Authors will spend relentless hours writing, rewriting, and editing their books and many of them will never be compensated for their time at even a minimum wage rate. I am not referring to only self-published authors. Anyone who has ever delved into creative expression knows what kind of time and dedication I’m speaking about. So please think twice before you watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a song that has been pirated. Stealing cheapens the multitude of hours a creative soul spent on their achievements. Please think about the golden rule when it comes to an artist’s creative property.
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While doing some research online, I discovered an article that lumped all indie authors and their books into one category: a waste of money. The author’s goal was to inform the public on how to avoid buying a horrible indie book. No, I will not share the link because there was only a dash of truth in his rant. He was wrong for the most part because he forgot about so many writers who invest in their work.
This blog got me thinking about creativity in general and how much creative people struggle in silence.
Writers and Artists pour their souls into their projects for months or even years. Sleepless nights become common as their minds continue to spin wanting to make their creation the best it can be. They are dedicated souls and most people have no idea the angst creative people go through to create. Most of them struggle with ever sharing anything, knowing deep down that it will never even be close to the perfection they seek.
Even the brave ones are easily discouraged when they attempted to share their work. Without connections, a platform, or the money they need to advertise, their treasures will go unnoticed and many artists will even become depressed. Their art will no longer bring them joy, but pain. What once was something that helped them through dark-times will become the reason they live in the darkness.
Nothing pains me more than to see an artist who has fallen to the beast of bitterness. They no longer enjoy that part of their being, and they wish they could kill the creativity inside that reminds them of failures and only brings pain. This is not an uncommon story. Many great artists were never recognized as such until their bones were buried. I don’t even need to name their names because you know them. Most likely, friends have even told you how the best never get attention until their dead. And that’s just what you needed to here. (sarcasm)
The world has changed some for artists though. Esty has opened up a platform for artists sell to their work to others. Tons of talented jewelry makers, designers, painters, and others fill the Esty marketplace it’s overwhelming. Film Festivals and digital cameras have allowed independent film-makers to compete where money once stopped them. And some have thrived. E-books and POD has done the same for authors, but masses of people upload files daily that never were invested in. This has created a stigma against self-published and indie authors. Just think about Esty and all the wonderful things you find from people sharing their creative projects.
But, the publishing word is still trying to exclude the independent presses and authors by pointing to the sloppy, unedited, poorly written, debauchery ridden, books and dismissing all who are independent of large publishing companies.
I believe this stigma can be undone. The indie world needs some kind of gatekeepers to make a difference. The answer to this problem seems quite easy. There are readers all around us. They can be the gatekeepers by supporting authors who have invested in their work. Some readers have already begun to find well done indie books that can compete with mainstream publishing houses. When an author chooses the independent route, the worry of them being lumped in with the stigma of self-published inspires them to invest in every aspect of publishing in hopes to set themselves apart.
Honestly, there is a ton of sub-par art out in this world. Films, art, music, and so on are released on a weekly basis because have they received a stamp of approval some company who had the money to produce a product. Not all gates are kept well. The wonderful thing about indie authors is that there are jewels among the swine. And finding the treasure is not as hard as you think. Let me challenge you to seek out the authors who are investing in their own work. You are a Gatekeeper for independent writers.
You don’t have to love their story, or their genre, to realize they have talent. Art is subjective. But, what you can do is watch for authors who invest in themselves. Watch for the writers who are working hard to improve no matter what is thrown at them. Encourage others when you see them working hard. Share positive reviews with others; it’s a boost that will help that creative soul continue their plight.
Being around creatively minded people most of my life I’ve seen very talented people who continue to go unrecognized, but would recognition fulfill them? No, but the words and support of truthful friends can be enough to keep them moving forward. Creative people don’t want the whole world to love what they create, most would settle for a few people to be moved by their work. Your support could be enough to keep them going.
One of the hardest things experienced in my life is a loved one who quit writing and doing anything creative for the most part. I spent years trying to encourage them to not. One of the reasons I started writing again was I wanted to inspire them. After years of misery at the thought of creating anything, they wrote this past week and they enjoyed it. This was my Christmas miracle. Let’s support artists and encourage them to keep creating. The world we live in has offered you, the reader, a great opportunity to be Gatekeepers of the independent artists.
I like finding new authors I know from Twitter, Goodreads, or other groups and checking out their stuff. While doing this, I have noticed a few things that authors can do to help me and other potential readers in their search.
First, an author needs a good photo that they can consistently use for all their accounts. I recommend you hire a photographer, but if you can’t right away. Here are a few tips to get a better photo. Use your phone or have a friend take a pick with their camera. Here’s the trick. Utilize the natural light outside on an overcast day, or wait until the sun goes behind a cloud. If it’s too bright out, find a lightly shaded area. If you utilize the shade, you can brighten it up a bit with an app. Try a few different angles so you have options. Now that you have a nice photo, utilize it on all your sites. This makes it easier to find you and your books, and readers know they have found the correct author.
