7 Truths Writers (Probably) Won’t Admit Out Loud

Highlight the ones that apply to you and go confess your sins afterward.

#1 We stalk our readers on Goodreads to see what their progress updates say

But only because we value and crave feedback. Not because we’re paranoid. Why would we be paranoid?

#2 We don’t write as much as we pretend to

Raise your hand if you’ve tweeted #amwriting when you’ve done nothing of the sort. Good, now put it down and get to work.

#3 We do care about the money

Despite a hundred wise (and obnoxious) sayings to the contrary, most of us want to earn money through our writing, and it’s frustrating when sales are constantly flatlined. Not that I’m trying to be a Scrooge, but “I write because that’s who I am” doesn’t pay many expenses.

#4 We have at least one genre we hold a grudge against, though we’d never say so out loud

For me, it’s paranormal romance (sorry?). For you, it might be fantasy, and I forgive you.

#5 Knowing someone’s reading our book scares the sock monkeys out of us

Because a fraction of our soul is about to be either approved or rejected and if that doesn’t make you break a sweat, I don’t know what will.

#6 We easily get jealous of right-place-right-time authors who pop out of nowhere and make big bucks without visible effort

Is jealousy a fault? Yes. Is it natural? Also yes. But while we applaud the writers who find success through hard work, every now and then it genuinely feels like some people get it all handed to them and then some. (Oh, and is it a coincidence that those out-of-nowhere bestsellers tend to be the mediocre ones? Maybe. I’m trying not to be too salty here.)

#7 We joke about procrastination when it’s actually a legitimate problem

Every time I scroll down my Twitter feed I spot a few tweets making some snarky remark about procrastination. And yes, I do it too. But still…if we did something to solve the issue instead of seeking mutual giggles on social media, perhaps we’d have less to tweet about and more to publish? Oops.


Disclaimer: I wrote the list based on personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt. Got anything to confess or add? Drop a comment below. Subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary bunny in a teacup.

And as always, have a great day!

The 5 Big Mistakes I Made When Self-Publishing My First Book

A lot of people think Where the Woods Grow Wild was my debut novel. It’s actually not, but I’m totally okay treating it as such because my very first self-published novel was a bit (fine, a lot) of a fiasco in its inception. Some of you have read it: Little One, published just about two years ago and republished (with a lot of improvements) a few months later.

I’ve written about this in past posts and random tweets, but I decided to share the five biggest mistakes I made when first self-publishing Little One. Most of them were due to an utter lack of experience, so if you’re building towards your first release, maybe I can save you some trouble.

#1 Not asking for beta readers

News flash: beta readers are amazing. They should be an integral part of your self-pub journey. They’re the first eyes to see your work, and the feedback they provide is ESSENTIAL. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get by without that feedback. I probably don’t have to explain why. Suffice to say that your view of what works and what doesn’t will ALWAYS be limited by your investment in your own manuscript. Solution: ask for beta readers. I didn’t when I self-published Little One, and my story suffered because of it.

(Note: my beta readers for Where the Woods Grow Wild were the best, and I’m still super grateful! I feel like that story is wildly [pun intended] more successful because of them.) 

#2 Relying on self-proofreading

Freelance editors across the globe are already pulling their hair out. So did I when I realized just how many typos I had missed. To be fair, I was a broke senior in college. I couldn’t afford a vanilla coke, much less a professional proofreader. Still, my mistake was thinking that one or two quick proofreads would be enough. No…no. Can you successfully proofread your own work? Possibly, if you give yourself enough time. Do I recommend it? Definitely not. It’s not worth the anxiety of finding another spelling error or wrong word choice post-publication when people have already purchased the book.

#3 Settling for an okay cover

Some of you may remember the original cover for Little One. It was okay, as far as very basic designs go. But it really fell flat when inserted into the hyper-competitive world of Amazon thumbnails. I feel bad saying this because I’d hired an artist friend for that design. She did everything I asked her to (and did it well!), so the mistake was mine for not realizing how much the cover art mattered. Later on, I acquired a new design from a professional (and experienced, importantly) cover artist, but I’ll never be able to make up for that sub-par first impression. Mea culpa. 

