The Everyday Author

For authors who can't quit their day jobs...yet

Year: 2014 (page 1 of 2)

We’re taking a break for the holidays!

Hey there Everyday Authors,

We’ve decided to take a couple of weeks off for the crazy holiday season to spend time with friends and family and also to catch up on a couple of huge publishing projects of our own.  Until then, don’t miss our latest post: How to survive the holidays as a writer.  Our December newsletter is still going out but we’ll get back to you with more great blog content on Saturday, January 3. Until then, happy holidays and happier writing!

DAS

How to survive the holidays as a writer

The holidays are in full swing and, if you’re like me, you’re trying to balance being an authorpreneur along with everything else that goes hand in hand with the most wonderful time of the year. No matter how long your holiday to-do list is, if you’re not prepared for the storm, your tidy, organized writing schedule is in serious danger of being snowed under. Following these three simple tips can help you survive the holidays as a writer, even with Santa banging down your door.

Buddy-the-Elf-on-the-EscalatorAllow for some flexibility

Even without factoring in writing, everything is hectic this time of year. While you should do all you can to keep your writing habits in tact over the holidays, remember that you’re going to have to work around a lot of things (shopping, parties, etc.) that don’t normally impact your writing schedule. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to train yourself to write in the cracks. The less stipulations you place around your writing zone, the more productive you’ll be. Right now, I’ve got a manuscript with an editor, am going through the rough draft of another and preparing to publish the first installment of a serial all at the same time. I’d never get anything done if I waited for two hours of revision time to come along.

Give yourself a breakBing Crosby Danny Kaye, Sisters

No, seriously. Planning and attending parties, shopping and making fruitcake is stressful enough on its own. On top of that, you may have just finished NaNoWriMo as well. Unless you’re Mr. Scrooge himself, there will be days when there’s just too much going on to hit your wordcount. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with closing the laptop, kicking your feet up by the fire and reading a good book or watching a Christmas special. If you feel like you’re slacking, just remember that inspiration comes from everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. Despite what you may think, one day off here and there won’t make a bit of difference. Avoiding the second mistake is what really matters.

Share your talentscharliebrownschristmastales-01

Two years ago, I gave my parents a rough draft of my first novel for Christmas (don’t worry, they got other stuff too). I released that book, Out of Exile, the week before Thanksgiving last year. Although I was proud of it, I still had a hard time giving permission to call myself a writer, and didn’t really talk about it too much. Even so, the word got out and my co-workers and family wanted to know about this secret endeavor of mine that had just come to light. Although I wouldn’t recommend trying to sell spare copies of your latest book at your work party, the holidays are a great time to share your passions with family and friends. Your writing can also be a special, one-of-a-kind gift to your loved ones.

Do you have any tips for surviving the holidays as a writer? If so, tell us below!

 wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913 Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

What to do after NaNoWriMo

For better or worse, NaNoWriMo is over on Monday. You’ve gone through the highs and lows, pondered your sanity and pounded out thousands of words of prose. Now that you’re ready to come emerge from your self-imposed writer exile, you’re probably wondering what to do after NaNoWriMo? Here’s some quick advice.

1. Finish that draft!

Even if you hit your word count goal, your novel might still not be done. Keep that momentum going. Don’t fall off the wagon now that you’ve spent a hard-earned month developing that writing habit — keep on trucking! The longer you can string together consecutive days, the more ingrained a behavior becomes. While other writers are making New Year’s resolutions to write consistently, you’re already two months ahead of the game.

nanowrimo_2_w2. Add some elbow grease

Just because you’ve typed “The End” doesn’t mean your book is done. As Sean Platt of the Self Publishing Podcast advises: say it, say what you mean, say it well. Your manuscript will need at least a second draft and a professional edit. Although it’s perfectly fine to take a month or so off from the project so you can revise with fresh eyes (rhyme intended), don’t let that writing habit we just talked about fall my the wayside. Work on a short story or another book in between the first and second draft. When you do come back to your work, pretend you’re going over it not as the author, but as your ideal reader. Keep a notebook handy to jot down any changes you’d like to make and ideas you have. If you spot any copy errors, fix them! The less work your editor has to do, the happier both of you will be.

3. Start on the next book

If you’re serious about becoming a full-time author, you need to develop a catalog. Even Hugh Howey had several books out before Wool went wild. Starting out, the best thing you can do is put your nose back to the grindstone and write another novel. It’s time to apply everything you’ve learned and improve on it — outline better and write faster using a stronger voice.

