Being an Indie author.

Where does the time go for an indie writer? Allotting the proper use of time seems to be the most pressing issue in my life. It seems that I have five segments that require my attention.

As a writer, the very first is thinking up a story and putting it to paper. Not an easy task for me at least. Contemplating the theme of my next story, outlining a general plot and then trying to put it all together. I wish I had 24 hours a day just do that. As a writer I find that I can often maintain an average of 2000 words a day on a story that is well-developed and ready to be written. Unlike more prolific writers than myself, my novels tend to run less than 80,000 words. Which means if all goes well, 40 days or less of writing could produce a novel. Sadly rare is the case that I can write more than two or three consecutive days without something interfering. Therefore those 40 days spread the two or three months.

Alas, a second even more demanding task befalls me. That is editing and rewriting what I have already written. Unfortunately I have found that at least three times that amount of time is required to edit one. That is with myself and a few devoted friends who are willing to help. During that time. of course any new writing suffers. Not only is it more time-consuming, it is far less rewarding to read the same sentences 4, 5, sometimes 10 times each. Then only to find that it still does not sound right and a section must be completely rewritten.

The next task while not nearly as time-consuming, can be even more frustrating. Coming up with a cover for the story. While not yet satisfied with the amount of money coming in, I am forced to generate my own covers. They may not be as clean and polished as some of my competitors, but I feel comfortable with them.

Now I have written my book! I have done the editing. And it has a cover that I am proud of. The hard work begins. Even though I publish on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing which is free to the user, there is a lot of work involved. Working the many blogs to try to publicize my work. Using social media’s as best I know how, which is limited takes far more time then it is really worth. Also involved is the discounts and giveaways. They have to be coordinated so not to overlap each other too much.

The fifth thing may be the most important of all. Real life! How to deal with the daily grind of keeping a spouse happy, doing the daily chores and in general communicating with the rest of the world who are not involved in the book. At least I don’t have a real-world job that takes some of my time as well.

Oh my, I forgot something. Sleep! Oh well we can forget about that or at the least cut it back.

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Reviews

Writing can be such a thrill, or a grind.  Each day I attempt to put words to “paper”.  Some days it is easier than others.  But then comes the hard part.  Reading the words that I have written.  When I first took it upon myself to dedicate myself to my writing, these last tasks were forgotten.  I was content to put words down and move on.

I even had a smug feeling that after a few re-reads, my works were exceptionally well written.  What a joke that is.  I just recently read that Walt Whitman was still reworking ‘Blades of Grass’ on his deathbed.  No writer should consider their work complete until they die.  There is always something you could have done better.

But is it perfect, or just ready for the public to read?  When you release it to the public, it is time for the reviews.

Reviews!  Writers all pray for them.  Good or bad I want them so I can see where I stand as a writer.  But what about the one that is totally basis?

I got a bad review, which did not bother me too much.  I expect good and bad reviews for the same work.  But I looked at the reviewers list of reviews.  Twenty five were posted in a two day span.  Six were full length novels up to 450 pages.  There were works with over two thousand four hundred pages listed.  Maybe they were holding the reviews.  But close to a thousand pages were published in the last two weeks.  A lot of reading.  Wish I could read or even write that fast.

That review did not bother me.  My next bad review did!

I read the story they had panned.

My word, if I had read that from another author, I would not have been so kind in my review as to give it a two star, maybe a minus two star would be more like it. 

Reviews, good or bad we all look for them.  Please take the time to review a book the next time you read one.  It might help the writer to improve.

SELF EDITING

Self editing is a pain.  It is inefficient.  And sometimes totally incompetent.

But what is the novice to do?  Not every writer is in a position to invest in a good proofreader and /or editor.  Should you publish a flawed piece of work, or possibly not publish at all?  It depends on what your real goal is.  Consider if you want to get out a good story, but just can’t get over that last huddle, should you publish or not.  Is a minor error going to kill it.  Remember I said a minor flaw here or there, not an incompetent piece of writing.

