Categories
General Writing

E-books or Print?

For me, I think I will always prefer to have a real book in my hands. It just feels better to have a real book that I can hold, complete with pages that make a slight rustling sound as I physically flip the page like some old-timer still oblivious to the newfangled technology.

Besides, I spend so much time in front of screens as it is, it’s nice to get a break.

But I have to admit, since starting to publish my own books as e-books, they’ve grown on me. I’m getting used to reading e-books, even if it isn’t my first choice. And it’s nice that you have more options so readily available, many of which are free and all of which are cheaper than a print book.

How do others feel? I’m reading more books in e-format than I ever thought I would now, but I think if I were rich, I’d just burn the extra money on physical copies.

Regardless of your preference, all of my works are available in either paperback or e-book formats.

Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom. Previews and additional links can be found here: All My Works

Otherwise, my stories about one woman taking more than one man at a time may be more your speed.

Categories
Erotica Uncategorized Writing

Please Review a Free Copy of Strictly Business

If you’re interested, please head over to BookSprout to pick up a free copy of Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom. The copy is free! All I ask is that if you enjoyed it, please leave a review at your favorite retailer (or multiple). Amazon is preferable, but you can choose another if you would like.

I’m still learning the ropes for a lot of the self-publishing game. One of my challenges has been figuring out how to get reviews on the books I’ve written and published. I tried BookSprout with On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful and at least got a few reviews.

The first 20 reviewers should be able to get a copy for free. Again, that link is: https://booksprout.co/arc/59249/strictly-business-tormenting-tom

A preview for Strictly Business is here: https://aliciastillsauthor.design.blog/2021/01/07/preview-for-strictly-business-tormenting-tom/

Categories
Erotica Writing

Strictly Business Discounted Through 2/15

Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom is on sale at a discounted price via Smashwords now through February 15, 2021. Rather than $2.99, you can pick up a copy for $1.79 using coupon code UQ25F (which is also on the checkout page).

While you’re there, feel free to check out the other featured deals currently running on the site to see if you find you’re next favorite read.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Smashwords

This is part 3 of 3 of my reviews of the self-publishing platforms I’ve used so far. Parts 1 & 2 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, respectively, are already up.

Smashwords may be lesser known, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the site. It may not have the name recognition of Amazon and B&N, but it seems to hold its own fairly well.

You can find my works on Smashwords here.

PROS

1. More Retailers

Unlike Amazon and B&N, Smashwords has a service where they will distribute your e-book to other retailers. I think this option is great, and it eliminates the need to upload your book to each retailer individually and to make changes on each retailer’s site when updates are warranted. It’s a big time-saver in that sense. Plus, you achieve a wider distribution beyond just Smashwords.

2. Top Royalties

Smashwords pays 80% royalty. This isn’t completely straightforward, but sales directly on Smashwords pay an 80% royalty rate, regardless of the price of your book (minimum of 99 cents). You can set an optional affiliate payment, which is automatically set at first to 11% unless you opt out or change it. But essentially, anyone that refers a reader to Smashwords using an affiliate code can get 11% of the proceeds of a sale of your book (or different amount, depending on what you set it at).

In my experience, most sales don’t come via an affiliate. I don’t like losing out on 11% when it happens, but I also appreciate that without the affiliate, I wouldn’t have made the sale, So there’s that.

Additionally, if your book is priced at under $2.99, you still get this higher royalty rate, which differs from Amazon (but no longer B&N, as of 2/1/2021). And there is no reduction based on location of purchaser.

If your book is in the premium catalog – meaning it is getting distributed to other retailers like Kobo, Apple, Scribd, etc. – the other retailer takes 30% and Smashwords takes 10%. So you still end up with a 60% royalty if it isn’t an affiliate sale. This is great on its own due to the ease of getting your book out to more places, but there’s an additional benefit if your book is under $2.99. If you publish via B&N and have a book priced at 99 cents, you would get a 40% royalty rate. If you go through Smashwords, you still get this 60% rate. (**Update** B&N now has a 70% royalty, regardless of e-book price; however, the above analysis still applies for other retailers).

