Windy Wednesday, Gift Card Giveaways, and Other Wonderful Things – 11/01/17

Jasmine the Writing Cat staring intently at me

Whenever Jasmine the Writing Cat does this stare thing straight at me, I always imagine her saying, "You will love meeeeee..." in a hypnotic voice, while swishing her tail slowly.

I'm pretty sure I was hypnotized a long time ago.

ANYway, I don't know about you guys, but damn, it's become windy here! It's always this way in the fall – Idaho decides in the spring and fall that tear-the-shingles-off-your-house winds are just the way to celebrate a new season arriving. I'm not sure if I agree with this viewpoint, but I've tried holding up my hand to stave off the wind, and thus far, have had no luck. I'll keep you guys posted on that front.

In the meanwhile, I've been hard at work on several different projects, and I can even tell you guys about a couple of them today! How is that for thrilling?

First, let's discuss the featured bundle for the week – Laughing P Collection by Kari Holloway. It's three novels plus some short stories, all on sale for only $4.99, which is a hell of a good deal. Check out the deets:

Southern Charm & Small-Town Secrets

Laughing P by Kari HollowayCracked But Never Broken
Coming home should have been easy for Marine Damien Payne, but between rustlers, a stalker, and his personal demons, love is hard pressed to find a footing on the Laughing P ranch.

Behind the Lens
Lexi’s found freedom from a loveless relationship. Trapped in a hunting cabin with her first love, can she find the courage to follow her heart or will she sacrifice her happiness?

Never too Late
Darien Payne has regretted the moment he screwed up for over a decade. Forged under sweat and sawdust, he sets a plan in motion for his happily-ever-after. Burdened with the brevity of life, he must step up on the Laughing P to keep his family together in their darkest moments for the glimmer of light that always shines.

Join the Laughing P crew from the bottoms of despair to their happily-ever-afters and beyond in this collection featuring all three novels and a handful of short stories.

{Only available on Amazon – sorry to everyone else!}

Next up? Gift cards! Everyone likes being a winner. 😀  

I've been linking to a survey on SurveyMonkey for the past month, encouraging people to give me their thoughts on a variety of topics. I have been drawing people from that survey as winners, and announcing them in my newsletter.

Here's the bad news: The last three people that I chose and announced as winners in my newsletter haven't bothered to open my emails to find out that they'd won. So! Don't be that person. 😛  If I say I'm only going to announce winners in my emails so you have to read 'em to find out if you're the lucky duck for that week, I really mean it! 😀

So here's my gift card winners for this week – you've each won a $10 gift card to the storefront of your choice, if you respond back to my newsletter to claim your prize. Here goes:

[Name redacted]

[Name redacted]

[Name redacted]

Hit reply to the email in your inbox, and tell me which storefront you want your gift card for, and which country you live in (because that will sometimes play a part in the gift card process).

So you know how I said I've been hard at work on some projects? Here's one of them. You guys are gonna go crazy over this.

My friend Joanna Bell and I have gotten together to do a wild-ass giveaway, only available to our subscribers. You won't find this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else, and you can't get extra chances to win by sharing it, because it's exclusive only to our readers.

The prizes? Chanel perfume with gold flecks in it or a Coach wallet. 

Insane, right? When Joanna suggested that we give these items away, I may or may not have swooned a little.

Again, the deets for this giveaway are only available in my newsletter, so if you haven't subscribed yet, do it today! It's where all the fun is. 😉

Oh, so very close… 10/11/17

Jasmine the Writing Cat wanting to be petted

Ready for some Declan time?

So, at long last, Returning for Love is...

Well, almost here.

Jasmine the Writing Cat is quite thrilled, as you can see. Or maybe she's just excited about the cat treats I'm holding just behind the camera. You can never tell.

Returning for Love is hitting all storefronts on October 17th (next Tuesday), which means that you, dear reader, finally get to find out Declan Miller's story.

I know I keep telling you that you'll never guess what is REALLY going on with Declan and you'll be totally surprised when you read his story, but the truth is...

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I really mean it.

I bet you never saw that coming! 😛

Returning for Love - A Western Romance Novel (Book 4)Okay, seriously though, when I started the Long Valley series, I tried to figure out the personalities of each of the three Miller brothers.

