Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: indie publishing (page 1 of 2)

Post Con Collapse

Two Conventions in less than 10 days. That’s what I did last week, folks. June 17-19 I attended Denver Comic Con (awwwweesome!) and then June 22-26, I flew off to Nashville for UtopiaCon 2016. Another awwwweesome.

While not everyone who reads this is an author, I wanted to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from these hectic ten days.

1. Plan in advance, and actually DO the things on your to-do list. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. If you have to fly to a convention, make sure you have the right luggage to get your books, marketing materials and display items to the venue. Otherwise, you’ll end up scrambling for appropriate luggage and sweating over the weight limits.

You really don’t want to know how I know this.

2. Find the balance between taking too much, and not enough. It’s not easy – but talk to people who have done the event before. Look on Facebook. Is there a group for the people going? I was fortunate to find a group dedicated to authors heading to UtopiaCon. I didn’t really need to ask questions because so many other people did it before I even thought of any. But I did read the discussions and follow them, and it helped me tremendously in deciding what I needed to bring with me. When you have to travel to the venue, the logistics of what and how much to bring are paramount.

3. It’s okay to sell out of a product. I sold out of HEART OF THE GOBLIN KING, and I took orders for it. I added a small fee for shipping, and boom! Done! So bring the amount of product that works without hurting you logistically (thank goodness for Southwest and their two bag allowance!). You can still sell and be successful if you have overwhelming demand beyond how much product you have in hand that day.

4. Prep your display before you show up for the event. I hadn’t done any conventions as an author, and nothing on the scale of either of the two I attended. So I researched table set up, and made notes about what has worked for other creative people who are selling at these events. You know what? It worked. I found a great blog that broke down how people decide you’re not the artistic equivalent of a used car salesman. Set up your table beforehand and look at it as dispassionately as you can. Does it appeal? Is it cluttered? (Side note: Give yourself time to set up at the venue and eyeball your table as well. De-clutter. Make everything visually appealing. If you’re not sure, bring a friend for set up to help you look at your display objectively.)

It worked. BUT – and this is a big but – it’s work. You cannot spend the time and money that working conventions takes without committing yourself to hard work. Comic Con started on June 17, and I was home and done by June 27 with both cons, and I am EXHAUSTED. Be prepared for that. Have help so you can get something to eat and drink, and the ability to go to the bathroom. These things matter as much as anything else you do, people!

5. Come up with a one line description for your work. People are moving by. They don’t want to stop and hear the entire 5 page synopsis. Make it quick, intriguing, and snappy. What would interest you as a potential reader? That’s how I developed my descriptions.

6. Don’t hard sell. People don’t mind being sold, in my opinion, if you lead them to it logically, and without a baseball bat. No one likes the used car salesman. Don’t be that guy for your book. People will nod, take your swag, and scurry away, sorry they made eye contact. That’s not the kind of impression you want to leave with them. Practice how you’re going to talk to people. This is important if you’re not really a people person. Let’s face it, writing/creating is a solitary profession. So if you’re not comfy with it, stand in front of a mirror and practice.

That leads to my final takeaway-

7. Always put yourself in the place of your audience.

I’m a reader. Most authors are readers as well. It’s part of why we write – we want to transport others as we ourselves have been transported. So what would work for you, as a reader? What sort of table display at a convention would draw you in? What kind of chat from the author would inspire you to take a chance on an author you aren’t familiar with?

What would turn you away? Think about what sort of message you like to see from those selling a product, and what works and doesn’t work for you, as the audience.

I find that if I think of my audience at all times, I tend to do things that they like. Because they’re things that I, as a reader and a fangirl of various fandoms, like.

You do all these things, and you’re probably going to have a pretty fantastic time. No voice at the end of it, but who cares? You had fun losing it!

Denver Comic Con 2015 Deets!

StandupAdLMM1DCC2016 is here! I’m really excited, because I have a lot of fun planned for this coming weekend. (See the standup in this post? You could be here, with Brennan, all posable-like, canoodling….)

ScreenshotDCC

WORK! I mean to say, WORK! No fun! No fun will be had at ALL!

So, I’ll be at a booth all weekend, signing copies of Three Wishes and Heart Of The Goblin King! Both of which are making their print debut at DCC2016! You can find me in Booth AA11, and this really lovely interactive SITE will help you to find the booth!

