Blog

Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing

Hello friends,

As you all know, I’ve been sticking it out in the querying trenches, and it’s been hard on my heart. I know I need to develop a thick skin and over and again I’ve heard, “Remember, this is a subjective business.”

Yes, I know. I completely understand that. I know market trends matter. And I also know that nothing makes sense. Seriously.

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Listen to this…

I have a friend who works as a literary intern. So basically, she wades through piles of query letters to sort through those the agent may be interested in and she also reads manuscripts for the agent as a screen before the agent reads them. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say I know that nothing makes sense. My friend read a book that, although it wasn’t her favorite genre, she couldn’t put down. It was a page-turner and was incredibly well written. She passed the book on to the agent who said that she really gobbled it up but wasn’t going to take it on. Why, you ask? Oh, because the author had approximately 11 books published through small presses. The agent actually called him a hack even though she agreed the writing was very well done. But it doesn’t stop there, friends. The intern asked if he could publish under a pen name. The agent said he definitely should but still wasn’t going to take him on. In the same conversation, the agent asks the intern to read another book. The agent had already read it and said it was “a mess,” written by a debut author. A MESS people! And why was she willing to take on a manuscript that is a mess? Well, because the author was a District Attorney. Goodness knows no one can write things unless it’s true to life. Good thing when I wrote my middle grade fantasy about witches, I really was one.

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So here’s the point of this blog post. I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what I do or how many years I spend writing new books. I can continue querying agents until my heart cracks one too many times and just becomes a pile of dust ready to be blown away like a fart in the wind.

Since I started this blog and started working hard on my social media presence, I’ve had countless people ask me where they can read my writing, tell me they enjoy my blog, and ask me when they can buy my book. Am I missing out on sales and sharing my work because I’m so wrapped up in worry about the stigma associated with being a self-published/indie author? One, who by the way, makes 75% of royalties rather than 15 or maybe 35%. It’s no secret that authors have to do their own marketing whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Does it really matter that my book isn’t available in a bookstore? I can’t remember the last time I went to one anyway. I buy everything on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity I did a poll asking whether or not people buy books from self-published authors. While it isn’t a large sample, I was surprised by the results.

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Most people said they do or would read a book by a self-published author. I tried to think back to the time before I thought about publishing any of my work at all and wondered…did I have any bias against self-published books? No, I didn’t. Not at all. If I perused books on my kindle, I would pick whatever sounded interested. I didn’t care who wrote it. I didn’t check the publishing house. I didn’t even look to see if it was a self-published book.

So where did I get this idea that there was a lot of bad stigma surrounding self-published authors? I realized it was from other writers, authors, and traditional publishing.

As I query and collect rejection letters, I’m reminded again of all the times someone has said to me, “I love your blog, where can I buy your book? Or do you have anything else I can read?” And I’ve had to say no. Why? Oh, because it’s sitting on my computer where–quite possibly–no one will ever see it.

I know that there are quite a few (especially romance) indie authors who have done quite well for themselves. So why don’t I try?

I know I need to

  • Pay for proper editing
  • Pay for good cover art
  • Pay someone to format things correctly
  • Invest in marketing myself
  • Maybe hire a PA

But two of those things I’m going to have to do anyway. I’m not going to slap some poorly crafted, first-draft turd up on Amazon and call it a day. I’m going to work hard to showcase my work in a way that I can be proud of. Something that when I sell, I get to keep a large portion of royalties for myself, to invest in myself and future projects. I’ll also have more control over…EVERYTHING.

Yet here I am. Still questioning what I should do? But why? Perhaps it’s the validation. Maybe it is me wanting to be accepted by other authors as a “real” author. But I can tell you, I’ve read a lot of self-published, indie press, or yet unpublished work that I have adored and I’ve read traditionally published crap that I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

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I would love to know what you all think. Please leave a comment below.

And as always…

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Blog · Guest posts

Guest post: A Sea of Emotions -by Zarrar Salahuddin

Guest post: A Sea of Emotions -by Zarrar Salahuddin

We, human beings, are nothing without our emotions. Emotions are what sets us apart from machines. Most of us are extremely expressive with our emotions, others not so much. But even those who do not show their emotions have lots hidden within them. With me, however, what you see is what you get. I show exactly what I feel, with no holds barred. I do not know how to keep my emotions locked up, I do not know how to keep it bottled up.

