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KISMET’S KISS Release Day and Free-for-All-Friday: Publishing Industry Edition!

Welcome to a combination of a Ruby Sister Release Day and a Free-for-All Friday about the changing publishing industry!

Cover of KISMET'S KISS by Cate RowanI’m proud to announce the release of my debut book, a two-time Golden Heart® Finalist, eight-time contest finalist and three-time winner, Kismet’s Kiss. Along the way, Kismet’s Kiss received three agent offers and two publishing offers from small presses.

Here’s the kicker: I’m choosing to publish this book myself on the Amazon Kindle ebook platform. (I’ll also probably self-publish in print through Amazon’s CreateSpace program and I may add ebook distribution through Smashwords and/or Scribd.)

Are you scratching your head right now and wondering why the heck–after the above successes with contests, agents, and publishers–I’m choosing to self-publish an ebook with Amazon? There are numerous reasons (this decision has been a long time in the works, LOL), but here’s a taste:

  • With ebooks and online shopping, there’s no need to pick a single marketing box (like fantasy OR romance, but not both) for a novel so it can be classified for bookstore shelves–and no need to write a story so it will fit into a particular box. (For more on this, see a previous post.)
  • You gain a direct connection with readers–the people most writers truly want to reach–and you can write and publish at your own pace. (Note: Quality editing is a must for any author, self-published or not.)
  • You’ll enjoy greater ownership over (as well as responsibility for) your own novel. You get to follow through with your own vision from storyline to cover art to ebook formatting style. I added images to the ebook file and I had a ball putting them in. I got to be creative on multiple levels and make the book stand out. This thrilled me!
  • I know some folks are worried about ebooks, but in my personal opinion, e-readers and ebooks are an oncoming blessing for readers, for writers, and for books. For example, a recent article in PC World noted this: “Forrester Research estimates around 11 million Americans will own at least one digital reading device by the end of September… Amazon says people buy three times more books on their e-readers than they would with printed products.”
  • The new Kindles are $139 and $189. I suspect there will be a Kindle under $99 by Christmas and under $49 within a year and a half–and it will have good competition, too. E-readers will soon be a common tool for any avid reader. Do I think there’s an ebook revolution coming? YES.
  • Self-published ebooks can be offered at low prices (for example, Kismet’s Kiss is a mere $2.99 for the ebook) while offering high royalty rates to the author (Amazon offers authors 70%–about $2–from each $2.99 ebook sale). And when prices are low, more readers are willing to buy.
  • Kindle books can be read by anyone with a PC, Mac, iPhone, Android/Droid phone, or iPad. And books without digital rights management (DRM) can be converted into other formats (for example, for the Nook or Sony Reader, or PDF, RTF, TXT, etc.) through free software like Calibre. (Mine has no DRM. Convert away!)

So here are a few questions to start off our Free-for-All Friday discussion (but feel free to jump in with your own questions and ideas!): What does being “published” mean to you now? Has your definition shifted since you first dreamed of writing a book? If not, do you think it might shift in the future as e-readers become cheaper and more commonplace? What do you think the next five years of technology will bring to our industry?


Blatant Self-Promotion/Debut Exhilaration coming up. 🙂 Here’s a mini blurb for Kismet’s Kiss:

A deadly epidemic strikes a sultan’s family and only a magical healer from an enemy land can save them. Soon Sultan Kuramos wonders if he can save his heart from the feisty infidel, a woman whose sorcery is condemned by his culture. Varene falls for him too, but can she relinquish her homeland and her principles for the sultan’s love–when he already has a harem?

“Magic, passion, and intrigue–Kismet’s Kiss has it all! Cate Rowan’s uniquely compelling fantasy debut is set in a fascinating and fully realized world where danger lurks in every shadow. Rowan is definitely an author to watch!”
– Alyssa Day, New York Times bestselling author

To buy Kismet’s Kiss (it’s just a wee $2.99, folks 🙂 ) or to read a free sample, head over to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0040SXS9S/. In fact, the Amazon listing is so brand-spankin’ new that it doesn’t even have a description up as of this writing–so you can read a full description at my website here.


Happy Friday, dear blog readers, and ask away!

46 responses to “KISMET’S KISS Release Day and Free-for-All-Friday: Publishing Industry Edition!”

  1. Congratulations, Cate! That cover is absolutely bee-yoo-tee-ful!

    For me, being published still means getting in print with a major New York house. I don’t think there’s an easy answer on whether an aspiring author should choose the traditional or the e-book route. It depends on personal goals.

