All posts by Avery Flynn

About Avery Flynn

Writer. Smart Ass. Lover of Chocolate. Bringing steamy romance with a twist of mystery to the masses, one hot book at a time.

How Much Do You Earn From Writing?

Avery-mermaidI remember when I signed my first book contract and a friend’s husband wanted to know when I was going to buy a second house. I still want to know the answer to that. I think I could swing Barbie’s Dream House (finally!), but I won’t be basking under a thatched roof on my own private island any time soon.

Maybe I should start a Kickstarter campaign for the Avery Flynn island dream home, I hear that works (Yay, Veronica Mars movie!).

Joking aside, we all want to know when we’ll earn enough from writing to give the evil day job the old heave ho. I’ve seen some averages for advances and earn outs. Check out this great post from Brenda Hiatt for breakdowns by publisher. I’ve talked to friends and eavesdropped on others. Yes, I’m that girl. Come on you cannot be shocked by that. And I’ve researched using my Google Fu skills. But everything I found looks mainly at returns on one book (hello, backlists matter) and give self-published authors the short shrift.


Well most of the mermaids in this Waterworld Mermaid lagoon are too polite to ask, but you’re stuck with me today so I’m going to go for it. I want to know how much money you made from writing romantic fiction in the past year. Answer the anonymous poll below and you’ll get to see the results right after you vote.


*Note, only include income that went into your bank account (no counting agents’ cuts) from advances and all romance books sold, including from your backlist.

Not seeing the vote buttons? Click here to vote.

Robin Covington Gets Lucky in the Waterworld Mermaid Lagoon

Friends, mermaids, romance readers, I have cornered the always fun Robin Covington in the lagoon to get the goods on all the really gossipy stuff about her latest release, His Southern Temptation, including how often she checks her sales numbers, how she manages to write so much and if she’s ever dated her own Lucky.

Avery Flynn

You ready to rock the lagoon?

Robin Covington

You bet!

OK, we just left a Savvy Author chat about getting it done. So give us the secret to making writing work in your life.

Hmmm. I have a husband who likes to have attention now and then and two small kids (10&8) and a full-time job as attorney for the Navy. So, my writing fits in around soccer, school, work etc. My only secret is learning to write anywhere with any snippet of time I can steal.

I love the e-mails I get from you about how you write in the car outside of the kids’ activities. Have you ever gotten any strange looks from the other parents?

Oh yeah. They all think I’m a little weird (and they are right) but I live in a small town and most know that I am writing one of “those” books and they just laugh.

LOL. Speaking of “those” books congrats on His Southern Temptation booking it up the charts. Tell the truth, how often do you check the numbers?

I have no shame – hourly. My iPhone makes my mania easy to maintain.

God, you make me laugh. OK, I’m biased when it comes to Lucky, your hero in His Southern Temptation. Did he start out as a spark of an idea or burst to life in living color?

I loooove Lucky. He burst to life in full, annoying, pesky color. He badgered me to write him first – I mean, why wouldn’t I? Right? But, Jackson (of the four men) spoke to me as the one to set the tone for the series and to give the perfect backdrop to bring all these guys back together. So, Lucky had to wait . . . and even when I wrote him, he surprised me with some of the twists.

I think just about every woman dated a Lucky at one point. Did you?

Oh yes – and I married him.

And no . . . Lucky is NOT my hubby. But I would kill to have Taylor’s bod.

He’s looking over your shoulder right now isn’t he? *waves* Hi Mr. Covington.

Ha! No – he’s watching MMA fights.

Speaking of Taylor (who I would also consider going Buffalo Bill for that body), she is a woman who is really dealing head on with the craziness of her life. She’s ballsy as hell. I saw a poll recently of readers and most said they wanted to see more strong heroines in contemporary romance. Do you think that’s true?

Yes, I do. When we take workshops or read about the craft of writing romance – we are told that we need to write women characters that our reader can relate to. The hero should be someone you could fall in love with and you should want to be the heroine. I think that women today are strong and brave and so talented in every way. They are also juggling so much stuff – so a heroine like that is what resonates. It might take the entire story for her to get there – but that is a ride they want to take.

So what makes Taylor relatable?

Oh – she is like so many of the women I grew up with in the rural South. We were good girls – not too good- but we did what was acceptable. I know that I and so many of them really found our own voice when we left home. Taylor did that and followed her own dreams – maybe to the extreme – but she found her way to be her true self.

