cimorene12's journal: change or die

Where are you and where are you going?
cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:30 am

New Publishing Houses
I was very interested in the NYT article about Meredith Wild. It says that she got $6.25 million as an advance, not the $7 million that other outlets reported. Still, it's one of the hugest advances ever.
Ms. Wild’s success wasn’t accidental, but grew out of a meticulously planned marketing campaign. Before the book was even released, she began buying online ads targeting erotic romance readers. Her husband took out 10 credit cards and a personal loan to pay for advertising. They borrowed $70,000 from Mr. Grishman, a former banker who is Ms. Wild’s brother-in-law. They eventually raised enough to fund a six-figure national marketing campaign, which included paid posts on social media and movie theater ads promoting “Hardwired” that played before the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie.

“Hardwired” took off instantly, and sales snowballed when the second and third novels were released.

By that summer, Ms. Wild was making $500,000 a month in royalties. Her books were selling briskly through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She arranged her own audiobook deal with Audible, forgoing an advance in exchange for higher royalties. She sold translation rights to publishers in several countries.

Ms. Wild sold her web design company. She hired Mr. Grishman to run Waterhouse, so that she could focus on writing. As the company grew and her sales surged, she realized she already had the infrastructure for a publishing house of her own. She just needed more authors.
It says that Liliana Hart has picked up four other authors, which is interesting. I did a search on the ranks of SilverHart books, and they're nowhere near where Waterhouse Press, Wild's imprint, are. They have good covers, but they aren't actually doing that much. In contrast, Waterhouse has been pushing Audrey Carlan's books like crazy, and they've taken over the top charts at every e-book retailer.

Liliana Hart and Jasinda Wilder talk about treating everything like it's a business decision. "It's a business," they shout. Russell Blake talks about having to spend money to make money, which is true, although as a new author I definitely spent a lot of money on things that I didn't need to buy yet. It's very easy to do.

Meredith Wild has way more business sense than Liliana Hart, despite Liliana's earnings when she started back in 2011. Seeing how well she was doing, having come from a tech background, made me reframe my own efforts. It's not about finding readers - it's about user acquisition. That's what all marketing is. And FB ads are an amazing way to get into that mindset, because it's a simple way to get into web advertising. What's your CPC? What's your conversion rate? How much are you making off of each new customer? Will they stay loyal and purchase new products from you?

Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and Meredith Wild currently represent the very top of the independent authors, because their deals with Ingram mean that they can access the 36% of readers who only read print books. They're all making millions per year.

Self-Publishing Opportunity
One of my friends linked a ludicrous blog article that claimed that Amazon said that only 40 self-published authors were successful. What Amazon actually said was that only 40 self-published authors had sold 1,000,000 books over the last 5 years. There's still plenty of success under 1 million units sold. Rosalind James hit the 300,000 unit mark last fall, and she made half a million last year with books priced at $4.99.

Then I got into an extended discussion in the comments, where one of my friends' friends started talking about how you had to start in 2013 or before in order to get any traction in self-publishing, and how it was just impossible for authors to make any money. The rest of us were giggling at the idea of self-published authors making only the poverty line, so she said that she wished that she made half of the poverty line working 12-hour days straight for 2 years and that nearly all authors were like her. She also kept accusing my friend of trying to scam her/everyone by selling a "how to publish" book, which was nonsense. No "how to publish" books were being sold anywhere in that thread.

So I linked to Individual Author Earnings Feb 2014-Sep 2015. I pointed out how many authors are making over $10k, which for me is close enough to the poverty line. I also said that many of us have multiple pen names, so it's probably an underestimate. Not that many self-published authors are full-time, either. You're going to see a higher income average among those who've made enough to quit their day jobs, which is a chicken-egg question. They're quitting their jobs because they can make enough money, and they can make MORE money because being an author is their full-time job.

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The friend whose wall this was on is a USA Today best-selling author. The other people chiming in included someone who makes a VERY large amount in the first month off of a new novel. All of us started in 2014.

She kept making very strange and wild claims that you could only make a small income if you had the marketing budget of a trad publisher (which was nonsense, because trad pub barely markets), or that "author" was now synonymous with "erotica writer", and she'd never sully her hands!!!!!
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We reassured her that there was plenty of money to be made without writing a single sex scene, ever, but she kept talking about how erotic romance was the only career path, and she'd never take it.

At that point, I went and read Russell Blake's Amazing blog post again.
While most of the top earners are in romance or one of its offshoots, others are in science fiction, which voraciously consumes indie work; some are in my genre (action thrillers), some in mystery, some in fantasy.
I'm not going to tell anybody that it's really easy to be a self-published author who makes a good living, because it's not. But I've also seen people who started in the very early days tell people "It's harder than ever to start now!"...back at the end of 2014, when the ebook world was a place of ample opportunity and money raining everywhere, money you could have if you had the foresight to bring a bucket. It's still a fresh world full of opportunity if you just know when it will rain. Some of the old authors, Jasinda Wilder and Liliana Hart, are floundering in the new system. They've got extra attention from iBooks and they've made millions, but they've switched their focus away from book writing. Jasinda sold books to Berkley so that they would take over the marketing side of things. Jasinda is running a vineyard now, and Liliana seems to be running SilverHart at the moment, though, again, I can't imagine that her actual focus is selling books, because the ranks of SilverHart's acquired books are pretty abysmal. She's still hitting the NYT with her own books upon launch, but a lot of that is because of how many readers she acquired back when the self-publishing world was new.

Bigger Fish
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Making $50k a year is only $4167 a month. I recognize that it's not that easy to make a ton of money in genres outside of the ones that Russell listed, but there are plenty of us who make a decent living inside of those genres. When I see people who are making $100,000+ per month inside of romance, I know that I can definitely work harder and do better. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth as the KU 1 rate steadily dropped, but some people (who ignored the angry authors screaming, "We deserve to be paid more!") cashed in and made six figures a month, month after month. The world changed when KU 2 happened.

