books, The Invisible Moth

Happy Bookiversary!

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So, I’ve never been very good at the self-promotion thing… One of the hardest parts, for me, about being an indie author is that you have to do most of your marketing and advertising yourself. To this day, I still get a little shy when people ask the age-old, “What do you write about?”

But apparently I’ve managed to explain it well enough in the past 2 years that people maintain an interest in my work. Yes, it’s really been 2 years (tomorrow!) since I officially released Masters and Beginners (Volume 1 in The Order of the Twelve Tribes) into the world!

To say I was nervous doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was so ready to become a published author…except deep down, I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone to actually read my book. What if they hated it?

It’s the chance you take. Blessedly, if anyone has a less than favorable view of my titles, I have yet to hear of it. And the praise and encouragement I’ve received has certainly helped in keeping my nose to the grindstone (because believe me, it is a grind to write, edit, format, submit, release, and promote all your own stuff).

But at the end of the day, I do get to admit that, yes, I wrote that.

And that feeling can still be exhilarating.

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Not to blow my own horn…hmm, okay, actually, yes…I’ve made it through the third book in my series (and one of these days the fourth shall finally appear as a finished product). And I managed to squeeze in a collection of short stories as well (and am currently working on a second montage, of flash fiction).

Despite the fact that writing itself is often a solitary act, creating a book is anything but. I owe so much gratitude (and will be shouting it for quite a while) to my cover designers, beta readers, reviewers, and overall writing tribe. To all of you who have helped make this venture worthwhile, thank you, thank you so much.

Here’s to the next two years of The Invisible Moth publishing!

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The Invisible Moth

#AmCurrently: Too Much Going On In March

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Does anybody else remember when March was a hopeful month, because we knew that, for the most part, winter was almost over?

This March, on the other hand, is making winter feel like it’s neverending.

There are too many things floating around my brain lately, and this made the idea of crafting a blog post rather intimidating. Trying to narrow it down to one topic just seemed…AAARGHHH. Anyway, that’s why, in the end, I decided to just cover it all right now.

Life:

For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll already be aware that life threw me some major curve balls in February, and I am working really hard at picking up the pieces from that. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, there’s too much I’m not sure about sharing details of at the moment, but suffice it to say that we had a major shake-up, and it has negatively affected our whole family, and the fight for correcting the wrongs we suffered is ongoing. I’m pretty worn out by all the ridiculousness, and lately it seems that there is no such thing as too much sleep. But my days are busy, and there’s always more to do, so the cycle continues. At least, for now. With any blessings, that will change very soon.

(By the way, although I’m not quite comfortable going into specifics in a blog post, please know that you can always reach out to me privately for an update. And for those of you who have been following these issues, I deeply, deeply appreciate your support and encouragement.)

Reading:

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I have no idea what I’m doing with my TBR right now! Originally, in early January, I made out my TBR for the year, and it was a combination of re-reads of books I had previously checked out from the library but finally bought this Christmas, selections for book clubs, and from my subscription-box-gifts-to-myself. Then…well, then I received some books as presents, so I’m trying to balance including those with these other items, and I broke my cardinal rule of TBR-ing by ordering something from the library that fit none of these categories.

Ahem. Pardon me.

What? I think I’m stress-reading.

So, in summary, I’m kind of throwing my TBR plans out the window. (Ooh, such a rebel!) But this is actually a very healthy approach, given the current climate of my existence. So, if there are any astounding new releases I miss this year, I’ll get around to them after I retire to a remote island protected by the cats from Warriors.

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Writing:

In spite of all of this other stuff (or maybe partly because of it), I am still writing when I can! (Honestly, there are times when it’s the best therapy.) In the interest of not adding more stress to my poor worn self, I won’t decide on concrete release dates for new work this year; I’ll just get there when I get there.

Presently, I am working on finishing up a collection of some old favorites and some new(er) short fiction (including the long-anticipated How To Be A Savage), Volume 4 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes, and the standalone to accompany the canon, Fire and Wind. I have exciting covers in progress, and a trusted editor lined up, and someone on tap to help with any digital versions I proceed to release in the near future, and everyone is being SO patient and encouraging, and I am SO grateful! We’ll get these titles off the ground eventually!

