Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog Hoppin'

Today I'm over at Long and Short Reviews talking about an interesting, yet very humbling discovery I've made on my writers journey.

Come on over. Love to see you there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writer Biz #6 - The ‘M’ Word

Ahh, one word sure to strike fear into the heart of an author. M-m-m-marketing. These days most authors are expected to promote their own books. Let me put it another way. Unless your last name is Roberts, Brown, King, or Evanovich to name a few, you’d better be promoting your books.

Take a quick moment, and think about it. If you don’t promote your books, who will? Who knows your story better than you do? Who could possibly be more passionate about your story than you? Who knows what audience your story is intended for, better than you do? Wait. Were you caught up on that last one?

If your answer to the last question is, Well, everyone, silly. Everyone reads. Or maybe the answer is, I wrote it for women. They like love stories. Let’s not forget this, Everyone reads vampire stories, right, Edward? No, Dorothy. They don’t.

We need to chat. For clarification, I’m talking about primarily about eBooks. If you’re a print author, you’re welcome to tag along. The point is, eBooks are electronic books. We have the whole internet to promote on, right?

If you’ve chosen the eBook route to publication, like me, maybe you share this feeling. It’s like someone threw me into the middle of the ocean and said, Okay, honey, swim for it. Some days it’s like someone has thrown the internet at me, and said, Here little girl, go sell your book.

Allll-rightey, then, where do I start?

With a plan. Over the next few sessions we’ll talk about marketing plans and what they are, and what they can, and can’t do for you. Now don’t get stressed out. It’s not hard, and you don’t have to create thirty stone tablets or anything.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Irritation Nation

Today's Topic - Litter

Honestly. I’m aghast that I’m even writing this. But more than that, consider me supremely irritated.

On a trip out of town recently, I had to attend a public function. Chatting with friends when it was over, I realized we were among the last to depart the venue. Gazing around the nearly vacant stadium, the rows of empty seats were a stark contrast to the floors in front of them, which were littered with empty concessions containers. How hard is it to carry an empty beverage or food container with you, and deposit it in a trash receptacle, on one of many trips to the bathroom?

For whatever reason, this thought stayed with me on the long journey home by car. Traveling through several states this time of year is an ugly process. Nothing is blooming, and unless its snow covered, it’s mostly hues of gray and brown. Except for the bright spots of trash along the highway. Why, oh why, would you throw your trash out of the car window, instead of putting it in the nearest litter can, or carrying it home to be put in your recycle containers? After all, it’s your trash.

Come on people. This is the twenty-first century. We have eBooks, BlackBerries, iPods, iPads, Mac Books and a million other gadgets which supposedly make us more enlightened than our predecessors. If that’s true then the question begs to be asked. What happened to our self-respect? Our commitment and pride in the area in which we live? Our pride in our country? (oh, excuse that last one, it’s not PC to have that anymore. Call me a redneck, because I have it anyway) Did we give them up for the latest gadget?

I’m not your mother. But don’t preach to me about how humans are harming the planet, and deride me about my lifestyle, when you don’t even have the decency to clean up after yourself. Don’t make me break out the crying Indian.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Writer Biz #5 – Record Keeping Part D – Writing Time

Why would you want to keep track of writing time? After all, don’t you have enough things to keep track of already? Of course you do. However, if you are a new writer, or even a mid-list one, there are some very important reasons why you should. And before we continue on, I mean actual writing time spent on a piece of work you will submit for a contract. Not net surfing in the name of research, facebooking, or tweeting.

1. Professionals Do It

Even if you’re only writing part time because you still have an evil day job (EDJ), you’re treating your writing as a business, correct? Fanged bunny slippers and pajamas aside, lawyers do it, accountants do it, and have you ever asked a general contractor how long it takes to do a particular job? If he’s worth the price you’ll pay him, you can bet your next royalty check he can tell you how many man-hours it should take to complete a task. Professionals know how they spend their time, because like it or not, time is money. They don’t waste it.

2. Production

If you want to be a successful writer, and for the content of this post, I mean make a living writing, or have it be your EDJ, you need to be able to produce a marketable product in a timely fashion. What are you going to say when the editor of your dreams wants to know how fast you can have book two completed to fulfill the two book contract she’s offering? Do you stand there and say, ‘Um, if Billy doesn’t get sick, and I call in sick to work, and use my vacation time, maybe six months to a year.’ Of course not.

You’re a professional, remember? You know from the records you’ve kept, that you worked an hour a day, or three or whatever time frame you have, for a month, six months or how ever long it took, so you know how long it should take to complete the next work. The reason being, life happened while you were writing your book. Chances are really good, it will continue to happen during the second one. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. You won’t need that contract after all.

Yes, you still must write the best story possible. As you write, you become more knowledgeable about handling the writing process. Not to say it get’s totally easier, but you will learn your strengths and weaknesses, thus be able to write faster. Which means, increased production. You will be able to build a larger back list, which means increased royalties. It’s all good, no?

3. Taxes

Consider your writing log like a mileage log. You’ll want to note the date, time, length of time, and the project you worked on. You can spreadsheet this or set up a manual log, and it’s going to be quicker than keeping up with the food journal you have. Oh, you don’t have one? I do, but it’s under the table leg, so it’s got a far more important job at the moment.

You cannot deduct writing time per se. What you can do is maintain a log and use it for supporting evidence if necessary, that yes, your writing is a business and you are treating it like one. Even if it’s part-time.

