Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taxes, Interviews, and Positive Thinking.

First I would like to let everyone know that Action Adventure Inc Blog has a short interview posted about myself and my first book Requiem.  It is interesting to read it myself even though I answered the questions only 21 days ago.  When you are learning and growing as an indie author, your perspective changes almost daily with each new experience or lesson learned.  At the one year mark, I will have to go back and re-read my blog and comment about what I see and how I changed as an author and person.  I found this picture to be funny after searching Google for "interview".  The desk lamp looks like it has been stabbed into the guys neck and the girl reminds me of MTV's Daria trying to figure out what is going on with her classic strait face.

Taxes taxes taxes.  Well, the bright side to taxes is that if you have to pay them, then you made money.  So I should look forward to the time every quarter when I have to sit down and do taxes.  The taxes today is for sales tax.  When I set up SBJones Publishing, I needed a sales and use tax permit number and one of those tax exemption numbers you need to buy things without tax.  This was something that was required when I set up my Lightning Source account for the paperback book.  This lets me order my own book and not pay taxes on them, but I have to collect it from my customers.  I purposely priced my book to $14.15 so it comes to an even $15 when I sell it online through my blog, or in person at a book signing or other encounter.  I don't have to worry about sales tax on books sold through B&N or Amazon because they are responsible for sales tax and all I get is a commission subject to income tax.  I know some of you are wondering how much taxes I have to pay.  Are you ready?  I have to send in a total of $31.45 of collected sales tax this quarter.  Between my two book signings, blog sales, and other paperback sales, I personally sold 37 paperback copies of Requiem.  If you want, you can always hit that "Buy it Now" button on the right and add to my tax burden if you want.

So the other day I was drinking beer with my editor and she was complaining about the fee's involved with having a VISA machine.  I had to agree, they were depressing and that is why I am a big fan of Square.  Then there were the complaints about banking fees.  Again I had to agree.  Once the rant was finished I said.  I can only hope one day that the fee's and limitations become an issue.  In fact, they should be goals you try to attain. For example, if you exceed $5,000 sales in a single day.  Square will only deposit a maximum of $5,000.  You will have to wait a day to get the rest.

Oh darn.  The day I sell 334 or more books in one book signing or event to break the $5,000 mark and I have to wait an extra day to see the rest of my cash is one I can't wait to happen.  And if it becomes to big of a hassle, you can call Square and explain and they will raise this limit.  The day I have to call Square because cash is so backed up that $5,000 a day just isn't enough to get caught up is another happy day.

My bank has a similar setup.  Cash deposits of $5,000 or more are subject to a fee.  Guess I will just deposit $4,999 and come back the next day to deposit the rest.  What a rough life it would be to have to visit the bank every day to make a $5,000 cash deposit.

So with that good news, I have to do some self promoting here.  That spike in sales I talked about last time after I had my book signing.  Requiem came so so close to breaking into the top 10,000 of the Amazon ranking. 10,630 is where it topped out at.  My bingo card has a square on it that says its under 9,000 on it.  (a joke for the it's over 9,000 meme).  That square is going to get crossed off!

Congratulations to the latest winners of the Requiem eBook a Day Giveaway.  It's almost over with only three more to give out so time is running out if you haven't signed up.

Sept 23 Mav
Sept 24 Kathy Jones
Sept 25 Andy Maestas
Sept 26 Kim Miller
Sept 27 Purna Thanandabouth

Friday, September 23, 2011


First I would like to point to ML Stewart's blog.  I have been following and commenting on his blog almost since he started it about his The Facebook Killer series.  I find his blog to be highly entertaining and the best way to describe it is with a 'You're doing it wrong" picture, but it's working for him if you check out his rankings.

Next, I want to chat a bit about success.  There has been a lot of articles, blogs, and forum posts regarding that the Kindle gold rush is past us.  If you don't sell a million eBooks you're not successful.  You can't make a living as an indie author, so don't quit your day job.  A lot of negativity, and the impression I get is that lately there have been a large influx of people rushing for the Kindle gold who don't even have a book finished yet, or only have one book and can't figure out why their book doesn't sell.  The obvious answer is they are wanting Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath success with one book where these authors have tons of books available and they have tons of fans buying them.  This is fool's gold.

