Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: pay the writer

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 ūüėČ .

*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 ūüėČ ….

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 ūüėČ .

****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 ūüėÄ .

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here). $45.00 USD. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Painting With Words: Using Description and Sensory Details. $40.00 USD. Saturday, Monday, October 9, 2017. 7:00-7:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Social Media for Writers. $35.00 USD. Thursday, October 19, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Harnessing Our Writing POWER---The BLOG! $50.00 USD. Thursday, October  26th, 2017. 7:00 p.m.--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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ .

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 ūüėõ . *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 ūüėČ .

****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 ūüėÄ .

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here). $45.00 USD. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Painting With Words: Using Description and Sensory Details. $40.00 USD. Saturday, Monday, October 9, 2017. 7:00-7:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Social Media for Writers. $35.00 USD. Thursday, October 19, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Harnessing Our Writing POWER---The BLOG! $50.00 USD. Thursday, October  26th, 2017. 7:00 p.m.--9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We have done a lot of talking about FREE! in the past couple of months. And I will continue to boycott Huffington Post , because I believe they’re parasites who’ve helped set this industry-wide trend that writers only need to be paid with “exposure.” Owned by AOL (a.k.a. Verizon) they have the ability to pay, just don’t want to and unless writers start valuing what they do? They won’t pay.

Ever.

Not until we GO PRO.

To catch up on the rant, read No More Literary Booty Calls.

But back to this “valuing what we do.” I feel one of the reasons the arts are particularly vulnerable to plundering is many writers (artists) have a chronic case of low self-esteem.

Yes, society and pop culture are partly to blame.

It seems movies cast only two types of writers—The Starving Hack and the Bazillionaire Celebrity Author. Thus, if we aren’t flying off to Paris to fact-check? People assume that, by default, we’re writing bad haiku on Starbuck’s napkins in between shooting up and borrowing money from our mom.

We Do It To Ourselves

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.43.37 AM

First a little test. If you are reading this and are an aspiring author raise your hand. It’s okay. No one is around. You can do it.

Got your hand up?

NOW SLAP YOURSELF WITH THAT HAND AND NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!

I love you *smooch*.

There IS no “aspiring.” Aspiring is for the weak. It takes real guts to be an author. Feel free to call yourself pre-published, but use aspiring?

I. CAN. FIND. YOU. O_o

Do or do not, there is no try.

Understand Consumers WANT What We Do

Self-published book and now a major motion picture. BOO-YAH!
Self-published book and now a major motion picture. BOO-YAH!

In any business, the first thing one has to determine is:

Will consumers want this?

For some strange reason, whenever I rail about PAY THE WRITER there is this knee-jerk assumption we writers are foisting something fundamentally unwanted onto the unsuspecting public and if they read our stuff they’re doing us a favor.

Untrue.

People want good books.¬†If people didn’t want good books, Amazon would not have invested God knows how much into swiping the industry from the legacy publishers.

But, aside from our insecurity, the other component that undermines authors is a failure to truly GO PRO. Note I said¬†good books.¬†A pro doesn’t sell crap. A pro doesn’t try to get people to pay for books rife with horrific plot problems, editing mistakes, shoddy grammar and formatting that looks like it was done by a detoxing drunk.

PRO comes from the word, professional. 

But saying we want to go PRO is easier than knowing what one actually¬†looks like.¬†To be blunt, there are far more people “playing writer” than “going pro.” Even those of us who write for a living? It is an everyday battle against entropy. It’s really easy to wake up one day and realize you’re lying to yourself.

So I made a list. For me. For you.

I’m a giver.

I would love to say that I always did these things, but I didn’t. For a long time I was a lazy, entitled, whining slacker more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually doing the work involved. Much of this I had to learn the hard way, so I hope to up your game with these TEN WAYS TO GO PRO!

1—Pros Get Our A$$es to WORK

Writers write. We don’t write when we feel like it or when the muse strikes. Truthfully, the muse is like that fun drunken cousin who passes through and gives us a good time, but there’s no way in hell we’d ever hire the guy because he’s about as dependable as Texas weather.

