Little Miss Lovesick Is Free Today Through Saturday

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzHi friends! I hope you’re having a great week! Maybe I can make it a tiny bit better. Would you like to read Little Miss Lovesick for free? You can if you download it from the Kindle Store either for your Kindle or your Kindle app on your computer, smart phone, or tablet.

I’m running a promotion this week, Tuesday through Saturday, to help readers who like sweet chick-lit romantic comedies find my book and give it a try. What I’m really hoping is that readers like you will leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you like to leave and read reviews. This helps new readers to see what other people liked and disliked so they can decide if it’s a book they would enjoy.

Would you do me a favor? Please share this post with the social media buttons below. I’d be so happy to know you wanted to tell your friends about Little Miss Lovesick. 😀 And let me know if you liked this one. I’ve had two people tell me this week that they enjoyed it so much they want to read more set in the same area (my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan). Wow! Thank you, friends! If there’s a character whose story you’d particularly like to read, let me know. Maybe I can do that for you. 🙂

And if you’re interested from a writer’s perspective of how the various promotional strategies performed, let me know in the comments below and I can write a post here sharing what I did, how much it cost, and how well it worked.

Meanwhile, Happy Reading!

One Day Sale – 20 Books for 99 Cents Each

Little Miss Lovesick_NEWSIZE_FINALI was thrilled to be invited to join a group of friends who wanted to do a fun cross-promotion for our books. For one day, today, all of our books – all in various sub-genres of romance – will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents! Yay!

If you like my books, you’ll find several in this list you would enjoy. 🙂 And if you’re reading this after Friday, my book Little Miss Lovesick (and perhaps some of the others) will still be on sale through the weekend. Plus, I’ve made Lovesick 99 cents across all retailers, so you can get it for a buck on Barnes & Noble or iTunes or anywhere you like to buy ebooks!

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook or other places, would you mind passing this information along? I’d love to feel like I helped my friends find new fans. 😀 Thanks a million!

Happy reading!

Kathy Bennett, A Deadly Justice

Kitty Bucholtz, Little Miss Lovesick

Linda Carroll-Bradd, Capturing the Marshal’s Heart

Kathleen Creighton, The Prince and the Patriot

Jacqueline Diamond, The Cowboy and the Heiress

Gillian Doyle, Mystic Memories

Susan R. Hughes, A Baby for Christmas

Michelle Knowlden, Indelible Beats

Heather MacAllister, Counterfeit Cowgirl

Mindy Neff, The Bad Boy Next Door

Louella Nelson, Cora Lee

Lyn O’Farrell, Worth the Risk

Dee Ann Palmer, Where Eagles Cry

Sandra Paul, Last Chance For Marriage

Michael H. Payne, A Curial Quartet

Edie Ramer, Christmas at Angel Lake

Angie Ray, Ghostly Enchantment

Susan Squires, Waiting For Magic

Kristy Tate, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent

Patricia Thayer, Colton Creek Cowboy

Little Miss Lovesick Is In Print!

Finally!! LOL!!

I’ve been waiting to share this news with you for years! When Stephanie and Shonna and I started 2012, we each picked an area we wanted to discuss for the year, and mine was self-publishing. Now I have officially self-published a book in digital form and print form. Yay!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Little Miss Lovesick for yourself and/or give it to friends or family for Christmas, I have my own CreateSpace store page up now. You can see the book’s description and order copies and generally cheer that I finally made it! 🙂

I wrote a post on my web site with fun bits of trivia about how Little Miss Lovesick came to be. You might enjoy reading that, too. 🙂

From more of a writerly standpoint, I thought I’d share a few publishing details here for my last regular post on Routines for Writers.

