Business Musings: Things I Learned (Or Relearned) in 2014
In the past two weeks, I wrote two year-in-review posts, “What Traditional Publishing Learned in 2014,” and “Things Indie Writers Learned in 2014.” Those two posts came after I started this one. I’ve been writing bits of this one off and on since October, as the year has become clearer in my brain.
Usually, I do a year-end analysis just for me, and there’s a lot of year-end stuff that I learned or needed to revamp that I have not put in this post. It’s personal or too deep in the business weeds to make sense to other people. But what I have here are things that I figure will be useful to folks other than me.
2014 was one of those years where frustration seemed to be the dominant emotion for me. Some of the lessons I learned twenty years ago got refined for the new age, and some of the new things I learned took more time than I anticipated. I also learned a few things about other people in general, some of which I did not want to know. The good things about other people though, came through strong, and that was truly wonderful.
One of those good things happened in the last few weeks. It’s been great to come back to the blog, and to find so many of you still reading, still waiting, and still supporting. You’ve touched me with your kindness and your good words. Thank you.
Now, without further ado, here’s what I learned (or relearned) in 2014—or at least the things I feel comfortable sharing. I hope you find the list useful.
Working On A Big Project Takes A Big Effort
Big Projects Suck All of The Air Out of The Room
When people are working on a massive project, they can’t do anything else. So even important stuff goes by the wayside.
I finished the big Retrieval Artist project in the fall and have been cleaning up ever since. Lots of projects left undone, lots of people waiting for things, lots of little details missed.
I should have expected that, but I stumbled into this big project. I truly thought it was going to be smaller—three books instead of six. Jeez. It kept growing and growing, and I kept triaging.
I doubt I’ll ever plan something that big—I didn’t plan this one!—but next time I won’t be surprised by the way it took time from everything else.
A Break Can Be Necessary
We took a couple of interesting breaks this year. I took a writing break (or tried to. See below). WMG Publishing went on hiatus in July—which was something all of us involved with the company decided to try in January of 2014. The hiatus was necessary in part because Dean and a friend were building a sound room for the audio department, and they wanted the freedom to do the construction. But also, the hiatus gave us some much-needed clarity on how the business works (or doesn’t).
We didn’t act on that clarity soon enough, but the hiatus allowed us to make changes rather than continue to charge ahead with the path we’d already been on.
Most of the publishing staff is on hiatus in December as well. (We always keep at least one person around during a hiatus to handle the truly important things…slowly). Our publisher had been agitating for time off over the holidays for two reasons: it’s almost impossible to get anything done that month, what with the big online services shutting down for the last few weeks of the year, and the distractions of the holiday season (particularly for those with little kids).
Last year, the holiday season became a series of missed opportunities because everything we tried to do got thwarted by the end-of-the-year closures at the various online sites. (For instance, we were going to change a bunch of covers between Christmas and New Year’s, but that proved impossible.) For 2014, we scheduled no major projects or releases during that period so we had the option of a hiatus.
The neat thing about a full business hiatus was the refocus. Before July, we’d never done one this dramatic, and honestly, it changed all of our perspectives. Things we thought we couldn’t live without were easy to jettison. Things we didn’t realize we needed rose to the top.
And we came back, ready to start again.
I think two hiatuses are probably too much, but we’ll all reassess in January, when there’s a full meeting of the all of folks in charge. Or maybe a month each time is too long. We’ll see.
Some businesses aren’t designed for a hiatus. We own three retail businesses. (Yes, three. Don’t ask.) Taking a retail break in December is just dumb.
In fact, taking a retail break at any point during the year is dumb. Because customers arrive when customers arrive.
The key for year-round businesses is to have vacation time for the employees. They will need time away from the grind.
I don’t believe that employees should take their work with them on holiday either. Because they need a full-stop break. They need to clear their heads and think about something else for a while.
This being available 24/7 that so many American businesses demand just isn’t healthy.
