Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Categorized: Business

When Amazon’s publishing program, Kindle Direct Publishing launched, many authors had high hopes. KDP promised writers a seemingly fair shot at visibility, competitiveness and better compensation. KDP and it’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program—in theory—presented what appeared to be a more “meritocratic” chance at fame and fortune. Paid per page read. Good books would make more money!

Btw, it’s me. Cait Reynolds. Taking over, yet again. I’m here to continue Kristen’s dismantling of the most common grifts impacting writers. She asked me to talk about a subject that, sadly, I know all too well. The Kindle Direct Publishing—KU Grift.

This is an updated and CORRECTED post…I forgot I was writing and using my own mental shortcut of just calling everything KDP. I’m only human…well…mostly human. Part hamster. 

*has flashback* *everything spinning*

Where was I? Oh, yes..

As I said, at first KU looked like a sweet deal. Meritocracy! FINALLY!

Yay US!

Initially, it sounded like a great idea and KDP did have some notable accomplishments, like shaking up legacy publishing and allowing fresh and diverse voices a chance to be heard.

Many writers were super excited. So much to celebrate! We were so tired of being used by those “other publishers” who didn’t SUPPORT OUR DREAM. We were thrilled KDP and KU was different.

Success was OURS! If we just worked hard enough, put out enough content, and promoted until we dropped dead from karoshi (Japanese for ‘death by overwork’)….

*screeching noise*

Wait, what?

Does all this sound familiar?

If you haven’t noticed, KLamb and I are tackling the multitude of ways writers are being exploited, used, abused, and often shamed for wanting to be paid in actual money.

Which brings us to KU, or as I like to call it…

The KU Hamster Wheel of Death

Kindle Unlimited? Yeah, We Tumbled. I Know…Things…

My name is Cait Reynolds, and I’m a KU Survivor.

KU and me? We go back a ways. I was once young and foolish with more dreams than sense. KU reduced me to the animal state. More hamster than writer.

Oh, but the price I paid for wisdom.

I was one of the lucky ones. I escaped, bloodied and battered, but thankful to be alive with all four paws. Others were not so fortunate. May Squeaky rest in peace… *moment of silence*

We all start out the same. We want action, adventure…RICHES. Alas. Truth in war and KU is much the same. More gory than glory.

Vintage photo of Cait Reynolds during her tenure with various defunct publishers…

I’m the tough, battle-scarred old hamster sitting in my corner of the darkened rodent cage far from where the young ones socialize at the Nutri-Log. They’re still fit enough to enjoy the habitrail.

I sit alone in my corner, a bottle of gut-rot clipped nearby. With my good eye, I watch all the brash young hamsters eager to see some real action at last. A thoughtful youngster notices me and, on a dare from the others, approaches slowly.

I’ve been known to bite, so his caution shows he has at least some smarts.

The kid’s fearless and bold. He tells me he’s got a book and just signed up for his first tour of duty with KU. Amazon has given him orders to deploy. He’s off to Kindle Unlimited where The Wheel awaits.

“Is it glorious like in the stories?” he asks, voice quaking with forced cheer.

“Son,” I say, sipping my bathtub gin from the spout. “Walk away.”

“I can’t,” he says, stammering. “All my friends. They say it’s the best way to go BIG! One member of our group made ten thousand dollars in a week using KU!”

“Really? Who? Name.” My whiskers twitch.

“Um…um….” He backs up.

“NAME!” I shout, slamming my paw hard into the cage making it rattle.

Everyone is silent. All eyes are on us.

The kid shuffles his paws through the urine-soaked sawdust. “I uh, well it was actually a guy from a group who had a friend of a friend who knew this writer…”

“The Wheel will kill you. The Wheel is pain and death.” Lowering my voice, I say, “You wanna live? Walk away.”

I raise my voice for the others. “Do not tangle with THE WHEEL. The KU WHEEL cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be bargained with. And it will not stop ever…until you are dead.”

Come with me if you want to live…

Kindle Unlimited—To Beat the KU Wheel, KNOW The Wheel!

KDP, KDP Publishing, Pay the Writer, Cait Reynolds
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Daniel Davis

I told my metaphoric hamster story to (hopefully) make an impression. This is a matter of life and death. Writers are fighting for survival while the rich play games at our expense.

Amazon promises authors—via KDP—that we can be that successful author who quits the day job in a haze of confetti, middle fingers, and glory.

Exposing the KU WHEEL…

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing promises if we (writers) just work hard enough, we can become that mythical creature known as The Kindle Millionaire.

Oooooohhhhh…. Ahhhhhh…..

If we can suffer through the grind and suck, it will pay off and our biggest worry will be how to choose between offers from HBO or Showtime. Coin toss maybe?

If we just work hard enough, we will find a way to:

Single-handedly manage the workflow for a producing a book from start-to-finish every two-to-four weeks while…

Keeping up with daily meaningful interaction with ALL our followers on InstaFaceTwitChat while…

Driving massive traffic to our Rafflecopter giveaways while…

Hosting fun, unforgettable Facebook events, setting up blog tours, adding to our list of newsletter subscribers while…

Also doing all the freelance work of cover design/editing/proofreading/marketing support that we pick up in order to make ends meet while….

Working a day job and maybe bathing.

Okay, forget bathing *sprays on Axe for Women*.

We do ALL OF THIS…until our Kindle Millionaire status kicks in!

KU Dream? It Was Never Gonna Happen

The point is that the KU model drives authors to get continually faster and louder just to hold onto their place in the rankings, let alone go up.

Faster and louder also means continually having to spend more money up front on marketing and book production.

There’s no delayed reaction windfall coming from KU.

There never will be.

There simply cannot be because we will never be able to catch up or even truly get ahead. Even when it looks like we have finally got the hang of a successful book production and release strategy, Amazon changes the rules and algorithms on us.

Why? Because they can.

Because they have to. Because they’re not in the business of making anybody other than Amazon shareholders truly rich.

Remember that.

In order to generate income in this model, we have to create volume of pages to be read and market the crap out of those pages. We are also competing against all the other authors who are doing the same thing. Therefore, we must create more volume and do more marketing.

And NOW you understand the KDP Hamster Wheel of Death.

No it isn’t fair. Fair is a weather condition.

And, like Kristen says, “Amazon is gonna Amazon.”

Show Us the Money Kindle Unlimited! Oh, You Can’t!

Why are we writers in such a hurry to churn out the pages? WHY are we in that much of a rush to earn that whopping $0.00419 per page read (August 2017 KDP Global Fund Payout)?

Let’s take a moment to examine the KU payout structure more closely.

The KDP Global Fund is the pool of money from Kindle Unlimited subscribers. It’s what funds the royalty payouts to authors. The KDP Global Fund has grown steadily since its inception.

Payouts from the fund, however, have stalled, stagnated, and even declined.

KDP Payout Rates
Image from Written Word Media (writtenwordmedia.com), 4/13/17. It’s an excellent article with insight into the inner workings of KDP.

Case in Point

If a reader outright buys a 100-page ebook at $2.99, the author makes $2.09 in royalties. If a reader borrows the book via Kindle Unlimited and only reads 30 pages, the author makes $0.12. The payout is capped at $0.75 via Kindle Unlimited.

The reader is also under no time constraints to read the book. They could read those 30 pages the same day, or six months from now.

Or never.

The author has no control over when and how many pages are read. That’s like trying to run a business without knowing when your customers are going to pay you, how much they will pay you…or if they EVER WILL pay you.

On what planet is this a successful business model?