Konrath's latest blog post says it best.  If you have two $2.99 novels and three 99c short stories for sale, all you need is 10,000 fans and you are making $50,000 a year if you continue to produce a novel every 6 months and a short story every four months.  This is much more realistic and attainable than superstar success.  For me, half of this would be what I need to pay all my bills and live comfortably.

Lets break this down.  For myself my novels are going to average roughly 80,000 words and a short story would run about 10,000 words.  This means I need 190,000 words a year for two novels and three short stories.  Let's just round that up to 200,000 words.  That puts me at a minimum of 3850 words written a week or a whopping 770 words a day for 5 days a week.  Slow typing at 30 words per minute this should take you a half hour to complete.

A more realistic number is 1000 words a day five days a week.  This gives you 260,000 words a year, but also lets you miss a lot of writing for book covers, editing, promoting, etc.  However, in two weeks you can have a 10,000 word short story complete.  Another week for editing and that fourth week to format, put a cover and in a month's time you have a 99c short story ready to sell on Amazon.

If you don't have an hour a day to devote to your writing, then you need to make the time.  Once the kids are in bed, instead of watching some reality TV show on your DVR, sit and type for an hour.

Getting fans of your work is the hard part, and easy part.  Like the doing it wrong picture, I think most people go about this the wrong way.  Authors tend to be introverts to begin with and you need to get past this.  If it takes a shot of tequila to open up then do it, but no one will get you fans faster than yourself.  Most of us already have a lot of fans but we don't even know it.  Start small. 10 fans, 50 fans, 100 fans, 1,000 fans.  Don't be afraid to ask your family and friends to help.  The trick here is these people need to be real fans, not some mass add me to your twitter account crap.  Also you need to get over your fear of asking for the sale.  You can blog, tweet, and Facebook your book all day long and never get a sale, but if you shake someones hand and become a real person, you will sell books, and you will make fans.  Best part is these fans generate referrals.  Online fans can work, but it's a lot harder to shake their hand or have a couple of minutes conversation.  Replying to comments, emails and forums helps, but they need to be fans, not other authors, editors, publishers.

Asking for the sale is hard.  It took me about an hour to warm up at my last book signing and about two hours after that it dawned on me what I was doing wrong.  Don't start a sale with your genera or book, start with yourself the author.  When people were walking by, I was asking them if they liked Science Fiction or Fantasy novels.  Overwhelmingly the answer was no, or that they don't read.  If they said yes, I engaged them and either sold a book or gave them a signed postcard.  What made me realize this wasn't working was the number of people who did stop to talk, did not grasp that I was the author of the book.  I figured the sign that said "Local Author Signing" in front of my booth was enough, but it wasn't.  When I started asking people if they would be interest in taking a look at the book I wrote and published.  Almost everyone now stopped and engaged.  The people who didn't read, still did not buy the book, but about a third of them took a signed postcard because their kid liked this stuff, or had a friend or relative who did read.  Those who did read but dislike Science Fiction were better at around half of them knew someone who would be interested.  I sold a few copies to non Science Fiction readers because I the Author was sold, not my book.  These people also had friends and family who read and took postcards.  I attribute all of my 15 secondary sales this week from this engagement that would have been completely missed if I hadn't changed my approach.  In one afternoon, I sold 22 books, handed out over 50 postcards, and talked to about a 100 people in a real conversation.  When you're starting out, this is the type of thing you need to do.  Become a real person, sell yourself, get over your fears, and write consistently and constantly. When it comes time to measure your success, be sure to have a realistic idea of what success is.  I sold 22 books, I made about $115, I am a successful author.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Second Book Signing Results.

I missed my normal Tuesday blog day due to an illness so I am making it up today.

On Saturday the 17th, I had my second book signing for Requiem down in Hagerman Idaho.  As I mentioned before it was at a flee market that is held every Saturday.  I'm pretty sure that most people who have had book signings have them at book stores, libraries, or maybe a coffee shop.  Well, I would have to say this signing was a huge success.  I sold 7 signed copies of Requiem when I was there.  That might not sound like a lot, but remember the post cards I had made?  I gave away over 50 of them signed and dated.

