The Everyday Author

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

Year: 2015 (page 2 of 4)

Authors: Balance is best in the long run

It seems that the romantic notion of the writer toiling away at his desk in spurts of inspiration for years only to emerge from the cocoon of his desk with a literary masterpiece has been traded out with another, more macabre. With the myth of the troubled artist busted, we’ve rallied around another golden calf in recent years: the insane workaholic, self-published author who writes 10,000 words in an hour and publishes a book every other day like a manic half-human, half-typewriter mutant/android.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a little. But still. This new author image is just as bad as the first.

Don’t get me wrong, I admire and respect a person who is dedicated and focused enough to write fast. Writing faster has made me a better, more productive author. This isn’t a post about quality vs. quantity. This is a post about *checks teleprompter*  not killing ourselves writing so, you know, we can be around to do more of it and reap the forthcoming rewards for our efforts. Balance is more important than engaging in a Scrivener death march.

A few months ago, I remember listening to a podcast interview with a writer who’d been publishing left and right, producing at a breakneck speed. During this interview, the host asked how he’d done it and one of the first things he mentioned was he’d sacrificed regular exercise to finish a certain book because he “had to get it out.” Most people aren’t bragging about this, and this guy wasn’t. But others in the writing community walk around like that hulk in the gym, muscles bulging from pre-workout and steroids, asking everyone “Do you even write, bro?

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In my opinion, this is a rather short-sighted way to carve out a career, like driving a case of Red Bull instead of getting a good night’s sleep. Sure, you got that next book (or books) out, but how long can you maintain that pace before your brain fries and you spend your time hiding in the pantry wearing a tinfoil hat, all the while waiting for the Big 5 agents to come steal your muse? When does it all come crashing down around your head?

I’m not knocking on passionate, hard-working authors. I consider myself one of you. I’m not totes jelly you can write 5,000 words per hour. But when you tell me you’ve forsaken your health, social/family life and who knows what else for a book, well, I guess I just don’t get it. It seems to me you’re perpetuating that poor, starving troubled artist stereotype all over again.

As Austin Kleon says in Steal Like an Artist: It’s best to assume that you’ll be alive for awhile. Eat breakfast. Do some push-ups. Go for long walks. Get plenty of sleep.

In the long run, which of the following do you think will get you further over the course of five years? What kind of person would you be at the end of each scenario?

A. Go to work, eat, sleep and write 5,000 words/day

OR

B. Wake up, write for 15-30 minutes (let’s say 250-750 words), go to work, come home, spend time with family or friends, exercise for 30 minutes, write or market for another 15-30 minutes (same word count as before, so between 500-1500 per day) and then the night reading a book watching your favorite TV show, etc.

Obviously in the first scenario, you’re producing roughly 5x more words each day. That might be well and good for a few weeks or even months, but what kind of life is that? I’d count the second scenario more productive and fulfilling every time. To me, balance show greater discipline and success. Writing like a madman just so you can tell everyone you busted out 10k words in a day isn’t sustainable over the course of a career (at least for the majority of us).  Your fingers may move but there’s only so much creative juice in the tank each day. You can’t write on fumes.

There’s only so much creative juice in the tank each day. You can’t write on fumes.

Some might call me lazy, or assume I don’t have the “drive” or “commitment” they do. I can assure you, you’re wrong. I want to be a full-time author, bad. But what I want even more is to not be some flash-in-the-pan author who writes one series and fades away. I want to be enduring. I want to be both efficient and effective. I want this to be a lifelong career. Given the choice, I’ll choose to be the tortoise every time, no matter how much in the moment I wish I was that damned, showboating hare.

This isn’t a death march, people. It’s the long haul. Sure, sometimes your sprint and sometimes you walk while you’re trying to figure out your ideal pace, but just remember: you may be able to sleep in a casket, but you can’t write in one.

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek 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: Justin Sloan

Justin SloanJustin Sloan is a video game writer, novelist, and screenwriter. He studied writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing program and at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s Professional Program in Screenwriting. He has published such novels as Back by Sunrise and Teddy Bears in Monsterland, and non-fiction such as Creative Writing Career: Becoming a Writer of Movies, Video Games, and Books and Military Veterans in Creative Careers. Additionally, he has published short fiction and poetry.

Justin was in the Marines for five years and has lived in Japan, Korea, and Italy. He currently lives with his amazing wife and children in the Bay Area, where he writes and enjoys life. Learn more at www.JustinMSloan.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.

On a snowy day in Washington, D.C., when I was in pain from a military related issue and not able to do anything aside from sit at my window, I decided to try to write a novel. While I thought I would take my time and try to finish over the next 50 years, I had it done in a much shorter time and soon learned that I was obsessed with writing. From there I started doing everything I could to learn the craft, from partnering with writer friends to write books and screenplays together, to taking classes and eventually enrolling in the Johns Hopkins MA in writing program and then the University of California, Los Angeles screenwriting program.

Somehow along the way I landed an amazing job at Telltale Games, where I get to write video games all day, and work on my novels and screenplays at night (if I can get my children to bed at a reasonable hour). It is a dream come true!

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job. What’s still the hardest thing to balance with everyday life?

For me the hardest thing about having a regular day job before was knowing that I couldn’t spend that time writing or improving my craft. It was eating me up inside! I would wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 am and write, and sometimes write on my lunch breaks. I had to feed the creative beast within. However, I’ll say the good thing about having a non-writing job was that all day long my creative juices would be struggling to emerge, so by the time I got home every day the writing just flowed. Now that I have a writing job during the day, there are certainly days when I come home and my brain has shut off its creative side and just wants to spend time.

The other big hurdle to writing now is that I have two children, and one is an infant. But of course my family takes priority, and they definitely make me a better writer. There are so many scenarios in life that you simply cannot truly understand until you have children. For example, there’s a scene in the movie The Fault in Our Stars where the dad picks up his teenage daughter to carry her to the car and then hospital – this may touch all of us, but when you have a daughter and imagine having to do that? Oh man, the emotions move in crazy ways.

