Indie Author Digest #102

So many developments since I decided to jump out into the abyss I figured I should install an update. I was going to wait for some major achievement, but it’s the little steps that are so important. 

For years I had been doing this thing as regards my art: trying to figure out what’s wrong with it. Man, what a sink hole that is. You get so desperate for feedback and approval, it reduces you to a lump. And that’s how I had approached my art for several years. 

As a lump. 

Once, my wife said to me, “I can count on one hand the number of days your writing has made you happy.” 

My God, what a statement. What a statement. I wondered how something that is supposed to bring me such joy and happiness and fulfillment only brought such heartache. 

Last year when Damnation Books offered a contract to publish DOM, I cried. I cried. Because finally something was good enough.

Recently, I’ve changed on the subject of my writing. And its good. A couple things happened. One, I decided to just do this indie thing. I mean, no more doubts. Off into the water. That alone brought relief. Because the absolute worst thing is doubt. It will stop you more than any cement wall. You just end up holding yourself back. So, I dispensed with the Doubting Thomas routine. 

Second, I decided to blog about the intimate details of it. To hell with trying to keep some public facade going. All sunshine and rainbows. No, I will give the real nitty-gritty. The hope, dreams, loss, hopelessness. All of it. Well, doing that made me real. At least to myself. I’m not a clown trying to make the kiddies laugh at my jokes, anymore. I’m the drunk clown now, getting grease paint all over my cigarette. 

(joke)

Third, I decided to do this: experience my emotions and see what happens. That is strange. I was so used to reacting to the situation and feeling bad about not being some famous icon that I was just drowning. So, I sat back and let them go. This last week I just roller coastered between hope and despair. I considered giving up. For real, just saying “fuck this” and making more money or feeding the homeless or something. Then I thought, Yeah, you’d just go out and write a fucking novel. 

That didn’t let me off the hook.

Then I realized. I am a writer. I just am. Always have been. Always will be. I’ll be a writer even if no one ever reads anything I write. That put some demons to rest. The demon that just loves to tell you how much time you’re wasting. And the other sonovabitch that tells you what a loser you are. I’m not a loser, I’m a writer. 

This is all rather personal melodrama, I know, but I am putting it here because these are MY barriers. These are the reasons I haven’t succeeded the way I want to. 

Then at some point this week, I became enamored with another idea: opportunity does not always appear in the guise you think it should. I had watched something happen with my business. Something magical that I had never dreamed of and it meant taking my day business in a direction that was profitable but not what I had planned. But who cares? It’s still opportunity. 

Well, the internet gives a lot of opportunity to writers. You can publish your stuff. Duh. So, I decided it was okay to accept the opportunity, rather than fight it because it didn’t or hasn’t appeared in the form of me being miraculously discovered and given a $100,000 advance, or a Twilight or Harry Potter phenom. Because maybe I’m not writing that kind of book anyway.

The Buddhist principle of being like water became my new philosophy this week. Flow like the river, not crack like the oak tree.

And then I decided to communicate en mass. To just let it go and not be ashamed of what I had to say or write. To not worry about whether I am being socially acceptable, presenting a “right face” or whatever. But to be genuine, to be myself as a writer and an artist.

These things have been plaguing me for so long, I can’t tell you. I didn’t really even know what they were. I was just…punishing myself, I guess. 

Then I got to work and started playing around with cover design. I never knew MS Word could do so much stuff. I designed two covers for short stories and cut my cover design bill down from $200.00 a pop to $15.00 for stock imagery. I would post them now, but haven’t bought the images so don’t think I’m supposed to yet.

This was huge for me.

I had thought that I HAD TO HAVE an artist. And could not do it without an artist. Well, actually, I had been designing covers and telling the artist what to make already. So…if I could just learn a little bit about MS Word’s design templates, I just might be able to do it.

The first one got a thumbs up from the wife straight away, while the second one got shot down out of hand. Then I redesigned it and got a “Wow.”

This, for me, is freedom.  It takes the limit off what I can post on Amazon. It takes the stress off, financially. You have to realize that I have about 1,000,000 words of material that I have been saving to my hard drive. Some of it is previously published, most not. That’s a fair amount of material and it all needs covers.

I also began formatting my first Smashwords short story. I am using Mark Coker’s book called Formatting for Smashwords, or something similar and he just walks you though it. There again, I found, hey I can do this. I am learning all about Word too and feeling better. 

 

Then I went back to DOM. It just isn’t getting reviewed. And it actually galls me and breaks my heart at the same time. You see, I know it’s a good book. I just know it. But…nothing. Makes me crazy.

So, I decided to apply my new attitude to the problem and went online to see who the hell reads stuff. I found this: I am all about helping you out in any way I can. I would also love to do interviews to go along with your reviews if you are interested. I would love to help promote your book in any way that I can.

