The Martian Wave, Collector’s Issue… (Now Available!)

Welcome to 2010.  For a decade it started off as a small webzine within the confines of cyberspace, publishing many of today’s familiar SF poets and short story authors… Well, it’s finally here.  The premiere print issue of the highly anticipated Sam’s Dot Pub: THE MARTIAN WAVE.  I am honored to have a story in the premiere issue among such names.  Get it now.  This first issue has a superb cover by Laura Givens and is bound to sell out either online or at Sam’s Dot Publishing attended conventions.  Now a semi-annual magazine! Rejoice!

PREMIERE ISSUE! PREMIERE ISSUE!

THE MARTIAN WAVE Issue #1 – Collector’s Edition!

The Martian Wave - Premiere PRINT issue

ORDER YOUR COLLECTOR’S ISSUE HERE:

http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#tmw

THE MARTIAN WAVE INFORMATION PAGE:

http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/tmw/main.htm

SAM’S DOT PUBLISHING HOMEPAGE:

www.samsdotpublishing.com

FEATURING: Steve De Beer, Tyree Campbell, Dan Thompson, Keith P. Graham, Patty Jansen, Bret Tallman, Rick Novy, Shelly Bryant, Justin Bohardt, s.c. Virtes, Marge Simon, and Lawrence Dagstine.  Edited by J. Alan Erwine.

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

FREE FICTION: “The Overrated Pro” by Lawrence Dagstine

Welcome to my first installment of what will be a continuous monthly to bimonthly project.  Free Fiction Stories.  Approaching all genres, and sometimes even serialized (the serials will most likely be novelette or novella lengthed works).  For February and March we have a brand new Extreme Horror piece — put the kiddies to bed — about a writer.  A good chilling tale about a writer quickly brings to mind the work of Mr. King and Mr. Ketchum.  One such tale that comes to mind right away is Secret Window (the movie version starred Johnny Depp).  Sometimes a good story is too good to pass up, such as is the case with Secret Window.  The picture below, which I got off the Web and am a die-hard fan of (I’m a die-hard fan of all pictures on my site, from Doctor Who to Action Figures to Whatever), I think compliments this piece well.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  But it does beg to ask the question: How far would you go to become a writer?

How far would you go to become a writer?

Free Fiction Series Take 1

 

THE OVERRATED PRO

by

Lawrence Dagstine

The package fluttered as if it might fall, but it didn’t.  Carnesto preferred to take a cigarette out of the pack himself.  Despite the tremors, his fingers had facility, and he reached into the pack for a smoke.  The paper fluttered and sounded, but out came the cigarette, and it orbited to his lips.  He lit up by himself, too.  He even had this way of making cool artsy smoke rings.  The single and simple act assumed the proportion of a wannabe performance, which all watched as he sat in the back of the truck stop diner working heavily on his laptop. “Thanks, Colbert,” he said. “I promise I’ll leave you a tip next time.” He got a refill on his coffee.

“When are you writing this next bestseller?”

“As soon as one of these organizations actually recognize me,” he said.

Colbert nodded. “I guess that means never.”

“How’s your cat?”

“Dead.”

Another one.”

“It’s okay.  I’ll just go down to the Humane Society and pick me up a healthier critter.  Anyway, good luck with your manuscript.”

There was something about people on computers in diners or Starbucks or sidewalk cafes.  All were the next big thing, the next blockbuster screenwriter, the next professional anthologist, and, for the deluded, sometimes even Pulitzer Prize winner.  They always looked cool sitting there with their Compaqs and Toshibas and Hewlett-Packards.  At the end of their days they went home and popped an extra Zoloft or two, stared at themselves in their medicine cabinets, and often died of something like pancreatic cancer and very much penniless.  As a balding, middle-aged man living between Middletown USA and the UK, however, he still didn’t get it yet.  It was sort of like the meaning of life, only staring you cold right in the face.  Being a writing celebrity was the most transient fame in the world, but it was magnificent while it lasted.  Who could resist wanting to know what it was like to become as inflated as a zeppelin, even if rather hollow? Still, ego or no ego, magnificent while it lasted.

A man on the keyboard, if he had inspiration, could have more immediate impact in a couple of hours than a genre historian with a lifetime of books and no national or international exposure.  For, at the end of the day, genre is what he wrote and absolutely creamed on himself just at the thought of it.

Clicking sounds from the keys, then long emailed queries.

