This month, Amazon is celebrating self-published authors with their #PoweredByIndie campaign.

I wanted to share a little about why I decided to go the self-publishing route and what I’ve learned from my journey so far.

I first heard about Amazon’s self-publishing capabilities in about 2009 before many people were doing it. I had an idea in my head for a book, but I couldn’t bring myself to work on it, let alone finish it. On one hand, I kind of wished I had just to be one of the first. On the other hand, I learned so much in the years following that I’m sure my first attempt would’ve been a complete mess had I done it back then.

Finally in January of 2015, with the push of the NaNoWriMo challenge, I was ready to publish my first book. I toyed with the idea of submitting to literary agents in an effort to be traditionally published, but I ended up going it on my own for some of the following reasons:

  • I’m incredibly impatient, and I wanted to see the results of my hard work as soon as possible.
  • At the time, I felt I had a good idea of who my audience was and how to reach them. (I was only half right.)
  • I felt I had enough varied talents and knew enough talented people to make a professional-looking book.
  • It just sounded like fun to have my hands in every aspect of the book creation.

Full disclosure, I did submit my children’s fantasy novel to a few agents, and I probably should’ve submitted to a few hundred more. Instead, I backed off and experimented with publishing it under a pen name to differentiate it from my very different other series of books.

So what have I learned in the couple years I’ve spent book publishing?

  • It absolutely is fun having full control of every aspect of the book creation process.
  • Although the writing part is a solitary task, it takes a village to publish a good book. If you can do it all on your own, you’re far more talented than I. Get more than one set of eyes on your book before it’s published! Excessive typos and weird formatting are distracting for readers, and a professional-looking cover will draw more eyes after it’s published.
  • It helps to surround yourself with fellow writers to give and receive support, advice, and motivation. I tend to do my best work during write-ins (usually the coffee ones as opposed to the wine ones).
  • Marketing is endlessly hard, and I may just have to pay someone to help me with that…anyone?

At this point, I’ve published four books and a short story with more to come! Need an editor? I can do that, too!

Be sure support the indies by checking the featured books on the #PoweredByIndie landing page!

I Can Edit That for You

DSC_0255I’ve been slacking on my writing duties for the last, oh, few months. I still have an almost-finished manuscript that needs a couple more scenes added and a final proofreading pass before I can call it publishable.

What have I been doing in the meantime? Editing. Technical editing has been my career for the past 6 years, and I have loved it. I just can’t stay away, so I decided to try my hand at starting my own editing business.

Now I want to get my hands on your writing.

Check out my Editing Services page for more details.

My Favorite Part of the UW Writers’ Institute

As I mentioned yesterday, I attended UW-Madison’s Annual Writers’ Institute for the second year in a row this weekend. (Here’s what I learned last year.)

My favorite part of this writing conference is, of course, being in a room with so many like-minded people. Aside from that, I’d have to say the most valuable and beneficial part for me was the advanced manuscript critique, where you submit ten pages ahead of time and have them critiqued by an expert. Then, you have a half hour meeting with that person where they give you their feedback, and you can ask questions of them.

Last year, I had my critique with Rebecca Williams Spindler, who I ran into and got to connect with again this year. She’s got a lot of exciting things going on in her career, and I’m excited I may be able to be part of some of them! Rebecca also pointed me in the direction of a successful author she knows who writes rock star books like mine, Angie Stanton. So now of course I want to read ALL her stuff.

This year’s critique was with nonfiction author and educator Julie Tallard Johnson. Since she specializes in nonfiction, I wasn’t sure how the fit would be, but she really understood what I was going for and was excited about it! I gave her the first ten pages of my next project, The Worst Matchmaker in the World.

What I did well:

Your title made me laugh and drew me in. Then you start with the one line “shy girl…” and I am hooked. Your use of dialogue is very good. You have more than a great start and premise. Keep writing.

What I need to work on:

Remember that the reader is new to all this information, story and characters. So include any descriptions or details that will give depth to the scene, the story and the characters. You do hint of disaster with the title but I want more tension to start with.

If you want to read the full ten pages I submitted as a preview to my next series, I’ll be sending that out to my mailing list next week. So sign up! I’ll also share six things I learned at the conference and give you a free copy of my first book, Front Row!

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me – UW Writers’ Institute Keynote

I just finished listening to another great keynote speech at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute. Dan Blank delivered an insightful and actionable speech via Skype yesterday on how to find an audience; and today, Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke on what she wished people would’ve told her about writing.

Here are my seven takeaways from her engaging and encouraging speech:

  1. You can learn from experience, but it doesn’t have to be your experience.
  2. There is no secret magic way to write a book. (Sorry.)
  3. Learn to love being alone, but also be sure to get out. You write alone, but you are not alone. Watch people, even at the grocery store, and use what you see for good characterization. Go out and meet other writers.
  4. Good editors are trying to make you a better you. (As an editor, I resonated with that one.)
  5. Your subconscious will lead you. Listen to your inner voice. If something feels wrong in your story, change it.
  6. There’s plenty of room for everyone to succeed. Be happy for your fellow writers.
  7. No matter what happens after typing The End, I followed my dream. (I teared up at that one. So, so true.)

And a bonus:

“You will if you want to.”

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll share what my favorite part of the conference was!

To read about my experience at the conference and more, you can sign up for my newsletter! I’ll share six things I learned during the panels and give you a free copy of my first book, Front Row!