Three Cheers for Indie Authors

On Saturday, I attended the North Texas Book Festival for the second year in a row, and it was even more fun this year than it was last year.  I had several friends there and I was privileged to make the acquaintance of even more wonderful readers and writers.

I may have come home with one or two new books…

Hey, it’s networking.

Currently, I’m in the middle of reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I loved the movie, so I’ve really been looking forward to reading the book.  The thing is, however, I’m so, so, so excited to start reading all my new books that I got on Saturday that I’m finding myself kind of speed-reading through Still Alice in order to get to my new ones.  There’s something so special and remarkable about reading books that have been produced and published by the author themselves, especially authors you’ve met in person and who’ve shared their personal stories and experiences.  The best way to get to know an author is to read their book.  And I can’t wait to dive in.

I know I’m also an independent author, so what I’m about write may sound a bit self-congratulatory and egotistical, but I am so proud of the work I’ve done, and I’m so proud of my colleagues for their dedication and passion.  There’s this stigma that independent publishing is the “easy way out.”  Let me tell you now, there is nothing easy about taking matters into your own hands and learning skills that you never thought you would need practically overnight.  Independent publishing is real work, work that I would never have even considered if I didn’t truly believe that my books were worth sharing.  This is why I say three cheers for all my fellow indie authors.  You do not believe in limitations.  You will not accept no for an answer.  You conquered your own mountains, you made your own dreams come true.  I am so honored to be in your company.  And I can’t wait to read your books.

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World Book Day

I haven’t been very good about blogging recently, but I simply had to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy World Book Day!

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I don’t think I even need to tell y’all that I love books.  I love to read.  I love to spend hours at a time perusing my local bookstore for new titles, new adventures.  Becoming an author has only deepened my appreciation for the written word, and for all the hard work that goes into transforming a story into a book.

Just a few short years ago, writing and publishing a book was a pipe dream for many.  It was reserved only for the chosen few, the traditionally published elite.  Big companies and corporations decided whether or not your work was worthy of publication.  Those companies do good work.  Most of my favorite books are traditionally published.

But times are changing.  There is a real movement to take the independently published novel mainstream.  And of course, as an independent author, I’m all for this.  Indie books are real books.  Independent authors are real authors.  They’re more than authors.  They’re also publishers and designers and marketers and editors and formatters.  I’m almost inclined to say that you have to be at least a little crazy to be an independent author, because who would willingly do all of this work for a pay-off that isn’t guaranteed?

Well, we would.  And I do believe it’s worth it.

So today, when you celebrate World Book Day, I challenge you to read a book by a lesser known author.  Take a picture of an indie book.  Leave a review on Amazon or on Goodreads.  You may not believe it, but every little bit helps.  Every sale, every post, every review, is a step towards taking this very noble and worthwhile industry to the masses.  Readers make everything possible.  And we, the authors, will never be able to thank you enough.

Gathering Thoughts

Hi, friends.

It probably comes as no surprise that I find myself very scatterbrained at the moment.  I’m trying my best to concentrate on what needs to be done, but you know, there’s just so much that needs to be done that instead of concentrating on one thing, I end up trying to do three or four things at once, resulting in… nothing, really.  Just a lot of crazy.

As you probably know by now, when I find my brain muddled and cluttered, I sort everything out with a list.  I find it very therapeutic to literally separate my thoughts.  That way, the don’t get all mixed up, kind of the way they are now.  It really permits me to focus on one thing at a time.  So, here are the things rattling around in my huge head.

* NORTH TEXAS BOOK FESTIVAL THIS SATURDAY!  I need to get everything organized.  I need to make sure I have everything.  I need to set everything out that I need to take.  I need to figure out what I’m going to wear (this is a big one)!  Get organized, brain!  Get organized!

