Time for an Aha moment.
I am probably going over old ground. This post isn’t for my writer friends, but I think they will approve. It is difficult to hear readers complaining about the price of books, especially when they are from indie authors. I thought I might take a minute, or two to set the record straight what all writers go through.
Let me step back a minute. I assume everyone works, or does something to generate an income to pay the bills. You know food on the table, rent, mortgage, electricity, car payments, insurance, and all those little necessities. You get compensated for putting your time in somewhere doing a job. Now writers not only have to cover the same bases, but they spend endless hours(no overtime pay here) gathering their thoughts and putting them to paper, or computer. After, say months, or possibly a year that work is finished. Now it is ready for editing. For all you folks not in this field, let me assure you it is one of our biggest expenses. The book cover design, graphics, and typography is another big expense. Sure, you can do it on the cheap, but then that is exactly what it looks like, an unprofessional job.
Some authors advertise, have posters and banners made to shout out a new release. Oh, don’t forget all those little freebies you get from a book tour. So it is pretty simple, we have the same bills to pay on the home front as anyone else, we aren’t compensated for endless hours of writing to hopefully bring a reader enjoyment. We pull rabbits out of hats to pay our editors, and graphic designers, and that snazzy little bookmark, or iPhone cover, is not free, at least not for us.
What I am asking you, the reader, is when you see a e-book for $2.99-7.99, don’t moan and groan. We will never recoup our investment to bring you to new worlds and adventures, unless we get very lucky. The Rowlings, Hockings, yada yada are few and far between, and kudos to them. The rest of us will keep at it not only for our pleasure, but yours.
The last thing that I humbly request is when you download a book for free, actually take the time to read it. Maybe rate it for the author, and if you feel very generous, a review. We do this for you, and with a little attention back, maybe our dreams can come true.
Today’s guest author is Yvonne Hertzberger. We share a passion for fantasy, and I think Yvonne’s trilogy is a must read. I am so happy that she has decided to visit my blog.
There is nothing so constant as change. Yeah, I know. That’s not new. You’ve heard it before. But this is a tale of change.
I read The Three Musketeer’s as a teenager. At the time their cry of solidarity “all for one and one for all”, when taking on a dangerous challenge, really didn’t mean a lot to me. That kind of trust was alien to me. It had no relevance to the life I lived. I grew up in an environment full of every kind of abuse and mind-bending manipulation. The idea that I could depend on another with my very life seemed like a fairy tale, a pipe dream, only for those living in a bubble of self-deception. Reality wasn’t like that.
Many years of therapy, a kind and supportive spouse, and two terrific kids have done a lot to help me get past that. But the kind of trust I was able to develop could only apply to my most intimate circle. It did not, nay, could not, extend beyond my nuclear family and a few close friends. Sometimes even there it remained tenuous.
In 2006, I had the good fortune to be able to retire from paid work. Seven years on the phone at an incoming call centre had taken its toll on my health. Had it not been physically possible to retire, the stress would have forced the issue in other, less pleasant, ways. At that time I was still seeing a therapist, the last of several. This guy ‘got’ me. He believed what none of the others did. He understood that I didn’t exaggerate or misrepresent how it affected me. He told me to journal. I told him I had tried that and didn’t really get anything out of it. “Well,” he said, “then just write. Write anything.”
And I did. I began with a short piece called Heartsong that basically spoke to how trapped I felt, how I dared not allow my creativity to emerge and be seen. You see, when you’ve grown up believing that nothing you do will ever be good enough, let alone good, it stays inside, like a trapped bird fluttering against its dark cage, unable to sing. You can see that little piece on my website/blog. It’s amateurish, but I still like it for the breakthrough it represents.
That story unlocked something that had held me back. I wrote another short story, a trite little romance. I started what I thought would be another short story, a little more daring this time. And so began the trilogy called earth’s Pendulum. You see that story wouldn’t be contained. The characters wanted out, they demanded their tale be told. So I told it. It just ended with the publication of The Dreamt Child, third in the series. But I digress.
Research told me that finding a traditional publisher would be less likely than winning a major lottery so I went the self-publishing route. I got scammed by iUniverse and lost a good deal of money I will never recoup. But that is another story. Back From Chaos came out in 2009. I could not have been more tickled with both the book and with myself. I had done it. I had written a book , all the way to the end, and seen it through to having it in my hands, proof of my efforts.
But I needed readers. I needed people other than those who already knew me to buy it and read it. Now let me be absolutely frank. I was uncomfortable with computers, eschewed social media and am an introvert. Imagine, then, what it took for me to cave in and sign up for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. At first, the only one I actually maintained an active presence on was LinkedIn. I tentatively joined a few discussions, fully aware that I had little to offer and that I would be wanting more than I could give back. Yet the responses were encouraging and supportive. A new world was beginning to open for me. I made a few supportive connections there. I began to stretch a bit.
Imagine my shock when in February of 2012 I received a message from K.S. Brooks inviting me to become a contributing member of Indies Unlimited. I mean, she and Stephen Hise were real authors. They knew what they were doing. I was a neophyte, not even able to stand on my own two feet yet. What could I possibly contribute?
A few emails later I let myself be convinced that I could actually add something. I didn’t really believe it, mind you, but I tried to tell that nagging little voice to shut up for a while. Just give me a chance and let me see what would happen…
That’s when the big change came. Here were a group of writers that were genuine people, folks dedicated to making the road easier for Indie authors, including me. I still don’t know if what I contribute comes close to what some of the others do. I doubt it. That’s not the point here. What I found was a growing group of friends who were willing and able to nurture this struggling, insecure author along, who treat me as an equal, who respect my input and my opinions, who answer my questions and correct my errors. All this without asking for anything back (other than a regular post). They do it without any hint that I need to do more, that I’m not “good enough”. They don’t expect or demand perfection. I have learned to ask for what I need and that I will get it without strings attached. I give back what I can – and it’s good enough. Meeting these folks has been a watershed moment in my life. I trust them. I love them. They are my virtual family. I will never be able to express my gratitude to them.
