Why My Side Hustles Fail.

I’ve been doing a lot of deep analysis after some rounds of advertising in different ways. And we all know that looking deep into my statistics usually hurts my feelings but, if I’m gonna do this indie shit it is my job to do it.

So let’s get into it. My official FB author page.  My Amazon page where you can buy some stories and a couple of little collections (new one coming soon). Also note, the FB page will be where I do a LOT of my sharing and stuff. So for real it is best to follow there for the most up to date info.

Let’s talk about the performance of some things.

First thing. The general trend I see through analyzing both engagement with and action on things I share across social media (counting tweeter, tumblr, fb all in I have about 5-6k followers across all the platforms) is that I get shares and clicks when I share other folks work.

Now, I don’t grudge the other folks because I love them and want to share their work. I share things I care about. The part of the trend that bugs me is when a large number of those shares of other folks work, come from people I know rather than rando followers. I actually had a sample group and ALL of their interaction with things I’ve shared has only been the work of other people and was heavily skewed towards white women.

The subject matter also matters. I will get shares if I post something where I am exposing my own racial pain, performing poverty by ranting about my cash situation (however it doesn’t translate into action but we’ll get there) or if I’m just being my ain’t shit self and saying something shady.

Those stats are mainly from my actual following.

When it comes to randos, I see more interaction, more shares, of my work. My little kindle books, my Ko Fi.

These are two groups of people responding to the same marketing shits. The call to action, my pleases and thank yous.

Looking deeper at my FB page stats, the trend I’ve talked about for the last decade is made very very clear.

Like a lot of other Black women and femmes, when I ask for action directly folks don’t wanna do so in public. In private I’ve had many offers of boosts, help, sales etc and the numbers don’t lie that it doesn’t happen.

There is no outright public refusal which would be easier to deal with. This constant factor in my life (and the lives of MANY in my community) baffles some of my friends. When I’ve told them stats on things they are boggled.

For instance, my most read public piece (I won’t link to it right now) this year so far involves very deep racial pain. It has the most shares, the most reads. That one thing, flawed as it is has more reads and shares than everything else I’ve put out this year. From that one piece I’ve gotten DMs and notes from folks holding out the offers of whatever I need. Support etc and none of it has materialized.

Now I look at twitter and the most staunch advice I’ve got about using it as part of my publicity/marketing is the imperative ask to RT. On average, I have to RT myself and ask 3 times to get on the whole about 2.8 (some weird number close to this) shares.

The more interesting thing about tweeter is this. When someone who isn’t me or who doesn’t use my name shares something I’ve done, even if they have a significantly smaller following than I do, RTs galore. Clicks. Sometimes sales.

I’ve also seen this happen on FB.

Now let’s talk supporters. My most staunch and constant source of sales has been the folks with the least. The marginalized folks. The other poor people I know. Not the privileged folks I know. There are a few but I’ve also seen the issue of when they tag me or mention my name, that post goes silent. I watched it happen with a friend who is way more famous than me. Their posts generally get HUNDREDS of reactions, the one with me got about 10 and no comments and no shares.

My friend Dom said this the other day and it really strikes at the heart of my continued failed creative hustles:

When people offer help publicly on social media, yet don’t follow through, it gives the appearance that a person has support, when they really don’t.

This isn’t about one person or incident. It’s happened so much, for many complex reasons, and surely happens to others too. It’s just sad that this stops people from getting care they need.

Bolding mine.

I think what Dom is saying here is a large part of my ongoing problems with getting my work seen. A lot of the time if I mention I’m working on something, a good number of folks will be HYPE about it and saying they will share it. But, when the thing happens crickets.

I’ve tried a few methods of doing this. Returning to the original thread(s) to post the link, doing the random FB tricks and well…meh.

One of the things I am very conscientious about is giving folks options. If you follow me on FB or tweeter, you know that I am very specific about the actions that are helpful.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I have an entire community of folks like me who have this same problem. Folks (especially more privileged people) LOVE to get all in our stuff cheering for us. And yet, when we ask specifically for what we need, well…..

All this said.

