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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ingress: 5 Things That Make Me Choose a Mission



So, there was this discussion in one of the hang-outs about why people did or didn’t do a mission, and it got me thinking as to the reasons why I chose the missions I did over other missions starting in the main area. And these were the reasons I came up with:

They’re part of a series

What can I say? I like mission series. I love the mosaics they form, and I like exploring things according to a theme.

They link logically

Not all series link logically. Some just seem to trip all over the city in a random pattern trying to include as many portals as possible. Some parts of a series might make you double back to get to the start of the next mission. These are all frustrating. I love a series that links together in an almost seamless path that leads you along a route in a logical manner, without doubling back. Those are the missions I’ll do over any other.

They are walkable in a reasonable amount of time

I’m usually constrained to public transport or my own, two feet – and I have time limitations, as well. I either have a class to attend, or I have to be back in time to do school pick-up. In a couple of years, I’ll be stuck to trying to complete things during a lunch break, before work, or in some small space on the weekend. And, since I don’t like to leave something undone for another time, I choose my missions accordingly. A logical sequence of portals, reachable by bus, or by a short walk from the bus, and completable within an hour to two hours will always have precedence over something I know will take most of the day to complete.

They are accessible

As I mentioned above, most of the time I am constrained by public transport, so I need to be able to reach a mission without relying on a car. While I will do those missions I need a vehicle to reach, they take extra planning and time set aside, so I usually leave them until I can sort those factors out, and will do something else that I can get to in their place.

They aren’t spread out over half the city

I just don’t like having to spend six hours on a bus to work my way through eight or nine portals. And I don’t see much fitness benefit out of having to drive from one portal to the next over an hour or two in order to complete one mission. I find it awkward, messy, inefficient and unsatisfying. Now, if it’s a series, and I have to get out of the car, or off the bus for a 15-30 minute walk around local portals, that’s a different matter. That gets me exploring a new area. But a single portal for 15-20 minutes travel just doesn’t work for me.

And having said all that, I kind of take a pokemon attitude to missions. I will eventually complete the ones in my area, and then… well, then I’ll have to travel, and build in Ingress time to holidays. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Well, those missions won't get themselves done, so I guess it's time to move.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Writing Life: 10 Reasons Why I Publish Independently



I think I’ve written about this before, but I’ll write about it again, seeing as many people still ask why I publish independently. So, here you go:

Control

What can I say? I’m a control freak. When something matters, I like to be in control of as many of the things that are going to make it work as I can. I like being able to decide what goes on my book covers, when my stories and books are published, what formats they are published in, and where they are released. I like it a lot.

Responsibility

With great control… or was that power? Anyway, with great control, comes great responsibility. This means that I get to control when my book is released, how its formatted, and all the rest, BUT it also means that I’m responsible for how all that turns out. I can’t blame anyone, if the editing isn’t up to scratch, if my cover sucks, or if the book doesn’t release on time. I can’t pass the task of promoting my work to anyone else, and I can’t blame anyone for my sales figures, or lack thereof. I like this, too; it comes with being a control freak.

Accountability

Some think responsibility and accountability are the same thing, and, in many ways, they’re right. I like to extend the idea of accountability to include being able to account for where things have come from, and gone to. This means I can account for my income, my expenditure, and the intangibles like time spent on projects.

For instance, I know exactly what my royalties are, where they came from, what deductions were made along the way, and so on. I have spreadsheets for these. I also know when my books sold, and when the distributor got paid, as opposed to when I got paid, as there is often a time differential here. It helps me budget and plan more accurately, because I can track what is happening on each of my platforms. I cannot do this with a publisher, as I have discovered.

I also know where my time is going. I can calculate how much time I will have to put into editing, cover design, formatting, uploading, and updating the spaces where I talk about my work. Knowing when a release is going to occur means I can pre-load release announcements, and put aside time for updating Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and my blog.

