Writing Life: On Being an Indie Author During #GrabYourWallet

So this one is a bit thorny and I suspect a lot of us are dealing with it. It is no secret by now that politically, I am firmly against the Predator-Elect and all for resistance. One of the ways in which we can enact that resistance is with where we put our hard-earned and sometimes difficult to come by cash. Shannon Coulter brilliantly began something called the #GrabYourWallet campaign, a call to boycott all business carrying the Trump brand. An up-to-date list can be found here.

If you opened a link you will note that one of the first companies listed is Amazon.

Amazon is where you can find my recently released book, “Getting On With It.” It is currently the only distribution platform for that book.

The plan to publish there was made before the election, and I chose to follow through for the sake of consistency, the ease with which the Amazon as a platform makes it available to potential audience. I’m not going to pull my book, though the conflict of interest is quite painful to me. As an indie author the difficulty is obvious. Amazon is still the distribution platform with the largest reach.

I am also aware that during the #GrabYourWallet campaign, it is very likely that my numbers through that platform are likely to be lower than anticipated. Folks who might be drawn to read my work are very likely the same people engaging in #GrabYourWallet. Career-wise, I should be concerned about this, and I am, except not really. Some of this has to do with my perspective on writing and getting the work out. Slowly building an audience has been the expectation since I started self-publishing. The kind of success authors dream of is not something that happens overnight, it is even slower when you have very little budget. But there will be other projects, other work, other paths, other things to try. So I’m worried but not. Maybe it is more accurate to say that I am concerned more for this particular work than I am for my career overall.

That said, I hope that audience who were anticipating the work will not forget about it, and of course make the purchase eventually. (Link, for ease of discovery.) Digitally there will eventually be a release through Smashwords. Keep an eye on my various digital spaces for that.

I mentioned already that I can’t be the only indie-author using Amazon for distribution and struggling with this particular conundrum. But I also think that the situation we are facing offers something useful, at least for the #GrabYourWallet campaign. That useful thing is an argument. It might be a weak one, since corporations are not well-known for their conscience, and since individual indie authors have little impact on Amazon’s practices as a whole. However, as a collective our value to Amazon is more significant. The longer they carry the Trump brand, the longer our livelihoods might be impacted negatively. That is something that Amazon should consider. If we don’t make money, they don’t get their cut. I just mention this as something you can use when you speak up and tell Amazon why you aren’t shopping with them this year. Do I think it will contribute to a desirable outcome for the #GrabYourWallet campaign? I have no idea. But it is something to think about. It is something that can be leveraged.

So my question is, who has data? Because that would be useful going forward.

 

 

Random Bloggery: One of those writing days….

So today is one of those days in the writing life when I open up ye olde work in progress, stare at the screen, position my hands over the keyboard ready to write and then…. nothing. Most of the time, I just write without worrying about the outcome (something I learned how to do, in part by participating in NanoWrimo.) Most of the time, I am able to squeeze something out of my head and onto the page when I have set aside time to work on fiction, but these days do happen. As I write this blog it is still early in the day. Not even noon. But my brain seems to be spinning out a bit for some reason.

So, I take a deep breath, a step back, and consider where I am with the work.

And then I remember that I have a novel that is just about ready to be published. All I need is cover art and a few tweaks to the back cover blurb and BEHOLD A BOOK SHALL BE UNLEASHED UNTO THE WORLD.

Then I think, “Holy crap!”

And I remember how creative endeavors have their own cycles. When a project is this close to completion, it makes sense that I need to relax for a few beats about productivity  with first drafts. I always hit this moment and try to push through in spite of myself. And I also hit the same moment of frustration each time. There’s a moment when I have to put a lid on the self-generated pressure to produce. I have to remind myself that the words and ideas will still be there and it is okay to take a break.

It is kind of strange that this moment hits on the first day of NanoWrimo, the month in which word count is king. Maybe there is something there, though. Yes, push through, hit those goals, do your best to finish the thing, but its good to remind ourselves that we are human and need breaks. Take those five minutes, get a coffee, do that chore that you’ve been procrastinating on. Then come back to the writing work happy that you no longer have to do that irritating chore.

It seems counterintuitive but it is true that sometimes increasing productivity means taking a little break when you hit the wall. As a person with workaholic tendencies I can tell you that I have wasted time trying to push through when my brain simply would not co-operate. When I am self-aware enough to understand what’s going on I take that needed break and end up producing more and better work than I might have without it. The thing is that it’s hard to recognize when that moment hits sometimes. Everyone’s cognitive/creative process is different, nuanced, and only we can know when a break will benefit us and when it will not. Advice? Pay attention to yourself to figure out when that is. I said before that you can learn a lot about your own process when you participate in NanoWrimo. This could be one of the things.

