How To Support An Author

Let me be very blunt; I’m going to talk about sales and money.  Some authors do, some don’t.

May was my best month so far.  I sold 223 copies of my short stories, as of this morning.  I have the rest of the day today and tomorrow still, but it probably won’t be more than another 10-15 sales.  Depending on which site the sales are from, I make anywhere from about $2.21 on Smashwords to $1.50 per book on iTunes for a short story listed at $2.99.  Averaging it out between the sites, it’s roughly $2/sale.   $446 a month.  And that doesn’t include what I have to withhold for taxes or pay for stock photos to make cover art.  I make my own book covers and  I’m lucky enough to have incredible betas and a stellar editor who work for free.  Or for a copy of the story/my eternal gratitude.

So, when I say that every sale counts, I mean that.  Every sale matters to an author.  Every review, every tweet, share, like, and recommendation.  And every one of those things has a cumulative effect.  Take a look at May.

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Whenever I release a new short story there’s a spike in sales.  For example, I sold 34 copies of my stories on May 19, after “Sunburns and Sunsets” was released.  The chart above is my sales from Amazon and doesn’t include the other sites.   Sales tapered off slowly over the next few weeks while I continued to pin inspiration pics, blog about it, Tweet, post on Facebook, etc.  And then it settled down to maybe 2-3/day.  For May, I’ll probably average just over 7 sales/day.  That’s nearly double what I sold in April, but equal to what I sold in March.  According to other authors I spoke to, April tends to be a slow month.

I’ve been tracking sales since February, trying to put together the pieces of what makes the biggest difference in sales.  This is what I’ve found applies to me.  It may not be the same for other authors, but I guarantee, it won’t hurt.

So what can you do to help your favorite authors?

Review

Hands down, reviews make some of the biggest differences in sales.  Review on the site where you bought the story, review on Goodreads.  Review on both if you can.  Review on your blog or your FB page or in FB groups.  Every single review counts.

Even if you feel like you’re saying the exact thing someone else did, that’s fine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s two lines or twenty, it helps.  It doesn’t matter if it’s stilted and awkward sounding or clumsy.  It’s another person chiming in to say how they felt about it.

If I had to choose between all of the places a reader could leave feedback, I’d probably pick Amazon.   More than half my sales come from there and while they aren’t the highest royalty (about $2.09) they are number two and every review translates into more sales.  The more sales, the higher the story is ranked, the more exposure it gets, and the more people are likely to buy it.

If you can do more than one site, you’re a rock star and I’ll probably love you forever.

Word of Mouth

Spread the word!  Every new release from me is posted on FB, tweeted about, blogged about, etc.   Share those.  Whether it’s a re-tweet or a share on FB, it counts.  It’s one more chance for someone to see the story and think, “Hmm, that sounds interesting, I should buy it!”  If you love a story, tell people about it.  If you’re excited about it, they will be too.

Comment on the author’s blog, share their posts, engage with the author.  Sometimes it feels like we’re writing in a vacuum and a quick message from someone can make a huge difference.  Knowing readers are out there and enjoying what I do is an incredible boost and makes the words flow faster.

Understand Royalties

I’ll be honest, I had no idea whatsoever that there was such a huge difference in what an author is paid depending on where you buy your books.  If they’re going through a publishing company, they’ll earn more if you buy directly through the site than on Amazon (although, there’s a flip side and the more sales on Amazon, the better the exposure and the more books are sold).  It’s complicated.

For self-published authors, there’s a huge range in royalty rates.  For my $2.99 short stories, this is how it breaks down.

Smashwords – $2.21

Amazon – $2.09

Kobo – $2.09

Barnes & Noble – $1.94

All Romance – $1.79

iTunes – $1.50

Obviously, I’m just thrilled if you buy one of my books, wherever you buy from.  I appreciate the support and interest in my work.  I would imagine most authors feel the same way.  That being said, I know a lot of people had no idea that there was such a huge difference.  If you’re so inclined, buy from places like the publisher’s site and Smashwords.  But if it’s easier to One-Click on Amazon and it means you’ll buy more, by all means, go there.  Just keep buying books!

Pay for What You Read

This may seem silly, but pay for the books you read.  I just recently discovered that my books are available on a pirating site.  If I found out about one, that probably means they’re on a dozen more.  I have to wonder how many sales I’ve lost because of this.