  • I’ve thought about self-publishing long enough that I decided, if I was going to do it, I was going to set myself up as my own micropublishing company. I filed a DBA (also known as a fictitious business name), bought a block of 100 ISBN numbers, registered my company name rather than my own name with self-publishing sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, PubIt! (Barnes & Noble), Smashwords, CreateSpace, etc., and I asked John to make a logo for us. I’m also going to join the Independent Book Publishers Association with my 2013 budget.
  •  I bought a lot of ebooks and paper books to help me learn how to self-publish my books. If I had continued to use Word to format my book, Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages would have been the most useful. But since I decided to go a more professional route (for one thing, my husband John is a former graphic designer, has all the software, and I’ve used some of it before), Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual Vol 1 and Vol 2 have been the most helpful so far.
  • Aaron Shepard has two other books that I bought, but have only skimmed, that I think will be useful in helping me figure out how to promote my books better, how to help them be more discoverable. They are Aiming at Amazon and POD for Profit.
  • Going to the Self-Publishers Online Conference was also a big help. Lots of good information there, and super nice, helpful people. They also suggested a few more books and web sites, but I haven’t gone through all that material yet.
  • I bought a photo from Dreamstime.com and John (former graphic designer, remember? lucky me!) played with it in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the full cover for both the ebook and the print book.
  • John owns QuarkXPress 7.2, a professional desktop publishing program, and I’ve used it to create newsletters in the past so I was familiar with the basics of how to use it. For both of these reasons – but particularly the “professional” part – we used it to create the interior layout. HOWEVER, we had problems getting the program to create a pdf (needed to upload to CreateSpace or Lightning Source or just about any print company). It crashed every time. So I had to send the file out to Staples and they were awesome! But now, because we need to upgrade John’s Photoshop and Illustrator programs for future book covers, we are going to buy Adobe InDesign as part of the Creative Suite. Interestingly, one of their “top 10 reasons you should switch from Quark” is that it will create pdf files quickly and easily. I hope so.
  • There are two options on CreateSpace (Amazon’s print self-publishing arm) for proofing your book, the digital proof and the print proof. I am a former magazine editor who used to use both to be sure we had the most perfect copy of our magazine we could manage, so I used both this time, too. (It takes about a week or so longer to wait for the print proof before approving the file.) I did find some errors, so I’m glad I took the time.

Those are the highlights of what I did over the last year. I hope you find it useful in your own journey.

As I mentioned, this is my last regular post. We’ll be posting irregularly from now till June. (Our web hosting is paid till then.) I’ll continue to post a couple times a week on my own web site, letting you know what is happening with my books, and writing silly things like my Netflix Picks column. 🙂

Stephanie will post when she’s not crazy busy with school. And at the end, you’ll hear from all three of us saying goodbye to you. Meanwhile, we hope you have a fabulous holiday season, and happy writing! 🙂

Printing Books and Saying Goodbye

Hi friends! As you know, I’ve been working hard on getting more books written and self-published. Very exciting times for me! For the last year, I’ve expected to have to say goodbye to you here on Routines for Writers, and that goodbye is swiftly approaching. My last weekly post will be in two weeks.

But that just means you can visit me at a new location! Yay! My web site is at http://kittybucholtz.com/ and I’ll keep you updated on the new books I have coming out, as well as talk about funny things like what I’ve watched on Netflix, and interesting things like brain science. I hope you decide to come visit me there. (I’ll miss you if you don’t!)

This past week I’ve been working on the interior design of the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. At first, it was daunting to the point of not even wanting to start! Since it’s my first time putting a book into print, I was a bundle of nerves, afraid the whole process would be so time-consuming because of my learning curve that I would not only never finish it, but I would’ve wasted all that time I could’ve been writing. Funny what fear can do to you!

But my awesome husband sat me down at his computer where he has Quark Xpress and he opened the file he’d created for my book (he used to be a graphic designer). He showed me how to use a few key commands, and I started editing. I found a couple dozen punctuation changes I wanted to make, but only a few words that were missing or mistaken. After I finished the copy edit, I did a bunch of other little things like –

  • changing the justification to fully justified
  • making each chapter start on a new page, with the chapter heading partway down the page
  • deleting the headers from the first page of every chapter
  • making the first word of every chapter all caps
  • adding an icon to each scene break (a little fish since the heroine meets the hero on a fishing trip)
  • moving most of the hyphenated words to the next line so the pages look cleaner
  • updating the copyright page for the print version
  • and getting John’s help making the title page look attractive

If you’re doing any self-publishing, keep the above list as a starting place on formatting your print version. You may add some more items to your list, as I may over time. But it’s a helpful place to start.