Almost every morning, I am up at 4:00 a.m. Most people don’t work well that early, but I do. Fewer distractions. I always at least check in at 4 a.m. if there are any early birds who need a partner.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.47.49 AM

This morning I had three thousand words written before 7:00 a.m. Every morning I hold writing sprints on W.A.N.A. Tribe. All morning long, we go in 40 minute bursts and there is a team for accountability and to drive and push you beyond your comfort zone. I know I am a lazy slacker so I created this to keep me accountable!

Duh.

But any guess how many writers actually show for the sprints?

Usually it’s the same group of ten people out of over 2700‚Ķand I am one of them. As a group, I bet we’ve easily¬†written a million words since we started meeting back in November. Every member of the sprinting group finished NaNoWriMo in less than 20 days.

We are still there. Five days a week 9:00 CST. Every day.

The same few people.

A huge reason most writers never make it big is simple. They don’t write.

2—Pros Write No Matter WHAT

Kristen with Shingles…and YES I still wrote.
Kristen last year with Shingles…and YES I still wrote.

2012-2015 was a living nightmare for me. Our lives had SO much go wrong, I was seriously wondering if voodoo was somehow involved and despite enduring tragedy after tragedy? I still showed up.

Even with Shingles. Hey, I was going to be in pain anyway? Might as well channel it and distract myself.

Life will go wrong and sometimes the only thing we can control is simply showing up. There will never be an ideal time to write. If one comes our way? Fabulous! But don’t count on it. Never underestimate the power of simply showing up.

3—Pros Appreciate We Are Selling a PRODUCT

Writers don’t get a pass. We are a business. We are entrepreneurs bringing a product to market. This is true no matter which publishing path we take. Some writers frown on us indie/self-published folks, but what do y’all think that query is? It’s a business proposal.

An agent is inspecting our product (book) and our brand (platform) and determining potential market value. They are asking, Can we SELL this? And, if so, How many can we sell? 

That’s it.

We now have a choice to circumnavigate gatekeepers, but we still are responsible for bringing a solid product to the marketplace. Pros know that.

4—Pros INVEST

Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.
Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.

Since we appreciate we are a product and want to make it the best out there (because we KNOW there is a crap-ton of competition), we invest in ways to make our product the best and to stand out. Since we create the product, we invest time and money in training, conferences, and classes. Once we have a product, we invest in proper editing and cover design.

We invest in things that save us time. You can either spend five years figuring out your brand or hire a pro help you do it in days (yes, I am for hire ūüėČ ).

I suck at organization and detail so I outsource to an assistant. My new assistant Raidon cleaned out over 67K e-mails and organized them for me.  That was almost five hours I could do blogging, writing, teaching and consulting.

Trust me. Worth every penny.

5—Pros Study the Successful

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Seriously. Most people believe that success is tremendously elusive, but if we study successful people? Most of them did a lot of the same things. I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of Mark Cuban. Every writer needs THIS book;¬†How to Win at the Sport of Business.¬†It’s a short audio book and cost me $5, but WOW.

So much of what he talks about can be applied to writers.

6—Pros Get Paid to Learn

Meaning? They are never “too good” to accept a job. This one really applies to the newbies starting out. In the beginning we have to earn a reputation worth paying for. In the meantime? Take every opportunity you get and knock it outta the park!

When I realized I wanted to go pro with writing? I took every writing job I could get, figuring I was being paid to learn. Whether it was copy for a chiropractor’s web site or specs for software? I did it even though some of those jobs were so boring I wanted to hurl myself in traffic. They didn’t pay much in money (not at first) but I was being¬†paid to learn.

Every one of those jobs paid off.

7—Pros FAIL‚ĶA LOT

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons
Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

We make bad calls, hire the wrong people, write bad blogs and even worse books. By failing a lot we learn what works and what is a waste of time. My¬†failures taught me far more than “success” ever did.

