Category Archives: writing life

Writer’s rant

Read the fine print.

I know as a writer that sometimes things can get a bit desperate. I know that sometimes it seems like I’ll never see my name in print. Fortunately, I love what I do. But I see many online sites that feed on the desperate. I’m not talking about the obvious shysters that are easily recognizable, I’m talking about those who look professional and even credible.

I just got done reading a submission guideline for a publication that offered a payment of $5-$20 for stories from 3,000 up to 20,000 words. That’s not great in itself, but they demanded that those unlucky authors sign away exclusive worldwide rights for two years!

$20 for two years! That’s not just insulting, it’s borderline criminal.

I don’t know how long other authors take to write their stories, but I don’t have a lot of time to work on them. With the available time I have it could take me a week to a month to create a 20,000 word story. And then I go into edit mode, followed by more edit mode, followed by sudden death edit mode, followed by ‘I suck as an author’ edit mode. Until I’m done, I’ve put dozens if not hundreds of man-hours into making my story the best it can be. Locking my work up for two years for the paltry sum of $20 just ain’t happening.

I realize this makes me look like a selfish SOB, but I have a terrible problem. I like to eat and so does my family. I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to get my name out there by submitting to markets that can’t or don’t pay, but that’s not the same as saying ‘I’m going to pay you a paltry sum just to make it legal to do whatever I want to with your story. ‘

If I placed an ad in the paper for someone to come dig ditches for me but told them I could only pay them $20 for two years of work and while working for me they couldn’t work for anyone else, I don’t imagine I’d get too many applicants.

Bottom line, always read the submission guidelines … always.


Is Twitter a dead end?

I was recently given a bit of advice by a successful author. She told me to follow the 80/20 ratio of posting on Twitter. Eighty percent of the time I should be focusing on others (liking, retweeting, commenting) and twenty percent on myself (posting about my book).

I tried this and it was immensely successful. I gained followers at a regular rate (around 100 per month) made connections, built trust with several of my followers, and generally enjoyed the increased visibility that I perceived I was receiving. However, after a month, I started to notice a disturbing trend. I was getting plenty of impressions, but very little actual interaction.

I logged this away as an anomaly and continued on my happy Twitter way. Shortly thereafter, I became more active on WordPress. Being an author who is trying to build his ‘Platform’, I posted each of my blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr, and Google+. My hope was that they would have a cumulative effect and increase my visibility. However, during all that time, I hung my hopes on Twitter. Having built a following of over 1,500, I felt that Twitter was the best chance of increased traffic to my blog and my site.

Then I read an article saying that Twitter was changing its algorithm, and traffic was going to become much harder to come by if you didn’t pay for Twitter ads. This was not something I had in my budget. Having to work a fifty hour a week job just to put food on the table makes Twitter ads a low priority.

I tried to go on with my Twitter life, but the seed of doubt had been planted. It was further watered when I read another blog post saying that twitter was less than useful, it actually took time away that could be used for other things.

I was now in full on doubt mode. I did a little research for myself and was shocked at what I found.

I started posting to WordPress in early June. During that time, I had 62 views, 48 visitors, and 34 likes. Each of my 14 blog posts, I had also posted to twitter, with a link to my WordPress blog.

During that same time, I had 16,000 impressions (views) total on Twitter. Of those 16,000, 1,729 were impressions that came from tweets of my blog posts. Here are the numbers.

Out of 1729 impressions, I received 5 retweets, 5 detail expands, 4 likes,

And a grand total of (drumroll please)

1 Link click

So, out of one thousand, seven hundred, and twenty-nine times tweets about my blog were seen, only one time was anyone interested enough to click over to WordPress and actually read the blog.

An entire month of posting for one click.

Was it worth it? For the numbers alone, no. However, I did make a few contacts, and even had a few people follow me who had over a hundred thousand followers. Several prominent authors followed me and a couple liked and retweeted my tweets.

Was that awesome? Yes. Will it help me out in some way? I don’t know. I would like to believe that making connections is always a good idea, especially with those who have already been successful.

Bottom line, is Twitter worth the time and effort I’ve been putting into it? I’d say a resounding no. Will I continue to have a presence and interact with my followers? Yes, but not nearly as much as over the last few months.



Death by blog

My mind is trying to kill me.

Have you ever had one of those nights/mornings? You wake up around 2 AM or so, go to the bathroom, come back to bed and look at the time. Realizing that you have another 2 hours to sleep, you settle in. That’s when your mind kicks in and sends you great ideas.

Now, I’ve been a writer for years. I know that when your mind sends you creative messages, you’d best listen. I started mentally taking notes on what my mind was sending me and logging it for the upcoming morning writing session.

My mind wasn’t satisfied with that. It flooded me with ideas for my next several blog posts. I fought it off for a while, hoping to get a little more sleep.

An hour later, I gave up and got up. With all the stealth I could muster (for a large, overweight, man of forty something) I carefully got out of bed, snuck over to my desk, avoiding the dark minefield of dressers, bedframes, and all other dangers that jump out and attack helpless toes in a dark room. I unplugged my laptop, making sure that all wires were removed from the various ports, and began my journey toward my writing room (which is any room where I won’t wake someone up. It usually ends up being the bathroom.) with the Mission Impossible theme music playing quietly in my head.

I reached my destination, settled in and began to regurgitate onto the screen what my mind had been nagging me about. (How’s that for some writing imagery?) An hour later I had one post done, another underway, and several other notes typed out, when the alarm on my phone rang. (I learned this lesson the hard way. Take your alarm with you when you do these early morning writing sessions.)

So now here I sit, not completely exhausted, but not well rested either, knowing I have a fourteen hour work day ahead of me. I feel great for having been inspired to write, and to be able to get said inspiration down in my computer, but I have to wonder.

Could my mind really be trying to kill me? Could this be suicide by blog?

No, my mind answered, don’t be ridiculous. Now get to work on your next post.