Friday, December 16, 2016

Amazon and On and On...

I've been writing. If you haven't seen it, it's because I've been writing for John Rood, Kibly and the Azon Academy.

Emails, product descriptions, blog pieces and all sorts of things detailing how John grew his business and how he coaches other people.

I must be good at it, because I convinced myself.

My wife and I started his Azon Academy training. We researched products, worked with manufacturers, designed a product and now it's on its way. Our first shipment is being manufactured right now and it will be for sale soon.

Here's a video about my experience so far:

Do I think you should do it? Maybe. If you want to build your brand, sell products and create an income on your own schedule independent of workplace, then yes.

It's a lot of work at first. It's not for dumb people unable to learn. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it doesn't take to long.

You know I don't trust a lot of people, but John and his team are some non-horsecrap people who want to sell and help people sell.

My whole point of getting into freelance writing was to make a living wherever and whenever. This is that, just a subtle shift of direction.

Don't worry. I still get to write. I'll share my product page soon and I'm having some fun with it.

My Gorgeous Illustrator and I both get to be creative. The logo at the top of this post is hers. Follow the link to see something of mine:

Oh, and what am I selling? For right now I wan't to keep that as a proprietary Dragon Knuckle secret. But here's a hint:

Wait, that's the wrong picture. This one:

This is for selling physical products on Amazon. To all my ebook authors: yes, I'm thinking of us too. Somewhere in the back of my head I'm hatching a strategy for ebook success.

Monday, November 7, 2016

No, I Don't Write For Free

Image via Flickr by nociveglia

I am a mercenary writer. A word mule. My pen is on the street, hooking.

That's why I so rarely get to writing on my own blog. And strangely, with nothing written since August, October was the highest traffic month in the history of this site.

Probably some weird internet math there. It's still mostly meaningless.

Instead of a journal of what I'm up to, this has become the diary of stuff I thought I'd do.

The murder mystery is still in the works, but I don't write for free. My experience with publishing fiction and poetry tells me it's wasted effort.

Yup, that's blunt to say. But all you idealistic artists out there: learn how to make money. Do that and then you'll have the time, freedom and space to write art.

"Starving artist" is one of the most true cliches out there. That's what almost every full-time artist does. The universe doesn't pay us.

Meanwhile, I'm actually writing for money more that ever. I'm back on the Bright Hub horse and I'll put together six pieces on being an entrepreneur this month. A couple College Factual pieces, too. I have a bit going into the CopyPress blog later this month, also.

I finally landed a part-time work-from-home gig that's giving me about 20 hours a week. I write for an Amazon retailer that is branching into support and education for other retailers. I write emails, product descriptions, blog entries and whatever else. Like a true word mule.

My restaurant job is taking a seasonal down-turn. Don't look now, but I'm actually working and earning more writing from home than I am at a restaurant. I wish the hospitality job would produce more and make it a tougher competition.

It was one of my goals and now I reached it. Still not making enough to support a house and three kids, but I'm grinding.

The Marcel novel is predictably on hold. I have no time for both word-muling and creative writing. That's how it is.

Yet somewhere in the back of my mind I'm thinking about the ebook business. Our primary purpose at my new writing job is to help people sell physical products on Amazon.

There are many differences between selling ebooks and sprockets, but somehow the people I work with must be able to help authors too.

I'm learning everyday. I'll find a way.

Unless you have a nickel-a-word for the next paragraph, I'm stopping here. I need to get back to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Murder Mystery in the Works

Although no one reads the things I've written, I've never made enough money to buy a nice pen writing ebooks, no one paid attention when I performed on stage and I got a collective "whatever" from Slam judges, I still need to write.

It's a true need, like eating and mating. Through my misadventures in car sales, I never had the energy or spark. Now looking back at several months of inactivity, I got that itch. I needed to get back to work.

But at what? I have several projects I've thought about, blogged about, doodled about and scratched notes about. The one I decided to pick back up: the one with the best scenery.

Remember Marcel?

He's my sleuth. A French charter fisherman and dive guide. Here's his boat:

And here's where he moors it:

You can buy it if you want.

Well, fictionally I did buy it. And I put a resort on it. Then somebody died there and it's up to Marcel to figure out who dunnit.

