The Ins and Outs of Kindle Unlimited

Originally posted on layce gardner:

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As readers we adore Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. We each read at least 100 books a year. Our daughter reads, too. (Mostly graphic novels.) We each have our very own kindle. (I want to be buried with mine.) So it only makes sense financially, as a family, to invest in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

For those not in the know, here’s how Kindle Unlimited (KU) works: You pay a $10 per month subscription fee and you can then borrow an ‘unlimited’ number of books. You can check out up to ten books at a time. When you finish reading a book, you return it. Just like at a brick and mortar library.

It’s a pretty good deal for voracious readers. We pay $120 a year and we read 200 plus books a year. (We read both mainstream and Lesfic novels.) We have found some…

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Pond Adventures

The first time I saw the pond I fell in love with it. Layce and I weren’t living together yet. She told me she had a pond in the backyard and sent me a photo. It looked gorgeous.

pond

The following summer she gladly handed over the care and feeding of the pond. I felt special. I thought this was such a loving sacrifice. Here was this beautiful pond and she was essentially giving it to me. I had always wanted a pond.

I drained the winter sludge out. It wasn’t fun but in the summer I would hear the water tinkling over the rocks and it would all be worth it. I repainted it, sealed up the cracks, and installed the pump. Voila! My dream was complete.

Then during a deluge I discovered that all the worms in the yard somehow ended up in the pond. Next came the frog eggs. Emma cried as I committed tadpole genocide and screamed that I was a murderer. Then came the mosquito larvae-no tears were shed about that.

Year two-I ordered plants online and snails to go eco-friendly. We couldn’t use chlorine to keep it clean but the snails were supposed to do that job. No one told me about the prolific reproductive abilities of snails. So I figured we had a lot of snails so that meant the pond should be sparkling.

Some of the online plants grew but not like the photo on the internet showed. To add further indignation the snails were lazy. Every week the pond got browner and by the end of summer it stank like a septic tank. Then the pump failed. Luckily, it was September so I drained the pond and ordered a new pump for next year.

Year three-drain, repaint, chlorine and f—the plants. I stood out there glaring at the pond. Layce came out to help me put in new tubing. I attached the tubing to the pump only to discover it was too long. In the process of removing it from the pump I broke the attachment.

“I hate this pond. Did you build this pond? Why is it even here?” I glared at her.

“It came with the house, I swear,” Layce said as she gazed at the strewn pump parts, tubing and her red-faced spouse.

We found more tubing that proved an okay substitute. She fed it through the holes drilled in the rocks. Things went smoother except the pump basket with the filter in it kept floating.

“This pond is the bane of my existence. Ponds are nothing but work and they’re stupid. We should fill it in.”

“It would take tons of dirt,” Layce said.

She was right of course. We were stuck with the wretched thing. “In our next house we will not have a pond.”

I glared at the floating pump basket.

“Just put rocks around it and wedge it against the side. That’s what I used to do.”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “I thought you were being so nice me when you let me have the pond. You KNEW what a pain in the ass it was.”

“I just thought it was time to spread the joy,” she said.

I picked up a rock. She backed away. I’ll admit it crossed my mind but instead I got down on the ledge of the pond and wedged the pump instead.

And then I slipped and fell in the pond. I stood there fully clothed including shoes in a freezing cold pond up to my knees. I used a string of obscenities that will not be repeated here to protect the innocent.

Layce looked at me with big eyes. And to give her credit she did control herself until I laughed and then we both laughed.

I stood there ruminating on the circumstances that had brought me to this moment in time. What could I have done differently? How could this have been prevented? “I cannot believe this just happened. I have never even come close to falling in the pond. I hate this pond.”

Layce broke the spell. “Do you need help getting out?”

“Yes, please. I think the pond gods may have taken offense at my behavior.”

“Perhaps,” she said as I dripped and squeaked all the way to the back door.


 

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WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

“What have you done?” I asked Emma.

We have a lot of “What have you done” in our house. We have a lot of incidents that warrant the question. With three of us rather odd people cohabitating it can’t be helped.

I’ve decided that our family mission statement should be “What have you done?” We all say it to each other so often that it doesn’t carry the same psychological baggage as it does for other people. Most people usually have this face of extreme rage, complete despair, or utterly desperate amazement. But not us.

