On Being Selfish

by Harvey on March 5, 2015

Hey Folks,

This is another “extra” post, not part of the regular 10-day cycle.

If I could assume the attitude of any other writer, it would be that of Ray Bradbury. There are a lot of quotations about him and from him, but the one biggie I always associate with him is, “I love to write. It’s all I do.”

It’s very easy for me to allow myself to slip into living in the past. Had I found Heinlein’s Rules and WITD (Writing Into the Dark, such a simple, freeing technique) when I was in high school, I probably would never have done anything else in my life. What a wonderful life that would have been.

But as Charlie Task keeps reminding me, all I can do is make the most of the present. It is what it is.

Still, there are some things for which I’m grateful. Chief among them is that I’m very glad I don’t still carry around the illusion of immortality that comes with youth.

A friend recently reminded me that fifteen years ago last month (February), I was recuperating from The Ross Procedure, an operation during which my aortic and pulmonic valves were replaced. If you like medical stuff and science, look it up. It’s interesting.

Of course, me being who I am, the surgery, which should have taken 4.5 hours, took 7.5 instead. And afterward I coded. I laugh and tell people I died three times that day. Twice my heart was stopped and my body temp lowered to facilitate the operation. The third time probably my spirit stepped out for a look around. Or maybe a sip of Jameson’s.

That is when I learned I wasn’t immortal, and it brought with it a lesson on the value of time. And that lesson is why I’m glad I don’t still carry around the illusion of immortality. I know how important priorities are, and there is zero ambiguity in my life regarding my priorities.

Well, for whatever reason, I didn’t find Heinlein’s Rules and WITD in my early youth. But you would think Fate would have allowed me to stumble across them in February 2000, right? That would have been perfect, finding those gems at the same time I learned the true value of time.

Just think. That would have been fifteen more years that I would have been turning out my own work rather than trying to teach others how to write. Let’s see. At six novels per year (minimum) and one short story per week, that would have been 90 novels and 780 short stories. Not a bad body of work.

But it is what it is.

I didn’t find Heinlein’s Business Rules for Writers or the WITD technique until February 2014, a year ago as I write this. I didn’t start using them until mid-April 2014, and even then I was still glued to the notion that I could help other writers.

I started sawing on the umbilical cord in August, and finally, finally, I cut them adrift in October. Between late October and the end of December, I wrote three novels. That’s in addition to writing at least one short story per week since April 15. As you read this, that challege will end in six weeks. Maybe. I might keep the streak alive.

If I keep my one-story-per-week streak going at least until then, I will have written 59 short stories in that 52 weeks. Plus the three novels. Plus a novella. And I published all of those stories individually and in 13 collections.

I’m not bragging here. I’m just saying, like everybody else who has to put up with living in a mortal shell, I don’t get a redo. But that’s all right, because now I know the value of time and that life is a matter of priorities. And of course, like everyone else, I set my own priorities.

Is that selfish of me? Sure. Absolutely. But it is what it is.

Now, at long last, I can say, “I love to write. It’s all I do.” If you’re a writer, I wish the same for you.

Harvey

If you’d care to learn about Heinlein’s Rules and Writing Into the Dark yourself, visit the Audio Lectures tab on my website and look at Lecture 12.

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

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Read an Ebook Week Special Offer

by Harvey on March 2, 2015

Hi Folks,

Over at Smashwords, any of my fiction—short stories, novellas or novels—that’s regularly priced at $2.99 or higher is 50% off this week only, now through March 7.

To take full advantage of this offer, simply select the books you want and then apply coupon code RAE50 when you check out. Be sure to check for short stories, collections, novels and novellas on my page and on Eric Stringer’s page. Also, you’ll find short stories and collections on Gervasio Arrancado’s page and on Nicolas Z Porter’s page. Here are the specific URLs:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/HEStanbrough

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/EStringer

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NZPorter

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/GArrancado

Be sure to tell all your friends!

Thanks, and happy reading!

