Write now all yee good writers


Now is the best time to be a writer, ever.

It’s not because the internet, Amazon and Kindle publishing, or ebooks has made it so easy to publish a book. It’s because more people can read than ever before. (UN statistics).

Recently Joanna Penn on her Sep 10th, 2017 podcast interviewed author Micheal Ridpath. He said that he made most of his money on foreign translations. He’s a UK author and has traditional publishing contracts for the UK, United States, and Australia.

It is still hard to get a book into overseas book stores. The publishers overseas have a strangle hold on the book distribution their country. This is no longer the case in the United States. So even if you hire a translator it is hard to get the translated book into books stores in the country of that language. I have faith that Amazon will not let that last much longer. Besides there are many people all over the world that speak and read English. Foreign publishers will pick up books in English for translation and sells in their country, but it often takes an agent.

If your going to write a book, now is the time to do it. There are more readers than ever before.

The paranoid among you may be thinking why would I, an author, give away the secrets to writing a novel to you for free. If the secrets were any good you could use them to write a book and take away my readers.

1. Authors don’t own readers.

2. Voracious readers are always looking for another book to read. We can both sell our books to the same reader.

Now let’s look at the math of writing a book. OK, that just turned off two thirds of the audience. (Your all sitting there going I’m a writer not a math teacher)

Surveys show that 96 % of people want to write a book. An often quoted statistic.

Only 3 % of those who start a book finish it. (from Jyotsna Ramachandran of the HappySelfPublishing.com web site).

Of that 3 % only 20 % publish the book. So out of a 1000 people I talk to, who go on to start a book only 3 % or 30 writers will finish the book.

Of the 30 that finish the book only 6 will publish the book. That’s point 6 % (0.6 %) of people that start a book publish it.

If you want to join the 1% go publish a book.

How many people who want to write a book, but never even start, I haven’t found that information.

If you finish your book, don’t give up. Get a professional to edit it and then publish your book. That’s an edit from a real professional, not a relative, teacher, or just anyone off the net. Research editors extensively before committing to one. There are many scams out there.

More bad news. Only a minuscule number of first time authors sell over 100 copies of their book.

Again, don’t give up. Many authors (published writers) I’ve talked to said that you have to write 5 books before you start to produce professional level books. I’ve lost count of the number of book signing I’ve gone to where the author has said that they have 1, 3, 5 or more books in a drawer that will never see the light of day. Those are usually the first books they wrote.

You may say that the author of Wool, Hugh Howey did it. Sold millions of his first book. Well Hugh had an old style publishing contract before he started writing ebooks. He wrote 7 books before Wool.

You say J. K. Rowling did it. Yes she did, but she spent 5 years pre-writing (I consider that a type of outlining) and doing character back grounds (in long hand) before finishing the first Harry Potter book. I think that taking a year to finish a book is about right for a writer with a child and a job.

Ms. Rowling spent five years working to become a better writer. That’s studying, reading, working at her craft.

5 years at 8 hours a day is about 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, that sound familiar. (See Malcolm Gladwells book Outliers).

Now go prove me wrong and write a best selling first book.

Stay strong, write on. Professor Hyram Voltage

The 10,000 league Journey of writing a book.

You know the old saying;

A journey of ten thousand leagues begins with a single step.

           Wear good shoes.

That’s good advice. If you get massive blisters before you finish your first hundred miles you may not finish the next 100 miles let alone make it to the end of the journey.

What are good shoes for a writer?

1. A pen that you don’t have to bear down on and will not skip. Pilot G2 is favored by many screenwriters. If you have an old ball point that you have to bear down on to get it to write you’ll end up with a sore wrist if you write a lot with it.

2. A computer. You don’t need a GAMING computer. Dell is going to have a black Friday sale on computers with one for about $130.00. It’s not the fastest, and the hard drive is tiny, but on a computer you can put words down faster than with a pen. You can also make corrections faster. And there will be corrections, it’s called editing and rewriting. Check out the keyboard before you buy. Never buy a computer that doesn’t feel right or you have to fight.

If you can’t afford a computer then go to a public library and use theirs. Get a Dropbox or Evernote account with free storage to save your writing on.

Don’t use Google Docs, the small print says Google can publish anything you write in Google Docs any time they want to. You want to publish your writing for money and/or credit, not to have someone else publish it for free.

3. A quite place. Anything that distracts your brain or mind is slowing down your writing. A distractions can even stop you from writing. Writing is hard enough, don’t make it harder by multitasking. Studies prove that multitasking slows you down. A multitask-er trying to do two jobs at once takes longer to finish both job than if he did one job, took a break and then did the other job. No distractions, no music, no TV, nothing (pets, children, objects) moving around you.