If you are in a position where you can’t drop a couple of bucks on a book or magazine etc, you can still do the work to support the artists you care about. That is what I do. I share links when asked when I can. I pay attention. Right now, I’m stoked to say that my Patreon is “successful” enough that I am supporting three other folks. Not much but it means a lot.

I also want to be very clear.

I’ve been told that me talking about these things in this way is “excuses” and “negative”. Look. If you really believe that, I got nothing for you. The only way that the going advice will EVER work is if all things are equal. And they are absolutely not.

I also want to say that I am very grateful for my ride or die magical space babes. Y’all know who you are.

I am not alone in this. My community suffers from this. Folks tell us how much they want to see us do X thing but do nothing to help us get that thing done. I watch a lot of my community rage out about it because it is fucking hard. A lot of us don’t get action unless we’re doing long ass twitter rants about how broke and scared we are. Or we rant about these issues and get some pity likes.

It is exhausting.

However, I’m gonna keep doing me. I guess. I have reservations but, I gotta do the shit I do.

Dassit.

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Can’t Have Analysis without Anal.

HI BABES!

Welcome to 20 goddamn 19. I typed 20 goddamn 49 at first and almost left it, so, yanno.

So what’s good 2019?

So far, I’ve been doing a lot of heavy emotional lifting for myself and my work. I made some decisions. I’ve been writing like a mother fucker.

I’ve decided to embark on a really difficult and scary thing that I’m not ready to formally announce. It has to do with a lot of the statistical data and whatnot I’ve been talking about for the last few months. If you subscribe to my loveletter you’ll see this bit later but this is really important:

Medium- I made $45.56 for the year of 2018. I generally had/have 10-15 pieces available. My least popular piece there was this one (free read link, clap if you want) The How to Learn to Write Non fiction piece.

TOTAL VIEWS
37
READ RATIO

32%
LIFETIME EARNINGS

$0

My most profitable pieces with an average of about 300 or so claps were the ones where I bled on the page about racism. I don’t really know what to say about that. It isn’t new but it is, disheartening if I’m going to be real with y’all.

The last piece where I bled on the page was this one, here is a bit of it.

Last night, I was reminded again of the ways in which I am not allowed to be human. The things I risk when I have the audacity to not be silent and invisible. I know what could have happened.

I’ve looked at long term stats on my work in various venues. OVer the last let’s say about 5 years or so, the more something hurts me to write, the more exposure it gets. For a long time I thought this would lead to the big $$ but, it doesn’t. Not for me. What I’ve experienced is often privately, editors and other folks with the keys to the cash, love me. They tell me how much they’ve learned from my work, they tell me how strong and powerful I am.

The people I know (mostly white let’s be real) with the connections and power to open those doors for me, don’t. There are always reasons. An editor not long ago asked me privately to pitch her something timely in response to the Magahat Babyracist Jr debacle. I worked up a short thing, real fast. And it was another instance of yes that but not like that.

I’m tired of that y’alls.

This is why freelancing burnt me so badly. I get it. I do. Most of these folks readership are not ready for this particular negro. Understanding it makes it no less exhausting.

I have also learned through these years of anal…err analysis that my audience, my ride or die folks *insert fourth wall break within a fourth wall break here* want what I got.

I’m working on it. I’m adjusting my focus so I can empower myself to write what the fuck i want to write, and dispense it how I wanna.

One of the things I’ve learned from my beloved Milcah is that my audience, y’all don’t like my work because I give it 40% you know? The people who are into it, are into it because I am who I am. I forget that a lot.

Those months of ghosted pitches and weird rejections really got in my head. It called up years of shitty criticisms and bullshit.

I’m better.

SO what am I doing that I can tell y’all about?

Right now, I am working on my biggest and most enjoyable sensitivity read job to date. I am loving the job so much and it is legit. And huge. And fuck y’all I feel DEEPLY honored to be trusted with this work. That said, I won’t be accepting another one until at least April.

Patreon is humming along. We’re getting really close to closing out Cycle 2 and debuting cycle 3. Here is a taste of Cycle 2:

Nanita came back and sat down, wiggling in her chair and doing a little dance. He chuckled, she’d done that since she was a fat baby wiggling in her high chair and crooning to her mashed potatoes.

