This post is about money … and how much it costs to self-publish.
A lovely writer was asking me about book covers for her new book that Createspace (the printed book arm of Amazon) said should be out in 2-3 months. Wai … What? *hear a needle scraping across an album* Before I could tell her about a wonderful cover artist, I needed her to explain to me about what Createspace had to do with when her book would be released.
Well, she’d paid them $1400 to “self-publish” her book. I almost fell over backwards. After I recovered I asked what was included in that price. Well, they were giving her an ISBN for both print and ebook … umm, both are free from Amazon. Okay, what else? Well they’d format her book. This is definitely something many people pay for because they don’t want to worry it’s not done right. But the fee I’ve found tops out around $30 per format. So this brings it to about $120 (epub, mobi (kindle), nook, kobo). And it included some editing which you can purchase for upwards of $.01 per word, so about $750 for a 75,000 word novel. It did NOT include a cover.
So she paid $1400 for services that she could have gotten for $870 … tops. I was so sad for her. I wish she had done just a little more research before jumping in. (Keep in mind … in the publishing world money should flow TOWARDS the author. That one piece of advice should be in the back of your brain as you’re making all your decisions.)
Then on the other end of the spectrum I’ve had more than one person mention they can’t afford to self-publish. But with a few really good beta readers (one to read for story consistency and a couple to read for typo/grammar), services you can trade with another author … you may be able to skip the editing fee. With patience, uploading to Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords, even getting your book ready for print is easy enough. And if you’re not tech savvy, there are pre-made book covers for as little as $25.
There have been many bestsellers I’ve read in the self-publishing realm whose covers aren’t intricate. Yes, a cover is a reader’s first impression, but people will buy a book on a list even if the cover didn’t roll off the NY presses. When you make some money, switching out covers is a simple process. I’ve switched out several original covers for something that better fit the genre.
Let’s face it, this whole thing is a learning process. My feeling if you’re toying with the idea of self-publishing is that it’s better to have a book up and making some money than having it sit unpublished on your computer making nothing.
And to catch you up on what’s going on with me (because I think it’s important for people to share their numbers) … August Sales were amazing and I thought I’d finally found a formula that works for my books. Unfortunately my sales are pushed by the first book in my romantic suspense series being free. Amazon has decided they are no longer going to run the “free” book list next to the top sellers in a category. I have no doubt many of the readers who downloaded my free book saw it because they were perusing the paid books in the same categories.
Guess what happened in September … sales plummeted.
Blind Her with Bliss: Free 9079 downloads (16% drop)
Deceive Her With Desire: 360 sold = $711.30 (43% drop in sales)
Cheat Her With Charm: 282 sold = $563.75 (45% drop in sales)
Shadows of Fire: 14 sold = $34.38
Barnes & Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Free through Smashwords
Deceive Her With Desire: 18 sold = $34.92 (32% drop in sales)
Cheat Her With Charm: 14 sold = $27.16 (33% drop in sales)
Shadows of Fire: 4 sold = $9.71
Blind Her With Bliss: Free (no report)
Deceive Her With Desire: 10 sold = $20.90
Cheat Her With Charm: 2 sold = $4.18
Shadows of Fire: 1 sold = $1.23
The report is difficult to sort through in its current format, it appears I’ve made apporximately $150 in September across all vendors.
I am sure Amazon’s changes had a huge effect on my sales. I can’t say exactly what happened with B&N. Perhaps that’s just the ups and downs of sales. But the fact is … I wouldn’t change my decision to jump on this crazy ride. Feel free to ask me any questions. I’m an open book!
Any of you who stop by my blog on a regular basis know I’m an over-achiever. I always have been. I blame it on being the middle child of five and my mother. (Aren’t all problems the mama’s fault?) Just kidding mom. I have no idea what drives me. I just know that when I decide to do something I learn everything I can about it and plunge in with both feet fully expecting to succeed! Failure is not an option. It’s not just a motto … it’s how I’m wired.
And so it was with the writing career I began 7 years ago. In anticipation of leaving my teaching job I took a “Writing Fiction” class at the local university. No sense going into something new without having the tools to do it right. (It would take me a whole year of writing to figure out I’d spent $400 on a class that wasn’t worth the cost of paper the syllabus was written on. But that’s a rant for another blog …) My point is, I was ready to buckle down and write! I had dollar signs in my eye. After all I wanted to replace my teaching salary.
I won’t repeat the road I’ve travelled since most of you already know so let’s fast forward.
After years of publishing books with traditional digital publishers, I was discouraged by my lack of sales. Regardless of what sub-genre of erotic romance I wrote or what marketing I tried, I just couldn’t seem to hit the same numbers as other successful authors with the same publisher. After watching the success of so many writers who went before me, I decided to self-publish three previously published books whose contracts had expired. (It will be a year at the end of the summer that the books will have been available.) I mean, the money is in self-publishing, right? Well, okay, not for everyone. I’ve been very open about my numbers. What’s worked for me and what hasn’t. I do this because I’m hearing so many authors making HUGE money. Like, win the lottery kind of money. In light of that, it’s hard to stand up and say “I finally got a check this month from B&N”. (Minimum payment $10.) That would be THIS post.
