Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Dood It!

It's alive! My first-ever self-published novel, The Mountain Lion King, is now available through Smashwords and Amazon! Smashwords has already started distribution, so it should also be available through Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and a ton of other ebook vendors. I'm focusing on Smashwords and Amazon because they have the name recognition, and those are the places where I uploaded.

Brief blurb: Mountain lion shifter Rick Donnelly lives alone on his Montana mountain and likes it … until he finds himself defending a Bengal tiger bride who ran away from her intended husband. Hubby is a piece of work who's out to kill them both. Rick and Bari fall in love. It's a paranormal romance of the shapeshifter variety and yes, it does have a happy ending, psychotic tigers notwithstanding.

This book began as random posts on Shapeshifter Seductions. Click on the link to hop over there and read the full commercial. The blog you're on here is my Author's Notes, continuing my account of how and why I ended up self-publishing.

I believe I've mentioned the reasons before, but here they are again: I self-pubbed as a legal courtesy to my fellow Shapeshifter Seductions authors. We've created a shared world over there, and this book is set in it. I used concepts and a couple of characters in my book that were created by others. If I'd gone to a regular publisher with this, copyright problems might arise, lawyers would get called in, and everybody loses. Therefore, by mutual agreement, any book set in Talbot's Peak needs to be self-published. Sorry, Matlock, no court case for you this week.

Last time I blogged I was wrapping up the formatting. I ended up skipping the linked Table of Contents because I couldn't get the damn thing to link correctly. If done right, you click on, say, "About the Author" and it jumps you to the back of the book and the author bio. Mine wouldn't jump. After wrestling with it for a good chunk of the morning, I decided just having a ToC was enough. A lot of readers don't bother with all that stuff in the back of the book anyway. If they want to read it, it'll be there when they get to the end of the book. If you can't wait, well, that's why keyboards have a "Page Down" key.

With formatting as done as I could manage, I went to the library, got on Smashwords, set up an account, and sent my baby into the world. Forget what I said last week. Uploading was surprisingly easy. Far more easy than the formatting, but that was my first time. I think I spent more time wrapping my head around the instructions than I did actually formatting. If you're going to self-publish, follow the instructions in the Style Guide. They work. At least, they worked for me. My file shot right through the system with no reportable errors. Good thing I decided not to link the Table of Contents.

And that was that. The book went live on Smashwords almost immediately. I enjoyed about twenty minutes of first-page display fame before other people's books knocked me off, but that's how it goes. The book has been manually checked and approved and is being shipped off to vendors as we speak.

I'm hoping there are no problems. I couldn't check my Epub file because even though I installed the Adobe Digital app, my laptop wouldn't open the file. I'm sure if there had been problems Smashwords would have told me. If you get an Epub version and it has issues, drop me a line, okay?

Uploading at Amazon was similarly smooth and problem-free. It took me longer to fill out all the paperwork than it did to upload the book. That one I was able to preview, and it looked okay. I now officially recommend skipping a linked Table of Contents.

My book was up on Amazon in less than 48 hours. I already have an author page over there, so I've added it to my backlist. Now all I have to do is market like crazy, which includes promo like this blog. Then sit back and watch the money roll in.

Yeah, right. Since I hit "upload" back on Monday, I've sold exactly one copy, and that was to fellow SSS writer Rebecca. Thanks, Rebecca, I do appreciate the support, and when your novel comes out I'll buy a copy because I've read your excerpts on the blog and it's damned impressive. You can write, woman! Thanks also to Savanna and her editing assistance. Savanna gets her plug in the Bonus Chapters. There is no link from the Table of Contents. Sorry, you'll just have to scroll.

I don't know at this point how my sales will go. I could do okay, or sink without a trace. Even if you go with a regular publisher, that's the chance you take. Right now it's way too soon to make predictions. Remind me in six months and I'll give you an update.

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Since this wouldn't be a proper blog by me if I didn't bitch about something, I'll leave you with this: Amazon is only paying me 35% royalties. It used to be 70% for a self-published ebook, but that changed on January 1 of this year. Something to do with tax laws in Europe. Amazon still offers the 70% option, but only if you're exclusive to Kindle. If you want to sell elsewhere, as I did, you have to sacrifice your percentage.

And what, pray tell, does Amazon do to earn the Lion King's share of your money? They display your book on their virtual shelves. That's it. Amazon does not pay you for the right to publish your book. They do not provide editing. Their upload system does provide stock art and the means to create your own cover if you don't have one already. They will do some promotion, but only if you're selling exclusively through them, and only if you're selling a lot. The more you sell, the more they make, so the harder they'll push your (or is it their?) product. Self-fulfilling prophesy again.

The rest of us are basically paying to have our wares displayed on the world's biggest retail site with the most name recognition. My largest percentage of sales do come through Amazon, so I can't discount it out of hand. But a 65% cut of the take when I did all the heavy lifting and they're just providing a venue? Over at Smashwords, the author can earn royalties of up to 80%. Trouble is, even Smashwords admits not many people buy from their site. Smashwords sales come mainly from their distribution outlets. Those royalties are still higher than Amazon's grab.

My final recommendation: if you choose to self-publish, go exclusive with Amazon for the first few months, until sales start to drop off. Then switch to the lower royalty rate and self-pub with Smashwords for wider book distribution. That's what I'll be doing with my next self-published novel, which may not happen for a while. My next book will be through a regular publisher. Let somebody else do the editing, marketing, and cover artwork. I'm a writer, not a small business.

Or maybe we should be a small business. I'll have to talk it over with the other Shapeshifter Seductions writers and see if we want to be publishers. Ellora's Cave is practically extinct, so there's a void someone could fill. But then we'd have to call in lawyers. Never mind.

1 comment:

Savanna Kougar said...

Big Kudos!!! Regardless, you accomplished your goal. And this is a FUN, FUN, CLEVER, AND ENTERTAINING Action Shifter Romance. And I love Rick and Bari.
Wishing you great success.

I may NOT upload to Amazon at all with my next Indie book, or I'll put a higher price on it. I mean authors shouldn't sell themselves cheap.