SelfPub at a Writers Expo? Where do I sign?

No, really, its not an rhetorical question.

It shouldn’t be a question.

I’ve been on this journey for three years now, and I’m still asking myself that question.

When I started my self pubbing journey I did it because there was a voice inside me that wasn’t just the woman who occasional wrote a bit, had even finished a couple of novels. I had a story I desperately needed someone to hear, and I could, and would not stop writing. My other novels weren’t so serious, but one summer I had a very serious story, and it grew and grew until it couldn’t be contained. I didn’t need to tell someone – I HAD to tell everyone!

And one of my earliest thoughts was; nobody will publish this story I’m writing.

Quickly on its heels came an immediate fear; then no one would read it.

Image result for self publishing meme

My journey for self publishing has been explained away many times, mostly to myself at night during bouts of sleepless self doubt. I didn’t think a publisher would take it on, it’s an epic story. I could get far better margins for myself if I was self published. I had to get the story out there so people could read it, because that was all that mattered to me.

Except I read an article the other day going off about the #cockygate, (and frankly, many of us did, romance writers or not). The entire affair was offensive, but what I noted about the article was something I myself had feared; the writer tore apart the offending party (we all know who she is), and in the process pointed out something rather critical.

“You self published because you’re scared of rejection.”

That hit home. Hard.

Everyone is scared of rejection, for a very simple reason; it hurts. A lot.

Even if she was doing it during an absolute shitstorm of rage against an author dragging down the very people who would have helped her get there in the first place. Many self published authors are kind, open, and perfectly happy to give advice on how they have gotten that golden opening to write full time on stories they love.

And there are quite a few of us now, and the number is growing every day. Some are just hobbyists, others incredibly serious. And I think somewhere in the middle are a not so small group who, like me… are hopeful. For what I couldn’t say, but its more than a hobby, but not yet a career.

So, when you look at the self pubbing authors, do you think all of them were scared? Oh boy, I hope so. I was scared of having my work rejected, not only as a novice writer but also because my idea (refresher – 10 books and 11 novellas all as one series), seemed so mammoth that it would be turned out on its ear from a traditional publishing house.

There was no way I wasn’t going to write it. For reasons that will become self evident over time. I firmly believed, heart and soul ,and in the darkest of nights, that I had a very specific story to tell. And friends, I didn’t sit for six hours in a torture chair to have the word “Storyteller” tattooed down my spine for nothing.

I can’t even tell you where I began, or how much I learned during this process. I can credit Nanowrimo and the subsequent prize of publishing with Pronoun (who’s departure from the selfpub field I am not over).

There are so many articles, websites, facebook groups, manuals, books, and online tutorials for self publishing that it isn’t funny.

And many of them are self serving, or have obvious intentions of solely making money, or simply put, have their own opinions based on a very narrow field of experience. Where are you from? What genre do you write? Did you have a cover designer? Have you got a social platform? You must have an editor. Let alone how good are your stories – that almost becomes a backdrop against what you have to have as a self published author.

Do you know what there isn’t a lot of? A central place for many striving authors to go and discover if this rather complicated journey is for them. Or if they keep trying to fight an incorporeal judge who, by reputation, has already told them, in no uncertain terms: “No, we don’t take work from unpublished writers.”

Every publishing house ever – even the ones who say they do accept non published authors, still need for you to get a good editor, good synopsis, and a host of other things, for them to even look at it.

I would have given anything to go and talk to someone before I decided to do this. It brings me to tears to think about how many mistakes I made, how I wasn’t sure I was ready or capable for the dedication this requires. If I was prepared for the amount of work involved, that has nothing to do with writing my actual stories.

When so many other countries are embracing what is one of the most rapidly growing markets, why aren’t we making places to do this that aren’t online groups?

Come on, Australia, why not? We are such a country focused on community and the arts and driving our passions, why aren’t we catering to one of the greatest fields out there?

Why aren’t we telling people with very small means, that no matter how insignificant they might feel, will one day change the world, that there is a space for them to simply tell stories.

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1 Down, 5 to go….

And 2 to edit!

As quiet as I’ve been believe it or not I am only running slightly behind schedule!