On Feb. 1, Amazon announced KENPC v 2.0.

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AI3QMVN4FMTXJ
We released KENPC v2.0 to improve the way we measure the length of each book. KENPC v2.0 makes a number of improvements to how we standardize font, line height, and spacing used to normalize the length of each book relative to one another. This change will impact the KENPC of some titles while others will remain unchanged. The average KENPC will change less than 5%, although individual books’ changes may be larger or smaller.
Very few people saw a change less than 5% overall. I saw decreases of 25%+ or more and in some cases increases of 50% in my books. Feb. 1 was a strange day. Most people lost 10-25% of their KENPC across the board.

And then on Feb. 15, the rate of $0.0041 per page read was announced. There was a massive outcry. We were upset when it fell below half a cent, and then it got even worse.

Being an author who uses KU is not for the faint of heart. There will be constant, major shifts. We are like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up the hill, only for it to break at the top. And that's just how it's going to be from now on, ever after.

Amanda M. Lee said:
Add me to the group who wants to write for love of the job AND who wants to get paid. I feel really bad for the reader in this thread because she was treated as if her opinion didn't matter. If that were true, none of us would have careers. She never once, however, said writers deserved less money. If you heard that, clean your ears out. She said why she believed borrows and buys were different -- and they are.
The simple fact of the matter is that paying the same amount to borrow books as buying them makes zero sense from a business standpoint. Take your emotions out of the conversation and look at it as Amazon does. Quite frankly paying out the same for a borrow as a buy is unreasonable, unfeasible and unsustainable. It cannot work. Period. If that's what you want and expect you should get out now. KU is not for you and never was.
Now, granted, I believe the graft has been skewing payouts for months. It's not going to magically disappear, although it will get better. This isn't going to be the last time they adjust KENPC either. Get ready, because it's going to happen over and over. If you can't handle it now you won't be able to handle it then. Get out.
Amazon doesn't owe anyone a living. They are not your employers. We are their suppliers. The cost of doing business on that playing field always changes, no matter the job description.
I have books that are pushed wide, and they earn basically nothing. Rosalind James and Annie Jocoby scoffed at people who went wide for 2 weeks and then pulled back in -- stay out for 6 months, then you'll see! -- but I've been out since they announced KU 2, and the money just isn't there. I've also been part of an anthology that was a Top 50 book at Kobo for a week or so, and I know how many sales it takes to get there: very, very few.

Let's define "great money" as $50k+/month. Some authors are making great money on iBooks, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, etc. Even more are making great money on Amazon. If you make a lot of money there, though, it can melt away without any notice.
Last edited by cimorene12 on Sun Mar 13, 2016 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by jennypenny » Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:16 am

Amazon's pub houses (like Thomas and Mercer) and other traditional publishers routinely recruit from the best-selling indie authors, which constantly lowers the income stats for self-published authors.

KU is a promotional tool for Kindles, nothing more. I'm not sure why authors put anything into it except maybe the first book in a series or older books that don't sell much anymore.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:59 am

jennypenny wrote:Amazon's pub houses (like Thomas and Mercer) and other traditional publishers routinely recruit from the best-selling indie authors, which constantly lowers the income stats for self-published authors.
Definitely true, although I think that hybrids generally are counted both ways.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:04 pm

How quitting my corporate job for a startup worked out
That article actually has a clickbait-y title, so I'm rephrasing it. Mark Cuban linked it.

Entrepreneurship isn't for people who love stability and having a steady paycheck. It doesn't work like that. The variation in income is extreme. I remember a PF question that went: would you choose $80k per year paid in a paycheck every 2 weeks or $110k paid at any point during the year? And Guardians chose $80k while Rationals (NTs) chose $110k.

That article pointed out that you need a lot of runway, because you're going to hit unexpected expenses. I'm very glad that I saved as much money as I did before I left the old company.

I'm still REALLY glad that I quit. My first boss at the old company (the one that I loved, if you read the beginning of this journal) just checked on my LinkedIn. I tried to see my work history through her eyes. I don't have my company listed on my LinkedIn unless I specifically think someone is looking there (like when I apply by connecting to my LinkedIn), so my title just says entrepreneur. The name of my company is obviously a tip-off for what I do.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:00 am

2016 Hugo Award Finalists
Here's John Scalzi commenting on the Hugo Awards this year, totally neglecting to mention the funniest part: Chuck Tingle made it onto the ballot for best short story. Chuck immediately responding by writing a story.

Russell Blake on Mark Dawson's Podcast
Read the transcript or listen to it, whichever. It's amazing. It's full of interesting information. Russell is one of the most business-oriented authors out there, and he's vocal about making smart business decisions.

Calendar Girl TV show
Meredith Wild and Waterhouse are setting the world on fire. She's also making really smart business decisions. Calendar Girl got optioned.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu May 12, 2016 2:38 pm

Income Variation
Sometimes I re-read my journal and just marvel at how much my life has changed in the past 18+ months. I know now that leaving was absolutely the right choice, but it was pretty scary at the time. I know that if I had stayed, I would've had pretty much the same life that I had up until I left. I would've stayed in the same apartment, bought groceries at Copps and Target, gone to church in the same place... I had a good enough life in Wisconsin, but it's not as great as the one that I have now.

I keep reading Felix Dennis' book. He talks about being a maverick (even though that's not the word he uses). He says that it's easy to be addicted to a regular paycheck. Even when I left, I still had a regular paycheck.

