Productivity, Profitability

Still having trouble with staying focused. I feel like I’m not productive enough, almost daily. Things are getting done; the podcasts are all running on time, I’m doing two or more Art Walks/Fairs/Detours a month & I’ve painted a dozen new paintings since the first of the year. I’m even blogging semi-regularly, which you already know, reading this. But I could be doing more.

Yesterday I only did three or four hours of audio work, and even though I know I worked on other things, it feels like I didn’t get anything done, since it’s harder to tally the hours and to quantify what’s work and what isn’t. Does Twitter count? Reading publishing & other blogs? Blogging? It’s all part of connecting with people, with building an audience and building myself as a “brand” and educating myself about what’s going on, what’s working, and driving ideas forward. So in a way, yes. Then there’s the oft-repeated idea that everything an author does and experiences is a sort of reasearch for future books; this is somewhat true, but feels like a sort of excuse.

In addition to feeling that perhaps I’m not being productive enough, I also think a lot about my not being profitable enough. Even with the reduced up-front costs of doing business the way I am, not a single one of my books has even reached break-even, yet. The art, comparably, has been doing great – not bringing in enough to live on, but if not for the cost of going to Tools of Change in New York (ie: if not for a big, extra publishing expense), I’d already be profitable this year on art sales alone, with only bluer skies on the horizon. The margins on the art, even with prices basically cut in half & then frozen since 2004, are great – not just in money, but in time. It takes me hundreds of hours to produce a book, and somehow it’s harder to sell a copy of the book for $14 (or less) than it is to sell a painting (that took me less than 10 hours to create) for $150.  Lately I’ve been creating a lot of “Mini Paintings”: 8×10″ for $20, 5×7″ for $15, and 4×4″ for $10, right now.  Most of them are done in under 1 hour of work (though admittedly, some have taken up to 3), and they earn me as much as or more than a book does, usually without having to try to sell them at all.

Obviously, the art sales can only scale to the limits of my creativity & time to produce original works – I’m not sure what the upper limit is, but perhaps dozens a month. Certainly not hundreds.  Whereas the book sales can scale without proportional extra work on my part – Lightning Source prints however many copies people order, whether it’s dozens a month or thousands.  If/when I “hit it big” the books will quickly win in this regard.  Not to mention I can sell a book more than once, and without doing prints (something I am currently opposed to), I can only sell an original work of art once.  So it takes orders of magnitude more work to produce a book, but I can keep selling it over and over again forever, instead of just once.

If only my sales numbers were orders of magnitude better.  Did I mention not a single one of my books has yet earned back the costs associated with its production, yet?  That’s with $0 value associated with my time, no less.  Which is to say: if I were more productive (of books), I’d perhaps only be digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole.  Being more productive of art is good, but when I really need to figure out is how to be more productive of profitability.  I need to produce more book sales.  That’s a hard one.  The podcasting thing is meant to be helping with that – it certainly puts my writing in front of a lot more minds than everything else I’ve been doing, even if it is for free, right now.  Something approaching five hundred times as many people have downloaded Dragons’ Truth from than have purchased a copy of the paperback (not counting sales to family) – that’s a huge multiplier.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it hasn’t translated directly into interest in my other podiobooks or in sales of my paperbacks or eBooks.  Gotta keep it up, though.  Gotta keep working on it.  Gotta get back to work, right now – I’m supposed to be editing together next week’s episodes of Forget What You Can’t Remember, right now.  Gotta go.

Dragons’ Truth eBook updated

The kindle version of Dragons’ Truth, my All Ages / Young Adult novel, has now been updated to look a lot better than what has been there for most of the last year.  It took about four hours to go from the source document to a well-formatted kindle version, this time – I’ve got a pretty functional “workflow” now that I think will continue to serve.  I should probably write it down.  (It certainly didn’t hurt that Dragons’ Truth is >50k words.)

In addition, Dragons’ Truth is now available through Smashwords in all the formats they offer (and directly to your iPhone or iPod Touch through the Stanza app).  Going from the kindle version to a Smashwords version I was happy with took about 40 minutes.  It would have been 20 minutes, but I wasn’t happy with how the Chapter headings were coming through, and I had to switch to my PC to get the result I wanted.  Some difference between how TextEdit and WordPad handle .rtf files means that as picky as I am, I have to do half the formatting in one and the rest in the other.  Very smooth.  No upload problems, formatting came out as expected, go have a look for yourself.

Four books down, three to go.  (Not counting the poetry.)  If they all go as easily as Dragons’ Truth, I’ll have corrected kindle versions and Smashwords versions in as little as 15hrs’ work.

