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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Why Self-Marketing is Actually the Worst

As independent artists, musicians, and authors, it is up to us to spread the word about our work, our music, and our books. On top of that, we have to do so in a way that actually makes people want to invest in our products. Let me tell you right now, it is a huge pain. I’m a writer. I like to write. I’m a terrible salesperson. Yeah, I can recommend things to people, but for the most part, I like to let people choose what they want to buy on their own.

I’ve been published for about a year now, and I still think that self-marketing is awful. That’s not to say I don’t like talking about my books. I do! They’re one of my favorite things to talk about, along with dolphins, Harry Potter, and Scotland. I’m so proud of my books and I really think they’re awesome. But let’s be honest. Every author thinks his or her books are awesome. You’re never going to meet an author marketing his or her book by saying, “Yeah, I wrote it. It’s okay, I guess. It’s nothing great.” No! Every author is going to say, “This book is awesome!” And that’s good. Authors should be excited about their work.

Unfortunately, however, we authors tend to be very biased. An author is not going to think his or her work is anything but the best. And readers sometimes need more than an author’s word to convince them for that very reason. That’s why reviews and readers who enjoy your work are so important.

Personally, I’m not very good at playing the, “Are you ready for the next hot paranormal read? Check out Cemetery Tours by ME!” role. I feel like I sound like some sort of info-bot whenever I try. I’m a positive and overall happy person, but I’m also very blunt and to the point and I have an incredibly dry sense of humor. It’s so dry that I have friends who can’t tell when I’m joking. It’s not my style to treat my books like they’re something that needs to be hyped up.

Another reason self-marketing is the worst is that I always feel like I’m begging when I say things like, “Hey! Go buy my book, and if you like it, write a review! Please? I need reviews! It won’t take you very long! You have no idea how important this is to me.” Somehow, it feels like that translates to “PLEASE BUY MY BOOK SO I CAN EAT. I’M DESPERATE.”

Which, let’s be honest, in my case, it does.

The charade of confidence in self-marketing is an important one. But sometimes, I just really get sick of it. That’s not to say I’m not confident. I have the utmost confidence in my books. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have published them in the first place. My very first manuscript remains unpublished to this day because I know it’s bad and needs a LOT of revision. But Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds are good. That’s why they’re out there.

It’s also important, with self-marketing, to remember there is a fine line between good, honest self-promotion and HERE LET ME CRAM MY BOOK DOWN YOUR THROAT UNTIL YOU READ IT. Let me tell you it is hard to tread that line. As authors, we want to talk about our books and get people to read them. Furthermore, we want people to buy them so we can make some money! Maybe I’m supposed to say, “It’s all for the craft and I’d write for free,” which is true. I would totally write for the rest of my life no matter what. But come on. We all want to get paid for our work, and it’s not wrong to say so.

Here’s the deal. I want people to read my books and enjoy them. I want to keep writing. I finished chapter 6 of my new YA book last night. I’m also in the midst of writing CT3. I’m going to keep writing no matter what. And I will self-promote as much as I have to. I love my work, and I hope this post doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. I know the path I’ve chosen and self-marketing is just part of it. I love my path. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On that note, go buy my books.

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How Not To Let Marketing Ruin Your Life

I used to believe that formatting my manuscript for Kindle was the worst part of life as a independent author.  While it’s undoubtedly the most frustrating, it’s far from my absolute least favorite part about this path I’ve chosen.  No, my least favorite part is trying to get people to read and buy my book.

(Yes, this is all stemming from the fact that I have a promotional deal going on right now.  No, this is not a scheme to get you to buy it).

I hate telling people what to do.  I hate asking for favors.  I much prefer to keep to myself, do everything for myself, and let other people do whatever the heck they want as long as no one gets hurt.  Unfortunately, marketing is all about self-promotion and asking other people to do stuff.

“Buy my book!  Read my book!  Rate my book on Goodreads!  Review my book on Amazon!  Please, please, please, please, PLEASE?!”

