Free Publicity Fridays with Magda Alexander

Storm ConqueredStorm Conquered by Magda Alexander

A Rebellious Spitfire . . .

When Brianna Storm discovers her illegitimacy, she abandons everything dear to her. Where she once took pride in her work, she now turns a blind eye to the thefts and destruction at the Brazilian project she manages and spends her time erotic dancing at the local bar. In reality her antics are a diversion to a threat against her family. A threat which may claim the life of an innocent soul.

An Honorable Man . . .

Jake Cooper, her former bodyguard, arrives in Brazil to fix whatever’s wrong with Brianna and get the project back on track. To do that he must take on a new role—that of her lover. Something he’s reluctant to do. He’s carried a torch for her since the day they met and refuses to be her plaything. But when forces beyond their control threaten not only their safety but the life of someone closely related to her, they must face their enemy together, even if to do so would destroy them both.

STORM DAMAGES SERIES
Storm Damages (Book 1)
Storm Ravaged (Book 2)
Storm Redemption (Book 3)
Storm Conquered (Book 4)

Jessi’s Review

In a nutshell: Fast paced, steamy, and tense from beginning to end.

I was hooked on Magda’s Storm Damages series since book 1. Book 4, Storm Conquered, is the first in the series to focus on Brianna Storm, the sister of the hero who stole the show in books 1-3. I was looking forward to the romance between the party girl aristocrat and the man who got fired from being her bodyguard. This book does not disappoint.

The romantic tension between Jake and Brianna is spot on. The romance and plot are woven together seamlessly. From the tropical jungle setting to the growth the characters experience through having to work together to thwart a plot against Storm industries, I was swept away into an action-packed world every time I sat down to read.

My favorite aspect of Magda’s writing is her dialog. Her characters sound like who they are, and I hang on their every bratty, sullen, or  lusty word. If you haven’t checked out Magda’s books before, start with Storm Damages. Prepare to be hooked on a new series!

In related news, I was SUPER excited when I found out Magda’s books are being made into audiobooks. Book 1 Storm Damages is out already with Audible, and I plan to snatch it up with next month’s credit.

About the Author

Magda-Alexander_Closeup_Pink_SmallMagda Alexander loves piña coladas and walks in the rain. Okay, enough of that. Rewind.

Magda loves reading steamy romances which she’s been doing since she was ten. Ummm, that’s not quite true. Steamy romances did not exist when she was ten, and if they had, she’s pretty sure her mother would not have allowed her to read them. She did read the hand-holding, longing-glances kind, along with her catechism, which got her into trouble more than once. Let’s just say Mother Superior was not amused.

As soon as sexy romances came into existence, thank you Rosemary Rogers, she’s been lapping them up. So when it came time to write one, guess what she wrote. A no-brainer, right?

Magda, a lifelong learner, graduated from the University of Maryland where she majored in Business Administration (because her family had to eat) and minored in English (because she needed to dream). She’s lived in Maryland most of her life and now resides close to the Catoctin Mountains in a city whose history dates back to colonial times.

To learn more about Magda and her books, visit her beautiful website and don’t forget to check out her Storm Damages series!

 

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One Author’s Debut Year: Indie Income versus Expenses

 

one million dollarsThe Rest of the Story

Yesterday, I blogged about my sales and income as a traditionally published author versus an indie author for the SAME book in two different years. In 2013, my time-travel romance Wishing for a Highlander was for sale through a small traditional press. In 2014, I got my rights back and published it myself.

Go here for some pretty charts that show my 2013 & 2014 sales and royalties for Wishing.

The take-away message is that as an independently-published book, Wishing earned me a higher royalty per unit sold than it did as a traditionally-published book. Another benefit of indie publishing was that I was able to lower the price of the book for readers. This is probably the biggest fctor contributing to my selling more copies of Wishing in 2014 than in 2013.

Yesterday I reported my sales and income for Wishing as follows:
Total units sold in 2013 (traditional pub): 3,699
Total units sold in 2014 (self pub): 13,929

Total royalty earned in 2013: $5,139.69
Total royalty earned in 2014: $21,827.29

BUT…

That’s only part of the story. Today, I’ll discuss taxes and writing expenses as well as my earnings on the other 5 releases I celebrated in 2014.