A Note on Sales:

In late April, I will officially celebrate 2 years since the publication of my debut novel! I still have some first editions of Masters and Beginners available, and from now until April 21st, they can be purchased for only $5! If this is of interest to you, please get in touch! I accept DMs on Twitter from names/screen names I recognize, and my email address is very simply daley.downing@gmail.com.

Miscellaneous:

The aforementioned too-serious-and-too-time-consuming-stuff has resulted in my brain and body nearly reaching capacity for just general things. So if there’s a review or invoice or correspondence regarding anyone in particular that I haven’t gotten to yet, I swear, it will occur. Also, daylight savings loves to toss a wrench in where it’s definitely not required, so my immediate concept of time has been shattered and will need a little mending.

If anybody wants to sign up for my newsletter, post something for my bookiversary, or join my street team for ARCs and such, please do so! Just email me.

And for those of you who are aware of the Go Fund Me page for White Fang, sharing that is important, even if you can’t make a donation. Also, I don’t want my whole life to become eclipsed by the bad stuff, so if you’d also like to support me instead as an author, please do share the new links to my re-releases of Masters and Beginners and Rulers and Mages!

In the meantime, I’ll be praying for an early spring, and that I don’t fall over and turn into a puddle of unfunctional goo. Here’s to that!

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The Invisible Moth

NEWS! And Lots Of It…

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Note: I borrowed all of these images from Deviant Art. These artists are truly amazing, give them recognition and love, go check out this website. 

Hello! Welcome to another edition of The Invisible Moth’s roundup of news, announcements, changes and updates! But this time, rather than just having to tell you what’s gone wrong with my plans for this quarter, I’ll be sharing some exciting changes to my author platform that shall be consistent, regardless of whether my publishing ideas get waylaid.

The other major choice I’ve made as far as my authoring goes is accepting that I cannot do it all on my own, and I’m going to have to ask for help. Thankfully, I have been embraced by a community of people who love to read, to write, and support indie efforts in what can be a daunting venture. So, here are the areas in which I am expanding and requesting a little help from my friends. (You get stuff in return, by the way!)

  • A series relaunch!
  • A newsletter!
  • A street team!
  • A big sale!

Point A: I am in the process of making some small tweaks (formatting-wise, not plot-wise, don’t worry, my faithful readers) to all of my books. Partly to prepare for the availability of digital versions! I will soon be re-releasing all my paperbacks on Barnes & Noble.com, and uploading e-versions for Nook. If you don’t have a Nook, don’t fret, as I also plan to get started on Book Funnel!

(If anyone has looked for my series on B&N lately and not found it, this is why. I have temporarily taken my titles off sale while I’m finishing this process. Don’t worry, they will be back up and available in the very near future. More on that in a minute.)

Here’s what I would need from anybody willing: My second bookiversary is in late April, and I’d reaaaaalllly appreciate some of you who have read and enjoyed my work to make mention of the event in a blog post or social media. There will be a contest and a giveaway and (God, grant me this) hopefully a new publishing declaration! So any assistance I’d stumble across in promoting my special day would entitle you to rewards such as first chance at ARCs and an automatic subscription to my newsletter!

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Point B: I’m starting a newsletter! It won’t be anything fancy, but it will be a monthly, more coherent round-up of what I’m working on, what’s currently ready to purchase, what to expect in the next few weeks, and showers of love for all of your support.

What do you need to do to sign up?: Simply send an email to daley.downing@gmail.com, with the word “subscribe” in the subject heading. Make sure to use the email you wish to receive the document links in. Easy peasy!

Point C: I’m acquiring a street team! These are my dedicated fans (*giggles, but seriously thanks you*) who are always up for reviewing ARCs, helping with promotions, and just generally being wonderful to this moth. (Anyone who becomes part of the street team gets put on the newsletter list right away, too!)

How to join this endeavor: Use the same email as above, but put “street team” as your subject, if you would, please.

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Point D: I still have a handful of first editions of Volume 1: Masters and Beginners that I’m looking to share with my lovelies. This is the Toby cover, and my true debut novel, with its formatting flaws and a handful of minor mistakes (that I quickly turned to my advantage in Volume 2). There is also a finite number of printings, so if you have yet to acquire your copy of this literal limited edition, now’s the time! It’s on sale for a very-bookworm-friendly $5 until mid-April as well!

