Tag Archives: acheiving dreams

Oh, how-the-times-they-are-a-changing!

Happy Tuesday, Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon here, recalling how not so long ago, the idea of self-publishing was as taboo as wearing stripes and plaids together—a fashion statement to be strictly avoided. Today, it seems anything goes!

I was told I was crazy, that I shouldn’t do it, and that I was ruining my chances for a traditional publishing contract. These days self-publishing (preferably called Indie publishing to avoid confusion with Vanity publishing-an icky and antiquated model where authors pay exorbitant fees to shady publishers and get little in return for their investment), is just one more avenue for great writers to share their stories with the world. No longer considered a “last resort,” but now thought of as the “right path” for many writers for dozens of reasons, “Indie” publishing has become a buzz word that is changing the face of the publishing world forever! Can you say “print only contracts?”

Whether you do it to be more in control of covers, editing, and production schedules, or because your stories are awesomely written but are different enough that traditional publishers would never pick them up, or simply because 70% royalties sound a whole lot better to you than 10% or less, the bottom line is that it’s a viable career choice today.

What this means for readers:

1)      A variety of books to choose from that are often different than anything that NY has published before.

2)      Lower e-book prices and tons of free books to choose from.

3)      More personal interaction with authors since Indies have truly embraced social media as a way of connecting to readers. (Without “publisher” support, authors are more on our own than ever before, which goes for trad-pubbed authors as well).

What it means for writers:

1)      More freedom to write what we want to write and be in control of our product and our careers.

2)      The opportunity to set our own production schedules and write what is selling in the current market.

3)      Higher royalty rates but less distribution opportunities. Big publishers still have a major advantage here with both distribution and name recognition/legitimacy with retailers. Hopefully this will change over time as the industry evolves.

4) Realize that along with total control comes total responsibility, which can be overwhelming at times. For people like me who like to be their own boss, it’s really kind of awesome!

A perfect example of how quickly the field is growing and how the perception has changed is the RWA National conference I attended last week. Having Indie published my first title in 2011, I skipped last year’s national convention in Anaheim in part due to the fact that they had little to offer for Indie-pubbers. This year, there was an entire track devoted to everything from formatting to marketing your indie books. It included panel discussions and author chats with some fabulously successful Indie authors as well as focus sessions with all the major e-retailers.

I was amazed to see the shift. The energy and excitement were electrifying! I was also ecstatic to see that they opened up the RITA awards to Indie authors for next year. How cool is that? Obviously RWA was listening to our feedback. They may have been behind the fast moving curve, but they are working hard to catch up. Not that they have much choice, lest they risk being left behind by a good number of their members. Talk in the Indie camps the past year or so was that many were either jumping ship because the organization was treating them like the red-headed step child, or because successful trad-authors who had gotten the rights to all their back list of books were jumping on the Indie train in droves and RWA didn’t want to lose them. Wise decision on their part IMHO.

RWA (and most of NY) may be finally catching on and realizing that Indie is not synonymous with “inferior.” With the mega amounts of competition in this new market, Indie pubbers are quickly learning that quality products are key to selling successfully, and they are putting out some superior products–a reality gaining notice with agents and editors. There will always be the folks who upload an unedited, unprofessional, poorly written document that they (and their mom) think is the cat’s meow, but I believe that those will become fewer and farther between as the market continues to become more competitive.

Like any business, you have to be willing to invest in creating a quality product. Hiring cover artists (which I learned after a few missteps), editors, formatters, and even PR help might be what it takes for an Indie to stand out in the overcrowded book market of today, but there are so many opportunities for growth, it’s just crazy! From audio books to foreign translations, and the growing number of distribution channels offering pre-orders to getting our books into bookstores and libraries, Indies can now compete on equal footing with Big Six (or five) publishers. It means tons of work for the mom and pop publishers like me, but the sky is the limit! I suspect I’m one of the many Indies who are eking along at a crawl in terms of sales, but I can see a light down that long tunnel and I expect as with any new business, it could take me 3-5 years to see the financial success I’m working toward.

