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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

That Whole Writing Thing I Was Going To Do

Last year, I made this grand proclamation that the state of Mongo, Angry. Mongo Smash! blog was one of in flux. I was losing the bandwidth to post with regular frequency in order to focus on other, more important obligations. However, I was going to concentrate that whole writing aspect into producing some original work in the form of an ebook, perhaps.

That’s still on the plate. I have not forgot about that. Still, I’ve run into several problems.

For one, time. I don’t have time to write out all that stuff. Truth is, I have the stories. I have PLENTY of stories. Whether they are good or not is up for debate. The material is there . Actually sitting down and writing it out is a bit harder. I’m already two chapters into a book that is most likely going to be the lead off title.

I was originally going to put up some nonfiction but my original plan was to see if I could actually sell something and make a profit without compromising my business model of being a lazy, cheap ass entrepreneur. Unfortunately, the material for that book is kind of dependent on others actually selling. Not to mention that the nonfiction business related book is a static view of an otherwise constantly changing and evolving state of mind. What methods I document for today’s market may change tomorrow, rendering the book passé and not worth reading. The point is to generate content that is readable and adaptable in any year.

That’s why fiction works. It’s not meant to be a treatise of what is actually going on at the moment. It’s left to be interpreted by the reader and good fiction is something that can be written a thousand years ago and still speak to the nature of humanity and the odds we face today.

You also have to take into account your audience. Because I’m a procrastinating slowpoke, I could write an epic novel about the supernatural, vampires, or swords and sorcery elements and it may eventually get finished after the whole craze surrounding those genres have worn out their appeal. Once again, passé.

That’s why I like the t-shirt business. It’s not hard for me to knock out a pretty decent design for a current event or meme while it’s still relevant. But those trends will die out and others will follow and I can keep coming up with stuff because the turnaround is minimal. Writing for a blog has that advantage, too, though the ability to generate a profit from it is limited.

With writing novels, there is more planning involved and I want to stay true to my ideas and my process without having to say, “Hmmm, zombie love stories are trending on Amazon. I better bang something out by the end of next week for people to gobble up.” I don’t work that fast or in that manner when it comes to storytelling.

I’m always reminded of the production triangle when it comes to things like these. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a triangle with three sides, or areas, representing the choices available for a production or business project:
  • I want it done Cheap
  • I want it done Fast
  • I want it done Well
You are only allowed to pick two. It makes sense, really. The same goes with writing. If you want it done cheap and fast, it will be crappy and riddled with errors. If you want it done fast and well, you going to have to pay more (as in time away from your job to work on it resulting in costing you more… or a publisher paying an ungodly amount for quality work, now.). If you want it done well and at a lower cost, you better be prepared to wait a while for it to be done.

The writing I hope to make money off of will probably fall into the category of “Done Cheap and Well”. Since I am lazy and a cheap ass.

A second problem is content. I have the ideas. I just haven’t got my arms around on the best way to present it. Do I write a short story and sell it for a buck, taking in around 30% of the profit? Do I plan out an epic series and hope that there is enough interest beyond the first book? How long should it be? Do I write a collection of short stories, perhaps with a common theme or interconnected to each other?

The work I’m currently two chapters in to writing is a basic haunted house story. I’m not trying to go and reinvent the genre. It’s simply a story that I had formulated based off of a weird dream I had a few years back. Consider it, Inception… lol.

What about marketing? Since I am planning on doing this on my own, I have my own marketing tools to rely on for some much needed buzz. Do I release the first chapter on my blog and then provide a link to download the rest of the book through Amazon or Barnes and Noble? What if it sucks? People may read that and not want to buy it. Then again, if I’m worried about that then I should feel really crappy if someone were to buy one of my books, sight unseen, and then write a scathing review. I may fool some people into spending their money but word of mouth will kill my chance at making a run at writing.

Lastly, it comes down to sustainability. DO I REALLY WANT THIS? Well, of course I do. If I can prove that even a hack like me can make a few dollars off of a book, then anyone can. But that doesn’t bode well for the industry I so often bash for having no originality or quality control. “Hey, look at me. I’m a complete and utter jackass and made money at writing.” If that works, I need to improve. I need to do more. I will be forced to stay on top of a little itty bitty experiment I tried to so if I could replicate the success of being a cheap ass, lazy shirt designer. If I can’t keep up with that and the time spent just to manufacturer a small amount of revenue is counterproductive to me being able to hold down a full time job, shirt design business, and family, then I run the risk of failing somewhere else, if I haven’t already.

I will suffer from what most businesses suffer from in the world, inability to manage what works. Companies that do one thing well, can generate a good profitability when that’s all they have to focus on in the course of their day. When they start trying to take on more than they can handle, the quality of their core business erodes. Think back to the triangle. Quality vs. Money vs. Time. But in this case, it’s Quality vs. Offering vs. Money.

Do you want to increase your offering while maintaining quality? You will have to increase the amount of money you spend to manage those ideas.

If you want to expand your offering but cut back on costs, you will lose quality.

And if you want to maintain low overhead while maintaining the quality of your work, you need to focus on a core business and not worry about the white space.

So, in closing, I guess that while I figure out how to achieve what I want, I will need to prioritize that list of three items and figure out where I need to focus my attention. Hopefully, I can manage to figure it all out before the ebook industry tanks like when I tried to push Mongo out onto MySpace and it all went pffft.

OK, I’ve babbled on long enough and I didn’t even earn a cent for all that. You’re welcome… I guess.

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