Sunday, May 3, 2015

Writing 2015: April Recap - Spring Brings Changes!

This post, and others like it, are mostly for myself and any like-minded writers who might be interested.  If that's not really your bag, you might check out the limited time sale on my superheroes vs zombies novel by clicking here.  (Only good for a few more days...)

Or you can just read on anyway.  Or, why not do both?

Major changed coming to the way I do business, set my goals, and how I count words.  If you are a writer-type like me, you may have read my previous monthly recaps.  This one will be a little different, as my modus operandi is a little different.

What changed and why?

1. I have received orders to deploy.

That's right, I'm being sent into a hot, sandy, and unfriendly region of the world.  (But don't worry, I will be on one of the biggest, safest bases.  I'm more concerned about missing my family than getting hurt.)  But obviously, this is a big fucking deal.  (Hence the appropriately large font.)  Once I arrive and get settled in-country, I will actually probably have a lot more time to write (since there will be little else to do when I'm not working).  But working my way up to that point over the next several months, I will obviously have more important things to do, like prepare myself, my family, and my home for this huge but temporary change of universe. I am not due to return to way things are now until about this time next year.  So, that's a full year of monkey wrench.  Must adapt.

My previous goal was 3,000 per week, translating to 12,000 words per month and a gross K for the year (144,000).  Not happening anymore.  My new goal is to hope to write a total of 100,000 words for the year (though I'll forgive myself if I don't quite make it).  I'll continue to keep track, but once I finally get Dreams of Flying published, hopefully this week, writing and all things related take a back seat for quite a while.

2. Barnes and Noble woke up for me.  

What I mean is, after selling almost nothing anywhere but Amazon, I have finally started selling on other channels.  In fact, I sold more ebooks on B&N than on Amazon for the month of April!  That's great!  New doors opening, and I've only had my foot firmly planted in the jamb for three years now...

I have thus far been content to let Smashwords distribute to B&N for me, but now that I can see a future where I actually sell there, I am going to start publishing directly through their Nook Press system.  This will improve my take of the B&N pie by 5 percent.

Is 5% worth the bother?  Well, in small sales no, but in the future, yes.

The royalty I get via Smashwords is 60%, vice 65% if sold directly with Nook Press.  Five percent of Hungry Gods (at $5.99) is $0.30.  Thirty cents is not a lot of money.  But what if I were to sell 1000 copies of HG there?  That becomes $300 that I gave Smashwords instead of myself.  What if I sold 10,000?  That's $3000 I gave away, and I need it more than they do.

So that's another task to add to my busy schedule, which is why I haven't bothered until now.  Dreams of Flying will be my first book published straight to Nook Press, and I'll get HG and Tarnish, at least, converted over very soon as well.

3. I am moving from a 3-draft writing system to a 2-draft writing system.

Not long ago, I decided that I would whittle my cumbersome writing process down to 3 drafts: 1st is obviously writing it, 2nd is revising it, then send it to my proofreader, and the the 3rd is fixing what the proofer/line editor has sent me (if I agree). Then, publish it.

For Tarnish, I probably had 4 or 5, maybe 6 drafts.  Not kidding.  I spent one year writing it, and years more being afraid it wasn't good enough.  Such a severe lack of confidence is a huge waste of time.  (And in the next point, we'll see that time is money!)

So I finished the 1st draft of Invasion this month and then started on the second.  And you know what I found?  It was pretty darn good the way it was!  I mean, the beginning always needs work because I never know what the hell I'm doing for the first few chapters, and then I had some specific things I knew I had to fix throughout, but for the most part, I didn't need to spend another month or two revising what wasn't too shabby in the first place.

And wasn't that what I has hiring a proofreader for anyway?  That's like spending your Saturday cleaning, and then hiring a maid to come over on Sunday.  I'm paying the proofer to identify the mess.  Why do their job first, then hire them to do it again?  Especially when it wasn't that messy to begin with?

