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It is an unexpected joy, to see a friend's dream come to reality.

Such was the case in coming in, part way, to Sandra Hurst's journey. Sandra already had much of her novel, Y'keta, written when she introduced herself to me. I had started to attend the same monthly bookstore open mic night that Sandra did, and for whatever reason, she decided to reach out to me.

And I'm so every glad she did.

Since then, a year and a half back, Sandra and I have become fast friends, and I have been pleased to see her manuscript go from her self-proclaimed "baboon-crap" to a finished manuscript, to a proof copy, to a launched novel.

This week Sandra was overjoyed and shocked to see Y'keta on the Calgary Herald Bestsellers list (#2 even!). I wasn't shocked. I knew she would get there. For although I observed Sandra's trepidation, her worry, her small victories and blows of self-doubt, I saw Sandra's talent and magical fluidic language, spiraling around her characters, creating a world of wonder and tribal-influenced reality. From the outside, I had no doubt her novel would be a success. Not. One.

It is different, seeing a book come to reality as an outsider. Well, as a partial outsider. What I mean is, when I am publishing my own, I know the many steps I need to take. I know the late nights, the heavy decisions, the endless edits, the long waiting and weighty financials. From one step out, as a friend, I could watch her go through the same, but also lend support where I could. That meant anything needed, from suggestions on content, to praise with the cover. Wanting to make her first launch truly magical, I offered to do a few things. I didn't want credit, I just knew how stressful it could be, offering up a newly born book to the world, waiting for it to take it's first figurative steps.

Hoping it wouldn't stumble and fall. And if it did, that it would get up and continue on...

But Sandra's spread its wings and took flight instead.

As I said, it is an unexpected joy, to see a friend's dream come to reality. I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but it was a pleasure and I look forward to it happening with many more of her stories.

Soar well, Y'keta!

To purchase in Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Yketa-Sky-Road-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01N9V4M8C

In the US: https://www.amazon.com/Yketa-Sky-Road-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01N9V4M8C

This is part 2 of a response to an article I read last month that argued Self-Published authors are, essentially, not authors at all. While it has been a while and the majority of the outrage over this article has died down, I am still posting this second half, more-so as a way to appease my own mind than anything.

 

Part 1 (ending):

 

...For an indie, and for many other authors, the time is put in where needed, and the hours simply do not justify the return in the end. But, it satisfies their soul, which is typically why they write. As I said, I’ve been lucky enough to befriend a number of indie and published authors, and I have heard the indescribable defeat in their voices when I’ve asked “what do you think of the process?”. The answer is generally the same. They look away, or sigh, or purse their lips, and answer “It’s alright.”

 

Alright. Is that really the “best system we have”?

 

Part 2:

Ms Gough uses an anecdote about Margaret Atwood and a brain surgeon, in which the surgeon says he is going to write a book when he retires, and Atwood responds that she will try brain surgery. Whether or not this anecdote is correct or not is beside the point. I have experienced how easy sites like amazon, Direct2Digital and Book Baby make the publishing process (and it is, on the surface). This, along with today’s ease of technology and encouragement that anyone can use it, and makes self-publishing at everyone’s fingertips.

 

That is the good and bad point.

 

Ms Gough is also correct that self-publishing has no gatekeepers. There is no restriction stating an indie must have had their book reviewed by an editor. Despite knowing nothing about design they can partake of the many cover editors and create their own image. And this, against many people’s opinion, can be of detriment to both the indie and the publishing world. I have read many books now that lacked these factors, and it shows. But, to sensor authors by making them prove their editor is valid and cover designer has more experience than just knowing photoshop, that would be detrimental as well. But I will say, the indie books I have read that are phenomenal are all ones that have employed these outside services.

 

To her point about self-published books being labelled as such, I have no problem with this. After all, most of the readers I meet have no problem with self-published works. Without the filter of the Big Five telling us what is good, a reader can find amazing diamonds hidden in every genre. When Author Earnings looked at the daily unit book sales, it showed for “every reader discovering a new Big Five author, there are literally dozens of readers finding brand new indie authors and Amazon-imprint authors they enjoy.” For $0.99 books, we’re talking roughly 35,000 indie sales vs under 5,000 for the Big Five and Small/Medium Publishers combined. I don’t hesitate to tell people I am self-published. I am a proud Indie author and would have no qualms with having to list my books as such.