First, write the best you can.  Do your own proofing using tools that you can obtain free.  Spell check is the first.  Slick Write is another great tool. I find after I have read my rough draft two to three times and employed these tools, I am ready for my next tool.

Second, loading my story into a text to word program.  There are several free or very cheap ones available.  With a copy of my story on the screen I follow the computer’s program as it reads it back to me.  I don’t use the version the program uses, I use the one I am used to working with. Even before I hear that clunk, when the computer reads what I wrote and it is the incorrect word, either for the usage or the spelling, I often see my errors.  Sometimes words are missing altogether.

Third, feeling very confident with my work, I trust my baby to my editor.  In my case a friend with no more experience than myself, but at least someone with no preconceived idea of the word usage.

With the work returned to me from my editor, I am now ready to begin STEP ONE once more.

On my novel Her Inheritance, which I hope to publish this month, we are in the fifth cycle of steps one through three.  Even at this stage I would not bet against errors creeping into the work.  But there is the rub. Without the resources to invest in the process and the near impossibility of most writers breaking into the world of publishing houses, we Indie writers must do the best we can, hoping that it is acceptable to the readers who invest in us.

The possibility of a few minor errors in an Indie e book is something I can live with as a reader, maybe not ever reader can..  To find the same error in a book published by an established publishing house, I would find it outrageous.  They pay many people to find the errors.  For that level of work I am expected to pay very good money.

As a writer myself, I know the joy of putting words into print that others read. So when I read a book written by another novice I concentrate on the experience, not the technical aspects.  For this reason, most Indie writers are willing to sell their books at a far lower price, as well as to a more limited market in the hope of offering others the joy of reading what we as writers find to be a pleasure.

JOURNEY

 

Being an Indie author is not what I expected.  It has been a long torturous journey to reach this stage of my writing life.  For any who have walked these roads before, I feel your pain.

 

When I was young, I had visions of writing the next Gone With The Wind.  In fact  my first novel was a Civil War Romance.  By the time I got into college, I had a few life altering experiences and thought the book was trash (too erotic).  It found its way to the dumpster.  Today I regret that action, not that the book was any good, but I would liked to have reviewed my writing style.

 

Switching to poetry, my life continued.  Real life has a way of getting in the way of the part-time writer.  Jobs, marriage, children, all tend to eat up your free time.  Sure there were burst of desire to fill pages with words, but they were fewer and farther between.  Looking forward to the empty nest came and past.  Sure words came out, but not enough to fill a book, not even short stories.  I had the kernel of the book in my mind.  I knew what I was going to write.  I would write ten, even twenty pages before life dragged me back into its claws demanding real world actions.  Time would pass before I would come across the hand written pages and vow to finish it.  Sadly my first task was to read it so I could remember where I was in the story.  This invariably lead to a rewrite of that section.  Final the age of computers came into my life.  I imputed my story into the spider web of electronics.  Several attempts in that manner got no further.

 

Last December, I found my story once more.  The tattered piece of writing was just laying there like a forgotten rag on the side of the road.  I still had the story all mapped out in my mind, but there was so little of it on the screen.  With a renewed vow to complete it, I began to shut out reality.  I kept a running log of how many words I wrote each and every day.  Yes every day.  I vowed to write every day until it was done.  No pausing to rewrite.  Just put one word on the screen after another.  It didn’t matter how good it was, it just had to reach the finish line.  It was not the great American Novel.  It was a mere seventy thousand words.  After over twenty years of struggle to put it together, the first draft was done.

 

Wondering what to do next, I did the normal read through to look for the obvious errors.  Oh my God, it was a minefield of typos, misused words and just bad writing.  Spell check only goes so far.  It does not tell you about the “right” word when you used “write” instead. Proud of my finished work, I read blogs on how to submit my work. Agents, publishing houses all had different critique to submit. Formatting my novel into a half dozen versions, I began the task of begging someone to read it.  As any newbie knows, that is a near impossible quest.

