Category Archives: Publishing

Why Conversational Writing is the Hot Trend

 

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For the past number of years, I’ve seen commercial writing shift from third person point of view to first person. At first, I couldn’t stand first person. It seemed somehow less than third. Perhaps this was because in some ways first person is more limiting than third person.

Third person point of view allows readers to see more of the world. They’re not trapped in one person’s mind. However, first person allows for an in-depth view of that individual. Plus, readers get to experience every facet of that individual’s personality.

Riding along with first person point of view was a more conversational tone. The writing was less formal; instead opting for writing that sounded the way people would speak. This meant stretching or breaking some grammar rules, which for a person who spent much of school studying Romanticism and learning about various style guides from APA and AMA to MLA was more than an irritation. This breaking of the rules would chuck me headfirst out of a book.

But, somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy the more conversational writing style. I discovered that I enjoyed breaking the rules—if there was a specific, vital reason—on occasion in my writing.

I found that conversational writing has some enormous advantages.

  • It’s easier to comprehend. While I’ve read and enjoyed many dense and literary books, I often find I develop a headache while reading them. My mind has to constantly work to understand the subtle messages buried in layers beneath the overt descriptions and statements. A conversational writing style foregoes this. Instead, it conveys the message directly to readers. Readers are able to more readily enjoy the book, and in today’s world, where fast reads are popular, conversational style is key.
  • It creates an instant relationship with readers. Since conversational writing often occurs with first person, readers feel like the protagonist is talking directly to them. They feel that they can relate to the protagonist as an actual person. With so many people stating that they read to escape reality, being able to relate quickly to a character is vital in drawing readers into a story. Plus, readers are much less likely to put down a book, if they feel they share commonalities with the protagonist.
  • Readers see it as more credible. A conversational style is almost like the protagonist is talking to a close friend. The protagonist is confiding all her thoughts and emotions to readers. Oftentimes, what the protagonist thinks is also what readers see on paper. Readers become an integral part of the story. They’re connected through the protagonist’s natural, authentic voice.

One of the best ways to create a conversational writing style is to speak aloud what you’re writing. If the words feel awkward on your tongue, then they’re going to be even more blatant on paper. However, one word of caution is to watch out for being too conversational. Many times in conversation people jump around from topic to topic. We’d probably all experienced having a conversation with a friend, where we’d talked for an hour or so, and then have no idea how we got onto the topic we finished the conversation with.

In writing, there has to be a clear line connecting bits of conversation. When readers become confused, they’re pulled out the story. Each time a person is jolted from the story, she is likely to put the book down, instead of continuing reading.

What are your thoughts on conversational writing?

(Photo courtesy of aj-clicks.)

Why Writing for Yourself Isn’t Always the Answer

When I began writing, I couldn’t decide whether to write for the audience or myself. Writing for myself meant exploring content that was important to me. I believed that by writing for myself I would create intensely honest and captivating work. By writing this way, I wouldn’t feel like I had to impress anybody. I wouldn’t be hindered by the constraints of genre or age group. As Cyril Connolly said, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

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However, I wanted to get published. And, when you’re trying to get published, it helps to know your audience. It helps to write for your audience.

I’m not saying to give up your unique voice, writing style, interests, etc. All those are important in creating a compelling piece of work that differentiates itself from what’s already been published. What makes your book unique will be what ultimately gets you a book deal.

But you need to write for someone. Too often, when you write for yourself, the plot, characters…something ends up being inconsistent. You’re too close to the story to realize that there are plot holes or other aspects of your work that weaken it.

At the same time, simply saying that you’re writing for young adults, military personnel, or housewives isn’t enough. Why? Because these are generalizations of people. They’re too vague. Think about housewives. They come in all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Their life experiences differ vastly. Let’s compare two housewives:

Housewife A: Her name is Aubrey. She is 24 years old, was born in Louisiana to a white mother and a black father. Her father died of lung cancer when she was 17 years old. She started college with her long-term boyfriend and was majoring in English—she wanted to be a middle school English teacher—when her mother was in a car accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Aubrey dropped out of school to help her mother recover. Her boyfriend graduated and proposed to Aubrey. They married and Aubrey’s husband moved in with Aubrey and her mother. Aubrey was planning to go back to school, when she found out that she was pregnant. Aubrey is excited to be a mother, but while she loves the idea of being a stay-at-home mom, she hopes to one day go back to college and receive her degree.