How to complete this transaction: I have Paypal, and I will never share your shipping address with anyone except the post office. Just — as for everything else — use the email above, only putting “sale” as your subject.

(If you’re not in the USA and wish to get a Toby cover copy, drop me a line, and we’ll work something out!)

Another tidbit: If anyone is a Goodreads librarian, could you look into how to change the image on Masters and Beginners on GR? Although I’m no longer active on that site, my books remain there, and at the moment, the reviews for Volume 1 are split between the original and the new (Kyle’s beautiful) cover. If anybody knows of a way to streamline that, and have it all under the Shultz design (since that is what I’ll be exclusively using from now on), that’d be a big help, too.

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Thank you all, moths! Have a cat-tastic day!

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blogging, The Invisible Moth

2018 vs. 2019: Plans, Aspirations, and Realistic Expectations

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2018 was the year of setting the bar high, and continuing to jump. But a lot of the time, I didn’t hit the mark, or I got close and then slid down the wall. Yeah, I hit the wall by late summer, and I began to realize that changing priorities was probably in order.

2019 will, therefore, be the year of setting the bar low, and then being pleasantly surprised if I go further than my planned achievements.

In Writing:

2018: Release 3 books, build my own creative writing consulting business, get the rest of my outlines ready to draft

2019: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha. 

Let’s get one book completed, polished, beautified, and out into the wild. I’ve already selected which WIP it shall be. And I’m devoting myself to it utterly until the writing is finished. And then I’m sending it to an editor, because I’m in a super-critical mind frame when it comes to my own work these days, and a fresh set of non-overly-judgey eyes will do wonders for it.

I’m also not yet equipped to deal with the U.S. tax code or all the rules of having one’s own official business. Being a freelancer serves my current purposes much better. So I’m taking on the random consulting venture as I find it here and there, and I’m happy when I can help somebody.

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In Reading:

2018: Read at least 50 books (all new, no re-reads), review at least 80% of that, and only read authors/titles recommended by bloggers

2019: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HA!

This is not to say (not at all!) that bloggers’ opinions or recommendations don’t count or aren’t useful. They totally are. But here’s what happened to me too many times to keep track of: I tried a book based *solely* on the above criteria, and it flopped for me — HARD. I just didn’t like the style, or the content, or the cliches — or all of these things. For traditional publishing, especially in YA and fantasy, 2018 appeared to be the year of tropes and genres done to death — there was just so very little that truly excited or engaged me. And while I wanted to support my fellow indie authors more, I simply didn’t have the funds to do so.

But the frustration I faced slogging through recycled plots, unlikable characters, overblown, unnecessary melodrama, and inaccurate “historical” fiction overrode whatever my reasons were for making these selections.

So, in the next 12 months, I will be concentrating a lot more on re-reads I’ve been meaning to get to, new-to-me indie authors, and tried-and-true genres. This means I probably will “miss” a fair number of new releases that could, honestly, be very good. But I am beyond happy with this decision. The alternative is just not worth my agony.

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In Blogging:

2018: Blog about less topics, have a consistent posting schedule

2019: Blog about whatever the heck I want, whenever I have the time

Yes, this space is a major part of my author platform, and, yes, I need to be here at least somewhat regularly to maintain readership and keep up with my tribe. However, something I’ve discovered about your online tribe — they will be there, even when you haven’t been around lately. It’s just plain polite to let people know, if you can, that you won’t be posting as much as usual; but the people who are always supporting you continue to do so regardless of what’s going on in your life.

Also, there are too many topics I want to explore and discuss to limit myself, and bringing new subjects to your readers actually increases one’s reach, not the opposite. So expect a wide variety of discussions and thoughts here in the near future!

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Encouragement, The Invisible Moth

Year-End Wrap-Up (WHAT. Just, WHAT.)

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I could just as easily call this post, “Welcome To Your Weekly Dose of Cute,” as adorable animal pictures seem to soften the blow of just about anything. Including the stunning, harsh, cold realization that yet another year is coming to a close — and you have no idea where most of it went.

