Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why do people look down their noses at M/M? by Renae Kaye


I’m reading a book at the moment.  While that is odd enough in itself it’s not the topic of this blog. (You may be asking why I don’t get a lot of time to read anymore.  Let me just say I’ve been asking God for an extra two hours per day for a while now, and he’s not delivering.  24 hours in a day is just not cutting it for me anymore).


The topic of this blog is why people look down their noses at M/M.   (Stemming from this article http://cdanews.com/2015/10/plagiarism-accusations-lead-to-taking-aim-at-gay-romance-writers/)

Let me take a step back.  Once upon a time (ha – author joke there) I used to read M/F romance like it was the thing that kept me alive.  Maybe it was.  For a couple of hours a day I could escape into a different world and not be in my crappy life.  I read a lot of different subgenres, but it was always romance.  I did Vikings, Vampires and Victorian.  I did erotic and neurotic.  I did shorter reads and longer reads.  And I used to “hide” what I read, because people would laugh at me.  At work and on the bus going to work, I would pull out my “intellectual reads” such as Jane Austen because I believe that we should at least try and read these classics once in our lifetime.  However I left the ones with titles such as “The Virgin Bridegroom” and “Mistress to the Boss” on the bedside drawers.

Some people would see my love of reading and try to engage me, saying, “Have you read [insert the latest blockbuster here]?”  My stock answer to them was, “If it doesn’t have a picture of two people kissing on the front, I don’t read it.”

Not strictly true, but they got the point and usually wandered off to find a “more intelligent” person for a literary conversation.

Non-romantic stories usually didn’t hold my interest.  And to a certain degree, that is still true.  

Nowadays I read mostly M/M, but because there are so many M/M books out there I want to read, I never stray.  Why read something I’m only half-hearted about when there are so many great books in M/M to experience?

So when I say I am 71% into a book that is not M/M, you can take it as a WOW moment.  It is The Martian by Andy Weir.  It’s recently been released as a major film starring Matt Damon, but the film looked so great in the previews, I just really needed the WHOLE story.  Not just the bits Hollywood decided to leave in. 

(If you haven’t heard of the story, basic plot is that NASA astronaut Mark is stranded on Mars after his team think he is dead.  Now he has to figure out how to survive Mars long enough for them to rescue him.)


I’m a little nervous about finishing the book, because I know that someone will die (someone always dies in these types of novels, which is why I stick to romance with their sappy endings) but I’m really enjoying the experience.  Reading a well written novel is always a good experience. 

Which brings me to the inspiration of my blog.  Some 7 days ago I bought The Martian on Amazon.  As I was checking it out, I happened to notice this book had over 20,000 ratings.  It was a wow-what-if moment for me.  I’m an author.  Andy Weir is an author.  We both write books – but he has 20,000 ratings on his book.  My top is 71 ratings.  Wow, what if I could get 20,000 ratings on one of my books?

Extrapolating out, I had a rough estimate of how many books I think he may have sold.  Wow.

Yes, I admit that the first thought in my brain was “How much money would that bring me?” but it was followed be a few other thoughts like “What would it be like to have that many people read the words you’ve written?” and “Wouldn’t it be great if that many people read the genre of M/M and enjoyed it?” and “Wouldn’t it be great if that many people were secure enough about LGBT that they would pick up a M/M book?”

I settled down to read The Martian and have been enjoying myself ever since.  But there is one thing that bothers me.  This is hard to say, Andy, so forgive me if you’re reading this and you have a delicate ego.

I don’t think the writing in this book is any better or worse than the stuff in M/M.

Oh, I know that people have different tastes in books, and genre accounts for a lot, but when I think of all the people out there in the world that look down their noses at the genres of M/M and Romance because “Really? That is just fluff” I get angry.

Why do people sneer at M/M?

What if I said, “I don’t think there is any racism in the world, because I walk down the street in my white skin and don’t see it happening”?  I would be crucified if I said that.  What if I denied that child marriage existed or that slavery was still happening, because I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes?
I can’t make a statement on how a black person feels about racism, because I’m not black.  I’ve never lived in my life as a black person.  I’ve never experienced it.

The same with those who comment about the romance genre without experiencing it for themselves.  Unless you have read extensively through the genre, you cannot make a comment.

Oh, they say, but I did pick up that book and read it once, and it was rubbish.