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

The main change for me (aside from what I’ve already covered) is that now that I’ve published, I spend a lot of time marketing – whether this is author interviews, podcasts, blogs about what I have going on, etc., and that definitely eats into my writing time. That said, we have to find our own healthy balance in this regard, and I’ve reached a point where I have a certain number of books out there and a couple more on the way, so I feel okay with putting in a bit more time on the marketing side, for now.

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?

When I first published, I decided to self-publish because of the advice I was hearing from such places as the San Francisco Writers Conference or the Self Publishing Podcast, and the horror stories I was hearing from other authors about bad experiences they were having with small presses. Not all small presses are bad, of course, and I am going with one for my upcoming literary novel, but you have to do your homework.

I gained traction with some of the KDP promos and whatnot, to the point where my books were at number one and three in their categories, but I have since moved away from those types of marketing because I feel it cheapens your writing, in a way. Now it has been almost a year since I first published, and I just started seeing organic traction. My book Creative Writing Career has been number one in its Amazon bestseller category for two or three weeks now, and in the top ranks for a month or so before that, which I am pretty happy with. This was after having published two novels, two non-fiction books, a fantasy serial, some short stories, and excerpts from the non-fiction books. So the lesson learned is that (a) it takes time, and (b) having more titles helps discoverability.

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?

My book Back by Sunrise is a fun pre-teen adventure about a girl whose dad gets deployed overseas with the Army and doesn’t come back, and how the girl deals with that grief through a magical necklace that turns her into a bird one night. Many people may see the book and just think it’s a cute story, but it came from a personal place – I served in the Marines and watched people be deployed, and watched my friend’s wives worry about what would happen if they never did come back. Thankfully, that never happened to my friends, but it does to people all over the world. Also, around this time I had a cousin commit suicide, and it was quite devastating. While I had written the screenplay before this happened, I couldn’t let the story sit on the sidelines any longer – my cousin’s death was what pushed me to adapt the screenplay into a novel and get it out into the world.

One of my readers contacted me and said that she used to be a hospice worker and that she thought this would be great for children dealing with grief. I hadn’t even thought about it, but of course she was right. By the time this interview goes live, I will have gone to a summer camp hosted by the Hospice by the Bay, called Camp Erin, where I’m doing a book signing (and the children and teens there get the book free). I’m so thrilled to be a part of this, and hope that I can continue to help others through tough times.

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?

Keep an open mind. When I first started writing, I had no idea it would lead to writing for video games, let alone on some of my favorite IPs (Game of Thrones and Walking Dead). If all you want to do is write novels, it’s much more of a gamble, and perfectly fine if you are okay with your writing being more of a hobby until it one day hopefully takes off. Regardless, continue to focus on your craft, but also keep getting yourself out there so you can build a community of people willing to help each other (and potentially, fans).

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

I love sharing my story, but even more than my own I love sharing the awe-inspiring stories of those around me. This is why I put together my recent book, Military Veterans in Creative Careers. In addition to my advice (applicable to everyone, not just veterans) on making it as writers, actors, etc., I have interviewed a number of military veterans about their experience leveraging their past experience to land themselves in the careers of their dreams. If you only want to read my fiction, that is great, but consider checking out this book as well, if nothing else to pick up and find inspiration from time to time or to share with someone you know who could benefit from it. Every time I look back through one of the stories shared in my book, I can’t help but think how incredible the journey is to follow our dreams, and I wish I had something like this book when I was starting out to point me on the right path. Also, when this interview goes live, the audiobook should be out (Audible, iTunes, and Amazon), and the narrator has done an amazing job. His name is Scott Levy, and he has acted in movies, a Linkin Park video, and video games such as Battlefield: Hardline. If have any questions or have your own cool story to share, hit me up!

To Beat the Devil

Note from D_Sidd: In an effort to keep the Everyday Author fresh, you may see an occasional post that’s out of the box from what we normally publish. I’m kicking things off this week with the lyrics to a Kris Kristofferson song I recently heard. Although it was written for singers, it definitely applies to writers as well. I hope it resounds with you like it did for me. Keep on creating, everyone.

To Beat the Devil – Kris Kristofferson

It was winter time in Nashville, down on music city row.
And I was lookin’ for a place to get myself out of the cold.
To warm the frozen feelin’ that was eatin’ at my soul.
Keep the chilly wind off my guitar.

My thirsty wanted whisky; my hungry needed beans,
But it’d been of month of paydays since I’d heard that eagle scream.
So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams,
I left my pride and stepped inside a bar.

Actually, I guess you’d could call it a Tavern:
Cigarette smoke to the ceiling and sawdust on the floor;
Friendly shadows.

I saw that there was just one old man sittin’ at the bar.
And in the mirror I could see him checkin’ me and my guitar.
An’ he turned and said: “Come up here boy, and show us what you are.”
I said: “I’m dry.” He bought me a beer.

He nodded at my guitar and said: “It’s a tough life, ain’t it?”
I just looked at him. He said: “You ain’t makin’ any money, are you?”
I said: “You’ve been readin’ my mail.”
He just smiled and said: “Let me see that guitar.
“I’ve got something you oughta hear.”
Then he laid it on me:

“If you waste your time a-talkin’ to the people who don’t listen,
“To the things that you are sayin’, who do you think’s gonna hear.
“And if you should die explainin’ how the things that they complain about,
“Are things they could be changin’, who do you think’s gonna care?”

There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind,
Who were crucified for what they tried to show.
And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time.
‘Cos the truth remains that no-one wants to know.

Well, the old man was a stranger, but I’d heard his song before,
Back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door.
When no-one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor,
And lonesome was more than a state of mind.

You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
If you don’t wanna join him, you got to beat him.
I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song.

And you still can hear me singin’ to the people who don’t listen,
To the things that I am sayin’, prayin’ someone’s gonna hear.
And I guess I’ll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin’, hopin’ someone’s gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,
But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickel, I won’t ever die ashamed.
‘Cos I don’t believe that no-one wants to know.

