Three-Week Sales Update: I officially released my YA short story, “Waiting for the Baby,” on Monday, April 27, so its first three published weeks ran from April 27-May 17. Since release day, I have sold a total of four copies. I have not paid for any marketing, but I have spent a bit of time on some free marketing techniques. These include:

*Posting about the story on both my personal Facebook page and my business Facebook page

*Posting about the story on my Twitter feed

*Sending out an e-newsletter announcing the story to my email subscribers

*Blogging about the story in this Kindle Short Reads series

*Changing the banner on my business Facebook page to announce the short story (Mike did that for me)

*Updating my author bio on a few different sites to include my short story as one of my listed works

Have the sales of my other works, The Anorexic Experiment and Illegally Innocent, increased since the release of my short story? I have seen a 37% increase in sales in The Anorexic Experiment during April 27-May 17 when compared with the three weeks prior to release day for “Waiting for the Baby” (April 6-26). My sales of Illegally Innocent have not been impacted.

I have started writing a second short story and am curious how sales of the first story might be affected when I release the second one…stay tuned for more updates on this experiment!

Sales Update: On release day yesterday, I sold three copies of “Waiting for the Baby.” I still have not spent any money on marketing and tentatively am not going to until I have sold at least 80 copies. Since we spent around $40 producing the book (see details in Part One here), I would like to make that money back before I start considering any paid marketing for “Waiting for the Baby.” Releasing a short story did not increase my sales average on The Anorexic Experiment yesterday. Since my reports for Illegally Innocent are through a different self-publishing company and do not get updated as frequently as my published works on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), I don’t know yet if it impacted Illegally Innocent sales.

In Part One of this series, I said I would share information about what “publishing” includes. Some of the details you will encounter if you choose to publish a short story (or any kind of book) through KDP are the following:

*Book description–You are writing the “back cover” of your book, even if your book is only an ebook and does not have a back cover. You are trying to write a teaser/summary to draw the reader in. With both of my self-published novels, my description was longer than what I wrote for my short story’s description. With a short story, the material is already so compact that I figured the description should be compact as well.

*Genres–KDP will give you a list of genres and sub-genres in which to place your book to help readers find the types of books they enjoy reading. You can pick up to two of these categories. Sometimes you may be thinking of a genre that exists (and you know it exists because you’ve seen other authors’ books in that category), but it is not offered as an option for you to choose. For example, even though my short story is considered to be a “Short Read,” I could not pick “Short Read.” You basically have to wait for Amazon to classify it after some copies have sold. And even when you pick a genre, sometimes it still will not show up on the actual sales page in the genre(s) that you chose. One of the sub-genres I chose was “Siblings” because a big theme in my story is interaction between two siblings. However, even though I chose “Siblings,” it is not currently showing up on my short story’s sales page as of the time of this writing. The three current genres my short story is showing up under are Teen & Young Adult Short Stories; 45-Minute Teen & Young Adult Short Reads; and Short Stories in Teen & Young Adult Literature. So it did get classified as a “Short Read” after all, like I wanted, even though I did not get to select that option. Interestingly enough, although I only sold three copies the first day, my story is ranked as #12 in one of its sub-genres at the moment. Amazon updates ranks each hour. That’s one of the nice things about Kindle Short Reads–since not as many people write Short Reads compared to longer books, it is easier to get to a “bestseller” status in your genre.

*Price–Amazon will suggest a price based on the length and type of book that it is. For “Waiting for the Baby,” a 30-page short story, Amazon suggested a price of $2.69. I opted to mark it as $1.49. Both of my published novels are currently listed at $2.99, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to me to mark this short story, which is roughly one-eighth the size of my novel The Anorexic Experiment, only 30 cents cheaper than my novels. I was originally going to price my short story as 99 cents, but this way I can run a sale from time to time if I so choose and mark it down to 99 cents for the sale. Also, Amazon gives you a choice of a 70% royalty rate or a 35% royalty rate. If you choose the 70% rate, you are not allowed to mark the regular price of the book lower than $2.99. As stated earlier, I wanted to keep my regular price low, so that was one of my contributing factors in choosing the 35% rate. By selling my story for $1.49, I am supposed to receive 52 cents per copy sold.