#4 Not investing in a physical proof copy

If you’re publishing a print edition through a program like CreateSpace, do yourself a favor and BUY THE PROOF COPY. The shipping expenses are worth it in the long run. When I first self-published, I thought the digital review option was enough. Plot twist: it wasn’t. Not even close. When my first print copies arrived, there were chapter titles on the wrong page, awkward paragraph splits, and other glaring print errors. Some of those copies were for friends, and I had some pretty embarrassing explaining to do. Printer’s fault? Nope. Mine, for not wanting to sacrifice $25 and a few days to revise the physical proof copy.

#5 Rushing everything

I tweeted about this yesterday. Don’t rush. Don’t ever rush. Please, for your own sake, DO THINGS SLOWLY.

I think this point includes (and is the cause of) all the other mistakes I made as well. When I first self-published Little One, I was in a huge hurry. For several reasons. One legit reason was that I needed the project completed for college credit (English major perks). I needed those credits to graduate, so I had a tight deadline. The other reason, however, was a truckload of impatience on my part. I wanted the world to get my first novel, and I wanted them to get it assoonashumanlypossiblerightnowplease. I cut corners. I skipped essential steps. And the result was a mediocre product. Please, don’t make that mistake. Take the time to do things right, even if it means pushing back your intended deadlines. I want your first self-publishing experience to be one you can remember with pride.


I hope this post is of some help for those of you intending on self-publishing (or even if you’ve already got some books under your belt). Now I can look back on the experience and view it as a growth opportunity. My new books are worlds better because of what I learned from those mistakes.

At the same time, I still cringe now and then.


Thanks for stopping by today. I always like interaction, so add to the conversation in the comments or just say hi! Make sure to follow me here and on Twitter to receive your complimentary baby penguin.

In the meantime, have a great day!

Author Interview with Ashley Elliot

Hello, wordmigos! Today I have the pleasure of sitting down* for an interview with splendid indie author Ashley Elliot from Inklings Press.

*To be fair, it’s quite possible she was standing up when she answered my questions. Or doing one-handed pushups with a baby koala on her back. Let’s not make assumptions.

Ashley and I, along with a handful of other indie authors, are doing a giveaway thingy [insert fancy giveaway clicky thingy here] together, and you still have time to go participate for a shot at one of eight free e-books!

It was good fun to ask Ashley some questions about herself and her writing, and she provided some great answers!

(Note: I’ve included some interviewer interjections purely for the sake of clarity.)

N: So, can you tell me a little bit about your writing style? What genre do you tend to work in?

A: My writing style is very seat-of-the-pants, never really planned (I’ve got general ideas and know how it’ll end, but I let the characters tell me where they want to go), and very sporadic. It’s changed from book to book, as I like for all of my characters to have their own voice, but I’m more dialogue-heavy than anything else. My first novel, Becoming Nikki, is very light and airy, whereas my second, The Art of Letting Go, is a lot heavier (and more depressing; sorry). I write young adult fiction, usually coming-of-age, with lots of lessons cleverly hidden inside the pages.

N: What’s been a favorite experience of yours as an indie-author?

A: Once, I got to go to a local authors’ spotlight at a library with a fellow indie author friend and sold exactly one book. I also love it whenever somebody tells me that something I wrote touched them.

N: If you could go back in time and offer one bit of advice to your younger author self, what would you say?

A: Keep writing. Never stop, no matter what people say. Your writing may suck now, but you’re getting better, and it’ll show… eventually. Oh, and write out what your plans are for that novel because you’re going to get old and forget and it’s going to be very sad.

N: What do you think is the hardest part about being an author, whether self-published or traditional?

A: I’d have to say that the hardest part for me personally is knowing that what I’m writing is actually good. I’ve got a lot of self-confidence outside of writing, but I hate showing people what I’ve written because I never think it’s any good. And that seeps into finding motivation to write, which I think is the second-hardest thing. Sometimes I just don’t want to write, and self-confidence can play a major part in that.

