Back to Reality – and Second Quarter Report

Good news and bad news often go hand in hand – and so it goes.

I ended the month with approximately $300 worth of ebook sales and Kindle page views.

Snap back to reality,

Oh there goes gravity

Having my writing income shoot up to that dizzying height was exciting and rather distracting.

Oh, so distracting.

I know it is small potatoes, and worse, it is not regular or reliable yet. This is how I felt when I first started my cleaning biz. I remember being over the moon excited when I cleared $300 in a month. Nowadays I make more than seven times that amount and am quite content with working part-time at it so I can do other things like write!

In late March, I posted the following figures:

January 2018 (sales from November 2017) gross income: $123.30

February 2018 (sales from December 2017) gross income: $203.91

March 2018 (sales from January 2018) gross income: $127.41

Total for 1st Quarter 2018: $454.62

And now I have the numbers for the second quarter of 2018, which is payments for sales in February through April of 2018…

  • April 2018 (sales from February 2018) gross income: $107.54
  • May 2018 (sales from March 2018) gross income: $67.56
  • June 2018 (sales from April 2018) gross income: $88.58

Total for 2nd Quarter 2018: $263.68

Wow, well, a decline from the first quarter 2018. And that means that 3rd quarter 2018 will most likely be my best quarter yet, since the sales from June will be paid out then, along with May’s sales which were approximately $130.

I’ve taken the plunge and invested in Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course. I plan on diving into the videos this month and I’ll see if I can’t learn how Facebook ads work.

Mark Dawson is making serious money with his fiction, to the tune of $80k per month in book sales and page reads alone. Now Mark also has more books than I do, at least twenty, possibly more. But even with my six, I should be seeing more sales.

So I’m hoping the course will help. After all, if I can get my writing income up, it means the renovations on our two future rental houses can go quicker, which means I can stop cleaning sooner than my target of 3 1/2 years from now.

One more week of scattered time with kiddo, holiday and more and then I hope to make some real progress on my book projects. I’ll have a full four weeks to work in writing around cleanings before homeschool starts in the fall!

I Sold That Many?!

It’s been a weird week and a weird month.

So let’s start with the bad news: I’ve written nothing. Neither of my assignments have been finished. Hell, I’ve barely even thought of my assignments.

Now for the good news. I have been toying with AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services) for a few months now and in this month, my sales of Get Organized, Stay Organized have skyrocketed.

For others, it might be peanuts, barely a blip on the bigger scale. For some, it might be the taste of failure, not success. But for me? All I know is that I went from selling 16 ebooks in a good month and that number has nearly tripled in the past 22 days.

So far, I’ve sold 47 books (four today) and I fully expect to blast through 50, maybe even 55 books by the end of the month.

And just watching the numbers climb…how do I describe it?…it’s got me excited beyond measure, fearful that it won’t continue, and determined to understand this mysterious land of marketing I find myself slogging through.

I’ve gone from averaging $3-$4 per day in earnings to an average of over $10.20 per day.

I keep promising myself that once this holds steady, once I see sales continuing to build, and then hold steady at a solid $3,000 per month, I’ll stop cleaning houses and focus on writing, marketing and all the rest that I do.

I estimate that if my sales continue as they have, I should see around $300 for the month.

Three hundred dollars…or ten percent of where I need to be to consider quitting cleaning houses.

What this month has taught me is that I CAN do this. I just need to keep learning marketing and get back to writing. Those two actions will change my life for the better (and life’s pretty sweet already).

p.s. And another really cool reason for not getting my writing done? This young lady right here. We’ve been spending some time together in June because July is chock-full of summer day camp.

I can’t think of a person I would rather spend my days with, she is the best kid in the world. Seriously, the BEST kid.

Em climbing over a gully on our nature hike yesterday.

We went to Legoland today and she is getting to see Incredibles 2 tonight with her dad. Swimming next week.

Writing can wait. This girl, she’s what’s important right now.

Reporting In…

That New Schedule, Yeah…

So on the 11th, I announced I was going to try a new schedule. Basically an Assignment of the Week (AotW). One chapter from The Hired Gun or one short story in the Kapalaran Universe, starting Monday and hopefully finished before the end of Sunday.

Yeah…

Well. I did it, sort of.

