Thoughts & Sayings (April 2013)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in March. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. I aim to confuse so you don’t have to.

confusion

2. A smile is what happens when something inside comes out.

smile

3. Exercising your mind is better than food for thought.

thought

4. When brilliance strikes, fight back.

brilliance

Twisted Words

5. Cleaning windows is such a pane, but I want them to look smashing.

window

6. I’m always getting into travel on the road.

travel

In Its Own Write

7. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote fill-in-the-blank stories we could buy and turn into our own books?

books

8. Twice upon a time, there was a story and a knock-off.

knockoff

Holidays & Events

9. I filled out my brackets for March Madness. The Vatican Conclave is my top seed with the North Korea Nukes as potential spoiler. The Venezuela Chavistas should go far with Nicolas Maduro at center while the Washington Sequesters could bow out early.

madness

10. I’m happy to be Irish for a pot of gold. Okay then, how about a pint?

irish

11. Ides don’t know what Ides gonna do on March 15.

caesar

12. Happy International Women’s Day! Enjoy your day off.

women

13. Happy Sequester Day. Where are you hiding?

sequester

Random Musings

14. Wouldn’t it be nice if advertisements featured what we wanted to buy rather than something to be sold?

15. I’m like an onion. Peel away some layers and I’ll make you cry.

onion

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

clip_image0044M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant, two books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Use Your Wikipedia Donation to Support Indie Authors


writers indigo ribbonOnline encyclopedia Wikipedia has begun its annual pitch for donations to continue operating as an independent, non-profit information resource. Founder Jimmy Wales will once again ask those who visit the website to donate “to protect and sustain Wikipedia.” This year, I encourage you to put this donation to a better use. Please use the money to buy books published by independent (indie) authors.

Wikipedia is biased against indie authors it considers “non-notable” unless their works are cited by “credible” sources. In general, it prefers traditional media and does not recognize citations from social media sites, blogs, writers’ networks, self-publishing websites, or indie awards. Unless you are noted by select information resources, you’re out of luck receiving recognition from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia also strongly discourages autobiographies. It prefers second- and third-hand sources, which it considers more accurate and objective than first-hand accounts, even though such sources may be biased. Whether the biographer has an ulterior motive or a conflict of interest is irrelevant. Wikipedia assumes that its system to evaluate biases in its articles is sufficient, although its view on autobiographies suggests that it is not robust enough to root out misstatements, factual errors, or embellishments regardless of source.

If you are an author with a publicist who writes an article about you linked to a source Wikipedia that considers credible, then welcome to the club. If you’re a successful self-published indie author with an independent network, you’re out of luck. You and your books are not eligible to be included in Wikipedia. Don’t ask your friend to post your biography for you. Anonymous monitors who evaluate articles according to the site’s self-determined criteria will delete you.

Most self-published authors do not qualify for Wikipedia profiles. This does a disservice to the many hard-working, established writers who have chosen to self-publish. The rapidly expanding self-publishing industry operates differently than traditional publishing, and indie authors are more apt to promote each other through social media, writers’ circles, and independent networks than to wait for recognition from traditional media. Wikipedia’s rules are better suited to the pre-Internet and pre-social media eras. Rather than adapting to changes in the publishing industry, it simply chooses to exclude most indie authors.

This year, please support independent authors. The money saved from not donating to Wikipedia will buy some great books and recognize outstanding authors.

Here are three independent author communities with thousands of books to choose from:

Independent Author Network

Independent Author Index

World Literary Café

Thank you for your support.

books

The opinions expressed in this article represents solely the views of the author. Encyclopedia image courtesy of Microsoft; the indigo ribbon is public domain.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

Financial Indie: Financing Your Writing Career


Note: “Financial Indie” is a series of articles designed to help writers finance their careers. If you have an investment question, please post it, and I’ll try to incorporate it into a future article.

Financial Indie 1I cheered when I saw my Apple (AAPL) stock jump nine percent on April 25 after another great quarter, earning, perhaps, a better return in one night than I will from a year’s worth of effort to sell books. It made me wonder why so many writers chase book sales to earn a living when so few are successful, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in an article about the self-publishing industry. While writing is an admirable calling, the economics of the publishing industry suggest that most writers need alternate sources of income to support themselves financially, at least at the outset of their careers.

