Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Hey everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. For those of you who don’t know, the IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Once a month, we share our insecurities, then visit each other and encourage each other. You’re more than welcome to sign up. For more information and the entry list, please click here.

This month’s question actually ties in quite nicely with my insecurities… 

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I’d actually like to be writing (and doing writing-related activities) full-time by the end of next year. (Actually, I’m basically working as if I’m full-time already, but it’d be nice to actually make a living from it.)

Five years from now, I’d like to be making a very comfortable living from my writing.

As for my plan to get there:

I’m using my writing skills to freelance as an editor/beta reader/article writer on Upwork and Fiverr. I’m also working on building a Patreon following, and obviously I’m selling books. Right now, I’m putting all of the money I’m generating back into making more money (E.G. through marketing, or through paying for products that aid me in writing, editing etc.)

Eventually, I’ll hopefully be in a place where my writing earns enough for me to make a living. And actually, it’s not all that impossible. The lucky thing is that I live in South Africa, which means I’m earning in Dollars and living in Rands. So, if I managed to make $500 a month after expenses, I’d actually have the same income as a good starting office job salary. (And 2.5 times my country’s minimum wage.)

My insecurity right now, though, is my life at the moment. I’m not going to go into exactly what’s going on right now, but every time it feels like we’ve finally clawed our way out of the shit we’d been dragged into, something comes by to shove us back in.

So at the moment, I’m trying not to feel like I’m never going to get anywhere again, but the thing is, the thought is there. It exists. And the only way for me to make it go away is by pushing through and working anyway to build up the life I want.

It’d just be nice if I didn’t need to worry as much.

How are you doing? Do you set five year goals? 

Finally! A chance to update.

I’m finally back, with enough breathing room to let you know how I did with my crazy goals bloghop. This… isn’t really a good thing, but because I’m tired of complaining, I’m just going to ignore the reason why I haven’t been able to spend time in front of my computer and leave it at that.

There’s no point to talking about the situation yet, because I’m just going to depress myself when things could actually be okay.

So.

I ended up resetting my goal in September to allow for any income related to my writing skills to go toward my $7500 a month goal goal. (Which means, editing, ad money from a writing blog, money for hosting writing classes, royalties etc. all count.) 
On this new system, I’m taking a look at income generated and word-count, because I do really want my actual book writing to add the majority to my income. 

Generated Income

Last month, I’d set a goal for $300 generated which is the sum of incomes generated previously and future income. Yes, this means I count the incomes twice, but it works because I want to see how my income generation grows while also seeing how much I’m actually getting in every month.
This month, though, some royalty money I’d loaned to my family got paid back, and it was enough to actually boost my income so much that I lifted the goal to $500 about half-way through. (And then still managed to get over that.) 

But because most of this money is a real windfall (writing related as it is), I decided to keep the goal at $500 this month, because it’s a nice, lofty goal to reach for, which should keep me busy for time being. 
What am I spending all this money on? Mmm… first, the programs I need to update my books. Second, I bought a new web domain (with a custom e-mail address.) Other than that, I’m buying a map for The War of Six Crowns and everything else will go into a kitty to either carry me if I happen to go into a lean month (which feels like it might happen this month) and marketing. 
I’m delaying most of my marketing plans until my books are updated. (Just makes sense to me.) So really, finishing those updates are vital. 

Writing

When it comes to writing, I didn’t achieve most of what I’d wanted to do, but I did win NaNoWriMo. In fact, I ended up writing 60,000 words.
I still feel like I’ve got 100,000 words to go. (Yes, I’m aware this book is huge.) So, I have a bit of a monster task in front of me. Especially now that I have a fraction of my time available. 
So… I don’t think I’ll be able to finish the book this year. (Which makes me really, really upset. Deep breaths.) 
I also need to finish updating my books this month so I can start pushing with marketing. I’m hoping to start with this over the weekend. I’m just glad to have all the tools at my disposal again. I just need time. (Deep deep breaths.) 
So how are you doing? 

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?

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: Like a circle within a circle…

Goodness! I’ve been so busy lately, I almost lost track of time! Today is actually the first Wednesday of October, which means it’s time for my Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. For those of you who are familiar with IWSG, it’s a monthly bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where we share our writing insecurities and encouragements with each other.

For more information or to sign up (you’re more than welcome!), please click here.

Also, if you’d rather read this post on WordPress, please click here.

