‪#‎holdontothelight‬‪

holdontothelight

 

I write this on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. I remember that morning all too well. I was supposed to be on site, but had a short week to volunteer for an event that weekend, so I had stayed home. I had a small TV in my office in the house, that I rarely turned on.

I’d scheduled myself a pretty light week, and flipped on the news for background noise a couple of minutes before 9 AM that morning, and the first cameras were reaching the Trade Towers. I sent messages to a few people in the office as we serviced several companies in the area around the towers, and activated some of our internal business continuity processes.

Like so many people, I was locked on the news, and saw the second plane hit. At first, I thought someone had found footage of the first crash, but no. It was the second hit, live.

I’d lived in Charlotte for less than a year at that time, but being a financial center, business around town began evacuating downtown except for critical personnel. It didn’t affect me as I didn’t work except out of my house when I moved here, as I was on the road most of the time, but it was all over the local news.

Before long, we had cleared out most of our offices as soon as we realized the United States was under attack. People were traumatized.

As I reflect on that day, and every day since, I look at where we are. We are still a nation existing in fear. We are in a fifteen year old global war with no end in sight. We entrust huge bureaucracies to keep us “safe” by treating every single one of us as a criminal.

And that’s before we get to our own personal lives.

I have had many friends in military service come back from their second, third, fourth deployments or more. So many of them show the signs of stress, of PTSD.

I then look at the people I know who have never been deployed. The friends I have going through the stresses of life – Illness, divorce, unemployment, trauma and so much more. I’ve had my issues with depression. With stress. With no longer giving a damn. I’ve always been able to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Unfortunately I have enough friends that can’t get that far. Friends for whom the burden holds them down. Or in some cases pushes them to a permanent solution. I just work every day to make sure I don’t let myself go down that path.

I think all of this has built to lead us to where we are now. We are a wounded and traumatized nation. We have had economic upheaval, riots in the streets, extreme fear and mistrust of our political and law enforcement institutions, and we barely trust our neighbor any more. We have emptied our packs of the tools that helped us thrive to load them with the burdens and stresses of the world.

It is no wonder so many of us live on the edge of paralysis.

I write all of this not to push you over the edge, but to say it’s time to get your shit together. Me too.

It’s easy to say, but hard as hell to do.

It can be easy to live in our pain, to revel in it, cherish it, and nurture it. When you do, you are building a time bomb that will take you with it when it goes off.  You’re feeding that inner demon a buffet. It may be fast, or it could be slow, but either way it’s destructive. Nothing good can come of it. And at some point, even your closest loved ones either run away to protect themselves, or get sucked in and go down with you. I sometimes wonder if we nationally aren’t bathing in our collective pain.

It’s time for us to all own up to our problems, and work on them. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you. You are made up of all of your experiences – good and bad, ecstasy and trauma. Just like me, and everyone else.  Learning to deal with your problems and accept your traumas in life take time. It takes having help.

Sometimes it’s a beer and wings. Sometimes that help comes in the form of calling a friend at 2 AM, and talking your problems through. Sometimes it comes in the form of a therapist or other professional.

Life won’t always be easy. Sometimes it down right sucks. Just don’t try to do it alone.

The other morning, I was having a hell of a time getting motivated, and something popped up in my Facebook feed.

 

These mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb. – Najwa Zebian

 

Since the first time I ever saw this, it seems to appear as a mantra for me when I need it. For me, it reminds me to drop all of the bullshit that weighs me down, and there’s plenty I carry with me every day. And as long as you put one foot in front of the other going upwards, you’re getting closer to the top.

I believe we all have a possible point of greatness, which few of us will ever fully realize. I also don’t believe there is an apex, just peaks we can reach to discover there is a taller mountain next. Like a mountain climber, you never can succeed alone. There are always sherpas (mentors) to guide you along parts of the path and help carry the burden. You travel with other climbers who can pick you up when you slip, and you do the same for them.

We have to help ourselves first to help those around us.

I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m up for the journey, and there’s still an occasional hurricane even when you’re just hanging out on the beach. Grab a surfboard, ride the storm surge, and have your lifeguards for the times you wipe out. And be ready, when you have a friend in need.

More contributors can be found by following ##‎holdontothelight‬‪ and through:

DisquietingVisions.com

MagicalWords.net

AscendantKingdoms.com.