Harvey

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A Few Guidelines for Writers

by Harvey on March 1, 2015

Hi Folks,

The guidelines below are truisms, facts, not opinions. They will work for hobby writers, part-time writers and professional writers. If you are not a writer or if you believe you have to “suffer” for your art or any of that, they won’t work for you. Note: I’m all about intentions and facts, not perceptions. If you disagree with any or all of this post, please don’t email me. I’ll just smile, shrug and say, “Okay.”

To the Important Stuff

A writer is a person who writes, who puts new words on the page. It’s a person who loves to tell stories in written communication. There’s nothing elevated about it, nothing special except that you get to spend your life making up stuff for a living. If that definition fits you, or if you WANT that definition to fit you, here are a few guidelines that might help.

  • Your conscious critical mind exists to protect you. Like the benevolent android in Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands,” it’s sole function is to keep you from being harmed… even by rejection. That’s why it’s so much easier to spend all your time rewriting and polishing instead of moving forward and writing the next story. No risk of rejection as long as you’re rewriting.
  • Your subconscious creative mind is the source of all your inspiration, all your story ideas, and all your stories. If you get out of your own way and trust your subconscious, you will write in your own original voice. Then your only challenge is to NOT go back and rewrite and polish until you’ve erased your voice and made your story sound like everything else in the slush pile.
  • Everything in life is a matter of priorities. My critical mind often will use that to attempt to “save me” from writing. When I’m about to write, suddenly doing something else (anything else) becomes a priority. And I shake my index finger at my critical mind. No! BAD critical mind! Get back in your corner and leave me alone! My creative mind has stories to write! I wanna run and play with my fictional friends now. You get the idea.
  • Productivity is what I’m all about as a writer. The more work I put out there, the more I practice my writing, the better it becomes. Also the more books and stories I have to feed off of each other and the more income I receive from my writing. Period. This is the same reason every time I get five new stories I slap them into a collection in both ebook and paper. When I get ten, I put them in another collection. That gives me three streams of passive revenue from every story I write. Can you say Ka-ching?
  • Productivity can be reduced to mathematics, and math is a concrete, finite thing. Here’s the equation: P = PW/h(H). Or Productivity equals publishable words you can write per hour times the number of hours you spend in the chair putting new words on the page. If you want to increase your productivity, you have to increase one of those two factors.
  • Words per hour… Truly, this is a biggie. I write about 1000 publishable words per hour. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But if you’re writing 1000 words per hour, that’s only 17 words per minute. Think about that. Writing 1000 words per hour gives you a LOT of time for staring off into space. If you’re getting less than 700 or 800 words per hour, you might want to check in with yourself and figure out what you’re doing during that hour. You can safely bet it’s linked to your critical mind. Seriously. Don’t tell me or anyone else about it if you don’t want to (it’s nobody’s business but your own anyway), but if you’re serious about being a professional writer, Fix It. If you aren’t, of course, no biggie.

A little more on that… a lot of us took typing in high school. My best rate was 60 mostly error-free words per minute. Extrapolated out, that’s 3600 words per hour. Do I expect to be able to write 3600 words per hour? Of course not. But it kind’a makes that 1000 words per hour seem really do-able. You can look back and punch in your own figures.

Oh, as an addendum, N-E-V-E-R write “crap” intentionally. That you “should” write crap the first time through is just the dumbest advice ever. Do the best you can on the first time through, spell check it, then have a first reader check it for consistency and errors (no writing advice!). Then publish it. Then write the next story. (Again, if you disagree, please don’t email me. Just go ahead and do what you want.)

If you’re wondering about how to price print books, here’s the gist:

Don’t devalue your work. Just don’t. I did that for years. No more.

Set your list price so you make at least $2 on Extended Distribution, the royalty you receive after everybody (Baker & Taylor, Ingram, the other smaller distributors, bookstores) takes their cut. No matter which printer you use (I use CreateSpace) there’s a nifty free royalty calculator at https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content6:royaltyCalculator. I strongly recommend you bookmark it or whatever you call it.

