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The cover for the first book that I will be releasing in 2017.

So a book that I had hoped to have published later next year just isn’t going to happen. I’m still finding too many gaps in my research that I need to fill in. If that turns out to be impossible to do, then I will have to reframe the story to minimize the need to have those gaps filled in. Either way, I’ve got a lot more work to do than I thought I did.

That messes up my publishing schedule for next year. I had planned to have out a new historical fiction novel, a non-fiction history book, and a short historical fiction ebook all under James Rada, Jr. I also wanted to publish a paperback edition of a horror ebook that I wrote as J. R. Rada and a new ebook collection and the second book in a middle reader series as J. R. Rada. Postponing one of the books had a domino effect on the others.

Enter one of the nice advantages of self-publishing. It’s flexible.

I love the Marvel cinematic universe. Not only do I get to see the classic superheroes of my youth come to life, but I love the interconnected movies. However, Marvel Studios plans those movie release dates years and years in advance nowadays. I think I saw where they had some movies planned for 2020 releases and beyond.

So what happens if one of those movies of a particular superhero flops? What if the superhero movie dies off? What if they can’t get a successful actor to extend his or her contract?

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The Marvel movie schedule that was released earlier in 2016 and has already had to change.

They’ve already had some kinks in their well laid-out plans. The Inhumans movie got pushed back and may be cancelled for instance. On TV, they actually added a Punisher TV series to their plans because the character from the Daredevil series turned out to be so popular.

When you are a behemoth like Marvel, making those types of changes is like tossing a big boulder into a pond. It creates a big splash with a lot of ripples.

I know some indie authors who make far-reaching plans like Marvel, but what happens when they run into unforeseen problems?

I like to plan my publishing schedule out a year in advance, but I keep it fairly loose. It only starts to firm up as we draw closer to the end of the year. Meanwhile, I have a lot of projects partially written or outlined that I review every so often just to update.

Being flexible as an indie publisher means that I was able to move the project that needed more work into my unscheduled active project pile. I looked at what I had that might fill the gap while not totally sucking up so much of my research time that I couldn’t work on the delayed project.

I even looked at the other projects. I am trying to keep things fairly balanced between the two names that I write under, fiction and non-fiction, and the different geographic areas where I have strong sales. Removing that one book, caused me to make some other changes to my schedule as well.

My point is that I was able to do so. I have a new publishing schedule for 2017 with just as many projects that hits my goals. I think it is a version that will work because I’m feeling the excitement that I feel when things click into place. It’s an aggressive schedule that I can meet with new exciting books, and this time next year, I’ll have even more projects planned, some brand new and some from my unscheduled pile.

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Is writing full-time all it’s cracked up to be? Should authors seize the chance if offered? Is it worth aspiring to? Join our lively debate on the blog!

Source: Writing full-time – good or bad? | Self-Publishing Advice Center

 

swlogoWhen I started putting out my books as ebooks, I was initially overwhelmed. Just consider all of the platforms that sell ebooks: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks and Overdrive to name a few. Was I going to have to prepare my manuscript to meet the standards of each one?

Then I discovered Smashwords.com. It’s an aggregator of e-book platforms. I could upload my book once and have it converted to all of the necessary e-publishing platforms and then appear on the different sites. It was a godsend.

The site is pretty easy to use, too. You fill out book information and then upload a cover and the interior of the book. Smashwords converts the book into the appropriate platforms and then sends it out to the different retailers.

The one problem I have found myself having of late is that to qualify for a listing with all of those retailers, you have to format your book to certain specs. It was no problem for my novels. I just followed the tips that Mark Coker, the owner, posts for formatting and the process went smoothly.

The problem I run into is with my non-fiction books, which contain pictures. The pictures apparently cause a lot of problems in the conversion process. I must have tried six times to get my last book uploaded properly, but something kept going wrong. I think I may have it figured out, though, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for the next book I upload. (FYI, I will be setting my pictures at 96 dpi instead of 300 dpi. The latter is the standard for print publication. Since I’m not doing the print version, the web standard for pictures works fine.)

I haven’t made as much use of Smashwords as I can, which is something I’m trying to remedy. The site offers some useful tools for indie authors. You can easily change the book pricing. Unlike Amazon KDP, Smashwords allows you to make your books free of charge for an indefinite period. You can also alter how much someone can read of your book for free.

You can also use a set of marketing tools. Create coupons. Post an author interview. Link books in a series together.

These are just a few things that I’ve discovered so far.

Despite the advantages of using Smashwords, I also use Amazon KDP for the Kindle versions of my books. It does require some extra work to prepare the manuscript again, but most Kindle users buy their Kindle e-books from Amazon. I found that when I started publishing directly with Amazon KDP, my Kindle sales jumped considerably.