Silhouette of Success4. Give yourself a pat on the back

Seriously, good job! Whether you conquered NaNoWriMo or not, you still took action and that’s the most important thing. When you’re immersed in the writing world all the time, it’s easy to feel like writing a book isn’t that big of deal. It is. For every author in this business, there are three people out there who have a book in their heads but don’t the courage do anything more than dream about it. You’re making your dreams come true and you there’s not reason not to be proud of your efforts.

How did your NaNoWriMo go? Comment below and tell us about your successes (or failures).

 wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913 Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

Author Origins: Michael Sullivan

Author Michael SullivanMichael J. Sullivan is a publishing veteran, using a wide range of tools including: self, small-press, big-five, Kickstarter, print-only, foreign translations, and audio to get his stories “out there.” His best-selling debut series, The Riyria Revelations, was released by Hachette Book Group, has sold more than half a million copies, been translated into fifteen foreign languages, and appeared on more than ninety-five “best of” or “most anticipated” lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Audible.com. His most recently released work, Hollow World, is classic social science fiction reminiscent of Asimov, Wells, and Heinlein. Michael’s current project is The First Empire, a four-book epic fantasy which explores the difference between myths and legends and the true account of historical events. It challenges what it means to be a hero and the impact of ordinary people, long forgotten over time. Michael posts about the business side of writing for Amazing Stories Magazine and is a host of the writing podcast Hide and Create. You can learn more about Michael at his website www.riyria.com.

Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

Thanks for having me. I’m Michael J. Sullivan author of twenty-six books (nine published, three in the queue). I’ve wanted to be a novelist ever since I was eight or nine years old when I found an electric typewriter in the basement of a friend’s house. To be honest, I never thought it would be possible to make a living this way, so that was never a goal. Almost every author has some form of horror story about their difficulties, and I’m no different. I spent over a decade writing and then quit because I wasn’t getting anywhere. I concluded writing had been an incredible waste of my time, and I vowed never to write creatively again. I stayed away for a decade before relenting…but only on the condition that I wouldn’t seek publication. Interestingly enough, it was those set of books that got me on the scene when my wife decided to handle the publishing aspects. As to where I am now, I’ve been a full-time novelist for the last four years and one of the lucky few who earn a good living from doing what I love the most.

What was/is the hardest thing about balancing writing with everyday life and/or a day job?

I’m one of the few who never had to balance writing with a day job. The first time around I was a stay-at-home dad and wrote when the kids were napping, or after my wife came home. When I wanted to return to writing, my wife was extremely supportive, and since her income was substantial, we could live comfortably on her paycheck. I’m grateful to return the favor, and she quit her job three years ago. As for balance, I find I can’t write well if that’s all I focus on and always “mix it up” with other activities including physical and educational.

Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

I start off each morning with coffee (essential), some oatmeal and fruit, and some time reading the paper and checking out the Internet. After that, I’ll read a few pages of an author whose writing I enjoy as it helps to “prime the pump” if you will and get my head in a “writing space.” I’ll write through until lunch, where I’ll take a break with my wife. If I haven’t hit my word count, I’ll write a bit more in the afternoon. Usually, though, that is my time for physical activity.  I’ll go for a bike ride, a jog, or workout. Depending on the time of year I’ll do something artistic (like painting) and in the evenings, I usually read, which often is something non-fiction so I can learn something new.

(Optional Question) If you don’t mind, would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?

I initially published through a small press (before ebooks came on the scene) and I have no idea how they sold (I never received a royalty report or any money). Once I started self-publishing, I had a much better feel for things. With just one book out, I was happy to sell a few books a week. When it got to a book a day, I was ecstatic. I released my books on a six-month schedule, and they went something like this:

  • April 2009 book #2 was released: sales started at 100 and went to 250 by the next release
  • October 2009 book #3 released:  sales 250 then growing to 500
  • April 2010 book #4 released: sales quickly grew to about 1,000 a month
  • Oct 2010 book #5 released and that month’s sales were 2,600. But in Nov, Dec Jan and Feb they were 9,500, 10,500, 11,500 and 12,500 respectively. We negotiated a deal with Orbit during the first part of October and Orbit’s versions went up for pre-sale in March 2011. My self-published books stayed on the market until August 2011 (Orbit books were released in November – January) but I’m not sure what the sales were. I wasn’t promoting the self-published books, and it was definitely less than over the Christmas but I don’t recall the exact numbers.