A curious kind of aberrant, macroscopic reputation attainable because of the nature of the exposure, and the redundancy of the work routine combined.  Much of his life revolved around two credits, and much to his pub mate editors’ likings.  An amateur might write down a few interesting metaphors or pen just as decent a story—a beginning, a middle, and an end—publish a few in some low circulation or obscure quarterlies; it might a few years later change a portion of the face of the globe, and such a figure might or might not get to be known even inside the publishing community.  Impact and creativity was fantastic.  But the genre writer was straight on your eyes, because it was a form of fantasy, page by page, as while he repeated the lines written by another; if you watched television or went to the movies, plots came free and life was a contrived and clichéd vessel.  He and the non-reading public became well acquainted, because, quite frankly, Carnesto never really wrote anything of worth.  He was beat as a child if he got less than a B, sometimes his father would hit the bottle and then creep into his room in the middle of the night and display his inebriation.  Carnesto even had a lax imagination at times to show for it.  A character like himself writing fiction was like a dead fourth brain inside the human skull.  Internet crazies with drug addictions thought he was super-important, and he might think so too.  That spelled out Web Idol.  But there was a difference between the web idol and the literary idol.  For real writers the grandeur of self-satisfaction spelled New Heroes, New Days, New Minds, New Attitudes, New Influences.  For Carnesto it often meant just another day glaring at that screen in the back of that smoky truck stop diner, full of resentment and false pride.

He’d even met an amateur one day, typing crazily and happily a few booths away.  He went over to him and said, “Are you a writer by any chance?” and he saw next to the computer a stack of black and white magazines. “You know if you are, you really shouldn’t prostitute yourself to such small publications like this.”

They talked a bit and it just so happened that this other typist was also into genre.  When he’d heard that, Carnesto felt embarrassed asking the amateur for advice; he even glanced over his shoulder to make sure Colbert and the diner regulars weren’t watching. “But these periodicals you’re in are mere fanzines,” he said. “Why do it for so little money?”

“Oh, you must be from the Old School,” the amateur writer said. “Because you only live once, and there are many other rewards and remunerations from this kind of writing.”

“No! I—I don’t understand it!” He actually clenched his hands into fists and grinded his teeth. “I—I don’t compute!”

“Well, of course you don’t.  I noticed you over there, just spacing out at your screen.  I didn’t want to say anything but it was just an observation.”

“What observation? What are you talking about?” Carnesto looked slightly heated.

“You know, progress.”

“Dear sir, I’ll have you know that I AM A PRO.” It almost sounded like he was doing a Colin Baker schtick. “I’ve appeared in these two publications and I was paid such and such a sum!”

“But look at the dungeon you’ve put yourself in.  There’s no key to the door, no crawlspace, no way to get out.  You get no satisfaction from it.  It’s sad.”

“How can I get no satisfaction when the credits exist?”

“But you obsess over something you’ll still never be.”

“Are you trying to say I’m pathetic?”

“When I look from afar, yeah, I guess.” Then the amateur went on to say how many professional writers hate their lifestyles, their jobs, their families and their miserable existences.  How it’s not as easy as it looks. “You see, I exist outside the bubble.  You are trapped inside the bubble, where there are all sorts of stigmas and silly rules.  Outside the bubble, there’s relaxation, lack of worry, so much space and area to explore.  I live life to the fullest, you obviously don’t.  Inside the bubble, you’re confined and injected with this malcontent.  Even now, instead of focusing, you probably watch other writers making it one step ahead of you and feel like a prisoner in your own skin.”

“But I have two pro credits! I have two pro credits! Two pro credits!”

“That still does not make you a professional.”

“Yes it does! Two pro credits make me a somebody!”

The amateur looked back at Carnesto’s laptop and said, “Then if you’re a somebody, why are you dilly-dallying with me at my table when you should be over there writing your third professional credit?”

Then he explained to Carnesto that: Nothing x Nothing = Nothing.

But Carnesto wouldn’t have it, no matter how much the amateur tried to break things down to him.  He stormed off insisting that he was right and the amateur was wrong.  He stormed off insisting that he was this famous thing, trained by long forgotten grandmasters and alcoholic slush pile editors.  The more Carnesto saw the cobwebs under his arms and suspected his own imposture, the exaggeration of his value, that his sublime vogue was just a façade for the crazies, the more he began to drink, cheat on the missus, and dissipated.  He almost felt like lashing out his own failures in life on somebody who wouldn’t suspect, somebody he wished to be. 