I once went to a party where there was a black man, and the police didn’t raid the house for drugs while I was there.  Does that mean that police never raid the houses where black people are?
I know that most of my readers will agree with this, so I am preaching to the converted, but how about you implement it in your life?  How many of you proudly declare at dinner, “Oh, I read this great book last night, let me tell you about it”?  There is a lot of sneering going on, and we (ie the readers of romance) are cowering in shame.  Why?  What is wrong with romance?


So let’s take another step back and analyse the problem from another point of view.  Let us assume that the quality of writing within romance and non-romance is equal.  (Yes – it’s a giant leap for the doubter out there, but as I said, you haven’t extensively researched the genre so you can’t comment.) 

Now let us also assume some gender dynamics.  Research as well as anecdotal evidence points to the fact that near 100% of readers of romance are women.  So by putting down all romance novels, you are poo-pooing women readers.  So we could assume it has something to do with gender.  However, just because (near) 100% of romance readers are women, it doesn’t mean 100% of women are romance readers.  There are plenty of romance-haters and people who are vocally anti-romance and are of the female gender.  Therefore, I have to conclude it is not solely based on gender dynamics.

So if it’s not the quality of writing, and if it’s not the quality of the reader, what is left?  The story itself.

Which is where I had my slight epiphany.

People hate other people being happy.

In Australia, we have something we call the Tall PoppySyndrome.  Basically it is the need to tear down any successful person and reduce them to a common level.  People don’t want others successful if they are not.  I think this is the same thing.  How dare two fictional characters have a happy life?  How dare they have hot sex and their dreams come true?  That’s not real life.

Yes.  There are a whole bunch of haters out there who can’t stand for anyone else – fictional or not – to be happy.  They might call themselves realists – or perhaps they’re pessimists.  Whatever they are, they don’t want happy stories and they don’t want people to be happy reading the stories.  They want people to die.  They want crime and blood, or they want wars and guns, or they want families ripped apart with cheating spouses.  And for goodness sake, do not give them that kissing stuff at the end with everyone living happily ever after!

That’s not real life, they cry again as they cling to their latest alien-takes-over-the-world best seller.  That’s not real life, they cry again as James Bond executes a perfect high-speed car chase manoeuvre while firing his laser pistol with perfect accuracy.

And then if you happen to mention that you read gay romance the level of hysteria is upped a notch.

Hell, no.  You can’t have the gays having a happy life!  Jeez – all gays are meant to be miserable and die alone from some sexually transmitted disease.  Or if not, then they’re supposed to be hit by a train and everyone will nod and say, “Yes, he deserved it.  After all, he was gay.”

It’s like “well, perhaps” you are allowed to have the happy ending in life – but only if you look like Cameron Diaz or that-Channing-dude-who-stripped-in-that-movie.  But only beautiful and well deserving people deserve HEAs.  All the ugly people need to be blown up, blown away or eaten by a rogue dinosaur.

Yes.  The haters of romance out there are not satisfied until they see the bad guys dead, and the good guys deader.

Well, boo-hiss.  This little author, sitting in a tiny corner of the Earth, who is currently listening to her washing machine constantly beep at her saying the load is done, and the (lovely, beautiful) rain fall down, says boo-hiss.  If you don’t like a happy ending, then go and hug your “and the world blew up, the end” book and leave those who want to be happy alone.

And Andy Weir, if you’re still reading this?  I love the book – I hope he doesn’t get deader in the end.

(Edit:  it’s now some hours later and I’ve finished the book.  I hate you Andy Weir.  You CANNOT end the story there!  You simply cannot.  It’s not logical.  Seriously.  I hate you.  Can you just write one more chapter for me?  PLEASE?)


(Second edit:  THIS is why romance writers rock.  Because they give you the ending to books and don’t leave you hanging.)


How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

Friday, October 30, 2015

It's All About the Goodies by Felice Stevens



I'll admit it. I'm a secret Halloween candy stealer. When my kids were little, it was only natural not to let them eat their horde of sugary deliciousness at once; they were allowed to pick out a few pieces per night,  until I was lucky enough that they eventually they grew tired of the same miniature candy, or ran out of the candy they liked.