My Insecurity

My biggest insecurity this month is one I’ve been able to push aside for the most part, but once I’ve started looking at it, it’s actually a big one. 
See, recently I decided to take this writing gig full-time. (Long story, but don’t worry. I didn’t quit the day-job either.) The biggest difference that this decision has made is that I’m actually devoting most of my day to either writing or marketing in an attempt to bring in money. 
The thing is that I started doing this with $100 in the bank, which is currently stuck there because Payoneer has a $200 pay-out limit. 
So. Paid marketing platforms are out for me at the moment. As is basically anything I want to do to my books until my money is out (because I need to pay for my Adobe programs.)
And while my advertising for beta-reading, mentoring etc on Fiverr by far gets the most clicks, I think people might be scared of booking me when I have no reviews. (Annoying, because I’ve done six years’ worth of critiques for my blogging buddies already, so I have the experience.) 
Which means that right now, I’m pretty much stuck. I want to refresh two of my three books to get more readers for those… But… I either have to pay a formatter (which I can’t.) or use at least Adobe Acrobat. (Which I can’t.) 
I have $4 stuck in Fiver at the moment (because they have a $50 pay-out limit) and I can get $1 more to try out a $5 marketing spree (I can use the $4 as credit). But there’s little point to doing that until my books are updated. I need every dollar to go to maximum effect. So I can’t just spend $5 on something I don’t think will make a difference until I have everything in place that I need in place. 
So it’s a vicious circle. Because without effective marketing, I’m not going to sell more books, which means I won’t be getting $100 anytime soon. 
And EVEN if I make $100 in book sales, it’ll take at least two months before I get the royalties. 
*Headdesk*
Right now, the quickest way for me to get that $100 would be to make it on Fiverr, or if people pledged support on Patreon. (Because that would take until the end of the month.) Both will take time building up, though.
So yeah. It’s a vicious circle. 

Now for the IWSG Question…

When do you know the story is ready? 

Depends on what the story is supposed to be ready for. 
I know a story is ready to be written when I know the climax and ending. 
I know it’s ready for editing when I no longer feel as if every word in the draft is precious and needs to be protected at every cost. 
I know it’s ready for publishing when I spend an hour moving a single comma around. (Or some such.) 
What about you? When do you know a story is ready? Thoughts on a way for me to break my vicious circle?

Update Day: Hitting the Reset Button

Hey everyone! Today is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time for another Update Day!

I thought I’d do things a bit differently, which means…

Tada!

Vlog post.

To sum up for those of you who haven’t the time to watch the vid:

This month, I decided to stop moping around and approach my writing career as if it’s already my full-time job. My thinking is that I’m a business person anyway, so I might as well turn this writing thing into a business.

Making this work meant I had to rethink the way I’m going about this.

So…

TL:DR:


I’m hitting reset on my goal. 

My five-year goal is still $7500 a month, but now it can be from any writing related activity, whether it’s me actually writing, or me using my writing expertise in some way.

I’m starting over. 

This is actually year three, but the change is so major and the mind-shift so big that I decided to start again. So September 2016 is month one of Year One. I basically did this, because I want to track my growth. And since my income basically flatlined for the past three months, I thought it would be a good thing to start since this major change got brought in.

I’ve been keeping track since 6th (which was when I decided to kick things up a notch), so that’s enough for me to actually get some stats in.

Speaking of stats…

I’m also going to change the way I report on my progress. 

I might get back to the to-do list eventually, but I can’t help feeling that people really don’t care about those all that much.

A lot of people have been asking me how I’m actually doing with my five year goal, so I will be reporting on my money coming in and going out, since this full-time-writer-with-almost-no-money-to-start-with thing is probably something that might interest a lot of people.

Which means that I’ll be posting monthly stats for the year. Two, in fact, but I’ll explain more in a minute.

So how did I do? 

Basically, this full-time thing has two components: Me selling stories and services I already have, and me creating more stories. For ease of reference, I will call these Marketing and Writing. 

Marketing


Since my marketing results can only be measured in terms of income, I’m keeping track of that instead of the hours I’m putting in. 
My income basically gets divided into three groups: Income from previous months (since there’s up to a 3 month delay on royalties etc), income earned within the month and income generated for the future (so I’m keeping track of books I sold today so I know how much I’ll get in three months.) 
I set my goal for Total Income Generated. Which means that if I say $100 is my goal, I’ll see that goal as achieved even if $100 came in only from previous months sales etc. 
Since I’m also concerned about my income’s growth, I’ll be keeping track of how much income I generate within a month and for future months, separately. So there will be a separate graph, where the goal line is calculated by subtracting my Income Generated Goal from the amount that came in from previous months. 
Okay? 
Okay. 
So first, let me look at income generated in past months vs income generated within this month and for future months.