Total Writing Income for 2014

Yesterday, I posted what my bestselling book, Wishing for a Highlander made me in 2014, but that’s just one of several releases I had last year. Here’s the list of what I released and when:

Wishing for a Highlander (Feb 2014)
Reckless (March 2014)
The Wolf and the Highlander (April 2014)
Passionate Kisses Boxed Set (Reckless, June 2014)
Jade’s Spirit (August 2014)
Cole in My Stocking (October 2014)

Whew! I’m tired just looking at that. This production schedule was possible because I had four books already written at the start of 2014. Two had already been published with the small press I was with. The other two were contracted for release with that press when they changed hands and offered authors the chance to take their rights back.

When I got my rights back on Wishing, I got them back for all four books. Therefore, publishing them all was simply a matter of planning out the release schedule and promo, plus edits on the two contracted-but-not-previously-published books.

In the midst of all that, I managed to write one book, my holiday contemporary romance Cole in My Stocking.

There’s no way I can be a wife, mom, and writer and manage to release 5 full length novels plus a boxed set every year. I’m hoping for two books a year, at least while my kids are small.

So, what did 5 books plus a boxed set earn me in 2014?

$27,487.18

Obviously, Wishing for a Highlander was by FAR my biggest source of income. It brought in 79% of my total writing income for the year.

It would be cool to look at a pie chart of how much of that income came from the other books, but it would take me a full week to tease that information out of my retailer statements. (It took about a day to do just Wishing!) I would much rather be writing my third Highland Wishes novel!

An easier chart to compile is one that shows units sold. This first one is kind of like my Units Sold chart from yesterday, except it shows units of all my books, including the boxed set. The different colors within each column represent different books.

2014 Units Sold_Column

Clearly, the boxed set was my biggest seller in terms of units. This doesn’t translate into royalties for a couple reasons. First, the boxed set of 10 novels (all contemporary romance) sold for $0.99. Split 10 ways, that’s $0.09 per sale… IF the retailer doesn’t get paid. But they do, and that cut varies by retailer.

Second is the royalty rate per retailer. Amazon is by far the biggest seller of the Passionate Kisses Boxed Set. If you sell any ebook on Amazon for under $2.99, your royalty is only 35% (Pricing your ebook between $2.99 and $9.99 will get you a royalty rate of 70%).

In other words, before the royalty is split 10 ways, Amazon takes their 65% cut. The result is a whopping royalty per author of $0.03. Compare that to the roughly $2.68 per sale I get for Wishing, and you can see why 80,000 boxed set sales netted me a mere fraction of what Wishing netted.

You can’t really infer percentage income from this chart, but it gives you an idea of the kind of exposure a boxed set can give an author. The point of a boxed set is exposure, not to get rich. :-)

For those of you who like a good pie chart, here’s what those sales look like:

2014 Units Sold_Pie

I wonder how many calories those nearly invisible slices are? LOL!

Yeah, so my contemporaries don’t do nearly as well as the Highlander books. This kind of info helps me prioritize my writing. I have lots of contemporary ideas, but until I release at least two more Highlander books, I’m focusing on kilts and time-travel.

All right, so now we have a more complete financial picture of my debut indie year. But we’re still missing two big things.

Up next…

Taxes

For those of you who have been around the writing industry, it comes as no surprise that you have to pay taxes on what you earn. Publishers don’t typically withold for taxes. Mine didn’t, when I was with a small press.

For writers coming at this industry from other fields (like me), it might be a shock that first year you have to pay the tax man. Intellectually, I knew I would have to pay taxes, but I was so used to not seeing that happen or not paying attention to it that the size of that number the first year was a bit hard to swallow.

When I first started publishing books, I heard an easy (& depressing) rule of thumb: Put aside a third of what you make for taxes.

