Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 10 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 10 Results

The Great Fiction Writing Challenge – Week 10 Results

Another book written and published. Brought back from the grave – well, at least purgatory. What you do when a story isn’t working. More below…


Written words – 10210
Fiction: 5456
Non-Fiction: (2 days out of 7) 4854
Published words free – 10210, paid – 5456 (all fiction)
Subscribers – Aweber: 4, Mailerlite: -30 (note below), MailChimp: 0, Rainmail (own site): 21 = +25 (-30)
Instafreebie – 0 (4 – see note)
Book sales – Amazon -0, PublishDrive – 0, StreetLib – 0, Draft2Digital – 0: Total – 0

Posts this week:

An Email Subscribers Overview

About those email subscribers – I went through to find out who wasn’t opening anything I sent. Sure, there are some weekly who unsubscribe. But there were a lot who simply didn’t open anything. So I pulled these out and sent them a “Still Interested?” email. If they opened that, they came back into a provisional group. Otherwise, they were unsubscribed.
What that does is winnow the chaff from the wheat. Subscribers who don’t open anything aren’t worth anything. When I scraped all my lists from everywhere I could, I expected to have a drop in opens. Mainly because I hadn’t necessarily been keeping up with them.
And when I simply unsubscribed the ones that never have opened anything, then my open rate and click rate went back to my usual.
The process is called “list hygiene” and is usual to anyone who has a list. The trick with big lists is not the numbers, it’s the amount of active subscribers you are helping. I saw someone say he had a list with a million people on it. But he has always lived larger in his talk than how he walked. The bigger your list, the more you are having to pay to get your emails out. This guy was paying through the nose to brag.
I’m very impressed with Mailerlite as they have a more modern approach to mailing lists. You have your list and the people on them can be parts of several groups. And then you can send different emails just for the type of product or service (value) they want from you.
AWeber treats every list subscriber as a separate person, and so charges you for each one of them, even though they are the same email address. Plus, their lowest priced service costs you about $40 for three months. Mailerlite is free until you finally get your list up to a thousand subscribers. And when you do get up to the minimum, you are charged less than the other services.
Mailchimp doesn’t allow you to have an autoresponder series of emails, like sending them an email course. Unless you pay them monthly for an upgrade. Mailerlite allows you to do this from the start. Ideally, I’d be sending a short series of these to every subscriber. That would tell me right away if the person is actually interested. (Just haven’t gotten around to this detail, yet.)
Those are the reasons I’ve picked and recommend Mailerlite among all the alternatives. But like everything I tell you, please check this out for yourself. I like that this is free and has the basics you need.
The other point is that they work directly with Instafreebie. The only other mailing service that integrates is MailChimp (which is also free, up to a thousand subscribers, but has no autoresponder series you can use and will cost more after your first thousand subscribers. And Mailerlite has a simpler interface. Try them both. Won’t cost you anything.)

Writing Fiction For Real

Got back onto writing fiction again. But… had another non-fiction writeup to do, as is coming up this week.
So I added all the posts this week. Just to keep track.
Out of the 10K words I wrote, they were published, but until I break through on Medium, I don’t have a particular market for non-fiction (until I compile another non-fiction book.)
Like fiction means audio, so does non-tiction. But non-fiction also means building a course. Lots more work. And in my “Backwards Book Publishing” says that you write it with the idea of making it into a course. That audio should ideally be a podcast as well. A podcast would be for both fiction and non-fiction.
The audio is the rub. I spent a half-day recording it, and then the rest of that day getting about a quarter of the way through the editing. Not exactly as easy as writing, actually. Even though I was recovering a piece from a couple of weeks ago that had “dead-ended.” (More on that in a second.) Recording, as I do it, is reading the book outloud and correcting as you go. But that means the editing has a lot more gaps in it. So, more time in editing. And that runs the same for non-fiction as well.
The reason I still think audiobooks are vital is to reach that additional third to half of your potential audience. I’ve got one up from years ago that routinely sends me checks every month, and another couple up there (that reminded me I need to check on them – and so I’ve sent out some feelers.)
Meanwhile, it takes additional time to record and edit that book. Right now, it’s taking me part of a day to write it and more than a full day to record and edit it. Once I get this into a routine, it should go smoother and more quickly. That’s how my earlier podcast episodes went. Just rusty these days…