The fun part for them, like it was for me when I was young, was coming home after the trick-or-treating and dumping all the candy on the floor and doing trades with my brother. I don't like nuts in my candy and he didn't like gummies (weirdo), so we would swap. By day three I was flying high and my insides felt as though they were coated in sugar.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of old Victorian homes and we knew all our neighbors. In those days we didn't go with a parent; we went in a huge mass of kids. We knew who we could get the unwrapped treats from and who would be good to give us extra candy. At my house we'd make treat bags and my mom would hand them out, all the while yelling at my father to stop sneaking the chocolate. She was definitely the Candy Police.



So what were my favorites? I loves the little Milky Way bars and would stick them in the freezer. I also loved M&M's (not peanut), and the Hershey's miniatures, especially the Special Dark. In non-chocolate-related candy, I loved blow-pops (no jokes please), Skittles and and anything chewy. Bonomo Turkish Taffy and fruit jells were also a favorite. 



So what were your favorite Halloween candy treats growing up?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Creepy reads by Riley Hart


Halloween is almost here and I've been in the mood for scary/paranormal reads lately. It's funny because paranormal romance used to be about ninety percent of what I read. I've always been a realistic girl at heart when it comes to my writing, but my reading tastes used to veer toward vampires, werewolves, and other worldly creatures much more than they do now.

I'm not sure what happened to change that. I guess it's one of those things where I needed a change of pace, but now after a break, I'm finding my way back.

I recently finished ALASDAIR by Ella Frank and I loved it. The book reminded my why I used to love vampires so much. STYGIAN by Santino Hassell came out this week and I made sure to download it to my Kindle the second it did.

So, I don't know if it's the time of year or what but I'm desperately seeking gay paranormal reads. Vampires will always be my favorite, but I'm up for anything with at least one main character who isn't human :)

What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy Halloween, Y'all! from Sean, BA and Julia


HAPPY BITING Y ALL

Also, eat all the candy corns for us, y’all.

Much love, BA

 

 

You can find us on Twitter at @seanmichael09, @juliatalbot and @batortuga.
 
 
Facebook:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Writing Recap (Sept & Oct, 2015) by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! It’s time for writing recap. As a bonus, this writing recap answers a couple of Ask CC questions I received.

Speaking of 2nd editions, here's an Ask CC question: “I have all the first editions to your books. Do u have to re buy them? I mean are there a lot of changes to them?” My 2nd editions are edited with new covers, and the Home books and Perfect Imperfections have bonus chapters incorporated at the end that I previously had online, but there are not a lot of changes so if you already own them, save your money. 

  • Audio Books Galore!
    • Perfect Imperfections narrated by Charlie David is live!
    • Also, by Charlie David, Until Forever Comes and In Your Eyes are available!
    • Two Home books (Just What the Truth Is and He Completes Me) both narrated by Alexander Collins are live.
      And this brings me to another Ask CC question: "When will the rest of the "Home" series books be in audio?  Love the whole series!!  Thanks - Judy." Thank you, Judy! Alexander Collins is working on
      more Home books. The narration/production process is lengthy but we'll get those audio books out there as soon as we can.
    • I have a new narrator who’s starting working on the Family books and he gave me serious sniffles and feels and goosebumps, y’all. I’m beyond excited about these.
Have a great week and if you have any questions for me for a future Ask CC post, you can ask them here.


CC
www.cardenoc.com


Friday, October 23, 2015

GRL Report by Felice Stevens


     As a newcomer to the world of conventions for the most part, I was a bit trepidatious to attend one where, although I know many people virtually, I had yet to meet most face to face. But, because I had heard so many wonderful things about GRL, or Gay Romance Literature Retreat, and there were so many wonderful authors and readers I knew were attending, I decided to go.

     There was another issue. Deep down I am a very shy and private person. I may project an on-line, fun personality but put me in a room where I don't know many people and I am the last to talk. Even if I may have met you before, I might only smile because why would you remember me? It's not the way I want to be, but its how I am.

      And I've always been that way. As a child, I wasn't in the "popular group"; I didn't get invited to parties or have boatloads of friends. I hung out at home with my books and wrote stories. I didn't want to be like that; but I didn't know what to do to change. 
     
     But in these last few years I woke up and realized just how much I'm missing out, so I forced myself to put aside my fears and introverted self and come out of my shell. What better place than at GRL?

