Tag Archives: self-publish

Phil Sanderson’s Indy Author Toolbox!

Me

Several times during my long stint as a writer, I have often been asked:  “What does it take to become a published writer?”

These days, all it takes is Microsoft Word and an internet connection.  And that is it!  This being said, it is a lot easier than it used to be.  The only way to be published before Amazon and other pioneering online booksellers paved the way for self-publishing was that of traditional publishing, which still has not changed very much ever since the start of the industrialization of book printing.

So let’s look back at the original question:  “What does it take to be come a published writer?”

To me, any writer worth their salt should not want to become a PUBLISHED writer, but more so a distinct and seasoned one.  Grant it that no writer is perfect by any sort of means, but writers should still at least attempt to do everything to strive toward that perfection.  They shouldn’t be too scared to PAY THE PRICE and EARN THE TITLE.

Anyone can put together some literary turd, put any image on it that will come to be known as the cover for said literary turd, and call it a published book, thereby claiming the status as published writer.  All that serves is to discredit the whole movement of indy authors everywhere the world over.

So my chief advice to writers everywhere who desire to be self-published authors is simple:  Bring something solid to the table, something that will make traditionally-published authors look over their snobby shoulder with even the vaguest of worries.  In doing so, here is my advice:

First, Pay the Price!

  1. Read a grammar book cover-to-cover the same way you would a novel written by your favorite author, not only READING it, but ABSORBING the knowledge like a Bounty paper towel.  If you choose not to make it through, it is clear that you do not have the true desire to be a prolific author.  Why even bother attempting it?  If you find that you become truly fascinated by the rules of the road, then this is a true sign that you may stand a wonderful chance of becoming something more than the author of a literary turd.
  2. Read many, many different books by many, many different successful authors.  I myself have started reading several classic works.  This past Christmas, I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  And a couple of years ago, I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving just before Halloween…and one of my most favorite classics, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one I will never forget!  These classics and many, many more paved the way for successful literature all over the world.
  3. If you desire to write fiction, read many, many different books about the craft of writing, plot development, creating memorable characters, creating conflict and tension in your stories, and all other elements that may be essential in creating a story that people will remember through the ages.

Next, Stay True to The Craft!

  1. When it comes time to sit down and begin your book, set a rigid writing schedule; and do  not let anything come between you and it.  Work diligently to complete your first draft.  When you finish, work diligently to complete your second draft paying close attention, looking out for errors in grammar and punctuation.
  2. It’s not a bad idea to obtain a subscription to Writer’s Digest if you can afford it.  You can learn so many valuable lessons and great tidbits of information from this one terrific magazine that has been around seemingly almost since Jesus Christ was a little boy.
  3. Let anyone and everyone you meet know about your project.  Be excited when you tell them about it.  It is the only way you will be able to get them excited about it.  If they see the thrill on your face, it may be contagious enough for them to want to experience it directly as soon as it is finished.
  4. Disregard the Nay-Sayers.  If anyone, at anytime , tells you:  “Why do you even bother?”  You look them in the eye and say:  “Fuck you!  I try, because I know I can.”  And you keep sitting back down at the chopping block, prepared to hammer out your best writing fueled by the words of the punch-bowl turd you just heard.
  5. Finally, through the entire writing process, do not write to become rich and famous.  I hate to tell you that this will probably never happen.  But write because you love it!  And content yourself with knowing that your writing will still be around long after you are gone.  For this one extreme reason, this is why it is so important to not have a literary turd survive you.  Do you really want your name to be associated with such a piece of shit long after you are gone?  This is where paying the price literally pays off!
  6. If you can afford it, DEFINITELY hire an editor worth their salt.  Also, if you can find an agent who is LEGITIMATE (…and you can tell those by the ones who say to you: “I don’t make money until after you make money”…) then you better jump on it!
  7. Don’t be scared by the advice I’m offering here.  Because even a turd nugget can be turned into a priceless gem after the editing process is completed.  Look at this as a challenge that you know you can overcome.
  8. Also be sure to avoid organizations out there which prey on new writers.  I fell into a trap of using AuthorHouse as my first publisher.  I’ve yet to see my very first penny of royalty from this organization.  They do, however, provide an excellent product…but they WAY overcharge for it.

