We ran over an hour. I knew when I had fourteen pages in small print that I was in trouble, but I tried to get through the whole thing.
I made it to page five, because some questions require deeper answers, and I wanted to make this count.
I was not watching chat, but my daughter was, and she let me know that a number of folks were wondering if we could do the rest of the questions as separate workshops.
Yes. That’s actually a really good idea.
I already have the question split into topics, and I’ll do them as low-cost workshops, and then add the workshop videos to the How To Think Sideways students as an unplanned bonus.
Here’s the promised download:
The results of the poll, because I forgot to get into this:
Today ONLY, I have the demo workshop for How To Think Sideways open without registration.
Just go here: 3-4-Day Workshop.
The fourth day of the workshop is the video at the top of the page when you click Think Sideways Forever from the sidebar. I have for essential writing tips in there for folks who know they won’t be taking the How To Think Sideways Class this year.
It’s a crazy dream—to sit down and take your thoughts, put them into a coherent order, and then sell what you imagined to strangers.
That’s what writing is, and it’s one of the weirdest ways possible to make a living.
But the funny thing is, for the first time ever, this dream is actually possible for people who are willing to sit down and do the work.
And I don’t even mean working by writing NOVELS.
My daughter got serious about writing fairly late last year, and so far, she’s exclusively writing and publishing short stories. And her income has gone from nothing, to making enough per month to cover one bill, to making enough per month to cover a lot of her bills.
I’m predicting that she will be making a full-time income by the end of this year, and that she’ll be making what writers call NICE money in about three years.
This has gone from being a field dominated by big publishers to being a field that has opened up to the people who want it enough to work hard to get it.
Don’t think it’s easy. My kid is writing three and four stories a week, and has a constant circle of manuscripts going to her beta readers and coming back, and she’s publishing with fervent regularity to a readership that is fanatical about what she’s offering.
My students are writing, and they’re selling. It’s exciting to watch. Many are going the commercial publishing route, many more are going indie.
I’ve done both, I teach both, and the question simply comes down to this.
Do you want it enough to work for it?
I’m taking questions and discussing the ins and outs of writing for a living tomorrow in a live chat.
And I promise to give you real, right-there-live-in-the-chat answers to your questions, not just a hundred variations on “Take the course.” I wouldn’t waste your time OR mine like that.
I’ll be online in my webinar room from 1:00 PM ET tomorrow until. I’ll be answering any questions you have about writing for a living, how you can get there, and how I can help you get there.
1:00 PM UNTIL?
That’s “Until you run out of questions, or I run out of energy.”
Ask your questions here before 12 NOON ET TOMORROW, Wednesday, May 5th. I’ll print them off and take them into the webinar with me.
Then register to join me in the live chat here:
http://webinarjam.net/webinar/go/1864/aecfffb17b (Link opens in new window)
I look forward to seeing you there.
And I’ll answer the obvious question ahead of time. Did my daughter take How to Think Sideways?
Yes, she did.
I have to close registration to my flagship writing course, How To Think Sideways, for about a year, because we’re building a new site, and I need to make sure all the subscriptions are wrapped up before we move everyone’s accounts.
So I’ve decided to wrap up HTTS on the current site with a bang. I’m offering:
- a three-day FREE writing mini-workshop in advance of How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers one-week relaunch (IN PROGRESS NOW,
- 25 great prizes for the first 25 folks who buy when the course goes live,
- and a great class experience for the folks who go through the course this time. We should have a big, active class.
If you would like to do the free workshop, you still have time. Sign up here:
Added later: The fourth day of the workshops is the video at the top of the How To Think Sideways sign-up page.
Book covers…GOOD book covers, anyway—are a big flying pain in the ass on a good day, and they are so very much easier to get wrong than right. And blithe comments about hiring a professional cover designer don’t help.
A BIG DIGRESSION ON THE FINANCIAL END OF SELF-PUBLISHING, AND HOW YOU STAY SOLVENT
The Longview stories are, right now, low-margin.
I am using them to give people an inexpensive route into my Settled Space universe. With that in mind, I’m looking at experimenting with pricing again, which means they’re probably going to become LOWER margin for me.
Someday, if the series develops a large enough readership that copies of the whole series are selling regularly, I may be able to hire a professional to do cover art for them, but here’s the deal on self-pubbing. You need to be able to make your investment back on each project within a set time period.
