Author Crowdfunding Gone Too Far?

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*Disclaimer: No crack was consumed during the writing of this post, or ever, by the author, Rhiannon Mills. 

Being a writer is nothing like I thought it would be when I was nine years old. At that age, I read, for the first time of many, Anne Rice’s “Interview With A Vampire” after watching the film (Nine year old me did everything bass ackwards). I was hooked on writing from that moment forward because, though I’d always loved reading, I realized I could turn the mush in my head into something beautiful, too. From then on, I was a writer.

It isn’t a glamorous lifestyle for the vast majority of us, either. Writers have struggles like everyone else. We have bills to pay, children to raise (and eventually send to college), and, for many, there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything we want to. I’m up before the sun to get my kids ready for school. After that, it’s laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, and caring for home and hearth while my husband sleeps. But, it doesn’t end there. At 3:30, my husband wakes, showers, and dresses for work while I pack his lunch and stack his paperwork on top of his lunch bag. Then, the afternoon circus begins! The minute I’ve packed his last sandwich and he leaves for a long night at work, the kids waltz through the door and it’s homework and dinner time, which often takes hours. By the time everyone is fed, educated, and bathed, my brain is mush.

And, heaven forbid someone have a doctor’s appointment! I need a coffee IV and crack to get through those days! *See disclaimer at the top of the page.*

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See? Who says you can’t be artistic and make money from it! That is one beautiful cake and two dozen fantastic cupcakes, if I must say so myself.

Somehow, through the disaster that is my life, I manage. My husband, bless his brave soul, is a coal truck driver. To help make ends meet, we budget every penny. I clip coupons, plan weekly menus, look for sales, compare prices on everything we buy and, on occasion, take small sewing jobs for a few extra bucks. We paid our taxes last year with money I earned baking my cousin’s wedding cake.

But, not once have I ever begged other people for money so I could write full time! Sure, I have my husband’s income, whereas a single writer would be on their own, but I really feel like I’d have more time to write if that were the case. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If I am, please leave a comment and weigh in with your own struggles (and cheers to you, too).

I’m quite certain that there are a lot of crowdfunding pages throughout the internet for very good causes. Examples of what I feel are good causes are:

  1. Families or individuals who lost everything to a natural disaster or housefire.
  2. Families or individuals inflicted with a medical crisis.
  3. Those trying to raise money for schools, nursing homes, or programs where the funds will go toward the greater good (example: new library books, walkers for the elderly, or new playground equipment to replace the faulty or unsafe).

Let me be clear.

Crowdfunding is not a means to survival! If an author cannot earn enough money through their books to live on, it’s time to evaluate needs versus wants. Example: You need to eat, but you want to sit on your butt and ponder the meaning of life.

It’s not enough to offer those who donate the prize of a few ebooks or audiobooks. Readers can just buy those from Amazon, lickity split, if they want them. Crowdfunding is not an unofficial welfare program! Your readers are not responsible for your Kibbles-N-Bits, YOU are! Your readers should be respected, not used as your personal ATM. If they enjoy your work, they’ll pay for it and you will earn a royalty check, not a handout from the magic social media fairy.

There’s a real meaning behind the phrase “starving artist.”  If you’re ever going to make it to George RR Martin or Anne Rice status, you have to start somewhere else. Nobody starts at the top. Ask Stephen King about starting small. He talks all about his humble beginnings in “On Writing.” Before you make it, you might have to fold sweaters at GAP or stock shelves at Wal-Mart first. You might even have to serve umpteen Jager Bombs to jerks who like to call you “Sugar Tits” and “Princess Pretty Panties” at a bar that only plays country music (like I did). You might have to work long days, longer nights, and drive to work through snow storms, on icy roads, and work Thanksgiving and Christmas, completely missing out on Grandma’s baked ham and pumpkin pie. But, DAMMIT, those are life experiences and they are worth every miserable minute!

