vlog 2

Vlog 2 is up, all new and exciting (well maybe)

Vlog  2 is up! So I said I was going to do it, and finally did. New You Tube Vlog is up .. this time about quarterly goals for April/May and June.

 

 

Hope you enjoy, follow, share, make fun of, laugh, and generally get engaged.

I’ll be creating another post later this week on marketing, and what worked for me on Bridgefinders, and what did not. (More did not than did, but we will get there.) Marketing is one of those things that I like most ‘indie’ authors have a bit of a hard time with. Hopefully my experiences can help. Look for that blog post Thursday/Friday time frame.

Josh

 

Goals

Goals, Plans and Writing

Goals are important. Plans are important. Writing is even more important, if your a writer or at least trying to be one. With the release of Bridgefinders about two weeks ago, I seem to have fallen a bit on the productivity scale. I think I was throwing myself a bit TO much into the marketing of Bridgefinders, and less into the actual work of writing. While an upcoming post will be about the results of all that said marketing, for now I need to focus on setting goals for this quarter.

Taking a page from other ‘indie’ authors (which is to say, we who self publish. Though I cringe a bit at the semi cache of saying ‘indie’.) I’m going to do a vlog this week about my goals for the quarter. I’m going to do it as a vlog simply to force myself to get a bit more comfortable with that medium. You’d think someone who had a theater scholarship outta High School and had done a great deal of performance training would slip into it well, but that was nearly 25 years ago, and honestly I don’t like watching myself on film. But I’m working on it.. 🙂

I am working on the sequel to Bridgefinders, for now called Bridgebreakers (Do I sense a theme??) Also currently the audiobook for Bridgefinders is under development, Hope to have it done by the end of the month, really hoping. We shall see how that goes.

So I have a bit going on, but I’m still making progress on all of that stuff. Note: Not all my goals may be writing related, at least not directly.

So a short update today, but it’s Saturday morning, the last Saturday I need to work during Tax season (Day job stuff) and It gives me good time to write, so I better get started on that. Happy reading!

What's going on?

Bridgefinders

So finally.. Bridgefinders is out.. for sale, ready, done.. finis. Whhhoohoo. I’m really proud of Bridgefinders, I truly believe that it’s my strongest story yet, which makes me pretty happy. The eBook is out now, the paperback is coming out the next day or so, hopefully Amazon will get them linked correctly, otherwise I’ll have to jump through that hoop. For those who don’t know, if you have your book out on Amazon as an eBook, and you add a Paperback version via Createspace (an Amazon Company) they don’t *always* seem to link them, meaning there’s a totally seperate page for the paperback version and the eBook version. Then you have to get Amazon to link them, which can take a few days.

But anyways..and also for the first time, I’m working on getting Bridgefinders made into an audiobook through ACX (Also an Amazon company) that if all works, will mean the Audiobook will be on Amazon, audible and iTunes. This is new territory for me, so we will see how that manages to go.

Now that the book is actually for sale, all the Marketing plans are being put into motion, including a new one I had briefly mentioned before. There will be a follow up post on that, but I think that’s it’s a decent idea, and the other self published authors I’ve talked to about it have liked the idea.

For now Bridgefinders is for sale for *ONLY* 99 cents. Trying to drive early support and reviews to it now, hopefully that works. The price will go up to 2.99 at some point after the first month.

But for now, I’m really happy with the work, and how well it all turned out.

Upcoming: The marketing idea, and FINALLY finishing the keyboard review. I’m writing on the mechanical keyboard right now, still liking it…a lot.

Letters

Working on Second Draft

So I got my first draft back from my editor (the ever talented Briana Morgan) and lo and behold, she liked it! Always good when your editor likes your work! 🙂 But in all seriousness, I’m really pleased with this book. So far all my Beta’s have liked it, my Alpha’s liked it. And now the editor likes it. So yeah, I’m pretty happy with that.  The Second draft reads really well, taking in all their suggestions.

That’s not to say it doesn’t need tightening up and tweaking. I’m really forcing myself to take my time on this second draft, making sure all the details work, things match up, timelines are tight, etc. I honestly fight myself daily not to publish it like now, I want it out there for people to read, right? But I remind myself when I get that way that I rushed CANITUS. It needed work, tightening, cleaning up, and It didn’t get that time to fully mature. And it paid the price by not really being anything to write home about.