If Jacques Cousteau became a very reluctant Columbo, he'd be Marcel. Sort of. There's much more too him than that. I'm trying to avoid Inspector Clouseau or Pepe Le Pew. He's his own style. Mediterranean with a side of French Canadian trapper. Don't think he's Parisian or call him a frog.

"I am no frog. Frogs, they cannot tolerate salt water."

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sympathy for the Devil (I mean Car Salesperson) Part One

I spent eight months as a car salesman. I'm back in the restaurant business and couldn't be happier. Yet I learned some things. The first one: don't be so tough on car salespeople.

Buyers are Liars

It's a common saying amongst salespersons because it's true. My #1 takeaway from my time in car sales is that the salespeople are more honest than their reputation and buyers are less so. 

Car salesmen are at the store everyday and represent a business that is always there. If they lie, they will be called on it. People shopping for cars can and will say whatever they want. Faced with a clod of bullshit, the dealership will invite them back to make a purchase and forgive them swiftly.

The nicest guy I ever dealt with working for BMW was a sixty-plus retired fellow shopping for an exciting sports coupe. He said it would be the last car he'd ever own. He'd drive it for the next ten or twenty years and then pass away. Naturally, I wanted to help him make the right purchase.

The M235 is a hell of a car. For just over $50k you get over 300 horsepower and foot-pounds of torque. Most M cars are rear-wheel drive only, but you can get an M235 in all-wheel drive. Drive it all year round in the snow, sun, ice, mud or whatever. It's one of the best bang-for-your-buck machines BMW offers.

This guy didn't want to spent much over $50k. The only one we had on our lot was around $56k. It had some options he didn't want. It was gray with a black interior, but he wanted one that was white with a black interior. He didn't want fancy options or high-end leather interior. 

We almost made a deal on the one we had. A common question car sales managers ask is: "Can we sell the car for a price that would make you color-blind?" He said since this was the last car he'd ever buy, he didn't want to compromise.

So I got to work on the Build Your Own section of When I cut out the options he didn't want and put in the basic black interior with the non-metallic white paint, we had the perfect car for just under $50k.

It was mid December. He told me he had to spend some time with his mother over the holidays and would tell me what he decided to do after Christmas.

I called him a couple days after Christmas. What did he do? He had driven over to Seattle and bought a white M235 with a beige interior for about $54k. It wasn't the car he told me he wanted, but he bought it anyway. He said he wanted to think about it. Instead, he drove someplace and bought a car.

We'd talked about what he wanted for a few hours over a couple days. I offered to bring that car from Seattle to Spokane for him. He didn't want it when I asked. But he bought it from them anyway. He thanked me for all the work I had done. He complimented me on my professionality. Yet I made no money for all the time I'd worked for him.

That's a snippet of life in the car business. When a person takes the time to listen to you, ascertain your needs and find a car for you, let him make some commission from you. Don't waste your time and his by buying something you told him you didn't want anyway.

In retrospect, he was very nice. Yet I don't care at all if he's enjoying that car. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Eighty Six the Poet: Defibrillated

Image via Flickr by Bernhard Wintersperger

It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you without a strong rhyme to step to.

Eric B and Rakim

I have many stories to tell, but let's start with the fact that I'm back from the dead.

I just took my dog for a walk, had a La Perla Maduro and recited a couple slam pieces for old times sake. It feels like the artist in me is waking up again.

Go back a couple posts and read "Eighty Six the Poet is Dead". You'll understand how I was feeling about selling cars for BMW. What did I do after that? I quit my job, of course, but started working for another dealership. I was hoping to see more traffic and have a broader inventory. I did, but I still wasn't making much money. I was still dying inside.

So I dumped that job and am back in the restaurant business. I'm working for a seafood joint with a great view that reminds me a lot of a great spot I worked at in Seattle. I'm back doing what I do best and am coming back to life.

The best thing that ever came out of my time in the auto business was meeting a fellow post-apocalypse fan. While staring out the window and waiting for customers (they call it "licking the glass") we got to talking about a potential novel. We have a structure, a calamity and two main characters. Soon we'll have some whiskey and cigars while knocking out some text. More to come on that.

I'll write more soon. I will put what I learned about cars, especially the plug-in ones, on my other blog: WhereIsMyElectricMinivan?

