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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Writing & Other Simple Pleasures...

This is when I appreciate having a blog. I didn't have one while I was writing The Beautiful People series (formally titled Film Star before I saw the light and realized we Yanks don't do irony very well and no one outside of the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis would get it). I wish I would have had one because it is quite cathartic to write about the whole journey and the process of creating a book. I suppose I should back up and explain why I find this present metamorphosis so exciting. 

I haven't written anything before the first week of August since April. 

Nothing, nada, not a damn thing. 

It's something we authors, poets and writers experience. A dreadful infliction known as "writer's block". It's awful, terrible and saps all our creative energy and efforts. All the sudden the magic that has flowed from your fingertips, whether onto paper or into your laptop, is gone. The tap which has gushed over with ideas turns off and there is a whole lot of . . . nothing. 

This is the most coherent way I can describe it but for me, it came at a devastating point. I had just discovered the joys of self-publishing and whilst uploading to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), SWs (Smashwords), PubIt (Barnes & Noble for Nook) et al was the easy part, I wasn't selling anything and I couldn't write either. Talk about a major blow to a writer's self-esteem.

To be fair, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was spamming my few followers on Twitter and the advice to be had on the Kindle author boards was more or less useless for me. Let's face it: every author is different and what one person did to sell 50,000 copies of their novel in a month isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for every other author.

We have seen this in modern publishing and outside of the indie genre as well. That is why we know who JK Rowling, Stephen King and James Patterson are whilst only some people are familiar with Elizabeth Gage or Marius Gabriel for instance. They all wrote worthy material but some authors sell better than others, full stop. Some genres sell better than others. Right now, it seems to be romance, thrillers, paranormal and YA. If you aren't in those genres, you might sell but don't expect to sell 70,000 in one month (or even in a year).

Let's face it, chick-lit is so 2001. It's had its time and while there were a few memorable books (The Devil Wears Prada is the only one that comes to mind but that's only because I remember the movie with Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep), but most of it was throwaway junk with the same silly characters and useless, forgettable plots. I was marketing my work as chick-lit, probably not the best idea in 2011 when the economy sucks and no one wants to read about someone else living the bling bling life of the early 21st century.

But someone does want to read about it . . . not just 20,000 readers a month. I feel lucky and blessed (I'm spiritual people, not religious so you will hear no talk about God or Jesus from me) to be doing as well as I have done. I sell more each month than the last and while they are modest sales, I am happy someone is interested in my work at all. I love checking KDP to see yet another sale. And that is how I have approached self-publishing . . . old school but still thinking globally while acting locally and pleasing one customer at a time (no pun intended as I write books, I'm an artistic prostitute, not a literal one).

So, what does all this have to do with writer's block? Well, when I let go and realized there were certain aspects of book sales (okay, most of it other than having a decent story, the best cover possible and writing about something some people will find interesting) were out of my hands, I was able to relax and the words started coming to me again. 

Unfortunately, not for my high-art literature novel, DeGeneration, but for my new series, The Vamp Saga. The first novel, Death Wish: Book I, was originally set to be released in January of 2012 but I have moved up the deadline to black Friday of 2011 (the last Friday in November) in time for the holiday season. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: the paranormal market is almost as dead as chick-lit. Overwritten and overwrought with mostly awful, pathetic stories with no plot but plenty of reason to throw a vampire, werewolf, necromancer, fairy, whatever the f*ck into the mix. 

There are some gems out there. 

I can't speak for the mainstream YA paranormal authors because I don't read paranormal YA (a bit too long in the tooth) and my oldest daughter isn't old enough for YA yet. I don't think I want her reading about vampires though, even when she is old enough for YA. To me, that is strictly an adult genre and the equivalent of having YA erotica. It just doesn't make much sense.

As I have told my fellow readers, my series is strictly for adults only and Death Wish: Book I is writing like a dream. It is one of those novels which just flows easily because it is a story that was meant to be told and I am supposed to tell it. Yes, my dears, I know you are all waiting with breath that is baited but you'll have to wait a bit more longer. Quality cannot be rushed as we all know. 

In the meantime, I can recommend Kissed By Darkness (The Sunwalker Saga) by Shea MacLeod and Blood Skies by Steven Montano. Both are available on Amazon and Smashwords. I have to admit I haven't read Blood Skies yet as I don't want to steal any ideas to use in Death Wish (I have read Kissed By Darkness and although my novel was to remain humor free, there is humor in it, damn you Shea!). As a matter of fact, at the moment, I am only reading thrillers as I can't read paranormal and write it at the same time (even if mine is more a mixture of paranormal, urban fantasy and science fiction).

I am currently reading The Righteous by Michael Wallace (a very engrossing book but it wouldn't have been an Amazon best seller if it wasn't); next up on my list: Her Book of Shadows by fellow indie author and friend, Larry D. Marshall.


♥ Braja said...

Dani, hi....what a great thing to find you. I was searching for leads on how the heck to format my book for an e-book, and to self-publish on Amazon, and I found your site. Can I do the 20 question routine on you? :)) Well ok, 5 questions :) It might be that you have links on your site that answer the questions...pls lead me to them....

1. Help with formatting the book for e-book; I simply canNOT get it to work...!
2. Who designed your covers?
3. I have an agent, but some of my stuff is outside of that; do you have an agent, or are you "self" all the way?
4. I think that's it :))

♥ Braja said...

Actually one more: I wanted to send my book to an e-format expert; if you know one, pls direct me....much appreciated....

Unknown said...

Hello Braja, I would love to answer all your comments. Send me a quick email at vegasgyrl007@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with some answers. This being a public forum and all, I don't want to give all my secrets away! ;-)

Unknown said...

Braja, since I haven't heard from you again, I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.
1) Formatting is a learning process and I have mastered it (more or less). If you need help, just email me and I can explain further.
2) I designed the covers myself though I used a website (iStockPhotos is good) to actually buy the stock photos. I am in the process of having all my covers redesigned and my good friend, Tom is designing them. Here is his website and email address(he offers competitive rates and designs from the ground up): http://www.mad-gods.com//mad-gods@videotron.ca. Let him know Danielle sent you. ;-)
3) Nope, no agent for me but I have nothing against authors who do go that path. My editor, Jessica, is a published author so what ever works. I am one who firmly believes there is a role for established authors and one for indie writers: we can co-exist. ;-)
4) I will be happy to format your book for you. Email me if you have any additional questions or concerns. ;-)