Your Entrepreneurial Soul

How can an old-fashioned Detroit assembly line worker walk away from the factory and become a creative, independent 21st-century entrepreneur?

That’s the way I now see the situation faced by fiction writers today.

Here’s what happened. Last month, I picked up Robert T. Kiyosaki‘s Rich Dad Poor Dad for a dollar at a library book sale. I was interested because I had a poor dad—a “progressive” teacher and administrator, strangely enough the same as Kiyosaki’s poor dad—and a rich uncle, my dad’s brother—a businessman who created a chain of discount record stores… “and never the twain shall meet.”  My family background made Kiyosaki’s ideas shockingly personal.

Since then, I’ve been feverishly delving into this new-to-me world of entrepreneurship and business and money. I now have an sense of the chasm between Amazon and the publishers formerly known as the Big Five.

In his book Retire Young Retire Rich, Kiyosaki mentions the difference between the corporate mindset and the entrepreneur mindset.

This is simplified, but listen: corporate publishing is a bureaucracy. In contrast, Amazon, big as it is, still has an entrepreneurial soul.

What does this mean for fiction writers, especially indie fiction writers?

We fiction writers create products that didn’t exist before we invented them, new products that other people are willing to trade money to get.

In the past, we turned our inventions over to bureaucrats. We were like craftsmen who left their workbench because they were too focused on craft to be businesslike. When times got hard, they had to get an assembly-line job. 

Think of each car coming off the assembly line as a short story anthology, a compendium of the collected works of all the workers. Except each worker keeps writing the same story over and over.

Is it any wonder we now see copies of copies of an author’s original idea? It’s like different models of assembly-line cars. Take the original idea of the car, give it a slightly different shape, color, accessories, horsepower, mechanical tweaks. It’s the same basic car, just a different model.

Take the original Twilight, The Hunger GamesFifty Shades of Gray, give it a few twists and tweaks, turn out a dozen other novels, TV shows and movies, even a new genre, all based on the original invention… and what you end up with is different models of the same basic car.

It’s no longer enough for us to be craftspeople at heart who work on an assembly line, turning out stories for a bureaucracy to sell, tweak and reproduce. It’s not enough to hand over our copyrights—our only assets—to a bureaucracy that knows better than we do what assets are for.

We as fiction writers have to approach this process differently. What would it mean to be a fiction writer-entrepreneur?

Nora Roberts has famously said that writing is her job. Writing need no longer be a job within an enveloping corporate context. Writing is now the personal business of each indie writer. We must approach this as business people, not as employees, assembly-line workers or baby bureaucrats, but as entrepreneurs, like Amazon.

Amazon is currently the farmer’s market where we take our crafts to sell.

Many of us still have the craftsman’s view of the marketplace. We have to enlarge that view.

Now I understand better what Kristine Kathryn Rusch has been blogging about for a long time. How can we ourselves become entrepreneurs, each of us a mini-Amazon?

Some writers have taken the first steps, but there are so many questions.

What’s the best way to protect our copyrights, which are our assets?

Should each author become a Limited Liability Corporation? Would that provide enough protection for our copyrights? Would it give us a tax advantage?

Do some of us need to band together—not into unions, which are for job-holders—into some form of mutual entrepreneurship?

What’s the next step for us after the current Amazon farmer’s market develops into something else? Will we be absorbed into a new corporate bureaucracy? Or can more of us become this new kind of fiction writer-entrepreneur?

How can an old-fashioned craftsman who could no longer make it on his own and who spent years working on a Detroit assembly line walk away from the job and grow the skills needed to become a free entrepreneur?

By S.J. Driscoll

Some failure, some success. Surprisingly, more success

Time to look back at my original real and fantasy goals. Some that I thought would be easy still seem impossible but, to my surprise, some of my fantasy goals are going strong. Some are turning out better than I’d anticipated, like the one on the left.

1) Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).

Fail! I do get outside to water the garden, which counts as exercise since I haul the water in 5-gallon plastic buckets, but sleeping seems like a lost cause. If I want to do more, I have to sleep less. After I stop work, I go to work. If anything’s going to get done, that’s the way it has to be.

Some things to keep in mind: As long as I hold to a modified primal/paleo diet (modified to include unsweetened soymilk, which seems to do me good) and eat almost no grain, sugar or dairy, my strength holds up so I can maintain a strenuous schedule. I’m chafing right now because I found a new CrossFit gym ten minutes from home, and I yearn to try a stand-up paddleboard. My budget’s holding me back more than my lack of sleep.

2) Real goal: Work my job only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. Fantasy goal: Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out. Continue reading

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck

Aside

Interview: SJ Driscoll « Live Wonderstruck.

Today S.M. Hutchins was kind enough to interview me for her Wonderstruck blog. Previous interviewees include writers Carrie Daws and Shay Fabbro.

If the interview were about someone else, I’d think it was excellent. If those accomplishments had been achieved by someone else, I’d be impressed. But this is me, so nothing I do is good enough. Why is that?

Maybe I’d better go back and reread some of Louise Behiel’s series about the coping strategies of children that carry over into adulthood.

Thank you, @smhutchins!

By S.J. Driscoll

Two for Wednesday: Novels by James and Kobras

Kristy K. James: The Daddy PactJess Bentley’s husband is murdered the night they return from their honeymoon. Soon she discovers that she is pregnant, and married to the murderer’s brother to protect the baby from her vengeful father-in-law.

Available on Smashwords and Amazon

Kristy K. James‘ first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to check out scary noises in other dark yards if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love… writing. Since then, her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories and looking for trouble in her kitchen.