Unfortunately I’ve also attended a family wedding, coo-ed over becoming a real Aunt instead of just an aunt in law, and changed jobs! All of it involved holidays, celebrating, consumption of brain power and not much else.

While farewelling the old role was hard, I’m enjoying my new job and hopeful that the amount of writing hours I can cram into my day will grow, especially over the coming months. So no, I haven’t done as much as I would like, but I think I’m still on track for my six books for this year.

And I have good news, first of all one of my six books is done, a personal one and a long overdue promise, and I’ve been having fun working on the others in dribs and drabs.

The other piece of good news, for you guys anyway, is that To Chase a Prophecy has been through preliminary editing, and needs some changes that involve a bit of a hack saw. They weren’t quite the direction I saw coming, but that’s what I have Scott for, and he’s really very good at getting the best out of me.

He’s also sinking his teeth in A Phantom Presence, so all of you excited about the Last Prophecy direction, its well on its way… ahaha, that’s never getting old, I am so terrible.

Ahem.

We should also be compiling the COMPLETED promo video for the start of the series and I hope to upload it here along with all the fancy artwork, dramatic music, and serious voice actors! Look out for it next month!

Queen of Spades: Darkening, the second installment of the Queen of Spades series is definitely not on the backburner, and a chunk of it is already done, I look forward to showing you more of that towards the end of the year, as while its complete, I trust my beta readers when they say I better show up with the sequal. Oh yes, and for those who remember from the last post, the third book better be out too.

Speaking of the last post, I didn’t talk about the other book I’ve been writing, but wanted to play a little game with those paying attention – post a comment below about what you think this other project is, and correct guesses will earn themselves a free copy of To Chase a Prophecy when it comes out.

Good luck….

Moscow after a nuclear war Autumn wallpapers and images - wallpapers ...

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Where have I been?

Right here actually, I was right here working my behind off.

I’ve flung myself into the yet unnamed 3rd book of the Last Prophecy Series, and its proving to be beautiful but… a tad political, requiring oodles of research but that’s for another post when I DO have a title for the book.

I’m also neck deep in the reviews for Queen of Spades Awakening – and being told by my beta readers I shouldn’t release in February without the next book being ready. Why? Well it may have the smallest… tiniest… little cliff hanger. Ok, I’ll stop lying, its so awful my sister made me partially deaf in one ear when I told her I hadn’t written the next one yet. Which means plonking down and writing the next two because the 2nd one in the series also ends on a cliff hanger. I’m a sucker for cliff hangers.

On top of that my dear husband and I have settled on a builder and are in the process of starting the ball rolling on our plans for our first home. Exciting times I can tell you but it does mean there are going to be some pretty major crimps in my ability to keep my author platform afloat.

But what does that mean for my writing?

Well – I’ll keep going, and I’ll keep releasing them as I promised.

To Chase a Prophecy should be out in July and follows Kat in her adventure to her mother’s homeland of Rodovinia; and hopefully more answers on the Well of Youth and the other as yet unknown dangers in Nick’s translation of the Last Prophecy.

In October I will release A Phantom Presence; the next instalment of the Last Prophecy Series. The second book follows Detective inspector Ruslana Sergeyovak in Rodovinia’s capital, Kosyavko, as she tries to unravel a series of strange murders and why she believes they are linked.

Hopefully later this year – mid year at this stage – I will be able to release the first two books in the Queen of Spades Series. This is my first foray into Sci Fi Romance, though the story lends itself more to Sci Fi than romance. It’s a very different writing style and take on what I do in the Last Prophecy Series. I’m quite excited to be working on it and its main character is to die for. Literally.

There is also another book series I have off to the side that promises to be far darker than anything I’ve written yet, but my husband loves the concept, despite the sordid depths its going to sink to, and I blame my nightmares for it’s inspiration.

Fun as all that is, I’ll be taking a step back from my social media and advertising to focus on writing more. I’ll be designing my own covers for the foreseeable future, but the part that hurts most about all this is being unable to get any more of Nushi’s fabulous artwork done because we’re saving for the house.