Next, why authors are not using the author page on Amazon confuses me. It’s free. Again, have the exact same photo you are using everywhere else and set up your author page on Amazon. I would say over 70% of the authors I check out do not have their author page set up. So sad.
Finally, why is your book on Amazon and not on Goodreads? Goodreads is free. Use the identical author info as you do on the Amazon page and the same photo, and you’re good. I use goodreads to keep up with books I’m interested in reading in the future. It is my reading to-do list. And when I find your book on Amazon or your website, but it’s not on goodreads how will I remember I wanted to read your book? I probably won’t. You are possibly loosing me as a future buyer and others as well.
Uniformity is a wonderful thing. It helps you the author been seen in many places across the internet and it makes it easy for potential readers to find you. I goggled my name and book title before writing this. My blog was the top link and from there a hypothetical reader can find my book easily. They can also be sure they have the correct author because my photos are all the same. This may sound like a no brainier to some, but with all the research I’ve done on fellow authors and their books lately. I’ve found this is not the case.
So, make it easier for me and other potential readers to find you and your books online by making your sites, blog, and social media accounts more uniform.
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I didn’t grow up reading like many authors. I grew up on films. I loved movies and not just current films. I watched films from the black and white era, mysteries, musicals, and more. I made my parents rent the film The Labyrinth every time we went to the video store. (Some of you have never rented from one of those. They’ve become extinct.) Instead of reading stories, I was watching them. I learned about plot and character from film.
Even though I didn’t read much, I liked the idea of books. The first book I read, other than children’s books, was a Nancy Drew mystery. I sat in my room on a Saturday and read the whole book. After that, I didn’t read for a long while. But eventually C.S. Lewis and Frank Pertetti caught my attention with their stories. My lack of reading had to do with my endurance. I would lose my place on the page and daydream if I got bored.
To this day, I have difficulty finishing books if they don’t draw me in.
So how does a non-reader become an author?
There is no doubt I loved stories. I even earned a BA in video production, and became photographer as well. I’ve lived behind the camera for years.
But about 7 years ago, I stared reading young adult novels and I never quit. Over those years, I didn’t keep count of how many books I read. However, I read so much that it inspired me. And over two years ago, I started writing once again.(See my blog post: Why I stopped writing.)
My biggest hope is not that people will love my book, although a few fangirls would be nice. Instead, I hope someone like me, who lost their passion for something they enjoyed, will find their way back and create something that surprises them.
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What if I never get published? What if I never get an agent? What if no one buys my book? What if someone hates my book and slanders me? What if all my twitter followers unfollow me, because they think the cover sucks? What if….?
Negativity is damaging to your creative juice, your muse, your mojo, whatever you choose to call it. And what ifs apply to more than writing. What ifs can really mess up your thinking.
Every successful writer I’ve chatted with has something in common. They never gave up. They pushed past the negative what ifs, and keep moving forward. One writer in particular now comes to mind. She wrote for 20 years before she landed an agent and a book deal. She kept writing, because she loved it.
So what if, these things never happen. If you love writing, it won’t really matter. You will write because it’s your air, and without it there is no breath. So today change your what ifs.
What if they love my book, even though I’m an indie author? What if readers create fan art. What if readers demand more? What if that agent loves my next novel? What if my twitter followers stick by me during the ups and downs? What if my story can help somebody else keep writing?
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On my resource page, you’ll find, The Hero’s Journey, or monomyth, which was devised by Joseph Campbell. The Hero’s Journey suggests the idea that all great stories have the same characters. When I started reading THE YELLOW HOODS: Along Came a Wolf (Book 1): An Emergent Steampunk Series by fellow twitter writer, Adam Dreece, I realized within the first few chapters his characters fit within the Hero’s Journey archetypes.
THE HERO: Tee
THE SHADOW: Andre LeLoup
THE HERALD: You’re going to have to read the book to find out.
THE MENTOR:Nikolas Klaus
THRESHOLD GUARDIANS: LeLoup’s henchman
SHAPESHIFTER: There is one
TRICKSTERS:The Cochon Brothers
Click photo to buy on Amazon
I really enjoyed Adam’s book because he has a knack for storytelling, and he followed Joseph Campbell’s archetypes by instinct.
What book or movie do you love? Does it follow the Hero’s Journey? If you’re a writer does your current work in progress follow this model?
My favorite example of the Hero’s Journey is Happy Gilmore.
Here are some links that use this example.
Young Adult written for everyone
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What are the writing blues? I’m not sure. I just made it up. I wanted to address the blah I feel from time to time about my writing. You know when the passion and excitement seem to have disappeared and you don’t want to even open the story you’ve been working on? I’ve found out part of the problem. I’m not writing for me.
