Being Independent

Last night, I got to see two of my good friends whom I haven’t seen in ages.  They also happen to be independent artists.  We had a good long talk and several laughs about the self-employed life.  I realized that all the weird things I experience in my day-to-day life aren’t exclusive to authors.  All independent artists go through ups and downs on their way to establishing a career.

That conversation got me thinking, “Hey… I could write a blog post about this.”  So without further ado, here are the ten best and worst things about being an independent author/artist.

The Ten Best Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist

  1. You work for yourself! You get to work from home or wherever you want! You are your own boss! You make your own schedule! This is pretty much the best gig ever.
  2. You keep all creative and legal rights to your work.  Forever.  Done.
  3. No deadlines!  Okay, well, you need to make your own deadlines and it is VERY important that you keep them.  But still!  I’d rather set my own deadline than abide by someone else’s!
  4. You’re able to give every project the love and attention that it deserves.  This isn’t about the money for you.  You’re not looking at your manuscript and thinking, “Will this make me a lot of money?” You’re looking at it and thinking, “This is worth it no matter what, because it’s a great story.”
  5. You get the opportunity to learn a LOT.  I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be essentially running a business for myself.  I certainly never thought I’d be publishing books.  But I’ve learned and grown so much in the past two years and you know what?  I’m really proud of myself.  It’s a great feeling.
  6. Have I mentioned the royalties that you will be getting for the rest of your life?  Unlike in the traditional world, you don’t just get paid once for one book.  One book can make you money every month of every year.
  7. You get to write what you love.  You don’t have to wait for an agent’s or publisher’s approval.  If you know that you want to write a book, and you know that you can write it well, go for it.
  8. The independent community is WONDERFUL.  I’ve met so many amazing and supportive people through my career as an independent author.  You want to know these people.  And not just fellow authors.  I’ve made so many amazing friends all around the world who are book reviewers and they’re just the best.  Again, you would not believe the overwhelming love and support.
  9. You learn that nothing is impossible, that you are capable of so much more than you think you are.  Those barriers and obstacles that you think exist?  All in your mind.  Nothing is insurmountable if you set your mind to it.  Believe me.  I’ve been there.
  10. You are making your dreams come true.  And that’s incredible.

Now that I’ve made the life of an independent author seem like the bee’s knees, here are…

The Ten Worst Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist

  1. You work for yourself.  I know, that was a good thing too, but hear me out.  You have to have a LOT of self-discipline to make this work.  That’s something I’ve really struggled with.  I get distracted so easily.  I’m a procrastinator.  I can be incredibly lazy.  I get addicted to Netflix.  I’m the world’s easiest-going boss, because let’s face it, I’m not going to fire myself.  I can do whatever I want.  And that’s a really dangerous mindset to have when you’re in business for yourself, especially when you’re just starting out.
  2. The age old, “Oh, you didn’t want to go with a real publisher?” To which my response is this.
  3. Self-marketing.  I hate it.  It’s the worst.  Do I think everyone should read my books?  Of course I do.  Do I like telling people to do so?  No.  I really don’t.
  4. You wouldn’t believe how many people will come up to you and say, “I have this great idea for a book.  You should write it!”  That might not be an indie thing though.  That might just be a writer in general thing.
  5. Because you’re self-employed, you will meet people who think that you’re free all the time because “you don’t actually work.”  This is a hard one because yes, technically, you can take time off whenever you want, but you’re going to have to make the lost time up later.  Just because you work for yourself and work from home it doesn’t mean you’re not working.  In fact, you can be working all the time and you still probably wouldn’t get everything done that you wanted to.  Working for yourself is crazy hard because it’s just you.
  6. People will ask if they can buy your book at Barnes and Noble, to which the answer is, “No, but you can buy it on”  Hopefully, sometime in the near future, Barnes and Noble will stock independent books.  In fact, I think if you go through Lightning Source, they will.  But most indies are not in bookstores.  And that’s a bummer.
  7. Money.  I know I said that you’re not doing this for money, but the truth is going into business for yourself is an investment.  You need money.  I worked for two years in a dental office all the while trying to write and get my little company up and going.  And money will be tight.  For a LONG time.  I’m about to publish my fourth book and money is still tight.  But I’m hanging in there.  I’m saving and I’m investing.  Hopefully, in the long run, it will be worth it.  I think it will be.
  8. Self-Marketing gets another mention because I just really hate it.
  9. You know, I actually can’t think of anything else.
  10. Being an independent author/artist is awesome.

What do y’all think?  Did I leave anything out?

PS – Go read my books. Self-Marketing.  Blegh.

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My New Business Know-How

Lately, I’ve become addicted to a new television show.

Before I go any further, I have to tell you, this is not a new thing for me.  I have a very addictive personality.  Not that people get addicted to me, but that I get hooked on things very easily.  I guess that might be a side effect of a creative mind or something.  I don’t know.

Anyway, one of the reasons I actually don’t watch that much television is because I become so engrossed in the characters or the storyline that it kind of takes over my life.

This new show is different.  It’s nonfiction.  There’s no plot and the characters are all real people.  Technically, they’re billionaires and entrepreneurs.  That’s right.  I’m talking about Shark Tank.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s a show where people who own their own business or products go and pitch their ideas before a panel of billionaire investors (Mark Cuban, Daymond John, etc…) and if the “sharks” like their idea or business, they’ll invest and become partners.

