It's Gratitude Day!
Some of my most profound thoughts come to me at two thirty in the morning. Not quite the witching hour, but close enough. One thought keeps returning to me, time and again, as I sit here in peaceful solitude, working toward that all important vision of my future. In the wee hours of the morning I can't help but think about all of the people who, often unknowingly, have kept me moving in the right direction.
Since I have finally finished the first three novels in my Pay series, I have decided it's high time to take a step back and show a little gratitude. Just thinking about it isn't enough. I feel the need to put it out there, and explain to you why I value these individuals so highly.
For writers, at least I think it must be this way for most of us, there is a certain hope that one day our work will be discovered. That once our talents and abilities are revealed, readers all over the world will devour the words we've so painstakingly woven, and beg for more.
In this new generation of self publishing and ebook distribution, the dream that so many of us hold dear has become a real possibility. We no longer have to submit reams of paper to publishers and agents while crossing our fingers and saying a prayer, then wait for the inevitable rejection letters to show up via snail mail. In this modern age, we simply have to write a great book, and then make it available for people to read. But as I have learned, self publishing success isn't as simple as it sounds.
When I first started entertaining this idea, all the advice I could find was to get my circle of readers to post reviews on the book sellers website and people would find it. Okay!
Following that advice, more than a few aspiring authors upload that first book to their distributor of choice with stars in their eyes, then realize that their masterpiece is number 742 on the list of available reads in their genre. Well now, how is anybody ever supposed to find it that way? Many of these authors, myself included, (blush, blush) somehow manage to overlook - or at least underestimate the value of - a very important part of writing. Some call it marketing, some call it discoverability. Some refer to this elusive concept as branding. Whatever name we want to give it, writers who choose to self publish now have to become more than writers, we have to become publicists, when marketing Guru's we are not.
As with all things worth pursuing, there is a lot to learn, particularly in the constantly changing realm of epublishing. And thanks to those people who have blazed the trail ahead of the rest of us, there are resources out there to teach and guide us through the often convoluted process.
There is a lot of ambiguous, unhelpful, or otherwise misleading information out there that may first take us on a wild goose chase through the maze of self publishing. Just ask me. I've read it all. And because I have, I am able to refer you to some of the most helpful information from some amazing people who generously share their knowledge and experience in this often overwhelming new enterprise.
This blog is not about me giving you advice on how to self publish and market your work. Suffice it to say, that would be less than productive. It is, however, a list of individuals who have helped me, and whom I am extremely thankful for. These are the people for whom I am grateful every day, for giving me the advice I really need to move forward in my writing and publishing career.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have gone back, and back again, to drink form this well of knowledge. If you're on this list, know that you are truly appreciated. Thank you for all the hand holding.
The infamous John Locke, @TheJohnLocke, did something so completely selfless that I must put him first on my list. Besides, he was the first person I discovered who could explain the visibility process in a language I was able to understand. Yes, I bought How I sold 1Million eBooks in 5 Months and consider the few bucks money well spent. I consider this book a gift.
The first thing I read about Mike Wells was the Up Close interview he did for The Carnage Report. You can find it at thecarnagereport.blogspot.co.uk. I really liked what he had to say and went in search of more. I found him, of course, on Twitter @MikeWellsAuthor (thanks to John Locke) and followed immediately. He is a calming presence for me, and I listen to what he has to say.
Jonathan Gunson @Jonathan Gunson is the creator of bestsellerlabs.com and offers novices, such as myself, invaluable advice on how to stay sane while trying to figure out how to navigate the maze that is social media.
Maria Popova @brainpicker, I would just like to say Thank You for your continually inspiring work at brainpickings.org. This is where I was introduced to Susan Sontag and her wonderful mind, along with some other pretty motivating thoughts and people.
If you're a techno-phoebe such as I, you understand how agonizing it can be to figure out the physical act of posting on social media. Tamsin Fox-Davies, author of Your Simple Twitter Business Plan on womenunlimitedworldwide.com, has laid things out quite - simply. Facebook for Dummies is pretty darn helpful too, by the way.
And when you run out of steam or feel overwhelmed, go read Catherine Ryan Howard @Cathryanhoward and her Catherine Caffeinated blog at CatherineRyanHoward.com. She'll remind you not to be a whiner in her blog, Did someone say it would be easy?
Now, self publishing, at least in the beginning, is like learning a new dance. You get the first few steps down, and then suddenly you have to take a turn and add another step. If I may use a cliche, It's one step forward - two steps back. Some dances are harder to learn than others.
I didn't realize how poorly my first book, Pay Attention, was probably going to present until I ran across this guy - you may have heard of him before - Joel Friedlander @JFBookman. I'm beginning to think there's little he doesn't know about the nuts and bolts of self publishing. I've seen a number of interviews and blogs, by and about him, that forced me to take a hard look at my product. He has some pretty nifty formatting software too.
At this point, I want to give my most heartfelt love and gratitude to my sis @LarieBranick. She has given me the best feedback and editing advice ever! Yes, she's a romance lover, which I know virtually nothing about, but let me tell you, visit a romance writers Facebook page and tell me they haven't brightened your day.
Robert Bidinotto gets a big thank you for sending me in search of more meaty marketing material. His blog, 10 Winning marketing strategies for your self published book at binidotto.com gave me my first reminder that as authors, we need to make ourselves memorable. You can follow him @RobertBidinotto
And if you really want to understand the concept of branding, Kristine Kathryn Rusch will give you invaluable insight at kriswrites.com. I would like to especially thank her for giving so much of herself in her series on branding and discoverability. I intend to make the most of her advice and you should too @KristineRusch.
When I created my webpage and was faced with the daunting challenge of actually writing a blog, I choked. Putting my thoughts out there in the world has always been somewhat of a challenge for me, but Suzan St. Maur @suzanstmaur helped me overcome some of my fear. She might not agree that I've learned anything if she ever reads this blog, but Suzan, I'm working on it. I just keep going back to howtowritebetter.net.
As a child, I had a paralyzing fear that if I spoke, people would judge or criticize. Who knows where that came from, but I've gotten past much of that as I've aged. At some point during this writing journey, I discovered a few people who have helped me to recognize the "what and why", and how to overcome my ridiculous anxiety.
Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with being thankful for your writing and publishing resources? My answer is - everything. I think we have to know - and understand - and respect ourselves, in order to have the confidence to achieve our dreams. These people can give you the boost you need if you're feeling a little, shall we say, unworthy.
Sarupah Shah @SarupahShah is an amazing woman with a down to earth approach on overcoming issues that block our success in her Soul Agency blog.
And who can live without Deepak Chopra? I'm sure everyone already knows how to find him, but just in case, he's @DeepakChopra.
There's a great little nugget out there too at InspiredGiftGiving.com on inspiring creativity. It's an older blog by Marquita Herald, but it should be on your favorite list.
Vishen Lakhiani @mindvalley is a charismatic, motivating presence in a sometimes challenging world, and he deserves a lot of credit for keeping me motivated when I got tired, and keeping it simple when I tried to make it complicated. He also directed me to Carol Tuttle at ChakraHealing.com, where I discovered that I had a closed throat chakra, which is probably the reason I was having so much trouble speaking my mind.
But the person who led me to seek out these fine spiritual guides was my dear friend, Kathy Keck-Conningsore. In pursuit of her own dream to become a healer and life coach, she discovered an incredible talent for chakra healing. She's the greatest Raki master I've ever known. My throat chakra is pretty open, thanks to her, and now you can't shut me up!
Kath, you're the best. (Doesn't she just look like the sweetest person?)