blogging, community, reading

Reviews Are Still Important

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Here’s a sad little suggestion going around the internet: Book blogging isn’t necessary anymore. Yes, a lot of book bloggers are getting burned out, because it’s time consuming, and not always rewarding, and can feel repetitive. Well, on World Book Day, here’s why I think taking the time and effort to create our reviews and put them on our blogs is still important.

We can present an unbiased account of a title to a weary, cash-strapped public in desperate need of something good to read. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little dramatic here. But heaven knows that I’m a lot more satisfied with my library selections since subscribing to book blogs and Goodreads. As a busy mom/work-from-home writer, I can totally affirm for the majority of book-lovers that our spare time and spare money is limited. So we’d really appreciate a heads-up if we’re about to drop precious coin and hours on a novel that will make us want to run away to Albania and become a goat-herder in despair.

Since we aren’t being paid for our opinions, we have no reason to sugarcoat what we didn’t like about a book, or encourage people to buy it if we honestly feel they’re better off choosing a different release.

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We’re helping to keep alive the art of literary analysis. Yes, I’m completely serious. Less and less in college and even high school are English classes teaching how to accurately analyze a piece of literature. More and more on Goodreads, I’m seeing low ratings posted by younger (teen) readers for literary-complex books, and their reason is simply: “I didn’t get it.” No, most people won’t go on to break down symbolism and allegory and archetype for a living. But it is a VITAL skill to possess. It encompasses problem solving, objective debate, understanding motivation, and learning from past failures.

We’re giving critical feedback to authors — especially indie authors. Indie authors are quite often people without creative writing degrees who are self-publishing purely for their love of the written word. A lot of us can benefit from receiving detailed reviews that point out what readers loved and what they thought could stand to improve. We don’t have big publishing companies throwing a ton of advertising at our work, so this can definitely make a difference in sales, as we can get a concrete idea of what our target audience is after.

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So, what makes or breaks a review? Not whether you give the book a positive or negative review. It’s the WHYS.

You need to be specific. You don’t have to go through the selection chapter by chapter (in fact, many people would rather you not do that), but you must explain why you did or didn’t like something.

A lot of it does come down to personal taste. Certain content and genre preference should not be considered gold standards for “good” or “bad.” It’s absolutely valid for “like” or “dislike.” But, please, please know the difference.

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Here’s what I look for when I read a review:

Adjectives. PLEASE stop just typing in, “This is soooo good!!!” and logging off. This tells me NOTHING. If you say, “This novel had a lot of clean humor that had me laughing out loud, flawed but relateable characters that I was cheering for, and an action-packed plot with a jawdropping resolution,” then I have a much better idea of what you think. And, by the way, I’m aware how “writer-y” the above example sounds. But I feel it’s important to develop a real craft to how you opine. Even if you never intend to have a career as an author/journalist/librarian, there’s an impactful difference between: “This book was stupid” and “The main character made a choice that put others in danger, and I thought that was a bad move.”

More than a rehashing of the blurb on the cover. I can find the synopsis of the plot aaaaanywhere. That doesn’t give me any insider information. Which is what I’m after as I peruse blogs and social media.

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I avoid haters. If you really, loathed the content, the style, the story, or everything of a book, this is actually fine. This is free speech in action. I’ve left a few scathing reviews myself, when I truly felt it was warranted. However, you’ll never catch me sending hate email or tweets to the author, or the reviewer, and I won’t track with those who do.

You must have read the book for yourself. Recently I learned that some people are leaving 1-star/5-star ratings for titles they’ve never laid eyes on simply because their friend/relative/minister/favorite celebrity claimed it was racist/prejudiced/inappropriate. No. …No. 

The same goes for folks who think that any fiction tackling tough topics (racism, war, suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, self-harm, addictions) is “bad” simply for discussing the hard stuff. NOPE. Not a valid reason to slam a publication.