 

 

 

Hey Look! A Blog Post! And a Song! And Me on a Stage in Chicago! WUT?

Hello interwebs, are you out there? I am still here. DESPITE THE ODDS, I’M STILL STANDING! *somebody queue the Elton John*

Right now I am listening to Peggy Sue and considering all of the things that have happened so far in 2016. A lot has been going on in Reggie-land. There has been a unbelievable mix of amazing and terrible things here this year. There has been a lot to process, I’m still not sure it has all registered which is a long way of saying that if I have been silent in this space for too long, there are Reasons. Yes, that capital r is intentional. For purposes of this post, I shall set aside the terrible for the moment and focus on the amazing.

It might be a bit late, but can we talk about the Nebula Awards from May of 2016? BECAUSE I WAS THERE AND IT WAS AWESOME. There have been more timely write-ups of the event than the one you will find here. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible it was to be there. The SFF community is a vibrant, welcoming place and I was lucky to be able to attend. The conversations alone were well worth the trip to Chicago. It was a once in a lifetime experience. This is literally true as it was the SFWA’s 50th anniversary.

In honor of that, Henry Lien, aka Emperor Stardust, composed and performed an anthem. I am honored to be able to say I helped, a little. And yes, it does mean that for a few glowing seconds of my life, I shared a stage with some of SFF’s luminaries, and John Hodgman. Yes. THAT John Hodgman.

There is videographic evidence of this help which can be viewed here.

And, for purposes of more visual fun, here is a gratuitous still shot:

Nebulas2016dance

 

 

I am perhaps most proud of the fact that I managed NOT to pee my pants.

I think that’s a good note with which to end this post. A pee-free pair of pants is always a good thing. Right?

 

…So here’s something kick-ass that happened…

13 Morbid Tales by Devon Miller HAS BEEN RELEASED INTO THE WILD!

The officially official release date is meant to be October 1, but for all intents and purposes it is available.

You might be asking why I’m bouncing around like a kid with a serious sugar buzz. Mostly I am just really excited for my friend. And, uh, I edited it. Which is also cool.

She also put my name on the cover which is a huge honor. I am proud to be tangentially a part of this collection, and excited to say, CONGRATULATIONS, DEVON!

WOOO!

13MorbidCover

 

Random Thoughts: Writerly Despair and Other Cold Treat Flavors

Oh my. It seems to be going around. I got hit with it this week. You know, that thing that happens when you wonder what the point of doing this work is. Despair. The only thing you can really do is wait until that giant wave of mutilation recedes back.

I was lucky this time. It only lasted a day. Sometime around the middle of a bout of writerly despair there’s this stage where I start to panic about how much time I wasted and what on earth am I going to do NOW?

Then you calm down, if you are lucky, and eventually the sense of despair (which comes in may forms, for many reasons) goes away. (In my case, the despair was brought on by how far behind I am on projects because of a week and half of computer issues. Holy crap, you guys, I am MONTHS behind. But you know, I’m the boss, so maybe I am being a bit of an asshole.) Of course you keep writing because really, if you are a writer (and I think this is true for other artists) what else IS there?

But I wonder if this cycle happens for non-fiction writers, too?

I wonder if this happens in other kinds of work, and maybe, we just don’t see it because it manifests differently, or for different reasons, or people in other careers just don’t talk as much about their Astrophysicisterly Despair. Is there an anhedonia particular to, for example, parking attendants? It sounds silly, but I’m being perfectly sincere about this.

I wonder about this because while it seems obvious to us that some careers would naturally have serious moments of darkness and despair, we don’t think about whether other types of jobs have those same moments.

I am fairly certain that those of us with day jobs in the service industry experience career-related cycles of despair daily. Probably once about every five minutes.

What do you guys think?

 

The Love/Hate Blog Challenge: The Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About Balancing Day Job with Writing

I have been TAGGED! Lillian Csernica invited me to participate in the Love/Hate Blog Challenge. She wrote about what she loves/hates about being creative here. The challenge is to write a list of top ten things you love/hate about a thing. I HERETOFORE ISSUE THE CHALLENGE TO Emma Leigh and Devon Miller!

Love:

1) Even if I have a slow writing day, I can at least feel like I have done something productive.

2) Paychecks are good. They pay bills.

3) The day job provides structure, which forces focus and sticking to a writing schedule which, in my case, usually helps with productivity.

