Fun Stuff Happening This Week
Fun Stuff Happening This Coming Week
Kris finished reading Star Fall: A Seeders Universe Novel and she liked it. She didn’t have many corrections at all, so took me about an hour tonight to run through it and put in her corrections that I agreed with, then got it off to WMG.
As I said earlier, the book will be in a bundle in the middle of September.
And speaking of bundles, I have a book in a really nifty bundle right now. It’s called “Out of This World Bundle” and it has 16 sf and fantasy novels in it, including one by me and one by Kris and a fantastic bunch of science fiction writers.
This is a good bundle, worth the money, folks. Just click on the image to go to the bundle.
Only seven days left on this one!!
I spent all day after the writer’s meeting working on something we will announce in a day or so. It’s going to be fun. Stay tuned. I’m excited.
I know, I know, the summer is almost over. And the September workshops start in one week. Stunning but true. And there is still room in all of them including the new Speed workshop.
If you haven’t taken a workshop from us before, start with Depth. Maybe the most important workshop we have done for your writing.
Topic of the Night: Perspective
Well, I wanted to write this last novel in seven days. Failed. It took me ten days. Guess I should never write again, huh?
That sound silly? Yet sadly, that kind of thinking is what stops so many great new writers. For some strange reason that has nothing to do with any reality, writers fear failure.
And find it almost impossible to keep even small failures in perspective.
And new writers define failure in really stupid ways. I failed at ten days because I wanted to write it in seven days. That’s obviously silly.
Failing because I wrote a novel in ten days is pretty clear to see that isn’t really failing. Because it seems beyond most writers to even write 40,000 words in ten days, that is easy to keep in perspective.
But take perspective and apply it to, for example, sales and writers just get silly stupid.
I have heard writers complain to me, “Oh, I only sold a hundred copies of that book last month.”
My desire is to slap them silly, but I, of course, just nod in sadness at their horrible fate. I wouldn’t dare remind them that a hundred different humans reached into their pocket somewhere in the world and paid good money for their writing. That would be insulting their perspective of failure.
Belief in failure is like a religion. Facts have nothing to do with anything.
Even one person, one sale per month is considered failure. Writers think of a book sale as some silly widget, while the reality, the perspective, is that every sale is a person convinced to pay their hard-earned money for your work. And that person hopes to enjoy your story.
So having a book only sell one copy in a month is failure when looked at a spread sheet of accounting widgets. But if you had been standing in a store when that very real person walked up with your book in their hand and dug into their wallet to pay for it, would that one sale have seemed a failure to you then?
Be honest. It wouldn’t. I know because I have had that happen to me and I just stood there and watched, dumbfounded and light-hearted. It was at that moment I finally got some perspective on what a “sale” really meant.
Perspective is a huge topic. It covers the problems of any writer going to traditional publishing and losing their work for no money to the silliness of indie writers focusing on chasing the hot topic and promotion instead of learning how to be a better storyteller.
And perspective really gets lost when it comes to how long it really takes to build a writing career. Every new writer is in a hurry. Never met one that wasn’t. That lack of perspective alone is the most deadly thing there is in writing.
And some of you will look at my book when it comes out to see how bad it is because you are still lost in the perspective that writing slow means writing better. And me spending about 40 hours to write a book in ten days means the book can’t be good, right? And you need to see how bad my book is to confirm your perspective.
Perspective as a topic in writing and publishing is huge, a subject for many articles. In fact, I have two books on this topic already called Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. You can read the original blog posts of chapters and comments for free by clicking on the link at the top of the page.
But I just wanted to mention perspective today, the day after writing a book in ten days.
Imagine how impressed everyone would be if I had set out to write the book in fifteen days and did it in ten days instead.
The real killer for writers in so so many ways.
September Online Workshops
They start in about one week!!!
Click the workshop tab above for description and sign-up or go to www.wmgpublishingworkshops.com.
Questions about any of the workshops, feel free to write me. There is room in all of them at the moment.
Class #22 Sept 6th How to Write Thrillers
Class #23 Sept 6th Speed
Class #24 Sept 6th Writing Mysteries
Class #25 Sept 6th Character Development
Class #26 Sept 7th Depth in Writing
Class #27 Sept 7th Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #28 Sept 7th Cliffhangers
Class #29 Sept 7th Pacing Your Novel
Class #30… Sept 7th Expectations (Writing on the Rails)
Totals For Year 4, Month 1, Day 28
Writing in Public blog streak Day 1,074
Over 10,000 steps streak Day 59
— Daily Fiction: 500 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 67,400 words
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total:1,900 words
— Blog Posts: 800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 11,400 words
— E-mail: 8 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words. E-mails month-to date: 404 e-mails. Approx. 29,300 words
— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers
— Year of Short Fiction Goal: 120 stories (July 1st to June 30th). Stories finished to date: 8 stories.
