Category Archives: rants

Urgh growing as a writer

Someone emailed me some typo locations yesterday from Second Chance Romance. I cringed as I fixed them. I am so unhapy with it. I have grown so much since I wrote that book. It needs a total overhaul, but i don’t have the time or energy.

I had a long conversation with my husband about it. I wanted to delete Summer Fling, it’s my weakest book.

I’ve read author comments where they say they wish their first book would disappear or it was right to be rejected. I get that. I just don’t know what to do. I stand by the story, just not how it was told.

On the other hand:

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
— Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words)

Making mistakes means I’m doing what people are scared of. And so what if I don’t become rich, most authors do not. The only place I can go is up. I have to go write I had a terrific historical erotic idea. There are not enough of those.

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On getting better

Having fun and not being the best does not mean I am happy with my current level of profiency.

I recently put Colours of the Rain up for critique at Critique Circle.

I feared putting up something on Critique Circle. I didn’t want to hear “you suck, quit writing.” I feared that was the truth.

The feedback has been good. And helpful. Overwhelmingly helpful, I’m not sure where to start. Only one thing said I didn’t agree with. Which was that the starting scene shouldnt’ be there. But it’s the tie in to the title of the story, so I can’t cut it. But I have a better way to tie it in.

The good is that I don’t tell, I do show most of the time. What I’ve not shown was written when I was working out the characters etc. Good to know and something I couldn’t see. My characters are likeable. The plot is followable and enjoyable.

The bad is that a few typos. I tend to write “your welcome” instead of “you’re (you are) welcome”. I overuse WAS. It was, there was. Was, was was. I’ve been working on things so hard that when I write first drafts I worry about my use of WAS.

Does being imperfect mean I should have kept Colours of the Rain to myself?

No. I do have moments of panic when I worry that letting my imperfect writing will wreck my chances of being read as I get better.

Y’know what? The best authors in the world with legions of fans who support their every move and will claw your eyes out if you say something bad about them, these authors have readers who HATE them. A handful, a hundred.

Sure, it will deter some people.

Just as some people don’t shop at the Dollar store.

I don’t wholly want to infer that my writing is of bad quality. It doesn’t have the benefit of a $1,000/hr editor. But, some of those books aren’t worth the price you pay for them either. So …it’s not that bad of a metaphor. 99 cent book. Maybe you do get what you pay for.

I question the assumption that every written world there must be PERFECT. How much do computer companies get to charge for their software that crashes, freezes and is less than perfect? Why do we put up with the cost?

Publishing companies have taught us to expect it because they held the gate for many years. They said was good enough and what wasn’t. now the reader can decide. And I really don’t expect people to flock to my book and heap praise upon me because it’s the best thing ever written.

I know I limit my success due to the imperfection. I’m just refusing to stay in the shadows until I reach some goal. I’m putting my shit out there and a few people are reading it and liking it.

If in five years, I find that Colours of the Rain and Second Chance Romance and the rest of the imperfections are hurting my sales. I’ll dump the name. It’s not that hard to find another one. Especially when your entire premise is that you make shit up and people pay for your made up shit.

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Why cheap and free are okay

But what about free content?

Image by pr1001 via Flickr

I’m sure people hoard 99 cent books because they are cheap to buy. Some people download free content and never around to looking at it. I have a ton of free pdfs that I’ve forgotten about. They sit in a folder entitled “books” or “downloads” and once in a while I find them, glance through the pages, realize it’s not for me and delete it.

It’s still a valid way to get your name out to people.

Especially when it comes to short stories. Colours of the Rain has been downloaded 1500 times. If a tenth of the people read it that’s 150 reads. If half of them read it, that’s 700. Cool!

Second Chance Romance
has 748 downloads. If 5% read it and buy Summer Fling, that’s 40 sales.

It’s far better than no one buying it at 5.99 or even 2.99. I know I could get a higher royalty at 2.99 on Amazon. And I consider changing it and seeing how many copies get sold.

Part of why I don’t have it at 2.99 is I don’t feel like it’s a 2.99 book. I said before in my imperfection that my writing is 70%. I don’t have the 30% to get a professional set of eyes on it to push it past 100. I’m getting better at it.

I know 99 cents is equated with a less professional book. Maybe I’m reinforcing that attitude. Hey, become a beta reader and point out my flaws before I release the book. Email me asrai.rdATgmail.com. 🙂

The second reason I’m going with free and cheap is I just want to be read. At two  years into the writing. self publish journey, I don’t expect to be on the best seller’s list. Many of the author’s going around talking about self-publishing are established, they have a name, they are known, so their success doesn’t apply to me.