After I started writing full time, I found no lack of information on how to write and publish books but few resources on how writers, particularly those with limited budgets, could finance their projects and supplement their income. Most articles I’ve read dealing with the financial aspect of writing focused on how to save money or publish on a tight budget. A few suggested doing freelancing and editing jobs. Those are viable ways for would-be authors to make money, but they can also be time consuming. Every minute a writer spends working for someone else is one less minute spent on their own writing projects. There are other ways to earn extra income that take less time and offer a higher rate of return. Investing is one.

Self-publishing a book is not cheap. A writer may pay more than U.S.$1,000 to write, edit, and publish a book (excluding marketing expenses). It costs hundreds of dollars, if not more, to hire a professional editor to polish a manuscript and a designer to create a book cover. An e-book cover can cost as much as U.S.$100; a print version more than $200. The writer will need to purchase an ISBN from W.W. Bowker for each book medium and copyright it. Although Kindle Digital Publishing, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords publish and distribute e-books for free, publishers usually charge for premium services such as expanded distribution and print-on-demand. Marketing expenses vary. If a writer is good at using social media, they may pay nothing to advertise. Some pay thousands of dollars to hire professional marketers. Those looking to hire an agent and publish through a traditional publishing house should expect to spend money to pitch their book.

What this means is that writing costs money in the short term, and until you earn a respectable income from book sales, you’ll need a way to finance your efforts. For most, it means working full time and writing when you can, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By planning ahead and investing wisely, you can build a stable income that will support your writing and help you move away from depending on a paycheck toward becoming a financially-independent writer.

I’ve been investing for a long time. It took me years to build an investment portfolio that gave me the opportunity to leave my day job. It wasn’t an easy option waiting to launch my writing career, but my patience was rewarded last year when I took the plunge and left my job to write full time. It gives me piece of mind knowing that investments such as Apple will support me until I establish myself as an indie author.

If you don’t have an investment portfolio, you should. How do you get started? Should you buy shares of Apple at more than U.S.$600 a share and hope they reach U.S.$800? No. Chasing returns is a fool’s game. I don’t recommend chasing “hot” stocks, even one as mighty as Apple. You can purchase Apple by owning shares of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF) that limit your exposure to price swings.

Start by writing a personal investment plan. Determine your financial goals and set a timeline. How much do you want to earn, and how long will it take to achieve it? Look at your budget to see how much you can set aside to build your financial portfolio. Just as you would outline a novel before you write it, you need a plan before you invest.

Figure out how much you can save each month and write it down. Setting aside a small amount in the near term can go a long way to supplementing your income in the long run. Look at your cash flows and decide what discretionary spending you can eliminate – including from your writing budget — and how much you can save. If you stop buying what you don’t need, how much money will you have to grow?

See if you can set aside about U.S.$100 per month. In future articles, we’ll use this as a base to help you build your portfolio.

Click here to read the next article in the “Financial Indie” series.

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is founder of Brilliance Equity LLC, an investment firm.

Edwards is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. His collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Twitter as a Marketing Tool


I’ve been using Twitter for the past few months to connect with other writers, meet new acquaintances, and build a following for my writing. Some successful authors claim that their sales took off after they built a Twitter following, and I believe them. Based on my preliminary efforts, Twitter seems a more effective marketing tool than Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media sites. This, of course, could change over time, as the executives at MySpace can attest. Other social media sites have their own benefits. In my opinion, Facebook is a better forum than Twitter to connect with friends and family who may be the only ones supportive of your writing at the outset of your career.

My quest to figure out what works on Twitter has been one of trial and error learning how to use Twitter effectively. The result has been good, so far, with my number of followers increasing more than 300 percent in December 2011 and already up by a third one week into January 2012 (thank you, followers!). One ebook giveaway I tried received several responses; an offer to purchase my ebook at a discount did not net any new sales. I will continue to offer a mix of incentives to attract readers until I find a strategy that works.

I’m slowly getting the hang of Twitter. I’ve found that unless you want to buy followers, it simply takes time to build a following. Buying followers is ethically suspect and defeats the purpose of building lasting relationships. Simply put, tweeting, or sending messages (tweets), takes time.