Bridgefinders is the first book in a series though, and I want it to shine. While I’ve already started the second book, I’ve stepped away from that draft while I polish this one. Once I’ve got this one released, I’ll return to the second book, never fear. Besides all this work with polishing the draft, I’m also still working on cover idea’s and looking hard for a good cover that isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. I’m not a graphic artist, so making a cover myself probably isn’t in the cards. Sure I’m a computer guy, but the skill (and patience) for digital art is a bit beyond me.

I’ve also been gently reminding people on Facebook and other mediums, that if they buy or ‘check out’ the book on Amazon, to PLEASE leave a review. I don’t think people really understand how insanely important reviews are to self-pubbed authors, and how much they matter to how Amazon handles your book. Get enough reviews and Amazon basically starts marketing your book for you, which is insanely helpful. So I’m working out a strategy to get as much traffic to the book as quickly as I can right off the bat. I want to get on that ‘Hot and New’ list from them, and go from there.

Also, please if you want to know more about the books, and other things I’m involved in here, please consider joining the site as a member. That will help me build an email list, and continue to help me market the books.

Enough about that though (Marketing was never my forte.) After this second draft is gone through, it goes back to the editor for a good full copy edit and formatting. Then it’s cover time, publish time, and marketing time. I look forward to it!

Keyboard, Mechanical Product Review

First Product Review – In Progress

so, if you watched my first ever Vlog a few weeks back, I mentioned I was thinking about doing some product reviews. But product reviews for aspiring writers. A niche to be sure, but it allows me to combine my love of gadgets with my love of writing. My day job is in the IT industry, I LIKE gadgets and software. So this is kind of right up my alley. For my first product review, I’ll be tackling the most commonly used piece of equipment for any writer…

 

The Keyboard.

Yes, really.

I can hear it now.. “A keyboard? Why review that? You type, words appear, it’s not complicated.”

Yes… and no.

First off 99.9% of the keyboards you get with a computer are what’s called a ‘membrane’ keyboard. You push down on the keys, a little dome of plastic is pushed down, circuit is completed and the character appears. However, you get these because they work, and they are cheap to make, and produce. What you may not know, is that there are mechanical keyboards, that use a far different mechanism. They use an actual switch or in some cases a spring to complete the circuit. The advantage is really in how hard you need to push. Less pushing, can mean faster typing, faster typing means more words down, more words down means.. drafts done faster.

Now, mechanical keyboards are louder, they make a far more noticeable ‘clicky’ sound than a membrane keyboard. Some hate that, some don’t mind, and some (i.e. me) love it. For my first product review I will be reviewing a lower end price wise mechanical keyboard from Monoprice. Why lower end price wise? Simply put.. money. Since I’m paying for this myself, gotta keep costs low. Plus, like most writers, I don’t make a ton of cash off of writing. Aspiring writers like to keep things under control price wise, so it makes sense.

I’ll be testing typing speed, typing ‘feel’ and overall feel, compared to a traditional membrane keyboard. Also a bit on a few of the features of the keyboard. Look for that review to come next week here, and on my YouTube channel.

Money

Making Money as a Writer

So here we go, a post on ‘Making Money as a Writer.’ A subject that seems to come up often, far more than I ever thought it would actually when I began this journey. Let me start by saying of course, when I started this I thought “Oh I’ll write books, make $$$, quit my day job and be a writer for the rest of my life, it will be easy living!” I think that every writer has that same little fantasy that this will come and come fast and easy. It’s normal. It’s also almost never like that.

Yes, it *can* happen. And so does getting struck by lightning, or winning the lottery, or even creating this really new hot viral app that makes you $$$ hand over fist. All of it’s POSSIBLE. But likely? No.  I have been asked more than once, by very smart and well meaning people why I don’t just write full time. Simple answer? Money.

See I think those same people think it’s easy to make money writing books.It’s not. Not even close really. In grand total for ALL of 2015, I made…. 211$ Whoohoo! off of writing. Yes, that little. Why so little you may ask?

  1. Lack of understanding on my part about marketing.
  2. Poor choices of categories
  3. Rushing books to market before they were ready.

All of those hurt me badly when it came to earning $$$, and I’m working heard to rectify those issues with my next book (coming soon!)

Then of course you read things.. things like http://bit.ly/1W64joy.

Basically the statement is to give it up, only 40 Amazon authors made “money”. But lets look at the definition of making money they used.. selling 1 million eBooks in 5 years. Excuse me? What??

Basic math here folks.

You sell a Million eBooks in 5 years, your averaging 200,000 a year. The most “common” eBook price (because the article is short on the details) is 2.99. Assuming your using the 70% royalty plan (and there’s no reason to think your not) you would be making 2.09 PER eBook sold. Which means your making 418,600$ a YEAR.