I need to go on a tangent here about the postcards.  One of the nice things about them, and this is goes double when you sign and date them.  People perceive them to be of value.  First, this means that people are unlikely to walk away and toss them in the trash, or worse on the ground somewhere.  Think about it. How many times have you seen cheap paper fliers of some sort being handed out at an event or fair, only to see them filling the trash cans or blowing around the ground.  Next, they turned everyone who carried them around, into a walking advertisement for me and yes, I had people stop by to chat because they had seen people with the post card.

Back to the book signing results, I had an abnormal spike in online sales.  To be specific, Lightning Source reports five paperback orders in the last 7 days, and a spike of an extra ten e-book sales from Kindle and Nook.  Now its possible these are unrelated, but I highly doubt it.  So now from this one book signing at a flea market resulted in 7 signed copies, 5 paperback internet sales and 10 e-book sales.  That's 22 sales!

Let me say it again.  22 sales from a book signing at a flea market.

Congratulations to the following people in the Requiem e-Book a day Giveaway for September.  If you haven't signed up, there are still 8 chances to win.

Sept 14 C.S.
Sept 15 Amy Andrews
Sept 16 Clark Edwards
Sept 17 Mike Bingham
Sept 18 Robert Callen
Sept 19 Antonio Del Toro
Sept 20 Reed Doyle
Sept 21 Dirk Walker
Sept 22 Jerry Guinn

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Success at a time.

One of the nicest things about being self published, is the fact that your success is directly related to the effort you put in.  It's also not tied to anyone else's time tables or agendas.  When I look back to March and remember the things I had in mind for The Eternal Gateway trilogy, having my book for sale in a book store was a listed goal.  Knowing that I would be taking the eBook route it wasn't very high up on the list.  When I made the paperback version of Requiem, I went with Lightning Source.  I liked that it was tied to Ingram and they were the POD company cutting out all middle men like Create Space or Smashwords.  Well, over the weekend after a few weeks/months of hard work and social engineering, Requiem is for sale at Barnes and Noble.  Not the web site.  The brick and mortar store you have to walk into.

It's not the best photo of me, but that's not the point.  No major publishing contract, no years of rejection letters.  Just hard work and my book is right there, on the same shelf.

This coming Saturday I will be having my second book signing in Hagerman.  There is an Arts and Crafts show and a Car Show going on at the same time so hopefully the increased foot traffic will result in more exposure and sales.  Vista Print offered 100 postcards for free (I had to pay for shipping).  I had them made up to sign and hand out to people who own eReaders and would still like something signed from the author.  They look great with the cover on one side and the back has the blurb, isbn, website, email etc.

Last week I made good on my writing goals as well.  Guardian more than doubled in size from 16,000 words to 35,000 words.  It felt really good to see it grow.

Congratulations to the following winners of the September Requiem eBook a day give away.  The month is almost half over so if you haven't signed up yet. There is still time.

Sept 7, Philip Brennan
Sept 8 Luis Stands
Sept 9 Jaime Winterwerb
Sept 10 John Russell
Sept 11 Bart Webber
Sept 12 John Leavitt
Sept 13 Steven Black

Amazon's Digital Library and why this is the worst idea of the century.

There are a few things I want to discuss today.  First is the rumblings in the news about Amazon's Digital Library.  Basically if you don't know, its a book version of Netflix.  You pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee and you have unlimited access to the library on your Kindle (no print books).  It appears that this offering will become part of Amazon's existing Amazon Prime.  I have posted my opinion of it on the KDP forums already, but I want to talk briefly about it here as well.

This is a huge step backwards for indie authors, traditionally published authors, the Big 6 and Amazon in my opinion.  Amazon has taken the sledge hammer to the traditional publishing world by allowing anyone to publish their work through KDP.  Barnes and Noble followed and so did Apple.  As much as the Big 6 try to convince us it isn't so; digital publishing is the norm and paper is the exception.  Amazon and authors are making big bucks this way.  Even the Big 6 are making bank as they transfer back list and out of print titles to the e-format.

