70% of Nothing: The Reality of Indie Publishing

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2015

computerscreenI barely passed basic math in seventh grade, but I’ve learned a lot about numbers, percentages and book rankings since 2010.

On October 21, I released my $2.99 novel, Notes from Nadir, which I had serialized via my blog of the same title. The price was chosen because I would earn a 70% royalty rate. I sold four copies the first month, the same number in November, and soon the book was ignored.

By February 2011, I had five novels on Amazon and a few other stores. The titles were previously published online and I had regained my full rights. Sales in the dawn of e-publishing [2000-2004] were minimal and I noticed nothing had changed, except that I was now doing all the work.

I self-published my nonfiction titles as I had extensive experience making soap and bath and body products. Over time, my eBooks were available on 12 other Amazon marketplaces like the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, etc. I uploaded titles to B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, CreateSpace [paperbacks], iTunes, and Draft2Digital. I joined AuthorsDen, Manic Readers, Twitter, Face Book and WordPress. I’ve had my own website since 2001 and this year I launched a newsletter and offered free eBooks. I have two instructional videos and two book trailers on YouTube, and I joined Pinterest because I like photography.

When it comes to nonfiction books, I’ve discovered that it’s exceedingly difficult to get linkbacks/mentions from companies/sources that are listed. I revised one of my titles to include several photos and interview some suppliers. While I provide their links and contact information, they won’t add a link to my eBook on their website, nor mention it in a newsletter/blog.

Why are those listed suppliers unable to provide a link? I’m asking for no money and in many cases have even spent money on their product[s]! I offered them a free copy of my eBook in their preferred format.

Don’t these suppliers realize that they can make money from eBooks? Should a consumer read it and want to buy supplies, that supplier has just picked up some biz? Also, if a supplier has an Amazon or B&N affiliate link, they’ll get money for each copy sold from their website. [I realize that not all websites sell via Amazon/B&N].

Indie writers are easy to ignore. They have no agents, managers or publicists to get the word of their eBooks out there. Ironically, while many of the bath and body suppliers are fond of the term FAIR TRADE, they won’t do a simple link exchange which would actually benefit their own company!

But I kept writing until my titles increased from 1 to 32, almost evenly divided between fiction and nonfiction. Contrary to the myth that more books equal more sales, I’ve found the opposite to be true. As of August 2015, I have 7 more titles yet I’ve earned 30% less than I did in June 2014 on Amazon.

Approximately 90,000 eBooks are released on Amazon every month. The chances of any book being seen are in the league of unlikely to very unlikely.

How does a writer earn a decent living by writing eBooks? Four years ago, I saw a pattern. They wrote an eBook or two, especially a series or serial, blogged, went to other authors’ blogs and left comments. Those other authors had a larger following, so the neophyte eBook author sucked up to the “bigger authors” and dished out excellent book reviews, hoping to get the same treatment for their books. Even after that exhausting circle of writing, praising other writers, and occasionally having other writers praise you, they still hadn’t seen an increase in book sales. Others have speculated that at the start of the self-pubbing boom, some authors bought dozens of good reviews on Fiverr, thus launching their careers.  A self-published author/blogger exhorted their followers to write a book, write a second book, a third, and repeat indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, that author wrote a book about how to write and market books.

After releasing my twentieth title, I thought there would be more sales. I uploaded a horror novella that had small blocks of white spaces appearing randomly throughout the book. No one contacted me about it because I never sold a single copy of the aptly titled An Author’s Nightmare.

Since then, I’ve changed how I perceive indie publishing. Whenever I upload an eBook, or even a paperback edition, it’s not publishing, it’s uploading a manuscript. I also uploaded three freebies; hoping readers would discover my other titles. Occasionally, they did.

So, how does an “indie” author get noticed? By advertising?

