The Pains of Self-Publishing

This week has been a rough one. We said goodbye to our eleven year old Lab, Shadow on Wednesday. He finally just gave up and told us it was time. None of us were ready of course, but it was the best for him. Our other fur-babies have also been missing him.

Even with the stress and pain of the week, I was able to finish the second book in my series. I am waiting on editing now and have spent the past two days creating the cover. Has anyone else found this to sometimes be the most difficult process? I am just thankful for having a photography background and experience with editing software. I really feel for those who don’t have that or have to pay extra for someone else to do it for them. The hardest part for those of us self-publishing, is not earning as much as we would like when we first get started and yet paying out money for services we can’t do ourselves. I am so thankful for what I am able to do myself, but look forward to the day when I can pay someone else to do the tedious tasks so I can stay focused on the writing.

I am hoping to have this new book on Kindle by the end of this coming week. We will see how much editing needs to be done before I will have a definite date though. Keep watch here, I will be posting the announcement with the links here in my blog!

In the meantime, here’s a few photos of our sweet Shadow. We miss him so much!

Why I Write

I started writing some poetry in high school and always kept a journal or diary, but I really started writing regularly during a dark time in my life. My mother was killed in a car accident in 1992 when I was expecting my first son. I first started writing letters to her and writing in my journal about her and my pain. Then in 1996 I turned to poetry.

I believe writing saved my life. Between the depression of losing my mom and having horrible postpartum depression, I destroyed my life, my marriage and hurt those I loved the most over a course of only a few years. Writing was my only outlet for my feelings. I felt no one heard me, no one understood my pain, how could they, I didn’t understand it.

I would like to think I inherited my passion for writing from my mom. She had been a writer and wrote beautiful poetry and short stories. She made a book for her dad and now I have it. She never published any of her work, but our family knew how good she was. I only wish she would have shared her work with the world.

My first published poem was about her, the loss and pain I felt every day. I received the Editor’s Choice Award for that poem and I keep that book on my bookshelf as a reminder that even in my darkest times, I did something good. My second poem published was about my first son, the struggles I felt as I went through divorce and the pain I felt watching his confusion and not knowing why mommy was so sad all the time.

Those were dark days and writing got me through several years of pain. I haven’t written much poetry the past several years, but I have started to again in the past few months. My dream has always been to write books and poetry, but it just never seemed to happen. My husband has helped support that dream and pushed me to make it happen. I’m so thankful that he did.

My days are much brighter now then they were in the early ’90’s and I have so many beautiful things to be thankful for and to write about. I hope to share a book of all my poetry with the world one day.

For now, I am mostly focused on my current book series about a girl named Lily and the crimes she is solving. I hope you check them out. Look for my second book in the series to be released soon on Amazon Kindle.

Writing Crime Fiction and the FBI

My first book came to me pretty easily, being a Forensic Science major in College, I knew writing crime fiction was never a question for me. Deciding on the crimes to write about, that took a little thinking. I have decided this series is going to focus on real life crime that is being fought not only in this country, but around the world.

Even though my books are fiction, there are some facts thrown in as well. I may use real places or make them up, I tend to use as close to fact as possible on the procedures being used to solve the crime, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the case. I also try to stay realistic in the crimes themselves. I research a lot online, but I also have a husband that supports me completely and helps me with ideas. He travels a lot and that helps provide ideas and facts for my projects. He is also my editor and is great at finding consistency and flow in the story. Yes, I’m pretty lucky to have him.

My first book was a very short novel, it flowed easily. I didn’t put near the little details in it that I am with the second one. We always learn as we go and I decided even though I am happy with my first publication, it could have been better. I definitely want to give more to my readers in my future books, more characters, more twists, more everything.

The first book was a cartel case, the interesting thing about it is, I had it half way done when my husband had to go to Mexico for business. When he came back, he had so much more helpful information for me to make my story more believable. This definitely improved my book, but it did make for more work. I had to go back through the entire book and make some major changes. Don’t get me wrong, what I had worked, but why make something just work when you can make it so much better? So, it was worth the extra time and effort to deliver a better story.

The book I’m working on now is an FBI investigation with a case involving Human Trafficking. This is an ongoing and growing issue for everyone. Children and young adults disappear daily and much of it could be prevented if awareness is brought to the public. If you’re on Facebook or any social media site, you will see posts and articles on a regular basis regarding this very subject. I add little things in my book regarding how they were taken or lured away, those are facts, they happen. The sad fact is,  only 2% of the victims are ever recovered that disappear. That is a very low percentage and sadly I think they mean just that, recovered, I believe most are not found safe.

I love that the FBI has a lot of information online that help writers and producers with their stories and they will even sit down with people if they want the extra help. I also love that they have no opinion on how true to life or completely out there someone makes their story when writing about FBI cases, but they will openly help someone if they want it more true to life.

One misconception about the FBI that a lot of people have is that they do not take over local cases or push local law enforcement out of the case. The exact opposite is true. The FBI works with many levels of law enforcement on state and local levels to solve cases. They assist and work side by side with other law enforcement agencies all the time. Their goal is to solve the case and that requires team work from all levels.

I really enjoy writing and I hope that my readers do as well. My second book will be published soon and then it’s on to the third. I am looking at a four-five book series at this time, but you never know what might change or what will come after.

 

Explaining Kindle Unlimited

This post is directed to Kindle readers, specifically Kindle Unlimited subscribers. For those who don’t know what Kindle Unlimited is, it is a subscription plan available to any Kindle reader. It will cost the reader $9.99/month to subscribe, but if you are one that reads a lot of books in a month, this can be cost effective for you. For anyone reading less than 10 books a month, I can’t really see the benefit of it given there are so many Kindle books available for less than $3/each. You have to do the math for yourself, but for me, if I’m only going to read 3-5 books for the month at say $2/each (I buy a lot of $.99 books so I round up for this), I am going to pay at most $10 and get to keep all 5 books. At $.99 I can buy 10 books that I don’t need to return to the library.