At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?

During that Nov 2010 – Feb 2011 time period, income was really high $45,000 – $55,000 a month. Plus we had a six-figure offer from one of the big-five. Usually, a multiple-book contract will be paid out over many years. In my case, all the books were all written (and scheduled for release in three consecutive months: November 2011 – January 2012). Because of this, I saw the full amount fairly quickly. By April 2011, I had enough cash reserves to pay all the household bills for more than two years. With that kind of cushion, it seemed a safe bet for my wife to quit her day job. Still, writing income when traditionally published can be sporadic so we always have a good cushion on hand. If push comes to shove, Robin will have plenty of time to get a “real job” if needs be. I love having her at home, so I’m incentivized to keep the income flowing and repay her for years of doing similarly for me.

What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?

I have a fairly “open” online persona so most people know a lot about me. The one thing they may not know is when I get “stuck” with a plot I go for walks and have out loud conversations with myself. There is something about doing that aloud that activates a different part of my brain, which usually provides a solution. My hobbies outside of writing include: biking, hiking, jogging, painting, gaming, and hanging out at the local pub with some writer friends of mine.

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?

I’m always harping on three being a magic number. I see too many authors spending too much time promoting themselves when they have only one book available for sale. Until you have three books, you should be hyper focused on writing more books.  Once you have three books out, then you can spend more time on promotional activities, but doing so before then just won’t be productive. You really need readers who buy multiple books from you, so you need to make getting multiple books your number one priority.

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to touch on?

Not really, it’s been pretty comprehensive. I’ll just say in closing that this is a profession that rewards two things: persistence and quality. If you can write a book that people love so much they’ll tell others about it, and you can produce books at a fairly consistent rate then there is no reason you can’t find success. If you self-publish, make sure you are putting out a book that can go toe-to-toe with those released from New York. You owe it to yourself and to your readers to put out only your best.

Guest Post: Are You Ready To Publish? How Crowdfunding Can Help You

Reader’s Note: This week, we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from Justine Schofield, the Development Director at Pubslush, a crowdfunding site just for authors. As a special bonus for our readers, you can sign up for a free Pubslush account using the promo code EVERYDAY to receive The Guide: Tips to Successful Crowdfunding.

Pubslush High-Res-Logo

In the current publishing landscape, it has become the author’s responsibility to build their platform, grow and engage with their audience and develop a marketing plan for their books. One of the biggest pitfalls of publishing can be when an author is overly eager to publish. Many times, authors end up impulsively publishing before they’ve developed the platform that will help them sell books.

Building an author platform needs to begin well before an author releases their first book. Being established and having an interested audience for an upcoming book will build the momentum necessary to stand out in the market. Now, crowdfunding offers authors a tangible way to rally support from early readers and continue to build upon their established platform.

In basic terms, crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for an upcoming project by soliciting the support of the crowd—aka the author’s network and audience. For authors with an established platform, crowdfunding allows them to test the market by promoting and building excitement around an upcoming book.

Crowdfunding fits seamlessly into the publishing process and can help authors to:

  • Raise funds. Of course, a crowdfunding campaign is a way to raise funds for publishing or marketing costs. The basis of crowdfunding is to fund projects and ideas. Authors can use the funds raised to help produce a high-quality product.
  • Collect pre-orders. Every supporter of a crowdfunding project receives something in return for their financial pledge, which makes crowdfunding a natural way for authors to collect pre-orders. Authors are able to sell books and fulfill orders before publication and early readers can be rallied to promote and review the book once it’s published.
  • Talk about and drive traffic to a book before it’s published. Building a buzz around a book before it’s published is essential for success. If an author waits until the book is released to begin promotions, their book is starting out a step behind. It’s difficult to promote a product that doesn’t yet exist, but a crowdfunding campaign provides a tangible platform that an author can drive traffic to and market their upcoming book.
  • Engage with early readers. A crowdfunding campaign page is an all-encompassing look at not just the book, but the author’s story as well. Authors are able to connect with readers on a more personal level and provide them with much more than they would get from shopping at a local bookstore or Amazon. There is little to no connection between authors and readers in the traditional market, but crowdfunding works to help build and foster important connections.
  • Share their book with a wider audience. Crowdfunding presents a unique discoverability aspect. Supporters of crowdfunding projects generally enjoy being part of the creation process and are more likely to share their support with their own network, allowing for an author to be more easily discovered outside of their established audience.

