Category Archives: Successes

SLC Comicon – Partr 2 – As a Vendor

SLC ComiconEarlier this month, I talked about SLC comicon, which I have attended multiple times. In the past, I attended as one of the authors participating with the Bard’s Tower. Those experiences were awesome. I not only learned a ton about how to run a successful vendor booth, but I loved meeting and networking with all the other authors and cross-selling each others’ books.

I just returned from yet another SLC comicon, and for the first time I was an official vendor. I shared a booth with author and friend, Gama Ray Martinez. (check out his books – they’re great).

I had actually planned to just join the Bard’s Tower group again, but they’re so popular, they had too many authors already signed up. Gama mentioned that he was interested in going as a vendor, and it made a ton of sense to split the cost of a 10×10 booth, share the space, and sell our books there.

How did it go?

Extremely well. We both sold a lot of books, covered our booth costs, and had a great time. I can’t say I made a profit, but I came closer than ever before. Besides the direct booth expenses, I have to factor in the cost of the books, hotels for myself and my family (Yes, I brought my own minions to help out), gas, food, etc.

What worked well?

There are several benefits to sharing a booth. Besides the obvious benefit of splitting the cost, you’ve got someone to chat with, cross-sell with, and brainstorm the best way to make the booth work. We got more space on the table than we would have if we joined a larger group. Additionally, we were both panelists at the convention, and it was easy for one of us to cover the booth while the other one headed out to a panel. Or, if we needed a restroom or food break, we didn’t have to leave the booth unattended. All that stress was gone.

And of course the best benefit is getting to meet so many people. Here are a few who posed with one of my books. The Assassins always choose Memory Hunter because that series is described as Mission Impossible meets Assassin’s Creed. Fun stuff.

Memory Hunter Assassin 2 Memory Hunter Fairy Memory Hunter Assassin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What could have been a problem?

Gama and I didn’t have any major issues, but it’s important to recognize that there are potential hazards with sharing a booth like we did. Make sure you’re a good fit with your partner and that the agreement is clear.

  1. Money. How to collect and track sales? We could have each handled our sales separately, but what if someone wanted to buy books from both of us? This actually happened more than once. We decided that we would use Gama’s Square account. That way only one of us had to apply for a Utah state tax license and we could sell all of our books through the same account. That meant all sales had to be tracked, both cash and credit. Gama will pay the tax and send me my net profit. I have access to the account, so there’s no question of trustworthiness, not that I would ever doubt Gama, but this way there’s no chance for the problem to come up.
  2. Stealing each other’s sales. Our books target similar audiences, so we could have run into issues with each of us trying to sell over the other and in effect stealing the other’s sales. We didn’t have that problem because we both acted like professionals. We did have an instance where one of my over-eager kids interrupted Gama’s pitch to pitch one of my books too, but we discussed that and made sure everyone understood the importance of giving each of us the necessary space to work. We actually ended up cross-selling each other’s books quite a bit. The goal is always to find the book that best fits the reader’s tastes. We both made sales, and readers are happy. They’ll buy again.
  3. There are certainly other potential issues, like personality conflicts, issues with sharing the table space equally, etc, but we didn’t run into those. Most potential issues can be resolved with open communication and bilateral respect, but it’s important to consider them when considering a vendor partner.

Will I share a booth again?

Absolutely. Gama and I are already discussing next year’s SLC comicon. I might do something similar at other cons, although I’m still very happy to participate with Bard’s Tower again if a particular situation would work out better that way. Be flexible, and there are ways to work the conventions as a vendor without going broke.

Momentum Leads to Success

Momentum lead to success. Errr, no, wait. Success enhances momentum. No, ugh. Momentum feeds—hmmm… 

Yeah. That’s it. Momentum can lead to success and success builds momentum. Now that I’ve got that straight in my head, I can talk to you about it. Hi there. As we go through this together, know that I’m talking to myself about building momentum as much as I’m talking to you.  

Momentum is great when we have it. The words pour out and page after page zips by beneath our fingertips. We finish projects and move on to the next. Each completion feeds our passion, goads us on, pushes us farther. And when that sale happens, holy monkey, it’s like we hit the after-burners. Zoom!  