That’s awesome. OK, I’m wrapping it up with the most important question I’ve ever asked you. You ready?

Ummmm . . .

Matt Bomer or Joe M?

Ha! Ummm . . . I don’t get the Bomer thing at all . . . and Joe is my boyfriend so . . . totally Joe!

Don’t get Bomer? That gives me a sad. OK, let’s toast to your poor decision making. There has to be a bartender hiding somewhere in this lagoon.

Pabst Blue Ribbon please! ; )

Now that really is sad.

His Southern Temptation by Robin Covington
Some women are bad. Some women are a bad idea. The best ones are both…

As a Black Ops assassin, “Lucky” Landon has had more than his fair share of close calls. Now he’s turned in his sniper rifle for the simple life of his small hometown. So the last thing he ever expected was to end up at gunpoint. Or that the woman holding the gun would be his best friend’s little sister and Lucky’s on-again/off-again lover.
Taylor Elliott is Trouble, and she likes it that way. And seeing Lucky again? Well, he’s been her dirty little secret for the past few years and everyone knows that secrets in a small town are almost impossible to keep. But Taylor has bigger problems on her plate. Like the local mob boss who wants her dead.
And right now the only thing standing between Trouble and disaster is a hottie named Lucky…

Fun, Free Promo. No Really, I’m Not Kidding.

OK, grab your beverage of choice and take a dip in the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon for a little bit of promo fun.

Recently, I came across a free website that helps you make digital wallpaper. This is a great gimmie to post on your website for fans to download. Or if you have a street team, you can provide member-only wallpaper with your characters’ quotes, book covers and more.


Super cute, right? Just click to see a full-sized version you can download and use as your digital wallpaper.

I started out by doing a quick Google search for customizable wallpaper programs. Here’s the one I used to create the wallpapers featured in this post. All you have to do is pick a background, add images and text and bam! you have wallpaper.


You can add any photo you’d like to the backgrounds provided. They have solid backgrounds too.


There really isn’t a learning curve for this. The most important thing is to hit the save button before adding additional elements to the wallpaper. Also, you can add as much text as you want, but there is a limit to how much you can add at one time. When you reach that limit just place the text where you want it, hit save and then add more text until you have everything on there that you want.


This one’s my favorite version. Which one has your vote?

Cool, right? You could use this for book releases, author branding, celebrations or just about anything else. How fun would it be to have a contest for the best fan-produced wallpaper? That would be a great way to get others to help you promote your books.

Eros Steams Up the Waterworld Mermaid Lagoon.

You may only think of Eros on Valentine’s Day, but he’s thinking about your love life year round. Thanks to help from Tall, Dark and Devine author Jenna Bennett, Eros is steaming up the Waterwold Mermaid lagoon with Avery Flynn.

No! Not that way. You pervs. 🙂

So how do you feel about the whole fat baby in diapers image you’ve got?

TDaDHow do you think I feel, Avery? I mean, look at me! Does this look like a baby in diapers to you? I’m a primordial god, born of Darkness and Night in the abyss before the earth was formed. A Greek god, no less. Tall, dark and divine. Diapers? Sheesh.


*Drools on self in the lagoon because he’s right, the man is HOT* The bow and arrow, are they real or just public relations?

Real. Unfortunately. But I’ve put them away, I swear. They’re nothing but trouble. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much better when people fall in love without the arrows. Just look at what happened with Psyche. Three thousand years wasted on the chit, and it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for those bloody arrows. So no more arrows for me.

What advice do you give to the lovelorn?

Keep looking. There’s someone out there for everyone. Sometimes it just takes divine intervention to find them. Call Made in Heaven if you run out of patience. (Hey, a god’s gotta make a living somehow. It’s not like I can snap my fingers and have electricity, you know. ConEd still wants to get paid.)

Made in Heaven, I love the name of your matchmaking business. What’s the explanation for those who seem to fall in and out of love constantly? Is it a love addiction or have you started drinking heavily again and are just flinging arrows this way and that?

I’m not drinking. Why would I drink? I have Annie and an endless supply of cookies. It’s a good thing I’m immortal and unchanging, or I’d be fat by now.

I imagine Dion might have something to do with it, though. D’you know Dionysus? It sounds like something he’d be a party to.

