I’m a Self-Publishing Snob

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Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons 

I’ve wanted to be a published author my whole life. It wasn’t just writing I wanted to do. I wanted my name on a hardcover book, copies in all the big book stores, and tons of readers. By the time I was really ready to publish a book, the publishing industry changed. The odds of seeing my name on a hardcover book dropped to nil and my books in a book store? Well, what book stores?

But that was okay, I could adjust the dream. I wanted an agent and a traditional publishing deal. I wanted someone on the other side of the gate to validate me as a writer. And I came pretty darn close. An editor of a small publishing house loved Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo. She said she’d never seen anything like it before. Finally, I found success. Not. She fell off the face of the earth for a year. She ignored my emails wondering when we’d get started with our process then one year later she wanted to know if my book was still available. Really? I wanted to say. Where have you been all this time? 

The book wasn’t available. After much deliberation and some advice from a successful friend in the industry, Jen Talty, (Check her out. You’ll love her books) I decided to self-publish.

I hate that term. Self-Publish. I didn’t do it by myself. I hired a professional editor. Someone who worked in the traditional business for fifteen years before going off on her own. I hired a cover designer and my covers rock. They look better than many traditionally published books. I hired a formatter to set my books up for print and the E version. I never paid anyone to publish my books. A way for me to put my books out in the market had become available without the aid of an agent or an editor of a publishing house and I took advantage of it. It shouldn’t matter how I published, but it does and not just to me.

I spend a lot of time educating myself on the craft and business of writing. I follow Bob Mayer religiously (someone else you should check out. His books are great and he’s the expert in the industry on publishing. If you’re a writer reading this and you don’t follow Bob, start.) Bob says if you’re a new writer you should traditionally publish first then switch to self-publishing to become a hybrid author. (The term Bob coined.) I didn’t follow that advice, maybe I should have.

As a self-published author (instead of self-published how about avant-garde publisher?) there are things in the industry not available to me. Writing organizations won’t allow me to call myself an author because I’m not with a publisher on their list. I can’t get reviews from the elite review organizations unless I pay for them. And today I found out an event I attended last year isn’t open to me this year because they went and changed the parameters to traditionally published only. Which really made me mad.

I know why they do it. Anyone can self-publish. (Let’s say that’s different than what I did. Remember, our new term, avant-garde publisher.) Anyone can write a book, slap their pen down and upload it to a publishing site and voila! Millions of people can now see your book. Many and I mean many of these writers don’t take the time to learn their craft. They wrote their first book and think it’s so fabulous it must be a best-seller. (I did too, but that isn’t the book I published. I learned why it shouldn’t be published.) Now, don’t get me wrong, some people do publish their first book ever written, but if it isn’t at the insistence of an editor, I might hesitate.

Maybe these self-pubbed authors even hired an editor like I did, but they really don’t know the craft well enough and they still publish too soon. I’ve met a lot of these people. I meet a lot of writers many of them self-published. I check out their work just to see if I’m wrong and I’m usually not. They make all the amateur mistakes new writers make and then they go ahead and publish anyway. Because they can. And that makes it bad for writers like me.

What makes me an expert on how to write? Twelve years of attending workshops, conferences, and seminars. Writing six books. Learning from my critique partners. Teaching creative writing to others. So, I recognize right away when an author decides we needed to know all the backstory on the first ten pages before the story even begins because the author thinks the reader won’t understand what’s happening. Amateur mistake. And good Lord, it’s made a lot.

Quite honestly, I don’t want to be in that group with those writers. I don’t want to be alongside the writers who don’t know how to write, (like the author who wanted to write a romance novel about a married couple who were in love. And showed me the description for the back cover copy. What??? I wanted to say. Have you even read a romance???) but put a book out there because they could. So, yes, I’m a self-publishing snob.

I hate when people ask me who my publisher is because I don’t want to tell them. My writer friends tell me not to worry. Everyone is self-publishing now. Yes, authors who were with a traditional house are switching over because you have total control of your books, your brand, the price you charge and the design on your covers. You also make more money on each book. The same goes for me so that’s the up side and a strong one at that. Plus, traditional and self-pubbed have to do the same amount of marketing themselves, unless you’re Stephen King, so why traditionally publish at all?

To swim with the big kids. Just once.

Maybe if my sales were sky-rocketing I wouldn’t care about my self avant-garde published persona. Who needs your stupid event, I could say. Sales have nothing to do with where the book is published. That’s all on me and way harder than I ever thought it would be to find readers.

Why do I need this traditional validation? I have readers who like my books. Book clubs making their woods into Kata-Tartaroo. Students doing book reports on my book. Another who drew me a picture of one of my characters. I know I’m a good writer, but it’s like being the only one not invited to the cool kids party. It hurts. It’s not the dream. And I’m left standing in the corner with the kids picking their noses. (Don’t yell at me. Not all first time self-pubbed authors are the kids picking their noses, but I promise you, there are more than you think and some of you don’t know who you are. Here’s a tissue.)