Thanks to deductions I made in 2013 for writing expenses, I paid Uncle Sam closer to a fifth of my earnings. What will the percentage be this year? Don’t know yet. Haven’t done my taxes yet. I’m hoping that because of writing expense deductions, it won’t be too painful. I doubt I’ll pay a full third of what I earned in taxes. But just to be safe, I’ve designated a full third toward that end, which brings my roughly $27 k in writing earnings down to 18 k. That’s sobering, no?

On to the topic I had several commenters ask about yesterday…

Expenses

It gets worse. That 18 k left over after taxes is not all profit. Oh, no. A significant portion went right back into writing expenses.

I begin a new spreadsheet at the start of each year specifically to track writing expenses. This not only makes it easy to do up a chart like the nifty one below, but it also provides a certain amount of comfort going into tax season. In addition to my spreadsheet, I have a folder in my email program for receipts and other documentation of expenses paid. If I get audited, I just open that folder and print everything out.

My total writing expenses for 2014: $5,881.93

Here’s a chart to show the breakdown by category:

2014 Writing Expenses_PieThe largest expense was advertising and marketing. Included in this category: internet ads, ad design, print ads, FB boosts, FB ads, BookBub, and other similar promotions (ebook Soda, ENT, etc.).

Next is cover design. Then editing. Then ISBNs & business license expenses. This category isn’t mandatory. For me, it was what I wanted to do. Then giveaways, copyrights, & website/supplies.

In 2013, I had to purchase a new laptop. A big purchase like that would drastically change a chart like this. From year to year, it’s going to look different.

For example, I’ve learned that print ads don’t have much of an immediate effect. That’s my nice way of putting what happened to me. I won’t mention the magazine here, but I paid $1300 for a print ad in a review publication, and they ran the ad directly below a one-star review for my holiday romance, Cole in My Stocking. A side note, Cole has nothing but 5-star reviews on Amazon. So the reviewer does not seem to have a finger on the pulse of what readers want. ‘Nuff said.

Another thing I learned: In comparison to paid ads, giveaways are an economical way to get your name out there and maybe find some new readers.

I’m glad I’ve spent a good chunk on covers. If you can do covers yourself, awesome. My talents lie elsewhere. Thank you Kim Killion for your beautiful cover art!

The Big Picture

When you take into account taxes & expenses, my $27 k writing income translates to the following take-home amount:

Total earnings: $27,487.18
Minus up to 1/3 for taxes (safe estimate): $27,487.18 – $9,162.39 = $18,324.79
Minus writing expenses: $18,324.79 – $5881.93 = $12,442.86

What Does This Mean for Other Authors?

Hopefully, you find some encouragement/guidance/validation here. Have I done everything the smartest way possible? Probably not. Have I had fun? Yeah.

All in all, I’ve had a good debut year, but I hope this is just the beginning of a profitable writing career. Taking home $12 k doesn’t exactly translate to a liveable wage. Writer earnings is the most discouraging aspect of this business to me. I’ve worked super hard this year, but if I had worked full time at a fast-food restaurant, I would have made more, plus I could have gotten benefits!

But I would have missed out on like 90% of the cute things my little guy at home said while I fetch him snacks, potty train him, and drive all over town looking for ways to entertain him. It’s all about trade-off. Could I make more doing what I went to school for? Heck yeah. But writing is better. For so many reasons, it’s better.

One of the take-home messages I hope to leave you with is: it takes time to build up an audience. Jessi Gage has only been around for 2 years. What will my sales look like after 5? 10? 30? I’m looking forward to finding out!

PK2_cover_full sizeWhat about you? If you’re an indie author, is your experience similar in some respects? Do you think I’m a moron for spending so much on advertising? Did anything in this post surprise you? I love comments!

Thank you for reading! And don’t forget to SHARE using the buttons below!

Also, don’t miss your chance to preorder Passionate Kisses 2 Boxed Set: Love in Bloom for just $0.99! Preorders are open right now! Release date will be Feb 17th!

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | KoboGoodreads

 

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One Indie Author’s Debut Year Income

The Numbers Are In!

