How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo: (Flashback + Reminder Post :-))

Sooo, it’s officially Nanowrimo–National Novel Writing Month! It’s that period of time when writers from all over the world gather around the Christmas tree and exchange presents while being grateful for all of the–

Okay, no wait. Wrong holiday.

*clears throat* *starts again*

It’s National Novel Writing Month! That month where writers–new and seasoned, come together in the spirit of one goal and one goal only: Write a novel in a month.

Is this absolutely crazy? Yes.

Is this something that requires a ton of hard work? Yes.

Is this something that’s even possible? Hell yes. 🙂

For the past four or so years, I’ve joined in on this crazy mission, and while some years have gone far better than others, I’ve learned quite a bit. So, here are my top bits of advice for anyone brave + awesome enough to embark on this crazy ride:

1. Commit. (And then commit again and again whenever you find yourself waning.) Tell yourself that you are definitely going to give it your all every day in November–on good days, bad days, and even meh days. You will write every day. You. will. write. every. day. You may not achieve your desired word count every day, but you will *write* no matter what.

2. Set realistic goals, and write them down. Nanowrimo calls for a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, but if you write slower than the minimum (1667 words a day) then no worries! Set your own Nanowrimo goal and commit to that. The ultimate goal here, to me, anyway, is to get in the habit of writing every day. If you do that throughout November, you win. 🙂

2a. If you do write faster than the minimum, challenge yourself to do a little bit more. Or, if you want to *try* writing faster than the minimum, I highly recommend this book: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. It’s a pretty fast paced + super fun read.

3. Remember that scheduling is your friend. Try to write around the same time every day or carve the same amount of time out for your writing every day. Doing so helps you get into a routine and prevents your mind from getting distracted with things that won’t help you achieve your goal.

4. Limit social media & the internet in general. No, really. Pick a certain amount of minutes you will use the internet per day and stick to it. You won’t miss anything that’s happening in author world, but just in case you think you might be, allow me to give you a huge spoiler alert for everything that will happen in November in author-land: An author will release a pretty cover with a great blurb. Awesome readers will swoon over it. The book will release and readers will read it and swoon over it more. This will probably happen every day for the rest of the month. 🙂

Personal example: For Nanowrimo, I vow to only use social media/internet for an hour a day, but I can only use 15 minutes at a time. Whatever doesn’t get addressed within that timeframe has to wait until the next 15 minutes, and whatever doesn’t get done within my hour for the day has to wait until tomorrow. #noexcuses #noexceptions

I also try to preschedule my page and check in shortly after the posts go live so I can say “hello” to the awesome people who are brave enough to follow me.  I try not to linger for too long, though. Because I know that deep down, what they really want is my next book 🙂

5. Connect with other writers. (Yes, without the internet 🙂 ) Whenever you get a chance, try using the nanowrimo website and joining the region/city group closest to you. They usually have a schedule posted where the weekly meet-ups will be, and if you’ve never attempted to write a chapter in an IHOP at midnight with a group of other writers, you have not truly lived yet, my friend. 🙂

6. Remember that you’re striving for progress, not perfection. If you write 50,000 words in a month, I can guarantee that they’re probably not your *best* words, but that’s okay! This is only the first draft! You have all of December + more to fine tune your nano-baby into a full blown novel that’s awesome. So, don’t get hung up on awkward sentences, imperfect scenes, or dialogue that needs a bit more style. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. (Edit later.)

7. Take breaks. Lots of breaks. If your story isn’t working at any point, or if you’re getting frustrated or down about your progress, shut down your computer and walk away for a while. Pick up a book, watch an episode of a show, take a short walk outside, anything. Do whatever you can for a half hour or an hour to clear your mind, and then return to your novel with a different frame of mind.

7a. Also, try not to pull *too* many all-nighters for this during November.  I mean, unless they start handing out free-Starbucks-for-life vouchers for completing this 50k thing, there’s no point in making yourself miserable over it 🙂

8. Have fucking fun and know that just by participating in this, you’re doing something amazing. Something most people can’t/won’t ever attempt to do. That said, you are not a “failure” if you don’t hit 50k by the end of November, and you’re not an “elitist” if you do hit 50k by the end of November. This is about consistency and commitment–nothing more, nothing less, and you should do your best to enjoy the hell out of every single word you write.

Because you’re going to want to do this all over again next year anyway 🙂

–Whitney G.

“On The Couch” With Winter Renshaw

Happy Sunday from The Indie Tea! And welcome back to On the Couch!

This is an every-Sunday segment that features an inspirational interview with a bestselling author who lets us inside her writing space,  reveals her own personal self-publishing journey, and offers her honest, heartfelt advice for authors old and new!

We hope that these interviews keep you motivated and inspired for the rest of the week, and that you take away something from each author’s words. We also hope that you enjoy learning from their experience and advice as much as we do!

Today, we’re sitting down with an author who we adore:

 

Wall Street Journal  & #1 Amazon Bestselling Author Winter Renshaw!

Welcome to ‘On the Couch,’ Winter Renshaw! We’re totally honored to have you here today to talk about your author journey. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started self publishing? 

Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I distinctly remember knowing in first grade that I wanted to be an author someday, but as I got older, I told myself that it wasn’t going to be that easy, and I decided I should pursue something more practical … which led to changing my college major four times because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Finally, I ended up just graduating with a Liberal Studies degree from Iowa State University and taking an office job at a local private college with terrible hours, a lackluster salary and mediocre benefits. I spent most of my twenties professionally miserable and unfulfilled, waiting for some flashing neon sign that would point me in the right direction.

Oddly enough, that flashing neon sign came in the form of a Reddit post I stumbled upon by pure chance one day when I was bored at work. Someone was talking about how they were making a living self-publishing books on Amazon … which I didn’t even know you could do!

Long story short, in the year that followed, I cashed out my retirement, quit my job, studied the craft of writing like CRAZY (listened to about 40 hours of RWA seminars and read 20+ craft books, took notes, studied those notes, read a gazillion indie bestsellers, networked with authors, joined online author communities, started a beta reading circle, etc.) and dedicated every spare minute of my life (while raising twin newborns and a toddler!) to learning my craft inside and out.

Almost a year to the day that I quit my day job, I published Never Kiss a Stranger. The rest is history.

 

So, since establishing yourself in this industry, what do you love the most about being an indie author?

Control! I’m a certified, grade A control freak. Also, I love the connections I’ve made and the friendships that have grown out of those. There are so many amazing, kind, talented, and wonderful people in this industry, and I’m grateful and humbled to be working alongside them.

 

And of course, on the other hand, what do you dislike most about being an indie author?

The never knowing. I’m a planner, so not knowing how a book is going to do after I’ve poured my heart and soul and time and energy into it is extremely difficult! Every month is different. Every release is different. It never gets any easier in that regard.

 

To date, which book of yours has been your biggest publishing success, and why do you think this book did so well? 

Royal for sure. It hit #1 in the entire Amazon store and #6 on the Wall Street Journal Best Sellers list in March 2016. And I only knew it had hit WSJ because I was Googling my book to see where it had been pirated and stumbled upon a Daily Mail article. I had no idea a KU book could even make a best sellers list, so like a total noob I emailed WSJ to make sure it wasn’t a misprint. I still have the email they sent back confirming it was legit! But I digress. Royal’s success was completely unexpected … for starters, the two books I published before that kind of flopped (by my standards) and I figured maybe people were “over me.” Also, Royal was missing a “Look Inside” for a solid week, which I was convinced was going to completely derail my launch. And to top it all off, my Facebook ads weren’t doing well and were crazy expensive, so I ended up shutting them all off. I’m convinced the entire release had some sort of divine intervention thing happening because it defied all logic and expectations. The only other thing I can think of was that people just really wanted to know why the hero disappeared seven years ago without a trace and then all of a sudden returned. Never underestimate a compelling hook! Plus, the second-chance trope is something I think a lot of readers can relate to. We all have a first love.

 

Did you do anything special to celebrate your accomplishment?

I treated myself to a Goyard Saint Louis bag and booked a trip to visit my best friend in Phoenix. Maybe I went out to dinner with my husband, but I can’t remember …We had 18-month-old twins and a 4-year-old at the time, so nothing too crazy!

 

Speaking of accomplishments, how do you personally define success? (Is it financial stability? Ranking? Review numbers? Fan Feedback? etc.) 

If people are still reading and buying my books, I consider myself a success. I try not to fixate too much on rank/review numbers/sales numbers, etc. because those things are beyond my control.

                                                               

As our industry continues to change, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to continue publishing?

I love to write. That’s what keeps me going. There’s nothing else I’d rather do!

 

How do you deal with all of the stress that’s related to the Indie World? (Pressure from fans, requests, etc)

Sometimes I unplug and disappear from the internet for a day or two and focus my energy on being a mom and a wife and a human with interests outside of books, but most of the time I just vent to my close author friends. It helps to talk to people who completely understand and ‘get it.’

