First Cup of Coffee – August 9, 2022

Some more figures of what some authors are NOT making in traditional publishing, along with thoughts on agents – how to tell the good ones from bad (and there ARE good ones!), red flags, and how the business works.




Transcript
00:03.63
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious. Ah today is Tuesday August Ninth Eight Nine sounds like a good date to me. Um, yeah, so I’m wondering. What I have to say today some mornings oh look if you’re on video. You’ll have an Isabel sighting in the background Isabel’s out here in the secret garden with me is it. She pretty. She’s a blue smoke Maine coon cat I love how she’s got that. Faintest hint of blue to her fur. So yeah, she’s feeling sprightly this morning. She’s the the queen the main Coon Queen cat she’s sixteen sixteen and a half now and she loves going out and messing around in the garden. So um, yeah, you know some mornings I come out here I have my notes some mornings I have lots of thoughts in my head other mornings I’m sort of like a a nice mellow blank today’s a nice mellow blank I’m feeling. Nicely relaxed. Got more stuff done yesterday kind of catching up on my list. Ah I’ve noticed how the lists have been creeping into the books. Ah, they always have so I suppose that’s just like one of my things. But I notice that they are in the covenant of thorns books they’re in the bonds of magic books. Not so much the one I’m writing not so much in shadow wizard but I got my two k on shadow wizard yesterday I got it in. Reasonable amount of time. Got it early in the day so that was great. Um I’m let’s see doing pretty well I think um, little shy of 48,000 words which I know.

02:31.97
jeffekennedy
That’s like I’m past midpoint I still have half the book to go but it’s feeling downhillish at this point I’m also reading a book I’m really enjoying ah and I’m hoping that I will be able to recommend it to you? ah. I need to get back on putting reviews on good reads Amazon book bub. Ah I kind of fell off of doing it I don’t know why I don’t know maybe I just sort of ran out of time but I would like to get back into doing that. Because I’ve read several good books lately and I say them on here but I feel like that’s fairly transient so I would like to go ahead and get that going again. Um I did have some um reaction to yesterday’s podcast a few different people asked me if they had heard correctly when I said that um and and it’s it’s really ebooks. That I’m talking about where an author can earn $3 a book $5 a book maybe depending on the price point. Um whereas yes from trash ah print books. We don’t earn nearly so much from ah and they’re already. They’re so expensive to produce. That’s the thing about being a self-published author is the print books are expensive because we can’t do it in bulk. We don’t have access to a printing press the the pod cost is fairly high. Ah, the like Amazon or Ingram delivery cost is fairly high so we are not able to get as much of a percentage from those not without pricing the book even higher and I think none of us wants to do that. It already feels like a. Egregious to charge you know like $18 for a trade paperback. But even when that happens a lot of times like I’m only making ¢50 on the book or something like that. It’s um, it’s fence service. It’s having print books is because. Some of you still want print books which is fine. That’s no problem at all. It’s just um, where you where you make the bulk of your income is on the ebooks if we didn’t have those we probably wouldn’t be able to do it. We wouldn’t be able to make sell enough books to make an income to live on.

05:11.57
jeffekennedy
But but yes, um, for tread publishing whether it’s print or ebook a dollar per book. Maybe that’s that’s good If you’re getting that much a lot of people are not getting that much and um. Yeah, it’s just a. It’s the way it is. It’s just a sucky cut. Um.

05:40.44
jeffekennedy
Um, yeah, it’s you know they they hold all the cards basically and you know and even then you know you’re almost certainly paying you know 15% of that then to your agent. So. That that could come before or after the dollar a book but you know a dollar goes down to ¢85. It’s um, unless you’re selling a whole lot of books. It’s just hard to make money to live on in trad. And so it goes and I’ve recently learned of a major publisher. Not one of the big 5 or big 4 um, it’s sounding like the merger is going to be improved. People are sad about it. But. And our current um climate of corporations running the country. It seemed almost inevitable running the world. Maybe so yeah, a lot of writers were lamenting it yesterday on social media. Isabel’s down next to me here. Isabel’s not concerned. She says cats don’t worry about acquisitions and mergers know course Pat cats are also arguably parasites is that right. She says as long as the cat food keeps coming. You know that’s why I write the books is to feed the cats. Yes yes, Minerva Spencer says that Isabel has a smoker’s meow. Ah she does kind of she. Um, she’s totally deaf now. So she has to be very loud to be assured that she is meowing and it’s hell on the vocal chords. Yeah, so um, so yeah, those are the breaks. What was I saying about the oh this other publisher. So. So those are the big ones and that’s why we say the big but then there are other like midsize presses or smaller presses. So you know like there other ones are like source books Kensington um. Oh I think the mosquito candles making me sneeze.