It does sound like him. *sigh* He’s so dreamy. What are the three worst places to meet true love?

The worst places? Dionysus’s bar… although it worked out all right for me. Prison. Boot camp?

I’m not sure it matters. True love is true love, right? It conquers all. Even prison. Or boot camp.

What are your favorite romantic movies?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Casablanca. The Princess Bride.

Excellent choices! Kissing a frog – could it work?

You’re the one down there in the water with the frogs, sweetheart. Why don’t you give it a try and let me know?

You know, I just might. 🙂


Get to know Eros a little better in Tall, Dark and Devine by Jenna Bennett.
Eros, the Greek god of love, swore off the useless emotion after his ex ran off with some Viking godling. He’s lost all interest in his matchmaking business, Made in Heaven, until he spots the sweet baker who works across the street. Before she stirs his sullen heart, he’ll match her and get back to his ambrosia-laced wine in no time.Lonely baker Annie Landon has given up on finding Mr. Right. What she needs is Mr. Right Here, Right Now, and this so-called “Greek God” she’s heard is on the rebound sounds exactly like the perfect kind of distraction. But picking up the bitter, workaholic is easier said than done…especially when he seems unreasonably determined to match her with someone else.

Today? You’re Dead To Me

I don’t know about you, but this is how I try to start my day. At least after the first twelve cups of coffee.


But there are days that pick me up by the red highlights and tosses me around like a mouse being thrashed to death by an alley cat.

And I want to do this to the day:


Then, someone does something that normally would make me giggle – or at worst roll my eyes – and I overreact like this (sorry Denny):


As we all know, a good friend will call you on your bullshit. And when she does (thank you Denny) I’m as embarrassed as if I’d just gotten caught doing this:


But it’s all good, because that helps me get to that place where I can do this:


OK, I’m not gonna lie. I can do that because of a little help from this:


and good friends who commiserate with me like this (thanks Robin and Kim):


Finally, I beat that awful day in a dance off.


Then, I wake up and it’s a new day. Damn it, I will own it. You will too.


Ask a Mermaid: More of Courtney Milan’s Profit and Loss Secrets Revealed

Ask a MermaidjpgNormally, Ask a Mermaid is limited to one question and a handful of answers. However, when Courtney Milan agreed to answer all of our questions about determining profit and loss, how could we say no? The conversation started after this discussion on Dear Author about the hidden costs of 99-cent books. In the comments, Courtney revealed she runs a profit and loss analysis for each of her titles.

We had to find out more and Courtney agreed to come hang out in the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon and explain it all. It was all so awesome that we had to drag her back into the pond for a second day. (You can read day one here.)

How could a writer implement this in their business plan?

Here is my shocking answer: I don’t really know. I don’t have a business plan besides: “Write books, hope people buy them.” I know that it seems contradictory in comparison with the fact that I have this huge, massive, detailed P&L procedure, but I’ve read about business plans and every time I think of doing one, it sounds boring so I don’t do it. Bah humbug. I like examining trees. I don’t care about what the forest looks like.

I have now horrified every accountant who was nodding her head about my P&L procedures.

Do you do a profit/loss projection for every title?

I do a profit/loss projection for every discrete project, not just every title. Let me explain. After I decided to self-publish, I got an introduction to a German translator, and the opportunity to have her translate my novella into German. I already had a few of my first books translated into German, and so I thought, basically…well, is this worth it?

So I ran a P&L. I estimated I would pay a little more than $2,000 for the translation and proofreading. Since I was planning to sell the book at €1.99, I’d make about 83 cents per sale—meaning I’d have to sell about 2,400 copies to make a profit on that particular project. At the time I had literally no information about the German digital market. At the time when I agreed to do this, there was almost no digital market to begin with! had only just opened its doors—in fact, I started talking to Ute, my translator, before went live. Apple’s iBook store was open in Germany, but the volume was super-tiny. I used estimations from the early US ebook market percentages to do my P&L, and I figured that I would be lucky to make my money back in two years. Worst case scenario was that I would get about $50 in income, making a loss of $1950. Best case scenario was that I would make about $2500, which was an infinitesimal profit.

So…why did I do it anyway? Because when I was looking at the income side of the column, I realized there were intangibles in the income side. Having a low-priced short would catalyze sales of my other books, which increased the chances that I would be able to sell foreign rights for my other books. I was also purchasing information—I wanted to get some idea of what the size of the market was for German language books, and this would allow me to know what sales looked like, and to get some idea of when the German language market was ready to take off.