Whew! It was a huge amount of work, but the inside of the book looks great! Now I just have to write the back cover copy and help John finish the full book cover. Then it will be ready to put up for sale at Amazon!! Woo-hooo!! I can’t wait!!

I’ll let you know when it’s available for sale in print. I’m trying to have it ready by Thanksgiving, but it may be the first week of December. (It’s already available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and many more online retailers.) If I have any tips about the cover or any of the “getting your first book into print” issues, I’ll tell you about them over the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, have an awesome week! See you on my web site! 🙂

What Are My Options?

One of the big questions in every area of life is – what are my options? How do I want my hamburger cooked, what do I want on my pizza, how do I like my coffee – the smaller questions. What will I do for a living, how can I make ends meet until the work brings in the money, which of several directions should I take to get there – the bigger questions. (Why am I here, what is God’s plan for me, where will I go when I die – the most important questions, but not directly related to writing. 🙂 )

In writing, I’ve asked myself if I want to write fiction or nonfiction, business articles or romances, romantic comedies or superhero books with a romantic thread. While I like each of these ideas and many more, I have learned in life that you have to focus first to get started in any new endeavor. You can spread yourself thinner later. So I published a few nonfiction pieces, then focused on romance.

I went to Christian writers conferences in the early years because those were the writer friends I was hanging around. I got close enough that I was getting phone calls from an editorial assistant at Tyndale House, but I was writing just enough out of step that we could never quite get my work to run along on their track. Things never worked out.

A friend introduced me to her agent and soon I had representation. Surely my big break! It seemed the right thing to do was to continue with the romantic comedies (called chick lit at that moment, but shhh, don’t say that phrase any more). My agent and I talked about different things I could try when chick lit died. I chose not to pursue an opportunity with a Christian publisher who pays tiny advances. I was too insecure to try writing YA when my agent suggested it. I could see I had options, and – right or wrong – I made the best choices I could.

After four and a half years, I talked to my agent and decided to walk away. I was trying to do what I felt she wanted me to do, but my creativity was drying up by trying so hard. I needed a break. I’d been thinking about going to grad school for years, so when the opportunity came up, I took it. It was so beyond different from what I expected, not challenging at all, that I complained for a long time about what a waste of time it was.

But over the last couple of months, I remembered that I do have options. I can choose to live with disappointment over my grad school work, or focus on what I learned from it. For instance, I learned that I can write YA! I got some extraordinary feedback on a YA story I wrote. More excellent feedback on a spiritual dystopia/urban fantasy I wrote for my final project. And after flying to last year’s RWA National Conference the morning after my last class, and hearing a couple more editors tell me they weren’t sure they could sell my work, I knew I had another option.

I came home from that conference and decided, as an experiment, I was going to self-publish Little Miss Lovesick, the book my agent almost sold to two houses before chick lit died. When the process went a bit smoother than I expected, I considered my options again. I could keep trying to write and pitch my work to the current establishment, or I could start my own business again. The idea of running my own publishing company got my endorphins dancing.

One option that worked out for me was choosing to get involved in two self-published anthologies. The first one, Romancing the Pages, will come out in September as an ebook – see the lovely cover here. My superhero short story “Hero in Disguise” is one of nineteen short stories I hope you enjoy. In a few months, another anthology will be published with a dozen or so short stories written by my friends in my Sydney writer’s group. Another group of stories I think you’ll enjoy. My “Rescue at Loon Lake” is a fun little precursor to my novel Love at the Fluff and Fold.

