Category Archives: Selling books on Amazon

Strategies for Success

The Complete Writer
Section VII: Publishers and Self-Publishers

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. You also can find links to the chapters that have appeared so far at our special page for The Complete Writer. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

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Strategies for Success

Now that I know what I’ve learned from experience in the self-publishing game, if I were to start Plain & Simple Press or Camptown Races Press anew, here is what I would do today that I did not do when I started the enterprise.

Hire an experienced marketer with a proven track record—up front

A marketing person would be my first hire. That is where I would put most of my start-up money, and it’s also where I would invest the most effort in recruiting and personnel assessment. I would hire this person before doing anything else.

The woods are full of people who will tell you they can market books. Most of them haven’t the faintest. Some are so hungry, they will lie just to get the job, saying they understand how to engage this or that tool to attract readers and sell books. In addition, a lot of popular ideas about what strategies work are simply wrong, or are outdated.

Where do you find a paragon among book marketers? Ask everyone you can think of, in and out of book publishing.

Track down authors whose books resemble yours and that are selling well. Send each author an inquiry asking if they can recommend their marketer. Most will not respond, so you’ll need to send out quite a few queries. But sooner or later you’ll probably find someone who will refer you to their marketing agent.

Contact the local Public Relations Society of America chapter. This group’s members are working professionals in marketing and public relations. They have a jobs board and invite job postings from prospective employers.[30] Be prepared to budget some money to post an ad and to hire someone for a gig that lasts long enough to produce results.

If there’s a publishers’ association in your state, along the lines of the New Mexico Book Association,[31] attend a meeting and ask members for suggestions. Many of these groups are very active and include publishers and authors with successful track records.

Attend regional and national book fairs. Network actively and inquire among the people you meet to see if anyone can refer you to a good marketing agent.

Attend regional and national writers’ conferences. The larger, better established ones attract New York literary agents. These people do know effective marketers. They may (or may not) refer you. Nothing ventured: while you’re there, you can also ask authors who seem successful.

Budget a substantial amount of money to pay for marketing services and campaigns, which should begin before the book is published. In retrospect, it’s clear this is where the largest share of a publisher’s or author’s budget should go.

Hire a virtual assistant to handle the social media time suck.

Although the effectiveness of social media marketing is, in my opinion, questionable, it cannot be neglected. And it is very time-consuming.

This is another task to which I would dedicate a fair slab of the budget.

You or an assistant should write blog posts every day having to do with subjects related to your books or your readers’ interests. Each of these needs to be optimized for and posted at Pinterest, and then you need to post each one at Facebook groups, on your Facebook business page and on your personal Facebook timeline, at Goodreads, on Twitter, at Google+, and to the extent appropriate, at LinkedIn.

Exclusive of the blogging, which you should be doing anyway, the ditzy social media tasks can easily soak up two hours a day. That’s two hours when you’re not writing, two hours that you’re not out on the town networking, two hours that you’re glued to the computer unable to exercise or take care of your family or read or think or do anything else. And two hours is a conservative estimate.

Unless you truly love passing your time on social media, hire someone else to do this stuff.

Crowd-fund or take out a business loan to pay these contractors.

It’s always better to use someone else’s money than to throw your own down the drain. Platforms such as Kickstarter,[32] Publishizer,[33] and Unbound[34] help fund and market your publishing project. Obviously, you have to share the revenues. But these outfits can generate revenues: a share of something is a lot better than a share of nothing.

Some such organizations function like publishers, but they seem to be more flexible in terms of the kinds of books they’ll chance their money on.

Put books on Ingram right away.

Ingram provides distribution services needed to circulate books to retailers, educators, and libraries. It offers a wide variety of marketing and fulfillment services, as well as a partnership with CreateSpace, a PoD service whose reviews are mixed but which is internationally known.

I would not use Ingram’s CreateSpace for printing, because I want more control over that process than you can get by working through a gigantic faceless corporation that outsources its jobs overseas. However, I would get my books into their distribution system as quickly as possible.

Focus on person-to-person and business-to-business marketing

Early on, I discovered that the 30 Days/4 Months diet plan and cookbook sold easily and in gay abandon when I talked it up to groups in person. Campaigns to sell it on social media generate plenty of “likes” but not many sales.