“Oh, I was thinking about eating this. I’m so glad you’re home. Do you want to go to the swamp with me tomorrow night?”

“Sure. What are we gonna do?”

She sprinkled hot sauce in her rice and thought about it while she stirred.

“Um, I don’t really know yet. I just got a feeling to go. I dunno, it’s like I can hear it. I asked Mama about it but she didn’t really know what I was talking about. Well, she kinda did but you know the swamp makes her nervous. She acts like it doesn’t but if it’s nighttime, she kind of hates it.”

He nodded.

“I know. I’ll be home a while. We got things to do.”

“What kinda things Daddy?”

He dropped his voice to a raspy bass.

“Man things.”

She giggled and tried to copy him.

“Man things, fo sho.”

They ate and giggled together. The moon rose outside and they both looked up through the window at it. Their eyes glazed, the moon tickled their blood and spoke to their bones. Through Tinny’s blood there was a link to moon magic. Not the usual menstrual, fertility magic that runs through many bloodlines. This tie was a line to something other, the magic was almost like something alien.

Both of them sat, stupefied with their fingers and toes tingling. Their eyes fixed and in the light turning a burnished silver. Anyone watching would have seen the light flash between them, a circuit completed. Nanita would not remember. As with so many of her gifts, as she came of age many were asserting themselves in her but, her body and brain were not ready to fully see them. Tinny would remember. It had only happened one time before with his beloved Maman Aprille.

I’ve been writing some other fiction. Not much because it is hard to do with no computer

On the computer front, I’ve got a Dell 5000 series picked out and a corporate discount ready to use. I’m super close to being able to pay for it so I should be up and running by February.

Given that my personal life has been a shit sandwhich of late, I’m getting my shit together piece by piece.

AND to end, a new/old poem. I performed this at Margin Shift’s litcrawl event last October. Enjoy.

A Real Round Up

HEY.

So I’ve decided to do a whole ass second but better year end wrap up for my writing shits this year.

First check this shit out in another window. I minor tweet stormed about my work this year.

All righty then.

I realized as I was doing those tweets that, this year has been pretty lit.

I was feeling pretty down about the failures of the year. None of my side hustles really worked out.

I made less than 50$ with both Etsy and medium and that really sucks. I mean, it hurts me on so many levels.

That said.

I wrote like a mother fucker and wrote exactly what the fuck I wanted when I wanted. I finally fully divested myself from trying to be a freelance super earner. Like there are literally two editors I will pitch to and dassit.

I learned that finally, I can say I’m okay with being unable to financially sustain my creative life. It sucks but I can’t force folks to do shit.

All I can do is do what I do.

I was really feeling like, all this, all the angst and crying and stress just made me the worst.

I dunno y’all. I may not be able to like, pay bills with the words but fuck I write like a mother fucker regardless.

So what is happening in 2019?

I’m making moves.

Patreon stuff is happening, I’ve got a lot of plans.

I’ve also realized that part of what has freed me to write the way I have been this year is that, I’ve been learning to accept some things that are real for me.

  1. My obscurity frees me. I have a job that basically sort of pays the bills. So, I don’t have to eat shit when I freelance. I can say no and I have learned to say no. I had a piece that was commissioned and was a pretty good payday. After realizing that the editor and I were quite far apart on what we wanted. I let it go and put it on Medium.
  2. Speaking of Medium. The other edge of my obscurity is that, regardless of what folks say, 80% of my audience refuses to give my work material support. Folks don’t share, don’t clap on medium etc etc. I don’t know why. Some folks tell me to trust my community to come through and, well frankly most of the time they don’t. It hurts but whatever.
  3. I AM going to write the shit anyway. I’ve tried to stop but nah son.
  4. I am allowed to work this out however the fuck I need to.

Those things have led me into some stuff I’m VERY excited about and will share with y’all soon.

Overall 2018 beat the dog shit out of me. I wrote some of my best shit and it was lowkey sorta okay.

NOW. Over at medium behind the paywall but this is the friend link. A lesson on how I learned to write non-fiction.

WIPS, brains n things.

Oh HAY BOO HAY.

Few bits of biz first.

Current submissions:

1 languishing poetry submission. I’m pretty sure is a no.

