I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script (Village Voice)

Here is a daunting reality: professional screenwriters don’t like being treated as life coaches for free. Take a read. The title says it all.

To note: I’m on the receiving end of this advice. I’d love to be able to reach out to industry professionals and solicit professional-quality feedback, but I know better now. Instead, I guess I’ll…just…produce my own work and hope it works out? I dunno. There’s a better path, I’m sure. Anyway, it never does me any good to meet working professionals whom I admire. I have a history of awkwardness.

Just read the article.

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script – New York – News – Runnin’ Scared.

 

This Is The End, Sharkblog, The End (Kind Of)

ANNOUNCEMENT


Earlier this year I announced that BilGaines.com would be dedicated primarily to Sharkblog.

I was wrong.

I wasn’t wrong at the time. I really meant it. But through the course of events in the largest break between blog posts in BilGaines.com’s history, the only real objective Sharkblog ever had was achieved. I have started a career as in the glorious field of search engine optimization. That was what Sharkblog really was. The fun surface skin of shark hybrid monster studies was, as I mentioned repeatedly, nothing more than a veiled attempt at self-education. I simply chose shark monsters as a subject for consistency and control for the course of various experiments in monitoring traffic, garnering traffic from strangers across the web, putting things I read into practice, and so on.

And now here’s the thing. I have the job I wanted Sharkblog to get me. The job I have is like a crash course in hands-on optimization tools and techniques. I already know more in just a few months than I was able to teach myself in over a year on my own, because I’m using real tools to help real businesses. I also have actual humans teaching me things. It’s like grad school, where the things you publish get seen by real people who matter. Except they’re paying me, not the other way around.

And there is SO much I want to use BilGaines.com for that I had to make some tough decisions about Sharkblog. I really did enjoy it, and I am still planning to write those Orsonsharktopus screenplays at some point. But I am revoking all urgency and importance of Sharkblog as far as BilGaines.com is concerned. This doesn’t mean it’s going away entirely, it just means I won’t really be pretending to be shark-focused anymore, and any time I blog about SEO, it won’t necessarily involve shark hybrids.

I had wanted to give one final post about exactly what I’d learned from Sharkblog, but I’ve actually been away from it for so long and I’ve learned so much SINCE the last Sharkblog post that I don’t remember where the self-education ends and where the professional education begins.

However, I’d definitely like to thank each and every reader who followed Sharkblog with even the smallest interest. One thing I know that Sharkblog taught me was optimization, shmoptimization – if you don’t write posts that people enjoy reading, you’re wasting everyone’s time. So, thanks, all of you. This is the end. I’m breaking up with Sharkblog.

We’ll still be friends.

…Here’s the good news: the Hideous Hybrid Menagerie is officially up and running. This is a lovely little part of BilGaines.om where I send visitors far, far away. It’s not good business, but hey, I’m just some guy, not a business, so it’s okay. The Menagerie is a benevolent hub of links where you can read much, much more about your favorite shark monsters. And it will remain open for ever and ever. I can add to it over time as I receive information and requests for information. I am not anticipating many requests, so I don’t think this will be a great time hinderance.

Check it out!

Sharkblog’s The Hideous Hybrid Menagerie

At some point, I may add more images to really spruce the Menagerie up, but currently, I’m sans-Photoshop, so it’s pretty much all text. This may or may not be a temporary situation. Whatever.

Hopefully this music video will help us all move past this difficult grieving phase:

Once again, thanks for reading. Please enjoy the rest of BilGaines.com, and come back often!

A Peaceful, But Very Interesting Pursuit – The Rumpus.net

As a follow-up to my recent announcement, I’d like to point out this most excellent read about T.S. Elliot working a day job he actually enjoyed, and at a bank, no less.

A Peaceful, But Very Interesting Pursuit – The Rumpus.net.

…So too do I find the art and science of search engine optimization equally enjoyable and intriguing, and in fact have made strides to make money doing it.  Do what you love, they say.  Check.

