Saturday, March 19, 2016

Still Sick

But slooooowly improving. This bug comes with a side of fatigue. My kiddo and I are just pooped. I'm on week 4. She's wrapping up week 3.

The asthma finally stopped. There's still gunk in my lungs so I'm not doing any hardcore aerobic activity anytime soon. Me being me, I got some kind of stomach bug/food reaction/food poisoning that reinforced the Augmentin's (aka Poop Blaster 5000) impact on my gut so last week was not fun in any way.

I took the kiddo to the ped two weeks ago hoping for antibiotics. There was a moment where she stopped getting better and started getting worse. I heard one cough and I knew she had a secondary infection.

But the ped didn't see it.

So she festered another week missing even more school and then finally qualified for antibiotics (sorry science, I know you like your data, but a mom always knows). I had my stomach thing and couldn't even leave the house so the hubby had to pinch hit on our second trip to the ped. I texted him the whole litany of symptoms and signs for him to read off to the ped.

My poor kiddo has been really gunky and has really suffered with this bug. Explaining the concept of being sick but not sick enough for antibiotics even though we knew she needed them was challenging. She was annoyed and I can't say I blame her.

And then my hubby, not being health inclined in any way, didn't fill the antibiotic prescription. He just brought the kiddo home and thought he was good. I pulled my kiddo aside (under the belief that she'd be easier to teach than my hubby*) and explained when you're sick and a doc gives you antibiotics, you fill the prescription immediately and take the first dose ASAP.

So while I was trying not to puke my guts out, I had to manage the antibiotics and medical stuff for the kiddo, too.  Plus I had a ton of stuff going on at work that could not wait. At one point I was making business calls, but my stomach couldn't make it through. So I would hang up, go be sick and then call people back.

Yeah. Not fun.

As for work...I've discovered there are some massive structural problems in publishing and in my genre in particular. While my new release was flailing, the news broke that spammers are so pervasive on Amazon that they've been walking away with millions (PLURAL!) of dollars a month from the shared KU pot.

So it's like a restaurant that makes wait staff split tips (I hated working for those places when I was in college), but before the tips are split, someone steals 20% off the top. The spammers have been skimming off the top for months. (A ma zon did nothing. NOTHING.)

Now, I'm not in KU, but as these spammers are stealing money (by the millions!!!!)  they are also eating up oxygen when it comes to visibility and discoverability across the board. Believe it or not, spamming A ma zon's algo is really effective and profitable. Spammers can outpace organic book sales without much effort.

(I now belong to every spammer forum I could find in the hopes of finding ideas I can use to create legitimate business strategies. Or, if not, hell, maybe I'll write make spam too. Quite of few of these assholes were walking away with six figures a month.)

As if that wasn't author in my genre is becoming a breakout phenomenon. She's at Fifty Shades of Grey levels. But where FSOG was three books, this author has 33. All of which took up the top third of the top 100 list in every single genre related to mine...just in time for my new release. I can't rank if a brand that strong is taking over the top 100. If I can't rank, my visibility and discoveribility won't improve and the money just won't be there.

I can't grow. I won't reach new readers. I'm locked out and so is every other author in the genre.

I did some scary math. This author will be at 40+% of the top 100 this year. By next year she'll be at 50%, if she keeps up her release schedule.  I don't think publishing has ever seen something like this. Her back list is huge and her fans just go from book to book. I've never seen an author pull 33 books up into the top 100 with one new release.

Most authors don't even have that many books in their back list or they're like Nora Roberts...there's enough time between new releases that readers already have the older books so there's no meteoric rise of the back list.

She's making seven figures a month.

Which is great. Good for her! That's amazing!

But it's killing the other authors in her genre.

So I'm over here scratching my head and trying to figure out if I can survive. And if I can't, do I care enough about another genre to make a run for it? I'm not sure.

*I love my hubby. He is awesome at so many things, but he doesn't do health or medical anything. Oh the stories I could tell you, but I'm out of time.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Still Sucking

I'm off prednisone but the asthma is still being difficult. It's mild-ish. I am hoping I can just live on albuterol until it goes back into its hole.

The asthma is mostly marked by coughing until I puke*. Or pee my pants.

So I now have a UTI.

Thanks, universe. How did you know I wanted to spend a month dealing with the fall out from the flu?

At least my abs and postural muscles are ripped.

My kiddo started back sliding tonight. So I'm watching her with an eagle eye. Hopefully it's just a minor setback triggered by too much activity.

My latest book is flopping hard. It's tough to pin point a root cause because objective metrics like sales rank and sales volume were very competitive with top performers in my genre. At the same time, the book doesn't seem to be growing legs and has almost no natural buoyancy.