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, can you tell us what you do to find inspiration to write again?

I don’t get writer’s block so much as I find myself lacking the motivation/discipline to write sometimes, especially when there’s a lot going on in my life. The best way I’ve found to combat that is to read a book by one of my favorite authors. It helps to get someone else’s words in my head for a change, and when I’m reading a really amazing story it reinvigorates my love of writing and I find myself wanting to get back at it ASAP.

 

What’s your writing ritual? (particular location, music that you listen to? etc?) 

I typically write between noon and 4pm on weekdays, and I prefer complete silence and fresh air, though I’ll trade those for a good, stormy afternoon any day of the week. I do most of my writing in my office, but occasionally I’ll write in bed where it’s warm and cozy or downstairs in the family room where it’s dark and quiet. Also, I make sure to block sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. using my Self-Control app or I won’t get anything done. Lastly, I do 20-25 minute sprints, and I tend to give myself outrageous word count goals (which I rarely hit, lol) to keep myself focused and on track.

 

What’s your biggest fear as an indie author?

That the bottom’s going to drop out. All it would take is Amazon making one little change and it could potentially affect hundreds/thousands of indie writing careers. And more specifically, as a KU author, my business model—for better or worse—is centered around that. Any major changes to KU could have a huge impact on my career. It’s a constant concern.

 

If you could go back to your first year as an author, what’s some advice you would you give to yourself? 

Keep your head down and write. Don’t waste time worrying about what anyone else is doing because that time is better spent working on your next book.

 

Before we get off the couch, Wait! Burning question for lots of our readers here: How do you deal with bad reviews? 

I’m probably in the minority here, but I always read them! With each book, I study the bad reviews and look for common issues/complaints, and then I know what I need to work on going forward.

 

What’s one thing (or huge dream) you hope to accomplish in your career over the next few years?

I don’t care as much about making best seller lists or getting movie deals or accolades as I care about longevity and stability. I just want to be able to do what I love for as long as humanly possible.  That’s my dream. The rest is gravy.

 

Lastly, for anyone who is currently reading this and is just starting out as an author or struggling to get to where they want to be in his/her career, what’s one piece of advice you would give to encourage them?

Just do you. No two careers will ever be exactly the same, and what works for one author might not work for another. Don’t try to be someone you’re not by aping other people’s covers/titles/blurbs/styles. Readers can pick up on in-authenticity from a mile away. If the passion and authenticity is there, your stories will be unputdownable, and no one will be able to do what you do you the way you do it. Standing out is a good thing!

 

 

 

Lightning round questions:

Favorite genre to write? Contemporary romance

Alpha Male or Beta Male? Alpha

Standalone or Series? Standalone

Tea or Coffee? Tea. Earl Grey, please!

Ebook or Paperback? eBook

All Platforms or KU? KU

Thank you so much for sitting down with us on the couch this week, Winter Renshaw! We truly enjoyed having you and we appreciate your utter honesty!  We hope to see you still writing stories when you’re old and grey ? 

If you want to check out Winter Renshaw’s awesome books or say ‘Hello’ to her on social media, be sure to check out her links below!

*Books*Facebook*

“On The Couch” With Nelle L’Amour

Happy Sunday from The Indie Tea! And welcome back to On the Couch!

This is an every-Sunday segment that features an inspirational interview with a bestselling author who lets us inside her writing space,  reveals her own personal self-publishing journey, and offers her honest, heartfelt advice for authors old and new!

We hope that these interviews keep you motivated and inspired for the rest of the week, and that you take away something from each author’s words. We also hope that you enjoy learning from their experience and advice as much as we do!

Today, we’re sitting down with an author who we adore:

 

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Nelle L’Amour!

Welcome to ‘On the Couch,’ Nelle L’Amour! We’re totally honored to have you here today to talk about your author journey. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started self publishing? 

When I wrote my first novel, DEWITCHED in 2010 (it took me six months to write and three years to edit!), I only considered traditional publishing; indie publishing at the time was new and frowned upon. After dozens and dozens of queries to agents, I finally landed one, who loved my book. She, however, turned out to be useless, and after close to two years of waiting for her to send the manuscript to New York, I told her I was self-publishing. The rest is history. My recent release, BABY DADDY, is my fifteenth self-pubbed book!

 

So, since establishing yourself in this industry, what do you love the most about being an indie author?

I love that no one tells me what to do. I decide what I want to write, how I want to write it, what I want to fix, and when I want to publish. After years in the corporate world and reporting to people, I love being my own boss and in control. I also love the community of supportive indie writers and my amazing fans.

 

And of course, on the other hand, what do you dislike most about being an indie author?

Being your own boss is a lot of work. I’ve never worked harder in my life (And I’ve had mega big jobs). Being an indie is like running your own business. Besides the writing, one must deal big time with marketing and social media to keep visible in this highly saturated and competitive marketplace. There’s a lot of strategizing as well as many financial and creative decisions to make. It’s very time- consuming and angsty. Even with an assistant, I must stay on top of things and make all the critical “executive decisions,” not knowing if they’re right or wrong.

 

To date, which book of yours has been your biggest publishing success, and why do you think this book did so well? 

My THAT MAN series has by far been my biggest success. It was one of the first romcoms; the books have fabulous, branded covers, and my hero Blake Burns is an extremely loveable, unique, and hilarious alpha bad boy. It also has a great cast of supporting characters, especially Blake’s over-sexed Grandma, who every reader adored. I fortunately got a Book Bub promotion for the first book in this series and it resulted in a gazillion sales for the other books in the series and many positive reviews.

 

Did you do anything special to celebrate your accomplishment? 

LOL! NO! I honestly wasn’t aware it was doing so well until Mark Coker, the head of Smashwords, personally congratulated me. On iBooks, THAT MAN 2 and 3 ranked higher than Gone Girl!!!

 

Speaking of accomplishments, how do you personally define success? (Is it financial stability? Ranking? Review numbers? Fan Feedback? etc.)

All of these elements count, but the one that means the most to me is my loyal fan base and many favorable reviews. I’m thrilled I write books readers love.

 

As our industry continues to change, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to continue publishing?

It’s hard. Sometimes I want to throw the towel in because it’s gotten SO hard. With the advent of KU and the glut of authors/books out there, one has to either pay to play (spend a gazillion dollars on promotion) and/or release a book every month. I can’t do either. What keeps me motivated is my readers— they eagerly await my books no matter when I release them and are very supportive. I also have a few dear writer friends who help me through the tough times of self-doubt.

 

How do you deal with all of the stress that’s related to the Indie World? (Pressure from fans, requests, etc)

I take Pure Barre –aka Pure Torture– classes and drink wine at night. I also treat myself to a massage every week. Having writer friends with whom I can vent also helps a lot.

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, can you tell us what you do to find inspiration to write again?

YES!!! Often!! It’s lasted as long as a few months. Somehow, I always finally manage a breakthrough. (Thank Goodness!) Reading often helps. What also helps is setting a minimal word count goal of 500 words. I usually can accomplish that and end up writing much more. Printing out and reading what I’ve written additionally helps me find clarity.

 

What’s your writing ritual? (particular location, music that you listen to? etc?) 

I get up at 7am…over coffee, check emails and Facebook…and then by 8am, I’m generally writing. I’ve mostly written at my dining room table, though lately I’ve been writing at a desk in a spare bedroom. LOL! I needed a change of scenery. I sadly distract myself by constantly checking emails and Facebook. I think I’ve developed some form of ADHD! I take a break three times a week and go to my Pure Barre class at 1:30pm—I love it though I call it Pure Torture. Sometimes (rarely), I play hooky on the weekends and don’t write at all. While certain songs definitely influence my story, I never listen to music while I’m writing. My fur baby Pepper is always with me. I chew a lot of Trident blue gum and drink Diet Coke while I write. I tend to peter out around 7PM, after a couple glasses of wine, though sometimes the wine helps with a late-night sex scene.

 

What’s your biggest fear as an indie author?

Never coming up with another story idea.

 

If you could go back to your first year as an author, what’s some advice you would you give to yourself? 

Learn to let go and click publish.

 

Before we get off the couch, Wait! Burning question for lots of our readers here: How do you deal with bad reviews?

Many of them make me laugh. Honestly!!! One reader once wrote: “How dare she write a sequel!” I kid you not. I don’t take things personally; if the negative review is constructive, I try to learn from it.

 

What’s one thing (or huge dream) you hope to accomplish in your career over the next few years?

Move to Paris and write at a café. Preferably, one Hemingway frequented.

 

Lastly, for anyone who is currently reading this and is just starting out as an author or struggling to get to where they want to be in his/her career, what’s one piece of advice you would give to encourage them?