Maybe you’ve been querying and gotten a few rejections and it’s made you second guess yourself. Or maybe you’ve worked on a novel for over 2 years and you’ve become burnt out. Why is that? Art needs to be seen. Take my photography for example, I get the most joy when someone views a photo and it touches them. It makes all the hard work worth it.
But, with writing, it may be years before more than a few people read your manuscript. Writers want to be read. They write to share the stories, feelings, ideas, adventures, mysteries, and fears.
What does this have to do with the writing blues?
If no one’s reading your writing, that defeats your purpose, right? You wish to be read. And if you’re like me, you try to make people feel something or take them on an adventure. And if you’re constantly getting rejections to have agents or editors read your writing it’s like slowly taking all the air out of your balloon. Or for me it drains the passion from my soul.
How do you overcome the writing blues?
Write for you. Write what you love, a story that you can’t put down. Do not seek to follow trends or what’s popular. For me, that means I need to quit trying to please an imaginary person that may or may not read my work. However, what I need to do is make my story the best story possible. Sharing with trusted critique partners and beta readers to challenge me.
As for getting your work out there, develop a plan for your novel. Self-publishing is one option that many authors are considering. However, if you don’t want to self-publish you can join sites like Figment and share your work. Various writers on there will swap stories and give feedback. There are some really serious grammar people on there too, who are willing to contribute too. Figment is where I tested the first chapter of my novel. The feedback I received gave me the push needed to finish writing my the novel. Do not forget to be professional, no matter where you are talking and posting work.
Have you ever had the writing blues? What do you think caused them and what changes can you make to protect your writing from joy thieves?
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I recently tried to color my hair red again. The red turned out way too intense, not the color I wanted at all. But, it’s what I did the next day that reminded me of editing.
I had two options. Option one, leave it alone and let it fade, but eventually I would have to fix the shade. I chose option two, to pull out the red, knowing my color would get worse before it got better. I was right. My hair was now orange and patched with blond. There may have even been some blue tint on some of the blonde pieces. Even worse my hair was damaged. And the brief thought that I should shave my head crossed my mind.
What happened next surprised me though, I didn’t cry. I’d been through this before and I knew orange hair was part of the process to get my hair back to a more natural shade. I conditioned my hair with coconut oil and made a second trip to the beauty supply store with all my hair tucked under my cap. I needed help.
Editing is much like this process. You’ve finished your manuscript but it’s not right yet. You need some advice, some critiques, and feedback. Finally the email arrives with what you hope are praises. You stare at pages and pages of overwhelming notes. You may even cry. You may want to quit writing all together. Your manuscript looks like a bad hair color. A really bad hair color and you feel like you may not be able to fix it or are even qualified to fix it. You want to ignore all the comments, and say forget them I’ll just leave it. But, how will you ever learn. I was able to laugh at my orange hair because I knew it was part of the process. And so is this mess of notes you now have.
So now what? You fix your manuscript, just like I fixed my hair. To be a writer you have to be willing to edit and change things. The secret is to know what you are willing to change and what you can’t live without. My hair is now a color, not the best color, but it’s way better than it was. I still have a few more steps to get it back. First, I need to condition it every few days and wait 3-4 weeks before doing anymore coloring. And getting a trim is necessary. I may lose an inch or two, but it’s better than having dead ends and unhealthy hair. Your story probably needs some trimming. You may loose characters and cut scenes, but if you want your story to be done well, this is part of that process. Even worse you have to change the whole story line. Editing is a big part of what makes you a writer. You have to be willing to strip away pieces and pour in the new gems if you want to become a stronger writer.
So now you edited and worked hard on the plot holes, built up relationships, and enhanced your world, it’s time to send your baby out again. But, hopefully when you get your notes back they will be way less frustrating and you can add the highlights. Just like my hair will need to be highlighted in a few weeks.
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Fast forward to my college years, I’m studying Electronic Media Production because there isn’t much writing required. It’s how I chose to cope with my dyslexia. It was cameras, editing machines, teleprompters, and even a TV studio on campus. I hung with people from the theater program and helped on plays. My husband, Joe, saw me having a grand time and became interested in writing screenplays. Not a surprise, because he always showed an interested in reading and writing. In the evening, I would work at the theater and dream of making films. But, what was going to happen once we both graduated?
My degree was in film and the technology, but the equipment I was trained on was its way out. At the time, we figured that our options were limited to either going to film school together, or moving to Los Angeles. After visiting Los Angeles we decided to pack up and head west. I got a little taste of working in the “business” while I was out there. I worked as an assistant for a talent agent, but that didn’t end well. I was on the night camera crew for a game show called CRAM. You can Google it. I also worked as a background actor, until I had to get a real job with a finance company. I never really tried to get another job working in the industry until I saw an ad to produce commercials. I took the job because I could work from home. I had 2 kids by this point. I ended up producing about 20 local commercials for tattoo parlors for about 6-8 months.
