Ay listen.

Hi babes.

Can we talk about some shit I’ve been learning lately?

First thing I’ve not learned but we’ll say that has been reinforced to me is that, a lot of general promotional advice is woefully out of date. It doesn’t account how a lot of us have our links on platforms like FB throttled so hard, even our “close” friends don’t see them.

So I kinda am trying to make a deeper peace with that. I’m working on it.

The other thing is that, I’ve noticed that even with me taking pains to reduce how much stuff I give away, I STILL don’t really generate things that are buyable by my general audience across a few platforms. How do I know?

Medium for instance. I currently have 19 pieces behind the paywall, a good variety of type of content. Here in 2019 I’ve made less than a dollar. I mean…my read ratio regardless of topic or length is under 2 out of 10. Then of course when I can read stuff on medium, I see a LOT of bullshit that makes hundreds of dollars likely.

It makes me tired.

I’ve been using KoFi for almost a month exactly and have three things to read. One poem, two essay type things. And goose eggs.

I talked about it on my main fb account a while back. And funnily enough when I said, don’t blow smoke up my ass if you’re not going to at the very least share, my share rate went from few to literally 2-4. And so did engagement.

So really, I’ve learned that the call to action, the asking my community for help etc etc. Ain’t for me. I’ve tried. I’ve modified my tone, I’ve changed what I’m giving, etc. I think I can make some peace with that. Silence and inaction says volumes. More so when the folks who do the share because they don’t have $$ to support, are literally the same 4-6 people it has been for a decade. That’s my real audience. They are the real Gs and I’m not talking about them.

What else?

In terms of Gasoline Heart here’s some interesting things. (NOTE TO SELF ASK PUBLISHER FOR NEW BOX O BOOKS) Some of the folks who’ve read it, really loved it. one of the things I’ve seen in several reviews are along the lines of, HOW DID I MISS THIS/THE WORLD MISS IT?

Easily. SO the above issues. I mean, a few people (the book has been out for a while now) who’ve known me for a long time have said, I didn’t see X links. Sorta believable. Also I am not represented, I am not a darling, I am not very famous or really even connected in the poetry world. So yeah, you won’t find my lil book in lists and shit. That is just how it is.

Also, I learned that I do not have the cash on hand to be trying to get my lil book awards. Shit is expensive. In secret I spent a few months last fall really dedicating hours of my week to submitting to free publicity or award things with my lil book. The hours cost me in terms of spoons and time not spent writing and netted me one very nice rejection letter.

And real talk. I STILL can’t get poetry published. At last submission spree, even with mentioning the book and including a poem or two from it, I don’t really get no love from the lit poetry world. That’s fine but it also means that I’m chasing my tail trying to promote my fucking book.

So yeah. That’s been a struggle but I’m glad I did it. I can see the whole pathway and what obstacles exist for me in particular and that I don’t honestly have the spoons to try to get around them. So I do what I have energy for.

NON BULLSHITS.

So last year I decided to focus more on getting back into the fiction world and boy howdy. Quite a few years ago I had about a 60% acceptance rate in the short fiction world. That was huge.

My return to it has been fucking lit.

This year I’ve placed stories in two anthologies that are both HUGE DEALS to me. Huge. I got an experimental horrory story into Would but Time Await: An Anthology of New England

I was REALLY nervous because the story was an experiment. It is a Black story and I haven’t really been in the horror community for a while.

THEN I got a little tiny horror story accepted over at Heavy Feather (will announce when it goes up). The editor Jason dropped me a note months ago and I FINALLY made something I’m into.

And then, I got the notification and one of the best damn acceptance notes ever. My lil supernatural noir story got into the Gimme the Loot: Stories Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G. Forthcoming from Clash.

The uniting theme in these is that, I’m at my best when I write what the fuck I want to write. I think freelancing really kind of crushed that in me to a degree. Yes there are some publishers who have been all the way the fuck in with me. But, largely that is not the case. This is the same thing with the flirtations with agents and mainstream publishing.

It is like, OKAY we fuck with you but about 40% so dial it back.

I don’t write great things with that in mind. I don’t write great things when I’m trying so hard to get paid what I’m worth.

All of this is really about me pupating so I can in fact find my place in the lit world. Someone who was trying really hard to be encouraging was comparing me to two very famous, very amazing Black writers and y’all, it made me cry. I like both authors. But, I am not like them and cannot be.

I hate this whole struggle between wanting a seat at the table, wanting some “success” (as termed by our culture) and just wanting to be my weird little self, make some writing, make some pomes, do my shit and maybe sometimes be shown appreciation in the form of coins.

I’m working on it. One lil thing at a time.

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On Fear and Freedom

HI babes.

GUESS who is back on their bullshit? YEP yo problematic fave.

I’ve been hard at work and I’ve been digging deep into my archives of fiction that I abandoned for various reasons. As much as I talk about how important to me it is to be writing what the fuck I want to write, I still have reservations and fears in terms of genre and style etc.

For me, reconnecting with genre work has been a long ass hard road. I follow a lot of genre related folks, mags, editors, writers etc. One of the things that I still struggle with is that as much as I read, I often feel like my ideas, the methods in which my Blackness informs my work, is a problem.

