Up-boo! Day

Today is the last Friday of October, which means it’s time for another Update Day. In case you’re wondering what it is: Beth Fred and I host a blog hop, where we set crazy or crazy important goals. The idea is for everyone to chase down their goals, and on the last Friday of each month, we share updates on our progress.

You’re welcome to join at any time, so if you’d like to sign up, or to see who else is taking part, please click here.

I have to admit, it’s currently 9:30 p.m, so I’m cutting it close with my own blog hop. In fact, I almost considered cutting it even closer, because I have a deadline looming (more on that in a few), but I needed a break. So I thought: what better way is there to relax than to do a post mortem on the past month?

Huh?

Huh?!

Oh okay fine. I’ll just get to it.

In cased you missed last month’s post, I’ve hit reset on my 5-year goal and I decided to take this being-a-writer thing full-time. 
To make that happen, I’m setting monthly writing goals, along with writing business goals. The former deals with my activities in producing more stories. The latter deals mostly with marketing, and my ability to earn revenues from writing, and writing related activities. Just to clarify, if the money I earn relates in any way to me using my writing skills or knowledge, I’m counting it as revenues for my writing business. 
So, if I were to monetize this blog (which I won’t do) and this blog generated an income, it’d show up in my analyses. But if I win the lottery, or suddenly become a millionaire doing something else… Nope. 
Basically, this whole exercise is to see exactly how hard or how easy it is to start almost from scratch and become a full-time writer. So I started last September with a budget of $10, and started working. 
Every month, then, I set a goal for Writing and a goal for Generated Revenue. 

So how did I do in October? 

Before I show the graphs, I should point out one thing: If I had to give October one theme, I would call it The Agony and the Ecstasy. 

Especially the week I just had. Life and other work (yeah, remember how I said I’m still doing other work too because it gives me so much time? BAHAHAHAHAHA *sob*) just went into full-blown hell mode. 
In fact, when I wrote my friend Connie about it, I couldn’t even put a word to it. A day later, and it’s finally occurred to me: 
Shell-shock
I’m not even kidding. This was a week I will not want to experience ever again. I’ll get around to talking about it, as soon as I’ve really recovered. 
It’s not all bad, though. This same hell-week also turned out to have something really good in it too. (And that doesn’t count the fact that I’ve finally tasted (and fell in love with (even more passionately than I adore parentheses)) macaroons.) In fact, this exact same hell-week was nothing short of miraculous. (Again, more on this when I’ve recovered.) 
In short, the overall results of October were mixed. 

Writing

One of my major writing goals I have at the moment is to finish Book 3 of The War of Six Crowns before the end of this year. 
Basically, doing so means I have to write about 50,000 words every month, including October. 
Did I manage it? 
No. 
In fact, I’ve managed a slight bit under half of what I wanted to do. In my defense, pretty much every one of those plateaus coincided with some crappiness from the rest of my life spilling into my writing time. 
And sadly, most of the words added here were courtesy of my Insecure Writers’ Support Group short story, but I did submit that, so that was one writing goal achieved.
As for my third writing goal (reformatting my books for updates to the content and covers), I’ve so far managed to start on The Vanished Knight. It’s basically done, but I want to do yet another proofread. Not because I think I’ll find anything, but I’ve found that Word does funny things to documents, changing formatting without permission, making words and phrases vanish… That sort of thing. Call me paranoid, but I’d rather be sure everything is where it should be. 
If you’re wondering, if the hell-week is over, why I haven’t started writing… I have a very good reason. More on this on a bit.
Goals for November: 
1) NANOWRIMO! Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’ll be rebelling and trying to add 50k words to Book 3. In case you want to buddy up with me, my username on the NaNoWriMo website is iceangel. 
2) Published books. I have a lot to do here: 
2.1) Take my paperbacks out of Amazon’s expanded distribution, so I can prepare to publish them directly through Ingram Spark. 
2.2) Finish formatting and proofreading all three of my books so I can do the updates I want to do. 
2.3) Plan something around the reveal of the updated covers. 
3) Post Ryan on Patreon. Ryan is a short-story from the same world as Endless. I want to share it with my patrons, and had planned to start this month already, but I just couldn’t get to it. 

