Tag Archives: Advice

Give A Little, Would Ya?

Lately I’ve found myself sharing my experiences with other writers as though I’m some sort of “Johnny Appleseed” of indie authors, planting my advice wherever I can. Let’s get that idea debunked now: I’m not an expert.

But what I am is a person willing and eager to share my experiences with the hope they will help someone else. My experiences might not be the most relevant or the most powerful, but they are mine not to keep to myself, but to share with others.

germ-2871773_640I belong to several indie author Facebook groups where new and experienced writers can exchange their stories and learn from one another. I’ve taken it upon myself to answer a lot of questions from the newer authors because if I were in their shoes, I’d want someone doing that for me.

It’s paying it forward and we need more of that.

Navigating the often difficult path to indie writing and publishing can be daunting without the proper guidance. I’m not going to say I know it all or I’m an expert by any means. My mistakes and low sales are evidence to that. But I do have experiences that if shared, can help others after me grow faster and possibly sell way more than me. And I’m cool with that.

I don’t see indie writing and publishing as a cut-throat scenario where I’m gonna keep my successes (and failures) to myself so others will be at a disadvantage. I want us all to rise up and be better. As fellow writer and all around good-guy Brian K. Morris says, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.” If I succeed, I want other writers there with me.

There are always unscrupulous people out there in every facet of life; indie publishing is no different. Sometimes the advice or experience I share might benefit them too. It’s a price to pay for being willing to open up with others.

I hope you’d consider sharing your experiences, good and bad, with other writers and people in your life when you can. We should all be learning and growing. Our advice and recommendations may make it easier for others and might help them surpass our own efforts.

Cool, bring it on. Let’s all grow better together!


ForgottentrilogyCoverLast week I posted about reviews. This week, I’d like to ask for them.

My boxed set of The Forgotten Chronicles: The Complete Trilogy is chilling on the various ebook retailers all alone without a review to accompany it. Would you be willing to leave an honest review? If you bought the boxed set or read the trilogy on its own, you can leave a review for it on Amazon. For the other retailers, you’d have to actually buy the trilogy. So…if you could help a brother out, that would rock. I plan on running promos in the near future and as I posted about last week, many services need to see a certain number of reviews before they’ll promote your book.

Thank you!

 

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Just Finish Already!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: FINISH YOUR STORY! Get to the end, no matter how good that end is. Finish the dang thing already, will ya?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from writers or would-be writers about how they’ve gotten so far into a story and can’t finish. Or how they’ve started umpteen stories and haven’t finished a single one.

I get it, kinda. Writing sucks at times. A great idea loses some of its vitality when it goes from a fluid impression in your mind to hard, unyielding words on a screen or paper. When you see the dark print staining the white screen, they’re real. They’re mocking. They tell you “Hey, psst, you can’t do this. You can’t finish. Why bother? Who’s gonna read it anyway?”

Don’t listen to them! Honestly, don’t. They’re bad. They want to suck the life out of you. Think vampire, but worse cause they won’t let you sparkle.

wrestlers-646524_960_720What to do instead? Sneer at them. Thumb your nose at them. Show them who’s boss by adding more words until…until the end. Don’t let them linger like a bad odor. Spray febreeze on those things and own ’em. This is no holds barred, super-ultra-submission kinda stuff. If you can’t handle it, maybe you ought to rethink what you’re doing.

I don’t say that to be mean. I want you to finish your stories probably more than you do! I want you to be proud of what you’ve accomplished. I know that feeling. It rocks! I want you to rock too! They’re called rock bands, not rock individuals. But if the thought of finishing a story scares you–

Look, you don’t have to listen to me. Who am I to give advice anyway? I understand. I wouldn’t listen to me either to be honest. I tend to make my own path when it’s clearly been marked and paved, but hey, such is life.

So if you don’t listen to me, listen to that tiny voice in your mind reminding you to finish that story. It’s right you know. You need to buckle down and get to work. Your story is your story, know what I mean? Only you can tell it like you tell it.

