Sunday, November 18, 2018

Rich Writer/Poor Writer



Poor writer went to writing school. He was taught to write slowly, by hand if necessary, and to craft his sentences until they were shiny and perfect.

Rich writer might have gone to writing school, but immediately discarded what he was taught there since it became fairly obvious that writing school is for learning how to become a writing teacher, not a professional fiction author. He writes at pulp speed (3,000 words per day on average).

Poor writer writes maybe one book per year and depends entirely upon the traditional method of publishing, be it with a small, medium, or large press.

Rich writer goes hybrid. He not only publishes traditionally, but he starts his own press too. He writes upwards of one book or novella per month, sometimes in genres and/or with plots that no traditional publishing house would ever consider buying for their list.

Poor writer must either teach and/or maintain a day job in order to make ends meet, even if he has published many novels traditionally.

Rich writer views his many indie books as assets, sort of like real estate. Every book, every short story, and novella become another piece of intellectual property that will make him a fair return on investment (ROI) for years to come.

Poor writer believes entirely on mega upfront advances, even if there's no hope in earning said advance out.

Rich writer also believes in mega advances. But he doesn't discount minimal advances with a generous royalty back-end for his traditional titles (the sooner one earns out the better), and consistent passive income and steady growth for his indie titles. 

Poor writer is too proud to write anything that isn't considered high-brow or literary.

Rich writer pens in all sorts of genres...genres he loves to read. And his prose can compete with any literary writer.

Poor writer lives a solitary sometimes sad life, and rarely engages with other writers since he is jealous of their success.

Rich writer not only engages frequently with other writers, he props them and their new books up whenever he can. He is constantly amazed at the success of his fellow authors. It gives him hope for his own future.

Poor writer doesn't learn anything new after writing school. He's too good for that.

Rich writer is constantly learning, and constantly striving to educate and reeducate himself not only on how to be a better writer, but also a better seller of his books.

Poor writer never markets his work. It's beneath him.

Rich writer markets like crazy, and/or or hires a marketing professional to "move units."

Poor writer looks at the decline in the number of independent bookstores in recent years, and with what looks like the eventual demise of Barnes and Noble, doesn't see much hope for books in the 21st century.

Rich writer gazes at the stats on how many smartphones are being sold per year to just about every soul on the planet, and sees a barely tapped goldmine.

(to be continued...)

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Get a tour of my Italy apartment...


...where the magic happens.
Or hell, I don't know if it's magic, but I do recall an interview with Tom Petty before the good Lord pulled the guitar plug: "I think I'm just a conduit."

That's the way I feel sometimes. Because God knows, the way I was raised, it wasn't to be a writer, that's for sure. But that's my life. Anyway, I spend a good portion of it here in Italy, and this is a video of my apartment where I write and contemplate the life, the losses the gains, the loves the, the not to be loves.

I hope it inspires you to do the same.




One quick correction when I say "I stay here anywhere from 6 to 2 months." Huh? That's supposed to be six weeks to two months. Must be the Chianti with lunch....

Write and write with passion. And do it from anywhere in the world. You not only live once. Your life is super short. Don't blow it in the suburbs in a most unhappy way.

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sucker Punched in Paradise



The other night...I think it was Monday...I stopped in at one of my local Florence pubs that's no different from the local I head out to most nights back in New York after work. Since I've been frequenting the place for over ten years consistently, lots of people know me there and it's a nice atmosphere. Anyway, after speaking to a few folks whom I haven't seen in some months, I turned to reading the new texts on my phone when I feel a locomotive slam into the side of my head.

Next thing I know, I'm on the floor on my back, and I'm watching this dude stomp out of the bar. Stomp is literal since he stomped on my eyeglasses just to add insult to injury. I wish I could say I did the heroic thing and bounded right back up and went after his cowardly ass, but things being the way they were, I could hardly see straight I was so stunned (also, my head hit the back of a solid wood bench on the way down). My guess is I passed out for a second or two.

CCTV vid shows proof positive that the psycho dude who did this was waiting for me. What beef he had with me is anyone's guess since I'd never met him before, although I believe I might have seen him a few days before and even briefly exchanged some small talk while I ordered a drink and then proceeded to speak with some friends. Word about this man surfaced later, and apparently he's been drifting through Europe, bragging about getting into fights. If that's the way he fights--sneaking up on people while they are reading their texts--I imagine he wins a bunch of them.

