Tagged: self-publishing

Jul 18

The Publish Driven Life

WHAT ON EARTH AM I WRITING FOR?

An impromptu book signing at a friend's baby shower. Yes, I always keep copies in my car!

“It’s not about you.” That’s the memorable first sentence of Rick Warren’s spiritual bestseller, The Purpose Drive Life. It’s a message worth repurposing for those of us who would like to call ourselves writers but still aren’t sure we’ve got what it takes.

The foundation for Julia Cameron’s groundbreaking The Artist’s Way  is the same; it’s not about us or what we, from aspiring to accomplished artists, do or don’t do. Rather, it’s about who our all-powerful creator, the Great Artist, shaped us to be. Cameron contends that creating is our gift back to God. It’s a liberating mindset, this powerful extraction of one’s ego from one’s art.

So then all that remains to be vanquished is our fear. At every turn and dark alley, shooting off even the most scenic streets, it lurks in the shadows telling us we’re not good enough, attacking pieces of us that we are working so hard to put together. With its intended fatal blow, fear tries to convince us that what we want to create is too difficult. It’s too hardour fear tells us. I just can’t do it. Or there’s the even more insidious lie, I just can’t do it now.

My personal procrastination, however, recently received a grande battement in the derrière. After hurdling over past creative blocks and working hard to complete two YA novels in less than a year, my fellow creative Chick Vivi Barnes–a.k.a. ticklingthemuse–landed an awesome literary agent! I was so inspired by Vivi’s efforts and success I even wrote her a victory theme song.

Suddenly the reality had hit really close to home: hard work is really all that’s standing between me and finishing the novel I’ve been chasing for so long. Hard work is the only wind that can blow the sails of any story. So I enrolled in a Writer’s Digest University online workshop, Build Your Novel Scene by Scene. And it starts tomorrow!

This exciting 90-day intensive course is exactly what I need. I’ve always worked better with the urgency of deadlines, the feedback of a teacher and the overall structure of a school-like setting. For starters, it will force me to outline the entire book in detail before being “allowed” to write. The latter is my favorite part, but in neglecting the former I’ve floundered at sea, drifting this way and that.

There is NOTHING more rewarding than seeing your story in the hands of a reader!

My final destination is indeed PUBLICATION, that is, getting my story into the hands of readers. The once intimidating and paralyzing prospects of “breaking into the publishing world” are changing dramatically in this modern electronic age. Fear of not getting published is now invalid. Whether in physical bookstores or only in online bookstores and e-reader apps, the best stories ultimately win. My own positive self-publishing experience with Lulu.com–getting my first children’s book out there— has shown me that the only barriers left to becoming a writer live in the mind.

So my immediate goal and focus for the next 90 days is to FINISH. Whether or not I secure a traditional literary agent and publisher once I arrive at my intended port is (almost) a moot point. It would be great, of course, but if I finish this story in which I believe so intensely, writing it to the best of my ability, then I’ve already acquired the real prize.

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Nov 28

Big Values on Little Verses

So evidently repetitive, pushy salesperson is part of the whole self-published author job description. Yes, I feel like I’m constantly bombarding my friends and the online world at large with messages to buy, buy, BUY the book! I really just want to see my baby go out into the world and fulfill its purpose of being enjoyed by children everywhere. (Sounds like I’m entering a Miss America children’s writer’s contest, huh?)

Nevertheless, here’s the scoop. Besides a 15% discount on Addie and Ollie going on right now, you can plug in one of the following Lulu.com codes to get even more savings.

TODAY ONLY! (insert car-ad starburst here) – additional 35% on every book at Lulu.com, including mine. Code: CYBERMONDAY305

THROUGH DECEMBER 14th – additional 25%. Code: BUYMYBOOK305

I don’t make this stuff up, just relay it for those who are or might be interested in giving the special child(ren) in their lives a special gift this holiday season.

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Sep 28

Finding the SELF in Self-Publishing

Tonight, as I emailed final approval for “Addie and Ollie” to Lulu.com, I thought I’d share some of the wonder, and irony, I’ve discovered in my self-publishing voyage.

First, if you follow my shared creativity blog, 4 Chicks and a Muse, you’ll know that the other Chicks and I continue to be very inspired by Julia Cameron. I only recently learned, however, that this bestselling author of the groundbreaking Artist’s Way series of books has always herself self-published. She vows it’s the only way she’ll ever go.

The truth is, I always thought of self-publishing as the easy way out. You know, those who can’t get published, self-publish. I mean, anyone with enough cash on hand to buy a knock-off laptop can publish their own book. Where’s the honor in that? How can you call yourself a REAL author if you publish yourself, right? Well, Julia certainly proves those assumptions wrong.

But for me, the real answer came some months back. Throughout this journey, my primary contact at Lulu.com has been a friendly and patient gentleman by the name of Gannon H. No, I’m not reserving his last name for privacy; that’s how his emails come. It’s all very efficient, and yet mysterious.

Anyway, after Gannon H. forwarded me a Lulu editor’s comments last spring, I was completely lost. He (or she) had said kind things in the general remarks. But when it came to specific feedback, I panicked.

It’s not like there were a lot of remarks, or that they were drastic. Nevertheless, I pored over the dozen or so relatively minor suggestions for days, maybe weeks. I’m sure that in between I worked very hard to avoid looking at the document at all.

Ultimately, I came to understand that the thinking and purpose behind each remark was very useful. However, I was torn because I didn’t necessarily agree with the exact words with which to accomplish each objective.

Mostly, this had to do with my rhyme scheme. I’m pretty picky about rhyme and rhythm. As a mom, I know I most enjoy re-reading books to my kids that are easy to speak. Dr. Seuss couplets roll off the tongue like happy little musical refrains. You feel where accents should be, even if there were no punctuation at all. I think children understand the music of books before they understand their meaning.

Thus entrenched in this dilemma, I suggested to GH that I speak with said mystery editor directly. If he (or she) knew my reasoning, perhaps they would approve of another solution. My contact informed me that this was not part of the process. What he told me next was nothing less than an abomination to this lifelong people-pleaser.

“It’s up to you,” he explained earnestly. “It’s your book, so it’s whatever YOU want.”

This was not acceptable. I had to get off the phone. How could I work under these conditions? (Diva hair flip)

I needed direction. I needed approval. I needed someone else to tell me what was best!

Gannon was, of course, right. Pondering his simple statement of the facts, I realized the full value of the gift I had been given to be able to self-publish first, if not always. It would force me, at least for a moment, to stop obsessing about what other people thought about what I wrote. I had to trust my voice, and my decisions. I had to approve of my words. Worse yet, I had to approve of myself.

It’s a lesson I don’t claim to have mastered but one I had to act on–or else. If I didn’t, the book wouldn’t get published. It was that simple.

I did (eventually) make those tough decisions. Tonight I made the last of them when I told Gannon H.–and Tracey J. S.–that the book was good to be printed. It was I who gave final approval, and it felt frightening/foreign/wonderful/empowering.

I can only hope this is the beginning of a trend.

And as you forward your own creative work–from writing, dancing or sewing to painting, singing or redecorating the living room–feel free to learn from my mistakes.

Seek out good advice wherever  you can, but not approval. You know what feels right. Now go with it!

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