Persistence Brings Gold

Now, as you’ve been following this right along, and have gotten my “How to Quit Feeding the Beast” book (mental note, I need to syndicate those first chapters – and record them for the course…) OK – so my journey has been with the idea that my current passive income would maintain itself in general enough to finance this year-long adventure in fiction writing.
Because anyone beginning to write fiction (or non-fiction) starts as a complete unknown, with no audience. That’s what all these steps are for. I didn’t do these as a non-fiction writer, as I was far more fascinated with the research. My books are simply coherent steps in the path. A roadmap of where I’ve been so you can take a faster route.
These articles are more exploration and trail-blazing. Not that others haven’t been this way. But nothing is really valuable until you’ve tested everything for yourself. Even now, I’m still finding that data from 6 years ago is being disproved or proved as I stumble across them again. Learning by doing.
So far, it’s these general steps:
1) Align your life to make time for writing – and reading.
2) Develop habits so that you can write daily, as a habit. This also means reading daily as a habit. You read what you like and write what you like.
3) Write short so you can publish long. That’s the secret to Feeding the Amazon Beast. Start with short stories to improve your craft.
3) Once you have a pile of stories, get them all published. So you have a backlist of books and people can find your other works.
4) Then you start promoting. The first outlet is a blog. The second outlet is through Instafreebie, where you can post some of your books as giveaways to attract audience.

There Be Dragons…

And that is as far as we’ve gotten so far.
What this also brought up is doubts. Both Louis L’Amour and Jack London set out to write 50 short stories in a year. This is a key – holding the long view, working the long game. This is why you keep your day job. Like James Blish who wrote his long list of books all on an hour a day for most of his life. You have to enjoy your writing and trust in your belief that you will succeed in the long haul.
The other point this brought up as key is Heinlein’s Rules. You need to write, finish what you write, revise/edit/proof/publish every story, and then keep these able to be discovered by buyers.
You persist in this for a year and you’ll have your 50 stories (or so) published to all possible outlets, in all possible formats. Some will start selling. And following this, you’ll start getting your success. Income comes after you are successful. So you become a successfully published author first, and concentrate on building a huge backlist of stories people can find.
Our first promotion step is to get some of them out through Instafreebie.
Next after Instafreebie will need us getting books out through Wattpad and Medium, with giveaways going out through LibraryThing and Goodreads. (And as promised, I’ll tell you all I find out about these.)
This week coming, I’ll be assembling the Instafreebie references and links. (It’s really pretty cool, but took me  taking a calculated risk you’ll soon know about…)
The hint here is that you are on your road to becoming prolific. And that is again the ticket to Quit Feeding the Beast.

End of the Tunnel In Sight

And that light you see isn’t another train coming.
All we have been doing has been to take the baby steps we need, shining our light out in front as far as we can see.
The map really only travels so far ahead. I’ve laid all the obvious steps out. Above I’ve mentioned all of them, actually. (Oh, well there is also podcast and radio interviews – which are also coming up. Now I’ve named them all.)
This week coming, I’ll work to get at least one more story published again. I’m still behind for the year, but there isn’t particular time to play catch-up. Because you need what I’m discovering as fast as I can work it all out.
You see here that we aren’t following the path through Amazon-centric publishing. There are tons of books and materials on all the steps for that. I’ve always made more income going wide than otherwise. Smashwords’ Mark Coker has started seeing the trend of more authors finding that their income is more stable (and more uptrending) going wide than going narrow. I’ve seen more and more anecdotes of how people are discovering this. If you keep up with David Gaughran’s blog and books, you’ll see the horror stories where people are getting slammed for doing nothing wrong with their Kindle Unlimited titles.
The point is that it’s easier to go wide than narrow. Less angst and worries.
The way to do this is to be prolific, which is simply a matter of organizing your life and getting your key habits trained in. Baby steps, again. Learn to walk before you start trying to run.
That’s the overview of the journey we are travelling and the next few steps we’ll be taking.
I figure that in three months, we’ll have all the basics in. After that, it will simply be refining our success to become even more prolific and more successful.
You can also see that I haven’t mentioned any income figure. Because like Earl Nightingale said, you first become successful and then the money flows in. You have to build Thoreau’s better mousetrap before you can promote it so people will buy it.
Your emphasis has to be on writing and reading daily, publishing and promoting weekly. (Not weakly, please.) But those four point are habits you have to get in just in that sequence. Writing. Reading. Publishing. Promoting.
Until next week, then.

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