Are you scared yet? I know I used to be.
Being an indie author or even an author with independent, small publishers, means you will not only get to embrace those words, but live them daily.
"But hey! I don't want any part of business shenanigans. I'm a writer, I'm here to write, to tell a story."
I can already hear you forming those thoughts and resisting the assimilation. Don't fight so hard, let it settle into your brain stew a bit. Sure, someday you may get lucky enough to hit the big time and get your own posse, your contingent of peeps who do all the other stuff I've mentioned while you sit in your kick ass study, with your top of the line computer and caffeine drip pumping at a steady rate. You can focus on simply writing and nothing more. Unless you're in your Scottish castle and staring dreamily out the window of the Northern Tower as your gardener/handyman named Lachlan goes about his routine in nothing more than sweat and a kilt.....
Oh. Wait. Sorry. *grins*
Back to work.
Until you get to a "place" where you can toss money around like confetti and hire others to take on some of the load all of us authors have, you're going to have to get your hands dirty and I'm not talking like a good, sexy dirty either. You will be both pimp and hooker, a dual role where you get to be proud of your work and then bitch slap that ho if she don't start bringing back some candy. Mmmmm....candy.
I want to preface the rest of this by saying I hold NO business degree. I'm a curious blend of street smarts and book smarts. An amalgam of intelligence and ignorance with no common sense but an observer of the human race. I did well in all subjects in school except math and science. Oh, and Home Economics. Shut up.
I also want to say that my publisher, Breathless Press, and all their staff, have made this journey remarkable and have taught me SO much, from editing to selling and on. They do what they can, when they can and for that I'll be grateful as its afforded me some kick ass opportunities. However, they all work hard, most of them are authors as well, with a finger in every pie. Mmmm...pie.
This is something I've merely watched, learned and continue to grow in, every single day. I've no graphs to show, although I've researched the everloving f**k out of this all. I want to share with you MY experience simply because I do get asked a lot about what I do in regards to keeping New Camelot in the public consciousness. How I keep building the "brand" that is New Camelot.
It's astonishingly simply and hard at the same time. The only tool you really need is persistence. Although if Prof. McGonagall tosses a Time Turner your way, take it and run. The reason for that is I'm finally just realizing HOW to balance my writing time between my shameless pimping. Both take up a bit of time but thank Gods for the ability to preschedule things on Facebook and this here blog.
Never treat your book or characters as anything ordinary. This is a piece of your soul. These are your children. They deserve your love and attention as much as anything else. A bit of you lives in every single word you put down. You are Horcruxing it in ways Lord Voldemort never thought of. Even the most fantastical of plots can still be made to feel "real". As can your characters. You need to humanize them, even the bad guys. They are real in your mind, aren't they? They "speak" to you, right? Then let them speak to the world as well. Make them approachable and real. Yes, Mr. X is a vampire but hey! He flosses the eff out his fangs every night, sometimes twice. Ms. L is a Fae Queen and full of expotential power but is a complete slob and hates to cook. Say it loud, say it proud. The more YOU share your world and your babies, the more they solidify and cement themselves in people's imaginations.
Never treat YOURSELF as anything ordinary. You're aren't. Each of us are worlds waiting to explore and be explored. Do you know how many people just accept defeat or are afraid to try? I did and I was. It took me until LAST YEAR to pull out my lady balls and figure out I really had nothing to lose. To not try is the REAL failure. So try. Try again. Try once more. Keep trying. You glow. You shine. You ARE magic. Now sprinkle that shit everywhere. Watch your step, though. Lot of awesome everywhere.
Social Media is our friend. Most days. Sometimes, I sit back and look at all the online promotions and marketing stuffs and wonder what Marlowe, Shelly, Shakespeare and Poe would do now if they were around. Just think! Those guys lived in times where social networking was tea time or hanging out in Ye Olde Pub and getting ferschnickered. Also, a majority of those fab writers go their names out there AFTER they died. I ...uh..ain't got time for that! We've got Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google +, Pinterest, etc. If you want to live on the edge, scribble your name along any 'rest stop' bathroom wall. I give great write. Call me! Whatever medium you chose, do it with the force of a turbo locomotive racing down the road. Roads? Where we're going, we don't needs roads. (Thank you Doc Brown.)
Apply yourself 100%. Do NOT half ass it. Commit to the promoting as much as you do the writing. This is your life, your dream! Your blood, sweat and tears. If you're lackadaisical about getting your name out there, it will be felt, trust me. I've seen other authors half heartedly attempt to push their book and name. Oh hey. This is my book. You should buy it. But if you don't, that's okay too. Oh..look....a penny. Yeah. No. You get that megaphone and hop up on your soapbox. Tout your tome as the Next Big Thing! Infer that it can save lives and bring hope to the hopeless! That it can inspire people and make them dream big...even bigger! Because you know what? It did all that for you, didn't it?
Don't compromise your vision or talent. By this, I simply mean do not let the voices of others tarnish your ambition or dreams. There are going to be SO many naysayers, people telling you you can't or that you should do this instead of this. Let your heart guide you. This isn't a math test. This is your calling. Be open to new ideas and advice of course. But don't let one dumbass tell you that you shouldn't even be writing. Fuck them with a rusty saw. In the butt.
Be open and approachable to fans, friends and colleagues. This is the most important rule of all. You need to keep a finger on the pulse of your fan base. "Oh, but I don't even have a fan base", you might be muttering right now. True, true. But always, always, always think as if you do and that thought guides your actions. Your actions will guide your motivation and determination. Toss in some persistence and you WILL make it so! And for Gods sake, your friends can also be fans....don't pigeonhole yourself or them. In point of fact, a general misconception about this pairing is that most think your friends won't be discerning enough, or honest enough to tell you what their thoughts are on your writing. Actually, if they're your true friends, believe me, they won't hold back. Also, peeps? Do NOT ask others to be honest with you if you know you won't be able to deal with their feedback. And speaking of feedback, move your ego out of the way and listen, really listen to what people say to you. It's all about learning and growing. I say this a lot but we are all amateurs in a field no one ever truly masters. If you're lucky enough, you'll also find yourself learning from your fellow writers as well. And others who have experience in the diverse medium of writing. Editors, design artists, promo and marketing peeps, publishers, etc. I always follow my personal rule of bowing to those who do know a bit more than I do and accepting their advice or help. They are my Yoda's. Wise they are.
If you were expecting statistics and pro's/con's, intelligent pieces of researched material laid forth with empirical precision, you must be new to me. *laughs* All I can truly offer you is what I've done in the last year. I've worked on "my" world from sun up to sun down and beyond. I breathe, eat, sleep and live my work. I envision when I'm awake and dream of it when asleep. I've taken my vows to the Muse. Writing and making YOUR mark is a full time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no breaks, there is no down time. Even when I'm "resting", I'm still doing book related or Torie related work. Keeping up my website, writing blogs, researching, writing, marketing, promoting, advertising and talking to people. And when I run out of those things (which I really never do *laughs), I am helping my friends and other writers in whatever capacity I can, however they need me. Why? Um..well..why not? It's the right thing to do and there were many who held out their hands to me in the beginning. I can do no less. And I will always be a cheerleader for my fellow writers, of all mediums. The world has enough haters, enough detractors and enough naysayers who only live to put others down because they don't have the courage to even try.
That's where I come in. I'm Torie James. I'm here to kick ass and chew gum. And I am all out of gum.