2 Ghosted pitches so also probs nopes.

1 short fiction sub out.

What else?

Y’all remember me yammering about writing classes? WELP I’ve launched it on Patreon and here is how it is workin. If you are a patron, you get it exclusively for a month and then I post it up on Etsy. The first one about writing horror is available now. AND if you drop it in your cart, leave and check your etsy email there’s a fatass coupon too so you can get a few bits from the shop.

Also I finally finished (behind the medum paywall. Feel free to clap etc, help me buy a coffee) my little thing about how my book Gasoline Heart was born. it isn’t quite what I wanted but works.

I also got interviewed about some witch shit by one of my fave folks MIsha over at Patheos. If you are into witch shit, you should Misha .

I’ve got some some other behind the paywall stuff at Medium. Last month with I think about 24 pieces I made $9.85.

What else?

Yers truly has been writing like a mother fucker and playing with new to me shit.

First new to me, I’m dabbling in some New England Folk Horror without a focus on white folks. Harder than it seems. Here is a bite:

She was always like that to me. Spooky. The same way seeing a single deer alone in the morning is spooky. The way she would stand so still, it was easy to not quite see her. Even her posture in those moments was, strangely graceful. Her back was straight, heels planted on the floor and there would be a moment where her body would tilt forward slightly and her head would tilt upwards as if being pulled on a string.  I always figured it for one of those bodily tics we all have and that, was what I loved about her so much.

I’ve got a major plan with this piece and I’m fucking with established lore like I do. I’m enjoying putting it together.

Next thing.

Yesterday, I also apparently started a werewolf story. I dunno what it wants to be. Aside from maybe kinda porny.

“And you got me chicken? I’ll get a pitcher of beer since you’re being all traditional with the gifts and whatnot. If you sniff my butt I’ll lay you out.”

Unable to resist he gave her his best puppy eyes.

“Maybe later?”

She cackled, mouth wide open her big black eyes twinkling.

“Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash Sue. “

Regardless of the seriousness of the problem he’d sought her out to help, it felt good to have that kind of easy banter with another wolf. Once the chicken arrived Latisha ordered the promised pitcher and they both tucked napkins into their collars and went to work in companionable quiet.

What am I reading?

I happen to be reading two books, very different from each other and both blurbed by one of my fave people, Mr. Jerry Stahl. 

First up I was delighted to get an Arc of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption by Joe Clifford. If you’ve been here a while y’all know I fuckin love me some Joe. It has a new forward and it is really a gorgeous book. I’m almost done with read #2 so y’all will get a full review soon.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. Y’all. This mother fucker right here. So I reviewed his other book a while back. AND THEN he had the nerve to release a new book. I’m about a quarter of the way in and y’all…goddamn. Just buy it.

What else is happenin?

I’m trying not to be essaying right now because my brainmeat only wants to do the shit that hurts and I’m just not in the mood to bleed. At least not that kind of blood yanno?

If you are doing Nanowrimo or nano anything. GO GO GO GO.

Whatever you’re up to.

Wreck that shit y’alls!

When I am Too Much

Recently, I had an essay published in one of my bucketlist magazines. See it here at The Offing. I have a story to tell y’all about publishing and what happens when you are in fact too much.

That essay came about because I was contacted by an editor I am familiar with and they asked if I could do a piece about race and gender. The first version of this essay was more dry. It lacked flavor to me and I felt like I was trying to engage too many things when this story was very enclosed to me. The original version had lukewarm feedback and the editor wanted more.

I did this version and to me this is it. I’ve been experimenting with trying to place more literary styled essays in not lit mags specifically. A successful example of that is here at Wear Your Voice.

Editor #1 had reservations. Some of their feedback:

  • I lead with fear of death as a Black Man
  • I refer to my masculine gender expression with a personified phrase “the boy”.

However, the most tap danced around feedback came down to the fact that this work doesn’t engage with gender in the way that they wanted. They wanted Sassy Black Queen and got Terrified Black Femme. The suggested edits stripped specific mention of Blackness to turn it into a #metoo piece without the connective tissue.

A story that is not mine.

I decided not to go further with that editor because the story they wanted was a pastel version of my story with a rainbow on it and not a memory and meditation on a real fear in my life.