When I’m not in my booth, this is my schedule:
(Also found HERE)

I hope to see you all this weekend! Come out and see a really amazing Con!

SPEAKER AT SESSIONS
Revisiting Neverland – YA Lit, Fairy Tales, and Gender Roles
Jun 17, 11:45am – 12:35pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors
Lisa Manifold
Jun 18, 11:00am – 12:00pm MDT
Author’s Alley AA20
Self-Publishing: Is It For You?
Jun 18, 1:30pm – 2:20pm MDT
Room 502/503 – Literary / Authors
Fan Fiction – The Real Extended Universe
Jun 18, 6:00pm – 6:50pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors

Holy Joseph, It’s A Newsletter!

For 2016, one of my writing goals was to get my Newsletter in order, and send it out. I have a nice mailing list. I put some work into it in 2015, and it’s respectable. If you’re on it, THANK YOU! If you’re NOT – well, I’ll make it easy.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1NE9IiJ

While I am a lover of the technology, it usually takes me some time to figure out how to use it all. A mailing list and what you’re supposed to do with it is no different. It’s taken me longer than I thought because I’ve been slowly working out my organization on how to work effectively at home.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, I have my Newsletter done. It’s good. I like it. If I got it, I wouldn’t roll my eyes. I’d open it. We’ll see how it does.

But I’m pleased, and I’ll tell you, if you’re just starting out, try MailChimp. There are other services out there, but this one is not overly difficult, and it’s free, initially. Once you hit a certain number of subscribers, it becomes a paid service, which is appropriate. The service walks you through each step, one at a time.

I had a couple of steps I needed to complete before I sent it out. I’m waiting on the last one now. But the rest is done! Once I get this last bit from the third party, I’m ready to roll!

I’m excited.

With that, I’m off. I’d love, however, to hear how some of you have managed your mailing list. Have you used MailChimp? If so, do you like it? If not, what are you using?

Cheers!

2016, and Looking Back on 2015

It’s the last ten days of the year as of today. That sounds so final. I’ve been busy with all the things I need to have done with the holidays approaching, and haven’t been as good on sticking to my desired schedule. However, I have been looking over what I’ve accomplished this year, and then to what I want to get done next year.

It doesn’t hurt that I did a podcast with a fellow RMFW member today and we talked about it.

So here’s my Year In Review

3 Novels
1 Novella
1 Serial novel, in six parts, which equals a novel

One of my novels, and two parts of the serial are in a box set, which I’ve found helpful. I love working with other authors.

It doesn’t look like as much as I’d like. I have another novel that I am working through, but there’s a lot of stopping and starting, because I haven’t found the groove I want for it yet. Lordamercy, I wish it would come on and hurry up! I’m waiting!

But all in all, I’m pretty pleased with my output.

So what have I learned this year? Well, marketing is something you need to be doing research on regularly. I don’t think that you have to change your plans with each new technique, but I do think you need to be aware of the ways other authors are doing well, and what’s been a struggle for them. Not that everyone will find success the same way. I’ve learned a lot, however, from reading what has and has not worked for others.

My marketing this year was rather hit or miss. I have been on a strict budget, most of which has gone to my cover art. I plan to have a somewhat bigger budget next year, so that I can work on my marketing plan all year.

I’m going to keep my books in Select, and my pen name is wide. I like being able to see the differences.

I’m shifting genres next year. I have a trilogy planned, and then a five book series, and all of them are paranormal romance. I love reading and writing it, so that’s my focus for the next year.

I’m going to change the spacing of publication. I’ve read a number of blogs and articles on this, and I think I’m going to release them closer together. So that means writing ahead. I’d like to be FAR ahead, but I’m not there yet. I think I need to be, though. We’ll see.

Once I get Catrin’s Grimoire published, I feel good that I’m finishing the story arc in a satisfying place. That feels good – all the things I introduced in Thea’s Tale will be tied into a fairly neat bow.

What have I learned? You have to know your genre, and you have to study what genre your work fits into. Then, you need to study your genre tropes, and follow them! You’re not being original or awesome by flouting them. There are exceptions to every rule, but I believe more in the idea that people read in a certain genre because they know and enjoy the expectations of the genre. It’s your job to give them a rewarding and interesting read that meets their expectations. Within reason. We all know you can’t make everyone happy.

