Alycia Christine

Enchanting Tales, Intriguing Art

Tag: marketing

Writing as a Business: What Writers Really Do All Day

Serpentine_Trails-4x6ACWriting fiction is a delightful hobby and a grueling profession. There is really no other way to explain it. I’ve run into many people who think that fiction writers must have the easiest job in the world because we get “to sit around all day and make stuff up.” Thank you, guys and gals, for that awesome assessment. It’s a sweet notion, it really is, but playing in the sandbox of my own imagination is only a small part of what I actually do on a daily basis.

The real truth is that while I deal in a form of written entertainment based on invented worlds and made-up characters, the business side of my profession is anything but make-believe. On the economic side, I need to know how consumer demand affects my book supply and the revenue stream that comes from the resulting sales. On the accounting side, I have to understand my company’s profit margins, gross income, net income, required taxes, and a slew of other things. On the organizational side of things, I have budget my time between making new product (writing story rough drafts), refining that product (rewriting my stories), quality control (copy editing and proof reading), producing the product (publishing books in e-book formats like .mobi or .epub and publishing print books in hardback or paperback versions), distributing my books online (through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or even my own website), distributing in person (through conventions and writing events), and marketing my stories (in person at events and online through different websites and social media).

In the beginning of my career when writing was little more than a glorified hobby, I didn’t worry about most of this stuff. I just wrote and rewrote my work. I figured that economics, production, design, and book marketing were things that my publisher would always handle. Then I went indie. Now all of a sudden, my business model has expanded to include every stage of book production and all of the extra responsibilities that go with it. I love the challenge, but the amount of work has left me breathless more than once.

I am my own company. If something doesn’t get accomplished at my office, it’s usually because I didn’t do it. I do everything from the actual writing and rewriting of a book to its cover art design, its final formatting, publishing, and distribution. What I don’t do myself (for quality control and time-constraint reasons), I still oversee. I’m charge of finding the beta readers, copy editor, proof reader, and publicists for each book I publish.

As hard as I work, I simply can’t do it all. To make sure that each and every story I produce is the best that it can be, I need thorough, honest, dependable collaborators at every stage of the process. Good beta readers are just as essential to a book’s development as a professional editor. A savvy publicist is just as important to a book’s visibility as a wide-ranging distributor. And good writing is the beating heart of it all. This means that if I can’t deliver my very best, no one else can give their best either.

Are all of the time and work and money I put forth, worth it? I think so. The time I spend playing in the sandbox of my imagination has a high cost of admission no matter whether I’m an independent author, a traditionally published author, or a hybrid. That being said, I took on all of this publishing responsibility to make sure my time playing in the sandbox is as valuable to readers as it is to this writer.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

The Flights of August

Green_Sea_Flock-4x6ACAugust is going well so far. My intrepid forays into flights of fancy have resulted in my working on three very different writing projects at once. I’m having a thoroughly fun time putting each of the stories together as well as doing several other good things.

Since the last full update in July, I have:

Writing:

Continued writing Thorn and Thistle. As of yesterday, I’ve completed 23,800 words on the project. The story has taken a couple of interesting twist that I’ll have to resolve very soon so progress is a hair slower than I expected, but taking the extra time is proving valuable. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Began writing “The Ballerina” short story. I’m not very far along on this story. Right now it is little more than a single scene. I expect this story to be a bit of tear-jerker when I get finished with it, but we’ll see.

Wrote “The Cleaning” short story. This is a short story that topped out around 1800 words. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in pure power. It still needs a decent round of edits, but I can’t wait to publish this!

Received a rejection letter about Skinshifter from a publisher. The company cannot take on new authors at this time, but the editor did ask me to resubmit in six months, so I’m quite pleased about that.

Photography and Graphic Design:

Photographed pieces of real estate for several clients.

Posted new art photography on my website: “Rivulets in Gray” and “Green Sea Flock”.

Drew and inked a new design called “Frond Droplets”.

Reading:

Continued reading the Bible. I finished the Gospel of Luke and am now reading Acts.

Began reading The Naked Truth About Self Publishing. This particular book is an excellent resource for writers who are trying the independent or hybrid publishing routes. One word of caution: the book was written by several bestselling romance authors so, while the advice is great, the chapter titles are pretty raunchy.