*DRM–DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It had been almost three years since I last published anything, so I had to check out a video to refresh me on what DRM entails and whether I wanted to say yes or no to it. Here is a video you may want to watch to help you decide if you want to enable DRM on your story or not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k8o1lNa-Ko.

I hope this information is at least a little bit helpful as you explore publishing on KDP!

I am so happy to announce that I have finally published a young adult short story on Amazon! The title is “Waiting for the Baby,” and you can find it here.

As stated in my blog post many months ago, I want to share the details of this short story journey to help you figure out if publishing short stories on Amazon might be a worthwhile endeavor for you. Since I just published it this weekend and am declaring today (Monday, April 27) my official release day, I don’t have any sales data for you yet. However, here is the breakdown of time and money spent thus far:

 

*I spent approximately 40 hours writing, revising, formatting, and publishing this story. “Publishing” includes all of the random details you have to fill out on Amazon (like book description, price, etc.); I will give more information about that topic in a later post. I’m not sure how many hours I put into writing each of my two self-published novels, but I can assure you it was A LOT more than 40 hours.

*My husband Mike spent approximately five hours designing the cover. It is far easier to design a cover for a title that is only an eBook than it is to design a paperback cover because you don’t have to create the spine or the back of the book when it’s an eBook.

*We spent approximately $40 on Shutterstock photos for the cover.

*I paid $1.49 to buy a copy of my own story to double-check that everything looked okay once it was published.

*I have not spent any money on marketing yet.

 

I fully intended to publish this short story sooner and announced to my newsletter subscribers in December that the release date would be January 28. As stated in a Facebook post in February, I apologize to all of you that I did not publish this story on time. I have been struggling to get in the habit of a good writing schedule (and to balance that with adequate sleep) since the birth of my baby last summer and have also felt somewhat lacking in creativity since then. I am going to be much more careful in the future when selecting release dates for books.

Big props go to my husband who read an early draft of “Waiting for the Baby” and helped me re-shape the plot because I was having a hard time with it. One of the benefits of releasing the story in January would have been to have a few weeks of sales data from the time period prior to the stay-at-home orders that so many of us are now under due to COVID-19. It will be interesting to see how sales go, considering that more people are at home now and may have time to read but also may be unemployed and not have money to spend on books. I will share my initial sales data in an upcoming post.

 

Trying Kindle Short Reads

Posted: November 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

As you’ve probably already assumed (or know from personal experience), writing a novel is really time-consuming. I have self-published two novels (Illegally Innocent and The Anorexic Experiment) since 2012 and have one currently in the works. Although I enjoy producing full-length pieces, I would like to publish new content more often.

My husband Mike kept telling me to write short stories for publication. I haven’t spent time writing short stories since college, and I didn’t think most people would buy a single short story that’s not in a collection. After checking into it further, apparently there is a decent-sized group of people who enjoy reading Kindle Short Reads. Kindle Short Reads are short stories only available for Kindle (or through the Kindle app); besides being broken down by genre, they are also broken down into time categories, like 15-minute reads or 1-hour reads. I read a fascinating blog post from this past January that suggested that “There’s a high demand for Kindle Short Reads with a relatively low offering. Kindle Short Reads is still in its Wild West phase—there’s plenty of room for you to get your spot of land and grow it into something really profitable and prolific.” So…I am starting an experiment of writing a shorter piece and seeing how its reception is. I am not giving up on publishing novels, but I want to try something that can be completed and edited a little more quickly. I will be sharing my Kindle Short Reads journey of this first story with you–letting you know how much time it takes, how profitable it is, if it appears to impact the sales of my two novels, and other random tips I figure out along the way. I have been working on a short story off and on the past few weeks for my first Kindle Short Reads publication, and it contains some characters you will be familiar with if you’ve read my other work. I will mostly be documenting this journey here on my blog but plan to post some videos about the topic to correspond with these posts on my YouTube channel as well.

Have you published a story on Kindle Short Reads? If so, how did it go?