* Keep working on Cemetery Tours 3!  Since I’m doing a bit of early revising, I’m going to have to go back and work even harder than I would have had I stayed on track.  The good thing about being an independent author and publisher, however, is that I make my own deadlines.  And if, for some reason, I miss a deadline, I can choose not to fire myself.  Granted, it is very unprofessional to miss deadlines and all the official ones, I work like crazy to keep, but that’s another story.

* Don’t forget other events!  Not only my upcoming events, like Authorfest in Denison, but friends’ events!  For example, a couple of my friends are speaking at the Melissa Library.  My dear friend, Paula, has a couple of book signings coming up that I want to attend!  You can check out her blog and her new children’s book, Jack Learns to Grill, here: https://paulawalkerbaker.wordpress.com

Boy Band is out in less than two weeks.  It’s okay.  Don’t panic.  Breathe.  Breathe.  You’re excited for this!  It’s an awesome book!  You love it!  Just make sure everything is okay for formatting for Nook and Kindle.

* Don’t forget about you GoodReads Giveaway!  You have to have FIVE copies to send to people!  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/129034-boy-band

* BOOK SIGNING AT HALF PRICE!  Yay!  This is exciting!  If you’re in the DFW area, stop by and see me on June 24! https://www.facebook.com/events/1114004495292639/permalink/1114004941959261/

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* I am WAY behind on blog posts!  I need to post some more Character Interviews as well as an interview featuring Steve Lund, author of Loving Grammar: Mr. Lund’s Guide to Professional Clamdigging. http://lovinggrammar.com

* Oh!  And I really need to step up my advertising for Lurking in the Deep!  This is a big deal and after everything that’s been going on, I’ve really been neglecting the new anthology.  It’s going to be AMAZING, y’all.

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* This isn’t really something that I need to be doing or thinking about, but my sister totally got to meet Country Musician Wade Bowen this morning.  So jealous.

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I think that’s about it.  I pray that all your brains be far less messy and cluttered than mine.

To Read List

I have a problem.  It’s one that I’m sure plagues several authors and reading aficionados and it’s one that will only go away with time, commitment, and lots of relaxation.

I simply have too many books on my to-read list.

Technically, I have a never-ending to-read list, but my immediate to-read list is getting a little out of hand.  These are all books that I’ve obtained from fellow authors (in no particular order).  I always try to bump indie-authors up to the top of the to-read list because I know how important reviews are and I love being able to help them in any way that I can.

The Soul by S. R. Carrillo (http://permashift.wordpress.com)

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Born Broken by TJ Wiltshire (http://tjwiltshire.com)

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After Life by Daniel Ionson

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This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs (http://planetpooks.wordpress.com)

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Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris

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Moon Tears by M.M. Frische

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Take 2 by Linda Bolton

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Support your local and independent authors!  And other artists as well.

Meeting the Authors and Discovering Witches

This last weekend was super.

It began Saturday with a book event at the Colony Public Library called Meet The Authors.  Several local authors gathered at the library to meet with readers (and each other), spread the word, and maybe sell a few books.

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While getting the sales and spreading the word about my books is always great (and very appreciated), my favorite part is always meeting and connecting with readers.  I met one girl who turned out to be an aspiring writer.  She thought it was so cool to meet people who’d actually written books and could hold them in their hands.  She even let me read the beginning of the story that she’d been working on.  I felt so cool and honored that she would trust me with that!  Definitely the best part of the experience.

I also talked with a mom and her daughter about Harry Potter for about an hour.  The girl eventually looked at me and said, “We’ve talked more about Harry Potter than your books.” That tends to happen.  I’m pretty sure I Tweet more about Harry Potter than I do Cemetery Tours.  That might not be the best marketing strategy in the world, but I’m a fangirl at heart.  I can’t help myself.

I also came home with several new books: Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris (fun fact: her half brother is Ed, Carol’s abusive husband in The Walking Dead! I’m sure he’s quite a nice fellow in real life), Moon Tears by M.M. Frische (she also writes children’s books; her first is called Miss Muffet & Bitsy and is totally adorable), Take 2 by Linda Bolton, The Empowered Woman by J. Nicole Williamson, and This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs.