Advertisers are popping up all over the place like psychedelic mushrooms. They’ll send your book’s links to the best potential customers — readers. Sometimes grand promises are made of thousands of readers willing to download or buy your book. I tried getting a $2.99 novel out to 106,000 Face Book fans. The result? Zip. I could have done that myself, as I’m a member of more than 50 book-related groups. In fact, I have. The result has been similar. With some advertisers, you’ll get a few sales or a few hundred downloads for a freebie. Then what? Not much. Your book plummets in rank, maybe you get a review or two, and the title rests in obscurity with hundreds of thousands of unread eBooks on Amazon, B&N and other online bookstores.

Getting lots of downloads of freebies is meaningless if no one buys your other titles. There’s another myth about more reviews attracting more sales. Sometimes it’s true, especially if they’re legitimate reviews by readers. Yet how many people actually read and review those freebies?

After my years in indie publishing, I’ve learned that only a few authors can make a lot of money. I’ve earned far less than I did when I was temping.

Being an author isn’t unique any more. Self-publishing is for anyone who can process some words, design a book cover or have one made for a few dollars. Many books aren’t even proofread, let alone edited. With the glut of available reading material, it’s almost impossible for an author’s book[s] to stand out. Most eBooks will plunge to the murky depths of internet bookstores far, far away from the best sellers. They’ll wind up with six or seven-digit rankings, doomed to obscurity.

Most people don’t read. Most people don’t buy eBooks or prefer downloading freebies. And most readers don’t review books.

And that’s what I’ve learned about selling eBooks [and paperbacks] for almost half a decade.

WIN A VARIETY OF BOOKS! Sign up for The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

Advertisements

1992 Los Angeles Riots Excerpt from ‘Diary of a Hollywood Nobody’

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

This is an edited excerpt from my novel, Diary of a Hollywood Nobody.

Wednesday, April 29, 1992

diary of a hollywood nobody lisa maligaOn Monday, I began a new assignment in the basement of the Union Pacific Bank. There were several departments in the sprawling basement and I got lucky as the lawyer I worked for took every Wednesday afternoon off in order to perfect his golf game at the Wilshire Country Club.

George, the guy in charge of the mailroom, came over to the desk where I sat. My work consisted of alphabetizing loan applications for another secretary. I noticed his serious expression as he told me that the four cops who’d beaten Rodney King had been acquitted out in Simi Valley. The look on his broad Samoan face told me that he didn’t agree with the decision. Neither did I. “People are outside the court house yelling guilty, guilty.” He shook his head. “They’re saying it could get ugly…”

Quitting time was five o’clock and I drove home the usual way and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Until I got home and turned on the TV. I still didn’t have cable but that didn’t matter as every channel was broadcasting the events. Fires were set, looters invaded stores, and my adopted city was in a state of chaos. The only noise I heard was that of sirens screaming down Melrose and helicopters overhead.

Thursday, April 30

Early that morning I called Alltemps and asked if I should go in to work. The answer was yes. I guess being located in the middle of Beverly Hills changed their perspective.

I took Sunset to downtown and parked at the usual lot east of the business district on 6th and Bixel. There weren’t many cars. In the distance, I saw plumes of smoke. L.A. was on fire and I had to report to work in the basement of a bank.

The bank office was abuzz with static-filled radios. Iesha, a South Central resident, spoke of a night of terror. Luckily, her house remained intact and her kids were unharmed. Her husband was out of town so she and her three grade-school aged children endured a night of fires and looting and helicopters buzzing overhead. The nearby mini-mall was looted and burned. No more convenience store, video shop, or Chinese takeout remained.

Sybil was another black woman who had a firecracker of a night. She resided in Koreatown, a hard-hit area near 8th and Vermont. Her apartment was unscathed, but she received a free fire show. Windows broke. Gunshots rang out.

Every so often, someone would remember the employees below street level and announce another mishap. Looting on 6th Street. Fires burned everywhere. No work was done.

By noon, we were dismissed due to the ‘civil disturbance.’ Nerves were wrought. Various forms of panic seized the employees. George was accompanying Rosalinda to her bus stop near Skid Row.

I was driven to the outdoor lot across the Harbor Freeway. Two other cars remained in the $3 per day lot. Behind me, the smoke was billowing higher and darker. I locked my car doors. I was leaving work at lunchtime and wasn’t pretending I was sick; there was a legitimate excuse for going home early.