I work 24/7 at my job because it’s play for me. And I’m self-employed. And I do not want to do something else. Even when I go on “vacation,” I’m researching or writing notes or visiting historical sites. I consume a lot of entertainment which has an impact on my job. So…naw.
But require my employees to work when they’re on their personal time? It’s not fair. It’ll burn them out.
We didn’t offer enough time in 2013, and everyone was reeling by the end of the year. That’s when the hiatus idea came into play—forced vacations (because we had people who refused to use their vacation time—and they needed that time).
We’ll see what we can come up with in 2015. No sense losing valuable employees because they are too stressed to enjoy their jobs.
The Best Part About Running A Business Is Making Your Own Rules
If we want the retail store closed half the week, we can do it. If we want to stay open to accommodate a special client, we can do that too. (Provided the contract we signed with the mall we’re in allows any of this.)
If we want to take two hiatuses in two separate months, we can. If we want to close for six months, as another friend is doing with his business, we can do that as well.
We also know that if we cut our retail hours, we will cut our profit. Or if we work our publishing employees too hard, they will burn out.
If I want to write at one-quarter my usual speed, I can. If I want to spend all my time on one project in a year, I can. If I want to write short stories only, I can.
All the businesses need to do the cost-benefit analysis before making decisions. We get to figure out what works for our various businesses, not follow some weird dictate predicated on a preconceived idea on how things should work.
I’ll Probably Never Stop Working
When most people say that phrase, they’re whining. Me, I simply don’t understand retirement or relaxing. I tried to relax in a traditional fashion when I finished the massive Retrieval Artist project. I took a small trip, I saw a bunch of movies, I’ve read a lot of books, I’ve tried to stay away from my desk. I keep wandering back to it.
I guess when play is the same as work, time off isn’t necessary.
Learning Costs Money
Sometimes that money gets spent on classes and continuing education. Sometimes it’s a failed investment. Sometimes it’s spent on heading down wrong roads and then backtracking or moving sideways.
I know this. I have known it for decades now. Apparently, I fail to absorb it. Or I’m getting less able to shrug it off. You’d think—I’d think—at 54, I’d be smart enough to avoid some of these costly pitfalls.
But I’m not.
Success Costs Money
Those investments I mentioned above, those wrong roads? Sometimes they happen because people like me try many roads and experiment and take chances. Those chances cost money too, but they always have a good return on the investment. So…the lessons are mixed here.
World Events Still Impact Book Sales
Book sales went through the floor on August 19, 2014, all across the United States. Why? Because Robin Williams committed suicide.
One well-known and beloved man’s death caused a crisis across the country. Suicides often create what’s called a suicide cluster, meaning that others who were tottering on the brink of suicide will fall off and kill themselves after someone else goes first. Usually, clusters are localized, but when someone as rich, famous, and successful as Williams dies in such a public and surprising way, the suicide cluster becomes huge.
All of the therapists I know reported a crisis uptick in August. Lots of families rallied to support their at-risk relatives. Lots of friends did too.
And, because this crisis was so severe, no one was focused on entertainment or books or book promotions.
Book sales went down across the board. Even folks who were running a promotion didn’t have the kind of success they usually did.
I doublechecked with friends across the country, and had several RWA members check when their summer sales decline began when I was in San Francisco in September. To a person, everyone reported that the decline began around August 19 and continued for several weeks. Some writers recovered quickly (within a month). Others took another month before their sales rebounded to the usual levels.
I’ve experienced this event-driven sales decline numerous times in my career. I watched a lot of writers lose their bestseller status because their books released in September of 2001 (9/11). Other friends lost their careers when the Berlin Wall fell because those writers were writing Cold War novels. It has taken 25 years for the Cold War/spy thriller to rebound.