Honestly? It's pretty terrifying to go through a lot of income variation. But my job is still quite a bit better than my old job where I was constantly miserable.

I used to spend a lot of time using Networthify and the other calculators to see when I could retire, watching that number go down as I earned more money. But I don't do that anymore. I have a job, which, if it lasts, can be my life-long career.

The switch from KU1 to KU2 (and the upcoming KU3, whatever it ends up being) was really hard. It derailed a lot of people. But learning how to be successful in the new system just took a few months, and then it was pretty much the same game. I read Reality is Broken, which makes a case for gamifying more things. KU1 was a very fun game until it ended. Learning the rules of KU2 was not easy. And there's going to be another reset when KU3 comes out in July. But now I'm a little more accustomed to having my income go down the drain, and I'm ready to work within whatever system they devise next.
Great Money
cimorene12 wrote:Let's define "great money" as $50k+/month. Some authors are making great money on iBooks, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, etc. Even more are making great money on Amazon.
jennypenny wrote: KU is a promotional tool for Kindles, nothing more. I'm not sure why authors put anything into it except maybe the first book in a series or older books that don't sell much anymore.
I've been thinking about that exchange a lot. The reason why authors put books into KU is because it's simple to make over 50k or 100k a month with relatively little spending. If that didn't sound attractive, then we'd all be wide. Rosalind James doesn't consistently earn over 100k per month, but she estimates that staying wide would've cost her a minimum of $250k.
Meanwhile I would have lost at least 250k in borrows income and bonuses that costs me very little to get. (Pathetically, I made more in bonuses this month than I did from all non-Amazon vendors my last month wide.)
She was wide for a half year before she went back in with the advent of KU2. Rosalind James, no matter how many times she says that she's not a big seller, is one of the people who has done very well both in KU1 and KU2. She's earned over a million dollars from her books since starting in 2012.

There are people like Meredith Wild, Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, etc. who definitely should be wide and stay wide, because there's no real benefit for them if they are Amazon exclusive. If you're earning 11k a month inside of KU and would earn 1k total from all vendors including Amazon if you were wide, then the math points to enrolling your books in KU. It's a choice between being paid 132k per year or 12k per year. Unless you are an enormous fish earning 8 figures like Bella Andre, KU is something that you have to seriously consider. There are many drawbacks, but the money that they wave around is irresistible for mid-list authors.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:32 pm

Unutterable Rubbish
Some people just don’t see why people should self-publish at all. Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.” He ranted on by saying, “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment."
A lot of the claims made in the article that's linked on the Passive Voice are really funny. PG didn't say much beyond a sarcastic retort, but it's silly. The article says that ebooks are declining due to indie authors, which is funny.

May 2016 Author Earnings
For some people, the different between hobbyists and entrepreneurs is annual revenue 5 figures or up.
The May 2016 Author Earnings Report, which looked at daily earnings for every book on May 5, included this report:
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I'm included in the authors who have debuted in the last 3 years (May 5, 2013 and onward). It's shocking how relatively few people there are making $10k+ per year who started in the last three years.

Now, $10k per year is more than enough to live off of if you have Jacob-level skill. If you spend about what MMM does, $25k is generally enough.
Image

The graph says that there are fewer than 1000 authors making that kind of money, but it seems so incredibly low.
Here are the authors earning $100k+
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Less than 300 who debuted in the last 3 years? It seems like a really small number. Sometimes I get caught up looking at people like Amanda M. Lee, who is going to make seven figures this year, and Boyd Craven, who makes about $20k/month (article), that I forget that there are authors who don't get newspaper articles because they aren't making that kind of money. They dropped Selena Kitt from that particular article, but here's an excerpt from her interview with Playboy.
But when the Kindle came along, she started making ten times that on Amazon alone. Since 2008 she’s sold two million books; for a while she was making $750,000 a year.
There are times when I feel like a failure for not making a half mil a year like everyone else, and I think that it keeps me hungry. There's a big gap between perception and reality, because I feel like I'm surrounded by people who make a whole lot more than I do, which I am, but it's a small subsection of self-published authors.

TS Paul
Here's an interview with him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgQDZMIKr4c
I would not recommend listening to it, but the information there is pretty fascinating. He started in February and he's probably going to hit $8,333.34+ in June ($100k over 12 months is ~$8,333.34 per month), which is the six-figure level. He may have hit that in May.

If you take a look at his catalogue, it's exactly what Andrew Franklin would call "unutterable rubbish." Editing problems, formatting problems, cover problems...and it just doesn't matter. You can make $100k a year off of a catalogue of regularly released clean sci-fi serial installments which are poorly edited and poorly formatted. He only has ebooks, so he doesn't have any print or audiobook sales.

If the barrier is that low, then why aren't there more than 300 people making that kind of cash?

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by FBeyer » Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:17 pm

cimorene12 wrote:...
I used to spend a lot of time using Networthify and the other calculators to see when I could retire, watching that number go down as I earned more money. But I don't do that anymore. I have a job, which, if it lasts, can be my life-long career.
...
Congratulations! You've un-jobbed.

Now get ready for the silly questions: Amazon seems like something you'd want to stay clear of in terms of revenue, but Amazon also seems like a very good place to promote your book or reach a very large audience. How have you managed/how are are you managing that particular issue?

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:45 pm

FBeyer wrote:Amazon seems like something you'd want to stay clear of in terms of revenue
Why? Because they hunt us like cheetahs hunt sickly gazelles?
From The Everything Store:
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FBeyer wrote:but Amazon also seems like a very good place to promote your book or reach a very large audience. How have you managed/how are are you managing that particular issue?
Yup, it's a good place to reach a very large audience.

