beginning authors

Balancing The Books

  The life of an Indie writer can be filled with uncertainties, for most people the largest of these uncertainties pertains to income. As a writer, instead of receiving a regular paycheck your payday only comes when you sell what you’ve written.  Don’t let this dissuade you from following your dream.  The fact is there is no job that is completely safe in today’s economy. No matter what your profession, job security is now a fallacy. Even after you’ve worked for a company for years you can find one day without warning that your job has been outsourced.  Once we truly understand that risk is everywhere why not devote your time and energy to something you absolutely love?  If the financial challenges of becoming a full time writer are what’s holding you back from pursuing your dream, stop worrying and start planning.

 

For some people there’s an innate romance associated with a writer’s life but when you begin to think about it more practically it’s easy for trepidation to sink in. I know how scary it can be, I’ve been in the workforce since I was fifteen years old and receiving a regular paycheck for almost twenty five years. As I’m preparing to make the transition into becoming a full time writer I’ve done thorough research and have begun to retool my entire life to make the transition to becoming a fulltime writer less of a shock. You only have to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an entrepreneur.

 

Your odds of success as a full time writer will be much greater if you have a practical plan in place which includes concrete and realistic goals.  First off, it’s very easy to underestimate how much money you’ll need to support yourself with your writing but it can be done. I have a huge amount of respect for authors who have figured this out.

 

As I was looking at my budget  I decided the best way to start would be to determine how much money it would really take to make the transition into writing full time. I have always told myself that my magic number would be two year’s worth of my current salary.  If I could earn the equivalent of two year’s salary from my writing then I would feel comfortable putting in my notice at work and finally take the leap of faith that I’ve been fantasizing about for years. Of course, this amount needed to put your plan into action will differ for everyone based on your lifestyle and current finances. The first step is to determine your personal number.

 

To aid in your transition it helps to deeply examine your life and decide what can be eliminated from your monthly budget as well as how you can maximize the revenue from your writing. Unless you have a lot of cash saved or an alternate source of regular income it’s best to have a lean budget as you’re making the transition into writing full time, at least in the beginning. Frugality is your best friend during the transition into the writer’s life. This part came easily for me because I’m one of the few creative people I know of that are also very fiscally conservative. My parents love to tell the story of how when I was a young child I would save my allowance for months to buy a toy that I wanted only to decide the next day that I wanted the money back and I would return the toy to the store unopened.  

 

I guess it’s always really bothered me to hand over my hard earned cash on things that aren’t a good value or something that doesn’t add any real value to my life. I would much rather have money left at the end of the month to have wonderful life experiences like seeing new places and trying new restaurants than having my life cluttered with a bunch useless of things. When it comes to buying stuff I’ve rediscovered something our ancestors already practiced out of necessity, research everything you buy and purchase the best quality you can afford, it’s always less expensive in the long term. For example, it absolutely drove me crazy to spend twenty dollars on a pack of five disposable razor blades that lasted only a few months. Three years ago purchased a Merkur brand safety razor for $30 and a pack of 200 blades for $20. I’ve only gone through half of the box of blades in three years. This one purchase has saved me several hundreds of dollars so far.

 

As I was started striving to live my ideal writer’s life, the first thing to be eliminated from the household budget was satellite television. I was spending over one hundred dollars a month for this service and only watched a handful of channels. As an alternative, my wife and I discovered the digital TV antenna and AppleTV.  Now we get over twenty free local channels over the air from the antenna and more content than we can watch on NetFlix and Hulu for around sixteen dollars a month.  The content on these streaming services isn’t as current as cable or satellite television but it’s worked out just fine because we’re watching far less television and have more time for more important things. If we want to watch a more current film there’s always the option of renting DVDs from RedBox for under two dollars per movie.

 

If you really start to examine your life you’ll be amazed at the number of creative ways you can find to lower your expenses.  It’s just a matter of taking a look at your own personal situation and decide what you can live without. Some other suggestions to get you started are growing your own vegetables and canning for use later and shopping at thrift stores. I haven’t owned a new car for years but save thousands by buying cars that are still in great condition but just a couple of years old. I also bike to work when weather allows.  

 

Once you begin to analyze your situation ways to save money will become very apparent.  Ironically, you’ll find that most of the cuts you make to your budget will come along with the fringe benefits of simplifying your life, improving your health, enhancing your creativity, and giving you more free time to do things like read and write.

 

The English writer, Brian Aldiss said, “A writer should say to himself, not, How can I get more money?, but How can I reach more readers (without lowering standards)?”  It’s important not to let financial concerns slow the progress or stall the enthusiasm of your writing career.  As you grow your career your income typically will increase organically.

