There’s a video I saw the other day of some creative in an interview with Larry King and Larry King asks the guy what his favorite luxury item is and the guy tries to give an answer and Larry King is like, no, a luxury item, and the guy goes into a long discussion of the expensive socks he really likes while Larry King stares at him like he’s crazy. When he’s done Larry King says he was looking for something more along the lines of a private jet, not socks.

But I get it, I do. I’m like that dude with the socks.

When I was consulting and earning more money than I really needed I’d entertain myself with shopping on the weekends. Best Buy was a favorite stop. I’d pick up this movie or that TV series or that CD. (Or all of the above.) Clothes were another big one. Not to mention shoes. Lots and lots of shoes. DSW loved me.

Now that I’m writing, though, I just don’t feel the need for that stuff in the same way. Instead of spending my weekend spending my money, I just write more. Or think about writing more.

I was given some gift certificates and money for Christmas (because we were not going to get together no way no how this year, thank you very much, so pretty much all of this year’s gifts were cash or gift certificates). And I spent the last hour browsing through websites with no idea what to use them on.

I literally searched the Macy’s website when I got a gift certificate for there to see if they carry the vacuum filter I need to replace. And when REI sent their sale email today I checked to see if the type of socks I like were on sale. I thought maybe I could find little loaf pans to make small lasagna in, but really that was kind of it for what I wanted.

I had no idea what to use any of it for. (Normally I’d want books. That hasn’t gone away. But I currently have a stack of twelve of them on the kitchen table that I need to read first and there are really no books I’ve been dying to buy.)

It’s odd how that shift happens. You step away from a world that stresses you out where impressing others matters and it all just…goes away. That driving desire to acquire things just disappears.

I do miss good food and travel. (I once laughed about a guy who told me he bought the good cheese as a selling point for dating him, but I now have my days where I wish someone would buy me some basil-infused Gouda…)

If I suddenly won the lottery tomorrow I’d probably spend more on that sort of thing. (Maybe not the travel right now; there’s a snoring dog in the other room who I wouldn’t abandon long enough to actually enjoy it.)

But fancy cars? Big houses? Lots of clothes?


They all just lose their shine now that I can spend my days living in worlds I create…

Which is not to say that I don’t want to earn money from my writing. I do. So don’t go pirating things because you think that creatives get enough from the joy of creating that they don’t need to eat, put clothes on their body, or a roof over their heads. Or that they don’t deserve a fair compensation for what they do. That is absolutely not what I’m saying.

I’m just saying that I will probably use those gift cards I received on…socks. And be pleased that I got exactly what I wanted.

Checking In…

I haven’t been posting much, mostly because I figure I can post annoyance at the world or I can put my head down and do something productive that moves things forward. So I’ve been working, working, working.

Yesterday in the mail I received the paperback proofs of the large print versions of my YA fantasy novels and the hard cover proofs of the large print versions of my cozy mysteries and I have to say they look really good and I’m glad I took the time to do that project.

Large print was something I sort of tried doing a few years back but I didn’t do enough research I don’t think to really get it right. It’s more than just a larger font size. For example, no italics. Those have to be replaced with bolded text. And font choice matters. So does placement of the chapter name and page numbers, etc.

I figured I’d judge the success of the large print books by sellthrough to the rest of the series. If people buy book one in large print and no one buys book two then that means I failed somehow on the formatting. But the cozies are showing good sellthrough. (Once I went into the Amazon listings for the regular print versions and told people how to find the large print version. It seems Amazon buries the large print version so that you have to be Houdini to find it and I don’t expect my cozy readers are.)

What else? I don’t know if it’s 2020 or it’s me, but things seem to be taking longer to do these days than before. I’m working on some new editions on the non-fiction side and I swear the books that were supposed to be revisions of old titles are taking twice as long to create as they did the first time around.

This is what it means to be a Maximizer in the CliftonStrengths world. I can’t pass up an opportunity to make something just that little bit better, which in one case led to rewriting 80% of the book. It wasn’t bad to start with but I was combining two books and for that to work I needed to change the approach substantially. (I know, I’m being vague but you’ll see when I publish what I was talking about.)

What else? I find myself glad I write both non-fiction and fiction books because this time of year, if you’re not pushing your fiction, can be brutal for sales. Fortunately, it’s a good time for print sales and with non-fiction I can price competitively enough that I don’t take as big of a hit as I would if I only did fiction.

Which is a reminder when looking at other’s recommendations and advice to pay attention to what they write. I find the fiction advice I see is often bad for non-fiction. Like don’t worry about print, price your print with thin margins, put your first title free, etc.

Same with if someone has a well-selling ten-book series. What they can do with that versus the author who has two or three books out is vastly different. I also think sometimes people who are a lot farther along on their path forget some of the struggles of being new or close to new. Like, they have books that just sell and don’t understand that that’s really not the case for most new writers.

And, of course, the genre differences. Writing for an audience that devours books and marketing to that audience is vastly different than writing for an audience that reads, but not at a book-a-day, give-me-the tropes pace.

Of course, every time I’m tempted to wander off into the wilderness alone and just stop listening to anyone anywhere and do my own thing, there’s something that comes up that makes me stay connected through FB groups or forums or whatnot.

This year the ACX returns thing finally blew up and it was good to know it had since they won’t delist my books but also ignore my emails and no longer even send me those helpful updates that others get. And I was able to get access to Nook promos which have helped. And I think I may have access to Apple promos now but haven’t looked closely at that email yet to be sure of it.

All of that comes from being tied in through groups here or there as painful as the experience sometimes is. (Kboards is such a pale version of what it once was that it’s kind of sad…)

Oh, and I put my books in for Amazon promo consideration but not holding my breath there. But good to know you can at least do so now.

So, yeah. We’re heading towards 2021 and I’m neither glaringly optimistic about it all nor darkly pessimistic. Thanks to EIDL and PPP I made it through 2020 unscathed (knock wood) and able to keep writing and publishing. We’ll see what 2021 brings.

Another thing to think about is property ownership. I was burned to the cost of $30K when I left full-time consulting and sold my condo in DC so I don’t always think that owning property is the best bet, but I am very grateful that I bought my house that I live in now because that property appreciation certainly helps. It’s the cushion that lets me take some of the risks I do. I can look at that equity I’ve built up and think, “Worst case scenario…”

Anyway. Pup is crying to be fed and then I have to proof three books and get them off to the printer for print proofs, so back to the grindstone. Hope you and yours are well.