Month: July 2011

Wizards, soccer, and writing, oh my!

Today I’m over at We Heart YA talking about how and when I joined the “Harry Potter party.” I would love to see you there!

Also, WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING ESPN?! The US women’s soccer team is taking on France RIGHT NOW (11:30 a.m. EST). Go go go!

Speaking of parties, writer and “drawg-er” extraordinaire K. Marie Criddle did a perfect illustration of the online writing party we’re all a part of.

And last but not least, The Intern tells a fable about a queen, a spoon, and some drops of oil. Spoiler: It’s a cool metaphor for writing. And life.

Pressure makes us

First, I want to thank everyone for your messages of encouragement and support regarding last week’s post. I think downs are just as natural as ups, and that was my point: Sometimes life is overwhelming, and that’s okay. We don’t have to be ashamed of it, we don’t have to hide it. That said, it’s much easier to bear when you have such great people in your life cheering you on. Thank you all.

Second, I want to talk about the US women’s soccer team. If you’re like most people in America, you may have no idea that the Women’s World Cup is going on right now, and that the US is in the playoffs. But it is, and they are.

Yesterday they played Brazil in the first elimination round. Meaning you lose, you go home. And for half the game, it looked like the US women would be boarding a plane at the end of the night. Thanks to a red card (let’s not talk about the refereeing) the US was playing 10 people against Brazil’s 11. The odds were against them.

Somehow they hung on, though, and the regular 90-minute game ended in a 1-1 tie, which necessitated a 30-minute overtime. Brazil scored almost immediately, and I admit: I thought it was over then. As the minutes ticked away, so did my hope. One announcer even said this would go down as the US women’s team’s worst showing in World Cup history.

Then, with less than a minute to go, Megan Rapinoe kicked the ball to Abby Wambach, who headed it into the back right corner of the Brazilian net. The goal was so unbelievable, so exciting, so perfect, that I actually have tears in my eyes just writing about it now. I screamed, sending my poor dog flying off the couch, and I really think my heart stopped.

By tying the game up 2-2 in extra time, the US forced the match into Penalty Kicks. They made 5 out of 5 PKs. The Brazilian team did not.

The US’s mind-blowing comeback win not only revved me up for the rest of the night, it also reminded me that pressure can be a good thing. Sure, sometimes it’s intimidating, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. But sometimes it pushes us to work harder than ever before. Sometimes it brings out our best. Sometimes it makes us who we are.

Just keep swimming

Do you ever feel like you’re being tested? Like the universe is throwing hurdles across your path to see whether or not you can clear them? It’s been that kind of a week for me. That kind of a year, even.

As most of you probably know, I quit my job 5 months ago in order to pursue my writing full-time. I don’t think I made that decision naively; I knew it would be hard. But it’s one thing to know it, and another thing to live it. Right now “hard” feels like understatement of the year.

At the beginning, I had 12 months, pure and promising, stretched out ahead of me like a luxurious bubble bath. But as each day ticked by — each dollar, each unwritten word — the suds started to disappear and the water turned cold. Now I’m sitting naked in the tub, feeling more vulnerable and anxious than ever before.

I am well aware that this is a “first world problem.” I have food and clothes and shelter, and I can afford (more or less) to give myself this time. I’m not trying to whine. But as bills add up, and things break down, and time trickles away, I do find myself panicking a bit. The tub grows in my mind; it becomes a pool, a lake, an ocean. I know the shore is there, and I’m swimming toward it, but my arms are tired and I have no idea how long until I reach land.

It’s too late to turn back. I don’t really want to, anyway. But I admit, I’m scared. I’m afraid of sinking. Of drowning. Of failing.

There’s no real point to this post except to confess. To release this inner demon so I can face it. I’m stressed and terrified, despite my vast support network. If I am chronicling my journey as a writer, then I have to include this part of it.


Giveaway winners, ebook pricing, and parentheses

Apparently it’s a day for J’s. The June giveaway winners are Janet for THE BOAT and Julia for BEE SEASON. Congra-julations! I’ll email you shortly for mailing addresses.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

If anyone wants to win ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White, or AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE by Lurlene McDaniel, hop on over to We Heart YA. Me and my crit partners have a fun and easy giveaway going there too. (Not too many entries so far, so your odds are good!)

I’m not sure if anyone is curious about this, but just in case, I thought I would update you on my ebook pricing experiment. In May, I (somewhat reluctantly) lowered the price of my ebook TWENTY-SOMEWHERE to 99 cents. My concerns were that this would show that I didn’t value my work (which I do!) or didn’t consider it to be of quality (which I do!). However, I also didn’t want to be too proud or stubborn to try something that has been successful for many writers. (Although fewer than the media would have you think.)

What I found was that I definitely sold more copies at 99 cents than I did at $2.99. However, because of the difference in royalty percentages (35% at 99 cents vs. 70% at $2.99) I would have had to sell SIX times as many copies to make the same (small) amount of money. I only sold about three times as many copies.

So. Midway through June, I decided to go back to my original price point. I figured I’d rather earn more money selling fewer copies — and entice people to actually READ my work, since anecdotal evidence suggests that many people “stock up” on “freebies and cheapies” but never actually get around to reading them.

(Case in point: I have like a dozen 99-cent-or-less titles on my Kindle. They have been sitting there for weeks, and will probably continue to do so until I find myself stranded without reading material for a long period of time.)

However, an interesting thing happened.

I use Smashwords as an intermediate to publish my ebook to Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and a few other retailers. Because of the extra steps involved, price updates to those retailers could take anywhere from days to weeks. (Interestingly, my price DECREASE went through immediately, whereas my price INCREASE has yet to propagate.) So right now, my ebook sells for $2.99 everywhere except Sony, Kobo, and… Amazon?

Apparently, even though I directly control the price of my ebooks at Amazon, they do a competitive price-matching thing. And to my pleasant surprise, I as an author am not penalized for that. Because I set my price at $2.99, I get the 70% royalty rate, even though Amazon is selling my ebook for 99 cents (which technically is supposed to only get a 35% royalty rate). So it’s win-win: I get the higher royalty rate, readers get the low low price.

What doesn’t change is that I don’t know if anyone is actually READING my ebook. It got another rating or two on GoodReads, but nothing at Amazon or the other online retailers. Bummer, but oh well.

So that’s where things stand now. I would like ALL the retailers to get back to the $2.99 price point, and I may have to send some support emails to Smashwords if I don’t see that happen soon. But in the meantime, this isn’t an awful compromise, and now I know some more about playing with the pricing and royalties.

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