Finally, at the end of the day, one of the men who ran and coordinated the event asked me if I’d like to come back for an event around Halloween and give a presentation on ghost stories and sell some more books!  I am so excited, I can’t even tell you.  I’ve already begun planning out what I’m going to say (Hamlet, anyone?).

All in all, I’d say the Meet The Authors event was a huge success.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading A Discover of Witches, the first in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

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May I just say that I LOVED THAT BOOK.   Oh my goodness, it was magical.  I loved the characters, (especially Matthew, whom I pictured as Richard Armitage), I loved the setting, and I really loved how Harkness created such a beautiful and compelling story using so many different elements: magic, science, history, alchemy, religion, literature, romance, mythology… It was one of the most intricate and intelligent books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read the next two books.

My own Witch’s Familiar really enjoyed the book too…

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What are you reading this week?

HubPages Update

Okay, so apparently I don’t know how HubPages works and my actual posting did not get published.  The problem now is that I have no idea how to make it work.  See, this is why writers shouldn’t be required to do anything on a computer other than WRITE.

Anyway, if you’d like to read what I wrote, here it is.

“Once upon a time, the path to becoming a published author was a one-way street. Your manuscript was either picked up by one of the big companies in the industry, or your chances of being published were slim at best. Today, options for writers and aspiring authors of all ages, from all walks of life, are endless. Resources are available to anyone and everyone who has ever dreamed of writing and publishing a book.

I’m going to stop right there, because I know what a lot of people are thinking. So thanks to the self-publishing industry, anyone can publish a book, no matter the quality. It’s true. Independent authors and publishers still have a difficult time getting the big time sellers and critics to take them seriously. Several professionals and readers will automatically presume that if a book is independently published, then it’s poorly-written, not good enough for the big publishing houses, ergo, not worth reading or even considering. For several writers, self-publishing is a last resort – something they’ll consider only if absolutely no one else will take their manuscript.

After I decided that I wanted to pursue publishing back in 2012, I realized that I knew almost next to nothing about the process. I went to the library, invested in the 2013 Writer’s Market, and consulted everyone I knew who either had or knew someone who had published a book. I was advised by several friends and family members to try to find an agent. I knew the process was going to be a long one. Agents receive thousands of query letters a week, and very few of those queries result in requests for full or even partial manuscripts.

After a few months of trying (and failing) to find an agent, I decided I had two options. I could pursue a contract with a traditional publishing house without an agent, which would have meant more months of waiting and almost inevitable rejection, or I could take matters into my own hands and get to work immediately. I ultimately decided to pursue independent publishing after consulting with a fellow author.

My decision was not solely based on my desire to see my book published quickly, although that was definitely a plus. I liked the idea of retaining all the rights to my work. I also liked the idea that I had complete control over my book and what happened to it. I put so much time and effort and love into my book, who better to publish and promote it? Unlike a big company who only cares about how much money a book can bring in, independent authors and publishers care about the integrity and well-being of their work.

Furthermore, the independent community is a wonderful place to connect with authors who are willing to share not only their passion, but their support and guidance. For every newly published independent, there are several professionals who know the steps, who’ve been through the entire process, and who can become not only tremendous allies, but also wonderful friends.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done as an independent author. My journey as a publisher is one I never really expected to take, but I am so thankful for the experience. It’s given me the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to really appreciate the work not only that I’ve done, but the work of storytellers and authors and poets all over the world.”

Pearls of Wisdom

It’s late and I’m sleepy, but I’ve been wanting to write this blog post all day and somehow, time has been evading me.  So I figure there’s no time like the present.

Now that I’m over my mild business panic the other night, I’ve been thinking about everything I didn’t think I’d ever have to know and how glad I am that I’ve been constantly learning throughout this whole experience.