I have been working only a couple days now on my first professional SEO assignment, and already I find I’m writing more fiction.  During my last couple of lunch hours at Edmunds.com, I’ve written a sizable chunk of a short story I’d started and stopped.  After several months of writing small pieces here and there, and another month and a half of not writing anything at all in this story, I’ve resumed with a fervor and a straight line to the finish.  This new output may have everything to do with the new gig, or it may have nothing to do with it, but I like to think that this is a good sign of things to come.

When your professional life keeps you inspired and thinking and moving, the rest of your life has a tendency to follow.

Of course, working two jobs comes at the expense of writing more for this blog.  But no one has complained yet.

At any rate: I encourage anyone with a passion in a field that makes no money (such as theatre or poetry) to read this article.  You may find justification for your life.  You may find inspiration to change it.  Whatever — read up.  This is important.

New Gig: SEO Specialist (For Realsies)

Extremely good news, ladies and gentlemen!

I have landed a part-time gig as a Search Engine Optimization Specialist.  The words are capitalized because that’s the official title.  I’ll give plenty of detail, I’m sure, on the company itself and all the amazing goings on that occur on a daily basis just as soon as full-time work is written in stone with these folks.  We’re expecting sometime in the spring.  But for now, I’ll just let the world know I’ve got  up to eight hours a week of SEO work, and that is what I’ve been after.

To become really good at something (such as SEO), one needs not only theory but also practice and mentorship.  With Sharkblog, I’ve been giving myself a very small amount of practice, and there has been no mentorship.  This SEO gig should cover all three areas, and I aim to improve my skills dramatically in a short time.  The more SEO work I produce, the more powerful I shall become.

It’ll be rough until I can do it full-time.  In the meantime, I’ll still be working at Edmunds.com in Santa Monica, a 50-mile commute each way from my place in Oxnard.  So this new work will be on top of that.

But it will be worth it, because if I can prove I don’t suck at life and actually get hired on with this company, I will transition from working 50 miles away to working at home.  My commute will be upstairs.

Even better than the non-commute, however, will be the work itself.  I’ve got no particular complaints with being an account manager for an automotive advertising & lead company, but account-managing has never been a passion of mine.  And the life-after-account-management career path is both vague and uninteresting.  The places I can go after being an SEO peon are way more attractive to a personality like mine.

What’s more, there’ll be more time at home to spend with my super-awesome baby girl Aliena.  I can’t even describe what a relief that is for the Parenting Department.  I can’t.  Even.  Describe.  (See: Harry Chapin – Cat’s in the Cradle)

I’m also anticipating a slight increase in productivity as far as personal writing projects goes.  In my current situation, I have very little time and even less energy to devote to the pile of StuffIAmWorkingOn.  By telecommuting, I open up about three hours each day.  And by not wearing myself down with driving those three hours, my brain, I expect, will be more useful.  So maybe I can finally complete 1) the adaptation of a play I’ve written into a screenplay, 2) a short story I started that gets longer and longer the more I write it, 3) a refresh of the novel I completed a draft for last year, 4) that book of poetry with those sketches I’ve been drawing, and 5) everything else that I’ve been planning to start but haven’t because of the previous four.

And the wonderful thing here, the truly wonderful thing here, is that I’ll be happy with my day job.  It won’t be just a day job.  It’ll be a day career.  It’ll actually be an inspiration to the personal projects instead of a hindrance.  I’ll be happy to do the work, I’ll aspire to go further, I’ll be proud to describe what I do.  More on this topic later.  As I write this, I’m actually at the office in Santa Monica.  I should get back to work.

Have a lovely long weekend!

Yours truly,

Bil
SEO Specialist

P.S. Awesome.

SHARKBLOG: An Early Introduction To The Hideous Hybrid Menagerie

mega shark vs. crocosaurus poster

Finding myself alone for ten days while my wife & our baby spend some time out of state visiting relatives, I figure this would be the ideal time to catch up on my shark monster movies. Alas, my spare mailbox key does not work, so the Netflix queue I so carefully put together will have to wait until Devon gets home with our real key so I can get the DVDs. And then I have to wait until she leaves again, because for some reason, she doesn’t want to watch “Dinoshark.”

