Happy Dance

hwa_unfleshedI always feel like a newb whenever I see my book cover somewhere and I squeal. The sound is somewhere between a dolphin call and a monkey  screech. But here it is, up on the Horror Writers Association page. That’s is probably the closest I’ll get to #VinDiesel, too! (I’ll take it.)

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Hard Knocks

I was lying in bed this morning going through Facebook.  OK, so I’m still lying in bed but now I’m writing.  I’m sort of working now! 

What I was seeing, though, made me a little sad.  You see, I’m a writer but I’m also an independent publisher. Which means I help other authors get their stories into your hands.  

This is a very tough business.  I’ll tell you why.  

Author sits at his/her desk and plots story.  This takes anywhere from hours to days and sometimes months.  From there, the author begins the task of making the outline stretch into a story.  

Characters become personalities, places become your hometown,  words become voices you hear spoken aloud in your head.  

Let’s say on average a novel is 70k words.  Then let’s say the average independent author, who still works a full time day job, squeezes out 1k words per day. We’re up to 70 days of writing.  Maybe they have 1 hour of uninterrupted writing time.  So that’s 70 hous of writing. 

Next step is editing.  The editor takes approximately 2 weeks to finish first pass.  One hour a day for two more weeks.  This is the hardest part of the procean because someone else is now tearing apart your work.  The work you labored over for 70 days.  The work you thought was perfect the way it was. The may be 1-2 more passes like this. ..3 more weeks of hell. 

This doesn’t include beta readers and proofers. 

Now comes the cover. 1 week of watching someone give life to the people in your book.  

And then it’s finally here!  

Launch day!  

You are so excited you can hardly contain yourself.  You sit and watch, willing the numbers to rise. It’s not about the fame. It’s about the story.  It’s always been about the story.  

Days and months of toiling.  Dollars invested in an editor, cover art and/or artist.  

You see the sales trickle in.  It’s slow like molasses.  It drains you emotionally asking people every day to read your work. And when they do, you must continue the cycle of asking them to review. 

All this for a portion of what your book is really worry.  Amazon takes a piece,  if you have a publisher we take our cut.  Who’s really making the money off our work? 

Publishers take considerable risks.  (The percentage of punlishers that go out of business is depressing). We pay for stock for the covers … they get industry standard pay.  We pay for Amazon to distribute … they also get industry standard. 

So watching readers who’ve become accustomed to getting a book for free or before industry standard pricing, only to turn around and not review, or sPreah the word, can be disheartening.  

Writers don’t go into this to get rich.  We do it for the craft,  for the love,  they do it for a place to exorcise demons.  

If you love what you’re reading, and you love the author, support them the best way you can.  Tell someone you loved the book, share the book with a friend or donate it,  leave a review so the next person will read about how amazing the story was. 

70 hours × 3.00 = 120$   now take out 20% and that’s what your author made.  (Average) 

Roller Coaster Muse

I realized that it’s almost August and once more life caught up with me. Each time it does, I’m reminded of the Ferris Bueller quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Such is the life of an author turned publisher. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but that means sometimes my own projects take a back seat. If it weren’t so rewarding I would’ve thrown in the towel by now.

In the last six months, I’ve been involved with over 40 authors within my own company (Stitched Smile Publications, you can find the link here) and seen the growth of almost all of them since coming in contact with the company. It makes me feel proud. I’m doing something for other authors out there just trying to chase a dream that isn’t too far out of reach with a little guidance. We’re by no means making them millionaires, but we’re making them rich with experience and I’m OK with that.

As for me, I’m nearly finished with my next novel, “The Unfleshed”. I had hoped to have it out by the end of July but that crazy thing called “Life” is like a roller coaster with three wheels. It’s so close I can feel the pages in my hand. Thanks to Jeff Brown (A.K.A. A.J. Brown) pushing me, the story is even better than I originally thought it could be.

Other than that, I’ve dealt with my two younger siblings’ health issues. Both within a month of one another. Very scary, serious things that made me take a wider look at my life. I’m only 43. I have an entire life ahead of me if I take care of the one I have. I’ve always eaten right, usually pretty good about working out and staying active…but there are times when Life is just a hag and I can’t push through a day, a week, or even a month without some kind of thorn in my side.