Failure taught me humility and how to have staying power. It’s easy to be in the game when we’re winning, but to keep pressing after you’ve been sucker punched‚Ķthen run over and then hit by lightning?

That¬†is what separates the wanna-be’s from the pros.

8—Pros are Honest

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff
Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

We are only as strong as our greatest weakness. Pros are honest with where they’re failing. If the books aren’t selling and the feedback is about the writing? We take more classes and write more to put those lessons in action and hone those skills. Hire a rockstar editor.

Again, remember that I suck at organization? Took me a long time to admit that. I bought Daytimers and apps and gadgets and OH DEAR GOD I CANNOT SHOW MY FACE IN CONTAINER STORE…

THE SHAME!

I realized it ain’t gonna happen. Instead of trying to fit this round writer into a square hole? Outsource.

9—Pros Never Stop Training

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

How successful would a boxer be if he sat on the couch watching inspirational movies about boxing but never actually hauled his tail into a gym? Never worked with a coach to refine technique? Never studied other boxers and their moves? Never sparred to know his weaknesses?

I inhale books. If I am not at my computer working, I am reading…everything. If I am driving or cleaning or cooking? I am also listening to an audiobook. I never watch TV or movies that I am not making notes, busting apart character, plot, dialogue. Where did the story shine? Where did it fail? How would I have improved it?

Pros generally have TWO speeds.

On.

Unconscious.

Even “rest” serves the goals and is active.

10—Pros Understand “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”

Most new businesses fail because of a lack of a solid business plan. Same with writers. Which publishing path are you choosing? Why? Do you even know why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Seriously, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to publish, but how we are going to get our product to market is a big deal.

What are your goals? Do you have this mapped out? Do you have contingency plans? Have you done a S.W.O.T. analysis? What is your marketing plan? What is your branding plan? What is your sales plan?

Back to what we started with and the whole kerfluffle of FREE!

How and WHY are we using FREE!?

One of the reasons FREE! has gotten so out of hand is that writers are not using it strategically as part of a larger sales plan.

It’s why I am offering a new class, Making Money with FREE!¬†As a bonus for this class, my friend Jack Patterson who’s so far sold over 150,000 books to come and teach us how to ROCK the newsletter. Sign up before March 7th for $20 off. This is in excess of two hours of training and the recording (as always) comes with purchase.

Just by doing this class, you get several makes of a pro—showing up, investing, training, and learning from people who’ve already done something¬†successfully.¬† I will be learning too. Instead of me writing a terrible newsletter no one wants to open and spending the next three years figuring it out? I am paying Jack to help me teach this class.

I’m no dummy ūüėõ .

I am very proud of all of you for even being here and reading this blog. That is the mark of a pro. Instead of watching funny videos? You are here being yelled at inspired.

What are your thoughts? Did you fall for my trick and raise your hand? I hope you didn’t leave a mark. Do you struggle with taking yourself seriously? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing? Does your writing take backseat to everyone else’s wants and needs? Did you change that and see results when you started doing things PROS do?

I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, 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.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of¬†my latest social media/branding book¬†Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.¬†

Okay, so I just about calm down then see something that fires me up. So yes folks, I put on my war paint. And Huffington Post? You have simply gone too far.

Enough.

Some of you may be asking what has gotten my panties in such a bunch. A friend of mine, Chuck Wendig, who’s a fantastic writer and legendary blogger brought this quote to our attention yesterday in his post Scream It Until Their Ears Bleed—Pay the Fu&%ing Writers. In Chuck’s post, it’s easy to tell what set him off. Check out this quote:

Um…bite me?
Um…bite me?

THIS Folks, is what happens when we let FREE get out of hand. FREE has side-effects and one of the primary side-effects are hallucinations that the other person likes it and needs it and actually you’re doing them a favor.

Jackass.
Jackass.

Before we go any further, yesterday I mentioned that I love the work of economist¬†F.A. Hayek and I will say that what Huffington is doing? It IS‚Ķ*gags* “just.”