 

The impressive part is these numbers are actually a downturn for Indies from 2014. Author Earnings acknowledges much of this change in statistics could be due to a flip in tactics by big name retailers like Amazon in what they will allow for promotions, reviews, and the increasingly popular discount sites like BookBub.

 

Small/Medium Publisher authors are now “running neck-to-neck with the Big Five” (Author Earnings) and still Indies are competitive with the traditional publishing platform.

 

Now, when she started receiving emails from readers of her article, Ms Gough stated that he was sorry for the article, and that she had neglected to mention that she was Canadian, and as such, she “had no idea that self-publishing in the U.S. had taken off the way the way it has (not so in Canada where it’s still very small.)” (Hunt, Joe). As a Canadian myself, I find this somewhat appalling.

 

Before I ended my contract with my small publisher for my first book, I did a lot of research on google and through my expanding contacts on what options I had. There was the obvious – try to get an agent and query other publishers, or self-publish. And, I quickly realized, self-publishing is not restrictive to where you live. Many of the authors I have now met are self-published and live in the US and Canada. Ignorance by geography seems quite the cop-out, especially for someone Like Ms Gough who has been in the literary world as an author since 1998.

 

Now, unlike blogger Joe Hunt, I will accept Ms Gough’s written apology from the facebook plug-in on HuffPost. Why? Because just like her obliviousness to the value and hard work of Indie Authors in general, Ms Gough was uninformed. This was entirely her fault, I don’t deny that. But, this article also brought to life many opinions, and gave self-published authors and supporters of them, a platform from which to jump and state their case. And, like in any important issue, points are best made when there is an opposition to spring off.

 

So, unlike Joe Hunt and the thousands (or more) Indie Authors, readers and supporters who were spurned, I am offering Ms Gough this: Thank you.

 

Without your admitted ignorance, this would not have been brought quite to life.

 

And with that I return to my opened manuscript, ready to put into my apprenticeship once more.

 

Original Source Credit:

Gough, Laurie. “Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word.” Huffington Post, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-gough/selfpublishing-an-insult-_b_13606682.html. Accessed 28 Dec. 2016.

 

Additional Credit:

Hunt, Joe. “HuffPost Blogger Attacks Self-Published Authors!” Joe Hunt, 2016, http://www.itsjoehunt.com/huffpost-blogger-attacks-self-published-authors/. Accessed 1 Jan 2016.

 

“October 2016 Author Earnings Report: A Turning of the Tide…?” Author Earnings, 2016, http://authorearnings.com/report/october-2016/. Accessed 1 Jan. 2016.

The other day my publicist tagged me in response to an article against self-publishing, not because he believes it, but because he strictly believes otherwise.

 

I read the article, if one can call it that. And yes, you heard that snide comment correct—the sarcasm was oozing as I wrote it. I read it and was disgusted, and angered…and intrigued. Although I strongly disagree with the overall points made, the writer did hit home on a few things. And, after being disgusted with myself I had to admit, there are always two sides to every point of view.

 

So, here we go. Speaking from the view of a writer who HAS self-published, here is what I think.

 

Let’s start with the title. “Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word”. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be all knowing, but doesn’t the written word usually refer to the bible? What exactly does this writer have against Christianity? And furthermore, how does Self-publishing relate to and insult it?

 

Ok, I’m off the mark already, I know that. But I bet there were a few of you devout Catholics that were, for a moment, feeling that pit in the bottom of your stomach, that roiling of anger. At what? The writer? The people who dare to self-publish? I think I’ve made my point. Before you go throwing around words like “insult” and “written word”, perhaps consider the context.

 

(And yes, I am aware I was reaching back there. Please, forgive me. I come from an academic background of analyzing and dissembling words and phrases).