I’m trying to juggle a few things, and while some people think I should not be doing that, those are the things that make me happy. I take care of everyone else, so it is my firm belief that there has to be things that make me happy, too.

I design book covers for Indie Authors while looking for that golden ticket to the big house names (of course, that’s where the real money is), I started my own publishing house and it’s growing by the day, I write, and sometimes I even sit around and do nothing just to clear the cache from my brain. It doesn’t leave much else after my daily duties are done but it’s my little slice of heaven.

You see, I do this because I Love it. Not for the money or the fame. If you’re doing anything for those reasons, you’ll find out on your own how empty that really is. I’m lucky that my personality is such that I’ll never do anything I don’t love whether it’s accounting, working out, filling out spreadsheets, meeting new authors, formatting books, orientations for new hires, etc. Everything I do, I have to love or I’ll move on. I won’t waste mine or anyone else’s time, and most people appreciate that. (Admittedly, there’s been some that would rather push me through things that I don’t enjoy. It never works out in the end.)

The point to all of this is, I suppose, is that I sit back and wonder where the heck all the time has gone. I wanted a relaxing summer by the pool, soaking up rays. I think I’ve gone a total of 4x since the end of May and it’s already August! The pools are starting to wind down and close for the winter (although, hello? I live in Texas! Why are they closed???)

It’s August. And I’m panicked.

Did I accomplish everything I wanted with my writing?
With my Pub House?
With my Family?
With my Book Design Goals?
With my Friends?
With my Personal Development?

Ugh. Someone stop this crazy ride. Just for a minute so I can throw up on the side of the car and get back on.

I keep taking a slow deep breath and whispering, “I can do this.” I know I can do this. I know it because I won’t allow myself to fail. I won’t allow anyone else who sits in the roller coaster with me to fail either.

So here I sit, staring at the horizon of this big, crazy world from the top of the ride. Around me is everything. I can see it. From here it’s small and attainable. Do you know what they call this in Physics? “Maximum Potential.” And every three months or so, I start back at this point. It doesn’t matter what you end the first ride at, the point is that you get back in line and you start here, at the Maximum Potential, again.

Then you ride that first loop! The thrill, the excitement, the confusion…all of it tossing you around as you watch the world whirl by you with your stomach in your throat and your hands in the air!

You take a deep breath, wipe away the tears of exhilaration and pass through the bottom of that loop: Maximum Kinetic energy. Kinetic Energy:  the energy that it possesses due to its motion.

Stop.
Re-Read that.

“The energy that is possesses due to it’s motion.”

Are you busy looking back? Shoulda’, woulda’, coulda’? Or are your eyes on the next turn and twist of the ride? Are you going to be taken off guard? Are your eyes closed? What’s coming next and are you ready for it?

Each loop of a roller coaster is slightly less exciting than those first two. Sure there are a few surprises, but as the car moves, it loses energy so that it can coming to a stopping point without catapulting you out into the stratosphere. A stopping point is a good thing. Because it let’s you catch your breath, re-assess, and redirect where necessary.

Like now. I’m reflecting on my year. What was great, and what was not-so-great, so that I can aim for the future…remember that first gaze at the world from the beginning of the roller coaster? What was it that caught your eye? Do you still want it?

You see that’s where most people get caught up. They see the shiny in the distance, they reach for it but there’s no plan for after they’ve either acquired it …or missed it. There’s no plan for whether it was really what they thought it was going to be upon closer inspection. The ride may have ended there for you and there is no desire to go for another round. You’ve lost steam and “energy” because you burned it off and there’s nothing left.

My life is definitely a roller coaster and I choose to change the ride, not the scenery. What does yours look like? Do you get back in line? What is it you see when you’re at the top, at the beginning, and reaching out?

Stop Putting Your Books On The Dollar Menu

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing an author in so much angst to get readers, they price all their work for 99 cents.  All of it.  Or they price it for way below market value. 

I cannot stress this enough so please pay attention.

If you don’t put value in your own work, what do you think will happen? 

That one day you’ll become a big time writer and the .99 crowd will suddenly start paying retail?  No. It doesn’t work that way. 

If you want someone to take you seriously? Get paid what you’re worth.

You know your work is good.  Set the standard. 

Unless your serving 1 billion, stop putting your book on the dollar menu.

What’s in that dollar menu?  Gourmet burgers?  Gordon Ramsey chicken nuggets?  No! It’s over processed, beef (so we hope) filled with crap!  Is that what’s between your pages?  If so, by all means!  Sell it for a buck. 