 

Yeah… That’s a fair amount more than “just being successful.” That’s being majorly AWESOMELY successful. It’s also a highly unrealistic number to use as “making money from self publishing.”

What do I want? My dream goal would be to pull anywhere from 70-90k a year from writing alone. That would be insanely awesome. Truly. My realistic goal, if I can get to 30k a year from writing, that would be great!! Would I quit my day job? Hell no. But if someone came up to you and said “Hey you want an extra 30k a year in passive income?” I think anyone and everyone would say yes please.

Why write then? If money is not so easy to make, why do it?

  1. I actually really enjoy writing
  2. I enjoy telling stories
  3. I get a kick out of creating something that is out there for others to enjoy.

You want to know what you can do to support or help an self publishing author?

  1. Buy their books
  2. REVIEW their books (seriously, telling someone you like their book is great, but writing a LEGIT review on Amazon is better, FAR better due to how Amazon does things.)
  3. Recommend their book to others.

That simple. 🙂

 

 

vlog 2

My first Vlog.

So I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, but I finally got around to creating my first Vlog. My inaugural Vlog is about using Mind Mapping for your characters. I’m not an ‘outliner’ in terms of how I write for the most part, as I reference in the video. I’m what a famous author calls a ‘Gardener’, meaning I have an idea, I plant it and let it grow and change naturally.  Some love the outline bit, and in truth I thought I would as well. However for me it didn’t work, and in fact I felt somewhat limited by the process.

That’s not to say I don’t have any framework. I tend to write a paragraph or two about the story, I create a timeline for it, if needed that is, and then create my character mind maps. I use a free piece of software called ‘Xmind’ that does a great job for me. But here it is, my first ever Vlog, I hope you like it! (Hint, if you do subscribe to the channel, then as I do more you’ll find out.)

 

Great Video on Story

So the other day I was on twitter, and saw a link to a TED talk from Andrew Stanton (Produced Wall-e, the Toy Story movies, etc.) about creating Story. It’s a fantastic short video only about 20 minutes long.

 

I’ll embed it here at the end of the post, but I’ll also summarize it for those who don’t want to sit through it. (You should though, it’s only 20 minutes long.)

But here are 7 things I took away from this video.

 

  1. Make me care – Meaning, you need to have a story that the reader cares about the characters. If they don’t have any sort of connection to them, they aren’t going to care, and they won’t like the story.
  2. Give them 2+2, not 4 – Meaning, let the reader put things together, give them crumbs and clues, but don’t hit them over the head with the answer. Make them work for it a bit.
  3. Give them a Spine – Not meaning that they are tough, but give them a core. An overarching goal. Something that drives them always. A good example, in the Godfather, Michael Corleone just wants to make his father happy. Even after his father’s death, he runs things in the way he thinks would make his father happy.
  4. Drama is anticipation mixed with uncertainty – Meaning you want the reader to be really interested in what comes next, but they aren’t sure what that is. (Remember 2+2 above.) A good example.. the current Game of Thrones TV show. The creators of the show along with George RR Martin have done a fantastic job here. They’ve made the audience care about the characters, they’ve given the watchers the 2+2. So of course you WANT to know what happens next, but you think MAYBE you have an idea, but you’re not sure.
  5. Conditions need to be met – This one at first threw me a bit, but it makes sense. Your protagonist, they can be the most awesome and pure white knight character. BUT only if what they want is met. Take Woody from Toy Story (Andrew Stanton uses this example, it’s a good one.) Woody is a great guy, benevolent, kind, you know, just an all around swell character… until Buzz comes in and displaces him as the favorite toy. Woody then gets petty, jealous and not an all around nice guy. The takeaway is, your good guy doesn’t always have to be a good guy.
  6. Each Character, who are you? – A pretty obvious one, but still needs to be said. Characters need to have a reason to exist. If you have characters that the main story wouldn’t miss, why have them? Give them a reason to be there. A purpose in the narrative.
  7. Invoke Wonder – It’s a hard one to do, but give the audience something to feel that is bigger, greater than themselves. When they close the book, you want them to think “Whew” you want them to desire to live in that world.

I’ve been doing some rewriting on my current story based on the main themes above, and I think it’s really helped. Some of these aren’t easy to do, but I think overall guidelines like this help me find the core of the story and the characters a lot better.

Bridgefinders First Draft DONE!