Let’s open a bakery where a customer takes her choice of our cakes and only pays us if and when she eats the cake, and pays per bite. But if the consumer never eats the cake or decides to return the cake for another cake after taking two bites…then too bad.

WTH?

Oh, so this business model dumb for a baker but AWESOME for writers? No. It isn’t.

The KU Grift

KDP, Cait Reynolds, Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon is pulling a grift with Kindle Unlimited and counting on the naivete of most readers and writers. Remember Kristen’s earlier post? The best hustles are completely legal.

Most people want to believe in a world where business is conducted in good faith, because to think differently is terrifying. We must have a certain amount of faith and trust or everything crumbles.

Amazon offers the Kindle Unlimited service to avid readers who–in good faith–assume Amazon is working for the benefit of the authors participating in the program.

Those enjoying the benefits of KU assume writers are being compensated and treated justly (much like most readers of HuffPo blogs have no idea most writers are unpaid workers).

Writers, simultaneously, are relying on urban legends and empty promises while killing themselves for fractions of pennies….and it looks a lot like this.

Are We a Human or a Hamster? A Writer or a Rat?

Kristen has talked a lot about blogging and exposure. MEGAs can be predator or benefactor depending on how well we are educated (because MEGAs can spot a sucker and always need more to power the grift).

Same applies to Amazon. Amazon is not our friend…but also not necessarily our enemy. KDP and KU can be useful. It has a purpose and can offer benefits which we will talk about another time. But, like all MEGAs, Amazon must be handled with CARE.

Approach is everything and education and strategy is key. Be willing to walk away and trust in something better.

***

Thank you, Cait! I actually asked her to do this post since the young hamster in the story…was me. And she stabbed me. But we made up and became besties 😀 .

What are your thoughts? Have you been caught on the KU wheel? Survived? Lived to tell the tale?

I have some new classes below to help you out and show you HOW to play to WIN, so make sure to sign up.

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

DON’T MISS KRISTEN’S NEXT CLASS!

HARNESSING OUR WRITING POWER–THE BLOG!

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50.00 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: THURSDAY OCTOBER 26th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Whenever I mention the word “blog” writers go pale and likely envision some mindless alien life form that rolls over crowds of screaming people, then melts and absorbs them.

For clarification that is the BLOB and NOT the Blog. Though the way blogging is so frequently taught? Totally understand the confusion.

Blogging is THE most powerful form of social media, and ALSO the most misused and misunderstood (hence why writers avoid it and throw holy water on it).

Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

Oh it is also the easiest of all forms of social media to monetize and the more love you give it, the more it will give back.

This class is going to cover:

  • How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
  • What do we blog about? What is going to draw readers and get them excited?
  • How do we understand the magical sorcery of Google and harness it to work our WILL? *evil laugh*
  • How can we monetize a blog? Oh no! Asking for money! Scary stuff indeed.
  • How can you cultivate a fan base of people who are uniquely YOUR fans?
  • How does a blog sell books? Because they do…seriously.

Blogging is only hard if we make it that way. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.

NOW OFFERING BLOGGING GOLD!

Includes the class (recording included free in purchase price) PLUS one hour with me one-on-one discussing your brand and your blog. How can you connect to and cultivate YOUR readers?

Blurb - Cait Reynolds
BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

 

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

Writing exposure. A phrase that makes my left eye twitch. For over a decade, many writers have been killing themselves (and their careers) believing a lie, an illusion, and a flat out SCAM. Countless writers have been giving their best to launch their brand and their career, trusting those who claimed to be helping them…doing them a favor even.

NOT!

Writers and other creatives truly believed good content, diligence and hard work would pay off…and it does. Writing exposure doesn’t have to be dirty and predatory. Getting our name and work out there is critical in Web 2.0 (a brand/platform).

But…

We’ve been taken unfair advantage of, and this nonsense ends NOW. We’ve been part of an illusion. We knew writing was a gamble, yet many of us fell for a grift.

We thought we were a contender, never realizing we were actually the mark.

Yet, knowledge is power. There’s nothing wrong with risking and losing. In fact it’s necessary. We learn more from failure than success. We grow and mature and get better.

There are no sure wins, no sure-fire paths to success with an express elevator. Every path to being a contender is a gamble.

But if we keep losing and losing and losing…and losing, something is going horribly wrong. My goal today is to take yet one more step toward righting the wrongs committed against hard-working creatives and showing them a way to be free.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure
Image courtesy of Eflon via Flickr Creative Commons

Eighteen months ago, all I knew was I was angry—okay foaming at the mouth pissed OFF. I knew creatives were being used, just was unsure how. It’s taken me over a year and a half to figure out the hustle, to understand exactly what game the MEGAs are playing and how they’re using this to (often) play us for suckers.

***NOTE: For anyone new to this blog or series of posts, when I use the term MEGA, I’m referring to very large wealthy brands who are super fond of paying creative professionals in “exposure dollars”…all the while knowing that currency hasn’t been valuable since Abercrombie and Fitch was cool.

These brands are also wealthy enough to pay contributors, but why should they if content creators are so eager to work for free, for the golden writing exposure?

Yes, still looking at you Huffington Post.

As mentioned in my last post Pay the Writer 2–Out Hustle the Hustlers, the key (aside from realizing we’re being hustled in the first place) is to study the hustle long enough to unravel how it all works.

This important because we must know our weaknesses and how they’ve been used against us.

The LOVE of the GAME

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, one of the main characters, Wednesday—who’s a shameless con man and a grifter—relates the story of the infamous 19th century gambler, Canada Bill Jones, who was in a small town doing what he loved to do.

Gambling.

Of course Jones was also steadily losing. A friend tried to intercede and told him, “The game is rigged.” Jones’s famous reply was, “I know, but it’s the only game in town.”

Thing was, Jones loved to gamble. It was who he was, and his gambling was a passion that drove him and gave him some kind of pleasure, even while losing.

We writers can be the same way, blinded by a similar passion, which is why we can make easy marks paid in exposure dollars.

We love to write. It’s who we are and we’re often willing to do it for FREE. We are willing to keep writing even when we’re being taken unfair advantage of…because we love it so much.

Thing is, those who are most likely to prey on creatives know that about us. They use this love—our passion—to keep us playing a losing game.

We might not see this weak spot, but predators will and do. The MEGAs couldn’t get away with the grift as successfully as they have if writers got smarter.

Which is where I come in. My first revelation is this:

The MEGAs are not the only game in town.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

We might be gamblers, but we can refuse the grift.

We do have better and smarter options that pay out real money not “exposure dollars.”

The MEGAs have been playing the odds, wagering that writers would fail to see the grift and keep on hitting PUBLISH with the raw enthusiasm of a hamster randomly rewarded with a cheap sugar cube. 

When (or if) a writer complains about never being paid, the MEGA is there to gently remind the writer that the entertainment business is a gamble…which is not exactly a lie.

But it isn’t entirely the truth, either.

The problem is we believe we’re playing Publishing Poker at the BRAND Bellagio, when it’s more like the Content Cup Shuffle run by some shady dude on a street corner. He rooks us in with an “easy challenge” and a quick “win” that keeps the hustle going.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure
Image courtesy of oatsy40 Flickr Creative commons

Can we spot the peanut?

Eventually, we’re all hunting for a nut that’s no longer in play—unless you count us, because only a nut would think they could win this game.

The MEGA game (anything paying in only “exposure” dollars) can never be won…because it’s a hustle. The second every creative realizes this and refuses to play, the MEGA house of cards implodes.