I like shorts. I didn’t think that I did, but I wrote the serial novel, and then my last novel for the year was around 60,000 words. I also enjoyed writing the novella. Learning this was a news flash to me. I like reading longer novels, but in reading a number of shorter novels to see how others were structuring their work, I found that I enjoyed the quicker read.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? LOL

So you have my year in a nutshell, and the basic premise for my 2016. What are your goals? What do you want to do next year? I’m going to play with my marketing more, and see what happens. I’m going to have more fun with my writing. It’s not any easier than when I put out my first work, but I’m learning more that allows me to enjoy it to a greater degree.

Which is awesome.

dr__doofenshmirtz_and_perry_dance__animated__by_jaycasey-d5cr4ua

My wish for all of you in the immediate future is for a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate, and a fantastic New Year! Be safe!

And when in doubt, go skiing.

ostrich-skiing

Back from the dead

Well, good grief.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. WTH? I was being better than that. Well, here I am, back and repentant. It’s been a busy week. In all honesty, I look at how I scheduled life before I stopped working outside the home, and wonder how did I get anything done?

Enough whining. Tonight, I want to talk about why you publish, and how to make the decision. In order to get there, you’re going to have to go back to 2013 with me.

face-palm

Settle in. This is a long one.

I had just joined RMFW. Gone to the Conference. Pitched my first agent, and gotten a request for a partial.

I was On. Fire. Guuuurl, I was gonna land that agent (my Dream Agent, btw) and become an overnight success. Sent in my pages, and within a month, I’d heard back from the agent. Thanks, but no thanks. Nice note of rejection, but a rejection none-the-less.

So I joined Query Tracker, and started the round robin. I don’t know now how many rejections I have based on who I queried, but in early 2014 I sure as hell did. However, I was still confident that even without Dream Agent, it was Gonna Happen.

I was also in the midst of critique group change. The one I belonged to was not a good fit, and I landed in the Tuesday group I am still part of. The moderator of that group, with whom I am great friends with, and I were on the same journey. Finished book, doing edits, working on something new, and querying.

Then the moderator went to a conference, and came back all a-gog. She’d heard one of the biggies in the indie world speak. She laid out facts, contract specifics, and most importantly, money.

I’ll never forget the talk we had after that Tuesday meeting. It changed my life. Literally. I went and did some reading on the author she’d heard speak. It was Courtney Milan. If you haven’t read her thoughts on indie publishing, I recommend it. Then I did the Bad Thing. I put ‘indie publishing’ into the Google browser.

Er.Mah.Gawd.

The first person I found was Hugh Howey, the indie darling. I’d read his Wool trilogy without knowing he is an indie, but now I did all sorts of online stalking on his journey into publishing. I remember sitting at my netbook, and just having to lean back at the sheer overload from what I was reading. (I have to tell you all I met him at Dragon Con last year, and WOW. He’s really a nice person, and very passionate about self-determination in the publishing world, which I love. He also has an amazing blog @ wayfinder.com. Its worth reading, particularly, if you’re like me and in addition to being an indie writer are a passionate sailor. The boat envy I have….oy. Anyway)

Which led me down a rabbit hole, but I pulled back, and concentrated on my own work. I finally, FINALLY, put Novel #1 under my bed and stopped querying it. Focused on something new, because the way to get better is to write something else. Came up with an idea for a new series. (That is Sisters Of The Curse, in case you were curious. LOL) Worked all summer and fall last year on Thea’s Tale, and getting better at my craft. One thing my critique group taught me was that I needed work on my craft. I started reading craft books, going to classes, LISTENING to those who might know something more than me.

That’s important, boys and girls. There’s always someone who knows more than you. Go find them, when you have a question. LEARN. Good lord, you can google anything. I’ve learned the most random things from Google. There is no excuse.

And I finished Thea’s Tale. SO now…the thing was done. What then?

Revise, have beta reader read it, and revise some more. Then once more, and then – Get an editor. Don’t take just anyone. Interview them. I am lucky – I know my editor, and she’s not only a fantabulous editor, she’s part of my target audience. So she can tell me what doesn’t work for the audience I’m going for. Give the book to the editor, and leave it be until s/he sends it back. While you’re waiting, find a cover artist. I know there are people who say DIY, but I disagree. I think having someone who is a professional (even if you’re one) but is not emotionally invested in your book can give you a more balanced view of your cover. JMO, however, and you’re welcome to disagree.