Loan judiciously.  I’m not against the idea of you loaning a book of mine to a friend.  Occasionally.  I can only speak for myself– many authors feel differently–loaning a copy of an eBook to a friend every now and again is no different than loaning a hard copy.  I’ll be honest, I’ve loaned eBooks before and had them loaned to me.  But often, after reading that story I’ve  gone on to buy every single other book in that author’s catalog.  Plus the one that was originally loaned.   A single, judicious loan led to many, many sales.  It can be done fairly.  But it can also get out of control, so be mindful.  Realize that it directly impacts an author’s life.

Don’t return books on Amazon.  I know many authors who are livid about Amazon’s return policy.  I’m learning to suck it up and deal with it, but it rankles.  On average, I lose 10% of my sales from people returning books.  I suspect most of them don’t have cats who accidentally One-Click on my book or anything else of the sort.   Probably, the vast majority are people who read the book and then “return” it because they don’t want to pay.  For an author like me, that can add up to hundreds of dollars a year in lost sales.  For bigger authors, even more, although most I’ve talked to say it hovers in the 10% range for them as well.

Don’t Feel Guilty

If you’re as busy as I am (or busier) doing all of these things can be time-consuming.  Believe me, I understand.  Compared to the number of books I read, I am only able to review a limited number.  I share the ones that excite me.  We all have busy lives and just finding time to read those books is a challenge.  So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t write an in-depth eloquent review for every story you read.  I am a writer and I feel like I write the lamest reviews ever.  So, do what you can.  If you have the time to review, do it, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.  Like and tweet and reblog when you’re able and know that every single thing you do is appreciated.

Like

This is the easiest one of all.  Go to my Amazon Author Page and click the Like button (on the upper right side of the page).  It will only take a few moments and will help boost my author ranking.  Can’t hurt, right?

Oh, and on that same page you can sign up for an email alert notifying you when an author has a new book available.  How handy is that?

 

Finally, please, please know how much I deeply appreciate those of you who have gone out of your way to do all of these things.  There is no way I’d be able to do this without you.  ❤

 

 

 

 

Review – “Wolf Bound”

Wolf Bound

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Summary:

A year after suffering a disastrous end to his relationship with his partner, teacher Jon Anderson trades his apartment in the city for a lake house in the country. Told there is an author living nearby, Jon, who dreams of being a writer, goes in search of him and finds the attractive older man in a small, rustic cabin on a tiny island on a neighboring lake. Harrison Kalmes shows Jon around, but makes it clear he’d rather be left alone. Jon respects that wish until the night he and his friend, Suzie, drink a little too much scotch and impulsively decide to visit the island. 

What happens then is the start of an incredible journey that will eventually take Jon all the way to mysterious and seductive Transylvania in Romania, where he searches for answers that will save someone’s life while setting him on the road to rediscovering his own. 

Beware the woods. Transylvania isn’t only about vampires. 

Review:

I devoured Wolf Bound last night.  And no, that wasn’t meant as a clever nod toward the subject of the story.  It had more to do with how quickly I tore through it.  That’s a fairly remarkable feat, because shifter stories aren’t usually my thing.  I’ve read a handful and they all pretty much seem the same.  Another werewolf story? *snore*  I know they’re hugely popular but for whatever reason, they rarely pique my interest.  If I hadn’t read other work of Theo’s before, I probably never would have read this story.  As always, Theo put a unique twist on what I feel can be a tired genre.  Wolf Bound was fresh and interesting and kept me guessing until the end.  Theo never quite goes in the direction I expect and I enjoy that immensely.

Ultimately, this is more of a review of his work in general than Wolf Bound in particular.  I loved Transgression and the entire Precog in Peril series.  Theo’s writing is clear and spare without ever feeling stale or boring, and every story is unique.  If you haven’t read his books yet, what are you waiting for?

Acceptance and Support

When “Pain Management” was accepted by Dreamspinner last fall, I came out to my parents about writing gay romance. And (somewhat spontaneously) came out as bi.

When it was published in February, they told me how proud of me they were and gave me a beautiful card and wooden jewelry box to celebrate.

When they asked to read it I had a mild panic attack and a few weeks ago, I finally gave them a copy.

Tonight they told me what they thought. Apparently my mother had thought it was about two women, not two men, so she was rather surprised. She also (teasingly) told me it scarred her for life. Which is what I tell her every time she gets excessively flirty with my dad (usually after half a glass of wine). She also told me she thought I was a very good writer.

My parents may not completely understand why I love writing m/m romance.  They may not have any desire to read anything else I write.  But that’s okay.  They support me and I feel damn lucky to have their acceptance and support.

And sometimes I wish I could share them with all of the people who don’t have that kind of family.  Because everyone deserves it.