On all vendors (Amazon, B&N, et al) the print price and the ebook price are linked. At the worst, you won’t sell many print books but the price of your print book will drive readers to buy your ebooks.

Okay, there y’go. Writing is fun. You just have to get out of your own way.

‘Til next time, happy writing, or whatever you do for fun.

Okay, starting on March 11 I’m going to put up my Microsoft Word for Writers series of posts. If you are mystified by all the bells and whistles on Microsoft Word, stay tuned. If you know someone who is, ask them to subscribe. After all, it’s free unless you decide to drop a little something in the tip jar. :-)

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

 

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On “Way” and “Process” and Other Stuff

by Harvey on February 26, 2015

Hi Folks,

This is a personal aside. It isn’t part of the regular series, which comes out every ten days. There’s some humor here, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you take it seriously… well, that’s a function of your perception of yourself, not my intent.

Here’s the thing: People keep talking about me having found “my way” to be a writer. Then most often they congratulate me, as if I’d been out in the Superstitions digging test holes for the past 40 years and finally, just last week, found my “way.”

For reasons I’ll discuss a little later in this post, the congratulations are neither warranted nor necessary. The first couple of times this happened, I even told the person something like, “Thanks, but congratulations are not necessary.” But it didn’t matter, see, ’cause the congrats weren’t sincere anyway. They were merely the prelude to the dressing down I was about to receive.

So right after the congrats, that’s when the insanity starts. My assailants usually begin by saying that although they’re happy for me (a lie), my “way” won’t necessarily work for anyone else (a lie) and pretty much everybody has to find their own “way” (a lie) so “Please stop giving me advice!”

What? Really? You want that someone who is successful at doing what you’re not successful at doing but allegedly want to be successful at doing should stop passing along time-honored lessons learned that he received from other highly successful people in the same field in which you currently attempting an ongoing endeavor?

Shrug. Okay. No problem.

Seriously, I don’t care. I’m not saying that because you hurt my feelings (you can’t) or offended me (again, you can’t unless you use a firearm or a knife or a really large stick). I’m saying I don’t care because I obviously wasted my time (and I don’t want to waste anymore) passing along those lessons to someone whom I thought wanted to learn about her chosen craft.

Totally my fault. I was wrong. I should have known better. Most wannabe writers are far too steeped in myths about writing to extricate themselves. You go on back to your twenty-third draft. I have a story to write and publish.

Sigh. I really do want to help, so sometimes I do say more. That’s an unfortunate side effect of “I have the knowledge to help” multiplied by “I’m stupid enough to try one more time.” And if I do say absolutely anything else about it at all, well, everything goes downhill from there.

I have to say folks, I am constantly incredulated (a victim, perhaps, of a medical condition called persistent incredulositis that I just made up) that this sort of thing happens so often. I honestly don’t understand why so many people take offense when I offer them writing advice. I mean, if you don’t want to accept it, don’t. After all, it’s worth precisely what you paid for it. If you don’t agree with it or if you don’t even want to try it for yourself, ignore it.

Oops. There I go giving you advice again. I can just hear it. “You can’t tell me what to do! I don’t have to ignore your advice unless I want to! You’re not the boss of me!” Perhaps I should have written, “Ignore it, or not, whatever you want to do.” Seriously, I couldn’t begin to care less. Here’s why.

In the first place, the advice I pass along is fact, not opinion. It isn’t something I made up. It’s what I’ve learned from other, very successful sources. Yet upon receiving such advice (after they asked) the pretentious avant-garde set leaps to their feet, points at me, and begins jumping up and down screaming,

“That’s YOUR way! You can’t force that on me! I have a right to my OWN way! I have to spend time contemplating my CREATIVE PROCESS and mulling over my CHOICES as a PERSON and I have the right to call myself a writer even if I don’t do it YOUR way which is, you know, to actually write stuff, and you have absolutely NO right to define “writer” for me because my definition is up to me and I’m never gonna do what you tell me to do no matter what you say, Hater!”

Then they slap their hands over their ears and jump up and down and run around in circles while screaming “La la la la la!” to shut out my voice. Wow. And we’re not even married.