 

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A final few words: Are all our reviews going to be totally awesome little articles of genius? Yeesh, no. I’m sure some of mine aren’t detailed enough, or may have used too much slang for a broader audience. Is this okay, too? Yeah. If I had a tough time getting my thoughts to coalesce on this or that book, well, I’m only human. And I can always go back to my Goodreads account and revise later.

Do remember that people are getting something out of your reviews. Keep it up.

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Autism, community, Encouragement

The Non-Fiction Future Additions to How To Be A Savage

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Recently, I did a couple of things. I asked Twitter if anyone would be interested in reading an inspired-by-real-life-but-definitely-not-autobiographical account on autism in blogging format or something. And then I asked whether it should be fiction or non-fiction. Like, facts about ASD and various treatments and such.

The polls indicated people would be extremely into reading a combination of both.

And I thought, “Oh, okay. That’s…err… Why did I set myself up for this??”

Then today, I stumbled on an autism blog share, and as I was reading some of these posts, I realized: There isn’t just a public interest in us sharing our life stories. There’s a need. 

It’s only been about 50 years since most children with low-functioning autism were officially diagnosed as minorly psychopathic, and generally locked up in institutions.

It’s only been 10 years since diseases like measles and rubella that were nearly eradicated have made a solid re-entry into the Western world, thanks to an epidemic of people not vaccinating their kids, based on one, non-scientific study claiming that the MMR vaccination causes autism.

It’s only been a few months since I saw a book in which the mother of an autistic teenager supported forced sterilization of her son has a 4-star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.

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And it was only today that I read an article from the New York Times reminding all of us — or informing us for the first time — that Dr. Asperger was in fact a Nazi who sanctioned the deaths in concentration camps of the very children he diagnosed. And we still put his name on the part of the spectrum he supposedly discovered.

Dear God in Heaven.

Adopting a cavalier attitude towards my privacy, I have henceforth decided thusly: When I come to compose my various Wattpad-age entries of How To Be A Savage into book format, I SHALL include factual stuff about diagnosis, treatment, the NTs-who-hate-us experiences, the dark side of our condition, all of it.

This feels daring. It feels scary. It feels like the right thing to do.

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For the longest time, we have been led to believe that anything outside of the norm is dangerous. Even when it isn’t. Even when it’s simply different.

We don’t need to be encouraged to fit into the world. The world’s pretty messed up, in case no one’s noticed. I’d so much rather stand out — and hopefully makes this crazy planet a better place.

I am so tired of being told we need to “overcome” our autism. Of hearing that we have a “disability.” Of being looked down on.

Who’s with me?

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blogging, community, writing

Spring Cleaning Writer Tag Challenge

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Good morning, everyone! So, I’ve been nominated to participate in this original tag, created by Deborah O’Carroll, and it’s a tag just for us writers!

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Rules:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Share the picture
3. Answer the questions (naturally…) or even pick and choose which ones you answer
3.5. Tag 3 other writers and inform them that you tagged them (via comment/message/email or hey, even carrier-pigeon or smoke signal; I’m not picky)

1. Dust-bunnies and Plot-bunnies: Reorganize Your Writing Goals (Or Make New Ones)

Most writers do start out the new year with specific goals in mind. As of early January, my plans for the next 12 months were to: finish Volume 3 and start on Volume 4, do some more work on the field guide, and plan out the prequel.

As of March 21st, here’s where I stand on all this: Volume 3 is almost ready for editing. But I’m going to take some time on that. My hope was to get it published sometime in April; hopefully that will still happen, but I am not pushing myself to make it occur no matter what. I want Volume 3 to be as good as it can be, and that means lessening my self-imposed deadline for its release.

Also, while I do hope to still finish the draft of Vol. 4 by the end of summer, since I have also promised White Fang we will work on our Super Secret Co-Project once the school year is over, I am being totally realistic about Vol. 4 not being available until the fall. Nothing like long-range goals, eh?