 

Even before you can make the full transition into your dream of writing full time it’s good practice to view your part time writing gig like the business that it is.  Before your writing can pay all of your living expenses the first step is to make your craft self sustaining.  By self sustaining I mean, try to support all the expenses associated with your writing with proceeds from your writing. When you try this you will realize that supporting writing expenses from only your writing proceeds sounds much easier than it is. If you don’t think outside of the box you may find yourself stuck in a cubicle.

 

I’ve found that launching a writing career takes a fair amount of two things, time and money. To make your work known to the world you must pay for things like marketing, professional editing, and travel to and from appearances just to name a few.  If you can get to the point in your career where your writing is paying for itself you will be that much closer to achieving the dream of making a living with your words.

 

Since income as a writer can be so sporadic it’s important focus on diversifying your revenue streams as much as you can to make the most from your writing.  Begin to think of different and creative ways your can market the same work.  For example, I publish collections of my poetry in book form but I also sell the poems individually, matted on parchment paper.  In doing this, I produce two different products and can profit twice from the same poems.  Additionally, I offer a service where I will collaborate with clients to create a completely original poem for a gift or special occasion and by doing so can use my talent as a poet for a third potential income opportunity and the best part is I love doing all of them.

 

As an indie author, you’re busy writing so it’s easy to overlook all the ways to profit from your work, and many writers often do.  The first, and most effective, thing to focus on is making it as easy as possible for readers to find you and buy your work. It’s important to have a page on your website or blog that list live links to where readers can purchase each of your published books.  Regularly post a link to this page, with an attention grabbing introduction on your social media sites.  It’s also imperative to choose the correct keywords on your pages so they show up in internet search results.

 

Whenever you have the opportunity to do personal appearances like book club meetings, readings or any event where you have the chance to make a face to face sale it’s important to have extra books on hand and provide your readers the option of purchasing these books easily with a credit card.  Companies like PayPal and Square offer reliable, easy to use, and compact credit card readers that plug right into your smartphone.  Buy one of these credit card readers and learn how to operate it.  Never be hesitant to wisely invest in yourself and in your career.  According to a recent survey of BankRate.com, fifty percent of Americans admit they carry less than $20 in cash, and nine percent say they don't carry cash at all. Giving your audience the ability to easily pay with a credit card is a simple way to improve your sales potential.

 

Another great way to add another source of revenue is to monetize your blog through pay per click ad programs such as Google’s Adsense. This service will embed ads in your blog that usually correlate, at least remotely, to products or services you’re writing about in your blog post. Once you sign up for these programs you will get paid each time a reader clicks on an ad. You can even download the free Adsense app to your mobile phone to manage your account on the go. You won’t generate much revenue at first, but it will grow as more readers begin visiting your blog. Although it’s not typical, Google reports that some users are making tens of thousands of dollars per month off this program. Whatever you make, every little bit helps.

 

I can’t stress this enough, just because you choose to pursue a writing career doesn’t mean you have to be a starving artist, it only requires you to think differently and have the discipline to stick to a budget.  Use your gift of creativity to discover new and different ways to get people to pay you for your work and be mindful of the money that you’re spending. If you accomplish this balance you will be well positioned to successfully support yourself with your words. More than ever before writers really do have control of their destinies. Utilize all of the tools at your disposal and you will soon see that reaching the goal of becoming a full time writer will feel every bit as amazing as you imagined it would be.

 

Here’s to your success!

~Eric Vance Walton, Author~

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More information on finding success as an indie author can be found in my book, One Word at a Time, Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. This book debuted at #7 on Amazon and currently has 19 reviews with an average of 4.9 stars.

 

Just Before The Dawn

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I’ve been in this business longer than I care to think about. If I think too much about how many years of my life I’ve been pursuing the goal of becoming a full-time writer I sometimes get depressed. Up until just a couple of years ago I didn’t even have a real plan, I was only a dreamer and the dream didn’t have teeth. It’s good to dream but that’s only one element of what it takes to get you there. Recently just such a moment of depression descended on me. My sales had hit a plateau; there were no new opportunities to speak of. It only lasted a few hours but it was a gut wrenching feeling that this was as big as my dream would ever become. I feared my fifteen minutes were over. Then I remembered that I’d felt this a few times before and usually when I did a breakthrough was on the other side of that dark night. What I’ve found is the closer I get to achieving that next burst of exponential growth in my writing career the more seems to be working against me. I’ve learned from talking to others who are trying to achieve a dream similar to mine that this experience isn’t unique.

