Thursday, June 28, 2018

What Are Your Thoughts On This New Column?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The Indie Author Series launched in January 2014, and since then, we’ve had more than 200 in-depth articles about navigating the self publishing world. It’s been a fantastic info-packed run, but it’s getting more and more difficult for my contributing authors to come up with topics and share new information every week. There’s only so much to talk about. I think it’s time to start thinking about how to revamp this column for 2019 (or even sooner if my authors and guests are excited about the change).

One of the things I’ve always liked about the Indie Author Series, is that it focused on the business side of writing. It was a place for indie authors to turn to for tips and advice on how to handle their careers and author businesses. I’d like to continue with that concept, but expand it to more than just indie authors—especially since a lot of what’s been shared applies to both indie and traditionally published authors. For example, no matter how you publish these days, you’re still responsible for a significant part (if not all) of your marketing and promotion. Both publishing options build a reader audience and gather subscribers for a newsletter. The business side overlaps a lot.

I’d also like to start including the challenges of being a writer and an author, with tips such as how to manage your time, where to find critique groups and author co-ops, how to manage your career, how to deal with deadline pressures, etc., as well as dealing with the struggles a new writer goes through while writing that first novel or even sending out that first query letter.

I’m thinking something along the lines of “The Writers’ Life Series,” focusing on everything writing related but craft topics, since the rest of the site is dedicated to that (I’m open to better titles if you have any).

So for now, I’d love to hear some thoughts and ideas from you guys on:
  • Do you like this idea?
  • What types of things would you love to know more about?
  • What are the non-craft things you have struggled with as a writer and author?
  • What challenges do you face that you could use some help with?
  • What author business problems do you face?
  • What have you had trouble finding more information about?
  • What type of column would you like to see?
I’m also curious how interested you are in personal journey stories and inspirational pieces. Do you enjoy the occasional pep talk? Does it motivate or resonate with you to hear about another writer’s struggle to get published?

I’ll use your comments and feedback to shape this new column and provide topic ideas and suggestions for guest authors and contributors. If you’re not comfortable sharing thoughts in the comments, feel free to email me at janice @ janicehardy . com (delete the spaces).

And if you think you’d like to contribute when it switches over, let me know.

Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The ShifterBlue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The Shifter, was chosen for the 2014 list of "Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read" from the Georgia Center for the Book. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize (2011), and The Truman Award (2011). She also writes the Grace Harper urban fantasy series for adults under the name, J.T. Hardy.

She's the founder of Fiction University and has written multiple books on writing, including Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It)Plotting Your Novel: Ideas and Structureand the Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft series. 
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  1. I love this idea. I've been writing all my life, but am a year into making a career out of it while still raising four young children (some of whom have special needs). It is hard to balance all the things while still developing my craft and having the time and mental energy to write. I have a manuscript in progress (I'm starting to line edit and revise, plus filling in holes I wrote around the during the first draft) and I can have a few productive days or weeks followed by no time to work or write. I hear others talk about working every day for hours and wonder if I'm just an imposter. I'd like to hear from others who are balancing life and work from home like this (especially since I don't get paid for my time yet). I've enjoyed learning about the business side of things, but I'm not there yet. The recent articles on crit groups and so forth have been helpful to me, and I'm interested in learning more. I have a writing partner at the moment, but she isn't a crit partner yet, we just bounce ideas off each other when we get stuck and try to write together once a week for a few hours. It is enormously helpful.

    Thanks for all the great articles and help--I've read your books (and have the revision book waiting for me to get to!) and have gotten so much from them. I love the Bob and Sally examples because they are so clear and help me to clean up my own writing. Thanks for everything on this site!

    1. Aw, thanks so much. Writing partners are just as valuable as crit partners. I have a few I call whenever I get stuck and we work through things, too. And vice versa of course.

      I'm going to have to get some posts from "parent authors" who write with the kids around. This is definitely an issue I see writers struggling with.

