Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Cost of Writing

There have been several posts lately on Facebook from people either asking where they can find 'free' books (basically, looking for book piracy sites that steal authors' work) or people complaining that books are too expensive (most self-published books at between $1.99 and $3.99). I decided to educate those people in what it costs the self-published author to produce one book, including the time it takes to do the writing/rewriting/editing based just at Federal Minimum Wage.

Here's the breakdown:


Cost to produce a book compared to working the same hours for minimum wages.

Federal Minimum Wage:        7.25 per hour

Average writing times: * (this varies from author to author/book to book. Some require more intensive research time.)  

30 hours per week       =          $217.50
24 weeks (minimum) for first draft    =          $5,220.00
12 weeks (average) for second/third drafts   2,610.00
            Total in writing time:                          $7,830.00

Additional costs: (out of pocket for self-published authors)

Cover art (average)                                              150.00
Editing (based on 70k word book)                   1,680.00 *      
Copy editing (70k word book)                            840.00 *   
(Rates from Editorial Freelancers Association. Actual rates for editors may vary.)                                  

Total Estimated Average Production Cost:     $10,500.00 *

* (If the author uses marketing and promotional services that charge a fee, this amount goes up.)

Average royalty from Amazon.com based on book cost:

Royalty per book on books priced at $3.99 (the ‘upper’ end)            $2.76  (this is before taxes and if the author elected for distribution that allows 70% royalty.)

This means the author has to sell at least 5,400 books just to break even for time and costs to produce one book, after taxes.

5400 x $2.76 = $14.904 (less approximately 30% for taxes) = $10,432.80 after tax income.


That’s what it takes for an author to make minimum wage on one book.

Now, I've been writing for sixteen years and self-publishing for the past two years. I made even less money per book with books published by a publisher.

And don't get me started on refunds. Well, that was my previous blog post. Yes, there are people who purchase an ebook, read it and then return it for a refund. And I/we get paid NOTHING. This, to me, is stealing. If you've read the entire book and returned it, you've stolen my work. Well, you can go back and read my previous post about Amazon Return Policy.

So, why do we authors even bother? What's the reward? Love. We love to write. We love to create stories that entertain and make people think. We love our readers. Are we really asking too much that readers pay between $1.99 and $3.99 (on the average) to read our book? I'd bet some people pay more than that for a cup of coffee.

Know that I am extremely grateful to my readers who buy my books without complaint, read them, and often review them. I hope you feel you've gotten your money's worth. I hope you know I'm not paying the rent with royalties.

Linda

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Addressing Amazon's eBook Return Policy

As authors, we want our readers to be happy with the books they purchase. We work hard to craft stories that will engage and satisfy the reader. We recognize that, occasionally, a reader purchases a book that does not meet their standards or hopes and they want a refund. Okay, that shouldn't be a big problem.

But it is a problem with the current return policy at Amazon.com with regard to ebooks. They basically treat an ebook like any other product and allow up to seven (7) days for return. Now let's be honest folks, most of us can read an ebook in seven days. And I have, to my horror, seen people openly post on Facebook that they repeatedly purchase ebooks, read them, and then return them for a refund. Surely anyone with an ounce of sense knows how wrong this is. I recently checked and found that a short story of mine that is 19 pages long and sells for 99 cents had two returns. Really? Now I can understand if you accidentally purchase the same story twice. But it doesn't take more than seven days to read 19 pages. If it does, you have a bigger problem.

I decided to take the bull by the horns (though it might end up being much like Don Quixote battle windmills) and address this with Amazon's Senior Counsel and Senior Manager of Customer Services. I'm posting the letter I sent (sans names) in hopes that it will encourage my fellow authors and possibly even some readers who see the impracticality of this return policy to likewise address this issue.

* * *



I am an author published through KDP and with CreateSpace on Amazon.com. I am writing to you regarding the return policy Amazon currently has in place for Kindle ebooks. Your policy currently reads in part as follows: Books purchased from the Kindle Store can be returned within seven days of purchase.

I personally think that a seven day return on an ebook is much too long. You generally know within reading a small percentage of a book that you don’t like it. I recently reviewed my sales and found a short story that is 19 pages long and sells for $ .99 and had two returns. Let’s be realistic. It does not take seven days to read 19 pages. Authors are facing an uphill battle with this every day. I have personally observed people on Facebook proudly announcing that they purchase ebooks, read them, and then return them before the seven days have expired.

