Sunday, February 1, 2015

I-SPY - a little thing called VAT...

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.


TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ...VAT!

Value Added Tax (VAT)
is a European Union (Europe and the UK) tax on sales. It's the tax that you probably thought didn't apply to you if you were producing e-books, and also: American / publishing with a US publisher / self-publishing from America or at least a non-EU country / in the EU but not yet making £81k from your self-publishing (I wish *g*) ... or any combination of these that used to apply.

BUT NOW IT AFFECTS YOU.

As with all tax, it's a looooong, boring, stuffy old subject. But I'm here to bring you the BRIEF highlights so you know how it affects you as a Reader, Published Author, and/or Self-Publishing Author (SPA). Wherever you are in the world!

What was the 2014 situation?
Up until 31 Dec 2014, VAT was charged according to the country you lived in. So if a publisher was US-based (or in another non-EU country) they never came across it. And if an SPA lived in the US (or in another non-EU country), it didn't affect them either.

However, if an SPA (like me in the UK) or your publisher were EU-based and you were selling e-books, you'd have had to pay VAT on your sales to your country's government. BUT as there's always been a minimum threshhold for paying it, most individuals and small businesses never got called on to pay anything.

NOTE: Amazon are based in Luxembourg *dum dum DAH music*. Because that's a EU country, they've been paying tax on their sales to Luxembourg. But the rate there is only 3% on ebooks, whereas it can be anything between that and 28% elsewhere in Europe. This has a large significance when you look at the change that came into place on 01 Jan 2015...

What happened on 01 Jan 2015?
Everything changed. VAT now depends on the country of the BUYER not the SELLER. So it doesn't matter where an SPA or a publisher is based - it's where the CUSTOMERS are that matters.
So...
- a US publisher selling to US customers - no tax. But selling to EU customers - tax has to be recorded and paid to the VAT authorities.
- However small an SPA may be, the same rules apply.
- the seller has to establish the customer's country when they sell, make sure they're accounting for the right VAT rate, AND keep the records of how they proved where that customer is for 10 years.

What's the problem?
Well, in theory it's all meant to charge the seller a tax rate that's relevant to where their sales are, which seems more fair (see Amazon above). Also it means the tax funds will be shifted into the country that's making the sales, not just all of it going - for example! - to Luxembourg.

But the way the legislation has been brought in, it catches a lot of smaller businesses who have been taking advantage of the ease of online, digital business, and it's causing them fresh horror .


For example:
- there's no minimum threshhold. If you sell ONE digital book to ONE customer in the EU, you have to register for and pay VAT.
- the EU countries all have different rates of VAT, so you have to be able to add on a different rate each time you make a sale. Only the large corporations have the resources and systems to do this.
- all customers now have to be identified to one country or another, and records have to be kept of the supporting information for 10 years. This isn't as easy as you'd think, especially in the world of online, immediate sales.
- official returns have to be made to your "base" EU country on a quarterly basis, by country of sale.

Ouch!
Yes indeed. What are the issues that may affect YOU?

A reader in the EU will see an increase in the price of ebooks, because most publishers and bookstores based in the US/outside the EU will now add on the VAT at checkout.

Small, EU-based publishers are withdrawing from direct sales because of the admin burden that's NOT compensated by possible increases in price.

SPAs will have to think carefully about selling to EU customers. If you sell directly - and outside of Amazon etc - you'll have to account for VAT. That means an increased admin burden, and a variable profit on your book's price, depending on the VAT rate in each customer's home country.

Authors may see a different royalty amount earned on sales to EU countries. If the seller adds on the VAT, you'll still get your royalties based on the net price. But some sellers will take the VAT off an inclusive price *before* calculating royalty. So you may get less.

Any good news?
Well, if you sell through Amazon, All Romance, and the established e-publishers - they'll sort the tax out for you. You can rest easy, little will change apart from your readers maybe having to pay more for your books.

If you personally continue to sell direct and worldwide, you'll have to account for VAT for EU customers. But no one's expected to have to account to all the EU countries individually - the VAT authorities allow you to choose one "base" country and make a single, combined return of your sales and the VAT due every quarter.

There are several focus groups campaigning right now for amendments to the legislation, including a minimum limit before sellers have to account for VAT, like there is for trade in physical goods. That would allow most SPAs and small publishers to get back in the game.

