Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author's Hierarchy of Needs

I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs lately, and how it applies to writing.

In the interest of context, here’s the deal. I am a full-time author. My husband just came out of a year of schooling to be an electrician. Due to some politics and technicalities, and some bad luck and bad timing, he’s been having trouble finding a job that is more than just temporary. He is currently working in manufacturing, which isn’t a bad job, but not at the rate to support a family on a single income.

I’ve tapped out our resources pretty thoroughly to get us through this, but we are doing a lot of extras: plasma donations, free/reduced food options, and I’m looking for a job that will work with my kids’ schedule. It would be either prohibitively expensive or functionally impossible to find the type of childcare we would need for most jobs I could get quickly, so it’s going slowly.

That said, we are doing okay, but there’s a lot of time and mental energy going into keeping us going until we break through this very short rough patch. Which brings me back to Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Essentially, this theory states that humans can only really focus on one level if the lower levels are being met. It’s not completely exclusive, but it makes sense. The first level is immediate safety. You probably aren’t going to ponder your spiritual development while being chased by a lion. (Why is it always a lion in these scenarios? Why not a rhino or a wolf?)

The second level is food and shelter. If you are safe for the moment, you can plan on these things. Then you can focus on larger safety issues, such as environment and neighborhood. After that is interpersonal relationships, such as family and friendships.

Next is self-esteem, or the ability to believe you are worthy. Self-actualization follows, covering your place in society. Ie, career, status, etc. And finally, self-transcendence, which is the personal spiritual experience.

Since only a threshold has to be met at each level, you can have some deficiencies in a lower level while still focusing on a higher level. But if those lower levels are threatened in some way, the focus gets drawn to them again and again.

Anyways, this is probably why I’m having so much trouble prioritizing NaNoWriMo this year. It’s not that writing isn’t as important to me, it’s that I kinda have to make sure we can pay rent before I can focus on my career.

This leads me to thinking about authors, pirates and self-care.

Pirating books is pretty bad. Authors don’t make much as it is, and anything that is taken from them makes it less likely for them to be able to meet their own basic needs. If they can’t do that, they can’t focus on the making the words stuff. Knowledge is free, and most authors are willing to do giveaways, etc. But it’s something that the author CHOOSES to do, based on their own risk-benefit assessment, financial ability, etc. Stealing from them is just that: stealing.

Authors also need to spend a certain amount of time and mental energy on self-care. People like to think that writing is easy, and in many ways they are right. But writing novels that are well-crafted, interesting and meaningful? Well, that takes skill, mental energy, and technique that has to be developed over time. By the time an author puts out their first decent book, they’ve already put in years of practice, reading and studying writing skills.

I think authors should put more emphasis on knowing their own worth, and the worth of their works. But, at the same time, readers need to put more worth on the books that they love so much.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year!

It’s that time.

New year, new writer. It’s time to assess what’s happened and make goals for the coming year.

My assessment is pretty constant. I have issues when I don’t keep tabs on my psycho-emotional barometer. So this is easy for me.

2017 sucked in so many ways. On the personal life front, it was a roller coaster of hope and disappointment with a distinct trend towards the decline. It’s been so bad that, even though it’s true, I’m hesitant to say it looks like things are going to be improving. I’m talking days of crying from depression and fear.

I blame my husband, but that’s a different set of thoughts. (And, no, he’s not abusive or anything. It’s just a crap situation mostly due to timing and luck.)

On the professional writing front, I marketed my first book and put out my second. Sales seem to be climbing steadily, if very slowly, and I see this as a sign that my books will continue to grow slowly but steadily. I can live with that. At least the arrow is going the right way.

Biggest frustration: just when I promised I wouldn’t be missing any more vlogs, my built-in camera takes a nose-dive. But I got a spiffy new camera for the holidays, so I’ll be back in a jiff.

As for my goals, I’m looking forward to completing at least 3 books in 2018. I’ll still be working on sales and vlog and patreon, etc. So, I guess I haven’t been beaten down!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodreads Changes Their Giveaways

If you are a published author who markets heavily online, you’ve probably at least heard about the changes to Goodreads’ Giveaway service.

If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown: Goodreads just took away the free platform for hosting giveaways of a book. It was a decent platform, but only worked for print books, not ebooks, so it still cost the author to get the print book and ship it.

Now, they allow ebooks, starting at the low low cost of only $200, give or take a five-spot. If you want all the bells and whistles, which weren’t that impressive to me, you can do it for $600.

I wish those were typos, but no. We are talking about paying to giveaway books at rates only previously seen on BookBub, and the BB has specific and dedicated mailing lists PLUS you can list a book that is not free.

Seriously, Goodreads? I’m not sure what idiot thought this would be a good idea, but I can’t think of many authors who are going to drop a couple Benjamins on giving away a book on a site that doesn’t really do specific listings.

I don’t know about you, but my days of doing Goodreads Giveaways are OVER.