I’m still waiting for RWA to change their PAN (Published Authors Network) requirements for Indies, however, as this is still an inequitable measure of professional success and would exclude me from entering the RITA’s. As it stands now, traditionally published authors only need to earn $1000 to be eligible for PAN, while Indies need to earn $5000. Although I’ve earned out twice that amount and more on my first five titles, I haven’t quite earned it yet on one single title, which excludes me from eligibility. I’m oh, so close though!

I’m not saying that Indie publishing is right for everyone. It requires a lot of self-discipline, hard work, and some business savvy, but if you are sitting outside the traditional mold and thinking “I’ll never get published,” there is now another way. Do your homework, get educated about the process, and make the choice because it fits the career model you want. And if you still want a traditional contract, there is always the “Hybrid author” model. Like I said, the sky is the limit and it’s a brave new world in publishing. Be BOLD, and go after your dream, however and wherever the spirit leads you!

So what do you all think about this new publishing paradigm?

Star Wars, the Flylady and Other Internet Tools

Star Wars, the Fly lady and Other Internet Tools

 Your focus determines your reality – Qui-Gon Jinn

Hope everyone had a great holiday and you’ve got some smoking hot New Year’s Eve plans.  It’s Jamie K. Schmidt, filling in for Wednesday’s Child Vivienne Ylang.  Today’s writing tip is about how to focus.  Last week, we talked about finding the time to write.  So now we’ve got our butts in the chair, fingers on the keyboard and are ready to work.

I have a hard time jumping into my project.  Sometimes, it helps to read over the last chapter.  Sometimes, it helps to edit the previous fifty pages.  Sometimes, it helps to read everything I’ve got.  Usually once that’s done, my writing time is up and I’m off to do other things.  Like video games for example.  Take that quote up there for instance . . .

Qui-Gon Jinn was a Jedi Master in George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise.  The Jedis and their enemies, the Sith are foremost in my mind because I got the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) for Christmas.  Basically, it’s a great big video game I can play on my computer with my husband and about 1 million of my friends. To get an idea of the game play you can check out this youtube video:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4iL5uUDf5I

This game is a lot of fun. . . . but it’s not getting my revisions done that I’ve got to turn into my agent in February so she can, in turn, give them to the requesting editor at the publishing house.  So I’ve got to focus.

I grab the timer and set it for fifteen minutes (a la the Fly Lady  . . . www.flylady.com.  It’s a great site for getting rid of clutter and cleaning your house . . . ahem. . . focus)

It gives me fifteen minutes to get in the mood, fart around, settle in, and get ready to write.  When that timer goes off, I start with the new work for today.  In this case, I have scrapped the prologue – which was OK because it wasn’t in my original manuscript.  Now I’ve got to rework the opening chapter.  I’m planning on hacking off the first half and starting in the middle of the chapter.  It’s hard to kill the darlings.   I created a new word document to keep them in so I can use them later, if needed.  But if I get stuck making new darlings, I need something to push me through the writer’s block.

Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die application http://writeordie.com/#pc is one way to get motivated.  You set a goal, a time and start typing.  If you stop typing before your time is up, the following can happen:   Annoying buzzers will sound; your computer screen will start acting crazy, and my personal favorite – your words can start deleting!!!!  Believe me, you become very focused on not being punished and getting those words done.

When I prefer the carrot over the stick, there are always kittens: http://writtenkitten.net/.  For every one hundred words you write, you get a kitten picture.

It’s important to note, that with both these applications you need to cut and paste the work you do on these websites into another word processing program, like Microsoft Word® or the equivalent.

When I’m in the zone, I can work for hours.  It’s getting there that’s part of the battle.  Then once I’m there, focusing only on the writing I’m supposed to do today is also hard.  Once the creativity opens up, ideas for other projects start jumping in.  I have to keep another word document open called “Ideas” and type them in there so I can go back to my Work in Progress (WIP).

I make bargains with myself.  Once this goal is done, you can do X.  In this case, once I get my daily word count or revision goal in, I can log on to SWOR and leave my WIP until tomorrow guilt free.

I opened with a Jedi and I’m going to close with the last Jedi Master.  Whenever I tell myself I’m going to try and write today, I hear the words of the little green Muppet:

There is no try.  Do or do not – Yoda