Also, the field guide and the prequel I’ll probably work on in fits and spurts, when the inspiration hits. There’s no rush right now on either of those (though I am excited to create both of them!).

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2. Which Stage Are You At? Expound!

a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

At the moment, I am in Painting The Walls In Colorful Hues with Volume 3, and very soon it will be Polishing The Windows And Putting Flowers In Vases. (I love the analogies, Deborah!)

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3. Treasure From the Back of the Closet (Share one to three snippets you love!)

“She’d only been 19 years old when a nervous, confused, mid-twenties Daniel Novak approached her…seeking a nanny for his newborn halfbreed child. …Lily quickly fell in love with the beautiful baby girl who had astounding violet eyes and could make objects float above her crib.”

“Mom! Can we go yet?! I haven’t played Minecraft in 36 Earth hours!”

“Avery had never learned to play solitaire… Hence, she was constructing a house of cards while she waited… And she was using magic to do so, meaning this deck of cards was rapidly coming to resemble a 3-story mansion with a balcony and an astronomy tower.”

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3.5. Bonus: Do Some Actual Spring Cleaning of Your Writer Self! (and share a picture!)

I shan’t be doing this part of the tag (since we are having technical difficulties around my house, and camera software is not easily accessible at present). But here are some tips from Deborah for those of you who wish to:

  • Organize your notebooks and papers if you’re a physical type of writer
  • Sort your computer files and tidy them up if you’re a digital sort
  • Do some real-life cleaning up of your desk or writing space or room in general, if you exist in the physical world at all (which I rather hope you do)  

     

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(Sorry I can’t prove it right now, but I do exist somewhere out here, I swear!)

Thanks so much for the fun tag, Deborah! Visit her at: https://deborahocarroll.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/original-tag-writerly-spring-cleaning-challenge/.

I’m tagging (and you most likely have already been tagged, but take pity on my poor overwraught genius brain): Kyle Robert Shultz, SM Metzler, Hannah Heath, and Aria E. Maher. Happy spring cleaning, writers!

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blogging, community, reading

How to Avoid Book Blogger Burnout

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Book blogger burnout is a very real thing.

It seems almost like a silly, made-up syndrome, because you can’t qualify it with physical symptoms, or point to a tangible experience and say, “This was when my burnout hit.”

Also, we’re talking about reading, and how could that be stressful or traumatic, right?

Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times.

Just a few years ago, book blogging was an exciting new way to connect with others in your literary fandoms, and maybe even start establishing a name and reputation for yourself if your ultimate goal was to get paid to write book reviews.

It all sounds like fun. It should be. It’s a crying shame that too many bloggers in recent months are either going on an indefinite hiatus or shutting down their blogs entirely — because it is far from fun anymore for them.

I can certainly understand if life gets to be too much — maybe you’ve just changed jobs, moved house, gotten married, had a baby, gone on vacation, been ill. When a member of the community announces they’re taking a break, we know we’ll miss them, but we also support their need to take care of themselves.

But when somebody says they’re leaving the scene because they’ve simply been treated badly by random other bloggers, reviewers, and sometimes even authors, that just isn’t right.

So, here are some thoughts on how to avoided the dreaded burnout.

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Don’t put too much on your plate. Set limits about how much you plan to read/review in a month. There is no reason to aim for the moon.

Also don’t worry about setting a new world record when it comes to your general TBR. Yes, absolutely, make a note of a book you think you’d really like to read. But don’t you dare fall into that trap of Feeling Left Out if you know a hyped new release just won’t be your thing.

Oh, and put up boundaries for requesting ARCs — and stick to them. The less reviews you have to write with an actual deadline, the better for your stress level.

Take a relaxed attitude towards criticism. Yes, some of these really nasty arguments in the comments section can be upsetting. And I’m not saying this behavior (the people who rip your head off because you posted a negative but respectful post on one of their favorite titles) is acceptable or should be tolerated. But it is VERY important for those of us on the receiving end to form a measured, mature, appropriate response. Remember, you have every right to block people from your site, not reply to their comments, and refuse to be dragged into this ridiculousness.

