There has been quite some consternation among Indie authors over past months in various ways that dishonourable people have found to scam the system and get quite rich selling books that are not what they should be, particularly on Amazon, or who steal others’ books and make them available on pirate websites, or plagiarise and “rebrand” them as their own work..
Understandably, those who put a lot of effort into writing and publishing excellent books find such situations discouraging. It’s hard to be upbeat about what we do when others seem to “win” with shortcuts that are plain wrong.
It’s up to us to keep on creating fantastic stories and poetry for the readers out there who crave excellent books.
It’s up to us to hold our heads high, proclaim “I write every word of my books!” and then show the world what we’ve got.
In short, it’s up to us to show the cheaters and scammers how it should be done.
Nobody but honest and hard-working authors can restore the faith of readers in Indoe and self publishing. The only way to do that is to maintain a premium of quality in the books on the shelves in stores, libraries and homes all over the world.
We may have to work harder, smarter and cleaner than ever before. Still, we’ve had to do that in order to give traditional publishing a good shake, and we’ve certainly achieved that.
We Indies have so much to offer. We have each other for support and an entire future that is yet to be shaped ahead of each of us.
I refuse to quit. I refuse to let the scammers win. Who’s with me?
It should come as no surprise that when you’ve been listening to people say the same thing for a while, you get better at understanding what they really mean.
Person Z. Take, for example, a young woman who approaches her friends and family members and says something like, “Hey, so, I’m having a fancy brand-name plasticware/linenware/healthy and beauty product/accessory/clothing party at my house in a couple of weeks, and I really hope you’ll come.”
What she’s really saying: Option A: I got sucked into one of these parties by relative/friend X, and she looked so hopeful that someone would book a party so she’d get some reward, and my mouth was open before my brain could stop it.
What she’s really saying: Option B: There’s a thing this company makes, and I’d really like to have it, but it’s expensive so I’m having a party and anything you buy will help me get it cheaper.
I’ve been on both ends of the equation, and can totally sympathise. It’s fair to say I’ve smiled and nodded through a whole bunch of those evenings, and even bought a thing or three, to help friends and family members out. From time to time, I’ve also been the Option A person.
Person Y. In another example, a child approaches family members and friends and explains that the school is selling chocolates/holding a “fun run”/doing some kind of suffer-a-thon as fundraising for a new toilet block so the kids can “go” comfortably during breaks.
What the child is really saying: Option A: The school insists that I must do this thing and there’s no way out of it, so please give me some money toward it so it’s not for nothing.
What the child is really saying: Option B: There are prizes for doing this, and I really want the floppitywoppity that you can only get if you raise $5000, so please give me some money to give me a fair chance at winning one. Again, I’ve helped more than one kid out of the hole. I don’t know if any of them ever got the floppitywoppity, but I know I have helped to build more than one toilet block in my time.
Person X. Then, there’s the Indie author. Actually, it could be any Indie creative – an artist, musician, or crafter. I just decided to use an author as the example here, because that enables me to draw on my own experience again. Person X has a passion for writing, a message they want to get out to the world, and they finally get their book published. They tell their friends and family members that they have a book out, and they’re about to tell them what it’s about…
What the author is really saying: Option A: I finally fulfilled my dream. Aren’t you happy for me?
What the author is really saying: Option B: I did a thing! I may never become a millionaire, but I did a thing! Please proud of me!
What the author is really saying: Option C: Remember all those times I supported your party plan things? And your fun runs? And your kids’ school toilet blocks? And…
…But as Person X talks, there are virtual crickets chirping, and eyes looking nervously at the door, and people checking their phones, and remembering appointments they need to be at, and… What the others are really saying: Option A: Well, this is awkward… who ever thought he/she was brave enough to get out there and do the thing! What the others are really saying: Option B: Yeah, we know you’ve supported us and our kids, but we’d prefer not to mention that now, because I would rather put my cash toward fancy plastic ware/linen/clothes/beauty products/accessories or a gym membership than some book by someone nobody’s ever heard of.
What the others are really saying: Option C: What the heck are we supposed to do now? We hope he’s not going to ask us to actually read it… maybe if I don’t ask what it’s about, he’ll stop talking about it.
What the others are really saying: Option D: But… you’re my brother/sister/cousin/relative/friend… how could a book you wrote even be any good? A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?
Person W. The final example is the one person in the room who hugs you and says, “Awesome! That’s fantastic! I’ll buy your book! How much do you want for it? You’ll sign it for me, won’t you? I can’t wait to tell my friends what you’ve done!”
What they’re really saying: Option A: I’m proud of you, and I’m on your team.
