Business Musings: Running A (Writing) Business In Uncertain Times

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Last week, I explained the economic term, “Black Swan Event,” and said that Donald Trump’s election here in the United States is not one. A number of you wrote to me privately and argued that it was, talking about the severity of the change he will bring, not just to the U.S., but to the world.

I’m not denying the change. At all. We are facing a future that’s very, very different from the one we thought we were going to have. (Almost everyone in “the know,” including the Trump people, thought he was going to lose on that Tuesday night.)

However, that difference, profound as it is going to be, was not unpredictable.

How do I know this? Dean and I modeled Donald Trump’s win as part of our future planning, starting last June. We gave the win low odds, but we calculated it into the various models we were working out for our businesses.

I’m going to discuss the difference, the modeling, and the ways of thinking from a business perspective and do my best to leave politics out of this. Just because I’m discussing this election dispassionately does not mean I am dispassionate. I have very strong opinions about this country, its direction and importance in the world, and how we should be as a nation. Please see my fiction for that.

But I’m fully aware that this blog is not written for partisans. It’s written for writers from all over the world, most of whom barely give a rat’s flying patootie about American politics. For that reason, my discussion of politics here only comes in the context of current events and the things writer-business people should consider. So no political comments, please.

First, let me address the difference between an emotional shock to the system and a Black Swan event.

Here’s the definition, this time, from the Financial Times Lexicon (last time I used Investopedia.com):

An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict. This term was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.”  Mr Taleb is a finance professor and former Wall Street trader.

Note that there are two parts to the definition of a Black Swan event. The U.S. election fits the first part. Donald Trump’s win did deviate from what was normally expected of the situation according to the polls, the pundits, and the experts.

Except…if you used a historical perspective to understand what was normally expected of the situation—an American election after one party holds office for two terms—then the event was not unexpected. It was expected. According to a 2013 article in the non-partisan Constitution Daily, the Democrats (Hillary Clinton’s party) had a .333 chance of keeping the White House in this cycle. This article was written two years before any candidates announced for office.

But let’s say that those of you who wrote to me were right, and this election was a deviation from the norm.

The election still—clearly—does not meet the second half of the definition, which is that the event would be “extremely difficult to predict.” It wasn’t difficult to predict. The polls were uncertain. They were misinterpreted often. The information on the ground was incomplete. But it was clear, right from the Democrats’ win in 2012 that the White House could change hands in 2016.

Even the recent odds were solid that Trump could win. Just before Election Day, he had a greater than 1 in 3 chance of winning. Or as Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com said on October 30, almost two weeks before the election, the Chicago Cubs had a smaller chance of winning the World Series than Trump did of winning the election.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that the Cubs won and I was happy about it. You can bet, though, that Silver’s words rang in my head that night—and in the nights to follow.

Or as Dean, who was a professional poker player, often said, he’d won hands when the odds were 1 in 3 against him. One in three is likely, not a Black Swan event. It’s something that can easily be predicted—and was.

What was unpredictable was that two of the most unpopular candidates in the history of American polling were chosen by their parties. That meant that no matter what happened, a large chunk of the populace was going to hate whoever became president.

Nearly seventy of eligible American voters did not vote for Trump. 25.9% voted for Clinton, and 42% did not vote at allAmerica historically has the one of the lowest voter turnouts in the developed world and this year was no exception.

What that also means is this: Had Trump lost and Clinton won, that seventy percent number would have been reversed. Roughly seventy percent of the electorate would not have voted for Clinton. (Trump received 25.7% of the vote.) That would have caused problems as well.

Americans were shocked by Trump’s win. It was an emotional shock to the system, which many people in the U.S. population are still struggling to understand. Those people (probably not the full 70%, but maybe 50%) did not believe that a man like Trump could win the White House.

You Brits went through this exact same emotional shock, with the same uncertain and unreliable polling, in June of 2016. No one—no one—in the know could believe that voters would choose to leave the European Union, given the difficulties, the worldwide ramifications, the severe economic repercussions.

And then, voters surprised everyone by choosing Brexit. The plan to leave the E.U. is now underway, although it is moving slowly, and there are still uncertainties about what will happen next.

