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: “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: “FRESH BLOOD Aftermath…”

Or… The BEST WEEKEND EVAH! Thank you sooo much to everyone who stopped by my booth and picked up copies of my books, pulp magazines, and other wares.  Many of you told me you’ve never read genre before, many of you took my card, and a couple of you even stood in line and actually waited.  You don’t know how good that made me feel.  Thank you again.  Here I thought folks don’t read anymore (well, that was before this weekend, assuming I now have new readers – I really hope you enjoy the tales and stay tuned to this spot). 

ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

Good news: I’ll be back next weekend.  Some marketing, diversifying, and injecting the right pitches clearly doesn’t hurt, I see.

Bad news: If you’re new here, I’m temporarily sold out of Fresh Blood.  I only have five copies left, and at the moment I need to mail out to review venues.  I will, however, still have a few copies of other books and pulps on hand.  But these will be sparse.

Oh yeah, and I’m planning a contest too!

Order FRESH BLOOD direct from The Genre Mall:

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#freshblood

Check out some of the other goods:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/books-anthos/

https://lawrencedagstine.com/magazine-credits-dagstine/

Order the Post-Apocalyptic SATIRICA ANTHOLOGY:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/04/27/satirica-anthology-nominated-for-ippy-award/

Some of the merch, some of the profits.

Some of the merch, some of the profits.

Fresh Blood scores BIG in Brooklyn, New York!

Fresh Blood scores BIG in Brooklyn, New York!

Even more merch; Dagstine bulk filled almost two big suitcases

Even more merch; Dagstine bulk filled almost two big suitcases

It was a great few days.  My count may be off, but I pushed somewhere well over 130 mixed Dagstine titles: hardcovers, softcovers, magazines, etc.

With that said, I’m off to eat in my favorite sushi restaurant.  I feel like a kid living his dream.  Once again, thank you!

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: “The Writing Life…”

In the last few weeks I’ve had the honor of giving four different authors and artisans blurbs.  Blurbs help sell a work.  Or at least give it that little helpful “boost”.  It’s a nice feeling.  It isn’t the first time I’ve done it, and it probably won’t be the last.  The purpose of this post, however, is that a younger author contacted me concerning the number of print credits I have.  Which would be 350 at the moment (give or take a few; probably more, and I really don’t include stapled-up fanzines and all that).  I do need to sit down one of these days and fix up my webpage a bit, but when you live a high-octane life like I do, you’re lucky if you have time to get down a single paragraph in the period of a week.  Some weeks, of course, are much better than others.  Time is a major factor, and there are only 24 hours in a day.  Some writers are fast at what they do, but then they have that luxury.  Unfortunately, I do not.  Some churn out crap.  I try not.

With so many of these micro-presses self-publishing each other to each other these days, with eBooks officially taking center stage as we head into the second decade of the new millennium, and with magazines both large and small coming and going at the speed of an asteroid, it’s really hard to tell what or who will be in in the next twenty years.

This leads me back to my conversation with the younger feller.  Oh, but you have 350 publishing credits.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Yeah, but that ought to get you some kind of book contract right on the spot.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. But you have a short story collection finally.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Here I am, age 35, and I will tell you that this is only a tiny stepping stone for many other things to come in the fiction field.  Which, if you were not a stubborn bastard like me, you’d quit tomorrow.  Because only a mental case or a true agoraphobe would be involved in a game like this, especially in a generation where books are just not as important and attention spans are at an all-time low.  Come, let me slap you in advance.

I remember first getting into the written word when I was 21, making the transition from art, because I desired a little more.  I feel I came into this game late, because the entirety of my twenties was spent partying and traveling and experiencing life to the fullest.  I never really sat down and concentrated the way I do now in my later years.  Yes, the experience and reading paid off — that, along with the Vanity Press errors I made years back; yikes! — but even that means diddly squat when it comes down to a 20 to 80 dollar payday.  Newbies gladly sell their souls as if they were verb modifiers.  There are rumored to be at least 100,000 aspiring writers of genre fiction out there.  Now that’s a pretty round number for the ones that go on at it, so stand in line.   I may have all these appearances, a new collection, another on the way, but at the end of the day it’s just rocket fuel…

It’s safe to say that where the last three to five years were spent making short stories, the next three to five will be spent crafting novellas and novelettes.  What about that 200,000 word novel? Where’s that big epic book? Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Writing is a lifelong craft, and practice makes perfect.  Kind of the same way a store clerk eventually grows to supervising manager or maybe head foreman.  That’s just how it is, and that “is” often happens in old age.  Sometimes trenches are meant to be dug, tested, pioneered.  I would have to honestly say that I am not ready for that perfect 200,000 word novel — that serious book — for at least another ten good years.  Which is why right now I need the rocket fuel, and the small stuff, the paved road, to show me what I’m worth later in life.

Everybody wants to be the next big thing.  Look at yourself in the mirror and find your true self, and you’ll know that it doesn’t take words to breathe truth into who you are.  If somebody asked Lawrence Dagstine for a “How To” book on writing science fiction, I might recommend Orson Scott Card.  If somebody wanted a “How To” book on writing horror, I’d probably point you in the direction of Mort Castle.  Workshops and boot camps are fantastic; too bad I can’t leave the East Coast.  But if you really wanted the underbelly of the beast, the task of the artform at hand itself, then I’d recommend John Gardner.  As this gentleman in the link below has demonstrated so modestly.

