Posts Tagged ‘web’

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!

 

Keeping Busy

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

As a freelance writer I only make any money when I am writing for other people… and they pay me. Cashflow is always a balancing act in any business and none more so in the writing game. Ghostwriting/co-writing a 60,000 word novel can take months and you don’t usually get paid up front. Getting paid is the key, of course. I know very good writers who have full order books and work 12-14 hours a day but forget to put enough focus on getting paid for all their hard work.

At the moment I have two ghostwriting projects that I hope to complete before the end of October and get paid for… which should carry us over the Christmas-January period which is always pretty slow. I have two or three regular gigs writing articles for web sites and the tutoring but the college lecturing has fallen flat this year. It seems fewer people are enrolling in community college courses all round, not just the ones I offer. Fortunately having several income irons in the fire helps to flatten out the cashflow peaks and troughs.

When it comes to what I call ‘investment writing’, those books and publications I write for myself as the client in the hope they sell down the track (what most people refer to as writing a book, being an author etc); I have several projects still bubbling away on the back burners. The trip to Malaysia and the Philippines in April still needs to be written up as do the many story ideas that were generated by having flip flops on the ground over there. I have a couple of books that need editing, re-writing, up-dating and re-publishing, not to mention lots of web site maintenance. A writer’s work is never done!

 

 

NaNoWriMo Completed

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

I finished my novel, ‘Never Be Unsaid’ and hit the 50,000 word target for National Novel Writing Month. All up the novel has nearly 90,000 words and is currently being reviewed by my literary friend and fellow author, Ginny Lowndes. I can’t stress enough the value of having a critical friend review your work. Ginny has given me some great tips and ideas for improving my novel. It will mean more writing, but this project has taken a couple of years to get from idea to manuscript, so a few more weeks will be worth the wait and the effort.

I learned my lesson with the 2011 Nanowrimo event. That produced the 2012 Miles-Franklin Award entrant, ‘Twenty Seven Seventy’. It was rushed, not so much the writing but the vital background work; the editing, proofing and reviewing that makes all the difference between a good novel and a literary masterpiece. I’m hoping this year, ‘Never Be Unsaid’ will be that literary masterpiece. I have said everything in it I have to say for now so my next work will be more commercial. I have chosen YA, or young adult (also known as teen fiction) for my next genre. I recently completed a YA novel for a client as a ghostwriter and enjoyed the work. I also consider ‘Twenty Seven Seventy’ to be suitable for a YA audience (12-18+), but y next work will be aimed at the market and the vocabulary used will be far more simple and easy to understand by the major group of readers too often passed by. Boys.

I know from my own work as a tutor many simply hate reading because they aren’t very good at it. A lot of that comes down to not being interested in the book’s characters and plot. I’m going to see if I can add to the body of work available, give them the modern equivalent of Biggles, The Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons, without resorting to witches, wizards, zombies, vampires or orcs. Wish me luck.

 

 

In Context Or?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I just received an email from the CEO of a domain name auction site. I had used the services of one of their competitors a year or two ago to try and sell a web site or two, albeit unsuccessfully and keep on their mailing list because they do send out interesting info from time to time and today I received this missive.

“Hey Perry,

We’ve got more kickass shit for you.

When XXX and I first started building niche sites we made a huge mistake. During keyword research, we accidentally targeted keywords by “Broad” instead of “Exact Match.”

Oops!  You can guess how that ended up…”

I read no further than the first line of copy. I replied to the CEO asking him if ‘kickass shit’ was working for him as it certainly put me off reading any further. So, am I an old geezer at 52 or someone who fails to see the value in using profanity to persuade people to buy whatever I am selling? Am I being over sensitive to a couple of words that are in pretty much widespread use, particularly in American society? I note Americans, despite many being openly homophobic, do seem to have a disturbing interest in other people’s buttocks. ‘Kickass’, ‘kick yo ass’, ‘own your ass’, ‘beat your ass’ and the telling, ‘your ass is mine’ spring to mind as being rather common dialogue choices both on the screen and in real life, if one differentiates between Hollywood and YouTube as source material providers. He replied pretty promptly:

Hey Perry,

I’m gangsta…what can I say? :-)

You’re right – we could probably avoid using such words in our copy, on our podcast, etc.  I’m not sure that would be a good idea, though.
Our thought/guess is that by using those words it helps us filter out readers/listeners that have a serious problem with it.  That’s fine…they probably wouldn’t be good customers for us anyway.

