Proofreading and Writing Services – Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Hi, my name is Lawrence, and I’m a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  If you clicked on this page, then you are probably interested in my proofreading services, or at the very least, wondering what I can do in regards to the written word.  Let me first tell you a little bit about myself and this website.  Many people know me as an author of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror), and my name is pretty synonymous within the small press.  I’ve been writing for well over fifteen years, and I have an extensive publishing history.  Think of this site as a sort of virtual resume of some of my previous work, upcoming work, and publications.  Not just the services I provide, since I consider myself a working writer.  I’ve been called prolific when it comes to writing short stories and informative when it comes to magazine articles.  Wherever I go, any social media platform I visit, people tend to say, “Oh, Lawrence Dagstine, he’s that Scifi/Horror writer.  Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

This is me, hard at work for you.

Unfortunately, it’s a label I’m stuck with—because I chose to enter that field and write in that form.  You see, as a child I grew up to movies like Star Wars and Aliens, TV shows like Doctor Who and The Incredible Hulk, and I read Marvel comic books and digested good science fiction literature (no, great!).  Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, you name it.  I read voraciously! I lived around the corner from a Forbidden Planet and was practically there every day.  I did book reports on lengthy Stephen King novels in 2nd and 3rd grade, and was the head of the boys in reading and writing in my school district at the time (the 1980s).  Years back my IQ was tested and I got a score of 150 (teachers called me gifted).  I even delivered prescriptions to the late Kurt Vonnegut and, for a brief period, became friends with him and he a sort of mentor to me.  So reading and writing, especially genre, has always been in my blood.  But I prefer to be called a Freelance Writer because I work with words in general.  It’s what I studied.  Not just fiction.  Genre fiction is pretty much the “fandom” side.  And it is very hard to make a full-time income writing fiction, as most genre writers are paid a pittance.  I’ve known writers who got their BA or MA, thinking they were going to write the next literary masterpiece or appear in The Paris Review, only to become editors or teachers.  They weren’t delusional, they had the confidence, their hearts were in it, they just dreamed a little too high is all.  Even I dreamed high once, then my first client base involved writing and proofing pamphlets and instruction manuals.  So you really need to expand your writing skills to other areas, other venues.

Now if you’ve written something that you feel needs improvement, but don’t know how to go about fixing it, ask yourself a few questions… Have you ever had trouble with words like ‘further’ and ‘farther?’ Perhaps verb usage? Do you know the difference between their/there/they’re? Did you know that words like ‘never mind’, or ‘any more’, or ‘all together’ are not compound words? They’re all two words! Does your story have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Plenty of conflict? Because something has to happen in your story, and something has to be resolved.  The first sentence means more than you know, because it’s the first thing the reader sees after the title and byline.  It’s what immediately draws the reader in.  What about non-fiction, or product placement, or a cool advertisement? Maybe you have an idea and want somebody to word that idea a certain way, where it can potentially become a moneymaking vehicle.  Maybe you need help creating or formatting a resume or cover letter, want to stand out from the rest of the crowd when it comes time to apply for that killer job.  Need a catalog done, or a brochure, or a catchy slogan? Need some minor ghostwriting (query)? Textbook writing or editing? Essays or proposals? Striking web content for a business or organization? Help with a novelette or novella? What’s that? Want me to write you a Western Romance? Okay, I’ll write you a Western Romance.  You’re the boss.

No matter what it is, if it involves words, I can probably help you.  My publishing history consists of over 400 fiction credits in print magazines, webzines, anthologies, and miscellaneous periodicals.  My non-fiction consists of 150 credits, online and offline, for small and medium circulation newspapers, trade journals, regionals, and everyday magazines in need of good filler.  I’ve penned video game reviews in the past for Nintendo Power and written greeting card jingles for Hallmark’s competitors.  I’ve written articles on the paranormal, pharmaceuticals, beach erosion, Native American spirituality, theology, historical subjects, marriage, divorce, pets, vacation spots, real estate, wrestling and more.  I’ve shared tables of contents with two Hugo Award winners and two Bram Stoker winners.  I can do just about 75% of what’s out there.

Still in doubt? Well, ask yourself these 12 sample questions.

Do you know how to assemble a story arc? Do you know what character development is? Do you know what a three-act and five-act narrative is? Are you familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style? Have you ever referenced the work of John Gardner (On Becoming a Novelist, The Forms of Fiction, The Art of Fiction)? Do you know the difference between literary and mainstream? Do you know what structural analysis is? Have you ever studied English Literature—authors like Graham Greene, Truman Capote, EM Forster, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the like? Do you know what proper manuscript format is? Do you know the difference between filler and feature article? Do you know how to write a pitch? Do you know the difference between a plot formula and a plot device? Heck, do you even know what I’m talking about?