Read, read, read, read the kinds of books you want to write. And then just go for it! Don’t be self-censoring. Keep writing! You can always fix things in editing. And be sure to get a good editor if you need one as well as a proofreader. Nothing irks me more, no matter how good the story, is a poorly edited book filled with continuity issues, typos, and grammatical errors.

 

Lightning round questions:

-Favorite genre to write? Alpha billionaire rom-coms (with a bit of suspense)

-Alpha Male or Beta Male? Alpha Male (with a heart and sense of humor!)

-Standalone or Series? Both. I always start off writing a standalone, but if it gets too long, I turn it into a series or duet.

-Tea or Coffee? Coffee

-Ebook or Paperback?  Reading-wise, both though lately, mostly eBook.

-All Platforms or KU? As an author, I wish I could say all platforms (wide), but KU is so much easier in every way. As a reader, I don’t care as long as the book captures my interest.

Thank you so much for sitting down with us on the couch this week, Nelle L’Amour! We truly enjoyed having you and we appreciate your utter honesty!  Make sure you invite us to visit when you fulfill your dream of moving to Paris! ? 

If you want to check out Nelle L’Amour’s awesome books or say ‘Hello’ to her on social media, be sure to check out her links below!

Website*Books*Facebook

 

The Next ‘Indie Tea Writing Retreat’

If you’re interested in attending our next retreat (it’ll be *before* 2030….MAYBE… LOL), simply sign up here and we’ll email you once we secure the official dates!
 
If you’re not the retreat type and would rather take an online class, be sure to sign up for our very first course: Self Publishing:101.  We’re really excited about it because it is super hands-on, geared specifically to romance indies, and unlike any other course available! 

Signup for information about Self-Publishing 101

Author Envy (Part III)

If you missed the first two segments about how ugly my “author envy” was at one point, and how I literally spent most of my time being jealous of any author who was doing better than me, you can access them here: (Part 1) (Part 2)

Author Envy: Part III: Handling It 
 If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “Ugh! She’s releasing again?” or “Ugh…Her books aren’t even that good, and I don’t understand why she’s so successful!” Or even, “Whyyyy is this not happening for me?” this final segment is for you. (If you’ve never experienced feeling this way toward another author, that is awesome, and you are probably a magical unicorn)I won’t tell you that your author envy will go away overnight. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you that it’ll go away completely. But what I will tell you, is that if you start following certain mantras and truly living by them, your author envy will dissolve into a fleeting feeling of jealousy. And that fleeting feeling will hit you for five seconds and go away within ten–allowing you to re-focus on what’s most important: YOUR OWN CAREER.

Nonetheless, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here are my top seven tips/semi-mantras you need to handle author envy:

1. Know that you’ll never get ahead in your career if you’re constantly looking at someone else’s.(Trust me, I’m trying to save you years of wasted time.)

If you’ve ever watched a race, ask yourself this: Have you ever seen the people at the front of the pack look over their shoulders just to see where the other runners are? Have you ever seen them look down at the other runners’ shoes and cry out, “Ugh! Those other runners are wearing Nike! Why couldn’t I get a deal with Nike? Unfair!”

Or, what about the runners near the back of the pack? Have you ever witnessed them deciding to stop because they’re not near the front? Ever see them step off the track and just watch the rest of the race from the sidelines because they’re convinced they have no chance at being a great runner if they don’t win that particular race?

NO.

NO.

And NO.

In every race I’ve ever seen, each runner is in his or her own lane. They’re all trying to reach a personal best, or using the race as a way to get better prepared for the next one.

Now, in indie-author land, we’re not running a race, but you’ll often hear the expression, “This career is a marathon, not a sprint,” and on the surface, that is very true. You’re not racing against anyone. You have your own lane, you can go at your own speed, and you can set your own personal goals. 

To reach those goals, you’ll need to keep looking straight ahead. Straight ahead at your current work-in-progress, straight ahead at your own marketing plan, and straight ahead at the things you want to achieve.

(And just so we’re clear: stalking the top 100 to see if that author you envy has made the list again is NOT looking straight ahead. It’s like a runner looking over his shoulder during a race.)

2. The energy that you’re using to envy another author’s career is the energy that you should be using for yourself. 

I don’t know about you, but when I was mired in envy, I had all this extra energy at my disposal! I was staying up late past my sleep-time and scrolling through the amazon charts, stalking other people’s Facebook pages, and using countless hours to whine to whoever would listen.

But here’s the thing: For every hour I spent talking about someone else/stalking someone else, I lost the chance to write 1000 words. For every night I spent looking at the amazon charts and wondering, “Why not me?” I lost crucial time in building my next marketing plan.

And that group of authors I was stalking? They weren’t thinking about me, were they? (Ha. Nope!) So, why was I giving my energy–especially my negative energy, to them?

It will be hard at first, but you’re going to have to mentally train yourself to accept that you are wasting your time and holding yourself back whenever you allow someone else’s career to get in the way of your own. You’re going to have to find a way to take that energy you’re giving to someone you don’t know and give it to the person who truly needs it: YOU.

3. Accept these simple facts: There will always be someone who is doing better than you, someone who is selling more books than you, and someone who seems to have more than you. And this is okay! This is actually MORE than okay, because if you really think about it, you don’t really *want* to be someone else. You just want one part of what they have–not their entire life, because you don’t know their entire life.

(Sidenote: I would love to have the same sales numbers as John Grisham, Debbie Macomber, or Karin Slaughter–authors who literally sell hundreds of thousands of copies each time they release. BUT, I’m an indie author. My books aren’t in stores, airports, or in production for film. And I’m pretty sure that the sales numbers for every book I’ve published in my entire career reflect what they sell in an off-week for one book. However, it’s pointless for me to gripe or be envious of these authors because guess what? We are sooo not in the same league! Not even close! And I’m convinced they could each write a grocery list and hit NYT, so it’s quite pointless for me to compare myself to them, don’t you think?

But wait, Whit…Those are trad-pub authors. What about the other top sellingindie authors? Vi Keeland? Penelope Ward? Lauren Blakely? Corinne Michaels? Tijan? K. Bromberg? Staci Hart? Brittainy Cherry?  Skye Warren? Aleatha Romig? (Insert super long list of bestselling Indies that could literally go on, and on and on…)

Once again, there will always be someone who is selling more and doing more. And it took me awhile to accept the answers to these next two questions, but I really hope it won’t take you as long:  What does their success have to do with you? How exactly do their careers affect you? 

Answers: (1) Their success has nothing to do with you. (2) Their careers do not affect you at all.

Your envy won’t magically transform your career into theirs overnight. Your thoughts about “Ugh…unfair!” won’t get you any closer to completing your next novel, and to be totally honest with you: If you work your ass off and focus less on them and more on you, I guarantee your career will more than likely shift toward the success you want within the next six months. And perhaps, you’ll look back and go, “Whoa… What the hell was I thinking back then?”)

Furthermore, in the same vein of “you’ll never be them,” there is no other author like you. (And there never will be.) So, whenever you hear yourself saying, “Ugh! My career is nothing like so and so’s! And I’m not having the same results as so and so!” Try to counter that with a simple, “Well duh. I’m me. I’m not supposed to be so and so.”

The stories you have to tell, the way you tell them, and the talents you have within yourself are unique to you and you alone.  Allowing yourself to be envious of someone else and what they have has absolutely nothing to do with you not being “good enough” or “never being able to have a career like so and so.” It has everything to do with your own insecurities and you not believing you’re good enough to achieve things in your own way and in your own time…

4. You need to set your own goals and dreams. Write them down. Type them up. Look at them every day. This seems so very simple, but you’d be surprised at how many authors do not do this! As a matter of fact, a huge reason why we get mired in envy from time to time is because we don’t have goals and dreams of our own. We get caught up in the hype of what’s going on around us and begin assuming that what ‘so and so’ has is what we should have.

When your goals are, “I want to make a living from my writing and build a steady career,” this should be the thing that drives how you work, how you market, and how you release. It should be the thing that you work towards, while blocking out everything else that is not going to achieve this for you. And, if these are your TRUE goals, you won’t really care about someone else hitting NYT or USA Today because you and me both know that you can make a great living (+ six figures and beyond if you want) without ever touching the Top 100 or a bestseller list. You can do it through consistent releases and hard work, but you can’t do it by chasing dreams that don’t belong to you.

Write down your dreams and goals, and promise yourself that you’ll only chase those. Promise yourself that you won’t get envious about dreams you never wanted in the first place.

5. Know that envy’s job is to drag you down and hold you back from the career you desire. (You don’t have to let it win.) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s totally okay to be “jealous” because that slight twinge + that  “Aww! I wish that was me!” are totally normal and can totally disappear after a couple seconds.

Envy though?

Not so much…

Envy is the thing that keeps us up at night, shaking our fists at the universe and whining about how unfair life is. It’s also the thing that holds us back from being as great as we can possibly be.

