It’s been an intense two weeks. It honestly feels more like a month has gone by in some respects. With the kids out of school and somewhat around most days it’s been a little harder focusing on freelance building and novel-writing than I had hoped. If a couple of months from now we can see a future from this direction I may need to look at a laptop for me so I can go to remote locations regularly. Right now I would need to take the one Heather uses. It would be OK for me to take it on occasion and test working elsewhere, but it wouldn’t be a permanent solution.
On the freelance writing front I’ve spent some time trying to refine my marketing efforts. The most important thing a freelance writer has to market themselves is their clips. (Examples of their work for others.) As someone new to freelance writing I don’t have clips. I have years of writing here on this website, and over 75 articles at OurAgileJourney.com. The problem here is two-fold. The stuff written here is mostly personal blogging. It’s audience is family, friends, and weird internet stalkers. (Yeah, you know I’m talking to you. It is weird. We have no connection. Either introduce yourself or stop. Your life will be better for it. 🙂 ) The stuff at the other site is written professionally, but it wasn’t on-spec/commissioned/written for hire stuff. I’m working a couple of angles to try and get clips to put up. I’m offering a discount on the first project for clients and am willing to talk to non-profits about doing pro-bono writing projects. I am attempting to find and target tech companies large enough to hire out writing services but small enough to not use a large national marketing firm. I’m also trying to start with relatively local companies in hopes of that angle helping my pitch.
The novel-writing apprenticeship has started and wow! The talent represented is intimidating. Many involved are full-time authors already, working to go from making a living to making a really good living. Some are branching into a new genre for the first time. Some are trying to improve the catalog in their current genre. I find myself wanting to soak up all the knowledge and creativity they have to offer and being a little timid about contributing. If I create and maintain connections with a handful of the people from this group over the course of the next 9 months it’ll be worth it. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure it’ll be close to impossible for any of us to not get at least novel #1 written in a 3-5 book series in the environment created by the group. I hope to have #’s 1 and 2 done with #3 either done or close by February. I also plan to turn around and start another series as we finish. I’ll be looking for Science Fiction fans later this year to do beta reading, so feel free to let me know and I’ll make sure you get invited to a mailing list. (Which I don’t have set up yet.)
That’s all for now. Next time I update the kids should be back in school. This two month summer break just flew by!
I thought it had been two weeks since my last update, but it’s been a month. Sorry about that for those that have been keeping up with them.
The last month has seen a big change. Heather and I have decided to let my job search fall into a passive mode while I attempt to build a career out of freelance writing and authoring novels. We will re-examine this decision after a few months to see if it still seems viable. If some nibbles come up I will pursue them, but I am not currently actively looking.
I have started to qualify and contact companies for freelance writing work. I plan to ramp up my volume on this one to contacting 25 companies a week and re-contacting them after 4 weeks. This is largely a numbers game. Of all the companies that I contact some percentage should be viable prospects looking to get some writing stuff done. As I build a client base I am offering a discounted rate for the first project. If you or anyone you know might have a need for a freelance writer I would love to hear from you or them.
On the novel front I have it out with some readers, and I need to spend some time this month following up looking for feedback. The next novel is outlined and I am ready to start blocking out scenes. There is something more to this one though. I have joined a group doing an apprenticeship on writing good genre fiction with some very successful authors. The idea is to find the intersection of what you love to write and what the market is buying and create a novel in that space. Over the course of the apprenticeship we will go from choosing a genre (no story idea required) to marketing and releasing the novel. This process is not one that I will use the middle grade fiction for. I think I am going to do Science Fiction for it and currently have a very general story arc for 3 books with a 4th kind of hinting at me. This was not an easy choice as there was not only a decent financial commitment, but there is a time and effort commitment as well. If all goes as planned with this there will be at least two of the novels out by this time next year. A downside is that this may slow down my hoped for progress on the middle grade fiction work. An upside is that I expect it to accelerate a fiction writing career dramatically for me, shaving a good 1-2 years off of what it would otherwise take to see a path to living off of that alone and providing a network of like-minded individuals that would otherwise take years to build.
That’s pretty much it for now. The next few months to a year will require hard work and dedication, but I think the end result will be worth it.
This week I managed to get the novel both entered into a local contest and out to some people who are going to do beta reading for me. It is being sent with a pen-name because some of the people have kids that would recognize my name and possibly skew their feedback. I have started on the next story arc and hope to be outlining by this time next week.
The job front continues to be quiet without much posted and very little action when things are.
On the freelance front I have a very basic site set up at adammyhr.com. Next week I’ll add some detail and start actively pursuing clients. With that in mind if you or anyone you know have any projects that include freelance writing or editing I’d love to talk. As an added bonus I’ll work out some great rates if you (or someone you know) contacts me in the next two weeks and mentions this post – even outside of the technology space.
Obviously I’ve fallen off the daily story bandwagon I started at the beginning of the month. Interestingly it happened as I finished the novel. I think somewhere in my mind the stories helped me with the novel, so as the novel entered edit/revision/feedback stage the stories became a chore. I’m trying to fix my perspective on that one and get back to daily stories while planning the next novel in the set. I’ve finished the initial edit of the novel and am going to contact people this week about being beta readers. I’m putting together a kind of guide sheet on what kind of feedback I’m looking for. It’s my first time ever trying to get beta readers for something so there is some research involved.
