On Saturday I gave a lecture and workshop at Pine Plains Library, in upstate New York. This was my second straight year presenting for IAD. Instead of most presenters that I’ve seen, who give lectures on publishing and marketing, I focused on the actual craft. It doesn’t matter how great a writer you are, you can always be better (myself included), something so many writers forget. Being an author is a combination of narcissism and humility, and the second part is what helps you grow.
A general version of the lecture “The Hero’s Journey: It’s No Myth” is available on my website, but I was a teacher, and I’m best when I work out loud. I make jokes and obscure references. I bring props (usually toys). In this case, I brought tissue paper “plot points” and threw them back and forth with the crowd. I used a Snoopy Snow Cone Machine as a brainstorming prompt.
I miss teaching.
Indie Author Day is coming up, and I will be giving a presentation for a local library on writing (as I often do). But I cringe whenever I hear someone call themselves an “indie author.” Here are some reasons why. Feel free to add your own (or refute mine) in the comments
No author works alone: “Indie” comes from independent, and there is no such thing as a truly independent author. While writing the first draft may be a solitary endeavor, everything after that is a group process. An author has beta readers, editors, proofreaders, layout artists, cover artists, promotional groups (like RaveReviewsBookClub, which I belong to), and so on.
To call yourself indie is to say that these people don’t matter. Of course they matter. They make your book better, and to say that they aren’t a part of the process is arrogance. You do not create a book in a vacuum.
Getting reviews is painful. There’s the struggle to actually get the review, as most readers don’t bother to review the book (even though that’s the best thing that they can do for an author). The other is the fear from putting yourself out there for critique and the knowledge that a bad review can sink a book’s sales. In fact, many reviewers and other authors will give their competitors 1 star reviews out of spite. That makes me so angry that my eyebrows furrow into one Uberbrow (the Uberbrow is a fearsome beast). We’re not competitors. It’s not like there’s a limited number of books to read, and the goal is to hook new readers for everyone. Once someone gets the book bug in them, they’re a reader for life.
Reviews are rare, so it’s perfectly acceptable for me to jump up and down when I get one, especially when it glows like Bruce Leroy at the end of The Last Dragon (and if you haven’t seen The Last Dragon, watch it RIGHT MEOW). Here’s the review:
This month, to coincide with the 99 cent sale for The Watchmage of Old New York, I signed up to advertise in several newsletters. It worked. My sales have shot through the roof! I’ve never had a sales rank so high. At what rank do I get to call myself “best selling?”
I don’t know if it’s cost effective yet, but I think that it’s a better plan that just using free sites. Use both. Use Twitter, use your blog, join a promo club like #RRBC. Try everything.
Try everything: that’s a pretty good motto in life. You only level up through experience.
Level up. Become epic. Oh, and buy “Watchmage” while it’s 99 cents. You’ll (probably) not be disappointed. The only mediocre review it’s received so far was “3 stars. Imaginative, but silly. Good for teens.” I can’t argue with that. There’s a lot of absurdest humor in it, but plenty of gritty stuff too. It’s a pretty good mirror of this website: sometimes I’m dark and gritty, sometimes I’m philosophical and political, most of the time I’m weird.
Viva la weird.