If you answered no to five or more of the above, then it wouldn’t hurt to have me or some other qualified individual as your proofreader/editor.  Because I will only improve your fiction or non-fiction project, and only to your liking.  That is what I do.  I work with words.  Think of me as a sort of literary engineer.  I check for errors, make corrections, do any necessary research, and make your prose more persuasive.  I assist you in getting it the attention it deserves.  I develop fresh, innovative, and compelling work.  I drive constant voice, grammar, format, and diction across all text.  I know that your project is your baby.  It was birthed from your imagination.  But you must be able to take criticism and suggestions.  It will only help your project stand out from the rest, and help you get better.  What I am not is a copy editor.  A copy editor is an entirely different animal.  Copy editors usually work, or have worked, for publishing houses.  And good ones (not the kind you see for these run-of-the-mill small presses, who also publish their own books with the same company).  They do what’s called line edits.  They review your manuscript and send it to you with revisions in a program like Microsoft Word.  I do NOT do line edits.  Yes, I am certified in editing, but there is a great difference between a workshop certificate and a staff editor with more than 10 years experience at one of the big houses.  Yes, I have a background and education in journalism, creative writing, technical writing, and the business side of writing that could very well meet your needs.  Yes, as a proofreader I will go over your manuscript a minimum of three times, acquiring your voice and style.  Yes, I will print out your story or article, take a red pen to it, highlight certain areas I feel should be highlighted, and tell you what I think.  Yes, as your proofreader I will pay attention to the usual stuff like grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and sentence structure.  But I am not a copy editor.  I’m being honest here.  Even I use an outside editor for lengthy projects.  Because everybody needs a qualified editorial eye.  After all, how can you successfully edit a work that came from your own subconscious mind?

Difference between copyediting and proofreading:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-difference-between-copyediting-and-proofreading/

Difference between copyediting and line editing:

http://publicizeyourbook.blogspot.com/2007/04/difference-between-copy-and-line.html

A copy editor will usually charge you by the word or line (I charge a flat fee).  They often do book manuscripts, and make up what’s called a style sheet.  If you’re looking for one, personally, I suggest looking for someone with at least three years experience.  Also, be careful of line editors posing as copy editors, as they can really screw up the flow of your manuscript if they don’t know what they’re doing.  This has happened to me.

Once again, I charge a very affordable flat fee.  Satisfaction guaranteed.  On a budget? I understand we’re still in a recession, the economy may very well not be good for years to come, and because of that, I am willing to work with you.  I expect at least half the cost of the project at the beginning of our agreement.  You are to pay me the other half after the project is finished.  Our email acts as a sort of electronic contract, if you will.  Research or additional time spent on projects (like staying up all night and losing sleep to meet a deadline on your behalf), costs extra.  And no, not an arm and a leg.  You are responsible for the cost of things like encyclopedias, visual aids, books purchased on Amazon, transportation places, or other reference materials.  I fact-check well, and I give citations where instructed or needed.  I do great copy—print copy! I’m not the kind of lazy individual who just looks something up on Google or Wikipedia.  Google is one of the worst reference tools you can turn to.  That’s because you usually find more than one answer to a particular question.  A long time ago I was commissioned to do a short article on Planned Parenthood in the new millennium.  I needed abortion statistics.  I found eleven well-rounded, informative sites by using Google.  The only problem is I found eleven different statistics.  So which was the right answer? For your project, if I have to go to a library, then so be it.  To the library it is.

I put in the time and effort to make your project as professional as possible.  I am proficient in Microsoft Word and Open Office (sorry, no crappy programs like WordPerfect).  I can give your project the treatment it deserves, and if you feel it needs work or you are not fully satisfied, I will tailor it to suit your needs at no additional cost.  I want you to be happy with my work.  I want you to succeed.  You retain all rights.  My name does not go on your written material.  I merely spruce it up.  So do you have something that involves the written word? Send me an email today for a free evaluation or price quote.  Give me an outline of your project and what you’re looking for.  Tell me about yourself and the work you do in three to six paragraphs; small businesses and companies most welcome.  If you want, I’ll even give you a freebie.  Three double-spaced pages for fiction (or 1,000 words); a half-a-page for non-fiction (150 words)—absolutely free! Have a fax machine? Want more proof emailed to you? Press clips always available upon request.  And I do simple typing too!

So contact me today, tell a friend, because no project is too large.  All material should be sent as an attachment.  I look forward to our partnership and any questions you may have.  Contact: ldagstine @ hotmail.com

Sincerely Yours,

Lawrence Dagstine

Speculative Fiction Author/Freelance Writer & Editor

Proofreading and Writing Services

Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin

Other New Entries: “Proofreading Services”

Lawrence Dagstine: “400 Publishing Credits…”

 

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” 

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

 “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lawrence Dagstine

Short Stories * Novelettes * Digital Stories

Magazines – Periodicals – Webzines – Anthologies – Kindle

Other New Entries: “The Dude” – Biography

Author’s Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald… The Great Gatsby… One of my ten favorite authors.