They’re doing what they are doing with the permission of those who contribute. Those who contribute feel/believe that it is worth the “partnership” with Huffington and you know what?

That is their right.

Technically, there is no exploitation.

I once was excited to be asked to post for Huffington. I’ll admit, I bit too. At first I felt this gushy pride like I’d been asked to the prom by the captain of the football team, Huff Po. He was soooo cute and other kids would see me on Huff’s arm and be¬†soooo jealous. What that would do for my status!

*hair flip*

But what began as this fantasy that Huff loved me turned sour when he didn’t bring me flowers and only wanted to bend me over the limo for a quickie before he picked up the date he really loved, Advertisina.

Advertisina doesn’t give anything for free. She has standards and so Huff respected her.

Me? I was a literary booty call.

At first I thought my needs would be met. Two posts later? All I wanted to do was cry, eat Ben & Jerry’s and watch some movie with Bette Midler in it.

Advertisina would never be treated this way.

(Read how blogger Chloe Jeffreys was duped by Huffington into being part of a Depends commercial where of course, she was NOT paid).

Authentic Writing

So this assclown Hull believes unpaid workers are more authentic and that quote alone is enough to make me throw up just a little bit in my mouth. Authentic. Can you guys imagine any other business saying this and getting away with it? Any other business so flagrantly exploiting hard working people and getting off scot-free?

Wait. They don’t.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Stein
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Paul Stein

AOL/Huffington reportedly brings in $2.3¬†billion¬†a year and Huffington’s entire business plan rests on profiting off unpaid workers. This means no benefits, no healthcare and no‚ĶPAY. Again, if¬†any other business¬†did this? People would lose their ever-loving minds.

But they don’t.

Why?

Well, it’s only writers and they should feel honored to be able to share their work outside of their grandmother’s basement.

We writers are continually treated as if others are doing us a favor and not the other way around. Did I mention that Huffington Post sold for over $300 MILLION?

WRITERS DID THAT.

Shame On You, Arianna Huffington

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons via C2 Montreal
Original image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons via C2 Montreal

And maybe what is making me postal is the sheer hubris I’m seeing. Arianna Huffington wrote a book called¬†Thrive¬†and over at Forbes did an interview on why entrepreneurs should embrace the third metric.

All I have to say is…

If Money and Power are two of the metrics and Ms. Huffington calls them LEGS then what exactly is this THIRD METRIC she wants me to embrace and why do I suddenly feel dirty all over again?

Embrace it. Just like that. Sure Baby, I’ll respect you in the morning‚Ķ.

Ms. Huffington is so far removed from reality, she doesn’t even realize she’s a troll.

It (the third metric) matters to entrepreneurs with big ambitions because in this new definition of success, building and looking after our financial capital is not enough. We need to do everything we can to protect and nurture our human capital as well. ~Arianna Huffington

Wow. Don’t you love how rich ladies tell you that money isn’t important. Btw, money is a HUGE factor in how most of us see success.

Hold on, it gets better.

Many of the problems contributing to millennials‚Äô stress ‚ÄĒ from a weak job market to massive student debt ‚ÄĒ require political action and economic reform. But at the same time, there are things millennials can do to help strengthen resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity and also lead to greater performance in the workplace. Meditation, yoga, getting enough sleep, renewing ourselves, and giving back are all ways to make us better at our jobs at the same time that they make us aware that our jobs don‚Äôt define who we are. ~Arianna Huffington

Folks, there are few times I am speechless but I need a minute.

I’m back.

Ms. Huffington, I know you’re a mega-millionaire, but I am just going to speak for us little people. What is contributing to our stress are predators like you creating vast systems of wealth that rely on duping unpaid workers into believing you’re actually doing them a favor. Millennials are told to go to college and work really hard and eventually it will pay.

But Huffington doesn’t¬†eventually pay, does it?

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.35.42 PM

The problem is you and your ilk have generated a system where it’s socially acceptable to exploit workers and then demonize that worker if she has the audacity to complain. Ms. Huffington, how DARE you write about me living the life I want, about not settling for less than I am worth?