Okay. Thing is, I didn’t find “my” way, okay? So please stop saying that. Now, people are different. If you personally feel you have to contemplate your “creative process” or find your particular “way” or any of that, great. Knock yourself out. But don’t include me in all that. Again, I didn’t find “my” way. What I found was Bradbury’s way and Heinlein’s way and the way of every long-term, highly productive professional fiction writer who ever lived: I write.

I don’t spend so much as a second contemplating my creative process, and I absolutely do not “give myself permission” to do anything, ever. I hasten to add, if you feel you have to go through all those machinations, that’s fine with me. I just write.

Oh, and I don’t accept advice on writing fiction from folks who are less productive than I. If you’re a priest and you want to describe what it’s like to be on your side of a confessional, that’s wonderful. If you’re a surgeon and you can fill me in on what it’s like to slice through those layers from the skin to the heart, that’s great. But if you’re a writer and you are less successful and productive than I, well, that would just be silly. It would be kind’a sort’a like accepting advice on driving a sixteen-wheeler across the country from a person who has only driven her Prius around the block once a day for the last thirty years.

Finally, I don’t offer advice on what I don’t know to be true. I just don’t. I also don’t claim to be what I’m not, although certainly what anyone else chooses to do in that regard is strictly up to them. I mean, if I called myself a mechanic or plumber or firefighter or lawyer or doctor or grocery store clerk, I would feel compelled to actually fix engines or plumb pipes or fight fires or practice law or practice medicine or spray water on vegetables. But I’m not any of those things.

I’m a writer. I write.

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

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A Tip and Resources for Writers of Short Fiction

by Harvey on February 21, 2015

Hi Folks,

Dean Wesley Smith is the professional long-term fiction writer whom I consider my mentor. He’s made his living with his fiction for over 3o years and has well over 100 novels published through traditional publishers. This is back before traditional publishers lost their minds and made their contracts completely one-sided.

I emailed Dean about my most recent (at the time, back in November, 2014) short story, “Saving the Grenlow”:

“Seriously doubt I’m up to Asimovs or any of that yet, but I did just post (yesterday) my latest short story of the week, an SF piece a little under 3,000 words based on one of our assignments in the SF workshop. I think you might like it if you get time to drop by.”

His reponse?

“Wow, Sheila [Williams, editor] would be angry if she read that. How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her? And it clearly hasn’t sunk in yet for you that writers are the worst judges of their own work. You are going to need to learn that and stop devaluing your work with false judgements.”

So there you go. As some of you know, I don’t usually “devalue” my own work. That particular time, the groveling just snuck up on me, probably because I was talking with my mentor. But his “How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her?” really hit me. Duh. Don’t devalue your own work with false judgments. Seriously.

Topic of the Day: Traditional Publishing for Short Fiction

Don’t misread this. I would NEVER advocate going the traditional publishing route with novels, not the way traditional publishers’ contracts read right now. Don’t take my word for it. Check ‘em out for yourself. And when you read the part that says your book belongs to the publishing company until it goes “out of print,” remember that “print” now includes ebooks, which literally NEVER go out of print. Be careful out there.

On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a quick few hundred dollars on a short story BEFORE self-publishing it to Amazon and Smashwords, right?

If any of you would like to find traditional short story markets that pay professional rates, DWS and another person in a workshop with me suggested checking these sites:

Duotrope at http://duotrope.com

The Grinder at http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/

Also, look for some of the big annual short story anthologies, like the ‘Best Short stories of XYZ year” and some of the major genre annual anthologies. They’ll list the markets the stories came from, as well as a list of markets that were considered for inclusion.

The Pushcart Prize anthology also has great lists of nominated magazines, with addresses.

With short fiction, of course, you should always follow their guidelines. To not do so is an insult.

So there you have it. Believe in yourself. You believed in your story enough to write it, so submit it and see what happens. There’ll be plenty of time to self-publish to Smashwords and Amazon when rights revert to you after traditional publication. After you’ve pocketed that three hundre dollar check.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

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Announcement — WooHoo!

by Harvey on February 16, 2015

Hi Folks,

Just an announcement today.

