Posts Tagged ‘content’

Having Some ‘Me’ Time

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

After returning to full-time self-employment I confess I am enjoying some ‘Me’ time. Not much work on at the moment so I am taking it easy, which my cardiologist is no doubt happy about. I tend to be my own harshest critic and drive myself pretty hard; something I need to ease up on.

Yesterday I enjoyed a coffee with my parents and a quick trip to the locksmith to get a second key cut for my Land Rover Defender. I was beating myself up over the fact I wasn’t at the keyboard ‘working’; but in fact I was working. I was thinking about several projects at once, more or less. You have to put value on your ‘Me’ time because it is valuable creative thinking time. Ghostwriting is not like a 9-5 job where you swap your hours for someone’s dollars. You can produce a lot of money in a short burst of brilliance but forget it took hours to get those thoughts together.

On the weekend I worked on the Sunday presenting one of my community college course. I forget it is work as I enjoy it so much. It is work and it does drain one, but it is a lot of fun, too. It also pays the rent and as a freelance one must keep in mind your income will come in at different times and in different amounts. Some weeks there will be a cashflow issue and others money is everywhere. Managing it is the trick.

Lately I have put away a couple of academic jobs and am bidding for a major textbook re-writing project that will see me out for the year, even provide work for my two sub-contractor writers. I have had three college courses run this term and will soon bill for them, so the cash flow will not be a problem… for the moment. I am teaching myself not to look too far forward but to live in the moment with an eye on the future. Whenever I have needed money, something has turned up and it always will. so have faith, I say.

I tried that 9-5 ‘steady job’ thing over Christmas and I must say in hindsight being retrenched was the best thing other than a regular payday. Now, I am focusing on some new Philippines related eBooks and the third in the Sarah’s Child trilogy, hopefully out by July with the three volume omnibus set in time for Christmas. This time it will have me listed as the author ‘with Paul England’ as the supplier of the original idea and content which will more accurately reflect who did what. I am confident I can market this and make Paul and myself a tidy sum, split 50/50, to help us get over next Christmas. Stay tuned, the eWriter’s life is never dull.

What I Wrote In 2014

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

2014 was a solid year for writing with two novels and two self help books written and published. I can’t tell you the titles of the two self help books, but one was a martial arts book, the other a financial success tome. The two novels were ‘Sarah’s Child’ and ‘Sarah’s Turn’, based on original information given to me by Paul England. Both books have been selling well and I have some ideas for #3, ‘Sarah’s End’ I have discussed with Paul. I might write that one ‘on spec’ and get it out there just to finish off the trilogy.

I edited and published several books, ran a few community college courses and even taught some creative writing. As well I produced a ton of web site content and got a few short stories and other projects started, but never finished as paying work got in the way; as it does. Now I am back to being self employed and planning to stay that way, I might be able to get a fair bit finished!

 

Sarah’s Child Getting Rave Reviews

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Slide1My latest novel, ‘Sarah’s Child’ is getting rave reviews over on Smashwords.com  and even better reviews at Amazon.com. I co-wrote this with Paul England; he supplied the true events and I wrote the narrative. It is a fictionalised account of events that affected his family in recent years. While the theme and plot are accurate, the characters have been radically altered to ensure they can’t be identified as anyone living or dead, except perhaps by the individuals themselves; if they choose to so identify.  That would be a mistake as I have applied considerable literary license to the novel to make it entertaining and fiction. The ending, for example, is total fiction but gripping nonetheless.