This trait of mine has not always been welcomed by people. Being scolded, treated badly or unfairly, ignored or made fun of, would bring tears to my eyes. I have always been an emotional person. I was always told to stop crying and “man up”. I had to bend and break myself to change this in me. I never truly stayed the same, once I changed that in me. Being an incredibly expressive person, I always was very open with showing my love as well to others. It could be anyone; my friends, family or a girl I had a crush on. I was never shy when it came to expressing love. Funny story, I once told a girl that she was the cutest damn thing I had ever seen. She wasn’t very amused, to say the least. I was fortunate not to get in trouble with the teachers. But, that was not the first (or last) time, I saw my emotions shrugged off. Many a times, I have had my hugs rejected and my love deterred. Many girls may say I am cute, but none would say that when I told them I liked them. So, this emotion of mine has also been largely locked up inside me.

Thankfully, I have been strong enough to not let the negative emotions in me rule my judgement. Maybe, it is because I have been brought up to be nice to everyone, regardless of how they treat me. But, the fact remains that I have had all the love locked up in me, for far too long, with no one to give it to.

This part of me is so well-hidden that I doubt anyone knows of this part of me. All everyone sees me as is a serious and no nonsense person, who has no emotions at all. But little do they know, I have a sea of emotions in me. But, now I know better than to show my emotions to everyone. Not everyone is worth it, only those who matter and I know very well who does.

But, hey, here is an insight into my life, I hope you enjoyed reading my unnecessary ramble. Thank you for reading, many thanks to the lovely Alice Compeau for this opportunity to express myself.

Good day, cheers and much love,

Zarrar

Zarrar

***

Thank you so much for writing a guest post on my blog today, Zarrar. You’re a wonderful writer and an amazing person and I’m glad to call you my friend. 

I’m happy, my dear readers, to introduce you to Zarrar and his writing. He has a blog you can follow at http://chokedcreativity.blogspot.com

You can also find him on Twitter  @ZarrarSalahPTI  You won’t be disappointed. He is one of my very favorite tweeps and a funny, supportive friend. 

 

Blog

Busy (wingless) Bee

Busy (wingless) Bee

I know! I know! I’ve done a horrible job at putting out blog posts regularly. I’ve just been a very busy bee lately. I’m working on a new novel (yay!), sending out query letters (gah), I’ve just started a marketing course, and am working on opening a business.

I realize that I shouldn’t let those things neglect my blog but I’m having a hard time feeling like there is any point to this anyway. This or social media. I’m just the crazy lady on the bus talking to herself while some random troll shouts back “No one cares!”

I’m also sick with some horrible head cold that makes me feel like my head is going to explode and then when I lie down to sleep at night a parade of coughing begins.

Excuses, excuses. I know. Well, despite this and the darkness in mood I feel moving in over me, I’m going to do my best to do what I can to move forward. That may mean neglecting the blog for a bit and just sitting in the sunshine or walking through the woods to remember why I do all this in the first place. It’s not the platform building, or the querying, or blogging…it’s the telling of stories. Maybe I need to focus just on that, even if the only person who ever reads my stories is me.

 

 

 

Blog

I #amquerying and it’s so damn hard. (A letter of encouragement to myself)

I #amquerying and it’s so damn hard. (A letter of encouragement to myself)

 

Hey, you with the tear in the corner of your eye and the frown dripping down your face,

I know you’re querying and I know you’re thinking of giving up.

Here’s the truth: Querying is hard. It’s hard work, and it’s hard on your spirits. There’s a lot of research involved. It requires a lot of time-consuming attention to detail, and you are most certainly guaranteed to receive a lot of rejection. Maybe–all rejection and nothing else.

It’s brutal on the heart and spirit. You feel like a complete loser. It’s embarrassing. And there comes a point where you may feel like an untalented piece of shit poo, and you should just quit. But you have to look in the mirror or open up those pages and look at all those words that spilled out of you with great passion and heart. Ask yourself–how much you want it?

Don’t forget that every writer has been rejected. Even those you think of as being “the greats.” Maybe they didn’t get quite as much rejection as you are getting, but they still got rejected by someone at some point.

When you get those rejection letters that tell you that the agent or publisher just “didn’t connect” with your book, think of all those books that your friends so highly recommended, but you just didn’t love. Over and over you’ll hear that this is a “subjective business,” remember that it’s not just a line that agents feed you. It is, in fact, a very real truth. It doesn’t mean that you, or your book, suck. There are a lot more factors that go into someone deciding whether they want to take on your project than just the words you wrote.

One day, you’ll get something other than a rejection if you keep working to improve and you don’t give up on yourself no matter how hard it gets.

And remember…

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal_ it is the courage to continue that counts.”

You just need the courage to continue. Be tenacious. Work to improve. Do not ever give up. You can do this. I believe in you.

 

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Blog

Are those hawks circling overhead?

Are those hawks circling overhead?

One of the most difficult things about my writing journey has been feeling like prey–a little field mouse scampering around a field with hawks circling overhead.

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When I started writing this blog post, I wanted to call them vultures, but that wasn’t right. Vultures eat the dead, and some of these people are after warm blood–fresh blood–and after they’ve picked the bones clean, they leave a broken skeleton of a writer feeling victimized, shamed, and left with empty pockets.