I’ve bemoaned to fellow authors in the same predicament as me that we seem to give up an awful lot of things relentlessly pursuing this indie author dream. And the Treasure Planet line has been thrown about more than once, in fact, I expect certain friends to inact a daily quota I am not allowed to exceed.

I was explaining this beautiful scene from the Disney movie to someone who hadn’t seen it (and if you haven’t, spoilers, and stop reading this and go watch it, I don’t care how old you are). How moving it was to see Jim and Silver fly the little schooner about the stars. The eventual return to the main ship to dock for the evening, and how Jim tells Silver that he has all these plans. Silver looks so forlornly at him, telling him to be careful, that things don’t always turn out the way you plan. And for those of you who’ve seen it, Silver tells Jim, knowing that he’ll betray the newfound trust Jim has in him, sooner rather than later.

When Jim asks Silver how he lost his hand, Silver stars down on it, and it tears my heart out every time I see Silver look at cold steel, the metal folding into a curled fist, as though to hide that he cannot see the palm of his hand anymore. Those epic lines in the softest baritone tremble through the air; you give up a lot of things, chasing a dream.

How many times have I said that same thing, sitting over a keyboard wondering if my words will ever be read? Staring at thousands of hours of worth of text and wondering if anyone cares as much as I do for the story they hold. Fumbling my way through the plots and images in my head to make what I want to say be an engaging book.

But how do I always forget what Jim says next; was it worth it?

Yes. It’s a certainty breathed into my soul.

Because if it isn’t worth doing now then it won’t be worth it even when I can write full time, or have that publishing contract. It’s not worth it if I don’t get everything I can out of the process itself.

When I finished writing A Phantom Presence last year there was something very satisfying in not bursting into tears and feeling a horrid kind of mental anguish as I did so completely with the Well of Youth.

When I finished the Phantom I was quietly, assuredly, proud.

This year the goal is to write six books, publish four, and remember that this is a dream worth chasing.

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Looking forward and proud of what’s past…

It’s at this time of year that I look more towards the new year than what has passed before, and I cannot do that this year.

I released the first book in the Last Prophecy Series, The Well of Youth. From that came my first book launch, and it told me that I had made it.

I wrote three other books, totalling some 280 thousand words. Along with a yet as unfinished piece of work for Queen of Spades series, and a new series, it’s more like 350 thousand words.

After successfully running a Kickstarter I got to not only hold my book in my own hands, I got to give the first copy to my father.

I lost Pronoun and republished anyhow.

This year I get to be even prouder of my accomplishments than last year, and with this sense of accomplishment my goals for 2018 don’t seem so hard.

I want to write six books. 2 for the Last Prophecy, 2 for Queen of Spades, and then there is this other series I have developing in the background. It’s not a bad goal, and while I won’t make it with other plans (finding/building houses!!), I will be endeavoring to try.

As this year draws to a close I am always optimistic for what tomorrow will bring and to do better, but this year is different, I am far more proud of the progress I have made. That self publishing has thrown some pretty hard curveballs at me, and I’ve managed to not only survive them, but understand I am not giving up in spite of those setbacks.

I hope when you make your goals for 2018 you don’t forget how hard it was to accomplish what you did in 2017, and that it was completely worth it.

Happy New Year – hope it’s a corker!

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Quick Update – Live on Amazon & D2D

I mentioned in a previous post that I would be moving across to KDP and Amazon, and have now done so, the books were only down for about 24 hours or so on most platforms, but – I have lost all my reviews.

I am waiting to see if Amazon can put them back, but if you don’t see your reviews within the next week for any of my books *please* put them back up!

Also, the links on this website for the books don’t currently work, but I am working on fixing that soon, I just had to get all the new links in order!

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Nanowrimo, Problems, and Progress!

As I posted recently I’ve been awash in the wake of Pronoun coming down. For those of you who don’t know but want to understand the implications, they can be summerized thusly:

  • The books ALL come offline until I find another way to self publish them
  • I lose all my ISBNs
  • I potentially lose all the reviews on those sites for my books
  • I lose all my promos on various sites linked to those specific URL
  • I lose the benefits of Pronoun (here are a few; Emails whenever I sell/get a review, excellent support, full 70% profit from sales, cost free uploading, 0% of sales taken… the list goes on.)

