I failed Nanowrimo – and it’s Okay

This year I did Nanowrimo for the third time. I finished the month with 43,381 words. I only needed another 6,619 words and I would have been a Nano ‘winner’. But I didn’t. I failed.

twb nano1 I failed Nanowrimo   and its Okay

At first I was kind of pissed with myself. I mean I only had six and half odd thousand words left – I could have done it. I could have smashed it out at the end over the last weekend.

But instead I decided to take the kids to the pool, paint Christmas ornaments with my daughter, dig in my vegetable garden (got my first cucumber this weekend – go me!).

I didn’t reach 50,000 words, but you know what. It’s Okay. I still did a brilliant amount of words AND I took time off to spend with my family.

As a stay at home mum / writer, I now realise I can’t have ‘it all’. I can’t always spend unlimited times at my computer getting lost in a story (or staring at a blank screen wondering what the hell is meant to happen next).

Readers might want that next book right this very moment. I’d love to be able to give it to them. But I also love sitting back with a coffee in one hand staring out the window at the Christmas lights my neighbour has put up. I also love dancing with my daughter to the kmart ad (seriously – that song rocks kmart – don’t ever change it). And while I don’t always love talking to my son about first person shooter games, I do love that he wants to share his interests with me.

My house is often a mess. My life is never perfect. But I have food on the table, a crazy family, and I get to do what I love for a career – write. Just not as often as I would like.

And that’s okay.

Should I Stay in Kindle Unlimited? Let’s Do Some Math

In case you hadn’t noticed, the KU Payout is dropping.

In July it was $1.81 (yah!)
In August it was $1.54 (sad face)
In September it was $1.52 (is it stabilising?)
In October it was $1.33 (whoa, hold up).

It means that many people are now considering jumping out of Select and distributing wide again. Even I’m considering it, but I wanted to take any emotions I had out and see if it made good business sense to stay or go.

Let’s take the latest figure of $1.33 to make the calculations, since it’s the lowest (so far), so it’s (currently) worst case scenario. I don’t want to speculate whether it’ll rise or fall in the future because my last crystal ball stopped working after the last update (heh).

I’m also going to use the Amazon royalty rates rather than each store for sake of easy math because I’ll too lazy to look up the rates at each store – but they’re similar enough not to make too much of a statistical difference.

So back to $1.33.

Obviously if you price your books lower than $2.99 you are still better off in KU as the royalty is substantially higher.

At 0.99 cents your royalty is (0.99 x 35%) = 35 cents
At 1.99 cents your royalty is (1.99 x 35%) = 70 cents
(even at 2.98 your royalty is $1.04 at 35% but no one is crazy enough to price there when one cent higher bumps you into the 2.99 royalty so I don’t know why I’m even bringing it up.)

For shorts and promo books priced low, KU is still good value.

What about those books priced in the 70% bracket?

Here are five popular prices for books on Amazon and where many indies price themselves:

At $2.99 x 70% = $2.00*
At $3.99 x 70% = $2.70*
At $4.99 x 70% = $3.40*
At $6.99 x 70% = $4.80*
At $9.99 x 70% = $6.90*

* I’m rounding down to take into account delivery fees. These fees vary according to file size.

On a 1:1 ratio, it looks like you lose money on borrows under the 70% bracket.


Most people are reporting many more borrows than sales, so it’s not a fair comparison.

Now every book and every author is different and will have different borrows to sales ratios, you can (and should) calculate your own.

Let’s use a ratio of 2:1 borrows to sales because that’s what mine is for my whole catalog (my fiction alone has a much larger borrow to sales rate, I’ll get to that below).

Therefore 1.33 x 2 = $2.66

So price points $2.99 and $3.99 are still good to have in KU comparatively (at this stage).

Priced above that? Then it depends.

My non fiction is priced higher than my fiction. They also don’t have the same borrow rate as my fiction does. Once the Select terms are finished for the two non fiction I have in, I’ll pulling them out of Select and distributing wide again.

The fiction, for now I’m keeping it in. I have one novel that has a 16 borrows to 1 sale ratio. For some reason this book just doesn’t sell much but gets lots of borrows (it’s priced at $3.99).

There is another thing to take into account too:

Borrows count for a books ranking (some are speculating that it gives a bigger rank boost than a regular sale, but I have no idea.) So the extra visibility that you get for that rank might make a lower payout more palatable.

At the end of the day, for me, it’s still worth it to keep my fiction in. The borrows more than make up for any lost sales on other sites. (I never sold much there anyway).

How much would it drop before I’m out?

I wanted to figure out, for me, how much could the KU payout drop before it would no longer be economically viable to stay in?

My fiction priced under $0.99 is staying in even if the payout falls to 35 cents since that’s equal to the sale royalty. (I don’t have anything at 1.99).