That’s how it always works, though, isn’t it? There are always plenty of people looking to take advantage of the dreamy-eyed creatives. So many people try to profit off of writers and artists either by taking a slice or taking our art for free.

Btw, it makes me so sad to see so many books listed for free or for 99 cents. I know some of these books are self-published, first draft crap that’s slapped up without much care, but some of it’s not. Some self-published works are pretty great and have had a lot of love and care put into them.

Anyway, why are people willing to pay more for a cup of coffee than a novel? Ugh, I wish making coffee was my passion.

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Anyway, back to the main point of this post…

I saw an offer for a webinar and I signed up because I never turn down free information. Who knows? There may be a nugget there that made listening to someone talk for an hour worth it. But as I suspected, it was just a bunch of pointless circle talk promising to help people earn a bajillion dollars from blogging.

LOL! Okay, maybe not a bajillion but a living (oh, and there was this underlying message that suggests if you fail, it’s probably because you weren’t willing to “put in the work.” Hmmm…or pay for what they’re gearing up to sell you.)

It’s like in A Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets his decoder pin…”Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Ovaltine?” Yup, another crummy commercial.  But I wonder how many of the aspiring writer/bloggers threw down their decoder pins and marched out of the room? How many stayed, believing that if they signed up for the course being sold that they’d be successful?

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The whole time, the people running the webinar kept claiming they were doing this simply because they wanted to help other writers. Hmm, more like take advantage of writers who will do almost anything to see their dreams come true.

I know don’t have everything figured out (my lack of success is proof of that) but I know paying …”Not $5000, not even $1000 but only $500″ isn’t the way. Especially when what you’re paying for is just even more useless circle talk.

And these clever charlatans know that there will always be a fresh batch of new, aspiring writers/bloggers hoping to be seen and heard. And therefore, there will always be a fresh flow of cash heading their way.

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I’d feel bad about the piece of paper I wasted taking notes during the stupid webinar if I didn’t use them for this blog post. Oh, and also, I had fun drawing some poop emojis and other random doodles.

Anyway, I don’t know how to get seen but I do know that since I stopped trying to follow all the “advice” of others claiming to be experts (especially any advice I’d have to pay for) and started being myself, my followers have been growing.

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Blog

Intense Focus: friend or foe?

Intense Focus: friend or foe?

I’ve mentioned before–but some of you may not know–I’m an INFP personality type. One of the strengths of INFPs (or is it a weakness? 🤔) is–as the website 16 personalities states–INFPs are “Passionate and Energetic – When something captures INFPs’ imagination and speaks to their beliefs, they go all in, dedicating their time, energy, thoughts and emotions to the project. Their shyness keeps them from the podium, but they are the first to lend a helping hand where it’s needed.”

Oh, is this ever true! I think it’s the reason I can write an entire novel where other people think they could write one (boy am I tired of hearing that, btw) but can’t actually do it.

It makes it hard for me to concentrate on doing more than one thing at a time, though. I’m supposed to be querying, but this new book idea struck and suddenly, I’m all in.

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Me focused on my new book

When I practice my guitar, I practice every day.

When I’m working on growing my social media platforms, it’s all I can think about doing.

The upside – when I want to get shit done…I get shit done!

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The downside – I don’t accomplish much of anything else.

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Just kidding. I’m not a hoarder, and my house is (fairly) neat. (As long as you don’t peek inside my office–yes, it’s messy once again 😬) but that pile of stuff falling over represents all the other stuff I’ve neglected while focused on whatever it is that the project (or person) du jour.

Oh well, friend or foe, it’s who I am, and it’s what makes me, me. For all my weaknesses, I’m not sure that’s something I want to change.

What about you? Are you able to multitask? Or do you focus on one thing at a time?

Is there anything you’d like me to blog about? I’d love to know.

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Blog

Sinking

Sinking

My darling friends,

I know I usually post on Mondays but I have some feelings to work through and the best way for me to do that is always by writing.

Over the last few days, I’ve been sinking. Not like a rock in water but more like a discarded daisy tossed in some bubbling, gray muck. I’m not exactly sure what brings me to this place, again and again, but here I am.

I suppose it may have something to do with this sunless, never-ending winter. At this point, it feels like summer is just something I dreamed about once. It snowed this morning, and my spirit sank as quickly as these daffodils.

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I’m taking my vitamin D supplements, but I don’t know if there can ever be a replacement for the warmth of the sun kissing your skin. It’s kind of like a virtual hug versus the real thing.

Maybe part of it is the feeling that people think of me as a toy and not a person with a beating heart. I’m real. And so is my pain. It would be easier to have your heart completely snapped in two and left alone to repair, rather than slow, cracking fissures repaired shoddily with sweet, loving words.

