DEmonitized!

Well, I got that letter from youtube. The one that says “we changed our rules, and you no longer qualify, so you won’t be monetized after this month. But don’t worry, you have 30 days to meet the requirements.”

30 days? How do you get 900 followers in thirty days? Or all that watch time. For those who are close to that limit it’s good, hopefully they get there. For me, and little youtubers like me, it’s not happening.

On the positive side, I haven’t made any money from youtube. I’ve never had enough views, I don’t make content that often, so it’s fine, for me. Nothing’s really changing. For others…it’s not as nice. Youtube’s point is “they make less than $100 a year,” but I would be pissed if someone just decided to take $100 out of my paycheck every year. There’s so much that $100 could help with, a single bill, or a new camera or microphone. Hell, I got a $100 gift card for Safeway one year for Christmas and that made it so I could pay my bills without getting any late fees and still get food and gas. $100 is kind of important sometimes.

There is a positive side to Youtube’s change, this will keep a lot of the channels that re-upload other peoples content, and inappropriate content like Elsa-gate stuff from getting monetized. It will also move more ads to the large channels which is good for advertisers and the larger creators. On the bad side animators are, once again, getting the shaft, as well as any other person who makes occasional content. There will also be fewer people trying to get monetized because it’s really tough to get 1000 subs and all that watch time per year. There are people who will do it, and will thrive for it. There will also be a lot more of us who use it as just a way to connect with our followers, share a little of ourselves online. It’s another social media platform, and that’s about it.

Diversify, diversify, diversify! That is the mantra now. Has been for a while. If you are trying to actually make a living online you need to do more than one thing. Stream to twitch. Stream to youtube. Post to instagram or facebook. Make friends and followers, and help support other smaller creators so they can do well. For your own business you can make merch, like t-shirts on t-spring, or stickers on redbubble. Having a sponsor, or some other revenue outside of youtube itself. Youtube is more and more social media for small content creators, and that’s probably how it’s going to keep going. Especially since youtube only wants “family friendly” materiel to me monetized (unless you’re a main stream media outlet. CNN and NBC get monetized while smaller news channels don’t.)

Also, you know what would be nice? If people started sharing smaller channels they like, mentioning them in their vids or something, because it’s so hard to find good content on youtube anymore. The algorithms are so janky, they only show either the same creators I always watch, or vids from tv shows that are prime time, thus youtube wants you to watch them. They bring their advertisers with them, of course, and youtube wants a cut of that money. So please, share more smaller creators. Tell me who you like so I can see if I’d like them too. Tweet about them, comment on this blog post, or share them in a vlog, but I want to see some good content from smaller youtubers! I’d really appreciate that!

5min – Day 9 – Decluttering Begin!

Let the decluttering begin!

Today I started on the path o getting rid of half my things. I just cleared out my dresser in the bedroom, started washing and folding all the clothes, and getting rid of anything I don’t wear anymore. Well, except for a couple t-shirts I stuck aside because I love the design on the front, but they don’t fit. That will be a new blanket soon.

Then I cleaned the living room. I threw away another garbage can filled with random things I haven’t seen in years.

After finishing with the clothing I’ll have to start on my crafting goods. Paints, clay, beads, findings, fabric, and so many other things. I need to pear down to just what I will actually use, not what I might use some day. And considering the last few years and how little crafting I’ve done, that’s a lot.

On the other hand, I think I’ll be setting aside at least one day a week just to do crafting. I love paintings, beading, sewing, and various other crafts. And I’ve been doing more of them lately. I just bought a button maker, and I have sticker sheets and magnet sheets so I will be making all of those with the little drawings I’ve been doing. I think I’m going to fill up my etsy shop again, and maybe sell a few.

It will be a while before I actually make money from writing fiction. Well, I should say money enough to live off. Right now I do make some money, but it is just enough to pay for editing the next book. So I thought getting into etsy again might help pay for the editing too.

Anyway, my five minutes are up now.

FAQ: Making money

Question on reddit today: Just wondering if an income of $500 a month would be an attainable goal for an average self publisher.

My answer:

$500 a month is doable. I know several people who make more than that on average.

If you price the book at $2.99 that’s about 250 sales needed. If it’s at $5.99 that’s about 120 sales. That’s not out there in the realm of possibilities.

The trick is to write a good book, then white another one, and keep writing good books for a while.

I’ve been at it for two years now, but I’m a really slow writer so I only have two novels and a bunch of short stories out. I’m getting better sales all the time, but it’s a slow process. Don’t go in thinking you’ll make it big off one book. There are some lucky people who hit the market just at the right time, but the vast majority of us have five books in a series before we start seeing some traction.

What is it daddy?

Just saw this fantastic explanation of net neutrality by a nine year old:

My 9-year old son spends a lot of time online and recently came to me asking what Net Neutrality meant. I explained it the best I could. I just okay with current political events and he had a lot of questions. Had to actually look up some answers.

I recently overheard him explaining it to one of his friends, much better than I could, like this:

Pretend ice cream stores gave away free milkshakes. But you had to buy a straw to drink them. But that’s okay, because you still get free milkshakes.
One day you’re drinking a free milkshake and you look down and the guy that sold you the straw is pinching it almost shut. You can still get your milkshake, but it’s really hard and takes a lot longer.

So you say, “Hey! Stop that!” And the straw guy says, “NO! Not until the ice cream store pays me money.” And you say, “But I already paid you money for the straw.” And the straw guy says, “I don’t care. I just want more money.”

Source

Now if only we could get the GOP to understand this, of should I say to care more about this than the money Comcast is giving them.

Min wage for min work

I just had to share this comment from reddit because it was so well said.

The American economy is becoming less friendly to skilled workers. Look at many autoplants and other industrial factories. What 40 years ago was a workforce with many specialists, led by foremen who had risen from the ranks of those specialist workers, is being replaced by a workforce of generalists who work jobs further simplified to smaller individual tasks, are lower paid, not encouraged to specialize, and led on the shop floor by college graduate managers who never worked in the factory a day in their lives. Job training isn’t enough without the economic demand.

If you believe everyone should work a skilled job for a living, you have to either ensure that there are skilled jobs for everyone, or recognize that what you’re saying is “some people should starve despite their best efforts.”

These people are doing productive labor in a majorly profitable industry, yet are paid starvation wages. And that’s not just a problem for them. Taxpayers are effectively paying massive subsidies to keep these businesses functioning in this way. The largest private employer in the United States, Wal-Mart, costs taxpayers $6.2 billion per year in public assistance designed to keep its low-wage workers alive, according to one estimate. Wal-Mart also has a huge share of the food stamp market ($13.5 billion in sales in 2013), so they’re paying such shit wages, we have to give their workers benefits to stay alive, which they’ll likely need to turn around and spend at Wal-Mart for groceries, essentially allowing the company to double-dip in their massive taxpayer subsidies.

For McDonald’s, $1.2 billion of taxpayer money goes to supporting their underpaid workers, part of the fast food industry’s $7 billion annually. And they can afford better. The ten largest corporations were responsible for $3.8 billion in 2012, while making $7.4 billion in profits AFTER paying out $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders.

If we raise wages to a livable level, however, they won’t take it out of their profits and dividends. They’ll raise prices. That’s partially the greed of the executives, but largely the greed of the stockholders. Why park your capital in a company making 2% growth when you can move it to one making 6%? That’s just self-interest, and it’s the motivating factor for companies to squeeze costs, including labor. That’s capitalism.

Every time universal free-at-point-of-need medical care comes up, people bring up that it’s not *really* free because it’s being paid for in your taxes. Well, when you think about how cheap fast food is, remember, it’s not *really* that cheap, you’re paying for it in your taxes.

We’re spending billions of dollars of our money to prop up bloated corporations paying their workers shit wages so they can pump out shit food that is killing our people.

From http://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/comments/2uotqv/scumbag_mcdonalds/coal181

I’m a book snob!

A few months back I got an email from Amazon reminding me that the book I pre-ordered is now coming out. I was kind of surprised. I don’t generally pre-order anything. But I looked up the book and discovered it was the XKCD hard copy of “What If?“, and thought I probably ordered it for my son (since he’s very sciency) so I kept the order.

I love the book and I’m glad I bought it. Every so often I pick it up and just read a few of the questions for those bite sized chunks of science in a slightly funny tone.

Then there was “Choose Your Own Auto Biography” by Neil Patrick Harris, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” by Felicia Day, and “ASAP Science; Answers to the Worlds Weirdest Questions” by the guys over at ASAP Science. “The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. All of which are books I would love to read. All of which are books I don’t necessarily want to buy. At least not now at their price.

Most of these individuals made their name famous by doing things on their own. Felicia Day made a web series that is highly acclaimed on her own. ASAP Science is a well known youtube channel that they did on their own. Amanda Palmer has a fantastic music career that she became famous for ON HER OWN. And each of them went to a traditional publisher (or they were probably approached by the publisher) to do their book. Each time I heard this I was slightly disappointed. These well known figures who lead the “do it yourself” community … I guess I wouldn’t say they sold out, but they didn’t stick with the indie vibe that got them where they are today.

And I can’t say I fault the various authors for going with traditional publications. They get an advance, they don’t have to deal with editors, illustrators, formatters, etc, they don’t have to pay for everything up front. They just have to write it and hand it over and maybe go on some book tours. I get it, and I might even do it if I got a good enough advance (and liked the contract enough).

Besides the fact of losing their indie feel, there is the price of the books. $18 for print, $13 for ebook, and that’s with amazon’s discounts. “What If?” is a little older so there are used copies, but still… really? $13 for an ebook?

I think I’ve been spoiled having $2.99 to $5.99 ebooks. I look at those prices and think “If I buy that book that means I can’t buy the three other books on my wish list.” So they are sitting on my wishlist till the day they either go on sale, or I convince myself it’s alright to spend that much on a book. (Or maybe someone buys it for me for Christmas.)

Here’s the thing… I don’t even spend $15 on my video games very often. With Humble Bundles and Steam sales there really just isn’t a reason to pay more then $5 for most games. The few that I do get that are over $5 I wait till they’ve been out a while so I can see some game play, and hear some honest reviews about what the game is really like. I want to KNOW I will like the game before I ever spend the money on it. And the few AAA titles that were close to $60 when I bought them I had some hands on game time with before I ever purchased them. (Thank Star Wars Old Republic for that one. Bought it, hated it, and wasted $60 better spent elsewhere. Not doing that again.)

In an age where people increasingly have less and less money to spend on entertainment it makes no sense to keep pricing things at a premium all the time. (Especially things that are sometimes broken in the case of video games.) But as long as there are people willing to buy them at that price I guess it’s going to keep happening. I guess if I had more disposable income I would to.

What I Learned from Neopets

ponyI use to play Neopets every day. I’d log in, do my dailies, play some games, then do something else only to come back later in the day to play my favorite games again. I figured if I was going to play those silly little flash games I may as well get something for my trouble. That “something” was a digital pet with color patterns, digital toys, digital books to read, and hours of time… wasted. Right?

I do check in with my Neopets now and then. Now it’s more to waste a little time in between writing, or when I have a spare moment available. Usually my pets are starving when I get there, and they stay starving more often then not. But as I was playing today I realized there were some things about Neopets that reflected lessons I’d learned in my every day life. Lessons that a child playing Neopets could easily understand and use later on.

Buy low, sell high!

This could be a stock exchange commercial. But seriously, it works. It works when you’re buying supplies to make jewelry or trinkets to sell  in your Etsy shop. It works when you’re sourcing the paint for your canvas, or the fabric for your dress. It works when you are scheduling your time for working on your novel. Put in less money then you sell it for. Money includes effort, time, etc.

But remember, the first few are usually the loss leaders. You don’t make money on them, you make money on volume. So don’t out price yourself. Realize that you probably will have to settle for breaking even for a little while until you manage to gain a following and some fans, and then you can go hog wild and make a living.

The more stock the more sales

This was the one that got me thinking about this article. Neopets gives you your own shop where you can sell the digital items you’ve gathered. I was filling up my shop, setting prices, when it dawned on me: the more items in my shop the more likely I was to have sales.

It wasn’t just that my shop would be more visible because I was more likely to have the specific item someone was looking for. It was the fact that the more I had in my shop the more people might just find my shop organically, and the more spur of the moment purchases they might make. Even if the prices were high. Even if they didn’t necessarily want that copy of “Babaa Care”.

It’s the same with my own Amazon store. The more books I have in there the more likely I am to get a random customer. The more likely he is to just pick up a couple of things instead of just one while he’s there. It works with other types of merchandise as well. Who goes into a shop that only sales milk? No, we want a store where we can get eggs, bacon, and cheese too. So give your customers what they want. Create more things for your shop.

Work a little every day for the best rewards.

A big part of Neopets is the dailies. Every day you can go to a website that has a link to all the dailies, or you can remember them. I preferred the websites to start with, though few of them listed all the daily activities you could do. Each activity gave you a new item, a few neopoints, or an avatar. Each one got you closer to the million neopoint mark in your bank.

But this applies to the real world as well. Every day, adding a little bit to your art, or writing, or music.. every day studying or going to your day job. It all adds up, little by little, till you have something to show for it. It’s just another reason for me to write every day, even when it sucks. Even when it’s hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Neopets often add items that are limited time, or seasonal. They change games, update areas, add and subtract things. Everything changes, both online and off. Nothing lasts forever. And one of the things you learn in Neopets is that it pays to collect those things that are limited. Just like comic books in the real world. If only a few people can get them, or if they disappear over time, then they slowly become more valuable.

Gambling doesn’t pay.

There is a bit of controversy around the gambling available on Neopets. They have their own version of the Lottery, and scratch cards. You rarely win. In fact you make more money from scratch cards by selling them in your shop then you do by actually scratching them off. Other things, like Poogle Racing and Keno allow you to pay in money, but rarely pay out. Thankfully it’s all neopoints, but you get the picture.

The virtual doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stay virtual.

Some time ago Neopets added real life items to their catalog. Plushies, console games, wearable, etc. Working in digital media as I do with books this is a great lesson for me as well. Digital items shouldn’t always stay digital. There should be some branching over to the 3D world. What if I made a plushy that I could sell? Or a poster? Or wearables? It’s a great marketing strategy and makes the real life and digital life closer to each other because you have something you can touch and feel on this side of the screen. What’s more, they always gave a digital item with the real world item. Tokens, free items, and digital merch to go with the plushy you bought. These items were FREE for Neopets to give away, so it made sense to add value to their real world objects by having digital items go with it. As a writer/artist/etc you can do something similar. Add QR codes for free books, or digital backgrounds. Give something digital away with every real world purchase. At the very least a free (or greatly reduced) ebook with every print book.

I’m sure there are more, but I am too tired to think of them.

In app game purchase! Grrrrrr!

I went to goggle play looking for a new, interesting game and saw a list of half off games. I’m okay with paying a little bit to own a game and play it whenever I feel like it.

But no, this wasn’t 50% off to own a game. This  was 50% off in app purchases. Because in app purchases make more money.

You might think I’m pissed off at devs for doing this, and you’d be slightly right. It is annoying as F to get interested in a game and really enjoy it only to get half way through and run out of  “energy” or have long ass wait periods for certain things to load. Even worse; power-ups that cost $1 each.

But no, it annoys me far more that people will actually spend $20 or more on Candy Crush on in app purchases, making this a viable option for devs in the first place.

Candy Crush had over 300 levels. If they split the game up into 50 levels a piece and charged $2.99 for each game package, with chances to win power ups, then I would totally buy it. But I’m not their demographic. The people they want to play their game will spend hundreds or even thousands just to solve one more puzzle.

It seems like more and more games are turning to in app purchases.  Thankfully Google now warns you before you download a game. I rejected 20 different games because of the in app purchase tag.

Sadly they don’t tell you what kind of in app purchase is available. If it was a purchase for an expansion, or for new skins I’d be okay with that. It’s pay to win games that really bug me. Or pay to have an enjoyable experience.

Just put a price tag on your game as a whole instead of doing in app purchases!

Who deserves the money?

A few days ago, Jim C Hines released his yearly statement on pay from traditional publishers. In response, Michael J Sullivan made this statement:

I really applaud Jim’s commitment with sharing income information. Back when I was unpublished I remember getting incredibly depressed after seeing his posts and the survey done by Tobias Buckell[1] about income and science fiction/fantasy writing.

I think it is important for people to understand just what the economic realities of this business are…

Nowadays I have a bit of a different perspective…I’m angry. Angry that someone like Jim could sell not one, not two, but three novels in a single year and still make, why I consider to be an incredibly small amount of money for the amount of work required to do so.

I’m angry he has to fit his writing around a day job. I’m angry that after 18 years and nine novels with one of the major imprints he’s made $33,598.19 last year and $60,800.

That’s just a part of what he had to say, and I admit, I agree with him. The major reason I don’t plan to go back to traditional publishing is the fact tat the royalties suck. A lot of the time you get an advancement, and never actually earn out for one reason or another, so you never get another dime. Plus you can’t go to Amazon, or B&N and see how many books you sold. You have no control over price, or sales. And if you want your rights back… well that’s not happening either.

But, I think placing all his anger on the publishing company is out of place.

How long have we had self publishing available? 70% royalties from Amazon, and we get to see everything. We have complete transparency, and ability to adjust everything the way we like. Not only that, but it’s been proven that you can make money that way. That you can gain fans, and become a best seller. That it is possible to do well, and that a hybrid model (publishing books in both traditional and self publishing) is the most effective way of getting your name out there, and getting paid.

And Mr. Hines doesn’t bother with self publishing.

To expect traditional publishing to change very quickly, after it’s been growing in momentum for the last few hundred years, is unreasonable. It’s like a train barreling down the tracks at high speed. It has a lot of weight behind it, and it is going to take a lot of force to stop it.

We, indie publishers, have added a lot of force to at least get them to change direction a little bit. They are bringing down some prices. They are starting to offer better deals to some of their writers, like letting them keep ebook rights. But it’s going to take a while to figure out the balance between traditional publishing and self publishing.

Ultimately, the power is in the hands of the authors. We can choose to go traditional, or we can choose to self publish. We have to weigh the cost and benefits for ourselves. Being angry at the traditional publishers for their lousy deals is like being mad at a train that won’t stop on a dime. They have only as much reason to change as we give them.

I’d also like to say we will probably be discussing this on The Self Publishing Round Table this Thursday at , so if you are looking for an interesting discussion of this, and other relevant topics, you should check that out this week.

Tales from the Used Car Lot

image

Let me just preface this with… I knew better. I did it anyway. In a way, I deserved it. But it is still irritating as F%*!

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I started out on our day off. We were going to Tandy for some leather, and on the way out of the driveway we stopped at the mailbox. I wish I hadn’t.

In the mail was a large flyer for a used car dealership saying “Come in and claim your prise!” I scratched off the box, and of course it said “$750”. Not the $5 gift certificate to Walmart that most people got.

I read the entire terms of the contest, and the only thing I could find that said it might not be $750 was a little part that said “we will check your code against the billboard in the office, and if it matches you’ve won.”

