IAM15 Guest Post…My Writing Journey

IAM 2015 - Topper    My second post of the day as ‘guest author’ – I can’t talk about myself in the third person too much on this blog as it leads me to feeling slightly unhinged 🙂 Anyway, as a guest of myself, I thought I’d use my post this year to talk about my writing journey, like some of our other guests are doing. These are always some of my favourite posts to read because everyone has a different tale and experience to share. It has been quite a while since I last did a ‘writing journey’ post – around this time of year in 2012 to be exact – and so there was a lot for me to take in when I came to writing one this time.

(The two previous posts can be found on my author website [here] and on Ramblings of a Daydreamer blog [here], if you are interested in how my journey started).

The main difference between then and now is time (obviously!) and practice. Back in 2012, I was new to the whole promotion, Goodreads, blogging, social media cycle, side of things with writing and releasing a book. Before then, it had been me and a laptop, my scraps of paper and notebooks and my story – I was writing what I wanted, when and how I could manage it and more than anything, I was just writing stories for myself very occasionally sending them off to an agent or publisher, but not really thinking about publishing what I was doing.

When I got the time to finish the book in late 2011, was when self-publishing was starting to become a ‘thing’. I had my precious Kindle and had picked up some Indie books and when I saw what was being done, I just figured ‘why can’t I do that’? I was never organised enough for repeatedly ploughing through the Writers and Artists Yearbook, marking all the agents and publishers that might accept an approach for my book and then seeing it through to sending the required synopsis, excerpt manuscript, cover letter… I did it a few times for some children’s books I’d written and each time changed my approached or went away and did months of re-writes and adjustments when I got a response back. To say that the traditional process was slow, was an understatement: up to 12 weeks to wait for a reply each time you submitted, only submitting to one at a time (which is professional courtesy) and then whatever I did after that.

So, for Hope’s Daughter, I researched some companies and looked at how Amazon were doing things at the time. The formatting for submissions wasn’t as easy as it is today – now that they are well on top of their game – and so I went via BookBaby, who was also just getting started and did all the conversion to various formats, collected your royalties with removing commission and made it very easy to put the book out there. It was only after I’d released the book and I’d promoted to friends and family, I realised that I wasn’t about to set the Top Ten book charts on fire with such a small readership.

So, as with any new project, I went off to learn about how I could market my book. Early days I shared excerpts on sites like Scribd and then discovered Goodreads and reader blogs… Two things I had never even heard of before, but which have become central to how I look at the writing – reading – publishing triangle these days.

From here, I went into the promotion side of things wholeheartedly setting up the various accounts, starting my blogs, including this one, as I found myself enjoying engaging with other authors as much as readers. I also spent that much time on Goodreads I became a Mod for quite a large group, as well as trying to get reviews for Hope’s Daughter and some promotion via blogs. I also took up reading again, cramming a  huge 52 books into the year, alongside trying to write more and promote as well (did I mention I have a full time job?) all in the interest of networking with readers and bloggers.

2012 was a crazy merry-go-round if you like, one focused on all the new stuff I was learning about being an author. By the end of the year, I realised I’d done very little writing, just promotion of one book and ALOT of blogging about books. So, for 2o13 I set myself the target of completing book 2 and cut back on blogging and reviewing for others. I did the same in 2014 and have been trying to do the same this year, to get more writing time in, because if I don’t write any books, it doesn’t matter if I  can find people to read them 😉

It is hard to find the balance, although three and a bit years in to the indie publishing scene I think I am getting there. At the moment, I’m getting up earlier each day to squeeze in an hour of writing, editing or blogging, with the idea of little and often keeping things moving on. The drafting and editing side of things also gets easier as you become more practiced at it, so overall, I’m hoping to get more productive as I go along…well, that’s the plan anyway 🙂

IAM Feature…Being a ‘social’ Indie

Guest Feature

Event Feature

No guest author today, just lil oil’ me pondering the value of marketing and social networking for indie writers 🙂 Mel x

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The one thing most writers will agree on, is that you think the writing part is hard…until you release your book and then have to consider how you actually get people to read it! Even over the last couple of years since I released my first book Hope’s Daughter as an indie, I’ve seen the indie writer world change: Goodreads seems to have exploded with people coming to the e-book scene; people are getting more savvy with blog tours, book trailers, well-designed covers…oh and marketing…

No matter how you look at things, everything takes time. When you’re writing, you might give up reading, TV, friends, family…maybe even eating any food that you can’t do with just one hand…but there is an end in sight. Your book has a beginning, middle and end (unless it’s some strange contemporary thing that comes as loose pages in a box that your reader puts together themselves…sorry – I digress) – and when you come to the end of writing the book, edit it and then send it out for the world to see, that part is done.