-Jim

Resources:

 The National Center for PTSD

Anxiety and Depression Society of America

 

#HoldOntoTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOntoTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

 

Headed to DragonCon 2016, and a FREE Story!

We’re headed to DragonCon, and to celebrate geekdom and Labor Day, if you use DCon2016, you can get Gnomebody’s Business for Free at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/downloads/gnomebodys-business/

But there’s more! If you use the same code DCon2016, you get 25% off ALL titles at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/authors/ from James P. McDonald and Calandra Usher!

Offer good through September 18, 2016!

 

UPDATE!

Made it home from Dragoncon to find out a ghost in the machine had fun with the giveaway! So now, you can use code DCon2016 to get Gnomebody’s Business AND Home Summonings # 1 Bound and Hagged for FREE until 9/18, and 25% off everything else with the code Dcon25!

See you next year, if not sooner!

Dive right in, the water’s….

I’m not the biggest fan of the Olympics. I’m not against the idea or the ideals, I’m just not all that interested in spending 24 hours a day for two weeks glued to mass media to watch athletic events I’d never watch otherwise. So far, I’ve seen a couple of hours worth, but mostly that was sitting at the bar to grab dinner while on the road.

 

And is want to happen, I started thinking even before the debacle in Rio started about how this really represents the current status of the planet and society.

 

Here’s a few highlights. The divers plunging into a swimming pool where the water was so green that Kermit the Frog could get lost in it. Kayakers ran into a couch. Distance swimmers being told they had a 99.9% chance of catching something nasty in the open waters. Body parts being found all around events. I think they could add the lumberjack events because the waters are thick enough to walk across.

 

You’d think this was Newark in the 1980’s.

 

But no, this is 2016 and Rio. Zika virus, the Olympic Village walls leaking like a horror flick, and the mayor rewarding the Australian’s complaints by suggesting a kangaroo might make them feel more at home. On the plus side, they did give every competitor 42 condoms. Not sure if that’s an answer to the universe, or just getting them ready for a big bang.

 

But I digress.

 

Why would I say this is an excellent microcosm? The world has brought their top performers at the peak of their game to represent their countries. Then they asked them to compete in what should be a showcase of pride and excellence, but thrown in the deep end of a cesspool wrapped in pomp, circumstance, and media. Instead of lifting up one of the growing markets of the world, they spent billions to still not create a safe and welcoming place for the world to visit. And in short order, I expect the temporary buildings will be reabsorbed into the muck and mire of Rio.

 

Rio is a beautiful city, with a vibrant people and rich culture. It’s government leaves a lot to be desired.

 

The IoC has proven itself to be corrupt and self serving. Now it’s on display for the world. I would not call for the Olympics to be disbanded because I believe it does create an environment every four years where countries and national pride can shine. People get to learn that it’s just people everywhere. Even in 1936, the Nazi’s awarded Jesse Owens trees in recognition for his accomplishments, along with every other gold medal winner that year.

 

I believe that there should be permanent sites for the olympics, built and maintained for competition. Different nations could host and put their culture on display, but not bankrupt them to have to build the extravaganza. And the IoC might be able to be cleaned up a little.

 

Beyond that, the competitors who have made their way to Brazil have proven something most of all. No matter the adversities, corruption, and adversities thrown their way, top performers will always work to excel.

Arrgghhhh, Pirates on the horizon

Here’s another drafted segment from the upcoming (and yet unnamed) Business 101 for Writers.

 