***

There’s nothing like finding a letter on your breakfast table informing you that you have a teenage son you knew nothing about. That’s what happens to international rock star Jon Stone. Jon drops everything to find the boy–and the boy’s mother, the girl he loved so many years ago. She left Jon when his rock ‘n’ roll life became too much for her to bear. Seeing her is like falling in love all over again. Everything seems perfect–until someone sets out to destroy their idyllic life.

Published by Buddapus Ink   Preorder on Amazon   Publication date Jan. 12, 2012

Mariam Kobras is the author of the soon-to-be published book The Distant Shore, a contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lives in Hamburg with her husband and two sons. After studying American Literature and Archeology at Giessen University, she spent several months in Toronto, Canada. Mariam has worked as an English tutor, served as a lay Judge in Juvenile Court and managed the rookie Hamburg Blue Devils American football team. Most recently, she founded the Theater Project at a local Hamburg high school, where she wrote and staged plays. The success of this venture gave her the courage to try her hand at a novel. Mariam is currently writing the second book in The Stone Trilogy

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Kelley and Schulte

Twelve-year-old AJ Zantony’s world is threatened by an ancient curse that releases wicked pirates who had been trapped for centuries in his Aunt Zsofia’s creepy mansion, Zala Manor.

The pirates–a vampire count, a pegleg skeleton and a zombie–have to find a lost treasure, unleash the restless dead from their graves and settle an old score by destroying the Zantony bloodline. AJ must stop them before midnight during Aunt Zsofia’s Halloween party or the streets of Craggy Cove will be crawling with zombies.

But AJ has a problem–he’s scared to death of monsters!

Available on Amazon in hard cover and Kindle editions

BBH McChiller is the pseudonym of Southern California writers Lynn Kelley, Kathryn Sant and Maria Toth.

***

While Olivia Martin observes life through her camera, the abyss gazes back at her. Mysterious men follow her, people close to her are dying and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved.

Olivia’s about to find out there’s a lot she doesn’t know… and sometimes what you don’t know can kill you.

Available for Kindle on Amazon

Liz Schulte wanted to be a veterinarian, then a lawyer, then a criminal profiler. To keep from becoming Walter Mitty, Liz put pen to paper and began writing. As a scribe, she could be all of those things and so much more. Liz loves all things spooky, supernatural and snarky. Her favorite authors range from Edgar Allen Poe to Joseph Heller to Jane Austen to Jim Butcher and everything in between.

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Crowther and Warren

Debt collector Matt Spears isn’t having a good day. He’s being framed by the cops over an alleged assault and has inexplicably found himself indebted to the blind but ruthless gangster, Vincent Barbour. When Barbour’s supposedly dead niece, Emma, surfaces in a graphic sexual video on a porn site, he asks Matt to find her in exchange for wiping the slate clean. Within a matter of hours, Matt is plunged into a world of sex, blackmail and murder. Trying to unravel the mysteries of a troubled young girl’s disappearance, he discovers the dark side of the porn industry, complicated family secrets, government corruption, sadistic gangsters, and narcissistic celebrities who all come together to find a girl who is simply … missing.

Novella also available

A Matt Spears Mystery/Amazon 5 stars

Barry Crowther makes his home in San Clemente, Southern California. Originally he’s from Manchester, England. He has had short stories published and this is his first novel on the eBook platform. He continues to work and write on the follow-up novel in the San Clemente sun with his three daughters, wife and chocolate Lab, Coney.

***

The queen is dead. The dragons are finally free. But was the cost too high? While the Council of Man and Beast struggles to gain control over a land fractured by war, a young woman wages her own struggle against the ghosts of her past.

Winds From the North is the sequel to Blood of the Dragon.

Samantha Warren is an indie fantasy and science fiction author who spends her days immersed in dragons, space ships, and vampires. Her best selling books are Blood of the Dragon (Book #1), a full-length epic fantasy novel, and her urban fantasy novella series, Jane. She is currently writing the sequel to Blood of the Dragon, along with an as-yet-unnamed science fiction novel.

Soap? Nope: Looks Like Indie Publishing to Me

Blanco, Texas: Market Day, Nov. 19, 2011

Farmers’ markets–those little local carnivals of fresh bread, brown eggs and dewy lettuce–are surging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. jumped from more than 6,000 in 2010 to more than 7,000 in 2011. That’s a 17% increase.

A new business model is emerging. People are changing their identity from being primarily employees of others, and primarily consumers of the products that keep the international trade world afloat. They’re reshaping their economic soul to become creators of products.

Have you been to a farmer’s market lately? The variety and creativity of the products are amazing. Like the variety and creativity of the ebook market.

People are trading with each other. Taking matters into their own hands to reach customers directly. Not only setting up on the courthouse lawn, but using personal contacts and the Internet to make a living.

This is also just like what’s happening in publishing.

For example, here’s this “author’s” site:

Try to see it as your indie author’s blog home page or Amazon page. There’s the name. The logline. The URL. An overview of the “books.”

Maybe it’s interesting, so you check it out more closely.

Look at all those “same but different” soaps. This author writes a series.

What’s that on the left?

Two more series. Obviously romantica. Hmm, seems like one series is mini-romantica. YA? How nouveau. Do you think this author is spreading herself too thin?

Jehosophat! What’s she doing? Not just single title soaps and liquid soaps, she’s gone and written hand-dyed wool and silk as well! Not to mention the knitted caps.

For traditional marketing purposes, she’d have to get a second name. Maybe “Yarnmarked.” Do you think anyone would guess she’s the same writer?

It’s a good thing she’s got this indie market.

It’s a good thing for us all.

Thank you, Soapmarked.com!

By S.J. Driscoll