The E-book Industry

Sales at other sites were dismal, so decided to try Kindle Unlimited aka KOLL for the required 90 days to see how it would go. Payouts had been at $1.53 per book. Amazon dropped it to $1.33 for the month just reported – October. The result? I unchecked my auto renew boxes but I’m in until early January. Most other indie authors are doing the same and some have books due for renewal in the next few weeks.

I may try D2D in January. Smashwords has never gotten its act together with payments and D2D pays monthly. People already complained that KU lacked books and it’s about to lack a lot more books – – likely, reducing available reads to the point that the program can’t survive.

The solution? Amazon needs to stop the “contest” where they pay millions to a few authors as a reward for the best sales & put all $$ in the KU payout pot. It needs to guarantee authors between $1.50 and $1.80 per book – OR pay a monthly per book fee ($25 or so per month). If Amazon wants to keep KU going and GROW it, then it should do both – at least for some books. The bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Amazon needs to set criteria – if your book is a 99 cent title then your max borrow rate is 75 cents. If your book is fewer than 50 pages, then you will get 99 cents per month and if you “stuff” a book with material that is not real, genuine, writing in order to meet the page requirement, then you are banned from Amazon. If your book is a $2.99 title or more with over 50 pages of original, author-generated writing, then you get the higher payout and/or monthly bonus.

If Amazon wants to grow Kindle Unlimited, then it needs to give authors incentives to put their books in. If Amazon wants Kindle Unlimited to survive, then it at least needs to be fair with authors – below the $1.50 mark is a virtual no-writer’s land.

Readers – if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited- you should email or call Amazon and find out why Amazon is not putting the money into the program to give you a reading experience that earns your $9.99 per month. Authors, please let me know your thoughts about the future of Kindle Unlimited and whether you’ll keep your books in the program after this month’s $1.33 payout.

And Amazon – I’d love you to comment on this post and to explain why you’re not being fair to your authors which would in turn provide Amazon KU subscribers with the most reading choices possible. Right now, it looks like Amazon is pushing a dwindling supply of “all you can read” books on unsuspecting customers with one hand, and working covertly to kill Kindle Unlimited with the other.

Hey babies, it’s the Angry Old Fat Man again, touching base with all of Mary Anne’s/Olivia Outlaw’s readers.


News item #1: Olivia Outlaw has completed Book Two of the Carnal Collateral series: Devil’s Demand. It’s currently out on the Amazon Kindle. Which leads me to…

News item #2: The buttons that allow you to buy Mary Anne’s/Olivia’s books from other vendors besides Amazon may be dead for awhile. You see, Amazon has some new ways of distributing e-books, especially if you’re a voracious reader (like many of you aficionados of romance novels), and we are now participating in these new methods of distribution.

One is called Kindle Unlimited, and it’s a lot like Netflix for e-books, except better. You pay a monthly fee to enjoy access to over half-a-million titles on your Kindle or any other device that can use the Kindle store.

The other one is only for Kindle owners with Amazon Prime, and it’s called Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. You can “borrow” books FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST other than your Amazon Prime account, and that’s in addition to all of the other benefits you get from that service.

There’s only one bit of bad news. For authors to participate in these Amazon programs, they must publish exclusively via Amazon for at least a few months. No Barnes and Noble, no Smashwords, no other vendors for those months – just Amazon.

News item #3: I fixed the links to Olivia’s book covers that were not correct. They look OK now, but if you find one that isn’t, please contact me or Mary Anne and I’ll get it working right.

Thanks, sweeties, and remember, don’t get angry. THAT’S MY JOB!

A fun new MTV article talks about Fifty Shades of Grey fans who want to pay PERMANENT homage to the books.  Yes,  there are people who have various Fifty-related images and sayings tattooed on their persons — in various and sundry locations.

Don’t get me wrong, I like “Laters, Baby” as much as the next Christian Grey fan, but I don’t want it emblazoned on my chest, neck, fingers or toes. And I really don’t want Christian’s tie tattooed on my ankle.  (Why would you have a tie tattooed on your ankle?)