And Finally!  The Tools of the Trade!

With all of this said, every writer should have some tools at his arsenal.  These are the tools I recommend:

  1. Good Laptop!  You can use a typewriter, word-processor (if they still make these dinosaurs!), or a desktop computer.  But I personally prefer laptops.  Because sometimes you can do some of your best writing in a coffee cafe!  Nothing like a ravenous stream of caffeine to wash away the old writer’s block!
  2. Laptop Bag (I use a messenger bag that holds my reference books as well!)
  3. Memory Stick or USB Drive (Keep Your Manuscript Here for Backup!)
  4. Decent Internet Connection
  5. Good Dictionary & Thesaurus (You Can Also Use http://www.dictionary.com )
  6. Good Reference Books (Some of Which are FREE!)  I’ll even include links where you can get them!
    1. Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing
    2. Building Your Book for Kindle
    3. Book Cover Secrets and Shortcuts
    4. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need
    5. Crafting Novels & Short Stories (for those wanting to write fiction!)

These are the more important tools in my writing arsenal.  I hope you may find them to be just as vital as you carry them along on your writing journey.

In this article, I hope I’ve successfully conveyed the importance of paying the price to be a good writer and staying true to the craft, as well as also having provided you with what I feel are some very good tools to get you started.

Well to those who have asked me the question,  “What does it take to become a published writer?”, I hope this successfully answers it.  However, I DO urge you to start asking yourself:  “What does it take to become a SUCCESSFUL writer?”

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Writer’s Everest

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Any writer worth his salt clings to the dream through thick and thin.  And very few actually make it!  From what I have observed in this unforgivable business, these are the levels of success:

  1. The Act of Writing:  The writer simply picks up a pen or sits behind a keyboard and writes a poem, story, play, or other literary work.  Most writers start here.   And many of them end here as well.  The writer, at this point in the game, is considered more of a hobbyist.
  2. Low-Level Discovery:  The writer finally becomes published or known as her work is sampled within a small community (e.g. published in school or local newspaper; play performed by community playhouse, etc.).  She may or may not have received any type of compensation for her work.  If she did, it likely wasn’t much.  The recognition from this accomplishment finally makes the writer consider her level of seriousness toward writing.
  3. Willful Determination:  The writer finally decides that she is serious about the craft and completes her first large-body work.  Maybe it was a novel or a screenplay.  But the project entailed months of work and a great sacrifice of free time.  Now the writer decides to look for ways to get the work and herself discovered.
  4. High-Level Discovery:  The writer possibly decides to look for an agent.  In rare cases, he finds one and ends up progressing immediately to the Ultimate Discovery level of success.  More likely, however, he finally becomes either published in a magazine or other small work or self-published digitally or in print.  He may have even won a writing contest.  Overall, his work becomes available in the local community or nation in which he lives.  It may even become available internationally.  The fruits from the labor are still lacking, however, requiring the writer to keep his regular job working in sales, retail, manual labor, administration, or whatever other menial job he is working.
  5. Collective Growth:  The writer continues to work hard at producing and publishing various bodies of work while spreading the word about it in all ways possible (e.g. word of mouth, book signings, print and broadcast media, online social media, etc.).  Money continues to flow in, but still does not permit the writer to quit his day job.  Meanwhile, agents may be scanning his Social Media, watching him very closely in consideration for future representation.
  6. Stuck in Literary Limbo:  Most serious writers are unfortunate enough to find themselves stuck in this almost hopeless existence at this stage in the game.  They feel as though they have done everything in their power to represent themselves and their work.  But no one seems to be biting.  Sadly enough, many writers give up at this point in the game after having stayed persistent throughout the previous stages of accomplishment.  Though I mention this lack of success here, this could also end up occurring anywhere before this level I’ve suggested (e.g. at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th levels).
  7. Ultimate Discovery:  The writer either accidentally or intentionally becomes discovered by either an agent or one of the major traditional publishers, though the latter is extremely rare.  If discovered by an agent, the agent — if he is at all worth a damn — will agree to represent her before all the major traditional publishing houses or production companies out there while receiving pay only when she gets paid.  So the search is on for a publisher who will contract this writer to write one or more books under their name.
  8. First Success:  The writer suddenly gets her chance to be published by one of the major publishers of books (e.g. Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, etc.) or contracted by one of the major production companies (e.g. Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, etc.).  The writer finally makes enough money that she can quit her job, though she is still not out of the woods and may not be quite wise to do so.  After all, many writers have fallen from their first book or production deal when their book, show, or movie did not earn all the money back that was used to produce it.
  9. Continued Success:  The writer’s first success contributes to a return on investment and possibly even brings in quite a profit!  He continues to have success in whichever industry he has chosen to write.  His profits continue to increase, and he can definitely now more safely quit his day job after having proven himself in the field.  In many such cases, the writer’s agent may get several requests from other publishing or production companies to negotiate better deals for the writer.
  10. Ultimate Success:  The writer is now known as more than being successful; he is now known as a trademark and / or one of the Greats (e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Ian Fleming, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, etc.).  In some cases, the writer may become so filthy rich that he purchases a baseball or football team!

