for the Creatives

An experiment saving $$$ with Qapital app

Always one to shirk away from traditional New Year resolutions, I’ve come up with an improvement-related experiment instead.

I’m all for finding motivation to save without too much spreadsheet work. Ech, spreadsheets, am I right?

Enter Qapital app.

(Psst… Sign up using my referral link, & Qapital gives us both $5)

Qapital is kinda like a saving $$$ game. You set “rules” for how to save and then you rake in the dough – or at least the dollars and cents and sense.

The great savings experiment numbers data stuff:

I already save each month, so my skepticism reared its actually-quite-beautiful head when I first heard of Qapital. “But wait… To save that money, you have to already have that money, so it’s just moving money at certain times to ‘save’ it when you already had it.”

Since I’m not a numbers person, I budget with Mint which tells me my net each month of the past calendar year. See below: The green is income, the red is spending, and the black tumultuous line is my net. bargraph.png

I’m not super consistent, because income fluctuates, payments fluctuate (somewhere in there I paid off loans, woohoo!), and okay fine, Starbucks and Lularoe addiction fluctuates. But I used excel formulas to find the monthly net average/median (which is the best to track here? I don’t know!).

I’ll be testing if Qapital app helps me save more than my average or median. My average/median are both just over $1000. If I save more than that, I call this a possible success, while realizing there are a bunch of other factors that affect how much I’m saving. (I’m no scientist with a control case and laboratory or anything here… ) But it would be the start of an indicator.

If I don’t save more than that, it may have been a flop *for me to choose to use it in this way.* Note that doesn’t mean the app is a flop. My next option would be to automatically deposit my average into savings each month, and then only after that point do Qapital savings beyond that average.

 

How I’ll be saving through the Qapital app:

I set up two savings buckets in the app:

  1. Money for my book launch – I figure I’ll need some money for ads, giveaways, book launch party, something, though I don’t have details figured yet.
  2. General savings – because I should save money to just save money too of course.

 

I’ll be saving money for my book launch in relation to groceries & visits to Starbucks:

  1. If I spend less than $40/month at Starbucks, the remainder will go toward my book launch (so I’m incentivized to not go to Starbucks as often)
  2. Every time I buy Starbucks, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving even if I cave and go to Starbucks)
  3. Every time I buy groceries at Walmart, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving throughout the month regardless, just by living my life)

 

I’ll be saving money for just saving based on bigger rules:

  1. The 52-week rule reversed, meaning each week an amount goes into savings counting down from $52 the first week, $51 the next week, $50 the next, and so on through the year.
  2. The round-up rule, meaning every time I spend money, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar and the change put into savings.
  3. Plus, 1% of my income will automatically be deposited into savings.

 

We’ll see how this goes. I’ll update you in about 3 months on my experience. I may keep it the way it is or adjust depending on results. I could definitely move more into savings, but I want to start small and see how it goes.

 

How are you saving $$$?

Tell me your best tips and tricks to savings in the comments below. And if you used the Qapital app before, let me know your experience.

Want to try the Qapital app?

Use my referral link anywhere in this post and Qapital app will give us each $5

Want something more simple for saving?

My friend Kathryn is using the Qapital app in a set-it-and-forget-it way, because she’s all about the simple life. Check out her post and see if it’s something you’d want to try.

Exclusive Content, for the Creatives

When to hire a ghostwriter

This post is top secret content for my most raving fans. There are two ways to get in on the fun:

  1. An abridged version of any new post is sent to those who receive my posts by email. You can sign up for free at the very bottom of my webpage. 
  2. The all-access pass for the archives and any future exclusive posts is available to paying patrons for just $2/mo. You can sign up through the below link to Patreon.com/AmyLSauder
The only question is, which will you choose? 
This content is available exclusively to Patreon members at the time this content was posted. Become a patron to get exclusive content like this in the future.
for the Creatives

Sorry, but there’s no market for your idea…

Many artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers hear that there’s no market for their dream. It’s dire, folks, but here’s some hope for ya.

Psst! I heard that some odd sort of people prefer watching videos over reading articles. Super weird. But weird people are my type of people, so I made a video preview of this blogpost. Now you can go watch the great quirky awkwardness of me instead of reading my awkwardness in blogpost form. 

 

So I was walking through Barnes and Noble and stumbled across these books:

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They were on the shelves in the front, the money-maker shelves. You know what I’m talking about, the shelves that mean publishers have bought into this book, that have said “Yes, these will make money, put them prominently on display for all to see!” Those kind of books.