Acquaintances made in writers’ and publishers’ groups report similar experiences. Almost everyone who is making any money on their books will tell you that speaking in front of groups and arranging author-signings and bookstore presentations sells more books than any amount of virtual jawing on social media.

The next stage of my marketing campaign will be heavy on presentations and in-person networking. If I could have started out knowing then what I know now, I would have hit the ground with personal presentations, radio talk-show interviews, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

Set a Target Income and Ignore All Other Metrics

No amount of “awards” or “Amazon Best-Seller” ego-stroking status changes the real measure of a business’s success: the bottom line.

At the outset, decide how much you believe your book sales should earn: $NNN per year.

Keep accurate records of your income and expenses, in Quickbooks, Mint, Excel, or a similar tool. Nothing else matters in terms of your book’s success. Many “Amazon best-sellers” earn next to nothing for their authors, and many books that do not appear in Amazon’s specious best-seller categories earn well. Pay attention to this fact.

No other device works as well to make you scam-proof.

[1] https://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/

[2] Here’s a good place to start: https://www.the-bookdesigner.com/2010/03/cip-what-it-means-how-to-read-it-who-should-get-it/

[3] http://www.bowker.com/

[4]http://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/

[5]https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?ie=UTF8&topicID=200650270

[6] http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/

[7] https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323

[8] http://www.bowker.com/

[9] http://www.creativindiecovers.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/

[10] https://www.smashwords.com/list

[11] https://www.fiverr.com/

[12] http://online.brescia.edu/graphic-design-news/7-prominent-graphic-design-associations/

[13] http://www.thecopyeditorsdesk.com/contact/

[14]http://writeablogpeoplewillread.com/about-this-course/?hop=phxgirl

[15] goodreadsucks.com

[16]http://www.salon.com/2014/10/21/battle_of_the_trolls_kathleen_hale_reveals_the_war_raging_between_authors_and_readers/

[17]http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2014/07/18/on-trolls-and-fake-bad-reviews/

[18] http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-automate-your-tweets-3-useful-twitter-apps/

[19] http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-automatically-send-tweet-when-you-publish-a-new-post-in-wordpress/

[20] http://www.pinterestforbloggers.net/

[21] http://www.networkedblogs.com/

[22] http://mailchimp.com/

[23] Victoria Strauss, “Awards Profiteers: How Writers Can Recognize and Avoid Them,” June 9, 1915. Writer Beware. http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2015/06/awards-profiteers-how-writers-can.html . In late 2016, the Writer Beware blogsite remains at http://accrispin.blogspot.com/. Don’t miss this valuable resource.

[24] “Confession: I’m a #1 Best-Selling Author…and a Nanny,” July 18, 2016. http://thefinancialdiet.com/confession-im-1-bestselling-author-nanny/

[25] Rachel Deahl, “New Guild Survey Reveals Majority of Authors Earn below Poverty Line,” September 11, 2015. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/68008-new-guild-survey-reveals-majority-of-authors-earn-below-poverty-line.html

[26] “ February 2016 Author Earnings Report: Amazon’s e-book, Print, and Audio Sales,” http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2016-author-earnings-report/

[27] Jay Yarow. “How Many Kindle Books Has Amazon Sold? About 22 Million This Year,” July 20, 2010, Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/sorry-amazon-kindle-e-books-outselling-hardcovers-isnt-that-impressive-2010-7

[28] Claude Forthomme, “Only 40 Self-Published Authors Are a Success, Says Amazon,” February 7, 2016, Claude Forthomme-Nougat’s Blog, https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/only-40-self-published-authors-are-a-success-says-amazon/

[29] Jennifer McCartney, “Self-Publishing Preview, 2016,” Publisher’s Weekly, https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/only-40-self-published-authors-are-a-success-says-amazon/

[30]http://www.prsa.org/Jobcenter/employers/products_pricing/intern_entry_level_freelance/

[31] http://www.nmbookassociation.org/about-nmba/

[32] https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/publishing

[33] https://publishizer.com/

[34] https://unbound.com/

FREE READS, Amazon, and the Price of Beans

For SEO purposes, what is our subject? The rip-off that is Amazon Kindle Unlimited. There. Now that we have the keywords in the first graf, let us move on.