     I'm so thrilled that I did. I met the authors whose books made me thrilled to belong to a genre like MM: Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, Rhys Ford, Jordan L. Hawk, (and her amazingly nice and sweet husband, David). I hung out with Sylvia Violet, Carter Quinn and the incomparable artist, Catherine Dair. I met the best bloggers, like Lisa Horan from The Novel Approach and Dani from Love Bytes. My partners in crime C.S. Poe and Jenna Kendrick and I tried to stay out of trouble, but we hung out with a crowd that far & away were the most fun bunch of people I have ever met; my beloved Fanyon Family


     For me,  meeting readers and having them come up and tell me they are a fan of my books, or to  meet someone who's taken the time to make fan art for a book was surreal and mind-blowing. People from all different backgrounds united at GRL for their love of books. It was inspiring and fabulous.

     Was it perfect? Of course not. Is anything? There were still people I didn't feel comfortable approaching or talking to and so I didn't and I regret that. But I loved the experience and hope all of you who hesitate to go to any con will give one a whirl. Sometimes you have to see it yourself to believe it. 

     I had a cover reveal for my next book in the Breakfast Club series, Betting on Forever. In the book, Zach is brilliant, yet shy in social situations. However he decided when he is away at a convention, to step outside his comfort zone and see what life might bring him. It brought him Sam, a retired NYPD police officer battling his own demons, and an attraction to Zach he couldn't deny.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ask Andrew - Talking About Sex


Dear Andrew

I was wondering if you think that gay men are more open to discussing their sexual preferences than heterosexual men. Or even that gay men are more open about sex, discussing it and trying out different things then hetero men.
Maybe it's me and where I grew up, but for me it was always easier to discuss sex life and the likes with my gay friends than with a date, because I knew I wouldn't be judged by my gay friends.
So whats your opinion on that?

Christine

Dear Christine

Guys in general like to talk about sex and alot of the time they will talk about it with anyone who is willing to listen, especially if they have a story that makes them look really, really good.  As in stud of the year.  However, I do want to clarify something.  The audience of who you are willing to discuss sex with has one simple rule, don't talk sex with people you're interested in having sex with.  Its my opinion that heterosexual guys generally talk about sex with other guys.  Most straight guys aren't going to have a discussion of their sexual preferences with a date or another woman.  They'd rather be kicked in the nuts.  I mean what if they do and they say something that turn her off or let loose some little quirk way too early?  That's where you, as a woman, are more likely to have a sex discussion with a gay friend.  There is no sexual tension between you.

Now as for gay men.  I tend to think that we're a little more open in general about sex that straight men.  But there's a reason for that.  Gay men have had to figure out who they are sexually.  Since we're not straight and are different than most people, we had to figure some things out.  That journey brings with it some level of self understanding.  But just like the straight guys, we are more likely to talk about sex with our girlfriends than we are a date because there is no sexual tension.  Its always easier to talk sex with someone you aren't going to have sex with.

So here's the rule, keep those gay friends and keep talking to them.  The benefits go both ways.  And if you find a straight man who is willing to talk frankly and openly about sex, without that look in his eyes that says he's about to turn caveman at that very moment, hold onto him because he's a keeper. Once the discussion's over however, let the tiger loose and have fun.

Hugs and Love
Andrew

Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Visit Andrew's web site:  www,andrewgreybooks.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halloween Q&A with BA, Julia and Sean


Halloween is coming! One thing all three of us agree on is that we love love love Halloween. Maybe for different reasons: BA loves horror movies, I love candy and costumes and Sean loves mini chocolate bars and cooler fall weather.

So here are a few Halloween themed Q&As from all of us!

What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?

Julia: Cinderella. I wore it to my kindergarten party. 70s plastic masks, baybee. When I was a teenager I did every Halloween as a gypsy. I always had a peasant blouse and a circle skirt and dangly earrings

BA: Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days. No one knew who I was but I adored her. I was a pumpkin. I wore my Raggedy Ann costume to rags.

Sean: I often went as a hobo because it was cheap to put together.


What's your favorite Halloween treat? Your least favorite?

Julia: Oh, God, I love Smarties and Bottle Caps. Snickers were the best to get during trick or treat. I hate those black and orange wrapped things that purport to be caramel or nougat and I hate mushy homemade popcorn balls.

BA: Sixlets. Candy coated round things. Those orange and black things! OMG.

Sean: My favourite were always the Rockets candy rolls (I do believe they're called smarties in the US). Those black and orange things are apparently called Molasses Kisses (I had to look it up, everyone knows exactly what we're talking about but none of us know what they're called). Those are the worst!


