5 Things Every Writer Should Know About Self-Publishing.

Since the rise of sites like Smashwords and Amazon in 2007-08, self-publishing quickly became the go-to for many authors who could not get a deal with Trad or Indie publishing houses. Soon, the lure of doing it yourself and keeping all the profit skyrocketed in the self-publishing world, and now millions of books are unleashed to the world every year.

Yet as thousands of new authors soon realise, it ain’t as easy as it looks, so here are five things every writer should know about Self-Publishing. Note; this is ALL from my years of experience.

1. You have to do EVERYTHING: I do mean everything. Without the support of a publisher, authors are left to find and pay for editors, cover designers, formatters and everything that goes into marketing and promoting a book. This can cost you thousands of dollars. At the onslaught of the self-publishing wave back in 2010, book covers for SP books were amateurish and sloppy. You could pick out an SP author from the thousands of books that were released every month. It quickly became adherent that if you wanted to compete with the big boys, you had to look like them, and that meant a cover and everything in between. Authors 

2. No real deadlines: There are a few advantages to doing it yourself, but the biggest one (and the one I like the most) is no set deadline. Authors can choose when their books come out and can push back a release date if they’re not ready. Try being a new author and telling your Trad publisher that the deadline they gave you just isn’t going to work.

3. Expect your book to be swallowed up: I don’t know how many times I see authors upset that their first book is not being seen, especially first-time authors. There are, on average, close to two million books self-published each year, and it’s a slow process to find a steady audience who will buy your books. This is where promotions come into play. Promoting your story is a part of your writing career, and people expect you to do some. I write books in genres that aren’t really popular, so I don’t get a lot of traction, and I’m fine with that, but be warned that even if you write in a ‘hot’ genre, you’re still going to find it difficult. Be patient and write that next book. Having a catalogue of stories helps out and will help with #4. One tip; don’t spam social media for sales. Nothing will get you ignored faster, and how are you going to sell books if everyone is ignoring you?

4. You won’t get rich.  This goes hand-in-hand with #3. As soon as people realised you could make money writing books, everyone started doing it, and there were a lot of scams out there, and Amazon was ripe with them, which is why I will never make any of my books exclusive to that platform. There is an unrealistic ideal that if you write a book, you’re set for life. You’re not, as a matter of fact, it may take you dozens of books and constant sales before that dream actually happens. You have to be realistic about this. Here’s a good article on the subject. https://medium.com/real-life-resilience/heres-why-so-many-writers-fail-7bdb5d647e4c

5. More rewarding – Yes, you have to do everything yourself. Yes, you will easily spend more to put your book together than you earn, and there is a good chance a handful of people will see your novel and even fewer will purchase it, and yes, there will be constant anxiety about promotions and marketing, but at the end of it all when you look online and see your novel for sale there is something incredibly rewarding about it. YOU did that. That story came from YOUR imagination, and you worked on it for months, if not years, and how many people in your life can say they wrote a book? That is your small chunk of immortality, my friend. Something that will stay around as long as the internet exists.

The Crystal Realm: Crystals for Depression.

At this time of year, with less sunlight and colder temperatures, it’s easy for some of us to become depressed. There’s a study that shows that seasonal depression is a real thing and it affects millions of people around the world, but there are some subtle ways to help combat this intrusive psychological disorder.

***DISCLAIMER-THIS IS NOT MEANT AS A TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION BUT AS A COMPANION IF YOU ALREADY TAKE MEDICATION. DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION.***

Depression can manifest in different ways and to different degrees. The most common way to use crystals is by breaking the cycle or shifting one’s thought patterns. This is not something that will happen overnight, and like most self-help practices, it does take some time to train yourself on how to use them. Some people sense a shift or a calmer feeling right away but don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t happen to you. The key is consistency. Keep working with the stones, allow their energy to help you.

All the crystals that I listed I found on several sites. These sites can explain better than I, how these stones work, and they all recommend the same ones. You don’t have to purchase them all, but chose the ones that best fit how you’re feeling.

Tiny Rituals – https://tinyrituals.co/blogs/tiny-rituals/crystals-for-depression-16-stones-to-clear-the-mind

Village Rock Shop – https://www.villagerockshop.com/blog/crystals-stones-for-depression/

1. Carnelian

2. Smoky Quartz

3. Lepidolite

4. Red Jasper

5. Snowflake Obsidian

6. Citrine

7. Malachite

8. Clear Quartz

9. Tiger’s Eye

10. Amethyst

11. Rose Quartz

12. Blue Agate

13. Black Tourmaline

14. Adventurine

15. Moonstone

16. Obsidian

17. Shungite

18. Sunstone

A Wiccan Journey: A New Version of the Goddess’ Consort.