My Time is My Own

My activities are not dictated by a publisher, an agent, or anyone else. They are dictated by me. Me, by the way, can be a pretty hard taskmaster, but she is reasonable about things like how sudden illness, or family emergencies can affect my output. I’m not likely to have Me cancel a contract because I went down with the flu and couldn’t write a word worth saving for a week. I don’t have to spend on getting to book signings at my own expense because the publisher says I have to do so many a year, but won’t cover the cost of (either in royalty payments or as part of their advertising outlay). I DO get to decide how to divide my time between writing, publishing, and promotion, and getting that right is a responsibility I have control over and am accountable for to Me.

Better Returns for Time Spent

Most traditionally published writers don’t break even. They can’t guarantee that last year’s books will be earning this year, or the next, or the year after that. I can’t guarantee that either, but I can guarantee that those books will still have the chance to earn, because they will be available until I decide they aren’t. I do not have that guarantee with a publisher.

I also make more per book sold than I would if I had a publisher publish for me, or an agent taking a cut. On Amazon or Smashwords, I earn around sixty or seventy per cent of the cover price of an e-book, and up to twenty per cent on a paperback. Sometimes it’s lower, but, when it is, I can see why, and that helps a lot. With a traditional publisher, I’d be making perhaps forty percent on an e-book, and maybe 7 per cent on a paperback.

Even though my initial sales volume might be lower to start with, it has the chance to build gradually over several years, which it wouldn’t do if I published traditionally, even if I was a popular mid-list author.

Faster Returns for Time Spent
If I published with a traditional publisher, it could take several months to negotiate the contract, and then the book wouldn’t be released for another 6 to 12 months. If I independently publish, I can release my work as soon as the editing, formatting, and cover processes are complete.

NOTE: I am currently working towards a twelve-month in advance release cycle, because that way I can develop a release schedule, which helps with promotion. This sort of advance planning is also good for my stress levels, and takes the pressure off my writing. It also enables me to plan my writing and production times better. It also helps that I write different genres and different lengths, although that has a downside, too, which I will discuss in another post.

Longer-Term Returns

This dovetails into the point above. If I published traditionally, I could expect my books to be out of print within two to three years, if not sooner. That means I would have no more income from those books after that point. This might be because I’d had to agree to give away my rights for the lifetime of the copyright, in order to win the contract – not worth doing, by the way – or it could be because I couldn’t sell the reprint rights to that book to another publisher. If I independently publish, I retain my rights, and decide how long I want that book to remain available, contributing to my sales, and attracting new readers.

Freedom to Write What I Want to Write

If I want to be published traditionally, the main advice is to study the market, and write to the market, that publishers don’t want to try something new, and dislike risk on new genres. While, in some cases, this is patently untrue, it seems to hold for many. Like any other business, traditional publishers have a good idea of what sells for them, and they like to maintain those lines. So, if I publish traditionally, I am constrained by publisher requirements on genre, length, and, to a certain degree, content.

When I publish independently, I can write the story I want to write, and then see if there is an audience for it. I can take a chance on myself, my ideas, and the kinds of books I like. I can even switch genres and keep the same name, without facing opposition to my release. I can work on series at my own pace, adding a book years after I thought I’d finished, or starting a linked series. This keeps writing fun, and gives me room to grow and develop as a writer, by exploring new things.

My Readers Decide

If I publish traditionally, my publisher tells me my work is worth publishing, and they tell my readers that it is worth reading – regardless of whether either statement is true, although the publisher generally believes so, at the time. This is because a publisher’s business is to sell the books in stock. They choose a product that fits their idea of market, package it and get it out there, which is fair enough.

However, if I publish independently, then I can put out stories different to those that fit the publishing norm. My readers can decide for themselves if those stories, or my more traditional tales, are worth reading or not, and they can vote by buying or not buying as they see fit. My readers become my validators, not a single person or a small team in an editor’s office.

And, yes, my readers have surprised me with their choices, and made me look at my work with fresh eyes. I keep them in mind, whenever I am trying to decide what to write next.

Freedom of Promotion

If I publish traditionally, I have some limits on my ability to promote, and limits on what I can control about what my publisher decides to do to promote. I can’t suddenly decide to discount all my horror stories for Hallowe’en, or give away books for free because it’s my favourite author’s birthday, or whatever, because a) I don’t control that side of marketing any more, and b) it’s not nice to give some poor person in the accounting department heart failure. By the same token, I can’t stop my publisher from making my books available at half-price for a book club or any other reason, which will usually result in a fifty per cent drop in my royalties whether I like it or not.