But once you start getting better and your work is worthy, slap that price tag on and have no regrets.  Not one single doubt that your work is worth something.

So many authors fall into the trap of Facebook fandom. You got 2k followers?  Awesome. How engaged are all 2k of them? Are you seeing $2000 a month on New Release day? 

Stop. Just stop it.

A reader will pay for a good book.  A real reader will be happy to pay full price for a well edited, good story.  Oh, and while I’m ranting, a good reader will not refund the book after reading it.

That’s for you Mr. or Mrs. I-read-the-entire-book-and-refunded-it.  You just committed theft.  And it’s disgusting that Amazon allows this to go on. 

Pick your head up, author.  You are worth it but no one will believe that until you do. 

Authors and the Readers: The Bond

Authors have a very personal relationship with readers. It’s intimate in the way a love song can produce children whoare conceived to a verse drifting in and out between a couple lulled into a moment bursting with romance (okay-okay, usually angst filled and passionate). It can bring a person to rock bottom, or bring them higher than the clouds. Same with writing, and the person behind the ink.  Their words can change a life, invoke a movement, inspire, and at the same time they can reach a silent piece of your soul the reader thought no one could ever find. 

For those reasons alone, readers feel a connection and cling to this invisible bond. So why is it that many “big” authors are so elusive? 

I can think of a few reasons.  Writers are introverted a lot of the times.  Socially awkward. Have the luxury of anonymity. Our they’ve been scared emotionally by a scene where, in Stephen King’s novel MISERY, the author is kidnapped, tortured, and forced to write a story the way a fan insists it should be written.  I admit the last reason is pretty compelling. 

However, indie authors have no other way to gain support unless they have a large sum of money to advertise. They do author take overs, they do guest blogs, they run their own author pages, etc.

You may think I’m complaining but actually I’m excited about this.  I mean if the Queen of the Vampires, Anne Rice,  can be on her own Facebook page engaging loving fans then I see no reason that every author cannot, or will not, do the same.

If you’re in bed with your reader, (doesn’t everyone read in bed? ) you can at least chat with them when they come in contact with you.  In this digital age of accessibility, anyone not establishing a bond with a fan/reader is missing an opportunity. Not only to create loyalty…but in creating friendship and a source of support.

Gone are the days of being aloof, and elusive. Here are the days of being genuine and inviting.  Get to know your readers. They are your primary investors,  and occupy chairs on your board.  If you lose your readers, you might as well hang up your quill.

Dress for the job you want

It’s a saying used in the corporate world, “Dress for the job you want”. But I think this is the dividing line between successful people, and not-so-successful people. Apply this saying to everything you do and you’ll reap the benefits.

When you write, don’t write just to keep pumping out content. Write as if you’re writing the next book of a generation. Because you are. Ten years from now, twenty years from now, someone will stumble upon your book. They will judge it’s readers and you by its content. How do you want to be judged?

I have always loved being unique. I dig deep and try to stretch the  “box” until it’s an octagon. In my head I circle the idea like a wolf on a hunt. I want it broken down,  surrendered, and belly up to my whim when I finally come in for the claim.

People that know me often think my ideas are all off the cuff, and some are! But most of the time, I’m not talking until I have an entire plan laid out.

This trickles into my personal life too.  My best friend and I will have a conversation about something bothering her and we’ll hang up. Maybe three days later I’ll mention something regarding the situation because my brain works things out, sorting details until it eliminates the BS from the genuine. I wake up with decisions I’ve made when I’m asleep because I’ve mulled it over through the night while dreaming. 

Dreams are where the best ideas for writing come, especially for creatives whose brains never stop pulling from the world around them. Put them in a world with no boundaries, like a dream world, and you’ll never be disappointed.

So why do all this amazing stuff the injustice of haphazard results fueled on anxiety to slap it on a site to sell? So much time,  so much blood from the quill, and it’s squandered away to the abyss of imperfection. Put your effort on like a suit and wear it with pride and confidence. You never know who your book will meet that day.

Horror Writers Association Houston Texas

Hey everyone! I’ve got all the information and I’m looking for other HWA members to start our own chapter (approved of course). Please let me know if you’re interested! All I need is five people with an interest .. Or more, of curse!