Whatever. No biggie, I can still start building the next important part of Sharkblog: the Hideous Hybrid Menagerie. It’ll be a place where I can run the following scientific experiment:

HYPOTHESIS: An online reference library of monstrous hybrids of fiction both realized and not-yet-realized will be a source of greater organic search traffic. Based on the experience of the past, and the continually revised algorithms powering search results, I expect to see an increase in visitors to this well-organized and keyword-rich hub of hybrid monster information.

EXECUTION AND MEASUREMENT: I shall build one page with a list of the names of each beast, and, where possible, reference links to more detailed websites for each. For each as-yet-unrealized beast that I invent (e.g. Barry Manilodon) I will create a more detailed page, hosted on this website, with links back to the main list and any BilGaines.com blog posts that reference the beast in question. I shall measure the increase from all dates prior to the publication of the very first page, and segment the growth between publications of each new page. This experiment will be ongoing, but expect a report on findings sometime in Q2 of this year.

ANALYSIS: I will utilize Google Analytics & their new visitor flow chart to determine if organic search results lead more directly to Sharkblog-related pages and posts. I will keep track of time spent on the site, amount of visitors each day, bounce rate/drop-off rate, and number of pages viewed per visit.

The idea for the Hideous Hybrid Menagerie stems from the fact that a post from last March is still the #1 page viewed by organic search traffic. (Eagle Vs. Shark Vs. EagleShark, if you’re curious.) I realize there’s lots of information about hybrid monsters out there, and people need a central location where they can easily find resources to research these creatures. It’s library science…sort of.

This experiment is part of a new content marketing strategy I’m devising. It’s “marketing” in the sense that I want to attract an audience and see if they are able to guide themselves around the website, which will indicate interest, which in the real world would mean a sales lead. I have nothing to sell, but if BilGaines.com were a brick-and-mortar store, I’d want people browsing the Sharkblog aisle. If I can demonstrate an ability to guide users to a certain section of a website and stay interested, well…bingo, that makes me a marketer. And I’d rather be a marketer than an account manager.

Account management bores me.

SHARKBLOG: Focus

Sharkblog - it is on

Just in time for the Detroit Auto Show, I am ready to unveil the all-new 2012 BilGaines.com – now with more Sharkblog!

Sharkblog is not only here permanently, but is now a much bigger priority, largely thanks to my friendly wife who occasionally reminds me that I lack focus and really shouldn’t bounce from project to project when I haven’t fully exhausted the potential of the first one I started.

Hence: rather than start a new project involving all the things I left out of Sharkblog last year, I’ll instead keep on Sharkblogging and go ahead & implement the things. All the things. And I’ll track it all using both Google Analytics and the new site stats that come with installing Jetpack for WordPress. (Tracking things is very important.)

The very nature of Sharkblog displays my natural tendency to split focus. It’s a two-fold project: blog about shark monsters, mainly shark hybrid beasts, and also blog about the SEO results of the blog about shark hybrids and monsters. It’s like having a two-person play where the other person is the actor’s reflection in a mirror.

So my New Year’s resolution this year is not a list of benchmarks to check off. It is one word: focus.

And I’ve decided that Sharkblog is worth my time and energy, so BilGaines.com is now more devoted to high-quality shark monster hybrid content than ever before. The site has been redesigned to be more Sharkblog-centric.

On a related note, I’m also more devoted to getting a better day career than “account manager,” so I’m going to really boost the efforts to bring in more high-quality traffic with Sharkblog. I’m going to do one thing at a time, and do it well, and make sure I can show measurable improvements. I’m going to establish a definable Sharkblog universe. I’m going to track the progress and analyze every single little move. I’m going to focus the hell out of this portion of the website.

And I’ll still post about other random shit from time to time. Don’t you worry about that, no sir.

And luckily for everyone out there, I’ve made the switch from creating a new blog post from every tweet to simply having a Twitter sidebar widget (to your left), so you can subscribe by email & your inbox won’t get blasted with constant nonsense. You’ll just get the solid and the polished.

To sum up: a brand new direction for BilGaines.com, and a bigger and brighter future for Sharkblog. More focus. More sharks. More better.

