Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yuwie has doubled in membership this month

Looking at the membership figures for Yuwie today, I noted that Yuwie had added 65,218 members this month bringing the site up to 105,151 members. Not bad for a month.

Sure there has been some growing problems; I don't think that the owners of the site expected it to grow this fast--otherwise they would have had a bigger server to start off with. There are moments when the site moves sluggishly, but I figure that they will catch up eventually.

The jury is still out whether it will be a good social networking site, on par with MySpace and Facebook. I think it might get there. I am still not holding my breath on making any direct money from the site, but I do know one writer who has made some indirect money (sold copies of her lulu book) though there.

I plan on posting a shout-out there when my next lulu project is ready.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Where does it become self-employment?

Continuing on the same track as yesterday's vent, I think that one of the reasons that people do not respect the schedules of writers is the simple fact that they do not consider them to be actually working.

Sometimes this is just because people do not know how hard working a writer actually is. They think that we only write when the mood stucks us, and that the muse takes care of it all. They forget about the chores of revising, market research and getting the muse to show up in the first place.

(There is language I would like to use about that last part, but young impressible minds might be present. For that matter, old impressible minds might be present, not to mention those who would instantly condemn me for using such language. I am not sure what the muse might think about it--I have never asked her--and it is not like she doesn't already know my opinion.)

The perfect illustration of how hard the average person thinks writing is lies in the party trick of announcing that you are a writer. Note the comments you get, the average person thinks being a writer is glamourous. It is glamourous provided that you consider hanging out at home with your cats, cursing the gods for making you a writer, and staring at a blank page glamourous. Personally, I don't. I consider grave diggers to have more glamour in their existence than the typical writer.

Oh yes, there are writers who go to parties, rub elbows with the Dali Lama, and have security guards. The closest thing I have to a security guard is the neighbor's dog. Bottom line is that I am not J. K. Rowling, or any of the other writers that the patrons of the shopping mall can name off the type of their head.

(I dare the gods to give me that type of fame--I promise to use it wisely and only say nice things about the state of the United States government or whatever the pet peeve of the day is.)

Plus there is always someone at the party who will walk up to you and offer to share a great book idea with you if you give them fifty percent of the proceeds. Obvivously, this is someone who does not realize that writing is hard work (having the idea is the easy part) and believes all writers are loaded. Fortunately, most people seem to realize that writers live off of ramen noodles which unfortunately illustrates my next point.

People don't seriously think that you are working unless you are making money. And a lot of money. By IRS standards, I am self-employed. To everyone else, my income is too low to consider me anything other than an unemployed college student. My work schedule is spent goofing off and avoiding real work as far as they are concerned.

Take my wife for instance (I call her my wife due to common law and the fact that I won't put up with this from anyone else--ahh, isn't love grand), today there was that conversation that ran along the lines that she was making $400 a month (working twenty hours a week) while she was in college the first time. Therefore she doesn't consider me gainfully employed until I hit that mark.

It makes me wonder if she would hold that stand if she knew that I was considering becoming an adult webmaster. The pay is better than I make as a writer. And they do seem to get invited to better parties. But would she be willing to call that gainful employment no matter how much money I was making? I doubt it.

In the end, I guess all that a writer can do is continue to grind one's teeth. That and stand on a corner begging people to buy your books. As for the respecting of one's work schedule, I suggest insanity--after all, it does seem to work for the bums downtown.

Friday, September 28, 2007

And Frankentrailer is still here

And we have hit a wall. We can't find a ven-number on the trailer, nor do we process a title to it. So Frankentrailer will continue to sit in my driveway rusting for several more weeks. Gary can't drive it away until he gets the paperwork (DMV) and a new license plate on it.

Toni is going to have to call her dad to see if she can get a title from him.

Gary is still going to take it (though he is going to have to rent a trailer for the current job). On the bright note, we did get everything out of it; Gary just needs to come by when the paperwork is complete to haul it off.

So today has cost Gary three hundred in lost income and one hundred and fifty in expenses, besides costing me a writing day (which is worth who knows how much--call it twenty dollars) and some high blood pressure.

I should note...

I should note that getting that trailer out of our driveway is worth the inconvience that it is causing me today. It is not this incident that irks me; it is the practice of not asking me if I can pencil in this matter that irks me.

Respect my work schedule

One of the problems with being a writer, especially a freelancer, is the general lack of respect for my work schedule that is exhibited by others.