Sulking aside, its not been great.

To add to that there have been numerous problems with the hard copies of the books; because of the delay on when I received the funds, and the launch of the book not long after its been a bit difficult to get it all organised.

As I had to wait for several things to align (stars, planets… designers), but I’ve run into some serious problems on formatting both fronts; the Indesign stuff for the core text was tricky, and I wanted to do it myself because it is possible and I didn’t want to waste the ludicrous amount of money on paying someone to format it.

I told all the Kickstarters I’d be using Ingram, who don’t format. I then spent some time investigating, and then reporting my finding to the author’s alliance (hence why I ended up doing it myself), which got a little messy and complicated.

We should have been all ready to print this week, except from late October the designers of the book cover haven’t come back to me with the print cover indesign files and are not answering my emails. And I don’t know why. *sigh*

I paid them several hundred US for this service but it was done a long time ago and I can’t get it back. Its tempting at these times to just throw in the towel!

I will find someone else to do them because I want these books before Christmas! I am very determined to get the print order in by the end of the week, and am looking at some other fiverr artists who’ve done promo work with me before to get the cover for the hardcopy up to scratch.

I am also very unimpressed at the price hike over the last 18 months for book covers; a whopping US$99, they have now jumped to as much as US$300 which is more than I can afford. I am persuing other designers, have paid several, and overall been very disappointed with the results. I mean, I don’t require original artwork, if I want that I’ll go to my artists, (which right now is on the cards), but it would be nice to find someone who can give me what I need. I guess I’ll keep looking…

Kickstarters: The other problem is you! I have emailed a few of you a number of times asking for addresses to post the books! Please give them to me, or if you aren’t sure about it flick me a message through the website or Kickstarter page!

In regard to where my books will go next, I have decided on two platforms; with KDP (Amazon direct) and D2D (Draft to Digital, who cover everything else).

My reasoning is that I can advertise to a *much* larger audience with KDP, and if I join them it will make it easier to transfer across my reviews to the new URLs.

D2D list their books everywhere that Pronoun did except Google Play, but that hasn’t been a great platform with me, and D2D offer a host of other retailers I will be investigating.

The profit margins are far lower than Pronoun, and there is a 10% take on any earnings, but otherwise they are the best that are currently out there.

Its been a long couple of weeks, and I’m supposed to be on holidays writing!

Which brings me to Nanowrimo.

I have knocked this out, and the next novella in the Last Prophecy series (set for release in 2019) is done; The Tumbling Spire.

I will tell you more about it… late next year.

In the mean time I am progressing on the next book in the Queen of Spades Series – the Darkening. I know nobody really knows anything about these series yet, but I won’t be shutting up about them soon!

I am anticipating (hopefully) for the release of Queen of Spades – The Awakening towards the end of the year or maybe early next year, please keep your eye out for it, because it will be a .99 cent book for the first month and then go up to $2.99!

In other, fabulous news, I’ve been awarded a Gold Star Rating for the Well of Youth by the BGS team! It’s a combination of a computer system called Autocrit, and measures word repetition, mistakes, readability, development and a host of other stuff.

 

If any one has anything they want clarified in regards to the Kickstarter feel free to send me a message, I am more than happy to answer, and believe you me I need to do as I promised and give my father a copy of the book for Christmas, so they should be done before then!

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15 Ways to Write More During Nanowrimo

I’m crying. I’ve been crying all morning.

Pronoun is shutting down and I have no idea what I’m going to do. I just launched the Well of Youth and its getting 4 and 5-star reviews. I just put a lot of money into advertising and reviewing to garner its attention. I took down my novella and made it free before, lost all the great reviews that Amazon wouldn’t put back, and got left with a bunch of mediocre ones.

I’ve cried in bed, in my husband’s arms, over blueberry pancakes and in the shower while I pulled myself together. Now, on my 5th coffee, I will still do the post I was going to do today.

Which is to tell you how I do Nanowrimo.

