Feast or famine
The gig economy means that work comes in fits and spurts. Freelancing, at least thus far in my experience, confers a feast or famine business: either I'm swamped with work or there's not much in the way of paid projects.
I try to look at the bright side during lulls in paid work. The lull gives me more time for prospecting new clients and new projects. The lull gives me more time to update my website and LinkedIn profile. The lull gives me more time to work on my own manuscripts.
Prospecting takes a surprising amount of time. From networking on LinkedIn to checking freelance boards to sending out proposals customized to each RFP, I spend a lot of time looking for paid work. It's too bad that the prospecting effort doesn't command pay.
The new availability of time also enables me to do other things, like go out to lunch with friends. Squirreled away in my office with naught but a dog and some cats for company, even this introvert sometimes craves human interaction. I look forward to those short excursions out of the house.
The problem with lulls in business is that I feel guilty spending the time working on my own manuscripts. If royalties from published books contributed, say, half my income, then I would feel much more comfortable about devoting those business hours to that "job." But, to be brutally honest, book sales this year have been dismal. I'm not sure whether that's because my stories suck, my writing sucks, or the market sucks.
Yeah, yeah, I know: marketing, marketing, marketing. The book fairs I attended did no good whatsoever; I'm hoping the next two will justify the expense and effort expended. If not, I doubt I'll attend any such events in the foreseeable future. Last year I hired a publicist to handle the marketing, because that is not my forte. Through her efforts, my social networking has greatly expanded. Whether that expansion has translated into any book sales, I can't say. To the best of my knowledge, there's no way to track conversions like that. We're going to delve once more into Facebook advertisements. The book of the month deal will be expanded for the full month rather than the first week of each month. (That's right, folks, the featured book will be discounted to $0.99 for the full month.)
Anyway, it's discouraging.
Also discouraging is the sheer prevalence of pirate sites. From July 1 to today, Blasty.co completed 276 "blasts" of sites guilty of infringing upon my copyrights. That's 18.6 percent of all blasts (1,477) completed in the last 12 months. If each of these sites illegally distributed just one copy of any of my books, that's a minimum financial loss of $517. That might not sound like much overall, but it means a lot to me. It's pretty likely that these sites illegally distributed more than one copy of my work before Blasty slapped them with DMCA notices.
Here's a hint to my fellow authors: Subscribe to Blasty. It's more efficient than any single human being and a lot less expensive than a copyright attorney.
With all the doom and gloom of dismal sales, copyright infringement, and a lull in paid gigs, one would think I'd do something else--like try out another genre. The problem is that I like what I write. I like the genre. I like what I do.
Despite the setbacks, I wont quit. I certainly won't stop writing my stories.
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