The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or Disney Halloween special?

Julia: Charlie Brown

BA: Disney Halloween

Sean: definitely Linus and his great pumpkin. I'm not sure I've ever seen the Disney Halloween special...


Did you ever play tricks or go to haunted houses or graveyards?

Julia: I did toilet paper someone's house. Okay both my parents are dead so I can admit it was my house.

BA: As a kid, no. As a teenager, absolutely no comment.

Sean: gotta admit my answer to this one is no.

Did you have a special trick or treat bag or a pillowcase?

Julia: My mom sewed us bags

BA: We had the plastic punkins

Sean: the newspaper used to include a Halloween themed thin plastic bag in it leading up to the big day and that's what I used (and I think it was the newspaper, it could have been from somewhere else, but that's what I remember)


What's the best jack-o-lantern you ever made/ had made for you?

Julia: My stepson made me a cthulhu one year

BA:  I hate pumpkin guts so everyone else does them for me. Pumpkin guts really do make me throw up.

Sean: We never went for fancy, but it was always fun to help carve them


A Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus?

Julia: Hocus Pocus

BA: This is Halloween this is Halloween, Halloween Halloween.... Uh. Yeah.

Sean: A Nightmare before Christmas


Corn Maze, pumpkin patch or hayride?

Julia: Corn maze. I may not be able to find all the clue stations but I can get you out in 5 minutes or find the water station over and over

BA: Pumpkin patch: Hay makes me itch. Corn has worms.

Sean: Corn mazes make me claustrophobic, I'm allergic to hay -- I'll definitely go with the pumpkin patch!


What decorations did you put up this year?

BA and Julia: a light up owl, a light up raven, skeleton lights, witch pumpkins, ghost lights, and wind socks with green and orange streamers. Oh, and Candy corn lights!

Sean: a zombie crossing sign, a black and orange pumpkin and skeleton decorated wreath, a fake jack o lantern with an orange light inside, a blow up mummy with a candy bag, and a huge blow up dragon that actually flaps its wings!

Happy Halloween!

You can find us on Twitter at @seanmichael09, @juliatalbot and @batortuga.

Sean’s website is http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
Julia’s is http://www.juliatalbot.com
BA’s is http://www.batortuga.com

Facebook:

Sean -- https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites
Julia -- https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor
BA -- https://www.facebook.com/batortuga

Sean
smut fixes everything
where the naughty boys come and play

Monday, October 19, 2015

Family Collection 2nd Editions by Cardeno C.


Happy Monday! Last week was a busy week - I released 2nd editions of the four contemporary novels in my Family collection. Gorgeous new covers plus links below.

If short-tempered Jason can open his heart and life to optimistic Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.
Word Count: 59,044


More Than Everything
Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

Strong Enough
When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.



Something in the Way He Needs
Controlled Asher didn't expect to fall for free-spirited Daniel, but they'll find what they desperately need in one another.
Word Count: 65,573

All Romance eBooks
Amazon
Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Kobo




The 2nd editions are edited with new covers, but the substance of the books is identical to the 1st editions.

Have a great week!

CC
www.cardenoc.com

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kindle Unlimited – who’s crying? by Renae Kaye


When Amazon announced its changes to KU (Kindle Unlimited) I was confused.  I had no idea what that was – I wasn’t a member as either a reader or writer.  I read some articles, read some long winded groans, but kept mute as I had nothing to add to the debate.

For those who (like I was) don’t know about KU, let me do a quick (but not thorough) recap of the situation.

As a reader, you can join KU.  You pay a monthly subscription and as a result can download and borrow as many books in the program as you want.  For a prolific reader, this sounds bliss.  (Although you don’t get to keep the books – sorry.  If you want to re-read, you have to make sure you’re still a member, and that the author still has the book in the program.)

At the end of the month, Amazon would gather all the funds from the pool of subscriptions, and dole it out to the authors based on which books were downloaded.  Authors were therefore not paid an upfront, agreed upon, set fee per download, for it would depend on the month’s subscriptions and downloads of other books.  The money was simply portioned out evenly to those who were downloaded.