What they’re really saying: Option B: I’ll probably never read it, but I’m proud of you, and I’m on your team.
What they’re really saying: Option C: “Awesome! That’s fantastic! I’ll buy your book! How much do you want for it? You’ll sign it for me, won’t you? I can’t wait to tell my friends what you’ve done!” then looking over their shoulder with a glare at the rest of the people in the room who were too selfish to do or say anything.
The moral of the story: Option A: I’m really thankful for every ‘Person W’ in my life. I had no idea when I embarked on my journey as an Indie author that it would hurt so much to know there were so many Zs and Ys in my circles, but I also had no idea how wonderful it would be to know who the Ws were, and that they were on my team.
The moral of the story: Option B: Always be a W. Even if you never read the book, be a W.
Now that I am making more progress in my recovery from my spinal surgery and I am moving a little more freely, I’ve decided to be more deliberate and purposeful about starting to retrain my muscles and building up some stamina for both my body and my mind.
Today I got out some pencils and a book, and started colouring, which is always something that makes me happy and peaceful. It’s also something I can do standing at the kitchen bench. I don’t have to do it all at once – it’s something I can do, and leave, and go back to through the day.
It may not seem like much, but getting this much done is a big achievement for me. I have been largely horizontal and only walking fairly short distances -although frequently – since the surgery on my spine on October 19.
Since my last update on my recovery, the first lot of bruising has faded to a dull shadow and the deeper bruising has begun to come to the surface now, so I am still all the colours of the rainbow, but the pain is less intense and more manageable now. I’ve ventured out of the house and walked around the yard, and begun to do light things around the house like folding laundry and doing dishes. Things that exhausted me at first are easier now, which is really encouraging. I have, however, learned the hard way that I am not ready for cutting pumpkin (it was just a little bit of butternut) or bending to get things out of low places. You don’t know until you try, right? Suffice to say that dinner on Monday was delicious, but I paid for it on Monday night and yesterday. The aggravation has settled now, though, much to my relief.
Sitting for any length of time is still an issue: I’m currently managing about ten minutes at a time before I have had enough. That means I will have to be ready to stand up most of the day when I go back to work in a couple of weeks. I will have exams to mark and papers to grade, so this seems like a good way to begin to prepare for that sort of thing. I can gradually build up to standing for longer periods of time without feeling any pressure to “perform”.
I also plan to start walking a bit further than I have been, especially now that I am a bit more confident and steady on my feet.
I fully understand that healing and recovery can’t be rushed, but I think that small progress in these ways will only help me to get stronger. And when I have had enough each time, my bed or my recliner will still be here waiting for me.
Today I am feeling positive and encouraged, which is also helpful to my healing and easier to live with all round.
One of the things I love most about the Indie author community is the way people encourage each other and work together.
Of course, you can find bullies and selfish people anywhere, but I have been very blessed to move in really supportive circles full of very positive people.
One such group goes by the name of Sparkly Badgers. It’s a group based on Facebook, although the members can be found on all sorts of social media. The Sparkly Badgers are deliberate about encouraging and supporting each other and the books we write.
They’ve done something really special recently, though, by creating the Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology.
This book is a family-friendly Christmas themed anthology designed to not only provide readers with an excellent collection of holiday reading, but also to raIse money for the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled. It’s a project I am most honoured and proud to be part of, and which I am happy to encourage my readers to order.
It contains short stories and poetry in a variety of genres, all related one way or another to the Christmas theme.
All profits from the sale of this delightful book will go towards enriching the lives of disabled kids by providing them with a most enjoyable and memorable experience.
The Sparkly Badgers Christmas Anthology is available for preorder now, and is due for release on November 16. After that date, it will also be available in paperback.
I’ve preordered my copy, and I hope you will, too!
It’s available on Amazon.
Sometimes I wonder what people think when I say I write poetry.
Cute little greeting card verses? No.
Lofty, unintelligible, old-fashioned rhymes about flowers and oil paintings? No.
Trite rhymes that talk about love and sunshine? No.
I have to admit, I’m very tired of the “That’s nice, dear!” kind of responses.
I’m also more than weary of the sensation that I have to just about stand under a red light on a dimly lit street to get people to take my poetry seriously.
I’m not talking about my readers here. I’m talking about people I interact with in my daily life, be they co-workers, acquaintances, family members or friends. Other than a very small number of individuals within those circles – for whose support I am ever grateful – it feels like most people in my life prefer to pretend I’ve never written a word.
I know they’re not my main audience. I don’t expect them all to love everything I write. In all honesty, most of them have never even picked any of my work up to read it.