  2. Yes, I like the idea.

    There were a couple of things that came to mind for me:

    I'm not sure how to put it though - unusual ways to market/promote your books? I mean, everyone knows the 'conventional wisdom' of indie book marketing. Do freebies, grow a list, join every FB on the planet, tweet, pray you can someday afford a bookbub promo, right? But to be honest, for me, most of that just isn't me. It feels phony and put on. I'd love to find a way to promote that feels like me and natural. And not a system, because we are all different people and writers and would feel differently toward our readers. Sorry, if that isn't very clear.

    Also, another idea might just be a reader tip post weekly? Ask your readers to send in something they do that works for them. A kind of tip swap? I think it would be fun to see what others are doing that works for them. Maybe something I do would work for someone else and vice versa.

    Sorry if this doesn't make sense, it's still early and on my first cup of joe.

    1. Makes total sense, because I'm a bit like that. I dislike anything too "salesy" even though it's the way you do things.

      Ooo, I like the tip swap.

  3. I LOVE this idea, Janice!! Since I have recently signed a contract, I need help with future marketing issues: how to promote my book, connecting with others authors writing in the kidlit genre so we can market each other (blog tours, interviews, social media), etc. Anything along those lines would be great, as well as all the above you’ve mentioned. It’s something I’ve been mulling around for my ‘brand’ or focus, since I, too, want to share my writer’s journey with others to inspire, educate and encourage my fellow authors. Kudos to you!🤓

    1. Thanks! There's a lot of that already on the site, so check that out on the indie author page (in the TOC on the left). But more will certainly come. I have some ideas on how to make what's here more accessible, so hopefully you'll see that soon. I'm still organizing how to break it all down into logical "round up" pages.

  4. Great idea, all of your columns are insightful.

  5. I like personal stories and pep talks. Seems like pep talks is what I need most.

    1. Thanks! It would add a nice mix, I think.

  6. I like your ideas about exploring the business side. Hearing success stories and failures puts a human side into every story. Pep talks never hurt. As always, you have great ideas.

    1. Thanks! Many folks are speaking out for personal stories, so those will definitely be o the list.

  7. That would be great. Go for it.

  8. I like the sound of The Writers Life content. Personal journey and pep talk - yep. It's good to have a mixture of topics.

    Personally, my struggle is knowing what agents and publishers want.

    1. I think so, too. Keep things fresh.

      Oh, that's the same struggle we all have (grin). Actually, I just did a workshop with an editor who mentioned a site she was on that focused on that. I can't remember the name right now, but I'll look it up. The editor was Kait Feldmann, so if you Google her, you can probably see it. (and duh, why don't I got do that right now?)

      Okay, it's The Official Manuscript wish List. Here's the link:

      I haven't explored it yet, but it looks like it'll help :)

  9. That's a great idea for a column. I'm looking forward to it :)

  10. You're proposed ideas sound great to me!

  11. 'The Writer's Life' with a mix of industry/business info, pep talks/ writer's journey, reader tip swap, forming effective writing habits etc sounds great!

    Part of the reason I always thought I'd like to be traditionally published is because I wasn't sure what to do when it came to self publishing - there was so much information one so many websites. However, the Indie author series was fascinating and gave me the confidence that should I choose to self publish (or need to help market my books or myself with a trad publisher) I could follow the step by step guides on this website.

    Like many writers I struggle to balance life and writing. I'm fortunate to be on maternity leave which means I don't have to add paid work into the mix... Just house chores and busy little people! I've enjoyed the positive articles acknowledging the struggles of carving out writing time and staying motivated no matter what your 'real life' situation is. More tips on how to achieve this are always welcome!

    The articles on forming effective writing habits have been interesting and very useful. (My writing cue is now a cup of tea and the same instrumental piece from Game of Thrones... As one friend put it, 'so you've Pavlov's dogged yourself into writing'!)

    Different authors' processes always fascinate me and I find it reassuring that the one thing they all have in common is re-drafting, re-writing and sticking with it.

    Thank you for sharing such great info on so many writerly topics for so long. Whenever I'm stuck I know there'll be multiple articles and suggestions to 'unstick' my story at your website.

    I'm looking forward to the new column.