“What have you done?” This time referenced a puzzle. I stood there gazing down at the Ye Olde Book Store puzzle that Layce and I have been slowly putting together for the last week. We had sections with like-looking pieces in piles ready to eventually find and join their puzzle brethren. Then Emma went all math on them.

puzzle-piece

“I’ve taken each piece, and depending on how many outty pieces they have, put them in the one bowl, the two bowl , or the three bowl. Then there’s the bowl for the wonky pieces.”

I was trying to wrap my mind around this idea as I stared into a Tupperware container with puzzle pieces that had three outties in it. I looked back at the puzzle. I was completely at a loss. “But how do I know where to even begin to put it? There’s this big gaping hole here and here.” I pointed to the puzzle.

“You build up from the bottom,” Emma said.

I still wasn’t getting it.

Layce walked in and turned on the iPod that we had inherited from a friend pre-loaded with 3,147 songs on it. We liked to spend the afternoon puzzling and playing “Name that Tune.” It was glorious. She sat down and stared at the puzzle board.

“What have you done?” There’s that quintessential question again.

“She’s gone all mathy on us. You know how I feel about math. It’s like this mental torture chamber for me. I see a theorem and get the shakes.”

“It’s called deductive reasoning,” Emma elucidated.

“What have you done with my Tupperware? What am I supposed to do when we have leftovers?” Layce said.

tupper

“Use other Tupperware,” Emma said blithely.

I was on the verge of having a puzzle melt-down. A full blown what-have-you-done to the puzzle melt-down. Layce looked at me. “It’s just a puzzle,” she soothed.

I could feel tears threatening and a good foot stomping tantrum coming on. “I can’t do it this way! I have to have the visuals. I can’t be mathematical. This is cruel and inhumane. This is like living in a foreign country and not knowing the language. You’re hungry and need to pee and you don’t know the words.”

Emma looked distraught. “I can just dump them back in the box,” she quickly said.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Layce said. “Just sit down here and listen to the song. What song is it?” she asked me.  I knew she was just trying to distract me.

“The Rolling Stones, You can’t always get what you want,” I mumbled miserably.

Emma did her Puss-n-Boots face which makes you melt in your socks with remorse for saying or doing whatever it was you did. She emptied all the innies and outties and wonky pieces back into the box.

“See, all better,” Layce said. “And now you can wash all my Tupperware,” she said to Emma.

Going all mathy has its price to pay.


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Corsages and Chaperones

“Please, Mom, don’t let her do it,” Emma begged.

“It says right here that anyone can volunteer to chaperone the dance as long as you don’t have a criminal record and you’re not a perv,” I said. “I’m not either of those things.” I pointed at the paper containing the 8th grade formal dance information.

“Surely you realize that we live in a small town and anything you’ve ever done as a child will be remembered for the rest of your life and brought up frequently when you meet your classmates later on in life,” Layce said. “This includes Emma and her 8th grade dance. People will remember her crazy chaperone. She’ll never live it down.

“No one brings up the fact that you took the principal’s car for a joyride. All the way to Tulsa,” I retorted.

“Yes, but I moved. I don’t live in that town anymore.”

“You stole a car?” Emma asked her eyes big.

Layce glared at me. “I didn’t steal a car. I borrowed it.”

“Did you hotwire it?” Emma asked.

Layce glared at me again. “No, he left the keys on his desk and I took the opportunity to appropriate them while he was gone.”
car keys

“What were you doing in the principal’s office?” Emma inquired.

“I was getting a Student of the Year award,” Layce said.
student of the year

Emma and I both rolled our eyes. Everyone knows those awards are given out during a school assembly.

“Back to the topic at hand, I want to chaperone the dance. I seldom get the chance to have parental experiences because I didn’t come along until Emma was ten. I missed a lot.” I was seriously guilting them, but I wanted this bad.

“Are you going to wear the bunny ears?” Emma asked.

I was standing in the kitchen wearing the bunny ears. Sometimes a person just feels like putting on their bunny ears.

“Well, of course, they’ll go perfectly with my bar mitzvah suit.” I meant the tux I found at the thrift store that had been tailored for someone petite. It fit me perfectly. “Or I could wear my Bob Barker suit.” Another thrift store find—a small, green suit that also fit perfectly. “But the bunny ears won’t look as good.” The suit was a light green.

Emma put her hand in her head. “You can’t let her do this to me.” She gazed at her mother. And then she seemed to have an eureka moment. “Unless I can wear my white wig with my gray beret and the purple fox tail.”

“For the love of God neither one of you are going to the dance like that. I’ll never live it down.”

“You’re no fun,” I said pouting.