A few weeks later, in decline, reading from time to time of his own professional wane or passing, experiencing the oh-he’s-washed-up coldness of the public and the literary critics, and now, having lost his mind, having lost prestige or real value, he decided to choose his victim carefully and make that individual feel the same way.  He wanted to make somebody feel just as inwardly collapsed.  Emotionally, physically, professionally, deflated beyond recovery.

This would be his release.  He would call himself “The Winner” at times.

But there was nothing to be won.

During these days, when he went on the Internet actively seeking people he hated or wished to be, or just couldn’t stand being happy because his own life lacked joy, his wife walked about with a deep inner upset.  Carnesto, still not recuperated from his own lack of success, didn’t have the energy or desire to make love to her.  They were often quiet at the dinner table, too.

“When are you going to get off that fucking Internet! I didn’t marry a robot.  You’ve become this—this computer junkie.  I needed you yesterday!”

There Carnesto sat at his computer, in a slumped position, head straight forward and practically paying her no mind.

“Did you hear what I said? I needed you!”

“Why? Because your friend Janet’s brother is in the hospital on a respirator?”

“That poor devil was in a terrible accident.  He might not make it through another night.”

“So let them pull the plug.  It’s not as if she cared about him anyway.  They had their differences.  If I’m a computer junkie, so’s she.  Tell me, how many hours does she spend on the Web? If you ask me, she’ll probably be relieved once her parents fly back and they take the fellow off life support.  Oh, and don’t ask me to come to the funeral.”

“Carnesto, what’s wrong with you?” his wife pleaded. “You were never like this!”

“I’m busy! Working!”

“On a fucking messageboard? Who are you talking to anyway?”

“This is strictly business.  Now please get the fuck out of here.”

His wife came over and threw down some drug paraphernalia.  His eyes glanced it briefly as he typed away. “And where did you get this?”

“I don’t know where you got that, but it’s definitely not mine.”

“Smoking drugs with that crack whore.  I spotted you with her the other day, chatting about.  She’s the big druggie and floozy of the neighborhood.”

“You know her?” Carnesto asked.

“Who doesn’t! What are you doing with that meth head?”

“We… We get along together.  We understand each other.” There was a brief silence. “Oh, you wouldn’t understand.  You’re not a writer, you’re not a professional.  How could you understand?”

“Carnesto, I know full well what you do.  You’re slacking off.  You’re not the man I once knew.  You talk of writing yet you haven’t written or edited a single draft in three months.”

He quickly changed the subject, talking about her inconsistencies: her manners, her mind, her language. 

“Shit,” she screamed at him, “you’re always trying to make an idiot out of me!”

“I fear it’s a lost cause,” he said to her, then swiveled around in his chair back to his computer. “Just like this poor chap…”

“I’m not a lost cause! I’m your wife!”

“Says you.  I’m giving you a difficult assignment.  Change yourself a little,”—but this had only been an excuse to get rid of her and focus on his new computer mate—“make yourself into something fine.  Learn how to cook or something.”

“I like the time I’m having with you now! If I didn’t care about you, if I didn’t care about our marriage, I wouldn’t be here begging with you, would I?”

The logic made him laugh.

Christ, she said to herself, he hasn’t fucked me in a month.  I ought to go down to the pub or get a piece somewhere else.

He sensed her thought, but he was still heavily focused on something else.

“Look, darling, I’ll be with you in a few days.  Now don’t get impatient.  This Web business will all be over soon.”

“If that crackhead came along here, you’d be able to put out,” she complained.  As she headed for the office door, she added, “And make sure you don’t do anything with her here!”

A little celibacy will be good for her, he thought to himself, grinning wickedly.  It’ll drive her wild, and besides, I’ll get what I started online finished.  They said I wasn’t a pro, I gave them helpful advice, but they just tossed me away.  Well no more!

As time went on, his dilapidation showed.  He didn’t shave, didn’t shower.  He didn’t even brush his teeth.  Lack of hygiene.  But he couldn’t and wouldn’t let it be a singular ruin, as he was bent on taking someone else down with him.  This was his therapy, because they all said and felt he wasn’t good enough.  He was bent on destroying this other person who was almost a perfect identical image to him…

…only happy with life.

He went to messageboards, review sites, emailed friends of his—if one didn’t know any better, they’d think he was a full-time stalker—wherever this individual had been last, he would be there to spy and bait.  Sometimes he even forced sleep deprivation upon himself and Googled the individual’s name as much as one hundred times in a single day.  All the while muttering to himself, “I’m a professional! I’m a professional! I’m a professional!” At other times, he would say, “Fucking amateur! Fucking amateur! Fucking amateur!” He had become so obsessed with this other person’s writing career, that not only had he almost permanently forgotten his own, but he started checking his victim’s work for logistical and grammatical errors that either did not exist or just wasn’t to his liking.