Stetson is the baby of the family, and sometimes, he really acts like it. In Accounting for Love (which is free on all storefronts, so if you haven't read it yet, what the heck are you waiting for??) he's willing to make some pretty dumb choices and risk losing the Miller Family Farm, all because of a misplaced sense of duty and longing to have his father back.

In Arrested by Love, Wyatt Miller (the oldest of the three brothers) makes some pretty dumb choices too, including punching out the judge's son and landing in jail over Christmas. #whoops He too has a lot of changing and growing up to do, and Abby helps him do it (along with a nice dose of therapy with a counselor).

But all the way through, Declan is the typical middle child. He's a peacemaker between his older and younger brother (who are constantly feuding), and just all-around well loved by...well, everyone. He's trustworthy, he's hard-working, he's a peacemaker, he's beloved by all.

And then in Returning for Love, you find out the "Rest of the Story" (thanks, Paul Harvey!) He's got his own demons that he's been battling, and they aren't easy ones.

Now throw Iris McLain into the mix, who was his girlfriend for four years during high school and college. She's just moved back into town, but also like Declan, things aren't what they appeared to be on the surface. She too has been battling her own demons...and not necessarily winning.

I love this story. Not gonna lie, it's one of my absolute favorites. Second-chance loves stories are always so fun to write, because you've got present-day thoughts and emotions all tangled up in past experiences and difficulties. Declan and Iris have to learn to trust again. Learn to fall in love again. Learn how to talk to each other about the worst parts of their lives, and what's truly going on behind the mask.

It's not easy, but man, is it worth it.

If you'd like to read the first chapter absolutely free, check it out: FREE first chapter of Returning for Love

If you'd like to preorder Returning for Love so you receive it the day it comes out, here is where you can find all of the handy-dandy buy buttons.

Quick warning just so you know:

Returning for Love is a full-length novel, which means that I'm releasing it at $2.99 and that price is good for one week, and one week only. After that, it goes up to $3.99. I'm warning y'all about this 'cause you're awesome-sauce and I like you ❤️  but don't be fooled into thinking you can just buy this later for that same low price.

Okay, now let's have some fun. 😀  As you guys already know, I'm doing a survey through SurveyMonkey, to get your thoughts on storefront platforms, which books you've read, and how adorable you think Jasmine the Writing Cat is.

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Sorry, a certain cat is trying to help me write my newsletter today.

*ahem*

win a gift card to an eBookstore of your choice!

ANYway, the great news is, I've decided to up the pot from a $5 gift card to a $10 gift card, just because I really want to tell y'all thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey. The results have been so super helpful for me, truly.

The really great news is, if your name is XX (I DON'T REVEAL THE WINNER ON MY BLOG! PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER) you've just won a $10 gift card!  Please hit reply to this email and tell me which storefront you want your gift card for, and what email address to have that gift card delivered to. You’ve got until next Wednesday to claim your gift card, or I’ll go ahead and pick someone else. 🙂

If you haven't filled out the survey yet, please do. I'll continue to draw winners each week for the rest of October, but even more importantly, your answers really help me out. I appreciate you doing that favor for me.

Speaking of giveaways…

There's a promo running from now until Friday – all romance novels, all free. Find some new authors to enjoy. ❤️

Well, that's it for me for the week. I'm busy wrapping up my edits on Returning for Love, sending out ARC copies, and petting Jasmine the Writing Cat (and not necessarily in that order).

Until next time,

Erin

PS Did you click to read the first chapter of Returning for Love? No? Seriously, go check it out. If you don't enjoy it, I'll eat my hat.

👒

Okay, not really. That seems like a sure way to ensure indigestion. But I promise you, you're gonna love this sneak peek. Enjoy! ❤️

Want to know the dirty little secrets behind Kindle Unlimited? – 10/04/17

Jasmine the Writing Cat looking slightly drugged

aka: What you wish authors would tell you about Kindle Unlimited (but usually won’t!)

(WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! This post is really long, but I hope it is also both entertaining and informative. If you just want to skip down to find out if you won the gift card, scroll down to the next section. I promise that it's easily marked out. I'm giving the "inside scoop" on Kindle Unlimited in this post, but if you're not interested in that, I promise I'm not offended).

