After Formatting, After Editing, After Death

Tomorrow is the day.  The next book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available!  To share a little secret with you, the Kindle eBook was available last night, but then I was told that there’d been a technical error with the file and I had to take it down.

Cue every author’s nightmare.

Any other day, if you asked me if there was anything I didn’t love about what I do, the answer would be no.  But there are moments, like last night and half of today, when the self-doubt and unforeseen glitches start getting the better of me.  This is a fun business and I love it so much and I love my books and characters, but the act of publishing itself can be very stressful.  There’s already pressure on authors to write books that people want to read, but formatting and making them look professional and seeing to it that there are no (or as few as possible) typos or uneven lines etc, etc…  It can be overwhelming.

I want to be an author.  I want to write stories for the rest of my life and I want readers to enjoy those stories.  I think that no matter what we pursue, there will always be a bit of stress, a bit of fear, especially if we really want everything to work out.  And hopefully, it’s worth the risk.  Risks have to be taken in life.  Otherwise, we’d never evolve.  I hope that I’m taking the right ones.  I like to think that I am.

That being said, I really hope that you all like After Death and that all of the issues have been taken care of.  I know no matter what that I’m going to keep writing.  I have to keep writing.  I truly believe than any author who puts their work out there, especially those of us who are independent, really don’t have a choice but to keep writing.  Let’s face it, I could be making a heck of a lot more money doing a heck of a lot less work.  But I love my books and I love my characters and most of all, I love my readers.  I hope this new book is everything you deserve and more.

On a totally unrelated note, here are some really pretty autumn pictures from my trip to the Arboretum last Friday.

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I also took pictures of my books.

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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 BarnesAndNoble.com.”  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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Aspiring Authors

Recently, someone asked me what advice I would give to someone looking to turn their passion for writing into a career.  It’s a question that I myself asked after I wrote my first manuscript (which, by the way, will never ever see the light of day).  And you know, looking back, I’m glad I asked it as often as I did, because I would never have gotten as far as I have without hands reaching out to help guide me.  I’d imagine that goes for any career you might pursue.

As far as writing goes, however, here are my top tips for aspiring authors.

1.  Write.

It’s so cliche, right?  But it’s true.  You can’t be a writer if you don’t write.  It’s wonderful to have dreams.  Careers are built on dreams, especially dreams in the arts.  But in order to publish that book, you must first write that book.  Then you’re probably going to rewrite the book.  Then you’re going to send that book off to an editor who will have you revise that book about a hundred times over.  Writing is essential.  And when you’re not writing, you probably should be writing.

2. Make Connections.

Authors are incredibly supportive of other authors and of aspiring authors.  We know what you’re going through.  We know what you’re hoping for.  We know what it’s like to be you, and guess what?  We want you to succeed just as much as you do.  That’s something I love most about the writer community.  These people are the most supportive and encouraging group I’ve ever met, and I’m proud to be one of them.  I just hope that I make them proud.  I hope I help and encourage and support as much as they’ve helped and encouraged and supported me over the years.

3. Do Your Research.

Before I published Cemetery Tours, I was in the library every other week learning everything I could about independent publishing and how to succeed as a writer.  As great as it was to have mentors to offer me advice, I ultimately had to make all the big decisions for myself, because what works for one writer will not always work for another.  It was also easier for me to learn that way.  As an author, you’re going to have dozens of options and dozens of choices to make, and at the end of the day, no one else can make them for you.  Only you know what’s going to work best for you and for your book.

4.  Don’t Get Discouraged.

This is a long and difficult road that you’ve chosen.  You aren’t going to see results overnight (unless you’re JK Rowling).  It takes a lot of time and patience.  It also takes endurance.  More likely than not, you’re going to have at least one person tell you that you’re wasting your time.  They’re going to say, “You want to be a writer, that’s great, but you’re never going to make money that way.  What do you actually want to do for a job?”  But I promise you, for every person who doesn’t believe in you, there are about a hundred out there who do, and they’re the ones you need to keep by your side.  They’re the ones you need to listen to.  Believe in yourself and believe in your writing.  Don’t let anyone ever convince you that your work isn’t worth it, because it is.  You are worth it.  This is the one life you get.  You might as well spend it doing something you love.  I’ve always thought that I’d rather fail at something I love, than succeed at something I don’t care about at all.  At least I’d know that I’d tried.

5. Know Your Resources.

There are so many sites out there for aspiring authors and professionals in general.  A few I that recommend are:

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com

Bowker: https://www.myidentifiers.com

Author Rise: https://www.authorrise.com

The Ladders: https://www.theladders.com/careers/search

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org

It’s Okay to Have Fun

It’s good to be ambitious.  It’s good to have dreams.  It’s good to be productive.  It’s good to work, work, work.  In this life, you have to strive.  You have to push yourself.  You have to work harder than anyone else and want it more than anyone else if you want to get ahead.  Our American society is very much a work and toil and sacrifice-driven society.

