- About Perry Gamsby – eWriter
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Creating Your Content
This year marks the fourth year I have earned my living as a professional writer/educator. In the four decades of life prior I gathered up a lifetime of experience as a schoolboy, soldier, security consultant, private investigator, body guard, salesman and marketing expert. All the time I wrote as part of how I made my living. from homework to reports to surveys to sales copy; now and then some fiction, too.
You can learn a lot about my writing and my work from this site. Feel free to explore, spend some time reading the many pages and then, contact me and discuss how I can create some content for you. Web copy, blogs, ghost written books, whatever writing you need I can provide it.
I just finished ghostwriting a small eBook for a US client. Lots of fun and the client was rapt with the finished product, which is how they should be. I now have a couple of other writing jobs bobbing around and of course I am close to the big family vacation in May. I have about 15 hours of face to face tutoring to do between now and May and that is pretty much that. In other words I am free to write for myself! We have money set aside for the trip, the expenses while away and more due when clients pay for work recently completed so life is pretty good. In short we are managing and very happy.
I must say working for yourself like this isn’t for everyone and sometimes I do envy those in ‘regular’ jobs with sick leave, super, holiday pay and basically more money. Then I think how I was dead a few years ago and that every breath is a bonus. Might use that as a story title; ‘Every Breath A Bonus’. Since I brought my fees inline with other professionals I have been found by a different breed of client and I must say I do enjoy not having to haggle over a few cents a word. It does make you try even harder because once you get the taste for decent rates and the income they generate, you can never go back to competing with Third World writers for content mill work.
Now, what will I write about? I have my short story anthology to collate and add to. I have my novel, ‘Never Be Unsaid’ and the eLiterature Project to work on and of course a dozen blogs, some updates on books and some promotional work on my publishing house backlist. And there was I thinking I was on holidays!
I was at the Blacktown Car Boot Sale last Sunday. We got there after noon so it was free to get in and most people were packing up and leaving. The market is held in the old drive-in theatre and next to one of the speaker stands someone had abandoned a 1960s-70s era Olympia manual typewriter. Just like the ones i used to type up incident reports when I was a Military Policeman back in the early 80s. It all works and while it needs a clean up and a new ribbon, the kids love playing with it. These things are German made and pretty much bullet-proof. It will clean up nicely and look as good as the one in the photo.
What I like about it is it is solid, heavy and reliable. A bit like me some would say. I won’t be doing any work on it but I do recall the transition between typewriter and word processor on my desktop computer. It was an Amstrad 1512 and I bought it as they were being replaced by 286 models. It had two 5.25 floppy drives and a CGA monitor. I hooked it up to a dot matrix printer and away I went however I kept the Canon portable electric typewriter I had been using for a few years for invoices and ‘quick’ stuff. Back then dot matrix was the only printers available, it was right before laser and bubblejet (inkjet) came in. Remember the special printer paper with the holes down the sides for the drive sprockets?
When I upgraded to a 386 PC in 1990 or 91, followed by a $600 bubblejet Brother printer I could buy today for $49, with colour print, scanner and photocopier, I never went back to the typewriter. No need as I and my income had caught up with technology. All that was nearly a quarter of a century ago! No matter how technology changes, though, the need for quality writing never disappears. You can have the best writing tools in the business, which I have) and that won’t ensure good content.
Mine is coming along with a couple of pressing projects done and dusted. I have just received confirmation the two Become A Published Author Course anthologies, ‘The Rorschach Seventh’ and ‘The Rorschach Revelation’ ahve left the printer and are on their way to me. We will launch on the weekend of 6-7 April and it should be a lot of fun. I also completed the work for a course of study at diploma level and while in hot debate about one module and the three assignment’s therein being winners or losers, it is good to finish that off; a year’s work finished on time.
