Blog

Accepting Constructive Criticism

Accepting Constructive Criticism

Hello Friends,

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve started sharing my work with others, it’s that if many people are telling you something needs to change, no matter how much it may hurt, you should listen and make changes.

I got a dose of constructive criticism that hurt yesterday.

I had a group web call with other authors and my book coach. They all agreed that the title of my book needed a change. It was like a stab in the gut. I liked the title but they all agreed that the title itself wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t a good fit for a middle-grade fantasy novel. More than the rejection, I’d have to change all my cover files, interior files, website, and review copy.

Fortunately, my cover artist, Ashely Byland of Redbird Designs (Click here indie authors if you’re looking for an incredibly talented and easy to work with cover artist) made these changes for me quickly and painlessly. Did I mention that she’s incredible? She’s incredible!

So my book will no longer be titled…

GreatConnection3D

But will now be known as…

AsterSpirit3D

Now I could have closed my ears and insisted that I was keeping my title because it’s my book. But these other authors have more experience than I do. They gave me solid reasons why my first title just didn’t cut the mustard. And my book coach is a best-selling author who is a wiz with titles and marketing.

I want to succeed. I can write books. I’m not doubting myself on that anymore (now don’t call me cocky–I just said I know I can write them, not that I think I’m talented. The imposter syndrome is still strong in me) I’m still learning when it comes to marketing and book promotion. But I know the best way to learn (in any situation) is to keep an open mind and accept constructive criticism in a way that allows me to learn and become more successful with each step I take.

 

Blog

Writer not writing

Writer not writing

Hello friends,

I cannot remember the last time I opened up my laptop and worked on my novel. Was it in June sometime? Has it really been since May?

So what’s keeping me from writing… writer’s block?

Not at all. The slow down started when I began querying my romance novel, Hearts Mingling. The querying process is extremely time-consuming, but more than that, it takes all the joy out of trying. As a matter of fact, querying kind of makes me feel like I hate writing. It’s a misplaced emotion. It’s not actually the writing I hate, but it does make it all seem pointless–like I’ll never find readers for my work if I can’t get by the gatekeepers.

giphy2

 

I’ve also been taking a few courses. One–a marketing course for a small business I’ll be part-owner of and do the marketing for. The second–another marketing course, but this one is specifically for authors. As you know, in addition to my other small business, I’ve started my own publishing company, WhistlePig Publishing, to independently publish my children’s novels. Who knows, someday I may also be publishing my adult works as well.

All my time and effort has been going into these ventures, but at least I feel like I’m moving forward with my writing and my quest to find readers. I’m no longer stalled out in the querying trenches, spinning my wheels, and feeling like a loser.

I’ve begun building my book launch team and have been fortunate enough to have received excellent feedback from my readers. (And btw, all of you who have joined and been kind enough to let me know how you’re enjoying the book–THANK YOU! You have no idea how much it means that you’re willing to help. I suffer from imposter syndrome and doubt myself daily, so your words pull me out of some serious self-despising darkness).

If you haven’t joined my book launch team but would like to, click here to sign up to get your free review copy. Those who join, download the free ebook on launch day, and post their reviews will automatically be entered to win prizes.

giphy3

It’s tough to be a writer who’s not writing, but at least I’m getting closer to writing again. I am now a writer who is planning on writing and feeling the excitement bubble build inside. The bubble that will grow until it bursts and forces me to sit down and write because I won’t be able to think about anything else.

giphy4

I’ve decided to finally write the final two books for The Great Connection and turn it into a trilogy. I originally planned to do that, but then the query process smashed that thought into a million little pieces.

But now that I’m an indie author I can officially say, “Whatever, I’ll do what I want.”

giphy

So take that, gatekeepers. You can’t tell me what to write and you can’t keep my readers from making their own choices!

 

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.

giphy-downsized-large

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.

giphy

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.

IMG_5803

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.

giphy1

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

And as always…

*If you enjoy my blog, please give it a follow and subscribe using the popup window. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and I’m now on Pinterest. Please and thank you*

 

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

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.

giphy3

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.

giphy4

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?

giphy5

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.

giphy6

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.

giphy7

*If you enjoy my blog, please give it a follow and subscribe using the popup window. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please and thank you*

 

Blog

A little help from my friends

A little help from my friends

As some of you know, I’ve completed writing and editing my romance novel and am now at the querying stage. Recently, I came across the most interesting agent with an unusual submission process which I found extremely entertaining. He also sound a little bit like Seth Rogan and I had a fun time watching his videos on submission.

Anyway, this agent talked about the importance of having a platform and having a good one. (My platform is my following on social media, my blog, and email subscriber list. This shows that people are interested in me and my work.)

I only recently began to work hard on growing my platform. I had a different one before for another name under which I wrote middle-grade fantasy novels. I severed ties with my publisher and deleted all my accounts and started over in November 2017.

It’s always been extremely difficult for me to ask people for help but I need some support. I need your help growing my platform. I know there are quite a few of you who come over from Twitter to read my blog posts and I really appreciate it. It would help me so much more if you would also follow my blog. You can use the subscription window that pops up when you visit this blog or sign up to “follow” with WordPress, or even better, do both. If you’re hesitant to sign up with the popup subscription form, I just want to reassure you that I won’t share your email address with anyone or spam you.

-downsized_large

One more thing, I’d also appreciate if you’d follow my other accounts on social media sites where you’re active. I’m happy to follow back so if you’re one of my readers, leave a comment and let me know you followed because of this blog post and I’ll be sure to follow you back.

Here are the links to my social media accounts Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ 

Phew, I’ll admit, that was difficult for me. And I just want to say thanks again for reading my blog and supporting me. You have no idea how much it means to me. You’re all great!

Thank You Thank You Thank You GIF by Team USA-downsized_large