August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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Why I Write Erotic and Romantic Fiction

I originally wrote this by a request from Elizabeth over at Just Add Tea, and I wanted to add it here after reading Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s post “Why Write Erotic Fiction?” that offers a wonderful variety of voices (I reposted it yesterday).

First, a little background in how I got to the point where I’m writing erotic and romantic stories. Several years ago, I saw an online contest for erotic short stories. I was writing general fiction at the time, and I figured, Why not? It’ll be fun to try something new. I won an honorable mention, and that was soon followed by an invitation to join other authors in contributing to Ruthie’s Club, a subscription website that offered erotica — with each story accompanied with an original illustration at the beginning. I enjoyed being a part of the site, and many stories came out of that relationship.

Unfortunately, Ruthie’s Club shut down around 2010. That left all those stories no longer published — and a lot of ideas in my head for more stories.

Then I learned about this little thing called “self-publishing.” You mean I could prepare an ebook and put it up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords? I figured, Why not? It’ll be fun to try something new.

Yes, that’s a recurring theme for me. It drives part of my writing. Because stories can come in forms of fantasies that I want to see played out and see where they go. I imagine that scores of people have fantasies, and authors move those from their heads to the computer screen (or typewriter if you’re old school like that).

And sex scenes can be electric to write. Sometimes, my fingers can’t type fast enough to get the action out. Thank goodness I can type fairly well, and don’t have to hunt-and-peck — which would’ve driven me bonkers from impatience.

However, my writing is not just about the sex. (Okay, you got me: that part of storytelling is fun.) Deeply satisfying is writing about people connecting on emotional levels — not just physical. I’ve noticed that my writing in the past couple of years has come to include this. Before, I was pretty single-minded on writing about people simply enjoying pleasure. Now, though, the characters also enjoy togetherness. And that has broadened my writing to involve scenes besides sex.

In turn, that expanded my stories from only the erotica category to romance. Which is something I never saw coming. I read a mixture of stories, including general fiction, thrillers, and erotica. I don’t come from reading a vast library of romantic books. So I feel as a newbie in the field. (By the way, the romance that I’ve read which has probably stuck with me the most is The Lover by Marguerite Duras. An exquisite book.)

Relationships and emotions are complex, and I probably capture only a fraction of them in my stories. I’m fascinated by relationships and emotions, so there’s plenty for me to explore. My most recent novel is The Sweet Taste of Revenge, in which the main character divorces her cheating husband and plans to get revenge on him. That’s been an interesting challenge. I’m not a woman, nor have I been divorced. But in writing the book, I hope I was fair to the character. It was quite a ride.

Speaking of a ride, I suppose that’s the reasoning behind why I write. It’s the rush that I get when I take an idea and turn it into a story. That can be with an erotic and romantic story — or tamer stuff. I use August MacGregor as a pen name for the Rated Mature content and my real name for the rest. Writing is way too much fun to commit to only one type of story.

With my August pen name, I try to tell stories of people enjoying the sensual things in life and connecting with each other — but making mistakes along the way. I find that to be another part that brings interest to writing. Because things don’t always proceed perfectly. When a character is in love with someone, the second character may not feel the same way in return. People cheat in relationships. Not every couple has simultaneous orgasms that are mind-blowing every single time.

Which brings the hope that a story with people making mistakes is more interesting for the reader. Because I’d love for my stories to be a ride for readers, just like the stories were a ride to put together.

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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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April Update

It’s been a while! I hope you’ve been well. Many weeks have gone by since I last posted on my blog — and it was quite a change going from posting every day during January and February to taking a break.

While I’ve missed posting on my blog and reading other blogs, the break has been a good one. It’s helped me get on a better track with my day job. Which has been busy, so I was relieved to take away the deadline of posting every day that I had put on myself.

Also, the break from my blog helped fine-tune my focus back onto longer stories — instead of poetry and flash fiction. And that’s been wonderful.

Because I’ve come to realize a big difference in writing flash fiction versus longer stories. Coming up with shorter pieces (fewer than 1,000 words) is neat for seeing what kind of story you can tell in a condensed amount of time. They’re fun to write.

However, you don’t get immersed in the story. Not like you do with a novella or a novel. It hit me when I made the realization that maybe it’s the reason why my short stories don’t sell very well on Amazon and Smashwords. I thought about it from a reader’s point of view, when I pick up a novel and dive into it and find out where it takes me. I like rooting for the characters and seeing what happens to them. Seeing if they change, grow, as the story unfolds.

