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Six Common Author Myths Busted

It was sweet how many non-writers I talked to called me a “famous author” after hearing about my award win, which is what sparked this blog post. If anyone was ever curious what being an author is all about, hopefully this might answer some of your questions. For those of you who do write, I bet you can identify with some of this! Let’s get to mythbusting!

MYTH 1: Awards make you rich and famous.

FACT: Probably not. What awards do is give you clout with readers and potential collaborators. I just heard a great explanation of this on The Book Marketing Show podcast. In my experience, if you’re present to receive your award, you may find yourself in the same room with some influential people. Then you just have to know how to approach them, which I talked about how not to do in my last post. If you’re looking to find an agent, having an award to list as the first line of your query can only help you.

MYTH 2: Self-publishing isn’t as legit as traditional.

FACT: I understand how this myth came to be, and I can’t blame people for thinking this. With self-publishing, it IS possible to throw up any old thing on Amazon. But since its inception, self-publishing has gotten a lot more competitive, and quality matters. Not only that, if you know where to look, you’ll find stories of indie authors all over the place who’ve been able to leave their day jobs. It’s just a matter of how you define success. At this point, self-publishing is not a last resort for people. It’s an entrepreneurial choice. If you want an agent and a traditional publishing deal, I will root for you every step of the way! I promise! For me, I’m doing this right now.

MYTH 3: Published authors are rich.

FACT: See above myths.

MYTH 4: All writers are poor.

FACT: See above myths. Many established “authorpreneurs” may also tell you that it couldn’t hurt to diversify your offerings. To give credit where its due, I’ve heard this most recently from Joanna Penn and J. Thorn. Don’t put your eggs in one basket, etc. Find something else you’re good at and offer that as a service, too, because sales are not going to be consistent every month, even if you are raking them in. Or, you know? Don’t quit your day job. There’s no shame in that. I personally like my day job.

MYTH 5: Authors have more time than other people. “I always wanted to write a book, but…”

FACT: Lulz. We all could be doing something else with our time. I admit, I consider myself lazy when it comes to writing. Here’s what I SHOULD be doing: setting my alarm for 4:30 every morning and putting in an hour of work before I hop into the shower. Here’s what I actually do: write occasionally on nights and weekends. You’re never going to find the time. Netflix will win every dang time. You have to make the time. And again, I need to take my own advice too if I ever want to publish faster.

MYTH 6: Indie publishers do EVERYTHING. Alternatively, traditionally published authors just get to write while the publisher takes care of the rest.

FACT: If you’re doing it right, the first point is definitely false. I can’t speak to the second point, but I’ve heard that publishers expect their authors to do much of their own marketing these days. As far as indies go, it’s likely you’re not good at EVERYTHING. At the very least, you’ll need someone to proofread your work. Trust me, I’m an editor (once an editor, always an editor). Most people will also hire professional editors and cover designers. Other things can also be outsourced, like formatting and book descriptions. The goal for me was always to put out a product indistinguishable from the big publishing houses’ products. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, but that’s my goal.

What other author myths have you heard?

That One Time I Had Drinks with a Hollywood Producer

Almost Famous
From the movie ALMOST FAMOUS. Completely unrelated to the story I’m about to tell.

These are my favorite kinds of stories to hear and tell.

I’d like to think that I keep my blog relatively profesh, but there’s also the matter of writing in “my voice.” And if you’ve read Front Row, girls doing crazy stuff is definitely my voice.

There are moments in my life when I stop and think, “Is this really happening?” I actually pause and smile giddily to myself when no one’s looking because this is actually happening. Like the time I got to spend time on a band’s tour bus. Or the time I was in Hanson’s music video. This was one of those times.

I was just coming down from the high of my Chanticleer wins, so my night was already made. I wasn’t in the mindset of making professional connections–I was in the mindset of celebrating with fellow writers and industry folk. I loved life and everyone around me, and I was so excited about the couple connections I had made so far.

So when my big-deal writer friend offered me some of the whiskey she snuck in, I indulged even though I don’t actually like whiskey. It was kinda good! Then, I joined her and a bunch of other people at the awards banquet after party, where her friend, who happened to be a Hollywood producer, plopped down his credit card on the bar and offered to buy a round. I timidly slid in my order after a couple other people had, not believing that he was actually buying for me too.

My friend encouraged me to brag about my books, and she got him to give me his business card, but like I said, I wasn’t in networking mode. I was ill-prepared to sell myself. I’m sure I babbled something about…something. I chatted with my friend and people I had seen speak throughout the weekend–I was one of the cool kids! No way! I was fooling them all, haha.

