The Score

Since Monday there have been two new entries in the sidebar. One, Current Daily Word Target, is pretty straight forward. It is the number of words per day I am targeting in my writing. It will be updated on Mondays and is the 105% of the average of the prior week.

The second, The Score, is a bit more complicated.

In his book Heinlein’s Rules Dean Wesley Smith discussed an idea he, Kristine Katheryn Rusch, Kevin J. Anderson, and others had in the 80s called the race. He even published stats for The Race in his magazine The Race.

The Race was about rule four, “You must put it on the market”, and rule five, “You must keep it on the market until sold”. You got points in the race for having stories, outlines or chapters, and full novels in the hands of editors who could buy them. The three categories gave one, three, and eight points respectively.

Smith notes he had over 70 points during the years he tracked The Race and wasn’t winning. Rusch and Anderson were always ahead of him. He also notes that going back to those late 80s issues the names routinely at the top of The Race had long careers while those with only a few stories out at a time are not around now.

I think The Race is as good for writers beginning their careers today as it was for Smith and company thirty years ago. In modern terms it gamifies rules four and five and, by extension because you have to write and finish to get it on the market, all five rules.

However, I want to update it a bit to fit the recommendations Smith makes for today with indie. Smith recommends sending short stories to actual market instead of just putting them up on Amazon, Kobo, et al. He argues the possible lower pay is made up for in marketing and advertising value. Conversely he argues books should just go up as indie eBooks. So, we’ll modify the meaning of on the market.

I also want to include an idea Smith discusses both in this book and in the video I linked this past Monday. A story shouldn’t be sold or put out as an indie eBook and forgotten. You can reprint, collect, translate, sell game rights, etc. We’ add points for repackaging and reselling after the initial publication.

Finally, I am going to add a few additional points for royalties earned on indie and auxiliary rights. This is more a success than getting it out there measure but I think adding them will draw attention to the synergy and marketing feedback as you get more items out in the world.

Out of those desired updates to The Race, The Score was born.

Points for short stories:

  • 1 point for every short story out to magazines and anthologies for first publication.
  • 1 point for a short story initially published in a paying market that paid $0.05/word or more.
  • 1 point every time an indie published short story has total royalties that are a multiple of $0.05/word. So if you indie publish a 1000 word flash piece you get a point when royalties break $50, a second at $100, and so on.
  • 1 point every time a story published elsewhere is republished and you are paid for the republication (excluding indie which is covered above).
  • 1 point for every auxiliary rights contract sold for a story: gaming rights, translation, TV adaptation, etc.

Points for novels:

  • 8 points for the initial platform indie publication.
  • 1 point for each additional current platform for indie publication (Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, etc.). Treat KU as an additional platform (although KU limits your score)
  • 1 point every time an indie published short story has total royalties that are a multiple of $0.05/word. So if you indie publish a 1000 word flash piece you get a point when royalties break $50, a second at $100, and so on.
  • 1 point every time a traditionally published novel has total royalties that are a multiple of $0.10/word. This number was picked as it appears to be an above average traditional published advance.
  • 1 point for each additional format made available after the initial publication. Assuming it is initially an eBook this would include paperbacks, hardcover, audio, etc.
  • 1 point for every auxiliary rights contract sold for a novel: gaming rights, translation, TV adaptation, etc.

Smith needed 70 short stories out to have 70 points (in fact, he does not quote his points and just notes he had 70 stories out at a time on a regular basis). If you write a novel a quarter and two stories a month on top of that just by having all the stories out or sold to $0.5/word market and all the novels on Amazon plus one other store (KU, iBooks, Kobo) you would have 60 points.

The scoring is designed to reward immediately being in the preferred channel by type and only reward the non-preferred channel when it provides actual cash flow.

My intent was to post this today with a score of 1 but I am still at 0. Time to get something out in the world.

Fellow writers, especially young writers (career length young, not age), I challenge you to reveal your score. Put it in the comments. Put it on your blog. Engage in a little friendly competition to have the highest score at the end of the month or be the first over 100 or some other value. Yes, with the sales numbers a lucky break could push someone over the top but just getting stuff out there is going to dominate most of the time. Plus, luck is when opportunity meets preparation which is why most overnight successes took ten years.

So what’s your score?

Monday Pointers

D4: Sandwich Snob Defines Cool
D6: But Michael Kelly Did It Better

David Brooks, fresh off making an ass of himself by acting above everyone while explaining how acting above everybody gave us Trump has decided to define “cool” and contrast it to “woke”. Normally this is where you say something like, “Don’t quit your day job.” The problem is this is Brook’s day job.

One good result is in response Glenn Reynolds linked the Michael Kelly article on cool which is much better. The discussion of how Rick and Archie are, underneath it all, squares with something they believe in and will fight for, is exactly the thing I was after in explaining why I like detective fiction.

D8: Disney Actually Closed a Park

I am not sure which surprises me more, that Disney closed a park or that the story is on AOL, which hasn’t closed.

D10: The Oldest Commissioned Warship in the World

Despite several news stories about the USS Constitution, which has just finished a refit, being the oldest it is not.