IMHO, the most devoted of the tattooed fans in the MTV piece is the one with quotes from the book inked on her body.  Yes, that’s right.  Check it out for yourself.  By all the ducks in the pond, I don’t even want quotes from my books tattooed on my skin.

Someday these ladies are going to have children and they will have to explain that key to the “red room of pain tattoo” not to mention all the sex toys.  Good luck with that…..



I just read a very interesting piece on Yahoo Finance (of all places) about successful indie romance authors. It’s titled:  “These romance writers ditched their publishers for ebooks and made millions.”  The piece focuses on a number of now indie authors who were first published traditionally: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy and Courtney Milan.  They are the indie answer to publishing’s “Big 5″ – Andre, Freethy and Milan are the indie “Big 3.”

I wonder if they’d mind adding a member?

The piece points out the speed at which all three ladies turn out new books, which is something I truly, truly envy.  They’re able to do it, of course, because writing is their life and their livelihood.  I’d devote myself to writing full time, gladly, and I’ve been hoping to do that for some time.  But until my writing income outpaces my legal loot, I’ll keep trudging to my office where I’m thankful my boss can tolerate having an insane duck lady churning out pleadings, memoranda, briefs, opinion letters and all sorts of other legal scribbling.

The income numbers for all three ladies are very impressive.  You go, lady love-scribes.  I hope to join you soon.


Unfortunately, this week I had a close encounter with a dentist. I say unfortunately, not because this dentist and his team aren’t amazing (He’s even smart enough to have an office manager named Mary Anne) – I say it because I have a deep and profound terror of dentists.  I have the same feeling about ophthalmologists.  I know I fail in both areas so I feel like I’m taking a test I know in advance I will fail.  But some encounters can’t be avoided, and thanks to a riled and rowdy tooth, this was one of them.

It turned out that the tooth and I had to part ways, so I saw the dentist twice this week.  At one point, we discussed my romance writing and the dentist mentioned how much his Grandmother loved reading Harlequins. I enjoy reading those too, but they’re not my first love.  My first love is reading historical romance. My dentist’s comment made me think back to the beginning, the first time I encountered the genre.  I picked up a book at the public library and started a love affair that still burns strong today. Yes, the book I found was the one that started it all.  It created a genre and blazed a trail for future authors to follow, including a certain crazy duck lady.

The late Kathleen Woodiwiss had a 600 page MS titled “The Flame and the Flower” and she believed in the book.  It was rejected across the board by agents and publishers of hardcovers, so she submitted it to paperback publishers directly.  The first on her list was Avon, and it snapped the book right up.   From an initial 500,000 run for its first publication in 1972, the book sold over 2.3 million copies in its first 4 years — and it created an industry.

Woodiwiss wrote historical romance.  I suppose the term was invented to describe her work.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips – a NY Times Bestseller and absolute genius at her craft –  says thatWe all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into.”  Another of my favorite authors, Julia Quinn, says “Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women.”

You know what Woodiwiss brought to the literary world?  Passion.  She created heroines readers adored from the first page and paired them with deeply flawed heroes. Her work, like most of the early historicals, have been criticized by the PC Police as “glamorizing” or “advocating” rape. Today people call her books and the early historicals “bodice rippers.”  I find all of that to be hogwash.  I’d agree with a review on the “Amazon” site by “A customer” who says that perhaps the heroes in Ms. Woodiwisses’ work should have been redeemed earlier.  Or, if not redeemed, that readers should be given more reason to like and understand them a bit earlier.

But it’s hard to criticize Woodiwiss too much because the passion in her stories is as contagious today as it was back, lo, many years ago when I first found “The Flame and The Flower” in the library as a young teen.  The characters carry her story and they carry the readers right along for the journey.  I think readers today wince too quickly and put stories down too fast. If they read a little further, they would experience more than a bodice being ripped. Maybe, they’d ignore the opinions of others and realize for themselves that in a Woodiwiss book, the hero dominates physically, but the heroine dominates emotionally.  In the end, it is the heroine’s love that saves the hero.

