I know how to write, or I know how to learn how to write better (Practice). I know how to make money, or I know the first thing about how to make money as a writer (Write More). My question for myself is, then, what's the second thing I need to know about making money at writing? Is there a second thing? Surely there must be. Alternatively, my question would be: Does it make sense for me to spend the time doing whatever the second thing is now, instead of focusing on the first?
Let's go through the candidates for second thing.
|Like this guy? image|
I’m still not satisfied with my cover art, even though I think it gets the job done. Would fancier cover art increase the amount of sales I make? I’m not sure, but it can’t hurt. But does it make sense for me to spend the time improving my cover art now instead of Writing More? I don’t think so, which means Cover Art can’t be the second thing.
Here’s my cover art plan: I’ll write 100 stories, then find some artists whose work I like in the various genres, pass them my cover art spreadsheets with Title, Type, and Concept columns and let them go nuts. Easy, not too expensive. That would also be the point that I’d reorganize the loose short stories into themed series, volumes, and collections anyways, so I might as well have new cover art. At that point I’d also get a couple of sexy imprints done. “H2NH SF” would be a little spaceship.
|This seems suspiciously simple...|
The only active advertising I do is on this site, like so: Alan series I!, and via Twitter where I announce new fiction uploads once for Smashwords, Amazon and B&N, then leave it to do its own thing. From time to time somebody with a review site or podcast will express interest (most recently here!) and I’ll cheerfully send them a review copy, but I’m not going to hunt them down. So that’s not the second thing.
My advertising plan, then, is to first have a lot more stuff to sell and then worry about advertising. The tendrils of the baby octopus that is the David Barron media empire are slowly creeping their way around the Internet, so I’ll just let it develop organically. People know how to search for books, I just have to throw books into search pools and watch them learn how to swim on their own.
I do precisely one promotion: Free Fiction 1st. That is, a story on this blog on the first of every month. I got great response from the first one, so I’ll just keep doing it. But I’ll be doing nothing else on the promotion front for now, so another swing and a miss for second thing.
Sharia & The Gays"
In the midst of writing "An Aesop Amidst The Fairy Dust", I kept hearing strange people talking about Creeping Sharia law and Gay Marriage and I knew there was a story there, but I also knew that there was no way it was going to be political. So, I put that title up on a blank document, finished up Aesop, then in the post-finish glow I sat in front of the blank screen. Abruptly the first exchange of dialogue hit me and in an hour I rolled through the first three-quarters: lightning speed, typing as fast as I can, which is quite fast. Then I got up to get a drink of water and the ending hit me before I sat back down. It's a shorter story, about 1800 words, but it finished in an hour and a half, so I'm fine with that. The only editing I did was to go through and standardize the spelling of all the names, keeping the form with the most y's. After I made the cover art, it went up for sale, and now you can read it here for Free Fiction 1st.
|Wait, what? image|
My operating theory of ePub is that every short story I write is essentially a “loss leader” to funnel folk toward my collections. Not much of a loss leader, sure, in that thirty-five cents is thirty-five cents, but I would really rather people buy a collection outright then a bunch of singles. It’s just that having a lot of singles is great way to fill up that search pool. Nobody’s going to dive into an empty pool, is my point.
That’s nice but...second thing?
|Things are just getting weird now.|
I intend to be making a living with my brain, so mental hygiene is the second most important thing about making money as a fiction writer. I’ve got to organize my life such that every time I sit in front of the computer or walk along the side of the road talking into a voice recorder, I’m On. The second most important thing is to support the first thing, Writing More.
My mental hygiene plan is simple: Not much caffeine (head races), not much alcohol (hours blur), avoid sugar entirely (sugar crash), exercise (so I’m not sick), eat light to eat right (so I’m not carb’d into a stupor), keep the girlfriend happy (fun for everybody), talk not type to people (good motivation), don’t spend a lot of money (keep myself busy, not bored), and Write More (it’s recursive!)
Simple, but difficult. Still, healthy feels great, so that’s motivation all in itself, aside from the sweet sweet cash.