Lawrence Dagstine: “How to make $5000.00 from writing…”

*HOW TO MAKE FIVE-GRAND IN YOUR SPARE TIME FROM WRITING*

An Essay by Lawrence Dagstine

This conversation always seems to come up whenever my name is made in passing in certain industry circles, regarding that “Prolific Hack” Lawrence R. Dagstine.  This time it came via Facebook a few days ago by a person we’ll call Chubbs.  Congratulations, Chubbs, you are now a character in my upcoming, racially provocative, cyberpunk novella, MAURICE AND THE URBANITES.  All with good intentions, Chubbs; I won’t kill your character off.  If there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s helping other writers find markets for their work.  However, I think it is important that all housewives or househusbands, part-time tutors, teachers or students looking for extra cash, has-beens, wannabes, bohemians, panderers, starving artists, prose-driven lushes, pain-killer popping poet laureates, and yes, even young technical writers who need reminding pay heed.  Or if you’re smart, can program yourself to type methodically, but find yourself currently unemployed.  So let’s start this off right…

Publishing Clip/Magazine Tupperware No. 2 of 4 - Yes, I own four.

Hi, my name is Lawrence.  I’m a hack writer who made roughly $5000.00 in 2009 from the written word.  Cash.  Mojo.  Bling.  And I’m going to show you too how to make this kind of money over a 365-day period; have checks and payments coming in regularly in this tough economy; samples on how to get writing gigs and become a fiction writing machine in your spare time, and the difference between quantity and quality (in my opinion).  As a trench-writer since the late 90’s, with close to 400 magazine and webzine credits, and in this current market, this is how I perceive Quantity and Quality.

QUANTITY = The Possibility of Fast Money and Brief Popularity.

QUALITY = The Possibility of Immortality and Elegance of Prose.

Author’s Note: With the above, your mileage may vary.  But both can exhibit a certain level of professionalism.  I’ll also get to the novelist a bit more later on.  Everything I put down here in the meantime is from firsthand experience, acceptances, years of observation, and generally whatever else worked for me concerning the written word.

I think everybody pretty much knows by now that I submit to a LOT of half-cent to three-cent per word paying markets.  I often have a minimum of 20 to 40 different short stories and novelettes floating out there at any given time, and so should you; with reprints, once rights have reverted back to me, sometimes as many as 60 fiction markets.  There’s one short that I’ve sold over seven, eight times already.  These are often called “Trunk Stories”, stories which have already been published and are just sitting on your laptop, can be dusted off, and sold again after many years.  And I’m not including small non-fiction gigs, which rely mainly on published clips, actual “print” periodicals, or through connections/recommendations one might have through freelancing or journalism.  That’s a whole other ballgame.  If you want to make some kind of extra cash with short stories, you need to write plenty of them! Like one or two per week, then build up a hefty folder over time.  This is a must! It won’t be an overnight thing.  Oh yeah, and expect to get a boatload of rejections.  But I think every writer and his or her grandmother is aware that it comes with the territory.

At the same time, I truly believe that while the written word is the written word – by that, I mean whatever you manufacture from your keyboard – within short story writing and novel writing there exists two very different breeds of writer.  Two very different thought process patterns between both of them.  Even though, over time, it is essentially the hardworking novelist who will round up the most funds.  One is taught to submit to nothing but the highest paying markets, because there is this invisible rule, and everybody should adhere to it.  Because we should better ourselves.  Start at the top, work your way down.  Maybe go to Clarions or Borderlands or a similar writing workshop, and attend seminars where you can sit down with actual New York Times Bestselling Authors.  Excellent philosophy.  I’m for it one hundred percent! I’ve been told to submit to nothing but five-cent per word markets, otherwise throw your story away.  I’ve had writers tell me five cents is an insult and submit to only seven-to-ten-cent per word paying markets.  And there was the one old-schooler who said submit to only ten-cent markets (yeah, and out of the thousands upon thousands of genre writers, statistically we all know there’s a ton of those out there).  I wouldn’t dare say keep that piece sitting in a drawer, especially if you believe in it.  Submit it! Still, at the same time we can’t forget that some levels of writers do it for the sake of paying other bills, no matter how big or small that earning from writing may be: it might help you fill up your gas tank, it might help you afford air conditioning this summer, or even pay your mortgage or credit card.  For some the opportunity is out there (on both levels); for some, not in a million years because they might not know what to do or how to go about freelancing or how to utilize reprints or how to get into the “Writing Habit”.  Personally, I could give a damn about immortality.  I live in the Here and Now, therefore I must eat, think, and survive in the Here and Now.  That’s my philosophy.

Basically, have a secondary income coming in on a fairly repetitive basis.  Checks and Paypal payments flying in every week to two weeks.  The same way prolific novelists receive royalties by the quarter.  Two very different breeds of writer, in my opinion.