It is the type of cognitive dissonance that for me personally is just, so weird. I will watch folks talk and talk and talk diversity but, I still find a lot of places lacking. I have such a need to see a broader acceptance of Black narratives. The narratives that aren’t super comfortable.

HOWEVER.

Now that I have some distance on writing racial pain porn for pennies, I’ve found an old want and am able to fulfill it for myself. If you’ve been here for a minute y’all know that at the root of my work is the need to create representation. Until now, I have really wanted to find joy in representation, in creating something that is just enough to get me a seat near the table.

I wanted to be at the table.

Somewhere in my quest to provide the representation, things felt grim. Of course I’ve had the Daiyuverse but, things were feeling a bit lacking. I felt kind of constrained.

Representation by itself is not enough. It is great. It is my dream. But, it is not enough to sustain me in my creative life.

So, I let it go.

And then, I started fictioning again and I’ve found my joy again.

I’m remembering that I don’t have to give a certain narrative about or around Blackness. That I can do what the fuck I want and still represent.

To the end of joy and shit I love doing, here’s a bite of the fantasy story I am retooling.

The King came out of the privy still buttoning her breeches, her sword clanking on her hip.“So, I looked at him dead in his Gods Damned eye and said no but I’ll sit on her-“Her ribald story came to as abrupt a halt as she did. Standing right there, one ear turning, tail swishing, was the cat woman. She stared up at the King with her enormous pumpkin colored eyes.

“You’d sit on her what your majesty?”Her whiskers twitched. The King stammered and dropped to one knee, unfortunately her breeches were loose and several men got a good half moon. She was too rapt to feel the breeze across her crack.“I, I oh please a thousand pardons Lady Cat. I hope I haven’t offended you. May I ask, what is your name?”

With that, I say good day sir.

Good. Day.

First Side Hustle of the Year Updates.

OKAY.

Hi y’alls.

Folks ask me so I will probably do a monthlyish hustle update. (Medium links are paid links)

Medium still fails, my stats, these are not ALL of the things behind the paywall just the “top”:

Adventures in Being Black in Public $5.99
How to Learn to Write Non Fiction $0.00
This is America II $0.00
Post FatAss: Current RageAss. $0.00
Dear White Feminists. 2018 is coming. $0.00
How to Make a Witch II $0.00
How To Diversify Your Literary Publication $0.00
Self Care Like A Boss $0.00
This is America $0.00
So a bit from my top earner for the month:
The weight of that look, the look Black folks who are in situations where they are the only Black person there, or are visibly in distress know. The curled lip, the purse clutch, the sneer, the loathing. It is the look when you are both invisible and hypervisible. I was already panicky, trying to text my partner through my tears, terrified that (not logical but….) immediately the money I’ve been working so hard to save would be gone, that someone would fuck up my credit I’ve worked so hard on, everything.”
I wrote about a real bad day. I wrote from my aching heart about a really bullshit ass experience of my Blackness. it hurt. It hurt to read.
On average when I bleed out on the page this way, using Medium I might make 5$. When I’m exhausted angry and hurt, sometimes I make a little cash. For instance, this article I made about 13$. A record high. This piece was ghosted by four editors at ladymags who’d asked for this sort of thing. Two rejections because it is strident. So I took to Medium.

I will go out on a limb and speak for a lot of us othered folks. We cannot and do not want to continue giving free, amazing scholarly lessons on basic don’t be a racist. It is damn near 2018 and our fucking world is burning. Want to be the best gosh darned intersectional (also please interrogate your use of that word and if you don’t already know, find out about where it comes from) feminist ever?

Do the work.

Some stats for that piece:

Published 

VIEWS BY TRAFFIC SOURCE
353.

So frankly, y’alls. This is a large part of why I am in the process of redoing how I work. Honestly, letting it ALL out like that might be cathartic sometimes but it also is so much labor. And aside from maybe one magazine I can think of, even when that sort of work is asked for I’m not the one getting those bylines so no $$.

In other hustle news. My Etsy store will be closing on 2-15. I kept loose track and worked well over 75 hours on etsy stuff in the last quarter of 2018 and that made my hourly rate less than a dollar so. Nope.

What I am doing is making room for a big, shoot the moon, HOLY SHIT I AM DOING THIS SHIT type thing. I’m not ready to share ALL the details but, I’m taking a big fucking risk and I am so excited about it.

What else is happening?

I’m reading a few really good books right now. I’m getting ready to roll out some new shits. Since The Evil Empire   I mean Amazon changed their affiliate program I’m working on a WHOLE ass page of hand picked books and links.

I’ve also got a directory of Black Patreon creators going and I’ll be going live with it soonish.

I’ve got a real hankering to provide some more resources up in this bitch so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll be back probably next week where I’m going to need to talk some shit about people who try to sell best seller secrets willy nilly.

OH and if you are or know Black creators on Patreon drop them links for me please!

 

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.