Work with your artist. I pride myself on my ‘artistic eye’, but you know what? Every single idea I shot to my artist (see my earlier post about those two amazing ladies) looked like shit. Let’s not pull punches. My ideas looked like shit, when the ladies took my idea and did exactly what I wanted. So I started telling them what I wanted theme-wise, generally, and let them do their job. Guess what? You can see the beauty of what they came up with.

Then we come to the hard part. I did all of the above -and now I have this book waiting on a pre-order, and I don’t know what to do next. So off to Google I go. Because I have to dip my toe into the waters I fear the most in this process – the marketing waters.

Gack.

To me, marketing is the shark tank of my business. Who knows the best things to do? What will work for me? It worked for Author X, and this worked for Author Y, but Author Z does it this way – it’s enough to make you go crawl into bed and put the pillow over your head.

But, my dear reader, you cannot do that. Your book will fall to the floor, and wither and die. You must find a way to get your book out there, in front of readers.

My first suggestion, knowing now what I know? (Lordamercy, what a difference a year makes!)

  1. Write a series, and PLOT that business out! I’m telling you this as a lifelong pantser who is finally moving to big girl land and doing some plotting. Read Take Off Your Pants, by Libbie Hawker. Your world will change. Promise.
  2. Publish the first three in your series FAST. I’ve seen recs to wait and publish them all at the same time – I didn’t do that. I’ll have four out in a six month period, and I’m starting to see a bump from multiple books. At the start of 2016, I’m going to release in that ‘all at once’ method, and see how it works. LOL – I promise, you’ll hear about it. Whether you like it or not.
  3. Pick your social media – and be HONEST with yourself on what you’ll use – and use it. Post 80% of value content for those reading your stuff. That means NO PROMO – of you, or anyone else. I won’t lie – I have done more than 20% promo at times, and no more. I love talking self/indie publishing, so that, and the crap that interests me – that’s what you’re going to get. I also am on Twitter, and FB – but that’s it. I decided those three venues were the ones I wanted to invest in, and that’s all I’m doing.
  4. BE NICE. In my search for marketing, I have come across so much stuff about authors and other creative people not being nice online. Guys, if you’re here (and I don’t mean you, Mom) and reading this for some little bit of education, you want to be successful with your creativity. Negativity doesn’t sell, and in this day and age, it NEVAH goes away. EVAH. Even if you delete what you posted 2 minutes ago. I think you can disagree, even discuss passionately with people – but be respectful.
  5. Respect those who work with you. As I mentioned before, hire an editor. And a cover artist. Get some beta readers, or a critique group. Even if you don’t agree with them, respect them. They’re taking the time to help you improve your work. Hear what they have to say. No one says you have to agree. But listen. They might be right (see my earlier comments on my cover ideas ALL looking like shit. To the last idea, folks.)
  6. You’re a business now. Treat yourself like one. Get a coupon folder, and put ALL receipts in it. That’s the first step – to train yourself to not toss things. But get that little folder or you’ll just die with all the little bits of paper. I met an agent who said she took pics on her phone of the receipts – I think I’m going to train myself to switch to that. Makes it easier for record keeping and transition to Quick Books or the like. Read about taxes for the self-employed. Keep track of your mileage. Become a LLC. I haven’t done the last one yet, but that’s next on my list. Because this year, I have to add author stuff to the tax info. To say I’m nervous, even after years of being self-employed, is an understatement. I’m sure you’ll get a post tax filing post outta me.
  7. Engage with people. Now here I’m just meandering off into Lisa land. I have seen the little prawny bump in my sales. I’m not doing a lick of promo right now, mostly because I am working on three different WIPs, and I am reading and planning for a) the next promo push; b) all the things I have to do for some of my marketing; c) those three WIPs, and d) reading and compiling better ways to try and market. Seriously, that’s what I’ve been doing since mid-September. I’m also really involved with my writers organization, and I work with the self/indie published folks. Helping others. Sharing what I know. Seeing if I can help all of us market more – and I really and truly believe that is why I am seeing the sales bumps. Because I’m out there not promo-ing for me – but working with and for others. I’m engaged. It helps that I am working on a topic near and dear to my soapbox and heart. So find your passion outside of your work – and get to it. LOL – I know, easier said than done. What with all our free time, right?