New Author Lessons Recently Learned

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There are so many lessons that I learned from writing, 2018: An Uncivil War, my very first book.  So, to list all of them probably cannot be done in just one sitting as I may remember some now and then remember more later after I posted this article.  Thus, I figure the best way to do so is to take the steps of being published and then list my valuable lessons in that particular order.  So here it is!  I hope you enjoy it and may feel informed if you are writing, may write, or even may have written a book:

Before Writing the Book:

  1. Decide Why You Are Writing the Book:  I had no problems with this one.  After seeing many attacks upon the Second Amendment from ignorant people and traitorous politicians, I knew that somebody had to write it.  And hopefully I beat every other writer to the punch!  Regardless of why you are writing the book, the most important advice I can give is to be sure that you are writing it for YOU!  Sure, you also want to consider your audience.  But your material has to be something that will keep you committed the entire time it takes to write and release your novel.
  2. Spend As Much Time As Possible Working Out the Plot:  I slipped up here when I wrote my first book.  But I learned an extremely valuable lesson that I am not about to repeat from my first book.  I was so excited about getting started on 2018 that I did not scrutinize every scene in my book the way I should have.  As a result, I ended up having to make all sorts of revisions to include removing a whole section of text and replacing it with something else.  And on top of this, I had to do other revisions that were affected by this change (e.g. references to the event in question, etc.).  Unfortunately, the edit that I made somehow left the last sentence of the chapter unfinished and not punctuated.  When a reader informed me of this, I was so embarrassed!  What makes it even worse is that this very same error made it into my printed books.
  3. Take Plenty of Time to Research Your Material:  This is one that I did not do, but mainly because I had already been doing it all along.  Because I was an avid watcher of Fox News, I was well aware of all the recent events affecting the Second Amendment.  So the only research I had to do was on Drone Technical Details and Modern Weaponry.  I actually did all of this research during the writing of my book.  It would have been better to have done it prior to the writing of the story…and even better if it had been done prior to finishing my plot details.
  4. Don’t Be Shy!  Interview Key People Who Can Make the Biggest Difference:  I had no problem with this whatsoever, having been a journalist for almost five years of my life.  However, this is another thing that would be better to have done prior to writing the plot of my book.  In a sense, interviews are a type of research.  You come out of it knowing more than you did when you first went in.  Many writers are scared to step out of their comfort zone and talk to key people who can make the greatest difference by lending their authenticity to your published work.  And readers love a story that comes across as realistic!