At first, everyone is really excited and eager to help you out because hey, you’re really cool!  You wrote a book!  But then you reach the three month mark and the newness and excitement starts to die down.  That’s fine.  I don’t need bells and whistles.  However, I do still need sales.  All the people I know and love have already bought a copy, so I reach out via social media.  But it’s really hard to convince people to buy your book, especially when you’re an indie author!  Why?

A) You have about a million other Indie authors promoting their books too.

B) Come on, of course the author thinks it’s going to be good!  I myself rarely buy books just because the author asks me to.  I’ve  bought a few, like one about Scotland, but that’s because I really love Scotland.  I’ll also download any book that’s free.  But my interest still needs to be sparked.  Just telling people to buy your book isn’t enough.

December has been a really slow sales month for me, and I won’t lie, it’s been a little discouraging.  Does that mean I’m going to throw in the towel?  Of course not.  But I have noticed that my obsession over marketing and trying to get the book out there more has started to interfere with my life, and that is not okay, especially so close to Christmas!  The happiest time of the year!  Well, when there’s not any ice, that is.

Instead of making fudge and going Christmas light watching and singing carols, all I think about is, “Okay… how do I sell X amount of books by this date?”  And that is not what I want!  I want to enjoy life!  I want to enjoy the holidays!  Yes, it’s important to stay focused, keep working, keep writing, and keep trying to get the word out there as much as I can, but it’s also vital to bear in mind what’s really important in life; family, friends, running barefoot through a pile of leaves, playing in sprinklers, love, laughter… All that is infinitely more important than worrying about how much money my book is going to make me this month.  I’m still going to keep writing and put out the sequel and my next trilogy regardless.

This whole indie author thing isn’t easy, but I do believe, wholeheartedly that it’s worth it.  I consider myself lucky to have found something I’m passionate about.  I love writing, and I’d love it even if I wasn’t trying to make a career out of it.  I write for fun in my spare time. It’s funny, because I’ve always heard that getting paid for something has the potential to take the joy out of it.  It’s weird, but it’s kind of true.  I love writing for fun and I loved writing Cemetery Tours.  Yeah, getting paid for it is great, but I much prefer the process of writing than the process of selling.  As does any author, probably.

On  totally unrelated topic, it’s still cold and icy here.  I actually drove to Target today (without hitting any poles!  Yay!), and I learned that when you drive with two inches of ice on top of your car, the ice tends to break and then slip ‘n slide right off your car and crash right into the street, startling not only you, but also the poor innocent drivers around you.  I live in Texas.  I don’t think these kind of things through.  I’m not sure I even own an ice scraper.  I ended up chipping away the giant slab of ice frozen around my antenna like a giant record away with a tin of gingerbread that I’ve had in my car since Thanksgiving.  Classy, I know.

Anyway, this article might actually be one of the most accurate things I’ve ever read in my life:

Stay warm, everybody!

Just Blogging

So, I am currently in the midst of

A) Writing the Cemetery Tours sequel.

B) Trying to think of new and interesting marketing strategies.

C) Trying to figure out how to distribute my time a little more effectively.

So naturally, I’m here on the blog, doing none of the above.  I have had some new marketing ideas though.  I most got on here (the blog) to tell you that I have like, three really good ideas, but I can’t tell you about any of them because all of them require the assistance of someone else and lo and behold, I haven’t asked anyone for their help yet, so I can’t officially say that any of them are a go.  I’m really excited about the ideas though, and when you get excited about an idea, you just HAVE to tell someone!!!

I’m actually reading a book now about how to sell a million ebooks.  I’m halfway through and still haven’t gotten to the part where the author actually tells me how to do this… but hey, the first half spawned a few cool ideas, even if they didn’t come directly from him.

I’m also thinking of making a writing chart that I can upload here for the world to see.  Not to brag about how much writing I do, but so I can set deadlines for myself and I can feel shamed and humiliated if I don’t meet them… thus forcing me to put more time aside for my writing and less time aside for things like planning my not-even-remotely-close-to-happening wedding on PInterest.  It’s kind of like a sticker chart, only for my career.  I’ll think about that.

