Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The A-Z of an Indie Writer

This week I’m looking at the A-Z of my life as an INDIE. This list will differ from writer to writer but I’d bet my last pound that some of them will always be the same.

See what you think:

A is for APATHY.  Yes, there will always be those moments or sometimes days when I just have to push, push, push to get to my target.  But I always feel better for it afterwards.

B is for BULLSH*T.  Oh boy, have I been spun some in my time.  I’m sure when it was happening that the agents or publishing houses believed what they were saying but please tread carefully with writers’ dreams.

C is for COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE.  Absolute essentials and if I was told I was banned from having them, I would simply refuse to write another word.

D is for DETERMINATION.  As a writer you need to have this in bucket loads.  Writing a novel starts with the words CHAPTER ONE and finishes with THE END.  There is no way to get to that point without dogged determination and discipline.  

E is for EDITING.  What more can I say, except grrrrrr!  The first draft is complete and then the hard work really begins.  After weeks of my own editing, the book then goes to hubbie and the red marker pen comes out, as does my vicious tongue, endless nights of bickering/sulking and the threat of divorce!  It’s a horrible time but we laugh (manically!) about it when it’s over.

F is for FOLLOWERS.  Those lovely people I’ve met through my writing who leave glowing reviews and eagerly await my next offering.  I love each and every one of them - without them I’d be nothing.

G is for GERM.  That wonderful moment when the first seed of a plot starts to grow arms and legs.  When suddenly you find that your head is filled with brand new characters telling you their stories.

H is for HOPE.  Every day starts with a fresh bout.  Will I have a stonkering sales day?  Will my words flow effortlessly?  Will I be discovered and shot to fame?  Without hope, we’re nothing.

I is for INSPIRATION.  Where on earth does it come from?  It’s quite scary really because it often appears from nowhere and hits me with a plot before I know it.  Completing the Puzzle’ was inspired by a battered old Mini I see every day on my travels.  It made me think of the sons in the sitcom ‘Butterflies’ and, before I knew it - bam, I had a plot!  The idea for my latest Work In Progress came from an ad for a Bingo website - and no, not one game of Bingo features but it was enough to get me thinking.

J is for JITTERS.  As each new book is launched, I tremble with fear.  What if my readers don’t like it?  What if it’s totally panned?  Only after that first review hits Amazon, do I begin to calm down.

K is for KNOCKBACKS.  I haven’t submitted to an agent or publisher for over a year now as I felt that I’d had my emotions played around with just a little too much.  Not only was I rejected by a few (who hasn’t been?) but I was also signed up and messed about.  I was even approached by another agent who asked me to submit the complete manuscript for ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’ never to hear back from him again - and when chased up, he ignored me.  Rude!  I’m doing quite nicely as an Indie now and I don’t need to prostitute myself again.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, wrote the book.  If you want me, come and get me.  Simples!

L is for LAPTOP.  I’m practically surgically attached to it.  My first novel was written on a laptop I borrowed from my Goddaughter and it changed my writing life.  Before, I had always written in long-hand and I now know this is not the method for me.  Threaten my laptop and I will become vicious - it’s my life-support!

M  is for MORALE.  It’s important to stay upbeat as an Indie.  I have no agent, editor, publicist or publisher to chivvy me along and keep my spirits up and a ‘down-day’ has the potential to set me back for weeks.  This is where fellow Indies come in.  What a great bunch we are!  Anything I’m going through I can guarantee that they will have been through it too.  A quick, chat, Tweet, text or email and everything is put back into perspective.  Writers need never feel lonely now - it’s wonderful!

N is for NETWORKING.  Where would we Indies be without it?  From Facebook to Twitter, guest blogs to book websites.  Every minute not spent writing is spent marketing and that comes from networking.  I firmly believe that without Twitter I would have sold less than half the books I can brag about now.

O is for OMG!  That wonderful moment when someone other than a friend or family discovers my books and says they love them.  I can still remember that first time and the feeling it gave me.  I wish it could be bottled.

P is for PLOT-FACE.  I’m told by hubbie that this is a look I often sport.  It’s a kind of ‘dreamy, not quite in the room’ look and can often be accompanied by a very deep, throaty hum.  Give me a few minutes and I’m back but please don’t talk to me if I’m ‘under’!

Q is for QUALITY.  Always hoping that my latest book is as good as my others - that it will be as well received and of the standard my readers expect.  I’ve just finished reading a novel by a very well known and established author and it could only be described as lazy.  Constant repetition to the point I wanted to chuck it in the bin but I’d invested so much time in it I needed to know what happened.  Nothing is the answer - nothing that she hadn’t told us seven times before.  Shame on the publishers for churning out sub-standard books from your top writers, just because you know they’ll sell.

R is for REVIEWS.  Now, tempting fate here but I’ve been lucky with mine.  I know it won’t last because you can’t expect everyone to like your work.  I’ve read some real stinkers (even for traditionally published writers) and I’m always amazed by how spiteful people can be.  If I don’t like a book, I don’t post a review - writers have feelings you know and when you slate a book it’s a bit like telling them their baby is ugly.  Don’t do it!

S is for SALES.  As an Indie it’s very easy to become obsessed.  In the early days I used to check my sales report page every half an hour (sad but true).  Each and every sale still makes me smile - people are finding my books and my hard work is paying off.

T is for TYPOS.  Curse of the indie writer.  There are three of us who work on the final copy of my books and, each time I’ve released one, typos have still managed to slip through the net.  It still annoys me when I read reviews for other Indie books and the reader says, ‘You could tell it was self-published.  Typos!’  Trust me, it’s not just us.  Recently I’ve spotted more and more mistakes in big name novels - sack the proof-reader, I say.  Oh, and I can’t sack mine because they’re hubbie and best friend!

U is for UNAUTHORISED.  The annoying websites who get a copy of my novels when I’ve done a freebie promotion and then upload it, thinking they can sell it for profit.  Or the people who try to sell a paperback copy for £150!   GO AWAY!

V is for VA VA VOOM.  Those days when nothing will stop me.  The words are flying from my brain to my fingertips and the plot is racing along at a rate of knots.  I cherish those days -I never know when I’ll get another one.

W is for WASHING MACHINE.  Odd but true.  If I’m battling with a scene or dialogue, a trip to the washing machine and a quick flick of the kettle will see me returning to my computer with newfound oomph.  Just the act of loading or unloading the laundry seems to give me the shake-up I need.

X is for the X FACTOR.  With each new book I write I ask myself can I give it that special ‘something’?  Does it have my voice, my style?  Is it good enough?  What makes it different from anything else out there?  I can only do this by constant reading and research - it’s a job that never ends.

Y is for YAY!  This is how I feel each time I check my sales.  I’m a published writer, selling my books.  What a feeling!  My son always shouts, ‘Go Ma!’ when I tell him my sales figures for the day - that makes me feel so proud.

Z is for Zzzzzzzz!  Because there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to let a plot settle and problems to resolve themselves.  Often my first waking thought will be the answer to an issue I’ve been struggling with.  The whole of the last page of ‘Christmas Deliverance’ was changed after a moment of sleep-induced clarity and it became a much better book for it.

So come on Indies - or any writers - do you agree?  Which would you change?  Why not do your own A-Z on your blog and let me know.  It would be interesting to see how many we agree on.

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