 

The article begins by saying, and I am paraphrasing, readers will only want to read books that have been published traditionally, gone through the “gatekeepers” of the traditional publishing world. At first I nodded. It was a fair enough assessment, until I thought of the many indie authors I have connected with these past few years, and the giant following of readers they have. One gets hundreds of responses when she posts on facebook that her newest book will be out shortly. Another gets a massive amount of encouragement when just the world she is writing in is mentioned. And, both hundreds in a very short time, pre-selling forty, fifty, sixty all before the book is even out. For an indie, that is golden.

 

Ms. Gough says “Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.” Is it? Is it really?

 

Per Author Earnings, which pulled data from nearly every ebook on Amazon.com bestseller list, even with a significant drop in Indie author earnings, their share is still approximately 40%. This is admirable, considering Independent authors are responsible for all the costs incurred with research, editing, printing, advertising, and distributing their books. That is a large infusion of money being pumped into the publishing industry, into individuals and companies responsible for bringing these works to fruition.

 

Next Ms Gough associates “Good writers” with this traditional publishing apprenticeship, and the “tens of thousands of hours” to become a good writer. She writes these “good writers” are only so because they are rejected again and again, and are relieved at how bad they were when the first works were rejected. I agree, to a point. Rejection is important. Like being told in an office setting that your work wasn’t up to par, not placing in athletics because you weren’t fast or strong or talented enough, rejected of written work gives a writer two choices: improve, or stop.

 

What does it mean, then, for the indie author who spends hundreds of hours writing their book, another hundreds reading and re-reading it for content errors, grammatical mistakes, sends it off to beta readers only to be told a part doesn’t work, that something is wrong. They spend another hundred hours editing and analyzing and re-writing and re-reading, finally get it off to their editor and what happens? You guessed it, the work comes back with the red pen marks. Or, more recently, the red and green and blue on the screen of the writer’s desktop or laptop. Strikethroughs, inserted words, comments, these all come back to the indie author, left for them to deal with.

 

Now, this part of the process can be the same for traditionally published authors. Depending on their publisher’s process, some authors find the manuscript returned with implied suggestions and are asked to refine the work before the publisher will look at it again, all on a deadline. For others, the publisher takes the reign, merely giving the author the ultimatum of “accept or the project is scrapped”. For authors like James Patterson, who published novels alone in 2014, this may not be as big a deal. After all, Mr Patterson does not, in fact, write all his novels himself but hires other authors to flesh out the words while he lays out the detailed outline and plot beforehand.

 

But for an indie, and for many other authors, the time is put in where needed, and the hours simply do not justify the return in the end. But, it satisfies their soul, which is typically why they write. As I said, I’ve been lucky enough to befriend a number of indie and published authors, and I have heard the indescribable defeat in their voices when I’ve asked “what do you think of the process?”. The answer is generally the same. They look away, or sigh, or purse their lips, and answer “It’s alright.”

 

Alright. Is that really the “best system we have”?

 

Original Source Credit:
Gough, Laurie. “Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word.” Huffington Post, 2016,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-gough/selfpublishing-an-insult-_b_13606682.html. Accessed 28 Dec. 2016.
“October 2016 Author Earnings Report: A Turning of the Tide…?” Author Earnings, 2016, http://authorearnings.com/report/october-2016/. Accessed 1 Jan. 2016.

Last night I approved a press release that will be going out. I have always been transparent with you, my followers, so here are my thoughts on the matter:

I have to admit, clicking that "send" on the email was intimidating. It is quite different, having people believe in something you are doing who aren't family. And both my editor Taija and publicist Mickey have shown unwavering faith in my series.

It isn't that I don't believe in the series. In fact, because of the way I write, with automatic writing, I feel sometimes that the characters are really the one's writing, that I am merely a reporter taking down the events for the characters and putting their notes into book form. In this way I can have complete confidence in their tales.

But, as many of my other author friends know, belief in yourself can be tricky. There is always that chance of fearing that you have grown too much too fast, or that you will fail to some degree, or that you will not grow at all. There is, often, that fear of "what if"

What if I cannot sell myself as much as I promised?