Authors soon cottoned on to the fact that a 10,000 word “short story” would pay as much as a 90,000 novel.  Soon the KU market was flooded with short stories.  Now – one thing that these short story authors never took into account was the following fall-out:
            1.  A larger majority of readers prefer longer stories. (Look, it’s a fact; I didn’t make it up just to hurt the short story authors.  You cannot deny the data that says that readers prefer novels over novellas over short stories.)
            2.  If the only books in the program were short stories which readers didn’t like, then they weren’t going to bother subscribing.
            3.  They weren’t the only ones who had worked out the system, so now the subscription pool of money was shrinking because in order to read 60,000 words, readers were having to download 6 stories, and therefore EVERYONE’S share was reduced.

Now, who knows why – perhaps it was due to complaints from the readers, or from the authors of longer stories, or just someone’s sense of fairdom – Amazon decided to change the system.  The authors would STILL get a share of the subscription pool, but instead of PER DOWNLOAD, it would be PER PAGE READ.

So, if a reader completed your 20 page short story, you would get paid a 5th of what the author of a 100 page story would get for a reader finishing their story.  If you wrote 200 pages and a reader read 100 of them, you would get the same as if an author wrote 400 pages, but the reader only read 100 of them.

That’s not fair! shouted the short story authors.  We should get paid the same.  A story is a story.  Just because you write long winded and take months upon months to finish.  It was the long-story-author’s choice.

True – they did choose to write longer.  But to claim it’s not fair?  A 10,000 word book on regular Amazon is usually not priced at the same price as an 80,000 word book.  Are you demanding that all short stories be sold for the same price?  Doesn’t a reader pay more for a longer story because (a) it took longer for the author to write and (b) it takes longer for a reader to read?  Readers are happy to pay a bigger price, because they get more hours of pleasure from it.

Aha, argue the short story writers. It’s unfair because a reader who used to download six of my books per week will still download six books, even if they’re longer.  But I get paid $2 and the longer-book-authors get paid $12.

See, that’s where your argument falls apart.  A reader downloads books at their READING RATE.  If it takes a reader (for example) an hour to read 10,000 words, and they have approximately one hour per night to read before they turn the light off and go to bed, they will download one short story per day, OR one longer story every 6 days.  If you suddenly start making your books 60,000 words instead of 10,000 words, do you think the reader is suddenly going to have 6 hours a day to read where before they only had one?

The new system is FAIR to the authors who are writing.  You’re all getting paid the same PER WORD.

No! shout the short story writers.  I used to make $4000 a month on KU, and now my pay has been slashed!

Well then, you were making your money at the expense of other authors.

I can’t say for sure, but assuming that Amazon hasn’t changed the pool of subscription money, then for every person who is now losing money, there is another author out there who was previously getting underpaid and is now getting the same paid PER WORD as you.

Now, I can’t say anything with 100% surety, because I don’t have anything on KU and have nothing to compare from the before and after – but it sounds fair to me.

I’ve seen several people start petitions to try to make Amazon change their mind.  They use catchy titles like “Pay Authors a Fair Price” and “Self-Published Authors are Being Ripped Off.”  Some people mindlessly sign, saying “I support authors!”

But watch what you’re signing.  You’re not supporting ALL authors, are you?

I recently followed a link to such a page with a catchy title about how authors are losing income and I read through the person’s reasoning.

Authors deserve a living wage!
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is [removed] and I have been earning my living as a self-published author since early 2011. I personally support seven children with this income, one of which has a serious medical issue that requires treatments every two months that cost thousands of dollars, and an upcoming surgery at the end of this year. Being self-employed, I do not have access to medical insurance for my child. It simply is not affordable. Especially now that Amazon has drastically reduced income for the average self-published author.
Wow – he/she is good.  Seriously.  I mean I only have two children and they are expensive.  To support seven is fantastic.  Really.  And I’m really sorry that your child has a serious medical issue… but should readers have to pay MORE for your books than they do for mine, because you have seven children?  Although my heart is aching, how many children you have has no relevance on how much an author “deserves.”

I have a friend who can type at double the speed I can.  Do I deserve more for my writing because it took me twice as long to get the word count as she did?

I tell you this because I am not the only one in a similar situation. There are hundreds, if not thousands of authors who earn all, or at least a hefty portion of, their income through self-publishing. Some of these people are my friends, and they all have their own personal struggles.
Yes, we do.  But do we deserve more than the guy next door?  Does someone who self-publishes deserve more than the person who traditional publishes?  Does the person who struggles to write because English is not their first language deserve more than the person who has English as their first language?