Last week, as I was researching the upcoming European elections which had similar candidates to Trump on the ballot, I saw several articles which claimed that the establishment candidate would win, despite their serious unpopularity and growing discontent in those countries. I recognized those articles. I read many similar ones here in early 2016.

In the U.S., those articles were wrong. In the U.K., those same types of articles on Brexit were wrong. I’m not saying they’re wrong for your particular country, non-Americans. I’m just saying that two major Democracies just administered a major shock to their established norms. Don’t be surprised if yours does too.

The theme of the 21st century thus far has been disruption. Technology has disrupted established industries in ways that were inconceivable in 1990. That’s why this blog exists. To understand the disruption in publishing.

I had not expected the disruption in established political institutions. That it’s happening will probably make sense in hindsight to all of those historians from 2090 who will make their entire careers studying this period of time. But I doubt I’ll live long enough to see that. 🙂

Anyway…

We’re here to discuss business. Your business. Your writing business. Although much of what I discuss will apply to most businesses.

In June, we entered times of serious and major uncertainty in the economic side of the world. Yes, June was Brexit. June was also when it became clear here in the United States that the U.S. election would be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

In June, Dean and I began serious planning for the coming uncertainty.

I know that sounds weird. How do you plan for uncertainty? The way that Writing Observer mentioned in the comments to last week’s blog:

For predictable uncertain times – you make contingency plans. … They might not be plans that you especially LIKE the idea of executing – but you pull out the one for that contingency, adjust for the details you didn’t plan for – and continue with life.

I mentioned that I had put off writing last week’s post, Third Quarter Blues, although I wanted to write it in October. I needed one final piece. I needed to see how the financial markets would respond to a Trump win. The pundits (yeah, them) believed we were looking at a steep and serious market decline immediately after a Trump victory, and considering how the markets reacted to Brexit, that decline was within the realm of the possible.

Instead, the entire world is taking a wait-and-see attitude—economically. Which means that we’re not going to go in a severe financial decline in the next few months. But you should be modeling a financial decline for 2017/2018, along with all of the other possible models.

What do I mean by modeling?

It sounds complicated, but it’s not. It’s that old if-then game we played as children. If this happens, then what will you do?

You go through all the scenarios:

If the UK votes to stay in the European Union, then what will you do?

If the UK votes to leave the European Union, then what will you do?

If the UK’s vote is tied somehow, then what will you do?

If the UK decides to leave and somehow changes its mind, then what will you do?

If you hit a place where you say, That’ll never happen, which is what a lot of Democrats (and non-voters) in the US said all year, then you hit a scenario that scares the pants off you and it’s one you really, really have to look at.

Economically speaking only, the contingency I feared the most in the days coming up to the election was a Bush v. Gore style tie in the Electoral College. That would have extended the waiting period I discussed in last week’s blog until December at the earliest, and any result—Clinton, Trump—would have been even more impactful than it would be had the decision been clear.

The decision turned out to be clear, which meant that model for that economic future got discarded.

You must plan for all the contingencies you can foresee.

Dean and I have made contingency plans for almost everything we can think of, not just for political events, but physical ones too. If a tsunami hits the Oregon Coast, where our physical business is located, what then? If a depression devastates the country and the world, what then?

But let’s move out of the realm of the devastating back to the realm of uncertain economic times.

Dean and I came up with several contingency plans for the last half of 2016 and the first part of 2017. Some of those plans included a Clinton win, some of them included a Clinton loss. All of them took Brexit into account, as best we could given what information we had.

It became clear in June that after the November election—no matter who won—there would be civil unrest in this country. It seemed obvious that if Clinton was elected, then gridlock would remain the rule of the day in U.S. government.

Modeling a Trump economic future is tougher. We don’t know what he’ll do, but we know what his party wants to do. But we also know that Trump does not get along with his party.

In other words, the world became more uncertain with a Trump victory than it would have with a Clinton victory. The man is predictably unpredictable. (Sigh.)

How long will the uncertainty last? At least two years, maybe four. Maybe more than that. We have moved into truly uncertain waters—compounded by the upcoming European elections.