In other news, Texas is fixin’ to get sucker-punched by Jack Frost (and not the animated one from that Guardians movie).  I’m talking freezing wind chills, ice, snow, sleet, the works.  I’m not sure if I’m happy about it or not.  On the one hand, it’s almost Christmas and I really like it to be cold at Christmas.  Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I secretly love, love, love snow and I actually love being able to curl up with my blankets and my kitties and my warm pajamas and light a winter candle and just watch a movie or read or write.  On the other hand, I hate being cold and I hate ice on the roads and I hate not being able to go anywhere.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Texans CAN NOT DRIVE IN SNOW.  I tried it once and guess what  happened?  I drove my car straight into a light pole.  Totaled my poor car and sent the light on top of the pole flying across the street.  I might actually be sort of proud of that under different circumstances.

But at least no one else was involved.

Anyway, the next few days should be at least a little interesting.  Hopefully the good kind.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

New Game Plan

So, for the past like, two months, I have been blabbing on and on and on about marketing.  I need to get my book out there, I need to get people to read and review my book, etc…  I’m still obsessing, reading articles, trying to put every effort into promoting Cemetery Tours.  I’m not an aggressive person by nature, so I often feel like promoting my work is the same thing as bugging people.  I definitely prefer to let my work speak for itself, and, at the risk of sounding like an arrogant, self-important dingbat (one of my favorite words at the moment), I’m pretty confident that it will.  I, like several writers, am very sensitive to criticism and humiliation, and I would not have put Cemetery Tours out there if I wasn’t damn proud of it and confident that people would enjoy it.  So far, I’ve heard only good things.  I’m curious as to how I’ll feel when someone looks me in the eye and says, “You suck.  Your book sucks.  Get thee to a nunnery, you hopeless loser.”  

As much as I love my book, however, I have found I’m not all that fond of marketing.  I have a few more ideas in mind.  For example, there will be another Kindle promotional thing for Christmas.  It won’t be free again, but it will be discounted.  Amazon won’t let me schedule it yet, but as soon as I can, I will announce it… over and over and over again…  

I was talking to my dad (basically my business brain since my own brain is all sparkles and dolphins and rainbows) and his advice to me was, “Focus on the sequel.  Get that done.  Then, at the beginning of the year, make one last big push for Cemetery Tours while spreading the word about the upcoming sequel.”

See?  This is why it pays for writers to know BUSINESS.  I never would have thought of that.  I would have just gone on my merry little way begging people to read my book while sporadically working on the sequel.  I know how to write stories, but my dad (and other lucky smart people) knows how real life works!  I used to joke around that the world would be a better place if everyone was more like me, but the truth is, I’m really glad more people aren’t like me.  If they were, nothing would ever get done.  Absolutely no one would do anything productive at all.  They’d all sit around by lakes, writing stories about ghosts, and wondering if things that happened in the past are actually happening now… but in the past.  Or if everyone sees color the same way.  

The world really doesn’t need very many people like me.  I do try to do good things and give back though, so maybe I do contribute something.  

Anyway, that’s the new game plan.  Promote still through the holidays, but really focus on getting the sequel together.  I’ll announce the title as soon as its registered on Bowker, which it won’t be until it’s finished… However, I am very excited about it.  I’ve had the idea for this book in my head longer than the idea for Cemetery Tours.  I basically wrote Cemetery Tours so I could write this book.  

That’s all for now!  Gonna go eat blackberries and edit and write!  I’m also going to go get socks because it’s actually COLD here and my feet are freezing!    

Just Rolling Along

It’s a new week, and as usual, I am still learning, still writing, and still single.  

That last one was a joke.  Sort of.  

Anyway, as you all probably know, I like to keep this blog updated, even when I don’t have all that much to say, so here it goes.  

1.  I think I’ve found an image for cover of the Cemetery Tours sequel.  I’m still waiting for approval from my graphic designer, but I’m super excited about it.  I hope he likes it.    

2.  Upon finding said image, I have determined that I need to find cover designs for every single book I have in my head.  Needless to say, I wasted  spent a LOT of time on last night.  