I’m ever cognizant that there are writers too far away to attend my on-site seminars and writing intensives. And frankly, I’m not doing many of them anymore anyway.

To that end, I put together some audio lectures. There are several on various aspects of the craft itself, and today I decided to put the best technique I’ve ever learned back in the lineup.

It’s called Writing Off Into the Dark. If you know any writers who might be interested, please let them know. They can get all the information on all the lectures at http://harveystanbrough.com/lecture-series. For Writing Off Into the Dark, scroll down to Lecture 12.

Pssst. I first discovered Writing Off Into the Dark not quite a year ago. I began applying it and Heinlein’s Business Rules in mid-April of 2014. Since then, I’ve written 52 short stories, 3 novels and a novella in just over 313,000 words. I’ve written another 29,000 words on my current novel. What’s really cool is that 275,740 of those words came since 1 October 2014. And what’s even cooler than that is that from January 1 to February 16, I’ve written just under 110,000 words (109,763).

All because of Writing Off Into the Dark and Heinlein’s Rules.

Now granted, this is not the way your English teacher or your critique group says you should write. Then again, my English teacher never wrote and published a novel. And as for critique groups, if the members are more widely published than I am and have a larger readership, I’ll listen.

Thing is, this is how Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein and all the pulp writers and every long-term professional writer out there writes. That’s good enough a recommendation for me. (grin)

Anyway, all the audio lectures are good. I suggest you swing by and look at them, especially if you haven’t taken my seminars or if you missed a few. Once you sign up for one, you can listen to it as often as you like and come back to it whenever you like.

Back on the 21st with the next regular post.

‘Til then, happy writing!
Harvey

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Hi Folks,

This is a common problem for all writers. We all have to stop writing at various times for different reasons. The trick is to get started again.

I’m not talking about stopping writing once an hour or so to move around a bit. I’m talking here about stopping for the day and coming back to a blank page. Or stopping because Life Happens, perhaps you become ill or a loved one has a problem you have to deal with or whatever.

When those life events happen (and they happen to everyone), if you’re a mechanic, you deal with the life event, then go back to your job. If you’re a lawyer, same thing. If you’re a postal worker or a tuba player in the local symphony. If you’re a writer, after the life event you go back to writing. You start again, or restart.

But what if you don’t want to?

It’s extremely easy to allow yourself “time off” from your writing when you have no valid reason for doing so. What’s that? You don’t need a reason? So you don’t need a reason to stop doing your job? Remember, I’m talking to writers here. Writers write.

If you feel like you need to just not write for awhile for whatever reason, check in with yourself: which fear is requiring you to want “time off” from writing? Fear that once you finish you’ll have to submit it for publication or publish it? Fear that an editor will reject your work? Or if you self-publish, fear that some other reader won’t like it? Or perhaps you just realized you’re working on a NOVEL, this huge thing, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, like no possible way can you finish something so large and intimidating. Is that it?

Whatever fear is keeping you from writing, remember that it’s not an actual limitation. It’s a false limitation, a mirage. When you identify that fear, push it down and get started again. Just put your fingers on the keyboard and write what comes. Smile. Enjoy it. Have fun!

If your immediate mental response to all this began with “But,” again, check in with yourself. Identify the fear. Laugh at it, push it down and write.

If you’re in the midst of a work in progress (WIP), the same thing applies. Read a bit of what you’ve written (a paragraph or two or three) to remind yourself of where you are in the storyline, then put your fingers on the keyboard and just write whatever comes. Remember, your subconscious knows the story better than you do.

Ah, but what if nothing comes? Then chances are you need to begin a whole new scene. Don’t worry about chronology for now. Just Write. You can move scenes around later if necessary.

Just so you know, I’m not talking from on high here. This happens to me regularly. Especially while writing Wes 2 (file name for my second novel in a series) I find myself suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I know it’s going to be a novel, so I sometimes slip into feeling overwhelmed.

