Retirement, Writing, Hobbies and Expenses

david-beckham-drives-speedboat-on-thames-carrying-olympic-torch-to-opening-ceremony-via-www.theguardianpost.co_.uk_

I just read Anne R. Allen’s blog post here, and I am feeling validated. I don’t envy people trying to write for a living. I applaud you and I am amazed by you every day, but I am content to carry the Olympic Torch with honor. Writing professionally as a career choice is admirable, but I cannot claim to be anything more than a professional amateur. My writing is good. I am proud of it, and would like my work to be read, but starting another professional career after 30 years of nursing would scare the hell out of me.

Well, sort of, but not exactly.

I have hobbies. I read and I write. I make jewelry. I go fishing. I go boating. I cook. I paint in water colors and oils. I garden. I am retired. I have a few philanthropic endeavors, and a couple of places I volunteer my time and resources. I also have children and grandchildren. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, right?

Just because they are hobbies doesn’t mean that I don’t take them seriously, or that I, as a hobbyist, shouldn’t be taken seriously.

I sell a few paintings every year at art shows and galleries. A hotel offered me thousands of dollars for a couple of giant staghorn fern balls I have in the back yard (I couldn’t part with them though). I propagate Plumeria for profit. Many have commissioned me to make jewelry for friends and loved ones. I have paired my love for fishing and my talents in the kitchen to produce some fine meals. I have even sold a few books. And I feel appreciated.

Plumeria Mardi Gras (also known as frangipani)

Plumeria Mardi Gras (also known as frangipani)

For me, my hobbies will never have a financial ROI, because that’s not what it is about.

There is; however, a huge emotional ROI.

It’s true. I sell a book and I think, “Yay! I can tip the pizza delivery guy.”  Sell a few, and I go out and buy a bottle of wine.  Sell a lot, and it becomes an obsession. It has for me.  Not to make money, because most of it goes right back into promotions/ads, or other hobbies. But it is like any of my other hobbies/endeavors, I want to excel at what I enjoy doing.

But it can fuck with your head.

More than anything, I want readers to enjoy my work. When you write nice reviews, tears come into my eyes and I feel a flood of emotion.

So, I sold a bunch of books, but I only have one new review since my successful promo. It was very nice, and yes, it made me cry…happy tears. I don’t know how long most readers keep books on their tablets before they get around to reading them. I have some books I bought last year that have been there for months, and I have yet to commit the time to read them, so I get it. But it can be hard to sit and wait for others to feed your soul. I’ll probably have a mental meltdown and have to increase my meds when I get my first bad review.

Here’s something else that will fuck with your head.  Last night, I checked Amazon and saw my ranking was at #350,000 something. I thought, “Well, well, party is over.” I went to bed.

This morning, I get up and see that I am back in a Best seller’s Top 100 list at #98, my ranking has gone up to #100,000 something and I think I have sold some books. So I check KDP reports. Nada, not one, zero, 0. So how did that happen?  I go back to Amazon and refresh the page…several times…still at #98.  Stayed there all day.  For what reason I do not know, but it will freak you out when stuff like that happens.

I spend a lot of money on all of my hobbies, art supplies are not cheap, the boat…never mind the payments…maintenance alone is literally tossing money into the water, just the metals for jewelry clasps will eat a hole in your pocket faster than acid, add nice stones and gems, it adds up pretty fast, groceries…please, rods and reels and lures…have you been inside a sporting goods store lately? So why not spend money on promoting my book?   People are telling me not to. A) It isn’t necessary, and B) It is a bad thing to spend money on ads and feed the monsters. C) There should be a ROI or it is a bad investment. I want to sell more books.

I am like the marathon runner that has to make the last mile despite all the odds, the dieter who is on the verge of the last fifty pounds, yes, and the crack ho who needs a fix and a good lay!

Okay, maybe I am carrying this a bit far.

Seriously, I am thinking about another advertisement but one that uses the contemporary fiction genre instead of the historical fiction genre.  The book barely made it into the historical fiction category based on the 50-60 years passed since the primary events.  Yet, it deals with many contemporary issues, abortion, adoption, racial tensions…civil rights, women’s rights. I am thinking of trying a genre switch, what do you think about that? When I studied reviews a week ago, I saw many books about the 1950s listed in contemporary fiction. Also, the first third of the book (Part One) takes place in the present and 1992-93. It is Part Two that takes place in the 1950s.