I need to get back on stage and perform some verse. Then my heart will fully be back in rhythm.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo: Reformatted and Rereleased

Hard to believe it's been nearly five years since I first published an ebook. Is it easier to believe that I've made almost nothing on that poem? I've earned more money writing about teaching preschool than from the best 10,000 syllables I've ever composed.

Some of you know what I'm talking about. Some of you don't and it's all my fault. I've let myself shrivel as a creative writer. The business has beaten me until I've almost given up. But I won't give up.

Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo is the post-apocalyptic story of a zoo on the day no one showed up, narrated by a captive turkey vulture. The story is built of one hundred ten-by-tens. That's 10 syllables per line, 10 lines per stanza, 10 stanzas per chapter and 10 chapters in all for a total of 10,000 syllables. Yes, I counted them all several times.

Step one of my rebirth is rereleasing things I've already written. When I first published Apocalypse Zoo, I didn't include a page break between each stanza. Smashwords strips them out anyway. Therefore, when you read it on your device, you will probably get more than 10 lines on your screen. It's difficult to consume one stanza at a time that way, which is how it was intended to be read.

I just reformatted it to have only ten lines per page. I resubmitted it to Amazon:

As you flip through the pages on your device, you should get ten lines at a time. The whole piece should be easier to grasp that way.

Please buy it and read it. $2.99 is as cheap as I can sell it on Amazon. I keep 70%. You'll spend $3 on less valuable things this week, I'm sure.

This poet is rapidly heading toward a future where his kids wonder whatever happened to his dreams. Help me achieve my biggest one.

Coming very soon, the sequel: Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere. Also reformatted. Then Inside the Skull of David Priest and The Cheshire House will get some new noise. Growing at the Sun also needs to become an ebook.

Then I need to look into print-on-demand and get them printed in the real world. Who has some POD advice?

I want those books to start doing something for me. Then I'm getting back to work writing fiction. I haven't been myself lately. I miss being constantly exciting about building characters and crafting plots. Those things never leave my head once I get working on something. They haven't been in my head for a long time.

I'm tired of being shy about self-promotion. No one does it for me. So please, buy the book, read it and share it.

The writing is precise. It's exactly 10,000 syllables. How could it not be precise? It's physical, forceful and sensory. It's narrated by a soaring scavenger. You've read nothing like it.

Three bucks.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eighty Six the Poet is Dead

RIP Eighty Six the Poet
October 5, 1974 to September 15, 2015

It happened fast and then it happened slow. So slow no one noticed, not even the artist himself. But he is no doubt gone.

It happened the day he became a car salesman. At first, it seemed to make sense. All his life he'd worked in customer service. Then he became a mercenary freelance writer on any topic. What really interested him was his work with green cars.

He bought his own electric car and loved it. Frustrated with the low income ceiling in the restaurant business, he chose to step into auto sales. He got a job with BMW, the best green car company in town. Like he'd done his whole life, he lowered his shoulder and got to work.

He knew it wouldn't be easy. The hours would be long, but doubles in the hospitality biz never bothered him. He even imagined his writing could help him gain clients. He started Where is My Electric Minivan?, aspiring to be a strong influence weaning people from gasoline.

But never did he have the time or the energy. He had to sell what the customers wanted. Getting up on his podium and banging his shoe about driving electric was a turn off.

And he never earned what he wanted in the car sales game. He never wrote. He never appeared at EV events or sounded off on EV forums. He faded away.

Poverty and failure will do that to a person. You don't want to be seen, you don't want to speak, you don't even want to be around people when you have nothing good to say.

Eventually, he ceased to be.

The 86 the Poet tattoo on his arm, rather than being an affirmation of purpose, became a mockery in the mirror every morning as he rose before dawn. He shaved, showered and put on a BMW polo before driving to work to put on an energetic facade.

Coming home after earning no money to a family that needs it is like being fired every day. Except you have to keep going back.

Now, analyzing all that has happened, he realizes his is nothing he used to be.

He doesn't write, perform on stage, go on field trips with his kids, make his wife smile, eat well, have fun or have cash in his pocket.

It can't go on. He ain't going out like that. So I'm taking the CHAdeMO charger for my Nissan Leaf, sticking it in his chest and defibrillating his corpse. People always like poets better once they're dead anyway.

Eighty Six the Poet is dead. Long live Eighty Six the Poet.

Pressure and friction.
The only way out
From between two millstones.