Okay (I thought to myself) perhaps I’m being unfairly harsh.  Let us read on.  Blah blah, some stuff about KU’s exclusivity contract and then:

…with the introduction of Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited program … authors could get paid for borrows from all those members. Income skyrocketed.
Each borrow ended up making nearly $2 in the beginning, but that number gradually slid lower and lower until each borrow was worth only around $1.30. Still, this was a huge income boost for authors. Plus, each borrow counted as a sale, helping boost visibility by putting those books getting borrowed a lot on the bestseller charts, boosting visibility even further.
Yes, because that’s how a subscription program works.  If you have the same number of subscribers, but they download more books, then everyone’s pay goes down.  Amazon is not a magician.  They do not create money from thin air.  There is a finite pool, and you take your share.  

Let’s read on…

Along the way, people started to realize they could release shorter works and get the same rate per borrow. People started writing short deliberately, because it takes a lot less effort and time to write 10,000 words than it does to write 40,000+ words, and by releasing 4x 10,000 word stories, you'd get four times the number of titles to potentially draw in readers. But some people were writing short stories long before the program came into existence.
Of course, this led some people to be unhappy. Those who write more for art's sake, or for passion's sake, or who write very long books that take months to write, got upset that short story writers were making a lot more than they were. Not necessarily overall, because some of those people made a lot of money. But on a per-publication basis.
No, no, sweetie.  Now you are being mean.  Of course short story writers always existed.  But their short stories were never sold at the same price as a novel.  Short story writers would usually package about 10 stories together into a book in order to get someone to pay for it. Because the readers don’t want to be ripped off.

Would you pay the same price for two fries at McDonalds as you would for 50?  Would you eat your two fries and still be hungry and be happy that you have to go back and order another two and another and another until you got your 50, the same as that person in the line next to you got for the same price?

To say longer stories are written for art’s sake, or passion’s sake sounds a little sanctimonious to me.  I write at different lengths depending on who I’m selling my work to.

And of course longer-story-authors got upset short story writers were making a lot more money than they were.  Because the system was unfair.

I sometimes go to McDonalds and I order the fries.  They are thin and crispy and I get about 30-40 fries in a bucket.  Then, because I love chicken, I sometimes go to Red Rooster and order their fries, but they call them chips.  However I only get about 15 in a bucket, because Red Rooster does fat chunky chips.  The overall weight and amount of potatoes used is probably the same – so the two servings are priced about the same.  I don’t demand Red Rooster gives me more.  It’s a slightly differently packaged product with a different name – one is fries, one is chips.  But at the end of the day, they are still sliced potatoes fried in oil.

Amazon used this as an excuse to drastically slash payments to short story writers by paying per page read instead of per borrow. Some writers have seen their income drop so low they can no longer pay their bills, despite writing more than ever. 
**Sigh** This is where I hate it.  I feel SORRY for you.  Yes.  Everyone should have enough money to pay their bills.  But writing is one of those things that you need to be aware of that is not a set income.  If you want a set income, you need to go and get a job at your local Walmart or something.  There you will get paid a set wage.

Amazon pays authors based on words.  That is fair.

Starting in 2014 I wrote a book called You Are the Reason.  (Now I know this next bit because I keep a track of my daily writing, and I just counted how many days I spent working on that book.) It took me 66 days to write and sits at about 82,000 words.  After I finished writing that book, I opened up another document and wrote a story called Hard Feelings.  Its word count is 10,000 words.  It took me 3 days.

So not counting editing time or anything, one story took me 3 days to write, and another took me 66 days to write, and you wish Amazon and all the readers to treat them equally?  One book takes the average reader about 45 minutes to read, and one takes around 5 hours.  And you want the reader to pay the same amount for their time and pleasure?

Heck!  If I was going to get the same amount of money for them, of course I would be writing a book every 3 days.  Wow.  I would make a million dollars in my first year.  Literally.

You see, exclusivity wasn't such a big problem in the beginning. If you didn't care about getting the occasional (and pretty rare for most people) borrow from Amazon Prime members, or the little boost of visibility putting your book free for a few days would give, you simply didn't put your books into KDP Select. Then you were free to put your books on other websites and make money there.
The program was, initially, truly voluntary. It's still technically voluntary, but if you do not put your books into the program, your chances of making money with your books are reduced to nearly nothing.
I’m lost.  Now we’re talking about exclusivity?  I thought we were talking per borrow?

