decided to embark on this journey, I wanted to do it the right way.  I figured out how to format my books for Smashwords, Kindle, and Pubit!.  I figured out CreateSpace so I could have my books in print, too.  I wanted a publishing imprint because–to me–that ramps up the legitimacy and seriousness of my publishing path.  Hiring editors and cover artists were a must.  This had to feel and look as legit as possible and I’m having a lot of fun doing it.  That’s also why I have no regrets. I like the freedom of getting my work in the hands of readers without a middleman.  I can’t tell you what everyone is saying about my books because I don’t follow the reviews that closely.  I just look at the average-star rating on Amazon, and then, go about my business.  That’s it.  So far, so good.  I’ve got no complaints.  In fact, my self-pubbed books are beating out my non-self-pubbed books in terms of ratings.  🙂

So since I can’t do much marketing because motherhood comes first, I do what I can with what I’ve got.  I’ve hired Author Island to help me with some promo.  I’ve emailed a few bloggers to review my books.  I’m also going to do signings at conventions/conferences next year, which is my most favorite promo of all.  Oh, by the way.  One of the coolest things about doing it yourself is you can guarantee your books will be at a signing.  When you ask for five copies, you won’t get stuck with taking home twenty.  Anyway, I try to stay somewhat active on Twitter and Facebook, though it doesn’t always happen.  I try to blog at least once a week, but you guys know how that goes.  I have a website and a Goodreads page.  The only way I can chalk up my lack of sales is because I don’t do nearly as much promo as everyone else does.  Luck isn’t on my side, I don’t have the golden touch, and I refuse to become a promo whore .  I believe in staying the course and letting readers decide if my books are worth word-of-mouth spread.

Whatever you do, please, don’t take this as a woe-is-me post.  Take this as the flip side (a.k.a. non-milk-and-honey side) to self-publishing.  My books aren’t on bestseller lists and they haven’t been chosen for anyone’s book of the month club.  They are what they are and that’s fine by me.  After all, I have this little one to make me feel like I’m the luckiest women in the world.  😀

Sarra Cannon, Silent Scream, and The Spider Inside Her

First, if you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, my friend, fellow HCRW member, and incredible indie author extraordinaire Sarra Cannon will be speaking at the Durham Regional Library today from 1-3pm about self-publishing.  I so can’t wait to show her my support, since she’s one of the few people who had confirmed my thoughts about going indie.  Oh, and did I mention this chick is a Kindle Best-selling author who has sold more than 20,000 books in her Peachville High Demons series?  Needless to say, I had no problem with giving her a shout-out at ConCarolinas, along with a few more of my indie friends.  😉

Second, I’ve been hit by the creative bug with a great idea for Silent Scream (book #2 of my Bittersweet series).  One thing I’d like to note is this book will probably be a tad shorter than the first (approx. 60,000 words) because that’s all I have plotted so far and it seems like a complete story.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to give enough information so that you won’t have to read the first book to understand this one.  Thanks to MTV’s Teen Wolf series for exciting my muse.  And before you go there, no werewolves (or vampires) in my YA series.  They’re all homeschooled.

Third, and most important of all, I’ve seen the cover for The Spider Inside Her and all I can say is Jax is truly an artist who knows her stuff.  OMG, I can’t wait to reveal it.  I have to because I’m having her do a few tweaks before it’s finalized.  It was hard trying to make the image I chose dark when it started out more fantasy-like.  But, she did it.  Even better, my mother took one look at the picture and said, “It looks like the spider is trying to control the woman.”  Holy crap!!  My mother, the infamous rag-magazine-only reader, totally got it.  Fan-freaking-tastic!!  Fingers crossed others will, too.  I’ve got nothin’ but love for Jax.  😀

What’s been exciting you there days?

Why Indie Works for Me

I know why indie publishing works for so many authors.  They like feeling empowered–raising hand–and going straight to their readers without a middleman.  Those things appeal to me, but there are more.

1. Write to my own schedule. 

One thing that worried me when I was pursuing the elusive NY contract.  Deadlines.  Pre-mommy days, I made all of my deadlines for all of my previous books with time to spare.  Now that I’m a mom, my free time is dedicated to Baby Girl.  Unless NY paid me enough money to quit my day job–seven figures–that won’t change.  The only reason why I can put out as many books as I have planned for this year is because most of them are already written and need polishing.  Polishing is a lot easier and faster than first-drafting.

2.  Experiment with endless possibilities.

I’ve been trying to write something “fresh” for so long that it’s hard for me to stick with one thing for more than one story.  I’m trying, but it’s like I have ADD with each book I write.  I like trying new and different things.  Things not thought of before.  My Hex Series is really easy to do because it’s basically a series of interconnected stories where the focus is around curses.  I don’t think I could get away with that in NY.  In fact, I don’t know of one Urban Fantasy writer who does stand-alone novels.  So, going indie let’s me be bold and gives me the ability to try something different. 