My sales have continued to grow as can be seen HERE and HERE. I credit the growth of my sales to offering the first book in my series BLIND HER WITH BLISS, free across all retailers in February and March. I stopped the free promotion at the beginning of April and sales plunged.
Just as I was trying to offer that first book free once again, Amazon made a mistake and price matched the second book, DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE at the beginning of June. For a week it was given away free. A huge advertising site picked up the promotion and before Amazon corrected the mistake 20,000 books were downloaded. (I would have been ecstatic if it were the first book as that was my plan, but if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck. LOL!) I also learned during all of this that Amazon has changed its terms of service. Even if it price matched in error you are NOT due royalties from lost sales. Bummed me out it took them 5 full days to find out they had made an error. Fortunately, when it came off free this time the book continued to sell (as you can see on Amazon). The sales at B&N on the other hand, haven’t been the same since BLIND was offered free. And I’ve figured out why my books aren’t selling through Sony … I discovered the first book in the series is completely missing in their listings and the book descriptions of the other two are missing on the book pages. (Lesson learned: periodically check book pages at all vendors to check price and book info.)
So here are the approximate sales for May & June:
Blind Her With Bliss: 140 books = $240.00
Deceive Her With Desire: (20,000 free) 160 books = $310
Cheat Her With Charm: 137 books = $265
Barnes & Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Distributed through Smashwords (so it can be offered free)
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $109
Chear Her With Charm: 39 books = $77
Smashwords (approximations since reporting is inconsistent here):
Apple: 186 books
B&N: 1187 (free and $.99 Blind Her With Bliss books)
Diesel: 12 books
Kobo: 43 books
Sony: 2 books
$700 across all venues
Self-publishing these books was a great decision for me. I don’t regret it at all. With formatting and uploading becoming more user-friendly it’s getting easier to publish direct. I don’t see any reason why an author wouldn’t want to include self-publishing in their marketing plan. My sales are steadily growing. And yes, self-publishing is a marathon. But this impatient over-achiever always wanted to be a sprinter even if it meant jumping a few hurdles.
Check back next month to see how my sales are going. If all goes well (and luck is on my side) Amazon will stop being so stubborn and finally price match all the other sites and the first book in my series will be offered free at all retailers boosting sales for the other two books.
This self-publishing gig is tough. From hiring an editor and cover artist to deciding whether or not to format books yourself or hire a formatter. (I wouldn’t have thought that necessary until I saw the really pretty formats of some ebooks I’ve purchased. All lovely scroll work at chapter headings and figuring out how to put title and author name on each page of an ereader … but I digress.) You get the idea, there are a lot of decisions to make.
And one of the hardest decisions an author has to make is pricing.
That’s right. Pricing. There are a lot of articles being written on the $.99 phenomenon. This POST offers an hypothesis as to why returns go up when the price goes down. Many authors are also discouraged because they feel pushed into scandalously low prices for their books. It’s not so much about feeling bullied by readers’ expectations that cause me to experiment with pricing … it’s sales.
I’m in this business for readers to find and (hopefully) enjoy my books. I’m not interested in putting in all kinds of time creating characters and weaving stories only to have my books sit in the dark, lonely nether regions of the internet, never to be downloaded to an e-reading device. Nope. I want them out in the world running wild and playing with all kinds of new readers.
This is one pricing list I’ve seen and it makes so much sense:
$0.99 Books less 10,000 words
$1.99 Books 10,001 to 20,000 words
$2.99 Books 20,001 to 50,000 words
$3.99 Books 50,001 to 75,000 words
$4.99 Books 75,001 to 100,000 words
$5.99 Books 100,001 words to ???
Now this might not make sense for everyone or for every book, but it’s a nice starting point. So then the question comes in … Where does FREE fit into this equation? According to some … it shouldn’t. Offering free books gives readers expectations that if they wait long enough a book will eventually be offered free and they will never have to buy another book. I don’t completely agree with that theory. The fact is, any reader has always been able to feed their literary addiction with free (libraries and convention giveaways) and drastically discounted books (garage sales and library book overstocks). Why wouldn’t the savvy digital reader expect the same thing?
For me personally, offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series for free was the best thing I could have done for sales. In February I reported my self-publishing numbers BEFORE my book went free. In March, I updated my sales figures. Sales continued strong through April … UNTIL I took the first book off the FREE promotion.
As in, I went from selling 20 books a day across all venues to selling 2. (I do realize that early spring is a slow time in general for digital book sales, but I’m sure this isn’t just that flux.) I suspect it has more to do with offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS as a loss leader which is bringing readers to my books. By the end of this month I will be offering it free again. Probably permanently. Yes, I’ve had 11,500 free downloads, but I know authors who have had four times that many downloads in a 2 day FREE promotion. So there are still plenty of readers who haven’t gotten my books.
I won’t do this with all my self-published books. But when a reader emails to tell me that she loved the free book so much she bought the whole series AND three of my traditionally published books … well, that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Some argue that free may be good for the individual, but not good for the publishing industry as a whole. I’m not sure. I only know it’s working to build my readership and therefore it’s growing my business.