Hugh Howey says:
If you were an author and you had to choose between 1,000,000 sales to readers in the state of Illinois and 100,000 sales to readers all around the world, which would you take?
When it comes to business decisions, I do whatever maximizes my revenue as a publisher within my own ethical limits. I used to think that meant that I was Amazon exclusive forever, but I found money elsewhere, too, which is really great.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 1:29 pm

JLCollinsNH's Book
I was astonished to find JL Collins wrote a recommended book when I was in the Business & Money section of KU, just browsing. I've cracked it open and read a few chapters. It seems to be a polished version of his blog, with some of his blog posts recycled as chapters. There are tons of positive reviews, and it's doing very well at $9.99, so that was awesome to see. Mr. Money Mustache did the foreword.

Romancing the Data
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It's worth going through the whole thing. On some slides, Data Guy acknowledges that the data is for pen names, not actual authors. Many successful romance authors have more than one pen name. Still, it's interesting to see how relatively few people are earning $10,000-$1 million plus.

On SPRT, Zoe York pointed out that she had a pen name that was no great shakes on May 5, but it hit the USAT list at the end of the month. When you're an author, you see a lot of variation in income.

Rosalind James tends to go back and scrub her income data from kboards and the other places where she puts it, but I know that she made a half million in 2015. Some of that was from Amazon Crossing and some of it was from audiobooks, but I dove into the "anonymized" raw data that Data Guy made available for the May 2015 report and found her books. It's easier to look for data from an author who doesn't have a huge catalogue. The presentation says that most authors don't have that many books, but again, that's per pen name. Unless you're Milly Taiden, a lot of authors leave older pen names behind and move onto greener pastures.
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With the authordailyrevenue value of the books that I found with her author name, she would qualify as one of the fewer than 300 indie authors in the $100k-$250k category. That's nothing to sneeze at -- a quarter million a year is quite good -- but I think that she was underestimated. She had a book come out later that month, and I think that if the spider had run on her release day, it would've found something quite different.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:39 am

It's been ages since I posted here. I moved to another country, New Zealand. Last night, I went out with some author friends. One of them was recommending that I get a car.

One of the reasons why I chose Auckland was for its transit system. They have integrated their bus, train, and ferry services admirably.

I've been getting my news from Facebook outrage (both sides of the aisle), which I know is dangerous. I went and dug into my actual news from my neglected RSS feed. I read MMM's discussion about urban planning. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/02/ ... appy-city/

It made me think about the life I wanted to have. It's impractical in a lot of America to travel by bike and car. In certain areas, it's viable. I was in Boston a few months ago and adored how close everything was. Outside of the US, I rely on public transit.

I met someone who came over from France and lived in her car, traveling up and down NZ. I'm not that keen or eager to live in my car.

The cost of living here is fairly high. If I tried, I could spend less. But I'm definitely having a little bit of culture shock.

Some of it is great, like the integration of Maori during Mass. Other stuff is bewildering but really interesting once I get it figured out.

Kiwis have been very kind to me for the most part. Finding housing here has been very difficult.

There's a shortage. Part of it is due to university students. But many people are moving to Auckland. It's not only people like me, who are coming on a year-long visa. New Zealand has pretty open borders.

A lot of my author friends are definitely looking over the fence. It's not practical to try to move to New Zealand in certain circumstances. Pets, for example, complicate matters. But there are other countries in the world where Americans can go. Because most of us are location independent, we are very mobile. Buck isn't an author, but he's an engineer who felt comfortable with his wife becoming the breadwinner. http://bucking-the-trend.com He documented the steps to move to Spain, which aren't that easy, but it's possible to go.

I visited Spain and Morocco in October. Madrid was more fun than Valencia. Toledo is a tiny, sleepy town that's within easy distance of Madrid. I could be happy living in Spain for 3 months if I didn't want to jump through a million hoops. I'm somewhat familiar with the five flags concept, but I feel like it would be a lot of upheaval. Things get complicated when you're American. Anyway, I'd prefer to stick to one or two countries per year, rather than move constantly.

If I stay in NZ for 183 or more days this year, I'll have to pay tax. The next move might be to somewhere in Europe. Australia is possible.

I don't want to spark a ton of political debate in my journal, but I thought that there was a possibility of turning around and going home in a month. With everything that has happened in the past few weeks, it's been clear that I'm not coming home in the near future.
Last edited by cimorene12 on Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:23 pm

Thanks for the update. Glad things are going well! Have fun in NZ.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Dragline » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:45 pm

I have a niece that recently spent about six months in New Zealand and loved it. She learned some woodworking there and then returned to Alaska and was last seen leading tours to the Mendenhall Glacier. I have never been, but intend to go at some point. Have a great time!

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 6:15 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote:Thanks for the update. Glad things are going well! Have fun in NZ.
Thanks :)
Dragline wrote:I have a niece that recently spent about six months in New Zealand and loved it. She learned some woodworking there and then returned to Alaska and was last seen leading tours to the Mendenhall Glacier. I have never been, but intend to go at some point. Have a great time!
Thank you. It's a beautiful place. So cool to hear about your niece! A few weeks ago, I went to Te Henga/Bethells Beach, which is on the Tasman Sea. There's a little black sand on the top of normal sand. Wikipedia is telling me:
These sands contain quantities of black titanomagnetite derived from the volcanic rocks of Taranaki and carried north by coastal currents.
Image
Image
It feels like a different world down here.

NZ was a someday thing for me, too, until the day that I submitted my visa application. A lot of people come here for their honeymoons for a once in a lifetime experience.