World events do have an impact. Sometimes genre-focused events have an impact as well. (Subgenres sell well until they’re perceived as glutted, and then the sales stop.) And watch: as the contracts come due, lots of Hachette authors will get (quietly) dropped because Hachette will blame them for the sales decline over that summer-long public fight with Amazon.
Sometimes it’s not about us or the quality of our work. Sometimes the world actually does intrude on our lives—in very disruptive ways.
Doing Marketing Right Makes Everything Better
Marketing is easy to do wrong. In fact, it’s easier to do wrong than I had thought, having learned this year that what I consider to be common sense is counterintuitive to many, many, many people. I first learned this with my Discoverability series on my blog, and then again in person, with…well, never mind. Too deep in the business weeds.
Doing marketing right improves an already well-run business. This got hammered home to me in the fall, when Dean and I bought the store back.
The store, for those of you who don’t know, is Pop Culture Collectables here in Lincoln City, Oregon. Dean started the store eight years ago, then we sold it to a wonderful woman who kept it running through the recession and into 2014.
She made a living with the collectables, had a large group of regulars from around the nation who showed up whenever they were in town, and developed the store into a major stop for collectors of specific types (particularly comic book and cookie jar collectors).
She retired in October. For a year, Dean talked about buying the store back, but I hadn’t wanted to do it if we were unable find a good person to run it. (We sure weren’t going to.)
Dean’s collectable karma worked here. One of the local bookstore owners recommended a man who’d worked in bookstores around town for more than a decade, and had risen high in a national book chain (to the point where he would go around the country, opening stores). The local chain store closed due to a conflict between the parent company and our local mall, so the geniuses at chain store corporate laid this guy off.
Those geniuses tried to rehire him this fall—but only if he moved out of town. We had hired him instead, and he said no to his old bosses. (Life here on the coast is good.)
He spent his first month organizing everything. A collectables store can devolve into a junk store if the owner is not careful. Because collectables cover everything from thimbles to jigsaw puzzles, the shelves of a collectables store can end up looking like an indoor yard sale.
There are customers who like the clutter, but some customers—those who are looking for something specific or those who want to browse—get scared away by too much stuff. (As with everything retail, there are a bunch of studies that show this fact.)
Over the years, Pop Culture Collectables ended up with too many items randomly placed on the shelves. The first thing the new manager did was examine, clean, and move each item into a section.
That seems like common sense, right? The mugs are next to the mugs, the jewelry has its own case, trading cards are in a particular area. But the previous owner, who hadn’t had retail training, had stopped sorting as the years went by. Too much stuff, too little time, as is often the case in such stores.
After the reorganization, sales picked up immediately—not from the hardcore collectors, but from the browsers who were no longer scared of amount of stuff inside the store. With the stuff displayed in a logical easy-to-find manner, browsers (and the people who wanted one specific item) felt welcome, and spent money.
The new manager also removed every “special discount” or “special this week!” sign all over the store. He raised almost all the prices, and has not held a sale yet. He will, when he feels comfortable doing advertising, but as he said, he’ll do it for a weekend and make the sale into an event.
He sells more individual items than the store has sold per day in years.
Got that? He raised prices, and is selling more, not less. And making a larger profit on each item.
The other common-sense thing that the new manager did? Kept the store open seven days per week, for the same hours as the other stores in the mall. The previous owner would close early if the sales day didn’t look promising or if she had a doctor’s appointment. She made sure she had a minimum of two days off—more in the winter.
The new manager has time off because we hired a part-time employee to handle two days per week. But the store remains open during all posted business hours—and voila! sales went up again.
What does this do? It means people aren’t being turned away in disappointment by a closed door.
He hands out the store’s phone number to collectors. He already has a list of names for the mailing list. True collectors and what they’re looking for, have gone on yet another list. And, as the dead of winter approaches, he’s busy making sure everything is also available online.
Remember, the store we bought has been a profitable business of eight years. It supported one woman very well, and allowed her to have extra employees in the busy summer months. It was, by all retail standards, a successful business.