3. Strong Sales

Of course it could just be my experience up to this point, but I’ve found that the sales through Smashwords have been strong. Nearly as strong as using just Amazon, actually.

4. Affiliate System

I like the affiliate system, both in that affiliates have some motivation to link to my books, but also in that I can be an affiliate and potentially add revenue by directing others to Smashwords or particular books/authors.

5. Quick publication

At least to Smashwords, itself. My books are available on Smashwords in a matter of minutes. It takes a day or two to get to other retailers, but for Smashwords itself, it’s nearly immediate.

6. Coupons

You can add coupons and they are available immediately. Smashwords also has a section for books that are currently on sale at a discounted price or books that are listed for free.

But, unlike B&N, if you are looking at a book that has a coupon, they actually tell you the book is discounted and what the coupon code is.

CONS

1. Worse Ease-of-Use

I’ve found that the formatting needed to be acceptable on Smashwords for their premium catalog status to be far more difficult than Amazon and B&N. It’s no issue if you only want to publish on Smashwords, but if you want to go to other retailers, you have to format it in a very particular way using an older version of Word. I understand that part of this is due to needing to convert to multiple formats due to differences amongst retailers, but it also feels like it could be better-automated in 2021.

2. No Ability to Use Coupons at Retailers

While I love that I can put my books on sale at Smashwords (like Hooky On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful, and On His Orders: Entertaining Three currently are), this doesn’t carry over to retailers. It would be nice to be able to have a consistent price/promotion across all retailers. But, since I don’t have an account with other retailers and, because even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to add a coupon published through someone else, I can’t add a comparable coupon.

3. Smashwords is Relatively Unknown

I think this one speaks for itself. Most people haven’t heard of Smashwords and don’t go to it first. Again, my sales there have been fine, but I think it’s still lacking in some name recognition for a lot of consumers.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that I think Smashwords is fantastic. It has great royalties and it distributes to other retailers. It makes wider distribution easier with no need to make multiple stops when changes are needed.

My workaround to the hassle to format correctly has been to have all of my formatting preset in a document that I can then past my books into, applying the relevant formatting to each section. I think it took me about 20 minutes to format Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom this way.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Barnes & Noble Press

**Update** As of 2/1/2021, Barnes & Noble has changed its royalty rates so that it is a flat 70% for e-books with no delivery fees and without maintaining a tiered system based on book price. Which is fantastic. Naturally, I attribute the change to my post below.

This is part 2 of 3 of my reviews of the self-publishing platforms I’ve used so far. The first one dealt with Amazon and can be found here: Review of Amazon.

You can find my works currently with Barnes & Noble here.

PROS

1. Large Network

Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble has a very large platform of dedicated customers. Unlike Amazon, it’s still largely dedicated to books. This gets your book in front of potentially millions of new customers that prefer to shop for books through B&N.

2. Ease of Use

Again, B&N is easy to use, although I would have to give the edge to Amazon on this one. I think it’s still pretty straightforward and not too much work for someone with a little bit of computer literacy to figure out, though. In particular, B&N makes it much easier to add your books to the appropriate categories, whereas Amazon keeps that formula much more of a puzzle, at least for getting your books added to certain subcategories.

3. Straightforward Royalties

**Update** As referenced above, the royalty system changed as of 2/1/2021. I’m keeping the below just for historical purposes. But this royalty system is even better now – 70% for all e-books, regardless of price.

The royalty system on B&N doesn’t appear to have any tricks or gimmicks about it. You get 65% for any e-book priced at $2.99 or higher and 40% for any e-book priced between 99 cents and $2.98. They don’t charge you a delivery fee and they don’t reduce your higher royalty rate for something less on the basis of location of the purchaser.

There’s so much to figure out when trying to self-publish for the first time that I think this benefit is bigger than some would initially think. It’s nice to have this aspect laid out in a simplistic, unchanging way.

4. Better Royalties

In comparison to Amazon, that is. At least that’s been my experience. Amazon likes to tout that it has a 70% royalty rate, but, as discussed in my review of Amazon, that’s actually pretty misleading. When they charge a delivery fee and reduce your royalty for sales in many countries, I’m sure I get less than the 65% that B&N provides. Plus, of course, 40% on lower priced publications is 14% higher than what Amazon provides.