Housewife B: Her name is Mary. She is 47 years old, was born in Connecticut to a white mother and father. She grew up wealthy, attended boarding school, and knew that she would be a housewife just like her mother. She graduated college with a degree in sociology, but was more interested in field hockey and her sorority. Those were the girls she’d know for the rest of her life. She ended up marrying her college boyfriend, who came from an equally wealthy family of doctors, who served on hospital boards and had stakes in three hospitals. They both signed prenuptial agreements and their parents bought them their first house, in Connecticut, as an early wedding gift. Mary has three children: two boys, both who play lacrosse at their boarding school, and a girl, who plays field hockey and tennis at her boarding school. Mary loves her life of private clubs, yoga, and martinis with the girls, but she secretly wishes that she had a more exciting sex life.

These housewives are extremely different. If you tried writing for both of them, your work would turn out inconsistent. So, choose one of the housewives to write for.

Whenever you’re writing something, choose a person that you’re writing for. Maybe this person is real or maybe it’s a persona you created. Ask yourself who this person is, what this person wants, why this person want what he wants. Learn about this person well enough that you know him inside and out. Then, write a story for that person. This will help you stay focused and consistent. This will keep readers invested in the reality you created, instead of being ripped out of it by some inconsistency.

When the writing and revisions are completed, you’ll have a piece of work with a firmly identifiable audience, and a work that has a great chance of grabbing an agent or editor’s attention.

(Photo courtesy of victorio marasigan.)

3 Writing Podcasts You Need Right Now

 

2743534799_86bcea8475_oRecently, I’ve started listening to podcasts. Like many other adults, I experience the joy of rush hour traffic. For years, I’d listen to music or radio shows, but the drives felt incredibly long. So, I began listening to podcasts during my commute.

The drives feel a lot shorter.

The first podcast I listened to was TED Radio Hour. This is a podcast everyone should listen to. It’s not writing orientated, but covers an array of research-backed topics that will get you thinking. This podcast will inspire you.

In terms of writing oriented podcasts, I’ve found three that stand out among the rest:

Writing Excuses

This podcast’s episodes are short, fast-paced, and to the point. Hosted by authors, the goal of Writing Excuses is to encourage writers to bring their writing to a whole new level.

The best part of this podcast is that the hosts are relatable. They not only talk about what writers should do, but delve into their personal struggles with writing and how they overcame them.

The Journeyman Writer

In this podcast, the hosts are well organized and to the point. Each lesson deposits a valuable lesson to writers about the ins and outs of story construction. The hosts do this in easy-to-manage portions, while showcasing their passion for writing and their desire to help other writers succeed.

Prepare to remember what’s essential to storytelling and to know how to wriggle your way out of any story dead-end.

I Should Be Writing

This award-winning podcast is all about helping writers become better, and transition into the professional world of writing. The host started out as an unpublished writer and become a pro. One of the best aspects of this show is how the host focuses on the emotional roller coasters and roadblocks every writer faces, while trying to make it to the big leagues.

Take a listen to the host’s own fears and failures with writing in the episode Crippling Fear. You may find yourself nodding along.

(Photo courtesy of Patrick Breitenbach.)

 

Why Did You Become a Writer?

4549909730_a513381ed7_oRecently, someone asked me why I became a writer. When I went to answer, I found myself stumped. It wasn’t because I didn’t know why I was a writer. Writing is part of my identity. It’s part of who I am. But, trying to find a way to articulate this to a non-writer caught me off guard.

I’ve had more than one experience where I told someone I was a writer, and they’d respond by asking me what I’d published. Today, I can point to research papers, online articles for various companies, and a literary journal. However, even with those publications, many non-writers aren’t all that impressed with my writing record. This is even more apparent when they find out that though I’m a fiction writer, I don’t yet have a published novel.

I’ve even had family members—these members are in the minority—who tell me that they still have dreams too, but they say that as if dreams never do come true. It can make me feel like I’m a little kid, who’s getting a pat on the head by a chuckling parent.

I think of all those authors out there, who many would have never believed would become famous writers.