Do I give up? Maybe. Write another book? Doing that now. Traditionally publish? Some days yes. Some no. Avant-garde publish? Kind of like the ring to that.

I don’t know what the future holds. I hope there’s a spot with my name on another book. I hope I find more readers out there. Or maybe it’s time to take up the violin and put the writing thing away. Who knows. Not me.

Are you a snob about anything? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear from you.

 

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Cross It Off! #LiveYourBliss

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You probably noticed the blog has a new look. Tell me what you think. I’m not sure yet, how I feel about it, but I made some changes because things are changing for me. My middle grade series is finished, unless you all tell me you’re dying for another Gabriel Hunter book, and currently I’m working on an adult novel. It falls somewhere between Women’s Fiction and Romance. The book is in its infancy stages, but the story is about a middle-aged woman evicted from her predictable life when she receives an anonymous gift – a dilapidated house.

I’m also getting ready to open my doors as a development editor for fiction work. More to come on that in the future.

We’ve been talking lately about living your bliss. If you missed the posts check them out here and here. I hope you have begun taking some steps to bring your bliss to reality. You know, I received a message the other day from someone I went to high school with. It went like this: “Are you really an author? LOL – good for you.” I wasn’t sure what the LOL meant (and I know it’s Laugh Out Loud, thank you,) maybe he found it humorous I could write? But I think the most important part was the “good for you” And I want to say that to you.

Maybe you’ve done some research, hopefully, you found your partner to keep you accountable, but how do you stay organized while on your journey?

I like lists. I’m slightly anal retentive. You should see my cabinets. I make a two lists. One for my personal life and that includes anything I need to get done for me or the Noodges. My second list is my professional one. All my writing stuff goes there. I sit down either Sunday or Monday morning and I focus on only my lists. I write everything I need to do down (Yes, on paper and with a black pen.) I don’t care how long the lists become because once I have down what I need I don’t have to think about the “to-do” list anymore. I focus on completing my tasks and not trying to juggle, in my already crowded mind, what I must be doing.

I cross off each item as it gets done. I love seeing lots of black slashes on the page. I feel accomplished. Even when the page looks messy. As a matter of fact, the more scribbles through the list I have, making the list messier, the happier I am. Goes against the neat cabinet thing, but have I mentioned I’m a writer? We’re all a little off our rockers. If the end of the week comes and I haven’t finished a task, it goes on the list for the next week.

Even though I keep my calendar on my iPad because it syncs with my phone, allowing me to have my calendar with me at all times, I also block out my weeks on a paper calendar. A sample of my calendar page is right below. For this I use pencil. Step one: block out everything I can’t change like what time the school bus comes or kids’ activities. I add doctors’ appointments, hair appointments, social outings. I even include exercising and when I need to make dinner. Whatever white spot I have left on the calendar I know I can do what I want with that time. If you’re trying to live your bliss, that’s what the open time is for. It’s your appointment with yourself to follow your dreams. calendarpage

When I started writing novels seriously, my Noodges were somewhere around the ages of 3 1/2 and 2. You know when my open time was? 5 am! That’s when I wrote. I dragged my butt out of bed and wrote, by hand, until someone woke up which was usually around 6. It took me three years to write that first novel. (It’s unpublished and will remain so for fear of total embarrassment.)

If you’re reaching for your bliss you’ll find the time. I promise you. Write it down. Cross it off. Namaste. 

 

Choose Your Time Wisely & The Hat Trick

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Photo courtesy of Ankakay at Flikr Creative Commons

 

Everyone I know never has enough time to get to everything they want and usually the things that get ignored are exercising, health, and passions. I hear this a lot. “I’ll write that book when the kids go to college or when I turn 50.” “I don’t have time to exercise after a full day at work and running the kids around.” It’s hard to find the time.

We all get twenty-four hours in a day. No one gets extra time. (And if you’ve figured out how to get more than 24 hours let us know.) It’s how you choose to spend that time that matters. Yes, it’s a choice. You can choose to sit on the couch and watch your favorite television show or you can choose during the commercials to drop on the floor and do twenty push-ups. You can choose to go for a walk around the neighborhood or you can choose to eat the ice cream. You can choose to start writing that book or you can do the laundry. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they don’t have time to read. But I bet you money, if they got off that computer, stop playing Candy Crush, scrolling through Facebook, or staying away from Amazon there would be more time to read.

I know how hard it is to “find the time.” When I decided I was going to take my writing seriously, learn my craft and write a novel, my children were toddlers who didn’t nap and I was the primary care giver. The Coffee King had recently started his own business. He worked all day making sure he was successful enough to support all four of us. He used the only computer we had. That meant, if I was going to write I had to get up before the kids did at 6 a.m. I woke at 5 and wrote by hand.

I thought when the kids were old enough to understand, “Mommy, is going to do some work now” they’d know they couldn’t come looking for me for a while. How wrong I was. So, I employed the red baseball hat trick. I told them, when I was wearing the red baseball hat they weren’t allowed to talk to me unless there was blood or vomit involved. I promised to warn them before I put the hat on so they could ask all the questions they had (and they always had questions) but no talking to me until I took the hat off. It worked. But it was a choice to carve out the time.