So…here’s the thing: You can come here to my site and read my golden words, FREE, any time you please. Not one, not two, but three of my bookoids are serialized here, for your delectation, as *FREE READS* — oh, hallelujah brothers and sisters. But if I’m going to give my stuff away for free, I am going to give it away for free. That would be I and only I. No one else is going to profit on it, except maybe you. And that would be in the sense that maybe you will be able to derive some mild pleasure from these scribblings, in an idle moment, without having to pay for it.

Amazon, however — that fine disruptor of the publishing industry — tries to arrogate that privilege to itself. It offers several plans through which you, the “author,” can make your literary properties available to the public. One of them is “Kindle Unlimited,” a sort of lending library, whereby customers pay a small flat rate to access as many books as they please. In theory, these subscription payments are aggregated into a pool, a part of which is to be divided up among the writers who agree to offer their books through the plan. Writers are to be paid, we’re told, according to the number of pages readers read in the books they download onto their devices.

Now, we won’t even get into the matter of how fuckin’ outrageous it IS that Amazon peers over its customers’ shoulders, spying not only on what they read but on how much of it they read and when they read it. To my mind, that is unacceptable, and it is one of several reasons I do not read books in Kindle or any other electronic format.

But that is a different outrage from the outrage at hand. The outrage at hand, delivered today in the form of a report of the amount of “royalties” Amazon direct-deposited to my bank account, looks like this:

You may have to click on this image to see the details. Or not: WordPress really does not want to reproduce it in a reasonable size. But here’s what the graph above shows in spreadsheet format:

The book that I posted to Amazon using this “lending library” scheme is a cookbook and diet guide called 30 Pounds/4 Months. Somebody, somewhere, elected to download it and look at it. (To my mind one does not exactly “read” a cookbook, although it does contain chapters on dieting and healthy eating that an enthusiast might sit through from beginning to end.)

On March 31, Amazon registered that someone (or ones) read 334 print pages. The book  contains 281 pages. Explanation? a) Amazon is counting the front and back matter as “pages”‘; or b) Amazon weirdly defines a “page” as something much shorter than the standard 220-250 words; or c) more than one person read the book during an arbitrary period measured by Amazon’s software and reported on arbitrary dates. Probably, I think, the second, but who knows? Certainly not the peons who write the content Amazon peddles.

On April 3, person or persons unknown read 61 pages.

On or by April 14, someone read another 346 pages.

That adds up to 742 pages. Since the book is only 281 pages long, it means the equivalent of 2.65 copies of the book was accessed and read on Amazon.

And how much did I earn on the rental of three books?

Nothing.

That’s right: $0.00.

Not that a tiny fraction of $9.99 would matter. But it would at least not be effin’ insulting.

To add injury to that insult, Amazon embargoes any book you post on Kindle Unlimited. Give it away for free at Amazon, and you are not allowed to sell or give it away anywhere else.

No. Not even on your own website.

So if I wanted to add 30 Pounds/4 Months to the *FREE READS* here at Plain & Simple Press, Amazon could (and very well might) sic its lawyers on me.

Why, you ask, did I choose to avail myself of this self-defeating merchandising plan?

Mostly out of curiosity: I wanted to see if it actually would move books.

And yeah. It does. But interestingly, that is beside the point.

Basically what it does is force me to give away my work for free, or next to it.

Well, folks, here’s how I see this:

If you’re going to give your books away for free, you might as well give them away for free yourself, on your own site or to your favorite charities or to your friends and relatives or to your business customers or to your local libraries.

Forking them over to a vast monopolistic corporation that has set its sights on pushing all its competition out of business, homogenizing retail in the US and around the world, and dictating what manufacturers, writers, publishers, and retailers will be allowed to earn on their products is, in  a word, self-defeating.

Working for free is nothing more than slave labor. You’d do better to teach college courses on an adjunct basis — bringing up another whole generation of sheeple to work for vast monopolies for free.

