Tag Archives: indie authors

Author Musings-When Your Family & Friends Don’t Read Your Book

I came across an interesting discussion on Twitter the other day. A fellow author had posed a question to us in the writing community.

Why doesn’t my family or friends read my work?

I was shocked and amazed at how similar everyone’s answer was and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. It was as if the silent question that had reverberated through my mind for years had been exposed and I realized it wasn’t just me asking the question.

Now, before any of my family or friends gets uppity-I love that word. Uppity- this is not a bashing blog post. I know someone is bound to get their panties in a knot, but just chill out, okay?

I came to several conclusions as I read responses and I suppose I wanted to share those as I finally address the somewhat forbidden question.

Your family and friends see you differently.

Your family has known you all your life. They know the good and they have witnessed the bad. To them you are not an author who actually has fans that anticipate your upcoming books. You’re the person they saw on a daily basis for many years and to even contemplate the notion that there are some out there who find you clever, amusing, or interesting is not something they can wrap their head around.

They may have a tinge of pride, but to them, they have watched you grow up and have read your Facebook status, complete with spelling and grammar errors.  To them you are a sister, a daughter, a cousin, or a mother.

Your friends have also been there for many aspects of your life and they have probably been privy to more than your family on some aspects of your character. They might support you and inquire every so often on what you have been up to, but are your friendships built on what you, or they do, for work or is it something deeper?

I know, for me personally, because I’m a writer, that if someone in my family or one of my friends wrote a book, I would read it.  If someone wrote a book that I knew, I would advertise it and share the links because that’s just what you do out of respect.

But on the other hand, do I like every photo or blog post that they share? No. I don’t.  Do I ask them all the time about their work? Nope, not really.

So, at the end of the day, am I just as guilty or is it because our work shouldn’t define our relationships with other people?

It’s an interesting question to pose because although our profession shouldn’t define us, it is still a big part of our lives. Perhaps we’re all guilty of discounting our family and friends’ work because we are more interested in other things that are going on with their lives.

They May Be Worried They Won’t Like Your Book

Let’s just get this out of the way before we move on. Guess what? Your family or friends may not like what you wrote and they don’t want to read it because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

I write fantasy/paranormal romance. I write stories with profanity and sometimes graphic sex scenes. Do I think my male cousins or religious friends are going to want to read that?

Yeah…no.

It’s cool. I get it. I think the issue with your family and friends not reading your stuff may also be because they don’t think they will be able to differentiate the main character and yourself. We all put something of ourselves into our writing and perhaps the images of you being the heroine may not be what they want to picture or read about.

Especially if there are sex scenes.

You may argue that’s not very mature and they should still support you, but let’s cut them some slack.

Moving on…

They Read Your Work and Hated It, But They Don’t Want to Hurt Your Feelings.

I’m going to put this out there right now. I read my first book and all I could see were errors. I have since had my first book edited heavily and I am now happy with it, but I can never go back to when it was first released.

After taking the time over the last few months to reformat my books, I can see a massive difference in my writing from when I started, but will your family and friends only remember the bad and that’s what’s holding them back from reading or supporting any more of your work?

Perhaps they have and they still don’t like any of your books. Maybe they just want to spare your feelings and are actually being kind. I can respect that, but do us self-published authors a favor. At the very least, share when we release a new book. Who knows? Maybe one of your friends will enjoy it more than you.

The Validation Question

Why do we write to begin with? Everyone may have a different philosophy. We may not want to admit this, but we do it for some kind of validation.

I can only tell you why I write and it’s not an easy admission for me to write down for everyone to see but here it is.

I write my stories because I want to read them. I do it for me and no one else. I started this journey because I was lost. I was a wife and a mother and for a long time those two things defined me. But I wanted more of an identity and I felt like my brain was bursting at the seams with stories.

I wanted to share them and I suppose, in a way, the more I wrote, the more I started to understand myself. It’s truly amazing. I found myself in my writing. That may sound corny, but it’s the truth. I felt more comfortable in my skin that I ever had before and it was empowering.

It still is actually.

I guess I have this need to share it with my family and friends because I want them to get me and get who I really am because I’m there in every line and every chapter that I write. I have shut myself off a bit since embracing the fact that, yes, I’m a writer, and I suppose this is my way of having a deep desire to give something of myself back to my loved ones since becoming distant.

What our family and friends need to realize that this is us. These words that we write are ourselves, open and bare for all to read. It’s deeply personal and as raw as it gets. You only have to look to realize this and that is why we want those closest to us to read our work.

We want them to know who we really are and we want to let them into our brain the only way we know how.

With words.

Perhaps we don’t express our feelings effectively, but everyone needs validation of their existence on some level and this is our way. You may not realize this and that’s okay. I don’ think we even admit this to ourselves very often.

Is it Really That Important for our Family and Friends To Read Our Work?

Yes and no.

It’s important for us to have our family and friends interested in our work. Just as it is equally important to be interested in theirs. We have to ask ourselves if we have also given our full support in their lives before we question their lack of enthusiasm.