08:14.67
jeffekennedy
Who I tried to pause and then at impa. Sorry let me scoot this away I was clever this time and came out and lit the candle before I got out here and gave it a little while to drive the mosquitoes away that seems to be the effective method. So how? yeah like Tachyon there used to be other ones you don’t like skyhorse and all these others anyway, those are not the great big ones. That people mean when they’re talking about the big houses Isabel’s checking out that candle now. Yeah stinky here now she’s sleeping leaving in a huff we haven’t had um cat wrangling. On the podcast in a while. So um, so yeah I recently learned of another publisher that’s not 1 of the biggies. But that’s well known, especially in romance publishing that is offering a terrible percentage on ebooks and. 1 of my friends at Apollycon who has a very successful series told me that last year and she was sad about it that she made about $1400 in the whole year and I told somebody else this and they were like. That author but her books are doing amazing and I was like yeah um and her agent says that she doesn’t really understand the contract. Um, when my friend asked about well shouldn’t I be getting. Royalties for like the audio books or the foreign rights and stuff that our agent was like oh well I don’t know um and and I said to her friend I said that’s a really bad sign you know and it’s like. I love that people come to me for advice but I think sometimes people regret coming to me for advice because and you should all know this I’m happy to talk to you like at conventions or you know over drinks are many things I will say to in person that I will not say on the podcast. But. You know if if you do ask me for advice I’m I’m going to give it to you pretty straight and I told her you’ve got to leave this agent if your agent doesn’t understand your contract then this is a problem. It’s a problem.

10:56.41
jeffekennedy
Red flag and she says oh I know but you know she’s stuck with me. She took me when no one else would and you know I owe her and you guys I hear this story so many times and in its. Hard I know it’s hard because we love our agents. We do feel that um, it’s like the first love we. We are grateful to them and they it does feel like they took a chance of us when no one else would. And I definitely felt that way about my first agent and I don’t know why if I would have left her if she hadn’t gone into like a total spiral and left the agency and went to an agency where I couldn’t sign the contract. Um. I don’t know what I would have done I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice leaving my second agent was a really hard choice even though I was terribly disappointed in him and I had gone through a couple of um, like performance improvement plans with with him. Which is that’s why yeah so I spoke too soon on the mosquitos that one went right for my nose. Um, that’s my corporate America coming out but it’s like okay you know I’m not happy with how this is working and so we’d come up with these things that you know for him to do. And then he didn’t do those things I was working with the senior agent in the firm. That’s the other thing about this from that I’m talking about is that her agent just has her own agency. There’s not even a senior agent to go to and so which is the first advice I would give is is if you are. Maybe not the first but still if you are unhappy with what your agent is doing or if you’re wondering if you should be managing expectations in some way you go to the senior agent at the agency and say here’s what I want and this is not what’s happening. And you know what do you recommend and and the senior agent in mine was very receptive but my agent still didn’t still didn’t do it and and break and that breakup felt like it felt like a divorce. It really did it was um, hugely emotional. My friends got sick of listening to me but it had to be done and and I feel like I’m still seeing echoes of of the ways in which he messed up my career.

13:48.74
jeffekennedy
Um, and and it’s very true and I’m sort of going off on this whole agent tangent I didn’t mean to but it’s probably worth revisiting. You know the the old adage that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all is really true and I feel like spending several years with my bad agent. And still seeing effects. But I’m still digging out of that and I love my current agent Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost literary agency who is unfortunately not taking more clients I I even asked her at Apollycon when ah. Because I was thinking maybe I could get my friend to move over to her if I could get my friend to give up this loyalty to this terrible agent and I I feel very comfortable calling this agent terrible if your agent says they don’t understand the contract I mean that’s literally their job. So I asked Sarah oh are you still not taking new clients or I said are you taking new clients and she actually physically flinched. She’s like and she said she’s just not able to keep up with all of her current clients and she’s still sort of digging out of that pandemic hole on that as well. so unfortunately and me someday but um so yeah why is my friend only making $1400 a year. She got paid twice in you know every six months and she said it was about $700 each time. And yeah yeah I mean she’s not gonna be out on the streets because she has a salaried spouse which is great but it’s disheartening when you have a very successful series. I mean I’m not kidding when I say this is a successful series. It’s it’s gotten amazing reviews and it’s very well known and how is she only getting this much money. Ah, it’s it’s criminal really. So. Um, I’m never going to be 1 of those people and there’s one in particular I can think of who like in in SFWA on discord and so forth or the forums every single time someone says something about an agent. This guy has to pop up and. Do a blast against how horrible agents are and ah it’s just like dude but he’s also I don’t know um, unpleasant in his opinions in many ways.

