Typing Away

I’ve been firing on all cylinders this weekend. 2550 words on Friday night. 3100 words last night. If I can get 1500+ words tonight too, the weekend will have rocked. I’d really like to get over 38,000 words total on Masters by the end of the day tomorrow.  If I manage that, I’ll have equalled my word count from January.  Considering I also wrote a few short stories during the month, that’ll be ok.  🙂  Of course, I really want to exceed my January word count.  Come November in NaNoWriMo, I’ll need to crank out 50,000 words in the month.  Right now I’m only getting 19 to 20 thousand.  Doesn’t quite hack it.  Must improve.  Of course, I’ll not do any short story writing while NaNoWriMo is in progress, so that’ll help a little.  But still, getting the routine down now will help then.  To say nothing of the fact that learning to crank out a lot of product quickly will help with cash flow.  All the more reason to focus, eh?

On another note, I made my first two sales this weekend.  Granted, they were both to my Mom.  But it’s still cool.  I’d been keeping this writing thing on the down low while I got a few things finished.  She came up to visit for my son’s second birthday, and I played coy, telling her I was friends with this Kingswood guy and he was looking for feedback on his stories.  She fell for it hook, line, and sinker, so I got honest feedback that was untarnished by any parental bias.  The verdict: good stuff.  She found a few editorial errors in Damsel that I missed.  I fixed them, but Amazon and B&N are re-processing the file, so it’ll be down for a day or so.  It’s a good thing though.

So that’s about it.  Spent a lot of time today playing with the kids, both inside and in the snow outside.  We got more snowfall yesterday, and it’s wet sticky snow: perfect for snowballs.  So we got into a little snowball fight.  Naturally, my aim sucked.  While trying to hit my wife, I pegged my three month old, whom she was carrying, in the face.  Then I got my two year old in the face also.  Oy.  No wonder I’m not a baseball player, eh?

Unblocked

Today has been a good day of writing.

After nearly two weeks of at best mediocre progress, I got six or seven hundred words out yesterday. But today I really started firing on all cylinders again. What got me turned around? Partly it was what I talked about the other day: I stopped thinking 5 years in the future and considering all the money I could make and instead got refocused on writing again. Not to say I didn’t think business thoughts at all, but I made an effort to hold myself in check.

Beyond that, though, I was getting bogged down in a couple scenes where, again, I knew where I wanted to go but just couldn’t bring myself to go there.  I couldn’t figure them out.  So I said screw it and jumped forward to a chapter where I knew exactly what had to happen.  Well, I knew one part exactly and the rest generally.  It had more action and a startling revelation, and I was totally looking forward to writing it.  So I just did.  Once again, I’ve jumped four or five chapters ahead, but the last time I did that it kicked off some great fill-in-the-blanks writing to catch up to myself, so I think it’ll help again.

Regardless, I got down over 2550 words tonight between about 1930 and 2330 (just a couple minutes ago).  That’s with an hour spent watching the Tube with the Mrs and some general distractions before everyone else went to bed.  When she and I came up to bed an hour and a half ago, I was at about 1100 words on the day.  Funny how no conversation allows one to just crank, eh?

So I’m feeling good again.  I updated the writing progress graphic under my books tab above to reflect my current word count: 31,850.  Good deal!

Ok, time to hit the sack.  🙂

Amendment

I’ve thought it through some more, and I need to amend my new goals from the last post, as follows:

  1. There’s no point in taking those two stories down at this point.  They’re already technically published, so it’s not like I can submit them to short story publications anymore.  So I’ll just leave them up, let ’em ride.  Can’t hurt.
  2. I’ll re-evaluate whether or not to put more titles up on the ebook stores in the summer, depending on the status of Masters.  At the very least, nothing else goes up until Masters is ready, though I will submit more shorts to publications regardless.

I feel the need to amend one statement, too.  In the last post, I wrote that sometimes Indies can be arrogant.  Thinking on it some more, that’s not a fair thing to say overall.  I’ve encountered some NEW indy folks who seem pretty cocky, maybe excessively so.  But mostly I think I was just projecting a bit: I think maybe I’VE been a bit arrogant lately.

So now it’s back to what got me started on this whole thing: writing my book.

Later.

Rushing

Now that my computer’s fully up and running again, I’ve caught up on listening to the writing podcasts I enjoy: I Should Be Writing, Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing, and Writing Excuses.  They got me thinking.

Lately, I’ve been reading a bunch of indy-writers’ blogs, as well as J A Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, and some other big names.  As I posted about over the weekend, partly because of all this reading, I’ve been getting a bit of the gold-rush fever that a lot of indies seem to be caught up in.  Must.  Get.  Book.  Out.  Now!  Opportunity will be missed forever if it isn’t done RIGHT NOW!  I’m sure you’ve encountered the mindset.  I’ve commented on some of those indy blogs, saying those dudes and dudettes need to slow down and think of the long game, but at the same time here I am getting caught up in the fever too.