A while back, I announced that I was officially dispatching agents to discover who had stolen approximately 37% of 2018 — because I swear calendar pages never turn that fast by themselves. I’m guessing that those I sent out fell victim to this same curse or villain, as I have yet to hear back from them. Shame.

However, despite losing accumulated days and not being very happy about it, I did accomplish and learn things in 2018.

Important tidbit to remember:

I lost a fair amount of free time to being very unwell, especially in the winter and spring. After suffering with stomach and back pain for most of 2017, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis, which is a difficult and not-well-understood condition. So I can’t blame my lack of productivity in certain areas on anything other than legit being ill.

The only good thing about getting a diagnosis is that I can at least receive some sort of treatment, although I haven’t yet found a lot that concretely works. Predicting a flare-up is about impossible, so preventing one is a crapshoot, at best. So I can’t beat myself up for having times when I simply did not feel up to doing anything.

Major lesson worth sharing:

Comparing oneself to others, whether it’s in numbers of reviews, sales, publications, blog traffic, or anything else, is a sure, slow descent into madness. There is nothing wrong with the fact I only released one new title this year, or that I hit writer’s block on a couple of my planned WIPs, that I opted out of NaNoWriMo, or that I still cannot figure out how to stop Toby jumping up where he’s not supposed to. None of this means I am not successful or well-liked or appreciated.

Is it tough regardless that I didn’t meet some of my goals for this year? Yeah, it is. But I have also learned I am not the sum of my goals.

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Truths I had no idea even existed:

There are little things you can do online to make a bit of desperately needed cash. Such as taking surveys on advertising campaigns. Yup, it sounds hokey, but corporations will pay to hear your opinion. Not much (I gave this a whirl this fall, and in more than 2 months, I made less than $100). But is this a good (non-scam) option to know about when you’re broke? Sure.

There are also organizations that will give artists money to exhibit their work, teach a seminar, or share an artistic discipline with the community. You can enter contests, apply for grants, and sign up as an independent contractor with local non-profits that support the arts. Again, it isn’t guaranteed income, but it is absolutely worth going after.

Knowing when to let go:

One of the most difficult and most vital decisions I made to my author platform and my personal life this year was removing myself as a reviewer from Goodreads. My published titles — and all the reviews readers have kindly written of them — remain on that website, but I am no longer an active participant.

And it has revolutionized how I feel about reading — how quickly I finish new books, whether or not I review them, in fact whether I pick them up at all. Yesterday I checked two books out of the library that I’ve never heard of, that I may or may not return unread, and I don’t even careThe possibility of discovery, of not getting invested in liking a certain title that’s been hyped by social media, is more motivating than the fear of missing out, or even the excitement of stumbling on a new author. The joy of not giving a dang feels invaluable.

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It’s about who you’re with:

This year, I was not feeling the gear-up to the holiday season, anyway; then my Thanksgiving got thrown for a massive loop, and the short version is: it was terrible. Now I honestly have no requirements for Christmas, except that somebody remembers to buy Muffin toys (that’s already in the works), and that my family is all together. (And, thank God, that one should be taken care of as well.)

Hold on to the impossible dream:

Not being able to go to Realm Makers this summer was a real downer for me. I so wanted to be there to meet all these lovely people I’m in contact with through the year, whose support and encouragement of me as an author, a blogger, a person have been so constant and precious. But too many things made it not happen. Money, needing childcare, being nervous about flying, not being sure how my health would be in July. And I was sad.

But I should not, ever give up on trying to attend next year. Or the year after, or the year after that. A no once doesn’t automatically translate to a never.

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Know your limits and stick to them:

Setting unrealistic goals or even to-do lists don’t really make you feel better about yourself. Having 3 things to check off, and getting 2 checked, is pretty freaking amazing, let me tell you. No matter how much you think you need the status/prestige/money/whatever, before you take on that new project or possibility, take a few serious moments to evaluate your priorities, how they’d be affected, and if the outcome is really what lines up with your long-term plans.

And don’t let someone guilt-trip you into taking on too much. You will be a much more effective — and happy! — parent/employee/friend/family member by refusing to tackle it all.