*

Like I said, it's a hot topic at the moment and has barely had time to bed down in people's minds. There are plenty of places to find out more if you want or need, including but not restricted to, http://euvataction.org/, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-supplying-digital-services-to-private-consumers, and your local tax advisor. It's not just ebooks that are affected, but all sales of digital products that are delivered at the "click of a button".

Will keep you posted....:)


Clare London, Author
www.clarelondon.com
Writing...Man to Man

Clare also runs an accountancy service for UK authors at Quids & Quills. Pop on over there if she can help with any of your VAT, other taxation and accounting issues :).


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Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.
We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!

Friday, January 30, 2015

THE WILD WORLD OF TV CRIME SHOWS



I'M HOOKED
I can almost feel the pink blush tinting my cheeks when I reveal I'm obsessed.  Hooked.  A junkie.  An addict.  To what?  Television crime shows.    

We've just started getting a channel called Investigation Discovery (ID) and it is nothing but crime/police/investigation shows.  Being a romantic suspense writer, getting a chance to peek into the mind of a serial killer, or a stalker, is fascinating.

Sometimes, it's listening to the family talk about their loved ones and the anguish and grief of knowing they were taken from them far too soon.  It breaks your heart to hear them explain how someone had so little regard for human life, but if you can tap into that wealth of emotion and show it on the page, the results can be truly amazing. 

The variety of reasons people commit these senseless crimes stuns me.  Money is usually the number one reason.  Money – are people really so enamored of filthy lucre they're willing to kill for it?   Apparently the overwhelming answer is a resounding yes. 
Then there's always infidelity.  Maybe the woman scorned or the spouse who's being cheated on.   Oh, and let's not forget the obsessed stalker.  Okay, I gotta admit I sometimes check my closet at night before going to bed after watching a couple of these shows. 


The titles are just as interesting/bizarre as the cases themselves.  You've got shows like Homicide Hunter.  Murder Book.  Wives with Knives.  Disappeared.  Web of Lies.  Unraveled.  Snapped (although that's on a different channel – LOL).  And the list goes on and on.

Television cases like these are overtly sensationalized.  They have to be or people wouldn't watch.  But a writer can read between the lines, finding that gem which sparks a story idea.  It could be an overlooked piece of evidence.  Maybe somebody's alibi held up, but you can see holes in it you could exploit as a teller of tales. 


Do you every watch something and think, hmm, I bet there's a good story in there?  

Don't laugh; I've caught myself jotting down notes in the middle of a show, so I don't forget that golden nugget of information to weave into my own masterpiece.  If you watch, tell me about your favorite shows, I'm insatiably curious.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Weird London Trip


Many, MANY years ago my best friend and I had the opportunity to travel to London. We were both nineteen and I don’t know how we convinced our ultra-conservative parents to let us travel that far away by ourselves.  I think it was because the opportunity struck so fast, and we were literally getting on a plane before the notion even sunk in with them.


We boarded a Virgin Atlantic plane to find stewardesses in non-traditional flight attendant garb dancing down the aisle to, “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night” by Corey Hart. After that mild culture shock, we settled in and were on our way across the Atlantic. A shaggy, blond-haired guy moved down the aisle, pausing every few rows before he stopped at ours to say, “Hi, I’m Richard Branson.  I hope you’re enjoying the flight.”  We knew who the gentleman was because we were big into records at the time, and recognized him as the guy who owned records stores and bought a commercial airline.

Now we’re in London, making our way to Buckingham Palace, where a large crowd has gathered. We climb up onto a nearby fence just because everybody else was doing it, and the finally mustered up the courage to ask, “What’s going on?” Well, it just so happens at the moment we wandered into Buckingham Palace, some guy who had been carrying the Olympic torch around the world was making his way down the Mall to arrive right where we were standing. And then to our surprise, the gates at Buckingham opened up as Charles and Diana walk out to congratulate him!

The next day we get off the Tube and decide to check out Hyde Park. We can’t get through the park because there is a makeshift fence in the way, and an empty stage. As we stand there scratching our heads and wondering what’s going on, Sir Bob Geldof walks by. (Okay, he wasn’t a sir yet…I don’t think). Anyway, today’s wanderings apparently placed us a few hours before the first ever Sport Aid event.

And lastly, on our eighties wonder-tour, we end up at a restaurant owned by none other than George Michael’s father. Okay, I admit I was a WHAM fan. There, I’ve confessed that in public. George’s father actually sits down at our table and starts chatting with us!!! He asked, “What would you do if my son walked through the door right now?” I mumbled something humble like, I’d say hello. He chuckled and added, “He comes in here all the time. Usually because he has no cash on him.” Then, this delightful Greek man serves us the best filet mignon we’ve ever had in our lives.