Last week, I sent out a survey (which, if you missed it, check it out here. I’ll be drawing winners for gift cards for the rest of the month, so if you haven’t filled out the survey yet, go take it now and enter for your chance to win!) 😊

One of the questions that I asked in the survey was whether or not you, dear reader, belong to the Amazon program Kindle Unlimited, and in return, I got several readers wanting to know more about what that program is and how it works. One question (hi Pamela!) summed up the questions on the topic pretty well:

“I was wondering how authors are compensated for KU books. I'm not sure why I am curious about this, just that I thought you were compensated on purchased books."

Just to be clear, as an author, I do not belong to that program – I am a “wide” author, which means that I publish on all major storefronts (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, GooglePlay, and iBooks). You may be wondering why I don’t belong to Kindle Unlimited, especially if you (as a reader) use it a lot.

Short answer? Because unlike how the name makes it sound, it is very limited…for an author.

In order to be available in Kindle Unlimited (or KU, as it's widely known), your books can only be available for sale on Amazon. If your book is found to be published on other storefronts while also enrolled in KU, Amazon can punish you pretty hardcore, up to and including shutting down your Amazon account. This is obviously not something to be trifled with.

Let’s be honest about something: Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. I get about 55% of my sales through them, and 45% of my sales through all of the other storefronts combined together. My split is actually pretty even; some wide authors get 80% to 90% or more of their income from Amazon alone.

From a reader’s POV, KU works pretty well: The reader pays $10 a month and can read as many books as they want for that $10. The reader can have 10 titles in their “library” at any given time, but they have to return a title in order to check out another one, above the ten-book limit.

So it’s basically an unlimited buffet of choices…as long as the reader is only interested in reading KU authors.

From an author’s POV, KU can also work pretty well. Amazon makes books that are enrolled in KU more “visible” to readers, so they find them easier. Amazon puts those books higher on the results page, and they give more “juice” for each buy than they would for a book not enrolled in KU.

I actually did an experiment on this topic. I took a book that was out of KU and enrolled it in KU, just to see what would happen to the book ranking. Without any sales or borrows, the book jumped about 100,000 in ranking overnight.

Amazon does not try to hide the fact that they reward KU authors with higher visibility and more algorithmic love – this is a big part of the draw of being enrolled in KU, and they make no bones about it. (Total side note: Now I want to write a book called Algorithms of Love and have it star a computer programmer. Haha! Okay, focusing…)

Along with higher visibility, Amazon also pays authors for books that are read through the KU program. Let’s pretend for a moment that I was enrolled in KU and had a book that was 100 pages long. I would receive roughly $0.41 if a reader read it all the way through to the end. When a book is borrowed through KU, I do not receive any money for a “sale” – I receive money when the book is read.

However, (and this is weird and a little hard to wrap your mind around): Authors receive a bump in ranking in the Kindle store when a book is borrowed, even before it’s read.

So, let’s say that you borrow, but then never read a book, and finally just return it. The book will go a little higher in the rankings because of that borrow, but the author will not be paid. These are called “ghost borrows” in the author world, because authors will see their rankings increase, but their income stays the same.

Side note: As an author, I am never told when my book is borrowed, nor how many pages are read by a particular reader. I am simply told how many page reads I’ve received in a day. So let’s say that I have a book that is 100 pages long, and I have 100 page reads show up on my dashboard. Possibilities:

  • 100 readers read 1 page of my book
  • 10 readers read 10 pages of my book
  • 1 reader read 100 pages (all of) my book

There’s literally no way to know as an author. It’s a big ol’ black box of nothing but, “100 page reads.” This drives KU authors insane, lol. There’s a big difference between 100 people reading one page of my book (why only one page? Is the first page that bad?? Why are they all quitting so early in the book? WHAT DID I SCREW UP??! AAAAHHHHH!!!) vs 1 person reading all of my book (yay! My book was good enough that the reader finished it! Coolio).

All right, so now let’s discuss why I’m not in KU. 😊

  1. I’m allergic to monopolies. 😛 Although I am a Prime member of Amazon and buy a fair amount from them, I also try to buy from other stores. When you get a monopoly, then they can do whatever they want, because they have no one to compete with; no reason to behave themselves. That worries me. So, I don’t wish to contribute to that problem by only being available to purchase on Amazon.
  2. As a former librarian, I like the idea of being available to all. Many authors out there are only available on Amazon so they can belong to KU; I personally don’t like leaving the rest of my readers out in the cold. 45% of my readers wouldn’t be able to read my books if I were only on Amazon, which is not fair to them.
  3. Most of my family uses Apple exclusively (we're pretty much addicted to Apple, lol) and I would be disowned if my books were only available on Amazon. Okay, not really, but I have a few family members who would be shooting me nasty looks at the Thanksgiving table. 😀
  4. Much more seriously: Amazon treats authors like garbage. 🙁 That’s a cold, harsh truth, but ask any KU author if they like the program, and I can almost guarantee that about 90% of them will tell you they abhor it.

