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Monday, April 17, 2017

on being a writer-post 2 of 2 today

post 2 of 2 today

ON BEING A WRITER

A month into my self-employment a minion gave several links to a new startling development where YouTube and Amazon are curtailing compensation to the content providers and sources of traffic ( not sure how I missed the announcement-big hugs, said minion! ).  YouTube being far more strict, and Amazon just shaving.  Well, if you call decreasing commissions by ONLY a third “shaving“.  Now of course I was very concerned because this is most of my writing income, but more than that I was actually thinking this is funny as hell!  I just quit my day job to go full time writing, willing to halve my income to do so ( folks, I was only making $200 a month from writing-don’t act like I’m getting rich or asking you for too much compensation ), and within weeks my Amazon commission which had remained the same for TEN years takes a big squishy.  You HAVE to laugh at the cosmic dealings at that level!  The gods themselves forsake me!  But, really, so what, right?  Everything is getting worse, everything.  The answer is not to go into consulting, because that is a Ponzi scheme.  As incomes drop for everyone, consulting fees will dry up.

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Just ask Rawles.  Why else would he suddenly start pushing HIS Amazon commission sales?  Of course I am just guessing, as we are NOT drinking buddies and he doesn’t share is income sources, but I think he ran out of rich preppers to keep him in the lifestyle he became accustomed to.  And then HIS Amazon commissions took a hit.  I’d wager I can live on far less than he can.  Not that I’m looking for misery to share company with.  My business model has always been to target the POOR preppers, not the rich ones.  My demographic can only get bigger and his can only get smaller.  I’m kind of gloating even if it shows of poor taste.  Thanks to wonderful minions such as ‘Ol Remus, my readership numbers have doubled.  Not that enough folks are paying for the writing, but that has always been the case.  You can only throw a crapload of free writing at the wall and hope enough are grateful to eventually pay for some of it.  And if some are genuinely poor and my advice helps them, I get karmic brownie points I can hopefully cash in when things really go to hell.  I’m not resentful like Orlov that folks want to read for free.  It is the cost of doing business.  Hell, when people paid, back in the ‘zine era, you still didn’t make money as it all went to the Post Office and Kinko’s.  I’ve been used to making peanuts for near three decades now.

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Now, of COURSE I’ll still be whining and sniveling on a weekly basis for more compensation.  I was doing that before Amazon lowered the commission percentage.  It is how I solicit my income.  My readership increased, my book income increased, and yet I’ll still take a decrease in total.  But being around as a niche writer as long as I have been ( since ‘91 ), you see all the business models failing.  You couldn’t make money on print now like you did then.  Now you can’t make commission totals like you could ten years ago, just because of the housing bubble bursting and starting us in this Depression.  Well, tomorrow you can’t make as much on commission percentage as you could yesterday.  It is the same as it has always been, you keep having to adjust how you get paid.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  Hell, I pay for an e-mail address because I don’t trust the free services to continue.  I keep a web site ( www.bisonprepper.com and PLEASE note it somehow just in case ) because I don’t trust Blogger to stay in business or offer their services for free ( it isn’t free, they make money off the ad on my blogger site, but it is no up front fee ) anymore and I’ve always known Amazon commissions were too good to be true.

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I love Amazon as a customer.  I appreciate them providing commissions for me for the last ten years so I could write these millions of words.  Amazon commission paid 99% of my writing.  I thank them, as should you.  But Amazon has been problematic profit wise for a time now.  EVERYBODY has been.  It is no surprise commissions are now on a death spiral.  It doesn’t mean I stop writing.  I’m a writer and that is just what I do.  I can’t stop.  Will I offer so much free writing once Amazon revenues get too low?  Probably not.  I have no issues with free riders reading for free.  That is just offering a sample table at the supermarket.  That business model can’t expect much more than a 1% success rate, or something similar.  I don’t expect miracles.  Out of a thousand, roughly, readers my new booklet got twelve sales.  A fifty cent book.  Of course, if it sells similar month after month that is fine. 

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Just keep in mind that Amazon commissions did support most of your cheapskate habits.  A few regulars supported all the free riders ( again, the genuinely poor are more than welcome to browse freely.  It is those that can spare a buck and don’t that is the issue )( also, lately, a heck of a lot of very generous donations which I really appreciate.  Alas, not sustainable ).  That might have to change.  I’m certainly not threatening to cease blogging.  I’d never do so as that is the channel to keep my products fresh in everyone’s mind.  But if I had to start paying for those blog posts ( if I had to switch over to my web site, traffic fees would kick in ), if you didn’t compensate me for them you certainly would see far less posting.  I might have to go to a monthly digital magazine with only weekly blogging.  But only as a last resort of course.  I’m only pointing out that now things have gotten fluid, so just beware of possible changes.  I’ll NEVER expect you to support me in a grand style.  I’m not Stephen King.  I can live off of chump change.  It is a shame my writing can’t be completely free anymore.  Amazon commissions were a sweet deal for everyone as you only bought what you already needed anyway ( in theory ). 