For the thrill of it, would you spend money on yet another ad?

Should I try a genre switch?

Do I need to tweak my meds?

46 thoughts on “Retirement, Writing, Hobbies and Expenses

    • I only have a couple of oil paintings, one on the wall and the other isn’t finished. The rest I have either sold or given away.

      Flowers are everywhere right now.

      So, what do you think? Should I splurge on another ad or do another promo…or should I leave it alone until I get the next book written?

      How many days left before I can hug your neck? Have I told you lately that I love you? Would you like a glass of wine? Do I need to tweak my meds?

  1. I wouldn’t do a genre change and another ad is up to you. Maybe wait until February after the post-holiday confusion is over. My book has been spinning around and making no sense since 2014 started. Plummeted with sales and leaped with no sales. It would drive me to drink if I didn’t need to save the vodka for cooking.

    As for the reviews, it takes a while for them to come in after a sale. Many people will buy multiple books at once and take their time getting through them. Think of it this way to put yourself at ease. A quick review after a sale can come from a rushed reader or someone who hated the book. Quick reviews are really only ‘useful’ during a debut month because those come from readers who were excited about your book from the hype. If a person takes their time to read and enjoy your book then you’ll get a better review. Honestly, a part of being an author seems to be BSing yourself into looking at the possible plus side as the most likely situation.

    Very cool hobbies that you have there.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement. I was really excited this morning after going to bed at #350,000 and waking up to this:
      Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,878 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
      #98 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > African American
      I thought I had sold some books. HA!….not even one.

      All day, I hung there, and then I sold one, so you would think I would have some dramatic improvement, no, here is where I stand now:
      Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,878 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
      #98 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > African American

      I am so confused.

      I have the GoodKindles thing going right now. Perhaps it is best to wait a couple of months, like you say, and clean up after the party before I try to throw another one, else the house might get in a terrible mess. Especially if I go changing genres. I will try to practice some patience with the reviews. I would much rather people take time to enjoy the book, than have them rush through it and be disappointed. Thanks for re-blogging Pamela’s review BTW. That was awful thoughtful. You’re the best.

      • That’s really weird with the rankings and sales. Hope it improves though. Maybe Amazon is doing some stuff with the math behind the rankings.

        My system is to try an advertising thing every month. Wait too long and you get cooled off, but I’m slightly neurotic about it.

        What genre are you right now and what are you thinking of switching too? The dangerous thing with a genre switch is that if you go to one that doesn’t really fit then it’ll hurt you and net some bad reviews.

        • Here it is now:Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,363 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store, it makes no sense…now I sold a book, a book…it finally moved. Why did it fall off of the list? Why is this number getting higher and not lower and look how far it jumped!

          Okay..enough about that, maybe I have had too much wine.

          It sits on the line of historical fiction regarding eras. Most historical fiction is creating a fictional story around a famous or an obscure person in history, but some is about the people and times of a certain era. For example, a murder mystery that takes place in 1865, or story about some king’s bastard son that is based on known truths but embellished by fiction. Well, RC & R is not about anyone famous, but there are stories take place in the 1950s. 50-60 years is the acceptable cut off date for considering something “Historical” fiction. Most of the time when I think Historical fiction, I think of Medieval Times and I think most other people do also. Though, there are a lot of historical fictions surrounding great wars, like the American Revolution, Civil War and WW I and II. There are a lot of stories in the 30s and 40s considered historical fiction. RC & R isn’t surrounding any war, but it was a historical period in time, around the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Movements. It is a fictionalized true story, but not a biography or a memoir, it has much historical content. So, in looking for a genre, I plugged it in there.

          It also speaks to many issues that are still very contemporary and gives the history of those issues. The 1950s was not so very long ago when you are my age. Most people still regard the 1950s as contemporary times. So I was thinking of changing it to contemporary fiction. It was really the beginning of much social change that reflects contemporary times. The turning point. Thus, my conundrum.

          • I wish I had an answer. Though, I’m sure Amazon would change it or eliminate me if I ever figured it out.

            It does sound like Historical Fiction. I’m looking at the other genres that you can get on lists of for that area. I know you can pick 2, but you can also get on the lists by putting them as keywords. For example, I do ‘sword & sorcery’ on mine to get on that list. Maybe instead of switching genres, you can use that trick to get on more of them. I’m not sure of the definition of contemporary fiction, but if that works go for it.

