Be brave. Be bold. Be a writer

At a recent Indie Authors meeting we were discussing with a group of first time authors about publishing our books and building our audience. What surprised me was how many of them had not told their friends and family that they had even written a book.

We had several writers who were close to publishing their books and now wondering how they would find the courage to tell their nearest and dearest about their great achievement. These writers didn’t seem to worry quite so much about the general public reviewing their books, but they were scared of what reaction they would get from people who knew them.

The discussion then changed to one about vulnerability. Our writers felt vulnerable as they were opening up a side of themselves that they had kept hidden. Fear of what their friends would think about their writing had created emotional turmoil and a lot of procrastination.  Maybe you have been there too?

Our mindset creates our reality and the stories we tell ourselves can either help or hinder. This group of writers were telling themselves all sorts of scary stories – “my friends will think I’m different”; “they won’t like me when they read this”; “what if they think it’s terrible”; “they don’t know about this side of me - they’ll think I’m weird!”

Their vulnerability was so close to the surface I could see it. We can all feel vulnerable – it’s when we open up our hearts, minds and voices to others with no guarantee that it will go well. We take chances every day - to ask for help; to ask someone out on a date; to say I love you; to apply for a job; to create a business or to write a book!

Creative people share their vulnerability with the world, whether you write, paint, design, build or make music you are sharing what is inside of you. It’s your baby that you are sharing and you hope that people won’t say it’s ugly! But what if it’s beautiful? What if the world loves your book?

Fear can keep us stuck in a small place. Fear of success can be as strong as the fear of failure. Is your fear of being vulnerable stopping you from letting go of your book? Are you afraid of it not being perfect so keep changing and editing it?

In times of fear we could all do with someone to hold our hand and tell us it will be ok. To encourage us to be brave and take a leap of faith. To remind us that the other side of fear is joy. This is a role that I play with our authors as they progress along the path to publication; but maybe this group would also find that their friends would do that too.

Sharing the thoughts and feelings with the group loosened their power. The writers realised that they were not alone. They also explored that they could write another version of their mind story – “what if they love it”; “what if they have secretly wanted to write too and never had the courage to start”; “what if they are so proud of me”; “what if they want to help share my book”; “what if …”

If you are feeling fear about publishing your book, embrace your vulnerability and be brave – you could experience your own magic and help others too.


Indie Authors are the Rebel Alliance

Last month, I (Kim) attended the Publishing Scotland annual book trade conference.  It was a very interesting event – I experienced a full range of emotions from blood boiling rage to cheering optimistically on the sidelines.

Keynote speaker Andrew Franklin, MD of Profile Books described self-publishing authors as a weakness as he explored a SWOT analysis of the publishing industry. In his words “all self publishing is dross as they don’t do what we (real publishers) do! They don’t edit, design good covers, layout book interiors properly or market their books.  In fact – they all would love to be published by you guys (real publishers).”  Yes you guessed this is the point my blood was boiling!

Professional Indie writers know full well what is required to publish a book.  SO yes Andrew – we do all of the above and more.  Not only that but we do it with limited budgets but we often produce a much better result than some of the “real guys”.

Publishing Scotland, Chief Exec’s opening remarks were “publishing needs to explore new ways of doing business”.  So why are Indie’s seen as a weakness?  Are we really still viewed as a joke and somehow belittling the world of books?

Industry figures suggest that the average adult in the UK only buys 2 books a year and we have a high rate of illiteracy (17%) among our population. If this is true then the work of top professional Indie Author Stuart Reid should be applauded.  Stuart takes his fun loving workshops to schools as he encourages kids to read books.  His Reading Rocks events have captured the imagination of kids,teachers and parents. His entrepreneurial approach allows him to earn a living while playing his part in improving literacy rates.

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Mr Franklin, is one of the industry dinosaurs who has no understanding of the quality of the work being produced by professional Indie Authors.  Not only that – he is delusional to think that all authors want a publishing deal.
The author is the heart of our business – was a repeated theme at the conference.  Yet there was only one author speaking as part of a panel at the conference.  That author was Scottish crime writer, Lin Anderson, who spoke in defence of self publishing.  She is a hybrid author – who has both traditional and self-published works.  She raised a very valid point about author earnings.  The average earnings of a writer in the UK is £11,000 a year.  This is well below the living wage!  Lin gets paid every month from her self-published work – money straight into her bank account.  She needs to eat too and even ALDI don’t work on I’ll pay you when my publisher decides that royalties will be paid.

So Mr Franklin – please explain why would I want a publishing deal?

A highlight of the conference was the presentation by Steve Bohme of Nielsen.  I would never have guessed that “The Key Retail Market Trends 2014/15” would have me laughing and cheering.  (No, I never had any alcohol before this.)  You will have to wait until next month to get some of the figures from the content of the presentation but Steve pulled off a fab floor show.  Bookwars VI – A New Hope was the title and he used the Star Wars theme really well to explain the current state of the industry.

Good news for all Indie Authors out there – we were seen as the good guys!  We are the Rebel Alliance who are challenging and defeating the Imperial forces (the traditional book world).  In fact self-published books sales have increased to 22% of the UK eBook market and are helping to generate growth in book sales worldwide.

So we maybe aren’t such a weakness in the system after all!