As you move forward in your career and get your work out there, you’re more likely to find your work borrowed, plagiarized, stolen, or outright pirated.
Arrrgghhh.
With the exception of a few Luddites and saints out there, we’ve all done it, whether it was copying a song off of a friend’s CD, ripping a movie from a torrent, or downloading a book. And I hate to be the messenger, but you stole it from the creator(s) and owner(s) when you did.
Now that you too are a creator of content, it can happen to you too. Once it happens, you need to carefully consider how you react.
If you are friends with or at least follow any number of writers and artists online, you may have already seen someone who’s not only had the problem, but has aired it out on their blog and all over social media.
In 2012 when I’d just started seriously writing again, a friend of mine who is a non-fiction writer posted a small rant about having found a book being torrented on a file sharing site. Then the second post hit. And the third. After a couple of weeks with at least one post a day, detailing what was a virtual seek and destroy mission, even tracking down some of the people who’d done the downloads and hitting them with an invoice.
Seeing this, I reached out to him and we had an informal chat to try and talk him off the cliff. As I dug in, it turned out it hadn’t been going on for weeks, but over two months.
I told him that as a friend and a writer, it it painful and feels like a violation. I then told him that if he was my client, he was being an idiot. For the record, it didn’t go over well.
After he calmed down and called me back, he told me that there had been over ten thousand downloads, and his percentage he wasn’t getting was nearly $30,000. His advance had been based on 5000 copies, and that still hadn’t earned out.
At that time, I made the following observations and I still think all of them hold true;
He had not written a word not aimed at the problem in over two months and was behind on deadlines.
His public reaction on social media had gone from where he had some sympathy to one where even his friends and family were tired about hearing about it, and he’d lost some followers of his work.
He had by far done more than required to protect his copyright, and had spent a couple of thousand dollars with his attorney in cease and desist letters.
And most of all, he hadn’t provably lost a dime.

I sense a number of you out there tensing up on my last statement. My argument is this. Having been in, around, and worked in technology for over thirty years, and raised in small business, theft is a cost of doing business. I’m not saying it’s right, but locks only keep out the honest and the lazy.

Having gone on this long rant has taken away sympathy for the problem, and makes you sound whiny and bitter. That doesn’t do much to keep customers and readers, much less attract new ones.
And knowing enough people that regularly torrent movies, music and books, I have a few observations:
A large percentage of material ripped from the Internet through file sharing is never seen, heard or read.
Of those who do consume the material, the ones who enjoy what they find usually also buy the movie or the book, or at least subsequent work.
Those who aren’t going to pay for it, never were anyway, and can always find something other than your stuff to rip.
Print media is not immune. Technology today makes it easier and faster than ever to scan and publish printed work.

Again, I’m not endorsing or condoning it, I’m just being a realist. And it may be a shock to you that it may not entirely be a bad thing when this happens to you. Just think, someone thought enough of your material to put it out there in the first place.

Now that we are all aware that some people in this world do not always act legally and ethically, here are some ways to take advantage of the systems and processes that allow for pirating of work.

Make sure all of your work includes links to your website, social media accounts, mailing list, podcasts, and anything else you can market.
Solicit reviews in your work. If they are going to steal it, at the minimum they can leave  you a review.
Use torrenting and other sites to circulate short stories and other mediums to attract followers and drive traffic to you.
Use the same sites to circulate promotional materials and solicit speaking engagements. Use it for free advertising.
Use them to circulate short videos and podcasts publicizing your work.
Circulate samples of work. I may, one time, have released a copy of a book where it cut off in a pivotal scene, and then had links where you could buy the full copy.

At the end of it all, you do have to protect your rights, and your property. In this case it’s your work, and your art.  At the same time, you can’t expend so much energy in the process, that you do nothing else. Creators must create. South Park may have given one of the best examples in the episode, “Christian Rock Hard.” One side was rampantly successful in spite of itself, and the other side refused to create in fear of theft and streaming.
But the good news is, if you don’t produce anything, there’s nothing to lose. And no way to gain either.
Arrgghhh, me maties.

#NoVacancy but still a lot of fun

Somewhere not too long ago, I linked in through ye olde book of the faceless to the Charlotte Storytellers group, and it looked like thy put on a lot of fun stuff, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to make an event until last night.

Here’s the description, just for reference:

NoVacancy is a summer-long installation featuring art, music, dance and theater performances organized by the talented Taproot Ensemble.

Furniture maker Jeffrey Barninger (of Union Shop Studio) has built a “motel” inside C3 Lab, and local artists have filled each room with items and art.

Each week, a new performance will activate the space in a new way. On Friday, June 17 th , Charlotte Storytellers will lead an interactive workshop that investigates how a physical space can inspire ideas, memories and stories. We will do exercises, play games and share fictional and personal narratives, for an interactive storytelling experience.

I’ll admit, I might have been sold just because it said beer included.

I won’t give too much away, but I can say it was a fun improvisational and immersive experience!

My one shot of the evening…

IMG_1503Imagine if you will… checking into the old roadside motel from the 60’s…

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to the Jeff for the fantastic environment, C3 labs for hosting, and most of all to the group of people from Charlotte Storytellers!

They have a podcast too – look for http://www.charlottestorytellers.com/!