HOW…DARE…YOU.

You have set the precedent for all kinds of other businesses to find lapses and loopholes to get around compensating contributors. To use technology to get around paying workers.

Workers whose contributions have been valued at some amount or how else would you pay taxes?

Food for thought.

And if they aren’t employees then you don’t need to give them benefits even though they benefitted you to the tune of $300¬†MILLION. But what do you care? You get to hang out with your pal Oprah who also benefits off unpaid performers who can help her push the same soma about¬†Living the Life You Want.

Sure, and doing porn movies will eventually lead to big roles in Hollywood.

Ms. Huffington, you create a business model that prides itself on not paying contributors and then have the freaking gall to say the answer to worker stress is….YOGA?

Original Image via Wikimedia Commons
Original Image via Wikimedia Commons

But I have to applaud you. You figured out how to monetize Stockholm’s Syndrome.

Btw, Ms. Huffington, embrace your own third metric.

To quote Chuck:

We can pretend that money is somehow a corrosive influence, that it corrupts the journalistic process ‚ÄĒ oh, wait, but Huffington Post is valued at tens of millions of dollars? Hull even says that they‚Äôre profitable. Well, of course they are. It‚Äôs easy to be profitable when you don‚Äôt pay the people.

Actually, Chuck, I have a correction. HuffPo sold for hundreds of millions.

But again, let’s look at this notion of how NOT paying contributors helps “maintain integrity.” No, I think fellow author KJ Charles said it best:

Let’s be honest: if producers don’t pay people to write, then the people writing are the ones who can afford not to be paid. Which, as with publishing internships, means that the people who can get ahead are the ones with money. The rich parents, the lucrative day job, the well-paid spouse. When producers don’t pay for content, it privileges the voices of the wealthy.

There was a time when writing was a pastime of the wealthy because they were the only ones who could afford to write.¬†Do y’all really want to go back there?

I don’t.

Btw, might I mention that virtually every revolution started with an entitled aristocracy pissing off the working and middle class. We are Digital Citizens, NOT Digital Serfs.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 7.13.15 PM

 Put On Your War Paint

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.29.58 PM

So here’s the deal, folks. If other writers want to write for Huffington?¬†Have fun storming the castle. Me? My hypocrisy only goes so far.

First, as a writer, I refuse to be a literary booty call. Do I guest post for folks? Sure. But the people I am guest posting for aren’t making hundreds of millions in advertising dollars so they get to pay me with exposure because that is the only capital they have. FREE is on my terms and I am its mistress.

OBEY.

But…

I am not just a writer, I’m a consumer, too. Writers consume a lot of information. We read it, promote it and link to it. Until Huffington mends its ways? It is DEAD to me.

As a consumer, I choose to only support businesses who operate ethically.

I will no longer link EVER to Huffington.

I will not promote ANY article from Huffington.

I will tell everyone who will listen why they need to boycott Huffington.

I will boycott any advertisers linked to them and have no problem shaming the advertisers too because they are profiting off the backs of unpaid workers.

I have uploaded anti-HuffPo memes over on my Author Kristen Lamb page and at Pinterest on my Bite Me HuffPo board for others to see and share.

I am installing Block Site on my web browsers to block ANYTHING tethered to Huffington.

When Huffington issues an apology? I will link to that. When they post about their new plan to add in levels where writers can be compensated? I will link to that too.

And I will link to all PAID Huffington articles.

I had no problems with Huffington using free labor to get started. It was an untested idea. But once HuffPo started raking in the moolah from advertising? I feel there should have been a moral imperative to create some kind of compensation (especially from a woman who went on to write self-help books and claims to have a soul).

The business model should have changed once HuffPo reached profitability.

Sure, the untested newbies could work for exposure, but the pros? The ones blogging regularly who made Ms. Huffington a rich, rich, RICH woman? If she’d actually cared about workers and I dunno‚Ķbasic human freaking rights‚Ķ.she would have been better served creating a system of compensation instead of cashing out BIG and running off to write Rich White Lady books about how we need yoga instead of money to be successful.