So…

How do businesses handle uncertainty? In general, businesses make sure they have enough capital to weather economic stagnation and bumps. The businesses also need three kinds of plans—a plan for growth, a plan for stagnation, and a plan for loss. Predicting what will happen for your business is not as simple as looking at what’s happening at other businesses.

In any changing economic climate, some businesses will succeed and others will struggle. Sometimes those changes are predictable. For example, in late 2008 and early 2009 as the economy went into decline, I knew that small business would grow. How did I know that? I’m not a guru or anything; I’d been through this before, in the early 1980s.

When people lose their jobs and can’t find work, some of those people see that as an opportunity to leave the job market altogether and give that project they’d always been thinking of a try. Because I knew that small business and freelancing would grow in 2009 and 2010, I wrote The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.

Because the other thing that I knew was that most first-time small business owners fail. I wanted to prevent as much failure as possible.

To do modeling for the next year of your business, you need to be as clear-eyed as possible. You should research trends for your business for similar economic times, if you can.

Then you figure out as best you can what your future will be.

Here’s how you do it.

First, you figure out what the possible futures could be. By July, ours were pretty simple. Clinton victory—then what? Trump victory—then what? Markets react well—then what? Markets react poorly—then what? Civil unrest—then what? Governmental gridlock—then what? Governmental ease—then what? Possible impeachment (either candidate)—then what? And so on.

Second, figure out the impact those scenarios will have on your business. Dean and I were modeling for different businesses. Our retail businesses have a local component that our publishing and writing businesses do not have. Therefore, our models for the retail business were different than our models for publishing and writing.

Some scenarios will have no impact at all on what you’re doing. Others might have a huge impact. Be as clear-eyed and honest with yourself as possible as you set out these scenarios.

Third, plan for struggle and for success. Some businesses do better in certain types of downturns. Inexpensive entertainment—like books—do very well in economic recession. Publishing also does well—if the publishing company has low overhead. Traditional publishing companies had trouble in the last recession in part because they were bloated. They also had trouble because the technological disruption was hitting at the same time.

But the entire self-publishing movement started in the last recession. Indie writers have grown into a force since their humble beginnings of 2009—as most people struggled to make ends meet.

Fourth, make sure your plans are concrete. No vague well, we’ll look at it once the future arrives kind of plan or a maybe we’ll make cuts if the economy tanks kind of plan. Figure out what you will do from moment one.

Dean and I had meetings with the people running our companies long before November 8. We showed up for the scheduled November 9 meeting with notepads in hand, because we all knew that the future had arrived. Then we discussed the next few months, and looked at the next year as well.

Fifth, be prepared to make modifications. Even though your plans are concrete, reality does shift things. Sometimes you will have to tweak the plan you made in June to handle the realities on the ground in November.

Sixth, review your plans every week or every month throughout the period of uncertainty. Again, events on the ground are going to shift, sometimes in unexpected ways. Just this week, I’ve received all kinds of interest on projects that I thought were dead six months ago. Some of that interest is coming about because of the election. I had not planned for the revival of interest on these projects, and will have to tweak the plans Dean and I made in the coming weeks.

Seventh, be sure to include your personal time and finances in those plans. Uncertain times mean that friends, family, and others might need you on a personal level more than ever. You might find yourself providing care where you didn’t expect to, or donating more of your income to charities that have stepped up to fill some kind of gap. You might think it necessary to join the political fray in one way or another. Those things take time and resources. Plan accordingly.

Eighth, remember that the world will go on. It always does. It might not be a world you like. It might be a world you loathe. It might be a truly ugly place. Or it might be the place you dreamed about. Whatever it will be, it will be something.

For those of you in the United States, realize that 42% of eligible voters did not care enough to vote. If you asked most of them how they feel today, some will probably regret that decision. Most of them, though, are probably feeling relief that the election ads have ended, and they’re probably annoyed at everyone who still wants to talk about politics. That 42% wants to get on with the business of everyday living.

