August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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May Plans

Once again, several months have passed since I last posted here. As before my previous post, I’ve been quite busy with writing, working, and family. But everyone I know is quite busy, so I’m certainly not alone with that.

One of the projects that’s been keeping me busy is River — the working title of a novel I finished writing last year, and I’ve been editing it this year. I’m pleased to say that I plan on self-publishing the novel in May. The editing process  seemed to take longer than it did, but I’ve grown to I appreciate the process of re-shaping of the story. Compared to the first draft, it’s more stream-lined and tighter. Hopefuly, making it a more enjoyable read.

I’ll give more info when the book becomes live on Amazon, as I’m still working on making it a little tighter. But it feels good to be almost finished. With the warmer temperatures of spring, it’s like the book is coming out of hibernation.

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Revenge: First Draft Finished

I’m very happy to say that the first draft of Revenge is done!

Even happier because I’m pleased with the shape of the draft. There have been drafts for other stories that I felt needed a ton more work. But this one doesn’t give me that feeling. I’m putting it to the side for a few weeks, then coming back to it for editing.

Does any writer enjoy editing? Maybe there are some out there. For me, it’s a process that pales in comparison with writing — the action of creating is much more thrilling than reading my work with a critical eye, constantly asking “Does it work?”

My favorite part of editing is when it’s finished. Because I’m glad for having done it, and finding those mistakes when something isn’t described well and needs cleaning. When a wrong word is used — a word that’s spelled correctly, so the spell-checker won’t pick it up. All those kinds of errors can sneak in. It feels good to clean those suckers up.

While Revenge is waiting on the side, I’m returning to a story I started last summer and ran into a road block. These certainly come up in different stories. Sometimes, I’m able to keep writing and get through it. But other times, frustration continues. I’ve found the best thing is to leave the story alone and come back to it.

In this case, I started a romantic story about a billionaire and hit a road block — then worked on Revenge (which began life several years ago as a short story and grew to the length of a novel last year). Now I’m returning to the billionaire story and seeing if the road block is still there. Fingers crossed that the writing will come more smoothly.

And it’s funny timing, given the Powerball jackpot is at $1.5 billion. Yeah, with a ‘b.’ Crazy! Of course, after taxes, the winnings would no longer be more than a billion. But after receiving tons of millions from a lottery ticket, would the winner really care?


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End of 2015 Wrap-Up

With 2015 nearly ended, I want to write an update of what I’ve been up to. I haven’t been good about posting on my blog — since I haven’t posted since mid-August.

I’ve been deep in writing my novel when I carve out time after my day job. The book (Revenge is the working title) has been shaping up very nicely. It’s easily the longest novel I’ve written (it’s more than 175,000 words). The end is in sight for the first draft, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it. Then, once the draft is done, I’ll put it to the side for a few weeks before coming back to it and editing.

The editing stage has taken me a while for other stories, and I think this one will be no different. After all, it’s long — and it has the most involved plot of any of my other books. My next-longest book, Tara & Steve, is much more straight-forward by comparison. (That novel grew out of a series of short stories.)

So please don’t think I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. I’ve fallen into my day job and a writing project that I have adored. It’s felt incredibly good to get this far into the novel, and I’m happy with how it has progressed.

My focus on the book has caused my blog posting to suffer for the past many months. I’d like to swing by here more often in 2016, and do some writing on a much smaller scale. Not a post a day like I did in January & February 2015, but at least something more frequent than allowing four months to pass between posts.

Thanks for keeping up with my blog. I hope you had beautiful holidays, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.


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Amazon’s New Payments Per KU Pages Read

Last week, Blondewritemore’s post That magical moment when you decide NOT to quit writing was a great description of those times when a writer — and other artists, I would imagine — has a build-up of doubts that lead to wonderings whether he or she should continue writing. And when you decide not to quit, that moment is indeed magical — as you rediscover the magic that made you fall into love with writing in the first place.

It happens to me lots of times. I wrote about self-doubt back in November, after I ran across a quote from Neil Gaiman in which he describes doubts rising as he was working on a novel. He called his agent to share these doubts, and she illuminated him with the fact that he had called her with doubts after every novel — as all her other clients did.

That quote helps me in times when doubts start creeping into my writer’s house, like an invasion of little robbers. The quote is one of those helpful things to get me back on my feet. Or, rather, back on my butt — and my fingers back to tapping on my laptop’s keys.

Amazon recently changed the way it pays authors who have books in their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. KU is a subscription service where customers pay a monthly fee ($10, I believe), and they can dive into an orgy of reading, to inhale as many KU books as they like. Authors who include their books in the KU program give their solemn oath that the books are not available in electronic form anywhere else.

