The Learning Process Sets You Free

This post is for aspiring writers who want to write but are fighting demons of fear and thoughts of indecision, many times due to dated beliefs. I have met people who are passionate about writing and want to publish their works but will not act on it because they do not feel ready. However, I’ve noticed some misinformation clouding their thoughts and preventing them to act. Some of it has to do with the dated concept of “the self-publishing taboo,” and with the indecision or ambivalence of not knowing which road to take – traditional or self-publishing. It is true that they might not be ready, but only because they are not well-informed. While time goes by, and indecision grows, passion is dormant.

It is true that the publishing industry is undergoing a fast and furious transformation, as we speak. However, it has broken many chains and developed other pathways giving new choices to writers. Despite the turmoil (different in many countries), one thing is for sure – the old model is broken, and change will be continuous from now on.  Aspiring writers who do not embrace learning about the changes and believe only one side of the story may be missing opportunity but only because of lack of information or failure to research and learn. By learning as much as they can about the many venues, pros and cons, writers broaden the picture, and can make a better decision. For some, traditional publishing will be best. Other writers will discover that self-publishing fits more with their personality, work ethics, and writing goals.  It is impossible to discover this if one does not research both industries. Following a crowd (any crowd) while misinformed is not the answer.

Writers who embrace learning do not rush into a decision, but consider all sides and possibilities. When they know the path that best suits them, they embrace it. They have no doubt that they have made the best decision, they don’t regret it, and become free of preconceptions and the damage that misinformation causes.

I want to distinguish between self-publishers and independent authors/publishers. The later group is well-informed, have clear and specific goals, and treat their craft as not only their passion because they approach it with entrepreneurial spirit, and with a long-term vision. This is the case because they did their due diligence well. They know what they want, they know were they are headed, and are happy with their decision – they are free. It is this freedom that lets them deal with the consequences of their decision, despite of whatever the industry is doing at any particular moment.  It is not about the industry anymore; it is about their vision. They are free because the industry does not dictate what their vision must be. They are free to act, to write, to be.

Selling Your Soul

Balance

Balance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been very active researching and learning about the Indie movement, and always keep my eye out for new trends and developments. A development that I have noticed in the past few years is capitalizing on trends. I view it as selling your soul, but that is just my opinion. The traditional publishing industry has played this game for some time now, and it is only one of the reasons why the independent publishing movement started. Indie writers who wanted to become published authors but were rejected by the traditional model because their books were not “what we are looking for now” took matters into their own hands and thanks to companies like Amazon, were able to share their works with readers. This is part of the story, but what puzzles me is the conversion by Indie authors to the traditional model, that is, in the sense of publishing independently but trying to capitalize on the current genre trends, despite if what they are writing is not the book in their heart and soul. I have heard advice about going with the wind current and writing what sells. Isn’t that mirroring the traditional model? It has become a frenzy, a free for all that I am hoping will not hurt the movement in the long run due to careless and irresponsible self-publishing that aims to make a quick buck with disregard to the movement or to readers. This is where the fine line becomes strong, separating indies from self-publishers-a-million, and hopefully, strengthens the movement by separating the grain from the husk, and therefore, not risking the publishing balance; because let’s face it, if the indie movement is viewed as a portal for disgraced publishing, eventually the balance of power will flip back to the traditional model. Again, my opinion, not necessarily an omen.

If we care about what we do, as writers and indies, let’s honor the story by presenting it to readers in the best light, and with the best intentions. That is where true independence in publishing exists.

The Indie Trap – Avoid This

English: Mouse trap - "Promax" brand...

English: Mouse trap – “Promax” brand Español: Ratonera de ratones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before deciding to become an indie author, I learned as much about it as I could, and continue to learn, knowing that it is an ongoing effort. Indie publishing is evolving fast, and furiously. Honestly, I am not so sure how it will continue to develop and how this movement will be seen in the future. What I have noticed is a frenzy about publishing volume, many times with disregard of quality, by new authors, and even more seasoned ones. What caused this? I am not sure either. It is as if everyone is in a panic, a mania, as if independent publishing will cease to exist so, “I better write a lot of books and publish them before it is too late” or it could be ” too many people publishing, too many books out, soon, it will be impossible for my work to get noticed; it is saturated already.”  That is the impression I get when I read or hear other authors recommending to write many books fast, have them out there soon enough, or publishing many short stories, and novellas just to grab readers. It is indie mania out there!

My take on it is this, if you are planning on writing for a lifetime, of being an author for the long run, avoid the temptation. Write at your own pace, write the best book you can present to readers (you owe this to your readers), and publish it when you are one hundred percent plus sure that you have given it your best effort. Forget about what everyone else is rushing about and doing, and focus on your goals and vision as a long-term author. Write your best story, and present it as a humble sacrifice to your readers. When I say sacrifice I am referring to an offering, your best work.