I about fell out of my papasan chair. And that is not easy to do. You can break the base, but hard to fall out. Anyway, the penny dropped.

I have been barking up the wrong tree.

Next penny.

I have been engineering my own defeat.

Next penny.

I have been making the whole world responsible for my failure.

I would do this: approach my friends to read my book. Well, they are my friends, right? Wouldn’t they, shouldn’t they read my shit?

Yeah, but they’re not readers. Many even say, I just DON’T read and I feel bad about this?

I feel shunned about this?

You hear all the time, know your market. I never knew what that meant.

I looked up someone who agreed to do a review for me awhile back. A reader. I found 2,000 books on their to-be-read list. What?

I started to understand.

Stephen King calls them the Constant Reader. Well, they read ALL THE TIME. That’s who you want. Not the mother-in-law if she’s not also a reader. Not the Non-fiction reader. Of course, if you bark up the wrong tree all the time, you’re going to be disappointed all the time. And you have to understand that readers have huge lists of books to read. I do too. I buy books I never read. And I only review because I am a writer and would want someone to do the same for me. I wouldn’t normally write a review. 

It made me stop taking it all so damn personally. 

 

And I am not talking about being the obnoxious social media guy who only wants to talk about his book to every would-be reader he can find. I just mean, there are people who want to help and you should approach those people.

That’s it. Makes it pretty simple. No more banging my head against the wall because all my Goodreads friends don’t go out and buy my titles or whatever.

Anyway, it’s the simple things. This week saw a lot of simple, but powerful changes in me as regards my writing, my writing career and what I am doing.

I am taking control back from my demons. And I’m pretty sure that has to be done before anything else can be. 

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps someone else out there who may be feeling…well, frustrated. 


17 thoughts on “Indie Author Digest #102

  • C. Miller

    Ah, being in the ‘over 1,000,000’ club can be a pretty frustrating place…
    Good luck to you. I hope the new tree(s) you’ve found leave you more satisfied. 🙂

    Reply
          • C. Miller

            Yep. O.o

            Have you ever shook your fist in the air and shouted, “WORDS!” ??
            I’ve done that. Seriously. More than once. My husband thinks it’s funny. My brain does not.
            I’m just wondering if I’m alone there.

            As for due-paying, I still feel like I’m nowhere near done. So you get all those words (WORDS!), store most of them away to never be seen by anyone other than yourself, then edit the rest until it feels like your eyes are bleeding.
            That might be the occasional neon pen used for editing though. You’d think I would’ve learned by now…

          • A. Michael Schwarz

            Oh, well, then you don’t have to pay the admission fee.

            They say you have to write a million words of crap before anything good comes out. I think you have to write past all the cliches that have been built up over the years.

            Are your words in story form or are they scattered memoirs? I ask because you only have one book up, unless I’m missing something.

            I don’t shake my fist at all. I just talk to myself.

          • C. Miller

            Haha, thanks.

            And yeah, I wrote six books of crap before getting something worthwhile. I say it’s good to do that, and I’m EXTREMELY glad I didn’t publish my first book.
            You might totally disagree with me, but I think in SOME ways (not all), cliches can be okay. Still, I think it’s good to push boundaries in some way or another.

            No, they’re in story form. And yes, only one published (very recently). I spent the last several years just writing them, trying to get something decent, then trying to figure out how I wanted to go about all of it. So just the one at the moment.

            Oh! I talk to myself occasionally too. Not conversations or anything, but random little things. Do you ever find yourself making comments to your characters? I do that when I’m editing sometimes.

            Also, I checked your book out. It sounds crazy! (Crazy is good.)

          • A. Michael Schwarz

            Who is this awful critic you live with? Or does he live in your head? The Homonculus who tells you to shelve everything?

            Cliche’s…if you breathe new life into them, make them your own, they work. Everything does. But then, I guess, by definition they are not cliche anymore, then. I groan every time a hero refuses to kill his enemy because it isn’t chivalrous, for instance. No, that’s just plain stupidity.

            I’m in the process of putting all my stuff up. Setting the little birds free, as it were. There are a few I won’t, but most everything else.

            I don’t make comments to my characters, I have tea with them. Actually, my characters are all some aspect of my persona. And they have their conversations and write the story once I get them going.

            You checked out my book…which one, Demon? It’s kind of dark. Why don’t we exchange books and reviews? Yours looked interesting. I think I read something about monsters…is that right?