Yes, this is a monopoly on ebooks for Amazon. You’ll find advice out there giving benefits and drawbacks of including your book in KU. The piece of advice I found valuable was that having a book in KU is good for beginning authors, since a customer doesn’t have to risk money on an author they’re not familiar with, since the monthly fee covers all the KU books the customer wants to try.

I have several books in KU, and I’ve found that it has led to more books being read. The KU borrows have added to sales. And that’s good stuff to an author who hopes to eventually make writing a career.

So back to Amazon’s change in its payments for KU books … Used to be that authors were paid a portion of the monthly KU fund based on how many of your KU books were borrowed.

As of July 1, authors are now paid by pages read. The proper, initial-capped term is Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read.

At first, I didn’t know what to make of this. But now, I like it. Because of the chart showing me, each day, how many pages of my KU books have been read. And that’s sweet stuff. Previously, I never knew if a KU book was being read. Just because a customer borrowed a book didn’t mean they actually read it. Now the data tell me that, yes, pages are being read. And how many.

It’s a boost to an author’s confidence to see the chart and say, Hey, 5,000 pages of my books were read yesterday! Sure, the numbers go up and down daily. But they provide feedback of being read. Similar to receiving comments on a blog post and reviews on a book.

I don’t know how the payment change will turn out financially for authors. If an author has mostly short stories on KU, I can see the change lowering their payments. For me, though, it wasn’t as if a hundred of my books were being borrowed every day — so the financial change won’t be significant. However, the change in feedback certainly is.


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Surprises and Surprises

I’m floating on cloud nine right now because my novel is on Amazon’s bestsellers of erotica for Kindle ebooks! This past week, Tara & Steve: A Tale of Swingers entered the top 100 list at #100, and it has fluctuated around the list. This morning, it reached #84! (The list is updated hourly, so the position will definitely keep changing.)

How the hell did this happen?

I haven’t written a blog post showcasing the book, and I’ve tweeted about it a couple of times. This was far from the strategy I’ve read that authors should do, in carpeting all available social media sites to get the word out about your book.

Because once the book was published on Amazon, I felt elated about finishing it — and then I went to work on another story. That’s been my mindset of late: not blogging and promoting as much on Twitter, but focusing more on crafting stories.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that something clicked with this book. It has easily out-sold my other two novels — Bavarian Beauty and An Eager Audience: A Cuckold Erotic Romance — as well as my various novellas and short stories.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been surprised to see my book among the list of bestsellers. To put it frankly, it’s a place I didn’t imagine being. I simply hoped people would buy my books and enjoy them. Enough to someday bring in an income where I could write full time.

Here’s the cover of the book:

Tara & Steve ebook cover

Another surprise is that my book isn’t selling thousands of copies a day to get on the bestseller list. The number is actually fewer than 60 a day — when you add in the Kindle Unlimited downloads to the actual sales.

I’m thrilled to sell that many. I certainly haven’t expected to sell thousands of books a day. That atmosphere belongs to E.L. James, whose Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy looks to be firmly in the top three slots of Amazon’s erotica bestseller list.

I have to mention one other surprise here, because I’ve been scratching my head about it for a while. Every day, the most popular post on my blog is How to Talk Dirty (and Romantic) in German. It’s caused me to ask the same question: How the hell did this happen? The post is from the two weeks of Octoberfest 2014, when I blogged every day about some of the landscape, music, food, and history of Bavaria — all to promote Bavarian Beauty. Out of those posts (and all my other posts), the one on talking dirty in German stands at the top of the heap.

Maybe the post’s popularity is due to a link at streettalksavvy.com, where I got a few of the phrases. Maybe, maybe not. But while I can’t figure out the reason, I have to hope that people out there are using the list to do some sexy talking in German 🙂

Until next time, meinen Lieblings!


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Pew Research on Reading

Last week, I published a couple of posts of views on the book publishing market. In my research, I came across really interesting findings from the PewResearch Internet Project: “A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013.”

This was different than the other sources of research I wrote about because Pew interviewed people about their reading habits. So this is the viewpoint of readers, rather than publishers (indies or companies) and platforms that sell books.

Pew’s article states that readers have adopted e-books but haven’t given up print books: “Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.”

Only 5% went with just an e-book! So it looks like people either read print only — or they went with a hybrid approach: “35% of print book readers also read an e-book.”

