Tag Archives: making a living

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One of the questions I’ve heard more than once over the years is, “Can money be made from podcasting?” The answer is usually “Not really.”, but there are people that do it. Some of them do so indirectly. People listen to their podcast fiction and buy their book(s). Other’s have set up a “subscription” model through Paypal. Still others, at least in the podcast fiction world, go through Podiobooks where listeners can donate and the author gets a large percentage.

There are a few problems with these options. Some people don’t want to buy your books. They’re happy to listen to the podcast and then move on. They might, like me, want to throw you a buck or two for the entertainment you provided without adding to their collection of stuff. Other people have an undying hatred of Paypal. And on the creative side not everyone wants to deal with putting their stuff on Podiobooks (I’ve yet to), or their content might not be fiction.

Is there a solution to these issues? It turns out that there may be. It’s called Flattr. (I know, I know, again with dropping a final vowel.) How does it work? It’s pretty simple really. Sign up for free. Put some money into your Flattr account using a major credit card or Paypal. Then “Flattr” content creators that you want to support. Every month an amount you budget is divided by the number of Flattrs you distributed and 90% of that money is given to the creators. Flattr gets the other 10%.

There’s a problem with this, though. I can’t Flattr you if you don’t sign up for Flattr (well I can actually, but you don’t get any money unless you sign in). So help me to help you and other content creators. If you’re a fan of podcasting and other content creators, sign up and get to Flattr’ing. If you’re a creator, do the same thing, but also make sure to add a button or widget to your site and let us know that you’re using it and why.

Let me bottom line this for the consumers out there though, if you’re listening to, watching, reading, or otherwise enjoying something find a way to thank the creators. Comments are awesome. Retweets and shares are great. Getting paid is even better. Let them know how much you value what they do!

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IMG_20130215_140212 I have a friend in town that has a brand new recording studio! Zoo Station Studios is open for business and he’s charging $30/hour at this point. Here’s the picture of the booth that I spent some quality time in today.

By the end of the week I should have two short stories recorded. I will be putting these up for sale. I had to pay for the production, so I’ll be asking you to pony up for the product. Business is business and business must grow. That’s especially true now that I’m unemployed in the traditional sense. So, soon you’ll be able to buy versions of “With Power Comes Responsibility” and an unpublished anywhere (though soon available in e-print from Flying Island Press) story called “Stand Up Fight”.

Both of these stories weigh in at 7,000 words and that means around a half hour to forty-five minutes of audio. I was thinking of charging $1.99 for this pro-quality recording. Sound off in the comments about the cost, your interest and anything else you’d like to say. If these do well then we’re looking at a pro-quality audio versions of Archangel books one and two.

More details as they transpire!

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I am in the process of writing a novelette called “The Lessons of the Gun”. It’s an alternative history western that blends gun fights with philosophy. What if marshals and rangers were part of a belief system that treated the Colt .45 like samurai treated their katana? An old gunslinger faces one final battle for the peace of his town, the life of his acolyte. and possibly the future of his Order.

I decided that I’d see if something a little different would work. I’m making a PDF of part one available to you for free. If you decide it’s worth it hit the PayPal button and when the finished e-book comes out you’ll get it for free. Like it, but not enough to pay right now? The e-book will be coming out soon, but given the length I envision I will probably be charging at least another buck or so.

Get it here!

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The text for my children’s book project with Ed Delaney is more or less finalized. Everyone that’s read it so far uniformly loves the idea and thinks that I’ve gotten the voice and tone right. I may tweak it a bit (already have from what I sent out), but the hard part for me is done. Now it’s up to Ed to do the drawing and for us to work on layout.

Here’s what I hope to put out:

12 page softcover book (8 x 10)
App for iPhone/Android that includes an audio component

In order to get there I’ll need to make sure that Ed gets paid for his hard work. I’ll need to pay the developer for the app. I’ll be paying someone to do the audio for the app. Let’s just ball park and say that I’d need to raise $1500 to make that happen. That’s not out of bounds.

Here’s what I’m thinking about for levels of donation and rewards.

$1 – A heartfelt thanks and a high quality wall paper of the crew!