    I do love the convenience of e-readers, though. They’re great when you’re traveling or if the bookshelves at home are a little too crowded. My only concern is about how quickly software and/or hardware may become obsolete. Technology’s moving so fast these days! Have you (or anyone else) heard of any early e-reader devices that can no longer be used?

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Vanessa, about ten years ago there was a small surge of ebooks and various readers to go with them. As with most technology, they didn’t last–but I think it just wasn’t yet time for ebooks. It is now.

      These days I think the key is not the reader itself, but the format. I bought my first Kindle in 2008 because I believe (and still do) that Amazon has staying power and that its Kindle format will be around as long as my eyes can read (or my ears can hear audio books, for that matter). For a while it looked like the EPUB format would become the standard, but the ereader manufacturers & accompanying stores hobbled EPUB with different flavors of DRM (digital rights management) so that ePub books bought from one store for a particular ereader often could not be read on a different reader. Very frustrating for the consumer. I’d now call the Kindle format the de facto standard because you can read it not only on the Kindle, but on so many other devices. (See http://ipadtest.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/the-abominable-kindle-wins/)

      And I’m all for competition for the Kindle. It spurs innovation, which is never a bad thing. 🙂

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      • I downloaded the Kindle reader *and* Kismet’s Kiss to my iPhone last night. I’m having fun with both now!

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        • Cate Rowan says:

          Yay! Thanks so much, and have fun with both of your new toys. I suspect you’ll get hooked on the iPhone as an ereader. Books are much easier to enjoy on it than I thought they’d be.

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          • I honestly thought the iPhone screen would be too small for e-reading, but it’s easy to navigate and read text. Hooray! Now I don’t *have* to get an iPad…but it would be nice.

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  2. Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

    I’m so happy for you. Many happy sales. Will it be downloadable to my Sony? I’m still a little clueless about ereaders. I’ve only downloaded a couple books. Mine and a couple free reads. I agree that e-pub is the wave of the future. I also agree with Vanessa in wanting one of my books to be in my hand in print. I want to touch it and smell it. They all smell the same on an e-reader.

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Kelly, check this out: http://smellofbooks.com/

      🙂

      As to whether you can read KISMET’S KISS on a Sony Reader, I’m not up on any new developments for the Sony, but since KISS is DRM-free, you can convert it from its native Kindle .azw format to what you need here: http://www.online-convert.com/. I think you’ll want the EPUB or LRF formats, but since I don’t have a Sony myself, check your documentation. 🙂

      You could also try the free Calibre translator software (http://calibre-ebook.com/download). (Calibre seems v. slow to me, though some people swear by it. I’d try the online-convert site first and see if it did the trick.)

      By the way, both sites can help folks with Nooks, Kobos, etc., too!

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      • Re: “smell of books,” I used to work for a publisher who could open any book and tell you where it was printed, and what country the paper was from, just by the smell of the glue and the feel of the paper. He was hilarious — we’d get a fresh shipment in of books, and while the rest of us would ooh and aah over the design or the cover, he’d shove his nose into the spine and confirm that it had, indeed, been printed in Hong Kong on Japanese paper. He’d do this with other publisher’s books, too, not just the ones we’d spec’d out, so I believed in his crazy skill!

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  3. Hope Ramsay says:

    Cate,

    Congratulations on Kismet’s Kiss. I really respect your decision to go e-pub. I was almost at the same place you are now, seriously considering getting into the e-publishing business. Things changed last February, when I got the offer from the traditional big NY publishing house.

    I’m pleased that my book will be out in a traditional way. I am looking forward to holding it in my hands. However, I don’t want anyone taking my Kindle away from me!

    In fact, at RWA last month I didn’t take home a single free book because I just didn’t want to lug them around or pay the shipping cost. I don’t read books in paper anymore because it’s hard on my eyesight. My book will be simultaneously e-published and print published. I will be happy for sales in either distribution channel, but if I’m any indication, the future of publishing is electronic.

    Which raises a couple of interesting questions:

    1) What will authors do at book signings if there are no books to sign?

    2) When will RWA (and their chapters) quit stuffing conference bags with heavy books that have to be shipped home, and start giving us slips of paper with a code that allows us to download a free book?

    3) When will e-publishers get together on a single format that will work across all readers? I know how to convert formats using Mobipocket reader, but the formatting is often messed up, and the conversion process requires people to be pretty computer literate. If e-readers are going to be the wave of the future, booksellers are going to have to quite trying to capture customers by making their formats non-transferable.