I could go on about our endeavors in that youthful trip, but you’re probably rolling your eyes already. 

I love London, and it was so much fun to be able to revisit it in my new romantic suspense novel, SHADOW. 
**
The Shadow was watching her again. Sophie Diem could not see him. She could not prove he was there. 

Sometimes he would approach. On those occasions she tried to run. Running was pointless, though. He would always return. And he would always ask the same question−over and over and over… 

Where is Nathan Bethard? 

Sophie's boss has skipped town, abandoning their counseling firm. Now a stranger is stalking her. Granted, the man is drop-dead gorgeous, but nonetheless, he is still a stalker. In an attempt to flee him, she seeks a new job...in London. 

Surely crossing the Atlantic will be enough to deter her shadow.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes


Hugs,
Maureen

www.MaureenAMiller.com





Monday, January 26, 2015

READY TO RESEARCH?



I write about geeks and brainiacs, so it's not surprising that I'm often asked how much technical research is required for my books.  Do I research it or do I make it up?

Well, the answer is (drum roll)…I research. A lot. Since my heroine is a hacker and her closest friends are brilliant computer nerds, I know I have to get it right. Lucky for me, my immediate family is full of geeks. I bounce ideas off of them once I have an overall plot in place. I ask dozens of questions about computers, networks, hardware and software. Not only do I need to know the types of computers my geeks would use, but how they would use them. Moreover, my characters can't just act like nerds, they have to talk like nerds, too. So I listen, eavesdrop, and make mental notes when members of my family discuss computers and technology issues. I purchased the New Hacker’s Dictionary (yes, there really is such a book!) and read it so my characters could speak in actual geek lingo. In terms of the technology, I know where I want to go and I have tons of ideas, but alas, many of my hopeful scenarios have been squashed because they weren’t technologically feasible. But I don't give up. I quiz my family ad nauseam until I find something that works.

In terms of the spy stuff...well, I almost joined the CIA
right out of college. (I opted instead for international journalism.) I got an M.A. in International Affairs with a specialty in Russian Language from George Washington University in Washington, DC. I attended a year of grad school at the University of Warsaw in Poland behind the Iron Curtain when it was still the Cold War. As a student, I smuggled out Solidarity pamphlets and letters to officials in the West. Eventually, I worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and disseminated information that helped topple the Berlin Wall. So, yeah, I really, really dig the spy stuff.

Have I made things up for my series? Um, yeah. Some. The novels are fiction, after all. But the devil is in the details. I really do try to make it as plausible and accurate as I can while providing a fun, light and entertaining read. But I do love to research!


So, how about you? How important is accurate research in making a story both believable and enjoyable? Can you tell when an author hasn’t done his/her homework? If you are an author, how much emphasis do you put on research?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Falling in love again

After I finished writing the final Dylan Scott mystery, Dead Simple, I ground to a creative halt. Really. I'd vowed to get on with another book, the one I wanted to write but was too busy with Dead Simple, and meh. I slogged my way through 20,000 words, but found there were too many other things I'd rather be doing - walking the dogs, sorting through thousands of old photos, washing dishes or cleaning windows (I kid you not).

A friend told me she thought I was suffering from burn-out. I dismissed this as utter nonsense. But, as the days/weeks/months passed, I began to think she might have a point. Somehow, after decades of spending every spare moment thinking up stories, I'd fallen out of love with words.

So what did I do? I carried on walking the dogs and cleaning the windows. Result? My house sparkled and the dogs had never been fitter. But it worked because, at long last, I've fallen in love all over again.



I've remembered how much I love creating my own perfect world (perfect with the odd murder thrown in of course), how much I love hearing from readers who've enjoyed one of my books, and how great it is to find the perfect word and feel like a genius. There's no commute and I can work all night with a glass of wine to hand if I choose. Oh, and I get paid for it. It has to be the best life ever, right?

So this is one for you writers out there. Have you ever fallen out of love with your craft?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Doubt Demons

DOUBT DEMONS. Those pesky thoughts that paralyze us with fear and keep us from believing in ourselves. They won’t leave me alone. I have a new book out, my first Indie novel, and it seems to be doing well. I’m getting lots of support from friends like Sally Berneathy and Sharon Sala, both of whom have known me for years and say this is my best book to date. Have another submitted to Carina Press,  first in a series of modern Native American mysteries. I hope if it sells that they let me keep the title…Cherokee Justice.