Luckily for me, the market took off much faster than I thought—and I learned a ton about selling to new areas where I hadn’t yet broken in. One of the big things that I learned was that reviews were important to sales. My sales did a huge jump when I got my first review on So when I put up my second book, I contacted a number of reviewers and sent them review copies in exchange for an honest review. That in turn meant that my second book started with an even bigger bump in sales.

It’s okay to choose to do a project that you think you’ll lose money on if you think you’re taking that profit in other coin—goodwill, information, as a trial run, because you like working with certain people and want to continue doing it…

This will freak some authors out. Should it?

Courtney_075webIf this really freaks you out and you don’t want to do it, nobody’s holding a gun to your head. My P&L statements are something that I think are of more use to me in determining when not to spend money (and thus reduce expenses), to make me think about what I’m getting from taking on a project. But as noted above, I don’t even have a business plan and don’t plan to write one because I think it sounds boring.

So. I’m not one of those people who will say, “If you don’t do it my way, you are doing it wrong!” Do it whatever way works for you.

Does this only apply to self-publishing or can traditionally published authors use this tool also?

I think that for me, the purpose of running a P&L is twofold.

1. It makes me think about the expenses I incur. Are they worth it? Really? What am I buying for my money’s worth? I had to ask myself, “If this expense is the one that meant I didn’t think it would be profitable to run the project, would I think that it was necessary?” In that sense, running a P&L is like keeping a food diary.

So, for instance, the P&L made me reconsider the expense of attending conferences. What are they getting me? What are they costing me? Does it make sense to spend $2,000 to go to MegaCon just so that 15 more people buy my book, or is there a better way to get 15 people to read my book?  That was a question that I wasn’t doing a good job of asking myself, and it really helped me clarify my thoughts and curtail spending on unnecessary things that weren’t advancing my bottom line. And that’s something that I think every author can benefit from.

2. It makes me think about the non-monetary value that I get from things. There are some projects that I’ve taken on despite the P&L. For instance, I make large-print editions of all my works available through CreateSpace. It costs me $25 to put those versions in expanded distribution, and it’s perfectly clear that I may very well not earn my money back on those. I still keep doing it, though, because I think that it’s important to keep my books accessible to readers who want to read in print but can’t read small type. I get non-monetary value out of making my books accessible. The P&L forces me to admit that I’m doing something for the nomonetary value.

Just because the P&L isn’t favorable doesn’t mean I have to say, “Well, screw it, it’s not profitable enough.”

It does focus my efforts, though. Both of these things are useful for all authors.

What else should we have asked that I didn’t?

You didn’t ask about the value of an author’s time or opportunity cost. (These things are related, of course.) But there are already so many words in this interview that I think we’ll all be happier if I just shut up now. 🙂


We don’t know about you, but we could sit in the lagoon with an adult beverage and chat with Courtney for another few days.

Ask a Mermaid: Courtney Milan Explains Author Profit and Loss

Ask a Mermaidjpg

Have a question for Ask a Mermaid? Shoot us a line.

Normally, Ask a Mermaid is limited to one question and a handful of answers. However, when Courtney Milan agreed to answer all of our questions about determining profit and loss, how could we say no? The conversation started after this discussion on Dear Author about the hidden costs of 99-cent books. In the comments, Courtney revealed she runs a profit and loss analysis for each of her titles.

We had to find out more and Courtney agreed to come hang out in the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon and explain it all.

In writer terms, can you explain a profit/loss analysis is and why authors should implement one?

A profit/loss analysis is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a document (officially, I use a spreadsheet) that forces you to figure out what you would have to spend to do a particular project, and that projects what the potential profits are. In order to do this, you need to be able to figure out what you will need to spend money on—this is the easy part, although there are some tricky things involved—and to project about how much you’ll make.

Where were you at in your career when you start doing profit/loss extrapolations on your titles?

I did my first profit/loss when I was considering self-publishing. I compared what my contract offered me, and considered what my potential income was from both a self-publishing and a traditional publishing contract.

But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have done one for my publishing contracts! One of the things that doing a P&L does is it forces you to think about what the return is that you’re getting on your investment.

What did you base your formula on or did you create it from scratch?