Stephen King has published over fifty novels, including Carrie, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep. King is world famous. But before he got published, he was a high school janitor. Who would have imagined that a janitor would get to where King is now?

John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and more, was working on becoming a minister. It was during his time serving as a children’s hospital chaplain that he was inspired to write The Fault in Our Stars.

Nicholas Sparks, author of the renowned bestseller, The Notebook, as well as numerous other novels, worked various small jobs before he became a famous author. One of those jobs was cold-calling people to sell them dental products.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, went from being depressed and on welfare to one of the richest people in the world in five years.

There are so many more examples out there. When I think of these authors, the question of why I became a writer is all the more clear. I was always a writer. I wrote skits and plays in elementary school, attempted my first book in middle school, and wrote my first novel in high school. Were these early attempts good? No. But I’ve kept at it, taking courses, reading, and getting a master’s in writing.

I can’t imagine my life without writing. Story ideas and characters bombard me; I have to write about these fictional people and worlds. I hope to one day be published, and I’m not going to give up…I will get published.

But regardless of being published or not, I’m a writer because I can’t live without it. I can’t image living without telling about the worlds and characters that won’t let me sleep at night, that make me not realize the red light has changed to green, or that have me space out mid-conversation.

When someone asks me why I became a writer, I say that I didn’t become a writer. I’ve always been one.

Why are you a writer?

(photo courtesy of Dave Morrison Photography.)

 

The Dreaded Query Letter

9492597487_3dc77c1d94_bQuery letters. If you’re familiar with query letters, you probably cringe at the thought of writing one. The query letter is a no-more-than one page document that writers send to literary agents, in an attempt to grab an agent’s interest.

In essence, a query letter distills an 80,000-some word novel into its barest components. The query isn’t even a full synopsis! And with agents being swamped with query letters, making yours stand out is a challenge.

That’s why some individuals decide to write their query letters in first person, especially if their novels are first person, rather than third person. Third person queries are recommended.

Yes, the protagonist’s personality comes across easier in first person point of view. When you’ve got such a limited amount of space to grab a person’s interest, you really want personality to come across. However, first person point of view in a query letter is not something you want to be doing.

Why?

Because first person query letters lead to confusion. Is your query a memoir? Are you threating the agent? Are you insane?

Agents read so many queries that they will not take the time to figure out whether your novel is a fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, etc. Your query will be deleted the second an agent is unclear with what’s going on.

Here’s a great article explaining why first person queries are a big, fat NO: The First-Person Query Letter.

(Photo courtesy of Freaktography.)

“Orphan Train” Book Review

Molly never expected to find any commonalities between her foster-child self and the ninety-one year old Vivian living in a mansion in Maine, but when Molly must complete community service or go to juvenile prison, she ends up helping Vivian clean out her attic. Except, what she discovers up there ties the two women together in a way neither of them could have imagined.5026748369_8700f4a169_b

Orphan Train covers a piece of history that very few people know about – a piece of history that is beyond unnerving, where orphans from overcrowded Eastern United States cities were packed onto trains and delivered to the rural Midwest. Families selected these orphans to take home with them. Some were lucky; they were adopted into loving homes. Most were not.

If you weren’t an infant, chances were you ended up as a farm hand, a servant- a child laborer. No adoption. No love. Only a means to an end.

This novel transitions between the modern day (2011) and the later 1920s to 1930s/early 40s. Readers learn about Molly’s life as a foster child, while also reading about Vivian’s childhood as an orphan train rider. As the story progresses, it becomes clearer and clearer how similar Molly and Vivian are, not only with their stories, but also with their personalities.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I thought Vivian’s storyline was much stronger than Molly’s. After reading the acknowledgements, I understand why. The author, Christine Baker Kline, did a lot of research into the orphan trains, even interviewing surviving members. However, it seems that she didn’t do the same level of research for the foster system, and that Molly was more of a vehicle for Vivian’s storyline than anything else.

Despite this issue, I found myself drawn into the story, and after I finished the novel, I researched orphan trains. I’m astonished that orphan trains aren’t mentioned as part of U.S. History, but as occurs most often with history, only bits and pieces of the truth are stitched together to give the appearance of a whole picture.

Orphan Train is worth reading, even if to only familiarize oneself with one of the darker aspects of American History.

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Keith.)