The good news is that I managed to integrate one-on-one time with my darling girl, newly back from a trip to see her grandparents in San Francisco. We went to a local park with some of her friends, then swimming and also saw the Avengers: Infinity War.

I also had five cleanings as well as yard work (check out my post on that here), and I managed to write (in between all of this darting about) over 5,000 words on Not Quite Human – a short story for my email subscribers that will eventually be put into the Kapalaran Universe Anthology.

And as I closed in on 5,700 words, I realized I wasn’t done with this story, not even close, and I had run out of time.

My blog, my rules, right? So I’m posting it for July’s short story, but it is now  Not Quite Human – Part One.

And I dust my hands off and declare my first weekly assignment complete!

I’m looking at the rest of the summer and thinking, “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

But you know WHY? Because I spend far too much time on Facebook, checking my stats on Amazon KDP, and obsessing over how to best spend the money we are setting aside for renovations to the future rental houses.

In other words, until I stop doing that crap, I’ll fall behind in my writing.

So next week? If you hear from me and I’ve got a ton of excuses? You’ll know why. It’ll be because someone is not taking her job seriously enough.

Earnings for the Month

But here is what I do know. I’ve been muddling about, trying to learn about AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services) and how to write ad copy, book excerpts, and generally understand what makes my potential readers click that Buy button.

And while I’m far from understanding it, I have been absolutely delighted to watch my KDP report recently. This month is shaping up to be an amazing month. I’m currently at the third highest amount I have had since beginning to actively market my books back in November. And I’m only halfway through the month!

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to other authors and what they are doing, but check this out:

  • Books sold so far this month: 28
  • Highest ranking on Amazon: 13,734 (that’s out of MILLIONS of books) for Get Organized, Stay Organized
  • Income to date: approximately $135 (page reads fluctuate in worth, and some of the books sold are not showing up in my earnings yet)

I’m excited. Things are moving forward, moving up, and that means I really need to write more, learn more, and market more. I’m getting there, slowly but surely!

 

Big Day Today!

I woke up this morning to learn that the last day of November was my most profitable (in Kindle Unlimited page reads) yet. And I also made over $6 since midnight while I was still snoozing.

That’s super cool, folks. I look forward to doing the work to make that number grow and grow.

Dishing Sci-Fi on the Radio!

I’m excited to announce that I will be on the radio today talking with Gina Kauffman, the host of KCUR’s Central Standard to talk about writing sci-fi.

If you are a wannabe sci-fi writer, a reader, or just think sci-fi is cool, then tune in!

Tune in between 10 and 11 a.m. to 89.3 FM here in the Kansas City area or go to their website and click on Listen Live to hear it in real time. I should be appearing during the Arts segment of the show, between 10:25 and 10:40 a.m.

Update: Here is the link to the show. My segment starts about 15 minutes in…

Every Dollar Counts

At the beginning of this month, I made a teeny tiny goal – I wanted to earn $1 per day on my writing. I made that goal and then proceeded to nearly quadruple it. Here is a snapshot of my earnings for November.

And while it isn’t enough to retire from my “day job” of running a cleaning business, it is enough to inspire me to greater heights.

Get Your Free Copy TODAY (12/1) and TOMORROW (12/2) Only!

My first fiction book, War’s End: The Storm is available for FREE download today and tomorrow on Amazon.

In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival. Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her. Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.

Reviewers have said…

“A great story. This felt like it was written by the hand of someone who actually was there. The book moved me from tears to hope. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

“This story is different. To me, it is unforgettable (although I would like to forget some of the parts portrayed). It is a heartbreaking, but uplifting story of a group of young children who are thrust into a very grown up and scary World, and how they deal with the grief and savagery around them. It is also about love, and finding family where you least expect.”

“This very compelling book follows Jess, a young girl whose parents did not prepare. They are killed and she is left to fend for herself. What follows is a great deal of pain and sadness. Be prepared to cry—I did. But in the end, Jess and her rag-tag collection of young fellow survivors live on to become an example for all of the strength of the human spirit facing adversity. It is a bit tough sledding during the darkest part, but inspirational in the end. Bravo!”

Download it today!

Subscribers Rewarded

I’ll say this clearly – I’m NOT SELLING YOU ANYTHING. I’m only asking you to let me give you something free to read.

What do I mean by that?