And in the spirit of full disclosure my APRIL sales:
Free Downloads: 1666
Blind Her With Bliss: 40 books = $39.88
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $110.31
Cheat Her With Charm: 38 books = $76.26
(Avg 35% drop in sales)
Barnes & Noble
Blind Her With Bliss: 177 books = $106.20 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 51 books = $98.94
Cheat Her With Charm: 36 = $69.84
(Avg 40% drop in sales)
The month of May is dismal. I’ve sold a total of 30 books at Barnes & Noble, 36 at Smashwords and 35 at Amazon. The numbers speak for themselves.
Maybe it’s because the winter has been so mild with no storms to make the news. Maybe it’s because the stars are out of alignment. Or maybe it’s because books are pushing the boundaries. I don’t know. But he end of last week, Paypal decided they weren’t going to allow payment for certain types of erotica. This affected all publishers using this method of payment including Bookstrand, All Romance Ebooks and Smashwords.
There are many authors/readers up in arms about this mandate. The interesting thing is that Paypal decided they were coming down on stories involving incest, rape as titillation, under-aged sex and besteality. Now I write erotic romance and the publishers that have accepted my books already had these stipulations. I wouldn’t want to write books with any of those topics anyway. So even though I got notification from two of the publishers above because I have self-pubbed with them, their notification didn’t affect me personally.
And though this stance is probably unpopular with authors who write erotica and erotic romance, I didn’t see a problem with Paypal’s decision. I’m not sure it’s the beginning of censorship as some have suggested. I don’t feel censored by Ellora’s Cave or Liquid Silver Books. I don’t think their readers feel they are restricting their desire to read stories with explicit sexual content. They haven’t widened the net to include things that some readers find objectionable, like anal and oral sex or multiple and same-sex partners or BDSM themes. But they have remained firm on certain sexual acts. I don’t think Paypal is going to widen their restrictions either.
And I don’t feel censored as a reader or an author. I think Paypal as a business has the right to make restrictions on the use of their services. I’ve listened to arguments on both sides and I just don’t see this as the huge out-of-control fire that some see beginning to burn. Dear Author did a nice job covering all sides of this controversy so I won’t rehash the facts as they’ve listed them. This could come back and bite me in the butt, but I don’t see this as a problem. But I’m still gathering information and reserve the right to change my mind.
What about you? How are you feeling about Paypal’s recent decisions?
Addendum (2/28 4:00 pm): I really appreciate everyone who has stopped by. Many of you have taken time to share heartfelt insights. I must admit, my view of this situation was narrow and based only on my personal experiences (despite reading blogs and listening to many of my writer friends discuss the topic). It is times like this when I realize as much of life as I’ve experienced, it is still possible to learn more through the experiences of others. I really didn’t see Paypal’s decision as mushrooming, but through your insightful comments, I certainly am looking at this situation differently. Thank you again for taking time to share your feelings and continue to educate me on the repercussions of Paypals policy change. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the days to come.
I am often asked, why did you choose to be a writer? Is it because it’s so easy? Ha. If only those people could live the life of a writer for one day, they’d no longer believe it’s a profession for slackers. Writing is a full time job, which requires long hours and serious dedication. If you’re interested in being a writer because you think you can type a few words then sit back and let the money roll in, then good luck. Writing a full length book is only a small portion of being an author. Once the book is finished with the first stages, you still have to edit.
I know authors, such as myself, who go through at least three revisions of the same book before it’s anywhere near ready to see a publisher’s desk. Once it’s finished with the revision stages, often times you’ll have to write a synopsis and query letter then wait for that to come back before sending the book in for acceptance or rejection. Just because that company asked to see your whole book doesn’t mean they’ll publish it. If they do decide to publish, your job still isn’t over. Now, you have to help market it so you can earn sales. It may take a while before you see any money from this book.
I’ve also heard a lot of people say that once you get one book published, it’s a guarantee that all of your future books will be accepted too. Wrong! Being published may help the next round be easier, but it does not guarantee that you’ll be able to slack off. Being an author is hard work. In the end, you’ll end up having to stay up late, get up early and abandon all thoughts of free time, fun and a clean house to meet those deadlines. Never expect to get rich just because you published. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be a best seller.
As for me, I was aware of all of this before I decided to try my hand at writing. I’ve always been a stay at home mom and needed something to help fend off the boredom of watching Nick Jr., and Barney all day long. I chose to write because it’s something I love to do. I began when I was in the hospital with my son. Five months pregnant and I’d already went into labor due to stress. My doctor ordered me to do something that would relax me.
I tried puzzles, a crossword book, and listening to music. Bored out of my mine, I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and began writing down a list of things I’d rather be doing at that moment. Soon, that list evolved into what I’d like to achieve in my lifetime. Number one was to be a good mom. Number two was to be a writer. My mom saw this and asked why I didn’t start then.