#NoVacancy

 

 

 

The hard truth of the financials for authors…

 

Once again, the cycle has come around, and it’s come in full force.  It’s about supporting your favorite authors, buying their stuff, and not stealing it.

First, let me say, I believe the vast majority of people are good and well intentioned. It only takes a very few people to convince you though, the world needs a good cleansing zombie apocalypse.

I did X-Con at myrtle beach a couple of weeks back, and had a table talking about my books, and even selling a few. A girl in her late twenties walked over to the table and asked for one of the scattered candy bars on my table, and I told her to help herself. She did.

She wanted to know about the books, and we talked for about fifteen minutes, in which time she ate every one of the candy bars on my table (about 10) and then no so politely told me I needed to give her a free book because she couldn’t afford it. Not even the eBooks, but a paperback. I politely declined, she told me to “fuck off then” and left the pile of candy bar wrappers on my table.

I tossed the wrappers, had a small internal meltdown, wrote a few notes about how this self-entitled whiny bitch is going to wind up dying in a future book, and moved on. Never piss off a writer with a twisted sense of humor, miss going to die by starving to death while being dipped into a vat of molten chocolate, allowing it to harden, and watching you starve to death while ants eat the chocolate away. #RantOver #SanitizedVersion

At the same time, a very lovely young lady came to my table several times, a fellow writer, and we talked a lot through the weekend. She bought my eBook, and I gave her a print copy so she’d have a signed one.

I’m mostly a business and tech guy, and I’m using my knowledge and experience to write a 101 type guide about the business of being an author or artist. And yes, writers are a type of artists, but with key differences in the business models. I’m pulling a piece of that (draft) out to post here, because I think it’s relevant.

We now live in a world of open source, and where so many people think everything should be free, especially digital content. At a convention a while back, I had someone argue about why I was charging for books. Especially eBooks, because they don’t cost anything.

So let’s break down the numbers:

 

First, let’s assume I’m a traditionally published author.

My percentage of sales will be 7 – 15%. Let’s assume a blended rate of $4.99 a book between eBooks and print (Low by today’s trade pub standards, but roll with me over the life of the book). Based on this, the author will make .35 to .75 a book. I’m feeling optimistic, so let’s take $.75 a book.

An average novel is @ 80,000 words. We won’t talk about my last 2 novels in the 105k range. What does it take to crank out that 80,000 words?

A productive average is 1000 words an hour to draft, so that’s 80 hours.

But wait, that’s once you have an idea, research, have fleshed it out, and have a plan, pitched and sold. 80 hours. (And that’s fiction)

Depending on your style and productivity, editing, rewrites, and the stuff that just didn’t work? I’ve seen people estimate as little as another 30-50 of the original draft, but for a commercially published work, it’s easily equal to four or 5 times the original first draft for the author to review edits, do rewrites, proofreads, punctuation, and everything that goes along with the rest. Not to mention the editors from the publishing house side. Let’s split the difference, and call it 300 hours.

Arguing with editors, agents, cover artists, and other administrative crap? 40 hours.

So doing a little math, that’s 500 hours. Based on 40 hour weeks, that’s 12.5 weeks, so let’s cut it to three months of working time, for 80,000 words.

Based on the proposed move to go to $15 an hour, and hopefully you think creative work is worth at least that, you have to sell… hmmmm carry the one, it’s $7,500, and at .75 a copy, you need to sell 10,000 books. High producers sell 50 – 100 a week, so let’s use the 100 a week, and so that’s 2 years of sales.

Not to mention all the hours of marketing, social media, and cultivating your fan base that aren’t in there.

But wait, there’s more!

Let’s say you’re doing a self-published work.

Our productive average is 1000 words an hour to draft, so we’ll still go with 80 hours.

But wait, that’s once you have an idea, research, have fleshed it out, and have a plan, pitched and sold. 80 hours. Stuff those other people would help you with, you’re on the hook for.

Now you’re also entirely on the hook for editing, rewrites, etc., and I’m going to make the assumption you hire someone to edit, so you’re still at the same 300 hours.

Arguing with editors, cover artists, and other administrative crap? 100 hours. Why? You’re now doing it all.

So doing a little math, that’s 560 hours. Based on 40 hour weeks, that’s 14 weeks, for 80,000 words.