And yet, by doing marketing right, the manager has made the store even more successful in just three months.
This puts me in mind of writers and their marketing. A lot of writers have success doing things the way everyone else does or by discounting.
They also make their work available in only one format or on one platform. Being available on only one platform—or, to be more accurate, being unavailable on most platforms—is the online equivalent of a closed door. Because customers on other platforms hear about the book and will try to order, but can’t. They’re turned away—and they might never return.
The most important thing—the thing that the new manager reinforced for me—is placing items on the correct shelf, with similar items. Basic, basic, basic marketing. And it has more than doubled the sales at the store.
It’ll do the same for writers. If they correctly identify the genre of their books, then readers can easily find the books.
Pop Culture Collectables’ newsletter hasn’t launched yet. The Facebook page went up this week. The eBay store started a few weeks ago. There’s no website, no local advertising besides the store sign (yet).
Just proper marketing, good branding, and some common sense—or I guess, what the manager and I consider to be common sense. But we’ve both had sales, marketing, and retail training. And it’s engrained in our bones.
Writers and new publishers need to learn the same things. Because once books go to market, they’re in the retail market—and that has its own set of rules and expectations.
I’ve written blog posts about this before, and have a very long section in my Discoverability book about price. (Frankly, the stuff in the book makes more sense than the posts on my site because the argument is laid out in order. On the blog, it went back and forth, as I often do when I’m writing something. Check out the book on this.)
If I’ve written about price, how come I’m revisiting it here? Because, as I say all along, price is a strategy, a tool, and, at times, a weapon.
WMG Publishing and I did some price promotions for the Smokey Dalton/Kris Nelscott books which went very well. That series had terrible luck with its first publisher, St. Martins Press. The books are award-winning and highly acclaimed, and readers could never find and/or order them. So the books have a lot of potential readers, but very few actual readers.
Our strategy was to change that. We’ve done some introductory pricing of the first book A Dangerous Road, plus some targeted promotions to certain book clubs nationwide. There will be more Nelscott promotions in 2015.
One of the promotions used Book Bub, eBookSoda, and a few of the other ebook promotion sites to promote a three-day only $1.99 introductory price on A Dangerous Road. We had more downloads in that short period of time than St. Martin’s got on the hardcover sales of the last Nelscott book they published. So, our sales spiked dramatically.
But guess what? At that $1.99 price, our income went down. Significantly. Lots of sales, very little revenue.
That was something we planned for, of course, but seeing it in stark black-and-white terms made me deeply uncomfortable.
The halo effect of that introductory offer continues months later as readers work their way through the series. The books remain at full price, and the sales on A Dangerous Road have grown dramatically since that promotion as people recommend the book to friends.
The promotion did what it was supposed to do.
The following month, however, we sold fewer individual books than we did with the $1.99 price point and made a lot more money. Since I make my living as a writer, I prefer making a living wage to having a lot of downloads.
My advice remains the same: If you want to introduce your work to someone, lower the price on a special promotion. Then raise the price again—so you can actually earn money.
Use this tool sparingly. Because if you do it several times per year, the consumer will wait until you lower the price again before buying.
This New World of Publishing Is Strange
In addition to the Nelscott promotion, which WMG Publishing did in coordination with me, I experienced another $1.99 promotion in 2014. Sourcebooks routinely lowers the price of one of my backlist books on Kindle—without my permission. And let me be honest here, the royalties I make on those promotions (if I make royalties, depending on how the accounting department counts the discount [deep or not]) are miniscule. A percent of a percent of a percent. Tiny, tiny, tiny.
Usually there’s a small halo on the WMG Grayson books when Sourcebooks runs a promotion like that, but this time, the halo was huge. Why?
Because—for some reason—the book was chosen to appear on the front page of the Kindle Daily Deal, instead of one of the also-rans farther back. My understanding (and that could be wrong) is that Amazon determines which book hits that front page (and is the cover image for all the KDD emails), so there was no extra advertising spending on the part of Sourcebooks.