While listening to these podcasts yesterday and this morning, though, I realized how stupid I was being.

For Pete’s sake, I’ve written three short stories and 29,000 words of a novel and I’m putting together grand publishing schemes and starting to think I’m the cat’s meow that everyone’s going to buy.  And thinking that I’ve somehow got stature to give advice.  Where the hell did THAT come from??  I need to be taking and seeking advise, not giving it, at this point.  When it comes to writing and publishing anyway.  Business stuff…I think I’ve got some credentials to give advise there, at least theoretically.  🙂

This rushing mindset has affected my writing.  I’ve gotten all of 2,000 words done in Masters over the last week and a half, and all of 300 words toward another short story that I have been unable to finish: BAD!  Why the block?  Well partly it has to do with changing computers, sick kids, getting a little sick myself, and general fatigue.  But I think it also has to do with excessively focusing on the Gold Rush as opposed to just writing and learning the craft.

Listening to these podcasts with professional writers, I asked myself what my goal in this whole thing is.  Well obviously, finishing what I’ve started with Masters is up there, then having people like what I’ve written and making a little money off it.  But really, if I’m going to do this thing, I want to be PROFESSIONAL.  Not in the sense of doing it for pay, but in the sense of acting and having a professional mindset, demeanor, work ethic, and attitude.  Frankly, though I told Aaron Niz on his blog that the only validation that matters is if people buy your stuff, that’s not entirely true, is it?  Not if I want to be a professional.  Because there’s also my standing in the professional community to consider.  Being able to look others in the eye and consider them my peers, and have that consideration returned in kind.

Frankly, I think a lot of indy types are eager and enthusiastic, but also a bit arrogant, in how they present themselves sometimes.  I think maybe I’ve started to go down that route, and I don’t like that thought.  So in addition to my writing goals that I set last month, I’m adding the following:

  1. I’m taking my two short stories down from Kindle and PubIt.  I mostly intended putting them up as a learning process anyway, and I’ve achieved that.  So for now I’m taking them down from sales until I have a full package ready to go.
  2. I’m going to attend a conference or convention later in the year, to hob nob with professionals and learn.
  3. I’m not going to put anything else up on the ebook stores until the end of the year, at the earliest.  That will give me time to really evaluate my products and make sure I’m ready.
  4. I’m going to continue to submit short stories to publications.
  5. When I finish my novels, I’ll edit them and get them all good, then decide whether to send them to NY or put them up for sale myself.

Long story short: NO MORE RUSHING!

That is all.

Posted

I went ahead and did it. I posted my first two short stories on Kindle and PubIt. They should be up and available for sale sometime tomorrow-ish. I figured what the heck, right? Worst that happens is no one buys them.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping on writing other things, to get better and to get more product ready for sale. I’m also researching other publications to send short stories to for traditional publishing, and editors for novels and novellas. Fun, fun.

Before uploading the stories, I looked at the covers I made before again and realized they both sort of sucked. So I re-did them. The final drafts of both stories and the new covers are now posted under the short stories tab above.

I guess we’ll see how this goes.

More business thoughts

I’ve not made much progress this week.  I’m up to just under 29,000 words on Masters.  On the bright side, the progress I did make was good.  On the bad side, there wasn’t much of it.  Part of the reason for this is I upgraded computers.  My old Power Mac was just that: old.  Six years old, to be precise.  I was taking 10 minutes to wake it up.  Quite annoying, so I’d been using my wife’s Macbook Pro more often than not.  Which was annoying for her.  On Tuesday, my new Macbook Pro arrived, but regardless of Apple’s advertising about how easy it is to migrate all your files from one Mac to another, it took a LONG time to git ‘r done.

In the mean time, I’ve been getting my business registration and banking squared away.  SSN Storytelling is now an actual business entity, complete with checking account.  I got a Paypal account, and set up accounts on KDP and PubIt.  Smashwords is next.

Now that I’m up and running as a business, I’ve been thinking more about strategy.  I’m obviously going to submit to publishing houses and magazines.  But I see no reason not to publish stories myself online at the same time, and make some money.  There’s a lot of potential upside there.  And if a publishing house picks me up too, even better.

So I ran some more numbers, based on my writing goals for this year.  Assuming I make them, my production would look something like this:

Taking a hint from Dean Wesley Smith, I figure I should package short stories individually and in packages of 5 and 10.  Along those same lines, it might be worthwhile to package groups of novels too.  I decided on the above pricing scheme for a number of reasons, but primarily because I don’t see the point in undervaluing my work and removing all profit from my business.  Some will point out that you get more sales from pricing really low, but the more I think about it the less that makes sense.  Sure, maybe you might sell more.  But a quality product will sell regardless, unless you price it exorbitantly high (and $4.99 for a novel doesn’t qualify as exorbitant).