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All good things must end.  And, hell, I KNOW my books aren’t great.  I cover all those subjects in the blog.  But I did that as the blog was where I got paid.  Let’s just hope things don’t get too much worse too quickly.  Okay, I know they will.  So let’s hope the transition is smooth.  I’ll try to minimize your pain, believe me.  Nobody pays out of the goodness of their heart as we all know.  You will always be sold a product, more value for your money, but I’m going to keep trying to minimize the cost as I maximize the value.

END

16 comments:

  1. Okay, you win.
    Since I have the money now, I'll send you my share for the year (I am guessing that you have at least 120 readers who have enough money to spare, to make $200 a month, we each need to send you $20 at least once per year). My 20 will be on its way shortly.
    Honestly I don't need your books, I get enough of your writing in a better format with your blog - a daily or weekly reminder/rehash of why and how I need to live more frugally and use some of my 'discretionary income'(ha!) to prep for the bottom falling out. I should certainly see fit to give you at least a small fraction of that prep money for the ongoing reminder!
    I am personally concentrating on using my current good financial place (a near 'middleclass' income, spouse with usually minimal demands for money investments - including enjoying cheap home made meals and minimal decorative or entertainment purchases- etc) to get a small homestead going with shelter for me, my family, and our possessions, in an small energy efficient structure without a mortgage. But sending you $20 just means I buy a few less 2x4s this month, no big deal.

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    1. Hopefully this didn't come across as a fundraising drive, but I do thank you anyway! I hope this Heads Up is far in the future of Amazon completely ending commissions. I know the books aren't great. I'd call about 25% of them worth a separate sale. They are more an excuse to donate than anything else, but cash donations are far better for obvious reasons!

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    2. Oh, and for those who missed it or dont want to go searching here is Jims US snail mail postal -
      James M Dakin, 181 W Bullion Rd #12, Elko NV 89801-4184

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    3. Thank you, JJ. For those completely oblivious to life itself, this address and my e-mail and my web address are all listed every single day at the end of each article. Don't look for excuses, yo. 'nuff said, big hugs and little kisses to all.

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  2. Now, more than ever and tomorrow more than today, you must diversify your income if you are self employed. Have 5 or more irons in the fire all the time. Completely different irons in case one or more fails. Writing a blog and selling books on amazon is not diversification.

    15 years ago I bought a small Poulen chainsaw to cut up dead wood on the surrounding rural properties for my fire pit. Then we moved up here to the great white north and the chainsaw changed from being a hobby tool to a work tool. After 13 years of moderate use the Poulen blew up so I dug deep and bought a Stihl for $400. Yeah, a lot of coin but it's a lot of chain. With this chain I have cut a 5" x 5" hole all the way through a standing live tree. Try that with any other saw and you'll be buying a new one or in the emergency room. Anyway, couple weeks ago I used that saw to fell 15 fairly decent sized trees for someone for $300 cash. My cost was about $2 for fuel and and splurged another $28 for a new chain blade. Did I mention, CASH? 15 twenty dollar bills. Sweet. As you probably already know, to equal that amount as a self employed person I have to earn more than $600 on the books and a whole lot of other people and things are involved.

    Employed people have a skewed view of life because of the unnatural way their income is derived and everything that is changed to make that happen. I've actually had employed people tell me I'm crazy for doing what I do for so little money. They never consider the larger picture that how I procure coin and what I do with it is far more efficient than what they do even with all of their benefits. It is beyond their comprehension to even grasp the notion. That's why they're chained to the clock for all of their lives like draft animals.

    So, find other things to do that can supplement your income. Things that don't cost much up front but pay fairly to you, whatever that might be. You know what you like better than anybody else does.

    FWIW, I don't particularly like cutting trees down, but I do it for myself occasionally so it's not much of a reach to do it for others. Besides, there's still a whole bunch of them 20's in my wallet and that makes my ass cakes tilt rather comfortably.

    Oh yeah. I install garage doors too. Lot's of fun. I learned by doing 2 of my own 11 years ago. Big jigsaw puzzles. Nothing hard about it at all. A few regular hand tools, a couple saw horses, and a drill and bits. I get $125-175 per install and it takes about 6-8 hours depending on size.

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    1. Yep, my writing used to be my fall back, so now I need a fall back on my writing. I'm still diversifying my writing income, but I'll need to give more thinking to another hobby. I want to do leather but I can't imagine the monetization in that.

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    2. Motivation?
      I'll give you 3:
      1. Money.
      2. Enjoyment.
      3. Banishment of boredom.

