Monday, October 28, 2013

The 'Indie Sales Slump' - My 2013 Perspective

Back in September of 2011 - I wrote about what I believed was the first Indie Author Shake Out.  
"It is the law of supply and demand in action. When there wasn't a supply of 'known' authors, the 'un-known' did very well for themselves. Now with the flood of 'name' authors with new and back-listed titles the average Indie is not able to compete."
 The reading season is upon us once again. The great post-Christmas Sales Event is on it's way. This is the time of year to really push those novels out...who is kidding whom?

Yes, the mid-list has moved to e-books instead of print.

Yes, there is always a slow season - summer time - and reading picks up in fall.

Yes, there are Indie's who have 'made a killing.' There are even erotica writers who made their fortunes -- before the latest 'anti-porn' campaign. (That has yet to shake out.)

Hell, I had a best-seller in the UK in 2010 with "Let's Do Lunch" sitting in the top 25 best selling Romantic Suspense novels, and was #10 to Nora Roberts #8 for ten glorious days!

In fact, I was so sure the 'Indie Bubble' would pop that I wrote this:

This next wave of sales is going to signal the end of the Indie Author Boom. By this time next year there will more back-list titles than Indie titles. That will the end of the Indie 'Revolution' because the supply of back-list will meet the demands of readers.

The Indie market will pop, like all bubbles.
It sucks to be right.

This year, my sales have been very quiet. I ran "The Emissary" is free on Smashwords, since it came out, with record sales of....wait for it....4 free copies.

What I've noticed is that as my sales a Amazon went down, I started to sell a few things, here and there, via Smashwords. Enough to get my first ($12) payment, and be halfway to getting a second ($10) payment.

"Swallow the Moon" - the paperback - is very slowly earning out in face-to-face sales. I moved some 20 paperbacks over the summer. "Let's Do Lunch" sells an e-book or paperback copy here and there (in the world, not just on Amazon).

I'm still working on the spreadsheets to see what sales were last year. With the giveaways, I think we were in the 2k range. Not bad for a complete unknown like myself. However, the books published aren't clearing enough for me to keep publishing new ones.

The market is awash in backlist, just as I predicted.

While that's a huge blessing for those hard-working mid-list authors who worked with-in the system; its ruined the Indie market for genre fiction.

The playing field is level, and it hurts for some of us.

It's just the way the business works.

Happy Reading Season!

Putting Down Roots in the Real World AND Cyberspace?

Just before my mother passed, I wrote a piece called 'Sense of Place' that talked about my sense of belonging in this part of Kentucky.

Earlier this year, I went to Ashtabula and found that after 20 years, I could still have a sense of belonging there. I found it when I met up with my cousins at the Farmer's Market.

Now, thanks to social media, like Kindleboards, Goodreads and Facebook, I've been able to keep in touch with people who are important to my sense of place in the larger world.

My friends are a far-flung bunch who cover the major continents. Some are blood-kin, most are as dear to me as my blood-kin. They keep me feeling connected on an intellectual level, we can debate and disagree - not something you can always do with face-to-face friends.

For a couple of years, I was really worried that the majority of my life took place in Cyberspace. Now that I've found satisfying, real-world hobbies like spinning and knitting, I'm better balanced between the two worlds.

I need my far-flung friends to share my real-world adventures with, as I need my face-to-face friends to have those adventures.

I've got a general plan for my spinning and knitting (and some day for sewing) that can go in several different directions. I'm going to see where this track takes me. It could open some really neat doors in time.

Maybe not, you never know.

We'll see how this works out.

Meanwhile - I've put the drive band on the sewing machine. It's loose, but it works. The attachments arrived on Saturday. I'm waiting for the spool post before I start using the machine. I cleared a space for my Singer zig-zag in my den/work place. I'm willing to be the attachments for it will fit the old treadle.

If only I knew what the heck they were!

More to learn every day.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Goofed Again!

This is turning into quite a mystery.

When I ran the identification program a second time it came up different. This time it said it was a Singer 15 class.

Now, if I knew what I was doing, I wouldn't need to struggle to get this right. The bobbin that came out of the machine was a 15 class bobbin.

So I guess I'm starting over.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Update on the Singer 66

This is what my Singer looks like, though mine is more worn. 

I found the attachments online - my first attempt at purchasing them fell through. The second attempt appears to have worked better.

The drive belt came today. I haven't got a clue on how to cut it and attach it. So that's going to wait.

The spool post shipped today. The manual should ship in a few more days. 

The machine is very heavy, yet the parts move very easily. I suspect a bit of cleaning and some grease will improve it even more. 

