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Are eBooks too cheap? Huffington Post Article December 23, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading.
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Through the Writers Beware Facebook group, I discovered this article in the Huffington Post- Are eBooks Too Cheap?

I have yet to determine the pricing of my pending eBook, so this makes excellent reading. While I can see the sense in having a book cost only 99 cents, I know the time and effort I put into this work, and feel that low price would not to me justice, or the book justice. It would cheapen the book. It may widen my readership, but at what cost?

I will read more about this in the coming weeks the closer my launch date becomes.

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The end of another writing year…. obligatory review! Part 2 December 20, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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Wow. I was going to write just one post for my writing year in review. Seems this has been a bigger year than I thought and I need to split it into two! This is, of course, a very good thing.

So, my creative year. It began with me writing and finishing my epic sci-fi series, the final book – Crashing Wave. Without the madness of Nanowrimo, it was actually a struggle to complete this. Looking back I have come to realise that what happens in your every day life, your 9 – 5, can affect how you write creatively. I have learned that it is the first 5 minutes of writing which is the hardest to achieve. Once you break through that 5 minutes, then you have the momentum to continue. I have learned that once you hit 20 minutes you tend to lose that momentum, unless you get totally focused.

As such, it was a huge struggle for me to get the last bit of the series completed. Compared to Nanowrimo this year where I completed a 94k word novel in 30 days, it took me almost 5 months to write 15k words to complete the novel. However, I now know what drives me to write, what I need to do to make myself write, and I am quite sure that in the new year I will write more than 1 novel during the year. Especially if the popularity and sales motivate me. But more on that later.

To motivate me I had a friend create a book cover for the first novel in the series – Bow Shock. You can find the cover here – Scarlet Rugers. It is in the Book Covers section of the website. When it comes to cover art, for me, I like minimalist designs. I don’t like having characters on the cover, or would prefer not to have them. Rather than the reader imagine their own image for the characters it is telling them- this is what they look like. It ties up some of the imagination which could be better used in reading the story. You have to remember the book cover whenever those characters are in scene because the cover has told you what they look like.

When I was writing the books, on the Nanowrimo site, you were allowed to have banners in your profile advertising your books. Mine were incredibly simple, just a planet, a star field, and a line showing movement. I believe Scarlett has taken that simple idea and enhanced it in a very clean way. It was fun working with her as well, she would get excited, show me an idea and before I had said anything she would say- wait! What about this?! I like those people who are passionate about what they do.

During the middle of the year I stopped writing creatively. Work stress, life stress, and a want to concentrate on getting my copy writing business precedent. Sad, I know. I did have the seeds for a novel idea in my mind, don’t worry about that. a Magic Steampunk adventure! However I was waiting until November to write it. I know in myself that I need that surge of novelling energy to get me going.

And so, October rolled around, my month of plotting and planning. I started doing the 30 days of world building, but stopped. I already had a plot, and a direction. The exercises did help me out, I will admit. Thinking of weather as a driving force for plot was good. Trade winds would determine the best routes for sky ships to sail. And they would change with every season. The geography of the world would affect the winds as well, so I needed a map. And rather than just having mountains here and there, think about how they are made. The Himalayan mountains are created by continental plates colliding, so, when looking at my map, and mountain ranges, I imagined them to be the edges of plates, which helped sculpt the coast line etc. So these new ways of thinking about world building and how the land would interact with my plot was great. However, there were things left out, things I didn’t consider, due to not being relevant to my story.

I knew what the political situation would be- Royal Family. I have not yet decided on a religion for my world, however there re druids and people with certain elemental aspects in their system. So it may lean towards a pagan pantheon. But then, it might clash with the different schools of magic. It might clash with the idea of people from another realm. It was a very tricky decision, so in the end I chose not to have religion and spirituality that major in my story. And I don’t believe it has harmed the story at all.

So, November. Nanowrimo. Writing a novel, while also trying to be a professional copy writer. I had a GREAT day during November. I spent a day creating the first BNI newsletter AND I wrote 5000 + words of my novel. This day showed me that I can focus and be focussed. It showed that both of my writing loves can live side by side. I can write novels, and copy write, all at the same time. This bodes so incredibly well for my future.

During Nanowrimo I updated my Facebook paged daily with word counts and an exciting commentary on what my characters had been doing. This generated a LOT of response from people, a lot of excitement, and a lot of requests to read the story. So I came to a decisions. Currently I have 4 beta readers going through my work and should be giving me feedback by early January. T hen I will re-write and edit, and publish the book on Smashwords come Valentine’s Day. Once again Scarlett is creating the cover art for me, with some web icons to help with sales.

