Targets for 2017


Get planning
Make a plan. Start with a dream, then set a goal, then get on with it!

OK, let’s get it out there. In 2017 I’m going to write my first full-length novel, in a series that I can extend to eight or more books.

To do this, I need to get into good writing habits, and spend time outlining, planning, writing, or editing every day.

To get into those habits, I’m investing in myself by joining a writing accountability and coaching group.

It’s run by Jenna Avery, and some of her colleagues.

It’s not cheap, but I’m hoping twelve weeks of being part of a writing group with active coaches will help me develop habits I wouldn’t develop if I continue trying it alone, and prove a good investment in the longer run.

I’ll let you know how I get on…


Why am I doing this?

I need to be a lot clearer about my motivations for this site, I think.

A site works well when it has an author who’s got a passion for something that others care about, and puts in the time. If the site’s focus is good, and the writing’s good, the site becomes a place that gathers a group of regular viewers. If it has regular viewers, they’ll start to make comments and ask questions, and the whole thing comes alive.

I don’t think this site is clear enough, or well-supported enough by me, to get there in its current form. I need to be more focused, and I need to find a clear theme from my many interests – not just bang on about what I’m up to.

Good work, Charlie. You spotted a glaring problem. Now fix it!

My original intention was to chart how to get out of working for others in a big company and use writing as a way of earning enough money to pay the bills.

I’m not sure that’s exciting enough. It’s a bit too defensive.

I need to be creating stuff that’s interesting and useful to a readership, in a way that can have earnings attached somewhere downstream. Focus on creating a useful, thought-provoking, and fun site. Hide the writing process from view.

My experiments with Constant Content worked well enough to show that I could probably ghostwrite for other websites if I needed to. Cool.

Now, I need to do some proper thinking about how I should interact with the world more sensibly and positively.


Writing for Content Mills

A content mill is a site that sells freelance writing to users of that content–usually website owners, looking to get their site further up the search engine results and thus earn more income.

Why do this?  It doesn’t sound like it will get you to your goals quickly or earn you a reasonable hourly rate. Isn’t it like writing prostitution?

Sort of, but there are two upsides: quality and practice.

If you pick the best sites for this, they are very picky about the quality of the writing.  They have editing teams and pay better rates for better writing.  The search engines can tell whether a native English speaker is writing an original article, or whether it’s been mass-produced by cutting and pasting from other articles already on the web.  These sites only want the first category of work.  That means I’ll have to write accurately and clearly, which is good discipline for any subsequent writing I do.

They also pay money when you get articles purchased.  They take a cut for facilitating the market, which is why they need good quality stuff which commands much better prices.  For me, while still at the day-job, this money isn’t going to make a noticeable difference to my monthly take-home pay, but it will have a few effects:

  1. it will measure real writing actually happening – how much money did I make this month from writing?
  2. it will force me to set up the admin properly.  I need to record time spent writing, money earned from writing, money spent on expenses like this website (a portion of) and my IT (again, a portion of).  Doing this will make selling other articles easier and get me going down the path of actual paid writing work.  I think these admin hurdles are often a cause of procrastination to new writers like me.

The two I’m looking at first are Textbroker and Constant Content.

Textbroker is a site where you write articles and sell all rights to them (a bit like ghost-writing?).  You can only write articles that publishing clients have requested.

Constant Content has some other options where you can sell usage rights, and other variants, as well as full rights.  You can also write whatever you like, although you won’t make much money if only you have an interest in one topic.

I’ll report back on both these options soon.


Yet another new plan. This time I’m really serious :-)

I’ve gone off the idea of the zero-carbon ebook.  It seems to combine too many things at once, which could easily restrict the market to just people with the same strange interests as me.

I’m now going to start writing three sets of books, some much shorter (so I’ll get them done and get them out there) and some much longer.  Here’s my sketched outline, in the order I’ll probably start them:

  1. Bannister Briefings: 20,000 word explanations of some big subjects of interest (hopefully).  They should get the reader to the point where they can make a good argument in the pub and spot nonsense on the topic when they hear it on the news or read it in the press.
  2. Bannister Guides: 50,000 word how-to guides with some theory but lots of step-by-step exercises and my mistakes, so the reader can be confident of making solid progress.
  3. Proper-job novels: 100,000 word meaty stories.  I’ve got some good ideas for these too.
I’ll start with a few briefing notes, and get them out to the world.  This will get me off my backside and also test out the processes of publishing and using distributors.  I’ve also started recorded expenses associated with my writing (planning?) activities, so I can claim them at tax time.

What can possibly go wrong with this plan? 🙂