Okay, so knowing writing is a gamble, it’s wise to learn how professional gambling operates so we can spot the game from the grift. We can leave Plastic Cup Dude the peanuts and get involved in a real game we can win.

Understanding how to win involves knowing what game to play and with whom. We need our work out there. Writing exposure critical, but we must control the game like pros.

Professional Poker

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure
Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Goeffrey Fairchild

See, folks who make a living playing professional poker understand the casino is a means to an end and vice versaPro gamblers don’t let the crystal and marble and all-you-can-eat buffets go to their heads. Flattery is rampant, but the pro shrugs it off.

It’s a distraction.

No professional gambler wins every single game. They also lose. Yet, in the end, the casino profits no matter what because they are in it for the long game. There are enough games going on for it to all work out. Some win, some lose but ultimately the chandeliers are paid for.

The pro gambler fundamentally understands this:

While the House is friendly, the House is not the gambler’s friend. 

The pro gambler always remembers and respects this difference. Yet, the House remembers and respects this as well. The House knows they need the gamblers, and it’s unwise to use and abuse the guests who pay the bills. They need to let the gamblers win.

Greed is a double-edged sword handled with care by both gambler and the House.

Professional Publishing IS a Gamble

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure
Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Club Paf

Publishers, agents, magazines, and book distributors are not our friend, but this doesn’t make them our enemy either—much like the pro gambler and the casino.

Yet the difference in the street hustle versus the pro game is this:

The hustle is ALWAYS a parasitic relationship (one side works for exposure and the other gets PAID REAL MONEY).

With the pros, it’s a far more symbiotic partnership, with BOTH sides taking calculated risks, playing odds, hedging losses and everyone hoping to win big. BOTH SIDES get PAID REAL MONEY.

Legit publishers appreciate that wins and losses generally balance out over time, so long as they aren’t being stupid. Sure the Big Five give Neil Gaiman the red carpet treatment, because he’s a high-roller.

Mr Gaiman has earned that red-carpet treatment because the House has made serious bank off his work (and even Neil Gaiman started out as a small time player in the beginning). Yet, after years of hard work and calculated risks, Neil Gaiman is a CONTENDER.

Contenders are the household name authors who bring the House enough revenue to cover that newbie who seemed so promising…yet fizzled.

For the pros, it is a game of balancing risk and reward for all.

The rest of us who are NOT yet a contender like Neil Gaiman have a path. We hone our craft, build our audience, build our brand, learn the business of our business.

We work hard and learn to be patient while also being simultaneously relentless….all the while appreciating the deck is stacked against us. Writing exposure vital, but must be done with strategy for the payoff.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

Unlike 20th century publishing, there’s now more than one road that leads to being a CONTENDER.

There are a number of paths writers can take…but they are all a gamble. Legacy, small press, indie, self-pub, blog-to-book, crowd-sourcing, hybrid, and on and on. Lots of roads and many paths to being a CONTENDER.

This said some paths are not paths. They are DEAD ENDS where WE (writers) are the other white meat. These “paths” are scams. Writing exposure often means we’re just food for the MEGAs’ insatiable hunger for free content.

Writing Exposure: Gamble or Grift? How Can We Tell?

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposureGood question and there are a LOT of grifts going on, which we will systematically tackle in other posts. Today, for the sake of brevity, we’ll talk about the one that burns my tail more than any other and is the most common.

The Blog for Our MEGA & Use Our BIG Name & HUGE Audiences Grift

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

One of the best ways for writers to create a brand and eventually sell books and make money is to blog. That is a fact. How we go about it, however, makes a HUGE difference. MEGA brands, however, as mentioned in my previous post, keep us writing like it’s 1999.

Often a MEGA will come and say something like, “Hey! We saw your post on BLAH and love it! We want to showcase your talent!”

Beware of flattery.

“It’s easy, too!”

Beware of easy.

Often they will come at you with a plan that sounds like sheer genius. We may have blogged to the ether. We are tired and we’d like some help. We don’t want to go it all alone and are looking for some benevolent force to propel us to a new level…and they know that.

The MEGA might say something like:

“We don’t even expect you to write a new post. Why NOT repurpose something you’ve ALREADY written? We can get it to a larger audience. You can still write on your little blog and get our audience too. It’s a favor…really.”

Hmmm, maybe…

“AND you get exposed to our audience which is millions! That and you can link back to YOUR blog and BE DISCOVERED!”

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

Before you get all excited about writing for exposure, ask the next logical question.

How did the MEGA know to contact you in the first place?

Often a MEGA will contact us because our post was doing well enough on its own to get their attention…meaning it can get the attention of OTHERS as well.

The reason this is a grift is the MEGAs know a couple things many writers do not.

First, they understand your content was good enough for people to notice—FOR THEM to notice–and they want to cash in on opportunity. If they can get our work (excellent & FREE bait) on their site, every click on our good work pays THEM MONEY because they’re optimized in a way we can never compete with.

We’re working for exposure while they are paid in cold hard cash.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure
Image via Jeremy Noble courtesy of Flickr Creative commons. Text added.

Secondly, they understand how search engines work. The MEGAs know search engines like Google penalize for duplicate content.

They know it is impossible for a writer to serve two digital masters.

What this means is that if I post a blog here on my blog and then the same post at Huffington…the bigger SEO shark wins.

In fact, even if I wrote two completely different blogs…bigger SEO shark would likely win because they beat me hands down with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

I cannot compete with an entity that has tens or hundreds of writers putting out new content daily…short of cloning myself.

Anyone googling my name would be far more likely to find the MEGA and not me. The reader clicking on MY content will also PAY the MEGA and NOT me.

By blogging for exposure I am unwittingly cannibalizing my own brand and earning ability while building the ALREADY RICH MEGA….for FREE.

writing exposure, Exposure dollars, Pexel, Kristen Lamb, writers working for free, writers working for exposure

This is where we get smart about writing exposure. If I would’ve simply kept plugging along with the content that got the MEGA’s attention in the first place, I’d KNOW I was doing something right…because THEY WANTED IT.

I’d have confirmation I was on my way to having my own audience on my own site where eventually I’d make money off ads, books, merchandise, etc.

Sure I’m going to work for free but when I go it on my own, FREE is only temporary.

It’s a gamble. We all know this! I will have to work hard, hone my craft, put in a lot of time and work and posts. I’ll have to take risks, try new things, and build my audience.

But THAT is the gamble NOT the grift 😉 .

What about you? What are your thoughts?

Have you been overwhelmed with social media? Tired? Worn out and all the love gone? Feel like a hamster in a wheel? Ready to get your power back? YOU ARE WORTH BEING PAID! Don’t know about you, but if we can have fair trade coffee, we can also get fair trade fiction, fair trade content. This nonsense MUST STOP!

Time to take back your power! I have some new classes below to help you out and show you HOW to play to WIN, so make sure to sign up.

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Harnessing Writing Power! THE BLOG October 26th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $50 for General Admission, GOLD Option AVAILABLE!

BRAND BOSS! When Your NAME ALONE Can SELL! November 9th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $45 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

PLOT BOSS! Writing Novels Readers WANT TO BUY! November 16th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $40 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

 

So last week I discussed the new and fairly grim reality for many creatives. I pointed out the big picture of what’s really going on in the New Publishing Paradigm—The Matrix. Playing a short, blonde, sassy Morpheus from Texas…I offered a choice…

The Blue Pill—get paid in exposure dollars and empty promises.

OR the Red Pill—tough truth, hard work, but a way forward for authentic PAID success.