It’s essential for authors to start thinking of their book as a business and manufacture themselves as entrepreneurs. To gain traction in the book market, authors must know how to stand out and crowdfunding can help them to do just that.

The ability to talk about their book and prove market viability during the publishing process is priceless and can help authors to build their platform and the momentum necessary to practice more informed and successful publishing.

Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a pre-publication platform that offers crowdfunding and pre-order options to authors and publishers. A writer at heart, Justine received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. A prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding, she is a regular contributor to The Future of Ink, Business Banter and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter

A New Book is like Christmas Morning

A new book is like Christmas morning. It is a package of adventure and knowledge, wrapped in interesting paper, tied up with a bow, contents waiting to be discovered. Every time that I begin to read a story of my own choosing it is with the expectation that I will discover hidden gems and rare experiences to be found only in this tale.

It is exciting to be led morsel to morsel by a clever author. Not so obviHandcrafted and ecological Christmas packageous that you solve the mystery or find the end of the story before it is time to—but in an ordered, sensible way. It can be thrilling to immerse yourself in a story that bounces around and excites the mind with multiple possibilities, so much so, that you search for the point of the story until the ending. How skilled are authors who can write like this?

Most authors write with the desire to engage their audience. They also want to be engaged in what they are writing. We know that writing is work. Work shouldn’t be tedious, especially in the creative professions. I have written in previous posts that while reading a good book, I am in the midst of the action. It plays out in my mind’s eye as in a movie. Surprise, surprise—while writing my favorite stories the same thing occurs. I am engaged in the writing, so much so, that I write well beyond my time and word goals for the day, and only stop when my body cries out for food or rest.

As an author, I strive to write like that everyday. Authors know though, that things happen to stifle that state of writing. Maybe you have a 9 to 5 job, the phone beckons, children and pets intrude, or your spouse ‘suggests’ that a day off is necessary. Rysa Walker, author of The Chronos Files Series-Timebound, Times Edge, and unnamed third book, says, “I have to “unplug” except for my writing software and music, and go into the “writing cave.”  She goes on to say that she has her children ”almost” trained to leave her alone when she is in her “writing cave” but “the dog not so much”. Other authors have shared that they rise extra early in the morning to get the peace they need to meet their writing goals. Still others stay up late after the kids are asleep, or grab a paragraph or two during their lunch period—whatever it takes.

The craft of writing is like any other craft or skill that you may have. Native talent can take you only so far. Very few (very, very few) piano players can sit down for the first time and play a concerto, in fact, likely they won’t be able to play ‘Chopsticks’. Those gifted few who can play any tune without lessons or sheet music still are limited to the talent that they were born with. Without lessons and practice they won’t be able to surpass that. Us normal people who are desirous of having that great success, must work our butt’s off in school and with practice—lots and lots of practice.

“I have to “unplug” except for my writing software and music, and go into the “writing cave.”  She goes on to say that she has her children ”almost” trained to leave her alone when she is in her “writing cave” but “the dog not so much”. Rysa Walker

Developing stories that I described above takes much thought and writing. Nobody wants to read a story where the ending is revealed too early or tales where there is no solution to the mystery or resolution to the conflict. They are frustrating and depressing. Even if the ending is dark and sad, it is an ending. As a reader, you may be angry towards the author or characters, but at least there is finality. During my elementary school years, I wrote stories for assignments based on stories that I had read or television programs that I had watched. I usually threw in a twist on the original, such as, “Dandy the Tough Little Ghost” rather than “Casper the Friendly Ghost”. Of course ‘Dandy” was mis-behaved and used bad language. But, there definitely was a beginning, middle, and end to the story. Later, I wrote a short story based upon the John D. MacDonald “Travis McGee” series. Both efforts gained me poor marks. My critics (teachers) didn’t like that I used vernacular and grammar in the same style as my speech, a method that still populates my stories.