Sometimes he thought of his ex-wife—by now, she had dumped him and not only was his computer on constantly, but he always carried a whiskey bottle and a loaded revolver by his side—and his marriage to her had been his foundation to begin with, and she was the only woman he had ever loved. “I will not pose any longer as a married woman nor tell myself any longer that this is a marriage,” she had said.

The words stayed on with him, fatally, robbing him of much.  So along with the victim on his computer console, his life had spiraled downward and proceeded from one self-robbery to another, depriving him of the people and dreams he once had, though without doubt, by the nature of his current self, he had earned his defeats.  And his only friends? Well, they were crazies. 

The court awarded his ex custody of their little girl, and he must pay alimony until she remarried.  But she hadn’t done that, and the cost of maintaining her lifestyle, and the costs of his daughter, had been a drain. 

About three, four times a year he saw them.  He was entitled visitation rights with his child, but his computer life always cut in, and there were times where he didn’t pursue the privileges.  Besides, it was always unpleasant to see his wife for a few minutes or hours, only to realize he could never have her around permanently.

There came a point where his daughter had reached the age of twelve, and here he was, still latched on to his computer and his writer victim, who had started moving on to other things.  The girl had lost her childhood charm and matured into a shapely, thinned-down girl.  She had her father’s haunting features and the same bone structure as he.  Carnesto was pleased with her beauty, and he complimented his wife. “You’ve done a fine job with the girl.” He held his daughter’s hands and stared at her.

His daughter said, “I think you’re so wonderful, Daddy.  Everybody does.”

“It’s your mom who’s wonderful.  Surely you must know what everybody else knows, that I’m a big international bum.”

“It’s not true, Daddy; you’re simply fabulous.  I see all your literary works in a pile over there.”

He laughed. “I may let you head up the Carnesto Johanna Fan Society.”

“You’re so outrageous, Daddy, so simply outrageous.”

His now-ex came along. “Honey, be careful.  You might fall afoul of someone like your father and get your life garbled before it begins.”

“Is your life so garbled?” Carnesto asked.

“I’m trying to spare her some of the things we’ve been through ourselves.  Like computer privileges?”

“Don’t spare her any of that, and don’t do me any favors.”

When his ex left the room he looked over his daughter.  She had leaping, anxious eyes, and she was crowding her father, wanting his attentions, even his arms around her. “Glad to see your mother letting you sleep over finally.” He looked around at the small flat. “It’s not much.  At least, not like on my old teacher pay.  Not like we used to have.” He grabbed hold of her and gave her an earthy kiss.  He held her tightly and his hands, from a lifetime of typing and not touching, found its way over her developing breasts.  His face flushed.  What the hell was going on?

He felt rocked.  He pulled himself away from her.  He had a frenetic look on his face, which his daughter studied but couldn’t understand.  With my own daughter, he told himself, staring at her loving face, her body full of trust and affection. What am I thinking? He wondered whether other fathers had incestuous surges toward their beautiful daughters.  He paced up and down cursing his passions. 

After his ex left and said she’d return on Sunday, he couldn’t get his daughter out of his mind, or quite out of his blood.  He started looking for the revolver.  You bastard, he said to himself, wanting to jazz his own child.  He looked at the messageboard on the computer and thought he saw a familiar name sign in. “It’s your fault, you fucking amateur!”

“Daddy, are you okay?”

The gun was nowhere to be found.  It had to be there.  Maybe in a drawer, maybe underneath the bathroom sink.  The incident preyed on him; it was a new experience, unlike writing fiction, and the thought shocked him.  He had a second moment’s agony.  How many crazies had such thoughts about their daughters, he wondered.  He knew a lot of crazies, but why did the notion persist with him? There she was, in his imagining, all fresh and full of young blood, a handsome smile on her face all the while, a touch of cherry blossom softness in her cheeks, eyes wide and curious.  He looked down and saw a bulge in his pants; he was rock-hard.  Maybe, he said to himself, it’s a case of me wanting to screw myself.  She looks like me.  Goddamit, I better stay far away.

Then, as his daughter was changing in the bathroom, getting ready to go to sleep, he found the gun sticking out from one of the higher shelves of his bookcase.  That one particular shelf had been lined with all the anthologies ever created, all the books ever produced, all the periodicals of the writer he had been victimizing all these years, and he realized, “Holy shit! I’m your number one fan.”