I have several ongoing writing projects including a ghostwriting job for an eBook, some academic essays and a rewrite of one of my community college courses. There are some other jobs in the wind but until the money is paid into escrow or a deposit made to my account, they are all just maybe’s. Nevertheless, this is all keeping me busy and I haven’t even thought of the upcoming updates for my StreetWise Philippines titles, the filipino language course promotions or any of the other stuff!
We are five weeks away from the ‘Big Trip’, taking the family to Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. I still haven’t written up my business trip there last November! One of the culprits is the fact the 40% of income from tutoring and lecturing is already up to over 50% and going for 60%. Well, you take it where you can get it when you are freelance. I must say I do look forward to the school holidays which let me catch up with the writing stuff. So, how is your writing year coming along?
During the quiet time the Christmas-New Year period usually brings, I decided to spend some time working on my business rather than in it. I looked at where I earned my writing income last year and found that 40% of my income was derived teaching my online writing and getting published courses as well as tutoring. That left 60%, or the majority of my income, to come from my writing efforts on the web.
Although not as good as in previous years, 8.5% of my annual income was derived from Adsense. Spread over a couple of dozen web sites with maybe four or five actually producing any income, the Adsense money trickles in and basically just covers the costs of hosting the web sites the ads live on and a few domain name renewals.
Book sales accounted for 15% of total income but I have to pay royalties to authors I publish and distribute for, but at least it was good to see book sales growing again. They had fallen dramatically in previous years when my then marketing partner found himself otherwise distracted and the regular traffic building work he did so well at first simply ceased. I had switched to a ‘hands-off’ approach via Amazon and other distributors and while getting a third less per sale, at least I didn’t have to worry about delivering the product, handling the problems and so on.
I earned a little less, 14% for my ghostwriting and a little more for my blog and web site content creation, 16.5%. Together these two areas took in nearly a third of my annual income. Editing services covered the remaining 7%. Now that I had the data to study, what did it tell me?
First of all I knew how and where each client came to me and that told me a mix of networking and referrals got me through the year. I did some marketing to get new clients, in fact 66% of my clientele for 2012 were new, first timers. Most of them were billed more than twice so there was repeat business and that is a good sign. Never forget your existing and former clients but never stop looking for new cheese, as they say.
I enjoyed the ghostwriting but it did take up huge chunks of time and focus for relatively little return, given how long the books took to get written and finished. The same for editing; not a lot of return for a lot of time and brain drain, after all you must be as close to perfect as possible and check every typed character and space! Web content creation was good but often debilitating. Writing over a hundred 300 word articles on the same topic really stretches you. You tend to spend so much time searching for new material and inspiration that eventually it takes far longer to write them than what they pay.
So what was the most lucrative area and what should I focus on this year? Obviously the teaching is worth keeping on as it provides a nice amount of cash for little outlay. I would like more ghostwriting jobs as they provide nice chunks of cash at the end and I can schedule them fairly easily. Web content keeps bubbling along but the place I plan to focus most is the book sales. I have quite a good title list now and they need promoting and marketing and if I do that then sales will increase. The mechanics of selling them and getting the money is all taken care of. All I need to do is invest the time and effort promoting them and that means one thing.
Social media. I must invest the time to really come to grips with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and make them work for me. There is no avoiding this new marketing tool. It is here to stay and will only get more complex and necessary this coming year and the one after that. Watch this space for more about my move into social media in a big way!
Well I’m back. It was a great trip but I returned with pneumonia thanks to sweating like a rapist just walking around, then stepping into aircon buses or shops and getting blast chilled with freezing air. It was a brilliant way to get the creative juices flowing again and I have hundreds of new ideas for stories, characters and dialogue. I also got to visit several historic sites from the Fall of Singapore in 1942, very moving and thought provoking. How would I have managed had I lived then? Would I have lived or died?