It’s simple. If you add yourself to my subscriber email list, you will ONE email per month. Inside of it will be my newsletter that will provide the following:

  • The link and password to the FREE short story of the month (companion pieces to my already existing fictional works)
  • Updates on any upcoming free book promotion and discounted ebook deals
  • A summary of all of my blog posts (I post in four different blogs on a variety of cool subjects) for the month
  • An organizing “tip of the month” (remember, I wrote this GREAT organizing book)
  • Updates on any upcoming classes I’m teaching
  • Updates on book projects

I promise to NEVER share or sell your email address and you can unsubscribe safely and easily at any time.

Have a fabulous day, folks!

Beta Readers Weigh In

My beta readers have been weighing in on the latest manuscript Schicksal Turnpike and it has given me some food for thought. In addition, I’m sorting through some of the scientific lingo I will need to turn my new book project Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World into a sequel worthy of interest.

Beta Readers Weigh In

I received a message the other day from one of the beta readers…

Ok I’m having a hard time with your book. I hate dean, he’s a whiny asshole who should have died instead of his family. So I’ve tried skipping ahead a few chapters but he’s still there.

I was amused. And just a little concerned. Had I written him too whiny? Or put too much asshole into the first chapter that centered around him?

And considering that Dean is the main protagonist I wasn’t sure how to respond to her other than to say, “Get used to him because he isn’t going anywhere.”

She promised to start at the beginning and read the whole thing through. And by midnight I received a new message, which I have redacted to avoid spoilers:

Made me hate him then you made me love him damn you!

And those words right there were absolutely what I needed to hear. I want that kind of visceral reaction. It means I’ve done my job right. Another beta reader said something similar, commenting on Dean as being “well written” and how he “enjoyed his life changing turn around.” Which is also the response I hoped to provoke.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With Schicksal Turnpike, even before finishing the manuscript, I have been concerned. There isn’t just the main story, that of Dean’s evolution, but a second story, filled with magic and a race of people who are not of this world. Most of it is barely explained and I have swung back and forth on this – Shicksal Turnpike was created in my mind as a bridge between a story from our world and as a set up for the series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan which takes place mainly in the other world only barely described in Schicksal Turnpike.

In essence, it is a prequel. A story before the real story. One that you toss out in the middle of a successful series, not before.

At first, it was really hard to imagine waiting to publish this book. Especially after having spent so much time on it. More than a year of writing, editing, adding, correcting. Surely I could publish it and then move on to Chronicles immediately.

But as I sat down and began to sort through my notes for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan I could just feel my mind slip sideways. Not to mention that my readers of Gliese 581: The Departure have responded with, “What do you mean I have to wait YEARS for the sequel?!”

So as the beta readers picked their way through Schicksal and I resigned myself to learning far more scientific principles than the teenage me would EVER have been willing to do, my resolve on what to do with Schicksal wavered and changed.

I’m going to shop it out to literary agents and sit on it for a while. I look at it like this:

  • It is a prequel, therefore it probably needs to wait until at least a couple of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan books come out (I have twelve stories planned).
  • It could be doing the work of finding a literary agent I could work with while I’m busy writing Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World AND Chronicles of Liv Rowan: The Glass Forest

I’m painfully aware that marketing my books is required if I am to be a self-published author. It is also something I’m not particularly good at. That is, after all, one of the main reasons authors retain a literary agent. So I’ve finally got a book that I’m not going to lose my mind over not getting to publish right away because it can’t be published right away. Not until the other books are out.

Goals for Now

So I’ve got my assignments for the next six months to a year. I need to:

  • Learn the science and get the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure finished
  • Finish writing the first book of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan when I can’t handle dealing with Gliese (and vice versa).

Taking Notes from Another Science Wunderkind

As I struggled to learn some of the scientific principles behind planetary orbits, atmosphere, and more yesterday I was also juggling kiddo activities. And while we are not homeschooling this year, I have maintained my membership with L.E.A.R.N. and was looking forward to hanging out with some homeschool mamas while Em played with her friends at Double Digits Game Night.

I sat down at the mama table and pulled out my Gliese binder which has a picture of the planet on the front cover. I figured I could work on my planet maps and maybe get some help naming the continents and other features of the world.

However, the sight of a planet immediately caught the interest of one mama (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know her name) and her eleven-year-old son Nate. And young Nate was soon firing questions at me.

Nate: So, Mars doesn’t have an atmosphere.