For those priced $2.99 & above, my borrow ratio is 4.5:1 (told you my fiction borrow to sales ratio was high).

For my $2.99 titles, I’ll stay in as long as the borrow payout is above 45 cents. $3.99 titles will stay in above 60 cents, and $4.99 titles will stay in above 76 cents. (These figures have been calculated by dividing the royalty rates above by 4.5 (my current ratio)).

So therefore I’m still in a very healthy place right now, even at $1.33. It could theoretically go as low as 76 cents and I’ll still keep my all fiction in. Below that and I start taking my higher priced books out depending on where it settles.

I hope it doesn’t of course because I like money, but at the moment I’m still better off staying in.

Hope this has helped you in your decision,

Tracey icon smile Should I Stay in Kindle Unlimited? Lets Do Some Math

Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited

Update 21 Aug: We made $1.80 for July’s borrows. That’s awesome. It still has to settle down, but so far August’s numbers are looking even better in terms of borrows. There is currently some updating going on at Amazon’s end (they are re-adjusting for the 10% read threshold) but I haven’t lost many borrows yet. I’m super pleased with how KU is working out for me.

I’m not much of a risktaker. I once holidayed in Las Vegas for three days and only put ten dollars into the machines,  just so I could say I gambled in Vegas. I don’t buy lottery tickets and if you tell me your sure thing at the horse races I’ll nod politely and change the subject. Even my stockmarket buys require lots of research before I’ll hand over my money.

But when Kindle Unlimited was announced last month my heart began to beat a little faster. A way for people to read your books without risk, and for me to get paid for it. Oh boy, could this really help my floundering sales?

Up until now I have been a strong opponent of the Kindle Select program because of its exclusivity. While I could understand the benefits, none of those were enough to entice me away from sales on other platforms. I was doing well at Apple, less so at Barnes & Noble, and had just starting experimenting with titles at All Romance Ebooks.

But the Kindle Unlimited siren was calling to me, sweetly, softly, seductively.

I opened my spreadsheets and analysed my figures. How much was I really making on the other platforms? Would the rise in borrows offset any profits I lost? What would be the long-term impact? Would this impulsive decision be just too crazy to take, especially for risk-aversion me?

I could clearly see that I was making good money everywhere with my non-fiction, but my fiction was primarily Amazon only. So after discussing it with my husband, I pulled all my twenty-seven fiction titles from the other stores and enrolled them in Select. After all, if it didn’t pay off I could always re-publish after the 90 days was up.

Now, of those 27 fiction titles, four are novels, two are novellas, and the rest are short stories or short story collections. This is important to note, because many of the short stories are priced at 0.99 cents, meaning for a full sale I get $0.35’ish profit. What I get as a borrow with KU is still conjecture, but if it’s higher than my current royalty it’ll be a win. It was this reason I figured that even if it replaced sales entirely, it would be beneficial.

ku aug14 Why I Went All In With Kindle Unlimited
Sales about the same. Borrows significant, often surpassing sales.

Did I make the right decision?

It’s far, far to early to tell. We won’t know what KU pays for a borrow until the next few days. People have been speculating it could remain around $2, while others predict it could go as low as ten cents. We simply do not know. We also do not know what the borrows will be like after customers finish their free trials.

At this stage, even without knowing what the borrow rate is, I’m happy. The borrows have increased my rank and while sales haven’t changed, I’m hitting a few low sub-genre lists. I’m still not making great money yet, although it does look promising.

What about the exclusivity?

It’s true that I don’t like it. But this is a pay to play game, and if I wanted to be in Kindle Unlimited I had no other choice. Each author has different decisions to make and for me, I chose to jump in. Your experience will be different.

I’m holding my breath now waiting anxiously for the announcement to see what my return on investment will be. Will it be low, high, middle? I can’t say, although I’m cautiously optimisitic. Like most new programs that Amazon implements, it’s usually the early adopters that do best.

My only prediction is that we’ll be seeing quite a few news/blogs over the next few days with “I told you so’s” from both camps.

Won’t that be fun.




Happy 3rd Indie Author Birthday

3rd birthday cake Happy 3rd Indie Author BirthdayWhoosh!

Another year has passed on this self publishing journey. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t written much over the past twelve months. That’s for a few reasons which I’ll outline in this post, but know that I haven’t given up. This little train is still chugging up that hill.

Before I get into this past year, I thought I’d look back at my predictions and promises made last year:

12 books in 12 months: Achievement unlocked: 3 Novels, 1 Non-fic book, 2 Novellas, 11 Short Stories, 1 Collection (Bundle)

Earn $16K or more: Achievement fail. Income was a little higher than year 2 (around $9k) but nowhere near the 16K I predicted.

Author Ranking in Top 500: Achievement fail. Even publishing numerous books under my main pen name, I couldn’t budge it much. Around the 2,000 mark she stays.

