The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Seventeen
My Cup Overflows
We have a bounty of riches today. I could have broken this up into two Mailbags, but everyone was so kind about asking questions in a timely manner that I decided to just cram all the questions into one bag….so let’s get to it. There really are some great questions this week.
WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?
From Linda: “Hi Bill - My question is on how and when to stop writing that great novel. When do you know that you've said enough? Assuming that your characters are 'real' (they are to you, and should be to your readers if you've done your job as an author), when do you decide that the final chapter is indeed the final chapter? In real life there is never any real end--a time when you can just tie a bow on it and all the world's problems are gone. So in a well-told story, do you leave your audience wondering, reaching their own conclusions? I think one of the simplest and most beautiful examples of this is The Giver by Lois Lowry. There is no conclusion, just ambiguity and 'hopefulness'.”
Linda, what a great question this is. I wish I had a simple answer, but I don’t.
I write mostly series, so my stories never really end in the classic sense. I always leave the door open for another book and never totally tuck my characters to bed. But, in an individual book, it is always a good idea to bring conclusion to the main conflict, and also tie up loose ends with secondary conflicts (subplots) that you added to your book. I agree with you, in the hands of an excellent writer, having no conclusion can be beautifully done….but…that requires considerable talent, and I don’t see that much “excellence” in the literary world today.
So, for me, I wrap up all plots and subplots, add one final chapter to cool down and tuck my readers in for the night, and call it quits.
Now you owe me a pumpkin latte! LOL
Changing Hp User Name
From Christy Kirwan of HP in response to a question last week: “Hi Bill, Thanks for your email. To answer your question, it depends on whether her real name is her username that she signed up with or the name she placed in the "Real Name" field of her profile.
“If it is her username, unfortunately there is no way to change a username once it has been created, though she is always welcome to create a new account, move her Hubs, and close the existing account. Her Hubs will lose their history with Google which can cause traffic loss, but we still recommend this in cases where the writer is the victim of stalking or other situations where having her identity public may cause risk or harm.
“On the other hand, if she is referring to the name she has entered into the "Real Name" field of her profile page, she is welcome to change it to a pseudonym. We will still have the name on file that she included with her tax information, but we keep that private and never reveal that information publicly. She can simply edit her profile and change what shows up in the "Real Name" field to the desired name of her choice, and the name that shows up most prominently on her profile will change to the new one.
“Hopefully that answers your (and her) question and please let me know if anything isn't clear or if there's anything else she needs to know. :)”
It does answer my question, Christy, and I appreciate you taking the time to weigh in on it.
TWO ABOUT PUBLISHING
From Kailey: “Joy's question is one I can relate to. I know you aren't a fan of pen names, but I'm with her on this one. No offense, my friend. Speaking of which, since I am considering publishing on Amazon, and you know how opinionated I am, do you think it may be best to divide my work between my legal name and a pen name?”
Kailey, it’s a great question without a great answer. As soon as I give my opinion on this, someone will prove me wrong. I believe it’s always best to publish everything you write under one name, whether that be your legal name or your pen name. In a world of Google searches, I see no reason to further muddy the waters. Having said that, I’m sure there are examples of successful writers who have done both and done quite well, so there you go.
And now for Kailey’s second question…..
“I have been wondering about another matter. How does each author of historical nonfiction attain the photographs for their books? With all of the copyrights, I'm lost as to how it's possible, beyond paying enough money before the book has even been released.”
Photographs are protected under copyright laws, Kailey, just like writing, and that copyright lasts the life of the photographer plus seventy years. If a photograph falls outside of that seventy year boundary, then it is public domain. If it doesn’t, the use of the photograph requires permission from the photographer.
Copyright laws are specific and yet they have a ton of gray area, and courts are constantly re-forming those laws. There are four main considerations when determining copyright law: 1) the purpose of the use; 2) the nature of the copyright work; 3) the amount of the portion used; and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work.
Confused? When in doubt, get permission, but if the photo is old, and I mean really old, like some Civil War photo, don’t worry about it.
Back to Niume
From Buildreps: “I'm going to ask you a question about Niume if you allow me. :) When you subscribe on Niume you must choose some spheres, which I did. Then I wrote a small article, and had to choose for a sphere. I realized I didn't choose the right sphere for this specific article. I could not figure out how to add a new sphere to the already existing spheres. Have you any idea?”