I shopped the piece as it appears at The Offing around for a while. Most responses were lukewarm and boiled down to, yes this but not like this.

Much of the feedback was tentative and trying very hard not to say, this is way too Black while saying, this is way too Black. One editor said that they didn’t think it was broad enough. For a memoir based issue of a magazine. I read broad as relatable to White folks and I noped out. The feedback was never about the quality of the piece. Every editor said the work was solid, it was always related to my expression of Gender, Blackness and fear.

The problem here is this. If you are not a marginalized person and you are seeking work from marginalized people, insisting on “broader relatability” backfires. You won’t get authentic work. You won’t get the best work. If you can’t engage with things that aren’t strictly uplift, either mention it up front or don’t seek the work.

This is the same problem I talked about in this entry,  When in the Wear Your Voice piece I talk about being denied humanity, this is what I am talking about. I am talking about the idea that work from marginalized people must be palatable to whiteness is to deny us our humanity. When folks insist that, my story about gender expression and sexual harassment end on a more chipper note, that is a denial of what actually happened.

To demand this shiny version of someone, the happy ending, the creator is turned into a 2d version of themselves and that is erasure and it feels shitty. You can’t ask for the realness of talking about identity, and then say, no not like that. It just don’t work.

Back to the piece at the Offing. Chanda specifically told me they loved it and it made me cry. I’d put it on Etsy for a minute because y’all know that’s how I do. If I can’t sell a piece to a magazine I’ll do that. Or put it on Medium etc. Or tuck it away for later. Here’s the thing.

My experience with gender expression isn’t theirs and yet, they still enjoyed the work. I’ve heard from readers who are White cis folks who felt something and enjoyed the work. Some folks who read the piece thinking it would just be a nice read because they are not Black Femmes and found some part of themselves in the work.

And it is, what it is.

A note for editors.

If you want to feature or highlight marginalized folks, take what they give you. Don’t try and plasticize it or tone it down or make it nice for non marginalized folks to read. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to let your readership be uncomfortable because, isn’t that what art is.

That’s it for now.

 

Hustleverse and Art and Shit.

OOOKAY y’alls.

I’m on my hustle and we got THINGS HAPPENIN.

Let’s start with some evil empire (amazon) links.

An older book of mine I put together as part of my beginning idea of showing how the sausage is made is Wayward WordsI transcribed things out my notebooks, some flash pieces and poems. I talked a bit about them. It’s a little thing you can read on your Kindle app and enjoy for a little bit.

Next up, I was in Thuglit Issue #5 and that was a fave story I’ve done. I’ve really enjoyed running around in crime fiction and the whole issue is pretty solid.

Want something a little racier? I was in an issue of Infernal Ink with some pyro crime erotica. Get U SOME!

Full disclosure about my amazon links. I get a few cents on clicks and buys. They discontinued their store program so I will be making a page of book recs with said links. Yes I know terrible however, bitches gotta eat.

Now some more direct stuff.

These links will give me more cash in hand.

I’ve reopened my Etsy Store. I’ve included a brand new Etsy exclusive essay. I’ve reopened Etsy to get ready to list some handmade shawls and I’m pretty excited.

I’m also still fundraising. We’ve got almost 1400$ all in for lingering move related bills and staying alive. I hate it but, we gotta stay alive.

If you’re a paid Medium member. I put a new thing behind the paywall. Claps are free y’all know. Also, if you’re paid and like what I’m doing, throw some claps on other pieces.

I’ve also got some free stuff happening.

Read about why, yes the fuck I will unfriend over politics. And appropriate to this post, a little thing about Making a Difference.

Something that I believe in is, helping folks on a small scale. We can’t all be the viral helpers and sometimes, the best route is to just help folks stay alive.

Can’t buy? Totally okay. Share links. Tell your friends that you have a homie in need who has a variety of ways to provide support.

Show up.

If you don’t want to do that stuff, I got tip jars too.

https://www.paypal.me/WordsnThings

https://cash.me/$weebeasty

https://venmo.com/Shannon-Barber-5

Later this week, I’ll be posting up some new free to read stuff about writing. Follow me at Medium for that. Want a loveletter to your creative heart? Subscribe here and get a tiny vacation weekly from the trashfire world.

