Why I’m Leaving Kindle Unlimited

Used to be, I made most of my money from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. I made as much—often more—from page reads as direct sales, so I kept my books in KU. But in recent months that has fallen off considerably to nearly nil. Therefore, I think it’s time to broaden my horizons and put my books out in wider form.

Amazon continues to have a stranglehold on the market, but it also makes it nearly impossible to be discovered. If you’re not already a known name, people aren’t looking for you or your books. And if you aren’t published by one of Amazon’s imprints or don’t pay them big bucks to advertise, you get buried.

That said, any new releases will get an initial KU launch. But if that ends up not making financial sense (as it no longer does with my existing catalogue), I’ll find other outlets. And of course I’ll continue to put my books out in paperback as well. The K-Pro is going to be re-edited and reissued, and I hope to have Peter edited and available again soon as well.

Gay or Not Gay? A Handy Guide

It was really only a matter of time that someone would give Faebourne a low-star review because there is a gay romance subplot. I did try to be clear in the book description, and the novel is placed in a gay fiction category besides, but… Ah, well. Not everyone reads the fine print.

Here, then, is a breakdown of my writing in terms of gay/not gay:

My books that feature gay characters:

  • The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller (main character is gay)
  • Manifesting Destiny (one of the main characters is gay)
  • Faebourne (supporting characters are gay)

Gay-free books:

  • The World Ends at Five
  • The K-Pro
  • Brynnde

Where are the Sherlock Holmes stories? Well, while in my stories Holmes and Watson are not gay, there are hints that Mycroft is. So it straddles the fence, I suppose.

I’m considering publishing a short story of mine called “The Zodiac Clock,” and it has gay characters, too. So if that bothers you, don’t read it.

I hope that clears up any potential confusion. Happy reading!

I’m a NaNoWriMo Failure

To be fair, I hadn’t planned to even try to do NaNoWriMo this year, but… I had this idea, shiny and new, and found myself logging into my old NaNo account and signing up for duty.

Then the shiny idea fizzled. I couldn’t get any traction, nor did I feel motivated to push it.

In truth, I don’t normally participate in NaNoWriMo because I’m now a full-time writer anyway, so it doesn’t feel as important to me as it did when I worked a day job. However, I happen to be a very slow writer, so the idea of NaNo possibly forcing me to not overthink things and just get words out does have a kind of appeal. Part of me thinks that if I were truly disciplined—or even if I wanted to badly enough—I’d have managed to get my 50k words regardless of obstacles like appointments, chores, holidays, etc. That’s true any month of the year, I suppose. In fact, NaNo seems to be just another way for me to feel bad about myself and my lack of productivity.

Still, I know NaNoWriMo is a great tool for many writers, so kudos to all who achieved their goal this month. (Or will in the next 24 hours or so.) As for me, all is not lost. I went back to that old K-Pro sequel and am now working on that. Who’da thunk it? I don’t even know if there’s still any interest from readers in this book, but I sure am having fun writing it!

My November was not a complete failure after all. Though I didn’t write 50k or finish a manuscript, I did get my mojo back. NaNo or no NaNo, I’ll call that a win.

Whatever Happened To…

Now and then I get questions about sequels to some of my works. So I thought it might be handy to answer a lot of them in one post.

Whatever Happened…

after “The Mystery of the Last Line”?

A lot of readers found this story open-ended. I never intended to write a sequel, though after so many readers seemed to want more explanation, I did toy with the idea. I even started one, but I just couldn’t find the thread, so I abandoned it.

to the K-Pro sequel?

It was going to be called Ms. Fortune, which is a title I still really love. I had it all planned and even showcased it one year for the A—Z postings they do every April. But the first book didn’t do so great (and truthfully, if I had the energy I’d go re-edit it), so I didn’t end up investing any time in writing the second book.

to Peter Stoller?

That’s another one I started a couple sequels to but never finished. You’ll find a lot of that on this list, and that’s because [most] writers go where the readers are. If as an author I never hear from people who want more—and certainly if a book doesn’t sell—then I (like many authors) often won’t pursue that series or character.

If you’re wondering what happened to Peter specifically, though… I don’t know. I’d have to write the books to find out.

to The Great Divide and A More Perfect Union (the Changers sequels)?

Same story: yes, it was originally meant to be a trilogy. But the book sales were middling and the publisher never asked for more. Meanwhile, this was around the time I published Brynnde, which has been my best-selling book. So I redirected my time and energy in that direction.

to Hamlette?

Ah, the sad truth there is that I queried for over a year and had no takers. Some of the feedback left me really doubtful about the book’s viability. So I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I’ve rewritten it a number of times, but I can’t seem to get it right (at least not according to agents; CPs and betas enjoyed it). Sigh.

Did I Hear That Right?

There are some words and phrases that, because I was a precocious reader as a child, I understood out of context but didn’t truly comprehend. One that comes to mind is: “bleeding like a stuck pig.”

I don’t know where I first read or heard this phrase, but for the longest time I had a mental image of a piglet that was stuck trying to get under a fence. I didn’t quite understand where the bleeding came in. Was the fence sharp? Maybe it was made of barbed wire? Who puts a barbed-wire fence around a pig sty?

Only years later did I stop and think, Maybe not “stuck” as in, you know, stuck. Maybe “stuck” as in “stabbed”? Stuck with a knife?

Then I wondered for a while why anyone would stab a pig. To butcher it?

And finally: Maybe “pig” in the derogatory sense? Like slang for a police officer?

Well, it made more sense than an actual pig stuck under a fence anyway.