For me, that time period is two months. I need for every single thing I do to pay me as much as I’ve invested in it, including time, two months after it debuts.
My time is my biggest expense, because creating writing courses pays much better than writing fiction. I have to look at every fiction project I do, look at every nonfiction project I could do in the same amount of time, figure out whether I’ll still be able to meet my budget every month if I do fiction rather than nonfiction, and plan accordingly.
And I have the same hard expenses most people have: housing, automotive, insurance, food, etc. Plus I have independent contractors I pay monthly to help me with various aspects of my business. All of that comes out of my budget before any money comes to me.I can offset some of the cost of these stories onto the HTWAS course, but not very much of it, because I invest time into creating the HTWAS course, too.
The HTWAS course, though, is buying me the time to write Longview stories in between HTWAS modules.
And I cannot do basket accounting. Basket accounting is when you count all the money coming as one lump, and ignore how much individual projects earn. If you basket account, you can throw your heart and soul into something that is not earning its own way, and wake up to discover one day that the projects that were paying your bills have fallen off because you have not added more like them, while you have been tossing your time and work into a money-sucking black hole that has a minimal readership.
My earn-through number is two months rather than the one month for these books because I built HTWAS with planned time for writing them, and I am using them as part of the course. They are teaching me and I am teaching them. So with the Longview series, I have a tiny but real buffer.
I can pay bills and make payroll if I can get my investment of time and cost out of each book within two months.
But that means that I cannot be frivolous with expenses. I have a budget of about fifteen bucks to spend on each cover. Which means I MUST do them myself.
I paid off the software I do part of the covers with years ago, I buy stock art for the images, and, and paid off the new software that does the fonts and a couple other neat tweaks with the first course I used it on. Everything I buy, everything I do, has to pay its own way, and has to do it quickly. Stories can sit in your backlist earning you money for as long as you choose…but they have to pay back your expenses quickly, because you have to get back the money you invest in each project so you can invest it in your next project.
Your next cover, your next writing time, your next editing.If you cannot invest your last project’s earning into your next project when you’re ready to do it, you’re running your business in the red, and you won’t last long. Running in the black—making sure every project pays its own way—is the secret to being able to afford to write full time. It’s not much of a secret—but this is how you do it.
End of Digression
So the last covers were close. I had the background right. I had the concept of the font and overall look somewhere in the ballpark.
These, though, are significant tweaks.
These are PROBABLY final, but I’m going to have to run them past Matt, who first came up with the retitling fix yesterday, and then looked today at what I came up with yesterday, shook his head, and said, “Not yet.” He came up with the layout concept for these, but he and I work opposite shifts (I’m up days, he’s up nights) and I just finished these, so I’ll run these by him when he’s up and if he has any strong objections, I’ll probably do another set of tweaks.
Episode 1: The Prisoner
Episode 2: The Courtesan
Episode 3: The Philosopher
Got 3300+ words on HTWAS Module 3, Lesson 2 yesterday.
This lesson, titled Breaking Things Mid-Story and Mid-Series, covers GOOD breaks—places where your Muse kicks in with an absolutely awesome idea that requires a lot of fixing in the current episode, but that DOES NOT BREAK YOUR SERIES.
Being able to tell the difference between this kind of break and the “My Muse hates me” type of break from the previous lesson is a critical skill. I’m having a lot of fun with the lesson, by the way—it’s much more enjoyable showing writers how to clean up the mess from a great break than it is to cover the same ground for a nasty one.
The Longview Minecraft Map Update
As you may guess from the cover art above, the Longview spaceship map, VERSION 2.0, debuts today. You can pick it up for free in the Reader’s Room.
I got my introduction to a site called Indie Plot Twist via this well-done article on Indie vs. Traditional Publishing.
It’s a nicely done, relatively new site that’s worth your time.
And I yearn for their coffee. Go visit, see for yourself, and tell Danielle and Carrie “Hi!”
Right up to the last minute, the story kept punching me—I kept finding better ways to do things. I got an absolutely unanticipated but just-right ending to the episode.
And added damn near 10,000 words in the process.
But I’m done, I love it, the printer is humming merrily away, and I’m going to hand off my manuscript to my editor tomorrow.
This means next week, I write Lesson 2 of HTWAS. And next Friday, we resume class.
God, I’m fried. I’m going to sleep as much of this weekend as I can manage.