Yeah Write #400- Pussy Kills

Yeah Write #400- 
Pussy Kills
by
Shannon Barber

I inhaled deep, blinked slow and spoke softly. “Pussy Kills.” The man standing in front of me smiled, frowned and found a place between the two. He was confused, I was irritated. He thought he was suave, ready to have his first Black girl as he’d already informed me. I wanted to read my book and finish my Jack and Coke in blessed solitude. 

“What?” I smiled and gave him the sweetest look I had on deck. “I said, pussy kills. You don’t want it. Goodnight.” I resumed reading and the hovering bartender pursed his lips, the laughter held in by the grace of the Gods. The bro, then red faced and confused wandered away, muttering about crazy bitches in bars.  

The bartender let the giggles out and slid another Jack and Coke next to my hand and waved off my money. After I thanked him, we had a nice conversation about Suicide Blonde by Darcy Steinke because he’d never seen the edition I had. I told him about how much I wanted to eat Lydia Lunch so I could be with her forever. We became the sort of friends that drank beers out of paper bags together and crawled around used book stores, and over wine and Tom Waits became occasional lovers. 

He was my first of a few gay lovers, he taught me about romance and how to put lipstick on a man with a beard. I taught him about the joys of having multiple imprints of the same book to see the typography changes and how to make a decent cup of coffee. Just before we stopped sleeping together, someone caught us kissing in the bar. When they asked why, he looked at them and said, “pussy kills.”

Year End Wrap Up Early-

Henlo Friendos.

Welcome to your annual peek inside the working life of yer fave weirdo. Usually I do these later in the year but, I am not doing a lot of writing business for a bit which I will explain.

So we’re gonna talk money, failure, success and whatnots.

Let’s get it in.

Firs thing. Submission stats. 

I lost some of my stats and here is what I have:

My most rejected work was poetry. I submitted 85 individual poems in sets between 1-5. I had 1 accepted for publication

I pitched 18 times Mostly personal essays. 15 were ignored, 1 was written then I got ghosted by the editor. 1 is lost to the ether.

I was asked for this. And after this piece got rejected by everyone (about 11 times or so) Chanda bought it for The Offing. I think they were both some of my best work. 

Moving along to fiction. I submitted 3 pieces. 1 is still out in the wild. The other two got weird rejections.

Let’s talk expenditures.

I spent 132$ on Win Live 365. 

I spent 140$ on hosting.

I spent 15$ running Etsy. Approx.

I spent 50$ on some DIY shit for pomes.

I spent 35$ on some entry/submission fees.

I spent 150$ on misc writing biz related shit.

Next up, let’s talk Patreon.

I’ve offered up approx. 70k words. Monthly, patrons get about 3K on the urban fantasy project and as of a couple of months ago an additional around 2k words in writing lessons.

This year has been pretty weird in terms of how I’m viewing my successes. The statistics on this lil bloggy blog, my Medium account etc on the most superficial level are pretty great. Across various social media, here, tweeter and tumblr and Patreon I have a few thousand followers.

Just for this lil space, I currently have a bit over 600 followers. A few via email.

Generally speaking most posts here (even when I post more regularly) get about 100 views on a great day. On occasion one click out to work I’ve linked, more if it isn’t my work.

My top reads across the board are rando search engine hits from usually weird search strings and then folks read a few things.

OKAY so what does all this mean?

Overall 2018 has been a really hard year. My partner and I moved. A thing that was well planned but, due to circumstances out of our control cost me every red cent I had and then some.

The main computer I work on is useless. It was a trooper. The main problem is that I’ve not been able to buy really quality shit so, it didn’t last long and did not survive a full update to Windows10. I can sorta work online but it is super slow and doesn’t work well. RIP lil Stream.

Soooo I’ve also spent a lot of 2018 evaluating how I work and whatnot. How I hustle, and where I put my limited energy and time.

Here’s the thing.

I still give away too much of my work. I’m in a can’t get published cycle right now and I wrote the shit anyway.

My hustles to make the $$ happen anyway, have failed pretty badly. Using etsy as an example, I did not clear 100$ in profit in 1 full year.

I go back and forth feeling terrible about my inability to figure out what anyone might buy from me. This is mixed up with knowing the hows and whys I can’t get my fundraisers funded etc but, it is super fucking stressful and y’all. 

Y’all some shit is changing.

First major change is that without getting any indications of interest, I have expanded my Patreon offerings without changing the price structure. Fiscally a dumbshit thing to do but whatever. I also have more planned but we’ll talk about that another time.

Until I can afford the Beast Machine I want, posting will remain light. I’m writing as much as I can for Patreon and one other thing. I still have 1200$ of money to make/raise so I can finally pay off our move. Shit is rough but, I’m doing some shit.

I’m writing short fiction again and that feels nice. I haven’t written it in a while. I’m not pitching/freelancing much if at all. I just don’t have the patience to filter my mouth to get work because most of my meatspace life involves me trying to be somewhat chilll.

I dunno what else will happen y’all. Honestly, the move and subsequent money problems has just wrecked me. I keep having Had I only been able to fund my original thing, like I wouldn’t be in this fucking position. But here we are so……yeah.

That’s it. I will probably post some book reviews and other stuff before the end of the year. 

BUT yeah. That’s 2018 in my literary career.