If you’re the Red Pill crowd, Wonderland is gone and now I’m telling you the game is rigged and it’s all a hustle. The MEGAs (big brands, I.e. Huffington Post) are using us as human batteries to power their brand.

And once you recover from envisioning a female middle-aged Morpheus in yoga pants…your next question might be, “Fine, no how do we get PAID?”

We beat the hustle 😉 .

*hands paper bag* It’s fine. I am here.

I want y’all to HUSTLE…not GET HUSTLED. Big—no HUGE—difference.

Step One: Best way to beat a hustle is to know we’re being hustled in the first place.

That’s what I hopefully did in my post Welcome to the Matrix—You Work for Free and there IS NO Payday.

I’ve known the hustle existed for a long time and my first time calling it out involved blood, guts and being called the “c” word more times than ever in my life.

Creative is not the word I am referring to. Nope, not clever either. Compassionate? Um…nope. Not that one either.

Anyway…

Almost two years ago, I blew up the Internet with my first Pay the Writer post, but at the time, I only knew enough to be royally ticked off…ok, blind with rage is more accurate.

In hindsight? Not the best approach, but a start.

I’ve grown a lot since then. I’m wiser and have had more time to study the “game.”

Though back in 2016 I knew writers (creatives) were getting shafted, I hadn’t figured much of anything out beyond that. It’s taken me eighteen months to unravel HOW those exploiting us were doing what they were doing (and HOW they’re still doing it).

HOW were/are they getting us to so eagerly go along, calm as Hindu cash cows?

The Hustle

If we look to the slang definition of hustle it is an inducing by fraud, pressure or deception, especially of inexperienced or uniformed persons to buy something or participate in an illicit scheme. It also means to fraud or to deceive.

Please keep in mind that the best hustles are completely legal.

Everything we creatives have endured by and large is completely legal and we willingly consented.

Yet, with new information, we now have the option to revoke our consent.

All this said, blame games and being a victim aren’t my thing, so I take the mea culpa. In defense of all parties involved we knew this was uncharted territory and well…mistakes were made.

Whether this behavior continues, by and large is up to author education. Here’s where I come in.

If being paid in feel-goods and participation trophies is cool with you? Rock on. Keep on posting. Not all writers have the same goals. But for those who desire a paid career, we need to get street smart.

What POWERS the Hustle? BLOOD IN THE WATER

All hustlers from con men to that deadbeat ex we fell for sophomore year all work the same way. Like sharks, they can taste blood in the water. Blood in the water means something/someone is injured or damaged.

They must select the perfect mark in order for the hustle to offer the largest payoff for the least effort (MAX ROI).

Even in completely legal “hustles.” Okay especially in legal hustles.

A family member of mine recently went through a nasty divorce. I begged her to let me help her with searching for a new house. She didn’t want to be a burden and fell victim to a real estate agent with no scruples.

What this agent did was technically legal. But the agent spotted an angry, deeply wounded female with no work history and no real world experience on her own alone and unguarded…who could be cajoled into a seriously BAD deal.

The real estate agent probably “deeply cared” about my family member…until the commission check cleared. Sadly my family member is now in for a rough road.

Emotion, desire, longing, fear, doubt, insecurity are all blood in the water for any kind of hustle.

The MEGAs use our fear, lack of knowledge, our insecurity coupled with our desire for approval against us. They know a lot of creatives over the age of thirty-five are scared of the Internet, used to the old world, and desperate for a helping hand to guide them.

They don’t believe they can go it alone.

Us older writers are also are most likely to want to believe we’re still playing the same game with the same rules only in digital form and the MEGAs are happy to let us believe that lovely lie and pray we take the blue pill.

We are the perfect mark—target—for blogging for free (exposure dollars).

The MEGAs know the money is and always will be IN THE ADS (and are counting on us not putting this all together).

MEGAs convince us we cannot possibly make it without them and we need them and are better working for them even if it is for free (“temporarily” of course).

Patently 100% false.

Millennials?

Snowflake Honey Badger Don’t Care

Millennials grew up on-line teething on keyboards and have paved the way we can follow. Sure Millennials might be “delicate” in other ways, but ON-LINE?

*backs away slowly and makes notes*

Millennials are like the honey badgers of social media. Honey badger don’t care!

***linked to the video I am referencing but warning you there are curse words…yet SO APROPOS****

They bite into stuff, chase social media snakes, take what they want, get stung, then bitten by digital cobras, pass out and sleep off the venom…then eat the cobra that just bit them and resume digging and working and move along unfazed.

It’s why a lot of Millennials have become the new MEGA brands of the 21st century.

Millennials have been able to be the honey badgers of social media because they were never the ideal target for the hustle.

Why do I need you to make me a star? I ALREADY AM ONE!

Money? Meh, I live at home.

Exposure? Wikipedia says people die from that.

Because the Millennial MEGAs started out young and fearless with technology, they held an advantage. They never knew a world with gatekeepers or rules and if there were rules, then they didn’t matter. Rules didn’t apply to THEM. Since they didn’t have bills to pay they had a lot of freedom to work for free…authentically.

Keep that in mind.

The Game Has Changed and SO HAVE THE RULES

We keep thinking we are playing the old paradigm publishing game. Write, get exposure, build a CV, pass gatekeepers and POOF paid work comes our way.

Not so fast.

Remember it’s a different game entirely. The old rules NO LONGER APPLY.

Just try playing Monopoly using the rules from RISK with Tiddly Winks on a Chinese Checkers board and see if you aren’t ready to start drinking heavily by noon.

Yet that’s essentially what we older writers have been doing since 2006. We allowed the MEGAs to guide us because they had the power, brains and resources and they said they would help us learn the new game. Right?

Right?

The Honey Badger Hustle

In my POV, making this simple, there are three options for writers who want to be PAID.

Option One: Refuse to Play

Some writers simply refuse to get on-line. They write books and have no want for social media, and that’s cool if you can write a book a month and simply bombard Amazon with so many books something eventually sticks (though without social media this is a tough way to get paid, but doable).

Option Two: Play Our Own Game

We build our brand. If we’re going to work for free then it will be for OUR BRAND. We build our brand any number of ways (my preference is the blog because no one can arbitrarily shut down your site). But whether it is videos, blogs, images, it is under OUR NAME.

We cultivate our own audience and eventually they will know us, hopefully like us and buy books and such.

Option Three: The Honey Badger Hustle

Option two can naturally dovetail into this. In fact, it is on my business plan. I hope more of you join us. The more honey badgers, the better for creatives. We must stop caring so much.

Trust the process. Build a brand, cultivate an audience and THEN approval and money eventually will come, but only if we are fearless and selfish. We must rabidly guard our dreams and HUSTLE.

Millennials inherently or accidentally understood that if they built it (the audience) the MEGAs would come…to THEM with MONEY.

We can learn from this. A lot of bloggers already have.

I know a mommy blogger who’s making $15,000 a month…off ADS ALONE.

Trust me, she started at ground zero and didn’t waste time or content on any MEGA to “launch” her. They pay HER to help THEM.

The Honey Badger Hustle is when we understand the hustle and use it to OUR advantage—out-hustle the hustler, so to speak. We still can write for MEGAs but in a symbiotic way. Everyone wins.

Now, I’m off to eat some snakes 😉 ….

In the End

We’ll unpack this grift more as we go along. This is a system over a decade in the making, and I can’t unravel it with one or two posts.

Yet, if you Honey Badger UP, learn to be fearless. You can be tough, but social media is NOT tough. Teenagers can figure it out. A toddler with an iPhone can do better than a lot of us.