So, that’s about it for me right now! I’ll be around on social media, but between now and New Year’s, I’m not sure if another formal post shall be forthcoming. My coveted spare time is being divided between family, the holidays, and writing. See you on the dark side of the moon, moths!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!

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blogging, The Invisible Moth

#AmCurrently: November Madness, Life Updates, and Other Announcements

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Well, hello! Yes, it’s been a bit since I graced this space, and I’ve been less present online in general lately. The reason is quite simple: I am busy, and the non-internet world is demanding my attention. And sometimes even when it is, I decline. Why? Well, it’s hardly that I don’t want to keep up with all of you on how things are for you and what’s going on in this realm. But, there are a lot of other things happening for me, which leads to my explanations. So, without further ado…

AmCurrently: Life

I am sticking to my guns not to participate in NaNo this year. Although I greatly miss the excitement and fervor building up to it and its start, and the spirit of comraderie that inevitably occurs as we all gather together to share our joys and struggles, I have to bow out this time. I am definitely cheering on everybody who’s going for it, and while I’m not there on the NaNo site, I see your updates and support them with a mighty bookdragon roar. But I will admit, it was a very tough decision to make.

So, why nail it down? My kids aren’t keeping me any more busy than usual, but I am trying to start a new branch of The Invisible Moth — a creative writing consulting business. This includes freelancing, and this means putting out a LOT of feelers, finding out who in self-publishing, trad pub, editing, and all sorts of writing might be hiring or consider hiring such an individual. This takes TIME and ENERGY, and I am secretly dead on the inside right now. Things are beginning to happen, but it’s so far a small and slow gestation, so I’d greatly appreciate any prayers you have to offer up on this venture!

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The other “real” life things coming after my spare time: A friend of mine ended up teaching dance classes that weren’t originally in her schedule this fall, and she needs help getting ready for the pre-Christmas performance.

Also, I’m joining another book club, started by my local library director, but run outside of the library, so that she can bring the love of reading more into the community, and she spotlights local authors as well — and she’s more than happy to spotlight me, so that’s a big plus in my favor.

And yesterday I attempted to bake November cakes! It turned out pretty well (I don’t bake, so please keep that in mind when I share the photos White Fang took on social media). It wasn’t a complete failure, so I count that as a total win!

AmCurrently: Reading

Due to needing a bulk of my days to be devoted to other tasks, I’m not planning on starting any new books until, most likely, after the holidays. This will be the season of the re-read. There are a few of my favorites (old and new) that I haven’t had a chance to re-read either yet or lately, so this is a perfect chance. Considering that my brainpower is focusing so strongly on stuff that isn’t absorbing brand new information from books or authors I’ve never encountered previously.

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AmCurrently: Fiction Writing

Two words: Paaaaaaaaaaaaainfully slow, and I apologize to anyone who’s really eager to get their hands on my forthcoming releases. 2019 has a lot in the pipeline, and it will all be thrilling and make your hearts explode and buy stock in Kleenex. You’re welcome.

In lieu of NaNo, my goal for November is to write as much as possible on the prequel and the Super Secret Project (more on that soon!). And I will be returning to How To Be A Savage (my hardworking beta readers are on that much needed critique as we speak!).

Volume 4 and 5 are a ways down the priority list. There’s plenty to keep you going in the meantime, I promise.

AmCurrently: Marketing

Remember, Volumes 1-3 (Masters and Beginners, Rulers and Mages, Healers and Warriors) and the short story/flash fiction collection (Dreamings and Muses) are all available via Barnes and Noble.com. (And I’m looking into getting e-books ready early next year!) These beautiful paperbacks (thanks again, Kyle!) make the perfect Christmas present for fans of my blog, Tweets, and Goodreads reviews. (Yes, that means you!)

And remember, I still have some autographed first edition copies of Masters and Beginners on sale for only $8! (That includes shipping! Can’t get a better deal than that!)

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Before I go, I wanted to make sure to let all of you who tirelessly visit my pages, like and promote and share, know that I am forever, ever grateful and thankful for your time, effort, and support. This venture of mine is hardly famous or well-funded or intensely popular, so requires a great deal of blood, sweat and tears on my part, and there are moments when I feel like throwing in the towel. Your praise and backing and ongoing encouragement remind me it is all worth it.

