Continuing Personal Development…

A while back I was feeling pretty unsuccessful.  I don’t sell a lot of books and for some reason I equate the number of books that I do sell with my personal sense of achievement. That hasn’t changed… I have.

Since we moved to this town, I’ve been feeling very low and trying to write when my brain refuses to focus and co-operate with my muse is almost impossible. I started doing various art & craft courses – mostly to get myself out of the house and talking to adults more. I was also trying to keep my hand in with the techniques so that I could teach them if I ever went back to work (I’m a Design & Technology / Art & Design Teacher remember?)

One thing that the courses have done is give me more confidence in my own abilities. Writing is a very solitary pursuit and I had thought that doing the courses would stop me writing, but  practising my other creative skills and socialising with people face to face, other than just with Writers and Artists online,  I found it revved up my writing muse and I found that I was managing to write something on my WIP’s every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my online friends; they stop me going crazy and make me feel better about myself, but the face to face interaction makes me feel less like a hermit.

So here I am nearly at the end of may, with over 50,000 words into Teacups & Time Travel. I’ve also written a flash story and a short story for two different anthologies (although I have no idea if they’ve got in or not) and I’m working on another one. I’ve also started looking at my blogsite here and my branding etc in the hope that I can improve my chances of selling my work, using the Panoptic Foundations Website Planner.

I’m not going to be going back into teaching for a long while – and when I do, it’s almost certainly going to be Adult Education rather than Secondary Education; it’s not that I don’t like teaching kids (I do) but I need the freedom to be able to teach what I want and how I want, rather than having to stick to the Curriculum that the Dept of Ed force on us and I find the other side of Secondary education (marking, reports, politics etc) far too stressful to enjoy the Teaching side.

So I’m going to continue writing and publishing. I’m going to continue taking courses, crafting and designing… and hopefully between the two, my sense of achievement will latch onto something other than my sales figures!

Being paid with Exposure…

There’s a skirmish raging in the publishing industry at the moment… no, I’m not talking about two of the Big Six going head to head over something, or Traditional Publishing attacking Self Publishing.

I’m talking about writers waking up to a strange concept.

Payment.

When I started writing in the hope of making it a career, I was naive and hopeful. I’d followed an article I read in a Writing Magazine and started out by trying my luck with the Short Story market.

With every acceptance for an anthology I gained, my ego was given a boost. I was going to make it and in just a few months, I’d have accumulated a writer’s CV with enough stories published to wow an agent when I sent out my first book manuscript…

… or at least that is what I thought.

I was careful. After a few submissions paid for in “exposure”,  I went for anthologies and magazines that paid a minimal amount rather than the “for the love of it” publications. My plan was to get a few of those under my belt and then try for the markets that paid multiple pennies per word.
That went awry when I opened my own webzine and realised that unless I paid for writers, I wouldn’t get more than my friends submitting… and I had a sneaking suspicion that my friends were submitting to either shut me up or to make me feel better as my webzine tanked on the views.
*sighs*

I came out of that period a lot wiser. I learned that being a webzine owner / editor wasn’t as easy as it looked and that the stress of getting an issue out each month wasn’t worth the small moment of pride I got each month.
It also taught me that unless I wanted to starve my family, I was going to have to work harder at bringing money in.

(Yes, I know. I live in the UK – our benefits system is supposed to mean no one starves… *snorts*…)

Anyway. That was where I started my inroad into novel publishing.
I’d sent out a large number of novel queries at the same time as the short story foray. It hadn’t gone well.
Exposure wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on after all, I had discovered. Agents weren’t interested in my publishing credits with magazines, even ones that were popular in the genre crowd. They wanted something that they knew would sell to a big publisher, so that they could collect their 15% commission on a large sum.

So now I’m here.

Self publishing is almost as bad as working for “exposure” but at least I get to set the prices when I publish a book. And at least I do get paid… sometimes it might be pennies per book, but at least all those pennies are mine and mine alone.

Chuck Wendig writes a superb blog. He has an entertaining writing style that brings people to his yard for more than just refreshment…  He’s one of my Writing Heroes because he seems to find time to write Books as well as blog pieces. He’s a genius in the art of grabbing his audience by the throat and getting his point across in a few, well chosen words.

He’s also a tad sweary… which I appreciate because I can’t do it properly. There’s an art to swearing that I have never mastered. But I digress.