$750 was a lot of money. It’s an entire paycheck for me. It would have bought all the presents I’d been dreaming of getting my kids, and a the tablet I’ve been so desperately desiring. I could already imagine it. And all I had to do was go check some code, and maybe… unlikely, but maybe… I won it.

So we went to a used car lot.

Now, let me just say that I avoid used car dealerships like the plague most of the time. The last time I stepped on a lot it was only because my car died, and it would have been thousands to fix it, so I decided to get a newer model, one that would last a while. And I didn’t do too bad. My car was only $5000, and it’s been three years since I got it. Most of the issues wrong with it are just regular wear and tear that you’d expect when a car hits 130K miles.

So when the dealer sat us down, and gave us his pitch to buy a car I was only half listening. My car was “okay”, but I wouldn’t have minded a newer, model if they had one in my price range.

He got my info, took it to the banker, brought it back with good news… I could qualify for a loan if I found a car I liked.

Here is where things started to turn south. I was, at this point, ready to get the $5 gift certificate and leave. But, of course, they want to sell me a car if they can. So he asked what my price range was. I told him $150 a month, fully expecting he would say “that’s not possible” and send me on my way.

He comes back with a set of keys, ready for a test drive. I asked him “How much” and he said “the banker handles that, he’ll tell you when we get back.” Red flag one.

The car drove pretty nice. I really liked it, but I knew as I was driving it that I could never afford something that nice. Too bad, I’ve always wanted something that nice.

We get back to the dealership and the guy asks for my keys so they can check it for a trade in, and walks off. Red flag #2!

The manager comes out and tells me the car is $20,000, only $400 a month. Red flag #3, and I’m done. After scraping my jaw up off the floor I say “That’s WAY more then I said I was willing to pay. I think we’re wasting each others time, I’ll just take my keys and go.”

“No, no, no,” he said, running his hands through his oily hair, and smiling so big I could see every tooth, “just tell me what you think you can do, and we’ll work on getting closer.” Asks me how much I would be willing to spend per month, again, and I tell him at the very most… $200. Not a penny more.

He comes back 20 min later with another offer. With my trade in, he’ll give me the newer car for something like $18000, and only $280 a month.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

My boyfriend shows him the Kelly Blue book of $12,000 and we both tell him he wouldn’t be able to get a dime more then that with or without the trade in.

He goes through the numbers again, with and without trade ins. With extra down payments. Etc. Etc. He tries to convince me to try one more time, and I put my foot down and tell him I don’t care about trade ins or anything, if the price of the car isn’t less then $8k then it isn’t happening. Can I please have my keys back I’d like to go.

Then the car dealership financer comes out. She explains “what a great deal this is”, and how lucky I am to get this 5% interest rate. No one ever gets this interest rate. and “YOU QUALIFY, it’s already been approved. The bank said you can afford it.”

I very politely tell her she is a fucking idiot. No, not with those words, but that was my sentiment.

I did tell her that I didn’t care what the bank said I could afford. I knew my finances. I was the one paying my rent, utilities, and for three kids, not the bank. I would be the one getting expensive full coverage insurance because I had a financed vehicle, not the bank. And I CAN’T AFFORD IT! And I didn’t know why they were showing me that car in the first place since I told them at the beginning I couldn’t afford more then $150 a month. Now, can I have the keys to my car. (For those keeping track, that’s the third time I asked for keys.)

She tried to explain that getting a loan for $150 isn’t possible. That’s not how banks work. I called her on it and said she was straight up lying. I know it’s possible, I did it before.

She finally…. FINALLY…. gave up. Almost.

They brought me my keys, but tried to show me another car that was more in my price range.

The car was ugly, beat up, the paint scuffed and oxidized. My cute little red ford focus looked beautiful compared to that car.

“No dice,” I told him. “Your sales crew is slimy, and underhanded. They flat out lied, and tried talking me into something I couldn’t afford. I wouldn’t buy a car from them if they were the last dealership on earth. I’m going to Craigslist from now on.”

Bait and switch. Any car dealership that does bait and switch isn’t worth a second thought.