My Books, Publish, Writing

Thoughts on NOT self-publishing

A funny thing happened when I received notification that Kindle Press had selected me for a publishing contract: I had little obvious reaction. My husband was joyous. I felt like I’d suffered a kind of shock, and it took nearly a week for that feeling to completely dissipate. That happened when I woke in the middle of the night and thought, I’m going to be published by someone else!

17zv8Except for a vignette published in an online literary journal, I’ve only been self-published. Oh, I tried for a “traditional” publishing contract with my first novel, but at that time indie-publishing was really taking off, and my impatient and impulsive self jumped in. By the time my second novel was ready for publication, I’d decided I didn’t have the personality type to have a successful traditional career. Or a writing career at all.

I saw myself as a hobbyist, writing what I wanted, the way I wanted to write it, accountable only to myself and readers in that I would write the best books I knew how. I didn’t set out to brand myself as a women’s fiction writer or a romance writer or any other single genre writer. My author friends, volunteered as beta readers and editors and, for one book, a cover designer. I did everything else on my own. And I’ve made mistakes.*

The biggest mistake was in failing to understand the necessity of abundant platform and marketing resources to succeed financially as an indie author. Realizing, finally, how much I lacked in that area, I didn’t expect to—and didn’t—make much money. And for a while, I convinced myself I was okay with that. Oh, how we lie to ourselves!

I work hard at writing. For the last seven years, I’ve sat at this computer nearly every day—for several hours on each of those days. Writing is my full-time job. The thing is, my only job before this was raising children—four of my own and then providing day care for four of my grandchildren for various periods over the next several years. Though childcare was absolutely the most rewarding thing I’ve even done, I didn’t receive a paycheck for that job.

Now, things have changed. For the first time in my life, someone has paid me for my work.

As I write this, I’m waiting to hear from my first professional editor. I’m accountable to someone else. I’m no longer just a self-published author. Someone has seen value in my work and was willing to invest in it.

Yes, I know authors say validation comes from satisfied readers. And definitely, it does. I don’t discount that a bit. Readers complete the equation. And I don’t discount the readers who’ve invested their money by purchasing my books.

Still, the money Kindle Press deposited to my bank account was a different kind of validation. It was a much needed boost of confidence. Finally, I feel like a professional. I feel like a grown-up. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a bit apprehensive about this new kind of publishing too. Then again, I suppose the unknown is always a little scary.

We shall see.

Linda

*I’ve been wondering if, once again, I acted impulsively by submitting High Tea & Flip Flops to Kindle Press … but that’s a topic for my next post.

My Books, Publish, Writing

Can’t see the end from here

Nearly half the month of January has passed, but for me it’s mostly done so in a dull blur. On New Year’s Eve, I started getting sick, but we still had a houseful of visiting family and our biggest dinner of the year ahead of me, so taking to bed was not an option. I muddled through. Two of my sons were sick too. One was leaving on vacation the next day, the other flying home in a few days. Fun times in the Lewis household. Now, tons of medication and boxes of tissues later, it’s time for me to get back to work.

year_roadTraditionally, in the beginning of a new year, we assess the past year. So how well did I reach last year’s writing goals? Well, I declared 2014 to be a year of writing, not publishing, and so it was. Yet I didn’t end up exactly where I hoped I would.

This time last year, in the midst of working on my third women’s fiction novel and revising a paranormal, I started a writing experiment. I decided to write a romantic comedy—a novella, I thought. So I set aside the revision and alternated work on the novel and novella.

But then I got so invested in the romantic comedy, that I set aside the novel and replaced it with revising the paranormal. Luckily, my deadlines are my own making.

As usual, after getting a little feedback on the first draft of the romantic comedy, I realized it was far from done. In revision, it grew and grew to novel length. And after getting a little feedback on the paranormal, I realized it had a few glitches to work out. Work on my poor women’s fiction novel had completely stalled.

I’d hoped to have at least one novel ready to publish this month. I have none. If I’d focused on one of the three projects exclusively, most likely I’d be gearing up for a new release right now. But my jumping-bean brain didn’t cooperate.

Still, I do expect to see both the romantic comedy and the paranormal published in the next few months. I also expect to finish the first draft of the women’s fiction and take it through editing, feedback, and revision this year. Can I have it ready to publish by the end of 2015? I hope so, but who can say?

I’m looking forward, but I can’t see the end of the road I’m on for 2015. All I know is that it’s going to be an adventure. Here we go …

Linda

Craft, Novel, Writing

Formula Writing

In certain genres, some successful authors appear to write to a formula. Certain, some, appear … could that sentence be any vaguer? But it also contains the word successful, though success can also be interpreted in many ways. In this case, I mean those authors sell a lot of books.

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Part of our goal as authors is to create fans of our work, readers who anticipate and buy our next books. So I imagine those successful authors who write to a formula are not selling each of their books to a new and separate set of readers. No, they have fans who buy all of their books and happily read them.

I’ve heard it said that some of these books are so formulaic that little more than the character names and the locations are changed. I expect that’s exaggeration, but I’m not going to waste my time searching for such books to find out. That’s not the kind of formula I’m seeking for my own writing, anyway.