But these aren’t your typical money-maker books.

Exhibit A: poetry.

Let’s be real, I totally judge books by covers, and I bought “The princess saves herself in this one” without even opening it. But when I did open it, I found poetry. A story in poetry form.

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Poets are notorious examples of being told “there’s no market for your work.” When’s the last time you read poetry from a book? Probably high school. Poets are told they’ll only get interest on cutesy Instagram or Facebook images, and they’ll never get a publishing deal, and if they self-publish, they’ll never have any readers. Yet Amanda Lovelace, I don’t think she listened to that. At least not entirely. Because she wrote poetry and convinced probably an agent and a publisher that her work was worth front shelf placement at Barnes and Noble.

Exhibit B: Cartoon drawings with bad spelling, for adults not kids.

Like seriously, how do you pitch THAT to an agent or publisher? Got me! I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it on a blogpost.

It’s a book of cartoon drawings. An alien comes to earth to study humans, but the alien is bad at spelling and grammar so the book is full of cutesy misspellings, and the alien is actually befriending non-humans like rocks and animals and trees, but it’s insightful and philosophical into what actually makes us human. Oh yeah, it’s not a children’s book, it’s for grown-ups.

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Okay, I have no idea how he pitched it, probably better than me, but I’m just saying if your dream sounds crazy, you’re in good Barnes-and-Noble-front-shelf company.

 

The business guy top secret insight:

After posting that Facebook video about these books, my business school brother messaged something insightful.

I had mentioned that poets often hear stuff like, “Nobody buys poetry anymore, they only read it on cutesy Facebook or Instagram posts.” I had said these authors didn’t listen to that negativity.

My brother noted my claim isn’t quite correct. They did listen to that. They noticed where the audience was and went to it. Amanda Lovelace started on Tumblr before ever being published, and I heard that Jomny Sun was on Twitter before being published. They both went to their market to get their big break. You can find your market and build interest now, too.

There’s a step in the right direction for ya. Past the dreaming and onto a practical tip. This is why my bro will make the big bucks 😉

Exclusive Content, for the Creatives

The super simple way to build your creative community

This post is top secret content for my most raving fans. There are two ways to get in on the fun:

  1. An abridged version of any new post is sent to those who receive my posts by email. You can sign up for free at the very bottom of my webpage. 
  2. The all-access pass for the archives and any future exclusive posts is available to paying patrons for just $2/mo. You can sign up through the below link to Patreon.com/AmyLSauder
The only question is, which will you choose? 
This content is available exclusively to Patreon members at the time this content was posted. Become a patron to get exclusive content like this in the future.
for the Creatives, Musings

A little feedback can go a long way

Last week I shared the survey results for my quirky meta murder mystery book title. Maybe you want feedback but there’s no way you’ll hear from 50 people on a survey like I did (I asked thousands of people for that help.)

But I wanted to share that

I already thought I knew how the results would go before they ever happened.

Because before I created the survey, I asked a dozen people in a group and heard from about half of them. And the exact same results happened on a smaller scale – most liked “Memoir of a Murder” but for reasons that didn’t coincide with my story. Two people liked “I Know You Like a Murder” in a way that resonated with my story. And this response is like #lifegoals for a writer here:

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My friend Laura posted this – it wasn’t an analytical response as to all the reasons one title is superior to the other. It was an instinctive gut-level reaction, something that tugged at her that she couldn’t get out of her mind.

That’s what an author wants of a story, and I got that response just from the title. I had to pick that title! and as you saw from the survey results I posted last week, that reaction multiplied in the 50-ish people who responded there.

Mostly I just wanted to geek out and publicly squeal and gush over this comment, because let’s be real, it’s everything I hope my book will be <3

But let’s throw in a little encouragement inspiration for you too while we’re at it 🙂 If you’re not sure on a decision, just ask a small group of friends. But don’t just ask the multiple choice – ask why the choice they made and why not the other choices.

Then watch for the emotionally gripping response, not some logical reasoning. You’ve got your reader hooked when they respond from the heart instead of their head. You don’t want them to think “That’s smart,” you want them to think “I can’t let this go.”

for the Creatives, My Creative Projects

Sometimes you don’t need skill

In your creative pursuits, strive for excellence of course. “Study to show yourself approved.” Don’t put out rubbish and expect people to pay for it because it’s authentic and from the heart. Ech.