So, again, each time you allow yourself to slip further into envy because you know more about so-and-so’s release week than they do, you are cheating yourself. You are saying, “Yeah, Envy! I’m totally okay with you being a part of my life and keeping me away from my dreams! Who needs dreams anyway?”

6. UNPLUG. UNPLUG. UNPLUG. 

This is pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes stepping back for a week (or two…or forever) is the best thing you can possibly do to handle this thing. You don’t need to know the latest releases, the latest debut author who is achieving something awesome, or what’s happening for other people’s careers. (Remember: Those things have nothing to do with you.)

What you do need–what you will always need, is a damn good book you’ve poured your heart into and a tactful plan to release it. And then you’ll need another damn good book you’ve poured your heart into with another tactful plan to release it. Then rinse, wash, repeat until you get exactly to where you want to be.

(Sidenote: I remember this one time I was supposed to be pulling an all-nighter, and I couldn’t focus to save my life. I needed to finish the last three chapters of my book, but I had yet to even write the first one because I’d seen the cover reveal for another author’s novel. Then I saw some other author’s book in the top 100 and I was like “wtf?” And before I knew it, I was four hours into my all-nighter and all I’d done was scroll through Facebook!

By the fifth hour of scrolling, I called Nicole London (in sad, pathetic tears)  to say, “OMG! I can’t focus! All these other authors are just doing stuff and it’s preventing me from getting my own work done! I don’t think I can do this!” I expected insta-sympathy, but she didn’t say anything in response. Instead, she hung up in my face and sent me a text message that I still have locked in my phone, a text I hope she won’t mind me sharing here:

Why do you always act as if these “distractions” come out of nowhere, Whitney?! YOU are the one who goes looking for them! YOU are the one who KNOWS you have work to do, but you’d rather focus on bullshit that won’t help you get it done?! It is MIND-BOGGLING to me that you’d rather spend your  precious time watching other authors instead of working on your own books! We have nothing to talk about until you finish those chapters. Turn off your damn internet and get to work.

Sometimes the top solution to handling author envy is really all in those last nine words: Turn off your damn internet and get to work. 

7. Tap into “Beast mode” 

Have you ever been so focused on something–a final exam, wedding planning, a super important project, that all other bullshit ceases to exist until you get that thing done? Yeah…me too. 

That’s what we call “beast mode” and that means that you don’t have time to be envious of anyone else because you’re totally tuned in to what you’re doing. If you’re looking at the bestseller charts, it’s not because you’re envious, it’s because you’re studying. If you happen to see an author you once envied doing well, you’re happy for them because you know they deserve it, and you’ve also learned some of their marketing techniques that you’re going to use for yourself. If you’re up late, you’re up late with a purpose and you have finally realized Whitney G’s top indie-author mantra:

“I’m too focused on my own career to look at someone else’s”

(Or, in plain, non-bullshit terms: I don’t give a fuck about what any other author is doing 
#igotmyowncareer

(This doesn’t mean that I’m closed-off, or that I don’t get genuinely happy when I see others succeed, because OMG I do! I cant tell you how many times I’ve gushed about certain authors to Nicole and said, “OMG I’m so happy for her! She got a Bookbub! She made the list for the first time! She made the list for the twentieth time! Ahhh!!! OMG she hit number 1! EFF YEAH!!”  What my mantra means is that I no longer waste my time worrying or getting envious about things I can’t control.)

The thing I can control, though? My own career. Period. 

And the thing you can control? Your own career. Period.

****

I hope these seven tips help someone out there better handle author envy. (Well, maybe not the magical unicorn-person who has never been jealous. #luckyyou LOL ) And like I said at the start of this, author envy is something that has to be worked on for a long time before you truly break free and realize what’s truly important.

If these tips aren’t enough, remember the previous steps you learned in part 1 of this segment. And if those aren’t enough…Just email me back and let me know. I will happily fly to wherever you are and bring my favorite boxing gloves to help you handle this manually.

 

Refresher: Handling Author Envy Tips from Part 1

1. 1. Know that it’s okay to be jealous. We’re all human here. 🙂 But also know that in order to handle it, you’re going to have to do the second thing on this list ASAP.2. Admit it. Just admit it.  Say it out loud to yourself even, “I am jealous of [Insert Author name]” (Hell, you can even list *all* the authors you’re jealous of if you’d like. I believe my 2013 jealous list was at about twenty eight authors, so that’s totally okay since we’re being honest here. )

3. After you admit it, instead of letting this grow any bigger and become any uglier, determine WHY you’re jealous. No really. Why are you jealous of this particular author? (or authors) Hey, I’ll go first: I’m jealous of [This Author] because her releases always seem to happen so flawlessly and mine lately have been utter messes.

3a. Next, ask is it possible that you’re jealous because deep down, you secretly admire something about their career?  (My Answer: NOPE! NOT AT ALL! Nothing to admire!  <–Oh, wait. Sorry. That’s the ‘Old Whitney G’ talking 🙂 )
Real Answer: Yes, I wish I could have my stuff together in advance and actually look like I give a damn about my releases sometimes. That would be quite nice…

4. Think about how many minutes (or hours) you’ve spent over the past few weeks thinking about this author (or authors). Think hard about how many times you’ve ventured to her Amazon page to “check out the sales rank,” Facebook page “just to see what she’s up to,” her Instagram “just to see what’s going on in her life,” etc. Add all those minutes up and for the next week, you need to work on cutting them in half. 

This will be SUPER hard at first, as true change won’t happen overnight and relapse is a part of recovery, but you have to give this your all.

Every time you feel tempted to go look at some other author’s sales rank, Facebook Page, or anything else that is 100% irrelevant to you, make yourself do something else. In some cases, you may want to try the “bare minimum word challenge.”

What’s the bare minimum word challenge? I’m so glad you asked!

Challenge explained;  What’s the highest amount of words you can write without breaking a sweat? That amount that you can easily achieve in half an hour (or an hour) for your work in progress? That’s your bare minimum. 

For me, this number is 500. So, anytime I find myself on the verge of looking at the stuff that belongs to an author I’m jealous of?  I open up a word document instead and make myself write 500 words. And anytime I cave into the temptation and look anyway because “I just have to knowww!”? I do the same thing.

Every. Single. Time.

Over time, You’ll be surprised how you don’t even want to look at someone else’s stuff because these bare minimums will quickly have you reaching your effin maximum. (That, and your book will be closer to completion, which is far more exciting and rewarding than ‘author envy’ anyway.)

Your tool doesn’t have to be words, though. It just needs to be something that diverts your attention back to yourself. Perhaps you’ll write a blog post on your author website, or perhaps you’ll make yourself sit through that free FB Ad training course you signed up for months ago. Perhaps you’ll make yourself find and read about new marketing techniques. Doesn’t matter. Just take the attention you’re willing to give to this other author, and give it to yourself.

5. Start to slowly separate your ‘real self’ from your ‘author self’ and establish boundaries because OMG…YOU CANNOT BE ALL ABOUT BOOKS AND THE INDIE WORLD ALL THE TIME!

Yes, this is your passion, your dream (job), your “thing,” but this can’t be ALL you do and think about all day. You need something non-book related to do every day. (No, reading doesn’t count.)

Not having anything to do outside of “book world” day in and day out is one of the main reasons why author envy gets out of control most of the time. Even if you do something as simple as taking a short walk for half an hour, stopping by a coffee shop to “people watch,” or even taking up something you’re 100% terrible at doing (For me, this is cooking. OMG I suck at it, but goddamn it if this doesn’t take me away from the book world and help me zone out 🙂 ), realizing that there’s a WHOLE WORLD OUTSIDE OF INDIE-LAND is a crucial part on the road to handling author envy. 

Don’t let envy keep you from the career of your dreams,
–Whitney G. 

Covers and Cappuccinos

Covers and Cappuccinos:
The ‘Beautiful Failure was kind of a “beautiful failure” in real-life’ Edition 

In one of the very first segments of “Covers & Cappuccinos” we discussed the importance of making sure your cover stands out amongst the millions of books that are published in the kindle store. We also discussed how it is imperative to make sure that your book looks great as a thumbnail, and that sometimes you’ll have to change your covers again and again (and AGAIN) until you get it right.

So, today we’re going to dive into an example of the “again and again and AGAIN” philosophy via a book I wrote under a pen-name:

Beautiful Failure by Mariah Cole. 

                                   

The above image is the very first cover that was published for this book. There was a cover reveal + prologue reveal for it and the book was LIVE for weeks with this cover.

I actually designed this cover myself in Picmonkey and I honestly thought it was AMAZING! I mean, what better way to showcase  the feel of a “different type of New Adult story” than with a girl in stilettos crouching in a dirty corner?

