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Looking back on 2012… December 31, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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It is the end of the year! It wasn’t the end of the world, which is a good thing, because I know the next year for me is going to be awesome, and it would be a shame if it had ended.

And the year 2012 has been alright for me too. I will try to be chronological, but that goes against the logic of my brain, and I can’t remember everything anyway.

In January I was riding high on the fact I had a 94k word novel. I was determined to release it by February 14th! I had artwork designed with that very thing in mind. I had editors read it, but dear me, I underestimated the length of time required to edit, re-write and get it polished! So, I compromised and had Act 1 ready to go on February 14th as a tease. I got a LOT of good responses from people who read it.

But what I liked a lot was Scarlett Archer telling me that I needed to re-write this, that I NEEDED to finish the story, because it was a fantastic story and people needed to read it.

What I also learned so early in the year was that sometimes you needed to gut your work, admit that something didn’t work. Even if it is many words of text, you have to make the hard choice to edit. In Act 1 of my story – The Girl From Out of Town, Navarr and Mizzell originally go to the Royal Ball, upon invitation from the Prince. While there they are found by agents of the Cabal, and there is a fight, a chase, and it heads to the docks where they hide, and then convince Truen to let them on to his ship. It got my characters where they needed to go, but it just didn’t work. Cutting that all out, making them go to the ball at Navarr’s work, where they get discovered and flee, then a major fire fight at the docks in which they are flung, near dead, onto a fleeing ship? Far more cool.

2 complete re-writes, consultation with a genuine cover designer, who now works for Amazon (I know someone cool in the book world…), IT troubles with both Smashwords and Amazon, but, I released my first novel to the world, on July the 3rd. It was meant to be the 1st, but yeah, IT issues. But…. PUBLISHED AUTHOR! I think I am supposed to get a tattoo now. Sales have not been as astronomical as I thought they would be, but they are there. People I know, and people I DONT know are reading my book. That is a very cool feeling.

Professionally I re-branded myself from Matthew Farmer – Copywriter, to Wonderdog Writing Solutions –> Print

I discovered trying to explain “copy writing’ to those who were not too sure was not as easy as I thought. However, a writer? That made more sense. Do you write this? Yes, yes I do. Do you write tenders? Yes, a successful tender for l-markperry, if you don’t mind. Do you write brochures? Yes, indeed I do, how about this noni_young_logo, or this cvc logo small ? Have you written a book? Yes I have –> mattfarmer_gfoot_front_final_2.

I gained a Business Coach, who is making me see writing as a business is not as scary and hard as I thought, all I need is a direction, a goal, a dream, and to stick to it.

Through this year I have discovered there are more people out there struggling as a writer than I thought. More people who are scared of it, and yet, give it a go anyway. There are people out there who are braver than me and publish themselves, put themselves into the glare of the internet, with abandon! And then there are those who should be doing it, but don’t have the courage.

The second kind of people? We have found each other, formed a support  group, and are going forward, with pom poms and cheering from the rest of us!

I have found a “partner in crime” for my writing. We are going to collude and champion each other, keep each other honest and on the path of the quill and ink.

I have also discovered that I still enjoy writing. I am not writing creatively as much, not so much prose, but that is because I am being creative with my writing in a business sense. The new year is bringing me a swathe of websites, articles and brochures to write, and I must be differently creative for each one, for each client. How can I best express to customers the value of this company, and this company, and this one over here? Three different entities, with 3 different styles of language, all wanting to say the same thing – in the field of X, I am an expert, and you need to do business with me.

I enjoy the challenge of a creative writing assignment, amazing people with it, and then being able to move on to something completely new.

And I am enjoying that my writing is going to take me somewhere. It is going to take me to America. It is going to take me into a creative office space. It is going to take me to different offices, cafes, groups of people. It is going to take me to different opinions and views from people. And, just as importantly, my writing, with prose and novels, is taking me into the skies and beyond.

The biggest thing I discovered about myself this year, is I enjoy being a writer. I cannot do this alone, no writer can. I have the support of a loving wife, and friends who champion me, and believe that I am a good writer, and not in the way of patting me on the back because I am their friend. But because they truly see value in what I produce, they see merit in my advice and my views on writing, and on story.

I believe 2012, for me, was the year I truly believed that I will always be a writer, and 2013 is the year my writing will be bigger, better and take me to more places than I could imagine.