I did the right thing and reported the incident to the police who picked him up the next day when he stupidly showed back up at the bar. I'm told there will be a trial at some point. I also shared the CCTV footage with the state department who are monitoring his actions since his face has no doubt been recognized by now along with his ID. I'd show you the footage here now, but I made promises to certain professionals that I would keep it under wraps until the time is right. When the time comes, I'll spring it here. It's creepy.

The point of all this is not to lick my wounds in front of my readers, but to send out a word of caution to all those who, like me, live to travel. Even in a place like Florence, Italy, an artist's paradise, significant dangers exist. You must be vigilant at all times. If I had eyes in the back of my head, I might have seen this creep closing in on me. But I don't and he got the best of me. But it won't happen a second time, believe me. That's why I keep lifting all those heavy weights everyday, day in and day out. It's why I do the cardio. It's why I engage in target practice at the range consistently. 

Traveling at present? Be safe and watch your back...always.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

A new existentialism...



This dawned on the author while traveling from Newark to Rome the other day: despite the hordes of fellow travelers within elbow distance, actual human contact need not be applied in this post-post modern world.

There's the drop off at the Newark United Terminal No. 3. From there one has a choice to approach the counter where a human being will assist one with check in. But utilizing the more robotic "kiosks" are strongly encouraged. All one has to do is present the machine with one's passport and it automatically spits out one's boarding pass.

From there one makes one's way to security, which still uses real flesh and bone TSA, although these people are being phased out as new x-ray tech becomes the new norm.

Once security is completed, today's modern day traveler can enjoy oneself at any one of the many bistros and restaurants that fill the terminal. Only, a human being doesn't take one's order. An iPad does. Sure, a person delivers one's food, but perhaps this is only a temporary measure in what's still considered a beta automated food service system. When paying for one's food and drink, one uses a debit/credit card that is attached to an online banking service because after all, one enjoys direct deposit.

Then it comes time to fly. Pilots are at the helm, but the computer flies the plane from take-off to landing. From what the author is told, today's pilot is required to land a plane manually every 20 or so landings to stay sharp. This is disconcerting.

Used to be a time when upon landing after a long haul transatlantic flight, the passengers would clap. It was heartwarming display of collective humanity. No one claps anymore. One immediately turns on one's smartphone instead.

One enters into the airport and another robotic kiosk scans one's passport. It's a silent, if not nerve racking process. What if the robot doesn't recognize the traveler? Is said traveler then turned away by a machine?

But once accepted by the robot (one is literally given a green or red light), the human being manning the immigration counter is a welcome sight. One wishes him or her a good morning and does so with a smile. But one receives only stoic, stone-faced silence in return. Perhaps the immigration personnel are not human after all.

One takes the taxi into the city. Not much is said between driver and passenger since the former is concentrating on GPS (soon the taxi will be driverless) and the latter on one's email. Once the traveler arrives at the hotel, automated check-in is an option. One chooses to do it the old fashioned way--by consulting with a concierge.

One gets right to work, typing out a piece about a new existentialism. It's writing that won't be passed on to an editor, or to publisher, or to a graphic arts department. It will be published on one's own blog site. The income derived will be indirect and passive.

One writes the many chapters that make up a new novel. One has a choice here. It's all about one's idea of controlling one's own destiny. One can bypass human beings altogether and edit the book via an editing program like Grammarly Chrome. One can choose cover art online. One can auto upload the book onto the KDP platform or D2D, which will automatically format the book. One can then advertise and promote the book with online social media ad services (the author, who is a hybrid, chooses to work with publishers, and real editors and artists. It's all about individual choice).

If there is any hope for the book selling well, it no longer has anything to do with (human) word of mouth, but instead, a generous automated push by the algorithmic gods. In other words, when it comes to post-post modern day publishing, human beings need not apply (there's that turn of phrase again).  

There's nearly 7 billion people on planet earth as of this writing. Each and everyone of them connected not by human sensory perception, but by wires, circuits, applications, programming, and artificial intelligence.

It's a time of new existentialism.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do you still need an Agent in 2018?

You need to ask yourself that very question these days as publishing becomes more and more democratized. Indeed all of media for that matter (if someone told me ten years ago I'd be watching my favorite "news" programs on my cell phone and/or via YouTube or FB, I would have said, 'Take another sip.').