The challenges can crop up from a variety of places…the news, envious people, and, yes, even my own mind. All these challenges need to do to be successful in derailing you is to plant that seed of doubt and it will grow into a dream killing monster. But, you know what? None of that matters once your mind is made up and my mind was made up a couple of years ago. I am a writer. I will do this for a living while traveling the world with my wife, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures.

The most effective way out and on to the next plateau begins with deciding to just focus solely on what you have control over. I know I have control over my mind. Most often I’ve learned getting out of this kind of slump requires a simple shift in mindset. Think about it, anything can seem difficult or even impossible if you’ve made your mind up that it is.

The secret is to make up your mind that your goal is attainable, not just attainable but easy to achieve. This isn’t fooling yourself, well maybe a little, but this Jedi-like mind trick fills you with such confidence and positive energy that I believe you attract opportunities and people that can help. The truth is most of us can’t do this alone and that’s okay. Build a team of helpers who are geniuses in their particular field (marketing, editing, etc.) You will be simply unstoppable with an army of experts behind you.

Whenever find yourself in a funk such as the one I just described ask yourself these three things:

1. What do I really want?

2. Why don’t I already have what I want?

3. What do I need to do to get what I want?

To answer these questions as honestly as you possibly can gives your dream teeth. In my case, my most limiting factor is always inside my own head. The mind is quite good at self-sabotage by peppering your inner dialogue with negative statements like, “This is going to be a real challenge” as well as countless other statements that begin with those two dreaded words, “I can’t…”. Negativity is pure poison and will keep you lost in delusion.

The truth is you CAN do this and if you want it badly enough YOU WILL. The other option is to find yourself right where you are in ten years from now doing the same things in the same way. Stay with me and we’ll build our dreams together. Create a strategy. When you make it through to your next day’s dawn I’ll be there to greet you. Maybe we can have a beer or a nice glass of cabernet at some quaint Parisian café and swap stories.

In just a few short days from ground zero I have renewed hope. I also have a few new and exciting irons in the fire. I can tell you from experience that what I speak of works and this sunrise, it’s such a beautiful thing.

I wish you the very best,

~Eric Vance Walton~

The 6 Most Challenging Things About Being An Indie Author

People ask me all the time...what are the most difficult things about being a writer? My first reaction is, “Where do I start?”  Seriously, the list of challenges is long but if I had to choose my top six, they would be as follows: 1. Having trust, confidence, and patience. When you only have twenty readers on your Facebook page and a half completed manuscript that you haven’t been able to touch in weeks sometimes your future as a writer seems bleak. I know, I’ve been there. I can tell you with full honesty if you possess trust, confidence, and patience you can make it as a writer. Talented writers are plentiful and the skill of writing isn’t some kind of magic that you have to be born with but is powerful magic that can be learned. Anyone can learn to write well. After you’ve mastered the craft what will set you apart is trust in your abilities, the confidence to keep learning/evolving, and the patience that your day will one day come. Do whatever it takes to cultivate these three attributes. I think many writers give up just shy of their big break. Even if the big break never comes the positive things that writing attracts into your life will be a handsome reward that enrich your life tremendously.

2. Finding quiet time to write. This can be as difficult as juggling chainsaws while wearing woolen mittens. Since it’s such a challenge to make a living at writing you must find an alternative means to pay the bills until you’ve established yourself. Having to work the equivalent of 1.5 (or more) jobs forces you to efficiently utilize every single moment of your day if you wish to get anything done. A smartphone helps tremendously by allowing you to record important ideas the moment they strike during short spans of quiet throughout your day.  A mobile phone is also gives you the freedom to freshen your social media accounts on the run. To purposely carve out larger blocks of time it’s best to have a designated area to write that assures you peace and quiet. It seems like the moment you turn on your computer and the writing really begins to flow you become the center of attention of everyone (including animals) within a five mile radius. People who aren’t creative don’t understand the creative process, they just don’t. It’s your job to educate them about the importance of your quiet time.  Make it your goal to find your own time for peace and quiet so you can do your thing.

3. Promoting your work online with a small budget. For the first few years of its existence social media was the last missing piece of the puzzle that made indie publishing work.  At last indie authors were able to get their work in front of enormous amounts of people for little to no cost. Although social media can still be an effective way to promote if used correctly it’s not as easy to grow the size of your readership as it once was. In the last eighteen months Facebook has begun severely limiting the outreach of posts from business pages. What’s worse is your outreach is most limited most during peak times on weekends when more of your readers are logged on. Facebook has adopted this practice to encourage page owners to “boost” their posts for a fee. In my experience, boosting posts is a bad investment, boosting has never translated into a sizable amount of sales. There are a couple of ways to expand your Facebook outreach for free during peak times, regularly remind your readers to "like" and "share" your posts with their friends and link your Facebook author page to your Twitter feed. Also, create a blog, post to it several times per week, and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. It’s important to remember to enable the widget that allows your readers to enter their email address to subscribe to your blog. Once they sign up your subscribers get your posts delivered directly into their email box where they’re most likely to be read. A subscriber list is still the best way to scale your network of readers at no cost.