I didn’t get to chaperone but I did get to be the photographer. After the dance we lined up with all the other parents to pick up their kids. I wanted a picture of Emma with her boyfriend (he shall go unnamed to protect the innocent.)

“I don’t know how you’re going to get a picture with this line of cars,” Layce said.

“You’re going to stop and I’ll hop out real quick and get a photo,” I replied, scanning the crowd for Emma.

“This is a round-about line. You can only stop to pick up your kid not get out of the car to take pictures.”

“That rule doesn’t apply for school dances.”

“You do realize you’re breaking the Social Contract?” Layce said.

I should never have told her about the Social Contract. It requires that one doesn’t lie, cheat, steal or otherwise break the rules for purely selfish reasons—it’s the basis of a civilized world.

“I believe there is a clause in there that states one can be inconvenient during once-in-a-lifetime sentimental moments involving children.” I spotted Emma and her boyfriend. “Stop right here.”

I grabbed the camera and leapt out of the car. I’d forgotten I was wearing my house slippers. I got my pant leg caught on the door handle. It hiked my pant leg up to mid-thigh. Emma was mortified as I disregarded the wardrobe malfunction due to time constraints.

“What’s wrong with your pants?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said as I pulled the errant pant leg down. “Now hurry, stand next to your boyfriend (who still shall remain unnamed), we’re the breaking the Social Contract.

I glanced over to find boyfriend’s mother taking photos as well. We smiled at each other. “I finally found a corsage in town,” she said.
wrist corsages
I looked puzzled. What the hell was a corsage? Was she referring to fancy undergarments? And if she was why was she telling me? Emma must have seen my bewilderment.

She held up her wrist. “See, isn’t my CORSAGE beautiful.” Corsages evidently were a bunch of flowers all squished together to make a bracelet.

“Oh, right.  Yes, it’s very nice,” I said.

Emma got in the car and banged her head on the back of the headrest. “Oh, my God. That was horrid.”

“We’ll get through it,” Layce said soothingly.

“I can’t wait until next week when we go for high school registration and we get the tour of the school,” I said.

“You can’t ask a bunch of questions, promise me,” Emma said.

“Well, some questions at least. I think it’s my duty as a parent to inquire of fire exits, how often are the fire extinguishers are checked, if there’s an evacuation plan, how a lock-down works…”

“Mom….please,” Emma said.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” I muttered. They had no idea about the outfit I planned on wearing. It was going to be a surprise. I think they’ll be pleased.

 

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THE JUICE DEBACLE

It worked when my mom did it. She’d chopped up a bunch of veggies, put them in her Ninja and swirled the hell out of them. When she’d first told me about her Ninja I thought perhaps she’d hired a security system—as in a small green turtle with karate moves.

She poured the puke-colored mixture in a glass and we both studied it. “I think it’s okay. Let’s give it a try,” she said brightly.
kale

My father walked by without making eye contact. “Do you want a veggie smoothie?” I asked.

“No. If I’m going to drink my vegetables I’ll have a can of V-8.  Preferably with Stoli,” he said.

stoli

“I think that defeats the purpose,” my mother replied. We sanctimoniously toasted to our good health. We drank it. It tasted okay.

When I got home I took a look in our vegetable compartment. We had spinach, carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers. That seemed like a good mix. I figured I’d make my own V-8 sans the Stoli. I added some garlic, a dash of ketchup and this hemp seed stuff we’d been using in our oatmeal. It’s supposed to help with inflammation. This was like nature’s perfect food. I juiced away. I took a taste. It didn’t taste like V-8.  Maybe some salt and pepper. I whirled again.

v8-vegetable-juice-12oz-bottles-12ct-case-1

I poured two glasses and took one to Layce. She was reading in the den. “I brought you lunch.”

“What is that?” She said, studying the glass.

Now, I admit it didn’t look good. It was kind of an orange, green, and chunky kind of thing. In hindsight, I should have used a non-see-through glass. The presentation would’ve been better.

“It’s a veggie smoothie, super healthy, low in calories and tastes like V-8,” I said, putting on my best imitation of a used car salesman. “Just try it.”

“You go first,” Layce said.

“All right,” I said. I took a large swallow and managed not to gag. “See, it’s fine.”

Layce eyed me suspiciously. I took another swallow. “I can feel myself getting healthier just standing here.”

She sniffed it. She tried to swirl it around like a wine taster. It didn’t budge. Finally she took the plunge. Now in hindsight again—don’t stand in front of someone when they’re having a veggie smoothie for the first time. She blinked. She tried to swallow, she gagged. And then she spewed a veggie smoothie projectile that managed to avoid hitting the carpet because it hit me instead.