It’s like the old joke, How do you eat an elephant? The answer applies, of course: One bite at a time. The notion that I have to “write a novel” is overwhelming. But writing a scene is easy. It’s fun. I get to run and play with my friends for an hour or so. Then I take a break, then write another scene. Then another. Then another. Eventually, I eat the whole elephant, but only one bite at a time.

Try it. It works. I promise.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into
Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

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Scammers in Pretty Clothing

by Harvey on February 1, 2015

Before the post, a brief housekeeping note. For those of you who enjoy my writing or would like to sample my novels, I’ve just updated the site over at http://hestanbrough.com/novels/. Click on any cover on that page and it will take you to the specific page for that novel where you will find an excerpt. I’m especially excited about the novella, A Little Time. It was a great deal of fun to write. :-) If you didn’t know, the main page of that site holds a new, free, freshly minted short story each week. Thanks! Now on to the post.

This post first appeared in slightly different form as an article in the November 2014 issue of  the Society of Southwestern Authors (SSA) newsletter, The Write Word.

Hey Folks,

I recently received an email from a place called Publish Wholesale. They were interested in “publishing my manuscript for less.” For just less than $1000, they offered all the same “features” offered by scammers who charge sometimes 4 or 5 times more.

But the specific name of the subsidy publisher doesn’t matter. A scam is a scam, and all subsidy publishers are scams. All of them. Period.

DON’T  CONFUSE  SUBSIDY  PUBLISHING  WITH  SELF-PUBLISHING.
THEY’RE  NOT  THE  SAME THING.

1. WHEN YOU USE A SUBSIDY PUBLISHER

  • You pay an up-front fee, usually hundreds or thousands of dollars, to publish your work. Most of them then continue to up-sell you on other services or products or offer as premiums things that you could easily get free by yourself (a website or a Facebook or Twitter account, for example).
  • The publishing company retains ownership of all files they create during the process (Read the Contract!) including the text and cover and the website if they create one for you. If you decide later you want to self-publish, you have to pay a stiff penalty to retrieve your own work, and often the company’s watermark will be imbedded on every page so you have to retype the whole thing anyway.
  • The publishing company insists on receiving a split of your royalties. (Seriously? Are you kidding me? You paid them to publish your work. That should be their total cut.)  In other words, they continue to charge you a fee for publishing your work. Again, read the contract.

2. WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO SELF-PUBLISH, you have two options: you either format your document for ebook and/or print yourself and design your own cover, or you pay someone to do those things for you. Whether you do it yourself or pay someone to prep the files for you

  • YOU retain ownership of your copyright and all of your files, including the cover(s).
  • YOU retain 100% of net royalties.

Formatting your Word document for epublication and/or POD publication is not difficult, but it is a tedious and exacting process. If you don’t want to take the time to learn to do this yourself, I recommend paying someone to do it for you. My recommendation ArenaPublishing.org, a service provider, not a subsidy publisher.

The book cover is the first thing the potential reader sees. Creating an attractive, attention-grabbing cover is essential. Whatever you do, don’t just slap something together for a cover and declare it “good enough.” It isn’t, and it will cost you sales.

I’ve seen a LOT of amateur covers on what might be very well-written books. A bad cover will cost you a lot of sales. Don’t skimp in this area.

I recommend downloading the free version of Serif’s PagePlus desktop publishing software. It rivals Adobe’s program and even the full Serif PagePlus program is only a fraction of the cost of anything Adobe makes. I use Serif PageMaker (the full version) to create all my covers.

But again, if you don’t want to learn to do this yourself, let someone else do it for you. Again, I recommend ArenaPublishing.org.

WE’RE LIVING IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PUBLISHING. As an example, in the 16 days between October 27 and November 12 of 2014, I compiled and published five 5-story collections of short fiction, three 10-story collections of short fiction, and a novel. All of those were available as ebooks in over 90 nations worldwide and as print books within a week or so of publication.

