Outsourcing Jobs to Fiverr Leaves More Time for Writing

There comes a point when you have to admit that you cannot do it all.

Writing.  Editing.  Book Cover Design.  Book Interior.  Sales Copy.  Marketing.  Social Engagement.

The more time you spend on one task, the more you ignore the ones that are actually important.  As far as I’ve figured out at this point in my writing career, there are really only two ways out of this hole…

Get Published in the Traditional Way

One of the ways in which I avoid wasting my time is by submitting stories to magazines and contests.  If they accept your work, traditional publishers will create graphics for covers and do all of the formatting for you.  You’ll still have to market yourself and engage socially, but it beats the hell out of learning new programs.

Not only that, but the lag time that it takes for a publisher to review your work is a good window for you to get more writing done.  Even if they reject it, you’ll have more material as well as feedback on your old work.  There’s really no downside, especially considering that you can always self-publish if you get too frustrated.

Fiverr – A Self-Publisher’s Business Partner

Fiverr is an online marketplace for people to offer their services for as little as $5.  There are add-ons and extras that can bump up the price, but these are optional.  I’m not even going to bother mentioning the types of services, because they range from resume writing to graphics to advertising.  There’s even a whole subset of people who do amazing things with puppets.  (I’m not kidding.)

Recently, Jeremy Marshall and I talked about continuing to work on stories in the Captain James Hook series.  This required me to give our current books a facelift.  We needed covers and new sales copy, so I went to Fiverr.

I got two new covers and copy for both book descriptions for a total of $42.50 (that’s including $5 tips for each job).   I used Book Covers by PixelStudio & Sales Copy by Emmaki.  Samples of their work can be found on the updated CaptainHookNovel.com page.

Even if you have a budget of under $100, you can get some serious work done on this site.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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Picard is Still Trapped in the Nexus

This is a theory I have held for a while:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard is still trapped in the Nexus from Star Trek: Generations and everything we’ve seen afterward has been a part of his ideal reality.

Background on the Nexus can be found on the always amazing Memory Alpha site.

My Argument

In Star Trek: Generations, Picard was taken by the Nexus before a shockwave destroyed the planet and everyone else on it.  It was said that the Nexus allows whoever is in it will live out their fantasies.  This was initially projected as a family life for Jean-Luc, but that’s not who he is.  He has to save the day.

Instead, he teams up with the iconic Jim Kirk and prevents the disaster from happening in a “redo” type of adventure.  How many of us would want a redo on our biggest failures, especially the one that took all of our closest friends’ lives?

In Star Trek: First Contact, the movie immediately after that, he deals with his unresolved issues with the Borg while playing an integral part in Earth’s history in the galaxy.

Star Trek: Insurrection finds him on a planet that stabilizes and prolongs the aging process, which helps him deal with his thoughts on mortality and companionship, two issues that would rightly affect an unmarried man in his fifties/sixties.

Star Trek: Nemesis is actually one of the better examples.  It literally puts Jean-Luc face-to-face with a younger version (clone) of himself, forcing him to again come to terms with his past and his life choices.

I’m Not Alone

While doing my research for this post, I found a great article on Reddit by WilliamtheV that helps articulate this theory further.  Check it out, because as he wrote: “The Nexus gave Picard what he wanted. A world where his actions have consequences, but he still got to live out his dream life.

The First Audition for the Audiobook of Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan

In the effort to expand the book’s reach, Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan will soon be available as an audiobook on Audible and iTunes.  In order for that to happen, we need to find a voice actor.

The Audiobook Creation Exchange allows authors to find voice actors and producers pretty easily.

  1. You post a sample of the book.
  2. Actors submit their auditions.
  3. You choose one and move on from there.

We are in the “choose one” phase of our search and I’m asking for your help.

This is the first audition tape.  There is a poll below the file for you to submit your responses.  Every vote helps us make our decision.

Are you a voice actor who wishes to audition?  If so, click here for your chance.  Auditions close at the end of July.

Thank you all again for participating.

Building an Audience Means Taking the Next Step

People won’t just come to you.

Now that there are so many entertainment options choose from, people (rightfully) feel that they should to be courted by creators who want them to read/watch/hear their work.

In truth, it may have always been this way.

Selling the First Wheel

So, if these systems have been in place for millennia, then what can I do to compete?

Building An Audience

Step One:  Blog Regularly

The weekly blogging schedule I’ve taken up has helped keep me sharp and focused.  It doesn’t hurt that I changed my branding a little bit to better fit my personality and interests.  The Writing Teacher was fun and I liked the dual usage of the word “Writing” in the title as both an adjective and a verb, but it didn’t allow me to comment on the topics that most engaged me.