Glancing quickly over his shoulder, he saw flashing.  When he turned around to face the computer he saw action on the screen.  The numbers on the board lit up, and the writer, who he had lashed out his own misgivings and failings on for all those years had scored a book deal. “Oh no.  Oh no, you don’t! You fucking amateur! I’ll prove you don’t deserve this!” He started tearing his hair out and walking in circles.  Then he grabbed the computer and tried to log in and type right away, but he’d forgotten the password amongst the confusion with his daughter. “No you don’t! Stay at the bottom of the ladder, you fucking slime ball!” The gun was looped around a finger as he wrote.

“Daddy?”

“Not now.”

“Daddy, what’s wrong?”

“I said not now!”

“Daddy, please!”

“What don’t you under—”

He swiveled around in his chair and let go of the trigger.  A bullet entered the center of his daughter’s chest, ricocheted off her shoulder and lung, and exited through her back.  Carnesto fell to his knees.  The twelve-year-old girl’s mouth dropped in awe.  She was wearing one of those long pink and white Hello Kitty sleep shirts.  It began to soak red.  The floor soon matched in color. 

A few seconds later she collapsed at the side of the bed.

Carnesto rushed to her side, but she wasn’t breathing.  Sitting at the edge of the bed, he cradled her in her arms, weeping like a baby. “I’m sorry, child… I didn’t mean to, I swear…” Teary-eyed, he faced the computer and it said that the new book being released by the same author he had victimized from all those years, was a story that, deep down, most hardworking authors working the trenches for many years would be able to associate with.  But that was if Carnesto had the desire to live and add it to his collection.   

The title, according to the online publicist, was “The Winner”.

Carnesto Johanna had three simple words for that publicist and the author as he put the revolver up to his own head. “I’m a pro…”

The End

Lawrence Dagstine: “A Day at the Brooklyn Museum…”

The following series of pictures were taken a little over a year ago, when I went on a research trip to The Brooklyn Museum of New York.  During that time, between 2008 and early 2009, there was an Ancient Egyptian/Assyrian Exhibit.  They also had an “Old School” Graffiti Art exhibit on the 5th Floor.  It was a lot of fun.  I got to see some real mummies (which you’ll see below), tombs, statues, canvases, masks, and a whole lot of other interesting stuff from the days before Christ.  I finally got around to resizing some of those other photographs.  The results of this visit would be a short article for an archeological magazine and an alternate history tale featuring Cleopatra (novelette-length).  Here they are, finally, in all their glory.  Historical and artistic pics.

Assyria * Ancient Egypt * Mummies * Tombs

The mummies were the freakiest…

(There were more pics for this exhibit, but those were sold along with the article)

Asian Artifacts * Age-Old Trinkets * Masks * Molds

 

Paintings * Canvases * Stained-Glass Works

Graffiti Art Exhibit * Urban Art Canvases * Retro Works

As you can tell, you could even participate…

 

For more information about the Brooklyn Museum of New York:

www.brooklynmuseum.org

200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238-6099
(718) 638-5000

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

Aoife’s Kiss #35, December 2010… (12th acceptance!)

Hello, and congratulations to the New Orleans Saints for winning Super Bowl 44.  Here was a place that went through a lot five years ago, and I can’t think of a team and city that deserves it more.   Yes, I was rooting for you guys while I was in Atlantic City.  Now on to SF, Fantasy, and the Post-Apocalypse.  I just watched The Road last night; what a terrible movie that was.  Don’t fear, I’ll have a better story than that coming to the December 2010 issue of Aoife’s Kiss (What, better than the Cormac McCarthy you say?).  Published quarterly by Sam’s Dot Publishing, Aoife’s Kiss is edited by Tyree Campbell.  This will either mark my 12th or 13th acceptance into the magazine’s print and former Web component.  A lot of stories are being held onto at the moment, so I’ll know more over the course of the year.  Check out a few sample issues below with stories of mine in them.  And speaking of roads, we’re on the Road to 400 credits!