Put your cell phone in another room and put a thick folded blanket or folded towel over it. A study showed that people having a cell phone in the same area when taking an intelligent test made them dumber. (from David Burkus at the Super Connector Summit of 2017)

4. A good chair helps. You’re going to spend a lot of time in it. I’ve seen several writers take seat cushions to the coffee shop because the chairs where you can type get very hard after an hour or more.

The journey of ten thousand leagues begins with a single step.

                  Get a map.

Your not going to want to hear this, but if you’re going to make your living writing books you’re going to have to know where you’re going. That means you need an outline. Outlines make book writing easier and faster. Go buy a copy of 2,000 to 10,000 How to Write Faster by Rachel Aaron or 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. To put 5,000 words per hour on paper on in the computer you’re going to have to type 84 words per minute. Can you think about a plot line and type that fast? That’s why you need an outline.

People like Stephen King (who does not outline) only has to write one book every so often. You are not him.

Writing a first draft in 21 days is doable, if you have written books before and have the outline done. People doing Nanowrimo (a writing challenge where you write a 50,000 word rough, first draft, manuscript in November) spend all Oct doing their outline. They only have to do 1667 words a day. An outline makes that a lot easier to do. If you only write on week days that’s 2273 words a weekday. Many people competing in Nanowrimo do not get 50,000 words done in 30 days, and they try very hard to do it. Some try year after year. And some have written and published books and they still can’t meet the Nanowrimo challenge.

If you write faster than someone who will not outline then your book will be out there for the hungry reader to buy before the writer who won’t outline (the wandering writer) can get her book done. You get the sale first and you’re started on your next book before she has finished her book.

Writing a book may take longer than you want it to, but you can do it, outline or no outline.

The journey of ten thousands leagues begins with a single step.

               Pack a good lunch.

What I mean is take care of yourself.

Get a timer and set it for an hour or no more than two hours. When it goes off get up and move around. Your body needs to move or you will make yourself sick.

Eat well. You’re doing a lot of sitting. Don’t eat and type, that’s the worst type of multitasking. It will also jam up your keyboard. Don’t over eat.

Sleep well. No sleep equals no think.

The journey of ten thousands leagues begins with a single step.

Talk to someone who’s been down that road.

Join a critique group. Get a mentor. Take classes. Go to conferences. They are a lot of people on the same journey you’re on, support and share with those fellow travelers.

Stay strong, write on, and take that first step. Professor Hyram Voltage

The journey of ten thousands leagues begins with a single step.

               Get a Fitbit

Just how long is a league? 1 League = 14763.7795 Feet or 2.79617037 Miles.

You got to pace yourself. Don’t burn out going to fast at first. Your on a journey of 27,962 miles. It will take time. There will be set backs. Still while you’re fresh and strong you should go faster than an even pace through out the process. I subscribe to not setting goals but have a process. You can go over or under the process limits with no penalty and not feel bad.

Steampunk Writing Accessories

If it gets you in the mood to write use accessories. You don’t need accessories, but anything that helps you write go for it.

You can write with nothing more than a pencil or pen handed out by your local insurance agent or you scarfed at a writers convention and on a brown paper trash bag. Better yet you can write on a computer at the local library and save stuff on a free Drop Box or Evernote account.

More writers should write at libraries. It’s quiet and there’s plenty of reference material at hand. The big draw back is they won’t let you bring coffee into the library.

A fountain pen. What’s more 1880s than a fountain pen? What’s more Steampunk than to sign your book than with a fountain pen? I use a Pilot brand Metropolitain fountain pen with a fine or medium nib. Well made, you can get pre-filled ink cartridges or a fountain pen converter to load ink from a bottle. The pen cost $11.00 to &20.00. See the YouTube videos by the Goullet Pen company. Mine is a Black Plain pen although I liked the Gold Zig-Zang one. I thought a gold colored outside was too flamboyant for a serious writer like I am. Checkout The Goulet Pen company and give Mr. Goulet a call and ask him what he thinks is the most steampunk pen he sells.

I use Noodler’s No Feather ink. Feather is where the ink bleeds away form the line you drew. The Pilot ink is good too. If you buy enough ink from Noodler’s you get a free pen, but a 4.5 ounce bottle will last a long (years and years) time.

The one draw back with the Metropolitain fountain pen is that you can not see how much ink you have left. Other pens have clear windows or clear bodies that show how much ink is left. They don’t look steam punk.