 

I committed to 150k words for the month of November, to write the next novella in the Last Prophecy Series, and to do the next book in the Queen of Spades series. Its been a rough couple of days but I’m on over 10k words and plan to write another 10 if not 20 today by mostly pouring my heart and soul into it.

How?

So first up (& cheating a little here) I posted last year on 5 ways to get through writer’s block;

https://ejdawson.com/2016/06/28/5-tips-for-writers-block-on-your-project/

I can’t recommend deciding on two separate decisions a character has and rolling to see which is more likely, that gets me through so many hard writer’s blocks.

But now I want to impart 2 other lots of tips; 5 ways to work on your book when you can’t physically sit down, and yet another 5 ways to get through writer’s block with your current work in process!

5 Ways to Work on your Book when you can’t sit and Write.

  1. Think about it all the time!

I do mean this. I think about my story when I’m on the road, when I’m in the shower, and when I’m going to sleep. It doesn’t matter if I forget or can’t write it down, I follow the thread and review where I’m currently up to, and then I sort of play out the rest of the chapter or scene in my head. I pretend it’s a movie I’m directing, and when the characters don’t speak or act I have to prompt them. Sometimes it helps me see objectively how a reaction is wrong, or the story isn’t going in the right direction.

The added benefit of this is that you *know* what you are going to be writing when you finally do sit down so it’s not such an issue.

2. Take a notebook!

I can’t believe I have to say this but take a notebook. Not your phone, not a tablet. A book of blank pages. A writing implement. I carry one everywhere with me to pencil in ideas, write down the names of characters or even just a great name when I hear it.

Don’t make excuses not to carry one. You can fit a palm-sized notebook in your pocket, pens are everywhere – and that’s only if you don’t have a backpack or handbag!

I have nearly lost great ideas because I didn’t have a notebook, and when I don’t have one I scrounge for paper and pens. I’ve written an idea on a napkin with the waiter’s pen.

The added benefit of this is that you actually remember it better when you physically write things down. This has been proven, (don’t ask me where I don’t remember) for exams and tests. So if you write your brilliant scene in dot point formation it will actually be easier to remember when you do get to write it down!

3. Talk to Someone who’s Objective

I’ve said this numerous times, but my husband’s ability to predict movies and books never ceases to amaze me. When we were dating he hadn’t seen the Usual Suspects and within the first 15 minutes knew Keyser Soze was the bad guy.

So when I have a plot problem I throw what my plans are at him, usually on drives and when we’re walking the dogs, to see if it’s too predictable. If you are worried about the direction of a story ask a trusted and honest friend.

Not someone who says “Yeah, that’s great!” and doesn’t offer any critical feedback.

Someone who will listen quietly and give good advice. They are rare people to have, but they might surprise you with their insight.

4. Make time to exercise

I suck at this one. But it helps clear the cobwebs in my head, it gets rid of the stress. Even a walk listening to the soundtrack I’m writing to is really helpful. Alone time with your thoughts is as important as writing time. It’s really that simple.

5. Plan your time

I have a good habit of sitting at my computer and just writing all the time. I do it when I’m waiting for games to load, I do it when I’ve got a spare 20mins, I do it during my lunch break at work. There are little ways you can spend five minutes getting through a scene or bit you don’t like, so that when you return you can work on the good bits. Don’t worry about it being a perfect setting, just make sure you have the capacity to write as much as possible wherever and whenever you are.

What I mean by this, is that I go through my day and pre-plan writing time; I have to exercise this morning so I’ll write at lunch. I will get home late today because of a meeting so I’ll write tomorrow morning. Think about when you are going to write, and make sure you do it, even if it is only a few minutes. It helps to know you are allocating time specifically to writing, even if it’s only a little, and sometimes that time can be very productive!

 

5 More Ways to Work on your WIP!

  1. Are you listening to the right music?

It came up in a FB post what people listen to, and is it odd to listen to soundtracks while you write? I *cannot* write without a soundtrack, I will actually hunt around for the right soundtrack for my story.

And you don’t have to listen to the LOTR soundtrack to write fantasy. The music should evoke a response from you, and you use that response to write the story you wish to work on. You wouldn’t listen to an upbeat song during a funeral scene, so you need to make sure you’re selective. It also has the added benefit of blocking out other sounds and distractions.