Plus you have to pay for cover art – $100 – $250 (minimum)

Editing ($250 – $1,500) depending on the types of editing and level of polish you want to put on it. Or you have to put in the hours. Either way, you’re spending the time and money.

I’m going to use an even $1,000 to produce the work (on the low end of what you should budget)

Here’s the good news. Depending on how you structure yourself, Amazon is going to give you 35% – 70% of your sales. The down side, you probably are maxing out at $4.99, but we’ll stick with it for equivalency. That’s $1.75 to $3.50 a book. We’re rolling in the cash now!

You’ve laid out $1000 up front. So you need to sell 286 books to pay for that.

To sell those, you’re looking at advertising, and getting reviews, another $1000. Another 286 books.

So just to cover my outlay, I need to sell 582 books.

Show me the money!

At $3.50 a book to get minimum wage for my 560 hours, I need to sell another 2400 books! So let’s round up to 3,000 books!

High producing self-pubbed average 5-50 sales a week. Let’s say you are rocking it and doing 50 a week. That means I only need 60 weeks… at the same high pace to make my $15 an hour. Oh wait, now I don’t have a publisher, or anyone else to help promote me. And most self pubbed would be happy at 5 a week after a couple of weeks. And most books are $2.99. You’re looking at 3-4 years, unless you push really hard, and get a little lucky.

And let’s talk other opportunity costs. I work a full time gig. Much of my life, it’s been 60, 70 , 80 hours a week. I do all of this at lunch, and night when everyone else is asleep. Weekends. I’m behind on TV and movies. Most of what I read is research or doing stuff for fellow authors and friends.

So yeah, oh little miss self-important snowflake who is willing to drop $5 on a latte and come over and lecture me why you can’t spend a couple of bucks for a eBook, and tell me it doesn’t cost anything?

This one went a little long. I’ll save my piracy rant for next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My ConCarolinas 2016 Recap

ConCarolinas 2016, June 3-6 was a fantastic time this year! It was my first time as a guest there, and as I live in Charlotte, I can consider it a home con. I got to hang out and play some with local friends, got to meet face to face a lot more I’d known mostly online, and even got to meet a few fans and sell a few books.

But mostly, I ran my mouth. A lot. I was fortunate enough to be both on the Science/Tech track and the Writer’s track.

Here was my schedule:

June 3 (Friday)
3:00 PM Crowdfunding your book
7:00 PM Tools of the trade: What every writer should have on their desk
8:30 PM How will the future be different from today
June 4 (Saturday)
9:00 AM eCommerce and the Artist Moderator
10:00 AM Women in Science in Tech (I know!)
11:30 AM Science Fiction to Science Fact Moderator
4:00 PM Extrapolating the Future Moderator
6:00 PM The business of marketing your writing
7:00 PM The future of robotics
8:30 PM Viruses, Hackers and Malware, Oh My
June 5 (Sunday)
11:00 AM Intersection of Faith and Science
2:00 PM The Singularity: When will we get there?

 

And there were a few other panels I was on I had to drop because I couldn’t be in two places at once. And I got to be the closer for the Broads Universe Rapid Fire Reading. And if I listed everyone I was on panels with, this post would be a couple of thousand words, and that’s just the people!

It’s been a long time since I talked this much, outside of the day gig running tech projects. And if it had been up to me at the time, I’d have probably added a few more. That said, there were a few of these discussions that were really important.

First, I’m going with Women in Tech. I was honored as the lone guy on the panel, with EJ the Enginerd, Erin Penn, and Jeanine Spendlove. We had a lot of people in the room, and if there was a down side, it was we had to shout over the band in the next room. Jeanine questioned why she was there, and I couldn’t believe the question. She’s a distinguished pilot and commander in the Air Force, and has broken more glass ceilings than kids playing Minecraft. We talked about the fact, you have to work to blend in, all the while working to break out and excel. We also talked about at the times when you want to give up the fight, and make a change. The big takeaway I’d like to share, and this is my own philosophy, Be mercenary. If you work for someone else, you’re selling them your time and your skills for a paycheck. If you don’t like it, or aren’t comfortable, there’s always someone and somewhere else than can appreciate you more. But don’t quit, just choose your battles wisely.

Secondly was a fun panel on the Intersection of Faith and Science. The good news was we’d been moved and didn’t have to shout over the bands any more. The down side was no one knew where to find us, and we lost part of the audience. I got to do this one with DL Leonine, Sherman Burris, and Gray Reinhardt. Always the heretical one, it was a great balanced conversation about religion, faith, and seeing God in the mechanisms of the universe.

