Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Few Short Updates

I'm getting back into the swing of things, full force this time. And here's just a few updates about what I'm embarking on this summer.

Upgrading The Career

I've been freelancing for almost a decade, and for most of that time I've had a sense of pride for how little I have had to invest to live the dream (which is probably 60/40 dream/nightmare at any given time). But things are changing. I'm still committed to making money solely from writing/editing/being generally creative, which means I have to start upgrading the business. I've been making tons of lists on what I have to do to get all of this going, but really it starts with two simple things: a P.O. box and a website.

Without a business address, I've been stunted at what I can do. I can't have a mailing list through MailChimp or any other company without one, and I certainly don't want to put out email blasts with the home address. Without a website, I don't feel I can do all I need to do with communicating my writing services, my work, and everything else. That, and as good as Blogger has been to me, it just doesn't look professional to have a Blogger web address on a business card (which is another one of those pesky tasks on my list). I'm amazed I've been able to work this long without these two very important items, but that time is coming to an end.

Submissions Calling

When it comes to submissions, I'm getting back up on the proverbial (and temperamental) horse. Although I missed the deadline to send in my poetry chapbook to one particular press, the manuscript itself is not dead. I've been researching places that take chapbooks and have found quite a few that may be a good home for what I've created. I found this list of chapbook submissions particularly helpful, and maybe you will too if you have something to submit.

Unfolding Life on Playster

Draft2Digital just added a new distribution channel, Playster, and I've placed Unfolding Life on it. Honestly, I hadn't heard of it before this, but it seems similar to Kindle Unlimited where you buy a subscription rather than individual titles. So, if you're already a subscriber, please check it out. And by check it out, I mean read the whole thing, because with subscription services, I don't get paid unless the book gets read.

Those Lashes, Though

I've also been keeping up with my product testing and reviews over at Showered in Beauty. The latest review is for Revlon mega Multiplier Mascara.

That's it for my updates. What are you working on this week? 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lessons on What Could Have Been

Sometimes you think when an opportunity presents itself, it's the universe telling you that you need to make a move, take a chance. I had that sort of moment two weeks ago when I found an ad for a press looking for chapbook manuscripts. Since I had just come off of a month of putting together a poetry manuscript, I thought I would make the most of it—pick out the best of the original to create a chapbook. And it seemed like a good, cohesive collection. I felt proud to have made it.

But I flaked. Over the past week I kept going, “oh, I'll submit it later tonight.” I convinced myself I had one more day, one more day, wait, just one more day—then I ran out of days. On the last day before the deadline, I decided to reread the submission call. It wanted stuff that was experimental, surreal. And I quickly decided that my poetry didn't fit within those parameters, and convinced myself it wouldn't be the right fit.

I should have submitted anyway. 

It wasn't the fear of rejection. I think I need a recent rejection under my belt to get me back in the swing of things. It was the fear that I may actually succeed. I thought about all that may entail, and I was worried about a lot of things. I have anxiety about sharing my work, which has really only developed over the past six months. I will let absolute strangers pour over my every written word, but there are maybe ten people on this earth that I don't want near my work—I don't want them to even know what I write. And it's the fear that this tiny group of people could get their hands on my work, could confront me about it, could potentially ridicule me that's done more that keep me from submitting my work. It's inhibited my ability to promote the stuff that's already out there for fear they may come across it. It's prevented me from completing as many posts on this blog as I would like. In my mind, the threat is circling and I feel like if I make the slightest move, everything could crumble. It's stupid, but it's hard to argue with anxiety because it's irrational. And you know it's irrational. But you buy into it just the same.

I used to freely be able to talk to people face-to-face about writing, even going as far as talking about projects I have in mind. I used to be able to immerse myself in new submissions. I've been putting together a list of publications for my own use, cobbled together from some of my monthly writer newsletters, and I'm starting to see some publications I've already submitted to. Then my mind wanders back to five, six years ago. That's when I wasn't afraid to submit my work to place far and wide. I wasn't afraid of the rejection. I also had the mindset that everything I sent out had a real potential of making it.

Obstacles to publishing don't phase me. It's just the irrational fear that's left. Even if no one wanted it, I could get work out there and take no pay. But I'm still convinced that the best of my work hasn't touched the light of day and still has earning potential. I can't give it all away just to prove something to my own anxiety. My anxiety doesn't really care. If I get over this obstacle my anxiety will just find something else to latch on to—it always does.

Each morning I get to start over. I get to face whatever hangups I seem to have, and I get to try and work towards a better situation where I don't have to feel as anxious about every little decision I make (or fail to make). If this post is published, it must mean that I've been able to conquer the first of many battles to get back to the full-fledged writing career I'm meant to have.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amazon Charts--What's It Doing for You?