4. Motivation

Lastly, if your writing career isn’t shaping up the way you want it to, i.e. if you think you’re not making enough income for the effort you’re putting out, I suggest you get a reality check. And a writing log will help you do just that.

Have you really been writing everyday for a month? And your writing log is blank? So, were you really writing, or were you getting caught up in the extraneous business of writing, doing things like research, online chat groups, promo, all of those other things which suck up a writer’s time like nobody’s business. Not that these things aren’t necessary in manageable amounts, but you still must write. Or you will run out of product.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Farewell Captain Phil

My thoughts and prayers go out to your sons, Jake and Josh, and the crew of the Cornelia Marie.

You will be missed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Renegade Renovation #9 – Cue the Peacock

I have walls! The drywall is complete, along with all the necessary inspections, etcetera, and per the code enforcement people, the project can move on to completion.

This brings me to the color portion of the program. What to do, what to use? The walls are now suitably covered in snowstorm white primer. After only one small mishap.

Okay, maybe not so small. Who would’ve thought a thirty foot hallway would be tough to put primer on, and get it come out smooth? I had to hire the drywall/paint fairies to come and fix that mistake. Said hallway no longer looks like snakeskin. It’s baby-butt smooth and beautiful. Thanks guys! When the drywall guy walks in and says, ‘What did you do to the wall???’ You know it’s bad.

Now the walls resemble some sort of peacock. Splashed hither and yon with paint samples of blue, green, brown, lavender. You name it. I’ve had a field day.

What, I ask you, is wrong with eggshell (screams rental property) white? After all, it feels like home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer Biz #4 – Record Keeping Part C – Expenses

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way. Please contact a tax professional in your area, for income and expense advice.

The first thing to keep track of is income, which was last weeks post. The second thing you’ll want to keep track of are your expenses. Which if you are a new author, will way out number your income. At first. But this is typical of most businesses in the beginning. So don’t be worried. Just do your best to budget (we’ll talk about budgets in another post) in a realistic manner. If things go well, they will either at least balance each other out, or in a perfect world, your income will far exceed your expenses.

What are expenses? An expense is money that you spend on things to run your business. And you have to be realistic about what your expenses are. Some are small, some are larger. The obvious are office supplies such as printer paper, ink, envelopes, etc. Advertising is another expense. Do you pay for banner ads, or cover ads? They are expenses. Do you pay for cover flats, bookmarks or other advertising materials? Those are also an expense.

Don’t forget the business use of your home. This one always comes up because you are technically allowed to deduct a portion of your utilities. Some people do this one and some don’t, because there are those who claim this is a red flag for being audited. Although the argument seems to be running about fifty/fifty at this point.

If you take classes to improve your craft, attend conferences to meet with editors, agents, or to market your current releases, those can be expenses also. You’ll want to keep track of who you met with and make a brief note about what was discussed. i.e. talked about manuscript XYZ. You’ll want to keep track of travel expenses to go to these events also. Conference fees, class costs. Keep track of the mileage, if you drive to the venue. There’s a standard deduction for that. Or maybe you traveled by airline, then taxi. Another expense.

Did you buy a $10k Persian carpet for your home office? They probably won’t let you get by with that one, but if you’re not afraid of audits, go for it. Just be ready to defend your decision to people who have the power to take money out of your pocket, and change your life.

For a detailed listing and instructions you can check out Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business on the IRS website. This form will have to be added to your 1040 if you’re filing a tax return in the United States. If you’re from another country, they may have something similar.

Be mindful, and honest with yourself. If you’re just going to conferences to meet your friends, good for you, enjoy yourself. If you have no intention of ever really being published, don’t view writing as a business, and you’re just taking the tax deductions, it’s obvious to those who deal with taxes on a daily basis. Even if you don’t think so.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Trouble Under Venus

Sending out major congrats to my writer pal and friend extraordinaire, Autumn Piper. Today mark’s the release of her novel, Trouble Under Venus.

This is a very special story for Autumn because it has to do with her long lost father. You can find out the how’s and why’s over at her blog, Piper Patter. It will touch your heart.

Whatever you do, Don’t miss this story. This is Autumn’s finest work to date. It will sweep you off your feet at the beginning, and you’ll have no trouble turning the pages until the end. Her books are peopled with characters so real, you’ll laugh and cry right along with them, even as you’re hissing the bad guys and cheering the hero. Autumn’s deft blend of intrigue and humor will keep you entertained, while her finesse with matters of the heart will leave you breathless.

Here's the blurb:
For some love lasts a long time, for others a lifetime. Can theirs outlast space-time?

Randi’s summer vacation plans? Attending Professor Sudo’s Time Travel Academy so she can blast back to 1980 Miami and figure out where her father disappeared to. She’s the head of her class until hottie Mitch arrives disguised as a geeky geologist and totally messes up her meditation. Goodbye Soulful in Sedona, hello Yearning in Yoga. So long solo time-travel, hello pushy partner--who happens to be a buff tri-athlete, a sympathetic listener, and an ace FBI agent on a top-secret mission. With his help, she’ll conga her way into the Cuban mafia, try not to destroy the delicate fabric of the space-time continuum, dodge a few bullets, and solve The Mystery of the Missing Dad. And maybe fall just a little in love…

Content Warning: A new adventure in women’s fiction, with a heroine who boldly goes where no chick has gone before, tons of danger and intrigue, a roller-discoing Granny, life and death betrayal, steamy Miami nights and one hot FBI agent.

Don't you just love the content warning? Great job, Autumn!