Updates, Books and readings.

First up let’s talk about the books I’ve been reading. Yes Evil Empire affiliate links ahead.

BOOKS Y’ALLS!

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi. AHEM. Y’all. I will do a full dorktastic review after a reread but um. OKAY> AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSHIT SON. If I’m gonna be fancy, this is the Diasporic Dream of Baby Potato me. If I’d had this book at a crucial point in my youth, I probably wouldn’t have given up all magical type literature for more than a decade. A complaint I’ve seen around is that it isn’t a complex plot etc and I think that is misguided. This is a book intended for teen readers so, adult epic fantasy lovers probably won’t like it. That said, I love this book. The magical systems, the world building, the evolution of the characters AND I HAPPEN TO KNOW THE NEXT ONE IS ON DECK. A really wonderful read, if you’re Black and know smol Black humans who like magic, get on this.

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. I’m on my reread of this book so I can do a review and y’all. I think someone gave me a copy of this book and said, read this you’ll like it. I do like it. Gabino has a gift for coming out swinging and the pace is not fast but it feels relentless. It is dark and violent and there is grace in his characters. If you like it dark and violent and pretty, read it. Bigger review soonish. ALSO check out his work in a fave magazine of mine, Shotgun Honey.

Other book news I’m hype about. Y’all know I love me some Joe Clifford and I happen to know that his book Junkie Love has a fancy new print coming up in Sept with a whole new forward by another of my beloved writers Jerry Stahl WHO also blurbed Gabino’s book. I’m really hype for that.

What’s good lit world?

I’ve been reading some great stuff. I’ve made a habit of checking tweeter in the morning and y’alls I know so many fucking great writers.

Go read this by Kristin Chang in the Offing. It is so beautiful and just…I made a velociraptor noise while reading because WOW.

My friend Chiwan Choi wrote this and holy fuck it is beautiful. If you meet him, go to one of his events or just see him on the street you should buy him some cookies immediately.

Podcaster and all round bad ass homie Nia Levy King is running a fundraiser and please check it out. Donate, share it. These books are so important. This is vital work.

Y’all know that one of the few places I feel good about freelancing at is Wear Your Voice Magazine. My last piece there is one of the best I’ve written and they need help. Indie media is so important so again, check out their Patreon and if you can’t support, please for real y’all share the links.

Let me take a break here to say again.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t contribute financially. SHARE THE GODDAMN LINKS. It is free. It takes two seconds and if you knoiw 2k more people, or different people than I know, that is more eyes, more eyes means more opportunities for support so get on it.

What have I been doing?

WELL I have been a busy wee beast. I poeted at an event last night and it was really nice. I read at an event called Margin Shift and Y’ALLS! A thing happened for the first time. TWO PEOPLE there had seen me read previously. And said so. Also I talked to other writers/people about my work and stuff and didn’t pee myself or faint.

I sold some books, folks enjoyed the reading a lot. Overall it was on the way better end of reading in Seattle. I’ll write more about that later.

I had this wee witch poem published over at Yes, Poetry.

I’ve been using Medium as a bit of a clearing house of sorts for stuff I have in drafts, stuff living on my phone. Funnily enough. Now that I’m not doing any paid content, both engagement and readership has gone up. In March/April when I wasn’t really posting I had about 400 reads. Posting a few times a month, my reads are in the thousands.

So it holds up my point that a LOT OF PEOPLE including those who already pay for Medium don’t give a fuck about tossing me a few coins.

Sooo new stuff over there. Including a lil screed on how yes the fuck I will unfriend people over politics and I ain’t ashamed.

OH also earlier in the week I posted up a little essayish thing and free bite of the Daiyuverse. Go visit Bayou Cane, meet the St. Pierre family and get you some free shit to read today.

Last thing, as a way to encourage myself to do more digital arts, I opened a red bubble shop with a few prints. More are coming.

OH ONE MORE THING. Come sign up for my loveletter. It was a newsletter but mostly I talk about being a creative person, struggles, fun shit, tell you how much I love you. No spams. All ham. Loveletter link was busted and is all fixed up.

Dassit for now.