I can help you. We are all worth being paid for what we do well and anyone shaming you for wanting to be paid is a user.

Honey badgers don’t care.

What are your thoughts? Have you been afraid of social media? Confused and thinking you were playing the old game and the old rules? Are you scared? It’s cool. Shows you are onto something. I am here. Haven’t abandoned y’all in eight years, so y’all are stuck with me.

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I hope you take the red pill, and I am here to guide you.

Social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need solid training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid a never ending stream of cash to “manage your brand”. You also DO NOT meed MEGAs to “launch you.”

I can train you what to do and how it all works. How you can create something where MEGAs come to YOU…

I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans & Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog

I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below, especially to properly prep for Nano.

Fail to plan, plan to fail 😉 .

****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart 😀 .

Blurb - Cait Reynolds
BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of John Seb Barber

This post is for creative professionals (namely writers) who desire to make a living writing full time being paid real money. If you’re writing simply for fun or enjoyment or love, then that’s wonderful! But if you long to be paid to do what you love, then read on because you work for free and there IS NO PAYDAY.

Sorry to be the one to break the news. Nah, not really.

Today’s post is one of those crucial conversations we need to have because the creative world is at a crisis point.

While New Publishing has offered us a lot of new freedom, freedom is always scary and even dangerous. It’s especially scary for those of us who grew up in a pre-digital world.

So let me say this…

Millennials often get a bad rap. They’ve been called “the most selfish generation ever.” They’re enamored with social media and obsessed with personal brands. Surrounded by participation trophies and emojis, these young people have a developed a sense of bulletproof “specialness” that rivals Steve Jobs’ famous “reality distortion field.”

BTW…this is not entirely a bad thing 😉

By the end of this post, I hope you see how much we have to learn from this insane, passionate and yes, often “deluded” generation. How maybe, just maybe these crazy kids know a hell of a lot more than we do and why we’d be wise to take some lessons.

Since this is a longer post, I am breaking into clear sections. I feel breaking this into separate posts would hurt the overall integrity of the lesson. So read all at once or in segments. But I do hope you read it though since your future is at stake and no, I am not just being dramatic.

PART ONE: Birth Of a STAR (Web 2.0)—Yeah This MATTERS

TADA! I am HEEEEERE! And I am SASSY! Call me “Internet.”

Most of us older folks were around when Web 1.0 (the Dot Com Revolution) went up in flames—along with our hopes of getting a job (*Gen X fist bump*). Yet, Millennials were too young to understand the chaos, too busy playing Nintendo to notice that their parents suddenly took up drinking while they stared, weeping, at their investment portfolios.

Then an odd thing happened, an event completely and utterly unplanned.

From the liquified remains of Web 1.0’s decaying parts something stirred in the primordial ooze of 0s and 1s. It wriggled a bit then skittered up from beneath. By sheer accident, a creation unlike anything witnessed in human history was born. Web 2.0 poked its head up from beneath the debris and it had evolved.

Evolved how?

Web 1.0 was fundamentally powered by PAID content. Web 2.0, however, was and continues to be powered by user-generated content (or UNPAID content).

This was a radical shift. Trust me, none of the dot.com investors were ever keen on the idea of anything being free. EVER. Like, how can we get stamps for email? They HATED free. Free couldn’t be controlled, measured and monetized. Free…was well FREE. Nobody gets rich with FREE? WTH?

The dreamers who envisioned the world they longed to build in Web 1.0 rejoiced at Web 2.0. Meanwhile those who were in the investing and making money business had more this reaction…

***And as a warning, I’ll be mixing metaphors more than a 90s DJ, but y’all are smart, so roll with it.

Anyway, to grasp what a HUGE deal this shift really was, think of it this way:

Web 1.0 was fossil fuels. Fossil fuels can be controlled, restricted and given a PRICE. This paradigm makes a small sector of people obscenely rich, and even more powerful.

Web 2.0, conversely, is more like fusion. Never ending energy and self-sustaining. Fusion, however, is impossible to control and a %$#@ to monetize. No business wants our cars or homes powered by fusion because we’d have all the power we needed…forever and they’d be irrelevant and broke.

Businesses don’t get rich unless they can control and monetize. Keep this in mind.

This, however, does NOT change the simple fact that Web 2.0 has the power of a star, or rather stars give it power 😉 .

Stars like our sun burn bright because of the constant fusion of two molecules of hydrogen that bond (share valences and electrons) to create helium. That bonding then releases energy in the form of light and heat. Sure one day the sun will burn out but that won’t be for a seriously long damn time.

Web 2.0 is powered in a similar fashion, though fusion is between people.

Users share valences, but instead of electrons, we share memes, pictures, videos, blogs, and gluten-free cherry cobbler recipes.

For instance, when one person shares a a funny meme, there is a reaction of energy (laughter) and this is then shared again–>setting off the reaction and constant energy that is the dynamic and powerful Web 2.0.

Made you laugh, right?

Without sharing of content, the energy would disappear much like a star winking out because it no longer had hydrogen (memes) to share.

This is a major reason why a lot of stuff needs to be shared for FREE. The more sharing, the more energy. If people had to pay a fee for every blog or picture they shared, they’d lose interest and likely rediscover a lost love for vinyl records and hanging out in mall food courts.

Initially this whole FREE was terrifying for the powerful and mega-rich who wanted to remain powerful and mega-rich. How could they keep and even increase their status and wealth in a world powered by FREE? Newspapers and magazine sales were plummeting and people were no longer paying attention to ads and commercials.

The RICH…they were suffering. This whole FREE thing threatened all they’d worked so hard to….wait a minute….

Never mind. Nothing to see.

PART TWO: YOU ARE A BATTERY

So how DID the mega-rich media brands (the MEGAs) talk us into making them even richer? They cooked up a business model that is pure (evil) genius and they did this by working together.

See, we all thought The Matrix was a movie *falls over laughing*. Nope. The MEGAs created their own Matrix and we (content creators) are the batteries.

Useful, necessary, disposable and easily replaced.

The entire MEGA business model hinges on content creators being ignorant because that’s how they can keep using us as a power source. The MEGA media brands needed content and the MEGA other brands (McDonald’s, GEIKO, Starbucks) needed to remain top of mind.

To accomplish this, though, they had to pull off a magic show that Criss Angel couldn’t pull off if he sewed himself to David Copperfield.

The MEGAs counted on basic human nostalgia and bet that we would hold on to outdated thinking of how success actually happens. If we did this, we’d make perfect and compliant batteries.

The MEGAs are counting on us working like it’s 1999, like we are in Web 1.0 (paid content) and not in Web 2.0 (unpaid content).

Batteries don’t work with near the gusto when they realize they’re being used up. How have the MEGAs been able to convince us to enslave ourselves? Same way as in The Matrix.

The MEGAs use our ignorance and fear of authentic freedom to keep us compliant. They manipulate the rules of how the world really works. How business and success works.

They feed us outdated advice we grew up on because that’s the world we know and that keeps us obedient.

We Need Exposure to Succeed—Wait….WHAT?

Back before Web 2.0 exposure was highly valuable. Writers could often get their start writing for free or nearly free for a small publication like a local paper. The point of taking the temporary monetary hit was that working for free was an investment in our future.

Exposure was a great idea. Why?

Because before Web 2.0 there was no other cost-effective way for the small fish to reach a large audience. Exposure gave us access to an audience we had NO OTHER WAY TO REACH.