My first published novel. Wow. This is going to be exciting. I am opening myself up to people saying- wow! To people going- it’s just the same as….  Opening myself up to people to say- this is the worst thing I have ever written. Ah well –

The end of another writing year…. obligatory review! Part 1 December 18, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing.
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This will be my second last post of the year…. probably. What with birthdays, Christmas and New Years, not many things related to writing will occur. Having said that, I was at a party last night where my copy writing came up in conversation. But about that in a moment.

This year has actually been a big year for me in writing. One of my biggest and scariest, to be honest, in both my creative and copy writing spheres.

Let me talk about my copy writing first.

The biggest thing to happen to me this year was the decision to become a freelance copy writer. I quit my 9-5 regularly paying job, and with the support my awesome derby wife, I embarked on the scary but personally rewarding learning curve that is freelance copywriting. I competed for and won a place in the Australian School of Copy Writing Dream Team 2011. This group has prompted me and pushed me to get me a website, new business cards, a DL flyer promoting myself and join a networking group- BNI Mitcham.

As a freelancer I have created direct email content and an accompanying competition webpage; I have created and polished up a Code of Conduct contract for the East Vic Roller Derby league; I wrote copy for a 3 fold brochure and I have now committed to writing the weekly BNI Mitcham newsletter. I have made some great connections through the networking group and there seems to be a lot of potential in the new year to grow my business. A few people would like me to create their newsletters for them, some would like my help updating and re-branding themselves through websites and emails and hard copy sales material.

What has happened to me in the months since i left my full time job is I am learning the BUSINESS of being a writer. While initially I would give discounted hourly rates because people had not seen my work and what I could do, I was first told- no, charge me your full rate, by one of my clients, and then shown that I have value. My years of experience, my education and my collected body of work, even though someone else might not have seen them, they are there and I do have that value to give as a writer. So now, even if it is a new project, I do charge what I believe i am worth. According to some, this may still not be enough, but I am happy at the moment with what I charge.

At a party over the weekend I practiced my networking skills. Spoke to a couple of people, asked what they did, listening to see how I could help them. Met an engineer who designed kid’s play grounds! How awesome a job that could be. But I also met a personal trainer from a BNI group in the neighbouring chapter. As a BNI member, you are allowed to visit other chapters, as long as they do not have your profession represented. Surprisingly, there is a reassuring lack of copy writers in BNI. We got to talking about what she could offer my group and what I could offer her group. Seems there are a few people in her group who may benefit from a copy writer. So, in the new year I will be visiting her chapter, and others, and spreading the word of ME, copy writer! It was a good little networking experience. We swapped business cards.

I also had another networking event during the week at Manningham Council. Bernadette Schwerdt was giving a talk about copy writing, what it is and how it can help people. This was a great opportunity to meet the lady who is teaching me right now, and it was great for someone with authority to stand up and say- this is copy writing. Then I was able to stand up and say- I can do that for you. I could skip past the definition and get right to the helping you part of my talk. I made a great connect with a e-marketer who admitted she hated writing copy, and was quite relieved to have met me, it seems. 2 good hits in a week.

I also re-opened my face book page. This is where I post updates for my blog, anything copy writing related and novel and creative writing related. Since social media is something I am getting into, setting up profiles, creating content and maintaining, I thought it would be a good idea to show that I have such a page myself. There are many great things to be done with social media, of which I am still learning, such as sign up splash pages, the idea of SUPER FANS, which is an actual term.

What do I want in the new year? Obviously I want my work load to increase. I have made some good starts, planted some potentially strong seeds of growth. But I would like those seeds to grow and bear fruit. I would like to earn enough per week to be comfortable. Some regular work where I have regular clients would be fantastic. Clients who come back to me because of the great work I did for them first time. New clients from outside the BNI 1st tier, referrals because of the good job I have already done. People finding my website and wanting to use my services from looking at my portfolio.

And I need to distribute my DL flyers, and get some work through those.

BIG YEAR ahead! Here’s to making it full of writing goodness!

 

(Part 2- Creative Writing Year in review, coming shortly…)

One of those weeks where a lot happens when you’re not looking December 10, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in Copy writing, writing.
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After the rush of Nanowrimo, it feels like I have not done much writing at all. I had to sit and think- what is it that I have done? And I am happily surprised to find that I have, indeed, done stuff!

 

Just in time for Christmas, I have a new business card and a new DL flyer to advertise myself. I would have liked these earlier, but the printer became ‘busy’. All this meant was I had to remind them that, while I am a friend, I am also a customer, and not having these two items is actually restricting my potential to trade. So, I did take a bit of a stand, and it produced results!