Now some of my schedule problems this semester were of my own creation, and were the result of me planning based on best case scenario. For instance, when picking my classes this semester I scheduled an hour and forty-five minutes between two classes (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Originally, I planned on doing some writing between these two classes.

Three things has changed this plan.

The first of which was that the Auraria campus library in an effort to crack down in the homeless camping out in the library is requiring that you reserve a computer in advance. All public libraries (Auraria is a Federal library) in Denver are doing this. Given the fact that the class I am getting out of is Martin (Marty) Sabo's Microeconomics, it is occasionally difficult to figure out when I am leaving class. And considering that you are only allowed to use the computers for one hour--well, it is just easier to do other things during that time period.

(*The phone rings, and Morgan ends up walking outside to look at something*--an illustration of what he is talking about today as you will see.)

So I have chosen to do the occasional bit of homework, and errands during this little slot of time. The errands tie into the second thing that happened. Toni, my wife (common law), decided that she was going to go back to college. She is aiming for a Masters in Spanish to suppliment her skills as an art teacher. Due to this, she is swamped with homework, and many of the errands which were normally ran on the weekend are now being done during the week. This second part ties into the gist of today's blog--just wait.

And the third thing that happened is that one of my class mates from the philosophy class is also free during this hour and a half. Somehow, we have became friends, and generally agreed to set aside any thought of homework and other matters unless they are urgent. A lot of our discussions end up being about philosophy and reading, so it ties into school and my writing. I am willing to pay the opportunity cost of a Helium article a week to chat with someone.

At least, it was a mutual agreement to divert this time into friendly discussion. And so, we end up back at the second thing. Thanks to Toni being back in school, I have ended up running a lot of errands that should being done on the weekend. *sigh* I have lost track of the number of bank runs that I ended up doing for her.

The sad part is that it started before the semester did. And it illustrates completely my gripe of the day (too bad it happens so often that it is a common gripe among writers), the general lack of respect that people have for the work schedules of writers.

At the root of it, I think that people consider freelance writers to be unemployed. While I am beginning to make a steady tickle of nickels and dimes, it is not large enourgh to convince Toni that I am working. Occasionally, I whine that I could be making thirty thousand a year and she would still consider me unemployed. I firmly suspect that unless the job involve being on someone else's payroll and working in an office downtown that she will consider me unemployed.

It is a sore point for me. Especially when I have penciled in a day of writing, and it ends up being wasted on errands that I can run because I am "unemployed." Even when she is home, she just generally presumes that I am doing nothing. If she was home right now, despite the fact that I am typing at the computer, she would have no problem with interrupting me.

I am not allowed to do this when she is throwing pottery (a part time business she does), nor can I bug her when she is doing homework or paying bills; her concentration is sacred, mine is not.

And it is not just her.

Today is a prime illustration of this. Yesterday, one of Toni's friends called to ask if he could borrow the trailer that we have. I said that he could borrow it if he helped me unload the stuff that was being stored in the back of it (primarily ceiling board for the studio's ceiling). I wanted to do it this weekend, instead I end up doing it today. There was no asking me if it was good timing for me or not. Fortunately, I didn't have any hot projects, or overdue homework to hack out. But it distrubs me. Especially because he is also self-employed (locksmith, mechanic and general handyman).

What makes his profession rate higher in the scheme of things? What makes his schedule more important than mine?

I don't know. It irks me.

And other writers that I have talked to are also irked by things like this.

I have no solutions for the problem. I know that someday it will become a major issue for me.

In my case, I know that the emotional side of the problem comes from my childhood. My mother used to consider her schedule and needs more important than anything that I needed to do. A large part of my bad grades in High School can be contributed to the fact that babysitting my brothers and sisters were more important than me doing homework or showing up to my first class on time. I am programmed to put everyone else's need before my own.

But it is not right that I do so. Nor is it right that others expect me to do so either. Yet it happens all the time.

I beg all of you to respect the work schedules of writers. Especially mine. If you need me to change my schedule--ask, don't impose.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Forgotten Word of the Day: Pettifog

Today in an email, a friend of mine was complaining about someone trying to build up their Helium downline (their Craigslist ad said earn up to $250 a day--the best earner there I know only makes a thousand a year, and he has a lot of articles), and mentioned that someone was pettifogging. It is a word he picked up from the O'Reilly Factor.

Being the lover of words that I am, and never encountering this word before, I reached for my dictionary--actually two of them.

The Thornton-Barnhart Comprehensive Desk Dictionary (1952) said--

Pettifog: carry on a petty or shifty law business.

And Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (2003) which is the size of a cider block added--

Pettifog: to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.

Webster also noted that the term had been around since 1570.

Looking it over its definition, I think that this term is due for a comeback. Let's be honest--the internet is full of this type of behavior. People are lying about the profitability of various sites, and one needs to take a grain of salt whenever one reads a webpage, whether it be an ad, a news report, or someone's blog (in the case of any of my sites, I suggest two grains of salt--don't worry your blood pressure will thank you later).

So let's go out there and use inflict this word on other people--remember to save a word, it must be used.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is it unethical to loan out books?

Ok, today I was on MyLot goofing off. And I read a posting about how this woman was told by her friend that it was unethical for her to loan her neighbor a book that she brought. Please note that the woman saying this wrote the book in question.

And here I was about to loan a book to a fellow philosophy student on Monday. Hmmm, I never pondered the ethics of loaning books to others before. If it is unethical to loan a person a book (and the ethics here seem to be concerned solely with what is good for the writer's wallet), then there are a couple of other questions that we need to ponder.

For instance, is it ethical for a college student to buy an used textbook? Or should they have to buy a new one no matter how high the prices on them go. (Gee, we wouldn't want to rob the poor publisher of their money--who cares if the student has no grocery money.)

If it is unethical to loan a book to someone, what about all the books that have gone out of print? Should a writer (or their publisher) be allowed to let a book fall out of print? If it is unethical for a person to loan a book to someone (or to buy an used copy for that matter), is it ethical for a publisher to quit printing copies of a book?

For me, the whole idea of it being unethical to loan books, and to borrow them, not alone buy used books is ridiculous. I hear the sound of a cash register as the voice of ethical reason. Business as the guiding light of ethics, it makes me shudder.

To illustrate how silly this is let’s look at a different product--used cars. Is it unethical to loan someone your car? Is it wrong to buy or sell an used car? If it is allowable for used cars, why not books?

In my experience, people are going to pass books hand to hand, and heavens knows I have brought enough used books in my lifetime to fill a small storage locker. Two of the textbooks I am using this semester are loans, and half of the others were brought used. Look at the shaky ethical ground that I am on.

And when I did my Lulu project (it was a modified Golden Dawn ritual) I put a six dollar royalty on it because I figured that the book was going to meet a photocopier. I figure that only one person in a lodge was actually going to pay the book, so I jacked up the price.

(Was that ethical? Maybe. Maybe not. There are some who would argue that I should have PDFed it and gave it away for free--Golden Dawn being considered a spiritual system--just too bad that I like to eat occasionally.)

I think this person has no clue what ethics really are, and no clue about the word of mouth advertising that working writers depend upon. Look at the success stories that the publishers talk about--the one that surprised them--what do they have in common? People talking about the book, and quite possibly loaning it to others--it is the root of success for a writer.

But maybe they are right; maybe it is wrong that people are not paying their own copies. And maybe we should burn down all the libraries while we are at it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Some stuff is going to have to wait...

Some of the stuff that I need to do is just going to have to wait because I am too tired to do a proper job of it. Sorry for any inconvenience that this causes anyone. I was so tired that I almost fall asleep in class yesterday, this is how tired that I am. And the announcement that I had to send to the BT membership and the creation of the one poll (concerning the mass meeting in November) proved to me that I need to take the day off--yes, it was that bad (I rewrote it three times before getting it right, or at least acceptable).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Political talk

Well, today I am off to attend a speech. Roy, my political science teacher, is encouraging us students to attend such things. I am all for the extra credit. And maybe I will be able to cobble an usable article about the speech afterwards. *crosses fingers*

Note to oneself 1

Is there such a thing as an agnostic, liberal terrorist?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another social networking site to watch

One of the other social networking sites that I am keeping an eye on is FriendsWin. It is currently in prelaunch. The company behind it are going to be giving out a slice of the pie to those people who help advertise it, getting people to sign up. This should promise explosive growth.

Much like Yuwie should be promising in the long run for getting word out about our work, FriendsWin is promising for being able to get the word out about one's latest material.

It promises to be better than Facebook, and MySpace in the fact that you have to be eighteen or older to sign up for it. Which occasionally is important to me as a writer--sometimes I write some racy stuff.

So I am encouraging people to join both sites, even if they are not good at gathering referrals; they should both prove to be useful as the foundation stones in our campaigns to advertise our writing.

