Over the last few months, I’ve been mulling the idea of writing and publishing a short ebook every six to eight weeks. By short, I mean something along the lines of a the Kindle Singles that Amazon publishes — running about 3,000 to 6,000 words.
Why would I want to do this? Masochism, at least partly. But also to help pull myself out of a writing lull or rut or whatever you want to call it. Plus, I have some vague ideas that are longer than a blog post or article, but shorter than a full ebook.
The mulling is over. I’ve decided to jump right in with a new writing experiment. I call it The Short ebook Project. I do have some specific titles in mind. I’ll reveal those here and in my newsletter in the coming weeks.
To give you a taste of what’s to come, some of the broader categories I plan to cover include writing, productivity, and how to use certain software and web apps more effectively. I also plan to collect a long essay or three into one of these books.
The books themselves will be inexpensive — $3.00 each. I’ll be selling the books at Gumroad and they’ll be available in the following formats: PDF, EPUB, and .mobi (which you can load on to a Kindle).
The Short ebook Project gets underway in September. If you subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, you get a hefty discount on the books published under this banner.
Keep watching this space for announcements.
Back in the early 1980s, Harlan Ellison wrote a column titled “An Edge in My Voice” for L.A. Weekly. Part of Ellison’s contract with the paper was that he had full editorial freedom — I write ’em, you run ’em as Ellison said.
For the most part, the paper did just that. Until it received column in early 1983. That column was a 2,500 piece about magazine mailing labels. L.A. Weekly‘s reason for not running the column? The publisher didn’t believe anyone would want to read it. In the hands of another writer that might be true, but Ellison’s power of persuasion and invective turned that essay into something worth casting your eyes over.
Sure, there are hundreds or thousands of things you could write about that are more interesting than magazine mailing labels. I’m certain, though, more than a couple of us have an inkling to write about something mundane if only to share an experience. The key is making that mundane something a bit more interesting.
Here are a few tips that can help you do that.
I know a number of people who live in the Apple ecosystem — they’re almost mated to their MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads. I’ve used Apple products and, while I see what makes them attractive, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
That said, there are a few applications for Apple devices that I find interesting. For a while now, a few of my Apple-enthralled acquaintences, whose opinions I respect, have been raving about a writing app called IA Writer. Recently, an Android version of IA Writer came on the market.
I plunked down $4.99 (USD) and installed it on my tablet. For the last little while, I’ve been putting IA Writer through its paces. Like Apple’s products, IA Writer is useful. But, like Apple’s products, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
The one time I was accused of selling out as a writer happened in the early 1990s. My career as a professional freelancer was starting to gain some momentum, and I sold an article to a major Canadian newspaper. My accuser, a (now former) friend, thought I should have sold that article to a smaller, more worthy (his words, not mine) publication where I’d make a few cents a word. In fact, he figured that I should have kept writing for the small magazines where I’d been cutting my teeth.
He wasn’t a writer, though he did fancy himself a creative of some stripe. He definitely didn’t understand the reality of the life of a working writer. He didn’t seem to realize that the ideas in that article, and the ones I wrote for larger publications, found a wider audience than they would have in a smaller magazine. Getting more money for those pieces was also a nice bonus.
That, in my eyes, wasn’t and isn’t selling out.
To be honest, I still wonder what selling out actually means.
Lately, I’ve been working with a few coaching clients who want to set up an online presence. While I’ve been tailoring my advice to their needs, I’ve been running up against one question from all of them.
That question? What domain name should I choose?
Choosing the best domain name for yourself or your freelance writing business lies in the realm of branding. That’s a realm I’m not entirely familiar or confident with. In working with my clients, though, I’ve been able to come up with a few ideas about what does and doesn’t make a good domain name.
No matter what I’m doing, I prefer simple tools. That goes for the tools I write with, in case you’re wondering.
Over the years, I’ve used a number of note taking and productivity tools. One that I’ve consistently come back to is Simplenote. Why? It does everything that I need it to do, and without the overhead or complexity of other tools.
I don’t just use Simplenote for taking notes. I also use it to manage my writing. Here’s a look at how I do that.