Indie Authors-Where We Stand Today

I give credit to Amanda Hocking for being the spark that ignited the indie movement. Some of you may disagree, which is fine. If anyone has read her blog you know her beginning was simply work, luck, some business smarts, and not afraid to take a risk. In a manner of speaking she opened the door for the rest of us, and we have followed.

Along the way many changes happened in traditional publishing and the indie movement. Some have been good, and some well… you know the answer to that one. Amazon is growing in leaps and bounds, spreading its fingers and dipping them into many pots. Indies and self-published authors have gained respect. However, the astigmatism that we aren’t equal to traditionally published authors still remains upfront and personal in the eyes of many. We have gained a foothold and it is up to the serious to continue to deliver their best works possible. No one is sure where it will all end. I, for one, will keep trying to gain the respect of my readers and entertaining the idea of success.

And just what is success? To some it is fame, the big bucks, and to others it is the recognition that they have arrived by means of publication in any format. I am saddened when I see so much time being wasted on the finger-pointing scale. In any business there is upheaval and at times a step back to see where one can make things better. Writing is no different. After all it is a business and the writer is the brand, the end product. 2014 is likely to bring about changes that no one saw coming, and we’ll roll with the punches(sorry for the cliché). It is time to just sit down and continue to write and not worry about free books, the $.99 deal, the giveaways and the gimmicks. Yes, we need marketing tools at our disposal, but it is time we came up with a plan that brings us to the next level.

Three years ago there were 4 million writers in the USA alone looking for a publishing deal. I’m sure that number has probably doubled by now. Don’t go looking for the next big thing, no one knows what it is anyway until it smacks you in the face. Think Harry Potter, and Twilight. There was absolute no way of predicting either of these success stories. Write what you love, love what you write and I really believe success will follow. My mother used to tell me,” You can do anything , or be anything in this world that you want, I just can’t tell you how long it will take.”

 

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Guest Author Dick Waters

Today I’d like to welcome Dick Waters, an author, and a man I admire. There is sage advice to be found in this post.

Thanks Aron for the opportunity to introduce myself to your followers.

DickMy name is Rich Waters, but I self-publish under the name Dick Waters. Self publishing is a chapter I will share later. I think you should know a little about me before I talk about my writing.

I was born many years ago in Boston. Fortunately my parents moved from the city to Wilmington, which is a small town about twenty miles north. It was a great town to grow up in and I still remain connected to many friends there and to my high school graduating class. I even dedicated one of my novels to Mr. Kelley who was a great teacher and had an even greater set of values. Looking back at those years I was shy and just an average student. English was not a subject I was fond of. I can still remember the teacher asking ‘what was Shakespeare saying in this segment?’ I often wondered why he made it so hard to interpret his words.

Maybe some of that is why I developed into an analyst. I made a living by looking at how the companies I worked for did their business processes. For some strange reason I was blessed with a way to come up with recommended improvements. This capability led to application and system design. In essence, I was considered creative. In the process my only writing involved specifications for system design and application procedures. After forty years working for other companies I started my own. However, after a costly business venture I decided to go back to work basically to secure health insurance.

A year into working for a major health industry they learned about my system background and wanted me to help with a system conversion. That was a very successful implementation, but it was followed by my having two cancers and surgery. During my recovery time I did a considerable amount of reading. I never liked to come home and crack a book as I did so much reading at work. There were three authors I migrated to – James Patterson’s Alex Cross mysteries, Robert B. Parker’s New England stories and Stuart Wood’s suspense novels.

After going back to work I realized the stress might be too much and my dad was suffering alone with Alzheimer’s disease. I decided to retire. My wife and I soon bought a house that needed considerable work and remodeling. When those projects were winding down my wife asked me to either find a job or do something to give her back her space. Well to tell the truth I didn’t want to go back to the stress connected with working and didn’t really know what to do.

After considerable thought I knew I needed to do something that utilized my former creativity. I thought about doing some ventures, but realized there was too much risk involved. Surprisingly, I thought about writing. Ten years earlier my wife and I drafted a novel, which we couldn’t get an agent to represent. That draft sat on the shelf gathering dust. I went through the rejection letters and one caught my interest. She said the novel we wrote wasn’t in the style of a mystery. Does a mystery have a style?

I wasn’t sure if writing was something I could do, but remembered the stories of the authors I liked. The one common denominator was that they all wrote short chapters and pulled at my analysis background to solve the mysteries. I read some books that addressed novel writing and in particular writing ‘Mystery’ novels. I was surprised to learn that there was indeed a cadence to a mystery novel, or the ‘style’ referred to by that agent.