Since then I have ventured out and joined a few other on-line groups where I have met wonderful, supportive folks with the same attitude as my friends at IU, Book Junkies, Writers Tools to name a couple, but there are more. I have extended my presence on Facebook, with great results. And by results I don’t mean I’m selling a ton of books. I mean I have friends – real friends, people I can count on and who can count on me.
Which brings me back to where I began. I now know what the three musketeers meant and understand their trust in each other. “All for one and one for all” belongs in my life. I get it. I trust. I am changing.
Today my guest author is Melissa Bowersock. I wonder if she ever sleeps. Her book trailers alone will keep you busy. Her promo page is loaded with her works, and social media sires. Please visit, you won’t be disappointed.
There are a lot of things that writing is not. It’s not mechanical (or shouldn’t be; knowing the mechanics is just not enough). It’s not often governable because inspiration is not governable. It’s not a simple modular process. (Subject + verb + object = quality sentence.) It’s fluid, dynamic, protean, mutable, nebulous, and highly subjective.
I am guessing that some non-writers think it’s a simple process of jotting down all the right words in the right order, checking spelling and voila! Instant book. Not so. It’s not like there’s an absolute amount of the right words, or an absolute right order. It’s more like herding cats.
I often equate writing to building a brick wall. I write linearly, from start to finish, and as I’m writing the first few paragraphs, the first few pages, I feel as if I am laying down a foundation for a wall. Each word is a brick, carefully chosen and carefully laid in. If I don’t have the exact brick/word that I want, I stop building the wall. It’s not unheard of for me to stop writing for minutes, hours, days, waiting for the perfect word that I want to manifest in my brain. I know some writers will go ahead and put in a close substitute in order to continue writing, then go back and edit later. I don’t do that. Just imagine building that wall and say I’ve got three or five or ten courses of bricks built up. Then I go back and find there’s a brick on the bottom row that doesn’t fit right or is the wrong color. Pulling that brick out and trying to fit another one in could weaken the entire wall and would likely look like what it was—a second-thought repair. I would much rather build the wall as best as I possibly can from the start, and edit as I go. I hate to rewrite, so I do as little of that as possible.
I remember one time I was working with an editor on a book he was publishing for me and we got into a discussion of this very thing. When I told him how I worked, he said, “My God, I thought that was a myth! I have always heard of writers who work like that, but I didn’t really think they existed!” Yup, they do. At least I do. And it works for me.
So now I’m happily writing away, steering the story where I want it to go and suddenly, what the heck? That fluid dynamism raises its head again and I realize my story has been co-opted. This is often difficult for non-writers to understand, but it’s not uncommon for a story to take on a life of its own and suddenly veer off in a different direction. Going back to our wall, it’s as if I’ve laid one course of bricks just ever so slightly off center from the last course. This new layer is now 1/8″ off to one side. Without noticing the difference, I keep building, and before I know it, the whole wall is leaning. When I realize that the wall is not going where I want it to go, I then have to demolish however many layers until I get back down to the solid and straight foundation, then start building again.
But how does that happen? I’ve been asked, “You’re writing the book. How can it go a different way than the way you want it to go?” I honestly don’t know. I just know that it does. Obviously I don’t have the entire book scripted in my head; it does not exist in some fully-formed way. It evolves as I write. New ideas present themselves; new aspects to characters reveal themselves. I’ve got options for new directions, little side trips. And sometimes I’ll pick a direction and it just evolves in a way I hadn’t intended or foreseen. The good news is that this taking on a life of its own is when I know the book is truly alive, that it’s not just me mechanically putting words on a piece of paper. It’s viable, it’s growing; it’s real. The bad news is it can transform into something that I’m not expecting.
I began writing my last book, Stone’s Ghost, about a ghost that came over from England with the London Bridge when it was transported to Lake Havasu, Arizona. When I first conceived of the idea for the story, I had in mind that it would be a comedy, the ghost experiencing a light and fluffy culture shock between 18th century England and modern Arizona. Several chapters in, I realized that not only was it not going to be a comedy, it had a distinctly dark side to it. Surprised the heck out of me. And even though it’s not the story I had planned to write, it turned out great and I love it. This is one time when that leaning wall became more beautiful than the straight up-and-down plan.
Okay, so I’ve built my wall, I’ve told my story and it’s done, ready to publish. Hold on, not so fast. How do you know when it’s done? In proof-reading my stories, whether it’s my own early copy or a final galley proof, I’ve found that doneness still evades definition. I might read a paragraph that was perfectly satisfying to me when I wrote it, but now suddenly it lacks something or it feels clunky and contrived. I rewrite it, sharpen it up, cut it down. Two days later I re-read the same paragraph and decide that the way I had it to begin with worked better, so I change it back. What I’ve realized is that any story, any book, is what it is only on any given day. Any other day, depending on my mood or frame of mind, it might need to be something completely different. I could look at a book every day for a year and probably have 365 different opinions about it. Even when I re-read my already published books, I can still see places that—at that moment in time—I would change slightly. So pronouncing a book finished is a very elusive process; it can change day by day and it’s never an absolute. Only by chipping away the less than perfect parts, grinding it down by finer and finer edits until I’m finally down to moving commas do I get to the point of completion. Today.
Tomorrow all bets are off.