I think that’s it for now. Look for more from me as I continue on this journey. I love indie publishing, and I love the path I’m on. I think it’s a path with room for everyone who wants to be on it.

When I first heard about self/indie publishing – it struck a chord in me that nothing about publishing had prior. Nothing. I can’t explain the feeling of wonder, of total amazeballs, that I could Do. This. Myself.

Sure, I’ll make mistakes. I won’t do a pre-order again unless I have hordes of fans emailing, and the damn thing is done, and just waiting on edits. But guess what? *I* get to do what I want. I get to try things, and have the choice of failing without worrying about whether my publisher will drop me. They may have some rather harsh language for me, sure. But that’s it. After the harsh language, we go back to the drawing board.

You need to consider what calls to you. I had this discussion at the Gold with another writer, and she is 110% in the traditional publishing camp. It’s where she feels good, where she feels called to be. I think that’s fantastic. I’ve said it before – this is a great time to be a writer. We have choices. We can be where we are because that’s where we want to be.

For me, that’s indie publishing.

If you have questions, feel free to ask. I’ll answer as best I can. I’m certainly no guru – but I know what I’ve done that works, and what hasn’t. I;m always happy to share.

Ahhh! Almost forgot. Go RIGHT. NOW. Start reading Kboards Writers Cafe. The amount of sharing of info on that will be mind blowing. And it will put you on the path.

The Evil Voice Within

We all have it. None of us want it. What do we do with it? (A little Buffet-inspired intro to start your read here.)

One of the things I’ve been chatting with other authors recently about is that dreaded Voice Within. Or as I call it, the Evil Voice Within. You know it. The one that takes your self-doubt, insecurity, worry, fear, whatever that go-to negative emotion is, and makes it a fire-breathing dragon.

A real, live dragon, who’s in a bad mood, snarky, and rampaging around in your head. dragon

I want to evict the %)^$@^&%, but he always finds his way back.

Why is that? We’re doing something amazing. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can write a book. Most of us can start, and get part way through, but finishing the thing? That’s a feat. I should know. My thumb drives are littered with sizable works that are not done. Writing it is only the first part of the whole thing.

Then, one must finish it. After it’s finished, you really need to read the thing again. For content. To see if it’s something you want to let out into the world. To see if you need to take your hacksaw and weed-wacker and do shaping and pruning. To see if you love it when you read it, or if you cringe. Hint: If you cringe, you don’t need to trash it. You may need to just leave it for a bit, and then come back and do some revising.

All along the way of the aforementioned journey, you have to listen to Mr. Snarky Dragon. Telling you all his stuff and nonsense, tossing in his one liners when you’re least expecting it.

So how to get around him? Everyone, no matter what you do, occasionally comes up against that dragon. I think authors have a particularly assy dragon, but I’m willing to admit possessing a bias.

Here’s how you do it. You ignore it. Tell it to )%$^#%^ off. Go read a good review. Go look at your latest craft book (folks, you need to be reading them. I am the worst about actually doing it, and now that I have, I am kicking myself for dragging my feet before).

Plan out your next marketing campaign. Then go and visit the social media of your author friends. Talk about their awesome cover, or let them know what you loved about their book. Discuss ways to market, talk about how to ramp up something for the holidays.

See where I’m going with this?

Own that you occasionally give Snark Dragon space in your head, and then move on. Know that you can and will be successful, and it will probably take some time. It’s also going to take work. Hard work. Sadly, I’ve yet to meet any authors who have that lovely cabana boy offering them grapes with nimble fingers and an adoring gaze. Or if they do have one, they’re being verrrrry low-key about the whole thing.

poolboy

We can all aspire to a pool boy, so to speak. We just need to get our minds around it.

But Lisa, you cry. I love me a good Ryan meme, but that’s a meme! I see no Ryan, nor any grapes! And certainly not peeled grapes.

Here’s what I do:

If I’m frustrated with a particular work, I walk away from it. I leave it to simmer on its own, and I go do something else. At this exact moment, I have a WIP I’m writing, another WIP I work on when I’m tired of WIP #1, and I am outlining a new series. So if I get caught up and stuck, I have something else to do. Not everyone can work on more than one project at a time, so if you can’t, get out of your chair, and go for a walk. Take the dog. Go look at nature. Hang out with your kids. If you feel you MUST be doing something, get a digital recorder, and talk out your story issues. Sounds silly, but it works. I also find if I’m stuck, a long shower helps. I think a lot in the shower. It’s relaxing.