Cynical Sci-Fi gives me some range and helps me be truer to who I am, which is important.  This authenticity has contributed to an increased follower-ship on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Step Two:  Broaden My Market Base

It is hard to find new ways to promote old work.  Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan has had thousands of readers and I am very proud of how it has influenced the Peter Pan mythos, but it is a three-year-old book among many, many, many newer similar titles.

Therefore, I am working with the Audiobook Creation Exchange to make both Captain James Hook titles available on Audible and iTunes.  As of this post, I have one audition already submitted and I am using my audience base to promote this opportunity to others.  (Expect to get updates on this process as it unfolds.)

Step Three:  Collaborate With Others

Working with others in a creative field can be a real pain.  Many will actively try to cut you down so that you do not get a leg up on them or will try to rip off your ideas while discouraging you from pursuing them.

It is important to find a partner (or group) that will encourage you while being constructively critical.  I am fortunate that my writing partner is as talented as he is insightful.  Hundreds of thousands of words have passed between us:  read, commented, and revised.

This isn’t for work that we share credit for either.  These are solo titles, made better through joint effort.

The followup step is to get myself into book talks, social groups, and conferences.

Step Four:  Create New Work

This is often the hardest part.  You tweet.  You post.  Distractions pull you this way and that until hours have passed and you find that your daily word count is under 1000.  It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

  1. Develop new ideas
  2. Set a schedule
  3. Stick to it

This simple process has given me two new series of short fiction, the first titles of which are already done and ready to go.  More are on the way as July and August are typically big drafting months for me (teacher’s schedule).

Step Five:  Experiment

I’m taking a different route with the new titles.  Their lengths allow them to be submitted to genre magazines and I feel that they have a good shot, so I’m trying that first before diving into a self-publishing model.

As with the audiobook creation process, expect that future posts will include updates on which magazines each title will be submitted to and what the responses are.

New is only new for so long, then you have to learn what comes next.  These are both new journeys for me and I’m excited to take them on as a lifelong learner.

 

Are We Doomed to Live Out Our Horrific Fantasy Futures?

Is it just me or are there a ton more articles about our imminent demise lately?

It could be an organized campaign to keep us clicking on these and related links, but I can’t help but I think that there may be something to it.

Earth ‘entering new extinction phase’ – US study (Regarding the unfolding Sixth Mass Extinction.)

Big Five mass extinction events (In case you were wondering what the first five were all about.)

Okay, so we’re done.  It’s been a hell of a ride, but what happens on our way out?  Unlike the dinosaurs, we’re not expected to die off right away.  What does our slow death as a species look like?

The History Channel made a documentary called Life After People (followed by a series with the same title).  The original documentary is embedded below, but the timeline of the collapse of our bridges, buildings and achievements is pretty clear.  Between one and three hundred years, most of our steel and concrete icons are gone.  After 1000 years without consistent and organized upkeep, there would be very little evidence that we existed.

That’s the thing about this.  The structural decay and neglect described in the documentary would happen even if mankind wasn’t totally wiped out.  The rapid loss of 85% of our population due to hunger and mass murder would destabilize governments and throw us into anarchy.  I doubt that people would be concerned with maintaining bridges and buildings while they are foraging for food and picking each other’s bones clean.

0-300 Years After Our Fall

A REVOLUTION/MAD MAX/THE WALKING DEAD/DIVERGENT/HUNGER GAMES style world will happen pretty quickly.  Nations will break up into territories.  Roving bands of survivors will scrape along, dying off one by one.  Psychopaths and their cults have a grand old time hoarding resources and killing everyone they come across.  But our buildings are still there.  People tell stories of our culture and our history.

Chicago in DIVERGENT looks to be in pretty good shape, maybe under 100 years without upkeep.

Chicago in DIVERGENT looks to be in pretty good shape, maybe under 100 years without upkeep.

10,000+ Years After Our Fall

As terrible as it would be, think of life as it is shown in GAME OF THRONES as our best case scenario.

Ignore the magic and dragons and White Walkers for a minute and follow me on this.  (Those could all be remnants of whatever scientific advances in genetics and self-replicating nanotechnology we make between now and our fall anyway.)

All structures and physical markers of the past are gone and a new “ancient” history is being recorded.  Whichever bands of humans survive create fiefdoms and monetary systems.  War is everywhere, which is a sure sign that we’re not done killing ourselves yet.

Most importantly, the GAME OF THRONES world features a global climate that is in a constant state of change.  As a point of reference, this environment that we live in currently is different in air composition and seasonal makeup than the environment the dinosaurs thrived in 100 million years ago.  Perhaps whatever environmental shifts that nearly wipe us out in the Sixth Mass Extinction are still in the process of changing 10,000 years from now.

We live on.  I’m just glad that I won’t live long enough to witness any of it.  Good luck.

Is Even STAR TREK Capable of Overcoming Racism?