While in Singapore the Singapore Writer’s Festival was in full swing and I attended several events. Like writer’s festivals everywhere I felt it was more for readers and thus buyers of books than writers. Except for the fortunate writers invited to speak on panels and present seminars of course. I attended one discussing the value of literary prizes. The panel members had more literary prizes (including a Pulitzer) than I had had curry dinners and I did wonder if they would be so casual about such things were they as yet un-awarded. There is something to be said for writing for prizes as the prize circuit can be lucrative. How one does that was one of the discussion topics but nobody seemed to think you could (or should) write just to win prizes. Why not? They are another form of revenue or income a writer can earn from their work.
I quickly realised the festival didn’t have much if anything to offer those of us who publish independently or online. Not surprising given it was sponsored by book chains and publishers. So what is the value of these festivals? They can get very expensive and are often teeming with people anxious to get a result with their writing but not sure if it will happen. Maybe they are hoping to be discovered, fairy-tale like, by a benevolent publisher who instinctively recognises their latent talent. Dream on.
I moved on and went to Kuala Lumpur by coach. Observing the driving of the average local I revised my plans to rent a car for a couple of days and figured I would be better off taking it easy in KL and not trying to rip around and do and see too much. I was pretty exhausted from the heat and all the walking I had done in Singapore and felt there was little to be gained pushing myself even harder. I met a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner on the bus, ‘Singapore Sing’ who told me what ailments I had just by feeling my pulse, looking into my eyes and at my tongue. he was spot on! He gave me some great nutritional advice and the following day we met and he showed me 20 Yoga positions that should eventually do wonders for me. One of those chance meetings that perhaps wasn’t so coincidental.
I had my 51st birthday in Kuala Lumpur. A friend of mine working there on assignment took me to dinner at a Thai restaurant and then we went on to Traders Hotel 33rd floor Skybar to stare a the stunning Petronas Twin Towers, lit up and looking magnificent. I enjoyed my time in KL and was sad to have to leave the next day and begin the journey home. First to Singapore by coach, then the red-eye flight to Sydney and then straight off to my doctor. The very next day, despite the pneumonia it was back to work tutoring, lecturing and writing whatever people pay me to write. The trip, not counting presents for the wife and children, cost me about $2,500 all up, around $250 a day yet I have gleaned so much more value from those ten days it was worth every cent. I could have saved $500 by flying budget economy but those narrow seats would have been the death of me on the flight back, ill as I was. I could have saved another perhaps $100 by struggling with buses instead of the three or four times I used cabs in Singapore. Another $500 would have been saved had I shared a dormitory in a backpacker hostel instead of having a room and bathroom to myself but if I have to slum it like that at my age, I m not going! Now to turn those ten days into writing that pays!
I am sitting at the Seafood Bar in Terminal 1, Sydney International Airport and I have spent an enjoyable hour or so waiting for my delayed flight to board. Corona Beer, $10 and no lime, just lemon. Coffee, really nice but still, five and a half bucks. A couple of poached eggs on ham over muffins with Hollandaise sauce, $17. Compared to the $7 pies and $11 cold and dry bacon and egg rolls offered elsewhere, or $25 for a few pieces of sushi… not bad value as airport gouging goes. It is a gouge and while the six figure income types think nothing of paying such silly numbers for stuff that you can buy elsewhere for half the price, this is the way it is. Airports are traps, places where you have little choice and the money hungry mongrels who operate them know this. Never forget Sydney Airport is owned by Macquarie and you don’t get much more money hungry than that mob.
So fifty bucks later it’s time to board but I confess I am feeling relaxed. After weeks of stress and working to make sure I make as much as I can before I go and have a business to come back to when I return, I am ready for this trip. It is a business trip and I do intend to make income from it but it is also a break for me. I just wish I could take the wife but someone must care for our five girls. Next time. Now. Time to board and do some more writing. It is NaNoWriMo regardless of where I may be and I have a novel to finish. Plus notes and a proposal paper for battlefield tours, some W Somerset Maugham short stories and a ton more. Stay tuned!