This goes for indie authors who are also book bloggers as well. Yes, getting a harsh review of your book is gutting. But it is freedom of speech, and if you feel everyone should have it, doesn’t that include the people who don’t share your opinion on subjective things, like reading material?

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Shake up your TBR a little. If you feel a “reading slump” coming on, try switching genres, category (say, non-fiction instead of fiction), or age group (adult over YA, or MG instead of adult).

And don’t impose unrealistic deadlines for finishing selections. If, for example, Christmas is right around the corner, and you know you’re going to be busy, throw time frames out the window.

No matter how many subscribers you have, no matter how many people you think might be pacing their kitchen floor awaiting your next post, NOTHING is worth putting your own sanity or health at risk.

To heck with the idea of trying to read all the books of ever. Yup, that’s right — I promise you WILL survive if you don’t get to read every single title published in your favorite genre or by your favorite authors.

This goes back to limiting your TBR, too — there is nothing wrong with only adding to it books you really think you’ll enjoy. Forcing yourself to finish hyped titles that contain all the content/tropes/agendas you’re hoping to avoid creates nothing but frustration.

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Don’t feel pressured to join every social media site in the world. In theory, your blog/website will get more traffic with greater exposure. But what about those of us that don’t take enough photos to have an Instagram account, hate the idea of appearing on camera for YouTube, and don’t understand the way Tumblr works? Remain true to what’s most effective for you.

Above all, have fun.

What do you think, fellow bookdragons? Are we putting ourselves under too much pressure? How can we support each other and keep the climate of this community a positive one?

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community, The Invisible Moth, writing

January Recap/February Announcements/March Look-Ahead

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Hello! Yes, I am tremendously late to the idea of a January recap! Fight me! After I explain a few things, it will be clear why…

My January quickly disintegrated from a boldly burning flame of ambition to the ashes of having gotten sick again, and my family being hit by various bugs as well. Luckily, no one was really horribly ill (well, except for me), but it meant that my plans for the month got pushed significantly back.

In lieu of all this, here’s why my recap for writing in January is:

I had planned to finish the first draft of Volume 3, but am only on Chapter 4. I refuse to guilt trip myself over this, considering that for a while there even standing up felt like exerting too much energy. As much as I would love to have the next installment of The Order of the Twelve Tribes published by spring, I am not going to rush the process. It gets done when it gets done. Please be patient, my faithful fans.

I did more work on the field guide, although that isn’t supposed to be released until after Volume 4, because I really needed something easier to write in snippets, rather than carrying on a big canon plot. The field guide is a combination of short stories that can stand alone or are part of prequel information, so I can tackle some of those without needing to worry about plot holes with Volumes 1-4. That really helped me accomplish something and not work my brain too hard while I was still recovering.

So that I’m not attempting to finish too much at once, I’ve put my project for “How To Be A Savage” on the shelf until further notice. My apologies to those of you who are really excited to read my take on autistic superheroes. It just wasn’t coming together the way I wanted it to, and adding a 3rd WIP to my plate this year was making me too stressed.

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All this does mean I am behind on Volume 3. (No working title yet.) It’s part of why I asked for volunteers to provide me with interviews or guest posts, so that I can keep this blog going for the next few weeks and still have plenty of time for fiction writing. Therefore, if you see more posts from other people than me through February, this is why. Never fear, though, I have received some great posts from some great volunteers, and I am very grateful to them for their help and efforts.

The other major thing I am working on is prepping the spinoff from The Order’s world featuring a collaborative character/plot line I’m creating with White Fang. (Don’t expect to see that until the end of 2018, or even 2019, by the way.) But also, while you’re waiting for How To Be A Savage, maybe you can encourage the Wattpad story White Fang would like to begin on a similar premise. (His would be about high school students with special powers, though.) And if you haven’t yet, and are into video games or zombie apocalypse stuff, please do visit his new blog: https://whitefang149277930.wordpress.com/author/whitefanghelperofgames/.

