As I start this blog entry I’m really want you to know I’m not trying to whine or complain. I’m just taking stock of the last year and making decisions. This is really meant to be a look back and maybe someone, somewhere can benefit from my mistakes. Or maybe you can relate or maybe this will make you feel better because things aren’t as bad for you. Or maybe no one will read it. I can never be sure.
I’m seriously thinking of quitting. I’m not sure I have what it takes to be an independent author and maybe the last four years were simply the act of fooling myself into thinking I was actually a writer. Pros and cons cloud my mind as I contemplate giving it all up and I change my mind so fast that my head is ready to spin-off. I wish I had me to talk to when I started this process, when I decided to write my first book. This debate started when I released She Wulf and agonized over horrible reviews and it’s come to this because I haven’t sold a book in months. Granted I haven’t been pushing them, I’m just starting to think it’s not going to happen.
I know I’ve chosen a difficult path for myself and I know we all can’t be best-selling authors, but I was hoping for something a little more. I at least put myself out there and I tried, but honestly, bad and so so reviews make me believe that my work is just that, so so and bad. Either that or I’m failing miserably finding my core audience. Regardless, I’m finding it difficult to find the inspiration to keep at it. So if my legacy in the end becomes a cautionary tale for other writers so be it. I’ll just have to find that happiness somewhere else. In the meantime, I honestly feel like I have something useful to share. So here it is the many things I’ve learned about writing and publishing. I hope it inspires or helps, either way, it’s one perspective that not many chose to share.
1) Editing. Hire a good editor. My first go round I went through CreateSpace. I’m not saying their editors are bad, I’m just saying it wasn’t the perfect situation for me. I need someone who I could easily contact. Someone that I can throw ideas out to. Someone who intimately knows my book, story and characters. Before re-releasing The Day of First Sun, I had it re-edited. To this day I can still go to my editor, Ashley and ask her questions. She one of my biggest supporters and one of the reasons I’ve hung around this long.
2) Editing. Yeah. You really need to edit. Two drafts might be enough for some, but for me what I learned about editing is this, finishing one draft and starting the next one after only eight hours of sleep isn’t long enough to process your work, think about the direction or come up with new and unusual plot points or characters. I edited The Day of First Sun at least six times, one right after the other. When I decided to re-write it last year, I picked it up for the first time after a full year, and boy did I see it differently. So much so it became a complete rewrite. Though the story is the same, it’s really so different and I might say even better.
3) Editing. Again. See number one and two. Don’t be afraid to re-write, move, or edit out stuff. I tried so hard to create the world in the first book that I wanted to include everything, including flashbacks, spells, and creatures. Write them down and save them for the next book. As it turns out, I removed the memory modification scene from The Day of First Sun. I think I’m actually using that spell in my second book in the series.
4) Editing. And you thought it was something else. Make sure you trust and like your editor. This one is for Kira, who after I received horrible, mean and nit picky reviews for She Wulf , she kept me sane, was a great support and took time out from her busy life to teach me new ways to write and edit. I wrote Yeti with her help. She spent weeks coming up with lesson plans and going through the story re-teaching me how to write and edit my work. I can never thank her enough for doing this on her own time. Her support has been amazing. I wish I was a better student and had more to show for it, but because of her my rewrite of The Day of First Sun is far better than it originally was.
4) Write everyday. And you thought it was about editing again. Nope. I’m done with editing. I wanted to be a writer when I was seven years old. I did write a lot when I was a kid. I had my own detective series with a female detective named Jeffrie Marcus. (Thanks Nancy Drew.) When I got my first job out of college I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I knew I wouldn’t write a book at first, so I worked my way into a writing position so that I could do what I wanted and make money while I contemplated my first love. Eventually life got in the way of my dream. Kids, death, depression can muck up your life and they are things you can’t go back and change. It’s the one thing I truly regret is that I stopped writing. So if you want to be a writer, write even if that means you write a line a day.
5) Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Tiberr, Instagram… Buffy had the Evil Trio as her arch nemesis. I have Twitter. You have to be social on social media if you are trying to sell your books. I have yet to master this which is part of my problem. Social media is not necessarily for introverts. I still have no idea how to make it work. I’ve hired help and she’s been fabulous increasing my twitter following and Facebook author page, but I’m still at a loss as to how to create these relationships the marketing experts always talk about. I’m trying to build a following but for me I think I just don’t know what to say. Find out who your audience is and what they are interested in and talk about that. If you figure it out please let me know.
6) The blog. Now here’s my problem with blogging. I don’t read blogs. I usually found the information very high level and not usually useful. Also, see number five. I just don’t know what to say. I’ve been reworking and rewriting trying to find that one thing that gets people interested and every once and awhile I hit on something that people want to read. But mostly it’s high level and quick because none of us has time to read lengthy material. What I do know is, talk about yourself and share. So here’s my sharing.
7) Don’t jump into self publishing unless you really know what it consists of. I jumped right away. I didn’t edit my work enough. I rushed without learning about professional editing, without talking to agents, or attending book fairs. Talk to other authors, find out what’s out there. Find someone like me who’s willing to share the pitfalls. I’ve done this several times to other aspiring writers because I want them to go in knowing what they’re getting themselves into. I wish I knew.
8) You can’t please everyone. I have a writer friend who’s had the opportunity to talk to agents and others in the book industry. Each one of them has offered her suggestions on how to change her book. She’s made so many changes that the book is far from her original vision for it. I suggested she make changes that make sense and yet allow her to retain her vision. She’s rethinking her book because unless one of the agents is taking her as a client, she can’t try and please all of them.
9) You can’t please everyone but you can accept suggestions. As part of eight, here’s nine, similar and yet different. This friend once told me she really liked one of my characters, one that I had only written into the first half of the book. After discussing our books with each other, I realized she was right. I should include Jack Ramsey in the latter part of the book and planned how to do that. I figured an FBI agent whether he was in charge of the case or not would want to be there to see the case through and I had him conclude the investigation by being there to capture the murderer and arrest him. The second major change came after my editor pointed out that all of my relationships started before the book’s timeline and that maybe it would be more interesting if we saw the start of some of those relationships. I thought about it, agreed and changed one of the key relationships in the book. Jack and Annie no longer knew each other prior to the story. It changes how they interact and creates a little tension and confusion. Make the changes that make sense, because you can’t please everyone. Please yourself first.
10) Believe in your work. I love my characters. I love the story lines. I love my book series. I really believe I have a great idea for book series and a television show. If I don’t believe that I should stop writing.
11) Most importantly, believe in yourself. No one else will. You will find supportive and helpful friends but only you can write and edit and do the things you need to do in order to make your dreams happen and you have to believe that you can do it. If you don’t believe in yourself you won’t get very far. You are a writer, you deserve a chance to try to make it. We don’t always get what we want but if you have no faith in yourself, you will never achieve anything. And I discovered I believe that I can do this.
Am I bitter? Sometimes. Do I lack self-esteem? When it comes to my books, right now yes. But I’ve learned a lot in the last four years. And one of those things that I’ve learned is, I have a lot to offer. I’m a good writer with a good idea. It’s just going to take me a little longer than some. And in reality I was never really going to quit. I’m a writer after all and that’s what I was born to do.