Example 1:

On one particular day in September 2009, I opened up my email to find seven paying acceptances in ONE DAY – nothing big, nothing exorbitant – and I’m not a full-time writer.  That’s my current record, by the way.  In December 2009 I had another four paying acceptances in ONE DAY.  That’s eleven paying short story acceptances right there.  In only two days out of 365.  Now, out of those eleven acceptances, who am I to say no to $25.00 checks, $50.00 checks, $75.00 checks, or even a $100.00 check, which might turn out to be a 2-cent per word story which just happens to equal a Benjamin Franklin? Especially if they’re rolling in constantly! Unless you’re already established, you never say no to Benjamin Franklin.  Benjamin is your friend; Grant ain’t so bad either.  A 2,000-word short story to a professional market equals the SAME hundred dollars.  Not to mention I can probably name three or four other prolific short story writers who have me beat with the numbers above.  And while Benjamin and Grant are your best friends, they can do more than just get your name and work out there.  In this current market and economy it can pay for things.

Here’s another example from December 2009.  The publication in the link below, which has been around eleven years, I often get acceptances from.  I’ve even helped improve their exposure and circulation a bit.  They pay me 1-cent per word for material.  The two accepted stories in this particular entry, to be released this year, are 6,000 words in length each.  That equals $120.00.  Over a period of twelve months, it adds up.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/12/21/nova-science-fiction-spring-2010-eight-acceptances/

This recent story acceptance below is fairly long.  It took me one day to write this story.  The creative juices were flowing.  The check from it will pay for one gas bill.  Still, if you want to pay more than one bill, you need to have at least 40 different short stories floating out there for you.  When rejections come in, send the stories right back out.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/02/10/aoifes-kiss-35-december-2010-12th-acceptance/

Once again, that $5000.00 was from part-time writing, not full-time.  This came from short fiction, short non-fiction, selling Dagstine mags and wares in Coney Island, small leads and gigs on places like Craigs List to resume writing (www.craigslist.com).  Let’s throw in a little off the books proofreading for people advertising simple jobs from foreign-speaking countries (e.g., gigs I had for Denmark and The Philippines).  You can charge these people a fee in the low hundreds just to edit their manuscripts or fill their technical and business writing needs.  Always charge less than what the Writer’s Market suggests for these jobs; work with your clients, they’ll use you again or recommend you to others.  That’s how resume writing fell into my lap.  It doesn’t matter where you come from: if you understand English, have Internet access, and enjoy typing, anybody can do this… ANYBODY CAN DO THIS! So what if it isn’t entirely fiction? Now I’m building up an entirely different kind of portfolio in the process, something I would never have done or thought of, say, five years ago.  I’ve written under such names as Lawrence Davis, Lawrence Roberts, Lawrence Hewitt, and in the science fiction arena, Lawrence Dagstine.  The list goes on.  I even wrote a porn story once under the name Nabudi Sun (this was for kicks).  Plus, the freedom of this also gives me the time to write more genre fiction, which I enjoy and grew up on.

SAMPLE FOREIGN / FREELANCE LINK: http://manila.craigslist.com.ph/wri/

You ever see that show, DEAL OR NO DEAL? Hosted by Howie Mandel? He comes out on stage rocking his baldy, a woman with a silver briefcase hollering and screaming at his side.  The audience is cheering on.  The woman is given the option to pick briefcases and go for a six-figure win.  Let’s pretend that the contestant is a writer, and that this game show scenario applies to writing.  Very rarely do people get that six-figures; shit, some times they don’t even score five.  Howie Mandel will call upstairs and one of the producers or whatever will make an offer.  It might be $6,000, $8,000, or $10,000… Do yourself a favor, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN! Don’t wait around for a half-million dollars.  Because, in traditional publishing, six-figures ain’t happening.  $10,000, sure, why not.  I can figure that.  Pay your bills and have fun with your peers.

Example 2:

You know, when you think about it, $5000.00 equals an advance on some novels, which might take you a year to write and then an additional 18 months to be released.  There’s no guarantee the book will sell, the agent you have will keep you or you will keep her, or that you’ll be the next big thing.  Your book may sit on a shelf for what seems like an eternity, or be sent back for a refund.  Or, in the end, have its cover torn off.

You have to remember, writing is a starving profession.  Freelancing is quick cash.  Thanks to it, I sell most of my works a minimum of three times each.  Thanks to it I have heat and hot water, a full refrigerator, electricity and gas, copays on prescriptions covered, clothes on my back, toilet paper to wipe my ass, diapers on my kid’s behind, and all other bills and necessities besides a rent firmly paid.

But, I understand.  Even though you realize that genre is a lottery, with one in every 10,000 to 20,000 truly making it BIG, you aspire to be that New York Times Bestselling writer.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Dreaming big is a part of life.  Sometimes those workshops or classes, however, are pricey.  With round-trip airfare, hotel and food, you could be talking $2000 just to attend! Freelancing, in the fashion mentioned above, can PAY FOR THAT PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP… It can help you afford these writing camps in what is a truly reserved economy.