— Yearly Novel Goal: 12 Novels. Novels finished to date: 2 novels.
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I think perspective can be a challenge at times. If I went by “sales”, I would have gave up along time ago. I don’t have a whole lot out and not much for sales. I made one sale of my first novel last April I think and that has been it. What keeps me going is I know I have potential to do good at this. I just need time and more stuff out. Patience and perspective for me go hand in hand.
Perspective: YES! You are so right, Dean. I check the KDP report page and see scattered red dots, each representing one — maybe two — sales and think: Wow… somebody actually bought my book today. And the blue dots marking pages read in the KU program: One or two borrows at a time means I can follow my anonymous reader as he goes — thirty-five pages yesterday, forty-seven pages today — will he keep going all the way to page 427 or give up before he gets to the end? The suspense is killing me.
Perhaps someday each of those red dots will represent dozens or hundreds of sales, but right now the fact that there are any dots at all feels like an accomplishment.
Donna, you just made me shudder. In horror. I am still shuddering. I must look away…
Good post, Dean. I have a book that has sold 90 copies so far this month, so there’s a chance it might sell 100 in total. I am celebrating! This will mark the first time I have ever sold close to 100 copies of any book in a month. I am very glad that I did not decide to quit when I went several months selling no copies of any book. I knew that the only way to sell books was to keep writing despite my discouragement. Keep preaching.
Thanks Dean, I had forgotten for a moment that there were people involved. It’s good to be reminded.
Hi Dean. I completely agree with you on perspective. But this time I’m playing the devil’s advocate. Assuming you told a venture capitalist (I know writers don’t need venture capitalists) that your book sold only one copy of a month, they’ll faint. “If the book is available everywhere, why is it not flying off the shelves?” they’ll ask. And they would conclude by saying a) either something is wrong with the product or b) there is no demand for the book! If you told them that every sale is to a human being, they would say that you’re being emotional and not seeing the whole thing as a business. That you’re not seeing the writing on the wall. “You can keep writing in the same series,” they’ll say, “but then don’t expect to make any money because what you’re doing is a hobby and NOT a business.”
I’m sure many writers take the same view on their books or in which series they should write. What I would call the venture capitalist thinking.
What is your take on this?
Met numbers of venture capitalists who invest in a business far, far, far before the first sale is every put up. So not sure what you are asking.
Any business starts slow. If I took the attitude you expressed when I was writing and sending out stories from 1974 until 1983 when I finally figured out how to start selling, I would never be here.
As I said, all beginning writers are always in a hurry. And venture capitalists, at least the ones I know, understand a growing business and the time it takes. That’s why they are venture capitalists. Duh.
So I wish writers would think more like them to be honest. But alas, writers do not.
Great reply, Dean! Thank you very much. 🙂
David Haywood Young
Eh. There’s also opportunity cost. This is a biggie.
Now, I like writing. It’s fun. I haven’t had any stellar results from a business perspective (meaning I can make lots more money from roughly the same time/effort elsewhere, and writing words ain’t my only way to create a product, though a software-type product certainly has a shorter shelf life under current laws, and so do baked goods) and I suspect this will always be true.
I see this sort of argument/discussion a lot. People who’ve had some success in the writing business over time suggest that time is required. Sure; I believe it. They also say it’s important to treat writing as a business to achieve long-term business-type success in writing. I believe that too. Makes total sense. However, I’ve run my own businesses other than writing (I’m doing it now, for that matter)…and doing that successfully requires some form of prioritization, which in turn requires some sort of scheme to measure results. If Activity A generally results in Profit X (however that’s measured), and Activity B results in Profit Y (assuming a reasonable definition of “profit” measurement is roughly equivalent between those activities, which is a stretch in many cases, but bear with me if you like), folks are not being unreasonable to compare X and Y.
For me personally, treating my writing as a business is…incomplete. My current business includes writing fiction, plus software (currently helping a friend with a startup), plus a startup grain-free bakery that sells products at local farmers’ markets. Sometimes too, though not lately, I drive for Uber and/or Lyft. The mix changes. I’m also a parent, and a foster parent. Is it fair to say that none of that matters from a financial-success-as-a-writer perspective? Sure. But how about financial success in general? How about happiness in general?
Another thing: I really need to write first thing in the morning. Maybe that won’t always be true, but for now it is. I’d love for this to change, and I suspect it eventually will, but I’m a semi-newbie with seven books out, two of them being story collections. I need to get better at the sitting-and-writing bit. It’s not a work ethic problem as you describe. I work all day long most days. It’s a taming-the-brain problem combined with the fact that writing first thing in the morning means I don’t get to do other things first thing in the morning. Writing every day helps a lot, too. But that comes at a cost, and pretending there’s no relevant cost doesn’t change anything.
Note that I’m not complaining, here. I’m happy with how things are going. I’d love to focus on the writing. And everything else. But that’s not how “focus” works, is it?