Polish like a boss: tips for revising a manuscript

Author’s Note: As fate would have it, one of our Author Origins guests, Michael Fletcher, published a great post on this subject at almost the same time I wrote this. You can check it out here.

In today’s publishing scene, authors are under more pressure than ever to produce at lightning speed. Given this PUBLISH OR DIE mentality, it’s easy to get impatient or rush the process, especially when comparisonitis flares up and it seems like everyone around you is releasing a book every other day. But rushing the process is the last thing you should do.

While cable surfing one night, I came across a TV program featuring a reunion of aging songwriters. As they dispensed career wisdom, one line stood out above the rest: “More good songs are ruined by people trying to finish them.” In other words, sometimes no matter how bad you want to, you can’t rush great creative work.

More good songs are ruined by people trying to finish them.

Don’t be hasty, grasshopper. Don’t shoot your muse/book in the foot just because you’re trigger happy.

But how do we know when we’re there? When is enough enough and when do we need to put in more elbow grease?

As foolish as rushing an unready manuscript to publication is, revising a book a thousand times (especially if you haven’t even finished it all the way through yet) is just as bad. The best solution is to work at your own tempo and develop an instinct for when a book’s “just right.” It will be ready when it’s ready. And once it’s good to go, get that tasty little piggy to market.

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Although that sounds fine and dandy, it’s harder than it seems. You’ve got to be honest and disciplined with yourself. There’s no absolute rule that your book will be ready after X amount of drafts. That said, here are some guidelines I’ve found helpful for revising a manuscript.

Don’t be lazy.

The most important. If you need to do another revision, just do it. If you need to make the big change requiring a massive rewrite, make it. Rewrites can just plain suck, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. If your writer’s intuition tells you something isn’t quite right you’d better do whatever it takes to fix it. The worst thing you can do in this situation is ignore your instinct. There’s nothing worse than reading over a book you’ve published and kicking yourself in the butt for shortcutting it. Your book deserves better. Don’t cheat your work or yourself.

Outlining is your friend.

Not only does outlining help you write faster, but it also gives you a bird’s eye view of a clean slate, where you can brainstorm and throw in what-ifs to your hearts desire. Outlining also allows those “ah-ha” moments a chance to show themselves much earlier in the process. It’s also helpful to compare your outline to your rough draft, especially if you feel like you’ve missed the mark somewhere along the way.

Understand your man(uscript).

I love Anatomy of Story and am working my way through the Story Grid (you can check it all out for free here) as we speak. Both provide fascinating insights on character development and story structure. Understanding how a novel works and the particularities of your genre are a must. You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken.

Marinate your manuscript.

Stephen King recommends letting a rough draft sit for at least six weeks before you go back to it. I’ve done anywhere from two weeks to six and now usually schedule in a month away from a manuscript when I’m figuring out my production schedule. This gives me enough time to forget what I was going for and see what I actually ended up with. It also helps to spot those pesky typos.

Be a butcher.

There is nothing worse than hitting backspace on a highlighted section of 1,000+ words…or an entire chapter. Even so, there comes a time when we have to kill the fluff. It’s okay — they’re just words. You can write more. Words are cheap. Another Stephen Kingism: 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%. While it’s not a hard and fast rule, this formula makes a good measuring stick. There’s always fat to trim, making for a leaner, meaner manuscript.

Know when to show and tell.

I’m a firm believer in the power of beta readers and (of course) editors. Even so, I don’t let anyone see my work until I’ve wrapped up the second and sometimes third draft. Input is good, but not when you’re still figuring out the story for yourself. Too many opinions too early on only muddy the water. Once you work out most of the kinks, THEN it’s time to share. I’ve got a trusted group of 3-4 beta readers, a developmental/continuity editor and another editor who looks at both copy and structure. You can bet by the time a manuscript passes through THAT gauntlet, it’s ready to roll.

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek 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.

My response to Marc Aplin’s “Why I don’t generally recommend self-publishing to beginners”

First of all, I want to preface this response with the following:
  1. I’m just your Average Joe self-published author, not some superstar. I am not the aforementioned author who has sold “as many books as Mark Lawrence, Brent Weeks, Kameron Hurley, Wesley Chu, etc.”…yet.
  2. I’m a big fan of Marc Aplin and Fantasy Faction.
  3. I would never want to pick a fight with Marc Aplin because he’s a retired MMA dude. That said, I’m sure he’s not the kind of person who goes around beating  up people anyway…but still.
  4. Marc brings up a ton of great points that I wish someone had told me when I first decided to self-publish. These are things many starting/failing self-published authors have not heard or refuse to hear.
  5. Marc doesn’t generally recommend self-publishing for begginers. He’s not saying it’s an evil overlord hell-bent on destroying the publishing landscape as we know it, he’s just asking us all to take off our rose-colored glasses.
  6. Be sure to read the entire post, found here.

With that being said.

MA: Well, I don’t think that any aspiring author out there would turn down the chance to be published by the likes of Harper Voyager (who print books by Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin and Mark Lawrence) or Gollancz (home to Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson).

I’m going to skip over the little prelude about having George R.R. Martin as my colleague. How many midlist authors at Harper Voyager have ever seen, let along shared a sentence with George R. R. Martin?

MA: I also don’t think that any individual is egotistical enough to think that they can do the job of agent, editor, marketer, production manager, distribution manager, sales person, etc. all by themselves and to the high standards of trained, experienced professionals who have earned their jobs in the top publishing houses around the world.

I can’t speak for the egos of other authors, but I know I can’t be an “agent, editor, marketer, production manager, distribution manager, sales person, etc” all by myself. However, I can and have assembled (just like Captain America) my own team of editors and other assistants to help me out. Let’s not forget that these “trained, experienced professionals” in top publishing houses have their fingers in a lot of pies. Sometimes, that means they ignore you if your sales aren’t sexy. Sometimes it means the bigger fish in the pond take more of their time. I know this from masquerading as a public relations professional by day.