About a year ago, I compared royalties for traditional versus indie publishing in a blog post. I had a unique perspective to offer since I did this comparison for the SAME book and close to the same month of different years, an opportunity afforded to me when the traditional small-press publisher I was with changed hands and gave authors the chance to ask for their rights back.

View the post here to see what I made in January 2013 as a traditionally published author versus what I made on the same book in February 2014 as an indie author (both were debut months). At the end of the post, I suggest I might do a similar comparison for a full year of traditional publishing versus indie publishing.

Well, here I am to do just that! Thanks for stopping by to peek! If you’re new to my blog, sign up for my newsletter over there on the right, and you’ll never miss any big Jessi Gage news.

Wishing for a HighlanderI’ll keep it brief (stop laughing).

This comparison is for Wishing for a Highlander, which debuted the first time in February 2013 with a small press at a price of $5.99. It was also available in print for around $12 to $14 depending on the retailer.

Here’s the cover. I rather liked it.

Wishing was for sale from January through December for a total of 12 months of 2013.

JessiGage_WishingForAHighlander_800px (2)In February 2014, Wishing enjoyed a second debut, this time as an indie published title. It sold at all the same e-retailers for a reduced price of $3.99. The print price did not change.

Here’s Wishing’s indie cover, created by the fabulous Kim Killion of The Killion Group.

It was for sale from February through December for a total of 11 moths of 2014.

The Data

Here’s Wishing’s monthly sales for 2013 vs 2014. The blue bars represent units sold through traditional publishing (2013). The red bars represent units sold through indie publishing (2014).

Wishing Comparison_Units Sold

The spike in September 2014 coincides with a BookBub promotion that ran for three days that month.

Total units sold in 2013: 3,699
Total units sold in 2014: 13,929

Here’s what Wishing brought home in royalties for 2013 vs 2014. The blue bars represent royalties paid to me by my traditional publisher (2013). The red bars represent royalties earned through indie publishing (2014).

Wishing Comparison_Royalties Earned

Note that my highest earning month did not coincide with my highest selling month. This is a result of the BookBub promotion,during which I sold like gangbusters but at a lower price and a lower royalty rate on Amazon.

(Caveat: I did not take the time to calculate USD from foreign sales for the retailers that don’t make that conversion for me on the royalty statements. Amazon is one of these. In other words, the 2014 numbers are incomplete, but the numbers won’t be off by a whole lot since the vast majority of my sales are domestic.)

Total royalty earned in 2013: $5,139.69
Total royalty earned in 2014: $21,827.29

The Analysis

I sold 277% more units of Wishing for a Highlander in 2014 compared to 2013, and my earnings were 325% higher.

It’s that difference in percentages I want to call attention to more than the higher indie sales. As a traditionally published author, I received a smaller “slice of the pie” because more people had to get paid. It’s a simple fact of the industry that the fewer hands that touch your book, the larger the slice you get to keep.

In the case of Wishing, I was able to price it lower as an indie book and make about twice the royalty per unit moved. If you look at the charts again, you’ll notice the DIFFERENCE between the blue bars and red bars is much bigger for the earnings chart compared to the units sold chart (with the exception of my BookBub month, September). This demonstrates that “slice of pie” effect. I got to keep more of the pie, and readers paid less for the product.

This isn’t necessarily a plug for self publishing. See my post on my decision to go indie for reasons why traditional publishing is a perfectly valid and profitable option for many authors. But for some authors, indie can be a more profitable option if they are willing to put the work in.

The Conclusion

Self Publishing has been good to me.

Feel free to share this blog post. It’s good info for those considering which publishing track they want to take. In this post, I blog about the pros and cons of traditional versus indie publishing, and I reveal why I decided to go indie.

Are you an author with an indie or traditional-publishing story? Are these numbers surprising to you? Encouraging? Disappointing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to SHARE, SHARE, SHARE using the nifty buttons below!

 

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Wishing for a Highlander Now in Audiobook!

My Latest Release is Making Waves, Audio Waves!

Wishing For a Highlander gets a new format! Let’s give it up for Audiobook!

Wishing audiobook coverWith my background in broadcasting and audiology, it was just a matter of time before I combined my two loves: books and sound. I had a blast collaborating with amazing narrator Marian Hussey and Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to bring Melanie and Darcy to vibrant life.