I looked down at my T-shirt. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“It needs definitely needs vodka to kill the taste,” Layce said.

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How Much Money Does a Novelist Make?

HOW MUCH MONEY DOES A NOVELIST MAKE?

By Layce Gardner & Saxon Bennett

As Indie authors who have had three best-selling novels in the past twelve months AND who have also had eighteen novels published with a small lesbian publisher, we are often asked this question. We don’t normally talk about finances and how much money we make but in this case we want to make an exception.

MYTH: Authors make more money if you buy their book directly from the publisher’s website.

TRUTH: Authors do not make more money. The PUBLISHER makes more money if you buy directly from their website.

That is why publishers hold on to a book at their website for a month or more before putting it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or other platforms. They make more money at their website. But they still pay the author the same amount regardless.

Here’s a typical breakdown of monies the author sees from sales on different platforms: (some authors may make more or less than others.)

PRINT BOOKS

With a publisher an author makes up to 8 percent on the cover price. If you buy a print book for $16, the author makes $1.28. Regardless of where the book is bought, the author makes $1.28 per book. That means if 100 books are sold the author makes $128.

By the same token, the publisher makes $1,472 per every 100 print books sold. Unless it’s at Amazon. Amazon only gives the publisher 70 percent of every book sold. That is why publishers hold their books on their website and urge readers to buy from their website. Because the PUBLISHER makes less money at Amazon.

To put this in perspective, imagine that you are working for a company that pays you a salary of $50,000 per year. But they take 92 percent of your salary and put it back in their own pocket, giving you only $4,000 for the year. And you still have to pay taxes on that 4 grand! That means you bring home $76 a week before taxes.

Indie authors vary on how much they make with a print book. It depends on the cover price they set, how big the book is and who they use to print the book. Saxon and I use Create Space and their print on demand services. Create Space then offers the book for sale everywhere, including bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

For our latest book, Kiss & Tell, we set the cover price at $12.99. That means for each book sold (70,000 words) we make approximately $4. For every 100 print books sold we make $400.

For Indie authors, print books are only a drop in the bucket of total sales. Print amounts to a mere 1-2 percent of our sales. We do it mainly to have books to autograph and hand out.

eBOOKS

Publishers typically pay an author 15 to 25 percent per ebook. Again, some authors make more and some make less, but this seems to be industry standard. If an ebook is for sale on the publisher’s website for $10 then the author (at 25 percent) makes $2.50. If the ebook is bought on Amazon for $10 then the author makes $2.50. The author makes the same no matter where the book is purchased.

Indie authors make considerably more money from their ebooks. If an Indie author has a book for sale on Amazon for $10, they will make $7.00 from that sale. (Give or take a few pennies that Amazon takes for downloading fees.) If the Indie author sells 100 copies they make $700.

MYTH: The Amazon top 100 doesn’t help book sales.

TRUTH: The Amazon top 100 means A HELLUVA LOT more book sales.

I have had three books in the Amazon top 100 of Lesbian Romance in the past year and have pieced together the following information on have many sales it takes to reach a spot in the top 100.

Amazon ranking (Lesbian Romance)                                        How many sales per day

50 – 100                                                                                                         10-15

30-50                                                                                                              15-20

10-30                                                                                                              20- 50

6-10                                                                                                                50-100

1-5                                                                                                                  100 or more

Our book More Than a Kiss was Number One in Lesbian Romance for six months. Each day we sold between 100-175 ebooks per day. We made $8,000 in the first month of sales. To date we have sold over 6,000 copies and are still selling.

To make matters more clear about the difference between authors with publishers and Indie authors: One year with her publisher Layce made $252 total. In our first year as an Indie author we made $28,500. And we are in no way exceptional. We have talked with other Lesfic Indie authors who have made much, much more.

All the figures discussed in this blog come from our own experience and from talking to authors who are with publishers. It has also been brought to my attention that Sapphire Books pays their authors considerably more than most other Lesfic publishers.

NUCLEAR POPCORN

“I’ll get the movie streaming and you make the popcorn,” Layce said.

“Sure,” I said. I’d never actually made microwave popcorn before but I’m all about new experiences. My first mistake was not reading the directions. I mean I’d watched Emma make popcorn. If a kid could do it, a grown-up with more skills shouldn’t have a problem.

or pop

I put the bag in the microwave. I pondered how it was that people could screw up popcorn. In every office environment there was always the idiot who’d burn the popcorn and stink up the whole break room.