And that’s what I’ve been missing as a writer when I focused on shorter stories. I missed connecting with the characters and pulling for them. I missed imagining the possibilities of where the story could go. Then seeing how I think the characters would react to the expanding story.

And that’s what I got back to when I returned my attention to longer stories. I was able to immerse myself in them. Like I said, it’s been wonderful. I’ve had such a good time writing a few stories — and I even managed to finish a couple.

I’ve worked on different types of stories: more romantic and sexier ones under my August pen name, as well as more vanilla stories under my real name. It’s been interesting to see that I write slower with the vanilla stuff. Nothing like the sexy scenes (or anticipation of sexy scenes) to get the fingers flying on the keyboard. Except for the dangerous stuff — like in the thriller novel on which I worked for National Novel Writing Month last November.

I’m still planning to get back to that thriller novel. Eventually!

But I’ve been wrapping other stuff up first. The big one was completing my second novel, Tara & Steve: A Tale of Swingers. This project started off several years ago as a series of short stories about a dating couple that tries out a swinging lifestyle — and the consequences that those adventures have on their relationship.

I tied together the short stories into chapters for a novel and hit it hard with my editor’s hammer. Well, that sounds too violent. More like a pen, with removing stuff here and adding stuff there. The novel is the longest story I’ve written so far, at a little more than 135,000 words. And, damn, that sucker felt good to publish.

I also finished a story that started off as a short piece last year on my blog. It had bugged me that the story wasn’t done, since the characters yearned for more than where I left them. So I expanded the story into a novella, and that’s published, too. I’ll have a post about it next week, as I’m going give the ebook away for free on Amazon for 5 days. It’s about Beltane, the Gaelic festival to celebrate fertility and the arrival of the warm season. The event comes on May 1, so I want to make the novella free leading up to that day.

The original story ran last year in two parts, and I deleted those posts because the ebook is under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select), which means the story can’t be available electronically anywhere besides Amazon. It also means that if you have Kindle Unlimited, the story is free any time it’s within the program — well beyond the 5 days when it’s free to everybody.

So that’s an overview of what I’ve been up to since my last post. Lots of work on my day job and lots of writing. Of course, getting out and enjoying the sunshine, too 🙂

After posting next week about my Beltane novella, I’ll probably duck out again for another break. I apologize for not keeping a more regular schedule of posting. But some stories have their grip on me, and it’s really hard to stay away from them for long. I’m not sure what I’d post about if I did have a regular schedule — since I’m not going to return to writing poetry or flash fiction any time soon. I hope you understand. Writing the longer stories is like a drug that pulls me in and gives me a rush that’s amazing.


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Author Interview: Zoe Ambler

Zoe Ambler

I met Zoe Ambler back in November, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when loads of writers try to plunk down 50,000 words for a novel. I started following her blog, where she talks about her own writing — much of it done in a coffee shop, which I think is amazing, because I’d be too distracted to write. Social media is already a distraction, but if you add people watching to the mix … well, that would pull my focus away even more.

Recently, she’s been interviewing fellow authors on her blog, and she accepted my offer to be interviewed in the series. On the flip side, she also allowed to be interviewed here on my blog. I think it’s really neat learning more of another writer’s background and rituals. Writing is such a solitary activity, that it’s nice to share this stuff.

Also, stay tuned after the interview for info about Zoe’s book, The Road of Darkness, with cover, summary, and links.

Zoe’s interview:

1. What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a process, I don’t think. I mean, I am certainly more productive when NOT at home. I love working from my little coffee shop. Or when on ‘vacation’. I get random ideas at very random times, however. So I always have a little notebook on me to jot things down. I have these little notebooks EVERYWHERE…purse, truck, backpack, laptop bag…The biggest problem is finding a pen or pencil when I need it…lol. My ‘process’ doesn’t happen in order, either. I may have a random idea that would be great just nestled in a random chapter of a book, not really a beginning or ending.

2. What do you read for pleasure?
Anything and everything. Well, except romance. Erotica, yes, romance, no. I love everything from horror to non-fiction.

3. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The freedom. I have a head full of ideas on a variety of subjects, and writing lets me place them on paper, with the hopes that someone out there is going to sit back and really enjoy it.

4. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a full time coffee drinker. Hot, cold, iced…gimme coffee. I live in a little land called Enterprise Alabama. We have a statue of a lady holding a bug in town square. I love cats. LOVE CATS!!! I have a cat. She’s very neurotic. Just like her owner. ..lol. I have one child, a beautiful young woman now. When not at the coffee shop, I have a home office I live out of. On some occasions I sleep. Mostly when not feeling well. Otherwise I quite the insomniac.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes down to sitting down and writing?
When at home, I get very easily distracted by Netflix. I’m one of those people that just can’t watch an episode or two of something…I have to watch the series from start to finish…lol. And then there is my gaming. As for strengths…when I do get ‘in the zone’ on writing something, I write for hours on end, forgoing sleep and all. The ideas just pour from my head to the screen and usually doesn’t need much editing.

6. Do you have any strange writing habits?
I don’t think so. I mean, I talk things out with my cat…and answer for her. We argue sometimes. Nothing strange there. >_>

7. What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?
Marketing/advertising/promoting. HATE IT. I’m not good at it, but can’t afford someone to do it for me…lol.

8. Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
I make it. You wouldn’t really think me the type, but I do. And I love clean sheets. So I have a linen closet full of the pricey nice sheets.

9. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
The Everglades and Florida Keys.

10. Choose: Vampires, Werewolves, Demons or Zombies?
Vampires

Bonus Question: How prepared are you for the Zombie Apocalypse I’ve ordered?
I am so totally prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. Food, weapons (I have a nice, completely usable collection of swords), ‘run over anything and everything’ 4WD truck. My house is in a good spot, the only real danger being is if the zombie are ‘regular’ zombies, or ‘Mira Grant’ zombies. (Mira Grant zombies – anything over 40lbs can be turned into a zombie, meaning I would then have to contend with zombie deer and cows)

Road to Darkness, by Zoe Ambler

The Road of Darkness is the story of Addison. She’s a young Southern Belle in early 1700 Louisiana with a love for Voodoo. She’s a child of privilege, but never really let it go to her head. She was always a little odd.
On an innocent outing, Addison falls prey to a supernatural predator. A vampire. He attacks and turns her, then leaves her to lost and alone with this new hunger for blood. However, unlike most, she embraces this new ‘life’. She finds delight in it. A darkness grows within her.
Like any young vampire left to fend for themselves, she stumbles in her new existence. She meets others here and there, and the world of the paranormal opens up to her.
Due in part to her thrill of bloodlust, she becomes fascinated with war. Soon she is moving from country to country, war to war. Mans evolution and technology in the art of warfare intrigues her.
Through her time and adventures, she has fleeting bits of both happiness and sorrow. The darkness within her will only allow her so much happiness.
Her link with all things Voodoo brings her into the servitude of the Baron Semedi, demi-god of the Underworld. A deal gone bad. It only serves to deepen that darkness.

Can anyone help her before she does irrevocable damage to both an entire city of innocent people…and herself?

Links for The Road of Darkness: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Scribd. | Googleplay


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“101 Degrees Fahrenheit”: A Review

101 Degrees Fahrenheit, by Eva Gale

101 Degrees Fahrenheit
By Eva Gale
Free at Smashwords

This ebook is only for readers 18 years and older.

101 Degrees Fahrenheit has 55 reviews and rated an average of 4.06 out of 5 (as of today), and this info made me really want to read it to see what the praise was about.

In many cases, books by us indie authors don’t have any reviews. And when there are reviews, only a handful are there. It’s something we very much appreciate.

Okay, my plug for reviews is over. Helpful to this book is probably that it’s free to read, so you don’t have to risk any cash if you’ve never read Eva Gale before. And it was published several years ago (2009). I have no idea if the book has been free the entire time, though.

The book is well worth those many reviews. It’s hot, and not just because of the title. Yes, it takes place during a steamy summer day when the air conditioner breaks at the barber shop where the female character works. Kathy Roberts works at the barber shop called Great Headz, which I’m sure would attract a great deal of customers should it actually exist. It’s a lot catchier than Hair Cuttery.

Kathy has one last customer for a haircut, and things get steamier on this hot summer day. Because the last customer is a sexy hunk of a guy, a mechanic clad in jeans (which I’m sure makes the day even hotter for him).

Turns out that the last customer is Kathy’s husband, Dean. I’m not letting out a big spoiler here, because this news comes out soon into the story.

This discovery allows for a deeper story. Because this married couple has had problems, and Dean is working hard to keep his marriage.

And he works really hard at it, given what he does in the story.

The mentions of the deeper story gave the book more depth than two characters meeting in a single scene and just getting it on — which is a lot of erotica, and that can be entertaining. But having some back story to Kathy and Dean offers more substance, and I enjoyed that. Hell, there could’ve been more back story, and I wouldn’t have complained.