If you haven’t listened to audiobooks before, I’ll warn you…It’s addicting. I love hearing stories brought to life by talented narrators. Even listening to books I’ve read before is fun. I get to experience my favorites in a whole new way.

I’ve started listening in my car and let’s just say I wish I had a longer drive to get my daughter to school. In fact, audiobooks are turning me into a better driver since I’m not in such a hurry to get where I’m going.

Help me celebrate Wishing for a Highlander’s new format by signing up for your free Audible account and get credits to use on a free audiobook or two. Make Wishing for a Highlander your first audiobook, and my narrator and I get to split a bonus! Click the link below to get started with audible.

Audible Logo

Wishing for a Highlander will be available in audiobook on Amazon and iTunes any day now. Keep an eye on my books page and my website for purchase links.

 

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Winner Announced

congratulations-clip-artCongratulations to Kumquat8!

You won an ecopy of Cole in My Stocking as part of the Mistletoe Hop!

I’ve emailed you! Good luck in the grand prize drawing!

Thanks to everyone who hopped!

happy holidays

 

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You Want This Cole in Your Stocking – Giveaway + Blog Hop = FUN!

Welcome to the Mistletoe Hop!

badge Mistletoe HopChristmas is all about family, friends, faith and FREE STUFF!

Click on the enormous image to enter the Mistletoe Hop. You could win the grand prize of A Brand New Amazon Kindle or one of dozens of other gifts contributed by 30 awesome authors.

JessiGage_ColeInMyStocking_1400pxIn addition to the grand prize, I’m giving away a free ecopy of Cole in My Stocking, my new holiday release featuring a hot cop and the woman he’s been crushing on for years.

The blurb is below. Here’s what readers are saying about Cole in My Stocking:

“Wow.. WoW…freaking WOW! Did I mention wow?!?!? The story line was epic. The characters were well developed, real, emotional, addictive…perfectly written really!”-Becca Moree, Breathless Ink Reviews

“The relationship between these two just is hot. Everyone need a strong loving man like Cole in there lives.” – An Amazon reviewer

“I love how this novel was more than a love story, add in some danger & mystery and there my friends you have a very addictive story.” – An Amazon reviewer

All you have to do for your chance to win is leave a comment below with your email address. That’s it! Easy Peasy!

Feel free to pass it on! If you tweet about the hop or the giveaway, just say so and I’ll give you another entry, because that’s how I roll.

Don’t forget to visit the Mistletoe Hop page hosted by Paloma Beck at her beautiful blog, Romance Beckons to enter for the grand prize and to hop to other author blogs for more chances to win great prizes! You can also swing by the Facebook party for fun games and more prizes!

 

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Setting Sail with Kindle Voyage

My Kindle, My Kindle, My Kindle and Me!

Anyone remember the My Buddy commercials?

kv6This was me for the last 24 hours as I have been essentially inseparable from my new Kindle Voyage.

So, how do I like it? As if you couldn’t guess from my intro, here’s my detailed review for any of my wonderful readers who are considering this latest generation Kindle:

Appearance

As usual, Amazon does a wonderful job with packaging. The voyage came in a beautiful black-matte box with a blue lining that is as stylish and compact as the device itself. When you dig into the package, you just know you’re unwrapping something special.

kv7Then there’s the device. It is seriously so pretty.

The overall look is sleeker and more compact than the Paperwhite.

Attention to detail is evident in the sculpted back and the way the screen is flush with the edges instead of being recessed with a bevel that can accumulate dust.  When backlighting is off, light reflects off the entire face of the Voyage evenly, as you can see in this image.

Fonts are crisper than with the Paperwhite. The display is brighter when lit.

kv8Something new on the Voage: The adaptive lighting receptor, which adjusts the back-lighting of the display according to the ambient lighting. You can see in this image, the receptor is covered with a shiny finish that gives a nice, modern contrast to the matte finish of the rest of the device.