I saw a significant halo on my Grayson books this time, which continues—and (score!) I didn’t pay for the promotion. Sourcebooks did.
I gotta tell you: in the past, traditional publishers would never have invested advertising money in an old book. Now they do. I discovered Linda Fairstein because Pocket Books, one of her previous publishers whom she hasn’t been with in more than a decade, put one of her titles as a monthly Amazon deal (at $1.99). Now, I’m sure Pocket is doing this so that the books met a certain sales threshold. The sales threshold guarantees that the author and her agent can’t ask for a rights reversion (and the book remains as an asset on Pocket Books’ balance sheet), but hey, that traditional-publisher-advertising-an-old-book thing? Amazing. Blows my traditionally trained mind all to hell.
Sales Need To Be Special
Those of you who have read my book Discovery or who read this blog a year ago know I predicted that Black Friday would cease being the biggest shopping day of the year. Black Friday sales were way down in 2014.
Why? Five Days of Black Friday! Seven Days of Black Friday! Black Friday Deals All November!
Plus, shoppers have figured out the major retailers’ systems. As Burt Flicklinger of Strategic Resource Group told NBC News on December 26, 2014,
The shoppers are outsmarting the stores, waiting for deeper and deeper discount as you get closer to the end of Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. So the longer the shoppers wait, the better the bargains.
If you can get the bargains at any point, then there’s no point in shopping on one particular day. In fact, if you’re expecting deals all the time, then why shop on anyone else’s schedule at all?
This applies to writing and book promotion as well. There are writers with only five books out who always have something free or 99 cents or on sale. If you’re a fan of their work, you will never have to pay full price for anything they do. Ever. Because they regularly put their books on sale to goose purchasing.
Weirdly, these are the same people who are often Amazon-only. So you might not be able to get their book anywhere except Amazon, and there you can get it on sale almost all the time.
The writers who used these strategies to get big “sales” numbers four years ago are mostly out of the business now. They promoted their five books (or two books or one book) to death, watched the sales plummet no matter what they tried, and then gave up because “no one was buying books any more.”
At some point, if a writer has her books in one shop only, always on sale, and she don’t produce new product (or very much new product) then she will reach all the people who are interested in her work. Why? Because she’s not providing entry points for new readers. Those readers might have already seen her on-sale book and decided it wasn’t for them. If she had written another book or two, they might have tried those, but she never did. So readers no longer recommending her book to friends. Her book is so last year. So forgotten.
Constant sales just add to the noise. Do you know what the Black Friday specials were this year? I remember only one, a car company. I know about it only because I was watching a football game live and saw the ad more times than I want to think about. Even that special wasn’t special. For the entire month of November, that company was offering discounts to help it clear the inventory for the 2015 models. (How do I know this? I saw the ad so many damn times, I actually had time to read the fine print.)
Special has to be just that. Special.
And Black Friday 2014 proved this old adage right—in spades.
When You Ask People To Think Outside the Box, They Must Know There is A Box. They Must Understand The Box. They Must Know the Limitations of the Box
Some people can’t see the box for the cardboard. Or something like that. They have no idea what the box is, so thinking outside the box is impossible.
That’s one of those things writing teachers know: students must understand the rules before breaking them.
Same with that proverbial box. People have to understand the box before they can step outside it and figure out how to improve it.
Some People Want To Be Rewarded For Simply Showing Up
Whoa, have I had some real life lessons in 2014. One of them is that there’s a whole class of people who “get by.” They try to give the people they’re working for/with exactly what those people want by getting detailed instructions. If no instructions are forthcoming, then nothing gets done. Or gets done badly.
So we go back to our box metaphor. What might look like innovation might actually be ineptitude. Hard to tell at the beginning (when the relationship is new), easy to see in the middle.