(Btw, she doesn’t accept yoga¬†or exposure for those books. She wants $$$$.)

Writers, we are at a crossroads. We have to start standing up to this crap. If Huffington approaches you to post? I hope you say no. If you’re currently posting for Huffington, I hope you walk away. They have more than enough money to pay for content, but they won’t so long as we keep supplying them. Cut off the free supply and all that’s left is the paid stuff.

But everyone has to make their own choices. Me? I put on my war paint.

PAY THE WRITER

What are your thoughts? Are you tired of aristocracy telling you that you don’t actually need money? I am all for capitalism but this is sociopathy. Do you find it more than a little hypocritical that Ms. Huffington is calling for economic and political reform to aid in the weak job market‚Ķa weak market that SHE helped create?

If your landlord doesn’t take exposure dollars, do you think he will accept yoga and meditation as payment?

What do you think of embracing Ms. Huffington’s third metric?

Are you going to put on your war paint? I hope you do! Maybe if enough crazy pissed off painted writers are floating around the Internet people will pay attention.

I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, 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.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of¬†my latest social media/branding book¬†Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.¬†

Might I suggest one of these...
I think we need to renegotiate the terms…

One of the reasons I did such a detailed post about the pop culture and how it’s impacting artists (A Culture Addicted to FREE) is that for us to make any solid plan, we need to gain a good understanding of how things are being run and also grasp current consumer habits.

To fix any problem, we must be aware of what are called operational constraints.

Operational constraints are any real or potential roadblocks in the way of our goals. If you ever do a S.W.O.T. Analysis, which I strongly recommend, it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Any time we do business—which writing IS a business—we need an accurate picture of the terrain so we make wise business decisions and can plan ahead.

Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia

The entire reason for me blogging about the impact streaming¬†could have on our industry is because that is part of the S.W.O.T. matrix (under Threats). If we only look at what’s going on today, we’re reactive and have fewer options (if any) and we lack maneuverability. If, however, we do the projections and hypothesize about what likely¬†could¬†happen? We’re in a far stronger position and can gain massive advantage.

For instance, in 2007 I took MAJOR heat for saying social media and blogging was going to be a huge game-changer and vital for success.

I could have been wrong, but I planned accordingly and built a brand anyway (just in case).

For all those who felt all they needed was¬†a good book? Who didn’t feel they needed to be on-line? It’s been an uphill battle and they missed out on a LOT of the crazy momentum generated by the initial BIG BANG of Web 2.0 expanding. They were also in a bad spot when literary agents came back with, “Great book. I’d love to rep it but you have no platform. Come back when you get one.”

Yes, Writers ARE Entrepreneurs

Craftfest

I get that the world often does not see what we do as a business, that for some reason when we tether money to our work then we are no longer doing “art.” Here’s the thing, haters hate for two reasons.

Either a) they benefit from the status quo or b) they believe they are unsuccessful solely because of a system they falsely think is set in stone. Anyone who changes the system can expose the delusion.

For instance, before self-publishing it was easy to believe we were rejected simply because NY only wanted commercial junk (not because we had no frigging clue how to actually write).

Ignore haters. They aren’t going to pay your bills so they don’t get a vote.

Before we talk more about the nitty gritty of the business of what we do, I am going to say this again.

Free is an excellent servant, but a horrible master.

I am all for FREE. I am against the rampant misuse of FREE. FREE will roll over and sit and fetch our slippers. Problem is? We have been letting FREE pee on the carpets and eat the couch cushions. FREE needs obedience training and we are the master. Us whining that FREE keeps embarrassing us by humping the mailman’s leg is not productive.

Writer up and tell FREE to SIT!

Businesses use FREE all the time‚Ķto generate¬†business (as in PAID work). We need to do the same. But good businesses don’t just “make stuff FREE.” They get a good idea of the overall topography and then use FREE to maneuver advantage.

