The dilemma of the indie book writer v reviewer…

I realise that I have been a little quiet for the last week or so and for that I apologise. It had been my intention to publish at least one blog post a week and I haven’t been entirely successful in this. For that, I apologise.

So why have I felt unable to post?

The answer lies in my blog addition of book reviews. I am thrilled with the positive response that TIBC has had. Lots of people have been keen for me to review their books and I have been happily reading some excellent ones. My dilemma rises from when the books are not excellent but could have been had they been subjected to rigorous editing and PROOFREADING!

Publishing a book takes time. It takes money too, but if you are on a tight budget paying for a proof-reader can seem an unnecessary expense. I get that. I didn’t pay to have my book proof-read, but I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who I could rely on to read my book and point out where there was a glaring missing full stop or speech mark. Leaving them aside however, I read and reread my book almost 100 times in the last 3 months or so, checking and rechecking the basics to ensure that I wasn’t submitting something with glaring errors.

I adore reading but I cannot read a book which is littered with errors, leaving aside any problems with the plot itself. In addition, as a reviewer of books for children, on a blog which is aimed at parents and children who want to read my books above all else, I am not going to be promoting books which in my view are unfinished. That is certainly not the self-promotion I want.

Self or indie publishing (whichever way you want to phrase it) is incredibly easy to do and monstrously difficult to succeed at. We are seen as the rejects who couldn’t get book deals and the perception is our books are littered with errors and lacking in cohesive plot or believable characters. These are unfair sweeping statements that hinder the indie author before they have even published their book. I’m guilty of it too, before I started this process, I looked down on self-publishing and would avoid purchasing books from indie authors because of my bias towards them. I now know how passionate, talented and dedicated to their craft many indie authors are. I have read some brilliant self published works which any sensible agent/publisher should jump on. Given all this, it is depressing and frustrating to read a book which matches the stereotype and fails to meet my expectations.

My dilemma then has very much been how to address this. I am not going to write a public review but I also recognise that despite my frustration, I cannot leave a fellow author without any kind of feedback. My response was to respond in email with apologies and explanation as to why it wouldn’t be appearing here. I’m not sure what else I could do?

It is the first time but I’m sure won’t be the last.

Please comment down below,

Are you a book blogger? What do you do when faced with this situation? Do you think I did the right thing? How do we tackle this bias against self-publishing?

If this rant got you intrigued, you can find my book…here!

If you want to read a review of an excellently written and proof-read indie book for children, TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

Facing Fears

I’ve used it before…but it’s a cat on a diving board…

When I first conceived of the idea of writing a curriculum-supporting children’s novel, I has recently left the education world behind me. Making that decision to walk away from my single greatest focus and passion was gut-wrenching at the time, but I do not regret it for one second. Many people still ask me whether I will ever go back to teaching and I categorically reply, “No. Nope. No way.” The education system in Britain chewed me up again and again, that when I was eventually spat out, I was a nervous gibbering wreck who did not know where she was or what day it was – nightmarish! Surviving in the current environment takes a strength of will and character that I just can’t/couldn’t match up to. My admiration for former colleagues and anyone who teaches (many of whom struggle on with mental health issues in tow) is immeasurable. Anyone who has not had to endure teaching in the last ten or so years has no concept of understanding what they face.

Anyway, this post isn’t meant to be a soapbox rant.

Walking away from something which you have wanted for half your life and fought to achieve for ten years or more, is the most daunting thing in the world. Which was why my having a new focus and passion was (and still is) so important to me. I thrive on challenge and set exceedingly high expectations for myself (the major reason that everything spiraled away from me). A big part of my mental health journey over this last year has been to work on reducing those expectations to more manageable and realistic levels. On the whole, I feel I have achieved this and the strategies I have developed have helped me to manage many of my anxieties associated with “failure” and certainly my association of those failures with my self-worth.

This morning I was reflecting on my mood and I recognised that I am feeling many of the same emotions that I did before. Taking the decision to self-publish and everything that goes with that, means facing the concept of failure on a large, public scale once again. In wanting you, my dear readers, to love Osha and her family as much as I do and enjoy the world that I have created from the historical sources, I am very much placing myself in a position of potential disappointment and failure. Looking at it, there are two worst-case failing scenarios:

  1. No one buys the book.
  2. People buy it and hate it.

Now there are pros and cons to both. With the first scenario – I lose nothing but my time and energy. I will be immensely disappointed but also recognise the realities of these things – self publishing is easy, it’s getting sales that is hard. With the second – I face the criticism and negativity of people which I have also found difficult, but at least people bought it! The reality is that some will like it, some will not like it and some will not buy it…that’s the way things are.

The biggest thing about this whole process is that no one will get to read it if I never publish it. So there we go it all comes down to that old adage: You don’t know unless you try. The most important thing is that I face those fears, those anxieties, those negative thoughts and put them to the test.

…I now have the Pokemon cartoon theme tune in my head…!

…My brain works in strange ways…

The deep end

Having made this decision to self-publish, I am now having to confront my near-crippling fears that I’m not good enough. We all have anxiety (particularly when facing the unknown) but somehow I have managed to convince myself it’s a good idea to throw myself into the deep end and…I have just never been ANY good at diving!

Consequently, I am standing at the edge with the dark abyss in front of me and I wish I could see the bottom. That is always the worst thing for me. Looking down and being unable to see where the journey will end. The greatest fear is not that I will hit the water, but that somehow, like a still from a Warner Bros cartoon, I will land smack on the concrete at the edge and…well I guess you know how that would end…

At this point in time, I am just about climbing the ladder to the diving board. I can’t see the pool, (which is a good thing) but I know it is there…waiting for me.

So that is where I am this week…