It’s been a heck of a year. Several moves, several deaths, more months of unemployment than paid work between John and me, a lot of trials and testing. Career-wise, the worst part for me has been not being able to follow-through on my goals, my commitments to myself that I made end of last year. I’d planned to get Little Miss Lovesick into print by Christmas, finish and self-publish Love at the Fluff and Fold digitally and in print by March, and have the next book out in September.

Due to the weight of life this year, I’ve thought about sending my work to other publishers, let them do some of the work in return for some of the monetary rewards. I know I have options. Maybe giving myself a little break would help. It’s an awful lot of work to do all of the publishing work yourself. Several wise men in the Bible have said to count the costs before you start building so you don’t wind up broke, half-finished, and a laughingstock. I think I know the costs of continuing down my current path, and I’m willing to pay them.

I’ll continue to try to keep my options in mind at least once a year so I can adjust my course as necessary. It’s a good writing routine to have. In fact, because I love teaching and miss doing it more, I’m going to offer my Goal Setting and Time Management for Writers class again in January. We’ll start bright and early on the first Monday in January and get our ducks in a row for the coming year. I’ll remind you again when you can start signing up.

Whatever is going on in your life and your writing career, remember that you have options. Some will be better than others, but rarely is “I had no choice” true. What are some of your options?

When Shouldn’t I Write?

There are so many writers out there telling us what we should/must do in order to be successful. I am grateful to everyone who is willing to share in order to help others find their way. But I am somewhat less grateful to those who couch their advice in terms of “should” and “must.”

I believe that all of us find our own best path when it comes to how we get things done. For some people, their best path is one that takes more time – seemingly wasting time to others who appear more efficient. For instance, some writers write multiple versions of scenes before they decide which direction they want to go. Other writers decide first and write one draft. Who has the best path? Sometimes the easiest way to understand this concept of finding your own path is to use something you don’t do well as an example.

I don’t cook very well. I have a few dishes that I can make pretty tasty every time – I just made John and Doug bacon-wrapped meatloaf for dinner – but mostly I despise cooking only a little more than I hate cleaning up. I would LOVE to be wealthy enough to have someone cook and clean for me every day for the rest of my life!

So when I do cook, if someone or something convinces me to try something new, I have found that I should double the prep time. One time, it took me 2 1/2 hours to prepare lasagna wraps out of the “easy” Betty Crocker cookbook. The prep time in the cookbook was 45 minutes.  John was pretty starving hungry by the time we ate that night.

Looking at something I don’t do well and rarely enjoy, it’s easier to see how to adjust other people’s “should’s” to work for me, easier than trying to apply it to something I do pretty well and enjoy, like writing. Following me so far?

Stephanie and I were on a writing retreat once where she did all the cooking and I did all the grocery shopping. I ate like a Queen that week! Steph laughed at me so many times when I gushed about how good her food was, and she kept insisting it was so easy. She eventually learned that cooking is not easy for me.

Now compare all the writing advice you’ve heard. I’d guess that over 90% of the advice you hear works for the person who said it. (I suspect that some people tell you what they believe to be the best way to do something even though they haven’t been able to be completely successful doing it that way.) But just because it works for someone, or lots of someones, doesn’t mean it will work for me or for you.

Take writing every day for example. I do believe that working consistently is the best way to build structure and habits and routines that will get you through the hard times when you don’t know what to write, or when life keeps you from writing as much as you used to. But I don’t believe every writer needs to write 5 or 6 or 7 days a week, rain or shine or Christmas or funeral, in order to be successful.

I’ve found that a menu system works better for me. I work every day, 4-7 days a week, but I don’t write every day. Some days I’ll write for 8 or 10 hours, other days I’ll do other “business of writing” work for the whole day. My brain works smoother and more fully when I do only one or two major tasks a day. I’ll spend an entire day doing a week’s worth or a month’s worth of accounting rather than take a few minutes every day. That’s the menu item I chose on that day. On another day, I’ll choose to write all my blogs for the next week or two. On a different day, I’ll spend most of the day researching, reading, and journaling to get my thoughts stirred up or organized.