Me: Right, but the colony lives in Habs and they have atmosphere generators pumping CO2 to create a greenhouse effect.

Nate: But that won’t be enough to create an atmosphere.

Me: Well not yet, no. But in 300 to 500 years, it could.

Nate: [shakes his head] No, to do that it would need more heavy elements. CO2 wouldn’t be enough.

Me: Like what kind of elements?

Nate: Well Mercury is nice and heavy.

Me: But isn’t that toxic?

Nate: It sure is.

His mother later told me that he reads the periodic table of elements before going to bed at night.

We must have talked for an hour or more. The kid was beyond fascinating and I smile now because I cannot wait to see the adult that will form from this curious and thoughtful young mind. We discussed trajectories for asteroids, the effects of gravity on Mars colonists (1/3 earth gravity) and also the Gliese colonists (1.2 earth gravities).

He explained solar winds and how sun flares affect the gravitational fields of planets. He poked a few holes in my assumptions (easy to do since I know little or no science), gave me a few ideas to consider, and even drew a sketch of how one particular scenario/plot twist might work.

I have a ton of notes – things I need to research now and double check. His mom was listening in the entire time and, as a writer and a lover of all things learning-related, it was fascinating to see her interaction with him. The questions, hypotheses, and answers were flying thick and fast among the three of us.

As the evening wound to an end, he came back to the table and asked me, “So what kind of books should I bring next month?”

I told him to bring anything he had on orbits, the periodic table, and if he could figure out the speed of an asteroid after collision that would be amazing too.

And I am really looking forward to seeing him the next Tween Game Night in four weeks or so. Fascinating kid, he helped me immeasurably and gave me quite a bit to think about.

Time to Edit

A spot of joy in my crazy little world occurred last night when I realized I had written the last words in the last chapter that still “needed something.”

Schicksal Turnpike is now ready for editing!

I will accomplish this in several steps…

  1. A read-aloud edit. This will include my husband, which accomplishes the dual purpose of letting him hear it audiobook style (something he prefers over conventional reading) and the act of editing it on the fly. Saying it out loud really helps get any awkward word combinations out of there.
  2. Beta readers who will also edit. I’ve got three lined up, ready and willing. I’ll ask them to read through it, note anything that is misspelled or awkward sounding, any conflicting information, and also ask them to write a few descriptive sentences. What was it about? What did they like about it? What did they not like?
  3. After I’ve updated the manuscript with any fixes they have found, it will be ready for content and line editing.
  4. Then a cover letter and prep for packaging.

Yep, I’m going shopping for an agent. You hear that, Casie Blevins? I’m going shopping for an agent!

A couple of weeks of reading out loud and edits and it will be off to my army of beta readers.

Prepare yourselves!

And if you are interested in joining my army of beta readers extraordinaire, volunteer by commenting on this post or sending me a message through Facebook. You can find me here: Facebook Author Page

December Update

What Do I Have to Lose?

Back when I was preparing Gliese 581: Departure for it’s final revision and upload to Amazon, a friend of mine said, “Wait! Why aren’t you sending this to a publisher or agent?”

I thought about it for a few minutes and replied, “I’ve just never had luck with traditional publishers. And I guess the idea of going to an agent and asking them ‘pretty please’ to take 20% of any potential income just seems silly to me.”

My friend was concerned for me, though. “It’s a good story, it has such potential. Aren’t you limiting yourself by self-publishing?”

And, as much as I would like it, the chances of me becoming a female Hugh Howey (author of Wool, which went viral and ended up earning him a publishing contract) are pretty small.

So I told myself I would give it six months.

My first fiction book, War’s End: The Storm, sits at six reviews. My second work fiction, the sequel to The Storm, A Brave New World, sits at five reviews on Amazon.

So in terms of total reviews, Gliese 581: Departure, now at 21 reviews, has been a screaming success. And I’ve made about half of my investment back (not counting hours put in writing and editing) so that’s something.

But it is time to push it out into the bigger world.

I bundled it up and mailed it to a potential publisher today. They may look at it and say, “Wait? It’s already self-published? Forget it!”

And if they pitch it into the circular file and move on, I’ll try again. After all, the postage was right at $3.00 when you include the SASE. They may say “no” – and the next guy might say “yes.”