 

2012 in review December 31, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Ideal Working Day – version 1 December 11, 2012

Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
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In my professional writing life, I am lucky enough to have the services of a Business Coach. He is helping me think of ways to market myself, to come up with business goals, and to visualise where i want to take my writing business and my writing career.

One of the homework exercises he had me do is a three page, hand-written, description of my ideal working day. He explained that I can be as fantastic as I want to be. However, when I wrote mine, I was much more grounded in the every day life, with no fanciful dreams, no unicorns or flying cars. And yet, at the same time, my ‘ideal working day’ seemed completely and entirely possible, to me.

It is called Version 1, because in 2 weeks, or 1 week, I get to write version 2. And then version 3. Plus, I get to write a entire week of ideal working days, which will include one full day for writing novels and being creative. AND allowing time to read.

But now, without further ado, I present to you my first version of an ideal working day. On reflection, it is quite busy, and you would think that an ideal day is working for half of it, and then sleeping the other half, like a cat.

office

My ideal working day, version 1 – Wednesday 5th December

I wake up around 6.30am. I get out of bed when my wife does, and head into the kitchen. Toaster on, kettle on.

I make one slice of toast for my wife, knowing she will buy more breakfast when she gets to work. I make her a cup of tea and a coffee for myself. I make her lunch and put it into the Adelaide Crows lunch box because, despite saying she will buy herself a new lunch box, she still hasn’t.

I put a load of washing on, do some tidying up and see my wife off at the door. I then put on a DVD and hit the exercise bike for an hour.

After the bike I am back in the kitchen for breakfast and another cup of coffee. Then it is a shower and start the day.

I head up stairs to my office. It is a room on the top floor of our house, with a balcony and outside stairs, so clients may visit me without going through the house. There is a tiny kitchenette with coffee and cookie facilities, a sink and a bar fridge with essentials.

It is a good sized room, painted in light colours. Being on top of the house there are windows showing many directions, letting in light from wherever it may be shining. Book cases fill in most of the spaces between windows, although there is some room for art, paintings and photos my wife has taken and I have framed. And a framed collection of novel covers.

My desk is an l-shaped desk with filing cabinets behind and on the wall, for clients, and for creative ventures, such as writing clubs, or short stories, magazines and other submissions. On my desk are three monitors for my computer, an ergonomic keyboard and many-buttoned mouse.

In the middle of the room is a couch and some couch chairs around a coffee table. A meeting place, the couch is long enough for me to sleep on it if I have late sessions writing.

I turn my computer on and have the emails download. I check the analytics for my website and two others I have written copy for, building a case study for a new product I am writing up. Before and after stats for website traffic, based on Facebook & LinkedIn campaigns I have run for clients, and web-copy I have re-written for them.

Being Wednesday morning I have social media work to do for two companies – a Business Coach & Inspirational Speaker, and an Office Furniture company. I start with the furniture company for the first hour.

Over the weekend there was a furniture conference in the US. I have a list of office furniture which was displayed, with reviews and images. I had sent these to my client asking which ones they would be importing. There is a reply from the client telling me which ones to expect and when. I begin writing up some mini-articles about the furniture, linking to the reviews and have them scheduled to appear over the next week.

During the weekend I monitored hash-tags and re-tweeted on behalf of my client. These have produced some feedback which I reply to. I had also made internet-friends with a journalist who was doing some work at the show. He has let me use his material on my client’s social media portfolio in exchange for by-line credits and a link to his blog and website.

When the first article is posted at the end of the hour, I make sure I share it with my friends, and some contacts who have purchased previously from my client. I drop onto some Facebook walls of clients and let them know there is a preview of new stock. This begins to drive traffic to my client’s FB wall.

The next hour I spend on my Business Coach client. He is a voracious reader and likes to read books relevant to his field and review them. It is one of the ongoing themes of his wall. He gets a lot of likes for these. I sometimes have to edit the reviews down, but more recently I have convinced him to install a blog on his website so we can preview the book and send people to his site to read the full review.

Last week one of the authors saw the review of his own book, and now they are Facebook friends. There is going to be an interview later, and possibly some signed copies of books to give away.

After updating his calender, posting some testimonials and such, I turn my email back on to check for more work.

There is a couple of emails requesting articles. One in particular relates to the recent popularity of independent book stores in light of the big chain book stores falling down. I accept that article request. I search for some articles on the subject, find a blog post or two, some passionate rants about it, and I call a couple of book store owners I know and ask if I Can interview them later today. They both agree.