I will be the first person to say that when I first started writing books, it was horrible. I knew ntohing about avoiding passive voice, how to correctly change point of view without confusing the reader, or avoiding those pesky adverbs. I was still in the phase that when I wanted to get my point across about something, I tacked on three or four different descriptive words. It was a nightmare! It took me five eyars to learn to avoid these pitfalls as well as a writer’s enemy, telling.
The more I learned about how to correctly write a story, the more aggrivated I grew with my work in progress. I would abandon it and start a new one. It wasn’t until my recently published book, “Heart Over Mind” that I decided there would be no more starting a new book. I spent four years in the revision stage with this book, trying to get it up to publsihing standards.
During that time, I became Dr. Frankenstein. I ripped out scenes, whole pages, and moved them, discarded them, or rewrote every word. By the end of the book, my poor story looked like a lyposuction junkie, covered with red lines and scribbles in the margins. I almost became disheartened at working on this anymore and quit for a new novel. But soon, that was finished and I couldn’t come up with another story idea.
I decided what was the point in writing multiple stories if I would never do anything with them. That wasn’t going to make my dream of becoming a published author come true. So, back to revisions I went. Two months later, my work was finished. I submitted, got a rejection, and decided to self publish. Now, I’m just waiting on readers to find my work and enjoy.
A Life, Changed Forever…
NALA ARPAIA gets life-altering news. She has a family, and more than one secret power. Even worse is that she also has a mad man seeking to kill her. Gabriel arrives and promises to protect her. With him around, she may be safe from Broncestan, but her heart is in danger of breaking.
A Man, Determined To Stay Unattached…
Gabriel makes it clear from day one that he’s not interested in a relationship. Despite the fact that sparks fly whenever he and Nala touch, he wants to focus on the one thing that matters to him. His job. It’s too bad that Nala’s determined not to let that happen. And when multiple signs point to their being together as Fate deems right, Gabriel wonders if he’s fighting a losing battle.
The Fate of the World Belongs To Them…
As Broncestan’s attacks get stronger, and more dangerous, Nala finds it more important than ever to experience the kind of relationship she’d always wanted, but never had. Seeing Nala suffer at the hands of a power-hungry Damned soul, Gabriel realizes keeping his distance isn’t working. Soon, they give in to the passion and proclaim their love. Just when things are supposed to work out, things hit rock bottom again.
Will they ever be able to defeat Broncestan and enjoy a relationship together or are they doomed to live their lives alone and miserable?
Nala did not feel well all of a sudden. Her stomach tightened and her neck began to tingle. Frightened, she looked at Gabriel. His knuckles were white from clenching the steering wheel.
“Gabriel, what’s going on?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. Just sit there and try to stay calm. Keep an eye out for anything that seems strange.”
Nala nodded and began to chew on her lip as she scanned the median on both sides. Everything seemed still and quiet, like the world was holding it’s breath in anticipation. Tall oak and maple trees bracketed both sides of the road, joining in the middle to form a canopy that blocked out most of the sunlight. The bright green leaves swayed, causing eerie shadows to dance along the pavement. Gabriel steered through the hills and curves, handling the large vehicle with expert ease. At the top of a rather steep hill, Nala noticed something amiss a few hundred feet ahead of them.
“Gabriel, look in the middle of the road.”
He did not need her outstretched finger to direct him. It would be near impossible not to see the nine, abnormally large deer standing directly in their path. Four of the animals had large antlers with spreads of at least six feet. As they drew closer, Gabriel tapped the brakes to keep from skidding. Nothing happened.
Gabriel applied more pressure and then cursed when the Tahoe did not respond. He could not swerve off the side of the road. Hitting one of the wide tree trunks would be more dangerous than crashing into the animals.
“Nala, brace yourself. We’re going to wreck.”
Sobbing a little, Nala reached out with her right hand and held onto the door handle. Her left hand curled around the armrest attached to her chair. Planting her feet firmly against the floorboard, she pushed her body as far back into the seat as she could get. Then, she clamped her eyes shut and waited.
Gabriel gripped the wheel praying that the animals would move. He tried to think of a magickal spell to get them out of this but nothing came to mind. He heard Nala’s sob and expected to see her panicking. Instead, she sat in her seat, quiet and braced for impact. He might not like how irresistible she was, but he did admire her courage.
Damn it. We’re ten feet away. They have to move. Just as they were about to careen into the horde, the foul smell of evil magick permeated the closed windows. Gabriel did not have time to analyze why the odor was present.
By the Spirits, please let us make it out of this. As the SUV plowed into the animals, they dematerialized into a puff of mist. Gabriel tested the brakes. As his foot pressed the pedal, they began to slow down. Relieved, he held it down until they were at a stop. Then he looked over at Nala, still clenching her chair and door. Reaching out, he gently stroked her hand and pried it from the armrest.
“Nala, it’s okay. We’re fine.”
Scared to believe him, she cracked one eye open. Sighing, she looked around in confusion.
“Where did they go?”
Gabriel shrugged. He was a bit confused too. “I don’t know. They just turned into smoke. I think it was an illusion. Something to frighten us.”
A nervous laugh escaped Nala’s mouth. “Funny. Well, it worked dang well. Can we get going now before any other surprises come our way?”