Every single time your boss tells you to work Saturday when you were supposed to have that day off or your paycheck is just ten dollars short of what you need it to be, you’ve added a dirty, scummy, gritty notch in the belt of your worthwhile life experiences. And, you can’t write without life experience.

I may only be a small fish in a big sea, but the water here is fine. I’m not saying I want to be here forever. All writers have goals and mine will one day take me into deeper waters if I’m lucky. Until then, I’m going to put the work in. I’m going to submit novels, novellas, short stories, and magazine articles until editors are tired of seeing my name in their slush piles. I’ll earn my stripes, thank you. The success will taste so much sweeter that way.

 

 

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About Rhiannon Mills

Rhiannon Mills lives, loves, and writes in the mysterious mountains of West Virginia. When she isn’t writing, she’s sewing, baking, blogging, reading, or watching documentaries about any number of things. 

LINKS:

Full Time Author by author Payne Hawthorne on GoFundMe.

NOTE–by all means, donate if you feel this is a worthy cause. Don’t let my opinions sway you. 

Buy Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” from Amazon.

 

 

 

More ADVICE for writers…spelled correctly this time!

nanoLast time I wrote a post about advice for writers, I spelled advice incorrectly. I spelled it “advise.”… Seriously. And I do it all the time. It’s one of those words I cannot get a handle on no matter how many times I misspell it and how many times someone points it out. I’m getting better, but we shall see if it sticks lol.

Anyhow, with NANOWRIMO being just a day or so away, I thought I’d give out some more advice because sometimes the best way to learn new things is to teach, so the best way to really let thing sink in to your brain is to advise someone else (see what I did there? I’m using both “advice” and “advise” in this post to learn the difference lol).

1– Never assume you know everything. You don’t. I don’t care if you’ve been writing for a million years and you have umpteen degrees in writing and you have eighty novels on the market, all bestsellers, and your mom thinks you’re awesome and you live in a mansion by the sea bought with royalties from your eighty bestsellers. Even the most seasoned writers can learn from newbies. You can learn from people who do not write at all. You can learn from your dog. Don’t be the asshole who thinks he’s made it to Stephen King caliber when, in reality, you haven’t made it out of your mother’s basement.

2– Follow submission guidelines. Do not assume your story is so awesome you don’t have to follow guidelines like everyone else. For those who may not know, submission guidelines are there for a reason. Sometimes many reasons.

Example of Submission Guidelines (the short of it):

Word length: 2,000-5,000 words
Standard Format
Accepting werewolf, vampire, and zombie fiction only
Attach: Ms, cover letter, and brief bio.
Send to: submissions@phonybalognapress
Subject Line: Submission/AuthorName/StoryTitle

So, if you read those guidelines and send them a 7,000 short story called “Roses In the Wrong Garden” about a character who fades into another dimension after wandering through an enchanted garden, you’re not likely to be accepted. Why?

Cause your conceded self thought you were too good of a writer to be rejected. You thought they’d make an exception for you. They might have another antho open taking garden stories and you might actually be lucky enough for them to send that story to the right department, but chances of that happening are pretty darn slim. Send your stories where they belong and don’t try to fool yourself.

3– If you constantly get two different words mixed up (advice and advise), use them both all over the place until you get it through your head that they are NOT the same word. I’m doing that right now myself. It’s helping.

4– When in doubt, you should probably do more research.

5– Help your fellow writers out every now and then. If you see someone struggling along with their work and you know through social media that they are having it rough finishing something, offer them an ear. Don’t bad mouth another author for their successes or their shortcomings. That’s just not nice and it’s bad business, also. Writers should be encouraging each other. ESPECIALLY writers in the same or similar genres!