It is hard to foresee what is going to happen to independent publishing, but you will certainly regret it if you put out work that you are not proud of being your best, that you can certainly foresee, so don’t fall in this trap. Don’t let algorithms, ranking, number of books a year … get in the way of your best work. However the industry develops, let it be; you will continue to be an indie author, if that is your vision.

Great Book for Indies

When I think about all the hours, years of research and learning that I spent as an aspiring author, I have to say that I wished that some of the information I was craving would come in a more cohesive format. Unsure of the path I wanted to take in relation to publishing, after learning as much as I could about not only the craft, but about the different publishing venues, I found that a great part of the information was scattered, biased, and sometimes, not clear enough. Eventually, after separating this information, I finally decided that the indie path was the best choice I could make, and I did.

Recently, I came across an excellent book for indie authors or aspiring authors – The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton. It was first published in 2010, and I wish that I have found it then, because it is a great resource for aspiring authors or indie authors. So I am passing you this bit of information that I am sure you will appreciate. If you are serious about writing and becoming an independent author, or even if you don’t know about it much but want to know more so you can make the best decision when it comes down to publishing your work, this guide is for you. I got my copy from Amazon. It is a treasure, especially if you are starting out; it will save you much time and wasted effort.

So if you are serious about writing, go get your copy; it will be very useful and enlightening. By the way, this is my opinion and I am not endorsing or affiliated in any way; just passing along a great source.

Why Self-published Authors Succumb to Contracts

Français : FICHE GÉNÉRIQUE Modus operandi, ins...

Français : FICHE GÉNÉRIQUE Modus operandi, installation vidéo-interactive, 2003 Conception et réalisation : Jean-Louis Boissier. Production : laboratoire Esthétique de l’interactivité, Université Paris 8, Association Transports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a new world and a new game at the publishing industry. It has opened doors to independent and self-published authors who are enjoying the best time to make their works known without the demands and constraints of the traditional publishing industry model. However, what makes a successful independent or self-published author succumb to a traditional contract? It would be a good idea to differentiate between the terms indie and self-published (this assessment is my view, in general).

I view independent authors (indie) as entrepreneurs who enjoy the freedom and flexibility of maintaining their status as indies, and who have established for themselves  a “modus operandi” that they love and prefer. I view self-published authors as writers who love the craft and have embraced the opportunity with the changes in the industry but whose goal is to one day, become published the traditional way. They might have received rejection notes or not, but their main goal is to obtain publication via the traditional model of publishing, and at the same time, making a name for themselves.

Despite the rules of the traditional publishing model, publishers are turning to Amazon to discover future contracts by following who sells the most/ranking. This works well for self-publishers, who have not been able to reach the system via an agent. For a successful self-publishing author this might eliminate one layer of the traditional method – finding an agent, but agents might be looking for these self-published successes as well, knowing that the sales have been proven, and most likely, will turn into profitable contracts.

Successful Indie authors are smart about all this, and although they love their freedom and flexibility, they would consider the right contract, as long as it proves to be more profitable than what they are already experiencing by their own efforts. For other indie authors, the issue is more about flexibility and the need to control the creative process, and their working style. Indies might or might not want to obtain a contract, depending on their goals.

Successful indie authors who value an entrepreneur model of publishing seem to retain more control over what they want than self-publishers whose goal is to get a contract to validate their status as authors or to make a name in the industry. It seems that it comes down to “what’s in it for me,” and how it falls under “my goals as an author.” Both sides have genuine interests, and there is no right or wrong way to do things, as long as it follows the author’s true values/goals.

Self Publishing – The Rule of Plenty

Let me start by saying that when you decide to embark on the voyage to self-publish, plenty will  undermine your confidence.  As a self-publisher, you will be acting as the writer, the contractor to find an editor, cover artist, interior designer/cover designer … and much more.  If you are doing all this yourself, there is much to learn, little time, and tons of roadblocks, that is, if you want to end up with a product that looks professionally created.  Print on demand may be inexpensive, and if you are just doing e-book format, then your initial expense could be $0.00.  However, this doesn’t mean that you will end up with an excellent product.  If you are a quasi-perfectionist, you may end up becoming your biggest roadblock.