Why You Write

 

I’ve always been interested in why people write. Words have the power to transport people away from the mundane. But that power takes work – a lot of work. Work that is hard, strenuous, and time-consuming. So, why do writers persist?

Ernest Hemingway said, “From things that had happened and from things as they exist and 8670899788_9760142056_zfrom all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of.”

Author of The House At The End Of The Road, Ralph Eubanks, stated, “There’s something both emotionally satisfying about it [writing], and something that is very physically satisfying when you finally see your work when it comes out in a finished book, or when you see the pages at the end of the day.”

Lord Byron said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

14519245613_ff8909e294_zWilliam Faulkner stated, “The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed, so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist’s way of scribbling ‘Kilroy was here’ on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.”

Cynthia MacGregor, author of Everybody Loves Bacon, said “It’s who I am. It’s what I love. I even write for fun on top of writing for a living. I couldn’t NOT write. I need to write like I need to breathe, to eat, it’s vital to me.”

Georges Simenon stated, “I think that if a man has the urge to be an artist, it is because he needs to find himself. Every writer has to find himself through his characters, through all his writing.”15413112213_f50271ca5d_z

Author of Band Fags!, Frank Anthony Polito, said, “I write because there is nothing else I can do – well. For many years I was an actor.”

Joan Didion stated, “In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want…but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is a tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.”

Didion also said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

Anne Rice stated, “Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.”453831774_06c67eb3aa_z

She also said, “I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.”

Gloria Steinem stated, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

Neil Gaiman said, “The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising…and it’s magic and wonder and strange.”

I write for so many reasons; it’s a mishmash of the quotes listed above. But in my own words, I write the stories in my head that won’t leave me alone. They’re ever-present, and will only quiet once they’re down on paper and satisfied with the way they’re written.

Why do you write?

(Photos courtesy of Thomas Hawk, Visit Mississippi, MaxGag, and Stephen.)

The Book Landfills

517900257_2515938cd4_bYou’ve probably heard someone say that reading is on the decline. Kids aren’t reading like they used to. Neither are adults. Because of this, the literary industry has suffered. Though their monetary losses can be large (and are usually made up for by their bestsellers, think Harry Potter series), the worse impact is on people.

Reading expands the mind. You imagine the world that a piece of literature presents. You extrapolate from that world. Your brain is active when you read. It’s passive when watching TV, which is one of the major reasons for the reduction in reading.

In Reading at Risk, results from a 17,000 individual Survey of Public Participation in the Arts were presented. As a meaningful activity, reading has decreased, especially among young people. Amidst television, Netflix, and all of social media, literature is increasingly taking a backseat.

I’m not a technophobe. I’m a Netflix binge-watching fiend, and I tend to check Facebook once a day. I realize these activities impede on my reading. I have multiple piles of books I’ve yet to read, and while I normally polish off a book a week, this last novel has taken me about a month. Trying to watch all of “Scrubs” before it was booted from Netflix played a part. (At least most of my time watching “Scrubs” was on my spin bike.)

However, as a typically avid reader and as a writer, I find it unsettling how much literature has faded. Without literature it’s much easier to remain ignorant, and with ignorance comes a repetition of mistakes, a lack of imagination and innovation, and less understanding of the world, including other cultures and organisms.

From the survey, there were ten key findings:

  1. “The Percentage of adult Americans reading literature has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years.”

Nowadays, less than half of American adults read.

  1. “The decline in literary reading parallels a decline in total book reading.”

For this point, literary writing is separated from more commercial books. Both literary books and commercial novels are being read less, however literary books rate of reading are decreasing more rapidly than commercial novels.

  1. “The rate of decline in literary reading is accelerating.”

More people are reading less at a faster rate than twenty years ago.

  1. “Women read more literature than men do, but literary reading by both groups is declining at significant rates.”

While many people would love to blame the education system on the declining literary reading rate, it’s more accurate to blame people themselves. Individuals used to read James Joyce, Henry David Thoreau, and William Faulkner for pleasure. In today’s world, the number of people who recognize those names is diminishing. Added to that, an increasing number of light and shallow commercial novels are being written. There’s a misconception, or perhaps it’s no longer a misconception, that peoples’ attention spans are too short for the deeper meaning novels, those books that give you a headache as you attempt to comprehend them. People want a fast read.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics.”