So, I would wager, does a goodly percentage of the 58% who did vote.  They’re looking ahead to the holiday season. They’re back watching football instead of the political shows. They’re talking about winter weather, not who they plan to vote for (or against).

Ninth, uncertain times—whether they’re good or bad for your business—can be extremely difficult emotionally. Hang in there. Realize that this too shall pass. Someday.

I have one final, extremely important point.

Uncertain times are not limited to world events. In fact, uncertain times are generally not worldwide events at all. They can be nationwide. They can be regional. They can be local. And they can be familial.

The United States is a large nation with a large global impact. Smaller nations have elections too, and their impact might not have an impact on any major country outside of their region. But the impact within the region might be large.

New Zealand just suffered a major earthquake. Italy has recently suffered through several major earthquakes. Those national disasters will have an impact on those countries and will probably have an impact in the region as well.

Right now, inside the United States, there are wildfires raging in American Southeast, which is not a common thing at this time of year. Not unexpected, though, given the drought. These fires will have an impact on the region and on people inside the area, but probably not a large impact on writers who live in the Pacific Northwest—unless we have family in those areas.

Familial disasters and uncertainty will have a larger impact on your business than almost any of the other disasters and uncertainties I’ve named. Dean and I have contingency plans for our deaths. If we die together, we have one plan in place. If we die separately, another exists. If we die and the other person is incapacitated, yet another plan exists.

We own businesses that employ people. We had to make these plans. It’s irresponsible not to.

It’s the old hope for the best, but plan for the worst view of life and living.

None of us can clearly see the future. We look at it through a haze, and we always operate on guesswork. But we can should plan enough so that we can make swift and informed decisions when those futures arrive.

Yes, there are black swan events. Those are harder to plan for. Often, you can modify a plan you made for uncertainty to handle the black swan event.

Mostly, though, there are foreseeable consequences for each human action. Do your best to dispassionately make the decisions you need to make for your business (and your own personal set of ethics).

If you do that, you’ll thank yourself when the time comes.

If you don’t, you might end up making the right decision waaaay too late.

I know, because some of what I’m writing about right now comes out of the school of hard knocks. Dean and I did not do this contingency planning when we owned Pulphouse Publishing. We ended up doing too little too late in two areas—first, when we had a great success that we hadn’t planned for, and then, second, when an outside event crashed into the business we were growing much too fast. We had spectacular success, followed by huge failure.

We probably could have survived that outside event had we known how to plan for uncertain times. We definitely could have survived the great success and the rapid growth it brought had we known that was going to be a problem.

Live and learn.

Or, my motto: Live, learn, and share the knowledge.

I hope you can avoid my mistakes from the past.

The next few years will be an uncertain time. Plan for that. Please.

I plan to continue the blog during this uncertain time. I’m also trying to move into the current world of technological advancement. That’s why you now see a Patreon link. I’ll write about that in an upcoming blog.

But here’s the long and short of it. If you want to support the blog on an on-going basis, (even for $1 per month), you can do that on Patreon.

If this particular post inspired you or hit a nerve, though, use the PayPal button below to leave a tip on the way out. PayPal changed the way it notified me of a donation, so in some instances, I can’t email you a thank you unless you include your email address in the message.

If you can’t afford to financially support the blog, no problem. You’re still welcome here. Please do me one favor. If the blog speaks to you, share it. There are share buttons below as well.

Thank you!

Click paypal.me/kristinekathrynrusch to go to PayPal.

“Business Musings: Running A (Writing) Business In Uncertain Times,” copyright © 2016 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © 2016 by © Can Stock Photo / iqoncept.




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23 responses to “Business Musings: Running A (Writing) Business In Uncertain Times”

  1. Actually, I think Harvey’s respectful disagreement might well make for an interesting future topic: doing your best to avoid being inflammatory, but also sticking to your principles, writing what you want, and losing people if it comes to that. I’d love to read your thoughts, Kris, along with how you see being political (or staying away from it) in general. As we’ve seen here, even when you think you’ve kept your distance, somebody might take offense anyway.

    Of course, maybe yours is the Pete Townshend route of not doing requests; I’m happy to read whatever you’re addressing either way.