If I find that my book sales are not where I want them, I go and look at what others in my genre are doing. Not to give SD ammo, but I want to see if they’re doing something I’m not, and ought to be. I am an avid reader of promo threads – forum threads where people write up their marketing plan for a set period of time, and then report on it. Reading the successes and challenges of others not only gives me ideas, but it reminds me I’m not alone on this journey. That’s important for us.

I said it earlier, but go read a craft book. I am a dedicated pantser. I don’t like to plot – or at least, I didn’t think I did. However, I’m reading a lot about increasing your output, and all the people I see who are doing it right, and creating success are doing so while using some pre-writing organization. So it’s worth considering, in my opinion. It can help you to get out of the corners we sometimes paint ourselves into.

Finally, I realize that no matter how much I love this career, I’m going to have some off days. That there are going to be times when it’s just going to be sucky. I am more thin-skinned than I ever realized, but putting myself out there as an author is forcing me to toughen up. To know that I am doing the best I can, that I don’t see this as a scheme, but as a long term career where I wish to put out commercial quality content for essentially the rest of my life. And that the one day where Snarky Dragon gets free range head space with me – it’s ONE DAY.

So kick your dragon back to his cave, and know that you’re on the right path. Even if it turns out not to be the right path in the long run – that’s the beauty of being a writer, and an indie writer in particular. We can change. We can shift focus. We can adapt.

And we will succeed.

Now go write.

Post Con – The Mondayest Tuesday

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So it’s the dreaded post Con. Blech. It’s always a let down. I love Dragon Con. I get to see friends I don’t see most of the year, and go to panels that are talks by actors I love, or meet authors I fangirl over, or craft panels that discuss various aspects of writing and the business therein. Such was the case this year. I hate to see it end. Plus, my costumes were kick-ass. More on that later.

My husband and kids are the sweetest. My husband said, It’s good to have you back, and both kids wanted to snuggle a little extra last night because they missed me. The feels, ya’ll.

On to business. One thing I noticed is that there is a divide still regarding self-publishing, and that makes me…verklempt. Self-publishing is a good thing for ALL. If you publish traditionally, you have options, and the freedom to look to other avenues if your publisher is not doing right by you. I know it’s not that easy, but it’s an option, and ten years ago, it wasn’t. Options are good things, regardless of whether or not you take them.

As an indie author, I was unhappy and annoyed to see the large swath of opinions re: self-publishing dependent upon the programming track I went to. I attended a panel on marketing via the Electronic Frontiers Forum, and it was excellent. Even though there were folks were working within the traditional system, they were happy for options. In the Writers’ Track, it didn’t seem to be the case. There was what seemed to me to be a more negative mindset about the indie publishing industry. I have, in the past, asked for more self-publishing focused panels, and I suppose this technically met the bill – but it sure didn’t stick to the premise of helping people understand their options.

Let me lay it out for you. The gatekeepers have shifted. It used to be if you wished to call yourself an author, you had to find someone to let you in. Now, you can walk yourself through the gate, and get to the garden on your own.

Do you need to be as professional as possible? Yes, indeed. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. If you are not seriously skilled at graphic design, hire a cover artist. Check the contracts with all these folks, and READ THEM. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to. One of discussions I saw that all participants felt passionately about was regarding cover art. Do you own the art, or do you merely license it? What rights does the artist, the creator, have in regards to further use of your cover? It’s something to consider. It’s taking IP and who owns what to a deeper level.

The thing about doing it yourself is that you do it ALL yourself. But to me, that’s the best thing about it. You do it all YOURSELF. See the difference there? I’m a closet control freak. I like to be in charge. Yes, I admit it. Of my work – I definitely want to be in charge. I want to make the calls for me. Will I screw up? Probably. We all do as we are learning.

The best part of Cons for me are meeting people like you. After one of the craft panels I went to, I was talking to one of the presenters, and they suggested we repair to the bar to continue the conversation. It was an amazing hour, talking craft, word count, genre, business, marketing, price – I am so very thankful that this person took the time from their schedule to help along someone who has lots of questions. That meeting alone left me with a professional high that hasn’t worn off yet.