N: Can we get a peek at something you’re working on now? Or is it all FBI levels of confidentiality?

A: Haha*, well, something I’ve been working on that’s definitely more public is a novel called The Art of Letting Go, which is about this girl who loses someone very close to her and has to figure out how to move on.  I’m done writing it, but the revising stage is taking a lot of time and effort that I don’t really have at the moment.  It’s on hold until I finish college, which will hopefully be in March!  (When it’s done, though, I’m going to try and publish it through the traditional route.  Fingers crossed!)  The project hidden under FBI levels of confidentiality is currently in the brainstorming stage, and if I told you anymore besides that, I’d have to kill you**.
*Please note that such slang vocabulary does not reflect the serious, professional nature of the blog or the blog host.
**The interviewer had no desire to be killed, so he didn’t pursue this issue further.
 

N: You’re currently submitting Becoming Nicki as part of our December giveaway. Can you tell us more about that book?

A: Yes, I am! Becoming Nikki is about a girl who has this awful relationship with her brother, and after he loses his memory, she has to figure out whether to let everything stay the same or try to start anew. (Gosh, it’s been forever since I wrote a blurb on that novel. I started writing it when I was fifteen and published it on my twentieth birthday, and I’m turning twenty-two tomorrow*, so it’s been out of my mind for a while. I still love it, though.)
*Here, the interviewer pauses to wish the interviewee a happy birthday and to eat some cake.

N: You have ten seconds to choose your absolute favorite book from your bookshelf. Which one do you grab?

A: I’ve got the Bible app on my phone, so don’t you DARE try to judge me* for not grabbing that! I’d grab The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.  It’s not very well-known, but I’ve recommended it to all of my friends since I read it for the first time a few years ago.  It’s a retelling of Little Women and it’s about finding your way in the world – and it came to me at a time when I was trying to do just that, so it holds a very special place in my heart.  (And then I’d use the remaining six seconds to grab Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.)
*At this point, the interviewer wiggles his fingers judgmentally.

N: We all know being a writer is tough. Where do you find the most support or encouragement to keep going when things get hard?

A: Honestly? Pinterest. I don’t have very many writer friends, and Pinterest encouragement is available 24/7. I use it to brainstorm, I use it to encourage me, and I use it to file away all the ideas I get for later, when I’m in a writing slump or just need something quick to write when I need a creative outlet. It’s amazing and I love it dearly.

N: Have you ever had any fun, unusual, or memorable interactions with your readers? Care to share?

A: Not really… although it’s always great whenever somebody reviews my book (period), but especially whenever someone’s like “There’s no way you’re not a professional ice skater!”  I just smile and say, “Nope. I’ve been ice skating a lot, but I suck!” I love being able to allow my characters to do the things I can’t!

N: Random fun question to wrap up: if you could have written any well-known novel out there, which one would you put your name on? (Don’t worry, the real author won’t feel too bad!)

A: The Harry Potter series – or something like it.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have written something so universally adored by millions of people, connecting them through their mutual love for it?  #goals


Huge thanks to Ashley for taking the time to share her insights into her writing world! It’s been great fun, and be sure to go follow her blog! In the meantime, have a great day!

Stop, Drop, and Enter this Book Giveaway!

Everyone, stop what you’re doing this instant! (Unless you’re putting out a fire, giving birth, administering CPR, in court, or swimming away from a shark, in which case…carry on).

I’ve teamed up with a group of fabulous independent authors to host a December Book Giveaway. It’s simple: you have a few options for how to enter, and you can do any or all of them for a shot at winning one of eight ebooks! Who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

all-ebooks

Le Fancy Official Giveaway Link (You Know You Want to Click It)

Here’s a list of the Amazon links to each book in case you want more information! I regularly interact with a few of these authors as well, and they’re awesome people, so check out their blogs as well! All links open in new tabs.

