Week 5: chasing, reminding, raining

How can it be week 5 already?! And yet.

Well, it’s been a podcast-heavy week. Riding high on our success/relief of Friday’s Playful conference, we powered through THREE guests on Monday’s session, over the course of FIVE HOURS in the studio. Roo and I have been busy trying to track down a venue for our live episode 50 games event, as well as chasing the official audio recording of our live Dominik Diamond interview.

  • We very likely have a venue for the episode 50 gig, for a very good minimum spend. Snagging it seemed like it was going to be difficult and I think I put it off somewhat, but once I put my mind to it this week I found myself inundated with almost four offers of rooms in the space of one intense Tuesday.
  • God, I’m so excited about the paper. Obviously not excited enough to make a decent website for it yet. But honestly. Each day brings new joys and the quality is high!
  • I’m also excited about my pals who are designing my Final Bullet logo and want to come down to London from York and visit my office to present their ideas to me. I’ve known these people since 2003; I’ve worked for them, they’ve worked for me, and we’ve done stuff for free for each other over the years. But now they’ve asked to come to my office to do a presentation. Mental. It’s like it’s real.
  • Pleased to see I’m confirmed as a keynote at the Oxford Geek Night on December 1st. I’ll be talking about making things fast and sticking it to the Man (you know me) – please come if you can!

The general self-help lessons you’ve come to expect, over the jump.

1. You never get paid by accident.

A lot of stuff seems out of our control in this world. The weather, our health, motorway roadworks, train times, the parents we’re given. But not everything happens by chance, not everything is out of our hands.

Money. Is. Never. Accidental. You never get paid by accident.

We live in a world that promotes freeness, if not freedom. The result is an explosion of creativity, to some extent, but also a proliferation of that attitude that spans the spectrum of hope-expectation-self-righteousness. So we have people imagining that projects will turn into cash “sooner or later” just by virtue of being good. I’ve been as guilty as anyone of this “wait and see” attitude.

But it doesn’t work. If money’s what you’re after, you need to push, compromise and whore. You need to decide where you draw the line, and give up some of the dream, one bit at a time.

I’m very proud of the things I’ve made and given away for free, but none have ever translated into a single scrap of money. I’m talking about the books here, as much as anything else. You might think people pay for them, because they’re for sale, but make no mistake – *I* am *giving them away*. The small amount of money from sales never gets anywhere near me. I made one book which got me attention from the BBC and a small amount of virtually-unpaid work on some Radio 4 shows. Then a couple of years later I made another book which got me quite a lot of interest from websites, conferences and magazines.

But the conferences and magazines and websites quite understandably assume my priority is to promote the books. It’s not; there is genuinely nothing in it for me! Writing them was a joy, which is why they’re not particularly good. I just wanted to make them. Now they’re made they’re not interesting to me anymore. They’re not making me money, they’re just encouraging judgment. I don’t really want to have to think about them ever again.

So, promoting what I’ve done in the past doesn’t get me anywhere, it certainly doesn’t get me money. I did both books with a publisher who pays neither proper royalities nor proper advances, partly because they were the only ones who’d take a chance on me. It was fine, and I’m not complaining – because I wasn’t looking for cash, I was just looking for someone who’d let me do what I wanted.

But now I’m realising I’ll never see any money from either book it irks a little to realise that I won’t get any money from the people who think I’ll do things for free in order to publicise them, either. It makes perfect sense to ask things from people who have something else to gain, some indirect route to bags of £££. But I don’t want publicity, I don’t care if you don’t read my silly books. I just want cash.

The trouble is, you pay in the money you don’t make. The cost of doing what you want, if no one else really wants it, is thousands of pounds. If you’re like me, and you mess about on the internet all the time, but you want to get paid for anything ever, well… you really do have to ask for it.

2. Promotion is not all its cracked up to be. Relating to the above, really. Because I like feeling like I’m the only one to know about something. Do someone a favour, and tell them you’ve never heard of them or their website, or their work, or their field of interest. It’s a gift, knowing there’s a world out there waiting to have you impressed upon it. Tell someone they’re really not that famous or special. It’ll make them do something cool, you just watch.

3. Doing things fast is different from amateurism. Feel quite strongly about that.

4. Some of your projects are more equal than others. It’s a question of priority, things change over time as they demand your attention. That’s fine, as long as you go back round all the little chicks occasionally and make sure they’re all getting a worm.

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