What if I cannot talk about and sell the books as much as I need to?

and, most importantly, what if I SUCCEED?

Here's the thing, loyal followers, fear can be a tricky thing. As a mother, it can help me assess danger for my children, and weigh decisions. As a writer and author, fear can be restrictive. If open mic, NaNoWriMo, the working world and even my time at ACAD taught me anything, it is that when you want something that seems out of your reach it is best to safely set fear aside and go for it, if you are able. For me, someone who has gone through the downs of PPD and frequent anxiety, this can be a scary step. Scary, but necessary.

So here I am, admitting my hesitations to the world, knowing that everything is going to be just fine in the end. Actually, it won't be just fine, it will be brilliant! How can it not be, with my family, friends, followers, my editor and my publicist, and my husband supporting me?

I challenge each of you to do the same. I challenge you to take hold of one hesitation today and tuck it way down, to make way for an opportunity otherwise unrealized. And, when you do, please let me know - I love to share success.

Whether or not to hire an editor before self-publishing is quite the debate. Most people know where I stand—if my name is being associated with something, I want to make sure that it is the best effort I can put out at that time. Even if that means saving up and postponing the release of a book until I have the money for an editor.

 

On one hand, many people argue they have enough beta readers, friends and family to do a very good job at catching the punctuation, grammar, and selling mistakes within their work. On the other hand, editors—GOOD editors—do so much more.

 

Here’s the thing. In my own experience, as each person’s varies significantly, editors will catch the nitty-gritty, finicky and bothersome problems above, as well as catch things like whether everything is staying within context. They will look over your characters as they are written and let you know if their mannerisms have changed unexpectedly. They will remind you (possibly for the six-hundredth time) about the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’ and ‘breath’ and ‘breathe’.

 

Editors are, or at least SHOULD be, unbiased. What I mean is, they will make their suggestions and criticisms based on the work you sent to them, and that only. They don’t care if you have been up late, bleary eyed with a baby and that’s why you dropped out on the descriptions of one situation, they don’t care if you have been sick and rushed through a chapter. Of course, they should care. And if they are really invested in your work, they will be. But they won’t allow you to use this as an excuse.

 

Sometimes, the sympathy our helpers like friends and family give our writing can be detrimental to the process of publishing and as growing as writers.

 

Now, I have seen both scenarios—indie authors who self-edit with the aid of a few unprofessional helpers, and those who dish out hundreds and thousands for professional help. And, in both cases, I have seen both good and bad results. But, for anyone who hasn’t had a professional edit their work, I say go for it. Just once. See what comes of it.

 

I guarantee you, once you find that editor that’s right for you, as not all are meant for every writer, your writing and editing will grow in leaps and bounds.

 

And that book, or poem, or essay you are releasing? It might just go from a good piece of writing to a masterpiece…

Well, another year of NaNoWriMo is complete and while some are lamenting their personal failures, others are revelling in their wild successes (over 100k in one month? Really??). 

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I myself am just happy to have crawled through that finish line, with just over 51,000 words and 2.5 hours to spare. It was different this year, very very different. For one, I was not working on one piece but two, both book four of my series as well as the novella. I have to admit though, when things got tough between my lovers, sexual tensions raising among the thriller genre, it was nice to have my other main character to lean on for a while. Him and his irritatingly good cheer, his natural tendencies to piss off those around him and his overbearing confidence gave me a fun reason to write. 

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I found that while I was uncertain of where his story was going to take us, and whether it would be interesting enough to become the novella I had promised, this backstory is actually a good one. I risk saying this right now as a young Jakob is growling at me from within my skull, calling me an "asshole" for even having the balls to insist that HIS story may not have been interesting. Ok buddy, ok, get back into the creative part of my brain. I'll continue with you later, I swear. 

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Of course, now that NaNo is over I need to switch gears again, returning to book two for one last self-edit. I had really wanted to have this book to my beta readers by the middle of November, but there just wasn't time. Not with writing frantically, promoting Life's Defeat, author takeovers, getting sick, seven year old's report cards and toddlers learning "no". But now I can, and with 51k words more depth and understanding into the current and future characters in the series I feel I can go back to book two with a new perspective. 