After much research, I have come to the conclusion that to me, it’s not such a big deal as it used to be. I do not expect anyone I know to buy my books. I am happy doing my own thing and writing whatever I want without the worry that someone may not like it.

I know, I know, I always say it, but I can’t express this sentiment enough.

Write for yourself and no one else.

Don’t write for your family or friends. Don’t write a story that is more marketable or mainstream just because you want to be rich and famous.

Just write stories that mean something to you and only you.

Because when you’re all alone in front of your computer, it’s just you. There’s no one else and quite honestly, I kind of like that.

I put this poem in my first book, Isle of Skye. I used it because it had always spoke to me and I think it’s the perfect way to end this blog post.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 
~Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SXSW Monthly Collaboration: Juggling Writing and Editing at the same time.

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How excited am I to be working with the fabulous Val Day-Sanchez again?! Our monthly SXSW articles have been hard to write because we are both so busy and it’s nice to get back into the collaborative swing of things. This month we are focusing on the art of juggling both writing and editing.

 

Shannon’s Take:

It’s always difficult to brainstorm for articles with Val. We always have so many ideas and we are always on the same page that it is hard to pick just one. I have had several questions running through my mind lately and I recently asked one to a Facebook group for Indie Authors. It was fairly simple, but the answers I received were astounding.

I wanted to know what other authors thought about editing one book and writing another book at the same time. It turned into an extremely interesting forum because the more responses I got, the more insight I gained into the mind of fellow writers.

I almost had to laugh because it started to feel like a pissing contest. I had a few that answered right away and one of them them mirrored my thoughts that it almost feels like your cheating on one book if you write another.

I mentioned that I also think it’s important to take time in between each project and I was almost scoffed at, but not in an unfriendly way. The conversations were cordial, supportive and helpful, but again, I couldn’t help feel that everyone was trying to one up another.

One woman has four different books in various stages of production. She wrote that if you want to publish several books in a year then you have to work all the time. There were several other individuals that made similar statements.

I had an uncomfortable thought though, and it is one that I did not share because I did not want to seem rude, but if you’re focused on so many different books that you’re writing, can you really be churning out decent stories at such a fast pace?

Now, I have to be honest, I can’t imagine writing three or four different stories at once. When I write, I become deeply involved with my characters and their situations. The thought of even trying to disassociate myself from one book to another is impossible for me.

If I do have an idea for another story then I make notes so I can reference it later, but I have never even attempted to try and start another book when I am writing.

One man mentioned that it is possible to edit one book and write another at the same time, but it requires discipline and I agree. I think it easier to do that when you are writing a series and I have done it before with The Fae Witch Series.

I also vowed not to do that again, but here I am starting on book two of The Hidden Realm Series, The Fairyland Queen, while I wait for The Fairy Door to come back from my editor.

I have to be honest at the end of the discussion thread I almost felt an amateur loser, but then I realized something. We are all in the same boat. We’re all Indie authors trying to make our way in this tough world and we have to be on top of our game all the time.

We are the writer, the publisher, the promoter, and all those different hats have to be presented, as well as, articulated whenever we have that chance.

I do believe that each person that responded wanted me to know that it was possible to do several different aspects of writing at once, but I also feel that they were in a way promoting their abilities.

I was envious of the lot, I must say. There are some truly talented authors out there, but at the end of the day I need to do what’s best for me.

I tip my cap off to those that can achieve so much in a short amount of time. I know that I will never be able to write three or four different books at once. When I start something I need to finish it before I can move forward.

I have no interest in creating and writing several different characters, and stories because I feel that my characters deserve my full attention. Their story is important and one I must tell with every attention to detail, as well as, with my heart.

I’ve accepted that I will never be the kind of writer that publishes seven or eight books a year. I’m honest with the fact that I suck at promoting, and I have no interest in a Pulitzer.

I write for me. The stories I tell are what I want to read. Writing is not about making money, it’s about being able to express your creativity. I wish I could be more driven, but I can’t and frankly I don’t want too.

Again, I applaud you authors who are cranking books out left and right. I am amazed by the way some of you can compartmentalize different stories and characters at once.

Writing is my passion and if it ever started to feel like noose around my neck then I would probably stop publishing my stories. I know that the lure of fame and fortune can cloud your judgment as you type and edit furiously, but isn’t the process of writing enough to make your soul enriched with a deep sense of creative joy?

I think I’ll just stick with one at a time and adopt my son Wyatt’s favorite quote:

Slow and steady wins the race…

 

Val’s Take:

 

After a brief break, Shannon and I are back with our joint articles!!!  I missed her deeply and so this week when I emailed her it was kismet, as it so often is with the two of us.  We each had a few ideas for a topic to blog about and they were very similar (seriously I think she lives in my head, weird and a tad creepy I know, if I haven’t lost you yet, read on I promise it gets better/less weird).  We decided to talk about something that we’re both going through, juggling multiple writing projects.