And I have no idea where she’s getting her figures from.  Only 10-11% of my sales come from sources other than Amazon or my publisher’s site.  If you’re not making money on Amazon, you’re making 10% of nothing on any other site.  (Must read on…)

But when they created Kindle Unlimited, exposing millions of readers to the possibility of reading more without paying for individual books, everything changed. Suddenly it WAS worth going exclusive, because the extra income AND the massive boost to visibility made it worth it.
Now that they are paying authors effectively a half a cent per page read, the exclusivity requirement no longer makes sense financially. The program HURT actual sales, because everyone wanted to BORROW books instead of BUY books. This means that if you're not in KDP Select, your sales will suffer terribly. 
How much are you expecting to be paid?  I calculate that a reader pays around $5 for a 230 page book?  Yes?  So they pay 2.17c per page, of which the author (at 70% royalties) gets 1.5c.

And that is to OWN the book, not borrow it like it is on KU.  Do you understand?  A READER is not going to pay an author MORE just because the author says they have bills.  The reader wants a bargain too.  So how do you figure Amazon is going to get more money to the author per page read in a subscription program?  Hint: more subscribers.  How?  Hint: get more books that they want to read.  Which ones? Hint: longer ones.

I'm asking you to sign this petition because Amazon has self-published authors backed into a corner. We have to be in the program to have any chance of being seen by readers, because sales alone can never push an author into the bestseller lists unless they already have a massive following that will buy anything they put out. But because they're paying drastically less to the average writer, they need to be able to put their books onto other stores to make up for that lost income.
Wait, what?

“…sales alone can never push an author into the bestseller lists…”

So how do I get on the bestseller lists, please?  Which Amazon executive do I need to bribe?  Newsflash for you: authors get on the bestseller lists because they are the bestseller.  They’ve done the hard yards.  They’ve written the good books.  They’ve churned out the decent stories.  They’ve grown their reader base.  They’ve done the publicity.

If you suggest that any author out there doesn’t deserve to be on that list because they have a fan base, I seriously think you need to re-evaluate your own self-worth.  Are we back to the “I have more kids and deserve more readers” thing?  Every single author that you are trying to leap-frog over, earn more than, get more exposure than has just as much right as you.  Yes, I believe that authors should be paid a fair wage, but not at the expense of other authors.

Let's send a message to Amazon that authors deserve to earn a living wage just like everyone else. Most writers cannot get by getting paid a half a penny per page read. (And that number has already dropped from approximately $0.0057 in July to approximately $0.0051 per page in August. It's only likely to drop more from there, just as the rate per borrow steadily declined.)
Okay – now I’m getting angry.  Where is Amazon going to get the money from to pay you more than that rate?  They can only squeeze a certain amount out of the reader before they are turned away.  The drop in payment per page reflects the subscribers leaving because they’re not getting what they want from KU.  As discussed previously, if you write what the reader wants, then readers will pay more.  And you should get paid the same rate as everyone else.

Amazon: Stop your predatory business practices. Remove the exclusivity requirement from KDP Select so that authors can put their books on other stores and have a chance to make up for the income that's been taken away by your new payout structure. If you won't pay a fair, living wage to self-published authors, at least give us the option to place our books on your competitors' websites where we can earn some additional income without having to severely reduce our income on Amazon by removing ourselves from Select.
See – lost again.  We’re talking exclusivity?  I don’t have my books on KU and I earn what I consider is more than a decent wage.  I get paid per sale.  The more books I sell, the more money I make.  It’s as simple as that.  You need more money?  You need to do two things:  write more, and write better.  Want your books on the best seller lists?  Write better books and find yourself readers.

So what did I learn from this?  I learned that some people squawking for authors to be paid fair, are only really asking for themselves to be paid more at the expense of others.  There are TWO SIMPLE facts that no author can deny:
            1.  You must write what the public wish to read.  If you wish to make a living as an author, you must capture the audience’s attention.  Writing is not a set wage for set effort occupation.  The people who sell better than me, make more money.
            2.  No one forced anyone to put their books on KU.  I didn’t put my single self-published book there, and yet it made me a nice little pay day.


Buyer beware, and signer be doubly aware.  This is not a petition I will be signing.  There are many things that Amazon does that I’m not happy with, but paying authors equal amounts (per page rather than per download) is something I support Amazon in doing.


How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye