As is customary at this time of year, here are the top twelve posts on Entrepreneur Writer this year, based on comments, pageviews and social media shares. They are in no particular order. Obviously, I have excluded any posts that are no longer relevant, e.g. anthologies where the deadline has passed.
I hope you will enjoy revisiting these posts, or seeing them for the first time if you are new to EW. Don’t forget, you can always subscribe to Entrepreneur Writer to be notified of new posts as soon as they appear.
A quick mention too for my newly launched UK personal finance blog Pounds and Sense. I do hope you will check this out as well if you haven’t already. I look forward to bringing you plenty more posts on both blogs in 2017.
If you have any comments or questions, of course, please do feel free to leave them below.
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I have mentioned Futurelearn on this blog before. It’s a UK-based platform for short online courses from British and international universities. All Futurelearn courses are free and open to anyone in the world.
Anyway, I thought you might like to know that a course titled Start Writing Fiction begins on 9 January 2017.It comes from The Open University, a well-respected UK distance learning institution. It will run for eight weeks and you can enrol now if you wish.
Start Writing Fiction is intended for anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing. There is a particular focus on creating interesting, believable characters. The course does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.
On the website, it says:
Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.
You will listen to established writers, such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey, talk about how they started writing. You’ll consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal.
You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.
You’ll also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on your own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback.
The course is run by Dr Derek Neale. It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.
Futurelearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I recently took one called Secrets of Successful Ageing from Trinity College, Dublin, which was informative and thought-provoking. I am also enrolled on an Open University course called Managing My Investments in January. As well as the teaching itself, another big attraction of Futurelearn courses is the opportunity they provide to interact with fellow students all over the world.
If you have any comments or questions about Futurelearn, as ever, please do post them below.
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This product is being sold via the popular and well-established WarriorPlus platform. The main guide is a 94-page PDF. This is well written (as with all of Amy’s guides) and illustrated with graphics and screen captures where relevant.
As you may gather from the name, Card Deck Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing your own decks of cards. These are not standard packs with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds (though you could certainly produce those if you wish). They are actually much more varied than that, including:
Card and trading games
Flash cards / learning / education cards
Business / creativity / thinking / self-help
The manual goes on to look at where you can get ideas for card decks, and how to design and produce them. Amy covers a range of publishing options, including traditional self-publishing companies and online ‘drag and drop’ services. She provides detailed information about services she recommends in both these categories.
The final section of the manual includes advice on marketing and selling your card decks, including the use of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, as well as Amazon (FBA), eBay, Shopify stores, and so on.
There is also a separate ‘fast-start’ guide, which I understand will be available as an optional extra. This is a 45-page PDF. It goes into much more detail about the nuts and bolts of publishing a card deck, including design considerations, fonts to use, software, and so forth, again with plenty of useful free and low-cost resources described. This guide also contains valuable advice about using public domain and PLR (private label right) content, to avoid the cost of commissioning original artwork. If you plan to buy Card Deck Publishing Profits, I would definitely consider getting the fast-start guide as well.
Overall, I thought Card Deck Publishing Profits was a high-quality guide to creating, publishing and marketing a print product I wouldn’t even have considered before. But certainly, even a swift search online shows that there is a big market for this type of product. There is also the attraction that card decks are ‘evergreen’ products with the potential to go on selling steadily for months or even years to come.
Of course, as with any printed product, there will be a learning curve. This is not as straightforward as publishing a Kindle e-book (although it must be said that this is becoming a very crowded market). On the plus side, however, there is much less competition, and once you have published one deck, there is no reason you couldn’t publish more quite quickly. It is definitely an opportunity any entrepreneurial writer should consider.
Finally, I should note that Card Deck Publishing Profits is on sale at a launch offer price of just $17 until 31 December 2016, after which the cost will rise to $27.
Today I wanted to let you know about the new blog I have just launched called Pounds and Sense.
This is a personal finance blog aimed especially at over-60s – in which category, of course, I myself now belong 🙂
In Pounds and Sense I will be sharing my thoughts on saving money, making money and investing, all from a 60-plus perspective. It will be more of a lifestyle blog than Entrepreneur Writer, so you can also expect to read about other matters that interest me, such as health, food and drink, travel, leisure, relationships, and so on.
Unlike Entrepreneur Writer, which is written for a world-wide readership, Pounds and Sense will be targeted more at UK readers. That is necessarily so, as financial matters are often specific to the country in which you live, whilst writing is largely universal. Of course, I hope that at least some of Pounds and Sense will be of interest (and value) to non-UK residents – and you are all, of course, very welcome to visit my new blog and follow it!
I will continue to update Entrepreneur Writer, although perhaps not quite so frequently. I am semi-retired these days and no longer working for WCCL (publishers of my Write Any Book in Under 28 Days course), More Money Review or any other regular clients, but I do still have a strong interest in writing (and remain available for interesting commissions!).
Pounds and Sense has only just been launched, so there isn’t much content on it at the moment (just a single post at the time of writing this). But that will of course change over the coming weeks and months, as I get into my stride with it.
Here’s a sideline earning opportunity that will give your little grey cells an enjoyable workout as well.
Prolific Academic is a website that provides a platform for academic researchers across the world to conduct online studies of all types. And the best thing is that participants get paid for taking part.
Anyone is welcome to sign up, and you are then shown studies you are eligible for. They are typically in the fields of business, science, psychology and social science. Payments range from 40p to £3.00 or more. Obviously, the longer the study, the higher the payment tends to be. Helpfully, PA show you how long people take on average to complete the study and what this equates to as an hourly rate.
For most people the money will be the main attraction, but the studies themselves are interesting and varied. One I did recently involved injecting virtual mice with a virtual chemical, and then using a virtual loupe (magnifying glass) to see which ones “expressed a gene” (or more prosaically changed colour). You then had to answer some questions about what conclusions you could draw from each experiment.
Another one I enjoyed involved reading a transcript of an unfair dismissal hearing (I assume an imaginary one). You then had to decide whether the complainant had indeed been unfairly dismissed, based on legal information provided. This one took me back to the long-ago days when I worked for a while in a Citizens Advice Bureau and represented several people at tribunals myself. Interesting stuff.
Payment is made via the online payment system PayPal, so you will need to set up a PayPal account if you don’t have one already. There is a low withdrawal threshold of just £5, but if you wait till you have earned £20 or more payments are made without the usual deductions for PayPal charges. I recently received my first payment of £20.92, which came through within five days of requesting the money.
Prolific Academic is based in Oxford, England, but as far as I know anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to join. It is definitely open to US residents. With PayPal, of course, it is easy to change money from UK pounds to US dollars, euros, and so on.
Prolific Academic also rewards members who introduce other members, so if you join and recruit your friends and family as will, you can potentially boost your earnings significantly. As you may have gathered, I am using referral links in this blog post, but am only doing so having proved to my own satisfaction that PA is genuine and they really do pay people for taking part in studies.
Finally, if you are an academic researcher yourself, you can sign up via any link in this post and Prolific will then pay you £25 towards the cost of your first study (so long as you put in at least £50 yourself).
If you have any questions or comments about Prolific Academic, as always, please do post them below.
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My friend and former myWritersCircle moderator Joe Mynhardt is inviting stories for two new anthologies to be produced by his horror fiction publishing house, Crystal Lake Publishing.
The first of these is the annual Tales From The Lake anthology, which this year is being edited by Ben Eads. Details from the website are copied below:
TALES FROM THE LAKE: VOLUME 4
What we are looking for:
Non-themed short horror stories that arrests readers and leave them haunted for months to come. Stories must be original. We are not accepting reprints.
Since horror is the only genre of fiction defined by an emotion, your story must have the following:
Believable, three-dimensional characters just as real as your friends and neighbors. A real world—hitting all the senses—these characters inhabit.
Originality is just as important—we don’t want your version of someone else’s story from yesteryear.
Although our arms are wide open, we’re more interested in fiction that reflects the modern. Joe Hill, and Mercedes M. Yardley are prime examples of current dark fiction writers encapsulating the above in their work.
Quality of the work must be top notch! The following authors have appeared in previous Tales from The Lake anthologies: Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Rena Mason, Graham Masterton, Lisa Morton, Tim Lebbon, and Tim Waggoner. That’s the high-water mark you must strive for.
If you want to write a story about vampires, werewolves or ghosts, then your story needs to evolve that trope. You must have a unique premise. I cannot stress that enough.
If you wish to submit an “extreme horror” or “splatterpunk” story, that’s fine with us. However, you’ll have to make sure that your emotional foundations are solid, and your characters actually have an arch. We will not accept stories that just go for the gore and offer nothing more.
What we are not looking for:
Stories that are not short horror stories.
Novels or novellas.
Stories bereft of characters that readers can believe in and root for. The only exception to this rule would be the “terror tale,” which is best kept as short as possible. Think a thousand words or less.
Stories with flat worlds.
Stories about serial killers. It’s too cliché, and our readers demand more than a trend that has been beaten to death.
Speaking of trends, if you wish to write a “zombie story,” then it must be one of the most unique zombie stories ever written. This is possible, and we look forward to it.
To avoid too many writers writing about lakes, please keep in mind this is a non-themed anthology.
Any explicit abuse toward children or animals is expressly forbidden. So is any sexual abuse. This can be mentioned or remembered by your main character, but be subtle.
Submissions are open now, and end February 1, 2017. Stories should be no longer than 7,000 words. However, they say they prefer stories that are at or around 4,000 words. Payment is $0.03 USD a word via PayPal. For information on formatting and how to submit, please visit the Crystal Lake publishing website.
The other anthology is the C.H.U.D Tribute Anthology, edited by Eric S. Brown. This opens for submissions on 1 December 2016. On the website, the editor writes:
I want the language toned down or cut out entirely. No taking the Lord’s name in vain (sorry, this is a big one for me. It’s a personal thing, but since I am the editor…)
If you have sex in your stories, keep it off-screen or mild. Gore and violence? Well, go wild, but remember the strengths of C.H.U.D. as a film are its character development and suspense.
Stories may be set before the movie, leading up to it, but they cannot do anything that would change or alter the events of the movie. Stories may even be set after the movie. Think C.H.U.D. running loose in the streets.
As mentioned, submissions open December 1 and close January 31 2017. Story length should be between 3,000 and 10,000 words. Payment is 3 cents (US) a word paid within a week of publication via PayPal. Only one submission is allowed per author, even after a rejection has been sent out.
You might remember that I wrote about Emma earlier this year in my post How One Blogger Made £100,000 Working from Home on the Internet. Emma is a UK-based blogger who writes about a vast range of ways of making money online. I have been following her for a while now, and don’t mind admitting I have learned a lot by doing so.
As a result of that post I was invited to check out another site that aims to help canny consumers save money on their shopping. This one is called Dealspotr. It is US-based, but anyone in the world is welcome to join.
The way Dealspotr works is that when you sign up you provide some basic information about the sorts of things you like to buy online (groceries, fashion, cosmetics, health/medical products, etc.). You can also subscribe to specific brands such as McDonald’s. Any time you log in, the site then shows you the latest deals in that category (see screen capture below).
Dealspotr also has an important community aspect. For example, members can vote on their favorite deals, and the deals generating most votes are highlighted in the Hot Deals or On Fire Deals categories.
As well as savings, however, you can also make money from Dealspotr, by earning points that can be redeemed for gift cards. You earn points for sharing deals, finding (curating) deals, flagging up expired or invalid deals, referring new members, commenting on deals, and various other actions. You will earn a $10 gift card for every 10,000 points you earn. And you can get your first 5,000 points (worth $5) by clicking through to Dealspotr using my link.
I have only been a member of Dealspotr for a short time but am very impressed with the concept and the sort of deals you can access via the site. It is a good example of how a website can be greatly augmented by encouraging members to engage and interact with it.
At present Dealspotr is likely to be of most interest to US residents, but many of the deals are also open to people living elsewhere. And as the site grows, I expect more and more deals targeted at people living in the UK and other countries to appear as well.
If you have any comments or questions about Dealspotr, as ever, please do post them below.
Here’s a nice (paying) opportunity for all you science fiction, fantasy and horror authors!
Broken Eye Books, a Seattle-based independent publishing house, is inviting contributions for a themed anthology series of weird horror set in or inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos. This will be a follow-up to their original Tomorrow’s Cthulhu anthology (pictured above).
The next release is Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird, presenting tales that combine space opera with cosmic weird horror, either set within the Cthulhu Mythos or inspired by it. On their website they say:
Send us into space, away from earth, and bring the weird! Give us adventure and wonder, spaceships and monsters, tentacles and insanity, determined struggle and starborne terror. Whether sprawling in scope or tightly focused and personal, make sure to give us a taste of the greater universe of your story, such as the culture and politics. Make us long to know more of your universe.
We want diverse stories with modern sensibilities from many different voices that show the immense and diverging possibilities ahead for weird horror. We want to forge ahead and explore the new and the strange. We are actively seeking submissions from writers from underrepresented populations. (This includes, but is not limited to, writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class, and physical or mental ability.)
We want stories that mesh space opera with cosmic weird horror.
For the elements of space opera, modern touchstones include James SA Corey (Expanse series), Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch series), Iain Banks (Culture series), Nnedi Okorafor (Binti), David Brin (Uplift trilogy), and Becky Chambers (Wayfarers series). For mixing elements of space opera and cosmic weird horror, the short story “Boojum” by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette is a great touchstone. The technology level for submissions can fall anywhere in the soft- to hard-science range.
Stories should also be set within or be inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos. We want to see the Mythos continue to grow and evolve, to expand as a shared literary world and not be tied to outdated and limiting sensibilities. We are not interested in stories with bigoted, unbalanced views on race and gender.
Subversive or experimental stories are welcome.
No pastiches of previous eras for either the space opera elements or the weird horror elements.
Original, previously unpublished short stories (3,000-6,000 words) and flash fiction (1,000 words or less).
Pay rate of 8 c/w for first rights to digital, audio, and print formats in English.
Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please, let us know as soon as possible if your submission has become unavailable before you hear back from us.
Only one submission per author.
We seek both rich characters and grandiose ideas. We seek diverse characters.
For more details, including how to submit, click through to the Broken Eye Books website. The submission window is open from October 31, 2016 to January 31, 2017. They say, “The published anthology will be a mix of stories both from invited authors and from slush pile submissions. Don’t self-reject. If in doubt, submit.”
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Publisher’s Power Tool is the latest writing product to be launched by my colleague Amy Harrop and her business partner Debbie Drum. Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…
Publisher’s Power Tool is a guide to publishing picture books for children and adults using the presentation software MIcrosoft PowerPoint (other software options are also discussed). The guide then reveals how to publish them as ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle platform and/or as print books using Amazon CreateSpace.
Publisher’s Power Tool is being sold via the popular and well-established WarriorPlus platform. The main guide is a 69-page PDF. As you would expect with any of Amy and Debbie’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with graphics and screen-captures where relevant.
The manual explains how you can capitalize on the huge market for picture books. Although children are the obvious target audience, the authors make the point that there is a sizeable market for adult picture books as well, including how-to books, humour books, and inspirational books.
The main part of the manual walks you through creating a picture book yourself with the aid of the PowerPoint software. It sets out the advantages of using PowerPoint for this purpose, including the ease with which you can create a template for publishing a series of such books. You can also easily insert pictures in bulk, which is a great time-saver. And it is also very easy to edit and rearrange the pages in a PowerPoint file, until you have your book looking exactly the way you want it.
The latter part of the manual then discusses how readers can publish and market the books themselves. Eight pages are devoted to Kindle publishing and ten pages to print publishing using CreateSpace. Clearly, covering how to do all this in detail would require a much longer book, so what Amy and Debbie have done is link to useful resources throughout the manual. Some of these are resources they have produced themselves, while others are from external websites. I understand that there may also be some extra reports and/or training videos with the finished product, although my pre-publication access only included the main manual.
The one thing that isn’t discussed in any depth is marketing your picture book (although the manual does discuss how to make the most of categories, keywords, and so on when listing your book on Amazon). Still, there is of course plenty of information about this available elsewhere on the internet, both free and paid for.
Overall, I think Publisher’s Power Tool is another excellent addition to the growing roster of writing resources published by Amy and Debbie. If you are already a confident PowerPoint user you may find some of the advice on using the software familiar, but it is still enlightening to see how the authors adapt it to this particular purpose.
Publisher’s Power Tool is currently on a launch special offer after which – as is Amy and Debbie’s usual practice – the price will be rising by $10. If you want to broaden your publishing portfolio with something that is fun and not too time-consuming, it is definitely worth checking out.