Life Beyond the Laptop

Most writers tend to be a tad introverted. Even those of us who like to hang out with other people on a regular basis often find ourselves in the midst of a shrinking world with the computer at its center.

And that’s not odd. When you consider that we write our stories, promote our books and interact with our fans there, it stands to reason that most of our hours are spent with fingers on the keyboard and eyes on the screen.

But every now and again, something happens to pull me away from my desk and out of my office chair, and I’m reminded that life does not revolve around the words.

For the past few weeks, my other life has been taking precedent over my writing life. I’ve had opportunities to socialize, meet new people from around the world and enjoy long conversations about topics that don’t cross my mind every day. Or any day.

It’s been both eye-opening and healthy. And while there’s always that itch at the back of mind to get back to the writing, I know that these brief interludes only make me a better and more well-rounded author.

So my lesson for today: no matter what you do on a regular basis, consider stepping outside that box today and doing something different. Go for a walk. Choose a new spot for lunch. Turn off the TV and listen to music. Opt to visit a friend instead of working that extra hour.

Embrace life wherever it leads you.

Kindle Unlimited, Book Pricing and The Worth of an Author

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I started this post a few moments ago at 11:10 PM, the night before it’s scheduled to go up. Working past midnight is not unusual for me. As I type this, the room is dark, and my husband is long asleep in the bed by my desk. Poor guy, he’s learned to sleep to the accompaniment of the taps of my keyboard and ignore the bright light of my monitor (and it’s a big one, too).

I’ve spent today writing. . .some. And I took some unusual time to spend with my two younger kids, one of whom is on spring break from college. Other than that, I worked on writer-related stuff. I responded to emails and messages. I commented on posts from readers. I corresponded with the wonderful people who keep my business life moving along, setting up tasks and goals for the next few weeks. I chatted with some fellow authors about some business issues and how to best address them. I worked with some other fellow authors on setting up an event we’re doing this Sunday to promote our books. I boxed up prizes and signed books to send to readers. I worked with my business partner on some details for the book event we’re hosting in July this year, here in Orlando.

So, yeah. Really a pretty light day.

I don’t think I know a single author who doesn’t work hard. Most of us have hours that would make the most hard-core stock broker or dedicated doctor cringe. We’re up late, we’re up early, and we never stop. We do it, as the lovely meme above reminds us, because we love it. We love the characters we create, we love the readers who love those characters along with us, we love our fellow writers (well, mostly) and we love the idea that on a daily basis we are peopling the world with more fabulous fictional folk.

But even when you do something for love, it’s nice to see a paycheck.

Last year, Amazon introduced a program called Kindle Unlimited. It’s basically Netflix for books: by the company’s own description: Enjoy unlimited access to over 700,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month.

Sounds awesome, huh? Great idea. 700,000 books for about the price of a cup and a half of coffee at Starbucks. What a bargain.

And of course it is. For some readers, this works out well. Even some authors have benefitted from the program.

Most have not.

I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefores here. Others have done it far better than I could, and I’ll share some of the links below. I strongly encourage you to read these posts and articles before you make up your mind about KU.

What I will address is the idea of an author’s worth. When ebooks were introduced, we weren’t really sure how to price them, to be honest. I remember sitting in front of my computer, uploading Fearless and trying to decide what to choose. (For the record, I believe Fearless began life at $2.99.)

But as time went on, authors began to realize that we can’t keep underpricing our books and continue producing them. It may seem that creating an ebook should be cheap and easy, but let me assure you, it is neither. Delivery is less expensive; other than that, it’s the same basic premise as any hardback or paperback you might buy at Barnes and Noble for $16.99. It must be edited, proofread and formatted. A cover must be created and produced. Often, artwork for that cover must be created. Nothing is cheap and nothing is free.

And yet. . .it seems some readers expect that our books should be.

Today, in March 2015, all of my ebooks are priced at $3.99 and under, with the exception of The King Series Boxset which is FOUR full-length books plus a short for $6.99. Two of my books are free (Fearless and Best Served Cold). Do I feel my books are fairly priced for a reader? Absolutely. Do I think they’re fairly priced for me? Not really.

I’m not complaining. I love my job, and I would do it for free. That’s the truth. I’d write even if you charged me to do it. But I don’t want to write for free, and like any other professional, I hope I’ve earned the right not to do so.

Happily, I am surrounded by fabulous readers who never, ever question the value of my books. They make me happy on a daily basis, and I’d pay for that luxury, too.

It’s business practices like KU and others going on in other book sellers that make us feel undervalued, under-respected and just plain tired.

So before you sign on for Kindle Unlimited, or for any program that affects how authors earn, do some research. Think about how much you value the work of your favorite authors.

We’re worth at least the same as a cup of designer coffee, right?

 

 

Articles on Kindle Unlimited that I recommend:

 

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/kindle-unlimiteds-two-tier-system-makes-some-authors-second-class-citizens/

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/01/writers-are-mixed-over-amazon-unlimited/?_r=0

http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/07/is-kindle-unlimited-bad-for-authors.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/amazon-offers-all-you-can-eat-books-authors-turn-up-noses.html

Free And Bargain Kindle eBooks

#Monday Blogging: A Day in the Life

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

That’s one of the most popular quotations floating around social media boards frequented by writers. And it’s true. Writing is only as hard as the author’s ability to be open, to lay herself naked to a world of readers.

Uncle Ernest had it easy. He lived in the days before the internet.

In so many ways, today’s authors are very fortunate. We can interact with our readers instantly; we don’t have piles of letters to answer, and we can share new information right away. But at the same time, that accessibility is a curse, because it can be a very big drain on our limit time and strength.

Let me show you what I mean. I wake up in the morning, and immediately I’m given a report on yesterday’s sales. That can be good news or bad news, but I know it, right away. And I usually wake up vintage-typewriter-100234507to messages and emails from readers (especially those around the world, whose time zone is different than ours), from promoters, from fellow authors and from other people in the industry.  I respond to the ones requiring immediate answers and flag those I’ll handle later.

Each day, I chat with readers. That’s the part of the job I love. I follow up on the commitments I’ve made to bloggers and other on-line personalities. And then there’s the event work.

I’m committed to attend six events next year. Each event requires me to spend time promoting it to readers, building up ticket purchases and hotel reservations. I love to share the information with my readers, and because I care about the events and the people making them happen, it’s a privilege to do this. But it does take time. “Just five minutes” here and there turns into an hour.

I talk with new or about-to-be-new authors, giving them information and advice. I try to calm nerves and encourage.

I love what I do. Writing is a joy, and sharing it with others is beyond the telling of it amazing. Every part is something I enjoy doing. . .it’s just that when you put them together, they add up to a more than full time job. I’ve known authors who get so wrapped up in the extras, they lose sight of the reason they’re doing this. It’s important not to do that.

And now I’ve got to get back to it. To the pure writing part. . .which is the point of all of this, right?