Category Archives: Topic of Interest

Kindle Unlimited: A Good Deal or Not?

I am almost done with my trial FREE Month membership of Kindle Unlimited. I had been fighting the urge to try it for a long time.  It only amounts to pennies a day, and Amazon claims you can read all you want for free. That is truly not correct. You can read all you want for $9.99 a month. To an avid reader like me, this could turn out to be a great deal.
Before trying the service, I took inventory of my reading expenditures. In the last six months, I spent $150.69 in paid books. That averages out to $25.12 a month (the amount does not include taxes). Compare that to $9.99 for KU, and KU seems like a great deal. However, a little analysis is necessary.
Of my total expenditure, $131.79 was for books by authors who are not offering their books on KU. Most of those authors are published by traditional publishing houses, but some are self-published authors too.
My entire collection of Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody Mysteries is not available on KU. I paid for Game of Thrones, J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger books, etc. In fact, only $18.90 of the $150.69 would have been covered in KU. That’s less than $3.15 a month.
This month I have borrowed ten of J.R. Rain’s Vampire for Hire (at 4.99 each), four of Mark Dawson’s John Milton series (at 3.99 each), three of Alex Lidell’s Power of Five series (4.99 each), and five of Auryn Hadley’s Rise of the Iliri books (3.99 each).
Total read is $100.87. Subtract $9.99 monthly charge, and I had a savings of $90.88. The savings is slightly more because I did not include sales tax. I think I like the savings very much! Keep in mind that I can read a book in a day, depending on its length and how much time I can spare for reading.
If your favorite authors are self-published, you may be getting a very good deal from Kindle Unlimited. Do keep in mind that many self-published authors are not offering their books on KU. KU requires us to keep our books exclusive to Amazon. Many authors are unwilling to miss out on Apple and other online sales outlets. My own books are not available on KU at the present time. That may change from time to time.
An interesting point to mention is that because of the cost advantage of KU, I discovered two new authors I am really enjoying. Auryn Hadley and Alex Lidell are authors I’d never read before, but because I could read them without buying the books outright, I gave them a try. I loved both of them.
On March 7, I examined Amazon’s paid best-selling fifty books. (I took the top fifty from the best-selling one hundred).
— Only four appear on the USA Today Bestsellers list. These four are published
      by traditional publishing houses.
— Of the four above, none is available on Kindle Unlimited.
— 34 of the 50 are offered on KU. They are exclusive to Amazon and cannot be found at
      B & N, iBooks, Kobo, etc.
— Of the 34, eight are regularly priced at $0.99 cents.
So, is Kindle Unlimited a good deal? A better question would be, “Is it worth it for you?” Consider the following questions.
— Who are your favorite authors?
— Are they on Kindle Unlimited?
— Are you willing to explore and try new, self-published authors?
— How many books do you read a month?
I realize there are numbers of readers out there who are highly critical of self-published books. They refuse to accept that there are many authors worth reading who are self-publishing. They refuse to try those authors. The rhetoric is often fueled by some traditional authors and publishers who obviously fear the new competition and the way self-publishing has changed how readers buy.
If you are willing to begin exploring on KU, then you might find a great deal. It will depend on your expectations and your discoveries. My advice is that you try the One-Month Trial Membership. It costs nothing and you can quit at any time with a click. At the least, you’ll really get to read for “FREE” for one month! Every month after that, you will pay $9.99 per month, no matter how many books you read.

I will be keeping my Kindle Unlimited membership. For me, it’s a very good deal. Some of my favorite self-published authors such as Rick Mofina and J.R. Rain have multiple-book series which are available on KU.

Free Book?

Does the offer of a Free Book entice you to join a mailing list?