MA: Finally, there just isn’t good money in being a self-published author. Yes, there are exceptions, but if you want to take the chance that the next one of those will be you then you’re playing with odds not too far away from getting a good lottery win.

No, starting out and for many years in some cases, there isn’t good money being a self-published author. But if you take out the heavy hitters, there isn’t always great money in traditional publishing, either. You’re playing the lottery either route you take as far as I’m concerned.

And now, the reasons Marc says people self-publish:

MA Argument #1: AN EDITOR / AGENT TURNED THEIR BOOK DOWN.

I admit, starting out this was me. It got real old real quick getting form responses or no responses back from agents. I decided I’d rather spend my time writing books — books better and more awesome than the one I was pitching.

MA: Imagine you want to be a professional football player, you don’t walk on the pitch and start playing for Manchester United. Imagine you want to be a movie star, you don’t automatically get cast in the next Avengers movie. Similarly, if you write a book there is no reason you should assume you deserve to be on shelves next to Trudi Canavan or Peter V. Brett, etc.; you need to put in some practice, allow yourself to fail a few times, get to a professional standard through hard work and dedication.

Yeah, but…you don’t get good enough to play for Manchester United by kicking a soccer (yes, I called it soccer) ball against a brick wall.  You don’t get cast in the next Avengers by rehearsing lines in front of  a mirror, without audiences seeing you in smaller films. Maybe your book doesn’t deserve to be on the shelf next to Trudi Canavan, but once you’ve got the knack for it (more on this later) there’s no reason your book doesn’t “deserve” to be enjoyed by readers. You’ve got to hit the stage before you can be the star.

Right or wrong, here’s what I did. Although my picture doesn’t show it, Out of Exile also went through several rounds of revisions, beta reads and was also edited by a professional copy editor and structural editor during the process

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MA Argument #2: AN HONEST BELIEF THAT THE AUTHOR CAN DO ALL THE WORK REQUIRED TO A PROFESSIONAL STANDARD AND OBTAIN THE SALES FIGURES TO MAKE IT ALL WORTHWHILE.

I concede a point to Marc here. He’s right and says something every aspiring indie should remember, nay, tattoo on their chest so they can read it upside down every morning before they get out of bed to go check their sales report on KDP: “self-publishing isn’t as easy as writing a book, putting it on Amazon and watching your bank get tasty little bonuses.”

No matter how you publish, you need a professional editor and cover designer. We can haggle about price and what makes a professional another time.

MA: If you write a book and self-publish it you get people like me who instantly approach your book with suspicion.

It’s 2015, not 2010 and the stigma around self-published books is fast-fading. People look at covers and they look at reviews, they don’t look for a publisher’s logo. But I get where you’re coming from, Marc. Every bad rap against self-published books has been justly earned by us indies. We blew it with the word garbage many of us poured down people’s throats, claiming it was a “book.” We’ve got to keep fighting to fix this. If done right, a person browsing online shouldn’t be able to tell your book is self-published unless they REALLY want to know.

In summary

MA: The dream of every writer should be to do it full-time so that they can become a full creative and indulge themselves within their worlds and provide the reading public with as many works that have had as much of their time as possible, surely

Testify to me, brotha! I can’t agree with this more, but whether an author gets there strictly through self-publishing, hybrid publishing or writing something other than books (like games, screenplays, etc.) is a different matter altogether.

What Marc fails to address, in my opinion, is that self-publishing is not the end-all-be-all destination, but  instead as a stepping stone for the dream he’s talking about. Ultimately, no matter how an author wants to publish their book, their goal should be for that book to be read and enjoyed by fans, regardless of who is listed as the publisher. That’s what I want, anyway.

As a stepping stone, I believe self-publishing (*done right, that is) can be a fantastic way for an author to get his or her work read and enjoyed by fans as he/she continues to progress toward the glorious paradise we call “full-time authorness.” And by done right, I mean ruthlessly revised and edited and given a proper cover, among other things, to ensnare the reader with the best story possible. Don’t live in the awful purgatory that both Marc and I agree comes when an author refuses to admit his work sucks. Keep growing!

Sure, you need practice, but that doesn’t mean all of your practice books up to the “big break” are garbage, either. Where does “beginning” end and “intermediate” begin? Once you feel — and here, “feel” means being brutally honest about said book and also getting feedback on it from someone other than your grandma —  you’ve got a book worth reading, why not share it with the world?

Are you afraid it will ruin your shot at the big leagues some day?

As Mark Lawrence estimates in his own response to Aplin’s post, somewhere around 1 in 2,000, authors who pitch his agent will get a publishing deal. From there, Lawrence crunches some rough numbers and guesses that 1 in 20,000 writers succeed in being traditionally published and making it “big”. No matter how good your book is, traditional publishing is not a linear, guaranteed thing where if you do A, B will follow. See Lawrence’s supporting diagram:

Mark Lawrence publishing venn diagram

Fancy diagram credit goes to Mark Lawrence

With these numbers in mind, is there anyone who can say with a straight face that only 1 in 2,000 self-published books were as entertaining as the worst traditionally published book they’ve ever read? I don’t think so.

Self-publishing is hard work, the payouts are often small and it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give it up. Even worse, as Marc with a “c” says “ some writers who were destined to write great novels that they were going to sell to hundreds of thousands of readers will instead self-publish, get discouraged at a lack of sales and give up writing.”

This is a valid point, but I would argue that these writers  would have given up just the same when they failed to secure an agent and a traditionally published deal. I would argue that those who persevere rise to the top in either scenario.

It takes a special person (read: a stubborn glutton for punishment) to find success in publishing period, regardless of the route you take.

The difference and deciding factor to me is this: in self-publishing, I can write, revise, edit and publish a book that some people, however few, will read and enjoy. I can then go back to my desk, do everything in my power to write a better book and repeat the process. Ten years down the road, if I continue to improve my craft, stay savvy with my marketing and continually produce better books, lightning might strike. If not, I should at least be able to bring in enough money to drown my woes in delicious Mongolian BBQ once a month.