Even now that they are teens I choose to say, “I’m working now.” Or I stop what I’m doing and pay attention to them. I choose to work out instead of taking a nap because exercise keeps me nice. Sometimes I choose the cookie and not the fruit. Or I choose to return a call to Person A instead of Person B.

But at the end of the day I’ve chosen how to spend my time. And you can too.

I like lists and calendars. I mark out my whole week on a calendar. I pencil in the things I can’t get out of. Like going to the bus stop or doctor’s appointments or making dinner. Then I see how much white space is left and then I pencil in the other stuff. Sometimes I have to choose exercise over writing. I don’t like that choice because I want to be able to do both in a day, but I choose. Or I choose not to meet a friend for lunch so I can write and exercise. That’s how I carve out my time.

I’m always looking for ways to improve. But I’ve published three books in three years, I exercise pretty regularly, I keep a somewhat neat house, and I’ve been known to volunteer. In no way am I perfect, far from it, but you can trust me when I say you have a choice on how you spend your time.

So, tell me. How do you spend your time? How would you do it differently? What’s the one big dream you want to go after if you only had the time? Namaste

 

Real Writers Don’t Self-Publish

 

I often get asked, “Who’s your publisher?” And sometimes I answer, “Why does it matter?” This article offers some insight into the traditional vs. self-published world. Enjoy!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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One of the things I love about doing what I do is that I have the ability to connect so closely with you guys and speak on the topics that matter to you. Yesterday, a fellow writer shared an article from The Guardian, For me traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. She wanted my take on what the author had to say.

All right.

For those who’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, I hope I’ve been really clear that I support all paths of publishing (vanity press doesn’t count).

All forms of publishing hold advantages and disadvantages and, as a business, we are wise to consider what form of publishing is best for our writing, our work, our goals, our personality, etc. But my goal has always been to educate writers so they are making wise decisions based off data, not just personal…

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Is The Absence of a Sign, A Sign?

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I’ve been making up stories my whole life. I still remember being six or seven and writing stories in a marble composition notebook sitting at my (I probably shared it with my sister) kids’ size fake Formica table in my grandparents’ apartment. I dreamed of being an author with my name on the cover of a book, copies filling shelves, and entertaining readers they way I am when a good book grabs on and doesn’t let go.

I’ve published three books, which wasn’t easy, and wrote three others that will probably never see the light of day. Those were my learning the craft books. Give me a one sentence idea I could probably outline a story for you on the spot. Story ideas are my favorite part of writing.

Except recently, I don’t have anymore ideas. They dried up in November like mums left outside without water. I think it started when I stopped sleeping. Then Noodge 2 was diagnosed with a vestibular migraine and missed school the whole month of December. She’s still on the mend and I’m still not sleeping and there are no stories.

My friends tell me the stories will come back. Not to worry. Take some time for myself. But I wonder if I’ve written my last book?

So, how do we know when we’ve come to a cross roads? How do we know the difference between it’s time to make a change and just wait it out? Things will turn around. Or is the absence of a sign, a sign?

I suppose you take each day as it comes. What is meant to be will be. There is also the saying, “In God’s time” which is certainly not my time.

I ask you, how do you handle your crossroads? How do you get quiet and listen for the answer? And when do you say you’ve reached the end of the journey it’s time for a new direction?

 

#Sale

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It’s the last day to get Welcome To Bibliotheca for $.99 for Kindle.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

$.99 Sale For A Limited Time

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Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Don’t you get a huge charge when you find something on sale? Buying on sale is like getting away with something. Or is that just me who feels that way?

In honor of the release of my third book, Welcome To Skull MountainI’ve put the Kindle version of book two in the series, Welcome To Bibliothecaon sale for $.99 January 9 – 10th. If you haven’t read the second book yet, now’s a great time. It’s too cold to go outside, but the perfect time to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book.

A little about the book:

Thirteen year-old Gabriel Hunter survived Kata-Tartaroo and wants to go home, which is surprising for a Lesser like him, but instead he and his friends, Owen and Corinna, are forced into another terrifying world – Bibliotheca – where the sun never shines, the temperatures are freezing and the snow pummels you. To make matters worse, Gabriel and his friends have been taken captive by Yugs.

The Yugs will send these three back home, but only if they agree to help with their mission: Enter the Building of Books, a magical labyrinth filled with dangerous puzzles, locate the Command Center, and outsmart the Wolf before he outwits them.

In this fast-paced follow-up to Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo, Gabriel, Owen, and Corinna must rely on each other to save themselves and save the Yugs. Along the way, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be renewed, and Gabriel will learn leaders come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a race against time to see if Gabriel and his friends will solve the puzzles and destroy the Wolf or be left in Bibliotheca forever.

You can get Welcome To Bibliotheca here. Why not get away with something?