Being self-published, having the book up on Amazon, might be a death knell. But then again, it might not. The times, they are a-changing and self-publishing is slowly becoming less of a bad thing.

We will see, I guess. What do I have to lose?

Two Weeks of Writing Immersion

I have declared us done with homeschooling until after the New Year. Specifically, nothing but fun and relaxation from now until Tuesday, January 3rd for the kiddo.

And that means I get to write!

I am hoping I can knock out a good chunk of the needed parts of Schicksal Turnpike in the next two weeks. I would love to have it edited and some advance reader copies out there and ready with reviews by the time I upload the book to Amazon in the spring.

A Special Present – Just For You

A few years ago, long before I finished Gliese 581: Departure, I wrote a short story titled Forward Reach. It is set approximately 30 years after the events chronicled in Departure. It has been sitting there, unloved, in a file folder on my computer for far too long.

Earth after the devastating plague is a very different one from the Earth of today. The image of families, of mothers and fathers raising 2.4 children is a thing of the past and Forward Reach offers a glimpse into that world, and the effects of the planetary breeding and repopulation program.

On Christmas Day, as my present to you, you will be able to read the story here.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Edits and Free Days

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Free Days Start Tomorrow

I will be offering War’s End: The Storm for free Kindle download for the next three days. At this time, all of my books are part of Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a subscriber (just $9.95 per month!) you can always read my books for free.

However, if you are not a KU subscriber, then get the book while the getting is good!

If you have read Gliese 581 and are wondering what the references to The Collapse and the Second American Civil War are all about – War’s End: The Storm will explain it. Beginning in 2017, this book serves as witness to the socioeconomic collapse of the United States and the civil war that follows.

In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival. Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her. Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.

So get it while the getting is good – starting Wednesday and ending on Friday!

Kaplaran Universe

Schicksal Turnpike

Dee, my editor extraordinaire, has returned the first draft of Schicksal Turnpike to me. I’m reading through her suggestions now and will begin working on edits this week. My hope is to have the book done and on Amazon by early fall, but we will see what happens. Deadlines are flexible things.

Schicksal will serve as the prelude to The Chronicles of Liv Rowan, which is somewhat of a prequel to War’s End.

And for those of you chomping at the bit for a sequel to Gliese…all in good time, all in good time. There is a method to my madness.

It is still madness, but that’s okay, a writer is allowed some lunacy, don’t you think?

Project Funding

I am doing the last bit of prep on two different crowdfunding campaigns – Kiva and IndieGoGo. The reality of the matter is, I need to do something with The Cottage at the end of our property, and that means raising money. I mention it here simply because I’m mentioning it EVERYWHERE. I’m drumming up support and encouraging folks to contribute.

When it comes to Kiva, you get your money back, 100% of it.

With IndieGoGo, you are receiving perks in return for your contributions – everything from unique art to night’s stays at The Cottage once the renovations are completed.

So you aren’t sending money out into the abyss to never be seen again. I want to stress that because it is important to me that others understand I’m not looking for handouts. This won’t just help me and bring me income, it will also bring worth to my neighborhood and community.

Stay tuned!

Someday I Will Look Back

Someday I will look back and remember how it felt with those first books, waiting, nail-biting, hoping, pestering…for folks to read and review my stories.

I will remember how it felt to question myself, to wonder if I had any stories worth telling.

I will think of how it felt to see the reviews roll in, one at a time, where weeks stretched and my fears grew once again…that I had been mistaken, that this was all a very nice try, pat me on the head, chuck me on the chin, and tell me “Atta girl, you keep writing those words and someday, someday maybe you will be good enough.”

I will look back.

And I will smile.

I won’t take it for granted, I won’t let it go to my head.

I’ll be grateful…

Just like I am in this moment. The rain is falling outside, steady, as it has all day. Damned if we didn’t need it, it has been so dry. Occasionally there are bursts of fireworks in the distance.

This day, as it comes inexorably to a close, was our tenth wedding anniversary, complete with a decent lunch and a ridiculous movie (Julie Hennessy, if you are reading this, I still went and saw it even after you told me not to bother!).

I have seventeen reviews now.

And I hope to see many more. Another 83 would make me very happy. I’ll get there eventually.

For now though, I have at least seventeen people who have taken the time to read my book and post a review on Amazon. And I have to tell you, I’m grateful to every single one of them.