Well, the sales numbers confirmed that this was not a good idea. Not only that, but this image looked quite blurry on amazon as a thumbnail and it turned away potential readers who were “somewhat” interested in the blurb.

So, I changed it again!

And, I used GIMP this time when designing it myself!

Since this story revolves around a heroine that is a bit different from other New Adult heroines, I thought it was necessary to make the cover darker with a hot pink element and to actually incorporate a tagline that made her stand apart: No running. No crying. No tears. 

Now, believe it or not, within three days of this particular cover change, sales actually did “pick up,” but only for a day or so. The pickup to 15 sales a day was likely the result of another blitz I’d paid for. Also, in total fairness, a big blog picked this book up and reviewed it with *this* cover, resulting in 109 sales in a single day. I thought, “OMG! This is my moment! This cover change was 100% right!”

Except the sales fell off once again.

So…I decided to change the cover AGAIN, but this time with professional help. Now, I was still too cheap to invest in one of those cover designers who charged $100+ for a cover. (“That’s wayyy too much for a professional cover! And I’m broke + this book is already live! EFF. THAT.”)

So, I found someone who charged like $60 (A steal!) and showed him a bunch of New Adult covers that had done well in the past. I also found a stock image I wanted to use and asked him to kind of emulate the tone and feel of those.

WA LAAAA!!!

I requested a few more changes to this cover, but the designer didn’t know how to do some of the things I requested. He was honest and said he just did minimal work on covers, not extreme work, BUT he recommended other designers to me. (Other designers that cost wayyyy more than he did, so I left this cover alone…)

The sales for this book upon this cover change experienced a slight bump + Hey! A reviewer even pointed out that it was the covers that had previously turned her off:

YET…

This book still didn’t sell consistently and I couldn’t figure it out! I mean, the reviews were GREAT! The feedback on the snippets I posted were AWESOME! And people were emailing me about how excited they were for book 2!

Fast forward to “Whitney G.”‘s career taking off due to Reasonable Doubt, and I’d found a new designer I’d taken an expensive chance on. (For RD, that chance was beyond 100% worth it.)

So, while that book was taking off, I asked her to take a look at Beautiful Failure. I pulled some of the readers favorite scenes from the story and decided that I could incorporate ravens, bokehs, and dots for the OMG-AGAIN version of this cover.

At the time, I was like OMGGG this is so pretty!! And the readers who loved the book, loved it, too. It had a pretty font, had “ravens” in between that pretty font, and actually featured a girl who looked like the “my life is a hot ass mess” heroine.

Upon the re-cover reveal (which was months after the book’s initial release), this book sold about 20 copies on that day so I thought to myself: WHOA…Total right decision here.

Except…

Over time, and as “Whitney G.” released more covers, I realized there was a HUGE problem with this cover when it comes to marketing to the romance reader:

It kinda gives off a paranormal vibe!

The background behind her could easily be placed on any vampire book and fit right in. The “birds” are significant to the story, but to anyone who has a first glance at this, I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought this was a shifter-type romance. (Or, even a dark fairy-tale/shifter romance)

So…I thought on this long and hard.

I knew that simply adding “Whitney G.” to this cover wouldn’t necessarily change things because the cover elements would still be the same…

So, I took a look at all my covers to get a sense of my current brand. (Remember our series on “Branding with Author Corinne Michaels”?)

I realized that the cover itself was actually a “good cover,” it just needed to be lightened, and it needed to have colors and contrasts that *appealed* to a romance reader. Because, different type of New Adult story or not, this is still a romance book. 

I went back to my designer with a series of Young Adult books that each had color schemes that I thought would work better and she came back with multiple mockups, but we both agreed that there was one that stood out amongst the rest:

This cover works for a variety of reasons, but the main ones that stick out are: 1) Shows up very well and catches the readers’ attention as a thumbnail 2) Conveys a color scheme/tone that appeals to a romance reader 3) Although there is no “OMG YES! This is a romance book!” image on this, it has a “young adult”/”new adult” feel to it and I’m more than okay with that since this book is more of an NA story. 4) Most importantly, it fits right in with my current cover branding + other covers I’m rebranding.

(Note: I’m re-launching this book under my name later this year since I’ve rewritten/revamped it, and I’ll be sure to update you with how that goes via “How To Relaunch An Old Series.” And if this cover doesn’t work upon re-release? I’ll change it again 🙂 )

Overall Lesson (as always): Change your cover(s) until you get it right, and never get attached to anything. If you’re a prolific author and you publish multiple books a year, make sure you analyze your backlist every 4-5 months to make sure everything is “Un-walk-away-able” from. If you’re an author who publishes one to two books a year, make sure you analyze your backlist once a year to make sure your previous books are enticing enough for readers before publishing your next one.

“On The Couch” With Adriana Locke

Happy Sunday from The Indie Tea! And welcome back to On the Couch!

This is an every-Sunday segment that features an inspirational interview with a bestselling author who lets us inside her writing space,  reveals her own personal self-publishing journey, and offers her honest, heartfelt advice for authors old and new!

We hope that these interviews keep you motivated and inspired for the rest of the week, and that you take away something from each author’s words. We also hope that you enjoy learning from their experience and advice as much as we do!

Today, we’re sitting down with an author who inspires us to be great:

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Adriana Locke!

Welcome to ‘On the Couch,’ Adriana Locke! We’re totally honored to have you here today to talk about your author journey. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started self publishing? 

It was a cold and snowy February night. No, really. It was. I was flipping through my Kindle, lamenting I had “nothing to read” despite a couple of thousand e-books that I’d downloaded over the years. My husband looked over the top of his paperback and said, “then write something”. So, I did.

I wrote The Exception for fun, something I figured I’d put away in a couple of days. I looked up a few months later and, lo and behold, I had a novel on my hands. I’ve never looked back. That was almost three years, eight novels, and two novellas ago.

 

So, since establishing yourself in this industry, what do you love the most about being an indie author?

The best part about being an indie author is controlling my destiny (to some degree). I love waking up, making my coffee, heading into my office and choosing what story I want to write. There’s something very liberating about that.

 

And of course, on the other hand, what do you dislike most about being an indie author?

The non-author parts. No one explained to me before I published, and I was too dense to realize, all the other things required. I spend more time doing non-writing things than I do actually writing and that’s kind of a suck. I just remind myself I could be doing all those things … for someone else. It’s all about perspective!

 
To date, which book of yours has been your biggest publishing success, and why do you think this book did so well? 

This is difficult to answer. Sacrifice hit the USA Today list, so I suppose that could be considered my biggest success on some level. (I went into Kindle Unlimited shortly after, so none of my other titles, besides my very first two novels, have been eligible.) On the other hand, Wherever It Leads is my biggest financial success. What made each of them do well? With Sacrifice, I think the storyline is fairly unique and readers really grabbed on to the blue-collar, second chance romance feel of the storyline. For Wherever It Leads, I believe it was the right story at the right time (and the cover).

Still, when I think about it, my biggest success might be my worst release: The Perception. It was the second book I published, on the heels of my debut that did better than I ever expected. I was really in the throes of paralysis by analysis. I was so in my head that I almost didn’t publish it. It was a dark time for me. But I did it and even after it didn’t do nearly as well as The Exception, I kept going. I’m quite proud of that.

 

Did you do anything special to celebrate your accomplishment?

When Sacrifice hit the USA Today, my children and I had a dance party in my office. They had no idea what we were celebrating, but they knew their mama was pretty happy. 🙂

 

Speaking of accomplishments, how do you personally define success? (Is it financial stability? Ranking? Review numbers? Fan Feedback? etc.)

To be honest, I feel success when I’m happy. That’s the truth. Yes, being financially stable, seeing a book rank well, seeing readers love my books—those things make me feel terrific and validate my work in a way. But those things can be taken away from me and I’m always left, even in the middle of a great launch, feeling a little shaky. The moments I feel truly accomplished come after a day of writing. My kids walk in the door from school and I get up, make them a snack, listen to their happy stories from the day, and start fixing dinner with my husband. Being content, feeling balanced, makes me feel like a success.

 

As our industry continues to change, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to continue publishing?

Prepare and stare. That’s my motto. I read the articles about what’s happening around me and pay attention to my own sales and trends and reader quirks. Then I go to work. Tuning everything else out is hard and some days I suck at it. I just try to remind myself to control what I can. Prepare for opportunities so when they arrive, I can greet them.

 

 

How do you deal with all of the stress that’s related to the Indie World? (Pressure from fans, requests, etc)

Vodka. Just kidding. (Kind of.) Again, it all goes back to controlling what I can. I’ve learned in life I cannot control anyone else or how they feel. There’s so much more to play in people’s actions than I will ever understand. What I can control is my reaction. I try to put my energy there. Of course, there are days I’m freaking out about things and have to stop and look at my kids and husband. As long as they are happy and healthy, book stuff will work itself out. (That’s what I tell myself, anyway.)