Sam’s Dot Publishing Main Homepage (updated monthly):

www.samsdotpublishing.com

A Few Sample Issues Featuring Lawrence R. Dagstine

Available for purchase or subscription via The Genre Mall

CLICK HERE: www.genremall.com

Personally, I recommend trying out either the June 2009 or September 2009 issues.  Both had decent stories, the issues sold out and they were bestsellers more than two, three times over.  Those two issues in particular had to be reprinted over three times! All available at The Genre Mall: www.genremall.com

Aoife’s Kiss Issue #22

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 Aoife’s Kiss #24

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Aoife’s Kiss #25

Aoife’s Kiss #29

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Aoife’s Kiss #30 [Bestseller]

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Aoife’s Kiss #31

 

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

The Martian Wave, Premiere Issue… (Coming Spring 2010)

A little reminder that The Martian Wave, edited by J. Alan Erwine and put out by Sam’s Dot Publishing, will be coming out spring 2010.  There’s the old banner below, back when, for about ten years, The Martian Wave was a quarterly webzine of interplanetary stories, space opera, astronaut tales, and fiction about intergalactic exploration.  That was always the central theme.  I appeared in the old Martian Wave about five, maybe six times, and it’ll be real nice to see it now in its much fuller form, and as a semi-annual print magazine.  Intended line-up below!

The Martian Wave – Summer 2010

After ten years – Now an upcoming print magazine

To be published semi-annually by Sam’s Dot Publishing:

www.samsdotpublishing.com

PREMIERE ISSUE LINE-UP… THUS FAR:

Adaptor by Steve de Beer
Bypassed by Shelly Bryant
Prize Crew by Dan Thompson
The Barren Wastes by Justin Bohardt
The Reefs of Jove by Keith P. Graham
another pit for sale by s.c. virtes
Luminescence by Patty Jansen
A Hollander’s Secret Weapon: 1609 by Marge Simon
Into the Silence Flies a Moth by Bret Tallman
Hindsight by Marge Simon
The Pillars of Europa by Rick Novy
The Great Martian Depression by Lawrence R. Dagstine

First Issue Cover Art by Laura Givens

 

Other New Entries: “Magazines” 

Lawrence Dagstine: “The Scarecrows are Coming…”

A chilling tale by Lawrence R. Dagstine

The Scarecrows are Coming!!

The Scarecrows are Coming!!

The Scarecrows are Coming!!

 

Available in 2010 for iPad * iPhone * iPod Touch

Amazon Kindle * PDF Download * Mobipocket

Coming Soon to eBooks & Kindle!!

 

Added: The following picture above was obtained on MySpace. 

Added: If you’re interested in this artist’s work, please visit his site and consider purchasing something: http://www.eeriepa.com/home/

FRESH BLOOD by Lawrence Dagstine… (PDF and E-Format!)

My 2009 debut short story collection, FRESH BLOOD, filled with 160 pages of dark science fiction stories and twisted horror tales is now coming to PDF/e-Format.  You can get it from one of the largest RPG retailers on the Web. DriveThruRPG.com! Or, for just a few dollars more, you can splurge for the print copy and see what all of last summer’s buzz was about. Just do a search for “Sam’s Dot Publishing”.  It might take a while for the publisher’s page to go up.

Vampires * Zombies * Ghosts * Giant Lizards * Alternate Universes

FRESH BLOOD: TALES FROM THE SPECULATIVE GRAVEYARD

Published by Sam’s Dot Publishing

Author: Lawrence R. Dagstine

FRESH BLOOD in PDF/E-Format - ISBN: 978-0-9819696-2-6

Order the PDF or e-Version for upload to your readers at… DriveThruRPG.com:

www.drivethrustuff.com

For a little more, the softcover version at The Genre Mall:

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

Fresh Blood by Lawrence Dagstine - PRINT VERSION

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

The Random Eye, Volume #2… (2010 Edition!)

The 2010 edition of The Random Eye is now up — an annual e-Zine dedicated to alternatives, communication that breaks the mold, universes or altiverses that are parallel in nature, and where, for the new decade, tea is the ongoing theme.  Edited by Melissa Jones, The Random Eye is also The Random Radio.  Published annually.  Come, click, and have a cup.

The Random Eye, Volume #2

MAIN HOMEPAGE:

http://therandomeye.atspace.com/index.html

THE RANDOM EYE on TWITTER:

http://twitter.com/therandomeye

FREE FICTION – THEME: TEA…

http://therandomeye.atspace.com/thegirlwhodreamtportals.html

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Steampunk Tales #6, Second Acceptance… (coming soon!)