Courtney_075webA very long time ago, I read an article on a publisher’s P&L statement from Anna Genoese (available here), who is now a freelance editor, but at the time of writing, she worked as an editor for Tor. When I read it, I was still an infant in the world of publishing, so I took it simply as an interesting note—something to think about what publishers did.

When I was thinking about becoming a publisher myself, I decided that I needed to do a P&L statement of my own.

As Anna Genoese says on the linked page, the calculation there is firmly rooted in the old print era. But you can get the basic idea of what it’s about: You need to figure out all the places you’re going to spend money, and then try to figure out how much money you’re going to make.

Can you outline how you perform a profit/loss projection?

In order to do a P&L, you make two columns: Income and Expenses.

The easy column to figure out is expenses. I say that column is easy not because it’s not time-consuming, but because it is composed of expense items that are knowable before the fact. Your job is to figure out how much you are likely to spend on the production of a title. In order to do that, you need to walk yourself through the process of what you’d do to put the title out.

If you’re traditionally publishing, you might include:

  • A prorated portion of expenses related to your computer, printer, internet connection, and office;
  • The cost of research materials and research trips related to the project;
  • A pro-rated portion of expenses for attending writing conferences during the year and dues paid to writing organizations; and
  • The cost of print mailings, e-mail newsletters, bookmarks, promotional items, contest giveaways, and other forms of advertising.

If you’re self-publishing, you might include all of the above, plus:

  • The cost of a developmental editor, a copy-editor, and proofreading;
  • The cost of a cover;
  • The cost of formatting a book;
  • The cost of a copy-writer;
  • The cost of an ISBN; and
  • The cost of copyright registration.

Some people will be able to avoid a few of the line item costs by using their own time or the time of friends as a substitute, or by skipping some items altogether. For instance, most people write their own copy, or get friends to help them with it, and many people don’t get ISBNs, and those are perfectly reasonable choices to make.

The costs of these things are discoverable. Do research. Find out what average costs are for editors and covers and formatting. Ask yourself what a reasonable amount to spend on advertising is, and make yourself justify whether it’s worth the cost. Add a buffer amount, because inevitably, especially when you’re first starting out, you will make missteps—you’ll hire a proofreader because they’re cheap, and discover that they’re not actually very good and you have to pay someone else to redo the book. (I’ve done that, yes I have.) You’ll get a cover and send it to friends and they’ll say, “You know what? That’s terrible. You can’t put that out there.” (I have done that, too, yes I have.)

This will take a little work and research on your part, but it’s work and research that only needs to be done once; after you have your stable of good people, it’s a lot less work on a going forward basis. The first time is definitely the most time-consuming.

The hard part for a self-publisher is trying to estimate income.

(This is hard for traditional-publishers, too—you don’t know if you’ll earn out your advance, if you’ll sell foreign rights, etc.—but at least you know what your advance actually is.)

To estimate income for self-publishers, we use a trick used by traditional publishing. They estimate income by looking at “comps”—that is, it tries to identify books that are comparable, and uses the sales from those books to estimate the sales potential of your books.

So in order to project your income, you need to figure out who you are comparable to, and that is not easy. This is what you need to do. You need to identify authors who are already publishing who are (a) at your approximate stage of your career, (b) write in the same subgenre, and (c) have the same reach as you in terms of social media and fanbase. You need to estimate what their sales are.

Pause for a second. You may be wondering how you can estimate another author’s sales. There are three methods that I can think of.

1. Find people who share sales numbers—there’s a lot of them in self-publishing! Look for people in your subgenre who are most like you.

2. Identify people who are like you and ask them directly if they’re willing to share sales numbers. Many of them are. If it’s someone who is a friend of yours, they may be more willing to share. If they’re someone who seems upfront about things, they’re probably willing to share. If it’s someone you don’t know who has never posted about their numbers? Enh. It can be considered kind of rude to ask about numbers, so don’t go around badgering people willy-nilly

3. Take a look at books written by people who are like you, look at their Amazon rank, and use Theresa Ragan’s handy-dandy sales ranking chart to try and estimate how many copies they’re selling a day, and from there, make a reasoned guess as to how many copies they will sell within a year.

There is substantially more variation in sales, though, for a digital self-published project as compared to a print one from a major publisher. For a print project, most publishers have a pretty good idea how many copies of a title they can get an account to take, with some variation allowed, and once a book is on a shelf, they have some good statistics as to how many of those books get returned.