Things happened fast in 2010 a year after retirement. I set out to write a new novel in the correct style. I finished the manuscript after a few revisions and an on-line search led me to an agent looking for new writers. I replied and soon sent my manuscript in reply to their interest. They said they had a publisher partner who was indeed interested in publishing it.

Hallelujah, forward progress was made. Not so fast! As we go through life we learn many things, some things are positive and some are learned the hard way by making mistakes. I learned the hard way on this one. If someone who looks like a publisher asks for money in return for services…RUN! This was a ‘Vanity Press.’ I was so new to the world of publishing that I didn’t know what to be watchful of. This one mistake cost thousands.

It took me over a year to get that first book published and finally put a halt to their more requested expenses. To end the chapter on that book – I finally retrieved my rights and self-published on Amazon. But wait…this is not the end of that horror story. Because the novel was still ‘available’ in the distribution channels, I couldn’t make it available on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) channel. After many requests to make it available it was finally clear of all the other channels and made available.

Serial Separation is available on Amazon KDP and is the second novel in the Scott Tucker series. Remember the earlier novel I tried to get an agent to represent? Well, I rewrote that Branded for Murder novel, which is really the first in the series. I did get something beneficial from the vanity press scenario. Kurt Bret has done four of my five novel covers, and does have a talent to capture my ideas in a design and is fortunately less expensive than I would have expected.

Cover design is now my only expense. I publish my novels first on Amazon KDP and then in print format using Amazon’s CreateSpace. In fact, the last two versions of my ‘2013 Flash Fiction Anthology’ I used Amazon’s tools to create my own covers. In hind sight I should have published in print format first and then eBook as I could not use the cover created in the eBook for the print version.

I hope some of the above is a help to other authors. So, what do I have for novels?

Branded for Murder involves Scott Tucker, who is a Harvard student, and needs to join a recently formed task force as the New England Strangler’s latest victim was his cousin.

Serial Separation sets Scott to joining another task force as the recently dismembered bodies washed up on the shores of New England were hockey players he played hockey with.

Scent of Gardenia pulls Scott into an investigation as to what is happening to rich-young men going missing on the island of Bermuda. When no ransom demands are being requested, authorities believe the men are being kept for sexual purposes.

Fragrance of Revenge once again gets Scott into an investigation where he doesn’t belong. He hasn’t learned to stay away from investigations and this one will become more than an investigation as he will become the target.

Foreplay for Murder is the same story line as Fragrance of Revenge, but is a hotter version for the adult reader.

2013 Flash Fiction Anthology is a collection of forty-one of my stories and those of Aron Joice and Brian Beam. This book reached #6 on Amazon’s Best Sellers Free list in the Short Story category.

So what can I say about the novel series? In early January I made four of the novels available for free for a four-day period and three of them made it into the top twelve on Amazon’s Best Sellers Free list in the Mystery Romance category. Branded for Murder peaked at #4 and even beat out James Patterson’s free novel. Not bad company to be in, and since I styled my novels after his Alex Cross mysteries consisting of short chapters, I guess it was a successful direction and promotion.

Following that promotional period actual sales were higher than any prior period. New, or recent authors, spend considerable time, and sometimes money, to have their product discovered by readers. I want to thank Aron for allowing me to include her short stories and samples of her novels in my anthology, and for this post.

Readers like you have a wide-choice of who you will read next. I thank those who read my novels and provide some feedback. Reviews help other readers make an informed purchasing decision. I also thank readers for any review and try to acknowledge all of them and realize I am not a great writer, but hope I tell a good story and can improve my writing skills. I enjoy writing good stories and I hope it shows.

Learn more about Dick Waters at  Amazon

My Fellow Author’s Promo page

 

INDIE SUPPORT

I am re-posting this from PW Children’s Bookshelf. Since the tides are changing, it is important to support all avenues for Indie authors.

‘Half Nelsons’: A Pitch for Indie Support

 

On January 5, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop in La Verne, Calif., closed its doors for the last time, but the Nelson name lives on in a Facebook proposal from Patrick Carman, author of the Pulse trilogy among others, for a “truce” with Amazon. While acknowledging the appeal of Amazon’s pricing and speedy door-to-door delivery system, he asks people to split their purchases into a “Half Nelsons” by buying only half their books from Amazon and the other half from their local independent or an independent on IndieBound.com.

“There is nothing like getting a hot drink and stepping into Book and Game, my local bookstore, where I know the owner and the manager and I can browse for something new,” wrote Carman in support of bricks-and-mortar indies. “It’s an important part of our town that helps make Walla Walla feel like home.”

Carman’s campaign hasn’t sparked a movement yet. But it has drawn the attention of, for one, author and editor David Levithan, who reposted it on his Facebook page.