Friday, December 07, 2018

Comic Cuts - 7 December 2018

This week has seen me return to work after a break of about twenty months, during which I've written four published books—the Forgotten Authors series—finished up a fifth book that appeared a while back but which I've yet to see—the Don Lawrence Scrapbook—and written up 40,000 words of notes for the Valiant index, that I'm hoping to get back to in the future.

What you have to understand is that, busy as I am, none of these projects will earn me a huge income. I self-publish a lot of books and will keep them in print for as long as I can, which means they will be earning me a higher rate than a royalty payment for their lifespan. But—and it's a big but—I'm also my own author, editor, designer and publisher, which slows down the whole process as I swap hats over the course of a book's creation. Frankly, if I was to hire in an editor or designer to do the work, the books I've produced over the past seven or so years would be uneconomical.

While I hope that I will earn a reasonable amount over the lifetime of a book—I'll still (I hope) be earning a few quid every month from them well into my retirement years—that doesn't help me pay the rent this month, or next month, or the month after that. Hence the reason why I'm back in gainful employ for a while, so I can build up my savings to a level where I can risk (and it is a risk) writing another book that won't be troubling the best-seller lists, but which I'll enjoy writing.

After a couple of months looking for something suitable, I was offered some work that will keep me going into the early months of next year. It's for a company I've worked for previously—most recently in 2015-17 editing a trade paper, Hotel Business, on a part-time basis and, prior to that, I've  worked for on-and-off—more the latter than the former—dating back to 1991.

The company has changed greatly over the years, from producing a dozen or so cheap-and-cheerful 'Mart' titles, to a well-oiled operation that publishes 40 consumer and trade (B2B) magazines, plus about the same number of website operations. Most of the magazines are specialist titles relating to crafts (Mel has worked in that area for many years), health, food and gardening. (Nothing like the line-up when I started, which included such titles as Caravan Mart, Boat Mart, Gun Mart, Paintball International and the much missed Comic World, which is where I started!) Last September, the company was taken over by DC Thomson, so I'm now working for the same company that's behind The Beano and Commando. I'm probably the only person working here who has (a) written comic strips for the company; and (b) licensed books from them (the now out-of-print Arena and Frontline UK). Now they're paying my wages... so thank you DCT.

This branch of the company runs a couple of mags and websites dedicated to franchising, a subject I know almost nothing about. When Hotel Business folded in January 2017, I wrote a handful of articles for one of the franchise magazines, but that was my total contact with the subject until this week.

Now I'm an expert on a bunch of different companies and business types. I'm writing company profiles for one of the websites at the rate of around one a day and the first five have included a business mentoring company, a pet food supplier, a home care specialist, a van-based mobile coffee supplier and an express package delivery outfit.

Adjusting to working in-house has been interesting. I'm heading out of the house in the dark and getting back in the dark, so there have been a few surprises along the way. Our landlady had the front of the house repainted and I didn't know anything about it until Thursday, when I left the house a bit later than usual.

I was dog-tired the first three days and in bed by ten on Wednesday night—which is almost unheard of, as I was always a bit of a night owl. I'm having breakfast again rather than waiting until eleven to have brunch and a break. On the plus side, I'm finishing work at 5:30pm  and not worrying about it until 9:00 the following morning.

I'm lugging my laptop in every day as it's the only bit of kit I have to play music on. I tried it through the computer I have been given but the ear phones could barely reach the socket and I had to sit with my head lop-sided, which was very painful on the neck. I tried balancing the computer on piles of books (the office is full of nice hardback cookery books) but gave up when I nudged the computer and it almost slid off the platform I'd made. I managed to pull the power cord out the back, which caused a minute of panic until I realised what I'd done. I'm not sure what everyone else in the office makes of  my occasional sniggering at podcasts or head-bobbing to music. I've always played music or podcasts while I work as it blurs out any background noise and, having worked on my own for most of the past thirty years, I'm easily distracted when I'm working with other people.

I'm writing this Thursday afternoon from my desk in the office and you should be able to read this on Friday morning as usual. I may have to shuffle things around a little bit in the future... I enjoy writing these columns and hopefully the work won't get in the way. But I might have to move them so that they're posted on Sunday or Monday. Robert has said that he still has some artists to cover in his regular artist bio. series, but that, too, might move to a different day. I've found it quite difficult to keep on top of e-mail, although hopefully that situation will resolve itself as I get used to my new life-work balance. What hasn't helped has been quite a few orders and notifications of Ebay sales arriving early in the week when I'm unable to do anything about them as there isn't a nearby post office.

The only other negative is the temperature. The offices are kept so warm that by mid-afternoon I'm feeling quite dozy. I'm used to an office with no insulation and dressing up to keep warm, not stripping down to a t-shirt every morning and still finding myself sweating.

Other than that, everything seems to be chugging along nicely. It has been nice to bump into some old friends and make some new ones. You can't ask for better than that.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Steve! This paid work/own work commitment is where I am also about to find myself. It's amusing explaining the reason why I want limited hours or part-time work to agencies! As a 51 year old, ex full-time, long term career based teacher they assume it is to become a consultant or some such professional role. Excelsior!



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