“Road To Reviews,” Iggy Loo, Day 10

iggy-3Who would of thought you could spend an entire day at a shopping mall? Well you can if it has a theme park! Yes! It’s one of the largest malls in the United States. Roller coasters inside the mall! It’s the largest Nickelodeon Theme Park with 28 rides including a Ferris wheel. I explored SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium Moose and Mountain Adventure Golf. So much to do in one spot.

Then I visited with my friend Meredith to share her review on my book Iggy Loo. Stop here to read, http://www.mommyinleggings.com.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Clear Fork Publishing. Ask for it at your local book store and library.
Hard Cover $16.99
Soft Cover $10.99

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“Road To Reviews,” Iggy Loo, Day 2

pg-34A good 4 hours to get from NY to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I got to see our symbol for Independence, the Liberty Bell. Did you know the bell cracked on its first test ring! I went to the Please Touch Museum and it was amazing. I flipped everything! You can get messy. There’s fun science experiments. They have a gallery of things they collected like old toys and games. I stopped at the Philadelphia Zoo. Did you know it was the first true zoo in the United States?

Before I leave the state of Independence we get to meet out next reviewer from Emneris from Phildelphia, www.thephillymomdiaries.blogspot.com@phillymomdiary. She’s going to share her thoughts on my new holiday book, Iggy Loo.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Clear Fork Publishing. Ask for it at your local book store and library.
Hard Cover $16.99
Soft Cover $10.99

Would You Invite A Magician

My career as an author kicked off January 2016 when my first book, Step One, Step Two Step Three and Four was born.

I found myself hungry. To do anything to get my name out there. For children to hold one of my books. I applied for everything. I booked myself for my first gig at the Louisiana Book Festival. I thought a hundred dollars for a table was cheap. I’ll make it back, easy. I traveled alone for two and a half hours. I was in a great mood and could feel my box of books being emptied in a few hours.

When I got there the school seemed a bit small but no biggie. The area was active with people. I was set up across from a woman who could sell a stinky sock. She was good. Too good. Reeling them in like a fish. She had crowns and dolls and gift bags. The gal to the left of me was from the area. She had a handful of books. I sat there with my one soft cover. So in four hours I sold three. I was devastated. The gal to the left saw the look on my face. She said, “Don’t let this get you down.” How could I not? I drove 2.5 hours one way. Not to mention my time.

Did I learn my lesson? No. I wanted more. I split a booth with some writers for the TLA conference. I didn’t think it was bad since it was a double split. I could make it up. I sold enough to pay for my booth. It didn’t cover parking, lunch, tolls and gas. I made connections but didn’t get school visits out of it. I did find my publisher through it though!

I signed with a publisher for My Big Tree. Now I had two books to sell. I went to events where I was lucky I was covering my gas. Some instances I made 2.00 and hour. My 19 yo daughter was making more than me waiting tables. Did I learn my lesson? Nope not yet.

I had a gig that offered free booth space. Did I say free? That was my ticket. I’ll score big. Thirty minutes into my three hour drive I thought, what am I doing.  Next exit I was turning back. Then I realized I was speaking at this event. No, not paid. They got me for free. I arrived. The scenery was beautiful in the hill country. I set up my two books. Texas Authors set up their display across from me. It looked like they opened up a book store. I thought this wouldn’t be so bad. It would draw customers in. People listened to my plug on my books. I sold 15. It would’ve been a good day if I was in my territory not three hours away from home. I cursed myself on the drive home. What was I thinking?

I’m working weekends now which I said I’d never do. My family says i’m never home. Something had to change. I felt I was doing this all wrong. Then I started thinking. My time is valuable. It’s worth something. I decided I had to be VERY selective on my choices where and when I promoted my books.

I recently gave up a gig I enjoyed but it killed two hours of my day, without pay and some days without a sale. It didn’t make good business sense. The business had me for free and I had to work to sell a book which wasn’t happening often. Also, a friend of a friend asked me to entertain children with my books. I could’ve done the gig with the chance I’d sell a book. A Saturday night, away from my family and the possibility of selling my books. I had follow through with change.  I gave my fees for my time. She was surprised I’d be asking for a fee. I wanted to write back, “Would you invite a magician to a party and not pay them for their time?”