Here’s the reason why: Amazon chooses how much to pay for a “page read” each month, and they don’t tell the authors how much it’s going to be until after the month is over.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, that your employer tells you on February 15th how much you made in the month of January, and then doesn’t pay you that amount until March 31st.

That’s exactly how Amazon runs. That’s not a what-if scenario for authors; that’s reality.

On the 15th of each month, Amazon tells authors how much they’re going to pay those authors for the pages read through the Kindle Unlimited program, for the month before. This means that as an author, you can’t plan anything because you never have a clue of how much you’re making.

And they calculate it down to the nth degree. Their pay per page will look something like $0.004319842. When you have millions of pages read per month, just a slight change in that number can mean a huge change in your paycheck.

Also, just FYI, KU authors would kill for that rate I just typed out. The September 15th rate was in the $0.0041 range (I’m too lazy to look it up) which was tied for the lowest rate ever (the August 15th rate was also in the $0.0041 range).

For a historical perspective, Amazon started out this program paying out pretty close to $0.0049 per page. This doesn’t seem like a big difference, but for an author who is getting 1,000,000 in page reads per month (which is about average for a KU author), this is a pay cut of $800 per month.

What if your employer were handing out paychecks and said, “Oh yeah, I cut your pay by $800 for the work you did last month – hope you don’t mind!” and then if you protested, said, “Well, go get a job elsewhere!”

Because that’s what Amazon does all. the. time. to KU authors.

It’s gotten to the point where authors are getting a bit of PTSD around the 15th of the month. They’re waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares about it. They’re having panic attacks over it. I’m not exaggerating at all.

It’s awful.

So why am I not in KU? Because I like my stomach lining, thankyouverymuch. 😛

Now, I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel guilty about reading your books through KU. If you use that program and enjoy the wide variety of books available through it, that’s awesome-sauce. The authors are getting paid for you reading through KU, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re putting authors into the poor house with that decision. It’s completely up to an author as to whether or not they’re going to be enrolled in KU. No one is forcing them into it by gun point.

But for me, it simply doesn’t make sense to do it, and so I won’t. 😊  God bless capitalism.

So for the 45% of you who are reading me on other platforms (B&N, GooglePlay, etc), just know that I’m not going anywhere. I had some people panic when they took my survey, thinking that I was contemplating a switch, and I just want to allay those fears. 😊  I’m wide, and I’m gonna stay that way.

And I don’t just mean because I can’t leave chocolate cheesecake alone (although that’s true too!)

Well, I hope that little insight into the KU world was helpful, and that you at least have a better idea of why some authors will choose to be in KU vs choose to be on all storefronts. It’s a very personal choice for authors, and can be a hard one to make, because there is no straightforward answer that is right for everyone.

Okay, with all of that out of the way…onto gift card winning time! Remember, I will be drawing one winner per week for the next month, and the winner will only be announced in my newsletter, so be sure to pay attention each week. 😊

win a gift card to an eBookstore of your choice!

This week's winner is XX. (I DON'T REVEAL THE WINNER ON MY BLOG! PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER). Please hit reply to this email and tell me which storefront you want your gift card for, and what email address to have that gift card delivered to. You've got until next Wednesday to claim your gift card, or I'll go ahead and pick someone else. 😊

Speaking of giveaways...

Melissa Storm is running a giveaway for five free romance novels and $100 – check it out:

Well, that's it for me, while I finish working on the edits for Returning for Love and my Super Secret Plans that will be revealed SOON!

Until next week!

Erin

PS I'm loving, loving, loving all of the feedback from the survey – I'm reading each and every comment, and the answers as a whole are incredibly useful for me. So if you haven't taken it yet, DOOO IIITTTTTT!! It's fast, it's easy, and it might be your ticket to a gift certificate for more books! 📚