Ms. Woodiwiss is no longer with us, but her work lives on and today, it is available at Amazon for your Kindle.  If you’re an independent free thinker who doesn’t follow the herd (like a certain duck lady), then I suggest you boogle on over to Amazon and pick up the book that started it all.  Give “The Flame and The Flower” a read for yourself and see if you can find in the book the seeds of brilliance that started a genre.

The lesson I take from it all is that if a writer creates strong characters, puts them in an interesting situation and listens very hard – they will tell her their story. And if it’s done right, the passion in the tale will continue to burn bright enough to illuminate readers for generations to come.  That’s my hope, every time I sit down at a keyboard.

Oh, and BTW, if you pick up “The Flame and The Flower” and read it for the first time, you might boogle back by and leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  I’d love to discuss!

Of late I’ve been following some of Konrath’s advice – well, I didn’t know it was Konrath’s advice, actually, until I read a great writing blog in my Twitter stream.  Konrath says more writing and less of everything else.  Unfortunately, that has led to……  less blogging as well.  However, the recent piece by William Giraldi for New Republic has been stewing around in my unstable brain recently, demanding a response.  I’ve dusted off my soapbox for the occasion.

Have you read Giraldi’s piece?  It is absolute proof that judgmental ignorance still flourishes amongst those who consider themselves ‘better than the masses.’  What masses?  Well, their readers, their fellow writers, pretty much everyone with any other opinion.  Yes, those people.  I’d bet Giraldi is a card-carrying member of the P.C. Police and anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of those specimens.

Giraldi’s piece is part book-review (read book hatred) for a book by a woman, Eva Illouz, discussing and analyzing the “Fifty Shade of Grey” affect on culture and society.  From the perspective of the New Republic article, I expect that one of the biggest of Illouz’s problems is biology – she’s a WOMAN. And Giraldi doesn’t think much of women, especially women like Illouz and the amazing author of “Fifty Shades”, Erika Leonard a/k/a “E.L. James.  Illouz, Leonard and even, yours truly, the insane Duck Lady, have a big problem – we don’t know our place.  Rather, we don’t know that our place isn’t at a keyboard.

How does Giraldi feel about “Fifty Shades,” its author and its fans?

A great many women indeed have been living it up while dumbing it down, titillated by a charlatan amorist who goes by the nom de plume of E.L. James. I’m made distinctly queasy by uttering that sacral American surname when referring to this empress of inanity, so let’s use her real name, Erika Leonard. She who has done so much to help debase our culture should stand revealed.

To be able to pontificate so profoundly, Giraldi must have made a close study, a dissection even, of the Fifty Shades trilogy, right?  Well – not so much.

This is probably the spot to say that for the sake of this assignment I made a good faith effort to read these books at my city library, but I wasn’t self-punishing enough actually to finish them and had to stop the agony halfway into the second volume.

If you haven’t read it, from cover to cover, you are NOT in the least qualified to discuss it. The same goes for romance novels.  What is Giraldi’s opinion of the genre?

The trilogy’s assembly-line asininity is really a fomentation of the worst that can be believed about both sexes. Romance novelsparochial by definition, ecumenical in ambitionteach a scurvy lesson: enslavement to the passions is a ticket to happiness.

Sorry, no – actually, that’s the BEST thing Giraldi says about the romance genre. IMHO, the worst is this:

Dreck of this stupendous caliber has a particular advantage over literature in that one doesn’t have to read all of it to surmise, accurately and eternally, that it is all uniformly awful and awfully uniformromance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn. It’s pointless to spend much time impugning these books as writing because they really aren’t meant to be considered as actual writing, the same way a Twinkie wasn’t meant to be considered as actual food. Books ejaculated this easily have the inverse effect of being extremely difficult to read. Leonard’s creations are the cartoonishly erotic suppurations of a hamstrung, not terribly bright adult trying to navigate a midlife crisis, and you get the feeling that the sentences arrived on the page as if by osmosis, unaided by even a sub-literate serf.

So, Giraldi thinks that romance novels aren’t literature and they aren’t writing any more than a Twinkie is food. The New Republic writer finds that romance novels are cartoonishly written and are to the literate world what racists are to society.  You know what I find?  I find that Mr. Giraldi’s opinions of the romance genre are every bit as well-informed as his opinions of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.  It is so much easier to spout generalities meant to sound superior when you are not troubled by having any knowledge of your subject.