Once you get your book, what is your most likely action?
Pertaining to the book.
a.     I read the book immediately.
b.     I read the book in a few days.
c.     I add the book to my immense collection of freebies and may someday read it.
Pertaining to the membership.
d.     I immediately unsubscribe from the list because I agreed
to sign up, not to stay.
e.     I wait a reasonable time (a month) before I unsubscribe.
f.      I stay with the membership because I’m interested in the author.
g.     I stay with the membership hoping for more freebies.
Pertaining to emails sent from the author.
h.     I delete them.
i.       I have them tagged by the junk filter so I never see them.
j.       I click on some once in a while.
k.     I click on each one to see if there are more freebies.
l.       I click on them because I truly want to hear from the author.
Most self-published authors will likely be surprised at the number of options. I was when I began asking friends, family, and acquaintances about the topic. Their answers populated the above list.
I seldom join a mailing list in response to a free-book offer because I get my free books from Amazon’s Top 100 Free. I only download a free book if I already like the author or if the blurb and reviews really grab me. I don’t want three thousand books in my library. I prefer one hundred really good ones that I can re-read every couple of years.
However, I’m the exception, not the rule. I do know readers whose digital libraries have thousands of books, most of them unread. They take special pleasure in getting free books. It’s the equivalent of having a digital music library of thousands of songs. Most of us listen only to about 5% of our music.
As an author, I found this information rather unsettling. I have a few offerings on Instafreebie, a service for which I actually pay. Readers do not pay. They get the books for free.
Instafreebie says they have thousands of dedicated, loyal readers who will populate my mailing list and become avid readers of my work! An avid reader is great if he pays for my work. Otherwise, it’s like funding a reader’s welfare system.
I do understand the draw of freebies. I love Rick Mofina’s books and was thrilled to get several of them as free downloads in Amazon’s Top 100 Free. Now, I keep waiting for the next free offering from him. I’d be really irritated if I paid for the next book only to see it offered for free next week. It’s not that I won’t pay for a book; I buy most of my books. It’s that I feel cheated if I pay and everyone else gets if for free.
One author I fell in love with years ago is Monique Martin. Her first book, Out of Time, was a free download. She never offered the others for free, so I bought each one, some on sale. I bought them realizing that I could wait forever and never get another for free. I loved her work, so I spent the money.
As an author, my expectation is that every free book I give away, will quickly (or relatively soon) be read. Hopefully, one in five readers will love my work and actually buy the next book in the series or try another book by me. Another hope is that said readers will write reviews even if they don’t buy the next book.
Expectations are unrealistic where the numbers show otherwise. Several articles I read last year claim that a free book is ten times less likely to be read than a paid one. Also, the more a reader pays for a book, the more likely he or she is to read it. Amazon actually has numbers that support this. Their system keeps page-read counts for every book they sell/download.
Analyzing my mailing list, I learned quite a bit. It’s important to note that I send out very few emails. First, I was surprised by how many members stay on but seldom or never open a message. Those I believe are the ones that set the filters to send mailing lists emails to junk. They probably never see the email.
A small percentage unsubscribe as soon as the first email arrives. Interestingly, some sign up every time I offer a new title and unsubscribe shortly after. These only want the free books and feel no guilt about working the system.
A significant number do stay and open emails once in a while; these are the majority. Many stay as members and open most messages. I appreciate those and try my best never to spam them.
I have author friends who send out constant emails to their members. They do things like ask questions such as “What is your favorite fairy tale?” and “What topic do you want me to write about?” They claim that readers love to be engaged by their authors. Personally, I don’t want to annoy my readers with silly questions.
My lessons learned determine my marketing strategy. I only give away samples (a few chapters) of my books. A reader will know by the end of the 3rd chapter whether the novel is one he can’t put down. I usually know by end of 1st chapter.
I will gift full books to members of my Beta group. A good beta reader is worth his or her weight in gold, and most authors will be very grateful. I have found that offering books in return for fair reviews does not work either. If fifty readers respond and are given the book, maybe three or four actually keep their word and do the review.
What kind of reader are you? Are you likely to be swayed by the offer of a free book? Do you unsubscribe soon after? Are you likely to buy a book by an author who gave you a free one? Do you read the free books, or do you tend to hoard them?
I’d love to read your comments.
NOTE: If you’re interested in joining my Beta group, email me at
Beta readers get the book before publishing. I ask them to read deeply and give me their thoughts on how to improve the book before the book is finalized. Beta books must be read as soon as possible so that changes can be made before release date.

Sex . Yes or No?

No, I am not offering!

My question is spurred by my own reading experience. Yesterday, I picked up a little reverse harem paranormal romance that had been sitting in my to-read list for months. It has a very nice cover, a tastefully suggestive title, and an author who is described as “an international best-selling romance author, Amazon Top 100 Author…”

I spent a pleasant couple of hours reading the short book which is a mix of genres: shifter romance, paranormal, reverse harem, etc. The heroine is the usual lovely, blonde, petite girl on the run from danger. The “male harem” is comprised of four hunky shifter males (cousins and brothers) who rescue and bond with her. They are happy to share her as their wife.

Reverse harem reads usually involve either animal shifter clans or alien worlds, etc. since in our own world the idea of a woman with multiple mates is unacceptable. In my own series, Vampires in the Mist, Rose can have several males because they are vampires and do not follow our usual morality. I call them her protectors instead of mates. In my work, sex is not the focus of the storyline. The heroine’s adventures and the suspense takes center stage.

The book was easy reading, but after a while, I began to page through the sex scenes to get to the story line. Lately, I seem to do that more and more. Now, that is surprising since I myself write novels that contain strong erotic scenes. I have always been a firm supporter of authors who don’t shy away from including erotic scenes in their work. Not only do I include such content, but I don’t limit such scenes to the “norm.” I often touch on taboo subjects too.

I began to question why I was paging through the sex scenes, obviously bored. They were not badly done, and the author handled each scene with each male rather well by making the males very different in personality and love-making style. The scenes were not overly long, and the language was not gross or pornographic. Then why was I not engaging?

Am I becoming jaded to erotic content? Was there too much sex in the book? We all know that too much of anything becomes tiring. Erotic scenes are the spice of romance writing today, the equivalent of salt and sugar in our food. Still, I’d never eat a plate of salt or sugar; neither do I want 200 pages of nothing but sexual content. Readers who want such works buy erotica, and the extremes buy pornography.