So how do I know when I “should” write if I don’t have a specific schedule? Well, first let me say I’m curing myself of the “should’s.” But how do I know if I’m choosing what Stephanie calls creative procrastination or if I’m really procrastinating or being lazy? That’s a tough question. I don’t have the answer for me, let alone you. But I will say that asking yourself the question in the first place will often give you a gut feeling as to which one you’re in now.

Most of you know I’ve had a pretty tough year. Several funerals, several periods of unemployment, financial hardship, two moves, it’s been all I can do to keep from wallowing in self-pity let alone try to keep to a writing schedule. On the one hand, I have the feeling that I haven’t gotten much done this year. On the other hand, I wrote stories for two anthologies that will be out later this year, brainstormed a new series of books, worked on getting Little Miss Lovesick into print, and attended two writing retreats and a national conference. I’ve also been learning how to run a publishing company since I’m self-publishing my books.

Under the circumstances, I feel pretty good about what has been accomplished! I’m working on getting more of a schedule going, creating a printed menu of work for each month, and in general getting more done starting this week. But I’m still not going to force myself to write every day because that’s not how I work best.

What should you do this week? Begin by tossing the word “should” out the window. (I’m not saying you definitely “should” but I think you’ll find it helpful.) Then look back over your writing life and your regular life and look for patterns when you felt like you achieved the most and were happiest. That’s where you’re going to find the answers for you.

I need to find some time each week for silly fun, some time for TV and movies, some time for reading fiction and nonfiction, some time alone, and some time with other people. Some varying amount of each of these help me to get the most work done during the week.

Looking over your life, what do you think will work best for you?

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – Kitty

What a quick two months it has been! Another month and summer will be over?! Holy smokes! So what have I been doing? Well…

As many of you know, my mother died in May. That was rough, and I don’t seem to remember much about June. In that respect, I’m glad that we decided to take a summer break here at Routines for Writers. I needed time. (And I thank all of you who have commented or sent me encouraging notes or hugged me when you saw me. You’re all such a great group of people!)

In July, I hit the restart button again. (We’ve talked about that before. I love that button.) I got back into my writing groove, finalizing a short story for one anthology and writing a new one for another anthology.

In August, “Hero in Disguise” will be published in Romancing the Pages, an ebook anthology of 17 short stories by writers of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America. (See a picture of the cover here by Winterheart Design.) My story is the romantic meeting of the hero and heroine in my upcoming superhero romantic comedy series, The Adventures of Lewis and Clark. I love the way they meet, all dressed up on Halloween, lots of secrets between them.

Later this year, “Rescue at Loon Lake” will appear in Moonlit Encounters, an ebook anthology of 10 short stories and novellas written by my Sydney chapter-mates of the Romance Writers of Australia. Mine is the funny story of a newcomer, a lost dog, and the dog catcher. It’s part of the Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series about lonely men and lost dogs finding love and a good home with women who are learning to find their strength. The first book in the series, Love at the Fluff and Fold, will also be out later this year.

In addition, John and I have been taking advantage of a break in his schedule to get cracking on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. You may remember that I signed up to attend the Self-Publishers Online Conference in May. Due to my mom’s illness, I wasn’t able to participate at the time, but I am catching up. The suggested reading (Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, and Publishize) has been extremely helpful in putting together a nice looking print edition of the book. This also will be available later this year. You can see how busy I’ve been!

Last week, I attended the RWA National Conference in Anaheim, CA. I expected to learn a lot about craft and self-publishing and spend lots of time and energy networking – and all that happened to an even greater degree than I had hoped. But before noon on the first day, I had an unexpected surprise – I won a brand new Sony Reader!

I was so excited, I was jumping up and down. Here is a picture of me moments after Stephanie Beam Warner from the Sony Reader Store announced I’d won. I haven’t figured out yet how to get Little Miss Lovesick on it without having to purchase it, but I’ve got a nice “bookshelf” full of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells already.

Because I love excellent desserts, I have to admit – I took a picture of the amazing chocolate something-or-other we had on Friday. I texted my author friend Kathleen Wright and told her I wanted to lick the plate. She texted me back to do it, but I restrained myself. Barely. Oh my gosh, it was delicious! Of course, I remembered to take a picture of the food, but I was so focused on what I was doing and learning during the conference that I forgot to take pictures of anything else. Not even a picture of me with my friend and roommate, Lauraine Snelling. Darn!

Lauraine and I had some great brainstorming sessions and great conversations with some of our other friends who were there – authors Charlotte Carter, Nancy Farrier, and DiAnn Mills especially. I also met the president of the Independent Book Publishers Association and had a great talk with her about that organization. I now have in my budget the amount of the membership dues so I can join as soon as possible. Plus, I think I know who I want to contact when my budget can support an attorney. One of the speakers was excellent and practices law in the publishing field (and in my state!).

Finally, to round out my busy July, the day after I got home from the conference, Lauraine and Kathleen and I spent another half a day brainstorming. Exhausting, but so worth it! During five hours of using Fring and Skype, we worked through some issues for the fourth book in their S.A.V.E. Squad series and the first book in my Strays of Loon Lake series. Both books are so much better for our time together.

So there you have it. That’s more or less what I did on my summer vacation. And it doesn’t even include all the non-writing things I did! Like most good vacations, I sort of wish it wasn’t over and I still had lots of extra time to work on my book instead of our blog. But like most good vacations, I’m also glad to be back.

Now tell us what you’ve been up to this summer!

How Much Money I Made Self-Publishing in 2011

Happy Monday! As part of the changes this year at Routines for Writers, I am now starting your week with news and information about my self-publishing journey. Since it’s tax time and time to finish planning out the new year, I thought I’d compile my revenue and expenses and share them with you.

In the following list, I did not include any revenue or expenses for 2011 that were not directly related to self-publishing. All the things I bought or paid for that I would have spent money on anyway – books, DVDs, conferences/speaking events, online classes, web site, software, etc. – are in addition to these numbers.

EXPENSES

In April I started thinking I would probably self-publish if I didn’t hear good news about my genre at the Romance Writers of America national conference, so I started buying books and ebooks on how to publish ebooks. I spent $12.74 on five ebooks between April and August. I self-published Little Miss Lovesick in September. Then I spent $67.59 on three trade paperback books and three ebooks between September and December. I also bought a copy of my book for $0.99 at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble so I could double-check the formatting.

My husband is a former graphic designer so I paid $9.99 for the photo we used to create the cover, and my husband gained a lot of points to leverage against chores in the future. 🙂  I spent $15 on an online class where I learned how to format my book for Kindle, then I did all the formatting myself.

I decided that I wanted to own my ISBNs, and I wanted enough of them to continue publishing years into the future with consecutive numbers assigned to my “publishing company.” So I paid $575 for 100 ISBN numbers. I also paid $57 to file a DBA (Doing Business As) form with the State of California to use Daydreamer Entertainment as my company name. (It’s not a corporation or an LLC, it’s just permission to use a name that is not my own.)

PUBLISHING THE BOOK

I uploaded the book to Amazon on September 17. But I was pretty sure I had a formatting problem, so I asked all of my friends not to buy a copy until I fixed it on September 22. I decided I wanted to price books the way I like to buy DVDs at Best Buy and Target: on sale when they first come out, and then full price after that with occasional sales. So I set the price at $0.99 for 30 days…which really means 5-6 weeks by the time you wait for your changes to take effect across all venues.

The book went up on Barnes & Noble on September 22 and Smashwords on September 21. If you aren’t familiar with Smashwords, they distribute my book to the iTunes store, Kobo, Diesel and more. There are a couple other venues I want to use, but with the move and the holidays, I haven’t been able to complete the work yet.