For a digital project, it’s much harder. Some books take off right away. Some languish and never move. And there are numerous intermediate options.

When I was doing my estimates, I came up with a best guess scenario, a worst case scenario, and a holy crap, that would be awesome scenario.

Can you share an example of using your formula for one of your books?

51KqDUqK1jL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Absolutely. The first calculation I did was the calculation for Unraveled, which was the book I could have either sold to Harlequin or produced on my own.

The expense part was pretty simple—just the application of time and elbow grease.

To find comps, though, was a little more difficult. I had one advantage, and that was that I had an example of a book and an author that was pretty similar to mine—that would be my own books. At the time I was making the decision, Unveiled had just released from Harlequin. Even though the price point was different, the Amazon rank + a sales ranking chart from the time allowed me to estimate about how many copies it was selling. I estimated that it would sell about 10,000 digital copies in the first year of its release, which at a price point of $3.99 would make me about $26,000 in income. That was my best guess scenario for Unraveled.

My worst case scenario was that it would sell about 3,000 copies in a year, for an income of $8,379. I don’t really want to identify what I used as a comp for that because pointing to another author’s book and saying, “This is the worst case” is really not a nice thing to do.

For my best case scenario, I used a comp from Gwen Hayes, whose short story Second Son of a Duke had been eating up the charts. She told me how many copies she’d sold in a few months, and what the tail-off effect was over time. I extrapolated from that that my best-case scenario would be that I sold around 20,000 copies in a year, for a total of $51,850 in income.

In my case, I was running tandem P&L reports, because I also had a contract offer from Harlequin on the table. They offered me $35,000 for the next book, and I was fairly certain that it would take me a very long time to earn out that amount, so that meant I would be getting $29,750 (after my agent’s cut). I’d also have fewer expenses.

So if I only looked at the first year of my P&L, I would have said to go with Harlequin’s offer. But year  two was where I thought I would get ahead: I projected about half the sales from year 1 in year 2, making the worst case scenario $12,568, the best guess scenario $39,000, and the best case scenario $77,775.

Doing the P&L this way forced me to accept that I was taking a risk—that there was a real chance that I would lose money by turning down Harlequin’s offer—but that the upside potential for the book was much, much larger by choosing to self-publish.

Note that there are two things that factor into this calculation:

1. How risk averse you are, and

2. What you think the time-value of money is.

If, for instance, I had needed the income from my writing to live on, I’m not sure I would have turned down Harlequin’s offer. It is hard to turn down money you need to pay the rent today with the possibility that you might end up on the streets glaring you in the face. Second, it’s always possible that I could make money into years three, four, five, and six—in fact, even from year sixty—from both my traditional and self-publishing contracts. The truth is, though, that making $10,000 sixty years from now is not the same as making $10,000 now. I have to figure out how much I value having money sooner. What I end up doing to approximate the time-value of money is to make some reasonably positive assumptions about years one and two for all cases, and to neglect the income from years three to infinity. Since I’m doing this for decision-making reasons alone, I don’t feel badly about that. If I were presenting this information to a bank or a decision-making body, I’d have to do a better job at estimation, but I don’t.

As a note: At this point, I don’t use any comps but my own books, and I tend to be very conservative about the performance of my own books.

It turns out that with the exception of two projects, I have consistently exceeded even my best-case scenarios. My estimates are probably too conservative. I don’t plan to adjust my calculations, though—it’s good for me to remember that even though things are going well now, there are no guarantees for the future.


Curious about how you can implement Courtney’s profit and loss system yourself? You’re in luck! Courtney is diving back into the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon tomorrow to explain how you can do that and more.

This Will Scare the S#*T Out of You

I rearranged my office the other day and pushed my desk closer to the heater vent so I wouldn’t keel over from what the fab Mr. Flynn has diagnosed as colditis. The bad new is, it didn’t work. I’m still freezing my butt off. The good news is I found a bunch of books I forgot I had. Don’t you love it when that happens?!?

One of my favorite random books is 1,001 Facts That Will Scare the S#*T Out of You by Cary McNeal ( That is the actual title. If it was up to me, I’d have typed out shit and let the other mermaids try to take me down. Oh wait, I just did it. I don’t feel as badass as I thought I would.

Anywho … back to the book. 