Began reading Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton for fun and research. I’m enjoying the read so far.

Read a few Writer’s Digest articles. I love this magazine! Its articles have definitely helped me improve my writing skills over the years.

Gaming:

Played Jumbline.

Played Munin.

Played Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights.

Played Minecraft.

Other:

Updated my 2014 company business plan and began writing my 2015 business plan.

Culled and filled office papers in my filing cabinets.

Completed writing, editing, and sent author interview to BookReview.Ninja.com.

Created a Musings book giveaway on Goodreads. By the way, there are only 11 more days to enter the contest!

Organized the books and decorations in the library.

Taught Children’s Church while my husband was gone on business trips

Had repairs done on a kitchen cabinet.

My goals for the next four weeks are to:

Finish the rough draft of Thorn and Thistle.

Finish the rough draft of “The Ballerina”.

Finish editing “The Cleaning”.

Create e-book cover art for the three stories.

Continue marketing Musings in places online.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

How Life Has Changed Since Publication Day

Palm_Fans-4x6ACSince the Musings Publication Day on June 20, I have given my first interview and spent much of my time trying to wrap my head around this whole crazy thing called marketing. For someone like me, who quite prefers a life lived behind the curtain rather than in the spotlight, the idea of giving interviews, autographs, speeches, etc. is horribly daunting. I am beyond flattered when people ask me to sign copies of their books, but there is also a severe amount of shock that washes over me when I see someone holding my work in their hands. Even after all of my hard labor, it’s still difficult to believe that my writing is finally public. Because my writing is so personal, the bizarreness of that fact hasn’t worn off yet.

It also seems that publishing a book is, in many ways, the real beginning of the work’s true existence. Now that its packaged and made public, I have to find ways of getting Musings into the hands of more readers and making those readers excited enough to talk about the work themselves. Readers often get excited about a book because they hear how awesome it is from someone else. That means that I need reviews and press coverage, which means I need lots of people to read the book, which means I need to entice readers to read the book without any reviews already given. For a new author, this circular marketing circus is quite overwhelming.

So what have I done in response to this challenge? Well, two of the things I do best: research and writing. I’ve written over 10,000 words in new fiction material in the past four weeks, which is completely unrelated to Musings. That being said, I have also researched as many review outlets as I could, so that I know where best to spend my marketing budget. I’ve done small amounts of marketing already. Now, however, I plan to throw some serious money and time into the game in the next couple of weeks to help spread word of mouth and drive up book sales. Thanks to a few readers, a couple of reviews have already started to trickle in, but I still need many more. If you’ve read the book, please post a short review on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, or another great book seller. I will be forever grateful! Thank you!

In the meantime, here is what else I’ve been doing to occupy my time.

Since the last full update in June, I have:

Writing:

Continued writing Thorn and Thistle. My original assumption that this story would be a novelette was completely wrong. As of yesterday, I’ve jumped into novella territory with 17,700 words written and still going strong. I’m working steadily toward the story’s climax, but have yet to reach that final act. The tension keeps building with every scene. I’m actually on the edge of my seat as I write because I desperately want to know what happens next even though I already have the story’s ending in mind. Writing is so much fun!

Sent a query letter about Skinshifter to a publisher. I’m still waiting for a reply.

Photography and Graphic Design:

Posted new art photography on my website: “Marbled Patterns”, “Palacio del Rio in Christmas Colors”, and “Palm Fans”.

Photographed pieces of real estate for several clients.

Photographed plants and wildlife while in South Texas. The “Palm Fans” photo at the beginning of this post is from the South Texas shoot.

Finished my graphic design project for the West of the Pecos Rodeo. Despite the fact that we had to go back to black and white ads this year, the program turned out great!

Reading:

Continued reading Jesus Today by Sarah Young.

Continued reading the Bible. I am almost finished reading the Gospel of Luke. I love Jesus’ advice in this particular book. He is so straight-forward and to-the-point with his examples, parables, and explanations.