This summer Mike and I welcomed a baby into our family! I was happy to have an easy pregnancy (especially after my miscarriage in 2017) and was hoping the labor and delivery would be easy as well. My mom was only in labor with me for three hours, and my grandma had been in labor for six hours or less with both my mom and my uncle, so I had high hopes that quick labors were in my genes. Unfortunately, I reached 41 weeks and had not gone into labor. I was okay with waiting longer, especially since tests conducted at 41 weeks indicated our son was perfectly fine; however, the midwife at my 41-week appointment did not want to wait much longer, since the risk of complications and stillbirth increases slightly the longer you are overdue. Many of the induction appointments for the next few days were already taken (the hospital only scheduled four per day and fewer on the weekends), so we ended up with an appointment for 5 p.m. at 41 weeks and 3 days.

At my 41-week appointment, the midwife explained that if I was not dilated at the time of my induction, then they often used Cytotec (misoprostol) to start the induction process, rather than Pitocin, which seems to be the drug you mostly hear about in childbirth classes and from others who have been induced. Prior to her talking about it, I knew Cytotec was sometimes used and had already decided that I probably did not want it. I had first heard of Cytotec in October 2017 when it was offered as an option to complete my missed miscarriage. I did some research on the drug at that point in time, and, after reading about some potential scary side effects–which were made even scarier by the fact that you took this drug at home for a missed miscarriage and not in the hospital under medical supervision–decided on a D&C.

Cytotec is not approved by the FDA for use in pregnancy (not that I rely on the FDA for everything, but still, it makes you think twice). Cytotec is supposed to be used to treat gastric ulcers. When it is used for the off-label purpose of pregnancy, it can be used to cause an abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy, complete a missed miscarriage, or induce labor of a live, healthy, full-term baby. The midwife assured me that they only use a small percentage of this drug for induction compared to its use in a missed miscarriage, and that the hospital has never really had any issues with it. I still find it concerning, though, that it is used for both aborting a baby and delivering a healthy one. Also, Cytotec dissolves instantly, so if there are problems from it, you can’t remove it. Some of Cytotec’s worst potential side effects include uterine rupture, death to mother and/or infant, and brain damage to the infant. It can either be taken orally or inserted vaginally. Obviously, if it’s inserted vaginally, it’s awfully close to your infant’s head, which is concerning if you consider the brain damage side effect.

If I had not heard of Cytotec previously, I probably would not have researched it for my induction. I would have just assumed that pill was what they used and tried not to worry about it. Since I wanted to avoid that drug if possible, though, I decided to pick a different option. Two other options my hospital offered were mechanical dilation with a Foley catheter and Cervidil. I wanted to use the catheter option because it has the fewest risks associated with it, but you have to be dilated a certain amount on your own in order to pick the catheter, and I was not. So my last option was Cervidil, and I am glad I picked that rather than Cytotec. Cervidil is inserted vaginally but can be removed easily (similar to a tampon) if it is causing any side effects or problems. It does, of course, have its own list of side effects (which at this point in my induction decisions I mostly tried to avoid viewing, since Cervidil was my last option), but it is actually approved for pregnancy. The midwife acted surprised that it worked so well on me (I went from basically not being dilated at all to 3 cm in the span of about 12 hours). Normally, they would administer Pitocin at that point to continue the induction, but I requested to see if my body would continue the labor process without the use of Pitocin, and they agreed that was fine. One of the downsides of being induced is that the contractions can come closer together right from the beginning, and mine did–they were roughly three minutes apart for almost all of my 27-hour labor.

I wrote this post because I want women to be aware that they have options when it comes to labor induction. Ask questions of your OBGYN or midwife and do your own research as well. Also, if you reach 40 weeks in your pregnancy and have not started labor on your own yet, schedule your induction date. You can always cancel it if you don’t need it. I waited until 41 weeks to schedule mine because I kept hoping I wouldn’t need to be induced. I would have been given the green light to wait until 41 weeks and 5 days to start induction, but they were booked full. Perhaps I would have gone into labor on my own if I had had those extra couple of days.