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, can you tell us what you do to find inspiration to write again?

Of course. Who doesn’t? The best course of action for me in those situations is sunshine. I’m such a tomboy and outdoors girl. A walk at the park or playing in the garden always helps lift the cloud. Those things are also make me feel “flow”, that feeling where you become so absorbed that you don’t think of anything else. Sometimes my mind just needs a break. Once I get back to my office, it’s usually a little better.

 

What’s your writing ritual? (particular location, music that you listen to? etc?)

I get up, make coffee, work on non-writing things for an hour or so. I usually listen to my playlist for whatever I’m working on while I do paperwork or whatever it is. Then I turn the music off and get to work.

 

What’s your biggest fear as an indie author?

Being unable to maintain. This is a career for me, a marathon and not a sprint. It terrifies me to think I won’t be able to keep up over the course of time. (Excuse me while I go pour a drink now.)

 

If you could go back to your first year as an author, what’s some advice you would you give to yourself? 

Should we bullet-point this? LOL I think I can sum it up in two things:

  1. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, you did okay.
  2. Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.

 

Before we get off the couch, Wait! Burning question for lots of our readers here: How do you deal with bad reviews?

I read every review. Every single one. Sometimes they require tissues, but—hey! At least they read it right? I had an author tell me when I first started that she didn’t read any review higher than a two star. I thought she was insane. She explained that she would take the mean ones and just toss them to the side. But the ones that actually ripped her apart—she would try to learn something from them. It was the only way to make lemonade out of lemons. It’s kind of smart, actually. I don’t always garner any insight from some reviews (you’ve been to Goodreads, right?). But I have learned a few things from not-so-great reviews and take it into consideration as I write.
 

 

What’s one thing (or huge dream) you hope to accomplish in your career over the next few years?

My dream is just to continue to enjoy this process and make it profitable. Yes, I’d love to hit the [NYT], but that’s unlikely considering I’m in Kindle Unlimited. I’d love to go to Europe for a book signing, but with four little boys, that’s also iffy. Waking up inspired to write and going to bed with a smile—I’ll take that all day, every day.

 

 

Lastly, for anyone who is currently reading this and is just starting out as an author or struggling to get to where they want to be in his/her career, what’s one piece of advice you would give to encourage them?

Passion is more important than statistics. If you just look at sales numbers and market trends and projections, you’re going to stay in the box. Stop obsessing over those things and find the reason you started this journey in the process. Take a few days and just REMEMBER. Toss that feeling, that niggle in your stomach that makes you want to leap out of the chair and get your fingers moving, and go. Do. Write. With passion, you can make magic. With numbers, you can build walls.

 

Lightning round questions:

Favorite genre to write? Contemporary romance

Alpha Male or Beta Male? I love a strong, mischievous, cocky alpha. Add a killer smirk and I’m toast.

Standalone or Series? Standalone

Tea or Coffee? Coffee

Ebook or Paperback? Paperback

All Platforms or KU? KU

Thank you so much for sitting down with us on the couch this week, Adriana Locke! We truly enjoyed having you and we appreciate your utter honesty! (Plus you’re totally inspiring and you have to know that 🙂 )  We hope to see you at an author signing in Europe one day, and we hope to be as brave as you one day and read all of our reviews ! ? 

If you want to check out Adriana Locke’s awesome books or say ‘Hello’ to her on social media, be sure to check out her links below!

Website*Books*Facebook

 

 

 

“On The Couch” With Penny Reid

Happy Sunday from The Indie Tea! And welcome back to On the Couch!

This is an every-Sunday segment that features an inspirational interview with a bestselling author who lets us inside her writing space,  reveals her own personal self-publishing journey, and offers her honest, heartfelt advice for authors old and new!

We hope that these interviews keep you motivated and inspired for the rest of the week, and that you take away something from each author’s words. We also hope that you enjoy learning from their experience and advice as much as we do!

Today, we’re sitting down with an author we’ve always adored :

 

 USA Today Bestselling Author Penny Reid!

Welcome to ‘On the Couch,’ Penny Reid! We’re totally honored to have you here today to talk about your author journey. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started self publishing? 

A friend of mine was lamenting that she had difficulty connecting with the characters in romance novels. So I bet her I could write a romance novel with a heroine she could relate to (who was brilliant like the faculty members we worked with, but also oblivious… like the faculty members we worked with). She agreed to take me out to dinner if I succeeded.

She loved the book. I won the bet. She took me out to dinner. I had the steak AND the lobster.

 

So, since establishing yourself in this industry, what do you love the most about being an indie author?

I love that I have complete creative control, that I get to build my own team of professionals (editors, publicists, assistants, etc.), and that all my successes and failures belong to me. I also love my co-workers (authors and bloggers). It is extremely rare to be in an industry comprised mostly of women; working alongside these pioneers and business women has been enormously inspiring. Society would tell you that women enjoy tearing each other down, but that is not the case (in my experience) in this industry.

 

And of course, on the other hand, what do you dislike most about being an indie author?

I only have access to my data and therefore only know what has worked/hasn’t worked for my books. If I were with a big publisher, they’d be able to leverage their successes with other authors/books to improve the reach for my books (or, one would hope).

 

To date, which book of yours has been your biggest publishing success, and why do you think this book did so well? 

The third book in my Winston Brothers series (‘Beard Science’). I believe this book did well because I’d built the anticipation for the main character / hero (Cletus) in the first two books of the series. By the time Cletus’s book came around, people were looking forward to his story.

 

Did you do anything special to celebrate your accomplishment?

No… I don’t usually do that (celebrate “accomplishments”). I suppose I suffer from imposter syndrome to an extent, where “celebrating a success” feels wrong/tacky because I’m not so sure it’s deserved.

 

Speaking of accomplishments, how do you personally define success? (Is it financial stability? Ranking? Review numbers? Fan Feedback? etc.)

Financial stability – 50%

Writing stories I’m proud of – 50%

Pragmatically, I wouldn’t consider myself successful if I couldn’t make a living being a writer; but I wouldn’t *feel* successful if I wrote books I wasn’t proud of.

 

As our industry continues to change, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to continue publishing?

I love writing. I love telling stories. I love thinking through complex problems and philosophical questions via my characters. And therefore, I haven’t required any additional motivation to write (as of yet).

I believe writing what you love is motivation enough. If you don’t love what you’re writing, then no amount of motivation (money, accolades, etc.) will make the process easier.

 

How do you deal with all of the stress that’s related to the Indie World? (Pressure from fans, requests, etc)

I used to work in an extremely high-stress job/environment. I was the Chief Operations Officer for the #1 funded research institute in the world, with 140 direct reports and over 1000 clinical centers. Relative to my previous work experience, I do not find the Indie World at all stressful.

That said, here is a quote that has always helped me deal with times of extreme stress, “When work feels overwhelming, just remember: we’re all going to die.”

So, basically, put your anxieties into perspective. Are you going to die? No? Is someone you love going to die? No? Then relax and do your best.

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, can you tell us what you do to find inspiration to write again? 

Yes… and no. I would call it “inability to hear my characters.” Sometimes my characters stop speaking to me and I have to coax them out again. Sometimes I’ll research something that the character has a particular interest in, or I might try writing a scene later in the book (one that I’ve been looking forward to writing).

Also, this might be terrible, but usually it helps to get drunk and then try to write/talk to my characters. For whatever reason, my characters are louder/more willing to speak to me when I’m intoxicated.

For the record, I’m not encouraging anyone to get drunk. I’m just telling you—honestly—what has worked for me.

 

What’s your writing ritual? (particular location, music that you listen to? etc?) 

I make a playlist on Spotify as I plot the book (1st step). Once I have a rough outline, I’ll write the first chapter. As soon as that’s finished, I give myself permission to write one or two scenes I’m really looking forward to writing (based on the plot). Then I go back and write chapters 2-10. Once I make it to chapter 10, I’m allowed to write which ever scene I want until the book is finished.

I typically write in my office (loft at the top of my house) and write best in the middle of the night.

 

What’s your biggest fear as an indie author?

My biggest fear (related to being an indie author) is that everyone is going to realize I’m a terrible writer and stop buying my books. But then I remind myself that if this happens, I won’t die. I’ll just keep writing for myself (like I did before), do something else to make a living like go back to working in biomedical research, and everything will be fine.

 

If you could go back to your first year as an author, what’s some advice you would you give to yourself?

Don’t download Windows 10. And backup your files in 3 independent locations every day.

 

Before we get off the couch, wait! Burning question for lots of our readers here: How do you deal with bad reviews?

I used to read bad reviews (in fact, I used to read *all* reviews). I thought I could learn something from these reviews that would help me improve as an author. I used to try to extract the nuggets of helpful feedback and apply them to my next book. Over time this practice became very time consuming and frustrating, because the reviews were often based on opaque feelings rather than facts.

