A Mixed Bag

While events on the political spectrum have surprised and delighted me today (and I suspect that somewhere in the afterlife there is one majorly uncomfortable intake interview being done right now), I’ve also learned that someone I knew from Tulsa fandom has died of colon cancer, and a dear friend’s beloved pet has Large Cell Lymphoma (the same kind that my lovably neurotic cat Jordan had) and has a limited amount of time left.

So first off, fuck cancer. Secondly, remember to kiss your loved ones, both human and otherwise, and tell them how important they are to you. Thirdly, get all your necessary tests—boob squishes, cameras up the pooper, whatever is necessary. I know I’m now at the age where losing people and pets is going to happen more and more often, and eventually someone will be posting here about my departure as well (hopefully my nephew Mike, because if it’s Ramón I don’t think anyone will be able to parse “pound your fists in despair repeatedly on the keyboard”). But I’d like to hold all of that off as long as reasonably possible.

In other news I’ll be putting the finishing touches on Crystal Blade Ep 28 after dinner and getting that ready for posting, then I have to go back to formatting Cross Current for wide release. Getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night due to a sciatica attack making me want to cut my leg off has really cut into my work time, yanno?

Bluenoses At the ‘Zon

Crystal Blade Episode 27: Eureka! is live at Kindle Vella. You know the drill.

I have noticed something fascinating with Kindle Vella. As you know, Bob, some of my stuff can get rather steamy and Episode 26 was one of those zesty episodes. I named it Down Mexico Way because that is an amusing nickname for the activity that happened in the episode (and if you don’t know what the term refers to I suggest you read the episode and find out).

Usually when I post an episode, it gets approved within a couple of hours and goes live. But when I posted Down Mexico Way it took a full eight hours to get approved. I then had to edit it slightly (wound up adding a bit to the last paragraph that I needed to delete and move to Episode 27), and resubmitted it. It took another eight hours to get approved. When you release episodes on Vella you are warned that they can take up to 72 hours to be released, presumably so that if a reviewing bot stumbles across something “questionable” in the ep it can be put in a holder until a human reviewer can get to it). I can only assume that either the reviewer bots know what “Down Mexico Way” means or found some key naughty words in the episode that caused them to put it on the, “Yeah, we need a grownup here” list.

Which is good to know for future episodes because there will be more zesty scenes coming up in Crystal Blade. Being aware that it will take at least eight hours for them to be released gives me a more accurate timeline of when I should click the Publish button.

By the way, I’m not complaining about the extra hold. I’m playing in the ‘Zon’s sandbox and I have to abide by their rules, and they will not publish anything that contains certain verboten topics (and with good reason) so they need to check what’s published through them. But it amuses me that some human had to spot check my little episode of languissement.

Looking Like a Tax-Paying Citizen

So today I put on some nice clothes and a bit of makeup because I was heading into the main branch of my bank to open a business bank account for Belaurient. As it turns out they don’t actually handle business accounts (aka ones with DBAs attached) but they could create a separate checking and savings account for me that would be linked to my main account.

Since I have my EIN for reporting tax income I figured that would be good enough (I don’t have my LLC yet anyway) and sat down with Heather to discuss scrapbooking and Daiso while she created my accounts and deposited a bit of money in each to keep them open. She also set up survivor access on all my accounts so that if anything ever happens to me Ramón will have instant access to my money (I already handle his bank account so I don’t need that).

Now that I have the business account set up, I can go ahead and start a business PayPal account. I was thinking of routing my Amazon/Smashwords/Google Play income directly to the business account but 1) the ‘Zon has been having enough problems with getting KDP payments out on time and I do not want to break any links right now, and 2) I don’t have to pay state income tax on those sales because it’s already collected and submitted by the sellers. I do have to pay state income tax on any material items I sell myself, however, so I think it’s best to keep the business accounts strictly for that, and I can transfer the federal tax slice of my A/S/G payments into the Belaurient savings account for quarterly tax payments (I’m doing that anyway with my personal savings account so it won’t be any more work).

And I know, this must be absolutely fascinating to you. Thing is, I’m detailing all this for people who are thinking of getting into indie publishing (or frankly any sort of side hustle) so that they don’t let the business side of the job slide. Get an EIN, set up an LLC or similar, get a separate bank/PayPal/Venmo account to handle the business money, and hire a good accountant who knows all the tax loopholes. It’s a lot of work in the beginning, but in the end you’ll be glad you did it.

Stupid Body Tricks

Crystal Blade Episode 26: Down Mexico Way is live at Kindle Vella. If you enjoy spice, you’ll like this one.