The job search is slowing as summer gets underway. I actually had a recruiter tell me the market is getting very slow and they hope to see it pick up as the summer progresses. In my experience recruiters tend to be eternally optimistic about placing candidates, so this isn’t the best news to hear.
With the job search being as stagnant as it is this week I am planning to get a freelance writer website up and running and start prospecting for clients. I’ve taken some professional development courses related to freelance writing and have a couple more lined up to take. I’ll post an update here once it’s live.
First, I’ve fallen behind on the daily short stories. I will write at least one today, and perhaps get a couple of extra’s done to make up for lost time. There is a reason though. I finished the first draft of the novel! Next week I will do an editing read-through. I hope it only takes a few dedicated hours. I guess the amount of story re-write I have to do will play into that. As part of that I will contact various people and ask them to beta read it for me. What that means is they’ll get an electronic copy of a minimally edited version. I can do word files for people who can’t help but edit as they read (Though that isn’t the type of feedback I’m really striving for). I can also do e-pub and mobi for those who can resist the copy-editing. I cannot do Apple Book formats as I have no Mac. I will ask these readers to provide feedback on the books flow, story, continuity (of characters, setting, story), reading level, and anything else they can think of. I would like to know what they think and why. Suggestions for improvement are welcome also. The book is a general fiction book. It is set in a small midwest town at about this time period. The target audience is juvenile/middle grade. (3-5th, the same reading level as Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for instance.) I would love to get a couple of kids from that age group to read it and do a sort of book report as well. If you are interested or have kids that fit the bill please contact me and we can discuss details.
In a bit of family news Cecilia is done with Soccer and Gideon is starting baseball, with Heather coaching. As we head into the last week of school what our summer will look like is still a little up in the air, but “on the bright side” we only need to figure out 2 months due to the strangely modified schedule our kids school has.
Over the last few years our Amazon Affiliate account shut down due to tax laws and moving. I looked into it this year as I started to investigate setting up an author account and discovered that due to newer laws the affiliate program is available in this state now. As such, links will start appearing in the posts. (I tend to limit to in-line text links with occasional relevant image links.) If you click through we get a small percentage of purchases made, even if it’s not what you clicked. If you update your Amazon bookmark to http://amzn.to/1RhStn6 then we’ll be defaulted to get the affiliate benefit for any time you visit. This doesn’t hurt you at all and it helps us out so please consider it. Let me know if you have any questions on how it would work.
The job search is hitting a bit of a summer slump. Fewer positions available and not many new ones popping up. To compensate next week, though it’s busy, I hope to step up the classes on freelancing I’m in progress on. If things there go extraordinarily well I’ll have multiple freelance clients in June and be making enough that we can seriously consider me building that instead of continuing to pursue other employment. Realistically, if I’m not working in June I hope to at least be bringing in something from freelancing to relieve financial pressure.
That’s all for today. I look forward to getting this early 1st draft of a 1st story out to some people and hearing feedback on how to improve it before seriously looking at publishing it.
Another week down. Another week I still am not bringing money in. The job hunt has continued to have small ups and mostly downs. I have finally gotten a little feedback beyond the simple “you were a great candidate but we went with someone else.” Mostly I’ve gotten feedback related to things completely outside of my control, internal referrals were brought forward, a candidate with specific industry experience was found, things like that. Some recent feedback was a little more useful and will feed into future interviews a little, but it’s minor in the grand scheme. Ultimately that position was re-cast anyhow. (How I was laid off to being with now that I think of it.)
As for creative/fiction writing, it looks like I’ve managed to (barely) make it half-way through the story a day challenge. That’s pretty cool. I’m pretty sure I only did 4 or 5 days last year. I’m still not quite done with the first draft of the novel, that’s not cool. It’s close though. Very close. The little progress bar in Scrivner is mostly green now, no more red. If I don’t finish the first draft this week then it’s 100% because I didn’t do the work. If I really work at it I should be able to finish by tomorrow night’s Castle Rock Writer’s meeting, which was the secondary goal outside of by the end of April. In hindsight by the end of April was a little aggressive considering: it’s the first time I’ve written a fiction novel of any kind, it ended up being in a genre I’m not intimately familiar with, I haven’t been great at regular writing for the last year, and I’m splitting focus three ways on an average day.
I’m halfway through a freelance writing course. This one concentrates on email but has things that can carry beyond email. There are more courses available from the same place for case studies and white papers, which I think would be more fun (and profitable possibly) than emails and blog posts to do. With knowledge I am gaining confidence and if the job search continues to be unfruitful it will at the least be joined by attempts to get freelance writing clients this summer. If (When?) that happens which one proves more fruitful will be an interesting data point to look at.
This week I fell a bit behind in writing. It’s not because of the Story A Day either.
The job hunt continues. More leads this past week which I’ll hear updates on next week. It continues to be a process.