However, if I publish independently, then those sales and promotion decisions are mine to make, and the resulting loss or gain in income my responsibility. I can live with that.

So, there you have it, ten reasons why I’ve chosen the independent publishing path.

Just remember, there is no right or wrong way to be a published author. This way might not suit what you want, and that’s okay. Whichever path you choose – GOOD LUCK.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Just Released: The Sevarine Sidestep

The Sevarine Sidestep released today.



What do you do when your brother betrays you, and you end up on another world, in the employ of a company whose recruiting methods leave a lot to be desired? Well, I guess you keep your head down, while you try to figure out a way to get back home.

And I sure miss home, right now.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Progress Report: Week Ending December 3, 2016


This week, I tried to increase my fitness routine—and, even though it is summer, I tried to incorporate my walking into my drop-off routine, aiming for a regular two-hour walk straight after school drop off. I lasted three days, before I started to get sick.
It might have been okay if the temperatures hadn’t reached over twenty-nine degrees Celsius, before I was done, on each of those days, but it did, and the rest of the week was warmer. On th fourth day, I had mild flu-like symptoms, so I rested for most of the day, but did some vacuuming and gardening in the evening, instead. On the fifth day, I was short of breath, and realised I was reacting to something local, but couldn’t pin-point what. As far as I was aware, I’m not asthmatic, although I may have become hay-feverish since coming to Canberra. Again, I rested, inside, away from the pollen, during the day, but gardened in the evening cool. I was still not a hundred percent on the seventh day, but took a short walk, nonetheless.
During this time, not a lot of writing was done, and I found myself struggling with the last two chapters of Shades of Memory. I was aiming at finishing it by the end of November, but the words were being uncooperative. My word-rate dropped from an average of 1,200 words per hour to 350. When that happens, it’s time to take a break, recharge, refresh… and do some of the chores that need to be done, go for a walk, and so forth. And that was pretty much this week.
This coming week, it’s time to follow the dated task list for the publishing side of this business – which is part of the reason why you see the increase in blogging words, this week, also. Time I got serious, right?

Overview


  • New words produced: 8,013
  • Old words revised: 0
  • Outlines and Notes: 0
  • Works completed: 0
  • Works revised: 0
  • Covers created: 0
  • Works published: 0
  • Works submitted: 0
  • Competitions Entered: 0
  • Bloggery: 0
  • University Prep and Assignments: 0
 

Stepping Up Challenge Update


  • Languages: Trying to get back into the swing of things with languages - having difficulty with the increased preparation for next year's publication schedule.
  • Non-Fiction Reading: Nil

Ingress Updates

As you’ve probably guessed from the writing numbers, I had an easy writing week, and tried to increase my walking – well the hot weather has put an end to that, until I change my routine. However, this is what I achieved this week.

On Monday, I redid 5 missions – and I'll blog about why later this month:






















I then did 11 new missions – four on Tuesday, and seven on Wednesday, in two two-hour sessions:





















  

On Tuesday, I got sunburned – Canberra summer is a time for long sleeves, not t-shirts!



The end of Wednesday's walk resulted in a pretty picture, see - check out the top row.




I also levelled, somewhere along the way:


No... Honest, guv. That, wot you see there, is not actually incoming fire from portals. No, guv, I would never attack some poor portal cos it was the wrong colour - never...

So, yeah, all joking aside, I might have been in the middle of turning some green portals blue when that happened, and they were shooting back. You don't usually get lightning when you level. It looks kinda cool, though, right?

PokemonGo Updates


Somehow, in between the ingressing, I managed to do some Pokegoing as well.

Starting the week with a level up was pretty cool:



And then I surprised myself by finding a ditto, when I had given up all hope. It was disguised as a pidgey, and I had one ball in the rucksack, so I was pretty chuffed with the catch:

 



















And I earned a badge for catching fairy-type pokemon:


So, not a bad week for PokeGo, and not a bad week for walking. 

Publishing Tasks


  • Created 14 blog posts for this blog;

New Arrivals


  • Nil