It started gradually. I noticed more pedestrians on the sidewalks than usual. Teens. Little kids. Mothers.  They headed westwards, about a half mile from Vermont Avenue. People trotting, some running. Uphill, at the intersection of Beverly and Vermont, traffic stopped at a green light.

Read more about the riots as well as the excesses of the 1990’s as a nobody tries to become a somebody in Hollywood. This unique diary is available here:
Amazon link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

B&N Nook link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

iTunes link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Kobo link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Scribd link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

Smashwords link: Diary of a Hollywood Nobody

WIN A VARIETY OF BOOKS! Sign up for The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

“Notes from Nadir” 4 Years Later

notes from nadir lisa maliga ebook cover

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2014

On October 21, 2010, the first eBook edition of Notes from Nadir was published on Kindle. Written as a series of blogs, Notes from Nadir made its online debut on March 3, 2010. My blog gradually began to attract readers. They seemed interested in reading the forthcoming novel that Notes from Nadir would later become.

Last year I published the second edition of “Notes” and even with a book tour, sales and reviews weren’t happening. The problem may be the title – nadir isn’t a common word. So, if you’re curious, and haven’t already gone to Dictionary.com to check it out, here’s the official description along with a summary of what Notes from Nadir is all about.

If noon is zenith then nadir is 6:30. And it was 6:29 and counting down. Way down. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “The lowest point.” Nadir – it was the place where I was inevitably going. Lots of stuff got me headed in that downward direction. Decisions made too late. Unmade calls. Calls made that weren’t answered. Missed connections. Being at the right place at the wrong time. Excuses. I was caught in the web of my own cause and effect and the resulting karma was ripening. Ripening of karma meant that payment was due pronto. And who paid for my own karma? Me. No checks accepted. No credit cards. And there sure as heck weren’t any I.O.U’s.

Only one place left to go. Back east. Back to a place I no longer called home. Back to a mom I hadn’t lived with or seen in many years. She had a new house in a quiet semi-retirement community. She had a spare room. Two-car garage. Free internet. And a few conditions…

Chapter 5 – Arriving in Nadir

In the morning, I awoke before sunup, knowing that it was my last day on the road. I didn’t want to hang around a motel room when I still had a few hundred miles to go. Soon I’d cross the Mississippi River and be in another state. I’d see things that hadn’t been seen in years: Hardee’s, Sunoco, Steak ‘n Shake, and White Castle.

Driving into the rising sun. Crossing into a state that had a top speed of 65. I saw more snow. When I was partially through the state, I stopped and got gas. It was definitely colder and I stepped over some snow to get to the pump. Being almost “home” was starting to suck.

The end stretch of the 2,000-mile journey led through flatlands and farmlands with intermittent groves of trees to eradicate the geographical monotony. How dull and colorless compared to the dramatic scenery of Arizona and New Mexico. Those miles rolled by as I reluctantly headed east to a “home” I had never seen since Mom moved to her one-story dwelling eight years ago.

The miles vanished. My arrival was imminent. I glanced at traffic heading west and recalled how it was when I was driving in that direction—full of hope. Now, I was full of despair, full of failure. Each mile led me closer to the “cornfield with lights” as my father, who had escaped before me, referred to it.

I changed to a smaller two-lane road that would lead me to within a mile of Mom’s new house. I had long ago memorized her address and she’d told me which streets to take and how easy it was to find. The new subdivision was called Hampton Lake and it was for older people. She’d sent me some pictures of her house and it was as generic as any modern one-story frame house with neutral colors and a few windows offset by some shrubbery and trees. Passed a place where I used to work and saw it had been replaced with a mart type store. Couldn’t help noticing the traffic signals were the old fashioned kind that were strung on wires rather than posts that extended across the intersection like they did in L.A.

I took a wrong turn and had to go another mile in some suburban/country area before I found the right street. I drove slower than normal until I saw the large wooden Hampton Lake sign. Next to it was an American flag. As I drove to the end of the cul de sac I had reached the End Point of my journey.