ALso, I don’t have a strong backlist yet. I have three novel length books on Amazon and Smashwords. I have two short stories for free. That’s not a lot. I’m building my platform, I’m building my readership. That is more important to me than 70% royalty.

Lots of people can write about why 2.99 is better than .99 cents. It’s not better. It’s different. It’s not a lack of pride.

If you go with 99 cents because it’s cheap and lots of people will buy, do your research. Make sure you are setting a price point that works for you.

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Why you should be imperfect

I wrote a long post justifying my imperfection in my novels.

When what I wanted to say was this:

Imperfection is okay.

At least I’m out there letting people read my words. And while I let people read my attempts so far, I’m working getting better. Everyday.

I would rather have 100 people tell me my grammar isn’t perfect but my stories and characters are great (which all my feedback so far has said) than to have my novels sitting on my hard drive.

Writer’s have a great opportunity before us. We can write something and put it out there. Chances are at least one person will read it. Or we can sit with our thumbs up our butts and in 10 years look back with regrets.

My husband has a theory that when people feel crappy about hitting 30 or 40 it’s because they feel like they having accomplished enough. If you want to be an author, then be an author. If you want to start a business, do it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it.

Now is the time.

Not everyone can deal with my writing “mistakes”. Not everyone will like my writing. (If you buy something you don’t like there is a period in which you can get a refund from most retailers).

You know what? Not everyone likes Twilight or Harry Potter or whatever. A lot of people do. Should we deprive the world of them because one, a hundred, a thousand people don’t like them?

I won’t even go into the people who run around going “but who is checking on the quality?” Woe is me the sky is falling because someone published some crap. People have been publishing crap for ages.

Some people like the crap (Quentin Tarantino keeps making movies, I know a lot of people who live for the reality series the Bachelor save us from the world where love is a contest and bad writer’s get published by “the big six legacy publisher’s).

So I say, fuck everyone who demands perfection.

They might be people who are afraid of failure.

Failure and imperfection mean you are doing something. You are trying and you aren’t afraid to do things that might not work. I’m not suggesting that if you release a novel you edited yourself that you’ll be the next bestseller. Lower your expectations. You might not even pay your electricity bill for a summer month with the proceeds.

And people might give you crap for promoting the image that indies aren’t professionals.

We try to teach children not to worry about what other’s think about them. And then we are too afraid to try for our dreams because of what other people might think of us. do what you are afraid to do.

Releasing a book that has a misspelling or grammatical error is not a matter of life and death. No one is going to come to your door and yell at you. The grammar police may have a little tantrum in the corner. A reader or three might ask for refunds. (No one has asked for a refund of anything yet). But not following your dream can have a huge impact on your life.

No one can stop you from trying. Let’s see what happens when they see us coming.

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Why have fun instead of rolling up your sleeves and getting serious?

How many books are you selling? A few less than Amanda Hocking? Does it even cover your power bill for the month?

Do you get any reviews?

Do you have self-doubts if you are a good (even decent) writer?

Do you have any idea how else to get your words out to a larger audience?

Do you find the more you focus on trying to get readers, buyers, reviewers or just any indication anyone is reading your books the less you feel like writing new stuff?

If you answered “NO” to any of the above, you might be better off just giving up. Or you could just give up on sales and reviews and have fun writing again.

I really have my doubts that there is anything you can do to boost your sales.

I also believe that having more books with your name on them is the best way to boost your sales. Except, no one is buying the shit you have for sale, so you don’t really have any motivation to write anymore because no one will read them either. Maybe.

The more shit you have out there, the better chance you will get discovered. By any reader.

There’s also the chance that the whole positive thoughts thing works. But the caveat to setting your intention is also letting go of your attachment to it happening. (Just saying it could be true).

Besides, isn’t focusing on what you aren’t getting making you miserable or crazy?

It’s making you crazy because it’s focusing on what you cannot control. Other people’s buying habits. Or if they even SEE your book for sale. The web has untold number of sites, books, ideas clamouring for attention. People can only see so much.

Are you willing to stop jumping up and down with vain hope? Are you willing to have some fun while you make shit up?

Not as glamorous as being discovered like Amanda Hocking, but I bet she had a lot of fun while she wrote 20-some novels in the past few years.

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Having Fun Instead

The writing/publishing world is abuzz about the best way to publish. And by best, they usually mean, what will make you the most money, how you will get the most people to buy your book.