During the Writing of the Book:

  1. Don’t Worry About Editing Your Work Until After the Book is Written:  This was a huge mistake that I made.  And I’d be a liar if I said I did not remake this mistake with my current body of work (The Girl on the Highway).  The reason why it is best to wait is because most people’s minds are easily confused when they read the same thing over and over again.  Not only that, blatant errors become engraved into your brain, making it more difficult to notice them in later edits.  Finally, it is good to allow a story to breathe awhile before going back and editing it.  By “breathe”, I mean baking away from the project for awhile and maybe concentrating on a little bit of marketing before your book is to go through its second revision.  Most importantly, it is best to approach the story a second time with a fresh mindset.  That way, it is much easier to catch mistakes than if you had done it several times already.
  2. Don’t Be Shy!  Make Any Necessary Phone Calls You May Need to Make:  This is another one that requires writers to step out of their comfort zones.  Naturally, writers sometimes realize when they start writing their story that they should have asked a particular question of one of their technical advisers that should have been asked.  Don’t worry!  Be Happy!  Call them up with a very joyful tone to hear their voice and let them know how good it is to talk to them again.  And then ask them if the time is right to ask one (or more) questions that you did not think to ask during their initial interview.  You will probably be surprised to see how enthused they may be to hear back from you!
  3. Don’t Use An Editor Until After the Book is Written:  This one walks hand-in-hand with number one listed above.  Editors edit, just as writers write.  Therefore, it goes without saying that if the writer is not supposed to edit until after the book is written, the same thing goes for the editor.
  4. Go Ahead and Start Marketing Your Book:  You cannot start marketing too early.  There’s just no way you can do this.  All marketing is beneficial.  You are really in the zone when you have various people talking to their friends about your book.  I’m not just talking about mentioning it in passing, but actually being so enthused they literally cannot wait until it comes out.  For 2018, I started my marketing on my website and on Facebook in a group I had created specifically for my novel.  However, I did learn that I should have just created my own author page instead of a group for just my first novel.  The bottom line is that it is a lot easier when you have fewer places for readers to find out about your work.  If you neglect even one of those places, then you will have already failed in marketing.  That is why it is best to limit the number of places where your readers can keep up with you and your works.  Every bit of excitement that you can create earlier on will have the potential to mean extra book sales even before the book is released in print or digitally.
  5. Don’t Be Scared of Social Media:  An author without social media is no different than a hamburger without meat.  Very few people will appreciate that author and he or she will miss out on many, many sells!  How many people do you think actually order a hamburger without meat.  (Believe it or not, I have a stepdaughter who used to order burgers this way!)
  6. Don’t Reveal Spoilers:  By revealing a spoiler while getting people excited about your book, you are doing them a severe disservice in the future, when they decide to read your book.  It’s no different than giving someone a gift, and then taking it away from them directly afterward.  Don’t do it!
  7. Don’t Worry About Putting Your Book Into Print Until the VERY END!:  One thing I found out the hard way is that many newspapers out there do not respect self-published authors.  It doesn’t matter that hugely popular authors (like Vince Flynn) were self published before they got discovered.  Not only this, but it usually takes a wealth of money to pay for having your book printed.  I used AuthorHouse only to find out after the fact that they are known for exploiting new writers.  Yes, they did a great job of putting my book in print.  But their heart simply is not in it.  I mentioned a mistake earlier that made it into print.  You cannot tell me that no one at AuthorHouse did not miss such a blatant error.  On top of that it ended up not being enough that I invested almost $1,500 into having my book put into print; they only allowed me 20 free corrections and wanted to charge me for each additional one.  They also wanted money to publicize my book on their website, when this would make them more money than it would make me.  So it is clear to see how AuthorHouse and AuthorSolutions (their brother company) exploits us new writers.  I later found out that I should have used Create-Space, Amazon’s brother company for their authors who want their e-books in print.  The reason why I say leave this for last is because you have a big enough task making sure that you are getting everything done for your e-book / rough draft.  Why add to the stress this early on?
  8. Don’t Release Your Book Until You Are SURE It is Finished:  I made a HUGE mistake with 2018!  I over-promised the release date.  I started my work on it in January and promised it would be done by July 4…therefore, I apologized to everyone on my social networks and website and set the new date for Labor Day.  Even though I finished my book by Labor Day, it was riddled with errors!  But because I promised it on that date, I refused to delay the release a second time.  Not only friends and family were excited about my book, but I was too!  So once again, impatience bred a book in dire need of a vast amount of polish.
  9. Don’t Have More Than One Draft Going at the Same Time:  I thought it would be wise to start my book on my desktop computer and keep it on my removable memory drive at the same time.  There certainly is nothing wrong with keeping a back-up of your text.  But I highly advise against trying to maintain both of them at the same time for the simple fact that I ended up getting both of them confused and forgot which one was the latest copy to be edited.  All this does is create a lot of confusion for you.  If you choose to keep a back up copy of your book elsewhere.  Make sure that you only save the original work onto this backup after you finish each COMPLETE revision!  Trust me, you will be thankful that I told you this if you follow this piece of advice.