 

notes from nadir paperbackAmazon Kindlehttp://www.amazon.com/Notes-from-Nadir-ebook/dp/B00486UDJA

Paperbackhttp://www.amazon.com/Notes-Nadir-Lisa-Maliga/dp/1493519077/

B&N Nookhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/notes-from-nadir-lisa-maliga/1100144163?ean=2940012697790

More links can be found here: http://lisamaliga.com/notesfromnadir.htm 

“Notes from Nadir” is Here – Includes New Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013

It’s official—the SECOND EDITION of Notes from Nadir is available online in both eBook and paperback formats. This edition is almost 130 pages longer – yet the price remains the same! However, it is in a handy paperback version for those of you who prefer turning pages instead of hitting an arrow key!

Here’s a new excerpt:

Chapter 23 – The Factory in the Armpit of Nadir

I applied online for a job in a place I’d call The Factory. It was a creative job in that it dealt with listing auctions online, so I needed some writing and photography ability. Today I got an email from them and I wrote back that I was available for an interview. It was located in the stinky, hairy armpit of Nadir – the warehouse district on the south side of town.

Like the bakery, this wasn’t a place where I needed to dress in my white summer suit or wear those black and white sandals with insoles that read Made in Italy for Neiman Marcus. I was to meet Cheryl, the head of the online division that afternoon to discuss the job.

Driving across the large pot holed parking lot signaled that I was in the depths of Nadir. To the east was a rambling mart store and on the other side I groaned when I got a strong whiff of the Hardee’s fried grease.

I walked inside The Factory and saw large bins and steel shelves filled with scrambled junk. Lamps, toys, shoes, clothes, clocks, books, kitchen appliances, all manner of stuff just tossed or shelved with no sense of order. One area was packed with furniture; none of it suitable for Mom’s place—not even the garage. There was a small area where you could test the appliances and from what I saw of the hunks of junk they looked like they’d short circuit the place. I approached a cashier in a red T-shirt and asked if the head of the online division was in. “No, ma’am, she’s in a safety meeting,” the cashier glanced at her watch. “But it should be over in a minute.” Okay, I guess I’d look around … well crap my panties, what did we have here?

We had two middle-aged women sporting a few chins and several stomach rolls bringing in bags of fresh Hardee’s food. They set the greasy bottomed bags on a pockmarked old plywood end table, pulled up a pair of mismatched kitchen chairs, and consumed their burgers and fries. Right in the middle of the store but neither employees nor customers said anything or paid any attention. Geez, didn’t know this was a restaurant, too.

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-from-Nadir-ebook/dp/B00486UDJA

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-Nadir-Lisa-Maliga/dp/1493519077/

B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/notes-from-nadir-lisa-maliga/1100144163?ean=2940012697790

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Notes-from-Nadir/du3hDkmS6ku7BTL-MCWctw

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35983

notes from nadir paperbacknotes from nadir lisa maliga ebook cover

Sweet Dreams – A Contemporary Romance eBook

SWEET DREAMS By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013 

sweet dreams a novella by lisa maliga amazon kindle smashwordsFormer bakery employee Brenda Nevins is now a successful romance author of the Yolanda’s Yummery book series. Best friend and agent, Samantha Ho, has gotten her a movie deal and a reality TV show about her forthcoming bakery, named after her bestselling series. The frosting on Brenda’s cake is her engagement to handsome and sexy Warren Stillman, a Beverly Hills attorney.

Complications arise whenever any communication she sends or receives turns into snippets of a cheesy science fiction story. Her agent, fiancé, movie producer and anyone else on the receiving end thinks she’s playing a stupid joke. Brenda is trying to track down the person responsible for hijacking her career, her finances, and even her fiancé.

For Brenda, finding the culprit is necessary to make sure that her dreams aren’t derailed. In the process, she wonders if her aspirations are as dreamy as she’s imagined?

This novella is approximately 30,000 words.

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355959

Amazon Link: Sweet Dreams

Kobo Link: Sweet Dreams

Barnes & Noble Link: Sweet Dreams

Read a review of Sweet Dreams at Cheryl’s Book Nook.

