Tuesday, 18 October 2011

And so my writing journey continues...

I'm sitting here this afternoon, in my little office (the back bedroom, to be exact) at the Ikea table that doubles as a desk, surrounded by piles of random pieces of paper that all contain quite important snippets of information ranging from how to upload my novels onto Amazon (although, strictly speaking, I leave all that technical stuff to my husband) to notes on my new novel, all of which should be filed neatly away somewhere but after years of working as a media technician in offices that ran on organised chaos, I'm kind of used to the system I've got.  It works.  Until I lose something important then I'll doubtless go off on one and blame someone entirely innocent for the fact that I can't be bothered to get organised!

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, I'm sitting here in my little office just thinking about the journey I've been on since June this year.  A journey which saw me transform myself from somebody who was banging her head off the dining room table in frustration because not one agent wanted to accept any of her 3 novels, into someone who decided to take the plunge and self-publish those novels myself.  And it's been one hell of a journey so far, but it's also a journey that is still in its very, very early stages.  Believe me, this is something you come into for the long haul.  What is it people say?  It's a marathon, not a sprint.  Well, they got that right when it comes to being a self-published writer!

I've learnt so many things since my first day as an independent author (a day I actually spent standing in a queue for over 3 hours outside the Stadium of Light football ground waiting to see Take That, but at least it took my mind off how my first book was selling!) and I don't think there's a day gone by when I haven't learnt something new.  It makes me quite dizzy when I think about everything I've read, all the stuff I've had to take in, the things I still have to do in order for me to get the exposure I need for my books to get noticed.  Hard work doesn't even begin to describe it, so if anybody dares tell me that being a writer is an easy life I can't be held responsible for the response I may give.

But the most important thing I've probably gained in all of this so far is support.  And a lot of that support is from people I've "met" through Twitter and Facebook, people I've never spoken to face to face but people who have helped me more than I could ever have imagined.  Because I really do feel like I'm doing this on my own.  As far as family are concerned, they just think I'm "playing" at this, and very rarely even ask how things are going as far as my writing is concerned, and yes, that makes me sad because I would love the close knit support that family can bring.  Even at the age of 43 I'm still hoping that one day I'll make my mother proud of me.  But meeting people just like me, people who are on the same journey, that's been a revalation.  That's made me feel not quite so alone, and I want every one of those people - should they read this - to know that I appreciate every post they've shared on Facebook, every Tweet they've RT'd on Twitter, every kind word they've said about my books, all of that goes a long way to making a new and still very inexperienced author like myself feel like it's worth carrying on with this journey, just to see where it takes me.

Because I don't know, in all honesty, where this will eventually take me.  Do any of us?  I know I'm never going to make a fortune out of it, and I know there is so much hard work still left to do - one thing nobody warns you about when you start out on this journey is the sheer hard work involved in marketing not only your books but also yourself! - but I'm determined to carry on and see what happens, because I love what I do.  I love writing, I love creating new stories and characters, and I just want people to enjoy what I write, and hopefully accompany me as I continue on this journey.

So, to sum up, let's see what I've learned so far.

1)  Not to get hung up on sales figures.  I know that we all want our books to sell but I've found that becoming obsessed with sales figures can only lead to frustration, disappointment and a huge distraction that can set you back days!  I've learned to smile when a book sells, accept that I'm not Jackie Collins, and do everything I can to make people want to check out my work.  That's all I can do.  And I think I'm finally happy with that.

2)  Writing a new book is the hardest thing in the world to do once you're self-published.  Why?  Because you've got a lot less time, that's why.  When I wrote my first 3 novels I would sit down first thing in the morning and write constantly for hours on end until around 5/6 0'clock in the evening.  There was nothing else to concentrate on except writing those books, but now there's still promotion to do on existing books, blogs to write, websites to set up ... actually finding the time to sit down and write is the most difficult thing in the world!  And even when I promise myself that I'm going to have a day when I do nothing but write, I start to feel guilty that I haven't been out there promoting/marketing, etc.  But I do need to sit down and give myself days like that because, if you don't, I think it's all too easy to get bogged down with everything else and forget why you came into this in the first place - to write!

3)  You need support.  An absolute must.  It's a lonely job being a writer, and yes, I do like my own company and sometimes I need to be alone with just my imagination, but there are times when I also need to realise there's a world out there and actually talk to someone - even if that's just on Twitter or Facebook!  Distractions help, sometimes.

4)  Don't give up, even when you have days when it all seems pointless, when everyone's selling more than you and you feel like you're just not good enough for this.  I'm sure all writers - especially indie authors - feel like this at times, but it passes.  I know that now.

Kick-ass romance? You bet!

5)  Be proud of what I write.  There are days, you see, when I wonder if people really want to read the kind of stuff I write because, looking around at a lot of the books that are selling well at the minute, a lot of them are so different to what I write.  I don't do gothic fantasy or thrillers, I can't write horror or anything deep and meaningful and no vampires have ever been anywhere near one of my storylines.  I write kick-ass romance, alright! ;-) And I'm proud of that!

6)  Being an indie author can be fun - if you let it!

Ok, I've rambled enough now, I think it's probably time I actually got back to practising what I preach and actually do some writing!

But, before I go, I'd just like to say a couple more thank you's, to people who've been a bigger help than they could ever know.  To the wonderful @Mummy_Misfit for allowing me to vent any anger/frustration/general feelings about anything in particular in emails.  She's another indie author, just like me, and someone I now consider a friend.  She deserves a lot of thanks.

Another kick-ass romance? Absolutely!
And to all of those who put up with my small but sometimes full-throttle Bradley Cooper obsession - (just wait 'til The Hangover 2 comes out on DVD! You won't know what's hit you!) - thank you for listening to my inane ramblings. But I'm still calling it "research"...

Oh, and before I go, I'm touting around for anyone who wants to interview a new, up-and-coming indie author who is trying desperately to become the Jackie Collins of South West Durham ... any takers?  You see, the marketing never stops ... ;-)




2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the lovely mention and, likewise, you've been there for me! Writing doesn't have to be a lonely profession anymore or, indeed, a closed one. They won't keep us Indies down! I continue to wish you every success and one day we WILL celebrate! x

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  2. One day we certainly will! Perseverance is the key, we've just got to keep at it! We'll get there, because we're determined! :)x

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