Giraldi says that just as Twinkies aren’t meant to be “actual food”, romances aren’t meant to be actual writing. I agree that Twinkies aren’t meant to appease physical hunger.  A hungry person is more apt to reach for a hamburger than a Twinkie. A Twinkie is meant to appease a craving for something else, something more than physical hunger.  A person might eat a Twinkie when she needs her mood lifted or wants to reward herself. In the same way, romance novels – like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, like my/ Mary Anne Graham “Forever Series”/ like my Olivia Outlaw “Sultan’s Toy Series” – romance novels feed the soul and elevate the spirit.  Like a Twinkie, a romance novel sometimes just helps you go on believing, hoping, existing.

If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a bowl of prunes, wearing a monacle and sneering at the world,  then perhaps you should pick up something by Mr. Giraldi.  If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a Twinkie, wearing a smile and cheering for the human experience,  then perhaps you should pick up a romance novel.

Most women – and some very special men – are smart enough to know that sometimes you have to feed your heart, your soul and your spirit.  If we don’t do that often enough we risk becoming a prune-eating, monacle-wearing nation.  A romance novel, anyone?

Something has been bubbling and brewing in my demented mind for a while now, and I’ve decided to blog about it. It’s the confusion that abounds regarding Erotic Romance. People hear “erotic”, think “erotica” and are convinced that both mean one thing — pornography.  That’s just not the case and I really wish someone could explain that to Apple, which is quite possibly the most confused of any major retailer.

And that’s a little strange – the Apple thing.  It’s a company that used to have the image of being “the smart person’s tech choice” and even “the creative person’s tech choice.”  The company’s confusion and double-speak have destroyed both images.  These days the smart person’s tech choice, and the creative person’s tech choice is Amazon.

What do the first two paragraphs have to do with each other?  My “Olivia Outlaw” erotic romances were rejected by Apple via Smashwords.  Since Apple is the major reason to publish through Smashwords, and since Smashwords meat grinder is a complication in and of itself, I unpublished my Olivia Outlaw work from Smashwords after Apple’s rejection of “Captured.”

Why did Apple reject “Captured?”  Because it “doesn’t publish that kind of story.”  What?  Say that again? Apparently, Apple has no idea what it publishes.  “Fifty Shades of Grey” was most certainly available at Apple.  Sylvia Day’s work is sprawled all over Apple. But – Apple doesn’t publish erotic romance. And yes, Apple said that.

The underlying problem is that like many people, the supposedly smart staff at Apple hears “erotic”, thinks “erotica” and imagines “pornographic.”   Their policies are as garbled as that thought process and to make it worse, they are inconsistently enforced.  And they appear to be not enforced at all for major publishers. Only indie authors’ must go through the indignity of having their erotic work screened by Apple’s confused, hypocritical porn police.


UPDATE 10:17 at 1:30 pm:  :  Sometimes, it’s hard being right – Publisher’s Weekly just linked to this UK story by the UK Telegrah.  It’s an interview with KOBO’s CEO over the whole “porn purge.” Notice the headline?  “KOBO porn scandal:   the end of self publishing?”  The publishers’ push isn’t so undercover anymore…..


In case you’ve been buried under a rock, vegetating with the ‘shrooms, or swimming with the ducks and haven’t heard – the Porn Prohibition has arrived.    You can catch up here via an excellent piece from The Digital Reader.

Basically, some publication dug up a story that combined porn and Amazon – I’m guessing that pub was very hungry for some dirt to boost ratings.  The pub found porn in Amazon’s Kindle store and after that story broke, reader hungry pubs from all over the world began digging around and finding similar books on all sites.  Under heavy fire from one of the strangest moral coalitions in history,  all the sites began ducking for cover and ditching porn right and left.