When my family first told me about the show, I thought, “How boring! Why would I want to watch that?”

But I did watch it… And I love it.  It’s not boring at all.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s fascinating.

For one thing, I love seeing what these everyday entrepreneurs can do.  Some of them have created some incredibly amazing products and businesses all from scratch!  They start up their own businesses in their garages, or sit for hours at a time crafting their products.  These are real and incredible creative minds at work and I admire them (well, most of them) so much!  I love that the show promotes and supports small businesses and these people who have poured their blood, sweat, hearts, and tears into their products.  They’re all following their dreams and that’s so awesome to me.

The sharks are awesome as well.  They know business up and down, left to right, and I am learning so much from them.  I am not a natural business person.  I have a creative mind, I’m pretty good with people, but business is a foreign affair to me.  My dad, on the other hand, is an excellent business brain and usually, I rely on him for any of the business savvy stuff.  After a few weeks of watching Shark Tank, however, I’m learning more and more and finding myself capable of identifying good deals, not so good deals, and even capable of figuring out what an entrepreneur is estimating their company is worth.

For example, if an entrepreneur comes in seeking a $100,000 investment in exchange for 20% of the company, they are estimating their company’s value at $500,000.


The sharks also offer excellent business advice, not only for the entrepreneurs, but for anyone watching at home who has started or is thinking of starting their own business.  For example, you need to be willing to work hard, sacrifice, eat Ramen (I’ve got that one covered), and remember that there are people out there who are working against you.  Now, in the indie author community, I don’t really think that applies.  Yes, we are all working toward the same goal, selling books, but we’re all one big team.  We support each other and it works for our advantage because we’re all telling different stories.  We’re not competing with one another and I love that.  Still, the sharks offer a lot of encouragement and good advice.  They’ve been there and succeeded!  And I really do think they genuinely enjoy helping these new entrepreneurs.

Well, Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, is really just in it for the money.  But he’s a shark.  What do you expect?

Business is Stressful

I’m pretty sure that as a certified business owner, I’m never supposed to lose my cool.  I’m supposed to act in charge and confident and like I have total control of every situation.  Everything is hunky dory.

As a writer, however, I feel I am allowed to be as stressed out and neurotic as I want to be, and that’s a good thing too, because I am a stressful and neurotic person.

There are a lot of things that contribute to this.

1) Genetics.  Anxiety runs rampant in my family.  A few members are very prone to anxiety attacks.  Me?  I’m more of the obsessive-compulsive/controlling type of anxious.  I used to not be able to sit through a movie without stressing myself out about something that was totally beyond my control (and not at all likely to happen).  I’m a lot better now, but the urge to control and make sure everything is going exactly the way I want it to go is still there.

2) I was raised in private school.  Now, I’m sure they crack down on homework and assignments wherever you go to school, but in my elementary school, we had the “yellow card” system.  If you didn’t do your homework, you got a yellow card, a physical representation of your disgrace and failure which you had to sign in front of the entire class.  I, being the perfect goody-two-shoes that I was, made a vow that I would never get a yellow card throughout my entire elementary school experience.  Well, guess what?  I got two, both of which not only ruined my entire week but totally obliterated my already fragile self-worth.  I made sure I was even more perfect throughout high school.  I never once missed an assignment or served a detention.

That fear of failure and humiliation, combined with my near-crippling need to control every aspect of my life, has followed me all the way to my adult years.  It’s the reason I never cook. I always joke and say that I can’t cook, I’m horrible in the kitchen, I’ll make a terrible wife, etc…  But the truth is, I really don’t have all that much experience cooking because something in my crazy, neurotic brain tells me that if I don’t measure everything exactly right or if I don’t time everything to a tee, then everything will be ruined and I will be a failure.

I thought (or at least hoped) that with this business, I would stay on top of everything.  I would make a list of goals, accomplish those goals, and voila!  My life would be awesome and easy.

Add that to my ever-expanding list of things that I have learned on this publishing venture.

I’m finally reaching the point where I’m realizing that I can’t be in control and perfect all the time.  Things aren’t always going to get done when I think and hope they need to get done.  The thing that I’m writing about right now is honestly so small and insignificant that it should not be bothering me, but it’s bothering me enough for me to write out this long, angsty story about my control issues.  But you know, in the long run, I think it’s important that I get this out and come to terms with it.  I won’t be able to control everything, and it’s okay.  I’ve been in this situation before and everything has worked out alright in the end.  I see no reason why this time should be any different.  I’m hoping that this might even help me in the future, because I know this will happen again.

All that being said, I am incredibly, incredibly proud of my little business.  Even if Wind Trail Publishing doesn’t earn a dime, I will always be happy to say that I founded it, and not just because I’m able to publish my own books.  It’s because I set out to do something, and I did it.  I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be learning a lot more in the coming weeks.

Speaking of, it is officially Tuesday, which means there are only six more weeks to go until Cemetery Tours is released!  I’m officially past the excited part and now onto the “Oh-my-God-I-still-have-so-much-to-do-what-if-I-don’t-finish?” part.  Even so, I’m still betting that it will all work out.