At some point, the glow from the sale begins to fade and though we are still moving forward, our pace slows. Words come harder. It takes longer to finish, if we finish at all. We hit that uphill slog in the manuscript and feel our momentum grinding to a halt like that old, wood-paneled Buick station wagon stalled in the intersection during rush hour.  

Have you been there? Drivers navigating around you and showing their appreciation for your delay with a single-finger salute while you desperately crank the key, hoping for a spark to catch. Sometimes it does and, by some automotive miracle, after the tenth crank as the battery is slowly whirring down – ignition! The words come, slowly at first, but they come and we’re on the move again without too much drag on our momentum.  

Other times, though, you turn that key, breath held, teeth clenched, and pray to the Buick pantheon for a miracle. Clickclickclick. <insert bad word here>. Dead. Deep breaths. Count to ten. Okay. Gotta get moving again. The ultimate destination of Atlanta sinks beneath the immediate need to get the car to the service station across the intersection. 

It’s that change in perspective that’s the key. While we need to keep our ultimate goal in mind, when our momentum slows or stops, we need to set our immediate sights on short-term wins to get moving again. In our unfortunate case here, we need to get out and push this beast out of the traffic flow. Now, a big-ass station wagon doesn’t just move with a body lean. It’s going to take some serious effort to get this thing moving. Feet set, right hand on the steering wheel, left braced against the doorframe, you push. The car leans forward then settles back. Rest for a second. Ready? Eyes on the service station, muscles straining, feet pumping like they did when attacking the sled in high school football practice, the car leans further. Harder. Pushpushpush. The wheel turns. Success! Don’t let up. Pushpushpush. Cross over one lane. Success! The car is rolling freely now. Pushpushpush. Another lane. Steer into the station’s driveway. One final push to get over the storm drain. Pushpushpush. And…success! Now on to the next challenge.  

Writing works the same way. We need to plant out butts in the chair and write. It’s going to be hard at first, but stick with it. As we move forward, we need to define our successes in terms that will lift us up and keep us moving forward. As the successes pile up and our progress mounts, we close in on our bigger goals. And when we hit those bigger goals, boom, after-burners. 

If your goal is to write a novel. Don’t focus on that one thing, break the effort down into achievable milestones (the first page, the first chapter, the first act, the second act, etc.) and acknowledge the completion of each one. Let that accomplishment propel you toward the next one.  

Even backed by a tsunami of momentum, we still have to put our butts in chairs and write. So do it and and use your words to propel your success.

Momentum in the Real World

This month is supposed to be all about how to build and keep momentum. But I must admit that right now I feel sort of like a phony talking about all my amazing momentum hints and tips. Because I’ve been pretty low on the momentum scale for the past year or so.

That’s because life.

Two years ago, I had crazy dreams of being a full-time writer. I had the luxury of living off a separation package that provided a good income for most of a year, and I used that time to hammer out my War Chronicles trilogy. Or most of it. It turns out that making a living as a writer isn’t something that I was able to just turn a key, and bang! I’m a successful writer!

Don’t get me wrong, I did very well with my trilogy. I got an audio publishing contract to go along with my self-published e-book, and between the two of them, I did quite well for a first-time author without a standard publishing contract. I’m proud of what I accomplished.

But in the end, I had to go back to work. Full time. With additional hours quite often. And that meant I had to learn the new job, and learn an entirely new sort of programming to go along with it. Which meant long evenings and weekends taking online programming classes and writing code to learn how it all actually worked. I am one of those who learns by doing, so I had to do it.

On top of that, we had just purchased a lot on a lake, and built a house. The house was finished about ten months ago. Well, “finished” is a relative term. The basement and landscaping weren’t finished. I had to do all that myself. Which meant lots of long nights and weekends focusing on house finishing tasks, which are still not completely done, and I am just now really getting into the landscaping side. So that’s also lots of long nights and weekends.

So, in the past ten months, I’ve managed to write only about 40,000 words on my current novel.

And you know what? That’s probably pretty good for the circumstances I’ve been in. Even if it does come out to roughly three hundred words a day. Because at the very least, I’ve kept at it. And what I have written, I think, shows a lot of growth from my previous writing. I learned a lot from my first experience as a writer.

But I can’t really call that “momentum” in the sense that most of these articles mean. But sometimes I think that “momentum” of the sort I’ve managed can be just as important as pounding out a thousand words a day, day after day, to the tune of three or four books a year.