The basic structure that most novels adhere to is a sort of formula. That structure is intuitive to many writers. Not to me. Knowing that I’m going to have to push, pull, squeeze, or stretch the story I’m writing into that 3-act (or whatever) structure haunts me during the first draft.

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about structure during first drafting, but I can’t help it. I haven’t even settled on an estimated word count for the WIP I’m currently working on. Will it be a novella or novel? That’s one of the reasons I love writing in Scrivener. I go ahead and write the disconnected scenes when they come to me and keep them in a designated folder. When I reach the point where they fit in, I’ll drag them into place.

But I write soooo slowly. I follow a few indie publishing blogs and forums and most of the authors hoping to establish their name (build a fan base), talk about releasing new books every six months—or less. I’ve been working steadily on this WIP for four months and have only 35,000 words written. At that rate, figuring in the writing, editing, revising time, I’ll be lucky to have this book completed in ten months. Add to that a couple of months to prepare for publishing and my start to finish schedule is one year.

I have no ‘day job’ or children under my care, so I can’t complain that I don’t have enough time to write. I do have a health problem that sets me back, but usually only for a day or three at a time. So why am I not more productive?

That’s why I’m wondering about formulas. But I think confidence in my storytelling ability is the formula I’m seeking. If I had that, I’d spend less time stuttering and stammering along in getting that first draft done. And I guess that confidence only comes with time and experience. Which means, I should get back to work. Now.

I wish for all you writers a river of words this week. For you non-writers, I wish for you a week full of whatever you need most.

Linda

Inspiration, Television, Writing

Laughter and Love in the Writing Room

I’m struggling a bit with the first draft of one of the books I’m writing this year. The story is meant to be lighter in tone than those I’ve written previously, which means I have to stop myself from delving too deeply into the dark side of my characters. But I entertain myself exploring that off page.

The main character in this novel is Chelsea, who’s twenty-three but having a hard time moving into adulthood. I’m long past that age. At twenty-three, I was married and the mother of two. So even if I could remember my thoughts and feelings back then, they would bear little resemblance to hers.

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But I know how to research. I’ve done a good portion of that by reading books and watching movies and TV series featuring characters who are young, single, and funny—and looking for love, of course. Life is all about our relationships.

You might recognize the photo accompanying this post. I’ve recently discovered New Girl. Yes, I know it’s been on the air for three seasons, but I don’t watch much TV and when I do it’s usually drama. Yes, I know the characters in New Girl are in their thirties, but they’re still single and immature and funny. And the show is many years more current than Friends.

Via Netflix, I watch a couple of episodes a night before I fall asleep. So far, that hasn’t inspired any dreams directly related to my book’s plot, but I’m sure my Muse is paying attention.  Plus, laughter is good medicine, which helps with my chronic pain.  And that describes what I’m writing—a little light pushing back the darkness.

I wish you a week filled with laughter and love.

Linda

Inspiration, Motivation, Writing

Oh, for the love of writing!

2heartsIn a bit I’m going to share with you a post I wrote almost two years ago. I titled it “Write what you LOVE!” I wrote that post two months after The Brevity of Roses came out. I mentioned I’d starting writing a new novel, which became An Illusion of Trust. It’s now just about two months since Illusion was published and I’m in a “somber, angst-ridden” place again.

Partly that angst is expressed in working on this and that and the other, waiting for a project to spark my passion. Apparently, I’ll fall off the cliff after every novel I publish, but maybe the next time I’ll remember that’s normal for me and just ignore it. For now, I’m still anxious to experience that rush of being carried away with words. I’m hungry for that love of writing. Please, let me be “off and running again” soon.

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29 May, 2011

Yesterday, I started writing a somber, angst-ridden post. I guess the title and the hearts are clues this is not that post. My last post was a bit of a downer. Some of your comments led me to search my soul, question my Muse, and whine to some friends. Oh yeah, I can be a real joy.

The conclusion? I’d stopped writing for the sheer love of writing and started writing with the mindset of production. My work had ceased to be a creative expression and become merely a commercial product. I’d tried to force it. I worked on four different books. But ultimately, I ground to a halt.

Then a friend asked me to read the blurb for her next book, and the wheels started turning. Her blurb reminded me of one of my book ideas. I’d written up some notes and a couple of opening paragraphs. I looked for the file. It took me two hours because I couldn’t remember what I’d named the file, plus I thought I’d started it last year. When I finally found the right file, it had a nondescript name and was dated ’09.

I read what I’d worked up and realized the original idea wouldn’t quite work … but then … oh, then the floodgates opened! I could change this. I could tweak that. And—Oh!—what if this happened? I got so excited that I couldn’t write fast enough and had to go back to the computer to type.

I had doubts. “Is this crazy?” I asked myself. “Can I do this in my “genre”? “Could this be a good story?” I emailed a friend. She wrote back, “I think it would be great!” And that was confirmed when I remembered one of my favorite quotes:

“Listen to Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.

Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.

Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.

Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.”

-Shel Silverstein

So, I’m off and running. I’m writing, writing, writing. I’m in love again.

Write what you love, dear readers. Life’s too short not to.

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