Some demographics: Women are more likely to have read a printed book or an e-book. Younger people are more likely to have read an e-book — fitting into the idea that younger people are quicker to adopt new technologies. 47% of adults under 30 read an e-book in 2013. But other age groups are proving that they’re growing more comfortable with e-books. In the age group of 50-64, the percentage who read an e-book in the previous year jumped from 19% in December 2011 to 35% in January 2014.

Let’s take a step back to look at just plain readers. Of the people interviewed for the study: “Almost seven in ten adults (69%) read a book in print in the past 12 months, while 28% read an e-book, and 14% listened to an audiobook.” So the percentage who read a print book is more than double that of people who read an e-book.

It would seem that printed books aren’t going away anytime soon. At the same time, e-books are also here to stay.


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Mark Coker’s Crystal Ball for Indie Authors in 2015 and 2020

First off, let me say that I’m a big fan of Mark Coker for his enthusiasm in helping us independent writers self publish our books.

Mark learned first-hand the difficulties in getting a book traditionally published. He and his wife, Lesleyann, wrote the novel Boob Tube about the soap opera industry, and their agent was unable to find a publisher for it. That led Mark to form Smashwords (in 2008) to help authors publish their books with the hope of connecting with readers. In addition to the publishing platform, Mark wrote The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, which is offered for free as a helpful aid in publishing more professionally.

He also writes for the Smashwords blog, and that’s where I found…

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“Mark Coker’s Publishing Predictions for 2015”

Mark gives us a list of 15 predictions for this year in publishing, and I found this to be a very educational read. Covered here are such topics as: this year will be slow growth for many authors — and not just indies, the effectiveness of free books in gaining readers is lessening, Kindle Unlimited is paying authors less in royalties, more authors will aspire to self publish, and many indie authors will quit publishing (or decrease their production).

As I mentioned yesterday, Kristine Kathryn Rusch discussed many of these points in her post (also fantastic) “Business Musings: Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014.”

Both articles describe an e-book publishing environment that is not exploding in success as it was several years ago, and how the field is a difficult one to break into.

However, both articles also are optimistic about the opportunities that remain for indie authors. Mark lists best practices for authors as the last item in his list. None of them strike me as easy to get rich quick. These are to write a good book and craft it professionally (in cover and editing/proofing) — and be business savvy in releasing it.

This is an article I think is well worth reading.

Now, let’s turn to Mark taking the longer view in…

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“10 Reasons Self Published Authors Will Capture 50 Percent of the Ebook Market by 2020”

(This is on Huffington Post’s website, and it was published further back, on March 7, 2014.)

In the title of this article, Mark makes a pretty bold prediction, and he’s basing it off the trends that he’s seeing.

First, where have we been in this split of indie/traditional e-book publishing? The chart in the article presents a trend-line of “Percentage of US ebook market going to indie authors,” which starts at zero in 2008 and rises to 15% in 2013 (Mark’s estimate). The line stretches in a steady path from there, up to 50% in 2020. That assumes there won’t be any spikes or drops, and the line will continue.

The ten reasons Mark gives behind the continued trend are really interesting, and I encourage indie authors to check out the article and give them a read.

I’m not going to list them here, but I’ll touch upon a few of them.

The first reason is “Print will decline as a book-reading format.” As I wrote in a post yesterday, this hasn’t quite happened yet, as print books out-sold e-books in the first half of 2014: paperbacks sold 42% of unit sales, hardcover with 25%, and e-books with 23%. I haven’t found where corresponding percentages are shown for before or after the first half of 2014, so I can’t remark on how that time period fits in a trend.

Mark Coker also discusses the trends of authors and readers becoming more comfortable with e-books, and that will lead to more authors publishing more e-books.

On top of that, indie authors have become more professional, and they’re offering high-quality products:

The innovation taking place today among indie authors is amazing. This innovation and professionalism will continue in the future as indies pioneer and promulgate tomorrow’s best practices. These authors are publishing books that are quality-competitive with traditionally published books, but priced dramatically lower. As a result, these authors have the ability to under-price, outsell and out-compete the ebooks from traditional publishers. It means indie authors will have the ability to serve and please readers more effectively than traditional publishers.

Mark says that, not only can indie authors under-price traditional publishers, but indies can out-earn their traditionally published books: “Indie ebook authors earn royalty rates four to five times higher than they’d earn from traditional publishers.” Self publishing wins on both bottom lines. To me, that’s a strong advantage.

I’m not so sure about decline of printed books anytime soon, but I think Mark has interesting things to say on trends of e-books being embraced more — and about the benefits that self publishers have over the traditional publishers.