Thursday, October 27, 2011

Short Stories Challenge Practical

This was going to be a quick addendum to my Business: Short Stories article, but it snowballed. Think of that article as the ‘Theory’ and this one as the ‘Practical’. Apply it to your life, if you dare. 
Will this happen? Probably.
To summarize the previous article, I laid out why I wasn’t going to sell individual short stories anymore, based on the Amazon 35% Royalty on $0.99 vs. the 70% Royalty on $2.99. That point still stands so far as I’m concerned, but I left out a few nuances, craft and business.

Craft: I Like Finishing Things
Short stories get the creative juices flowing. Using scientific tracking methods, I’ve found that my word count per day on books increases if I’ve written and completed a short story in the near past. And I’ve also got a new short story to sell for everybody to admire, which is nothing to be sneezed at. I suspect I just like finishing things, and so when I do it gets the adrenaline up, but there’s also the Middle of books to be considered. That’s the most dangerous part, creatively (that is, where I tend to get bored and try to start a new book unless I chain myself to the text document)...and taking a little break to write and finish a short story reenergizes the mind. 

Business: Smashwords
My standard complaint about Smashwords is it makes my books look ugly, but it’s still a good place to sell short stories. There’s not that much formatting in a short story to mess up or for Meatgrinder to mangle, and Smashwords sends them all over the place and pays somewhere around 50% royalty. I’ve had especially good success selling short stories on Kobo via Smashwords, so I think it’s a good idea to use it as my ‘short story distributer’. This meshes well with the Theory article, because Smashwords makes it incredibly easy to make a story Free, whether via price control or via coupon. As we speak, Smashwords’ sales tracking is improving, and I suspect at some point soon they’ll work out the deal with Amazon. If I can just upload a short story DOC made from a template and watch the cash flow in from five to ten markets every quarter...well, I’d say Smashwords has earned its 10%. 

Short Stories Challenge
For business and craft reasons it’s desirable that I write and finish a short story on a regular basis. Well and good. Dean Wesley Smith declared a fancy challenge with a One Year time limit and everything, but it’s already October, and I’m too lazy to wait until January to officially challenge myself. I’ll just ask how often is the optimal regular basis? Science Says: every weekend. 

So, every weekend I’ll write a short story. Start on Saturday, finish by Sunday. Stick it up on Smashwords for free until the next story goes live, after which it’ll be a buck everywhere fine eBooks are sold (once it’s gone through the Meatgrinder). I’ll even do a little blog post about it, whynot? I’ll do this for five years, give or take. Probably. 

I’ll write books on weekdays.

Story Covers
I’d rather make my own cover than buy some ‘generic art’, but because this is a short story challenge, not a crappy-slappy cover art challenge, I made a template for my short story cover art. Remember, I’m lazy.
So lazy...
That should do it. Big author name, big title, an inconspicuous number, a logo, and clearly labelled “Short Story” so nobody can possibly be confused. As noted in the previous article, I’ll spend the big bucks on the collection covers, but whatsay for a popular short story? If it comes down to it, I’ve one idea that may or may not be reasonable.

Sketch Covers
I provide a two-sentence cover description, give an artist $50 to sketch it, add the title and author name and save it as a 600x800 jpg. I’d expect the total working time to be about an hour, so I wouldn’t expect it to be fine art or done to a deadline. Just a quick art project between big jobs, wham-bam-done: fifty bucks later, I’ve got a short story cover. Fair? Sounds fair.

Heck if I know, I’m making this up as I go.
feel free to comment

Monday, October 24, 2011

Writing: Stability

You can't spell 'stability' without 'ability'. You can't spell 'stability' without 'stab'. I have now linked political science and linguistics. Nobel Prize, please.
Thank you for your contribution, Mr. Barron. Here is a pile of rocks.
In this article, I intend to make a lot of sweeping statements based solely on personal experience. Since I've been doing that for almost three hundred posts, regular readers won't notice any difference and new readers will be amazed at my sexy confidence. And possibly aroused. 

Eh, that'll happen.

In my professional quest to write great fiction as fast as possible using SCIENCE!, I've come to a few conclusions: avoid booze, set a timer, read a lot, have goals, don't write horny, drink plenty of water, exercise indoors, write stories not words, books are long stories... 

Just Write. 

Put that all together, and you should get at least two thousand words a day. "Duh," someone asks, while picking their nose: "How can I, a known moron, put that all together?" Well, my aggressively dim questioner, the key is stability. "How stability?" you ask, to which I reply: "Shut up and let me answer."

My considerable research into the lives of men and Creatives has yielded four 'types':

Unstable Unhappy
Creative: Not Very Prolific
Everybody is born this way, but most people grow out of it. Often leads to brilliant one novel careers (or a small collection of disturbing short stories), followed by despair and/or death. If you find yourself here, get angry and get help. I've never been here longer than a couple weeks because I'm too impatient with misery and have friends who notice shit. Good work, friends! 

Stable Unhappy
Creative: Very Prolific
This is the most common state for the working professional. He's bundled all his neuroses into a ball of creative energy. Possibly self-medicating with booze, etc. Not very healthy, but, then again, neither is working in an it balances out and pays the bills. Since he doesn't have a girlfriend or money in the bank, he has plenty of time to engage in a free, fun activity: Writing. Can spiral down to Unstable Unhappy if there's a lack of friends due to isolation. Keep those friends!

Unstable Happy
Creative: Less Prolific
This is often what happens when the Creative suddenly gets a lot of money or a girlfriend. Or, I suppose, both. It throws off his routine, and thus his writing output. He still has a billion ideas, though. Which, annoyingly, doesn't help. It just makes him feel like he's falling behind in the great game of life. ...but at the same time, he's not. He's actually rather happy. See? Unstable. This is where I am.

Stable Happy
Creative: More Prolific
The elusive ideal. Once the Creative gets used to being happy, he starts exercising and eating right, gets off the self-medication, and grabs the tiger of life by the tail and hangs on. And once you've got a tiger, you need not fear the darkness.

My conclusion, then, is that, for busy Creatives (such as myself), stability is more to be preferred than happiness. Although if you can get them both, good on you.

So how to get them both? Well, you're in luck, because I have created the David Barron Stability Scheme(tm) just for me! And you can use it too! What time is it?

It's Money Love Time!(tm)
Please consult this handy 3-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system (Fig.1)! 
Fig. 1: Money Love Time
x is Time, y is Money, and z is Love, and I've programmed in the types for your convenience. Find your type on it, and then see what you need to get in order to improve. Got no money? Get a damn job! Got no love? Get a girl! Haven't had either long enough to get used to it? WAIT!

...and write.
feel free to comment
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