The question remains, though: Why aren’t they more willing to support me? Do I mean so little them that what matters to me is of no value, either?
I have commented on numerous occasions that there is a part of my soul in every poem. My poems speak my pain, my love, my joy, my life lessons, my resolutions, my fears, my anger, my insomnia, my restlessness and my contentment. Some of them are the very essence of my desperation to survive and my will to live. Some of them could only be more “life and death” if they were actually written in my blood.
Do people not understand the bravery that it takes for an author to put their words on paper and unveil them in front of the whole world? That kind of vulnerability is, quite honestly, terrifying.
I experience this far more profoundly with my poetry than I do with my fiction. It’s far more personal, and it’s definitely more revealing of what’s in my own heart and mind than any of the stories I write. That’s why I am so committed to crafting each poem to say exactly what I want it to, in a way that is beautiful to read, and with careful attention to the music and structure of each poem. If I’m putting my soul out there for other people to read, it’s going to be the best that I can make it.
My readers tell me that my poems encourage and move them. The ultimate satisfaction as a poet is knowing that my words matter to the people who read them. They get it. And thank God they do, or else I’d be feeling more dejected than ever.
The other weirdly encouraging thing is that this isn’t something that only I experience. These are thoughts and feelings that are remarkably common among the writing community, and I have come to learn that they are common to all creative people, whatever medium they work in.
It’s why I am so thankful for my community of fellow authors and poets and other creative people who encourage and celebrate one another’s creativity and the courage that goes with it.
It’s why I am doubly grateful for my “additional family” that are known as the Indie Fabs – they’re my posse, my constant encouragers, and my soft place to fall when things are hard.
It’s why I am doubly grateful for those few family members and friends who support everything I do, read everything I create, and cheer me on relentlessly.
It’s not overstating things to say that I am still here because of my writing, and I am still writing because of them.
If you appreciated this post, please leave a like or a comment below to help it be seen by other readers.
I posted recently about needing to write some positive poetry to balance the number of dark and melancholy poems that I’ve written, so that my next collection isn’t entirely moody, angry and defiant.
On Wednesday evening, between a meeting and a theatre company rehearsal, I grabbed some dinner and headed to one of my favourite spots – the beach. It was an unseasonally mild evening for early May— still 24 celcius when I got there— so I took off my shoes and grounded myself in nature with some deep breaths and my bare feet on the earth. It felt so good to find quietness and solitude there, just the sea, a few gulls and me.
While I sat on the foreshore and pondered the scene before me as evening fell, the beginnings of a poem came to me. Now that it’s finished, I’m pretty happy with it. I love the sensuous, joyful feel of a lovers’ reunion, and I think I’ve captured the moment well.
Consider me encouraged.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to encourage or inspire me with ideas, whether as a comment or in a private message. It means a lot to me that you would do that, and that you’re interested enough in my writing to help me in that way.
If you appreciated this post, please leave a comment or simply click “like“. This helps my post to be seen by others. I’d also appreciate any feedback on the poem.
There are so many things you need to get right. When I started out, I knew nothing about marketing, very little about social media strategies, and had no idea how hard it is to promote a book and achieve sales.
There is one factor, more than any other, to which I attribute my survival and gradual success.
I have a group of “Indie sisters” who are the most incredible support, help, encouragement and backup anyone could ask for.
They’re all still learning, like I am. Individually, we’ve encountered pitfalls we never imagined, but we got through them with our integrity and sanity intact because of the support we’ve given each other. Together, we’ve done things that would have seemed near impossible on our own.
We’re selling books. We run Facebook groups for support, encouragement, and co-promotion for Indie authors. We’ve run events for Indie Authors Day, Valentine’s Day, book launches, author takeovers, cover reveals, and done a radio/podcast show. We’ve got websites, blogs, twitter and Instagram accounts, and multiple Facebook pages.
It all sounds too good to be true. To be honest, if you’d told me a year ago that five friends whom I had not yet met and I would be achieving these things, I’d have laughed. They probably would have, too.
The secret to what we’re achieving is not simply the sum total of our efforts. We have tapped into what I like to think of as ‘The Power of the Posse’.
It’s incredibly encouraging to know, with absolute confidence, that on the days one of us feels like a failure or can’t see the way forward, the others have their back. We all know that if there’s a challenge, we are in it together. We sincerely and joyfully celebrate each other’s victories and achievements. We talk every day, about all sorts of things, simply because we enjoy each other’s company. We defend each other, and we’d willingly go down fighting to protect each other.