I wonder why those with a ‘serious problem’ wouldn’t be good customers? Is my problem serious? I’m not offended by the words themselves. I have used them in various combinations myself (although an ass to me is either someone behaving badly or a kind of donkey), though not usually in polite company and only in print when I firmly believed it would be appropriate and in context to do so. So is he using them in context? If so, what does that say about his client list, or at least his evaluation of those he markets to?

I am writing a novel at the moment where, like my previous novel, ‘Twenty Seven Seventy’, I ensure I use profanity sparingly and completely in context and avoid obscenity at all times. I do like writing obscenity though, I have to confess. I enjoy exploring the full, rich range of the Anglo-Saxon end of the English language and basically writing as many I know speak. But only when my audience is of a similar bent. When I write for a wider audience, especially minors, I keep it ‘language appropriate’. But then what does that mean these days and is a far more casual regard to the lexicon what the market accepts, even demands? What do you think?

Fishing Where The Fish Are

Monday, January 14th, 2013

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!

How Time Flies

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

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.

 

Hilda Hopkins, El Asesinato que Ella Tejio

Monday, July 16th, 2012

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!

Writing Up A Storm

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Feast or famine seems to be the way it goes. I had a quiet (writing wise) Christmas and a damp, dreary summer thanks to La Nina and her Southern Oscillation. With no income from the tutoring and lecturing due until well into March, it is a long haul from mid December. Book sales have been bubbling along but getting paid is problematic. Either it is a US Check costing $15 to clear and taking 40 days, or it is a 3 month wait plus forty days and then the US tax man wants 30%!

I decided to ramp u the prospecting for writing work. I was lucky to come across a new client who wants a 70,000 word book ghostwritten. A lot of work as I have to develop the outline and structure from a ton of ideas, links and snippets he has sent me but I can do it and do it well. Already he has put me onto a couple of other potential clients. My eBook client from last year has given me some article writing work, the rate is half my usual low rate but I get half the sales the articles generate. I don’t have  a problem with an ‘Ayn Rand’ model of writing, as I call it. Ayn Rand was the ultimate capitalist/writer combination. That client has passed me onto another who needs blogs and a web site filled with content and I passed him on to a colleague who is a whizz with WordPress, so the good fortune goes round and round.

I have found by being so busy I am more productive. I still have the collaboration with Rainbow Writers to offer my Online Writing Online course. It has been ramped up and put on steroids, it is bigger and flashier than I could ever have made it by myself and will soon be released. The community college courses are up and running so the fourth Rorschach Anthology will be published in April. The publishing end is coming along with Hilda Hopkins getting some major coverage in the world’s largest machine knitting magazine in March. I wrote a feature article on the books and their author, Vivienne Fagan aad we plan to serialize the first book and offer some as competition prizes through the magazine.

So all in all my writing business continues to grow and that is a good thing. I am losing weight at the rate of 2kg a week and that is a wonderful thing. I juice fruit for breakfast and some lunches and eat less the rest of the time and try to do my exercise routine as often as I can. No point being wealthy if I’m not healthy enough to enjoy it, is there? Which just happens to be what the 70,000 word book I’m ghostwriting is all about! Stay tuned.

New Year, New Focus

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

For us here in Australia it is already past 1pm, 1 January, 2012. This new year will see me changing focus in some ways. The Philippines related books and associated web sites (60 or so at last count) are in the hands of a manager. We hope to develop them and sell off a few. I might sell the books as well and give someone a good little online business to retire there on. I am involved with writing reams of content for a new Internet Safety web site, including eBooks and lots of free downloads. The research has been interesting to say the least and quite enlightening. There are a lot of threats lurking out there in cyberspace for the unwary and unprepared, but nothing you can’t guard against.