The Golden Age makes its return in digital format.  So does the Industrial Revolution, Neo-Victorian Horror, and lots of other spooky historical tales.  Come one, come all to Steampunk Tales! Where many adventures, horrors, and mysteries await.  Some of the best short stories by short story giants and rising stars in the field.  On my eBooks & Kindle page you too can order my brand new stories alongside many other talented authors within the Steampunk genre.  And at a very affordable price.  Behold the future of fiction magazines! Read them anytime, anywhere! Previous editions have featured such authors as Jay Lake, Catherynne M. Valente, G.D. Falksen, Jillian Venters, Phil Brucato, Brenda Cooper, and myself, among others.

Lawrence Dagstine Coming to Steampunk Tales Issue #6

His Scariest Horror Novelette to date!!

 

Also appearing in Steampunk Tales #2

 For your iPhone/iPod Touch, PDF, and KINDLE

Also check out Lawrence Dagstine in Issue #2:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/ebooks-kindle-dagstine/

www.steampunktales.com

Penny Dreadfuls * Victorian Pulps for your readers!

(*Also available as a PDF, Kindle, or through Mobipocket*)

Sample look at Steampunk Tales:

Featuring:

  • 10 pieces of exciting steampunk pulp fiction at an unbelievable price.
  • Featuring a true A+ lineup of award winning authors.
  • Stories run 4,500 – 11,000 words each! (totaling over 600 screen pages using the default font and font size)
  • The Steampunk Tales Reader on (iPhone/iPod Touch) features unique retro-futuristic Victorian styling never before seen in an eBook reader!

Other New Entries: “eBooks & Kindle” and “Magazines”

The Next Time: Alternate Reality-Time Traveling Anthology…

 

Now Available on Amazon – 298 Pages, Only $11.95; featuring Lawrence Dagstine!

THE NEXT TIME: Anthology of Alternate Reality/Time Travel

Edited by Chris Bartholomew – Now Available!

The Next Time Anthology by Lame Goat Press

Order your copy today — I’m in it:

https://www.createspace.com/Customer/EStore.do?id=3424257

ISBN/EAN13: 1450519180 / 9781450519182

Author Line-Up: John C. Mannone, Mark Wolf, James P. Wagner, Shells Walter, Lawrence R. Dagstine, Kristin Aune, Kyle Hemmings, Ralph Greco, Pete Carter, Deborah Walker, Albert Melear, Sam S. Kepfield, John F. D. Taff, Lawrence Barker, Terence Kuch, Jo Thomas, Andrew Males, Edward A. Rodosek, David C. Pinnt, Michael C. Pennington, R.H. Reese, Christopher Jacobsmeyer, Joseph Carfagno, Sean Monaghan, John X. Grey, Mark Robinson, Jamie K. Schmidt, and Ken Head.

Other New Entries: “Books & Anthos”

Withersin Magazine, January 2010… (Now Available!)

First, a Healthy and Happy New Year to those who follow this blog homepage.  Next, I’m starting off 2010 with the latest issue of Withersin, No. #3.3, themed: Arsenic. Published three issues per year by Misty Gersley, Withersin is a glossy, beautiful art-filled mag of horror and non-fiction relating to the paranormal and more.  You can find it in some chain bookstores, or pre-order the issue by following the link below.

WITHERSIN MAGAZINE – January 2010

Issue #3.3 – Theme: Arsenic

ORDER THE ISSUE – SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

www.withersin.com

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Nova Science Fiction, Spring 2010… (Eight Acceptances!)

My 7th and 8th acceptances to the long-running print mag, NOVA Science Fiction, will be coming your way next year between Issues #25 and #26.  However, now that NOVA is going into its eleventh year and looking to thicken its pages and increase their circulation(s), I might have two stories in one issue again.  Previous issues would be No. #24.  Yes, I’m in it.  Stay tuned in 2010 for a Dr. Who convention with NOVA SF in the dealer’s area (and a lot of famous Brits), and a time traveling story of mine within their pages.

NOVA SCIENCE FICTION – Late Spring 2010

Issues #25 to #26 – Going into its 11th Year!

SUBSCRIBE NOW – SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

www.novascifi.com

RECENT ISSUES – RECENT ENTRIES – DR. WHO CONVENTION INFO:

https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/11/20/nova-science-fiction-24-november-2009-now-available/

NOVA_24_Small

Submit Material Via Snail Mail:

NOVA Science Fiction

17983 Paseo Del Sol

Chino Hills, CA 91709

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

The Random Eye, Volume #2; 2010… (coming soon!)