“How come I don’t hear the popcorn popping?” Layce said, as we both studied the television screen where Netflix refused to load saying we didn’t have an internet connection.

“It’s not done,” I replied. Layce pressed buttons on the remote. Still no luck. “Get Emma, she’ll fix it,” I suggested.

The microwave beeped and I pulled out a flat bag of popcorn. What the hell? There was a slightly acrid smell. “I think we have a defective bag of popcorn here.”

Layce handed Emma the remote and came over to check out the defective bag of popcorn. “What did you do?”

“I put it in the microwave for three minutes,” I said.

“Did you turn the turbo-power down?”

“What???” The microwave had blast off capabilities? Who knew?

“Yes, turn it down, here just press this button and take it down.”

Layce handed me another bag of popcorn. I put it in the microwave and turned the turbo-power down to fifty percent. I still didn’t understand why the popcorn didn’t pop because the microwave zapped it too much. Hot is hot. Popcorn should pop when it’s hot. I didn’t care what anyone said. The bag was obviously defective. Orville Redenbacher probably had a disgruntled employee who wanted to mess with an unsuspecting popcorn consumer and put in reject kernels.

“How’s it going over there?” Layce said.

“Got it all under control,” I said, peering into the microwave—nothing appeared to be happening. The microwave dinged. The bag was still flat. “I think we’ve got another bag of defective popcorn over here.” The disgruntled employee must have been really pissed off. He’d gotten the whole box.

Layce returned to the kitchen. “What did you do?”

“Just what you said. I turned the turbo power thing down,” I said defensively.

“Down to what?”

“Fifty-percent.”

“It needs to be a seventy-five.”

“Well, why didn’t you just say that?” I replied peevishly. This popcorn thing was getting annoying.

“At least you didn’t burn it this time.”

She put the bag back in, amped up the turbo on the microwave and set it for three minutes. It turned out perfect. “I did it!” I called out. I was ecstatic. Evidently the whole batch wasn’t defective.

“Impressive,” Layce said. She and Emma were still messing with the internet problem.

Confidently, I put in my bag of sea salt and caramel popcorn, set it for three and a half minutes just like the package said. I figured since it was a different kind of popcorn maybe I should read the instructions. They were evidently there for a reason.

caramel pop

Since I had three and a half minutes I went to the check out the television problem.

“Did you ever press play?” Emma asked. She glanced at her mother.

“No, why would I? It said we didn’t have a connection so why would I press play? What was there to play?” Layce said defensively.

Emma pressed play and the movie came up. “Geez, mom.”

I rolled my eyes. “Takes a kid to figure it out,” I muttered.

“What’s that smell?” Emma said. She’d missed the early debacle.

Layce looked at me. “What have you done?”

“Nothing. I followed the directions.”

We all ran to the kitchen. I opened the microwave and a huge cloud of acrid, burnt, nose-burning smoke poured out. The smoke alarm went off. Layce grabbed the bag, and flung it on the counter. (See attached photo.  This was after it had cooled down and we’d de-smoked the house.)

005

Emma ran to the back door and opened it. Layce swatted at the smoke alarm with a broom until it came crashing down, made one last peep and stopped.

I whipped out dishcloths and wet them in sink as smoke continued to pour out of the microwave. “Here, put these on,” I said, wrapping mine around my face so I looked like an old western bank robber.

“Why?” Layce said.

Emma didn’t hesitate. She put hers on. “Smoke inhalation. You can die from it. I saw it on iFunny.”

I snatched the bag off the counter and got on the ground, army-crawling my way to the back door.

“What is she doing?” Layce asked Emma.

“Smoke rises, we better get down.”

“I am not crawling around on the floor,” Layce said. She opened the front door and got the fan out of Emma’s room.
Through the cloud of smoke, Layce said, “You are never, ever allowed to make popcorn. Is that understood?”

“Who knew such a thing was possible? I’m telling you it’s defective popcorn,” I replied standing out on the back porch with Bear. She was no dummy. The house stunk bad. Emma joined us.

“No, the person making the popcorn is defective.” Layce said.

I will never look at another packet of microwave popcorn without trepidation and a healthy respect for its capabilities. Who needs tear gas when there’s popcorn for making terrorists evacuate a building?

“Maybe we should go out to a movie,” I suggested.

“I’ll get my coat,” Emma said.

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