Meanwhile, my left leg is acting up and the knee is hurting like a complete bitch due in part to 1) osteoarthritis, 2) what I think is a sciatica attack, and 3) the mondo hella rainstorm we had in the wee hours of the morning, so I didn’t really get to sleep until 5:00 AM and didn’t get up until noon. This neatly screwed up my plans for the day to go to the main branch of my bank and get my business checking and savings account started. I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

And yes, it is nice that I have the freedom to sleep in if I need it, but I also work every hour the Flying Spaghetti Monster sends so there are tradeoffs, believe me. With luck and a handful of NSAIDs I should be able to get to sleep early tonight, which will let me head out in the morning and hit the bank. Once that’s done, I can start the business PayPal account, and then I can start selling signed books from the website.

I’m also  looking into ways to use the Silhouette to brand the boxes. It’s a little extra work, true, but readers really like having the decorated boxes and it’s only an afternoon’s worth of work to print out and apply the decals to a stack of boxes. If nothing else it give me an excuse to play with the Silhouette and make some more magnetic book marks to add to the books as swag.

I Have So Much Stuff

*rubs mouth* I have been doing my best this year to finish craft projects and get them out the door to the intended recipients or put away in other parts of the house. But somehow my office closet is still full to the brim with bags of projects, two enormous storage containers full of fabric, a serger, boxes of tools, musical instruments, a high shelf full of financial records stretching back seven years, pillows for when visitors need to sleep in my office, and my really cool swashbucker hat.

I thought I was doing pretty well on Swedish Death Cleaning but clearly I have to get on my stick about this because damn. I don’t have any more time this weekend but next weekend I need to pull everything out of the closet, go through it piece by piece, reorganize the shelves and cubbies, and make some hard decisions about letting stuff go. I have sufficient room in that closet and my office in general. I just have to arrange it all in the most efficient manner.

In the meantime the J Crew have been taking turns peeking inside the office while I’ve been walking back and forth with my hands full muttering to myself. They like to sleep there when the bedroom door is closed, but I think even they realize that this is not the time to bother Mom.

I Should Be Writing

Instead, I am going through my office and giving it a medium clean which it desperately needs. For me, medium clean means putting everything away, dusting the surfaces, and vacuuming. (Granted, the office also needs a deep clean, but I need a cruise so nobody’s getting what they need right now.)

Why am I doing this instead of writing? Basically, because I work better in a clean environment. I get distracted when I see crap scattered around me and it’s hard to get into the headspace to write. It’s easier to take a weekend, clean and reorganize everything, and start fresh on Monday.

Of course, in the progress of my medium clean I had to put a lot of stuff back into my office closet. All that did was remind me how badly I want to pull everything out of there and build custom shelves and cubbies that would be more useful for me. Right now it’s a standard bedroom closet layout and I don’t need hanger poles—I do need shelves sized to hold storage boxes, equipment, and other writing and jewelry stuff.

Just have to keep selling books and jewelry so that I can pay for the overhaul, right?

It’s One Of Those Fridays

Crystal Blade Ep 25: Please Please Me is live at Kindle Vella. Go forth and enjoy!

Spent the bulk of yesterday in an organizational frenzy for both Belaurient Press and Belaurient Arts, and I am pleased to say that all the financials are now organized and up to date (and to my shock I am already in the black for both BP and BA), my to do list is pristine, and my EIN application has been processed. Next week I can open a business bank account, open a PayPal business account, and start selling books from the website, whee! And in two weeks once my EIN has been added to the TIN I can get my Texas state tax ID. Ain’t going to piss off the state comptroller nohow.

Putting all the books wide is proceeding—I should have all the Olympic Cove books up on Smashwords and Google Play by tonight, and if SW gets a move on they should be available on B&N/Apple/Kobo/et al by next week. I was noodling with the idea of formatting Stealing Dmitri, Trickster, and Behind the Iron Cross this weekend but I would also really like to deep clean my office and give my closet a proper reorganization. One of these days when I have money I’m going to tear out the shelving in there and put in custom shelving that will better suit my needs. But for now I need to work with what I have, and I know I can set stuff up in a more efficient way.

And I know some people may wonder why I’m bothering with all this when I could be writing, but I’m trying to keep weekends available for business work and cleaning. And to be honest I work better when my environment is clean. I’d rather take a day and get everything straightened out than sit there distracted by the dust rhinos when I’m trying to write.

The Mechanics of Going Wide

It occurs to me that many of y’all probably don’t know what goes into formatting an ebook for a specific sales platform such as Amazon, and you are probably wondering why I can’t just stick my Amazon ebooks up at Smashwords and Google Play. Lemme ‘splain.