For the second year in a row, I’ll be appearing in the annual eZine, The Random Eye. The Random Eye is about parallel universes, alternate history, alternative fiction, and stories which break the boundaries of communication.  Edited by Melissa Jones, the Random Eye is also The Random Radio.  My second acceptance is coming in early 2010, Volume #2.  It can best be described as a weird tale with a dash of steampunk, a dash of the historical, part fairy tale and part science fiction.  Oh yeah, and the 2010 theme is… TEA!

By the way, they’re still actively seeking fiction until January 2010.

THE RANDOM EYE: An eZine Dedicated to Alternatives

a.k.a. THE RANDOM RADIO

The Random Eye

SUBMIT OR READ IN JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2010:

http://therandomeye.atspace.com/index.html

Follow The Random Eye on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/therandomeye

2010 story theme: tea

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Cover of Darkness, May 2010… (2nd acceptance)

I’ll be coming your way as a feature author in Sam’s Dot Publishing’s print, and soon-to-be e-publication too, Cover of Darkness.  This would be my second acceptance to the bi-annual anthology magazine.  Edited by Tyree Campbell.  It’s a big old novelette, one filled with nurses and hospitals and monsters and the truth about humanity.  It is also an historical tale.  Atmospherically, it takes place during the height of The Great Depression.  The year 1930, to be exact. 

CURRENT ISSUES W. LAWRENCE DAGSTINE

Purchase this issue now!

Scroll Down and Buy Now:

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#coverofdarkness1109

Sam’s Dot Publishing Main Homepage (updated monthly):

www.samsdotpublishing.com

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Aoife’s Kiss #31, December 2009… (Now Available!)

It’s my 11th story appearance within the folds of Sam’s Dot Publishing’s magazine, Aoife’s Kiss.  This would be the December 2009 issue, a pretty funky cover.  This issue also features Ken Goldman.  No. 31.  Interesting fact about the magazine: the title comes from Irish.  After all these years, I didn’t even know that.  However, if you love science fiction and adventure stories, you definitely can’t go wrong with a copy. 

AOIFE’S KISS, December 2009 – Issue No. 31

APPEARANCE No. 11 – Science Fiction Magazines

SUBSCRIBE/BUY NOW – JUST CLICK BELOW:

http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#aoife

Submission Guidelines and MORE:

http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/aoife/cover.htm

Featuring Work by: Theodora Fair, D.W. Manning, Kate MacLeod, Ken Goldman, Marshall Payne, Kristin Noone, Kimberly Colley, Lawrence R. Dagstine, Jason Heller, Chris Ward, Curt Jeffreys, Geoffrey A. Landis, Julie Mark Cohen, Lenora Farrington-Sarrouf, Vanessa Waters, Justin Bohardt, Jonathan C. Holeman, Hillary Bartholomew, Shelly Bryant, William Beyer, Jamie Lee Moyer, Stephen Jarrell Williams, Michael Ceraolo, Jenna Kelly, Maggie Desmond O’Brien, Jene Erick Beardsley, Roberta Shepard, Carolyn Crow, and Edward Cox.

More Issues of Aoife’s Kiss featuring Lawrence Dagstine (click below):

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

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Nova Science Fiction #24, November 2009… (Now Available!)

I’m pleased to announce that the 24th issue of NOVA SF is now available.  Ten years publishing! This would mark my fifth appearance with the Hard SF and Christian SF publication.  I’ll have another story with them sometime in late spring 2010.  According to the recent Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, the circulation has gone up a little.  Let’s see if we can increase that again this year.  You can also subscribe via Paypal.  Published semi-annually, NOVA SF is edited by Wesley Kawato.  It also appears he’ll have a dealer’s table at a very famous Doctor Who Convention in Los Angeles, CA in February.  GALLIFREY 2010/Gallifrey One: http://www.gallifreyone.com/

It’s the Biggest Dr. Who Convention in the United States and NOVA SF will be there!

DETAILS: http://www.gallifreyone.com/dealers.php

Fellow Satirica Author, Bill Housley, is also in this issue:

NOVA SCIENCE FICTION – Issue #24

Autumn 2009 – Ten Years Running!

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SUBMISSION GUIDELINES or SUBSCRIBE:

www.novascifi.com

SNAIL MAIL SUBMISSIONS ONLY!

NOVA SF Banner

PREVIOUS ISSUES FEATURING LAWRENCE DAGSTINE:

NOVA_24_Small

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

 

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: “The New York Yankees 2009…”

NEW YORK CITY

HOME OF CHAMPIONS!!!

yankeesCongratulations to the New York Yankees… Championship No. 27.

2009 MLB World Series – Bronx, New York.