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Now, hopefully February will go more according to plan. (Did you hear that, God?) Okay, moving on to March…

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to do something for a couple of causes close to my heart. I have a cousin who lives (quite bravely and admirably) with Cystic Fibrosis; and my family runs a memorial fund for one of us who passed on after an accident. My thoughts on that subject are this:

On behalf of every person who places an order of one or more of my books between now and March 31st, I will set aside $1 to donate to either CF research or the Alicia Heath Memorial Fund (which supports causes like buying books for low-income schools).

This is a win-win for everybody; you get to enjoy some wonderful, fun, engaging, tear-inducing fiction, and donate to a worthy initiative.

(And of course you can just order my books because you’ve been wanting to read them, too.)

Hope winter is treating you all fairly, moths!

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community, self-publishing, writing

Interview: Indie Author Aria E. Maher

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Good morning, everyone! Today we have our first guest post, an interview with indie author Aria E. Maher! I’ll let her do the talking, and there will be links at the end of the questions so you can all go stalk, I mean, visit her afterwards!

Tell us a little about your published works.

Currently, I have two published books; a mystery/fantasy novella called Behind Her Mask was Death, and a standalone paranormal suspense novel called The Tangle, which was published just last year.

You’re a blogger, student, self-published author. How do you make all of this come together?

It can definitely be tough! When you’ve spent a lot of your day trying to focus on linear algebra and American history and all that stuff, sometimes you don’t have a ton of brainpower left over to actually work on other things. I’m always trying to push myself; trying to get up earlier or stay up later or work harder or focus more or not procrastinate so much when I might actually have time to work on stuff. It can be a little crazy sometimes, and sometimes I don’t end up meeting my deadlines, but the good thing about being an indie author is that you set the deadlines, and you can work at your own pace, which is amazing for me, because sometimes my own pace seems to be about as slow as molasses, as they say.

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What are your hopes for writing in 2018?

I would definitely like to finish and possibly publish at least one book this year. I am a notoriously slow first drafter, so it all depends on how long it takes me to finish the first draft. The book I’m working on right now is a prequel to Behind Her Mask was Death. I’m planning for it to be a full-length novel of at least 50,000 words, and currently I’m about half way there, which is quite exciting! I’m also trying to work a bit on my super-secret sci-fi project. I actually knocked off a few hundred words of the first draft the other day, which is amazing considering I haven’t even touched the thing in months!

Where did your inspiration to write come from? (Favorite books, movies, family support, etc.)

My favorite author of all time is N. D. Wilson. I love all of his books so much, and he is a huge inspiration to me always! I also love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which is where I got some of the inspiration for the world of Behind Her Mask was Death. My original inspiration to write, however, was actually video games! When I was a little kid, I loved writing and illustrating (terrible) fan fiction about Super Mario and Zelda and other games my dad and I would play. I think that I liked using other people’s characters and worlds because I thought making up my own would be way too hard! (In some ways, I might have been right…) I went on to write my own original ‘crazy stories’, as I called them, but I was writing fan fiction way before I even knew what fan fiction was, and was definitely the thing that got me into writing in the first place.

How else do you spend your time when you’re not writing, student-ing, or family-ing?

You will probably find me spiraling ever deeper into the hole that is YouTube. Some of my favorite types of YouTube videos to watch are gameplay videos (with humorous commentary, of course), science-y theory type videos (mostly the Game Theorists/Film Theorists), makeup tutorials (I find them very relaxing?) and those funny ‘storytime’ kind of videos, where the YouTuber tells about crazy things that happened to them.

Besides YouTube, I also like to draw, listen to audio books, and read (of course), and I love going outside, although the weather hasn’t really been the best for that recently…

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Are there any topics/themes you’re currently not writing about that you would like to, and why are you drawn to them?