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    • Vivi Andrews says:

      1. At RT this year I signed at the Ebook Expo. We had promo materials (bookmarks, cover flats, etc) which we signed. Readers could buy a sticker with a download code if they wanted to take home more than swag.

      3. It isn’t the epublishers or even all the booksellers who don’t agree on a format – it’s the creaters of the ereading devices (Amazon, Sony, Apple, etc).

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      • Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

        1)Don’t you suppose that it’ll be like signing for a UPS package? They take electronic signitures. Right. I signed for my perscriptions at the pharmacy electronically today.

        3)It’s like Beta and VHS, or Tivo and DVR. One will buy the others out and make it all their way or the highway.

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Vivi’s already got me covered. Thanks, Vivi. 🙂

      I confess that the booksigning issue is hard for me to “get” because besides RWA National, I’ve never attended a booksigning in my life. Then again, if Anne McCaffrey or Guy Gavriel Kay were ever to do a signing near me, I’d be hightailing over there. 😉

      As for #2, I’m with you. I used to bring an extra empty suitcase to National so I could take home the free books. Last time I gave them all away before I left the hotel. My Kindle and I have a love-love relationship. (*Cate looks around her office*) I definitely don’t want more stuff to pack up next time we move, LOL.

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  4. liz talley says:

    Congrats, Cate! The cover is so lovely and I’ll admit.. I’m a sucker for a good harem story. Isn’t that every woman’s dream…for a man to have a stable of beauties but choose her because she’s special and he falls in love? Okay, maybe my fantasy.

    I know that many people swing one way or the other with regards to choosing traditional paperback books over reading on an ereader, but I confess that I do both. I love my Kindle but I also love the feel of a real book in my hands. I think there are many readers like me – they like having both options and that’s where I see publishing going. It’s the same way I like to read the book and watch the movie. It’s not a one or the other thing. I do both. So I’m excited about where epublishing is going, but I think books will hang around because…well, people like them too.

    I’ll be downloading the book at some point this weekend. Don’t know when I’ll get around to the reading, but, hey, it will be there waiting for me 🙂

    My question – what logistics are involved in self-publishing? Where did you start?

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      @Liz: I’m totally with you on the appeal of harem stories. When the love of a good woman–the right woman–brings an alpha male to his knees, I’m in. 😀

      I hear you: ebooks vs. print books are like different flavors of good food. Both are yummy.

      The self-publishing for me was pretty simple. I started with a thoroughly edited manuscript and had a book for sale in a few days. The longest part for me was formatting the book, but I admit that I’m a perfectionist and a determined DIY-er. Rather than just creating a simple document in Microsoft Word and tossing it up onto Kindle through the Amazon translators, I spent a couple of days formatting Kismet’s Kiss in HTML with nice touches like drop caps, images at scene breaks, page breaks for new chapters, the color cover included in the download file, etc. (There are various guides on how to do these kinds of things for sale at Amazon and also for free on the Web.)

      Once the document was formatted the way I wanted, uploading was really simple and only involved some waiting. (I’m still waiting for the description to show up on Amazon, but I hear that can take a few days.) Now that I’ve figured out *how* to format in a way that’s visually appealing–which I think adds to the reader’s experience and makes them more likely to look for more books from me–next time should be much simpler and faster. I kept detailed notes about my process. 🙂

      For authors who don’t want to format it themselves, there are plenty of freelancers who will do take your Word doc and format it nicely for the Kindle or other platforms for a fee.

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  5. Kim Law says:

    Very excited about your release day! I just downloaded it to my Droid…can’t hardly wait to start reading it! Good luck!

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      *Thank you,* Kim!

      I just love that smartphones have become ereaders! Take books with you anywhere and read ’em in line at the bank, etc… Whole new world.

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  6. rita says:

    Good morning.
    Thanks for all this info. In the changing world of publishing I think it’s important to be informed about all the possibilities. I also think ereaders will be down in price by the end of the year. A smaller and cheaper ipad is also rumored to make an appearance by December.
    Kismets Kiss in on my Kindle. Yipee

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      *HUGS*

      I bet the first major e-reader to dip below $99 will set off another price war, just like the one with the Nook that brought the Kindle from $239 to $189 (or $139) now. When that happens… Wooowee!

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  7. Thanks for sharing this, Cate. You’re breaking new ground and it’s all so interesting. Congratulations on your release. Look forward to reading Kismet’s Kiss on my Kobo. Did you sign with an agent or did you choose to go this route alone?