I know, it sounds unreal. But the magic of the “Indie Fabs” goes way beyond our own group. We believe in paying it forward. We read and review other people’s books. We are free with advice and words of experience for those who ask for them. We answer the call when another Indie author – quite often, one who isn’t part of our team – needs help. And we will not ask for payment, except that those we help also pay it forward by helping others out when they get the chance.
I can’t imagine doing all this without Jeannie, Renee, Aliya, Eva and Lyra. I don’t even want to contemplate how I might.
One organisation I know of tried to allocate author teams for their members. Mine, and many others, never got off the ground because it’s simply not possible to manufacture the kind of relationship and teamwork that is required for a posse to work the way it should.
I am absolutely convinced that life/fate/destiny/the literary gods chose my posse for me, and me for them. What we have is magic.
So how, you ask, can you get a posse of your own?
Join and participate in author’s groups on Facebook. There are hundreds of them – you can choose by genre, location, particular events or affiliation with a certain group. Engage with the people there. Sooner or later, you’ll find the ones with whom you have an affinity.
Encourage and help others. Share posts, read and review books, offer help when it’s needed. Those who reciprocate and help you – they’re the ones you want to consider as potential members of your posse.
Introduce your author friends to each other. Groups will naturally form. Don’t be exclusive, but nurture the closer working/team relationships and see what grows.
Demonstrate integrity. Do what you say you will. Be honest in your encouragement and support for others. That really gets noticed, especially in online communities where so many people are out for themselves.
Take responsibility. Be honest about things you haven’t done well, or things you feel others haven’t done well, but take care to be constructive in the way you communicate that.
Give it time. It probably isn’t going to happen immediately. When the time is right though, you’ll find yourself in the midst of a group of authors who work well together, include each other in things, and have complementary strengths.
When you find them, treasure them. Encourage, praise and nurture them.
If they do the same for you, you’ve found your posse.
I’m part of a group of writers who are hosting a 24 hour event on Facebook, where there are discussions, book giveaways, and lots of fun to be had.
It’s been really encouraging to be part of the first six hours of the event. People have been so friendly and positive, and it feels great to know that we are experiencing similar things on our various journeys of writing and authorship.
Things got a little quiet earlier on, so I told my fellow writers about the picture of the centuries-old wine cups and accompanying information board that my friend sent me from a museum in Singapore with the caption, “I await the writing!”
The cups and the information really were lovely, and I found them to be inspirational.
Before the end of the night, I had crafted a poem for my friend that I could be proud of.
Their responses were delightful.
How can I be anything other than encouraged?
Thank you, Vicki, Shelley, and Susan.
I hope my readers and followers will look up your books, too!
There’s always a bit of trepidation when you do something new and you’re not sure how it’s going to go. ‘Leaf’ has been available for just over three months now, and I’m very thankful and excited to be getting positive reviews.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I am really thrilled about these two readers’ responses that I’ve received recently.
Both of these people, and others who have given my writing positive reviews and ratings, have encouraged me more than they realise. Sometimes being a writer is a really lonely thing, because there’s a whole experience and process you have to go through before you can know if anyone is actually going to understand and connect with what you’ve written. To know that my poetry has had such an effect on people is both motivating and incredibly humbling.
I have a friend that I love a lot. We live thousands of kilometres apart, but we spend part of every day talking with each other. It’s a beautiful friendship that has grown out of a chance meeting, a random response to a random tweet.
When I visited Canada last year, I spent some time at Sean’s house.
I remember we were both nervous about finally meeting each other after talking online for so long, but that first hug was just incredible. The next few days were proof that our friendship was real. Even our partners commented on how it seemed like Sean and I had known each other forever.
On the morning that we left, the mood was sombre. Goodbyes were tearful. As I was about to go, he said, “Please don’t leave.”
My response was immediate and honest. “I’ll never completely be gone. You’re my brother now. I’ll be back.”
When I do go back in September this year, Sean and I are going to have our own little adoption ceremony. What we have is a friendship more valuable than we ever realised it would be when we started joking with one another on Twitter way back when.
Today, when I signed into the instant messenger that we both use, I found these words from him.
He may have known how timely his words were, but I don’t think he realises just how healing and restoring it was to read these words after a tough week in which I had confronted some tough challenges, both professionally and personally.
It’s so incredibly good to know you have someone who has your back, no matter what critics and problems life might throw at you. Sean is by no means the only one of my friends who does that, but I wouldn’t want to be without him. He has his own very special place in my heart, and nobody could replace him.
Thank you, Sean, from the bottom of my heart, for your words and for being an amazing friend and brother.