Because I’ve always been a conscientious employee/worker/contract laborer even when I hated the work, I have never understood the people who get by. I once blew a group of get-by types out of the water at a job I hated by doing everything they spent 8 hours fudging at in 30 minutes. And then that group bitched at me for “ruining” their jobs.
So I have seen this before; I just forgot it.
People Are Entitled To Their Own Opinions
I just don’t have to listen to them.
I’ve decided to stop attending sf conventions for a while because of the normal nasty internal politics have gotten so ugly that I don’t even want to get near people on any of the sides—including the people I agree with.
I realized that one reason I stopped writing my blog was because I grew tired of dealing with trolls—most of whose comments I never even published on the website. I would respond to all but the worst of them, telling the trolls why they weren’t going to have a comment on my blog.
I have since decided not to do that. I have new rules for my comments section as I returned to blogging.
As always, personal attacks (on me or other writers) will not get through. Anyone who writes a comment must sign their real name with a real website that I can inspect before I put up the comment. No more anonymous posts. (I used to allow one anonymous post before the commenter got a post deleted.) If someone persistently writes nasty comments on this blog—even though that someone knows I won’t post the comments, that someone will get blocked.
Trolls and haters exist everywhere. Since I started editing in the late 1980s, I’ve had some persistent haters who naysay everything I do, both online and in person. These people (and there are always new ones) go out of their way to decry what I do in every single forum they’re on.
Staying in the business long-term means having personal ways to deal with the trolls and haters. Mostly, I ignore them. Life is too short to spend all of my time on the same boards or online forums or convention panels correcting someone else’s misperceptions and lies.
To be frank, though, I have no idea why some people need to constantly (and visibly) pee in the pool. If you don’t like the pool, find one you do like. It’s that simple.
I’ve stopped visiting some of my favorite bloggers because they’re allowing their own comment section to devolve into the same kind of nastiness I’m decrying above. The attacks on long-term writers who are very good at what they do but might not know about, support, or understand indie publishing sadden me. The attacks on indie writers because they’ve chosen not to follow traditional paths also dishearten me.
The writers who have made totally boneheaded comments to the media about things they don’t understand make me deeply uncomfortable. The opinions of some writers I can ignore (I read a lot of fiction writers whose politics I deeply disagree with), mostly because those writers are not in my face with their personal opinions all the time.
But continually get in my face with your opinions (not your fictional characters’ opinions), and I stop buying your books. Simple as that. And it’s much easier to get into someone’s face these days—with all of that social media.
You might think we agree because we like the same stories.
You are most likely wrong.
You have your opinions; I have mine.
Let’s just respect that and move on, shall we?
Speaking of Websites…
We did a redesign of my site that we’re still tweaking. I like it better (the old site was meeeeeeelting), but it still needs work, and that takes time. About the moment I think I know how to run the site, something else kicks my butt.
I’ve been fighting with the RSS Feed for months now, and may have a solution, but it’s one that I can’t implement. So I’m in the process of getting help to fix it.
Please bear with me. Because this website keeps reaffirming one of my major life lessons: I can’t do it all.
One Good Employee is Worth 12 Bad Employees
When you have people who do their jobs well, reward them. Pay them as much as you can, given your business model. Give them time off if/when they need it. And for heavens’ sake, tell them repeatedly just how good they are.
If you’re running a traditional business, then make notes in their employee files about how fantastic they are. Because you’d make notes if the employee sucked, wouldn’t you? Make notes on how good they are.
Because everyone makes mistakes. And at some point, you might want to remember the 1,000 things that employee did right, so that you can easily forgive the one thing he did wrong.
And if you’re truly lucky, you’ll find one of those indispensible people, the kind who make the job a joy, who do what they’re asked and more, who see the holes and fill them.
The kind who does the job better than you ever could.
Right now, we have several employees like that. They are wonderful.