“As a book reviewer I couldn’t help but find a few of Brenda’s inner thoughts just a tiny bit snarky. A reviewer who claimed your request for a book review got sent to their spam folder, and all that frilly stuff Brenda spouts off on her blog had me in stitches. Sounds like our author knows from whence she came. This is a delightful novella and I am for sure going to keep my eyes open for more from this author.” Julie, Romancing the Book

Read full review here: http://romancing-the-book.com/2014/08/review-sweet-dreams-by-lisa-maliga.html

Backyard Plant Remedies

By Lisa Maliga
© 2004-2013

Herbal remedies don’t have to come from a health food store in an amber colored glass bottle. You’ll find many of them growing in your backyard. Whether these plants are classified as a weed, such as the underestimated dandelion, or are cultivated, the following eight are all more than just food – they are nature’s cures for various ailments. For those of you who live in the city or have no garden, you can buy any of these helpful home remedies in your supermarket or a farmer’s market or health food store where natural and organic foods are sold. Also, if you’re looking to gather any of these items in the wild, please stay away from main roads. Exhaust fumes will have permeated the plant, thereby affecting the quality.

Apple: This is the first word we learn in association with the alphabet, the fruit that symbolizes America when baked into a variety of delicious desserts. We know the saying about that apple a day keeping the doctor away. There are red apples, golden apples, yellow and green; and other sizes and types of apples. Apples are made into cider [alcoholic and non-alcoholic], baked, stewed, beaten to a pulp, fried, preserved, and cut up for so many varieties of recipes that entire books are devoted to them. The minerals and vitamins contained within an apple are always near the peel—the area that is exposed to the sun. While some people can’t tolerate eating the peel as it contains too much fiber for their system, they often are able to combine the apple with bread and have no difficulty with digestion. The apple contains large quantities of Vitamin A, B and C – perhaps that’s why it’s the most popular fruit around! Can Help: Laxative, reduction of fever, intestinal disorders, insomnia, sore throat [baked apple saturated with honey], obesity, gout, rheumatism, gangrenous wounds, and stress relief.

Asparagus: Of course this vegetable is good for you – your mother said so! First of all, it’s green, and green vegetables contain chlorophyll, which is a blood purifier. Not only does this plant contain Vitamin B, but also calcium, rutin, asparagin, saponin and tannin – a veritable bouquet of compounds that reduce intestinal inflammation and act to promote a healthier liver. Can Help: Reduce iron deficiency, this low carbohydrate vegetable is suitable for those with diabetes, eliminate water retention, strengthen the kidneys and bladder, and alleviate pain caused by rheumatism, arthritis or gout.

Cabbage: Germans make their staple dish of sauerkraut from this vegetable. Cabbage contains sulphur, a wonderful ingredient that strengthens the immune system, lowers high blood pressure and fights infections. Europeans have long since discovered that the outer leaves contain high amounts of iron, calcium and vitamin-rich properties that allow them to use the cabbage to cure a large assortment of common complaints. Can Help: Ulcers, skin diseases, wounds, hemorrhoids, intoxication preventative, iron deficiency, minor burns, intestinal disorders, nosebleed, and wounds.

Dandelion: Most Americans unfortunately view the dandelion as a weed. People who live along the slopes of the northern Alps have quite a different view of this tall-stemmed yellow flower with the emerald green serrated leaves that contain abundant nutrients. We have been taught that carrots contain a large amount of Vitamin A. This is true. However, dandelion greens [leaves] contain more than 5,000 I.U.s per cup! Andre Voisin, a member of the Academy of Agriculture [France] wrote, “In spring the flowers and stems of dandelion are enormously rich in estrogen.” When allowed to decompose naturally, it releases properties of iron, copper and other nutrients into the soil. Can Help: The dandelion root is a tonic, diuretic, and assimilates the functioning of the liver. The leaves eliminate iron deficiencies, and are a natural stimulant with no caffeine-like side effects.