  2. As always, insightful and common sense post. Thank you for the calm and rational look at the current situation and then providing a way to handle it. Thank you.

  3. Widdershins says:

    Make concrete plans for ALL contingencies … especially the ones you hate/fear. I like that. 🙂

  4. antarespress says:

    Why modern political polls are useless . . . yes, that’s right: useless.

    I used to do stats for a living. Did it on contract to the Air Force. Proud to say that one chart I did saved the Air Force a hundred million dollars. Anyway . . .

    Kris, you are old enough to remember when polls reported a margin of error of ±3%. Modern polls report a margin of error of ±4%. The difference in 1% means that modern polls are not robust and that the results of their analyses are not trustworthy.

    Margin of error is driven by the square root of the sample size. I know that a margin of 3% means the poll sampled 1,500 people. That’s a robust sample size and trustworthy. Rarely will it lead you wrong. A margin of 4% means the poll sampled only 150 people — a tenth of the size of a 3% margin. That sample size is not robust and not trustworthy. (Jay Leno made John Kasich the butt of a Tonight Show joke when a poll taken in Burbank reported Kasich polled at 1% ±4%. Leno joked that it was possible that Kasich owed the poll 3%.) By robust I mean repeatable. Confidence is a statistician’s measure of repeatability. If confidence is high (the confidence interval is narrow), a second poll — or even a third or fourth or fifth — will yield similar results. If confidence is low (the confidence interval is broad), results may vary widely from poll to poll. (I can explain this better with math and graphs.)

    If 3% is robust and 4% is not, why do the media persist in reporting bad stats?

    Because 1) they want to report something, 2) they want that something to look rigorous even if the rigor is an illusion, and 3) 4% is much, much cheaper to do than 3%.

    Making stats has four parts:
    1) planning data collection (this includes find sources for the data, writing questions (if necessary), scheduling and managing collection, collating data, planning analyses (writing computer code), and planning reports; library functions — storing and archiving data and statistics — are more or less a fixed cost under data collection);
    2) collecting data;
    3) running analyses; and
    4) reporting results.

    Typically, collecting data accounts for 80% of the cost of statistics. (FWIW planning data collection takes 5%; analyses, 5%; and reporting, 10%. The payoff flips these numbers. You get 10% of your payoff from planning, 5% from collection, 5% from analyses, and 80% from reporting. So make your charts pretty.)

    It costs 10x as much money and 10x as much time to do a 3% poll as it does a 4% poll. (I could do a 4% poll by myself in a day; that is, 24 hours.) But the innumerate news managers see only the cost and time and do not see that that 1% makes all the difference between a good poll and a useless one.

    • Great point, Antares. The other thing I learned as a reporter was that most reporters know nothing about statistics or statistical analysis. Or math, for that matter. So they can’t even understand why sample size is important, let alone the difference between a 3% poll and a 4% poll. At the end of the election, I saw a lot of reporting of 7% and 8% margin of error polls. Which is just plain ridiculous, imho.

      Thanks for this.

  5. Paul Duffau says:

    The planning process can be hugely valuable, but I’ve watched too many people go into analysis paralysis or watched them stick blindly to a failing plan (a point you address in points Five and Six above.)

    As with all things, there is more than one path forward. It sounds as though both you and Dean are “Ready, Aim, Fire!” people, in part to previous experiences. Not everybody is. I tend toward “Ready, Fire!, Aim” as my process. I also process a spectrum of broad contingencies, post-launch. In the case of the election, it means little to my business. Other than not mouthing off and annoying nice people that I disagree with, I didn’t address it at all.

    I’ve built a relatively successful business this way, focusing on my core strengths and being careful to provide buffers that will give me time to react against unexpected events or make unconventional decisions. Earlier this year, I sent letters out requesting removal from referral lists that generate much of my business and most of my problems. The net result was an increase in income (without raising my rates,) increased free time with a decrease in the annoyance factor. The time that I saved tripled my rate of writing.

    My way is not for everybody. It requires a very high tolerance for risk and a higher degree of adaptability. My advice is the same I gave my daughters. Find what works for you – do more of that.