What is very true is the social issues it addresses such as; postpartum depression, single parenting, controlling relationships and so on. There is already a sequel planned, ‘Sarah’s Turn’ and that should begin pre-production as the movie types say, tomorrow. I am very pleased with the reaction so far and am looking forward to writing even better for the sequel. Paul has given me more information and direction as to where he wants the novel to go and I am confident I can weave another enjoyable read from his material. The book will be released on Amazon.com tomorrow. So far it has had 915 downloads of the beta reader, or review copy. The first few hundred were of the pretty raw first draft, followed by several hundred of the 80% edited version. The feedback from beta readers was crucial in getting the plot holes ironed out and any confusing bits repaired. Then I sent it to my  proof reader, Jeff Kennedy for final editing. Jeff is a lot slower typer and reader than me and misses nothing, as well as being a talented writer in his own right. If nothing else, his corrections prove once again, if any further proof is necessary, of the value of having your manuscript proofed and edited by a fresh set of eyes.

I hope readers will surf over to Smashwords and buy a copy, just US$4.99 in eBook format and as a paperback only US$14.99 plus shipping.

Writing Retreat Planned For April

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

IMG_1319This Easter I will be spending two weeks travelling through Malaysia and the Philippines with fellow author and StreetWise Global business partner, Frank Green. A major objective of the trip is to actually meet after over a decade of online friendship and nearly three years in business together. We have shared many hours of  VoIP conferencing (Skype) and email exchanges but nothing beats spending time face to face. Frank is an Englishman who lives on an island off the west coast of Ireland with his two children. A superb writer in his own right, Frank handles a lot of the ‘grunt’ work of running an online writing business.

StreetWise Global is one of the StreetWise group of businesses, but separate to my personal StreetWise Publications. SWG handles the factual self-help series of StreetWise Guides and Language Courses that currently focus on the Philippines. One of our goals is to explore Malaysia a little more than we already have on previous individual visits. (I was last there in November 2012 after attending the Singapore Writer’s Festival). We both believe there is a lot of potential in providing StreetWise Guides for those looking to retire to Malaysia, especially those who can’t quite afford the superb ‘Malaysia My Second Home‘ retirement scheme. We have some unique insights to develop on how expats can enjoy everything this fabulous country has to offer, but at a more affordable retirement budget.

IMG_1274While in Malaysia we will be undertaking a road trip, not quite as epic in length and duration as the one Scott and Greg enjoy in ‘Never Be Unsaid’, but epic nonetheless. The plan, so far, is to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan on the East Coast, then north to Kota Bharu, across to Alor Setar and then back down to KL before flying on to Cebu. In Cebu we will circumnavigate the island as we both believe road trips are ideal for focusing one’s thoughts and giving us plenty of time to talk things through in detail. While on this trip we have pledged to write at least 1,000 words per day of short fiction. The theme will be decided but the setting will be wherever we are that day. The resulting anthology will be published online and in print.

Another objective is to scout out various WW2 and Malayan Emergency (1948-60) battlefields and add them to the planned tours of Singapore. Once the focus on Gallipoli, Flanders and WW1 dies off and everyone has done the Kokoda Track and Vietnam, I think there will be interest in the Malayan Campaign, Fall of Singapore and the Emergency and Confrontation with Indonesia (1964-67) as a place of military historical value to visit. In the Philippines I have to visit my inlaws and make sure they are getting back to normal after the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, meet up with old friends and refresh a lot of material for my existing titles. While you can update many things via the Internet and forums, there is nothing like boots on the ground (or sandals in my case) to get you genned up.

When we return there will be a lot of writing to be done and no doubt some new publications to be promoted. I can’t wait to challenge Frank to a Satay Eating Contest!

Awesome Result In 24 Hours

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Screenshot 2014-01-13 00.54.48In the first 24 hours of being available for sale on Amazon.com, ‘Out of Stock, Sir!’ has made it to a ranking of 172,187 in the Paid Store! I am stunned. I did push a free coupon download to facebook friends last night and so far two dozen half availed and a few have written great reviews. I have sold one copy on Amazon.com but I still have no idea how come it is ranking so well, so soon. Stay tuned!.

Update 24 Hours Later: Within 30 minutes of publishing this post the ranking sank to 180,000. The following morning it was at 230,345 and now, 24 hours after first checking and finding it at 172,187 the rank is 115,522! Will it crack five figures? Who knows, stay tuned!