That’s actually something that Josh Groban said to the audience when my sister and I went to see him in concert (yes, he actually DOES sound better live than recorded).  Someone asked him if he had any advice for anyone going into the performing arts.  His answer applied not only to those going into the arts, but to anyone who has ever hoped to accomplish anything.  “Never stop learning.  Stay a student for as long as you can.”  He was right.  You’ve got to stay open to learning new things, otherwise you’ll never move forward.

I know I’ve done several of these little “What I’ve learned about self publishing so far” entries, but I enjoy them and I think (or at least hope) that they’re at least a little helpful and encouraging.  So, here you go.

1)  Don’t procrastinate.  I’ve been a procrastinator my entire life.  My thought process was, “Well, if I write this term paper early and then I die before I get to turn it in, then I’ll have wasted my last days on Earth writing a paper.”  I ALWAYS waited until the last minute to do any sort of assignment.  Bad, I know.  But I still got them done.  In some instances it actually paid off.  For example, in one of my classes, we were supposed to read this godawful, boring book and then write a paper on it.  The week before the paper was due, I still hadn’t even bought the book.  Later that day, however, our teacher announced that the paper was cancelled.  I saved myself about fifteen dollars that day.  With publishing, however, it’s different.  Procrastinating is bad.  No matter where you are in the process or what you’re doing, everything will take about five times longer than you think it will.

2) Don’t get complacent.  I’ve been through high school, college, and grad school, and let me tell you, the senioritis only gets worse the older you get.  With publishing, like with anything to which you devote a lot of time and effort, it’s easy to get bored, to get tired of your project, to think, “Okay, I’m just gonna half-ass it and be done with it.”  No.  Don’t do that.  This project should be treated like it’s the only thing in your life.  You can sure as heck bet that big time publishers make sure their books and projects are PERFECT.  As an independent publisher, you should aim for no less.  In fact, you should aim for more, since, unlike big time publishers, this book actually means something more to you than a paycheck.

3) Be flexible.  It’s good to set deadlines for yourself and it’s good to stay on task, but things aren’t always going to happen when and how you want them to happen.   If you want to succeed, you need to be able to work under any circumstances.

4) Get things done.  Finish what you start.  I’m pretty sure the reason that most would-be writers don’t succeed in their publication endeavors is because they give up.  They decide it’s not worth it or it’s going to be too hard or it will never happen, it’s just a pipe dream.  If you don’t even try, then of course you’re not going to succeed.  But if you take a chance and give it all you’ve got, then who knows?  See this through to the very end.  You’ll be one of the rare few who does.

5) Don’t get discouraged.  There will always, ALWAYS be naysayers.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had this conversation:

“So, what are your plans?  What do you want to do with your life?”

“I’m writing a book.  I’d like to be an author.”

“No, I mean what do you want to do?  Like for a real career?”

I’ve been told over and over and over again that I’ll never get anywhere writing, that I need to get a “real job,” that I’ll never be able to support myself, that I’d be much happier if I just gave up and accepted that this is the way life is.  It is so easy to get discouraged when that it all you hear.  It got to the point that, when people would ask me what I wanted to do, I’d lie and say, “I don’t know.  I’m still figuring it out.”

Well guess what?  Now that I’m actually publishing my book, going through with my plans, I’ve gotten nothing but “Congratulations,” “I’m so proud of you,” and “I can’t wait to read it!”  The best way to handle naysayers is to prove them wrong!

For a long while, I had several back-up plans for what I was going to do if the whole writing thing fell through.  I wasn’t very enthusiastic about any of them, not the way I am about writing and publishing.  Then one day I realized that having those plans in the back of my mind was actually my own mind discouraging me.  Having a back-up plan, I realized, meant that on some level, I expected myself  to fail, and that was not a good thing.  You can’t expect anyone to believe in you if you can’t believe in yourself.

And with that, I will say good night, because I am very sleepy.

Good night.