Continued reading Duty by former Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert M. Gates. I seem to be stalled on this book. I read voraciously for a few minutes and then get distracted by some project that must be done. I fault myself far more than Gates for this since political memoirs are not my usual choice of reading material. I’ll keep working on it.

Finished reading the From the Indie Side anthology. It is a very entertaining and well-written collection of short stories boasting a wide range of voices, styles, and themes. Anyone who thinks that self-published authors can’t write as well as traditionally-published authors will be pleasantly proven wrong by this book. 4 out 5 stars.

Finished reading On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers. On the whole, I found this pirate book to be a mixed bag. Its unique blend of historical figures and places in combination with fictional characters and magic was certainly interesting and well-developed. Powers’ action scenes are also great. Overall, though, the book’s pacing and character continuity just felt off. Several action scenes of serious swashbuckling proportion are followed by lots and lots of drinking and lazing about on the beach. Our protagonist is gung-ho about righting the wrongs in his life and protecting the damsel in distress and then he isn’t until once again he is. The main character’s mercurial attitude and wishy-washy motivations confused me. I found myself relating better to the book’s villains (who were absolutely horrible people) more than the hero because I at least understood their motivations and could clearly see those motivations inspire their actions. I also wish that the voodoo magic system had been a little more spelled out in terms of the loa and how they interacted directly with the characters and the world. We find that one loa in particular favors the main character, but we’re never really told why. This book was well-written in terms of grammar, spelling, imagery, and world-building, but it felt like the story needed more developmental editing to tie all of the sub-plots together better and clarify some of the characters actions. I give the book 3 out of 5 stars.

Read all of Getting Life by Michael Morton. This was one of those rare nonfiction books that I devoured over a single weekend. Morton’s account of his wrongful conviction for the murder of his wife and then his subsequent 25-year incarceration in some of Texas’ scariest prisons is riveting and, seemingly, quite accurate. Throughout the work Morton’s dry humor helps to propel the story forward and defuse some of the angst in his account. I found his writing style both honest and well-balanced. 5 out of 5 stars.

Gaming:

Played Jumbline.

Played Munin. This is a puzzle game that is based on Norse mythology. The puzzles are challenging, but not stupidly so. So far, I’m really enjoying this game.

Played Peggle Deluxe. Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights are goof-off games in the best sense of the phrase. They are somewhat similar to a pinball game. The main objective is to hit and destroy all of the orange pegs on a particular level of the game before you run out of balls to shoot. Sometimes this can prove quite easy; many other times, it’s the most frustrating thing in the world. I love it!

Other:

Enjoyed the MUSINGS Release Day on June 20 with my friends and family.

Took the full weekend of June 21-22 off to help celebrate Musings publication.

Accidentally glued my eye shut while trying to repair a car headliner. Don’t worry, after four days of warm water compresses, my left eye was thankfully back to normal with no damage done. There are still traces of superglue in my eyelashes though. Next time, I absolutely will wear safety gear!

Talked with my husband on the phone a lot while he was his three-week-long business trip.

Volunteered during the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

Took a short road trip to South Texas to visit family.

Had to repair my broken car door window. Thanks to the West Texas heat (110+ degrees F in summer), the rear passenger door window motor quit working. Consequently I had a local auto repair man work on my vehicle this morning. Not only did he fix the window for a reasonable price, but he also restored my headlights. My car looks almost brand new!

My goals for the next four weeks are to:

Continue work on the rough draft of Thorn and Thistle. I would love to see this story finished by the end of August, but that depends on the story’s final length. At this point, I have given up on word count estimates. I assume that the story is a novella (a story that is somewhere between 17,501-40,000 words in length), but that is all I’m willing to assume.

Find out more about how to set up book readings and signings for Musings around my local area.

Begin marketing Musings in places online.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

How Does an Artwork Sale Lead to a New Year’s Resolution?

Sparked_Sky-4x6ACI can’t believe it is New Year’s Eve! It seems to me that the year of 2013 just pulled a vanishing act. The month of December in particular has flitted past my awareness faster than a white rabbit disappearing inside a magician’s hat.