After the Book is Written: 

  1. Focus Like CRAZY on Marketing!:  Before, you were actually working on writing your book.  So you had a valid excuse for not marketing (even though doing so was a bad decision if you will kindly read # 4 in the previous section).  But there is absolutely NO EXCUSES for not marketing your book after the writing is finished and the book is published (except maybe fore the fact that you are working with a publisher to get your book into print; but even then, you should market after both copies of the book have been published).  Every bit of marketing you do at this point should translate effectively into sells.  Eventually, your sales will stall (just as mine have recently).  It is at this point that you need to be thinking about releasing your second (or other) book (unless you have somehow decided that the effort for the first or previous book(s) was not worth all the effort it took.  
  2. Don’t Be Scared of Doing Book Signings and Public Readings:  These events are — for the writer — what manna is — for the Christian.  Even if you sell only one book during a book signing, this is one more person who may love your work enough to tell all or most of his or her friends about it!  As for book readings, this is your chance to show off samples of your greatest passages from within the pages of your literary work!  So choose wisely which scenes from your story you wish to read!
  3. While Doing All of This, Continue to Think of Concepts for Your Next Book:  For some strange reason, I had trouble with this.  Every time I narrowed down a concept, I found something wrong with it and could not commit to it.  But finally, something clicked!  And then my new concept was born as I am still working on the plot of my forthcoming horror story, The Girl on the Highway.  As far as whether or not to write a sequel, I suggest letting your book’s sales determine whether or not you should do so.  I’m not exactly happy with how well my first book has sold.  But who knows what the future holds?  Maybe my next book will garner me enough interested readers who may want to try out my first book.  After my first book catches on, then I may very well choose to do a sequel.  But in the mean time, I feel I just need to try different things in order to see what ends up clicking with readers.  You may choose to do differently, however.  
  4. Be Very Mindful and Watchful of Your Print Publisher:  AuthorHouse, the publisher who claims to help new writers, offers a much smaller royalty for their published copy of my book.  At $3.99, I will only get a 10 percent royalty for any books sold there (including e-books).  That’s only a measly 39 cents!  So I lowered the price of MY published copy of the book (under the name Phil Sanderson) to $2.99, and it is a win-win for me and my readers.  The readers pay less money, and I get more money back from my royalty (Amazon awards a 35 percent royalty to authors who publish directly through them).  $1.05 is a hell of a lot better than 35 cents!  But I’ve since lowered my price to 1.99 because I am trying to get my name out there.  I care a lot more about that than getting higher royalties at this point.  So 24 cents is not as good as 39 cents.  But I will be able to net a lot more sells than AuthorHouse!  😉   
  5. Consider Whether or Not to Seek a Traditional Publishing Deal:  Traditional publishing has certain benefits that are much better than self-publishing (different teams to help you achieve different aspects of your book simultaneously; better distribution; etc.). And there seems to be much more fame that can be had with authors who take the traditional route of publishing.  But self publishing has its own set of advantages as well (usually, higher royalties; more creative choices; etc.).  So don’t take my word for it. Do your own research to see what way is a lot easier for you.  One thing is for certain:  An author who takes the self-publishing route has far fewer bars keeping him from being published!