I even fangirled to one of the women whose session I really enjoyed. She did not seem terribly impressed. No hard feelings. It had been a long day, and she was there to have fun too.

Eventually my friend drifted off for a bit to mingle, and the Hollywood producer and I stayed at the bar. Because what the heck else was I going to do? I was way out of my league here. Sure, a better woman could’ve faked it till she made it; and in retrospect, I kind of wished I tried harder, but I was just having a blast being a part of it all. I’m a mom. I don’t get out much anymore, mmkay?

Anyway, at one point, he asked me to tell him something real. I knew it was a test–I just knew it. So I told him something real–something only a few people know. I’m not sure if I passed the test.

That’s about all I remember for the highlights, or at least all I can talk about. All in all, although I didn’t make any professional connections that night necessarily, it was everything I wanted in a bar outing. I laughed, I had deep and tispy conversations, and I didn’t pay for any of my drinks myself. No complaints here.

I guess if there was a lesson to learn from this, it would be to always be prepared with an elevator pitch. And something real.

Until my next big adventure, whatever that may be.

Gif from Almost Famous
Or so I tell myself

Conferences and Training and Book Fairs, Oh My!

Me in traditional Floweranthan attire at the Lakefly Writers Conference – does that look like someone who could take apart an engine??

Usually I write a recap of every writers’ conference I go to, and I was originally planning to do that for the Lakefly one I attended in Oshkosh this month. I was tired when I got to the conference, and I was beyond exhausted when I left. But it was so worth it. I made a few good connections, and everyone there was so nice and pleasant. And, AND, I sold more books than I ever have at an event like that. Plus, it was very affordable compared to what I’ve paid for other conferences.

For a quick summary, I will say it was a conference that uniquely specialized in genre fiction, from what I observed. There were sessions tailored to fantasy, historical, and mystery/thriller, among others. Seeing as I don’t write much genre fiction, there wasn’t a ton there for me; but for people who do, it’s definitely something to look into. To get a better idea of the vibe, you may just want to watch the Facebook Live video below that I did from my table.

Continue reading Conferences and Training and Book Fairs, Oh My!

The Truth about Self-Doubt and 10 Ways to Beat It

A lot of times, people like to show only their good sides on the Internet. Posting on Facebook about the cute thing their kid or dog did, lightly bragging about new life events, or showing the greatest new recipe they made, even though the previous night was mac ‘n cheese from a box. I do it too, and I know for my family following along from afar, they like to see I’m doing well, and they like seeing pictures of my cute kids. It’s all good.

But regardless of your role or however shiny life appears, there’s always a degree of self-doubt, isn’t there? It comes on strong if you’re a parent. EVERYONE has an opinion. And at work, there’s always the question of why didn’t I get that promotion yet? Am I not doing everything that I could be? Or is my manager not seeing it?

I follow a lot of fashion blogs, and those beautiful women all seem to have a post somewhere about how to avoid comparisons and beat self-doubt when someone else is getting more sponsorships or more Instagram likes, etc. It’s a competitive world out there. Even when we’re all on the same team. And I do believe that all authors are on the same team.

So as an author, here’s my post like that. Hopefully it helps someone, even if it’s just a self-serving pep talk in the end.

Continue reading The Truth about Self-Doubt and 10 Ways to Beat It

Chanticleer Awards Banquet 2018 Recap #CAC18

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There are moments in my life that I wish I could relive time and time again on demand, and two moments from the awards banquet fall into that category for me. I’m sure you can guess which two moments if you saw any of my social media posts lately.

The banquet started with a cocktail hour and buffet dinner although I didn’t have much of an appetite. My husband and I gorged ourselves on Buffalo Wild Wings the night before, so when we saw chicken again, we inwardly groaned and ended up filling our plates with mostly sides. I must say though, it was good chicken, the little bit I had.

Then, Kiffer Brown, founder of Chanticleer Book Reviews, congratulated all the shortlisters present and explained the high-level process of how the winners are chosen.

The judging panel comprises top authors, editors, and other industry professionals who lend their time to finding new and promising works of both fiction and nonfiction. Among a pool of thousands of international applicants, each of the 16 genres is whittled down to around 20 finalists each (more for some genres, less for others). From there, a first place winner is declared for each of the 6 categories within a genre, and a grand prize genre winner is named from those 6. THEN, an overall grand prize winner for best book of the year is named among all the 16 genre winners.

Continue reading Chanticleer Awards Banquet 2018 Recap #CAC18