BUY THE BOOK
Coming soon: Heart Over Mind, paperback edition available on Amazon.
Sara Trimble is new to the world of publishing, though not to writing. She has one published novel, one in the final revisions and a stack of stories ready to work on. When she isn’t writing, Sara spends her time with her three children, wonderful fiance Justyn, spending time with friends, and just enjoying life. You can find her at her website, follow her blog, Tweet her, or Facebook. She loves to hear from her readers so send her an email at email@example.com.
There has been a lot of talk on the internet about authors like JA Konrath and John Locke who have made A LOT of money self publishing their books. Heck, even NYT best selling authors are looking to put their backlist up on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. And why wouldn’t they? There is money to be made from digital savvy readers looking for a fix.
Why shouldn’t it be my book?
I’m not going to talk about HOW to do it. There seems to be all kinds of self-help blogs and books about the actual process. Let me just tell you … it’s easy. Don’t be fooled into thinking formatting is something only IT techs can do properly. Seriously, I did it myself and as the saying goes “If I can do it…”
Of course I decided to upload books that had already been edited and published through traditional electronic publishing routes, so a freelance editor wasn’t something I needed to consider. I did have someone design covers, Dar Albert at Wicked Smart Designs worked with me for the Tilling Passions series. I would highly recommend her. Her prices are reasonable and she didn’t charge me for all the “tweaking” stages. 🙂
But I digress. Really I wasn’t going to talk about the process. I want to talk about the results. Though many authors are finding HUGE financial rewards within only a month of putting their book on Amazon, some of us … just aren’t. And we don’t know why. I’ve looked at the marketing studies. I’ve read the blogs of authors who are now paying quarterly taxes for the first time because their sales are overwhelming. I’ve tweeted and facebooked and blogged and toured and … well, suffice it to say … for me nothing has been the magic bullet.
I understand it’s a numbers game. And I’m working on that. The third book in the Tilling Passions series, Arranging Love should be on sale by the end of August. I’ve got two more books that require a major round of edits before they’re ready to go up for sale. But I’d like to have both of those out before next spring. Perhaps that’s the answer. I’m not sure.
I know I’m not alone in this. There are many authors whose sales are lackluster at best. Since I’m on a loop with them, I know they’re out there. So just to let you know, not everyone finds gold in this self-publishing venture, let me share my three months worth of sales for Blind Love:
I understand this is a marathon and not a sprint, still it is a little discouraging when someone on an indie loop I’m on is wondering why her sales dropped below 100 that day and had anyone else experienced the drop. I haven’t experienced the sales. Bleh.
I’m not suggesting anyone shy from self-publishing. Like I said, it’s uber easy to get books up on the three venues I mentioned above. (Though I understand All Romance eBooks is a little more difficult with their formatting requirements.) I really just wanted authors to know that their results may vary.
I’ve been pretty quiet on my own blog about my decision to re-release my Tilling Passions series direct to Kindle and Nook. I LOVE these sisters. I was so stoked when Liquid Silver first released them in 2008. At that time they garnered some readers, but really didn’t find their stride at LSB. Sadly they sat with very little attention. And as much as I love LSB and the publishing family I found over there my purpose isn’t just to publish my books, but to get my stories out to the readers.
Soooo, when the rights reverted back to me, it seemed only logical to dip my toe into this brave, new world of self-publishing. Of course the decision was easier for me as the books had already been through the editing process. I just had DAR ALBERT design new covers and I was off.
Let me just say that many people are panicking about “formatting” their manuscripts to upload to the various sites for sale. Since my books were already formatted for digital publishing it was uber easy for me to upload my book. If you’re thinking about stepping into self-publishing I would highly recommend it. I just see it as being market savvy, spreading my books across many formats as to find the biggest audience. I have the first book on sale now. I hope you’ll check it out.
He’s a shock jock looking to reform. She’s an accountant hoping to cut loose. Can love open their eyes to forever?
Uptight CPA and oldest sister, JULIE TILLING, is the glue that binds her family. Everyone depends on her to do the right thing. When her friend from high school dies and Julie is the only one who believes he didn’t commit suicide, she takes it upon herself to investigate his death.
DAMON COREY didn’t come to Maine to become a shock jock. But when his dream career of becoming a concert pianist seems unobtainable, the radio station’s offer is too good to pass up. When mysterious brunette Jewel, hooks up with him at the night club run by a college frat brother, their one night fling wraps around his heart and makes him believe in love at first sight.
But can Damon expose his inner soul without pushing Julie away or will his enigmatic shock jock persona become Julie’s sexual undoing and reveal him as the missing piece that solves the puzzling questions surrounding her friend’s death?
“Does it ever get tiresome watching it?” Julie asked, daring to dip her toe in the waters of seduction.
Good, her question threw him off-kilter. “You know. The people and what they’re doing? You see the two men and that woman over there?” Julie leaned to the side so Demon could see around her as she pointed to a shadowed corner of the bar below. “I thought they were dancing, but there’s definitely something more going on.” A nervous giggle escaped her lips. “The man in front is definitely buried deep in the woman, and the man in back…well, I’m not sure what he’s doing. But with their mouths open that way, I’m thinking they’re all really enjoying themselves.” She leaned back, her bottom grazing his thigh.
