I’m so pleased to welcome our guest blogger Ashley A Torbeck, author of Sanctuary (Book 1 of Daughters of Night Series!). As we here at Bitemybook and so many of our viewers are aspiring writers I am always looking to get the inside scoop on the ups and downs of how other writers are enduring ‘the writer’s life’ and what advice they can offer. I was thrilled when Ashley stepped up to share some of her own experiences. Thanks so very much Ashley!!! ----Michala T.
Trials of Fire and Ice
By: Ashley A. Torbeck
That is exactly what becoming an independent author really is. Trials of fire are those times when you’re doing well, on a roll, on top of the world, and “on fire” with your work and sales are through the roof. Trials of ice are the complete opposite. They’re the times when you want to give up, feel like a failure, haven’t sold a single copy the entire month, and you see and hear everyone else’s success and you hate yourself for being jealous.
What most first-time authors don’t understand, though, is that at some point in time, we ALL go through these trials. Just speaking on a personal level, I’d say it’s safe to classify my experiences as not just a roller coaster, but the whole damn carnival, which is why I want to take a moment to share with you some of my personal trials of fire and ice.
Trials of Fire - The Good Times and Some Tips for Success
Find the platform that’s right for you. I won’t endorse or promote a platform for you to publish on, but I will say I really enjoyed working on createspace.com because it was so simple. Even a first-time author can follow the instructions and publish within just a couple of days. Just remember, though, what works for me may not be what works for you. There are several websites that offer you self-publishing options, and you should research to find the one that fits your needs best, and stick with it.
Order at least 2 physical proofs. When publishing through a site that distributes physical copies, you’ll go through the proofing process. Depending on how OCD you may be, you may want more. But the sheer joy of having your physical proofs arrive at your door is exhilarating, and you don’t want to miss out on this. Even if you use the online proof the website offers, like I did, I still ordered 2 copies, which are now tucked away for safe keeping and for those nostalgic, giddy moments.
Get featured on a blog. When I first started off, I found this awesome chick that ran a blog and was looking for authors to interview. I have no idea what brought me to Craigslist that day, but because of it, I met Michala, who set me up with a review and an author interview right away. That was the single most encouraging moment for me at the time. Having a real person interviewing ME was a remarkable feeling, and a high that I won’t soon forget.
Network, network, network! I’m not talking about fiber optic cables and wireless connections. I’m talking about meeting people. Get to know your fellow indie authors and bloggers; they will prove to be a valuable asset, not to mention great motivators. I honestly can’t stress enough how important this part is. The indie community is like a tightly knit family-one where most everyone is willing to lend a hand, some advice, and show you the ropes. We support one another; we buy each other’s books, even if we’re flat broke. We promote and advertise you and your work. Most importantly, we understand. My network is growing and supporting me in ways that even my best friends can’t, so don’t underestimate the importance of networking!
NaNoWriMo. The NaNoWriMo Challenge is the National Novel Writing Month Challenge held in November where you write 50,000 words in 30 days. I just started it for this year. I’m forcing myself to actually sit down and write with a set goal and it’s really gotten my creativity flowing and my energy pumping. It’s also a chance to take a break from everything else you’re working on to focus on something entirely different and give your brain a breather. If you’ve never done it, look into it for next year. It’s hard, but so far, it’s worth it!
Trials of Ice - A Downward Spiral and What NOT to Do
Taking on too many projects. I’m the queen of this. Right now, I have two blogs, the NaNoWriMo Challenge, my second book to be published by Christmas 2012, seven unfinished stories, and at least 4 ideas for stories saved on my laptop, and I’m trying to promote. It gets overwhelming and you end up only giving a fraction of the attention each project deserves, which isn’t fair to anyone.
Letting distractions halt your progress. Oh, the stories I could NOT tell you because I let myself get distracted! Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, TV, radio, email…if you let yourself get distracted, by the end of the day, you’re left with no new progress, your book isn’t selling, and now your office/living room/wherever you work is a complete mess. Distractions are great if you’re burned out and need a breather, but don’t let them consume you and waste your life away.
Letting yourself get down due to lack of sales. Every author at some point will look at the goose egg of sales for the month, and feel like a failure. I did, because heaven forbid my book not become a bestseller overnight when nobody’s even heard of it. It takes a LOT of hard work to get your name out there, and even more to get your book into the hands of people willing to read it. When you make the sales, it becomes a trial of fire. But don’t let a lack of sales cause you to pull your book off sale and give up your dream. Be patient, grasshopper. And work harder for those sales, they won’t just come to you.
They said “no” so I must be a terrible writer. Just because someone doesn’t want to give your book a review or feature you on their blog does NOT mean you wrote a bad book. It just means that maybe you’re marketing it to the wrong crowd. Use your noggin. You’re clearly smart enough to write a book, so do your research, know your audience, and market it to the right people. This is another one of those places where building a strong network comes in handy. Rub elbows with bloggers. Follow and retweet them on Twitter. Be kind and promote their blogs. If you build a good name for yourself, you’ll see those no’s turn into yes’ before long.
Ouch, I’m in pain, I’m taking some time off. Okay, yes, pain sucks, I’ll give you that. As a writer, you’re probably going to get migraines, carpal tunnels, arthritis, you’ll get crabby, you’ll get frustrated. Well, here’s my advice. Suck it up, cupcake. Please know I’m not being tough to be mean, but you have to push through the pain. Anyone who knows me knows I’m more clumsy than Bella in Twilight ever thought of being. And there have been times when I said the same thing, “Oh, my knee hurts, my shoulder hurts, my wrist hurts, blah blah blah…so I’m just gonna relax for a while.” Take an hour, take a day, but don’t take so long you lose the drive to write and market your book. As I’m writing this, my shoulder is covered in IcyHot and the pain is still shooting to my elbow. Oh well, I have at least another thousand words to write for the NaNo Challenge, so I’ll be working through the pain. I’ve procrastinated long enough. Does it hurt? Yep. But I want success. How bad do you want it?
Some other trials of fire: getting your shipment of books in the mail; your first sale; your fifth sale; the first time you realize you’re going to get a royalty check, and so many more. Other trials of ice: the first negative review; realizing you’ve made a huge error and having to start over; the hopeless feeling of not knowing where to start or where to go next; the debilitating self-doubt; and the waiting in the dark, wondering what’s going to happen. Marketing and promoting your book is hard work. It’s a real job. But you can’t give up, you can’t give in to the ice. No matter how low things get, focus on the fire that keeps burning inside you-your passion to make your dream come true. It’s within your reach, and once you make it happen, it makes everything you’ve gone through completely worth the effort.
I want to wish all the writers out there the best of luck, and give a huge thank you to Michala and William for hosting me on their blog. You’ve been awesome, and I’ve been so lucky.
All the fun info on Ashley!!!!