Good Contract Labor
We also have some folks we hire on contracts from out of state, and they are wonderful as well. We give them as much work as we can—and honestly, not as much work as we’d like to. Because we only hire them on an as-needed basis, and sometimes we don’t need them.
Here’s what you do with a good contractor. Again, tell them how good they are. Pay them well. And the biggie—
Recommend them to other people.
The day before I first wrote this, I recommended three different contract laborers. One was an insurance broker (and that broker is paid by the State of Oregon, not me, because of the various new insurance laws); another was a copy editor; and the third was a book service that does a variety of things.
These recommendations are as simple as breathing to me—I don’t even think about it. I just do it.
Because if I recommend those people, then they can then build their businesses, and stay in business, and have success. They’ve done a good job. I can pay them, but I can also work the word-of-mouth. I feel obligated to do so.
And, considering all those non-thinkers I had to deal with this year, that experience has made me value the great people I work with all the more.
Writing Is A Damn Good Gig
I was on jury duty in 2014, which meant that when summoned by the court, I had to get up 3 hours after I usually went to bed, drive almost thirty miles over mountain roads, and report to a hallway in the courthouse, where confused locals wearing bright blue-and-white Juror buttons lingered.
Court employees scurried about doing their jobs. Other people sat nervously near the courtroom doors, waiting for some ruling that could change their lives. We jurors sipped coffee and talked, mostly about the weather or our previous jury experiences.
One morning, a cell phone pinged and pinged and pinged. We all looked around to see why someone wasn’t answering the damn thing. After a good three minutes, one juror chuckled with embarrassment and said, “Ooops, that’s me. That’s my alarm.” It was 9 am. That was his get-out-of-bed alarm. We could all relate.
Every time I sat in the courthouse, I realized just how lucky I am to be a professional writer. I can do the job anywhere. I don’t have to get up at a specific time. I don’t need a lot of equipment. I can count jury duty as research—because it is.
Once, during voir dire, a lawyer asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I write novels.” He said with complete disbelief, “And you make money at that?” I thought, You idiot, you just asked me how I make a living, and I’m under oath. I responded calmly, “Yes.”
Yes, I make a living writing novels, and writing all kinds of other things. And I’m really luck to be able to do it.
I’m even luckier that the ebook revolution hit. Indie publishing has increased my income more than fivefold, but that’s less important to me than what else the revolution has done.
It’s given me the freedom to write what I want when I want. Sometimes that’s a problem, but that’s one of those problems you trade up for. It’s one of those good problems.
I’m doing projects I could never do with a traditional publisher, in a way that satisfies both me and my readers. Not only am I my own master on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour level, but I also determine the kind of work I do.
After thirty years of writing, I forgot how wonderful that freedom is. It was and is my every day, and so it becomes routine. Then something like jury duty breaks my routine and forces me to remember just how fortunate I am.
The Hope of A New Year
Full confession: I buy nine paper calendars every year and scatter them around the house and my various offices. I also use computer calendars on every single computer I work on. Some of that is to track the current year, but mostly, I love to see those empty days on the page, waiting to be filled.
My favorite calendar time is just before the year starts, with the new possibilities gleaming ahead.
Whether you go overboard on calendars or not, I hope your new year is the best you’ve ever had—both personally and in your writing.
I didn’t think I’d be so happy to return to blogging, but I am. Yet another lesson learned in 2014. I really couldn’t blog while the Retrieval Artist sucked all the air out of the room—there was no space in my brain for anything else—but now that I’m rested, I’m glad to be reading the blogs and thinking about business. And writing my own again.
Thanks to all of you for the great comments and emails and forwards and tweets. Much appreciated. I also appreciate the donations, which does help to encourage me to blog more since I don’t get paid for the nonfiction.
So…if you found something of interest here, please leave a tip on the way out. (And yes to those of you who asked, White Mist Mountain is my company.)
“Business Musings: Things I Learned (or Relearned) in 2014” copyright © 2014 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.