So, yeah, it’s fair to say that focusing on the writing is likely to yield better results in the area of writing over time. It’s also fair to say that people have plenty of other options too. And it’s a bit unfair to act as if non-writing activities shouldn’t be compared to writing, from the perspective of a business owner with more than one line of business.
From a time/effort/money/happiness perspective, is writing the best use of a given person’s time? Maybe. Is the answer to that question even in principle knowable? Maybe not. Is any of that going to stop me from writing? Nope. But will I write less than I might otherwise? Yep. Does that hurt my long-term writer-type income? Almost certainly. Be really weird if it didn’t.
So, yeah, focus is great. And I loved your post on perspective. I don’t think I disagreed with any of it. I know you’re aware of the opportunity-cost issues. But I do think there’s a type of tunnel vision associated with running a site like this. I don’t think that’s harmful, exactly, but I think it may be worth acknowledging from time to time.
David, you are visiting a site run by a writer who has made my living with my writing for over thirty years. Let me think, if I hadn’t been obsessive and focused, I would still be a part-timer or long gone by now. I sure wouldn’t be well past two hundred novels.
The one thing I don’t talk about here is the passion, the focus, the intensity, the give-everything-to-writing attitude that it really takes to make a career over the years. I have no problem with people doing what you are doing with writing, making it a part-time gig. No issue at all, which is why I don’t do passion blogs. Most people visiting here are like you. They have no desire to give the writing a full-force press, full passion, full dedication to the detriment of all other things, including family. And I understand and respect that completely.
But you are coming to a blog where I have that passion and have had it for forty-plus years now, for the most part. So not sure what you are expecting here? I’m just not the type to pat people on the head and say, “Nice writer.” I tell the truth as I know it at this moment and I keep learning. All I can do. But writing does consume me and it is my focus. If that bothers you, might want to go to some part-time writers site where they tell you how to balance work and family and writing. Won’t get that much here to be honest because I flat don’t know how to do that.
David Haywood Young
Fair enough! And I’ve been coming to this site for years. I hope we both keep doing it for many more. I’m not bothered by your passion/commitment! I’m inspired by it.
Then guess I missed what you were saying. Sorry. Might try that point again or someone else tell me what I missed.
David Haywood Young
Okay. Then maybe this?
“I think evaluating the business aspects of writing necessarily requires evaluating all other plausible business activity in which a businessperson might plausibly/enjoyably engage, and it’s not at all unreasonable for a given person to conclude writing isn’t the best option at the moment–this might or not be an actually correct conclusion, but it’s reasonable, and doesn’t necessarily mean anyone involved is misunderstanding long-term thinking as I think you implied above.”
That’s all. As far as how to succeed in an area like writing, without the dedication? I don’t know how to do that either, at least without wild amounts of luck–and even that sort of success probably requires dedication and passion if it’s to continue. Just a fact of life, which also applied back when I was a poker-playing kid. The guys who didn’t put in the effort couldn’t meaningfully compete over time.
But I do want to continue to improve as a writer anyway, and I think I can do that, and I reserve the right to shift my priorities at some point in the future!
Yeah, deciding what a person wants to do is always an interesting time. But I have tried a ton of professions. I had a friend one time tell me as I was thinking of trying for the qualification for the Seniors Tour, “You don’t want it bad enough.” He was right. I didn’t want to hear it, but he was spot on the money and I knew that from my years of writing. Writing is an international profession. Not sure why people think they can do it easily in just a few months or even a few years. And part time at that.
But you have a valid point, working toward a decision at some future point is smart and better to make an informed decision to push hard when the time comes than one based on myths.
David Haywood Young
I also love your many, many posts about fitting the writing into your day. They’re inspiring and helpful. Also your comments about the importance of practice. I’m going out on a limb for a moment, though, and suggesting that being able to kick your brain into a writing-type flow state is a skill. Probably one that improves with practice.
I want to get there…it’s not my top priority in life, but it’s pretty high on the list. I think that means I need to practice the act of writing, over years if necessary. Meanwhile the “first thing in the morning” approach actually works, as a method of producing typed/dictated words–sort of. If I can accept the opportunity costsI can write fiction that way, and I’ve committed to it (for essentially arbitrary/silly reasons) for the month of September.
Anyway. I didn’t want you to think I had some weird notion that my current workaround is somehow magical or necessarily permanent. It’s just what I can do, right away, to get myself writing. Nothing else I’ve tried has worked for me…yet. But I have high hopes for the future–once I’ve gotten in enough more hours practicing the actually-writing bit.
I’ve got to say, your topic about perspective was great. Seeing you miss your goal by three days reminds me of the saying, “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” I’ve really loved watching your goal oriented blog posts these last years. Big goals inspire me, and watching you set and meet them has been very inspiring. Keep up the good work. 🙂