One of my good pals in writing and publishing, Ben Sobieck, has sold the film rights to one of his stories not through an agent, but instead, Wattpad. You know, that web portal that allows fans to read your work for free. Who'd a thunk it? In fact, he wrote a book on the subject. You should check it out right HERE.

More and more of my indie books I publish through Bear Media are far outselling anything my publishers own, save a few titles that Thomas & Mercer own (and they know how to sell books, even old books, believe me. One of my bestselling titles, The Remains, is currently being promoted by the house and get this, it's six years old). What this means is, I am placing as much importance, if not more importance, on the indie books as I am my traditionally published products. Lots of crime writers are doing the same thing. Check out this article written for Publishers Weekly in 2016 by Nicole Audrey Spector and you'll see why.

This is not good news for agents. As the one-time frequenters of the New York City steakhouse-acquisition-editor-wet-lunch circuit, many have now ceased to exist. Errr, their businesses have ceased to exist, I should say. Some of the agents I have signed with over the years have either died, or quit the business to enter into something far more lucrative and a million miles away from professional publishing. My agent from the late 1990s, and who sold my first novel for $250K, is now a professional magician. You can't make this shit up, I tell you. Some agents are downsizing, and certainly most of them are weeding out the clients who don't earn or sell at all. Who can blame them?

So then, do I still need an agent in 2018? My answer is yes. Agents aren't only there to get you lucrative deals (this is not a knock, but I think half the deals I've ever made I brought to my agent and not the other way around), they are there to deal with contracts and subsidiary rights. They push your books at book fairs and when possible, try to nab movie/TV rights. In theory anyway. But one of the biggest reasons for having an agent is to help out during times of crisis. You can be damn sure that is Amazon KDP were to challenge my ownership of a certain property or if someone accused me of plagiarism, the first man/woman I'm going to look to for help will be my agent.

I go in more detail to discuss the necessity of agents in my new short book The Hybrid Mindset. I hope you check it out. You can nab the book in eBook or paperback. Or you can read for FREE in KU. 

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Caffeinated inspiration...



... we all need it. The caffeine and the inspiration. That's why the two go so well together. Caffeine gives you energy, makes your brain stand at attention, and when your brain is pumping on all cylinders that's when you can write at pulp speed. Or perhaps you don't write very fast, but you still need caffeine to come up with ideas, words, sentences, and paragraphs.



Lots of people harbor this romantic vision of Hemingway, penning his stories and novels with a bottle of Scotch set out on his writing table. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, Papa wrote in the cafe's of 1920's Paris during the heyday of the Lost Generation. But he did this because it was too cold to write in his cold water flat. And what did he drink? Not booze, but coffee with milk.

He also wrote by long hand, having several sharpened pencils at his disposal. One of his ways of warming up for the day's word count, was to slowly sharpen each pencil. Only when he was ready, would he begin to enter the words that came together in his head onto the pages of a blank notebook, or what's known in Paris as a cahier.

I'm a seasoned fiction writing vet at this point. I make my living from it. I believe at this point I have around 50-60 books in print, having sold close to a million editions. But I still love the romantic notion of the young man  or woman sitting in a cafe, drinking some really great coffee with milk, and writing by hand in a cahier, hoping that one day he'll see one of his books in print.

I'll be leaving for Italy on Thursday where, for close to two months, I'll be doing this very thing. Sure, I'm no longer a newbie at this, but here's what I'll be taking with me:

--Writer's Block Coffee 

--Cahier No. 1

--The Writers Glove

Sure, I'll be taking my laptop too, but I can write an entire novel with the three essentials mentioned above, just like Hemingway did almost a century ago.

You can too.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

More from the Hybrid Mindset


The truth revealed...



I write a lot of books and stories. I work at pulp speed, for the most part (3,000+ words per day). I edit my new work on a daily basis so that at the end of a new novel or novella, I'm not left with the daunting task of having to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, because he was never put together properly in the first place.

Prior to the digital revolution, you were going to be hard-pressed to find a publisher, big or small, who would be willing to publish more than one book per year. Maybe you could enjoy the benefits of multiple publishers, but even then, if you were somehow miraculously able to put out three projects of say, 60K words per year, you were among the very few who were doing so (romance authors got away with this). The more accurate truth is that you would be pissing off all three publishers. They'd accuse you of competing with your own titles (thus those pesky non-compete clauses in publishers contracts).