Things in general are going pretty well, so why is it I can’t relax and enjoy the ride? Why am I second-guessing my choices and wondering if I’m in the wrong business?

I have two theories. The first might be silly, but I think I’m spooked because it’s just my butt on the line with the Indie books I plan on publishing. I have first date jitters. What if this doesn’t work out? What if ‘he’ kisses me—what if he doesn’t? Can I take the rejection? I’m dressed well enough. My cover artist, Linda Kage of Kage Creations provided a most excellent cover! My breath (words) must not stink, because I have my first review, 5 stars, and I’ve never met the woman who gave it.

So…WTH, ya know? Here comes the second theory. I’ve been so wrapped up with personal issues like aging parents, a son who might need to relocate for a new job (I live with him, have for over a decade), so it’s been a while since I’ve been with any publisher for a while. This time it’s like getting back into the dating scene while waiting on being asked to dance, wondering if I’ll have something decent to wear or how long it’ll take. I’m not getting any younger.

Then I look at that last lovely cover. How can I not breathe easily while staring at a scene like that and knowing what my protagonist had to do to get to the place where she could…just…breathe?

Doesn’t matter what we do, if it’s new it probably carries with it a certain amount of fear, excitement, trepidation, awe, and eventually understanding. How we cope is our choice.

I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and kick back awhile, not worry so much.

Sunny Bob





For more info about the latest book:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SA9TQTY


Monday, January 19, 2015

It's a Writer's Life

I'm sitting in the waiting room at an outpatient surgery center while my husband is somewhere beyond a set of double doors marked 'Do Not Enter,' having a routine medical procedure. Most of the other people waiting have their heads tipped toward the oversize television screen, watching Fox News. A few appear to be reading magazines.

But not me. Because I can't turn off my inner observer. She's always on, taking note of the elderly woman who keeps flexing her right fist. There's a band-aid on the back of her hand. Was there an IV in there recently? One of her eyes sags as if she's had a stroke.

A younger woman comes into the room and I notice that her hair, although solid brown, unlike the older woman's brown and gray, has the same sort of loose, pretty curls. Are they related?

"Car's running. Come on," the young woman says impatiently as she tips her chin toward the door.

The elderly one reaches for a cane beside her that I hadn't noticed, and leans heavily on it as she stands. Her throat twitches with a swallow. I wonder if she's afraid of the other woman.

But before I have a chance to contemplate it more, they're gone. And my attention shifts to the dark-skinned man who's made three trips to the rest room in the forty minutes since I've arrived. Each time he comes out, he stops at the reception desk and pumps out a blob of hand sanitzer gel into his palm, and eyes the three ladies working there for several moments.

Do they find him as creepy as I do?

"Can I help you, sir?" one of the receptionists finally asks him.

He merely shakes his head in answer, heightening my suspicion. I look him over. His jacket appears too large for him. Could he be concealing a weapon? A bomb?

Okay, now I'm being paranoid.

A nurse comes through the double doors and calls my name, then tells me that my husband is ready for me to go back and get him.

All thoughts of the creepy guy evaporate into thin air.

I realize hours later that I wasn't being paranoid. Not really. This sort of inner dialog is something I do all the time. I let my imagination have free rein. I was merely being a writer. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this stuff!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Writing workshops for the fragile ego

Like most writers I know, I’m a little insecure about my writing. A part of me worries that I’ve been writing drivel all these years and that one of these days, people are going to find me out.

So, I study the craft in hopes that I will improve, and grow. Problem is, I’m an intuitive writer, a seat-of-the-pants writer. I’m no good at analyzing my own work or methods. And I’m a terrible judge of what I’ve written.

So I read books on writing, read blogs on writing and take writing workshops in hopes that some of what I learn will filter down into my subconscious, where the “boys in the basement” can do the heavy lifting when needed.

