Sunday, June 30, 2013

A New Writing Dare - Goals

Today begins the A Round of Words in 80 Days challenge, round 3 for 2013.  I always start early, which means I'm already late, since today is the day I start and I'm only now posting the goals. (But apparently they have no goals linky up yet, so I guess I'm not that late....)

My direction, for the time being is to see about making a living.  I won't really be thinking about much else until September at least.  (I wanted to start this at the end of May, but I had too many commitments, so I used the intervening time to shake off commitments, and play with some false starts to figure out what I needed to do.)

I have two things that hold some promise at making money right now: my writing and my art/design work.  Both are quirky and not likely to bring me a quick and easy income.  Furthermore I'm not interested in work-for-hire at the moment.  I prefer investment and passive income streams.  The good news is that I don't really need much to make a living.  (There are some advantages to living in a depressed state.)

So I have decided on two things, both of which need raw material first.


On the writing side I am doing a modified version of Dean Wesley Smith's plan for making a living at writing short fiction.  His exact plan doesn't suit me because I'm not actually into short fiction. I really like microfiction, and could have fun with flash fiction, but then my imagination makes a skip up to novelette length.

I think.  I actually haven't tried writing a lot of short fiction since I stopped writing for children.  But that's a part of this summer's experiment -- I want to write enough to see what length, and what kind of stories work best for me.

I think the novelette and novella work best because they are equivalent to common screenplay lengths, so that's what I'm going for. But I'm sure this will evolve.

My ROW80 goals are pinned mainly to this experiment.

*Eight (8) stories 5k to 20k in length
*Cover designs for the above stories

That's about 10 days per story, which should be easy.  However, since I want to start publishing some of these in late August, it also means that I'll have to take days off for formatting and paperwork and all that associated good stuff.  I also plan to take a day off a week.  And maybe take a day to do mostly artwork.

So that's tougher, especially if I find I'm writing the longer end of the spectrum. On the other hand, if I'm writing shorter, I could potentially do more.  I think a stretch goal of 10-12 stories is a good one.

My ideas right now seem to be hovering closer to the long end.

The actual, ultimate goal, though is to discover what length works for me to write most efficiently.


On the art front, I'm less organized.  I'm still feeling my way along.  I have fewer options for the "passive income" concept here.  With art, the only passive income source tends to be stock sites.  And with stock, the average schlub makes money by putting up a ton of work and then seeing a trickle of income from a few of the works over time.  Hard work, not lucrative.

Still I'll probably do some stock art eventually, but until then, I'm creating my own private folder of "stock" to draw on for my own designs.

Pre-made covers are technically not passive income, because they don't create an income _stream_. You sell the work once, and then have to do it again.  Still, because you do the work ahead, and not to order, it _feels_ like passive income if you use a distributor site to take care of the client end.

So right now I'm doing some covers for Self-Pub Book Covers.  There are limitations on what you can do with SPBC -- the client does the typography, and the choices for color and font are very limited, so you have to design for that. But I don't think I'll be doing enough covers this quarter to add another vendor.  We'll see.

Whether I can make money at these remains to be seen.  Therefore this is not really a part of the dare, except for the covers for my own stories.

Price Hikes and Pseudonyms

Two more side-notes:  One of the elements of Dean's plan is that you price your work to match professional, commercial work.  It's a critical element.  Only the outliers actually make much money at bargain-priced work.

Using a pen name USED to be one of his other cornerstones -- something I've never really been comfortable with. However, it makes sense with this experiment.  For one thing, if you're charging a premium for the speed-written novelettes from the experiment, that would conflict with a more bargain price on your regular books.

Well, now Dean has changed his mind on pen names.  Just when he convinced me that it's a good idea.  And he's doing it for all the reasons I objected to doing it in the first place.

So I'm re-examining the reasons I plan to use pen names, and eliminating those that don't matter: such as price differential.

I'm raising my prices.

I've found that low prices don't goose my sales any, and I'm not selling enough at the current price to really justify it.  So I've decided to raise my prices by a dollar across the board.  (Except for the 99 cent books, which are going up to 2.99.)

I have already hiked the price at Smashwords, but it will take a few weeks for the price to trickle through to other vendors. (I might have to remove all books from Sony, and then relist -- since they like to play games with price changes.)

In the meantime, Smashwords is having a sale this coming month (July 1-31), and my books are at half price.  (That should cushion the blow of my having to raise Smashword's prices first.)

So if you've been sitting on a sample, not sure whether to buy, you should make the purchase soon or pay a higher price.

Let The Games Begin

In the meantime, I started my ROW80 effort a day early -- now, to be specific.  I do this because the last update post is always scheduled for a Wednesday, which is also Day 80.  So you have to post your last progress report before you're done with the last day's work.  So to make that last post come out right, I run the dare between Days 0-79, rather than 1-80.

I'll tell you how these first few days are working on Wednesday.

See you in the funny papers.


TanjaG said...

Your goals look as they are challenging but doable. I wish you all the best and hope you have lots of fun with the challenge :D

Eden "Kymele" Mabee said...

Camille, it's good to see you back in the ROW of things (I knew you were around, but I somehow kept missing your posts on the linkies).

Interesting how Dean is recanting his views on pen names. I'd wondered about his initial view when I first read it too. It will be an interesting test...

Here's to some great goals and a great round.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Tanja and Eden!

Dean has a way of looking at things in extremes. Pen names are a useful tool.

I am still leaning toward using one on these novelettes. I might do an open pen name, though -- a "writing as" thing.

S.H. Aeschliman said...

I quit my full-time job last fall to be a full-time writer and freelance editor. Nice to know I'm not the only one crazy enough to go for it. =*)

My first take on your goals is that you're as ambitious as I am. (I never accomplish all my goals.) It'll be interesting to watch your progress & see if you succeed at writing all those stories. I'm guessing you have more writing stamina than I do; I can't seem to write for more than a few hours a day without feeling overloaded.

I love that you're doing your own cover art - I wish I had the talent for that. I checked out your cover art for sale & really like it!

Hope you have a great week.

The Daring Novelist said...

A few hours a day should get you a great word count -- but it takes practice. (It's not just stamina, it's development of skills.)

A lot of people use sprints -- 10 or 15 minutes of writing at a time. It's amazing how much you can rack up if you use 15 minutes on, 5 minutes off as a practice.