Anyway, these are the lessons I’ve learned from my very first self-publishing adventure.  I hope that if you are a writer, this will help you avoid a lot of the mistakes I stumbled into.  I wish you the very best of luck and fortune in any publishing endeavor in which you pursue.  Always remember, God sometimes answers prayers in ways we cannot imagine!

Social Survival on the Internet Highway!

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The internet reminds me of some of those freaky-looking dudes in the Mad Max movies who tried to kill, steal, and plunder gasoline from anyone and everyone who crossed their paths.  And, like Mad Max, we have to survive the day for a hopefully even better sequel!  All of this has to be done on a slightly different interstate:  the Internet Highway!  But instead of using guns, crossbows, spears, and all sorts of other weaponry, we have to use our personality and various social sites and various social tools along this mysterious and adventurous stretch of treacherous roadway.

My goal as a writer is to develop a social following on the internet more so than to write any certain number of books by any given certain date.  This may sound a bit off the mark, but there is a method to the madness.  

I’ve learned, after self-publishing a book, that it is not enough for an independent author to (hopelessly!) market the hell out of his book.  The author has to do everything in his power to establish a loyal following.  And for this, I am truly thankful for the opportunity to have the ear of everyone who has subscribed to me and my activities (and sometimes lack of).  

You may be asking:  “Why is this more important to you than getting a substantial amount of writing on the market?”  Saturating the market with everything Phil Sanderson is definitely important to me.  But at the same time, finding the means to accomplish it more effectively is of higher priority.  One reason is that there is no point in coming up with a large quantity of material when there is not that many people interested in doing anything with it.  Secondly, one of the main things agents look for, when trying to find a good author worth her salt to represent, is just that:  a huge following!  

Yet I am really quite surprised with how everything has turned out.  I’ve been established on Facebook now for more than five years and only just recently started getting really involved with Twitter.  But strangely enough, my success with the little tweety bird is phenomenally greater than it is with with the big-blue “F”.  I plan to break 1,000 followers next week on Twitter.  But I don’t even have anywhere near 100 likes on my personal Facebook page.  

I am also quite pleased with my success here on WordPress.  If you are receiving this article, then I largely have you to thank for this success.   I am really starting to develop quite the following on Goodreads as well.  And I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe it is because I run my WordPress blog through Goodreads.  So, thank you all so very much.  On the other hand, I am also encountering slow starts with Google+ and Pinterest.  And I only barely exist on Authors Den.  

But I have a pretty cool strategy that I believe may help me out.  Since I’m encountering leaps and bounds on Twitter, I plan to market all my other social sites through that medium.  It’s not rocket science, just good, commonsense advertising.  And I am hoping that this article will help give you guys some ideas as to how you may be able to boost your own social campaigns (in the even that you have need to do so).  

So please remember to take a lesson from Mad Max when it comes to successfully reaching your various social media marketing destinations:  As your trucking along in your day-to-day tasks — be it creating art or music, or writing books — the most important thing to remember along the journey is to not run out of gas.  And we do this by making sure that we have an active, captivated audience who actually gives a damn about what we are doing.

Until my next article, be blessed!

The Busy-ness of Writing!

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Since I was a teenager, I’ve always DREAMED of being a writer.  Little did I know just how much work was involved.  I thought to myself, after becoming a journalist:  “Certainly being a book writer can’t be much busier than this.”  Man, was I wrong!

Shortly after I got out of the Marines, I researched what it took to become an author of fiction books.  I found out that it involved sending hundreds, if not thousands, of query letters to publishers and agents in order to either secure a book deal, or at least representation for such.  But those were the old days.  