What begins then is the (perhaps) endless task of promoting your book and getting people to read it. After a while, I imagine some books can gain some momentum and begin generating attention for themselves, but, until you have some reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and co. – until you have a few bloggers reading your book and featuring it on their sites, it can be a very tough nut to crack.

What is tough for any author, but more so for indies, is being your own promoter. If you’re spending time blogging about books or your writing, networking with readers and other authors through websites, blogs and twitbookpindiggit.com then the one thing you’re definitely not doing is writing. Take me for example, right now – the last few hours of free time I’ve had to get on with anything writing related have been spent popping up the guest features for the indie month, posting tweets about the event and now, writing this post. In economic terms, I suppose today, I’m electing to accept the opportunity cost of using my time to do this, rather than the spare hour to progress my ‘Faris’ story.

Does this stuff – Goodreads, blogging, social media – help you get more people reading your books?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Perhaps a person reading the blog today will say “Hey – I like the waffling style of this person, perhaps their books are equally odd,” then go off to check them out. Or perhaps, I’ll meet another book blogger on here, whose stuff I like reading, which gets me reading other books or thinking about my own writing in a different way, and then I’ll do something different than I might have done before. Sometimes you meet other lovely authors (Mister Talbot is in this group!) 🙂 who become book-buddies and indulge your crazy writing obsession more than ‘real world’ friends might. Plus, it can be worth it for the odd time a reader comes back to you and let’s you know how much they loved reading your book – the positive feedback can make all the time spent cruising the interweb, working out what to post and frittering away good writing time, worth it.

I suppose it all comes back to being about the writing – even if it feels at times like it is completely unconnected (and perhaps even unproductive). So – to help you guys out a little, I’ve shared below some links to interesting blog posts on how to improve your social media stuff as a writer, as well as one for if you want to avoid it altogether. Hopefully then, you’ll find something useful yourself from this blog post and it won’t have been a waste of your time reading it 😉

Links

Duolit SelfPub Team are one of my favourite writing / publishing tip blogs around – I’ve always found their features interesting, useful and real – check them out on Twitter @duolit or online at their site: http://selfpublishingteam.com “Shannon’s the author. Toni’s the geek. As Duolit, we love indie authors, self-publishing, book design, author branding and book marketing. Oh, and Mountain Dew!”

Author Jade Varden blogs on all things writing and has everything from grammar assistance to marketing and social media advice – take a look on Twitter @JadeVarden or her blog: jadevarden.blogspot.com With 24.5k followers on Twitter, she must know something! 

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Mel is currently working on book 3 of her indie sci-fi dystopian series, The Ambrosia Sequence, as well as dabbling with a couple of old ideas for children’s books. She launched Aside from Writing in 2012 and blogs here and at her author blog regularly.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog: http://www.melcj.com

Twitter: @melabupa

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

 Today we have a post from one of the regular Aside From Writing blog authors, Mel Cusick-Jones. Today she tells us what she loves about writing as an indie and why she self-published in the first place.

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I’d written for a long time before I published Hope’s Daughter, and even though I had worked on the novel for over two years (part-time around work and the rest of my life!) and taken it through numerous revisions and read-throughs with friends there are basic elements I would change now, especially with an extra 18months of reviews and feedback to take into account. But that’s the best part about reviews, and was the main reason I published the book in the first place…I wanted to know what other people thought of my story.

What I should say is that publishing isn’t what it was once… you can self-publish easily and relatively cheaply (promotion is tough though) where that was not really an option before ebooks came onto the scene.

I published Hope’s Daughter myself because:

I’m really impatient and didn’t do well with the traditional agent/publishing route. What I’d do is get a piece ready, send it away, wait X months and when it came back as a negative would begin something completely different thinking “well if they didn’t like this, maybe they like this” (hence I’d done several books before Hope’s Daughter). I think I’d sent one proposal to three places and Hope’s Daughter to one, before I decided to go the indie route – and that took me five years because of what I did in between.

A friend of mine works in product design and marketing and she agreed that it can be SO subjective whether they take on a project/design or not, and imagines it’s the same with publishing houses. You’ve got to get the individual liking it and then also from a business perspective it must fit with their operating model and where they want to spend their money at any given time – that’s a lot of considerations and a ‘business’ approach for a book. And look at some of the dross publishers do put out, simply because they want to replicate Twilight or another success story!

