From the outside, one could easily look at the independent and self-publishing community as weird, a big joke, or even bizarre. Through my years of jumping from self-published, to being signed to a small press, and back again I have seen many conflicts arise. Authors/writers becoming upset in a vague post or this person saying something or that person not understanding. I can understand fully how frustrating it is and can be.

I wanted to write this in hopes of helping someone, anyone, to understand some of the common things you’ll see, hear, or experience from the outside looking in.

It’s easy and they’re lazy

The professionals among us would argue this until we’re blue in the face. There is nothing easy about what we do. Some parts might come easier to us than others, but that’s just life. Those of us that take this very serious talk about ‘the marathon and not the sprint’. Those that come into the field that sprint to the end (publishing) make more mistakes than those of us that understand the long game, the marathon. Mistake over mistake will eventually get noticed, by the community and readers. This is not easy! In it for the long run is hard, tedious, and so worth it for us.

It’s not a real job

What makes it ‘not a real job?’ We pay taxes (yearly or quarterly). We put hours in (months or even years on a single project). If anything many of us will learn multiple skills along the way. For example: When I began self-publishing I hard to learn marketing, formatting, video editing, new art programs, learn new techniques to keep up with trends and pace of others marketing, and learn better ways to time-manage, stick to a schedule, and how to work with the not so friendly co-worker. Sure sounds like a job to me!

They’re all coffee-addicts

Maybe…but what else are we suppose to use when we need to be rejuvenated? A lot of us like to joke, does that mean we’re not able to take things seriously too?

Self-published books aren’t that good, the quality just sucks

If you’ve come across one that isn’t of decent quality then frankly that dear reader is an author that tried to sprint or hired a non-professional to work on their book. Many books, done by professionals, are highly checked, scanned, edited, formatted, and the whole process before publishing happened. Even then, sometimes just sometimes, a misspelling will get through. That misspelling is a warrior god that made it through many rounds of a battle and more than anything should be given a great feast.

Small book press are just scams

Lies! Vanity presses are scammers and are not the same as a small book or independent publishing house.

Self-published, hybrid published, or independently published writers really don’t have talent.  If they had any they’d be traditionally published.

That’s a big ol’ negatory. There have been many traditionally published authors that have decided to go self-publish or chose to go to a smaller press for various reasons. Does that mean they’re not talented? Many chose to publish self or go to an indie press because that’s what they wanted. If a smaller press picked them they had to have some amount of talent to have gotten their manuscript picked up.

Participation Time!

What are myths that you have come across or even though? Let’s get a discussion going!

I’ve said it many times before, too much perhaps, how writing began as a therapy for me. I came across a blog post that made many good points toward the subject of writing and therapy. I’ve never hidden that I have been in therapy, I call it mental maintenance, and it was suggested to me and others have shared they were suggested to write as well. It’s an emotional purging.

I began writing in my youth as an attempt to control a world I had no control in. I wrote about famous people liking me and thus those around me would too. I know, it’s almost sad, but I was little and in all honesty, I can’t hide my roots, I’ve chosen to embrace them. It’s where my writing began, my trying to help myself began, and it really did a lot for me at the time that has trickled through even to this day.

Some of our best ideas, as writers, come in those moments as our eyes are drifting and we’re about to fall asleep. BAM! The muse has hit us and we scramble for the nearest writing anything to scribble it down. It can be a bit of dialogue or merely a concept, but it must be written down. We have also felt that horrible gut feeling of forgetting if we haven’t written it down as well.

I’ve written about a purging method (check it out at Horror Tree) toward writing that has helped me. I’ve never been an ‘outliner’ type of writer. I have come to learn that I’m not alone with that when I took the workshop held by James Patterson (read the post here).

My best tips are:

  • Always park a notebook and pen/pencil for emergency muse wallops.
  • Writing can be therapeutic, write down EVERYTHING! You never know what could be used.
  • If you want to organize, keep a notebook separately for your thoughts, dreams, and story ideas. Even though at the moment they may seem different you just can never tell where and when inspiration may come to you. Lots of nightmares have helped me fill in the gaps of plots and stories.
  • Don’t force anything (unless you’re on a deadline then get that shit done!)
  • Keep private thoughts as private as you want if you’re doing it to work out some things in your life. Remember you DON’T have to share anything with anyone, you don’t even have to tell someone if you’re in therapy. Heck, if you don’t want to you don’t have to even publish something if you don’t feel its to the best you can.

Before Publishing

Before you ever step forward with your finished manuscript there are choices to be made. Are you going to self-publish or submit to a publishing house? What the hell does it mean to be a hybrid? What’s a vanity press? I hope today’s post helps answer some of your questions.