If we want to change things and make a good living doing what we do, then we must understand the market to use FREE effectively. Additionally, us looking at streaming and how other artists are being impacted negatively is not whining if we then take that knowledge and do something.

ALL business do this. But apparently when authors act like a business we are accused of whining…which is pissing me off more than a little.

We don’t get what we work for, we get what we negotiate.

My family owns the top sign company in Fort Worth, TX. We do those¬†huge¬†monument signs, lighted signs (think Target, Home Depot, Chili’s, etc.). But we’ve had customers we had to fire. Doing business with them simply was not profitable. Were we whining? No, we were making a business decision.

We decided that the customer’s Pain in the Ass Factor far outweighed their Profit Factor and decided to part ways and find a situation that suited us better. Writers can do the same.

At this juncture, we as artists have two options when it comes to changing our situation in the marketplace. One is what we have been doing here lately.

Power of the Purse

Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons

We educate consumers and use consumer pressure to make the market equitable. That happens all the time. Nike got seriously bad PR for using sweatshops in Asia. The bad press did major damage to their brand and their sales. Feeling pressure from consumers, they had to change their ways unless they wanted to go out of business. Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes have come under scrutiny for exploiting artists.

Fearing consumer wrath? These companies will either change or the power of the purse will exact punishment.

It’s happened before in many other industries.

Food Lion never recovered from a scandal involving bleaching old meat. Taco Bell was hammered (and sued) over their use of Mystery Meat, which gave their brand and bottom line a beating. The chocolate industry was forever altered when consumers found out about the horrific practices and use of child labor. Many major chocolate manufacturers are now almost completely Fair Trade and this was all brought about by consumer pressure.

If shaming and purchasing power works for these other industries? Can work for ours too. But? It might not. So we need to prepare for that.

In the meantime, we are a business so we need to focus more on what we can control.

We Create Something of VALUE

Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir...
Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir…

Before we can talk at ALL about business I need you to get one thing through your head.

Writers create something of VALUE. We create what people WANT.

I get that folks are addicted to FREE, but they will pay for something they find value in. Our job is to create that value and stop abusing FREE. But why do we struggle with believing what we do has value? A lot of it comes from outside pressure.

One example that I keep seeing used over and over since I started all this with Pay The Writer is the idiot example of a ditch digger.

Just because you decided to dig a ditch doesn’t mean anyone owes you money for a ditch they never asked for.

This is a non sequitur being used to shame us. It is using a false assumption that no one wanted what we created in the first place.

To paraphrase what the Founding Fathers said to King George?

Bite me.

IF no one wanted stories, then why bother with bookstores, movies, television and non-stop streaming entertainment? If no one wanted to buy books then Amazon would have never set up the infrastructure to take business away from the Big Six and make them into the Spiffy Five. If no one wants books, then how the hell are so many selling? The Martian (which was self-published, btw) sold 750,000 copies just in the US and MATT FREAKING DAMON played the protagonist in a blockbuster movie.

I guess it’s a good thing Andy Weir dug that ditch no one asked for.

Basic rule of capitalism? We all create something people don’t want‚Ķyet. The thing is our customers simply don’t yet know they want it.

What if Henry Ford never bothered with figuring out how to manufacture automobiles because no one wanted them?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

~Henry Ford

What if Edison hadn’t bothered with light bulbs? What if the Wright Brothers‚Ķ.

Y’all get the point.

People DO want books. They DO want an escape. They DO want information and entertainment. Trick is to make them want OUR book (that’s another post).

People WANT books, so anyone who uses that ditch digger analogy from now on can just pound sand because the analogy falls apart that writers creating books are anything like this ditch digger creating random holes.

A true parallel is that places like Amazon are acting as connectors/brokers. They know people who LIKE and WANT books and we MAKE books. We do business because every book Amazon moves and delivers for us? We get paid a portion of that.

This is like having a service that connects People in Desperate Need of a Ditch with People with Shovels and Ditch-Digging Skills. There’s an understood contract that if we dig a ditch someone wanted? The broker is paid, but WE ARE TOO.