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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:44 am

Selling Freedom
Has anyone noticed that most of the advertising directed at Americans with money involves escape totems? Powerful automobiles, boats, planes, motorcycles, vacation homes in faraway places...all representing escape from the everyday reality, and wind in the hair freedom. Even frigging wedding photos feature barefoot couples in carefully posed beach getaways - presumably because barefoot equates to carefree, and carefree is free.
What does it say about our psyches that the most profitable pitches are escape and freedom? What is our everyday like if escape and freedom are the ideals?
I'm no psychoanalyst, but it seems like successful Americans desperately crave what they're deprived of: escape, and freedom. That's fascinating given that America is a place past generations escaped to, and bills itself as the land of the free. My observation is it's hard to sell fire insurance to people who live in brick homes, because they have no desire for it and see no need.
What does it say about a culture if the most successful members are pitched escape and freedom - something they clearly see a need for, and desire more than just about anything? Would one not reasonably infer they feel imprisoned and confined, rigidly controlled? Surrounded with myriad rules for everything, and freedom is desirable because it leaves all that behind?
Just a rambling thought from a guy who needs nothing but another shot at present.
Russell Blake talks a lot on his Facebook. When I read that post today, I thought about ERE.

Tim Ferriss is selling that same idea of freedom and has been very successful with it. Jacob is pitching another kind of freedom (mostly without selling anything). I went in and logged into the MMM forums and found out that arebelspy quit his job as a teacher years ago and has been traveling the world ever since.
http://www.adventuringalong.com/

LitRPG
The Ready Player One movie is coming out next year and there's definitely a surge in LitRPG. Authors are getting ready and the audience is voracious. It's been around for a bit, but people are catching the wave as it rises. I read RPO when it was seeing a lot of attention related to the advent of Pokemon Go.

Here's a long and not particularly exciting podcast focusing on Michael Chatfield, formerly a military scifi author and now apparently a LitRPG author: http://pwspodcast.com/wp/index.php/2017 ... chatfield/

Here's a brief discussion of his income on kboards.
1) Do you make a living? What range? Eg six figures? Mid? Low? High five?
I made mid fives last year (first year). This year I'm projected to be messing around in the near or low six figures.

2) is this income your only income? i.e. Spouse with income? Regular pension? Savings until you make the midlist?
I just finished a five year stint with the military and doing university. Now writing is my only job.

3) what genre do you write in? Are you series or stand alones? How many books and when did you see the biggest change?

Military Science fiction and Space Opera. I have one series out but a new one starting in a month! Biggest change was book three, earned three months of pay with book 1 and 2 in a week.

I only use my actual name, never been really into using other names to create my brand.

5) If you had to start all over again, what would you do? Different genre? Lilianna? This is just a throwaway question, but I always love the answers.

Better advertisements! And get my social media guy on sooner, I'm terrible with Facebook and Twitter. Getting someone else to take over those facets as I focused on writing.
I'm not well equipped to write LitRPG. I think that you have to have substantial experience with RPG before you try to write something in that genre.

But when you hit the right spot, readers will run after you on the street trying to tuck cash into your pockets. There are plenty of people in my life who would definitely read LitRPG. My nephew spends probably 50% or more of his non-school time playing Portal, Halo, and other games.

The concept of quests themselves are a big part of books in general and fantasy in particular. The fourth Harry Potter is about a big tournament, and the final task is where you have to literally go through a maze, defeat monsters, and try to find a trophy. The seventh book is about trying to find the three Deathly Hallows.
Patrick Rothfuss on Infocom games:

“They called it ‘interactive fiction,’ and it was absolutely interactive fiction. You read the text, and you took actions, and your actions influenced the games. And one of these games, Zork III, I played with my friend Chad, in like the sixth grade. We started in sixth grade and we played that game for two years before we solved it. … It was pre-internet. It was vastly pre-internet. We had no answers and no way to get them. … When I talk to the brilliant people in my generation — people doing things, telling stories, making things, they played Infocom games. Neil Gaiman played Infocom games, Terry Pratchett played Infocom games, Felicia Day played Infocom games, and they were all frustrated, and they all spent months trying to get the frickin’ Babel Fish in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
https://www.wired.com/2014/10/geeks-gui ... -rothfuss/

Jim Butcher:
I’ve just been running roleplaying campaigns in it for the past many years. Which is great, because I’ll pick another part of the world and I’ll have some vague idea of what it looks like. Then I’ll start running the campaign there, and of course if you’ve got player characters they never do what you expect them to do – they never do the smart thing. They do the thing that seems appropriate to them based on what they know. So then I feel like I’m frantically running ahead of them with a load of lumber, canvas and paint, building these sets six feet in front of them just before they open the door. It’s a good creative exercise which has helped me get this world established in my brain.
http://archeddoorway.com/2013/04/12/int ... m-butcher/

Happiness and Videogames
Most of the blame for the struggle of male, less-educated workers has been attributed to lingering weakness in the economy, particularly in male-dominated industries such as manufacturing. Yet in the new research, economists from Princeton, the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago say that an additional reason many of these young men — who don't have college degrees — are rejecting work is that they have a better alternative: living at home and enjoying video games. The decision may not even be completely conscious, but surveys suggest that young men are happier for it.

“Happiness has gone up for this group, despite employment percentages having fallen, and the percentage living with parents going up."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/won ... 64ed73b078

I had a semi-heated discussion with someone about the idea that a lot of young men are living at home and spending a lot of time playing video games. I personally don't have a problem with it.

The WaPo does:
While young men might temporarily enjoy a life of leisure, the implications could be troubling for them as well as the economy. The young men aren’t gaining job experience that will better equip them to work in their 30s and 40s. That, in turn, could lead to a lifetime of decreased wages, limited opportunities and challenges such as depression and drug use — problems that the United States is already seeing in areas hit with heavy job losses.
I'm pretty sure I've said before in my journal that I'm a fan of universal basic income. I'm totally okay with young men deciding to opt out of the labor force and just play video games if that's what they want to do. Someone was saying to me that guys had to DO something and not just play games all day -- but again, I don't have a problem with it. If someone wants to do something else, they're still fully capable of doing that.