The decrease in literature does not discriminate.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among all education levels.”

Though those who are more educated read more than those who are less educated, the reading rate is diminishing across the board.

  1. “Literary reading is declining among all age groups.”

From ages eighteen to over seventy-five, again there’s no discrimination.

I have to wonder how adults reading less effect children. Parents have the responsibility to teach their kids how to read. If parents spend little or no time reading, how can they instill the necessity of reading in their children?

  1. “The steepest decline in literary reading is in the youngest age groups.”

Young adults went from reading the most literature to reading the least.

  1. “The decline in literary reading foreshadows an erosion in cultural and civic participation.”

People who read are more likely to be involved in charity, sports, politics, and art.

  1. “The decline in reading correlates with increased participation in a variety of electronic media, including the Internet, video games, and portable digital devices.”

Having so many alternatives, shifts peoples’ attentions away from reading. Just like with trying to get published, having so much noise out there makes it difficult for people to focus on any one thing.

Based on these findings, it’s easy to see a dismal future. If the rapid rate of reading decline continues, reading as a pastime may vanish. However, despite these findings, I have hope for the literary world. More people are receiving some sort of postsecondary education than in the past, and unlike the fades of social media, books tend to last. Maybe not the newest novel in a twenty-some book detective series, but the great books. Plus, anytime a bestseller rises among the flood of literature, people begin to read more.

Most importantly, the future is unpredictable. We can try to figure out what’s going to happen down the line, but ultimately, we don’t know until we get there. Who knows? Maybe reading will make a massive comeback.

What do you think about the decline in reading?

(Photo courtesy of Patrick Correia.)

Getting Noticed In a World Flooded With Voices

Something I find interesting is how many times I hear agents and editors talking about wanting a story that is unique. They’re not looking for the same old same old. They want something new, the next big thing.

This is intriguing because of how often I see the opposite being true. I’m sure you know at least one book that seems to be the carbon copy of another book, or movie, or TV show, or newspaper article…you get what I’m saying. Off the top of my head, both Obsidian and Fifty Shades of Grey appear to be rip offs of Twilight. Think of all the books that followed The Hunger Games: Divergent, Matched, The Maze Runner, Red Queen, and more. Heck, a number of people even say that The Hunger Games was a rip off of Battle Royale.3876549126_2584d97157_z

However, despite the above examples, writers still need to be individuals. The market is over-saturated with books just like other books, and if you are trying to mimic another book solely in the hopes of also being a bestseller, then your character’s voice won’t be authentic.

Also, in a world inundated with people who all believe that they can be bestselling authors, you need to stand out, and be different in a good way. (Don’t query agents saying that your novel is the next bestseller. Don’t tell agents that God told you to query them. Don’t mass query agents with the salutation of “To whom it may concern.” Hint: agents actively look for reasons not to read your query, writing sample, etc. They have too much to do and too little time to deal with all the work they already have.)

How do you stand out among the myriad of voices?

I’d like to say that if you write an extraordinary novel and query letter, you’ll get published. But that’s not always, or even usually, the case. Think of all the books you’ve read where you can’t understand why they were published, or how many times you’ve gotten a positive query letter rejection. (Two examples from me are (1) that my query was fantastically written, but that the agent is currently not taking on any more YA authors, and (2) the agent enjoyed my novel, but my book was too contemporary for the present market (funnily enough, a year later, John Green became extraordinarily popular with his novel The Fault in Our Stars, and the YA market was flooded with books about overly intelligent kids with cancer.))

Most times an agent selects a novel based on how well that agent clicks with the book. Using John Green as an example again, I am not a fan of his writing style, however my cousin and all her friends were aghast when they discovered I didn’t read his novels. Whether you like something is completely subjective, no matter how much you may pretend you’re being utterly objective.

So, what can you do?

