Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lessons learned in 2010: Finishing

This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with my previous lesson from 2010. But this year, I learned I can finish. I finished a lot of things this year. Well, a lot for me. I'm not as prolific as some other writers. I marvel, literally, at some of the totals I see writers crank out every day. But this year I finished several short stories and flash pieces. And this year I learned that I can finish something longer than a short story.

When I typed the final words on Chasing Filthy Lucre I put the final touches on what is the longest piece I've ever finished. It's not the longest piece I've ever written. I've got a few pieces on my hard drive that are unfinished that are longer. But that's the thing, they are unfinished. And there is something special about finishing. There is something that's encouraging about getting to the end. For me, that's one of the things that made me feel like a real writer. Because real writers finish things. They don't have just a hard drive full of started stories. They get to write the end. They come to the final chapter and put a bow on all the action. It's something I'd not done, and it feels good.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Is self-publishing the wave of the future? I honestly don't know. But what I do know is the landscape has been changing dramatically for years in every way that we receive and share information, and it's finally starting to change publishing."
 Amanda Hocking at her blog, My Blood Approves.

This is from Amanda's post on her self-publishing journey. She published her first book to Amazon on April and by year's end had sold more than 100,000 books. That's combining all her titles, but still. It's hard to argue that, in this new age of publishing, that doing it yourself isn't really an option.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lessons learned in 2010: Outlines

I thought a few days ago that I should do a wrap up post for 2010. Wrap up my year in a nice neat bow. But, honestly, after thinking about the topic for a few moments, it seemed boring. And if I was bored by the idea, then what would you all think? I lived this stuff, for crying out loud. I should be the most interested.

Instead, I thought I'd do a series of posts on lessons learned this year. Things that I didn't know, or didn't realize, as 2010 started. These are done in no particular order and first up is outlining.

In 2010, I learned that I was an outliner. Up until this year I'd been a pantser. I was convinced that's what I was. Sit in front of a keyboard with a germ of an idea and start. See where it goes and enjoy the ride. Then I had the idea for what became Chasing Filthy Lucre. It was just a little idea about data addiction and plugging directly into some sort of feed. No need for a keyboard. Just a direct line into the brain. I wrote a couple of things all centered around that technology. Then one idea stuck. I went with it for a while, liked where it was going. Then I stopped. The story ran out of steam, but some of the ideas in the story were keepers. That's when I decided to I needed to see if I could plot something out.

The outline I ended up with is far from what you'd see in an English class. It just four sections with four sentences in each section. Just enough info to tell me where I'm going. After that was written all I had to so was write the story from one of those sentences to the next. I still had the excitement of pantsing the story, but having that little outline was tremendous. Knowing where the story was eventually headed freed me up to let my mind wander. Weird, I know, but I knew that even if I went off the rails a bit all I had to do was somehow get my characters to the next part of the outline and we'd be in good shape.

Parts of me kick myself for not getting serious about outlining earlier. This let me finish something longer than a short story for the first time. I know they aren't for everyone, and for a long time I thought they weren't for me. And, if we are talking about the ultra detailed versions lots of writers use, then they still aren't. But, in my own way, in 2010 I learned I'm an outliner. I just wish someone would have sat me down and told me that this is all so much easier if you just have a rudimentary road map to get you to the end.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Since my career broke big when I was already, you know, I was looking at turning 50, I would think maybe never give up hope would be one of the morals you could draw from that. And also I think you just have to enjoy yourself. 

If it pleases you and you can write at all, it’s gonna please somebody else.”
—Charlaine Harris, the author of the books that became HBO's "True Blood"

I don't always comment after the quotes that I post here. I'm making an exception this time because I really liked this quote. It comes from the Writer's Digest blog. You can see the whole post here, although there isn't much more to it. This quote inspires me. Many times I'll read what I've written and think to myself, "Sure, I like it. But I wrote it. Will anyone else like it?" I think most writers do that. But this quote reminds me that, if I like it someone else will too. Thanks, Charlaine.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An unfortunate update

Just a quick note to say that any buzz I was feeling on Tuesday has been sufficiently squashed. Since I posted those numbers I've seen zero more people download Consider Us Even.