It doesn’t have to be soundtracks either, there are numerous artists out there I suggest you check out for evocative music;

Zack Hemsey; I can’t get enough of this guy, both his singing and instrumental. I am listening to Nomad right now, and I love his songs.

Audiomachine & Two Step from Hell; Both these are great for more fantasy/epic music, but I find there is a great balance of other songs in there too, really wonderful to write too.

Celldweller & Glitch Mob; I’ve been listening to heaps of these guys for my sci-fi romance. They have great action songs, upbeat and full throttle, and they can drop to darker/sadder music too.

2. Where are we?

In the story? Are you describing what everyone is wearing/doing? Are you travelling somewhere? What’s out the window?

Sometimes just a paragraph on what can be seen out the window of a car is far more telling, and sometimes it can lead to intimacy or moments between characters you didn’t see coming; touching hands accidently, a moment of solace. Even bringing the tension higher by sticking the protagonist and love interest in the back seat together when at this particular moment they can’t stand the sight of each other. Or better yet, the protagonist and antagonist.

There are the actions scenes that are great, but what comes between those are dialogue and description. Don’t forget those, and if you start with a description sometimes the dialogue happens on its own.

3. Plan your chapters

Presumably you know roughly how long your story is going to be, whats going to happen in the end. Even if you don’t this is a good way to keep things on track.

I usually know whether my work will have roughly 3k or 5k chapters. I then lay out the story based on the estimated word count I expect. My novellas are 50k words, my fantasy books are 130k, and my sci-fi romances are 100k.

I break it down into chapters, and then I start writing out one line about what happens in each. Sometimes (especially for the bigger books), I’ll leave a few lines. I don’t always stick to this plan, but when I don’t have the motivation to write or am not sure I’m happy with what’s going on, it’s a great reminder of where I’m supposed to go.

The stories tend to have their own lives, and there is a constant question of “Panster/Plotter”. For those of you who don’t know a panster is someone who does next to no planning, and a plotter lays it all out.

It’s been compared to planting a seed and letting to grow, to being an architect and building a house.

I like to think of chapter planning as planting a seed, and putting up the frame work of a house, and then letting the plant grow. You can encourage it to climb in any direction, but sometimes it will head off on a tangent you didn’t see, and that might be a great thing. If not, you can always chop it off and refocus on your framework, it at least keeps you on track!

4. Secondary Characters

Without them the story can be lacking, they give it fibre, believability. So what do they think about what’s going on? Do they agree/disagree with the current status of the book? Maybe the main character doesn’t care what they think but that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware. Is it worth telling the reader at this point? Wouldn’t it be better to show them by bringing them up?

It can be a concerned parent or guardian. A bossy sibling. An angry friend. A crying lover.

What is the effect of what you are putting your MC through to everyone else?

Whether it’s dropping out of school or deciding whether the antagonist should die, the decisions your MC makes has an effect, and not just on supporting characters. On the principle of the school, on the general public when they see what happens to those that cross the protagonist.

We give our MC actions to take, that they think are right, but what if someone else thinks they are wrong? Ask yourself this, see if it affects what is happening right now.

5. Leave it alone.

Yeah, OK. This runs in complete contradiction to one of the tips I gave which was to write through it. When I was writing Phantom Presence I was really angry about a lot of things and my normal outlet couldn’t cut it. I had to walk away from the MC because I didn’t have the patience the character possessed to keep writing her story.

Sometimes emotions sneak up on you, and they can influence your writing for the better, making your stories great. Other times they can completely stuff up the attitude of your MC, making them more depressed or angry than they otherwise are.

There is never a perfect time to write, but there are the times when it isn’t happening, and you need to treat your characters and story with the respect they are due, sit back, take a breath.

Venting feelings through writing is a good thing, but sometimes you need to give it a break, maybe watch a movie or something, and then get back into it.

Writing isn’t easy, I don’t need to tell you that. Writing this has been very therapeutic for me in the wake of Pronoun going down. I can admit that now, and keep working on Nanowrimo.

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