Have a great day, everyone. I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

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blogging, The Invisible Moth

Do You Have to Have a Theme for Blogging?

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I’ve touched on this in the past, but I’m thinking more and more about it lately. On the whole, I struggle with sticking to a layout that’s pretty rigid and too predictable; this may sound surprising to those of you who know I’m on the autism spectrum. But I, as an individual, get bored easily, and if things always stay exactly the same, never providing the opportunity for growth, then that rankles me.

To a point, it helps your reader base if they can more or less know what to expect when they return to your site. Humans are creatures of habit — even neurotypical ones — and they do like routine and not having their socks knocked off at every turn. And while I generally stick to the same bunch of topics, I know that setting those boundaries too strictly will eventually do me in.

Some pros of having a theme for your blog:

  • Readers who like to view recurring content and discussions won’t be disappointed.
  • There are memes, tags, and challenges to follow for many different categories and subjects, so you can find a lot of source material when you’re not sure what to post about.

Some cons:

  • It’s too easy to run out of ideas, tags, challenges, memes, or get bored with all of the above.
  • You can feel too fenced in or limited, and may purposefully avoid bringing up an important topic because it doesn’t fit in with your “typical fare”.
  • Posting to a tight schedule can become time-consuming and stressful.
  • All of this creates disenchantment with blogging itself, and you wonder why you started this in the first place.

Okay, I’m being a little dramatic.

Or, am I?

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I’ve only been blogging for 3 years, and in that short time, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, take a hiatus only to never return, or their posts grow more and more infrequent, and they’ll claim it’s just life, but the fact is, they’re enjoying the break from the unnecessary stress that can come from trying to develop and maintain a popular site.

Those who started blogging just for fun don’t really feel they’re missing out on much by quitting (especially when it isn’t fun anymore). But some of us are aiming to create a brand — like yours truly, since being a self-published author means doing all the marketing oneself — and keeping up this platform becomes important.

At least in some capacity. A lot of indie authors reach a point where we need to devote more time to actually writing, editing, formatting and designing, rather than the meme of the week. Though readers — who are bombarded with literally millions of options of titles/series/authors — will often respond more favorably to an indie author who has a medium where they share some personal details, offering a connection to the person behind the work, rather than the email address that endlessly spams you, “Buy my new book!”

Hence why I try to keep this space a combination of discussion, updates, and random thoughts, not simply newsletter-ish content.

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Especially when I don’t have anything significant to announce. Or, when it would all amount to, “I’m still struggling with the same WIP I complained about 6 weeks ago.” People get bogged down by that.

Plus, there’s more to me than being a writer. Yes, I hope to earn at least part of my living from book sales, and be known around the internet as an author first, blogger or Twitter persona or stay-at-home mom later. However, I do have a life away from my manuscripts — and that life helps fuel my inspirations, plots and characters, so it can still hold interest for my readers.

And not all of these things are books. Which is a major reason I’ve always been reluctant to classify myself as solely a “book blogger.”

When I first came to WordPress, I was really unsure what I wanted my niche to be, or if I even wanted to declare one. After several months, I realized that nailing down a few particular subjects to commonly converse about with others would aid my focus, and in building a base. (A base is a big deal if you’re undertaking a more expansive endeavor, like launching your author brand.)

So I turned to my reading habits and writing plans — and it did help. But now, it’s become complicated.

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As I mentioned above, posting about my writing, as opposed to seriously sitting down and writing, can begin to feel like a stall tactic. And that is not how I spend the majority of my life (even when I wish I could), because there are so many other aspects to my day.

Also, as I said, I tend to get bored easily. When something starts to seem stale, I itch to go after new stuff. This doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly abandon my plans for the rest of my fantasy series (don’t worry), but I will give up sticking to a schedule for reviews or announcements.

So, I guess from here on out, I’m declaring my blog a non-niche or theme-less one. Maybe it’ll be a little more difficult to explain what my blog’s “about”…or, will it be easier? I won’t have to worry that it doesn’t fit into a particular category or group. Realistically, I’ll reach more people by diversifying, not less. And I won’t start to become discouraged by what is, after all, my own platform.

Shaking it up can be good.

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