On the flip side, I can continually write books for ten years, pitching agent after agent and shoving manuscript after manuscript into the back corner of my desk drawer, dealing with even longer odds. This is a bleak, lonely road. Maybe at the end of those ten years I get a deal. Maybe not. If not, I’ll  pay for my monthly Mongolian BBQ binge out of my own pocket and so be it.

The master plan either way is to write a book, then more books followed by better books until you’ve got something special on your hands that will make you a self-pub star or an agent’s new best friend (hopefully). Unless you’re some kind of other-world author prodigy, your first few books will suck. Some of the ensuing ones might suck too. The question is, what do  you want to do with the good books in between suck and special?

In either scenario, nothing is a sure thing, but I’ll take my chances with the self-publishing route for now. Why? Because if nothing else, I know I have a small band of readers out there who enjoy my writing and stand by my side on this long, crazy journey. Their support is often the only thing that keeps me from being another writer who quit.

It’s hard to get that kind of encouragement from the dust bunnies in the bottom drawer of my desk.

Author Origins: Joseph Lallo

Joseph LalloJoseph Lallo, though having written several novels, was slow to consider himself an author. Educated at NJIT, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering, the world of Information Technology is where most of his bills were paid until Sept of 2014 when he finally became a full-time author. His books include the popular Book of Deacon series, as well as a sci-fi adventure series called Big Sigma and a steampunk series called Free-Wrench

His most recent release is a collection of his Book of Deacon stories, The Book of Deacon Anthology and in November that series will continue with The D’Karon Apprentice.

You can find him at www.bookofdeacon.com and he is @jrlallo on twitter and tumblr.

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.

My name is Joseph R. Lallo (still haven’t earned that second R that seems mandatory for us fantasy author types). I’m originally from Bayonne, NJ, and until recently I was working IT for the healthcare industry through a complicated sequence of sub-contracts that isn’t really worth explaining.

I’d never really had any plans to be an author, though from a very early age I knew I wanted to write a book. Basically I just knew as early as second grade or so that I wanted “wrote a book” to be on my list of things I did when I was a grownup. There were a few abortive attempts around that time, but eventually I discovered a game called Dragon Warrior, a title for the NES which was a fairly standard RPG involving knights, dragons, descendants, and prophesies. My buddies at the time decided to create our own characters and stories to act out within the setting of the game. (As far as I know this was prior to the advent of the term LARP, but we were almost there.) The others eventually moved on, but the creative juices continued to flow and ferment in my head until in high school or so I started jotting down notes. By college I’d graduated to typing those notes, and in 2010 after two years of rejection from literary agents I let my friends talk me into self-publishing.

In September, 2014 I finally quit my day job (a week before they laid off my whole department—first rat off the ship!). Since then I’ve been writing a few thousand words a day, and working with Jeff Poole and Lindsay Buroker on a podcast dedicated to the intricacies of marketing for indies in our genres. I’ve got somewhere north of 13 books out—the exact count is a bit blurry because there’s an anthology and some short stories and contributions to collections in there—and the sales have been more than enough to buy the bills, not to mention put the down payment on the house I’m living in.

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job. What’s still the hardest thing to balance with everyday life?

The hardest thing about balancing the writing with the work was remembering to sleep. In the early days, before I published, writing was an escape from the frustration of the IT world. I would write on my phone during my train/bus commute, type for a few minutes before I left for work, and type for a few hours after I got home. Let’s be honest, I also typed more than was really morally appropriate while I was at work, since running reports and compiling code meant some days there would have otherwise been a lot of thumb twiddling.

After self-publishing, writing continued to be a mildly disappointing hobby for about a year and a half. After that things picked up and I started to treat writing as a second job which grew to eclipse the main one.

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

Back then, depending on shift, I would get up at either 4:30 am or 6:30 am. After the normal morning ablutions I would have about 10 minutes to do some quick outlining or writing, then I was out the door and onto a bus/light-rail/train commute. That was usually an hour, during which I would use my phone or a pad to write some more. I was at work until 4 or 6pm (again, depending on shift) and would write during my lunch hour and during those moments when there was little else that could be done work-wise (which didn’t come up as often as I would have liked). Then came the reverse commute with a little more phone writing, then dinner and another hour or two of typing. Weekends generally had three hours of writing each day as well, assuming I didn’t have other plans.

Nowadays I’m up at 7am or 8am (or whenever my brain decides to stop ignoring the daylight). And I write until I’ve got at least 3k words, however long that takes. Most days I get closer to 5k, and then I spend the rest of the day doing chores, taking walks, and handling emails and other book biz.

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 released my first book in January, 2010. Between then and May 2011 I made about $19. Which was something like eight sales, because I had a widely varying price structure at the time. It wasn’t until I had 3 or 4 books out that I saw traction, and only then because I’d made the first book in the Book of Deacon trilogy free.

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?

I’d like to say I made the decision to quit the day job when I did my taxes one year and found that my day job’s salary was barely enough to cover the taxes on my self-employment income. In reality it took a year and a half longer than that. I ended up sticking at my day job out of the ironclad belief that the success I was enjoying was temporary and as soon as I stepped onto the rickety lifer raft of my writing career it would sink and I’d be ruined. Things at work continued to get more and more unbearable though, and for months I was hemming and hawing about maybe quitting the job. Then, after 9 years, the people who had subcontracted me finally made an offer to hire me as an employee. Their offer was generous, but would have almost certainly come at the cost of 10-20 hours a week unpaid overtime, which aside from destroying my sanity would have entirely eliminated the time I’d been spending writing. At that point I knew I had to either quit the job or quit writing. Framed in that way, it wasn’t a difficult choice.

By then I’d been earning good money with the books for almost three years, and banking most of it, so I had a big enough nest egg to take some of the anxiety out of the act. What I felt, mostly, was relief that I wasn’t agonizing over a decision anymore. My dad almost had a heart attack though. He’s from a background where you don’t quit a job, ever.