          • C. Miller

            FANTASTIC word-usage there with Homonculus. Whew.
            The critic is myself, yes. I’ve been trying to stop being so hard on myself, but…..not doing so well with that quite yet…

            You’re right. Absolutely right. Then I suppose there’s the question of where cliches stop being cliche. I’ll agree with the hero/enemy thing as well. I’ve written some characters who maybe possibly SHOULD’VE been the one to kill someone off and didn’t, but…I DO enjoy characters getting their just due, in whatever way that means…

            Gah, if it wasn’t so ridiculously expensive, I’d be setting mine free a bit quicker than I’m going to be able. (And I have zero design skills to do the covers myself.) Not all of them, but some of them. Critics are always right, at least from where they’re standing, even if it’s just yourself (we’re ignoring any potential biases here)…
            Doesn’t mean SOMEONE out there wouldn’t enjoy it…

            I think it’s inevitable to write books without putting bits of yourself into the characters. Even if they’re just bits.
            I feel that way too – the characters just write the stories themselves.

            Yeah, it was Demon I looked at. Just got done reading the ‘Look Inside’ a few minutes ago.
            I would totally be all for exchanging books for review, but after reading that bit of yours……….You would tear mine APART. I mean that as a compliment, obviously.
            And it’s not monsters in the MONSTER sense. They’re just assassins and are really…questionable people. After the first series (which was paranormal), I wanted to write one without any supernatural stuff in it.
            I’ll be totally honest, even if we were to exchange books, I’m going to buy yours on paperback whenever I’m not broke. I haven’t been sucked in like that in……I can’t even remember.
            O.o

          • A. Michael Schwarz

            Hey you just convinced me to keep writing!

            Tear it apart? You must think I’m one of those guys who loves to slash manuscripts for fun…okay, I checked out your book on Amazon and your homunculus has to go. I’m in love with your character in paragraph 1. So there.

            Yeah, homunculi are interesting, weird creatures. For one, they traditionally are made of dung. Then they run around the farm when they’re done incubating. I saw a recipe for them once–not even kidding.

            I’ll send you a book if you just do a review. And say whatever you want in the review. It might taint your innocent mind.

          • C. Miller

            You definitely need to keep writing. Seriously. O.o

            Haha, no that isn’t the impression I’ve got from you. I was just worried about the ……… difference in skill level. Then also subject matter, possibly. And also the YA thing. (I did write an adult trilogy over the summer and it was nice not to have to ‘sugarcoat’ certain things.) Crazy to have a book out when you’re so worried about people reading it.
            I will take your ‘So there’ and put it in my pocket for a rainy day. XD

            I’ll be completely honest and admit that I didn’t even know the word. I always get impressed when I have to google something. What, exactly, did this recipe entail? Do I even want to know?
            If it involves dung…maybe I don’t.

            I’m pretty awful at doing reviews, but yeah, I’ll do one for sure.
            LOL about tainting my innocent mind. I started reading Stephen King when I was…probably 12-13, so my mind got enough tainting from a pretty young age.
            I’ll admit I haven’t read any horror novels, apart from his, so I’m pretty excited. 😀

          • A. Michael Schwarz

            Oh I shall continue to write until my fingers crumble to dust. And possibly longer. Sometimes I try to pretend I might quit and then realize the impossibility. At one time in my life, I had decided NOT to pursue it and then, as could be expected, it pursued me.

            The recipe is sick and the more I think of it, the more I want to write a story about making them. There are some famous homunculi. Tom Thumb is one.

            There is another recipe, less gross. You take a mandrake and soak it in milk and blood and put it under the bed. Maybe you want to try that one?

            If your mind is not so pure, then I grant ye license to read DOM.

            I am still mad at Stephen King for the ending of The Stand. Blue ball of lightning indeed.

          • C. Miller

            I’m trying to figure out how I don’t have carpal tunnel yet. And hey, if your fingers turn to dust, you can just get one of those Dragon speaking things. I tried that once, by the way. It doesn’t like the way I talk.
            I think it just does that though – gets a hold on you whenever it needs to and you’re stuck going with the flow.

            Uhm. I think………I think I’m good where the recipe is concerned.
            Be sure to let me know if you write a story about them. XD

            Haha, thank you for the license to read. I’m glad I have your acceptance.

            I was seriously JUST talking about The Stand, yesterday or the day before. It’s one the books of his that I want to read the most, and haven’t yet. It’s just….so LONG.
            Glad I’m a flip-to-the-ending kind of person. Now I won’t be too surprised over whatever blue ball of lightning you’re talking about (I don’t remember it in the movie.) I’ll probably still get mad though. haha 😉

  • Chris Shelton

    What a great article, Andy. I can relate to so much of what you are said here. I’ve had some eerily similar realizations myself about being a writer and writing and just getting it out there. Thus my blog, too. So I just want you to know, I get it and I’m totally relating and I think it’s great that you are busting out of the those duldrums and just doing it.

    Reply
  • Susan Call Hutchison

    Gripping, Andy. I’ll tell you how much I enjoyed this: my mobile crashed right in the middle of reading this. I logged back on to Facebook, searched for your name, found the post with the link and came back to finish it. Your honesty — melodrama or not — made it “unputdownable.” May your journey bring you to joy in writing!

    Reply

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