But also branch out. I’ve got a reasonable amount of skill in music and writing and arguably fashion – though not runway fashion, just artsy fun fashion 😉 What do I not have skill in? Visual arts and rhythm. My coordination is seriously lacking there.

Yet it’s okay to fumble and explore.

  • Last year I choreographed my own personal dance in the privacy of my home that will never be seen by anyone. Anyone.
  • I took a 30 minute drum lesson a few years ago.
  • I remember as a teen taking:
    • a pottery class
    • a cake decorating class
    • a sewing class
    • brief mandolin and harp lessons
    • I even tried acting in church plays

Just to try it out. (I have my parents to thank for opening me up to exploring new pursuits even if I sucked at them.) I always wanted to be good at everything, but let’s face it:

We can’t excel at everything. But we can still try.

The sketching class most stood out to me. The students who had been there awhile were sketching a self-portrait and I eagerly tried and failed. The teacher walked over belatedly and said something along the lines of, “No, that assignment is for the advanced students. You’re supposed to be drawing this grandfather clock.” She was not very happy. And neither was I. I “learned” that I cannot draw.

But I’ve been working on allowing myself to explore and enjoy visual arts even if I suck at them.

Last year I took an art journaling class.

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You don’t have to be good at something to put it in your journal.

I sporadically draw pictures in my journal, to make it visual. And it sucks, but that’s okay, because it’s for my eyes only. (Until last month when I lost my journal at Starbucks and they probably thought it belonged to a preschooler as they flipped through it for contact info….Don’t leave journals at Starbucks! But that’s another story.)

A couple months ago I did one of those painting classes that’s like an “Everybody can paint!” sorta deal. The difficulty level was low – he said an 8 year old did the same painting and it looked great. But on my painting the dancer’s legs were excruciating and I finally had a friend help fix them (but all horrible awkward legness is my fault…)

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Most notably though, the colors I picked out makes it look like a taco dancer, let’s be real. Just flip it upside down and it’s a taco bowl…. see?

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Now I’m hungry.

But the point is, dabble. It might be bad, but it’s fun and it’s stretching those creative muscles.

About that time I was deluded and teeny-handed with an atrocious wardrobe…

There once was a time I was bad at writing – and worse, I thought I was good. There once was a time that the piano teacher wouldn’t let me learn to play piano because my hands were too small and my fingers lay flat on the keys. I used to wear drab or terrifyingly horrible clothes, embarrassingly so, and say I didn’t care about what I wore and maybe I didn’t. How naive. But I got back on those horses and I’m basicly a cowgirl now 😉

So, dabble. I guess that’s all I’m saying. Also, look at all the proof I’m not good at everything! *gestures wildly in every direction* 🙂

And finally, to all the hypothetical naysayers out there – “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

for the Bookworms, for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Why I wanna be like Ksenia Anske when I writerly grow up

Although, let’s be real: Ksenia and I don’t plan on actually growing up in our writerly lives. It’s more like staying daydreaming children forever, but then pretending to be grown-up long enough to do the business stuff.

I don’t remember how I discovered Ksenia. But I do remember what stuck in my mind about her:

  • She said, “Reader, you are my publisher. Share my books.”
  • She gave away her books for free, as in all of her older drafts of her story were publicly available to read (maybe still are) and you can even still download her stories for free.

Why did that grab my attention? She saw the value of her readers. That readers are what make or break a story. That’s what I want my philosophy to stay forever.

And she has a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. Those are artistic buzzwords right now, but they ring true. Artists can tend to want to hoard their ideas, their best work for themselves, as if there’s a finite capacity. But we need a mindset of abundance, that we can throw it all out there and celebrate others successes too, because creativity is infinite.

Why else do I want to be like Ksenia Anske “when I grow up”?

  • Curly haired people goals!
  • Quirky personality
  • You are getting to know the person through every online engagement.
  • She is authentic – what she’s learning, what she’s done wrong, it’s all out there. You’re following the journey, the person, not just book sales promos.
  • She’s always learning and sharing what she learns. I’m sure paying attention.
  • She’s not afraid to work out of the box, experiment.
  • It all comes back to her READERS! They support her because she supports them. She listens to their feedback and engages with them.
  • Need proof? Anyone who read her last email newsletter, she requested their address and she sent them a card with a personalized short story.
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the story Ksenia sent me
  • Note the above bullet point also goes back to the concept of abundance rather than scarcity. She didn’t freak that she wouldn’t have enough stories in her for each person or that she wouldn’t be able to send cards to her readers because of the expense. She just said she’d do it, then she did it.
  • okay, I’m losing track of what these bullet points are for and when to use bullet points and when to not….
  • Switch gears!