In the end, it’s all about enjoying what you do.  The storytelling aspect, and of course, entertaining your readers.  Listen, you don’t have to stay in this little shell your whole life because some organization has it hammered out that way or because people have inferiority complexes (such as Chubbs).  What good is a writer who ends up worm food from lack of finances? I think that at a certain point, you have to come out and set up your career the way you feel most comfortable with it.  Remember, only you are responsible for your own destiny.  Only you can carve out a niche for yourself, thus turning it into your own reality.

Until Next Time,

Lawrence Dagstine

Lawrence Dagstine: “Christmas Time 2009…”

For the 2009 holiday season, I decided to update my blog homepage and fill my fans and followers in on some of my gifts and achievements of the last twelve months, along with what to look out for and what will be under the x-mas tree this yuletide season (for the little one).  Regardless of the last year-and-a-half of dying markets and a bad genre economy, 2009 still managed to be my best year in the “earning” department, where I doubt I will ever be able to rival 2007 in the quantity and material department.  Some of these achievements range from smaller press and semi-pro fiction acceptances, minor proofreading, non-fiction writing and essays, resumes, my first official short story collection being released, my first Kindle title being released, making over 2000 friends and followers on Facebook, and just a lot revolving around the written word and The Spirit of Christmas.

Isn’t that a beautiful Christmas tree? The lights flash blue and white.  Progress-wise, this year I had very little time to blog/plug but got a lot of acceptances (some straight through 2011), let go of a lot of reprints, wrote 26 BRAND NEW short stories, wrote 8 BRAND NEW novelettes, wrote four unfinished novellas between 15,000 and 30,000 words in length — which I may make available on my blog to read next year.  I mean, why let good stories go to waste.  Or maybe I will get around to editing and finishing those novellas.  I have future eBooks & Kindle titles on the horizon.  I realized that, money-wise, it doesn’t pay to release a second short story collection.  I can earn more individually.  I was shortlisted a couple of times by some decent pubs, made second readings, almost made it into 4 professional level magazines/venues.  And that’s just the fiction department.  Oh yeah, did I mention the steampunk and satire offers?

Below you will find pictures of just half of this year’s gifts.  It’s mainly a Cybermen-themed Christmas this year, with David Tennant regenerating into Matt Smith and all.  And my son is now a Dr. Who fan and absolutely adores The Cybermen (he’s scared of the Daleks).  Oddly enough, he’s also more a Christopher Eccleston fan.  One of the items I searched the UK high and low for was The Cybermen Age of Steel 4-figure collection.  Collect them all, open up the packages, and you can build a fifth figure.  The Cyber Controller.  I also picked up The Next Doctor on DVD and ordered a Cyber Leader Voice-Changing Helmet to seal the deal.

Some of the other gifts, which are already wrapped, consist of model kits with glues and paints from my old man, though they say ages 8+ and 12+ on the packages.  So I guess the little one will have to hold on to them until he’s old enough to understand them.  Those are made by Revell.  There are also Bob the Builder videos.  Believe me, Doctor Who wasn’t the only stocking stuffer.  There are some other wonderful toys and gifts ranging from Super Mario to Toddler Costumes to Spongebob Squarepants-themed games, and, like last year, play food items.  Like “make your own pizza.”  The Spongebob game in the picture below is actually Connect Four, but obviously for a slightly younger age group.  Then there’s the one last-minute gift I just couldn’t put down.  The paint job was so realistic.  It reminded me of the Super Powers Action Figures of the 80’s.  Remember those? The Justice League of America Boxed Set: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.  These figures are mint and pristine! And who doesn’t love the JLA?

Now that’s a big ass cup of coffee (by the way, that’s made of metal).  Just couldn’t resist.

In a reduced and very affordable fashion, I also treated myself to a few early-season gifts.  First, notice the non-fiction book above on Pompeii.  You got it.  It’s research time.  Lawrence Dagstine will be coming your way sometime in 2010 with a story set in Pompeii.  It could be before Volcano Day, it could be after.  It could be Alternate History or not the story you’re expecting.  But you know me when it comes to Historical Weird Tales.

Also, I can’t recommend enough WEIRD HISTORY 101 — published by Falls River, and if you’re a B&N member, you might be able to get it reduced now for $4.00 — in hardcover.  This tome is sooo awesome.  It’s like a mini factbook and reference tool for the writer, and just all around interesting to own.  If you’re a writer of historical tales, alternate history, steampunk, or period pieces, trust me and go to Barnes & Nobles and get this book.  Doesn’t matter what genre.  Author is John Richard Stephens.  You won’t find these kind of facts on Google, or between the pages of traditional historical reference books.

And if you look up above, I finally have a new computer desk.  Nice to have shelving and a drawer, but still unsure of what to fill it up with yet.  Now that the little one has gotten older, the bookcase units pretty much belong to him and his toys.  Now that I have a Kindle, most of my print books will be donated.  Those I wish to keep will be locked away in storage between two households (yeah, there’s that many).  But that desk above is situated in a new corner, it’s my new workspace, and it’s where I’ll pen that Pompeii tale for you Dagstine readers when the time comes.