Amazon has a new feature that they rolled out recently--Amazon Charts. The charts published weekly include the most read books on the site and the most sold. The question here is who benefits from this information, and is it enough?

Let's start with who I think doesn't get any benefit from these charts: readers. I just don't think that readers can gain much from this list (I also really don't think they get anything from NYT or USA Today bestseller lists either). At most, it encourages a reader to buy a book based on the popularity of it rather than the substance. Not all popular books are good, and not all good books are popular. It simply feeds a reader's ego: "Oh, I've read all those books that are popular this week. I must be an astute reader!" Nah.

Okay writers--it's your turn now. Amazon Charts can be beneficial to you, but only to a point. Knowing the difference between what's selling the most and what's being read can clue you into what genres are getting the most movement. However, because these charts take into consideration different formats (paperbacks sold can be tracked; paperbacks read cannot), it's not a full picture of what's going on. For example, my personal preference is to get a nice hardback copy of a book if I know I'll enjoy it. If I can get a great deal on an ebook ($2.99 or less) I'll take the risk to try something new. For Amazon Charts, one of these purchases would count, one would not. Writers can't really distinguish a reader's motive from the charts alone.

And while the charts can tell you something, it won't tell you everything. Specifically, it won't give you numbers. It doesn't include how many have been sold, downloaded, or how many pages read for any title. Those would be like gold to a writer. That would give a much better perspective on how these titles end up on the charts any given week.

So, reader or writer--will Amazon Charts have any impact on how you buy and read books? 

Monday, May 01, 2017

What's Left

It's the end of Camp NaNoWriMo and I have a poetry manuscript. It's certainly not complete. Some of the poems at the end haven't been edited, I haven't started putting them in order, and I didn't hit the page count I really wanted. But there's something there.

It's not what I expected. Don't get me wrong--I like what I've accomplished. I think I wrote some good pieces. The thing is, I understand the current trend in poetry. I know all the nuances of this particular style. I've read half a dozen authors who have been faithful to the trend. It consists a lot of focusing on the I, You, Me and We with an emphasis on removing all flowery language that often turns people away from poetry in the first place. It speaks like a conversation, and it ends with a full explanation. There's no way you come away from it without understanding the poet's intended meaning. It also mimics what a good haiku should be: focusing on the ordinary, but making it surprisingly extraordinary.

And none of this work fits that mold.

It made me want to chuck it all out the window, if only for a moment. I come from a background of being forced to read poets that made no sense, poets that seemed to have secret meanings behind every twist of phrase, dozens of super-archaic Shakespearean sonnets. That's what influences my work, and that means I have hidden meanings. I make obscure references. I play with metaphors and use all the colors in the crayon box. I'm in no way traditional, but there are hints of tradition in it. And that's not what the current market dictates. You would think a poet wouldn't concern themselves with market trends because poetry, overall, doesn't sell very well on its best day. But I've learned with both indie and traditional publishing, you're working with a ten percent effort on writing and a ninety percent effort on marketing if you want to be successful.

The issue I really have with the current trend is that the trend itself is being diluted with every new book that comes on the market. In my experience, Milk and Honey is the Holy Grail. It can do no wrong. It began the trend that you see. But those other poets, the ones who followed the trend? It doesn't quite hit the same notes when you read it. It doesn't contain the contemplative moments, and there's no sense of urgency when needed.

Because we live in a society where we can get whatever we want when we want, some of us don't want to put in the work to read poetry. Some of us don't want to have to work that hard to feel something. And this trend makes it easy to feel something without feeling stupid for not understand some deeper meaning. The meaning is on the surface, and it's not trying to hide behind anything. I don't write like that. The poets before me made me do the work, so I'm trying to hand down the same skill set to the next generation. I just don't think the next generation has the attention span for it.

I'll still polish it up and get it ready to send out into the world. It deserves that much.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Heading into the Final Stretch

At ninteen days Camp NaNoWriMo is more than half over. My project is currently sitting at slightly over half (45/80 pages) completed. I thought I would easily have 80 pages to cobble together, but it's harder than it seems. I felt like I've written thousands of poems over my lifetime, but really I haven't. Sure, I spent more than a year writing haiku which makes it seem like a large volume, but I'm excluding those from this project because of the length and the fact that haiku just seems to go together as a collection on its own.

Hopefully I'll find some more poems laying around, otherwise I'll have to get writing again. I'm not too worried, because 80 is sort of the center point of a poetry book. Most manuscripts are typically 60-100 pages. I wanted a little wiggle room in case I throw any out of the project. And length is really a smaller concern. The bigger concern is the order of the poems. It's going to take a lot of testing to see what order they should be in so that it flows and it seems like a cohesive entity instead of just random poetry slapped together. We'll see what happens!