I’ve read two books of hers:

  1. Rosehead. Magical realism at its finest. If you want a quirky read about a girl and her talking dog and a carnivorous garden, this is it! Everyone’s been looking for a book about a carnivorous garden, right? 🙂

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  2. Blue Sparrow. A collection of tweets on writing, reading, and the creative life. Motivational, inspirational, even instructional (mostly “KEEP WRITING!”). My favorite detail would be that it’s 140 pages long, with 140 tweets. Like an inside joke for us Twitter users 🙂 And to whet your appetite, check out a couple of the tweets:

 

So now you know what I’m working towards. Quirky writing. Lovable hair. Personable interaction. Perspective of abundance. And reader centered. Check out Ksenia’s work for yourself….you won’t regret it!

for the Creatives, Musings

The blehhhhhhh of plan B

Plan A was to write this blogpost about Plan B. Then my boyfriend said, “Not like going to the pharmacy for Plan B?” and then Plan B was to preface this blogpost with this paragraph. No, it has nothing to do with pharmacy plan B! Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up…..

Plan A was to call this post “The Beauty of Plan B” and it’d be like that inspirational basic chick type post. Plus there’s the alliteration of “The Beauty of Plan B.” It flows off the tongue so nicely.

But Plan B doesn’t flow so nicely. It’s more like “The Blehhhh of Plan B.” It’s inconvenient. It forces ya into going its direction when Plan A was all meadows of daisies, and Plan B is a little prickly and a little messy.

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Two roads diverged and I….I was incessantly pushed away from the road less traveled and fell into this second path that just wasn’t it, grrrr, why can’t I just go this epic less-traveled dream life way?!?

Oops, end rant.

But seriously, I am the poster child of Plan B.

    • I was going to teach English until I realized I didn’t want to teach in a structured classroom setting, so I dropped the Education part of my degree and landed with an English Lit degree. What am I to do with that, right?! I didn’t know either, I just knew I liked what I was learning.
    • At the last minute, I decided that Amy’s Big Plan for Her Life was to become a copyeditor at a fiction publishing company to support  writing on the side. In case you missed the memo, full-time writer isn’t an instantaneous career and the publishing industry isn’t exactly prevalent in central IL. I fell into – would ya know it – teaching.
    • And I fell in love with that job – Youth Education Specialist at the Red Cross – until that job ceased to exist and I had to reevaluate my life. And I fell into the role of Executive Assistant, where I loved the people and certain aspects of the job, but I still heard the writerly life calling. I was tinkering with my novel with what spare energy I had and searching job sites for a copyeditor position at a fiction publishing company.
    • I vowed for years that I wouldn’t get swept up into this local Christian job vortex called Samaritan Ministries. I had a number of friends working there that every time the above plan A’s didn’t pan out, they’d tell me I should apply for a job at Samaritan. But noooo, that’s not a fiction publishing company copyeditor job. I wasn’t gonna “settle” for “less” than my dream. But I was also feeling stuck. I just wanted to be writing and editing and be paid for it. And so I fell into Plan B – copywriting and copyediting for Samaritan, a Christian approach to health care. Not quite fiction publishing, but at least I got the first half of my dream job description right 😉
    • and that’s where I am now. And it’s good. I like it. In fact, I got paid to write an article, so it’s a great start.

    UntitledPlan B is a little frustrating. The pharmacy kind and the life trajectory kind. It’s not The Plan, but it just keeps coming up anyway. Sometimes destiny knows what it’s doing though. It might be a little like Kuzco’s trip instead of like Izma’s, but don’t we all wanna be the pseudo-good guy anyway?

    I’m not saying let’s do Plan B forever. I’m just saying let’s try to enjoy the detour a bit. Maybe relax on the trek with Pacha while trying to avoid being murdered, maybe enjoy the weirdness of being a llama and try not to eat the disgusting bug but enjoy the fun disguises. That sorta thing 😉

for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Guest Post: How Ghostwriting is Hurting the Book World

Olivia J has agreed to share her concerns about ghostwriting here, and you can check out my defense of ghostwriting on her site. What a fun collaboration <3 Read the posts, then join the convo 🙂

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” -Anais Nin
 
The picture that started it all:
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This launched me and Amy L Sauder into a debate on ghostwriters, so here we are. 