The misconception to the readers is how it effects the authors of the books available on Kindle Unlimited. You see, these books are ‘checked out’ of the Kindle library by the reader and Kindle tracks how many pages are read by the reader. The author does not receive any income from these books ‘checked out’ until that book is returned to the library. The author is paid only for the pages read when the book is returned. The amount per page is figured by Amazon and isn’t paid out until the following month either, so the author must also wait longer to receive those payments.

An example of what an author would have made in March of 2017 for a 200-page book would be $.94, this is ½ of what the author would have made at the very least on Kindle if the book was purchased. I come to this conclusion because the author more than likely would have listed the book for no less than $2.99 which they would make $2.00 per book purchased through Kindle. You see why the authors are not thrilled about this plan?  Had they listed the book for $5 they would make $3.50. There is a big difference between $.94 and $3.50.

Authors with books that were finished and returned to the library before March 31st would have been paid $.0047 per page read. If the reader only finished 50 pages, the author only gets paid for 50 pages. To me that feels like someone going into work and working 8 hours, giving their all to the job and walking away with 4 hours of work paid. We all know the author put time, effort, and research into writing that book for the reader to enjoy, they deserve the appropriate royalties from it not getting screwed out of every dime while Amazon rakes in $9.99/subscriber a month so those subscribers can ‘check out’ the authors book and never return it or return it unread. In my opinion, Amazon is the only winner here.

My advice to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited, if you download a book, please read it completely and return it quickly. By holding onto that book, you are hurting the author of that book and for most of the books in the Kindle Unlimited, they are new and upcoming authors who rely on every penny to make it. If you cannot commit to that, don’t subscribe and don’t download, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by paying out a $9.99/month subscription for something you aren’t utilizing to the fullest and you are definitely not helping the author.

As a reader, I had no idea this is how the program worked. It wasn’t until I was on the other end and found myself not being paid royalties because people weren’t finishing my book or not returning it when they had. I canceled my subscription for the plan, I don’t have time to read 10 books a month to make it worth my payment, but I also didn’t want to risk holding onto a book and not reading it because I didn’t have time to commit and hurting another author. Now I just purchase the book and read it as I want. The author gets paid their royalties sooner and in full amount owed and I get to keep the book. In my opinion that’s a win/win.

You can find many other blog posts regarding this subject throughout Google. Several blogs go into details explaining how much Amazon has made and how much they have paid out over the past few years. If you would like a good start, visit http://rogerpacker.com/kindle-unlimited-kenp-payment-rate-for-march-2017-falls-by-6/ This blog gives some really good statistics of the money being paid out to authors since January 2016.

Oh, if you read a book and you like it, please go leave feedback for that book. It really does make a difference for the author and helps them in the ranking of where their book falls on Amazon.

I spent all day Friday researching information for my next book. My first one was a very short crime fiction. The fun thing about writing fiction, is it doesn’t have to fit the actual facts of real life, but I do like to have my books be close enough to be believable.

My book ‘Execution In The Bayou’ was the beginning to the series and much shorter in length than my plans for the second book. I am really looking forward to seeing how this next story unfolds.

My main character, Lily, has already been through quite a bit in her career as a young detective. Where will her next cases take her both professionally and personally? You will have to read the series to find out. I can’t tell you at this point how many books will be in the series, but I can tell you, the end will be worth it when I get there.

 

Excerpt from ‘Execution In The Bayou’

 

Captain Spade thought catching up over a nice lunch at Joe’s was perfect. They have a great buffet for the lunch crowd and there are a couple of quiet tables in the back. He had gotten there a bit early so he could pick a good spot. “Hey Jerry, it’s been awhile since we had a chance to just catch up on things. How have you been doing?”

“Not too bad John, how have you been? I hear you and the family had a big picnic last weekend up at the park. Must have been nice to have your kids home from school at the same time. That seems to become a rare treat as they grow up huh?” Spade has a daughter and a son both in college. They rarely get to be home at the same time unless it’s the Holidays.

“Yes, it sure was nice to have the whole family together for the weekend. The house gets awfully quiet with just the two of us. Is Jenna still in New Orleans?”

“Yep, she’s a Sophomore now. She is mainly taking general classes she’s not convinced Business is the route she wants to take. I told her she needs a more specialized degree. So, what’s this lunch meeting about? I know you and it isn’t like you to call out of the blue and just want to catch up over small talk.”

“You always have gotten right to the point haven’t ya? I wanted to sit down and let you know I’m concerned about these murders in our quiet little town. I don’t have a lot of good friends left in the area from our school days and well, you’re one of them, I just want to make sure you’re ok.”

“I’m fine John, sure these deaths are concerning, it’s weird they are all close to our age and living in the same town, but I’m not worried about me. I haven’t talked to Jenkins in over a year and Sarah Watkins, I did some work on her car a few months back but that’s the extent of our relationship. Mike and I go way back, but I haven’t even talked to him in several weeks, been pretty busy at the shop.”

“Alright Jerry, but are you sure there isn’t anything you want to talk about? I have my best detectives on this case and your name did come up when they started digging around about these three.”

” What do you mean? You think I’m connected to all this somehow? Come out with it already! Just what do you think I’m involved in? You think I had something to do with this? Jeez Spade, I thought we were better friends than that!”

“Calm down, I am not accusing you of anything, I’m concerned about the connection we found between all of them and you. It’s possible you could be in danger. Have you ever heard of the company Vitron Builders?”

“Sure, but what does Vitron have to do with your case?”