 

Guest Blogging’s Good For The SEOul

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 11.35.11 AMI have had a blog post published over at The Writer’s Shack. Guest blogging can be a very positive way of improving your ‘brand’ for various reasons. First of all people you would otherwise not be read by get the chance to learn of your existence. They might click the link you leave in your author-bio box, visit your site and decide they  like what you have to say. That could lead to them buying one of your books, then becoming your biggest fan. You never know.

Guest blogging is good for your SEO (search engine optimisation) and site ranking. These days, ‘black hat’ SEO boosting tricks are pretty much a thing of the past and getting ranked well relies on social influence and relevance of content. Being out there on blogs other than your own says you are considered worth reading by other people and so your rank is increased. When what you post has a lot of views then it adds to the social influence and relevance of the blog and by extension those blogs and sites your post links to.

Guest blogging is also good for you because it is giving something back. Your host gets some great content to add value to their blog and entertain and inform their audience as well as a hike in ranking and relevance. Their audience gets a fresh viewpoint and the chance to discover a new voice. Everyone wins. Of course, like guests everywhere, behave appropriately. Consider your host blog and their audience. Tune your post to suit, there is nothing to be gained in upsetting anyone for no return other than a brief moment of smug contentment that yeah, you showed ‘em! As a writer and a professional, keep the objective in mind and don’t burn bridges. Nothing helps your own brand and ranking like a guest blog except being asked to come back and blog again!

 

Never Be Unsaid Now Available!

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Screenshot 2013-12-22 23.32.11At last! ‘Never Be Unsaid’ is now available in paperback through Lulu.com and soon in paperback and eBook on Amazon.com and as an eBook through Apple, Kobo, Sony, BN and Smashwords and wherever quality literary fiction is sold.

Letting Go, On Both Sides

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

My latest crop of clients for ghostwriting services have given me a good education into ghostwriting and how I feel about my work. First of all, there were three projects that, once I created them for the client as outlines I really wanted them to reject them all. Hde didn’t nd I am writing one of them for him and I must say, it is getting easier the more I write. Let me explain.

I was so rapt with the story I came up with that I wanted to write it for myself and put my name on the book cover, not his. Yet, that is not what a ghostwriter does. We are writers for hire, literary mercenarys writing for whoever pays us. Hired pens, or keyboards in this case, rather than hired guns. I carried a gun for pay many years ago as a much younger man, first wearing my country’s uniform and later in a suit or the uniform of whoever was paying my wages. Today I write for myself but I also write for pay, yet all of my writing is always, has to be, my very best.

When you are a ghostwriter you might think if you get a job writing fiction you can write any old flannel, after all the client won’t know the difference otherwise they would have written it themselves. Yes, you can do that but I won’t. If you don’t stand for anything then what good are you? Taking someone’s money under false pretenses is no better than holding them up at the muzzle of that gun I used to sling.

It hurt to let my baby go but to be honest, if the client hadn’t asked me to come up with a story I would likely as not have never thought of it, so let’s not get too carried away here. Now I have taken their money (I always get 25-50% up front as a commencement fee because I do a lot of work just to get to the point where I can start typing) they deserve the best I can do. Simple as that. Why? Because that is the right thing to do; the professional thing. It would be easy enough to offer ‘A Dark And Stormy Night’ standard writing, but that’s not how I do things.

Many years ago I was working a job where I came into contact with blokes in the same game, but on the other side, so to speak. One was bragging to his mates how when he had been in his country’s army they once cleared some bad guys out of a strongpoint by walking the ‘baddies’ wives and kids in front of them as they advanced on the strongpoint. His table all found that highly amusing. My table wasn’t so chuffed. One of our lads, a lovely bloke but tough as nails and the real deal, turned around and said; “Hey mate. In our army, we put ourselves in front of the women and children, not the other way around.” They must have got his drift because they shut up, packed up and left the canteen. I have never forgotten that and have always been one to put the women and children behind me, whether I’m soldiering or writing. In other words, do the right thing, the ethical thing.