5. Sales & Coupons

B&N gives authors the ability to add coupons to your books without having to enroll them in a program that demands exclusivity to B&N. In face, On His Orders: Entertaining Three is currently on sale at Barnes & Noble (coupon code BNPORDERS50).

CONS

1. Coupons Not Automatically Provided

From what I can tell, even though B&N lets authors add coupons whenever they want, it doesn’t list them as being “on sale” or “discounted,” and it doesn’t automatically apply the coupon. They don’t even appear to tell customers what the code is, meaning you would have to get the code elsewhere. So, you know. If you don’t have a big network, the coupon doesn’t do much good.

2. Sales Lag Behind Others

Perhaps this has just been my experience, but the sales on B&N don’t match what I see elsewhere. B&N has a huge network, but if it doesn’t translate into sales, the network size didn’t provide a benefit.

3. Slow Publication Times

I know B&N’s systems had a hiccup a while ago that slowed publication, but I’ve found that they take much longer than most retailers to add a publication to their available inventory. I asked customer service about it once, and I received a response. Two weeks later and right after my book was finally made available for sale.

4. No Unlimited Reading Program

While Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program has some real drawbacks, it is a nice service that I would gladly use if it didn’t require exclusivity. It would be great if B&N offered something similar. I think it’s helpful for authors – particularly new authors – to get their books in front of more people.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that if I were going to get rid of using one of the three retailers I currently use, it would be B&N. Their royalties are good, their ease-of-use is pretty good, and they have a large network. But, it hasn’t translated to sales, and they negate one of their biggest perks (the ability to add coupons whenever you want) for authors without a sizeable following with their deficiencies in the coupons feature.

But if you aren’t locked into exclusivity with another retailer, it’s easy enough to get published on B&N, so there’s really nothing to lose. It just seems like this would be a better option for an author that already has an established following.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Books on Sale!

Three of my books on Smashwords are currently on sale through the end of the month. When you go to purchase, you’ll be provided with a coupon code to enter for your discount. I give the code below, but Smashwords will provide it as well. at checkout. On His Orders: Entertaining Three is discounted on Barnes & Noble as well.

Please check them out and leave me a review if you enjoyed reading them! I love to hear feedback from readers.

Hooky is priced at 99 cents. Coupon code is EU56C.
On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful is priced at $1.25. Coupon code is TE45L.
On His Orders: Entertaining Three is priced at $1.25. Coupon code is CX35Y.
It is also on sale on Barnes & Noble at the same price. The coupon code at B&N is BNPORDERS50. B&N sale price doesn’t take effect until January 16 due to their policies.
Categories
Erotica Writing

Review of Amazon/KDP for Self-Publishing

One of the most common questions I see from others trying to become self-published authors is perhaps the most obvious one: where can I self-publish my works? There are a few options for publication and I’ll start with the biggest: KDP through Amazon. I’ll address Barnes & Noble and Smashwords in later posts.

My Amazon author page is here, by the way: http://www.amazon.com/author/aliciastills.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m a huge expert on the matter or anything, but I’m also not going to blow smoke and tell Internet strangers that I make $10,000 a month publishing erotica. Seriously, why do so many people trying to scam others into paying for their publication assistance pick $10,000 a month when they’re making up income? It’s a nice, round number, but also completely fabricated.

But anyway, the point of this post isn’t to try to sell anyone on anything or to toot my own proverbial horn. I think that getting into this can be confusing and I just want to break down my impressions and experiences to help anyone else who’s thinking of giving this a go.

PROS

1. Large Network

Amazon has a huge distribution network and they seem to reach the largest audience. For anyone who’s trying to get their book in front of the most people, Amazon provides a pretty good platform for that.

2. Ease of Use

I’ve found that using Amazon’s services to get your e-book (and paperbacks, for that matter) ready for publication has been the most user-friendly. I used Amazon/KDP first, so really, it was a bit of a shock to use a different service after that to see just how far they lagged behind Amazon in terms of ease of use.