The point I am trying to get to is, you have find the ‘sweet spot’ that works for you both in time and in style. Don’t let your writing become tedious. Insert adventure into your life—somehow you have to find inspiration for your creative urge. Make your writing life as exciting as the stories you are writing. How do I do that, you ask? There are multiple avenues to try. Recently, I attended two days of the Heber Valley Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Gathering enjoying musicians and poets alike. I came home energized and inspired to work on my next story. Activities need not cost a lot of money, or any money for that matter. If you look around, often, libraries sponsor free readings by authors or poets, many have art exhibits. Bookstores (there are not as many as in the past) also have author and poetry events for free, where you can hear another author’s work and usually speak with them as well. There are book clubs where you can discuss stories and ideas, writer’s groups, conventions, etc. Maybe all it will take to keep your head in the ‘write’ place will be a walk in the park, or a trip to your favorite fishing hole.

At the beginning of this post I wrote, A New Book is like Christmas Morning. Let us agree, that type of story is engaging, waiting for our discovery as a reader. Those exciting stories are written by engaged authors. No matter if you write with a tightly outlined work or have characters who wouldn’t know an outline if they strangled on it; engage yourself in your work.

 

DSCN0042_2_3Michael D. LeFevre is the author of the newly published novella, “Ghost of the Black Bull”. He lives on the verge of the Great Basin, overlooking the historic Lincoln Highway, Pony Express Trail, and Hastings Cut-Off of Donner Party notoriety–literally in the midst of history. “There are so many anecdotes that lend themselves to dramatization, that I am at a loss of where to go next in beginning my next story.” He works at being retired, reading and writing. He is enjoying his hobbies as well.

3 tips to make your NaNoWriMo a success

NaNoWriMo is upon us once again and lunatics (read: writers) everywhere are gearing up for a crazy, breakneck, 50,000 word month. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran of the challenge, here’s some tips to help you reach the finish line with a minimal amount of stress and writer’s block.

Out Of Track1. Outline, outline, outline

While it might be easy to wing it the first few days of November, unless you’re a world-class pantser, you’re likely going to run smack dab into a black hole if you haven’t given some thought about where you’re headed with your novel. While everyone varies in their degrees of plotting, even writing simple bullet points for each major scene in your story will make a big difference. It’s much easier to face the dreaded blank screen when you know where you’re headed. Make no mistake, Nanowrimo is a race against time and test of your writing ability — it’s a heck of a lot easier to stay confident and reach the finish line when you know where you’re headed. On top of that, you’ll have a better book overall.

2. Write with Scrivenerhighres-scrivener-logo

If you aren’t already using it, chances are you’ve heard of the mythical word processor for writers that we mortals call Scrivener. Although it won’t write your novel for you, Scrivener’s handy features do just about everything else. I’m not going to get into a lot of details here because the time for learning how to get fancy is in December, when your rough draft is done. There IS an awesome little feature called project targets that allows you to set an overall word count goal as well as a goal for each writing session, that I would highly recommend. It’s always nice to see that little word count bar grow. After Nanowrimo is over and you’re moving into the editing and revising stages of your novel, you’ll be glad to know that Scrivener makes swapping scenes, compiling ebooks and formatting manuscripts a breeze. Don’t want to commit until you’ve taken a test drive? No problem. Scrivener offers a free 30 day trial period. Best of all, the trial is based on 30 uses, not days. Do yourself a favor and give Scrivener a try. You won’t regret it.

businessman working3. Sit down and WRITE

This may seem pretty obvious, but no matter how great your outline or writing program is, you won’t get anywhere if you can’t be disciplined enough to sit down in your chair and do work. Set a realistic daily goal, break your writing periods down into manageable chunks and then get to it. Know ahead of time that distractions, emergencies and days when you don’t feel like you can string a sentence together are unavoidable. Don’t despair — this happens to all of us at every stage of the game. Successful writers get over it and don’t worry about how bad the rough draft reads. Is your time limited? Squeeze in little writing blocks whenever you can make a few uninterrupted minutes — even if you aren’t a morning person, getting up early and writing while the world is quiet can make a world of difference. Most important, however, is to not look back. Even if you’re a neat freak, save those typos, punctuation mistakes and run on sentences for next month. All that matters is getting words on the page.

What writing tactics do you use to conquer Nanowrimo? Share below!

 wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913 Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

Author Origins: Ben Galley

Ben ProfileBen Galley is a young  author from sunny England. Ben has been writing since he was old enough to be trusted with a pencil, which, and if you know Ben personally you’ll know why, was somewhere in his early teens. Now of course, he’s much more responsible, and has moved from the pencil to the self-publishing world. He is the author of the epic fantasy trilogy – The Emaneska Series. He has released four books to date, and doesn’t intend to stop writing any time soon.

