Monday, January 13, 2014

You Can Always Self-Publish - NO

I haven't always been a defender of self-publishing. I've seen enough authors who didn't bother to edit, or self-pubbed out of anger, revenge, discouragement, or some other very poor reason, and then wondered why they still weren't getting the attention they so obviously deserved. But I know there are those out there, the indie authors, the small-press authors, self-pubbed or otherwise, who work their tails off for their books.

These people produce great writing, and then work very hard to promote it. They research the best methods to get people to see their work. They put the time in to take advantage of those methods. They blog, tweet, post on Facebook, do book signings, make appearances, anything they need to. And people read their books. Not because they pummeled their readers into submission with advertising, but because they're good.

A particular book at my local library comes to mind. This book is self-published by a local author. It's the only copy in our county, very niche, and VERY popular. It's a contemporary YA titled Opiate Jane by Jessica Baker, and patrons keep asking me about it. Though I've never read it, I can acknowledge when something just hits a reader's sweet spot and deserves to be on those shelves.

This is what self-publishing does. And if done right, and for the right reasons, it is brilliant. Self-pub makes good stories available to eager readers. But, yes, you have to work your tail off.

It's started offending me when laypersons, and especially people in the publishing industry, snub their noses at self-pub, saying things like "Well, you can always self publish." No, you can't 'always self-publish'! It isn't easy. The result, if you do it hastily or slap-dash, can be an awful blow to your writing career. And if you ever want to trad-pub, that catastrophe will follow you. Swallow that, if you can.

Will I ever self-publish? Maybe. Right now I'm pursuing traditional publishing for as long as it suits the direction I want to go in.

There's nothing wrong with illustrators who sell their work at conventions, online, or out of the trunk of their car, so what's wrong with writers who sell their work on Amazon or Createspace?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

IWSG: Taking Time to be Awesome

I'm late for the IWSG, so I've read a few blogs already that address some of the topics I've been thinking about lately. You know what that tells me? It tells me that this year so many of us are on the same page, concerned about the same things, and have a similar attitude about what 2014 can hold for us. That, to me, is pretty cool.

I've been busy through the holidays, busy since they ended, and I foresee being busy for the rest of the year. What I need now is to schedule myself so I have the time to do the things I want, and the time to rest and relax so I have energy to do them.

Something so amazing but so simple to me is what happens when I just decompress, disconnect from all the demanding outlets, and take time. Shower time, rearranging my sock drawer time, zen time - when your body is on auto-pilot and your mind wanders and doesn't have to feel tugged in multiple directions. I have few things that allow me to do that, but when I do my mind opens up, I have time to focus, and when I focus, I become amazing. I'm suddenly brilliant, organized, connected, passionate. I give one subject all my attention.

I've gotten so caught up in the fast internet pace of things, the impression that everything was supposed to be done yesterday, that I always feel behind, I always feel rushed and I never feel like I've accomplished enough. Even now I'm having a hard time, because I still only have one novel and the beginnings of another to show for the years I've worked. That's because my time is always divided, and my motivation is sometimes nonexistent. But beating myself up won't help. Now that I've answered the siren song of revision, I need to focus even more. In order to do that, I need to take time. I need to turn off all the chatter and distraction, and zen out with my book. And I need your help. I can't stay in the shower all the time.

What are your favorite ways to decompress, clear your mind, and gain focus?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What Are Your Creative Goals for the New Year?

You know all that greatness you were at the edge of in 2013? 2014 is the year you'll achieve it. 

Since I started my journey to publication, I've lived in many emotional conditions, felt I was ready to publish tomorrow, and felt my work was so under par no agent would look at me twice. It's funny, though. Throughout all that, I never seriously thought of giving up. I took a step back, reevaluated, but never thought of doing anything else. Because I can't do anything else. I just can't.

I'm a library clerk for my day job, and I love it more than I could imagine. I want to keep doing it, as long as I have time to pursue my illustration and writing. But this year I want to get to the heart of my true passion. I discovered with my November Sketch Challenge that I love interactive illustration. I just have to figure out a way to get paid for it. I don't want to do portraits anymore. I want to illustrate fresh words, bring another dimension to stories, carve out my definitive style and carve it so deep in the illustration world no amount of abrasive critique could erase it.

Here's what I accomplished in 2013:

- survived Query Letter Hell on the AbsoluteWrite forums
- stopped querying my book and started revising it
- collected new beta readers
- made a lot of new friends through Twitter and Novsketch
- added new work to my illustration portfolio
- caught the attention of an agent who now follows me on Twitter
- got a gig illustrating for Under the Juniper Tree Magazine
- got offered a promotion at work
- found a new website host and left the old host
- built a shiny new website for my portfolio
- read 29 books
- saved enough money to continue my doll hobby

Here's my list of creative goals for 2014:

- finish revising my YA Manuscript
- query said manuscript
- focus on developing my illustration style
- do another Novsketch or similar sketch challenge
- sell more illustrations
- get back into piano
- finish the first draft of the second book in my YA series
- read 40 books
- buy my second ball-jointed doll and customize her

I can't wait to get to them! What goals are you excited to get started on?

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