The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 157
The Start of Year Four
We are on a roll, so I see no reason to slow up to smell the roses. More questions means more answers, and I love it!
Happy Early 4th of July to my U.S. friends, and a Happy Monday to the rest of you!
Are you ready?
From Flourish: “Why do you think some of your many, many writers bag articles are chosen for Letter Pile while others are not? Do you submit hubs to niche sites or wait for HP? (I do the former..).”
Flourish, I don’t mean for this to sound flippant, but I don’t have a clue and I don’t lose sleep wondering about it. The staff and management at HP have their own agenda, and it is quite different from my agenda.
Why are some articles chosen and others are not? It will forever remain a mystery. I just don’t get it.
And to answer your second question, I have nothing to do with it. I simply download my articles, and whatever happens to them after that is always a crapshoot. I don’t even know how to submit an article to a niche site. That’s how much attention I pay to the HP silliness.
WHAT COULD BE WRONG WITH HP?
From Martie: “I also want to know why we are not making money on Hubpages anymore. What could be wrong?”
Martie, I don’t think anything is “wrong” in the sense you are referring to. I just think the online game rules have changed. Google and Amazon control it all, and HP is adjusting to the changes. I don’t think it is nearly as profitable for HP as it was five years ago, and in response to that lack of revenue, money paid to writers has dropped significantly. Oh sure, there will be some writers who will say their income is up, but I think the norm is that writers’ shares are falling rapidly and will continue to do so.
I don’t think this is a problem HP can fix! Sites like HP will go the way of the dinosaurs sooner rather than later, I’m afraid.
Of course, I may just be full of b.s., in which case you can ignore everything I just wrote.
Trivia About Yours Truly
“Can you answer a few trivia questions? How did you come up with the title the writer's mailbag? Do you know how many questions you've answered (I'm guessing too many to count)? Does your beautiful, supportive wife Bev read your books and hubs? Does she have a favorite book? Does she write? Last, but not least, in your mailbag photo of your desk I see some small weights on the floor. Do you work out? (I'm just funnin' you. No need to answer that one).”
Lori, you cracked me up with these questions. Thanks for the prolonged chuckle.
I’m getting so old, Lori, and my memory so bad, that I don’t even know how I came up with the title of this series. Word association, I guess….mail…we’ve got mail….we deliver mail….mail in a mailbag…all for writers….that sort of thing. That’s how my mind usually works; one word will trigger ten-thousand more. J
I don’t know how many questions. Someone else asked that….figure five per week times 156 weeks…what’s that, 580? Sounds about right to me.
Bev does read my articles. She does not read my books, and there are a couple good reasons for that. One, Bev simply does not have time to read books. She works more hours than I do with two jobs, manager at both of them, so reading an entire book would be a luxury she simply does not have. The second reason, however, is because most of my books are dark, and Bev doesn’t do dark. She has a tendency to internalize too many things, and darkness really affects her. She read my first two books, “The 12/59 Shuttle” and “Resurrecting Tobias,” but she has read none of the “Shadow” series and none of the “Billy the Kid Novella” series because of their dark tones.
Bev still loves “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today.” I would say that is definitely her favorite, partly because the lead character, Sheila, was patterned after Bev, but also because it is a fun read which is filled with hope.
Does Bev write? She started a children’s book, “The Golden Dragonfly,” about five years ago and still has not finished it. Too bad because I really think it was, and is, quite good. Maybe someday she will find the time, and confidence, to finish it. Bev does not fancy herself to be a writer….but I beg to differ on that account.
Do I work out? LOL When I want to is the best answer I can give you. A part of me thinks “why bother at 68?” Eventually I’m going to have to admit I’m getting old and just give it all up. But then another part of me says “I’m not ready for the cemetery yet, so keep on keeping on, Bill.” So those weights get used when I’m in the mood. I have an advantage a lot of people don’t have: I won the DNA lottery at birth. I am only eight pounds heavier than I was in college, despite my many bad habits. I still eat like I was in college; I work out when I feel like it; but still I am in remarkably good shape. Go figure!
Fun questions, Lori! Thank you!
Also from Lori: “Hi Bill, I have a serious question and you can save it for another issue if you'd like. Do you know the rules/laws about disclaimers on Fiction work that says something to the effect that the story and characters are fiction and any similarities are coincidental? I often see them in novels. Do you use them?”
Here is a typical disclaimer which Lori is referring to:
- “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”
It’s a great question, Lori, one which the courts have struggled with for quite some time. Libel is rare in works of fiction. It must be proven in court that you intended to be defamatory in your characterization, and that’s a tough thing to prove. The use of disclaimers does not, per se, protect you from libel, but at least it gives your lawyer something to point to should you be sued.
And no, I don’t use them. My characters are such a mish-mash combination of several people at once that it would be real hard for anyone to prove I meant harm to one person in particular . . . which I have never meant to do anyway.
From Lawrence: “The questions and information here were really good, especially about Niume. I've been following the situation there, and the questions here and here's my question, maybe you can use it in the mailbag.
"If a site offers free marketing for your book, why wouldn't you post?" Let me explain. I started writing my first novel about 18 months ago, I serialised it here on HP, but it was the 'first draft' out here. About six months after it was published I heard about Niume, I wrote a few articles but realised within a week that payouts were a long way off. Then I had a crazy idea, why not put a couple of episodes out in Niume as 'appetizers' so I did, I got them in the right categories and now, every few weeks Niume sends out a Twitter message promoting the article, and by extension, the book. A quick read of the stuff on HP and Niume will show they aren't totally the same, one's a 'first draft' and one's an excerpt from the finished product, but my question remains, why not use the free marketing offered? To me, it's another way these sites can be used where both gain. By the way, the first installment on HP got about 150 views over 18 months. On Niume it's at 300 in six months.”
Lawrence, this is going to seem like a fast answer, like I didn’t want to spend too much time on it, but that’s not the case. The fact is I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t take free marketing if offered, so I say go for it. Perhaps I’m missing something here, and one of my readers will point it out, but my answer is yes, do it!
Indie Writer Marketing
From Olivia: “What is the best advice you have for an indie writer trying to sell self-published books? It’s a jungle out there, and the one book I have written has gone nowhere. What should I do to kick-start my career?”
My advice for you, Olivia, can be summed up in two words: keep writing!
I believe in quality writing, Olivia. I have not read your book, so I don’t know anything about its quality, but that’s always the first thing I say when this question is asked. You have to treat writing like the craft it is. Junk may sell once, but it will never sell again. Quality will continually sell over the long run, but it’s important to internalize the “long run.” Writing is not a get-rich gig where you write one book and then retire on its earnings. That only happens a handful of times in the real world. For every Harper Lee out there, there are ten million Harper Lee wannabes in any given year.
And then we move to marketing . . .and that’s its own bag of worms. You can market online through social media, you can follow any number of guerilla-marketing strategies, and then you evaluate to see what is working and what isn’t . . . then you adjust and move forward.
I’ve been doing this now for eight years and I’m just starting to realize some decent income from my books . . . and I have fifteen books at last count.
So . . . keep writing!
AND KEEP COMING BACK!
Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back next week with another Mailbag. Lori also asked for a different photo, maybe one of me at my desk writing . . . patience, Lori, it just might happen one of these days.
Have a safe 4th and a great week of living! Remember to support other writers. We need each other, and the love you take is equal to the love you make.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”