The novel was slowed down because of job hunt activities. I really still want to see it ready for beta readers by the end of next week, which means the draft should be done by Wednesday. I think I only have 6,000 words or so left, so it’s doable. The story will dictate how many words I really do have left though. Incidentally, if you read the excerpt earlier this week – Grandpa’s Dog Story – it’s not my favorite part of the book. I anticipate that chapter and the chapters on either side getting re-worked once the full story is done. After the draft finally makes it to the end I think I’ll do a self-edit pass to make sure it maintains continuity and that overall voice feels right to me.
I managed to get through a couple of webcasts related to freelance writing. If anyone has a need or knows of a need for freelance writing please reach out. I would be happy to discuss any needs and how I might be able to help fill them.
That’s all for now, Happy Mothers Day all whom it applies to!
That’s right, this is late. We had other commitments yesterday evening so this is coming now instead, after doing some house cleaning.
On the job front I was beaten out by an internal referral again. Additionally it looks like the chances of the other good lead I had panning out are now down very far. I’ll know for sure by Tuesday, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a bummer because both of these were more than just a recruiter asking to put me in, or me putting in to a resume hole/recruitment firm. Anyhow, that continues to be a search. On the bright side it seems Heather will be able to continue as a remote employee for the next few months. (She may argue how much of a bright side this is, but it is income.) We just need to figure out what the summer schedule is going to look like if a) nothing changes, and b) I get a full-time job.
Freelance writing took a backseat to novel-writing this week. With the job search activity a little heightened due to actual traction on some leads I had less time for other things, so that’s what suffered. I’ll have that down as a priority for next week. If I can get some freelance writing gigs I’ll at least be able to get some income, maybe even enough to look like part-time employment income.
The novel is underway. The story is coming out without a ton of coaxing. I’ve already gone somewhat off-script from the outline, but that’s fine by me. I see the outline (beats in some writing circles) as a guide for the story. The story itself is filled in by the characters, so it may not match the outline perfectly. The outline was informed by the characters though, so it’ll be close.
In other news, I just put the standing desk back together after cleaning up some. I am typing this standing. I’m going to try out writing in this position next week and see how it goes. I think it’ll work so I look forward to seeing if I’m right. I get exercise if I walk the kids back and forth, but otherwise it’s tough for me to remember to go out for a walk. I even have podcasts to listen to while walking, but usually end up not getting it done. They tend to get listened to while playing minecraft to wind down for the night instead.
It might seem as if last week was missed, but it wasn’t. We were on vacation and as these updates have been basically real-time I didn’t want to announce it to some of the random people that we don’t know.
As it was vacation I didn’t really work on anything for the job search. I did talk to a recruiter early in the week, but the position wasn’t going to be a fit.
I took the week off from the freelance writing idea as well. I am partway through a class on getting the right kinds of freelance clients and should complete it in the next two weeks. I plan to concentrate on niches related to the jobs I am trying to find so any work I do can be referenced in interviews, and possibly added to the resume. Along those lines my other blog, OurAgileJourney.com, should be seeing more updates and be the birthplace of a nonfiction book this summer depending on timing of everything.
I did get some work on the story done. Not much, but a couple of things took hold and my parents place has a nice little breakfast nook spot that felt good for writing. This week I plan to continue the rough outline. I hope to start an actual draft, or at least an expanded outline, next week. We’ll see if I feel ready to write or if I need to refine the story at that time.
Oops. In my defense, I did a post at OurAgileJourney.com on Thursday with the intention of this going up yesterday, but then the day didn’t go as nicely as planned.
The quick and dirty, It was a slow week for novel-writing. I did submit to my average 2 positions per week, so the job search is still slow but finding spots occasionally. I also started some research for freelance writing.
In reverse order, I am officially looking for freelance writing work. If you or anyone you know has opportunities I am going to give good discounts for the first few clients to help me establish a broader portfolio. My current work can be seen at OurAgileJourney.com as well as here. I am open to writing for any industry, but would be really interested in anything technology related. I will write website copy, white papers, blog posts, case studies, about pages, newsletter articles, magazine articles, and other items as requested. Whether there is a one-time need or a possibility for an ongoing relationship please reach out to me and we can work out details.
There’s not much to be more specific on for the job search. If I get into some second round interviews I’ll be sure to share that. Part of my job search plan for next week is to make progress on a book related to my job. That currently sits at 11 pages and has a long ways to go. That said, I bet I could make a lot of progress in a half day. Having a published book on the topic, which is niche enough I may even get some sales, will definitely help me stand out. When I have the whole thing at least roughed in, if not rough drafted, I’ll start working on a marketing plan for it.
For fiction writing I did a little more world building for the novella series that is simmering, just getting ready to be written. I also picked up some books from the library that have a similar target audience. The idea here is that I don’t want to write these stories the same way I write either of my blogs. I need to make sure my voice is focused on the right audience and my story has the right pacing for them. I plan to read through these books to help me know when I’m done with world-building and ready to hash out the basic story outlines. It’ll also help me know how to pace and structure the stories that do come out in outlining.
Now, off to finish getting ready for a little boy’s birthday party.