Example: Brandon Turner of Bigger Pockets http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/03/ ... nt-page-2/
I wasn’t loaded. I had simply surpassed my moderate amount of expenses with passive income. I didn’t have the money to live a life of ridiculous travel or buy myself a nice yacht to cruise around the islands with (though I don’t think that would make me any happier.) I simply had enough money not to work anymore. In other words – I had just enough money to wait around for death. I felt like I was living at a nursing home, but without the sterile walls and bed pans.

Granted, I don’t have children at this point so I can’t say how things would be different if I were raising some youngin’s, though my three cats definitely kept my busy. Okay, that’s a lie. My three cats took naps with me and I had to clean a litter box every few days. Okay, that’s a lie also – I just had to remind my wife that the litter box was in need of changing and I’d get back to the game. But when you have nothing to do, even the easiest, most mundane tasks seem overwhelming. In the words of Jim Gaffigan, “you mean I actually have to point the remote control?!”
There are a lot of experiments being done right now with UBI and I think that Brandon's story is sort of typical - the kind of person who has the initiative to earn, save, and invest money will end up sitting on a pile of cash while still having the same drive. And they'll end up doing something else, whether it's volunteering every day or grabbing a job as Brandon did.
As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.
A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”
Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”
“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”
“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”
The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:
“And where do you think you are?”
http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2015/12/11/i ... e-in-hell/

When it comes down it, it's hard to convince humans to be totally idle. We don't retire and then sit and stare at a wall all day. At some point, you get antsy enough to get out and do stuff. If we want to make staying at home and playing videogames all day a viable option for American citizens, that's cool.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:37 pm

Frugal Kiwis
One of the strangest parts of being in NZ is that people are more frugal than I am. People cook their own dinners here, so I feel like most restaurants are deserted. Even when a restaurant is bursting, it's six people in line trying to get sushi takeaway. Totally serious.

When I was traveling on the North Island, one of the most common responses to me talking about Auckland was how expensive it was to live there. Honestly, Wellington was more expensive than Auckland. I looked up apartments/flats for rent and Auckland prices are pretty much the same as they are in Rotorua, Taupo, or Wellington. Buying a house is something else entirely, but renting is the same pretty much throughout New Zealand.

Frugal Nomads
Being around other twenty-somethings who spend less money than I do has been really weird. Back home in America, I'm the boring one who'd rather stay at home and my friends tease me about saving and investing money. When it comes to young travelers, they're always trying to stretch their money as far as it will go. Whereas I feel ultra-spendy, just splashing cash around everywhere. If I were trying to travel for as little money as possible, I'd do the house-sitting stuff that other people have done. And I'd actually plan my itinerary instead of grabbing the next thing going that direction.

I was staying in an Airbnb with a really beautiful German girl. Her last night in Nelson, she decided to stay in a hostel for half the price per night of an Airbnb. I went over there for some drinks, and the vibe was just like it was when I was in Ecuador. Everyone was kind of a penniless adventurer, trying to figure out how to get around without spending much money, because when they ran out, they'd have to go home.

Jacob talks about substituting skill for money. Here's the most popular walk at Franz Josef, 5.4 km round trip.
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recrea ... ivitypanel

The head of all the Franz Josef trails is 4-5 km outside of town, depending on where you start. Is is possible to walk 15.4 km in a day? Oh, yeah. I saw a lot of people going down the path on the side of the highway to walk to and from the glacier.

I was lazy. I paid a total of $12.50 NZD ($9.07 USD at current exchange rates) for a bus to drive me 5 km there and 5 km back. I was much happier than if I'd walked the entire way to and from the glacier. I was the only passenger, so it was kind of like getting a really cheap taxi.

Spending less than $10 USD made me feel like I was in the lap of luxury. And I also felt some guilt for splashing money on something that I could clearly do myself, albeit in a time consuming way. The route on the highway is not scenic. It's lined with trees, so it's not like a breathtaking mountaintop vista or anything.

I haven't been carefully frugal for this trip, and seeing the contrast between my ultra-spendy habits and the ERE-ish levels of other travelers was really interesting.

Spendy Travelers
Spendy is really relative. Because in the past few weeks, I've also heard from people planning on taking a helicopter to Franz Josef, the only method to actually go on the glacier. It costs $429 NZD per person. And they were a party of four.
http://www.glacierhelicopters.co.nz/heli-hike/

Obviously, I feel pretty frugal in contrast with those people. I can't pat myself on the back too much, but at least I'm not spending thousands per week. I'm not using the cheapest possible method to travel, but I'm not spending loads of money on helicopter rides, either. I took a bus to and from Milford Sound from Queenstown instead of flying in a plane.
http://www.airmilford.co.nz/milford-sound-flights.html

I think the amount of money you can spend just really differs based on how convenient you want things to be. Maybe if you're in NZ for a week and really just want to spend as much cash as you can, flying around in helicopters and planes is a prudent maximization of your time. But for the people my age, the cost of a helicopter ride represents almost 18 nights of lodging.

MDFIRE2024
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:25 am

I like to read about your travel experiences to NZ, because it is on my travel wish list. Interesting that there are many "Frugal Kiwis"", as you call them. :-) Do you stay longer? Or is it a vacation for some weeks?

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:44 am

MDFIRE2024, I've been in New Zealand since January. I'm flying to Australia tomorrow. I can see, from your journal, that you're German. I've met quite a few Germans in New Zealand. NZ seems to be a very popular destination for Germans (and for some reason French people, too).