3.  I’m still making progress on the CT sequel.  I’m halfway through chapter 12.  Hoping to finish first draft by the end of 2013, but I think I’ve already mentioned that.  


My manuscript and my cat.

4.  Cemetery Tours is up to 8 reviews on Amazon, and 8 ratings (All 5 star!) and 3 reviews on GoodReads.  Here’s the latest from Amazon!  



5.  I’m editing a book this week!  It’s important in this line of work to lend a helping hand.  Always be willing to read, edit, review fellow authors!  It’s a great way to build friendships, develop new skills, and network!  

6.  There’s an event on Facebook going on this month that is designed specifically for helping independent business owners/artists/whomever has a “like” page to meet other people and build their following.  It’s great!  This is the link:

Thanks to this group, Cemetery Tours has gained 23 “likers” in one day! 


Hitting the Ground Running

Book Published: Check

People Reading: Check

Book Release Party: Check

Next Step: Marketing. 

Every time I stop and think, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s all over,” the little publishing bug in the back of mind laughs and says, “Not so fast, my silly human!  Just because you published a book, it doesn’t mean people are actually going to buy it!” 

So, that’s my next adventure.  Selling and advertising and marketing.   

This afternoon, I made my semi-monthly trip to the library.  As I was perusing the business aisle, I realized that starting up your own business is a lot like still being in college or graduate school.  You work to support yourself, you make frequent trips to the library, you do a lot of research, and you do a heck of a lot of writing.  You barely make any money, but that’s okay, because you’re working toward an even bigger goal and hopefully all of that work will eventually pay off.  I’ll keep you updated on what I learn. 

In other news, my best friend and I went to the State Fair yesterday.  I love going to the Fair.  It’s like a welcome to autumn and a prelude to Halloween.  I didn’t take that many pictures this year, but I’ll post if there are any I think are worth sharing.  

Finally, now that the whole party planning business if over (thank goodness!), I need to get back to clearing out the back room and putting my office together.  I also really need to clean out my closet to make way for cold weather!  I know, it’s absolutely riveting!  So glad I’m sharing all this with you.  

If anyone has any tips on marketing (or cleaning), please let me know!  Happy Monday!      

Back to the Start

Now that Cemetery Tours is out, I sort of expected to feel like this huge stage of my life was coming to an end.  You know, taking that huge step from Unpublished Writer to Published Author.  I thought there would be some sense of finality, or a feeling of closure.

Not even close.

Cemetery Tours is published, it’s true.  But the real work is only just beginning.  It’s not enough to make a book available to the masses.  Now, I have to sell it to the masses, and let me tell you, I am not a good salesperson.  I can recommend stuff, sure, but I really suck at telling people what they should and shouldn’t read.  “I want you to read this book because I wrote it and I think it’s really good!”   Yeah, that probably won’t cut it.  I’m pretty sure every person who has ever written a book believes that.  After all, they wouldn’t want you to read it if they didn’t think it was good!  Heck, they probably wouldn’t have bothered to write it if they didn’t think it was good.

In the days to come, I will be coming up with more marketing strategies and reasons that people should buy and/or read Cemetery Tours.  I think GoodReads will be a really good place to start.

For today, however, I’m going to take the day off, enjoy my triumph of finally being published, and read The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks.  It also came out today, which is really cool, since I was reading a Nicholas Sparks book when I realized that I wanted to be an author (Just a note – my books are not at ALL like his!  Not that I don’t love him, but I am NOT a romance author!  I’m not really sure what I am… A general fiction author I guess!).  And yes, I am fully aware of all the “white people almost kissing” jokes.  I think they’re hilarious.  And very true.

I still love his books though.

I also checked out The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (not to be confused with S. Morgenstern who “wrote” the Princess Bride – Haha, William Goldman… you really fooled the eighth grade me).  I’ve been wanting to read it for a while now but what’s funny is that suddenly, all my friends are reading it and recommending it!  I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Anyway, aside from selling and marketing Cemetery Tours, I’m also going to need to start working on my next book!  I finally finished chapter seven of the CT sequel.  I do not know what it is, but somehow, I ALWAYS get stuck on chapter 7!  No matter what I’m writing, chapter 7 always ends up being this awful literary brain block!  Maybe it’s because often times, chapter 7 is sort of a transition chapter.  You know, no longer the introduction to the book, but not quite the exciting stuff just yet either.  Necessary filler, if you will.