            • My two were literary fiction and historical fiction.
              Under keywords I used 20th Century (a requirement with historical fiction), interracial, South, United States, sagas, regional, and African American. The African American thing is new and is what seems to keep pulling it back onto top 100….which one to take out to use the word contemporary????

            • I am thinking it might be a little weird to have it show up as Literary Fiction>Historical> African American
              Literary Fiction> Contemporary>African American at the same time.
              Or even Literary Fiction>Contemporary
              AND Historical Fiction>United States
              if it showed up on two lists at the same time, that might be both confusing and off-putting to a reader trying to decide on a book.
              I don’t know, might be fun just to see what a computer would do with that.

              • Not really confusing. It means you’re hitting two audiences. People don’t look at the same list at the same time and you won’t always sit at the same level. For example, I’ve been on Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, and Action/Adventure at the same time with no problems. In fact, it helps. It gives people a closer idea of what you’re writing and a combination can perk interest.

                    • One definition of contemporary is the last ten years. Either writing about something that has occurred in the last ten years OR having written something in the last ten year (eg.. a contemporary author). It can be something about the past. Like “Water for Elephants” is not considered a historical fiction even though it is about the circus in the 1930s….the author wrote it within the last ten years.

                      Historical Fiction has several definitions as well. Some last 50-60 years….but European experts in literature say, “”Something written about the time periods BEFORE 1945 (69 years ago). That’s a very different time frame. What happens to the years after 1945 from 1954-64, or 1945-2004?
                      being 1950s-60s it hits in the Historical fiction category just barely and only by SOME definitions.

                    • Sounds like you can get away with contemporary. A genre that phases authors out because of time seems a little odd though.

                      I think Historical Fiction as a whole is about the past, but it can get divided into various subgenres depending on focus. It’s the blanket genre like Romance, Fantasy, Science-Fiction, etc.

                    • Some people won’t even buy anything with “contemporary fiction” in the title because they fear the writer doesn’t have the experience…which is not a plus. Many won’t buy Historical, though, because they fear it will be a boring historical account, also not a plus.

                      Here I am again, trying to please everybody.

                    • *Shows off Present Tense Author T-Shirt* I’m well aware of that trap. I have another T-Shirt about being a fantasy author who doesn’t delve into the fictional politics. You’re always going to have people who don’t like it. Their loss.

                    • I will put in contemporary and see what happens. Might blow up a computer though. Trying to decide between historical and contemporary in literary fiction.

  2. I don’t ever expect to make a living writing, but if it were to happen, I think I could live with it. 😉 That said, I’m going to keep at this until I can no longer put words together. My current plan is to “retire” at 55 (just less than six years from now) and when that happens, live the life of a writer. I’ll have enough of a pension from my government job that my basic living expenses will be covered. I’ll be able to spend my time writing, painting, sitting on beaches, and just being. But, being able to write when I want and how much I want will be such a huge part of it. While I hope to be able to experience success, it won’t be critical. More important will be the opportunity, the freedom, to engage in these things that define who I am more than any job I ever had.

    • I so love how well you put that! I am living that dream now. I am 53, and I don’t worry anymore about making ends meet. My time is my own and that is an awesome feeling. My husband retires in 5 years. I don’t know what he is going to do. He has been home for three weeks and starts back to work tomorrow. I can’t wait. He was bored stiff, says he is going to build/rebuild cars and boats when he retires.

      You will realize your dreams, and your writing will flourish. You have years of experience on people like me. Never have any regrets. We are young yet!

      • Had a conversation with a woman at work who is past retirement age. She tried it, for three years, and couldn’t find enough to keep her busy so she returned to work. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO WORRIES ABOUT WHETHER I WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP BUSY. The possibilities are endless.

        • I trust you will stay busy. My dad retired at age 60 after 37 years with Reserve Life Insurance Company. Less than a year later, he bought his own independent agency…he has had a few heart surgeries, but goes right back to work and puts in a full day at the office at age 75. I know it is right for him, but it is NOT what I want to be doing with my time. I could ride boxcars and be happier.

          • Busy for me will be … running (or walking), baking and cooking, painting and drawing, writing, napping, learning to play the saxophone or the guitar, and generally just hanging out.

            • All of the above sound like a great plan, except I have no musical talents. I make such a mess when I paint that I don’t do it as often as I would like. I am too lazy to clean up, but I CAN cook a gourmet meal and have the dishes done by bedtime.