SALES AND REVENUE

I think the minimum that you have to earn before getting paid (on all three sites – Amazon, B&N and Smashwords) is $10. You can download a spreadsheet showing your sales and revenue from Amazon and B&N, which I have done every month. I’m not sure about Smashwords; I have a spreadsheet with all of my sales across all their distribution channels, but I’m still reading it over and figuring it out. It looks like their spreadsheet is only available by quarter, but it includes what countries you’ve sold to. Cool.

For September through December, 2011, I’ve earned $5.39 on 17 sales from B&N, and $8.11 on 8 sales from Smashwords (for sales to Smashwords and Apple customers only, so far). Again, I won’t get paid by either of them until they owe me at least $10. As seems to be so often the case, the biggest sales are from Amazon. I’ll break it down by month.

September – $13.65 in earnings on 39 sales, paid on November 29th; $0.26 on 1 sale in the Amazon UK store, unpaid until I reach $10.

October – $12.15 on 33 sales, paid on December 23rd; no non-U.S. sales.

November – $22.05 on 9 sales, not yet paid; no non-U.S. sales. (At the end of October, the price changed from $0.99 to $3.99. You can see what a huge difference it makes!)

December – Reports are generated on the 15th of the month (next week), but it looks like Dec numbers are approximately $9.65 on 4 sales. That means I won’t get a check in February.

THE BOTTOM LINE

My total earnings for 2011 is $71.26 on 111 sales. (Of course, that’s not what I’ll report to the IRS. That number would be $25.80, the amount I actually got paid in 2011.) Total expenses for 2011 per the above is $739.30. (That is the number I’ll report to the IRS, in addition to other expenses, because I really did spend it in 2011.) That gives me a net loss of $668.04 for the year. (Again, not the number that will appear on my tax form because I had other writing-related income from teaching online classes. I just want you to understand the difference between the numbers as I’ll be presenting them to you throughout the year, and the way you report a cash-basis business on your taxes.)

You can look at these results from a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty perspective. People who have been doing this longer than me seem to agree that it takes about a year for you to really see progress, and it’s quicker if you have multiple books out. I’ve heard that nonfiction sells better than fiction; I’ll let you know if that’s true for me when I put out my nonfiction ebooks. In the “corporate” small business world, common wisdom is that it can take up to five years to start seeing profits and have a business that supports you financially. I expect I’ll be closer to the one-year mark than the five-year mark, but only time will tell.

On days when I feel despondent about the numbers, my awesome husband reminds me that a few months ago I’d sold zero books and earned zero money from my fiction. This, from a self-proclaimed pessimist, so you can see why it cheers me up so much.

Today’s a new day, it’s a new week, a new year, and I’m feeling optimistic. I have a lot to do and most days I don’t know how I can possibly do it all. But every journey is one foot in front of the other, one mile after another, so I have to focus on what to do NOW and what to do NEXT and leave the rest of it on my To Do List.

Again, ask any questions you want and I’ll try to answer. And if you’re interested in planning out your 2012 writing year with me, sign up for my online class. We start next Monday.

Until next week, Happy Writing!  🙂

Self-Publishing Changes in 2012

In September, I self-published my first novel, Little Miss Lovesick. If you’ve been reading Routines for Writers, you know that I got tired of waiting for traditional publishers to pick up my book. I liked the idea of trying something new, so I learned how to format my book for ebook readers and put it out there. It’s available on Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.

The whole process has been exciting and interesting, appealing to the business-focused part of my personality as well as my creative side. I’ve decided to continue on this path in 2012. My current plan is to self-publish two more novels this year and two nonfiction ebooks for writers. I say “current plan” because we still don’t know where John’s next job will be and, depending on how long it takes to move, I may have to reduce the number of books I write this year.