And on that note, I’m off to read The Longest Ride.  I hope there are no random, heart-wrenching deaths, but considering it’s Nicholas Sparks, I’m not holding my breath.  As long as the horse doesn’t die, I think I’ll be okay.

PS – Be sure to check out Cemetery Tours on Amazon!

Brainspill Part II

I have a lot of stuff on my mind.  That can be a good thing.  I think I’d rather have too much to think about than absolutely nothing.  However, it does my brain a little muddled and distracted having all these different thoughts floating around.  All these thoughts are mostly combinations of things I need to do, things I want to do, and things that I want to share.  I also want to keep updating semi-regularly, because I feel like I’ve been doing a good job with that recently.  I also need to keep talking and spreading the word about…


Subtlety at it’s finest.

1.  Today’s challenge has been converting Cemetery Tours into a file suitable for Kindle and other eBooks.  Now, the company I used will do that for you.  However, when I clicked the “read through” version, I noticed several things wrong.  The title, for example, was so huge, the word “Cemetery” didn’t fit into one line.  It ended up looking like this…



Not gonna work.  It was also missing a table of contest and the ISBN number was wrong.  So, I had to go and reformat the entire things.  It wasn’t too difficult, unless you count creating that stupid table of contents.  That was torture.  But I’m not good with computers, so maybe it was just me.  Although I think the most difficult task is over, I will still be working on it for the rest of the weekend to make sure it’s ready for Tuesday.

2.  I really like LinkedIn.  However, I keep clicking on people’s profiles over and over again to scroll through their “connections” to see if I can find anyone else I know and I’m afraid it’s telling the people that I keep viewing their profiles over and over again and that they’ll think I’m a stalker.  So… any of my friends on LinkedIn who are reading this, I’m sorry.  I promise I’m not creeping on you (I save that for Facebook).

3.  I have to start getting serious about the release party.  I’ll probably have about three or four lists to make this weekend.  That’s okay though, because I like planning and I like making lists.  I would kind of rather be doing that than formatting for Kindle.  I’m telling you, formatting is my absolute least favorite part of the publishing process.  Seriously, it sucks.

4.  I need to order two books ASAP to send in to the Library of Congress.

5.  I need to start focusing on getting the sequel going.  I’m on Chapter 7 right now, but for as long as I’ve been writing, Chapter 7 has always been the bane of my existence.  I am not kidding.  Every single book I write, I always get stuck on Chapter 7 and it takes like, four times as long to finish it as it should.  Chapter 7 is obviously cursed.

6.  As much as I need to focus on the sequel, however, my muse is really wanting to work on my other stuff tonight.  I know a lot of writers say that you need to pick a book and stick with it.  However, you have to reward yourself sometime.  You always write the best stuff when you write what you want to write (Say that ten times fast.  Go!).

7.  I just know I’m going to forget something really crucial about this whole publishing process, which is why I feel compelled to write everything down.

8.  I need to start hanging up my little postcards on more community boards.  Here’s a picture of the ones that I hung up in Starbucks last week.


9.  If you’ve written a book, please leave me a link in the comment section below!  I want to support you!!

Here are all my links:




10.  If you have any marketing advice, words of wisdom on getting my book out there, please leave a comment of send me a message!  Any tips, experiences, or stories are so appreciated!  Thank you!

11.  I really want to watch The Count of Monte Cristo, but of course, I can’t find my DVD.

12.  I found out that Julianne Moore has been cast as the villainous President Coin in Mockingjay Parts I and II.  While I’m sure Ms. Moore will do a fantastic job, I’ll admit that I was hoping for Viola Davis to get the role.  For some reason, when I read the book, she is the one I envisioned.  She’s such a brilliant actress and she’s so beautiful!!!