$5 – Your name in the backer’s section of the book, wallpaper, and an adventurer’s club button

$15 – Your name in the backer’s section, an autographed e-book, and a button.

$25 – An autographed print copy, e-book copy, and all previous rewards.

$50 – The app plus all previous levels.

$100 – Limited edition tee-shirt plus all previous award levels.

$250 – Limited edition 8.5 x 11 print of Monte, Molly, and Cyril plus all previous levels.

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I’ve decided to drop the price on Ginnie Dare to $.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. I plan on doing this for a limited time, a week from today I’ll push it back up. It’s an experiment to see if I can move the needle a bit as it seems to be stuck. Please share it with everyone you can. I think it’s an awesome book (of course) but I’m not alone. It’s gotten solid reviews from where it’s gotten reviews, but I understand folks not wanting to drop $3 on an unknown. Let’s see if this changes their minds.

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So I’ve had a few thoughts about how I want to get these stories out there and wanted to bounce them off of you, my loyal readers, to see what you thought.

Obviously, I’ll be selling them individually. Given their length I’m thinking $1.49 for each one on Amazon/Smashwords. I wanted to try something new, in addition to that.

$10 – You get all twelve stories, plus the prequel stories, personalized, in e-book format as they come out (possibly even a day or two early). This would save you $10.85 off of the cover price and hey PERSONALIZATION!

$15 – This would get you the above, plus e-book version of the stories I’m writing for the Action Pack. This is a joint project between Mike Plested, JR Murdock, and myself. Mike’s story will be Boy Scouts of the Apocalypse. JR’s will be a western/steampunk mashup. I’ll be writing a story that takes place in the Legend universe. I’m going to give the back story for one of the secondary characters. He’s basically Indiana Jones + Fox Mulder + Rube Goldberg. It’ll detail what REALLY happened at area 51 and events from it will enhance the modern stories I’m telling in the Legend universe. There should be twelve stories in there that I would sell for $.99 individually (and I’m not planning on doing that, only way to get those will be to buy the Action Pack or get this deal) so you’d get 24 stories for $15 that would ordinarily cost you $29.76.

$20 – Same as the $10 level, but you’d also get the further edited and SIGNED paperback version of the first season of Children of Legend when it comes out next year (may have to charge you for S&H when I get that out to you if you’re international). I’m thinking the paperback will run about $20 since it will be around 120-140K words.

$30 – Same as the $15 plus a SIGNED paperback version of my Action Pack short stories done up in a novelized fashion.

Now, this would be a sort of subsciption/pre-order deal. I’m not sure when I’d make this live per se. You might want to see the first few stories and I respect that. I’m also open to suggestions. If you think you’d like to do this leave me a comment with what level you’re interested in. I won’t hold anyone to this informal poll, but it will let me gauge interest. This worked well for Ginnie Dare and let me pay for the cover. I’d also like to get this professionally edited so this would help pay for that as well.

I may do this via Kickstarter or Indiegogo when the time comes so any thoughts on additional swag/levels of support are appreciated.

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I’ve decided, in the tradition of this great on-going electronic publishing experiment, to drop the price on the e-pub version of Ginnie Dare. Use the link below you’ll get it in e-pub and mobi/Kindle formats for $4.99 $2.49.

If you prefer to get it another way it’s available on Smashwords for $2.99 and will be available on Amazon for the same price later in the week. I don’t have an end date in mind on this, but I’ll make an announcement before the price change. Why wait though?

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I had a reading at Barnhill’s Books, a local wine and book shop, this weekend. It was a lot of fun. The folks there, particularly Mike and Suzette, are fantastic. They gave me two slots on Saturday. I read from Ginnie Dare in the early afternoon and from Through a Glass, Darkly in the evening. The crowds were light, thanks in part to good weather and the local county fair, but I count it a success for a few reasons.

The readings were good practice. In one case I had an audience member who was completely unfamiliar with my work. One of the books I sold was to someone I didn’t know and I was able to sign and personalize it for him. Connecting with future fans like that is something that you can’t do as well online (though it can be done). The biggest thing I got out of it though were the connections with the shop and its owners. Mike is an independent publisher at Second Wind Publishing and an author in his own right.