Ghostwriting, or, more generally, ghosting, is not a new concept in the art world. Even Mozart himself was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthier, more famous men of his time. This process involves Person A creating a work, or even doing a varying amount of collaborating on a work with Person B, but then Person B getting credit. Sometimes this includes Person A’s name in smaller print on the front of the book, or not being included at all. Regardless, ghostwriters are paid for their work.

However, I have some criticisms, as per usual.

(For clarity, I’m going to be talking about ghostwriting concerning books.)

1. Exploitation of the Ghostwriter

Sure, ghostwriters consent to what they are doing. However, it still takes an amount of . . . castration to get very little or no credit on something you worked on. It strips away the integrity of the author. By no means am I talking about truly collaborative works, where two authors write a book together because that’s an entirely different process than ghostwriting. 

How ghostwriting exploits the author is that it takes away the beautiful creative control of the author: it strips the author of what they do best. By having a shadow, by having someone to always answer to, this confines the author. It confines the author even further because these authors sign contracts to write so many books for someone, or to have certain requirements when they write. There’s nothing more hellish that I can think of than putting a cap on the creativity of writing, by controlling and stifling an author. 

Don’t get me wrong, ghostwriting can be a way to launch the author into the publishing sphere, but rarely do I believe that that’s all an author should aspire to be. 

2. All About The Money

The problem is that by slapping a popular name on the cover, it appeals to the pervasive consumerism and fame obsession in this society. By having ghostwriters, it allows famous people to sell books, regardless of whether they are telling good stories. It only adds to the tasteless, bland array of fiction. James Patterson has so many books out because people pick the book up with his name on it and expect the same thing. Name recognition or fame should not sell books, even though publishing has become a toxic industry. 

FullSizeRender (10)The reason that authors like Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, etc. use ghostwriters is because of the high demand for their books. Or, rather, the types of stories they tell. This only indicates that these books sell because they have their names on them, not because of the title, cover art, or actual content inside, which is absolutely despicable. The promotion of ghostwriters only promotes writing as a business, not an art form. There should be a happy medium between the business of bookselling and writing as an art, but ghostwriters are not the way to achieve that goal. In fact, ghostwriters only push the flow further into the toxic business sphere. 

3. Cheapening of the Craft

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Sure, everyone can write a book, but maybe not well. This is not to discourage anyone from writing a book if they so please. But what ghostwriting does is that it cuts out a significant chunk of the struggle, the art of writing. 

People like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Zoe Sugg, and other celebrities don’t write a significant chunk of their books; however, they can still claim to be an author of a book. It takes all of the blood, sweat, and tears out of writing. Every ounce of pain, of late nights you’ve spent writing, every blank page, every scrapped draft all becomes for naught because someone who only pitched some ideas for a book is now credited as an author. 

Another problem is that celebrity (fiction) books combine two types of people: writers and non-writers, and this can create disastrous results. Sometimes, what the celebrity/non-writer wants to create or wants to happen isn’t exactly good concerning the objective parts of fiction. This leads to books on the shelves that aren’t the best they can be. Art should always be about making the best the individual can get, always improving. But by allowing half-assed work on the shelves just for money only cheapens writing itself. 

By allowing ghostwriting to populate the scene, it almost degrades the hard work and art that others create, just because someone had enough money.

~

Granted, there are exceptions. Autobiographies are one, because biographies are more of a historical account than a creative work. Biographies, and other nonfiction, don’t conform to the same genre conventions that art or novels do, which is where the problems arise with ghostwriters and books. 

Maybe I would consider ghostwriting, just for the money. But never, under any circumstances, would I make that my career or the only creative work I was writing.

Tread lightly, fellow authors,

~The WordShaker


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Olivia J, The WordShaker is just that: a word shaker. She is a writer, artist, creative extraordinaire, and skilled in the ways of procrastination and being too blunt. She’s going to be a loving wife, mother, published author, speaker, and professional adventurer someday – and whatever else God has in store for her. Olivia has had three short stories published in her high school’s writing journal, and received merit awards for her art in numerous art shows, started and fosters her own creative writing club at her high school, and plans to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @olivia.j.the.wordshaker

How awesome is this Wordshaker!? 🙂 What do you think about ghostwriting? Does it add or detract to the literary world? Check out my Defense of Ghostwriting on her site (don’t forget to follow her while you’re at it!), then join the convo in the comments below.