As a proud indie author, Ben does everything by himself. He writes, edits, sketches the maps, manages tours, does the marketing… even this website was crafted by his very hands. Ben regularly tours the country doing signings and workshops, allowing him to meet a great many interesting people on his journeys. He is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on the subject of self-publishing, and is incredibly zealous about helping other authors and writers.

Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

I worked my backside off for several years, until I had a book I could self-publish.

My name is Ben Galley, and I’m an author of dark fantasy and tall tales. I decided to become an author from the very moment I could hold a pencil. My imagination has always run wild – a by-product of being force-fed JRR Tolkien and mythology from a very young age! Writing stories and dreaming up worlds seemed to come easily to me. It was an escape as well as something I could share with other people.

I wrote my first novel aged 11, and that passion for writing never died. It only got stronger. When I’d finished university I decided it was time to take the plunge and achieve that dream of being an author. I worked my backside off for several years, until I had a book I could self-publish. My debut – The Written.

I’m now 26, with 4 fantasy books and a self-publishing guide on the shelves. I now also run a consultancy business that helps other authors self-publish, and over the last year, I’ve also opened my own eBook store Libiro.com, with co-founder Teague Fullick. I like to think the aged 11 me would be pretty pleased!

What was/is the hardest thing about balancing writing with everyday life and/or a day job?

For me, it was hard to get the time to write and actually finish a book that I could then publish. I worked full-time whilst writing The Written and the rest of the Emaneska Series, and there were never enough hours in the day. However the dream drove me on, and I would work all day at my job, then come home and work into the morning at my writing. It was tough, and stressful, but it’s paid off in the long run.

Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

It’s important to keep the ideas fresh, to keep your head in the game, and to keep your skills sharp.

One way of getting around the long hours spent behind bars, serving tables, and generally despairing at my lack of opportunities, was to write The Written and Pale Kings on my mobile phone between customers and on breaks. That way I didn’t have to tear my hair out waiting to get home, and could keep the workflow steady. However, The Written still took 18 months to write this way!

To this day, when I’m in the middle of writing a novel, I strive for 2000 words a day minimum. It’s important to keep the ideas fresh, to keep your head in the game, and to keep your skills sharp.

At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?

It’s a scary decision, that’s for sure – book sales can be fickle, especially seasonally. And of course, you can’t ride the success of one book forever: you need to keep coming out with product. Once I had enough books on the shelves, the income was consistent and knew my other projects were taking off, that’s when I knew I could do it.

Put simply, the feeling was euphoric.

What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?

Good question! I’m pretty open on social media and the web, though I wonder if people knew what sorts of music drove my words sometimes. I do have a strong passion for metal…

My other hobbies outside of writing, when I have the time, include a spot of cooking, hitting the gym, gaming, and rat-keeping.

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?

Two things!

There is no better marketing than your next book.

Writing. Day in and day out, and every day. There is no better marketing than your next book, and as that’s the element that sells, the more the merrier. You will also benefit from the practise too – the more you write the better you will get, and that again is very important.

The second piece of advice is professionalism. When publishing, quality and a professional standard are paramount to standing out from the crowd, and to making sales. This means a great cover, spotless editing, and good formatting for eBooks and paperbacks.

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to touch on?

Just that it was a pleasure to be part of this series, and to tell any other authors or budding writers reading that there has never been a better time to be an author. We now have the means, the technology, and the support to make it on our own, and be our own author-preneurs. It’s a tough job with a steep learning curve, and it can be hard at times, but please do persevere, because it’s also the best job on the planet.

The mindset every author should have

If only it were as simple as writing a book, hitting publish and watching the reviews, royalties and film adaptations roll in.

We’ve all been there — you finish your book and you’re on top of the world. And then that world comes crashing down in an apocalyptic meteor shower of editing, revising, cover design, web hosting, newsletter building, marketing, free promotions, blogging…the list goes on and on.

The end goal is the same: to make a living doing what we love.

There are a lot of strategies authors can take when building their platform.  For most of us, however, the end goal is the same: to make a living doing what we love. That means writing and selling a lot of books and building a loyal readership.

You should be thinking like you’re already a bestseller — and acting accordingly.