1,001 Facts is one of the books that I pick up whenever I need to remind myself that I can’t reach through the phone and strangle annoying people. (Hey, we all have coping mechanisms.) The book has factoids that will make you call out for mommy on a number of topics including animals, human misbehaviors, workplace misery, sports and more. This list from 1,001 is in honor of the cold and flu season that arrived at the Flynn household over the holidays.

WARNING: If you’re a germaphobe go grab a few Clorox wipes. Who am I kidding? Like you’d even touch a computer keyboard without a hazmat suit.

1. Office desks have 400 times more bacteria than toilet seats.

2. The place where you rest your hands on your desk is home to 10 million bacteria at any given time.

3. Demodex mites, or follicle mites, live in human skin. By some estimates, you have a colony of 1,000 to 2,000 living in your skin right now.

4. Bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes, turning one bacterial cell into 16 million in just eight hours.

5. A sneeze expels germ-filled droplets up to 30 feet.

6. Finger holes in bowling balls have been found to contain substantial amounts of fecal contamination.

7. Flushing the toilet can propel small drops of aerosolized fecal matter through the air as far as 20 feet.

8. The most germ-laden place on your toilet isn’t the seat of even the bowl; it’s the handle.

9. One pound of peanut butter can contain up to 150 bug fragments and five rodent hairs.

10. Ancient Romans used human urine as an ingredient in their toothpaste.

Bonus: A rat can compress its body to fit through an opening as small as a half-inch in diameter, making it almost impossible to rat-proof a building or home.

Anyone know where I can get one of those hazmat suits?

Ask a Mermaid: What Needs To Be On My Shelf?

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Dear Mermaids,

I’m overwhelmed by the number of writing craft books out there. What are some of the must-reads that I need on my shelf?

Book Fish

We hear you Book Fish. The lagoon’s library is stuffed to the gills (pardon the pun) with craft books. Some are highlighted and have notes in the margins. Others have barely been cracked.

There are tons of craft books available, but which ones make the keeper shelf? To find out, we asked five amazing, best selling authors. Here’s what they said:  Continue reading

Facebook: My New Frenemy

Oh Facebook, you’re like the girl who tells you she loves your shoes only to follow it up with: “If you like that style.”

Yeah, Facebook you’re my new frenemy.

As you probably know, Facebook has implemented a new promote button to fan pages and profiles. Here’s the simple version:

1. Any status update you put on Facebook is only seen by a percentage of your friends and fans.

2. However, for a nominal fee you can promote a status update so it is seen by more of your fans/friends and their friends.

My fan page has 952 fans. These are people who’ve opted in to hear news from me. I love these folks. They’re awesome.

On November 26 (a Monday), I posted a photo of a contest winner with a link to another giveaway I was having. According to the Facebook gurus, adding a photo increases your chances of being seen on a newsfeed. Four people liked the post and one fan commented on it. Ninety people or 9.4 percent of my fans saw the post. We can agree this is not a great percentage. However, if I paid to promote the post for $10, all of my fans would see it (potentially). Or I could pay $15 and reach at least 1,680 of my fans and their friends.

On November 16 (a Friday), I posted a quote from a positive review for Passion Creek with a link. I paid  $15 to promote this post. Note: The amount you are charged to promote varies depending on how many fans you have and how many folks you could reach. More than 9,100 people saw this post – 7,975 of whom saw it because I paid to promote it. Of those, 231 liked the post, eight commented on it and three clicked the link to the review.

On November 25 (a Sunday), I used HootSuite to schedule and post a status update with a link to a Tumbler of men reading. Fifty-seven people saw the post. That’s 6 percent of my fans. No likes. No comments. That is the kind of result that makes very unladylike words spill from my lips. Why the difference? According to all those Facebook gurus it’s because Facebook’s algorithms rank posts from other sources that go to Facebook (a scheduler like HootSuite) at about the same level as pond scum.

End result? Facebook can still be a marketing platform for you but you going to end up paying for that reach – even if you’re targeting your own fans who want to hear from you. And you won’t just be paying with money. You’ll be paying with time by hand-posting status updates on Facebook instead of using a scheduling application.

Paying to promote gets your status updates seen by more people. However, if you’re going to go this route, I’d recommend using it judiciously unless you want to be paying out the wazoo.

Final thought? I can’t wait for the new My Space platform to send me my invite.