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!

5 Posts for Indie Authors

Indie authors have a tough time getting noticed in the sea of titles out there. Here are five posts to help give you an edge and the motivation to succeed.


Indie Author Finds Success Hitting the Festival Circuit

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Faced with a difficult time being discovered, author Raymond Depew hit the festival circuit to market and sell his books.


@#*&$it – Self-Publishing Does NOT Have to Cost You Anything

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Author K.S. Brooks breaks down how indie authors can publish their work for little to no money–and still turn out a great product!


15 Book Publicity Commandments

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Writer Carolyn Howard-Johnson discusses fifteen top practices when promoting your books.


Please Don’t Buy My Book

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Author David Gaughran breaks down launch success and failure for two of his books.


8 Myths about Book Sales That Authors Need To Ditch Now

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Writer Beth Bacon breaks down myths authors need to eliminate now!


 

Being an indie author, heck any author for that matter, is difficult. The more we as writers hone our craft and work on promoting effectively, the more chance we have to succeed and rise above the rest.

If you found something useful here, please like, comment, and share this post with others. Thanks!

 

Review Circles for Authors

Are you an indie author or an author looking for more reviews? Well, let me help!

I’ve created a private Facebook group to address this and hopefully help us all as we work on our promotions.

Let me get this out there to be clear: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW EXCHANGE! We will NOT review book for book. You will not be expected to review a book from an author who is reviewing you. That would make for a dishonest review (or at the very least, the temptation to leave a higher review since you’d expect them to give you a higher review). I don’t like how that works and I don’t condone it.

In it’s most basic form, it works like this:

Review Circle

 

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

All authors will be expected to buy the book they’re reviewing as long as it’s $1.99 or less. If it’s over that price point, I want the author to gift it to them or send the reviewer a free copy.

I prefer reviewers buy the book to give the review the “Verified Purchase” tag. But I also want people to stick around and if they gotta keep paying more than $1.99 per book for something they may or may not normally read, I feel it’s asking too much.

Reviewers will have two weeks to read and review the books. All authors participating must not argue with the review received. These are honest opinions and if your work isn’t up to par, work on it first.

All reviews are honest. If as an author you get a review lower than what you expect, please do not argue with the reviewer. By submitting to the Review Circle, that’s the chance we take. That’s what an honest review is. This is not an opportunity for us to hand out five star reviews “just because.” It’s meant to help each other gain honest reviews of our work. Honest doesn’t always mean pleasant. Again, please do not argue with the reviewer.

Reviewers, though you are tasked with leaving an honest review, please be courteous. We’re not trying to discourage our fellow authors with negative remarks. You can voice your opinion in a thoughtful and constructive manner. Please do not crush your fellow authors.

For the book you’d like to have reviewed, please make sure your book is well constructed and edited, preferably by a professional. This is not a Beta reading circle. We are working under the assumption your book is a final product. What we read is what any reader would read. Make sure it’s the best representation of your book.

Try to keep all books requesting a review under 350 pages or less. Since this is a fairly quick turnaround of two weeks, longer books won’t work well. If your reviewer is OK with a longer book, go ahead and submit it. If not, please consider a different book.

By participating in the Review Circle, you must be ok with reading various genres. I will try to assign reviewers according to their tastes but I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be in your wheelhouse. If that happens, please keep an open mind and review the book on its merits as a story, not on if you like the genre. We can all learn when reading outside our specific genres.


So that’s it. I’ve run something like this in a Facebook group I’m part of, but I think it’s time to branch out and start a group based solely on this premise. If you’d like to join and are ready to be reviewed while offering your honest reviews, please send over a request to join the Review Circle for Authors Facebook Group. Thanks!

Indie Author Pricing: Ebooks

When you purchase books, what are you honestly willing to pay for an ebook?

Recently I had a lively discussion with fellow authors who participate in the Heggerwood Showcase (If you don’t know what that is, check it out here). The topic was ebook pricing. From that discussion comes the topic of this post.

Let me start off by saying I am not expert. I’m not a best-seller. Heck, I’m barely a seller at all! However I do have two qualifications that inform my thoughts on this topic.

First, I work in sales. I have for the last sixteen years. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I know what a customer is willing to pay, what they’re willing to hand over their hard earned cash for. I understand they need value for their money. I get it.

Secondly, I’m a reader and consumer myself. I know what I’d pay for something. I have my limits. More on this in a moment.

As an author, especially an indie author who has total control over costs and pricing, how do you determine what to charge for your books? In particular, ebooks, though paperback POD books play a role in this as well.

Let me start with ebooks.

When I released my first book (Almost) Average Anthology, I decided the initial selling price was going to be $1.99. Did I feel it was worth more? Of course! We all think our work is worth more and it should be. We spent a lot of time and effort creating these worlds for others to enjoy. However, I had several things to consider.