My next workshop is in April. I’m going back to Lincoln City for an in-person workshop organized by WMG Publishing and taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’m very excited about this workshop for several reasons:

  1. I will learn something new. This one, How to Write Fantasy in all Forms, will be an intensive writing workshop on the various techniques used in the fantasy genre. I write fantasies as well as mysteries and sometimes, I merge the two genres. I know I will leave with some good short stories and a dozen ideas for novels and other short stories. Kristine Rusch is a great instructor and she always inspires me to do some of my best writing.
Many of the WMG workshops have migrated online, and I have to admit that I like the online format a lot. One of the recent workshops I’ve taken was Writing with Depth, one of the best writing workshops I’ve ever taken. So, yeah, online workshops rock. But there are serious advantages to an in-person workshop that aren’t available online. For instance:

  1. I will be surrounded by like-minded students, about 25 of them, many of whom I’ve met before in other WMG workshops. I learn almost as much from my fellow students as I do from the instructors. These are all professional writers who want to improve their craft. My kind of people. The informal chats, the lunches, the laughing, the sharing of resources, tips, experiences, the discovery of new friends… that’s hard to get with an online workshop.
  1. The workshop will be held at the WMG offices in Lincoln City, Oregon. The WMG staff make themselves available to the students for advice on promotion, audio books, cover design… anything and everything to do with professional publishing. It’s an extremely valuable “perk.”
  1. And finally, did I mention that the workshop takes place in Lincoln City, Oregon? Right on the coast? Every time I go there for a workshop, I stay at the Historic Anchor Inn, which is a two-minute walk from the beach. The Anchor is a funky little hotel with a seaside theme and wonderful staff. Every time I go there, I’m welcomed with a hug and a smile. I mean, can you beat that?
These WMG workshops are hard work. Hard work. And yet, I always feel refreshed and recharged after one of them. And I always leave feeling that maybe, just maybe, I am a real writer.

How about you, fellow writers? Any favourite workshops you like to attend?

You can find Marcelle here: web | facebook | twitter


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are You a Homebody?

I have to admit I'm not the world's best traveler. I wish I was. I wish I could pack a bag, hop a flight and roam the world like a nomad, but the older I get the more I realize I'm a homebody. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't love visiting new places and meeting new people and experiencing new things. I'm just not a fan of the actual travel to get to those great locals or the amount of work to get everything back into place when I get home.

Then of course there's worrying about home and the fur babies I've left behind. Will everything be okay while I'm gone? Will the dogs eat? Will they forgive me for leaving in the first place? Seriously, it took my pit bull almost a week to forgive me for being gone so long on our last vacation. Speaking of vacation, here are a couple of sunsets. The first night (with a bit of the moon) and the last night (in order of appearance).


Beautiful, right? But despite all that gorgeousness, I've discovered I'm a fuddy duddy. I'll admit that trip was great, really great! And I doubt I'll ever say no to a Hawaiian vacation. But I'll tell you this... taking a weekender to a family wedding 10 days later, wiped me out completely. It was only 2.5 days from start to finish, but I find myself dreading the next trip I'll take in March. (Okay, so maybe I partied too hard so it's my fault. Hard to say...)

What about you? Do you love to travel? Are you good at it? Got any tips for me? I'm in serious need.

Monday, January 12, 2015

INSPIRATION?



Jackie

    Inspiration—“affected, guided or roused by divine influence.” That would be similar to actors performing in Beckett’s play "Waiting for Godot." Writers  can't afford to wait for divine influence, we sit down at our computers and begin. At the end of the day, we may tap the delete key, erase every word we wrote and growl at the dog but when the sun rises it’s time to write again.
     Sometimes that ah-hah moment occurs when I try to sleep—perhaps a little tossing and turning jogs and unclogs the creativity in my brain cells—this usually happens long before the first rays peep through the Venetian blinds and I reach for the ever present pad and pen to make a few notes. It’s dark—naturally—the moon is hiding behind a cloud. Do I dare risk turning on a light and waking my mate? I listen...is that a gentle snore I hear? Nothing will wake him now. On goes the light. Wrong—the mate wakes “What?” he asks. “What? What’s wrong?”
     “Oh, god, sorry,” I respond, jump out of bed, throw on a robe, and add—softly and sweetly—“I’ll be right back.”
      I turn on the computer and a flow of words gushes forth like a forgotten magic waterfall. An hour later, I close the office door before his snores--rising to a crescendo--interrupt my work and I return to the keyboard.
     Or stuck, I decide it’s time to take the dog for a walk. On goes his leash, on go my shoes and I look forward to a brisk walk that will dust the cobwebs from my thoughts and enable me to find where I’ve gone wrong. We’re walking briskly, the dog stops short and begins to commune with nature. I wait patiently, I hum a tune and then...Eh, Voila! I have the solution to my problem...where’s my pad? Where’s my pen?
      In an urgent tone of voice I tell the dog “Time to go home.” The dog looks up at me, disappointment and—is that hurt shining in her enormous, long lashed eyes?
     “I’ll make it up to you, I promise, extra walkies tonight.”
     The dog sighs—she’s been through this with me before. We return home, I take off her leash, and toss a handful of biscuits in her bowl before I dash to the computer discarding my coat as I go. I sit down, kick off my shoes and find I’ve retained every word, every sentence that came to me while walking the dog. Ah, inspiration...could thy name be D-O-G?
     I finish a chapter and decide to celebrate by restocking the refrigerator and realize I need everything. I grab my coat, refill my wallet, take the shopping cart, lock the door and—the opening sentence
      Photo courtesy of Robert Lerich Dreamstime Stock Photos
of the next chapter comes to me. What’s food? I unlock the door, throw off the coat, and kick off the shoes. Back to the computer—I’d rather be a starving artist typing away and living on two slices of bread and a lonesome orange.
     Have solutions that propel your story struck you at unexpected moments?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Audiobook Virgin

