Social Security Application book drafted

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I’ve been working on a “how-to” book providing a walk-through of the Social Security online disability application. This was meant to be a “brief interlude” between working on the BIG Social Security Disability book which I’ve started several times, but was always a bigger project than I could satisfactorily complete. The Application book was meant to be a smaller project and chance to learn iBooks Author app.

It is now about a year later and I am finally done with the writing. The book is not done by any means. However, it is now goes on to technical editing and proof reading. Which means it is largely in other people’s’ hands for a while. This also puts me in the position of having to figure out publishing, finalizing a title, and hiring someone to design a book cover.

I am trying to break this down into segments.

  • Technical edit and cover design.
  • Final art.
  • Proofing and final edits.
  • And finally publication.

I have no idea if this is a good plan or not, since I have never done this before. However, it keeps me from being overwhelmed.

After this is done will come the conversion of the manuscript into something that will work on the much more widely used Kindle format. At present the book is heavy on screenshots. Considering Amazon’s $0.15 per megabyte “delivery charges,” under the 70% payment option, and I could easily image myself out making any money at all from this project. I could take the 35% payment with no delivery costs, but it sticks in my craw. Still, I may need to be bite the bullet and take the lower percentage to avoid the delivery fee.

Another thing that stops me in my tracks is the fear that no one may be interested in putting down cold hard cash for the book. So, I am trying to stay busy and have started a second book, which is a return to the Social Security hearing tips idea. Over the last few days, I have been working through an outline of the book. Having a skeleton in place makes me feel much more confident that I will be able to get a second book written. And, since it will not require screenshots, it will be a lot easier to distribute through a variety of channels.

photo by: holgabot*

100 Tips Update

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After a bit of a gap, I’m back to writing 100 Tips. I’m covering “Substantial Gainful Activity” and related topics.

Just like when I write on the disability blog, there is quite a bit of research involved to check my understanding and find supporting regulations and rulings. The upshot is that I am clearing out some misconceptions, fine tuning my knowledge and finding answers to questions I have had for a long time.

In other words, it is very educational, however it adds to the writing time. Still, it’s progress.
Creative Commons License photo credit: OxOx


Self Publishing for Lawyers – Building Momentum

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100Tips is Tomasz Stasiuk’s diary, journal, and escape from his attempt to write a book on 100 Social Security Hearing Tips in 100 days. You can read all the posts here.

As part of writing 100 Hearing Tips, I want to get other lawyers and the public involved. I want them to know about the book and to talk it up before and after publication. Since I have never done this, I feel a bit like I’m inventing the wheel without knowing what color it should be.

Currently, I am thinking about asking colleagues, other Social Security lawyers around the country, to provide their best tip which will be showcased in the book along with their contact information.

I am also considering doing something for the public by asking them to provide their best tips based on their experience with Social Security.

So far… that’s it. Any ideas?

100 Tips – Day 3 Scrivener vs Urulan FIGHT FIGHT!

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The beginning is a difficult time…

Yeah, no shit Princess Urulan! The, umm, idea to write a tip a day is proving difficult. The idea was to have a deadline that would force me to write. Which is a good thing. The problem is that this isn’t how I write.

The idea of sticking to this one day’s tip alone sounds good. Write an introduction, summarize the rule… oh noes, law school flashback: ISSUE, RULE, ANALYSIS, CONCLUSION – IRAC!

Wow! I’ve heard that law school can stay dormant in your fat cells for decades only to surface an inappropriate moments. I just never thought it would happen to me.

Anyhow, idea of a tip-a-day schedule as a prod to writing is fine. However in practice, I am finding that I work better writing in sections. Today, I entered all the tip ideas into Scrivener, set up the following screen format: Read the rest of this entry »

100 Tips – Day 2 Recursive Writing

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Yellow 22

100Tips is Tomasz Stasiuk’s diary, journal, and escape from his attempt to write a book on 100 Social Security Hearing Tips in 100 days. You can read all the posts here

Resistance Watch

Today was about contact lenses and a discrete bag for the Macbook Air. Mostly.

I think of myself as being decisive. When I decide to do something, I usually do it. I thought about getting contact lenses again (for the first time since ~1991) over the weekend, when the family went up to Indian Hot Springs. Going blurry while swimming pretty much sucks, although it also makes you less self-conscious in a swim suit. This is the opposite of calming yourself before a speech by imagining your audience naked. Here, if I can’t see other bathers, I feel much more confident that they cannot get a good look at me. Folly obviously, but it works surprisingly well.

So, for a good part of today, I was researching how contact lens have changed over 20 years (back then, they were made out wood dont-ya-know), figuring out associated costs and brand differences.

Getting back to point, being decisive may be a nice way of describing this. Another way would be “flighty.”

Beyond that was a trip to the Apple store to find a discrete bag for my 13″ MacBook Air. Yesterday, I was typing a couple of articles my iPad while the kids played at the park. I can manage writing on an iPad. However, because of the lack of multitasking, finding and copying urls is more trouble than it should be. So, I want to find a small bag to carry the Air in when working on the book. The theory being that being able to prior articles from my disability blog would make writing easier.