  • Self-publish: Self-publishing means you’re putting up the funds to pay for the work required before publishing and ultimately publishing yourself.
  • Independent-publish/small publisher: Being ‘indie’ means you’re publishing through an independent publisher. An independent publisher will usually publish your book if they think it’s good enough, fits under their umbrella of genre(s) they publish, or if you’ve published before with them. (This can vary greatly publisher to publisher so don’t go saying I gave a definite in for you because it won’t work). They are not associated with the ‘top five’ or the bigger publishers, for example, Random House. They will help fund some of the cost or even all of it depending, but you may be asked to carry some of the weight if you want something special, for example hiring that one artist that does cover work you love so much.
  • Hybrid: A hybrid is someone who is publishing both ways. You can do this and it’s common for many authors to be this, having titles with publishers and titles they’ve self-published. It’s not a bad thing.
  • Vanity Press: These are where many want-to-be published fall victim. I’ve seen it many times. Vanity Press prey on the naivety of those new coming to the industry. They’re also referred to as ‘pay to publish’ because that’s how they work. You will fork up a bunch of money to ‘be published’ when the reality is a publisher, that’s legit, will be investing in you and your work, not the other way around. I really hate this kind of publisher cause in no way should it be considered a legit or viable way to be published. It’s a big ol’ scam.

Things to consider or remember:

  • To agent or not to agent? Many that want to go the route of ‘the top 5’ need an agent. Agent inquiries really are the only way to be considered for a bigger publisher. Smaller or independent publishers don’t require this, just keep your eyes peeled for when submissions open up on their websites or social media.
  • Indie or self remember: You’re going to always have to be promoting your work. Some small publishers will help and some will not. Shouldn’t matter if they are or aren’t you should be out there nevertheless. If you aren’t doing it how can you ever expect anyone else to do it for you?
  • Believe in your work: You’ve put all the work into it so far, belief in yourself and what you’ve created will reflect in how you talk about your work, your projects, and people will want to check out what’s to be believed in.

Did any of this help you? What has? Share your story in the comments!

Early 2016 I decided to work on my craft. I thought perhaps taking a workshop or a class may help me, maybe. At the time that I was thinking these things, mulling them over before taking the leap, and making the investment, I saw a few of my fellow writers taking the masterclass offered by author James Patterson.

I did my research and I found that this course was set-up in a way that you could ultimately win the honor to co-author a story with him, that was not something I was interested in. I wanted purely to hear what he had to say about publishing, writing, and his experiences in his career. I’m sure for some they wanted to co-author something with the man to boost themselves, the attention toward any work they had previously published, or just to have the experience of working with him.(Those bragging rights ya know!?) But for me, I just wanted to learn. If I’m meant to work with someone of his status in the writing world then it’ll happen…eventually.

It was set-up very much in the way that a class is at any school would be. Homework and all! Participation was a part of the entire course, but it was also very isolating, at least for me. It was more like posting to comments under classes and doing assignments than what I had expected originally, but I’m flexible and over time this just was what it was. I would do the homework and watch the videos learning whatever it was I could from them. There was another way to connect to others in the course, that being a Facebook group dedicated to those that had paid to be a part of the program, but I rarely posted there if any at all.

What I ultimately learned is that some of his advice was more of a confirmation for me. The killer of inspiration is self-doubt and the ‘walking in the darkness’ feeling that can come from being in the independent writing industry. I’m not sure if that feeling can flow over into traditional publishing, but from the field that I am in it’s common. So many of my fellow writers have admitted they didn’t know what to do, if anything at all, to help themselves. I admit, in ways, I’m like this time to time even to this day with my wondering if anything I’m doing on social media is really helping me or not, but I just breathe, sip another bit of coffee, and hand it over to my networking that I’ve worked on to aid me along the way. (Tip: Word of mouth is always a fantastic way to get attention.)

My feelings were also confirmed that if you’re going to get anywhere you’re going to have to work to get there. This is something else I’ve seen in many fellow writers in the field. Especially those that believe that because they’re with an indie publisher their job of writing the story is done, it’s not! You must always promote yourself and your work. The publishing house will help, at least the good ones, and that coupled with your own efforts will over time get you a ‘buzz’.

I do recommend trying it out for yourself if for nothing else than to settle your nerves. For the price I paid, I have a lifetime access to everything which to me sounds like a bargain. Anytime I want to go back, check out things again, perhaps even brush-up I can.

Author Rissa Blakeley invited me to post on her website. After debating what to do, going back and forth for a week, I settled on formatting tips for those that may need some advice. This is directed at authors that will be needing digital formatting tips and where you can find a more in-depth look into formatting.

Guest post here.