School Visits

Weeks before I was sweating bullets about the all day visit to an elementary school in Houston area. I felt like I do when I know I’m going to the dentist. It’s not so much being in front of the kids or reading my books. Someone was now paying me to speak. To talk about a subject that would entertain each grade level for an hour. Could I do it? Could I do it for an hour? What if I sucked? Teachers talk. Schools talk? I’m doomed. pencil-04

I got up and I still had a lot of worry. What if the kids started yawning in my face? What if they announced they’re bored? Eek! I got some caffeine in my system and a muffin for endurance. I got to the school and was welcomed by the staff. The librarian positioned me in the music room. My schedule was back to back classes from K-5th grade. The teacher said, “No bathroom breaks. It is literally back to back classes. Go now.” All of a sudden I have bladder issues.

Once the fifth graders came in, three classes worth, my nerves disappeared. I felt like I was back home. Back to my teaching days. One class after the other. Boom, boom, boom. I had so much material I had to run through some of my items. bookworm

While the thought of a looming check was coming my way it wasn’t what drove me through my day six hours. I LOVED being in front of the kids. I loved inspiring them. I loved the look in their eyes. If I inspired one of them I did my job. Before I left the teacher said, “This was awesome.” I scratched doomed off my credentials.

Toenails For Sale

Someone congratulated my husband recently on my successes as a writer. He said, “You can quit your job and go fishing all day now.” My husband laughed it off and thought, If he only knew. And my book ledger proves his thought. My husband shakes his head at my career choice. Last night he said, “You’d make more money selling your toe nails on the street corner.” I laughed. I probably could. I could make a caboodle amount of money with the amount of hours I put in to a real paying job. I think about the countless hours I spend on my laptop. But I’m not a unique writer. All writers go beyond the Monday through Friday 9-5 work week.  We spend many hours behind our desk. Typing on the couch. Writing on the train. Taking our laptop on vacations. Using our weekends for book signings and book festivals. Somedays I feel like one of thse kiosk people with the cart at the mall you try to run away from. “No, thank, I’m good,” I tell them.

Mack Collier  states, “The amount of your advance will not come close to covering the amount of time it will take you to write the book.”  Let’s assume that you spend just 10 hours a week on writing your book, and that it takes you a total of 8 months to finish it.  That’s 320 hours you have invested in writing this book.  Assuming you get a $5,000 advance, that means your hourly rate for writing the book was $15.63.  This doesn’t count for the time we put into marketing and promotion.

Then why do we write?

Authors create books for many reasons. Here in the chart you can see a writer’s greatest reason is to entertain. The least reason is for fame. why-writers-write2Where on the chart does it say to become rich? Well, I’m going to let you know if you’re not a big named author chances are slim. Authors are usually supplementing their income with school visits, speaking engagements and whatever other creative ways to make a buck. Yet, one would think, you’re an author, you’re banking. Truth be told. You are broker than broke. When they say, “Don’t give up your day job,” they mean it.

You make a decision at some point in your writing career which route you plan to take. First to agent or not to agent. That’s a choice. Do you need to have an agent to be published? No. Why did I? I threw my fishing line into the pond and caught the fish. I had an agent for two years. While I enjoyed sitting back and waiting on a yes or no from editors. I waited. And waited. And waited. Two years of no control. Not knowing what was happening day to day. While I found having an agent very prestigious, the waiting game for me gave me ants in the pants. Don’t get me wrong. I loved saying I had an agent.I loved my agent. It made me feel someone other than myself believed in my work. But I hated the wait. Did I say hated? Also, you need to come to terms when you land a book deal your agent gets 15% right off the top.