Because I’ve never considered giving up on my dream. It’s just been prioritized against some other very important priorities, and I’ve made steady, if slow, progress.

I guess what I’m trying to say here, in the context of momentum, is that the most important aspect of momentum may not be how many words you write each day. It may be more important that you just maintain the dream, and even when it is incredibly difficult to find the time to write, you manage to carve out evenings or weekends when you pick up where you left off, dust off your keyboard, and pound out another scene. And another. My output may have been a trickle, instead of a flood, these last ten months, but that trickle has never dried up. I’ve never lost track of the story, and when I do find the time to write, it feels great to put another chapter behind me.

And that’s the thing that really matters. Writing, as important as it is to me, is not my entire life. Other things matter, and sometimes they matter more than writing. But as my time has become freer since completing some major projects, I’ve been improving my word count, and I feel like that will continue. I’ll get this story done. And another. And another. It just may not be as fast as I would like, that’s all.

Using Deadlines to Drive Momentum

Momentum quoteWriting is an act of creation.

Building a poem, a short story, or a novel is a project that requires continuing effort for sometimes months or years.

Completing that project is not easy. I’ve seen statistics that suggest maybe 1% of all the writers who begin a novel ever actually complete one. For those of us who do, one important component of success is building momentum.

For me, as a story begins to grow and develop into a fully-formed adventure, I get more and more excited to see it finished. I love the brainstorming process and the intense bursts of writing as I pour words on the page and create the first draft. I’ve even grown to enjoy the opportunity to revise and edit and polish that initial draft into a finely-tuned, well-crafted piece of art that will draw readers into my world and plunge them into amazing adventures.

The process is not easy, but the daily effort builds momentum to keep going. Some days are admittedly easier than others, and like everyone else, I have had to develop ways to help keep motivated and to keep generating momentum. Several ideas have been mentioned by other fictorians already this month, so be sure to check out their excellent posts.

I also like to use deadlines.

A deadline is a tangible line in the sand, a goal to help focus my energy over short periods of time. Even when they’re self-imposed, deadlines create a sense of purpose and the threat of consequences if I don’t succeed. Setting a deadline helps me avoid falling into the trap of thinking I can take as long as I like on the next novel.

I can’t. I have a deadline.

Sometimes I set very aggressive deadlines, and even if I know I can’t possibly accomplish them, they still help motivate me to try. When I first started releasing books in 2015, I set the goal of eight books in eight months. That’s a super-aggressive goal that turned out to be physically impossible, but it helped me work extremely hard to get my indie-publishing process off the ground and dive in and do it, rather than hesitating and wasting time with unproductive doubts.

A great deadline is scheduling time with an editor. I use the amazing Joshua Essoe to edit most of my novels. He’s booked out over a year, so I have to schedule my time with him far in advance, which requires planning my work and knowing my pace. Let’s just say I’m still working on perfecting that bit, especially since most of my novels end up running long.

I was due to deliver a manuscript to Joshua in July, but I had gotten bogged down editing another novel. Six weeks before the deadline to deliver the draft to Joshua, I had to set aside that other project and get to work. I had waited perhaps too long. The goal was 160,000 word first draft.

I got it done. Mostly. I delivered about 130,000 words to Joshua, and wrote the final 50,000 words of that epic story over the three weeks that he spent editing the first part.

Do I recommend doing a first draft that way? Sure – as long as that draft’s not due immediately to the editor. Writing a first draft that fast was an amazing, if exhausting process, but I should have started sooner so I could do some initial polishing and revising before submitting it. I could have better used Joshua’s time that way.

Lesson learned.

But that extremely tight deadline was undeniably effective at getting me to write, and to find ways to write faster than ever. That’s 180,000 words in about two months – probably the fastest I’ve produced such a long work. I am already setting new deadlines for revising and editing, because I’m planning to release the novel in Q4 of this year.

I recognize that not everyone likes to work under tight deadlines, and that the added stress of having aggressive deadlines can be counter-productive, but don’t ignore deadlines. If you don’t set a goal, you limit your ability to move forward and get things done. I recommend everyone use some kind of deadline. Without them, there’s no accountability, and far less sense of purpose to drive a project forward.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org