Do you know why? Because if I wrote a horror novel and Author Suzie Q. Cutiepie wrote a horror novel and both novels involve vampires, then readers who loved my novel are going to want something equally as awesome to read afterward. That means they might pick up Suzie Q. Cutiepie’s novel. Why not help each other promote instead of badmouthing and being jerks? I share links to other people’s books all the time and other authors share links to mine from time to time too. 😀

6– Get some sleep at night. You can’t write if you can’t hold your head up.

This is all I have to say today. I felt these things needed posting, so I posted.

To anyone participating in NANOWRIMO this year, look me up on the Nano site! I’d be glad to be your buddy! And good luck! May the force be with you.

…And may the odds be ever in your favor!

 

How to prepare for Nanowrimo and other crap…

nanoHow many of you are planning on participating in Nanowrimo 2013? I made a post on Facebook today asking what others were doing to prepare for the month of November and all the National Novel Writing Month entails, but mostly the responses I got leaned toward planning and plotting. Makes sense, right? What else can you do?

Well, I have a list of things that may help you. At the very least, it may make you laugh or give you some food for thought.

1.) Hook yourself up with a good writing playlist. A lot of writers need some music to help them along while others would rather write in complete silence, but if you enjoy a tune, Youtube is a great place to start. But, if Youtube is too much of a distraction–what with their shiny, sparkling videos and all–then you can try a site called Grooveshark.com. No videos, just music and the ability to make playlists and save them.

2.)  I refuse to get into a long debate over the concepts of plotting versus pantsing, but if you’re a plotter, perhaps now would be a good time to jot down some notes or get a few key phrases or reference photos for characterization rounded up and put together in a folder on your computer.

3.) Consider using Google Drive to make your documents or creating a profile and downloading Dropbox to keep everything organized. I use Google Documents through Google Drive because I’m constantly bouncing back and forth between my laptop and my desktop computer. However, Dropbox is equally as accessible and very helpful. I’ve heard great things about both.

4.) On about October 30th or so, go to the grocery store and buy what you need, be it toilet paper and coffee or snacks to nosh on through your adventure into Nanowrimo. You should also make sure you have a few legal pads, pens, pencils, a sharpener, highlighters, or whatever else you may need.

5.) If you’re making your participation in Nanowrimo official, head over to the website (Nanowrimo.org) and make a profile. It’s free. However, you can take part without creating a profile and making it “official” because the greatness behind this particular month is that it gives you an incentive or a special drive to FINISH THAT DANG NOVEL already! LOL.

6.) If you already know you’re going to need some reference materials for your project, locate those things now. Bookmark sites on your computer you might need, locate books you might need as desk references, and get everything together in one spot (or in a folder on your computer). Great places to bookmark would be baby name websites for naming characters and maps of places you’re thinking of including in your story. Another great resource for reference books or other books you might need is Thriftbooks.com. I buy a lot  of used books there because they’re cheap and in great shape and there are no shipping fees in the US (and I just happen to live in the US).

7.) Don’t do any of these things. Just wing it. Some of the best books were written that way.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Bones Of Willow Lake has a cover artist! The very talented Mark Hogg will be creating a wonderful cover for my pending release and I’ll report more when there is more information available. Other than that, I’ve been listening to you people. One of the most searched keyterms for this blog is “Demon King Rhiannon Mills sequel.” Somebody really wants more Draken, huh? Well, I hear you and I’ve got something coming.

The Real Reasons Authors Go Mad

crazy author 11)  Bic sells 8.76 billion stationary products yearly. Out of that 8.76 billion, I’d guess more than half are the kind of cheapo ink pen just about everybody uses. Yet, writers never seem to have a pen and can never locate the package they swore was in their desk drawer where more pens could be found. I bet your average author spends 15 minutes almost every single day looking for ink pens.

2) Eventually, even lesser known authors (such as myself), will get fan mail. Sometimes that fan mail is nice, but sometimes you get things that are a little bit of a mixed bag. Like a written account of blood play fantasies involving the fan and the author. Or a severed body part. Or something in crayon depicting explosions and vampires.