Another steampunk writing accessories is a roll top desk. I just got one. Get a solid wood one, not one made from particle board. Do I need a roll top desk? NO. But it sets the mood for writing steampunk and I wanted one since I read a story that featured one in Analog Science Fiction magazine when I was in high school.

Surrounded by real, dark stained, oak. This is better than the old door held up by two, two drawer file cabinets it replaces. I typed on that lash-up for years and years. This desk has class. The desk is not new and I saw a blog where that author also got a roll top desk too. Must be something going around.

If it helps you write and doesn’t hurt anyone then do it.

Stray strong, write on.      Professor Hyram Voltage


Halloween Playlist

While handing out Halloween candy I like to crank up the stereo and play Halloween music. What is music you ask, see the list;

Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Back. I use an organ version. It’s a classic.

Tubular Bells. People don’t recognize it but sets the mood for Halloween

Grim Grinning Ghosts by Thurl Ravencroft, from Disneyland’s haunted house. Lighter fare after the grim classics

Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Picket You got to play it on Halloween.

It’s Alive by Bobby Boris Picket. A little known song that I like.

Psycho Chicken by The Fools.

The Addams Theme by Vic Mitzy. A snappy tune that young trick-or-treaters have never heard.

Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer. Tango during Halloween, what an idea.

Zombie Jamboree by Rockapella.

Ghostbuster by Ray Parker Jr.

Out of Limits by Marketts

The Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Thiller by Micheal Jackson. You gotta love the laugh at the end.

Werewolves of London by Warren Zevan.

What does a playlist of Halloween songs have to do with writing steampunk stories? If your writing a horror or spooky part of your story putting on the right music will get you in the mood or mind set to write a good horror bit. It might even entice the muse to come by. Try Tubular Bells the next time you want to add a Science Fiction or fantasy element to a scene.

Stray strong, write on, listen hard.   Professor Hyram Voltage


Contest and Insecurity

My book was accepted into the contest. That can mean one of two things.

  1. That my book is better than I thought.
  2. The contest will accept anything that has a cover and words underneath. Is my insecurity showing? Yes. There will always be authors out there that are better than me. I’m competing against everyone. I don’t expect to win. But I entered and I was accepted. Which will frost some people that think my writing is terrible. Which may be true, but the people running the contest have not offered to sell me anything yet. They haven’t offered a “place higher in the contest by taking this course” promo. And it didn’t cost me anything to get into the contest.Could the book be better? Yes, but I don’t know how to make it better yet. I’m working on it. I will be working on becoming a better writer for the rest of my life. And you should be too, or I’ll past you.I sent my second book manuscript off to two Beta readers. I only need four more Beta Readers, at least that is what an author I respect said. I will read your manuscripts for Beta Reads of mine, if your willing to Beta Read reply via email at Professor@professorvoltage.com.

    This is something I have learned and is a step to make my second book better than the first. If it works out I will send the first book to these Beta Readers. Hey, I hadn’t heard of Beta Readers when I wrote my first book. Of course after I fix up the first book I will have to send it off to be edited again. That’s expensive. I hope to have better luck the second time I work with an editor.

    Stay Strong, Write On.   Confused, insecure, afraid. Professor Hyram Voltage

Why so few Engineers are writers

Engineers are solitary creatures. Preferring to work by themselves. So it would seem that they would be perfect for being writers.

The problem is working with others. The term “Engineering Team” is an oxymoron. An engineer is trained to take a big problem and break it into small solvable pieces. There is no team in, break into small pieces. They beak the problem up, then each member of the team goes off by themselves and works on their part of the problem. This leads to difficulties when they go to bolt the project together they find one engineer used course threaded nuts and bolts and he must attach his part to a part that another engineer used fine threaded nuts and bolts on. The third engineer used SAE threaded nuts and bolts on his part and the fourth engineer used metric threaded nuts and bolts. They were all too busy making their parts to read the contract that stated they were to use Whitworth threads.

They were trained to do their homework alone, with no coping from others. Work is just like homework and writing a book is work. That’s why so many people never finish writing a book. It’s to much like homework (and for so many pays about the same).

Now imagine them in a critique group. Imagine an engineer trying to manage a group of 20 or more Beta Readers while remaining an engineer and not becoming a pointed haired boss. Imagine an engineer with two books on English grammar and they disagree with each other. It’s enough to make a logical engineer snap.