I stopped reading all reviews lower than 5 stars last October (when my book, ‘Beard Science’ was released) because I realized (I had an “AH-HA!” moment) that reviews are for readers, not for authors. Very, very rarely does a “bad” review provide critical feedback that is useable to an author. Reader reviews are not literary critiques, and that’s perfectly fine. They’re not supposed to be.

 

What’s one thing (or huge dream) you hope to accomplish in your career over the next few years?

I’d like to be around, still selling a similar amount of books, 5 years from now. And 10 years from now. And 15 years from now. I guess my benchmark (big dream) is to build a career where my books are relevant to people over a prolonged period of time.

 

Lastly, for anyone who is currently reading this and is just starting out as an author or struggling to get to where they want to be in his/her career, what’s one piece of advice you would give to encourage them?

Draft a marketing plan and stick to it, adjusting/updating as needed. If you don’t have a marketing plan, then you have no business being an independent author.

 

Lightning round questions:

Favorite genre to write? Romantic Comedy

Alpha Male or Beta Male? Omega Male: unable to categorize / label as one or the other.

Standalone or Series? A series of standalones, I like the world-building of a series but the ability to pick up a book anywhere within a series.

Tea or Coffee? Both

Ebook or Paperback? Ebook

All Platforms or KU? A mix of both. KU is a tool (like Bookbub). You wouldn’t discount all your books at the same time, would you? But you shouldn’t ignore it either.

Thank you so much for sitting down with us on the couch this week, Penny Reid! We truly enjoyed having you and we appreciate your utter honesty! We might just have to try your suggestion for getting our characters to speak “louder” to us and we have no doubt that you’ll achieve your dream of longevity! ? 

If you want to check out Penny Reid’s awesome books or say ‘Hello’ to her on social media, be sure to check out her links below!

Website*Books*Facebook

PS–Be sure you’re on our every-Monday mailing list for even more inspiration in the morning!

“Afternoon Tea” With Unforeseen Editing

Happy Thursday from The Indie Tea and welcome to Afternoon Tea! 

This is a special segment that features an informational interview with some of the romance industry’s best service providers! What do we mean by “best”? We mean highly recommended + the most awesome editors, formatters, and cover designers!

Today, we’re sitting down with Unforeseen Editing, a super talented editor who has worked with some of indie-land’s top authors! We’re excited to get her insight on why indie authors need editors and how she makes sure that each book she reads receives her full and undivided attention.

 

Welcome to Afternoon Tea, Unforeseen Editing!

Let’s start our brunch off with some basics and then we’ll get a tad bit more personal. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started editing?

I love all things creative—books, music, art. Since I was a kid, I was the girl who would sneak a flashlight into bed and hide under the covers to read way past her bedtime, so I’ve always been an avid reader. When in college, I took that passion and majored in English with a concentration in secondary education. I taught English classes (grammar and literature) for about five years before earning my master’s degree. From there, it was kismet when I found my way into a publishing company, and I was able to combine my love for words with my dedication to helping others. I’m always learning, always growing.

 

How long have you been an editor?

I found my niche at a large publishing company in 2007, so I’ve been serving authors for ten years. For six of those years, I worked as a Senior Production Editor by day and freelance editor by night. I started Unforeseen Editing in 2012, and six months after its inception, I took a leap of faith and left the publishing job that I absolutely loved to pursue my business full-time. I am extremely proud to say that I have been a part of the indie community for five years, and my business is still going strong. Besides social media, I do little marketing to promote myself, so the majority of my business is based on loyal clients and their referrals.

 

Can you tell us what a typical day at Unforeseen Editing is like? 

Unforeseen Editing’s awesome office space

Most days, after my workout and getting ready for the day, I start with administrative tasks—like answering emails, sending out invoices, posting on social media, and so on—and then I tackle the book scheduled on my calendar for that day. In the afternoon, I pick up my daughter from school, check her homework, and then spend some quality time with her. Afterward, I’ll squeeze some work time in before our family dinner and bedtime routine. And then I continue to work through the evening. I’m a night owl, so I’m often up until the wee hours of the morning.

 

On any given week, how many books do you edit? And how do you stay organized to make sure each author’s work is given your best attention?

It depends on the week. Each book is unique, so the editing level will vary, and some books might need more of my attention and time than others. Besides editing and proofreading, I also provide formatting, synopsis writing, and project management services, so my daily tasks change throughout the week.

I live and die by my calendar (iCal) where I note the turnover date and due date for each book. I also use various apps to help me stay on track, like Tyme (tracks time by project) and Freedom (blocks access to social media during specified times of the day). Of course, I use The Chicago Manual of Style and The Merriam-Webster Dictionary for references, which are standards in the publishing industry.

 

Why do you think it’s important for an Indie Author to have an editor? 

So, you’ve poured your soul into creating a story to share with the world. Before sharing, you must have another set of eyes (more than one is recommended) to review your work. If you’ve found a professional editor—someone who has been trained or taken classes in editing—then you can rely on your editor to help you with grammar, content, story flow, consistency, character development, and so on. Poorly edited books often get negative reviews because readers expect that you’ve published your best work, and it certainly makes for a bad experience if readers have to decipher your meaning or are distracted by incorrect grammar.

 

What’s the most common error you see in books? 

You know I can’t choose just one. Of course, there’s grammar, like spelling and punctuation. Homonyms. Repetition. Dialogue tags. Showing, not telling. Story flow. Consistency in details. I could go on and on. But that’s why you hire an editor (and, hopefully, a proofreader, too), right? To catch and fix those errors, to polish your words, to help you see the unforeseen. 😉

When I return an edited manuscript, I always send authors a list of notes and general concerns, so they get an overview of things before reviewing edits, and then they can keep those tips in mind for the next book they write.

 

As an editor, are you able to read books for fun without noticing the errors, or is that something that you can’t help but do?

Just like authors can’t help but write, I can’t help but edit. It’s really hard for me to turn off the editor part of my brain. Even as people talk to me, I find myself imagining the text in my mind and editing the words and punctuation, as if they were on paper. So, when I read for fun, I’m editing simultaneously. It’s not a burden though; it just keeps my editor brain sharp.

 

Do you have any basic tips for newbie authors who are looking to improve their writing? 

Read, write, revise. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The more you do, the better you’ll be. Always learn; always grow. Don’t write for money or recognition. Write because you have a story you must tell. Then, when you have that story and you want to share it with the world, plan, plan, plan. Find a team you can trust—other authors, beta readers, a PR firm, cover designer, editor, proofreader, and formatter.

 

Have you ever had a book where you were enjoying the story so much that you forgot you were supposed to be editing? 🙂

Always. I value every book I work on, and I always find at least a few lines from each book that blow my mind. With only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, it is truly amazing how authors are able to string those letters into words, those words into sentences, and those sentences into paragraphs in order to create stories born from their imaginations. Like I said previously, my editor brain is always on, so I’m able to enjoy and appreciate each story while applying my editing skills.

 

Do you have a dream author that you’d love to work with? 

I am blessed to say that I’ve had the pleasure of working with many authors whom I followed and adored before they contacted me. And, believe me, when it happens, I fangirl hard over them, including a shimmy dance with the accompanying girlie squeal.

From indie authors I’d read before starting Unforeseen Editing in 2012, I would love to one day work with (in alphabetical order) Rebecca Donovan, Tracey Garvis Graves, Katja Millay, CJ Roberts, S.C. Stephens, Tammara Webber, Nicole Williams, and more. Some other dream authors would include Tiffanie DeBartolo, John Green, Karen Marie Moning, J.R. Ward, and more.

These lists are never-ending, as there are so many talented authors creating new stories every day.

 

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve edited thus far? 

This would be like choosing a favorite child; it’s just not possible. I have so many loyal clients, and I’ve loved each and every one of their books.

I’d highly recommend any books from the following brief list of editing/formatting clients (in alphabetical order): E.M. Abel, J.L. Berg, Kate Chastain, Jeannine Colette, Jillian Dodd, BB Easton, Renee Ericson, Tarryn Fisher, Staci Hart, S.T. Heller, Colleen Hoover, Kelli Jean, R.L. Kenderson, K.A. Linde, Erin Lockwood, Michelle Lynn, Marni Mann, Jennifer Michael, Ella Miles, Laurel Ostiguy, Jessica Park, J.M. Paul, Natasha Preston, Alicia Rae, Gia Riley, K.A. Robinson, Yessi Smith, K. Street, Samantha Towle, Michelle Valentine, Sedona Venez, and Ellie Wade.

Again, I could go on and on, and my fave lists are always growing.

 

If someone is interested in your services, what’s the best way for her (or him 🙂 ) to contact you? 