Speaking of vanishing, I must remind you all that today marks the last day of my Photography Sale. If you have not had the chance to purchase some of my gorgeous artwork, don’t delay any longer. Remember to use the Discount Code YMHLAA in your shopping cart to receive your savings. Okay, I promise I’m finished advertising. Now it’s on to the rest of today’s post!

Ever since I posted my Christmas sale, I’ve been hard at work doing a thorough review of my work accomplishments this year. If that sounds a little boring to you, believe me when I say that it often is for me, too. I mean I do love seeing all of the things I’ve created and improved over the past 12 months, but I also hate discovering all of the things that I failed to do.

There were several things that I did very well this year:
 

    • Created and scheduled maintenance of AlyciaChristine.com
    • Increased of my blog writing from monthly to weekly
    • Maintained my Tuesday posting schedule
    • Updated my photography website with new photos frequently
    • Used new photos to add interest to my weekly blog posts
    • Kept up with my daily and weekly house chores
    • Began and maintained daily Bible readings
  •  
    All of these things are wonderful personal accomplishments. However, there were several problems this year that must be addressed and corrected. Chief among these is my fiction writing schedule. While my weekly blog writing was regular, my weekly fiction word count was anything but steady. Most weeks saw one or two days in which I wrote strong word counts, while most other days I wrote little more than a sentence. There were also several weeks in which I didn’t manage to write anything at all. This major lack of consistency led to delays in finishing stories of all lengths and consequently caused me to fall behind on most of my year-end tasks.

    If I am going succeed in writing, then I will have to put it first before all of my other major jobs. With that in mind, I made the following list of Goals for 2014:
     
    Writing:

      • 300 or more daily word count total for fiction (1500 words minimum per week)
      • SCRAWLS & Flashes of Perspective blogs maintained weekly
      • Fireforger: at least 3 chapters written

    Photography:

      • Find a stock photography outlet for my work
      • Continue to sale new photos to my photography website (at least 1 new photo uploaded per week)

    Marketing:

      • Twitter maintained daily
      • Facebook maintained weekly
      • Newsletter maintained monthly
      • Amazon.com: Alycia C. Cooke author account made and maintained monthly
      • GoodReads author account maintained monthly
      • Maintain AlyciaChristine.com website with regular updates
      • AlyciaChristine.com: Build an “Opt-In” button for free copy of a short story to build contact list

    Personal:

      • Exercise body at least 20 minutes every weekday (bike rides, karate, weight lifting, etc.)
      • Exercise soul once a day (prayer and Bible-reading time)
      • Exercise mind once a day (learn something new every day; read for fun and information every week)
      • Learn to properly prioritize my jobs
      • Finish what I start (nip procrastination in the bud)

     
    My plan is to use the small daily word count goals to increase my confidence and then increase them later. I have also simplified my goals in other areas to help improve my writing. If I write only 300 words every workday of 2014, I will have a total of 75,000 words by the end of 2014. This word count will allow me to meet and even surpass my larger book-writing goals for the year as long as I stay focused. I find time management and prioritization very difficult, so I hope the smaller daily goals will help me combat those issues.

    One final note on Musings: my beta readers have asked me to reorganize of the book’s included stories. Specifically they feel that the “Elza and Eliza” short story is not a good fit for the overall book and suggest that I publish it on its own or as part of a different collection. I have to agree with their assessment. The story’s longer length and its particular plot have more in common with the Sylvaeleth worlds discussed in Skinshifter and Dreamdrifter than any of the stories in Musings. Although it saddens me not to include “Elza and Eliza”, I promise that readers will see it sometime in the future.

    Consequently, Musings now includes the following stories:

    • “Banner Prophesies”
    • “Chosen Sacrifice”
    • “City of Twilight”
    • “Of Kelpie Lullabies”
    • “Raven’s Fall”
    • “Star Child and the Golden Seed”
    • “Sumari’s Solitude”
    • “What Tendrils Echo”
    • “Winter’s Charge”

    The final book will include a collection of 10 to 12 short stories, but I am not sure which ones will be added to the current list yet. Please keep watching the Blog and News pages for more updates. Thanks so much for your patience!

    Until our next meeting, have a joyful new year! May we each rewrite our world for the better!

    🙂 Alycia


    The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears with love, fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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