My ebooks contain a lot of links. There’s the Other Works page that has links to all of my books, and if the ebook is in a series I have a Series page right up front that lists all the books currently in the series. This is for marketing purposes—ideally a reader will love my book so much that they want to read something else I’ve written. So they’ll check out the Other Works page or the Series page, click on a book that appeals to them, and ideally buy it from whatever ebook retailer they use, thereby allowing me to keep a roof over the J Crew’s head.

The problem is, those ebook links need to be specific to the platform where the ebook is published. For example, I have an Olympic Cove series page in Storm Season that contains links to all of the OC books and short stories. When I publish Storm Season on Amazon, all those links point to the Amazon pages for the OC books (because if someone buys Storm Season on Amazon, chances are they’ll want to buy the rest of the series on Amazon and I want to make that as easy as possible for them).

When I publish Storm Season on Smashwords, which distributes the book to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and a whole slew of other ebook retailers, I have to adjust the links on the Olympic Cove series page so that they point to a Books2Read universal landing page (since I have no idea where a reader may buy the Smashwords ebook version from—could be B&N, could be Apple, could be Walmart, who knows). From that landing page, the reader can then choose what retailer they want and hopefully go on to buy the other books in the series. I do the same thing to my Other Works page—each link points to a universal landing page for that ebook, and the reader can choose the retailer where they want to buy it. I also have to use a slightly different copyright page for a Smashwords book—it’s part of their rules.

When I publish Storm Season on Google Play, I do the same thing all over again—the Olympic Cove series page links have to point to books on Google Play, as do all the links on my Other Works page.

So in order to put all of my ebooks wide, I need three versions of each ebook; one for Amazon, one for Smashwords, and one for Google Play. I use Vellum to format my ebooks, and it makes creating these versions a lot easier than it used to be, but it still takes a fair amount of time because I need to check each book and make sure no formatting weirdness has crept in (which has happened, thus my checking).

Anyway, that’s the process for formatting ebooks for multiple retailers. Print books are a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

Well, That’s Pleasant

Crystal Blade Ep 24: The Art of Conversation is now live at Kindle Vella. Go forth and read.

In other news I just finished entering the Belaurient Press numbers for May and I am currently in the black for the year. Not by a lot, mind you, but even considering that the Amazon payouts run three months in arrears I’ve still taken in more money than I’ve spent (it helps that I haven’t paid for any courses or bought a membership to 20 Books to 50K. Yet). Still need to update the financials for Belaurient Arts but I’ll do that later tonight after I grab receipts from the garage. I know for a bloody fact that I’m in the black for that so I’m not fussed.

While I’m on the subject of Belaurient Press, you’ll be happy to know that Breaker Zone is currently churning its way through Smashwords and Google Play. I’ll be adding the new wide links to the Storm Season and Breaker Zone pages as soon as I have them. By Friday I should have Deep Water and Cross Current uploaded as well, and I’ll add the associated short stories as soon as they’re out of KU.

Then I do Trickster, Stealing Dmitri, and Behind the Iron Cross over the weekend, and the Two Thrones books next week. Mrgh. But once those are all uploaded they’re done (at least until I have to update the back matter, but that won’t happen until the end of June). At that point Nic is doing something nice for herself because she will bloody well deserve it.

I Am the Queen of Organization

I was serious when I said I’m going to start thinking like the small business owner I am.

I already have spreadsheets for my income and expenses so I just have to update those tomorrow with the month’s numbers. But I now also have three separate punch lists in Excel—one for Belaurient Arts, one for Belaurient Press, and one for general Belaurient business, all items with Due By dates and switches to indicate whether or not they’re done (and if not, what has to be done to get them finished. Because sometimes Stuff Happens™).

In addition to the punch lists I have a schedule for formatting books and setting them wide, and once that’s all done by the middle of June I’ll haul my recording equipment into the master bathroom closet and start recording audiobooks (yes, you’re finally getting audiobooks from me. I figure I did a podcast for years, did voiceovers for various training projects, and according to people who have listened to me at cons I give good reading so I may as well do them myself).

As for today, I formatted Storm Season, put it wide, and got started on formatting Breaker Zone (why oh why was I using such huge chapters back then? It is a puzzlement) before I had to run out and pick up some stuff, then make dinner. Once I post this I’m going back upstairs to knock out Friday’s episode of Crystal Blade for Vella, then at 11:30 PM I’ll publish tomorrow’s episode.

And I dunno if this mindset is impressing people, or I’m being rewarded by the universe, or what, but I have sold ten books just on Amazon in the last week. Since my series are no longer in KU and actual sales are the only way I’m making money on the ‘Zon, this is cheering.