Basically, the income accrued in previous months is money from Patreon (which is currently around $10). 
As you can see, most of my money generated this month was for current or future earnings. Let’s see how those look. 

So since starting this whole exercise, I’ve critiqued one short-story on Fiverr, and actually sold some books on Amazon (which is definitely an uptick, because my book sales have basically been dead lately.) The Patreon income is basically the $10 from patrons who’d signed up before and $1 from a new sign-up. It will show up again next month as income accrued from previous months, since every month’s subscriptions only actually hit my account in the following month.
Goal for October: 

It’s such a nice, round number, so for now, I’m keeping to $100 as my goal. Fingers crossed that I actually hit the line next time. 

Writing

This month I basically set writing goals as I went along, which is why my goal line keeps jumping up as I hit my targets. 
I basically only started writing on 11 September, and then only sporadically. Then, on 24 September, I started timing my writing and trying to write every day. The effect on my daily word counts are quite staggering….

Let me put that into words real quick. I wrote over 16k words this month. 10k of those were written last week.
Goals for October: 

I have three big ones: 
1) I want to finish this draft of Book 3 of The War of Six Crowns before the end of the year, which means I’ll basically be chasing NaNo targets every month for three months. Thanks to timing myself, I know I can type 2k words in 80 minutes. 
2) I want to write the story I have in mind for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group competition. 
3) I want to re-format and update my currently published books, specifically The War of Six Crowns to prepare for the new covers I made for them. 
There are, of course, more goals (we’re talking about me, here), but these are my priorities. 
How did your goals go? What do you think of this new format for my Update Day posts? Are you interested in the outcome of this experiment of mine? 

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?

Some More Perspective on the Full-Time Writing Thing

So lately, I decided to approach my writing like a business. And I’m calling myself a full-time writer, which has a few of you guys confused and worried.

Worried… might be somewhat accurate, although you guys are worrying for the wrong reasons. My other business(es) that I started to recover from the last SNAFU have entered the dreaded hurry-up-and-wait stage. Which is… Yeah. That bit worries me, and you’re welcome to worry/pray with me. (Although I find that, upon praying, I worry a little less.)

The thing is that, while this hurry-up-and-wait phase is ongoing, I have hours and hours worth of time that I can use more constructively. And I decided to use those hours to be a full-time writer, because I’m basically working 40 day weeks at this writing thing (even, by the way, while I’m doing the day-job too.)

So really, this foray into full-time-writerness isn’t new. At least, the time I can spend on it isn’t. The major difference is that I’ve decided to set myself up better. Instead of saying I’ll wait for quiet time and then waiting for an hour or two in case day-job work comes in, I’m asking if there’s anything I have to do that can be done right now.

If there isn’t, I’m immediately going into full-time-writer mode until such a time that something does come up at the office. (This happened on Wednesday, which I was super grateful for. But now offers have been made and we’re waiting for clients to come back to us.)

In other words: No. I’m not refusing to do anything else that could bring me a more stable income just so I can write. 

It’s just the case that, since I have to wait for my income anyway, I might as well spend it furthering my writing career instead of sitting around and doing nothing, waiting for the hours to pass.

Admittedly (as mentioned on Monday), pushing my writing career on a shoe-string budget is a pain in the ass.

That said, I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing. 

Yes, I’m stressing about money. Yes, I have to literally turn every cent I get over twice in order to make this thing work. Yes, I’m currently having to do 90% of EVERYTHING myself and there are never enough hours in a day.

But.

Turning cents over twice is good business practice. Even when I do have money to splash around on my writing venture.

It’s making me so sad to think how much money I wasted being inefficient with my time and money just because I assumed there would be another salary next month.

So yeah. EVEN if — ahem — WHEN my clients come back and my other job brings in some money, I’m only going to put back the royalties I’ve earned and used to other purposes. And IF I need more money for something, I will do so on a strict loan basis and keeping track of everything.

Because I want this thing to work. And it’s not going to work if I’m lackadaisical about my writing business.

Business is a serious thing.

And I think, in retrospect, that saying “oh I’ll make a career of writing someday when I have money” is bad business. (Sorry not sorry.)

So I’m putting my foot down right now.

I’m saying: Writing is my career now, regardless of my other jobs/obligations/present circumstances

I will approach it with the same seriousness with which I approach all of my other business activities.

Writing will support my writing.

And I will support my writing by writing even more.

Which is to say:

I am building an empire, even if I have to do it with my bare hands.