Finding Time to Write (while working 75-hour weeks)

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Okay, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been lax in my posts of late. I do have a good excuse, however (and don’t we all love excuses?). While I have no dog to eat my posts, nor do I have an adjective-munching brain parasite––that I know of, anyway––or even a case of the ultra-rare five-month amnesia.

Nope, it’s none of those things. Instead, I work in the film industry.

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I know what some of you may be thinking. “Ooh, so glamorous! The celebrities! The fun times!”

Yeah. No.

I mean, sure, it’s fun quite often, however when you’re an author trying to meet your self-imposed writing quotas, working on a film set––both the hours and the environment––can be the antithesis of a good work environment for producing material.

My most recent project was a feature, which shall remain nameless, not because it was bad (in fact it was a fantastic crew and looks to be a great film) but because it’s just not cool to discuss those things, especially when you’ve signed and NDA.

fraturday_rectangle_stickerNow, if you recall my much earlier post detailing the film industry occurrence we call Fraturday (when you start work on Friday and get off work on Saturday, thus destroying your weekend), you’ll have an inkling of what the past 10 weeks held.

 

Fraturdays. Every. Damn. Week.

I was trying to bang out a mere one or two thousand words a day during my down time on set (while having a walkie-talkie chattering in my ear), but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Like when you’re on location and it’s 108 degrees. Or when you are so busy loading people into ambulances that there’s no down time to write (my day job is as an on-set medic for film and TV). Or when you’re just so utterly toast from yet another 70+ hour week (yes, in 5 days) that words simply fail you. That, my friends was the last ten weeks.

So, how does one get anything done? By doing the first thing I mentioned in the paragraph above. Namely, banging out a couple of thousand words a day. It sounds like a lot, but if you write just 125 words per hour over a sixteen hour work day, that’s two thousand words. Voila!giphy

Here’s the cool bit. If you work a less-intense schedule and in a more-conducive environment, cranking out a mere 125 words in an hour should be a breeze, especially if you’ve plotted out your story ahead of time. In my case, I typically have the entire book outlined and have chapter notes acting as placeholders in my laptop. As I write each chapter, I delete the notes until that chapter is fleshed out. But you do you, boo, obviously.

One crucial thing to remember, your first draft isn’t you telling the story to a reader, but rather you telling the story to yourself. It’s gonna be rough, it’s gonna suck, it’s gonna need rewrites. So don’t slow your process and edit during the exorcism of those words from your brain––just get it out!

If this seems intuitive to you, fantastic! You’re already taking those little steps toward a bigger goal. If, however, this is news to you, hopefully this tale of writing in difficult circumstances perhaps helped you realize it can be done, even on a crazed schedule. Tiny increments add up, and even 2k words per day (spread out) is 60k in a month. That’s 2/3 of a book––Huzzah!

Happy writing!

 

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Self-Publishing Can Work for You

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Alright, if you’ve been following my blog, you know it’s been a bit now since I started this self-publishing experiment, and I want to tell you a few things I’ve discovered.

First: If you don’t put in the work to publicize your books, no one will just stumble upon them. I’ve experimented with various methodologies, and while some work better than others for driving readers to deals, (Freebooksy/Bargainbooksy are favorites), the cold, harsh reality is if you don’t actively promote your work often, it will go unnoticed. Have a plan, and follow it regularly to increase awareness and drive traffic.

Second: Reviews and ratings are crucial to increasing your download and purchase numbers. The more reviews I get, the higher the percentage of conversions I see when people follow a link to my Amazon page. This makes perfect sense, of course. Don’t just focus on Amazon, however. goodreads-logo-1024x576-7abf5bd8d98b9d10Goodreads is also a great source to introduce your work to new readers, and the community is a bit more self-policing than Amazon.

Third: Quantity is king. A single book won’t do much for you, but if you have several, or better yet, a series, you can drive traffic to your other books when you do a promotion for just one of them. I publicized a giveaway of Worst. Superhero. Ever. for five days (each with a different listing site, which is when Freebooksy became a favorite). The result was over 3,000 downloads (over 2,000 from Freebooksy alone), and in the weeks that followed, my other books began to see an uptick in purchases. A freebie isn’t always a bad thing. If you provide something that people like, a good many will purchase your other works. There’s no guarantee, and it may take months (some people download everything they find for free and eventually get to them), but it’s definitely worth looking into.