I’ll grant you – there are some HORRENDOUS things out there.  What’s more, the worst of the worst sell the most of the most.  But caught up in the great purge are some fine erotica and even erotic romance works by excellent authors – excellent SELF PUBLISHED authors.  Because the moral coalition or the etailer sites – likely pushed, poked and prodded by traditional pubs who may have even fed the story to the first pub – decided that only self-published erotica was bad.  Traditionally published erotica is fine.  (The moral distinction of that escapes me.  The common sense also escapes me – the etailers like Amazon, KOBO, Barnes and Noble are all siding with the publishers who stayed in business all these years by deciding people were too stupid to figure out what they wanted to read on their own.  People should only read what publishers thought they should be allowed to read.)

Anyway, Jeff Bezos, Amazon and all the others have joined the “our readers are idiots” bandwagon being pulled by the moral coalition and the traditional publishers.  The justification for all of it?  That “those books” are right there on digital shelves where children can see them.  The only solution is a prohibition style shelf sweeping of all erotic works by all SELF-PUBLISHED authors.  Why is that the only solution? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY SOLUTION THAT WILL HELP KEEP TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANIES IN BUSINESS.

The publishers are all so desperate at the surge in reader acceptance of indie work that they’ve forgotten that readers were never actually stupid.  The stupidity was always on the publishers side of the scale.  Yep,  I think the publishers finally drank their own Kool Aid.  The readers know there are lots of solutions that don’t rob them of their independence and their right to choose what they do and don’t want to read.  So the readers will likely wait it out until the hoopla dies down, things get back to normal, and they’re in charge again.  Because control has passed.  That horse has left the barn.  The old normal is dead.  Forever and always dead – Thank You God.

There are a couple of reasons all this concerns me so much, the largest of which is that I was just underway with my first erotic romance/erotica work which I plan to put out under a pen name.  It’ll be entirely separate from any of my deranged duckly doings.  See, a lot of writers of erotic romance/erotica make enough to write full time.  I think fate saw my intent and conspired with the publishers and the (not so) moral morons specifically to try to keep me tied to my day job.  (My boss may have even been in on the great conspiracy.  He may be even crazier than I am because he actually VALUES my legal writing/research.)

At the risk of tossing a dose of common sense big enough to put out the current witch-burning bonfires, I have a suggestion.  Why don’t ALL the sites concerned about keeping young eyes off of books they shouldn’t see agree on a standard.  They should require that everyone shopping on their site enter through a welcome screen at which they input their date of birth and certify their age.  Yes, people can lie, but people also show up with fake IDs and get into bars everyday.  We have to require some element of personal/parental responsibility, don’t we?

Requiring all visitors to a site to enter their age lets the etailer screen out all kinds of products.  Underaged people wouldn’t be able to see the wine or liquor section.  The sex toys and naughty nighties won’t parade by their eyes.  And all kinds of books will be screened out — because there are lots of books of all genres that people of certain ages may not be ready to read.  It won’t matter who publishes those books – the subjects will actually decide what is screened – and lest we forget, that’s allegedly the point of all this, right?

Never mind that those same kids can Google some terms and pull up stuff all over the internet that makes me – a MOST mature lady – go all wide eyed, look at Mr. Duck and say — really?  There are people who are into THAT?  I don’t know most of those sites but I’ll lay you odds that most teens could give me a list.  But never mind that — their young, impressionable minds could be protected by a simple welcome screen at which they enter their date of birth and certify their age.

Mind you, I don’t expect my common sense suggestion to gain any traction because NONE of this is actually about protecting young people.  It’s about a desperate desire to turn back the clock and keep all that self-published stuff from reaching into any more wallets.  Really, it’s almost sad.  Because we all know that as we speak, there are entrepreneurs all over the globe setting up adult oriented ebookstores and all of those people want to keep any more “naughty” money out of Jeff Bezos’ wallet.

Would it do any good to remind anyone that getting around the rules created a whole closet industry during the first prohibition?  Would it help to remind everyone that the first prohibition DIDN’T WORK EITHER?   Probably not, because desperation doesn’t leave room for facts or common sense.  It does leave room for a big pitcher of martinis though and the publishers can be glad of that once they realize that the power-shift to the readers isn’t a temporary phenomenon.

It’s a brand new world, but at least we can toast to it, right?