16:35.88
jeffekennedy
So I don’t think that all agents are terrible I think that agents are very helpful to a career particularly if you’re dealing with things like print and foreign rights and I don’t believe that hiring a lawyer is the same thing but um, but there. There are bad agents out there and they they gave give the good agents a bad name and so there it is um otherwise let’s see what’s going on I I feel like this is this is exciting news for me and not important to anything else. But I got my nails done yesterday and we may have gotten I’m trying to show you. It’s kind of better there. We go. Ah, we may have gotten a green that I really like since this is why birthday month and green is my favorite color I was trying to get a good green and. For some reason. It’s really hard to find a good green nail polish so much good green in nature. Not so much. It must be really hard to reproduce a green pigment because it’s hard to find good greens and clothing too. So I’m very happy with my green nails small things. Right? Ah, yeah, so I went long yesterday. So I think it’s okay to go shorter today I will um yeah, talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – March 24, 2022




Transcript
00:00.80
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Ah happy chair dance. Today is Thursday March Twenty Fourth only a week of March left and which means that the first quarter of 2022 is almost gone. How did this happen. We don’t know it’s a mystery. I always love that line in Shakespeare in love with the I can’t think of the afters name but the date owner where he’s like it’ll work out. People are like how how and he’s like I don’t know it just ah yeah, something like that that was probably bad. Ah. Not a brilliant anecdote. There’s another movie quote from you for you. Ah, so my week is going well the ah 2000 words a day is working remarkably well um, I’m yeah on track so far this week we’ll see what happens yesterday Darynda proposed a slight change to our um. Morning routine. So we’re starting at Eight o’clock this morning well almost eight o’clock I there eight o’clock was the plan and then I as you guys may or may not know I don’t set an alarm I wake up naturally which is like something that I cling to I don’t want to have to set an alarm. Now that I’m a full-time writer. It’s like the one gift I give myself. It’s a a special thing for me that I get to wake up naturally otherwise I tend to be a real bitch of a boss so this morning for whatever reason it It’s very interesting if you do sleep on a natural calendar. You will find that and I’ve been doing this for what almost seven years now wow ah your sleep time or at least my sleep time waxes and wanes from night to night. Some nights are shorter and some are longer and last night was a longer night for whatever reason. Um, because as I recall I think I was in bed by like nine I usually I’d start turning into a pumpkin after about eight o’clock and of course the daylight savings time.

02:34.82
jeffekennedy
Has kind of messed that up. But you know my evenings are very low key and I start winding down early and I’m one of those people who falls asleep really fast. So I was asleep for a few hours and then my elderly cat Isabel beautiful fluffy Isabel. She doesn’t get as much press as Jackson does I’m not quite sure why maybe because Jackson was like the kitten and Jackson’s very charismatic and I think feel like Isabel does get short shrift because sometimes people will say well you know does because because. Visitors you know Jackson is so gregarious and so engaging and charismatic and everyone’s well people will say be like well does isabel do anything almost in those exact words you know like is there anything special about her Isabelle’s also a main coon cat and she is blue smoke. Min ku cap and I’ll put her photo on the show notes here. So and I realize I’m going off off topic but hey that’s the brand here at first cup of coffee. So last night. Isabel Isabel is now 16 and she sleeps a lot and she’s deaf and last night every once’s while she wakes up I don’t know if there are nightmares or I’ve tried to look it up and it’s like ah a kind of dementia in cats. Otherwise she doesn’t seem to have any kinds of dementia but she woke up and she was crying and crying. And she has this very loud meow now that she’s deaf and I was sound asleep. But for some reason that penetrated which very little does I’ve often joked or I don’t joke David says that the great thing that he brings to our relationship is that if the house burns down. During the night that he will carry me out of it and save my life because he thinks I’d sleep through it. So this penetrated and I got up and I didn’t know David wasn’t in bed. He’s often up at night. So I went blially out looking and. He like came out of the kitchen and I said where is she and he said I don’t know and she was back in his office and that was at Eleven Fifty five so I’ve been asleep for a few hours and so I picked her up and brought her in. Bed with me which she just doesn’t come do on her own anymore. She used to sleep with me every night but now she sleeps in his office which is the warmest room in the house and I think that’s why I’m interested to see if this changes as summer comes on but we have um, brick floors with radiant heat.