I confess I never used to listen to audiobooks. The kids were always around and the books I like tend to be unsuitable for young ears so I didn't get into them. Then a few things happened. First we started listening to 39 Clues books on long road trips across country, then my hubs bought me Boise noise-canceling headphones for my last birthday.

My world exploded.  :)

Nowadays I try to find all my research books on audio and (when it isn't too frickin' cold) I listen to the books on dog walks or when I'm doing housework. Win-win.

Recently I decided to take the plunge into getting my self-published titles produced in audio format. I put it off for about a year because I can not stand listening to my own words being spoken out loud. All five of my traditionally published books are out in audio, but I've never got past the first page.

I needed to get over that. :)

After signing up to ACX, the first thing I had to do was choose a narrator. Sounds easy enough, right? :) Pick a voice, any voice. I went online and started listening to various excerpts (you can do that on audible--in fact you can go ahead and listen to a sample of A COLD DARK PLACE right here). And once again my world exploded--only not in a good way. I was overwhelmed by the selection.

I've heard a few people saying they don't like male narrators in general, but I really felt my COLD JUSTICE series needed a guy. A sexy guy. A sexy American guy :) So I went with my gut and I loved the results.

I decided to search for a male reader who'd narrated both Romance novels but also Suspense/Thriller books. There's a big suspense component in my books but more importantly it's hard (ha!) to read a love scene without making it sound weird--and my books are pretty sexy. But I lucked out and found a guy who'd read for both JR Ward and Bob Mayer (amongst others) and knew I'd found the right person. So I emailed him and discovered he was a singer, narrator and an author, and all around good guy. His name is Eric G. Dove

The process itself was painless. The only thing I had to do was listen through and proof the files. There were a couple of funny errors. The one that made us both laugh was when my hero 'flashed his lace-edged stockings' as opposed to 'flashed back to lace-edged stockings' (that the heroine was wearing) :) Glad I caught that one :)

So, I've lost my audio virginity, and it was awesome :) If you aren't an Audible customer yet you can sign up and listen to A COLD DARK PLACE for free. The title is also available on iTunes and Amazon.

I'm going to give away a copy of my new audiobook to one lucky commenter.  I'd love to know how you feel about male narrators--love? Hate? Indifference?


Justice isn’t always black or white. 
 
Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for The Gateway Project, a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers and pedophiles before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn’t enjoy killing, but he’s damn good at it. He’s good at dodging the law, too—until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught. 
 
FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney has spent years hunting the lowlife who abducted her identical twin sister eighteen years ago. Now, during an on-going serial killer investigation, Mallory begins to suspect there’s a vigilante operating outside the law. She has no choice but to take him down, because murder isn’t justice. Is it? 
 
Sometimes it’s cold and dark.
 
When Mallory starts asking questions, The Gateway Project management starts to sweat, and orders Alex to watch her. As soon as they meet, the two begin to fall in love. But the lies and betrayals that define Alex’s life threaten to destroy them both—especially when the man who stole her sister all those years ago makes Mallory his next target, and Alex must reveal his true identity to save the woman he loves.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Twelve Step Program, Anyone?

by Janis Patterson

Help.

I really need help.

As most of you know, I spent half of last year republishing my backlist (and two new novels) through my own company Sefkhat-Awbi Books. It was a lot of work (and a lot of money!) but once they were out there I wouldn’t have to worry about them again. Or so I thought.

