Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to Make a Million Dollars

There. That ought to guarantee me a couple of thousand hits. Now I have to deliver. D’oh!

It’s been said if you want to be rich, you have to work hard. To which I say: well, kind’a. You have to work hard at the right things, under favorable conditions. And you can get rich working for other people—if you work hard at the right things, under favorable conditions.

True life example: my brother landed a job with a Big Corporation (think “soup” and “Mmm mmm good”). He negotiated with unions and assessed company plants and decided which ones could be closed. He was paid very well to eliminate other peoples’ jobs, thus saving the company money. His bonuses alone exceeded my yearly salary. In addition, he took advantage of offered stock options. He was able to retire at 50 with a million dollars in the bank and a hefty stock portfolio. He worked hard and he worked for someone else and in both cases it paid off.

My first full-time office job ended in layoff after a year and a half because the company I worked for took a downturn. (They were an engineering firm that specialized in nuclear power plants. I joined the team in the early ‘80s, after Three Mile Island.) My last full-time job (copy editor for medical journals) ended in layoff in less than a year when our biggest customer moved the work to India. In both cases, all the hard work in the world would not have made a difference. Those jobs were doomed by outside circumstances.

Nor would they have made me a millionaire, not at an hourly wage. Most hourly jobs fall under overhead, a drain on company profits. That’s why so many of them go overseas, where hourly wages are cheaper. If you want to get rich working for somebody else, take a position that brings money into the company. The owners will make you rich if you make them even richer. You’ll never become a millionaire behind the counter at McDonald’s, no matter how hard you bust your butt. Unless you’re Dave Thomas, who took what he learned as a McDonald’s manager and opened his own burger franchise. He worked hard at something that mattered, and it paid off handsomely for him.

And that’s my view on the relationship between hard work and big money. If you want to become a millionaire without working hard, I suggest you go into politics.

# # #

Since this is a writing blog, more or less, I should probably relate the topic at hand to writing. How can your average fiction writer make a million dollars?

Easy. Write Twilight. Or file the serial numbers off your massive (and popular) Twilight fanfic and call it 50 Shades of Grey.

Seriously, you can get rich writing fiction. Or at least make a comfortable living. There’s a huge and hungry market out there for certain genres and if you’re good at one of those you’ll do okay. Will you make a million dollars? There’s no guarantee. All I can give you is a solid “maybe.”

Right now it appears the most successful writers are writing romance, and they have a new release every month or so, usually as part of a series. I’m okay with the romance and series parts, but I don’t write that fast. Hoping your book becomes the next Twilight isn’t going to work. It might, but what if it doesn’t? If you want that million, you’re going to have to write more than one book. You may have to write a dozen. One of those could hit it big. Or none of them. What’s a writer to do?

Keep writing. Learn how to promote. Find your market. Work hard at what matters.

Here’s my plan for making a million dollars through writing: get a million people to each give me a dollar. Don’t laugh. It’s a workable plan. It might take a while, but working hard at writing the best damn book possible, and working even harder at promotion and connecting to my target audience, is bound to pay off eventually. All I need is one dollar apiece, one time, from a whole lotta people. That’s not asking for much. After all, the goal is to accumulate a million dollars. I never said anything about getting it in one lump sum. If you fall short—plateau at, say, $500,000—that’s still nothing to sneeze at.

And if that fails … I’ve got my Plan B in the works. It’s harder and will take far longer and require a lot more work, but it can be done. That’s the inverse of Plan A: sub a million manuscripts and hope each one brings in at least a dollar. That’s not as insurmountable as it sounds. They don’t all have to be full-length novels. There are markets that pay $5 for flash stories of under a thousand words. If you’re good at those, you can knock out a dozen stories in a day. If you sell even half, you’re ahead of the game. Those $5 checks add up.

Or write a series in a popular genre. Or write articles or short stories or advertising copy or whatever you’re best at and whatever brings in the income. The more you get out there, the better your chances. The more you write, the more you’ll improve, which also increases your chances. One of those books could become the next Twilight.

As screenwriter William Goldman once said of Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” That applies to just about everything. No one has the slightest idea what’s going to be successful, not until they see it. They can’t see it if you don’t write it and send it out.

Or you could just marry a rich person. Or blackmail a rich person. That works, too.

Hope this helped. If you’d like to help me become a millionaire, here’s my Amazon page. Jessalina’s Pets isn’t on Amazon yet, but you can get it here. Don’t look at me like that. Panhandlers make a pretty good living, but even they have to work at it.

If anybody figures out a way to get rich without the work part, please let me know. Maybe I’ll ask my Congressman.


Savanna Kougar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Savanna Kougar said...

Not trying to squash any dreams here... so, if you want that million, go for it!

Pat C. said...

Whoo. Really hit a nerve there, didn't I?