They will be selling e-books from their site. We talked about producing audio books for his authors. We also talked about selling e-books on physical media through the store. This is one forward thinking gent. We also talked about Flying Island Press. So while it would have been nice to sell out of books and have people lining up to hear me read, thinking long term I believe that this relationship will be a fruitful one for us both.

That will only be possible though if people support them. I know that most of you don’t live in Winston Salem. It should be noted that Barnill’s does ship books, so if you wanted to buy one of my books you’d be doing them (and their efforts with local and independent authors) a favor if you ordered from them. For that matter you could go into your own local and ask if they can order my books. I’d hope that they can. So, support your local book store if you’re fortunate enough to have one and authors like me will thank you for it!

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Last Friday I decided to try an experiment. I gave away a Smashwords coupon to my mini-“anthology” consisting of two stories; “Piercing the Veil” and “Vicious Cycle”. I’m the kind of person that does things like that a little impulsively and right after I released the coupon I did some thinking.

My first question was, “What am I trying to accomplish?”. I want to get more eyes on my stories at this point. I’m fighting some degree of obscurity (for large values of obscurity), and if giving some stuff away helps overcome that then I’m all for it. However, I know that there are people out there who believe in my and want to support my work financially. So I give them ample opportunity to do that by offering my works for sale at as many venues as possible.

When I tweeted last night that I was going to do another Free Fiction Friday today and wanted to know what people wanted me to give away, I got some push back. The objection seemed to boil down to, “if I buy your work and three days later you’re giving it away, I’ll feel cheated”. There was also the notion that if someone knew I was going to do this every week they’d just wait and get what I had for free.

I understand both sets of feelings. My own thoughts on the matter are this though, if I’m supporting an author financially and they decide to put something on sale or give it away then I should respect that. They, no doubt, have reasons for doing what they’re doing. I pay money for stories because I want that person to continue being able to make stories and because I believe in them. Sometimes I even buy things that I’m not otherwise interested in, simply to enable someone to make something cool. Case in point, JR Blackwell’s LARP game Shelter in Place. I’m unlikely to ever play it. I like zombies, but I’m not a LARPer. I backed her Kickstarter campaign anyway.

If someone wants to wait until I put something out for free, for whatever reason, to download it, that doesn’t hurt my feelings. Their reasons are their own, and I made the conscious decision to give it away so they’re not pirating and my being put out would be silly. The only thing that bothers me is the notion that someone wouldn’t buy one of my stories (that presumably they were going to buy at some point) simply because I want to try using a loss leader to bring in more eyes.

So, if you think this is a dumb idea or that ultimately it’s going to hurt me more than help me, I really am interested in hearing what you have to say in more detail than Twitter will allow. I plan on doing giveaways of my short fiction only on Fridays for the next couple of weeks at least, maybe longer if it turns out to be helpful. But if there’s sound logic that I’m overlooking then I’m game to listen.

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I’ve been gradually ramping up my efforts to find out where my readers are at and trying to make my fiction available in those places. To that end I’ve begun selling books at Goodreads, in addition to Smashwords, Amazon, and my very own bookstore. I’ve also sent out coupon codes to podcasters, writers, and bloggers to share with their audiences and I set up my story “Fetch” to be featured on Daily Kindle Bargains. Finally, I’ve been using Google Plus and have found new friends, writers, and a fan or two.

All of this is very early days yet, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to reach prospective readers. One thing I’ve noticed (reinforced by Nobilis Reed) is that on social media sites like Google Plus, authors tend to network with other authors. That’s good to a point. Iron sharpens iron and all that and most writers are also readers, but I’d like to find readers who are primarily readers.

So I open the floor to the writers who are more successful fiscally than I am, where do you find your readers and how do you connect? Also, in my efforts to reach out and offer ways for people to sample my wares, I want to avoid being a douchenozzle and bombarding folks with spam. So, where do you draw the line on self promotion?

Not to leave readers out of the questions, where/how do you find new authors and how much self promotion is too much? Are coupons/free samples a driver for you to try new things? And how much of a role do reviews on sites like Amazon and Smashwords play in your decisions to buy?

Thanks for any input you have!