Category: Books

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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number One



We’ve reached the point in the cycle where the Rules for Authors return to the beginning.


I repost the Rules instead of pointing to the prior iteration because the Rules are in a constant state of flux, just like the entertainment industry itself.


So, here we go again!



Number One

Money Flows TO The Author


While most of the Rules for Authors are not in any particular order of importance, this is number one for a reason: It is THE most important Rule and actually summarizes many of the other Rules into one easy to understand concept.

So, what does it mean?

Simply stated, the author should always be paid for their work and should never pay in order to create their work. See Rules Two, Three, and Four in particular.

As stated in Rule Number Four, if an author pays a “publisher” for editing, cover art, or anything else, you don’t have a publisher at all…you have a printer.

Think about it…

If you need some business cards, you go to a printer. They will, if you desire, create the artwork, layout, and other technical details for you, and then they will print, cut, and package your cards and ship them to you. You pay the printer for these services, and the printer deserves to be paid for these services. The only place they make any money is by providing those services to you.

A publisher makes their money by selling books. Editing (from acquisitions, to line, to content, and every other stage) is simply getting that product ready for market. The cover art is just marketing. These things are a normal part of the costs of doing business—just like the electric bill—for the publisher.

In other words, these costs are NOT the direct responsibility of the author.

Yes, I know…

The higher the costs of the publisher, the less they can afford to pay the author in terms of royalties, but this is another problem most writers have in their thought processes…an editor (or artist) working for a publisher can process more books for less money than can an independent contractor.

They also do a better job.

If you hire an editor to work on your book, they have a vested interest in saying everything is perfect. Why? Because you are paying them. The more you like them and the more they stroke your ego, the more likely you are to bring them more work in the future.

The publisher’s editors get paid no matter if you like them or not. They keep their job by editing books into something that will sell for the publisher, so they don’t care about your feelings.

And never lose sight of the fact that this is a business. We are all—authors, publishers, editors, artists, etc.—here to make money.

Oh, don’t give me that crap that you write for the joy of writing or that you want to change the world.

You’re going to starve to death with that attitude. Get over it.

Finally, changes in the industry have created a flood of “self published” works. In these cases, the author and the publisher may be the same person. That doesn’t change anything…when you are writing, you wear your author’s hat. When you are publishing, you put on the publisher’s hat. There are a ton of reasons to keep the roles separate, mostly financial…but a few will protect your sanity.

Remember that writing is a lot like sex…

At first you do it for a few close friends.

Then you do it because it’s fun.

But if you’re any good at all, you end up doing it for money.

Keep Loving!



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THWT Question for 17 APR 2018



The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for this Tax Day is:


Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?


Keep Loving!



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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirty-Eight



Number Thirty-Eight

Read A Few Books


OK, more correctly, read a LOT of books.

This all ties back to other Rules where we’ve talked about writing what will sell and keeping your books on the book seller’s hot lists. Yes, as I’ve said, a representative or (sometimes) agent will help you here, and a personal assistant can be priceless, but it still comes back to you actually reading books to see what other authors are doing.

But there’s a big problem here: Who has time to read? We’re all busy writing!

First, like any other task, you need to set aside time to read. Put it on a schedule and your list of Things To Do Today. Make yourself do it.

Second, read faster. The average American reads around 200 words per minute with about 60% comprehension. To read a, let’s say, 40,000 word novella, the typical reader will need about 200 minutes, or just over three hours. It is possible for most people to learn to read faster. It’s not uncommon to see numbers in the 500 wpm range with near 90% comprehension. Take some classes. I personally am one of the lucky ones in that I read at around 1,000 wpm with better than 90% comprehension. That means I can read the above example book in well under an hour.

The last thing is something you may not be able to do for a number of reasons: Get other people to read books and provide you with a synopsis of them, a maximum of one page. I do this within my company, but the bottom line is that I pay those people to read books. Some are editors, others are marketing types, and some are just average people. For example, the lady who is the supervisor of the housekeeping crew that keeps the offices looking pristine reads books for me. As I said, this may not work for some people, but I would bet that you could get a few friends and family members to read books for you and provide summaries if you buy the books for them.

Using the three items above, in a typical week I personally read 17 books on average, and I get summaries of about 30 more. Do the math…every week, I see what the writers of more than 40 books are doing each and every week.

The more you read, the more you learn.

Keep Loving!



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THWT Question for 10 APR 2018



The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:


In your latest book, what was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?


Keep Loving!



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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirty-Seven



Number Thirty-Seven

Don’t Pass Up Free Promotion


In this post, I’m going to pick on Twitter only for the sake of simplicity and clarity. The same concepts apply to other social media sites and to promotion in general, so try to expand your awareness to those other areas as well.

Promotion of your books is, by and large, hard work. Probably more work than actually writing the books. Promotion is also, by and large, a royal pain in the ass. With these things in mind, why, in God’s name, would anyone want to make it even harder???

There are countless people on Twitter (myself included) who send out weekly tweets for #MM (Mention or Muse Monday), #WW (Writer Wednesday), #FF (Follow Friday), and other hashtags related to writing and/or general social contacts. Usually, people mentioned in these tweets will retweet them. To make a long story short, a typical #MM tweet will be seen by nearly a million people in the first 24 hours. Stretch that out to a week, and 5-million is not unreasonable.

So, if your author account is mentioned in that tweet, your name (and brand) is seen by a LOT of people. If we assume you are mentioned in six #MM/#WW/#FF tweets a week, your brand could be seen by as many as 30-million people! Just for fun, let’s assume that you gross $0.50 on every book you sell and that 0.05% of the people who see you mentioned buy a book, that comes out to $7,500.00. A week. That’s nearly $400,000 a year. Would you like to have that in your bank account? Better yet, can you afford to leave that money on the table?