Competing with your own titles: Almost all publishers will discourage you from publishing books other than the ones they are publishing for you. They don't want you to be stealing sales from yourself. Or more accurately said, they don't want you stealing from their bottom line. But this is nonsense. I compete with my own list on a monthly and sometimes bimonthly basis, and no one single title is stealing sales from another. If anything, the more books I publish under my own label, the more sales I enjoy. This is exponential growth based on tangible assets--my books. And as far as my core group of fans are concerned, I can't possibly write fast enough.

If a publisher isn't moving your title, its not because your indie books are competing for shelf space (again, this is nonsense because in digital world there is unlimited shelf space), it's because of one thing and one thing only: they are not marketing and advertising your book effectively enough. Nor do most publishers need to spend cash flow on marketing since they rely on making small profits from lots of authors on a monthly basis. They aren't in the publishing business, so much as they are in the copyright real estate business.

As a hybrid author, you should be in the copyright real estate business too. You should be writing at pulp speed and creating a cityscape of titles that will earn significant positive returns over long periods of time.

My new short book The Hybrid Author Mindset tackles these very topics. Here's a sample.    



Proliferation

Traditional:
Traditional publishers don’t want you writing. At base, a traditional house wants one book per year and only one book. There are several reasons for this. A publishing house is essentially a mega Goliath of editors, artists, marketing personnel, bean counters, you name it. They work high up inside a steel and glass tower (the Bertelsmann Building), and it costs them thousands just to turn the lights on every morning. Your book is just another expenditure in a sea of expenditures.
Lots of…let’s call them publishing professionals…will want a say in how your book gets to see the light of day. Everyone from the accountants to the foreign rights department will need some time with it, which means with all this bureaucratic swamp-like inefficiency running amok, it takes a year or sometimes more for the book to go through several rounds of edits and finally make the trip to the printing press.
Writers, when signing major contracts, need to be weary (and beware) of clauses that prohibit the author from publishing any other books that might compete with the contracted book for shelf space. This essentially hogties a writer and limits their income potential. Writers, like me, who are prolific and can write a novel in a single month, have trouble with this aspect of the traditional model because I can write way more than one book per year. Truth is if I don’t write more than one book per year, I’m doomed financially. That’s why most writers who publish exclusively with the Big 5 (or is it Big 4 now?), must maintain a day job while lots of hybrid and indie authors write for a living.
Which way would you rather live your life?

Indie:
Like I just said, I can write a 40,000-60,000 novel in about a month. Some novels, especially the longer (80,000 to 100,000 words), more literary psychological suspense standalones might take two months. A short story of up to 5,000 words might take a single day. A novella of anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words might take a week but no more than two. A 30,000 word short novel can take three weeks and another week to produce a final rewrite. What all this means, of course, is that I am able to put out a lot of good to great material, fast. There are indie and hybrid writers who are faster than me. Much faster. They write at what bestselling genre author Dean Wesley Smith has coined, Pulp Speed. That is, around 5,000 words per day, six days a week. At that speed, you can write a full 60,000 word novel in a week. And get this, you can do it easily.
I write full-time, but that doesn’t mean I sit at the laptop for eight hours per day. Far from it. I write utilizing the sprint method. In other words, I do maybe three to four half-hour to hour long sprints per day in which I produce anywhere from 500 to 1200 words. By the end of the day, I’ve written anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000+ words. You might be a little slower or a little faster. It’s all up to the individual.
But the point is, a professional writer should be writing every day. That’s how many of the pulp writers of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s became rich—by writing tons of words, day in and day out, and getting paid by the word by the pulp magazines. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the big establishment publishers began demanding that writers only put out one book per year. That ushered out the pulp era and began a new era whereby writers were no longer in control of their careers. But now, in this new digital age, writers are back in control and can decide for themselves how to publish. That’s why I choose to be a hybrid author, because I get the best of both worlds--the notoriety and acclaim that comes from traditional world, and the solid investment and passive income that comes from indie world. 

The point to all this, is that I am able to put out way more than one book per year. Each book or 

product I put out makes me money. Money I need to live and save and travel and eventually to pass 

on to my children.



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The truth revealed in one sitting...

The Hybrid Author Mindset