I’m very happy to say I’ve finished my first draft of my latest WIP, Bridgefinders. I’m going to take this as a good sign, but I wrote 55,150 words in a little over one month in time, making this the fastest draft I’ve written so far. Making me even more happy was the fact that I didn’t write every day. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a daytime writer. I don’t do night writing well, at least most of the time. I write best in that 9 am to 11 am time frame. I wish I knew why, but that seems to be my sweet spot for output. Bridgefinders was an easy write pretty much from start to finish for me, a refreshing change after the slog my last book became, were writing 300 words was painful.

Even better, my experiment with how I was writing the protagonist and antagonist(s) worked pretty well for me. I really felt like I needed to be in a separate headspace to write some of the antagonist(s) parts. I’d listen to some of Green Day’s American Idiot, or some old school Metallica, a bit to much coffee and then write those parts. And overall I’m really happy with how that turned out.

So what’s next for Bridgefinders?

So glad you asked! (Well you didn’t really, but I’m going to tell you.)

I’ve got 5 Alpha readers who have the draft now, one of these kind souls has already given me feedback. I’m also working with an actual editor this time around who also has the draft. I’m also doing some re-reading of the draft and tweaking things here and there on my own, but no large wholesale revisions yet. I’ve asked all my Alpha readers to please give me feedback in a two week time frame along with a list of things I’d really like to hear from them on. Examples include, what were their least favorite scenes, thoughts on the Protagonist and the Antagonist(s), etc.

With that feedback, and the feedback from the Editor I’ll do a full scale rework. Then I’ll resend to my editor, get a copy edit done, and that will be that. Of course I still need to find a good cover for Bridgefinders both eBook and Print. CreateSpace print.

So things are moving along. I will say I feel better about Bridgefinders than anything else I’ve written. And I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to things like this.

The only other things on tap are:

  1. 1. Trying to work out a Marketing plan for Bridgefinders
  2. 2. Debating doing a vlog on Mind Mapping (or ‘Why I don’t do outlines.’)

Not sure on that second item, debating it for now.

 

One book

I’m not a Young Adult author.

I alluded to this yesterday, now I’ll explain further. I am not a YA author. There, I said it. And I don’t think I ever will be.

Let me break it down a bit more though. I can already hear you  “A good writer should be able to write anything.” or “I bet if you tried…” or even “But YA books sell and make money, you should do that and make bank!” I’ve had some variation of those said to me when I tell people I’m not a YA fiction writer.

YA for those rare who don’t know, is ‘Young Adult’ fiction. Now I’m not really clear on what constitutes a Young Adult really, it has always sounded like a label looking for a reason to me, but I’m increasing both amused and dismayed by the number of labels used on people, ages, etc. (Which is like a whole other topic.)

But to do my traditional number it down style..

  1. 1. Maybe a good writer CAN write anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Look at say Stephen King. He writes mostly Horror, with splashes of fantasy and other elements. But he has his genre. Look at Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, He’s got his niche as well. Authors have area’s and subjects they are drawn to, and are better in.
  2. 2. If you only tried… This assumes I haven’t tried. But I have. And it is, well, bad. Worse than bad. And I don’t mean it in a ‘I’m my own worst critic’ way, I mean BAD. There are some actual reasons for this. To start with, I’m really to far removed from the YA experience. Though as I said I’m not quite clear on what YA is, my best guess is late teens, very early twenties. I’m 42. I don’t have a good frame of reference for that age range. Adding on to this is the fact that simply I wasn’t much of a YA when I *was* those age ranges. I was hopelessly weird and introspective, literally would flinch if someone brushed against me, and massively introverted. I wasn’t social, I was a complete moron when it came to women, and was wasting time doing pretty much nothing. I wasn’t even a good student at the time. I don’t have that connection in my mind to that time in my life, it’s all sort of vague and depressing.
  3. 3. I hate this one. Yes, YA books CAN be very popular. And of COURSE I’d love to make a living writing, (True fact, people think I make mad money off the books I’ve already done. I made 112$ last year off book sales. yes, 112$.) But writing something I don’t feel, and can’t connect to just to make money, well, I can’t do it. It would suck all the joy and fun out of writing. Period.

 

So what KIND of writer am I? Glad you asked.

 

I have no clue! 🙂

See the first few books I’ve done have all had the overall theme that you can’t trust a damn soul, and that pretty much everyone and everything is out to get you. Different stories, but that’s still the overall feeling through the books. This current book throws that dark world view out, and doesn’t even mess with it. Sure, my protagonist has a bit of a habit of not telling other’s 100% of the truth, but it’s not the same thing (It’s not! Don’t look at me that way.) This story is more exciting, more active, and more interesting. So who knows what kind of writer I am. Do I even need to know in truth?