Recently I started revamping my rituals, going through them one at a time and revising my connection to each one. This month I want to look at the male energy of paganism, better known as the Holly King and the Oak King.

Pagan belief is that the Holly King is consort to the Goddess from the summer solstice to the winter solstice, and the Oak King is her consort from winter to summer. It’s seen as two separate Gods; brother and rivals, but the more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to feel that, like the Goddess, the God goes through changes as well. I despise the ‘endless battle’ myth as it comes off as being one-dimensional and violent. Ancient cultures connected the volatile change in the season as a battle, but there is something inherently negative in that myth.

Not only that, as someone who has been married for close to thirty years to the same man, I can tell you males change, so why can’t that be reflected in the male energy? We worship the three aspects of womanhood; the maid, the mother and the crone, and the Goddess’ role changes as the wheel of the year progresses, so why not the same for the God. Instead of proclaiming that the Holly King ‘dies’ or loses the ‘battle against the Oak King, why not have him change WITH her; have the Holly King BECOME the Ivy King instead?

Going forward with this, I plan on focusing on the God as being transformative instead of separate. Two sides to the same coin. His energy changes as the year progress to compliment the Goddess, to stand by her side. Researching this has been difficult because I haven’t found one site that explains in detail what exactly are the male energies for each. For this new understanding, I would have to base the height of their power on the Summer and Winter Solstices – winter for the dark side, and summer for the light side, having their change begin at the spring and fall solstice. This is going to be very difficult. Unlearning a mindset that I’ve had for decades, but I am up for the challenge!

Bored Gen X’er – Tavern Master.

Have you ever wanted to own and operate a medieval tavern? Of course you have! Well, now you can!

Tavern Master is an early access game that allows you to do just that. You can sell six different beverages, cook soups, main course, and deserts, and rent out rooms. The nicer the room, the more money. The skills tree is pretty simple and you can decorate with wall and floor items. There’s not a lot in the way of décor, but it’s still early access. You can host gatherings and send mercenaries out for specific food items that you’ll need to host these lavish parties.

The creator recently added weather, and it has so much potential. I’d like to see a town build up around the tavern instead of it being on the outskirts of a castle. Time will tell.

Like all these medieval games, I play for relaxation and listen to the music but it doesn’t have a lot of variety in that department. You can see photos of the game HERE.

The Green Side of Life: Hoya or Wax Plant.

There are two house plants that always remind me of my grandmother – wax plants and African Violets, but the wax plant in particular brings memories of her. I remember when I was very young, looking over the beautiful, small flowers on her plant and wondering if they were real or not. I don’t know what happened to her plant when she passed. I don’t think it came home with us because I have no memories of it later in life.

We bought a wax plant a few months ago, and right away, all those memories came back. It hasn’t flowered yet, but I can hardly wait until it does. I’m torn between letting the branches fall or winding them up with the short hook that came with the plant. I put it in a west-facing window, and now that the sunlight is weaker, it’ll still do well.

See pictures HERE.

Apparently, this plant will become enormous. I want to see that. I may end up having to hang it from the ceiling after all. It’s a tropical plant, but I keep it on the same watering schedule as the rest and it seems to like it.  If it develops any flowers I’ll post them on IG. If you’re interested in learning more about the Hoya, or Wax Plant, I found a site that has really good information on the different varieties and how to look after them. You can read up on them HERE.

Of Writers and Prose: Are writing hashtags worth the effort?

For years, writers have been told to add hashtags to just about everything they post on social media. The belief is that hashtags allow writers to find one another, support one another, and be included in conversations on these platforms within the writing community. Hashtags are a great way to find support for whatever you need and a good way to find others who share the same likes. Genre hashtags are no different, and they help hundreds of writers who love a specific type of genre feel like they’re part of something bigger. A place where they can gather and chat about the books they read and write.

Everything has a hashtag now, and I mean everything. On some social media, it’s the only way to find the content you want. I find using them helps to keep the crap at a minimum, especially on sites like TikTok and makes using these platforms more enjoyable as both a user and creator. The use of hashtags has grown over the years and unfortunately, not in a good way. Scroll through a writing one on Twitter and you’ll see they have de-evolved into a spam-fest stream of nothing but promotions. I followed a writing hashtag for close to two months, and ninty percent were nothing but authors promoting their books, blogs, or posts on other social media.

What happened to the exchange of ideas and communication that they were supposed to inspire?

I see creators using so many hashtags in their posts that it’s longer than their actual post. I understand wanting to be seen as much as possible, but do you know how UNINVITING this makes the posts look? Which is the exact opposite of what you you’re trying to do. I see these over-used hashtag posts and scroll right on by, because it tells me that the creator has no interest in actually engaging with the community. That they don’t care. Another over-use is how some posts are tagged to content that has nothing to do with their post. Again, trying to be seen, and again, only makes them invisible.