05:21.90
jeffekennedy
And I have the temperature in his office. David’s just I mean he’s skinny skinnier than I am and and he’s just ah, you know as he gets older. He gets colder so the warmth in his office come guest room is. Up there and Isabelle has this little throw rug that we’ve put down for her and it’s this one corner of the floor that she’s figured out is like where the radiant heat gathers. There’s certain places where the floors definitely warmer than others and the cats have found those in their feline way. So she. Spends a lot of time sleeping on that little rug in his office and but I brought her into bed with me since she seemed disturbed and she slept by my pillow for most of the night so that was nice because I know I woke up once around 4 and she was there and I went back to sleep. And normally if I go back to sleep like that it means another hour and a half and sometimes I’ll calculate it because it’s like far is a little early to get up but usually like another hour and a half and that’s right in line with you know, like scientific studies on sleep cycles that a full cycle is an hour and a half more or less. So but then I woke up at six thirty oops so um yeah we’re supposed to start at 8 it’s seven fifty seven now but we moved at tape 15 at my behest during it was ready because she said she wants to. To start and were earlier which is big because she originally for her meeting me at 9 was a lot for her and I had you guys know I track everything you know I was like well you know I’m usually starting by 9 we could just make it be 9 but for me writing wise the earlier I start the better off I am and I do have graphs to show that I get better work counts if I start earlier. So this works great for me. It’s just a little bit of adjustment. Especially after daylight savings time kicking in but it’ll be interesting to see how that works I’m going to keep doing the two k per day this week and then next week I might see if I can go up to 2.5 um, yeah, we’ll just sort of see I’m going to experiment a little bit I’m going to be curious. We have some travel coming up so that’s going to change things around some we are going to go up to Blackhack Colorado.

08:10.51
jeffekennedy
And meet up with David’s siblings for a couple of nights just a little get together and I’m going to do the It’s a it’s a casino hotel thing and I don’t really like and I’m like. But they do have a spa and I’m going to do I’ve been dying for a body scrub and they do a body scrub and wrap so very excited for that and then at on April Seventh and eighth I will be down in portalis. New Mexico fabulous Portales which is ah where Doronda Jones lives ah and it’s down right near the Texas panhandle but it’s where Jack Williamson famed science fiction writers from. And I’m going to be down there and doing some panels and stuff I believe they will also be streaming looks like some interesting panel topics too. There’s a new guy in charge this year David Sweeten who seems to be I haven’t met him in real life yet. But he seems to be just really on the ball I’m really smart and he thinks I’m a great writer so you know clearly he has excellent taste and discernment. So I’m looking forward to this last year I was on a weird panel that it’s it’s this happened. To me a lot and I think it might be the whole crossover fantasy romance um woman writer with kissing in her books is ity a is it really not fantasy confusion but there are certain conferences. Especially these very little ones where I think what happens is that the organizers don’t really this always sounds bad. They don’t know who I am ah and I think this can happen to any of us you know, like there are certain people that they know what they write. But what happens is is if you are a writer that like quivers doing programming hasn’t actually read if they don’t know much about you then they end up sort of sticking you on panels in weird places like I got put on a panel that. Like a great transgressor on this and I’ve complained about it before is mile highcon up in Denver which I like to go up there because I have family up there. Denver’s my hometown. A lot of people in the area I know.

10:55.37
jeffekennedy
I’d like Mile Hi Con but they always put me on these fucking weird panels like once they put me on a superhero panel. You honest like I don’t really write superheroes or not even really I don’t write superheroes at all and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say. And so last year with the old organizer on the Jack Williamson lectureship I got put on this panel on what was it was like writing science fiction or something. I wish I could remember the topic but it was really kind of strange I was like I do not know why I’m on this panel and the bad thing is is there are a couple of reasons for writers to do panels 1 is that it’s fun. Um, some of the. Most gratifying times that I’ve had as a writer is being on a panel with other wonderful writers where we end up having these amazing conversations. That’s the pinnacle because then you get a lot out of it being on the panel. So that’s good reason. Um. Reason that we do it is promo is to know, get ourselves out there um have people know who we are the other reason to do it is to be nice to you know, pay it forward contribute to the community. It’s like and I and a lot of writers view it that way. Because they’ll be like I don’t want to be on more than one panel for the conferences and I’m like really then why are you going? What are you doing there. They’re like oh it’s so exhausting. Really you know it’s like you know they’ll be like I’m on three panels cisconfer and. 1 every day and it’s exhausting like oh well, what do you do all day I know I’m bitching I just think about people who have jobs that you know like where they actually have to work really hard i. Well I will always say that being a writer is mentally draining and you really have to balance that creative flow and be smart about how you do it, especially if you’re a full-time writer or not even especially, it’s I think it’s worse if you’re trying to maintain another career and kids and family and all of that too. You know you really have to balance that energy but you know some of these writers I know for a fact have like never had a full-time job and you know there are jobs that you know like if you are working at it all day long. That’s all it’s a lot It’s.