The opposite holds true also. There are millions of readers who object to sexual content on the grounds of religion or conservative values. I argue that how can you possibly write about romance, empowerment, suffering, emotions, motivation, history, etc. by leaving out the second most powerful motivational element in humanity’s history? (The first is the need for power, in my opinion.)

Those readers who want “clean/wholesome” romance do not understand the nature of romance itself. Maybe, they don’t want to understand human nature. I do believe that erotic content should be restricted to adult genres. I’d never place erotic scenes in a YA novel. I always have admired the Twilight series for its beautiful handling of the YA topic without using any erotic content.

I’ve probably said enough to insult half of you and confuse the other half. Anyway, I hope that when my readers work their way through one of my books, they don’t skip the erotic pages. I’d sure like to hear your opinion on the subject. Consider the following questions.

  • Do you like erotic content in your books? I am not referring to books that are implicitly erotica. I am referring to romance, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, mystery, and such.

  • If you don’t mind erotic content, how much of it do you like? For example, in a two-hundred-page book, how many pages should be allotted to erotic content?

  • Are you turned off by specific types of erotic subjects? (lesbian, homosexual, bondage, etc). Explain.

  • Those who object to erotic content: do you object to “romantic sensual” content? These would be more artistic, sensual depictions of erotic scenes.
  • What makes you skip pages on specific erotic passages? (Repetition, same-old thing, vulgar language, disgusting imagery, etc.)

  • If you strongly object to erotic content (even limited content), explain your reasons. 

I hope that some of my readers will respond to this article on the comments section. I will definitely consider your responses when I write my next novel. I hope I did not give offense.

How Do Best-Selling Lists Differ?

These are listings for Bestsellers (ebooks) as of today at four major sellers: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. Silly of me to expect that best sellers would reflect across the board on all sites. Not true. Every list is different.

Barnes & Noble Top-Selling Nook Books Today

1. The Key to Rebecca– Ken Follett
2. After Anna– Lisa Scottoline
3. A Higher Loyalty– James Comey
4. The Sixth Day– Catherine Coulter
5. Wicked in His Arms– Stacy Reid
6. A History of God– Karen Armstrong
7. The Night Child– Anna Quinn
8. The Thief– J.R. Ward
9. I‘ve Got My Eyes on You– Mary Higgins Clark
10. Shoot First– Stuart Woods

Amazon’s Top “Paid” Kindle Books Today

1. A Higher Loyalty– James Comey
2. Switch on Your Brain– Dr. Carolyn Leaf
3. Say You’re Sorry– Melinda Leigh
4. The Key to Rebecca– Ken Follett
5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People– Stephen R. Covey
6. The Coaching Habit– Michael Bungay
7. The Winter Over– Mathew Iden
8. When Never Comes– Barbara Davis
9. It Ends With Her– Brianna Labuskes
10. The Hiding Place– Corrie Ten Boom

iBooks Top Paid Books Today.

1. A Higher Loyalty– James Comey
2. The Disappeared– C.J. Box
3. Shoot First– Stuart Woods
4. After Anna– Lisa Scottoline
5. Devil’s Waltz– Jonathan Kellerman
6. Red Alert– James Patterson
7. Socrates– Paul Johnson
8. Great Alone– Kristin Hannah
9. The Glass Forrest– Cynthia Swanson
10. Little Fires– Celeste Ng

Kobo (I could only get “Now Trending.”) All are eBooks. 

1. The Key to Rebecca– Ken follet
2. The Next Girl– Carla Kovach
3. A Higher Loyalty– James Comey
4. A History of God– Karen Armstrong
5. The Night Child– Anna Quinn
6. With This Ring– Amanda Quick
7. The King’s Deception– Steve Berry
8. Fluent Forever– Gabriel Wyner
9. The Last Good Man– Linda Nagata
10. Contemporary Songwriting– Toby Koeningsberg
11. The Thief– J.R. Ward

Points to Ponder:
1. Only One book was on all four lists and it is a non-fiction book- A Higher Loyalty by James Comey.

2. The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follet was on 3 lists.

3. The Night Child, After Anna, and A History of God were on two common lists.

4. Other than those books, the sites  all differed in their bestsellers’ titles. The few titles in common also differed in placement. For example, A Higher Loyalty was   #3 in B&N, #1 in Amazon, #1 in iBooks, and #3 in Kobo.

5. There are very few romances. The lists are heavy on suspense and mysteries.

6. Every site has at least two nonfiction books on its top ten sellers. Amazon actually has four: A Higher Loyalty, Switch On Your Brain, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Coaching Habit.  

Interesting, right? 


Interested in Paranormal Romance? Wonder how it became so popular? I am happy to share the following article written by paranormal author Kiersten Fay. I love the genre and have my own Angel’s Guardian and the brand new Once Chosen paranormal romance reads. I agree that we are now experiencing the golden age of paranormal romance.