Funny about Money

Simple Living = Frugality = Peace of Mind: Personal Finance and Stress Control

July 28, 2016
by funny

New Book a-Bornin’

make-time-for-writing-tipsBelieve it or not, I have a new book in draft. And this is one that a) I wish to use as a tool for marketing the others and b) I suspect will sell smartly in its own right.

After watching the book marketing industry and testing its waters, I’ve come to think that probably the best way for a self-publishing scribbler to sell books is face-to-face. Person-to-person. Business to Business. That would be through a variety of speaking engagements in front of groups whose members might be interested in whatever one is selling, and by bringing the book to sell it on the spot.

Far more profitable, though, is helping others self-publish books. There are a lot of good reasons to self-publish — none of which include becoming a famous best-selling writer who makes enough on her genre novels to quit her day job. For example:

  • Many a manufacturer can use an informational book for customers or retailers.
  • Nonprofits and churches can raise funds with any number of books, whether they’re related to their mission or cookbooks for supporters.
  • A town’s history society also can raise funds and support its mission with a local or regional history.
  • A family planning a reunion might collect stories and facts about the family’s history and produce it, for the event, in book form.
  • Genealogy enthusiasts can gather all the dope on the ancestors and produce their findings in books to hand down to the grandchildren.
  • Doctors, dentists, and veterinarians can profitably produce patient information in book form.
  • Lawyers also put out books of client information.
  • A paperback or coil-bound book is a convenient way to gather and produce employee training materials.
  • How-to instructions, whether for workers or for people who buy products, lend themselves to book format.

The Copyeditor’s Desk is already doing just that: producing print-on-demand books for clients who want them for specific purposes.

So I propose to suggest this service to businesses and nonprofit groups around the city, by attending meetings where managers are likely to show up and explaining what they might have to say and how they can say it in a book. And why.

The subject of the current work in progress is why, what, and how to self-publish. In it, I argue that Amazon is a scam, just like all the other scams that exploit people who think they want to be a Writer with a Capital W.  The highest and best use of a self-published book is not as something to sell on Amazon.

Cobbled together from two blogs and a book I published some years ago, it’s already at 395 pages, and I still have a half-dozen chapters to write out of whole cloth.

LOL! I figure when some business owner or lawyer who covets a book to peddle his services sees a 400-page tome on how to do it, he’ll figure he’d better hire someone else to do it. Namely, moi!


Seriously: I had no idea I’d written so much on the subject! By the time I transferred content from the published book (which I’ve reused many times for courses and so had in PDF and even, in some cases, in Word format) and then added in as many blog posts from Plain & Simple Press and FaM, the thing came to over 460 pages.

Cut about 70 pages, but then had to add some content to fill in a few lacunae. There’s more material that I can cut, but I’ll need some time and space to think about it. But nevertheless, I’m afraid the thing will come in at right around 400 pages.

Whether that’s an advantage or a disadvantage remains to be decided.

Occurred to me to break it into several books. However, the Amazon experience at serializing Fire-Rider gives the lie to the conventional wisdom about spoon-feeding readers in baby bites. Three books = three times as much cost, three times as much work, and three times as much hassle to produce, print, digitize, and market. I really think I’d druther focus on trying to peddle one book than two or three.

 Of 66 chapters, 18 remain to be written or massively rewritten. Or maybe not massive; a few just need some edits. But even if I average all of one per day, that’s only 18 days of work!

Then another two days of formatting. In the meanwhile, I’ll be trying to hustle up some speaking engagements. Since it only takes about two or three days for Author2Market to print a PoD opus, I should be able to get it out in fairly short order.


July 27, 2016
by funny

Budget Grump

   So the Budget:

Not as bad as I feared, but not good. It’s the 27th, I probably won’t spend any more cash between now and the 31st, and I’m “only” $234.81 in the red.


That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t signed up for that drawing class, to the tune of $175, and then spent another $15 for a few art supplies to refresh the collection.

Also got a whopping bill from the accountant — but it covers several months of bookkeeping. And of course the utility bills are out of sight this month: over $400.

Essentially what it all means is that the budget is so tight, there is exactly zero (0.00) room for entertainment that costs anything at all. Ditto clothing, eating out, or any other indulgences.

There’s a slightly different way of looking at it, though, that leaves me in the black: I prorated the annual amounts due for insurance and taxes, subtracting the monthly figure from the monthly budget. Of course, nothing left the checking account for these amounts: they’re paid once a year. Monthly, those figures come to $543.