With strict gatekeepers in play, we had to earn our stripes and build an impressive CV by working for free or close to free to get the paid work then the (ideally) BIG PAYING work. Can you say syndication?

Writers needed publishers, magazines and major media outlets for exposure, for the simple reason we had no other way to expose ourselves…that didn’t generally involve handcuffs, a hefty fine and court-ordered therapy.

Times have changed, yet many content creators haven’t realized this.

Gatekeepers are pretty much gone, everyone can be published, very few media outlets PAY, and exposure is a useless currency.

Yet many content creators still take it as payment. Why?

Because we are like the humans plugged into The Matrix, unaware what’s truly going on. We are operating as if we are in a world where a CV is vital, where some big brand is going to launch our careers and where all this exposure will eventually pay off.

The MEGAs saw what the Millennials saw. The MEGAs used (and continue to use) our ignorance to their massive advantage.

How? Hope you guys are ready to get unplugged. Expect some wobbly legs but you will be free.

The Red Pill or the Blue?

Today, I get to be Morpheus. The red pill or the blue? You can choose reality or the fiction of reality.

The MEGAs are counting on us a) remaining ignorant batteries who don’t understand how Web 2.0 really works or b) that we will swallow the blue pill and remain in Wonderland.

Wonderland is what we grew up with…that had no power to get big on our own and required the blessing of a MEGA if we hoped to make it BIG.

The blue pill reinforces that attention from a MEGA will catapult us into fame and fortune faster than you can say “Oprah’s Book of the Month.”

But that is no longer reality.

The Blue Pill World

We’re now in a world where the rich are getting richer by selling us (content creators) dreams and paying us in “exposure” dollars even though they know that currency is akin to paying us in Monopoly money.

The MEGAs know what Millennials knew all along. They SAW the door, too.

MEGAs know Web 2.0 works best when your brand can churn out great content. The more the better.

Unlike Web 1.0 where the content (I.e. an article) was the product for sale, now the content is merely the bait for paid advertising, products or services which is where the actual money is made.

The MEGAs are using our hard work, gifts and talent to make themselves richer and enhance THEIR brand at the expense of our dreams and futures.

The Matrix created by the MEGAs is NOT a symbiotic relationship. It is fundamentally parasitic. The MEGAs get stronger by using up compliant content creators paid in feel-goods and bragging rights.

Down the Rabbit Hole

What if we take the red pill though? What is really happening? What is going on?

If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know exactly what I feel about Huffington Post and the creator Arianna Huffington.

I’m using Huffington Post because *shrugs* it’s used writers for years. What? Seems only fair to me.

A.H. created Huffington to give unknowns a platform, where by some “exposure magic” writing entrepreneurs would eventually get paid writing jobs. Hey, maybe in the beginning that was the goal. Who knows?

Don’t care because the HuffPo goal, agenda, and business model shifted from symbiotic to parasitic faster than you can say CLICK FOR MORE!

See, Huffington Post figured out there were a lot of eager content creators dying to get their work out there and this presented a ripe business opportunity. With Web 2.0 Huffington Post knew it needed lots and lots of AMAZING content churned out everyday to make money…off ads and clicks.

But, like I said, this wasn’t 1999 and the money wasn’t in the actual content. #DUH

Consumers weren’t buying papers and magazines and were increasingly on-line looking for the same information. Why not give it for FREE?

Great idea!

The MEGAs saw this shift from paper to digital and knew people would gravitate to free. But therein lies the pickle. How can a MEGA brand increase profits?

Cut costs. What was the easiest cost to cut?

US.

How did Huffington Post do this? They built a Matrix.

Give writers some prestige, tell them they are building their CV and their brands just like the good old days. String them along with the promise this free work and “exposure” would eventually lead to a true payoff…and BOOM!

I now present countless worker bees making the sweetest honey ever made—but they will die before ever tasting a single drop.

Huffington Post made hundreds of millions of dollars (and still does) without actually having to pay most of the contributors. This of course, created an even BIGGER problem for the content creators (many still unaware of what’s really going on).

Other MEGA media outlets couldn’t compete if they continued to pay all of their content contributors, which led to these guys embracing the “Exposure Dollar Business Model” and creating their own Matrix.

Thus, any “platform” writing for unpaid MEGA brand for exposure simply led to even more unpaid (or low paid) work for another MEGA for even more exposure….

Welcome to THE MATRIX!

But How Do They Get Away With It?

***NOTE: I have hyperlinked all my assertions to show I am basing my arguments on facts, yet be aware every click feeds the very beast I want to starve.

Over time content creators gave and gave and gave, but the payoff never seemed to come. That was a serious problem, which required some quick thinking to remedy. The MEGAs were faced with two options.

Option One: Pay the content creators.

Scratch that. What kind of nonsense-crazy- mumbo-jumbo-talk is that? NO!

Option Two: Appeal to emotions.

Creative people dig emotions. Use words like “self-fulfillment” “giving” “contributing” “better world” and they’ll totally buy it.

Seriously, watch *giggles*. It works. Look at ’em GO!

I cannot make this stuff up.

Arianna Huffington, in an interview on Forbes encouraged entrepreneurs to focus less on money and power and more on giving and personal fulfillment. This interview was ironically right around the time she sold Huffington Post to AoL for $315 million.

I’m uncertain what dictionary A.H. used for her definition of “entrepreneur” but my definition of “entrepreneur” says nothing about yoga and also claims money and power are a pretty big deal.

Yep, looked up business plans and no diagrams of downward-facing-dog.

A.H. goes on in the interview to basically claim that lack of money and power is not our problem…stress is. We don’t need more money, we need meditation, a balanced meaningful life and more sleep.

Don’t know about you but give me more money and empower me and magically stress goes away. I also sleep way better when I’m not terrified of losing my home.

A.H. also continues to be paid big bucks to give lectures about liberating ourselves from desiring money and power and instead “embracing the third metric.”

…which just leaves me feeling dirty and used. #TouchIt #TouchTheThirdMetric

As mentioned Arianna Huffington sold Huffington Post to AoL for $315 million. Granted Business Insider rallied to her defense that she only made $21 million since a lot of other people (MEGAs) got a piece of the pie.

I feel so much better now t—NO! I don’t. Because of statement like this:

Aren’t you ready to unplug? I sure am!

PART THREE: Collapsing The Matrix—Just Say “NOPE!”

My goal is and always has been to empower authors (creative professionals) and show you that you are valuable and worthwhile.

I’m here to show you the door and help you unplug from the MEGAs that are using you up faster than a Dollar Store battery.

To do this, we’re going to inject you with a BS antidote. This might sting. I’m vaccinating you with a little Business 101.

This is how it all REALLY works.

Content Creators Eagerly Work For Exposure Dollars to Build MEGA BRANDS—> MEGA BRANDS Make MEGA Profits

Content Creators Work for Actual Dollars to Build MEGA BRANDS—> MEGA BRANDS Make WAY LOWER Profits

Content Creators Fed Up Being USED Tell MEGA BRANDS to Embrace Their Own Third Metric—> MEGA BRANDS Forced to Pay Content Creators or Write/Create Their Own $#!*

Content Creators Realize THEY ARE & HAVE ALWAYS BEEN the Brand & Do NOT NEED the MEGA BRAND—> Content Creators Finally Making REAL Money and Living a DREAM NOT an ILLUSION Because MEGAs NOW NEED THEM & PAY THEM

The revenue stream in the digital age is the pay per click, the ads, the products or services for sale. While this isn’t at all bad, why don’t we start doing some of this for ourselves?