So far, I have embraced the path to self-publishing and I have worked hard towards publishing my first book.  Since I decided to start the process, the rule of plenty has made its presence in my life.  I have had plenty to learn, plenty to do, plenty to cry about, plenty to ignore, plenty to work against, plenty to resist, plenty to embrace, plenty to doubt, plenty to stumble upon, plenty to create, plenty to hate, plenty to whine about, plenty to change, plenty to redo, plenty to cry about again, plenty to disagree with, plenty to fear, plenty to deal with – computer viruses, computer hackers, computer issues, software malfunction, hacked accounts …   And it may have seem that all of this has happened at once.  However, I’ve also had plenty to like, plenty to enjoy, and plenty to love.  Even that my confidence might have been undermined by the Rule of Plenty, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I have chosen this path, and it is not an easy one.  I have found that the only way to beat the Rule of Plenty is to embrace Randomness when it shows up, and keep going.  Yes, embracing the random is the only medicine to cure a bad dose of the Rule of Plenty.   So, if you have been getting an incredible dose of the Rule of Plenty lately, don’t despair, embrace the randomness of it all, and push forward.  Sooner than later, there will be plenty to celebrate.

Why I Chose to Self-Publish in 2013

The decision to self-publish did not come easy to me, neither did it come after tons of rejections, since I stopped myself from sending queries, after sending one.  I realized that more than anything else, I had to define what I wanted out of my love for writing, before going forward.  I knew that I was not doing it for money (for most writers, there’s none in it), or to become a famous author one day … One thing that I knew for sure was that I loved to write, and it seemed that I could do that forever, if the opportunity to turn that passion into a career path presented itself.   Why choose to self publish without even making a real attempt at publishing a novel by going through the usual channels and motion?  It all came down to Creative Control.

Having control over the entire process, and not having to depend on others to decide how or when the story came out matched my working style, work ethics, and personality.  In addition, I never understood why someone who never gave birth to the story would understand it in a deeper level, enough to change parts of it (I’m not talking here about fixing gaps, and other valuable efforts/work of editors and the traditional industry in general).  I wanted the opportunity to craft the entire project, learn from it, and grow from it and with it.  The decision to self-publish was clear only after I understood that all I wanted was to have creative control if writing was going to be something that I would want to do for the long run, and possibly for the rest of my life.

I was aware that it would be a long, slow and tedious process, tons of work, and an exhausting venture, that is, if I was going to do it the right way, and not in a hurry to publish in digital or in print.  The need for getting published fast was not even an issue, when I considered the facts and information.  However, the need to control the process, the schedule, the dates, the story, the deadlines, the art, the release … and all the other issues that go along with it was what I seem to long for the more  I thought about the issue.

I have read about self-published authors who after selling many of their books successfully, have signed up with a well-known publisher.  I totally understand the need of having people taking care of the small details, sites, emails, and putting together a book … all that is a ton of work, and very difficult to do for one person, especially if that author has become a best-selling author; besides, it robs from the main purpose, which is writing the story, and many more stories to come.  So while creative control is a wonderful concept, it doesn’t come easy, and in an ideal scenario, the best of both worlds would be the “perfect balance,” if there is such a thing.  For now, I am very happy to have found my “balance” for the moment, and that is to have been able to understand and finally, make the decision of releasing my piled up novels in 2013.  In doing so, I go with the confidence and peace of mind that it is the right path for me and the decision has not been rushed by any external factors.

Are you unsure of which path to take with your writing endeavor?  Are you torn between traditional venues and the rapidly evolving self-publishing industry?  Is this the only thing stopping you?  For me, it was, but once I understood what I wanted from my writing, the path became clear.  Ask yourself this question, “What do I want from my writing?”

Ready to Self-Publish? Not so Fast

When I started writing my first novel, I was sure that I wanted to go through the traditional method of publishing; however, I decided to wait and contemplate the possibility of self-publishing.  Although I have not made a decision, I put aside my first novel and started on the second one – I am half way writing it.  Why do it this way?  Because it is a very important decision.

If you are contemplating self-publishing, that is great; however, make sure that you are ready for it.  Ready for the financial issues (even is you POD), the marketing efforts, but mostly, ready with your novel.  The novel (or other) must be as perfect and pristine as you can get it.  Why?  Because once it is out there for everyone to see, it speaks loud (and loads) about you as a writer and the quality of your work.

The internet and today’s technology has brought to light many people who want to write and publish their work for whatever reasons – fame, money, love of writing …  Each writer has his/her own agenda.  However, you see many people who convey that they are in a rush to publish their work; many, thinking that they will make a lot of money or will be known widely as best-selling authors.  The reality is that it is not always this way; on the contrary, it is unlikely that this will happen, although there have been exceptions.  It seems that the “hot market” has to do a lot with it.  Once you expose your talent (or non-talent) to the masses, there is no going back, and if you did not bother to polish your work and present it in the best light, this may haunt you for the rest of your writing days.