Garlic: Not only is this a zesty seasoning, but garlic has been used for medicinal purposes all around the world for the past two centuries. If you’re looking for a natural antibiotic, then garlic’s your herb. Whether in fresh, cooked or capsulated form, garlic contains allicin — a killer of bacteria. It is said that eating raw garlic helps you have a strong, clear voice. Can Help: Lower high blood pressure, fungus, insect repellent, stress relief, abscesses, dysentery, coughs and congestion, digestion, earache, colds, hepatitis, insect and animal bites, kidney infection, and wounds.

Onion: This is another familiar condiment that’s known the world over. But some of its uses aren’t known – and should be. If you are an athlete, aspire to be one, or know someone who is, then make sure you have some onions. Whether you’ve bruised or sprained any part of your body, the application of a slice of onion will decrease swelling and eliminate bruising. “Onion breaks up blood that gathers under the skin when a bruise is forming, and how it also disperses the lymph fluids that gather and contribute to swelling.” Lalitha Thomas, from her book 10 Essential Herbs. Can Help: Bruises, congestion, sprains, insect bites, heartburn, hemorrhoids, arthritis, inflammation, high blood pressure, kidneys, pneumonia, swelling, nervous disorders, urinary tract, and worms.

Spinach: Popeye was a fan of this high protein vegetable. Kids seem to dislike this intensely green colored veggie while parents repeatedly beg them to eat it, as it’s good for them. And the parents are right. Minerals, including calcium, iodine, iron and potassium are abundant, along with Vitamin A, C, K, [which regulates helps blood clot properly and encourages bone growth] and folic acid. Raw spinach [whether liquefied or in the form of a salad] is recommended for people with vitamin deficiencies. Can Help: Anemia, stress relief, increases longevity.

tomatoes photo by lisa maligaTomato: Fresh tomatoes improve salads, are used in many Italian dishes, and can be stewed, fried, pureed, baked, etc. This native Central and South American plant was referred to as love apples or Peruvian apples. In the 16th century they were imported to Spain and grown as a novelty – as they were thought to be poisonous! Of course enough people learned otherwise. Washing in tomato juice is a remedy for any person or animal having the misfortune to be sprayed by a skunk. Can Help: Internal cleansing, sores, rheumatism, gout – elimination of uric acid. 

Note: The content of this article is for informational purposes. Consult with your health care provider for any ailment you may have.

WIN A VARIETY OF BOOKS! Sign up for The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

North of Sunset ~ An Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2010-2013

Chapter Four

 Tuesday

Emily drove up the winding road and missed the turnoff for the second time. “Crap,” she groaned. Almost twenty minutes had elapsed since she left her apartment. She turned the car around and then was face to face with the huge black wrought iron gate. Ivy grew over it and the brick walls and all she saw was the stucco roof of the mansion. She opened her window and drove close to the speaker.

“Who is it?” asked a gruff voice.

“My name’s Emily Karelin. I’m a temp from Job Co.”

The gate slid open and she waited for it to part to the right all the way before driving up the long asphalt driveway. Eucalyptus and magnolia trees lined the drive, their scent permeating the air. She parked at the edge of the driveway near the basketball goal. Triple Double was painted on the white backboard in red lettering.

Emily grabbed her purse and left the window down and the door unlocked and felt secure enough to leave it unclubbed. Judging by the new BMW 850i parked in one of the open garages, a Ford Escort wasn’t prime pickings for theft.

She slowly went up the concrete walkway, approaching the vast beige Spanish style house. The double doorway seemed massive and suddenly it opened.

The bearded man who stood there appeared agitated. He had on a pair of soiled jeans and an old gray polo shirt and resembled a construction worker. Only his Rolex gave off any hint of wealth.

“I’m Sherman Lee.” He stated and shook her hand as his grey/blue eyes scanned her body with almost as much intensity as Matt’s. “C’mon in…Emily?”

She nodded. “Hi.” She answered, feeling uneasy. As her mom used to say, he was at that ‘dangerous age.’ Of course, dear ol’ mom thought any male between the ages of 15 and 100 fell into the dangerous category.

north of sunset paperback lisa maligaNorth of Sunset is available in paperback and as an eBook. See more at the North of Sunset page.