  6. Steve Davis says:

    Kris –

    As a guy in the security business (since 1986l it is humbling to read such a good risk management article from an author .

    I hope your readers appreciate this one, whether they are in the author biz or not.

    Steve

  7. David Anthony Brown says:

    Kris, thank for you for the clear-headed posts. We certainly live in interesting times, and seeking out sensible voices in the internet chatter is challenging.

    One thing I realized after the American election: the world needs more fiction of all genres. My focus during the last year has been romantic erotica, the fluffy kind with larger than life characters and improbable events. The world needs more of those kind of stories, too 🙂

  8. This isn’t about writing, but in the spirit of taking lessons from other spheres of activity, there’s a wonderful book called “The Resilient Gardener,” by Carol Deppe (another NW American writer). Her whole introduction is about planning to be resilient in the face of all sorts of challenges, from breaking your arm (what do you do if your food plan for the year is to garden?) to a thousand-year disaster hitting. The lessons and suggestions for that sort of planning echo strongly with what you wrote this week, Kris. Also there’s lots of good gardening advice, for those as like that.

  9. Harvey Stanbrough says:

    Kris, I know you won’t let this comment through, and that’s fine. It’s meant for you, not your other readers.

    I always share your Business Musings and your fiction with my readers.

    I just wanted to share with you what I wrote in today’s post as a brief addendum.

    “Kris Rusch remains the best fictionist I know and obviously has a very good business mind. In the past, her mantra has been “Keep political opinions to yourself. Put it in your fiction.”
    But as forewarned by the title [Running a Writing Business in Uncertain Times], she begins again on the results of the election, with which she strongly disagrees. That is her prerogative.

    If you agree with her or can wade through the muck, I recommend her Business Musings. And I always recommend her fiction for pleasure and study.

    But I unsubscribed. That is my prerogative.”

    Kris, thanks for taking the time to read this. I wanted to at least let you know why you lost one subscriber.

    • I’m putting this through because of what Harvey says here. I do say no politics, and I tried very hard to be politics free. But so far, I’ve pissed off one reader in private and Harvey here unsubscribed.

      When you write pieces like this, you do so at your peril. I felt–and feel–it’s important for writers to learn how to plan for the future, based on world (and national and regional) events. But I knew I might lose some people. I’m sorry that it’s happened, and I wish it were different.

      Thanks for the support, Harvey.

      • Paul Duffau says:

        Bravo, Kris. For the record, I had no problem with the (very) low level of politics in the post. You chose a classical instance with multiple possible outcomes and presented them objectively. Good advice is good advice.

      • Prasenjeet says:

        Hi Kris. This is a reply to Harvey’s comment. I don’t unsubscribe to people just because I politically disagree with them. Kris is entitled to her own opinions even though I may not necessarily agree with them. Yet, I love Kris for what she has to say and her advice is very motivating, practical and fantastic.

      • I didn’t have it with any problems either. It stayed–the best way to describe it–professional, thoughtful, and on topic. Thoughtful discussion of anything involving this election has been hard to find at best.

        There is a writer I’ve read and enjoyed, but I had to unfollow him on Facebook. When it came to politics, he considered you wrong and stupid if you didn’t share his viewpoint. I wanted to follow him to enjoy reading his comments, and he took that away from me.

        • Teri B says:

          I agree. I thought it was an excellent use of a ‘teachable moment’ as well as a non-partisan, non-inflammatory approach to a topic that is in desperate need of thoughtful consideration.

  10. Ferran says:

    Sorry, but political disruption has been coming while everyone looked the other way. What was the Arab Spring if not disruption? Before that, London had a major elected against the wished of its own party. Syriza in Greece. Current majors in several major Mediterranean cities (besides Greece, Rome, Barcelona, Valencia.. that I know of; not quite the Med, but Madrid also) wouldn’t have gotten a meeting with the assistant deputy third secretary in charge of obnoxious electors weeks before being elected. The current Spanish 2nd-ish party did not EXIST 3 years ago, did most of its campaign outside channels (had to, since only parties with parliamentary presence have real access to those)…

    I’m told that in the States abstention favors Dems. If so, then the left/right axis is, again, sort of reversed WRT Spain. But if you accept that reversal, then what’s happened in the GOP in the States, also happened to Spanish “Socialists” [*]. With the Spanish multiparty system (which does favor bipartisanship, but no way near as much as the States), this has given us another party each side of Parliament and a severely crippled Socialist party. With the US system, these things have been put a lid on [+]… until pressure blew the lid away.