You can look at it through another lens: as a hobby. And that is how I do regard the three works I’m making available to you just now, here at P&S Press. I write as I breathe…it’s what I do. I can, in the same way that I can knit a sweater or cook up a pan of lasagne, make the product of that hobby activity available to one and all for free.

That’s pretty much the definition of a hobby.

Amazon is working to redefine publishing as a hobby. If that’s what you want to do — make a hobby of your writing skills — fine and good. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s anything else.

 

Pen-Names, Pseudonyms: When, Where, Why, and How?

When and how to write under a pen name - useful stuffA friend, in the course of chatting about the Publishing Empire, asked how you go about using a pen-name, and by the way…when and where would you use a pseudonym, and why?

Well, the why can be pretty obvious: if you’re tattling on the President of the United States and the CIA, it’s probably wise to call yourself something like Deep Throat.

There are other reasons, of course. You might publish a memoir or a piece of autobiographical fiction that reflects dimly on a relative. Or maybe you write Edwardian-period romance novels and think a by-line that sounds aristocratically romantic will help sell books. Or maybe you’re doing a corporate project written by a number of people and, to avoid confusion, choose a single (real or fake) by-line.

TravelerCover-LORES-764x1024In our case, for example,Roberta Stuart” is actually five writers, all emanating pulp fiction for the Camptown Races Press imprint. Each has written several Roberta Stuart stories over time. The reason we decided to put them all out under the same pen-name was to build brand recognition: a Roberta Stuart story is short, often witty or outright hilarious, sometimes marked by magical realism, and always genially erotic. An incidental benefit is that our authors can choose to or not to reveal their role in creating the persona of the pseudonymous pornography queen. Some of their friends and relatives know nothing; other CR authors are fairly open about this aspect of their writing careers.

How do you go about it? Simply choose a name and put it on the title and the copyright page. When you apply for an ISBN at Bowker (this is an international cataloguing code — you need it to get your magnum opus into Books in Print), the form will ask you for the name of the author, which may be different from the name of the copyright holder. For all the Racy Books, I always list Roberta as the “author.”

You also can list a pseudonym at Amazon. There, it’s a little more problematic, because Amazon limits the number of pseudonyms you can use. If you publish a lot and you’ve published under more than one version of your own name, this can put a crimp on your style, because Amazon regards every version of your real name as a “pseudonym.”

This, of course, is incorrect. If your name is Robert Smith and you write as Bob Smith in some places and Rob Smith in others, none of those are “pseudo” (i.e., false) names: they’re all variants of your name.

But no amount of arguing with Amazon factotums will bring about a change in this inconvenient policy.

robert sidneyI find it particularly annoying because Amazon has glommed publications that I’ve emitted under three variants of my name. My first book, The Life of Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, was published under my full, formal name: Millicent V. Hay. A scholarly biography, it came out at a time when I still hoped for a full-bore academic career, and so I wanted it to appear under the name that appears on my curriculum vitae.

But…I happen to hate that name. As a little girl, I was bullied so fiercely throughout grade school that I became suicidal. The sappy name was a ripe target for the little monsters who made my life so miserable that at the age of 10 or 12, I wanted to end it. To this day, the name “Millicent” elicits a physical cringe reflex.

When I escaped that school and that country and started attending schools in the US, I called myself “Vicky,” a familiar version of my middle name. This worked well because it was so plain vanilla it provided no ammunition and never did spur any significant meanness among my stateside classmates.

essential featureIn the fullness of time, I became a magazine journalist: a writer and editor for a variety of local and regional publications. My byline was the name that everyone knew: Vicky Hay. I never wrote a journalistic article under any other name, and my guide to newspaper and magazine writing, The Essential Feature, came out under that name.

With the vast encyclopedia of contacts I built — I knew or knew of every top-flight writer, editor, graphic artist, and photographer in the Southwest — I decided to start a kind of finder’s service. We would put publishing clients in touch with editorial and graphic talent and, if desired, package books and other publications for them. At this time I took on a business partner, a guy who had been a public relations professional for decades.

He felt that “Vicky” was way too informal. He asked me to start using my full middle name: “Victoria.”