The biggest culprit, I’m sure, is the rejection that comes along during the querying process. I know this is typical, but I think what bothers me most is that people who are not writers and have never written and queried a novel seem to think that if the book is any good, or if you have any talent, your novel will immediately get picked up. I think that’s the part that makes me feel like a big, fat, failure more than the rejection itself.

I’ve been honest about my process and failures, but it’s hard to share that part. It would almost be easier to suffer in silence in some ways and not share what I’m going through. It’s hard to live up to people’s assumptions. If I didn’t suck, I would be successful. Simple. Easy. That’s what they think.

And so many people think they could write a novel (if they had time–how many times have I heard that) and it would be the next great American novel or a New York Times Bestseller. I know that’s how people think because many have messaged me for “writing advice” and told me how they could write a book and that they’re sure it will be “better than anything they see on the shelves now”–the shelves I currently can’t get my book on. That’s why I know that they think if this book doesn’t get published, then it must be because I’m a talentless loser.

I already feel that I’m a talentless loser all on my own. I have a lot of fear that this is what’s going to be proven to me and not the phrases I’m always repeating to keep going. “Keep writing. You can do it. One day it will happen.”

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I know I can work through this. I always do.

Perhaps there wasn’t a lot of point to this post other than me knowing that this expression of my feelings will begin to heal me. Maybe some of you feel the way I do, and you’ll know you’re not alone, in whichever way you are sinking.

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Blog · Interviews

Writer Interview 📝 with Jim G. Black

Writer Interview 📝 with Jim G. Black

I’d like to introduce you all to a fellow writer I met on Twitter. He’s such a supportive and wonderful person, I wanted more people to know about him and his writing.

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I asked Jim a few questions and here are his answers…

Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?

A: My favorite thing about writing is the research. Writing outside of what I know gives me the opportunity to learn new things.

Q: What is the most difficult part of the novel writing process for you?

A: The most difficult thing is staying on track. I’m ADD, and get distracted easily.

Q: What inspired you to write your work in progress How long have you been working on your work in progress?

A: What inspired me? Long answer lol. I have always had several book ideas floating around in my head. As a result of two rounds with renal cancer, I lost a kidney in 2012. In August of 2017 my other kidney shut down, resulting in a hospital stay and several weeks of recovery. During that recovery time I started thinking about my bucket list, which included all of the books I ever thought about writing. I told myself that, if I was ever going to do it, now is as good a time to start. I’ve been working on it since last November.

Q: Do you plot out your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or some combination of the two?

A: Some of it I have outlined, however, I tend to write it in my head as I go along, then just type it up when I get time to sit and write.

Q: How do you select the names for your characters?

A: My MC is named using my middle name, Grant, and the middle name of one of my ancestors, Canaada, yes, with two “a”s in the middle. My book has several “beasties” in it, and it’s hard to come up with names for them.

Q: Are you working on anything new?

A: Not really working on anything new. I also blog, and am doing more of that lately. I have a couple ideas for short stories, but haven’t made any notes on them yet.

Q: Do you prefer to write in the morning, afternoon, night, or whenever you find a spare moment?

A: I write whenever I can find time to sit down and do it.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals?

A: I don’t have any rituals. Maybe I need to develop some. It may help me get into a routine lol.

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A: I think relate-able characters make for a good story. When I read a book, I like it when I can actually place myself in the story through one of the characters. Not necessarily the main character, but one with whom I can find something in common. It just it that much more fun and easy to get into.

Q: Dogs or Cats?

A: Lol…I love all animals. We have five cats, and I love them all, however, I would love to have another dog in the near future.

Q: Savory or Sweet?

A: Savory always lol. My dessert philosophy has always been “no sweets, more meats”. I’ll take an extra burger or hot dog over cake and pie any day. Tastes better with beer 😉

Q: Beach or Forest?

A: Forest. I grew up in Southeast Tennessee and spent a lot of time in the woods, camping and hiking. I never even saw the beach until I was a teenager. Living in South Carolina, I do go to the coast, but prefer dirt over sand. Another philosophy, “any place with more palms than pines is no place for me”.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do with your free time?

A: In my free time I’m reading. I also like attending plays, concerts, ballgames and singing.

Q: How can readers keep in touch with you?

A: Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlueHose2006

Facebook: Jim G Black Writing https://www.facebook.com/jimblackwriter/

WordPress:

I hope to have my website up and running by the summer.

Q: Do you like to hear from your readers?

A: I love hearing from people, and am always happy to talk with anybody about most anything.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

A: There is not much else to tell. I try and be laid back and just exist for the most part.

***

Thanks for spending some time answering these questions for my blog, Jim. I hope my readers will check out your blog and social media sites.

 

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