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 think a lot of people who are thinking of going into writing full time don’t realize that, especially for self-pub and increasingly for traditional pub, it isn’t just a job, it’s a business. You’ve got to handle everything from lining up editors and artists to planning advertising and doing book keeping. If you go as far as I did, you’ll even be setting up a PO Box and handling some inventory. Writing is only about half the job.

As for interests outside of writing, I’m into video games. I also got a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering, so sometimes I like to solder together some doodads or toy with 3D printing.

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?

It may sound trite, but just keep writing. There are things that will help you get noticed, and to sell more books, but you can’t make use of any of them if you don’t have books to sell. The more titles you’ve got out, the more chances you’ve got to win the “discovery lottery” and have people realize how good your book is. And if you’re writing a series, having a bunch of stories means if you can hook them with the first book, you can sell through the whole series. All of the other stuff, from getting good covers to getting proper editing, comes second to actually finishing the story and, ideally, starting the next one.

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

Once you get rolling and you’ve got some money (assuming you’ve already gotten top notch covers) consider getting some reference drawings or illustrations of your characters. There’s something magic about giving your characters a face, and giving your fans someone to picture (and maybe someone to draw their own pictures of).

IF YOU CAN READ THIS…

Have you finished the first draft of your Great American Novel and then given it to your spouse, mother, brother, best pal to look over? Anxiously you wait for their opinion and they hand it back to you, all the while shaking their head. You wonder why, and then they dish–“You misspelled supercalifragilisticespialodocious!”

“Sheesh!” you whine, “But I used spellcheck!”

You must have more than one edit of your story before it goes to the publisher. It is possible to self-edit, but believe me, it is a Herculean Task. At the recent IndieReCon, one contributor spoke about ways to clean-up your work before handing it off to another set of eyes (you can read the article here). I’m of the opinion that, if you opt for the self-edit only plan, don’t.

And the reason why? Self-editing is tough to do because your eye is trained to see things that your brain tells it to look for.

What do I mean by that? Well, have you seen those funny little exercises that make the rounds of email chain letters or Facebook memes that show a word cloud that is intentionally made up of mixed letters, numbers and symbols that challenge you to read and show how smart you are?
Hotmess
Then you may know what I am talking about. Your brain is hardwired to make order and find patterns that make sense. You know what the letters are, you have learned the correct pattern of letters that make up each word, and so you can read these chaotic sentences. (Does this mean that spelling is optional?)

Your work is just like that; a word cloud made up of letters in some order with misspellings, homonyms, bad punctuation, poor grammar, and just about every mistake you can think of. If it isn’t, you must have struggled for aeons to produce a perfect first draft, and still there will be misspellings, incorrect or missing punctuation, run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, etc. And the more times you read it over, the easier it is to gloss over mistakes.

Spellcheck is a good helper, but it can lead you down the primrose path too.

[They’re] is nothing like a correctly spelled incorrect word to spoil your perfect draft.

One of the first times that I ran headlong into this phenomenon was for a school paper. I composed it in longhand, read it over, corrected the obvious mistakes and prepared to type it out on my portable manual typewriter. My typing skills had lots of room for improvement. My aunt just happened to come for a visit that day and she offered to type it for me. She started to type and began to point out all of the mistakes that I had missed in my first edit. So, I went through it again, correcting spelling, usage, grammar, and sentence length, etc. I handed it back to her, and she began to type it out but soon ran into the next round of errors. Long story short–it was midnight before we had a usable paper for me to hand in.

I have learned that the chances of me writing a perfect first draft are next to zero. If I don’t have the opportunity for editing help, then I write and revise, correct, then let it sit for a day or two, and then go back over it. I repeat that until I am satisfied with the quality of the final draft. If I don’t have time to let it marinate, then the process is shortened, but I still go over it multiple times. Preferably, I hand it to my wife to look over and she can be brutal with the red pencil.

So, you might ask, what can you do to publish a clean piece of writing?

If you have written anything for a grade, for submission to a third party then you know how important it is that your work is as perfect as you can make it. How often has a well written essay or research paper been downgraded because of misspellings, poor formatting, horrible grammar or nonexistent punctuation? You have seen this before. If your query letter doesn’t measure up, how do you expect an agent or publisher to take you seriously?

I suggested above, maybe the first step in the refining process should be to finish it and then let it sit for as long as time will permit before re-reading and revising. Time has a way of allowing a fresh look at the piece.

The more that you read it through, the more likely it is that you will gloss over mistakes.

Read it aloud. For some reason unknown to me, the act of reading my sentences aloud gives me a fresh perspective. My ears can hear what my eyes can’t see.

Have your wife, mother, BFF, or stranger on the street read it with some means of marking the problems that they see. It is better that this read-through be by someone you trust to be honest. (If you expect honesty, be prepared for the truth!) At this point the last thing that you would want is platitudes and false bonhomme.

Fix the errors and then read aloud again. Your ears will inform your eyes. Make sure that you read each word, don’t rush the narration. You could even record parts of it, or maybe the whole thing, with the aim of listening to the cadence and pace of your sentences.

Time is the cruel master in many of the projects that we take on so if your deadline looms, then by all means hire a pro. It will be worth the money to save the time needed to make critical corrections. Even if you have read, re-read, corrected, revised over and over again there will be mistakes that we miss. Don’t beat yourself up.

I may be preaching to the choir, but every self-published book and even ones published by major publishing houses that I have bought and read has had spelling errors, homonym errors, punctuation faux-pas, and poor sentence structure. I’m serious, everyone. Obviously, those published by the established authors and publishers have fewer embedded problems, but I have spent major dollars for books from my favorite authors had errors that jumped off of the page and distracted from my experience.

If it can happen to them, it can and will happen to us.

Remember…IF YOU CAN READ THIS…make sure you are not letting your brain trick your eyes.

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.