MathMagicWe put a lot of stuff out under that name. In one book, where I didn’t want an essay inside the book to coincide with the publisher’s name, I used my mother’s maiden name, Julie DeLong, as a pen-name. Eventually, I cowrote Math Magic with a fellow named Scott Flansburg, and of course used the fancy middle name: Victoria Hay, Ph.D. That one turned into a best-seller, thanks to Scott’s high-level marketing skills.

Now I decide to experiment with self-publishing, pretty much for the Hell of it…and that’s when Amazon informs me that I can’t publish under the name Roberta Stuart because I already have three pseudonyms.

Which are NOT pseudonyms.

So how do you copyright material written under pen names? Anything you create in a reproducible medium — including writing — is automatically copyrighted as you create it. You own the copyright on it by virtue of your having made it. You can publish it and copyright it under any pen name you please. The copyright will always belong to you, unless you choose to sell some or all of your rights in the work.

Plain & Simple Press and Camptown Races Press are both imprints (effectively DBAs) of an S-corporation, The Copyeditor’s Desk. Because receipts come in to the corporation and contractors’ fees are paid by the corporation, I register the copyrights in our works to the corporation. The corporation buys all rights to subcontracted works, and the corporation owns the copyright in everything it publishes.

This provides a corporate veil between the principals (me and a business partner) and the doings of the business. Sometimes this can come in handy. And it certainly simplifies the tax accounting.

If you’re just one little person publishing one little book or one series of books, there’s no reason for you to get elaborate, as long as you dutifully pay your income taxes. Just publish the thing under whatever name you please.

She’s b-a-a-c-k…she thinks

Will anyone read this? I have NO idea.

Really. I have no truck with things technological. In the first place, I don’t have the patience to make them work. And in the second place, I don’t fully understand how they work, and so what would be a frustrating time suck under the best of conditions quickly turns into a hair-ripper of the first order.

This site has been one of the prime hair-rippers. It’s been off-line for a week or so because we haven’t been able to get it online at the new web server. Sites have been up and down, no explanation has been forthcoming, and when my Guru asks, he gets con

ARRGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Oh, I give up. The damn system just deleted 30 minutes worth of writing! I hope that within another week we’ll be at another website host. Maybe things will work better there. Otherwise…well, I guess I won’t have much choice but to throw in the towel and go back to teaching freshman comp. I’m sure not going to make any money at publishing if I can’t get a website that will stay online and work!

Please check out my new books:

Fire-Rider, Book I: A Gift for the Kubna

Fire-Rider, Book II: The Spoils of War

I’m sorry. I am too discouraged to go on. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, I’ve been working since 6:30 or 7 a.m., and though I’ve gotten stuff done, nothing, but nothing is working the way it should. I can NOT handle any more!

Writing Enterprise: Nose permanently attached to grindstone

Actually, I believe my nose has grown onto the grindstone, sort of like a tree trunk growing around an object in its way. Progress is being made on the new Racy Writing enterprise, but as usual everything has to crash on my head at once, so I can’t focus on the specific tasks at hand without distraction.

The last freshman comp course I will ever have to teach (I sincerely hope!) is now over and grades are posted. No one flunked, thank God, and only two got D’s. So that’s a mercy, and it’s also one distraction permanently off the table.

A week or ten days ago, I compiled a list of Über-To-Do’s needed to change heading for The Copyeditor’s Desk and its imprint, Plain & Simple Press. Tacking this particular ship into the wind is quite an undertaking. I figured if I could do three of the following per day, in a week or so I’d be ready to devote most of my time to writing and publishing short racy squibs.

Move the Blogging Empire, which consists of a lot of sites, from my web guru/friend’s server to WestHost.

Said friend does a wonderful job of wrangling websites, but he’s a young dad of four who recently landed his Dream Job in the corporate world.  Bizarrely, though, Dream Jobs require you to work, and since this guy isn’ta slouch, you can be sure every living, breathing moment of his life when he’s not caring for his family is spent working. So he folded most of his small IT business when he jumped on the commuter train. He kept a couple of his old clients, including moi, but it soon became apparent that he was going to need some time to have a life.