When you tweet, it’s important to:

  1. Follow others. The best way to gain new followers is to follow others. Search “Who To Follow” to find others who tweet about your interests and follow them. Twitter will then suggest others you might want to follow. Many will follow you back. Unless you’re a celebrity, you’re probably going have to knock on doors first.
  2. Post relevant content. I like to post links to breaking news articles related to my interests. I like travel, politics, and self-publishing, so many of my tweets focus on these subjects.
  3. Have a brand. Focus on what’s important to you and tweet about it. Those interested in finding you will. If your brand is based on a popular character, such as a protagonist in a book or your pet, and you have the right to represent them, you can set up an account for them and tweet on their behalf.
  4. Be creative. Those who have something interesting to share or assume a creative persona on Twitter tend to do well. Some cats have larger followings than most humans.
  5. Public thank yous. Thank followers publicly for following you by tweeting it. I have a small following and still send individual “thank you” tweets to new followers with a personal note attached. Some with more followers write “thank you” and list new followers in a single tweet.
  6. Retweet. Repost newsworthy items posted by your followers. When they mention you to their followers, thank them publicly.
  7. Direct messages. Send private messages to followers in order to cultivate relationships. Be genuine and sincere, not patronizing. I don’t think it’s a good idea to send a spam ad to new followers as a message, although some do. Product placement is okay as long as what you’re offering is of interest to your followers.
  8. Tweet frequently. Tweet as often as you can. Since none of us can tweet 24 hours a day, use a site such as BufferApp to program tweets to post automatically while you’re away. Keep them relevant. I started posting humorous “Your Friendly Sleeptweeter” tweets while I’m away that play up the fact that I’m still tweeting while I’m sleeping. Here’s an example: “Greetings from your friendly sleeptweeter. I’m just passing through on my way to dreamland to greet you with a hearty zzz.”
  9. Sell, but don’t overdo it. It’s okay to advertise something you’re selling such as a book, but do it sparingly. I’ve read that a 20:1 ratio (one advertisement per 20 tweets) is a good ratio. The more you look like a pusher, the more you will turn off your followers.

Only time will tell if these efforts will pay off for me. They seem to be working so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether these efforts bear more fruit in the coming year.

Follow me on Twitter at @m_g_edwards. I’m happy to follow back.

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thrill and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex. For books and stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com.

Resolve to Make 2012 A Great Year


Happy New Year! How did you enjoy ringing in the new year? Did you wake up feeling great or with a literal or proverbial hangover? Now that the celebrating has subsided, are you ready for 2012?

This year may be a momentous one with some major milestones on the calendar, from the Chinese Year of the Dragon to the end of the Mayan calendar. Some dates are already set, such as the Expo in Yeosu, South Korea (May 12-August 12), the Summer Olympics in London (July 27-August 12), not to mention the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in August, and, barring a new framework agreement, the end of the Kyoto Protocol on December 31. Some major events this year are already known, while others are not. No one really knows what will happen in places such as North Korea, where newly-installed “supreme commander” Kim Jong Un takes over as leader; possible sanctions and threats to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; unrest in Syria and other protests sparked by the Arab Spring; the European financial crisis; protests in Russia; potential economic slowdown in China; general elections in the United States and in dozens of other countries worldwide. No one knows what will happen. On December 21, 2012, when the Mayans purportedly predicted the end of the world will occur, we’ll look back at the year 2012, analyze the fall out, and, hopefully, be around to tell about it on December 22. Until then, we can only speculate about the future.

There’s no reason to worry about 2012. We can only control what falls in our own sphere of influence, which for most people amounts to whatever affects us directly. What do you have planned for yourself this year? Have you considered making some life changes? I believe in making and achieving goals, and I consider New Year’s resolutions worthwhile. Realistic resolutions can help frame a goal and give you a specific objective to achieve. You may not achieve everything you set out to do in a given year, but if you achieve at least one resolution or make progress toward one, you’re better off than you were. I met half the resolutions I set for myself in 2011 and set some new targets to achieve in 2012. The ones I did not achieve will be carried over to this year. They range from publishing a new book to losing weight to strengthening my faith to learning the guitar. Some will be easier than others, but I resolve to tackle them all in the next 12 months.

Even if you’re not the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions, there’s one goal you can resolve to achieve this year. Make this year a better year than 2011. Make it the best it can be. It doesn’t matter if you had a good or bad year last year. Life can always be better. Resolve to make 2012 a great year.