There have also been some discussions in self/indie publishing about pricing. Is 99 cents too low? Unprofessional? Does it attract the wrong type of customer? Are readers who buy 99 cent books just hoarding them? Is it a good way to build a fan base? Do 99 cent books lack quality of story? What about editing?

I believed it for a while. I read the blog posts. I followed the industry closely. I questioned my own plans.

And it came to me recently.

 

I am not having fun with writing anymore.

I’m worried about my sales ranking and making money and if I need to hire an editor or cover artist and if I should raise my prices. I  worried about writing the next book in the Up in Flames series. I worried about whether the whole contemporary romance thing was even worth it because paranormal is HOT now. Historical does fairly well. Contemporary is a lukewarm market unless you sign with Harlequin.

The point of this for me was to write my ideas. To have fun making up stories. To dream up these fantasy lovers who are flawed men, who sweep women off their feet. These fantasies we dreamt about in high school.

I am not doing that anymore.

I’m having ideas that I’m playing with. As I’m working on them, I feel pressured to market and produce. I’m worried about what people are going to think of my writing (okay, I’ve always been worried about that. I used to keep at my stuff hidden from my family. IT’s still easier to share with total strangers than my mother.)

I want to have fun.

For the next while, anyway, I’m going to have fun with writing and reading. I’m going to read free and 99 cent reads from Smashwords and review them. (Though, to be honest, I’m worried about having to give bad reviews, but any review is better than none). I’m going to break all the rules. In fact, I’m going to write new ones.

The FUN Code (more like guidelines?)

#1 No Self-Promotion. No linking to myself.

Caveat to #1. To inform people of this project I have to tell them about it. But it’s project promotion so others can read my promotion of others. And I’m hoping other authors will give up on promotion and money made being the end all of success. I want other authors to measure how much fun they are having writing, like the good old days. Besides, most of us aren’t selling that many copies anyway. We might as well give up and have fun.

#2. No writing stuff that isn’t fun. I can even abandon projects in the middle of working on them if I don’t feel the flow.

#3. Read for fun. Review what I read. Promote what the good, and maybe some bad. Write e-mails with details to the bad and ugly telling them where things have gone wrong. Especially regarding blurbs. I read a lot of bad blurbs lately.

#4 Unsubscribe and delete all industry blogs. For me this is Konrath’s blog, Jane Friedman‘s blog, Publetariat, Ditchwalk, and anything related to productivity (urgh! I am at the point of loathing productivity blogs. I don’t need another tip on how to get more done. Give me tips for getting more FUN) and anything related to writing that isn’t about how AWESOME it is to make shit up.

Caveat for #4. If you want to go hard-core, unfollow those bloggers on Twitter and unlike them on Facebook.

#5. Wasting time is not a crime punishable by beating myself up. Making mistakes is encouraged.

#6. Reach out to other authors and share insights, info on their work and encouragement.

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Back to good

My Kobo is working again. Inexplicably it just turned on 48 hours after it started doing the cycles of reboots. No idea.

 

But that’s not what I wanted to discuss.

I haven’t been writing a whole lot lately. And then we got a cold and my husband sprained his shoulder and I’ve taken it easy for the last few days, reading The Purpose of your Life by Carol Adrienne.

There’s a really good chapter or so about intention and positive thinking.

Now, positive thinking and intention got a lot of press a few years ago with the Secret etc.

But, in this case it’s not setting your mind on an amount of money you want to make, or anything tangible.

It’s setting your intention for HOW you want to FEEL.

And it was like a metaphysical slap upside my head.

I’ve focused on sales in the past few weeks, and writing the next book so I have something more for sale and if I should raise my prices from free to .99 for short stories and my novels to 2.99 etc. I blame Zoe Winters for all  her press about .99 vs. 2.99.

And it’s making my creative life feel really shitty.

Do I write for the money? Well, no. I’d love to make my living at this, but I would rather share my words on the cheap and have a day job.

I want to love writing again. I don’t want to worry about profits and making my living from this. It’s my hobby for now. I do dream of making it big like Amanda Hocking. But, now, I just want to love writing.

So I’m focusing on that.

In good news I may have sold 50 books on Amazon in March. I sold 15 in February, so I’m hoping I’m picking up speed. The more stuff I get out there the better it will get.

I love writing and I would do it if no one paid me. It really never has to be my full-time job, because I love working where I did (before I became a mom) and full expect to return to work in the next 5 years.

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