Onward!

Visual.ly Blog

Visual.ly Blog.

Are you excited?  I am excited.  The Visual.ly Blog is here.

This excites me because I’ve been waiting for this site to really get going.  Even as I type, their library of infographics is becoming larger and stronger.  The addition of the blog will surely pull in more creative types who will use (and/or contribute to) the library.

I encourage folks to use this site as much as possible.  More than anything, I want this site to succeed because I want their “labs” to come online for me.  I expect a powerful graphic-creation tool.  I want it now.  I drool for this tool.  I dream about it.  I CAN. NOT. WAIT.

http://visual.ly/

In the meantime, I will continue to quietly gather data on sharks and shark hybrid monstrosities as they relate to my own web traffic.  It’s all in the interest of learning, I swear.  It’s only partly about the fame.  Don’t want to get stuck in my current job forever, you know, gotta learn my own ropes before I manage someone else’s.

Created by Shark Lovers at DegreeSearch.org

In other news, I heard StumbleUpon got a nifty new redesign.  I haven’t looked at it. I’m not a Stumbler myself, but I’ve heard good things, so I decided to help myself and StumbleUpon at the same time.  Now you have an icon down below.  Share away.

I also added Tumblr, because it rhymes with stumbler.

The Emigration To California: Epilogue

The day after we landed, Trevor took off again.  You never saw a guy so jacked up on adrenaline and caffeine for the entire duration of a 2,000 mile road trip. That plane ride home must have been a sleepy one.   He had a layover in Salt Lake on his way back to Chicago.  I don’t think Utah will ever be the same for him.

Ten or so days after that, our stuff arrived from the shitty movers.  They had not been careful, and much of it was either damaged or destroyed.  They are shitty, shitty movers, and I hate them.

We’re still not fully unpacked, but at least we’re in California, in our little place by the beach.  Our daughter is now a California girl.  Born in Chicago, she’ll be a California girl with California parents from now on.  That’s how we wanted it.

So.  Life.  All of it.  Permanently changed.

To say that a little dust has been unsettled is like saying Mt. Saint Helens chucked up a little dirt.

But it’s falling into place, speck by speck.

So, here we have the end of Operation: Move to California as Soon as Possible.  It wasn’t easy, but it was fast.

What to do now that we’re here?  Primarily: raise Aliena to be the best possible human being we can raise her to be.  Secondarily: chip away at those writing projects.  Diligence, patience, and constant learning will be the keys in both endeavors.

Also, I have a surfboard I’ve been meaning to take out on the water.  Someday soon, I’ll get around to that.

Trip takeaway – beer list:

Recap:
Prologue
Trying To Leave Chicago
Chicago To Kansas City
Kansas City To Denver
Denver To The Middle Of Utah
The Middle Of Utah To Southern California

New Side Gig: Writer

Writing is ultimately how I would like to make my living, and for the first time in my life I’ll be able to call myself a steady professional. I’ve made a few bucks from publishing before, but now I have a title and consistency. I’ve officially published the first of many Examiner.com articles as the Chicago Green Parenting Examiner.  Check me out.

My goal with this gig is to write two or three articles per week on the sensitive subject of environmentally-friendly child-rearing.  It’s a big deal.  I started it all off with something I really do care a lot about: cloth diapering.  My entire angle is to make “green parenting” less of a hippie-dippy drug-trip lifestyle, and more of just a set of responsible and money-saving lifestyle habits.

Obviously, this is not the bright burning glory of a one-off published piece of fiction, and I doubt it will pay more than one small bill per month, but hey – a part-time professional writer is still a professional writer.

Score one for Bil.

Style Matters

Maintaining a personal website is a tricky thing.  Blogs are fine, but I wanted a whole site that I could customize myself and call it what I want and put up more than just words and the occasional minimalist palm-tree-and-bicyclist image file.

Having the goals I have means this website must eventually become integrated with my life.  I’ve got a lot going on and a lot more coming down the pipeline, so I need to find a balance.

It’s early still, so I won’t beat myself up.