I have a brand problem I think. At least that's one potential issue. I write too slow and thus release too slow to sustain fan volume. While I've tried (and tried and cried and read all the craft books) to write faster, I haven't had much luck speeding up my writing process. Partly because my plots tend to be complex and original--the idea being to compete on quality not volume, which is not working out for me so well right now--and partly because my brain refuses to outline or schedule plot points or generally cooperate in any way.

I actually wrote a 3000 word outline for my last book and then didn't follow it one whit.

I dunno. I spent today marketing my ass off. Markets where I have weak sales volume and the most room to grow, I offered readers a BOGO deal. Buy one, send me the receipt, get one. I'm on Facebook like ham in spam--ads, giveaways, snippets etc...  Readers do like the book, it's not like the fan base hates it--they either love it or have gone stale and disengaged from my brand. But for whatever reason, it's just not finding new readers.

We'll see. Not all of my marketing has hit yet so the end of the month may tell a better story.

*And for the know-it-all that invariably shows up on these posts and tries to tell me it's not asthma...guess what Einstein? The cough totally responded to albuterol, but outpaced the dosing schedule so I still coughed until I puked. So stick that up your ass and get it stuck in your colon.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I have a crushing headache thanks to albuterol and asthma induced sleep deprivation. So I'm typing in the dark without glasses because that sounded like a good idea to my head. The usual 'may not make any sense' disclaimer applies.

I've had a good run. Haven't been sick since what? August? So I really can't complain. I've been busy, writing, parenting, exercising, improving my diet. I also started volunteering with refugee families in my area, helping all these super adorable kids with their homework.

Naturally they got the flu and gave it to me!

The flu shot has been a dud for me three years in a row. I always get the flu. The shot doesn't spare me. Even the flu at reduced power is a pain in the ass and I'm tired of dealing with it year in and year out.

The asthma is refusing to calm down and is staying flared despite everything I've thrown at it. It's not horribly serious, but it is horribly persistent. I'm concerned that my five day burst will end, but the asthma will keep going. 

What do I do then?

Take steroids until my adrenals suppress? What?

Some life updates:


So we accelerated the kiddo in math and it has pretty much been an anxiety-ridden scream-fest for her. I heard on the news there's a town with this high-pitched screeching sound that they can't identify. I'm pretty sure that's the echo of my child's screams over math.

It doesn't help her teacher is in their first year and hasn't hit their stride yet. This means we get 8 pages of math homework at random intervals and it's always due the next day. I would've thought an education degree would've covered why that's not a great idea for kids aged 8 and under, but I guess not. Apparently, it's important to do math homework for four hours one night a week. 

The volume of homework interfaces with my kiddo's perfectionism and ends in a huge meltdown. So that's been fun. We're not going to continue with the acceleration next year. She has great math capability, but still hates math, and when we look at how much the entire family suffered with the math homework, it's not worth it. Also, the curriculum her school is using is pretty awful and I think she needed a more experienced teacher, which we aren't going to get any time soon. 

So we're backing off in the hopes of not making things worse.

I hate school. Elementary school is 95% crowd control, 5% education. It's mostly a waste of time. The kids are always waiting for that ten minutes of instruction that is actually at their level. I'm there volunteering every week, I see it in action. We're boring kids to death with crowd control. In trying to meet everyone's needs, we meet no one's. 

I don't know how you fix it. At least not easily. It gets better by high school, but you have to suffer the gauntlet of boredom that is elementary school and then the hormones of middle school to get to anything good. 

I just hope my kiddo doesn't lose her love of learning. She's spent her time at home this week (she's sick too) trying to teach herself French. She found a program online and has been working at it every day. Please, universe, don't let that focus and interest fizzle out!


I think my writing career is crashing and burning. It's possible I just suck ass, but there have also been so many structural changes in the industry that outright block book discovery that I suspect that's the bigger problem.

And probably my preferred genre is going soft. (Which I knew was coming but I had hoped I would survive it.)

I didn't expect my book to do super great (yep, I'm a writer and I just wrote super great. Ha. Enjoy feeling superior. It will take you far, I'm sure!), but I had hoped it would be profitable. Right now, it looks like I will lose money despite some pretty decent marketing efforts on my part.

I have no idea what to do. I enjoy writing. I would be happy to continue, but I hate the taxes and authors are at the mercy of corporate interests. Retailers will cut you off from readers if it serves their bottom line. I don't really control my own destiny. Not anymore. The open playing field is gone.

The people who are making big bucks now are spending $10,000-$100,000 in marketing. You have to buy visibility for your book now. You can't just write a good book that readers love. That's not enough. I have the fans and reviews to prove it.

Once I can breathe again, I'm going to have to see if there's anything here to salvage. I'd like to continue to work from home in some capacity. Hopefully I can find a way forward. I have done so many things right, there has to be a way to leverage it into something useful.