    But the thrust is there. Web 2.0. When you can set a demonstration up in minutes via texting (or, currently, wassapp, or…), press conferences and print editions are obsolete [#]. Once upon you had to get a press (possibly under the table). These days, you hit “send”. Email, forums… nevermind. If this comment gets through, I’ll be read by more people than if I’d printed leaflets.

    It really is the same as in publishing. And its coming into manufacturing. My personal suspicion is that states were born from the Industrial revolution, supra-national entities from required access to overseas resources (money, workers, space, materials)… and both are getting long in the teeth. People want something they can decide here, now, not in some un-approachable Parliament (if that) several time zones East. Those political entities must either get extremely agile, very fast, of they’ll be trampled. Scary. [%]

    Take care.

    [*]: Their socialism is… sort of suspect. Certainly more to the left than Trump, even Hillary and Obama. With some exceptions, quite to the right of Sanders. It’s… complicated. Basically, Spanish mainstream Socialism is about that as a good deal of Bush appointees where really in favor of small government, Federalism and such.

    [+]: Pressure against Sanders in the Convention, pressures against Trump during their primaries, hijacking of the Tea Party by mainstream GOP (starting some… 8-9 years ago, but ongoing). Still, the signs where there: I, a foreigner, know of two recall elections by name, several more by reference.

    [#]: Spanish grassroots impromptu demos after the cover up of the Madrid bombings, March 11th, 2004. Texting with friends. N degrees of separation collapsed the government JUST prior to an election, and their… er… strong leanings towards order didn’t help AT ALL.

    [%]: Specially since they do’t look likely to do it. The EU Constitution had a proviso for agility… that had been very obviously watered down right there. And even after it was rammed down the throats of half Europe (check the date of the Spanish referendum WRT the approval of the text; or check how many times the Irish were pushed to vote), it ended up being “repealed”… then rammed again by back channels. “Subsidiarity”, my rear end.

    PS: I’m hoping this is generic enough, but if not, just keep it for you, never mind.

    • I’m hoping it’s generic enough too, Ferran. I’ve had to delete several posts so far, and one person got annoyed because I wanted to cut a paragraph. Her post, excellent otherwise, was that the uncertainty I’m talking about was predicted by several economists in 2008.

      Folks, please, no arguing about politics here. If you disagree with Ferran’s analysis in his footnotes…um, contact him, maybe? I’m leaving them because of his points about his being a foreigner and aware of the infighting in the States. I listed to a piece on Brexit last night, and realized I knew a lot of the same things about Great Britain, which I hadn’t known before.

      We are interconnected, and it’s becoming clearer by the day, which will have an impact–good and bad–on our businesses.

  11. Christina E says:

    Thanks Kris. I’m just starting out as a baby freelancer, and every day is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s good to hear words of wisdom from “solid old rocks” like yourself, who have already been there and done that, and have the scars as proof. I came to the blog today feeling dreadfully uncertain, but now I feel a little better. So thanks!

  12. Jane Steen says:

    I’d love you to talk a bit more about what you CAN predict in the self-publishing business, Kris. At my stage, with 3 full length titles in a series out, I’m seeing oddly predictable patterns happening in sales and marketing. I have to go through a couple of year cycles before I can make sense enough of it all to help other people with my analyses. Your decades-long perspective would be a valuable addition. (This would all have to assume that the indie in question has paid attention to writing craft, cover design, and editing.)

  13. Prasenjeet says:

    Hi Kris. A great post as usual. I can understand that those who are doing well this year should perhaps create an emergency fund for the next year. But what will your advice be to those who make slightly more than dinner money with their writing apart from writing more books, creating more cash streams, not going exclusive and moving forwards? 🙂

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