As I said earlier, I do have a sci-fi project on the back burner. I keep getting tons of new ideas for topics I could cover in it, like automation and self-driving cars and government surveillance, but I haven’t actually written a lot about them yet! They’re still just ideas floating in the back of my mind, but they are all things I really want to write about. They’re pretty hot topics right now, but I’ve always kind of been drawn to the idea of some kind of interconnected hyperweb full of information, that people could use to spy on or manipulate others. That’s basically what my super-secret sci-fi project is all about, but I’m always adding new ideas that I could try exploring in it.

What are the parts of the writing process you find easiest, and hardest?

First drafting is extremely hard for me, which is kind of annoying because in order to actually rewrite or edit a book you have to have a first draft to start with!  I’m kind of envious of the people who can whack out 30,000 words in a day. It could take me anywhere from a month to half a year to write that much! As soon as I have a finished first draft I can usually sort the story out and edit it fairly quickly, but it’s getting that first draft that’s the hard part. My favorite part of the indie authoring process is actually doing the formatting for the books! I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true (as long as I don’t have to reformat the entire thing twice because of a stupid margin-width error! *cough, cough* this may or may not have happened with The Tangle *cough, cough*)

What can readers expect to see from you in the near future?

I actually have a finished novelette set in the world of Behind Her Mask was Death, which should hopefully be out sometime in February, if everything goes according to plan. Other than that, I’m not sure. Like I said, I’d really like to try to publish another book this year, but we’ll see what happens! I’m also hoping to do more movie and TV show reviews on my blog this year, as well as book recommendations and other cool stuff. I really enjoy blogging; I just need to sit down and think of some good topics and actually write them out every so often! 😛

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Aria E. Maher has been writing for almost her entire life. Her first real, honest-to-goodness book, a mystery/fantasy entitled Behind Her Mask was Death, was published in October, 2016.

Aria lives and works full time in her room, doing horrendously difficult math, learning a dead language, and voraciously reading everything she can get her hands on. She also works part time keeping small children from killing themselves on gym equipment. The Tangle is her second book, her first full length novel, and the first time she has ever been made slightly scared by something she wrote herself.

Behind Her Mask was Death on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2n8rhTp
The Tangle on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2BsUqgo
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community, self-publishing, writing

So, You Want to Be an Indie Author…

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You do? Huh, what’s wrong with you? Completely kidding. Total snark. Yes, come back here! Considering that I’ve successfully made it through my first year as a self-published author, I think a post with some advice for those hoping to enter this field is appropriate. And, really, you can approach me on Twitter or something, too, I swear I don’t bite. (Seriously, not ever, because I don’t like close physical contact with people I don’t know, and I am terrified of the zombie virus.)

First — welcome! Go, you! You’ll find we’re generally a very friendly community, and we support each other. Through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, you should be able to pretty quickly find some other authors who write/publish in your genre, and are more than willing to connect. (In fact, most of us don’t bite.) The readers’ base for indie works is growing, too, so reaching out to people who you hope to interest in reading (yes, even purchasing) your work one day is also important to networking and making new acquaintances.

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Next, here are my major tips for new self-publishers:

1. Do your research.

Not for social media connections or marketing platforms. Yes, do that, too. But in this instance, I’m talking specifically about your book. Is it fiction, or nonfiction? Which age group are you aiming it at (little kids, elementary school, teens, or adults)? What’s your setting (century, real or invented)? Whether you’re writing about real people or characters you made up yourself, you need to have the details of their lives right. Take into consideration slang of the era, the technology, religion, education level, industries, hobbies, cooking, fashion — all of it (even in a fantasy or sci-fi setting!) makes a BIG difference in whether your book really comes alive to readers.

