Archive for the ‘independent authors’ Tag

One Step At A Time   2 comments

“Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can.”

I don’t know who said that, but I learned from it.

If you want to join the Open Book Blog Hop’s focus on Courage or just want to see what my fellow writers have to say, check out the link.

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Every week, when I search for something to say about courage, I am confronted with what courage is and what it is not. Courage really isn’t about feeling or not feeling fear. It has nothing to do with doing great deeds (though sometimes great deeds are the product of courage). While courage can be helpful in conquering life-and-death situations, you don’t actually have to conquer those situations to display courage.

At root, courage is a form of tenacity, a refusal to quit when even when you’re exhausted, humiliated or broken. In that sense, it is as necessary in everyday life as it is in moments of great upheaval. Everyday courage may be more important than the ‘great deeds’ sort of course, because every one of us will be in everyday situations, while not all of us will be called upon in our lifetimes to perform great deeds.

This week, I’m formatting Mirklin Wood, the next in series after The Willow Branch, and it’s got me thinking about every day courage, because a writer who lacks courage will never succeed as author.

Before you start to laugh and call me “silly”, let’s examine what goes into authoring a novel. It is first and foremost an attempt to sell the products of your mind to a world that doesn’t care right now whether you exist. You’re going to strip your soul naked and parade it in front of an audience that might include editors and agents, publishers and readers. While you are reaching out to editors, agents and publishers, you’re going to fail. Over and over and over again, you are going to send out queries and they are going to come back with impersonal rejection letters … if you’re lucky … or, if you’re exceptionally talented, with the occasional signed memo that reads “This isn’t for us, but keep trying with others.” You are going to sit in a darkened room staring at your words wondering what you’re missing and doubting that you should keep trying.
Successful authors take one step more than they think they can, and then one step more after that, and another after that. Eventually you will sell something. You’ll get paid. You’ll ‘succeed.’ Your story or your book will enter the marketplace, and maybe you’ll do well with it, or maybe you won’t. In either case, let’s say you keep going. You sell again.

Or you could follow me into self-publishing. I got tired of being courageous in soft-rejection … “this isn’t for us, but keep trying with others.” I decided to stop the frustration of dealing with publishers and agents. So along with writing my own book, I do my own cover art, layout, editing, copyediting, uploading, selling, and promoting. I plan to someday be able to afford to hire out a few of those jobs, but in the meantime ….

Independent authors invest in themselves, in their ability to know what is good and to tell a story worth reading. We risk rejection by trying to reach readers directly, hoping to entertain them enough so they will not only like our first effort, but like it enough to search for our later works.

Even when you succeed, you will still fail. There will be hostile reviews, comments from critics questioning your talent, your vocation, your species. I once got a review on a writer’s website that made me cry (for the record, I am not easily prone to tears). These will, if you’re lucky, come interspersed with glowing reviews, a nice sell-through, an offer from your editor to buy the next thing you’re doing, or even a call from a publisher. The good times will run in parallel with the pain and will never really balance one another. I delight in the good reviews and am always hurt by the bad ones … for a moment.

Like me, if you want to be a successful author, you’ll take another few steps, and these seem easier. You do more books, find an audience, settle into a flow. You keep writing, keep selling, get fan mail, generate some nice reviews, be asked to speak at the local writers’ group, and become (as much as any writer ever does) a celebrity in your field. Even when you’ve reached your own definition of success, you will never leave the struggle behind. Every story and every book is another chance to fail just exactly as much as it is another chance to succeed. Every new level of success raises the bar higher, making failure more public and more painful … and more likely. Every day is a challenge, and every day requires courage.

Failure and success are as inseparably linked as inhaling is linked to exhaling. You cannot have one without the other, though you can live a safe life and have neither.

Courage is standing at the bottom of the mountain, knowing that the climb is going to hurt like hell and that you might never reach the top, and climbing anyway. Courage is saying “One more step. Just one more step,” when hands, knees and heart are bleeding. Courage is saying that you might let yourself quit tomorrow, but that you’re going to hang in today, just for now… and forgetting the next day is always today, and the next moment is always now.

Yeah, that’s my love of hiking in the Alaska mountains speaking, but the two are similar. I’ve done my share of failing, and I have the scars to show for it. It looks like there’s as much mountain above me as there ever was. When I look back, I can see that I’ve covered a surprising amount of ground, every bit of it one step at a time, but I haven’t reached the summit. I think it’s been worth the climb. .Part of the beauty comes from having survived the pain. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun.