I also…

  • Tried to figure out whether Scrivener accepts Markdown out of the box or whether I have configure it in some way.
  • Ran “Software Update” on multiple systems.
  • And, checked to see in “ImpendingDoom” is available as a Twitter account, since making people get emails that say “ImpendingDoom is now following you” amuses me. It is taken.

So, this is what I am doing instead of writing the book.

Recursive Writing

If you are wondering when I am going to get around to discussing recursive writing? It is right now. Read the rest of this entry »

100 Tips – Day 1

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Today, June 1, 2011 is the first day of writing. I have labeled 79 tips, which means I am short by about 20. However, I expect tips to emerge naturally from writing, while other tips will merge together. I also plan on having other practitioners contribute some tips, so not having the full 100 on day 1 does not bother me.

I started writing the first tip. However it turned into an overview of the sections of the book. So, now I am going back to get that first tip written. I am trying to avoid the dull basics of “Who is eligible for Social Security” or “A historical background of Social Security.” I believe many readers are already in the system and getting nervous about an upcoming hearing. So, I do not want to bore them for three sections. I want to get straight to the “Stuff you need to know” chewy goodness.

This make me think that the overview discussing the sections of the book, which correspond to what happens at a hearing, what you should do before the hearing, and so on, is actually a pretty good first tip as well as a solid basic introduction to what to expect at the hearing as well as a roadmap on finding specific information in the rest of the book.

As far as dealing with the Resistance to writing, yeah, I’m feeling it. While I have been blogging this subject for several years now, a book feels different. I have drafted two other articles for this site, and wrangled tweeters I have been wanting to talk into a roundtable podcast on social media. Sure, that’s great! However, it is not the big project I am trying to accomplish.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Moe_

Can Lawyers Market Using Fremium Models?

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I like Cory Doctorow. He’s the Che Guevara to the geek set. Cory has proven you can make money by giving away content. If you don’t know, Cory writes science fiction (he also a co-editor of BoingBoing and Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation). Cory makes his books available for free electronically via a creative commons license and also sells dead tree editions.

I know that giving away content can be profitable. I blog about how Social Security disability works and try to demystify the interconnection between regulation. My now generates about 50% of intakes at my Colorado Social Security disability law firm.

I use blogging so people can obtain general information, establish myself as an authority in this area, and let people get to know me so they want to contact me and retain my services. It is generator. You could describe it this way:

General information is free. If you want all the pieces connected and applied to the specific circumstances of your case, hire me.

However, THATS. NOT. THE. SAME. THING. I am not giving away the exact same thing I’m selling. I am not giving away legal services.

However, could I do the same thing with this book? Read the rest of this entry »

100 Tips Update – 77 and Argh!

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Mango HaX0ring

Not actually my cat

Yesterday, I started putting together a list of the 100 tips. This was just a rough list of headings. No bodies. Just what each tip should cover. It was just a brainstorming session; just to get out as much as I could. I got to around 64 items.

Today (Saturday), after a family trip to Indian Springs West of Denver, I copied the list into Circus Ponies Notebook, then started labeling sections, and began organizing which tips should go where. Notebook is great for this since you can very easily indent, outdent, and move entries around in a outline. Plus you have separate pages, and an absolutely amazing index. Which is why I use Notebook for my master case document for each and every one of my Social Security disability cases.

Back to the project at hand. Some entries were duplicates and others were really better as sub-topics. Then, still other sections just needed to be added. I also did a pass on the introduction and the disclaimer.

So, now I am up to 77 tips. I still need 23 more so when June 1 rolls around, I can start writing a “tip” a day. I also now see that while some tips may be fairly short, many will be a few pages in length. I always preferred to boil things down and keep them light. Hence, I was not a good candidate for law review. The idea is to keep the book readable, while still providing a solid primer on SSA disability – a “what you need to know” if you will. However, even at a brief “couple” of pages per tip, doing one a day, is going to be tricky…

So, now I have a few more days to get the remaining 23 topics nailed down. A couple more runs through the list should reveal some gaps that need to be filled. Hopefully, I can cross the 100 mark. However, now it is late, and I have a cat sitting on my chest as I type this on the laptop, tapping his tail on the trackpad. Time to sign off.

Creative Commons License photo credit: slava

Self Publishing for Lawyers

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Starting June 1st, I am starting a writing project in my practice area, Social Security disability. I will be writing a book covering 100 Hearing Tips – published directly onto Kindle with a paper option through an on demand publisher. I am also shooting for 100 tips in 100 days. I know, it’s ambitious.

I have been researching and learning Mac apps to make this a doable goal. I have been using nvAlt for initial notes (synced via Simplenote to let me work on various devices). The actual organization will be done in Scrivener. I have recently become a Markdown convert — I have several articles coming up on Markdown for lawyers. I am looking at Lulu for the on demand physical copy and inclusion into Amazon.

This should be an interesting process. I will be posting here about works and what doesn’t; the ups and the downs. Frankly this endeavor has me equally excited and scared. If I fail, it will be a public failure; even if the only person I disappoint is myself.

So here goes: starting June 1, 2011, 100 Social Security Hearing Tips in 100 days begins! Wish me luck, send me your hearing tips, writing and publishing suggestions, and sandwich recipes!