Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Indie Author Survival Guide (Third Edition) - Ch 3.8 Have Faith In Your Work

This is an excerpt from the forth-coming Third Edition of the
Indie Author Survival Guide (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 1)
Second Edition is available now

The Guide should be read in tandem with
For Love or Money (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 2)

Join my Facebook Group (For Love or Money) for monthly consult giveaways!

Ch 3.8 Have Faith In Your Work

Sometimes a theme beats on my head.

I notice things. I'm sure most writers are this way: we pick up on signals in the world. A blog post here, a tweet there. A friend's complaint. A news item. Suddenly it shows up in the scribbled notations in my journal, tapping its way into my conscious thoughts: the idea that we have a unique vision as writers and that it's important to nurture that uniqueness.

We each tell our stories in our own way. This is almost cliché, except that it is also true. The deep truth in this statement is that our vision of the world can easily be squandered, wasted, thrown on rocky soil, if we do not nurture it.

By all means, study bestselling authors and practice, practice, practice your craft. But I promise you, the way those authors became bestsellers was by staying true to their vision of their work. Long before you become a bestseller, you—the aspiring author—need to respect and nurture your own uniqueness and vision of the world. It is your most treasured talent. It is the thing that makes you special, and in this business of creative work, uniqueness is the most valuable thing you possess.

Trying to be J.K. Rowling will rob you of the very thing that made J.K. who she is—a visionary.

Discovering your own vision is not easy. It's hard work, in fact, buried in the word mines where you will break apart unwieldy paragraphs to find the shining nuggets within. It's years of writing and crafting of words that helps you hone your ability to let your uniqueness be revealed.

This sounds very grandiose, full of hot air and nonsense, but let me assure you that understanding your story-vision is one of the most important things you can do.

When an agent says to you, I love your story, but could you just change these three characters and add a donkey? you need to have the strength of vision to say no. When an editor says to you, We love your writing style, but those (insert here) types of characters don't market well. Can you change it to (insert here)? you have to have the confidence in your story to say sorry, that doesn't work for me.

(Not to say that editors and agents won't offer brilliant suggestions. They will. But if you won't fight to keep the integrity of your story, then no one will. Only you can make sure that the heart of your story is not destroyed in the editing process.)

But I'm Indie Published…
So you don't have to listen to editors, right? Unless you hire them (which you probably should) or you barter with them (as you definitely should, swapping critiques with other writer friends). For indie authors, the challenge is to know which advice to listen to and which to turn away with a polite thank you for your help. And this can be difficult, my friends, even when the guillotine of a publishing contract isn't hanging over your head—because you want to write the best story you can, but conflicting advice can be hard to parse. And then there's your own nagging head, saying, Maybe I should write a 50 Shades of Grey story, because those sell. Or No one will ever buy the kinds of stories I like to write. (I talk more about this in my book, For Love or Money.)

Have Faith In Your Work
Sometimes the most difficult part of writing a story is believing in it. Not believing that every word that drops off your fingertips is awesome, but knowing that eventually you can make the story into something worth reading. Here are my tips on how to build that faith into your work.

I Can Fix That
Learn your craft with the zeal of a lioness after a zebra. Or a young man after the girl of his dreams. Or a monk fervently seeking to know his God. (Pick the analogy that works for you.) Learn how to craft fine sentences, even better stories, and invent characters, settings, and image systems for your novel. These are the tools of your trade, and when you have a secure handle on them, you will be able to say to any criticism or self-doubt, I can fix that.

Write a Crappy First Draft
I hand out this advice frequently. I just read a quote about Pixar, a company famous for making very high quality films. In essence, it said that everything awesome, starts out crappy, and you have to trust your process. I have to remind myself of this every, single time I start a new story. It doesn't flow off the fingertips awesome; I have to make it that way in revisions. 

Nail Down Your Fears With A Steak Knife
When I was drafting Third Daughter, my steampunk fantasy romance (now rebooted as a sweet royal romance), I had recurring bouts of terror because 1) I loved steampunk, but I really had no idea what it was, 2) I was writing 19th century Indian Steampunk in an alternate universe, which apparently only three other people in the known universe have done, and 3) I wasn't feeling the voice for a long time. It was really the last one that scared me. So, I sat down and free wrote until I realized my fear was that this story would take more research than I expected, and I didn't have time to do that and write the story. I pinned that fear to the table with my pen, went to the library for some research materials, and forged ahead. In other words, I trusted my process, which at the moment was demanding more research. I also trusted that the voice would eventually come, if I kept working it (it did, but not until the third draft). 

Having faith in your work. Believing you can fix the work until it lines up with your vision. Nailing down your fears and forging ahead anyway. These are the things that will allow you to reveal your uniqueness to the world—something I believe is a vitally important part of your happiness as a writer, as well as your future success in the marketplace.

Now, go forth and believe in yourself. Next we'll talk about taking that Leap Of Faith in making your vision come true.

This is an excerpt from the forth-coming Third Edition of the
Indie Author Survival Guide (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 1)
Second Edition is available now

The Guide should be read in tandem with
For Love or Money (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 2)

Join my Facebook Group (For Love or Money) for monthly consult giveaways!

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