Another blogging friend referred me to her back-end Web guru. At this time we’ve moved the passel of websites to the self-hosting server. In the next few days, the new guy will reorganize the sites (well.. re- is not operative for something that’s grown up like topsy: he’ll organize them into something rational.

Writers Plain & Simple remains alive, despite WordPress.com threatening to close it down. We will move it over to WestHost and make it a subdomain of plainandsimplepress.com, the site for my S-corp’s Plain & Simple Press imprint. Watch this site, and please…try not to get lost! 😀

Assign remaining ISBNs to upcoming books.

Mooted. You have to have the cover art to do that, and I still haven’t been able to get the artist off the dime. He says he’s done about half of the covers for the Fire-Rider series.

Purchase another 100 ISBNs.

Done. All upcoming books now have informally “assigned” ISBNs, which at least I can enter on the copyright pages. Officially inscribing them with Bowker will have to wait until (yesh…) the artwork surfaces.

Set up Excel spreadsheet to track ISBN purchases and assignments.

Done.

I really need a database. Access didn’t come with the version of MS Office I bought for the Macs. And come to think of it, I don’t even know if Access will run in the Mac environment. In any event, it’s been so long since I’ve used Access, the re-learning curve would be excessively high…so for the nonce I’ll have to make do with Excel and Quickbooks.

Experiment again with using PowerPoint to create cover art for e-books. Check out that link: King’s covers don’t look staggeringly awesome, but they’re sure as heck good enough for genre fiction. And believe me, folks who buy the kind of stuff Camptown Races Press will publish are not buying it for the covers. 😉

To do, pending download of some stock art.

Actually, in the past I’ve tried following the guy’s how-to steps with an ordinary photo and found that it’s easy to do. Remains to be seen whether I can faze the result past Amazon and Nook. But…huh…if he can do it, so can I. By golly.

Buy a month’s subscription to Shutterstock and download as many images as allowed.

Pending.

Before I actually pay for a subscription, I wanted to find and compile lists of images fitting as many categories as I imagine the naughty novelettes will require over the next six months to a year:

Biker stories
Ghost sex stories
Traveler stories
Banner images for websites
Generic sexy images
M/M
W/W
Threesomes of various combinations
Racial configurations of various combinations

Create an Excel workbook with spreadsheets to keep track of stock art and public domain images

Done.

Did I mention that I need a database?

Study the user manuals for the Friedlander templates used to compile the stories in hand. Study the user manual for Calibre. Figure out how to use Calibre to convert from Word to Kindle and ePub formats.

Done, sort of.

Today I will try these on the cookbook and hope to get the thing online, around the ongoing hassles of trying to straighten up the sites on WestHost, which as we scribble are consuming more and more time.

Because the diet/cookbook has a lot of lists, formatting it may be difficult, and so I don’t want to just hand it over to Amazon to do the conversion. If I can’t do it myself, then I’ll hire my ebook guy to do it…but of course, that means it will be weeks (if ever) before it goes online.

The novelettes and the Fire-Rider serials have virtually no elaborate formatting: no subheads, no lists, no tables, no images. So I think those can simply be uploaded to Amazon along with their cover images.

Learn specs for Kindle and Nook covers.

Done.

Learn how to upload content to Nook.

Done.

Write proposal and cover letter for Boob Book.

Done

Find a half-dozen agents or markets for Boob Book. Send proposal to the first of those.

Done.

Learn how to upload files to Snowflake Press for print-on-demand; do so for Slave Labor and order ten copies.

Under way. To be completed today, I hope. Maybe.

Learn how to sell hard-copy books on Amazon and do the fulfillment in-house, not through fulfillment by Amazon.

Later!

Publish the diet/cookbook in e-book format on Amazon.

Pending: whenever I figure out how to get it formatted propertly.

Establish an account and publish Slave Labor and the How I Lost 30 Pounds in Four Months on Nook.

Later!!

To accomplish most of these little tasks in a week or so has required me to start at around 5 in the morning and work all the way through, without stopping except for a few snacks and to cope with things that can’t be put off, until I can’t work anymore, which is about 8 or 9 p.m.

And that, my friends, is what’s entailed in quitting your day job.