13:37.90
jeffekennedy
Just you know a lot of running around in meetings and dealing with stuff and I will always say that the most the hardest job I ever had was being a cocktail waitress you know, full stop I am so glad that I don’t have to make my living as a cocktail waitress. Because waiting tables sucks you guys it sucks and it’s really hard and I know that people who haven’t done it sit back and be like well she goes a scurry back and forth between the kitchen. It’s like you have no idea absolutely no idea which is why I always tip well unless somebody really. Sponning it in anyway. So I’m sure I had a pointer in there somewhere I got interviewed on um, was it Tuesday afternoon yeah Tuesday afternoon by the kingdom of thirst podcast Abigail a great interviewer. We had so much fun I really enjoyed her podcast I should go ahead and link to it in here. So that. In fact, I’m going to type that in right now so that you guys can check it out but my old air. And a couple of weeks um kingdom of podcasts but she was talking about this podcast about first cup of coffee and just saying how. Relaxing. It is that it’s zen and I love that I love that it’s she said it’s just like having a conversation with your friend over coffee and it’s just like a nice chill thing to do and I love that I think that’s awesome. So. If I can’t think of stuff to stay say I feel like I can always fall back on the fact that that I’m just offering a zen experience here. Actually really, it’s more of a Dallas experience but we’re not going to to quibble lines there. So um, my point and I did have 1 oh that darinda and I are starting earlier. Um and maybe trying to get our 3 hours done by noon which is great and yesterday I was done by like 1130 and I got more stuff done on the to do list. You guys will be delighted to hear it i. Um, trying not to obsess about like getting everything off the list which I think is helpful. You know it’s that um, you’ll like the measureable goals. The ones that you can actually reach so but I got several things done off the list and so that’s great I got.

16:24.41
jeffekennedy
Bright Familiar uploaded, the audiobook. So just waiting for approval on that and then that will be out soon and other just little piddly things. Oh and so this is where I was had kind of started with all of this I did register for. World con in Chicago at the end of August beginning of September – Chicon. So I am planning to attend that and I also went ahead and registered for world fantasy con in November so planning to be at that and I will be at a polycon. In July so I need to get fact, let me make a note tear put this on my list I’ll get carene to put these appearances on the website.

17:20.45
jeffekennedy
So that’ll be good. So it’s like um, yeah for but but that’s the sound of the ah the world gradually sort of like revving up again. We’re kicking into gear. The other thing that happened yesterday is I got to. Email with an amazing writer someone who I particularly fangirl cut to exchange emails. You guys I can’t tell you what it is yet, but it’s very exciting, very exciting news. Not my career related but otherwise related. So. If you are canny. Your little brains will be thinking about what could this be? Ah yeah, so it was um yeah, particular little fan Girll moment there that I got to email with this writer from my myer. Who I admire I almost never use whom I just dislike whom I once had an editor my quiinsington editor had a special note saying this author hates whom don’t use it. So so yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how shaking it up here. A little bit will do and. Feeling good about things. So on that note I’m gonna go and meet up with the fabulous Darynda Jones and I will talk to you all tomorrow you take care bye bye.

Jeffe’s Furry Editors

First things first: the Romancing the Vote auction is live! I’m offering six months of author coaching to the winning bidder and the bids are climbing! This is an important cause and tons of great stuff from all kinds of wonderful industry folks. Go forth and bid!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is an homage to our furry editors. I have two, my Maine coon cat buddies:

Isabel, who specializes in floof and loving. She is not entirely helpful, so far as keyboard access is involved, but she’s the best at purring companionship. Total win.

I took this picture today. Jackson visits my writing desk daily, politely sitting to the side of the keyboard (win!) and staring at me until I pet him (not ideal). Observers have accused him of whispering the books into my ear. I will neither confirm nor deny. I can only say that, as a ghostwriter, he works pretty cheap.

Meet the Pets!

Check out the awesome cover for the fourth Sorcerous Moons book!! It releases Tuesday, January 24, but you can preorder at a few retailers. The blurb: 

An Enemy Land

Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive.

A Treacherous Court

Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire that threatens to undo them both, he still cannot so much as brush her skin.

A Fight for the Future

With war looming and nowhere left to run, Lonen and Oria must use every intrigue and instinct they can devise: to plumb Dru’s mysteries, to protect their people—and to hold fast to each other. Because they know better than any what terrifying trial awaits…

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This week on the blog, we’re featuring the pets of the SFF Seven. Come on over to see my pretties