If you would like to read more about Cytotec, please check out these resources:

The Freedom to Birth–The Use of Cytotec to Induce Labor: A Non-Evidence Based Intervention

Inductions and the Use of Drugs in Labor and Delivery

The Risks of Cytotec for Inducing Labor

Misoprostol Information from the FDA

Cytotec Unsafe for Labor Induction (This page is from an attorney’s website–continue down to the bottom of this webpage to read comments from women who have had complications during a Cytotec induction.)

**I am not a doctor. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any health advice I offer on my blog.**

When I wrote Illegally Innocent (my first self-published novel), I did not have a set process for how I completed it or a certain number of drafts I planned to do before publishing. Honestly, I have no idea how many different drafts I wrote for that novel. When I wrote The Anorexic Experiment, I decided I wanted to try something different–basically a formula. Below you’ll see my novel-writing process for The Anorexic Experiment, and it worked so well that I am using the same formula for my current project, the sequel to Illegally Innocent. You can watch the companion video for this post on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/HLEgLyc3wmU. If you have a certain plan you follow for your writing projects, let me know in the comments below!

First Draft—I am not an outliner. I have a general idea of where the book is starting and where it is going to end up, and I have some plot points in mind that I want to touch on along the way. I try not to edit myself much at all in this first draft and mostly write whatever comes to mind. This is sort of a “junk draft.” I do not let anyone read it. Much of it may not even make sense to someone else or be in the order it is going to be in when all is said and done. I will have a word count target in mind and will try to write until I have both reached my target word count and have managed to form some semblance of an ending to the novel.

Second Draft—I start revising. I don’t spend a lot of time on descriptions or fine-tune the plot yet, but I rearrange the plot points into something that makes more sense, fix obvious errors, and in general turn it into something that I am okay with someone close to me reading. My husband, Mike, reads it to give me big-picture feedback.

Third Draft—I use Mike’s feedback to make more edits and now I will spend time on descriptions, fixing dialogue, and doing what needs to be done to make me comfortable with other people reading it. I fix everything I can identify as needing to be fixed. I ask for beta readers and send the manuscript to several people for feedback on things like what parts are confusing, what parts are boring, and any other general edits that they notice.

Fourth Draft—I take the feedback from my beta readers and incorporate much of it into my editing process. The book is basically finished by the time the fourth draft is done.

Fifth Draft—This is where I go over the book with a fine-tooth comb, checking for any grammar errors I may have missed; checking that I have called all of my characters by the correct names (and spelled their names correctly); and if I have used any brand names, I look them up to make sure that I spelled those brand names accurately. I also check for words that I may have repeated too often. One of those words that I tend to use too much is the word “actually.”

Done! Ready to start the formatting and publishing process!

I have not been posting much this year, so I figured it was time for an update!

In writing news…

I have one more event planned for 2018–the Christmas at Wings Arts & Crafts Show in Kalamazoo, MI, on December 1 and 2. Another author, the lovely Sally Mahieu, and I will be sharing Booth 722, and we would love it if you stopped by!

I started a new YouTube channel in July. It currently has a few videos posted on it. If you’d like to see videos about writing-related topics as well as other things I do in my life, check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8FscDzxIxC7Ab8P5AOicKQ/videos. If you enjoy watching it, I would love it if you would subscribe!

In the next few weeks I will be sending out an October/November 2018 e-newsletter. If you haven’t signed up already and would like to, please visit my website here: http://angelabaconbooks.com/newsletter-sign-up/. I only send out e-newsletters a few times per year, so don’t worry–I won’t fill your inbox with tons of emails each week! My e-newsletter is a good way for you to keep up with my author events; find out about special deals like Kindle sales, copyediting coupons, and contests; and become a beta reader for my upcoming projects.

My current writing project is the sequel to Illegally Innocent, and it still needs A TON OF WORK. I do not have a release date for it yet. This month marks SIX YEARS already since Illegally Innocent was released, and I know you have been waiting a long time for the sequel! I hope to bring it to you in 2019.

In personal news…

The store where I worked for over a decade shut down in March, and I am currently working in a job where I dabble in Accounts Payable, HR, and random administrative assistant types of tasks. Since this job spans quite the range of duties, I am still training even though I’ve worked there for over six months. I am enjoying having nights, weekends, and holidays off, since I regularly worked many of those shifts at my previous job.