One might ask where I got the sales assumptions.  Right out of thin air is the answer.  But from what I’ve been able to glean on various writers blogs and forums, I don’t think those numbers aren’t unreasonable to expect for each title.  Or maybe they are.  We’ll see.

So, with those assumptions in place, that leads to the following cash flow projection:

To make the numbers easy, I assumed that titles don’t sell at all during the year they’re introduced.  Again, not a valid assumption, but that’s ok.  I also assumed that production remains the same year in, year out.  Again, will that happen?  Probably not.  But you have to start somewhere.  Finally, as you no doubt noticed above, I assumed Amazon-level royalty rates, and that those do not change in the years ahead.  PubIt and Smashwords rates are different, of course, as would be any profit from Print on Demand sales.  But again, this is just a projection based on some simple assumptions.  Reality will vary.

So yeah, there’s potential for pretty good cash.  But then I guess we already knew that.

So today I’ve been pondering how to proceed.  Obviously I must continue writing.  I was thinking what to do with the stories I currently have finished.  My first two short stories are all set.  I re-did the cover on Falling Softly and compiled both of them in Kindle and Epub formats, then tested both on my Kindle for Mac app and using Adobe Digital Editions, and the formatting looks pretty good.  I was initially thinking to wait to upload them to the stores until after Masters is finished and edited.  That way I’d have the novel and a couple more short stories as well, so I could hit the markets with the shorts, a collection of shorts, and the novel all at once.  Seemed like a good way to make a small splash right from the start.  But now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t release Damsel and Falling now, to get some practice with how the stores work, so when the novel’s ready I’m not learning from scratch then.  Seems reasonable too, but I wonder if I’m being impatient.  There’s no rush, after all.

Oh well.  We’ve got a formal event this evening that I need to get ready for.  So I guess I’ll think it through a bit more before I do anything.

First Submission

First, another update.  I’m up to 27,000 words on Masters.  I got about 900 words done on Friday night, and about 400 or 500 during the day yesterday.  I meant to do more, but I felt this weird need to watch the kids so my wife could go do some girly things like shopping and what have you.  Then after she got back, we decided to pop of a movie via Netflix.  Their live streaming thing through our PS-3 rocks.  I still love our Apple TV, but at $7.99 a month for all the movies you can watch, the Netflix app rocks.  So anyway, we’d never seen 2012.  I’d heard it was ridiculously abysmal in every way except for special effects, but what the heck, we weren’t paying anything extra for it.  Yeah, it was ludicrous.  But it had some entertainment value, regardless.

For some reason, I got to thinking about zombies while watching the movie, and I go the idea to write a story from the zombie’s point of view.  What if they’re not the stupid, slow shambling monsters we’ve come to know and love?  What do they think about their lot in life, for lack of a better term?

So when we went upstairs at about 2315-ish, I started writing.  About 2300 words later, at 0120, it was done.

This morning, after breakfast, I read back through it and changed a couple little things, expanded on one particular rant, and gave it to the better half to read.  She thought it was good, but quirky.  So great, now what?  I got to thinking why not submit it someplace?  I mean, I plan to sell stuff via ebooks, but nothing says I can’t also sell to traditional publishing outlets also, if they’ll have them.  Early this afternoon, my wife’s friend came by, and I asked her to give a read through as well.  Again, good feedback.

I looked around on the web, trying to decide where to submit it, and straight off came to Weird Tales.  Their description of what they’re looking for sounds just like my story, IMHO.  So I took a short while to write up a cover letter, rolled the Scrivener compiler to make an rtf in proper format, and sent it off to their electronic submissions people.  I got the acknowledgment email a few minutes later.

So that was easy.  My first time submitting to a publisher.  It actually seems a bit anti-climactic.  Not that I expected fireworks or anything, but man.  That was EASY.  I guess we’ll see what they have to say in 6 to 8 weeks.  It’ll probably be no, but that’s cool.  I’ll just try somewhere else or sell it via Kindle et al.  Point is to finish the stories and try to sell them.  It’s not about ego or anything.  It’s just business.

So I’m not going to post A Zombie’s Life like I have my other shorts.  Weird Tales considers putting it up anywhere as having published it, and thus won’t consider it.  When they reject it, I’ll put it up.  Or not.  We’ll see.

🙂

Sleepy

It was a late night last night.  The last several days I’ve not come close to reaching my word count goals, but last night I was bound and determined to change that.