“Oh, they’re definitely getting it on.” Demon braced his hands on either side of her, pressing the solid plane of his chest against her back. They were both testing the waters. “And yes, I get tired of watching.” He leaned close to her ear, his breath the only thing separating his lips from her skin. “They put in extra spotlights that shine on the platform for me so I don’t have to stare at them all night. I mean, even a saint would get a hard-on seeing people go at it for three hours.” He rubbed against her. There was no mistaking his arousal.
Julie was enjoying their brazen flirtation. “I suppose you’re right.” She turned around to face him, purposefully rubbing her breasts across his chest. He didn’t move. “Did you originally bring me up here to relieve a little of that tension, Demon?”
“I don’t think you want to know what I was thinking before we got in the elevator.”
She tilted her head and cocked a brow, inviting him to share. “Oh, but I think I would.”
“This is probably a very bad idea.” He took a step back, but she moved with him.
She’d come this far and she had no intention of stopping now. “Maybe I was a little tipsy in the elevator, but I’m stone-cold sober now,” Julie said, laying her palm in the center of his chest. Her gaze swept the strong lines of his face, gauging his reaction. Even in the muted light of the office she could see the hunger sparking in his eyes. “We’re way past the stage of chivalry, Demon. I don’t need your protection.” She slid her thigh up his leg, surprised by her own audacity.
“You think that’s what I’m doing?”
She dragged a nail through the dark whiskers along his jaw, thrilling in the quick inhalation of his breath. “Oh, you play the animal, but the heart of a gentle man hides in here.” She kissed the center of his chest, her body warming with the power of her seduction.
“Then it may shock you to learn I intended on having my way with you when we got up here. That phone call pulling Elvis away was his attempt to give me privacy.”
I’d like to welcome my guest TRACY COOPER POSEY. Tracy is a multi-published author of erotic paranormal, romantic suspense and urban fantasy romance. (And the very talented web designer who helped me revamp my blog.) Take it away Tracy …
Hot plum pudding with brandy sauce. Or for North Americans, pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven, and ice cream or custard. Fresh home-made cookies, or a cake cooling in the kitchen…you can smell them all over the house.
Have you ever stepped into the home of someone cooking mulled wine? Red wine steeped with spices and sugars…the smell is unforgettable. So is the taste (and my mouth is flooding with saliva even as I write this!)
Croissants in Paris, with butter and real European coffee, hot and with that caramel smell that you only get from African beans.
Tart fruit stewed in its own juices, with cloves and cinnamon to bring out the flavours.
Chicken or turkey, ham or beef, slow cooking all day in the oven for a big family dinner, and all the dishes that go along with it and their aromas that start drifting from the kitchen from lunchtime onwards.
Waking up to the smell of toast, bacon, hash browns, eggs, waffles and coffee in the morning.
The sharp, thick smell of deep fried anything at fairs and sideshows.
Food is with us constantly. You might think you only eat three times a day, but cues for eating and drinking waft past you endlessly, all day long. Smells, sounds, images bombard you, making non-stop suggestions to eat or drink this, that or the other, and most of it isn’t commercial advertising. You probably snack, bite, sip and nibble dozens of times a day without realizing it, and you think about eating and drinking hundreds of times a day. If you’ve ever struggled to lose weight you’ll understand this concept only too well.
Humans are designed to take in a certain level of calories per day in order to maintain body functions and provide energy to keep the body moving, so this obsession with food is built into our genes and psyches. It’s a survival mechanism.
Consider, then, the poor vampire who, after twenty or thirty or more years of uninhibited eating and drinking, suddenly has his food supply abruptly cut off. All he gets to imbibe is blood. Now blood may well meet all his nutritional needs in his vampire form, but depending on which authors’ universe and which type of vampire you’re dealing with, he might still have all or most of his human instincts and psychology intact.
Which means that even if he doesn’t get hungry, per se, he’s going to still get bombarded by the same thousands of daily subliminal “eat!” and “drink!” messages we as humans get. He’ll smell the same delicious aromas, watch humans eating with gusto, see the same commercial advertisements for food, food and more food, steaming gently and looking oh-so-good on the plate as it turns. He’ll hear chips hitting the deep fry and smell them, too. And what’s he going to do when he walks past a Starbuck’s? If he’s a modern day vampire, does he wake with all his addictions intact? Does he hunger for his daily espresso hit?
What if he’s one of the types of vampires whose senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, etc) are all better than humans? Are all those eat and drink messages going to be more powerful because he can receive them better?
I love my food — too much, frankly — and I’m constantly battling my expanding waistline. While the idea of almost-immortality as a vampire has all sorts of appeal for me (watching history unfold is the biggie), giving up food and well, coffee, dammit, would make me sit down and really think hard if I ever got the offer. I would have to have a written, sealed guarantee that all the cues and triggers that would deluge me every day as a vampire would be negated somehow before I would step over to the other side. Even then, just the memory of eating and food would drive me crazy, I suspect. I would miss it.