2. Do the other kind of research.

For the marketing stuff. What’s your genre? Check out what other indies in that same genre have recently released. And do not compare yourselves to them. Do not even go there. Be looking for what readers said they liked — for example, do praise for worldbuilding and character growth seem to be major factors in garnering high-star reviews? Listen to them. Use this to your advantage. If an indie author has a big following (say, 5,000 people subscribe to their newsletter), check their site for anything they may have posted about how they developed their winning formula/strategy.

3. Don’t quit your day job.

Sorry, guys, but selling (realistically) a few dozen to a few hundred copies of your work a year won’t pay all the bills. A lot of self-published authors are also teachers, professors, librarians, college students, graphic designers, etc. (And if any of these occupations seem a bit cliche, hey, it happens to be the truth — most writers are people who have a good grasp of language, the entertainment culture, and creative endeavors.)

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4. Be informed of what trends, topics, and genres are currently hot in traditional publishing.

Not just so that you know what to avoid. Being informed is important so that you can decide what you want your own work to reflect. Are there particular tropes in your genre that you really want to turn inside out? Certain authors of the past (or present) that you’d like to pay homage to? Is there a movement or cultural discussion going on right now that you actually want to be part of? For example, as an autistic adult, I belong to a Twitter movement called #ActuallyAutistic, since too many of the books being published with “autism rep” are in fact authored by non-autism-affected individuals.

5. Time is not your friend.

It will not just hand over an extra 4 hours each day to you and you alone. Real life does not stop just because you are writing a book. Beating time into submission and making it your slave is vital. Carve out space in your schedule for writing, research, editing, proofreading, and marketing. Take plenty of breaks. On a daily basis, eat, sleep, exercise, be face-to-face with your family. An awesome perk of being an indie author is the ability to set your own deadlines.

6. Learn about creative writing.

There are many ways to do this. Read books by editors or successful writers (in this case, yes, I do mean lots of sales), watch podcasts, join a group at your local library or on Goodreads. This covers everything from flushing out characters to make them feel more real or writing dialogue that doesn’t read like a 1950s laundry detergent commercial, to tips on hosting giveaways of your new release and not spamming your Twitter feed with “buy my book or my dog will eat your comfy slippers.”

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7. Interact with your readers. 

After all, without them, whether you’re just posting on Wattpad or Tumblr, or you’re actually printing or releasing digital copies and hoping to get paid, you don’t have much going. Writing is meant to be read. So reply to their comments, thank them for their support, respond to their questions about your future plans for the series/next title.

8. Choose your platforms. 

This should probably come earlier in this list, actually. If social media seems terrifying, DON’T DO IT. Yes, it’s a big part of marketing, but you are not required to have an account on every single site under the sun. I limit myself to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I find Goodreads to be especially kind to indies, as they give your books all the stuff trad authors have — the ability for readers to star rate, review, interact with you, share with each other. And it’s free to join.

9. Carefully select your printer/distribution center. 

I tried to work with Amazon, and just creating an account for self-publishing made my head want to explode. I did not find their system helpful or not confusing. Plus I heard they weren’t paying indies as much as they really should be. So, to start with, I found a local printing press that does individually copyrighted books, and for a reasonable cost, they formatted, proofed, put together the cover design, and printed 100 copies of the first edition of Masters and Beginners. It got my baby out into the world, and I was very happy.

The reason I decided to switch to Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press was because the price of shipping all my orders myself became a bit rough on the wallet, and on the socially anxious part of me. (I was becoming slightly paranoid that the post office clerks rolled their eyes every time they saw me walk in the lobby.)

Barnes & Noble has been awesome in helping me through formatting or account concerns, I find their uploading/proofing software very simple to use, and they do the shipping for me.

10. Have fun. 

Writing is also meant to be fun for the writer. Yes, publishing is work. But if it ever becomes a hassle or feels like a struggle, take a step back and remember why you’re trying to craft those words. Recently, I read in a review of Rulers and Mages that the ending was “slightly evil and hurt my heart (in the best way)”. That’s why I do this, folks.

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