I started Masters using Word for Mac, but a few weeks back I heard about Scrivener on the I Should Be Writing podcast.  Mur raves about it on the show a lot, so I figured what the heck.  It’s got a free 30 day trial period, so there was nothing to lose.  Well it rocks.  It’s I guess an html-based app.  You can split up the document by chapter, by scene, however you want.  Then when you’re done it’s got a compiler feature that’ll format it for .doc, .pdf, .epub, .mobi or a bunch of other file formats with just a few keystrokes.  Reading around about the efforts people are going through to format things for kindle, or PubIt, or whatever, I’ve been wondering if I was doing something wrong.  But I’ve formatted both of my short stories for Kindle and brought them up on my Kindle for Mac application easily, looking good, after tinkering with the compiler for all of 15 minutes the first time, and under a minute the second.  So I’m counting myself lucky I guess.

Anyway, Scrivener has another little feature where you can enter your word count goals for the document as a whole, and for the current writing session.  I’ve had 1,500 set as a session goal for a while.  So far this week, I’d been unsuccessful in meeting it: 800 here, 400 there, you know the drill.  Last night, I determined I was going to meet 1,500 come hell or high water.  So I pushed through, and at about 1 am I managed, between head bobs, to get to 1,504.  Then I was up again at quarter of six to get ready for work.  As you can imagine, I’m a little bit loopy this morning.  But I read through what I wrote last night, and it’s coherent, so I’ll call that a win.

That brings me to 25,800 words or so on Masters, so in the last 8 days I’m averaging about 600 words a day.  Not what I want, and not enough to meet my goal of finishing by the end of April.  I need to pick it up a notch or two, it seems.  Oh, and I’m going to do another short story this weekend.  Should be fun.

Name Change

First, an update.  As of last night, I have over 23,000 words down on Masters.  I’m not making progress as quickly as I’d like (I’d really like to get at least 1,000 words a day, but some days that simply doesn’t work out), but it’s coming along.

I had initially planned to put my stories and books up on the various ebook sites under the business name “Steel Shark Publishing”.  But I did a precautionary Google search and found another guy who calls himself Steel Shark Productions.  He’s a photographer and visual arts guy, but I don’t want to risk a Trademark infraction (the standard for determining if you’ve violated a trademark is if the consumer could reasonably be expected to be confused by the second comer, and I think I would meet that standard if I went with that name).  So I’ve had to rethink my business name.  It didn’t take long to come up with a new one.

In the submarine force, the missile submarines, or boomers, are referred to as SSBNs (Submersible Ship Ballistic Missile Nuclear).  So, for instance, USS Ohio (when she was still a boomer) had the hull number SSBN 726.  They are generally considered to be easier duty, because there are two crews for each hull.  So while one crew has the boat at sea, the other is ashore in “off crew”, training and drilling, but always going home and not standing any real duty.  On the other had, fast attack submarines are called SSNs (Submersible Ship Nuclear).  So USS PITTSBURGH, for example, would be SSN 720.  Since SSNs have only one crew per boat, there’s a lot more work for each person to do.  We SSN guys lovingly refer to boomer sailors as “Boomer Fags”, since they live such a cushy lifestyle.  Guys who serve on SSNs tend to say that SSN really stands for Saturdays, Sundays, and Nights since a lot of the time, that’s the work week for an SSN sailor while in port at home (in liberty ports on deployment is another matter, of course).  Since I currently do my writing on that same schedule, I think I’ll change my business name to Saturdays Sundays and Nights Storytelling.  Of course, the IRS EIN website doesn’t accept enough characters to spell that out, so it’ll officially be SSN Storytelling.  But I’ll still refer to the business by its full name.

So there you have it.  Now I have an EIN, but it looks like the IRS gooned up my application.  For some reason they put my last name as my middle name and my last name both.  Brilliant, eh?  Hopefully that won’t be too hard to fix.

Falling Softly

I didn’t write at all on Thursday.  Between work and family matters, it was just too hectic until after the kids finally fell asleep.  By then, I was wiped and didn’t have any creativity in me.  Friday, I got about 600 words down in one of those middle scenes I was complaining about the other day.  But overall, it was not the most productive end to the work week.

Yesterday, I decided to take a break from Masters and write another short story.  I got started after dinner, as the kids were winding down at around 7 pm.  I finished right around midnight, cover and all.  It’s called Falling Softly, and it came in at just over 2900 words.  It’s the tale of an assassin’s (hopefully) final job before he can leave the killing business and start a normal life.  I posted it under short stories, above.

Today, I intend to get some more work done on Masters and get the forms filled out for registering a sole proprietorship in New York State before the Super Bowl starts.  I don’t intend to put these stories up for sale just yet: I’d like to have at least five short stories, for sale individually and as a collection, before I start a presence on the ebook sellers.  More titles seems to mean more exposure and more sales, so I might as well build up some inventory and get started with a bang.  There’s no rush, after all.  All the same, it’s better to the all the paperwork done sooner rather than later.