I’d seen the blog that Wil Wheaton had posted on the subject of Huffington Post’s refusal to pay for his work back in October.  And at the time, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I’d chuckled and agreed with The Oatmeal’s take on Exposure Payment and then in the rush of creativity for NaNoWriMo, I forgot about it again. Until this…

SCREAM IT UNTIL THEIR EARS BLEED: PAY THE FUCKING WRITERS

Chuck’s post on the 18th whacked me full force in the face with a wet Kipper and forced me to pay attention to something that I thought wasn’t happening any more.

I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t happening anymore. I haven’t been in that world very much, having been spending more time trying to work on my own novels, worrying about my partner’s back and my children’s  schooling.

But now I realise that the “exposure” payment never actually went away… and that I will never again write anything for just exposure. I will expect some kind of payment – whether that is in kind (so a guest blog post on another blog will always mention my own work somehow; aka free advertising)  or an actual monetary payment.

The only place that you will find my words for free is here – on my own blog. And even here, should you wish to support my writing career, you can. I have several e-books available for purchase on amazon and other places; just type “Kira Morgana” or “A. E. Churchyard” into your favourite e-book site’s search facility.

Just buy yourself something to read and thereby keep my cats in Kittynibbles and my kids in socks… it’s as simple as that.

PS: The only work that will ever be entirely for free will be either my Fanfiction (I don’t believe in profiting from someone else’s work and if the copyright holder objects to it, I’ll remove them from my site) or the stories that get published through Cake & Quill – Charity Anthologies are worth the work for an entirely different reason.

Free Book for helping me with a little experiment…

I went to the Cardiff International Comic Expo today. I went because I love comics, I adore anime and Art of all sorts floats my boat… this expo had it all…

…including three fellow authors –

A Trio of Talented Horror Authors...

A Trio of Talented Terror Taleists…

Rich Hawkins, Craig Saunders and Adam Millard. I chatted to them for a while – shop talk mostly – but while I was wandering around later it occurred to me… I’m a writer. Sooner or later I am going to have to try and build my following up and that’s going to require marketing.

I am terrible at selling myself or the things that I produce. I get tongue tied when I talk to people in person (hence why I talked shop with Craig et al – it was all I could think of to say!) so the idea of actually sitting behind a table and trying to persuade people to buy my books?

We are talking nightmares here… serious ones!

Anyway. I have a lot of books on e format and only one in print. I’ve always been intersted in using technology to my advantage, so I realised that as well as print books, I could offer e-books.

Through QR codes. Here’s some info about them, just to bring you up to speed – if you didn’t already know it!

What’s a QR Code?

The history of QR Codes

The QR Code was invented for the automotive industry. Toyota asked their supplier Denso Wave to develop a barcode for safely and easily identifying components. QR generators were originally used in industry. Because of the outstanding error correction performance (they can be read even if up to 30% of the surface are destroyed) and a lot of applications, the QR Code quickly made its way around the world.

How to use them:

QR Code reading apps are available for almost every smartphone with a camera (e.g. iPhone, Google Android, Blackberry, Symbian). The graphic can also be scanned and decoded with older mobile phones with a camera – there is free software (e.g. i-nigma) even for less widespread platforms.

Read QR Codes—recommended software/apps

There are plenty of free QR Code readers on the market. Here are the best ones (from our experience, but we’d like to hear your opinion):

Android
iOS
Other mobile systems

Information from – http://goqr.me/

 

Now you’re all up to speed, here’s my idea.

As well as print books, I have cards with QR codes on them. The QR code gives the purchaser a code for somewhere like smashwords that allows them to download the book instead of having to carry a print copy around with them. The card also allows me the chance to give them a dedication / autograph that they can keep.

Having decided this I decided to play around with the code idea… I went to the site that I got the information on the codes from and created a code that had the information for a free copy of one of my books.

And as I’m a nice person, I thought I’d share the code with everyone who reads this blog post…

qrcode

 

Just Scan the code with one of the apps from the info above (you’ll need something with a camera or a smartphone) and you can pick up a free book. I’m not telling you which one though.

One thing I would like you to do though.

Come back here once you’ve tried it (ie: downloaded the book) and comment below – I need to now how popular this idea could be.

Ta muchly peeps!