Advice on Writing:

http://www.pobronson.com/index_advice_to_writers.htm

Simplicity and writing do not go hand in hand (Po Bronson knows), as should be the case with any creative endeavor.  There is the process of getting your thoughts down in so many hours per day.  There is the process of outlining and research.  You have tone and structure.  Dialogue and characterization.  Theme and summation.  Depth, motive, conflict.  Consistency and plotting (one of my weak points, I feel).  Beginning, middle, and end.  Showing and not telling.  Jeez, I could go on forever.  Or I could just go and write.  I can hear that young man harping now…  But Lawrence, when are you going to give us our Narnia? Eventually, my man.  Eventually…

Summertime will be approaching soon.  Many are probably wondering what the hell is the other purpose for this entry.  What is the purpose of anything? Well, I’ll be busy writing those lengthier works, the ones you anticipate, pimping, marketing, sipping on pina coladas and laying in the sun.  Things are going to slow down a bit.  Consider this an early draft for my departure from the public sphere.  I’m going to go live life and scream.  And I’m going to write, whether I get some invite or not.  Write.  Eat.  Sleep.  Sun.  Chocolate pudding, Rice Krispie treats, and banana cream pie.  Why? Because if you want the next generation Narnia, then I owe at least that much to you

With Love,

Mr. Lawrence Dagstine

P.S.: I, too, would probably work in a closet for some peace of mind…lmao.

Lawrence Dagstine: why I write short stories…

Many an aspiring author — and professional, too — has asked me over the past year why I write short stories.  Or, at the very least, why I choose to.  Naturally, it’s a field you won’t get rich from.  Matter of fact, if you happen to be one in that ten-thousand median author range to be on the lookout for, chances are you probably won’t even break the $5000 mark per year from all sources “writing-related”.   If you write novel-length genre works, major houses will usually yield print runs of 3000 copies.  Everybody wants a piece of the pie; the only thing is, there is no pie.  There are so many micro-presses these days that anybody can become a writer.  In most cases, this has screwed up the marketplace; I blame this slow literary death on technological globalization.

So what do we do to assure ourselves a cut and immortality? We annex and fan-club the profession.  This isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s all we’ve got right now until we come up with a better game plan, right? At the same time, I also believe we shouldn’t write for the masses because you never know what might work or what might not. 

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

The writing game is the extra income game, but it’s also the poor man’s game.  Which brings me back to my original topic: why short stories? Hey, why not? Life is short, and you should get your voice heard no matter what the venue.  That’s my philosophy.  But rather than tell you what motivates me to write short stories, why I prefer it over the long form (not to say there isn’t anything in the works; that’s for another day), and why I still persist at it… Well, I decided to search the Internet for like-minded individuals.  People who prefer to write short stories, too.

The first is Bev Vincent (author of The Road to the Dark Tower).  Every once in a while I do find a little gem of a post over at Storyteller’s Unplugged.  Bev is always astute and charming in his posts, and with this particular blog entry, he practically took the words right out of my mouth.  Because these are my very same thoughts.  Along with that, I’ve provided a few other links on why it really doesn’t matter, why sometimes it does, and on how what I mentioned above is so true… Life being short, so just submit…

WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES by Bev Vincent (Storyteller’s Unplugged):

http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/why-write-short-stories

 HOW MUCH DOES WRITING PAY by Nut (The Writer’s Coin):

http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2008/09/04/how-much-does-writing-pay/

 MY WIFE IS RUINING MY DREAMS by Chris Cope (Life Files):

http://www.theindychannel.com/family/16557240/detail.html

Also, the last time I did a post of this nature I forgot to stress the importance of an editorial filter, and I didn’t focus enough on non-fiction writing.  My last rant was geared more toward genre, and I apologize for that.  However, in the same fashion, I’d rather you read “How” and “Why” I do it (and what’s to be had from it), from the likes of others, rather than myself.  And in their own words.

HOW TO WRITE FOR MAGAZINES by Jason Arnopp (Bloggery Pokery)

http://jasonarnopp.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-write-for-magazine.html

SMALL PRESS MAGAZINES: SHOULD YOU BOTHER? by Bruce Boston

(Sam’s Dot Publishing/Writing World.Com)

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/boston.shtml

THE AMATEUR vs. PROFESSIONAL MYTHOS

FREELANCE PROFESSIONAL WRITERS HATE AMATEUR WRITERS by Lance Winslow

http://ezinearticles.com/?Free-Lance-Professional-Writers-Hate-Amateur-Writers&id=227821

HOW WRITERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE SHORT STORY MARKET by Paul Turner 

http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/how-writers-can-benefit-from-the-short-story-market-469055.html

WHAT MAKES A WRITER A PROFESSIONAL by Bruce Byfield

http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/what-makes-a-writer-a-professional/

INTERNET SMACKDOWN: THE AMATEUR VS. THE PROFESSIONAL by Tony Long

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/theluddite/2007/06/luddite_0621

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and submit that story.  As the professionals mentioned in the links above, these are the same exact reasons “Why” and “How” I do it.  And always remember, just because you’re not getting a piece of the pie, doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. 😉

Cheers.

Lawrence R. Dagstine