So now I'm moving my writing process forward into a 2-draft system: write it, send to proofreader, fix it.  Done.  Publish and move on to the next book.

I have several series in mind right now and I can't write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas my brain is churning out.  Why waste any more time than needed?

4. I have decided to start tracking my time as a business expense.  

I have been tracking my gains and losses of writing as a business for a few years now, and actually applied it to my taxes for two years.  Up until now I have not, however, been counting my own time as an expense, and I should.  Do I not invest a lot of time into writing, formatting, revising, making covers, marketing, etc?  If I were an employee of a business, would I not be getting paid for that time?  Would that business not be spending money on that time?

Of course.  So it is only fair to my self and my future business that I start doing so right now.  Even if it makes the numbers a bit more depressing to look at.  (Costs will go up by a lot!)

These past few months I had been using a formula to track time spent revising, but now I'm scrapping that.  Instead I'm going to use the following as a logical estimate of the expense of my time.

Assume that for every 1000 words I write, I spend 2.5 hour writing it, then later revising it, then formatting it (as a whole manuscript), searching for images, making book covers, marketing via this blog, social media, advertising systems, etc.  This rough estimate of 2.5 hours per thousand words covers all that.

Then I pay myself $30 per hour.  How did I come to this number?  I started throwing different amounts into a 40 hour work week, times 50 weeks a year (figure 2 weeks unpaid vacation), to what I think would be a fair living wage for me as a writer supporting a family.  Some people would say this is high, some would probably say too low, but right now if I could make $60,000 per year as a writer, I'd consider myself quite successful in making a living at making shit up.

($30/hr) x (40hrs/week) x (50weeks/year) = $60,000 per year, before taxes.

So now I take my monthly word totals and plug them into this formula:

(Total Word Count) divided by (1000) x 2.5 hours x $30/hour

I'll use K to represent the word count/1000, and 2.5 x 30 is 75, so:
  K x $75 = monthly labor cost

For example, April's K = 13.1, so my time spent on all things writing this month was worth $798.75.

Okay, given that, I am spending way too much money writing about this topic!  On to the numbers, and then on to revising!  I have a book to publish this week!   


Numbers for the previous months may actually change a bit in my records, as I have removed credit for revised word count.  On my blogs, including what I have copied and pasted below, it isn't worth the time required to change it all.  (Honestly, it's not that big of a change anyway.)

April:  - 13,100 words written
            - 7900 of those were on Invasion, written in 3 days, and finishing the 1st draft of the book!
            - My short story "Green-Eyed Monster" was accepted by Meerkat Press for their Love Hurts Anthology, where it will appear right next to stories by big names, like Hugh Howey.  (Which I'm very excited about.)  I'm sure I'll give that it's own blog post when the time is right.
            - As above, a milestone: I sold more books on Barnes and Noble than Amazon this month.


March:  - 11,500 words  (5400 on Invasion, 5600 on Ghosts of Chaucer)
               - (This is technically just below my monthly goal.  But the week that I did no writing at all was the same that I logged about 65 hours in with the Navy and moved my family from one house to another on my days off, so I'm okay with this total.)
               - 5400 of those words went into Invasion, and 5600 started a new novelette called Ghosts of Chaucer. This distraction I then put on hold so I could finish Invasion.
               - republished Puppet Theatre as a free preview of both the IDC and IDCU series
February:  - 15,400 words (9550 words on the novella Invasion)
                    - redesigned my blog
                    - submitted stories to magazines
                    - ebooks of Hungry Gods also sold very nearly every day during this month

January:  - 12,650 words (8550 words on the novella Invasion)
                  - published The Prince and the Darkness
                  - published Hungry Gods
                  - Hungry Gods release sold well beyond my goal, had a nice halo effect that reached pretty much all my other books, and all the accumulated sales were spread across SIX different countries!


So there, I wrote 1500 new words for this blog post.  I would be paying myself $112.50 for this.  If I had any money...

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