I bought a bus+ferry pass, but if I were traveling with someone else who was comfortable driving on mountain roads, I think I'd buy a car. A lot of the Europeans I've met buy a car when they land and drive through the whole country. The German girl I referenced above paid around 2,000 EUR for her car, which she'll be able to sell when she leaves the country. I've been told that buying and selling cars is absurdly easy in NZ, but I can't speak from personal experience. When you reach FIRE, NZ is a nice place to take a slow trip through. It's a pretty long flight. I don't think that the people who spend two weeks in the country (as Americans do because of our limited vacation time) can really do it justice. When I was in Hobbiton, I met an American couple on their honeymoon. They'd gotten married in Hawaii and spent their honeymoon in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. They told me that they wished they'd spent the entirety of their time on the South Island because the North Island wasn't as great. After being on the South Island, I can say that the scenery is better down here. A lot of Kiwis never visit the South Island because the cost of traveling to the South Island is comparable to the cost of visiting Thailand or Vietnam and a lot of people prefer to leave the country rather than tour the South Island.

MDFIRE2024
Posts: 350
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:19 pm

Interesting. So you have been there for five to six months. Sounds great. Someday I wanna do it also. NZ is on my Ultimate-lifes-adventure-list.
Though, I have been to Australia for 3 months. Surfed there for a month in Byron Bay and Yamba. It was so great. Totally liked it.
Have fun in Australia!

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:14 am

Thanks! I'm in Cairns right now. New Zealand's South Island is a wonderful place to be during their summer, the Northern Hemisphere's winter. From comments made by bus drivers, it sounds like everything is also way more crowded then, too.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:22 pm

It’s strange to be a regular tourist next to the ultra-wealthy Chinese tourists who throw a lot of money around. I was on a boat where about half the people were Chinese. Half the crew spoke both English and Chinese. The attention to detail when it came to catering to the Chinese luxury trade was really good. Most of the signs were in both English and Chinese. Announcements were in both languages. There were separate scuba and snorkel tours for Chinese speakers.

The hugest thing for me was legit Chinese food. It was a simple beef curry, nothing really remarkable, but it tasted like what beef curry should taste like. They had jasmine rice. A lot of the food was standard Australian (if we were in America, I’d call it American) food like penne with mushrooms, chicken, and spinach. There were three different kinds of salad, fruit for dessert, and a big meat/seafood platter. At the end, you could get forks and knives or chopsticks. Most of the Chinese people got rice, curry, and a HUGE amount of salad.

It was kind of like being transported back to Beijing. I don’t speak great Mandarin, but I have a little bit left over from my single semester of it in college (at uni, as they say down here). I studied abroad in Beijing, where my Mandarin definitely improved, although I couldn’t read anything since I’d been taught Traditional and everything was in Simplified. All my classes were in English with professors who’d gotten a master’s or PhD in an English speaking country.

It was kind of confusing to look like the Chinese tourists but not be able to speak very much. Some of them spoke English and others didn’t. One of the sentences I still remember how to say is “Wǒ bù shuō zhōngwén”, which I used on that boat.

They paid as much money as they could for the deluxe options. I took the more barebones approach (a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef is not cheap anyway), and I still was really happy with my time there.

I ate lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant yesterday. It was a relief to hear Vietnamese. In NZ, the chefs were Vietnamese but the servers were Chinese. At least at the single restaurant I went to in Australia, the servers spoke Vietnamese. Not only that, but it was Vietnamese that I could understand (Southern Vietnamese from the 1970s). Vietnamese has evolved in the last 40 years and Northern is now the standard dialect, so my parents sometimes have trouble understanding people who still live in Vietnam. There’s a big immigrant community here because Australia accepted and still accepts refugees. On the South Island, I met refugees in New Zealand as well who were being helped by the Red Cross. NZ's borders are more open than Australia's, but neither of them have taken as many Syrian refugees as Canada.

When I was graduating from college, I wanted to spend up to a year doing volunteer work with Volunteers For Peace. I wanted to work with refugees, but I ended up just getting a normal job. I'm in a master's program now and one of my guest lecturers last semester was Nahuel Arenas from Oxfam, who taught all of us about the current refugee crisis.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:57 pm

I read a blog post by Rosalind James today about writing books that stick instead of ones that boom and bust (my books). http://www.rosalindjames.com/romance-am ... that-last/

A lot of us (I'm talking about authors I rub elbows with) write a novel which makes $8k-$60k (gross, not net - profit is a different story) in the first month, and then a little less in the second month, and even less in the third. From then on, it makes $10-$100 per month if you're lucky. I am friends with people who kick out a gigantic 80k+ novel every six weeks, rain or shine, sickness or health, dying cats notwithstanding because we're on a treadmill and we know that our books have a limited shelf life. Publish or perish, as they say in academia.

I also have friends whose books make them $10k per book every month despite being published years and years ago. It's just a fundamentally different mindset. You don't gun for the Top 100 at $0.99 to move as many units as you can on Day 1. If your book is priced at $3.99 and you get ~$2.80 per sale, you need to move ~3571 units per month of that book or 119 units per day. I don't write books that can move 119 daily units at $3.99 ad infinitum, but there are definitely genres where you can.

(Aside: ebook prices have been rising. $4.99 has been emerging as the best price for wide authors. Slide 55 from the Smashwords' data analysis.
Image)

Doing so requires sinking an absolute fortune into advertising (I'm talking about my former software annual salary spent per month) and spending a lot of time on marketing.