Video of the Week:

Dean Wesley Smith is becoming very influential in my move to build a writing career, at least on the business side. This week’s interview with Joanna Penn about intellectual property writes is well worth the listen especially if you have not yet grasped that writers are in the intellectual propery management business.

The End of NaNoFiMo

I will not be finishing the novel I have been writing since April this month.

Well, I guess that depends on how you define finishing. The novel is finished in a sense.

I deleted it this morning. It is finish as in ended, but not as in completed.

In deleting it I broke Heinlein’s second rule: You must finish what you write. It was stopping me from following the first rule: You must write.. If you do not write you cannot finish.

In the environment where an unfinished work is something whose continuation only brings pain, pain sufficient to keep you from the keyboard, I see no choice but to sacrifice that work. The other choice is to not only quit writing it, but to quit writing altogether. The rules have an order in which they must be completed.

Rule three, however, is being defeated with the story Keyed and Locked. I have copy-edits in hand. Over the next week those corrections will be made and on August 12 I will submit it to Fantasy & Science Fiction. The delay is only because they have temporarily closed submissions. My assumption is summer vacation for staff. I am going there first even with the wait as they are know for quick turn around. Talking with Vanessa G. I have a “top three” to whom I will submit fantasy and science fiction before trying lower markets.

I do want to finish two partially completely stories this month. I have briefly mentioned In the Darkness Bind Them. I need to research a good first target for submission. It isn’t science fiction or fantasy just a modern tale on a submarine.

I also have Cavemen of Mars started. It is in the same broad universe as The Visions of Cireb and Keyed and Locked. It occurs some ten to twenty years after the latter. It will go to the top three mentioned above.

Have you abandoned any works? What led you to do so?

When Passion is Poison

These days young writers learn sales is all about your platform. While this is obvious for indie it appears more and more publishers expect you to have one before they will publish your book.

Generally, this takes the form of a mailing list. A mailing list gives you access to people who want to hear about you and what you are doing. It stands to reason they want to hear you are releasing a book or have a story in a new issue of a magazine. Some of them, having heard the news, will then purchase the book or magazine.

In my search to start building my mailing list I been doing research. This mainly consists of watching pitches online and getting “free guides” for signing up to other people’s mailing lists followed by low value freebies and daily sales emails. Sometimes both internet marketing and indie writing feel like a big circle jerk.

Despite my cynicism about much material there is some useful information out there. This week’s Creative Penn Podcast featured Jeff Coins. I did the required sign ups and at least one of the freebies was worth reading, Building an Audience.

Jeff argues the key is writing with passion. The starting point to building an audience is writing with passion. Passion attracts people.

While I certainly agree you need a general passion for writing I think the best stories come from passion. I am passionate about at least one thing for every story I have finished. My completed shorts all embrace my future history which turns on religious dissenters and innovators being the people who form the vanguard of space exploration. This stems both from an interest in US history and how little religion appears in modern science-fiction. For me, the fact the most advanced alien civilization known in Old Man's War was essentially a theocracy was one of the most refreshing parts of the book.

Yet passion for a part of it is why I doubt I will finish my novel this month. The idea that first brought me to the story of the novel was a passion. You could argue it has been the defining passion of my life for almost a decade. However, it has born very little fruit.

Examing this passion and why it has been fruitless is how the two main characters came to mind. While the front plot of the novel is a typical private eye novel, the back plot is the developing relationship between the PI and the woman who hired him. That back plot engaged my passion.

However, in the past month to month and a half the fruitless nature of that passion has come to a head. The only resolution I can find in my life is to give it up as a passion. I have come to look forward to a day when I look on it as I did all the time and energy I invested on the SCA in my youth. I foresee good memories but genuine confusion over why I invested so heavily in this passion for so long.

So, I have come to see the passion as poison.

Yet here I have this novel whose raison d’être is in that passion. It is damn near impossible to write it while excising the same passion from myself. Yet as the lack of satisfaction in the passion comes to a head it becomes impossible to endure writing it.

Because of prior commitments I had to engage the passion all of this past weekend. As a result I have not written since last Friday. Friday resulted in all of 33 words.

In that way the passion has become a poison to the writing.

Yet Heinlein’s second law says “You must finish what you write”. If lack of passion for this story becomes a reason to break the rule how much easier is it to break in the future.

I will keep pecking away at it but in much smaller pieces. Two scenes, including the one I have reached in linear writing, are going to bring up negative and bitter emotions if not in the writing certainly afterwards.

I will finish but my hope to publish the eBook by my birthday in November seems off the table.

I guess my lesson learned is the passion for the story should be want you want to have not one you want to excise.

Monday Pointers

D4: Human Chain

Our behavior is different. How often have you seen a headline like this?--TWO DIE ATTEMPTING RESCUE OF DROWNING CHILD. If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out.
Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature--a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price.

  • Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

D6: Plato’s Stepchildren

Sure, it is pretentious but why not try writing an essay or two in dialog format? Plus, it allows me a Star Trek reference.

D8: Goodbye Commander Koenig

D10 and the father of zombies

I know last year was rough on music fans my age and older but these two gentlemen were more influential for me than all the big rock stars we lost last year.

Video of the Week:

It is a cute cat video week.