In order to sell books, writers need to promote, I understand that, and writing communities on social media are a great way to meet people, but when those same outlets become congested with spam, where does the community come in? I’m not saying to stop using hashtags, just the opposite, but think about why you’re using them. Are you reciprocating? Are you interacting with the community? I’ve been interacting with the community hashtag?

I stopped interacting with communities for years because of this problem, and only recently started again. I’ve had some great, albeit short, conversations with other writers, but I’m not going to lie, all the ‘shameless self promotion’ and ‘lifts’ are enough to drive me away and never look back.  

Think about this the next time you use a hashtag, and ask yourself why aren’t you getting any traction with that latest book promo or blog post. There’s a reason. People are tuning out. Give them a reason to tune in.

Writing Update: October 2022.

Three things have dominated my October, and that’s Ghost Book 2, Malice web novel and the Strong Women, Strange Worlds season 2 podcast.

First things first.

Ghost Story

Ghost Book 2 is coming along. I’ve got the first couple of chapters written, and only doing 500 words per day is an easy goal to keep. When November starts, I’ll upload that word count and keep going. The next couple of months is incredibly busy for me, and this is the only way I can do NaNoWriMo. I originally wrote it back when erotica was all the rage but was never really happy with it, so I revised the manuscript and removed the sexy scenes and anything to do with that plot, but I still didn’t like it. The whole thing just fell apart, so I put it away, but now that I’ve finished Ghost Book 1, I’ve turned my attention to it again, hoping to make it more creepy, and a big part of that has to do with the house. An old abandoned Victorian house. The main character, Mercy Moreau, owns (with her asshole ex) this old Victorian mansion on an island that is full of ghosts. This house is run down, has been used for other purposes besides a home, and will be the focal point of the story. I need to make sure this place is creepy, so I went looking for pictures of abandoned Victorian homes online and discovered a rabbit hole of videos on YouTube of people who actually go into these places and record it! Oh yeah, I’m in my glory.

Web Novel

Two chapters down, and chapter three looks to be an intense one. The Malice recruits are in the dead city, but they’re not alone, AND someone dies!

Doing this web novel is an experiment, and so far, I’m not impressed with the results. The two sites I have them up on, Wattpad and Royal Road, are dominated by Anime or paranormal romance, and my story gets barely any traction. Even when I advertise it in the forum. I put up a post in RR that, even though it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, blah, blah, blah, hoping it would get some views, but nada. I chose these two sites because they were the only ones I felt semi-comfortable with, and it’s beginning to look as if these places are only meant for those two genres.

I can hear you now, do I participate and read their stories? I tried on RR, but out of the half dozen I started (before giving up on all of them), just didn’t interest me or were so amateurish I couldn’t read them, and I’ve yet to find anything interesting on Wattpad. I will continue to post on both until the end of the fourth chapter, then everything gets posted online on my Patreon. I’ll keep the Wattpad account and delete my account on RR. It’s been close to six months since I started this and I feel its time to move on.

Strong Women, Strange Words podcast.

Season two is almost in the bag! I have a couple more interviews, and then I can finish off my post-production. I had a few authors back out due to personal things, but that’s fine. Life happens, and we have to accommodate where we can, and they said they’d be up to doing one for season 3.

I’m feeling more at ease this season. I think I’ve got a good handle on this. I’ve changed the music to be the same as the Quick Reads, so it’s more of a connection to the site. I’m changing the date as well. Season two will start on January 9th, 2023, so when you wake up on that Monday morning, and you’re heading into work after the holidays, tune in and listen to some great segments!

What’s on the Ereader? Not what I intended.

I had this post all ready to go, but the day I scheduled it, I made up my mind – I didn’t finish the book. I couldn’t. It was a very lackluster story that just trudged along. I went looking for reviews, thinking maybe others who have read it could convince me to continue, but it did the opposite. I haven’t stopped reading a book in a long time and it bothers me.

I truly didn’t know what to make of this story. I’ve had it for a couple of months and I was on chapter 14. The premise was interesting; the poles are about to flip and a group of scientists race to confirm their findings and study the effect, but I was nine chapter in and nothing really happened. Some frogs mutated and a couple people died. That’s it. I put it down for a week because I wasn’t sure if I would continue to read it, but I started again because I kept hoping it would get better. At chapter fourteen I gave up. I had half the book finished but nothing about it excited me and I can’t keep reading, no matter how many chapters in, if the story no longer interests me. I’m not posting the title out of respect for the author. I just wasn’t a fan of the book.

From the Recipe Box: It’s Comfort Food Season!