What were other books like mine selling for? Would anyone plunk down more than $1.99 for a collection of odd stories from an author they don’t know? Would I? Obviously my answer was no, I wouldn’t pay more than that. I also chose the $1.99 price point so I had at least a little wiggle room to go down in price when the time was right or if I was going to run a promo. I could also run a discounted pre-sale enticing would be buyers to grab it for .99 while they could before the price went up. I did the same with my second collection of dark fiction short stories Moments of Darkness.

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Though neither book tops any charts or blazed new trails, I felt justified in my pricing strategy. I wasn’t scamming the buyer. I offered the books at what I felt were reasonable prices. Prices I would pay and felt comfortable with.

I’ve done the same with my novel The Selection. I offered it at a pre-sale price of .99 before going to it’s standard, and higher, price of $2.99. Because it was a longer piece, I felt comfortable with the higher price and it’s something I would pay for an ebook, especially by an unknown author.

I can hear you asking now “What about your costs? Don’t you want those covered so you can make a profit?” Ahh…good question. And this is where I differed from some of my fellow authors.

Let’s go back to (Almost) Average. My costs on that were almost nothing. I didn’t hire an editor. I created the cover myself, and I formatted the ebook myself. The programs I used to create the book were already on my computer. I didn’t buy anything special. So for that book, my expenses were pretty low.

For Moments of Darkness, I did hire an artist for the cover, but that was my only cost. I edited and formatted that one myself as well. In terms of cost/price, I should have charged more to recoup my costs. But I didn’t.

money-40603_960_720When I decided to release The Selection, I hired an artist for the cover and I hired an editor. There was no way I’d release a longer piece like that without having it edited. You may hate the story or think it’s bogus, but you won’t be able to crush me on the editing. So with this release, I had the most cost associated with releasing a book which seems to indicate I should charge a lot more.

But that’s not my line of thought.

Sure I want to recover my expenses, however there’s a threshold consumers are not willing to part with their money. I know, I’m one of them. I’d love to make tons money on my books, I mean that’s what selling is all about, right?

The approach I’m taking is different. I don’t want immediate repayment of my costs (well, yeah I do) but what I really want is a growing base of readers looking for my work as I continue my career. I want long term growth, long term success.

If I priced my novel at $4.99 and sold enough I’d get my costs covered, but how long will that take? How many people are willing to drop that much on an unproven commodity? I wouldn’t. I can’t expect others to just because I have expenses.

Book buyers are a weird lot (I say that with the utmost respect for my readers. You guys rock!) I’m one of you. I buy books too. There’s a line I won’t cross to buy a book. I have a difficult time spending more than $3.99 for an ebook by a big name author like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson. Why would I spend that kind of money on an author I don’t know? I’m big on supporting indie authors, we’re in this together. But when I feel gouged with a $3.99 price point for something that’s maybe 100 pages long–nope, not gonna buy it. I understand you’ve got expenses but in sales, sometimes you have to go in the negative before the positive arrives. You have to be willing to spend money to make money.

For now, my thought on pricing strategy is this: Get as many readers interested in me as a writer for the long haul. I won’t price a book higher trying to recover all my costs as fast as possible. It’s a numbers game. If I can sell ten .99 ebooks to your one $3.99 ebook, my readership will dwarf yours. That’s what I’m going for–more readers. Do I feel it’s worth more than .99? Sure do! But to the reader willing to part with their money for a little known author, I have to make it enticing enough to earn their trust and deliver on that with the writing. If I’ve done my job well, they will stick with me.

In my next installment, I’m going to cover POD paperback pricing. Come on back for that.


Let me know your thoughts. Am I off base? Is my strategy wrong? What would you do? How do you price your books? I’m open for an honest and constructive discussion so we can all learn from each other.

Author Spotlight: Patrick French

Throughout 2017, I will be showcasing two authors per month. These will be interviews with the author including info about their current work and ways to follow them on social media. My hope is to bring new voices and talents for you to enjoy and get to know.

In the first of an ongoing series of Author Spotlights, I present to you author Patrick French.


Author Spotlight: Patrick French

img_74824360308305Today I’m fortunate to present Patrick French author of “Fire at My Feet.”

 

Hi Patrick, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for the opportunity. Not the easiest question but here we go. I have had a few different career paths all interesting and educational in their own respective ways and all related to sales. Currently I am a sales executive for a very prestigious motor dealer on the lower south coast of South Africa. With a family to provide for I currently don’t have the luxury or time to concentrate only on writing, although I am aiming for that to change. I was born in Johannesburg in 1985 and have two siblings. At age ten my life changed completely as my parents divorced. My mother who is originally from England, went back along with my siblings and me. I won’t go too much into that. I did my schooling in the UK and travelled between the UK and South Africa a few times while finding my place in the world, some sense of belonging. Which thanks to my beautiful wife Rebecca and our amazing children I have found peace and purpose.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was ten, I have these books which I have kept over the years which are full of lyrics and short stories. I have always loved the ability writing gives you, the ability to dive into a world that you have imagined and created.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

After my parents divorced I needed an escape. I found that putting my feelings down on paper helped, like a diary of sorts. In turn that grew into something much larger.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It is a novel and yes it’s part of a series. The title of my current project is Fire at My feet. It’s a story of redemption and the road leading up to it, although the descent into redemption is much more fitting. It is the story of two brothers, Peter and Michael. After an accident involving Peters wife and child caused by his brother Michael, life changes for the worst. Peter can no longer live with what has happened at the hand of his brother and takes his own life. While Michael sleeps he has these visions of hell, with his brother’s soul trapped for the rest of eternity. Michael believes that he can change that, with no known evidence that hell does exist he still does what he can to get there to save his brothers soul.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I honestly don’t have any preferred genre, I like to write what comes into my mind and what I believe will work and have a solid story, whether it’s love, war or deception. It all depends on the feelings I have and what direction I want that specific story to go in.