3.    Getting paid.

Bittersweet isn’t a blockbuster.  It might take a long time before it is, assuming it ever happens.  But it’s done one thing for me that my other back-burner stories haven’t.  It’s making money.  Since it’s debut on March 4th, I’ve only sold 31 copies with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords combined.  That’s $64 more than any of my back burner stories.  And to think Bittersweet was about to join them.  Thankfully, I believed enough in this story to be too bullheaded to shelf it.  $64 amounts to two large packs of diapers, some baby wipes, and a talking (Not Tickle-Me) Elmo doll that my daughter loves and is driving me nuts.  😆  But the hilarity that belts out of Baby Girl whenever she flips Elmo’s mouth open and he sings or laughs back: priceless.  So yeah, Bittersweet is a huge success for me.  😀

Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my. Where are we headed?

I survived StellarCon and had a blast.  OMG–I am so going back next year, as long as they’ll have me.  And as long as I’m on the topic, MystiCon was fun, too.  It was smaller than StellarCon, but definitely had some very cool programming.  I loved all of my panels from both conventions.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my.  Where are we headed?  panel.  But since I couldn’t, I thought I’d bring my views here to my blog.  And keep in mind, the majority of us were readers before we were writers.  So, this is a topic that pertains to both. 

First, I believe the more technologically savvy readers are, the more likely they’ll be the ones to decide who will rise in the publishing world.  If you don’t believe me, think about cells phones.  Once the technology improved and the prices lessened to where everyone could afford one, they took off.  Some seemed to be more connected to their fancy phones these days than the one that’s plugged into the wall at home.  It’s only a matter of time before ereaders do the same.  And even though there are  many readers who love the tactile feel of the paper between their fingers, are they really interested in paper or the actual story?  Sorry guys, but I buy a book for the story. 

So where does that leave readers who cling to the paper?  Right where they are now.  They’ll still be able to hold a book in their hands (though their choices will lessen) and here’s why I say that.

Contrary to some beliefs, print-first/traditional publishing won’t die a horrible death.  They will only keep those authors who they know will sell out of their advance.  After all, they’re in this for the money and they’re losing it with every author who hasn’t proven themselves as bestsellers.  That means publishers take less chances than they are now and offer fewer advance dollars.  Again, they’re not going out of business.  Just decreasing their print runs–no thanks to the Borders demise–and their offerings.  

This is assuming those publishers embrace ebooks the right way (lesser prices) and they pay their authors a %40 royalty rate.  The more traditional publishers concentrate on ebooks, the more there’s a chance they’ll see their bottom line strengthen.  Ebooks will give them the revenue they need to keep authors in print and their lights on.  After all, ebooks have increased 135% in sales this past year and it keeps getting better.  Mass market, hardcover, trade paper, etc.  They’ve all gone down.  Granted ebooks are still a small part of the market shares, I have a feeling it won’t be like that for much longer.  Not when people care about their bottom line as much as the publishers do about theirs.  😉

Epubs who got it right from the get-go or have taken time to earn their reputation, will be around for a LONG time.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they become major players in the publishing world.  They’ve been at this game for a while and know the ins and outs.  Even better, they adapt way faster than a traditional pub can.  When I first came onboard with Samhain, it seemed Chrissy Bashear was working left and right to get our books available in every format and outlet possible.  Her willingness to seek out new opportunities has yet to slow down.  It took how long for NY to catch on?  Epubs have been at this business for years, so they know how to sell an ebook. 

As for indie pubs, I have no doubts they’ll survive simply because it’s our world to do whatever we want.  We take our work to the readers and don’t look back.  There isn’t an editorial review board or a marketing board to go through.  No senior editor or an agent involved.  It’s all about the writer having direct access to their readers.  I think it’ll only get bigger, with traditional and e-pub writers getting into the mix.  Indie authors are already forming groups to cross-promote their books and make sure they reach as wide an audience as possible.  If anything, this will become the largest field with the most choices available.  Now will they be good choices?  I can’t say.  It’ll depend who decides to go the extra miles of hiring competent editors, cover artists, and getting honest/constructive feedback.  It’s a reader’s oyster as much as it is the writer’s. 

Personally speaking, I still haven’t taken my eye off NY because they have the massive distribution channels that indie pubs don’t.  I see them as the ultimate marketing tool for my indie-published books.   When I’ll dip my toes in those waters again, I have no idea and it’s not really my focus right now.  I’m concentrating on building Dusk Till Dawn Books

Agree or disagree?  I’d love to know everyone else’s thoughts.