With that said, I’ll probably only update this blog four more times before the New Year.  Stay with me in 2010.  We have many adventures to go on together, and much awaits.  Won’t you join me? To all my fans and readers…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Other New Entries: “About Me”

Lawrence Dagstine: “How to Make Money at Signings…”

“HOW TO MAKE MONEY AT BOOK SIGNINGS”

dagstine-merch-1

AT OUTDOOR EVENTS & FOR THE INDEPENDENT/NEWBIE AUTHOR

by Lawrence R. Dagstine

A lot of people have been “hinting” recently on places such as Facebook and via email looking for advice.  They want to know how I did it.  They want to know how to make money selling books and magazines at functions and signings, especially if you’re an independent/newbie author.  As many people already know, I came out of a series of signings at Coney Island, New York this past summer with a decent intake on such titles as FRESH BLOOD (see Books & Anthos), and more.  Writing is pretty much an extra income field for a majority of us.  Once you learn to accept that, and not depend on fiction or look forward to fancy six-figure careers, you find your comfort zone.  The checks that come in repetitively or non-repetitively may pay for such things as utility bills, groceries, little odds and ends in places like Rite-Aid, CVS, or Walmart, co-pays on prescriptions, dinner and a movie, or something as simple as a gallon of milk or filling up your gas tank.  Of course, all of this might not come from fiction, but that’s okay.  After all, it’s a starving profession to begin with.  In this recession, every dime that comes out of the written word counts, because you never know how much your next electric bill or gas bill will be.  For example, right now I’m doing people’s resumes.  If you’re already an established, professional author with a couple of novels out, this information probably won’t help you, as you already make a nice income from being an upper midlist author or being able to relax on what royalties and advances you make from mass market paperbacks.  That, and some of your publishers may already foot the bill for some of your traveling expenses from signings.  But nowadays it’s very rare unless you’re a lead-lister.

However, if you’re an independent/micro-press author who lives in a big city or a pretty happening little town, whose been published in lots of print magazines, maybe a few anthologies, has a new book or collection available through a POD press, has access to a small newspaper (bonus points here), this information might help you better understand the kind of buyers that you want to attract, the places you want to sell, the performance you want to give when selling, how much to pay for dealers’ tables, number-crunching, and, what seems to work and not work “perception-wise” when selling to an audience outside of genre, because let’s be honest—that’s the consumer you’re gunning for, and they’re hard to reach.  At the end of the day they’re still a reader of Charlaine Harris, Dan Brown, or James Patterson.  You want to sell to both genre readers and non-genre readers alike.  Most likely, you work a day job, or maybe you’re on a fixed income.  You need to rely on a budget throughout, cut corners when necessary, because this article is recession-friendly.  People may perceive you as a hack, an amateur, people you know for years may perceive you as a pro, a super-pro, or even Superman! But no matter what kind of author you are, the moment you sat down at that table and sold a variety of stuff with your name on it, you were no longer just an author.  You also became a merchant and a bookseller, and you need to keep that mindset.

If you do live in a big city or a small town and haven’t been able to get signings in places such as Borders, Waldenbooks, or Barnes & Nobles, that’s okay.  In this economy, if you don’t expect family or friends to show up (or friends of those friends), chances are you’ll only sell less than twenty copies anyway and look like a schmuck at a table in the corner with a bowl of lollipops or cookies.  Somewhere away from the door if you’re not cozy with the store manager.  I chose Coney Island because it was a seasonal attraction—over five million visitors per summer—rather than a one-day gig, and I’d known about it almost a year in advance because I did some writing and research for one of their papers.  I knew people, and I made connections.  And if you can make connections, and you know the turnout is going to be big and profitable in advance, and it’s inexpensive to show up and conduct your little set-up, then what are you waiting for?

Fact: five-million people do not visit a Borders bookstore over the course of a summer — matter of fact, they’re closing stores, and I would be surprised at how many more survive — neither does that amount visit an independent bookstore, which I find to be a good way to do nothing, sell nothing, and just kill the day in a chair.  A world famous amusement park and tourist attraction is a whole other story.  Even little carnivals passing through town may attract more visitors.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

If you’re not selling in places like the chains, then you still want to add some diversity to your table, make it look pretty: business cards, flyers, postcards, magnets, or buttons made up cheap.  I recommend Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.com).  You can get stuff made up by them quite often for free.  All you have to do is pay the shipping & handling.  Some of the greatest places to sell books, and which attract crowds are book fairs, street fairs, flea markets (outdoor, indoor, churches and synagogues), carnivals, community centers, town halls, schools, festivals, bars… But mostly outdoor events in spring and summer.  Warm weather.