The book’s description:

On the hottest day of the summer Kathy Robert’s airconditoner breaks at her barber shop, Great Headz, and she still has one more customer. It’s hot and sticky, but he’s not going anywhere.

And he wants more than a trim.


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“Beach Heat”: A Review

Beach Heat by Tamsin Flowers

Beach Heat
By Tamsin Flowers
Free at Smashwords

This ebook is only for readers 18 years and older.

Let’s heat it up in winter! For three days, I’m going to highlight erotica at the beach, or simply on a hot summer day. Today and tomorrow, I’m reviewing erotica by other authors — and then on the third day, I’ll post about one of my ebooks.

We’ll start it off with Beach Heat by Tamsin Flowers, a hot free story that takes place right on the beach.

You say you want a babe in a red bikini? She’s on the beach and needing a hand with suntan lotion in those hard-to-reach places. You say you also want a muscular hunk in some board shorts? He’s on the beach and ready to help a damsel in distress with some strong hands.

Scott is good with his hands as he rubs lotion onto Nina’s back, relaxing her along with the hot sun beating down on them. But that’s not all he’s good with. He’s talented with his mouth and hips, too. Those talents get pulled out after he leads Nina away from the pesky crowd far off into the privacy of dunes.

Before they get to those dunes, they grab some beer in a cooler from his car, and the beer helps cool them down on this hot beach day. But it doesn’t only cool their mouths, as the beer is put to a couple of sexy uses.

The sun’s not the only hot thing around here, dear reader.

If you’re low on logs for the fire, give this a read and the story will heat up your January day.

The book’s description:

When Nina decides to enjoy a day out at the beach it calls to mind an old memory. Visiting the beach as a teenager, she felt left out when her friend disappeared into the sand dunes with a boy. So this time she’s determined she’s not going to miss out on any fun. When hunky surfer Scott offers to rub suntan lotion into her back, Nina gets the feeling that he’s got the same thing on his mind… And this time, Nina gets her chance to find out what goes on up in the sand dunes.


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Views on Self Publishing and the Book/E-book Market (in 2014 and 2013)

I’m not going to pretend to offer an exhaustive explanation of the indie-publishing market. Instead, I’m listing several resources I found that offer various snapshots of self publishing and the e-book market. I found these to be illuminating in learning a bit more about the landscape, and I give a short overview of each resource. This might be covering too much ground in a single blog post, but I’m giving this a shot.

To get the full story of each resource, you should click on the links to read the resources themselves.

If you want to add any other info in the comments, I welcome that, too. I’m new to self publishing and certainly no pro at it, so I’d enjoy hearing anything about it that you’ve learned.

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“Business Musings: Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014”
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

First, my thanks to James Calbraith for mentioning this post on his blog, as that’s where I discovered it.

I highly recommend reading Kris Rusch’s post if you’re interested in self publishing. Because she doesn’t just describe the current indie-publishing market, she gives an open talk about indie publishing. This is an author who’s published on many platforms sitting you down for straight-forward, blunt advice. The first four sections are an example of this: Writing Is Hard, Publishing Is Hard, Achieving Real Success Is Hard, and Making a Living Is Hard. No, she doesn’t sugar-coat it.

Instead, she offers information to help you get a sense of how the publishing world looks now. The “gold rush” of e-book publishing from 2009 to 2010 is kaput. Also over is the effectiveness of having free books or 99-cent books available in the hope of loads of new readers would become fans. She even calls 2014 The Year of the Quitter, and she lists twelve reasons writers quit trying to make a living through publishing.

Reading these reasons sparked wonderings if one or more of them would ever happen to me. Would they? I really don’t know. I haven’t been slogging away, trying to make it as a full-time author for a very long time. I’ve been writing for years, but only have self-published my work as e-books for a little more than a year. Yes, I’ve been discouraged (one of the reasons for quitting). And I’m sure I will be in the future. But I’m still pushing ahead to try to make my goal.

This post is not doom and gloom. I thought it was helpful, as it dispels the thought that indie publishing is an easy way to get rich quick. Because even though writing and making sales are hard, people are making a living from indie publishing. People whose books don’t become enormous bestsellers. People who have hit the “indie mid-list” to sell enough books to quit their day jobs. And that, to me, is a good goal on which to focus.

*****

Ebook Sales Were Flat from 2012 to 2013

Article in Digital Book World, published June 26, 2014.