3. Highest Number of Sales

Again, it’s been my experience that Amazon has been able to get my books in front of the most people, resulting in higher sales on this platform than I’ve seen on others.

4. Kindle Unlimited Program

Okay, so this one appears on both the pros and cons list and it seems to invoke strong feelings from many self-published authors. I can see the valid benefits and drawbacks to the program, so I think it’s only fair that it appears on both the pros and cons.

For those that don’t know, Kindle Unlimited (“KU”) is an optional program when you self-publish on Amazon’s KDP platform. KU members pay a fixed price for the ability to read as much as they want of any book enrolled in the KU program. In exchange, authors receive royalties based on the total number of unique page reads they receive on the KU program each month. It gets your book in front of more people, it increases your chances of reviews (hopefully positive), and it gets you a share of the money in the KU fund.

Additionally, when you’re enrolled in KU, you have the ability to create “countdown deals,” which is when you temporarily lower the price of your book. It can either remain at one fixed lower rate for the entire length of your promotion, which is up to one week, or it can increase in steps, depending on how you want to structure it. Alternatively, you can also choose to do a free e-book giveaway instead. Your free days do not have to be consecutive. It’s easy to set up and use.

Finally, enrolling a book in KU opens authors up to a 70% royalty rate in five additional countries, rather than the 35% they would get if not enrolled in KU.

5. Fast Publication

Amazon processes submissions pretty quickly and I usually see my books available for purchase in less than a day. They aren’t the fastest, but given their sheer size, it’s a pretty quick turnaround.

CONS

1. Your Book Can Get Lost

It’s the other side of the coin to having a large network. Sure, there are a lot of potential customers, but there are also an enormous number of books, increasing the chances that your book gets lost in the shuffle.

2. Royalty Rates Are Confusing and Don’t Make Sense

**Update** This is even a more salient drawback in light of changes implemented by Barnes & Noble on 2/1/2021. B&N now provides a flat royalty rate of 70% for all e-books, which makes Amazon’s even more ridiculous and not as good.

Personally, I think they could easily have provided clearer explanations of their royalty rates. You have to price your book at $2.99 or higher in order to qualify for the 70% royalty rate. However, just because you meet all qualifications to receive the 70% royalty rate, you still might only get 35%. I found out that your royalty rate also depends on what country the buyer is located.

As far as I have been able to tell, this is something that is unique to Amazon, as none of the other publishers I’ve used find it necessary or appropriate to reduce royalty rates based on the buyer’s country. It doesn’t make sense to me why a buyer’s location should impact royalty rates, particularly when this is only applied by Amazon.

They also will take a delivery fee if you are enrolled in the 70% royalty rate.

3. Royalty Rates Are Worse Than Others

At 35%, KDP is the lowest royalty rate I’ve seen for e-books priced under $2.99. Barnes & Noble is 40% (**Update B&N is now 70%) and Smashwords can vary, but would still be at least 49% . The breakdown of that is that Smashwords’ partners take 30%, Smashwords takes 10%. There might be an affiliate fee, which is initially set for authors at 11%, but you can opt to give a higher rate or nothing at all.

And again, even if you are enrolled in the 70% royalty rate program, you still might get bumped down to 35% depending on the country of the buyer. I’ve found that somewhere around 15% of my sales are coming from people in countries with a 35% royalty rate, regardless of my election. Additionally, they also have a slightly higher delivery fee in the 70% election (which is waived for 35%). So, at the end of the day the 70% is cut down by quite a bit, especially depending on where your sales are coming from. Even though Barnes & Noble has its higher rate set at 65%, the royalty rate overall ends being better there. And that was before B&N improved its rates even more.

4. Kindle Unlimited Program

As promised, KU appears on the cons list as well. For all of its benefits, I still don’t have my books enrolled in KU. I did have all except for the last one, Strictly Business: Tormenting Tom, enrolled initially, but declined to renew. You make some additional money, but not much. Borrows from the KU program really drops off, too, so there is limited usefulness.

