Feelin’ 7 UP, I’m Feelin’ 7 UP! How I’m Going to Survive “Black Wednesday”

4x5 original

4×5 original

AKA July 1. Yeah, this morning I woke up optimistic for the first time this week. Not because the new KU is going to work out for me – every sign indicates that it’s not. In three days of KU 2.0, I’ve made…$100. I made $200 the last three days of June. Sure, Gretel, we were dumb, thinking that the nice witch had invited us into the gingerbread house to eat all the doors and windows we wanted without paying for it. Of course at some point she’s going to try and cook and eat our nicely fattened bodies. But if you remember the end of the fairy tale, even in the grimmest version of the Grimm stories, it’s the witch who ends up dead.

I have a strategy that I believe will pay off. Diversify, diversify, diversify. I put all my eggs (or gingerbread) in one basket, Kindle Unlimited. Big mistake. Not because I was going to sell anything on any other site – no, Amazon was always 90% of my income. My writing income, that is. That was my mistake, betting that I could write gayroms full time forever thanks to the KU system. Nope! Not gonna happen.

So here’s the plan:

1. Hiring myself out as editor, copyeditor, ebook formatter, manuscript adviser, etc. I’ve already talked to two people this morning about this. I’ve done 100% of this for myself for three years now, why not share that expertise with others? If you think you might be interested, here’s a link to my “Why should I hire you?” manifesto. Just from the two conversations I’ve had so far, I’m excited – it’ll be nice to have some work that employs my “other side,” cerebral/analytical, that’s about working with people and not just wrestling with myself.

2. Getting my ass in gear on Bradiobooks. They cost me nothing and if they pay off they pay off a lot bigger than KU for damn sure. There was an article in the NY Times this a.m. about Stephen King’s release of an audiobook-only story.

“Digital audiobooks have become one of the fastest growing categories in publishing, bolstered by the growing use of smartphones. Revenue and unit sales for downloaded audio grew around 27 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year, easily outpacing e-books and print.”

And I have the voice for it, at least for my own work. I’ve got the studio set up and run my sample past the world with a recording of “Kyle’s New Stepbrother.” The funny thing is, after listening to the opening to the free “Gone Girl” audiobook I got with my Audible membership, on my Bose headphones? I can’t tell the difference in output quality between that book and mine. I’ve got a Blue Snowball, Audacity software, some foam panels and some YouTube videos…and I’m in business. Admittedly, it’s something I need to do when I feel happy and excited, not stressed and depressed – I’ve got to have that “kick” in my voice to make the story pop, and that’s some of why I’ve put it off lately. Well, I’m back there now.

3. Finish “Werewolves of Brooklyn,” which will probably NOT go into KU. I can get a big boost at ARE etc. for a month or two, but then titles die out there, there’s no “long tail.” At that point, when it’s dead at other sites, I can put it into KU, but under this model, there’s no advantage to going exclusive with it at Amazon on Day One – especially at 50k words.

4. Get back to Adam Vance and the FJ One series. Adam’s been on the side shelf for a while, with good reason.  He’s a long term investment – it’s going to take multiple installments in the series before anything really takes off. But. At this point, with romance and erotica looking more and more like a lose-lose proposition, these stories are looking more and more like something I need to get back to now.  Yes, he’s in KU, and will stay there – Amazon is the Eater of Worlds when it comes to original ebook science fiction.  And, there are economies of scale to think about – the SF market is *far bigger* than the gay romance market, so even at the shitty borrow rates we’re at now, Adam has a better chance on making it on the Wal-Mart model, a fraction of a profit on each unit made up for in volume.

Finally, there’s this, another article from the Times today. It’s about a small town that’s managing to survive despite the nationwide tendency of small towns to dry up and blow away.  I’m not the “life lessons” guy but there was quite a lot that resonated in this for me, in this situation.

Ms. Pratt, 35 and full of energy, had been a store display designer at Coldwater Creek and she could have easily left Sandpoint for other opportunities. Instead, she stayed on. She downsized her house, told her family in Oklahoma that she would not be coming home, and tried something new.

For $5,000, she bought a 30-year-old delivery van in Seattle and drove back to Idaho listening for every pop and gurgle from under the old white hood, then refurbished it as a one-woman mobile flower shop. She named the truck Mabel. She bet her future on the challenge of delivering bouquets, and selling blooms from parking lots.

“The question was always, ‘What can I do to stay?’” she said, surveying the quiet morning trade from under Mabel’s little awning, with bouquets all around her. “I was dug in.”

…Once, on a story about grizzly bears, I met a man whose grandfather had homesteaded a ranch in the late 1800s, alone at age 16 in one of the hardest and coldest corners of northern Montana. The boy, his grandson said, had taken the train from New York, got off at the end of the line, staked a claim and lived under a wagon through a frigid winter until a shack could be thrown together.

Somehow, that boy and that family had clung to the land, and were still there.

…The common thread over and over? A bold act of risk. If movement was the tidal surge that filled the West with hopefuls, then the laying down of a wager after that — trying something new rather than moving again — was the illusive force that kept them. And then they kept betting, through losses and long odds that chased others off.

That grit — the tendency to sustain interest and effort in very long-term goals — is intimately linked to achievement, according to a growing body of psychological research. Intelligence, it turns out, may be no more vital to future success and happiness than stubborn persistence.

…[Pratt] told me the Western small-town ethos — the reason places like Sandpoint survive — might ultimately come down to putting a pebble in your shoe.

In making her one-woman company, a friend who been through the entrepreneurial trenches gave her some advice: Order more flowers than you think you could possibly sell, because then you’ll have pressure, and a bit of anxiety — and that little frisson of added risk is what puts you out there, willing your product in the world.

“It’s O.K. being uncomfortable. That was the lesson,” Ms. Pratt said one afternoon. Her homey Mason jar vases for bouquets were stacked behind her, the fecund ferment of stems filling Mabel to the brim. “It makes me more of who I need to be to succeed.”

And maybe that’s it, the crucial catalyst of Sandpoint chemistry: Just don’t give up. The restless impulses of the West, in movement, risk-taking and community spirit might or might not in the end sustain you. But being willing to grapple with the still hard corners of this region, without respite, is what finally tucks in any little valley town.

Yeah, all that. I filled my covered wagon with all my worldly goods and headed West, out of Cubicle City, never to return, no matter what the odds against me. And I feel pretty good that, somehow, I’ll manage.

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