But style matters.  It does.  I need to get my head around what my style currently is, what I want it to be, and how to make the two join up.  I’m a big fan of Ernest Hemmingway’s advice, but I’m not a big fan of taking one man’s advice as undeniable truth.  I guess that means I’ll treat it as guidelines to stick to, but I’ll break those goddamn rules anytime I feel like.

I’m working on shorter paragraphs.  Can you tell?

I’m coming to a point where soon I will really start to push traffic here.  I’m not doing much of anything yet to get visitors, and my site stats will back that statement up.  When I do start advertising myself like some Las Vegas strip club owner, I’m not going to want “visitors.”  I’m going to want repeat traffic.  I’m going to want eager readers.  I’m going to want, for lack of a less narcissistic term, fans.

So when I really start hitting up social media and e-mailing everybody I’ve ever come across with the whole hey-look-at-me-I-have-a-website message, I’m going to want a strong start.  I’m going to want to impress.  I don’t want just another blog.  I want a destination website.

I want people to come here for something they want.  I won’t beg people to look at my website.  That’s not sustainable.

This website matters.

Content is king, but style creates the kingdom.

The Social Robot: Thoughts on Social Media For Writers

http://thesocialrobot.com/2011/03/thoughts-on-social-media-for-writers/

EXACTLY. A writer on writing and necessity of social media. Also, a funny picture of an old lady saying something odd.  Like any good article, this post serves to justify my own existence on the web.

Yes, I’m on Twitter.  Yes, I waste a good deal of time there.  Well, you say waste, I say invest.  Potato, potato.

But as someone who is cool online but totally awkward in person, I cannot stress the value of social media enough.  This is something people like me have been catching on to for decades.  It’s easy to stand up for yourself and your activities when you’ve got time and a keyboard to articulate your thoughts.  In person, I either stutter until something clever comes out (and usually by then it’s too late), or else I clam up and apologize.  I’ve learned to pick my battles smartly, but for the most part I choose not to battle at all.  Online, however, I am Charlie Sheen: a warlock with tiger blood and Adonis DNA.

So – yes.  Twitter makes me a better person.  That’s my point.

How Authors Really Make Money: The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing

Is straight-to-eBook the new straight-to-video?  Yes and no.

How Authors Really Make Money: The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing.

I’m gonna go ahead and ask everybody I know who has any aspirations toward writing, fiction or non-fiction, to read this article.  (Don’t skip the video in the middle.)

Obviously, I’m among the “aspiring authors” mentioned in this article, and so am still on the outside of the proverbial roomful of established writers, proverbially looking in.  Thus, I can’t say whether Tim Ferriss’ advice is valuable or not.  However, it sounds really smart, so I’ll assume it is.

Mostly.

Luckily, I read the comments, and one ireful (really? “Ireful” is a valid word? Okay.) reader had this to say:

Your headline caught me and I was excited (as usual) until I realized that (as usual) you had failed to take popular fiction into accout.

These models can’t work with genre fiction. Public speaking to build your platform, for instance, isn’t a viable option. Speak about what and to whom? There’s no platform there. In genre fiction you’re putting out (for some authors) a book a month. The platform is constantly shifting.

As a fiction author who worked up to full time writing via the ebook industry (which, for the last ten years, was where the former New York mid-list relocated to), wrote full time for 14 months, then just had to take a crappy $9/hr day job because stupid long tail economics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail) just killed off my monthly royalties again, I find your post completely unrealistic as far as fiction is concerned and have a hard time even finishing reading it. I think you need to put a proviso in the front end of it. NOT FOR FICTION AUTHORS. We have a whole different set of problems to deal with.

Cheers,

Tracy

To which Ferriss took the time to reply:

I’m a non-fiction author and know very little about fiction. If you’re a fiction writer, your options seem to be:

1) make money from book royalties
2) make money teaching at a writing program
3) selling a movie option
4) writing and selling a screenplay
5) creating a muse of some type

Tim

So, with an article filled with smart advice for non-fiction authors, combined with those five options right there for making a living, I think I’ll be set on the right track.  I can write a manuscript before attempting to sell it.  I can write a screenplay.

If I can actually get my head on straight, I think I’ll make it.  I really do.