UPDATE: Between April 15, 2014 and January 29, 2015 (so 9 months and 2 weeks) I’ve written and published 290,375 words of original fiction. That includes 49 short stories and three novels. I’m also 8,000 words into my fourth novel. That’s what’s possible in this wonderful new world of publishing.

These publications didn’t cost me a dime out-of-pocket because I did the formatting and covers myself. I retain ownership of all my files, and I retain 100% of net royalties.

Even if I had paid say $200 to get each of these titles out there, that would be my total expenditure, period. It’s an investment. I’ll never spend another dime on them, and the passive income from them will continue for 70 years after my death.

Because they’re all self-published, there are no royalty splits, no returns, no torn-off covers, no remainders. There is no “shelf life” as there is with traditional publishing. And like I said above, these stories—individually, in collections, and the novel—will continue to bring in passive income until 70 years after my death. Again, that’s passive income. If I work, it comes in. If I stop working, it still comes in. And when I kick off, it will still come in for my children and grandchildren.

So don’t be confused over self-publishing vs. subsidy publishing. Self-publishing is a very good thing. Subsidy publishing is a scam, period. A subsidy publisher can’t do ANYthing for you that you can’t do for yourself at either no cost or low cost.

For a lot more on self-publishing, visit http://harveystanbrough.com/downloads or just click this link: Quick Guide to Self-Publishing & FAQs. It’s free. You won’t be sorry.

Next up in this series of posts, some tips on Starting and Restarting your writing.

‘Til next time, happy writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into
Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

A Note on the Creative Process

by Harvey on January 21, 2015

Hey Folks,

Back in mid-December 2014 a friend wrote in a private blog post that a non-writing creative project she was working on “would go faster if I didn’t keep redesigning it.”

For me, that sounded like her subconscious popping up to slap her around a little.

Like me, she’s a proponent and practitioner of just writing off into the dark. That is, we Just Write, allowing the characters to lead us into and out of situations as they race through the story.

But sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes our critical conscious mind creeps in and tries to “save” us from making a mistake. It tells us to figure out what’s going to happen next and what direction the story is going to take and on and on and on.

Just yesterday  (as I write this) I was ready to throw in the towel on the third novel in the Wes Crowley series. I was tempted to either slap an end on it and call it a novella or just stop writing it until I Figured Out Where It Was Going. And therein lay the battle: if I’m trusting my subconscious, I don’t even WANT to know where it’s going. The great Ray Bradbury himself once said (I’m paraphrasing) that nothing literary was ever created as the result of thought. But sometimes I slip. Remember, I’ve only been at this Writing Into the Dark stuff a little less than a year.

So anyway, I don’t WANT to know where my story’s going when I’m writing. When I have no clue where the story’s going, it and I are 8 or 10 years old, fresh and alive and laughing and racing through the woods naked and it’s FUN.

But when I have the story all planned out or when I otherwise keep forcing it, the the story is trudging through the woods before me at the point of my Almighty Writer’s sword, its hands cuffed behind its back, a prisoner of my conscious, critical mind. And oh yes, it WILL damned sure do what I tell it to do or else.

Sigh… folks, despite all the crap you hear pouring out of the mouths of teachers and critiquers and agents and other non-writers, the truth is, Writing is supposed to be fun, not drudgery. But when it’s all planned out as in the paragraph above, I might just as well stop, force the story to dig its own grave, and then run it through with that Almighty Writer’s sword to bring the misery to an end for both of us, because THAT is when writing is drudgery.

Now I’m gonna get back to writing my novel. :-) And my story of the week. :-) And a bunch of other stuff.

Update: As this posts, I finished the novel (and the series) and an unrelated novella and a few more short stories. :-) My streak continues of writing at least one new short story per week.

‘Til next time, happy, drudgery-free writing!

Harvey

Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into
Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!

A Public Service Announcement… sort of

by Harvey on January 13, 2015

Yeah, sort of. If you’re a writer, you need resources, and the fact is, I’m a good one. I’ve recently revamped the Writers’ Resources listing in the right sidebar of my page.