That's not what I wanted to see. Obviously. Not sure what happened. I am guessing the initial rush has passed and now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. This is when it's going to take some work to draw interest in my work. It's OK, just was hopeful that it wouldn't come to this. Not so early. I've got more writing to do on the expanded version of the story. Plus final editing on Chasing Filthy Lucre.

So, I'll ask a favor to any of the folks here who may have read Consider Us Even. Go to Smashwords and leave a review. Tell others you know about the free book. Tweet about it. Share it on your blog. On Facebook. Wherever. I know I can't do this alone. I'm going to need your help.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Consider Us Even update

I don't plan on making this place just somewhere I update numbers. But I want to update numbers. I put Consider Us Even up on Smashwords a little over a week ago. A week ago Sunday if you are wanting to get all technical on me.

If you haven't seen it yet, click here.

So far, there are 112 downloads. I don't know about you, but that's a number that impresses me. No reviews yet, and I haven't heard from any readers, so I am hoping people like it. I am hoping that these same readers will be willing to pay $1.99 for the full version of Chasing Filthy Lucre.

I've also noticed looking at the stats Smashwords provides that I am closer to a one to one ratio on page views to downloads. Straighter language? Right now, just about everyone who looks at the page downloads a copy. So either, my description provided is so enticing people can't say no. Or, there is someone out there telling people to go grab a copy and people are without taking the description into account.

I did this next trick once with Scrib'd numbers. Let's play it again. It's called, awkwardly, "How much would Jarrett have made if he was charging for this?"

So, we have 112 downloads in 9 days. That's an average of 12 downloads each day. There are 31 days in December. Staying on that 12/day pace puts us at 372 in the month. If I were to charge 99 cents for this story that would be $368.28. Since this is something that's only available at Smashwords I would get to keep 85 percent of that total. That means I would have made $313 in a month. Extrapolated out over a year and you have $3,756 off this little story.

I know that you can't assume the current download rate will be maintained. At some point things should flat line and the sales will stagnate. But, what I do know, is that an average author, at least from everything I've heard, makes about $5,000 in an advance on their first book. This short story would get me more than halfway to that. That's cool to me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Consider Us Even up at Smashwords

Remember the plan that I mentioned a month or two ago? The one where I was going to publish a short story to Smashwords with an excerpt of Chasing Filthy Lucre? That plan?

Well this weekend it went from plan to reality. I did it. Formatted the file, sent it through the upload. Now it's there for the whole world to download. That means you, dear reader, could be one of those downloaders. The link the is here.

I uploaded the story on Sunday, and as of now, at 12:30 on Tuesday night, 56 people had grabbed a copy. I like those numbers. I've done a little promotion, but nothing heavy.

I included a mention of this blog in a little foreword I wrote for the beginning of the story. If that's how you found your way here then I speak for all of us when I say, "Hello. Welcome. Make yourself at home."

And if you did download the story and read it I'd love to hear what you thought. And, if you felt so inclined, I'd appreciate a review at Smashwords if you don't mind.

Feeling like a writer

A few weeks ago Gina went to Montreal for the weekend. Her best friend has a business trip up there and the two of them left a little early and saw what they could see up in Canada.

I spent her time away doing a little editing and correcting. Also did a little writing. Then when I went to the airport to pick her up I took my idea notebook with me. I started planning out some ideas for the next story in my series. I actually got a lot done, a lot planned. I like where the story is going. I like the new characters that I sketched out. It could be fun. A little chase story.

Once I saw passengers from Gina's flight come through the door to baggage claim I closed the notebook and moved closer so Gina could see me. It was while I was waiting that I realized for the first time in my life I felt like a real writer.

Don't get me wrong. I thought of myself as a writer. Someone who enjoyed stringing some words together. Someone who enjoyed telling stories. But it wasn't until then that I thought, "You know what? I'm a writer. A legit writer."

I think that what it was that made me feel like that was I had one story I was editing, one story I was writing, and one more story that I was planning. I had something in all three stages of production. That's not something I've had before. Well, not true. I've been editing and writing at the same time, but this was different. All three stories were linked. Required me to plan them. Required me to make sure they all worked together. That's what was different this time. And, I have to admit, it felt really cool.