I have written a novel, ‘Twenty Severn Seventy’ which is entered into the 2012 Miles-Franklin Award. That was my contribution to NaNoWriMo, quite an experience. I am also writing another novel which will not be written in just 28 days, plus it is going to be double the word count. That novel is the only fiction I plan to write in 2012. I am going to focus on selling the writing that I have on the inventory of StreetWise Publications, focusing on promoting and marketing because that is the end of the business I need to learn more about. StreetWise has several excellent authors and some very good writing on the shelves. Jeff Lassen, John Aalborg, Vivienne Fagan, Aaron David and Jonathon StCyr as well as the Rorschach School of authors and of course my own material. In the four or five days previously sales of Vivienne Fagan’s ‘Hilda Hopkins’ series have gone through the roof thanks to some marketing efforts we targeted. We have proof of concept, now I just need to multiply the efforts over the range of titles we hold.

Writing a great book is only the beginning. Getting it on line, published in print or whatever is the next step. The real mark of success is, of course, selling lots of copies. What is even better as a sign you are doing something right is when you have several books for sale and readers of one buy the rest. Sales of Vivienne Fagan’s books have included several multiple orders of all six in the series as well as the same customer coming back to buy the rest after trying the first couple. Always a great sign. On top of all this, once school goes back I will be tutoring and lecturing. I won’t be writing for any essay writing sites, while WriteRight (Oxbridge) have paid me for my work, it has been in dribs and drabs and always after weeks of waiting past the promised payment date. Not to mention a lot of excuses and promises and I am still waiting for the last $50. I am sure they will pay but I write on time and ‘superbly’ according to the owner, I expect to be paid properly and on time without having to chase them for weeks on end. Then again, I can’t get their web site to load so who knows? So even if you get paid it can be a chore. I will look for more content writing opportunities for 2012 because thanks to the Google Panda slap of 2011, quality content is once again a must have to rank your site highly. I’ll talk more about that and those opportunities during the year.

Writing Up A Storm

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

It is the second day of NaNoWriMo and so far I have written 8318 words and am well ahead of the average required. At this rate, according to the Stats page of my NaNoWriMo.org account I will have it written by the 12th. I won’t because on that day there is a 50th birthday party I must attend, right after I tech one of my courses at the local community college. As it is my birthday party I will be attending and at the end of it probably in no fit state to write coherent passages.

So how did I manage so many words in so little time. Part of the reason is that I planned the novel before I started writing. The other secret is that the 1st of November started in Australia many hours before it began in the USA where the contest is managed from. A bit of a head start you might say. The big secret though was the pre planning. I had the idea all sorted including characters, plot, structure, setting, conflict and theme, all written down before the start. That meant I had time to write a few sample paragraphs and get my voice sorted out and clear up a few issues. Not that I have ever been one for writer’s block, just doesn’t happen to me. If I can’t think of something to write about topic X, I write about topic Y instead. By the time I finish or get bored with Y, something has come to me for X.

I also don;t have any paying clients at the moment other than my own Internet Safety Essentials web project where I am providing the content and writing the units of learning for the online writing course. Those I do one week at a time so that the students don’t get swamped ahead of time (my excuse) and as work is down and it is the worst time of the year (more bills than income opportunities) I need to spend time marketing my business.

So the NaNoWriMo is actually recreational writing for me, even though I fully intend to publish and sell the finished product. I like the way you have a word target to reach within a set time period and you know there are many others out there also writing away. I have several other writing projects in various stages of undress I need to address. One is an autobiography, the others are novels/novellas. I used to write a lot more short stories until I started writing for a living. Now, like a mechanic with a clapped out car, my writing tends to be factual for clients more than fictional for my pleasure. Now, all I need is that six figure advance and I can turn my hand to novel writing full time!