This doesn’t mean you work for free or give away your capabilities. Another client I was writing a non-fiction book for realised after the first chapter where I had copy edited his original content then, as asked by him, added my own material that this was not how he wanted to proceed. He realise he could write the book, didn’t need a ghostwriter and as much as he liked what I wrote, it wasn’t his book. Fine, no problem. He also wanted a refund of the balance of the commencement fee. Balance? What balance? I had invested several hours reading his two other books he sent to me to get an idea of his style, plus I had spent over an hour on a conference call and several hours producing a scaffold and outline he was able to use to better organize his work. I earned my commencement fee and, once I invoiced work to date he accepted that.

As a writer you spend precious time thinking, creating and developing the material. This needs to be compensated for because it is work and work time. During the time I spent doing work on his book I wasn’t earning money on any other project. In fact I had blocked out several weeks to ensure his job was done to schedule and I stopped looking for other work so that I wouldn’t double book. Now I have a gap in my work schedule I will have to fill by finding other clients and that time is not producing any income as it would have had he not realised, through the work I did with him to that point, that he should write it himself.

The bottom line? Give great value and go your hardest every time but, do not be ashamed to ask for a fair reward. You deserve it and not asking for it insults you and your client, as if you don’t think they are professional enough to accept you have a right to be paid for what you know as much as what you do. What do you think?

 

In Grave & Dark Clad Company

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

cover smallThis month I published my ‘edgy’ anthology, ‘In Grave & Dark Clad Company’. Sixteen short stories of sex offenders, suicides, serial killers and assorted strange people, normal people and a few in-between people. I have several other stories that will form the basis of the next collection but they really didn’t fit into this one. I think you need to resist the temptation to throw in everything you have ever written just to make the page count and get them out there.

An anthology should have a theme or some common thread tying things together. I have other stories that are funnier, fluffier (well as fluffy as my writing ever gets) and perhaps more far-fetched but this collection just seemed to gel and say, ‘enough’ when the last one was included. So far sales have been promising with lots of people promising to buy a copy. It is available through Lulu as well as on Amazon courtesy of Create Space and of course Kindle and everywhere else as an eBook thanks to Smashwords.

Me Time

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Now I have been back from Singapore and the Philippines for a fortnight things are starting to settle back into a kind of routine. I don’t have a lot of paid writing work at the moment and I confess I haven’t gone hunting for it, either. Writing work doesn’t just fall in your lap, you have to put yourself out there and chase it like any other kind of freelance work. Not that I am complaining as I am relying on the tutoring and lecturing to bring in the cash while I spend some much awaited ‘Me Time’.

I have two major writing projects happening at the moment: my novel ‘Never Be Unsaid’ and my short story anthology, ‘In Grave And Dark Clad Company’. Both have been on the back burner for months, even a year or two and now I am investing precious time to get them happening. The novel will still take a long time to get to manuscript stage as I am about a third of the way through and writing maybe a chapter a week. The anthology is ready for editing, formatting and layout and then publishing but… I think I need to rethink the content.

Rather than just throw in every short story I have written over several years I think I will give this one a theme and keep it only for the twisters, those stories with a macarbe or shocking twist, even just the human nature stories. I’ll keep the humour and the political satire stuff for another collection. I chose the title from a line in ‘Young Goodman Brown’ by Nathanial Hawthorne, a gothic literature story I had to read for a research paper I produced for a client this month. I don’t think my stories could be classified as gothic, even contemporary gothic, but there are gothic elements.

Sometimes the writer needs to allocate time for their own writing, otherwise this freelance writing business is no different to any other job where you swap your time for their bucks. If you don’t exercise your freedom to do your own writing, then you deserve to lose that freedom and be forced back to being a wage slave. Mind you, if you get too self-indulgent you might find the reality of having to pay that mortgage makes wage slaving an attractive proposition and when you are over 50, there aren’t as many propositions out there to be attracted to!