 

What authors influenced you?

I can’t really pin point any authors out, that wouldn’t be fair. From the top of my head, I thoroughly enjoy Stephen Kings work, who doesn’t. I also enjoy Robert Ludlum and Wilbur Smith, those are just a few of many.

 

What are you currently reading?

Fire at My feet. Nothing at the moment. I am currently planning the second book of the Fire series.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

Currently only when I get the opportunity. A few days a week sounds about right.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Actually yes but only on certain chapters. It all depends on the direction that particular chapter will be heading.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It has definitely improved. As I have grown so has my experience with life and everything it involves, same as the next person. With everything I have learnt and continue to learn, it enables me for the better, which then gets scattered like words on a page.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

15095077_951849084920529_8659489120682004202_nMy covers must have feeling. The cover for Fire at My feet for example is the story itself in a picture, in a way.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

I don’t have a single favourite book. I have many. It’s all on the story and characters of each individual tale. I enjoy the Dark Tower series and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King, Then I enjoy Wilbur Smiths Triumph of the son.

 

How do you market your books?

The only way at the moment is on social media, there is a Facebook page for Fire at My feet which I share, thank you for liking it by the way. I share a lot on Facebook groups and Twitter.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

As I gather the energy to pull my eyes open I look down. It is very difficult to see; my feet are just a faint outline. I look back up with the smell of fire and brimstone burning the inside of my nostrils, consuming my every breath, making my eyes water which impairs my vision further. I must push on.

I begin a steady pace forward. I can feel a burning wind pushing me back, as though trying to block my way. I turn my head and catch a glimpse of what looks like wings on my shoulders, burning away with the searing wind. The wings feel normal. They actually make me feel comfortable as though they have always been there. I can hear what sounds like the weeping of children, perhaps the gnashing of teeth; the sounds seem to echo all around me sending shivers down my spine.

In the distance I see something that brightens up the darkness. The light it emits resembles that of my brother’s old lava lamp as it lit the walls red, with the wax changing the way the light hit against them. It also reminds me of the nights when Peter and I were kids. We used to stay up telling each other ghost stories, just to see whose was the scariest, or who would have nightmares. Those are great memories, but memories that fill me with a great sadness. I can feel a tear fall from my eye, as it reaches my cheek, it dries up as though it never was.

I carry on toward the light and feel the heat coming from it. I have never felt a heat like this. Suddenly the air around me gets very thin and I begin having difficulty trying to catch my breath. Relax and control your breathing.

I manage to pull myself together, but it still feels like something is pressing against my chest. I drop to my knees and feel as though I have failed. I have come all this way just to fail. No! I shout to myself, I will push forward.

I push myself to my feet and hear screaming and shouting. I recognise it; I remember it. I continue forward and the light makes way for what look like pits of darkness from which the smoke of the tormented seems to bellow. As I get closer it feels like a fiery oven with what seems to contain an unquenchable eternal fire, with a thirst hell-bent on nothing but destruction.

I come to a ledge from where the light and screaming originates. I look over; he is here. I have found him. His screams are going through me, screams of pain, but he is not moving. I am confused and move in closer. As I do I hear a deep trembling voice shouting. The screams seem to be coming from the flames that surround him.

“HALT!” the voice echo’s, so loudly the other noises become but a faint whisper. His head starts to lift, his eyes are as black as the darkest night, yet at peace.

“This is your doing,” he says, but now he is speaking in his own voice.

“Why, brother?”

“I’m so sorry Pete,” I weep.

“Why did you let them burn!” he screeches.

The sound resonates all around me as my lungs and eyes are consumed by darkness.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I definitely am an indie author, in the sense of being the creative director of my stories/books, from the very first inkling of an idea to conception then completion and beyond. I must be very hands on with my work. I like to ensure it is happening and being done as the story should be.

 

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Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

Fire at My feet is currently free, I really want to get feedback on the story and the characters, I’m really looking for collected reviews on the site where it is available.

 

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on the Fire at My feet Facebook page which has my email on the page https://www.facebook.com/PFrenchFAMF/ and Twitter @Author_PFrench

 

Any parting words for writers?

Thank you for the opportunity and your time. Go ahead and check out Fire at My feet. You can find it at www.inkitt.com, just search for Patrick French or Fire at My feet. Like the Facebook page which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/PFrenchFAMF/ for more information and any upcoming news on the Fire series.