But what really bothers me about KU is that you are required to give KDP exclusivity rights while a book is enrolled in KU. Not only can you not use other publishers, but you can’t even make more than 10% of your book available on your own site.

More than that, you can’t put your book on sale or do a free giveaway if you are not enrolled in KU. There is no reason, aside from trying to force authors into enrolling in KU, despite Amazon taking a very large portion of the sales proceeds, anyway.

Also, yes, you are open to the 70% royalty rate in five new countries if enrolled in KU, but I don’t think I’ve even sold any copies in any of those countries. Maybe I have with this last round and I’m sure I will evenaturally, but that benefit is pretty limited.

Don’t get me wrong – they have a great platform and what they provide is great. But they definitely leverage their enormity to boost their bottom line at all turns.

Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is that Amazon is great for self-publishing. I wish that KU was a better deal for authors and that 70% royalty applied to sales in all countries, but it’s easy to use and has shown the best sales so far. It’s my first stop for publishing and will probably remain so going forward.

Categories
Erotica Writing

Free E-Book Giveaway

2020 just keeps getting more and more unpleasant for my family and I as the year goes on. As a result, I haven’t had as much of a chance to finish the writing projects I’ve been working on or to pay as much attention to the ones I’ve already published as I’d like.

But, for some good news, the E-Book of On His Orders: Entertaining Three will be free on Amazon from October 8 – 12. I would love to see this downloaded and to get a few reviews.

Categories
Erotica Swinging Writing

Preview for On His Orders: Entertaining Three

The second part of the On His Orders series is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The second part of our story fast forwards a couple of years and sees our main character dutifully taking on three men at her husband’s direction. A preview is below:

____________________________________________________________________

“Perhaps we can finish one more challenge before we get to the room?” my husband asked. “Maybe if you both work together to give her an orgasm on our way, she’ll forgive us all. What do you think, hun?”

I shrugged my shoulders before pressing the call button for the elevator and stayed looking ahead. “I suppose they could try,” I replied to my husband. “But they don’t have much time. The elevators are slow, but I don’t think they’re up for it.”

I knew they could do it. I was so close to cumming back in the bar that I was frustrated that I had to hold it back. Public sex always made me cum fast.

The doors opened and we stepped in. No one else joined us and Nathan and Matt quickly positioned themselves on either side of me. With my husband standing two feet away, both Nathan and Matt ducked their heads down and began kissing my neck. I closed my eyes and could feel four hands on my body. Matt had a hand inside the front of my dress and was playing with a nipple. His other hand slid down the back of my dress until it reached the bottom before connecting with my skin once more. I could feel his hand slide up swiftly until he reached my ass, the tips of his fingers sliding into my very wet pussy from behind.

At the same time, one of Nathan’s hands pressed into the small of my back while the other slid up the front of my dress and started massaging my clit. The dual attention and the change in elevation from the elevator ride caused me to get light-headed and my head to spin; I doubt I could have stayed standing if it weren’t for the two men holding me up. I was so close to cumming when the elevator bell sounded out to let us know we had reached our floor that it was all I could do to hold back my orgasm in case someone was waiting to get on.

The guys removed their hands and mouths from my body just as the doors were starting to open, leaving me to hastily and unsuccessfully attempt to pull my dress down. When the doors opened, we saw that no one was there. “Lucky for you three,” said my husband. “Looks like you still have some time to finish that challenge.”

My husband stood in the elevator doorway, holding the door open and keeping it from traveling to a different floor, but also keeping us in view of the hallway lining the rooms. Nathan and Matt wasted little time in returning to their previous position. I continued right where I left off, feeling myself reach the point of no return within seconds. I stuck my arm out, blindly feeling for my husband’s body and pulling him towards me. I kissed him deeply for several seconds as my orgasm built throughout my body, breaking away from him when I could no longer focus on his lips. 

Categories
Erotica Writing

On His Orders Countdown Deal

A countdown deal for On His Orders: Faithfully Unfaithful is set to run from August 14 – 21. It’s priced at 99 cents for the week, so please, take advantage of the sale and leave a review.

Happy reading!