If you are accepted by a publisher you feel you’ve hit the jackpot. Big house, advance. Small house, likely no advance. But you have a contract.When we are accepted by a publishing house we’re offered an advance between 1,000-10,000. The advance will vary. Don’t be fooled though. The advance must be paid back through book sales. Yes, an author doesn’t get a dime (royalties) until you’ve acquired sales to pay back or earn your entire advance. Meaning your advance is 1,000 you must acquire 1,000 dollar in book sales. Now stick with me here. When a book sells in the store for $16.00 the author doesn’t get the entire $16.00 toward their advance. They get a very small percentage. After the advance is paid either as a percentage of the price of the book or as a percentage of publishers net receipts which vary from publisher to publisher then you earn a royalty. There are numerous different types of royalties that may be paid at different rates. So for example, if an novel book is listed at $25.00, that means that if your contract says you get 10% royalties off list, then you will get $2.50 per book.  If you are getting 10% of net profits, common practice with a small press, then you’d get around $1.25 per book.  Let’s say you get a $3,000 advance for your book and you get 10% royalties net profit, and the book’s list price is $16.00. That means you are making $1.25 per book, and that you will need to sell 4,000 copies of your book just to break even.  It can take a lifetime of the book to sell that many books. The average US non-fiction book sells about 250 copies a year and around 3,000 copies over its lifetime. Some will never earn a royalty because their book has not earned out. Then we haven’t even talked about those bins where the book has been discounted to half-price. Eek! So if you’re making $1.25 or $2.50 off a book think about how many books it would take to pay back a 3,000 advance. If you built a good following than you might get it paid off a lot quicker.

Now the picture book market is crazy competitive. Are we making a Jimmy Fallon salary? Nada. Wait did he even write that twenty word book? A picture book author makes 3-6% off retail with big name publishers. If the book sells for $16.00 you will get the 3-6% off the selling price. With a small press it’s usually the average offer is 10-15% off net profit. So it’s not off of the $16.00. It’s the profit after the expenses are paid and its what’s left. Have you figured out the numbers yet? So if you the reader goes into the store and pick up a picture book for $16.00. That author is making somewhere between .16-.85 cents. Maybe slightly more. Yes, the author is making that much off your purchase. Someone’s making the money. It’s just not the author. Sad but true. This might help.

royalties-table

Image result for bug eyed monkey picGeez, then why are we in this career? Why do we write? Why do we put so much time in doing this? Like the pie chart you looked at earlier. To educate. To express. To help. Do we want to get rich off this gig? Heck yes. Is it possible? Double heck. But is it realistic to believe it’ll happen? We can only hope.

My husband is supportive and proud of my writing successes but some days I really think he rather me sells my toenails.

*Disclaimer: I’m dissecting my own experiences and research. I have tried to get the facts correct. I’d love to hear some feedback.

Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Tracy Barrett

Barretttracyrt-330Tracy has always had a love for books at a young age. Her favorites inlcude Charlotte’s Web; The Phantom Tollbooth; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Return of the Twelves; The Jungle Book; The Princess and the Goblin; Five Children and It; Mrs. Mike; Pippi Longstocking; Hitty, Her First Hundred Years; The Secret Garden; the first half of The Once and Future King; Emily of New Moon, poems by William Blake, Ogden Nash, and especially Don Marquis.
Tracy writes mostly historical fiction for young readers and mostly tweens. She received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers led to the writing of her award-winning young-adult novel, Anna of Byzantium. Her most recent publications are Dark of the Moon, a young-adult retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, The Dark of the Moon, and the popular middle-grade series The Sherlock Files. In 2014 Harlequin Teen will publish her 20th book for young readers, the Stepsister’s Tale, a retelling of Cinderella from the point of view of Jane Halsey, the older stepsister. I’m adding this one to my reading list, sounds amazing.stepsister_cover_2-210

From 1999 to 2009 Tracy Barrett was the Regional Advisor for the Midsouth (Tennessee and Kentucky) with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is now SCBWI’s Regional Advisor Coordinator for the United States.

Tracy has taught courses on writing for children and on children’s literature at various institutions and frequently makes presentations to groups of students, librarians, teachers, and others.

She taught Italian, Women’s Studies, English, and Humanities in Nashville, Tennessee for 28 years and resigned in 2012 to devote herself to writing full time.

You can find her and her work at http://www.tracybarrett.com. And now for our “tiny” interview with Tracy.

ME: How do you want to be remembered?

TRACY: As someone who did her best and always kept learning.

ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve . . .

TRACY: Hitting “the zone” for a long stretch with my writing, then a long walk with the dog, then a nice dinner that someone else cooked.

ME: If you can spend a day with one of your book characters who would it be, and why?