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Things will change in the beta process, I know that, it is inevitable. But now that I have a direction for it I feel I can solve a few of the problems I had been mulling around.

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To bring this back around, change is really what it's all about, isn't it? NaNo I mean. The ability to change your habits, to commit to writing a ton of words, whether good or bad, in one month, the choice to disregard any nonsensical fluff that simply needs to be regurgitated before the real writing can be brought out. Or maybe the nonsensical fluff is really useful, maybe it is the focus of your next NaNo project. Hmm...

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Either way, whether you wrote 50,000 words or 5,000, saw it through to the bitter end or realized half way that this was not going to be your month to cross that finish line, I applaud you. Great things come out of Novembers challenge, wonderful novels and poems, playwrights and writers, enthusiasts of fan fiction and serious analysts of Shakespeare all commingling for one month, supporting each other and realizing that it isn't the word count that mattered but just that they wrote something.

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After all, it wasn't the thinking and planning that mattered, it was the doing. 

Here's to a successful NaNoWriMo 2015, the hibernation that is sure to ensue for a short while, and the NaNoWriMo 2016 that is only 365 days away....
  

I have been very touched lately by the support given by friends, family, acquaintances, and people I don't even know that are in various writing groups and pages I am involved with. I'm not sure if these people who have pledged to attend the launch and buy my book have even read the excerpt I have up on my website, but I sure hope so. While blind faith is wonderful, it would be nice to know that my story is intriguing as well.

I have been wetting the appetite of my editor with small hints into chapters of the next books and she is eager to read them. With any luck I can break even on this book (my first goal, since it is rare to do that apparently) and then get far enough ahead to fund the next one. I really believe it is a good series - my characters are solid, their journeys agonizing, and either way their tales must be told.

Saying this, I am also hopeful that my readership likes the evolution of the series. Like the series title, this follows the evolution of several peoples lives, beginning at defeat and despair, travelling into hope, exploring legacy and then love. All are thrillers, but the subgenre (if I can call it that) changes from more of a science fiction/futuristic feel to one of romance near the end. It has to evolve. Life evolves. The characters evolve. Yes, there is still a fair amount of increasing violence (people who like G.O.T will love the war scene near the end of the second book I think). Again, this is the evolution of life, after all.

In closing, thank you again for all the support I have received. It means the world to me to have such a wonderful support system.

A friend found this fantastic article that should be read by all writers.

I never really thought about the divide between protagonist and main character. However, after having looked back at some of my books, there is definitely that separation with a few of them.

 

Enjoy!

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/protagonist-and-main-character-same-person-the-answer-may-transform-your-story/

It is amazing to me how time passes, apparently so quickly sometimes. I can't believe that we are over half way through August already. Before I know it my oldest will be back in school, and time will pass even quicker. Halloween will be here, then Christmas, Valentine's and then wrap up ballet recitals and school plays. My favorite sitcoms will end, the snow will finally cease and before I know it, I will be back here, saying these words once again in another year. 

I wish I could slow time down. 

But in the end we all have to live our lives. We can't avoid doing things just to make time run slower, we can't will more time to exist. And so I am just going to try to do what I can to enjoy the fleeting moments as I can right now. 

I will try to remember when my little guy is yelling incoherent babble at me that soon enough he will be a young man playing sports and eyeing up love interests. I will try to remember that my daughter is very quickly (way too rapidly) blossoming from a little girl into a teenager. I will try to recall that day I said "I do" nine years ago and embrace the fact that my husband and I are still young, and can still literally do anything we want to. 
A little morbid, these thoughts of time fleeting. 

i have received the first draft of the cover design and boy is it ever beautiful! I cannot express the excitement that is mounting as I see my name typed on a book cover. It is becomming very real that in one short month I will have my own novel printed and in hand. There have been a few delays but thankfully those have been sorting out themselves. 

I still plan to have the printed copies by the middle of September and barring any printing delays or massive errors when the proof copy comes in, we should be able to stick on schedule.