I mean, if we’re going to invest months or years creating content for free, shouldn’t it pay off eventually for US?

Just leaving that there….

TRUTH: We don’t NEED the MEGAs. They NEED US.

Arianna Huffington at one point (no date listed on article) was making $2,330,000 per month off Huffington.

Off the blogs she personally crafted.

BWA HA HA HA HA!!!! #Kidding

The blog and brand (Huffington) makes the money and then proudly proclaims that writers working for free forever is “authenticity.”

Sadly this is more and more common. I blogged last year about Revolva and how Oprah’s conference paid in exposure dollars while not even offering so much as parking money for the performers. Exposure is impacting a lot of creatives, like the UK baker who refused to bake a FREE cake for the X Factor in exchange for “exposure.”

Pretty sure Simon Cowell isn’t paid in exposure dollars, and one would think a show as popular as X Factor would have a budget that accounts for expenses like…paying bakers for their cakes.

#LetThemEatCake

The thing is this. A lot of BIG BRANDS think like a business and work hard to plug us into their Matrix to increase profits.

This way we will sing, dance, write, bake cakes and on and on and on and all for free, while we take the third metric up the keister and claim it was fun!

Meanwhile, the MEGAs laugh all the way to the bank.

To be clear…

I WANT the MEGAs to make money! 

I want us ALL to make money!

We can HELP each other and that is actually happening…as in now. Go look on YouTube.

I have zero issue with us all walking away happy and well PAID. GIMME MO!

I DO, however, have a MAJOR issue with MEGAs making billions off using us, then shaming us for wanting to be paid in real money just like they are. 

We can be business partners, but partners in a mutually beneficial relationship. To do this? UNPLUG! Start valuing and building OUR brand.

Remember I told you Millennials were crazy smart?

The GREAT NEWS…

We have the ability to unplug and to tell any parasitic MEGAs they need to pay their power bill or they are CUT OFF!

#LightsOUT

Embrace “Special Snowflake” Thinking

Thank you you crazy-deluded-fearless-special-often-annoying-but-awesome-Millennials! It would figure your childlike enthusiasm, passion and raw fearlessness would give us the answer.

Don’t get crazy, though. Y’all aren’t the first special snowflakes to exist 😛 . *smooch*

Every MEGA in history started out with special snowflake thinking. It was their “reality distortion fields” that gave them their dreams and their drive that changed the world. This “specialness” fueled the will and passion to keep going no matter the pushback.

The MEGAs can still thrive, but how they continue to do business from here is up to US. Red pill or blue? Parasitic or symbiotic? What are you WORTH?

Web 2.0 does involve a lot of FREE but it works BEST when people come together in mutually beneficial ways. For instance famous YouTuber Lilly Singh a.k.a. IISuperwomanII gets to do what she was born to DO. What she LOVES!

To entertain.

The more she does what she loves, the better she gets at it. The more she improves, the larger her audience. The larger her audience, the more big brands want to be part of her world (and PAY HER to reach HER audience).

The Bloggess, Pioneer Woman and on and on started with simply reaching out and cultivating an audience and building their brand. They focused their talent, will, passion and love on THEIR DREAMS.

My new favorite book is The Power of Broke by Daymond John (known as The People’s Shark). Part of why I like it so much is he preaches a lot of what I’ve been hammering into writers since MySpace had a pulse.

WE ARE THE BRAND. YOU…YES YOU ARE THE BRAND.

The book I mentioned is a must read for writers. We need to value what we do and learn to think like a business.

Trust me, anyone who set foot on the set of Shark Tank and promised to pay in “exposure” and “warm feelings” would be laughed off the stage. That isn’t business. Don’t know what it is, but know it is NOT business.

Daymond’s book is filled with examples of entrepreneurs bootstrapping from nothing and using grit, imagination and creativity to eventually MAKE MONEY.

He highlights highly successful entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds to make his point (many who are in creative fields). His core concept, however, is the same one I’ve been preaching to writers for years.

The path to success is VASTLY different in the 21st century and buying into outdated ideas costs us BIG.

Millennials always understood they didn’t need MEGA brands to launch them. They always knew they were stars *hair flip*. They believed they just needed to build enough pressure to ignite and shine!

They didn’t use angel investors or banks or the idea of riding on MEGA coattails.

They used what they had on hand. Technology, social media, creativity and their insatiable desire to connect and share with passion and enthusiasm. Millennials grasped that if they kept at it, learned, grew, failed, retooled, and kept pushing in their relentless, fearless, and often annoying way…it could and would pay off.

If they created content people loved sharing…eventually MEGAs would come to THEM and PAY THEM.

Same with you guys! Too many writers are terrified of social media or blogging. Too many of you believe you need the magic feather of the MEGA, or a major marketing budget or lots of ads to make money. You aren’t a “real” writer without some MEGA stamp of approval.

You’re strung out, depressed and can’t get out of bed, not because you need meditation…you need money. And that is OKAY. Ignore the Matrix.

Really. It’s a scam. Just walk away.

Yes, it is scary, there is a learning curve and you’ll probably fail…a lot. But in the end? Don’t know about y’all, but I prefer authentic failure over fake success.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I hope you take the red pill, and I am here to guide you.

Social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need solid training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid a never ending stream of cash to “manage your brand”. You also DO NOT meed MEGAs to “launch you.”

I can train you what to do and how it all works. How you can create something where MEGAs come to YOU…

I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans & Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog

I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below, especially to properly prep for Nano.

Fail to plan, plan to fail 😉 .

****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart 😀 .

Blurb - Cait Reynolds
BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

On Monday, I took a shot at “experts” and challenged us all to remember to have some FUN even though “fun” often makes us feel like slackers. Yet, let’s be clear. There is mistakenly “feeling” like a slacker and actually being one (FYI: I have gold medals in both). Thus, today one might be tempted to think I am contradicting what we talked about last time.

Wait, we actually DO need experts AND now she’s gonna start championing PAIN?

Yeah well, I’m a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. Whatever. Roll with it.

The thing is, whether we are a hobbyist (which is COMPLETELY wonderful and rock on!) or we want to GO PRO, it really doesn’t matter.

Lamb’s Rule of Writing #1: Not sucking way more fun than totally sucking.

Yes writing is and should be FUN (but it will also have pain, doubt and ups and downs much like that “Fun Run” we did to raise money for cancer research).

Experts DO come in handy even regarding non-writing “fun” activities (which are NOT slacking, FYI). Just because we’re doing something for joy and relaxation doesn’t mean we don’t want to create results we can be proud of after investing time, money and hard work. #Duh

Yet, we are talking about writing today, thus I feel it’s safe to say high school and college gave us zero training on how to write commercially successful novels.

If we want to make money selling books? Writing is a craft and a business involving producing a product for sale to consumers (code for “readers”), so experts a HUGE help. All I am going to say about that (for now).

Cool thing about any level of writing is we have freedom to choose our pain. 

I’m a huge fan of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) namely because it is fabulous for all types of writers (those who want to have fun and those who seek to go pro), and we will discuss three BIG reasons why in a moment.

Most people who follow this blog do, however, dream of one day going pro and a) NOT sucking and b) selling truckloads of books. Thing is, this transition does NOT happen overnight #AskMeHowIKnow.

In fact, I strongly encourage authors of all levels to check out an older post for some good old-fashioned perspective: The Three “Acts” of a Writer’s Journey From Newbie to Master. 

It is OKAY to need help. A caveat…slackers (which we can ALL be) must be choosy about our team when going after any goal.