So…if you don’t add those in to the amount I actually live on, I’m in the black.

But if you regard it as money that’s out the door…then I’m in the red.

I figure the taxes and insurance have to be paid in any event. I get a set amount per year, not per month, to live on. So it’s a wash: if I subtract $543 x 12 ($6516!!!) from the annual amount available, then I would just end up with a monthly budget that’s $543 less than what I’ve figured.

So it’s the same: I’m $235 in the hole: in the red in six out of 20 categories.

Only $40 over budget for groceries; that’s not bad, since I cut $100 off the average amount I found I’d been spending over the past six months.

Managed to stay out of Costco all month.

Spent $160 at Amazon — that would include the composter, which undoubtedly comes under the heading of “unnecessary.”

But think of that: one small indulgence, to say nothing of two, and I’m underwater.

Oh, well. Life is short. Eternity is long.

July 25, 2016
by funny

The Next Big Project: A New Writing Book

So I propose to a new young editor at Columbia, a pup who doesn’t know me from Adam’s Off Ox (what’s an off ox, anyway?), that we should do a new edition of The Essential Feature. He gives me a brush-off. I think, eff you, you little twit, and lay a new set of plans.

This effing of him comes easily, because in the meantime some other plans are afoot. Pretty clearly I need to get off my duff, abandon the evidently futile social media, and show up in front of living human beings to peddle my bookish wares.

And what, yea verily what do I have to sell? As Jackie wrestles with masses of content at Plain & Simple Press, we realize that of several content categories, “writing tips” is a) the largest and b) the most appealing on social media.

By extension, I conclude, the large “writing tips” category of my blog and print content probably represents a convenient shoehorn into various public speaking opportunities.

One plan is to try to offer a public-service course for one or more of the community colleges — how to self-publish your own book. Something along those lines could also be offered at the local bookstores, which tend to offer various presentations, and quite frankly I’m very sure I can find venues coming out the wazoo without much effort.

And what do we need to embellish these dog-and-pony shows?

Why…another book, of course!

Come to think of it, I realized that between the more timeless segments of the Columbia book, two yakkity blogs, and lecture material for five courses, there’s plenty of material to cobble together a book about how to write, self-edit, and self-publish your own magnum opus. Yes. You, too, boys and girls, can publish your very own Great Novel (or Great Self-Help) (or Great Memoir)  (or Great Exposé) of the Western World.

Thanks to the “filter” function in WordPress, it didn’t take long to cobble together the skeleton of this thing. A few more hours and it was fleshed out, to the tune of about 85,000 words.

By the time the chaff is trimmed out, it should come to about 60,000 or 70,000 words, a good length for a nonfiction tome like this. I’ve been pouring the candidate material into one of Friedman’s Word book templates…am about 3/4 of the way done at about 43,000 words: 267 pages (so far) in a standard trade-book trim size.

Naturally, after weeks of nothin’ doin’, a new client shows up at the door, smack in the middle of this industrious little project.

He has 26 pages of abstruse academic copy written in, by his admission, darkest Chinglish. Needs it by the 29th. Just now in China it happens to be the 26th. He’s not paying much, but that’s OK: every little bit helps.

So tomorrow &  the next day will be occupied by that project. Good. Which reminds me…my other honored Chinese client owes me a grand. Guess we’ll be importuning her before we start on this guy’s project.


July 25, 2016
by funny

Discord, indeed…

PBS is holding forth about the discord and…dysphagia going on at the Democratic convention.

Remember that malign computer on Star Trek that was foiled when our heroes fed it mutually exclusive data? It melted down in helpless electronic cries of “Does not compute! Does not compute!

That’s would be me right now.

Oh, God. What happens when you find yourself agreeing with {choke! gagggggg!} Ted Cruz to “vote your conscience”?

How many people are not going to vote for Hillary Clinton over this Sanders scandal? I’m going to find it very hard to do so, and my feeling about politics is pure pragmatism. Whatever causes the least harm, let’s do that.

But dayum! Is there a “least harm”?

Good discussion on the PBS Evening News about the behavior of the Russians (this is not the first time they’ve been caught with their sticky hands in the post). Evidently Putin is manipulating, hoping to cause trouble for Clinton and help elect Trump.

Ohhhkay. If you can’t vote for Clinton, forgodsake vote agin’ Trump.