Please visit my website at www.unforeseenediting.com for more information on my services, rates, clients, and testimonials. If you have questions or want to schedule services, you can complete the Contact Me form or email jovana@unforeseenediting.com. Remember to book early!

 

Lightning Round!

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning; tea when I’m feeling British. 😉

Novel or novella?

A well-crafted story is a well-crafted story, no matter the length.

Paperback or ebook?

I appreciate the convenience of e-books; however, I’ll always be the girl who loves the physical feel of a print book and who has every bookshelf in the house filled with her favorite paperbacks.

Stand-alone or series?

I love it all—stand-alone or series, happily ever after or cliff-hanger, any genre, male or female author. If it’s a good story, gimme, gimme, gimme.

Thank you so much for joining us for afternoon tea, Unforeseen Editing! We hope to see you again soon! ?

If you’re in need of an editor or if you want to inquire about editing by Unforeseen Editing’s services, you can check out her contact information below!

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PS–Be sure you’re on our every-Monday mailing list for inspiration and motivation  on Mondays!

On The Couch With Leylah Attar

Happy Sunday from The Indie Tea! And welcome back to On the Couch!

This is an every-Sunday segment that features an inspirational interview with a bestselling author who lets us inside her writing space,  reveals her own personal self-publishing journey, and offers her honest, heartfelt advice for authors old and new!

We hope that these interviews keep you motivated and inspired for the rest of the week, and that you take away something from each author’s words. We also hope that you enjoy learning from their experience and advice as much as we do!

Today, we’re sitting down with an incredible author we both admire:

 

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Leylah Attar!

 

Welcome to ‘On the Couch,’ Leylah Attar! We’re totally honored to have you here today to talk about your author journey. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started self publishing? 

I collected a whopping seventy-three rejections for my debut novel, 53 Letters For My Lover, before deciding to call it a day. I figured it was time to read the writing on the wall and focus on my day job. Self-publishing was my son’s idea. He reminded me that no-one had read the book, just the query letters that I’d sent out. Maybe I sucked at those. Maybe the book sucked too, but I’d never know unless I put it out there. So that’s what I did. I took a deep breath and hit ‘publish’.

 

So, since establishing yourself in this industry, what do you love the most about being an indie author?

I love the freedom that goes with it. Setting my own deadlines, experimenting with stories that don’t necessarily ‘fit’ into any one genre, covers, pricing, release dates. You get to make all the decisions.

 

And of course, on the other hand, what do you dislike most about being an indie author?

That you get to make all the decisions…ha! You’re basically doing it all, and you don’t have the insight, knowledge or backing of the industry giants.

 

To date, which book of yours has been your biggest publishing success, and why do you think this book did so well?

The Paper Swan, a dark-ish romantic suspense novel, has been my biggest publishing success to date. If I knew why, I’d bottle it up and sprinkle it on everyone. “You get a bestseller. You get a bestseller. Everyone gets a bestseller!” I mean, who doesn’t want to play Oprah?! Jokes aside, I couldn’t have done it without the incredible bloggers and readers who loved it enough to blare and share. It was entirely word of mouth that got the book out there.

 

Did you do anything special to celebrate your accomplishment?

Absolutely! I had a major panic attack…lol! I was so used to replying to each email, each comment or message on social media, that not being able to get to everyone and everything was completely overwhelming, but in the best way possible.

 

Speaking of accomplishments, how do you personally define success? (Is it financial stability? Ranking? Review numbers? Fan Feedback? etc.) 

I am fortunate to have a day job that pays my bills, so it takes the pressure off my writing and allows me to do what I love without obsessing about the end results. Obviously, I want my books to do well – sales, reviews, ranking, reader feedback – but ultimately success means finding joy in the whole process of getting there –  in the friendships that form, in the way your world expands, the confidence you gain, the confidence you lose, the lessons you learn.

 

As our industry continues to change, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to continue publishing?

I don’t worry about what’s going on around me. I ask myself, “Am I having fun today? Doing this?” On the days the answer is “No”, I do something else – I’ll marathon-watch all the shows I’ve been missing, add to my collection of Pinterest fails, lounge around in something spectacularly impractical. Most times, that break is enough to regenerate the enthusiasm and yearning to get back to writing. If it’s in your blood, you can’t stay away too long.

 

How do you deal with all of the stress that’s related to the Indie World? (Pressure from fans, requests, etc) 

I think there is stress involved in every job, at every level. I remind myself how lucky I am to have it come from a job of my own choosing, something that I love doing. The biggest lesson I have learned is that it’s okay to say no. It’s a continuing challenge because we all want to pay it forward, to give back to an incredibly supportive community of writers, readers, bloggers. I feel terrible committing to something and then not coming through. It’s much better to be upfront to avoid letting someone down. If you are authentic and sincere, most people are inherently accepting and understanding.

 

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, can you tell us what you do to find inspiration to write again?

For me, the toughest cases of writer’s block are usually in-between books. I go for months without writing a single sentence. Sometimes you have so many ideas, it’s like trying to decide who you’re going to marry. You like them all, but you don’t know if you’ll love them till ‘THE END’ do you part….lol. Other times, you have absolutely nothing. There you are, all dressed up, waiting for someone to come calling and not one idea is banging down your door. You wonder if you’ll ever have another story to tell or if you should just go get a few dozen cats.

 

What’s your writing ritual? (particular location, music that you listen to? etc?)

I need music when I’m envisioning a scene, but when I’m writing, I can’t handle any distractions. I’m so jealous of my friends who can set up a laptop at the coffee shop. I need silence. I need to be alone. Also, I would probably scare everyone off because I make weird faces and blurt out phrases that make no sense.

 

What’s your biggest fear as an indie author?

That I’ll never have another story to tell. That I’ll lose that spark that keeps me going. I guess that’s something that every author fears – indie or otherwise.

 

If you could go back to your first year as an author, what’s some advice you would you give to yourself?

I really enjoyed my first year as an author. In my head, I’m still there. I’m still learning and growing and discovering. The minute you stop being a student and see yourself as a master, it’s over. You pile on the pressure and the expectations. You start to fear that your next book won’t be as good as your last one. It’s not a bad thing if it motivates you go bigger and better, but in trying to impress everyone else, it’s easy to start seeking validation outside yourself. If I could go back, I would say to myself, “Stay here. Enjoy this. It’s a wonderful place to be.”

 

Before we get off the couch, Wait! Final burning questions for lots of our readers here: How do you deal with bad reviews?

What bad reviews? I was recently on Goodreads and saw nothing but five star reviews. I might have filtered everything else out, but man, there’s no better way to feel golden….lol

Bad reviews are a part of any creative venture – books, music, movies – so when I read one, I remind myself that I am part of a huge legacy of artists. It’s our job to shake, rattle, and roll. Constructive criticism helps me identify my weaknesses, it makes me aware of what I can do better, it enables me to see things from another perspective, it points out something I may have missed. There are reviews that make your soul burst into beautiful, heavenly arias, and reviews that shred you up so bad that you spend the next two lifetimes crying tears of blood. The trick is to not take them or yourself too seriously.

 

What’s one thing (or huge dream) you hope to accomplish in your career over the next few years?

I want Chris Hemsworth to feed me popcorn as we watch my book-to-movie unfold on the big screen, where he plays one of my heroes. I would ‘Thor-oughly’ enjoy that! ? ? ?

 

Lastly, for anyone who is currently reading this and is just starting out as an author or struggling to get to where they want to be in his/her career, what’s one piece of advice you would give to encourage them?

First and foremost, congratulations on completing your novel! It takes dedication, discipline, and many, many hours, but you did it. That is something to be immensely proud of! Just remember that you could have written the best book with the best story and the best characters, but it doesn’t entitle you to anything. Be grateful for every reader, blogger, family member, and friend who picks it up. Be grateful for every encouraging message or comment you receive. If they don’t come your way, don’t beat yourself up over it. What you envision and what you actually get aren’t always the same thing. If you have the drive to keep creating, you can’t help but pick yourself up and try again. Stop comparing yourself to anyone else. If Author XYZ becomes an overnight sensation, revel in that success. He or she is showing you the magic that can happen! Keep creating your own world at your own pace and leave the door open for the magic to find you.

 

 

Lightning round questions:

Favorite genre to write? Romance

Alpha Male or Beta Male? Alpha

Standalone or Series? Series

Tea or Coffee? Coffee

Ebook or Paperback? Ebook

All Platforms or KU? All platforms

Thank you so much for sitting down with us on the couch this week, Leylah Attar! We truly enjoyed having you and we appreciate your thoughts! We look forward to seeing Chris Hemsworth play the hero when one of your books is made into a movie! 🙂

If you want to check out Leylah Attar’s awesome books or say ‘Hello’ to her on social media, be sure to check out her links below!

Website*Books*Facebook

PS–Be sure you’re on our every-Monday mailing list for even more inspiration in the morning!