As you can see, apart from writing and publishing a bunch of books, nothing much happened. My income and rankings stayed about the same. This was one of the reasons I haven’t blogged much. Nothing I did really worked, so I couldn’t report on anything. Did you really want to read a post titled, So I Didn’t Fail, But I Wasn’t Much of a Success Either. No, I didn’t think so.

But I must have learned something, right?


  1. Novels, even in the uber popular romance genre, aren’t a guarantee of riches. My standalone novel is lucky to sell a few copies a month, even with good reviews.
  2. Series/Serials sell. The short story collection I wrote eons ago is still my best seller. The only thing I can determine about this, is that they are in a series. Go series.
  3. Non fiction (for me) is my bread and butter. This is unfortunately true even though I want to be a fiction writer. It’s clear that readers want me to write more non-fic even though I’m resisting.
  4. Changing covers,blurbs,pricing doesn’t always work. I’ve heard it on all the popular forums, book not selling? Change the cover! Still not selling? Lower the price! Nope. Nothing I’ve done here has made much of a difference to my sales. High/low price – it sells the same.
  5. Free isn’t as effective as it used to be. I was a huge proponent of the perma-free model. I still like it in theory, but I have noticed it’s not as strong as it once was. Recently I took everything off free. I’m making more money. Go figure.
  6. I suck at smut. Yes, I tried my hand at erotica. I failed. It is not the cash machine that I’d heard about. At least it was fun to write.

Of course, your experience may (and probably will) vary. Everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t based on their experiences. But really, no-one knows. Even those who are successful don’t really know what it was that made a particular book reach the stars. Some books take off, some don’t. You just have to do everything you can to give it the best chance – good writing/cover/title/blurb/price etc. Then cross your fingers (and start the next book, because that one might be the one.)

And that’s another reason I haven’t blogged here. I don’t know much more than you do. I thought I did. But I don’t.

So what now? What’s up for the next year?

I’m not entirely sure. Obviously what I’m doing now isn’t working, so I plan on changing things up. I’m going to go back and write some sequels, prequels, and freequels to those books that aren’t selling. We’ll see if putting them in a series makes a difference (worth experimenting with at any rate).

I am contemplating going back to non-fic for a while. It’s where the money is for me, even though my heart’s not really in it. Maybe.

I’ll limit my time on forums and blogs. They confuse me with all the conflicting advice. I see a good theory and get all gung-ho on it, only to find it doesn’t work quite as well as promised. (ha, shades of my internet marketing adventure days – is that something new and shiny over there? scamper, scamper).

But mostly, I’m going to take things easier on myself.

  • I’m not a success? Oh well.
  • I missed a (self-imposed) deadline? There’s always tomorrow.
  • I didn’t write today? Have a nap instead.

Goals for the next year:

Ha, ha, ha, Tracey, you are so cute. Goals? I don’t need no stinkin’ goals. So no goals. I’ll take everyday as it comes.

And if I DO find something that works for me, I’ll blog about it.




Write Something, You Slacker!

I’m of course referring to myself, who hasn’t updated this blog (or any of my other blogs) for quite some time.

It’s seems, with me at least, novel writing and blogging do not go hand in hand. It’s either one or the other. And since novel writing makes more money (money? ha!), blogging get’s pushed to the side.

So what’s a writing mama like me to do when I get behind schedule?

Why sign up for Nanowrimo, of course!

nano challenge Write Something, You Slacker!

You all know the drill – 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,666 a day. 69 words an hour (you can write for 24 hours, right?). 1 word every minute. Or something like that.

Since I average about 1,000 words an hour that means about an hour and a half of writing something.

Sure. No problem.


50,000 in one month? Are you cray cray crazy?

Probably. But that’s beside the point. I actually don’t think Nano is all that difficult if you commit.

That it’s in November kinda sucks, because it’s right in the middle of getting ready for Christmas, which as you know, means shopping, decorating your house, and making delicious (fattening) food.

But since you’re a writer, you don’t need food to get fat – just exercising those butt muscles by sitting at your computer for an hour and a half a day [cough – twelve hours on Facebook – cough] is enough to get the same result. And who needs a pretty house when you have Pinterest pictures to cry over? And shopping? Well, even Grandma wants a copy of your latest tentacle dinosaur billionaire romance, doesn’t she? There, shopping done.


Well last I checked, there was no Nano police. No one is going to send you a report with a big ‘F’ on it if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. Besides, there are whole forums for Nano Rebels who jump in with half written books or write whatever they like. The only real criteria for ‘winning’ is that you finish your 50K. And that’s easy (as I’ve just proved above – it’s one measly word every minute).

So you are going to do Nano with me, aren’t you?

Come on, write something – you slacker!

icon smile Write Something, You Slacker!