      Sitting here designing buildings is fun but I get bored easily so I take frequent breaks and do other things. Mostly chores around here in ruralville but I also do things for other people, some favors, some actually put coin in my pocket. This afternoon for example I am supposed to go install 5 or 6 ceiling fams in ahouse a neighbor bought that will be a rental home. He's giving me 5 or 6 boxes of 5.56 ammo in return.

      Think man, THINK! LOL
      Make yourself available to everyone.
      Think of everyone you know and meet as potential *customers*. Don't pander, nobody likes that. But be friendly, helpful, interested, and engaging. Develope some self improvement habits that work to your advantage. These skills have been removed from the employee culture and replaced with the exact opposites.

      You will, in time and with some self analytical thought, become a better person overall. Believe it and make it so. Guten lucken.

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  3. I read https://www.theburningplatform.com daily and I like how the admin raises funds.

    He has a Fundraiser Meter on the side bar with a $$ goal amount. And quarterly he ask folks to pitch in. Other than asking every three months, he doesn't bring it up.

    You could set one up and ask for $6,000 or so. That would be $500 a month. After blog expenses and taxes, you should have enough to live on. Doesn't hurt to ask.

    For us readers, it's nice to see the reminder every time we read and it helps to know how much funds have been raised.

    The worst fundraising IMHO was this other forum I use to visit. Every month was a beg-a-thon and no one ever knew how much was needed or raised. The readers didn't know if he was making $1 or $1,000,000. Everyone wanted to help keep the site running but didn't want to throw money in a bottomless tin cup.

    Question: Are the PayPal donations anonymous or do you get the info from everyone who donates?

    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. As far as I recall/can find info on, PayPal does send info on the donor. The problem I'm thinking with the quarterly drive is, again, relying on just the few. I want to keep shaming the unpaying into a buck a month. And I always keep everyone informed on what I make, in one form or another. The last three years it didn't matter much as it ALL went to books, but I'll start doing that more than yearly from now on. Prior, $200 a month was pretty average for about the last eight years.

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  4. what about lulu, any chance of getting your book batch on there?
    I have just decided I might rather have your books on my computer than on a kindle.

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    1. If you send a postal money order ( you can do cash but it is a risk, obviously ) I can send PDF files to you. An extra $1 for a CD, otherwise it gets e-mailed to you. Three or more books no charge for the CD. The reason I don't do Lulu for more books is that their cost is 99 cents, then 20% of the cut, so if I charged $1.20 my take is 19cents, barely over half of what I get from Amazon for a $1 retail price, 35cent profit.

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  5. Lord Bison of the Empyrean Locks of Full Hair,

    My only questions to his lordship follows: How much I should sharpen my teeth before I consume my neighbor after the fall? And how much should I fatten human livestock to get good marbling when I BBQ them?

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    1. Do NOT sharpen your teeth-once the enamel is off they start rotting out. Also, human flesh has terrible EROI. :)

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    2. Plus the neighbors are fattening themselves up just fine without any help. Do offer them some fresh vegetables and sprouts when you have surplus so that they have some decent nutritional value though.

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  6. If you are intent on making first-shot maximum-range hits, you almost have to load your own ammo, or try all of the various kinds of ammo (to discover that ONLY Federal Gold Medal Match 175 grain -$$$- works best with your rifle, until they change the formula and leave the SKU the same) at great expense. The local reloader ammo that is a standard bullet in a standard case with standard pressure is likely to be fine for meat harvesting at 200M, but will not be perfect for your weapon like some custom formula that you have worked up might be.

    Article: https://loadoutroom.com/15603/reaper-tips-hand-load-ammunition/

    Rawles is likely correct in his notion of "standard" cartridges. He means "widely used by the US Army during the past 100 years". No one stockpiles like Uncle. This is .30-'06, 7.62x51mm NATO, 5.56x45mm NATO, 9x19 for the M-9, .45Auto for the M1911, 12 ga., .22LR for cadet training and shooting kneecaps IDF-style. We should buy weapons chambered for these cartridges and stock cartridges/components for these deep when possible. As the has been noted here, you may need to be your own re-supply depot for .303 I buy half-boxes of ammo at garage sales whenever I can to get odd ammo just to have a few rounds for the weapon that might come my way.

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    1. The issue I have with military round standards, besides they don't use 303 :), is that the military trains for Mass Quantities consumption and I have my doubts how long it will all last, insofar as a resupply source. Now, if you had the ammo and just wanted to scrounge weapons, that is a different kettle of fish.

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I must moderate-trust me. You don't want to see what happens otherwise. Sometimes it takes awhile to respond as I only check two or three times a day. No N-Bombs, nothing to get me libeled. Otherwise, have at it. If you criticize me, make sure to praise my hair first.