Generated Revenue

Every month, I’m setting a monthly revenue target. Then, I’m counting all of the month’s revenue, which means I count revenue the moment it’s generated (which I usually call future income or income generated in the month) and money that were actually generated in previous months. 
So, if I sell a book on Amazon and I get $5 in royalties, it will only really be in my account later. So, in order to show people where my income is coming from, I’ll show the money in the month I first earned it, and then again once it’s in my account. (It’s all just to make the graphs make sense. I actually studied accounting and am aware that this is not how normal people count money. But I’m not normal.) 
Also, I have a few rules I’ve set for myself: 
The first one is: I set the target, and the target doesn’t move until after I’ve reached it once. 
The second one is: The target for current and future generated income is equal to the monthly target minus accrued income. (So if I set a goal of $10 and that $5 royalty is paid into my account, I have $5 left to generate for this month, or for future months.) 
The third one is: If I hit the target, I have to raise the bar. 
And… well… I’m going to have to raise the bar quite a bit. 
See, in September, I set a $100 target for the month, and then came in under. But this month… this month I annihilated it.
That’s right. I generated more than double my target revenue. In fact, I hit the $100 goal on the 14th. Which was part of the reason why I haven’t been able to write today. Because I’m getting this income from Upwork, and I still have a deadline. 
On the positive side, I made enough to get Upwork to pay money into my Payoneer account, which also means I’ll be able to withdraw my money. Which means I can pay for Photoshop etc. 
Goals for November
1) Boost book sales. Don’t get me wrong. I really like when my target graphs look like this, but honestly, I need to see more book sales. Amazon was completely dead this month (except when they paid out a few royalties.) And really, my overall goal is to get my written works to pay my way, so I really need to make that bar graph a bit more colorful. Mainly, though, I know I didn’t enough to get sales this month. I did more in September, to obvious results. 
2) Hit my next revenue target. Deciding on the target is a bit tricky, because most of the money I made on Upwork this month will be accrued income in November. So, if I set a $200 goal, it will basically only be $100 to go after. Instead, I’m lifting the goal to $300. 
That’s it from me. How did your October go? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?
Advertisements

Changing Things…

As you ladies and gents might or might not have picked up, I’ve been struggling to write. With my life as it is, I just found it difficult to almost impossible to sit down and focus on what should be going into my stories.

I have to say that I’m relieved to say that this is changing. Not my life. That’s pretty much stuck in hurry-up-and-wait mode until next month at least. However, changing my perspective into being more proactive about my writing career has made a huge difference to my ability to write.

More than that, it’s changing the way I look at a lot of things. Yes, my priorities still largely focus on getting the next book finished. But at the same time, I’m having to do things right now that will bring in enough money for me to publish in the future.

Which means I’m doing a lot of different things. Trying new things. This includes, you know, being more active on social networks. And setting up a WordPress version of this blog. Right now, I don’t think I’ll leave Blogger entirely to go over to WordPress, but a lot of my WordPress blogging friends kept saying that blogger swallows their comments and I just can’t have that.

It means changing the way I’ve been approaching my writing sessions. Usually, I basically sit down and write until a scene is finished. The problems to this method have been twofold.

First: I haven’t been in the right headspace to sit down for two to three hours on end. So I’ve been waiting for that to right itself because I wanted to sit for two or three hours to churn out a chapter.

Second: My scenes have become longer than anticipated. See, with The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice I had a lot of 2k long scenes that I ended up combining in order to create longer chapters. I think my longest chapter is 7k long, but the average is about 4k. Book 3 is different. Maybe it’s because my point-of-view characters are simply closer together so I don’t have to jump between them as much, but at the moment, the average chapter is about 5k long. So now it’s not a matter of writing for two hours and having a finished scene. Actually having a finished planned section would probably take me an entire working day.

Which I don’t have available. Oh, you thought “being a full-time writer” meant having more time to write? Nope. Not yet, anyway.

So lately, I’ve decided to follow Cherie Reich‘s example and setting a time goal for my writing. Instead of setting a word count goal, she decides how much time she wants to devote to writing and then she sets a timer, which she races to write as much as she can.

I’ve adapted her method a little. She did away with her word-count goals. I can’t. I want to finish Book 3 this year. Which means I have to write between 1 and 2 thousand words every day. I have found, though, that timing myself means that I take about 90 minutes to write 1800 words. (So far, I break my writing into 5 and 10 minute sessions which I add up later.)

