Indie author woes…

That’s not what a £ coin looks like anymore…!
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

One of the hardest things as an indie author is getting people to believe in your book and you as a writer without a publishing house behind you. You know that your book is as valid and well written as many out there for sale in big named bookstores and just because your work hasn’t had the seal of approval from on-high, it is very often considered inferior. I recognise that a lot of this is changing and with a good marketing campaign and 1000s of whatever currency you use, you can sell many, many books. But those 1000s have to come from somewhere. After all, we in Britain know there is “no magic money tree”…ahem.

“You’ve got to spend money to make money” such a brilliant saying in today’s economy! Don’t get me wrong, if I had thousands of pounds free to use on FB ads, IG ads, Twitter ads, Amazon ads, Google ads, tattooing the name of my book to people’s foreheads with a QR code linking directly to my Amazon seller’s page, ads – you bet I would (actually…this one might be an idea)…but I don’t, I really, really don’t!

So what do you do? Putting yourself out there (another loathsome phrase!) is probably the best way to go. Trying to advertise without bankrupting yourself with no guarantee of making it back. I did a run of good old-fashioned print posters to display in places locally, which actually ended up being a lot cheaper to do than I thought. I’ve started out with 25 but will end up doing more if they garner interest.

I’m looking forward to going into schools too. After all that was the initial purpose of writing the book and beginning the series, to bring the Stone Age to life for children. This time next year, I’ll have two books to promote and will be working on my third which will be exciting!

Comment below:

What do fellow indie authors do for low-cost advertising and getting their books out there?

Any tips for promoting my book?

Any other publishing/writing woes that you want to get off your chest?

Author Interview – External link

The author ST Sanchez recently did an author interview with me, which can be found over on her blog.

It was a great opportunity to reflect on my writing and consider my approaches to the process of creating a book. Check it out if you’re interested in the book and my writing!

Just a short post today.

Further information on my WIP in the future…!

Lazy days + annual leave = …v little!

Another quiet week from me. Sorry, I really must get into a regular blogging habit – it’s just hard when there’s so many other things to think about on this writing journey. I intend to do better…we will see how long this lasts. I quite like the idea of using Sundays as an update day, if I have failed to contribute anything during the week…what do you think?

It’s been my husband’s first week of summer annual leave, which I expect has contributed to my rather lazy approach to work! I did manage to almost complete Behind the Cave Wall – the companion ebook to my novel – and have only the final few bits and pieces to do on it, so if you’re a member of readers’ club, look out for it in your inbox next week (hopefully…). See there’s an element of hope in so much of my work atm – I blame the summer.

Speaking of the warm weather, the heatwave from last week thankfully cleared up and we had several quite miserable days (for which the garden rejoiced) followed by more clement and sunny ones. We are making the most of being able to go for walks and enjoying the glorious countryside in Norfolk.

I have so far done very little writing, but I do have my next MC’s name and I am making an about-turn and setting “From the Hammer’s Fall: An Iron Age Story”, at a known Iron Age hillfort in N Norfolk. It will be fun being able to visit and map out the story in situ.

Last night we sat outside until late. The chiminea was blazing away and I found myself staring into the depths of the fire, marvelling at how the discovery of how to control this force of nature, had such an impact on human growth and development right from the beginning. It’s interesting that through charting the societal story I will also be looking at how we have used and adapted technology – taking that fire and learning about its properties of energy to go from simple tool creation right the way through to industrialisation and modern scientific discoveries.

Yes this is the sort of thing that goes through my mind…!

This post has little actual substance but there we go!

How has your week been?

What WIPs are on your mind?

Am I the only one who has these philosophical/historical/societal reflections at odd moments? Maybe I should write them down more often!?

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

What I have learned this year…

Last night, I went to my writing group which is made up of teachers from across the region. It is run by a former lecturer/tutor on the course, who is undeniably passionate about writing and in particular, writing for pleasure.

One of the exercises that we did was to reflect on this past academic year (with being a group of teachers, this was our last session). She asked us to consider what we had learned in regards to writing and what we had learned in regards to teaching writing. With my status as ‘former teacher’ I was unsure how to proceed with this latter question and so focused on the ways I have grown as a writer in general, not just within the sessions. After all, my profession may no longer be within the day-to-day education of children, but I feel that the best writers are those whom we can model ourselves after.

And so to my list. It isn’t long or particularly innovative. It is purely a self-reflection on how far I have come since I first sat down at my computer screen and introduced myself to Osha et al.

This year I have learned…

To write without inhibition.

The joy of interesting language.

To respond to what’s around me and be inspired by the mundane.

To view things differently.

To enjoy the writing process not just the results.

The power of good writing.

That less is often more.

To make mistakes, change, write again, change, try a different way, change, before maybe being satisfied???

Punctuation can come last.

To be a writer/author who taught as opposed to a former teacher who writes.

The last one feels particularly of note.

That day, 18 months ago, that I chose to begin my story, and saw in my mind’s eye the little girl staring in awe at a cave painting, I thought of myself as a teacher who had left the profession and was going to write. The difference is subtle but it’s an important one. I am an author and I was a teacher. Both feed off one another and I can draw on skills and ideas which I used in the classroom, but they are two separate spheres. When I go into schools it is as an author not as a teacher; my passion is books, reading, writing, language, plot, character, dialogue and all the rest, as opposed to education and teaching.

Thinking about this year, I can see this big difference in the “pruning” that I gladly did of my book. Ironically, it was the removal of those aspects of writing that we teach children (…thanks Mr Gove!…) that helped the flow and brought the book to life. I let go of the feeling of rigidity of ‘writing to teach’ and instead allowed myself to write a plot which children would respond to. That was the key.

I really hope that a child (or several) will read my book(s) and enjoy them. Yes they can learn historical ‘facts’ and draw lessons from them, but that is not the focus as it once was. Writing Osha, I fell in love with her as a character not as a literary device. She is real to me, as I hope she will be for others and these are lessons that I can take forward as I embark on the next one.

…I just hope it doesn’t take 18 months this time!…

What have you learned this year?

Is there a difference in your writing now than previously?

Comment, like, share. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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…