That sidebar contains a list of copyeditors as well as various useful tools: several dictionaries for everything from slang to sex; language translators and conversion resources for measurements, mileage, money and more; invaluable information for would-be independent publishers; character naming conventions; free apps; free or inexpensive alternatives to Microsoft Word; and a great deal more.

Among the great deal more there are also miscellaneous resources, such as the newly added Historical Maps site where you can get free digital maps, two resources concerning gardening, two or three quotation sites, notes on police procedures, and links to various writers’ groups. Seriously, take a look.

I also point directly to the websites of Dean Wesley Smith and Steven Pressfield. If you haven’t visited Dean’s website, you are missing out on a TON of great information for writers and indie publishers (and you are an indie publisher if you’re a writer and you’re smart). If you haven’t yet read Pressfield’s Do the Work and The War of Art, well, just stop complaining about not finding time to write ’cause really, seriously, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Of course, there are also my very own instructional blog posts, which come out every ten days and which of course I hope you find useful. I don’t care for false modesty, so I’ll just say, without bragging, if you read my regular posts, you will learn a great deal about writing, and it will be good information, not the inane bullcookies you hear from people who hold themselves up as experts although they’ve never published anything. I mean, puh-lease.

One thing… Beginning with my next post, you’ll receive those on the 1st, 11th and 21st day of the month. Up until now they were going out on the 10th, 20th and 30th, but despite protracted, endlessly frustrating negotiations, my team thus far has been unable to get February to go along with the program re the posting on the 30th. So I’m making the switch.

Just in case you’re scratching your head and saying something like “Huh?” the problem is that February has only 28 days, except every four years when it begrudgingly adds a 29th day, apparently to tease us and show us it could get to 30 if only it wanted to, which of course it does not because, frankly, that’s just the way February is.

Okay, finally, I’ve also decided to take the plunge into donation land. I mean, I’m a professional writer. I make my living with my words, except the words in my instructional blog posts, which I give you because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Okay, but warm, fuzzy feelings don’t put bacon on the table, and the fact is, I like bacon, despite the fact that (or maybe because) liking bacon isn’t politically correct because it isn’t made from soy.

So if you’re one of those folks who tells me now and then how much you learn from these posts or how valuable they are or how reading them doesn’t actually give you a migraine, hey, I hope you’ll consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar. You can click the preceding link or you’ll find a button in the upper right corner. And if you’re one of those folks who like to remain silent because, after all, that’s your right, but you also enjoy the posts, learn from them and so on, I hope you’ll consider tossing a tip my way as well.

I’m a full-time fiction writer now, which means I’m making my living with my words. In the past 9 months, since April 15, 2014, I’ve written over a quarter-million words of fiction (263,441 to be exact). That doesn’t include blog posts and other nonfiction. In those 263,441 words are 46 short stories and 3 novels. During that time also, I collected the stories in 12 short fiction collections and the novels into a trilogy. Finally, during that time I created 62 book covers and published those 62 works to over 100 nations around the world through various ebook and print venues. Not bad for an old man, eh? (grin)

I’m just sayin’, writing blogs posts and seminars and other nonfiction is no longer my main focus. When I write a blog post to help you out, it costs me time that I could otherwise use to tell a story. And frankly, telling stories—sitting at my keyboard making stuff up—is a great deal more fun. (grin)

Oh speaking of which, I also added a tip jar to my fiction showcase website over at HEStanbrough.com. If you sign up over there, you get a free, brand new, freshly minted short story every week. Anyway, that’s the same tip jar so don’t feel like you have to hit both of them, okay? But yeah, one would be nice. (grin) You know, if you can see your way clear.

Those tips will help me keep these blog posts going. Oh, and if you do decide to toss something into the kitty, as they say down in Texas, Bless yer hort.

Coming up, in addition to new blog posts, I’ll also be reposting a series on Microsoft Word for Writers and a revised series on Being a Professional Writer as well as a lot of other good stuff.

Until then, happy writing!

Harvey

 

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