Relief

Lately, I’ve been struggling.  Working forty hours a week and spending at least that much time on my writing career is exhausting.  Worthwhile, but exhausting.  I could eat, breathe, and sleep writing but with the rest of my life on top of it, I’m overwhelmed.  On weekends when I don’t have anything else planned, I hole up in the office and spend ten to twelve hours writing.  I come home from work and write.  I write in the car if we’re going anywhere further than half an hour and I write at work.   I average five, maybe six, hours of sleep a night.  This pace doesn’t leave much time or energy for anything else.

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I’m hardly unusual, few writers are able to support themselves solely on their writing income.  Many have children, are single parents, have no spouse, or have a partner far less helpful and supportive than mine.  Some days I have to remind myself of that because it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and anxiety.  Still, no matter how good I have it, there are days it’s overwhelming.  There are days I feel like I’m drowning in life and every day I’m just paddling to keep my head afloat.  There’s always more I could write, more promotion I could do, fewer breaks I could take.  I applied for a part-time job that would have just barely paid enough for me to take make up the difference with my writing income.  I didn’t get it.

Last summer, there was some restructuring done in my department and I was bumped from working 72 hours a pay period to 80.  I won’t go into details but suffice it to say, I didn’t have a good relationship with my manager at the time and I didn’t want the hours.  I was told I didn’t have any choice.  This spring there was more restructuring and now my department reports to a whole different set of managers.  The current ones are both reasonable and likeable and I’m slowly beginning to trust that I can go to them for help if I need it.

So a few weeks ago I spoke to one of my managers and asked if it was possible for me to cut back my hours.  She thought about it for a brief moment and said, “Of course, I am sure we can make that work.”  I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and it wasn’t until yesterday when I signed the HR paperwork that I finally believed it would truly happen.  I felt limp with relief, like all of the stress had gone right out of me.

Starting in July, I’ll have every other Friday off.  Objectively, is it a lot?  No.  But an extra 16 hours a month to devote to my writing feels huge.   Will I still be overworked and overwhelmed and juggling too much?  Yes.  But I’m going to enjoy it.  I am going to make the most of that opportunity and push even harder.  So maybe someday I can put in my two weeks notice and support myself with my writing.

Is it a pipe dream?  Maybe.  But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

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Marc: “Words Matter!!!” (Blog Hop Against Homophobia And Transphobia with 5 book Giveaway)

Fantastic post and such a great reminder of what we can all do on a daily basis to change the world.

Rainbow Gold Reviews

Hi everyone 😉

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A worthy cause in our opinion 🙂 Check out the official site! –> http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/

Since this issue is close to our hearts, we would love to discuss it with you. Any comment on this post will be entered to win one of 5 e-copies of D.t. Peterson’s “The Cove”.

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So we all know about the big fights for recognition. We know how people are discriminated against, suppressed, beaten, imprisoned or killed for their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is rather scary to think about, yet so important never to forget what is happening in the world and why we have to act.  As a gay man myself, it has been amazing to meet so many allies who try to actively change the world into a better and more open-minded place. This is a fight on many fronts, but…

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Inspiration for “Sunburns and Sunsets”

As you know, this gif is what inspired the story.

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But I always love to find others to represent the characters and scenes in it.  This time, I went right to Red and asked for his help.  After asking some really great questions to get to know the characters physical description and personalities he found a treasure trove.  While the guys in photos may not look exactly like Kris and Eric, he did a great job getting as close as possible.  And there’s no denying he got the essence of their personalities and their interactions.  And I love all of the great camping photos.  Thanks, Red!

And I hope you all enjoyed getting a glimpse of Kris and Eric’s trip.

 

New Story – “Sunburns and Sunsets”

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Summary:

Best friends Eric Carver and Kris Strider have always shared everything.  Except for Eric’s growing attraction to Kris.  On a camping trip to celebrate the end of the school year a sunburn leads to fooling around  and neither are sure what it means.  Kris is certain he likes girls but his sudden attraction to Eric can’t be denied.  He’s completely fine with his best friend being gay, but now that he knows Eric wants him, he isn’t sure what to do about it.   Eric thought all he wanted was to fool around with his friend, but when it starts to feel like something more, he isn’t sure what to do.   Are his feelings for Kris worth risking twelve years of friendship?

Excerpt:

“Oh my God, it hurts,” Kris whined, poking the red skin on his forearm.

“It’s your own damn fault,” Eric said with a laugh, taking a sip of his beer. “I warned you.”