One writer asked me how much should he pay for tables (or, in some cases, booths).  I would say if you’re an independent author DO NOT pay more than a hundred bucks for a table (but that’s just me).  If you don’t come out of your signings making a minimum of 70 to 80% profit, don’t even bother reserving a spot.  Why? Because you need to first make the cost of the table back.  Then there’s the cost of gasoline, food and beverages (maybe even hotel and airfare).  Trust me, it adds up.  Make your signings LOCAL, and, if possible, try to split the table costs with fellow authors, too.  Oh yeah, you also want to hit up the smaller cons rather than the big cons.  Not that you shouldn’t attend the bigger cons, only that some of the smaller conventions are much easier on your pocket when it comes to the dealer’s area.  Sam’s Dot Publishing, one of my publishers, always seems to make a killing at these events.  They often sell out! Flea markets, churches, and festivals can go as low as $25 to $50.  I know this one church which holds a pretty popular flea market on Tuesdays and Fridays for twenty bucks, but you have to bring your own table.  Always packed.  Just sell a few used books, sports cards and comics on the side, you’ll make that back in no time flat.  Other genre wares should be meant to cover the cost of your table and traveling expenses.  This is a must!

When you go into a signing as an independent/newbie author, you need to go into it with the mind of a businessman or businesswoman.  You need to ask yourself: where do I expect to pick up the most sales and the best exposure.  The ice cream parlor, the town library, or the state fair (obviously the state fair).  If you need a license, get one.  They’re really not that expensive.  If you’re a newbie on a fixed income, you need to calculate all this in advance.  Don’t just sit at a table with your hands clasped, smiling and nodding at passersby.  Get up and be a regular PT Barnum.  Be jovial.  Prepare what’s called a pitch. For example: “Hello, Ma’am, you’re looking lovely today.  You must love to read.  Oh, don’t be shy.  I bet you have a soft spot for books reminiscent of Stephen King and JK Rowling!”—you get the gist (woman sees table filled to the rim with merch; friendly conversation is under way).  You need to stand up and introduce yourself.  You need to have confidence, charisma, personality, and a little humor doesn’t hurt either.  Books don’t sell themselves.  Hence why you need to be business-minded when you approach this, especially in these hard economic times, where the independent writer gets the short end of the stick.

Snail Mail

Let’s talk about Coney Island now.  My very first signing on that very first day in June was a disaster.  Why? Because I had only brought Fresh Blood with me and a few used books by pulp authors.  Luckily, that first day I covered the cost of the booth (it was only $30 at the time), but I’ll never forget this one guy who came up to me and said, “Wow, so you like write stuff.  Man, I remember books.” I was astonished! Let’s just say the guy was a caveman who’d taken one too many bong hits.  How does someone forget about reading and books? Another girl just wanted her photograph taken with me because she never met an author before, yet she didn’t buy anything.  Not to mention I looked like a big tool just sitting there with one Dagstine-related item to my name when, back home, I had hundreds of print periodicals I could have toted with me.  Duplicate copies, too.  Yes, variety, along with ‘public perception’ makes for a very nice recipe, which I’ll explain in more detail in a moment.

After that first day I learned my lesson.  Between June and August there were supposed to be seven signings, but there ended up to be six due to a one-day rainout.  There would have been a few more had it not rained constantly between June and July.  And Flea by the Sea (the name of Coney Island’s summer marketplace), though covered by tents, was an outdoor event.  It was on top of the beach.  At times, the winds were horrible.  The circus was there, too, and one day there was a big hoopla going on because Ringling Brothers were abusing the elephants, but believe it or not a few of the animal rights activists picked up some of my goods.  So I can’t complain there.  But what I’m trying to say here is that, make sure it’s not going to rain on your parade on the day that you sell.  Mother Nature has a funny way of defying writers when it comes to selling outdoors.  By July and early August I was paying $40.00 for the booth and then $10.00 to rent the table, which came out to $50.00 for an entire weekend.  How could you beat that price? This is the price area you should be looking into.  Once again, a hundred bucks should always be your cap, and hopefully, you have more than one book to offer.  Speaking of which…

They say never judge a book by its cover.  Bullshit. When you’re selling in quantity to a non-genre and genre crowd, cover art I noticed makes all the difference.  In most cases it comes down to perception and appearances, or just the way people interpret merchandise.  I don’t care what anybody says.  They do judge a book by its cover.  And what people saw were stacks of magazines with extra copies, six different hardcovers and anthologies, and of course, a stack of Fresh Blood.  It was set up professionally and it looked pretty, like my own compact comic book shop.  All featuring something by ‘Dagstine.’

People were complimenting me because of the covers of the magazines.  Short lines and interested eyes gathered.  One person said, “So you must be Brooklyn’s SF Writer.”—I said, “Okay.” I just totally went with it.  Everything acted sort of like a cash cow.  One Dagstine publication led to the purchase or attraction of another.  Not only did one person spend $50.00 in one shot on me, but over the course of those signings I pushed $250.00 worth of old self-published hardcovers from The Year of the Flood, back when I didn’t know what the words ‘Vanity Press’ meant.  The point I’m trying to make here: I had a lot to choose from, my buyers had a lot to choose from, and so should you.  The cover art, the variety, the set-up, and “come one, come all” pitch made all the difference.  Even the shirt I wore! I got to autograph and sell my writing where, with only Fresh Blood, I probably wouldn’t have made what I did over the course of the summer: around $1200.00 – NET. And hey, I got my work and business cards out there.  Not bad for a hack, and my table investments had already been covered. 