Humans have so many rituals and habits built around the consumption of food. From breakfast to work breaks, to simply cleaning your teeth (to get rid of food particles), to dinner out with friends, nearly every social occasion, everything is impacted by food.
Take away the food and you leave a very big vacuum.
That absence is something that Nial, my 1,500 year old vampire in Blood Knot, has struggled with in unique ways over his long life. He misses food and eating as much as any human might, and it shows. It also leads to a small crisis…but I can’t say more without spoiling the story!
After thirty-five novels with various publishers, under various pen names, and after nearly ten years with Ellora’s Cave primarily writing in romantic suspense and paranormal romance, I have finally taken a deep breath and self-published Blood Knot, an erotic urban fantasy romance (MMF, Contemporary, Vampires, Paranormal), and my 36th novel overall. It was released on March 9, 2011 and is available at Amazon and Smashwords for $2.99 in all the common e-book formats, and will soon be available in print.
I’ve won a number of awards, including Australia’s Emma Darcy Award (the equivalent of the Golden Heart) and was most recently nominated for the CAPA’s Best Erotic Paranormal and Favourite Author categories. You can find out more about me and my books here.
An Excerpt From: BLOOD KNOT
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2011
All Rights Reserved.
[For readers who are following my blog tour, these excerpts are consecutive — each excerpt follows the last one. Check on my blog for details of previous excerpts, and subscribe to my blog to learn about future blog tour posts and the excerpts that go with them. http://tracycooperposey.com]
“One of my weaknesses is redheads,” Nathanial added. “Especially stubborn, intelligent, independent, feisty redheads.”
Her whole body seemed to tighten and pulse. Winter covered up her reaction by turning away and heading for the sink for a glass of water. But her hand was trembling, so she changed her mind and leaned against the counter, her arms crossed. It left five feet of space between them. Good.
Nathanial stayed by the windows. “Tell me why you didn’t look inside Sebastian until you had to save his life.”
Winter could feel her mouth opening as her jaw dropped. She stared at him, trying to gather her thoughts. “Because I just wouldn’t. That wouldn’t be…” She had never had to explain this to anyone before and couldn’t find the words. “Proper,” she finished inadequately.
“It would be unprofessional,” Nathanial added.
“Yes,” she agreed. “That, too.”
Nathanial smiled a little. “You must have given Sebastian merry hell these last two years, Winter. You’re like me in many ways.”
Winter could feel her mouth turn down. “I’m nothing like you. We have nothing in common.”
“We have Sebastian in common,” he said coolly.
“We don’t have him,” she spat. “You had him and you lost him. I never had him the way you did. He was just a business partner. And now he’s not even that.”
“He’s something more than that now, Winter.” He moved toward her. “Why do you need his blood every month or so? Why are you not working together anymore? What happened after Singapore?”
She pushed her hand through her hair with a frustrated sigh. “I suppose, if I don’t answer you in full, you’ll have it out of me one way or another, right?”
Nathanial smiled. It was a full, cheerful grin. “You’re starting to learn.” He cocked his head. “Although if you want to be stubborn, I’m more than happy to…coax the information out of you.” He swayed towards her, his blue eyes full of sudden heat that had little to do with the teasing tone of his voice.
Winter slid along the edge of the counter, out of his way, even as her heart thudded at his nearness. “I’ll cooperate,” she assured him.
Nathanial straightened up. “Ah well,” he sighed. “Tell me about Singapore, then. What happened after?”
Winter sighed. “Who was the idiot that said ‘The truth shall set you free’? I’d like to kill the bastard if he isn’t already dead. All the truth did for Sebastian and me was slaughter everything we had. Two of the best years of my life. Gone. Just like that. Because the truth came out.”
New York City, New York. About nine months ago.
THE FIRST SHE knew that anything was wrong was when she gradually became aware of Sebastian calling her name. And a hand patting her cheek.
The tapping was annoying and she tried to turn her face away from it. When she didn’t have the strength to do that much, she roused enough to wonder why and realized that things were not right. Something was happening.
She began to pick up external cues. Distant traffic. She must be in her apartment in New York, then. It was early summer and warm in the apartment. But she was covered in a blanket.
And shivering. She was cold. Colder than January.
“Winter! Open your eyes!” It was Sebastian again and he sounded worried. Again, the tap on the cheek. His hand. She would know his scent anywhere—
She snapped her eyes open. How could she know his aroma so well? And from just his hand?
Sebastian was leaning over her, the thick locks of his hair falling forward as always. Relief actually showed on his face. Hovering over his shoulder stood Jackson, her doorman.
Jackson smiled. “That’s the ticket. I’ll call an ambulance.”
“No!” Sebastian shot back. “I’ll take care of her. I know how to treat her.”
Jackson’s smile faded. “You’re sure, Mr. Worthington?”
“You called me first, didn’t you, Jackson? You know I know Winter well. I can take care of this.” He pulled a billfold from his inner pocket and unclipped a couple of notes. “She’ll get eaten up in the system.”