And finally, one I wasn’t on, but I was able to sit in and listen. Writers and Mental Illness. In the last year, there’s more than a few in our community that have lost the battle. Hosted by John Hartness, with Tamsin Silver, Melissa Gilbert and Dr. Darin Kennedy, it was supposed to go from 10 – 10:50. Barely anyone left by the time we called it a wrap at 11:15, and we could have probably kept going for much longer. It was one of the biggest crowds for a panel all weekend, and even after it was over, there was a lot of standing around afterwards. And several people have started groups in the last week to make sure everyone has someone to reach out to.

If you weren’t there, you missed a lot. And thanks to everyone in the Tribe.

Con Carolinas and Cover Reveal

Hello all!

I’m back from meeting a ton of people at xConWorld in Myrtle beach, and am taking my time this weekend to prepare for Con Carolinas!

If you’re in Charlotte, or want to come on by, my speaking schedule is getting full for the weekend.

Now to the good stuff!

The big cover reveal for Book 3 of the Home Summonings series. Unbound and Determined:

unbound_cover_frontGreyson Forrester, born and raised to be a powerful wizard, has survived his trial but left with bigger mysteries behind it all than before. Discovering the trial was just the first battle in a much longer war and the veils between the realms nearly impenetrable, Grey’s lost everything and is again on the run, trying to keep a tenuous hold on life and discover if his restored powers are a gift or a curse.
Lost, injured, and alone, someone makes the offer he can’t refuse. To save the two women he loves, and amend for the trail of destruction in his wake, all he has to do is one little job.
One thing is certain.
The ferryman’s price is a lot more expensive on the return trip from the land of the dead.

Are you interested in a review copy? Blog post? Me just running my mouth in general?  e-mail me at jim@jim-mcdonald.net.

 

The business of creativity

I’ll get it out of my system soon enough, but I’m working on a project around the business of creativity, and I decided to share a few of my thoughts. Most of this is tailored towards writing and writers, but it applies to most creative endeavors.

I know a lot of creative people. A lot.

The first thing I want to say, don’t become a writer to become rich and famous. In fact, if that’s your plan, run far, run fast, and get a job doing almost anything.

If you’re going to create, create for yourself. Not your audience. And know it’s a painful process to create.

As soon as you put yourself out to the world, you are going to have haters, detractors, and critics. And that’s just in your friends and family. Wait until you meet the internet trolls. If you’re going to be public and creative, you’d better put on your armor and start growing thicker skin.

Not to mention agents, publishers, editors, and everyone else in the industry.

Get used to rejection.

Still reading?

Good.

Now comes what may be the hardest part. Creating not only for fun, but (hopefully) profit.

I’m going to write in more detail about these pieces, but here’s the first thing that’s hardest to get over. That piece of work you poured your heart and soul into, and ultimately bled into existence?

It’s a product, a commodity. Nothing more. Just like Coke or airlines. And your customers have a large number of choices, and you want to thank them every time they take a trip through your work.

Did I just call your baby out, and say it’s nothing special among the herd?

Yep. I’m an asshole.

The truth is, it is special. It’s borne of all that you are, and the level of work you put into it. Just like all of your competitors. If you intend to sell your work and be a commercial enterprise, you are a business. Just like the quickie mart.

And you want to be able to tell your customers, “Thank you, come again.”

I might have been watching a little too much of the Simpsons.

But hey, almost everyone knows that tagline, and heard Apu’s voice when they read that. And The Simpson’s has been a huge commercial success.

One that Matt Groenig came up with at the last minute and pitched because he didn’t want to hand over control of his baby rabbits. (See if you remember his original strip.)

So now that I’ve been a heartless bastard, here’s what you need to think about when you start down this path:

  • Am I ready to have my work praised and criticized?
  • Am I ready to be a business, keeping track of sales, expenses, and do taxes?
  • Am I ready to invest the time and money it’ll take to run my business?

If the answer is yes to these, then get ready for even more questions. Not today, but soon.

And don’t give up. No matter what, create for yourself, and the only one that has to be happy with your work, is you.

And your publisher.

And your audience.

And while you ask yourself what you have gotten into, be ready to use that experience in your art.

Stop binge watching TV and go create!