It’s 5AM.  I’m going to bed.  Tomorrow: no eBooks work.  Podcast work, instead.  Night.

little ‘o this, little ‘o that

I’ve been feeling a bit down, lately. Getting things accomplished is somewhat more difficult in these emotional doldrums.  I’ve been feeling disjointed and unfocused, often even conflicted when it comes to how to proceed with my individual stories and pieces of art.  But I’ve got a bit done.

I put Chapter 1 of the Dragons’ Truth audiobook up at

I added a link to over at, and re-arranged the page a little.

I’ve been waffling for the last week or so on exactly what colors to use for a piece I sketched out, but I spent a few hours working on it in Photoshop last night, pre-visualizing various color schemes, and came upon something which should be both in line with my original thoughts and interesting to look at.  I threw the first coat of paint on it tonight:

coat of black paint

I also started and finished another painting this week.  I’m calling it “things i’ve lost“, and I’ll post later with more images and information on making it:

things i've lost

Yes, that’s my hair.

What else?  Hmm…  I’ve uploaded Dragons’ Truth to twice now; I’m told it should go online Monday.

Oh, and I’ve been Plurking a lot lately.

First Video Promo for Dragons’ Truth

First, I want to start by saying that at the end of the video, there is a lie.  Or, as they say in the business world, a “future-looking statement.”  I say that Dragons’ Truth is available as an episodic download from – I have been too afraid, so far, to submit it there.  I don’t even know how long the process will take, from submission to getting online.  And even though I’ve read through all the documentation at least twice, the stress/fear-of-failure/fear-of-rejection I’ve been experiencing re: the whole thing has apparently made me feel like I don’t even know what to do to submit it.  Bleh.

But it is available in paperback, and as an audiobook on (MP3) CD.  And I got the packaging in today for the multi-disc audio CD sets.  Now I just have to wait on the new printer (which can print to MUCH smaller margins) so I can print the covers & inserts for those sets, and I’ll put them for sale, and this whole video will be true.

And yes, I’ll probably embed it again when everything in it is true.  I’m sortof just testing YouTube and my ability to make and post videos, right now.  This is my first attempt.  Yes, I looped the audio.  Yes, I know it’s a bit off.  I’m sorry.  Kill me.  I can’t afford a shotgun mic or lapel mic right now, and haven’t worked out a setup for my condenser mic that I feel safe with yet, and which looks okay on video.  I suppose the alternative is lip-syncing to pre-recorded audio, but … that’s a bit weird, too.  What do you think?

To Do list for today, 5/12/2008

(in no particular order)

  • Shave
  • Make breakfast
  • Record Dragons’ Truth Promos:
  • — 30sec audio promo (35 seconds)
  • Cancelled: — 30sec video promo
  • — 60sec audio promo, incl. Ep.1&2 teaser
  • Added: — 60sec video promo (I’m still finishing up onthis, but it’s recorded)
  • — 60sec video promo, incl. Ep.1&2 teaser
  • — 60sec audio promo for Ep.3
  • — 60sec video promo for Ep.3
  • — Video reading from Ch.1 (<5mins)
  • Check on ASU re-admission/FAFSA (FAFSA received, transcript not yet, check later in week)
  • Look at submission guidelines
  • Upload basic audio promos & new outro to Podiobooks Mentorship forum
  • Fold clean handkerchiefs
  • Put together tithe ($5 short – get more cash before next Sunday!)
  • Pay April taxes (business) (State paid – need to take $1.34 downtown for City Tax, because they don’t allow online payments yet.)
  • Print First Friday balance sheet
  • Do necessary filing (piles of stuff on desk)
  • Recycle old Canon printer
  • Look up how-to re: Bookkeeping, online
  • Write followup letter for 4 First Friday contacts –  mail paper letters, if possible
  • End of day: Shower

NOTE: Most of these are small, fast things.  There’s no real reason I can’t accomplish everything here in 1 day.

Oh, and I’ll come back through and strikethrough items I’ve completed, periodically through the day.  Too bad making this post wasn’t on here.

Items completed, not on original list:
  • Blog about to-do list
  • Take out the recycle / to the curb
  • Calculate Biblical figure timeline from Adam through Israel, verify Adam died before Noah was born, Noah was still alive when Abram(Abraham) was born, Methuselah died AFTER the flood, and if I did my math right, the flood lasted negative two years.
  • Murder my neighbor for blowing leaves around his yard with a gas-powered blower at 11AM, whil I’m trying to record promos for Dragons’ Truth.  Seriously; do your yard work on the weekend, man!
  • Make dinner (bleh – not good tonight)