Fourth: Set up a mailing list (here’s mine for those interested in quirky short stories). People who enjoy your work and sign up for your list will most likely purchase your other books as they come out. Additionally, they’ll promote your work for you. Build a solid base of fans and interact with them, but don’t spam them. One thing I like is running potential cover designs by them for opinions. Another is to occasionally send a free short story, just because. These are people who genuinely enjoy your work, so treat them as such. They’re not just consumers, they are people who appreciate what you offer. Create a loyal fan base (by not being a dick) and you’ll stand a much better chance of gaining traction with every new release. MailChimp is a great resource for mailing lists, by the way. mailchimp

Fifth: Few will sell millions, but if you’re feeling frustrated or unsure, read this article about Amanda Hocking. She self-published her works (rejected by numerous traditional publishers) to help her fund a trip to a convention. Much to her surprise, they were a hit, and she has now sold over 1.5 million copies of her works.

There are no guarantees, but it’s better to try, and possibly fail, than to never try at all.

 

The Queen of the Nutters

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Fellow writers and lovers of quirk, I’d like to introduce you to my latest brain-baby, birthed in the midst of the holiday season. She’s a funny little thing, full of humor and whimsy, along with a healthy dose of “Where the hell did he get that idea?”

I’ve found the process of self publishing to be an interesting combination of daunting and invigorating. If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean, and if you’re reluctant yet considering it, I highly recommend it. Sure, the act of putting your work forth for public consumption and review is a little terrifying at first (and I highly recommend trying reddit’s DestructiveReaders for brutally honest critiques from your peers), but it gradually becomes less nerve-wracking. Some people will love your work, some will hate it, but very few will ever take the time to write about it to either extent.

When my first (and to date, only, knock on wood) terrible review of my previous book, Worst. Superhero. Ever. worstsuperheroever_cover1came in, I was, by that point, ready for the inevitable. It had to happen eventually, a bad review is a rite of passage of sorts (and getting one from a reader who admittedly didn’t even go past the first short really didn’t sting too much). What I’m saying is don’t let fear of negativity hold you back. I’ve found the support and positive feedback from readers and other writers has overwhelmingly outweighed any negatives.

As for the publishing process itself, well let’s just say the writing is the easy part. With this, my third e-book, I’m finally getting the hang of the self publishing game, but it still takes hours to properly format the book, get the table of contents and back matter in order in a way that ensures Amazon’s acceptance, and do the final re-re-re-reads even after the editor has picked it apart.

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Shortly I’ll be putting up a separate post with links to some online resources I found helpful that should be of use to other indie authors. We are all in this together, and, at least in my case, I’ve found my peers to be wonderful and supportive. In the meantime, please give The Queen of the Nutters a read, and maybe even leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads if you’re so inclined. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and would love to hear your feedback.

Happy Holidays!

 

Worst. Superhero. Ever.

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It seems like only last month I released Lost & Found: And other odd short stories… oh wait, it was! Originally I intended to publish one or two large collections of short stories, but instead I took the advice of published shorts authors and broke my work into more manageable sized ebooks. Learning the ropes from people well-versed in the ebook world proved a fortunate turn of events, and now I’m releasing my second batch of quirky short stories, Worst. Superhero. Ever.: And other odd short stories

The book officially releases on Tuesday November 15th, but is available for pre-order on Amazon (and is part of the Unlimited program as well). Go get it! (is that the worst call to action ever, or what?)

Seriously though, it’s been a bit of a challenge getting this one to market while working  long hours in TV Land (my day job), but time was carved out and here it finally is. I would hope other aspiring writers take this as inspiration and perhaps a kick in the butt to keep working on your passion. Even if you pull 17 hour shifts (which I did several times this week), it is still possible to nurture your artistic side, even if things are hectic. Do what you must, but keep that creative spark alive! Your fellow authors are rooting for you.

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And thus my brain baby is released into the world. All joking aside (except that found in the book of course), I sincerely hope you decide to give this book a try. If you liked Lost & Found, I think you’ll truly enjoy the quirky tales in Worst. Superhero. Ever.

One last thing. If you’d like to be notified of future releases, sign up to receive my newsletter. It’s infrequent, not spammy at all, is only about book releases, and can easily be unsubscribed from at any time.

Lost & Found — A collection of odd short stories

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After much procrastination and reworking, I’ve finally released my first small collection of short stories. Four to be exact. A bite-sized e-book to put the first few of my brain babies out into the world. It was hard to stop editing and tweaking them and just let them go out into the wild, but now that they are, the feeling is wonderful. To all my fellow writer friends on the fence about doing the same, I just want to say this: Keep at it and put your work out there. Discovering new stories is a joy, and you can contribute to the body of new work available to eager readers.

As for me, I’m humbly asking those who are interested in quirky and odd short stories to take a chance on my little $0.99 e-book and give it a read, and if you should get some joy from my stories, please take a moment when you’re done to leave a rating or review (the lifeblood of indie authors) on Amazon or Goodreads (or both). It would be immensely appreciated!

Lastly, I know it can be rough out there, so if times are tight and you cannot afford the download, please message me directly and I’ll gladly send you a version for free.

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