Of course, there is always the continuing publicity, which is the bane of all writers both self and traditionally pubbed, but there was one pitfall I didn’t foresee, one which is strictly on me.

Curiosity.

One of the benefits of self-publishing is that you can see your sales numbers almost instantaneously. One of the dangers of self-publishing is that you can see your sales numbers almost instantaneously.

Oh, I started out with plans to be good and businesslike. I checked my sales stats in all markets first thing in the morning, right after turning on the computer. I checked my sales stats in all markets last thing at night, right before turning off the computer. Fine. But a day is a very long time when you’re excited about a new career as a publisher and you work at the computer all day long. It’s a new world to me, as I sold my first novel in 1979, back when everything was done by snail mail and royalties came sometimes a year or more later. And you never saw your sales figures, which publishers guarded as closely as the secret of  the meaning of life.

Unfortunately, it seems little has changed since then for too many publishers, other than email replacing the snail. In self-publishing, however, you get figures instantly and money either monthly or quarterly. I never knew that information could be so addictive.

My descent started slow – first morning and evening, then a quick look at lunch. Then mid-morning, and mid-afternoon, and… well, you know. I started keeping my cell phone in the bathroom so that when I got up to use the toilet at night I could give my numbers a quick check without disturbing The Husband. While at lunch with friends or at a meeting I became adept at working the phone without looking until I could get a quick look at the numbers screen. Seeing the sales rise or – as happens depressingly often – stay the same is much more engrossing than a well-scripted drama.

So – I’m wondering if there is a twelve step program for self-publishers like me who have become addicted to checking their sales numbers. Or even if there should be. Where does good business research end and obsession begin?

I have no idea. Anyway, I have to get this blog posted and then before turning off the computer I think I’ll check my numbers one last time…


Help.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It’s resolution time!

How about instead of posting lofty goals, (which I tend to forget about far too quickly!) let’s look back at 2014 and assess the success of our business? Most of us on this blog have been writing long enough we’re used to thinking of our writing as a business, but have you set up a balance sheet? Assessed your inventory?

Sidebar – my tag line is “mystery with a financial twist.” The interviewer for an online magazine’s (I’ll add the URL later) first question began: Finance is boring. Why would anyone read a financial mystery? Ouch! I hope I finessed that question.

So back to our assessment.

Step 1: Create your balance sheet. List your titles – your primary asset – plus any other writing you have to offer, including WIPs and blog posts – your inventory.

I’m leaving your income statement alone. J

Step 2: Your 2014 goals (can you actually find them?) Did you accomplish your goals from 2014? (And how did you do versus 2013?)

Most likely your first goal was “write/publish X books.”

If you wanted to write, sell, or publish four books this year but you only managed two – why did that happen?

Setting lofty goals is simple and wow, but do we know the best-laid plans can go sideways. What happened that kept you from writing X books? Did your son or daughter make that traveling gymnastics team and carpooling/chaperoning bounced your writing time? Were you responsible for an elderly parent? Or like my friend Julie, did your daughter expected you to be the babysitter for her child? Family usually takes precedence over our plans. (Hmm…huge topic for another day.) Did your day job change (like mine) and all of a sudden you’re a road warrior with a huge project dumped in your lap? Or did you simply run out of steam—why?

Step 3: List the things that prevented you from accomplishing your goals.  

Maybe 2014 was amazing! You wrote and sold more than your goal; you hit Amazon category, USA, or NYT lists! Yay!

Step 4: List what went right in 2014.

Beyond the “no one really knows” why a particular book will hit is a lot of hard work. Did you commit to X words a day and set a time to write? Did you work harder to release those books? Harder how? Even if you aren't certain why 2014 went better, list what might have been a factor. Did your blog receive more traffic? Did you prepare and turn in guest posts? (All those posts and guest posts should be on your inventory list, by the way.) Did you spend more time tweeting? Employ certain ads/promotional campaigns? Did your publisher help promote? How? Take a wild guess if you aren’t sure.


Congratulations. You’ve just created your business plan for 2015.

You know what you have or don't have in terms of inventory to offer. You know why you did or did not succeed in reaching your goals in 2014. You know the personal-life elements you have to consider, even if it’s how to work around obstacles. You know what your obstacles are. You know what succeeded for your stories and personality.

Now you can make your 2015 resolutions, except you’re setting business goals.

Best of luck in 2015!


What are some of your goals?