Song of the Sword – by Hope Ann

Be Thou My Vision – by Faith Blum

Befriending the Beast – by Amanda Tero

Alen’s War – by Hannah Krynicki

Water Princess, Fire Prince – by Kendra E. Ardnek

The Wings of Antheon – by Ellyana J. Wenceslao

Becoming Nikki – by Ashley Elliott

Where the Woods Grow Wild – by Nate Philbrick (a.k.a. me!)

To get the most out of this giveaway period, which ends in just over two weeks, be sure to follow these folks on social media for upcoming interviews, new releases, and maybe even a pigeon crashing into your window (you never know!). In the meantime, good luck, and have a great day!

Oh, and tell all your friends to participate, too. Seriously, all of them. Even that one kid from grade school you haven’t seen in ten years and only know he’s a ventriloquist apprentice because you saw it on Facebook. Tell him, too.

In Case Of Book Sale, Break Glass

Not everyone knows how to react when a stranger (or even a friend) buys and reads their book. Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide so you know exactly what to do next time this happens to you.

Step 1: Panic

What? What is this? This can’t happen. I’ve been exposed. Compromised! Someone knows my name now! 

Step 2: Succumb to misery

They won’t like it. It’s not good enough. They have more followers than me on Twitter, and they’ll tell everyone how bad my book is. 

Step 3: Tell yourself everything will be okay

Maybe things won’t be that bad. They might like parts of it. After all, it’s not terrible, is it? 

Step 4: Engage in mild celebration

Yay…I guess. First book sale this month. So…things are looking up, you could say. *Tosses confetti on self* Probably clicked on it by accident, though. 

Step 5: Hope for the best

Well, who knows? If they do like it, maybe I’ll get a good review. Maybe they’ll recommend it to someone else. Fingers crossed! 

Step 6: Decide how to respond

Okay, so they tweeted about it. Should I favorite it? Thank them? Is that too arrogant? Do I tell them I hope they like it? No, it’s a book, a piece of my soul, not a snowcone. Better play it cool and not say anything. But…is it kosher to retweet? 

Step 7: Realize you have no idea what you’re doing anymore

It’s been fifteen minutes, and I haven’t moved a muscle. People around me are starting to look worried. If I had more sales I’d be better at this. 

Step 8: Repeat step 1

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Do we mistrust the self-pub market too much?

I made an early resolution to read more self-published books in 2016. I haven’t typically been an indie-reader. Partly because I’m picky, partly because I’m relatively broke, excuses, blah, etc.

I’ve seen a tendency towards distrust of self-published books, myself included. I’m often more hesitant to spend $1-$3 on an indie author’s work than I am to spend $10 on a traditionally published book.

Why is that? Right off the bat, the obvious reasons. Self-pubbed books typically go through fewer professional preparation stages, are more likely to fall short of market expectations/standards, and often lack the public backing necessary to convince me to buy them.

Not to mention the fact that out of 1,000,000 self-published novels, 999,000 are going to be, simply put, bad. That’s what happens when sites like Amazon make it so stinking easy to sell your work.

So when I’m looking at a self-pubbed book online, I ask myself if it’s one of the 999,000 stories not worth my money or one of the 1000 gems. You’d think the sample pages would be enough to answer that question, but I find that’s frequently not the case. I’ve read plenty of books so far where the writing/editing gets lazy halfway through.

And no, I don’t think it’s hypocritical of me to say this as an indie-author. As my first self-pubbed novel, I know Little One isn’t perfect, but I hold myself to the same standards as I’d hold any other writer to, and I aim to improve in that direction.

This brings me to my conclusion. Going back to my 2016 resolution, I will be buying (and hopefully finishing!) more indie-author books. Even if I end up with a dud now and then, I want to give my fellow self-publishers a vote of confidence because I understand we all want to provide solid fiction for our readers.

No book’s going to be perfect, not even traditionally published, major sales novels (there’s a lot of garbage there, too). So maybe it’s time for me to set aside my biases and discrepancies and put a little more trust in the indie market.

I’m still going to be a picky reader. That’s just the way I am, and I think it’s healthy to a degree.

But the self-published market has a lot of beautiful additions to it, and I’m not going to let the rock stop me from digging for the gems anymore.