Via a piece in Forbes, I ran across some fascinating survey numbers from bestselling author Marie Force.   In case you’ve spent the last few years imprisoned in the Big Brother House and aren’t familiar with her work, I can tell you one thing that will tell you that she’s a great author.  Ready?  Her current book, “Lethal Attraction:  Against The Rules\Fatal Affair” is a collaboration with LINDA HOWARD, no less, put together by Harlequin’s HQN.  If your writing can keep up in that company, then it’s pretty danged fabulous.  Marie’s most recent solo effort is “Time for Love” and since that one’s self-pubbed – (all Marie and nothing but Marie/ like mine are all Mary Anne and nothing but Mary Anne), I bet she’d appreciate your checking it out as well.

But I digressed – as usual.  Okay, I’m boogling back to the point now.  The point is an oh-so-interesting survey that Marie conducted recently via Survey Monkey with about 2,951 people replying to questions put together by Marie and “about a dozen other authors.” The questions covered a number of areas, including preferred genre, preferred reading format, shopping preferences, and discovery tools.   The Forbes article is  “Reader Surveys Provide Insight, But How Much?” The title tells us that Forbes is going to disagree with Marie’s numbers – and it does.  It compares and contrasts them with a 2012 survey done by RWA (Romance Writers of America).

The first thing that caught my eye was the big ole’ important place where the two survey numbers agree – although Forbes wishes to quibble.  Both surveys agree that romance is the “King of Kings” – it dominates other genres in terms of sales.  In Marie’s poll, 81% of readers listed romance as their favorite genre with mystery coming in second, with only 5%of reader preferences.  That jives with the RWA numbers which showed that romance was the best-performing genre on bestseller lists in 2012 and generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 alone.   To me, those numbers mean that far more people prefer to read about love and desire than fear and pain.  It also proves that readers want more from a book’s ending than a “resolution” or a “solution” – they want a happy ending.


This is a brief update because there’s been (yet another) plagiarism scandal.   In this one, a would-be writer of  fan fiction was (allegedly) ripping off work by Lorelei James (One Tree Hill) and Renea Taylor (Beyond Right or Wrong).  Rilzy has donned her detective hat, done the “Sherlock Holmes” thing, and dug up the dirt.  Rilzy has the dirt on display HERE on her blog.   I won’t repeat the details.  To get the low down on this one, check out the linked blog.

I heard about this one from the Romance Divas forum.  It’s the best way to stay informed on all things romance.  If you write romance, you really, really should join.  I think there’s a screening process but hey – they let me in!  I was interested to read from her blog that Rilzy is a law student who wants to be a writer.  Be careful, Rilzy – sometimes law students who write grow up to be crazy duck ladies who are practicing attorneys.

Anyway, Rilzy waxed eloquent about her feelings regarding this apparent plagiarist – so I’m gonna quote her:

In addition to being really angered I was really happy with the support that all the writers showed for Lorelei James. We all understand how precious our work is and how personal. We all understand that what this silly, little girl (who read for a Literature and Writing Degree ironically) did was deeply invasive and just plain out wrong.

I take comfort in the fact that no matter how long it takes me to hone my craft, I would never resort to stealing someone’s work. I write because I have stories in me that need to come out. I don’t write for recognition or fame which is clearly what Alison Gilmore was after. This is what distinguishes writers from frauds. This is what distinguishes Lorelei James and Renea Taylor from Alison Gilmore.

— Rilzy – again – HERE.

I share my thoughts with the Divas and decided to post them here as well.  By all the ducks in the pond – like the brilliant folks who devote themselves to writing computer viruses, plagiarists mystify me. Even aside from the amorality of stealing other people’s thoughts and work, the motivation behind the theft escapes me.

If you’re hard-working enough and creative enough to go to all the trouble this writer apparently did and to mount a whole campaign of sorts behind it —  wouldn’t you think that this author would prefer to apply that creative effort to her own work?  The same thing puzzles me with the computer folk who spend tons of time and go to a mad amount of effort to write a virus and to hide it in something people use or will open.

What’s the point?  The writer could be working on her next book and the programmer could be coding the system that will kick Microsoft, Google and Apple to the curb.  Then they would be rewarded or acknowledged for their own efforts.

I don’t get it.  I just don’t get it.

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