Rosalind is the second kind of author. She's talking about writing books that hit you (as Taylor Swift says) like an arrow through the heart.
cimorene12 wrote:
Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:14 pm
http://online.wsj.com/articles/for-tayl ... 1404763219

I just read an op-ed by Taylor Swift on the future of the music industry (you may need to Google the title to get past the WSJ paywall). The news is saying that Taylor is going to get a platinum album in the first week, and it's possibly the last one ever! Even though this is silly sensationalism, there's a grain of truth in it. It's true that music sales are down. Artists are making a lot of money doing live performances. She's careful not to put her music on Spotify in the beginning. A quick Youtube search for her music shows that her team is hot on the heels of anyone putting up her songs there. There are covers and videos with the audio track muted due to copyright violations.
Arrows Through the Heart
In mentioning album sales, I'd like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they're buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone. It isn't as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.

There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people's lives forever. The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships. Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to). Some songs and albums represent seasons of our lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.

However, some artists will be like finding "the one." We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one my father has with the Beach Boys and the one my mother has with Carly Simon.
[snip]
Authors
Patrick Rothfuss and Holes in Guts
His review of John Green's Looking for Alaska:
After I finished this book, I went to her and asked, "Are all of John Green's books going to leave me feeling like I've had a hole kicked straight through my guts?"
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/895910546
I've written some books that are stickier than others. My most successful fantasy book and contemporary book have one thing in common. Thing is, when you tear your readers' guts out, you tear your own out even more brutally. My favorite Ed Sheeran song on multiply/x is Afire Love, about his grandfather having Alzheimer's and dying. My favorite song on divide is Supermarket Flowers, about losing his grandmother. There's a Samantha Harvey cover of it that I like even more than Ed's version. I don't think it's perfect, performance-wise, but there's really raw emotion in it that draws you in.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsbiOefe3bU

It's hard to talk about what it feels like to watch someone you love die, and he's going to be performing that song for a whole tour and probably for years in public in front of stadiums packed with people. It's hard to be that vulnerable, but it's also what makes it good art.

cimorene12
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:56 pm

UBI and video games might be the panem et circenses of our time.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/upsh ... -good.html

cimorene12
Posts: 472
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by cimorene12 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:34 am

I'm back in the US. Life has a way of surprising you. I anticipated staying in Australia for much longer than I did. I have scratched the sixth continent off of my bucket list, though, which is great. The only one left is Antarctica.

It was strange to be around people who were frugal by necessity and not purely by choice. Jacob would not pay $5 for an overpriced latte because it's a waste of money. My buddies would not pay $5 for an overpriced latte because it genuinely wasn't affordable. (I paid $5 for an overpriced latte because I'm a spendypants.) I also met people who were far, far wealthier than I am. The Australian tax system takes a higher toll than the US system does.

What I found in NZ and Australia is that people are much more sanguine when the government takes a gigantic bite of their income. I talked to an Australian who paid 52% effective (not marginal!) tax, which horrified me. I'd expatriate at that rate, which I considered highway robbery. He wasn't that happy about it, but he also accepted it as the cost of living in Australia.

I met an Italian who was immigrating to Australia and working on obtaining his permanent residency. His description of the situation in Italy made it clear that he'd pursue his future outside of his birthplace. And he thought that Australia offered good opportunities and that the US was too hard to get into. I told him that if he wanted to immigrate to North America, he'd be better off going to Canada. It's not easy to get into Canada, but it's a lot better than the American system.

On one of the the flights back, I met an Indian guy with an MBA who worked for one of the Big 4. He was able to work under OPT after graduation, but he was doing a last hurrah in Florida before flying to Dublin and working for them there. They hadn't been able to get work authorization for him.

Most of the Australians I met assumed that I was there on a working holiday visa. There were resources available to discuss job hunting and talks about claiming your tax back as you left the country. I understood more clearly after traveling through NZ and Australia that being able to work in another country is a very big deal. I was taught by a Chinese girl that NZ permits 1k Chinese citizens to obtain working holiday visas per year while Australia permits 5k Chinese citizens to get working holiday visas. Those quotas don't exist for American citizens in NZ.
https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zea ... liday-visa

I doubt that I'd settle permanently in Australia, although maybe someday I'll eat my words, since I didn't want to experience the Melbourne winter and that's where I'd be most likely to move to due to my connections there. Kiwis are substantially more friendly than Aussies.

French Fracture
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/el ... h-fracture

I'm still chewing on the viewpoints and information presented in that article. It explicitly mentions Richard Florida's work (although it had the normal anti-elitism pushback) and made me think very hard about productive members of society. The Italian that I met was a plumber, which was a skill that was in demand in Australia. After passing his technical tests, he was working on passing his English language ones.

Skilled occupations: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/18 ... ions-lists

The article makes a lot of big claims. I don't know if I believe all of it, but it's very good food for thought. I thought a lot about the French political system and the ever-present chômage/unemployment. I know that it's easier to find employment in NZ than in France for the average twenty-something. The minimum wage in NZ and Australia is higher than the US (more nuances as well), and I also found that dishwashing was startlingly lucrative at $25 AUD/hour. I'm not sure precisely why it pays so well (it shocked every backpacker who heard it), but if you work 40 hours a week and 50 weeks a year, that's $50k AUD before taxes. I'm very sure that dishwashing isn't that profitable in France.

I talked to a lot of people from various countries about the American healthcare system.

Noedig
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Re: cimorene12's journal: change or die

Post by Noedig » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:25 pm

Cimorene, thanks for keeping up the posts: fact-festooned and flavoured with opinion. They are also helpful to me, stuck as I am in the stage of dreaming of release from the Perpetual Hamster Wheel of Employment. Helpful because they assist me in the part of my thoughts, which runs little simulations in my head "How would it *feel* to go to place X and do Y?" Some travelogues just don't have enough stuff for that, yours do.

Also all that weird Amazon-self-published book marketing schtick is interesting if niche, I'd not thought it could have so many moving parts under the serene surface of the Kindle. Good luck with your efforts there, thanks for explaining.

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