But there’s one thing that bothers me. Self-publishing in ebook format and print-on-demand (POD) format is new enough that there isn’t an acknowledged step-by-step plan for success. There are a lot of people out there for me to follow, but it’s mostly the blind leading the blind. What works for one person often doesn’t work for another. The only light I know how to follow on a dark path is Jesus. So I decided that in 2012 I am going to ask God every single day to help me on my career path. I’ve always looked to God for guidance, but I’ve been frustrated by my slow progress lately. I want to push harder on the spiritual side and see if I can find more peace and joy and fulfillment in trying to fuse my writing life to my spiritual life.

I’m going to share my journey with you every Wednesday this year because if anyone is going to understand, it’s my friends here at Routines for Writers. I may or may not suggest writing routines for you to try (which has always been the focus of this blog), but I’ll tell you what writing routines as working for me. I’ll share what exactly I’m doing as a self-published writer, what’s working, and what isn’t. I’ll tell you what my sales numbers are, how much money I’m making and, perhaps more importantly, how much money I’m spending along the way.

Please feel free to ask my any questions as we go along. Helping each other is one of the bonuses of the writing life – it feels good to help and it’s a relief to get help.

Also, remember that on January 16th, I’ll be running a 4-week online class called Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. We’ll be looking at various methods so you can choose what works best for you, and we’ll make a written plan for the year. I have to say, I’m looking forward to getting organized. I hope to see you there!

Low Level Fear Can Undermine Your Progress

We’re back in Los Angeles now, but there is almost nothing about our future that is known. I can deal with that lots of times, but I don’t deal well with stressful situations when I’m not sleeping well. Saturday it seemed like I could only think of the downsides and the negatives in our situation. Half of everything I felt I needed to get my To Do list done is on a ship in Sydney Harbour. John talked me through my fears trying to help me pinpoint the problem so we could find some solutions. Then the next day we went to our old church, Bel Air Presbyterian, and the sermon was about anxiety and getting around it.

Wow.

I am always amazed when God steps in and shakes my shoulder to get my attention. Because we have friends who go to both the 9am and 11am services at church and we haven’t seen them for a couple years, we stayed for both services…so I got a double dose of the message. Probably a good thing.  🙂

So Monday I started my week with some time away with John in Palm Springs. My goal was to spend the week working on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick, getting some writing done on my next book and a short story coming out in an anthology, and resting. I would love to end the week with the feeling that I’d caught up on my sleep! By the end of the day yesterday, I already felt better and had made a dent in my To Do list. Now all I can think about is how to make this letting-go-of-anxiety twist an intentional part of my career in 2012.

Next year is leap year – we have a February 29th in 2012. I’ve been thinking about making it my leap of faith year. How can I put that into concrete terms? What can I intentionally do differently next year? And how will that affect my readership? Am I willing to risk losing some blog readers and potential book readers by not only being myself in an even more transparent way, but focusing on taking faith-based risks in my career? For a whole year?

The thought is both scary and exciting. Which feeling will win?  🙂

If you’re also thinking about next year and what goals you want to make for 2012, you might want to consider joining me in my online class. I’m again leading “Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer” for the Orange County Chapter of RWA. You can read about the class and sign up for it on that page. I’d love to work together to make our 2012 goals purposeful and doable.

I’m a member of the Dark Side Down Under blog, Australian and New Zealand writers who write speculative fiction of various kinds. Last week I wrote post titled, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published about how I started writing romantic comedies and how I ended up self-publishing one. You might find it fun to see how things worked for me. It was fun to get it all down on paper, so I decided to re-post it this Friday on the OCC RWA blog, too.

Well, I’m feeling much better than on Saturday. I’m sure letting go of the fear of the unknown future went a long way toward getting a lot done already this week. I’m learning a lot about my new career path (self-publishing) from Aaron Shepard with his books, Aiming at Amazon, POD for Profit and Perfect Pages. Those books – and some research trips to bookstores – are helping me figure out how to make the best choices in getting Little Miss Lovesick into print. It’s been tough to focus on doing the best job no matter how long it takes rather than making sure the book is available for sale in time for Christmas orders. But maybe if I don’t let fear influence my decisions, I’ll reap greater rewards in the end.