That was educational. This year I have discovered my voice, the line in the sand where I will not cross. I have discovered that I can stand up and bump chests with those who are sort of taking advantage of me. I am a laid back kind of guy, and it seems trying to go into business for yourself, you cannot be like that. I have had people I did work for tell me- no, you will charge me at your FULL rate. VALUE yourself! You did work for free, no, I asked you to charge me, so do it. So, I have good people pushing me forwards, and I am now learning myself to push myself forwards. Its business, not pleasure.

So, yes, side tracked there. Well, no not really. Valuing myself, and taking pride in my work, standing up for myself, they are all part of the BUSINESS of writing, which I am learning, STILL. wow.

I am glad I have got my business cards now. By pure coincidence (or was it) there is a networking meeting on Tuesday morning at another BNI Chapter. The guest speaker is Bernadette Schwerdt, the lady who is mentoring me through the 12 months of Dream Team 2011. So not only will I get a chance to meet her, but once she has told people how awesome copy writing is, I can then say- hey! I’m a copy writer! Here’s my card.

My novel? I am reading through it now, just making sure the flow is there, a few obvious typoes are gone. Then I will have a few people give it a good hard read through to find some other types of errors before I edit it for a Valentines Day release. I have spoken with my graphic designer friend about the cover, and she has agreed to do a full front & back cover AND to do an electronic version of my cover, with the words RELEASED ON VALENTINES DAY so I can post it online all over the place.

This is both fun, exciting, and extremely scary.

Nanowrimo wrap up, and my plans. December 1, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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I finished my book. I wrote the whole story. I said to someone that I try and write the whole book during November, that is my challenge. While the official challenge is 50 000 words in 30 days, I hit that easily now, so my challenge is to complete the entire story arc for that book. This is harder for me, and I appreciate pushing myself that little bit extra. For example last year, I may have written close to 75k words in the month, I didn’t finish writing the story. And then I let my motivation slip and it took so long just to finish, it was ridiculous.

Do I like my story? Yes. Yes I do. You might think that is a strange question since I wrote it and I asked it, but there are so many people who do Nanowrimo who say- I wrote it but it was crap. But no, I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed the story.

I was confused using the words ‘sigil’ and ‘glyph’ throughout, and I am going to have to decide which word I like, and what the actual difference between them are. It might be a regional dialect thing, in that some call the magic writing Sigil Work, others Glyph work. That’s for an edit.

The end fight scene for me needs more. They’re carrying swords, so why dont they use them? And the lead male went down far too quickly. I will re-write that with more sword play. And what frustrated me with the final scene was playing it out in my head, while dramatic music was playing, and thinking to myself- I hope my writing is as exciting as what I can see in my head! Which it never is, but that’s okay. The reader can fill in the stunt work for themselves.

Some stats for the month of November:

  • Total Words Written – 94473
  • Average Words Written per day – 3258
  • Highest word count day – Wednesday the 16th – 10227
  • Days not writing – 3 (Two Saturdays and the last day)
  • Number of days not hitting daily word count – 5  (0, 0, 913, 1543, 1589)

I do have plans for my novel. With the number of people commenting on my Facebook updates desperate to read it, I have decided to e-book my novel. I am going to give it a quick read through in the next couple of days, just to find a few little bugs and wipe them off the screen. Then I will let it sit during December. In January I will give it an edit with the hammer. The story is fine, I am happy with the pacing and how long it takes to get where it needs to go. Language is a little bit over the place, so I will make sure when my male lead speaks it is all very proper. When my lady speaks it will be halting and a little bit confused. Actually, I may base her speech pattern off my Polish friend. She has been in Australia for 30 years but she still cannot grasp Australian slang. It is so cute.

And then the plan is to get the book up for purchase before Valentine’s Day. I am going to announce this on Facebook as well. I am putting it out, into the universe, there will be a release date. That way I can not hide behind the- oh yes I plan on getting it published. I will have announced it, and will target that date, and my inner perfectionist be DAMNED!

One of my best days was last Thursday. I managed to write 4146 words on my novel, while also putting together and writing a newsletter for my BNI group. Writing content, setting up the template and laying it all out was a very involved job. So being able to do both was a good experience for me. Showed that I can work and play at the same time. That would be a great work life balance for me, to be able to Copy Write, to do professional writing during the morning and afternoon, and then write into the evening on novels. I did that for a couple of days during November, and it worked.

So, how am I feeling now? I am actually a little sad I don’t have a novel to write. Yes, I know- but wait! You can still write! But I don’t want to get Book 2 going until have book 1 wrapped up nicely. I am not one of these multi-tasking writers, well not for novels. Not yet. The day a publishing house asks me to write this novel, and that novel, oh and help with this one, and here is loads of cash? Then I will adapt.