People I know often ask me how do I fill my day. The answer is that I don’t, it gets filled for me! If we look at a typical week there are between eleven and fifteen hours spent tutoring, four hours lecturing to college courses and of course time spent getting to and from these commitments. Twenty hours of income earning time usually requires the same amount of time getting to and from, so that is 40 hours of the 168 each week has to offer taken care of. Grinding the work is one thing, finding it is the really tricky bit and usually one must spend as much time looking for the work and managing the admin as actually doing it. Most of 2012 I have been ghostwriting books for clients and this required 4 hours a day for at least five days of the week. Not all that time is spent writing the book, probably most of it is spent reading the source material and making sense of it, putting it into some semblance of order and coherence. When no longer writing books for others, I try to write for myself but that itself has various ‘facets’.
I have dozens of websites that are supposed to promote various books I sell and yet they need regular maintenance and I have been remiss in providing that time and attention. I have arranged for help from others but they seem to be caught up in their own issues and I understand that. I think for me it is a case of biting off far more than is chewable. I am trying to keep the blogs updated and interesting and I have plans to streamline the web sites and vamp them up a bit. All in good time, no doubt.
I am also redesigning the college courses I offer and tasks like these are scheduled for the two weeks every ten we call school holidays. No tutoring or lecturing during this time means the whole day is mine… except where I have to drop pen or keyboard and do something deep and meaningful with the kids. On top of all that I am a firm believer in ongoing education and currently have a Diploma course underway via eLearning through OTEN and that requires time and input. Apart from all this I need to exercise daily (which I rarely do,much to my chagrin) and eat, sleep and spend time with the wife and kids. So you see, being self-employed online is not always just a case of two hours a day spent by the pool with a laptop! For me it is pretty much a 24/7 lifestyle. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unless I won the Lotto. Then I might drop a few things.
I have published my first Spanish Language edition of a StreetWise Publications title. ‘Hilda Hopkins, Murder She Knit’ is now ‘Hilda Hopkins, El Asesinato que Ella Tejio’, thanks to Maria Nalus of Bogota, Colombia. I have published it in print at Pocket Size like the other novellas and must now make it an eBook in .mobi and .epub and get it out to Amazon.es and iBooks, BN and Sony et al.
I am very excited by this, the first step on the journey of being a truly international independent publisher. It is making the very most of the media and technology available and something all writers that self publish should contemplate. We English speakers are not the only readers in the world. There are billions of intelligent people out there who don;t read English, but that doesn’t make them not worth our while. If our books are good enough, they should be available to as many people as possible, just as we should try and read English translations of as many foreign works as we can. Perhaps in this way we can appreciate our differences rather than use them as an excuse. Truly, el uno mundo! One world!
I am working on a project which will see my books translated into foreign languages, starting with Spanish. I chose Spanish as it has a huge market out there in Latin America as well as Europe and it is easier to follow when formatting (I think). I also have a Hindi translation under way and did have a German one lined up but no word from the translator since a glitch at PayPal had me having to ask him to wait three days to fund the job. (You deposit the money into ‘escrow’ and that lets the translator know the money is there for payment) I also plan to do some in Chinese and other languages.
The Philippines titles will be done in Spanish and German but the big push will be the Hilda Hopkins series. I plan to use these as language readers with English on the left page and the foreign language on the right to make learning either easier and more interesting. I have my translators, a layout expert and a cover designer lined up so watch this space. I hope before august hits I hold in my hand the first foreign language StreetWise Publications book.
I have heard that a fair bit of late, that everyone has a book in them. Some people have more than one and the advent of self publishing technology and the internet has made the dream of becoming a published author come true for millions. But not everybody with that book inside of them can write it, or wants to. That dear and gentle reader, is where I step in! I have added a new page to this site detailing the Ghostwriting I now do for a growing A-List of clients. I will never tell who they are and those who doubt me will remain in doubt. It matters not because my clients and their confidentiality, their trust,is far more important.