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Hi Bev. My previous agent did shop KISMET’S KISS to NY, but for NY the marketing boxes were a problem. (“Is it fantasy? Is it romance? No, you must pick ONE, and if it doesn’t make Marketing happy, ain’t gonna work.”) Some Indie authors do have agents–Konrath has kept his, for example, and I suspect a particular romance-friendly agent will have a big new Indie => trad press deal announced soon. (No, not mine, LOL.) Agents can still sell foreign rights, hardback or mm print/audio/movie, etc., so they can still be valuable to Indie authors (providing the author is selling enough units to make those rights worhtwhile, of course!).

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  8. The cover choice is fabulous! Congrats, Cate, for two things: the release (of course) and blazing a new trail. You’re one gutsy little gal! I’m in awe.

    That said, I’m a print gal. The signed books on my shelves are special to me. However, I have been looking at the possibility of getting an e-reader. I’m not up to too many new tricks, what with technology being obsolete almost as soon as it hits the shelves, but I can see the way this wind is blowing and want to enjoy the breeze.

    I’ll be sure to put Kismet’s Kiss on my new reader (as soon as I make up my mind as to which one suits me and my techno-dudness!)

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Thank you, Gal. 🙂

      As for which ereader, hey, I freely admit I’m biased…but I believe one reason the Kindle is selling so well is that it’s super easy. Even technophobes can operate and enjoy them, no futzing or wires required. Amazon figured out what would make the reader’s experience simple and seamless and they implemented it.

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  9. Cate Rowan says:

    Ack, I’ll have to run out for a couple of hours but will write more replies when I get back.

    By the way, those of you who are downloading KISMET’S KISS, *THANK YOU*! I hope you love it. 😀

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  10. Vivi Andrews says:

    Good luck going the Indie route, Cate! Here’s hoping Kismet Kiss takes off and becomes a huge Kindle success story.

    You’re a braver soul than I. I’d probably give myself a nervous breakdown trying to create a beautiful cover, write the blurb, handle formatting, and arrange distribution myself. So much work! 😉

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      That’s one reason publishers can still survive! I’m very DIY, so it was a joy for me to do the cover and the formatting. Other people prefer to have someone else to handle that so they can just write, and that works great, too. Even as the market changes over the next few years, there will still be publishers AND plenty of freelancers to take care of such things.

      As for distribution…Amazon’s got my back. 😉

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  11. Congratulations, my friend! I’m thrilled to be sitting here reading KISS on my K2 (while I’m waiting on my K3 :-).

    Six months ago I was dead-set against self-publishing. Period. Today I’m prepping my third book to go up on Kindle next month. I put my first one up about a month ago (the other last week) and I’m thrilled with the results.

    E-readers are going to change the face of publishing–and for the better, IMO.

    Congrats again! KISS deserves the chance to find an audience and now it can 🙂

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  12. Cate, congratulations. You’re a brave and talented woman to take the indie leap, and I’m excited to be around to watch you begin this stage of your career.

    Re: What does being “published” mean to you now?

    To me, published is when your work is available for purchase by anyone who wishes to buy it. I used to think that a writer wasn’t published if she had to pay the expenses of publication herself, or if her book wasn’t available in traditional outlets, but lately I’ve revised that opinion. If you’re Janet Evanovich and your publisher drops you, what’s to stop you from printing your own books and selling them directly to distributors? If you’re Ms. Evanovich, you darned well might make more money that way. And no one’s going to tell her she’s not published if she does it that way, so why would it be different for other authors who choose an indie route?

    Personally, when considering my publication options, I view the platform of publication as less important than the income I could expect to gain from that publication, which is why I’m still targeting Harlequin/Silhouette. They seem like the best-paying outlet for the sort of stuff I’m writing, and I like the fact that with them, I don’t have to worry too much about marketing and promotion, or cover design and copyediting. They have people for all that. With them, it would be my job to write, and very little else.

    As I see it, that’s why a writer would sell the rights to her work to a publisher: when they can get that book to market better — and more profitably — than the writer can. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Jamie, it sounds like your thoughts about “being published” have shifted much like mine have.

      Readership and income are two key pieces to me. After I realized how few readers and how little I’d money I’d be making through a small press, even though I’d get “approval”…well, self-publishing became a lot more enticing. More is possible there than most of us realize.

      Even six months ago, it was important to me to “be published”–that is, have someone else deem my work good enough, etc. But after I *got* that approval stamp, I realized it no longer mattered to me. I’ve become very practical about things. (Sounds like you are, too, which is why you’re targeting Harl./Sil. so you can just write.)