In other words, timing myself is speeding me up, which is good, because I don’t have enough hours in a day.

How are you doing? Have you tried timing your writing sessions? 

The Thing with Being a Writing Entrepreneur…

Now that I’ve decided to make a dead serious go of making a living, I’m having to completely rethink the way in which I’m spending my time.

And the thing is that I’m currently spending more time sorting out my social networking stuff than anything else. And there’s so many things that depend on other things that depend on still other things, that I’m finding it really difficult to decide where to begin on a given day.

So, to help myself, I decided to create a nifty, colorful mind-map to simplify things visually.

This is the result…

*Headdesk* 
How are things going on your end?

And you thought being a full-time writer was glamorous.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to jump into this being-a-full-time writer thing. 

Without a parachute. 
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN! 
Yeah. It’s all very dramatic. Truth be told, though, it’s not really all that glamorous. I’ve explained my thinking in my IWSG post, but the TL;DR version goes something like this…
Lots going on with my “day-job” businesses, but no money has come in. 
Writing, while bringing in a tiny income, is in fact bringing me an income. 
Ergo, it makes sense for me to put in more time to create content and writing which can bring me more income. 

Am I being stupid about this? 

Gosh, no! At least I hope not. Basically my “day-job” business has reached a hurry-up-and-wait phase. As in, I’ve contacted people. They want to work with me. They ordered samples. They’ve received samples, and now they’re waiting for some meeting or the other to try said samples and decide whether or not they buy. 
In the meantime, I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs looking for other ways to make money.
Since writing is my passion, I want to put more time into making it work as a viable business, just like I’m doing with my other businesses. 
The problem with this is… 

You might have guessed it. Money. Right now, money is my biggest issue. See, if I’m going to make it as a writer, I need to keep producing books. Which will bring me in some money. 
Okay. But I need to get the word out, which means marketing. Marketing like… sharing stuff on all my social networks all the time. (Which I’m doing now, but man it takes a chunk out of my time.) Marketing like creating more content that has value to my readers (like more books). And so on. 
Problem is that I have to pay for most of this in some way, whether it’s with money or time. Because more often than not, money payments aren’t an option, it’s time. Which means that right now, everything I do is a trade-off of some kind. 
I can spend more time on social networs, but that means I don’t write as much. 
Or I can buy a way to schedule things to all my social networks, but that costs money, of which I have a very limited budget and no clue as to the Return on Investment. 
Yes. Me taking this thing into full-time territory has me thinking about return on investment a lot. 
And thinking about that, brings me to the timing of those returns. In other words… No matter what I do, there tends to be at least a month delay between my spending my money and me getting it back, if I even get it back. 

To illustrate. 
Let’s say I want to publish a new book. 
If I pay outsource: 
Cheapest Nice-ish Cover for ebooks and paperback: $150 if I’m really lucky.
Formatting: Between $100 and $500
This means a minimum of $250 for one book. 
If I do it all myself, I can bring the cost down to $80 by paying for sofware I use to make my own covers etc., but the downfall is that this is $80 per month. Which means two things: 
1) To keep the cost at $80, I need to create a book every month. Which is something I had been working towards, but that got steamrolled by my life. So let’s say we’re actually closer to $200 per book, unless I use the same software for other income streams. (Which would be the plan.) 
2) In order to keep the software, and assuming that books are the only way with which to pay this money, it means I have to sell at least 40 books every single month just to break even. 
And even if I was there (and I’m not), that money will only come in at least one month (but as much as three months) after the end of the month in which I incurred the expense. 
To say the least, it’s a freaking headache. 
If I was to publish through a publishing house, it does save me the expense, but at the cost of not making any income off the time-commitment to write until at least nine months after I sold the book. Never mind the time it takes just to find a publisher who wants to sign the book. 
So now I have to find other ways to generate money with which to pay for these products, such as Patreon, Fiverr and monetizing YouTube videos. Which is great, but I still a) need the those same $80 products to help generate content, b) need to spend time in order to market my activities on those sites c) need to wait at least a month before I receive the money back. 
And to make the money back as quickly as possible, I have to use Payoneer in order to have a US Bank account, and if I do that, I have to wait until I have $200 to pay out just to get the money loose. 
So, in short… I’m feeling very much stuck. 
Advice? Thoughts?