Then came the dawn of self-publishing!  

I suddenly realized it was a brave new world for anyone who wanted to make their dream come true.  Unlike regular tradition, anyone who possessed enough money for the investment could pay to have their book made into reality.  There were no letters to send out.  No one you had to impress.  

The good thing about this was obvious.  Talented writers, who had previously not received a fair opportunity, and who had a great story to tell, could now get it out there and share it with the reading public.  Unfortunately, the downside of this was that some people who had no business writing a book would put — what many avid readers would consider — complete garbage on the market.  And then you had everything in between.  Thus, readers found themselves becoming much more selective and careful when making their purchases; and they found themselves publicly sharing their opinions (via the internet mostly) freely and liberally with any who would listen.

Just when it seemed that the writing revolution had played its last card, then came the ebook revolution.  Now anyone could suddenly write a book for free!  And the same thing as above happened once again, only this time in a new electronic format.

The main thing that all of these methods of publishing have in common is the writing itself.  And, if you do this correctly, this will keep you super busy in the very beginning.  Effective writers conduct research and schedule and keep interviews with key people who can give them helpful information for the books they write.  So here you have only three vastly time consuming duties in the single duty of writing.

As for the various ways of becoming published, there are advantages and disadvantages to each avenue.  I’ve never traditionally published myself, but I’ve heard that, the advantages in this classic way of publishing far outweigh the disadvantages.   For example, most traditional publishers will pay you up front to begin writing your book.  With the investment being made on the front end, the publishers make their money as your books begin and continue to sell on the market.  If they end up receiving a return on investment, then you can almost bet they will offer you another book deal.  If not, then there is always flipping burgers or dancing topless (or maybe both simultaneously…though I would not much recommend this!).  

As for the disadvantages of traditional publishing, many stories abound about how writers suggested a certain look to their cover and were totally blown off by the production team.  It is sad there is little creative control unless it is somehow written into the contract beforehand.  

As for self-publishing, it is about totally flipped upside down as compared to traditional publishing.  No one produces your book until you pay them.  Usually they will give you a lot of leeway in creativity.  Because of the usual steep investment required in self-publishing, most companies give you a lot of creative controls for your money.  

When it comes to ebook publishing, it is basically the best of both worlds, but without the final proud moment of holding a physical book in your hand.  You have complete creative control over everything.  And it costs basically nothing other than time (unless you pay someone to design your book cover) to produce your book and publish it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and various other publishers / booksellers out there.  

The biggest thing I have discovered about both self-publishing and ebook publishing is that in the end, writing the book seemed to be the easiest aspect of the process.  The hardest part, that which I never bargained for, lay in the marketing required for making any sort of profit.  I’m totally new to the process, but I am becoming very savvy very quickly as I post constant updates on Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media websites out there.  With traditional publishing, this is one headache that many writers are thankful to avoid.  And for this, I am very jealous of them.  

Many of you probably ask:  Was it all worth it in the end?  I cannot honestly answer this, because I haven’t yet reached the end…whatever the end happens to be.  Hell, maybe I end up doing an imitation of the King of Rock and Roll and end up dying on the toilet — not exactly the end I’m wanting, but okay.  Or maybe I become the next best thing to Tom Clancy.  Now, there we go!

What I can surely tell you is that quite a bit goes into writing a book, no matter how you do it…especially if you want to make any kind of money for doing so.  

The Top 5 Myths of Becoming a Successful Writer

It is easy for a reader to see various activities in which writers become involved and automatically assume that this is a really cool life to live. But the cold reality sometimes takes a while to set in. There are many myths about writing that some people never realize until they spend a lot of time and money pursuing activities that they were never truly ready to tackle.

Myth #1: Writing is an easy life to live.