Personally – that wasn’t what I needed. Of course I’d love to hold a ‘real’ copy of my book in my hands or see it on the shelf in a shop – but the ‘virtual’ world bookshelves aren’t much less exciting. Your first good reviews are no less wonderful because someone’s read your book on a kindle and not in hardcover.

Creative writing is something I do when I’m not working and so it didn’t have to pay the bills (if that’s what you want – good luck – I’ve read that only 5% of authors make a living doing solely that), so when I was happy with the book I put it out there: I wanted to get wider feedback on the book beyond my local readers. And also, I’d written it so ‘why not’? It wasn’t doing anything sat inside the laptop.

And I suppose – from the occasional self-pub success story you see – if you are good, sometimes generating your own readers can demonstrate to publishers that you are viable as an author…without having to wade through dozens of slush piles to show them (also another long shot – but it does happen).

Hope’s Daughter had been through five full MS edits as well as numerous localised ones – so I was happy with the story. Four pre-readers had gone through it and given me feed back. I’d read it so many times I could probably recite scenes from memory – so I did it!

If you are going self-pub, make sure you’re ready to market – ideally before the release of the book – as you can get REALLY bogged down in the writing/publishing side to organise this properly. One of the best prepared launches I saw in 2012 was Marie Landry for Blue Sky Days – she used her network of blogs to ensure there was excitement for the book before release and then a very strong blog tour starting immediately after. Plus – it’s a good book! 🙂

Also – couple of good places to hone your skills – try Miss Lits (I’ve seen them on facebook) – you get to write short or full stories, everyone reads, reviews, etc. and you get constructive feedback, which like Ann says, you can then work on. Also – goodreads groups often have writing areas which you’ll get support and feedback on for your stuff so try there.

Phew – sorry – I got on a bit of a roll there – but hopefully it’s a little helpful and not just waffle. Basically, if you love writing – do it! Get the feedback, take it on board and practice. And when you’re really happy, try whichever route you want to go and that works best for you

Mel x

Day 18 – A book you wish you could live in

I might have been a bit lazy on Aside from Writing recently – but I’ve been trying the 30-day book challenge on my own blog over the last couple of weeks – why not pop over and see what I’m waffling about 🙂

Mel Cusick-Jones

Harry Potter

After a few days off, I’m back on the 30-day challenge wagon again! This was one of the easiest posts to answer in the challenge…

You know it, I know it – pretty much every Muggle in the world knows it, that’s why JK Rowling sold so many books – the magical world of Harry Potter is one of the best book places that anyone could want to live in.

I missed the first few years of hype around Potter and ‘kidult’ fiction (as it was being called at uni, which is where I was at the time that it started gathering pace). Then came the films…it irritated me that LotR and Potter were being geared up for a big Christmas film showdown in the media – to me the stories weren’t comparable, from what I understood of HP – and I thought it was stupid to make the comparisons…

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All Author Blog Blitz!

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Today is the blog blitz, organised by author Y. Correa, mod of the Indie Author Support Group on Goodreads – you can find out more about the group and Y here. For our piece on the blitz we’re featuring young adult writer Stacey T. Hunt as our guest! Tony is a guesting at this blog, whilst Mel is appearing at author Stephanie Hurt’s blog.

Stacey Hunt Stacey T. Hunt is a life-long Canadian whose love of sci-fi and fantasy, videogames, reading, and techno music played heavily on her writing of the smash hit young adult books: The Cascade Adventures Saga.

The ProphecyThe Prophecy
In this thrilling new adventure, a deadly group of terrorists known as The Predatorials rise under the command of their leader, Zorgoth, who has a deadly goal and an enigmatic apprentice by the name of Zorren whom he is enrolling in King Casimir’s School, of which students who attend have a chance to become the next ruler of Planet Cascade. The world hangs in the balance as a torn Cascada must choose who to save — her best friend, Meldon, from falling into the darkness and joining the shadowy divison of the Predatorials, or Zorren, after he won her heart. He’s the mysterious new guy with a dark power and devious ties to Zorgoth.

A cheeky reblog of my cover reveal from today – well if I can’t share it here, where can I? 🙂

Mel x

Mel Cusick-Jones

I’m very excited to reveal the cover art for The Rainbow Maker’s Tale – Book 2 in The Ambrosia Sequence, which is due for release in summer 2012… This is the partner story to Hope’s Daughter – let me know what you think! 🙂

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