“I know, I know,” Kris said with a sigh. “But it hurts.”

“Did you at least pack the aloe I suggested?”

Kris scratched his head. “Uh, yeah. I think so.”

“C’mon then, grab it, strip down, and I’ll put some on your shoulders.”

Kris raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Any excuse to get me naked, huh, Carver?”

Eric flipped him off, and Kris laughed. He loved giving Eric shit about being gay. Well, he gave Eric shit about everything, being gay was no different than the fact he was obsessed with peanut butter and banana sandwiches and was afraid of clowns. It was simply a part of who he was, and thus, up for ridicule.

Kris downed the rest of his beer and stood up, wobbling a little. Shit, too much beer, too much sun, and too little food hit him hard. He stripped out of his T-shirt and unzipped the tent flap, tossing the shirt inside before following. He nearly fell wiggling out of his cargo shorts, and threw himself on the pile of sleeping bags with a laugh.

“You sound like you’re having too much fun in there, Kris,” Eric said, crawling into the tent and zipping it shut.

“Fuck you, man,” Kris huffed, face buried in the pillow.

“Only if you ask nicely,” Eric teased.

Last fall, I wrote Sunburns and Sunsets for Jules.  It was short, about 4,000 words and although it was complete, I always thought it would be fun to flesh out Kris and Eric’s relationship more.  There was so much back story and so many little interactions that I skipped over.  Recently, I talked to Jules to make sure she didn’t mind if I expanded it, and when she gave me her enthusiastic permission I re-wrote the story.  It’s now over 10,000 words and because it covers the same period of time I was able to give it a depth that it lacked before.

I am thrilled with the way it turned out and I hope Jules, and you, will be too.  Keep an eye out in the next few days, I have a ton of fantastic pictures that tie in beautifully with the story.  I’ll post them soon.

Oh, and that gif above?  It started the whole thing.

 

Right now the story is available on in the following places:

All Romance

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

I’ll update this with Google Play link once it is available.

“The French Toast Emergencies” Reviews

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I’ve gotten some really great feedback on this story lately and I wanted to share them with you!

Helena’s Heat blog reviewed

“All too often when I read short stories I’m left feeling short changed. The stories feel rushed, the characters underdeveloped or the ending disappointing. ‘The French Toast Emergencies’ had none of those issues. It was a complete and very satisfactory story about two interesting and likeable characters.”

Rainbow Gold Reviews blog also reviewed the story

 “…I loved how the events of the story pushed these likable men together. They felt real, acted real and it made their sweet romance so much more poignant. They weren’t just random characters, in just 45 pages they became friends and I laughed with them, felt my heart warm as they realized what they might have found in each other and totally believed their love story. I cared for them and with just a few pages that is an incredible achievement!”

GGR-Review  weighed in.

“This book was so sexy. Sexy as in how comfortable the characters were with each other, how easily they fell into a domesticated state. Sexy doesn’t have to be pages of penetrative sex, it can also be 2 guys getting to know each other from the simple touches and nudges to body exploration. Even trying to take a sneaky peak at the other through an opaque shower curtain. Brigham excelled at writing this, I pictured myself in the apartment on this ratty sofa playing footsie with my “boyfriend”.”

There was a review on Padme’s Library on Monday.

“Arthur and Samuel are wonderfully intriguing characters that I would have loved to read more about but the length, or lack-there-of, is definitely not a drawback.  I fell for both guys and the romance that sets in due to their weather triggered circumstances.  Definitely another great novella by Miss Vaughn.”

And today, Prism Book Alliance put up their review!

“I love seeing a well written, tight, and clean self-published story.  So often these days, I find self-published to lack the quality I seek when I am paying for a story.  I was very pleased to see Vaughn, however, stays far away from that trap.”

No time for me to get a swelled head at all of the great feedback though, there’s too much writing to be done!  And, if you haven’t checked out the story yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

Personal Photography – Easter

Well, I’m only two weeks behind with the Easter pics, so that’s an improvement, right?

Because it was such a late spring, there wasn’t much in the way of plants and flowers outside, except for the daffodil bed, so I took advantage of what my parents grow inside.

Oh, and that wooden carved egg?  My dad made it for me.  He’s made one for me almost every year since I was a kid so I have dozens of them.  Hmm, maybe when I (eventually) set up an office for myself that’s a little less makeshift, I’ll hang a shelf just for them, because they’re much to pretty to hide in a box and only bring out at Easter.  This year the wood was from a cedar tree that grew on my grandma’s property, so that makes it extra special.