Make a Career

Eggberta, a girl.

So here’s the thing about my situation right now.  It’s nothing new to the human race, it’s only new to me.

But OHMYGOD isn’t it magical and transcendental and all kinds of wonderful!  Devon & I are having a little girl.  And she’s beeYOOOOtiful and healthy and perfect and she has ten toes and ten fingers.  And she looks just like me.  At least, I assume she does.

She’s so amazing already and we haven’t officially met.  Good gracious me, I would hate to disappoint…

It occurred to me that she’s going to give me so much joy, I probably owe it to her to give some joy in return.  I can’t rely on her to cheer me up after I get home from some job, that’s not fair.  I owe it to her to be awesome.  And in order for me to be full-time awesome, I better get a career I’m proud of.  Like, actually proud of.  Like, doing what I want to do and succeeding at it.

Hence Operation: No Day Job By 2016.  It used to be for me and for Devon, but now it’s for all three of us.  And any possible additions later on.  I need a career, not a day job.  A day job connotes that I’m only there because it’s a steady paycheck.  In many ways, that’s true.  I certainly got to where I am with the company I’m with by showing up for money.

And that’s not really cool anymore.  I can’t spend forty hours a week and most of my good energy at a job I wouldn’t have signed up for it you asked me back in college.

This, too, is nothing new to the human race, it’s only new to me.

So I’ll play it safe, but I’ll play it smart.  I’m gonna find myself a gig that satisfies me, so I can look at my daughter as a satisfied human being, and thus teach her to be a satisfied human being.  I will do my best to warn her not to take a job, but instead to make a career.

And in the meantime, I’m going to take my own advice.

STEP ONE: PLAN.
More on this later…

Plans & Programs

Not gonna lie. I like this picture.

For all intents and purposes, the NoteSlate looks to be the finest version of a basic digital paper pad we’ve seen yet from the human race.  This is a concept almost as old as I am, and for the last twenty years we’ve seen attempt after attempt, but this one just might be what I’m looking for.  I don’t need an iPad – certainly not for $600 – but a pad where I can literally just sketch and draw and write notes to myself, for only $99?  Yes, I’m interested.

I can’t believe I have to wait till June.

It’s not the kind of technological wonderland that Apple likes to bring us; as far as usefulness goes, the NoteSlate is pretty limited.  But I really only want it for one purpose, and I think it will serve that purpose better than anything else on the market.  It’s a specialization, and I’m excited to be in that narrow category of people who can get excited about this.

So, what specifically do I want it for?  Sketching and drawing, duh.  But I can do that on regular paper, so why spend blah blah blah yeah yeah yeah.  Really, I’m interested in adding some drawings to a book of poetry, a la Shel Silverstein.  Drawing on paper and scanning that paper is, well, just a big pain in the ass.  Really inconvenient.

And yes, I have a book of poetry.  At least, the book is compiled; capped at a hundred pages, thanks to a contest I entered.  If I lose, I’ll be free to add more pages and some drawings.  If I win, I get five thousand dollars and a publishing deal.  Either way, I win.

Because it’s held up in the contest until May, I can’t publish any of the poems I submitted anywhere else, or I risk disqualification.  But I think I can post a few lines from one of the poems, so I want to share this little bit from a poem called Plans & Programs:

Plans & programs map our days, straight and sure as a train on its tracks;
but a map can be torn, programs ignored and plans forgotten, and a train can learn to fly.

So this plan of mine, to add some drawings with this great new sketching tool, is really just a small part of the grander plan.  Book of poetry, book of short stories, series of novels, plays and more plays, even screenplays – I’ve got so many writing projects in the works that it would really be better for me to actually make my living as a writer, instead of in an office, working for someone else.  But I’m not there yet.

2016 is my goal.

I’m taking steps.

I’m sketching out a strategic plan.

I’m working on a plan strong enough to sustain its goals over the next half decade, and flexible enough to bend with what life throws us.

So the book of poetry (with drawings) is one step.  This website is another step.  I’m taking steps.

I’m building.

I’ve got a picture in my head of the next five years, and I like this picture.