Stay strong, write on.        Professor Hyram Voltage

Digging The Line

Sung to the tune of Draggin’ the Line, Sewer line that is (sung to the tune of the theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies).

Fourteen feet doesn’t sound that long. It is if you have to crawl under a house, a long way under the house, and dig out fourteen feet of four inch, cast iron sewer line with a short handled shovel.

Things I do on my day off. It took, two of us, three days to finish the job. That cast iron pipe is heavy. Had to cut it into three pieces to drag it out from under the house.

It may have been dry under the house, but it was dirty. Had to wash several loads of clothes after we were done.

The plastic pipe we replaced the cast iron with was much lighter. Gluing is much easier than hammering lead between the joints of cast iron pipe like they did 60 years ago when they put the cast iron pipe in. It was a drain line so there was no risk of lead poisoning.

In a couple of places the cast iron pipe had rotted into a cast iron trough.

Stay strong, write on.    Professor Hyram Voltage

War within Amazon Publishing

I got an email from Michelle Campbell-Scott. I bought a course from her. She said that CreateSpace is requesting that authors and publisher remove all Amazon URLs (to their books) from their manuscripts or add two other places where the books are available.

Sounds like war between KDP and CreateSpace.

KDP is now offering the ability to upload print books directly. Michelle warns (from her email):

It looks like KDP and CreateSpace may have parted ways – especially as KDP are now offering the ability to upload print books directly. The general wisdom is not to do this though. They don’t offer proof copies and the quality of the formatting may not be as good. I’ll let you know if this changes. For now, CreateSpace remains the best option most most print purposes – not least because CreateSpace staff are excellent and accessible (unlike KDP staff!).

Just remember not to have Amazon links in your print books unless you’re also including other links to book sales sites.


Publishing is changing fast, stay on top.

Stay strong, write on.        Professor Hyram Voltage

The Search for an Editor

I like the editor I used the last time, but. There’s always a but. It was a sterile relationship. The editor worked for a company. There was not much back and forth. I don’t even know the editor’s name or if I was dealing with a man or a woman.

I got a lot of good inputs from the editor. I think the editor did a good job, but I don’t know who it was.

I’m looking for an editor that will do a lot of work. I’m not good with the English language and I need a lot of help. I also want re-edits, edits of what I corrected, at a reduced rate. Hey the editor has looked at it already. I can make more mistakes fixing something than were there in the first place. I don’t do this on purpose.

I was lucky to get the last editor I got. It was a lot of work to find him/her. During this busy time of year it’s hard to find time to write let alone search for an editor.

Stray strong, Write On. Professor Hyram Voltage

The best tools to write with

Artist are often asked what they use to draw with. Authors are asked about their writing process. People want to know what is the best paint, pencil, or brush to paint with. While budding authors want to know what the best time, computer, program, or method to write with.

You want to know the secret. It doesn’t matter. And it all depends on you.

Here is a link to an artist that proved it by drawing a drawing with a charcoal briquette (like you use to barbecue with) on an old fashion brown paper grocery bag.

It’s not the tools, it’s the artist or the author making the story or drawing with what he’s got. That doesn’t mean having good tools makes the effort go faster, but you shouldn’t wait till you can afford the most expensive computer, the $200.00 pen, the finest art paper. A number two pencil and copy paper, even the back of a five year old financial report will do for a first draft. Here’s a YouTube video showing the first Harry Potter was written with a cheap pen on whatever paper or note book was handy. You have to watch about half way through to get to where they show the writing.

But it has to be typed on the finest paper you scream. Maybe not. Several years ago I was at the world science fiction convention. The top editor of a leading science fiction magazine gave a talk. In the talk he mentioned how every month they received a hand written manuscript from an author on the east coast. Like clock work these thing would arrive. After a while he tried to read one. It wasn’t a story. He wasn’t sure what it was. He got other people on the magazine staff to read different manuscripts that this author sent in. No one could figure out what the author was writing, but they read it. I don’t recommend doing this, but they read it.

The point of this is that magazine editors will read hand written stories. They don’t have a lot of time and your chances of this happening are near zero, but it can happen. Don’t do it. There are $200.00 laptop out there. You can use McDonald’s or Starbucks for a internet connections. There are public libraries that will let you use their computers.

The problem is you have to write a story. The editors want stories, I want stories, the world wants stories. And the authors have to write stories, not rants, not dialog, and not gibberish. You can find help for spelling, proper English, but you  have to make it a story, even if it’s written on a 7 year old third hand computer. Been there, done that one and I have friends that are doing just that.

Stay strong, write on.                 Professor Hyram Voltage