Here's the deal: I have no job. I haven't worked in four years. I made it through thanks to extended unemployment and a wad of cash my late mother had stashed under the bed. The odds of me landing a job that pays a living wage, given my age, skill set (or lack thereof), and the current economy, are slim to bupkis. If I want to to continue eating and having a place to sleep that isn't under a bridge, I'm going to have to get off my butt and start writing. It's the only thing I'm halfway good at.

Personally, I'd settle for $25K or more in a year. That's more than I ever earned working a "real" job. But hell, why not aim for the top? Think of the fun I could have if I got it. If I don't, what the hell. Considering that last job, the one that went to India, only paid $10 an hour, if I made $30K in a year it would feel like a million to me.

Funny, but I know people with huge sums of money, my brother included ... and they've never encountered any of the horrors you mentioned, nor have any of their wealthy acquaintances. Not once.

Now I'm off to write porno for Amazon Kindle. Let's see if I can get myself arrested.

Savanna Kougar said...

Apologies for my inappropriate comments. May you make a million! I'm pullin' for ya.

Pat C. said...

Russ made his million while living in the vicinity of Camden, NJ, so I don't know how "corrupt" that was. He's in Florida now, in a house he paid cash for. No trouble with the mortgage there.

He also had backup: his wife was a physical therapist for a school district, and was paid quite well herself. Two incomes are better than one, especially when both are in the upper ranges.

In contrast, his son, my nephew, worked for a bank selling sub-prime mortgages (yes, he was part of the scam) and lost his job and his high salary when the economy collapsed. He might also have become a millionaire had the bubble not burst. My brother made his bundle in the robust '90s. Timing is everything.

I'm following the EC story over on Absolute Write. It looks like Jaid Black is starting up a new publishing company. Not a good idea, when her old one is floundering, as a lot of people have mentioned. As for me, I can just skip the sex scenes and go back to writing SF and fantasy, so I'm covered.

Pat C. said...

So when are you going to send me that dollar? :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Your brother might never have his house taken away. However, at this point, Bank of America has stolen houses that were fully paid for, with no mortgages whatsoever. In one case, the Judge ordered the Sheriff to go collect from one of their banks, when the owner sued... which did happen after a standoff. However, that's the rarity. The Big Banks have gotten away with murder when it comes to outright stealing people's houses, from those who are paying mortgages, or never even had a mortgage in the first place.

Anyhoo, did anyone say why Jaid Black is starting another pub company? Her reasoning?


Savanna Kougar said...

So... how is it MOST congress people, and past presidents, leave their public office FAR, FAR richer than when they got in??? And some, famously, become FAR, FAR richer afterward???

At this point, I'm out of the make-a-million game. For several reasons. One: the IRS will target you, and they gotta pay all their lawyer bills over the non-ending list of scandals and reprehensible stealing from the people.

Oh, unless you can turn that million into tangible assets [actually easy to do] forget about it... saving accounts, IRAs, etc. are on the gov's list to confiscate and control, under the guise of protecting them, and you. Sure...

Given, at this point, the gov has dictated anything you have can be confiscated by the state for any *EMERGENCY* reason they deem necessary... well... good luck!!!

btw... HEADLINE-SNIPPET: Philadelphia Police are Seizing People’s Homes and Not Because they Can’t Pay
Cassandra Rules | The Philadelphia police are putting home owners on the street.
According to a report by Vice titled ‘Asset Forfeiture, the Cash Cow of the Drug War‘, The Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund was at $1.8 billion in 2011, and it gave away nearly half a billion dollars to local police departments.
Asset forfeiture keeps the money rolling into police departments, which is in turn used to buy them all sorts of fancy new militarized toys.


Savanna Kougar said...

Naw... no nerve hit. But thanks for thinking that. Please don't think I'm agin ya in any way. I'm not!!! I want you rich and happy. I want me rich and happy.

That said, I'm basically in the same boat. I have to write or do something that works to keep going financially -- why I'm polishing the current mss for pubbing. Plus, given my health situation, I can't work any so-called regular job, anyway.

I'd say your brother and friends are darn lucky and/or are living in a less corrupt area. So far lucky, anyway. I know plenty of people who have been 'hit', so to speak. And all you have to do is search the news articles to find plenty more victims. The horror stories are everywhere, and not stopping.

Does your brother have an exit plan out of the country yet? Although, depending on his level of wealth... well, a million won't get you very far in this day and age.

There's been a huge discussion on the Indie loop around EC and the whole downturn in erotica sales. For one thing Amazon has been burying access using some type of programming. If you think I'm exaggerating, all you have to do is sign up for the loop, and read the very long ongoing discussion yourself.

I don't know about porn, though. Maybe it's still selling bigtime.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yeah, that dollar... we'll talk about that... ~grins~