TRACY: Hmm, they’re all so different it’s hard to narrow it down. I guess Jane of THE STEPSISTER’S TALE. She’s smart and enterprising, and speaks her mind.

ME: Tell us five words that describes you as a writer.

TRACY: perfectionist, curious, impatient, experimental, geeky

ME: Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

TRACY: Absolute pantser. The times I’ve tried to be a plotter have been miserable; it felt like I was doing homework. I like the freedom to have the story develop in unexpected ways. For example, in THE CASE THAT TIME FORGOT (Book 3 of my middle-grade series, The Sherlock Files) I was right near the end when I realized that the guy I had thought committed the crime wasn’t actually the criminal. I think readers are surprised to see who actually did it, because I was surprised myself!

It was my pleasure to interview you, Tracy. May you have many more successes.

Tiny Talk Tuesday With . . . Maureen Sky

blingMaureen is a wife, mother, and grandmother first. She lives in a small, quaint New England town that she shares with her husband, Eddie, and their tiger cat, Grueby.  They are antique collectors and just love a good auction and/or flea market.  Eddie introduced her to vintage jewelry, specifically, Bakelite jewelry, for which she used her knowledge of the Bakelite jewelry to write her first children’s book. She took some of the names of the Bakelite plastic bangle bracelets to use as some of the names of the characters in her book (i.e., Applejuice, Butterscotch, Pearl, etc.).

Maureen worked for more than 20 years in the public sector as a secretary in the main office of a local high school in my area.  She enjoys being creative, sewing, painting, crafting and always enjoyed journaling, as well.  Just recently, she decided to try her luck with writing and wrote a poem for an amateur poetry contest.  It encouraged her to continue on with her writing and prompted her to write, “The Bling Fairies of Junkett Falls.”  The book is about little fairies that live out of our jewelry boxes.  “Have you ever gone to your jewelry box to grab a piece of jewelry, only to find it is in a big tangled mess of gems and jewels, when you know full well, that when you left it last, it was nice and neat and organized? You say, how does this happen?”  Blame it on the Bling Fairies!

The book has opened some new doors for Maureen.  She attended a Pitch Festival held in LA last September 2014, where she pitched the book and its story to the Hollywood Film Industry held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  It is available via Xlibris online bookstore, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and Ebooks.  One can also contact me at: skybookstuff88@gmail.com.   She’s also a member of SCBWI and on various book related websites.

And now for the “tiny” interview.

ME: What is your favorite word in the English language and why?

MAUREEN: My favorite word in the English language is the word “Try”, because it represents much about us and how our life story evolves, if we just “Try.”

ME: A very strong word full of meaning.

ME: If you were stuck on a deserted island forever, and you could bring one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

MAUREEN: I would have to say that I would want the book to be “The Bridges of Madison County”, because the main character in the story is a woman who (while her husband and two children are off to a county fair with their prize animals), falls passionately in love with a stranger who comes to town to take photos of nearby historical bridges.   So many women can relate to this woman and how she became lost within her routine marriage while taking care of her children, etc. We, as women, lose ourselves and our true identity, as we wind up putting ourselves and our needs last. The stranger brings out the desire and passion in her as she rediscovers herself and her body, her buried passion and desires, hopes and dreams. It would be exciting to end up on an island with this book and that perfect stranger.

ME: Here, here.

 

Me: Describe your writing style in one sentence:

Maureen: Because I am a first time author, I am still learning about my style, however, I am feeling that my style leans toward humor with a bit of quirkiness thrown in.

ME: A good laugh never hurt anyone. We need more of it.

Me: If you could spend a day with one of your book’s characters, who would it be and why?

MAUREEN: I would say the character, “Sarachie”(Bling Fairies), as she is sister to the main character, “Velvy.” She suffers from low self-esteem as she is not as pretty as her sister and has a weight problem, (both issues that I can relate to). However, I would want to spend time with her to teach her and let her know that she is beautiful no matter what shape and size she is and that the people who matter in this world, love her unconditionally.

ME: Something kids can easily relate to.

 

ME: What genre have you not written in but would love to try?

MAUREEN: A Romance novel. I think it would be interesting to see how I would create the characters, write the story, and navigate the plot.

Maureen, thank you so much for being part of my blog. Write everyday and never stop perfecting the craft. I wish you much success with your book.