Jackson waved away the money. “I get paid well, Mr. Worthington.”
Sebastian took Jackson’s wrist and laid the notes on his palm. “This is a thank you for calling me in the first place. Your instincts were right, Jackson. You did well.”
Jackson nodded. “I like Ms. Winter,” he said simply.
“I’ll makes sure she stays one of your favorite tenants, then.”
Jackson touched his forehead and left the apartment.
Sebastian turned back to Winter. She was lying on the floor, she realized. Next to the fireplace, right out in the middle of the room. She couldn’t put together what she had been doing to end up here. What day was it? What time? How long had she been lying here? Fright touched her.
“What am I doing here, Sebastian?” she asked. Even her voice was pathetically weak.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “But we have to presume it is something to do with Singapore, as that was just under four weeks ago.” He picked her up. “I’ll put you on your bed. It’ll be more comfortable than the floor. Then, if you can manage it, you need to analyze yourself.”
She tried to put her arms around his neck, but was too weak even for that. Sebastian was warm against her cold body and she sighed in contentment as he carried her through to her bedroom. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Don’t thank me,” he said roughly. “I’m the one that put you in this position, remember?” He lowered her to the bed, bending to place her gently on the covers. “Damn, you’re colder than an ice cube, Winter.”
He was bowed over her, lifting his hands away from her. It was summer, so he wore his usual jeans and a collarless dress shirt in a cotton fabric so soft and old it begged to be touched. The sleeves were rolled up. The shirt exposed his neck to her and Winter could focus on nothing but the tender flesh running from his ear to his shoulder. She could trace the path his carotid would take. It seemed she could even hear his heart beat in her mind.
She reached for his arm, her strength suddenly enough for that. It was only a few inches, after all.
He froze, his chin turning so that his green eyed gaze could take her in.
Her heart was running far too hard. Dangerously fast. Winter cupped Sebastian’s face, and smoothed her fingers into his hair. In the profound silence that gripped the bedroom, she heard his tiny gasp.
She found a strength she didn’t know she possessed to bring herself up off the pillows he’d laid her upon. She brought her mouth closer to his hot flesh. She craved to taste it. To…
“Winter,” he breathed, holding himself motionless.
She laid her lips against him.
Driven by something she didn’t understand, something too powerful to argue with, she opened her mouth and sank her teeth into his neck.
“Bloody hell!” Sebastian gasped. He wrenched her away from him and staggered back, exploring his neck with his fingertips, then checking his fingers for blood. He stared at her. “Winter!” He said her name as if he were appalled.
But she was too busy trying to deal with sudden and overwhelming hunger pangs. Pangs that were more like cramps. They were making her writhe on the bed in agony.
Sebastian moved closer, watching her. “Jesus wept…” he said after a moment. “I don’t believe it.” He climbed onto the bed next to her. “Let me see your teeth, Winter.”
“What?” she gasped, holding her stomach.
“I need to know if you can pierce my skin or if I have to do that for you.”
She tried to curl into a ball as the cramps hit her again, moaning.
Sebastian cursed softly. She felt his fingers on her mouth, and one slide gently under her upper lip. “Nothing,” he said. “You’re quite human. But you need to feed. And I don’t have canines any more either.”
The mattress shifted and light glared as he entered her bathroom. Then he was back. She heard him give a soft hiss of pain. “Quickly, Winter. Here.”
His fingers touched her lips. This time they smelled differently. She turned her head, alerted by the aroma. The rich promise.
“Drink,” he crooned as drops fell onto her tongue.
Winter swallowed and felt the spread of warmth and energy from the few little drops. Eagerly, she sought more, and more flowed into her mouth. Thick and sweet as honey. She swallowed.
Warmth seemed to spread through her body as the liquid made its way down to her stomach.
“That’s it,” Sebastian told her, his tone approving. A hand slid under her head, supporting her. “Now, can you put your lips on my wrist?”
The first faint alarm filtered through her haze of enjoyment. But the strength she was drawing from the liquid overrode her intellectual objections. In the back of her mind she put together the truth. Sebastian’s wrist. His hiss of pain. Canines. Teeth. Fangs.
Blood. She was drinking blood. Sebastian’s blood. Hot blood.
It tasted nothing like blood. It tasted ambrosial. The finest wines had nothing on this. The heat and energy it was generating in her was like the strongest energy drink in the world. Industrial strength power straight into her veins. She could feel her body responding and could measure its restoration for herself.
She gripped his wrist and pressed her lips against the wound she knew she would find there. With the slightest of hesitations, knowing full well what she was doing, she made herself draw blood into her mouth
*** This contest is Closed ***
Congratulations to Luanna from Maine!
Whew, great excerpt Tracy. Thanks so much for sharing. Tracy has generously offered to give away an e-copy of her book KISS ACROSS SWORDS. Since Tracy is from Australia and currently living in Canada, just leave a comment about something you believe to be true about one of these countries. I’ll leave it to Tracy to give us the correct answer/information.This contest will be open until FRIDAY, APRIL 8 at noon EDT when I will choose a winner at random from all commenters on this post.
Thanks so much for stopping by Tracy!