Sunday, July 28, 2019

Self Publishing requires Patience

This weekend has been one of those exercise in futility projects. I tried unsuccessfully, 11 times, to upload the manuscript for my newest novel, to convert it. This is what self-publishing is. Along with the freedom to write what I want and make all my own decisions I have the unique privilege of trying to figure out how to solve technical glitches which I'm fairly certain are not my fault.

Now I want to be clear, many of you would never have bothered. You may never have even noticed the slight difference in font size appearing in the beginning of every chapter. But the editor in me refused to accept even the smallest error. That's not to say you won't find one here and there, in fact my newest nightmare is that I have discovered many modern day fonts do not clearly indicate open and close quotes. So my books tend to contain all kinds of strange errors not detected in digital form. I'm still working on that.

If you're an avid reader, and like to try out new authors, I'm sure you've run across more than a few that you think to yourself probably self-published! Yes, absolutely. So next time you have that thought, consider just what it takes to self-publish. It doesn't make the story any less compelling or the author any less capable. It's a heroic first attempt, and you should applaud it. We should all have much more respect for those who endeavor to see their creations come to life. In fact I divide my reading time equally now between "Bestsellers" and debut novels, mostly self-published. Truthfully I'm usually more disappointed in the bestseller. And always impressed by writers like myself who are basically attempting to climb mountains in their bare feet with no sherpa.

The fact is it is hugely difficult to self-publish. The technology alone is intimidating and ever-changing. This is one reason I don't write on my iPad. I don't do well with frustration. I tend to drop tech items that annoy me. Hard. On the floor. Hoping when I pick them up they will somehow cooperate. I know it doesn't really work that way, but I do feel better whatever the outcome. So I stick to using my desktop computer. It's too heavy to pick up and accidentally drop. I do however tend to swear at it. I miss my typewriter. For those who have never used one, trust me, they were awesome.

In the world of self-publishing, once you type in the proverbial "The End" it's time for the not so fun stuff. You don't just type up and format a manuscript, use spell check and upload it and pat yourself on the back and say "Well Done Self!" Nope. You have to proof it 4 or 5 times maybe 10. Out loud. Never silently. Read it. Reading it out loud means you can't skim or skip over things. Then have someone else read it. And someone else. Then and only then, when it's all clean and shiny and polished, you upload it. Convert it into 8 or 9 different formats. Apple, Kindle, PDF whatever. Then you download each of those and open each app and triple check once again. Find that wayward comma in the middle of empty space and realize you have to re-upload, reconvert and re-download and reproof. It's not a simple, or pleasant, experience. Then there's the paperback version. Sure you can hire someone to typeset and format and polish and design a cover, but hey where's the fun in that?

This is truly the ultimate DIY project for the creative soul. The feeling you get is incomparable. Trust me. And it is so worth it. Because once your printer's proof is on order, you can pour a margarita, sit back, put your feet up, and read a good book. That's the reward. You knew there'd be one right?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Writing for the sake of writing

One of the most disheartening things writers tend to do is question themselves. Debate whether to give it up because they aren't doing well. Me included. But then, I have to ask myself, what's the standard measure I'm using for doing well? Book Sales? Notoriety? Influence? Publishing offers? What defines the success of my writing? Or anyone else's?

What I'm getting at, is today's writers are faced with a very difficult decision in how they place their books in the marketplace. And unfortunately, when it comes to books, it's all about the marketing, not the writing, not the reading, not the printing, just marketing. Targeting the audience based on what they say they want to read and what they then actually pay for. When they go online to search for a book, every online retailer tracks their search data. Then they track their purchases and downloads and online reading habits. Then publishing houses and agents buy that data and use it to determine what will sell. So does that mean we have to tailor our writing to meet their predetermined qualifications for a bestselling book?

On the one hand, no, please don't. If you write because you love it and you have a story to tell, then tell that story. Write your novel and speak your truth and readers' search parameters be damned.

On the other hand, yes, please do, if your goal is to be a bestselling author, regardless of all else, then you must write what the market and the reader demands.

Perhaps it's a bit of both, if you're lucky.

Writing for money isn't the same as writing for the sake of writing. So choose what you do based on what your goal is. Mine is to get my stories out of my head. A well known creative recently told me they wished they could do that more often. Published authors are in fact a commodity for the agents and publishers that depend on them. Their livelihood depends upon the sale of each book. It's a commercial enterprise and the bottom line is success is spelled in dollar signs. And it's certainly a trade-off many writers will accept! I think if you are young and building your career writing for the market is a must.

I am no longer young and eager to be the next Jane Austen. Instead, I'm fortunate enough to have already had a career, my kids are grown and nobody depends on me economically. So this is my new incarnation. I have no expectation of hitting the big time, so instead, I get the thrill of writing what I want. There's no real money in that. But that's my trade-off. I write for the sake of writing and it makes me happy. Personally I think it makes for a better read too.

In about an hour, my first published paperback will arrive. I will lovingly put it on my shelf, and take it down to read it probably daily for the first month. Because I've waited my whole life to see one of my novels in print. I made that happen. So for me, one mission accomplished, on to the next.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Welcome to Writer's Block

I'm envisioning this as a place to explore and share my journey as a writer. My goal is to hopefully make it easier for others to launch their own journey without fear. Because for me, I've spent far too many years afraid to 'go public' with my work. 

Why do so many of us fear sharing our writing with the world? Especially fiction? For me it's about judgement. Criticism. Rejection. Over the years I've had too much negativity from so-called experts. Those who discouraged rather than encouraged. Those who simply dismissed my efforts. Now I guess as they say I am woke. I realize it matters not a smidge if anyone else likes my stories. I do. 

I'm ridiculously tired of being told my stories aren't a good fit. Fit for what, someone's bank account? Writing isn't about the money. It never has been. The money let's you eat, pay rent, and live to write another day. So all you would be authors, remember, you are a writer if you write. It's that simple. If you are a storyteller, weave those tales. If you are a novelist, finish that masterpiece.

I can't wait to read it.




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