I still don’t know if that’s actually what that phrase is referring to, and maybe it doesn’t matter. I know what it means in use, if not its extrapolation. (And sure, I could look it up, but where’s the fun in that?)

Okay, I have eight paperback copies of The K-Pro to give away. To enter to receive one, simply tell me in the comments about a word or phrase you misunderstood and how you came to learn the truth. Please keep it clean. I don’t mind hearing how you learned about a sexual innuendo so long as you don’t get graphic about it. If more than eight people comment, I’ll use a randomizer to select winners. Entries accepted through 10:00 p.m. PST, Monday 19 February. I look forward to hearing your stories!

IWSG: Too Much = Not Enough

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Read and support writers by clicking here, and if you’re a writer you can also join!

I currently have three different writing projects in the works. Meanwhile, I’m also being slammed by one son’s baseball schedule and the other son’s physical therapy appointments as he learns to walk again after breaking his leg. I can hardly find two minutes to rub together, and when I do, I barely get warmed up before I have to get up and do something else. These days I’m lucky if I even get a paragraph written on any given day. I don’t know how I’ll ever finish writing any of my books!

Sorry for venting, but this is what I’m insecure about this month. Getting my writing done. Prioritizing my projects.

This month’s question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

I’ve participated in A to Z twice. Once as an addendum to my Peter Stoller novellas (this was before The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller was published by Tirgearr), and once as the start of a sequel to The K-Pro. I don’t know that I’d call these “marketing” though the goal was to create greater awareness for the source materials. It’s not clear to me whether it worked in terms of getting people to buy and/or read either St. Peter in Chains or The K-Pro, though I did get a lot of site traffic and a few people have asked whether that K-Pro sequel will ever get written. The answer is: maybe? It’s still on my list of potential projects.

By the way, did you know this is also Read Self-Published Month? Visit the Facebook group to find out more and find some great new reads! And don’t forget you can read Brynnde for FREE via Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited!

It Means A Lot

. . . when I hear from readers who want a sequel to something. Readers may think they don’t have much influence on writers, but (at least in my case) they do. While I do have other commitments to consider, I can rearrange my project list based on encouragement from readers.

Point in fact: last week a reader requested a sequel to The K-Pro. In fact, I’ve noticed more sales of The K-Pro just lately, which I thought was interesting. I had started a second book a while back but when the first didn’t do so well I backburnered it. Now, however, I’m inclined to possibly dust it off. I need to finish Brynnde and the second Changers book, but now the K-Pro sequel (titled Ms. Fortune) rounds out my top three writing priorities.

Anyway, I love hearing from you guys. Especially when it’s about a book you loved. (I value criticism too, just ask that you try to be nice about it.)

By the way, I finished a second round of edits on Changers, which means we’re getting ever closer to you being able to read it! Can’t wait to share this one with you!

The Stats

Another writing friend mentioned recently that for every 50 rejections he might then finally receive one acceptance. Now, this writer sends out both stories and manuscripts, so he’s juggling a lot of paper in all this. But it made me wonder what my own rejection/acceptance ratio might be.

I don’t write many short stories, my Sherlock Holmes stories notwithstanding. I self-publish those anyway, so I have no stats for rejections. Well, that’s not entirely true; early on I did send “Mystery of the Last Line” out to a few mystery magazines and the like. Maybe five? Then finally self-published it and never looked back.

That said, I did recently write a story called “Aptera.” It was written to spec for an anthology about Sirens, and though shortlisted did not make the final cut. (Tone too different from all the other stuff, which is a topic for another time.) Counting that rejection, “Aptera” was sent to 12 venues and rejected by 8 of them. I had not heard back from 3 others when Aurora Wolf accepted it. So, discarding the might-have-beens, my acceptance ratio for this story was 1/9.

Okay, what about novels? Which is more of what I do anyway. I queried The K-Pro just shy of 50 times before self-publishing it. So the ratio there is 0 for 50, more or less. The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller was my hardest sell. I queried that one exactly 100 times and had 2 acceptances. So my friend’s 1/50 estimate was spot on there. And Changers? I sent out 70 queries on that one. I received 2 acceptances and had not heard back from 4 at the time I accepted Evernight Teen’s offer. So if I subtract those 4, I get 2/66, or 1/33, which isn’t too bad.

And what about timing? I started sending out “Aptera” in January after receiving the boot from the anthology. It was accepted in May, so it took me 4 months to place it. I queried The K-Pro for a year before giving up and self-publishing. It took 15 months to place Peter, and 10 months to find a home for Changers. The reason for that is most likely there are more agents and publishers open to YA fantasy (Changers) than there are for adult upmarket espionage (Peter).

What all this adds up to is that querying and finding a home for your book or story is not, on average, a fast process. You’re going to hear “no thanks” a lot, and you should be prepared to stick things out for a year or more depending on your genre and how popular it is. There are more romance and fantasy publishers than, as I said, upmarket espionage publishers. So plan for a long-term siege. That way, if it happens sooner rather than later, you can be pleasantly surprised. But if it takes a while, you’ll be ready for that rather than disappointed and disheartened. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I Wrote a Book!

That’s not really news, but today I’m on Lena Anani’s podcast “She Wrote A Book.” This time I talk about my odd-body novel The K-Pro. If you haven’t read it, well . . . It’s a sweet semi-paranormal romance, I guess? I honestly don’t know. But it’s also the only one of my books thus far to exist as a paperback as well as in e-format. Anyway, please give the podcast a listen. It’s short, won’t take you long. Enjoy!