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!

Call me to swap blog posts

Yeah, there’s a point to this one. You just have to get past the rant.

For anyone that knows me, has met me, or simply asked directions, I’m willing to talk about pretty much anything and everything. I’ve been told upon occasion, I can even be entertaining, or at least a warning to young children about what happens if they grow up to be like me.

(Do your homework kids.)

At one point, I was in the media, and I have occasionally still contributed to a variety of publications, mostly on technology, project management, or professional development. Other times, I’ll do a little something about writing and fiction.

If you want my opinion on Cthulhu for President, I’ll probably have one. And be more than willing to share it. (For the moment, I’m waiting to see what an elder god’s opinion is on concealed carry and NC HB2.)

In short, if someone wants a blog post, article or interview, I’m pretty good about doing them as long as I see your e-mail. And you can put up with a smart ass.

Names from here on out have been changed to protect the guilty, but I’ve had a couple of people hit me up recently for contributions, but with a twist. They want me to pay them for the privilege of being interviewed.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue charging for services, and if everyone agrees, it’s like anything else. I’ve spent most of my career consulting. I understand charging by the hour, and both charging any paying for services.

The first person tried to explain how they charged to help defray their website costs. That makes sense, except they also ran a lot of advertising and affiliate programs. Again, I don’t have a problem with that, but I politely declined based on the numbers. If they have the volume they proclaim, then the “nominal fee” shouldn’t be a factor in running the site. If, based on what I saw, they need my nominal fee for operating costs, they don’t have enough volume to be of any benefit.

And oh yeah, don’t ask me to write a professional piece based on my own developed materials for you to run on your site, and then give me a contract taking ownership of my IP.

And the second case, I had someone talk to me, they enjoyed some work I’d done, etc., and came to me for a blog post. Nothing big. Happy to do it.

The response was “Great, when can you deliver it.” And attached to the questionnaire was an invoice for $100 for marketing services, and a rate sheet for other services.

Uh huh.

Needless to say, I again almost politely declined. Polite mostly because it was in writing.

Again, I have no problems charging for services. I do it myself. If I am working with someone, depending on what it is, if you want a significant amount of my time and expertise, yeah, I’m going to charge you. It may be a beer, or real hourly rates, depending on how much I like you. But I’m up front about it.

Back door sales stuff pisses me off. Almost as much as the guy that sat in the driveway last week honking his horn for me to come out for him to do a sales pitch. Yeah, it was too much work to get out of his truck until I put the conference call I was in the middle of on hold to find out what jackass was setting off the dogs.

He didn’t get the business either.

Among the creative community, we have all been asked to do something for the “exposure.” I’ve even swapped it off. And yeah, I’ve done free work as a contribution. And I’ll do it in the future.

Out of choice.

So why am I writing this little rant?

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a musician, a magician doing kids parties, YOUR TIME AND SKILLS ARE VALUABLE. Spend them wisely. Time is not an infinite resource. Make educated decisions. Treat your endeavors like a business.

Even if you’re only engaged in your creative work part time and aren’t making a living at it, YOUR TIME AND SKILLS ARE VALUABLE. And so are the time and skills of everyone else.

I have a lot of fun doing posts, and contributing to other people’s sites. I’m always happy to boost the message for people who are getting work out the door. My door is always open for someone who wants or needs help, even if it’s just an encouraging word or feedback.

And I’m willing to pay for valuable services when I need to, because I know time and skills are valuable. But if you’re asking a creative type for time or money in a way that benefits you, ask yourself how it benefits them too. That couple of hours it may take someone two write some copy for you, the Photoshop and graphics work for your event, whatever it is you need and are asking for. Remember, that’s time the other person isn’t spending working on their own stuff, or binging on Netflix. Be thankful and respectful of what others do, and remember.

Exposure isn’t remuneration. I’m not saying don’t do free work. Just think about it like loaning $20 to a friend. Don’t plan on getting it back, but if it pays off, it’s a bonus. Do it because you want to. Not because of guilt, or some nebulous perceived payoff.

And yeah, I’d love to swap blog posts.

#HB2 #WeAreNotThis

I’m editing… or should be

Book 3 in the Home  Summonings series is coming soon! Unbound and Determined.

In the interim, I’m working on a few other items, mostly editing.

Seeing as how I’m apparently one of three people on the planet not getting to Civil War this weekend, I decided to throw on a different property in the background for noise while I was editing.

Tonight’s lucky winner, the flaming pile of a mess that is the latest failed attempt at Fantastic 4. If anything, it succeeded at being the worst superhero film I’ve seen since the 80’s.

But as it got to the finale, I noticed something.

Victor Von Doom now looks like a tronified version of Darth Vader. He built a giant tripod and lit up a wormhole beneath it like an overgrown Bunsen burner. That’s finally when I started laughing.

An alternate universe of this version of the Fab 4 is responsible for Tolkien’s universe.

  • Dr. Doom founded his own world, and ultimately named his landing place Mount Doom.
  • The eye of Sauron? The wormhole, after it sucked the earth through.
  • The shire, and hobbits? Earth and people compressed as they are sucked through said wormhole.
  • And orcs? Something had to happen with DC as it was sucked through.

Back to #amediting!