3) Contrary to popular belief, coffee makers cannot remain on 24/7/365.  Eventually, they burn out and you have to buy a new one, but there is always a small window of time where you’re out of coffee. Though this window may only be temporary, the experience is traumatizing to authors. It’s typically our life force.

crazy writer 24) Utility bills are to be paid monthly, yet a lot of  publishers pay quarterly, forcing authors to stretch and budget.  Some of us are good at that. Others? Well, not so much.

5) Somewhere, some poor, innocent young person having no prior experience with vampires is reading Twilight for the first time.

6) When an author sits down to write, wherever it is they write, he/she does certain things to get in the zone.  For each of us, these things are different, I’m sure, but all of us have a routine or a thing we have to do or maybe just certain conditions which we absolutely need. There’ s always something.  But, more often than not, something gets in the way to screw all that up. Maybe it’s the phone ringing off the hook. Maybe it’s the author’s writing playlist being accidentally deleted by a knee jerk reaction. Or maybe it’s the author’s nieces and nephews jumping all over the place, doing kid things. Yup. Whatever the author was intending to write just went right out the noggin and into the super secret hell good ideas go to when they’re abruptly aborted.

7) Snooki wrote a book…and people bought it.

8) A real conversation with a real person:

Person: So, you’re a writer?
Me: Yes.
Person:  What do you do?
Me: I write books.
Person: Ooooh.  Ya know what you should do! You should make one of your books into a movie!

9) While it is true most fiction writers spend hours every day having conversations in their heads between characters they have created, people who do not really exist, it is not completely true that we always know the difference between things that have actually happened that day and things we wrote that day. Sometimes I eat dinner twice, but skip lunch and breakfast…and one of those dinners was written dinner, not actual dinner.

10) After years of writing, authors stoop. Our eyes stop working properly and we squint, even through our super duper ultra crazy thick glasses. We hear noises that aren’t there. Bodies we buried in our fiction begin to pound against the walls in our office spaces. Yet, we wouldn’t trade it for anything on this earth.  We are truly, amazingly gluttons for punishment.

 

Also, there’s this article about creativity and mental illness…

P.S. I found your pen and you can’t have it back.

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My Advice For New Writers

Ever wonder what his advise to writers would be like? I'd be afraid to ask him...lol.

Ever wonder what his advise to writers would be like? I’d be afraid to ask him…lol.

A fellow blogger published a post earlier called 10 Things Aspiring Novelists Should know.  Well done.  The link is there for you if you’d like to read it–and you very well should–but, I thought about this over and over and there are a few things I wanted to add to that list.  I had a running commentary in my head the entire time I read the post. I’m not going to give you her post and then my response to it, but rather write an entirely new list.  After all, if I just gave you hers and then added my two cents, you would’t learn nearly as much from either of us lol.

So, without tweedle-dumming around, here is my list.

1–Write whatever the heck you want to write. Just write. And then write some more.  And, after that, write in the bedroom.  Then, move to the kitchen and write in there.  Write all over the place or keep one specific place to write.  But, just write, okay.

2– Read stuff. Lots of stuff.  Read magazines, comic books, romance, horror, science fiction, non-fiction, and pamphlets in the doctor’s office.  The more you read, the better off you’ll be.  After all, a writer who chooses not to read is like a scientist who chooses not to learn the periodic table of elements. It just doesn’t work. Chances are, if you’re not fond of reading, you want to be a writer for money and fame and nothing else.

And as you can see by my overwhelming lack of celebrity status and the missing yacht from my driveway, writers do not always become rich, famous celebrities.

3–Some folks say to write what you know, but I say write what you see.  Depending on the genre you’re writing, you may not know anything about what you’re writing because it may not have been invented or discovered yet.  Like time machines and the planet Uberdork. Some writers will see things they actually do know, which is wonderful.  But, never think you have to fit into a mold and do things by the book just to be published.