During this time, Joe was going through his own struggles while working with a couple of producers on different screenplays , but they never worked out. He also got a certificate in screenwriting. I always saw him as the writer and me as the one running the cameras. Sometimes I helped with story lines and ideas, but I never wrote anything. When I produced the commercials, he wrote the voice-overs. During this whole time I would wait on Joe to write a short film or come up with something we could make for fun. And before we moved back to the east coast, we sunk our money into a short film called Open Season. It was in a few festivals, good for our very first attempt at producing a short film. And you’re only as good as your next film, book, or art piece. Am I right? But as filmmakers know, it costs to make a film. It cost a lot and it takes an army.
LA was a bust for us because we couldn’t survive, raise a family, and be in the “business”. So when Joe’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we chose to move back so we could spend time with his Dad. In some ways it felt like a failure, but it wasn’t. It brought new opportunities and we made a film the summer we moved back. Joe was hired as a teacher, and I was hired to teach photography, a position in program that lost it’s funding after the first year. We haven’t given up making our films and our next goal is a feature.
However, after all these years I realized I couldn’t wait on Joe anymore. I was putting too much pressure on him. For years, I had nagged Joe to write the story I dreamed up while working at that movie theater in college. I was so persistent. He used the idea in a screenwriting class through UCLA. Sadly, he never completed it. I still have the thirty pages he did write.
In March 2013, I began scribbling down the first rough chapter in a cheap college ruled notebook. Writing this story began stirring a passion in me. After so many years, I really wanted this story to be created. But, I had to do it.
Me, the girl who, at one point in her life, could not focus long enough to read through one page in a book without daydreaming was going to write. The girl who believed a lie and had run from the written word for years was about to attempt an impossible task.
But, maybe I wasn’t the same girl. I had now read over 100 YA novels, a key to writing. Day after day, I found myself drawn to write more, it was exciting creating a story in this way. For years, I had only worked with my cameras making films and taking photos. I had been writing about a month when Joe confessed he could never write this story, because it wasn’t his to write. “It’s your story,” he said.
My story? It was mine because I had the passion and the drive to create the characters and see it through to the end. Thank you, Joe, for saving my story for me.
A little over a year later I have about an 80,000 word manuscript. on its 15th draft or more. I’ve lost count. It’s out there in the query trenches, which encourages me as a storyteller. I still have the notebook with the first chapter I scribbled down, and all the little notes and papers that turned into a novel. And if I am blessed to partner with a press to publish this work, I will let you know. But, for now I’m writing. I’m writing the stories that are inside me. The ones that are intertwined in my life in mysterious ways only God knows. They are puzzles inside me, demanding to be finished. And I am driven to work on them until every last piece is in the right place.
What story are you called to write? The one only you can tell with your swirling thoughts. It’s your story to write. Now go write it.
Edited by Loren Neal find her on twitter @
I was tagged by J. Davidson to attempt to explain my writing process to you. Please check out his blog post as well at: aboyandhisdreams.com
Let’s get right to the questions.
- What are you working on right now?
A magician never tells her secrets. But I can say, I have two projects going on. I am focusing on the YA one. And you won’t believe I met a girl who is going through what my MC is going through, and I’m going to be her wedding photographer. That just blows my mind. You don’t even know. I told her about the story and she was so excited.
- How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I don’t do surface level stuff. I want to dig deep into the emotional lives of my characters. I worry maybe they come across too raw at times. I remind myself to be fearless every time I write.
- Why do I write?
Writing is my passion and I can’t allow that to ever be taken away from me again. I write the stories inside that claw their way out. I also write for the people who will love my stories, not the ones who won’t get it. Reading is a form of entertainment. And I write to entertain not only myself, but the reader. My goal is to hook the reader and take them on a journey that will keep them wanting more. I go with my convictions and write what I, as a reader, would want to read.
- How does my writing process work?
I grew up on movies of all kinds, and film influences my storytelling as much as books. My stories start with an idea or a scene I visualize in my head. I know the beginning and ending of the story and my writing process takes me on the journey. I constantly work on the plot of the story in my head before I sit down to write. I only know so far ahead at times, but things really get moving when the characters take over.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. Gasps. If I’m stuck, it’s because I don’t know my characters well enough or I haven’t broke the story. So, I’ll stop writing and do more thinking until it clicks. If that doesn’t work, I’ll print out what I’ve written and start reading and editing from the beginning. This helps me bond with my characters, and my writing will start moving forward again. I could probably edit my book once it’s finished and in print. I have no problem editing, because I’m a perfectionist. If it doesn’t work I’ll do what is needed.
I’ve tagged Paige Randall read about her process by clicking here.
I also invited Susan Kicklighter to join the blog hop. Click here to read about her writing process.