I intended on writing a post about how Star Trek is the ony Sci-Fi I can think of that has a positive standpoint on us and our future, but recent events reminded me of our very human faults.  

Star Trek boasts no hunger and no poverty, but is even this utopia able to eradicate racism?

Sadly, no.  Not on a basely human level, anyway.  

Earth, itself, seems to be alright.  Some episodes of DS9 point to major class upheavals in the 2020s, but the human-specific racial issues take place before then and are alive in thier awareness, which is important when trying to avoid repeating the horrors of our collective past. 

But that doesn’t mean that racism is solved.  We, as humans, just needed some other to marginalize and discriminate against.  

“‘Speciesism’ is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. …a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.” – BBC 

Spock is the most obvious example, being bi-racial (bi-speciel? bi-special?) in heritage.  Oh how we laughed and laughed as the good country doctor spun some good old country racism at the half-breed.  

Although he was the most repeated (and most passive) victim of offense, Spock was by no means alone.  Cardassians are called spoon-heads and Klingons are often referred to as smelly and loud.  

Humans have a need to categorize and differentiate.  It is what set up our language and systems of contextual understanding.  

This doesn’t mean that we need to label other as lesser, but we still do it. 

Memory Alpha has more on racism in STAR TREK.

Tips for Self-Publishing (Almost Completely) Free

Let’s assume that you have a book that you think is worth selling and you’ve decided to publish it yourself.  What do you do?  Put it up on Amazon?  Find a Print On Demand site?  How do you make sure that your wonderful book looks appealing enough for others to give it a chance?

It all depends on your needs and (frankly) your budget.

There are some things that are out of most people’s specialties and require a good amount of training.  If you’re a graphic designer, then you have a leg up on others.  (I’m not even going to mention marketing or SEO in this post.)

The point is that there are gateways that all would-be self-publishers have to pass through.

Here are some of those key questions that have to be answered.


Do I have to pay for an editor?

No, but you really should.

Most people read books for enjoyment, but very few people are taught how to read a book for whether or not it will sell.  This, along with the commonly understood proofreading part of the job, is why an editor will help.  David Kudler wrote a great article in The Huffington Post on this topic.  Also, Joanna Penn has a page dedicated to the topic along with recommendations.

Total Mandatory Cost:  $0


Do I have to buy an ISBN?

No, but you probably should.

In the U.S., Bowker is the only legitimate seller of ISBNs.  Most others who sell them for cheaper have bought them in bulk and are scamming new authors.  The prices range depending on your needs, but spending the money makes it more likely that bookstores will carry your title.  Bowker General FAQs.  Bowker ISBN FAQs.

There are free ways to get an ISBN, but whoever provides it for you will be listed as the publisher.  For example, if you take the free ISBN from CreateSpace, then Amazon is listed as the book’s publisher.  You still retain full author rights and the book is yours to do with as you please, but you would have to republish it again with a different ISBN to be registered as the book’s publisher.

Total Mandatory Cost: $0


Do I have to copyright my book?

No, but you definitely should.  Your ideas are only your ideas if they are protected.

Copyrighting your work is a quick and inexpensive process.  Go to http://www.copyright.gov/ and click on Register a Copyright.  It will ask you to create an account so that you can log in later.  Here’s a list of Frequently Asked Questions for those who are nervous about copywriting for the first time.

There is such a thing as a poor man’s copyright, but it doesn’t offer as much protection as we’ve all been told.  Just check out one of my older posts, The Power (and Problems) of Writing with Public Domain Characters, for more on that.

Total Mandatory Cost: $0


Do I have to pay for a professional book cover?

No, but you certainly should.

The original cover to Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan.

The original cover to Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan.


The redone cover to Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan.

The redone cover to Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan.

Unless you are REALY good at Photoshop and have taken classes in graphic design, don’t try this.

The first book cover for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan was a disaster, especially compared to the professionally redone cover by Jaycee DeLornezo.  There are many other cover artists out there, but she’s really good and charges a fair price.

You still don’t have to pay.  You could do this on your own if you have the skills.

Total Mandatory Cost: $0


Do I have to pay for a professionally formatted book interior?

No, but you undoubtedly should.

Book interior formatting is the dead giveaway of an amateur.  Do you know which pages are supposed to be odd or even?  I didn’t at first.  How about margins and header text?  No?

You have two options when it comes to formatting a book interior:  Spend a lot of time researching or spend some money to get it done by a professional.

Again, Joanna Penn has a great page on this topic, but that is if you have the $300-$800 to pay for it.

CreateSpace has a few forum topics on the subject and, of course, there is my post on Using Adobe InDesign.

Total Mandatory Cost: $0


 

Total up the mandatory expenses!

Editor: $0

ISBN: $0

Copyright: $0

Cover: $0

Interior: $0

Final Mandatory Cost: $0 (but you’ll be spending hundreds of hours not writing)