I am begging Amazon to please review and revise your return policy with regard to ebooks. I know Amazon has the capability to track the percentage of the book that’s read. There should be no reason for anyone to not know 10% into a book if they don’t like it or have already read it. By allowing such great flexibility with a return policy, you are allowing readers to essentially steal our property.

It seems to me that your return policy for ebooks is based on a general product return policy. But ebooks are not the same as other products such as purchasing a vacuum cleaner or a pet carrier. I feel that Amazon is showing disregard for the authors who list our books with you and are being driven by the desire to only please the customer. There has to be a balance in place.

Tell me this: If you worked for the past two weeks and, when it was time to be paid, Amazon said, “We’re not going to pay you. We changed our minds about the work you did,” would you be happy? Would you think that’s fair? This current ebook return policy is no different.

I am realistic enough to recognize that Amazon is the driving force behind self-publishing today. What I am asking for is that Amazon show a little more respect for the authors who use their service. We have enough to do to battle piracy sites out their trying to give our work away. We don’t need Amazon to be doing the same thing under the guise of a return policy that does not fit the product.

Please take this into consideration and find a fairer way of allowing people who purchased an ebook twice, got a defective file, or realized a few pages in they didn’t like the book to return it without giving them free reign to read the whole thing and get a refund, thus shorting the author out of their due. I’m sure Amazon has the ability, both intellectually and digitally, to come up with a reasonable solution to this issue.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Respectfully,



Linda Rettstatt
Author, Writing for Women

Friday, April 15, 2016

What an Incredible Honor!

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to announce that LADIES IN WAITING won the 2016 EPIC eBook Award in Contemporary Fiction. This book was initially published by Turquoise Morning Press and I happily share this award with TMP, Kim Jacobs, and editor Amie Denman. Woohoo!


I'm so very proud of this book. If you've read the book, I thank you. If you've not yet read LADIES IN WAITING--well, what are you waiting for? Here's the link to Amazon: LADIES IN WAITING

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Introducing: SMOOTH SAILING: A Second Chance Romance



I'm pleased to announce the release of my newest novel, SMOOTH SAILING: A Second Chance Romance. If you've read my books, either women's fiction or romance, you know I'm all about second chances. I enjoy writing a romance featuring a more mature couple. They offer a different substance that comes from lived experience. I hope you enjoy reading Edie and Adam's story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetite.






Edie folded the papers and deposited her ID and passport in her purse, clutching her cruise card. “Thanks.” Her heart pounded as she exited the building and stood before the massive ship. She tilted her face up into the sun and slowly took in the full height of the vessel.
Someone bumped her shoulder, and the overnight bag slid down her arm to the ground.
“Oops, sorry.” The voice, a smooth baritone, hummed in her ear.
As she bent to retrieve the bag, the man did the same. Their faces nearly collided. Edie stared into the warmest whiskey brown eyes she had ever seen. Her breath caught.
The man picked up the bag and glanced at the name tag attached. “I’m sorry…Eden. I should watch where I’m going.” He continued to grasp her bag. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
“Pardon?”
“These ships are amazing. Every time I board one, I have to stop to take in the grandeur.”
She squinted at him and placed an open palm across her brow to block the sun. “Yes. Amazing.” Graying dark hair framed a tanned face. Dark brown eyes flecked with gold smiled down at her. “Do I know you?” she asked.
“I doubt it. I would have remembered our meeting. You are Eden…?”
“Edi…Eden Montgomery. You look very familiar.”
Eden—like the proverbial paradise garden?”
A flush spread across her chest. “I…uh…” Was he flirting?
“Adam Armstrong.”
Adam, as in the first man on earth? The thought went unspoken. Recognition of the name hit her. “Oh, the travel guy from the magazine.” She shifted the squint from her right eye to her left.
Adam laughed. “That’s me. The travel guy.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Other passengers edged past them to ascend the gangway. “Well, perhaps we should board.” She reached for her bag.
“I’ve got it.” He placed a hand at her elbow to steer her toward the ramp. And the old Edie allowed him to do so.
“Is this your first cruise?” Adam asked.
“Yes. Does it show?”
“Not really. Well, maybe a little. Most passengers don’t stare at the ship like they’re entering the Emerald City.”
“That’s me—Dorothy. Or maybe I’m the lion.”
“Cowardly?”
“I used to be.”


Available now in e-book at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Coming soon to trade paperback.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WAKE-UP CALL - Second Edition



Newly republished with new material and this fantastic, shiny new cover. Is this hot or what?