And, as an owner of a sign company? We get paid really, really well for digging ditches.

Thus, to treat writers as if we are that weird guy who jumps out into traffic and squeegees windshields and then breaks windows if the customer victim doesn’t pay? It’s uncool and inaccurate.

But back to writers…

I don’t think any of us are asking to be paid on books we never sell. But if we do sell? Then whoever is acting as this middleman/connector needs to give us a rate we find to be a sound business decision or…

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.55.45 AM

Musicians are doing this. They are saying that getting paid $0.0006 every time a song is played and having to split that $0.0006 per song with everyone who produced the song is BS. They’re saying that if my song is played a million times, the royalty should be more than $17‚Ķso Pandora? BUH BYE.

Start With the PRODUCT

BLUE STEAK. But look how CLEVER it is! Really, it's YUMMY.
BLUE STEAK. But look how CLEVER it is! Really, it’s YUMMY.

Since we are a business, we have to create a product consumers want to buy. In my POV? A lot of authors are too busy being clever in their writing and ignoring substance.

We just want a good steak‚Ķno need to make it blue. That’s just weird.

And for all the Wanna Be Authors who are slapping up junk with crappy unedited writing, shoddy formatting and covers that look like they were done by a one-eye drunk? No one wants it. And if they do? I’m a huge fan of Economist¬†F.A. Hayek. If people want to PAY for that? Then it is just.

If people want to pay $300 for a ticket to see Kanye West but won’t go to see a concert pianist even though it’s only $20? I question their taste, but it’s just because consumers have spoken with their dollars.

If people want 50 Shades and not the next great literary genius story? I don’t like it, but people vote with dollars.

Aaaahhhhhhhhh!
Aaaahhhhhhhhh!

But if the product isn’t selling? Then we’ve failed on some vector and the first one to scrutinize would be the actual product.

Code for try harder.

Write more books and better books. Remember we are not writing for US, but for the reader. We are in the entertainment industry and entertainment implies that more than one person is getting something out of the deal.

I’ve been in workshops where the author was the only one who understood what the hell was going on and when criticized by the audience? They argued. Okay, then be happy selling ONE book because you’ve written for an audience of one.

Invest in good editing, formatting, etc. Yada yada yada.

Create Your Own Economy

The trick of all of this is to create a product consumers want (and ALL businesses have to do this). If we do that and we build a strong enough brand? We don’t NEED iTunes, Amazon, B&N, etc. Thing is, they need us way more than we need them.

Trust me. Amazon does NOT want Andy Weir or Hugh Howey or Grant Cardone to go,¬†You know what? It’s not you, it’s me. Wait, it IS YOU and I think I’ll do my own distribution. Thanks.

The Sword of Technology Cuts Both Ways

The same exact technological innovations that allowed Amazon to plunder the Big Six are the same advances we can use to walk away. We can do our own distribution, our own subscription services, streaming, etc. (there are services popping up to fill that vacuum). We will talk more about these options later, but the point I am making is that if we create a good product and combine it with a solid brand?

We are being a business and in being a business? We can choose how to do business and thereby set the terms of the relationship (or the grounds for terminating that relationship).

In coming posts we will delve more into FREE, how to use it and when to use it. We will talk a lot more about the business side of what we do. Remember we are in the entertainment¬†business.¬†If you don’t have a strong brand, then seriously, get a copy of¬†Rise of the Machines.¬†

I wrote that book because a solid brand is absolutely the most essential component of success beyond the actual product. My methods have launched unknowns from obscurity into record books. So invest in your business and get in the know about your brand.

Okay, what are your thoughts? Are you tired of that ditch-digger analogy too? Do you struggle seeing yourself as having something of VALUE? Is it impacting the way you are running—or not running—your business? Are you overwhelmed? Are there other areas you’d like me to explore and discuss? Do you have additional business advice you’d add for all our benefice?

I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, 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.

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of¬†my latest social media/branding book¬†Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.¬†