4) Retail enables you to witness all kinds of mundane and bizarre behavior and forces you into conversations with folks, both lovely and awful, you might not speak to otherwise. This can be great for the writer-brain.

5) You learn weird stuff. Writer-brain loves learning weird stuff.

6) Unlike the act of writing, in the day job you are not alone in terms of making stuff happen.

7) That feeling when you finally get to clock out for the day and you can’t wait to get back to the writing.

8) As an introverted writer-person, there is a very real possibility that without someplace I am obligated to be I would isolate a little too much. Human beings are wired for contact with other human beings no matter our level of introversion. It helps the brain stay relatively healthy.

9)  When you work for someone else there’s a certain amount of control about what you are going to do with your day that you, necessarily, give up. Sometimes (not often) that can be a relief.

10) It forces much needed distance between me and the work. When I come back to the writing project, sometimes I find that the forced distance was exactly what I needed to move forward.

 

Hate:

1) OMG! I’M HAVING ALL OF THE BEST IDEAS RIGHT NOW BUT ALL I CAN ACTUALLY DO IS STEAM THIS EFFING SHRIMP!

2) GAAAA!!! If I didn’t have to pay bills I could be writing instead!

3) Sometimes the schedule changes and writer-brain cannot always adapt quickly, which causes frustration.

4) Sometimes you’d just rather not interact with the public for the very same reasons that you like to interact with the public.

5) When a shift is busy/arduous enough that by the end of it, you don’t have the energy or focus to write, like you planned to do.

6) In the day job you are not alone in terms of making stuff happen. (Oh, where is my sweet, sweet solitude!)

7) When a shift is too slow and you feel like, except for the money, you are wasting time that could be more productively spent writing.

8) *grumble grumble* Obligations. *grumble grumble* People wanting things.

9) When you work for someone else there’s a certain amount of control about what you are going to do with your day that you, necessarily, give up.

10) It forces much needed distance between me and the work. When I come back to the writing project, sometimes I find that the forced distance makes it harder to recapture what I was trying to accomplish.

Random Thoughts: Recent Internet Kerfuffles

So in recent days there have been a lot of authors chased off the internet and out of genres due to an increase of internet hostilities to creative folks. It’s sad and disappointing. It has always been true that the second you do anything in public you open yourself up to criticism, but there’s a kind of cruelty about it that is disheartening. It’s particularly disheartening for those of us who have yet to garner enough attention to make bank on our books. We use the internet, partly, to get the word out about our work. It is necessary, not just for authors and creators, but all businesses to engage in some sort of internet signal boosting activity.

Folks are not getting chased offline for advertising their wares.

They are getting chased offline for having conversations.

Self-imposed rules about what is okay to talk about online, personally, won’t save you.

Having a lot of friends online in your corner won’t save you.

I don’t know what the answer is to keep this kind of thing from happening. I do know that without some of those bolder authors willing to have earnest conversations about serious issues, the quality of my online reading is lessened. Most of the time, I like to be silly, or talk about writing (which is serious but doesn’t seem to be as rife with conflict). But when other folks are working to unpack serious topics I pay attention. I sit on the sidelines a lot, taking it all in. It’s part of my personality to observe and assess and take the time to gather my own thoughts before weighing in on something. Sometimes, what I see prevents me from saying anything at all. Caveat, if I am honest, serious conversations are something I would rather do in person, not in front of a blinking screen. That isn’t new to me either.

But it might be new to some other folks whose first instinct is to dive into the fray. This bothers me, because I gain from their discourse. I think we all do, if we absorb it thoughtfully.

As an author, I have yet to reach a level where I have a ton of strangers paying attention to what I’m doing. I’ve been lucky, not faced with the hostility or melodrama that some of my friends have had to deal with in the online sphere. I hear stories that verify it makes no difference what level you are at in terms of making your creative work public.

It’s making me think about how to go forward with what I’m doing online. I probably won’t change too much. Silliness and writerly check-ins, book-talk and enthusiasm about music shall continue. But I do think about when that will change. If it will have to.

But I’m not sure there’s a way to prepare. As knowledgeable as story tellers are about the power of words, I’m not sure there’s a tried and true strategy to use against the hurtful ones.

Some of this, for me, comes back to the whole etiquette of gift-giving. When someone whose work you love is willing to engage in this sphere as openly and earnestly as some of the authors who have been targeted, that is a gift. These are busy people, some of them do not have to do this.

And there are some folks who like to poop on gifts.

Pooping on gifts = gross.

Thank you, that is all…

…for now.