With the price of everything going up, I want to save money in any way I can. One of those ways is preparing one-dish meals, and with it being comfort food season, I have plenty of recipes to try out. The best thing, I will use the slow cooker, so not only am I making yummy food but not using the stove or oven will save us money.

I love my slow cooker, and I can make so much and freeze what’s left over. That’s what I did with the chicken and corn chowder I made as part of my Mabon celebration. One-pot meals are perfect for busy days when I may not have time to cook a meal or I want to be lazy. Just throw everything into the slow cooker and leave it alone. That was one habit I had to break when we used it the first time; to resist the urge to lift that lid and see how the meal was progressing. Hubby would say to me each time I went out into the kitchen, “Don’t lift that lid!” It took a while, but I managed to suppress the urge. Sometimes.

The weather dropped slowly here, but now it’s cooler, and I’m geared up to cook. I have two recipes that I want to make to start off the season, chilli and chicken and dumplings. I’ve never made either, so I am excited. Chilli is always too spicy for me but I know I have to put some in otherwise, it’s just spaghetti sauce with kidney beans. Dumplings, on the other hand, worry me. What if they don’t turn out? What if they’re overcooked or worse, undercooked? Cooking bread in a slow cooker is new to me, and it’s a big part of this recipe.

I think it boils down to what will everyone else continue to eat? If I make enough for leftovers, will they be eaten? That’s a big problem in our house. I am starting to freeze things more, but some things don’t freeze well.

Okay, so what will it be?

Chilli?

Chicken and dumplings?

Five Things Every Writer Should Know About Small Press Publishers.

This is a very special blog post for me because I reached out to several small publishers to get their take on this topic, and I wanted to thank Tyke Books [ https://www.tychebooks.com ] for participating.

Small and Indie presses are excellent alternatives to Trad publishing and have put out award-winning novels time and time again, which is why I asked for some input instead of trying to write this myself.  

Margaret Curelas from Tyke Books tells us that the work doesn’t stop once the book is published, so here’s 5 things every writer should know about publishing with small or Indie press.

1. Getting published is half the battle.

Congratulations, you finished your book! You wrote it, you’ve edited it, you’ve shed blood and tears over it. And now, it’s been accepted for publication or you’re publishing it yourself. Whew. You can relax now, right? Turns out, no. I’ve known authors who believed that having a book published was The End, that nothing came after–that books magically sold on their own. Publishing the book is half the battle; to *sell* your book, you’ll need to do more work.

2. So … what is that “more work” exactly?

Marketing and promotion! Find a social media platform you’re comfortable with and start showing off that book. Even if you’re published with a small (or large) press, you, as the author, will be expected to do some promotional work. Explore online advertising. And not just Facebook ads, but ebook newsletters, like Bookbub, to pick a not random example at all. Check and see if your city or region has writing conferences or conventions or other in-person (or online!) events. Get out there and meet people. Sell that book.

3. It’s hard work and not always fun.

It’s not your imagination that publishing and everything associated with it (marketing, bookkeeping, administrative tasks, and *gasp* talking to people) is hard work. You may even loathe some of the tasks. That’s normal! The trick is to balance the tasks you do enjoy with the scut work. Don’t believe that because you don’t like Task X that you’re not cut out for this career. Nobody enjoys all the work associated with their job.

4. The more, the merrier (or, misery loves company).

People with normal 9 to 5 jobs don’t understand what we do, not really. (Some people believe I have a printing press in my basement. I’m not joking.) But like any job, the work is easier when you have colleagues to share triumphs with, or go to for advice. Find your people! Befriend other writers, or join or form a writing group. 

5. Write the next book.

Your book is out and you’re marketing it. Great! But now what do you do? Write the next book. A new book is a fantastic way to sell the old book. If you’re unsure what to do next, work on the new book. Don’t get so caught up in marketing that you neglect writing! After all, your readers will want something new to read, and you will enjoy a new project. Alternatively, if you’re just starting out, *finish* your book. Don’t revise the first chapter ad nauseum. Do that later, when the book is done.

Bonus: Imposter Syndrome is a real thing. It’s scary and horrible and nearly everyone you meet also struggles with it. You’re not alone and you are a real writer! No matter what your inner voice says.

I second everything Ms. Curelas said, and it shows that a career in writing is not a fly-by-night, cash-cow. You have to truely love what you do to see you through the rough times.

Thank you again, Ms. Curelas.  

M.L.D. Curelas lives in Calgary, Canada, with two humans and a varying number of guinea pigs. Raised on a diet of Victorian literature and Stephen King, it’s unsurprising that she now writes and edits fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent short fiction appears in the anthology Sherlock Holmes: Further Adventures in the Realms of H.G. Wells. Margaret is also the owner of Tyche Books, a Canadian small-press which publishes science fiction and fantasy.

You can find Tyche Books HERE. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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