The greatest advantage this gives authors is that an eBook is forever.  In traditional print, assuming you even got the chance to publish a book, you had 30-60 days to sell and you either made it, or your books were returned or burned to make room for next months new books.  If the guy in New York passes on doing a piece about your book because there was a similar one last month, you failed and so did your career.  Here comes Amazon and  eBooks.  Now your book has a shelf to sell from until it takes off.  Visit Kindle Boards and other forums and you will see.  There are a lot of good books out there that took six months, a year, two years before they found their stride and started selling in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands.  Numbers that make people drool and the best part is everyone wins.  The readers win because the book costs $2.99 instead of $27.99.  The author wins because they get paid $2 instead of $1 and Amazon sits back with arms open arms as the savior of the writing world raking in 30-65% of every sale without having to do a thing other than host a website.  Amazon didn't write the book, they didn't edit it, buy a cover, isbn number, market, promote or anything.

Now, Amazon wants to offer books as a rental subscription?  Screetch!  What!  Its like 7:00pm and your stopping the party?  The Kindle only came out in 2007.  Give it a decade for christ sake.  I pray that the Big 6 say no to this and I fear if they don't.  Why?  Because rental just doesn't work.  Look at libraries.  They run on donations and government funds.  Video rental stores have all gone belly up.  This leaves Netflix and Red Box.  Only reason Red Box works is there is no overhead, no store, no employees to pay, it's a frigging vending machine!  Even Netflix tried to push everything to streaming, and recently they lost the Starz library and raised all their prices.  Why?  Because $9 a month can't pay anyone for new content.  Rental is where things go to die, there is no life left, no money to be made.  The end.

I worked for Dell for 8 years and I saw them do some really stupid things to make something look good when it was a bad idea to begin with.  There is an Amazon exec who is in charge of Amazon Prime and this is nothing more than a way to boost Prime's numbers so he can look good and make his assigned metric and try and boost sales when they launch their iPad rival.  This will cost everyone money.  You, me, Amazon and the Big 6.  If you want to rent a book.  Support your local library and go there.  Your tax dollars already pay for this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missed Goals and Catching up.

Labor Day is past and everyone is finally back to school.  Collage football started as well.  I enjoyed watching Boise State defeat Georgia.  It has been a fun five years watching a team from Idaho stomp the nation.  If you are not familiar with the Boise State Broncos, here are some little facts.  Since the 2006 season they have a winning record of   62-5.  Two of those seasons, 2006 and 2009 they were undefeated and won their BCS bowl games.  I don't care what the pundits say about Boise, they are a fun team to watch and they win.

Last week I set some aggressive goals for myself.  I wanted to write 10,000 words last week and 10,000 words this week.  Unfortunately I only reached 9,000 or so words last week.  I had intended to get those last thousand words done on Saturday, but the night before I got a phone call and helped a friend who had thrown out his back move.  We didn't finish until 2am.  When I woke up around noon, I just bailed and headed out for the weekend sore and tired.

To make up for missing the goal, I set Monday's goal to be 3,000 words to keep on track for this week and to make up the thousand missed words.  I want to give a big shout out to DJ Fresh and his Gold Dust Remix.  I set that song to loop, put the head phones on and when I was done for the day a cool 4,669 words were added to Guardian. My goal was not only caught up but blown out of the water.

It feels really good to get a lot of writing in.  It's the same feeling I had the last two weeks when I wrote Requiem.  The momentum has returned and baring any delay, I feel I can get the initial rough draft of Guardian finished by the end of the month.  The first week of September has passed us now, how are your goals shaping up?

Lastly, the September eBook a day giveaway for Requiem is still going on.  It's not too late to sign up and there are still 24 chances to win.  Congratulations to the following winners so far.

Sept 1, Walt Lamberg
Sept 2, Diana Langvin
Sept 3, Duane Hunsaker
Sept 4, David Anonymous
Sept 5, Ranae Rose
Sept 6, Carmon Colette