According to a BookStats report, e-book revenues stayed flat from 2012 to 2013, at $3 billion per year. 2012 marked a nearly 43%-increase in revenues from 2011, when e-book sales were $2.1 billion.

Looking at the industry as a whole: “Trade publishing revenues overall in the U.S. were also basically flat in 2013 at $14.6 billion, down slightly from nearly $15 billion in 2012” (quote from Digital Book World). By my math, this means e-book sales represented 20.5% of the trade publishing revenues.

What about 2014? Let’s see…

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E-books Haven’t Taken Over the Publishing World Yet

Turns out that the death-knell of print books was premature. In an article on Publishers Weekly (September 26, 2014), Jim Milliot reported that paperbacks led unit sales during the first half of 2014 in the United States at 42%, followed by hardcovers at 25%, with e-books bringing up the rear at 23%. These statistics were provided by Nielsen Books & Consumer.

If you compare fiction to non-fiction, it gets more interesting: e-books had 30% of unit sales for adult and young adult fiction during the first half of 2014. For the same time period, this share drops in non-fiction, with e-books comprising 22% of unit sales in adult nonfiction and 13% of children’s non-fiction (excluding young adult).

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Bowker Report: Self-Published ISBNs Increased 17% in 2013 in the U.S.

A thank you to Digital Book World, where I discovered the reporting of this report mentioned in an article posted on October 8, 2014.

Bowker came out with the report Self-Publishing in the United States 2008-2013: Print vs. Ebook last year, and it tracked the number of books with ISBNs that were registered between 2008 and 2013. Not every self-published author obtains an ISBN for their book (I don’t), but this report shows an interesting trend for those who do.

Because out of the 17% increase in ISBN registrations during 2013 compared with 2012, the growth was mostly due to print titles (29%) rather than e-book titles (a decrease of 1.6%).

Again, the printed book is not dead. The 29% increase in print titles is from indie authors who want to get their books out to indie bookstores, and not just publish e-books. Like saying Kindle Unlimited isn’t the end-all-be-all of publishing. I respect that a great deal. After all, the more outlets that carry your book, the higher the likelihood that a reader will find you, right?

In the press release of the report, Bowker offers this take-away from its findings: “Our general conclusion is that self-publishing is beginning to mature. While it continues to be a force to reckon with, it is evolving from a frantic, wild-west style space to a more serious business,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “The market is stabilizing as the trend of self-publisher as business-owner, rather than writer only, continues.”

Info taken from this source and coupled with info BookStats (mentioned above) about trade publishing revenues staying flat from 2012 to 2013, it would seem that authors are publishing more books, and we’re competing for a pie that’s about the same size.

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July 2014 Author Earnings Report

The July 2014 Author Earnings Report is one of a series of such reports from Hugh Howley (of self-publishing fame for Wool) and gang. These guys look at data for e-books on Amazon.com’s bestseller lists in loads of categories.

There are several reports on data in 2014, and these go into several different measurements. I’ll highlight some items from the July 2014 report here, but head on over to Author Earnings to really get the detail.

First, a couple of top take-aways from the July 2014 report:

  • “… self-published authors now account for 31% of total daily ebook sales regardless of genre.” This looks at the number of books sold.
  • “Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store.” This looks at the actual money earned, since self-published books tend to be priced lower than those published by big publishing companies.

Now let’s get into genre, because I found this graph extremely interesting:

So self-published authors are trouncing everyone else in two categories: romance and science fiction & fantasy. The “Big 5” publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) have a strong hold in three categories: mystery, thriller & suspense; childrens; and literary fiction. Nonfiction strikes a fairly even split among indies, Big 5, and small/medium publishers.

It would be interesting to see how this genre break-down changed from before this chart, and then after it. However, I didn’t find a corresponding chart in the other reports on this website.

Another note in the report pertains directly to me as an erotica author: “The data also disproves the oft-cited claim that ‘smut’ makes up a significant portion of Indie revenue. Erotica titles represent only 1.2% of gross Kindle sales. Both Religious & Inspirational Fiction and Horror sell better than Erotica.”

So erotica doesn’t have the greatest earning potential out there. I’ve experimented with other genres, including horror and romance, and I’ll keep doing this. It’s nice to stretch my creativity, and not just focus on sex in relationships — but on other parts of relationships. I’m posting a flash-fiction story a day in January to do this, and I’m working on longer stories to stretch more.

*****

Whew! You made it to the end! Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you found this post helpful.

Also, please feel free to add any thoughts you have on self publishing in the comments. As I mentioned, I’m a newbie who’s trying to get a sense of the landscape out there.