Friday, May 27, 2016

Treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio / Happenings In The Outhouse 27-May-2016

Each story you put out into the world, whether it's through a publishing company or indie published or even free on your website/blog, is like buying stock in a company.

Some stories will do real well, while others may only sell a few copies a year.  Some, unfortunately, may not sell at all (not including the ones that are free, of course, which can pay off indirectly).

Very few titles will be able to carry the weight of your financial success all by itself.  Yes, yes, we've all heard of Andy Weir's The Martian and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.  Those are anomalies.  The majority of writers will have to write a plethora of books in order to pay off for years to come--including after you are deceased for the duration of the copyright.

If you treat your publishing empire like an investment portfolio, each story can pay off small individually.  Together, you can earn more and more with each subsequent title.  And taking each title into different mediums, whether it's print, digital, audio, film, foreign, each one can be split into even more revenue streams.

This makes me smile when I think of how these stories will pay off in the future--even in the decades to come when my children are out of the house.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New mindset for outlining / Happenings In The Outhouse 20-May-2016

A month ago, I said I was going to try my hand at outlining the fourth thriller book in the Central Division Series.  It went well, brainstorming the beginning, middle, and end, and a lot of pieces in between.

But after two days, I was itching to just start writing the book, because that's the way I roll.

What brought about this urging for me to outline?

I discovered a new podcast a few months ago called the Story Grid Podcast with Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl.  When I started listening, I knew I had to listen to them all.  And I highly recommend it, if you want a new sense of storytelling and why some stories work and many don't.

Shawn Coyne has been an editor for over twenty-five years and wrote a book called the Story Grid.  Check it out.  It's well worth the investment, no matter what genre you write.

In a number of the podcast episodes, Shawn suggested not necessarily planning out one's day in word count but in writing a specific scene or two.  The scene or two may take up the word count you need for the day, but it's a different mindset to have, looking at it by scene instead of words.

With my new book, I decided to take this approach.  After the day's writing, I would plan out the next scenes.  It's still early in the process, but it seems to be working well.

Friday, May 13, 2016

My love of storytelling / Happenings In The Outhouse 13-May-2016

I've always been drawn to great storytellers.  Back when I was very young, I had several . . . well, books on records.  Yes, those circular vinyl things that spin around and around on a turntable.  Yes, I'm that old.  Then, as technology grew, it became books on cassette tapes.

But I will never forget the awesome storytelling power of Paul Harvey, on the radio, telling us about The Rest Of The Story.

I'd love listening to those Paul Harvey tales whenever I could, trying to guess who he was speaking about.  I could never guess them, and the surprise endings always amazed me.  But what amazed me the most was his ability to tell a great story.

Musicians who tell stories in their songs have also affected me.  Check out the early days of Will Smith as the Fresh Prince in the hit duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince if you don't believe me.  And he's certainly not the only one.  Some of my favorite musical storytellers are John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.

Not only do I love the sound of a good storyteller.  This even grew from the voiceover works of Don LaFontaine (think of movie trailers that start with "In A World . . ." Yes, this is that guy) and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader).

I used to work as a dispatcher for the Sheriff's department in my county.  This involved many midnight to eight shifts.  In the wee hours of the morning (we're talking like four and five AM, mind you), when I grew tired of watching movies, I'd flip through the channels for something interesting to watch.  Trust me, there hardly ever was.

One show started to fascinate me.  It was called The Most (on the History Channel) and the host was Mike Rowe.  At the time, I didn't know who this guy was, but his voice was memorable and his storytelling ability was amazing.  Over time, Rowe went on to host/narrate various shows like Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs.

Earlier this week, while searching through my Stitcher app I discovered a new podcast by Rowe called The Way I Heard It.  On this podcast, he tells 5-6 minute stories in much the same fashion as Paul Harvey.  As of this posting, there are sixteen episodes, and all are amazing.  This is one podcast you need to listen to, if you loved the stories of Paul Harvey or you even love storytelling in general.  These weekly episodes are for the curious mind and gives the timely history behind many people who may (or may not) have heard of.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's talk money / Happenings In The Outhouse 06-May-2016

I read an interesting article the other day by Dean Wesley Smith, where he talked about cash streams.

One paragraph to note: "And I chuckle when someone looks at a few of my book’s sales rankings on Amazon and come to the conclusion I don’t make any money. I have way beyond 300 books on Amazon. Some of my books haven’t sold more than a copy all year, some have sold a lot."  Here's the entire article here:

I read this and smile.  There are some books of his that don't sell more than a few copies a year.  Us writers are small fish in a huge ocean.  Sure, there are bigger fish than others--Rowling, Stephen King, Patterson, Grisham come to mind here--but for hungry readers who have devoured all that these powerhouse authors have published, there are others who need to fill the niche.

So when I review my daily or monthly sales and see only a handful being sold, I don't fret.  Yes, I want to make money doing this.  But I think long-term.  I pray I have as long of a career as Dean Wesley Smith has, with over 300 books to his name--and churning out more all the time.

I keep working.

And so should you.

Don't focus so much on the money.  Money will come.  Focus, instead, on creating your works of art, over and over again.  Keep putting more products out there.


It's where the focus should be.