Kids today are being prepped for college as early as elementary school.  College students are bending over backwards and stressed to the breaking point in order to make the grade.  Adults wander around like zombies, with dead eyes and listless spirits because they work so hard that it’s consumed their very being. It’s kind of scary.

It’s been engrained in our heads that if we don’t make the big money and have super successful careers then we don’t amount to anything in this world.  And okay, yes, I’ll admit that it is good to have a career and make money.  i’m not saying it isn’t.  Jobs are good.  They keep our world in balance.  We need people with jobs of all kinds.  But I feel like it needs to be said every now and then that it’s also okay to have fun.  Work and ambitions don’t need to control your life.  In fact, I don’t think they should.

Last night, I hung out with one of my best friends.  We both had stuff to talk about.  Somewhat heavy, but nothing too bad.  After we finished talking, we kicked off our shoes, poured ourselves some wine, and played Mario Kart.  That is not something I would normally be doing on a work night.  That’s usually when I do most of my writing.  But you know what?  It was great.  I loved just hanging out with her, laughing, and playing some good, old-fashioned Nintendo.

John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”  I love the extraordinary moments in life, seeing a new place or publishing a new book.  But those precious ordinary moments of fun and laughter and just being with the people you love, those are the moments that really make a life.  Please, goof off.  Have fun.  Be silly.  Remember to enjoy.  Life is worth it.

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It’s Okay to be Single

A lot of books, movies, and stages shows have one thing in common: Romance.  It either ends happily with the lovers together or not so happily with someone walking away or maybe even dying.  Either way, being with the person you love is one of the driving factors in plots all throughout media and history. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for romance in books and movies.  I love reading it and I really love writing it.  Michael and Kate, hello!  In real life, however, I am happily single.  And to a lot of people, that’s weird.

I recently read an article encouraging young people (even younger than me) to take the plunge, get married, and have kids in their twenties.  That’s worked for a lot of my friends.  Several of them married very young and most are still happily married.  Although I’ve always wanted to be married and have kids eventually, it’s never been my main goal in life.  For guys, that’s okay, but for some reason, it’s strange for a girl to feel that way. I can’t count the times I’ve been asked about my love life before anything else.  It’s never “Have you seen any cool new places” or “Learned anything new and interesting?” It’s “So are you dating anyone yet?”

No.  No I’m not.  And that’s okay.

Even as a little kid, I was very driven and career-oriented.  Back then, I wanted to work with marine mammals (and I still do) and I spent every waking minute I had researching whales, dolphins, and pinnipeds.  As soon as I realized that my true calling was writing, I sat down and began working on ideas for novels.

Yeah, I’ve dated.  I even had one serious boyfriend when I was 20, but unlike the rest of my friends who were itching to earn their M.R.S., the idea of marriage terrified me to the point that I actually broke down in tears at the thought of walking down the aisle. Granted, I wasn’t with the right person and now that I’m older, the idea doesn’t make me cry anymore, which is a good thing.  But I’m still in no hurry.  I have so many other things that I want to experience.  Yes, I could experience them with a husband, but there’s something so liberating, so wonderful, about being independent.  I like making my own decisions and I like being able to act selfishly.  Perhaps that’s not a good thing to boast.  After all, one of the major criticisms for single people with no children is that we are selfish.  But I’ve always kind of thought that our twenties are the time to be selfish, to learn and explore, to travel, to set the foundation for our lives.  For some of us, husband and kids are a huge part of that.  For others, we’re happy going it alone. And again, that’s okay.

The world is changing.  Women no longer have to marry for financial or societal reasons.  We have the privilege of being able to settle down and marry when we want and who we want.  Again, I do want marriage and a family… eventually.  But right now, I’m happy by myself.  I’m happy to travel.  I’m happy to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I’m happy to hang out with my sister and single friends just as much as I am happy to hang out with my married friends.  And I’m happy to write.  God, I am so happy to write.

Right now, my main priority is getting more books out there and, if my dreams come true, to maybe because a NYTimes Bestselling Author by the time I’m 30.  That’s my real dream right now.  If a guy comes along before then, then awesome!  If not, that’s okay too. If you’re like me, don’t let anyone pressure you into anything before you’re ready.

I’ve been asked so many times when I’m getting married and when I’m giving my parents some grandkids to spoil.  The answer is “I have no idea.  For now, they’re just going to have to be happy with grand-books.”

On that note, please join me tonight at 8:30 Eastern (7:30 Central) for The Truth in Lies One Year Anniversary Celebration! Several authors (including me!) will be answering questions and posting giveaways all afternoon long!  In fact, I think it’s already begun!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1481550198784895/?ref_notif_type=plan_mall_activity&source=1