It’s pretty obvious what this is going to be about. But we’re going to do it with vocals today! This is a serious issue so hearing it straight from the messenger’s mouth. Here we go!
I’ve heard it said many times that it is vital for a starting author to cultivate their position in the authorial community. Frequent forums, comment and support blogs, and provide what support you can for other starting authors, those were watchwords. Some even would take it to the unfortunate (and unethical) extreme of suppressing negative reviews or inflating them into positive reviews. That, though, is the extreme, and there’s nothing wrong with the rest of it. In fact, taking our own experiences with the art of writing and giving it to others is a way for all of us to improve our craft.
I made my second start at writing thanks to Kickstarter. It gave me the funds to move forward, to get my books written, and pushed me forward to be seen and picked up by my publisher. So when I was approached the other day by another author looking to do the same, I took the time to read through his writing to see if I should help.
Darrell Drake’s been doing some mighty fine cooking. I’ve read the first few chapters of his current draft and I want to read it all. I’m going to hold off … but that’s only because I want to save it for the final, clean, fully revised book. I’ve put some of my very few munnies down on the barrel for this project and I suggest you take a look at it yourself.
Here’s the link:
There’s a lot on the plate today!
First up, here’s another cool unsolicited review for The Tale of the Tape up on Amazon.com! Check it out here.
Second, I’m proud to announce that the full revised edition of Indefatigable is now published. This means that all of my books have now been cleaned up to the professional standards I have learned over this past year of blood, sweat, and tears. A big thanks to everyone who has been both supportive and critical over this time! Now I can move on to NEW BUSINESS!
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I have now started a Patreon campaign to help support both my writing and my blogging. There will be some nice rewards for Patrons, such as a Patreon-only serial novel. The main thing that regular readers of this blog will see is that the last Starving Review each month will be Patreon-powered, reviewing a book chosen by Patreon supporters. These Patreon reviews will start in June for sure, but may start this month if there is sufficient patronage by then.
Check out the page and hopefully I can count on your support!
Good reading, good writing, and good luck!
A quick bit of an article before I dig into Chapter 21 of The Twelfth Labor but I think this is an important topic to not only talk about, but continually reiterate! Let’s talk about one of the most important forms of support an independent author can receive: word-of-mouth support.
Look, the fact of the matter is that there are tens of thousands of indie books out there. The e-book market especially is flooded with them. The saying goes that ‘everyone has a story in them’ and, now, everyone can get that story published and internationally distributed! Every indie book, good or bad, classic-to-be-discovered or affront to literature, is lost in that sea and who’s to say if any will ever be discovered.
That’s where the readers have to step in. If you read indie books and find one you truly enjoy, it really should be your duty as a responsible reader to rate it, review it, and share it with others who may be interested in it. Many people still attach a prejudice to the very idea of indie books, instantly connecting them to a lower quality than ‘professionally published books’. That critical ‘word-of-mouth’ endorsement can break through that prejudice. While someone may hold that bias, they will almost always listen to their friends’ opinions over it. Once their foot is in the door, the book itself will then carry the day.
The truth is that all the social media wizardry in the world (though not pointless, it has a place in this grassroots network) won’t get you that many readers without something to hold up to show them that there is a reason to take a chance, to leave that indie bias behind.
It comes down to this:
- If you read indie books, rate them. Review them, even if it’s a simple paragraph. Share them.
- If you are an indie author, encourage your readers to do number 1 above. Don’t just tell them to rate YOUR book. Try to encourage them to break the trend of inactivity for everything they read.
- If you already do all of the above, well, kick back, crack open a cold drink, and enjoy the boons of responsible action!
Good luck and good writing … and good reading!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for this starving author. Reading, reviews, planning for the future, reunions with family … oh RIGHT WRITING TOO! Yes, despite all the blogging and reviewing and general nonsense, I’m still, you know, writing and it was today’s work that reminded me of a very important thing to avoid as a writer, something that I think also applies to many other things in life. Avoid echo chambers!
What’s an echo chamber, you may ask? Well, physically, it’s just like it sounds: a room where you can hear your own echoes from what you say. Really, though, when I talk about them, I mean in a more metaphorical sense. What I mean is engaging in situations where you have no outside feedback, when you write and create with only yourself as the sole judge and editor.
Now, despite what you may think, you as an author don’t always have the best ideas. Your core concepts might sparkle but there’s a good chance you’ll make a poor decision somewhere along the way as you write your works. There’s also a decent chance you’ll catch it on your own. Your gut will nag at you and you’ll realize, in the end, that it was a bad idea. The problem comes in when you don’t catch it or, just as bad, when you are nervous about an idea only for it turn out to be a great one and you take it out.
This is just one of the many reasons why you, the author, are your worst editor and your worst beta reader. YOU already know what you mean and what you want to say. Left to your own devices, your brain will often change up the input as you try to look back over it, filling in blanks and mentally correct typos. This is bad, this will mess up what you do! It’s hard enough to get a perfect book (I haven’t managed it yet myself!) WITH outside help. So don’t try to go it alone, relying on yourself as the best judge of things. Get help. Get support. Get editors. Get beta readers.
Don’t get lost in the sound of your own voice in the echo chamber!
As you know and will probably get sick of hearing about, I have started a Kickstarter to raise funds for furthering my writing (insert cheap plug here). What I didn’t mention about it was that it took a tremendous amount of nerve to actually click the ‘Start campaign’ button. You might think that strange. After all, in essence, Kickstarter is a no-risk venture, the worst that can happen is you don’t make your goal and don’t make any money.
The thing is, there IS a risk, a very big one: a risk to my ego, my sense of self-worth. That may sound like the start of a pity party, but consider that, for a serious author, their writing is drawn from themselves. It’s a tapestry woven from heartstrings and bits of our souls. In essence, an author puts themselves on the line whenever they write and present it forth for the public. If the masses recoil in horror or, perhaps worse, ignore the works they see, what message does that send to the author? In essence, it is a judgement on the worth of the author and the work they have poured themselves into.
Now, we come to the title of this piece. Anxiety, fear of the future, can be a crippling roadblock to a writer. The moment a writer (or any artist really) puts their work out for the public to see, they put their souls on display. It is understandable why so many people dabble in writing but never become more than that. It’s not just the financial risks (though there are plenty of those) or any social stigma; there is the very real fear of rejection of that very real part of you by others. That anxiety can be so crippling that you never hit that ‘Publish’ button or the ‘Start campaign’ one. Your finger creeps back and you tell yourself that you just can’t do it.
All we can do as writers, creators, and readers is to encourage us to try. We have to support each other to fight through the anxiety, to pick ourselves up after every failed attempt, and keep going. Every rejection letter, every abrasive comment, every blank look from those who just don’t care, those are the slings and arrows we have to help each other to get past. Fear can be overcome. We do it every time we put pen to paper to write a new first chapter or scribe the first line of a play or the opening stanza of a poem. Let’s not stop now.