Still, uploading two versions of my books is a far cry from having to upload six versions. Now I just need to find the best ways to use the marketing tools at my disposal.

checklist-clipart-response-clipart-clipart-pencil-checklistWhen I mention freelance writing, what type of writing jumps to mind? Here’s the types of freelancing I’ve done: newsletters, columns, newspaper articles, magazine articles, short stories, novels, ads, brochures, direct mail, radio scripts, catalogs and press releases. They’re all types of freelance writing.

Freelance writing is what someone is willing to pay you involving writing. I even throw in speaking, magazine editing and teaching as part of my work.

The way I look at it, you can divide your freelance writing into three areas based on who will be reading.

  • Public Writing – This is writing for the general public. It includes stories, novels, a lot of what writing, magazines, etc. It tends not to pay as well as other types of writing, but you get more recognition.
  • Business Writing – This is writing for businesses, such as ads, brochures, direct mail. You need more refined skills and understanding of marketing. It pays better than public writing.
  • Scientific Writing – This type of writing can be very technical. Often it seems to be done by writers who are scientist or other experts first and writers second. You need to be able to break things down and rebuild them. It pays very well.

Writers tend to specialize in one of these areas. During my first stint as a freelance writer, my specialty would have been scientific. My current specialty is public writing. As your writing career grows, you will get opportunities to expand into other areas if you want to. It’s up to you whether you want to take them on. It will give you a chance to expand your horizons.

The important thing is to find the area that brings you the most satisfaction. I find myself having to find a lot more assignments than I used to during my first time as a freelance writer. However, I am enjoying myself a lot more now. It doesn’t really feel like a job. That’s what you’re aiming for.

 

 

mail-order-mysteries-coverIf you grew up reading comic books, you probably saw ads for things like x-ray glasses or sea monkeys. If you are like me, you may have even ordered a couple items.

Mail-Order Mysteries looks at the products behind those seductive mail-order ads that graced the pages of my favorite superhero titles. Most of the time, I skipped over the ads because I wanted to see what Spider-Man or the X-Men would do next. On the third and fourth readings, though, I slowed down and scanned the ads.

Mail-Order Mysteries reprints many of those ads, and I am surprised at how many I still remember, especially since it has been more than 30 years since I’ve read a comic with ads in them. Demarais shows the ad and then breaks the copy into four sections: We Imagined, They Sent, Behind the Mystery, and Customer Satisfaction.20161115_082746

We Imagined is what kids probably thought that they were ordering. They Sent is the physical description with a few background details. Also, there is often a picture of the actual item. Behind the Mystery explains more about item, such as how it technically meets the description in the ad without meeting youthful expectations. Customer Satisfaction was a quippy remark about whether the item was worth it or not. For instance, on the page about stamped pennies, Customer Satisfaction reads “Senseless cents.”

The products are grouped by type in chapters. They are: Superpowers and Special Abilities, War Zone, House of Horrors, High Finance, Better Living Through Mail Order, Top Secret, Trickery, and Oddities. The book is also attractively laid out with lots of photos. Having both the ad and the product to compare is like a before and after shot.

Demarais has a large collection of these old mail-order items. Although these cost just a buck or two when I was a kid and were usually junk, nowadays, they often sell for many times their original cost on eBay.

20161115_082804There’s no story to this book. It’s a fun trip down Memory Lane and takes me back to my childhood. After reading it, I dug out my collection of Wacky Packages and California Raisins to enjoy once more. I guess I’m as big a nerd as Demarais is, but who cares? It’s nice to remember simpler times.

Customer Satisfaction: Childish delight.

Here are some other pages about Mail-Order Mysteries:

 

Man Relaxing Behind Stack of DocumentsYou can certainly jump right into full-time freelance writing without any preparation. It’s the sink-or-swim method. I can’t say that that way works for most people, but maybe you’re one of the lucky few. Either way, you are certainly making it much harder on yourself to succeed.

I speak from experience on this. The first time I became a full-time freelance writer in the 1990s, I just jumped right in with no work or clients lined up. It was extremely stressful. I was working harder and longer hours than I had ever done before.

The second time I became a full-time freelance writer about 10 years ago was unexpected, but I was actually better prepared than I had been the first time.

Why? Because I had already started doing some part-time freelance writing on the side about six months earlier. I was lucky enough to have a boss who said that as long as the story wasn’t something that could run in the newspaper I was editing, he didn’t mind me freelance writing. Not all bosses are that kind. I had one boss try to tell that I couldn’t do any paid writing outside of the newspaper that I was writing for whether or not it was something that the paper could publish.

Ease into freelance writing. Start writing while you still have a regular paycheck. That way you can gain clients and experience. If you are really new to the writing game, you may need to make your first freelance assignments free or at a very low price in order to get clips. You might also need to do this even if you have experience but are trying to break into a new area. If you have a regular paycheck from a full-time job, you can do this without too much worry.

I would also recommend not specializing in a certain area, at least not at first. That was a mistake I made my first time freelancing. I had a few people lined up who were all part of the biotech industry. The work paid well, but it put me in a narrow pocket that I had a lot of trouble digging out of when I needed to.