Here’s the thing that many authors don’t realize. The time to prepare for success is now. While you’re only making enough money from your books to fund a trip to the vending machine, you should be building a foundation. You should be thinking like you’re already a bestseller — and acting accordingly.

Does your email list only have four subscribers, three of which are your spouse, Aunt Betty and Grandma Doris? That’s okay — put out awesome content, stick to a schedule and over deliver. Listen to Tim Grahl. Once you’ve got subscribers, take care of your tribe. If someone emails you, make an effort to reply. Your fans — especially the early ones — deserve your best.

How does your website look? Even if you’re not a web designer, you can still craft an engaging site with Blogger or WordPress themes (and you do need a virtual home). Pick one thing to improve on your website each week, whether that’s learning a new feature, trying out a new plugin or tweaking your content.  Is it easy for people to join your mailing list or buy your books? If you had thousands of visitors a day, would they want to stay and look around? Would they come back for more?

From day one, approach your writing career with the mindset that you’re already in the big time.

Instead of biting off more than you can chew and spreading yourself too thin, pick a few things and tackle those tasks them with the mindset that everyone is watching. Never forget that depth is better than breadth. From day one, approach your writing career with the mindset that you’re already in the big time.

I’ve released a few books but I’m still very much in the beginning stages of my author career. Even so, I treat my writing and revising as if hundreds of thousands of people will read my words when I publish. I set deadlines as if I’ve got hordes of fans after my head if I’m late to publish. When I work with a designer, I’m not satisfied until I’ve got a cover that I’d be proud to see on the front table at every Barnes and Noble across America.  Whenever I sit down to write, I do so with purpose and urgency — like I’m already depending on it to pay the bills and put food on the table.

One day, I’ll be there.  But until then, I’m going to fake it ’til I make it.

What you’re building is the foundation for the future. Don’t cheat yourself. You can’t build an architectural marvel on unstable footings. You can’t do it overnight, either.

Everyone has days when they pound their head against a wall and think they must be insane to chase this dream.

As cliche as it sounds, don’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even the Great Wall of China started with a single stone block. The important thing to remember is that everyone began in the same place. Everyone has days when they pound their head against a wall and think they must be insane to chase this dream.

There are thousands of authors already making it who have paved the road for us. Learn from them. Pay attention to what they’re doing. When you’re tempted to cut corners, ask yourself what would Hugh Howey, Joanna Penn, Sean Platt, David Wright, Johnny Truant and countless others do?

Remember, we’re in this for the long haul. Don’t sell yourself short.  Develop a system that works for you and trust it. Your author platform deserves the best you have to offer right now, not in some distant future.

What are you doing to become a bestseller? Comment below and share your strategies.

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913 Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com

Author Origins: Rysa Walker

Rysa Walker author profileRysa Walker grew up on a cattle ranch in the South, where she read every chance she got. On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

Timebound, the first book in the CHRONOS Files series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. A CHRONOS Files novella, Time’s Echo, is now available exclusively on Kindle and Audible.Time’s Edge, the second book in the series, will release on October 21st, with the final book and novella coming in 2015.

For news and updates, visit her at rysa.com.  She tweets @rysawalker and if you see her there or on Facebook, please remind her that she should be writing!

Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

Hi, I’m Rysa Walker, author of Timebound and The CHRONOS Files series.  The second book in the series, Time’s Edge will debut on October 21st.  I’ve always been a writer in some fashion, but much of my focus was academic and nonfiction writing until a few years back.  I wrote Timebound (originally self-published as Time’s Twisted Arrow) in my spare time between teaching history and government online.  I’m now a full-time author, currently working on the final book in my series, scheduled for publication with Skyscape in the fall of 2015.

What was/is the hardest thing about balancing writing with everyday life and/or a day job?

It can be hard for me to write when the kids are running about, the dog is barking, or the phone is ringing.  And this is still an issue as a full-time writer, except that I now have the other duties of being a writer to distract me as well.

Getting into the “groove” so that I can write.  That was never an issue when I was writing lectures or academic articles, although even then, I had better luck writing late at night when there were fewer distractions.  It can be hard for me to write when the kids are running about, the dog is barking, or the phone is ringing.  And this is still an issue as a full-time writer, except that I now have the other duties of being a writer to distract me as well.  I have to “unplug” except for my writing software and music, and go into the “writing cave.”  And the kids have almost learned that it’s a very bad idea to interrupt Mom when the headphones are on and her fingers are flying across the keyboard.   (The dog, not so much.)

Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

I still write in bursts.  I try to get in at least 1000 words a day, but it doesn’t always happen.  More likely, I’ll have four days with 500 words and three where I hit 4-5k.

I take care of the side tasks of being a writer — answering emails, posting to social media, interviews, etc. — when my brain is not quite to the point of dealing with time travel conundrums.  I’m still more likely to get a lot written if the house is quiet, especially late at night, but the kids have to be at school by 7:15 so I don’t get as many late night sessions as I’d like.  As a result, I still write in bursts.  I try to get in at least 1000 words a day, but it doesn’t always happen.  More likely, I’ll have four days with 500 words and three where I hit 4-5k.

At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?

That decision was much easier thanks to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  I entered the contest in December, after self-publishing Time’s Twisted Arrow in October of 2012.  My primary hope was to get to the stage where you get the free Publisher’s Weekly review, thinking that maybe there would at least be a nice tagline in the review that I could tweet.  There was—”Kate is the Katniss Everdeen of time travel” made me very happy—but then the book kept going. It took the YA prize and then the Grand Prize, which meant a $50K advance on royalties and a contract with Skyscape.  That was almost exactly my salary for a year, so it made quitting the day job much easier.  I also have a husband with a solid job, so I wasn’t worried about the kids starving or the mortgage going unpaid.  It was still a decision that would have been difficult to make if I’d only won the YA Prize, since the advance would have been $15K.  That’s still a really nice advance in these days where debut authors often don’t get any advance at all, but I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to leave behind a regular paycheck if I didn’t know that a full year’s salary was in the bank.

What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?

That I’m actually a hybrid author—some works self-published, some traditionally published.  I had always envisioned The CHRONOS Files as a three-novel series with two shorter novellas in between, written from the perspective of other characters.  Skyscape wasn’t too keen on the idea of novellas, having had less-than-stellar luck publishing a few for other series.  They contracted only for the two remaining novels (Time’s Edge and the still-untitled third book), but they agreed to let me self-publish the novellas.  That’s unusual for publishers, who usually don’t like to give up control.  The first novella, Time’s Echo, was self-published for Kindle and Audible earlier this year, and it has been a very nice additional income stream.  I also love the fact that it lets me keep one foot in the very supportive world on indie authors, who understand that we really are NOT competitors, but colleagues.

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?

Find ways of getting your name out there before you publish your first book.

Whether you end up going traditional (increasingly rare for debut authors) or self-publishing, you will need a solid marketing platform.  I’m still unagented (and happily so), but many of my colleagues swear their agent earn every bit of the 15% they pay, and most agents will not even look at a new author who doesn’t have a blog and an active presence in social media.  Find a social media outlet that works for you and build up a core group of followers.  That will, in many cases, be fellow authors at the beginning.  That’s okay — remember that authors read, too.  In fact, we read a lot.

Also, finding places where you can publish short fiction is still a very good idea.  Even though there are few magazines that publish short stories these days, there are online outlets, including a few that pay.  One example is Kindle Worlds, which is a paid fan-fiction site that Amazon set up a while back.  I’ve been poking around there a good bit lately, since I’m in negotiations to set up a “world” for The CHRONOS Files.  They’ve got worlds ranging from Pretty Little Liars and the Vampire Diaries to Kurt Vonnegut, Hugh Howey, and dozens more. Find a world that you want to “play” in and publish a few short works within that universe — and if there is a world similar to the genre you’ll be writing in, that’s even better.  There are several advantages for a new author.  First, you start making money on your writing, which can be a huge incentive to keep writing.  Second, you learn the tricks of the self-publishing trade in terms of formatting, marketing, etc.  But most importantly, when you finally get your book into the hands of agents, editors, or straight to the readers, you’ll show up not as a first-time author, but as a seasoned writer, with several works already selling.

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to touch on?

I’d like to add that it’s important to find a routine that works for you.  And don’t give up.

You’ll see a lot of authors who insist that you must have the discipline to meet that minimum word count each and every day.  That might work for some, but for those juggling work and family, that advice can be disheartening.

There were occasionally weeks when I managed to crank out a few hundred words each day while writing Timebound, but there were also entire months where my schedule was so hectic that I barely even looked at the manuscript.  If you really want to be a writer, you’ll eventually finish that book — and it might even be better for having “marinated” a few years.

Older posts

© 2017 The Everyday Author

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