It really is pretty easy, Buildreps. Go to the Niume home page right now and click on one of the spheres available near the top of the page, one you do not currently have on your dashboard. Once that sphere opens up you’ll see a link that says “join sphere.” Just click on that and you’ll have added a new sphere.
A DUCK BY ANY OTHER NAME
From MizB: “Now I have a question. When you write for more than one website, can you do different versions of the same subject? I notice that HP’s computers pick up language duplication, so it seems to me that a person might have a difficult time getting around that.”
MizB, it’s a question a lot of people have, so let’s try to clarify.
When doing similar subject matter, you have to make darned sure you are really, really changing up the wording. Those Google gods and HP computers are pretty good at spotting duplications. My suggestion, quite frankly, is to just not do it, or kill the article on HP and just transfer it to a new site, which brings us to the next question in the Mailbag…..
Back to Niume
From Genise: “I know you’ve moved a couple articles from HP to Niume. May I ask, do you think this does any good at all? What is the point of taking a low-volume article and reposting it somewhere else? Also, does this signal a slow moving-away from HP by you? I know quite a few people would be disappointed if that were to happen.”
I wish, Genise, I could put that final question to bed permanently, but I seem to be unable to do so. I’m not leaving HubPages! I love my friends there and I want to remain a symbol of support and friendship for them.
Having said that, if an article is dying a slow death on HP, why wouldn’t I want to move it to another site? What can it hurt? It can only help in my opinion. I’m offering that article to a new set of people, thus increasing the exposure, not only of the article, but of me as a writer.
I’m currently involved in four writing sites, HP, Niume, the Creative Exiles, and HitRecord, and I think that is a smart marketing and professional strategy.
DECENT PAY ON CONTENT SITES
From Rasma: “More interesting things I learned here and more things to take into consideration. Personally right now I love NIUMI time will tell how far and well I can go. Here is a question - are there any sites that offer content writers decent pay? I do content writing but at present I am not making too much. I love writing for three paying sites I am part of Elite Writers, NIUMI and myLot but I sure could use a site where I could at least make a quicker turnover and get paid say every week or so.”
Rasma, if there is such a site, I’m unaware of it. I wish I had better news for you, but I don’t. The very nature of content sites is that the site management will make a lot of money while the writers make pennies. Surely you’ve come to recognize that by now. I have had to push aside thoughts of making decent money on those sites, and concentrate on the thought that I am increasing my exposure as a writer and thus increasing the size of my professional platform.
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What’s Good or Bad?
From Audrey: “Question. My current total for page views is 1,913,306. I'm pretty close to 2 million and don't have a clue as to whether this number is 'good or bad' especially after 6 years of hard work. I'm considering jumping on board with another writing website in the hopes of bringing in more income. What's your opinion? (You can answer this in the next mailbag if you like.) Or maybe this question isn't appropriate. I'm beginning to get discouraged with the pay-out here on HP.”
Sheez, Audrey, you’re just beginning to get discouraged with the HP payout? LOL
Okay, I’m sorry I laughed, but that struck me as funny. I’ve been with HP for five years now, and I knew early on I wasn’t going to make much money at this online writing thing….but the thing is, Audrey, some people do quite well. I’m blown away that you are almost at two million views. I haven’t hit one million yet, so congratulations. Most of your articles are about singing, are they not? To me that’s a topic that should do well with search engines. In my opinion you’ve got two choices….either re-work the articles and repost them on HP, hoping that does the trick in increasing traffic, or delete them from HP and repost them on a different site, like NIUME. If it were me, and it currently is, I’d do a little of both. Take your worst HP articles, tweak them a bit, and post them on NIUME, or some other site. Leave the articles that do well on HP. See if that doesn’t help and again, congratulations on the two million views! I’m slightly jealous.
One final note: payouts and views have drastically increased on HP over the last month, so maybe you have Option Three: just hang in there.
Hey, you should write a book! LOL That’s a private joke between Audrey and me, by the way.
THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK
We are way over the word count for this week. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope you read them all because there were some great questions this week.
Again, if you have a question, either include it in the comments below, or email me at email@example.com.
And be looking for the next in my Shadow series, “Shadows Over A Hangman’s Noose,” coming out in November….just in time for Christmas presents. I’ll keep updating this on my website.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”