Balancing patience and hustle

An author’s career is often compared to a long-distance race, a marathon not a sprint. While that may be so, I see it more as a teeter-tooter, a delicate balance between working as hard and as fast and you can in the short term (hustle) while keeping yourself in the game for the long run (patience). Balance is essential. Going hard for a year is all well and good, but if you give up and quit before the results come in, what’s the point?

If you can’t find a maintainable pace, all that hard work is for nothing.

Steal Like an Artist image

credit Austin Kleon

The trick, at least for me, isn’t finding motivation, it’s spreading it out, like manure over a budding spring hayfield. Highs and lows are inevitable, but the key is to level them out, to temper our fiery passions when they threaten to engulf us, to kindle our creative spirit when life’s torrential downpours threaten to extinguish it. Once you find a method and process that works for you, you’ve got to trust that it’s going to take you where you want to go.

As Austin Kleon, in his brilliant book Show Your Work says:

“Every career is full of ups and down, and just like with stories, when you’re in the middle of living out your life and career, you don’t know whether you’re up or down or what’s about to happen next.”

Unrestrained hustle can do more harm than good. It over-inflates our ego, persuades us to take on too many projects and then, like the shameless hussy it is, leaves us alone in the morning with nothing but it’s lingering scent on the pillow. It’s the mistress of every person out there who always claims to be busy, but at the end of the day has nothing to show for their exhaustive efforts.

On the other hand false patience — procrastination and fear — can be just as harmful. “Telling ourselves it’s okay that we didn’t write today, it’s okay if we miss a deadline” can soon become an author’s bane. Granted, there will be days when we simply can’t write as much as we’d like or when emergencies arise that are unavoidable. These are okay. These are part of everyday life. What I’m talking about is when these instances become the building blocks for a tower of excuses rather than the temporary detours and roadblocks they really are.

As Paul “Bear” Bryant, famous Alabama football coach said. “The first time you quit it’s hard, the second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don’t even have to think about it.”

Given too much leeway, an extra dose of patience turns into passiveness. We’re okay not finishing that novel this year. We’re okay that we haven’t sold a book in six months. All of that will improve somewhere down the line.
If only we could take these two opposing — and equally important — forces and cache them away. The secret, I believe, is learning to recognize when one or the other is taking over. Know thyself.

Recognize when your hustle is out of hand. Recognize when you’re focusing too much on tomorrow and someday instead of today. The yin and yang of our author lives, we cannot exist without both patience and hustle, each playing a pivotal part in the ongoing development of our careers. We all — and I believe the pace is different for every person — need to find the sweet spot, find the speed where we can set things on cruise control somewhere between going just over the speed limit and Fast and Furious.

The hardest part about all this is that there’s no crystal ball to look in, no soothsayer to show us our future. Will we ever find success in this endeavor or will we at last admit defeat, an empty, broken husk with failed words floating overhead like the scattered ashes of our cremated muse? There’s no way of knowing.

That’s the real challenge: commit to the little things and have some level of confidence (or craziness) that things are going to work out. We only have so much energy in any given day, week, month or year. Hammering the throttle on and off in bouts of manic inspiration and despair only serve to drain our emotional and intellectual gas tank all that much faster.

Author Origins: Lindsay Buroker

Lindsay_BurokerLindsay Buroker is a full-time independent fantasy author who loves travel, hiking, tennis, and vizslas. She grew up in the Seattle area but moved to Arizona when she realized she was solar-powered. You can find her at http://www.lindsayburoker.com where she blogs about her adventures in self-publishing and shares character interviews and excerpts from her latest books. Some of her recent releases are Warrior Mage (epic fantasy) and The Blade’s Memory (steampunk).

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’ve been a lifeguard, a fast food jockey, a soldier in the U.S. Army, a systems administrator, and a professional blogger. I’ve been writing off and on since I was a kid, but got “serious” about being an author back in 2009 or so. By 2010, I had finished my first couple of novels (The Emperor’s Edge and Encrypted), but was dreading the agent-querying process. That fall, I got my first Kindle, and soon after, I stumbled across J.A. Konrath’s blog, specifically an article where he shared his self-publishing success. Within less than a week, I tossed aside all of my thoughts of seeking an agent and committed to self-publishing. I published my first two novels in December 2010 and January 2011.

I wasn’t an overnight success, but I managed to sell some books, and I got some nice feedback from readers. Encouraged, I published two more novels in my Emperor’s Edge series in 2011, along with some shorter works. By 2012, I was making enough to quit the day job, and by the time I was doing my taxes for 2013, I realized I was making more as an author than I ever had in any of my previous professions. Things have been going along well ever since, and I have over twenty novels out now, between my name and a pen name.

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job. What’s still the hardest thing to balance with everyday life?

I was already self-employed, so I didn’t have as hard a time as many authors do, but I’m lucky things went well, because I mentally checked out of the day job before I was really there with the author income. 🙂

As far as balance goes, I love writing and publishing and pleasing my readers, so it’s easy for me to work more than I should. I also see this as the golden age of self-publishing, so there’s a little “better save up what I can and invest it while the going is good” in the back of my mind. I feel guilty if I don’t get X number of words done a day, so I’m often plugging away well into the night. I have to remind myself to go out and play with friends and take non-working vacations now and then!

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

If I’m working on a new manuscript, I’ll usually get up, make a latte, and try to get some words done before heading out for some exercise. I have dogs and live up the street from the national forest, so that’s often a morning hike. I’ll work through the afternoons and try to get to my word count goals before dinner and any evening activities. If I make my goal, I might relax a bit at night and answer some emails, but I have been known to put my head down and ignore email until I finish a manuscript. It’s hard for me to take my eyes off the end goal, and I can usually get a rough draft done in 2-3 weeks these days.

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?

There weren’t many places to advertise back in 2010/early 2011, but I tried a Goodreads campaign and was able to get a couple sales a day that way. I still remember getting Encrypted reviewed at The Fantasy Book Critic, a big site that usually sticks to traditionally published stuff (or at least it did back then) and that I got a nice boost in sales that February. When I released the second book in my EE series in May, I dropped the price of the first from $2.99 to $0.99, and that helped bring in more readers. In November, when I released the third book, I made the first one permafree, and that also helped a lot, especially with sales in other stores, such as Barnes & Noble.