Singer 66

The other day Hubby and I went to an antique store to browse around.

We found a really nice treadle sewing machine, with a cabinet in good shape, that moved with surprising ease. It appeared to be well taken care of - but there were no attachments, or belt.

I was on the fence - the mechanics looked about perfect - but I didn't know if I could find the important things like a manual and parts.

I really shouldn't have worried.

When the ladies explained that the machine was half price - Hubby grinned and said "Happy Birthday."

We brought it home for less than $40.

So far, I've been able to find everything I need to put the machine back in working order. The parts are - of course - more expensive than the machine. However, I'm pleased to be able to find what we needed on eBay and Amazon.

So everything I need is on order. I've signed up for a quilting class - along with my knitting classes.

I know it's a bit weird for a Techie like me to have old fashioned hobbies like spinning, knitting and crocheting. Adding sewing on a peddle machine to this and I'm starting to look like a throwback to a previous generation.

However, I see it this way - 10k years of spinning history is in my genes. Sewing and spinning are sisters. I'm going back to an expression of my heritage. I could be spending a lot of money on tanning beds and manicures like a normal woman.

I met a British ex-patriot yesterday who commented on the name of 'Jordan's Croft'. Since he was a Brit, I focused on my Scots heritage. (Brits like the Irish about as much as red-necks like Latinos or Afro-Americans.)

We had a great conversation - I realized then I slid into my comfort zone, with one foot in the 21 century and one in the 19th century. It makes perfect sense, if you figure that my grandparents were from the 19th century and my mother was of the 20th century.

I'm one of the links - there aren't that many any more - my life is linked across 3 centuries via 3 generations. Most people can't say that. I'm very happy to have that kind of link. It makes me who I am.

Stay tuned - I'll pictures of the sewing machine when it's done.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Been watching the political situation in The Land of the Lost - aka Washington D.C. It's enough to make a sane woman run in circles screaming 'the sky is falling' although I know for a fact the sky is fine.

Congress is FUBARed.

The President has given up his power so often they actually thought he'd give in this time. We'll see who wins in the long run.

On a personal front - the farm is about ready for winter. There's hay in the loft, and the pasture grass is thick and high. The hens are growing feathers, and there's a goose egg in a duck nest.

I'm making hats for friends and family. I guess I'm going to be ready for Christmas early this year.

Monday, October 14, 2013

All Tangled Up

I started out with a bag of stinky sheep wool. The odor was enough to make my eyes water.

The only thing to do was to soak it in hot water and Dawn. However, it can't be scrubbed, or agitated or it will felt into a lump.

The first bucket has been washed once, the second bucket is soaking for the second time.

Not pretty at this point. However, if you change the water 3 or 4 more times, you get something a little fluffier and nowhere near a stinky.

The bottom picture is a hat and cowl I knitted from cheap yarn in order to see if I could handle knitting the pattern with real yarn.

So far, I have 3 bats of fiber from those bags of wool. I dyed some if it. Hoping to get something called 'broken black' instead, I got gray with a pink cast.

So I decided to mix that with a light color, I tried for 'sea foam' green, but that turned out a rather pale blue.

So I've started over. I'll spin the yarn before I try to dye it. If I get the right shades. I'll spin some beads and shells into it. Give it an 'ocean at dawn' type of look.

I've got a nice gray and some really lovely rose that would make a great cowl and hat set. If I'm lucky, I can even make matching fingerless gloves.

This is the yarn. It's been sitting in the basket for a month, daring me to put it on a pair of knitting needles.

I almost gave in yesterday.

But I've got to finish my mittens before I tackle this lovely stuff. I'm not used to knitting - I'm a crochet person. So I've been practicing.

A friend of mine said she'd like to have a hat and scarf made out of handspun, and asked what I would sell it for. I said I'd have to make it a gift. There's no way I could sell anything made from my homespun for a reasonable price.

We're talking hours of labor - washing, picking, carding, dying, spinning then knitting it into fabric. I can't imagine what a 'fair price' would be from my end.

The gray wool cost $7 for a 4 oz bag. I bought 3 bags of it and one bag of the pink. That's already more than most people would pay for a hat and scarf set. Then it takes a couple hours to spin and ply the yarn. (Not to mention the cost of my spinning wheel.)

This is a heck of a lot cheaper than smoking - which is the measure I use for the expense of my hobbies. If it's cheaper than smoking a couple packs a day, I'm all for it. (Yes, I used to smoke two packs a day.)

The garments I make will be works of art. Kinda hard to put a price on art. So I think that giving them as gifts would make my much happier.