The sense of accomplishment when the story is over is amazing. I want you to experience that, because it’s addictive. Of all the things in this world to get addicted to, I think this is one your doctor will be cool with.

So for the last time: FINISH THE DAMN STORY!

Giving Back

Advice from other writers is always something to take carefully. We all have our way of doing things and we all come to success in our own way (I’m still trying to find mine!)

I enjoy encouraging other writers or would-be writers. I know what it’s like to dream of being a writer. I know how it felt when I started and I was clueless to much of the process. I know what it’s like to fret because no one knows who I am or has read my work. It sucks.

I’ve had several writers extend a hand or helpful words of wisdom and that’s been awesome.

Whenever I get the chance to help someone else out I jump on it. Who knows where the next major talent is? In this world of indie publishing where the market is oversaturated with works from misguided “writers” to super-talented authors, I want to encourage and lift up those that need a voice, that need an audience because they’re so talented and others need to know.

Have you heard of Aaron Hamilton, Thomas Gunther, Pamela Morris, Ray Wenck, Brent Harris, or Christa Yelich-Koth? Maybe, but it’s more likely you haven’t. They’re all super talented authors of scifi and/or horror (Or in Ray’s case, thrillers). I love sharing these types of writers with others because we can all use a hand once in a while. We may write by ourselves, but we need a team to share the word about our work.

One of the things I enjoy most about selling at Cons is meeting new authors/writers that are unsure what to do with their work or how to get started. I am as transparent as possible. Indie publishing is not a guarded secret, though many who haven’t tried it are as lost as I was when I started. I share my experience with anyone that asks, encouraging them to work hard at their craft and what pitfalls to watch out for. Not that I have “best-selling author” advice, but I’m more than willing to share my experience in hopes that it will inspire them to take their own journey.

Their voice, like those of the authors listed above, might be what we need next.

I hope when I meet new writers seeking advice they seek additional voices. The more information they can gather, the better informed they’ll be and maybe, just maybe, they’ll break through and be the next major indie sensation. Or maybe not. They may simply be fulfilling a lifelong goal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing

When I started this writing journey, I was naive to the complexities of it all. I guess in it’s most basic state, writing is just me and the words on the screen or paper. It’s when I started sharing those words that things changed. Here are ten things I learned since I started (in no particular order).


Editing is your best friend. I didn’t understand the serious need for revision and editing. I knew those things were important, but as I progress in my career, it’s abundantly clear how vital good editing is to my work. And I can’t do it on my own.

Sometimes the first draft is hard to finish. The moment I start revising parts of the first draft before it’s finished, I bog myself down and the pace of my writing slows to a crawl. That’s not good. I need to get that draft out, warts and all, as quickly as possible so I can jump in and fix it after it’s done.

I’ll never please everyone with my work. As much as I love what I write, not everyone will see it that way. It’s ok. Art is never universally accepted. There will be some who it doesn’t work for and that’s fine.

articulated-male-818202_960_720Writing is not a solitary endeavor. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not an individual act. Sure, the writer creates and physically writes the story on their own. However, to make it work, we need other sets of eyes to help us tighten our prose. And once that’s done and you want to share it with the world, you need others to spread the love. It takes a team of dedicated individuals to make that happen. I find it best not to piss off those that can help.

Family and friends don’t always support you. I gotta start by saying I have a tremendous amount of support from a lot of my family and friends. They might not agree with the subject of my stories, but they’re super supportive of my work. Then there are those that can care less. Yeah I spent a ton of time working on perfecting my stories, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Just because they are family or friends doesn’t mean they’ll automatically help or buy the book or leave a review. And thats ok. They are under no obligation to do so. If they sell Mary Kay cosmetics does that mean I have to buy them? No. Same with my writing. It’s cool.