  1. Focus on your voice. It can be easy to get lost in studying other authors’ works, especially if they sold well. But this won’t help you in the long run, because you need to develop your voice. If you can’t recognize your writing style, it will show in your writing.
  2. Allow others to help you. Look for contacts within the writing community. You never know if a friend of a friend is the brother of a top-tier literary agent. Also, let others read your writing. Let them give you feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, a favor, or to offer to take your professor out to dinner if she critiques your writing past what was required for class.
  3. Get involved in the community. Similar to above, surround yourself with people who know the writing world. You’ll learn what to do much faster if you’re around people who already know what to do.
  4. Do the writing. This is a lot easier said than done. After having spent years in the writing community, even getting a MA in Writing, I know how much work crafting a story is. However, I know several people who casually say they’re going to write a novel and get it published. It’s difficult for me to not roll my eyes because they are either not serious about writing anything, have no clue what goes into writing, or are disillusioned about the writing world. (It astonishes me how many people don’t realize how much work goes into completing a well-written novel.)

One of the biggest aspects of writing to consider, and this may be part of the reason why so many poorly written novels not only get published but become best sellers, is that readers are able to empathize with the characters. A professor once told me that if you don’t experience any emotions while writing, then readers won’t when reading your work.

Lastly, results take time. Often in the literary world, results take years. Those stories you hear about how a writer got an agent after one week of querying or how a writer got a six-figure deal on a first novel are heard about for a reason. They rarely happen. So, be patient, work hard, develop your individual voice, and don’t give up.

How do you try to get your work noticed?

(Photo courtesy of Amy West.)

Thinking About Self-Publishing? Here’s A Quick Reality Check.

Self-publishing seems to be all the hype right now. Whether you first try to get an agent or go straight to publishers and are unable to get their attention, or decide to skip attempting the traditional route altogether, you’re looking into self-publishing.

It seems like a good deal. You don’t have to mess with any of the middle men, who take the majority of the money your novel makes. You have the freedom to choose how you want to represent your work. You even get to select what you want your book cover to look like.3407402643_7d11d2717f_z

You’ve heard the success stories:

  • Andy Weir’s The Martian was originally self-published in 2011. It’s now been re-released through Crown Publishing, a subsidiary of Random House, and was made into a movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James was not only first self-published, but also was based on fan fiction. The rights for this novel were obtained by Vintage Books, a subdivision of Random House, in 2012. Selling over 125 million copies, this book was made into a movie that earned over $571 million worldwide.
  • Mark Dawson’s self-published John Milton series has sold over 300,000 copies. And while that in itself is impressive, Amazon pays for Mark to speak at seminars and workshops, sort of like their poster boy for the self-publishing world. To learn more about Mark’s success story, click here: “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” 
  • Amanda Hocking self-published out of a need to make some desperately needed money. Over a period of about 20 months, Amanda sold 1.5 million books and made more than $2 million. To learn more about her story, click here: “Amanda Hocking, the writer who made millions by self-publishing online.” 

What you don’t hear so often are the hundreds of thousands of people who self-publish in the hopes of making enough money to quit their day jobs and end up not finding success.

Talking Writing’s article “Three Money Lessons For Starry-Eyed Authors” discusses the truth of self-publishing.

In this article, three lessons are addressed:

  1. “There’s Way Too Much Competition”
    1. It’s really easy to self-publish. Therefore, everyone and their grandma feel like giving it a try. On one hand, it’s great that people have the freedom to see their work published. On the other hand, most times the work wasn’t ready to be published, or in some cases, should have never seen the light of day. (I’ve seen multiple self-published novels that have misspelled titles.) It’s this other hand that causes a lot of problems because (1) your work gets lost in the noise and (2) a stigma forms about self-publishing.
  2. “Literary Fiction Is Still the Ugly Cousin”
    1. Literary fiction, as opposed to genre fiction, has never been all that great at selling books in the traditional publishing world. Literary fiction sells even worse in self-publishing.
  3. “You Can Drive Yourself Insane Tracking Sales”
    1. Having the ability to check real-time sales is both a blessing and a curse. When your book is selling well, you get a positive boost every time you check your sales statistics. However, when your book isn’t selling, the real-time sales can become a black hole that takes over your life.

These three challenges aren’t meant to deter you, if you’re interested in self-published. They’re here to show you that you most likely won’t get rich quick with self-publishing and that self-publishing involves a lot of work (potentially more work than traditional publishing because you are responsible for doing and paying for everything). But, like with everything, self-publishing presents opportunity, and with opportunity, there’s always a chance of phenomenal success.

Have you ever self-published or been interested in self-publishing?

(Photo courtesy of khrawlings.)