      If a publisher of whatever size wants one of my books and I can be sure that they’ll definitely get me a bigger income and/or readership than I could get myself–even factoring in the length of their contract, out-of-print clauses and the changes in the industry–great. (Income and readership aren’t the same, of course, and the balance must be weighed.) Otherwise, I may as well do the work myself. I’d be doing marketing and promo anyway, so formatting, a title, and cover and a blurb? You got it! No big deal to me. Yes, I have all the responsibility…but in the end, I also know the rewards of a job well done. (g)

      Not that a hypothetically self-publishing Evanovich would need to do anything herself. She’d hire what & whom she needed. 😉

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  13. Elisa Beatty says:

    This is so cool, Cate! congrats on the release of your gorgeous book!

    I don’t own an e-reader yet, but I believe completely in the future of e-books. I’ll never stop loving paper books, but I think both kinds can live in harmony (and my house might actually have some SPACE in it again if we can replace a lot of the paper ones with digital.)

    I’m off to download KISMET’S KISS! Will have to read it on my PC, but it’s a start!

    Best of luck with the new enterprise!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Okay…just downloaded it! Downloaded Kindle for PC for free from Amazon.

      The typeface is lovely! Very easy to read…can’t wait to read the rest!

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      • Cate Rowan says:

        *sniff* You made my day, Elisa! I admit didn’t get to choose the typeface itself (that’s Amazon’s call, and it varies depending on whether the book’s being read on a computer, phone or Kindle), but I did design the layout, spacing, headers, and scene break images. A lotta love went into it, so I truly appreciate your appreciation. (grin)

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  14. Laurie Kellogg says:

    My hat’s off to you, Cate. I’m interested in seeing how this pans out for you. Keep us posted. Congratulations on your release. Best of luck!

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  15. Jana Oliver says:

    Congratulations, Cate! Wishing you all the best with your new book and all those that will come thereafter.

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  16. Cate,

    Congrats, girl on the new release. I love the cover you decided on.

    To me an author is author the moment they put pen to page. Whether their words are worthy of being paid for, is up for discussion by their readers.

    You are an amazing woman and you’re making me think twice about taking the leap too. Thank you for providing links for study.

    I have a few questions, how does Amazon report to you the number of downloads– is it monthly, quarterly?

    Who sets the price? And if you don’t mind telling, what % belongs to Amazon?

    Are funds paid directly to you or to Amazon? And if to Amazon, how are you paid? Through paypal?

    Thanks, AJ

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    • BTW: Kismet’s Kiss will be downloaded to my PC this weekend. I don’t have an e-reader, but I so want one for birthday.

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    • Cate Rowan says:

      Your definition of authorship is a really good one. And I’m so glad you love KISS’s cover. 🙂 It was really fun to create.

      I’m delighted to share what I’m learning. I’ve been helped by others who’ve gone before me and I’m happy to spread the knowledge.

      Amazon reports downloads pretty much instantly. Dangerous. 🙂 So it’s good to have some perspective about it and not check it all that often. Otherwise, it’s like a watched pot.

      The author sets the download price. Amazon reserves the right to lower the price to match a competitor’s price, however, so you want to make sure you’re giving price parity if you upload it elsewhere.

      For books selling between $2.99 and $9.99 in the U.S., Amazon gives you 70% of what the customer paid. (Smashwords pays more–85%–but apparently has FAR fewer customers at this point.) For books priced below or above that range, Amazon gives you 35% of what the customer paid. (However, books priced below $2.99 also sell more–the lower the price, the more sales–so it’s a balancing act.)

      Sales in other territories, such as the UK, currently give 35% royalties, though Amazon has said it will change that sometime to match U.S. royalty rates.

      Amazon pays monthly, if I recall correctly, and during the signup process you can choose whether to have them send you a monthly check (minus a $7 fee per check, I think) or to direct deposit into your bank account (free).

      Thanks for downloading KISMET’S KISS, Autumn. I hope you get that ereader for your birthday–what a fantastic gift!

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  17. Elise Hayes says:

    Hey Cate,

    I’m chiming in late since I’ve been out of town–but I wanted to say how proud I am of your decision to do the epublishing. I expect to be the proud owner of a Kindle at some point in the next year, and when I am, I’ll be buying your book. I *loved* the portion I got to read once and can’t wait to dive into the rest!

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  18. […] And then there’s self-publishing to consider… (for more on self-pubbing, refer to Cate Rowan’s previous post) […]

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  19. […] year ago this coming Saturday, I had my first book release for Kismet’s Kiss, a fantasy romance. It had been a two-time Golden Heart® finalist, gotten […]

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