Rejection isn’t personal. Let me restate that: rejection isn’t personal. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual. For whatever reason, the story didn’t work for that person. Cool. Move on. Try someone else. Revisit your story to see where the holes are. Send it out again. And again. And again. Maybe try a different market. Whatever the case, remember rejection isn’t personal.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You hear so many uplifting stories about people leaving their day jobs to become full-time authors. I would love to have that kind of financial success from my writing. However, unless your book goes viral and everyone under the sun suddenly wants to read it, this takes time and patience. Lots of it. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. If you have a passion for your craft and continually seek to improve, your chances of this happening are better, but not guaranteed.

work-1627703_960_720Everybody has advice. Take it at your own peril. Many people mean well, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do. Talk to fifty different authors and you’ll get fifty different answers. Sift through this massive trove of opinions carefully. Try different things, but always be wary of the advice given. How to find the best and most trustworthy advice? I don’t have an answer. I take in a lot of suggestions and sometimes I’ll try them, sometimes not. It’s a personal thing I guess. Just be careful with what “rules” you follow given to you by others.

Self publishing is easy, getting noticed is not. I couldn’t believe how incredibly easy it was to get my stories uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It literally was a click or two and *poof* done. That’s it. But that’s also why indie authors are slammed by critics and readers. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I spent a lot of time revising and editing my first collection of stories to leave the best impression I could with potential readers. I still had a few errors in my work. Then when it came to earning eyes on my stories, that was (and still is) a difficult process. I’m basically asking someone to use their hard earned cash to buy a book from an author they don’t know and invest their time with me. That’s a big ask. I better deliver with my work or they won’t come back.

You will have to sacrifice if you want to succeed. When I started writing, I played a lot of video games. One day I came to the realization that the time spent playing games on the Xbox was time spent not writing. How could I hope to grow as a writer and create new work if I spent my time playing games? I stopped cold turkey. I didn’t join my friends on our weekly game night anymore. I didn’t spend hours on a Saturday morning hunting achievements. Instead, I used that time to write more and read more. I’ve whittled down my gaming to two mobile games, that’s it. I miss those gaming sessions, but if I wanted to be serious about my craft, I had to make concessions somewhere.


There you have it, my ten things learned since I started as a writer. As you start your journey or are knee deep in it, how do these compare to your experiences?

Feel free to like, share, and comment. Thanks!

“Self to Younger Self, Come in!”

Have you ever thought about what you’d tell your younger self if you could? Or if your younger self would even listen?

I have.

I’d tell my younger self not to be afraid. Risks are the ultimate double edged sword. If it pans out, you have the opportunity to achieve something great. If it flops, there’s a possibility of physical or mental pain.

There were so many times when I was younger that I’d not do something out of fear. Opportunities would present themselves but instead of taking that risk, I’d shrink from it and who knows what awesome things I missed out on.

That’s funny to say as a former skateboarder too. The entire act of skateboarding is a giant risk. In order to improve or learn new tricks I had to risk injury. Though I skated for well over a decade, my progress stagnated and I never became a great skater, just an ok one. Most of that I attribute to my younger self worrying about failure in a physical sense and not pushing myself harder. I was afraid of the negative consequences of the risk.

JayanddDoug
Me (on the right) and my friend Doug.

Heck, I barely made the connection with a girl who would later turn out to be my wife of over twenty years now and the mother of our son. I knew my wife when I was in high school and I worked with her at a local fast food restaurant. I knew she liked me but I was afraid to talk to her, afraid of possible rejection. That was a risk too high for me. If it wasn’t for my friend Doug having break the same time as her one fateful day, who knows what might have happened? Without any urging from me, he got her phone number and gave it to me, telling me she wanted me to call. I did. We set up our first date and over twenty four years later, we’re still together. But I might have missed it entirely because I was too afraid to say anything.

Fear is tough to overcome. But if we risk it, if we just try, we might end up with something amazing. Or we might not, but the point is to try. Failure is not the end, but another beginning. My younger self didn’t understand that. I like to think I do now.