I know that both Shannon and I, like most writers perhaps, have written the majority of their lives.  However they don’t get to pursue it full time, it’s a hobby until it make you money right?  That’s the society a lot of us grew up in?  Writing is something we love but could never dedicate the time to it that it truly deserved.  A little over 5 years ago I decided to do just that.  I was lucky to have the opportunity that was becoming a stay-at-home mom to an infant. It provided a work schedule all of its own doing but I got to write again and after I finished my manuscript I was determined to publish it.  And when I told people about it, it was described as a “once and lifetime experience.” But then, I had started a trilogy, I had never planned on once.  I didn’t let myself, I completely ripped the option from the table.  I was going to be a full-time writer.  And so in the beginning I could never conceive of multiple projects I was just so happy to be able to write. To make sense of my life; what it had been, what it was becoming that I was still feeling lucky.

Then Harlow was released.  Others were reading about her. The second book, when I asked for it, was hard-coming so I changed my life’s course again.  And when things had worked themselves out, I wrote the second book in three months, with ease.  But it had come clamoring through me, a mind of its own, I had no time to doubt. I wrote as if no one would ever see it.

Book 3 began the same way because we were going home, me and my characters knew who they were and what they wanted so again I didn’t ask for it, it appeared on the page, every line, every sentence.  Even when I edited, it finished my thoughts.

As Book three was seemingly flowing through my fingers Lucas Saavadra had showed up, said without much bossiness but full of confidence, that he was the protagonist of my first standalone novel.  How could I deny it?  I was going to write a book that I had no idea about except this singular character???  The moment I ignored it, went to back Book 3 to edit or complete it.  (An emotional wreck because it was over). I would have these conversations with Lucas and every time I tried to write it…It was garbage, nonsensical first draft ugliness.

I can’t be surprised that is how the entire project went.  So when I was finally publishing Harlow 3 Threshold was coming to a close.  But there lies the question.  Is it fair?

Are you cheating on your work?  I’ll let you know after I edit Threshold next week…​
Want more Val? Check out her links below:

Diary of an angry Indie Author Part 2: Bullying

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So since my last rant I have been researching why some in the publishing world seem to dislike indie authors and the results have been disturbing.

I have read articles from self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who continuingly bash self-publishing time and time again. My mouth gaped open in astonishment when one particular blogger proclaimed that we indie authors should not call ourselves authors and that he laughs out loud at the very mention of it by any self-published author.

Apparently if we do not belong to the Writers Guild and produce sufficient enough evidence of our earnings then we are not authors but simply writers.

Yes, that’s correct, we have no right to call ourselves authors.

It doesn’t matter how many books we have sold because if we don’t make a certain amount of money then we are just foolish people pretending to be something we are not. I found it funny how he brought up earnings because there is that reference again that is playing over and over in my head.

Like my last article stated, the publisher who lit a fire underneath me, was prompted to write about how it was a bad idea to give your book away using the Amazon KDP free promos.

Remember? We’re desperate and have given up on our work?

The publisher wrote this in response to the question of how we indie authors have cut into her and her authors royalties and I found it interesting that every article I read bashing indie authors were all along the same lines.

Why are they so threatened by us and why do they feel the need to tear us down every chance they get?

Is it, in the end, all about money?

I also noticed the comments in each article I read by self-published authors and the majority of them made me want to high five every one of them, but some of them made me scratch my head. I had a few moments when I was blinking my eyes in confusion and then it hit me.

They are desperate to get out of their self-imposed bubble of the indie world and venture into mainstream publishing. I believe that they are still living in the dream world, which don’t get me wrong it does happen, that major publishers will take a chance on them and I can’t say as if I blame them.

I read my Twitter feed and the tweets of my self-published followers are pushing their books so diligently and I usually feel like such a slacker because I have had a hard time doing that. I admire their dedication and I know how hard they work.

Do I wish on certain days that I could hand my manuscript off to some publisher so they can edit, market and sell my book?

Of course I do, but those feelings evaporate when my heart starts racing at the thought of entrusting my work to someone else. I’m not ready yet and I know it down deep, but there are plenty of authors who are tired of being on this self-publishing hamster wheel and want to get off so they can take a breath.

I think that’s what angers me the most. I read these articles which is nothing short of bullying and I think of all the authors I have met on Twitter. To in any way, shape, or form tell them that they should not call themselves authors because they self-publish is condescending and ignorant.

I have had over 20,000 downloads of my work and have made more than $5,000.00 this year. According to one self-publishing basher that qualifies me to get a little card that says I belong to some well- respected writing society.

You know what? I’m all set, thanks. I do not need a card nor do I need a title to throw up on my author page so that people know I’m ‘legit’ because in my heart I know that I’m an author and guess what? There are thousands of other writers who are as well and I’m proud of each and every one of them.

I chose to write this article, as well as my last one, so that when an aspiring indie author looks up self-publishing they know that there are people out there who will stand up for them and take them seriously.

I’m also writing it because I’m getting a little ticked off and I hate freaking bullies.