Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer's Almost Gone

I am still not spending as much time writing as I would like, but summers seem to be too busy for me. With all the guests and a few short trips, plus helping two of our kids move to new locations has taken most of my summer. But I don’t complain, not much anyway. Nice to have visitors and nice to see the kids doing well, but now I am ready to kick back a little.
Taking a break on the steps of the North Bluff Castle in Guernsey State Park
Fall seems to be my best time, I sub at the school a bit and write a lot. I still have great hopes of two books before Christmas and two more before May 1. All are written, or nearly so, but still need a bunch of work. My book of Christmas short stories in the west should be out on or before October 15, and my western mystery, “The Incident at Hell’s Half Acre,” is due out by the end of December. After Christmas, the third of my children’s chapter book series should be a go. And lastly and with great hopes, my second non-fiction history book should be available before the kids are out of school for another summer.
Colors from last fall as we hiked Black Canyon Trail

On another note, the vegetable garden is terrific this year and the flowers and lawn look pretty good. The golf game has been fair to middling and the fishing not so good. But when the snow flies I will be writing, I have a lot of projects to finish. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Making a Few Bucks Writing Books

I have been spending a lot of my summer reading time looking over writing and marketing strategy. What have I learned?

Traditionally published authors still have a leg up on independently published writers. It may be harder than ever to get a publishing contract from a traditional publisher. If a writer works in the western genre, forget it. No publisher, from a big traditional house, is taking on western writers. Some small publishers might, but their resources are limited.

If an independent writer understands aggressive marketing, he or she might have a chance to make a good living writing books. Seems to me there are quite a few writers and bloggers marketing themselves as writing gurus and making a living at it. Maybe that’s easier than writing a good mystery and selling it.

Don’t take this wrong, I do not understand a thing about marketing books or creating and selling my own brand. That’s why I read all of the marketing stuff I can. Is it working? Somewhat. Last month was the first that I made a significant (for me), amount of money. What is that for me? Over a hundred bucks – last month over $200. And I would love to make that much every month. Not a living, but then I never expected it to be. I do like the fact that it gives me a little extra spending money.

I should be much more aggressive with selling books on Facebook and on Twitter. I just can’t do it, don’t want to make friends feel like they have to buy one of my books. So, guess I will be happy with what I make. I love writing, not so much marketing the product of my time. I do enjoy talking to groups and selling a few books at that type of event. I also like leading readers to my author's page on Amazon.

A chance was offered to publish my non-fiction (CCC book) traditionally with a small publisher, but I passed as the time frame would have stretched the release date out another year.
I am deep into another non-fiction historical and once again have a chance to go more traditional, with a smaller but successful publisher. I am too old to wait for the timeline they offered and my per copy money would be less than .50 cents, not nearly as good as going the self-pub route. Guess I will stick to making my pin-money income and enjoying the writing.

What am I going to do next? Head out to the golf course and enjoy the day.
All blog posts are better with a photo of Bison relaxing in the noon-day sun.

Think I will go on with the idea of - writing for the story, and hoping for the best.
Last evening another wonderful sunset

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is That a Western You're Reading?

Seems like westerns have suffered through an identity crisis the past few years. Too many people still see everything written about the west as the old formula western. And they are still being written, some good and some not so good.
One of my favorite writers, Glendon Swarthout, who wrote. They Came to Cordura, The Shootist, and many other terrific books never thought of himself as a writer of westerns. I read a piece recently where Mr. Swarthout said in 1985, ''I never set out to write a western, I used western settings to tell stories that are universal.''
That seems to be the key to great westerns, tell the story first and if it happens to fall into the western genre, great.
Home Sweet Home

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summertime and the Writing is Slow

Some days, okay, most days I am glad I don't have to make a living as a writer. I do consider myself a full time writer but I have an income other than from writing, and boy am I glad. Last month was terrific but this month is starting slow, only a handful of sales so far. 

I am just too distracted by things other than writing in the summer, hiking,  playing golf, photographer and spending time with kids and grand-kids seems to occupy most of my time. Oh - and then there is the lawn and garden, they take no time in the winter. This summer we are tackling painting the house also. No wonder I am not getting much writing done. 

Seems like most of my writing is now late at night and about an hour is all I can squeeze in before sleep comes calling. In winter I will write up to 3,000 words a day, now maybe a couple of hundred. Need a few more rain days,  miserable type days so I can get some work done. 

I am closing in on completion of my Christmas Short Story book and it looks like it will be out as planned this fall. Where I am falling badly behind is with my new nonfiction book, still researching and the going is slow, hope it does not take the two years my CCC book did. 

Enjoy the outdoors, it's summertime!
My wife enjoying a cool mountain stream