              I am still in a conundrum over this genre thing.

  3. Rankings are relative to other books. If your book has a history of good sales for the month, while it’s not selling, other books that usually don’t sell much jump ahead of yours. Your book’s rank climbs more slowly than those others because of the good sales history. When Amazon updates, many of those other books drop back, and yours comes down.

    • That sort of makes sense. I think I am going to stop watching ranks for about a week…maybe two…and then come back and see if I have reviews. Let the GoodKindles ad do it’s thing…if anything.

  4. Oh my goodness! Ya’ll had me LMAO with all that heart to heart conversation up there. I was reading on my phone – the one that came back to life – and had to come to the Philadelphia room to comment on my laptop. I need a little meat on my keyboard to actually make sense when I type and I know it’s called a laptop for a reason, but I can do better work at my desk. 🙂 I have no idea how long books stay on readers either but mine are on there a while now before I get to them. Before I started writing I could knock out a couple-three books a week. Now when I read I feel guilty because I’m not writing. It’s a battle! Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t learned to check my rankings? It would make me too nervous. Your plumeria is gorgeous. I have one that we inherited from Harry’s mom about three years ago and it is a deep pink. The first winter we had it we broke a limb off while putting it in the storeroom for the winter. H picked it up, stuck it down in a pot of dirt and it took root and bloomed that summer. Wow! Now if we had tried to root some that would have never happened!

    • I too feel guilty for not writing when I take the time to read…but another thing…when I am writing, actually pecking things down on a regular basis, I get disturbed by the words of others, the TV even…I can’t watch TV shows, movies, or read books when I am in writing mode. Maybe I am just mentally disturbed that way, but it is distracting to my thought processes.

      My plumeria has gone to pot lately…not literally..I am not smoking it yet. The plants look shabby, and the last cuttings I made didn’t root. I think I might need to feed them. They are in pretty porous soil.

      • We have to move ours in out of the weather in the winter. They lose all their leaves and look awful so I am glad they are in hiding for a while!
        By the time the warmer weather gets here they are ready to leaf out and put on some blooms. As I said, we inherited it so I don’t know a whole lot about the care of them. It is supposed to be down in the teens here tomorrow night and you know that is COLD for Florida!
        I’m going to not feel guilty tonight and read some more on your book. It moved up a notch last week when I finished another. Enjoying it so far!

        • We are much farther south than the panhandle, but it has been much cooler at night for us. I have to cover my euphorbia when and if it freezes here. I quit trying to nurture anything that I had to bring in…I kept letting the anthuriums die a cold death…forgetting to bring them in on cold nights and now they are all gone.

  5. Anne Lamott in her gutsy writing manual, Bird by Bird, describes all the emotions you are now feeling. Have you read it?

    No, you probably don’t need to change genres . . . just stay calm and carry on, or so the cliche goes.

    • I added “Contemporary issues” to the keywords but did not change the genres of literary and historical fiction, so we will see what happens.

      Tranquility is one of my goals in life. Some days are better than others…lol.

  6. Susan,

    you questions don’t sound like a “Professional amateur.” With all you have going there is something that compels you to check the standings. I think you are hooked. (Welcome)

    • LOL…I felt validated by Anne R. Allen’s article. She always makes me laugh…no matter what mood I am in when I click on her site.

      I am never quite sure what constitutes “professional”. Behaving professionally is, of course, part of it, but then there is the professional hooker…who I am certain behaves according to her own profession’s standards in order to be taken seriously.

      When I was a Nursing Assistant, I was , of course, expected to behave “professionally”, and I know many whom I would call health care professionals who are at that level…yet, I was told then, to be considered a professional, one needed a license. I became an L.P.N., with a license. Then I was told you needed a degree, so I became an R.N. with an A.S.N., a two year degree. Then I was told, to be considered a true “professional” nurse, one needed a B.S.N., so I got that. Then I was told that only Mastered degreed Nurses could practice as Nurse Practitioner’s, the only “real” professional nurse. I said whoa! I am too old for this…but I feel I have been a professional nurse all of my adult life.

      So, what does it take to be considered a professional writer? A degree, a published book, a series, three books, a best seller? Is it measured in dollars? Is it measured in seller’s rank? Are you a professional when you can support yourself on your writer’s income? I felt successful as a writer when I finished my work…before I ever published it. So what makes it professional? That it is well written as opposed to well behaved?

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