City girl and social worker, Candace Hudson wants a baby, but she's given up on men. Divorced single father and Texas cattle rancher, Griff Calhoun needs a consultant for a special project. Neither one suspects that their collaboration will give them both a Wake-Up Call.



Available now in ebook at Amazon.com.

Coming soon in trade paperback.    

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Look Back and A Look Ahead



Is it just me or has 2015 gone by at warp speed? Seriously, wasn't it January, just yesterday? And, yet, here it is nearing midnight (in the Central Time Zone) and I'm reflecting on what the year held.

When I reflected on the past year, I found very little to write about. I go to work, come home, have dinner, and then write until bedtime (or until I fall asleep in the recliner. Whichever comes first.) At first it concerned me that the year had gone by so quickly and left behind so few memories. My "year in review" will only take a minute.

Let's see--I published three short stories, three novels, and re-published six previously-published novels. Maybe that's why the year went by so fast and I missed it? I was busy. On a sad note, one my publishers--Turquoise Morning Press--closed its doors. It was a good run and I'm forever grateful for the way they treated me and my work.

Here's a glimpse of my new 2015 publications.



The previously published books, some in shiny new covers, all with stories that have been updated and tweaked:



Two of my books, PROTECTION and RESCUED were produced in audio:



PROTECTION finaled for the 2015 EPIC eBook Award for Romantic Suspense.



So, what's coming up in 2016?

You can look for at least two new novels, a couple of short stories, and two or three republications of previous work that I've retained the rights to once again. In other words, it will be another busy year.

But I'm determined not to have 2016 slip by so fast I barely see it. I'm not one to make resolutions. Why set myself up for failure? I prefer to have hopes. I hope to write at least one book that takes my breath away. I'd love to have one of my books contracted for a TV movie on Hallmark or Lifetime and plan to pursue that. I hope to get to at least one good writers conference this coming year. I do plan to find time for a writing retreat with some of my writer friends. And I'd love to take a real vacation, go someplace I've never been before.

As the shades are drawn on 2015, I take this opportunity to thank my readers and all of you who support and encourage my writing. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that, in 2016, all of your hopes and dreams come true. 

And remember: Life's an adventure--wear comfortable shoes.     

                                                                                           Linda

                                                                                          




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Honoring Our Veterans

I could talk about upcoming books and all that, but November 11 is Veterans Day. This week, I'm dedicating this blog page to honoring those who serve and have served our country. In my lifetime and being a post-WWII baby, I've known us to be involved in some way with a war in Korea, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq....and probably, in some way, in other wars around the world. War has remained distant, taking place on other shores, but has always been a fact in my lifetime. Always at a distance, until 9/11 when the horror of war was brought to our shores. I've had relatives and friends who served in many ways in the armed forces during war, both in active combat and here at home. I have friends whose names are etched in the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. It was humbling to visit that wall and run my fingers over those names, realizing what those young, young men gave up for the freedom and security I enjoy.


I always knew my father, Dale R. Rettstatt, Jr., as a soldier. He served in WWII, bringing home with him two Purple Hearts and the remains of shrapnel in the back of his neck and head that gave him excruciating headaches at times. I looked at a picture of him as a young boy whose dream was to become a draftsman. (I still have a set of steel drawing instruments he used). And then I recall the man I knew, and I'm certain he brought back more than physical wounds. No one goes through a war unscathed. And, yet, he remained an active member of the Army Reserve until his death (which came early at fifty-nine.)

I often wondered what happened to that hopeful, smiling boy in the picture. Not that my dad didn't have a great smile and quick wit at times, but there was often something haunting in his eyes, too. Sobering. He never became a draftsman and I wonder if that dream died in the trenches of France.

I have such empathy for those returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and for their families because they will forever be haunted by the horrors of war, even if they don't bear physical wounds. We need to take care of our returning heroes--and that's what they are. One definition I found of a hero is:  a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. "a war hero". All wounds are not visible and we owe these men and women our support.

This Veterans Day, let's pause to remember all of those men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom and our dedication to freedom for all people. Regardless of what you personally believe about war. Thank those Veterans who are still with us. Demand our government to take responsibility for the care of those who have returned from war, wounded and shattered and in need. Let's also make a promise to never stop trying to find a better way to bring about peace and preserve human dignity. This is what I learned from my father, a man who (I believe) was forever changed by his experience of war.