4–Create your characters first.  This is a lesson that was particularly difficult for me to learn, but my friend George hammered this habit into my head fairly hard and I think it finally stuck.  And, you know what? He was right.  Create normal people or create immortal creatures, monsters, goblins, or whatever your heart desires.  Give them depth.  Write out a character sketch for these characters and write out some background for them before you start writing your story (if you want to…but, if you’re new to writing, I would suggest at least giving it a try).  As long as you can create real, lifelike characters and really give them their own voices, your story will pretty well tell itself, sort of.  Not completely. You still have actual work to do.

5–Set up a writing schedule and try your best to stick to it.  Stop making excuses.  Sit down and write, even when you’re not in the mood.  You can always go back and change things that ultimately suck later if you have to.  Don’t beat yourself to death if you can’t stick to your schedule to a tee, but make a conscious effort.  You will be much more successful in finishing your projects this way.

6–Read some more, but this time read something in a genre you’re not used to or fond of.  Choose a book you wouldn’t normally choose.  I’ve gone through genre phases throughout my life.  As a kid, I started out reading comic books. By the time I reached eleven years old, I’d moved on to good ol’ Billy Bob Shakespeare.  After Romeo and Juliet, I phased into reading historical romances, then historical anything else, and by the time I was a freshman in high school, I began reading more horror and science fiction as well as romance novels ranging from historical to contemporary to paranormal. Nowadays, I lean toward paranormal novels of any sub genre.  I love horror–zombies, gremlins, imps, witches, and of course, vampires.  I also have a real sweet spot for books of any genre that include time travel. The more you read, the more open your mind becomes the more you’re exposed to new possibilities. Don’t cut yourself short by only reading one thing.

7–Do not limit yourself, your stories, or your characters in any way, shape, form, or fashion.  Characters shouldn’t have to fit any cookie cutter mold and neither should their plots.

8–Take some time to smell the roses.  Go on a fishing trip. Book a hotel in town for the night just to order room service and watch television uninterrupted by your normal life.  Take a walk through the park. Go to your local community center and take a knitting class.  Join a gym. Live your life.  Life experiences make you a better, more perceptive writer.

9–Take advise from more experienced authors, but don’t take it all straight to heart.  Just because bestselling author XYZ drinks 3 oz. of lizard spit every morning because he swears it helps his creative juices start to flow doesn’t mean you should do it, too.  Like most things in life, rules you were taught as children often apply to the writing business–as far as etiquette and common sense goes–as well.  Just because Bob jumps off a bridge, do you think you should jump with him? No. No, you should not. But, you could bungee if you want to.

10–Do not measure your success by comparing yourself to other authors.  Authors who write for the love of the craft are just as valuable–more, in my opinion–than writers who write with the full intent to become millionaires.  You’ll meet your fair share of each of those kinds of authors when you get started. You’ll quickly learn to figure out which ones are which. If you write romance, do it because you love it, not because romance books sell. If you write horror, write the heck out of that stuff! Don’t worry about what Stephen King is doing (but, buy his books because he is awesome).

Alternately, do not measure the worth of another author by the amount of money they make, the status of their publisher, or what their sales are currently looking like.  There are a lot of diamonds sparkling in the coal pile, just waiting to be picked. Well, read. Whatever.

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A quick note to my followers and anyone else who happened upon my blog:

From time to time, I do post things intended to help other authors along.  We all have our moments of doubt and sometimes we need a push.  Sometimes, when we read things focused on the craft of writing, it ignites a fuse inside our weirdo brains that causes us to write marvelous things.  That’s why I do it. Not because I feel like I have to. Just because I want others to go forth and write. I do like to read, so I suppose it’s rather selfish of me to push others along if you think about it that way… Nonetheless, if you feel like something I’ve said is wrong, please explain which thing and why in comments.  A good conversation or argument with intelligence instead of nastiness is always welcome. 😀

Write on, folks.
Rhiannon Mills.