I never really had any huge best sellers until I got lucky with a 99-cent boxed set this year, so a lot of my success has just been from continuing to put books out and from gradually building up a fan base. One of the cool things about self-publishing right now is that it’s very possible for a “mid-list” author to make a good income.

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?

Early on, probably earlier than I should have, but I still had some income coming in from my blogs, so it wasn’t as much of a leap of faith as for people who have a regular job and walk away from it. You are motivated to succeed, though, when you cut the cord a little early, because there aren’t many other options!

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 kind of tell it all in my blog and on various podcasts, so I’m not sure if people who follow along are missing anything. I probably make more than people would guess (that’s the one thing I stopped talking about openly, since it seemed like bragging once it was more than paper route money :D), and that’s probably true for a lot of indies who aren’t mega sellers but who have a few series out that are selling moderately well.

I play tennis, hike, take road trips, and this year, I’m hoping to spend the winter some place where I’m closer to skiing, since that’s a hobby I miss.

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?

Writing and publishing a lot of books is a good plan, but you have to be ready, too. I was a little lucky that I didn’t find out about ebooks and self-publishing right away, because I joined a workshop and worked on selling some short stories and such (basically following the old route to finding an agent). I got those rejections and abandoned a few novels and learned a lot before coming back to the EE series. I might have rushed to publish if it had been as easy as it is now, and that probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

You usually only get one chance with a reader, so you want to make sure the book they pick up is a good one. Having a lot of books out there only helps if people go on to buy and read the other ones and tell their friends about them.

Discouraged authors: you’re not alone

This past week, I almost threw in the towel.

I’m not the quitting type, either. But between life, my day job and a general discouragement for writing and self-publishing in general, I was more tempted than ever. So tempted that a large part of me didn’t even want to bother writing this post. I don’t consider myself a ranter — at least not a public ranter. But then, it hit me. This might be exactly what someone else is going through right now. And I want you to know you’re not the only one.

After finishing my latest book and taking a relaxing, unplugged vacation, I thought I’d be read to jump right back into things when I got home. I spent the next two weeks outlining a novella. The going was slow as this is the first project I’ve ever attempted to do an extensive outline for. Nevertheless, I finished on schedule and was ready to dive into the rough draft. My goal is to work up to 2,000 words/day, far enough out of reach I’ll have to stretch the old writing muscles, but close enough I can hit it, if I focus and just write.

The first day, I hit around 750 words. At the same time, I also hit a wall. Not just hit it, but smacked into it full force like Wily Coyote barreling toward a painted-on tunnel entrance. Upon impact, my give-a-damn busted into a thousand different pieces. I struggled to get up early enough to write before work. I stopped devouring my favorite writing and publishing podcasts and I also found all the emails I was receiving about Facebook ads, Scrivener tips, list building and marketing webinars really bugged me. In short, I was pretty fed up with this author business.

Steinbeck quote
This quote by Steinbeck found me just when I needed it (thanks Blake Atwood). It made me realize something: I’d lost hold of the illusion. Self-publishing is a not a grandiose dream, no matter how much hoopla we pile on it. It’s a slogging-along-through-muddy-trenches type of dream. Bereft of the sugar coating and rose-colored glasses, it can seem pretty bleak at times.

Worse still, it seems like EVERYONE ELSE is making it. Everyone’s sales are increasing, their email lists are skyrocketing and life is all puppy dogs and daisy chains. I’m here to tell you it’s not. I’m here to tell you that the vast majority if us aren’t striking it rich. The vast majority of us aren’t supporting ourselves, aren’t even covering half our monthly expenses. As far as I can tell, the oft-touted rarely seen midlist self-published authors is as small as the upper echelon of millionaire authors. And that’s not even factoring in what genre you write.

“Who’s got it better than us?” Jim Harbaugh, ex-NFL and now college football coach, asks his players when they’re at practice. The idea is that, no matter how miserable they are, they’re still out on the field, living their dreams. And if you thought WE have it bad, read this.

No matter how impossible it all looks, you’ve got to realize that there are hundreds of thousands of dead wanna-be authors who never had the opportunity to get their work out there. Even if the chances are slim for us, there’s still a chance. Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for.

Working to be a successful author, whether self or traditionally published is a really crappy endeavor sometimes. There will be times when we want to call it quits, when we think we’re never going to make it. And if we ever do make it, it might be much later than we were planning on. It’s okay to get down. It’s okay if we say “screw it, I don’t have time to market this week! I don’t have time to rewrite my blurb. I don’t have the cash to pay to redesign my cover.” It’s okay if we get fed up with the self-publishing courses, webinars and all the ra-ra-ra and just disconnect. There will be days like that. There will be weeks like that. There may even be months like that.

None of that matters as long as you can lay your head down at the end of the day and tell yourself two things:

  1. That you wrote something, even if it was so bad that your local dump would refuse to dispose of it.
  2. That there are THOUSANDS of people in the exact same situation as you, fighting the same battles every day.

Sometimes you have to forget about those people with seemingly perfect writing schedules. You have to forget about the people making thousands, hundreds or even tens of dollars each week from their books. Instead, take some small, twisted comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in your struggles. We’re all slogging through the trenches together.
Who’s got it better than us? Looking up the ladder, lots of authors do. But considering the hundreds of thousands of authors whose work never saw the light of day back in the “old days”, it’s not so bad. We have a chance.

Self-publishing is in the midst of another transformation. It’s going to get harder and harder for new authors to break in and grab a piece of the pie. When the smoke clears and the dust settles, there’s only going to be two groups left: those who found success and established a readership early on and those who are still slaving and trudging away with little or nothing to show for it…yet. Maybe one day we’ll hop the fence to the other side of things, but in the meantime, if we get discouraged and despair, we might as well do it together. After all, who’s got it better than us?

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek 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.

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