Our Friends & Mentors Matter More the Higher We Want to Climb

If our goal is to climb Mt. Everest (and being a NYTBSA is essentially Everest & making good money full-time writing is K-2), who do you want by your side?

Hard@$$ Hank

This is the dude who’s summited Everest so many times even Instagram is rolling its eyes at him.

Hard@$$ Hank knows his stuff. He maybe even lost a couple fingertips to frost bite, tells the story how he once contemplated eating his best friend to survive a sudden blizzard (then found spare protein bars and murder/cannibalism averted due to proper prep).

The guy who insists you train hard for at least a year and who warns you over and over that if you $#@! up an inch…you will DIE (and he won’t hesitate to snack on you if you die from being stupid).

Hard@$$ Hank who beats into you that it is a LONG freaking way to the top. Dangerous with pitfalls, and ice sheers and avalanches. That the summit is way farther than it looks and harder than you could ever imagine but worth every single second.

OR…

Loving Lulu

Loving Lulu does love you and has been your greatest cheerleader since fourth grade. She meets you for a pumpkin spice latte and tells you–in her most informative voice–that most of those “mountain climbing expert people” sell tons of needless gear simply to make money.

And in Nepal, since there are no Starbucks or other meaningful jobs, the locals make cash working as slurpees for uninformed mountain climbing tourists.

(Even though you’re sure she meant to say sherpas, Lulu does have a good point and who wants to be conned?)

Lulu is your BFF and TOTES knows you rock. She has done cross-fit with you. She proclaims if you can run that hundred flights on the StairMaster? Everest *flips hair* No problemo.

And she looked it up on her iPhone. Everest? Not even that high. Only 29,029 feet which is less than 5.5 miles high. The Turkey Trot y’all did last year was ten miles, so what’s all the fuss with a mountain? Wear a coat! JEEZ!

Hank makes us feel overwhelmed and a tad terrified #Hater. Lulu? She’s your real champion #BFFUnicorn.

Thing is, both Hard@$$ Hank and Loving Lulu are highly valuable but for vastly different reasons. One is a mentor-ally, the other a friend-ally.

Easy to mistake the two 😉 .

Lulu’s “mountaineer training” leads to a cold and lonely death where our body is never recovered, unless one counts future archeologists. Why the hell did she pack so much lip gloss to climb a mountain? Did it have to do with her god? A sacrifice? Perhaps to ward off evil spirits?

Hank as cheerleader leads to heavy drinking and needless therapy.

But reverse the two? And POW! POWER TEAM!

Trust me when I say I would’ve quit long ago if I’d only enlisted cheerleaders. The slacker in me loved that they loved me even though I never finished anything I started. They believed in my genius.

To overcome my inner slacker, I HAD to get brave enough to make friends with mentors and teachers who terrified me, who pushed me to change in the ways that would matter most in the end.

But I ALSO needed Lulu there to bring me wine and encourage me when Hank made me cry.

Lamb’s Rule of Writing #2: We ALL start somewhere. NYTBS mega-authors are not hatched in a lab…yet. Amazon is working on it though.

But since, Amazon is not yet able to grow genius authors in petri dishes we still have our shot. Yet, I am here to take your sparkly little dreams…and yell at them. As your self-appointed Hard@$$ Hannah, I want to give you three fantastic reasons to do NaNoWriMo, since it is AMAZING for training out the slacker in all of us.

NaNo Teaches Endurance 

I remember years ago thinking, “Wow, if I could just write a thousand words a day, that would be AMAZING.” When I looked at professional authors, it was like watching an ultra-marathon runner—all the while knowing I couldn’t run a flight of stairs without requiring oxygen and possibly a defibrillator to restart my heart.

I struggled to get words on a page, and Lord help me if I saw something shiny.

Actual Image of Newbie Kristen

Of course, after years of practiced discipline, I generally have a thousand words written by breakfast. When I fast-draft (which I do for all my books), my average is abnormally high. But that took YEARS to train to write that clean and that FAST.

NaNo is our Hard@$$ Hank. He’s there to challenge us to write 50,000 words in 30 days which is teaching us 1) self-discipline 2) to pace ourselves and 3) we actually can do more than we believed we could. It’s tough when you aren’t used to this rigorous pace. Especially when most of us are like this…

NaNo Trains in Mental Fitness

Being successful at writing is a lot about mastering our mind and focusing our will despite what is going on around us. NaNo (Hank) drives us into a zone we’d probably never step a toe into if left on our own.

When part of Nano, we’re surrounded by a gazillion other writers all with the same goal. HELLOOO? Peer pressure?

NaNo trains us to get in the zone no matter what.

Too many noobs (me included) needed visits from the muse, perfect silence and the right pen just to get started. We allowed emotions and feelings to guide us and that’s why $#!& never GOT DONE.

To finish a novel, even a crappy but finished one, our mind is the first thing we need to train.

Writing is an extraordinarily intense activity, physically, mentally and emotionally. Sure, the professionals make it look easy and that’s why the world thinks we spend all day drinking wine and talking to butterflies. Hint: We don’t.

Seriously it IS THE BEST job in the world. But no unicorn hug, ya dig?

Lamb’s Rule of Writing #3: Life doesn’t stop because we decided to write a book.

I’ve met NYTBSAs who were also working full-time jobs as lawyers, vets, doctors, business owners. Maybe, if they wrote full-time they were tasked with taking care of small children, seriously ill family members, elderly parents…all while meeting deadlines.

Yes, even some “mega-authors” who we all assume have it made. They don’t.

Being a best-selling author doesn’t give us immunity from LIFE. Pros just have learned through practice (and places like NaNo) that we do have the ability to press on in spite of circumstance (just have to train it).

Because that is what PROS do. Yes, professional authors are human. We should take time to grieve, rest, have some fun, and chillax. Yet, we also appreciate life will dole out plenty of sucker punches. The difference is pros get back up and back to work and hobbyists use the sucker punch as a good reason to proclaim they actually preferred origami all along.

NaNo Hammers Out Perfectionism

NaNo isn’t about perfect, it is about finished. Writers who make a good living write at least a book a year and often more. Writers who spend all their time polishing their chapters are the ones who never finish, or they take five, seven or even ten years to finish a novel.

Lamb’s Rule of Writing #4: The world doesn’t reward perfect, it rewards FINISHED.

No half-finished-but-perfect novels have EVER become a runaway sensation with movie deals…but some finished and highly “imperfect” ones have, so all the more reason for:

#50ShadesofGetYourButtInCHAIR.

Also, “perfect novel” is a complete myth and chasing the PN has the same success rate as chasing Big Foot. Neither is ever likely to be found (or, if found, believed to be real).

So there. You are free to go write finished but imperfect novels. We all struggle with slacking. It’s something we take on day by day, step by step and page by page and likely always will.

What are your thoughts? Are you afraid of mentors who will push you? Maybe gotten a tad too comfy with cheerleaders? Maybe made friend-allies mentors and can’t figure out where you got lost?

Hey, I’ve been guilty! Do you struggle with perfectionism? Can’t bring yourself to “write crap” so get stuck in edit mode for ten years? Have you overcome your perfectionism? Tell us HOW! I’m still working on that one, too.

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

COOL WEEKLY DEAL!!! The “Write Stuff”–20 Pages for $40. A deep edit/analysis by MOI!

To also prove social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need solid training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid to “manage your brand”:

I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans & Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog

I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below, especially to properly prep for Nano.

Fail to plan, plan to fail 😉 .

****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart 😀 .

Blurb - Cait Reynolds
BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!