We’re a solitary lot. We sit in front of our screens, and let the creativity flow from our head to the same screens. That’s awesome for your readers, but you need to get out from behind the screen, and talk to other people like you. Go hang out in a place where there are TONS of people who are just as nerdy and passionate as you are about stuff.

And for me, it solidified my thoughts on being an indie. Last year, I was at Con as someone who hadn’t yet published. This year, I have three books out. My perspective has changed slightly, from how I listen to what I’m hearing. But my thoughts on this path haven’t.

Why? Because I have looked at the options, talked to people on both sides of the options available, and still feel this is the best option for me. That’s the hard part – figuring out which is the best option for YOU. The more I explore, the more I feel this is it, and I’m where I ought to be.

If it weren’t for self-publishing, I wouldn’t have these options, and I can tell you I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I could be somewhere better, or worse. I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be here.

I just got the trade copies of all three of my books this week. Come back from Con, and books are waiting. It doesn’t get much better. I’m headed to the RMFW Gold Conference this weekend, and I’m really excited. That’s nothing but writers, and people at all stages of the business. The potential to meet and talk and learn is enormous. Explore other options, hear things that have worked for others and see if they might work for me.

There’s always something to be learned – and now, like I mentioned, we as authors have OPTIONS. Seek them out. See what resonates with you. Try out some of the options. You may fail, you may not. But you won’t know unless you explore – and having self-publishing as one of those options is a good thing.

That’s the takeaway I’d like to see – that sure, you can self-publish – but here are the pros and cons, and here are the pros and cons of publishing traditionally. Weigh them, and see what’s best for YOU. Not me, or anyone else. Once you hear that, weigh it. What can you live with? What do you think will be your struggles? For me, it’s solidifying a marketing plan, and time management. I’ve been trying to write this damn post all day and keep having distractions. *What? A squirrel??!! Quick! Let’s go – oh, look, fun FB post!*

It seems to be an either/or with some factions on both sides, and while I am passionate about my decision, it’s MY decision. There is no other option for me that will be the best. Having the ability to discover that and see what will work best for you is truly marvelous, and one of the things I feel makes this such a great time to choose to write as your career.

And now, in a totally unrelated subject, most of the costumes I wore this weekend. I need to snag one other pic because it’s my interpretation of Dean and Sam’s Impala, and who doesn’t love Baby?

Until then, I give you the Tardi Sisters and the 7th Doctor, me as Potassium in the Parade of Elements in the DC Parade, and my Battle of the Planets/G Force/Gatchaman Joe/Jason the Condor costume. (I love this costume beyond belief. I would call it George if it didn’t already have a name.)

Now get to work.

thedocntardis fabana sapfab

lisajason

Havin’ an adult beverage…

tumblr_m6wh7b2bV91rziwwco1_500 In March-ish, I laid out a schedule for myself. I had just left my job, and was looking to validate my decision (with the full support of Awesome Husband) to write full time. It was S-C-A-R-Y.

So off I went on my lists, and May, August, and November were set for the first three books in Sisters Of The Curse (it was at that point referred to as ToTT – Tales of The Twelve). I even had the names, although I will admit I played around with book titles a little, just to see if I liked something else better. I didn’t.

Here’s what I actually accomplished.
May – Thea’s Tale (Book One)
June – Three shorts in the Pen Name – approximately 30k words
August – One Night At The Ball (a SOTC novella)
Casimir’s Journey (Book Two – with Amazon now, out 8/31)
Part Four of the Pen Name series

And…uh…four newsletters for the writer’s org.

I am SOOO looking forward to September. I have a newsletter, as I always do. But other than some Pen Name thoughts – a new series, I’m thinking…we’ll see. New MC is in her infancy right now. I don’t have a ton scheduled.

Good thing – I have Dragon Con (WOOOOOOT!)

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And then the Gold Conference for RMFW.

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So September is a busy month. Almost as busy as the gifs in this post.

But I’m really pleased because I set a goal in a field that for me, up until this year, had been a hobby. I have all three of my works on Amazon right now, and there are people other than my mom who are getting them, and ENJOYING them. It’s nothing short of astounding, and incredibly humbling.

Today, I slept in after doing the morning-drop-off stuff, and I feel like a nearly new person. I’ve hit my deadlines, and I’m not in the weeds, for the most part.

It feels good, and today, on a Friday, that is something to celebrate.

So have an adult beverage, and put your feet up. For the night.