This is only world of writing that exists. Every writer climbs the same mountain, each by our own path. It takes courage, but it only takes the sort of courage everybody can have—the courage not to quit when quitting would be the easy thing to do. There’s no heroics — no burning buildings or rescuing drowning children from shark-infested waters. You won’t even have to hang by your fingertips like the young lady above. It’s everyday courage — taking one more step — as if you’re climbing a mountain on your own two feet. Remember to keep your head up, brush the dirt off your face and pick the gravel out of your palms when you fall, and know that every other person who climbed the mountain has done the same thing.

May you have the courage to fail, because it is the courage to succeed.

Interview with Dyane Forde, Indie Author   5 comments

Dyane FordeMy friend Dyane Forde visited me following her decision to end contract with her publisher. She is now fully an indie author. Check out my earlier interview with her here.

 

Talk a bit about the Purple Morrow and where the sequel is in process.

 

The idea for The Purple Morrow started a few years back when I wanted to explore themes related to loss, redemption, and moving forward. The story of a man unable to deal with the past while being thrown into a crisis demanding that he settle things and move on seemed a good place to start.

Purple MorrowThe Purple Morrow started very simply; I’d intended it to be a solo book. But as the story developed and the characters matured, I knew the full tale had to be explored. The world of Marathana blossomed, becoming multi-cultural, each people group following their own cultural or religious beliefs. Magic and spirituality are also firmly rooted in this world and play essential roles in determining which side–good or evil–will prevail. I had a full-fledged trilogy on my hands.

 

At the moment, Wolf’s Bane, the sequel is is scheduled for release February 23! I’m really excited about its release, as I’ve been wrestling with this book for a while. It was hard! The scale and scope of the story is larger than Morrow. This book takes the reader deeper into the conflict developing across Marathana, introduces the reader to new players and people groups, and drastically raises the stakes. Questions of identity, and individual choice versus the greater good are explored. Jeru struggles to take difficult steps forward in his destiny while Kelen fights a new evil dogging his every move, all of it leading to a devastating end. It was the biggest challenge yet, but I am thrilled with the result.

 

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords (1)Why did you choose to leave your publisher and go independent?

 

In honest truth, there were a few reasons. First, I didn’t like dealing with the limits. I like to be in control, and having to go through someone else to organize a giveaway or set up a coupon, or upload the book to other distribution platforms, for example, were major problems. Second, I didn’t like not knowing exactly how many sales I was making. I am sure they were honest, but money is money and when it comes to that, I want to see the details, real time. Third, I had to buy my own books to sell. Now to be fair, this is how I sold the most books and made the most money, BUT producing paperbacks and shipping them over the border (I live in Canada) was expensive. I only ordered one shipment because the second time around the cost of production had gone up. At that point, I said, “This is crazy. I can’t even afford to produce my own books!” Fourth, splitting sales with a publisher whom I had already paid to produce the book when I was essentially doing all my own marketing and publicity was another big issue for me. So I decided enough was enough. I’d learn to produce my own books to the best of my ability and manage the whole shebang myself. Voilà!

 

Talk a bit about your experience with going independent.

See all that bravado up above? That got me to the point of getting out of the contract with the publisher and to produce an ebook and print version of Morrow (the latter is not yet available), but it didn’t prepare me for the burden of carrying the whole thing by myself. Yes it was good to be in control, but it was also frighteningly discouraging to suddenly be aware that sales might not be as swift as I had hoped/thought (maybe ignorance IS bliss). I was faced with the reality that in order to sell I had to get my act together more now than ever. It was a taste of reality I hadn’t been ready for.

 

Also, getting books into stores (brick and mortar) is harder without a publisher backing you. So that is also something to be aware of, for those who are looking to see their books in a storefront or something.

 

That being said, for the time being, I don’t think I would want it any other way. I like the flexibility to write the books I want to write, without having to conform to an editor or publisher’s expectation of what will sell. I used to be stressed out that, without a publisher, I wouldn’t be taken seriously or that I wasn’t a legitimate writer. But through this experience, and others, I’ve come to realize that I like who I am as a writer, and that the stories I tell best are those that come from me. My voice and style are unique to me, as are the ideas and themes I choose to explore. Some people will ‘get’ me and some won’t. That’s okay. I might never be famous or see my books sell tons of copies, but for those who do enjoy my books and stories, I can rest in the knowledge that, for the hours they came along for the ride, we connected. Maybe even had a few thrills and shared some laughs, too. And maybe, when they put the book down, they’ll want to see what’s in store for them in the next one. 🙂 What more can a writer ask for?

 

Whatever else you would like to add.

I love chatting with readers, so if you’ve enjoyed reading about my writing journey, I’d love to hear from you. My contact links are below. Oh, and my blog is open to featuring writers of all levels who are trying to get themselves ‘out there’, so drop me a line if that’s you. It’s been said that writing is a lonely art, but it doesn’t have to be. We are a community, so let’s connect! 🙂

 

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