If you’re a writer whose works have appeared in quite a few magazines, talk to the editor about getting extra issues at an author discount.  Always use media mail.  You might pay $4.00, $5.00, even $6.00 for those extra copies featuring your work in it.  You’re going to autograph them and sell them for $8.00 to $10.00… And don’t forget what I said, once you’ve included the cost of the table, food and beverages, gas or transportation to get to your selling destination, you need to make a minimum of 70 to 80% profit, otherwise it’s pointless.  Remember to invest in your work, invest in yourself, and before you attend that signing with more than one book or periodical, sit down with a calculator and crunch those numbers.  Make sure the location is going to be worth the time and effort.

In closing…

Whether you’re selling indoors in some chain, an artsy-fartsy independent that has velvet couches and serves Lattes and marble loaf in the back, or you’re giving the outdoor thing a whirl like I did, there is also another reason why you need to impress that passerby.  Besides cover art and quantity, nine out of ten times the general reading public will throw down cash on used books, non-fiction, children’s books, fast-paced thrillers, or romances before they will genres or subgenres known for killer slugs, planets with giant lizards, what the future would be like if everybody were pink, zombie stories, and heroic fantasy yarns.  If you’re a writer of genre fiction, you’re automatically at a disadvantage, so you need to think of ways to catch up.  That’s why the business model/bookseller mentality is so important.

Still, if I could do it with twelve hundred smackers, with a little initiative, so can you.

Until Next Time,

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Lawrence Dagstine: “Digital Stories Coming Soon…”

It is with great pleasure that I announce a couple of things.   One, now that the writing population is slowly starting to embrace the digital age, this site will not only act as a homepage and plug-page for magazines and upcoming science fiction, fantasy and horror venues, but also be a store.  You will be able to buy and then download short stories, novelettes, and novellas — most brand new, no reprints — from yours truly.  I am open to further freelancing, networking, and marketing with other authors if they too would like to be a part of this store (like trading purchase info links).  I advertise you, you advertise me.  I sell your work, you sell mine.  With that said, stay tuned to this site between now and mostly 2010.  The future may be digital, but it still looks good from where I’m at.

Alas, print is dying...

Alas, print is dying...

This site will also act as the occasional home of the “short story review”, the science fiction media news source and, later down the road, a new and unique kind of cross-marketing, branding-upon-branding, product placement and more.  To be honest, I’m surprised most bigger houses haven’t jumped on  a similar bandwagon yet.  Who knows, maybe it’s because the economy is still shoddy.  It’s what will also hopefully help fund the new venture come 2011.  I’d have to say that 2010 will also see an end to a majority of all print-related periodicals in “genre” featuring my stories in it.  I’ve been informed that 2011 would be a sort of conversion stage.  Or a few months after Kindle 3 comes out and prices on readers drop.  Whichever comes first.  Oh well.  However…

The best part of all this is you will be able to go to places like Mobipocket, Fictionwise, and Amazon.  You will be able to own my works on such reading devices as the Sony eReader, Kindle, Jetbook, iTouch, and so much more.  Matter of fact, my first e-title will be debuting shortly.   So stay tuned to the tab at the top of this page, entitled: “eBooks & Kindle”.

Thank You,

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Edited to Add: Fresh Blood Contest also coming soon…

Lawrence Dagstine: “Dagstine does Egypt…”

Ancient Egypt that is! Minus the Scifi novella, a look into one of five upcoming projects between 2009 and 2010 that should wet any reader’s appetite.  This should give my fans and peers a look into what I do for inspiration and, at times, research.  From the ashes of a New Yorker’s mind, a non-fiction and fiction tale is born.  Think of an article or story like a work of architecture — Like any building, it needs a foundation drafted, then crafted, in order to stand.  A good story can also be like a work of art.  Colorful and priceless, depending on the artist.  With any dedicated and enthusiastic study, life experience also plays a major role in creation.

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Whether it’s freelancing pre-dynasty non-fiction or fantasy, alternate history or occultist horror, Dagstine will do it! That’s for sure.  The hints to one of my next tales sits on this screen — well, rather yours — in front of you.  Will it have lots of mummies and real mystery? Will it involve Cleopatra? Will it showcase ancient gods and pyramids in an adventure the likes you’ve never read? I guess you’ll have to wait and see…

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

Lawrence Dagstine does Egypt

By the way, there’s tiny scarabs and children’s remains — mummified, I might add — in that tomb behind me (just kidding).  Coffins such as these were used by pharoahs or kings for royal pets, such as cats.  Lots of times they were mummified and buried with their owners.  Personal belongings were included for their long journey into the next world.

Sound juicy so far? Well, you better stay tuned then…

Lawrence Dagstine