Nothing can be further than the truth. Many people think that writers just sit down at a computer and pound away at the keyboard producing flowery descriptions with little effort more than utilizing their imaginations. Yes, you do spend a lot of time at the keyboard. But when you consider how much time is needed to prepare your work for reading and then promoting it enough to become successful, you will quickly see that the time spent at the keyboard is actually
minimal at best!

My breakout novel, 2018: An Uncivil War, was released only three months ago. And I’ve been working day and night just to sell the small number of e-books that I’ve been fortunate enough to sell. I’ve only sold slightly more than 25 copies!  And the price of my book has fluctuated between only 99 cents and $6.99. You would think that at that price, I would have sold more.

Basically, I’m finding out fast that the writing of the book seems to be only about a quarter of the battle. Even before I thought about touching the keyboard, I had to conduct a lot of research and set up various interviews with people who would act as technical advisers for my project. Then after my work was written, I had to work with an editor to clear up a lot of inconsistencies and human mistakes. Furthermore, I had to read and re-read my story in an effort to spot things that both me and my editor had initially missed. Finally, I had to spend time publishing my e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

So that was everything, right? Wrong!

Next I had to get out and promote my story, and convince readers to buy it. This was perhaps the hardest part of the process! Let’s face it. Writers like Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn may be gone, but their work is hardly forgotten. Then established writers like James Patterson and Brad Thor make it very difficult for anyone to even consider reading my work. After all, who the hell has heard of Phil Sanderson? Hardly no one, yet. So thus, my work is cut out for me. Now I am
finding out that the bulk of activity for new writers is in getting their names out in this cruel, unforgiving literary market.

Myth #2: It won’t take too much to get your name out there.

Some of the other myths I dispel hereafter will clear this myth away. It has been my goal from the very beginning to light a match and ignite my novel. I don’t mean to sarcastically and literally burn the damned thing, but to get it to where it catches fire with the general public, and they begin to become aware of it and embrace it.  But if my novel was charcoal to be used for a cookout, perhaps it is old and not up to the task. Or maybe it is, and I just haven’t found the right fluid to use.  Only time and fortune will tell!

Actually, there was a time for a moment when the flames seemed like they were coming along well, but now they seem to have died down. And every effort I make now to fan the flames doesn’t seem to be enough. I feel as though I am having to go back again and again and squeeze out more fluid onto these deceptive coal clumps in an effort to get it going again. And this can be very disheartening to the beginning writer. And — as I mentioned before! — writing seems like it is an easy job. But the cold, hard truth of the matter is that writing is not for sissies!

Myth #3: Book signings are the key to success.

I have set up five e-book signings to promote my novel so far. I set them up in some local coffee shops, a pawn shop, and two college campus book stores. I thought that my ingenuity of creating an e-book signing would be enough to peak people’s interest into curious attendance. But every turnout I had was minimal at best. It would, no doubt, have been much different if my name was James Patterson or Brad Thor!  I had even taken the time to create my own posters and fliers (announcing my novel and boasting my author image), but that was not enough to have a hugely successful turnout. On average, each book signing only sold one of my novels. But for a brand-new, unheard-of fiction writer, I didn’t consider that too bad at all.  But the scary truth of the matter is that I spent more money preparing for these book signings than I ended up receiving through book royalties.  So why do I consider it a success at all if I found myself in the hole afterward? Because the life of every writer depends on how well he or she can get her name out there. I consider the time spent as an investment. But it was hardly the key to any overall success.

Myth #4: To become a successful writer in the modern world requires little start-up costs.

The advent of the e-book revolution has been a blessing in the regard that writers no longer need to impress agents and publishers in order to get their book out on the market. Nor do they have to pay an independent publisher or book printer in order to have a book out there.  But realistically, traditional publishing still wins out at the end of the day due to the simple fact that these corporate publishing houses have a lot more money to invest in publicity and promotion than your unheard-of struggling writers like myself.

But this is not to say that it cannot be done! Vince Flynn is perfect proof of this. His very first novel, Continue reading The Top 5 Myths of Becoming a Successful Writer