I have also received an e-book review request. I am a member of a writing and editing group who read, review and rate each others work, and help with marketing each others work.

An old client has emailed me asking what is required to add a blog to his website, and add this to his portfolio.

I open his file. He is a Landscape Gardener who works very closely with a builder. I have written some flyers and contributions for an industry newsletter. I have suggested to this person in the past, to keep a diary of jobs – photos, some rough notes, which I can embellish and make more prose-like. I also suggested that, for a discount on his fee, he gets one of HIS clients to do the same. An awesome testimonial of what he is doing. In one instance he even produced a photo-book for a client of his. Awesome experience.

I suggest he comes around after work, to talk about adding the Blog to the portfolio he has with me.

It is around lunchtime. I make a sandwich and get another coffee, then look through the ‘possible work’ file I have. This includes publishers and what they are looking for, upcoming writing contests and anthologies looking for content. One anthology is looking for ‘happy cyberpunk’. This intrigues me and I look into it more. A request for a happy story set in the world of VR, cyber-tech, near future setting.

I grab a note pad and pen and start doodling ideas. I use the notion of ‘punk’, being against the ‘man’, and think of a cyber revolution. Or a take over of an evil regime by virtual means. I think of a place like Second Life, a place where people actually work. They are at home, plugged in, and work in a virtual office, but on a larger scale, and how their minds can be freed. It is starting to feel a little bit like the Matrix, so I scrap that idea.

Then I think about over-throwing a country. I need an evil dictator. Former Soviet Union or Africa? I flip a coin, it lands heads- Africa. Google Maps gives me some West African nations. I choose Togo, sine it is a short name. I do some research, figure out some simple methods of over throwing the government through the use of technology – emptying bank accounts, taking over infrastructure etc.

This takes me a relaxed hour. I am sitting in my comfy chair writing notes, thinking up character names, hacker handles and such. I check the time, its nearly time to go out and interview book store owners. I ring my wife and have a chat, finish my lunch and then head out into the world.

My first interview is with the owner of a science fiction/fantasy/horror book shop and comic store. He is located in a shopping mall but is surviving quite well. It is a casual interview, talking about why he runs this particular kind of book store etc. During the interview one of his ‘neighbours’ from the shopping mall comes in to say hi. I introduce myself as a copy writer and professional writer, and he asks the difference.

“As a copy writer I can produce the copy for one-off products such as DL Flyers, catalogues, newsletters and so on. I can help with an integrated portfolio of branded social media content, dynamic web-copy, blogging and other social media. As a Professional Writer, I write books, novels and short stories, articles, and I consult and audit web pages and edit documents for clients.

The visitor, Andrew, mentions he Doesn’t like his website. It reads poorly. I hand him my card and I say I will look at his website and give him a free appraisal by Friday. He gives me his card and I notice that where his website is listed, there is “.home.html” is added in pen. I immediately tell him that is a problem which needs fixing. He knows, he is just trying to get rid of the last of his business cards. I tell him- my first impression? It is very amateur, and I wouldn’t go looking. I don’t care if you’re trying to get rid of the cards, you’ve just had a poor impact on me. He agrees, and then leaves us to finish our interview. I know by the end of the week I am going to have a new client.

I leave for the second book store, calling him to apologise for being a little bit late. While I am driving a Real Estate agent calls me and asks if I could see a house with him tomorrow and write up a side bar ad, a quarter page ad and a blurb for websites. Sure, tomorrow morning, see you then.

When I arrive at the book store, the owner introduces me to a couple of kids as the writer of those books over there. They each buy a copy and ask me to sign them. We get chatting about how to write, what am I writing now, and so on. It is not until the store closes that I get to interview the owner.

I rush home from the book store so I will be available for the 6.30 meeting with my landscape gardener client. I meet my wife, tell her I have a client, which means we will HAVE to have take out Thai food for dinner.

The client arrives soon after, sharing photos from the day. My suggestion to let the people he is working for take pictures and write about him, is providing some great feedback, and referrals for more work. He is becoming quite busy!

After the pleasantries he asks if I can write the blog for him. I suggest a weekly blog article by me, but he can update with pictures as often as he likes, link to Facebook etc. I also suggest pitching some ideas to some magazines, take the blog content and making them reach a wider audience. He asks if I Can do that? Yes I can.

He leaves after an hour or more. 8 pm and I am reclining on the couch with my wife, eating re-heated Thai food, watching some movies.