What I’ve Learned (2017 Edition)

Analog July/August 2017

Seven years ago today (sort of), I sent my first story to a professional science fiction market.

Today, my name tops the cover of Analog. My novella, “Not Far Enough”, is the lead story. This marks my seventh appearance in the longest-running science fiction magazine in the business.

So since 7 seems to be the theme, let’s see if I can come up with 7 things I learned this year.

  1. To start with, it’s good to keep relearning old lessons until they stick. Everything I listed last year, I’m still learning today.
  2. On the dictation front, I’ve learned that (surprise!) it gets easier with practice. I dictated a whole novel in January, just because I told myself I could.
  3. I learned that iDictate.com is an excellent service for human transcription. Their rate is 1.25 cents per word. If for some reason software transcription won’t work for you (such as you dictate in a noisy Jeep), iDictate is a really good alternative. They’re fast, accurate, and professional. I highly recommend them.
  4. On the other hand, that per-word cost adds up. If you’re reliably selling most of your words like Kevin J. Anderson, it’s a good investment. It’s priming the pump. But if you need to keep costs down, I learned that you can use software to transcribe from a noisy Jeep. You just need a good voice recorder, a great microphone, and software to do the transcription. (Note: You have to get the higher-priced Premium version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The Home version will not transcribe recordings, only live dictation.) With this combination and by learning to properly align my microphone, I get pretty good results. Not perfect, but usable. That’s around $340, so it’s a bit of an investment; but at 1.25 cents per word, that’s the equivalent of transcribing 27,200 words. I dictate roughly 50 words per minute, so that’s 544 minutes, or a little over 9 hours. I dictate 10 hours in a good week. So that configuration paid for itself the first week or so I had it. After that, it’s all bonus.
  5. I have the best mentors and friends. Seven years ago, I never expected that part of the writing business.
  6. Emotion stories are more powerful than idea stories, but there’s no reason you can’t do both.
  7. Hard work can pay off in opportunities I never expected. (And can’t discuss yet, but I’m jumping up and down inside with excitement!)

So there! I made it. Now I’m going out to celebrate the birthday of my country (and my writing career) in the best way possible… WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

3 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned (2017 Edition)”

    1. Thank you, Sean! Yes, focus, habit, a rhythm, they’re all helping. I have to keep building them, but they’re stronger every year.

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