How Much Can You Earn Writing…uhm…Spicey Novelettes for Grownups?

Over at Funny about Money, which after all IS putatively a personal finance site ( 🙄 ), I’ve added up a fantasy profit-&-loss scenario based on what some people claim they earn writing 3000- to 5000-word er0tica for the adult set. The figures are interesting.

They’re high, but they may not out of the question.

Some people, including an acquaintance of one of my best friends, claim they’re making six-figure incomes on this endeavor. In a more modest scenario with goals set to cover subcontractors’ costs and provide oneself a fairly low living income, it looks…well, possibly do-able.

You’d have to churn out two or three racey novelettes a week, or pay someone else to do it. But I write 3000 words every day, seven days a week. Wouldn’t be hard to direct some of those words toward a specific type of booklet. The marketing plan is described nicely by a person writing under the name of Jade K. Scott in The Six-Figure Er0tica Author.

What say you? Would you resort to writing naughty booklets to get out of teaching freshman comp and editing brain-numbing dissertations translated from the Hebrew?

Progress Being Made!

At last… In the absence of the late, great teaching hassles, I managed to work on not one, not two, but all three books in progress today!

Holee maquerel. It’s some sort of a miracle. Got a little work done on each of two books and a lot done on the third:

Revised (while word-processing) another chapter from the ancient graduate-student novel, lately retrieved from a dust-covered box in the garage. Contemplated the possibility of spicing it up…a rich possibility, indeed.

Organized research materials for the Boob Book. In the process identified topics that are over-researched and some that are under-researched. Realized the next step really oughta be to draft the appendix describing how to read & understand a scientific paper.

And finally, went through (at endless length) the long, long manuscript of Fire-Rider‘s first installment, did word counts of its 79(!!) chapters, and figured out how to organize it into bookoid-length installments. Discussed this idea with graphic designer; procured his agreement to create “brand name” covers based on the present cover image, at little extra cost to me.

The latter was the biggest project and potentially the most productive. As I thought about the tale of the guy who’s minting vast riches (so we’re told) by churning out 5,000-word “books” of erotica and peddling them on Amazon, it occurred to me that the model could apply to any brand of fiction, even the nonpornographic variety. And, by golly, I happen to have an excess of that laying around the computer drive.

It took all afternoon, but by 7 p.m. Fire-Rider‘s content had tidily coalesced into 18 segments averaging a little over 8900 words. Only one of these runs less than 5,000 words. Interestingly, each section holds together pretty well, and taken together they move the story forward at a nice pace.

This is a book, as it develops, that lends itself to serialization. In one piece it’s impossibly long. But in separate pieces, it can carry a reader along happily.

So I’m thinking for sure that one gets put online in shards.

Ditto, I think, the proposed racy-fied crime novel , which I now think starts out at about  85,000 words. The writing’s atrocious, but at the rate of a chapter every day or so, I should be able to clean it up and zing it up over the course of a few weeks.

If I could break loose enough time every day, seven days a week, for several weeks in a row, I could probably get at least one of these up on Amazon very soon. If I can learn the Kindle conversion software (which doesn’t appear to be very hard), it shouldn’t be hard to mount both pieces of fiction, in serialized format, over the course of a month.

Stoked!

Making Money on Amazon?

The other day I learned of a gentleman who earns $30,000 a month on sales of Amazon e-books. As it develops, what he writes is erotica, which he markets in 5,000-word novelettes selling for $2.99 apiece. He cranks these things out as fast as he can, targeting a rate of one a day…at this point, he has 265 racy bookoids posted on Amazon.

Holy mackerel.

Well. I don’t need to earn 30 grand a month. Twelve hundred would free me from adjunct bondage, and that is all I want.

What I learned about the man’s enterprise inspired some insight into how to turn one porn author’s experience into the next scribbler’s profit. This morning I held forth at my personal-finance blogsite on the subject of how to accomplish this.

Right now I have to get to work for a client, and besides, I really don’t want to reiterate what I just wrote in all new words. So, if you’re interested in what I think would work to generate profit in the Amazon retail environment, come on over to Funny about Money and check out the proposed new business model.