4. Establishing a reputation as a “real” writer. The market is flooded with indie authors and you must be able to get yourself noticed amongst the babel of millions of voices. You accomplish this in three ways, writing what you know, never undervaluing your work, and genuinely valuing your readers. In a way you must also play the role of the best-selling author you wish to become and, trust me, you will naturally grow into it. This doesn’t mean you should project a false perception of yourself or your work but you must learn to present yourself professionally both online and in person. You must become your own best spokesperson. When someone asks what you do proudly tell them, “I’m a writer!”  Go ahead say it out loud, it feels amazing doesn’t it?  Above all else you must always do right by your readers by consistently exceeding their expectations when it comes to content. Work hard to give your audience quality content, something of value that makes them laugh or makes them think and in time you will build a loyal fan base. Be generous in any way you can and those acts of generosity will come back to you tenfold.

5. Generating sales. To make a living at this you must sell books and the only way to sell a lot of books requires you to grow your network of readers. At first concentrate on offering lots of free quality content on a consistent basis through blog and social media posts. This is an investment in your future as a writer. Remember to offer the reader something that will truly engage and benefit them in some way. Write in a voice that makes your audience feel like you’re speaking to them personally.  This forges an important bond that will earn enough trust that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on your work. Also, you must become a promotional idea generating machine, constantly coming up with new ways to sell your work. I keep an idea log in the Notes app on my iPhone and try to come up with a few new ideas every day.  Don’t be afraid to test your ideas in the real world. If an idea works, simply take note and repeat it. If an idea flops, tweak it slightly or try something altogether different.

6. If you’ve done your job some people will assume you're wealthy (and in reality they’re correct). Yes I know, if you’re a writer, this sounds absurd. If you’ve presented yourself professionally online and in person you will project success. There are many folks who think that if you’ve published books and promoted them well that you’re already living the glamorous life of a best-selling author. The good news is, if you keep at it there is always the chance you will eventually achieve whatever goals you have for your writing career. For this dream to be realized it’s imperative that you be madly in love that act of writing itself. You must make up your mind that you will write even if you don’t receive a dime for it.  From day one of your writing career there’s great wealth to be gained but it is a wealth other than the financial variety. The immense feeling of content that comes with writing a really good piece of work has sustained me through the darkest of days. Connecting with and receiving feedback from my readers has lifted me to new heights even when times are good. Contentment is a kind of currency that is sheltered in even the worst of economic downturns and will leave you with a life that is rich beyond measure.

About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. You can find many more practical tips on writing in Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

A Note From My Publisher

I’m writing for a simple reason. I want to bribe you to buy the book "One Word at a Time" by Eric Vance Walton. Why am I doing this? Because I believe in this book.

If you want to be a writer, a real writer, this book is for you. It’s not about fame or money. (Even though the book will help you get those things.) It’s about building a life as a writer.

If you buy the "One Word at a Time" before Saturday, I will give you 3 eBooks that we’ve previously published as a bonus. The bonus eBooks are not available anywhere else. The only way to get these books is to buy "One Word at a Time."

The bonus books are: “Submit Publish Repeat,” "How to Market Your Novel on Facebook," and "Your Book, Published!"

If you want to live the life of a writer, please buy "One Word at a Time." Right now.

Buy Now (Print Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942344007/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1942344007&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=XTPWRF3AMLIQQ2KQ

Buy Now (Kindle Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P06KTM8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00P06KTM8&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=WFPSUVT6IDU5WDG7

Sincerely,

Jacob Jans Editor Authors Publish

PS: Once you buy One Word at a Time, you can access your bonus content here: http://www.authorspublish.com/press/?p=28

How I Spent My Summer

I was busy this summer.  I'm thrilled to announce my first traditionally published book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author.  My soul is in this book, it contains hard won knowledge attained from 20 years in the writing business. Please click on the attached link below to download your FREE PREVIEW of the book before it's released to the public in mid-October. Also, feel free to share this link with anyone you know who is interested in writing. Thanks for your support! Link to download the exclusive preview:

http://www.authorspublish.com/press/sample/