As for the display, the tool-bar-style menu at the top is the same, so Paperwhite users should be able to transition easily to the Voyage. There are a few additional options within the menus, but you’ll be able to keep your homepage looking the same as with the Paperwhite with a little tinkering (see Organization below).

kv1Functionality

The Voyage works a lot like the Paperwhite. The major difference in the controls is that you can now turn pages by pressing along the side in addition to the touch-screen page turn when you’re in a book and the swipe-style page turn when you’re navigating menus. You can even use the side-press page turn from either side to go forward or backwards in a book.

I’ve put my Voyage in a hot pink Origami case, and I love it. This is just one of the many cases you can get that’s tailor-made for the new Voyage.

Not only can I easily prop up my Voyage for hands-free reading, but the case is lighter and slimmer than the leather case I used for my Paperwhite, as you can see from the images.

kv2It was much easier to install my Voyage in the Origami case than it was to install the Paperwhite in the leather case. With the Paperwhite, I had to wrestle the device into the leather protective case, and I worried I’d never be able to get it out again without damaging the device or the case. With the Origami case, the Voyage snaps in magnetically and is held there securely.

kv4I do have a couple minor nitpicks about the Origami case. First, the standby/power button is on the back of the device. If the Origami case is in the open position, the button isn’t easy to reach to awaken the Voyage if it has fallen asleep.

Second, the Origami case is flimsier than the leather case for the Paperwhite. As you can see from this image, the case can get a little crooked. If protection of the device is more important to you than comfort when reading, you might consider a sturdier case.

Another thing I really like about the functionality of the Voyage is how easy it is to post reviews to Goodreads. While the response time of typing on the Voyage doesn’t seem much better than the Paperwhite, the accuracy seems better. I make fewer errors when trying to type out a note or review quickly.

Regarding response time, I often end up tapping a selection twice because I’m not sure it “took.” For example, when “checking” a book to put it in a category, I’ll tap a second time because it takes so long for the check to appear. Then the check appears then disappears a moment later. I have to tap a third time and wait patiently (not my thing), and lo and behold, the check appears about a second later. This is frustrating, but it’s no different from the Paperwhite.

Organization

It took some doing to figure out how to replicate the “view” I was used to on my Paperwhite home screen. I’m not sure if the collections work differently than they used to or if it was just a matter of me figuring out the right combination of views.

On the Voyage, there are two ways to organize the content of your home screen, and they can be used in any combination, making the options for viewing quite flexible. You can organize by type of item (options are: all items, books, collections, periodicals, and documents). You can also organize by filtering (options are: recent, title, author, collection).

kv9On my Paperwhite, I liked to have my home page organized as follows:

  • List vew (not cover view). This way, I can see more items per page, and less ads bombard me on the first page
  • At the top of my home page are my collections. I use collections to group my books so I don’t have to scroll through 60 pages of titles. You can see some of my categories in this image.
    • Below my list of collections I like to keep a list of all the books I’ve ever added to my kindle and not put in some category and not removed from my device. I use this list as my “action item” list. I needed to DO something with these books. For example, they might be books I’ve read and still need to review on You Gotta Read Reviews. They might be books I’m too eager to read to siphon off to the TBR category. They might be books I’ve read but haven’t yet added to a Goodreads shelf.

Figuring out how to replicate this system on the Voyage took some time. The help section in the user guide didn’t help me at all. It was more a matter of trying different things, panicking that I’d messed up my lists and categories, and trying again. I finally got it! Here’s how:

By choosing the list view, Viewing by book (type of item) and then filtering by category. These options show up on the home screen in either the list view or cover view beneath the toolbar, on the same line as the cloud | device option.

Conclusion

I’m still getting to know my Voyage. I can’t comment on battery life yet, for example. But I’m very pleased with my purchase and would recommend this device to anyone. Organizing content can be a little complicated, but for the most part, it operates just like Paperwhite users will expect.

Remember when budgeting that the price of the Voyage is just the starting point. Add at least $100 for an extended warranty (you want this) and a protective case.

Are you thinking about getting a Voyage, either for yourself or for someone on your Christmas list? What questions do you have? I’m happy to answer!

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