When Writers Read

All writers should be readers first. Isn’t it usually a love for reading that makes a writer good at what they do? Many established and well known authors have said one of the keys to writing success is to read everything, and read often.


“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King


But here’s the problem – when you write full time, reading anything other than your own edits can slowly work its way down the To-Do list if you aren’t paying attention. I’ve gone months without reading for fun (in other words, reading anything that didn’t have to do with my own work), and I can tell you – it’s the fast track to burnout.

At the beginning of this summer I vowed to read as much as I could and I tried. I did. School was out, kids wanted entertaining and beach days, and the book I picked up before June started out great. But I only read it when I had five minutes here, ten minutes there. It took forever to get through this book, the entire summer actually. To be fair, I was reading more than one book at a time, a no-no for me. So fast-forward to one week ago. I finally sat down and finished the last half of the book in one sitting. I was so excited to have the next book that I immediately picked it up and read from late afternoon till 2am, when it was done. The next day I read the third.

I’m sure I didn’t get enough sleep last week from all the binge-reading, but wow, did it feel good! I have one left of this series to read, which is actually the 3rd published, but because it was the prequel to the original story, I skipped over it to read the 4th to stay with the original characters. I give myself three days to finish this book. I want to stretch it out a bit.

It’s proof to myself that reading while writing IS possible, and totally necessary. Every author has a style of storytelling, different from the rest. Every story is a glimpse into another life, another world. And I really missed getting lost in an alternate reality for a few days. Even the author brain needs a break from their own words. And reading is the best way to stay connected, yet fresh. If you write and haven’t finished someone else’s book recently, go read! Even if it’s just an hour or so a night before bed. It will feel good, I promise.

Oh, and the books I just gobbled up are the books of EMBER, by Jeanne DuPrau. I like YA Dystopian titles, and though the Ember books are technically for Middle Grade readers, these were great! I highly recommend the series to those who’ve not yet read it: The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and the Diamond of Darkhold.

Now that I’ve finished this binge-reading session…what do I read next?!

Reviews make me all warm and fuzzy inside…

I absolutely love logging in to my author accounts and seeing new reviews from people who’ve enjoyed a book. Makes me so happy!

So, here’s a recent review of the second book in the Find Me series, Lost and Found, that I just had to share:

Thank you Shelia A. for reading & reviewing! I sure hope you enjoy the third book! xoxo

The Uncertainty of KDP Select for Indie Writers

Exclusive: unshared and/or restricted. When you’re talking book distribution, being exclusive with any distributor seems a bit…well…crazy, right? Why put all the eggs, so to speak, in one basket – or all the books on one shelf?

Enter in Amazon’s KDP Select.

The program is an exclusive distribution deal for writers that offers a handful of promotional perks. This program locks a book title in to be sold only by Kindle for 90 day periods, in which it automatically renews at the end unless the book is pulled from the program. During that time, the book cannot be distributed elsewhere.

This isn’t an anti-Amazon or anti-Select post, let me just put that out there. I’m not stupid; I won’t bite the hand that feeds me. Amazon sells more books than any other distributor and my Amazon royalties alone account for nearly 3/4 of my income. However, that being said, Amazon isn’t perfect, and Select is even less so. And here’s why I think that:

  • Exclusivity sucks. It’s limiting. It means the author must rely solely on one distribution channel and one group of readers to sell books. Sure, there’s a ton of readers on Amazon looking for those specials, deals and freebies that Kindle Unlimited or the Lending Library offers, but what about those who don’t have a Kindle or don’t use a Kindle app? They won’t find Select titles elsewhere.
  • The numbers don’t lie. My Select sales have always been infinitely small. Always. I’ve never seen a tremendous amount of success from any of my titles that were enrolled in Select. Never. Consider me unlucky.
  • Promotional flops. With Select-only available promotions such as Countdown Deals, authors are afforded the option of putting their Select title on sale or listing it for free, for a limited time. This should help a title attract new readers, preferably a good amount of new readers, during the promotion, thus increasing sales afterwards. There’s no guarantee of success with these promotions though, as Amazon doesn’t suddenly advertise the title under promotion, and my most recent one totally flopped. It happens. It sucks.
  • It’s risky and we know it. All of my Indie writer friends have bounced around with the idea of using Select for all their work, one book/series, or just a few (like I do, for my novelettes) pretty regularly. It’s a hot topic amongst writer friends. Does it work? Who does it work for? Is it worth it? The answer is: Yes, it works really well for some, but not for everyone and not for every genre; Select is not a golden ticket, it’s a risky business move. I don’t know why it doesn’t work for all of us. If I had the answer, I’d have taken advantage of it a long time ago. I’ve some Indie friends who bring in big bucks from Select with some of their series or titles, which is fabulous. I also know of author friends who’ve pulled their Select titles and seen a tremendous drop in sales, or the opposite – a tremendous spike from being able to use multiple distributors. I’ve been on both sides myself. I’ve tried Select for most of my titles initially, to hopefully give it a good foothold via Amazon’s large amount of users. But that no longer seems to work for my titles or genres. And 90 days is a lot of time to lose sales via other platforms like B&N’s Nook or iTunes/iBooks, Kobo, etc… In fact, I’d lose money if I pulled my books off NOOK and elsewhere to list them all on Select. Not only would that suck for the non-Amazonites out there, but it would be a bad business move for me.

So, I may not have the answers, but I do have some numbers. My Station novelettes have been in Select since publication. They don’t sell a whole heck of a lot – really it’s the hardcore Station series readers that invest in them, which I’m very grateful for. I don’t do promotions often because there’s a limited amount you can do in any 90 day period – so perhaps that’s my fault.

Anyway, skip forward to this week. From Monday – Friday, I’ve had a Countdown Deal going for each of my three novelettes. It was an experiment, really. Even though there’s still Friday to contend with, I know at this point, that the promotion didn’t work. The sales for each title are down this week, not up. How is that possible with a promotional deal? Doesn’t seem to make sense, but yet, it happened.

Compared to last week’s sales, NILES is down 56%, MALLORY is down 50% and Kerry-Anne is also down 60%. What the actual F? I kind of want to spell out the word ridiculous to emphasize how absurd those numbers are, but that’s a lot of dashes. I won’t do that to you. I’ll just let you go back now and read those numbers one more time. Like I said: ridiculous.

Here’s a secret – I did NO promotion for this week’s Countdown Deals on purpose. WHY? Because I wanted to see if they work organically to improve sales. And the big fat answer of the week is NOPE. I’ve promoted such deals in the past and seen small bumps in sales, but the real promotion success has come from outside advertising – not with Amazon. Like I said, nothing from Select has ever worked for me, and I’ve had all lengths and genres in there. I actually sell more books on Amazon without being in Select where the ‘promotional deals’ taunt writers. Yeah, scratch your head at that one.

So, what’s the answer? You’ll be mad when I tell you this, but there is no right answer. Because every author’s work, their experience, their email contact list, their overall visibility in the writing world, their social media presence, their covers, their luck, their everything – is different – there’s NO right way for all of us.

Bummer. I know. Select failed me this week, this month really. But I won’t pull my titles just yet. I’m trying to be the glass is half full kind of person. I have another promotion for the novelettes that I can do in the future before their current Select term is up, and it will be another experiment. And the next time – I’ll promote it myself to see if that gives a different outcome. I want Select to work for me. I really do. But it’s a fight. And how long should I fight before I’m ready to submit defeat with Select and win the battle with someone else?

Sure, it could be worse, but it could also be better. This is Amazon we’re talking about. I hope someone is listening.

Books Page Update – Get yourself a freebie!

Yeah, I know what some might be thinking…Another page update, didn’t you just do that? Yes, I did. But, it’s for a good reason, I swear! A website is an organic and always changing thing, y’all. lol Plus, this updated page clarifies how readers can pick up FREE TMDBooks. It’s a win-win. Well, mostly a win for readers. *wink*

The BOOKS page has been updated to include a contact form for Reviewers. Please take a peek and fill out the form if you’re interested! On the page is also listed which TMDBooks are currently free. Hopefully, this helps! You can find the BOOKS page at the top in the header menu, or simply click on the link below to go directly to the page.


The BOOKS PAGE IS HERE


Don’t forget to look at the sub categories listed under the BOOKS page to view each series, listed individually, if you are looking for something in particular.

Happy Reading, y’all!