To join FriendsWin, click here.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pursuing the happy buck--focusing on the best approach

Today, I was reading a lot of complaints about Yuwie. And a few people hyping it. (This was occuring on MyLot.) All this got me to thinking.

The ones who are in favor of Yuwie are those who are good at getting referrals (they know that they are good at it), while those who are not good at "networking" are looking at the payout and saying that it is a rip-off.

Now, I can see both points of view. After all, I am of two minds about everything. It comes with the blood--bad upbringing and all--mom was the type of person that the only way to accomplish anything without her messing things up was to make it look like you were up to something completely different.

I also have some economics classes and ten years of restaurant management under my belt, besides having been trained to take over dad's business when he retired (things went bad, hence my working for myself). So it is easy for me to see both sides.

I can see, based on my own numbers that I will need about a million payviews to hit the fifty dollar payout on Yuwie. So a little over 208 years at my current pace.

On the other hand, the site doesn't have as many members as MySpace--though based on my stats there and on nettribe, I doubt that I would ever succeed just on page count.

There is also the fact that if one can get enourgh active referrals that a lot of the earnings would come from another source.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at getting referrals or being a salesman. For me, Yuwie will probably never earn me a payout.

But there is that whole social networking thing--just like MySpace--as a writer a good networking site is worth something to me. So I will probably stick around Yuwie and do the occasional blog about stuff, including the rare link to one of my current bits of writing.

Which brings me to my point--yes, I had a point in mind--people should stick to what they are good at when focusing on the happy buck ("the happy buck" was something an afro-haired painter used to describe the paintings that people would actually buy). For those who are good at getting referrals, they should stick at that. Those of us who have other skills, like myself, should stick to those things that we do best.

And we really should let say "live and let live." Each to their own. No forcing one another to adapt to the other's approach fo making money.

So in my case, I should stick to the paid to write sites--Helium mainly for me (my luck with Associated Content is not the best) and other types of freelance writing. Now, there will be some that say that I will always struggle for money if I take that route.

That idea is ignoring one of the truths about being a writer. Half a writer's income should be coming from royalities--ask the professionals and they will tell you that your upfront for the year should match the amount of royalities (residuals) that you made. Half of my time is spent on making money upfront, the other half is spent building up my stock of royality based material. It is just another form of doubling your money, through not from interest or referrals.

In fact, those of us who are good at producing good content need those who are going to build up membership in sites such as Yuwie and Helium. On my own, I will never generate a million hits without an audience. But with some people driving people to the site, I might. Ok, it is a real long shot, but hey it could happen.

So my basic opinion is that each of us should focus on our strengths when it comes to trying to make a buck. That is my opinion, and I am sticking to it.

Join Associated Content

My Helium Page.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Worked on the lodge's website.

After not being able to access the lodge's website for a couple of days, yesterday the problem was fixed. I am still not sure whether the problem was on my end as LiveOffice insists or whether it was actually one of their servers that was down.

Let just say that the tech support emails were less than helpful. The first response was supposed to have an attachment (a jpeg) as proof that the site was still there--it didn't. The second response merely sent back what suspicously looked like the screenshot of the "Server not found" that I sent them. And if that is what they really pulled up when they tried to view my website, then they were in error telling me that it was viewing ok.

Either way, I am beginning to understand what Frater MTO says about LiveOffice and its parent company Microsoft. If it wasn't the best webpage that the lodge had at the moment, I would agree completely with him.

Of course, the reason that I consider it the best of the set--there are about a half dozen others, all free pages--is simply that we are getting lodge applications through it. You wouldn't think that it would be this hard to locate people interested in Golden Dawn in the Denver area, but it is. So any site that people can actually find in google is better than the ones that no one can find.

Now that I could get to the site to work on it, I did some work on it today. Added a couple more pages from the Z3--one of the core Golden Dawn documents--including the section on the Sign of the Enterer. It was only a couple of hours of work, but hey I am making progress.

If only I can get the second coat of paint on the new Enochian Tablets, and finish my homework and the article I am doing on Mabon, then this holiday will be golden (so to speak).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Outage continues

Well, according to OfficeLive, they can get to the website just fine. In the meanwhile, I cleaned out all my cookies, and shut off all of my protective software, and still can't get to the site. Last time, I checked the message "Server not found" meant that the server was not found. It is not how I wanted to spend my birthday weekend.

As I said before, sorry for the inconvenience (unless they are right and it is just me having the problem).