Let’s talk reviews

I bring this up because on writer’s forums, there’s always a post or two that is discussing reviews – how to deal with great ones, what to think of harsh ones, etc, etc. I generally feel that people are allowed to review as they please. I DO feel that if the review attacks the person, rather than the work – eh. That’s a little much. You’re not reviewing the person. You’re supposed to be reviewing the work or the product. I know that’s the focus for me when I write reviews.

We all have a stereotype of what we think of reviewers. The sort of image that is often presented is something like this:

reviewer

In reality, reviewers, because I am also someone who reviews books, are more like this:

giphy

People review because they feel strongly about something. Good or ill.

I got a critical review recently, and of course, like most people, I have to look. I was a little nervous, honestly.

Ya know what? It was totally fair. And the reviewer – well, critical reviewers should take note. This person pointed out what they didn’t care for about the book. What they felt went against the standards for the genre, and what their problems with the story were.

They also threw me a nice compliment, so that’s good.

I read it, and then read it again. And I did something that I never, ever thought I would do when reading someone not liking my baby. I shrugged. Why? Because the comments were fair, and I knew there might be readers who felt the way this reviewer did. I’m totally good with a critical review that is balanced. Since this is the first time I’ve faced such, I didn’t know what I’d think/do/how I’d react.

I will also tell you, I went and look at the way in which I categorized my story, and the reader was correct, I wasn’t hitting the standards for one of the categories. So I changed it. Because it was a legit comment.

So the lesson for today? If you are not at a point where you can stay away from reading reviews, make your shocked face and then read it again, with an open mind. You may find there is just as much to a critical review as there is to a positive, glowing review.

To me, it’s no different than when I sit in critique group and hear what didn’t work for my crit partners. It’s hard. It’s hard not to jump up and defend our babies. But not all work will resonate with all readers, and I am glad they took the time to offer a fair, balanced critical review.

I also need to shout out to the wonderful reader who reviewed my book on two sites, and then put it on her blog! Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! Again, another thoughtful, critical review from someone who obviously knows the genre and is a dedicated reader. I LOVED it.

Last piece of advice for my fellow authors – DO. NOT. ENGAGE. This is something that I also see discussed. Just don’t do it. Reviews are generally not for us, the creator. They are for fellow readers, to let them know what’s what. We are just fortunate enough to get to read them.

Oh! One last thing – thank you to ALL my reviewers who have not posted spoilers. I read reviews of books I’m considering, and I don’t like reading spoilers in the reviews. I’m always thankful to read a review of my work or anyone else’s that doesn’t throw out the plot surprises. Or, a nice warning at the beginning of the review.

So there’s my PSA for today. I like to share with you all as I move through this journey of becoming a FT author. Not there yet, but every day is one step further down the road.

Now go write!

Wha…where did June and July go????

Sooooo….here it is, end of July. I planned to to be SO much further along than I am now. Yes, I am still on schedule, and thank god, because I am sticking to my pub deadlines come hell or high water, but daaaaaang.

This is HARD.

I have the best two jobs in the world. Seriously. I get to stay at home with my kids. Not everyone does, and I can’t tell you how thrilled that I can. Our family has been fortunate that we’ve been able to do this, because my Beloved and I both believe that kids need a parent at home. It’s good for them. LOL – they may not think so when Mom’s always on them, and tells them daily that this is NOT a frat house, and I am NOT a maid – but it’s good for them.

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Nope. Much as I love this movie (SAP, my sister and I, can quote it on the fly to one another), this is not that house.No matter how hard they try.

And let’s not forget I have a tween. While my tween is a boy, so I’m not getting the hair flips of my past tossed back to me, I do get a lot of this:

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Well.

It’s not like either of my kiddos went begging for their attitudes. My dad just laughs into his drink when he sees this sort of thing. He can be heard muttering ‘Karma’ or something similar.

So that’s been my summer. Along with an amazing road trip that took us through the Southwest. You MUST go and see the Grand Canyon, and go to both the South and North Rims if you can. They’re very different.

Now that I am back into, sort of, some kind of schedule, I am slowly getting back to my pre-summer behavior. Wrote over 5,000 words yesterday. It felt good.

Both One Night At The Ball and Casimir’s Journey will be out shortly. Like, really shortly. Like, Holy Hell, is that the date shortly. My editor loves me.

OK. Back to the doc.

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