I can hear the nay-sayers out there…those numbers are wildly optimistic. OK, so if we assume that the numbers are inflated by 90%, you would still make an extra $750 a week or almost $40,000 a year. Even if you only sell twenty more books, you made enough to go to KFC and get a $5 Fill Up meal. The point is, you will see an increase in sales.

See Rule Number Thirty-Six as well, because the things I discuss there apply to social media promotion, too.

The trick to all of this is getting other Tweeps to mention you. This may be in the #MM/#WW/#FF tweets, by means of retweets, likes, and other things. How to make this happen varies from one Tweep to another, but as a general rule, they will mention (or retweet) people they follow and who follow (and mention) them back.

For our business, the best bang for the social media buck comes from other authors. Follow them and, if they follow you, follow them back. Make use of the Twitter List functions to organize them. Retweet their tweets. Mention them.

As a side note here, one way to get a two-for-one deal is to retweet something where one author is mentioning another author. With one tweet, you mentioned two Tweeps who will, hopefully, mention/retweet you.

Yes, this takes some time, but the odds are you’re spending more time than that now and not actually doing anything positive. Twitter (and other social media systems) are huge time-sinks. Most people waste staggering amounts of time there chatting with “friends”. All you need to do is change your attitude and behaviors so you are interacting in a way that promotes you and your books. Get your name/brand out there.

In short, you can get a lot of benefit from a small amount of effort.

Keep Loving!



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THWT Question for 03 APR 2018



The first Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for April 2018 is:


Will you have a new book coming out soon?


Keep Loving!



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THWT Question for 27 MAR 2018



The final Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for March 2018 is:


If cost and/or availability were not issues, what ONE book would you most like to own? Be specific!


Keep Loving!



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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirty-Six



Number Thirty-Six

Advertising Bang versus Bucks


Many people think of promotion and promoting their books. In more general terms, promotion is just a subset of advertising. But no matter what you call it, you need to get the most bang for the buck when you are trying to sell your books.

Now, if you’re really not interested in making a living as an author and/or don’t care how much you make (or lose), you might as well skip this rule. It won’t make any sense to you and some will even puff up like a bullfrog and fuss about the art or craft or some other thing in order to get the entire world of writers to see the light and make as little money as you do.

For the rest of you who want to (or already do) make a living as an author, read on…

I want to make sure you understand that I am NOT talking about the basic promoting needed from the author of any book. What we’re looking at here is extra promotion down the road.

First off, you need to set a price on your time. This isn’t easy, though. In a general sense, you need to know how long it takes to write a book (from concept to release) and how much you gross from each book on a yearly (or other time frame) basis. Obviously, both of these values vary, but think in terms of averages. Let’s assume you can write a book (as defined above) in six months and in the first year of release you’ll net $100,000. This means, in a year, you’ll write two books and get $200,000 from them. Using the standard working year of 2,080 hours (40 hours a week for 52 weeks) you made just over $96 an hour from writing.

Now we do something similar on the promotion work…how many hours do you spend promoting and how much net income is made from that? In short, the dollars per hour spent on promotion must be less than the dollars per hour earned from the book.

This is MUCH harder than the book income and to simplify the numbers, we’ll make a few assumptions that seem to fit a good number of professional writers. We’re going to cut the dollars per hour from the book to 25% of the above value. This is to allow for “normal” promotion and deviations from the averages. So, instead of considering $96 per hour, we’ll call it $24 per hour.

In other words, if you spend two hours on promo, sales must increase by at least $48 to stay in the black.

Just as an aside, if you have a person employed to handle promotion and you pay this person $20 an hour, using the above numbers you still come out ahead.

DISCLAIMER: All the above numbers are 100% fictitious and many were selected just to make the math easy. You’ll need to plug in real numbers that fit you and your situation.

One thing you’ll notice is that, no matter the values used, as you become more successful and your books sell more and your net income goes up, the value of your time writing also goes up. This means the payback from promotion must get greater and greater to be worth your time and extra effort.


Promotions, especially live appearances like signings, can be a lot of fun. You can also combine such trips with a vacation (about 80% of which is deductible if you’re incorporated) and that’s worth something, too.

The real bottom line is to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of promoting beyond the basics. Is it really worth it?

Keep Loving!



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THWT Question for 20 MAR 2018



The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for this first day of spring, Steak and Knobber Day, and 20 MAR 2018 is:


Who designed the covers for your books?


Keep Loving!



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Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirty-Five



Number Thirty-Five

Ignore the Critics


As a group, critics are pompous morons.

Sorry, but I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

Anyone remember Phil Collins? How many of his albums did you buy? Want to know what the critics thought of people who bought Phil Collins albums? Try on for size.

And critics today are no different.

If you DARE not think, act, dress, and eat like them, or if you disagree with them in any way, then you are stupid. See link above.

Personally I don’t even read reviews of my stories. Part of that is I don’t like critics. Part is I just don’t care about the reviews.

I’ve had books get terrible reviews at the same time they sold 40,000 copies in the first weekend of release. I’ve had books called, “…the worst writing since the room full of monkeys tried to write a sonnet…” that made $5,000,000 gross sales in the first six months.

I really don’t care about reviews or critics. You shouldn’t either.

Critics don’t buy my books.

I care about the readers, and so should you.

The readers DO buy my books.

Keep Loving!


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