Before you decide to present your work to the world, whether self-publishing or not, see if you are truly ready (not to be confused with procrastination).

  • Learn about different ways of publishing your work
  • Make your manuscript as perfect as it can be (more than one revision, editing, or hiring the necessary experts …)
  • Evaluate your reasons for publishing and see what venue fits those reasons best.
  • Consider your finances and your time to dedicate to this full-time venture.
  • Read other authors who have self-publish or who have taken the traditional road.
  • If you have someone who can give you an honest and detached opinion about your work, ask for it. This person should be as neutral as possible.  More than one person is fine, as it will give you different points of view.
  • Trust your gut.  Many times your instinct is your best friend and agent.
  • Be sure deep down that this is what you want.

A note of caution – Rejections are a given in this journey.  Many people decide to self-publish after they have received tons of rejections.  Other people will keep trying because they know that the traditional way is what they want.  Be careful that you don’t get discouraged by all the rejections and the “not marketable enough” notes – it can kill your writing spirit.  If this is what you want to do, continue to pursue it but make sure that you are not self-publishing for the wrong reasons.  It must be true to whom you are as a writer.  If you are so fortunate to get a contract after just a few no’s, realize that these days, the publishing business is all about “hot markets,” and it moves at a fast pace.  Can you handle the many commitments and deadlines that the agent/editors/publisher puts on you?  Are you able to let go of your precious work (and writer’s ego) and be open to all the suggestions that these people will have for you?  Some people cannot and will not deal with many changes in their novel.  I have read/heard stories of changes as crazy (pure lunacy) as far as getting rid or highly modify a main character.  Most times, a writer feels and identifies with his/her characters and lives with them for long – they become a family.  Ponder that and what it does to a writer.

Finally, both paths take a lot of work, dedication, commitment and overtime hours – be sure that you can handle it and certainly, that your family knows what you are getting  yourself into, so it doesn’t take them (or you) by surprise.  Therefore, don’t think of self-publishing as a light issue, an easy cope-out, or a second choice, because it is non of that.  It is an option, a different way of doing things, and in many ways, of challenging yourself much more.  Give it the respect that it deserves (that your work deserves as well) and don’t join the waves of unprepared authors who have self-published in a rush.  Although I have not heard of anyone, it takes the most confident and self-assured, self-made, self-published author to turn down a book contract  to continue the path of the indie author.  That is why your reasons must be clear.

If you have gone through that experience, please feel free to share it here.  As  a writer that realizes the long journey ahead, your experiences are valuable to me and to other readers.

To Self Publish or Not – That is the Question

An on-demand book printer at the Internet Arch...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been working on my novels, perfecting them as much as I can, and getting ready for publishing – maybe next year.  However, the issue of going the traditional route or self publishing has been on my thoughts especially because self publishing is not the taboo it used to be, and more reputable authors are self publishing.  At the same time, there is a lot of crap out and the stigma may hold true these days, so that is my dilemma.

I have read much on the various routes that I can take – publish on demand (POD), going with a small but long-time established publisher, taking the traditional route and pray for an agent … Although this will not happen now, I worry about the decision – simply, because this is not one to take lightly or to rush.  Once you self-publish your name is out there, therefore, you want to present to the readers your best work at the time.  In addition, English is not my mother tongue, so I have to make sure that there are no linguistic errors besides the usual grammatical, style, punctuation … and so on.  That is why I am not rushing and that is why I see it as a huge responsibility – as if I have been entrusted something to deliver to the world.

In preparation for the big day – the day I decide which route to take – I’ve been following author Cliff Burns’ blog – Beautiful Desolation (a pro at it) and I ‘ve been reading lots on the topic.  One interesting series is the How to Get Published Series that As the Pages Turn is doing.  A few authors get to tell their story on how they got published, some of the challenges they met, and other interesting issues.  I like to read Claire Cook’s blog, who is a best-selling author and have gone through the traditional method of publishing.  Her blog is full of insight and great topics of interest to aspiring writers.  Check out her section dedicated to Aspiring Writers and watch her videos.

Thanks to the development of the internet, there is a lot on the topic that I can research before deciding on which road to take; however, there are tons of scams out there and that is something to be mindful of to avoid making the mistakes that many people in the rush of publishing their books have made.

Wether it is self-publishing or traditional publishing, both require a lot of focus and work.  There are advantages and disadvantages for both, and many will be of a personal matter (financial, likes and dislikes, freedom …)  which is different for every person.  In addition, there is the move to another state, the restoration of a dilapidated farmhouse that will become my permanent home, and many other issues that are pushing the decision to publish further away.  It will be in due time.  I am a firm believer of the adage “things always work for the best.”