 

All was not lost, my mind had been ignited with the juices that fuel writers.  The sequel to the first novel flowed from me faster than the first.  The words spilled out day and night.  I had two novels.  Neither was in a finished form, but I had two completed.  Even a third novel began to flow outward, then it hit.  Writer’s block.  I had lost the flow.  My vow to keep writing everyday would not be broken.  An idea rolled around in my mind.  On a whim, I started to write the story.  It was nothing I planned, just a quickie to keep my juices flowing.

 

It was nothing like my novels.  I had written an erotic short story.  It was a fun write.  Nothing I would do anything with, just a fun piece to keep my mind working.  It did what I hoped it would do.  I thought of a new story.  A new novel.  Like the second, the story began to write itself.  The characters began to tell me what to write.  I was less than half way though the story when I lost control of the book.  My end goal was lost as the characters took on a life of their own.

 

I had three novels sitting on my computer, all requiring rewrite and proofreading, but the mind would not stop pumping out story lines.  One short story lead to another.  Most were not connected.  Until one day I was just writing one story about my heroine, Gail Gilmore when I realized all the stories should be tied together.  It took time to find the connections but I had a fourth novel.  The sequel demanded that I write it as well.

 

There I sat with five novels and several short stories.  How to get them out so people could read them?  Like any other novice writer, my in-box was full of rejections.  I looked thought my works for the one that was most ready for publication, in my opinion.  The one I chose was not my best, nor my favorite.  It was the one most ready for that next step.  Months of reading about publishing, coupled with the rejections convinced me that the only way to see any of my works “in print” could only be done through self-publishing of e-books.

 

Tentatively I polished a few short stories to learn the tools that were needed.  My goal was to provide free stories to get my name out.  To my dismay, Amazon required that I put a price on them.  That was defeating my hope of putting my name in the market place, but I did as demanded. To my amazement, someone bought one.  Wow, what a rush.  I was not planning on making money, even the few cents profit, it was just that someone cared enough to spend money for something I wrote.

 

More short stories followed before my first novel appeared online thanks to a great friend who has acted as my editor to keep me on track.  The first copy of the novel to sell was another thrill.  Now each weekend, I put at least one short story on line for free to let new people read my style.

 

The journey while short in real time, less than a year has been a lifetime struggle. Any day I do not write at least a thousand words, I feel I have wasted the day.  I know I need to rewrite.  I need to proof read.  I need to expand my mind by reading others, but I feel a day is lost unless I write something new, even if it is just words in a blog.

 

With another novel in the final stages of proof reading, I hope to have it on line soon, but even as I work on it, I am deep into the story of my seventh novel.  The problem with writing a new novel, for me at least, is I fall in love with the characters.  They are not mere words, they are real.  I see them during the day.  Many nights they inhabit my dreams.  Something happens in real life and I can’t help but think of a character doing something similar in my story.  They devour my every thought.  Sometimes I get upset with real life for interfering with my interaction with them

 

Sorry to bend your ear for so long.  Just the ramblings of an Indie writer struggling to let the world hear my voice.

POV for Erotic Stories

I recently read a great blog by Faith Tyler concerning the gender of erotic writers. I was going to comment directly on her blog, but felt I had more to say on the issue, than a simple quick quip.  It got me thinking about my own stories and novels.  As you read this you will see how I digress from her point of view to a whole different topic, sorry but this is really just a stream of conscience at times.

 

In her comments she explained that often feminine sounding writer’s names were more than likely males.  She was probably correct in many cases.  The telltale points, as she put it, being the way the female heroine was treated or responded.

 

When I first started writing, many, many years ago, my first novel, (yet to be published) was a science fiction story.  At the time, few such stories were written from the female point of view, so of course my story took a male slant, and my intended pen name was masculine in nature.

 

Once I hit upon Kindle Direct Publishing, a whole new world opened up to me as a writer.  No longer was I constrained by trying to fight my way though the world of agents and multifaceted publishing houses with their premature judgments of a writer just by the sound of the name (female, male, or all of the above).  I could write what I wanted and present it to the world in my own way.