Some freelancers can specialize right from the start, but because of that early experience I had just writing biotech materials, I’ve always felt like its too much like putting your eggs in one basket.

The second time I started freelancing, I started out as a generalist. I have developed specialty areas over the years, though. For example, I once pitched a Spanish flu story to a magazine. The editor liked the idea, but wanted it to look more at modern flu, too. So I wrote it from that angle (another reason to query) and turned in a health story. This lead to another health story with the same magazine about colds. With two clippings of health articles, I was able to successfully other health articles.

Another reason to start freelancing on a part-time basis rather than full-time is that it allows you time to build up a savings account that you can run your freelance business from until the checks start coming in regularly. This is called capitalization and under capitalization is the main reason that most businesses fail within 5 years. While freelancing doesn’t require as much capitalization, it does require some, particularly since it may be a month or more before you get paid after turning in an article.

Your overall goal starting out is to build your business. You do that by any means possible. At this early stage you can’t afford to be too choosy. Try everything. You never know what will work or not. Once you can start making a living and reach the point where you can’t fit more in, then you can begin prioritize and cut the least profitable areas from your business.

It’s a nice position to be in.

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Discussion Post

Books don’t really get banned anymore in the United States.  Yes, we still hear of challenges.  Perhaps a mother requests that her child’s school library not carry a certain book anymore.  Or maybe a group of parents will ask a school board to take certain selections off the school reading list.  These are clearly serious cases of censorship where some individuals try to deny all individuals access to a book of which they do not approve.  But there are few cases where the challenge is accepted or where we hear of a large-scale ban on a book.  Usually the book is still available in other places, through other avenues.

Most Americans, or at least most readers would, I think, respond to the majority of these cases with outrage.  We take our rights very seriously and do not like to hear anyone challenging our freedom of speech.  Even if we personally…

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weight-loss-scale-clipart-5-things-the-scale-won-t-tell-dkfa60-clipartI started a diet a week and a half ago. It’s going well. I’m down 17 pounds in 12 days. I’m not even hungry usually. I am missing my favorite foods – burritos, tacos, stromboli. I count them in my sleep instead of sheep.

The reason I do bring this up is that my diet distracts me from my work every once in a while.

If I’m buried in a particular project and not paying attention, then things usually go well. The problem comes about when I start to feel hungry. Then I can’t get lost in my project. I try to concentrate on my work, but then my slight hunger pains pull my attention to my belly.

Hopefully, as I continue to lose weight, my hunger pains will lessen and when I do have them, I’ll have trained myself to focus more on my work.

In the end, if I hit my goal weight, it will be worth the inconvenience. I am already lighter than I’ve been since February 2014.

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untitledI got a chance to go on television again the other week. The first time was last year when my co-author and I went on PCN’s PA Books to talk about The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg. I’m not sure how much it boosted my book sales, but at least I got a chance to put it out there. I also heard back from some people who saw the show.

I was on the WHAG Sunday Newsmaker program on October 16. I got to talk about freelance writing and three of my books (although only two books made it into the clips on the web site). Here are the different clips if you’d like to take a peek. Enjoy!

Here are some other posts that you might like:

Here’s something that I was thinking about last night. There’s no right answer, but I would be very curious as to the reason why you answer the way that you do.

Let’s start with the assumption that you are a very successful writer (Yay!), now would you:download

  • Want to have authored a book that that was a mega-bestseller and then spend the rest of your career not writing anything close to that successful again? This is where J. K. Rowling is right now, although she may still write something more successful than Harry Potter, it’s hard to imagine it happening.
  • Want to write books that sell well, although none can be considered a breakout novel? I would say, another favorite author of mine, David Baldacci, fits this model. He writes consistently good thriller so that there’s not one particular title that he’s best-known for.
  • Want to write regularly and have some of your novels become bestsellers, but then have your other novels be considered subpar?
  • Write a book every five to 10 years, but have those novels be bestsellers?

david-baldacci-book-listThere are advantages and disadvantages to each option. It depends on what you are looking for from your writing career?

Money? Then the first option might be what you want. Like Rowling, you could make a lot of money this way and be set for life, but I don’t think I would like working the rest of my life trying to recapture that early glory. I guess this could be called the “peaked too soon option.”

A long-lasting career? Then the second option might be you. This is the one I think I would like, although I wouldn’t say “no” to any of them. I have a lot of ideas. This option would mean that I am able to write and have them published regularly and have them sell well. The money is good, but it doesn’t give Warren Buffet any competition.

Critical acclaim? Then the last option might be what you strive for. With this option, you would be considered one of the best writers out there, but you might not be able to make such a great living at it. Each book makes you good money, but it has to be spread out over a number of years.

The third option is a combination of the second and fourth. You publish regularly and would have regular income, but your writing would be inconsistent. When you hit the mark, it’s a bullseye, but otherwise, you hit in the outer rings.

As I said, I think my ideal would be option number two, but that’s for me and my personality. What is your choice?

 

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