 

At first the words spilled out rapidly in the form of novels.  Too fast at times.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work involved in putting a finished product on the market.  The re-write, the cover, all had to be done, then redone.  Bored with the process I began to pen short stories.  They began in part because of my reading what others had published on Amazon.  Reading many of the stories, I was appalled by the lack of editing for one thing, as well as the poorly presented views in sex scenes.

 

In an effort to improve my own writing, I follow many blogs concerning writing.  I found beta reader blogs on Facebook to be very helpful. While others would read my works, I had the opportunity to read many other struggling writers attempts.

 

Now back to my original point.  It seemed to me that the vast amount of stories being submitted to Amazon had a male slant, no matter the name listed as author.  I began to experiment with short stories of my own.  I currently have several on Amazon.  In watching my limited sales and give away numbers, the stories with the females subservient to the males tend to move faster.  Even stories written first person female, do better if the woman lets the man take the lead.

 

The conclusion I have drawn from my limited exposure to the demands of readers is a tendency to want women who are quick to have orgasms and men who last all night long.  Both cases are seldom true in real life, but from personal experiences, it may be more true for women than men.  Given the right circumstances, a woman who is predisposed to having a sexual encounter might have worked her mind up to be ready for such an event long before the man even arrives on the scene.  In that case, very little simulation is required for an orgasm.  Sadly, if a man has the same predisposition for such an encounter, he is more than likely to be fighting premature ejaculation, rather than a long slow bout of making love.

 

With that in mind, I tend to write my stories making women have rapid and multiple orgasm while the men last forever.  Stories are not reality, (they are not intended to be) they are out there to simulate the reader’s mind, and body sometimes.  It is the job of the writer to find the points of view that please the most readers as possible.  If that means sounding more masculine in style, then often the writer might do that.

 

A short story I wrote called “Frat Party” was written from a first person view of a young woman.  She got involved in a gang bang situation.  When I wrote the story, it was just to see if it would “sell”, most of my short stories were written to be given away, but I call them sales.  I disliked the story.  Multiple men having both oral and anal sex with her (which I haven’t tried, so had to guess as to the true feelings) did not excite me.  But as soon as I put it up, it began moving.

 

Maybe I’m appealing to mostly men, but short stories I have put out with a more feminine point of view are not doing as well.  Maybe that’s why Faith saw so many males using female names.

 

Just my thoughts on the subject.

WRITING FOR SELF

Writing is entertaining one’s self at its highest level.  Unlike a book, a movie or a TV show, you are not constrained by a time line you can’t control.  As a writer, the story goes where you choose, well most of the time.  I have been writing at times with one goal in mind, when my character leaps from the page to say, “No, that’s not right.  I need to do this.”

When a character comes so alive that they dictate the story line, it is even better.  The story is alive.  Just as the good Doctor Frankenstein had his creature, so do does every writer who has that “Ah ha moment.”  The moment when the story comes flowing out faster than you can put it to paper, or type it into your computer. Those moments are rare for me, but when they occur I know that part of the story is worth saving at any cost.

A character who comes alive for the write is just as real as the neighbor next door.  The character has likes and dislikes.  Not all exposed on the printed pages, but you as a writer know those traits.  Often they are only glimpsed by the reader, but the writer holds them close, knowing it’s why the character acts as they do.  In one novel I wrote, I failed to realize that one character was a black woman until my editor commented on the fact and wondered why I had not fully described her.  It never occurred to me, she was just a woman in the story.  As I said, some character take on a life of their own without the writer knowing it at times.  These are my favorite characters.

I had a character in one novel whose story line ended.  When I went back to proof that section, I was so upset by her conclusion in that novel, I had to bring her story line back in the next book even if she were not part of the main story.  I could not leave her in misery.  She was too good of a person for that.  She had come alive in my mind.  She was real, she had heartaches and I wanted to help her.  She was not just words on a page to me.

When I write, it is for myself.  My hope is that others will read it, and enjoy the characters as much as I do.  But even without readers, writing is my pleasure.